A few months ago I was sitting at a big conference table with about 20 people… most of whom I'd never met before. It was an impressive group – they were world class experts in a number of fields, including things like neuroscience and psychology. Many of them were New York Times bestselling authors (one guy has sold 10 million books.) All of them ran highly successful businesses.
We did the whole “go around the table and introduce yourself and tell us why you're here” thing.
Now I don't know about you, but I sorta hate that type of thing. I'm naturally an introvert… and since my parents raised me to be humble, it's just never felt natural to brag about myself.
But when it came around the table to my turn, I knew it was time for me to step up… to raise my game. This is what I said:
“I'm Jeff Walker, and I'm here for the Future Of All Humanity”
That got their attention. And more importantly, it was true.
– EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED –
Have you ever sat down and written out all your biggest goals? Really went for it in a big way and wrote down some outrageous goals? It's an interesting exercise, and I highly recommend that you try it. The first time I did it was about 15 years ago.
And then a funny thing happened. A couple of years ago I realized I had hit pretty much all of those monster goals that I had written down. Obviously, I wasn't thinking big enough. 🙂
But you know what happens when you reach all your goals?
Well, you might go sit on a beach for a while. But soon enough you wake up and ask “what's next?” or “what do I do now?” or maybe even “is that all there is?”
This might sound counterintuitive, but it's actually a really unsettling, uncomfortable place to be.
I know some of the people reading this have been in that same situation – you work really hard for some big goals, and then one day you hit those goals. That's where I was in 2008…
– THE BIG WHY –
Before that time, the “Big Why” behind my business was about supporting my family – about making enough money to pay the bills and keep food on the table. That's the reality for most people when they start a business… and that's where I was. In desperation mode.
But as I became more successful, that started to change. Gradually I worked my way out of that desperation mode – my business started to come together, I caught a few breaks, and I kept my nose doggedly to the grindstone.
The next 10 years or so was a non-stop whirlwind of learning to think bigger. And non-stop amazement at the growth in my business – and the growth in my impact.
And, wonderfully, I started to see my students achieve massive success as well… sometimes even exceeding my own success. It was a joyful, simple, wonderful time.
And then there was the quantum leap forward – when I released Product Launch Formula 2.0 – and I did $3.73 million in sales in 34 hours.
That completely changed the game for me.
I've actually got a pretty simple life, and I never bothered drastically upgrading my lifestyle. Sure, sometimes I fly first class… and I don't have to look at the right-side column when I'm in restaurants. But I still live in the same house I bought 11 years ago. And I'm not really into fancy cars… and it doesn't make much sense to drive a Ferrari when I live a mile down a dirt road!
In any case, with that huge launch I found I had suddenly hit almost all of my “lifetime” goals. And it had me wondering what was next in my life.
Like I said – this is NOT a very comfortable place to suddenly find yourself.
Now I'm not the first person to go through this, and I won't be the last. But the story often ends badly – just look at all the childhood actors that destroy their lives, all the rockstars that do the same, all the world-class athletes that don't retire gracefully… the list goes on and on.
So this is how I dealt with it – I went on a search. It was a search that took me all over the place – from Tony Robbins seminars to long trips in the wilderness to meditation to yoga retreats.
I learned a lot from that search… about myself and about what I wanted for the next chapter of my life.
And in the end I found three things that REALLY excited me… that filled me with a passion to create and contribute. And I found something deeply important about my business, and its place in the world.
So here goes… these are hard-won, deeply held beliefs. They are simple statements, because I put in a ton of work to make them simple.
I know these statements will resonate with a lot of people reading this… but I also know a lot of people will disagree with them. But that goes with the territory. Here you go:
1. Entrepreneurs are the future of the world.
I could write five blog posts about this, but here's the short version: entrepreneurs are the ones who are out there making an impact, building things, creating jobs… and raising the standard of living throughout the world.
(Here's a link to some interesting data on how entrepreneurs are the ones creating *all* the jobs in the last 30ish years.)
2. Information marketers are the future of education.
Again, I could write about this all day, but I'm only going to give you the super-condensed version here: the world is changing faster than the current education system can handle. There are so many dedicated, amazing teachers and professors in our current system… but they're too often fighting a losing battle. Clearly, large chunks of our education system are moving online… and that charge is being led by information marketers.
