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SPI 449: A Blast from the Past and Life’s Interesting Journey — Back After 8 Years

Let’s be real for a second: it has been a crazy year. Nonetheless, I’m super grateful for so much right now. My family, my business partners, and people like you who support the work that I do. Thank you so much.

You know, even though the pandemic has been terrible, it’s given me the opportunity to slow down, plan ahead, and think about what’s working, what isn’t, and where I want to go from here. What does an amazing day look like, going forward? Super grateful for those conversations.

And speaking of conversations I’m grateful for, oh man, today’s episode is one of them. I’m bringing back on Brendan Hufford, who I featured on the show all the way back in Episode 49—400 episodes and eight years ago! I wanted Brendan to come back on so we could get an update. What’s happened in those eight years? As an SEO expert, what’s changed that we should know about when it comes to SEO? What’s been his experience as an admin for the SPI Facebook community? What lessons has he learned as a dad of four and an entrepreneur? We get into all of that and a whole lot more, so don’t hesitate: hit that play button!

Today’s Guest

Brendan Hufford

While teaching full-time for over a decade, Brendan Hufford learned from Pat & SPI (even being featured on Episode 49). This helped him build and sell two online businesses. Frustrated at the state of SEO education, he created and launched SEO for the Rest of Us in 2019. He currently works with enterprise brands and software companies, leading the SEO team at an agency.

SEO for the Rest of Us

You’ll Learn


Full Disclosure: As an Amazon affiliate, SPI Media receives compensation—at no additional cost to you—if you purchase through the Amazon links below.

SPI 449: A Blast from the Past and Life’s Interesting Journey — Back After 8 Years

Pat Flynn:
So it is Thanksgiving week here in the US and it made me reflect a little bit about the crazy year that we’ve had and all the things that — although it’s been crazy with the pandemic, and there’s a lot of things that I wished didn’t happen — there are in fact things that I’m very glad that did happen and special people who I can be thankful for and grateful for.

And you, you are one of them, a listener of the podcast. I appreciate you so much for that, being a part of Team Flynn. I appreciate my team. I appreciate my family, especially my wife, April for stepping up and managing the kids, especially more than she already was with the virtual learning at home.

I’m grateful for my partners, Caleb, on the SwitchPod, I’m grateful for again, you, the audience and The Income Stream, my morning show on YouTube. There’s just so much stuff that has happened. I’m also grateful because this year —although again, the pandemic was terrible — it’s allowed me to slow down a little bit and start thinking about the future.

And these past seven months, since kind of everything went down, I started to consider, “Wow, well, you know, the one thing that I’m not doing this year that I had always done since 2011 was speak, speak on stages, and so many events were canceled this year. I was supposed to speak on probably 10 to 12, and despite not going and traveling, I found that things are okay. And I think I put in the time early on to do that, I thought that was really important for me to go out and speak and meet and network and present and build out authority and build up my chops on stage. And now having done several virtual conferences this year and realizing just how things are still able to get done and I can focus more without the travel, without the speaking, I’ve definitely made the decision to do less of it. I think it’s something that April and the kids are definitely happy about. It’s not that I’m never going to speak again, but I’m definitely going to be more selective. I was saying yes to probably too many at some point.

And of course the events that do happen in San Diego, like Social Media Marketing World and of course FlynnCon, my event will still happen, at least this next coming year if we’re allowed to.

But beyond that, I’m grateful to have this time to slow down and plan ahead. And me and April have spoken quite deeply about, “Well, where do we want to go from here?What does our future five years from now look like? And what do we expect an amazing day to be during that time?” And I’m grateful for those conversations. And I recommend that you have those conversations with those who are around you as well. Challenge your friends, challenge your family, to have deep conversations about what the pandemic has allowed you to understand what is important and what you could potentially let go of. So I’m grateful for that too.

And I wanted to spend today to bring on a special guest, a person who hasn’t been on the show since Episode 49. This is legit 400 episodes ago to the number. And that’s pretty crazy. It actually wasn’t planned like that, because I wanted to have Brendan Hufford come on to talk about his journey and how his life has changed since eight years ago when Episode 49 came about and the ups and downs that he has had. And what is he thankful for as well to end up where he’s at?

So we’re going to get an update from Brendan. We’re going to go into a little bit of his journey and the good and the bad and the ugly and all the above. And I want you to reflect on your journey as well and what’s gotten you here, especially this year. And hopefully you’ve made the best of a crazy situation. And as Michael Hyatt often says, “What does this make possible?” If you haven’t yet thought about that, I invite you to do so. So sit back, relax. After the intro, we’ll just dive right into the interview with Brendan. We’re not even going to go into a secondary intro like we normally do, so welcome to Episode 449 of the Smart Passive Income Podcast. I’m grateful for you. Let’s get this show started!

