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30 Trips Around The Sun, 30 Lessons On Life And Business

What have I learned on my 30th trip around the sun? (Reading time: ~8-10 minutes)

1. Everything comes down to perspective

Things happen. You give them meaning. It can be a gift or a curse.

Same event. Same people. Different viewpoints.

Changing your perspective turns the finite to the infinite.

Rotate it ninety degrees. Now do you see? It’s infinity.

It’s been interesting to observe people consciously and unconsciously giving meaning to events in their life and seeing the outcomes that follow.

2. Meaningful work yields the most fulfillment

Our company has produced hundreds of jobs. Internally we have 25 team members.

Just last month we helped clients hire 57 new team members.

Nothing gets me more pumped than stories we hear about the ripple effect of meaningful work.

We spend more hours at work than anything else.

And when it’s meaningful… Everything gets so much better.

3. Life's much better with friends

We’ve been closer to friends and family since we stopped traveling.

Before COVID, we had been making a conscious effort to spend more time with them.

Friends keep you humble. They remind you where you came from. And they spice up the dish of life.

4. Pay yourself first

This is something that I started doing consistently only 4 years ago.

But now is when I’ve been able to see the results really amplify.

Paying yourself first isn’t only about money. It’s about time too.

If you use your time to knock out your major action item first thing, the compound effect gets crazy.

5. Trends outweigh strategy

Lots of people had great strategies. But that got totally fucked when the pandemic hit.

Fortunately for us, we’ve massively grown in the past several months.

While a tiny percent of that has to do with being a strong operator…

It mostly has to do with being on the right side of trends.

Online education is a massively growing market. And it’s only getting bigger now that people can’t leave the house.

6. Consider all possibilities & expect the unexpected

I used to think preppers were crazy. But when shit hit the fan, I realized how smart they were.

They had considered this as a possible reality and made provisions.

This year has been a Black Swan event.

Our company strategy involved leveraging live events heavily. Obvs that didn’t pan out.

But it’s all good because we had contingencies and were able to rapidly adapt.

Regardless it was an inexpensive lesson that I need to take more time to consider the unexpected and stay prepared for anything.

7. Growing a culture is a lot like gardening

Culture grows on its own. Just like plants.

We just observe what is healthy and unhealthy, what we want and don’t want.

Then it’s our role to pull out the weeds, trim the edges, and make sure the good gets ample water and light.

It’s been very fun to observe our culture forming.

And then guide the values and principles that give us the beauty we seek.

8. Hold yourself to a higher standard

Lots of people have a vision of their life or the way things are. It’s what they’re comfortable with.

Sometimes my standards make them uncomfortable.

That’s the way it should be.

9. Turning dreams into reality is the most gratifying thing in life

Don’t need to say much here.

It’s just so satisfying to see things I’ve dreamt of for years finally manifest through hard work, dedication, and teamwork.

10. Focus on creating happy customers, not revenue

So many folks celebrate the revenue numbers.

It’s easy to get lost in revenue goals and the glamor that comes from a fast-growing business.

But in my experience, it sends the wrong message.

Creating happy customers has proven much more meaningful.

11. One word can open the portal to a new reality

Sometimes when searching for information… all you need to find is the one word.

Lately, I’ve been casting my vision for my dream home. And there is a very particular look and feel I want.

I knew it when I saw it. But didn’t know how to describe it. Eventually, I found the word… Biophilic design.

That opened the portal to the exact type of home I want and all the designers and architects who can make it a reality.

This has happened time and time again in the business.

One word introduces me to a whole subculture of people who have the exact thing I’ve been looking for.

Always love that.

12. My dad was right about the 3 most important decisions

Growing up my dad always told me that the 3 most important decisions in your life are…

  • Who you marry
  • What you do for work
  • Who your friends are

And now it’s really hit me how right he was.

I’m super blessed to have an amazing spouse. Adriana really is a gift. Our partnership is so fun.

Work is meaningful. And it has such a profound impact on every area of my life.

My friends are amazing.

And these 3 things fundamentally give me a good life.

13. Babies are gray when they're born

It’s super weird. Didn’t know that before. Now I do.

14. The most important thing a parent can give a child is a powerful self-image

Mia Valentina Mark. Her name is designed with a lot of intent.Her name means “My Strength” / “My Love”.

It’s also designed with a very specific rhythm. Say the following two sentences out loud:

Twinkle twinkle little star. Mia Valentina Mark.

You’ll notice that they share a rhythm. It’s called common meter. This is one of most natural rhythms that exists for humans. We love it.

Her name is also easy to pronounce. This triggers something called availability bias. Easy to say. Easy to remember.

Because it’s easy to recall, people will like it. And because it feels good to say her name, people will naturally treat her better.

All of this ties together to give her a powerful self-image.

Michael Mark. This name has set me up for a good life from day 1.

And it’s my goal to give her that same self-confidence.

15. There is a big difference between being an entrepreneur and a business owner

Have noticed a lot of entrepreneurs see themselves and their business as one entity. Their money is the business’ money.

And that’s simply not the case. It leads to all kinds of issues when trying to scale.

So it’s important to separate ourselves from the business. The business is its own entity.

When you start treating it that way, you’re well on your way towards transitioning from “entrepreneur” to “business owner.”

16. Seek the slight edge

I’m pretty fucking good at systems and delegation. It’s what has allowed us to scale so fast and deliver such consistent results.

But I knew there was still people who were slightly better than me. So I paid them and learned their thought processes.

And that tiny adjustment has radically transformed our product delivery. Like 2 tiny ideas. That produced HUGE RESULTS.

That taught me to never stop hunting for that slight edge.

