No matter what your ability is, effort is what ignites that ability and turns it into accomplishment.”

Dr Carol Dweck

Nick Shaw is the co-founder of Renaissance Periodization (RP), a multi-million-dollar health and fitness company that has improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of clients around the world. Through its leading programs, technologies, and team of PhDs on staff, RP gives its subscribers an easy to follow nutrition plan that fits neatly into your schedule so you can achieve your health / fitness goals. 

Over the years, the RP team has sold hundreds of thousands of books to help people with their nutrition, training, and recovery, and to help create healthy habits. Nick has also personally coached numerous world-class athletes including CrossFit Games champions, international weightlifters, UFC fighters, Navy SEALs, and Olympians.

Last year, Forbes published a feature story that documented Nick’s journey and RP’s meteoric rise from a small business into an influential tech company with an industry-leading mobile app available on both Apple and Google. 

However, tragedy struck in January 2020 when Nick’s wife, Lori Shaw, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. Lori is not just the mother to their two children, but also an instrumental part of the RP business.

Shortly after the diagnosis, the COVID pandemic swept the world, forcing the Shaw family to juggle homeschooling, chemotherapy treatments, and navigating the business landscape in the most uncertain time our generation has faced.

In November 2020, Nick published Fit for Success, a book that outlines the seven foundational habits for achievement to help anyone, irrespective of background, chart their path to success. It also delves into some of his favorite books, most valuable takeaways, and key lessons from his rollercoaster journey, to complement the insights gained from working closely with the most accomplished individuals on the planet.


Check out the YouTube or podcast version where Nick Shaw does the Win the Day Rocket Round, answering questions about his favorite quote, what advice he’d give his 18-year-old self, the one thing on his bucket list, and a whole lot more🚀


In this episode, we’ll go through:

Before we begin, remember that the right bit of inspiration can completely change the trajectory of someone’s life, so if there’s a friend or loved one who needs to hear this episode, share it with them right now. 

Let’s WIN THE DAY with Nick Shaw!

James Whittaker:
What was 'success' to you when you were a teenager? And when did the possibility of owning your own business first come on your radar?

Nick Shaw:
I was really into sports and anything fitness-centric. Although, I will say the one thing that I realized pretty early on that has always stuck with me — which is really important in fitness — there's never a place that you arrive at. You're always just doing it because you like it, there's always a little bit more you can strive for, and you can work really hard.

Typically, if you work really hard (like with fitness), results come. So I guess those were two really good things to be drilled in my brain early on. And they've always stuck with me because there are so many similarities between business and fitness, and I love seeing how those they're alike.

You're right, people get way too focused on a quick destination, rather than the journey. If they carry that attitude to multiple areas, their life can quickly become a mess.

Totally. It will. I can give you a great fitness example. A lot of people, they get so stuck on a set number, "Hey, I want to lose 20 pounds." And then they get those 20 pounds off, but then what? Or they don't develop those good habits because they are so focused on the outcome. What they need to focus is on is setting good habits.

They don't develop those good habits because they are so focused on the outcome.

If you focus on setting good habits, you're eventually going to get to a good outcome, but maybe that good outcome is you lose 15 pounds, but you don't have to do anything super crazy at the end. And, for most people, that's probably a better trade-off.

You need to love the process, rather than being so focused on the outcome.

What was the gap in the market that you saw for Renaissance Periodization (RP) and how were you able to assemble this amazing team of 20+ PhDs and eight registered dietitians to help make your vision a reality?

My buddy who started RP with me was always really smart guy. I met him in college. And he went on to get his masters and later he got his PhD in sport physiology, essentially studying how do you make athletes as best as they can be. That research requires you to take a look at a lot of finer details.

And so, we started out working with a lot of athletes. You would see some folks that could just skate by with genetics, but maybe the stuff that they were doing wasn't really the best. But if you have really good genetics, you can do that; you can skate by. But if you take someone with really good genetics, and then on top of that, you combine an evidence-based program that has the best methodology behind it, you get some really crazy outcomes.

Think of someone people like Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant, who are very genetically gifted, of course, but they are also just tenacious hard workers — probably some of the hardest workers of all time. If you combine genetic gifts with a tenacious work ethic, you get the best athletes of all time. So, that's really what we were just trying to combine. If you have just one or the other, that's okay. But if you combine both of them together, then you really have something. So, that's really what the gap was in the market about a decade ago.

