Are you in this for the long game or the quick buck? The problem with short-term thinking is that it's so vulnerable. When you go for the long game, you're building something that will last—and perhaps even outlast you. Thankfully, most of the entrepreneurs I speak to are thinking about how to succeed in the long term. Now, you may not make a lot of money upfront by playing the long game. And you may have to dedicate more time than you'd like initially. But the end result is that you'll have more time and money and freedom down the road.
We're talking with one of my favorite people today: Dorie Clark, author of The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World. [Full Disclosure: As an affiliate, I receive compensation if you purchase through this link.] Dorie and I chatted on here a long time ago, in Session 161. She had just come out with a couple of books, Entrepreneurial You and Stand Out that have gotten really great reviews.
We're going to discuss what it actually means to play the long game in today's world of short attention spans. What does it mean to sacrifice now so we can get more later? How do we play the long game, not just in business, but in life, so we're not sacrificing our health along the way? If you're not successful mentally and physically, then it doesn't matter how successful your business is. These are some of the most crucial topics we all need to think about as entrepreneurs, and we're discussing all of it and more today with Dorie.
Dorie Clark helps individuals and companies get their best ideas heard in a crowded, noisy world. She has been named one of the top 50 business thinkers in the world by Thinkers50, and was honored as the #1 Communication Coach in the world at the Marshall Goldsmith Coaching Awards. She is a keynote speaker and teaches for Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and Columbia Business School. She is the author of The Long Game, Entrepreneurial You, which was named one of Forbes’ Top 5 Business Books of the Year, and Reinventing You and Stand Out, which was named the #1 Leadership Book of the Year by Inc. magazine. A former presidential campaign spokeswoman, Clark has been described by the New York Times as an “expert at self-reinvention and helping others make changes in their lives.” She is a frequent contributor to the Harvard Business Review, and consults and speaks for clients such as Google, Yale University, and the World Bank. She is a graduate of Harvard Divinity School, a producer of a multiple Grammy-winning jazz album, and a Broadway investor. You can download her free Long Game self-assessment workbook and learn more at DorieClark.com/thelonggame.
- The two main reasons Dorie believes many of us are trapped in short-term thinking these days
- How the sunk-cost fallacy can keep us from thinking and acting in our long-term interests
- How to answer a crucial question, “How do you know who to trust when you're learning?”
- Dorie's approach to transitioning from providing free value to pitching and making sales (without upsetting your audience)
- Why Dorie advocates for applying Google's “20 percent rule” (spending a fifth of your time working on experimental projects that may or may not pay off)
- How to access Dorie's free “strategic thinking long-game self-assessment” tool
- Dorie's “wave” framework for approaching entrepreneurial workload (and preserving yourself for the long haul)
- Dorie's latest book, The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World
- Dorie's strategic thinking long-game self-assessment
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SPI 509: How to Play the Long Game in Business and Win in Life with Dorie Clark
Are you in this for the long game, or are you in it for the short-term, quick buck? In most cases, most entrepreneurs, at least ones who have good hearts and are doing it for the right reasons, will answer this with the long game. Who might answer short game? Scalpers and things like that. If people want to buy the latest thing that comes out and then flip it, sell it for more money, that's a short-term thinker. The problem with short-term thinking is that oftentimes it's so vulnerable. When you go for the long game, you're building something that will last and perhaps even outlast you.
Most entrepreneurs who I speak to and I surround myself with, and hopefully you, are thinking about how to succeed on the long game. Now, the long game comes with the ability for you to potentially understand that maybe you're not going to make a ton of money up front.
Maybe you're going to dedicate more time than you will want to later in the beginning, but all that so that we can have time and money freedom later. I think there was a quote, I'm probably going to butcher it, but it's something to the likes of entrepreneurs do the things now that others won't so that they could live the life later that others cannot. It's something like that, but the long game, that's where it's at.
We're talking with author Dorie Clark today, author of The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World. Dorie is one of my favorite people. In fact, we had a conversation here a long time ago on the podcast. What episode was that? I think it was episode 190, or no 161. That's what it was, and she had just come out with a book back then called Entrepreneurial You and Stand Out. A couple books that have gotten really, really, really great reviews.
