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How to Achieve Extraordinary Success in Podcasting According to Jay Papasan

How to Achieve Extraordinary Success in Podcasting According to Jay Papasan

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How are you doing in podcasting as a guest, host, or both?

Are you thinking big enough for your podcasting goals? Whether you’re a podcast guest or host, you have a goal you want to accomplish through your podcasting efforts. The sad truth is that, on both sides of the mic, most people quit before reaching their goals. Don’t let this be you! In this episode, join Alex Sanfilippo and Jay Papasan as they explore how to set bigger/better goals AND how to ensure that you accomplish them. Get ready to achieve extraordinary results in podcasting!

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Jay Papasan, welcome to Podcasting Made Simple. I am so excited to have you here with us today. Hey, I’m excited to be back. It’s great to see you, Alex. Yeah, man, you too. Before we start, I want to mention that you talked about the one thing we will get into today: the idea of content creation. Yeah. And I want to hear you riff about your passion for creating content because if anyone looks at your resume, what you’ve accomplished might not be the first thing somebody says you are, right? But that’s still how you identify, and that’s still your major one thing. Can you talk about that quickly? I want this to relate to podcasts, guests and hosts well.

Yeah, sure. I’ve always been a book nerd, right? That was where I escaped as a small seventh grader and nerdy, like playing Dungeons and Dragons. I’d read my books because I wasn’t that socially adept. I grew late turn, ed into an English major, which turned into being an editor in New York, working on books, and eventually, like where I kind of think of the two chapters of my life, I had this period where I thought, maybe I’m going to be an academic, maybe I’m going to be an editor, met my wife, we moved to Texas. I could have tried to get a job at the University of Texas, but I was turned off on academics after getting my master’s. Business is cutthroat, academics can be political, and I was also naive and young, so I wondered if everything was that way.

Unveiling the Creator Skills: Writing, Editing, and Building an Audience

But I was leaning more toward a writing career when I moved here, and I happened to partner with Gary Keller. We were able to write our first book in a little over 100 days; that book sold 1.6 million copies to date. That act of being someone who knew how to write, edit, curate content, and build an audience- all those skills, call it the creator skills. That’s what got me every opportunity that came after. I’ve partnered with Gary, one of the best entrepreneurs alive today, on multiple businesses.

My wife and I started investing, using the royalties from the books and the pay. We just learned a lot of great lessons from the books, and I know that’s the tip of the spear for me.

The Art of Creativity: Connecting the Dots and Building Success

So I have a coach, I’ve had a coach for, I guess, going on 14 years, and I’ve had multiple ones over the years, even though I get to work with Gary, and I have about five metrics, and two of them have not changed at all over that period. I have to read new books, and I have to write. I track my writing days and a certain amount of time for pure creativity.

A big block of time where I’m going in to create something or advance creating something. And then, like, how many books? I read about one a week, which averages about 45 a year. And a mentor said that if you want to be a professional writer, we’ll substitute a creator. It’s all about creativity, and creativity in his mind was connecting the dots. As a professional, you need to be professional about having more dots than the average person to connect.

Read, and read with purpose. And so I think of those as the two things that help me show up and be able to write regularly. I have a weekly newsletter, I have a monthly personal newsletter, I’m writing books, I’m working on podcasts, I’m doing all those things, but that writing time that I block religiously and the reading of fascinating nonfiction and business books is the fuel that makes everything else happen.

Podcasting Realities: The Fourfold Challenge of Entrepreneurship vs. Podcasting

Entrepreneurship and even being in real estate in any sense of the way or any sense of the method of how you do that, right? It can go into this as well. And I wanted you to share a little bit about how you, first and foremost, are a content creator. You also are running and managing, if you will, a handful of podcasts within your organization. So, you understand this well. And something interesting, here’s a fun fact: podcasting has a four times greater failure rate than starting a business.

So, if you’re trying to become an entrepreneur or start a business, you’re four times more likely, based on a two-year timeframe, to make it as a business owner than you are as a podcaster, which is very interesting to me. I did this extensive report on the math and stuff like that. So again, I’m excited that we found a way to make this work because it will be valuable. And the best place to start is to give us a brief overview of where we’re going today with this concept of the one thing. We could have called the book Focus on What Matters, and nobody would have bought it.

“So, if you’re trying to become an entrepreneur or start a business, you’re four times more likely, based on a two-year timeframe, to make it as a business owner than you are as a podcaster, which is very interesting to me.” – Jay Papasan

What’s the One Thing?

