I looked to substances which does a great job of hiding things and masking things at least for some time, kicks the can down the road more or less. When I got clear on that, it really started with the selfish desire to be the best that I could be and to fulfill myself first so that I could be the best person to fulfill in my marriage and my family. It’s a selfish concept originally, but it’s designed to be selfish so that you’re at the highest version of yourself for others. Which that dichotomy was what I understood later in life and now is where I draw from and where I get my inspiration to wake up early, drive hard, push through the challenges so I could be the best for myself for others.
It’s almost like the idea they tell you getting on the airplane, put your own mask on first before you help someone else.
I’ve never thought of that analogy. I’ve flown much, you’re the second person to reference that, but it’s the exact same thing. You’re not going to be able to help your children on an airplane if there’s a pressure decrease if you’re suffocating or getting dizzy or you pass out. Same thing, you can’t help your family to grow and to provide for them if you’re paying everybody else except yourself and suffocating financially.
With all the pressures, particularly the pressures around starting a business, once it’s up and running and there’s consistent cashflow. There are still lots and lots of challenges, but to me it’s those early days when money’s pretty tight and it’s tempting not to pay yourself to put yourself in danger in other ways. The pressure I think can be so intense that it sends you in these other places. Sounds like you’ve found some better ways to cope with that now. What are you doing now? You mentioned meditation and a few other things. What are the key things you’re doing now that are helping you deal with that? Because you’re in a high growth business right now.
We are. Let me talk about business first because I could talk about meditation and wellness and all of that stuff. The one thing that I highly recommend if you’re in that position and you’re in the early days and things are tough, you need to charge more money. You need to build more and if you believe in yourself, if what you’re doing is truly valuable, you can afford to double or triple your rates and that has a duality effect. It increases your confidence and it also increases your cashflow and what you take home, which allows you to do other things like invest in advertising, invest in a new gym for yourself, take your wife out on a nicer date because you’ve been on the cheap dates and now you want to go to the Ocean Club or whatever. That’s a practical thing and I’m coaching four guys right now personally. One of the guys he is undervaluing himself in the consulting world, but yet he’s pitching his services to multi-million eight figure, nine figure companies. I told him, “You just need a price tag that makes me squirm inside,” because he hasn’t gotten that sales traction yet.
That’s an easy thing and we always, from day one we’re profitable because we charged enough and we knew that, “This is what we need to make.” That confidence was built after eight years of doing things wrong. It’s not to say that I out of the gates my first business had that confidence. I was tired of being broke and I wanted to make sure I charged enough, but back to the other intangibles beyond just a pricing recommendation. Meditation is trendy right now. I get a lot of people talk about it. You hear about the apps that are getting these cool valuations of like calm, I think valuated at a billion dollars or something.
All is working out your brain, like a gym workout for your brain. That’s the way I look at it. Can it be spiritual? Absolutely, but for me it’s the best way to interrupt my thought processes which sometimes can be stressful and destructive and to be able to stop that cul de sac pattern loop that you can get stuck in about a topic or an issue and interrupt that with some mindfulness, gratefulness and whatever else goes on in the meditation practice people can choose. That is such a relief and such a stress release. It’s cumulative, so anyone who’s not meditating, you got to really do it ten to twenty minutes a day every day to feel the benefits over weeks and weeks and months and months. That’s a pro tip too because a lot of people will do it for two minutes and say, “I don’t feel anything, that took forever.” Neither does running, walking one lap around the lap, like you’re going to move one lap. It takes a lot more to move the needle.
You’re the first person I’ve heard refer to it or relate it to exercise. I think that’s a good analogy. Everybody’s got their different practice. Mine is very simple. I just try and clear my head of thoughts for about ten minutes a day and it’s probably the most difficult thing I have to do all day because the brain is always running but to get the fleeting moments of complete quiet. Because it’s never the full ten minutes. Maybe I’m not good enough yet, but it’s never the full ten minutes that the brain is quiet, but it’s for moments throughout but when you get to that point and have that piece, it really is restorative. We all have that voice going on and in business, particularly when you’re going through stressful times that voice can be incredibly negative and work against you. I think being able to take that time and be able to get clear is really valuable.
It’s valuable and it leverages you to have much more clarity through the rest of the day that it’s an expediential gain on investment from a time standpoint. I’m a practical guy. I studied engineering for a year, didn’t go down that path but I like science, I like technology, I like facts figures and for me. I’m rationalizing the time investment of meditation. I’m able to come out of meditation and be hyper focused for 90 minutes, maybe two hours, so much more that if I stopped my day at that point, I could literally bed one for the day, but it’s only 10:00. That’s what people don’t realize; don’t get me wrong, it totally helps with stress. Totally helps with you want to punch someone in the head or something’s frustrating you. You can do it but it’s like warming up your mind for then what can be the most productive hour and a half, two hours of your day and if you don’t pause to create that gap in that space, then what do you do? You wake up, you get hit with the day’s stuff, everyone needs stuff from you and before you know it, it’s 10:00 at night and you feel like you’ve gotten nothing done.
Russ is the author of the new book, The Sober Entrepreneur. Russ, thank you for sharing everything you did. I think excellent advice number one, about raising fees and two, about finding some calm and some peace throughout your day. I’d like to talk a little bit about the book and understand why you wrote it and who you think it’s best for?
The book itself started as a personal project stemming from a similar auto-biographical slash biographical project my grandmother did. She’s been passed for some time now, but she did a whole book on our genealogy. She was a daughter of German immigrants. Tracking that from before Arizona where I live was a state and all the way through present. At the time, present day when I had my first daughter, I was married to my wife. We didn’t have our kids yet with me and my wife and I was reading this tale, this book and enthralled and it occurred to me because I hadn’t stopped drinking. I was still drinking at the time that all the men in this book didn’t necessarily have the most glamorous or flop in portrayals from my grandma. She was a pretty hard, straightforward lady as you can imagine, the daughter of German immigrants would be. She just said it and told it how it was, their addictions, their shortcomings, their challenges, their gambling debts and all the way up to cousins and uncles I knew. It made me stop and think what would someone write about me right now if I was to pass away? What would my story be? I was not happy with that. A lot of the things that could have been written were around the challenges that I had had around drinking and so then and there I decided to change my family treats, catch line of the book, the subtitle, but I decided that, “I’m going to live a different life where alcohol, substances and addiction is talked about, wasn’t in my life, and it’s eliminated to the best of my ability.” I’m not going to avoid everything possible. Not worried about drinking anymore, but there’s realities where I can get addicted to something else, maybe a little more abstract, but I wrote this book to change the tide of the stories and have an asset for my own kids.
I have three daughters now to share my struggles and the journeys so that if someone else’s out there in that same boat, they can realize that, “Addiction and the challenges that go along with it aren’t just reserved for the homeless guy under the bridge. That there are high functioning entrepreneurs, married people who struggled just the same.” That’s where it started and then it’s leveraged beyond that into a teaching tool and now a whole platform where I want to open up this conversation because we’re all addicted to something. The proof of this because you could say, “Russ, I’m not that addicted.” If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re addicted because you’re addicted to your business and the idea that you have. Steve, right now, you’re addicted to this podcast because you believe it can help people, teach people and educate people. There is that addictive nature inside of all of us and this book is to share what happens when that goes too far, but then also how to wrangle that and provide a practical toolkit and framework to manage that and turn that energy from negative habits into positive.