You want to clear up your schedule before starting work on the big project you're passionate about, right? Here's the thing: it's not going to happen. That's right. If you perceive time as a barrier, you will never get started.
So how do we create more time when our calendars are full? How do we stop procrastinating and progress toward our goals today?
If anyone can answer those questions for us, it's today's guest: Jason Feifer, editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur magazine. He gets to talk to the world's most successful people every day and has compiled the patterns he's discovered in an incredible book, Build for Tomorrow.
Right from the start, this chat with Jason provides us with a blueprint to understand how we work and start building our productivity infrastructure. We talk about why you should add more items to your to-do list, welcoming and adapting to change, why your dumb ideas might be your best, building without a budget, and the pitfalls of “mission creep.”
This is an essential conversation that highlights the qualities of high-achieving entrepreneurs and uncovers paths to success in career, business, and life. Don't miss it!
Jason Feifer is the editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur magazine, author of the book Build For Tomorrow, a startup advisor, and podcast host. LinkedIn named him a “Top Voice in Entrepreneurship” for 2022.
- Why time expands when you add more to your schedule
- Building an infrastructure around your work habits
- How self-conceptions can limit your opportunities
- Why you should learn to take your dumb ideas seriously
- The replicable qualities of a successful entrepreneur
- Why building without a budget is an asset
- Understanding change and the tool you need to adapt
- The dangers of “mission creep” for entrepreneurs
- Horizontal versus vertical thinking
- Build for Tomorrow by Jason Feifer
- Subscribe to Unstuck—my weekly newsletter on what's working in business right now, delivered free, straight to your inbox
- Connect with Pat on Twitter and Instagram
SPI 637: Becoming an Efficient Entrepreneur with Jason Feifer from Entrepreneur Magazine
Jason Feifer: What is the value that you provide and how can you stay oriented towards that value, even as things are gonna change? Because they will. If you're starting something on the side, news flash, whatever you start right now is not what it's gonna look like a year from now.
If you stick with it, it's gonna change. That's fine. That's exactly what it should do, and sometimes it's gonna change radically. So what you need to do is really find the programming inside of yourself that enables all of that change to make sense and feel consistent. Despite how it might look different.
Pat Flynn: This episode is an absolute treat. I have with me today Jason Feifer, who is the editor in chief of Entrepreneur Magazine, and this is a very smart conversation that we have together. Mostly because of his answers to my questions, but it's all surrounding this idea of becoming an efficient entrepreneur.
Efficient in the sense of, yes, where does our time go and what do we use it for? Efficient in the sense of what are our goals and what matters and what doesn't efficient in the sense of fast money versus long money or long lasting money. And that last one, long lasting money is actually what we want. So like I said, we have some really deep conversations today.
This is such a fun episode, and I hope you enjoy it. Jason Feifer, you can find him JasonFeifer.com. Obviously, Entrepreneur Magazine, big shout out to them and just big thanks to Jason for this time because I had an absolute blast having this conversation. Again, you can check out the show notes and everything we mentioned here and links to all of his stuff, and you know, he'll reach back out to you if you reach out to him.
So SmartPassiveIncome.com/session637 is where you wanna go for all the show notes, but wait till the end for that because right now you're about to enjoy this conversation. Again, Jason Feifer. Here he is.
Announcer: 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 never goes halfway in anything he gets into. Pat Flynn.
Pat Flynn: Jason, welcome to the Smart Passive Income podcast. Thanks for joining me today.
Jason Feifer: Thanks for having me. So glad to be here.
Pat Flynn: So glad to be here. And we're gonna chat in a couple hours after this cuz you're inviting myself and CEO, Matt on to hang out with you in your podcast.
What's the name of your show, by the way? Just in case people wanna check it out.
Jason Feifer: Oh yeah, so it's called Build for Tomorrow, same as my book, also called Build for Tomorrow. Try to keep it simple.
Pat Flynn: Which just came out. That's amazing. Congratulations.
Jason Feifer: Thank you. It's, you know, people ask me how I wrote a book doing everything else that I have done.
This is an experience you have as well, so, so maybe you have a good piece of advice, but mine is just break it up into the smallest fragments possible. Like if you think of it as a big project, then you'll never do it. So instead, what I did was one hour a day for nine months. That's why I wrote the book. I, I carved out the first hour of every day for nine months.
Then you have a book.
Pat Flynn: I love that. And you have a kid, I know you have a family out there. Yeah. And a kid. How, how old is your kid?
Jason Feifer: So I have two. I have two. I have a, a three year old and a seven year old.
Pat Flynn: Three year old, seven year old. And still able to crank out a book because you dedicated an hour every day to it.
I love that already starting with some advice for everybody. And I think we could all. Appreciate that and that's exactly how I tackled my books also. Well, in fact, the first one Will It Fly was similar thing, wake up in the morning before the kids got up, cranked it out for a very long time. The other book Superfans was written in November of 2018 during NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writer's Month, and I wrote that that was like a three hour a day for 32 days and I finished it.
Jason Feifer: You know, it's funny, I think that if you could look, if you can get it done in that amount of time, then that's great, but I, I recently actually had a, a young woman who reached out to me because she had done that month NaNoWriMo, is that what it's called?
Yeah. Yeah. And so she got a good first draft done, but as anybody who has written a book knows, you don't nail it on the first draft. So, then she wanted to understand, well, how does she basically remake this book so that it's actually ready to publish? Because she's not gonna have another month. She like carved out that month, and that's a very difficult thing to do.
