It’s a sad reality that often in business and in life, passion for something fades. Especially as designers, business owners and entrepreneurs. We tend to be passionate or keen on something for some time (whether months or years) and get bored to discontent.
This is a MAJOR problem when you run your own business and suddenly the passion flame dims or goes out entirely.
In this podcast episode, I wanted to bring on a close colleague of mine and all-around amazing business mind, Christ Badgett (CEO and Founder of LifterLMS), to talk about how to keep the passion for business alive because he’s been doing it for over a decade and is more fired up, inspired and pumped about his business and customers than ever.
I hope you get as much inspiration from this chat as I did to help you reignite the flame for your business!
In this episode:
00:00 – Introduction
03:45 – Greeting to Chris
09:10 – Starting with self-discovery
15:01 – Tips to protecting the passion
21:13 – How to prevent burnout
27:09 – Find community
31:37 – Pressure pot to full reset
44:43 – Anticipating exhaustion
47:11 – Use this tactical business plan
53:43 – Put your “rocks” in a jar correctly
58:28 – Work through habits
1:03:19 – Theme your days for you
1:05:03 – Be a mind mapper
1:08:21 – Capture the creative moments
1:13:45 – How to revisit the passion
1:19:28 – Collecting testimonials
Connect with Chris:
- LMScast – The #1 WordPress LMS Membership Site Podcast
- LMS Podcast with Josh – How to Design the Perfect Business Model Around Content, Courses, Coaching, Community, and Retreats
- LifterLMS Academy
- Podcast Episode #071 – From Dog Sled Runner to CEO of LifterLMS with Chris Badgett
Featured links mentioned:
Episode #155 Full Transcription
What’s up friends, welcome into Episode 155. In this episode, you’re going to be hearing from one of my absolute favorite people in the WordPress and web design realm. This is Chris Badgett. He is the founder and CEO of LifterLMS, which is an awesome, awesome learning management system for WordPress, which is where you can do memberships courses, online programs, gated content, all sorts of awesome stuff.
Now, the reason I wanted to have Chris on for this episode is because he is somebody who is extremely passionate about what he does, and he loves, loves, loves, loves his business and the people he works with and his customers. And I think that’s really interesting, mainly because he’s been at it for a long time, I wanted to have him on to talk about this idea of keeping the passion alive for your business, particularly as you get years down the road. Because as we all know, or even if you’re early in the game, and you’re not yet aware, passion tends to fade, particularly when you are in your business and it starts running you and and all the stresses and complexities of running your business kind of tend to take hold.
That is very common. And Chris has done an amazing job at just loving his business every day. It’s something that I have really tried to apply to my business, it’s something I’m encouraging all my students to do, which is to love every day of your business, do what you have to do to protect that. And to make sure you keep that passion alive, you really have to be intentional about this, because I’ve found, if you’re not intentional about keeping the passion alive for your business, your business is going to take over and it’s suddenly not going to be so fun. I don’t want you to wake up and dread getting started in your business, I want you to love it. Because we spend a lot of time in our business, we might as well love what we do. So I’m so excited to have Chris back onto the podcast to talk about this.
Now. One thing that I found in the web design world that can help reignite your passion and can help you start having some fun in web design is design. Focusing on design is personally I think one of the funnest aspect, aspects of web design. I don’t personally love SEO or content are some of the other areas of web design, they’re really important. And I definitely encourage you learn about that. But design itself is something that I’ve found to be super fun because you see an instant reward and instant result when you design something new. And there’s nothing better than getting good conversions for your clients when it comes to creating beautiful designs to actually convert.
So if you want to have some fun in your business, and you want to get some training on how to have great fun and great and make better, great designs, check out my web design website design course that is out now and it’s open and available for you to check out again I talk about design in depth and we it is by far the most fun course I have or is it the most fun or the funnest course one of those, I would love to welcome you into the course and help you keep the fire alive in your business by creating awesome designs and conversion based design. So check that out today. It’s available for you now, you can actually just go to Josh hall.co/design And they’ll zip you over there. I would love to help you create some awesome designs to keep your passion alive in your business. And now without further ado, we’re gonna hear from my man Chris Badgett, of LifterLMS on a lot of tactics, methods and strategies for how you can keep passion in your business alive for the long haul. Enjoy.
Chris, welcome back on to the podcast, my friends. So good to have you back on the show, man.
Thanks for having me. Josh. I’m super excited to get into it with you today. We always talk about really interesting topics and go deep and have a lot of shared interest. So I’m excited.
I agree, man, you when I was on your podcast the second time you said I was I felt like a or you felt like I was a brother from another mother and I share that sentiment and I really, really enjoyed chatting with you. You’re one of my favorites in the WordPress game. And I just love what you’re up to as a business as the owner of lifter LMS but also just you as a person you’re such a cool guy to chat with. But you also have a lot of technical knowledge but also a lot of business knowledge and, and passion. I think one reason I wanted to have you back on this show, which can you believe you are episode 71 In your first episode, which we talked about your journey from dog sled runner to CEO of LifterLMS.
But I think you’re going to be in the 150s now so really cool to have you on it, you know, halfway through the podcast again. But in this talk, we’re going to talk about passion and keeping it alive and I’m really, really excited about that. I think it’s more important than ever, particularly for folks who have been in it for a while you tend to lose passion little bit and sometimes business and life can get in the way. Or sometimes you can forget about the passion. So without, you know, diving too far into my own intro on this, I just really, really excited to chat with you. Before we dive in man, do you want to let everybody know? Who doesn’t know you where you’re based out of? And when somebody asked Chris, what do you do for a living? What do you tell him?
Sure. So I’m Chris Badgett. I’m based out of the Bay Area, and that’s Belfast Bay, which is a small Maine coastal town, I actually started my business and are this current business in Montana, and we lived in an RV, and we ultimately settled on a little farm in Maine. So that’s where I live. I’m a dad, I homeschool our kids. We have two girls and a bunch of farm animals. And, you know, we spend a lot of time outside. People say I mean, I’m kind of a unique combination of analog and digital and digital. So as soon as I get off this call, I might be go out and help him with farm chores. But to tell people what I do for work, depending upon who I’m talking to, I answer that question differently. So the quick, you know, answer is I help people build online learning platforms or online schools. But that that project is called lifter LMS. It’s a learning management system for WordPress that helps people create courses, training based membership sites, that kind of thing. Seven years old, as of right around this time. And before that, I ran an agency for several years specializing and membership sites for about a decade in this game.
Yeah, decade into it, and the passion is still alive for you, man. That’s, that’s why I’m so excited to chat about this to pick your brain about what you’ve experienced in keeping the flame alive, for lack of a better terms. And this actually stemmed off of the recent news of LearnDash being sold and the acquisition of LearnDash. Because I use LearnDash for my courses. This is actually before I discovered you and Lifter. So I discovered you first maybe a different story, but as to love that you were able to talk about this, and you have an amazing platform of lifter. But what was interesting is Justin, the CEO, LearnDash came out and basically publicly said he was just a bit fried, for lack of a better term, like he was just, he didn’t have the passion for anymore. He felt like it was lost.
And the thing about that is I don’t I don’t respect Justin any less for that. In fact, I respect him more and see you nodding your head, maybe you feel the same way. I feel like if somebody really just loses the passion for something either way, I would much rather as a customer, have him have somebody else manage it rather than him just trying to force his way through a you know. So that’s that’s what kind of started this whole conversation because I asked you some questions, just straight up about what you thought about the whole process and everything. And actually, I’m not going to share anything sensitive information. But I just wanted to share your reply to my email, because essentially, I just asked you, what were your thoughts, your honest thoughts of it.
And here, again, I’m not going to share anything that would be sensitive. But you replied to me and said, in terms of Justin selling LearnDash, it’s really just an unknown right now as far as the impact of or to the product and the acquisition that will have on it. In terms of an opportunity for lifter because I asked you is this a chance for lifter to come to the forefront, and even you know, elevate your brand even more since you’ve been consistent. You said we’re continuing to focus on customers, building the WordPress course creator community and evolving the product, which a few things I want to dive into into there as we move forward. But you said our team is still super passionate and excited about the elearning or elearning and WordPress, I feel like I’m just getting started, even though we’re seven years in and I still have a lot of fun, and I’m enjoying the journey.
So I wanted to just say that out loud to you. Because I don’t know if you remember sending that over to me, but I just love that email. There was a few things in there that I figured we could unpack in this call. What Yeah, but I guess just kick us off, man. I guess I kind of summed it up right there. But how do Yeah, what what is your overall feeling? Being seven years into lifter and a decade into your journey of where you’re at now I need just initial thoughts about what you’ve done to keep the passion alive.
