YAPClassic: Jeff Haden on The Motivation Myth, A No-BS Approach to Getting Motivated and Reaching Your Goals

YAPClassic: Jeff Haden on The Motivation Myth, A No-BS Approach to Getting Motivated and Reaching Your Goals

YAPClassic: Jeff Haden on The Motivation Myth, A No-BS Approach to Getting Motivated and Reaching Your Goals

Jeff Haden worked for the same manufacturing company for 17 years with the goal of becoming a plant manager. When he finally got the opportunity to land his dream job, he realized that he no longer wanted it; instead, he wanted to become a writer. Despite having no professional writing experience, he started working odd jobs, like ghostwriting press releases and articles for Inc. Now, he has ghostwritten over 70 non-fiction books, including two NYT top tens and nine Amazon category #1s. How did he stay motivated to learn a new skill later in life? In this episode of YAPClassic, Jeff will reveal how he became a highly sought-after ghostwriter for some of the most recognizable CEOs and business leaders. We’ll also hear his advice on how to motivate ourselves, master new skills, and what to cut out of our lives in order to stay focused on our goals, including why he recommends we fire a friend.

Jeff Haden is a speaker, ghostwriter, and author of The Motivation Myth. He is also a frequent, and the most popular, contributor to Inc. magazine and a major LinkedIn Influencer, having amassed over 1 million followers. Jeff is a keynote speaker and the founder of Blackbird Media.


In this episode, Hala and Jeff will discuss:

– How to stand out when changing career paths

– The kinds of goals you should be setting when learning a new skill

– Why you should celebrate the small wins

– How effort creates motivation

– How the most successful people stay motivated

– How to take advantage of “me-time”

– What activities and expenses to cut out of your life

– Why you should fire a friend

– And other topics…


Jeff Haden is a speaker, ghostwriter, and author of The Motivation Myth. He is also a frequent, and the most popular, contributor to Inc. magazine. In 2021, his online articles for Inc. alone attracted more than 30 million readers. He is a major LinkedIn Influencer, having amassed over 1 million followers.


Jeff is also the ghostwriter of over 70 non-fiction books, including two NYT top tens and nine Amazon category #1s, and thousands of columns, articles, presentations, speeches, and eulogies…the total is something just shy of twelve million published words. Jeff is a keynote speaker and the founder of Blackbird Media.


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Resources Mentioned:

Jeff’s Book, The Motivation Myth: https://jeffhaden.net/get-the-book

Jeff’s Website: https://jeffhaden.net/


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[00:00:00] Hala Taha: Hi Jeff, welcome to Young and Profiting Podcast. 

[00:00:02] Jeff Haden: Oh, thanks for having me Hala.

[00:00:03] Hala Taha: I am super excited to have you on today. So you are a contributor to Ink Magazine. You've also ghost written over 50 books, and you're an author yourself of, uh, one of your recent books is called The Motivation Myth. It's quite popular, so we'll go into that later.

But before we do that, I love to get insight about people's career journeys. So from my understanding, you had lots of little jobs and you always worked really hard in these little jobs As you were starting out in your career. Walk us through your career journey. Talk to us about the different jobs that you had and how that ultimately helped shape your career as a writer.

[00:00:35] Jeff Haden: Um, so stop me if I go way too long. So I worked on my way through college and I did it at a manufacturing plant, and I really enjoyed manufacturing. I, I liked that. So when I was graduating, I interviewed for lots of jobs and they were all with like 40 year old men in cubicles. That's what, what the job was gonna be.

And of course I was 22. And so the idea of that. Seemed like death, and I liked manufacturing. And so the plant manager where I had worked said, there's a new factory opening up in this town. It's a Fortune 500 company. It actually turns out they were the largest commercial printers in the world. And so if you like manufacturing, but see a career path that takes you into management and leadership and beyond, this would be a great place to go because you can ground floor at the facility and work your way up.

So I thought, well, that sounds awesome. So I went and did that, and I was the stereotypical college boy on the shop floor, which was both good and bad because one, people didn't think that I would work hard because I was the college boy. So I got to surprise them with that. But then it also, you know, the fact that I had some education and had some, some ideas of what I wanted to do beyond just being, you know, a machine operator or something like that, that was also advantageous too.

So, The cool thing about it, the company is R O'Donnelly, and while they nec, not necessarily would pay you more every time you got promoted, which is an interesting thing, they would allow you to basically learn anything that you wanted to learn and if you wanted to get involved in other stuff, then there were opportunities to do so.

So it was a great place to learn all sorts of stuff, and as I worked my way up the ladder, I had lots of informal leadership positions. I worked in HR for a while. I worked in customer service for a while. I worked in other manufacturing departments. I went and helped start up a plant. I went to another plant where they were hoping to get the union de-certified, and we were successful there.

I worked on cross plant projects, so I got exposed to this really broad range of things that I probably never would have, even if I had changed jobs six or eight times. So I worked at the same place for. 17 years. And, but yet it was as if I worked at a whole bunch of different places because of the experiences that I got to have.

So to put a cap on that, my goal from the very beginning was that I'd always wanted to run a plant. You know, I wanted to be the plant manager. And so the only way that that was gonna happen at Donnelley was at the time you had to go off and work in sales for a while and they, they almost had this little list of things that you had to check off.

