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70% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck.
It shouldn’t be like this.
You’ve got to get ahead. In your personal life and with your business, you need to get ahead of barely making it month to month. You’re living in stress and you’re stuck in Scarcity Mindset.
You need money in the bank. At least six months of income. You need enough cash in the bank to cover all of your expenses for six months if nothing was coming in.
I call this figure “The New Zero”. To calculate it for yourself, take your monthly expenses and multiply them by six. If monthly expenses for you and your family are $5,000, you need $30,000 in the bank (six months). That means if you have less than $30,000, you need to see that as being in the hole. If you have $24,000, think of that as having -$6,000. You are below the minimum threshold.
This is not a luxury. This is a necessity. Living paycheck to paycheck in scarcity should not be a reality you accept. It should not be something you get complacent about. It needs to be something you work to get ahead of.
When you’re in scarcity mindset, you can’t make objective, long-term decisions about your future. You can’t have the life you want to have. You end up overworking. You don’t have the freedom to delegate or hire new people.
In this episode, we talk about the practical aspects of getting that money in the bank, two kinds of hustle, when to invest, and getting rid of debt.
Highlights, Takeaways, Quick Wins
- The New Zero: Six months of income saved in the bank.
- Living paycheck to paycheck means you’re in Scarcity Mindset.
- Scarcity Mindset will prevent you from making the kind of decisions you need to make and getting where you want to go.
- Avoid complacency by finding a bigger reason—something you’re striving to accomplish.
- You have to earn the right to invest long term by first taking care of the short term.
- See debt as a spider crawling up your shirt and get rid of it as quickly as possible.
- When you’re in debt, don’t buy things, don’t make long-term investments, don’t go to events, and don’t increase your debt. Get out of debt!
- There are two ways to get more money: save it or make it.
- When you are in Scarcity Mindset, you can’t afford luxuries—like saying yes to things that aren’t getting you where you want to go.
- 13:49 Sean: You need to get six months of expenses, saved in the bank. That needs to become your new zero. If you have less than six months of income in the bank right now, you need to think of that as being in the hole. You need to fix that, and so do I. This is something I’m working on. This is something I’m passionate about, and I want to help people catch this fire and drive for getting cash in the bank so you can get out of Scarcity Mindset.
- 14:26 Ben: It’s typical to think of your finances in terms of what you owe. I think the general experience is that you accrue a certain amount of debt for vehicles or, for some people, appliances like televisions, and things like that. That’s normal for people. The idea that you would get out of debt and get ahead in your finances by six months, calling that your “new zero,” seems very revolutionary. There are people who talk about how this is a smart thing to do with your money, and it’s not just about being proactive. It’s about what it unlocks for you in the way you’re able to think about your work and the kinds of opportunities you’re able to look for.
The New Zero
- 15:33 Sean: I always thought having six months of income saved up was really good for making a transition with the Overlap Technique. I’m still on for July, by the way, to write three books: Overlap, Curate, and Reciprocity. These are going to be on topics that people who listen to the podcast are very familiar with. It’s happening. I’m finally writing the books, I’m setting aside the time. I’m excited about sharing more about the Overlap Technique. Having six months of income saved is a great way to make the transition to going to the next thing—to quitting your job, starting your business, adding a new offering, growing your business, or starting another business.
- 16:18 It’s a really good way to make transitions, but I’ve always seen it as a luxury, like, “Oh, it would be nice to have that,” or, “If you want to make really big changes, then you should try and have some income saved up.” More and more recently, especially in the last year, it’s been a struggle. I’ve worked more in the past year than I ever have. There’s a lot about that that I don’t like. I’ve missed out on things, really missed out. We speak hypothetically about not getting to go bowling with your friends or not getting to play XBox, but I really didn’t get to do those things. There were actual events and dinners that my friends were at. My wife went and I was invited, and I just didn’t go… because I had to work.
- 17:15 I had to work because I had to make money. I had to make money because I had to pay people’s salaries. I had to pay people’s salaries because I hired them to help me do something that wasn’t sustainable. 90% of the team’s time was spent producing things that we were giving away, and it put me in a place where I was working ridiculous hours. I was working Gary Vee hours, and nobody should do that. I realize now that it’s not a luxury, and that’s something from the Mastermind retreat I went on. All of the big changes happening in seanwes were catalyzed by three or four different things, but the Mastermind retreat was one of them.
