How opportunity works and where to find it.

Today’s guest started out as a long-haired musician. He then became a real estate guy and then moved on to where he really got his reputation, the dating-advice space. I feel like he conquered it, became one of the biggest names in the space. His name is Eben Pagan and he now teaches people about entrepreneurship.

His latest book, “Opportunity”, is about what opportunity is, how it works, and where to find it. I invited him here to tell the story of how he got a start in business. I want to find out how he came from a really tough background to building up a business using the ideas in this book to do it.

Eben Pagan

Eben Pagan

Eben Pagan Training

Eben Pagan is an entrepreneur, author and investor, best known for teaching dating advice.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey, everyone. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy where I interview entrepreneurs for an audience of real entrepreneurs who want to find out how others did it because they are looking for ideas that they can use to build up their companies. And I’ve got to tell you that I had an opportunity to interview the guest you’re about to meet but I don’t know if I’d say I punked out of it before but I definitely didn’t follow up on it.

And the reason that I didn’t follow-up on it, and Eben, I’m even wondering if you remember this, the reason I didn’t follow-up on it is because, well, here’s how I found out about Eben Pagan. Laura Roeder an entrepreneur that I interviewed back in 2011 told me that she understood how to create online courses by watching this guy, Eben Pagan, by going to one of his programs, by learning from him. And then she built up this online course that did really well and then from there she moved on to software, called to MeetEdgar which did really well.

And through that I realized there are a lot of people who know Eben Pagan. And when my audience knows my guest better than I do, when they’re fascinated by my guest so much that they study his life, know his wife’s name. There’s a point where I have to say I can’t add much to it and at that moment I’m going to look inferior to my audience in this. And so I didn’t know the angle and so when he and I talked a while back I asked him, “Would you do an interview?” He said, “Yes, but ping me about it.” I never followed up because of that reason.

Well, so why am I having him on today, because look at this I now know more than you guys. This is his book, his latest book, “Opportunity.” It’s about what opportunity is, how it works, where to find it, and I got a copy of it before just about everyone else in the audience, I’m going to say before every single other person in the audience. I spent an hour 45 minutes reading. Not because it’s a late read, it actually will take you guys longer but because I’m an experienced interviewer who has to learn how to read fast and I go out of it. And so I invited him on here to talk about opportunity, how to find it and what’s in this book and more specifically, to tell his story of how he got a start in business and he had a really tough background, how he went from that to building up this business that help Laura Roeder and how he used the ideas in this book to do it.

So his name is Eben Pagan. He is now the founder of so many companies, little hard to describe. So what I’ll do is I’ll say he started out as musician, long-haired musician, you would know by looking at him now. He then became a real estate guy and by that I mean he did a few things including teach people how to get more clients in real estate. He then moved on. And this is where he really got his reputation, into the dating-advice space. I feel like he conquered it, became one of the biggest names in the space and from there he moved on to teaching people about entrepreneurship, many of you guys learned from him. And more recently, he’s become an investor in several startups. We’ll find out about how he did all of that.

Thanks to two great sponsors, the first will host your website right, it’s called HostGator and the second will help you get your next great developer, it’s called Toptal, but I’ll tell you about those later. Eben, welcome.

Eben: Thank you, Andrew. That was a fun introduction.

Andrew: Yeah. I tried to like tap into what’s real for me, what do I care about in the intro and not just follow along with what’s given to me. I’m going to do the same thing with the first question, I’m really curious about like what you do now and I hate to say it this way but I’m the interviewer so I’m allowed to, how much money you make? Give me a sense of size here.

Eben: You mean of my businesses?

Andrew: Yeah.

Eben: Yeah, sure. Well, it’s a little bit complex because I have several companies that I’m an owner and a partner and I have several that I’ve invested in but, so I started my business online 15 years, 16 years ago. I grew it. We got up to $20 million, $30 million a year. About four or five years ago I broke that main business into three pieces and I took on partners, people that had worked with me for years. So it’s a little bit more complex but I’m going to say that those three businesses now, a couple of them do like in the $5 million to $10 million range. One of them is maybe more in the single digit millions for that one, plus I’m an investor in a lot of different companies and I have a couple of other startups I’m working on myself.

Andrew: It seems to me like a lot of this growth happened because of a $1 tape that you bought. Do you know what I’m talking about?

Eben: I do. I do.

Andrew: What’s the $1 tape, where did you get it, and how did it influence your life?

Eben: Sure. Well I grew up in Oregon. I grew up in the sticks, out in the woods of Oregon to hippie parents and I had no real success role models. I didn’t know any rich people. I didn’t really know anybody who knew any rich people. I was a long-haired rock and roll guitar player. I dropped out of high school when I was 16. I went to a local community college. I dropped out of that to go on tour with the rock band. When I was 22 it finally, it kind of really occurred to me that music was not going to work for me. You know, and at my height I made $75 a week as a guitar player. And I reasoned that people that had a lot of money had either made it in real estate or than put it in real estate. So it seemed like real estate had this common denominator.

So I went and I got a real estate license which back in those days meant you go in a little room, you listen to cassette tapes for months and then you go take a test and the you never use anything that you learned on the test or. And so there I was with my two-door Camaro, with my ponytail trying to get people to buy and sell real estate. And that was a real challenge. I didn’t do very well. I only sold one in a third homes my first year and I made less money than I was making at my manual labor job. And basically I wasn’t figuring out sales and so I had to go learn about it and one of the seminars that I went to, one day I got these tickets in my inbox and they said like $97 value but because you’re a real estate agent you get to come to the seminar for free, you know. I didn’t know anything about marking back and I didn’t realized this was a thing where they’re going to be selling stuff.

So I go to the seminar, there’s a guy named Joe Stumpf onstage and he’s teaching how to get referrals from your clients and basically how to do sales and marketing. And he was like the most charismatic, just the best communicator I’d ever seen. I never really seen anybody quite l like this. I was blown away. I went up to him at the end afterwards and I tried to talk to him and he kind of didn’t see me. You know, I’m just kind of goofy-looking kid.

But back then I used to also, I mean I grew up with parents on government assistance. We couldn’t drive by a second-hand store or a garage sale without stopping and dragging things home. So I used to go to a Goodwill stores and Salvation Army and these kinds of things looking for stuff myself and I would go in and I’d find a book that I would buy for a dollar or for 50 cents and then I’d go sell it at the bookstore down down the road for like 10 bucks to make enough money for gas and food. This is where I was at. You know, I was making like $6 to maybe $10 an hour at my job at that point.

And one day I went into the Goodwill store, I remember in West Eugene and there . . . and by the way at the seminar I couldn’t afford to buy the tapes because they were like a couple of hundred bucks or maybe the high-end seminars are like $500, so it was just way outside of my price range. So I’m in the Goodwill store and I looked in this rack and there’s one the tape sets from this guy that I had seen speak and they were a dollar. And so instead of 100 bucks, there they are. And I just, I couldn’t believe my luck. I felt like I had won the lottery.

So I grab these tapes and I go running over and then I’d go to my manual labor job where I was a, I worked as an apprenticeship for a copper smith in a metal shop and I used to use this nomadic hammer that would hammer copper. And I would wear this ear muffs. And so I’d put on my headset and I put that little ear buds under the ear muffs and I would just listen to these tapes over and over. And there were other self-help tapes that I would listen to sometimes but these in particular there was just so many ideas in there that got my brain going for doing marketing and sales.

