Episode 8- Entrepreneurial Advice From Hammer


The transcript from this episode:

I love stories of grit. I love stories of determination and overcoming adversity and figuring things out and doing things differently because doing things the same is going to get you what everybody else is getting. So I look for these stories, I study it and I research it and I’ve always found them in interesting and odd places and one of them is from Hammer. If remember MC Hammer back way back from the, you know, “You Can’t Touch This” days and “Pray” and all the hit songs from the late eighties and early nineties and then going forward from there. He didn’t start with just the music business and he’s got a really interesting, incredible story where he’s, he basically said he was an entrepreneur from a young age, from nine years old. His mother didn’t have the resources, they didn’t have the money. So he went out to figure it out. 

And he grew up in Oakland, in California. And what he did, he was a huge Oakland A’s fan. He was a huge baseball fan and he would go to the games and he would befriend the ballplayers. And that was back in like the Oakland A’s were the best, one of the best teams in baseball. They won three World Series, I think Reggie Jackson was on that team, Catfish Hunter, Vida Blue, and it was an incredible team. And he got to know the players. He would go up to them and he would talk to him. He would have conversations with basically befriended them and he wanted to make a business out of this. This is what he’s thinking at nine years old, he’s thinking this way. And he went to the players and he said, you know, what do you guys do with the extra tickets that you have? 

And they didn’t have, I don’t think they did anything with it. He said he was very clear with them, very honest. And he’s very open about it. He said, if you leave me your extra tickets, I want to go and sell them outside. And he said, and I will take the extra ticket and I will go to the ballgame. And if you do that, what I want to do is when I go to the game, I want to collect the extra bats, the broken bats and balls and like that. And I want to take that and I want to sell that. I want to make that into a business. And that’s what he came up and he went and told the ballplayers this and that’s really gutsy to do, to be able to have the wherewithal to say that. 

And then the main thing is to be able to say, this is how I’m going to do it. He wasn’t trying to be sneaky, he wasn’t trying to go behind their back. He said this is a business that what I want to do. He’s nine years old at this point and guess what? The player’s agreed to it. So the players agreed to it. So now he is getting the tickets and he is going outside the Oakland Coliseum and he is selling the tickets and he is keeping a ticket for himself. And then he’s going back in and he’s then collecting like a business. He’s collecting the broken bats and any other memorabilia that he could take and sell it to the fans outside. And there’s a great team, so there’s obviously a demand for it. He learned early on what it was like to be in business and he said the transparency and the openness was the key to it and he was making hundreds of dollars. 

He was making a lot of money per game and then this went on. So Hammer did this for five or six years from the time he was nine years old to the time he was 15 years old. In that time he got to be friend a lot of the superstars of the game and then eventually meet the owner and the assistant and become part of the organization, and those connections that built up from him at nine years old thinking differently and thinking like an entrepreneur is what eventually planted the seeds for his music career and the mega hits that he went on to accomplish. Even now he credits the lessons that he learned from that time with what he was able to do with his career. And when you are in this business. He said, you’ve got to have great customer service. You’ve got to make sure that your customers are happy, you need trust is what he said. 

He built it off of trust. He built the trust off of the relationships with these players and with these owners who had really nothing to gain, but he was honest with them and he told them what he was looking to do and they were cool with it. I think they probably saw themselves in him when they were like, man, I was nine years old. I wish I was doing this. And he went to them. He told them the truth. So customer service, trust, persistence. He said persistence was a huge part of it. You need to be able to get told no and continuing because we’re going to constantly be told no in doing this. And the other thing he said was give them a good price. He knew that getting a good price was going to make the customers happy. It wasn’t about gouging them. 

It wasn’t about making every extra dollar that he could possibly make. It was about giving them a good price and making sure that the customers are happy. So they come back to him because he was from the ticket selling business and if he wasn’t giving them a good price and if he didn’t have inventory, then they were going to go somewhere else and they weren’t going to look for him for the tickets. He’s learning this all at nine, ten, eleven years old. And it makes me wonder sometimes what we’re teaching our kids in terms of following rules and passing tests, but not learning the lessons that are going to go on to benefit them for real later on in life. So Kudos to Hammer, there are some more stories about him that are great that I’m probably going to do in future podcasts, in terms of his entrepreneurial spirit, even in terms of how he launched his music career. But I love that one. And that’s something I want to talk to my kids about. So I hope you enjoy that. And I will talk to you tomorrow.

Episode 7- Fail At Something Cool

Here is the transcription for Episode 7- Fail At Something Cool

So I got interviewed for a podcast last week. I’m back on the podcast trail and I was interviewed by Mike Flynn from The Impact Entrepreneur Show. During the interview Mike touched on something that very few people had touched on during podcasts and interviews. And this is why I love doing these interviews because they pull stuff out of us that we might not even think. I know when we go on podcasts, when we’re guests on these things, a lot of times people have an agenda of what they want to talk about, but what it really comes down to are the questions that the host asks and then the responses that you get and even the curiosity that they bring from your story. So one of the things that we harped, on that we touched on was failing at something cool. And I never really thought about too much. I wrote it in my book and I’d said it a bunch of times, but when I was at the desperate mode of my life where I needed to figure something out when I was 22 you know, I was like, I’m going to go do photography now. 

And knew nothing about it. And I said to myself, because I had failed at so many things in my life, I’d failed every major that I was at. I failed in high school. I said, I’m going to fail at this, but at least I’m going to fail at something cool. And I don’t think I realized how important that was on that day. And then going forward, because when I said that Mike really attached to that, like what do you mean by that in terms of failing at something cool. And then even after the call we talked, we talked for another half an hour and he told me about the keynote speech that he’s giving and it relates exactly to that. And the message behind failing at something cool is, this probably is not gonna work, but it’s something that I want to do. So I’m going to try it and I’m going to go after it, but it’s probably not going to work. 

