“I’m in a battle every single day. A war. People who succeed have the burning desire to win, and the persistence to get up and fight every day.”

Brandon T. Adams

Welcome back to Win the Day! If you’re watching this on YouTube, you might notice some changes. We’re not in my regular home studio setup. In fact, we’re in a professional recording studio for the first time ever.

Our guest today has fit a LOT into his 30 years and has a truly eclectic background. Brandon T. Adams grew up in rural Iowa helping out with his father’s packaged ice business. That job taught him the value of hard work and an honest buck, but he didn’t share similar enthusiasm for his academic work. On the brink of flunking out of college, Brandon was given a book that completely changed his trajectory and became the foundation to everything he’s achieved today.

Since that defining moment, Brandon has become a podcaster, speaker, inventor, and business adviser. His work as a crowdfunding expert has raised more than $35 million and led to him working with high profile clients such as Kevin Harrington (from hit TV show Shark Tank), Jeff Hoffman (billionaire founder of Priceline), John Lee Dumas (from award-winning Entrepreneurs on Fire), and the renowned non-profit XPRIZE.

As a serial entrepreneur, Brandon owns a stake in more than a dozen businesses. He’s been featured on the cover of Investors Digest magazine, led one of the largest campaigns for a book in crowdfunding history, and was featured as the youngest cast member in Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy, which was the project where we first met.

Most recently, Brandon became the Emmy® Award-winning producer and host of TV show Success in Your City, which you can check out now on Amazon. I am extremely grateful to be featured in a few of those episodes.

Brandon and I immediately got along like a house on fire and he’s now one of my closest friends. And, fun fact, I was actually the officiant at Brandon’s wedding in Nashville where he married his wonderful wife Sam two years ago today!

In this interview, we talk about Brandon's darkest days where he faced depression, loneliness, and bankruptcy. We'll also go through:

Brandon holds nothing back in this interview. If you want both the motivation to succeed and the blueprint on how to do it, this is the episode for you.

For the video interview, click here.


Resources / links mentioned:

📝 Brandon T. Adams on Facebook

📷 Brandon T. Adams on Instagram

⚡ Brandon T. Adams website

🎙️ We Are Podcast: learn how to make money from your podcast

📙 Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

🌎 Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy by James Whittaker

💚 The Road to Success by Brandon T. Adams and Samantha Rossin

🗝️ Success In Your City (TV show)

🔥 BRAND NEW! Andrew Carnegie’s Mental Dynamite by Napoleon Hill and James Whittaker

“I’m in a battle every single day. A war. People who succeed have the burning desire to win, and the persistence to get up and fight every day.”

Brandon T. Adams

Welcome back to Win the Day! If you’re watching this on YouTube, you might notice some changes. We’re not in my regular home studio setup. In fact, we’re in a professional recording studio for the first time ever.

Our guest today has fit a LOT into his 30 years and has a truly eclectic background. Brandon T. Adams grew up in rural Iowa helping out with his father’s packaged ice business. That job taught him the value of hard work and an honest buck, but he didn’t share similar enthusiasm for his academic work. On the brink of flunking out of college, Brandon was given a book that completely changed his trajectory and became the foundation to everything he’s achieved today.

Since that defining moment, Brandon has become a podcaster, speaker, inventor, and business adviser. His work as a crowdfunding expert has raised more than $35 million and led to him working with high profile clients such as Kevin Harrington (from hit TV show Shark Tank), Jeff Hoffman (billionaire founder of Priceline), John Lee Dumas (from award-winning Entrepreneurs on Fire), and the renowned non-profit XPRIZE.

As a serial entrepreneur, Brandon owns a stake in more than a dozen businesses. He’s been featured on the cover of Investors Digest magazine, led one of the largest campaigns for a book in crowdfunding history, and was featured as the youngest cast member in Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy, which was the project where we first met.

Most recently, Brandon became the Emmy® Award-winning producer and host of TV show Success in Your City, which you can check out now on Amazon. I am extremely grateful to be featured in a few of those episodes.

Brandon and I immediately got along like a house on fire and he’s now one of my closest friends. And, fun fact, I was actually the officiant at Brandon’s wedding in Nashville where he married his wonderful wife Sam two years ago today!

In this interview, we talk about Brandon's darkest days where he faced depression, loneliness, and bankruptcy. We'll also go through:

Brandon holds nothing back in this interview. If you want both the motivation to succeed and the blueprint on how to do it, this is the episode for you.

James Whittaker:
How are you my friend?

Brandon T. Adams:
Good! It's great to be here in the studio with you, man. It's always a pleasure being in your presence.

To kick things off, tell us about what it was like growing up in rural Iowa.

Well, it's funny, you've been to Iowa, so you know what it's like. I grew up in a town of 700 people: Garnavillo, Iowa. My whole life, I was an entrepreneur. I worked with my dad in the ice business. I remember I was selling all the time, knocking on doors. Just selling anything I could. I was big into fundraising too. I remember doing the St. Jude's Bikeathon and the Boy Scouts Popcorn.

But I called myself the 'Spartan entrepreneur' and I got to see what it was like at a young age to work with my father in the ice business. I didn't play baseball, I didn't do the summer sports. I worked in the ice business. And so I always had the entrepreneurial bug in terms of lifestyle. I mean, small town, my parents have timber land and a cabin that you've been to. And it's 10 miles outside of town, middle of nowhere.

So growing up, I got to shoot guns. I got to just experience life and see what it's like in a small town area. But the one thing I think about looking back on it is when you're in a small town, you only know what you know. I never thought I was going to leave Iowa or even Clayton County, which has no stoplights in it.

Once you get opened up to the world and what's possible, and you see what other people are doing, you have a different perspective. Being in the ice business, that's all I knew and I thought that I would do that for the rest of my life. Once I got different perspectives on life, it changed how I thought and who I surrounded myself with, but it all started in a small town in Iowa.

Often you don't realize how much of a bubble you're in until you leave that bubble. I had a similar experience when I moved to Boston at the age of 28, about as far away from my home town of Brisbane as you could get, where I was surrounded by entrepreneurs for the first time. And when you're in a new city, it forces you to get out of your comfort zone and step up.

What career opportunities did you feel were available to you growing up in rural Iowa?

I always knew I wanted to sell. I was obsessed with getting sales and making money. And so the ice business was how I did that, but I always wanted to try different things. When I was a kid, I always knew I wanted to do something big. I didn't think I was going to do TV shows or public speaking, but I knew I wanted to do something.

The big setback I had as a kid was a speech impediment, a lisp. I couldn't communicate and that bothered me. I remember people bullying me. I remember avoiding the S words and I realized, "Okay, if I want to be the best at sales, I have to be a great communicator." At age 10, I was in front of the mirror at night, practicing my S's, practicing my speaking: "I am a great speaker. I am a great salesman." Over and over again.

That persistence to overcome adversity is one of the things that you would read in Think and Grow Rich, but I didn't read the book at that time. I just knew that if I kept practicing, eventually I would get better. People would come up to me and say, "Oh, do you have a speech impediment?" I'm like, "No, what are you talking about!?" And eventually it was built in my subconscious.

By the time I got to high school, I no longer had a speech impediment. I started putting myself in front of audiences. I remember I was scared shitless to speak in front of people, but I would volunteer to speak in front of a group of 20 people.

And then I remember the first time in high school, I spoke in front of 100 people. That was a big deal. So I kept pushing myself outside my comfort zone because I wanted to be a great public speaker; I wanted to be great at communication for selling. And the reason for that was so I could use it in the ice business. It always was that. It was only when I got to college that I realized I was going to do something other than sell frozen water for the rest of my life.

That forced repetition of getting out of your comfort zone and exposing yourself to those situations has been such a big key to your success. Before we get into all of that, tell us about Brandon T. Adams, the college student.

My brother is 39, my sister is 37, so growing up as a kid, I would get to hang out with them. I remember when I got to go visit my brother in college, he was in Cedar Rapids at Kirkwood College but we call it 'Keg-wood' because all they did there was drink. I remember going out to hang out with my brother and thought it was cool. I was at the party as a 10-year-old and hanging out with them. Shortly after, I realized, "Okay, I like beer." I was drinking in high school at that.

It was only when I got to college that I realized I was going to do something other than sell frozen water for the rest of my life.

I was drinking beer in cornfields and when I got to college, I just let loose. I was an alcoholic. I was drinking every single night. I stopped going to class because in high school I got a 3.8 GPA, and so school was easy for me. I got to college and I realized, "Oh, I have to study now. I need to go to class."

I had a roommate, his name was Brandon too. We were called “B-squared.” And we would go out all the time. We partied, we had fun. I did some drugs. None of the people in the dorm rooms were 21, so I start making homemade Apple Pie Moonshine. It's Everclear [up to 95% alcohol volume], there's a whole formula. I made it really well and I would make it in bulk and sell it in Gatorade bottles to other people in the dorm rooms.

So, as you can see, the start of my college career wasn't the best. Needless to say, my first semester, I got a 1.68 GPA. I took the finals of my econ class and I remember failing it and I tried to convince them to let me pass, which I tried to do a lot.

