I think focusing on one project at the time is truly key. If you focus on more than one thing, you don’t even give yourself the chance to be in the flow. Creating momentum in your work is key to get into the flow state, to be excited about your work, to be able to inspire others and ultimately feel happiness and satisfaction. Also, doing only the things you want to do in your business is vital to achieve or maintain the state of flow. Everything that you don’t want to do, look into outsourcing it. If we focus on only one thing, and we enjoy and love it at the same time, magic happens.
As a part of our series about “Optimal Performance Before High Pressure Moments”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tina Dahmen.
Tina Dahmen is an entrepreneur who helps coaches, consultants and online entrepreneurs to gain more influence in their space, scale their online presence and revenue by creating digital products.
She is also the founder of The Biz Heroes, an online community with a focus on self-development and business. The Biz Heroes consists of influencers, coaches, consultants and online entrepreneurs who are ready to develop themselves and their business in a fun way and to be part of something bigger than themselves.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I grew up in a small village in Germany, about 500 people live there. It was an amazing place to grow up. However, once you become a teenager, you want to experience new things, you want to get out there and see the world, you want to know what’s going on on this planet.
Small village thinking was never my thing and I was always thirsty for more. One day I went to work (I was managing the local supermarket, Aldi). The regional manager was in the office on that day and I asked her what I could do to become a regional manager too. She told me that there is no chance for local managers to become regional managers if they don’t have a university degree. So I quit my job on the same day and signed up to study at a university in Germany. Unfortunately, I had to wait for another 6 months until the semester would start. So I booked a flight to Australia and booked myself into an English language school.
This was my first time traveling a foreign country (I think there is a huge distinction between traveling and taking a vacation).
I didn’t know anyone, nor did I understand a world the Aussies were saying. I learned English in school, yes, however, that was very different from the English people speak overseas (I will talk about this in more depth later on).
I lived in a beautiful beach town called Manly Beach, which is a suburb of Sydney. Everyone I met was traveling up and down the East Coast, enjoying the beaches, surfing, sailing and do all the awesome things traveler do.
But for me, I was basically stuck at school. A school for which I paid for with all my savings (10K). The decision was tough, but I wanted to travel too, so I asked them to relocate me, so I could split my school time between Cairns, Brisbane and Sydney.
Later down the line, I found a job at this hostel and became a travel agent. I liked it so much that I kept postponing to start university in Germany and started my own online business. It was a travel agency called “Take a Trip with Tina’’.
This is when I first got into the online, and in general, into the real business world.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career as an entrepreneur or business leader? We’d love to hear the story.
Many people along my journey inspired me to become the person I am today. There is not one person who changed everything. I think it was an accumulation of incidences, the hunger for more, the constant drive to learn and create things. I think this is what all business leaders or entrepreneurs have in common. Once you realize you are meant to go that route, you will find lots of mentors, books, courses, clubs and communities where you can learn more and where you can get to be yourself.
After I came back from Australia I moved to London and finally went to university there, as I just wanted to continue speaking English. Kingston University offered a lot of support for Entrepreneurs and I was part of the entrepreneur society which I really loved. Being surrounded by like-minded others who were also looking for more was critical for me to keep going the way I was going.
So for me, it was more a feeling of ‘more’, ‘change’ and ‘creation’ rather than an actual person. As an employee, your options are very limited. As an entrepreneur, you can build whatever you want. If that’s profitable or not in the end, that is another question haha.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
I don’t think there is one person whom I thank the success I have achieved today. I would rather say there are many people. Similar to the question above, there are a lot of mentors I had along the way. And by mentors, I also mean people I follow on YouTube or read their books, take their courses and in some cases being coached by as well. But mentorship to me doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have direct contact with a person you are learning from.
However, I have a very good friend who is also my ‘mentor’ for about 3 years now. His name is Steve Spiro and he is the co-founder of Audible. We met in Bali at a house party and have been really good friends ever since. When times are tough or I don’t know which path to take, Steve always has an open ear and is always happy to help me find my way and guide me in the right direction. I am very grateful to have made this connection. Bali is a magical place where magical things happen, all the time.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?
