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5 Things You Can Learn From Charlie Hoehn, the Former Personal Assistant of Tim Ferriss, Ramit Sethi and Tucker Max

5 Things You Can Learn From Charlie Hoehn, the Former Personal Assistant of Tim Ferriss, Ramit Sethi and Tucker Max
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I first heard about Charlie a few months ago, though I was unknowingly enjoying the fruits of his work for a long time. Because among many other things he assisted Tim Ferriss with the marketing of Ferriss’ New York Times Bestseller “The Four Hour Body”, which helped me to get six-pack abs back in 2012.

Reading a post of his on Ferriss’ blog made me increasingly interested in what he did and how he did it. After watching his TEDx Talk I went from being amazed to becoming a fan. To give you an idea of what Charlie accomplished, get this: one of his first mentors was no less a person than Seth Godin. Charlie applied for a summer internship to work for Godin, was turned down, got the chance to do a virtual internship with 200 other applicants and simply outworked and outlasted nearly all of them. His work ethic got him promoted and he started to work as a virtual intern for Seth Godin. From then on his journey became even more impressive. He actively reached out and landed gigs with bestselling authors and accomplished entrepreneurs like Ramit Sethi, Tucker Max and Tim Ferriss.

After numerous successes and working himself to the verge of a nervous breakdown he quit working for others and started a company with Chad Muretta and Jason Adams. This resulted in an incredible financial success and on the first 10 days of the launch they made $2,000,000 in revenue. Once again, Charlie turned his back on this success. He started again to struggle with his own anxiety. He tried any number of things to overcome it. Finally he found a cure for it and captured this in his new book “Play it away”, which Tony Robbins calls “The cure to your stress”. Pretty impressive, huh?

Despite his success Charlie is incredibly humble and approachable. He took some time to talk to me about my upcoming TEDx talk and gave me some great input. We talked about mentors, relationships, fluoride in the US drinking water and Harry Potter. Here is what I’ve learned from Charlie:

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1. Everybody can be your mentor

Even though Charlie obviously had the chance to work with some of the greatest entrepreneurs of our time, he started out on a completely different level. His first “mentor” was a local videographer from his city. Charlie would drive an hour just to help the guy move around the equipment and therefore learn from him how to film. Later on he would even mentor Charlie on which rates to charge when he had his own clients. So before reaching out to superstars he used the opportunities that were already at hand to learn.

So look around in your own neighborhood. If you are young and inexperienced there are people literally everywhere from whom you can and should learn valuable skills.

Starting out with local professionals makes complete sense, because all young entrepreneurs want to have Tim Ferriss or Robert Greene as a mentor. Though it is obviously impossible for a handful of superstar mentors to train thousands and thousands of young entrepreneurs. So reaching out to professionals from your town is a great way to get started and build necessary skills. The skills you learn there can eventually be used to build something on your own or hustle for an apprenticeship under an expert of your field.

2. Add value and be generous

The question that poses itself is: “How do you actually set up a mentor/mentee relationship?” Charlie has a very straightforward answer for this: come in with a present or a clear idea of what you can do that adds value to your mentor’s business.

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Most people approach the luminaries of a field with their hands out, trying to extract something from them. Even just asking them out for a cup of coffee is, as Charlie states, by itself a very selfish act. First think about what you can bring to the table in this interaction. This can be something specific and elaborated, similar to when Charlie landed the gig with Tim by offering to make a video for his “about” section on his blog and setting up a forum for his readers. However, it doesn’t need to be that sophisticated. Charlie thinks it is enough to just rid the person of some menial work, like carrying around equipment for a videographer like he did when starting out. Obviously the more famous the person is, the more competition you have from other aspiring apprentices and it would be smart to come in with a clear and valuable suggestion of what you can offer.

Though even if you don’t want to engage in an apprenticeship-like relationship and just want to genuinely connect with people, Charlie thinks, it is essential to be generous. “Try to help everybody around you. Try to get in a position where you add value to people’s life or business.” This will eventually payback and people want you to be in their lives as friends, partners or as trusted advisors.

3. Be proactive

Another thing that I learned from Charlie is to be proactive. If you are a freelancer don’t wait for customers to come in, go out and pitch them. If you are an entrepreneur go out and talk to customers. If you are a young and inexperienced marketer go out and proactively pitch a possible mentor.

As a fantastic example of such proactivity he mentioned the web designer who is responsible for the website of Disney and Apple among many others. She didn’t wait for them to eventually find and hire her. She redesigned their homepage, then reached out to Apple and Disney saying that she would like to redesign the whole website if they were willing to hire her. So she actually approached them with a sample of what she was capable of, which was so convincing that they couldn’t help but hire her.

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Charlie literally mastered this proactive type of finding an employer or mentor. He calls this approach “free work” and not only covered this idea in a TEDx talk which has more than 100.000 views but also wrote a whole manifesto on this called Recession Proof Graduate, which helped thousands of others to find a job or mentor and includes very actionable ideas on how to go about this.

4. We are all winging it

Many entrepreneurs or young professionals get upset because they are not sure if they are doing the right thing or because they have no idea where they are heading. Charlie says that this is normal. Even the guys who seem like they have figured it all out are just winging it.

In addition to this insecurity, if we are doing the right thing, our ego always tells us that the stuff we are producing is not good enough. This constant chatter of our ego is not very easy to overcome, because especially at the beginning of your career your execution is gonna suck and you don’t have a plan where you are going.

As Charlie says, these are typical struggles of being an entrepreneur, everybody has this and you need to accept it. Period!

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5. Relationships matter most

As an entrepreneur it is fairly easy to spend days and days just sitting in front of your computer either in some coffee place or in your home office. Even if you might make a lot of money and successes are coming in, this is not the stuff that will make you happy. Charlie has been there! So he emphasizes the importance of relationships over and over again.

He is serious about this – whenever I watched Charlie doing career coaching he asked people about their psychological well-being and especially their connections to others. When he then offered them a solution for their career issues he often included a nice twist, which made them come into more contact with other people.

Looking at a lot of my entrepreneur friends I think most of us should follow Charlie’s advice more often when he says:

“Make it a priority to build a social circle and to have friends. At the end of the day deep and meaningful relationships is what will make you happy.”

 

Featured photo credit: Edward Druce via charliehoehn.com

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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