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There’s a lot of really awesome content and advice out there. Consuming it can almost be a hobby in and of itself!

It feels good to listen to helpful information, new ideas, or tips and tricks that can improve your workflow or your life.

You can read tutorials all day, but you’ll only improve by doing. You might feel like you’re getting better by consuming, but you have to put things into practice!

You have to take action.

  • Why is taking action so hard?
  • Why is that first step such a doozy?
  • Can hustle be taught?
  • What if you don’t have the time or money?
  • What if you don’t do a good job?
  • What if nobody cares?

You came to the right episode.

Show Notes
  • 03:32 Sean: We share a lot of great advice on this podcast—things to help make your life better, help your career, help your client work, and help your productivity. But it does nothing if it’s not put into action. It can be really hard to take action on that advice. It might feel good to listen to it but it won’t do you any good until you put it into action.
  • 04:12 Ben: We make ourselves feel like we’ve been productive because we’ve been consuming actionable stuff but we haven’t actually done anything with it (Related: e141 Optimizing Your Lifestyle for Better Productivity). It’s like watching 10 TED talks and thinking, “I’m doing awesome!”
  • 04:36 Sean: Yeah, or watching workout videos on your couch.


  • Hustle: Can It Be Taught?
  • 05:01 Ben: You were recently on the #AskGaryVee show.
  • 05:14 Sean: Yeah! The #AskGaryVee Show is one of the few things I consume. I like to produce. Even in my breaks, I pursue different forms of production. I like creating. I limit my consumption. The two people I really keep an eye on are Gary Vaynerchuk and James Altucher these guys are prolific. They’re hustlers and putting content out there constantly. It’s almost not as much about the content as it is about how prolific they are in their publishing. There are so few people that have that level of output and I like to put myself in that world. It energizes me and challenges me.
  • 07:35 Over Christmas break, Cory and I shot a 21 second video asking him the question, “Can hustle be taught? Is it something you have or you don’t?” and I was able to work in a plug. His answer was really insightful.
  • 08:41 Ben: The reason I brought that up is because of the title of today’s show. Knowing the question you asked Gary Vee, I wondered if you would be sharing some of the insight you got from him. When I think of the word action, I think about hustle.
  • 09:11 Sean: What were your thoughts? How did that video pertains to the topic we’re going into?
  • 09:26 Ben: The words “take action” can be taken a lot of different ways but I think of as how I initiate my work and the attitude with which I start working on something. Instead of easing in to something, it’s the enthusiasm with which you jump into it. There is an element of hustle to that. I liked Gary’s response to your question: for some people it depends on the circumstances that they’re in. Everyone has hustle and the ability to take action within them. Some people are better at it than others.
  • 10:57 Sean: In summation, his reply was: some of it is in your DNA, but it’s also cultural. Not your societal culture, but the culture of your surroundings, like where you work. Community member Ben Flack, tweeted that he agreed with Gary in that there’s a certain amount of hustle instilled in someone but then there’s a person-specific amount of hustle that we each have potential for. That potential isn’t identical across the board with everyone but through things like culture and community, you can pull it out.
  • 12:08 Ben: Outside of upbringing and culture, we all have a different capacity for hustle. Therefore, you can’t compare your hustle to someone else’s. You have to ask yourself if this is the best you can do and how can you improve upon that?
  • 13:03 Sean: Yeah, forget the other people. The question should be, “Am I hustling to my own greatest capacity?”
What Keeps Us From Taking Action?
  • 13:40 I asked people in the chat, “What are the things that keep you from taking action?” I wanted to identify what’s keeping people from starting. What are their fears? What’s holding them back? I’m going to address each one individually.
  • Laziness
  • 14:58 Is someone inherently lazy or are they inherently a hustler, or is it a choice? Everyone has the capacity to hustle to a degree. There’s no sensibility in comparing your potential capacity to hustle to someone else. What matters is: are you even trying? Are you even reaching a fraction of your full capacity?
  • You have to care enough to take action. You have to want it.

  • Time & Money
  • 20:28 It’s not as simple as saying, “Get over your fears of time and money.” You could legitimately have a shortage of time and money. That’s not just a mindset thing. If you have a shortage of money, you should prioritize your spending.
  • 21:38 If you’re feeling like you have a shortage of time and money or it’s what’s keeping you from being able to do something, you can either remain in that place or you can make changes that allow you to take action. If you don’t have the capacity to do that, saying no will allow you to free up time and money (Related: e140 Supercharge Your No With a Reason for Saying Yes). What are you not spending money or time on? It’s a matter of prioritization.
  • If you want to be able to take action you have to free up your capacity to hustle.