And you hear a lot of motivational talk. Like I know I’m going to, you know, affirmations that I’m gonna do well at this. And what I learned is there’s a lot of pressure or subconscious stuff that goes on with that, but when I said I’m probably going to fail but I’m going to fail at something cool. What it did, it gave me an open book. It gave me a blank slate to just go do what I want to do, and that is the reason why it worked is because my attitude out of it was, I am going to do this. I am probably going to fail, but it’s really cool what I’m going to do and I’m going to give it everything that I’ve got and there was no expectation to it and it’s kind of went on from there and I don’t think I realized until I talked to Mike during this podcast how often that had come up in my life later on and later on.

Because there’s no reason to think that I should have written a book. You know, there was nothing in school, there was no teacher. There’s nobody ever said, you should be a writer. You should go write a book. Or you should have the audacity to actually go write a book and get it published by a publisher and get endorsements by bestselling authors and famous people like, who you are you to think you can do that? And it wasn’t anything about who I thought I was. It was about I’m going to try something, I’m probably going to fail, but it’s going to be cool. So writing a book to me when I had decided to do it sounded really cool. There was no expectation that something was going to come from at starting a mastermind, you know, doing any type of coaching, the sports photography world or like doing an online course. All those things I had never done before. 

I had no reason to think it’s going to be a success. So what if I had the pressure on myself, like I need to make this a success, I need to make each of these things a six figure business. Some people might thrive in that situation. And I think I thrive at it now because I’ve had a lot of confidence from those failures that turned into successes that I’m like, what’s, what’s their lose? There’s nothing really to lose by trying this. Let’s give it a shot. But in the very beginning, man, that was so incredibly impactful for me. So powerful for me to be able to pause, check the ego, say you’re going to do this anyway. You’re going to fail. You probably not going to care what people think about you failing because people are going to see you failing. When you put yourself out there and it doesn’t work, what happens is you realize the sun still comes up tomorrow. 

I’ve had a lot of failures, but what happens is I forget about those. I forget. You know, I have to think about it when I was in the shower, what are the things that I tried that were really cool but failed and there are some, my blog that I did about five years ago, I quit. I quit doing it. You know, playing guitar. I quit all the time. I never get to where I want to get to, there’s this, there’s so many things. But what happens is I don’t think about those things because my time is spent thinking about the ones that I tried thinking I was going to fail and they became a success because when they became a success, it got more of my time. I put more time into it. It got better and better and better and I got more confident. 

So the idea of, and that’s what Mike really touched on, the idea of, I’m going to try this, I’m going to give it the best that I’ve got. I’m probably going to fail, but at least it’s going to be something cool in the something cool part is really important because normally people I know that have carte blanche to do what they want to do with their lives and they don’t choose something that they think is cool. They choose something, they think it’s going to be for the money or because their mom wanted them to do it, but it’s not something that they wanted to do. And I can tell you when times get tough and when things go down and it’s not going the way that you want to go. If it’s not something you want to do, you will fail. And I’ve been there before. 

But when it’s your book that is like, this is what I am going to do, I don’t care if anybody reads it, I’m going to make it happen. This is the business that you want to do is the job that you want. When you know there’s a chance of failure, but it’s what you want and it’s really cool to you, it just gives you that added up to go forward. So what that does for, at least for me personally and people that I’ve coached on this, is it allows you to see new things in your life that you have not done and not looking at it with fear, not looking at it with like, I don’t know what that is, so I’m not going to try it as you then look at it like that’s something I’m probably going to fail at it. But it sounds cool. 

So to me, the idea of doing a podcast now is something I have no expectations that people are gonna listen to it. But I’m going to do it because that’s the next thing on top of that is the conference. Now I want to do a conference. Okay, I’ve never done a conference before. I’m now dreaming about it. I can picture it failing. But that picture of it failing really allows me to put the extra effort into it. But it’s something cool to me. And what happens is after a while people start looking at like, oh, you did this, this, this, that. They’re all sound awesome. Like how do you get to do the life that want to do? Because I’m choosing something that I want to do and something that I think is cool and I’m willing to risk failure to do it. So that’s what I think holds a lot of people back in terms of like their safety or their security, or I dunno if that’s gonna work or I’m afraid, what are people gonna think of? 

It doesn’t work. You gotta get to where it doesn’t matter what people think. I was excited in the very beginning of telling people that I failed at photography. Isn’t that crazy? I remember sitting there and thinking, I was so assured that I was going to fail, that when I was in a job and I was 26 I was just excited about saying, you know, one time I tried photography, I gave it a shot. I failed, but I actually tried it. Something. That’s how desperate I was, and I’ve used that type of desperation that we use, talked about last week to propel you forward, where it’s like every new thing is a new adventure that I’m probably going to fail, but it’s something cool, but I’m too, things are going to happen. I’m going to give it my best shot and I’m not going to try at something that I don’t think is really cool. So that’s my motivation for you guys and girls. Let’s go fail at something. Cool. All right. Talk to you tomorrow.

Episode 6- You Are Going To Shoot Who?

The transcript for Episode 6- You Are Going To Shoot Who?

What I have found in this journey of teaching and helping people build their careers and their businesses is that people respond a lot more to the stories of failure or of struggle than the ones have anything to do with success. And I feel the same way. Like it kind of bores me a little bit of like, how do I talk to somebody who built a billion dollar business and how did you go from this many million to this many billion? To me, that’s boring because I don’t think that’s something that most people struggle with. I don’t think that’s even most people’s dreams is to have a billion dollar business. But I think what most people want to do is they want to have a successful business so they can live the life that they want. So I notice that the struggles, the daily struggles, the stories about what it’s like when you’re starting. That really seemed to resonate with people as it does with me. 

I love hearing the grit stories that grind it out, stories from the really successful people of what it was like beforehand. What was it like before everybody knew you? Because I’ll be honest with you, you can meet a lot of people and once you have a lot of success, people will invest in you or buy their stuff, even if it’s not very good. But that just leads to more success even though it’s not possibly your best work or your best stories. So I love bringing stories, whether it’s from you or it’s from me, or it’s another entrepreneur, another freelancer who had struggles along the way, who overcame the obstacles, the obstacles that you’re possibly dealing with right now and what it was like then that helped get to what it’s like now. So I can tell you, I’ve got pain stories, I’ve got struggle stories, I’ve got beginning stories that go on forever it seems like. 