- 18:15 They said, “Look Sean, you’re great at producing. You can crank out shows and courses like nobody’s business. I want to see you apply that same energy toward getting cash in the bank.” We’re operating month to month, basically. We have a little bit of a buffer so we could last a few months, but it’s putting me and us in Scarcity Mindset.
We can’t do what we need to do to get where we want to go when we’re in Scarcity Mindset.
- 18:51 It forces us to do things that we have to do just to put food on the table.
- 19:01 Ben: On the one hand, I see how seeing the actual end of the runway puts you in a mode where it’s either hustle or die. You can see the end, and you know that you have to take action. It becomes a strong motivator for getting a bunch of stuff done. I wonder about having that safety net, that six months of buffer, and treating that like the new zero—how do you think of that mentally? If you get that built up and you say, “That’s the new zero,” but you’re still working month to month, how do you see the fake end of the runway and have the same kind of drive and motivation that you have when you see the actual end of the runway?
Two Kinds of Hustle
- 20:10 Sean: It’s a different kind of drive, and it’s a different kind of hustle. The person who, if they don’t go out and work, is going to be on the streets because they will default on their bills, they have a certain kind of hustle and drive. It’s a hungry, desperate drive. Then you have someone who isn’t in Scarcity Mindset, who doesn’t have to work just to put food on the table. They’re not going to be on the street if they don’t work today, if they don’t get out of bed at 6am. Then, you enter into a new level. You do have to find your why.
- 21:04 Complacency is always a threat. You can always be happy where you are, but you find a new why. Find a bigger reason, something you’re striving to accomplish, like people you want to help and a mission you want to fulfill. That’s a new level of drive. Getting to that point is a different kind of hustle. It’s not the kind where, if you stop, you’re on the street. Even someone on the street has to hustle, in a way. It’s different levels of hustle all the way up.
- 21:42 Ben: When you’re in that desperation, you look for different things than you do when you’re not in desperation. It’s about the quick fix.
- 21:57 Sean: You’re about to drown. To not drown, you need to tread water. It takes hustle to tread water, to stay in the same place and not drown. It’s a different kind of hustle to swim forward like an Olympic or a long distance swimmer, someone who is making progress and getting from one side to the other. You’re getting from one piece of land to the next piece of land. You can always stay on the land, and you’re fine. That’s where you live. But if you don’t like where you live, if you want to change your situation and go somewhere else, you want to get somewhere better, you’re going to have to swim.
- 22:33 That takes a certain kind of hustle. You could go back, which would really suck, or you can keep swimming and go forward. If you hustle, you keep swimming and you make it to the other side, you level up. The person who is in the water, who is drowning, who isn’t on any kind of land, all of their effort is spent treading water. They can never stop treading water, or they’re done. That’s the difference in the hustle.
- 23:05 Ben: Sean said “level up,” and I like that visual. Imagine yourself being extremely tired. The waves are super choppy, and you’re doing everything you can to keep your head above water. You can’t see. You don’t see anything beyond what’s immediately in front of you because of your position in the water. If you’re standing on something, just five or six feet of elevation above the water, that allows you to see so much more of what’s out there. It could be that you’re five feet away from a platform you can pull yourself onto, but you can’t see that when you’re treading water and you’re fighting to stay afloat.
The new zero is to have six months of income in the bank.
- 23:57 Let’s say you’re married, and your bills are $5,000 a month. That would mean $30,000 saved in the bank. If you have $20,000 saved in the bank, you’re in the hole $10,000. That’s the kind of mentality I’m talking about here. See six months income as zero, as your baseline. That’s ground level. That’s being in the black. If you have anything less, think of that as being in the hole. You want this so you can free yourself up to operate however you want to reach your goals, achieve the next milestone, grow your business, hire new people, or make long-term decisions.
When to Invest
- 24:49 We had someone say, “When is the right time for a business to be putting this much money in the bank? Since at the start you want to invest as much as you can to speed it up.” This was my mentality as well. I’m very long-term oriented. I’m all about the long game. I have a long game mindset, so I want to invest in the future. Naturally, I think, “Let’s do what’s best for five years from now or ten years from now.” Because the world is so short term—they want instant gratification and they’re only thinking about the now, not tomorrow—most of the advice shared is, “Don’t just think about today! Think about tomorrow. Think about the consequences of your actions over a longer period of time. Think bigger picture. Look farther into the future.”