So when is she gonna have that kind of time again? And so this, when I told her, look, if you think that a big project can only be done by clearing out time. You will literally never do it. Like this is a big problem that we have with time in general, is that I think we often think I would do this if only I had the time.
But you're never gonna have the time. You're never gonna look around and be like, oh, well I, I, I actually happen to have half a day free for the next month and a half. Like, that's never gonna happen. So that can't be your barrier. It's why I, we're kind of spinning off into a different direction here, but for what it's worth, what I, what I tell her or what I, what I often tell people, If you want to try something new, if you want to get something new done, and I think that, you know, both of our philosophies here are really driven by being additive, right?
It's like, how, how can we, how can we add something to our lives? Then you need to think of time like a balloon, because here's the thing about a balloon. You don't expand the balloon so that you can fit air. It doesn't work that way. You can't make room in the balloon for the air. Instead you blow air into the balloon and then it expands.
Same thing with time. You're not gonna find like spaces where you don't have something to fill that time, something will always fill that time. That's what Parkinson's law says, that work expands to fit the time allotted. So everything that we do, it's going to fill the time that we have. So instead, what we have to do is we have to just simply add, because time expands under pressure, just like a balloon.
So when you add something new, what it does it forces you to then reconsider everything else that you're doing and say, am I doing this as efficiently as possible? Should I even be doing this other thing, which isn't actually bringing enough value to me? This is how we actually expand. It is not by clearing out time, it is by adding more and then figuring out how to make it fit into everything else that we're already doing.
Pat Flynn: That's so great, and I know some people who have understood that philosophy and tried to you know, get an hour a day into something. But oftentimes because of all the things around us and, and just the environment we're in, it could be hard to get into like a flow state during a short period of time. I think this is why a lot of us go, well, we need five hours because it takes us an hour to like mentally prepare, and then we're in it, and then we get outta it and we get like, we need lots of time to handle those transitions.
What are your recommendations for leading into that time so that you can be efficient with it, like you said.
Jason Feifer: So I think that you have to know how you work. The answer's gonna be different for everybody. But if you can understand how you think and function, then you can design what you do around that and respect it and take it seriously.
So I mean, I told you earlier that I wrote this book the first hour of every day for nine months. That wasn't a random thing that I chose to do. That's because I know that I write fastest. And most clearly in the morning, it is when my brain works the best. I mean, we're, we're, you and I are talking right now at 2:40 PM my time, so, you know, I'm already starting to slow down.
Sorry. You're getting , you're getting the A- version of me right now, so I, I know that because I know that this is when I am optimal I make sure that whenever I have something that really requires the most of me in terms of creativity and focus, that I am scheduling it then. As a result, I do not allow anybody, anybody to schedule a meeting with me before 11:00 AM and noon if I can make it work, because that's the only time of the day I know when I'm actually going to create and I'm in the business of creating. And then everything else can happen after that. I, I will take meetings all afternoon. I will work into the evening if I need to, but that's how I do it.
So, however you best work is what you need to respect, and then you need to build an infrastructure around that. So they're you, you're using self as efficiently as possible.
Pat Flynn: That's such a great answer. So respecting that time, honoring it, and, and, and even protecting it. No, I will not have a meeting during this time because this is, this is for me, this is my creation time.
And I think you're right, like everybody's different. So you kinda have to figure that out for yourself, right? It's kinda like a diet. You hear somebody else, they succeeded with a diet. It doesn't necessarily mean it's gonna work for you. You gotta know how your body works and that can take some time, but I, I think that's so profound.
We just started rolling right off the bat here, which is great. No, thank you for that. Tell me a little bit about your backstory. How did you get into what it is that you do? I know that you are like a senior editor at Entrepreneur and you have this new book, which we're definitely gonna dive into the themes of that, but how'd you get started?
Jason Feifer: Sure. So I'll give myself a promotion. I'm the, I'm the editor in chief of Entrepreneur and that means that I, I run all the, I run the editorial for the magazine and I'm deeply involved in the brand at all levels. And I, you know, it's funny. At the very beginning of my career, I started my career as a newspaper reporter.
And this wasn't my goal. I, I never even heard of Entrepreneur Magazine and I always tell students that because I think that oftentimes we, we set out with this particular goal in mind of what we think we wanna do. And that's fine. I like goals and the reason I like goals is because it's something to move towards.
I think that we all need momentum. It's like if you're like lost in the middle of a forest, you need to pick a direction and start walking. But we shouldn't use goals as a narrowing device because I, I was interviewing Malcolm Gladwell once and he said Self-conception are powerfully limiting as, as soon as he said it, I wrote it down, I slapped it on my wall.
Self-conceptions are powerfully limiting. If you have two narrow an idea of who you are and what you do, you will turn down all the opportunities that you didn't expect. And sometimes those are the best ones. So, I mean, how did I get to where I am? Well, what I did is I, I quit a bunch of jobs. I constantly, constantly, constantly pushed myself throughout every, every job that I had.
I, I was a newspaper reporter for a while. Then I was a magazine editor at a lot of different magazines, random magazines. I worked at Men's Health, I worked at Maxim, and in each one of those I was focused on this thing that I, I've come to call, at first I was just kind of doing it on instinct, but now I have a, a term for it.
What I, we've come to call, work your next job. So the way I think about it is this in front of you, in front of me, in front of everyone listening right now, we have two sets of opportunities. I like to think of them as opportunity set A, opportunity set B. Opportunity, set A, everything that's asked of us.
You got a boss, you need to do what the boss needs. You're gonna be evaluated on how you do that. That's opportunities set A. Opportunities at B is everything that's available to you that nobody's asking you to do, and that could be at work. Join a new team, take on new responsibilities. Could be something outside of work.