Welcome to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, where it’s all about working hard now, so you can sit back and reap the benefits later. And now your host — he’s a master at the Ticket to Ride board game (not sponsored) — Pat Flynn!

Brendon, welcome back to the Smart Passive Income Podcast. It has been too long, my friend. Thanks for coming on.

Brendan Hufford:
It’s been a minute, right? Super excited.

How many years? I mean . . . Episode 49. So we’re talking here, 400-ish episodes ago.

It’s been awhile. I mean, the last time we chatted here on the podcast, I was just a regular classroom teacher. I’m still very regular, but I was a classroom teacher just trying to build something on the side, something meaningful.

And you came on to talk about the business that you had in the community that you were building around Brazilian jiu-jitsu and what you were doing there. Like, what has happened since then related to that business? Because that was taking off. You were selling his and merchandise and building that community. Where’s that now, are you still with that or?

Yeah. Great question. So when I first came on all of those years ago, first of all, all of that happened because I sent you an email that was just like, “Hey, here’s a bunch of screenshots of things you told me to do on the blog. And I did them and here’s the results.”

So if there’s one tactic people take away from this episode is just like, do the things people tell you to do and share them with them and all of these cool serendipitous things happen from there.

I mean, why wouldn’t I share that with everybody else? It’s inspiring and it makes me look good. So that is a good tactic.

A hundred percent. And I think at the time it was so funny because I think I even teased—first of all, go download Episode49, time travel back with Pat and I, listen to that, come back, listen to the rest of this. But at the time I remember I even teased like, “Oh, I have a secret project I can’t really talk about right now.”

And it’s so funny. Cause it’s all hindsight. But I’d built this little affiliate website, realized I was making all of this money for the companies that I was affiliate for and then started my own brand. I learned importing and exporting because we don’t have =the ability to actually make any of the Brazilian jiu-jitsu uniforms here in the United States.

So I learned all of that. And then built it up, realized like this was not going to be the thing that allowed me to either leave my teaching job or whatever else—provide enough security for my family. Ended up selling the ecommerce side of it to one person and the blog side of it to another person. You can still go check it out, t looks very different now, but is still out there on the internet, making a bunch of affiliate money for the person that bought it. G-I reviews dot net, ’cause there wasn’t a dot com available. So I went with the dot net, of course.

I mean, do you remember that Pat, when exact match domain names really mattered? That was a huge deal back then.

Which they don’t anymore. And you know this because I know that you’re heavily involved with things related to SEO, which we’ll talk about a little bit later. I want to ask you, when you sold that, was it more of a relief? Was it bittersweet? Was it kind of scary?

I really appreciate you asking that. To be honest, the thing that not a lot of people talk about —first of all, when you say you sold the business, sometimes people think you have like Bezos money. We put some new tile in our bathroom on the floor. Like that’s what we did. It was not a lot of money, but it was a relief ’cause I needed to get past it. I knew it wasn’t going to grow. There was still very much a mourning process. You know, I had built it up in my head and in my heart to be this thing that was going to allow me to have this ideal lifestyle and I’d done all of the miracle morning and vision-casting and all of these other things and all of this planning in my head, and when I realized it wasn’t going to be the thing, I still had a hard time letting go.

And then to sell it, yeah, there was absolutely a process where it was really hard and I had to mourn the loss of it and realize that that part of what had become my identity wasn’t there anymore and then start looking for what would be my next thing. And that freedom was something I hadn’t felt in a long time. So it was really an exciting time.

Nice. So where did you go from there? Was it back to teaching or you had another project in mind?

Yeah, I was teaching at the time I had actually—I was an assistant principal for two years during that time period, then realized that climbing the ladder in education, the ladder was leaned up against the wrong wall. Once I got up there, took a step back, went back to being a teacher in a different school. Everybody told me I was throwing part of my career away, why would you go backwards, all of these things. Funny enough, Pat, they said the same thing when I left teaching two years later. That I was throwing away everything I had done. And as you and I both know, the ability to teach and learn is so fundamental to what we do. You’re you’re not throwing it away. It’s so essential.

So, yeah, from there I had taught for two more years. I started taking on SEO clients on the side, just because I had a friend who was a local photographer. And I worked with him a little bit just to help him with his business. A lot of photographers are not creative business, they just want to take photos. And I worked with him and within six months he had made an extra $42,000 compared to what he had made the year before. And I was like, “Oh, okay. I can change people’s lives with this skillset.”

So, just kept helping more clients. And eventually, yeah, after those two years of teaching was able to take a position, I had enough experience in my own clients to take a position at a design agency leading their internal SEO team.

