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You know what’s frustrating? Seeing someone make something hard look easy.
What’s worse is when you don’t know that it’s actually hard to do and you think that it should be easy. Then you just end up feeling bad about yourself for not being able to do it.
They make it look so effortless. Surely they’re not spending hundreds upon thousands upon tens of thousands of hours working at it.
But in fact, they are.
The easier they make it look, the harder they’re working. As you read this, no doubt those people are working on their craft.
I want to demystify the process for you. I’m going to take you behind the scenes and show you exactly what it takes and all that I’m doing to make everything happen. You’ll witness the things that aren’t normally visible to you.
I’m going to get real and I’m going to tell you how many hours I work a week (hint: it’s not a two-digit number). In this episode, I’m also going to be fully honest and tell you that I often forget to eat. Neither of these are things I’m proud of and neither are healthy. I’m not censoring any of this, I’m simply showing you the reality that is behind the curtain.
I’m not promising it’s going to be pretty (it never is behind the curtain). You’re getting a real look inside the well-oiled machine. I’m showing you because I want you to see that it’s not a machine at all.
- What all do you do?
- 02:29 Ben: “I guess the first question I want to ask is what is it that you do? What are all of the things? Just list them all out.”
- 02:45 Sean: Right now, Ben, it feels like my full-time job is writing show notes. It seems to be lately 3,000–4,000 words per episode, and that’s twice a week. On a day-to-day basis, it changes. Monday, I’m usually writing show notes for the last show and scheduling it to go out on Wednesday. Tuesday, I wake up early and prepare for the show that’s happening that day. Then we record it. I do a little bit of pre-editing before I send it to Aaron just to make sure that the sections of the show that I want are going to make it in and he edits that and gets it back to me.
- 03:40 It differs from day to day. Sometimes I’m preparing for shows, sometimes I’m writing show notes. Email is another one that takes a lot of time. Then there’s writing in general like blog posts, videos, writing for the book, responding to Community members…
- 04:00 Ben: “I guess an easier question would be what are you producing or publishing on a regular basis? I think the question is about wanting to produce as many things as you’re producing and not as much about what specifically you’re doing to produce those things.”
- 04:45 Sean: Good point. I’m also doing a weekly newsletter on top of those things and I also have a goal of eventually doing a daily video show.
- 04:56 Ben: “Did you say ‘Daily?'”
- 04:58 Sean: Daily, Ben. Right now, my goal has been one video a week. But it’s really hard to set up and produce it all myself, shoot it, edit it, record audio and video—it’s really time consuming to do the writing for it in addition to all of the other stuff. I haven’t been meeting that goal of doing one video a week, but I’m planning to hire a video guy. He won’t be quite full-time, but there will be work every single day for him—about three hours of work a day. Basically I’ll be able to prepare, he shows up, sets up, I deliver, he tears down, he edits, and then we’re good to go.
- 05:34 Ben: “Ok, you’re zooming in a bit too much. Let’s zoom back out and talk about the other stuff. So you’ve got the video that you’re wanting to do daily, you’ve got the newsletter that you send out once a week, the bi-weekly podcast…”
- 05:49 Sean: Yes, I’m also engaging with Community members, either in the chat or on the forums. There’s also emails—Ben, there’s just so many emails.
- My wife is quitting her job to work for me
- 06:02 Some people may not know, but my wife is quitting her job and working for me starting at the end of November. I very much need her help. I’m hoping to get her help on show notes. Show notes just take so much time. I spend so much time on them. Imagine writing about 8,000 words of just show notes every week. Forget writing for the book, preparing for podcasts, videos, and the newsletter—that’s just show notes.
- 06:42 Back on emails. There’s customer support—either for the Community, Learn Lettering, or physical products. There’s also requests for interviews and a lot of people asking for advice. Some people are asking about lettering and other people are asking about business, growing an audience, or making a living.
