In this episode:
01:54 – Some background on John
03:34 – I’ll show them!
05:46 – The Schramko roots
06:46 – From suit to surfboard
08:51 – The power of choice
09:51 – John’s introduction to goals
11:13 – The resource you can’t replace
13:49 – Right brain versus left brain
16:04 – What’s your excuse?
18:58 – How much is enough?
20:56 – Planning and future vision
23:57 – The customer that started it
27:59 – A practical approach to future-gazing
28:53 – Lessons from the aging
30:44 – Waiting for that better wave
33:10 – Remember when…?
James’s book Work Less Make More is on Amazon – grab your copy today!
Get your business game on with John Carlton’s book, The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Getting Your Sh*t Together, Volume 1
James: James Schramko here, welcome back to SuperFastBusiness.com and today is a very special episode, just a regular episode, number 566, but today’s special because I’ve brought back my guest from episode number one, from 2009, which actually seems like some time ago. Welcome John Carlton.
John: Shrak, how are ya?
James: Good. We should explain that you may occasionally refer to me by my AKA, which is Shrak. I remember you famously produced an interview of ours, at one point you took a variation of the spelling of my name on your website and when I pointed said error out, you said, “No, no mistake there,” and you sent me a long sales letter style email explaining to me why I really should change my name to Shrakmo. It would be easier to spell, I’d be doing future generations a massive favor, that I might as well confront the reality of it now and it was hilarious. I remember getting a lot of entertainment.
John: It didn’t work. It was one of my biggest failures in sales, I have to say.
James: I’m still thinking about it, so maybe I need to be just pushed over the fence.
John Carlton’s origins
John: I don’t know the genesis of your family name, and so I suppose it’s some runt English name, you know. I had my DNA tested. Have you done that? With 23andMe.
James: Oh, yeah. I have done a few variations of it.
John: Yeah. I am exactly what we always thought I was. I’m mostly English, a little bit of French and some Scandinavian and that’s pretty much it. So a mongrel European. And it’s just fine because I’m sure that although my name Carlton sometimes appears in hotels, the Ritz Carlton and Carlton cigarettes and things like this, my family is strictly working class and I’m built to be slave labor. So I’m sure we were, my original grandfather, great, great, great grandfather was brought over to America in chains as an indentured servant. And you know, my history, my family only goes back to my grandfathers on both sides, so it’s like this empty vast wasteland after that.
So I don’t know, I find where we come from to be very interesting because both you and I deal with a lot of people who were born with silver spoons in their mouths and some of them do quite well. The ones who do well, who were raised wealthy, I have found personally they do better with negative motivation. In other words, they’re going to show their family that they can make their own money; they’re going to show their family who for whatever reason thought they didn’t measure up to whatever standards they grew up with.
I grew up with working class standards. If I’d gotten a job in construction and stayed with it for 40 years, my folks would have been proud of me. As I became an entrepreneur, though, they didn’t understand, never did really understand what I did for a living, but they came to respect it and they would proudly say, “Here’s my son John, the entrepreneur.” And people would just blink, you know, my extended family and people in the neighborhood.
The power of negative motivation
But I also benefited from negative motivation, which was, I was doubted early on. I think I’ve mentioned this multiple times. The first copywriter I ever met was in an art department in Silicon Valley where I was slaving away at a low-level job and never even met a freelance copywriter. Met my first professional copywriter in there.
I asked her, “How do you do it? I think this is something I could do, copyrighting.” And she said, “Nah, you’ll never figure it out, it’s too hard.” And I went into my career then, like a couple of years later, with her in mind, that I was going to show her up. That negative motivation drove me harder than anything else. Not money, not fame, not any other part of the job.
“What are you doing in business in the first place?”
So that’s something I think a lot of people can benefit from, is to examine, what is the motivation? What are you doing in business in the first place? Are you here because you think it’s easy money, or are you here because you want fame and whatever you think the trappings of that fame will entail? Or are you going to show somebody? And for me, the negative motivation thing was really powerful.
