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Hi, my name is Igor Kheifets and this is the List Building Lifestyle, the only podcast
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once again it’s time to claim your List Building Lifestyle.
Igor: Welcome back to another edition of the List Building Lifestyle with your
host Igor Kheifets. Mark Manson is the bestselling author of one of my all-time
favorite self-knowledge books titled The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. He's
also a blogger and Internet entrepreneur and a modern-day philosopher. I first
came across Mark's work through a friend. I was going through a rough patch in my
personal life and he suggested I read Mark's article where he encourages giving
fewer fucks about fewer things and fewer people. I listened to his advice and my
life improved. That's when I went deep down the rabbit hole and became a Manson
fan boy pretty much ever since. Mark's polarizing self-knowledge and relationship
advice has transformed my life so much I encourage all my friends who can read
English to join the cult. And now, I am proud to host Mark here on the List
Building Lifestyle. Mark, thank you so much for taking the time to rep with me.
Mark: It's good to be here, Igor. Thank you for the kind words.
Igor: Well, my pleasure. I meant every word. So, I guess this is where I want to
start. So, I consider you one of the best self-help authors out there. Seriously,
Mark: Thank you.
Igor: You're welcome. I mean, the pound-for-pound, word-for-word you're pretty
much the most insightful self-help guy that I come across online and in the world,
and in any shape, way, form, media, whatever you want to call it. But you're sort
of anti-self-help. You encourage people to stop trying to be happy, to screw
trying to find their passion, and to give up on the idea of living the perfect
life or owning the perfect business and stuff like that. Why?
Mark: Because ultimately, it's self-defeating. I talk about this in the first
chapter of my book, which is the more you go around telling yourself that you need
to be really happy, you need to be really successful, you need to be loved and
admired and have all these great things, what you're actually unconsciously doing
is you're reinforcing the belief that you don't already have enough. So, in a way,
ambition can actually be a little bit counterproductive. And it's only by
embracing the fact that life sucks sometimes, that we're never going to be
completely fulfilled, nothing is ever going to make us completely happy, it's only
by embracing that and accepting that, that we're actually able to be content with
our life and have with him a healthy emotional relationship with ourselves.
Igor: Wait, so you're actually saying, this is what I'm hearing, you say embrace
the fact that life sucks.
Mark: Sometimes. [laughter]
Mark: Everybody's life sucks sometimes. I don't care who you are. Because I think
our brain is wired in such a way that we kind of operate on this little
assumption, "If I could just have x, then everything would be great." Because all
we can see is what's making us unhappy right now, right this minute. And so, our
brain comes up with this idea of, "Well, if I can go out and achieve x, then this
problem will be solved and I'll be happy forever." What we don't realize is x,
whatever that thing that we're chasing after, also has problems and things that
suck about it. So essentially, self-improvement is not about removing suffering
from your life, self-improvement is really just about improving the suffering of
your life basically trading in current problems for better problems.
Igor: Okay. So, you're saying basically that you suffer a certain way right now
and when you achieve your goal, whatever that goal is, you'll suffer in a
different way, but you'll still suffer.
Mark: Right. I use the example in the book; I say a homeless man has money
problems. Warren Buffett also has money problems; it's just that Warren Buffett's
money problems are much better than the homeless man's. So the problems never go
away, it's just the quality of the problems get better. So it's the whole approach
to self-improvement of removing problems from one's life is actually
counterproductive. Because what you end up doing is you just end up avoiding
reality, you end up deluding yourself into thinking or chasing some perfect life
that doesn't actually exist.
Igor: Okay. I get that. I accept that. Now, here's something that I know some of
our listeners are thinking right now and that is, "Mark, that's so easy for you to
say that. You're a bestselling author. You wrote two books. You just got married.