- 25:45 There wasn’t any advice that said, “Don’t think too far. Don’t lose sight of what’s right in front of you. Take care of your immediate needs.” Most people don’t tend towards that. I thought, “Most people don’t tend towards long-term thinking, so that’s a good thing. The fact that I’m so long-term thinking is a really great thing.” It took someone else telling me, “You have to earn the right to think long term,” for me to understand it. At that moment, it clicked for me.
You have to earn the right to think long term and invest.
- 26:22 This guy is saying, “You want to speed it up as much as possible in the beginning,” but you have to earn the right to invest. Most companies operate like startups. Most startups get funding, venture capital or whatever, and they have the freedom to do whatever they want. They don’t have to worry about how what they’re doing will make money—they can just do it. They can make cool things and grow the user base. They can get millions of users, and they don’t have to worry about how this platform will make money. That’s someone else’s problem later.
- 26:56 They slap advertising on it or whatever, and they can make things in isolation, in this bubble, because they have the money. They can make decisions that are super long term because they have the money. Of course, there’s the problem of those investors having a stake in the company, which is kind of like debt. You’re owing them, and they can steer the direction of the company. A lot of people, myself included, start thinking that they need to invest aggressively in the long game before they earn the right to do that. I learned this the hard way. I’ve spent the past three years putting everything into the long game and not worrying about the short term, and it’s resulted in me working 120 hour weeks. It’s unsustainable, even with the sabbaticals that I take.
- 27:51 It’s just not sustainable, and it’s not healthy. I’m not living the life I want to live or running the business I want to run. I can’t even give my employees bonuses or raises. The fact that I’m keeping them is hard enough. When you’re treading water, you can’t afford any luxuries, much less help anyone else in your life and give them nice things. I don’t like being in that place. That’s why I’ve decided to make a change here, and that’s why I’ve decided that this is my new zero.
- 28:26 Ben: I like the idea of thinking about it like it’s debt, but not all people are motivated the same way by that way of thinking. That’s kind of a negative motivator. The idea that, “If I don’t have six months of income in the bank, I’m in debt,” can cause some anxiety and fear. For myself, I like to focus on the positive things that come from having that much saved up in the bank. When I think about the metaphor of being able to see a lot more, your mind is capable of being able to identify more opportunities and being more creative. You’re more capable of helping other people and it’s more sustainable.
Focus on the positive things about having money in the bank, because that’s an exercise in focusing on your why.
- 29:30 That’s going to be really important when you get to that place. You don’t want to get complacent and slip back down. You don’t want to stop pushing things forward just because now you feel comfortable. Thinking about those positive things and focusing on your why is a great way to motivate yourself to getting there and staying there when you do.
Perspectives on Debt
- 29:51 Sean: I do tend to think of debt differently. I forget that other people see it differently. A lot of people don’t really care if they have debt. It’s just part of life, and it’s something they choose to live with. I don’t like to operate with debt. I want to get rid of debt faster than a spider crawling up inside of my shirt. I’m not thinking, “This spider is a nuisance. I guess I’ll finish my work for the day and then I’ll go bowling with my friends, run some errands, and get the groceries. First thing I do when I get home is to start thinking about getting rid of this spider.” That’s not how I do it.
I get rid of debt as fast as I would get rid of a spider crawling up my shirt.
- 31:06 That’s how I think about it. I don’t want this debt. If I have debt, I’m not going to sit around or go, “Hey little buddy. I guess this is life now.” It’s not fun to me. When I made this picture into this six months income equaling the new zero, that means that because I don’t have that yet, I’m in the negative. I’m sub-zero. I am, effectively, in debt. I’m indebted to my six months fund, which I need to operate my business and my life the way I want to. Doing that puts me, personally, into a mindset where I have to do whatever it takes to get to that point. The new priority is that we need to get to the zero level. We need to get up to the ground.
- 32:24 My dad is now going through the Dave Ramsey thing. He says, “You’re telling me that you never did Dave Ramsey?” I said, “No, Dad, I don’t do debt, so I don’t need Dave Ramsey to tell me how to get out of debt that I never got into in the first place. It doesn’t make logical sense.” I later found out that he does more than help people get out of debt. He’s got some good business and leadership stuff, so I’ve checked out his stuff, but I never did the Dave Ramsey thing because I didn’t go into debt.
