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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

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 March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

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More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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