Yeah. And there’s so many like areas of this answer. The first thing I’ll just say is just something I learned about myself. I didn’t really realize I was an entrepreneur until later in life. It was really after I’ve probably talked about in our last episode about managing an eco-tour business in Alaska and helping train dogs for the idea rod sled dog race with my mentor and boss up there. That’s kind of where I learned the basics of business operations. And but before that story began, you know, I was just a regular kind of college I grew up in a college town I went to a college up in the mountains discovered a passion for nature and the wilderness and rock climbing and long-distance hiking and stuff like that.
I did you know got into Alpine mountaineering And, you know, I lived in the back of my car and I climb mountains and basically since a young age or more so as a young adult, I realized that I was kind of it’s kind of funny to say this way, but it’s almost like I was born with like, a middle finger on my forehead. And what I mean by that is, I always had this sense that life is like this really big gift, why wasted? Doing something you don’t enjoy.
And so what I would do, pre-entrepreneur, Chris, is I would do things like, live in my car with my climbing buddies, you know, shop that really places, cheap places to buy food, don’t go out to eat, like spend most of my time outdoors, because I loved it. And that’s what led me up with passion. That’s what brought me into Alaska. That’s what brought me into dogs. When I discovered WordPress, in this idea that you could create like this page on the internet that you could manipulate from anywhere in the world and the entire world could see it. It just kind of blew my mind. I didn’t realize it.
But in some ways, I was kind of like the perfect WordPress user, in the sense that I’ve been on all sides of WordPress at this point, like I’ve hacked together a little code, I’m by no means a developer, have blogged. I’ve run an agency I’ve created WordPress products. I’ve advised WordPress companies. There’s all kinds of just I’ve been all around WordPress, but I just, I just fell in love with it. I fell in love with the community. You know, I love things like organic farming and raising my kids the way we’re doing it and stuff like that. So I just follow my passion. And wherever that takes me, I go. So the highest level. I think that Henry David Thoreau quote, that the something about people leaving lives of quiet desperation, that’s like literally my worst fear. And I’m not, it’s not easy. Every time, every time I’ve followed my passion, there’s always been some kind of sacrifice or trade off or coming in on the bottom of the totem pole of working my way up figuring out how to make ends meet.
What’s that quote, by the way, for anyone who doesn’t know it,
“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation,” and, to me, I thought, that’s like the biggest tragedy in the world. – Chris
I believe it’s “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation”. And, to me, I thought, that’s like the biggest tragedy in the world, to to have that kind of live, to be just unsatisfied and kind of stuck and trapped. And I totally get that there’s a lot of circumstances and situations where you don’t have a choice. But yeah, that that always inspired me. And then there’s something about my personality type as well, where I’m a super empathy, empathic, or empathetic person, I, I feel the emotions of others, I see opportunity inside of other people. And when I look around in the world, I see all this like value trapped inside people. And, you know, you come across a really productive entrepreneur, and they’re figuring out like how to harness that and build energy and get people around the project and create this momentum.
But also see that spark inside of a lot of people and it’s not activated. It’s one of the reasons why I will say that my company mission is my life’s mission, which is to lift up others through education. And that passion, it applies to lifter LMS applies the agency we run, it applies to how we raise our kids, it applies to how I as an adult approach, just continuous learning and improvement and exploration. Because that’s where all the great magic comes from, you just can’t, you gotta feed the fire, and figure out how to handle the tough parts and be true to yourself. So that’s the high level stuff, I can get more tactical. But that’s the high level.
I That’s the outline right there. Man, I think you just laid the foundation for us to dive into each one of those points. And one, I think personally, where I’d love to start off here is having that passion. And I think you did a really good job at kind of outlining where the passion started for you and why you feel that way. I think a lot of people probably resonate with that. I know, as a web designer, I just loved helping people and I love building websites that they were proud of, and they can show off and help grow their business. But eventually you become a business owner. And as an entrepreneur, they like you mentioned, there’s a lot of other things that come with that.
And what I hate to see is when those other things put out that flame of passion or they kind of Trump what you love about the business, or maybe in some cases, somebody loves designing websites, but they just can’t stand getting content from clients or, you know, something like that, or managing a lot of projects. A lot of times those things can be what derail somebody and kind of puts out that passion and, and, you know, takes that flame out. So I guess one of the first questions I have for you is how do you protect passion when you’re dealing with all the other things that come with it?
There’s a lot of ways to protect passion. One that’s kind of easy to say, but harder to do is people. So if you don’t like getting content from clients hire a project manager, if you can’t afford that, yeah, that’s why it’s easier said than done. Like, if you’re at the beginning of the journey, as an entrepreneur, you have to wear all the hats, if you have no outside resources, until you have the cash flow to be able to build a team and delegate. So people is one way to protect it.
The other way is, it’s a trick I intuitively learned just from my time in the wilderness, and I spent like a lot of time like in the wilderness, like sometimes over a month, no roads, no stuff, like just deep in British Columbia, like, or different parts of the world. And when you go into that kind of space, the monkey mind quiets down and runs out of stuff to say, so you kind of get to know yourself. And as an entrepreneur, one of the things I learned on the big framework guy, so I like finding tools and systems to like, help me, because I’m an entrepreneur, I can, I can invent everything from scratch if I need to. But I really like finding things that actually work off the shelf.
So there’s a great woman, her name Sherry Walling, she has a podcast called Zen founder. And she has this process, it’s an e book on her site called a founder retreat, which I go, which I just follow her process, and I’ll literally, you know, go on a, like a three or four day retreat by myself, even in my own town away from my family, but to a new place, like Airbnb or something. And I will go through the process in this book, which is kind of like a check in, it can be used for different things to like, make hard decisions to prioritize what you’re doing to let go of things that aren’t serving you and stuff like that. So I really recommend that her found a retreat technique.
So but at its core, what that is, is, you can’t you protect passion by not losing the thread of who you are as a person. Because, you know, there’s a lot of ideas out in the world of, you know, what you should be as like a business person or as a parent or as a friend or as a partner, or as a good citizen in society. But under all that they’re still just you there’s like this core you inside all these layers of the onion. And if you stay close to that, and you check in with that, um, that voice will kind of guide you of like, what’s working and what’s not working. And it may be, you may have to make some hard decisions there.
So those are some more and then another one that I think is is super important is to, like kind of like rest and recover. So just like when you work out for athletics, the recovery is just as important as the training. So as an entrepreneur, protecting yourself from burnout is important. And the older I got, like I’m over over 40 Now, I’m 43. So I still think sometimes I’m
Gonna pass for 30 Pass for 36. Probably all that outside time.
Probably, but but the you burn out, like I can’t, like when I was 22. Sometimes I’d stay up like all night working on some good three hours of sleep, and then boom on and I can’t do that anymore. So protecting yourself, both physically, mentally and emotionally from burnout is important. And if you hit a patch of burnout, you have to acknowledge it. And it’s sort of like your body, right, raising the flag and be like, Alright, I need a break. Like, you kind of need to just like, chill out for a week and don’t make any major decisions. And I can get into some stories of what of where I’ve faced some burnout and things that happen there if you want. But yeah, but don’t mistake burnout for losing your passion. They’re different. So
That’s a good point. And I know there’s different levels to this, like when it comes to burnout, and you’re just done for a season or what a week, a few days or longer, whatever it is. And there’s also just times where, for me personally, right now I’m in a period where at the time of recording this, I just launched version 2.0 My maintenance playing course at the time of recording this call, at least. I’m a little I’m a little zonked right now, because it’s been a month of a lot of hard work and intensive work. And I’ve learned in my journey to kind of plan for the recovery period, like you mentioned.
So I knew this week, the course is going through a launch cycle and sales cycle. I’m not taking on too many calls. I’m not doing anything major in the business. I’m not working on the next course. Yeah, because I know I’m still recovering. I’m having kind of a light week this week. And I think that’s probably a good tip that anyone could take away as if you know you’re going to have really big busy seasons or You know, you have a lot of projects on tap, and they’re all gonna wrap up around the same time. Maybe plan things out to where you have a week where you can have a bit of a light week and not kill yourself and not work the nine to 5/40 hours a week or even more, that often, freelancers feel like we have to work.
I know that was a big thing for me. If I wasn’t working all day, on a weekday, I felt weird, but I had to learn it’s alright. Like yesterday, we’re recording this on a Tuesday, Mondays are kind of my, just whatever days, whatever I want to work on. I don’t take calls on Mondays, I just felt completely off. I told my wife, I was like, I’ve just I’ve got nothing today. And luckily, this is why I have those kind of days. Sometimes when I do feel like that. Luckily, there was no calls. And we just took our girls and we went for a drive and we got some lunch and babies took a car nap or building a house right now, as you mentioned before went live. So we went to check that out. So that’s what we did. And I still got some work done. But it was around the feeling of like, I’m just I’m just I don’t have much in the tank right now because of such an intensive month. So any thoughts on that with just like planning for those times when you know you’re going to be busy? And you know, you can you almost have to plan for the downtime to right like plan for some recovery?
