Tuesday, January 17, 2017

FFLTV: The Best Products and Books Of 2016 & How Fatherhood Changed Me

Today we’re talking about predictions for 2017. We’ll look at the best books that I read in 2016. Someone asks, “How has your daughter “impacted you as an entrepreneur?” And we’ll look at the POTYS, products of the year, P-O-T-Y. We’re still working on a name.

It’s always fun on the Freedom Fast Lane podcast to take a look at what we thought, what I thought was going to happen in the year, and see what I got right, what I got wrong. We’ll do a full-length analysis on the podcast. You can subscribe over at freedomfastlane.com/itunes, but I want to do a quick recap for those of you who watch the video channel.

In 2016, at the beginning of the year, I predicted a couple things, and I’m giving myself a solid B on my predictions for this year. First, let’s start where I got things completely wrong. The election, I was so, I was so wrong. I did not see Trump coming. I thought Trump wouldn’t last. I know that probably puts me in the majority. I predicted that it would be Clinton, Rubio, and that Clinton would win, that didn’t happen. I don’t know if you saw the news, that did not happen. I was wrong on that one.

I also predicted that there would be a shift for Amazon sellers, that there would be a shift towards higher priced products, which I still think is going to happen. I still very much think that that’s going to be the trend. I’m just going to push that one to 2017, and say the shift is going to be towards premium brands on Amazon, because I really do think that Amazon wants to get behind specific brands and highlight them. We’re starting to see the underpinnings of that happen. So I think that premium products and higher priced products are going to become a focus in 2017. I thought it would happen this past year, it didn’t, so I got that one wrong.

I however, nailed my baseball predictions. I said very publicly that the Cubs would win the World Series. Nailed it. People laughed at me for that one, got it right. Unfortunately it was against my beloved Cleveland Indians. I was there at game seven. I thought it was going to be Cubs, Astros with the Cubs winning. It was, fortunately for me, Cubs, Indians, which made it for a very, very exciting fall for Cleveland fans like myself. I have never had so much fun as a baseball fan as I had in 2016. So congratulations to the Chicago Cubs for both winning the World Series and proving me right, even though I didn’t want to be right because I wanted the Indians to win. Another thing I absolutely nailed was private equity groups moving into physical products.

For way too long, investors had been going after the tech companies that have no profits, and I predicted that we would see a shift from that into physical products and brands, where there’s profit. And I absolutely nailed this one. A bunch of private equity groups and big investment firms have moved into buying physical product brands, Amazon brands. It is a great time to be an e-commerce entrepreneur. It is also a fantastic time to be selling a business right now. We’ve had a bunch of our students sell their business for let’s see, 9.8 million, one for 14 million, one for 15 million, one for nine million, one for 2.5 million. So it was a great year for selling businesses.

It is still a great time to be building a business, a real brand, and selling that brand, because there is all kinds of money moving into the physical products world for this shift that we said was going to happen at the beginning of the year, it absolutely happened. If you have not yet taken advantage of the opportunities in the marketplace, this is the time to do so. We have trainings that can help you do it if you want to do that. You can head over to freedomfastlane.com and learn more about those. We’ll do a full analysis of the predictions from 2016 as well as what I predict for 2017 over on the podcast.

You can subscribe over at freedomfastlane.com/itunes for the full analysis and set of predictions from Freedom Fast Lane.

Q: “What were the best books you read this past year?”

A: Best books of the year. I have a tie for best book of the year, and I’m going to give you one that I think why should get for 2017 as well. First, if I had to pick a winner, I’m going to go with Neil Strauss’ The Truth. What, Neil Strauss has to be the greatest living author. The Truth was, by the way, it has nothing to do with business or entrepreneurship, the tagline is An Uncomfortable Truth About Relationships.

Neil, slam-dunk, ten out of ten. Maybe the best book I have ever read. Entertaining, educational, made me think, made me question my past. I have journaled about this book many times, just analyzing my own patterns and behaviors, and how my upbringing affects the decisions that I make now and how it affects my relationships, slam-dunk. It is not for the easily offended, I suppose, but if, if that doesn’t bother you, I would say The Truth by Neil Strauss was maybe the best book I have ever read in terms of entertainment value and combination of stretching my thinking and forcing me to look inside myself and analyze my own patterns and behaviors. And I would say the book made me a better person as well as being one of the most fun reads I have ever had in my life. I think, especially every man on the planet needs to read The Truth by Neil Strauss. Awesome job, Neil.

My second pick of the year, I think I’m late to the party on this one, I don’t know when it was published, but The Four Agreements hit me particularly well in 2016. The reason, I’m a little bit nervous to talk about this on video, but I listened to part of The Four Agreements audiobook while I was on mushrooms.

So if you have just found this video and you don’t know the context to that, that comes across a little bit weird. The short story is I’m filming a documentary. I’ve talked about this publicly on the podcast about my journey in and out of religion and different religious views, and we’re recording a documentary on that right now.