And I really didn't want to do that. And so an opportunity to go to a smaller plant for another, it was actually a VC firm that had bought the company and try to turn it around. So the, the goal was either to say, can we turn it around or do we just prepare it to sell and hopefully for a profit. So I went there and did that for three years.

And what I learned was that my dream of being a plant manager didn't turn out to be what I wanted to spend the next 20 years doing. Which, you know that that does happen, and we'll get back to that in a second because people get hung up on the idea that if they've embarked on a career path to a certain point, that there's all that time and effort and energy and quote unquote investment that they've put into it, and therefore they can't get off that train.

And I disagree with that completely, and we'll talk about that later. I'm sure. So I was at home. My wife would say, well, I would say that I was just discussing the fact that I wanted to do something different professionally. My wife would say that I was whining about it, which is probably more closer to the truth.

And so one day she said, what is it you would want to do if you didn't do this? And I, I don't know why, but I said I, I'd like to be a writer. I think now I never, I didn't have no journalism background, no writing background. The only thing I'd ever written was things that I wrote for work, but I liked it.

And so she said, what does that look like? And I said, like most people that have a dream, but no real path, I don't know. I don't even know how to get started. So three more months of me complaining and whining and wishing I could do something else. And she came home and said, I got you your first writing job.

You're gonna write a press release for a startup. And I was like, Wait, what? You know, because that seemed bizarre. But she had met a guy who had a, a tech company. He was starting up and he wanted a press release and she said, well, my husband can do that for you. Um, so it turned out to be the worst paying job I've ever had in terms of hourly rate because it took me forever.

I'd never written a press release, didn't know anything about it, you know, struggled and finally kind of copied formats that I'd seen in other places that I thought worked and, you know, threw quotes into the right place and all that other stuff turned it into him and I. It's odd because I kind of hated it because I was so unfamiliar.

I, this also happens to people, you know, you reach a certain point in your path where you have this level of competence and it feels comfortable to you. And so when you dive out into something that's completely new and you've never done before, suddenly it feels really awful because you're used to being incompetent and now you're not.

And it takes that learning to be uncomfortable. It's a great phrase to use. It's a terrible one to live at the beginning, and so I hated it. But I kind of liked it. And then he liked what I'd done and he hired me to do a couple other things. And so I thought, well, this is kind of fun. Now keep in mind, I'm still working.

I'm still running a plant. This is just nights and weekend stuff. And so then one day she came home and she said, you know, you've been looking for other work. So I signed you up on, at the time it was called E-Lance. Now I think it's called Upwork, but it's one of those sites where, people that wanna provide services link up with people that need services.

And so she'd signed me up there and created a profile for me and bid on some jobs. And she got me a couple writing jobs. And again, I was like, uh, I don't, how do I do this? But I just kind of, you know, knuckled down and sort of figured it out and got better at it. And so the beauty of that whole approach of trying something new and being uncomfortable and not really having a really good plan is that the only thing I could figure out to do was, so if I need to write this for you, for example, then my job is to please you as a customer.

That's the only thing I knew that I could do. So I wasn't worried about expressing some inner creative itch or you know, any of that other stuff. All I knew was that I wanted you to be happy because I was going to feel terrible about myself if you were not. And so that gave me this customer focused attitude that carried with me the rest of the way.

And so as I got more successful and had written for more people and was writing my own things and stuff, you know, people will ask me, how do I get started at writing? You know, I really wanna write, I really wanna make a living. And I will tell them, well, you have to write at first for other people and you just have to take work that pays and stuff.

And they think. And they will say, yeah, but I don't really wanna do that. I wanna write things that I enjoy and I wanna write things that are fulfilling or whatever. And I always say, well you know, unless you're Stephen King, nobody's gonna pay you. So, you know, you have to build to a place where you can express some of those things because you have an audience and a platform and some level of success, but you can't do it right away because nobody cares.

And that attitude actually held me back in a weird way for a long time because I, I started writing for Inc. That was also because of my wife. Because the problem with ghost writing is that, you know, it's all confidential. And so you can't market yourself very well because you can't say who you've written for or what you've written.

So all you can kind of do is hold up your hands and say, I promise I'll try hard and I'll do a good job. And she said, well, you need some stuff in your own name. And so I thought nobody wants to read anything by me because I had written some things that they'd hit bestseller lists, they'd topped bestseller lists, but they weren't me.

And you know, I wrote them, but they weren't in my name. So I had no connection to anyone. And she said, yeah, but that's kind of what you have to do. And if, if you get some things out there that people enjoy and they see you're a ghost writer, well then that's a way that you can market yourself because at least they'll say, Ooh, I really liked this.

Oh, and he's a ghost writer. this may be someone that I wanna talk to. And of course, as with all the other advice that she's ever given me, it turned out to be correct. Um, and so, you know, it turned out that basically, inc. Paid me and pays me for the content that I produce. But it also is marketing and advertising material, if you want to think about it that way.

Um, because people see that. And so, but that idea that no one wanted to read anything by me did hold me back for a while. And so I finally, I had been pitched by a number of agents about, you should do a book, you've got a platform, you should do a book, you should do a book. And I kept saying, nobody wants to read mine.