- 07:28 When someone signs up to my newsletter, they get an automatic response that tells them about the book I’m writing and how I’m giving it to you for free and will be sharing the process. I explain that I really want to make sure this book addresses you personally, so here’s your chance to influence the direction of the book as I write it. Tell me what you’re struggling with right now and also if there’s anything you want to make sure I address in the book.
- 07:57 I get at least a dozen responses to that a day. So in batches I will go through them and take note of topics. In addition to those, there are people that are trying to talk with me, have a meeting, have a call, have coffee, get my advice, help them solve a problem, and it’s a matter of selectively helping who I can. I also cherry-pick some of the questions that I feel it would be beneficial to a bunch of people and I write newsletters in response to those or do a podcast on the topics.
- 08:36 There’s a whole lot of email that takes a lot of personal attention, but plenty of them are Frequently Asked Questions. So where Laci comes in is she would be able to help me answer the FAQ type stuff. I’m not actually wanting to have her reply to people as me when it comes to personalized stuff, but if someone says “Hey, am I going to have access to my Learn Lettering videos forever or is it only for a limited amount of time?” we get that question a lot so that’s easy enough to reply with a canned response. But currently I’m having to respond to 50 emails a day on top of all this other stuff. I should probably take a breather.
- The things I do that are visible to everyone
- 09:25 Ben: “So you have a lot of stuff going on. I don’t know how many of those things, if all of them, are visible to this person who asked the question for this show.”
- 09:45 Sean: Can I talk about what’s probably visible? I think probably they’re getting the weekly newsletter, getting the two podcasts episodes, they’re also seeing me tweet regularly—either things I’m working on or quotable insights from my writing. In addition to that, I’m often doing sketch notes that are a visual breakdown in lettering or written form of the topics I regularly write on. I will intersperse those in my output. For instance:
- 10:40 Ben: “Yeah, so just what’s visible seems like a lot but certainly there’s even more that’s going on that’s not completely visible to the people who are experiencing all of these communications from you.”
- 11:01 Sean: I’ve got one more. We just finished the seanwes.com redesign. That was obviously a lot of work. Working with the developer, finding bugs, listing out the bugs to him, doing the actual design work, invoicing, and paying him. I’ve also been meeting my CPA lately to talk about going to an S-Corp because up until now seanwes has just been a sole proprietorship.
- The new Community chat system
- 11:30 One of the biggest projects is the chat system overhaul. Right now, people are listening to this live stream in the Community chat and this chat plug-in is just really poorly built. It’s causing the website to hang or crash even. Obviously on a base level it’s really bad when this happens because people can’t talk to each other, but it’s also taking down the entire site. The site was throwing a 404 earlier during the previous recording we did. That is terrible. So I’m hiring Justin as I’ve mentioned in previous episodes to develop a completely new system. To call it a “chat system” feels almost silly because of how insanely complicated this thing is. It’s pretty immense. I’ve been working with him for the past month and a half just to define the scope of this project. We officially started recently and I’ve paid him so he’s working on that now. That takes a lot of time. We’ll get on a Skype call for two and half hours just defining one little feature of this thing.
- How many hours a week do you work?
- 12:52 Ben: “So, do you know off the top your head—this is just a yes or no question—do you know how many hours it takes per week to do all of the things you’re doing now?”
- 13:05 Sean: I don’t know if I should say.
- 13:06 Ben: “Do you think you know?”
- 13:09 Sean: I have a general idea. I’ve been better lately. I’m going to get to a number, I’m just kind of pre-qualifying. There’s also the fact that if I do lettering or I do a sketch note, I enjoy doing that! You know? So it kind of comes back to “What is work?” I’m not going to go too far on this tangent but bear with me. What is work? Say work ends at 6pm and I continue to write because I enjoy writing. Some people have day jobs and they write as a hobby. So what if I continue to write, what if I continue to do lettering or sketch notes, or design a featured image for my podcast and make art—what really is work?
- 14:12 Ben: “I’m just gonna say that you can call it all work because all of it contributes to what you’re publishing on a weekly basis. Take away anything that doesn’t contribute to what you’re publishing that people can see. What you have left is the amount of hours that you actually work.”