That’s so cool. And with SEO now, which is what you do, tell us a little bit more about where your head is that with that. I’m curious as now an expert in this and having done it for years now, SEO is always a forever changing landscape. We’ve had the founder of Ahrefs on the show before, and Glen Allsopp, who’s very proficient with SEO. And every time a new person comes on, it’s like, things have changed a little bit. So I’d love to hear your perspective on right now, as people are listening to this sort of like, what is SEO and how’s it—not like define SEO, I mean, we all know search engine optimization, let’s create things to get found in the search engines, but how do we do that now? Always it’s changing. So, you know, I would imagine that, you know, on that level, it’s kind of—it’s not sit back and relax all the time for you.

Yeah, and I, I want to couch this in like, a lot of what I learned about SEO and the reason I had results with the jiu-jitsu website and was able to do that really well, came from things I learned on SPI, right?

The backlinking strategy that worked and all of the—remember, like article marketing robot and backlink tv? Spinning articles and the web 2.0, and we could maybe find some of the graphics from that old article that still exists. But you know, a lot of that got me interested in the blogging side and that’s why I did well in the jiu-jitsu business.

All my competitors love jiu-jitsu. I loved business. I loved online business. I loved marketing, and that allowed me to succeed there. So some things in SEO have changed. Like, the ability to game the search engines, primarily Google, is far less. Like they know all the tricks, they know all the things and some things still work.

Like they try to tell you not to build links. Don’t build links, don’t guest post. We all know that that stuff still works because that’s their best indication of like, a co-sign, right? Like, “Hey, I’ll link to you. I trust this website to send them some traffic.” That’s the best metric they have right now.

If they think of a better one, they’ll use that instead. I don’t know what that would be in the future. So they try to say like, don’t build links because maybe then 2 percent less people do it and that’s a win for them. But a lot of things still absolutely work. SEO, a lot of times and I’m going to be really honest, a lot of the people saying SEO is changing every six months are saying that so you’ll buy their thousand dollar SEO course to learn what the latest secret is or the newest thing. And honestly, like you can learn SEO extremely effectively just watching YouTube videos from people you know, you’d mentioned Ahrefs, follow Glen’s stuff, sign up for his community, follow Tim Soulo and the team at Ahrefs, they put out so much great free stuff. You know, you can really learn it without buying those thousand dollar courses. That was a big reason that I started SEO for the Rest of Us, was just because I didn’t feel like there was an in-between. There was no like community to where people could learn SEO.

And I learned about community again, like bringing it back full circle, from SP. Being one of those early Facebook group members, being one of those early kind of moderators in the community, becoming the leader of the SPI Facebook group which I think now is around 45,000 members and is awesome and thriving. But a lot of this—and even you had mentioned like going back to that original podcast back in Episode 49 was about building a community around my little affiliate blog. I wasn’t just trying to get the clicks and the cash. I was actually building an email list and building a community around—it’s what allowed me to sell it. So I don’t think I see us changing that much, but the surest way to stay up on any things that do change is to be a part of a community for sure.

To answer your question specifically, the things that have worked before always work, right? It’s not about writing longer articles. Nobody wants an—like when was the last time anybody wanted to read an 8,000 word article? Nobody wants that ever. Now, on the flip side, everybody says, we don’t have an attention span, people want quick articles. That’s not true either. A lot of those attention span statistics come from people watching ads, and you know that like, nobody likes ads. My kids don’t even think ads are real things. ‘Cause they watch Netflix. When they see ads on—we watched regular TV the other day, Pat, and one of my kids was like, “Oh, it’s broken.” He’s like, “I don’t want to watch this.” And I’m like, “Oh no, those are ads.” And he’s like, “What?” I was like, “Oh, there’s a whole generation of kids that don’t know what ads are.”

But yeah, a lot of these things—good content still works. It’s just about reverse engineering. It’s just good marketing of, a person’s Googling a thing they’re typing in these words, but what do they, like in their heart, what do they really want? What are they really looking for the solution for, the jobs to be done framework? What’s the job they want this content to really do? And if you can nail that, you’ll do extremely well.

Well, what’s your take on people like Neil Patel coming out with articles that say, “Hey, look at the data that we are sharing with you across thousands of articles—longer is better. Longer gets more shares, longer, keeps people on your website longer. And that’s an indicator for Google, for search engine optimization.” It’s hard to refute that, but at the same time, I completely agree with you. Nobody . . . like, even when it comes to when I teach people how to create online courses and stuff, get to the solution faster, that’s more helpful. That’s actually more valuable. You don’t charge more just because you have more videos. In fact, the lesser videos you have the better because you’re getting a person to that solution faster. And I think the same, at least in my heart like, yeah, I want to get to the solution faster. So, you know, the shorter the article the better, but then you see data come out, it’s like, okay. So where do we go from there? How do we start to navigate that?