Could be that you really love these Smart Passive Income podcast and it inspires you to start a podcast. Are you any good on mic? I don't know. Who knows? Let's figure it out. Go out and buy a cheap mic and get going. The one I'm working on right now that I do all my podcasts on costs me 60 bucks.
Samson Q2U. It's a great mic. So, you know, low barrier to entry. Anyway, the reason that I'm telling you this is because. I believe that opportunity set B, doing things that are available to you that nobody's asking you to do that is more important, infinitely more important, because if you only focus on the things that are asked of you, then you will only be qualified to do the things you're already doing.
But opportunity set B is where growth happens. That's where you develop the new skills and the new connections and the new ideas that are gonna be useful to you in ways that you cannot even anticipate. So yeah, ask me what I did during my career. I mean, look, in one way it's a really simple answer, which is that I, I would take jobs based on what I thought that they could teach me, and then while I was at those jobs, I would figure out how to do those jobs as efficiently as possible so that I could spend time doing other things, freelancing, teaching, launching websites, whatever it was.
I've done a million random things and all of those experiences. Taught me the skills that I would ultimately need and use when bigger opportunities came.
Pat Flynn: I love that A B paradigm. I think we're so stuck and focused on the A that we almost feel like we don't have time for B, hence the conversation we had earlier being very valuable and letting itself to that.
This is advice that, like you said, doesn't just play a role in business and entrepreneurship and the work that you do, but I can imagine it being very useful in relationships. If you only do the things you're, you're asked of, then you know, where's the growth? Where's this, the extra something special, right.
That another person can feel. I love that.
Jason Feifer: You're right. I love that you made it personal too, cuz it's not just about work, nobody that you're working with or that you are with in any, in any kind of relationship, romantic friends, whatever, nobody wants to feel like you're just showing up. It's not enough.
You know, it's, it's funny, I I, I've never made this connection before until you were just saying this right now, but you know, something that I hear a lot from people in, in product is that, you know, like we're in an age right now in which manufacturing excellence is widespread that you cannot compete on quality alone.
So nobody can market their scissors as the sharpest scissors. They're all the sharpest scissors, all of them. So you need to find something more for people to connect to. And in the case of marketing, that's often story and it's, it's a sort of connection with the, the vision of a founder. But if we're gonna go back to what you were just saying a second ago, right?
It can't just be about showing up because everyone shows up. That doesn't distinguish you just showing up. You have to do more. It's the only way to matter.
Pat Flynn: I love that you can't make scissors sharper than they already are. So what? What else can you do?
Brand, story. It makes me think of an article I read recently about Liquid Death. Yeah. Liquid Death is now a $700 million company, and they're taking watrer and just putting it in cans, but it's not even just about that. Do you have any thoughts on, on Liquid Death and its rise to success? Because it definitely is a marketing branding thing, in my opinion, more than anything.
Jason Feifer: That's that's, that's all it is.
I mean, so there's nothing else to it cause it's water. Yeah. I mean, for, for like the one person listening to this that doesn't know what Liquid Death is. Liquid Death is, it's just a, it's a canned water company. There's nothing special about the water. I don't know where it comes from, but it's wherever it is, it's not special. It's just water. But it is, I think, do I have this right? It's the fastest growing non-alcoholic beverage of all time. That's wild. Right? And, and it, it, they did it entirely on marketing because the name is hilarious. And the, the aesthetic is really funny. I mean, it looks, it looks like, like a, like a high school death metal band made of water. And their commercials are hilarious. And they, they have mastered online marketing. And we actually, we ran a piece writing about the marketing philosophy of the, of the founder who I think comes from the advertising background.
And he said the secret to their success has been to take seriously their dumbest ideas like they'll all get into a room and throw out ideas and then really deeply engage with just the ones that seem the dumbest. Because, because that's, that's, that's often where genius is, right? It's in the thing that somebody's just kind of tossed off and nobody takes seriously.
But what if you were to take it seriously? What if you were to try to make it work? There's a magic there because that's what nobody else is doing. If you wanna find a competitive advantage, you have to really commit yourself to doing the thing that other people are afraid of doing.
Pat Flynn: Yeah. I mean, that alone makes me think of now another creator, Mr. Beast, on the platform of YouTube who's doing a lot of things that nobody else would. And yes, now he has a lot of money to spend on videos and creating these 2, 3 million videos. But even before that, he got big by really being serious about the dumbest things. He did a live stream reading from the dictionary.
He said a particular, I think he said somebody's name over a hundred thousand times and just recorded that and, and they're absolutely absurd, but nobody else was doing that. So of course people started talking about it and then using a lot of that, sort of, those eyeballs that started coming his way to create something then with emotion and storing it like a pizza delivery person coming to his home and then, tipping them a thousand dollars and making them cry because it just, their car broke down and their, they needed to pay for rent.
And it's just incredible how like, sometimes those, those dumb ideas, we just kind of go, no, that's why, why would we even do that? Well, because nobody else is.
Jason Feifer: That's exactly right. And what you're reminding me was, about was years ago I interviewed Ryan Reynolds for Entrepreneur, for the Cover of Entrepreneur.
Brilliant guy, right? I mean, you know, love Ryan Reynolds, good actor, but, but he, you know, he's got this marketing agency called Maximum Effort, which is so clever. And one of the things we actually spent quite a while talking about, which reminds me of what you were saying with Mr. Beast, is that Ryan was talking about how he really loves limitations. That, so sometimes the worst thing that you can do in entertainment is have too large of a budget. Because if you have a large budget, the very first thing that you think to do, which is what he said, which is what I wanted to find, the exact quote, but whatever is he said, look, if, if you have a giant budget, everybody just starts thinking big.