You have the love of your life. You found her. You're so cool. You're good
looking. Whatever. So, you're the perfect guy. So, it's easy for you to say that
life kind of sucks, but your life doesn't seem to suck because you kind of have it
all, and here I am, listening to Igor's show and my life really sucks. I'm
literally trying to build my business from my bedroom. I have no money to buy
advertising with. I don't understand why the gurus keep pushing junk down my
throat all the time. I'm really confused. And my relationships suck." So, what
would you tell that guy or gal that thinks that way? Because what you're saying
kind of discourages one from wanting to improve their life.
Mark: Hey, I don't want to discourage anybody from improving their life. I just
want people to be realistic about what they actually need to be improving. And
it's funny because I do actually get that email fairly frequently of people like,
"Ohh, it's easy for you to say. You're really successful and you've got this
awesome life." And my response is always like, "First of all, all you see of me is
what I portray on the Internet. You don't actually see my life. I definitely have
problems in my life and things that I continue to struggle with. And two, if
somebody looks at, say, you or me, and they think like, "Well, it's easy for that
guy to say. He's got his life figured out." What they're doing is they're just
projecting their own desires. It comes back to that kind of algorithm I talked
about earlier. It's like, in their head, they think they need to achieve x, and
then they go around and they see that Igor and Mark have x, and so they
immediately assume, "Ohh. Well, Igor and Mark must be happy. They must not have
problems in their lives." And the truth is that we just have different problems.
We don't have the same problem, we've solved that problem for ourselves, but we
have other problems in our lives. And just to put a tangible example on this,
people may look at, say, my business, your business, and they're like, "Well, you
guys figured it out. You guys are making money online. This is all easy for you to
say. Things must be great." It's like, "Well, yeah. Things are great. It's great
to make money online. But suddenly you're introduced with all these other problems
of like managing staff, managing cash flow, dealing with taxes. Google might
change its algorithm one day and half your revenue disappears. There's a whole new
set of problems to have, that are better problems, but they're still problems, and
they're still things that you and I get stressed about and struggle with.
Igor: Yeah, you're absolutely correct. The way I discovered information marketing
was through the dating niche. I was fat, I was awkward socially, and I needed some
advice on how to date girls. And what happened was, for a while I went on really
frustrated and needy because I didn't have a girlfriend. And I looked at all the
other guys who had girlfriends, who oftentimes would complain about it, and I'd be
thinking, "My God. You don't even understand how lucky you are. You have no idea
how good you've got life figured out." And then, when I had girlfriends, and later
when I got married, there were times when I just wanted to get out. I just wanted
to say, "You know what? No more women in my life ever. I don't need them. I'll
just masturbate and I'll keep my sanity. That's what I'm going to do."
Igor: So, I can totally relate to what you're saying. And in your book you're
saying that life is an ongoing problem-solving exercise where you're changing one
problem for another problem, for another problem, which of course, again, 100%
true. Now, how does then one go about achieving their goals or dreams, keeping
their sanity, but at the same time not, I guess, not forfeiting happiness in the
Mark: Sure. So, the correct question to ask, in my opinion, is not necessarily,
"What do I need to do to be happy?" It's, "What problems do I enjoy solving? What
struggles do I enjoy enduring?" And it's a simple kind of reframing of a basic
question, but to me, this is the crux so changing one's perspective on
self-improvement. Because when you say, "What do I want to do to be happy?" what
you're really kind of asking is, "What can I do to get away from my suffering?"
But as we were just talking about, you can't ever completely get away from
suffering, so the more realistic question is, "What suffering would I rather
have?" And what that does is that introduces the question of meaning. Because the
only things that we're willing to suffer for are things that feel very important
and meaningful to us, like raising a child, or helping a family member fight
cancer, something like that. And so, really, the question of self-improvement
boils down to a question of meaning, which is essentially a question of, "What to
give a fuck about?"
Igor: Wow. So, naturally I want to ask, if, let's just say, somebody listening to
this right now has no idea, they haven't decided yet, or maybe they have a bunch
of things they give a fuck about but they can't seem to decide on which of these
things they want to focus on, is there another question we can ask that helps us
identify the most important thing for us at that point in time?