This Long Game book is probably in my opinion, and they often say this about authors. It's like sometimes their third book is the most important one. I don't know where I heard that. Maybe that's not even true, but to me, I think this topic at least is of utmost importance. How do we play the long game, especially in this world today, where a lot of us are going for the short term, or we just live in a short-term world, where we want instant results.
We want that show to show up on Netflix right now and we want the whole season, or we search something up on Google and it appears, and it literally tells you in 0.00000019727 seconds. I don't know why that needs to do that because we all know it's quick, but in this world today, if you want to succeed in business, you need to think about the long game.
So we're talking today with Dorie Clark. You can find her new book, The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World. We're going to discuss all kinds of things today about what does it mean to actually play the long game? What does it mean to sacrifice now so we can get more later and how do we play the long game, not just in business so that we can have successful business and make some money, but more than that, how do we stay healthy doing that too? Because you are very much part of the equation of the success of your business, and if you are not successful health-wise and mentally, then your business, it doesn't even matter how successful that is anymore.
So all of these topics and more, very, very applicable and hopefully this gets you thinking. Thinking about big decisions that you can make for the betterment of your business and your life. That was a long intro, and we didn't even play the music yet. Let's play the music. Let's just play it right now.
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 here's your host, he's approaching 40 years old, but has never felt younger. Well, he does play with Pokemon cards. Pat Flynn.
All right, thanks again. Pat Flynn here. Episode 509. Let's just dive right into the interview with Dorie Clark, author of The Long Game. Dorie, welcome back to Smart Passive Income. It's good to hear for you. How are you doing?
I am great, and I'm so happy to be reunited. Thanks, Pat.
Yes, reunited. The last time you were on the show, we were talking about another book of yours, and you've had time to somehow write another one. I've been meaning to write another one as well, and congrats on that. I'm excited to chat about it because it's about a very important topic that is of heart to me. Why don't you give us a quick 30-second ... Well, what are we talking about today here?
So the new book is called The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World. I was inspired to write it because from my own experience and from the hundreds of people that are in my community and that I coach, I've really seen that for all of us, it's so hard sometimes to really know that we're heading in the right direction to have the faith to persevere. It's hard in the moment to know if it's not working or it's not working yet, and I really wanted to dive into that to help give people ammunition to understand, okay, is this the right direction and how do I keep pushing forward to get to the long-term success that we all want?
Yes. This is going to be really important, and dorieclark.com is where you want to go. Her other book Entrepreneurial You was a major success, and I'm sure this one will be too, because this is absolutely a major topic. I know from my own experience, that a lot of times when I'm working on something, especially something new, especially something that might make me a little bit nervous, I'm always questioning myself.
There are a thousand things I try to tell myself to speak my way out of that thing, but I want to talk about this idea of the short-term world. Where does that actually come from? Give us some examples, and I think we all know that we all have short attention spans, but what are the consequences of that?
We definitely have short attention spans these days and social media doesn't help. That's one of the biggest things in the past 10 years. One of the things that I mentioned in The Long Game is there's this great quote from H.L. Mencken, who was this satirist from about 100 years ago. He had a quip that success is making $100 more a year than your brother-in-law does. I thought that was fantastic, but the truth is, 100 years later, we're not just comparing ourselves to our brother-in-law. We're comparing ourselves to the entire world on social, and it can sometimes feel really overwhelming if we're not progressing as fast as we want. So I think that's one reason. A second reason why short-term thinking is sometimes prevalent is because we forget about the successes that we've had, or we minimize them. There's a term in biology called shifting baselines syndrome, and it refers to the fact that that oftentimes we kind of change the terms of how we measure phenomena.
I think it's true for almost all of us that we might have a victory today that if we had told ourselves five years in the past, "Hey Pat, you're going to get to do blah, blah, blah," you would have been so excited, but today it's like, "Oh, well, that's nice, but it's not the keynote. It's not the bestseller list. It's not Oprah." So we forget where we've come from, and that minimization can be really detrimental because we feel like we're actually not making progress, and it makes us sometimes more likely to give up too soon.
I think this idea of the comparison game, like you mentioned, is so dangerous and you're right. It's not just us in our family and trying to get better grades than our sibling. It's literally everybody who we see and follow in the algorithms. They all don't really help us in this regard. So how do you combat comparison to others? Do you just hole up and never have any contact with anybody else in order to avoid all this? What do you do?