James, I know that you and I had met for the first time in Sydney at that speaking tour, where I took you aside and scolded you for not spending enough time on copy with your otherwise brilliant presentation, and we became friends quite quickly. But I think there’s a lot of motivation for you too, not to show other people but just that you have been doubted so much – you’d had some bad bosses, you’d been through the grinder. Wouldn’t you say that negative motivation influenced you a bit?
James: Yeah, you know, I’d probably use a different word, but I think in my case I went through a journey of external motivation and then became more of an internal motivation person. Over the last five years, especially.
John: In other words, pleasing yourself, right?
James: Yeah, I think if you follow the storyline of my life at that early twenties age, there was a lot going on with my family. So I think this self identity and your parenting and your geneology, all of that, is very, very interesting to me as well. And I’m lucky that my father’s been researching our family tree and you know, I’ve got diaries from my great grandfather.
Where James came from
James: You know, the Schramko name’s definitely Eastern European and I always grew up thinking I must be mostly Eastern European. My DNA was a bit surprising. Firstly, there was a hundred percent human. There’s no alien at all, which was shocking. But secondly I’m mostly English and French as well, because three out of four of my grandparents came from that region and I managed to trace back my family back to French royalty and some English Heritage. And then my dad’s DNA came back recently and he’s got a lot more Eastern European so I got the three quarters of it….
John: You mean the Balkans? You mean you’re Russian?
James: Yeah, like in that Czechoslovakia sort of area where my grandfather, George Schramko, came from there to Australia and was in the glass trade and he spoke seven or eight languages. And he had a lot of patents around manufacturing of glass. So I thought I had more of that, but it turns out I was more of the English French.
Past and present motivations
And so back to the self identity. In my early twenties, having seen the financial fall out of this recession that we had to have in Australia, my parents went through that and I was sort of forced from education into a full-time job, which I was secretly celebrating because I hated the academia of it and it took the pressure off. It was kind of like, “Oh well, you know, I’ve got to go and get a job,” and that was the story I told myself. But in reality I think it was just as much as an escape.
And it didn’t take too long till… I was only 20 years old when I met my wife and got married and we started having kids. I was 23 when I found out I was going to have a kid and that was the external motivator, boom, you know, like I’ve got to provide for three people now. I took on a heavy suit of responsibility and I think I wore that suit for the next 15 years or so and only in the last five years have I been able to just sort of unbuckle that suit and shed it.
And you know, surfer James emerged four years ago. And beach lifestyle transition and a whole new world exists outside of, you know, when you take off those layers. And now I would say I’m more internally motivated. I’m much more motivated by activities that I want to do, that I have a much more abundance of time and money, which were definitely very scarce in my early 20s. You know, I was pretty much working every single day. Even that first sales job, I worked for about 36 or 37 days straight.
We were like a month into it and my boss said, “Hey son, have you had a day off?” And I said, “No.” And he said, “Well, take one off next week.
John: Next week.
“How much choice do we have?”
James: It was really tough. I would have quit five times over if I could have. I just didn’t feel like I had a choice. And so that really sort of leads into another topic, isn’t it? It’s, how much choice do we have? And as you said, are we looking to get things because someone planted that idea that it’s important to us and we never even questioned it?
Being able to choose
John: Yeah. The two main themes of my career – and I didn’t start till I was 33. I mean I was flotsam and jetsam on the seas of life throughout my 20s and the first couple of years in my 30s and I had to have the big revelation that if anything was going to change, it was going to be because I’d made the change. There was going to be nobody, no white knight was going to arrive to save me. There was going to be no big revelation other than that revelation that it was up to me.
“If you don’t change your life now, the next five years will be like the last five years.”
And I’ve censored some great quotes. What’s the one that says, “If you don’t change your life now, the next five years will be like the last five years?” Man, how does that feel? And that’s a pretty good way to look at where you’re at and what you’re doing.