I said to the professor, "What do I have to do? Can I do extra credit? Can you let me pass?" And this is what he said, I'll never forget this. He said, "Brandon, you know there's been studies done where monkeys at random pick different choices for the answers. The score that you got in your test is worse than what a monkey would get on average."

I thought to myself, "You could have just told me I failed, instead of saying I'm like a monkey." And I'll never forget that, so that was horrible. Then, towards the end of the second semester in freshman year, I was fighting. I remember getting in a brawl and I got kicked out of the dorm rooms and I had to go sleep on the couch at my buddy's house.

The professor told me, "The score that you got in your test is worse than what a monkey would get on average."

My first semester of college was a complete shit-show. I was lost. I thought to myself, "Brandon, am I going to drop out and then go home and work in the family ice business, only for everyone to say, 'Oh, you couldn't make it through college. And then your daddy just gave you the business'?" And I told myself I wasn't going to do that. So I had to make a pivot because I definitely was going down the wrong path.

In high school, students are told that the metric of success is just to get good grades so they can into a good college program. And then once they're in the college program, you're told to just secure that degree, which will then get you a good job. But anyone who's remotely entrepreneurial, or just not ready, can be crippled by that process.

I had a very similar experience when I first started university where I just felt like I was not ready to learn. And as a result of that, you're not willing to understand the systems and do what it takes to succeed in those areas. Just like that quote: "When the student is ready, the master will appear."

Also, in college, they have electives you need to take. I fucking hated econ. I didn't care about econ. And chemistry... I hated the three-hour lab! So how I pass is I would flirt with girls who were smart and have them help me do my homework, but it just was boring. I think people go to college for the wrong reasons. They go to get the degree. I get that. But if you don't know what you want to do, and you're spending $20,000 - $50,000 a year, and building up debt, and you don't know what the fuck you're going to do, don't waste your money.

My first two years of college study were purely doing things that I didn't want to do, but I did them because that's what I had to do to get my degree. Once I got to my junior year, I actually got to take things I enjoyed, I got to make contacts, I got to do small business classes, I got to do communication. All these different things. And that's where I started taking college seriously. The first couple of years I was doing something I really didn't care about. All I enjoyed was partying. The school part, I only did to get that piece of paper.

I guess one good thing about bad grades was that it gave both you and I a kick up the ass that we needed to get things into gear!

A wake-up call, yeah.

And life has certainly changed for you since then. You've got this awesome new book, The Road to Success out now in book stores all around the country. You've got the TV show Success In Your City, available now online.

Let's start with the TV show. Tell us about the premise for that and what motivated you to get the show done?

First, let's step back. When I was in my third year of college, I read this book Think and Grow Rich. While I read that book, I realized that if I wanted something in life, I could achieve it if I went after it, surrounded myself with the right people, and followed the 13 principles. And so that's what I ultimately went after.

I remember having Cactus Jack Barringer, who became my mentor and was the guy who led me to the book. He opened my mind outside of what it was like in a small town, Garnaville. I realized I could do more with the world. I could become very wealthy. I could go do different things.

And so how I first got into the TV space was through an invention I made, the Arctic Stick. I invented the product, it never really made a lot of money, but I had to raise money for it. I did a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. While doing that, I found out that there was a need in the market to become a crowdfunding expert, so I started building my brand around crowdfunding.

I found out that there was a need in the market to become a crowdfunding expert, so I started building my brand around crowdfunding.

While doing that, one of the key components of crowdfunding was video. So creating a video that told a story, introduced your product / service, captured their attention, and included a call to action, which in this case was to donate or pledge money or invest. Once I start doing more of that, I realized, "Okay, crowdfunding, I'm good at this, but I really enjoy the video stuff."

So I started really focusing more on video. I remember taking acting classes. I ended doing commercials. I had agents, I was creating my own videos. My first opportunity in TV was from a guy who sponsored my event, Greg Rollett. While we were at the event, he said, "Hey, I got this pilot for a TV show called Ambitious Adventures. If you help me crowdfund it, I'll make you my co-host."

Instantly, I said yes because I always wanted to be in front of the camera. We ultimately made the show and it's on Amazon Prime. But that led to me doing another show, and then it led me to doing Success in Your City. And that's how I got in the TV space.

In 2017, I was in Puerto Rico with my girlfriend at the time, now wife, Samantha. We were sitting on the beach having a pina colada. The best ideas sometimes come from a drink, right!? And I said, "What are we going to do next? Let's do something crazy. Let's do something fun." We were living at Florida at the time. And I had always had this idea. I remember telling John Lee Dumas this idea. He was the first person I ever told about it. I said, "Hey John, what do you think of this idea of me living in 12 cities in 12 months?" He's like, "Man, you're going to have to do a lot of preparation for that."

So I went back said to Sam, "Why don't we live in 12 cities in 2018? Live in different cities, learn from people and just enjoy life. Why don't we film a TV series on it?" Because I was finished with the show Ambitious Adventures and the one feedback was that our show would have been better if it was a male and female co-host, and what could be better than having a couple? So I somehow convinced Samantha to be my co-host. And that's where the concept for Success in Your City came from.

When we flew back from Puerto Rico, we started picking out all the cities we wanted and writing down our contacts. We were brainstorming, masterminding, looking at budget costs. We actually thought about having a cameraman live with us for the whole year. But we realized that was going to be very inefficient, costly, and we wouldn't know how that would work out because they would have to always be with us.

So we decided that we were going to travel the country and look for the true meaning of 'success.' We wanted to learn what success meant from other people through their eyes, in different cities around the country. And do it before we got married that year. Because I proposed to her on October 13th, 2017, literally the night before the Think and Grow Rich premiere. We wanted to figure out what success meant — that was the whole concept of the show.

We left Iowa on December 27th, 2017, we got to Scottsdale and within three weeks, we filmed our first episode with Shea Hillenbrand, the baseball player. We'd go to the city, live there for four to six weeks, find scenes, find the talent... we'd have to find everything. We would be on calls with our scriptwriter, because they would create scenes and different parts for the show, and then we would fly out our film crew. We'd have a four or five person film crew with us for four to five days straight.

We would set this all up, film nonstop, and then they'd fly out, and then we'd go to the next city. So that was the concept of the show, and that's ultimately where it led to us, doing a book on it, but it was a crazy journey.

Amazing. So you were in Massachusetts, Texas, Arizona — everywhere. What story in particular, or what location, stands out as the most inspiring or where you enjoyed yourself the most?

Every city was unique, and it was like different chapters of our lives in that year. So we ultimately set off for 12 cities, but we ended up getting six cities and filming five episodes. After the first city, we realized, wow, we're basically self-funding this, we're doing all this, it wasn't going to be feasible. Scottsdale was amazing and we had great support from the community. We got to do events and fundraisers; we raised about $40,000 for the Boys and Girls Club while we were there, so that was a cool experience. And we learned more about who we are as people, as we were learning from Shea.

When we went to Texas, for one, I wasn't thinking, South by Southwest was on during our time there, so we couldn't find a feasible place to stay. We lived in a hotel for a month, which didn't go over well with Sam. And we hit rock bottom because I was going through a buyout of a business partner. I had just got done with an event that I spent a lot of money on that you were a speaker at, but the fires were that week, so my attendance was one-third of what it was going to be. We were planning on doing a lot of revenue at that event and it didn't turn out to to be the case, so all these things hit me at one point, and I remember, I was negative thousands in the bank. I was broke, and you knew me back then, but I didn't show it to the world. I had to keep this strong mindset, even though I was literally at rock bottom.

Sam wasn't talking to me, and we were in the same hotel room. She was dealing with depression because we didn't have any money. She felt like nobody cared about what we were doing. I even questioned, "Is anybody going to watch this fucking show? Does anybody give a shit?" And I think we all have that moment as entrepreneurs where we wonder whether people care about what we're doing.

The people we featured from Austin was a real estate couple, Ricky and KodiKay Cain, and they said, "Hey, why don't you come to our church? It's called Riverbend." And we went to it, and I'll never forget this... we were sitting down and the priest, Dave Haney, said, "Some of you are here and you don't know why you're here, but you're here for a reason." Instantly, it spoke to us.

After that happened, we went back to our hotel room and we felt at peace for the first time in a while. I remember literally a week after that experience, I had a business deal go through that made me more money in that deal than everything from the previous year. So I went from rock bottom, with no money, to a lot of money. All of a sudden, my life changed again, so that was a positive experience.

Then, once we got to Boston, it was the quickest turnaround. We got there May 1st and we left May 31st. In that time, we had to find the talent, scenes, everything, and fly our film crew in, live there and film. We were in downtown Boston, which if you ever film in Boston, you know that you pay a shit-ton for a furnished apartment for a month.

Ultimately we learned that you don't need a lot of material things. Our feature in Boston was a guy who was homeless at one point. And after that episode, we went home, we sold our home and 99% of our things. I was in conversations with selling my event business, Young Entrepreneur Convention, which I did, and I had the first conversation with my father that I was going to sell the family ice business that I bought from him. So Boston made me realize, you have to do what means the most to you. Don't do it for the money. Material things don't really mean anything.

You have to do what means the most to you. Don't do it for the money.