Suddenly they're gonna be like a blowing up buildings and there are gonna be UFOs beaming aliens down, and that distracts you from the thing that actually connects with people whenever you're telling stories. And that is the human connection, the small human stuff. And that can get forgotten when you're spending money and thinking big.
So I think the, the, the greatest challenge for Mr. Beast is probably gonna be that he's got a lot of money now he's gonna wanna spend that money and think about how he can use that money to go bigger and bigger and bigger. But sometimes when you go bigger and bigger and bigger, you actually just go further and further.
Further, further away from people and from the connection that you made with them. That's a challenge, but it's also a massive opportunity for anyone who's listening right now and thinking, well, I don't have any money, and so how do I build something? And the the answer is, you use that as an asset because you have to be resourceful and focus on the one thing that you've got, which is that you're a human being and you're trying to reach other human beings, and that that doesn't require any money.
You can do that for free.
Pat Flynn: It's the difference between movies like Transformer, which, you know, very cool spectacle, but really lacking on story and not uber successful versus, you know I'm thinking of low budget movie Blair Witch Project.
Jason Feifer: Sure. Or Lost in Translation.
Pat Flynn: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. It's like, they didn't have a huge budget, but they had to focus on the story to sell the thing, and it really made it that much better.
Paranormal Activities, same, same thing. That was actually filmed close to, to here in San Diego, but Jason, this has been great. We didn't like, these are themes and things that you talk about in, in your, in your book, I'm sure. For anybody who's curious about you in the book, tell us a little bit about it and let's unpack some of the themes in there.
Jason Feifer: Yeah, sure. So the book is called Build for Tomorrow, and I wrote it because prior to the pandemic, people kept asking me this question, which is, what are the qualities of a successful entrepreneur? Just side note, I, I started puzzling over why I was getting this question over and over again as I would speak at events or be on podcasts.
I realized that the answer is because if you listen to the questions that people ask you, you realize that what they're really doing is that they're telling you what they think your value is to them. And so I started to pay attention to these questions. People got this, asked the same question, what are the qualities of a successful entrepreneur?
I realized that the reason why they're asking that is because they're seeing me as a pattern matcher. I'm the guy who gets to talk to incredibly successful people, and therefore I should be able to see the patterns among them, and that's what they think my value is to them. So I thought, well, if I could have an answer to that question, I'd, I'd be really valuable.
I'd be a step ahead. I, after years of talking to people, thinking about it, writing about it, I came to my answer. My answer was that the most successful people are adaptable. It is the single most important quality that that anybody can have. And then the question was, well, how are they doing it? Pandemic answered that question because when the pandemic came along, it caused everybody to go through the exact same change at the exact same time.
And then you got to watch how everybody reacted differently. And I found this very interesting commonality among everybody. People who had very quickly pivoted their businesses and thrived or reinvented themselves, and people who were left behind, which was that everybody goes through change in the same four phase.
Number one, panic. Number two, adaptation. Number three, new normal. Number four, wouldn't go back. A moment where you say, I have something so new and valuable that I wouldn't wanna go back to a time before I had it and, everybody again, I just wanna stress that everybody is going through those four phases.
So when I would talk to people who had done this, who had reinvented themselves over and over and over again, who've run multimillion dollar businesses, they, they, you know, they had a better sense of what to do, but they were still panicking. Everybody's, everybody panics. And what I wanted to know was, well, what is it that is enabling some people to move through these phases faster?
To move towards, wouldn't go back more bold. And what can everyone else learn from them? So that's what, what the book is. The book is the answer to that question and Build for Tomorrow. I break down those four phases and figure out the strategies that the most successful people have been using to move through them and to identify new opportunities. And, you know, in times of change and adversity.
Pat Flynn: I'm curious about the title, how did you land on the title of Build for Tomorrow? When you know, a title of this book could be something like Adapt or Die kind of kind of thing, right? Why? Why did you choose to go this route?
Jason Feifer: So it's funny, I mean, for anybody who's gone through the book process, you'll know that and everyone who doesn't fun fact, oftentimes the title of a book is, is different than the one that the writer originally envisioned. So actually, I pitched the book out with the title You Come From The Future and You Come From The Future was me making this argument that, which I still do in the book, but it's just not the title, the book, it was the argument that like every single thing that you think of as familiar and comfortable and good in your life like just everything that you, like the teddy bear that your children are sleeping with, the coffee that you drink in the morning, the music that you listen to, everything that you like was once hated because it was new. Everything. I mean like that.
That's for real. Like I study this stuff. The podcast Build for Tomorrow dives deep into it. Teddy bears? 1907 America National Moral Crisis over the teddy bears for real schools were banning teddy bears. Priests were preaching against teddy bears. It was a whole thing. I could tell you why, if you curious. But the thing is that you don't think of any of these things as bad.
You think of these things as good because they're familiar to you. Then the next set of things are gonna come along, the things that are gonna feel like they're replacing the ones that you're comfortable with, and you're gonna say, oh, no, no, no, no, no. The things that I have are the good things and these new things, these are the bad things.
And what we have to recognize is that we come from the future, that we literally are the product of change that other people thought was bad. And so if we can recognize that, that we are the evidence that change can be good, then we can more boldly embrace and help shape the next phase of change. So anyway, that, that's the reason I totally, you come from the future, but my publisher at Penguin Random House thought complicated. It doesn't mean anything. It sounds like it's gonna be space aliens, pew pew. So so take me to your leader. Yeah, exactly. So anyway, I had written on a notebook and posted on Instagram. I'd written this thing out, which was just build for tomorrow, not for yesterday.
