All Great Things Take Great Effort Ep 553



In this episode, the host shares insights on the extraordinary effort required to produce exceptional work, drawing from personal experiences and interactions with top YouTube creators. He emphasizes that the difference between good and great is often a matter of significant additional work, as demonstrated by YouTube creators who meticulously plan each video, investing time and resources to ensure quality matches their ambitious vision. Reflecting on his own endeavors, from pledging a fraternity to interning at a French law firm, and writing his book "100 Million Dollar Offers," he underscores the importance of redefining one's understanding of hard work and the long-term commitment to excellence. He also discusses the value of incremental improvements and the necessity of sustained effort over time to achieve remarkable outcomes, whether in media production, business, or personal growth. The host concludes by encouraging listeners to embrace the demanding journey towards greatness, as it not only leads to superior products but also personal development and fulfillment.

Summary Notes

Building Exceptional Products

  • Exceptional products require an extraordinary amount of work.
  • The speaker reflects on the continuous learning experience in their entrepreneurial career.
  • The effort needed to be good is substantial, but the effort to be the best is even more demanding.

"And building an exceptional product takes a level of work that most people are not accustomed to doing."

This quote emphasizes the high level of commitment and work ethic required to create products that stand out in the market. It sets the stage for understanding that exceptional quality is not easily achieved.

The Journey of Building a Business

  • The speaker expresses a desire to document the process of building a business.
  • is the speaker's project aimed at reaching a billion-dollar valuation.
  • The speaker wishes industry giants like Bezos, Musk, and Buffett had documented their journeys for others to learn from.

"I'm trying to build a billion dollar thing with I always wish Bezos, Musk, and Buffett had documented their journey. So I'm doing it for the rest of us."

This quote reveals the speaker's ambition and the purpose behind their actions. It also shows a commitment to transparency and sharing knowledge with the broader community.

Reflecting on Lessons and Failures

  • The speaker has a yearly ritual of reflecting on lessons and failures.
  • They discuss the importance of recognizing significant shifts in perspective.
  • The speaker shares their experience with a YouTube creators' meetup that led to a significant lesson on effort.

"So every year I always like to look back and think about my lessons and failures from the year or any kind of big frame shifts that's happened."

The quote highlights the importance of introspection and learning from past experiences, which is a key element in personal and professional growth.

The Effort Behind Successful YouTube Videos

  • The speaker attended a YouTube creators' meetup with individuals having millions of subscribers.
  • The creators' meticulous planning for videos was eye-opening for the speaker.
  • Successful YouTube creators put in an immense amount of effort into planning, scripting, and producing content.

"For every video they have a 20 to 30 page brief where they're talking about the scenes, the transitions, the cuts, and the first 5 seconds they're confirming the thumbnail, opening another loop, presupposing multiple ideas so that people have open visual cues that they want to confirm later."

This quote details the level of preparation and strategic planning that top YouTube creators invest in each video, demonstrating that success on the platform is no accident but the result of careful execution.

Recognizing the True Nature of Hard Work

  • The speaker recounts an experience as a fraternity president, dealing with pledge revolts.
  • They facilitated a frame shift for the pledges by redefining what 'hard' feels like.
  • This experience parallels the lesson learned at the YouTube meetup about the effort required for greatness.

"This is what hard feels like. And it's such a frame shift because a lot of times we are accustomed to what a certain level of hard is, and we've defined this level of struggle as hard."

The quote captures the essence of a pivotal moment where the speaker helps others understand that their perception of difficulty can be limiting, and that redefining this perception is crucial to overcoming challenges.

The Difference Between Good and Great

  • The speaker emphasizes that the difference between something good and something great is often the amount of work invested.
  • They highlight the misconception of luck in the success of viral videos.
  • The speaker contrasts their own video production efforts with those of top creators, acknowledging the disparity in output due to varying levels of work.

"The difference between a good thing and a great thing is often 20 times, 100 times the work."