I’m not that smart. And what I mean by that is I just it takes me getting burned to start planning. So I remember once in my agency days where we had this thing and it were working with the Australian client we were setting dates long in advance. And we didn’t realize we like scheduled a massive like deployment right in the middle of Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving and we hosed everybody’s like plans in America that worked on the our project, and then it created like this backlash of like burnout and overwhelm, not just in me, but also some team members.
So yeah, sometimes you have to go through the fire before you wisen up. So that’s one thing but but if you’re listening to this, be smarter, don’t wait to get burned before you kind of plan this. I’ll give you two more answers. One at a macro level and one at a micro level. at the macro level. We were talking about the challenges of, you know, quarterly and annually planning before we hit record. And one of the things that web design will teach you. You know, there’s this whole concept of like a waterfall project or going Agile and working in two weeks sprints. But the thing that happens that causes the most burnout in agencies and just entrepreneurs in general is trying to fit too much into your actual capacity.
So if you learn how to plan, like we have this many like ours are these mini story points, or this mini whatever you want to call it. And if you try to cram something new in you need to take something else out, and also kind of build in that buffer recovery time. But probably the most important thing that’s helped me in that regard is actually the morning routine I developed it was actually one of the first online courses I took by a guy named Eben Pagan called Wake Up Productive. And he kind of went into this like it was just like a course old school like online course days, I think the course might have even come in like a dropbox folder or videos or something.
But it was a it was about how to craft like the perfect morning routine. And I started building that out in 2009, or something like that. And I And to this day, I’ve continued to evolve a morning routine that just supports me in terms of like, setting me up for the day, you know, taking care of my health and getting organized, getting planned. And then also the end of the day, if you can figure out how to disconnect to especially you know, to connect with your partner, your friends or your family and also give yourself the ability to go to sleep without being stressed out. Those that morning and an evening are super important. And it’s it’s I see a lot of entrepreneurs just, you know, wake up, grab the phone and just reactive mode and then feel guilty, you know, maybe and and then go to bed just like spent and then rinse and repeat.
That’s a good point. And look, this all feeds in these little tactics. Every one of these little tips we’ve covered so far, all feed into keeping passion alive in the long run. Because it’s a compounds doesn’t it like if you feel if you can’t get away from your email your phone here, then that’s going to bleed into your productivity. If you’re behind on your projects, then you can’t take time off. If you can’t take time off. You’re constantly stressed and you’re constantly stressed that bleeds into your personal life. This is magnified by 100 when you have a family.
You’re talking about morning routine right now we’re in a stage with my daughters where I’ve got an almost two year old right now and she’s going through a bit of a sleep regression so like I’m super jealous of having a nice morning routine but it’s literally just not practical right now with what we like it’s a bit of a free for all with sleep. and everything that we’re going through right now, luckily, my daughters are really good sleepers overall. So I have it pretty good.
But it definitely like all of these things are so much more intricate and complex with a family. And I think it’s really important for young entrepreneurs to get this now, before they do end up having families. And then luckily for everyone listening, who does have a family, it’s never too late. It’s never too late to change things and pivot. And that’s a big part of I’m sure what you’ve gone through and what I’ve learned as well. But these are really, really important things that will all feed into the lifelong passion and keeping that alive and, and passion itself can change. But I guess what we’re really talking about here is avoiding burnout. And it is those little things that compound, aren’t they like, it’s the, it’s the little habits, it’s the little things we do, it’s the little disciplines that make a big, big difference in the grand scheme of things.
Yeah. And to that note, another part, especially around the family is just having honest conversations with your partner. And it depends like maybe you’re an entrepreneur, married to another entrepreneur, or maybe you’re an entrepreneur, married to a non entrepreneur, and that’s better or worse, it’s just different. So your brains and like how you approach reality are like really different. But so one of the things that really worked in my household is that, you know, my wife learned to just understand the craziness of Chris, the entrepreneur, and how important his morning routine was to me. So even as, in the harder days with the young kids and all this, she was not bitter at me when I was trying to like, kind of protect my morning routine, maybe do a minimal smaller version of it, but still get it and because she knew that was better for my mental health, even if she had to do more.
And then of course, you know, I would do do as much as I possibly can with the other full time job of being a parent as well. So it’s having those honest conversations with your friends, family and loved ones that are super important. And then the place to build on that is actually to find community. So I have all these different tribes I run and, and a lot of people, especially entrepreneurs, they feel pretty misunderstood. And or if you’re like a some kind of subject matter expert, like in WordPress, or and whatever your hobby is making cabinets, you might by going out and finding these communities of…
For me, you know, I’m part of like an outdoor kind of climbing world, I’m part of a long distance hiking world amount of like, a homeschooling organic farming world, I’m part of a WordPress world, I’m part of a startup entrepreneur world, a software world, I’ve gone out of my bubble, and I’ve invested in myself and gone to events free and paid of cheap, expensive, so that I can connect even this podcasting example like connecting with another entrepreneur, another podcaster. We are, it’s this is the community aspect, which helps kind of, you know, keep your passion alive and makes you feel less misunderstood. When you go hang out with a bunch of crazy people just like you and whatever x is.
Yeah, that’s a great point that community aspects. I mean, I think everyone listening to the podcast knows how important this is, to me and what I’m doing. And I have quite a few different channels of community set up between a free Facebook group and my premium web design club, my students center. And I do I see the importance of that at every level. Because the reality is, particularly as web designers we are whether we know it or not entrepreneurs and freelancers and the average world, the corporate world is not going to understand us and they don’t get what we go through.
You talked about your wife, my wife was similar. Like, it took me a long time to kind of figure out how to explain to her what I do, and the kind of challenges that I’ve had over the years, she’s seen that and to your point, like she kind of knows now, like if I’m in course mode, I’m going to be really busy. And if the kids are going nuts and whatever, and I just need to get out of the house. She’s not bitter by that. She’s like, Daddy, you know, he’s got to work. He’s needed to go get what he needs to do what he needs to do to get stuff done. So that is a big part of it.
There’s there’s the professional community, there’s personal community. Man, you said it though, Chris, like just being able to share about some of these feelings that an average salary worker probably isn’t going to understand that that is crucial. So I think that’s a great point to really put emphasis on some sort of community. And there’s one thing I could tell Josh from years ago to do, it would have been to get into some sort of community much sooner.
I basically did everything myself and Google was my my partner, my friend for a long time. And that helped with like learning web design and all that but what didn’t help was the periods of burnout that I personally based in, again, because I’m kind of a, I’m a blue collar guy at heart, put my work boots on, I will just work, which is great. But when I was wearing all the hats, I had to really catch myself and realize that I was working way too much. And I wasn’t being very productive, and all the sorts of things that can come into play if you’re not prioritizing your health, mentally, physically and everything else. And luckily, I didn’t have a family at that time. So it was only me that I was hurting at that point.
But you did talk about a little bit about some of those burnout periods. I would love to unpack some of those. What was if you could give us like one example of a really tough type of situation you went through from a burnout perspective. You know, offhand what happened? And more importantly, how did you get through it? And what did you learn from it?
I will do that. And before I do that, I just want to give you a pro tip I heard on a podcast like this about talking to your spouse about a product launch. I heard this on some of these podcasts, I give him credit, if I could remember who it was. But sometimes these are the exact words to use with your spouse. So my wife’s name is Sam. So I would go to her and I would say, and this doesn’t happen very often. But I learned to say this. And when I said it, it made all the difference, which is, Hey, Sam, just just heads up next week, or, you know, Monday, Tuesday, I’m doing a product launch, I’m gonna be a little bit emotionally unavailable during that time. And you’re gonna see me just like really kind of burning the candle at both ends, I appreciate your support. Anyways, that kind of heads up really helps.
But in terms of a point, great point in terms of terms of burnout, probably the hardest part is really, for any bootstrapped entrepreneur, entrepreneur, especially is crossing the chasm of zero to like sustainable business, right. So for me, what that look like is running an agency. At this point, I got it up to like 17, people launched lifter LMS, this is in 2014, bout seven years ago, it was in October of 2014. And our agency was doing quite well. And it was a hiring agency. But we were just burning cash. Because we were doing a lot of custom development, a lot of high end work, I had to always be hiring paying top dollar. Really just, you know, lots of people on the call have a client, this is a high end agency, which which in and of itself is exhausting.
But when we first launched lifter LMS we got 42 customers on the on the first week, and I said, if we get 100, we’ll keep it alive, we’ll keep going the project, we only got 42. So but I said we’re going to keep it alive anyways, we’re going to keep going. But anyways, at first year, it just wasn’t pulling in the money and all the profit, we were sucking out of the agency to like focus on developing the product. And a combination of factors happened, my wife was going to get a job that fell through, we were getting ready to move and then we didn’t and then we had to move real quick into a not the ideal rental. And it was just like this pressure pot of circumstances. And I just got super burnout. And I actually did something really extreme, which I wouldn’t recommend without consulting with a doctor.