Yeah. I mean, I’ll put on my kid gloves on for a moment here. I don’t know how much I trust anybody that has never built a successful business outside of the business where they teach you how to build a successful business based on their blog, where they teach business to people. You know what I’m saying. Everybody who’s listening, you know what I’m saying too. Right? Again, like the point of a community is to cut out those BS filters, where you see people like that. They’re like, “I’ll teach you to do SEO based on how good my SEO blog does.” Well, the things that work between SEO, blogs, like getting backlinks and stuff, it’s very easy.

But is longer better in gardening. You know, people love to say like, “Well, I looked at all this data, the average thing is 1200 words.” Well, cool. I looked at the data between my yearly income and Michael Jordan’s yearly income and we average that. Now is that average equal to either of us? No. So are averages really a great way to do it?Absolutely not. Google what you want to rank for, and just look at that, right? Let’s not use any sort of averages that longer is better. So I think that data can be a little faulty, both by source and by data set.

And I think Pat really what people want in blog content—you know this is true in YouTube and everywhere—people don’t want tactics, they want transformation. This is why I love Hal. And I mentioned Hal Elrod, I mentioned Miracle Morning already. Miracle Morning doesn’t win because of the tactics within it, it’s because when you do those things, whether you do each of them for a minute and you spend five or six minutes doing it, or you do it for an hour and you spend 10 minutes doing each thing, it transforms you, it changes your life. It changes your mindset. And if you can get transformation in five minutes, why would you spend 60 minutes doing it? And that was Hal’s whole thing. Like I could spend my whole day doing this stuff. What if I just push it to an hour? What if I push it to 10 minutes? Can I still get most of the benefits? And I think the same is true for content.

And, you know, there is no—there’s definitely no minimum, but if you want to be competitive, look at the topics that you’re trying to rank for and the traffic that you want that’s out there. People are searching for your solutions, just see what other people are writing about. And then, don’t just skyscraper it, don’t do 5% better. Don’t change the design, but pretty much it says the same stuff. Give your, take, give your opinion, tell your story, tell your customer’s stories the same as you’re doing right now, right?

Like we’re on the podcast. So you could have spent 400 episodes talking about yourself, Pat, but you haven’t. It’s all about community. It’s all about other people and their transformations. And I think that’s what empowers people.

I love that, thank you, Brendan. And you’ve mentioned this word several times as a keyword, community, which I want to focus on now. And we talked about community when you were in Episode 49 and your little gi community and in BJJ, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. We’ve talked about community related to the Facebook group.

And I’d love to dive into that. In fact, many people here might not a know that I have a Facebook group for SPI. In case you want to check that out: And Brendan is the number one sort of admin and moderator there. He’s in charge of that. And he has been for the last few years and every once in a while he and I get together and he just gives me an update on the community, how it’s going, how it’s growing, and he’s just done some really amazing things to manage it. And even though it’s 50,000-ish strong, it still is very much a sane place to go to, to get information, which is really cool, for free.

And of course it is on Facebook and we also have a higher level community recently built called SPI Pro, which is a paid community, but far less people, but it definitely also filters out the absolute beginners. So if you want to check that out,, but I want to dive into the Facebook community and your perspective on how it’s changed, how it’s grown. Give us a little rundown of the group itself and the kinds of the activity you’re seeing there and sort of what’s cool about it.

Yeah, the thing I’m excited about with our Facebook community is people have mixed feelings about Facebook as a company. And should you build something on their platform? But what I love about this community—it’s open, it’s free—is that it meets people where they’re at, right? There’s still a tremendous amount—almost everybody is still active on Facebook, and having our community live there again, meets people where they’re at in their entrepreneurial journey.

Some of the things that are the most exciting for me in that community is that it’s gone from, you know, I don’t know, you know, I’m sure you remember, Pat: when it started, every single post was like, “Hey Pat Flynn: question.” And everybody’s just trying to get your attention. And then when I was working in it a little bit more people would tag myself or Shane and Jocelyn Sams or some of the other moderators in there. And they’d want to ask, you know, have an expert opinion.

And then it became a place where, through a lot of like really smart moderation, having really fair group rules—Facebook also implemented some things that really help communicate that stuff to people, Facebook groups have come a long way—is that now the most exciting thing for me is if somebody posts something spammy, I get a report. Other members report it right away when people have questions, there’s 30 replies. I don’t know how to manage some of the replies sometimes because people are just in there helping each other, giving a wide diverse set of opinions, you know, you’ll get all sorts of ranges of responses.

And that’s the benefit of it is it’s with 45,000, 50,000 people. The there’s such diversity in there. And that allows not just like, in like gender or ethnicity or any of those sorts of things, but also like global diversity, different ideas coming from people that live in completely different parts of the world.

I love seeing threads that I’m like, I don’t know if I can read through all of these replies, like that warms my heart so much because that’s really what community is, where people are like, “Look, I want to be able to ask a question someday. So if I have expertise to lend, I’m going to answer as many other people’s questions as I can.”