17. Actively pursue information that contradicts your beliefs

It’s interesting to see what’s happened with the virus.

Social media is basically an echo chamber that builds massive amounts of confirmation bias.

Seek really smart people that disagree with you. Be curious.

Ask them why they think what they think. Dissect their beliefs.

18. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast

So many entrepreneurs say axioms like “Move fast and break things”.

It sounds good. But that shit creates chaos. And chaos don’t scale.

Speed is important. And speed often comes from being slow, methodical, and consistent.

That starts to compound. And the compounding creates the escape velocity.

19. It's OK to drip feed your vision to your team & market

Over the past year, not sharing my entire vision has been massively beneficial.

It’s not because I want to be secretive or keep a trick up my sleeve. It’s because I need to give people enough that they will believe.

Then once they see that vision become real, they start to believe bigger and bigger visions.

When I was younger, I used to share my crazy visions with everyone. And that didn’t do much good for anyone. Nobody wanted to follow me because I was too “out there”.

And they’re not wrong, lol. I’m super OUT THERE. But now our team sees things become real, they start to believe more and more.

20. Books are the cheat code to life

Mia started sleeping through the night at 2 months. All because I went to an event.

And at that event a guy shared a book with me. I bought it on the spot.

Adriana and I listened to it together. We implemented it. And bam! She’s sleeping and we’re well rested and happy.

A book is a miracle. You get to think someone else’s thoughts.

And as long as you seek out information from highly qualified sources, you can grow so much faster.

21. Specialization can be dangerous

My uncle passed away this month.

He went to a heart specialist who moved to operate. The heart specialist wasn’t aware of kidney and liver issues.

As they prepared him for surgery, complications ensued and he didn’t make it.

Interestingly I see the same thing a lot with business.

People go to a specialist who makes a recommendation. But they don’t understand how it impacts this system in its entirety. And this causes massive issues.

Specialists are still necessary. But they should be counterbalanced with generalists who can tie it all together.

22. Clear and consistent communication is abnormal

Seeing lots of business owners grow teams…

It blows me away how inconsistent and unclear people communicate.

When we get a good operator for a client, it’s a joy. And it almost always tracks back to clear and consistent communication.

23. Devote consistent time and energy to prioritization and resource allocation

A good chunk of my time each week goes towards prioritizing projects and allocating resources.

I invest a lot of energy into weighing the pros and cons of each decision.

This has produced insane results. And it allows our team to move really fast while being methodical and precise.

24. Make provisions for difficult times

While corona chaos broke out, I felt weirdly at ease because I knew I had months of provisions set aside.

Before I used to drive on E all the time. But having that extra fuel really makes a difference.

Your future self with thank you for being prepared when the time comes.

25. The constitution of your foundation determines the heights you'll reach

So many people want to scale fast. But they didn’t spend the time digging a deep and broad foundation.

If you want to take it to crazy heights, it’s important to make sure you really prepare the foundation. Otherwise, you’ll never achieve your full potential.

It’s not sexy. But dig the foundation first.

26. Momentum creates a gravitational pull

It’s become clear that we’re the market leader for our product category. And the rapid growth has this bizarre gravitational pull.

We pull insane talent, resources, and partners into our orbit as a result. It’s been really awesome to experience firsthand.

So two things…

First, you’ll know you’re in momentum when you feel the influx of opportunities.

Second, be selective when tapping into these opportunities. They aren’t all created equal.

27. Knock offs are a good thing

Lots of people have tried to copy what we do. And it’s always frustrating at first.

Then I remember it would be a lot more upsetting if there were no knock offs.

Besides, they can’t quite duplicate the secret sauce. So it hasn’t proven to be an issue.

28. I make cute babies

I mean… just look at Mia 👇

Mike Mike Adriana and Mia Valentina

29. Authority is created by saying “No”

Authority and its relationship to influence is something I think about a lot.

And interestingly, most of us have in our mind an image of authority giving us a direct command.

Do this. Do that. And then obedience follows.

But what I’ve found is that authority is established more so on where we say no.

“I’m not gonna do this. I’m not gonna do that.”

When I draw the boundary of what I’m NOT willing to do… that’s when the most amount of authority is established.

And direct commands often have a counterproductive effect on building and maintaining influence.

30. Clarity and precise thinking create leverage

As I’ve spent more time getting my thinking clearer and more precise…

I notice that my forecasts and predictions have become more accurate.

That gives this ripple effect of leverage. It affects every part of the business and my life.

Finding the assumptions and generalities isn’t always easy because they hide right under my nose.

But the lightbulb moment that happens when I do… Ohhh it makes the process of getting more and more accurate an addictive one.

Over to you

Hope you find at least one of these insights valuable and relevant to you.

If you do, let me know in the comments.

And after that…

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1 comment… add one
  • CM Nov 10, 2020 @ 21:14

    “20. Books are the cheat code to life”
    Totally agree. The insights can inspire so many “ah ha” moments in a short time.
    Ties in well with #17. Actively pursue information that contradicts your beliefs.
    How do you determine “highly qualified sources” if you are studying a new field? My best solution has been taking overarching patterns from multiple sources and fumbling around for weeks/months until I become accustomed enough to the info and have enough of a spiderweb effect from other fields that I can slowly indoctrinate more content from new sources and begin weeding out the good from the bad, the real from the BS, the gold from the dirt.
    The only shortcut would be a referral and heavy faith in the referral… But you miss out on deeply understanding the foundational info with this method and are kinda blindly trusting.
    Any thoughts? Does it just take time and fumbling? Or eventually the spider web effect carries you heavily in semi-related skills?

    And the real important question as a new dad: What was the baby sleep book?!

    Cheers man, appreciate the content.

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