But I did a I wanted to go through like a full reset, because I was just overloaded from trying to like become an online business owner and entrepreneur. And I just felt like I really need to reset. So I actually did at home I did like an extended water fast, which is drinking only water for several weeks, actually. Oh, and essentially, what it did is it just it basically it’s like a full reset. In hindsight, it was one of the best things I’ve ever done, but you have to do B if you’re thinking about it, you should consult a professional about doing that. But when I came out of that, it was like a pivotal point in my life where I was able to like kind of discard this kind of stress ball and rebuild myself Brick by Brick going forward stronger, better, you know, with all that like kind of pent up anxiety and energy gone. And from there, it things started clicking things started started going better, but I had to that water fast period was kind of a it was just a big reset. Like, for me that’s what it meant for me. For somebody else. Maybe you need to just go go on a vacation go somewhere or have a long weekend or take a month off or put your phone in a safe for like a month or something.
Yeah. I think what you’re really getting to and there’s there’s drastic examples of this like you just talked about But there’s also a way less drastic example, which is to change your state. Like to physically and mentally change your state. For me, that’s usually as simple as going for a walk. Or like I know, recently, my web design club, we have one of our members, April, who was going through a really tough situation we want to her clients and her client would not pay. And she was really stressed she got my two cents about it and some of the some feedback from the other members. And she was about ready to go for a run after our call.
Well, actually, just today, we heard that was last week, we heard that after her run, she got back to her, she felt good. She was stern, but not, you know, mean or jerk, but she really just was stern about needing it paid and the client apologize, and they got it worked out. So just that simple act of like the community aspect, getting another set of you know, eyes on the situation, and then changing her state going for a run really helped her and I think that’s a, it’s really at the core what you’re talking about, again, yours is a drastic example. But maybe I don’t know all the details that you are going through, but maybe in that you were in that place of life where you just you really needed a drastic reset, I’m actually curious, like, for you, what was the impetus of going that drastic with with that type of water fast as opposed to just going for a vacation? Or in your case? You know, just go on off grid for a week and hiking? What what was? Did you feel like metabolically and everything you just needed to completely have a clean slate as you kind of mentioned or what, why so drastic?
Part of it is just my personality, like, you know, running sled dogs, hundreds of miles or long distance hiking 1000s of miles or climbing Mount expounds. Like I’m kind of an extreme personality type. So if I was gonna do
Cuz you’re so chill, like you sound so chill
I mean, I’m not like this, like, over the top guy about those kinds of things. It’s just what I really enjoy. So I knew like, Alright, I want to go all the way here. And I think part of it too. And you mentioned, I believe her name was April in your community, perhaps sometimes, these things like imposter syndrome come up, like if a, if a client isn’t paying maybe what does that say about my value, or as an entrepreneur, the work I provided, if I’m not as successful with my product, or my agency, maybe I’m just not that good. These are all these like kind of imposter stuff.
And I think that big thing that I whether I like really consciously knew it or not, but when I came back and kind of rebuild from that was I really owned it like, this is like I’m burning the ships, like I’m this is Chris, the entrepreneur, I love this stuff. I just need to get through this dip, I’m owning this 100% Lets go. And I could see I could see like an energy shift around me, like in the sense of, you know, things started clicking More attracting more partnerships and things just made sense. Things just made sense. More.
So yeah, that’s, it’s just kind of that it’s crossing a chasm, you know, it sounds you can see it, you can read a book like The Lean Startup and you’re like, Okay, I’m gonna go out, I’m gonna validate the product. And you hear these stories, like most most entrepreneurs, it takes three years to replace their, their, their job, income levels, or whatever. It For Me, I think it took like four or five, I’m like, alright, that’s fine. But those are like some hard, hard years, especially if you don’t have like, a lot of resources on the side to help support that. So it’s, it’s that period of making that decision, it feels good when you’re like, Alright, I’m going to do my own thing. And I’m going to, I’m going to be an entrepreneur, but to actually do it is super hard in the beginning.
Well, in a big, big shift, I think we’re seeing now and entrepreneurialship is I think so many people are burned out that there is such a push for mental health and for balance, specially work life balance when it comes to people working from home, which the whole world kind of entered our world last year in 2020. It was like, well, welcome to what we do every day with Zoom calls. And, you know, trying to turn off our brains at 5pm or 6pm, or whatever. There is a lot to that which I actually I’m really excited about the landscape of entrepreneurship now because there is a lot more talk about that. And I’ve always felt like it’s so much more important to focus on sustainability. Rather than just chasing the next big opportunity or the next big client or whatever that looks like it’s so much more important to make sure day to day you’re enjoying yourself.
And I think it goes back to the planning thing we were talking about briefly, which is where you could you could plan a year out but then what’s your capacity look like? What what are you going to have to fill your days with in order to get to that goal? Is it worth it? Or do you want to take things you know, by quarter there’s there’s kind of a difference between What you need to have to support yourself and your family? And then what you need to have to support your business? And then what it looks like from there, like, what’s it going to look like for what have you launched or what your prices are.
So I say all that to say that makes a lot of sense, man to, to kind of, again, it’s gonna, it’s gonna figure out, or it’s going to look different for everybody as far as what you need to figure out to do in those periods. But it really is interesting to hear you as such a chill type of person to want to go that hardcore into something. I guess that’s kind of common, though, right? It’s like, why a bunch of rock climbers are real chill, people are like surfers are really too, but then they’re nuts in the waves. And even a lot of athletes, like I’m a hockey guy. So a lot, you know, those dudes will destroy each other. And then they come back. And they’re like, Yeah, that was a pretty good shift. It’s, it’s very, it’s very different from people who are like, lively and charismatic, but maybe don’t, or maybe they’re not that way from an action standpoint.
Anyway, without derailing, it’s in the psychology of that, I do find that fascinating. Now, I do have one question about that, because I’m so interested in that drastic approach. Not that I’m ever going to do that. But it’s fascinating to me. Was there any part of you that did that? Because you felt like if I could get through this, these other situations would feel not as bad? Was that at all in your mind? Or?
I don’t think so. But only because I had already learned that lesson in the wilderness, I’d been in several like, you know, on the edge of like, major catastrophe, potentially the death situations and climbing environments or an Alpine Mountain environments. The nature taught me about, if I can do this, I can do anything. So I think I had already figured that out. Like, nature is the best teacher, but in my opinion, so if and that’s one of the ways honestly, that are actually that keeps me my passion alive, as well as just that nature connection. Like this morning, I was walking in the woods. That’s like always like a natural reset in your head kind of empties out a little bit. But yeah, that’s, it wasn’t that I needed to prove something to myself, it was more and I didn’t just like go all in like I had tried it before. Like, I did, like a three day juice fast. And then I did, like, you know, like some intermittent fasting and I saw like results on a, like a kind of validation test level, like, Okay, this is cool. This is, uh, this is neat. I mean, there’s a and then I studied it like crazy. I mean, I went really deep. I went into all this research books, YouTube channels. And I’m like, Cool. I mean, I was pretty like, it wasn’t like a like on a whim. I was I was I prepared for it for a while.
Yeah. Yeah, that’s fascinating. Man, again, change changing your state, whatever that could look like that. There’s definitely a lot of power on that. Now. I would love to talk about planning for these type of seasons versus just being reactionary to them. Like, like you said, a lot of people just burn out. And they’re like, oh, then I’ve got then they’ve got to do something about it. You mentioned that my whole plan after a course launch is that I kind of take some some soft workdays and stuff.
The only reason I have learned to do that is because with revamping this last course, that would technically be my 11th course. And I learned every course I did that I was completely and utterly exhausted after launching a course and you know, as a course creator, and I mean, all projects are exhausting. But I’ll tell you what, there there is something extra exhausting about a course in particular, and like putting all of your knowledge in a subject, particularly if it’s a bigger course, from planning, content creation, recording, posts, editing, postproduction, launching, marketing, fulfill, like there’s all these aspects to it that are quite draining. And I just, I’m just saying I learned, after about five or six courses that the week after I launch a course, I’m going to be done. So keep it light, keep it simple.
I could take like a full week off if I wanted to, but I didn’t really feel that need for right now. But I do try to kind of plan around those launches. Where are you at with planning for that stuff when it comes to projects versus just letting that burn that burnout feeling kind of creep up? Have you learned? Or do you have any tips or tricks for kind of knowing when those are going to come or anticipating those that maybe my audience could could pull from and their projects and their day to day?
This is probably going to be one of the most valuable parts of the episode because I’d nerd out on this stuff. Alright, here we go. The first thing I would just kind of weave into what we were just talking about about this idea of going on a founder retreat going on a vision quest going on a reset Going on a dopamine detox, whatever you want to call it to just kind of reconnect with yourself. And then there’s a. So just kind of, it’s not just about making money.
So there’s like this social science research these two guys, their names were Ryan and DC, I can’t remember their first names, but they they created and studied and found this theory of motivation, which really humans are driven by three things. One of them is autonomy, so like freedom and agency to do what you want to do. Another one is relatedness. It’s like the human connection. And then other one is competence, like to get better and better at something.