You know, they wanna read it by whoever I've written for. And so I finally, one agent was really nice and kind of pitched me in a very down to earth, like not cheesy, canned, stuffy way. And I thought, well, let's, let's just see. 

 I wanna unpack some of this because you mentioned your wife several times, and for me, some of the biggest excuses that I hear, especially for somebody like you, you were in a place for almost 20 years working your way up. They always say to me, I, I feel too old to start something new.

[00:09:32] Hala Taha: Like you said before, they've put in the investment, they feel like they can't transition. I hear this all the time. It sounded like you had somebody in your corner who was pushing you. So what were you going through internally? Why weren't you pushing yourself? And then what's the importance of having somebody who might advocate for you and believe in you because it sounds like your wife really was that trigger for you.

[00:09:54] Jeff Haden: Um, part of it was comfort, you know, because I, I was good at what I did. I didn't love it, but I was good at it, and those two do not always line up. So I was good at it. I had a really good job. So the idea of saying, okay, I'm gonna go back and start at zero, that's not very much fun either. I balanced that out by just working really hard nights and weekends for a long time until I felt like, okay, I haven't replaced the income that I make, but I see a path and I see how I can get there, and I feel solid about it.

And I always tell people that too. If you're not willing to devote. Nights and weekends to whatever it is you think you want to start, then you don't really wanna start it. And so don't even try. So that was part of it. And then I was a, I was a little bit afraid. I'm, I'm old enough that I'm probably the last vestiges of that generation that still thought that the way to success was to get a job at a big company, work your way up, and that the company will take care of you and you will take care of them.

And so the idea of being an entrepreneur, Was a little bit scary and it was what other people did, not people like me. Um, so that was part of it too, as far as my wife encouraging me and, and kind of nudging. She knew me well enough to knew that all I needed to do was get started and that I would figure it out.

Um, but there's also research that shows that who your significant other is makes a dramatic impact on like your career potential and your earnings and things like that. And it isn't, you don't have to be around geniuses, although my wife is incredibly smart, but I. They call it partner conscientiousness.

So if your partner is, you know, organized and focused and goal-oriented and takes care of business and things that, even if you're a, a sloth, which I'm not, but more so than her, although everyone is compared to her, then y it rubs off and it is helpful to you. The real support was, she said, look, when we finally got to that financial part where I said, I think I see a path, she said, Do it for a year, give it everything you've got.

If at the end of that year you go, you know what, either this isn't working for me in terms of what I like to do, or, you know, I don't really see a financial path here that makes as much sense as I thought it did. Well, you can always go back. You can always go and do so. I may not have got, I wouldn't have gotten a job at that same place.

But I had skills that were on offer. And then the, the biggest thing that I also had to get over and now I realize is a total myth, is the idea that I was turning, I was closing a door on skills and experiences and abilities that I had wasted and lost. But actually my biggest strength as a ghost writer, as I got to where I was writing more management, leadership, business stuff, well I was the audience.

I knew the audience cuz I was the audience. And when I talked to people about what they wanted, they didn't have to teach me about any of that cuz I already had lived it and known it. We just had to talk about what was maybe unique to them or different to them or something. Some little tweak. So, It was kind of cool because I wasn't a writer who had to learn about some business thing in order to write about it.

I was really a business person who just had to write about it, and so it became a major competitive advantage for me because I had done all that. And so just in a broader sense, if you've done one thing for six, 10 years, however long it is, and you want to do something different, it may seem like it's really, really different and none of those experiences will carry over.

It turns out that you bring a ton of stuff with you that you don't realize until you get there. And so all those experiences and skills, You find a way to weave them over and they actually will distinguish you from the people who just followed that one path because they didn't have any of those things and they don't have a way to get them.

So they only have what that path is. You can learn that path, but you brought all that other stuff with you as well. So it's actually an opportunity for you to separate yourself and distinguish yourself if you choose to take a little bit of a different path. 

[00:14:05] Hala Taha: Yeah. We always talk about skill stacking. It is so important to get all these different experiences and to try new things and to figure out what you like, what you don't like, what you're good at, what you're not good at.

And to that point, let's talk about motivation a bit, because you mentioned when you started writing, you weren't very good at it and it was kind of discouraging and it wasn't until you felt like you were getting good feedback that you actually started to enjoy it and get better and better at it.

So talk to us about how you can actually create motivation by starting and being consistent at something. 

[00:14:38] Jeff Haden: Probably the biggest gap or the, the biggest hurdle that people have to cross when you wanna start something new is you are starting at a place of no experience, no expertise. You're kind of at the zero spot in most cases.

And so if you look ahead to where you want to go, that bridge that you have to cross is incredibly daunting because it's like, okay, I'm, I'm just this, how am I going to get all the way over there? And so if you're constantly focused on that end place, then even little successes that you make early on, which you tend to do because you're new, so you learn quickly and you gain some skill fairly fast.

They're meaningless to you because compared to what you think you want to be someday? Well, it's nothing. And so the biggest thing for me is, you know, cuz I, I struggled with the first few things I wrote, but then I, I thought, and I would think to myself, how am I ever going to be able to do this? Because it takes me way too long.

