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AP 1082: I Start a Lot of Ideas, But How Do I Follow-Through and Stick to One?

AP 1082: I Start a Lot of Ideas, But How Do I Follow-Through and Stick to One?

By Pat Flynn on

Jeremy runs two podcasts: The Aworkening, focused on new ways of working people are discovering with the changes that come from technology, and the Pick the Brain podcast, which is in the self-improvement space. One of the problems he keeps running into is that while it’s easy for him to come up with new ideas and get things started, following through and building them into something that can succeed over the long time is much more difficult.

On this coaching call, we talk about a problem that I can certainly relate to. When I first got laid off from my job and needed to make something work for me and my family, I had a lot of different ideas of how to get started in the online business space. I kept coming up with idea after idea, but it wasn’t really until I looked into what it takes to actually succeed that I realized I needed to commit to a single project for a year to a year-and-a-half to actually make it work. If I could get it to a point where I could automate it, I could move on to other things and all my new ideas.

With Jeremy, and I think with a lot of people, we get to a point where we realize that his struggle is about setting the right goals. Yes, it’s good to shoot for the stars because if you miss, you still might wind up on the moon. But you also need to be thinking about what’s realistic so you can reverse-engineer how to get there. What’s surprising is that, for most people, those goals are closer than they think.

So many people—when I ask them what their goal is with the business that they’re starting—tell me they want to be a millionaire. When we actually break that down, it’s actually more about what it would take for them to quit their 9-5, which is actually more like 55,000 a year. Instead of giving up because you’ll never reach that seven-figure goal, they just need to shift their mindset to hit that smaller goal first and then build from there. Jeremy has that revelation, and I’m excited to see what he’s going to get up to next.

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Pat Flynn: What’s up everybody? Pat Flynn here, and welcome to Episode 1082 of AskPat 2.0. You’re about to listen in on a coaching call between myself and an entrepreneur just like you. Today we’re talking with Jeremy, who’s the host of The Aworkening, and he has another podcast and other things that he’s going to talk about. But one thing that he has that I know a lot of us have is a bunch of ideas. We start a bunch of things, but you know what? We don’t always follow through and finish. Jeremy has this problem and we’re going to talk through it today. This is something that I’m very familiar with, I don’t know about you, but how great is it to start and think about new ideas, but how hard does it get? And then, when do we stop and move on to something else? When should we keep going? That’s what we’re going to talk about today, so let’s not wait any further. This is Jeremy, host of the Aworkening podcast. Listen in.

Pat: Hey Jeremy, welcome to AskPat 2.0, thanks for joining me today. How are you?

Jeremy Fisher: I’m doing well, doing well. Thanks for having me.

Pat: Awesome. Why don’t you take a quick minute to share with everybody listening who you are and what you do?

Jeremy: I guess the best way to describe myself is a serial side hustler. I do all kinds of things, just because I have so many interests, but my primary focus is podcasting and trying to kind of build brands around those. The newest project that I’m the most excited about that I’ve been working on—that’s probably got the wholest part of my heart—is called The Aworkening, which is basically a podcast that explores the new world of work, and all of the things that are changing in the world of work. Pat, you’ve been a part of that with Smart Passive Income, but the idea that some opportunities that are out there, side hustles, things in the gig economy, blogging, things that are new ways of working and earning a living that didn’t exist—sometimes fifteen years ago, sometimes even five years ago. And so, I podcast, and blog, and sort of explore that topic and call it the Aworkening, which is kind of what’s happening. It’s a work awakening.

Pat: I like that play on words. It’s really nice. And that’s live on iTunes and all the, or, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, everywhere, people can go listen to that now?

Jeremy: Yep. It’s out there.

Pat: Fantastic. We’ll definitely link to it in the show notes for everybody. Why is that filling your heart, to go down that direction, and discover all this stuff, and start sharing it? Why does that light you up so much?

Jeremy: Well, what’s funny is I spent, I don’t know, probably eight years or more exploring different ideas myself, and I noticed that I would get really, really excited about something for about a month, maybe two months, and then that excitement would sort of start to die down a little bit when the actual hard work started, and then I was onto the next idea. I noticed that I was doing this over and over and over with a lot of my ideas, and not really building anything that had a foundation, and I decided that it’s probably because I’m actually most excited about the ideas. I’m the most excited about uncovering and talking about the actual ideas themselves, rather than digging deep on each one.