So when you look at your online business, or whatever it is, this effort you’re going to do is, is it going to allow you more freedom in your life, not just like financial, but just freedom and agency to do what you want to do be around who you want to be, work the way you want to work, and so on?
Is it going to be with people you enjoy, like, if you’re going to build a web design agency, one of my top tips is to focus on a niche with people you like. So for example, I have a background in outdoor tourism. If I was gonna do it, again, I might focus my agency on like, adventure, outdoor location businesses, because that’s an industry I really know, I really enjoy the people there. I understand. It’s fun. And then the competence is like, if I’m going to go into this thing, I don’t do anything halfway. So I like to make sure that it passes, I heard somebody else use this term, the corner office test. So I look at somebody and I’m like, okay, that person who’s like five years ahead of me, do I want to be like that person? Yes or no? And if the answer’s no, that’s where people end up in a situation where they lean the ladder against the wrong wall, and only to realize that 5 10 20 30 years later, which is a huge tragedy. So now, I’ll back off of being philosophical and go into the tactics unless you want to jump in with anything before I go there.
And no, no, that’s great. I was I echo each one of those sentiments. Yeah, they’ll go for it.
Um, so tactically, there’s a business coach I worked with for a couple years. His name is Dan Martell, he’s awesome, you should go check out his YouTube channel, he helps software companies grow and scale, essentially, he’s an awesome guy. He’s kind of an integrated guy. So he’s got, you know, he’s really good at business. But he also really focuses on the quality of relationships and his health and his community and stuff like that.
But I learned Dan’s process for doing a strategic plan, which actually goes big, it’s kind of like, essentially, what you do is you get a Word document. And there’s, I’m going to give you some headers here, one area is the three-year plan, then one year is the one-year plan. And then you go into the the four quarters. So and then there’s, there’s even some bigger like mission, vision ten-year plan stuff. The reason you want to go on the walkabout, or the soul searching thing is, you if you don’t have that vision, vision and mission locked in like that ideal customer kind of locked and the people you want to work with and sort of a vision for your life, what we’re about to say, doesn’t matter.
Because you’re going to burn out or you’re going to realize you don’t like it, or the ladders on the wrong tree, or you find yourself unfocused, because you don’t know where you’re going. That’s why that vision stuff’s really important. It doesn’t mean it can’t change, but at least kind of spend some time there. And it’s amazing what your subconscious mind will do if it kind of knows where you’re trying to go. But essentially, the, if we go down to the year level, that what I like to do is a combination of doing like a SWOT analysis, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, like with your business. What are we good at? What do we average at? What do we suck at kind of analysis with honesty? And you can do this as a one person company? Or is a big company. This strategic planning meetings work?
And then really, it comes down to like, your three year goals, like how big do you want to be like, what are you going to be known for? What kind of things are launched? What kind of support do you have? What kind of community are you doing? What are all these like big vision goals? Then what’s a reasonable amount we can achieve in a year. And then basically, you know, as a company doing a one to two day process where you figure these things out at the year and then again, every quarter touchpoint you’re able to kind of chunk those things down, prioritize them, give yourself permission to not work on this thing that’s important this year, in quarter One, just push it down to quarter two. And then once you’re in quarter one stay there.
Success leaves clues. – Chris
The world might change, some major world event might happen or some competitor threat might come up or some partnership opportunity might arise. And you can adjust doesn’t mean you can’t adjust. But actually going through your quarterly plan, I mean, I have a browser tab on my or a bookmark on my computer, I look at it every day just to keep me focused. But that’s really what it all boils down to. And if you can, taking a week off a quarter is a smart move. Like I noticed some of the I also study a lot of people that are further along than me. And I noticed a lot of people that are pretty successful take vacations, and they plan they do quarterly and annual planning. And, you know, they take, you know, at least a week or two off a quarter to refresh and recharge. And I’m like, Okay, well, success leaves clues. Maybe I’ll do that, too.
Yeah. Something you said there, I don’t want to overlook which is, you said, how much can I get reasonably get done in this time period, that is key, because we can make all these plans. And we can have all these aspirations. But a lot of times, I think sometimes when we’re looking at the big picture, it’s really easy to look past what we can get done in a week, or a couple of weeks, or even smaller than that, and a couple days. That’s kind of what led me to really do the quarter-by-quarter approach with my goals over the past year or so is early this year, and 2021. I had these big goals that I wanted to hit by the end of the year. And they’re pretty much all changed because I reevaluated some things I looked at priorities.
I also realized one thing I didn’t factor in personally in my business. And this stems back to when I when you interviewed me on on your podcast for LMS cast, which was kind of more of a coaching type of call is I had all these ideas about where I wanted to go. But then I realized I was kind of more focused on just me, me me and I wasn’t really focused on my target students and my target audience, and what they were really going to want and need help with. And so that led me to put more emphasis on what I have in place right now, rather than creating all new courses and new stuff is revamping courses, putting more into my web design Club, which anyone can join at Josh hall.co/web design club.
Like all these things that are really boosting up what I haven’t placed now and boosting my mission. Now, I’ve really had to reevaluate, but it all went back to what I could get done daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, which is really going to be a big impact for the year because I do, I do think that’s a tricky aspect is a lot of people have an annual goal, which I think there’s a lot of great strengths about that, and a good reason to have that as a target. But what you do to get there very well may change, particularly the landscape of things. And sometimes you have really good months and not so great months, and that ends up evening out in some ways, too.
So I just wanted to bring up that point again, because what you said there, what you can reasonably get done is key because it’s like, yeah, I can set a goal for myself. And then if you look at it, if you drill down into the depths of everything you just listed out, you may have just created a 90 hour a week job for yourself. So it’s like, what can you do to maybe that’s a good question here, Chris, if we do that you have these aspirations, what are the tricks? And what are some of the tips to get away from creating an 80 90 hour a week job for yourself as a delegation is that? You know, you talked about investing in software automation, what are some of the things that could come into play to help that if you do want to hit some sort of goal big, audacious goal?
Yeah, that’s, that’s great. One of the things again, I learned from Dan Martell is that if you can, this was a big unlock for me. So hopefully it works for you out there. You got your three big rocks for a quarter, whatever those are big key projects, people to hire, whatever it is these three really important things. But only three and here’s I’m going to take even more power away from you. Okay, only one of those can be something new. Two of those are going to be amplifying something that’s already working. So you get to amplify one new. So that right there just that one thing can like be a game changer. And then what you do is those big rocks, you know you fill in like the the micro pieces under that like the mini projects under that to achieve those. So there’s this story about you’ve probably heard about the, you know, putting the boulder and the pebbles in the sand and the jar. And essentially what you want to do is you want to put your big stuff in the jar which is your capacity first so you got three big rocks. Then you put in the medium stuff and then you put in the sand if you try to just put in a bunch of sand and pebbles and then squeeze the big rocks and they don’t fit. So that that was a big unlock
A great analogy. That’s awesome. Yeah.
And then another thing, and this is just what works for me. I mean, I’m a, I’m a kind of personal development, productivity junkie. And I’m also a minimalist. And these things kind of work together. So literally, for a lot of what I do, I have my strategic document for the, you know, the year and the quarter and three years stuff. And then every day I work off of a single piece of paper. And when I start my week, or and I day, that’s there’s another great quote here, which is plan tomorrow today. So if you can end your day, planning the next day, and for me, what that means is, if I can only give three things, what are the three most important things I have to get done tomorrow? And I put those down, and only three, no more? Sure, I’m going to end up doing other stuff and email, whatever. But like, what are the three daily tasks or things I need to focus on that serve my quarterly objectives? And just if you can just lock in that rhythm, that’s a huge game changer.
Okay, a couple of great takeaways. I have to hit on that. First of all, yes, plan the night before, what you’re gonna do the next day that actually has helped me sleep better and rest at night. And you would think it’d be opposite. You would think like, well, if I’m already thinking about tomorrow, I might not be able to, you know, zoned out tonight, or really, you know, just take my time off, I actually found it’s quite the opposite. Because if you know what you’re going to do, it’s like you’ve already you’ve already Yeah, it’s like, yeah, you’ve already got it out of your head, already. Got it out, got it on paper, got in your schedule, whatever it is, that really does help.
So that would be a nice little tactical challenge, I would encourage everyone to do. Like, right now, as you’re listening to this, whether it’s morning, afternoon, or night, time and evening, whatever. Think about what you’re going to do tomorrow, whatever it looks like for you that could be written down. It could be in a Google Doc, for me, a lot of times I just look at my calendar. And I just mentally take a note of okay, here are the three things I’m going to do. Even just thinking about, like planning in my own head, what am I going to do, even if I don’t write it down.
I’ve got less and less strict about writing things down. That’s kind of good and bad part of me is like, it’s kind of nice, because it’s, you know, I don’t have to have a Google Doc, I need to keep track of anything. But at the same time, I’m kind of going back to trying to write more down, but it really is a release, it’s a great point that will help. So that’s my challenge for everybody try that out for like a week or two.