And I remember those way more than the successes. The successful ones are like, okay, yeah, we got there, but these ones, these really are fun to tell and they’re fun to look back on because it really showed that with no guarantee of any type of success, what you will go through to get what you really want. So way way back when I was starting my photography career, I was a waiter at a place called the Spare rib on Long Island in New York. I worked there at night and some days I worked at a photo lab as my second job and I was going to school, Nassau Community College for photography at the same time, still interning at Bruce Bennett Studios, trying to shoot hockey here and there. So I was very busy young man doing a whole lot of stuff and I was very ambitious and what I lacked in skill and money and connections I made up for in hustle. 

So there wasn’t an event that was going to happen in New York that I wasn’t going to be at or close to or trying to get into. And none of these events I was invited to, I didn’t have press passes. You know, being an amateur, there’s something to that. Well, when you’re an amateur, you really have to push through and, and challenge yourself through things that it’s so much easier as a professional, as a professional. You get the press pass, you walk in, you complain about the press food, you do your job and you leave. But when you’re an amateur, I have so much respect for the amateurs that have to go through this because you have to overcome so many more hurdles to get there. So this story, I was working at the Spare Rib and I saw on the news that the Pope was coming to New York. 

This was Pope John Paul II, this was back in the mid nineties and I was like, man, I really have to go photograph that. Like it’s the Pope. The one time he is going to be here, you know I have no credentials. I’ve got to get there on the street, have my cameras ready. So I checked out the plans, I saw the route, I figured out where in Manhattan I would go to. I knew that over by St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which is where he would be. I knew that on the corner that he’d be able to come down. I would get a decent shot of him. But the problem is I was scheduled to work at the Spare Rib the same day that the Pope was coming to New York. So I went to my boss and I told them that I need to get the day off and he wouldn’t give it to me. 

They were short staffed and didn’t have somebody to work, so I had to work and I came back to them the next day and I said, no, I really need this day off. And again, they wouldn’t give it to me. I came back to them the next day and I said, no, I really need this day off. And again, they wouldn’t give it to me and I was frustrated as I came back the third day, which was the day before the pope was supposed to come to town and I went up to my boss, and this is in the middle of the restaurant now. It’s like one o’clock in the afternoon, they’re serving lunch. The place is packed and I’m getting into it, not an argument with my boss, but I’m very adamant that I have to go photograph this event. I kept bugging him, I said, I need to get tomorrow off. 

And he says, what do you need tomorrow off for? So he yelled at at me, cause this is like the third day that I asked him, he wasn’t saying yes and I looked at him and I said,” I need to go shoot the Pope!” And I saw his face just drop, eyes go wide open. Literally the sound in the restaurant, everybody just got quiet and all I saw was heads turned towards me and stare at me and I’m almost, and I just didn’t know what was going on. I was like, what is everybody looking at me for? And then I saw like the look of horror on everybody’s face and then I realized what I had said and I said, no, no, no, no, no, no. And I paused and I tried to reframe what I was going to say and I said, “I need to go photograph the pope!”

And they were all like, ah. And a sighI went over the crowd. Everybody went back to their meals. It was almost like the music stopped and it came back on. And then just laughter of all my coworkers. And that was like the only talk of the night. But you know, that’s what I was known for as long as I worked at the Spare Rib. So they gave me the day off. I went into New York City the next day, still laughing about the story and then went and got into a decent spot. I got the picture of the Pope, I shot the Pope and I got the picture of him. And all’s well that ends well. It wasn’t a great picture, but it was a start. And the problem is though I can’t find the negatives to that. I don’t have the negatives and I don’t have a print of it. 

So there’s actually no recorded history that I photographed the Pope. There’s no history that I shot the Pope and there’s no real redeeming quality for the story except for the humor that came with that. And realizing, choose your words more carefully when you talk about photography, because a lot of times it can get you a little bit of trouble, and I’m glad it just worked out the way it did to all of our new listeners and subscribers. Welcome. Welcome to the Total Life Freedom podcast. I hope you’re gonna enjoy this. It’s going to be a seven day a week podcast. Hopefully we can inspire you and make you laugh a little bit and get your business going better than ever.

Episode 5- It Was Fear That Stopped Me


This is Total Life Freedom. This is where we help you build a freelance business where you can create time, freedom, money, freedom, and location freedom. In episode two titled One, I gave you the story about why I’m now starting this podcast. After a long delay of thinking about it and being challenged to do it, what finally got me to go and start this up, but what you didn’t hear, even though all that was true when you didn’t hear, was the other side of the story. And the other thing that held me back and that thing that held me back was fear. So I said it, I was afraid. I was afraid to do this podcast. Even though I gave myself an excuse. I said, it’s not ready yet. I’m going to do it for the mastermind, but I’m not going to do it publicly.

Deep down inside, I was afraid. I was afraid of people not listening. I was afraid of people not caring. I was afraid of myself that it would be something, another thing that I’ve done that I started and I went all hot and heavy in the beginning and then I faded away and I’ve had enough of those. I had my blog in the past, I did a blog about five years ago where I went all into it and here’s what happened. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote and I got great traction. Some of the blog posts went viral. They got spread to thousands and thousands of people. I got a lot of momentum with it. I got a lot of great feedback, but what happened was this, I started posting and I kept posting and I kept posting in with each post engagement seem to go down and down and down. The initial ones would, I would post it on Facebook, we’d get all types of comments, but by about 20 blog posts in there were fewer and far between. 