This quote underscores the exponential increase in effort that is often necessary to elevate something from being merely good to truly great, reinforcing the theme of hard work and dedication.

Work Ethic in Different Contexts

  • The speaker shares an anecdote from their time as a legal intern in France.
  • A partner at the law firm pointed out the speaker's lack of understanding of what true work entails.
  • The conversation with the partner was a learning moment that broadened the speaker's perspective on work ethic.

"You're so young, you don't even know what work is. She's like you haven't learned to work yet."

The quote reflects a moment of realization for the speaker, as they are confronted with the idea that their understanding of work is still naïve, and there is much more to learn about dedication and effort.

Reframing Effort to Win

  • The importance of redefining the level of effort required to achieve success.
  • The speaker's personal experience in investing a significant amount of time in creating their book.
  • The distinction between a good book and a great book is in the effort and revisions made.
  • The speaker's goal for the book to become a timeless reference in its field.
  • The speaker's belief in the idea that quality content markets itself, reducing the need for active promotion.

"But the point is that she reframed what level of effort was required to win."

This quote emphasizes the importance of reevaluating the amount of work needed to achieve a high level of success.

"So together two people spent 3500 hours working on one piece of content that we're basically going to give away for free."

The quote highlights the significant investment of time (3500 hours) made by the speaker and their editor on a single project, which they plan to distribute freely.

"The main thing was the difference between my first draft and my 9th draft and my 19th draft of getting this book is what I think is the difference between a good book and a great book."

The speaker believes that the extensive revision process, from the first to the 19th draft, is what elevates the quality of a book from good to great.

"I wanted this book to become canon."

The speaker aspires for their book to be recognized as a classic in the fields of advertising, marketing, and business for decades to come.

Law of Diminishing Returns vs. Exponential Returns

  • Explains the law of diminishing returns where each additional unit of effort yields less return.
  • Introduces the counter law of exponential returns where high skill levels can lead to disproportionate rewards.
  • The speaker draws a parallel between the effort in writing a book and the marginal gains of Olympic athletes.

"Because there's a law of diminishing returns, meaning your incremental unit of effort only gets you an incremental return."

This quote explains the concept of diminishing returns, where additional effort yields progressively smaller increases in output or success.

"You get exponential returns, the better you are."

The speaker introduces the idea that exceptional skill can lead to exponentially greater rewards, contrasting with the law of diminishing returns.

"What's the difference between being gold and silver in terms of life? Everything."

The speaker uses the example of Olympic athletes to illustrate how a small difference in performance can have a significant impact on recognition and success.

The Value of Long-term Commitment

  • The speaker reflects on the advantage of age and experience in understanding the effort required for high-quality work.
  • The realization that significant achievements often require years of dedicated effort.
  • The speaker's personal commitment to quality and the fear that their own standards may continually rise.
  • The importance of setting long-term goals over immediate success.

"And so when you're 30, you can have spent a decade building one thing, but you can't really have done that when you're 20."

This quote acknowledges the advantage of age in having the time to dedicate many years to a single project, which is not possible for younger individuals.

"The reason why some of the biggest business tycoons talk about people underestimating what you can do in a year, and overestimating what they can do in a decade."

The speaker notes that people often have a skewed perception of what can be achieved in short versus long time frames, with true accomplishments often taking much longer than expected.

Encouraging Audience Engagement

  • The speaker does not run ads or sell products, relying instead on audience support to spread their message.
  • The call to action for listeners is to help by rating, reviewing, and sharing the podcast.
  • The speaker values the impact their work could have on others more than personal gain.

"The single thing that I ask you to do is you can just leave a review."

The speaker requests a simple action from the audience that could have significant implications for the reach and impact of their work.

Perspective on Achievements and Incremental Goals

  • The speaker's approach to setting incremental goals over time, such as a five-year plan.
  • The recognition that understanding the "price tag" in terms of effort for achievements makes goals more attainable.
  • The speaker's experience with setting a long-term subscriber goal for their YouTube channel and the unusual perspective it represented.

