3 Takeaways from my Trip to Austin
I’m writing this back in London, where the weather’s turning beautiful. The almost-final-draft of the book is with the copy-editor as we speak, and we’re working on finalising the cover, typography and interior design this week – I’ll keep you updated as to how things are going 😊 It’s been an almost 3 years since the Book Journey officially started, and the end is in sight.
Anyway, I wanted to talk this week about some major mind-blowing moments I had during the Kajabi conference in Austin last week. Kajabi is the platform we use to host our online courses – they invited me along to their conference to give a keynote about “The Secrets Behind our $1.9m Course Launch”. Around half our team came along as well (Angus, Bhav, Tommy, Alison, Jakub, Saf) – great vibes all around. We attended the conference, hung out with a bunch of creator friends, and hosted our first US meetup for students and alumni of the Part-Time YouTuber Academy (btw, we’re releasing the new version of the course in July, so click here to join the waiting list if you’re interested in starting or growing your YouTube channel).
Anyway, let’s talk about the mind-blowing moments from the conference. And they mostly centre around a chap called Brendon Burchard.
I discovered Brendon’s work around a year ago, and I was immediately floored by how thoughtful and inspiring it was. Brendon’s been in the “thought-leader” industry for 15 years, and in that time he’s written a bunch of NYT bestselling books, makes a tonne of money from his online courses, and has impacted millions of people around the world. In other words, he’s doing the thing that I’m trying to do, but he’s several steps ahead in the journey.
It’s always interesting to see someone who’s literally on the same “career” trajectory as you are, but further ahead. When I worked as a doctor and was gunning for Plastic Surgery as my speciality of choice, I loved hanging out with trainee plastic surgeons – people who were 3-10 years ahead of where I was. I learned so much from them, that I wouldn’t have learned from a Google search about “How to match into a Plastic Surgery residency / training programme”. And seeing the people ahead of me in the journey made me think “huh, this is the path I’m on, and these people are ahead of me along the path. Assuming I turn out like these people did, do I like where this path seems to go?”
As you might know, I ultimately made the decision to step away from Medicine as my main gig, and switched over to this online-internet-thought-leader-educator-influencer-YouTuber thing that I do now. But since doing so, I’ve had very few “role-models” – people a few steps (or many steps) ahead of me on the journey. I’ve had in the back of my mind that I want to aim to be some combination of Tim Ferriss meets Ryan Holiday meets Cal Newport meets Austin Kleon meets Will MacAskill meets Derek Sivers. When I imagine what my career would look like in the future, it’s some combination of inspiration from these six gentlemen.
But one thing that’s been missing from the “What does my career look like in the future” question is the monetisation issue. Tim Ferriss made most of his money from investing in early stage startups. Derek Sivers sold a startup for $20 million and now doesn’t care about money. Ryan Holiday has made millions from writing books and selling coins. Cal Newport writes books and works as a professor. Austin Kleon writes books and makes art. Will MacAskill doesn’t care about making money, and donates everything he earns above like £28k per year to effective charities.
None of these methods or philosophies about monetisation have fully vibed with me. They all partly vibe with me, but not fully. I’d love to end up where Will’s at, where I donate all my money beyond a certain threshold, but I’m not there yet. Maybe one day my startup investments will make me rich, but probably not. And I don’t imagine I’ll sell enough books for that to be my main source of income.
But then I discovered Brendon Burchard. This guy (a) writes great books, (b) speaks at conferences and seminars, (c) sells online courses, (d) coaches cool people 1:1, (e) is building personal development software, and (f) seems to live a balanced life where he’s making a ridiculous amount of money but also able to chill and spend time with his family. That sounds pretty sick. That sounds exactly like what I’d like to do when I grow up.
So discovering Brendon was exciting on one level because now I have another role-model to add to my list of “inspirations for my future career”, but this time, the business model behind the inspirational content fully maps to what I’d like to do with my own career.
And so over the past few months, I’ve read some of Brendon’s books (High Performance Habits is a personal favourite), and binge-listened to tonnes of his podcasts (his marketing podcast in particular, is fantastic). But then I went to Austin and met him at the Kajabi conference, and my mind was blown even more.