I'm creating decent things, but gosh, it takes forever and there's no way for me to make this work. And then I thought, well, Okay, but I, I can't sit down and, and think, okay, I'm gonna be Malcolm Gladwell tomorrow, or something like that. But what I can do is just work really hard on whatever is in front of me.

So I switched over and just said, my goal every time I do something is all right. I have this to do. I need to do it as well as I can. I need to finish it. I need to get good feedback from it, which means I, I did a good job cuz by whether I thought I did a good job, didn't really matter. It's what the client thought.

And that's all I can do right now, but that's enough. And so if I stack enough of those experiences up, then the experience kind of comes. And so by keeping a short time horizon in terms of my, like inner feedback loop, then if I worked on a project one night and it was a short one and I got it done. That felt really good because I set out to do what I wanted to do.

I completed a task, it went well. That was enough to get me to the next one. And so I just fell into this place of, all I need is enough motivation to get to the next one. And if I get to the next one and I get to the next one, then suddenly you can look back and go, wow, I'm starting to come a long way cuz I'm, you know, you pop your head up every once in a while and sort of look at where you're and go, wow, that is really cool.

And then you need to put your head right back down again and just focused on next and next and next. And so, and then the other part of it is that, I'm not particularly smart. I have a college degree, but I'm not particularly educated. I don't have anything. There's nothing. I'm decidedly average. let's just say that.

So I don't have anything. You don't. That's true, but, okay. Well, I don't have anything special going for me except for the fact that I realize that if I put in enough effort, there are a lot of things I can do. And so I'm very much a effort kind of a person, and so that actually works really well because I don't think you get motivation from like this.

I'm sitting around one day and suddenly I have the lightning bolt that says I want to be a, you know, a famous writer or some, whatever it is you want to be. That doesn't work. All you really need is to say, I'm interested in writing.

Let me get started in some fashion and through effort, if you work hard at it, you improve. Cuz we always get better at things. We work hard at. It is a natural thing. It's, just like taxes. It's a law of the universe. And whenever you get a little better, that feels good. And so effort equals a little bit of achievement, which feels good.

Which creates motivation for you to take a little more effort, which means you'll improve a little more, which feels good. And so there's this really cool, virtuous cycle of effort, achievement, fulfillment, happiness, motivation that you can spend forever and ever and ever. If you focus on doing it that way.

If all you care about is this big end result, It's demoralizing and defeating, and you have to rely on willpower alone. And none of us have enough willpower to do that. But if you just get that cycle started, there it is. So to me, motivation doesn't come first. Effort comes first. 

[00:18:44] Hala Taha: I love that. So let me pause you right there, because I wanna make sure that my listeners really understand this.

So what Jeff is saying is that you don't wanna focus on some big goal because you'll keep comparing yourself to that goal. You're gonna think about where you are now, how far away that goal is. You're gonna feel bad, and you don't wanna feel bad. If you wanna be motivated, you wanna feel good. So you wanna feel on these small wins.

So how can we better focus on these small wins? Is there a trick that we need to do? Is it something we need to reflect on every day? How do we make sure that we're constantly looking at these small goals and making sure that we're making progress toward our bigger goal? 

[00:19:21] Jeff Haden: So process really is everything with anything that you want to do.

So you do need a big goal, but your goal, your big goal is just there to help you design the process that you would use in order to get there. So Say you wanna run a marathon and you've never run before. So running the marathon is your big goal, but as you said, if that's all you focus on is being able to run 26 miles and you can only run one, you're gonna quit because it's too far and you feel bad after that one mile, you're never gonna get there.

So running a marathon though, you can back it up and say, okay, what are the steps and stages that I'm going to have to go through in order to build up the endurance and stamina and speed and all that other stuff that will allow me to get there? And there are plenty of people in the world who can lay that program out for you so you know what to do.

So the goal informs the process. Then you just say, okay, I've got a, whatever it is, six month plan. What's tomorrow? Tomorrow is I'm gonna go run a mile and a half. Cool. When you run the mile and a half, you can check it off. You get to feel good about yourself because you did what you set out to do that day, which if you think about at the end of the day, the days you feel best about yourself, or when you got done the things that you said you wanted to do, where you feel bad is when you didn't.

So you get to feel good about it. You checked it off. You had a successful day. That will give you enough motivation to tomorrow go, okay, what's tomorrow? Whatever it is, that's all you have to do. You just have to do whatever it is that you have to do today. And if you focus on that, you get to be successful every day.

You get to feel good about yourself every day, and you will stack up enough of those days that every once in a while you will pop your head up and say, wow, I just did a 10 mile run. Who thought I could do that? But before you get too excited and go, oh, what about the 26? You gotta put your head back down cuz you're not.

You're not there yet. And then you say, cool, I can rent 10 miles. That's awesome. What's tomorrow? Tomorrow may only be a three mile run because that's part of your process of recovery and whatever else it may be. Whatever it is, if you're doing what you set out to do that day, and if that process is designed so that it will basically guarantee that if you put in the effort, you will succeed.

You're good to go. So the goal informs the process and then all you worry about is, am I doing what I need to do each step of the way? You didn't start a side hustle and end up with 35 people working for you by one day, just saying, you know, that's what I want to do. You knew you wanted to create a marketing agency and a pod.