And so, of course, then I would go back to that Goodwill every time I was anywhere near it and like a month later there was another set of these tapes, also for a dollar. And then I’m thinking, okay lightning strikes twice. You know, I won the lottery twice. And so I just kept listening to these and at some point I realized this guy who’s teaching, Joe Stumpf, he’s got ideas unlike any that I’ve ever heard. So I started calling his company on the phone and I started making friends with his telemarketers. I would just call them up and talk to them and asked them what’s going on, and every once in a while they’d like slip me one of this more advanced tapes like from the coaching program that he’d have and one of them had him in Jay Abraham on it. And I’ll never forget it, I just listened to that tape over and over because these two guys were, they were on another wavelength. You know, and I could tell they were doing something really important.

So I made friends with his telemarketers, I went up to one of his other half-day seminars that he had in Portland, Oregon. And bottom-line I kept trying to figure out what could I do to maybe figure out a way to work with these guys. And one day I was listening to one of their tapes and I realized that the sound quality was not very good and I had a background, remember I was a long-haired rock and roll guitar player, I had recorded albums and things and I called up and I said, “Hey, maybe I could help you make your tape sound better? Maybe I could help you make your audio? And they said, “You know our audio guy just quit.” And so they connected me to the general manager on the phone and he said “Well, why don’t you come up to our big seminar and do our audiovisual?” And I went and did that and I just try to do the best job that I could and there’s a couple of other fun stories there if you really want to dive in, but, yeah.

Andrew: You were calling them up so much that they were slipping you, the telemarketers were, the people who were picking up the phone slipping you free copies of his tapes because they know how much of a fan you were?

Eben: Yeah, I would call them all the time. I mean I was just calling his people up because they worked with the smartest guy that I had found and, in fact, they would send me tapes and I would send them stuff as well. One day, I went to the Goodwill store and there was a set of Tony Robbins’ “Personal Power.”

Andrew: Yup.

Eben: The whole thing and it was like five bucks or something and I was like all the cassette tapes. And I sent it to one of his telemarketers because they were being cool to me and so I found this and I sent it to them. And so, yeah, I was just making friends as best I could.

Andrew: And then you got a job because you called them up, you asked if you can help. This is one of the key ideas in the book “Opportunity.” Explain that?

Eben: Yeah. You know, I think of opportunity the dictionary defines opportunity as being a favorable juncture of circumstances which kind of puts opportunity out there. It’s like something that happens out there in the world. I like to look at opportunity as being an act of creativity. It’s something that you create that you go to situations and you figure out how to make it into an opportunity.

My wife and I talk about this a lot when we have conflicts or fights or there’s an upset in our family. If you remember that this has happened now and this is an opportunity to build our relationship even stronger. Then it’s different. It’s not the same. And when you go and do the repair and you worked through your apologies and you listen how it affected the other person you know it can bond you. So I think of opportunity as being something that you bring creativity to. It’s something that you go and you, it’s an act that you do. It’s an act of will in life and that the more you practice creative opportunity making or creative opportunity discovery the better you get at it and the more that you have and the higher the quality of the opportunities you can create.

Andrew: And that’s speaking of the book and also speaking of the fact that you can get it pretty inexpensive or that speaking of getting things that are valuable and inexpensively. I should say that you’re offering the book for free at freeopportunitybook.com, people just have to pay for shipping. I meant to say that in the intro but freeopportunitybook.com for anyone who’s interested.

You mentioned you and your wife argue, I kind of caught a few of the references to that in the book like there was one time where you said, “I learned to deal and stay calm when my daughter had tantrums because I practiced being calm with my wife.” I think you even said that you and your wife do postmortems on your arguments.

Eben: Yeah.

Andrew: What do you do? Why are you doing all of this?

Eben: Yeah. My wife and I, we’ve been, it’s lately . . . it’s not so much. We’ve gone through years or phases where we argue a lot in our relationship.

Andrew: What’s an argument that you two would have? Can you be open about that?

Eben: Yeah. I mean we argue about the normal things, sex, money, all the normal stuff that people argues about.

Andrew: Sex is not enough or sex is not what I like?

Eben: Well, when we got together, my wife and I met at Burning Man, we met at the Burning Man Festival and I was a dating guru in the past life and I had gone through relationships like kind of my life before my wife was I would have a girlfriend for a year or two, have a great relationship, and then be single for maybe a year or two and date a bunch of people and then have a relationship and then date a bunch of people. And I was in my late 30s I had just gotten to the point where I finally was accepting that I wasn’t going to find someone that was a partner for me. I also got to the point where I realized when I’m dating different people I don’t really like this hiding, it’s not like I would lie, but I just wouldn’t talk about the other people I was dating. Usually that was kind of uncomfortable and whatever, and so I just said, okay, if I’m going to single for the rest of my life, if that’s just kind of my lot in life I want to be able to be more open and more honest.

And it was strange the timing of all of this but I was just getting to this point where I was like accepting, all right, this is going to be me forever. And so when I met my wife I was very open about this. I thought I was going to date different people and she seemed okay with this. A lot of our friends in California and things had open relationships and so when we got together this was like a pretense that we had as we’re going to have a kind of an open relationship but then we just fought over that a lot over time. So, you know . . .

Andrew: Because one of you was with someone else and then it created jealousy. I’m trying to think of the word jealousy and envy because you defined them separately.

Eben: Yeah. A little bit of that. I mean we experimented a little bit in the beginning but mostly it was fighting because we weren’t doing that but like I was upset because I thought we’re going to data a bunch of different people and so I would get upset and then we would go back and forth. It was more just fighting over the principle than anything else.

Andrew: You know, so you had this line in the book, I didn’t copy it because I didn’t think I could even find a way to fit it into this interview but you basically said, most people aren’t in touch with their emotions because once they finish . . . first of all they want to get out of the experience of feeling it and then second once they’re done, they’ve move on. They don’t want to come back to that pain. And I thought about that. When my wife and I argue about something I am so frustrated with the argument that this is not what I signed up for, not to argue. And I don’t want to go back to us being angry at each other and the tension so we just kind of leave it alone and walk away.

Eben: Yeah.

Andrew: You will sit down with your wife and you’ll have a conversation about this, about here’s how we argued, how do we do it better? I feel like somehow connects to what you’re saying about mental models and so I’m trying to understand that.

Eben: Yeah. Okay. Well, let’s see, we could go off the rails on this and we could go pretty far.

Andrew: I won’t let us. We’ll be okay.

Eben: Okay. No, I mean in the positive sense I mean we could really go, we could go deep here.

Andrew: Okay.

Eben: Yes. So my wife and I, we take this relationship, this true love partnership thing, this collaborative partnership thing very, very seriously. And if there’s something that’s creating friction or tension, we don’t give it up. We don’t stop. We would rather keep talking about it and fighting over it and getting upset until we get to the core, to the heart of the thing and we figure out what it is and we solve it. And depending on what your background is or like how sensitive you are, this can create a lot of tension, a lot of friction and you got to be in for the long game.

Andrew: Because it can go on for multiple days or because it’ll go on all night?

Eben: It could go on for multiple years.

Andrew: Oh, you’ll have this one argument that you just keep talking over?

Eben: Well, I mean that’s what everybody’s having already. Everybody is having the same argument over and over and over. I would just say that we have them a little more intentionally, I think.

Andrew: And so I’m fascinated by my mental models. It feels like then what you have is some . . . mental model seems like almost a written down system. You give an example about how Charlie Munger take his . . . he says that you have to invest in mental models and then he’ll take them and turn them into checklist. You say that in the book “Opportunity.”

Eben: Sure.

Andrew: But I’m fascinated by whether you two, she’s a relationship counselor, isn’t she?

Eben: Yes, she’s a love coach.