Part of that being experimentation with psychedelics, and it just so happened that I heard part of the audiobook of The Four Agreements while I was on mushrooms and it resonated with me very, very deeply during that time, and going back and listening to that when I was not on mushrooms, it still resonated very, very loudly, and I’m sure there’s a correlation there, a connection between the experience, but I would say if for nothing else, listening to the opening chapter or reading the opening chapter of The Four Agreements, I’ve never heard kind of a worldview you know, of the way we perceive and the way we create our own world was, it resonated with me in a way of, that is how I think the world works. At least that’s my opinion today. So I give second place award to The Four Agreements.

I’m going to give you one book that I think you should grab going into 2017. I received an advance copy of Rebirth by Kamal Ravikant, and I would highly suggest that you go grab Rebirth by Kamal. If you’re watching this before the end of the year, you can pre-order it, highly recommended that you read this. This is a fiction book that has, I guess non-fiction application to it, so as entrepreneurs we read mostly non-fiction if you’re like me, and this was a nice break of reading a fiction novel, but still having just as many takeaways from this because Kamal weaves in lessons from life into the novel, so there’s just as many takeaways from this fiction work as you would normally have from you know, a really good piece of non-fiction. So it’s entertaining and you have major takeaways just like you’d have from something you’d be reading to improve yourself. So I say put Rebirth by Kamal Ravikant on your must-read list for 2017.

Q: “How does having a daughter impact you as an entrepreneur?”

A: Ah, a question about Esther. You know how to get my attention. First, let me use this opportunity to give a quick plug to one of our Tribe members who sent a gift to Esther here at the office this week. This right here, Cozyphones, submitted by the owner Paul. He is selling $2 million a year of these.

So, first of all I’m so proud of you Paul, and second of all I’m so impressed. I’m continually impressed at the ingenuity of physical products owners, of… It’s not that complex to build a million-dollar business. You have to have a product that resonates, a good product with decent marketing, and Paul included a note in my gift to, in his gift to Esther, saying that it went from zero to two million in 18 months. Proud of you Paul, great work, Cozyphones.

Also, while we’re on the topic, I am so proud of our Tribe director Maruxa Murphy, who said, “I really want to have a coffee line for women.” And at the time of this recording, she just got her branding back on her coffee line. I think this is spot-on. I am so impressed with this branding. As of today hasn’t launched yet. We’ll do a full debrief of the company and the launch strategy here on an upcoming episode of Freedom Fast Lane TV, but this is a sneak preview of what I think is just spot-on branding for what Maruxa is doing. Maruxa is our Tribe director, she is the one who facilitates the relationships between audience leaders, investors, and brand builders. She does an awesome job, she helps brand builders connect with the people they need to connect with in order to scale their businesses, and now she’s launching her coffee line, which I think is going to be maybe the next big thing in coffee. Really proud of you, Maruxa.

Now, question about how becoming a father has affected my perspective as an entrepreneur and as a person overall. I’d say the biggest impact on me was the timeline in which I thought. Because as a single, 25 year-old, which I was before I found out I was going to be a dad, my timeline of thinking was really only six, maybe 12 months, but the minute you find out there’s going to be another one that you’re responsible for, you’re forced to think about 18 years from now, which really amped up the, I guess the planting of long-term seeds. I always knew that the longer term I could think, the better decisions I would make.

And becoming a dad forced me, forced me, to really expand that time horizon from a year to 18 years. We didn’t have an office before I found out I was going to be a dad. I didn’t have, I didn’t have a strong team around me when I found out I was going to be a dad. It was me at my computer, and then I was forced to say, “What do I want life to be like in 18 years? “What is it I want my businesses to look like in 18 years?” That was the thought process that started to come up when I found out I was going to be a dad.

My income tripled from the time that I found out I was going to be a dad until the time that Esther was born, because it forced me to plant long-term seeds, to really decide who I was going to be when I grew up, and decide what I wanted my life to look like, and becoming a dad forced me to think that way, and as a result I became a much, much better entrepreneur and I feel like I run a completely different business from just 18 months ago, before Esther was born, and that is all the product of changing the time horizon with which I think. I don’t know if you can have the same experience without finding out you’re going to be a parent, but if you can, the longer term you can think, the longer term goals you can set, the more successful that I believe you will be.

Alright, it’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for. Drum roll, please. I’m just going to assume there was a drum roll right there. It’s the POTYs! The products of the year.

Now, I have to give some context here, because this past year in 2016, my health and fitness was besides being an entrepreneur, probably my primary focus. Outside of work and home, all of my energy was in the gym and dialing in my diet. I called it my anti-dad bod plan. So I lost about 25 pounds of fat, I’m the best shape of my life, thank you very much, and as a result, a lot of my brainpower and what I put my attention toward has been health and fitness related.