Definitely. The craziest experience I had so far was when I was working in the travel industry and I organized holidays for people. Very long story cut very short, I said yes to the wrong clients. The clients were in no way qualified, however, since we were in the same circles, I didn’t really want to say no and I also wanted to close another deal. The mistake is fully on me and I should have never taken the gig.
Anyway, I proceeded to organize a holiday for a family of 13 people and didn’t make a single penny- I basically worked weeks and weeks for free, planning, reserving, researching, to only at the end receiving the worst treatment possible by the ‘client’.
It turned out that the client only wanted me to organize transport for them and not any activities, which left me with 0 profit. They didn’t want to spend any money and thought they would be better off organizing the holiday themselves. The tour was half planned and I agreed to finish off the plan to receive a video testimonial in return. They agreed.
It was a terrible time. After they came back from their self-organized tours, they complained to me about their tour and reported back what they didn’t like… (but they also didn’t want a professional travel agent to plan their tour….)
Everything that could go wrong basically went wrong during this holiday. At the end of their holiday, the roof of the villa of where the client was staying caught on fire and the house nearly burned down.
This wasn’t our company’s fault, there was a fire down the road and the wind blew in their direction… but you can imagine that this incident just left negative memories to our company. It was a terrible 2 weeks and we also never saw the promised video testimonial (of course) which we worked completely free for haha.
The biggest lesson l learned here is to really choose your customers carefully. If someone is so cheap that they want to pay for only half of your services, you are better off with not taking them on as a client at all.
The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?
I would highly recommend anyone who wants to step in my footsteps, that as soon as you figure out your passion and what you are here to do, get yourself a business coach or mentor. I can not stress this enough.
If I would have paid someone to help me get to where I am at now, I would have made it multiple years earlier. I would also be a lot further right now. A coach or mentor can be a tremendous accelerator for your success journey. They have already walked the path and can point out things to you quickly which you may not even see.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Oh yes absolutely. “The E-Myth” by Michale E Gerber is probably the book which shifted my perspective on entrepreneurship the most.
For the longest time, I used to be ‘the technician’ in my business. For those who haven’t read the book, Gerber explains that there are three business personalities who run a business. The technician, the manager and the entrepreneur. So every business owner takes on those personalities when running their business.
The technician is the practical person, the “does” who “gets stuff done” and only lives in the now.
The manager is focused on the present and on the future and makes sure that results are being achieved through people and systems. He usually gives instructions to the technician.
And then there is the entrepreneur, the visionary who has the big ideas and who focuses on closing the gap between where the business wants to get to and where it’s at today.
Neither of these three personalities can co-exist without one another. So the number one mistake most business owners do is playing the role of all personalities.
This outlook changed my perspective big time back in the day. I grew up in the village on a farm, where you just ‘do stuff’, and ‘get things done’. Villagers are hard workers, and so am I. And this reflected itself very much in my business (I was the technician for the longest time), until I read this book which blew my mind.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
My favorite quote is: Decide, Commit, Succeed. I have it tattooed on my arm and it’s the ingredients to success. First, you must decide what you really want. Then you must 100% commit to getting it. If you are not clear on your decision, you will have a hard time to commit. Once you master those two parts, success is just around the corner.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
I am running two super amazing projects.
1) I help people to get into the online education sector and package up their knowledge into an online course which sells.
The e-learning industry is poised to become a $325 billion industry by 2025 and everyone wants to learn online. Due to coronavirus, many businesses have pivoted and moved online, and many more will. In many cases, it even turned out to be more cost-effective. Let’s take a yoga studio as an example. They are now able to scale much more compared to before. Online classes take away restrictions on room sizes and they can sell endless tickets online for a live yoga class for example. All they need to do is upgrade their Zoom license.