What is an 'evidence-based approach' to nutrition and training for people who don't know?

You can find one study out there that can say pretty much anything, right? And so, if you only go by one study, you could be really led astray if you only go by that. But an evidence-based approach looks at all the combined evidence out there. You take a look at a meta analysis. You take a look at literature reviews, which can combine hundreds and hundreds of studies.

So, when you have hundreds of studies and it starts pointing you in one direction, you know that you're probably on the right track. Yet, if you only rely on one study, you may be heading in the wrong direction. And so, when you pool everything together, it just helps point you in the right direction. That's really what evidence-based is about.

In 2015, your wife Lori quit her successful corporate job to support you at RP. I'm married, you're married, so we know that marriages can be tough without the added complexity of working together at the same time! What did you focus on as a collective to make both your business and your marriage a success?

We were just really struggling in terms of the help we needed. You know how it is as a one-person business early on, where you have to do everything. I didn't know what it looked like, but I knew I needed help. Over time what we did, because as you said it can be tricky working with a spouse, right!? We focused on how we could compartmentalize things where Lori could do the things she wanted to do and is great at.

Because she left a fantastic corporate job and is a super, super smart, incredibly accomplished woman. We said, "You specialize in what you want to specialize because you're fantastic at doing that." And that's what led her into doing all of our cookbooks and recipes, and all that stuff, because she's a phenomenal cook, top-notch, and I'm very thankful for that, of course. Our approach was to give her a couple of areas that were all hers.

Yeah, the importance of having that discipline around each other's lane, so you can each focus on having the impact you want to have without feeling like you're stepping on each other's toes.

That's a real good summary. Because I mean, it is just another normal work setting, where sometimes you have to tell people what to do a little bit here and there. And if you mix that in with a spouse, you can carry over when the "work day" ends. So, it can be a little bit of a slippery slope, and that's why we wanted to segment things as best we could.

Well, it's a testament to both of your characters that you're still able to create such a successful business and have a great family at the same time. So, well done on keeping all of that together.

2020 was a year of enormous transition for the whole world, but in January 2020 your family was facing a lot more than the pandemic. Can you take us into that difficult time for your family, and perhaps what your mindset was like when you first received the news about Lori?

First of all, I'll say she's doing great now, a year and a half later, which is phenomenal news. In January 2020 she was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer, just five days before my son's eighth birthday. And then she had surgery in February. In March, she started chemo.

And then what happens in March 2020? COVID, the pandemic, and everything hit. And we had to take it incredibly serious because she's gone through chemo and was immune compromised to basically the highest level you can be. So we had to be really, really careful.

We're just not the type of people who are going to sit around and let life dictate what we're going to do. We don't want to sit around and be victims or whatever. So, we were just like, "Well, how do we make the most of this?" And we focused on things that we could control.

We're just not the type of people who are going to sit around and let life dictate what we're going to do.

We looked at the handful of things that you can do each and every single day that you have control and impact over. And that's what we did. That's what we focused on. And ultimately, that's what led to me writing the book Fit for Success because I was like, "I'm not going anywhere for the next three or four months. Literally, I'm not going anywhere. I'm going to take this time, I think I have some know talking points to put in the book."

I created the Success Pyramid. And everything just came together from there.

There's a mental health pandemic happening behind the scenes right now, and a lot of people are really struggling. On this show, we like to try and keep it as raw as possible from that mental health perspective to give people those insights. And totally feel free not to answer this question, if you don't feel comfortable doing so. Is there a particularly dark day or dark moment that stands out in the last year or two that you can think of?

I think just the day that my wife found out, because really it's one of these things where you just... I mean, my wife is a healthier person than I am — and I run fitness company. So, that just gives you some perspective as to just how luck, genetics, or whatever it is can play a role there. But instantly overnight, it literally just changes everything.

What I like to tell people is, it's entirely different when you're just thinking about these things. And then when you're truly thrust into having to put them into action every single day for months, if not a year on end. That was a big turning point where I was like, "It is really time to put all of these things in the practice more than I've ever done before."

That was even before COVID hit. Then you throw in COVID on top of that, and now it was like this just complete windfall of things.

Perhaps the second day was March 12th, and funny enough where we live here in North Carolina, my kids didn't go to school that day, because there was some weird water boil thing. I was driving my buddy to the airport because he was in town to visit, and that's when everything unraveled that day, and I'm just like, "Holy crap." We have all this stuff going on, of course going through chemo and all of that, that's enough.

