The easy reps don’t count

I don’t count my sit ups.  I only start counting when it starts hurting.  That is when I start counting because then it really counts.  That’s what makes you a champion.

Muhammad Ali

The easy reps don’t count.

If you are to make a success of yourself in this life, you must embody this mindset.

Everyone can do the easy reps.

The first 10 sit ups.  The first 20 lines of code.  The first 50 pages of a new book.  Anyone with moderate ability and application can do these.

If you want to excel beyond the average person, you must re-frame your thinking and re-base your starting point to where it first counts.

The point when it starts hurting.  This is no ground zero.  This is where your game starts.

Investing principles and your competitive advantage

When making an investment, one of the first things that I look for in a company is a competitive advantage.

A factor or a characteristic that tips the economic odds in the company’s favour. Something that makes the probability of success much greater than 50%.

A company needs something that helps it win in the market.

One of the big mistakes that many people make is forgetting that they are almost always in competition.  You are in competition in business, in your love life and in your commitment to your health.

If you are to win in the game of life, you must be better than the competition.  

You must find a way to outcompete them.

Your competition – whether it is another business, another guy that is flirting with a girl you like or another player on the pitch – they are all playing the same game as you.  They are also trying to win.

Whatever you find easy, assume that they also find it easy.

In a 90 minute football (soccer) game, the real game starts 70 minutes in.

70 minutes is when the competition starts to get tired.  If you can continue pushing past 70 minutes, this is when you can start to tip the odds in your favour.  

The amount of effort that you put in after 70 minutes is your competitive advantage.

This is how you win.

Embrace and enjoy the pain

You should welcome the pain.

The pain that arrives when you have been working for 12 hours already.  When you have been running for 70 minutes already.  When you have been shot down 3 times already.

It is the desire to give up.  To quit.  To surrender.

When the pain arrives, you should rejoice.  You are now in the “making a difference” territory.

The pain signals not the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning.

The work starts now.

As does the learning.  As does the growth.

For those who ask not for a lighter burden but for broader shoulders, the work you do after the pain starts is what helps you grow those shoulders.

This alone should be enough motivation to carry on.  But for those who want something more practical, here is what I suggest.

One Two weird tricks to help you dig deep

OK they are not so much weird tricks, as two separate concepts for the world of sport and the world of business that I have mashed together.

1. The Power10

There is a rowing term that I like called a “Power 10.”

When a rowing team is nearing the finish line or has fallen slightly behind, the cox (skipper of the rowing boat) will raise a call for a Power 10.

This means every rower on the boat puts in 10 extra hard strokes to finish off the race or to attempt to regain the lead.

Our minds are not good at putting in maximum effort constantly.  But it is much easier to put in maximum effort for a defined time.

A Power 10 can be applied to anything.

5 more miles running.  2 more A/B test on your ad campaigns. 3 more companies analysed for investment.  1 more approach to a new attractive woman.

Just give it full effort for a little extra time.

2. Contingent reward

This concept I have borrowed from my job as an investment banker.

For those who don’t know, as an investment banker, I help entrepreneurs sell their business.  I do other things but let’s stick with the sale example for now.

If the company sells, I get a percentage of the sale value of a company.

Say my fee is 1%. If I sell a company for $100m, I get $1m.  But if I work a bit harder, and find a way to sell it for $150m, I get $1.5m.

The harder I work and the better I do, the higher my reward is.  My incentives are fully aligned with the clients.

You can create this same structure in whatever you are doing.  

Whatever reward you want, whether it is slices of pizza, beers or even just an hour off with a favourite book, you can give yourself this reward, but based on the level of effort you put in.

The reward should be set on an increasing scale based on the additional effort you put in, after it becomes difficult.

An example

Let’s put these two together, and give an example.

Let’s say you are creating a new info product.  

You have been grafting away for 10 hours that day already.  You are tired. You want to give in and go and watch some Netflix.

You are at the point where most ordinary people would give up and congratulate themselves for the 10 hours worked that day.

But not you.  You know that the competition is dropping away.  You are in the red zone now.  The point of making a difference and getting ahead.