And then I would have certain blog posts that I would post and there’ll be no comments. And what happened was I got really discouraged. I got really discouraged because I was like, nobody’s really reading this anymore. Nobody really cares anymore. So I quit and I made an excuse. I said it was the best thing at the best time and had its run, but nobody really cares anymore and I’m moving on to other things and I can convince myself of things even in my fear. So I did go on to other things, but in the back of my head I always knew that I quit. I always knew that I didn’t stick it out, I didn’t give it my best effort. About six months to a year later, you know, I would go around town or to go to different conferences and what happened often enough was somebody came up to me and said, what happened to your blog? 

A good friend of mine told me that their friend who I had never met, said that my blog was their favorite blog and then it went away. I went to photograph a Race for the Cure event and the wife of one of my friends I was photographing with told me my blog was her favorite blog and they were so disappointed when it stopped. But here’s the deal. I had no idea they were reading. They never commented on anything. They never sent me an email. I’m not saying they should have. This is on me. I thought that nobody was reading, but just because somebody is not commenting or liking or sharing doesn’t mean they’re not reading. It doesn’t mean they’re not enjoying it. It doesn’t mean they’re not getting tons of value out of it. So I saw it in a public forum of social media that it wasn’t getting the attention and I quit and I regret it. 

I don’t have that many regrets because I generally don’t quit. But I quit this one and I look back and I go, what would’ve happened if I would’ve stayed? What would’ve happened if I fought through it? What would have happened if I kept doing it and I asked a little bit more. I asked people what they thought. I got the community involved a little bit more. I asked for engagement or reviews. What would have happened if I didn’t stop? And it disappointed me to think about because there were people reading it. There were people really enjoying it and I let them down by stopping. And I had no idea that I had let anybody down because I didn’t think anybody was reading anymore. So that really threw me for a loop that really made me feel like I had no idea what was out there. 

And I quit. It took the wind out of my sail when I stopped doing that. So I wrote Freelance to Freedom after that and I stuck with that. But that was a one time thing. It took about a year to write, but it wasn’t a consistent thing that I was putting out into the public and I had avoided something like that since then. So even though I put out a podcast for the mastermind, it wasn’t the same thing. I knew there were people that were paying, they were dedicated and they were going to listen to it because that’s what they were there for. Theirs wasn’t for the public to reject. So I was afraid of rejection. I was afraid again, of people not commenting, people not like me. And it’s, I’m telling you something, if you are in this boat, if you’re writing a blog or if you’re looking to do a podcast, if you’re looking to do anything, youtube channel, don’t make your decision based on that. 

So what’s nice is I get to come back here refreshed 2.0 or 3.0 and I had the experience of having gone through that and having to realize I made a big mistake by stopping and there’s people that you’re helping and you don’t even know it. So I can walk into this right now knowing if I post this on social media and nobody likes it and nobody comments and nobody shares somebody is probably getting help from it. And just knowing that is going to keep me going on this. So what stopped me beyond what I said in the last episode, which all was true because this is more complex than a black and white answer, but there was a lot of fear. There is a lot of fear on my part in the mindset of if people reject this, it means maybe this isn’t that good. 

And what finally got me over. This was doing this for the mastermind where I got so much feedback that I realized I’m not afraid of this anymore. I’m not afraid of rejection. I’m not afraid of criticism. I’m not afraid of silence. What I am afraid of is regret cause I know I will regret not doing this if I don’t, as I regret stopping the blog and there’s very few things that I regret. There’s other businesses that we’ve stopped. I don’t regret them. We’re onto the next thing. That’s one thing I regret because I quit for the wrong reasons and I’m going to tell you, don’t quit for the wrong reasons and do the work for the right reasons. I can’t tell how good it feels to actually record these and get these out in the world and realize I got over that hurdle because that hurdle was more about me than it was about anything else. 

That is the other reason why I stopped and that’s the other reason why we’re here now. And part of this is the proving it to myself. But the most important thing is to prove it to you and give examples for you. Because if you have a voice, if you’ve got a book, if you’ve got a podcast, if you’ve got something that you want to put out there, if you’ve got art that you need to do, if you’ve got a business to grow, you cannot let your own fear or other people’s judgment stop you from starting. So if I could be an inspiration to anybody here, whether you comment or not, that’s my job and that’s what I keep doing. So thanks again and I really appreciate you listening.

Episode 4- It’s Not About Who Didn’t Show Up


You are listening to the Total Life Freedom podcast. I’m Vincent, your host, and we’re here to help you grow your business, to have time, freedom, money, freedom and location freedom. I want to go back to our last episode, play to an empty room and I want to go a little bit deeper on that. So many people fail in business because they get this part wrong and the part is play to the empty room. Be thrilled to play to those people that are in the room. Learn from those people, overserve those people, and grow with those people. When I started the Total Life Freedom community about a year and a half ago, I was given some bad advice and luckily I didn’t listen because I had studied this and I had a feel for the way I wanted it to go and the concept was I want to build it small. I want to build it with the right people, I want to serve those people, I want to overserve those people and I want it to grow word of mouth. 



We’d done this before with other businesses. It works. It just feels right. It wasn’t done through social media, through Facebook ads. It wasn’t done through mass communication. Even in a micro way. It was done through relationships. It was done through connections. It was done through people who we had helped and who trusted what we did and it went from there. We didn’t really have to do much work beyond just serving those people, but the advice that I was given through people that I had trusted was that was the wrong way to go about it. Now I’m glad I had done it before because if I hadn’t done it before, I might’ve followed that advice and the advice I was given was if you launch this thing and you don’t get the right amount of people, you’re going to be resentful. Those people that are in there and say you wanted 72 people, if you didn’t get 72 people in, you only got 36 people in there. 

You’re going to wind up resenting them and you’re going to wind up doing poor work because you’re thinking you need 72 and you only got 36 and I was so frustrated that advice to be honest with you, because that’s, I don’t even understand thinking that way. I don’t relate to that because what I see is if there’s 36 people in there and I give them my effort and they are my focus and we overserve them, we pay attention to what their needs are. We pay attention to what their problems are. We do the best we can for them. As Seth Godin would say, do the best you can for the smallest amount possible. They’re going to talk about us. So luckily I didn’t follow that advice. I went with my gut. We went with what we thought would work, what had worked in the past, and it worked out the way we were hoping it would. 