- 14:58 Sean: Ok, so I’m gonna say it’s a little over 100 hours a week. It’s probably 7am to 9pm or 7am to 10pm mostly all days of the week. On Sunday I tend to take it a bit easier, so I sleep in and then my wife and I might go on a coffee date, or a couple times this summer we went to the pool. But then I come back and this is what I love to do! So she’ll be reading or on Pinterest taking Sunday easy, and I just want to make something—I want to write, I want to create, and I want to produce.
- 15:32 Now a lot of that is stuff that I shouldn’t be doing. Back in episodes 76, 77, and 78 we did the Growth Scaling series (Related: e076 Growth Scaling Part 1 of 3: Systems & Superhero Syndrome). That’s when I started hiring Aaron to do podcast editing. I’m trying to get help, I’m trying to systematize like with Aaron and hiring a video guy. Laci will also be a full-time employee, but part of quitting her job is so she can take the time to explore her other passions. She’s not going to be working a full 40 hours a week, but it’ll still be a lot of work. All of that to say, I anticipate that weekly number coming down.
- Hiring help while maintaing quality
- 16:35 Ben: “As you’re talking about all of this stuff, I’m thinking about the resources out there like virtual assistants who can do some of these tasks, but the problem with going that route is obviously you don’t have as much control over the quality. What they produce is much more likely to not meet your quality standards—it’s not going to communicate things the way that you want them to be communicated. That was a hurdle you had to jump over with the podcast editing because you are so committed to the quality of this recording. I mean it’s a lot of work—I know it’s a lot of work because I’m very terrible at stringing together solid ideas. There’s lot of editing for Ben and it wasn’t really until you were convinced that you could work closely with someone like Aaron that you felt comfortable handing it off.
- 17:55 “You needed someone who had the same kind of mindset and who understood not just the quality but the art behind the way that you did your editing. You had to be confident that the quality would not drop. The same kind of thing has to be true for all of the other things that you do in order for them to be handed off. But there are some things that you just can’t hand off—they have to live with you.”
- 18:40 Sean: Yeah, it’s a matter of defining those things that require your voice and your personality. That’s a really hard thing to draw the line with because you want to personally be involved with every single aspect. Because you built your own brand, you want to be hands-on with everything to make sure the quality is there. It’s like I say, you have to do the hard work yourself up front and then you can hire.
- 19:11 It sounds crazy, because I have really productive, highly-focused time and I’m still spending 100 hours a week. That’s what it takes to make what you see me producing and the output you’re observing. That’s what it takes right now, but I’m doing the hard work up front and then I’m replacing the things that I shouldn’t be doing with other people and systematizing so I can maintain this output while scaling back my own time investment.
- The biggest investment I’ve ever made
- 19:43 Ben: “When that time comes, WILL you scale back? That’s the question.”
- 19:48 Sean: Yeah, I think we talked about this recently—that’s kind of my problem. After my book is done, I’m going to be making a series of business courses—tentatively called “The Trifecta.” Each of those three courses are going to be about the scale of the Learn Lettering Master Class. So this is really, really huge. That’s kind of the next thing for me.
- 20:16 The other thing is, I don’t want to say exactly just yet what I’m investing on having this chat system built, but eventually I am going to talk about it.
- 20:42 The reason I’m doing it is because I am very long-term focused. I’m not worried about how this is going to look in the next year or the next few months but I’m playing a very, very, very long game. So I’m investing well over half of what I own into this which doesn’t give me much of a buffer left over.
- 21:07 We’re comfortable and the residual income I have is enough to cover our bills and then some, but obviously that residual income is coming down—primarily a gradual decline from the Learn Lettering launch. I do have diversified sources of income but I’m not doing much to market it, like working on improving the automation series and really pushing it. I’m literally doing nothing right now and it’s supporting me.