You knew what you wanted to do, but you broke it down into, okay, but what can I do right now and what do I, what am I doing each day to get there? And then all of those winds stacked up on themselves and probably made it a little bit easier for you to keep working that hard. Because you saw a path to where you were going to go.

[00:22:14] Hala Taha: Mm-hmm. And I think something that's key here is that a lot of people think that motivation is external, but really motivation is just a feeling, right? It's an internal feeling. It's dopamine rushing to your brain where you just feel really happy about what you completed and it makes you wanna do more.

So let's talk about your new book, motivation Myth, because it's a really interesting book. I have a lot of things that I wanna talk about in it. So let's start with the conventional approach to motivation. What do all these like gurus always say in terms of how people should gain motivation and why is your approach different?

[00:22:48] Jeff Haden: One of them would be that, like you said about internal versus external, there's the whole idea that you need to find people around you that can keep you motivated. And you know, you need a mentor to keep you motivated. And I've never. I don't know anyone who's done really hard things that has done so just because they had someone else constantly encouraging and pushing them.

I don't feel like that works from the outside if it doesn't mean anything to you, and if you can't find it in yourself, there's nobody that's going to get you there. So that would be the first one. I think it's great to rely on other people for advice, for tips, for strategies, for techniques. It's also great to rely on other people if you want them to be accountability buddies, but not in terms of did I reach my ultimate goal?

But in terms of, hey, every Sunday we're gonna talk and you're gonna check in and make sure that I did the seven things this week I said I was going to do. So your accountability buddy should be process not ultimate goal. Cuz you can fluff, you can fluff the ultimate goal. Um, so that's one. The other is the, which I referenced earlier, which is the whole, you know, lightning bolt theory of motivation where one day you just wake up and it's like, oh my gosh, you know, I wanna be a world, I wanna be a, I wanna be, you know, Serena Williams and win Wimbledon and be the best tennis player in the world.

 that feeling may hit you. But that feeling isn't going to carry you through all the time and effort and struggle and, and failure and challenges and all of that other stuff. So, and I don't know anyone who's had that lightning bolt. Every really successful person that I've talked to just had an interest in something, said, Hey, I would like to learn how to do that.

I would like to get better at that. And that really was their focus is can I improve at this? Eventually they had bigger goals, but that idea of just constant improvement, that's what really took them there. And that's what keeps you there because once you achieve something, if all you cared about was achieving it and you achieve it, Well, what's left there is no fulfillment left.

Uh, The Metallica guitarist, Kirk Hammond, they've, they've been around for 40 some years and I asked him one time, I said, you know, there's so many people that reach your level and they've burnt out and they don't enjoy it. And he said, you know, my whole goal all along was I wanted to be good enough that I could play music with my friends and they would want to play with me.

 and he said, and so I'm still in that spot cuz these are the people I wanna play music with. And I need to be good enough that they will want to play music with me. And so all the other stuff that comes with it, you know, being a rock star in the money and all that, that's a byproduct.

And he doesn't downplay that. But that's a byproduct of the fact that this was really what my goal was. And that's an internal goal, not an external goal. So the, the idea that you'll get the lightning bolt. That doesn't work at all. 

[00:25:29] Hala Taha: Mm-hmm. I'd love to hear more stories about that, cuz I know that you've talked to huge athletes like Venus Williams and Lance Armstrong.

How did they get their motivation to become, you know, the superstar athletes that they are? 

[00:25:41] Jeff Haden: Venus is a really good example of what we talked about earlier, like skill stacking or like I said, being an and because as they were growing up, there's this idea that she and Serena, you know, that their father basically manufactured tennis champions out of them.

And while he was their coach and, and did push and did work with them, she says even when they were like 10 years old, they weren't allowed to just be tennis players. So they would be riding to a tournament in the car, listening to tapes about, you know, how to buy foreclosure homes and make money. And she said, you know, we hated that stuff.

But it was his way of saying, There's more to life. There's more that you need to be doing. And so, like Venus, you know, she owns a clothing company. She owns an architectural design firm. She's got a couple different master's degrees. She does a, a variety of things. And you know, I, I think it makes her probably better at all of them.

And it kept her from burning out in tennis where so many professional athletes do tend to burn out so early. But like for her, she's a good example of the. Yeah, when she was little, she dreamed of winning Wimbledon, cuz you know, that's what you do when you're little. But really she just wanted to get better and their dad actually kept them out of a lot of junior tournaments and kept them off of that traditional path because he wanted their skills to improve and them to be focusing on improving certain things, not letting natural talent allow them to win, where then they would think, well I don't have to work that hard because I can already win.

So, you know, why do I have to do that, dad, I'm winning all the time. So he was very much focused on, but you need to be better at this skill or you need to be better at that skill. And by layering them all together, you know, suddenly they kind of emerge and they seem to come out of nowhere, but it's because they had developed skills.

So I don't know if that that answered your question, but I No, yeah, I love that story. Yeah. I just don't know anybody that that said, you know, that woke up one day and said, I want to be a X. And that's all I need to carry me all the way through. Most of them have failed more times than most of us, and I think that's part of it because that means they take more, took more shots and they tried more things.