Andrew: A love coach. This is Annie. Will you write things down based on that? Will you say, because my wife and I have some mental models around this like . . . any serious conversation that happens after 9:00 p.m. Andrew is just going to be too stressed to deal with it well and he’s going to shut it down, so . . . the other night she was going to bring something up, I said, “Baby, if we talk about it now you know it’s going to be tense and I’m going to argue with it because I’m not in the right frame of mind. I just want to relax.” So that’s like one mental model, not fully written down but it helps our relationship tremendously.

Eben: Sure.

Andrew: Do you guys do that and is it more formal than that?

Eben: Well, can I introduce mental models for a second?

Andrew: Yeah.

Eben: Okay. So mental models are basically being able to run a simulation of some kind in our mind so that you don’t have to do trial and error out in the world. A lot of people are just doing trial and error. If you’ve got a little machine that you can use in your mind to simulate how the thing works, right, you can then make better predictions. You can have better guesses about things, right? So we all know the Pareto principle, 80-20 rule, right, 80% of the results come from 20% of the work, 20% of the inputs.

For a mental model you could imagine like a circle and then within it another circle that’s maybe 20% the size of that other circle. And if you go and look at any domain in life, instead of looking at the whole thing ask what’s the 20% of this domain that’s actually giving me all of the results. If you’re looking at what you east every day just imaging looking at all of it in a circle, what’s the 20% that gives you the most nutrients and the most energy? You know, if you’re in your relationships, let’s say that you’ve got a bunch of relationships in your life and you’re feeling friction from some of them. If you just look, what’s the 20% of your relationships that are giving you 80% of your friction? Right? This is there, so that’s a mental model, that’s an example.

My wife and I when it comes to using mental models, we have several that we use for our relationship. One of them is collaboration. So collaboration is when two people that are very different but that have complementary skills learn about each other and they learned to synchronize and combine their powers and they learn to understand that each of you has a different model of reality, a different lens on reality, a different paradigm, a different value set, and that the conflict is often because you value different things but when you can learn to appreciate the other person’s values and they can learn to appreciate yours even if it triggers them even if it’s upsetting, even if it’s activating that when you synchronize those two things and you collaborate, you put them together, you’re going to get a result that’s much better than either of you could have gotten alone.

Andrew: I think I’ve got . . . I’m going to bring it down to something really tactical but tell me if this shows that I’ve got an understanding of what you’re talking about. Olivia loves to have her back scratched at 10:00 at night. I’m like reading a book, I’m zoned out maybe I’m watching Netflix. If I understand, it doesn’t give me any, it doesn’t nurture me to do it but it also doesn’t hurt that much and just like reach over and scratch her back while I’m watching “Halt and Catch Fire” on Netflix then I know I’m making her happy even if it doesn’t necessarily mean much to me. Is that what you’re talking about?

Eben: No, that would be a compromise I would say. Or maybe you’re making a sacrifice.

Andrew: Okay.

Eben: What I would ask you to imagine is she likes to have her back scratched at 10:00 and you like to watch Netflix. If you two will sit down and talk about this and ask, “What is something that we could create that’s better than you watching Netflix and her getting her back scratched at 10:00?” And you keep working on it until you find something, there might be some third thing that neither of you have considered, right? Where maybe at 8:00 she would rather have her feet rubbed and you have a foot fetish but you guys have never really talked about that . . .

Andrew: They have more energy at 8:00, right, so now we’re accommodating me and accommodating her, the part that if you saw my eyes do this blink it’s because I was going, “Oh, my god, you have to talk about it a lot.” But you do, that’s what about it is.

Eben: You have to talk about it a lot.

Andrew: A lot.

Eben: And you have to deal with your triggers a lot and you have to deal with them. And learning in attachment theory they talk about self-regulation. And self-regulation it’s the new emotional maturity, being able to regulate your own emotions. Do you have kids?

Andrew: I do.

Eben: Okay. So you know that when the children show up, this is a whole other thing because they are like tailored designed to put the mom and dad out of emotional whacks so they can get what they want from the situation. They’re somehow these little geniuses of this. And so learning self-regulation is critical because once you get into a family system or a business system where there’s multiple people and all these games happen, it’s the only way to stay sane really.

Andrew: I know now you have partners I think it was at some point in the book “Opportunity” you said, “I won’t go into business without a partner on something.”

Eben: Yeah.

Andrew: Do you do the same thing with your partner? Do you understand your partner’s? Do you understand what makes them tick well enough to find this? Do you talk endlessly with them or is this just a husband-wife thing?

Eben: No. I really try to take on, and I’ve been doing a lot more the last couple of years. I really try to take on being a great partner and a great mentor to my partners and appreciating what makes them like what their unique talents are. And letting them grow and become all the that they can be and I tried the best I can to put that ahead of even the financial rewards and results. I really in my life I tried to make it so that the people that I’m working with or the people that I’m partnering with are learning and growing most and they’re becoming all they can be and then secondarily we’re successful and I’m making money.

Andrew: I wonder what your process is for that. One of the ones that stuck out for me was Cameron Herald. I read his book, “Double, Double” after getting to know him and he says that what he’ll do is he’ll ask his people not just to help him visualize where the company goes but to say, “Let’s make a list of all the things that you want for your like.” Now, he’s helping them identify their bucket list, their dream list, their goal list, but it’s also helping him understand what they want in life so that he could help them get it through the job that they have or in general and that connects them better to his work. That’s a process that he’s developed.

Eben: Yeah.

Andrew: Do you have a process that you do with your partners that we can bring in here?

Eben: Well, I do that for sure. I want to know exactly . . .

Andrew: [crosstalk 00:21:47] sit down with them and say, “What is it that you want to get out of like? What is it that you want out of this business?”

Eben: Yeah. And I mean even more than that, so when I now work with someone whether I’m investing with them or I’m partnering with them I always tell them, “My wife comes along as part of the deal. And she is going to work with you on your life, on your romance, on your friendships, on your family, on all of your relationships in your life.” And you’re likely to get more value from her than you get from me. And, if course, that you know people usually laugh at that because they don’t know, but then it turns out being true. And so, we know, I take very seriously that my partners and the people that are close to me to have successful personal lives and so I look and I asked them questions about what their values are and what their struggles are and what their challenges are with their family. And I cross all of those lines to help people have more fulfilling and more healthy and more purpose-driven lives.

Andrew: All right, let me take a moment to talk about my sponsor, a company called Toptal. Do you know Toptal?

Eben: No, I don’t.

Andrew: Okay. I’m about to introduce it to you in less than 60 seconds. Here’s the deal, look at how Eben and I are talking so much about relationships, look at how I’m writing . . . I have a list of things that my wife is excited about so that I’m aware of it. You’re drawing out the people you work with and you’re bringing your wife into help her or excuse me, to help them through her have better personal lives. Because we think about the stuff, this is what we’re obsessed with. And then what do many entrepreneurs do who think this way too. They say, “I need a developer. I’d better go on the cheapest freelancing website that I can to get someone who’s going to do exactly what I tell them to do.”

And the problem with that is that number one you’re not telling other people you care about and work what to do because you know that if you nourish them, if you understand them, if they’re a leader they could direct better than you can, number one. And number two, you know that what you want there’s people who think about this stuff even if they’re in their off time. Eben does not have to say, “It’s 9:00 to 5:00, I better sit and . . . ” or someone’s on the clock, “I have to sit and think about relationships and write this down.” He didn’t say, “I’ve got to write this book because someone told me exactly what to type out.” You do it because you care about it.

Same thing is what we should be looking for in top developers. These are people who we can care about and more importantly they care about the problem. They will sit with it over the weekend. They will sit with it before going to sleep. They will dream about it. And they will care about your problem until it’s solved in a creative way that you can never imagine.