And for me, it was very easy to decide how I was going to continue my life and my career. My career became essential to my life. I became, who I was was what I produced. I became a writer, a professional writer. I’ve never been more proud of anything else I’ve ever done. And being able to choose things as opposed to being shuffled into them or forced into them or just accidentally wind up there was huge.
An introduction to goals
I grew up without any idea of what goals are. You know, in your book you spend a lot of time on goals and I love that. For me, it was accidentally finding Think and Grow Rich, and the part about goal setting was amazing to me. I was in my 30s and I sat back, you know, put the book down, sat back and stared at the wall and said, “Are you freaking kidding me?”
I can actually want something and then make a plan for how to go get it and then actually implement that plan. I didn’t know this tactic existed. I didn’t know it was possible. I didn’t know, first of all, that I was allowed to want anything.
And a lot of that came from just being confused growing up. I always thought everyone around me was hiding the secrets of a good life and I always wondered, what’s going on in their head? What are they thinking that I can’t get access to, that they know about life? And as I grew older, in my 30s, I realized they weren’t thinking at all, in many cases. They didn’t have a lot of thoughts in their head. Not to put people down, but they were going, you know, just one foot in front of the other and plodding through life in a somnambulant daze. And so the idea of saying, “Well, wait a minute. I don’t want this. I want that or I want this other thing.”
Of course, as you know, the first thing that happens when you discover goal setting and you start setting goals and making choices in your life, you often make the wrong choices. You don’t know what you want. So you want a big house with a yacht and all this stuff and you go after that and you know, often when you get it, you find out, wait, I didn’t want that at all.
The value of time
So I was really lucky. And James, we were talking about this just before you tapped record on the call. It’s about time, and it’s a meme that pops up in both of our books, which is the value of time which is, the one resource you can’t replace is your time.
“The one resource you can’t replace is your time.”
And so you, for example, are in your book figuring out what’s your time worth, what are you being paid for the time you’re putting in to whatever particular project or thing you’re doing. And to try to maximize that means that if you have more money, and the money solves the problems you’ve had, like it meets your rent, it gives you the lifestyle you want and you put some money aside and you have a little legacy for the kids and things like that. You know, how much more do you want? How much more do you want to invest your time in making more money when time, for me, the free time was more valuable to me than the money?
The money became a means to buy that free time, and it still is to this day. For you, it’s surfing and whatever nefarious hobbies you’ve got going. For me, it’s reading and thinking, staring at the wall and golfing and doing a lot of things. But I like to do things with purpose. So when I feel that I’ve earned the time that I have free, it makes it more valuable to me. I’ve worked hard, I’ve made the money, I have the time – it’s mine, dammit, and I’m going to do what I want with it.
When I was younger and broke, I still was very protective of my free time and screwing around a lot. But I never felt that I earned it, and it was tainted all the time. I was screwing around when I kind of thought, well maybe I should be settling down or maybe I should get a career going or something. It was very conflicting for me.
So you know, one of the big things for me, when I consult with entrepreneurs who are stuck or having some troubles, I try to find out what’s driving them. What got them to choose this lifestyle, to get into this? And what’s going on? And one of the big bugaboos I find is that a lot of them don’t value their free time. They are after the money, and they haven’t yet figured out what the money means to them.
Because money in and of itself is a concept. I mean, this whole thing with Bitcoin now is really driving it home with people. You know, for most people, all of your money in the bank is only just little dots on a computer in Nebraska (or for you, maybe, in Indonesia somewhere). You know, it’s on the grid. It’s not actual piles of gold, it’s not actual dollar bills that you can spend or coins. It’s all digital. And now with Bitcoin, it’s one step removed from that. It’s totally digital. You’re never going to own a single bitcoin to show anybody, it’s all virtual.
Right brain writing versus left brain
That to me is a good Zen project, is to figure out what it is that the money you’re making or not making or wish you were making and struggling to make, what is that money going to do for you? What is the lifestyle that you choose? And I think that was one of the things I enjoyed about your book.