The main thing that blew my mind was how incredible a public speaker he is. He did a 1-hour keynote on day 1 of the conference. And throughout the whole thing, my jaw was on the floor because of how amazing a speaker he was. He had just 4 slides, and with just those 4 slides and zero notes, he captured the attention of the entire audience for a whole hour. Storytelling. High energy moments. Thoughtful reflective moments. Inspirational moments. Tactical, actionable moments. Moments that made us tear up. Moments that made us feel like we could do anything. Moments where I was frantically writing notes to capture what he was saying. And a standing ovation at the end of it.
Throughout the whole talk, half of me was thinking “oh my god this guy is amazing” and the other half was thinking “oh my god, I’m doing the day 2 keynote and there’s no way it’s going to be as good as this”. For context, I had 176 slides compared to Brendon’s 4 🤣
My keynote went down reasonably well (no standing ovation though) and lots of people came up to me saying how much they liked it and how actionable it was. But seeing and comparing it to Brendon’s made me realise how much more there is to this public speaking and thought-leading game.
Normally, I consider myself to be a pretty good public speaker. I’ve been teaching for years. I’ve made more videos than almost anyone I know. I thought I had things down. But I guess it’s like if you’re playing tennis at the local club, and winning tournaments, and everyone says you’re amazing. But then one day you happen to play against a professional, and then you’re like “oh shit, there’s a whole other level”. A whole other level that you might not even have realised existed. Imperfect analogy, because you watch tennis on TV, but you get the idea.
That’s how I felt after watching Brendon’s talk. That wow, there’s a whole other level to this game. This guy is a WAY better and more experienced speaker than I am. He’s SO GOOD at influencing the emotions of the audience, which is a thing I want to become way better at. And his business is making more than 10 times what mine is. This is SO COOL.
People talk about how Instagram and social media etc leads to a mindset of comparison. We see the lives of people living “better” than we are, so we think we’re “worse” in comparison and we feel bad about ourselves. And certainly, that’s some people’s approach to comparison.
But I’d like to think I have a healthier relationship with comparison. When I see a dude with six-pack abs and a Gymshark sponsorship on Instagram, I don’t think “gosh I’m such a loser”. I think “gosh, that’s so inspiring, I’m going to get back into working out!”. Similarly, when I saw Brendon, I didn’t think “oh shit I’m a loser”. I thought “wow, it’s incredible that I’ve now experienced the next level, this is so inspiring, I’m going to take so much away from this moment”.
Takeaway 1 – Learning
Alex Hormozi famously says something like: “The reason you’re not making $10m a year is that you don’t know HOW to make $10m a year. Therefore, that lack of knowledge is costing you $10m a year”.
Obviously there’s some nuance missing from this quote, but it’s directionally correct – the people making lots of money (a) know the strategy that gets them there, and (b) are executing on it.
From my vague understanding of the space, I think Brendon’s business is doing 10x more annual revenue than ours is. Our audience sizes are way closer to each other than that, so there’s clearly something he’s doing that we’re not when it comes to business strategy.
I realised this immediately after his talk, and thought “okay, I wonder what his strategy is? This would be great to learn from”. I went on his website, did some browsing around, and saw that he has a $60k/year mastermind group. I started applying to join the mastermind, but then I thought “hold on, wait a sec”. Then I thought about DMing him on Twitter and asking to hop on a call so he could tell me what they’re doing. But then I thought, “hold on, wait a sec”.
People ask me for advice on how to grow a YouTube channel all the time. It’s a hard thing to give advice on, because there’s SO MUCH to growing a YouTube channel and treating it like a business, that’s literally impossible to get through in a single conversation. So I find myself thinking and sometimes saying “Oh you want to grow your YouTube channel and you want to know how I grew mine? Err this is going to sound awkward, but I have a course where I’ve literally got like 40 hours of content of me literally explaining this step by step – have you gone through that course by any chance? If so, I know we’re on the same page and I can give you advice from that baseline. But unless you’ve gone through the course… it’ll take me 50 hours to explain the same stuff to you, and that’s not a good use of time”.