That’s dope. Yeah. That’s and it’s been really interesting how it’s evolved, how Facebook has evolved. What kinds of rules do we have in there and how are you managing this community? There’s a lot of people who are listening right now who have Facebook communities and are likely interested to know how, even though it’s grown so big, how he’s still been able to manage things. Like, what do we have happened in there? And if you also want to go into a little bit about what that experience is like and how we capture some moments upfront to help set the tone for those rules, that’d be, that’d be great too.

Yeah. So two things. Let’s talk about group rules first. I went with the fight club where the first two rules are the same rule to make sure that people understand it, like rules one and two are both no self promotion or spam. So kind of giving a breakdown there, and then rule number three, be kind and courteous. Four is respect everyone’s privacy. We’re trying to keep people in the group. Like it is strictly against our group’s rules to try to take conversations into DM or kind of spammy DM about, “Hey, does anybody have questions about email marketing? And then they start DM-ing everybody in the replies, that’s against our group rules.”

And then obviously—I take this back. It’s not obvious. I’ve seen some groups, some communities handle this extremely poorly. There’s no hate speech or bullying in our group. And we take that extremely seriously. We’re willing to give chances because of the diversity of communication in there.

People might think there’s something, you know, if they’re from a different culture, they may think something they’re saying is not offensive. There is a level of education there, and we love doing that. I’ve had plenty of interactions with people that have different cultural values or their way of phrasing things, or even a lot of members where English is not their first language have offended another group member, it’s been flagged as spam, or I’ve found it to be offensive. And there’s a wonderful conversation that happens as a result of that and education, both for them and for me. So we take that very, very seriously.

On the other side of it, how do we get people kind of starting in the group. A big piece of it is just—I stole this from Kim Doyle. And her Facebook group, she had this really cool album upfront of photos. So when you hop in, there’s immediately four big photos and they look like buttons. And the title of the album is like, “Hey, please click these and read these.” So as soon as people jump in, we give them that option. They’re able to hop in, learn about our group, learn about the rules, give them a definition of like, what do we mean by smart passive income? I think that’s something really cool that you came up with early on.

Passive income is a very weighted, weird phrase that gets thrown around a lot, but the work hard to reap the benefits later, I think it was a wonderful definition. So we share that upfront. And then we also obviously give people the chance to go pro look, if you’re here and you’re finding a ton of value and you want a different kind of community in the ways that SPI pro is set up, like here’s what we have for you. Just throwing it out there and give people the chance to check that out too and see if that’s for them.

What have been the biggest challenges besides the span, also the hate speech and whatnot, which is always going to come about when you have that many people together, and just being able to stay on top of it early on and present those rules up front is really key obviously.

But what else has been pretty challenging? Has it been difficult to get people to engage and how have we increased engagement?

Yeah, that’s a great question. So I think we all know those posts that are like baiting, right? Like tag your favorite brand, or tell us where you’re from. There’s sometimes I love those posts, right. I just I’ll say in there, like, “Hey, tell us where you’re from. We haven’t done one of these in a year. I want to see where everybody is from in the thread.” And you’ll see just an amazing—like I’ve talked about something I really love is the diversity of people in there.

But I think like we started early on with posts around like, alright, Monday, we are going to ask about this, you know, what are your favorite tools on Tuesday, what wins do you have on Wednesday? And that worked for a while, but I think our community matured where that felt like it wasn’t a fit for us, without any judgment on anybody else. It just wasn’t a fit for us anymore. And we wanted to have more interesting things going on, like things that we do in SPI pro now, book club and challenges and things like that, pioneering some of those in the Facebook community, testing those out and just seeing what, you know, sharing group success in different pieces in there as well. We put out a, a call to action to learn about what success other people had had similar to the success I shared early on back in Episode 49 of the podcast.

So getting engagement in there really has been an interesting thing just because you don’t want to tip toe the line of, we’re not manufacturing this for the sake of engagement, but we also want to give people a chance to interact with each other in a way that they might not surface for themselves.

Yeah. I mean there’s, and there’s so many things we could continue to do, but we also, like, it’s not in the center of our business. It’s a side arm of our business. Something that allows us to connect with our audience a little bit more. But there were also a number of people in there who felt that it was definitely very much geared toward more towards those who are just starting out.

Which is perfect. I mean, I love when people who are starting out connect with each other, cause I did the same thing when I started out, and it was really motivational to be in that same kind of group with others who are going through the same situations as me. But then we noticed that there were a number of people, especially people at FlynnCon in fact, and you were at FlynnCon and you crushed it.

And that was another thing that you got involved with as you were sort of the community manager there as well. You led the conversations on stage about the community as well as were in charge of the Mario Kart tournament and all these. Fun things. And it was really cool. ‘Cause it was actually the first time you actually got to meet a lot of the community in person.