- 21:35 But what I’m getting at with making this very huge investment is because I care so much about the Community experience, and because I care so much about long game, it’s forcing me to be more cash-flow oriented. I can’t afford to only continue to provide the free value stuff and not worry about future income.
- 22:00 There were a bunch of reasons for making this particular investment that is more than half of what I own, but one of them is because it lights a fire under me and motivates me. The past year or so, with everything I’ve done from when I wake up to when I go to bed (those 100 hours a week), not a single one of those things is something that directly generates revenue—emphasis on that keyword: “directly.” I’m not working for a client, I’m not actively selling or consulting or anything like that, it’s all extremely long game. I’ve been this way for a long time. That tip of the iceberg you’ve seen from the launch success is all results of this long-term investment mindset.
- 22:59 Sean: Everything I’m doing is not focused on making money. I pay over $1,000 a month to produce these podcasts. I’m spending money on my email list for every subscriber. I’m spending all of my time writing and producing content. The fact that I’m making these investments means that I need to generate some cash in the next year. I need to focus on cash flow. This is all around the question of “Ok, once you get help, are you going to scale back? Are you going to bring your hours down?”
- The Lambo Goal
- 23:56 Ben: “So are the business courses the thing that’s going to make you enough to get your Lamborghini?”
- 24:12 Sean (Laughing): Ok, so bringing in the Lambo Goal. The Lambo Goal is my big goal—go back to episode 68, the most popular episode of the show, where I tell you to set bigger goals (Related: e068 You Have One Life – Set Bigger Goals). I broke my own rule and I told you my goal to inspire you. It’s out there so everyone already knows it: my goal is to buy a Lamborghini Aventador, which is a $400,000 car, when that purchase is 10% of my money. Which means I need to get to $4 million. That’s my goal. Now, you’re asking if this next thing will be what gets me there? It’ll get me a good chunk of the way. I mean it depends on the time frame. If I wait it out, maybe I’ll slowly get there. More than likely I won’t just sit around.
- 24:57 Ben: “Yeah I doubt you’ll just sit around.”
- 25:00 Sean: Help me pick this apart, Ben.
- 25:02 Ben: “Man, ok. So, on the one hand, I’m inspired. On the other hand, I feel very sad, because I love the idea of doing as many things as you’re doing. You can probably point to somebody else out there on the Internet who is doing as many things as you’re doing, but there’s a big difference in the quality. That person who is producing the same amount of things probably has a lot of other people who are working with them and they’re not benefiting as directly from those investments. So when you look across the landscape and you see a lot of people producing that quantity of things, I think the first question you need to ask is ‘How does the quality actually compare?’ Because you, Sean, are extremely committed to quality. The reason you spend 100 hours a week right now is because the stuff that you put out is high quality stuff. That means a lot for your bottom line.
- What responsibilities do you have?
- 27:20 Ben: “So that’s inspiring, but the thing that’s discouraging to me is that I want to produce that same quality but I don’t have 100 hours in a week. That bums me out. Because I have other responsibilities. A question I want to ask is what other responsibilities do you have? What time is taken away from your ability to do those other things?”
- 27:57 Sean: So admittedly, very little. I mean, sometimes I don’t even eat, Ben. This is not me trying to brag. I’m not proud of this—none of this is me bragging about anything, I’m just being real with you. I want you to get a very real idea of what I’m doing. I want to paint a realistic picture so people don’t feel bad. You shouldn’t feel bad if you’re not putting out as much stuff as I am because I honestly don’t know how I’m doing it. I honestly sometimes don’t eat—I know that’s terrible. That’s part of why I’m looking forward to Laci working for me because I know she’ll make sure that I eat!
- 28:57 Anyway, I don’t have kids, I don’t have things that are eating up a base amount of my time.
- 29:09 Ben: “Yeah, I think that’s an important thing to note—not as an excuse, but just as a reality.”