Now, you throw in all of this!? It was a recognition that there was no time to mess around and feel sorry for yourself. It was about getting back to, "What can we control? Our kids are going to be homeschooled now, what can we do? What are the things that we can do each and every single day that are going to turn this around, so it's not just this really rough year?" And I think, knock on wood, we were able to make the most of it.

What one or two books have contributed most to the mindset that you've got today?

So, the first one that jumps out at me is called The Slight Edge. And ironically, it did not make it in the book, because I had my draft and everything completed. But this is one of the books that, when I read it, it was life-changing. Nothing in there is new or crazy, but you see that these little incremental things each and every single day — if you are consistent and disciplined with them — add up over time and you just get this snowball effect eventually.

That was when I started writing down a handful of things that I would do every single day, no matter what's going on.

And I love reading. I don't know about you, but I actually get really physically excited. Sometimes I'm like, "Oh my gosh, I got a new book here! I can't wait to read it." I know that's a total nerd thing to say, but do you get that at all?

I do. And literally every single book that I've read has changed my life in some capacity — every single one. If you just get one ideas, insight, or solution, as a result of reading that book, it can change everything for you.

Do you do audio books or hardcover?

I'm a little bit of both. So, actually I have to make a road trip tomorrow, which is a five hour drive. I was actually really excited because I have 10 hours of audio books. I know that that's probably going to cover me all the way there and probably back too, so I'm really excited for that. So, I do audiobooks if I have road trips.

When I'm done with a book, any book, I write down what I believe is the primary concept from the book. It doesn't have to be pages and pages of notes. I ask myself, "What would the author think is probably one of the most important points here in this book?" And I try to just make a list of those. Every now and again, I'll just flip back through it. And so, this is a really long-winded answer, if we circle back to you had mentioned two books.

The other book that has made a big difference for me in terms of my mindset is Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink. When you think about it, anything that happens is on you. And when you think about it that way, it doesn't matter if someone is five levels below you in an organization, if they mess up, it's on you because you should have taught them better. At the end of the day, all roads lead back to you, the choices you make, and how accountable you are.

At the end of the day, all roads lead back to you, the choices you make, and how accountable you are.

So, if mistakes are made, don't blame other people. This is something that my kids tried doing and I'm like, "No, no, no, no, no. We're not going to blame other people." They're nine and seven years old, so, maybe it'll sink in eventually! Or maybe I repeat it enough that they do get it. Hopefully one day they'll catch themselves and think, "Oh, I'm not going to complain. I'm not going to blame other people. What can I do to fix the issue?"

You touched on the victim mindset, which greatly undermines any ability people have to be able to create whatever circumstances that they want. What do you do from a practical perspective to help get people out of that victim mindset and into more of a success or growth mindset?

This goes back to the second principle in my book, which is the 'internal locus of control.' So, if you have an external locus of control, you tend to be more of that victim mentality where things are happening to you and there's nothing that you can do. I just, I don't agree with that. I mean, I don't care what your circumstances are — and I definitely understand and have lots of empathy for people who are in bad situations — but if you take that external locus of control, it does not lead to good outcomes in terms of your mental health, physical health, and all this stuff. It just doesn't. And this has been proven time and time again in all sorts of studies.

So, you have to look inside and be like, "Okay, whatever's happening, it might be objectively bad, but what can I do about it? There has to be something that I can do." And maybe it's really small, but even those really small things starts to put you back on the right track. If you can do those little things, probably gain a little bit of momentum, probably start to feel a little bit better about yourself, probably become a bit more hopeful, because now you know that what you do really matters, and now you're on the better track. So, that's really, I think just the biggest key, if I had to give one that would be it, hands down.

You've worked with UFC fighters, Navy SEALs, Olympic athletes, a whole bunch of different people. What is the common trait that the top 1% of people have and how coachable is that trait?

They are tenacious hard workers. And I like to think that I'm a hard worker, but being around some of these folks is another level.

Tomorrow my road trip is to visit Rich Froning, who's like the Michael Jordan of CrossFit. The amount of work he puts in puts me to shame. So, we mentioned earlier, Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, and it's like that with Rich Froning because he trains literally 4-5 hours a day, pretty much every single day.

They know what it takes to be the best, so they just always put in that work.