- 32:58 I don’t see the logic of it. People say, “I’ve got $2,000 saved in the bank,” but they have $10,000 of debt. They don’t have $2,000. They have negative $8,000. I guess they don’t see that, and it’s hard for me to process that.
- 33:23 Ben: What people experience and are aware of is very different from the objective truth of the situation sometimes. Sometimes, it’s very simple. Sometimes, it’s very complex. It takes a certain perspective to be able to see it. It’s kind of similar to the situation Sean was in. He was operating his business a certain way, and from his perspective, everything looked fine. He could feel the burn of having to go through that month to month stuff, but then these other perspectives came in and something clicked for him. Now, he sees it differently than he did several months ago.
The Power of Convention
- 34:07 People are just in their modes. They were raised a certain way or they were exposed to that kind of culture, and they see so many other people doing it. Going through the Dave Ramsey thing feels like going in completely the opposite direction of what everyone else is doing. It’s a perspective thing. It consistently takes me hearing things so many times in order for me to shift from being aware of something to actually understanding it. I think that’s the way it is for people.
- 34:52 Sean: That’s one of my favorite things Ben has said in a while. That’s really exciting to me. He made it real for me because he said, “Look how you’ve been operating the past few years, Sean, and it took hearing someone else coming from a different perspective telling you something, multiple people, multiple times, for it to click for you.” That gives me hope, because we live in a society where there are systems that all of us buy into. I’m not immune to this. We do this without thinking, because it’s convention. It’s what we all do, it’s what our parents did.
- 35:37 I wasn’t born saying, “I’m going to build a business and not discount things.” When I started a business, I did holiday discounts, because that’s what everyone did. I didn’t think about it. I didn’t think about the fact that, last week, someone may have bought my product at full price. What is their experience going to be like? I never thought about it. The more I’ve talked about it, the more other people have thought about it for the first time. “Oh, maybe that isn’t creating the best experience for my most loyal customers.” It gives me hope, because it’s illuminating the fact that there are these systems and status quos.
- 36:34 There’s a status quo that says, “If you want something that is considered normal in society, like a car, a house, or an education, you go into debt for it. That’s what people do.”
You can’t fault people for having debt, because they’ve grown up in a system that encourages it.
- 36:54 All of these companies exist because they have their own best interest in mind. They’re eventually going to become obsolete. In fewer than 20 years, they’re still going to be around, but it won’t be anything like it is today. They have their own best interest in mind. Credit card companies have their own best interest in mind. Banks have their own best interest in mind. I was watching Grant Cardone, and I don’t recommend any books except this one—it’s called The 10X Rule. You need to read it.
- 37:47 If I’m saying that I don’t recommend any books and this is the one book I recommend, take that seriously. Go read this book. It’s a really good book. He’s kind of crazy sometimes. He has some crazy videos, and he’s crazy on social media, but he also has some really good insights. I wade through what everyone else has to offer, and I glean the nuggets. This guy has a lot of gold nuggets to share, a lot of insights. One of the things he talked about was going to the bank and saying, “I want to pull out a million dollars in cash.” He has way more than a million dollars in the bank.
- 38:29 They couldn’t do it. It was going to take them a week or two to get the money, to actually get the cash. They had to order it. He said, “It didn’t take you that long to take it.” He goes on to talk about how, for every dollar the bank gets, they’re allowed to lend it out nine times. It’s nonsense, terrible stuff. These institutions do not exist because they have your best interest in mind. They have their own best interest in mind, literally. The systems were built with the systems in mind, and everything works the way they want it to work. You follow the system because you end up getting what you want, which is something that you can’t afford.
- 39:32 Ben: I watched that movie called The Big Short, and it was talking about the housing bubble and stuff like that. The most discouraging part was when you get to the end of the movie, where they say, “They’re calling it something else, but this is still happening.” People find out about this, uncover it, and blow it up, but then they don’t learn. It doesn’t matter.
We can’t change the entire system, but you get to decide how you’re going to interact with the system and the choices you’re going to make.
- 40:20 Sean: I’m saying that I’m excited by what Ben said and I’m encouraged by it, because it reminded me that it’s not hopeless. Not all hope is lost. It’s not that people are trapped in the system and that’s it, they’re not going to listen to reason. Just like everyone, just like me, we need to hear things multiple times. That’s why I’ve never been afraid to repeat things on this show. You hear a lot of shows where people say, “I’ve said this before,” and they shy away from it. They don’t want to touch it again because it’s something they already said.