I think I said my book, The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Getting Your Sh*t Together, Volume 1, is kind of a right brain creative side. You know, I have titles like How to Murder Writer’s Block. You know, Facing Down Your Fears, Strangling Procrastination and A Very Nice and Easy Formula for Writing Simple Sales Messages That Will Make You Stupid Rich. And then I have Chapter 4 is, We’re All Going to Die. Internal Chemical Dumps, Freaked-Out Stress Junkies, Self Flagellation is a Career Decision and The Most Infuriating Advice You’ll Ever Hear. Plus, Oops, Your Cover’s Blown.
So that’s how I approach my book. But I’m telling them how to get your act together as an entrepreneur. You come out with kind of the left-brained version of this, the very practical guide, very step-by-step. I loved it. I was taking notes all the way through it, and I just loved the way you just eschewed anecdote, and you did tell stories, but you brought it all down to a very, very step-by-step process, a lot of charts, a lot of things going on. So yeah, I jokingly said we should have sold our two books as a package together, so we had the left and the right brain there.
I think when people don’t like my book, it’s just a little too fun. You know, the stories go off on tangents, I’m all over the map and I don’t list things out one, two, three, four, five. I just kind of go in paragraph form. And I can’t imagine too many people complaining about your book, but if they did, it might be, you know, it’s like, wow, it seems like I’ve got to sit down and do this thing step by step, which is true, they should. But I’m saying the same thing, I’m just doing it in a different way.
James: I think maybe if someone doesn’t like your book, they might just have an aversion to violence. You’ve got, “strangle,” “murder,” “die.” You know, maybe this staring at the wall activity of yours, your hobby, is not working.
John: Yeah. One of my goals is to get you to use the word “murder,” in a headline. Sooner or later this is going to happen, James.
Tear up that excuse list
James: At 33, you’re sort of figuring out life. By that stage, I was running a 50-million-dollar-a-year business with 70 staff, just, you know, maybe missing out on some of my growing-up phase. But it’s interesting, that white knight philosophy, and you only have to look at a lottery lineup when there’s a big payout. People will line up and it’s almost like a queue of people who have said, “Hey, what I’m getting in life is someone else’s fault. It’s the government, it’s bad luck, it’s my genetics, it’s how I was born.” And that’s just a big excuse list that we can tear up.
You’ve seen examples of migrants who come from poor positions that can make it all the way through. And then there’s also people who even, I’m thinking maybe the Winklevoss twins. Like, they’re probably more silver spoon, and you know, adding on top of that, they’re magnifying what they had. I think they’re the first crypto billionaires.
John: Yeah, but they also got into it because they were pissed off at Zuck.
James: Yeah, that motivation that you were talking about because of the Facebook. In the book, actually, it’s kind of interesting when I look at my chapter about goal setting. I think I dispatch with goals in just like, one paragraph and it’s more or less the way I explain it is to do a visualization exercise, because I think you’re right. We definitely don’t know what we want. Like that Steve Jobs quote or the one that’s wrongly attributed to Henry Ford about, if you ask people what they want, they’d say a faster horse.
Like, it’s hard to know what you want in advance and then Steve Jobs sort of argues you only find out as you go along or in hindsight. Or people, they know what they want when you give it to them but not before then. So I’d just like to think, well okay, where I’m at right now, if I take responsibility back, if I pretend that the white knight’s just sort of tripped over a horse grid and it’s not coming anymore, what would happen then? What if the things I’m getting in my life are my responsibility? How would that change the way that I’m going to operate?
And that’s where I introduced the effective hourly rate, the EHR. And we do put that early on in the book and we use it as a guide. It’s just a filter, because we can track time. It’s a tool that we can use to start scoring different activities and to place a value on it. And that means we sort of circle back around to, OK, when you start to get an abundance of time, then there’s real value in that and you can do whatever you want with that.
