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Rebooting, The Last Wall & Overcoming My Fears

Burn the Boats if you want to advance in life

What’s going on? This is the longest stretch where I haven’t posted in a long while. So, here’s the news: I became submerged in work plus my 4-Hour Workweek pursuit after mid-February and I need to put my things back on track before I go on, which should happen somewhere in April next month. I’ll then be refocusing and rebooting soon this blog into it’s 3.0 version along with a few other really great projects.

This post is split in 2 parts: getting to the 4-Hour Workweek, Blog pause & reboot.

The Last Wall to the 4-Hour Workweek

In 2005, after my university degree, if I’d had stopped school and hopped on a government job, like everybody around me, I would have never learned everything that I learned in those 9 years and would be bored to tears doing a job I hate. Luckily, I chose the hardest path possible, even if it was REALLY hard on many long stretches. In those 9 years, I started 2 businesses, tried to get products and services off the ground but never “launched”, I’ve done everything in the web business from cold calls to meeting clients to programming, design, database, SEO and so on. All this lead to now: I’m on the edge of the 4-Hour Workweek, working like crazy to solve the last pieces of the puzzle, overcoming my fears and pushing the last walls.

But there is still one major problem: I’m staying in my comfort zone and procrastinating doing things that really scare me but that would be the ultimate no-look-back push toward my life goals… And as long as I will take the easy route, nothing good will ever happen. That’s why it’s time for…

The Ultimate Challenge: Burn the Boats

Since mid February and for March and April, I gave myself the ultimate challenge: succeed or… Well, succeed. For the first time I didn’t take on any new client jobs since I was really tired (read: close to burnout) of building websites, of doing endless nights of programming, graphic design, etc and felt like all I was doing was going around in circle, never improving and doing something not gratifying that I really hated. So I decided to go all-in and burn the boats behind me in order to push myself outside my comfort zone by giving me no other options. The problem is that when you’re in your comfort zone and working 70+ hours per week, you’re never improving, don’t have time to do what you want and in my case wasn’t doing much money either. This meant that:

If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got. It’s so simple, so why do I do that? One word: COMFORT.

The thing is that I know everything I need to know to make it to the 4-Hour Workweek. I know all the tactics, programming, SEO tricks, tools, websites to post on, split testing, etc and I have had a lot of experience from my last 10 years in web design. But something is keeping me from starting: I’m scared. I’m scared of going outside, knocking on doors, meeting people (cold approach) and selling my ideas to those people FIRST AND asking for MONEY. I find that terrifying and I’ve always tried to skip that step and hope I could just hide behind a keyboard like Zuckerberg.

Now people think that you can start something from scratch on a website and throw some Adwords to it and BAM! Money come pouring in… Well it’s not that easy. Unless you have thousands of dollars available to test and tons of hours for A/B testing and building different products until it works, by FAR the best way to get the ball going is to get your hands dirty: meet people, pre-sell your ideas and start from there. And that’s the scary part that I always avoided.

And from 2004 to 2011 I did that in style: every time I had a great project with ton of potential, I would take the easy way out and put my head down and program for months on end. And of course it didn’t work, mostly because I was so perfectionist that I ended up stumbling upon complex programming problem and putting it aside… forever. They call that “perfect preparing” and it’s also the best way to avoid things that truly make you uncomfortable even if it would ultimately allow you to test the viability of a project right away.

But I’m fed-up of this habit and it’s time for me to change.

Lately, in my daily reports, I kept asking myself this question: “Can I sell something useful RIGHT now that people would want and make thousands of dollars with it within 2 weeks?” The answer was always YES. “So why don’t I do THAT instead of a billion complex things that bring nothing or next to nothing?” I kept finding REALLY GREAT reasons for that: I need to prepare too much stuff it could take too long before starting, I need a program to sell to the customer and that takes time, etc.

Give Yourself No Way Out, Otherwise It Will Never Happen

They say that necessity is the mother of invention and I can’t agree enough. For this ultimate challenge, I’ve inspired myself from Tim Ferriss 1993 exchange program to Japan where he had NO CHOICE but to learn Japanese if he wanted to succeed at school.

When you are under massive stress with impossible deadlines and no option out, it appears that impossible things tend to happen: YOU FIND A WAY OUT. If you can’t solve something with normal thinking because you have no time, no tools and none of the usual EASY options, it’s at that point that you start thinking outside the box. But the biggest problem with that is:

Nobody wants to throw themselves in glacial water unless an outside force push them to.

And in order to achieve my life goals, I think that at any point I’ll HAVE to do these things, meet these people, sell them my ideas, and so forth. So let’s do that NOW. Overcoming my fears by giving myself no other way out, will be, I’m SURE, the best thing to happen to my life, ever. So although this is certainly the most stressful point of my life so far, it’s time to fly. What are those things I’m always avoiding or pushing away?

  • meeting business owners in person to propose to sell something. In the past, I always chose to program, prepare, plan, talk about it and then never launch a project before.
  • building a new product DRAFT or MVP in ONE DAY and RIGHT away finding a MARKET for it: when meeting clients, this implies saying:
    • “If I build this new project of mine that could help your business in x and y way, would you be interested in it?”
    • If yes, then “I’ll sell it at X $, but if you preorder it, you get the pre-launch price of 40% off, can you cut me a check now?”
    • If no, then “Ok, what is missing to this offer to make this the ultimate value you CAN’T SAY NO to?” The client answers, then you make the changes and come back to the first question.
  • selling a product that is not perfect, to my standards. The crazy things is that when clients PAY for that product, it means that for them it’s perfect enough. And more than that: they have no clue about “what’s missing that you wish was there”. Therefore SHIP that product ASAP!