  • 22:25 Ben: If you feel like you’ve cut out as much time as you can and you’re making as much money as you can, you might feel stuck. You need to bring on an outside perspective to help you see all the possibilities.
  • 23:16 Sean: People say time is money. You can trade your time for money and you can spend money to get time—it’s a balance. Most people don’t have a shortage of both. They might throw one out as an excuse, but in reality, they typically have a shortage of one or the other.
  • Plenty of Money — No Time
  • 24:08 If you’re a general manager that’s required to work 60 hours a week, you probably have the money but don’t have the time. Let’s say taking action for this person is to start their own business and they don’t have the time or the energy. If taking action is important to them, they may need to take a pay cut or lower their job requirements. They get paid less but have more time, so they can take action on something that would benefit them in the long-run.
  • 24:57 Ben: That’s a great example of an option someone may not be considering. Stop telling yourself something is impossible or a solution won’t work. If you open your mind a little bit, you’d be amazed at how many possibilities are available.
  • Plenty of Time — No Money
  • 25:32 Sean: On the flip-side of that, maybe you feel like you have enough time and not enough money—evaluate what you’re saying yes to. Don’t get stuck in the guaranteed minimum pay that’s safe and cushy. Take a calculated risk and start saying no to the wrong jobs, the wrong clients, and the wrong day job (Related: e086 Why You Should Quit Your Job). Start saying yes to things that are a better use of your time or a better compensation for your time. You’re not going to get there magically.
  • You can’t keep saying yes to the consistent paycheck—it might be guaranteed money but it’s also a guarantee you’ll never go above that.

  • 26:19 You’ll have to start saying no to lesser things if you want to say yes to greater things. If you feel like you need money and have plenty of time, you’re limiting yourself by saying yes to the easy or guaranteed things. You should say no to those things and yes to things that are outside your comfort zone.
  • Full Time Job – Not Sure Where To Start
  • 27:02 This is where The Overlap Technique comes in.
  • 27:33 Ben: If you have a day job that isn’t sucking the life out of you and you still have some time left over—that’s a good place to be. Not knowing where to start is a problem that’s remedied when you shift your mindset away from thinking you’ll miss out on an opportunity if you focus on only one thing. The reality is that if you’ve got your bills taken care of, you can afford to explore different things.
  • Fail Forward
  • 28:30 Sean: That’s huge! I was talking to a friend whose dad has started 10 businesses in his life and they all failed so he’s paralyzed by that fear. What if I free up time from my great-paying job and put myself out there and it fails? It’s very simply a shift in your mindset. I’ll alleviate you of any worry: you’re going to fail.
  • If you want to be successful, you’re going to fail.

    If you think you’re going to fail, you’re going to fail.

    You will fail because the path to success is ridden with failures.

  • 29:50 It’s simply a mindset. When you fail, are you going to fail forward, or are you going to fail backwards? You shouldn’t think of it as a failure, you should think of it as a pivotal point in your journey. The path in this direction is no longer working, so you have to course correct. You’re still moving in a forward direction, but you’re letting the experience take you to the next thing.
  • 30:31 Ben: What would it look like if your attitude was, “Finally, we failed! Now we can go somewhere,” as if the failure is a goal in and of itself. The sooner you achieve failure, the more you get to clarify the direction you’re going.
  • 30:58 Sean: You go in a direction until you reach amazing success or you reach a failure—either one is feedback. It’s either a reward for working hard or the direction is no longer working and now you know that so you change your course.
  • 31:19 Ben: That knowledge in and of itself is a reward. You wouldn’t have learned that had you not tried—had you been so afraid of failure that you didn’t take the first step.
  • A Deep-Rooted Fear That I Am of No Value
  • 31:35 Sean: This person says:
    • “Even if I give my absolute best to the world, it won’t matter or make a difference and no one will care, anyway.”
  • 31:45 I want to speak some positivity to that first. You are valuable. Your contribution to this world is valuable. You’re experience is valuable. If it makes a difference for one person, it’s worth it. You’re not just impacting that one person—it’s the butterfly affect. What will having an impact on that one person do for everyone else that they reach? More than likely, you’ll reach and impact more than one person. To any degree, it’s worth it. Your contribution is valuable.
  • 33:07 Ben: If you put something out there, it’s going to influence someone in one direction or another. You are a vital link in a chain. Where does this fear come from?
  • 33:45 Sean: I think it comes from being a consumer and looking out into the world to see all these things being created. There’s an infinite amount of stuff to consume what others have created. It feels like you’re just a drop in the bucket (Related: tv030 Why You’re Not a Small Fish in a Big Pond). Everyone is consuming, very few people are curating. It’s the 10/10/10 effect—10% of people are curating what others have made and 10% of those curating are actually creating. Creators are the 1%, most people aren’t in that category.
    • We have more employees than employers.
    • We have more followers than leaders.
    • We have more consumers than creators.
  • Once you put yourself in the producer mindset rather than the consumer mindset, you immediately have influence.