Because people thought, well, what’s the one thing, right? It had that intriguing question mark. But Gary’s superpower, you know, my co-author, Gary Keller, founded Keller Williams, his superpower has always been he will work hard to identify what the number one priority is, then work hard to ask what’s the most leveraged activity we can do to make that outcome happen for our number one priority.

And then he will dedicate more time, resources, and energy than almost anyone else to making that happen. And that has been the pattern in all of his successes. It’s been the pattern in my big successes that you identify the thing that matters most. We’ve all heard of the 80-20 rule. This is just that on steroids. Identify the 20% of the 20% of the 20%. You keep asking, what’s the 20% until you get to one? And then that becomes your number one priority. It’s the first thing you tackle each day.

Time Blocking

You block time for it, meaning you make an appointment with yourself to do that, not just with other people, if it’s not collaborative, and you stick with it until it’s almost automatic. And that’s the essence of what we’re talking about. And there are all kinds of challenges; there is all kinds of junk the world throws at us that can distract us. It’s tough to say no. It’s tough to tap in and manage the chaos while you’re focused on one thing. So, it is straightforward in principle.

And it is incredibly challenging to live. But it is a theme in their life when I study the most successful businesses, authors, creators, business people, and individual contributors. If you start looking under the hood and picking it apart, you’re like, oh, they focused on this, and this is the thing that helped them get to the elbow of the curve and hit extraordinary success.

Man, I’m so excited to dive into this today. I’m excited about diving into this. We will go through the three main topics or categories covering this, if you will. It’s the lies, the truths, and the unleashing of extraordinary results. And again, I’m thrilled to go into this. We’re going to go section by section.

Debunking the Lies: Why Not Everything Matters Equally in Content Creation

So, the first section is the lies. This is one that I want to cover and have you dive into here that I hear all the time from podcasts, guests, and hosts. And it’s when I ask them, okay, like, what are you focused on right now? They’re like, well, everything, because everything matters, right? And you even say in the book that everything doesn’t matter equally, right? The lie is that everything matters the same. And can you talk about why this isn’t true even for us as content creators? And I’ll also add why it’s a challenge, right? As a solopreneur or entrepreneur, if you’ve got a job and this is your side gig, there’s a massive list of things that have to get done. Right, if you’re a podcast, you’ve got to be booking out, you’ve got to be planning your content, you’ve got to be recording it, got to be editing it, you’ve got to be posting, you’ve got to be promoting it, right? All of the things. And so it can be so easy to be constantly in triage mode.

“As a solopreneur or entrepreneur, if you’ve got a job and this is your side gig, there’s a massive list of things that have to get done.” – Jay Papasan

And so I don’t think people argue that everything matters equally. That’s just how they end up. And when you are just going through your to-do list and trying to cross off as many things as you can, jumping from meeting to meeting, got two screens up the whole thing, you’re inherently treating everything as it matters equally. So, the trick is what we talked about earlier.

Pareto Principle

I want to use Pareto’s principle, the 80-20. I want to turn my to-do list into a successful one. So, of all the things I will use this week. It could be a month, it could be a day. Like when looking at what must be done for the week. What are all the things that have to get done? I’m assuming a lot of your audience is creating a weekly. That is the most common. What are all the things that have to get done this week? Well, now prioritize it.

So go through the list, which is usually long, and circle the mission-critical ones. These are the things that matter. Right, did I prepare the guest? Did I record the content? Like what are the handful of things that if you don’t do, you’re not just failing your face planning? Now go to that shorter list. I’ve done this with thousands and thousands of people. Most people can fill up an entire page, about 25 to-dos, in about five minutes.

“So go through the list, which is usually long, and circle the mission-critical ones. These are the things that matter.” – Jay Papasan

Entrepreneurs like there are plenty of tasks awaiting their attention. Once we do this initial, what are the things on that list that matter? They’re not just urgent and must be done, like checking my inbox. These are the big things. There are usually only about four to six. Let’s call it five. Now, you take that list and say, if I could only do one thing this week, what would that be to hit my bigger goal? That becomes your number one.

Ask the Question

And then you subtly change the question and say, after I do my number one, nail it, and I still have time and resources, what would be my number two? After asking that question just a handful of times, they’ve now gone from this giant list of stuff, and inherently, when we have the giant list, we don’t look for the most important. We look for the thing that we can cross off the fastest. And I’m guilty of that. Like, I want to stop thinking about this thing.

I want it off my plate and out of my mind. And so you’re looking for psychological relief. The flip is now you’ve got a concise list of the mission-critical, and you’ve identified your number one. Well, when you look at your calendar, the first thing that goes on that week is that number one. Ensure you have 200% as much time as you think you’ll need because we know it always takes longer. You show up to be creative and don’t have a thought in your head.