And so, I said, “Well, this is probably something I should actually do. I should actually probably start up a podcast around this idea.” And since I’ve been doing that, I’ve been sharing ideas with other people and I’ve found that the thing that really lights me up the most, more than anything I’ve ever come across in my entire life, is sharing an idea that no one has ever heard of or thought about and letting them run with it. That really lights me up. That’s the thing that I am the most passionate about.

Pat: I love that. And so, it’s almost like you’re able to help others, but also help yourself, by just generating these ideas, talking about them, and then sort of letting somebody else run with them, and then you get to kind of try something new and discover a new idea. Right?

Jeremy: Yeah. Yeah.

Pat: I love that. That’s really cool. So what’s challenging you right now? What’s on your mind?

Jeremy: Well, so, one of the things that I got to experience with all of these starting and stopping of ideas, is that none of them ever really went anywhere. None of them ever really went very deep. I’ve got a couple of projects now that I’ve been working on for a few years that are materializing, and they’re turning into legitimate income sources. I’ve got another podcast that’s in the self-improvement space that gets about a million downloads a year, and is generating a pretty decent advertising revenue, and continues to grow. Along with that project, I’ve been approached to work on a partner for a publishing deal with Random House, and we’ve also got a membership site that we’re looking at launching next year, which has just massive potential.

And so, I’m at an interesting crossroads now, where, and of course there’s The Aworkening as well, which has a lot of potential with growing that brand. So, I’m at a bit of a crossroads now, where a lot of the things that I’ve been kind of playing around with, have been concepts and ideas, and I mean, you can say maybe dreams, that I would get excited about, but they never really seemed real to me. Because I didn’t give them the growth that they needed, they had never really materialized into something real. And so, what I think I’m struggling with now, is things are changing, the success is coming, the things that I’ve been wanting to turn into something for years and years are actually beginning to materialize, and I am trying to find out how I get out of my own way, basically, and let these things happen instead of sort of letting my natural inclinations happen and bail on them.

In preparation for this call, I was doing a little bit of introspection, trying to figure out why it is that I do abandon these ideas as soon as they start getting difficult, and I realized that it’s probably a mindset issue. I think that there’s probably a piece of me that never really thought that some of these things would turn into something real. And so, maybe I never gave them that effort because I never thought they would, but now that I have some ideas and some projects that are materializing and turning into something real, something that can provide me and my family a potentially great income, and this be the thing that I do moving forward, I kind of just want to make sure that I don’t talk myself out of it and bail on it. Does that make sense?

Pat: It makes total sense. And it’s very common to have those feelings as an entrepreneur, and it’s scary because now you’ve got something that’s finally working and you don’t want to kind of fall in the same trap. But I think number one, just realizing that that is a common pattern for yourself is key, because now you’re putting things into place to stop yourself from doing that. If you were to say what defense mechanisms you’ve been putting into place so that you keep going with these ideas that are working, what have you done to stay the path and stay in that lane?

Jeremy: Well, one of the things that I’ve been doing is really focusing on how I’m feeling when I want to bail. What is causing me to want to quit right now? Is it the work? Is it that I need to learn more? Am I feeling lazy? Whatever it is, I’m trying to decide why I’m being motivated to want to leave, and I think what I’ve found at the core of it, is just that it’s less about the project itself, and more about, do I feel like I can actually do it?

What’s interesting is the feedback I’ve been getting from all these projects is that people really, really like what I’ve been working on. They like my perspective on it. They like the time that I’ve been pouring into it and the perspectives that I’ve got, and tons of people are finding ideas. I mean, I’m getting emails almost every day from people that are talking about the ideas that we’re sharing about on The Aworkening. It’s almost like I can never hear enough of other people saying that it is impacting their lives, for me to hear it, to know that I was sort of born to do this. In all honesty, I’d like to say that yeah, sure, I know I can do this, I can do anything. It’s funny because I view the world in a way that I do think that there are an endless amount of opportunities and I think that almost anyone can do whatever they set their mind to. But when the rubber meets the road, to me, I’m kind of like, “Well, I’m not sure I’m one of those.” It’s bizarre. It’s like, I can see potential in other people, and almost downplay the potential I have in myself.

Pat: Are you, with your self-improvement stuff and also with The Aworkening, are you already at that point where you kind of just want to change directions with those, too?

Jeremy: No, that’s the interesting thing. I don’t want to stop the self-improvement blog, because that one doesn’t tie a lot of my time up, and it also doesn’t require a lot of mental energy, because I sort of live and breathe that world. The Aworkening, I don’t want to quit that because I’m really, really excited about that. The downside of that is that it does, the way that I’ve set the episodes up and the way that I sort of produce them and do everything on my own, that one requires a lot more time, and a lot of the creative element, which also drains a lot more energy. So, I don’t want to quit them. I actually really want to see where this can go because I think there’s a lot of potential in them. I don’t have a desire to quit them because of the difficulty. I don’t have the same type of bail mentality with these. I actually feel like these are going to lead to something really great for me and my family. I just have a difficult time accepting or preparing for that.

