The only way to reach your targets in life is to get to work. But it’s easier said than done. Only a fraction of people in life are actively working towards their goals. They know how to create and use the right tools and processes to generate progress for themselves. A lot of these people have a ton of interesting things to say. So I thought I’d interview them.
Most of my weekly guests created their own business, and they got where they are today by successfully implementing self-discipline in their life. To each one of them, I ask questions about their life, their learnings, their tools, and sometimes about which celebrity they would like to have coffee with.
There are no rules for success, only consistency in the work you do. None of the people I interviewed are super-humans. They’re just dedicated, and they have a lot of awesome things to teach us.
Let’s get to it.
My first guest for this weekly series is Anthony Moore. Anthony is a writer and the author of What Extraordinary People Know. He has successfully built his business around courses, webinars and blogging to become financially independent. You can find his work here on medium.com. He has an M.A. in Psychology and lives in Los Angeles.
The first 4.5 years of your life as a writer, you had almost zero success. You went on to change a lot, and now you live off writing. What changed?
In March 2017, my wife and I moved to South Korea to teach English. Once we moved there, the change of environment unlocked everything for me. I decided to become consistent in my writing, something I had never done before. You can actually go to my medium profile and scroll back to this period, that’s when I started “going hard” on medium. I put in the time, wrote almost everyday for about 60 days (40–50 articles total).
In those 2 months, I saw everything skyrocket. My readers, my followers, my income… And the more I did it, the better I got at it, because I chose to be consistent.
In the end, you might not need to travel abroad, but you will most likely need some sort of shock to your system. At least for me, the major change of environment worked, and my writing skyrocketed across the board.
What is the number one habit/routine you attribute the most to that success?
Again, it’s being consistent. For me it was a choice. Before I prioritised being consistent, I could never learn my craft. Once I had the mindset switch, I could study what good writers did.
It was never about waking up at a certain time, writing a certain amount of words per day, or a number of articles per day. It was simply about doing the work of writing every single day, focusing on creating a good system. I knew that if I had a good system, then my results would come automatically.
I shifted to being consistent every single day, and overtime my system became set in stone, and my results came naturally. It’s about attracting success rather than chasing it.
What is the number one productivity item you can’t live without?
Probably evernote.com. In my experience, if you don’t use it, you lose it. So whenever I have an idea, a thought for a course, a blog, an article or whatever it is, I have to write it down because if I don’t it’s gone forever and I lose it.
Not only that, but if I stay diligent and write down my stuff, then more and more thoughts will come to me. By doing that, I train my brain to always be thinking about stuff. And if I can capture that magic in a bottle, more and more will come to me, it creates a virtuous circle.
If I stop using tools like Evernote, I find I’m not as creative, not as inspired, and ideas don’t come to me as often.
What is the one book you recommend for self-improvement and/or productivity?
Definitely the The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. It taught me how to be consistent and how to expand my thinking to be 10 times bigger.
It challenges you to think: How can I chase bigger and bigger goals? How to focus on bigger and bigger things? While everyone is focusing on 1% of things, it will teach you how to focus on 10 times that.
In one of your articles, you talk about favouring systems over goals. What do you mean by that?
This is the foundation for my success. I learned this from guys like James Clear in his book Atomic Habits, or Scott Adams in his book How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big.
When you’re working towards a goal, everything sort of sucks. It’s hard, it’s not fun, you feel like you’re constantly failing and falling behind. Every single day is a struggle. And it’s hard to excel in that system, because it’s hard to stay focused, diligent and happy when you feel like you’re a failure who is falling behind.
Instead, systems focus on small forward concepts. If I can make small progress everyday, eventually I’m going to get there. On top of that, I don’t feel like a failure, or like I’m falling behind. In fact, everyday feels like I’m winning, because winning means doing the work. It doesn’t have to be a lot of work, but a little bit of work consistently. Consistency takes you to your goals.
With that in mind, I don’t focus on goals. I focus on systems for achieving what I want to accomplish. Here’s an example. Let’s say I have a goal of earning $10.000 in a single month. I’m not going to approach this by thinking how I can build up income streams, how X percent of money comes from this funnel, and so on. I only focus on being good at my writing, on creating good content, new followers. Every single month I do that, I get closer and closer to the income goal. I don’t feel like I’m failing all the time, I’m doing good, and I can enjoy the improvement month after month.
It all rests on a 4-word phrase: Small progress, every day.
In another recent article, you mention your dream job can be “boring”. How do you find the drive to keep going when it would be so easy to rest on your laurels, watching TV?
