[00:00:12.4] MB: Welcome to The Science of Success. I’m your host, Matt Bodnar. I’m an entrepreneur and investor in Nashville Tennessee and I’m obsessed with the mindset of success and the psychology of performance. I’ve read hundreds of books, conducted countless hours of research and study and I’m going to take you on a journey into the human mind and what makes peak performers tick, with a focus on always having our discussions rooted in psychological research and scientific fact. Not opinion.
In this episode, we talk about execution, how to break down big goals into actionable steps. How and why Neil Patel hired a mom up for himself, the 10 minute rule that could help you achieve huge productivity gains, and how to optimize your life to free up huge amounts of time with entrepreneur Neil Patel. Because the Science of Success has spread across the globe with more than 550,000 downloads, listeners in over a hundred countries, hitting number one in New and Noteworthy and more, I give away something awesome to my listeners every single month.
This month I’m giving away $100 Amazon gift card to one lucky listener. All you have to do to be entered to win is to text the word “smarter” to the number 44222. Again, that’s “smarter” to 44222 and if you want 10, yes 10 extra entries into the giveaway, leave a positive review on iTunes and email me a screenshot of that review to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In our previous episode, we explore the link between trauma, mental health, learning disabilities and genius. Looked at a number of historical figures and how they harnessed struggles like depression and ADHD to achieve world changing results and examine the practical steps to overcome your struggles today with Dr. Gale Saltz. If you think you have a challenge you can’t overcome, listen to that episode.
[0:02:08.1] MB: Today, we have another awesome guest on the show, Neil Patel. Neil is the cofounder of Crazy Egg, Hello Bar and Kissmetrics. The Wall Street Journal called him “a top influencer on the web”. Forbes says he is one of the top 10 online marketers, entrepreneur magazine says he created one of the hundred most brilliant companies in the world. He was recognized as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by president Obama and as one of the top 100 entrepreneurs under the age of 35 by the United Nations. Neil has also been awarded congressional recognition form the United States House of Representatives.
Neil, welcome to the science of success.
[0:02:45.4] NP: Thanks for having me.
[0:02:47.1] MB: Well we’re very excited to have you on here. To kind of get started, obviously have an amazing background. For listeners who may not be familiar, tell us a little bit about you and your story?
[0:02:57.2] NP: Sure, just a serial entrepreneur, started off at the age of 16 looking for a job, couldn’t find one, decided to create my own job. Failed miserably for many reasons but one of the main reasons was I didn’t know how to get traffic to the site. So eventually I learned how to drive traffic to the site, still couldn’t figure out how to make money but I decided that, “You know what? It’s just better if I do consulting from marketing perspective for other people.”
Got good at it, got value, they referred me to more clients. Eventually started a consulting agency, then from there I realized I hate it but through the whole process I learned that these companies don’t know how to optimize their site for conversions and sales and they don’t know how to look at metrics and that’s how I started my software journey and started focusing on optimizing for conversions and SAS sales, et cetera.
So that’s pretty much the gamut of my entrepreneurial journey. I also blog too, right? Which some people know, some people don’t, at Quick Sprout and neilpatel.com.
[0:03:54.4] MB: So in a recent interview, Tai Lopez asked you, "What are you the best in the world at?” What was your answer?
[0:04:00.7] NP: I don’t remember. That was, I did that interview a while ago.
[0:04:03.3] MB: All right, that’s fine.
[0:04:05.1] NP: I’m good at driving traffic to a website. I don’t know if that’s what I said but that’s probably what I’m really good at, driving traffic to a website. I’m good at converting those visitors into customers and I’m really good at learning from mistakes and executing really fast.
[0:04:17.9] MB: Yeah, so executing was the answer that you gave him. And I’m curious, how do you execute and for people who are struggling with execution, what do you think they could do to improve?
[0:04:29.8] NP: The biggest problem with execution is people look at these big giant tasks and they’re like, “Okay, we’re going to get this done.” It’s too big. But what I found is when people on small bite sized tasks, like I want to just purely focus on hypothetically let’s say you’re trying to build a bigger audience. Then you break that down to smaller tasks. Okay, SEO could be one of them, social media could be one of them, and blogging could be another one. And then you’re like, “Okay, let’s tackle blogging.”