And if you really stop and think about it, if you work out an hour a day, you're doing well, multiply that by three or four, and it just, I mean, it's crazy, not to mention just how disciplined they are.

They know what it takes to be the best, so they just always put in that work. And it really doesn't matter how they're feeling, they just do it anyways.

You talk a lot about the importance of self-belief in your book. What role does environment, like where you live, where you work, and the people you hang around, play in that self-belief?

Yeah, it definitely plays a role. And if you're in a bad environment, it's going to be tougher. The odds are stacked against you. Now, we can acknowledge that. But at the same time, there are things that you can do. Again, this goes back to the internal locus of control. I guarantee there's little things that you can do to start to fix that. It may be that the odds feel overwhelming against you, but then it goes back to The Slight Edge principle — just start doing the little things.

It's going to seem like you're probably not getting anywhere, but if you have a long-term time horizon — and you're prepared to just do these little things each and every single day — you're going to be better off. And I'm not guaranteeing success of course, because we can't do that. But if you approach it the right way, your odds of beating those circumstances are going to go up exponentially.

What about your own process for setting goals personally or for your business? Is there a certain system or structure that you use to set those goals?

With your business, we have a roadmap of what we need to get done and the North Star we're aiming towards. We then break that up into chunks of what needs to be done in a given month and quarter to get there. We also implement feedback we can see in real time on the app store for our mobile app based on what our users are telling us.

On the personal side, it's a mix of short and long goals. Usually on the physical side, I'll need something to train for. On Memorial Day, there's a workout called "Murph". That's my couple month thing that I've been training for, just so I have something. After that, it's like, "Hey, how fast can I run a mile?" Just something to guide me on that right track. Because if you don't have any specific goals, it's easy to get lost — a day goes by, a week goes by, a month goes by. So I really think goals are helpful on the business and personal side.

For entrepreneurs, the ability to duplicate themselves seems to be the difference between average entrepreneurs (who are always on the brink of burnout) versus those super high achieving entrepreneurs. What was the biggest step that you took to be able to duplicate your own expertise so the company could grow without hitting a ceiling?

Well, I was definitely guilty of what you said, of not knowing what to do early on, and that's where we got to the point about burning out, because we thought that we had to do everything ourselves. One of the biggest things was realizing that we know a little bit about a couple of things, but there's so much we don't know, so let's bring in some other people — other experts — because that's what they specialize in, that's what they're good at, and that was really the biggest change.

The other thing would be some automation stuff that opened up our world to being able to focus on other things. And it just became this snowball effect that once we had more time, we're able to better focus our efforts elsewhere. And that's a great thing to do all around.

Yeah, to help make you redundant, so you can take some time off if need be.

Absolutely. I would agree with that a hundred percent.

Fitness often talks about a 'recovery phase' but many people people — especially entrepreneurs — very rarely do a good job of incorporating a phase of recharge and recovery in their regular routine. What does recovery look like in a business sense? Have you ever implemented something like a de-load or recharge phase for you as an entrepreneur?

If we go back to 2015 and 2016, our kids were pretty young. And if you have kids, you understand that's a full-time job, having small kids. They take up a lot of time and energy. So, if you factor in that with trying to train and trying to grow your business, and we were teetering definitely on the point of burnout. We needed constant help because it just seemed like we were always so busy. And by 'busy' I don't necessarily mean in a great way, but just busy. Whether it was customer service, or little things here and there, and we had to really fix that.

Once we were able to fix that, I looked back and I thought about where I'd been the last couple of years. And it's like, "I have this." And I think this is the end goal for a lot of entrepreneurs. Not that this is an end goal for me, of course, there's always more to achieve and strive for, but at the same time, I just have a lot more flexibility and freedom over my own time.

Before this podcast, I was picking up my kids from school at 2:00PM. I was sitting in the carpool line for literally 30 minutes. Before that, I was reading. It's like you have that freedom. That's my downtime, I make sure I have that time every day where I can read and do these things. I make sure I workout every single day.

For entrepreneurs, and I understand, it's a really delicate balance — because in the beginning you have to go, go, go, go, go, if you want to be successful. You have to put in that work to create that initial momentum and success. I get it. Been there, done that.

But at the same time, you eventually realize that if you don't take some of that time off and step back a little bit, your output goes down. You're not putting out very high quality work. And if you, instead of just cramming the night before and skipping on sleep and all that stuff, if you maybe just got the sleep and relaxed a little bit, you wake up in the morning and the amount and quality of work that you can now do is better. And it's a hard thing to learn. I did it wrong a million times and probably still do, of course. But once I started to realize that a little bit, I was like, "Wow, this is where I'd probably need to try to trend towards."