Mark: Well, I would say start out by simply listening to your emotions honestly.
I've been marketing and publishing online for almost ten years now and I met a lot
of people in that time and I can tell you I've met a lot of people over the years
that they don't actually enjoy their business. They don't even enjoy being an
entrepreneur. They don't enjoy the uncertainty or the struggle. They don't enjoy
having all the responsibility on themselves. They don't enjoy working alone. But
for some reason they continue to push themselves to do it either because they
really want to make a bunch of money quickly or they want to have a bunch of
freedom immediately. And while those things are nice, money and freedom are nice;
they're not necessarily meaningful by themselves. You can go make a million
dollars selling scammy stuff on Google AdWords, but that isn't necessarily going
to add any meaning to your life. So those struggles aren't going to feel
worthwhile or meaningful after you work on them for some time. And so, the
question is to look at what you're doing and say, "Is this the struggle that I
enjoy?" And just to give an example from my own business, I started out info
products as well and doing a lot of affiliate marketing. And to be honest, I
wasn't bad at it, but I wasn't very good at it. But more importantly I didn't
enjoy it. I didn't enjoy writing copy. I didn't enjoy doing cold email promotions.
I didn't enjoy doing pay-per-click advertising. And what I enjoyed was writing.
What I enjoyed was blogging. And so, it reached a point in my business that I was
like, "Well, I'm pretty mediocre in experiencing very small amounts of success at
all of these different things, but the writing and blogging is the only thing that
actually feels important to me. I feel like I have a lot of important things to
say that I could add, but I'm not giving myself that time. I'm too busy trying to
promote some e-book or something. And so, finally in 2011, after a few years, I
was like, "You know what? Screw it. I'm going to go full-time blogging and
writing, and I'm going to try it for like a year and see what happens. And if it
doesn't work then maybe I'll just go get a day job or something." And it was
actually that reorienting myself to that struggle that I enjoyed, the struggle of
writing something that invigorates me and excites me that my business and my
career really took off.
Igor: So, what you're saying, just to make sure that our listeners get this right,
is you were already making some money doing affiliate marketing and this is what
took your business to the next level where you focused exclusively on what was
meaningful to you. Now, of course, there's the question, were you to just not get
good on writing copy if you were to just kind of give up on all of that stuff?
Would you still be as successful? Because right now, your ability to write, it has
something to do with your experience at copywriting, your ability to sell, your
ability to be polarizing. That stands out in your marketing 100%. So where do we
find that balance? Where do we find the balance between identifying what we need
and what we need to suffer through to get where we're going, versus then taking
that to the ultimate next level?
Mark: Yeah. My philosophy is always: It's better to try something and fail at it
than to simply not try it. And I'm actually extremely grateful for the years I
spent doing marketing and studying marketing for the exact reasons that you
stated. I think my knowledge of copyrighting in advertising informs my writing and
my blogging in a way that helps distribute it very well. That said I'm glad I
tried it. I'm glad I learned about it. But I'm also glad I didn't dedicate my
career to it. Because one, it wasn't my biggest talent area, and two, I'm sure if
I really wanted to be an amazing copywriter I probably would have gotten there, if
I spent years and years on it, but it didn't feel meaningful to me. The struggle
of copyrighting didn't invigorate me the same way like a struggle of writing a
really insightful blog post or a book does. And I have a saying that I have talked
about for years, and I actually have given a few talks at conferences about it.
It's, I say, "Passion is practical." People see passion as this "Do what you love
and follow your dreams." and it's all these very abstract kind of like "woo-hoo"
hooey type of stuff that I think most business people, they're like, "Ohh, yeah.