Well what’s the first step of blogging? Write a blog post. What’s the first step of writing a blog post? Come up with some ideas, right? And I’m not breaking down as granular as they could be, you could just be for your task, “All right, today I want to focus on coming up with ideas for a blogpost, picking one, creating the draft. And then another task could be to write it, another task could be after I write it, publish it. After I publish it, promote it,” right? I’m breaking this down to such small task that it’s much easier to complete them and when you do that, you're more productive and you typically get way more done.
[0:05:37.5] MB: People who struggle often have this big goals but they fail to connect that to specific actions they can start taking right now.
[0:05:47.0] NP: That’s correct, yes.
[0:05:49.2] MB: What are some of the things you might be able to do or listeners to this podcast could potentially do in terms of sort of chunking down those tasks into day to day actionable steps?
[0:06:02.2] NP: I use task lists or like to-do lists, I think that helps a lot. I don’t think there’s much more that you really need to do other than just break down the task into small things, do your to-do list and then each day go over, did it work? Did it not work? Did you accomplish what you wanted to? If so great, how so? If not, why? What would you change to fix that?
[0:06:24.5] MB: That makes a lot of sense. Let’s change directions a little bit, how do you define success or what makes somebody successful to you?
[0:06:33.3] NP: What makes someone successful to me is them loving what they’re doing in life and doing great at it. That’s really it, right? Because if you’re happy, then you’re good to go. In my eyes, you're successful. If you’re not happy then something’s off. It doesn’t matter how much money you make. If you don’t love what you're doing, you’re not enjoying it then something’s off.
[0:06:50.7] MB: Why do you think people fall into the trap of constantly sort of seeking out more money or more whatever it might be?
[0:06:58.7] NP: That’s what they think will make them happy and eventually people learn as they make more money that money doesn’t really make you happy.
[0:07:05.7] MB: Did you learn that lesson from personal experience?
[0:07:09.4] NP: I did in which I would just, I started my first business because I wanted to make money, and as I started to make it and as I started to make it and I started buying useless things that I didn’t even care for but not too many useless things. Eventually I figured out that hey, none of this really matters. But what I really do enjoy is just focusing on businesses that I love.
[0:07:28.4] MB: Let’s segue into discussing your recent book Hustle. Tell me a little bit about that book?
[0:07:34.7] NP: Sure, if you look at the world right now, the people who are really rich are extremely rich, the poor, poor and the middle class is depleting, right? It’s not just me that thinks have the stats show that as well. A lot of the people who aren’t successful, which is the majority, feel that, “Hey, I wasn’t born with wealth, I didn’t’ grow with silver spoon I don’t have that Harvard degree, you know, all hope is lost.”
We know that’s not the case because a lot of this entrepreneurs are doing successful even people who are going to the works force and climbing up the ranks, a lot of them didn’t come from the best education, it didn’t come from a family that just give them tons of money and what we ended up our goal, what we wanted to do was to teach this people concepts and strategies that they can use to increase their odds of succeeding when the odds are stacked against you.
[0:08:27.5] MB: You, in the book, kind of break things into what you called a three part framework of hustle. What are each of those components?
[0:08:34.0] NP: Yeah, the components of hustle. So it depends on where you want to start, right? The biggest thing that we end up breaking down into the book, there’s four main ways that we teach you how to grow but we try to break down everything in the book under the main concepts of money, meaning and momentum, right? There’s subsections within each of them. We teach you a lot of different concepts, for example, one of the concepts we teach you is a 10 minute rule in which if you have goals in life, how can you focus just for 10 minutes out of your time?
The reason I say 10 minutes and this is really important is, most people when they’re trying to achieve something they’re like, “Okay I want to create XY and Z company or I want to work for myself and be financially independent,” that’s their goal. But how do you get there? So we teach you how to break down these goals, these tasks into small little 10 minute chunks, you try something out for 10 minutes, does it help you achieve what you’re trying to go through in life, right? If it does, great. If it doesn’t then you should redo something else for 10 minutes.