You fought with your partner that morning; your dog peed on the carpet, right? Whatever happened, you’re distracted and not really in the mode. So, you over-dedicate time to your number one and then work through the list. And I’ll tell you, when I get up and knock out my number one thing, I walk the rest of the day lighter. Like I feel liberated. So there’s nothing if we only talk about one lie; it’s that one that is the essence of the book.

Identify What Matters and Prioritize Them

And how you treat it is you take your list of things you know you have to do and turn it into a success list. And that is simply identifying the things that truly matter, prioritizing them, and then attacking them in that order. Man, I’ve heard you say that doing the most important thing is always the most important thing. And I found that to be so true. I quoted Stephen Covey because that was his original, and it’s misquoting him. Is it okay? Whatever. I love that guy.

“… take your list of things you know you have to do and turn it into a success list. And that is simply identifying the things that truly matter, prioritizing them, and then attacking them in that order. “ – Jay Papasan

So I got it from there as well. I don’t know. I thought I heard you say that, but somebody said it. Um, you’re on that same tier. How good is that? Right? You can’t beat that. Well, I’ll say this because there you’ve got listeners, a new audience to the book. Some original ideas exist, but many take Timeless truths about achieving more. We put them in a framework and sold three million copies today. Do people find it accessible?

Right? All we’ve done is give them a fresh perspective and approach to things they knew they should have been doing. But we put it in a framework that people can follow. That’s why I love hearing that. I got waverings that were both pretty original in her hat. I want to dive into this section before we move on. They’re essential. They might be a little bit more rapid-fire here for everybody. So take notes, please.

Our Tendency to Check Things Off

First off, you kind of already touched on a little bit about the podcaster or the guest or host that likes to check things off a list for a host that tends to be I am getting through all the administrative stuff for the guests, booking as many shows as humanly possible as fast as possible. I’m asking that one for a friend. I don’t struggle with Inbox Zero. I don’t know why you’re asking that. But what do you say to somebody, like, can we go a little bit more on this because I see that happen just so much that we’re too busy to focus on that success list because we have the to-do list that must be done in our minds? I’ve got a whole soapbox about Inbox Zero. Is that where you want me to go? Because I can, I’ve written about it multiple times.

The only reason to do inbox zero is if you’re in customer service and your inbox is full of customer service requests, or if it’s just psychological, you can only function with it. However, I need perfect meeting attendance, timely email correspondence, or inbox zero. I’ve never seen those correlate to extraordinary success. And if you’re polite, I want to be punctual. It can be a real struggle.

Repetitive Tasks

But that’s part of the chaos you must let lie fallow while working on your one thing. So my whole approach to things like that, like email, kind of repetitive task where essential things can be buried, and that’s part of the anxiety, is I batch it. Hopefully, you’ve heard of batching. It could be a Pomodoro method, but after I’d looked at my goals and calendar in the morning, I hung out with my wife, which is one of the last things I do.

“So my whole approach to things like that, like email, kind of repetitive task where essential things can be buried, and that’s part of the anxiety, is I batch it.” – Jay Papasan

I quickly review my emails before hopping in the car to go to my office. I would like to know if something shows up overnight that changes my day. A cancellation is a new priority that I have to account for, and I try to send out emails or Slack messages, the same thing that puts my priorities out in the world. Most of what’s on Slack and an email is somebody else’s priority. Let’s just be clear.

And so I send it out, usually around lunch. I usually have a 30-minute time block at lunch, but I meal prep to have at least one consistently healthy meal every day. I have such a volume that my executive assistant usually has to assist me. And then I try to do it at the end of the day. And because I’ve built the habit of checking in regularly.

There is No Ticking Clock

I know that there’s no ticking time bomb that will sit for more than three or four business hours. And when I get in there, I’m just playing a game. How much can I knock out in the 20 minutes that I have? I do tiny time blocks and batch them for things that still have to be done but are generally a lower priority. But if you open your inbox with no hard stop, it’s like a time machine.

“I do tiny time blocks and batch them for things that still have to be done but are generally a lower priority. But if you open your inbox with no hard stop, it’s like a time machine”. – Jay Papasan

You can catch up, and you’re playing the game of, I want no notifications on my Slack board. Like, I want to take everything bold and turn it gray. No, no, don’t do that, right? You do that in tiny bits, but that’s different from what will make you extraordinarily successful. That’s so helpful. I need to hear this all the time. So thank you. That was hard for me. And hopefully, for others as well, I got something out of that. And that goes beyond just our inbox, our Slack channels, that goes into.