3. My business is all about helping entrepreneurs and information marketers start and grow their businesses. Which, given my first two statements above, means my business is all about…
– THE FUTURE OF ALL HUMANITY –
I help entrepreneurs and information marketers bring their gifts to the world. That's what I do. That's what my team does. And those three things add up to my “Big Why”… and the future of all humanity.
It's a pretty big mission. 🙂
And when I talk about it in public, it's always with a bit of a wink and smile… because talking about that stuff can sometimes make folks uncomfortable. But I'm dead serious. It's important work.
– GET CLEAR ON YOUR BIG WHY –
You might want to spend some time thinking about your BIG WHY. Now I'll be the first to admit that when I started my business, I just wanted to make some money. In fact, I was DESPERATE to make some money.
But after a while, once the success train starts rolling… then you might want to start thinking about your Big Why, because it changes things.
For instance, back in the days before my Big Why I ran my business a little differently.
I tried to avoid building a team at all costs… because I didn't want the hassles. Now, I'm slowly building my team – because I've got a big mission, and I can't get there alone.
Another example… I changed the way we sell Product Launch Formula. It used to be for sale every day of the year… and it sold really well.
But then I tried running PLF as on online course – similar to the way a college course is taught – and I saw that people got much better results that way.
The interactivity – having me answering questions on the phone and in the PLF portal – people loved it and got better results. It's a lot more work for me this way… so we usually only run one or two classes per year – but it gets great results for my PLF Owners.
(Right now I'm gearing up for our next Product Launch Formula class – we're going to start one in a couple of weeks. Which means I'm trying to get as much sleep as I can right now… once it starts the whole thing just plain takes over my life. 🙂 )
One more example… I used to occasionally take on consulting clients. Now I'm all but impossible to hire, because taking individual clients will rarely fit strategically with the mission of my business.
Finally, and I sorta touched on this earlier, I decided I needed to start talking about this Big Why stuff publicly. That wasn't an easy thing for me – since I'm an introvert, and since talking about this type of stuff can make you a target. And because I'm really not holier-than-thou at all – I've got plenty of faults and make lots of mistakes.
And I have this rather insistent voice in the back of my head that sometimes says “shut up, who are you to tell people about stuff like this”… and it's a lot of effort to fight that voice. But I realized if I was going to go down this road, I had to fight that inner demon and I needed to talk about this stuff… even if I ended up drawing a big target on my back.
– WHAT'S YOUR MISSION? –
Like I said above, if you're just starting out… then you need to worry about getting to profits. Worry about putting together a great offer and getting in the game.
But once you get there – once you've built a solid business… you should start focusing on your “Big Why”, because it will sustain you.
AND it will transform your business and make it a much bigger force in the market. You will become a leader, and people love to rally behind leaders.
I've now got a process to help people get to their Big Why, but I don't have the time or space to go through it with you in this blog… and this isn't the right medium. Maybe I'll figure out some way to do that outside of my live events… but it won't be today.
But trust me… getting to your Big Why is a very powerful and liberating exercise. And you can make a pretty good run at it if you sit down in a quite place with some paper and pencil, and write down what's important to you in your life and your business. The big picture stuff. Try it, I recommend it highly. 🙂
IMPORTANT: your mission does NOT have to be about the future of all humanity… that's mine, and it took me a long time to get there.
(And you never know, one day I might change it to “finding the perfect Mai Tai on the perfect beach”… but for now I'm sticking with “the future of all humanity” 🙂 )
Your mission might be “improving skiing instruction so that people can make turns on their first day on the mountain”… or “bringing people closer to nature through mountain biking”… or “helping people lead healthier lives by losing a combined total of 1 million pounds of fat”… or “helping people protect and grow their life's savings”…
This doesn't have to be your final answer, and you can't get it wrong. You can always change your answer (and I can pretty much guarantee that you will.)
– BRINGING THIS HOME –
OK, this has been the longest blog post ever. Thank you for coming along on the journey with me. This has been something that I've been working on for a few years now. It's been evolving and will continue to evolve. And I promise to keep you updated.
But for now, since I just put myself out there in a big way, I have one favor to ask – please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about all this stuff. Agree? Disagree? Give me your reaction. Or you can even just tell me to shut up and get back to talking about marketing. 🙂
(P.S. All photos are from a hike I did this summer in the mountains near my home. That's where I go to think about the important stuff and recharge my soul.)