Let's now switch gears and focus on the health and the nutrition side. What are the biggest myths about health and nutrition that need to be busted in 2021?

Do you have six hours!? No, it's alright. So, we want to talk about, I guess a couple of main ones. One would be the idea that carbs are bad. They're not really inherently bad. In fact, there are very few foods out there that you could classify as "bad". Trans fats are an example of something that is probably very, very bad for you. Other than that, it's this balance and moderation thing. And if you understand that, everything else is so much simpler.

Because the nutrition industry is crazy. I'm telling you, it's crazy. People love this dogma, and they just get in these camps and they're not willing to change their mind or anything. And it's like, "No, I'm keto. And if you're not keto, you are a bad person." It's like, "Oh, okay."

So, if people ask me, "Hey, what do you think of keto?" we start by talking about the good. We might mention how, because it's low carb, it's probably helpful in that it will make you feel more full, because you're eating more proteins and more fats, and you'd probably be still eating a good amount of veggies. So, these are great things.

It's not that carbs are inherently bad, but guess what? Most things that taste really good have a lot of carbs, have a lot of sugar and salt, and usually have a lot of fat. Think about donuts and pizza, and ice cream. It's not that carbs are necessarily the fault behind them, it's just that they are very calorically dense, which means they're very easy to overeat because they taste delicious. Our brains are wired that way and we want to keep doing it.

The best way to be healthy — and have a normal, healthy body weight — is to eat high quality foods.

And so, that's probably the biggest one, because people like to say that, "Oh, calories don't matter." I mean, calories do matter. At the end of the day, it's probably the biggest chunk of the puzzle. But the best way to be healthy — and have a normal, healthy body weight — is to eat high quality foods. And if you do that, you don't have to get crazy restrictive. You can follow the 80 / 20 rule. And again, if you do that, you eat mostly higher quality foods. I always do air quotes around "good foods" — lean proteins, fruits and veggies, healthy fats, things like nuts, avocados and healthy carbs, rice and sweet potatoes. If you eat mostly those things, it is almost impossible to over eat.

Some of those fad diets that seem to pop up every year, would they be an example of something that would not be as evidenced-based as what you just mentioned there?

Typically, here's how something like that works. You can find some studies on some of these things, or maybe there's some evidence that points towards that they might do something, but people love to extrapolate these things to the nth degree. And they're like, "Oh, well, if it showed this tiny promise of evidence approved then, well, obviously that is the main thing that you must be doing, and you must fast for 24 hours. That is the magic key to everything in the world." And I go, "Okay, maybe."

Here's the good thing about fasting. When do most people tend to overeat? Usually it's later on at night. You're out with friends, family, or you're sitting down and watching Netflix or whatever. And all of a sudden, a bag of chips has gone before you even realize it because you just watched two hours of TV.


Check out the YouTube or podcast version where Nick Shaw does the Win the Day Rocket Round, answering questions about his favorite quote, what advice he’d give his 18-year-old self, the one thing on his bucket list, and a whole lot more🚀


Again, there's nothing really magical about fasting. It's just, does it help you stay on track? Does it help you stay more compliant? And if the answer is yes, then great, it's an awesome strategy for you.

But again, it goes back to these diet camps that people love to get in and someone's like, "Oh, well, I did fasting and had these awesome results. You must do this now." You're like, "Well, what if I really like eating breakfast?" They're like, "No, no, that's stupid. It doesn't matter." And you're like, "Well, don't we have some wiggle room in there to meet people where they're at?"

The health and fitness space is just crazy at times, man. It's crazy.

In your book you mentioned how beneficial it can be to find a healthy activity that you love. For me, I love nothing more than going surfing or having a hit of tennis. We can burn through a whole ton of cals, and it's actually really fun. You're not forcing me to go and do something that I hate. So, as a result, you can stay fairly fit by doing some of those endeavors.

So, what type of exercise should people be doing when it comes to health goals?

Yeah, you nailed it. This book is more intended for people who are not your hardcore fitness folks. So, if I were to have written in this book, you must lift weights and you must do these things, people are going to say, "Look at that advice from Nick, that's stupid." I don't even like doing that. I don't like being in the gym.