Pat: It’s really interesting. You had mentioned something just in passing there, the fact that you, especially with The Aworkening, are doing everything on your own at this current point in time. I know in my experience, and we’ve heard it here on AskPat before, that a lot of times people start to feel the need to bail because things start to feel like work, not fun, new, and exciting anymore, once they commit to something, because there is that work that’s involved, and after you’ve done it for a bunch of times, it’s less fun in terms of the production and a lot of those things, like you said, that’s taking up time.

For somebody who is more visionary like yourself, we’ve talked about a book here many times on AskPat called Rocket Fuel (Amazon link), and that book goes and dives deep into sort of the perfect equation and partnership for any successful business. [Full Disclaimer: As an affiliate, I receive compensation if your purchase through this link.] It goes into a lot of historical businesses and it really gives you the formula of this partnership between a visionary, very much like you, Jeremy—and myself as well—and then somebody who is the “integrator,” who can do those things that the visionary wants to do in the beginning, but then shouldn’t continue to do. But, the integrator then kind of takes on those roles, to allow the visionary to stay a visionary and to stay excited. Whether that’s creating something brand new, with that time that would otherwise be used for grinding within that business, that kind of life-sucking stuff for the visionary, not life-sucking for the integrator. That’s the stuff the integrator loves to do. Or, coming up with more ideas within the same realm.

So, we’re kind of talking about two things here. Number one, getting support for, now that you know you want to commit down this route, finding others, or getting help, or putting other systems into place to help with the efficiency and optimization of that. But then secondly, allowing yourself to have more ideas, but within these realms, within these verticals. And that’s what’s really helpful for me, because I’m very much like you, Jeremy. I come up with so many different ideas and I get excited about it, and I get excited about the possibilities. And so, what I’ve allowed myself to do is come up with new ideas, but only within this space of Smart Passive Income, at least for right now. And so, new ideas come out and I get excited, but it still relates to what I’m doing. So it’s sort of like a 2.0 or 3.0 of sorts. How does that resonate with you? Or, what are your thoughts based on all of that I just said?

Jeremy: Yeah, no, it sounds like a good strategy, something that I can certainly work towards and should be able to implement with the . . . It’s one of the nicest things about podcasting, is that I can leverage other people’s . . . you know, I can maybe have somebody else do the production, and things that are a little more time intensive, so that it frees me up to do some of the visionary stuff.

I’m curious, in your experience, Pat, whenever you cross that barrier from, “Okay, this is sort of a hobby that I’ve been playing around with,” and, “Now this is actually going to provide an income for my family,” and even beyond, you’ve gone, obviously you’ve got amazing success with Smart Passive Income and the things you’ve been doing there. Was there a point in time when you sort of had to get past, “Okay, this is no longer a hobby, this is real, I need to accept this, I need to own it, I need to . . .” What, in your experience, happened at that time that kind of, where it’s able to push you into the next level, where it wasn’t just another little hobby that you had been playing around with? This is real, this is actually happening.

Pat: Yeah, it was actually through a lot of research on other people and their online businesses. I was in a community back when I was starting, and I want to bring you back to 2008, 2009, this is when I started my architecture website. And so, number one, for that website, the biggest thing that was motivating me to keep moving forward was survival, because I had just gotten laid off, and I was like, “I have to make this work and I have to commit to it.” And when I was doing research, it was those businesses that committed to about a year to a year and a half of work within a single project, that I saw were most successful. And so, even though I had a number of other ideas for different kinds of websites to start, it was the one that gave me the most feedback, positive feedback based on sales numbers, yes, but also customer feedback. I mean, my very first fan was somebody who was following me on my architecture website and who I had helped pass an exam, and it was just really weird to see that I could actually help people, in that little small niche that I was helping people pass an exam in.

It was those businesses that committed that were most successful, and I figured that, “Okay, if I commit a year to two years to this, I still have the option of trying new things after I get it to a point of automation.” So, using tools, using people to remove myself from that so that I can then focus on something else. That was number one, just sort of looking at other businesses and just having a clear understanding based on other people’s experiences, that I have to devote time and energy into this in order for it to take off. And then later I can remove myself from it and then give myself to another idea, which then became Smart Passive Income. And then I dedicated a lot of my time and effort into that.