"Because it's like, oh, I can now count. Because at least my mindset has shifted enough that I can count in five-year increments."

This quote reflects the speaker's mindset shift to thinking in longer increments of time, which helps in setting and achieving larger goals.

"I was like, it won't really matter if I hit a million. I was like, but I feel like if in a decade I don't have a million, then the marketplace will have told me that the videos aren't that valuable."

The speaker shares their long-term vision for their YouTube channel, emphasizing the importance of value over hitting specific subscriber milestones.

Long-Term Vision and Success

  • Long-term goals require significant time investment and effort.
  • Wealthy individuals often think in longer time horizons, suggesting the necessity of time to build something substantial.
  • Warren Buffett's quote emphasizes the importance of time in achieving goals.
  • The speaker was inspired by the realization that there is always room for improvement.

"But one of the things that's been the gift of working with people who are significantly wealthier than me now, who have the b next to their name, is that all of them talk about significantly longer time horizons." This quote highlights the speaker's observation that wealthy individuals plan with longer time frames in mind, which contributes to their success.

"And one of my favorite quotes from Warren Buffett is you can't sleep with nine women in a month and expect to have a baby. Like, it takes nine months to make a baby, no matter how many women you impregnate." This quote from Warren Buffett is used to illustrate the concept that certain things cannot be rushed and require a set amount of time to achieve.

Effort as a Competitive Moat

  • The willingness to put in the work can be a competitive advantage.
  • Effort and dedication can set one apart from competitors who are not as willing to commit.
  • The speaker sees the potential for improvement as an opportunity rather than a deficiency.

"And so in a lot of ways, you can see the work that you're willing to do to make something great as the competitive moat that other people won't be willing to cross." This quote suggests that the hard work one is willing to put into their endeavors acts as a barrier to entry for competitors, serving as a protective moat for their business.

Focusing on Core Strengths

  • Concentrating efforts on the most critical aspects can lead to significant success.
  • The speaker uses a sales recruiting company as an example to illustrate the importance of quality and focus.
  • Rushing can lead to a decrease in quality and ultimately make a business indistinguishable from competitors.

"Okay, well, then, if only one thing had to be true, and then if that one thing were true, everything else worked, why would you not focus all of your effort on that?" This quote emphasizes the importance of identifying and focusing on the most critical element that will ensure success in a business venture.

The Consequences of Rushing and Quality Dilution

  • Rushing to expand can diminish the quality of a service or product.
  • Initial success can lead to complacency and a decline in standards.
  • A decrease in quality eventually leads to a business losing its distinctiveness and competitive edge.

"Eventually you sell too many people too quickly, your quality drops precipitously, and then eventually you're the exact same as everyone else." This quote warns of the dangers of scaling too quickly without maintaining the quality that initially set the business apart from competitors.

Problem-Solving as a Value Proposition

  • The speaker encourages viewing problems as opportunities with financial rewards.
  • Solving significant problems can lead to substantial increases in enterprise value.
  • The mindset of addressing challenges with the reward in mind can be motivating.

"Because I like to think of problems as puzzles with a price tag, which is okay, like, I'll talk to our portfolio company and say, hey, I think this is what we need to do to get our enterprise value from 20 million to 100 million." This quote illustrates the speaker's approach to problem-solving as a means to add value to a business, framing challenges as puzzles that, when solved, can lead to financial gains.

Building a Premium Brand Through Quality

  • Quality control allows for increased demand and the ability to charge premium prices.
  • Premium branding requires actual premium quality, not just marketing.
  • The marketplace determines a brand's reputation based on the actual quality of the product.

"Because if you only have so much quality, people will always pay for quality." This quote asserts that when a business focuses on quality, it can command higher prices due to increased demand from consumers who value quality.