- 29:19 Sean: Now there are some things that I am purposefully committing to. I meet with Matt every other week, I meet with you every other week, and I meet with Andrew every other week. So usually once or twice a week there’s a good 90 minute chunk taken out. With Matt, honestly, we spend about half a day together. Neither of us have that time (because we’re extremely busy as those of you who have heard Matt talk about his many businesses know) but we do make that time. It’s relatively negligible though as it’s not on a daily basis like most things are for people who have a family and kids.
- 30:04 Ben: “I think part of what plays into your ability to focus so much is that not only do you not have as many time commitments but you also have a really good, solid chunk of time to work. Because you don’t have a family and you’re not having to deal with other people’s schedules as much, your day isn’t broken up and you don’t have to reset your focus. That helps a lot with productivity in my experience.”
- Comparing is usually not a great idea
- 30:38 Sean: So how does this help other people? I mean, basically we’ve reinforced this “Well Sean can do it,” idea.
- 30:47 Ben: “Because I want to look at you and honestly, I want to start making excuses about why I’m not doing what you’re doing.”
- 30:55 Sean: Are you saying that’s a bad thing or do you feel like this is actually kind of good? As in, let’s make some legitimate “excuses” so you don’t feel bad or compare yourself?
- 31:07 Ben: “Maybe it’s a little bit good and it’s a little bit bad. I could take it in a positive direction and say ‘You know? I can’t do all of those things right now because I’m not in the same set of circumstances. Let me be realistic about where I am in my current set of circumstances.’ Then ask the question, ‘What CAN I do?’”
- 31:38 Sean: It’s a tough balance because of a lot of our shows are helping people overcome their excuses. You know, “Don’t look at other people, don’t make excuses for why you can’t do something, make the time, make the sacrifices, say no to things, and commit to doing something.” But on the other hand, I don’t want people to compare themselves—especially to me. So Tonya’s asking “How do I do as much as you’re doing? How many hours should a productive person work in a week to do all of the things that you’re doing?” They’re saying they see other people that are putting out stuff that is somewhat equivalent to me I guess and they’re thinking, “How can I do this? I can’t even imagine managing all of that, it’s just overwhelming.”
- Ben’s very important question
- 33:02 Ben: “Here’s an important question though. I’m just assuming you spend a lot of time on this each day: In the morning as you’re getting ready, how many hours do you spend making your hair look that good? I mean it’s legendary the way that your hair just flows and cascades off of your head onto your shoulders.”
- 33:42 Sean: You know, Ben, I’m going to look past the face that you’re making and I’m actually gonna be real about this. Maybe we can actually get something out of this. I don’t always make it look decent because I do work from home. I don’t always need to go somewhere, sometimes I’m just lazy. But if I do actually take the time, probably about 30 minutes. Gotta be honest—it doesn’t happen on its own. But the reason that I actually bring this up is because I use that time. I actually spend that time doing one of two things: I’m either listening to podcasts, or I am thinking and processing. Sometimes it’s both. I will play a podcast that’s maybe 30 minutes or an hour long and I’ll listen to it in five chunks. When they get to a topic, I will pause it before they say what they’re about to say and think about it for myself.
- 35:02 I will actually spend time listening to our own shows and think about what we say from the listener standpoint. We’re doing a show right now I’m not really as much listening to myself or you as I am talking. We’re taking turns talking, and we’re trying as much as possible to really listen to each other and acknowledge each other but there’s a switch between how we listen when we consume content and how we listen when we’re creating it.
- 35:32 Even when I write show notes and listen to the show, it’s still different because I’m trying to transcribe and I’m trying to pull out meaning. I will sometimes listen to a show a third time and be completely in the mind of the listener. I’ll go back a few episodes since my mind is usually jumbled with outlines and thousands of words of show notes from the recent several episodes, that way I don’t know exactly what’s going to be said next. I’ll just listen and think about the things we’re saying, how it applies to my life, and also analyze the way we’re talking. I’ll also look for certain phrases that I tend to overuse.