Then we also teach you other concepts on how to grow. Some people you realize that hey, the corporate route is great for me and we teach you how to climb the corporate ranks. Or you may realize that you’re inside of a company and you don’t want to be inside, it’s best for you to do entrepreneurship. We break down concepts on how you can try entrepreneurship and go for it even when you’re within an organization, right?
Or we even break down that hey, you’re outside and you're trying to figure out how to get into the corporate world or get a job, right? We break down concepts like that. But we teach you many different concepts we call little “hacks” on how you can do the small bite sized things to succeed in life.
[0:10:22.2] MB: Let’s drill down into one of those categories, for example the corporate route. For somebody who’s listening to the podcast right now that is in a corporate job and wants to stay there and kind of succeed and thrive, what are some of the tops that you would give them or some of the hacks that you would give them?
[0:10:38.6] NP: Yeah, so if you’re in the corporate world and you’re trying to figure out the upside like how you can grow, there’s a few things. One, a lot of people who work in the corporate world, all they do is just try to focus on pleasing their boss. Don’t get me wrong, you can please your boss and you should, but you also have to think about yourself. Is what you're doing only helping your boss succeed? Are you focusing on helping them achieve their goals? Or are some of the things that you’re doing also helping you achieve your goals, right?
One simple thing that you can do is if you're in the corporate world, once you figure out, “All right, am I focusing on helping myself improve?” In many cases you’ll find that most people are just focus on pleasing their boss. That’s great and all, but why not have a conversation with your boss and say, “Hey, here’s where we’re at, right? I love this company I want to be here for life, I love what you’re doing and I want to follow in your footsteps. What are some things that I can do to make your life easier or to show the company or to help out the company,” right?
In essence you want to put the company first, not just your boss but the company first. Not necessarily focusing on pleasing your boss but the companies calls an objective, right? Because even if some people hate you but you 3X the company’s revenue, someone’s going to notice. And if you can find out what those specific items are and you can help them achieve it and go above and beyond, people will start noticing and you’ll start realizing that you can start getting promotions within the organization or climbing up the corporate ladder.
[0:12:13.5] MB: So a moment ago you kind of threw out the term and I actually used it too without really thinking about it, the term “hacks”. You and I are probably familiar with what that means but for somebody who is listening that may not know what that is, can you explain kind of what a hack is or what it means to hack something?
[0:12:28.7] NP: Yeah, a hack is, think of it as a shortcut to get to the result. If you want to go from A to Z, most people think you have to go A, B, C, D, E, X, right? Why can’t you jump around? Who says you can’t go backwards and just go form A and then in the alphabet and go backwards all the way to Z, right? Let’s just say example of a hack, it changes in the corporate world or in life on what each hack is, but in general, the whole concept is you don’t have to take the traditional path that everyone that everyone else does to get to where you want in life.
For example, in my dad’s age, you would go to high school then you go to college, you get your degree, you work at a job, you stay there forever, you may go back to school to do more further learning then you may get raises, you’re pretty much there for life. That’s how my parents were brought up, that’s how they were taught. The world doesn’t necessarily work that way. Just because you go to college, you got a good degree even from Harvard and then you go back and then you get your Harvard MBA, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to get promotions or raises or do better, right?
There’s no guarantee, and that may not even be the most optimal route. Sometimes a person who does the best as a guy who is closing the most amount of deals or most well network or the guy who is going above and beyond and then being really creative with the strategies, whatever it may be. But we teach you that, “Hey, think outside the box. There’s a lot of quicker solutions to get to where you want and just taking their traditional route.”
[0:13:51.2] MB: I love that and it’s something that I’m a huge fan of as well, is the idea of kind of thinking nontraditionally, thinking outside the box and shunning conventional wisdom and figuring out, “All right, is there a shorter path from where I am today to where I need to get that defies the conventional wisdom of you need to do XY and Z?”
[0:14:09.9] NP: Exactly.