Multitasking Myth: Why Focusing on Your Number One Thing is Key to Success

As we’ve been talking about, we have all the tasks we have to do. The last thing in this section, really fast here, is multitasking. Again, on both sides of the mic, I hear people saying they’re good at multitasking, but the science says that’s not true. We can unpack this a long way, or they can just read the chapter, but it has been proven that no one is a good multitasker.

“I hear people saying they’re good at multitasking, but the science says that’s not true.” – Jay Papasan

Less than 2% of the population is categorized as supertaskers. And really, it’s not saying they’re good at it; they’re just not horrible at it. When you’re multitasking, you’ll usually lose about 10 IQ points. And 10 IQ points is the difference between genius and quite intelligent, between quite clever and not bright. And you look up, and you’re like, oh, that’s a big difference.

You also create a lot more loose ends. If you look up and have 150 tabs open, that’s a multitasking product. Whenever you start multiple things, you’re less likely to finish any of them. And I don’t know, I go on and on. So here’s the thing: I’ve got a phone, and you’ve got one. I’ve got- I mean- all the devices that- I’ve got two screens. The world is programmed.

You Don’t Have to Check in On Things Constantly

Toto encourages us to check in on things constantly. That’s how a lot of these platforms win. As a podcaster, nobody sits silently at their desk and takes notes. They’re walking the dog or driving the car. It is a background activity while they’re doing something else. That’s normal. Whatever your number one was, my encouragement is, can you not multitask while doing that? Your number one thing for work.

If your number one thing as a parent is book time or bath time, leave your phone downstairs when you go to the kid’s bedroom. Give that your full attention, even for 30 minutes, and you’ll get much more done. The people you’re with, if it’s with other people, recognize how much more present you are. Listening is one of the ultimate gifts you can give someone. And so, try to focus on your task when doing your number one. If you’re a podcast host, for God’s sake, don’t multitask while you’re recording a podcast. Hit record and trust that everything will work. Only monitor some of the levels the entire time.

“The people you’re with, if it’s with other people, recognize how much more present you are. Listening is one of the ultimate gifts you can give someone.” – Jay Papasan

Well, I just shut down my inbox, Jay. I’ve maintained zero since we’ve been here together, and now I just shut it down. So thank you, I’m just kidding. By the way, the tab thing will start a cord with somebody. Grab the book if you want to want to dive more into this side of it. But I’m a one-tab type of guy. Other people in my life are like, hey, I have six windows open with 35 tabs on each, right? So, I digress. I use a thing called WorkOna, and it’s a Chrome plugin where you can create different workspaces.

Keep Minimal Tabs Open

So my podcast is, I only have one tab, and it’s this: Riverside. I can’t see anything else. My writing tab, I’ve got the Hemingway app, I’ve got a thing that’ll tell me, that’s for helping me edit, I’ve got one that’ll tell me how long of a read it is, I’ve got different of my power thesaurus, I have the tools I use there, I have a quotes repository, a story idea repository, but that’s all I’ve got. So, I curate my workspaces to optimize the work time. So I’m not kudos to you if you only have one tab.

If you look across all my workspaces, I have a hundred. But I limit it to those things in a work zone. So, I’m not tempted to look on Twitter. I’m not tempted to look on social media to see how that last post is doing. That’s a different tab group. And I go there when that’s my focus. I like that. It’s smart. The way I do it, I didn’t realize some tools could help, but I’m going to go check that out. Work on that.

“I’m not tempted to look on social media to see how that last post is doing. That’s a different tab group. And I go there when that’s my focus.” – Jay Papasan

Have a Calendar

The way I’ve done it is I have a calendar. I follow my calendar every day. That’s where I block out my time and my calendar inside of it; the notes have all the links I’m allowed to open at that time. So I’ll open those up, typically two to three, and go through them quickly. So it works for me. Everyone’s different, but that works for me. No, that’s beautiful and elegant, right? I love that you said that. I salute that you’re letting your calendar be your boss. Right.

If you’ve looked at your priorities and your calendar reflects them, follow them. Yeah. Right? It takes me 30 minutes at the beginning of the week to align my calendar with my priorities. Because multiple organizations ask for my time, I have a VA and an EA helping me. But everybody here can afford a VA, at the very least, if that’s your challenge. Could you move this time block?

Most people are relieved when you cancel. I’m sorry. Maybe not all podcasts toast because that was the content they needed that week. True, true. But most people are thankful. So yeah, work from your calendar, but make your calendar reflect your priorities. That is as simple as you can put it, Alex. It’s great. I love that. All right, we have to move on to section two here. We’re going to go long today, everybody. So enjoy this episode. I was like telling Jay- Or make it two. But let’s go for 25 minutes. Now, we’re going to go a little longer than that, but section two here, getting into it, is the truth.