"The product is ultimately going to be the thing that creates the reputation." This quote emphasizes that a company's reputation is ultimately determined by the quality of its products, not just by how it positions itself in the market.

The Work Required to Be the Best

  • Being the best in any field requires an immense amount of work.
  • The speaker reflects on the effort difference between having 1 million and 20 million subscribers.
  • The work necessary to achieve high quality must precede the desired outcome and cannot be shortcut.

"And the difference between the guys who have 20 million subs and 1 million was an ocean." This quote highlights the vast difference in effort required to reach the top levels of success compared to more moderate achievements.

The Importance of Persistence and Character

  • Success requires confronting and pushing through challenging work.
  • Character traits that embrace hard work are essential for achieving exceptional success.
  • The speaker believes that the willingness to work hard is what separates the most successful from the rest.

"It is the character trait of being able to confront and push through the work that will ultimately unlock the level of success that other people only wish they had." This quote emphasizes the importance of character and perseverance in achieving a level of success that others only aspire to.

Expertise and Awareness of Limitations

  • Expertise leads to an increased awareness of one's own limitations.
  • This awareness is central to the Dunning-Kruger effect, where more knowledgeable individuals recognize their deficiencies more readily.
  • A perceived simplicity in tasks may indicate a lack of depth in understanding.
  • True expertise involves recognizing the multitude of areas for improvement and incremental gains.

"And so the better you are, the more areas of opportunity you see where you can improve. And so the more deficiencies you realize you have."

This quote highlights the correlation between expertise and self-awareness of deficiencies, suggesting that a true expert is always looking for areas to improve.

Incremental Improvement and Success

  • Success is often the result of many small, incremental improvements rather than one major breakthrough.
  • The story of the UK bike coach exemplifies the power of cumulative marginal gains.
  • Consistent, small improvements across various aspects can lead to significant overall enhancement and eventual dominance in a field.
  • The process of achieving excellence is time-consuming and involves addressing a multitude of small details.

"It has hundreds of golden bbs. It has many tiny, incremental 1%, 2% returns that when added together, become exceptional."

This quote encapsulates the concept that success is often built on numerous small improvements rather than a single, revolutionary change.

Defining Completion of Work

  • Determining when work is complete can be challenging.
  • Work is considered complete when additional effort detracts from its quality or when effort could be more effectively applied elsewhere.
  • The concept of completion evolves with time and skill; past work may seem inadequate with gained experience.
  • The focus should shift from improving specific aspects to broader goals when the return on investment diminishes.

"For me, I define when the work is done, when one of two things happen. One is that any additional effort makes it worse...The second way that I know that it's good enough is actually from a macro perspective, which is if my work...yields me less than me taking that same level of effort, putting to something else that ultimately achieves this goal."

This quote defines two critical criteria for considering work as complete: when further effort reduces quality and when the effort could yield greater returns if applied to a different goal.

Personal Growth Through Work

  • The process of working on projects is intrinsically linked to personal development.
  • The quality of one's work is a reflection of their skill level and experience.
  • Continuous improvement in one's abilities leads to better outputs over time.
  • Choosing projects with broader appeal can be part of personal development as a creator.
  • Identifying oneself with the process of improvement, rather than with the finished product, allows for ongoing growth and satisfaction.

"I worked on becoming a better writer. The output of that work was a book, and I will continue to work on becoming a better writer because I'm not done."

This quote emphasizes the importance of focusing on self-improvement and seeing completed projects as byproducts of personal growth.

Project Evolution and Audience Reach

  • The evolution of a writer's work can be seen through the scope and appeal of their projects.
  • Earlier works may be more niche, while later works may target a broader audience.
  • Expanding the audience reach is part of the journey of becoming a more effective communicator.
  • The quality and impact of one's work are not static but grow with the creator's skills and experience.

"I think the next book I write will be palatable to even wider audience because it'll be about sales and influence."

This quote shows the speaker's intention to create work with a wider impact, acknowledging that the journey includes writing about more universally applicable topics.

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