And my editor had seen that and said, Hey, I like that. Maybe that's the title of the book. So for a while we were thinking of it as Built for Tomorrow, Not for Yesterday. And then we just thought of it as Built for Tomorrow. And the reason I like it is, because ultimately the thing that we have to be do, like I think that conceptually people understand that if you're building something right now that you're building for tomorrow, but the problem is that we are often reacting to change in a way in which we are trying to build for yesterday.
We, we are trying to recapture the thing that already happened. We're trying to build upon things that no longer work. We are trying to stay the same and then force everyone to join us, and that's just not how it works. What we really need to be doing is always thinking that the thing that I'm doing today is actually for the benefit of tomorrow, which means that it's fine if there's some discomfort now. It's fine if my actions still feel like they're paying off immediately because that's, that's fine. The point of this is for tomorrow, and so we gotta make sure that we're orienting ourselves towards that.
Pat Flynn: I love it. The difference between proactive building and reactive building. Right. It's actually very encouraging for you to, to say these things because we at SPI have been very focused on our future and pivoting into a direction that we don't see a ton of other people doing so yet. We're trying to go to where the puck is going, right? This is where our community is SPI Pro and our Learner Community. We're trying to create community supported courses and those kinds of things, which a lot of people aren't really doing. So this is our way of, of, of doing that. By the way, Teddy Ruxpin was a scary bear for me when I was a kid. So in that regard, I could see the, the reaction, but I'd love to like really quick, we can't breeze over that. Like why was everybody so against Teddy Bears specifically in 1907?
Jason Feifer: Yeah, I agree with you about Teddy Ruxpin. It was very scary. It was like a Chucky doll, you know, it's sort of this thing that comes to life. Okay. I'll take you back to 1907. The teddy bear was invented only a few years earlier in Germany, and it was originally conceived of as a toy for boys. It was a, the teddy bear was rougher. It wasn't full of cotton, it was full of like wood chips. It was dense.
It was kind of uglier than it is now. It became very popular in America and entered the home as a toy for boys, and then girls started playing with it, and this was very, very concerning for people. Because it started with the guy, a priest, pastor or something in Michigan.
And he gave this sermon, this fiery sermon, which was reported in newspapers around the country about how dangerous teddy bears are. And his argument basically went like this, that when girls pick up teddy bears, they will put down dolls. They will not play with dolls. And this is problematic because girls, again, remember 1907 girls have one function in the world in 1907, and that is to grow up and become mothers and the dolls, they believed when girls played with dolls, the dolls helped the girls develop a maternal instinct, which then enabled them to grow up and be mothers. But, the teddy bear does not help you develop a maternal instinct. The teddy bear is a beast, and so when the girls put down the dolls and start playing with the bears, we are seeing the beginning of the end of humanity.
The actual argument that people make. Oh my gosh, actual argument. People were terrified of this. Wow. Now what's, what's happen? It's worth asking. Like there's what's happening at the time and then there's the lesson that we can take from it. So what's happening at the time is that girls are being educated in a way that they never had been before and women were entering the workforce in a way that they never had been before.
That that was, that was what was happening at the turn of the century. That was very scary to traditionalists at the time. And so they saw the teddy bear as a representation of that, right? It was almost like this change that, and we see this, you know, turn on cable news and find some like fire breathing, you know, moralist.
And you'll see them do versions of this where basically there's like some big cultural change happening and they'll try to distill it down to like one little thing and they'll say, Ugh. And then this is reaching the children. And now every, right, this is just what we do. So this was a version of that.
But the thing that I think is worth us all considering with this crazy story is that one of the reasons why change is often really scary for us is because we think that new replaces old, that when new comes along, it will wholesale replace old and everything that came before it will be gone or destroyed.
And then therefore, everything that it was valuable about that thing will no longer exist, and this is how we get just tailspins of panic because we just, we equate change with loss. But what I am here to tell you, good news, because I've studied this. This thing has happened over and over. Is that, that's never what happens.
New does not replace old, new integrates with old. So we take the best of the old and we take the best of the new. And we have a world that is ever expanding with new options, which is why, I mean, I have children, they're seven and three. They've played with dolls and they've played with bears. They have both. And also we have cars and bicycles and we have TV and we have radio over and over again. People think that new will replace old and it will not, it will integrate. So that's the lesson is that like we should, you know, right now, one thing that we're, we're all like hyperventilating about is the future of work.
Oh, you know, nobody will ever wanna go back to an office again. And, you know, work has forever changed and we don't know what to do. And like that's, so that's not what's gonna happen. What's gonna happen is that we're gonna take the best of the way that we used to work and we're gonna combine things that we're learning right now, and we're ultimately gonna have some kind of new idea of what the shape of work looks like.
That's gonna feel completely different to what we knew and what we have now, but it is ultimately gonna be a combination of the best of both of those things. That's what work is gonna look like.
Pat Flynn: It reminds me of a book by Chip and Dan Heath. They wrote one of my favorite books Made to Stick, but their follow up to that was Decisive.
And in that they talk about the human just draw toward the binary, like either this or that. It's like bears, no dolls anymore. Not like, why can't we just integrate the two? And, and I think this is really important because as we talk about our features as entrepreneurs and making decisions on businesses and, and opportunities that come our way, how do we approach the new opportunities that are coming our way that, you know, make us sometimes feel like we either have to drop everything, right?
Like, how do we as a person working nine to five, have, you know, a business on the side because it's, it feels like only one or the other. How does one approach the decisions now moving forward in, in sort of the paradigm of, of the book that you've created in. In those philosophies.