- 40:53 We never shy away from that here. I will repeat myself until I’m blue in the face, because I want you to get it. I have your best interest in mind. I didn’t ever read the Rich Dad, Poor Dad book, but I heard it was really good. I want to be your Rich Dad. I want to give you the advice your parents wouldn’t give you because they have emotions involved and it’s subjective. I don’t care if it’s going to be hard for you, if it’s going to be tough. I want what’s best for you, and I want to help you get there.
Get Rid of Debt
- 41:30 That’s why I’m not afraid to challenge the status quo. What Ben said made me realize that we’re doing something good and there is hope for people. We just need to keep at it. I want you to see debt as a spider crawling up your shirt. How would you treat a spider crawling up your shirt?
- 42:03 Cory: I don’t know if the shirt would come off or not… I might have to rip the shirt off.
- 42:12 Sean: I’m talking about a big, hairy tarantula. This is a gnarly spider. I won’t be timid anymore. I want you to see debt as a spider crawling up your shirt and get rid of it as quickly as possible. I want all of your energy to be focused on getting rid of this debt, because you’re in a hole. You’re treading water. You’re in Scarcity Mindset, and you can’t make the kind of decisions you need to make. You can’t live the life you want to live, grow the business you want to grow, hire the people you want to hire, or give the people you appreciate bonuses and raises. What about that sounds good?
- 42:59 I’m speaking as someone who doesn’t have debt. I’ve just created this scenario where I psychologically trick myself into thinking that having less than six months of money in the bank is like debt, because it gives me that drive. I want you to have that drive. I don’t want you to live with this base level pain, this ache. When you have a rock in your shoe and you never take it out, it doesn’t feel good, but you’re so used to it that if someone comes up to you and asks how you’re feeling, you say, “I’m great!” You’re not thinking about the rock in your shoe, because it’s always there.
- 43:40 You see it as a base level annoyance that you have to live with. That’s how people are operating. They’re going through their lives thinking, “This is a minor inconvenience. That’s an annoyance.” Do people feel like I’m just ranting right now? Is this even beneficial?
- 44:04 Ben: I think it is, because I know the things you want for them, Sean. It’s not just, “Hey, get this in the bank. Get out of this idea of debt, get rid of the spider,” but it’s about all of the things people are capable of when they get to that point. It’s all of the things that are possible for someone when they get there, things that aren’t possible for them now because they don’t have that buffer.
- 44:38 Sean: I want you to be able to go to the bowling alley and enjoy yourself, and when you have a spider in your shirt, you don’t finish the rest of your workday. You don’t go to the grocery store. You don’t go hang out with your friends. You don’t go to the movies. You want to get rid of the spider under your shirt. That’s how I want you to see it.
When you’re in debt, don’t buy things, invest in the long game, go to events, or increase your debt.
- 45:19 I want it so bad for people, but I want them to want it, and I don’t know if that’s even possible.
- 45:26 Ben: I think people who are in debt or who do the month to month thing, whatever it is, think, “I don’t know when I’ll actually be able to afford this thing or afford to be able to have this experience. It could be weeks or it could be years. It could be more than a decade. I have no idea, and that’s a huge question mark in my future.” It’s not just about the discomfort, but it’s the idea of not experiencing something, so people think, “I may as well live it up now. I’m already in debt and I’m already so close to the line. What’s the difference?”
- 46:37 Sean: For the past year, I was basically doing, in a business sense, what I’m telling people not to do in a personal sense with debt. It’s not that I had debt, because I didn’t, but I didn’t have the money we needed to be able to make payroll and to make long term investments. The money coming in wasn’t equaling the money going out. There was a deficit, and I had to make up for it by working extra hard and hustling on the side. What am I doing? I buy things I can’t afford, essentially.
- 47:24 If I’m being honest, we are still alive because I have these spikes of revenue from launches and I even it all out. Number one, it’s just barely, and number two, I’m working something like three full time jobs to do it. That’s not good. I’ve lived a version of this, the situation you’re in, for the past year. I’m not prioritizing the cashflow and the money in the bank, and I’m investing, I’m buying things that I “can’t afford” because I’m not covering the short term.
Being in debt is not a life you want to live and it’s not a life I want to live.