If you want to hire the best of the best developers I’m going to urge you to go and do this one thing not even go and hire from Toptal but go and have a conversation with one of their matchers. Once you do, you tell them, “Here are my dreams, here’s what I need out of this person, here’s how we work.” If they can’t match it they’ll tell you and frankly, the majority of complaints that I get about sponsors or people who say, “I went to Toptal like you told me and they turned me away.” Well, good, congratulations. That means it’s not a good match, you’re not wasting your money.

So, and if you can, if they can match you, they often will get you setup with a great developer who can start within a couple of days. All right, go to this URL where you’re going to get 80 hours of Toptal developer credit when you pay for your first 80 hours in addition to a no risk trial period of up to two weeks. Eben, somewhere in the back of your head this is going to get lodged in, one of the companies you invest in hopefully will need someone and you’ll love them. It’s Toptal, top as in top of your head, tal as in talent, toptal.com/mixergy. I’m grateful to them.

I was actually spitting up with excitement out of that. I also I’m thinking I should speed up my ads.

Eben: I got a good idea for you about the relationship stuff. It’s a technique. It’s kind of a model that we have and it’s a technique.

Andrew: I love it

Eben: If you’re finding in your relationship that you have sensitive issues, right, these kind of vortex issues that pull you into conflict and you really want to talk to your partner about it but you know that it’s going to be explosive, what you can do is you can go to your partner and give your partner a note that you’ve written to your future self. In a moment when you’re getting triggered and activated that where you write to yourself what you need to hear to calm yourself down.

Andrew: Yeah. That’s good.

Eben: Right, your partner is trying to talk to you about something but you’re getting triggered and activated and then they hand you this note and it comes to you and it says, “Eben . . . “but it was written by me and it says, “Eben take a breath right now, close your eyes, calm down, regulator yourself if you have to take a break, but calm down right now.” And then you give it to your partner and you say, “Here, I’m going to give you this note, if you give this to me at any point in any situation in the future I will stop, I’ll kind of like, I’ll back off, I’ll regulate myself and I’ll come back to you when I’ve regulated and we can continue the conversation.”

It can create a little safe space between you and your partner where they can then feel safe to talk through an issue and then you’ll know that if they give it to you, you have to calm down. You can give them that one.

Andrew: Is it wrong that I was hoping you’re going to say, “Go and sleep with other woman, we found the research shows this is the answer.” Olivia will not let me sleep with other women.

Eben: That’s probably not the answer for most people.

Andrew: That’s not the answer.

Eben: Yeah.

Andrew: All right, I thought maybe you had research that backed it up. Speaking of regulate, you have in your book this line that I’ve wrote, “Most adults don’t have parents who are able to regulate their own nervous systems.” I know mine didn’t have this skill. And then you went on to say about how your dad was violent. Can you talk a little bit about your parents and what was going? And I was trying to read between the lines but now that I’ve got you here, tell me.

Eben: Yeah. So I’ve got Italian parents that grew up in Brooklyn, New York. You know, my dad basically on the street, I think he dropped out of school in second or third grade and like he sold drugs when he was growing up and like he kind of had a rough background. And he and my mother they moved out to Oregon because they wanted, they were hippies they wanted me to grow up off the grid and they heard Oregon was a good place for it. And I’m grateful that they did it but it was stressful for them. And he couldn’t really cope with regular society and, yeah, he was violent with us.

Andrew: For example, what was it that would set him off?

Eben: You know, random things. It was just random things. Sometimes he’d be upset because he didn’t get his government assistance check or because my mom didn’t make food that he liked or something was stressing him out.

Andrew: And then he would hit you?

Eben: Yeah.

Andrew: How?

Eben: You know, spanking, belts, sometimes he’d pick up a piece of wood hit me with it, that kind of thing.

Andrew: And then did you make any decisions about your life after one of those situations like “I’m never going to do this.” Did you decide what you wanted?

Eben: Well, two things. When I was maybe, I don’t know, probably 20, 21, he had to move and he got really stressed and he got really angry and kind of behaved violently toward me and it put 10 years or 15 years between us, so we didn’t really talk that much. And so there was a part of me where I pulled away at that point. Later in my life when my wife and I got together and when she and I early on our relationship we would get into fights about things and a couple of times we would be fighting and she just like reach up and slap my face and I would just say, “You know, we don’t want to do that. You know, I know where that goes I come from a place and . . . ” So I really stood for not having that in our relationship and it’s only in the last several years like maybe four years, five years my dad passed away right before my daughter was born. So this is about just over five years ago now.

And I’ve gotten to the point where I have appreciation. I actually have gratitude for what I experienced as a child because I know where that goes.

Andrew: You said lucky. How can you say lucky that having a dad who did this to you was a lucky break?

Eben: Well, one of the things that I believe is that you can take a wound or a problem and if you have the right attitude toward it, you can turn it into something better than what you would have had had you not had it. And so as I mentioned if you have a fight with your partner, if you believe that that can make the relationship stronger like working out a muscle then you can come back and work it out and make the relationship stronger. And what I tried to do with my life is to systematically go back through and find very break that I’ve had as much as I can.

There are a couple that haven’t been able to fix yet but I’m working on it. And when you go back and you fix them and you work through it and from a more mature place you see where the other person was coming from, they understand where you’re coming from, maybe you’ve both grown up. When the relationship heals you take a priceless lesson away from it and I’m just, I am so fortunate in the big scheme of things in my life to have seen what I’ve seen and to have experience what I experienced. It’s not like I would want this for other people. It’s all a blessing. It was all a blessing for me.

Andrew: That it’s made you a better father because you saw the way that he fathered you.

Eben: Yeah, absolutely. There are things that I’ve just said to my wife like there are things that I just won’t do. You know, I won’t do, I mean even sometimes with my little daughter we don’t spank her, we tried to be really careful to not spank her, not shame her, not raise our voice at her, to really treat her with equal dignity as a being as a collaborative participant in our family. But sometimes we got triggered and we get upset with her and when she was a little younger there were a few times where she would be doing something and I would kind of roughly like grab her and pick her up and then bring her into another room to do something and I was very . . . I’m very sensitive to when I have that kind of violent energy whether it’s in my tone or my actions or the way I’m physically touching her and when it’s over I come back to my wife and either I or my wife but it’s usually more me who will say, “You know, it’s just not acceptable for me to have any of that type of energy with my child.” And if I hadn’t had these experiences, I wouldn’t understand how deeply it impacts a person.

Andrew: You’re very regulated in your conversation. Do you feel like this that seeing your dad be unable to regulate his nervous system made you overregulated or hyper-regulate over that some kind of judgment on it? No, it’s just who you are?

Eben: I mean it could be. I went through a phase where I was, I probably went through like 10 years of my life where the expression of any negative emotion, I was into Wayne Dyer when I was younger and I kind of got this trip from him like just, like everything is good and just always kind of be positive I would express. I mean, it’s, I don’t know. That’s kind of where I’m coming from.

Andrew: And you say this, again, in your book, you say, look, I forget where it is, you have to build a lucky self-image, you have to practice seeing yourself as a lucky person. I imagine somebody who’s listening to us or reading your book “Opportunity,” reading that saying, “Dude, my business is on the verge of collapsing, I’m not looking at this is lucky. This is just such a hyper-rational, overly nicey-nice way of looking at the world, how do I even do that and why should I even try when really the reality of the world is it’s really tough right now?” What’s the benefit of doing it at that point?

Eben: Yeah. What I was going to . . . to just finish thread there. I probably went through 10 years where I was like Mister . . . like everything is great no matter what. But for the last probably 10 years maybe I appear this way but my wife and have arguments regularly, we have arguments in front of other people. I’m . . .

Andrew: You raise your voice in front of other people?