[0:14:11.4] MB: So you have some really fascinating stories from your background of how you’ve applied that concept. Everything from sort of hacking the idea of a personal driver to hacking some of your college course work. Could you tell a few of those stories or share some of those examples?
[0:14:26.4] NP: Sure. I’ve done everything, the driving one I’ve done quite a few. I’ve done driving ones where I leased a car and then I took the leased car, gave it to people for free but they would have to drive me around and then I didn’t have to pay for gas and maintenance. I’ve even done stuff for different things like where I don’t have a car and people drive me around and I give them advice, right? They can pick my brain, drive me to the airport and wherever I need to go.
I’ve done a ton of hacks, just questions is, what category or industry? Yeah, I always look for creative solutions. Nowadays, I mainly just use Uber, it’s so convenient, right? It’s a big time saver, I actually optimized most things for saving time in life. I’ve done a lot of other hacks too in business that are really creative like if you want to get to someone in a high position and get a deal done, instead of emailing I’d be like, “I want to apply for this job or this contracting position,” I’ll just email them saying everything that they’re doing and how to fix it and I would give it away to them for free. As crazy as it may sound, what happens is some of these people are like, “Okay, we’ll hire you.” Like that’s the best resume ever, right? You’re telling them what they’re doing wrong and what you would fix.
[0:15:37.8] MB: That’s a great example. So what are some of the ways that either somebody listening or even I personally could optimize my life to save time or how have you applied that lesson because I think everybody could use some more free time or use more time in general.
[0:15:51.8] NP: I use a program called Rescue Time, it’s the most optimal thing that I’ve ever done in my life, what Rescue Time does is, it just tells you where you're spending time and where you’re wasting it. From there you can just optimize. Like it will tell me, “You’re spending too much time on Facebook,” for example.
[0:16:07.5] MB: What about outside of kind of the digital context, are there any tools or hacks that you use to free up your time?
[0:16:13.9] NP: Outside, I mainly use an assistant, you can try virtual assistant or personal assistant. I also go by certain rules, like if I tell someone I’m going to do something, I do it right then and there. Or I send myself a note or reminder, because it makes you more efficient . If I open up an email I make sure I answer it right then and there or else I won’t open it because if you don’t then you have to reread it.
When I’m also doing task or driving around or whatever it may be or in meetings, I always analyze it after just for like a quick 30 seconds. Like, “How did it go? Could I have got to the point quicker? Where am I wasting time? Where was the pitch weak?” Whatever it may be, “Where were we inefficient as a group? Where was it a miscommunication? How can we set it up to be more efficient?”
And it usually revolves around communication because if everyone was on the same page beforehand, everyone would save much more time right? So we just look a lot of little things like that and then you optimize from there. It’s just creating that right mindset mentality.
[0:17:07.3] MB: So it sounds like mindset is a huge piece of it. The next piece with a tool similar to Rescue Time is perhaps kind of measuring where you are in the status quo and then from there, taking that information and optimizing sort of your life and your workflow around time efficiency.
[0:17:23.1] NP: That’s correct, yes.
[0:17:25.7] MB: Do you use some of the things you just mentioned about kind of your productivity framework, only touching things once, et cetera, is that derived from something like GTD or what is sort of your productivity framework that you use?
[0:17:38.5] NP: I don’t really use any framework. I just naturally — so my personality trait, when we took like a personality quiz, I don’t feel happy unless I feel like I’m getting stuff done, which is weird but that’s just how I am. Most people aren’t like that. In general, what I would tell people is, I like doing task list and breaking down into small task and just focus on accomplishing them each and every single day.
[0:18:03.7] MB: That makes a ton of sense. One of the other ways that I remember a story about you kind of outsourcing something in a nontraditional way was hiring a mom. Can you tell that story?
[0:18:13.8] NP: Yeah. I have a mama, I still have her, her name is Jackie, I love her to death, I call her mama though. Mama gets all my stuff done. I put out a Craigslist ad looking for a mama. She does everything from packing for me to cooking to cleaning like whatever it may be and it just helps make my life so much more efficient so I can focus on work.