- 48:08 That’s where this comes from. This is my goal. In fewer than six months, I’m going to make this happen. I’m going to get money in the bank, to where we’re at the new zero, and we can start thinking long term, making changes, and disrupting things at a level that we would never be able to get to in five or ten years going the way we did before where we’re trudging along without addressing the spider that’s under the shirt the whole time.
- 48:52 Ben: An example of this for me has been all of the things I’ve been investing time in. I’ve got a large family, and we already have a very limited amount of time. I was investing a good chunk of that time, into various things. With the rest of that time, I was barely making it through the month to month stuff. My mindset was really similar, “I’m going to invest in these things, and in the long run, it’s going to be great.” Part of the problem was that it wasn’t going to play out that way. I was eventually going to burn out.
Changes in seanwes
- 49:41 One of the changes on the network is that In the Boat With Ben is no longer going to be part of the seanwes network, and we’re going to record a show this Friday and we’ll talk more about what that means for us going forward. At least for the near future, we’re not going to be recording any new episodes for that. That was something I was investing time in that I couldn’t really afford to invest in. It’s really funny, the way the timing worked out. I was thinking all of these things before Sean sent me a text saying, “Everything has changed. When can you meet? Do you want to meet next Monday?”
- 50:27 I said, “No, let’s meet right now. You have to tell me all the things.” I had been thinking and trying to figure out what to do, because I felt like I was doing the wrong thing. I was eventually going to burn out, and we were not going to be able to make our monthly stuff, so we would have to make some major shifts. The things I was investing in, I wasn’t able to really invest in them the way I wanted to. I wasn’t able to make them the best version of what they should have been because of all my other constraints. I’m really thankful for the way that played out, because it pushed me into what I already knew I should do but I wasn’t ready to let go of yet.
- 51:23 Sean: That’s a little bit of some of the decisions that we’ve been making behind the scenes. We needed to make those decisions. I love the In the Boat With Ben show. I think it’s a great show. This was not an easy decision. The seanwes podcast is the highlight of my week and I love doing it, but we’re cutting it down to one a week. We’re not doing seanwes tv anymore. I thought that was the future, that it was going to be the biggest thing in 2016, but we had to focus what we’re about. What is our mission?
Our mission is to help people make a living with their passion and to do that seanwes is going to focus on business.
- 52:18 We always talk about curating what you share. We need to simplify this for people. Every time someone asks, “What is seanwes?” I struggle. That’s an indication. If someone asks you, “What do you do?” and you struggle, that’s a problem. It means that you have split focus. I realized that was true for us. We had split focus. I want to say that seanwes is about business. We help people build audience-driven businesses, and that’s what we focus on. When I step back and ask, “Is everything we’re doing helping us get to that point?” The answer was no.
- 52:58 seanwes tv wasn’t a part of it. Doing a bunch of free seanwes podcasts wasn’t a part of it, and unfortunately, as hard as it was, In the Boat With Ben wasn’t part of this narrowed focus on business specifically. Family is super important. It’s crucial. We talk about getting your spouse on board and spending time with them. I also think health and fitness is important. There are a lot of things that affect business, but as a company at seanwes, we can’t be about all of them.
- 53:41 Ben: People will put you in a box, but if you’re representing too many things, it’s difficult for them to know what box to put you in. You’re not going to be as effective. Sure, you can speak to a lot of different things, and you can cover a lot of people that way, but that prevents you from getting the depth you need to really make a difference. It’s similar to Sean’s What → Why → Whats concept.
- 54:26 Sean: You have to start with a “what,” something very specific and focused, to get people in. As they go deeper and they understand what you’re about and your “why,” those people will eventually follow you to other “whats,” other things you pursue. They understand your core mission. You can’t get to that point unless you start by curating something really focused in the beginning. One of the decisions we made was that everything we do has to make financial sense, and it has to serve the new, focused direction of the brand.
Getting Six Months of Income
- 55:05 The parallel there for today’s show is that, sometimes, that means cuts. We’re talking about getting six months of income in the bank, and there are two ways to get more money—one is to make it and one is to save it. Generally, I prefer to make more than save. I’d rather pay for a Starbucks coffee and use the time I saved to focus on my business to make more money. To me, it’s easier to focus on making money than it is to save, to ask, “Where can I cut out Starbucks, Netflix, or whatever?” You have to know this balance for yourself and know your time wasters.