Jobs, Branson & Gates Shipped. Period.

One of the reason that I want to go this route is that pretty much all biographies and stories of successful people that I read say the same thing: they had a SIMPLE product, a DEMAND for it, and they went door to door, met people and SOLD their product even if it was unfinished, imperfect, not what they wanted, etc. These people I’m alluring to are Steve Jobs with the incomplete computer Apple I that you needed to assemble yourself, Bill Gates when he sold BASIC to IBM, Richard Branson with Virgin Records and so on.

I don’t want to do that because it scares me and I’d rather wash my dishes, clean my apartment, program (which I truly dread) or anything else. And just like Tim Ferriss said in his book the 4-Hour Workweek: “The things that make you the most uncomfortable or anxious are the things that you should do and that would make you progress the most”. Game on.

And this is what lead to my absenteeism on this blog since mid-February. I’m currently working on overcoming my fears and meeting people and asking questions and I had one positive answer, now it’s time to monetize. I’ll report on that once I get developments, but so far it looks good. I also worked on 5 muses at the same time and am in the process of launching officially one that have gathered a lot of interest and almost-daily subscriptions to it with ZERO marketing.

Sell What People ALREADY Want

What I learned with my many muse tests is that i saw how some muses could get no traction whatsoever even if I threw tons of money in ads at it… while other where EMPTY WordPress sites with a few empty pages with only a page title and they got great traffic after only a few days (with an EMPTY site!!). So this make me realize one thing:

If you choose your value proposition or the right market at the right time, you’ll have amazing, quick GROWTH with almost no effort. Great things that are in demand MARKET THEMSELVES. So stop hacking at the wrong stuff.

In other words, if your blog, muse, product, service, etc is bad or has no market-fit, no amount of work will make it work. But on the other hand, if you choose the right idea and TEST quickly the market, you can easily make thousands of dollars with a very simple idea. And this is what I’ll be working on until it works. More on that later.


Blog Pause Until April

So for now and until somewhere in April, I’ll be either not blogging at all or doing so very sporadically. I want to focus entirely on overcoming my fears and launching my first big project that really passionate me and leaving this 80-hours a week crazy web design gig that is driving me nuts. Because of it, I never have time for anything else, so I must generate revenues NOW in order to focus on what i truly love to do. I also paused all challenges and reports except training, since being healthy and feeling great is the most important thing in my mind that will help me achieve success. I just absolutely don’t have time for 4 challenges at once if I’m not generating enough revenues from a muse beforehand.

Lessons Learned

I learned SO MUCH in those 3 months and a half since starting officially this blog, it’s amazing. One of those things I learned was the importance of GETTING STARTED and “shipping” a product, ANYTHING and seeing where it goes. If you’re like me, then you probably have hundred of ideas left and right and always want to improve things as you go or “perfect prepare” (and never start). That can be a good or bad thing, and that depends on what are your bigger goals, where you’re going and what’s the direction you want to take. For me, at this point in time, it’s a good thing since it allows me to try many different theories, projects and other ventures until I find something that I really want to stick to. The last thing I want is to start ONE thing and stick to it for 2 years before quitting out of boredom with zero results.

At first, since I didn’t know exactly what to do or how to do it, I just blogged anything that came to my mind at the moment, life experiences and so on. But as I learned more, interacted with other people and tested a few muses, I soon saw that I was missing a key thing: a clear value proposition.

Why should people come back on my blog? What is the recurring, interesting theme that people want to hear about? So I put on paper things that interested me and that had a lot of people looking for it already. I didn’t want to put so much time on something that most people aren’t even looking for when I could be talking about things that nobody is giving them.

Blog Reboot

I want to post on what i want and care, but instead of randomly doing everything, i want to focus my energies on things that can help people, that can go viral, become parts of a bigger thing I could then package together and generate some revenues as well as help people. The goal is to have a CLEAR direction, clear goals to work toward. I like to reboot often and steer my ship in the right direction as soon as I learn a bit more and this is what I’m doing here.

Although I’ll plan my new ventures very carefully to make sure that I stick to it, I have a few things coming that I think will REALLY rock. One of them, which I’ll call “project A” for now, is about interviewing 52 entrepreneurs or successful people with a very short (15 minutes or less) interview, a set of very precise questions meant to teach us how they learned from key events and how we can learn too. Then I have many interesting challenges that could push me and also go viral. More details on that when I’m ready to reboot. But this is exciting-scary!

Ray William Johnson’s Equal 3

Today was Ray William Johnson last episode of Equals 3, his very popular YouTube show seen by over 2.7 billion people so far and 12 million subscribers. I just wanted to end with this, since like me, you, he started very simple and totally unknown before reaching stardom.

He started with a vlog called “Capitol Hill Gansta” somewhere in 2007 or 2008. Never heard of it? Me neither, until today. He then transitioned to his hugely popular show Equals 3 and other ventures and pilots that were also very successful. And now, he’s moving on to new projects, so good luck with your new ventures, Ray!

Ray William Johnson 2008 Capitol Hill Gangsta vlog

That’s it: get started, get going, overcome your fears! We all start at zero and fail a lot. But for the ones that work harder than the rest, that push boundaries, fail more often and have the no-quit attitude then the only possible outcome is this: SUCCESS.

Good luck and see you soon!



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Joel Alain is on a quest to the 4 Hour Workweek Lifestyle, Accelerated Growth & Meta Learning. He rejects status quo and the so called "common sense" and creates his own vision of reality. The goal being to live the life you've imagined, no matter how crazy that is. Hop in.
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