The One Thing Principle: Identifying Priorities for Extraordinary Success

And this is where you introduce the focusing question of the one thing. If you still need to memorize it, say it. If not, I’m going to read it. I might mess it up because it can be a little bit here. So if you got it, are you ready? Yeah. What’s the one thing I can do so that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary? So, I’ll unpack that. It’s a long question. But you can get a powerful answer if you ask a powerful question. So, we took time to work on the question. And it came from Gary’s coaching clients.

“What’s the one thing I can do so that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” – Jay Papasan

A history behind it needs to be added to the book. But what’s the one thing I can do? So the first thing you’re asking your brain is for the one thing. And if you’ve taught it what that means, the most leveraged activity, then your brain is good at guessing the answer. Most of us know the answer; we just aren’t doing it. They can do it differently from would do, should do, right? All those things could be done because you need whatever you can.

That I currently take action on. What’s the one thing that could save me time while doing business travel? I could get my pilot’s license. That’s a multi-year journey, so it will take much work this year. It doesn’t mean you don’t pursue it. Doing it will make everything else more accessible and necessary, which is the ultimate leverage clause. You’re trying to look for that thing.

Delegate or Eliminate

It’s the most significant lever in your current arsenal, so much so that it can diminish the importance of many other tasks so that they don’t have to take up much of your time; you can delegate or eliminate them. I look at someone like James Clear, one of the most successful business authors ever. For 12 years, his one thing was building his blog and email list. And then he wrote a great book.

Just a handful of things he focuses on have given him extraordinary success. This is a great example that we can dive into further. You talk about how James Clear is a great example, 12 years of, yes, building a great blog, building a great email list. Like obviously, that propelled him, and the book itself was incredible. But so many of us are in the creator economy.

We see the success of someone like James Clear and say how do I get there fast. I always give the example of going to football. I’m not like I can’t name any players or anything like that. Still, people get it, and here’s the thing: most fantastic football players live off one’s name, Jerry Rice, a well-known football player, one of the greatest and severs of time. No one knew who he was in his first eighteen years of playing football. No one had any clue. Still, if he hadn’t done that eighteen years ago, he would have never had the name that he had.

The Power of Compounding: Why Time is Your Greatest Asset

James Clear, same thing. If he hadn’t done those 12 years of hard work, that could have been the same book, but no one would have, and the right people wouldn’t have seen it. Let’s put it that way. Yeah. What do you say to somebody saying, okay, I get the one thing, but why does it take so much time? Because that’s the nature of compounding, right? I would love for my stock portfolio to compound faster, but the number one lever is time.

For example, if I am talking to a kid who’s 21 years old. He wants to be a millionaire; that’s a straightforward recipe if he can wait till he’s 55. It’s straightforward to be a millionaire if you’ve got that much time. If you’re 50 and must be a millionaire by 55, that’s a lot of activity to get there. So I don’t ever want to say things aren’t possible. When you shorten the timeframe, a lot of things become improbable.

And the number one thing that becomes unprobable is extraordinary success. Some people get it because they’re lucky, but that’s not something you can count on. James Clear was not lucky. He wasn’t. I was reading his blog while we were writing the book. That’s how far back it went. I got to hang out with them before the book came out because I was a fan. But that was like, what? A few hundred thousand people were cult followers of his blog.

Atomic Habits

But when his book launched, he was selling like 2000 copies a week, which is where the one thing was at that time. Through the luck he got, it would have sold millions no matter what. I think he’s up to 10 million now or something. When COVID hit, timing found him. Here, he had launched, with a lot of momentum, a very accessible book about building habits and then changing and improving your life. It’s a very accessible book.

He launched it when he could have never predicted it. Just five months later, the world would shut down. People would need more than their hour commute. And they had all this time to work on themselves. And that became the book. He went from 2,000 copies a week at the beginning of that to 2020 to 35,000 copies a week. Now, let me just be obvious. If you’re 2,000 and growing, you will sell a million copies, which is the height of success as a book publisher. He got to compound that because he did everything, and luck found him. So, like, he’s a great example.

Businesses Aren’t an Overnight Success

I’ve studied hundreds of businesses. They aren’t overnight successes. Somebody worked in a garage for a decade before tinkering with the prototype. But we see them in the media and assume that it happened fast because of the elbow of the curve, right? When things start growing fast, about that eight to the 12-year mark.