And I’m not saying that everything you do must pay you. Certainly when I’m surfing, I’m not getting paid. I’m not quite at professional elite level yet and at some point…
John: Although, to be fair, if I challenge you to come up with a way to make money from your surfing you would do it in a weekend.
James: I actually have already done it, just quietly. A surfing website which we sell ads on and it’s a publishing model. And I have turned my trips to Tahiti and Fiji and Indonesia and so forth into photographic opportunities for our publishing business. And I’ve managed to wangle press passes to the surfing contests. So I have already done it. It’s just built in, I can’t help it.
At what point do you stop?
James: Yeah. And I’m constantly buying new stock to take pictures and review, which is great. But that aside, you know, it’s not going to make me a billionaire, the surfing side of my business, but I certainly enjoy it and that’s where we get to this point. I think of abundance of wealth the same as walking into an all-you-can-eat buffet. Like, after you’ve demolished a few plates full, how much more does eating help you versus hinder you?
“Abundance of wealth is like walking into an all-you-can-eat buffet. “
And that’s where I think some people start out with that, maybe the negative driver or the external motivation, and they get into that work ethic. But then maybe they forget to stop and reassess the situation. They’re like that hungry guy off the streets who finally gets into that buffet and they got the plate and fill it up and they’re just demolishing it. At what point do you stop and say, “Oh hang on, I’m actually satiated now, I’m full. I should stop just binge eating for the sake of eating. I’ve got to let go of the original motivation, the original desperation to get that food in my belly or AKA to make this money, and now I can start spending my time doing other things.”
And that was the big transition for me, was when you get to a point – and hopefully this is achievable especially after reading your book and my book – where you can actually bring in more into your life than what it costs you to live. Like if you have a surplus, then I think it’s time to reassess and to set some new filters or some new principles that guide your life.
So for me, surfing every day is a guiding principle. And for you, staring at the wall or pulling up a couch and reading a dusty book or strumming your guitar or cracking wise jokes on Facebook, you know, it’s something that you enjoy and that you have the ability to do, because you did some of that work in the beginning and then you obviously reassessed.
Planning and future vision
John: You know, I’m looking at your chapter 2 right now. You mentioned earlier in this podcast that you kind of took care of goal setting pretty quickly. I would disagree with that because a lot of what you’re talking about is planning and I think for you, it may have come a lot easier – the idea of planning things, the idea of looking into the future, you know, which is something most people don’t do at all.
And I think you’ve got a really good grasp of future vision and it’s a rare thing and it’s something that I think most people or maybe everyone can do. But you have to nurture it. Right now, it’s a flabby muscle, if it’s even there at all in most people. And you have a very good way of being able to look into the future and plan it. Because what freaks people out about planning is the idea of looking in the future, because a lot of the times when they do, it goes back to that thing, if you don’t change now then the next five years are going to be like the last five years. Well, the next five hours are going to be like the last five hours; the next five weeks, they’re going to be like the last five weeks.
And I think the idea of planning for me, when I talk about goals, I do talk about planning. I talk about that idea… I think a recurring January blog post that I keep reposting is called the January 25th letter, I think. And it’s a letter you write yourself a year from now where you say, here’s what I’ve done over the year. And so it operates as kind of pulling you towards your goals rather than pushing you, which I find, it’s a subtle difference but I find it very, very valuable for most people to be pulled towards their goals, to have that stuff in their head.
The spookiness of goal setting for me was, you know, I was going through my banker’s boxes stored in a storage unit a couple of years ago and I found a goal list that I had from like, 1985, I think. I hadn’t even met Jay Abraham, I hadn’t met Gary Halbert. My career was just kind of bumbling along the early stages. And I wrote down a bunch of goals, and I had crossed the whole page out and said, not going to happen, and put it somewhere and I happened to just stumble on it 30 years later and I had hit every single goal that I had. And a lot of those goals that I had that I thought I’d never hit were very modest. And yet, in a moment of frustration I just felt I’m never going to be able to get to this. And the problem I had was lack of planning. I was setting the goals, but setting up the plan and then implementing the plan was the harder part for me, because it involved me starting to look into the future and see what the consequences of my action today would be tomorrow.
