Success Is A Ladder. Here’s How To Climb It.
If I had to start all over again, here’s what I wish I would have known — broken down into 3 short stories.
I’m sitting here in my kitchen, trying to write something that will astound and impress you. But today, I’m not feeling quite so poetic.
I want to tell you what it really takes to level up in your business and start having the success you’ve been looking for.
From my perspective, it takes three things. So to that end, here are three short stories:
Accountability and consistency
When I first moved to Los Angeles in 2013, I’d say things were “half working.”
The good half was that I’d successfully quit my job and learned how to find customers for various freelance services I offered. At this point, I was doing mostly copywriting, marketing and a bit of web design.
I had a few good clients on retainer and by the end of the year I was making anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 per month. Considering the fact that just 18 months before, I’d been scraping by, I basically felt like a god.
I was whipping my kitted-out Nissan 350z down 190th in Torrance like Bow Wow in Tokyo Drift.
But I wasn’t balanced.
$5,000 to $10,000 is a big monthly fluctuation and not having that consistency made it hard to plan my growth. Part of the problem here was that it was just me trying to solve all my problems.
Just me at the computer.
Just me trying to piece things together.
Looking back on it, I think a huge part of the problem here was that I didn’t have any accountability to get things done at a specific time, which meant I was always finding reasons to put things off.
This is something that many people don’t realize about the road to entrepreneurship. Yes, you’ll have all the time in the world and no boss breathing down your neck— but freedom is nothing without discipline, and I didn’t have much yet.
Even when you’re making $100k+/year by yourself, you can still be scrambling and overwhelmed because you don’t know how to get into the flow.
The more I put things off, the harder it was for me to take the consistent actions which lead to growth. So money trickled in, but never really flowed.
On the outside, everybody thought I was crushing it. On the inside, I was panicking and confused a lot of the time.
Focused action on the right things
Around the same time, I began to get more and more opportunities to work with different people and companies on various projects.
This is how success sometimes looks in the early days:
- You put yourself out there and a few of the things you try show some promise.
- Others take notice and realize that you’re somebody who can get shit done.
- Since there are so few people who can actually get shit done, everybody throws their projects at you.
Many of the opportunities that come your way can be very enticing — even well-paying. But they often aren’t a part of your primary business and the more of those projects you take on, the more diluted your focus becomes.
This was me. I was literally drowning in opportunities and making much less money than I could have because there were so many possibilities I wanted to explore and I couldn’t focus.
Not to mention that at this time, I was trying to grow Rich20 more seriously, but my focus was dispersed there as well.
Should I be blogging? Do I need to go hard on Twitter? Should I keep trying for guest posts and just see what happens?
The lack of focus on my overall goals, and inside of my projects themselves was dispersing my energy. I felt like a plant that needed to prune a bunch of dead leaves in order to grow. But I didn’t know which ones to clip.
Relationships in the real world with mentors and connectors
The internet is great for meeting people. But it’s not always great for really getting to know them.
So you’re going to need to connect with people in real life. When you meet people in the real world, they are much more likely to help you.
And you’re going to need people to help you if you want to grow.
In the last decade, I’ve found a handful of mentors and connections who’ve really helped me.
In my teen years, there was Pete. Pete was my first real coach. He taught me how to lift weights, trained me for my first bodybuilding show and showed me how to stay on track with a specific goal in mind. He also got me a job at UPS which I eventually got fired from.
God bless him.
But there were so many more — and the level of help and insight these mentors gave me leveled up as I continued to develop myself.
Sometimes it just takes someone who is a few (or many) steps ahead to set off a chain reaction that will change your life.
One of my favorite chains came from my friend and mentor Jordan Harbinger in 2013.
Jordan runs the massively popular show The Art of Charm and knows almost everybody there is to know. I think he just had Bill Nye on his show. My inner nerd is freaking out.
Jordan connected me to his friend Gabe Mizrahi over sushi.
Gabe is a screenwriter among other things and was working at a streaming television network called The Lip TV. He got me a job there.
My job there led to a whole bunch of other opportunities, including the chance to interview bestselling author Stephen Key, who later became a mentor.
Stephen introduced me to his literary agent Kirsten, who 2 years later, became my agent.
Kirsten helped me score a huge deal with Penguin Random House for my first book.
My first book has led to so many other opportunities.
Who knows what’s next.
See how the chain works?
The point here is that relationships with mentors and connectors are powerful force-multipliers. One connection can change the trajectory of your career.
When you start getting 5, 10, 15 connections to powerful people who can help you, it becomes much easier to make the big leaps that seem almost impossible from the outside.
Daniel DiPiazza is the bestselling author of Rich20Something: Ditch Your Average Job, Start an Epic Business & Score the Life You Want and the founder of Alpha Mentorship where he directs Profit Paradigm: The Growth Engine For Digital Agencies.
PS — we worked with the entrepreneurs in our program to complete an exhaustive analysis of everything it takes to build an agency that generates $50k/month. Then we streamlined all that info and made it into a 1-page diagram. Want to see? Grab it here.