When people want to know how I’ve grown my YouTube channel, I point them to my course where I’ve laid out the process in enormous detail. If they’re a friend or family member, I offer them a deal – “Pay full price, and if you actually do the work and go through the course, I’ll give you a full refund”. In the past when I’ve given away access to the course for free, not a single person who’s had free access has ever even logged into the course platform 🤣
So that thought crossed my mind: Why on earth am I defaulting to “let me join Brendon’s mastermind” or “let me ask to waste his time on a call” when he literally has a course called Experts Academy where, in like 10-20 hours of content, he lays out his entire business model, step-by-step? That’s a total dumbass move on my part. Let me buy his course first, I’ll go through that, then I’ll buy every other book and course he’s got, go through those, and once I’ve executed on ALL THAT STUFF, then I can ask him for personalised advice.
And so I googled Experts Academy, bought the course for $1000 immediately, and I’ve been binging it at 2x speed, while taking copious notes, over the past few days. And it feels like “oh my god, I can’t believe I’ve only just discovered this, if I’d known about Brendon years ago, or taken this course years ago, I’d have saved SO MUCH TIME in not having to try and invent the playbook from scratch, because this guy’s literally laid out the entire thought leader business model in a way that makes perfect sense”.
Which speaks to Hormozi’s point about learning. The reason our business isn’t making more money, is because we don’t know how. And for some reason, I’ve never once thought “you know what, let me look at who’s in the industry who’s making more money than we are, and see which of them have documented the process”.
So that’s a note to myself: When you’re trying to do anything, find a coach who’s been there and done it, and consume all the free content, and all the paid content, they’ve put out about the thing. Once you’ve done that, try and connect with them, join a paid seminar or retreat, join their mastermind etc, because it’ll save you SO MUCH TIME along the way, and will be enormously ROI-positive.
Takeaway 2 – Get a Coach
I went away from Brendon’s talk thinking “wow this guy is a phenomenal public speaker, I wish I were that good”. Then I remembered something I read in his book High Performance Habits – that he had a public speaking coach. Many years ago, he recognised that he wanted to be world-class at public speaking, so he hired a coach, and worked with the coach for several years (and I think, still continues to do so).
I realised: “Wait a minute. I know I want to be good at public speaking. I’d love to be as great at it as Brendon is. I really should just hire a coach…”.
If I played tennis against someone and I thought “man this person is really good, I want to become good like them”, I wouldn’t think “oh gosh darn it, guess they’re just more talented or they’ve been playing longer”. I’d think “cool, let’s find a coach”.
It’s the same with the public speaking stuff, and the same with business stuff generally. Hiring coaches has been the single most ROI-positive thing I’ve ever done for my business. But I’ve never once thought about having a public speaking coach. That’s now going to change.
So note to self: If you’re trying to improve at a skill, or get a particular outcome, spend a few minutes doing some research and seeing if you can find a 1:1 coach for the thing. Again, it’ll save SO MUCH TIME, and working with a coach is really fun too.
Takeaway 3 – Keep it Simple
Brendon’s business model, based on his keynote and based on what I’ve learned going through Experts Academy, is actually pretty simple. It’s a LOT of content (which I do anyway), but all that content is connected to OVO (Opt-in → Value → Offer) funnels, and for each of his “topics”, he’s got 3 paid products at different price points. That’s basically it. That’s the system that took him to $10m+ in annual revenue, and continues to be the lifeblood of his business.
I realised that the way I’ve been thinking about ours is over-complicated. Business strategy can and should be simple. If you can’t simplify and explain it on the back of a napkin, it’s too complicated, or you don’t understand it well enough.
In fact, here’s a fun screenshot from last month where I tried to lay out our entire business model on a single page – pretty complicated stuff lol. Need to simplify.
This realisation relates to another book I’ve started reading: The CEO Test. The very first chapter talks about strategy, and the importance of being able to simplify strategy into an understandable form.
So note to self: Your business strategy, ie the plan that gets you from where you are to where you want to be, should be deviously simple. Simplify, simplify, simplify.