The other big takeaway for me there, Chris was the idea of these like three big goals, three big things every quarter, which would equate to 12 things a year, whatever those 12 things would look like whether it’s a high bar launch only like that is, as I’ve looked back, even at what I’ve done with Josh Hall co like, if that really does make sense. That’s about what I’ve done. But what I really liked on a deeper level with that was one thing new to what was it two things that would amplify amplifiers. And yeah, so that that’s great, too, because especially as anyone who’s doing content creation, or marketing, which we all generally are, at some point we all marketing or selling, it takes a lot of stress off your plate, when you might just focus on one new thing, a quarter, one new product, one new launch, one new webinar, that’s going to be a sales funnel, whatever it is, I just love that. So you were right, this was the best part of the episode so far, I think.
I got another pro tip, I’m gonna figure a way and stay on the study or personality types. And I know some people like to plan like I’m a big planner and calendar and time blocker. In some people, like I don’t want any of that man, just let me go, I need to like, be creative and stuff. And where I actually ended up is like, kind of in the middle, even though I’m more towards the like, I want to plan everything. But one of the things has been the most helpful for me both for the key projects and keeping up with everything else, whatever that is, is to work through habits more than projects. So the way I do that is I have a lot of recurring events on my calendar, and most of them are things I do with myself.
So, for example, Wednesdays, for me, I called Deep Work Wednesdays so like there’s nothing but giant blocks on my two giant blocks on my calendar that I never have any meetings besides my one team meeting. And that’s where I get a lot of those big rock stuff that the parts of them that I’m doing done. But then the other thing like I have this social media block, which was actually today this morning, where I do my like kind of business focused social media activity, but I time block it to an hour and a half on Tuesdays at this time in the morning. And then at the end of the day for me that’s between five and 6pm. I do what I call inline multitasking, which is where I the email inbox comes up. I haven’t even seen my email until 5pm and I At 6pm, my, my wife is gonna be upset if I’m not in for dinner. So there is only an hour and it is not expanding. So I get in there. And then that’s when I do all the like the the multitasking brain work, I might be all over the place getting ping here to here. But throughout the day and in combination with my morning routine, all the key stuff has been done. And then that exhausting multitasking is just the last thing I do. Right? Yeah, go ahead.
I was just gonna say real quick. You mentioned the it’s not going to expand past that. What does that Parkinson’s Law where it’s like, a task will expand with the amount of time that you give it.
So totally, yeah.
Laid out eight hours to do email, you would take eight hours to do email, probably.
Exactly. And it That’s true on the micro like on the day, but it’s also true on the macro. So if you’re doing your quarterly planning, and you’re like, oh, I need like a couple years to figure out my course. What if you only had a quarter? What if you only had a month? What if it was like one rock in this three rock quarter. And this MVP needs to roll out this month? Like you can do different versions of things. And you don’t always hit it perfectly. And sometimes, you know, you need more time in the next week or month or a year even but yeah, it definitely expands. So tests test your assumptions on like how long you think something should or needs to take.
Yeah, that’s great. And as those deep work segments, I found to be huge. I’ve talked a lot about that on the podcast over the past couple of years, for sure is really creating segments in your day in your workweek. And I know not everybody listening is in the exact same roles that we are as, as you know, you owner and CEO of lifter LMS doing a lot of calls and me as a course creator and content creator and stuff. But I did learn this stuff in these principles as a solopreneur. And as an agency owner, scaling my business like it all applies. The reason I was able to take my business now to the level it’s at within a couple years is all the lessons that I learned mostly the hard way as a solopreneur in a freelancer or an agency owner as a web designer.
But that’s key to like all web designers can control their schedule, you don’t have to be a 24/7 support person, that’s a biggie for web designers as they keep their email open all day, notifications on and phone on all day. That’s those are the recipes for disaster and burnout right there if you do all those, but just like you said, Chris, if you can allocate certain tasks a certain times a day, I know practically one thing that really helped me as as a web designer, fulfilling a lot of different web design projects, with a lot of different clients was having a block of by day for reactionary work. Because inevitably, as a web designer, you’re gonna have something go wrong or challenge is gonna come up. If you have a reactionary work block every day, even if it’s just a half an hour, an hour, that time is is gold. And you even if you see an issue in the morning, you can say oh, I’ll get to it in my reactionary block unless the site’s down or something. Sounds like that’s along the same lines of what you’ve learned to do to kind of craft your lifestyle in what works for your days, your times your call schedule, etc. So I just wanted to throw some web design specific examples in there because it really translates to what you’re talking about.
And one more tip for the web designers out there as you can also theme your days like, you know, marketing Monday’s, client call Tuesdays, do the actual implementation Wednesdays and Thursdays. And Friday is is working on your business type activities. Like just by chunking chunking. Things out can happen in large and small and medium sized scales.
Yeah. And something you mentioned earlier that I forgot about. But perfect time to bring this back up is the idea of like planning something, but then also realizing there is a creative aspect to what we do is web designers. And this is really tricky, because you can say, okay, Tuesday, I’m going to work on this website. And then what happens Tuesday morning comes around and got nothing. I’ve got no creativity, and that’s the worst. And I’ve been there. And when I got really serious about running my business and working on the business, I struggled with that because I was like, Okay, I’ve got like, you know, five hours allotted to this website. But then I’ve just got nothing. And then I’m doing dishes at 9pm at night. And then my inspiration hits and I’m like, oh, man, I wish I could be working on the site now.
So one thing I learned that helped me was to give some grace in and around those themed days are those segments to where if for some reason, I just wasn’t feeling it on that Tuesday, whatever I had on the books for Wednesday, unless it was a scheduled call or something I would move and I would do Tuesday, like maybe I would move forward to working on my business then. And then I would save this project till Wednesday, or this part of the project. So have you ever experienced anything like that where you know, because we are balancing creativity and productivity which is really tricky. You got like two different sides of the Working, I see you smiling. So I bet you got a lot of thoughts on that.
I do this might be another one of those key parts of the show. Yeah, so as an entrepreneur, and especially if you come from the web design world, or there’s the kind of the creative world, it’s this kind of strange combination of like, extreme right brain creative work with no boundaries, mixed with his very left brain, like budgeting, project management, feature requirements kind of thing. And these two worlds collide, you can do it all as one person, and you’ll have, you know, your specialties and whatnot. And maybe as you grow, and you build a team, you know, you have some people that kind of exist in different parts of that. But when it comes to building your business, or building a course, or coaching program, or building a website for a client, I think it’s really important to go through the creative brain first.
And I’m a big mind mapper. So I just started like, throwing ideas like on this whiteboard behind me or on my iPad, or on piece of paper. If I’m like coming up with like, a course idea, or some kind of, oh, what can we do this quarter, before we get into, like, the really rigid strategy document, let’s just go crazy. You know, put on some music, see what happens. And if that mood strikes me when I’m supposed to be, you know, doing something that’s just more mechanical, I’m gonna ditch it if I can, and just go with it. Because when it strikes, it strikes.
And I mean, I even get out of bed, like, this is the thing. This is how you know, and you don’t lose the passion to tie it back into the theme of the show. I wake up every morning excited. And sometimes I wake up early, this is one of the best things from the water fast, by the way is that I literally was a night person staying up till 4am. And I became I reconnected with the earlier version of myself, which was early riser, I started getting up early again. But I will sometimes wake up at four o’clock this morning. And just go and there’s no distraction, it’s dark. And I will go into some creative process. But figuring out how to go left brain right brain and not feel guilty about it. If you’re in the wrong place, the wrong time is a it’s important. And the best outcome comes from kind of marrying those two together. It’s an iterative process.
Yeah. Let’s, we got to talk about the problem that I’m sure you face many times. Because I know I sure have. And that is when you’re in the zone and you’re in the flow. And you’re like all I’ve got it like you’d set it lightning is struck. And then you look at your clock, he’s like shit, I’ve got a call in 10 minutes. So that’s like, while I’m writing the heat of this, you know, a creativity now I’ve got a call or something. And I’ve had to actually really work out how I plan that around doing podcasts and stuff like that. How have you do you think it’s as simple as just planning, like almost planning time for that lightning to strike? versus not doing anything creative around call days and call times? Like, what are some of the I guess my question is, have you gone through that? And what did you learn how to do learn to make sure that doesn’t happen? With getting those inspirational moments right before the mechanical stuff or calls and things like that?
Well, for First of all, like even you you I remember, we had a meeting that you kept canceling or whatever, I didn’t feel bad about that at all. You were like rescheduling it like, Am I alright, he’s got some going, it’s cool. I totally get that. And maybe you’re in one of those things. So like at first you see it and other people, but also in yourself, you should respect it. I think it kind of comes back to the that morning routine for me and the nature stuff. So a lot of my best stuff does not happen in my office, I’ll be out on a trail, walking my dogs in the woods. Just even like, I’ll like, just be doing something normal, like washing the dishes. And then I gotta like get my journal and write some down.