You call a Power10.  

Give me an extra 2,000 words tonight.  For every additional 500 words you write tonight, you earn a slice of Pizza on Saturday.

The combination when used with a reward that you actually want can work wonders.

The whole world works on incentive structures, but so often we don’t put any effort into thinking about how we incentivise ourselves.

You must create an incentive structure that allows you to push beyond the point where it hurts.  

Only when doing this, can you enjoy the reps that really count.

Let me know in the comments if you have any tips for digging deep and smashing through the pain.


30 life lessons now I’m 30

I’m clearly not the first person to do this, but I just couldn’t help myself.

Here are the 30 things that I have learned from my first 30 years on the planet. These are probably most relevant to the young guns in their early and mid 20s.

This is my list:

1. You never know as much as you think

At 18 I thought “I know everything. Everyone else is an idiot.” At 21, I thought, “No, now I know everything.” At 25, I thought, “Boy, was I wrong at 21. Because, actually it’s only now that I know everything.”

At 30, I now feel like “Christ, I still don’t have a fucking clue.”

I do, of course, have a fucking clue. But as your knowledge expands, the amount that you realise you don’t know expands at 10x the rate.

You have not properly matured until you realise that the amount you don’t know eclipses what you do know.

2. Start early on your network

The majority of game changing business and personal opportunities will come from your personal and professional network.

Your network is an incredible asset that no one else can copy. You will have a unique set of connections and can build unique levels of trust with the key people.

Keep in touch with as many people as you can. Connect as many people as you can. Keep doing it and never give up.

3. There are plenty of idiots in high positions

I have been fortunate enough in my line of business to spend time with quite a few C-suite executives and have attended / presented at several board meetings.

You would be amazed at how many C-suite executives are not overly competent.

Just because someone makes it up to the top, doesn’t mean that they are the smartest person in the room. Many times it is the opposite.

Almost all of them heavily lean on their “number 2” that does almost all of the leg work.

4. Intelligence is not the key predictor of success

Intelligence and being smart is very important. You wont get far without it. But in today’s competitive world, it is kind of a given.

Social skills and dealing with people is the most important skill set needed for massive success.

From day 1 in a business you need to be able to deal with people and sell them on you and your business.

Before you are 10 years into a proper career working for someone else if that is the route you choose, you will find yourself under pressure to start generating new business or revenue for the firm.

Quite quickly, everything become sales, and you need to be able to deal with people to sell.

5. It gets harder to keep up with technology

When you are in your early 20’s, you adapt to new technology with ease. But as you get older, you would not believe how easily you can fall behind.

When you are young, you typically you do not have much invested in old technologies.

But once you have 5 years experience using a particularly type of software for example, it becomes harder to switch and learn from scratch, even if the new software is better.

You need to actively fight this impulse.

6. Destroy your ego as fast as you can

Many, many destructive behaviours can be traced back to your ego.

It is not always obvious, and you may use your ability to think on your feet to justify why you didn’t approach a girl or why now is not the time to start a business for example.

This is all just ego protection.

You need to move past this quickly and embrace rejection and failure.

7. Even your friends may not want you to win

Depending on who your friends are, they may not always have your best interests at heart.

They may intentionally or unintentionally sabotage you so that you do not succeed ahead of them.

You will learn over time how to cut these people out.

Give everyone the benefit of the doubt for now, but if you sense that someone isn’t happy to see you succeed, then you need to ruthlessly remove them from your life.

8. Raise your hand for the $5 note

Don’t be afraid to accept things that are offered to you.

If someone says raise your hand and I’ll give you $5, you should raise your hand as fast as you can.

Perhaps this wont affect everyone, but I suffered for a long time wanting to do and achieve everything myself.

This is admirable… but mis-guided.

Don’t be reliant on freebies or hand outs, but accept them when offered.

9. No one cares about you or thinks you are special

No one in the world, barring perhaps your parents and spouse, cares about you.

No one cares if you succeed or fall by the way side.

No one will take care of you.

No one will make sure that you have what you need.