Jason Feifer: So there's a lot to say there obviously. There are, right, you know, if you were to just even look at the kind of phases of, of things that, that people are experiencing there, there's the decision to explore something. There's, there's the decision to commit yourself to something, and then there's the decision of when to really shift your resources.
When does the thing that you've created become your main thing? You know, a lot of that is gonna be circumstantial, but I think one of the first things that we need to do is really within ourselves. I mean, we, we could talk tactics and, and, and maybe that's what we'll do next, but, but I, I wanna take it down to like this deeply personal level before we do, because oftentimes I think that when people are either facing change or they're trying to create change themselves, right?
They're trying to think of what it is that they should do next. One of the things that might hold us back or might, might cause us a lot of alarm is the way in which we identify ourselves. I think that we, we make a mistake, very common one. One, I'm as guilty of as anybody. In that we identify with the output of our work.
So if somebody comes up to you party and they say, well, what do you do? Your answer is gonna be either a role that you occupy or a thing that you make, or just a a task that you do every day. And that's fine. That means there's nothing wrong with that. It's good shorthand. But those are all things that change.
Those are all things that can change easily. And also those are things that really offer only a narrow view of what your broader value can be to the world. And so imagine what happens when either that thing does change or it's being threatened. I remember I started out, like I told you as a newspaper reporter, I was a community newspaper reporter like Gardner News, 6,000 Circulation daily newspaper in Gardner, Massachusetts made $20,000 a year. I really, really loved the idea of being a newspaper reporter. I had aspired to do it before graduating college, and then I got into it and I loved telling people I was a newspaper reporter. I didn't really like the work and I stayed in that career.
I, I went on to, I did, I was in two newspapers. There was another one as well after the Garden News. I stayed in that work much longer than I should have being grumpy and resentful. And the reason was because I was a newspaper reporter. That's how I identified. And if I was a newspaper reporter, but I wasn't working at a newspaper then what was I, was I, I was nothing, I guess, you know, it was very scary. I found that entrepreneurs do something totally, totally different. Entrepreneurs have this, and maybe they don't even consciously do it, but they have, they have like a mission statement for themselves or for their companies. Something that they can describe that is not tied to an easily changeable thing. It is the thing that does not change in times of change. I remember talking to Greg Fleishman, the CEO of Food Stores, which is a, you know, you can go to Whole Foods and find their baking mixes and whatever, and, you know, they make Sweet Bake. The company was going through a big change a couple years ago, and, and I, I was asking 'em if, if it was kind of a bummer to have all these plans that they had, they had made and they were gonna have to scrap them, and he said no, it wasn't a bummer because he said you have to go back to why to start a business to begin with. For us, the mission is about upgrading sweet baked goods and bringing joy to people's lives. That's what he said, and I, I realize he sort of casually tossed that off. He'd clearly thought about it before, but I realized how powerful that is to have something that you define yourself by that is not subject to change.
It doesn't matter if baking mixes are in one day or out the next, or if like everybody loves packaged donuts or something, if the goal is to bring joy to people with upgraded sweet baked goods. But there's a million ways to do that. And similarly, I started to think about a mission for myself that goes beyond, I'm a newspaper reporter, I'm a magazine editor.
I'm a whatever, whatever. And I came up with this sentence after a lot, a lot of thinking about it. I, I really encourage anybody to, to kind of push themselves to do some version of this for themselves. Single sentence. Start with, start with I. It can just try to keep it like under 10 words. I tell stories in my own voice.
That's what mine is. Seven words. I tell stories in my own voice. I tell stories. Stories. Really important word there. Newspapers, not magazines, not books, not podcasts, whatever. I tell stories, which means Pat, that after this conversation, if I check my email, an Entrepreneur has fired me, which I hope they don't, but if they do, doesn't take my ability way to tell stories.
And then in my own voice, I'm setting the terms for, for my work. I, this is a place that I'm at, a place in my career now where I'm not interested getting absorbed into other people's voices and missions. I, I, I think everybody needs some version of this. You know, like your, your question that you asked is a really important one and, and one that could lead us in tactical directions, like I said.
But the reason I'm starting here is because I feel like we have to understand what our transferable value is and what it is that we have as a direction that is not easily interrupted. So when you are working a full-time job and trying to start something on the side, you need to be able to put all of that through this filter of what it is that you actually do.
Don't get caught up in roles and tasks and whatever. What is the value that you provide and how can you stay oriented towards that value, even as things are gonna change because they will. If you're starting something on the side, news flash, whatever you start right now is not what it's gonna look like a year from now.
If you stick with it, it's gonna change. That's fine. That's exactly what it should do, and sometimes it's gonna change radically. So what you need to do is really find the programming inside of yourself that enables all of that change to make sense and feel consistent. Despite how it might look different.
Pat Flynn: Do you have a name for that? Is it a personal mission and statement, or what might it be?
Jason Feifer: I call it the distinction between your what and your why. Yep. Because I think that a lot of what we're doing when we define ourselves, when I said that I'm a newspaper reporter, I'm telling you my what? And you know, I mean, I didn't come up with calling this your why. You know, I'm in Simon Sinek and many others have Yeah. Have have have done it, right. So what I feel like where I came to this realization myself wasn't actually hearing other people talk about it, it was just recognizing this pattern that I was seeing really accomplished people have. Which was that they had all come up with this little statement for themselves. And it's fascinating to start, like, I, I will tell you just like as a, as a fun thing to do at dinner, right? Is is to kind of challenge people to come up with that statement on the fly. It like, it leads to really interesting conversations and then sometimes you'll discover that people have done it.