And the advice I want to give to you today is this. It’s not about the people who didn’t show up. It’s not about the people who didn’t respond to you. It’s not about the people who aren’t there. It’s about the people that are, and if you can get that, and if you can focus on that and you can get beyond the great big vision of big ideas, the big launch, if you can get beyond that, you’re on your way. Because if you can take care of a small amount of people that you have, you will grow a loyal and faithful following. You will learn from your mistakes. You will learn from your mistakes and you will make failures on the small stage, not on the big stage. And so many people balk at this because it’s not big enough. But I can tell you that when you do, when you do get to the point where you’re on the bigger stage, the hiccups aren’t going to be there. 

You’ve rehearsed this, you’ve gone through this, you’ve coached this. You’ve been in a situation over and over and over again to where it’s just more people. It’s not a big deal, but when you want to go to the big stage too quickly and you mess up, you are setting yourself up for a colossal disaster. And now I am not the type of person like, oh don’t think big. I think very big. I want you to think very big, but I want you to think big but play small. Play small to a small group of people first. And as you grow bigger, you can still do this in small niches. But so many people get hung up on who they don’t have. So many people get hung up on who’s not paying attention. And if you do that, you are losing clients that are paying attention. 

You are losing people that care about you, who are paying attention to you and they’re going to feel left out. And they’re the ones that were there from the beginning. They’re the ones that truly trusted the message. So love on them, take care of them, grow with them. They will be the ones that talk about you. They will be the ones that promote you. They will be the ones that bring people in. And that’s going to be really important as you go through this process. So when you say things like, I don’t have a very big following or I don’t have very many people on my email list or hardly anybody knows about what we’re doing. Focus on those that know about what you’re doing. Focus on those people. Figure out what they need, figure out what their struggles are. Solve those problems. You have a beautiful opportunity to do a sample size of something where you really get to learn from the right type of people and it could be one person, it could be five people. 

It does not have to be a large group and if you think long term and you think big picture in terms of where this is going, this is going to be invaluable advice for you to grow because it allows you to calm down. It allows you to relax and realize this is not about today, this is not about today. I’m building this for the right reason. I’m building it long term and I’m building it to where this a year from now, there’s going to be a big success in five years from now. Look out. And I can tell you this, that when you do that and you do it well, the ones who aren’t paying attention now very well might be the ones coming back to you later. And this time they’re really paying attention to you. Thank you so much for listening and I’ll be back at you tomorrow.

Episode 3- How To Play To A (Nearly) Empty Room

How do you talk to an empty room? When people start a podcast, when people want to become public speakers, when people start businesses, they envision what it’s going to be like when people are just knocking down their door to listen to them or they want to work with them. But the reality is in the beginning of everything, you’re starting with a nearly empty room now for the most part, whatever level you get to when you start over, you’re back to a near empty room. I find that exciting when things are going really well, I need to start something new and something different and something where I’m a beginner again. It’s always been the way I’ve gone about things and that’s what’s happened here with the podcast. I’m not starting this podcast to build a business. I’m starting this podcast after we’ve built the business. This is now a time for me to grow and learn and do something different and actually take the proof of concept that we learned with these businesses and then be able to bring it to more people. 

To me, it doesn’t start with getting the audience and then trying to make something from that. It comes from making something and then allowing that to grow the audience and allowing that proof of concept of what you’ve done. We’ll talk about that a lot here. The proof of concept to get things done. So experience is truly the best teacher. So as I go into this knowing that I’m going to publish this episode and I don’t know how many people are going to listen to it, it might be a few hopefully, but this is not about getting as many people to listen as much as possible. This is about doing a show that people enjoy and like and want to spread the word on and talk about because they enjoy it. Not for me trying to build a huge audience. So what happened? I’ve learned this over and over again in different avenues and you start small and you learn when you’re small, you learn when you’re just beginning to grow. 

That’s when so many of the lessons come out. And when I thought about this podcast, I thought, wow, that really would be cool to tell. You know, we can tell a lot of stories in the show, but I had a time in Cleveland a couple of years ago, probably about five years ago where I was giving a speech, a public presentation about my career as a photographer and about building our photography business to different levels that a lot of people hadn’t got to. So I got asked by this organization in Cleveland to come speak about photography. They had a large amount of people in their group, so they sold it really well in terms of the amount of people that would be there. So I booked it and scheduled it and worked on the speech and had everything down and I practiced a ton, got everything ready and I drove to Cleveland and the two and a half hour drive. 

They got me the hotel, I get to the hotel, I relax and I go over to the venue where the presentation is going to be. Now I go into the room where the speech will be, and and it looks nice. There’s probably 200 seats and things all lined up, front to back and the stage over here. So I get there about two hours before the speech just to kind of meet everybody, just to get my nerves together because I hadn’t done it too much at that point. I meet the guy that’s running it and they’re making coffee with about an hour to go. A person trickled in and they said, oh you’re the one, you’re the one speaking tonight. So we started talking and we’re having this really nice conversation and I noticed we’re talking for 10 or 15 minutes and nobody else has come in. And I’m like, wait a second, this thing is going off in 45 minutes and there’s two people here and then we’re talking a little bit more and I’m getting really kind of uncomfortable because I’m trying, whenever I’m talking to somebody I try to pay attention to what they’re talking about and what they’re going through. 

But I notice at this point maybe there’s three people in the room. It was about a half an hour to go. There’s still three people in the room, there’s three people in the room in 200 seats, and I’m feeling pretty stupid at this point. Now I start trying to think positively. I’m like, well, maybe they’re coming together, maybe they’re coming in carloads and maybe there’s a bus or two that’s going to come and that’s going to bring everybody in for the group. And now there’s about 20 minutes to go until my presentation was going to start. At seven thirty. It’s now ten after seven and there’s four people in the room and nobody seems to be in a big hurry in any way. And it was then that it dawned on me, I don’t think this crowd’s getting any bigger. So that was four people and me, and now I’ve got to start getting ready for my presentation. 