“I’ve studied hundreds of businesses. They aren’t overnight successes. Somebody worked in a garage for a decade before tinkering with the prototype.” – Jay Papasan

It looks like it’s exploding. Our brains can’t understand compounding math. I do this exercise with my investor classes. We will invest this much monthly or yearly at an 8% interest rate. How much do you think that’ll be in 10, 20, or 40 years? And it always blows people’s minds because they, just like our brains, aren’t equipped for that level of growth. And that’s what we see, and we go, I want that. Well, guess what? You have to do the groundwork first.

Navigating Course Corrections: When to Stay the Course and When to Pivot

Yeah, man, that’s well said. I wanted to ask you about course correcting. And I bring that up because there’s the old talk about if you launch a rocket and you’re trying to hit the moon, you could be hundreds of miles off quickly if you don’t aim precisely right. Suppose it needs to be corrected. And I find that so many content creators and podcasters, on either side of the mic, they decided to do course correcting, which is like, I was doing this by stopping, and now I’m going to do this because it didn’t seem to be getting the traction. And maybe that’s wise, but it can’t always be wise.

How long should you stay the course, and when should you know if you’re heading in the right direction? So, great question. I love this question, and I don’t know that anybody’s ever asked me in this context, so thank you. That’s a gift.

The 411 on Goal Achievement: Breaking Down Big Goals into Manageable Steps

At Rocket to the Moon, when NASA, please, I hope everybody believes we landed on the moon. But I bumped into someone who’s like; I don’t buy that. I’m like, I can’t convince you, I’m sorry. However, the engineers said the rocket was only on course about 2% of the time. But what they did was they made lots of micro-corrections. So when I am goal setting, we have a tool called the 411, where you list your annual goals.

Each month, you say, what do I have to do this month to be on track for my annual goals? And each week, you say, what do I have to do this week to be on track for my month, which, by the way, would put you on track for your year. Keep it with me everywhere I go. If you’re checking in every week, you’re just like the moonshot. You’re making micro-corrections. So, you are constantly adjusting. You always have to meet the market where it is. There are always little opportunities to tweak.

“Each month, you say, what do I have to do this month to be on track for my annual goals? And each week, you say, what do I have to do this week to be on track for my month, which, by the way, would put you on track for your year.” – Jay Papasan

The other end of that is that the overall strategy I’m pursuing needs to be fixed. And that’s a hard decision. One of my early co-founders in the business, after about two years of grinding, the progress was happening slowly, and he wanted to switch. And at that point, I bought in. The cost of that strategy was different from what I wanted to pay. And we could very quickly move to a new strategy. We were moving from course sales to a community.

Switching from Course Sales to Community

About 12 months later, he wanted to switch from that. And do you remember when we switched from course sales to community? We had gotten about a 10th-grade education in that strategy over a year. The day we switched, we were back in kindergarten. So you have to be very, very careful of switching all the time. Like everything, you didn’t know about the strategy that wasn’t working, like you were course-correcting that whole time. Like you were fixing lots of little problems. Now you’ve got that whole journey ahead of you as well. I am very cautious about the significant shift because I understand how much momentum you lose when you do it.

But I also know that companies that don’t reinvent themselves every seven to ten years, like the great musicians that are just reinventing themselves, coming out with new kinds of music, new kinds of stuff, if you’re not evolving, you will die. So the tension is there, right? The tension is there. Listen to the market, watch your numbers, and ask how we are doing and how much change is required. But don’t be a fad surfer.

Don’t Jump from Fad to Fad

That is the thing that you want to get on my wrong side fast. It’s that person who jumps from fad to fad to fad. They get all the novelty and excitement of doing the new thing and saying, oh, look, I’m doing a cold plunge. Oh, look, I got a sauna. Oh, look, I got this, right? I’m jumping on whatever the trend is. But you also look up and are like, but you always stick to something, right? So you have to be very wary of novelty. I want a sauna. So I don’t know what you’ll think of me after that. They’re accommodating.

“That is the thing that you want to get on my wrong side fast. It’s that person who jumps from fad to fad to fad. They get all the novelty and excitement of doing the new thing. . .” – Jay Papasan

I do tease all the cold-plunge people. I’ve never done that. That doesn’t seem attractive. I know many people I love and respect who do it, and they love it, but I’m also not a cross-fitter. I’ve to rebuild my body every day. I do exercises like the older man that I am, and I lift, but my little massage gun and a heating pad are enough for me. Don’t have to torture myself, and I do a lot of hard things on my own.

Goal Setting to the Now: How to Reverse Engineer Your Success

I love it, man. This is a great transition, not that part, but before that was a great transition to section three here because this whole course correcting idea, you can talk about this from the sense of living by priority, goal setting to the now, as you call it in the book. How can we start implementing this? This is how we unleash these extraordinary results. So the mistake everybody makes is that they say, what are my goals each year? And they look at where they are, and they look at where they think they can get. And that is how.