Passion. Yeah, that's nice. But come on, let's be real. Let's make some money."
and the point I try to make is that actually leveraging passion in your business,
leveraging your own emotions can be extremely efficient and profitable, it can add
way more productivity. Because if you think about it, if you're focusing on work
that you really believe in and you really care about on an emotional level, you're
going to be more resilient for failures, you're going to be more curious more
inspired to solve problems, you're going to be more innovative to try new things,
and you're simply you can be more tenacious. You're going to have more... What's
the word I'm looking for? Basically just going to weather through shit storms more
often, and you're not going to feel a need to quit as soon as something goes
wrong. You're going to be more inspired to try to see what went wrong and fix it.
Igor: You know Mark, what you're saying on this call, like the big idea on this
call kind of gives me, it points me back when I started my business, and the
reason I started it to be honest with you was to just escape poverty. There was no
passion and like to live the four-hour workweek or to become a bestselling
whatever, to own one of the largest traffic agencies in the world or anything like
that, there was just this poor kid, the poor immigrant boy from Ukraine who lives
in Israel and who's just tired of constantly dealing with the stress of his family
being poor, just broke, and all the emotional drama that came with it. Because I
remember my parents were fighting about it too, and my dad kind of walked into the
room after this big fight with my mom. I was just listening to it, and of course
as a kid, when you hear your parents fight somehow for some reason the brain tells
you it's your fault. I'm not sure why, but that's how I always felt, and you know
he went into my room he said, "The only reason I'm not divorcing her is because of
you." And he just left. He just went somewhere to get a drink or something. Ouch.
Igor: I knew that all the problems were because we were poor, because at the time,
my mom you know she lost her job and dad was out of work for like two years, and I
swore that, look, just something they had to change and no matter how I do it I
just I will achieve the end goal of not being poor anymore. Still is, I guess, the
greatest fear, is to be poor. I guess it's like the fear of death. I mean it's
just as big. So for me, it was never about the passion, it was just about you know
getting away from that suffering, and that is why I also never got how come... In
our industry there's a lot of talk about living your passion, stuff like that. I
never got that. I'm that sort of guy that you mentioned. I'm like, "Okay, passion
is awesome. Now let's get practical and let's figure out what this marketplace
wants and let's give it to it.” That was my philosophy.
Mark: Yeah. What I've noticed over the years and this is definitely true it
myself, because when I started my business. So I graduated university like right
into the crash of two 2008. So I basically got handed my diploma and it was like,
"Guess what? There's no jobs for anybody." [laughter]
Mark: So I kind of bummed around, I had a couple like little part time jobs, but I
was literally living on a friend's couch because I had no money. So at that point,
and I that's when I started reading about this stuff, I was like, "Well hell, I
have nothing to lose." I read The 4-Hour Workweek, so I'm like, "Living in
Argentina sounds cool. I'll go do that." So for me it was similar. It was the
first couple years it was like, "Let's just make a $1000 a month and then see what
happens." I will do whatever it takes to get to that point, $1000-$2000 a month.
Just enough that I can pay rent, buy myself a lunch, maybe go out and have a beer
with some friends every once in a while, because I couldn't do any of that when I
started, and I think a lot of people kind of start to say same place. Starting a
business, it's a very scary thing. There's a lot of insecurity involved, I mean
financial insecurity that's involved when you start and, so I think a lot of
people in the beginning that it is appropriate for them to orient themselves
towards like, "I just need to make money. Screw this." I think it's once people
kind of reach that modest level of success, at least and this was true for me and
I see this with a lot of people too, is that once they kind of reach that point
where they have like a stable income, they're making a nice middle class income,
they can afford to travel, they can buy a car or get a mortgage or something like
that. That's I think when they start asking you these bigger questions of like,
"Okay, is this actually the thing I want to do for the next 25 years?" Because a
lot of times the thing that expedites getting the money rolling in is not the same
thing that you're like, "Wait. Do I still want to be doing this when I'm 50?" That
that's kind of the big wake-up call I had in my in my late 20's. I was looking at
a lot of the stuff I was doing to make money and I was like, 'Wait a second. I
don't want to be like 55 and still spamming emails to people buy stuff."