- Small Scale Sabbaticals
- 36:26 I’m very, very purposeful about all of my time. Maybe I even overuse it. Maybe I should relax a little more and have some fun, but for me that’s where the sabbatical comes in. Because I’m so focused and so purposeful and intentional about how I use every moment of my day, I kind of just have to stop. Instead of trying to carve out more time in each day, I tend to want make it as efficient as possible. I think for me I just have to stop. That’s why I’m doing the sabbatical.
- 37:05 Ben: “Yeah, that ends up being better for your work in the long run. That goes into the next question I wanted ask: How much time do you spend learning about new things, gathering inspiration, and researching? How much time is spent working vs. learning vs. researching?”
- 37:32 Sean: I spend a lot of time learning. I think that’s because I fill the gaps of my life with it.
- 37:40 Ben: “I don’t know if learning or researching necessarily always influences the bottom line. Because on the one hand, you gain better skills and get better using the tools, which means you could do things faster, but the better you are at using the tools and the more you understand the tools, the more quality you can put into what you’re producing—which might mean it ends up taking more time.”
- 38:26 “Whether you are reducing the amount of time that you have to spend on something or you are increasing your ability to provide greater quality, I think that time is definitely time well spent. When you’re finding it in the pockets of your day, like when you’re doing your hair, or when you’re working out, or when you’re driving to an event, and it’s not necessarily taking away from time you would otherwise be spending producing things, then that’s a win.”
- Optimizing time by killing notifications
- 39:03 Sean: I have notifications for most things off. So things like email—I don’t get push notifications for that. I don’t get push notifications or any kind of notifications when I get favorites or retweets. I’m very aggressive about disabling notifications and designating times for things.
- 39:42 I try not to go in and just look around. I pretty much stopped looking at Google analytics entirely. Years ago, I would check it every single day. Sure, check periodically to make sure there’s nothing wrong, but honestly get out of that stuff. Get out!
- Productive and purposeful reading time
- 40:46 People browse feeds all the time they’re just like, “Ooh, an article! Ooh, an article! Ooh, a video!” They’re interrupting their day to watch this stuff. I am very aggressive about saving. I use Instapaper. If I see something that looks remotely interesting, I save it. Any time I come across something, I save it. So I go days without reading articles or going through my video watch list. I don’t know if that helps or not.
- 41:31 Ben: “Yeah I think that’s helpful, but again at the same time, you’re doing all of those things to maximize the 100 hours a week that you’re spending!”
- 41:48 Sean: Christina in the chat room says, “But when does Sean watch Netflix?” I’ll be honest, I watch a Netflix show every single day. Now, it’s a half-hour show and without commercials on Netflix it’s probably about 25 minutes. I watch it while my wife and I eat dinner and then that’s it. I mean I already don’t like to spend time eating—it just seems like inefficient time to me—but you have to spend time using your hands to eat.
- 42:56 Ben: “The thing that I’m thinking right now to make myself feel better is that from the beginning, you have been doing The Overlap Technique. You’ve been saving up and putting money away so that you could take the time off from doing client work to build Learn Lettering. The money that you made from that you’re using to overlap and spend your time building your business stuff. The fact that you don’t have a family and other responsibilities allows you to spend more time, but I think the thing that’s more important is the overlapping. Really, if you’d overlapped a little bit differently, you might’ve scaled sooner to where your time would be even more freed up now than it is but that’s already a part of your current plan. Your plan is to put some of this stuff off onto other people so that you can focus more of your time doing the things that you enjoy doing and continue producing the same amount of things each week.
- 44:12 “I guess that’s what gives me hope. Let’s just pretend that to reach 90% quality on all of the things that you produce, 120 man-hours per week are required. Because of the ways that you scaled so far, you only have to work 100 man-hours each week. As you scale, you’ll be able to to work fewer and fewer of those 120 man-hours and still have the same quality output.
- 45:07 “So if I wanted to, I could overlap and I could continue working and saving until I got to the point where I could afford to put those man-hours on somebody else. I would then be able to work 60 hours a week instead of 120 hours a week.