Them we went to Denver. My wife told her story, we enjoyed a good time in Denver, and then our last one was Nashville, which was my favorite city. I love Nashville and I think I'll eventually move there. That one was cool because we got married there, and you're in the finale episode!

So each episode and city was its own experience, and what's really cool is we can relive it now. We can watch it, and say, "Oh, that happened." It's like you have this picture book for your memories. We have a show and we can look back, and that was our experience. So it was a crazy journey, man. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

It was difficult, but I think the part that we really emphasize in the book is what we learned along the way and how hard it was. As I said earlier, Sam was dealing with depression, we almost went bankrupt — all these different things. Most people don't talk about that. We live in a society where it's an Instagram perfect picture and everything's all right. But people always have their own shit going on, so why not share what's really happening? Why not share what it really takes to become successful?

One of the things I love most about the book is that it’s so real and raw – not just about the experiences that you went through at the time, but also the background that you and Sam had individually and then together.

Tell us about you and Sam as a couple. You obviously have such an amazing bond and I'm grateful to have spent so much time with the two of you. What do you each bring to the relationship that makes it such a strong union?

We're totally different. If there were two people like me, it would probably not be good! I'm very outgoing, sometimes very over the top, and she's more behind the scenes. She has always been very supportive of me, and that works well for us. Just doing this book tour, she did the first event, and the rest, she's like, "You go ahead, do it. You'll have more fun without me." Because she doesn't care to do the interviews.

Honestly, if someone requested her for a media or podcast interview, unless it was from you, she would probably say no because she doesn't care to do that. On camera she would turn it on, but it was more to support what I was doing. Her thing is fitness, personal training, empowering women, helping them, and she's helped a lot of women. She is a very old and smart soul, and I think it's really great to have that collaboration.

Like with you and your wife, you both have things that supplement each other. Sam is more laid back and gives a different approach. I'm like, go, go, go, go, and get up in front of the camera. And sometimes she grounds me and says, "Hey, Brandon, maybe you're getting a little ego." You know what I mean? She'll pull me back.

One trait about both of our wives is they're never afraid to tell it how it is!

Yes, they pull us back and humble us, and we need that. We need somebody to wake our ass up because we all go through that. If you're in front of the camera, or you have an audience, or you start reaching a level of success, you're obviously going to have fans and followers, and you can't let that get to your head, because if you do, it will destroy you.

Just like a really negative mindset can destroy you at the same time. What I feel like both of our wives are very good at doing is building us up when they know we're in the dark days on the entrepreneurial rollercoaster.

You and I both need our wives to support us, because we're not always at this high peak level. We have our moments too, and they pick us up, and vice versa.

One of the things I love most about you, if not my favorite thing about you, is that 'get up and go' spirit. It's amazing. You've got this energy on tap. What are the opportunities that attitude has given you?

So many, man. I'm the kind of guy who'll shoot, shoot, shoot, then aim later. I just go. But I've honed in more, now. I think a little bit longer before I take action.

Action is what gets results. The number one thing holding people back is they think about something and they strategize all day. At the end of the day, an idea is shit unless you actually take action towards it, and that's what I learned in Think and Grow Rich. You've got to take daily action, even if it's one thing you do every day, every single day, just one thing you accomplish. It'll build up, it's the compound effect. It'll slowly build up over time, and eventually, get you your bigger opportunity.

At the end of the day, an idea is shit unless you actually take action towards it.

And you don't know where it's going to happen. I've traveled the country, I've interviewed hundreds of people, I've failed many times, I've tried endeavors that didn't work. When I started in 2015, I started a podcast show, which at the time was called the University of Young Entrepreneurs, now called the Live to Grind podcast. I was traveling around the country and learning from people.

I'd drive my F-150 across the country, whether it was California, Ohio or Georgia, and I would meet with people in person. My podcast show was the way to get that connection, versus saying, "Hey, can I pick your brain?" or "Will you mentor me?" I used my show to interview people. At the time, I didn't have much money. I bought the Blue mics and I had the setup with the headphones and everything, and I would set up in people's offices.

Sometimes they didn't realize that I was traveling all around the country just to have that 45 minute interview. And that, for most people, is crazy. They think, "You're going to pay on your own dime, you're going to travel around the country, and you're going to interview these people. How are you making money?" I wasn't. I was sleeping in my truck, I remember in 2015, I think I slept in my truck 40-50 nights. Once did a trip from Des Moines, Iowa, to LA and back, I was going on TV and interviewing people, I did it for $800. Most of that was spent on fuel. I ate canned food, I had $5 footlongs sometimes.

I slept in the parking lot, the LA Fitness Center off Vine Street. I was doing an event, so I convinced LA Fitness to give me a free pass for the week. I parked my truck on the third level and I would sleep in my truck overnight. In the morning, I'd wake up early, I'd go work out there on a free pass, I would shower there, get ready, go to my conference for the day, and eat the food they had. At night, I would come back to my truck, edit my podcast, so if you look at early episodes, you'd probably hear the outside noise. I would do it in my truck and then I would go to sleep, and then I'd wake up and do it again. That is pure persistence.

People would make fun of me. They thought I was fucking nuts. My girlfriend, now wife, she's like, "Why are you doing that?" She was worried that somebody would kill me. But that was action. Most people think of all the reasons why they can't do something. Yet, I figured how I could make it possible.

Ultimately, I made a lot of connections around the country and I started doing events. My best deals and opportunities happened when I was out in the field meeting people. Sometimes my best opportunity came from a 100 - 500 person event. Other times it came from a three-person meetup.

If you take action, get outside your comfort zone, and become comfortable being uncomfortable, you will find opportunity. And then follow up on the opportunity; don't just get it and then let it go. You have to follow up and keep taking action, every single day.

You actually did it rather than talk about it.

I fucking hate it when people talk. People will promise me something and never deliver. You need to under-promise and over-deliver. I would never ask anything of anybody that I wouldn't do it myself.

Really over-deliver, and if you prove to somebody that you're a reliable person, they will never forget that and they will help you. Always over-deliver.

Video content has been a big focus for you. How do you feel when you look back at the really early videos that you did when you were just getting into the video and the branding side?

When I first started, I knew nothing about video. And to give you some perspective, I once created a video for an apprentice competition. I was selling real estate at the time, and in the video I said, "Maybe you know me for selling real estate." And I was showing all the things I did. Then I had an ice cooler and bags of ice, so I threw a ice bag and said, "You may know me from selling ice." In the video, I went through my house, and if you look at the video there is shit everywhere. It was a catastrophe, a full bachelor house. And then I said, "Maybe you know me for my invention."

At the end of the video, I kicked the bag in my basement. And I don't know why I kicked the bag. I looked ridiculous. But, see, I started.

When it comes to creating video content, people care what other people think. They're worried they're going to say the wrong thing and people are going to give them shit. But who cares!? And no matter what, those people are still going to give you shit. So I just became fearless in creating content.

With crowdfunding, I saw the power of what video did for fundraising, so I just started creating more content. And now the fact that we have this thing called a phone, there's no excuse. I create 99% of my content on my iPhone. And I bring people into my life. I share who I am. I share how I help people. And I share great knowledge and tips in my area of expertise.

I create 99% of my content on my iPhone.

That results in more followers, more people watching inside your life, more trust they build with you, and it ultimately leads to more sales. And I think video content and video marketing is the most powerful thing we have right now. And that's why I'm all in on it.

So people who don't take the action of creating video content can't really blame themselves for lack of prospects coming into the pipeline?

They're missing out. Think about it. Every video you create, it helps with SEO. People can Google my name "Brandon T. Adams" and they can see 15 pages deep of content from videos, everything I've done. As more and more of that stuff is put online, it's easier for people to find you. But also if somebody's thinking about working with you, you better hope that you have a great representation online in terms of what you do.

A lot of people who work with me say, "Brandon, I've been watching your videos for a couple of years now. I enjoy your stuff. And I'm thinking about whether now is the time that I need help with video marketing." Or they ask my if I can advise their company. That came because I have been putting out consistent content.

Anybody can do this, whether you're in real estate, a small business owner, an author, speaker, whatever. All you got to do is bring people into your life, share what you do, and how you help people, and the people who are out there that need your help will reach out and get you to help them.

Now you're an Emmy Award-winning TV producer and host. You've spoken on hundreds of stages around the world with some of the most renowned entrepreneurs. You've got three TV shows available. What stands out as the darkest day for you looking back at your life in this journey that you've been on?

It's up and down. If you're in this space, even when you've made it, you're going to have your ups and downs. We're human. Life happens, whether you're dealing with a death, a family member, a relationship, whatever it may be. And so there's a couple of really dark days. I'll share two, and the reason I'll share them is because it shows how they ultimately led to my success.

In 2014, Samantha and I moved to Des Moines, Iowa to start this company called Adams Product Innovation. I had spent money on a lawyer. I was going to buy an existing asset. I had money raised, ready to go, and I was going to start this business. We had an office picked out. We signed a lease on an apartment in downtown Des Moines, and I asked Sam to leave her job, which she did, because I said she would have a full-time job.