It’s much harder to stay king of the hill than it is to climb the hill. Climbing the hill feels fun, competitive. You’re beating people around you, you’re striving and doing great. But once you’re there, it’s a bit like: “Well, now what?”. And that’s the hard part, a consistent theme I’ve read across dozens of interviews from the world’s most successful people.
Resting on your laurels is easy. But again, once I start thinking about beating competition and how to be better than the other guy, I get stressed, anxious, and I feel like I’m falling behind. In that sense, I’m not comparing myself with anybody else. I’m not even thinking of it as “resting on my laurels” versus “working hard”. I do the work every single day. As a result, I’m getting millions of views, tens of thousands of dollars, of followers.
Michael Jordan once said “I don’t compete with anybody, everybody competes with me”. I love that mentality of focusing on yourself and your work every single day, because you don’t have to worry if you’re resting on your laurels, doing enough…
Just do the work everyday, and one day you’re going to look back and think to yourself: “Wow, I’m still king of the hill, and it’s awesome.”
And yes, in the meantime, I still watch TV, relax, and hang out. But that’s okay, because I know I’m doing the work every single day.
You’re big believer in the e-mail list, other people say it’s dying. Is the classic newsletter/subscribers still the core of the business when it comes to blogging, or do you see things changing?
There’s a lot of opinions on this. I am a huge fan of the email list. It opens up so many more income streams, especially for non-fiction content. I coach a lot of writers and made a very big business on doing coaching calls specifically for that audience.
If you want to build a true fanbase and stay in their atmosphere, then building an email list is huge. I write on medium, but it isn’t my platform per say. Medium could stop any single day, for any reason. I need to build my own platform through them, and that’s how I collect a lot of subscribers through them.
If (god forbid) medium shut down one day, a lot of my work would be gone. But I would still have my email list to fall back to. That’s where I send out things about my courses, my book, my coaching… These are things I can’t promote on medium or other places. That is why I’m a huge fan of the email list.
It is one of my most important tools, and I’ve seen a lot of top writers focus heavily on their email list as well, because they see how important it is. I won’t sell a $1000 product through medium, but I can do that through my email list. I’m building relationships, using my authentic personality, with me as the hero, to teach things to people. And I can make them a hero too, by giving them products.
Finally, not everyone checks medium or blogs all the time. But everyone checks their email. If you get into their inbox, build trust with them, and let them realise that you are a real person providing real value, they will want to follow you and build a trustful relationship with you.
You often broadcast live webinars. How do you tie them into your business model?
Webinars are a huge model for me to sell higher-priced courses. I have a lot of courses ranging from $7 to $1000. As you read lots of sales books and business books, you realise that the art of sale is really important. People need to build a lot of trust with you if they’re going to buy a $1000 (or even $25.000) product from you.
When you think about it, how can a writer sell a $25.000 product to people who have never met him/her face to face? Well, it is possible through the power of webinars, live training, conferences… They are a huge opportunity for you to build “face to face” trust with your audience. Once you have a good track record of content and products, you can start selling bigger and bigger packages.
It takes a long time to build that trust, but I’ve personally had great success selling $500, $1000 dollar products over webinars. I could never do that in a simple blog post.
You write a lot about investing in yourself. What is one of the most recent ways you’ve invested in yourself?
I recently went to a conference called the Tribe Writers conference, hosted by Jeff Goins. It costs $500, and I had to fly out to Nashville, Tennessee. It was huge, I got to meet authors who I’ve been a fan of for years. Chatting with somebody over email doesn’t compare to face to face conversation. Flying out there, paying for my hotel, my airfare, to go to a conference about writing, that was huge for me.
I definitely think investing in yourself will set you apart from other writers. You ill push yourself to meet people and learn things nobody else could learn unless they did the same.
And finally, if you were given a one-minute ad slot during the Super Bowl, what would you fill it with?
I wouldn’t fill it with anything. In fact, I would encourage people to not look at commercials or advertisements of any kind. I’m a big believer in cutting those out of your life and replacing them with things that truly matter. Being present, with your family, people around you, or with learning, buying books, reading, experimenting…
Removing billboards, advertisements, commercials, fluff, the news from your life, will enable you to focus on being better at your craft. That’s what matters, and you can’t do it if you’re busy watching ads.
There you have it. I want to personally thank my guest for taking the time to provide me and my readers with really insightful answers. I am deeply grateful to Anthony Moore. Kudos to you!
And thanks to you for reading my content! Stay tuned for our next guest, coming up next week!
If you want to take control of your time, stop wasting your energy, and prioritise the right things, my free tool The 168 Hours Spreadsheet will help!