So Tim Ferriss asked a really cool question on his podcast to some of his guests, he says, “What purchase of less than $50 “made the biggest impact on you in the past year?” And that’s why the first product of the year goes to the Polar heart rate monitor. Now I’m wearing the heart rate monitor watch right now. There’s a strap that syncs to the watch. I wear it on every workout, I don’t feel like I can go to the gym without it, and the reason for this was because it forced me to actually calculate what I was, what my expenditures were and what I was putting into my body, and to say okay, am I on the path to lose weight or gain weight? So if I want to lose weight, how am I going to do this if I don’t have numbers?

Wearing the heart rate monitor and syncing it to this watch, which tracks my throughout the day activity, and at the end of the day saying okay, I spent 3,100 calories and I ate 1,800. Great, so I’m in a deficit of 1,300 calories, which means that if I continue this pace, I’m going to burn fat. That was the biggest impact that, this past year, impacted my health and my fitness. So kudos to the Polar heart rate monitor and watch for being the, one of the products of the year, and probably had the biggest impact on my overall results, at least with my health in 2016.

The next products of the year, and I should really just give the brand of the year, was when I discovered Julian Bakery. How do you guys do it? You do such a good job, seriously call me. I talk about you all the time. Like send me some protein powder or something. A free SunButter bar or something, please. I talk about you all the time. Julian Bakery, my favorite brand that I discovered in 2016. The protein powders are just amazing. I buy, I buy their wraps, I buy their gluten-free bread, I buy their protein powders, I buy their bars. I buy everything, and if it has Julian Bakery on it I want to try it. Now it was interesting because studying Julian Bakery made me really study business on a grander scale, just because I watch my own buying behaviors.

You know, I’m already a fan of Julian Bakery, so if they put up a new flavor of something on their Instagram, I go out and buy it. I don’t need to be sold, I don’t need to be convinced, and all of a sudden I sit back and I go, “Well this is interesting.” Now I’m looking at their social media strategy because it impacted me, and I know what they’re doing. So if it works on me, then this must be a good branding strategy to use in businesses. So I’d recommend looking at their Instagram channel. They do a fantastic job of promoting their products, showing recipes, highlighting people who are using their products. They do a really good job of marketing, and I’m a super-fan, so I give product of the year award, really brand of the year award to Julian Bakery.

Next product of the year award goes to Bhu Fit. These are protein bars that no one has heard of. Who are you guys? I have no idea who you are, but you have the tastiest protein bars I have ever had. I will admit, if you go and look these up, they’re a little bit calorically dense, because they’re marketed to more of a keto high-fat community but as far as taste, I’m in love. You guys do a really, really good job. I have no idea who you are, but you are the best protein bar that I have maybe ever had, and I don’t know who you are, but I like what you’re doing. Great job Bhu Fit, you get the next product of the year award.

And our final product of the year award goes to one that was just recently released by Quest Nutrition. Your cereal bars, oh my goodness. So when I was going through my transformation, my anti-dad bod plan, all I wanted, all I wanted was a bowl of cereal or something sweet, and you combined them into one bar. Oh, your waffle bars are the best thing I’ve ever had. Great job Quest Nutrition, you’ve done it again. I’m a fan of pretty much everything you guys do.

Shout-out to Tom Bilyeu, who spoke at Freedom Fast Lane Live this past year. You guys did a, this is the best product you’ve released in a couple of years. The cereal bars, smashing good job. Made me an even bigger Quest fan, and I’m, I don’t know how you guys do it, but keep up the good work. I know you guys are releasing like nacho chips soon or something, right? Get on that already, please. I’m a super-fan here, I want to give you more money. So congratulations to Quest for their cereal bars being a POTY, a product of the year award.

It’s important to note here that after looking at the products of the year, to look at how these physical products actually improved my life, actually made a difference in my life. And I’m not the only one, they’re making improvements in millions of people’s lives. That’s why people continue to buy those products, and I bring that up to say what you do in business creates a better world. You releasing products, you putting out information, you creating content, you standing up for what you believe. It makes the world a better place. That’s what entrepreneurs do. The beauty of the free market is that you make the world a better place, and you get rich in the process. That’s the goal, anyway. And that is the best way to make the world a better place because it’s the most efficient way, because it’s people who are being impacted voting with their dollars, and saying “This is what I want more of.”

As you build out your business, as you set the vision for 2017, take note of the fact that you and your actions in the marketplace, they matter and they’re making a difference. It is a high calling to be an entrepreneur because the ripple effects of what you do and the decisions that you make go vastly beyond you. They will probably outlive you, and you don’t even see that most of the time. That’s one of the difficulties of being an internet-based entrepreneur. You don’t always see the good news. You probably only see the bad news of people saying things on social media, of them making comments about your product or about you. I see plenty of that, I read the YouTube comments. But we so, we so forget to, or we miss the good things that people say about our product, because usually when people are happy they stay quiet. They only bark when they’re upset.

What you do as an entrepreneur matters. It makes the world a better place, remember that. There’s no reason to feel guilty about your success. Your success makes the world a better place. So keep on changing the world, and remember that as you plan out 2017. Thanks for watching and supporting the show. I appreciate it, and we’ll see you on the next episode.

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