I’d been operating paycheck to paycheck for so long. That’s how my life was compacted. I didn’t really think ahead very far and I think a lot of people have that. So you know I’m just looking at your Chapter 2, Planning and Goal Setting, which I think is really, really good.
But the planning for me is a huge part of the goal setting. And that’s what I like about the way you’ve really codified everything and it makes it very easy for someone who isn’t… You are actually secretly teaching them to do future vision, to be able to look into the future. I’m not sure how you did it, but I think this came more naturally to you than it did to a lot of other people. So I think this is going to be a very, very important chapter for most people as I see them in the marketplace, when I consult with entrepreneurs.
It started with this customer…
James: Well, I think with the benefit of your highlight there, I’m thinking, where did that start? And I know there was a specific moment. It was 1995, sometime ago. We had this new 5 Series model come into showroom on a preview. I think it was even a left-hand drive, on the wrong side of the car, like what you guys drive with.
John: Right side, the right side of the car. The left side is the right side of the car.
James: You know what I’m talking about. This guy came in and he looked at it and then he ordered one for himself, one for his wife and then another car and then something else, and he said, “You’re unbelievable.” He said, “You’re so good at this selling. I’ve never ordered five or six cars at once.” And he said, “I’ve got something for you. And he came back into the showroom with this cassette box. You remember cassettes? Those old little tapes?
John: Oh, yeah.
James: And on there was cassettes and one of them, there were several others but for this particular situation, there was a Maxwell Maltz Psycho-Cybernetics tape and he was talking about visualization and goal setting and exercises where athletes would mentally rehearse something and then do the exercise and they’d get statistical gains, that was proven.
John: By visualizing, yes. They could increase their free throw percentage just by visualizing, yeah.
James: I think he was sort of pondering why people would go through plastic surgery and then still be unhappy. So he figured it must be in the mind.
So I combined this and then about five or six years later when I was at Mercedes-Benz, we had a lot of push from top layer management on change management, it was called. And I read very thick textbooks about change and I’m sure at this point I made a commitment that there’s one thing I’m going to master in life and that’s change. And then I combined this, I stacked this with another idea that I learnt from Peter Drucker and he said, “Business is about marketing and innovation.”
“Business is about marketing and innovation.”
And if you look back through my last decade, you’ll see a constant theme of marketing and innovation and that’s kept me in front or at least up to pace with the market. That’s why over this long game, my business keeps getting stronger, because I accept change. I embrace change and for that to be true it means you cannot continue to do for the next five years what you did for the last five years. If everyone did that, you know, in five years from now after the Bitcoin bubbles burst or whatever, people would be back to McDonalds or whatever they did before they gave up everything else to be crazed by this mania.
Then I learnt about Charlie Munger and his mental models. So if you keep stacking these concepts, where we get to is this concept that you can actually, today, literally close your eyes and think about the different possible paths that you can go down in, you know, today or tomorrow and where you can start maneuvering to innovate, to instigate change rather than waiting for it to lob and you being reactive, you can actively instigate change. You can choose different paths mentally.
And then finally I got this one mentor at one point he gave me this Grand Central Station sort of metaphor, where we imagine we’re at Grand Central Station. We pick which line we want to go down, which train we want to catch and where it’s going to go and then we visually go along in that train and we imagine that we’re there. And then we work out, are we happy with there? Do we like it? Are we committed to that journey? Is this what we want to do?
In much the same way as if I come to visit you there in the lovely Reno, then I would, you know, I’d have to get my passport organized, get a plane ticket, commit to that 14-hour flight and then get a transport out into the desert or wherever and you know, I’d mentally commit to that before I embark on the journey and I would accept that journey and then I would just go about doing it.
So the big idea here is, if you haven’t already at some point in your life thought about the possible direction that it might go, you could actually do that exercise whenever you want. So I am constantly calculating multiple possible future versions of my life and then I’m sort of leaning towards the one that excites me the most.