My job is to help people identify a profitable idea (while everyone may have a great course idea, not all of them are actually profitable) and package it up into an online course. My clients get the entire package from audience building online to creating the product and then scaling it and putting it on autopilot.
There is just so much to consider and to ‘do it right’ if you want to create a bestseller, which everyone should aim for I believe. Course creators are able to serve a lot more people with their expertise while equally reducing working hours. This idea is amazing and many people live a much happier life, having a passive income stream on the side.
Once I cracked that code and crashed that limited belief for myself (I used to think you need to work hard all the time for your money…Again, village thinking…) it became my mission in life and my duty to teach people otherwise and help them to become financially free.
2) We run an online community called The Biz Heroes, where we run regular online events, accountability events and masterminds.
Entrepreneurship is one of the biggest, if not the most effective self-development journey one can ever embark on and I decided to put those people into one community. Everyone in the club has amazing business or self-development related skills and experiences which we all share with each other in a safe space.
We have regular online events going on. Twice a month we have guest expert speakers in who talk about self-development or business-related topics. Our platform features different challenges our members can take on in order to level up their life or business. For example, we have a 30-day funnel building challenge, a 6 weeks self-love challenge, a 30-day fitness challenge, meditation challenges and many more…
Our challenges cover all the important areas in life we constantly need to take care of in order to maintain a high happiness and satisfaction level. Those areas are business/career, finances, relationships, physical environment, health, fitness and nutrition.
Our members love it!
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. As a business leader, you likely often face high stakes situations that involve a lot of pressure. Most of us tend to wither in the face of such pressure and stress. Can you share with our readers 3 or 4 strategies that you use to cope with the burden of stress?
This is my favourite advice I like to give to everyone. It’s more of a long term strategy and not a quick fix though.
Two years ago, I went to take part in a silent meditation retreat for two days. I went in to test the waters as I just wanted to see how it is.
A year later (last year) I suffered from burnout and decided to go the second time to the temple, but this time for 10 days straight. I went over Christmas. This experience changed me forever and put me on a very interesting journey.
It was the toughest thing I have ever done (and I have done quite a few things in my life), but nothing was as hard as meditating for 10 days straight… Being there, you don’t talk, you barely eat or sleep.
Coming out of the 10 days experience taught me so much and gave me so much clarity regarding my business and life that I am now making it a yearly ritual to go back to a temple every single year to press the reset button and to find answers to my questions.
Either business-related or personal life-related. I think it’s the best activity you can ever do to decrease stress and get a very clear picture of where you want to go in life & in business.
It doesn’t only make you a calmer person in general, it also helps you to see things much clearer and therefore to become a better decision-maker.
Another strategy I follow when I am about to have a very important meeting or interview is to listen to my favorite music (Happy Harcore), just about 30 minutes before the event. It puts me in an awesome state of mind and boosts my mood and energy tremendously. You want to rock up in an amazing state of energy as it’s contagious and you want people to remember yourself.
Last but certainly not least is exercising. I think you should do a little bit of exercise every single day.
But the most relaxing exercise which specifically helps me to keep calm and to release a lot of “happy hormones” is swimming. You basically catch two birds with one stone. You get the body movement in as well as a descend breathing exercise. Swimming keeps the heart rate up and takes a lot of pressure off your shoulders. It affects neurotransmitters such as serotonin and produces ANP (a stress-reducing hormone), which helps control the brain’s response to stress and anxiety.
Swimming is one of my regular routines anyway, but if I have something important coming up, I will double down on my swimming sessions.
Aside from being able to deal with the burden of stress, can you share with our readers 3 or 4 strategies that you use to optimize your mind for peak performance before high pressure, high-stress situations?
I minimize distraction.
You may not think this, but even a short walk to the supermarket will take away some of your mental resources, which is totally unnecessary.
I don’t use my phone, I don’t check my emails or social media and I don’t talk to anyone. I have food prepared already or I order it to be delivered to my doorstep. I exclude every possible interaction with the outside world so my mind can stay focused and achieve the maximum result possible.