I was talking to Gary Vee not long ago about this exact thing, and he had his mission statement, just two words, which for him was practical optimism. Which I really liked. And you know, like once you hear that, you can be like, oh, I, I, I see how there's like a kind of consistent logic amongst the things that he's doing.
It's just a, it's a wonderful thing to think about, but I don't know, I, you know, Simon's right. I don't know a better way of calling it than just the why. It's what it is.
Pat Flynn: Yeah. No, I love that. And even thinking about myself and the things that I've enjoyed, the things that I've been most successful with, I mean, there are clear patterns in terms of the value that I have to offer there from taking really complicated things and making them easy.
And then leading by example. That's always been a philosophy of mine, and that helps me as an entrepreneur teaching business to not just talk the talk, but also walk the walk, which I think helps with, you know, proof, authenticity, and such. That is incredible. If you were to rephrase the question, What do you do to one that would perhaps allow you to understand these patterns about a person?
What might that question be, you think?
Jason Feifer: Oh, well, that's a good question. I have this exercise in the book where I, I have people go through that scenario that I, I kind of used, which is somebody comes up to a party and asks what you do three times. I mean, imagine it that someone comes up to you a party and they ask what you do.
What's the first thing you're gonna say? You're gonna talk about your tasks, right? I do this. I'm a newspaper reporter. I go out and I report the news. So then run the scenario again. But now you're not allowed to say anything that you just said. So someone comes up to you to party and they ask what you do.
You can't talk about your tasks. So what are you gonna talk about? Well, I think you'll talk about the thing that it feels most connected to your tasks, which is your skills. This is a level deeper. So I, I would say, what do I do? I, I'm really good at gathering information and processing that information and making it useful for others.
And then we do it a third time. Someone comes up to you to party and they ask what you do, and you cannot talk about your tasks and you cannot talk about your skills. And at this point, what are you left with? Now at this point, you're, you're so deep down that the only thing that you can think to talk, that you could think to talk about is like, what is the thing that's so deep inside of you that it drove you to develop the skills that enabled you to do the tasks like that?
That's where I get, I tell stories in my own voice. That's where I think Gary gets practical optimism and that that's, that's where you get what you were describing. Like this is the down there. So what we really need to do, there isn't like a singular question to ask to get there. And I think the reason for that is because it's kind of an unnatural way for a lot of people to think.
But if you walk people through peeling the layers of the onion away of themselves, then you get somewhere deeper.
Pat Flynn: This has been fascinating and I have one more sort of scenario or question to ask you before you finish up, and I definitely highly recommend everybody check out your book and we'll get to the links and all that stuff in just a minute here.
But the scenario is one that we entrepreneurs often face, which is, you know, our business is running. It might be going, yes, we want to grow, but then there's a new opportunity. How do you weigh that opportunity based on what you should pass and what you should take, you know, and the big one that many of us are familiar with right now is this world of NFTs and just, I'm just using this as an example.
People are reacting in a way that is similar to the teddy bear and then there are other people who are so supportive and behind it it, it's hard not to consider these things that everybody's talking about when it might not make any sense at all. How are you filtering those things out? What is the process one can use for in addition to understanding their why, obviously. So making the right decision or, or you know, at least stacking things in their favor.
Jason Feifer: So, okay. I love that you used the word stacking, cuz that, that's within my, my answer. So the great question, because I think we are, we are always pulled, right? We always pulled, always pulled by people's demands, by others demands on us, but also just by temptation, because there's always some new thing that you could be doing.
Always some new thing to chase down, you know? For what it's worth, I have heard over and over again from entrepreneurs at one of the greatest mistakes that they made in their business was mission creep that they just started saying yes to too many things and therefore they weren't able to focus on what really matters and that, that we can do that personally, we can end up in mission creeps.
So let me tell you this mindset shift that I went through, that that that has helped me answer that question for myself as I've faced it. So we've been talking, you know, about this book that I wrote called Build for Tomorrow. This is the first book that I've written that has just my name on it. But years and years ago, I, I co-wrote a, a romantic comedy with my wife, who's a novelist.
You know, this was random. And, and we started before I was an entrepreneur, but by the time it came out I was an entrepreneur and it was, you know, seemed kind of discordant with the work that I was doing, this romantic comedy. And so they came out on St. Martin's as you know, like, press and we, we sold the TV rights and all that stuff.
So anyway, I, I got two sets of reactions to news that I had, was publishing this book from my writer friends. They said, congratulations. That's so exciting. Sold a book. Wow. From entrepreneurs, they said. That's interesting. What are you gonna do with it? And the reason I real, I couldn't understand that at first.
And then I realized that entrepreneurs think differently than literally everybody else. Entrepreneurs think what I like to call vertically. Everyone else thinks horizontally. So horizontal thinking, this is what I had come from. I had come from horizontal thinking, which is to say that I do something and I put it out into the world, and then I move along and I do something else, and I put it out into the world and I do something else and I put it out and I am moving horizontally.
Entrepreneurs think vertically. The only reason for them to do something is because it is the foundation upon which the next thing will go. Right. Which is, which is why I love that you use the word stacking and like that's not to say that it is always going to be a very straight line. It is not. It's going to be the opposite of that.
But they're always mindful of how is the thing that I'm doing right now driving focused growth for where it is that I want to go, where I want to go is a thing that can change. I mean, I told you earlier, like I, I love the idea of a goal simply as a, as a place to move towards. But that doesn't mean that you have to stick to it.