When we got there, I had a gut feeling that what I was about to do was going to be wrong for me. I knew if I did it, it would hurt me in the long run because I didn't have enough experience in the background and I didn't want to let down the people who had contributed funds. Ultimately, I decided not to do it. It hurt me because my girlfriend, now wife, I let her down. She said, "What do I do now?" because she wasn't really an entrepreneur and she believed in me. So I felt like I let everybody down.

But sometimes you have to eat your pride. Our relationship was rocky because it's like we were figuring out what we were going to do, and we didn't have enough money to pay rent. That was a rock bottom moment. But I realized that if you hit rock bottom, there's only one place to go and that's up. But also you get these superhuman powers to figure out what you're going to do.

I realized that if you hit rock bottom, there's only one place to go and that's up.

Sam ended up getting a job at a fitness center, and that's how she got into fitness and became a personal trainer. I ultimately did a crowdfunding campaign for my invention, Arctic Stick, which got me into crowdfunding and got me into TV. So looking back on that low moment, if that hadn't happened, I wouldn't have become the person I am today.

Sometimes our temporary defeats are successes in disguise. You just have to look at what you can learn from that moment, and move forward. So that was a big one.

Another one occurred when we were in Austin. It was rock bottom, and I didn't know what we were going to do. But we just kept pushing forward. Whether you're in a financial situation or a committed relationship, you need to figure out how to put yourself in a mindset that you can stay positive and keep moving forward. The ways I've done that is to be around the right people, to focus on my fitness - without that, I'd be dead - and meditation. The positive atmosphere gets you through those tough times.

Relationships have been by far the biggest asset that you and I have had. What relationship or business partnership stands out as having moved the needle the most in your life or your business?

Well, besides you. I mean, honestly, there's not many people I can go to and share everything with, and you're one of them. You're like a brother to me, you're my Australian brother. So for one, you.

Also, in terms of making money in business, Kevin Harrington is one. I've made more money with him than anybody, and I've made him a lot of money, but we've helped a lot of people. Kevin was the original shark on Shark Tank. He did a couple of seasons. He's known for pioneering and inventing the infomercial, and he's taken over 20 companies to $100+ million. I was a small part of one of those, that went from $20 million to $100+ million.

I saw what Kevin had done and I'm like... I always found people I wanted to mimic in my own way and learn from. I knew I wanted to get Kevin as a mentor, so I studied him, I read his books, and over months of preparation and reaching out, talking with his assistant, I eventually hired him to come to my event in Iowa, 2016.

Ever since that event we've done probably a dozen different deals. We have investment in five companies right now together, but I've learned so much and the lesson is to find somebody that's doing things at such a high level. If you want to become a billionaire, if you want to become super wealthy, or you want to become the top TV host, or whatever, find somebody that is doing it that level, figure out how to help them, make them money, get their attention, and they will help you in return.

Find somebody that is doing it that level, figure out how to help them, make them money, get their attention, and they will help you in return.

I would say that's been a pivotal thing for me. Even when he's not mentoring me and I'm just in the room with him, people who are very successful in terms of achieving things in business, they communicate differently. They understand things differently and just by being in their presence, you learn. By being in their presence, you're a lot more likely to get an opportunity to work together with them and get so-called "lucky." So surround yourself with those right people.

Absolutely. What about the business partnerships or relationships that fizzled out?

Again, it's people who over-promise and under-deliver. Also, life changes. I mean, I've made mistakes. I remember when, I had a team for Accelerant Media Group and now it's more me and subcontractors, but there were seven of us and I was probably my worst enemy. I probably was a horrible person to work with. I'll admit that. I expected a lot of others and sometimes I was a horrible person to work with.

So a lot of that was on me, but as long as you learn from it and you don't make those same mistakes again. I've had a lot of partnerships come and go. I would rather be in a position where we collaborate on things together and not start a company together because that's like, you're getting married together, and if things go wrong, you got to go through the buying out of the business partner.

So, I've sold two companies and I've bought out business partners and I've been through those uncomfortable situations, but you have to do them. It's like the dating scene. You have to date them a while before you're going to marry them, to make sure you get to know somebody. Even being friends together before going into business can be valuable.

And communicate. Communication is key in business and your relationship. The more you communicate, the better.


Check out the YouTube or podcast version where Brandon does the Win the Day Rocket Round, answering questions about his favorite quote, what advice he’d give her 18-year-old self, his favorite book, and a whole lot more 🚀


Final question. What's one thing you do to win the day?

Take action every day. Take action every single day.

Resources / links mentioned:

📝 Brandon T. Adams on Facebook

📷 Brandon T. Adams on Instagram

⚡ Brandon T. Adams website

🎙️ We Are Podcast: learn how to make money from your podcast

📙 Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

🌎 Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy by James Whittaker

💚 The Road to Success by Brandon T. Adams and Samantha Rossin

🗝️ Success In Your City (TV show)

🔥 BRAND NEW! Andrew Carnegie’s Mental Dynamite by Napoleon Hill and James Whittaker

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

The Eleanor Roosevelt quote certainly sets the tone for today’s guest: the incredible Jessica Cox.

In 1983, Jessica was born without arms. Just last year, she explained to CNN: “My mom had a normal pregnancy. And then on the day of my birth, it was an absolute shock to both of my parents, especially my mom, who was devastated when the doctor brought me over saying, ‘your baby doesn't have any arms.’”

While there were many doubts as to whether Jessica would be able to live a “normal” life, her achievements since then have been anything but normal. In fact, she has made it her mission to prove the doubters and naysayers wrong.

Jessica can do all the everyday things that might seem impossible for someone in her situation, such as driving a car, putting in contact lenses, and playing the piano — and she's even a fourth-degree black belt in taekwondo.

But her most famous accomplishment occurred in 2008 when she was recognized by Guinness World Records for gaining her pilot’s license and becoming the first person to fly an airplane using only her feet.

Today, Jessica's unconventional views on how to achieve impossible feats have earned her invitations to speak at companies like Boeing, NASA, IBM, and even the US Air Force. She is also the subject of the award-winning documentary Right Footed that aired on National Geographic in more than 80 countries.

Jessica teaches that only when we’re true to ourselves are we able to face challenges head on and experience the extraordinary growth that comes with it.

If you’re feeling a little low on motivation, this is the episode for you!

James Whittaker: 
What drives you the most — the pursuit of the goal, or actually achieving the goal? 

Jessica Cox:
Well, I have been a goal-seeker my whole life. One of my earliest memories is being in swim lessons at the public swimming pool and wanting to jump off the high dive. The biggest challenge was climbing up that ladder to get to the top, but I knew I could figure out a way to do it. Sure enough, I made my way up there and then jumped off! 

I enjoy the pursuit of a goal. It's something that has always pushed me to try new things. It's the challenge of figuring out how I am going to do this without any arms. 

You were born without arms, yet your parents never doubted your potential or your ability. They never said that you couldn't do something. How did their involvement shape your younger years?

Well, my parents were phenomenal and they had such patience and grace. My father has said on a number of occasions that he never once shed a tear about my birth condition. He never saw me as a victim of a handicap — or a victim of anything for that matter — so I grew up not with the mentality of being a victim but instead with the realization that yes, I am different, but I am not a victim of anything. And that created a foundation that allowed me to accept my difference.

It's also helped me, through my speaking and coaching, to empower other people to rise above whatever it is in their mind that's created their victim mentality. 

One of the things you talk about is that everyone has a difference, whatever it might be. And it's generally when we start to runaway from that difference, or we try and be someone else, that's where a lot of these struggles come from.

Everyone has a difference. Sometimes it can even be harder for those who don't have a visual difference. For example, I was born without both arms and it's very obvious from the moment I walk out my front door and go into public that people know "She's different." But we're all different in some way, and we all feel different in some way.

And that's the truth of the matter. Sometimes we just have to embrace that difference — to celebrate that uniqueness — instead of doing everything we can to mask it. All of us have times in our life where we want to hide it. It becomes so overwhelming to have to deal with being different, which I know from experience — it's hard! And some days are harder than others, especially being an adolescent because you get singled out. 

But what you don't realize is that difference — the uniqueness that everyone has — is really what makes us very special. It means we have something to contribute to the world that no one else can, in our unique way. 

One of my favorite parts of your story is the Taekwondo instructor who said that you had all the physical attributes you needed to succeed. It was only your attitude that could hold you back. And then at the age of 14 you earned your first black belt in Taekwondo, which is awesome! 

How different would your life have been if you didn't have people like your parents and your Taekwondo instructor giving you that confidence and that support from a young age?

Well, my mom was a phenomenal cheerleader. She was the one who went into the Taekwondo school and approached the instructor. Even before my sister, my brother, and myself went to our first day of class, she went up to the instructor and said, "Can my daughter join your Taekwondo class? She doesn't have arms." And that's when the instructor said, "As long as she has a good attitude." 

"Sometimes we just have to embrace that difference — to celebrate that uniqueness — instead of doing everything we can to mask it."

Having someone to be that cheerleader, to be an advocate — especially during the younger years and during the times that we might not have a voice — it's so important. Then, eventually, you learn how to become your own advocate. You learn how to stand up for yourself and be confident, to voice your needs and voice your opinions, and that's just a process.