- 45:56 “I don’t really know where I’m going with this except to say that it is possible when you have a family, when you have other responsibilities, when you don’t have as much time as Sean McCabe has. It is possible to produce the same quality and the same amount of stuff, but you have to overlap differently than the way that Sean has.”
- 46:22 Sean: So what do you feel like someone should take away from knowing more about my situation and the things that I do? Maybe you can help here: is the person asking the right question when they say, “How can I do all that you’re doing?”
- 46:46 Ben: “I think that’s a good starting point but I think the real question they’re asking is, ‘What can I do right now?’ And the only way to answer that question is to be real about your current set of circumstances and the amount of free time that you actually have. Be realistic about the time-wasters that you have in your life right now and the things that are more-or-less useless.
- 47:24 Ben: “Also be realistic about the time that you need to unwind and to rest. I think it’s great to look up to somebody and to aspire to do all of the things the people who inspire you do as a long-term goal, but you can’t let that keep you from paying attention to the things now that you’re able to do in your current set of circumstances.”
- 48:08 Sean: I guess my hope is just by sharing what I do that people get a really realistic idea of what goes into producing it.
- 48:18 Ben: “I like what Christina said:
- 48:28 Sean: The goal is making it seem like magic to everyone else. They don’t even have to think about it. It’s just like clockwork. It’s easy to think from the outside that it’s just magic. Because it’s so regular and consistent, it just seems like a well-oiled machine. “How did you build this magic machine that so consistently puts things out there?” But it’s not. It’s so messy and crazy behind-the-scenes and there’s so much blood, sweat, and tears.
- 50:50 Ben: “Yeah and that’s the same with theater. I’ve been in theater before and when we get behind that curtain, we’re changing outfits and rushing to get all the stuff done so that we can go out and be composed and have this completely different kind of presence and provide an experience for people.
- 51:11 “But if you’re the person who wants to put on a play, you’ve got to understand what goes into all of that back end stuff. You’re not going to pull off the same kind of magic unless you do.”
- 51:25 Sean: I think it’s good to give people a look at that behind-the-scenes rawness. Because they’re seeing the polished, finish production and the consistent output and they feel like they want to be that and they don’t how to do it. They just feel overwhelmed. “I want to have that kind of an output and I just don’t know how they do it.” I think it’s probably more harmful never to show what goes on behind the scenes because someone’s not going to get a real idea of what it takes.
- 52:04 Sean: It’s extremely hard. The people you look up to that make it look easy? The easier they make it look, the harder they’re working—the more insane it is behind the scenes.
Question from Tania:
How many hours per week should a productive person work to accomplish all the things that you [Sean] do? I mean, one person, without any help from employees? You seem to be doing a whole lot of stuff—as well as many other people on the internet… Why can’t I manage all that?
In the past 8 or 10 days there has been something new from me published every single day.
I will say right now I am investing more than half of all my money in building this chat system.
That’s an investment that I will not get an equal return on for several years.
Right now, I’m making a lot of long-term investments. You’re going to see the results about 1 or 2 years from now.
Whatever this extra time is for you—if it’s when you’re driving to work, when you’re shaving, when you’re brushing your teeth, when you’re running—what are you doing with that time?
If I’m going to get on Facebook, I’m in attack mode. I have something prepared, I want to just drop a bomb and leave.
I think they want the secret shortcut. Doesn’t exist.
The easier something looks—that’s actually polished and quality—the harder it is to do.
What’s the takeaway?
In the days following this recording, Ben thought more about what I asked him:
Is the person asking the right question when they say, “How can I do all that you’re doing?”
He ended up writing an article: Focus On Where You Are Today to Make Meaningful Progress Toward Your Future.
In it, he talks about knowing where you are and gives an analogy of building a house when your neighbor’s is already completed.
You're not there yet, you're here, and that's okay. Work from here. You can't gain traction on the ground on which you're not yet standing.
— ben toalson (@bentoalson) September 9, 2014
I encourage you to give his article a read.