Do you use any special or particular breathing techniques, meditations or visualizations to help optimize yourself? If you do, we’d love to hear about it.
I plan, and I plan properly.
To keep following my visions & missions I need to keep on track of it, every single year, month, week and yes, even every day.
Here is the exact strategy for how I plan:
𝐘𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐥𝐲 𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠: I know exactly how many times I want to launch which product. I have a rough plan in which month I want to do so. I have a set financial goal. (All noted down on Excel)
𝐌𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐡𝐥𝐲 𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠: I write down the bigger goals for each month I need to accomplish in order to keep up with the yearly plan. What is it I need to achieve this month? Which content do I need to create, which campaigns do I need to run etc? What are my financial goals? (Noting down all the bigger goals again on Excel, and all the smaller tasks I need to do to achieve the bigger things on a Trello board)
𝗪𝐞𝐞𝐤𝐥𝐲 𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠: Now this is where it becomes interesting…
I write down the 5 most important tasks of the week — I do these only after I have completed the above tasks
I write down 5 tasks of secondary importance — I do these only after I have completed the above tasks
I write down 5 additional tasks — I do these only after I have completed the above tasks
I choose the #1 priority task from the weekly plan, this is my most important task of the day — If this was the only thing I did on that day, I’d be satisfied.
Secondary tasks of importance: completion of these tasks will make the day even better.
Additional tasks: I do these only after I have completed the tasks above.
I review every day and tick those task off the list (it will release dopamine in your brain and will encourage you to keep finishing things).
I look at my Trello board and put the listed tasks into this physical productivity planner for weekly & daily planning
Writing down things physically with your hands goes deeper into your subconscious mind.
And a fun thing to do at the end of the week is a weekly review.
- Weekly wins — What’s going well? Any wins (big or little) this week?
- What tasks were not completed last week? I will recommit to complete these tasks next week unless they are not relevant anymore.
- What have I learned this week? How will I implement this in the future?
- Next week: What actions will I take to ensure my week is productive?
Things and plans obviously change along the way when evaluating results, market behaviour etc. And things can and will change, sometimes even within days, and that’s ok.
𝐈𝐭’𝐬 𝐎𝐊 𝐭𝐨 𝐚𝐝𝐣𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐧. 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐤𝐞𝐲 𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐓𝐇𝐀𝐓 𝐓𝐇𝐄𝐑𝐄 𝐈𝐒 𝐀 𝐏𝐋𝐀𝐍.
The only way how to reach your goals is if you tell your brain which goals you want to achieve, by when and that you want to achieve them.
You must give it a blueprint. A plan to follow. And it will follow, kind of automatically. Our brains are actually pretty amazing things if we use them right.
Giving your brain a blueprint and a direction to go towards is vital to prevent to run in the wrong direction (some do it for years) and to guide yourself towards things in life you actually want (and not other people told you so).
Do you have a special technique to develop a strong focus, and clear away distractions?
Yes. I am most productive in the mornings. This means I will only create in the mornings. If I want to learn anything, which means consuming content, this is scheduled for the evenings as it takes away a lot of energy and mental capacity.
I also use social media app blockers on my phone to assure I won’t distract myself with mindless Facebook or Instagram scrolling during my productive creation time.
We all know the importance of good habits. How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?
Absolutely. That would be planning (as mentioned above) and visualizing. Having a clear idea of what you want comes first and then having a clear plan on how you are going to get it is vital.
Developing a repetitive routine which suits my lifestyle has been vital for me to increase focus as well as regular journaling.
I love to do an exercise with my clients called the 20-year vision. It’s a step by step process where I help them to identify what they want in their life in all the important areas of life (mentioned above). We then divide it into the years and create a clear action plan on how to achieve it.
If you give your mind just a blueprint to get to where you want it to go, then it will eventually happen.