And then you stand up for someone else if you have to! Someone who is not being heard. You are able to use your voice to stand up for them. 

People who are born with some type of visual difference have people around them, such as a family member, who doubt their ability to live a normal life. But did you ever want a "normal" life or was there just so much excitement in doing the impossible!?

Oh, well I have to admit, there were times in my life that I wanted normality and I wanted to be like all the other girls or blend in with the crowd and not stand out like a sore thumb, or I should say, sore toe! 

There were so many times when I wanted that, but what I realize now is that it's really a gift. And it's a gift that's been with me my whole life. I just didn't realize it. Often we don't realize our greatest gift until later on in life. 

It was interesting what you said during your TED Talk at Tel Aviv in Israel, that "pity prevents progress." What is it about pity that can be so damaging?

Unfortunately everyone can look through a lens of pity. You see someone who's different — and you might want to pity them and immediately want to bend over backwards to help them — but to feel like they can't do it on their own disempowers an individual. We tend to pity someone because they may not live life in the same way that we do, but we really shouldn't. 

"We should all look through the lens of empowerment and not pity."

We should all look through the lens of empowerment and not pity, because the moment we look through a lens of pity is the moment that we disempower the other person. 

How is life different for someone who lives as their authentic self, versus someone who spends all their days trying to fit in (and just do what everyone else is doing)? 

I know one thing for sure — when you're trying to fit in and do what everyone else is doing, and not living your authentic self, it takes a whole lot more energy! It takes more energy and it requires more effort.

It's so liberating when you're able to embrace your own authenticity and say, "You know what, world? This is who I am! Take it or leave it."

The whole world might not agree with who I am, but it doesn't matter. The best thing I can do is be the best version of myself each day. We all have ups and downs, but just commit to being the strongest and most confident version of who I am. 

You've traveled to more than 20 countries to share your inspirational message. You've appeared in films and you've written books! You have done all these incredible things and spoken to people from all walks of life.

Some people reading this might be wondering how they can find their authentic self if they're much earlier on in their journey than you. What advice would you give them?

They should have introspection about why they're doing the things they do. Are they doing it because they want to please other people, or are they doing it because it's an expression of their own passion? And that introspection allows us to think through the motives of what we do in our life; to see if we're living authentically.

We have to reflect on those things and say, "Well, why am I doing it? Why am I living for someone else?" Understanding it and taking action are the essential first steps to living as your authentic self.

Society seems to place a greater emphasis on physical capabilities, but your amazing story and all your incredible achievements underscore the importance of mental strength, which is also the theme of my latest book Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy and what you and I both spoke about on our recent speaking tour.

Do you believe mental strength is the best asset anyone can have, irrespective of what adversity they face now or in the future?

Yes. I believe that all falls under mindset. It's about attitude and positivity, and all that comes together into mindset. That's what I coach about as well. We all have a choice every single day of how we want to live our life. We can choose to start with an empowered stance to make this a positive experience so we can come out of it stronger than before.

What about in 2008 when you became a pilot? Which was incredible in itself because, as a kid, you were terrified of airplanes! Then in 2011 you were recognized by the Guinness World Records as the first person ever to be certified to fly a plane using only your feet. 

What was it that attracted you to flying? Was it the thrill of being up in the air, or was it more of a metaphorical aspect of knowing the journey that you'd been on?

I love that question because we talked earlier about the pursuit of a goal and the pursuit of a challenge. For me, the pursuit of flying meant overcoming something that I was terrified of. It was my greatest fear to lose contact with the ground, be in an airplane up in the sky, and not know what was happening. 

"The best thing I can do is be the best version of myself each day."

So I needed to overcome that personal fear. Doing that helps me empower others to make sure that fear doesn't stand in the way of an opportunity. As a speaker, I have to walk the walk, and for me to overcome that fear and become a pilot - what better way?

I have not done pilot training. You have. Janine Shepherd has. From the outside looking in, there is a massive focus on safety, but obviously you have some limitations, such as how you put the seat belt on. How difficult was the experience? Can you walk us through what that journey was like to get qualified as a pilot? 

Well, I don't even know where to start because there were different aspects of my journey to becoming a pilot. The emotional aspect — overcoming the fear. The physical and the logistical aspect — how do we get an airplane that will work for my situation because I use my feet as my hands.

No to mention whether the Federal Aviation Administration would be okay with a woman flying without arms. Would other people feel comfortable knowing there is a pilot behind the controls of an airplane who doesn't have arms? Would they feel safe even being on the ground?

"Would other people feel comfortable knowing there is a pilot behind the controls of an airplane who doesn't have arms?"

There are a lot of different aspects, even trying to determine who would instruct someone without arms to fly. We had to go through these kind of hoops, these challenges, and we had to go through them one at a time and over the course of three years. 

It took three different flight instructors, working through three different kinds of airplanes. Finally, after numerous hours — more than the average student pilot who could probably set their life aside to learn to fly and could accomplish it in probably six months' time if they pursued it to the extent I did. But for me, it had to be spread out over three years because of all those obstacles and challenges. 

But, in the end, it was definitely worthwhile because the harder you have to work for something the more you appreciate it when you've accomplished it; and that's how I felt about flying. That moment I flew an airplane by myself for the first time was the most empowering feeling. It was the greatest physical feat that I had accomplished in my life. 

Can you take us through that moment when you're alone in the plane and thought, "Oh my god, here I am by myself, after three years." How was it after the rollercoaster journey to get there, and everything else you've done in your life?

I remember it like yesterday! Well, just for reference, I went flying on Monday and every time I go flying it gives me that memory back to my solo flight; but the first time you ever do this alone, there is just no greater feeling. You will never forget it. And it's just the moment that your instructor turns to you and says "Okay! Now you can fly the airplane on your own!"

You're almost in disbelief because knowing that you are going to fly this airplane by yourself —it was this empowering sense of independence. After my instructor climbed out of the cockpit, the moment I took off ... I just didn't even recognize I was doing this on my own. 

"The harder you have to work for something the more you appreciate it when you've accomplished it."

I was so focused and set on doing this correctly. I didn't even realize it until I did my first turn. The moment I did that first turn I realized "I did this all by myself! I am in this plane without anyone else in here." I literally have my own life in my own feet at this moment. It was so incredible to know that I did that. The moment I landed that plane, I got out feeling like I was Pilot in Command of my own life! It was wonderful.

While that's the achievement you're most famous for, you've done so many other things — whether it's playing the piano, scuba diving, driving a car, or getting a black belt in Taekwondo. How did the pilot experience compare to your other achievements?

It was definitely a moment of accountability to the highest degree. I found that accountability so empowering, much more than in any other thing I had accomplished.

"I literally have my own life in my own feet at this moment."

Getting a black belt in Taekwondo was the culmination of four years of hard work, but when you're in that airplane and you're knowing you're doing it by yourself, it reinforces the accountability you have for your own life. It was so empowering to be able to do that. 

Most people today want things now rather than working for them. They want the juice without the squeeze. What does it teach you about yourself when you put in the work that leads to those outcomes?

The process and the journey to accomplishing something is where we experience our growth. It's where we find out what our strengths are and what we need more of, such as: do we need to persist more, do we need to learn more, or we need a more positive mental attitude.

We learn so much about ourselves in the process. That discovery is what helps us understand what our strengths are and just how strong we can be. What we experience in the process of accomplishing any goal is always profoundly helpful.

Being so driven by the challenge — and going from achievement to achievement to achievement — how have you learned to be happy in the present? Does always being focused on 'what's next' take away from your joy and happiness in the present?

That is something I always have to remind myself of because I am such a go-getter; I am always after the next challenge, the next obstacle, and wanting to push myself. But sometimes I have to stop, reflect, and appreciate. I have to remind myself to do that more often because if we can't really enjoy the moment and the journey, what we've gone through to get there makes it hard to really appreciate. 

So true. And it makes it tough for personal relationships too.

Well, there are people who are watching this on YouTube and listening to the podcast who are dealing with a lot, especially in the COVID world. Maybe they have lost a business or lost a marriage or had some other type of relationship breakdown. Maybe they're dealing with depression. 

Whatever it might be, what advice do you have for people who are going through a really difficult time and can't see a way out?

To anyone who is going through a difficult time — because many of us are through the present challenges — you need to stay strong. You're going to get through this. We will all get through this. While it's a struggle right now, we'll come away from it stronger than we ever were before.

"Disability doesn't mean inability."

It's important that we tough it out, stay strong, and never give up. That's how we come out of it stronger than before.

Well said. Many people who look up to industry experts and seemingly superhuman individuals such as yourself want to know if they have bad days. I'm sure you do have bad days, like everyone does! How do you handle them?

Naturally, I am a human being and I have bad days! Everyone has bad days. Some days are worse than others, some days are better than others. We just have to recognize that our current day might not be as good as once we had recently, but if we didn't have anything to contrast our good days with, how would we know what was a good day?

We have to learn to appreciate some of those tough days, so that we have something to compare the good days to. 

Outside of your family, who inspires you the most?

Outside of my family, I have an inspiring mentor who has been a part of my life since I was a teenager. The reason that she has inspired me so much is because she lives her life without arms and I, at the time, didn't know of anyone else who lived their life without arms. When we first met, it was this wonderful understanding and experience that someone finally gets what it's like to be different in this way. 