You know, there's the other idea that really successful people kind of were born that way, and I don't think that's true at all. In fact, most of them, like I said, have failed more times than the average person because they were willing to try. And so what distinguished them is the idea of what's like you, you're working at Disney.

Great job, great company. But you had other things you wanted to try and you were willing to try it. And so had it not gone well, you still would've learned a ton. You still would've gained a lot of skills that would've taken you somewhere else. The fact that it did work well, that's cool too. But it's because you were willing to try and expand beyond whatever just the one thing was that you were doing, but it was, you didn't have the dream to take over the world.

You just said, you know what? I think I could do this. Let's see where this takes me. And what I learned along the way, and probably the last one I will say is that for a lot of successful people, their goals tend to evolve and expand as they go along. Because when you're first starting out, All you can do is set a goal based on what you've seen other people do, cuz you're not there.

So you set that, but then as you go along you realize that, okay, but I really like this part of whatever this is I'm pursuing. Don't really like that part as well. So I'll shape my goal a little bit, then I'll evolve my goal. And then at some point you reach a place where maybe the goal you set, oddly enough, wasn't big enough because you didn't realize that you had the capability and the potential to go beyond that and to figure things out that would allow you to do that.

So it doesn't have to be immutable. It can be something that evolves and shapes and changes. Where you run into trouble is if your goal is, I don't know, I'm holding my hand in front of my face and these people can't see.

But if your goal is up at your forehead and because you get lazy and it seems like it's too hard, and you let it drift down to below your chin, that's a different type of shifting goal that isn't necessarily a positive one, but if it expands and unfolds as you go and you learn about yourself and what you like to do and what you're capable of, well that's how it should be.

Let's talk about the time that it takes to start something new, because I think this is a really important point. You wanna start something new, but you have all these commitments, you're distracted, and at the end of the day you need to build in time to try something new, to learn something new.

[00:30:12] Hala Taha: So what are your top tips in terms of reducing distractions, in terms of making time to fulfill the process that you're supposed to do every single day for your new goal? 

[00:30:22] Jeff Haden: Probably my biggest one is to redefine how you think of me time. You know, where people say, oh, I need some me time, you know, whatever that is.

So if me time is. Wow, this is gonna sound really harsh, so forgive me, but if me time is, and there's nothing wrong with this watching Netflix or or hanging out and chilling or whatever that is, if that's the me time that you have, that's cool. But that's not necessarily productive time in building some other skill.

You don't have to use it differently. But if you're saying, I have other things I want to do, I have a side hustle, I wanna start, whatever that might be, then what you need to say to yourself is, my me time is actually that. That's me time working on my side. Hustle is me time. And if you think about it in terms of I'm gonna learn, I'm going to grow, I'm gonna develop, I'm gonna expand, I'm going to do something positive in my life in that, well, that's probably the best definition of me time that you could actually have is that, wow, this has the ability to change my life in a positive way.

And so that's probably my big one is just to redefine. What me time means to you? So when I was working full-time and trying to build some writing career, you know, my me time was working on that. And so when I, when it started to pay off for me, it was like, okay, well I'm, I'm missing some other things, but I'm not really missing the family time cuz I protected that, you know, and I'm, I'm not missing some exercise time and some health time cuz I protected that.

What I'm really missing is stuff that I don't know, it's a snack, it's not a good meal. So is that a bad thing? You know, I was, I, I was missing junk food, if you want to think of it in terms of that, you know, and really I, it was much more fulfilling to be things that, to do things that made me feel better about myself.

And again, if you're not willing to sacrifice your chilling, hanging out, vegging, lounging, whatever it is, time in order to do something else, well then whatever that something else is, doesn't mean enough to you. And so that's cool. Find something else. 

[00:32:26] Hala Taha: If I could just add to this, just to, to help people understand that this can be temporary.

So when I was building my podcast, building my side hustle for almost three and a half years, I did not turn on the tv. To your point, the thing that I enjoyed was working on my podcast and working on my business. I literally didn't turn on the tv. Now that I was able to quit my regular marketing job, I have people working for me.

Things are great. I watched a season of Ted Lasso. It's, it can be temporary, you know what I mean? And, and it doesn't have to last forever, but you need to sacrifice that. Vegging out to your point for a period of time. And it doesn't have to be forever, but you do need to put in the time in order for something to actually happen 

[00:33:07] Jeff Haden: that, that raises a really good point because as you get better at whatever else it that you're doing, then you're more efficient, you're more effective, it's more automated, it's more effortless.

It's all of those things. And you spend less time per output measurement than you did in the beginning. And then you could either apply that to improving that even more, or it frees you up some time for some of those other things as well as well. So it's a really good point that the first few months, it is going to feel like that's all you do in your non day job time.

But it gets better because you get better. And so knowing that going in is really important because there are dark days at first where you think, wow, this is really hard. And I don't know if I'm ever gonna get there and look at all these things I'm missing. But it does get better if you hang in there.

 I call it the two week rule. If you're gonna start anything that's hard, if you think that's what you want to do, then you really need to commit to doing it for two weeks. Whatever your process is, just say, you know what, no matter what, I'm going to do this for two weeks.