The first thing is, you have to do an idea capture. So it happens to me all the time. Almost every day while I’m out walking or running or whatever, I stopped. I grabbed my phone, and I do voice to text and email myself some kind of message that will that once I look at that it’ll trigger where my head was, when that thing whatever it was came in. So the first thing is to just capture it. And I mean, you can do something on your board like the or on a piece of paper and you’re like, it’s kind of funny how often I email myself not in my workstation. And that little even sometimes it’s a misspelled word. I’m like cool that’s it all that thing about like, oh, a lot of your best ideas in the shower you forget it’s true. You do so capture that thing and then
That’s a great point my, my my camera like my photos are mostly of my girls and then right And I’m like screenshots of stuff that I’ll remember or see. And I’m like, Oh, this gave me a good idea. And then what I’ll do is usually, like once a week or so I’ll like send those to myself, or I’ll just take, take a snapshot of what I was, you know, like URL, I’ll take a screenshot or a picture of something that reminded me something I should do on a chorus or a call or whoever I forgot about something. Or I saw that Chris posted the episode I was on lifterLMS cast, I want to remind myself to listen to that tomorrow, I might take a screenshot of it and then see it tomorrow. So yeah, I just wanted to back that up, because I did the same thing. And it’s usually stuff on my phone or little notes or something.
A lot of us use Slack to I slack by myself more than I find my team. Like, it’s kind of like, I think people used to use Evernote. I mean, maybe still do. But like, for me, I just like Slack myself, I don’t have all the tags in the organization. But I’m constantly slacking myself. And I find it’s
Weird, isn’t it? Like you would think it’s kind of a weird practice, but what you’re doing is so valuable with keep like, again, going back to this idea of keeping the passion alive. And and that is to get stuff out of your head, even if you email yourself or I do find that helps that if you almost like take yourself out of your own shoes and treat yourself like a different person. Like right now, you know, your Chris off of your clocked out. So you shouldn’t need to think about this. So yeah, email Chris, who’s on who’s going to be on tomorrow. And that’s who will worry about it really is it’s weird. But it’s as simple as that to keep your sanity day to day doing web design and entrepreneurial tasks.
Also do use Twitter in this way. Like, if I am listening to a podcast and I learned something. If it’s like directly, sometimes I’ll just write what I heard. And I try to give credit where credit’s due and like tagged or quote the person. But sometimes I’ll get an idea and in my head from somebody, and then it’ll merge with another idea. I have my head and then those two ideas have a baby. Now that’s an original thought. And I’ll just like tweet it, and then maybe and then when I pops in my head, like, Oh, what was that thing where, and I just go through my twitter thing, and I find it. It’s just crazy. The tools we have to like curate inspiration. That’s the most important part.
Yeah, and I know, I’m somebody who has continually and over the years become more and more simplistic with the my toolset. I really don’t use them. I don’t even use Slack anymore. I don’t really use much at all, like I try to keep stuff out of my head. But I have notoriously like less in my toolbox and just stuck to basic strategies, pen and paper, a lot of times, notes on my phone pictures, whatever, just to keep it simple. So because I think that’s something that’s overwhelming for a lot of people was like, well, now do I need like a certain tool for this and so certain tool for this, and that can be overwhelming in itself. So I would encourage everyone, no matter where you are, just do what works for you.
Like for you, Chris, I don’t have Twitter, I I don’t use Twitter at all. So I’m not going to take that approach. But by golly, that works for you. That’s awesome. And I definitely encourage everyone to do what works for them. I am curious. This we talked a lot about tactics and implementation, stuff like that. But at the core of keeping passion alive, you talked about in the beginning, what led you to that passion, what the goal is what your mission is in a company as a company. How do you revisit that? Like do you look at is your podcast kind of a thing for you that helps you reinvigorate vigorate, your, your passion? Because you hear from customers? Like do you look at testimonials and reviews? Do I guess on that note on for customers? How do you keep the passion alive by going back to them? What what kind of things have you done to to keep that passion alive? You know, with your with your current customers?
Yeah, that’s a great question. I mean, you know, there’s some things that never get old, like a PayPal notification, so and so just paid use what I’ve heard, like, those never hold even.
Yeah, God, I’m so sick of seeing these payments coming.
But when, but when you get a positive testimonial, or, you know, I’ve had crazy stuff happen, like where people say like, oh, did you know that your software you know, I’m thinking of Ziv, who’s a great guy in Israel who he teaches in a really small niche called balloon artists, like the people, the child entertainers that tie animal balloons, he used our software and his first year he did 277k in a very micro niche. There’s only like 5000 Serious balloon artists in the world. And when you hear stuff like that, and you see it, it’s like so inspiring.
And sure, like, you know, as a software company as an example, we get like customer support or tech people are having tagged troubles and that’s hard and not it’s not as inspiring but it’s a part of the landscape is supporting people when things aren’t working. But so, so really, there’s a couple things we do to kind of to systematize that and lock it into the business, because we’re bigger and we have a team on on Thursdays, I run a team meeting, a kind of all hands meeting. And I put a segment in that call where it’s called wins. And anybody on the team can share a customer win accompany win, or a personal when in their life, or all three or not saying anything, and that’s completely fine. And so that process is really kind of reminded us, or gives us gives us space, a lot of entrepreneurs don’t celebrate where they’re at. And you have to make the space is all right onto the next fire. But if you if you kind of take a moment to reflect and celebrate, it means a lot, especially in a team.
And especially with a team of your size. One thing that James Rose, the founder of content snare, who’s a close buddy of mine, one thing he started doing was he realized his dev team was all they were doing was handling problem tickets and support tickets and putting out fires, it had dawned on him that they’re not seeing the wins of the company. So he did something similar was like he’s gonna share when somebody sends a good note. And something like the your product helped me do this. He wants to make sure they see that.
And that’s one thing I’ve tried to implement with my team too, although it’s really small right now I just have Kam, my VA and then they did my podcast editor. But I know one thing for her, for example was we added transcriptions, like full transcriptions to every podcast episode from episode like 50 on, we’re still backlog in the catalogue and adding more transcriptions. But it’s a lot of work. And she does a lot of work weekly on that. And I got an email from a gal who’s I think she was in Spain. And she said, Hey, I just want to thank you so much for adding the transcriptions because I don’t speak English as a first language. Now I can listen to the episode and follow along. And it’s really helped me. So I shared that with her. And I said, Hey, I just want to let you know, your work is not in vain. Like this is you know, where there’s probably a lot more of this going on, that people haven’t told us about. And if that is you, let me know, shoot me and go to my website, Joshhall.co, click contact and let me know of anything like that, because I love that kind of stuff. But that’s just an example I wanted to share. Because I shared that with her and it made her day she was like, thank you so much for sending this. It really, you know, it makes that work go so much faster and better for me. So sounds like you’ve implemented something similar.
Totally. And I even do it myself on that piece of paper, I work off, I do the three things I have to get done that day. But I also do three things I’m grateful for. So when you experience gratitude, it’s just like a big reset. So and that’s, that’s an idea I borrowed from the Five Minute Journal. But yeah, that’s you got to stop and like, appreciate or be appreciated.
Now how practically how did was Ziv?
How did he contact you? Was it just random? Or did you put a request out for a review or a testimonial? Because that’s another big thing is if you don’t ask for testimonials, you’re probably not going to get many testimonials. Not many people are just family going to be say, Hey, by the way, I love your work, some will, but it’s going to be rare. Like I’ve gone, I’ve really tried to go out of the way when somebody does any sort of service for me and say, Thanks, that was awesome. Thank you so much. Most people are not like that. And it’s not a fault of their own. Often it’s just we’re busy. And unless you ask for a review or ask for feedback, you may not get it. So in that case, yeah. How did how did you hear from him? Was it random? Or was it intentional?
Well, sometimes it’s random. But recently, I hired a Head of Customer Success, which includes kind of the final stage in the customer journey, which is evangelism, like testimonials, case studies, things like that. So when I hired this role, I needed to like really systematize like, our existing processes and procedures around evangelism for which is testimonials, case studies, reviews, those kinds of things, becoming an affiliate partner, all that stuff. So So I went through an inventory and I did what’s work.
You’re a good interviewer. I’m going to give all my best secrets away here. – Chris
So this is another area, you’re a good interviewer. Well, I’m going to give all my best secrets away here, which are Yeah, you do have to ask for it. If you one of the reasons why it’s great to have a community, an online community is sometimes you’ll just capture it, you’ll see somebody say something.
So one thing you need to do there is just get in the habit of taking a screenshot. I always like to ask for permission to like reshare it somewhere else outside of those places or whatever. But so get in the habit of like when you see it, capture it have a folder or an air table or whatever the tool you use to like store these things. Because you’d be surprised as a business over time. If you don’t, if you’re doing things halfway okay. It’s gonna become you’re not gonna be able to keep up with them all because there’s gonna be a lot and and you’ll miss them but then if you Actually, as forum, you’ll get a lot.