If someone liked doing tennis and surfing, I would say, "Hey, that's awesome." Because you can do those things, and you can be in really good physical shape because they're very active, and that's a fantastic thing. So again, really, it's finding what you like to do. Because if you said, "Hey, Nick, do you want to go play tennis? And then go surfing." I'm going to be like, "I've played tennis one time in my entire life and I've never surfed." So for me, that's going to be a terrible day! "But hey, I'll meet you in the gym and we can go pump some iron." That's my idea of fun. So, we are two different things, right? You like different things. So, it'd be silly for me to say, you must do this.

Now, on the flip side of that, I would say, if you wanted to give some bare bones advice, try to lift weights at least twice a week. It doesn't have to be crazy heavy or anything like that. And then, just try to find some activities that you like, whether it's sports, hiking; all that stuff is great. There's no kind of one thing for every person.

I would suggest the lifting because I just think there's so many benefits around it, but again, you also have to realize not everyone likes it. For example, my sister doesn't really like lifting weights. She prefers to go run. I'm like, "Okay, cool." I have no issues with that. I'm not going to tell someone that it's mandatory to lift weights, but I think there's a lot of benefits that come from lifting weights.

Is there any technology or research that's come out in the last year or two that really excites you in terms of human performance?

There's just, there's a lot of that stuff coming out now. It seems like everyone's focusing on that. There's this rise of home gym stuff, and you have things like the Mirror or the Tonal.

I've been getting hammered by Facebook ads for the Tonal!

You and me both. I don't think I'm their target market, but I'm getting those every single day. Listen, I think something like that would be great for people. And here's the thing, a lot of people are scared to go back to the gym. I have a home gym, so it's totally different. I might be maybe a little skeptical of going back into the gym. I understand that. So, I think that's a really cool trend that Peloton and companies like that have done. You connect and you join these online classes, and it gives you that sense of community.

We work with a lot of CrossFitters. And the cool thing about CrossFit is they just have this really tight knit community behind them. My mom had never worked out for her first 60 years of her life. And I said to her, "Mom, why don't you go try CrossFit? I'll buy you a membership at the gym." It's 20 minutes away. And she loved it, because she could go and she could socialize a little bit. Of course, this was before COVID. It's been a little tricky to get her back in there. But it's one of these things where you're going to get some lifting, and you're going to get a lot of cardio. If you're moderately interested in those things, it might be worth checking out.

What are you focused on as a parent to ensure your kids grow up motivated, happy, healthy, and adaptable?

So, I consider myself extremely, extremely fortunate, because my kids love to read. And I don't know if they got that from me. My son could read at age four. I mean, it was phenomenal. I can't take much credit for that. I wish that I could!

My wife was out of town and I took my kids to Target. I told them, "You can pick out whatever book you want." And I knew they would be excited by that, but also they can have a book, and they'll sit and read it for like an hour or maybe even longer. And I think that's probably the coolest thing that I could possibly hope for. My son almost has never really played video games and he's like nine. So, I'm just super fortunate about some of that stuff that they love to read.

Other than that, I try to just make sure that they're active a little bit.

So, the one thing that actually, so this goes back to the whole control thing, when COVID hit, I had them trained in jujutsu, just because I think it's such a good skill to learn, self-defense for life and it just builds confidence. It helps develop that discipline of just being a good person. If you're going to train jujutsu, chances are, you're probably a pretty good person, because if you're not, you're going to get choked out a lot at your gym or whatever. So, we made it a thing. We tried to train... No, I'm not going to say every single day, but we kept training. And I just want him to be active. And if they read beyond that, I think that's pretty good start.

Final question: what's one thing you do to Win the Day?

Read, every single day.


Resources / links mentioned:

🌱 Want more Nick Shaw? Check out the YouTube or podcast version for the full interview, including the Win the Day Rocket Round.

📙 Fit for Success by Nick Shaw.

📝 Renaissance Periodization on Facebook.

📷 Renaissance Periodization on Instagram.

🧭 Nick Shaw on Instagram.

⚡ Renaissance Periodization website.

📚 The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson.

🎖️ Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin.

🎙️ Have a podcast of your own and want to learn how to monetize it? Learn more about We Are Members, the world's #1 community for podcasters who want to generate attention, engagement, and sales for their podcast.

“Stay away from negative people. They have a problem for every solution.”