Eben: I wouldn’t . . . I’m sometimes . . . sometimes we have it for really passionate about it and we’ve got friends around that you know we’re close to and we think we can handle it. I don’t know, I want to live an authentic life and I’ve got a daughter. You know, we got upset around our house once in a while. It’s not a lot but I mean, god, every few days somebody gets upset about something and it gets triggered. And so, yeah, when I say regulate I don’t mean artificially, I mean that when you do get upset to remember, “Oh, the inner chimp came out and grabbed me and took over and like, okay, I’m triggered and the lizard brains, okay, take some breaths, just breathe . . . ”

I mean I’m 47 years old right now and it’s only been in the last year where all this stuff has really caught on where I’ve learned wherever it is. If I wake up in the middle of the night and I’ve had a bad dream if something’s going weird to my business and I’m worried about cash flow, if something is happening with my wife, if I’ve gotten triggered by my mom that all of them are part of one kind of unified thing called “I got triggered” and just breathe and just stop what I’m doing and just breathe and then when I’m back then reengaged because if I don’t whatever I do when I’m triggered is not something I’m going to look back on in the future and be proud of.

Andrew: Okay, so that’s part of your process. How do you identify this process and what happens next for you in that process? How do you know the breathing for you works? For someone else it might be go for a walk. For someone else it might be something else. How do you identify that?

Eben: Well, to me one of the thing so learned about, this might . . . I can’t remember where I got this from, it might have been some Werner Erhard influence but the idea is called complete emotions cycles. Emotions come in waves and they flood our bodies with chemicals and then they kind of go away. And it takes several minutes for an emotion cycle, kind of a standard emotion cycle to happen. For some of us we get really triggered. For me, I’ll feel them hours, sometimes for days, I kind of can’t get rid of a feeling. If like we’re in a really big fight or something really hard happens. But what a lot of us do and I definitely did this when I was younger is we don’t feel them. We don’t allow them into our consciousness. We think, “Okay, I’m just going to push that down and I’m going to distract myself, I’m going to do the next thing.” But when we do that they get kind of pent up and then we kind of can’t have emotional experiences that are flowing with other people and with ourselves and so the key practice is not walking or breathing. It’s to feel the emotions that you’re feeling.

So when the emotion comes up and you feel triggered to stop and to feel where the emotion is, feel, for a lot of people anger might be at the back of the neck and the head or in the chest or in the arms, or sadness might be in the chest or the stomach, or anxiety might be high in the chest. You feel it and you presently stay with it as it moves through your system and allow yourself to have a complete emotions cycle, don’t interrupt to them and even though it’s hard to do, when it’s over a few minutes later and you’ve just felt it and stayed with it when it goes, then it really goes and it doesn’t keep coming back to haunt you the way that it does if you don’t.

Andrew: I see, if it’s not finish it’s going to keep coming back at you until its finish. And so let me bring this back to something practical that I’m experiencing in business. We built a part of our business on Facebook Chatbot platform. You know anytime you work with Facebook that there’s a risk they’re going to turn your backs on you. You know that there’s a platform risk anytime you identify one platform as your main source of anything. And suddenly they said, “You know what, we’ve got the security issue, we want to analyze all new chatbots before we allow anymore on our platform,” completely rational considering what’s going on. But there’s a part of me that I woke up in the middle of the night going, “Why are you not more scared of this? This is actually a big part of your business. It’s an exciting part of your business, it’s now stumped. It’s now stalled because of this and frankly who knows what could happen?”

I then said I’m going to play BoJack Horseman in my ear bud and I have to go back to sleep, and sure enough I hate BoJack Horseman, it’s a stupid cartoon on Netflix. My mind paid attention to the story for all of one minute, stopped feeling the pain, went to sleep, and in the morning I had some idea of what we do next. But I don’t know that I fully experienced that feeling and I don’t know that I fully have the right answer based on it. I’m now going through this. What would you say I should do in that to experience the feeling and then to create a model for situations like this when they happen inevitably again?

Eben: Yeah. Well, there are two levels, two good reasons to feel the feeling, you now, to maybe just take a few minutes, maybe for you it’s go for a walk or go somewhere where you feel safe. You may need to be around your family or at home, go somewhere if you’re going to feel fear where you feel safe and then go back and revisit the emotion and feel that come through your body, notice where it is as it’s moving through your body, if it’s fear, just say fear. And you can say it out loud even because the key is activating mind and emotions in sync with each other. Most people cannot name the emotion that they’re feeling while they’re feeling it. Most people just can’t do that because they’re not even aware consciously of what emotion they’re feeling while they’re feeling it. There’s a taboo kind of and so you just say fear and then you feel it, fear, you feel it, allow it to come, allow it to go.

Something really for me in particular happens magically at the end of the emotion cycle, when you’re coming back out of it, if you’re triggered, when you’re coming back out of the trigger, if you feel fear when you’re coming back out of the fear. When you’re coming back into your normal state you can look back and you can see what happened and what triggered you and you can also see how you got into that situation in the first place. I call it the bridge of insight, it’s like being able to walk out onto a bridge and then look back and see what happened with more clarity. And in that moment, you’ll usually get a great insight about how you got yourself into it or how you set yourself up for it or how maybe this is an early childhood thing that got triggered again.

Andrew: Well, you’re saying do spend the time later in the day going back and saying, you identified fear what triggered it, what are you afraid of, why is that, and spend some time on that thought.

Eben: Yes. Stay with it, stay with feeling it. This is courage. This is some of the strongest kind of courage. It takes more courage to do this for a lot of people than to go into battle.

Andrew: So it occurred to me. We’ve got an audience of entrepreneurs. This book is written I feel for a lot of different people but maybe it’s because I’m an entrepreneur, I picked up on the business part of this. How does all this relate to business? Isn’t this the touchy feely side of business or the touchy feely part of being human that the strong business people don’t have to go through? I don’t imagine Elon Musk today sleeping in a sleeping bag on a factory floor trying to get the model three out saying, “What am I feeling internally?” Is it that we’re weak? Is it that we’re getting ourselves distracted to care about to this when what I should be asking you is how did you double your sales, how did you create your first video, how did you . . . you know?” How does all these touchy feely stuff relate to business? Not to put it down as touchy feely, you know?

Eben: So we’re down the rabbit hole of emotions in relationships and conflicts and wounds and that’s what we’re talking about. If we go talk about business, I would love to talk about things you can double your business or how to get more leads and all that stuff, I mean that’s what I teach in all my business courses. I don’t necessarily see them as being in conflict with each other. I mean Elon Musk for example, I don’t know if you read the Rolling Stone article but, I don’t know. I mean emotionally he’s having a really hard time. He’s lonely and depressed over a lot of this stuff and frustrated and read about some of the stuff with his dad. And I mean I have endless admiration for Elon Musk but also my heart goes out for him because it sounds like he hasn’t really allocated enough time and energy and attention to work on the emotional side of his life and probably for him if he’d put 10% or 20% into this, he might get to Mars like, you now, a year later or something. But when he gets there he’ll be a better role model I think for everyone. He’ll be happier and more proud of the way that he did it.

Andrew: Do you feel that this inner game of, I was going to say inner game of entrepreneur, but the inner game of human, of being human. Did this help you build up your business? How?

Eben: Yeah, it really did because as I’ve worked on my own inner game stuff, I mean the real inner game work started when I was working on the dating because I was in mortal fear to go talk to a woman and I had to overcome that and figure out how to develop courage. And then as I was in business in building my business, I realized a lot. This stuff just translates over like Peter, I’m sorry, Stephen Covey says, “Every public victory is appreciated by a private victory and that it’s a powerful idea right now that we’re these creative beings and if we don’t have inner integrity it’s hard to be effective out in the world.