Well it's definitely one strategy, although probably not the most effective long-term. Ultimately there's a few things that we can do. One, which of course is really important, is creating a trusted group of advisors around us. In the moment, we often can't really trust ourselves because for any of us who are entrepreneurs, you get emotionally wrapped up in things, and sometimes that means clinging too long to an idea that isn't really working.
Sometimes it means giving up way too fast on something that's promising, but it's been a month and it isn't showing any results. So by essentially outsourcing to people that we really trust and respect, the ability to say to them, "Hey, what do you think? Is this the right path? Is this the right track?" If you believe in them and you believe in their judgment, they can help reflect back to you in a more accurate way.
That's number one. The second thing that I think is really important as well, is that for a lot of entrepreneurs, we are so excited to dive into something, just get started on a project. We actually often don't take the time upfront to scope things out and really understand what the process looks like and what's realistic. There's a great anecdote that I mentioned in The Long Game from Jeff Bezos' 2018 shareholder letter to Amazon shareholders.
He talks about a friend of his, that of all things, hired a handstand coach because she wanted to become this handstand yogini and the handstand coach told her that the average person thinks that it will take about two weeks of practice to be able to do a good handstand, and it actually takes six months of consistent practice, which is a 12X differential.
It really made me think in reading this, oh my gosh, that's so common that we don't know what we don't know. We make an assumption, and then it seems perfectly logical to give up if after a month you're not getting the handstand. You say, "Oh, well, I tried it. It didn't work for me." Well, guess what? You didn't understand upfront what it would really take and if you kept persevering, you actually could get there.
My question then is by doing more research and then realizing that it's going to essentially take longer, I can see that pushing some people away. Oh, I want the short-term gain. I don't want to wait for the long-term success. So I want to do a handstand. It's going to take six months? No, thank you. How do we reframe that story to actually be something that we're encouraged to move forward into?
I'm a big fan of reality in general, because it's true. There are some people that if they honestly knew what it would take, they'd say, "Oh, gosh, I don't want that. That's not for me," and that's actually great to know in advance what you're willing to give up, what you're willing to pursue and what you're not. I don't want people to waste a year or two of their lives doing whatever the thing is and feel bad about it.
I think that it's important for people to really have a sense of what is coming in front of them. However, it's powerful because it means that if you are willing to go forward, you have a realistic picture of an understanding of it and you're able to really focus in and track your progress so that you can feel good about it. I think the hardest part for almost any of us is that dark moment, we're in the middle.
In the beginning, you're excited. You're like, oh, it's full of promise. It's amazing. Obviously, if you're very close to harnessing whatever it is, there's enough momentum, but it's like running a marathon. When you're at mile 13, 14, 15, that's where it gets depressing and if you have enough of a sense so that when you're in that dark moment, you say, "Okay, I know what the journey is going to look like." You don't have to wonder, oh, is it going to be eternally perennially, bleak? You have that knowledge. I think it gives us power, and it helps us make smarter decisions about what we really want for our lives.
I think the worst thing that would happen, if I was running a half marathon, I've run many half marathons, but I imagine this happens in business a lot. You believe that it's going to be, what? 13.1 miles. You are at the 13th mile, you have this motivation and you get to the finish line, but you realize you were actually on the full marathon. Then you're in the nasty, dirty middle part where you're like, "I thought it was going to take this, and if only somebody had told me, or I signed up for the right race," or what have you, if you're in that dark moment midway through a marathon when you thought it was a half marathon, what do you do? Do you turn around and go, "No, this is not what I signed up for"? Do you pretend like you finished the race when you really didn't? Which obviously in the entrepreneurial world would be like half a product, half a business. That's not going to work. I thought I exhausted all my energy because this was the last mile. This is a moment where so many of us are in. What do we do?
It is a hard moment, and sometimes a bleak moment. Absolutely. There's a phenomenon in economics they talk about called the sunk cost fallacy. I think, just to take it to a different realm so it's maybe even easier to think about. Let's say you went to law school because your parents really wanted you to go to law school and you go through it and you get your three-year degree and you do your bar exam and you're practicing, and you're a few years and you're working your way up.