A practical approach
John: But you’re doing it in a logical, practical way, because the steps that you outline, you know, it’s not like, what would it be like if I was really wealthy, you know, and then I can envision myself laying on the Cote d’Azur in France and soaking up sun with a French bombshell or, you know, starlet laying next to me? But that’s not practical. That’s dreaming. That’s how most people approach the future.
So I like the way you outline the practical ways of doing this. And I think you’ve been doing it so long that it’s really easy for you.
For me, your book was a reminder of both the pleasures of future thinking and practical ways of making sure you don’t drift off into, you know, wishful thinking. You know, in that dream where I’m lying on the beach with the French bombshell starlet, I’m also six-two and 29 years old. So you know, it’s like, you know, let’s just get real.
Learning from age
Right now, as I am aging, I’m getting older and Gary Halbert was 12 years older than me throughout our entire relationship of like 20 years. That never changed. That’s a math joke. But he took great joy in telling me what I had to look forward to 12 years down the line. And it was pretty funny because my business partner Stan Dahl is 12 years younger than I am and I am continuing the explanations of what he has to look forward to.
But my hobby right now is reading biographies and autobiographies of people who have entered even older age, like people in their 80s. Churchill was still rocking, I think, in his 80s. My father lived to be 96 and was sharp as a tack right up until the last few months.
And you know, there’s actually a movie out, I think on HBO or a documentary on old comics, I think it’s by Carl Reiner and it’s got Mel Brooks and guys like that who talk about still working, what’s keeping them going in life. And it’s interesting to notice these older people who are still vibrant, still contributing, still living a great life at a very elderly age, are still thinking about the future. And they think about the future a lot.
I think as they get more practical about it, as they’re old, they’re not going to see what’s going to happen in 20 years from now and they’re very calm about it. But they’re thinking about how their kids are going to experience it. What kind of world are they going to leave for their kids? What kind of world are they going to leave for their kids’ kids and on down the line. I find that is a very calming way to look at things.
For so many people we get caught up in the immediacy and the urgency of daily life. You know, the to do list I have to do right now. Register the car, make sure the landscaping gets taken care of, go buy new shoes because the dog chewed up one shoe. That kind of stuff can overwhelm you and can take up all your free time and your productive time.
Waiting for a better wave
So when you get away from that, when you start to really focus like you were talking about on what may come up, I’m still looking at Chapter 2 on planning and goal setting in your book and you’re talking about waiting for a better wave, you know? That in itself is a great little anecdote. Good surfers know that. I body surfed when I was younger. I never went up to the board, I preferred body surfing – it was very sensual to me and it was just, I was in the grip of the ocean and it was great. I really miss that part of living at the ocean, body surfing.
But you know, there’d be a few guys bobbing in the ocean and a wave would come up and somebody else would bob up higher and go, “No, outside,” meaning the next wave coming up was forming a little better and so you’d get through that first wave and go for the next one. But it’s just a nice little metaphor for you know, looking down the road.
I think for beginners, just looking down a week ahead or a month ahead or something can be a challenge. But get used to it, start thinking about it. What are the consequences of the actions you take today? How’s it going to play out and what will it mean? And again, my January blog post is all about looking a year ahead. And I urge people to have outrageous goals for a year ahead. Like you know, I’d made 25 million dollars and I wrote the best book that’s ever been critically accepted in the pantheon of English literature and all of this stuff.
Have outrageous goals. And if you only make half of them, if you only get pulled half way there or a third of the way there, it’s still going to be much, much farther than you would if you had no goal at all, if you weren’t thinking about where you were a year from now.
So I don’t know, it’s a very interesting thing. Humans, I think, still are the only ones who can really look into the future because we have that cerebral cortex, the new slab of brain, you know, on top of our sensual animal brain. And we’re still dealing with the idea of looking into the future, of being able to see possibilities. That’s what civilization is based on, the idea that what you do today will pay off tomorrow, or not pay off, or cause problems.