[0:18:33.6] MB: Some people listening might think that it’s ridiculous to hire somebody to cook your breakfast or do your laundry or whatever. Why do you think that that is a prudent investment?
[0:18:43.6] NP: It helps you focus on what’s most valuable for you, right? I believe in optimizing for time so why not just focus on what you're good at and I found out I can do my own laundry but it takes me forever to do it compared to other people and I lose way more money compared to just focusing on just getting one thing done which is my work, growing the business.
[0:19:03.7] MB: You touched on something there that I think that a lot of really highly productive people think differently about this particular concept, which is the idea that whatever your “hourly rate” is or whatever you value your time at, if their activities, you’re performing hat are sort of under that hourly rate, regardless of how silly it may seem on the surface to hire somebody to do that, it’s actually really efficient to pay somebody say 10 or $15 an hour if you view your time as being worth a couple of hundred dollars an hour to do all of these tasks for you.
[0:19:37.9] NP: Exactly, you got it right.
[0:19:40.6] MB: Yeah, I’m a huge fan of that whole concept as well and I have things like a virtual assistant and focus on trying to optimize my time in a similar fashion. Changing gears or actually touching on something you talked about a second ago, you mentioned a personality test around sort of what are your biggest strengths or what are you kind of focusing on or what do you like to do that makes you feel productive. What is that test, and is that something that you think is really important in terms of optimizing around people’s strengths as supposed to focusing on fixing weaknesses?
[0:20:09.1] NP: It is. I don’t know the exact name of the test, it’s the one Intuit uses as an organization and we hired some consulting years ago, I forgot his name. Good guy. And we just copied the same person who test that Intuit use and the reason being is you can tell who people are in an organization and how they are and how they prefer to get work done and then you can just align up and try to do similar things, right? Like if you know how certain people, what motivates them and what makes them happy, then you know what you should be focusing on to try and help them accomplish goals or help the company become more productive.
[0:20:44.6] MB: I think in many ways, that same principle of kind of, leveraging or focusing on strength as opposed to trying to repair weakness, kind of dovetails back into the same concept of focus on the skill sets and the things that you’re really good at in terms of making money or doing what you love and then outsource or find somebody to do the other stuff, whether it’s driving you around, whether it’s cooking your breakfast or whatever it might be, right? It’s kind of the same two sides of the same coin in many ways.
[0:21:12.5] NP: Exactly, you got it right.
[0:21:15.0] MB: Another concept that I know you’re a big fan of and you’ve studied deeply is psychology and how to kind of leverage that. Obviously this podcast is focused deeply in psychology. Tell me some of the ways that you’ve leveraged psychology to help you be more productive, to influence people, and to kind of drive some of the results that you’ve achieved in your life?
[0:21:34.9] NP: Yeah, for me, we’re all humans, right? You have to figure out what makes people tick. Now you don’t want to use it like abuse them and manipulate. But in essence, by studying psychology and understanding it, you can get a much better understanding of what you should be doing or the messaging you can put on a website or what to use within meanings, et cetera. Just try to close more deals. What we end up doing our base of psychology is just how can you use the right words and phrases that correlates with people to make them understand what you’re trying to convey? So then that way you’re wasting less time and you’re going to the point and hopefully you’re causing more sales and creating a better experience for both people.
[0:22:18.8] MB: For someone listening that’s interested in whether it’s driving more business, sales, leads, whatever it might be, obviously you’re a deep marketing expert. How could they embark on that journey in terms of starting to understand some of the psychology pieces of that?
[0:22:33.4] NP: You’re asking, how can someone go about understanding psychology and learning it when they’re starting off?
[0:22:40.1] MB: Generally yes, but specifically within the context of kind of applying that to a marketing.
[0:22:45.3] NP: Sure, she have a Definitive Guide to Psychology on my blog, quickspot.com. It pretty much breaks down all the necessities, it’s like around 30,000 words all for free.