Mark: I'm like, 'That sounds horrible." [laughter] So I'm like, "I should find
something that I would feel really good about doing." Yeah, I think it's a
question that everybody should ask at some point, but I think people are ready at
different times. The point I just try to make is that it's not; it can be a
practical addition to your business. Passion and business aren't necessarily
separate things, like it's being passionate about what you're working on and make
you more productive and it can scale your business quicker.
Igor: Mark look, we're coming down towards the end of this interview, and I'm
really sad because it's a kickass interview, but I do have to ask you one of those
cliché questions that go something like, what are the three things, the three
biggest lessons you learned when you started your online business? Because you're
somebody who went from that guy on a friend's couch with a laptop all the way to
being wealthy, self-made man. So what would be the three things you want to share
with yourself back when you started that you know now that if you knew back then
you'd succeed faster?
Mark: The first one to flee comes to mind is learning your strengths. I think in
the beginning for people it's important to learn a little bit of, and try a little
bit of everything. Learn a little bit about SEO, learn a little bit about a
pay-per-click advertising, learn a little bit about blogging, learn a bit about
social media. Dabble in everything, but eventually like something will stand out
as something that suits your natural strengths. You'll soon find that you have an
easier time achieving success at something more than other people, and the biggest
principle that I've learned over the years that I still practice today is just
double down on what works. And that goes for not just like ad campaigns, that goes
for yourself. Double down on your skills that work, if you're really great at
writing and you're mediocre manager, go hire managers, give yourself time to like
right marketing. That's the biggest thing. You want me go three. [laughter]
Mark: I'd say try everything, is another one. Is like don't be afraid of
embarrassing yourself, honestly some of the most important moments in my career
were product launches that flopped horribly. Launching websites that nobody looked
at, nobody read. Those are just as important, if not more important than the
successes. Don't be afraid to embarrass yourself, try something a little bit
crazy. And then the third one, treat yourself well. I think a lot of
entrepreneurs, there's not only are a lot of entrepreneurs workaholics, but they
kind of... I think workaholism is a little bit celebrated. It's kind of like it's
a badge of honor among entrepreneurs, and again like if you're just starting out
and you're broke, yeah, working 16 hours a day is kind of necessary sometimes, but
I think for me it's taken me a long time to back off and start living a more
balanced lifestyle and treating myself well, taking time off, taking vacations,
going out and having a nice weekend with the wife. It took me too many years to
start letting myself do that. I would encourage people to do that, and just like
the passion thing, taking time off, it makes you more effective when you work. You
get more productivity and creativity out of those hours you do work than if you
just like grind yourself seven days a week 12 hours a day.
Igor: Yeah, but when you get into the habit of grinding yourself, what happens is
even when you go out for that we can do or you go on vacation, you feel guilty for
being on vacation. You know, my friend just went out for a seven-day vacation
after four years of not any, no vacations whatsoever, and he's an entrepreneur, he
runs like a grocery store, and I said, "Look man, on the second day you're going
to feel something, and going to feel weird, and it's going to guilt, guilt because
you're not working. Don't give into that. Don't give in. Just have fun. Be cool."