I can’t even monitor the crowd. And more than that this one guy is talking my ear off a lot. So he wants to keep going. And I had to cut off the conversation with one of the four people in the room. They actually showed up for me and I had to leave, so now I’m kind of watching, so now I’m up on stage. I’m getting my mic set and I’m looking around and as I got my mic on and everybody took their seats, the reality of what was about to happen just hit me. I was about to speak for 194 empty seats and six filled ones. A total of 12 eyeballs would be looking at me during this 90 minute presentation that I had prepared for weeks. If you imagine those times where your stomach just turned upside down.

 I don’t know if it’s embarrassment. I’m not sure if it’s fear or what it is, but I remember being on the stage and having a pit in my stomach like I really just want to leave. I want to turn around, go through that back door, get my car, drive home, I’ll be home in time for bed. We’ll pretend like this nightmare didn’t happen. It was at that point that the guy that ran the organization came up, and introduced me. He, by the way, was one of the six people, so there were five people that actually showed up to see me and I started my presentation. I had the slides set up and I went through it and the first minute was awful. It was awkward. It was embarrassing. One of the six people was on their phone. It was just nightmarish and as I went on, I told the first story and I got a bunch of laughs. 

I kept going and I kept going and I realized I’m getting everybody’s attention. About 10 minutes into it, there was no stress at all. There was no worry at all. I was like, how well am I doing? Are My lines coming out? Am I pausing enough? It didn’t matter that there were six people or if there were 200 people, it actually was kind of fun talking to six people because I got eye contact with every one of them. I got to tell each one of them a story like I got to look right at them. As I was telling the stories, there was no overwhelm at all. It was actually underwhelming and allowed me to actually do what I wanted to do the right way without worrying about impressing anybody because there was hardly anyone to impress. 

So at the end of it all, I felt really confident and part of me was just thrilled that it was only six people. What a great testing ground. What was funny was I got to talk to each person after the speech, which you don’t get to do with a big crowd, and every one of them gave me their insight, gave them their feedback and two of them came up to me and said, man, everybody is going to be so disappointed that they missed this. What started out with great anticipation and then moved to something of tremendous kind of sadness, disappointment. It ended up on this really high note of it doesn’t matter how many people in the room, it doesn’t matter if they’re six, it doesn’t matter if there’s 206 was actually a good thing to start. It allowed me to do what I needed to do without the overwhelm of too many people or too many distractions and that’s the way I feel right here with the podcast and that’s where I want you to feel as you’re starting your venture, whatever that is, whatever the next thing is, because I don’t care where you’re at. 

When you get to where you want to get to, it’s not going to be the be all end all. You’re going to want to be challenged, you’re going to want a new thing. So we’re constantly looking for a new challenge, at least the driven ones of us. If you’re not driven and you’re just fine the way it is and you don’t want to grow it all, this is probably not going to be your show because we’re just constantly working through this type of stuff. But it was such a great lesson for me because I think I might not have started this podcast without it because I might think I need a certain amount of people to listen or I need to get to this level before I can go. I need to know. It’s going to grow to this level. It doesn’t matter because what happened is that free speech for six people then turned into a paid speech, then turned into a higher paid speech than turned to an even higher paid speech with more and more people. 

And that’s without giving it very much time. So that’s something in the future I want to do more of. But just seeing that progress. So for the podcast, it really is do it the best you can for the smallest amount that you can, and then go from there. So that’s how we’re going to start things. So that’s how we’re going to start. So the question was how do you play to an empty room? And the answer is you do the best you can for the smallest amount that you possibly can. Hope you enjoyed that. And I will talk to you tomorrow.

Episode 2 – One


Welcome my friends to the Total Life Freedom show where we help you build a business to create a life of time, money and location freedom- doesn’t that sound nice. This is episode two, the first real episode outside of the intro, and I’m going to explain how this podcast came about and a story that relates to it. As a teenager, one of my favorite bands growing up was Metallica. At that point, they’d only released three albums and there was no public airplay for any of their music. They didn’t have any videos on MTV. They were just an underground band that did it through building a faithful fan base by touring like crazy and by making music that really resonated with a small group of people that love what they did, and I was one of them. I was, I saw them for the first time in concert when I was 14 years old. 

They were the opening act for Ozzy Osbourne on the Master of Puppets tour. At that point, they’d never put a single out. There was no reason to know who Metallica was, aside from their most faithful fans, but yet Ozzy Osbourne, who was the lead singer for Black Sabbath who had a huge solo career, invited them on tour. Metallica was the one that everybody in the parking lot was talking about. They were the band that everybody wanted to see. Unfortunately, bass player, Cliff Burton died in a bus accident on tour while they were in Sweden. Later on that same year, they came back with a new bass player named Jason Newsted and they went on their own tour and they were headlining acts. From then on, I saw them again on that tour and I got to see them probably a dozen other times after that. I got fortunate as my photography career grew, so I got to photograph them in concert art Nassau Coliseum in New York where I used to go watch them as a fan. 

I was now, like, front row photographing them, special access, and everything that comes with being a press photographer and then I got to meet James and Lars, the singer and the drummer backstage at Madison Square Garden one time and there were a few other examples of that as well. But the reason I’m bringing up is this, they recorded three full length albums. They toured the world. They were probably the biggest metal band in the world by the time that their fourth album …And Justice For All came out and they shunned MTV and the media and all media channels so they could just focus on their music and they could focus on honing their craft and becoming who they were and getting their message down and knowing exactly what they were about before they went to do anything else. By the time their fourth album came out they said, okay, at this point we’ve done what we wanted to do. 