So, what are your thoughts on that time period? Are you giving yourself that much time or are you seemingly abandoning ideas after the start, at a certain time period? Have you noticed any patterns in relation to time with these ideas that you’ve had before?

Jeremy: Yeah, I definitely front-load a lot more time in the beginning. I noticed that I spend a lot of time developing the concepts, a lot of time trying to visualize what the brand would look like. With The Aworkening, for example, I had forty episodes ready before I even launched the podcast.

Pat: Geez, that’s insane.

Jeremy: Yeah. Well, I wanted to basically front-load all the work and then have it release on a schedule where I could actually have plenty of time to feel creative and come up with new episodes, and not have to do season breaks and that kind of thing. Because I’m already producing with the other podcast, a podcast twice a week, every single week. The Aworkening, it was going to be another workload. I’ve got an alternative source of income that I spend forty hours a week on, and oh, by the way, I’ve got my first child coming in September.

Pat: Ah, well congratulations.

Jeremy: Thanks. So my struggle, of course, is that, this struggle that so many other people have, that there’s not enough time in the day. But I usually find a way to get enough done to fulfill the needs that both of the podcasts, and the blog and everything is requiring. Obviously, if those turn into a larger income and they build into something great, then I can drop the alternative incomes, and just focus on the two or three that are providing the largest income, which would be the self-improvement podcast and The Aworkening. But the in between time is where my time becomes limited. So, I think that leveraging the other people, finding someone else to do some of the work for me, is a good thing to look at. And also, trying to get a little bit more focused on one thing at a time in terms of as I’m working on it.

Pat: Yeah, that was the other thing I was going to mention. The book The One Thing (Amazon link) was definitely very, very helpful for me to understand why I need to devote more energy into smaller groups of things versus that same energy across many other different projects. [Full Disclaimer: As an affiliate, I receive compensation if your purchase through this link.] I’m curious, though, I want to dive a little bit into you when you start these projects, or even with these two that you have now that you’re very excited about. How are you thinking about your goals? Do you have goals for them, and how are you sort of motivating yourself with those goals?

Jeremy: So, I have goals. What’s interesting about me is that I set, I think, unrealistic expectations, and when those expectations aren’t met, I kind of become discouraged. So, for example, the Pick the Brain podcast, which is the self-improvement podcast, it’s doing really well. It’s doing a lot better than the average podcast, and it continues to grow, and we’re getting a lot of downloads and a lot of interest from advertisers, but in my mind, I always want that show to be five times, ten times, a hundred times larger. So, when it comes out that it’s doubled or tripled in a certain given period of time, it’s almost like I don’t accept that as good enough. And it’s this interesting struggle where part of me is like, “Well, I want high expectations. I want high standards, I want high goals, because if you aim high, you’re more likely to hit high.” But on the other hand, I have to wonder if that contributes to my desire to want to move to the next thing, if it is the not-meeting of my expectations that sucks energy out from me.

Pat: I mean, what do you think?

Jeremy: That’s probably what it is. Yeah.

Pat: It reminds me of when I talk to people who want to start a business and I go, “Okay, well what are your goals?” And they go, “I want to be a millionaire.” And I’m like, “Okay, that’s cool. Why do you want to be a millionaire?” And they go, “Oh, I think that would be success to me.” And millionaire is a very common goal, it’s a nice seven-figure number, et cetera. But then, when I go a little bit deeper and I go, “Okay, well, do you need to become a millionaire to be successful?” And we start to crunch a little bit into the math, and we start to realize that, “Wow, okay, well, fifty-five thousand dollars a year would actually be really, really great, because then I’d be able to escape my 9-5. Wow, I don’t need to be a billionaire. Holy crap, like this is completely rearranging sort of my . . .”

You know, like if somebody wanted to be a millionaire and they didn’t have to be, but that was in their mind, if they had nine hundred thousand dollars made in the year, they would still feel like a failure. Right? And I think perhaps maybe that’s a little bit similar to what’s going on. So, I think that having high expectations and high goals is important, but I think that thinking about that versus, well, what would make you happy, those are two different things, right? You can still not reach a goal and be happy, if you know what happy is. And so, I’d like to dive a little bit into sort of, well, what would make you happy in these instances that you’re putting time into?

Jeremy: I think what would make me happy is one of the concepts, one of the projects that I’ve been working on to provide enough income to where I have complete freedom with what I do with my time. And I think that that’s probably a matter of just breaking down how much that needs to be, and maybe working on how to achieve that with these particular goals. Because it’s very possible, probably even likely, that these high expectations that I’m setting, these unreasonably high expectations that are one-in-a-million likelihood of happening, is probably a clever way for me to hide from actually having to put in the work and make something real happen. So, that’s probably what’s going on.