He called me on a third day and he's like, "Dude, this is amazing. Prague is
insane, the food is awesome, the beer is incredible, but man, I miss the store. I
just want to go back and get to work.' [laughter]
Mark: [laughter] It's an addiction. I'll leave you with a story, and this is a
true story. So I start my business in 2007, I met my wife in 2012, and I was
living in Brazil at the time, and I had been traveling around the world and living
in a bunch of different places, but I had basically been working six to seven days
a week the entire time. The only time I didn't work is if I had like really long
international flight or something, and even then I would do some work on the
plane. So I was accustomed to working like 50-60 hours a week for like five years
straight. And I was living in Brazil, I'd been dating my wife for about a year,
year and a half, and she was dying to go to this, there's an island in Brazil,
Fernado de Noronha It's this gorgeous place. It's very uninhabited, very
untouched, and it was like the number one place she had always wanted to go. So I
took her for her birthday that year, and little did I know that they didn't
have... First of all, there was no internet on the entire island, and second of
all, the wireless, like the data barely works on the island. So you were
essentially cut off from the internet, and I was there for six days, and I like
nearly, I think the first 48 hours I nearly went into convulsions with like
anxiety and freaking out that I wasn't checking my email. Like, what if there were
a customer support issues, I wasn't answering. It was by the third day I finally
calmed down and then I noticed by the fourth and fifth day I had gotten this
distance and this perspective from my business, and it was sitting on the beach on
that island I came up with two ideas. I came up with, I said, "I'm going to change
my website. I'm going to change it to MarkManson.net and I'm going to write a
book. The book is going to be about how happiness is based on struggle. And those
two things, those two like ideas I had on the same beach on the same day when I
had no internet around me for five days, essentially 10 x’ed from my business over
the last three years. They were by far the two most profitable things I've ever
done in my career, and they were both like thought of on the same day, and it's
when I had no internet anywhere. [laughter] So take that as like... I don't know
what the word is. Like a story or a fable to take home and think about. [laughter]
Igor: Take that's workaholics, and take that the Internet. You are
Igor: [laughter] Well, thank you for sharing that. Definitely there's a bunch of
people who can relate to that, and way too many people don't take breaks. I'm one
of them; to this day have issues with vacations. So I'll definitely take on your
advice and give it a shot, and I'm just really grateful for having the opportunity
to interview you. And one more thing, I forgot to mention of course, as I
mentioned in the beginning of this call, I am a huge Manson fan boy and I
encourage everybody I know to join the cult, so I'm encouraging you, the listener
right now to go on Amazon.com, pick up the copy of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a
F*uck, and become a subscriber on MarkManson.net, and this far as I know right now
there is an option to become a paid subscriber as well. So can you share with us
the benefits of doing that?
Mark: So I'm kind of trying to pioneer a little bit of a new business model with
my blog, which is about 75% of the content is free, and then there's about 25%
that people have to pay a small fee, it's $4 a month to have access to, but
basically that 25%, it's the deep dive stuff. And it's not just self-help stuff,
so I have videos and articles about my experiences, how to go viral on social
media, how I wrote a New York Times best selling book. Some like behind the scenes
experiences that I feel are still valuable and I want to talk about, but it
doesn't make sense to write it for the entire audience, but it's if people are
like really interested in and that kind of stuff, that behind the scenes stuff
about my business and what I'm doing they can pay a small fee and get access to
Igor: Alright, and that's $4. $4!
Mark: Not bad.
Igor: Man! Where the hell man am I going to come up with $4 to give you Mark?
Mark: I don't know, man.
Igor: I don't know.
Mark: There's got to be some offer out there.
Igor: Is there a discount code or coupon we can... You know, something?
Mark: How about this, if you sign up and you email me telling me that Igor
promised the discount, I'll PayPal you a dollar. How about that? That's 25% off
your first month. [laughter]
Igor: [laughter] You're so generous. Thank you so much. [laughter]
Mark: I know!
Igor: I expect an email for me. [laughter]
Igor: Alright. Well once again Mark, extremely grateful for you taking the time to
rep with us today, appreciate the advice. Guys, make sure to visit MarkManson.net,
check out Mark's work. It's incredible. It's eye-opening, it will force you to
question yourself and improve your life. So Mark, until next time we chat, have a
Mark: Thank you, Igor.
Thanks for listening to The List Building Lifestyle Show, make sure to subscribe on iTunes
or Google. Play to never miss an episode because who knows just one conversion tactic
we share on the show might double your list and double your business. Download the
transcript of today’s episode and all future episodes at listbuilderslifestyleshow.com and
don’t forget to claim your complimentary copy of “The Wealthy List Builder’s Survival
Guide” at listbuildinglifestyleshow.com/survival . This is Igor Kheifets until next time we talk, have a good one.
This is the ThePodcastFactory.com.