And it's, the reason is simple. The first couple days are terrible because you're not good at it. You don't know what you're doing. It feels like a struggle. It's really hard. And if you measure yourself after two days, you're going to quit because it's like, oh, can't do it. But if you give yourself two weeks, by the end of that time, you will have improved.

You will have gotten better. You will know more about what you're doing. You'll have gotten a little bit of fulfillment and satisfaction, and you'll at least be able to say, you know what? Yeah, I can start to see, I can see how this is starting to work. I can see where I'm improving. Then you can make an informed decision about, but is this really something I want to do?

You know, you, if you decide that on day two when it's really dark, everything you try, you will decide you don't want to do because it's too dark. So the two week rule is a big thing as far as time management stuff. The other thing that I would say, cuz it can sound like what I'm saying, is that you need to be 24 7 working.

And I don't think that's healthy or long-term productive. You probably have to work more than you are now, just by default or else you'll lose your full-time job. And then what will you do? Because you still have to kick ass at your full-time job, um, while you're doing it. But the, the one that I think would be really important is that you have to.

And this sounds too robotic, but it's not. You have to actively schedule your free time. You have to say to yourself, okay, I know I have a full-time job and I know I'm gonna spend a few hours tonight working on, if it's you working on your podcast in your early days. But I've got other time in there, so what am I going to do with that?

That is the best use of that time, whether it's family time or friend time, or whatever it may be. But you have to jealously protect that just as much as you're protecting the time that you're spending on the work stuff. So if you don't have a plan for that, then you're probably going to fritter it away.

It's not gonna feel very fulfilling. And then after a little while, you're gonna look around and say, wow, I never, I'm not spending time with my family, I'm not seeing my friends, I'm not, whatever it is that's important to you because when you get to those times, you won't be ready. You'll, you'll just be like, oh, uh, what are we gonna do?

Do y'all have anything you wanna do? But if you've actively protected it and scheduled it in your mind, then when you get there, it's like, oh, cool, this is my X time. So, I'm gonna do these things. It'll feel good. People will feel better about you if it's people things because it was active and fulfilling and meaningful, and you were focused.

So that's a big one too, is schedule your work time and be really good at that. But go ahead and plan for your non-work time in a good way. Not in a, you know, I have to play, you know, you, you say that and people think, wait a minute, I gotta plan my free time. That sucks. I don't want to have to do that.

Well, but, but it's okay. If you think, okay, I want to go out to dinner tonight with two friends. We're gonna do that on Tuesday night. That's gonna be awesome. Well, that's a great plan. Or if it's, I wanna take the kids to do so-and-so, or we're just gonna go outside and whatever it is. It's a good plan. It's not a restrictive plan.

It's a good plan because you're being intentional about your life. And the best way to feel good about your life is to be intentional about it and to do the things that make you happiest or more fulfilled, or whatever it is that you are trying to achieve. 

[00:37:29] Hala Taha: Hmm. I love that. So there's a couple things in terms of time management that you mentioned in your book that were really interesting.

So one of them was to fire one of your friends, and you also say that you should cut an expense and drop a personal commitment. So I'd love to talk about some of those. 

[00:37:47] Jeff Haden: Um, so we'll do the fire, the friend last. So the kind of personal commitment as I, as I started to get a little bit more of a profile and, and some kind of public something, whatever you wanna call it.

People would ask me to do lots of stuff, you know, and it would be right for this, or do a speaking engagement here, or whatever it is. 

 and then I, I got to a point where I realized that. Well, wait a minute, this, this does nothing for me. The people that I'm doing it for don't really appreciate it. I don't really enjoy it. And so I realized that there were things that I was doing that weren't really advancing me either professionally or personally.

And so I thought, I need to stop doing that. Why? Why am I doing that? Just because it serves my ego. Anything you do strictly for ego is a waste of time. And so all of us have some sort of commitments that we have that we do just because we think it makes us look good to other people. I don't, whatever it is.

And so if you need more time, those are the first things that you cut cuz your ego doesn't matter, your output and the impact you make is what matters. Not the reflection of yourself that you think you see in other people's eyes, cuz they don't really care. So that would be that one. Cut an expense. The tricky part when you start a business is that you never have enough money, even if you have a full-time job and it's really easy for expense creep to occur, and suddenly you look around and you've got subscriptions to this and you've got, you know, five apps you're using.

You have all these things that you think are designed to make you more efficient and effective, but all they do is cost money and they cause you to change what is optimal for you in order to interact. Well with whatever that function is. So, I don't know. A lot of people try personal finance apps, and so you end up, you know, you have to put all your data in, you have to log, you have to do all this stuff.

And I know a lot of people that have quit using them because they realized that they were running their life based on how the app wanted it to be run, not on what was best for them. When I worked in manufacturing, we had a lot of software programs that were designed to collect data and monitor a lot of stuff, and they made us less efficient because we weren't doing job changeovers in the best way to be fastest and most accurate.

We were doing it, so it served the software. And so my boss finally came in and said, all right, this is out. You know, what is the point of this? So look around at expenses that you have that. That actually one that costs you money that you don't need to spend, but two that are causing you to live your life or work professionally in some way that is not optimal for you.