What is the best way to develop great habits for optimal performance? How can one stop bad habits?
Breaking down a bad habit on paper is a great tool to really see what’s going on. Note it down and write down all the bad things which come with this habit. Then write down alternatives with which you can substitute this habit, pick one and start to implement it into your life.
As a business leader, you likely experience times when you are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a state of Flow more often in our lives?
I think focusing on one project at the time is truly key. If you focus on more than one thing, you don’t even give yourself the chance to be in the flow. Creating momentum in your work is key to get into the flow state, to be excited about your work, to be able to inspire others and ultimately feel happiness and satisfaction.
Also, doing only the things you want to do in your business is vital to achieve or maintain the state of flow. Everything that you don’t want to do, look into outsourcing it. If we focus on only one thing, and we enjoy and love it at the same time, magic happens.
Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I would love to be able to change the traditional education system. It’s so outdated and is not preparing anyone for real life. We forget about most topics which are being discussed in school the minute we pass the exam as they never ever cross our paths every again.
Think about it, has ever anyone asked you about algebra again?
The literature we read at school, such as “Romeo and Juliet” or “The Odyssey”, how will this change anyone’s life? It doesn’t add any value to solve any problems or prepare anyone to the problems students will be facing in today’s world.
When these books were written, the kids from today didn’t exist so it is really hard to create a connection between students and the characters in the book, and experiences those characters are having.
The industrial age where we are trying to mass-produce and mass control has passed but it still runs deep in schools.
The traditional education system hasn’t been updated in hundreds of years, but our world is evolving faster than ever. How can this be right?
With the rise of social media and the fast development of technology, students are better off reading books or taking classes about cyberbullying, artificial intelligence, meditation and how to find your passion, just to name a few examples.
All-day long students don’t do anything else but following instructions and are being rewarded for following these. Their success depends on doing exactly what they are being told, and how much they can remember.
While this was useful during the industrial age (to produce an army of people who just do what they have been told), it’s not so useful in today’s day and age.
Today you will get far if you can communicate your own ideas if you are creative and able to collaborate with other people. It’s not about being quiet and about sitting still anymore.
The message which the traditional educational system is portraying is actually very dangerous. It teaches people to follow a certain schedule and shows them that they are not in control of their own life. Does this surprise anyone that kids are bored and demotivated by the school?
This is why I am such an advocate of online courses. People can take any class they want, any time, whenever they want from wherever they want, and if they find out it’s not what they want to learn, then so it may be.
If you decide an online class you just bought isn’t for you, then there is not much you have just lost. You are not stuck for an entire year with some institution and don’t lose an entire year of tuition fee either. It’s just crazy if you think about it and start comparing it.
If I could inspire a movement, then that would 100% be restructuring the traditional educational system and implement different systems, procedures and subjects. I would also carefully select teachers who have had experience in the field they are looking to teach (and have actually achieved success in the specific subjects themselves).
Theory and praxis are so very different from each other like day and night. If you want to learn French at school, I believe a French teacher should be teaching (not an English, German or Spanish person for example).
If you teach business, I strongly believe someone who had great success in business should be teaching how it really is in the real world- I don’t believe in tutors who have just studied the theory of business. I don’t think they should have any authority whatsoever to teach business at all.
If you teach “how to do your taxes” (which I believe should definitely be a subject, as boring as that’s sounds) then I believe someone from the tax office should be teaching this lesson (provided they know what they are talking about themselves). Hah!
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them :-)
Absolutely. I would love to have an English cup of tea with Sir Richard Branson. I have been following his work closely for many years. He has been very inspiring and once I found out we both have the same “personality type”, which is The Creator, I stopped feeling bad about myself.
I like to create a lot of things in a very short amount of time and only finish some… He taught me to embrace this personality, feel grateful about it and that it’s actually an amazing trait to have.
The key here is to find other supporters along the way who can substitute each other shortcomings. So I would really love to discuss this and many more things with Sir Richard Branson.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.