Anyway, this was a great talk, James. We got to do this more often.
James: Yeah, we really should. When I opened up Skype, it looked like we hadn’t spoken for about a year. But I know we take pot shots on Facebook in between, which is at least something. And I saw, obviously you’re letting Facebook do a little bit of your content creation for you, because you reposted a retro post from your actions seminar.
John: Uh huh.
James: And that was such a pivot point in my life, coming to San Diego. And I remember they lost my bag as well, that was fun. But that’s where I sat next to Bond Halbert.
James: And I met Kevin Rogers for the first time in the flesh, because I’d seen him on forums. And a whole bunch of other a-listers. I found my tag the other day when I was doing research for the book. I found my big dog tag.
John: I remember calling on you from the stage quite a bit. And we had one person with a mic who would run over to you because you insisted on sitting in the back of the room.
James: I remember doing a little presentation there and I got a bit choked up talking about the impact that you had with my son, introducing him to guitar, which so many years later he’s embraced and mastered and done something productive with.
So John Carlton is a pretty famous name around our household. It’s got some grand reverence and the personal connection and just the love that’s been shared and I’ve just got so much gratitude for how influential you’ve been in my life and you know looking back at our number one podcast, episode number one from 2009, like it just, when I hit record on that audio I knew that I should be recording audios and putting them on my website, but I hadn’t. I wasn’t even on iTunes at that point. I did that years later.
But I just wanted to say thank you for putting aside that time for a guy with a weird-spelt surname who you didn’t have to spend any time with and you have had a tremendous impact as you’ve had with so many others. So having you here on this podcast, talking about our books, gosh it was like 300 episodes ago or something, I was talking to you about how you go about putting out a Kindle and finally and through the help of my friend Kelly Exeter, I finally got the book out there. It’s just such a tremendous opportunity, so thank you.
And if we get some good feedback from this then we should do another podcast and if we get bad feedback from it we should definitely do another podcast anyway so we can improve. Either way it’s definitely on.
John: Yeah, thanks. Thanks for the kind words. I am genuinely humbled. You know, being an introvert, it’s hard for me to hear that, but I appreciate you saying that. You are now so influential in so many people’s lives that it is funny, interesting, and I think important for us to look back. We don’t have time to talk about it, but maybe we could talk about looking back.
Because I do spend a lot of time now looking back. My mentors now are gone. But everything that I did was still very, very vivid. And all the relationships I have… I remember the first conversation you and I had in that hotel in, I think we were in Melbourne – no, Sydney. Was it Sydney or Melbourne? I think it was Melbourne.
James: Melbourne. It was definitely Melbourne.
John: And everybody else went out to party, and you and I, I said, “Nah, let’s just talk copy,” and you recorded it, I think. I don’t know what you did with that but you had that cool little recorder.
James: Yeah, yeah. We went into your room. I set up my little recorder.
John: Yeah, a little recorder.
James: I think we had a little dinner in that dodgy little hotel room.
John: Yeah, yeah. And then we went up to my room to finish the interview, and it was, I knew you were something special back then.
Anyway, enough of this backslapping. It was great. Thanks for having me on again. I had forgotten I had been on the first one so that’s why, I hope that’s not like, like I’ve read novels where this is the beginning of something bad happening to me.
James: I’m sure it can only end well.
John: But no, listen we have to do another one, so that’s another chapter. So I’m guaranteed at least another chapter.
James: Well, You know, Dean Jackson and I have an annual podcast tradition and I think we’re up, I think we’ve done four of them or so. There’s one year between them but we’re chipping away. We think we’ve probably got another 25 episodes or so at least.
John: That is pretty funny.
You just made me think I got to call Dean now. It’s funny how small the world is even though it’s so big and vast.
Alright, good surfing to you, my friend. I know it’s the beginning of your day. It’s the middle of my day, so that was really fun. Really, really enjoyed this.
James: Thank you.
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