  • 35:12 Everyone is hungry for your content. When you put yourself in the producer category, it’s easy to have tunnel vision within that 1%. You think you’re just one more person creating amongst so many others. “Is what I’m doing valuable? Is it worth it?” You are the 1%! You’re making things! Most people aren’t even thinking about it so if you’re even wondering if what you have to say is valuable, run with it. Only good will come of that.
  • 36:07 Ben: Can you narrow it down even more? 10% of curators are actually creating things themselves, 10% of creators are doing so consistently, and 10% of those creating consistently are doing so with high quality. It’s encouraging to think of it in this hierarchy for someone who thinks they’re just a voice in a see of voices.
  • 37:59 Sean: If you even have the smallest inkling towards wondering if what you have to say is valuable, you have momentum that 99% of people don’t have right now—or at least they’re not acting on it. You’re at a pivotal place where you have the opportunity to act on that momentum and take a step into the unknown. At least you’re in that place. You’re on the fence between 99% and the 1%.
  • 38:39 Ben: It’s not just the content or quality you’re sharing, it’s the fact that you’re taking action that’s valuable—that by itself is adding value to the world.
  • The Feeling That I Wont Do a Good Job
  • 39:05 Sean: This could be a legitimate fear if you feel like you haven’t worked at something long enough. If you have no experience, you might have to wade through a few projects where you don’t do a perfect job.
  • There’s nothing wrong with needing experience.

    If you’ve been doing something for a while, you’re probably better at it than you’re giving yourself credit for.

  • 39:57 Ben: It’s good to ask yourself: how can you improve? Don’t ask it in a way that makes you devalue your work but in a way that propels you toward improvement.
  • Uncertainty About How Good Whatever I’m Making Needs to Be to Be Valuable to Someone Else
  • 40:41 Sean: Find out what their problems are. If you’re making something for someone else and you’re concerned about how good that needs to be and that’s keeping you from from acting, find out if you can make their job easier. If you can make their job easier in any way, that’s valuable. If you’re stuck thinking that you don’t know if your solution will be valuable to someone, then make it smaller. Solve a smaller problem. Keep narrowing it down until you’re sure that it will help someone.
  • 41:51 Ben: I like that because it takes the focus away from your subjective opinion on how good your work is and it focuses on how effective of a solution it is to the client’s problem. Even if you can’t solve the problem 100%, it’s still a solution if it helps the client move forward.
  • 42:46 Sean: As long as you’re solving half of their problems to full capacity, instead of all of their problems to half capacity, then you’re in a good place. Find a smaller section of problems that you can solve really well. This speaks not only to clients, but to customers as well. If there’s a product that you’re hesitant to take action on, you need to simplify the problem you’re trying to solve. What if you could guarantee someone an extra 2 hours of time every evening? What if you could help someone with 2 kids and a day job who wants to start a business on the side get half days on Fridays? Solving a smaller problem that you can guarantee will make you feel confident about putting the solution out there.
  • 44:44 Ben: A question in the chatroom lately has been, “How do I know if I’m competent enough to solve someone’s problem?” With that question, it becomes less about if you can solve the problem and more about if I’m even in a place in my knowledge and understanding to solve a problem.
  • 45:22 Sean: Part of it is taking the step and treating it as a learning opportunity, not coming at it with the mindset of failure if you don’t succeed. Go into it like a professional and know that you’ll get some things wrong. What can I find out through doing that I’m not going to see from observing? Improve on those things intentionally with your 2nd, 3rd, and 4th projects.
  • Look for places to take responsibility and improve.