Most people and most companies set their goals. And the challenge is that you have all of these options, and you don’t need to, ultimately taking you where you want to go. So goal setting to the now is just backward planning. The military uses it, and lots of different places have used it. You go way out in the future. We teach people to say, someday, what do you want your life to look like? And that’s challenging, right? Because you’re now way beyond the range of any crystal ball. You’re just like life by design.

What Do You Want Life to Look Like

What do I want my life to look like? Based on that, what are your finances, what does your job day look like, what does your health look like, and what would you have to achieve in five years to feel like you were on track for that? Great, you write those five-year targets down. I’m going to call them goals targets because they could change. But right now, that’s your best guess of that goal that feels approachable for five years. That is directly en route to where you want to go.

Then you move backward and say, based on my five-year goal, not the someday, what would I have to achieve in one year to feel like I was on track for that? You write that down. Then what would I have to do this month to be on track for my year, this week to be on track for my month, and today to be on track for my week? You’re working backward; that’s how we know. I want to be a best-selling author, but I’ve never written a day. You can create a plan based on that.

“Then you move backward and say, based on my five-year goal, not the someday, what would I have to achieve in one year to feel like I was on track for that?” – Jay Papasan

Don’t Go in the Wrong Direction

That lets you know this week that you’re behaving in a manner that might get you there. Otherwise, you could be chasing some low-hanging fruit that’s like a way to make a lot of money in the next few months, taking you in the opposite direction of where your life ultimately needs to go. So when you set goals for the year, let them be milestones on a more extensive journey. And, where do I have to get this year to feel like I’m on track for where I ultimately want to go?

And, like, you only sometimes get to have a great year. As this year sucked for real estate, then when we’re talking about this conversation, it might suck when this podcast comes out in the next year. Right? Imperfect markets come and go. It’s very predictable. That’s what’s called a cycle. So you can only have your best year sometimes, but you can design a great career. And that’s the difference. Work backward from a big goal. It’s the essence of so much in the book. And I mean, I wish I’d learned this in high school.

I didn’t know how to break down giant goals so that I knew I was making some tangible progress each day. Man, to throw out a Covey quote, I’m going to give Covey some credit here, but begin with the end in mind. Yeah. The end in mind doesn’t mean like the little project you’re in, the year you’re in, or even the decade you’re in. Like, think about where you want your life to go. And what is podcasting? We’ll go ahead and relate it down to who we’re talking to today.

The Art of Saying No: Mastering the Skill That Unleashes Extraordinary Results

What will podcasting help you get there, and how does that flow? Man, this is just such a powerful point. One more thing on this before we close out here today. What you don’t do matters as much as what you do when you want to unleash extraordinary results. However, saying no is just so challenging for people, especially in content creation, for whatever reason. We feel like we’re, I think this is why, and I’m unpacking this as I’m saying it, but it’s because we.

“What you don’t do matters as much as what you do when you want to unleash extraordinary results.” – Jay Papasan

You are signed up to serve people. We signed up because we wanted to help. And saying no is the opposite of doing what we signed up for. Can you? This needs to be put in the right place with extraordinary results, but it’s essential to discuss it. Do you have any thoughts on that, and can you make that fit with what I just shared? Well, what comes later in the book are the thieves of productivity. And the very first one is the inability to say no. Right? If you make fewer commitments, you will be spread thin, and everything will be expected.

And we quoted Steve Jobs, you know, every yes has to be protected by a thousand no’s. And so, I ask people when you’re talking about your one thing: think about getting married. When you said, I do, hopefully, you inherently knew that saying yes to this person meant saying no to everybody else. We all get that. Right? How can we have more yeses like that in our life? That is because we’re so committed.

It Becomes Easy to Say No

It becomes easy to say no, or we’re driven to say no even when it’s not easy. But the skill of saying no is something that you also have to develop. I wrote an article. I have a little weekly newsletter called The 20 Percenter, and the title is 11 Ways to Say No Without Saying No. And often, when an opportunity shows up, it’s not that we need to say no; we need to say no now.

Right now, I have a different priority. I would love to do that, but I need to do that at a time that doesn’t conflict. What are all the ways I can push it into the future? I can put conditions on my yes. That when I say yes, it aligns with where I’m going. And like the most straightforward way, when someone comes by and gives you an assignment, if you’re in a cubicle somewhere, the instinct is to ask when you need this. And if it’s your boss, what are they going to say? As soon as possible. That’s just the nature of the people in charge. They want it sooner than later.