But you should have a, a, like a, you know, you should have a plan and then a plan to abandon the plan, but I do think that you need to try to be building in a coherent way. What is the thing that you're building towards? And then the most important things that you're going to do along the way are probably actually to say no to all the things that seem so non contributive to where you're going.
Now, for me, what I know about myself is that what I want to build is ultimately something in which I am building upon my core areas of skills and expertise, right? I, I think of myself as a storyteller, as someone who connects with people, as someone who can help people understand, like systems and processes and growth.
And so I, and I'm a good at media creation. NFTs came along and I saw them and you know, there was some element of it that I, I felt like I could understand, right? Some of the, you know, the best NFTs are really have become community driven and there's a lot that they're sort of driven, interest is driven on social, and I, I spend a lot of time on social, but ultimately I just saw, you know, what if even if I got good at NFTs, I don't know where it leads me.
And that's fine sometimes to explore something, not knowing what's gonna happen next. But in this case, I knew that it was where it would lead is far away from my core area of expertise that I think that it would damage me to take too much of my resources away from building where I know that I can grow strong and towards something that I don't really understand what that vertical build looks like.
It's a matter of respecting what it is that you are building and what is going to contribute to that growth, and that's gonna be something that's really personal. But I think that it's worth really filtering if you need a simple way of filter. Here's how to do it. Four words. What is it for? Ask yourself, what is it for?
What is the purpose of it? What does it drive towards? I ask that of every single thing that I do, and, and I ask it over and over again because the answer will change. What is it for? You know, I, I make this podcast Build for tomorrow, this podcast. I love this podcast. I'll tell you what, I don't make a lot of money off of it, so what is it for?
I ask myself that all the time. Here's what it's for. It is a opportunity magnet. That's what it's for. That's what I found. It is an opportunity magnet. It draws people to me. People find the show, they reach out, they wanna work together. I've created so many partnerships out of that. The book came out of the podcast, so podcast doesn't make me a lot of money, but it creates a lot of opportunity.
For that reason. I continue to do it, but I will tell you takes a lot outta me. And every so often I step back and I say, what is this for? And maybe one day I don't have an answer to that. And at that point it's time to fold up shop and do something else. When I'm thinking about NFTs, for me personally, what is it for?
I don't know. To make fast money, I guess, is the only thing that it would be for, and that doesn't seem to make sense to me. I would rather not spend resources trying to chase fast money, and I would instead rather spend resources trying to develop the kinds of systems and relationships and products that is going to have long lasting money.
And long, long lasting money is the opposite of fast money, so I'm not interested in it. I think that if you ask yourself what is it for over and over again about the things that you're considering and take very seriously the answer, then you know whether or not they are worth pursuing.
Pat Flynn: Beautiful answer.
Jason, thank you so, so much for this. For all your time today, in wisdom, everybody go check out the book Build for Tomorrow, and where can people go and get that and where can people go and follow your work.
Jason Feifer: Yeah, thanks. I appreciate it. This has been so fun. So you can get billed for tomorrow, wherever you get books.
It's in every format you can think of except for stone tablets. So hard cover, audio book, e-book. And you can find that on Amazon or Barnes and Noble or your local bookstore or or whatever. So I'd, I'd love for you to check it out. And then you can find me at JasonFeifer.com or on Instagram or Twitter @HeyFeifer and also LinkedIn. And I, here's, here's what I pledge to you, if you reach out, I will respond. I love connecting. I find it to be incredibly valuable for community building, which Pat, I know, you know, is, is so central to you as well. And so if you've heard something that has mattered to you here, if you pick up the book and wanna share some thoughts DM me on any platform. I'll get back to you.
Pat Flynn: Thank you Jason. And obviously since you're here listening to this podcast, you should listen to Build for Tomorrow. Because that's the podcast that Jason host and Matt and I will be at on that show at some point in the future, if not already at this point at the time you're listening. So Jason, thank you so much for this.
I appreciate you. This was so much fun, and I look forward to connecting with you online again soon.
Jason Feifer: Hey, this is so great. Thanks so much.
Pat Flynn: All right. Hope you enjoy that conversation with Mr. Jason Feifer. Again, editor in chief of Entrepreneur magazine, and I hope you really enjoyed this. I did for sure.
And I just love the way that he has this unique way of explaining things, right, like time and the balloon analogy, which is awesome, and I highly recommend you check out his book as well. Build for Tomorrow, again, anywhere where books are available right now, I would recommend Amazon, of course, and just have it shipped over, or even listened to the audio book as well.
Especially important if you're going through any big life changes right now, career change or something happened, which I know a lot of us are going through a lot of things right now. So again, Build for Tomorrow by Jason Feifer, JasonFeifer.com, and you can connect with him on social media. And like you said, he'll reach back out to you if you reach out to him. So Jason, thank you so much for today. I appreciate you.
And I appreciate you, the listener, for listening all the way through. That means the world to me and I can't wait because I'm just so excited. You've heard me announce this earlier this year. I have a book in the works right now as well. And to hear people like Jason and other amazing people here on the show, release their books into the world and just the responses to it.
I'm reading the reviews, where I just read the reviews that are available right now for Build For Tomorrow, and they're absolutely fantastic. And so I'm definitely gonna dive in myself right after the new year begins because I always choose some new books to read and this is gonna be my first one on the list, so I hope it's yours too.
Again, Build for Tomorrow. Jason Feifer, thank you so much. Appreciate you and I'll see you the next one. Cheers, peace out, and, as always, Team Flynn for the win. Have a good one.
Thanks for listening to the Smart Passive Income Podcast at SmartPassiveIncome.com. I'm your host, Pat Flynn. Our senior producer is David Grabowski. Our series producer is Paul Grigoras, 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.