  • 46:11 Ben: In the 80’s, Paul Rand created the NeXT logo and charged $100,000 for it. Once upon a time, that guy didn’t know whether or not he had the ability to solve peoples’ problems. Everybody has to go through the same process and you can’t go through the process unless you have some failures. It comes back to the fear of failure. You want to put yourself out there to find the success you’re looking for but you have to go through those failures to get there.
  • 47:24 Sean: He was intentionally failing forward. You don’t increase your rate to that point until you have the confidence to take a step forward—to take a step into uncharted territory.
  • 47:49 Ben: Write down everything you learn with every client, then look at those things and say to yourself, “This lesson added value to what I’m able to provide to my next client.” Consider that in your next client interaction. Your future clients will benefit from the lessons you learn from your failures.
  • 48:47 Sean: I’m willing to bet Paul Rand took a step forward in taking that job. I bet you he didn’t just side step and go from an equally awesome project to the NeXT logo. I bet you he went into the unknown with that and he was willing to fail.
  • 49:29 Ben: I love that example though because NeXT didn’t even use that logo.
  • 49:45 Sean: It’s the butterfly effect though. NeXT didn’t end up panning out, but Steve Jobs actually talked about the impact the interaction with Paul Rand had on him (Related: Steve Jobs Recalls Working With Paul Rand). Paul Rand’s professionalism was almost arresting but refreshing in a way. It probably affected how Jobs dealt with things at Apple in the future.
  • 50:58 Ben: Think about your client interactions and the options you might be leaving on the table because you’re afraid of stepping into unknown territory. Don’t leave that stuff on the table, that’s the good stuff!
  • Stop Thinking
  • 51:23 Sean: Something else I wanted to address is: stop thinking. If all you do is think, you’ll just think yourself in circles.
  • You need to stop thinking and make a choice to take action.

  • 52:13 Maybe that choice looks like committing to something once a week or going to the gym at 5:30am. Step 1 isn’t to do something, because you can easily say no to doing it. You need to:
    1. Stop thinking.
    2. Make a choice.
  • 53:03 Instead of thinking about something, think about making a choice. Use that mental capacity to choose action instead of thinking about taking action.
  • Be Accountable
  • 56:01 Especially for people that are stuck and feel paralyzed, but even for those of us who are prone to action—you’ve got to be accountable to someone. A lot of times you can’t do it on our own and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. Even if you can do it on your own, you can do it better when you’re accountable to someone—either public accountability or party accountability. The push you need might be meeting with someone and committing to taking action, as well as committing to meeting with them. Every time you meet, they’ll hold you accountable to your commitment.
  • 57:22 Ben: There are two different layers: public accountability and partner accountability. You might try to weasel out of the public accountability but you know your audience will notice. That should matter to you but when you also have the added layer of partner accountability, it’s even stronger. You can even include personal accountability as another layer to that, like consequences in your life if you don’t fulfill your commitments.
  • 58:53 Sean: We’ve talked about the 3 P’s of accountability: Partner, Public, and Personal Accountability (Related 107: Why You Need an Accountability Partner & How to Find One). Personal accountability is tertiary, it’s not as strong. If we only had personal accountability, most of us wouldn’t get anything done. That’s what I love about the 3 fold cord: it pares partner accountability, which is really strong, with public accountability. The partner makes sure you’re staying on track, but then you make a public commitment to your audience that you’re going to consistently show up. If you don’t follow through with that, it’s a matter of your reputation.
  • 1:00:16 Your personal accountability isn’t strong, but it can benefit from the other two. Once you have partner and public accountability, make a personal commitment to yourself. The other two are going to make sure you continue following through with the commitment, which in turn, strengthens your personal accountability. Your word to yourself will mean more. How many of you have said to yourself, “I’m going to work out every day this week,” and you don’t do it?
  • We don’t mind disappointing ourselves.

  • 1:01:14 Ben: That’s so important. The reason personal accountability doesn’t work for people is because they’ve proven to themselves too many times they can’t trust what they say they’re going to do.
  • Make a New To-do List – 3 Things on a Post-It Note
  • 1:02:55 Sean: You probably already have a to-do list for this project—either mentally or written out. A lot of us have too many things that we want to take action on or there are too many things required to even take action on something. It looks overwhelming and it’s paralyzing us. A bloated to-do list can keep you from taking action. Make a new list. Get away your to-do app and make a list on a Post-It note with only 3 things. List the top 3 things you need to do to get the ball rolling on this thing. There’s something about writing it out by hand. Do the first thing on that list today. If you don’t do it today, you’re wasting your time.
  • There is today and there is never.

    Tomorrow is never.

  • 1:04:27 Prove it to yourself by taking action. Everyone says January 1st they’ll start working out or they’ll start their side project on Monday. Everyone says tomorrow. It’s today or never.
  • It’s not about what you accomplish, it’s about taking the step.

    That’s going to lead to everything else you can and will accomplish.