My Zoom Calls with James Clear & Ramit Sethi


Hey friends,

This week, I had the pleasure of speaking to two of my heroes over Zoom and mining them for life advice – James Clear and Ramit Sethi.

James Clear (author of the incredible Atomic Habits) gave me some great tips on book marketing. Btw, if you haven’t yet preordered a copy of my upcoming book, I’d very much appreciate it – you can check it out here if you like 😊

But James and I spent most of the call chatting about life rather than marketing. In particular, I was keen to hear how James thinks about work-life balance now that he’s become mega-successful (Atomic Habits has sold 15m+ copies, which is insane). I’ve had a fraction of the success that James has had in his career, and even at my way smaller scale I feel inundated with opportunities and find it hard to stay balanced. But James seems to have figured out how to live a balanced life despite all the inbound opportunities that come his way.

Here’s what he said:

A common failure mode for successful authors is that they write a book, it becomes successful, and then they get all this attention and all these opportunities. And they say ‘yes’ to way too many of them, to the point that they look at their life and think ‘God I hate my life’.

His advice was as follows:

Draw a box around what you want your ideal day to look like. Within that box, optimise. But if things come up that take you away from that box, say ‘no thank you’.

In James’ case, his ‘box’ looks like spending a lot of time with his kids, and only ‘working’ a few hours a day. He travels 1-2 times a month for ludicrously high-paying speaking gigs, and turns down the other 150 speaking requests he gets every month. He doesn’t sell courses, he’s not trying to build his own software, and he’s not trying to be a YouTuber (unlike plenty of other people in the thought-leader space). Yes this limits the amount of money he could make, but he recognises he’s got plenty anyway, and is now optimising for a balanced and meaningful life.

It’s like what Derek Sivers says: “Hell Yeah or No”. Early in your career, say yes to everything. But when you get some success, switch to “Hell Yeah or No”. If it’s not a “Hell Yeah”, then its a “No”.

This is definitely advice I need to take more on-board myself. I still say yes to way too many things, that seem exciting at the time, but after a few days I lose the enthusiasm for them, and now I’m stuck with a commitment on my calendar that I’m no longer feeling, and left with the feeling of either doing the thing, or disappointing the person I’ve already said yes to. All parties involved would’ve much preferred it if I’d just said no thank you at the outset.

The second Zoom call was with Ramit Sethi, author of the fantastic “I Will Teach you to be Rich”, and host of the new Netflix series “How to Get Rich”. Again, the conversation was briefly about marketing and business strategy, but mostly around life advice.

I asked Ramit how he’s managed to stay so relevant in the space for such a long time (he’s been doing this since like 2009). He said that his longevity was down to mostly 3 things:

  1. Intentionally aiming for a long-term career in the space
  2. Making sure he continues to find the work enjoyable
  3. Putting the non-work commitments in his calendar first, knowing that work will always have a tendency to fill in the gaps

Again, simple, but profound advice. I think I’m pretty good on points (1) and (2), but generally struggle with the third. As I look at my calendar a few months out, it’s crammed with work commitments, but very little in the way of non-work stuff (eg: vacations, trips with friends, even just free weekends etc).

So that’s something I’m now looking to change moving forwards – projecting the calendar pretty far out, and blocking in time for holidays and trips first, rather than letting the calendar fill up with work-stuff by default.

Shoutout to both James and Ramit for the generosity in casually chatting to me over Zoom to answer my copious questions about business and life 🙂

And I hope you got a sliver of value from me sharing some of those conversations.

Have a great week!

Ali xx

PS: We’re looking for a full-time Operations Associate to join us as part of our Part-Time YouTuber Academy team. We’ve been running the operation with a very small team but as we scale our courses, and as the Community expands, we’ve realised we need help to manage everything that comes with running something of this size. So if you’re interested, you can check out the job posting here.

PPS: I’m also exploring the idea of starting a Daily Productivity newsletter, where we’ll share a daily email (Monday to Friday) sharing one idea, one quote, and one tool to make you more productive and help you build your dream life. If this sounds like something you’re interested in, then click here and you’ll automatically start receiving the Daily Productivity newsletter when it launches. You can unsubscribe anytime, and I’d love your feedback 🙂

📚 Free Reading List (from Modern Wisdom)

My friend Chris Williamson from the Modern Wisdom Podcast has released a fantastic free Reading List with 100 of the most interesting and impactful books he’s ever read. Go and get it if you want to upgrade your reading game:

Download the Reading List for free.

♥️ My Favourite Things this Week

  1. Podcast – I’ve been on a recent binge of the Acquired podcast. I’d listened to a few of their episodes before, but did a binge this week of their episodes about LVMH, Amazon Web Services and TSMC. As of today, I’m halfway through their episode about Lockheed Martin. It’s an incredible podcast that tells the stories of technology companies and the stories and playbooks surrounding their rise. Super super interesting stuff. Shoutout to my friend Ahmed for the recommendation.
  2. Another podcast – I loved Chris Williamson’s interview with Sam Harris. I normally listen to podcasts on Spotify, but I watched this one on YouTube because the production value is insanely strong – never seen a podcast this well-shot before. Some great takeaways too on the value of staying present, and not living for the future.
  3. YouTube Video – I also thoroughly enjoyed this 37-minute long video essay about timelines in the various seasons of Yu-Gi-Oh. My YouTube recommendations are now flooded with similar-ish video essays which I’m enjoying as procrastination from doing the final proof-reads of my book.
  4. YouTube Video – Another absolutely banger long-form talk from Alex Hormozi, time time about the 3 things you need to learn about business to get rich. Classic. But inspirational and actionable as always. BTW, I’m attending Alex’s live online event for the launch of his new book on August 19th. It’s totally free, and if you’re interested in signing up, if you use this link, it’ll register as coming from me. And if we’re in the top 10 of people driving signups for the (free) event, Alex will do a private Q&A just for our community where we can get him on zoom and ask him anything. So if you want to start, or grow a business, please click this link to signup for Alex’s free online event – and I’ll see you there on August 19th 🙂

✍️ Quote of the Week

“We can’t blame others for doing what we would most likely have done if we found ourselves in the same circumstances. If we had been that annoyed, or that protective, or felt cornered or scared to the same degree, we would have done the same thing. It doesn’t matter if we think the other person has reacted over and above how we would; the point is that we, under the same psychological conditions, would have very likely done the same. It might have taken more to provoke us, but we know that we have the capacity, given the right circumstances, to be just as unpleasant or untoward.”

From Happy by Derren Brown.. Resurfaced using Readwise.

3.3 3 votes
Rate This Article
Notify of

0 Thoughts on this post
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments