Experiments

3 Fast Ways to Grow Your Lean Startup with Eric Ries

 
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Total Reading Time: 4 minutes.
I want to go through three ways to grow your startup. I was first introduced to this idea in the book The Lean Startup by Eric Ries.
Now this isn’t something completely revolutionary, but it’s a fundamental and essential strategy all entrepreneurs, solopreneurs and anyone in business definitely needs to be reminded of.
 

1. Grow by Selling to Current Customers

The first method that The Lean Startup talks about is known as the sticky engine. The sticky engine is when you take the existing customers that you already have and sell them more. You increase the lifetime value of each individual customer.
The reason I really like the sticky engine is that most people overlook this stage. Most people just think about new ways to attract new customers, but they don’t take care of the customers that they already have.
This is a really easy way to drive more dollars to the bottom line and grow your startup. You can do this by introducing a new feature, by bringing in a new product to sell to the existing customers, or even taking them up the ladder.
You know you have a core offering by upselling them into a higher level luxury level offer because there’s a lot of money sitting on the table often times.
 

2. Grow Your Startup Organically

Secondly, is the viral engine. The viral engine is really interesting because it’s basically organic. It falls under the umbrella of content marketing.
It involves taking the people that you already have and making them brand ambassadors. It’s making them share your stuff, your content your videos, your products, your software, or your services out in the world for you for free.
You do this by incentivizing them, but you mainly do it by making them super happy so you can combine the sticky engine with the viral engine. At the end of the day, if your customers are happy, they’re going to spread the word for you. Below are examples from Headway Capital to make your customers happy:

 
All you have to do is give them an incentive and then it takes off like wildfire.
Now the problem with this engine is that you can’t really build a thriving business off of just this alone. You’ll need a more reliable method where you control the knobs and levers. And that is the paid engine.
 

3. Grow Your Startup with Paid Advertisement

When you really crack the code to the paid engine, you have a real business. Often times we wait years to really crack the code to the paid engine, which is essentially paid advertising to drive new customers to come in. It can take a bit of engineering to crack the code.
You need to spend less (expenses) than what you’re making (revenues) to be profitable, right?
If you can make more money per customer than you spend to acquire that customer, you have a business. You’ve cracked the code. The more you can spend and outspend all of your competitors on marketing and on paid advertising, the more your company can grow.
This is a bit counterintuitive, but it’s actually brilliant because your goal should be to spend as much money as possible to acquire customers.
That means that your revenues are going to continually scale and increase over time.
 

Conclusion

It’s a very simple formula, but it’s hard to crack. And once you crack it, you have yourself a thriving business. So, in my opinion, focus first on identifying if you can actually apply a paid advertising formula to your business.
Then as a bonus, add in the content marketing — that viral engine. And of course, the low hanging fruit, the thing that you should focus on more than anything is the customers you already have.
Make those people happy. Turn them into raving fans. Make them brand ambassadors. There’s no way your startup will not succeed over time if you can nail all three of these engines.
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Photo credit: Grow — CC license

How to Stop Competing and Get Your Dream Job Today

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Total Reading Time: 4 minutes

The Question We All Ask

One of the questions we all often ask ourselves is, “What can I do to ensure I get my dream job?” And this applies to everybody, not just people that work in the corporate world, but even in the world of solopreneurship as well.
There is this idea that if you really want to be successful in your chosen field, you have to go and find the model. You have to emulate success.
One of the easiest and fastest ways to do that is to go and literally work for that person. The person that is doing exactly what you want to be doing five to ten years from now.
The goal is to apply this, but it’s also meant for someone who really wants to go get that dream job. Say they want to be a social media manager at Snapchat, or want to get that job at Facebook or Google.
 

Here’s What You Can Do

If you really want to go get your dream job, you have to do the work right now. You have to do the work upfront.
I want to give credit to Charlie Hoehn here for creating a strategy that has really worked for a lot of people. Charlie talks about this idea of literally doing the work for free for the company or person.
Let’s really think about this for a second…what does any company ultimately want? They want to make sure that the person coming into their company can actually do the work, right?
They’re not looking for a fancy resume. They’re not looking for a list of trophies and worthless accomplishments. They simply want to know that when you start that next day you can actually do the work. And if you can, can you actually produce results?
So the shortcut — or rather the hack — is to do the work up front.
 

Step-By-Step Process

Let’s say you were trying to get a sales job or a project management job at Facebook. If you can sit down and identify what it is that the project manager does on a daily basis for that role, simplu go ahead and do some of the work for them upfront and send it to them.
During your interview process, say:

“Hey John, you know I’m really excited about this role and actually went ahead and identified ten prospects that we can reach out to. I didn’t want to do anything further than that of course, but I’ve identified these ten prospects and laid out what would happen if we got a 20% conversion rate on these new prospects. As a project manager, I would make sure that the legal team would sign off on this and then I would make sure to delegate this over to the engineers…”

blah blah blah…
And then:

“Here you go. Here’s the plan. I did the work for you (without actually doing it because I didn’t want to actually do anything on behalf of the company before being hired).”

We show them that we can do it. We either hand it over to them or we can say:

“Do you mind if I actually work for you with no pay for two weeks and show you that I can do this job?”

There are very few people and very few companies that would say no to free work, and once you’re in there you just literally circumvented the entire interview process. There was a line of people waiting to interview and by offering the free work you were able to go around the whole system.
Once they see you can do it, what reason do they have to say no? You just eliminated all of the pain and struggle when it comes to hiring.
That’s exactly what they’re looking for anyway. So if you want your dream job, do the work.
Definitely check out the work of Charlie Hoehn. Make sure you follow his principles because he’s brilliant at breaking this down.
 

Resources

  1. Charlie Hoehn– Charlie is an American author, entrepreneur, and public speaker. His books, Play It Away and Recession-Proof Graduate, offer simple solutions that help people get on with their lives
  2. Dream Job Blueprint by Ramit Sethi – An in-depth resource full of useful tacticts. Also debunks a lot of conventional job search advice.

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Photo credit: Perzonseo Webbyra — CC license

5 Real-World Steps for Networking with Celebrities and World-Class Humans

 
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Total Reading Time:  5 minutes.
If you retrace the steps that led to success for the most popular, famous leaders that we know today, you’ll often find that it was a single relationship that catapulted them to success.
Here’s Uber in their early stages:


And we all know the value of relationships. We all know that your network is your net worth. That you’re the average of the five people you associate the most with.
That’s not what this is about.
What I want to do is give you the five steps for becoming friends with celebrities or world-class people. I’m talking about celebrities and people that are generally unreachable for the average person such as people that we know who already have their tight-knit group of friends.
A lot of people have been asking me this lately. “How have you been doing that? How have you been connecting with a lot of incredibly talented, successful, world-class people?”
It really comes down to five steps, so let’s just jump right into it.
 

Step 1: Trust Your Intuition

The first thing you have to do is trust your intuition. What I mean by that is that you have to feel a genuine connection with that person. You have to feel that not only you can be truly friends with them, but there has to be something deeper there.
It cannot be only for your own good because people smell that BS and they know that you’re selfishly just trying to become friends with them for your own purpose, for your own benefit. That is a huge turnoff.
So you have to feel an intuitive kind of attachment to that person, a sense that you have to be friends with this person. A sense that your models of the world match. That’s step one.
 

Step 2: Mutual Benefit

Step two is that you have to find a unique way to add value and help them. You have to make their life better, easier, whatever the case may be.
So if you already understand their model of the world, then reverse engineer and ask,
“What is one of the biggest pains and needs in this person’s life? What could they really use help with right now? Do they need to get their website redesigned? Do they need connection? Do they need to reach more people? Do they need a good lawyer?”
It really doesn’t matter, but that’s where you have to actually identify how can I add the most value to their lives. And truly, you may not get it right the first time, but once you start having a conversation with them you can identify what those pain points are in their life.
 

Step 3: Take Action — Do It!

Number three is that you have to actually do it. You have to take some freaking action and do it and add value to their lives and really do it, even when it’s difficult, even if it’s something that you normally charge a lot of money for.
I’ll give you an example. The way I elevated my consulting from working with average small businesses to working with world-class people was by doing free work for the world class people (read Charlie Hoehn’s book on this).
I don’t want to use any specific examples, but one I’ll give you is Lewis Howes. He’s a New York Times bestselling author, and now also a friend of mine.
When I met Lewis I offered to help him for free. I said I’ll look over his product launch and basically help him with copywriting and give him free strategy advice. I did it because I want to help him, and I really did.
I spent about 20 hours of my time, which is hundreds of dollars an hour that I sacrificed in order to help Lewis because I felt a connection with him. He’s like a brother to me. I knew he was going to be a friend and I really truly wanted to help him. This is just one example.
Once you did that and they see the results, they’re going to want to either become your friend, or become your client, or want more from you. I did it as a favor for Lewis and that was one way that you are able to get in.
So you have to take action, even when it hurts, even when it’s difficult.
You have to actually do it.
And this is where most people fail. They’ll do step one and step two and then it comes time to actually help this person and really add value and they don’t do it. The reason you have to follow through and actually add value to their lives is because everyone wants to be friends with them. Everyone wants something from them. But if you’re the one that gives something to them, you stand out immediately.
It’s like getting a job, right? Do the work upfront. Show that you can already do the work and you’ll get the job. They won’t even interview anyone else. So that’s that.
 

Step 4: Dedication — Meet Them in Person

Step 4 is you have to meet up with them in person. You have to do whatever it takes to get some face-to-face time. Show you’re a human being. Show who you really are on a friendship level.
That’s as simple as it gets. I don’t care what it takes — if you have to use points for flights, if you have to stay at your mom’s friend’s house. Do it. Get to their city. Meet where they are. Go where they’re going and meet in person and offer to take them out to dinner.
If dinner doesn’t work offer breakfast. If breakfast doesn’t work offer a coffee. Just meet up, even if it is only 10-15 minutes. This also happened to me before so it’s worth it. Take it, trust me.
 

Step 5: Be a Friend

Don’t forget that this isn’t about business, even if your ultimate intention is a partnership of some sort. Remember that if you focus on the business, you won’t show up and talk to them like a real friend. So don’t talk about like there’s some sort of celebrity or they’re above you and you’re intimidated.
Remember, you went into this for friendship. Show up and talk to them how you talk to an old friend. That’s what they want too. That’s all they want.
 

Conclusion

That’s it. Those are the five steps. Now go experiment and try them out in the real world. These things take time and need to be organic, but a single relationship can be life-changing.
Once you begin to experiment with this and shift your mindset toward actually helping others rather than wanting something from them, you will begin to see results. People will naturally want to be around you.
As always, let us know how it goes and what new friendships come into your life as a result of these five steps.
 
Photo credit: FriendsCC license

Dale Carnegie on How to Stop Worrying and Start Living in 5 Minutes

 
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Total Reading Time:  5 minutes.
This is a quote by the great author Dale Carnegie, and the quote itself is from the book How To Stop Worrying and Start Living.
I want to share the key lessons that I took out of this read. First of all, I think that the concept of worry is absolutely fascinating. I have another video on how to reduce your stress and stop being so busy. However, what Dale Carnegie talks about in this book in general is that stress, worry, anxiety are actual killers.
It had been proven, and this was written in the 1930s, that there was scientific evidence linking stress and worry to early death, to disease, to illness. Even the word dis-ease tells you all you need to know.
You’re not at ease.
There’s a certain anxiety and worry within that person.
 

Here’s the Deal:

I’ve never really been one to want to read a book like this, that is until I started working for myself and going into this path of a self-directed life. When I was at Google and had a corporate job with a guaranteed income, there was really nothing to worry about.
I wasn’t really challenging myself in that way. A lot of people out there begin to feel worry for different reasons. My reason for feeling worry was uncertainty. I found myself worrying about things that were not happening right now, that were not at all relevant in the present moment. In his book, he basically talks about how to remedy that. The first thing that he talks about is:

Tweet: The worried person must lose himself in action.

What does that mean?
If you are busy and constantly doing something, you actually cannot worry. Those two things cannot live together. If you’re busy, you don’t have the time to worry.
As he says in the book, the cheapest medicine in all of the world is to get busy.
It sounds very basic. It sounds very pragmatic, but I absolutely found that the only times I was worried was when I was sitting around in my head wondering.
This is especially for you introverted types out there. Or anybody that really spends any time at all in their mind thinking, planning for the future, or futuristic types.
You’re generally going to create these illusions of the future for yourself that cause worry, because we begin to play out the scenario as if it’s already here, right?
This is also what Eckhart Tolle talks about in The Power of Now. You begin to play into this illusion of what doesn’t exist. It’s in the future, it’s not here yet, so what is the point of that? Why not live in the present?
 

What If You Can’t Help But Worry?

The second big key that I took out of Carnegie’s book is: how do you actually cope in the moments when you do begin to worry?
Okay sure you need to stay busy, that’s fine, and lose yourself in action.
What about when I just can’t help it?
What about when I start to think about the future?
There’s a very simple remedy for that, too. He talks about compartmentalizing your day. Essentially, what that means is everything that you’re working on in that day, and everything you’re spending your time thinking about needs to be compartmentalized into one single day.
If you’re working on a project and you’re thinking about something that’s going to happen next week, or next year, or a goal you have for yourself, you have to force yourself to zoom back in and focus on a more granular, micro-level.
That day only.
 

How Can You Actually Use This?

You might say to me, “Well, Arman, I have a job interview next week that I need to be thinking about.”
Well, sure. You do need to be thinking about it, but what you should do is schedule time to think about it.
Schedule time to prepare for it. Schedule time to review your notes. Schedule time to study the company. But you should schedule that.
You need to say, “Oh, that’s something I’ve been thinking about. I just need to take that, decide when the action needs to happen, how much time I need to prepare for that meeting,” or whatever that event might be in the future, and say, “All right, the meeting’s on Thursday I’m going to prepare on Wednesday night, Tuesday night, and Monday night prior.”
You put that in your calendar. And when you get there that’s when you start actually thinking about that idea. You know it’s scheduled and it’s that day.
That’s how you compartmentalize your day.
I’m bringing this up because I know so many people from all walks of life worry, especially my solopreneur and entrepreneurs friends out there.
It’s very natural. I was able to experiment with these couple things. Even if you just take these two things you’ll get great results out of it.
 

Summary

Remember…lose yourself in action.
Stay busy, do the work, and don’t start worrying about the possible scenarios. Just do what you need to do. Stay busy. Don’t lie around wondering or daydreaming about these different possibilities that lead to worry.
Secondary, compartmentalize everything you’re doing into that day. If you’re thinking about something next week or next year, that’s probably going to lead to anxiety.
That’s it. Enjoy the process and let me know what you think.
 
Photo credit: Live LifeCC license

3 Magic Self-Awareness Questions You Need to Ask Yourself Now

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Total Reading Time:  5 minutes.
I want to discuss this idea of emotional intelligence. This idea of increasing your self-knowledge and your self-awareness. At this stage we all know the importance of emotional intelligence.
In fact, we know now based on the science of it that your IQ is pretty much fixed. By the time you’re done being an adolescent, that IQ that you have is mostly permanent. What we do know though is that your emotional intelligence (EQ) is malleable.
 

 
It can change, it can grow, it can increase, whereas your IQ is quite fixed.
[Edit: The fact is, everyone is becoming “more intelligent” over the course of their lifetime, but the IQ scale keeps everyone in the same context.]
 

Why Does This Matter?

What researchers in this area of emotional intelligence have found is that your mindset, your level of emotional intelligence is more likely to predict your success than your IQ. You can have an extremely high IQ but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee success.
By success they look at things like the amount of money that you make, the relationships that you have, your overall level of fulfillment and happiness, so on and so forth. Everybody measures success differently, that’s fine.
What we do know is that when you open that door to increasing your self-knowledge, it’s actually quite fascinating.
One of the things I’ve studied and worked on is Carl Jung the Swiss psychiatrist, his original theories around your cognitive functions. He broke out the personality into these sixteen different types (more on each type here).
 

 
It was actually quite brilliant because he nailed it better than anybody ever had before and he spent a tremendous amount of time musing on these various ideas of your cognitive functions and the order in which they are.
That might be way further than you care to go but what’s important is that there are a series of questions you can ask people to just even begin to increase your self-knowledge. By doing so you can be more successful, you can be more fulfilled, you can know your unique advantage.
With just the first question alone you could see a radical change in the way you approach your career and the way you approach everything you do in your work because it will help you identify your unique abilities, your unique advantage.
 

Mastering a Skill

The way you go about doing this is you want to identify seven different people of varying distances to you. It might be your coworker, your family member, brother or sister, husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, friend of a friend, maybe someone you don’t know that well. Seven different people.
I challenge you to do this exercise by the way, and you’ll see the power of it. Even if you only ask three people these three questions you’ll see the power of it. Find different types of people, not just people you’re super comfortable with, but people you think you could really learn from.
Question number one is:

What is something that I do better than most people?

Why is this important? By getting the answer to this question you’re going to be able to begin to identify your unique ability, your unique genius, and your talent. Something that you do better than most people means you’re above average in this area and most likely you’re either not aware of it, or if you are not appreciating the power you have with that ability.
If you were to just double down and invest even more into mastering that skill, you would become unstoppable at that one thing and all it takes in life is being really good at one thing to get everything that you want.
That’s the path to mastery.
That’s the path to what Alan Watts talks about when he said, “What would you do if money were no object?”
You have to identify that unique ability. People constantly are asking me or telling me things like, “I don’t know what I’m into. I don’t know what my passion is. I don’t know what I’m even good at.”
This question is going to help you get there. That’s question number one.
 

Good/Bad Habits

Question number two:

What is a habit that I may not be aware of?

This is a fun one. If you notice with people, if you ever notice that somebody is doing something and you really want to tell them and you wonder to yourself like, “Are they even aware of this?”
Generally this happens with things that are annoying and that we don’t like about somebody and we wish we could tell them. Chances are, the person that is most aware of that habit is themselves.
If we were to tell that person what to do, it almost never matters to them. It almost never clicks. They almost never make a change. We ourselves have to want to make a change, right?
First step is admitting there’s a problem. Even more so the first step is identifying the problem. We need to identify that problem by asking people around us, “What is a habit I may not be aware of?”
And you’re probably aware of it and you’re going to hear it. Such as you biting your nails or you’re always late or you talk over people or whatever it may be. It doesn’t have to be negative. It might be a positive thing. It might be a positive habit, but by being aware of it we can either decide, this is useful or I’m going to get rid of this habit. And that’s a beautiful thing to begin to increase your self-knowledge.
 

Personal Brand

Finally, question number three that you need to ask at least three people, if not seven people on this challenge, and I challenge you to do this.
Question number three is:

How would you describe me to a friend of yours?

This is actually a really fun one because we don’t generally have conversations like this with people, at least most people don’t. You’re going to hear some things about yourself that I think you’re really going to appreciate and like. That person is going to open up to you and tell you things about yourself that will be great to hear.
You’ll begin to identify more of the things that make you special and unique, and begin to really understand how you’re branded. This is the key, especially for entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, people with their own companies, executives, CEOs.
The way people describe you or your brand or your company is critical because if we don’t learn to describe ourselves and brand ourselves, someone is going to do it for you. People are going to do it for you. That’s why this is also really critical.
As an individual it gives you insight into who you really are.
That is all. Those are the three questions. Make sure you do this challenge, and let me know how it goes because I guarantee you if you just ask these questions and you open yourself up to people, and you allow yourself to receive this information, you will be opening a door that is absolutely awesome into increasing your self-knowledge. There is a whole host of benefits to that.
Enjoy.
 
Photo credit: young man with a bookCC license

REEP Challenge: How to Gamify the Art of Living

Total Reading Time: 14 minutes.

I’m not going to lie to you. I’ve struggled a lot with working while traveling. Over the years I have devoured a tremendous amount of education on productivity and effectiveness and experimented with many of these various solutions.

There’s always that moment in the taxi or Uber/Lyft where the drivers asks…

“So are you traveling for business or pleasure?”

“Umm…well, you know. It’s always kinda a bit of both!”

The idealistic world of blending business and pleasure is 100% possible. I’ve done it on many occasions. Nevertheless, this blending can be the cause of much frustration, FOMO, and angst.

So how does one flow through life? How do we value presence over productivity (as the amazing Maria Popova beautifully describes) rather than hustling until our limbs fall off? How do we accomplish big goals and leave a lasting contribution for humanity, while still cultivating a sense of awe (as my friend Jason Silva masterfully captures in his videos), gratitude, and “living in a beautiful state” as Tony Robbins describes?

The art of living - flowing through life.
Flowing through life. (Image: Amsterdamized)

Years ago, a friend sent me a quote saying that it would resonate strongly since this is what I also try to embody in my life:

The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he’s always doing both. – James Michener

It’s a beautiful description of a sometimes elusive space many of us want to live in…

Now let me be clear — it is much easier to live in this space when we’re settled into routine. But avoiding routine is often why we chose this lifestyle in the first place. You’re likely an adventurous “wonder junkie” like me and seek awe-inspiring moments in your own unique way.

When it becomes difficult to cultivate this is while we travel. We’re pulled completely out of the ordinary and our senses are electrified. We’re kids in a candy store with insatiable hunger and this conflicts with our need to be responsible about certain things, mainly around work and making money.

Some solve this by achieving financial freedom through modeling the wealthy, but most of us aren’t there yet. In order to feel good while we travel we need to check off a few boxes each day. If we do this we can live in that elusive space. Growing up, my father, my first and favorite teacher, would always tell me…

“Arman, you’ll regret playing now if you haven’t done your homework yet. You’ll spend your whole time playing worrying about what you need to do. If you just spend 30 minutes now doing your work you can be completely free and present while you play.”

I think perhaps a similar philosophy needs to be implemented in adulthood. So how do we maintain the same level of effectiveness in our work while traveling?

My refusal to give up on a sustainable solution landed me on a method that could work for just about anyone, even me, the “I need to maximize this experience and still get all my work done” person. The solution is the REEP challenge.

Types of Self-Directed People: Solopreneurs, Entrepreneurs, and More

Before I dig into the REEP challenge, let’s speak to the different types of self-directed people this applies to and could be helpful for…

The Vacationer

This is everyday Josephine. She has a more traditional career and doesn’t necessarily want to have a full workday while she travels. Things like exercise, maintaining diet/nutrition, and working on personal projects are still important to her.

This could also be everyday Jeffrey. He’s an entrepreneur and business owner but more of a traditionalist when it comes to travel, in that it’s meant to be a vacation. Perhaps he’s traveling with his family, or he intends to use the trip as an opportunity to completely disconnect, rest, and rejuvenate. Health, fitness, and personal growth are still important to him.

The Full-time Digital Nomad

These are your modern day full-time vagabonds. Digital nomads often station themselves into a new city for weeks, months, even years. As travel lovers, a digital nomad will still feel the urge to experience the new culture and will struggle with who to balance work and play. Our game below will help them stay focused and create a daily ritual that rewards both.

These are people like Natalie Sisson, who run successful online businesses and call themselves Suitcase Entrepreneurs. Natalie clearly has an insatiable thirst for travel, and having to run a six-figure plus business as she does this is no easy task.

Dan Andrews and Ian Schoen of TropicalMBA are pioneers of the digital nomad world, and have gathered a large community in Southeast Asia. After personally having spent 97 days traveling throughout the region, I know how great the lifestyle can be. This means distractions, and the REEP challenge will help remedy that.

Colin Wright, a writer and entrepreneur who moves to a new city for three months at a time, is famous for traveling light. Colin has in a way gamified his travels by involving his community of readers to vote on his next destination.

The Location-Independent Solopreneur

Our next travel lover may have a home base, but they often pack up and move to new destinations at a moment’s notice. This solopreneur prides themselves on being an independent minimalist.

Minimalism is not a lack of something. It’s simply the perfect amount of something. — Nicholas Burroughs

Sean Ogle spent the first six months of his entrepreneurial career living abroad in Thailand and Vietnam. After years of living a conventional disillusioned lifestyle, he was fired from his job (that he hated), and made the move. Today, Sean is married and loves his homebase in Portland, Oregon, but he continues to travel at a moment’s notice and truly embodies a location-independent lifestyle.  

Josh and Jill Stanton from Screw the 9 to 5 wanted to test out what it would be like to build a business together. They started a small affiliate website working endless caffeinated nights and eventually built up their business to making over $10,000 a month…how cool is that?

The Solopreneur Consumed by Wanderlust

Many solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, and even freelancers enjoy having a home base. Yet, they’re often consumed by wanderlust and crave the adventure of life on the road.

A famous example of this is NYT #1 bestselling author and entrepreneur Chris Guillebeau. Chris went on a quest to travel to every country in the world by the age of 35 — and he did it. Oh, then he wrote a book about it

Another example is…me! Yes, yours truly, Arman Assadi. One of my core motivations for living a self-directed life is a strong desire to see the world and experience every culture. To me, it’s education that keeps my mind nimble and aware of cognitive biases. But I live in San Francisco and am lucky enough to have a modern apartment I don’t want to give up.

No matter how much I travel, I love the feeling of coming home to my “old familiar pillow”.

No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow. – Lin Yutang

The Traveling Entrepreneur or Businessperson

Pat Flynn runs his online business built around passive income, which allows him to spend more time with his family. Between traveling around to different cities to speak at conferences and running a major brand, productivity on the go is essential. His business enables him to plan his day around his life and family, not around his business.

Chris Ducker began blogging in 2010 to document his journey of becoming a Virtual CEO. Not only did he achieve that goal, he launched another business in the midst of it all called Virtual Staff Finder, which I’ve used multiple times to hire virtual assistants. He then wrote a bestselling book called Virtual Freedom (4.9 stars on Amazon!), and continues to run multiple business, speak around the world, travel to conferences, and maintain a life at home with his family.

Gary Vaynerchuck, the author of multiple NYT bestselling books and host of the #AskGaryVee Show,  is best known for loving the hustle. When it comes to keeping up rituals and staying productive while traveling, Gary is someone to watch. Rather than allow the environment to take control, Gary is proactive rather than reactive and utilizes a lot of the principles you’ll learn about below.

The Lifestyle Entrepreneur

Lewis Howes is a rock star lifestyle entrepreneur. As a New York Times bestselling author and host of The School of Greatness, Lewis spends much of his time building his brand and inspiring people to achieve greatness around the world. At the same time, Lewis also greatly values his freedom and ability to travel as a lifestyle entrepreneur.

I’ve spoken to Lewis about this before and it’s clear he values his home base in Los Angeles, but he also loves the flexibility to travel at any time. If you watch Lewis on his Snapchat (username: Lewis_Howes), you’ll see exactly how he does it. One example — no matter what, he makes sure to get some form of exercise (one of the keys points in REEP) in each day, regardless of where he is in the world. Lewis plays the same game below, he’s just set up his own incentives and rules for it.

The REEP Challenge

The solution is this: we turn the entire event into a game.

Sometimes turning difficult tasks or the formation of building new habits and rituals into games can be very effective. And in this case, I’ve found the game that I’ve developed below — inspired by The Grand Travel Experiment from ZenHabits’s Leo Babauta — highly effective.

The four areas our game focuses on are:

  1. Rituals – morning routine
  2. Eating – nutrition
  3. Exercise – health
  4. Performance – business

On Rituals

When traveling, it’s incredibly easy (and painful) to forget your morning ritual. For each of us, this is the one thing or series of activities we do each morning that puts us in a good mood/state and prepares us to rock the day. Carefully crafting your ritual is an important and fun activity I discuss in detail here.

On Eating

It’s natural to want to consume the local food, but this often leads to daily cheat meals that you legitimize with self-told lies, “this is the only time I’ll ever get to try pizza in Napoli!”.

Maybe partly true, but problematic. Bad nutrition puts your body in an instant coma, and often leads to digestion issues, which means no work for you. It’s also a lot easier to get sick and your energy levels will decrease. This is the last thing you want when you’re traveling.

On Exercise

Back home you might have a regular gym you visit, or perhaps you regularly play a sport or do things like Soul Cycle and Crossfit. When you’re traveling or living abroad, it’s hard to keep up any exercise routine. But getting the blood flowing is imperative, and one way or another it’s possible if you make it a priority.

The REEP challenge will help. If you’re feeling down, sluggish, and low on energy — you can often trace it back to a lack of exercise or proper nutrition. A University of Georgia study proves thisBuzzfeed compiled a list of exercises that you can perform pretty much anywhere. 

Think of these first three areas as the foundation to your productivity while traveling.

Tip from Arman: Use this travel opportunity to learn more about the culture you’re in by investigating how people exercise there and do it with them. For example, you can join a Muay Thai in Thailand and get the workout of your life. Plus you’ll get really good at kicking people in the face, which you’ll hopefully never need to do. My friend Nick took a trip to Thailand for a month just to experience this. 

On Performance

Our goal here is balance. We want to have fun, experience life, see attractions, and create new memories. We do this by being very strict with our work schedule.

Your normal workday is 8–10 hours back home. You’re likely working on high value tasks less than 50% of the time. This is where constraints come in, which help you focus on the most important tasks only.

Constraints work very well for any type of work, especially that of a creative nature. Writers like James Clear often use constraints to create the work rather than wait for it. James is someone who understands that creativity isn’t happenstance inspiration, it requires diligence and the use of intentional constraints. 

If you have a home base, you likely also have a dedicated workstation setup, and if you’re like me you even have a standing desk and large monitor you’ve gotten used to. None of this is possible when traveling, so it’s important to dedicate time and simply do the work, as one of my favorite authors Stephen Pressfield talks about in his book

REEP Details & Rules of the Game

  1. Perform your morning/daily rituals, eat healthy nutritious food that gives you energy, exercise, and do the most important tasks in your work every day.
  2. For each category you’ll receive a certain amount of points each day — I’ve broken down the point structure below
  3. Track your actions either as you go or review your day before bed during your evening ritual
  4. To score big points perform the top action in each category, e.g., complete your entire morning ritual rather than just one piece of it
  5. Add up your points each day and measure your progress
  6. Celebrate the fact that you played the game and remember that progress equals happiness

What gets measured improves. Tracking these actions and playing the game is not only fun and addictive, but it’s what will lead to improved habits and results and the impact of that will be seen across all the areas of your life.

Rituals Actions

  • 5 points for completing your entire morning or daily ritual.
  • 3 points for completing the most important aspect of your daily rituals, e.g., meditation.
  • 0 points for not completing.

Eating Actions

  • 5 points for eating a healthy meal according to your nutrition standards and stopping when satisfied, not full.
  • 3 points for eating a healthy meal, but overeating.
  • 2 points for eating a cheat meal and stopping when satisfied.
  • 0 points for a cheat meal and overeating.

Note: Maximum of 15 total points from this category, based on a maximum of 3 counted meals per day.

Exercise Actions

  • 5 points for completing your chosen workout, e.g., push-ups and yoga, jump rope and a jog, sit-ups and air squats, etc. Keep it simple.
  • 2 points for staying active throughout the day, e.g. walk everywhere within a 30 minute radius, run up/down stairs (always choose the stairs over elevator), play with your kids, chase a dog, etc.
  • 0 points for no exercise

Performance Actions

  • 5 points for working 3 or more hours at 75%+ productivity — this means you focused at least 80% of your time on actual work (you can measure this with a free desktop app called RescueTime)
  • 3 points for working 3 or more hours
  • 2 points for working 2 or more hours
  • 2 points (bonus) for completing your highest value task 
  • 0 points for working less than 2 hours or not working

Note: Yes, the 2 bonus points for completing your highest value task can be combined with other point categories within work for a maximum total of 7 points.

Daily Point Totals

28+ – Preeminent Traveling Rock Star
17+ – Elite Globetrotter
5+ – Average Vagabond Hobby Artist
0–5 – A Tourist on Vacation

Conclusion

Gamifying an experience like mastering the art of living is a fun way to improve our rituals. If we are what we repeatedly do as Aristotle said, should we not focus the majority of our time and attention on mastering these habits? Instead of allowing our environment to dictate our lives and habits, we can proactively examine why we do what we do and implement better actions.

The REEP challenge is a fun and effective way for anyone who’s self-directing their life to get results starting today. Try the experiment out and measure your progress, and get ready to see tremendous growth and experience a sense of fulfillment. This idea is what gets me through my travels and I’ve even implemented a version of it in my daily life when at home.

I’ve shared this experiment with many of my successful entrepreneur friends, and they all love it. I believe this is because providing a structure and framework to our habits makes it easier for our minds to know exactly what we need to do each day to continue growing and making progress. If progress equal happiness people are going to experience a tangible uplift in their mood, not to mention their actual results and successes.

Note: If you really dig the experiment and find it useful, let me know. I’m considering expanding on the topic and creating additional tools and resources to make tracking and rewarding yourself easy.

Photo credit: Balancing actCC license