Pat: That’s a pretty big realization. I think that’s pretty game-changing.

Jeremy: Yeah, and maybe that’s it. Maybe that’s the thing that I needed to uncover in order to prepare for the next stage of success that’s hopefully coming my way, with the projects that are materializing.

Pat: I have these giant goals, too, in our team we call them moonshot goals, right? And we have allowed ourselves to be okay if we don’t hit those moonshot goals, because like you said, again, I think it’s very reasonable—very, very important actually, to aim high, because if you shoot for the stars, maybe you don’t get there, but hey, you’ll land on the moon and that’s still great. But, that does not define success versus failure. That’s based on our team, like you said, getting into the numbers and understanding where are we at, where do we want to go, when do we want to get there by? Thus, then in turn telling us, “Okay, well, in order to do that, well, let’s reverse engineer the steps that we need to do. So, in two weeks, during our next sprint, we need these things done because that’s going to help us get there, and then by this time a launch is going to happen that’ll help us achieve those goals.” And so, I do think that this is going to be a—and you mentioned this in the beginning, it’s a mindset thing, and I think you were able to . . . and it was you, you uncovered it yourself, you uncovered what I think is a crutch that’s sort of holding you back. It’s interesting because it’s actually the motivation that you have that’s working against you, in a way, which is really interesting. So, I think the first steps are to determine what is that level of success in terms of happy, and I would care to guess that you’re really close to it, and you don’t realize how close you are to it.

Jeremy: Yeah, I think that’s fair.

Pat: Cool. So, you tell me, what are your next steps from here? And then do you mind if we check in back with you later in the year or perhaps early next, to see how you progress? We could even talk about life as a father and an entrepreneur. And I’ll tell you I . . . It’s funny, I’m just remembering what it was like when I had my first son, our first child. The baby really helps put into perspective what you should be doing and where time is spent, and it definitely helps you hook onto those opportunities that are right in front of you. So, I think the timing is perfect, because it’s going to combine with the realizations in this episode with baby and mama, just all those things combined, I think you’re going to skyrocket. What was the name of the podcast again? I want to make sure people can check that out too.

Jeremy: It’s called Pick the Brain.

Pat: Pick the Brain, cool. And again, we’ll put all that in the show notes, but just sort of summing everything up, tell us what’s going to happen next, and then we’ll close off.

Jeremy: I’m going to do some exploration on really defining what happiness looks like, and put together some strategic steps to accomplish that. And that might include bringing in some help, if my time becomes limited, and see where it goes.

Pat: Very cool. I’m really excited about the membership site stuff. That’s stuff that I may be exploring too, and if you need any help with that kind of stuff, I know a lot of people, like Stu McLaren, and The Membership Guys, who have done that before, so when that time comes, let me know. Be happy to help you out with that, too. Jeremy, this was amazing. Thank you so much. Looking forward to hearing more from you later, and best of luck to you.

Jeremy: Thank you, Pat. I just want to thank you for all that you do for everyone listening, you’ve been a huge inspiration and help to me and I know you have been to tons and tons of other people, so thank you.

Pat: Thank you for that. Alright, I hope you enjoyed that coaching call with Jeremy Fisher. Again, you can find him at The Aworkening, A-W-O-R-K-E-N-I-N-G podcast, and don’t forget his other podcast, Pick the Brain podcast, which is doing very well, too. Jeremy, well done, I think we’ve covered some really big grounds here related to where this idea of wanting to start something new is coming from, or where it feels like things aren’t good enough. I think that we all need to check in with ourselves to understand, okay, well, what’s the definition of happy for us, and what are the big goals that we have, that even if we don’t make them, hey, we can still be happy. So, let’s think about that as we finish up today’s episode.

And again, big shout out and thank you to everybody who subscribed to AskPat. If you haven’t done so already, please do that. And if you want to get coached, just like Jeremy did today, all you have to do is go to, fill out the application there, and I may reach back out to you in the future. You guys are what makes this show a success, because obviously AskPat would be nothing if nobody asked me anything. So, I appreciate you all for that and thank you to everybody who has helped support Superfans, which just recently came out. You can go check it out on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Target. I’m just so thankful for all the support there. I appreciate you so much. Wow. Just, thank you for the—I mean, it’s just been amazing. Take care everybody. Thank you so much, and hey, we’ll see you in the next episode. Team Flynn for the win.

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