Albert Einstein

As we approach the halfway point of the year, many people shy away from any purposeful action, instead choosing to worry about ‘next year’. But, with the right plan, you would be astounded with how much progress you can make, even in 6 months.

Here are 11 productivity tips you can use right now to start getting the most out of your hours each day.

1. Start the day with your intent.

Most people wake up and complain about their alarm, the traffic on the way to work, their boss, the news, their commute home from work, then when their partner asks how their day was, they complain about it.

Total day's output = 0.

Instead, wake up and be grateful for the opportunity to share your unique gifts with the world. Think about your intent, your purpose. Ignore the sensationalized daily news schedules, stop stalking people on Instagram, and switch complaints for gratitude.

When you live with intent, it will be much easier for you to say ‘no’ to the distractions that derail your day.

2. Have a daily plan. Achieve it.

Dale Carnegie once wrote: “An hour of planning can save you 10 hours of doing.” A plan allows us to create a structure around it so we can allocate the necessary resources to get it done as efficiently and effectively as possible, while keeping us more resilient from distraction and procrastination.

Each day, write down three things you’re going to achieve no matter what. Perhaps it’s to complete a gym session, finish the first draft of a blog post, call a family member, or do a meal prep for the week. The important thing is creating the list so your brain can nag at you until it’s done.

(Note: I’m a huge fan of meal prep because it ensures you have nourishing food that can be quickly accessed, rather than interrupting your day to continually shop, cook and clean.)

3. Do your life's work first.

Most people want to start the day with the feeling of achievement, and for most that is responding to emails. The problem with emails is they’re like boomerangs—always coming back. Instead, do your life’s work first (i.e. the actions that are going to inch you closer to your 90-day goals), before turning to someone else’s agenda for your day. You’ll find you can do the rest on autopilot.

If you have to set your alarm an hour earlier in the morning to get it done, do it. If you want some morning inspo, follow Jocko Willink on Instagram.

4. Begin with the end in mind.

It’s not starting things that makes us successful, it’s finishing things. Only begin tasks that you are going to finish and give your best effort. Whether it’s a recorded but unreleased podcast, a stagnant YouTube channel, or training for a marathon that never occurs, begin with the end in mind always.

There’s nothing worse than having a whole heap of half-assed and incomplete tasks that have occupied your attention for months, or even years, where the only reason you haven’t gained traction is because you haven’t been consistent. Most people think starting things is the hard part, but it’s not. The hard part is continuing at the first sign of adversity. Be conscious of that and have an accountability plan to blast through it.

5. Use the Pomodoro Technique.

I first heard about the Pomodoro Technique when I interviewed John Lee Dumas for Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy. It requires you to have a large timer sitting on your desk and then segmenting your work time into focused intervals (typically 25 minutes), separated by short breaks (typically five minutes). Every time you complete a ‘pomodoro’, or work interval, mark your progress on a piece of paper with a tick.

After four pomodoros, i.e. 100 minutes of work time, take a 15-20 minute break.

Knowing that your output is capped to 25 minutes unlocks hyper productivity as you race against the clock—otherwise you’ll have nothing to show for your pomodoro—and keeps you focused knowing that a break is never too far away.

6. Do what makes you happy.

Doing what makes us happy gives us an extra tank of rocket fuel to commit to our work. It’s far easier for your brain to switch off if your boss is giving you the same boring data entry task for the 500th time or if you don’t even believe in the product you’re selling.

Apple founder Steve Jobs once said: “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle.”

If you’re not sure what areas make you happy, connect with like-minded people, attend events, and add value to others unconditionally. This will give you exposure to more areas, and eventually you’ll find the areas that excite you where you can concentrate your attention.

7. Eliminate distractions.

Whether you're working in home or an office, make a list of the 5-10 things that interrupt you during the day. This could be anything from the phone ringing and social media, to getting bothered by work colleagues and even your own thoughts.

Break that list into four categories—people, technology, self, and other—and take actions accordingly:

8. Miss a meal, but don't miss a book.

We have access to history’s most brilliant minds right now. Why not spend 20 minutes a day tapping into their expertise?

If you don’t enjoy reading, turn your attention to podcasts or audiobooks. Importantly, when you’re reading (or listening to) these books, keep a notepad so you can brainstorm ideas along the way that will help you achieve your goals. After all, action is the real measure of intelligence.

9. Go to bed with a request to your subconscious.

Acclaimed inventor Thomas Edison once said: “Never go to bed without a request to your subconscious.”