You might be on the partner track and you are miserable. You've invested a lot in being a lawyer. Do you just say, okay, I guess this is my track and keep pushing forward, even if it's miserable, or do you reevaluate? I think for entrepreneurship, of course it's different because mostly we don't have people's parents saying, "Oh, definitely be an entrepreneur. That's safe and secure."
Usually, you have picked it because it's your choice. Nonetheless, we all need to be keenly aware of a sunk cost fallacy. It could be true, not just for broad pictures of entrepreneurship, but there might be a particular project or initiative that you've put a lot of time and effort into, but we don't want to keep throwing good money after bad, or good time, our own time, after bad.
It's important for us to be asking the questions if I was starting tomorrow or, this is a question that Andy Grove, the former head of Intel famously asked his team. He said, "If they fired us and they brought in new guys tomorrow to run this, what would the new guys do?" They all just say, "Oh, they definitely do this and this and this."
Andy Grove says, "Well, then we need to do that." I think that's how we ought to think about it. I think having as much as we can through research, through talking to people who have done what we want to do, which I think is why a show like SPI is so powerful Pat, because you really give people a window into other people's businesses and what's worked and what hasn't, but it's really helpful in terms of expectation setting.
For folks in the online course that I run, Recognized Expert, I warn them up front. I say, "Look, in terms of this quest to build your platform and get better known, it is probably going to take about two to three years before you see any results, and it's probably going to take about five years before you start to see demonstrable results."
So know that upfront, this is a journey. When we're grounded in that, I think it gives us a lot more to recognize that I don't need to be getting that constant affirmation and feedback. This is something where I have to take it on faith and just do the work because the process is what you can control.
How do you trust those who have paved the way before? There's a lot of people I can imagine, and I love that you're being honest with people in your group. Two to three years to see something significant and then five years to see something like literally life-changing, and if it happens earlier, bonus. We hear a lot of these stories of overnight success. We hear the media talk about somebody who wrote a book, and then they're a millionaire and this kind of skews our reality. How do you know who to trust when you're learning?
It's a really important question. I think that there's a few things to keep in mind. The first one is getting clear and understanding who is telling an accurate narrative based on their incentives. There are a lot of people, of course, who are the kind of internet huckster types. If they are selling courses with big promises and it's unclear about how they earned their own money or what that looks like.
There's even websites and Instagram sites that are dedicated to actually exposing some of the tactics that these folks use. We need to be forewarned about it. I think it's really important, and this is something that I think you do so well. For people to be honest about both the ups and the downs, because it's just like investing.
Like Bernie Madoff, oh my goodness. He never lost money. Every year was in the black. Oh my goodness, what a miracle. Well, we now know why and similarly for every entrepreneur, there are some things that work and there are some things that don't. I think that we need ourselves to gravitate to the people that we believe are being honest and as transparent as possible about the totality of that process.
One of the goals of my book Stand Out, which I was previously on SPI talking about. The subtitle of it is How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It. One of my goals was to profile a lot of people who had become very successful as entrepreneurs or as thought leaders. I talked to Robert Cialdini, the great psychologist and Daniel Pink and Tom Peters who wrote the book In Search of Excellence. It was really trying to break down their path to success because you are exactly right.
So often the story that gets told in the media is either one of, oh, it was an overnight success or it's somebody who's been famous so long that it's like, it seems like they've literally always been famous. I guess they were born famous, which is obviously not true. So I wanted to go back to those origin stories to really understand that moment. What did it look like in the early days of someone's career and how did they find their path to what they were doing to kind of break that down and humanize it, frankly.
I think that it's really important to ... When you find somebody who is of interest to you, for whatever reason, to then go into a deeper exploration To not take what they're saying or what they're doing necessarily as face value right up front, but talk to other people who've been a part of their programs. Get involved in some of the things that they're doing that may not cost anything and see how it feels and see how you're being sold to and those kinds of things. You really, really want to know before you choose like a virtual mentor, somebody to aspire to and learn from because you're going to dedicate so much time and money and effort to then go down that path and you want it to be the right path as much as possible. So we're not running that half marathon.
That actually is the full marathon. You had mentioned some earlier, that was really important to me. Big part of my entrepreneurial career was the people that I surrounded myself with, and you'd mentioned trusted advisors and having a certain group of people around you, who can be essentially somebody who could help you see things that maybe you can't, because you're so involved. I often say you can't read the label when you're inside the bottle. So you need these people on the outside. Can you talk more about that advisorship that you create for yourself? What does that look like? How often are you meeting? How does that work exactly?
I think that's great, and I've heard you on the show talking about this and it really is powerful. I love seeing how it impacted you and similarly for me, having folks that are friends, personal friends, but also people whose business judgment you trust is a really powerful combination. So in terms of how people can create that for themselves, of course, we were sort of alluding to this earlier. We can have all kinds of virtual mentors and even historical mentors reading biographies and things like that, but something that of course is really valuable is having people, I say in person.
These days it could be on Zoom because we might not be in the same geography, but having real-world, live relationships with colleagues is vastly important. One of the things that I often see sometimes in my coaching clients is that they have become really successful over the years because they've been very focused on networking and building a strong network with clients and with potential clients.
Of course that is really important, but they've done that almost exclusively, and they reach a certain point in their careers where it's like they're hitting a ceiling and it's because they actually don't have any peer relationships with other practitioners, with other coaches or consultants or with other entrepreneurs. They've been so externally focused.
Sometimes they'll literally say to me like, "Well, why should I bother? They can't hire me?" I sort of want to shake them a little bit and say, "No, no, it's time to go back square one with this part of things," because these people are not your competitors. You're not even competing against anybody except yourself. It is so valuable to learn from people who are in similar situations. They can give you tactics and best practices and tips. Also at a really basic level, it's support and it's insight into the kinds of things that people don't talk about in "polite society," that are dicey, like pricing, like private pricing information.
You don't just put that on the internet for everybody, but you would ask a friend and you would tell a friend, and when you have access to just the nuances of those kinds of things, it is so valuable. So how do you find that? I think a lot of it is actually being at conferences, getting involved in meeting people there, being part of online communities and then forming deeper relationships with the people that you meet and kind of jive with there. Those are some of the ways that I've found that you can really connect with folks.
It doesn't have to be that difficult. I think online communities are a great place to start. A lot of niches are now forming their own private communities. Then you can go find them and be a part of the conversation and you might vibe with a few people there. You have to integrate yourself into those communities though. You can't just go in, scope the surface and go, "I like you. Let's go chat." You want to be involved. You need to be a part of the community before you can start to utilize certain members of the community in that way, and it's a two-way conversation.
It's going to be a mutual, beneficial relationship, hopefully. So thank you for that, and that reminded me because in my mastermind groups, it's not just all business talk. It's life talk, it's parent talk, it's experience talk and sometimes really tough things are spoken about in these groups.
I couldn't be where I'm at today, if it wasn't for a lot of the things that I was told and the things that I was shown that I didn't see, because again, I was just in a moment. In relation to these groups, another thing that has helped me is realizing that our goals change over time. You might start something for a particular reason. You're running that marathon and you're going, and you might realize that you just don't like this race anymore.
Maybe you want to go to another race, and like you said earlier, there's that syndrome of, well, you've already dedicated this much time to this thing. I might as well finish. I want to unpack that more about making those goal changes, those mid-career decision changes, those mid-entrepreneurial career decision changes that may seem like you're backtracking, but it's actually moving sideways or moving forward. How do you begin to actually decipher what the right decision may be? Because what got you here, often won't get you there.
Absolutely. That's true. So of course there are the obvious metrics that everybody looks at. Oh, this particular project, this initiative, is it earning as much money as you want? Is it performing as expected? That's what we all look at, but ultimately with a lot of the clients that I work with, what I begin to see is that it's easy to get rid of or to change things when the finances aren't working. What is often harder, way harder is to make changes when the money is fine, the money is good, but it's no longer joyful.
It's no longer fulfilling or meaningful, and to actually have to make this choice between, oh, should I be emphasizing a thing that's bringing in good money, but is a little bit soul deadening as compared to something that might be a little bit riskier in some way, but actually feels vital and vibrant and exciting?
That can be a real conundrum for people, which is why one of the concepts that I talk about in The Long Game is actually applying ... People may have heard of this in this context. Applying the 20% rule that Google uses with their employees to our own lives. As folks may have heard, a tenet at Google, not every Googler, uses this, but in general, they advocate that you spend up to 20% of your time working on experimental projects that may or may not pay off.
Nobody hands you that time on a plate. You really have to actively protected and carve it out, but I think it's really important for all of us as entrepreneurs to do that as well, so that we can keep ourselves vital. We can keep learning new things and frankly, be thinking about what's down the road so that we don't stagnate and find ourselves in five years, either falling behind the competition or succeeding, but not really feeling good about where we are.
That's so great. I call that the 20% itch rule because as an entrepreneur, I'm always itching to do new things, but it has to be in a controlled manner. So I allow that experimental time where even if I were to fail, at least it's number one, contained, but number two, it's still focused on something. Then I have the shoebox of a million other ideas that I go to later, whether those things work out or not. So I love that. I think that's a great piece of advice.
For the entrepreneur out there who's listening, who is building an audience right now. They are all in on who their target avatar is, what their problems, pains, challenges are. They're delivering value through content. They're showing up on YouTube, they're showing up in podcasts, but they haven't quite made money yet. They know that they're just building this audience and now they want to begin to start reaping the benefits and having those dividends pay off from the work that they've put into their audience.
They've been providing a lot of value or, as Gary Vee would say, they've been jabbing all this time. Now we want to go in for the right hook. I'd love for you to speak to those who are ready to offer that right hook or to eventually start monetizing that audience, but they're afraid because they don't want to sell out, or they're afraid of upsetting people. Part of the long game is you have to be able to make money or else you're going to go under, but how do we transition from we've been providing so much free value to then eventually making money and still having everybody happy and feeling good?
So I have a couple of answers. The first one, because this is something that I faced as well. For years, I was running my business where I was doing consulting for corporations and giving speeches for corporations, but I wasn't really selling anything to individuals. I had this email list and I would constantly be doing content, but I didn't offer anything for sale.
So around 2015, I actually made a conscious decision and for me, kind of the onramp to offering more things to individuals, whether it was one-on-one coaching or online courses or whatever was actually affiliate marketing, because I didn't know how to do this at all. It was an interesting thing for me to be able to essentially draft off of the knowledge of other people.
Now, of course, we have to choose very carefully whose products or services we promote but if there's someone you really respect, you can learn from how they do it and suggest to your audience, if they're aligned, "Oh, hey, my friend has this thing. It might be useful to you."
You can earn a little bit of money that way, but essentially, number one, train your audience that they can actually buy things from you. They can learn about things to buy from your list and you can get a window into how other people do it so that you can eventually make decisions about how you'd like to position yourself. So that's one possibility, and another is actually just ... People of course being human, they don't really like it when they feel like something that they've had for free is being taken away from them, but if you can offer something new that they haven't had before, that might be valuable.
If people have gotten close to you, if they feel like they really like you, they really know you because of your email list or your videos or whatever, maybe it's time to start offering things like, hey, I'm having an in-person mastermind and it's small premium events, something like that. Who would be interested that can be a way to begin the process because it's something you've never put out there before, but that people would be excited to try and get to know you.
I love that. The other question related to this monetization aspect is the short-term monetization gain versus the long-term monetization gain. I know a lot of entrepreneurs who want to make money, obviously, but they choose to promote something that maybe gives them something upfront, but then they lose the relationship.
Maybe it is promoting an affiliate product that does have a great commission, but it obviously, maybe doesn't help people in the long run or they are then removed from the brand and then they don't come back and are able to get the help that you can offer them long-term. Lifetime customer value, the LTV. It's similar to, and this always boggles my mind, but it makes sense. It's human psychology, really, is what we're talking about here.
How people will drive all the way across town to go to Costco to get the cheap gas, because gas is cheaper at Costco rather than just the gas station that's literally right next door, even though it's more expensive. When in the long run, they're actually spending more money to drive over there to save money, because this is how we entrepreneurs think; sometimes it's just human psychology, like I said. How do we make sure we're making the right decisions with regards to the money aspect of this? Because money tends to throw normal logical thinking out the window sometimes.
It's so true, and I love it that you raised this point. When it comes to playing the long game in terms of developing customer relationships, of course, you're exactly right. We all know intellectually that it is way easier to keep a customer, to keep selling things to someone once they are in your orbit as compared to continually getting new customers and yet, sometimes with the behaviors that we see modeled from the internet marketing world, there's a real push to do things that "burn your list," where you're just driving people crazy with the marketing tactics that you're using, or you're not necessarily doing things that would be in the best interest of the customer, if you're following the golden rule. That is really damaging, of course, in the long run. It's damaging to your brand, it's damaging to your relationships.
I oftentimes, every week, I have people reaching out to me about various things. Whether it's private coaching or joining one of my online programs and I will have conversations with people and actively dissuade them. If I feel like it's not the right fit, I know, I just know it's going to go south. That they're not going to be happy or they're going to want a refund or it's going to cause problems.
I would rather cut it off at the pass. So I very frequently will tell people, "I don't think this is quite right for you. You could look to this other person or you could look to this other thing, or maybe for now just look to these free resources and maybe in a year or two come back and we can think about it."
But I think that's really important. Of course, what enables that is being in a position where you are not overextended and where you're not financially desperate. The other piece of this of course is making sure that in terms of the structural financial decisions that we make, that we haven't gone out on some limb that's untenable.
Years ago when I bought my first condo, I deliberately bought ... I knew the city I wanted to live in, but I deliberately bought in like the underdeveloped kind of cracked in part of the city because I knew that I was going to be starting my own business. I just never wanted to be in a position where I felt like I had to do something for money, even if it meant making a choice that I was not living in this fancier place in the beginning. It was one that I knew I could afford, and I think that in the early days of our businesses, we need to make choices where if something can be less fancy, if something can be cheaper, it's a lot better to do it because it gives us the freedom to say no, and there's a lot of power in that.
Oh my gosh. Absolutely. When it comes to business, it's not just about the finances. It's not just about the business and its health, but a lot of it has to do with you, the entrepreneur's health and your mental health and the long-term game, I've seen it cut so short for people because they are so successful so fast and they try to take on too much.
To this point of saying no more. Having some financial sort of flexibility is key. So making sacrifices or maybe not going as extravagant upfront is a part of that, but also being able to take breaks, perhaps. Sabbaticals are becoming very popular now. What are some of your best strategies for keeping a strong long-term mental game on the business that you have?
Well, one of the concepts that I talk about in The Long Game is something that I call thinking in waves, because the truth is there are periods as entrepreneurs where we have to over-index. In the early days, the first year of your business, that's not the time to take a sabbatical. You've got to build up the snowball so that it's big enough to be able to roll downhill successfully.
So there are periods where you do have to work like crazy. Oh, you're getting ready for your big product launch or whatever it is. That's not a problem, but what is a problem, if that becomes a permanent way of life. We have to accept, okay, it's not like a salaried employee. Every day isn't going to be the same within this narrow band. Part of the joy and the challenge of entrepreneurship is that sometimes it is really crazy and really intense, but the good news is that we have the ability if we make the choice and we have to consciously take it to be able to dial back accordingly and say, "I over-indexed by 40% over the past three months. So now I'm making a strategic choice to pull back for the next few months and I'm going to do a little bit less because I need to reallocate that time toward my family or toward my health." If we do that, we shouldn't necessarily be thinking in terms of like, here's what my day is or here's what my week is. We need to think in longer blocks, in longer waves but if we do that, it evens out in the end. And we actually, as entrepreneurs can have a lot more control and a lot more life balance, if we're conscious about creating it.
Yes. Consciousness and being self-aware is so key here. A lot of us tend to automate, and automation is important. It is something that can help us become more efficient, but if you are automating everything in your mind and your body, you're going to eventually run out of gas or burn yourself out or burn some bridges along the way, and we don't want that to happen.
This is why the point in the conversation earlier about an advisory group to see these things, because oftentimes we only see them when it's too late. When our friend Chris Ducker ended up in the hospital because he burned himself out so much over his business back in the day, and it should never even get close to that point. If you have other people, perhaps being brutally honest with you along the way, they can help you see these things that you can't.
The final I want to ask you, Dorie, and I don't know if necessarily there is a right answer to this, but everybody should have an answer to this, and I'd love your thoughts on it. That is well, long game, sure, but why play the game in the first place? What is this all for?
That is the ultimate question, right? So I'm glad that you brought that up. Ultimately entrepreneurship, this is something that for most of us, we don't have to do it. The easier choice in the default choice in most of society is to just go get a job, work for somebody else, but for most of us, we are called to do this, whether it's that we want more autonomy in our lives, or we feel frustrated by the strictures of working for other people, some of whom may not be that high quality.
So we want to be able to do more and to be more, and for a lot of us, I think it's because we know we have something to contribute. Sometimes that's a really inchoate feeling. We're not even sure upfront necessarily what it is. We haven't even quite figured out what it looks like.
We know that there is something there that we need to explore, that we owe it to ourselves to explore. It took me years of actually working for myself to even really be able to articulate why it was so important why I needed to do it. I think sometimes we beat ourselves up because we don't have a perfect answer or we don't have a perfect understanding right out of the gate.
I came to realize nowadays, when I think about what I do or why I do it, the way that I think about it is that the work that I really feel called to do in all my books and coaching and things like that is to just help smart, talented people, figure out how to get their ideas heard. Because so often in our society, it's the loudest voices that get heard and I would much prefer to live in a world where it's the best ideas that win.
It's hard because nobody really tells you the mechanisms by which you get your ideas out there. So I want to try to illuminate that for people and demystify it so that the best ideas really can win. Coming to that understanding of what I felt called to do or how I could best help people, it took a while. You're doing one thing and then the other.
It's like you're driving in the fog with the headlights, but I think I would venture to say that for all of us as entrepreneurs, there's a reason we're playing the long game. Even if we don't know it yet, but if you feel something inside you that you want to make a difference, you want to make a contribution, it's important to do this and to have that faith.
There is a certain amount of faith involved because there are long periods where things aren't necessarily working out as fast as we want. We have to take time and be patient, however annoying it is to be patient, but when we do at the end of that process, because not everyone is willing to go through those uncertain dark times, but if you do, and you get to the end, you can actually create something really powerful.
You reminded me of a quote from Les Brown, who said, "The richest place in the world is the graveyard," and that's where all the best ideas and all the amazing inventions and discoveries were put to rest that nobody will ever find ever again, because they were too afraid or because they didn't play the long game or because nobody had given them the mechanism to share those ideas and to put them out there in the world. Dorie, I just want to thank you for being somebody who is helping to bring these ideas out into the world for people who have them, and maybe just don't know how to do it yet, and if people want to learn more about how you can do that for them, where should they go?
Thank you, Pat. I appreciate it. Well, if folks are interested in playing the long game and learning more, I have a free self-assessment about that. The strategic thinking long-game self-assessment and folks can get it at dorieclark.com/thelonggame. If you are a Pat Flynn fan, as I am, most importantly, you can check out my book, Entrepreneurial You, where I actually have a whole section talking about Pat and his origin story, getting to SPI, which I think is quite inspiring.
I appreciate you for that, Dorie. I will link to both of those resources and more. Of course, check out the new book, The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World. Amazon, I'm expecting would be the best place to go and grab that or where would you prefer?
Absolutely. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and your local friendly indie bookstore.
Awesome. Dorie, thank you so much for coming on and being an amazing guest again, and we'll probably see you here again in the future. Thank you.
Thank you so much, Pat.
All right. I hope you enjoy this episode with Dorie Clark. Again, you can find her new book, The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World and hopefully you're thinking long-term even more so now, after listening to this interview. Check out Dorie Clark. She also has a couple of other books, Entrepreneurial You and Stand Out, and she was again, way back in, I don't even know what year it was. Episode 161 was about standing out with Dorie Clark.
So yeah, it's been a while. I'm so glad to have to Dorie back on the show and as you can tell, she just knows exactly what she's talking about. It's something that we all need right now, and I hope this suits you well. So let me know what you think, and look me up Pat Flynn on Twitter or Instagram, and also tag Dorie in as well.
Dorie Clark, D-O-R-I-E Clark, and let us know what you think. Thanks so much for listening in. I appreciate you and I look forward to serving you in next week's episode. We have, oh my gosh, some amazing guests coming. People have never been on the show before who are going to drop some amazing, amazing knowledge for you on things that are relevant to business right now. So make sure you check that out. Till next week, take care. Thanks so much and as always, team Flynn for the win.
Thanks for listening to the Smart Passive Income Podcast at SmartPassiveIncome.com. I'm your host, Pat Flynn. Our senior producer is Sara Jane Hess. Our series producer is David Grabowski, and our executive producer is Matt Gartland. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. The Smart Passive Income Podcast is a production of SPI Media. We'll catch you in the next session.
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