And it was at Flynn con that we realized that, “Wow, we just wanted to continue how awesome it was to kind of be in the same space together, especially for those who were willing to sort of invest into their business in that way. And those who had already started their business, wanting to connect with each other.”

And so this is where really the origin story started for SPI Pro and SPI Pro is now, you know, 600-ish plus strong and probably more by the time this comes out, committed business owners. And it’s interesting because when you have like a segmented community within your community—especially when you put those filters in place, we have an application process to make sure it’s the right fit and whatnot.

And for those who have businesses and have some start in their business already, it’s just nice because all those super beginner questions are not involved anymore. It’s everybody connecting and also having their own experiences to share with each other too, which a lot of beginners don’t have. So, if you are somebody who is a little bit established already and want to connect with another community like those that you might’ve had at once access to in SPI’s Facebook community, now you can go a little bit higher level. Definitely recommend checking out SPI Pro:

Brendan over the last, I don’t know, decade or so since we last chatted on the podcast, it’s really been a long time, in fact. What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned as you’ve personally made these adjustments and pivots in your life and your business, and now you have more kids, there’s so many things that happened within that time span.

I’d love to unpack sort of, what are the life lessons you can pull away from that, sort of to go from where you were in Episode 49 to where you are now?

Yeah, there has been, first of all, like it’s very, I’m going to butcher a Steve jobs quote, but you can only see how things line up looking backwards, right.

And when I look back from the jiu-jitsu stuff to teaching, to leadership in my assistant principal role, back to teaching, into marketing, leading a team now like, I love my day job. I remember . . . I forget his name. I know you had a college rivalry. The guy from My Wife Quit Her Job.

And I remember like, he didn’t quit his day job. Like he, like, he was like a software developer and he just liked it. So he kept it and just made a bunch of money on the side. And that’s where I am now, too. I think, here, can I share something really interesting? So I remember when I read Pat’s Books Will It Fly? years ago.

I literally was looking at this the other day. You asked us in that book to write out where we will be in five years. And I wrote out goals for family, business, faith, and health in five years. And it said 2020 on it. Really wish I would’ve known what we had in store for us in 2020, but seeing the things—and I’m not big on like the secret or manifestation, if you are that’s awesome. But it’s been really cool. I went through and highlighted all the things that ended up working out that I had said back then. And I realized how many of the pieces of the dreams that I had in different things were just completely unreasonable because my actions weren’t aligning to them.

I’m a big believer that like—I’ll give a couple of things. Actions indicate priorities. Sometimes, and this is just an honest truth, like I say things are a priority to me but my actions don’t back them up. I have to understand there’s a misalignment there. It doesn’t mean I’m a bad person. I’m just misaligned and let’s pursue that misalignment and try to get more aligned.

Some of these things in here . . . like my family goals: we eat dinner as a family. Every single night. I spend time with my family when and how I want to. Yes, I have a day job, but I can flex that. I can move meetings. I don’t work in a factory where like . . . I’m blessed to be home and working from home right now and leading my team at my agency. And like, all of these things work out because I’ve pursued these goals of time freedom. And am I running my own business? Absolutely. I have SEO for the Rest of Us. I have all these cool niche sites that I still build. I do tons of consulting, but a big part of that has been obviously education—super grateful for the education I’ve gotten through SPI.

And I’m not saying that to be nice. Like I could write probably a 10,000—we just talked about let’s not write long blog posts, but I could probably write a 10,000 word blog post of everything I’ve learned, the action I’ve taken on it, and the results I’ve gotten. That’s I guess the second big thing is being able to take action on these things.

And then the third, this is kind of outside the realm of business: I just had to pursue a better balance and realizing that balance doesn’t look like you know, scales actually balancing equal at all times, but understanding that my life personally works more like a seesaw. Where the balance, as long as the Seesaw is going back and forth and continuing to move and I’m pursuing, spending as much time in the middle as possible, that’s where I’m happiest. That’s where most fulfilled. That’s where I’m giving my best to my family and my community. And a lot of that comes through two things.

I actually remember reading, a couple of years ago, The Obstacle Is the Way by Ryan Holiday, and ended up doing, similar to how you and I got to be friends and met, I reached out to Ryan and I was like, “Hey, here’s the results I’ve gotten. I would love to write for your website.” I ended up writing an article for him. He ended up helping me when I was a teacher buy a classroom set of his books for my students through DonorsChoose. And I got to know him a little bit that way, but again, just reaching out cold, sharing what I’ve learned. But there’s two big ideas from it that I’ll share super quickly.