Because if a tool doesn't make you better than what you are, then it ist, a tool is an impediment. And then finally, so fire a friend. You know, there's the old quote that you're the average of the five people you spend the most time with. That's true. I would. Take it farther though. And if you think about leading a really busy life, and we talk about time management, everybody talks about time management.

But what rarely gets discussed is energy management. And what really matters to you is your ability to manage your energy and have enough energy that you can go from one thing to the next to the next, feeling excited about it, having some enthusiasm, having the energy to do it well. And there are people in your life who actually negatively impact your energy.

Some of them might be customers, oftentimes they're friends or family. everybody has at least one person who you interact with them because you either always have or are supposed to or something, but when you're done, it's like, oh, you know that, that actually drained me. And so if the people around you are not actually making you, they're not helping you generate energy.

I know this sounds very mystical, but I think hopefully people can get it. If they're not helping you generate energy in, in a positive way and they're actually sucking the energy from you, then maybe they shouldn't be around you quite as much or you have to figure out a way to interact with them that that doesn't happen.

Um, because what, what you really are limited by is not necessarily time, cuz time is fixed. We all have 24 hours, but the energy that you have to apply within the time that you're spending doing something that is variable. And depends on how you intentionally ensure that you have some energy to go there.

And so that's actually a good, a good analysis for whether something that you're doing on a side hustle is a positive thing for you, not just money-wise, but fulfillment wise. If it doesn't make you excited, like you were excited to work on your podcast or to work on help people with LinkedIn profiles or all those other things that was actually fun.

That gave you energy and you could work longer at it maybe than your full-time job sometimes because they were fun. And so if what you're doing is a side hustle, generates energy for you, it's a really good sign that you're on the right path. If it's a slog and a struggle and it almost feels like it drains you to do it, then that's probably not something that you should pursue and you can.

You. It may have felt like a passion, but a passion generates energy, truly. And if it's not generating energy, then it's not really a passion and it's probably something you should, uh, discard and. And do something else. 

[00:43:11] Hala Taha: I think that's a great point. So the last question that I ask all my guests is, what is your secret to profiting in life? 

[00:43:16] Jeff Haden: I don't know if I'm smart enough to have a secret, but I would say that, If we use the word profit to mean feel good about yourself and feel successful in however you choose to define success, then try to make as many of your goals have as many different layers to them as is possible.

So if it's a financial goal, then hopefully it also has, uh, maybe a family goal or a personal achievement goal or a lifestyle goal or something else. The, the more goals can operate on multiple levels, the more likely you are to work hard at them. A good example of that is as I've reached a point where I've had some level of success, I get to blend things that I wanna write about, like I get to write about things that I am personally interested in.

For instance, I like motor racing, so I write a lot about that and I've gotten to meet a lot of drivers and a lot of team owners and a lot of, lots of people into sport. And so I enjoy it personally cuz it's an area of interest, but it also benefits me professionally because that's how I get paid. And so I've done the same thing with athletes and entertainers and musicians and people I wanted to meet.

I get to talk to really cool people because I've kind of reached that place. And so the fact that I write about it is kind of a fun byproduct, but I enjoy the conversations and I always learn something and it, it's really neat to do. And so when a goal can fulfill you or satisfy you or whatever it is on.

A variety of levels, then that's great. And so if you're, I don't know, 25 years old and you're, you know, a junior supervisor somewhere and you say, well, that sounds really good for you, but you know what? How am I supposed to do that? Well, if, if one of the things that you enjoy is helping other people, if you're a supervisor, you can do that all day long because you can develop people, you can put them in positions to succeed, you can introduce them to other folks, you can help them network.

There's a lot of ways in doing your job that you can also enjoy that personal gratification that comes from the fact that you helped people and it'll make you a better supervisor. Cuz if you do those things for your people, your team will succeed at a better level than other folks. And so, All you have to do with whatever you're doing is kind of take a step back and say, okay, how can I make this work for me?

Not just as it's supposed to work for whatever this, whatever this is, but in other ways that make me feel good about myself. And if you can do those things, then everything you do brings you more quote unquote profit because you're dipping into multiple, revenue streams that all come back to you.

So that, that would probably be my biggest one, is to just not say, I wanna do X. Here's what I'll get out of X. It should be, I wanna do X. What are all the things that I can get about that out of that, that are meaningful to me and that are fulfilling and gratifying to me? And it's, you can pretty much find that in anything you have to do if you're willing to look hard.

[00:46:15] Hala Taha: I think that's brilliant advice. And I think merging all those passions is so key to staying motivated, staying happy with what you're doing, and it switches things up, keeps you kind of entertained as you're going along this path and this career. So Jeff, where can our listeners learn more about you and everything that you do?

[00:46:33] Jeff Haden: Well, if, if, if after all this they want to hear even more from me, um, I write for Ink. I'm a contributing editor there andI don't do much social media. I am on LinkedIn and I do respond to people sometimes it takes me a while, but I do, if, if you write or want to connect, I will and it, I will eventually get to it, I promise.

So that would probably be the biggest one. 

[00:46:54] Hala Taha: Amazing. Well, thank you so much for this conversation and for all your wisdom. 

[00:46:58] Jeff Haden: Well, thanks. Thanks for having me. I really enjoyed it. 

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