“I can put conditions on my yes. That when I say yes, it aligns with where I’m going.” – Jay Papasan

You Don’t Have to Answer Right Away

So I usually teach my team, I just said, why don’t you say, great, I’ve got this. You can trust me. Can I reevaluate next Tuesday and give you my answer? You’ve automatically bought some arbitrary amount of time between seven and one day, and you’re like, most of the time, they will say yes because it’s not urgent; they must get it off their plate and onto yours.

So, a few simple tactics can go a long, long way. I let my calendar say no because I’ve blocked it from my priorities. You’ve experienced this; you had to get on my calendar with my assistants. We moved this meeting multiple times because I’m very clear about how my time gets used, and I try to be polite and apologetic about it.

But like people say, hey, can you do it at that time? And I’ll say, I’m sorry, I’ve already got another commitment. I don’t say, hey, I’m writing at that time, because they’re going to say, well, could you write earlier or later? Most people assume that is a commitment to another person, and it is a 1% person who thinks so much of themselves that they will ask you to move that.

From FOMO to JOMO: Finding Joy in Missing Out

So, a few tactics can help you say no without feeling bad about it. If you are feeling FOMO, like you’re losing out on opportunities, it’s about moving it into the future or a time when you can give it thoughtful consideration.

Here’s a rule: never say yes in social media or text messages. It would help if you had more context. Move it to your inbox or move it to another thing. I will get back to you next Tuesday, whatever it is, so you can look and ensure I am saying yes to something. Because I’m afraid that text message, I’ll lose it, right?

“Here’s a rule: never say yes in social media or text messages. It would help if you had more context. Move it to your inbox or move it to another thing.” – Jay Papasan

How do I get it out of this brief zone into something I can think about? That’s like a skill; it’s all just skills. And as an entrepreneur, a solo entrepreneur, a podcast host, a podcast guest, whatever, if you can master that, you will go much farther than your competitors. I love that man. DHH, who I interviewed recently, said that moving from FOMO to JOMO is the joy of missing out instead of the fear of missing out. Oh yeah.

There is some wisdom there, for sure. I’m an introvert, so that comes to me naturally. Nice. Man, Jay, I’ve enjoyed this time so much. Before we end here, I want your final thoughts on this idea. I’ve heard you talk about thinking more extensively because that holistically brings this whole thing together. So, for your final thought for us today, talk about thinking bigger for a moment. We all need someone to help us think more significant for our lives. It’s hard to read the label from inside the box. That’s why I have coaches.

Harnessing the Gift of Thinking Big: Overcoming Failure and Setting Ambitious Goals

And I need someone in my life asking if that’s all possible for you. So, thinking big is a gift, especially if you can overcome failure. Because if you set a goal to do 100 widgets, you might do it, but you will usually need to catch up. You could think big and aim higher. And when you aim higher, well, you know what? I’m going to build a thousand widgets this year. Awesome. Yeah, that means you’ll have to have different relationships with people.

Different tools, different systems, different models. What you’re doing is you’re upgrading your foundation to be appropriate for the goal. If I run a 5K, I could use my old tennis shoes. If I’m going to run an ultra marathon, I’m going to have to get a running coach; I’m going to have to get the best equipment because I know if I’m running 50 kilometers or whatever that is like, I’m going to do damage to myself if I’m running in Converse. I need the best shoes.

Think of Possibilities

So, you immediately upgrade your models because the goal is more significant. And even if you fall short, you’re often farther along than you will ever get by thinking safe and only dealing with what you believe is possible today. You want to think of possibilities, what could be possible for me, and aim high. It’ll upgrade your life in a short amount of time. My gift is Gary. Gary always pushed my wife Wendy and me to think more significantly about our lives.

And he didn’t say; he wasn’t condescending. Is that all you can do? He would be very encouraging. It’s like, I think you can shoot for more. We can go for more than that. And he modeled it every day. So that’s a gift to think bigger. And a lot of us don’t get the gift of that person in our life. We have to do that for ourselves. So, make it a rule. Every time you set a goal, triple it. I love that. JFL, you just gave us all that gift today. So, let’s all get out of here and think more about our lives and what we want to do.

Jay, man, thank you so, so much for the time, dude. I had a blast with you. Thank you. It’s always fun, Alex. Thank you for having me.


About Jay Papasan

Jay Papasan is a bestselling author who serves as the Vice President of Strategic Content for Keller Williams Realty International, the world’s largest real estate company. He also cofounded KellerINK and Produktive with Gary Keller, and is a principal owner, with his wife Wendy, of Papasan Properties Group in Austin, Texas.


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