Okay, this has been a WAY longer email than usual lol. But hopefully, you’ve found it vaguely interesting.
One closing note –
I’ve learned a tonne of stuff about growing a 7-figure online business over the past several years, and continue to learn way more over time. I tend not to talk about this stuff on my YouTube channel, or even on this email list, because it’s kinda niche, and because I get comments from (some) people in the audience saying (paraphrased) “stop talking about business, I follow you for productivity” or “stop talking about capitalism you money-grabbing prick, I want more study tips”.
So, here’s a request – if you’ve gotten to this point in the email, and you’re interested in learning more about BUSINESS, and the lessons that my team and I have learned and continue to learn about starting, leading and scaling an online business, please <click here> – that’s a one-click signup that’ll add you to a special segment of this email list, that’ll register you as “I’m interested in business stuff”.
Not sure if I’ll do anything with that piece of information, but if enough people click that button, it’ll be a signal to me of “oh cool, people are interested in this” and I might write more stuff about it, maybe 1-2 times per month, and send it out totally free to just that segment of the email list. I love writing and talking about this “how to grow an online business” stuff, but because of the semi-mainstream nature of my content and audience, it’s not really applicable to the majority of people, which makes me reluctant to talk about it more publicly.
Oh also, if you have any questions at all about this business stuff, I’d love it if you would <reply> to this email as well with any thoughts, questions, things you’d want to know about. That would be SUPER helpful in helping me figure out “what are the things that people want to know about, that I could draw on my own experience and learnings to help with”. But I get that’s a higher-friction ask, so please don’t feel compelled if you don’t have the time right now.
Anyway, that’s enough typing for one day.
I hope you got something vaguely useful or interesting from this email.
Have a great week!
⏳ 80,000 Hours – How you could help avoid the risks from artificial intelligence
Last week, hundreds of AI experts came together to say that they thought AI could pose a risk of causing human extinction, on par with pandemics and nuclear war. It seems like more people than ever are feeling concerned.
Today, I’d like to tell you about 80,000 Hours, which has actually been researching and writing about these kinds of issues — and what we can do about them — for nearly a decade.
They have tons of in-depth material on their website about whether these risks are real; what an AI-caused existential catastrophe could actually look like, and what to do if you want to help — via technical work, and via governance and policy.
That’s because 80,000 Hours is a nonprofit that aims to help people find fulfilling careers that do good, and their research suggests that people working to help us avoid the worst risks from AI might be a really great way to make a positive difference in the world.
They also have research into other problems, and how people can use their careers to solve them, on their website. All their advice and research is available on their site for free, and they don’t charge for anything they provide — ever.
Thanks to my friends at 80,000 Hours for sponsoring this issue of Sunday Snippets 🙏
♥️ My Favourite Things
🎙️ Podcast – How to stop suffering and access freedom. I’ve been binge watching every podcast that Peter Crone’s been on and particularly loved this one with Kerwin Rae. Peter calls himself the ‘Mind Architect’ and specialises in revealing the limiting beliefs and subconscious narratives that dictate and shape our behavior, health, relationships, and performance. My jaw was on the floor watching this and I found it super valuable too.
🎬 YouTube Video – Alex Hormozi’s Advice on Branding in 2023. My key takeaway from this video is to do more of the things that are working and do them better. I think a lot of business owners, like me, spend a lot of time trying to find a new / better thing to do. But there’s just so much more we can do to better grow our existing business. So, I need to get better at doubling down on the things I’m doing well in the business and trying to improve those things first, before exploring new avenues for growth.
📒 Notebook – Leuchtturm1917. I’ve just bought the Leuchtturm1917 notebook again after finishing my fifth one because they’re just so good. If anyone doesn’t have a physical notebook yet, then I wholeheartedly recommend these. I prefer the 123 page version with a soft cover and dotted page. Plus, I buy an extra pen loop for it so I always have a pen with me when I want to write in it. It’s probably one of the most ROI positive purchases of my life because whenever I sit down with it and do some journaling, I always have a number of thoughts / insights about my life and business.
✍️ Quote of the Week
“The false game is to give legitimacy to the notion that there is a hierarchy of importance among human beings.”