So here’s some pro tips. If you’re running a team, and you’re using a tool like HelpScout, it’s got like this, how is my reply rate, my reply. And when people hit the like, awesome button, you know, we have automation that like, kind of sends them into our advocacy flow of like, hey, yes, I’m gonna say, Can you leave us a review, so on and then maybe we find out about their story and do a case study.
The other thing you can do inside courses is, at the very end of a course, like towards the last lesson, I recommend using a form of some kind to capture a review. And always, I don’t like reviews that are like, kind of conditional like you, you must do this, it must be good. It’s more like, Hey, is a great time to leave a review or feedback, positive, negative or neutral, so we can learn what we’re doing right, be inspired. Or if we’re not, if we’re falling down in some way learn so we can improve. So that’s like a great kind of way to get honest feedback. And some of the best stuff you can kind of roll towards the testimonial flow and the more constructive criticism you can roll into improving and amplifying in your next quarter the Okay, we’re gonna make this course better,
I think a great point, what you said there about capturing the unassuming type of responses. That’s huge. And I’ve found that as a web designer, some of the best testimonial snippets I got were just random emails, or it was like at the end of a project, like we would launch and they would say, I’m so pumped about the website, thank you so much, you you have been like the best web designer I’ve ever worked with. And I think about how many times I just let that go by. And I didn’t save that. And I didn’t use that as a snippet. And I And yeah, it just comes down to you just asking, you know, I really appreciate what you said, Can I use that as a testimonial?
Because what happens often, is when you request a testimonial, some testimonials are awesome. But then inevitably, some people who aren’t comfortable writing are not comfortable on camera, have they send the video review, or whatever, it becomes really stiff and really rigid. And it’s like Josh’s service was immaculate, and my website is has exceeded far all my expectations. You know, it’s like really, it’s like clear that, okay? They really like overthought this and made it a little too, a little too, you know, strict and again, kind of rigid, to where yeah, those genuine replies can be the best. I know, I practically found this out with my web design club. I did a push for reviews and stuff from the club.
And what was really funny is I had a lot of members who just were messaging me and said amazing things. But sometimes the official review again came a little more like it was a little more stiff sounding. And I ended up just going back to him and being like, actually, you already said something similar and a messaging Do you mind if I just use this as a testimonial and that’s the way it worked out. So that’s a great point. Those little snippets of praise and wins and things that can’t 100% be a testimonial snippet. Don’t let those go by take a screenshot put it in a folder put them in a spreadsheet like I said keep track of those it’s one thing I’m really challenging myself to do right now especially like I do get the occasional emails when people ask and stuff and they’ll be like, by the way, you know, like your podcast is is it huge benefit I really just love listened to it’s helped me grow my business. And I’m usually quick to save that and say, Would you mind leaving that as a review? Or you know repurposing that so. I don’t want to get too far. Oh, go ahead.
I just want to get one more pro tip is you can escalate them to so this one of the great things about having a podcast is you know, I interview people like you her in her in my industry and stuff. But I also interviewed customers to like Ziv after I saw like, whoa, what’s this balloon thing and 277k and all this stuff? Like, Hey, Ziv do you want to come on my podcast and tell your story? And so I was able to interview him, which is where we amassed like all the material for a detailed case study. Yeah, and like asking your customer to write a case study is not fair. So you should write the case study but anybody can if they want to can jump on a call and talk.
Yes, just do a call. Yeah. So it’s so funny man. We were talking about Gino either way earlier on, or before we went live. He was actually just on recently on the podcast episode 144. And the main theme of that podcast was doing case studies and interviews as marketing tools and that is such an underrated way to create content and get amazing feedback as a case study is just to simply have a call and record it and talk about what you learned in the process or feature them and what they’re doing with their website or whatever it is. That’s I’m so glad you said that because it’s a really underrated way to get a really good type of testimonial is to have some sort of case study that goes a little more in depth and can be used for reviews and testimonials. I love that.
Well, Chris, it’s already been an hour and a half man or almost an hour We could definitely bust out a three hour, two hours the max so far on the podcast, that’s been the record. But if there was anybody I would trust to beat that record, it would be used and maybe we’ll have to play in that way. One day.
We went Joe Rogan on it. And I just want to leave one final thought to here is on the topic of passion, sometimes you will see the masses or somebody’s respect, or a pop culture figure lose passion, it doesn’t mean that the show’s over or that you have to follow and what I mean by that is, you mentioned in the beginning, the changes with LearnDash. And I also have a lot of respect for what Justin’s done, and also writing about his honest take on his entrepreneur journey. LearnDash is two years older than lifter LMS he’s been at it longer than me. But just because and we’ve seen this a lot in the WordPress community. So if there’s any agency people walking, watching out there, WordPress kind of focus people. I’ve seen people say that like, Oh, I lost my passion for WordPress, I see it happen all the time, like throughout the years. And just because somebody loses it, it doesn’t mean the project’s doomed or that you Your days are numbered, like everybody’s different. Everybody’s kind of living their own path.
Just like they probably didn’t hear this episode. So
Yeah, everybody’s running their own race and you know, passion. It’s okay to change passion. If you’re done like it’s fine to move on. But ultimately, it’s it’s your choice to and your kind of discovery to, to figure that out. I think WordPress has a lot of legs in it. A lot of longevity, I think there’s never been a more exciting time to be a web designer, the tools and like the templates, and everything is awesome. The ability to sorry about that, or you need to become an entrepreneur. And like kind of get an online business started. The tooling has never been better, like it’s go time.
Yes, yes, it’s go time well said the demand for web designers the the emphasis on work life balance, like we’ve talked about, my gosh, community the the options for community now. Yeah, that the time is now man, it’s, I’m super excited about that. And to that point, like I pivoted big time talk about a change and passion I, I didn’t lose passion for my client work in web design, I just I had so much more passion with this, and doing courses and helping other web designers that that just far exceeded what I wanted to do with with client work, which is why I moved from that and why I sold my agency and why focus on some courses. So even, I feel like another maybe final point, I was gonna ask you a final thought. So you already got to. But I think sometimes you don’t necessarily, or you might not lose passion, but you might have something else come into the picture that you’re even more excited about. And that might make it shift a little bit. And it sounds like that’s kind of what you found out what lifter right, it was something that you tried out. And it really became came to the forefront for you.
100%. And I just want to find this quote by Steve Jobs, about connecting the dots. And what he said is that you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something your gut, your destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down and it has made all the difference in my life. So the windy road, like sometimes it doesn’t make sense. But in the rearview mirror, like the dots connect, and maybe maybe you pivot on your passion and stuff like that. But as long as you keep that fire going, and maybe it changes to a different fuel source. At the end, you’ll look back and it’ll the dots connect.
Yeah, well said I forgot about that quote. I haven’t heard that in years. But that’s a great representation of this in particular. Man, Chris, we’ve talked a lot we really speaking of weaving in and out we’ve really weaved in and out of the different ways to keep passion alive. During a journey from tactical kind of things. It really all starts if I can kind of encapsulate this talk. It starts with knowing who you are, what your goal is, what your mission is, who you serve, surrounding yourself with people to come alongside you in your journey, doing the habits the daily things that are going to keep you you know, keep you going and make you wake up excited to start your day. You know, I think being self aware about yourself and your projects and the planning annually quarterly the big rocks, the little stones, the sand everything mixed together. That was wonderful. Man, working, working with a team scheduling all those things we’ve talked about I really I really feel like kind of flushed out some really good ways to keep passion alive. So I I thoroughly enjoyed this chat man, thanks so much for taking a big chunk out of your day. Where would you like everyone to go? Listen to this? Is there a certain resource you want? Get your podcast? What? Where would you like everyone to go as we get ready to sign off here, man.
Uh, if you haven’t heard of my podcast, it’s called LMScast. And if you want to see a guy with passion, I would just do a Google search for LMS cast and then Ziv Raviv balloon artists, you’ll find that episode. And I that’s what I love about education entrepreneurs like you, Josh, is like when education entrepreneur really steps into their passion, all the dots connecting, it tends to work out. So yeah, go check out LMS cast, and you can also find me at All The Things Lifter LMS.
Awesome. We’ll all find that episode, and we’ll link it in the show notes too. I’m excited to check that out. Chris, thanks for your time. Again, man is always Always a pleasure chatting with you. And I just want to say we did have one round there where I had to keep on rescheduling. But I hope you knew that that was a rare occurrence. That’s not that’s not common for me. I think that was a rare case of things popping up. But as a as a family guy and as somebody you used to have little girls you know it goes sometimes so not rare, but I appreciate that man. I really appreciate you always have a great time chatting and I’m already looking forward to round three when we get to it, man. I’m sure it’ll be an awesome one.
Let’s do it. Thanks, Josh.
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