Children have someone to look after them. Adult men do not.

You and you alone are responsible for yourself.

10. Your first attempt will fail

Whatever you do and whatever you try, unless you have an incredible gift, you will likely fail at the first try.

You may also fail at the next 100 tries.

This sounds obvious and of course it is. But its so easy to forget it when you are failing for the 52nd time and you are at the point of giving up.

You must keep going if its an important goal.

11. Social issues are a waste of time

Spending your time arguing or debating politics or social issues is a waste of your time.

Who cares whether gender is a social construct. Who cares if sexuality is fluid.

That is all just noise invented by people with little else to concern themselves with.

You will do yourself a favour to avoid these issues and focus on improving yourself and your station in life.

Be selfish and let others deal with this stuff.

12. The easy bit doesn’t count

Life is a competition. You are competing against the next guy that is trying to do the same thing as you.

All else being equal, if you find something easy, there is a good chance that someone else does as well.

Imagine you are in a rowing race. The first 950m are easy. The last 50m are hard.

Most people will row about 960m and give up. They will congratulate themselves for getting so far into the race.

This is wrong.

Anyone can row the first 950m. The race starts from 950m on wards.

That is the only bit that counts and you must adapt into this frame of thinking.

13. Approach and fuck as many woman as you can

When you are young, there is no reason not to approach and fuck as many woman as you can.

You need to get that out of your system.

I have seen guys settle down with the first girl that will go out with them. It gets pretty ugly when they are 5 years into the relationship and start looking at hookers out of desperation.

You must not dedicate your life to chasing women. This is not helpful to your bigger goals. Equally though, you must develop some game and experience with the opposite sex.

14. Understand whether you can try drugs

I don’t know what it is that separates the habitual addict from the casual user. But I do know it is extremely important to know which side of the line you are on.

If you are not confident that you can prevent yourself from getting addicted to substances, then you must not even try them once.

If you believe you can prevent them from taking over your life, then go ahead and feel free to use them up to once per quarter.

The minute it starts to affect your abilities to work on yourself and build your business, you should quit forever. Its literally that black and white.

15. Do not get anyone pregnant

You must not have any unplanned pregnancies.

Again, its obvious. But what is obvious now is very easy to forget when you are in the heat of the moment and find yourself one condom short.

Don’t be stupid.

Having a kid at a young age doesn’t completely screw your entire life. It just sets you back about 10 years and makes it 10x harder.

16. The game never stops

In almost every game, there is no end to the hustle.

Even when you business is established, you still need to be out selling and generating new business.

Even when you are ripped, you still need to keep working out.

Even when you are married, you still need to game your wife regularly.

There is no “set it and forget it” in life. Everything needs some level of constant work and attention.

17. Delegating is hard

When you start out in life, you are doing everything.

You are doing everything in your business. You are managing your entire personal life. You are managing your household.

As life progresses, you may start to get others to help out with your cause.

For many, their first taste of delegation will be employees (or most likely cheap outsourced labour on Fiverr or whatever.

You will learn quickly that no one does things to your standard. You will also learn how hard it is to properly explain what you want done.

You will be frustrated to no end when you first start delegating. Stick with it though and you will need this leverage as time goes on.

18. Research less and just do it

Smart young people often fall into the trap of researching the hell out of everything.

“I am smart therefore I can figure this out from research.”

Totally understandable but largely a waste of time.

You need to spend your time trying and not reading. Just start.

19. Focus on wealth creation, not wealth extraction

With a rabid desire to get rich that many young guns have, ethics can go out the window. All you care about is getting as much fast money for yourself as possible.

This is a mindset of extracting value from someone else instead of creating value for everyone.

This attitude is short term at best.

You need to focus on giving something valuable. Creating value takes longer but the rewards compound over time.

20. There are no secrets

There are generally very few secrets to anything nowadays.

There is no secret to “getting the girl”. There is no secret to getting a six pack. There is certainly no secret to getting rich.

You would do yourself a massive favour if you stop immediately should you still be looking for these secrets.

There is the odd “insider tip” but this adds on perhaps an extra 1% to your performance.