[0:22:55.2] MB: That’s awesome, well we’ll definitely include that in the show notes so that people can access that. What are one or two of those take away for listeners that might be driving or can’t access it right now.
[0:23:07.0] NP: Sure. So a few tips is, psychology is all about understanding people, right? The mind of the person, how you can get them to what makes them tick in essence. So one little simple tip is, don’t just assume that making some changes with your website copy or colors will affect sales. Why not survey people to really truly understand who your buyers are, who your customers are, what makes a certain people happy, love your product or service and what makes the people who are disappointed hate it.
Because if you can find out that hey, the people who love my product love it because XY and Z reason, you now know you can focus your messaging, your copy, et cetera just around those people.
[0:23:50.2] MB: That’s a great tip. Circling back a little bit to some of the lessons from Hustle, there were a few terms or kind of ideas from the book that really resonated with me that I’d love to touch on. Tell me about the idea of “don’t rent your dreams”?
[0:24:05.6] NP: Yeah, the biggest problem right now is people and we discuss this a bit earlier, they’re not doing what they want in life, right? They’re working for someone else and not just working at a corporate job, but think about it, that barista at Starbucks, do you think they’re really doing what’s making them happy? No, they’re helping their manager, the company, achieve their dreams and their goals but not theirs.
That’s what it comes down to is in an organization, whether you're doing your own business or whatever it may be, you need to make sure that you’re accomplishing what you want as well. It’s not just about helping the other person like your boss fulfill their destiny, their dreams, their goals. What about you, right? As an individual. You need to make sure that whatever you’re doing also benefits you as well.
[0:24:52.4] MB: What about the idea of manufacturing luck? I love that concept.
[0:24:57.7] NP: Yes, so the problem with most people is or the problem out there, most people feel that the people who are lucky or do well is like, “Oh they have good luck.” I myself don’t have a lot of luck. Well, that’s not always the case, a lot of times, you’re not feeling lucky because you’re not doing something that can help you generate luck, what I mean by that is if you don’t take action, you’ll never be luckier, the right things won’t happen. So Patrick, one of my coauthors, his son wanted to go find fish in Little Pond Creek, whatever you want to you want to call it.
So his son’s like, “Daddy, let’s go find some fish.” Dad looks down at the water and be like, “Shane, let’s go, there’s nothing there.” Shane looks back up at his dad, doesn’t say anything, jumps into the water like it’s shallow, right? Shuffles his feet, next thing you know, fish pop up. In essence, he manufactured his own luck, right? If you take action, you’re much more likely to get lucky. If you don’t take any action, how are you ever going to get lucky?
[0:25:58.2] MB: There’s a great quote that I think dovetails with that, which is, “Luck, this is where preparation meets opportunity.”
[0:26:03.7] NP: That’s an amazing quote, yup.
[0:26:06.0] MB: I think many people can often get stuck kind of feeling like things aren’t going their way or they’re never getting a lucky break. But the reality is, you can always find a way to take action and create results out of the world.
[0:26:19.0] NP: Yeah, no, totally. The biggest thing that we’ve learned with the whole process, especially writing the book, most people have it in them to do well. They just need the principles, the concepts that can help them take action in the right place and focus their energy on what matters versus just spinning their wheels and feeling like they’re stuck.
[0:26:40.3] MB: How does somebody differentiate between taking action on the things that really sort of drive results versus things that don’t matter?
[0:26:49.6] NP: It comes down to if you spend 10 minute just focusing on something that you think will help you accomplish your goals, your dreams, and if you end up feeling, after about 10 minutes if you feel like it’s helping you accomplish your goals and dreams, great. But if it doesn’t then you need to go back to the drawing board and try something else. It’s that simple, just do something for 10 minutes and you’ll know if it has a chance of helping you accomplish your goal.
[0:27:16.3] MB: So I know we’re ended on time and you’ve got to go. Tell me, where can people find you online?
[0:27:21.1] NP: Neilpatel.com.
[0:27:22.7] MB: Awesome. Well Neil, thank you very much for being a guest on the show and we really enjoyed hearing from you.
[0:27:27.0] NP: Thanks for having me.