And as I did I also encourage my team and all the people that I worked with and I’ve done lots of different things with my teams over the years to try to transmit to them what I’m learning and share with them and have a culture of honesty and of trust and I’m not perfect about it but I found that having a place where it’s safe to be who you are and to say whatever is on your mind and to be authentic I’ve passed up making a lot of money because I haven’t just been all about the bottom-line in line and just business. And sometimes I’ll do things to support someone on the team that’s going through something hard but in the long run when you look back on your life I think that having a more integrated life where you’re more developed in different places it just works better, you build more esteem, you become self-actualized, you’re a better role model, you feel better about yourself, you evolved more.

Andrew: You know what, as I say this I’m now been living in San Francisco so I’ve gotten to know entrepreneurs here really well. And in private they do have conversations about the stuff now that I think about it and it may not be with every single person but when I draw them out on it, they will say things like how . . . there’s one guy, he’s got an Apple watch app that he created for himself to be aware of, he’s incredibly successful, people wouldn’t even realize that he thinks about the stuff, his mental highs and lows. It feels like he’s a very even-keel person but he’s very aware of his inner depths and his inner highs and how he has to recognize when he goes up and down so that he can be more even-keeled and think more clearly through difficulties.

I’ve heard so many interesting things. Drugs are a big part of it like exploring with drugs. Frankly, people talk about as a way of getting to know themselves and then because in San Francisco too you hear weird things like one guy went to a strip club, he said, “I want to understand how female attention affects my ability to be creative.” And so he went to a strip club with someone to work and watch himself how he worked with the female attention on him.

So all that’s to say not that this is what you’re advocating but that I imagine no entrepreneur cares about this but the reality that I’m experiencing disagrees with it. They do care about this. They do think about this endlessly. All right, so I’m going to come back after the sponsorship break and then what do we have? We have a little extra time to go a little longer with me?

Eben: Sure.

Andrew: Okay. This come back and talk about the book “Opportunity.” My second sponsor is a company called HostGator. Real quick guys, if you’re looking for somebody to host your website right, you’ve got tons of different companies that can do it for you frankly. Just go search it and you’ll see on Google how many different options you have. So with all those options why should you go with HostGator? Why did I go with HostGator? Simple reason, they’ve been around for years. They’ve been doing this since the very beginning. How many entrepreneurs did I interview here who got into hosting, got clobbered, ended up having to sell their businesses, they did okay for themselves but basically they sold their businesses because the hosting space was too tough to compete in and who do they say collaborate them? HostGator.

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All right, let’s come back to one of the business ideas in the book, you say, “We need to start with Version 1 and then go for Versions 3.0. Start with the minimum viable product. Your whole, the business that I knew you for was info products, selling things like videos online. You started out though with a seminar to 23 people and you recorded what? Can you tell me that experience and how that teaches us start small and build Version 3?

Eben: Yeah. So I wrote a book of dating advice, I took three weeks to write that book. I put it online. It took off. People really liked it. It became successful.

Andrew: You know what, I’m sorry to interrupt, how did you write a book in three weeks? How do you get yourself from blank page to something that is useful and then build your career?

Eben: Yeah. Well, I mean, the first way is when you go learn something to learn it like it matters. Learn it like it’s going to be something in the future. And so I always keep a journal, at that time, I used to keep written journals, and whenever I would learn something about dating, I would write it in my journals and so I had a lot of material that I had learn from different places. And so I could just go back to my notes and start there.

And then the other thing you do to write a book in three weeks is make sure it’s not very long. In fact, so many people come to me and they talk about the difference that the book has made maybe a month or two ago. I opened the backup, it’s been years since I read it, I read the whole thing. The original was like 92 pages or something and I don’t even like full sized pages. And so, you know, make it not very long and you can do it. You know, you can knock something out.

Andrew: Okay. So you wrote the book and then you [crosstalk 00:48:04]

Eben: It took off and I had been I’ve been around the information marketing industry a little bit. I had worked with I’ve mentioned Joe Stumpf and so forth and so I knew that the next phase was that I would need to do a seminar or create an audio and video product, and so I announced that I was doing a seminar online and I had [PI 00:48:19] 23 people that paid to come to the seminar. I got a little conference room in a hotel and we borrowed a video camera and I had one of my guys stand in the back of the room with one, it was a one camera shoot. So if you see that original course it’s just like one camera and then my other friend ran the audio for it. We recorded it. And then I took the audio and we released an audio course and back then video was who knew how to do that. It took us nine months. We had to go rent a Mac and final cut and figure out how to make DVDs and all that. It took nine months to get that video course done and then we launched that.

And then I did that seminar a few more times. I did one in New York and I did one in Chicago and I did one in Australia and I just kind of kept trying to tweak and refine it and then we came back and because that course was my bestselling course, my bestselling audio and video course, I said, “Okay, I need to make a version that I’m proud of,” and so then we did another video shoot and I had a bunch of great teachers come and we made one that now we’ve been selling probably close to 15 years or something like that and people still buy it and still use it and love it.

Andrew: What is it about the number three, the Version 3 that’s magical or did I just pick up on one little item in the book and give it too much power?

Eben: Yeah. I mean the reason why I like Version 3 is because you can usually do pretty well by Version 2. Version 2 can be pretty good. But most people when they’re starting a business if they don’t have any entrepreneurial experience, they’ll waste a year or two trying to design the perfect product and they won’t even be interacting with any customers and asking like what do you think of it. And then by the time when they launch it and then nobody is interested they just become crestfallen and depressed and horrified by the whole thing.

And so what I’m really trying to get across is get something in the hands of customers as fast as you possibly can and then get that second one done because when you start designing with real feedback from real human beings and you’re kind of doing like a prosumer effect, it’s super enlightening. You’re learning a new way of doing things. So if you start saying I’m going to get to Version 3 as fast as I can, it makes you do Version 1 and 2 much faster. A lot of that is for newer folks. I mean really you want to just keep going. You want to keep iterating and making the product better and better and better. But 3.0 it gets you to 1.0 and 2.0 much quicker.

Andrew: I don’t know if you remember but we talked a few years ago and one of the things that you said to me is “Andrew, when you want to teach something, do an online webinar about it, sell ticket so that.” I’m wondering why that’s the approach that you found that works.

Eben: Well, I teach a lot of courses on information products and digital products and courses and like I said about products there, a lot of times people will spend a year or two or three years of their life trying to make the perfect audio course or like the perfect book or design a perfect seminar instead of just getting out and teaching some their material and seeing what people think and seeing the questions that they ask much better if you want to create a course or digital product or teach or do a podcast, much better to just email all your friends or email your list or post something to your social and say, “On Friday I’m doing this thing.” Or even better, “Tonight, I am doing this thing. I’m going to get on and I’m going to share these three points about how to do this thing and then I’m going to do question and answer, jump on with me.”

You can even do it right now. You can just jump right on like Facebook Live these days and say, “Everyone, I’ve been procrastinating. I need to teach how to get your parrot to talk to whatever. I’ve been working with my parrot for years. I’ve got some great techniques. I got three ways you can get your parrot saying anything and I’m going on in 10 minutes, just jump on with me right now.”

Get out there and, you know get broadcasting and get into it. This is the esteem you build, the interaction you’ll get, the . . .

Andrew: Do it free or is that the first thing you sell?

Eben: You can do it either way. I think you should it for free.

Andrew: Do it for free?

Eben: Yeah. If you want to go even upstream from that offer some coaching sessions.

Andrew: Why coaching?

Eben: This is really the best way.

Andrew: You said that in the book “Opportunity” too, why?