In today’s age, information is so widely distributed that if there truly were secrets, they would be so widely known such that they are now just called information.

Also, it goes without saying, no one will sell you the secrets in an ebook for $49.

21. Always be the first to say Hi

I always wondered how some people get chatting to people so easily. I wondered why don’t people speak to me as often.

It took a while to figure out that the most important factor that makes someone “social” is that they initiate conversations. Constantly.

Most people are waiting for the other person to open the conversation.

You should take the lead.

22. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion

In school, when the teacher asks “does anyone know the answer” this is typically followed by a large silence.

The same thing happens in professional work places. The same thing happens at industry events when the speaker asks if there are questions. The same thing happens in almost every environment. Lots of people are afraid the be the first to speak up.

This moment of silence is a golden opportunity to be the one that speaks up first.

You should be that person.

23. Don’t be jealous of others

Some people’s lives look awesome.

They may have been born with great height and an incredible jawline. Some look like they have a huge group of friends. Some people have incredible ability to sell stuff.

It’s natural to feel a bit of jealousy.

But you have no idea what is going on in other peoples lives.

You are typically only jealous of one small piece without taking into account the rest of their lives.

You could conceivably be jealous of Warren Buffett’s business success but his personal life is “un-conventional” at best and certainly not one that many would want to emulate.

Always remember this.

24. Don’t get swept away by the hype

Some people have a tremendous hype around them.

The Elon Musks The Jeff Bezos’. The Warren Buffetts.

You know these names and you know how great they are. Without question, they are top tier world class individuals at what they do.

But all three of them have to get up in the morning and take a shit like everyone else.

Everyone is human at the end of the day.

Don’t let someones reputation turn them into a god. Treat everyone like they are a fellow human and avoid the star struck pandering.

25. Get started on developing skills on day 1

There is no time to waste when it comes to developing valuable skills for wealth creation.

Whether it is a bit of design work, coding or finance skills. It doesn’t matter.

You must get started on developing your skills and putting them into practice as soon as you can.

“I’ll just focus on college then I will start trying to create a side hustle” is not acceptable.

26. Start on your work ethic

Work ethic is something that is learned. There is no caveman gene that gives us work ethic.

Some people may learn work ethic early due to their life circumstances (growing up poor perhaps).

Some people only learn it after they get burned from slacking off.

Whatever you situation is, you need to develop a strong work ethic. It is important to have the ability to work from the moment you wake until the moment you lay your head down at night.

Working a low paid manual job will show you what work ethic really is. A job where you are physically exhausted by the time you finish.

I recommend doing this for a short period of time as a learning experience.

27. Don’t be a round peg in a square hole

There are bound to be things that are not from you.

You shouldn’t dedicate your life to investing if you are not wired to understand numbers.

Likewise, you shouldn’t dedicate your life to marketing if you hate creating new ideas.

You need to find what you are good at and what you are naturally drawn to.

If it is clear that you are not suited to what you are doing, change it.

The most important thing is that you find something you are good at and start excelling at it early on so you can get ahead of the pack.

28. Don’t be led by others for too long

Having a boss is fine. Most people need some kind of leader when they are learning the ropes.

It is fine also to have a boss as you get older.

But you must create a situation where you have a material amount of sovereignty in your day to day life. You must break free of constantly being dictated too by others.

This will allow you to develop and become your own leader in your chosen field.

Baring jobs such as the military, a man who takes orders all day slowly loses the ability to make decisions in other areas of his life.

29. Learn to cook and clean

Basic life skills.

Not glamorous at all. Ideally you will outsource these eventually.

But you must learn to take care of yourself.

A child needs someone to cook and clean for them. A man doesn’t.

30. Don’t be too hard on yourself

When you are young gun, grinding your way to the top of your own mountain, it can be tough to see how far you have come.

You are constantly looking forward. You are constantly chasing the levels of success that others around you appear to have.

You can easily start to beat on yourself for not having made it already.

Don’t be too hard on yourself.

Stay the course. Your time will come.

What do you think about these lessons? Agree or disagree?