We’ve proved this, we’ve got a proof of concept in terms of what we’re doing. We didn’t need MTV to sell out stadiums, we didn’t need MTV to give us popularity. We are selling out everything where we can go now we will go to them. And that’s what they did. They put out a single called One, it went on MTV and it became one of the most popular videos that it ever hit MTV at that point. And they did it on their terms and from then on out they broke the seal. They kept releasing new singles and they got bigger and bigger and bigger. And then the Black album came out and they got bigger from there. And they’re still playing today, 2019 they’re still selling out arenas all over the country. But what they did was very remarkable. And I noticed them even as a 14 and 15 year old, I noticed the fact that they were loyal to their fans, they loyal to their craft, they weren’t doing it for popular acclaim, they weren’t doing it to become the biggest in the world. 

They wanted to do their art and their work on their terms for their fans. So that was very influential to me. So every business that we’ve started, it has started that same way. Our photography business, our coaching, our mastermind, the book release, everything is done and has been built grassroots with a proof of concept that had to be achieved before we took it any further. I had to have, for me to write Freelance To Freedom. It wasn’t something where I just need to go write a book. I didn’t feel comfortable writing that book until we were exactly where we were supposed to be to write the book. So by the time I wrote the book, we had done it. We had, we had started the business. We had quit our job. We had paid off our house, we paid off our debt. We had lived a decade as freelancers raising a family, homeschooling, doing the life that we wanted to do before I felt like, okay, now it’s time. 

I’ve got proof of concept for this. I probably could have wrote it sooner, but it felt right at that point to release it. The next step was a podcast and I’ve been asked over and over and over again to do a podcast and I said, no, I’m not doing a podcast. Everybody’s doing a podcast. I’m not going to follow along and do a podcast just to do it for that reason. So finally, after a while I said, okay, I’m not going to do a podcast for the public, but what I’m gonna do is a year and a half ago, I said, I’m going to do a podcast for my mastermind community and I’ve matched my community of, you know, fluctuates between 40 and 50 people. And I was going to do a podcast just for them. I’ve done a daily podcast just for them for the last year and a half, and it was Monday through Friday. 

Once again, just like Metallica, just like our photography business. We wanted to build proof of concept first. We didn’t want to just go out there and then just start something and then fizzle with it. So after 200 episodes, I finally said to myself, I’m ready. Okay, I’ll do it. Now it’s time now I feel like I can do a podcast on my terms and put it out to the world and feel like I know exactly what I’m doing. And I got to test it on a small group. And I got to get a lot of affirmations, a lot of stories, a lot of information, a lot of, a lot of nerves, a lot of jitters out and a lot of fears that I had to overcome about doing this and that. Got through it. Doing it just for them allowed me to get through a lot of fears, a lot of insecurities, a lot of limiting beliefs. 

And then finally it’s even like doing this now is no big deal, but if this was my first episode ever doing a podcast, I’d be nervous. I’m not nervous, I’m talking to everybody. Like I talked to my group and I’ve been doing this for awhile, so this is my One. This is my single that I’m finally putting out to MTV because I’m like, we’ve done it. We built and sold out a mastermind community. We’re now building a membership site around that because we don’t have room in the mastermind community anymore. So at this point I’m like, I’m not doing this for business and not doing this as a way, oh, let me, let me start a podcast so I can increase my business. We’ve got to where we wanted to get to. Everything’s gravy for me and we felt like that for years. Now I feel like I can do it on my terms. 

I can do it for the reasons that it feels right to do a podcast and not just something that’s just a promotional vehicle. That’s never what I wanted to do. So there you go. This is our One and Metallica was a very big inspiration. I love bands and artists that did things their way, that live life on their terms, that did work on their terms. They didn’t do it for the accolades, they didn’t do it for the money. And what happens is, and I say this over and over again, the money comes when you do it that way and you do it right. So you’re looking at Metallica, selling out arenas for 30 years. I think they’re probably doing okay business wise. I think they’re probably going to be fine. That’s a little bit of an intro into why I’m doing this now and why this is coming out and this is going to be a daily podcast because if I were to start this out of nowhere out a daily podcast, it would seem insane to me right now. 

It seems like a no brainer to do this because there’s so many stories and I think we could really keep you entertained. Not only keep you entertained, but keep you informed, get you thinking differently, get you to where your business can. If you’re just starting it or you’re stuck or you’re looking at growth, we can get your business to get you more time freedom to get you more financial freedom. And a big part of us, maybe not for everybody, is location freedom. We love being able to go where we want to go, when we want to go. We have three kids. We want to be able to travel. There’s a big part of their life for us to do this together. So we don’t want to leave anything on the table. So here’s what I’m hoping to either inspire you to do or encourage you to do who’s ever into this. We’re going to go from here and I am really excited and I’m just so thankful to have you on this journey with us. I appreciate you listening.

Episode 1- Welcome To The Total Life Freedom Podcast!

All right- And away we go! You are listening to the very first episode of the Total Life Freedom podcast, which was originally going to be titled the Last Podcast Ever Made because that’s what it was going to be. Because I had no plans on doing a podcast. I’d seen so many people start podcasts, start interview shows, and I said I’m not going to go down that road. It’s not something I’m going to do. So I avoided it for a really long time and then finally it kept creeping back in. So what I decided to do is- I’ve kind of always have to do something a little different. We have a mastermind community that I run called Total Life Freedom. And within there I said, okay, I could do a podcast there, I could do a podcast just for you guys. That’s what I’ve done. So it’s been a 220 episodes. 

I think at this point I’d done a daily podcast just for the mastermind group and that’s gone really well to where I feel like, okay, wait a second, we’ve got so much more that we can share outside of the group. I’ve got the format down, I’ve done this. Nobody knows about it. I’ve been doing this for a year and a half now, but nobody knows. I’m like, okay, that goes more in line with what I’m doing. So the podcast was going to have a format, it was going to have some structure to it in these different segments. And then I finally said, nope, this is the way that I liked doing it. I liked doing it in short storytelling spurts. So here’s the plan and here’s what this is. This podcast is for freelancers, entrepreneurs, people that want freedom in their life. People that want time freedom, people that want money, freedom. 