To see everything that she did with her own life — being a mother, taking care of her children — and she continues to do that. It inspires me to stay strong, to keep having goals, and to always aspire to be better.

It's so important, isn't it, to have that accountability and companionship, rather than feel like we're going through all this stuff alone. Even though for most of us, when we're in that real darkness of deep adversity, it feels like we're alone. But the whole world's connected and we're never alone, if our thoughts are properly calibrated. 

Is your professional work, including what you do with your foundation, a way to help people feel connected and empowered, no matter what they're going through?

Yes, definitely. I have been so gifted with wonderful blessings in my life and now I want to do everything I can to share that with other people —whether it's with my book, or the documentary that was done about my life...

However and whatever way that I can help touch someone's life, it's just a wonderful way to give back the blessings that I have received and to see others excel, to see them achieve their own impossible.

You have achieved so much already, and you're a huge inspiration to me, as you know. Dare I say it, but what's the next big goal on your list? 

Well, I always have various goals that I shoot for and I am thinking about the present goal right now. 

I half expected to see you on the SpaceX rocket launch the other day, going into outer space! 

Yes! Wouldn't that be cool? I mean, that's crossed my mind. One of the goals right now is to be able to fly the airplane that my foundation (which helps people with disabilities) has — I would like to fly that airplane across the country to share the message that disability doesn't mean inability.

So that is my current goal, and to achieve that I need to get compatible and to up to speed with my flying skills so that I can do that great of an endeavor and fly across the country. 


Check out the podcast or YouTube version where Jessica does the Win the Day Rocket Round, answering questions about her favorite quote, what advice she’d give her 18-year-old self, her favorite book, and a whole lot more 🚀


Final question. What's one thing you do to win the day?

I start my mornings with a motivational jam where I have a really loud song playing, some motivational music, and that for me is what allows me to get into the mindset of "I am going to have a wonderful day. I'm going to win today." That really helps me start off the day right. 

__

Connect with Jessica Cox and learn more about the resources/links mentioned in the interview:

🎬 Right Footed documentary

📷 Jessica Cox on Instagram

📝 Jessica Cox on Facebook

🧡 Possible Thinking with Jessica Cox

🎤 Jessica Cox TEDx Talk in Israel

🌐 Jessica Cox website

Get out there and win the day! Until next time...

Onwards and upwards always,
James Whittaker

“It is better to have less thunder in the mouth and more lightning in the hand.”

Apache proverb

This holiday season, rather than squandering money on gifts with little long-term value, consider giving something practical that gets the recipient excited about taking ownership of his/her future.

Aside from allowing us to delve into the minds of the most inspiring and innovative people who ever lived, books are a great gift because they sit there staring back at us: providing gentle prompts, imaginative thought, and unprecedented motivation when we need it most.

In fact, many of the people I interviewed for Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy noted that, in times of distress, just staring at the cover of Hill’s original classic made them feel better about themselves.

Lately, I’ve also really been enjoying audiobooks. With the speed toggle, you can listen at an increasing speed. When you first try 1.25x, it seems a little intense. But a day or two later, you'll probably feel comfortable at 1.5x and wonder how you listened to anything slower before. Audiobooks are also more social because, rather than simply listening to music (which I love for entertainment or a demanding workout), you and a travel companion can improve your minds while exploring new areas of interest.

For my favorite books, as you'll see in the YouTube edition of this post, I make sure to also purchase a hard copy because it's easier for a quick reference.

Welcome to my second annual recommended reading list of gifts for yourself or a loved one. With this list, you'll undoubtedly have more lightning in the hand, as the earlier proverb reminds us.

Best for Entrepreneurs:

Driven
by Dr Doug Brackmann

I first met Dr Doug Brackmann in Orange County, California, in early 2019 when my good mate Ronsley Vaz interviewed him. Brackmann radiated a potent mix of strength and empathy, traits forged from a career working with some of the most driven people on the planet.

This is the best book I’ve read in 2019 and I’ve literally just purchased a copy for every one of my clients around the world.

In it, Brackmann argues that 10% of the population possess a certain DNA that makes them feel like something is wrong with them, leading to anxiety, shame, and negative self-talk that can create a hellish existence. He calls this group the ‘Driven.’

Yet, through his research (which includes holding two PhDs in psychology!) and work with some of the highest performers on the planet—everyone from Navy SEALs to pro athletes and business leaders—Brackmann has discovered how the Driven can harness that energy into constructive means to reach their highest potential.

If you are an entrepreneur, or are looking at buying a gift for an entrepreneur, you won’t go wrong with this book. I’ve never read something that struck at the heart of who I was more than this one, while at the same time giving practical tips to improve day by day.

And let's face it: every existing and aspiring entrepreneur could do with a little more help understanding themselves!


Best for Mindset:

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
by Dr Carol Dweck

Carol Dweck is one of my biggest inspirations. This book talks about what sets champions apart in any field—the growth mindset.

Dweck contrasts those who have a growth mindset with those who have a fixed mindset, and it typically comes down to one simple focus: how we respond to adversity when it inevitably strikes.

Those with a growth mindset embrace challenge and recognize mastery as a journey of self-effort, whereas those with a fixed mindset avoid challenge and give up easily.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from Mindset:

In her bestselling book, Dweck shows how people of all ages can cultivate a growth mindset, while giving examples of well-known people to keep readers engaged and illustrate the points, offering practical solutions to help us fulfill our potential in the most important areas of our lives.


Best for Empowerment:

Educated
by Tara Westover

Written with phenomenal detail, Westover’s memoir describes her unique upbringing by uncompromising survivalists in the mountains of Idaho.

Working in her father’s junkyard, Westover was never allowed to go to school or visit a doctor, and recounts her volatile—and, at times, abusive—family life as the youngest of seven children.

This alone makes for gripping reading, but the trajectory from Westover first stepping into a classroom at age 17 to eventually earning a doctorate at the University of Cambridge, while continuing to fight battles in and out of the classroom, leaves you spellbound.

In particular, if you’re a female struggling to find your place (or voice) in the world—or you know someone in that situation—this book is a must read. It spent more than a year on the New York Times bestseller list and has now been translated into more than 30 languages.

Here’s one of my favorite quotes:

Seriously powerful stuff, and an easy listen on Audible too. Plus, if you're an aspiring writer, it's one of the most beautifully written books you'll ever read.


Best for Gratitude:

The 5 Minute Journal
by Intelligent Change

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen how frequently I post these as daily stories. A huge percentage of CEOs have spoken about the importance of journaling for mental well-being; yet staring at a blank page each day can be daunting. The 5 Minute Journal provides a useful structure to start and finish the day in the right mindset.

You hear me talk constantly about winning the day. The best way to win the day is to know what actions you’re going to take on a given day and how they relate to your long-term mission, and this book gives you a forum to be able to do that.

To me, it’s been truly life-changing and is the book I gift the most. If you want an introduction to gratitude, this is the best place to be. A lot of people ask me what book it is that I keep posting on Instagram, and now you know 🙂


Best for Parenting:

Letters From A Self-Made Merchant To His Son
by George Horace Lorimer

This is the only book on this list that has entered the public domain, which means it can be downloaded for free. As a result, it’s probably a better gift for yourself, rather than sending someone a link!

This book was originally published in 1901 and contains letters from a successful business owner to his son who had just started university.

If Educated is slightly better suited to a female audience, this one is slightly better suited to a male audience. Yet, both hold enduring value for all readers.

Given Letters was written more than a century ago, it is told in a language of a foregone era, but it’s phenomenal quotes are timeless, such as:

This is the book that inspired me to start writing an annual letter to our daughter, the first one written in December 2018 (i.e. five months before she was born), so at whatever age I choose to reveal them to her she can understand the journey we’ve all been on together, especially her mother's unparalleled contributions, and exactly what unconditional love means.


Best for Motivation:

Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy
by James Whittaker

Writing this book is the greatest honor of my life and it’s truly humbling to see it continue to resonate with so many people around the world.

The theme of the book is that how you respond to adversity when it inevitably strikes is far more important than the adversity itself, and this is demonstrated through a combination of moving stories and practical tips. My hope is that it continues to inspire people of all backgrounds to extraordinary achievement.

Email us if you're after a signed copy! If you want your signed copy to arrive before Christmas, please allow at least two weeks' notice to ensure your order arrives in time. Discounts are available for bulk orders. Unsigned copies, as well as audiobook and ebook formats, are available on Amazon.


Best Gift (or Accompaniment) for Everyone:

A letter or card, handwritten if your legibility allows, to acknowledge the recipient for all the loving and selfless actions they have taken to brighten your world and illuminate your spirit. Expressing our gratitude to one another in the long form written medium has become a lost art, but that just means your opportunity to make an impression will be even more powerful.

You've heard me say many times before that the best way to get is to give. Give someone a piece of your heart, and watch the way your life changes as a result.

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I proudly recommend all these books and know they would be a welcome gift in any stocking. This holiday season give your friends and loved ones the inspiration and ability to help themselves.