When you are in Scarcity Mindset, you can’t afford luxuries, including saying yes to things that aren’t getting you where you want to go.
- 55:56 One of the good ways to contribute toward getting six months of income in the bank is by cutting back, by getting rid of expenses, and minimizing your cost of living, possibly downsizing.
- 56:15 Ben: It may not necessarily be the money that you’re spending. It could be the time you’re spending on stuff. That was definitely the case with In the Boat With Ben. Before Sean and I had that conversation, I was putting everything under the microscope: In the Boat With Ben, the seanwes podcast. I love doing all of these things, but I need to support my family and get us to a place where we can actually invest in those things in a healthy, meaningful way. We were able to do good work with In the Boat With Ben because of the support we had through the network, but there is so much more I can do with that in the future when we have that buffer built up.
- 57:09 Imagine what it looks like to be able to invest in something, and not just to do okay and get by in your personal finances, but to be so far ahead that you can really be creative. You can really pour yourself into something. Maybe taking a break from something now and picking it up a year later means that you can get farther with that in six months than you would be able to going for the next two or three years in the same arrangement. What if the growth you’re able to experience is stunted because you’re holding on, not willing to let go and focus on taking care of yourself for now, getting yourself to a place where you’re healthy enough to actually make a good investment and do something really meaningful with it?
When It’s Time to Break a Commitment
- 57:58 Sean: That was something that really fueled making these big changes. I’ll be revealing more of those in the coming weeks. What are we robbing the world of by not freeing ourselves up to be able to focus on something and create great work? We’ve been, admittedly, treading water. We’re fulfilling commitments we made years ago, when circumstances were different and goals were different. I want to be a person of my word and fulfill my commitments, and I said I was going to podcast twice a week (Related: e237 When Is the Best Time to Break a Commitment?). If I don’t do that, what will people think of me?
- 58:40 We don’t really dive deep into that and get at the heart of the issue, which is what we want to accomplish. It’s easier to just continue, to show up at the times you’ve always showed up and continue doing the same thing, even if it’s taking you in the wrong direction. The conclusion we got to in the episode on breaking commitments is that the right time to break a commitment is when the goals have changed. You no longer want to be driving in a direction that doesn’t take you where you want to go. If you start driving to New York City and you decide to vacation in San Fransisco, don’t keep driving on that highway just because you said, “We’re going to take I-10 East.”
- 59:33 Ben: People are very much held captive by the commitments they’ve made. They’re also held captive by sunken cost. They’re held captive by the idea that what they’re trying to get to is just around the corner, and if they just keep pressing on… It’s like when I can’t find one of my boys’ shoes. I’m trying to decide whether to send them to school in flip flops or whether to keep looking. We’re running out of time. We need to leave in five minutes. Don’t let those things hold you captive! It’s like Sean said.
Start with your goals and your goals can speak to your struggles with breaking a commitment.
- 1:00:22 Your goals are way more important than money you already put into this thing. That’s not a wasted experience if you abandoned it, because you learned things through that process, but you have to serve your goals. If you’ve made commitments to people, those people enjoy the value they get from you. You pursuing your goals is going to make it better for them in the long run.
- 1:00:49 Sean: Absolutely, although you will have detractors. I got a troll on Twitter. When I announced that we are switching to one podcast a week, this guy said, “Disappointed to hear you break commitments when your goals change. What about the goals of the people you serve?” Already, I disagree with him, because the time to break commitments is when your goals change. If you want to accomplish something, do the things it takes to get there. If you no longer want to be an Olympic swimmer, you don’t have to go to the pool three times a day. If you want to be a weight lifter, go to the gym.
- 1:01:38 Don’t say, “But I told my buddy that I’m going to meet him at 10, 12, and 4 at the pool. I have a commitment.” It’s no longer what you want to do. When the goal changes, change the commitment. Then he says, “What about the goals of the people you serve?” Number one, he’s a freeloader, so I’m dismissing him, but I’ll take his point. He’s arguing that if I decrease, I’m not helping people even more. Like I said earlier, how would you like zero seanwes podcasts a week? That’s where sticking to a three year old commitment was taking us. People take things for granted. They’re entitled. I sent this guy a link to the episode on when the right time is to break a commitment to give him some more context.
