A conversation with an aspiring entrepreneur


Hey friends,

Over the weekend I went to a friend’s birthday dinner where I found myself sat across from a lovely chap in his 30s who teaches Religious Education (RE) at a school in London. The chap (let’s call him John) had seen some of my videos, and as we settled into dinner, he asked with full sincerity: “So Ali, how do I become successful?” I smiled, settling nicely onto my soap box.

Here’s how the conversation went.

John: So Ali, how do I become successful? Ali: Haha what does “successful” mean to you?

J: Ooh good question. I guess… right now, it means being able to do whatever I want. Being financially free. Not having to work if I don’t want to.

A: I see… that wouldn’t be my personal definition of success…

J: What’s your definition of success?

A: Well for me, “success” is when you’ve got a goal in mind and you’re working towards it while enjoying the journey. That means I can consider myself “successful” along every step of that journey, rather than just when I’ve “arrived” at a particular destination.

J: Haha okay nice that’s a good definition. Okay so for me… I guess the goal I’m working towards is to become a millionaire.

A: Right… so to have a £1m in the bank? In what sort of timeframe are we thinking here?

J: If I could have a million in the next 8 years, that would be amazing… If I had that, I’d feel totally financially free, and feel like I can do whatever I want.

A: Okay… For the record, I can basically guarantee that when you get there, you’ll set your sights higher than a million, but let’s go with £1m for now. So if you want to make a million in the next 8 years, you need post-tax-and-post-expenses income of £125k every year for the next 8 years, right?

J: Huh yeah you’re right, I guess I’ve never thought about it in that way by actually doing the calculation lol.

A: All good… so we’ve got a goal in mind (to get a million in the bank in the next 8 years). What’s your current strategy for getting to that goal?

J: What do you mean?

A: A goal is like the destination we’ve got in mind, and the strategy is our plan to get there. So right now, your strategy for making money is being an RE teacher in a high school in London. If you continued with this strategy, do you think you’d reach your goal of £1m in the next 8 years?

J: Absolutely not (laughing). Nowhere near that.

A: Great! So we’ve established that the strategy we’re following isn’t going to get us to the goal we’ve got in mind. That means we can either (a) change the goal, or (b) change the strategy. Which would you like to do?

J: Well I really want to be a millionaire, so let’s change the strategy.

A: Okay awesome! So… can we brainstorm some possible strategies for getting to £1m in the next 8 years?

J: Huh… well I guess I could go into real-estate.

A: You could. But to average £125k in post-tax-post-expenses income each year for the next 8 years, you’re going to need a lot of money to get started with real-estate investing. Do you have a load of money to be able to invest?

J: Lol nope I’ve got nothing. Okay so maybe real estate investment isn’t the way… how about some sort of business?

A: Great! I agree – starting and growing your own business could get you to £1m in the next 8 years. How would you feel about that?

J: Yeah I’d love to have my own business. But I don’t really have any good business ideas… and I’ve been wanting to start a business for years, but I’ve never really done it.

At this point, John presents a few different business ideas to me. Could he start another private tutoring business? Could he start a business hiring supply teachers and offering those to schools in London when their teachers are off-sick? Could he sell an online course about safeguarding? I get the vibe from the conversation that John’s thinking about “business ideas” in a somewhat “beginner” way. After a bit of back-and-forth about his business ideas, I ask:

A: Just out of curiosity, how many books have you read about starting a business? J: Er… none…

A: All good, I’m just curious. And how many podcasts have you listened to about starting a business or about making money?

J: Er… yeah I don’t really listen to podcasts.

A: No worries. And how many YouTube videos have you watched specifically about how to start a business?

J: Er… yeah I don’t really watch those sorts of YouTube videos.

A: So can I just check I’ve got this right? You’ve been wanting to start a business for many years, and you feel that starting your own business is the vehicle that could get you to your goal of financial freedom which is a really meaningful goal for you… but you haven’t read any books, watched any videos, or listened to any podcasts about starting a business?

J: Er yeah that’s right (looks around sheepishly).