As we approach the end of 2019, I wanted to thank each and every one of you for your continued support. Have a wonderful holiday season with your loved ones and get excited for an incredible 2020.

Onwards and upwards always,
James Whittaker

In case you missed it:
How to Get a Promotion: Lessons from a Chief Maker

“Fear doesn’t prevent death. It prevents life.”

Naguib Mahfouz

During the last few months, I’ve had the opportunity to attend events around the world, from Dallas and San Diego to New York and London, and it never ceases to amaze me how important gatherings of like-minded people can be, not just for our happiness in the present but to help us adjust our sails for what we want in the future.

In particular, the Pathfinder Mastermind in Austin, Texas (don’t worry—I’ll be sharing everything I learned at that with you very soon!) was a powerful reminder that the key to connecting the dots on our future is found in the conversations we have with others. The better our process of meeting new and interesting people, the quicker our route to making an impact will be—and the larger our impact will be.


Want to get your hands on a free signed copy of 'Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy'? Check out the YouTube or Podcast versions of this episode for details on how you can win!


If you work by yourself a lot of the time (or have a mundane routine)—which is a huge trap for entrepreneurs—it’s easy to feel increasingly rudderless without even realizing that it’s happening. Sometimes, simply attending an event can give you the jolt of inspiration and direction you need.

If you’re serious about your professional aspirations, the message is clear: you’ve got to show up to blow up. And events can be used as the ultimate forced multiplier for your life and business.

Let’s look at the three different types of events and how you can leverage them.

1. Attending events.

There are many benefits to attending events, such as:

Wherever you live, there are probably hundreds of events happening each week. The key is connecting with one or two people who can help you pinpoint the ones that will give you the most bang for your buck.

Then, show up!

2. Speaking at events.

One of the best ways to position yourself as an authority in your field is to speak on as many stages as you can. But remember, just like every good leader was once a good follower, you can only be a powerful orator when you’ve watched dozens of other leading speakers work their magic.

To this day, I love seeing how some of the world’s most renowned speakers, such as Janine Shepherd, Brendon Burchard, and Vinh Giang use the stage to tell their story in a way that excites people to make actionable change in their own lives. Some speakers would rather avoid being seen in the ‘audience’ but I sit attentively with a notepad and take notes on things that I can do to improve and make my next speech more impactful—we can learn from everyone.

Watching other speakers on YouTube is an okay substitute, but you miss out on the myriad benefits of attending in person. If you have any desire to be on stage at some point in your life, and you should—whether it’s a wedding toast, business presentation, or product launch—the best education is to:

This year, I’ve spoken alongside some of my heroes, many of whom I now call my friends because of our shared experience at these events. That process has been enormously invigorating in itself, and never would’ve happened if I hadn’t made the decision to show up.

3. Hosting events.

Hosting events incorporates the previous two, since you’re not only an attendee but you’ll also act as the facilitator too.

While there are many different types of events, some of the most beneficial ones can be found in small groups. I really enjoy the format of having 6-10 people in a room where you spend a good amount of time on each person individually and then having some free time to mingle afterwards. Learn more about how to host masterminds that work.

Regardless of what service you offer, or what problem you’re currently facing (personal or professional), providing an environment for people with similar values, who are trying to solve problems for the same audience you have but in a complementary profession, is one of the most powerful ways to multiply your impact. Having a small group setting enables you to minimize costs while positioning yourself as a super-connector who can readily bring together interesting people.

Even if it’s just those with similar values, forging a meaningful connection with them will open you up to their entire network. If you’re looking to grow your business or network, this is an absolute no-brainer.

Better yet, if you’re hosting the event, it forces you to show up!

(Check out the YouTube and Podcast versions of this episode for some practical examples of how you can host life-changing events.)


Showing up to events might scare you—it does for most people, and it’s certainly uncomfortable walking into a room of strangers. But think again about the quote for this episode:

“Fear doesn’t prevent death. It prevents life.”

Your best life is on the other side of that fear you’re feeling, so make a commitment to show up—time and time again.

And when you do show up, always remember that the best way to GET is to GIVE. Solve other people’s problems, and you’ll have an army ready to solve your own.

Get out there and win the day!

Onwards and upwards always,
James Whittaker

PS - If you’re not sure what events would be a good fit for you, just join the Win the Day group and post a comment with your location, area of expertise, and goals, and I’ll help you as much as I can.

“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

“The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.”

Ray Kroc

The last two weeks have been interesting! On Wednesday, 1 May at 11:42 am, I became a father for the first time, as my wife gave birth to our beautiful girl, Sophie Geraldine Whittaker.

While it still feels surreal, it got me thinking—as I’m sure it does for all new parents—about what type of world our little girl will grow up in, and what we (as parents, leaders, and carers) can do to raise a child with love, respect, compassion, and willpower; someone comfortable in their own skin, who inspires others through their actions; a leader, never afraid to take the reins and do what is right.

One of the tenets of success is that every great leader was once a great follower. Through carefully modelling the habits of high performers—none more important than consistent self-discipline—in their own way, ordinary people are elevated to the elite of every profession, from athletes and entrepreneurs, to soldiers and entertainers. These one-percenters set high standards for their team, but reserve the highest standards for themselves, clearly evident in their commitment to winning the day, every day.

In Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy, British financial adviser Derek Mills noted that the biggest turning point in his life occurred after he started setting simple daily standards for himself and abiding by them at all costs. Incredibly, this small shift in accountability and action had a dramatic impact on his life, increasing his income tenfold, all while working in the same office, and allowing him to spend more time with his young family.

That’s the power of daily standards.

We’re ALL leaders in some capacity—a product of influence and action. Being a father has made me more aware than ever of how my actions, good or bad, will impact another. After all, not every leader is a positive one: leading someone astray is still leadership. Leo Tolstoy once said, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” It’s easy to dictate how others should act—especially when we’re in a position of power, such as parents-to-children, coaches-to-players, or bosses-to-employees, but living it ourselves—whether it’s family, friendship, or business—is the most important way to inspire change.

One of my coaching clients once vented to me that her boss was constantly late to meetings, used vape cigarettes in the boardrooms, and built an enormously lavish office for himself while penny-pinching resources for his team. What a horrible standard to set for the culture, and unsurprisingly it was a revolving door of both staff and clients. My advice to her was to start looking for a new job immediately. Within three months, she had a new job that paid her 40% more, at a company with strong leadership, a clear vision, and high standards for its entire staff but most demonstrable by the management team.

In June last year, I was in Sydney as a guest on Kerwin Rae’s show, Unstoppable. On a tour of the K-Man’s office, I saw a huge mural on the wall outlining the company’s vision (below), a custom-made gym that offered free functional fitness classes throughout the week, and a leader who set the standard—day in, day out. I could feel the energy coming from the team, and they continue to crush it in all aspects. What a difference from the aforementioned example.

Think about the most chaotic parts of your own life. Are you:

If so, set standards to get back on track.

Read through the list of attributes that separates good vs bad leaders in the following table. Reflect on those attributes while perusing your Success Plan. That will give you a clear idea of what standards you need to set for yourself to achieve everything you most desire.

Good Leaders Bad Leaders
Confidently define the mission and courageously execute it. Uncertain of mission and avoid purposeful action.
Prioritize what is most important. Fall victim to destructive vices, procrastination, and distraction.
Go the extra mile with everything they do. Only do the minimum of what is required.
Passion for lifelong learning. Focus on ego and think they already know it all.
Positive mental attitude. Negative mental attitude.
Strong empathy for other people. Make fun of others and refuse to learn more about them.
Supreme accountability for all areas of their life. Blame other people for everything wrong in their life.
Ability to coordinate and empower other high performers. Constantly in conflict with other people. Bring others down to their level.
Lead by example, building a high performing team but reserving the highest standards for themselves. Strong opinions on what others should do but does not live to those same standards.

Then, write out those daily or weekly standards—as vividly and with as much color as possible—and place them somewhere you will see them frequently. Follow Derek Mills’ lead and hand a copy to your spouse, children, and boss so they know how committed you are to your own success and growth.

The final step? Live by those standards, every day.

You have an obligation to all those in your life—whether your children, parents, siblings, teammates, colleagues, or friends—to lead by example. Don’t wait until you’re in a position of authority to become a great leader.

Inspire change through your actions. Be proud to live by the highest of standards each day, regardless of the noise and negativity around you. Your example will be a perpetual gift of inspiration to the most important people in your life, leading to unprecedented happiness, freedom, and success.

As Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius said: “Waste no more time arguing about what a good person should be. Be one.” Whether it’s the battlefield or the boardroom, the best leaders demand excellence from those around them, but hold themselves to the highest standard.

After all, how you do anything is how you do everything.

Onwards and upwards always,
James W.

In case you missed it:
Failure: The Essential Ingredient

“Everything you seek to achieve, build a believable plan."

Rob Dyrdek


In episode two of Win the Day, we spoke about how the right plan is far better than the right promise. After all, you can promise yourself anything you like, but you’ll continue to bounce from failure to failure until you’ve got a detailed plan for success. Purposeful action always trumps talk.

Importantly, the right plan encapsulates remedies for just about every adversity and obstacle you’ll face along the way, keeping you resilient, focused, and giving you the best overall chance of success.