- 1:02:33 He says, “I already heard it. You missed the point. Your commitments are in front of people. There is no good time. If you break them, you fail.” Time to move on from this guy. Failure would be running the business into the ground and then there would be no more podcasts.
Working Backwards Toward Your Goals
- 1:03:47 Ben: Neither of us has six months of runway saved up, as of this recording. I saw this, and I immediately felt, “Oh man, I want that.” That’s not the experience I’ve had, but I have experienced what it’s like to have a little bit more than my monthly needs taken care of. If that little bit is any indication of what it would be like to have six months, I know I’m in for a huge treat with the kind of clarity and creativity that comes from that. I’m excited for those of you who listened to this episode and take it seriously, because there are really good things in store for you.
- 1:04:37 Sean: I’m going to report back. It’s happening. You’re going to hear me on this show tell you that I’ve reached it. It’s going to happen, and there are going to be big changes. You’ll see the changes. If I kept doing what I was doing, we would be in this position for months or years. We’re not getting ahead of it. We’re just treading water. Look at the two situations. Either I keep doing this for years, we never get ahead of it, I stress and work a lot, and things are not good… Or, later this year, we have six months income in the bank and everything is good.
- 1:05:30 That’s obviously the better solution. The thing I like about working backwards and reverse-engineering what it takes to get somewhere is that you start with the end in mind, and then you work backwards. What is it going to take to get there? If you want to do an Ironman like Aaron Dowd, he knows he has to train. If you have to get to the point where you’re doing an hour long bike ride every day, or however long, you probably need to get to the point where you’re doing 45 minutes a day a little bit before that. You’ll probably need to get to the point where you’re doing 30 minutes a day a little bit before that. Seeing that, you can’t run an Ironman by tomorrow, and you probably can’t do it by the next day.
- 1:06:18 I believe Aaron is already working on it. He’s going to do it either in 2018 or maybe as soon as 2017. He has a 60 week plan or something that he’s working on. He understands what it takes to get where he wants to go.
Knowing what you have to do and understanding how long those things take immediately informs all of the actions you’re taking on a day to day basis.
- 1:06:38 I found so much clarity in that. When we moved, this insane setup we have—preprocessing audio, backup recorders, live-streaming audio, live-streaming video… it’s pretty complicated. The old place where we lived before we moved was where we started the podcast in 2013.
- 1:07:12 We started out with a little Scarlett 2i2 audio interface and a couple of microphones, and we recorded in a room and put an MP3 out to the world. It wasn’t streamed live. It wasn’t fancy. Over the years, we added more and more. It got to a point where we’re doing some crazy stuff. The breaker would get tripped every show, so we started running an extension cord into the bathroom through the hallway to offload some of the stuff. One by one, we would test it, and we eventually got to a point to where the breaker wouldn’t get flipped when we did a live show.
- 1:08:08 It was this precarious, convoluted system. When we moved, we started over from scratch. It was fresh. Everything was audited, and we threw away a bunch of garbage. I gave away dozens of shirts, clothes I never wore, stuff that sat in closets that we never touched. We cleaned everything out, and we started building from the ground up. This cable is here because we need it and we’re planning it before we put everything together so it all makes sense. It feels so clean and so good. When I audited our business and I said, “We’re doing all these things that don’t make sense, and we’re going to stop doing them,” it has a similar refreshing feeling. Now, everything we’re doing makes sense.
- 1:09:26 Ben: Your day one doesn’t have to look like your day 900. There’s no way Sean could have come into doing podcasting the first time and set up everything as you see it right now. There’s so much value in taking a step out of your circumstances and taking a fresh look at what’s really essential. When you rebuild, like Sean did in this room, you do so with all of the knowledge you’ve gained over the years, and you have an opportunity to make it so much more efficient so it makes more sense for where you are right now. One day, this podcast and others like it are going to be recorded in an actual dedicated studio space that’s built around that.
- 1:10:29 We have no idea what that’s going to look like now, but there are steps between here and there. Moving into that new space, there are going to be things about the process that are going to change. They will be different because of the things we learn along the way.
- 1:10:51 Sean: I’ve never been more excited for the future. Ironically, it’s the time when I focus on the now that has made me excited for the future. Before, I have always been focused on the future, but it was a little too far out there. I didn’t have the dots connected between here and there, between where I am now and where I want to go. Getting those first few steps out in front of me—the cash in the bank, the new zero, the six months income—is making it more real. It’s good.