Our bodies and minds are capable of extraordinary things while we sleep, and that rest time is essential for recovery, growth, and general well-being. Thinking about what we want before we go to bed also plants a seed of imagination that can allow our mind to focus on it for the next 7-8 hours.

Never underestimate the power of the subconscious. After all, every great endeavor, innovation, or achievement was once a simple thought impulse.

10. Review your success each week. Calibrate accordingly.

Checking in on your actions—the people you spent too much or not enough time with, the books you read or didn’t read, the fitness session that did or didn’t get done, or the progress you made or didn’t make towards your goals—enables you to adjust your schedule and routine to ensure the next week is better. With this plan of constant reflection and calibration, long-term success is assured.

And just remember, often, removing a negative influence in your life can be just as powerful as gaining a positive one, so pay extra special attention to who you spend your time with and what stimulus you allow your mind to feed on.

11. Be inspired as the hero of your own journey.

The number one productivity technique, which I never hear anybody talk about, is being inspired. When you’re inspired, it doesn’t matter how many hours of sleep you’ve had the night before, how much money is in your pocket, or where you’re working from. You wake up and get after it.

The best way to make that happen is to download my Success Plan Template, write out your 'Perfect Destination' in all areas of your life, and then backtrack it to the work you need to do today that will eventually make it a reality.

Once you’ve done that, you can release yourself from worry about the future because you already know how the story ends—after all, you wrote the story! That will inspire you to take the simple and consistent action that will get you where you need to be.

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Try those 11 tips to become a master of productivity.

Everyone tries to act like their super busy, but remember—it’s not how busy you are, but how productive you are, that makes all the difference. Output is everything.

Onwards and upwards always,
James Whittaker

In case you missed it:
The Arnold Schwarzenegger Story

“You can’t have courage without fear.”

Jocko Willink

There are two sets of circumstance in life: what we can control and what we cannot control. Regardless of how we feel, we are where we are right now because of our decisions to this point.

When we reach a crossroads in our life—or find ourselves in a moment of discomfort, unhappiness or even tragedy—we ask ourselves, “How did I get here?” But a more constructive course of action is to:

An interesting paradigm shift occurs when we draw a line in the sand and take personal responsibility for our circumstances. First, we let go of the pain that’s been holding us back, allowing us to move forward unencumbered. Second, we realize that we have far more power over our own circumstances than we had ever imagined. Finally, it empowers us to make better decisions—on the condition that we have prepared a clear definition of success.

In 1836, during the Battle of the Alamo, Colonel William Travis received a letter from his foe, Mexican General (and also the country’s sitting President) Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, demanding instant surrender. The general and his 1,500-strong battalion had the Alamo and its 150 Texan soldiers completely surrounded.

Twenty-six-year old Travis gathered the Alamo defenders together and explained that their demise was not only probable but imminent, leading to two simple choices: either die courageously defending the Alamo or willingly surrender to the enemy. Travis pulled out his sword, drew a literal line in the sand, and asked for volunteers to cross the line and join him—against unsurmountable odds—to continue to defend their position

With their course of action agreed, Travis responded to the surrender letter with cannon fire. As the siege continued, he wrote a letter addressed to the people of Texas and across America:

Fellow citizens and compatriots;

I am besieged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna. I have sustained a continual bombardment and cannonade for 24 hours and have not lost a man. The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken.

I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, and our flag still waves proudly from the walls. I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of liberty, of patriotism and everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch.

The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily and will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible and die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor and that of his country.

VICTORY or DEATH.

William Barret Travis

Lt. Col. Comdt.

Travis died in the ensuing battle, but his message inspired the region. When Travis’ letter was received, reinforcements arrived and defeated Santa Anna, paving the way for the Republic of Texas to be admitted as the 28th member of the United States.

Today, Travis’ letter of defiance is regarded as a “masterpiece of American patriotism”. The simple act of drawing a line in the sand gives us a conscious acknowledgement that the past is irreversible and reminds us that all we have control over are our thoughts and the decisions we make from this point onwards. Today’s decisions are tomorrow’s realities.

Your future isn’t written; it’s never too late. If you’re sick of accepting whatever fate hands you, take purposeful action—even if you’re afraid to take the first step. After all, you can’t have courage without fear, as the earlier Jocko Willink quote reminds us.

Victory or death. The choice is yours.

Onwards and upwards always,
James W.

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