Earlier this week, we talked about what it would be like to lose everything, and I told you that only one mindset is essential for building yourself back up.
If you’re grateful for what you have, even at your lowest moments, you can overcome any obstacle. Even the seemingly insurmountable ones.
Many of you also started a gratitude journal with me, live on Hack The System (look at all the awesome responses).
All this is great. But let’s get real for a minute: After gratitude has to come ACTION.
We’re not going to get from where we are to where we want to be by sitting crosslegged in our fuzzy pink slippers with a soft candle flickering and Beethoven in the background.
This is Hack The System. We don’t believe in “The Secret.” We believe in making shit happen. Period.
Here’s a secret for you: Do work
A tactical breakdown from the “bottom”
Here’s the situation: Imagine I’m myself, but I make an average salary, have no special connections, no Stanford education, no brother, no nothing.
Let’s also assume I live in an expensive city like NYC or LA.
The point here is to strip away all perceived advantages — and also to show you that coming from the bottom has little to do with circumstance and almost everything to do with strategies (and tactics).
How would I get back to where I am today — the owner of several successful businesses, the creator of a blog with a hundred thousand+ readers and the CEO of a new tech startup?
Step 1: Identify exactly what you want
The first step to pulling yourself up is figuring out what you really want.
So what do you want to be? Who do you want to become?
If I wanted to end up exactly where I am now — I’d be extremely specific.
It’s vital to have clear picture of the result you want to achieve.
- “I want to start a successful dropshipping business that generates X in revenue per month.”
- “I want to start a consulting firm that has X number of clients.”
- “I want to start a blog that has Z subscribers and generates money passively.”
Whatever the goal is, get granular.
Sometimes your focus will wane, sometimes you’ll get distracted or become less productive. But having some guiding principles, or specific goals to reach for, are key to long term success.
Step 2: Surround yourself with the right people (in the right place)
You have to find people who are doing what you want to do and become friends with them. Period.
As much as your own will power (and primarily, your habits) determine your outcome, so too do the people you surround yourself with.
Tim Ferriss and I
Do you live in an area where you’re likely to meet people who share your interests and can ELEVATE you from where you are to where you want to be?
For example, if you want to be an entrepreneur…but you’re living in Wisconsin…are you in the best environment for growth?
You might consider areas with higher concentrations of young people making things happen, such as:
- New York
- San Francisco
- Los Angeles
If you’re in Europe:
Is living in a “trendy” location a prerequisite for success? No. But you’d be surprised how much it helps. Eventually, if you start putting yourself in the right place, you’re bound to make connections that just wouldn’t be possible back home in Wisconsin.
A great place to start meeting people is a co-working space or incubator, like Bolt. A few days just hanging around these people and you start to make friends, get great ideas, and gain access to resources you didn’t have before.
It’s not that hard — you can literally just show up and start talking to people. Try it. You’ll learn a lot!
Step 3: Build a following
You’ve located yourself in an area where opportunities are plentiful, and you’ve started to make friends. Excellent. Now it’s time to build your following.
There are many ways to do this. You can start a blog, a YouTube channel, or a podcast.
But you have to build a list of people and position yourself at the top.
I’d recommend starting with an email list via a blog. For all the Chicken Littles crying the end of email, it’s still going stronger than ever. You probably got this post delivered to you in an email today.
If I wanted to start Hack The System all over again, I’d start by meeting everyone that I could in the blogging space and aligning myself with people who were doing the best work.
(Notice how it’s all about meeting people and making connections? This is a pervasive theme with success in any discipline.)
The easiest way to meet high-value people is to interview them. I talked about this process extensively in my article on the Sex Scandal Technique.
I identified all the top bloggers I wanted to connect with, started a podcast, got a camera and went across the country to their doors for an interview. I made great friends, and high-powered allies who support my work to this day. Check out this interview I did with Scott H. Young in 2012.
Bonus: Not only do things like interviews help you form relationships with high-value individuals, they also create great content that you can use to start growing your newsletter explosively. (Did you see my detailed Think Traffic article on this?)
NOTE: These concepts — finding friends, connecting with allies, building a following — are NOT just useful for building a blog. You can literally use them to start any business or career imaginable. I’m only referring to blogging here because it’s what I would do if I had to start over again. But you can use these strategies and tactics in any field. Remember that.
Now, you’ve met friends in your city, made some high-powered allies and started a following.
Step 4: Find a world-class coach
Now you need someone to help guide you through the pitfalls in your chosen industry. You need to find someone who has already accomplished what you’d like to do.
Having a mentor guide you through a difficult task can speed up your development 3X, 5X, even 10X simply because you’re not wasting your time on things that don’t matter. You can focus all your attention on the things that do and get immediate feedback when you’re doing something wrong.
The best way to find a mentor is to ask the new group of friends and allies you cultivated. They’ll be able to point you in the direction of reliable people in your space.
Step 5: Get paying clients
By now, you have all the tools you need. You’ve built a small network and generated a following. Even if it’s not big, it’s something. It counts.
Now, you need to start generating revenue.
If I wanted to generate $4,000 – $5,000/month to cover my basic expenses, I’d leverage my blog to get paying clients.
- You can consult people on your specialty.
- You can create and sell digital products.
- You can even generate ad revenue.
You’d be surprised how easy it is to make money from a few simple blog posts — like my roommate, an accountant, who generate $3,000-4,000/month on average because potential clients find his relevant blog posts in a google search and hire him.
It’s not rocket science. Just start writing.
The best way to get new clients is from existing clients. So once you get a few clients, ask them to refer you to others who may need your services.
It’s simpler than it seems.
And remember this: Never stop meeting people. Your success is dependent on your ability to make meaningful connections.
Have you ever had to start over again from zero? What did you do? Let me know in the comments.