People that eventually want location freedom. They want to be able to live life on their terms. That is a lot of people talking about that. And I see it almost everyday cause I’m getting asked to be on podcast for it. What I see is a lot of people are talking about it, but honestly, a lot of people are not living it. And we’ve been living it for a really long time. We’ve been living it for 13 years. You’re gonna hear a lot of our story. If you haven’t heard our story., I wrote a book about it. It’s called Freelance To Freedom. You can literally go to our website, totallifefreedom.com/ftfbook, top right hand corner, and you can download the free audio version of it. No strings. You could download a free audio version of it so you can get a feel for what our story is. 

I’m going to be telling some of those stories on here, but what this is going to be is this is going to be for people that are in the entrepreneurial space, in the freelance space that are looking to grow. They’re looking to do more, they’re looking to get better. They’re looking to gain freedom in their life. They want to spend more time with their kids. It’s very, we’re very family based. It’s, we do this all for our kids. So you know, we homeschool. We have three boys, they’re 13, 11 and seven. I’m fortunate to be married to the best wife in the world. My wife Elizabeth, we’ve been married for 17 years. We love to travel as a family every winter. We took four months off last winter to go out west. The year before that when the book released, we took three months off in the winter and we just traveled around in 23 different states that we went to with the kids, so that’s the life that we love and we want to spread that word because it’s so possible and there’s so many people trying and wanting to do this, but they’re not able to do it. 

They don’t know where to go. They don’t know who to trust, they don’t know where to start and that’s what we’re going to do here is we’re going to do this and we’re going to just tell stories and we’re going to give lessons and it’s going to be a lot of fun. What we’re going to do is a daily podcast and it’s not going to be long and it’s not going to be something that’s exhausting for you or time consuming. You can listen to it when you want. You don’t listen when you don’t want, but what I basically do, it’s a five to 10 minute podcast daily, a story, a lesson, something that’s gone on in our life, somebody that we’re going to tell you about that’s doing great things that could be an inspiration to you. We’re going to have a lot of fun with this. 

We are going to do some giveaways. I love giving stuff away. I love giving books away from people that I trust and believe in. So we’re going to do so we’re going gonna make it fun. There is going to be randomly at times, different giveaways that you can answer a question or try to answer a question and get a book from somebody that we believe in. A little bit about me. If you don’t know who I am, if you’re listening to this and the first episode, you probably have an idea of who I am. But if you’re going back through the archives later on, I am a 47 year old guy. Like I said, married three kids, we homeschool, we run multiple businesses. I was a photographer for many years. I was a newspaper photographer along with my wife in a newspaper in Indiana sports photographer. 

I photographed professional sports for over two decades. I’ve shot everything you can imagine. World series, Super Bowl, NHL Final. Really cool stuff- like I think I photographed four United States presidents. I photographed, you know, spend the day with the Dalai Lama with my, with my job. I got to photograph Muhammad Ali’s birthday party while he was still with us. So many other crazy stories that come with that which will be tied into the lessons that we hear here. Now what I do with, it’s a wide variety of things but I run a mastermind community for high achieving entrepreneurs and freelancers. We are opening up a membership site for people that want to get their lower priced option and I run the Business of Photography Academy, which is another mastermind community strictly for photographers looking to master the business side. We’re going to be doing a conference next year in Pittsburgh. Got a couple of other things that we’re working on as well that we do, but that’s kind of an overview of it all and what is really fantastic is being able to help people get to where they want to get to and live life on their terms. 

You’re going to hear it a lot in terms of the stories that we’re going to tell. I did not come from a business background. I was a terrible student. I learned on the day before graduation from high school that I graduate in high school. I dropped out of five different majors in college. I was a very selfish, self-involved person for a good portion of my life. I learned generosity and I keep trying to learn generosity. I keep trying to battle the demons of selfishness that I have and I’ve got to learn from wonderful people like Seth Godin in terms of how to be generous, how to do so many of the things that I’ve been able to do. So I’m so fortunate. This is not something that comes easy to me because I’ll be quite honest. You know, selfishness is something that I’ve battled way in the past and I continue to, I know people like my friend Ken Hoops, who’s in our mastermind, is one of the most generous people you’ll meet. 

He said he was raised that way and that’s the way he’s always, and that wasn’t me. I was very much, you know, what can I get? How do I get this? How do I get what I need? It can be manipulative, it can be whatever it needs to do to get to what I needed to. And that was a big problem of mine because I eventually got what I wanted in a lot of ways, and I can tell you this, if you’re in that mode, when you do get there, it’s kind of empty. You get it, but you kind of didn’t do it the right way. It wasn’t that I did it, you know, and morally it all, it’s just, it was about me when I was a photographer and I’m on assignment. I needed to get the shot. I don’t really care what is going on around us. 

I need to get it because my boss needs it and I need it for myself, so now I get to kind of switch the whole thing around. I really get to do this from a level of generosity. What I’m going to teach a lot is controlling your money, not only controlling your money but thriving with your money so you gain time freedom. We have the time freedom, we’ve got the money freedom and then the location freedom and allows you to just think more about what other people need as opposed to what you need. It’s a hard place to get to when you need these things, but I can tell you that the most generous of us are the ones that get more stuff. They’re the ones that get promoted, they get talked about, they get help. People want to go out of their way for those people. 

It’s something that I needed to learn as an adult and I need to continue practicing. This is what I’m going to teach here. And when you get just the jolt of inspiration, five minutes of fury where we just kind of tell a story, give a lesson, connect people, talk about what other people are doing, and then we move on with our day where it doesn’t take a whole lot of time from you guys. So there you go. I hope you stick with us. I hope you subscribe to the podcast and you come back. If not, and you want to read the book like I mentioned, go to the website, www.totallifefreedom.com/ftfbook is on the right hand side. Go download the free book and just sign up and get the download from the free book if you’d like. I will be back with you tomorrow and I am really excited about this journey. Thank you so much for listening!