As author of Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy, I was tasked with interviewing an incredible mix of people from all over the world to tell their stories from hopelessness to success. If you’ve read the book, you’ll notice that a bulletproof plan was a common thread. It got:

A bulletproof plan creates relentless action, bringing superhuman levels of resourcefulness and resilience.

One of the most interesting people I’ve interviewed is Rob Dyrdek. Admittedly, I hadn’t really heard of him before the Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy project, but he’s amassed more than 12 million followers on Facebook and Instagram and appears on major television networks around the world every day. As I researched his extraordinary career, I was amazed at his eclectic cache of achievements and wondered what could possibly be left on his bucket list.

Two years ago, I drove to his penthouse office in Beverly Hills for our interview and could immediately feel the energy of the place. The elevator walls were adorned with his ’99 truths of business’ and the windows offered 360-degree views of one of the most glamorous cities on Earth.

Dyrdek greeted me like an old friend. He walked me into his office and, for the next two-and-a-half hours, shared his remarkable philosophy for life, success and business.

I was blown away, not just by how generous he was with his time and how candidly he shared his story with me, but how intelligent and insightful he was—a contrast to how many would perceive him, I’m sure.

It’s safe to say that I’m a fan.

Growing up in Ohio as an ordinary kid, it was a chance encounter that changed Dyrdek’s life forever. It happened at a skateboard tournament, where the 11-year-old followed around one of the pro skaters, Neil Blender, who was walking to his limousine. As Neil opened the door to hop in, Rob blurted out, “Hey, I don’t think there’s enough room for you and that board.”

“You know what? You’re right!” the pro skater replied, handing his board to the young fan.

At the time, Dyrdek had never even been on a skateboard, but this extraordinary course of events taught him one of the universe’s most valuable lessons: Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.

He became completely enamored with his new craft, practicing for hours on end while harboring dreams of turning pro. Dyrdek eventually moved to California and began shaping the culture of the burgeoning sport, both on the board and as a clothing designer.

But he wasn’t satisfied.

Fearless, he tried his hand at all he could, raking in millions of dollars, but the lofty highs were tempered by deep lows. To restore balance and stay focused on the bigger picture, Dyrdek began reading books like Think and Grow Rich and resumed asking for what he wanted, as he had done as a kid.

“What’s grounded me is the relentless pursuit of growth and having a bigger picture for what I’m meant to accomplish,” Dyrdek told me during our interview. “It’s knowing that these stages are just part of the process, and not a final destination.”

A lot of the unhappiness and frustration in our own lives stems from the contradiction between where we are now and where we think we should be, but Dyrdek reminds us that there’s lessons to be learnt in every situation and that your current circumstances never have to be your final destination. Trust the process.

Being crystal clear on what he wanted gave Dyrdek the fuel and inspiration to keep moving forward, even after his athletic shelf life was expiring. “As I’ve continued to level-up, I stop and decide what the answer is, and then build my life backwards from there,” Dyrdek noted.

That level-up came in the form of an unlikely career in entertainment, where he controls the full gamut: producing and hosting television shows, planning their distribution, and showcasing brands. To turbocharge promotion, he took the reins (quite literally in this case)—putting his body on the line and setting 21 Guinness World Records.

However, for all his success, Dyrdek’s crowning glory is the Dyrdek Machine, a venture capital company that invests in exciting startups with high growth potential. Aside from fulfilling the 99 truths that adorn the elevator well of his penthouse office in Beverly Hills, the people who most catch his attention are those who embody two simple attributes: zest for life and a bulletproof plan.

Many would argue that Rob Dyrdek has no right to be a major player in the entertainment world. After all, how many former skateboarders—or professional athletes in general—can you name who forged careers at that level of success after calling time on their sporting pursuits?

Despite what the haters say, being dedicated to a detailed growth plan has been the foundation of Dyrdek’s long-term success and why it would be unwise to bet against anything he does. Today, he owns companies in seemingly every industry, from virtual reality and luxury goods to clothing and plant-based foods.

To maintain harmony in his life, the 44-year-old focuses on three things: working on ventures he believes in, committing to mastery of the business world, and creating a platform of love for his young family. It’s this life plan—what he calls his ‘rhythm of existence playbook’—that maintains Dyrdek’s infinite well of energy and is what he regards as his greatest accomplishment:

“It’s creating your entire universe about you being at your best, living with energy each day, and just being happy. That’s the ultimate freedom. I have a clear vision for literally everything in my life and I think about it every day.”

Interestingly, Rob Dyrdek reads Think and Grow Rich every year because he recognizes that each time you read it, and have more life experience to bring, you don’t notice something new in the book—you notice something new in yourself:

“The foundational principles of achievement, you can only digest based off experience. When you begin to manifest based off applying these principles, and you begin to hone that, you read it [Think and Grow Rich] again and it’s like, “Wow, this really is what I’m doing!” I think self-help books should be read every year just to remind yourself. There’s no way to fully apply something that complex until you’ve had achievements to help you believe it.”

To conclude, let’s revisit his quote at the top of this newsletter: “Everything you seek to achieve, build a believable plan.” Think about the most important goals in your life and make sure you’ve prepared detailed plans to make them a reality. (Unsure of how to do that? Watch this issue’s video episode.)

Onwards and upwards always,
James W.

PS – You can learn more about Rob Dyrdek’s story, and many others, in Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy, available now on audiobook, ebook and hardcover.

“Quick riches are more dangerous than poverty.”

Napoleon Hill

Feelings Amplified

Most people spend all their life wishing for things they haven’t earned, while only a small percentage make the effort to get them. If we’re unhappy in our current state, we’re more likely to harbor negative feelings towards those who’ve ‘made it’ or are enjoying things we wish we had.

Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram emerged as a way for people to share snapshots of their life. As a result, a significant portion of our daily routine now involves frequent glances at what someone else is doing. Each snapshot we observe is accompanied by a like, comment and share button, a clear metric of celebrity and influencer clout.

Of course, consciously we know the truth about celebrity and influencer accounts: their images are usually taken by a leading photographer wielding a professional SLR camera, who then selects the best image from 100 shots in 10 different locations, edits out any wrinkles or perceived imperfections, and finishes it off with a filter.

Voila! Gram-worthy.

But being aware that this is happening often doesn’t stop us from the inner turmoil that accompanies such a comparison.

Interestingly, we typically only use social media when we’re vulnerable—perhaps we’re feeling lonely or bored at home, commuting to/from work, or simply want a distraction. Rarely would we open one of these platforms when we’re completely present in the moment, on a fun date, or spending quality time with family.

As a result, in our most vulnerable moments, we not only crave what other people have, we rank our social and personal worth on it, too. This is known as social comparison theory, which analyzes the part of human nature that causes us to continually compare ourselves to others. In fact, we tell ourselves that happiness is not the journey but the destination—the destination that we believe others are at, which continues to elude us.

Instant Celebrity

Enter the lottery jackpot, a phenomenon that’s popular the world over.

You may recall the hysteria in January 2016 surrounding the $1.6 billion-dollar prize that clogged news networks and social media feeds, as people eagerly handed over wads of cash for the 1-in-300 million chance of winning the jackpot—the ultimate shortcut to instant celebrity.

To put those odds into perspective, you’re four times more likely to die from an asteroid strike. Yet, it still doesn’t stop people from participating: Americans spend $73 billion on lottery tickets each year, equating to $223 per person!

Obviously in the commercials, Powerball leaves out some important details:

  1. If the winner opts for the lump sum payment, they will receive 38% less;
  2. The IRS takes 24% of gambling winnings;
  3. The winner will be taxed at the highest income rate of 37% (plus applicable state taxes);
  4. The prize will be split between all the winning tickets; and
  5. Lottery winners do not report any significant upswing in happiness and mental health.

Note: Lottery payouts and tax implications vary around the world. The US has been used here for consistency. If you plan on winning the lottery (or getting hit by an asteroid), look up the implications in your own region.

In fact, economist and research scientist Jay L. Zagorsky found that rather than discovering a cure for financial woes, lottery winners ended up in more financial distress, with bankruptcy rates soaring within three to five years of claiming their prize.

But it’s not just winning the coveted jackpot that creates financial hardship. Zagorsky also noted that a large financial gift of any kind, such as an inheritance, quickly disappeared through “spending or poor investments.”

Easy come, easy go.

Be Careful What You Sow

This is the law of sowing and reaping: you cannot reap before you have sown.

Importantly, you also reap much more than you have sown. Planting a single cup of corn can yield bags and bags of corn. Unfortunately, people forget that the law of sowing and reaping works in both the positive and the negative. If you plant toxic seeds in your own life, down the line you’re going to be confronted with a whole heap of misery.

Whether it’s instant weight loss secrets, becoming a forex trading millionaire overnight, or any other snake oil, there is no magic bullet—and run from anyone trying to sell it to you.

Basketball superstar Michael Jordan once said: “Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.” Plant the right seeds in your own life, be vigilant in protecting them, and enjoy the compounding rewards in the future.

Don’t leave your fate to a 1-in-300 million chance.

Onwards and upwards always,
James W.

In case you missed it: ‘10 Tips to Handle the Haters’ (blog audio)

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