Eben: Yeah. Well, I think coaching is one of the skills of the future. I taught a course on it last year. We created a big program about it. I’ve been doing it for many years and studying it for a lot of years but it really occurred to me, you know, two years, three years ago what a coach does. I define coaching as supporting another person through a transition. That’s what a coach does. They support another person as they go through an important transition or transformation in their life.

All of us now have less time, we have less friends, we have more social media, more YouTube, more distractions coming, but we’re also going through more transitions because we’ve got more interest and we’ve got things going in our personal life, in our business life, and we’re moving, and we’re we’ve got all these things happening but we don’t have the friendship that supports us and a coach in a certain was as a professional friend. They understand the skills of being a great listener, of facilitating you as you figure out a solution, of holding you accountable, making sure that you do things without kind of you having to reciprocate. The way you reciprocate is you get paid to do it.

When you learn coaching, you’ll learn to be a professional friend. You learn to listen professionally. You learn how to get down to the point of what another person is trying to do, what they’re values are, what they’re outcome . . .

Andrew: Shouldn’t you be an expert before you coach other people about how to do the thing that you’re teaching them?

Eben: No. Coaching itself is a whole universe and you don’t need to be an expert on anything in order to become a really great coach. And in fact, if you’re an expert in some ways I mean it can be wonderful but in some ways it gets in the way because what you’re always trying to do is tell the person what to do rather than letting them figure it out. A coach is like a parent, right? When you’re a parent you don’t tell your child what to do all the time and do it for them because then they’re going to grow up thinking you’re the one that they need to go to so that you can do it for them, right? A successful parent has a child that says, “I did it.” You know, so the child goes, “Look, I did it, dad.” That’s when you’re a successful parent. It’s the same thing with coaching client. When they do it then you’ve won. Then you’ve really succeeded and there are skills where you can learn to do that.

Andrew: All right, here’s another thing, again, from the book . . .

Eben: Wait, one more thing I just got to say this about coaching. So my insight was as I looked around at personal relationships, business relationships, family relationships, friendships, it just occurred to me that we don’t know how to have high quality relationships. We didn’t get that training and coaching teaches you that thing. It teaches you how to be an amazing supporter of other people, an amazing facilitator, a great friend, and it’s a cornerstone skill. Everything that we do in the future is going to come back to in some way be enhanced or made better by coaching. And whether you do it with us or you go to somewhere else or you read a book, definitely learn coaching. It is one of the cornerstone skills of the future.

Andrew: You gave me this course I actually pulled my phone out so I could get the name of the course. This was again on our call and you were generous with that. And one of the things that stood out for me was it was a live session that you did and it was shot well and you also did interviews. And in the interviews one thing that you did that I don’t do, it may not just be my style, but you stopped in the conversation, turned over to the audience and you said, “Here’s what we just learned here.” And as an interviewer there’s always the sense of I am the student learning from the master, you should almost, it almost makes the person feel inferior to keep asking questions or less than someone who you’d want to turn to as a coach because he’s asking so many questions. What you did that was really smart was you turned around and say, “I’m actually the teacher here with you. I brought this person on as the expert and I’m going to translate for you because I am the teacher and I’m also going to provide the service in this conversation because you might lose the points.”

I felt like that was a really, I don’t know why I brought this up but it just kind of stood out in my head as I was looking at my interview stuff as yours.

Eben: Well, one of the things that I’ve realized is that most communication is miscommunication. Most things that people say and do are misunderstood. They’re misinterpreted by other people and we don’t realize that this is happening. Okay, so if you say something to another person one way, okay, if I say to you like, “Hey, here’s how to make this chicken dish or something.” You’re probably about 80% likely to misunderstand that. Get some part of it wrong. But if I say it in two different ways maybe I show you a picture of it and I show you a video then I send you a recipe it moves from 80% down to only maybe 30% and if I do three different ways like I send you the picture, I send you the recipe, and then maybe I show you how to do it, now there’s a very small probability that there’s going to be a misunderstanding.

And I’ve just learned most people won’t raise their hand and say, “I don’t understand what you just said.” Like because they get enough of it where they go, you know what, I don’t want to interrupt the flow. You know, so let me not mess with it. But I’ve learned most people are not understanding things and so if you go slower and you say the thing in a bunch of different ways, then everyone will appreciate it a lot more because they’ll say, “Okay, now, I really understand it.”

Andrew: You talked about that too. There’s a lot that still sticks in my head but for some reason I know why I can’t get the name of the course because I moved from one Google drive to another and maybe you could remind me, what was the name of that course, about how to create courses?

Eben: You know, it’s probably the Digital Product Blueprint.

Andrew: That’s it. That is the one, the word blueprint stuck out in my head. I just went to Napa and I sat down and I watched it. I find that I do my best work when I’m away from the office, going through a program, taking notes, and ideally a Napa where it’s sunny. There are a couple of things that stood out for me. One other one was people have different ways of learning, some are doers, some are listeners, etc. And that explained to me why there are so many books where at the end of each chapter they’d have a section of questions and I’d go, “I never do this. Who does the list of questions at the end of the chapter?” and I realized there are some people like my wife who do do it. That’s the way that they learn.

And then the other thing was when you want to teach don’t just teach this ephemeral thing, teach something that they could create that’s visible in the world and you definitely have a better way of explaining that but the tangible is really interesting as opposed to people who stood up at your program. So here’s what I want to teach, I want to teach people how to be happy and you say, “Well, what’s the thing that’s going to make them happier?” Does that sum it up well?

Eben: Yeah.

Andrew: And not super well though.

Eben: Communication, well, it’s again, big rabbit hole here. We could talk about this all day.

Andrew: Okay. Let me continue with this. The leading fringe, I’ll finish up with this. I asked Chance’s a, what’s Chance’s name? He’s the guy who taught relationships for women kind of partnered up with you?

Eben: Chance Barnett.

Andrew: Sorry?

Eben: Chance Barnett.

Andrew: Barnett, yeah, it’s been a while since I’ve gotten to talk to him. And I asked him, “What is it about this guy? What is it about Eben Pagan that you’re partnering up with him, that you admire?” And he said, “I’ve never seen anyone take ideas and implement them so well.” I said, “Like what?” He goes, “Well, this whole digital online marketing stuff.” And at that time I needed to close my mind to it because I said, this was 10 years ago or so, I said, “Online marketers, they’re scummy group of people, I can’t pay attention to them. I admire just software people.” And he explained it to me and I was oblivious to it because I closed my mind to it. But as I’ve looked at you over the years you’ve done that. Who are the leading fringe? What are we looking for on these subcultures and how has that helped you become a better entrepreneur?

Eben: Yeah. So I took the term the leading edge and I called it the leading fringe because what I’ve discovered is that people that are at the leading edge are usually often some subculture somewhere doing things that you wouldn’t pay attention to. But if you’ll go out and you’ll find them and you’ll meet them and you’ll take the energy that it takes to understand what they’re talking about and then find the ones that are creating the most cutting edge ideas, it will blow your mind. It’ll expose you to ways of thinking and models and paradigms and value sets and just ways of approaching reality that are really, really interesting.

Some of the ones that I’ve done in my own life that I’ve found most interesting probably actually close to when I started my business. They started doing singularity summits, I don’t know if you’ve been to those.

Andrew: No, I never.

Eben: Okay, I went to the first one. It was I think in San Jose and there was like maybe a few hundred people, you know, all getting together and talking about artificial intelligence and robots and when computers wake up and have sentients and all of these and I had read Ray Kurzweil’s stuff and really liked his things and they said they’re doing a singularity summit. And so I went and there wasn’t basically nobody like me there from online marketing, it was all people that were like hard core technology and building machines to simulate brains and all these kind of thing. But I met people there and I kept going and I made friends there and I started learning about what they are up to and still to this day very good friends from those days and it totally opened my mind to a new way of thinking, like a new way of looking a reality, they got new different value sets over there. They really think about rationality and a limiting bias and so forth.