One is memento mori, which is Latin for remember one day you will die, like taking very seriously the stewardship for what I have right now and using that to the best of my ability every single day. Don’t get me wrong Pat, there’s plenty of days where I waste tons of time and do a bunch of things that are not aligned to my goals, but I literally have it tattooed on the inside of my left forearm as a reminder, and on the inside of my right forearm, I have another phrase, amor fati, which is a love of fate. That no matter what life deals to me and what happens around me, whether my laptop breaks or whatever else is going on in my life, like I can choose.

Nobody can take away that choice, to love my fate, to love the cards that I’ve been dealt and continue going forward.

See, that’s so beautiful. Tell me a little bit more about Ryan’s book. Like what else, what other takeaways did you take from that? I have it, I it’s been a while since I’ve read it. And I’m curious how it’s changed your life.

Oh, Pat, I virtue-signal so hard on calls. I have my bookshelf behind me. Obstacle Is the Way sits right there. It sits on top of Jim Collins’ Good to Great because that sends all the right signals to people. But I have track lighting in my office and I literally have one of the lights point—like the window light is on my face, the track light points on the book. It’s been that like, when I tell you these things have changed my life, that’s not hyperbole. I’m very prone to that, this is not that.

The biggest things were, were those two main points and then the books that followed. Ego Is the Enemy—like if you’re starting out and you have more obstacles in your life, read The Obstacle Is the Way. If you’re maybe a little bit further along and you maybe are like, “Look, I’ve gotten past a lot of obstacles. I’m struggling with building a team or, you know, finding fulfillment,” read Ego Is the Enemy, more of the internal side of it.

And then the third one—I was not expecting this—it’s called Stillness Is the Key. I was like, “I got it. Stillness, meditate. I don’t need to read this.” And I read it and I feel like he kind of like hit me with a curve ball because a lot of it was about finding stillness in your life to deal with things you’ve never dealt with. Issues from your childhood, past traumas, things that are outside of your control. Stuff like that. And I was like, “Oh, that’s so interesting.” It’s probably, I think Stillness Is the Key is one of, one of his better books.

But those, all of those pieces kind of combined, those three books really allowed me to take more agency in my life. And don’t get me wrong, I have a tremendous amount of privilege already, right. Like, I am a white guy who works in tech in the Midwest, like all of these things. And you can add up all of the other demographics on top of that. Like, I have a tremendous amount of privilege in my life and, but I still feel strongly like I need to be a steward of that.

Um, it doesn’t make things and the struggles that I have any less relevant to me or any less important to me. But being able to work through these things with a little bit more of a roadmap, those books have been tremendously helpful for me. And again, like, only because you know this by now, Pat, like I’m an action taker. I’m a doer. I’ll make a lot of mistakes, but I’m not going to stop doing things and trying things. If I read something, I’m going to try it.

You are an action taker for sure. To finish up here and again, thank you so much for this conversation. It’s been really great to have this blast from the past, honestly. I know you and I have connected and I’m sure for everybody else, like they might not even have known you were on the show that this long ago and how much has changed and the sort of transitions that you’ve had. And I know one thing that I know I can relate to that you’ve also gone through is starting a business while having young kids and managing that.

And how are you raising a family and managing your business at the same time?

Poorly most days. You know what I mean? Like, it’s a work in progress and the thing you realize, we’re going to have our fourth little guy here in just a few weeks. You know, by the time people are listening to this episode we’ll already have him.

Uh, you can hop into the SPI Facebook group if you want to, if you want to give me a shout out for that. In fact, can that be a quick mid-episode call to action here? Hop into the SPI Facebook group, if you’re not already a member tag me in there, I would love to say hi. I would love to meet you if we’ve never met personally.

But on the, on the parenting side of it, so many lessons that you learn in business and you learn from personal development, which I know we’re both pretty passionate about that you then apply to your kids, right? I’m Jedi mind-tricking my kids all the time about different things, trying to teach them like, “Oh, look, it’s a beautiful rainy day outside.” Just because I don’t want the weather to impact their mood ever in their life. Like a lot of people get really down when it rains. Or teaching them when we work out in the garage that we’re strong so we can help others so that we can be of service. And that’s why we pursue strength. That’s why we pursue fitness.

So it’s definitely impacted that, but it is, it is honestly a struggle most days, because early on Pat, to be transparent with you, I got really caught up in this circular struggle of “I’m spending time away from my kids, building a business so that one day I can have more time with my kids.” I couldn’t reconcile that. It took a long time and what helped me—and I guess this is kind of a theme coming out of this—is two pieces. Having gratitude for what I already have now today. And then also just being able to put together a better idea of what I wanted for my future and having a more aligned life. Pursuing alignment versus wealth or time or any of those sorts of things.

Gratitude’s so important. And I know if you follow Miracle Morning, you are practicing your gratitude every day. As am I. I’m grateful for you and I’m grateful for the community that you are helping and managing in Facebook and grateful to all of you listening. Just, Thanksgiving is tomorrow here in the US at the time this episode comes out and whether you’re listening at that time or not, it’s always a good time to just kind of sit still and reflect and be grateful.