A: Haha no worries, I’m not saying that to be mean, just to point out something that I see a lot. I know a lot of people who would love to start a business, but who for some reason, don’t try to learn anything about the process. True, you learn a hell of a lot by just doing it… but if you’re completely new to the world of business, then there’s quite a lot of basic groundwork that’s worth understanding before diving into it.

J: Groundwork?

A: Yeah… it’s like if you’re applying to medical school. You need to study chemistry, biology and maths at school, so that when you start learning Medicine, you’ve got a basic foundation. If someone tried to join Medical school without having a basic grounding in chemistry and biology, things would be really tricky. In the same way, trying to start a business, especially one that’ll make you a millionaire, without having read anything about starting a business, is going to hold you back quite a lot.

J: Okay so what would you suggest?

A: Easy. I can give you a reading list of a few books to read, and a few podcasts to listen to, and those will immediately give you a huge firmware update in your brain about what sort of business ideas you might want to think about, and how to go about starting a business that can make you a millionaire.

At this point, everyone else around us (listening in to the conversation) jumps in, asking if they could have the list too. I oblige. This is the list.

Books (in this order)

  1. The Millionaire Fast Lane – MJ Demarco
  2. Million Dollar Weekend – Noah Kagan
  3. $100m Offers – Alex Hormozi
  4. Dotcom Secrets – Russell Brunson


  1. My first interview with author & serial entrepreneur Daniel Priestley on Deep Dive
  2. My second interview with author & serial entrepreneur Daniel Priestley on Deep Dive
  3. My interview with business coach Robin Waite on Deep Dive

Someone looks at the list and says “lol these are all your podcasts?” And I say: “Yep. These are all interviews that are specifically all about how to make your first $10k/month online, and I promise they’ll answer a bunch of questions you have about starting a business, and give you a bunch of things to consider that you never did before”.

To somewhat attest to the power of this list (in particular the reading list), around 9 months ago, I shared the same list with a friend who took a break from his management consulting job to try and make money on the internet. This friend was also a noob to the world of business, but after reading the books on the list (minus Million Dollar Weekend which only came out a few weeks ago), he said: “Man I can literally never get another job again now that I’ve read these books”. He then built his own software which has grown over the past 9 months to be making $35k+ per month. Obviously, your mileage is going to vary and these results are atypical, but it speaks to the power of having the right foundation (from these books) and applying single-minded execution to get rich lol.

Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see if John (or anyone else who took down the reading list) will actually read any of the books on it. I might see them at the same birthday dinner next year and I’ll ask them about it if I do 🙂

Have a great week!

Ali xx

P.S. I’ve been working on a secret project called Productivity Lab. It’s a new community designed to help you become your most productive self, all while enjoying the journey along the way. We’ll be launching soon, and you can sign up for the waitlist here. We’d love to have you x

🎬 My New Videos

🤑 A Step By Step Guide To Making $10,000 a Month – I recently interviewed serial entrepreneur Daniel Priestley and he told me about his step by step method, The CAOS Framework, which I wanted to share with you guys here. This is one of the best frameworks I’ve come across for starting a business, so I hope you get some value from this video and are potentially inspired to start something of your own.

🚀How to Grow a YouTube Channel From Nothing in 2024 – In this video, I sit down with Izzy Sealey, a YouTuber with 500k subscribers, to talk about her journey on YouTube and what advice she would give to someone just getting started today. There’s so much I wish I’d known when I started YouTube myself, and Izzy captures a lot of that advice in this video, so I think you’ll get value from it.

✍️ Quote of the Week

“Begin at once to live, and count each separate day as a separate life.”

From Letters from a Stoic by Seneca. Resurfaced using Readwise.

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Presido Light
Presido Light
24 days ago

What a nice 😊 explanation . It’s has inspirer me too to work hard no given up ⬆️

9 days ago

Absolutely love this! The 4 books recs are super dope, I unfortunately started out of order prior to this email lol Once I saw your post about Alex Hormozi (who is an absolute game changer) I read $100m offers, which was AMAZING. I’m currently reading millionaire fastlane based off these recs. Thanks Ali! I gotta check out the podcast interviews as well! Lots of catching up to do, I am a medical resident myself so your journey has been super inspirational!