Another one I mentioned, Burning Man . . .

Andrew: Let me ask you about the first one, what’s the tangible thing then that you got from your life from that? Or did it just send you down a rabbit hole where you just got excited and interested in this futuristic thinking but it doesn’t improve your life. I find that one of the reasons why people are, not repulsed but they stay away from the fringe is they feel weird, they feel like they’re never going to main stream and it’s always going to be the small little interest group. But I feel like you’re picking something up from this group that’s more useful. Or maybe it just doesn’t come out right away and it’s the kind of thing that’s going to simmer the way that getting into the online world simmered before it did something?

Eben: Again, the people that we’re hanging out at this thing and that we’re talking, these were people that were building robots and they were building artificial intelligence and they were people that were that have gone on to become involved in things like blockchain and cryptocurrencies and in some programs that I’ve gone to that were pretty fringy, I’ve met people that are have gone on to become billionaires but they were hanging out there like going to the summit series in the early days.

So what did I get? I mean I was thinking about artificial intelligence and I’ve been talking to people about artificial intelligence and what it does and I’m not a programmer but I’ve been talking to people about this for 15 years. I mean artificial intelligence is just about that wave it’s just about the crest. In the mainstream, I mean some huge, what is it, like 10% or 20% of people have one of these things, little Alexa doc that they’re talking to that you know your phone, your mobile device right now it does all these things that understands what you’re saying. This is all artificial intelligence. Most people are not paying any attention to this.

Andrew: Yeah.

Eben: They’re not asking how is artificial intelligence going to change my field, and I’ve been thinking about it for a long time and so I feel like I’ve got this huge advantage even though I’m not . . . I’ve got a startup that I’m working on right now and we’ve been working on it for over a year and we’ve got artificial intelligence in there and I’m learning about building artificial intelligence models are and I’ve been learning about like what neural networks are and genetic algorithms and I don’t know what these things are but what I do know is one of the guys that I worked with from as a partner said we took this algorithm we made and then we ran it through this system where it automatically generated lots of variations.

And then we tried all of those and one of them worked better and then we took that one and we made variation and one of them worked better and that’s the genetic algorithm. And I said, “Holy cow, you can just have the machine go and make other ones?” because we worked for a long time on the first one. I’m like, “Oh, okay, that’s cool.” And that’s loaded up on my brain and then I started looking around, I say, “This is going to change everything.” You know? And so, yeah, you got to go out there and see what’s going on. You know, you got to go see how it works.

Andrew: And you say Burning Man also. I know that figures a lot into relationship, that’s where you met your wife and to your outlook.

Eben: Yeah. Burning Man was a big one for me. I mean Burning Man had brought a lot of things but one of them is the art that you see behind me on these walls every room in my house I found the visionary art. I mean I think that this art and like the book that you showed right there . . .

Andrew: I figure that the book cover had some meaning. It doesn’t look like something a book publisher would impose on you. It feels personal to you.

Eben: No. I took a lot of time and energy that cover is by Andrew Jones who is probably the greatest living visual artist. And, in fact Burning Man just got the Smithsonian just opened a huge exhibit in Washington, DC called “No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man” and it’s just hitting mainstream right now with all these sculptures and Andrew Android Jones has got a whole bunch of his art up there and so forth. So I went to him because I think he’s the greatest artist right now and I said, “I want to design a book cover that really captures what opportunity is.” And we worked together on it. This was his concept and I think we made something special here the idea of grabbing the lightning but if you look in there, there’s a whole bunch of little images and there’s layered symbology.

And getting to know these artists, working with many of them, five or six of them now are really good friends. Collaborating with them on art pieces, on designs, I’ve learned so much about how to take ideas and represent them visually. Yeah, you learn things that you just wouldn’t learn otherwise until you go and find the people and submerse yourself in the culture.

Andrew: Really, just get deeply into it.

Eben: You got to get into it.

Andrew: All right.

Eben: You got to go meet them. You got to go find them.

Andrew: I read the book, I recommend it, but here’s who I’m going to recommend it to. Anyone who’s looking for like an ABC here’s how to find the opportunity. Chapter one is going to be an intro. Chapter two will tell you the first step. Chapter three will tell you the next step, and so on. That’s not this. This is a book where I feel like you’ve had some really deep thoughts and you said, “This is not going to be me talking down to my audience. This is me going to be the way that I would talk to my wife who you say you fell in love with her brain so much that you got a little jealous of her for being able to thought fought. This is like I’m going to have that approach, I’m going to put it out in the world, if it hits it hits, if it doesn’t it doesn’t. I don’t care about that. I’m not looking for a sales letter I’m looking to put something deep in the world.

And so anyone who’s looking for that you’re going to like this book. Anyone who’s looking for, “Hey, tell me what’s the first step to finding my opportunity is,” you’re going to be a little disappointed. Regardless of who you are, I’m going to recommend. If I was the editor, there’s one thing that I would do and I’m going to recommend this to my audience. There’s a chapter towards the end of the book, it doesn’t have a number at least in my book but it’s called “My Favorite Opportunity in Business” this is the chapter that most people would start their book with, Eben.

This is where you say, “Look, I’m not just teaching these to you because I have these ideas. I’m teaching it to you because look at how my life was shaped by the opportunities that I had.” And this is the book, this is the chapter that most people would put in the front to say, “I have credibility, pay attention to me.” You put it at the end like, “Look, all the stuff that I just showed you, here is how it’s influenced my life.”

Anyone who doesn’t know you work should just skip to the back, don’t feel any guilt, there’s no teacher telling you how to read this book. Start with that chapter, “My Favorite Opportunity in Business” and then go back and understand. Here’s what I also took away from this book, some of it you have to walk away from to fully get because of the time it feels like, “Oh, yeah, yeah.” Then you go, “Oh, wait a minute, actually this really does make sense.” And also later on in the book you get more personal and I like is now I’ve gotten to know your thoughts, getting to know your personal life and getting to know how it fits in with all these ideas.

So that’s the book, it’s called “Opportunity.” I don’t know why you don’t want people to go to Amazon for it but you do offer it for free on your website. We could have gotten into that a little bit but I’ll save it for other interviews that you do with other people. You’re offering it for free with shipping for anyone who wants it . . .

Eben: It’s because I don’t know how to do Amazon yet. It’ll be on there soon. We’re going to send some over to . . .

Andrew: I’ve got a feeling you could figure it out.

Eben: Well, we are. Right now, we’re literally figuring this out at the last minute. Yeah, that’s why.

Andrew: Yeah. I’ve got this book yesterday, no, yesterday I think it came in the mail, maybe the day before. So I don’t know how you guys are going to be able to get it but if this the kind of thought that you want, you’ve gotten the sense of them, go check it out at freeopportunitynbook.com where you can get it for free plus shipping and it might be on Amazon, I’m sure. They’ll figure it out. I also want to thank my two sponsors for making this happen. The first will host your host your website right, it’s called hostgator.com/mixergy. And the second will help you hire your next phenomenal developer, it’s called toptal.com/mixergy.

How do you feel with this one?

Eben: Great. This has been a lot of fun.

Andrew: Me too. Thanks for being on here.

Eben: Yeah, surprisingly weirdly cool.

Andrew: Yeah. It wasn’t a structured as I thought it would be but I think that we just kept tapping on things that I found meaningful and I know the audience will too, but they’ll let me know. Cool. Thanks, Eben.


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