And I appreciate you for your honest answer, and it’s always going to be a work in progress for sure. And it’s really easy to get caught up in that as well. It reminds me of—it’s almost like, you know, the person who drives 30 miles across town to go to the Costco to get gas that’s cheaper. It’s like, well, you just used all that . . . anyway, it’s just like, it doesn’t make sense sometimes, but it’s easy to get caught up in that because we just see that immediate opportunity and it’s tough. And I think that that’s why community is so important, so you can have these kinds of conversations with people who are going through it with you.

‘Cause I know when I started as an entrepreneur, like I had nobody to talk to and it was only in the Internet Business Mastery community that I found people who were going through the same thing as me and as a business owner now, and people who come to me and to team SPI for help, we wanted to create these communities, the Facebook community, which has been around for a while.

And then more recently, SPI Pro to allow for a safe place for people to connect and share these kinds of thoughts. And hopefully you can check it out if you want,, or even if not find other people around you who can listen and empathize and you do the same for them. And that’s really what community is about.

It’s not about even you as the creator. It’s about you giving the space for your people to come together. We talk about this in my book Super Fans quite often, and you know, community is about communication amongst each other. Not sort of a top-down communication format. So anyway, Brendan, this is, this has been really great.

Any final thoughts, final words for everybody, as they, at least in the U S, head on over to their families and, and whether virtually or in person, connect with family once again?And even if you’re not in the US like, you know, obviously . . .

I think the biggest thing I’m thinking of today, Pat, as this episode comes out is first of all, like we’ve talked about transparency a lot. We’ve talked about—you’ve hopefully as you’ve listened to this felt a lot of vulnerability from myself and from Pat. There’s this great mug that Austin Kleon who’s one of my favorite authors posted, or he put a sticky note over his mug, and it just says “decent-enough dad.”

I just want to be a decent0enough dad most days. And I think outside of parenting, really one thing I ask of everybody listening to the show today, whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not, is take care of your families. If your family is not close to you, take care of your community. A lot of times these struggles of, you know, a society or a culture can become overwhelming and you can feel like you’re drowning in it. But if we all just took care of our neighbors and our block and our town or the area we live in in our city, and we all just really took care of each other in a very real, vulnerable, genuine way, all the things that we’ve talked about with online community also work in the non-online world.

So I would just encourage everybody, get out there, smile at people like, you know, not on a the superficial level, would be make friends with your neighbor, find out really what’s going on with them podcast. Interview them the next time they’re standing out front watering their flowers, right? Ask, ask some real—sorry, I joke with people like . . .

Yeah don’t like bring you mic just be curious, right?

Yeah. I ask some really intense questions and I’m like, I’m really starting to turning this into a podcast interview and you can steal that line that makes people laugh. But yeah, really invest in your community. Invest in your community building a business, but genuinely invest in your community where you live.

Thank you Brendan. We appreciate you. Where can we go to find out more from you and, and your SEO work and all the places, where should we go?

Pat, I’m going to pretend it’s because I’m good at SEO. It’s not. It’s just because I have a very unique name. You can Google Brendan Hufford. Spell it as wrong as you want, I’m still going to come up. Or if you want to learn about SEO specifically, if there’s something I said in there about SEO, where you’re like, “Hey, he sounds like somebody who’s a student and a teacher and can explain it in a way that is not confusing or overwhelming,” just Google SEO for the Rest of Us, and I’ll show up there too.

Thank you, man. Dude, good stuff. Appreciate you. We’ll chat soon.

Thanks Pat.

All right. I hope you enjoyed that catch up with Brendan Hufford. We’ll put all the links in the show notes to all of this stuff like he mentioned:

Brendan, it has been an absolute pleasure. Thank you for being a part of the community, for managing our Facebook community, for being a part of FlynnCon managing the Mario Kart tournament, all those fun things. I look forward to catching up with you again soon, my friend and we’ll chat soon.

And for those of you listening, thank you for sticking around again. I’m grateful for you. Happy Thanksgiving if you celebrate it. If not, hey, we can still be grateful, we don’t have to rate wait once a year for that, much like how we shouldn’t have to wait once a year for Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day should be every day in fact, so big shout out to all the moms out there and all that you do, and all the dads as well.

Everybody, you’re amazing. Anyway, I appreciate you. Take care. Be sure to hit that subscribe button if you haven’t already, we’ve got a great lineup of episodes as we head into the end of the year here. It’s going to be great. I’m looking forward to the lineup in 2021. I already know who we’re having on, We’ve, in fact, already recorded some interviews and oh my gosh, it’s going to blow your mind. Thank you so much. Take care. And as always, Team Flynn for the win. Peace.

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