Saying not doing

That’s my problem.

I’ve been saying to myself, saying to others I want to build things.

But I haven’t.

It’s called signalling. Talking about something instead of doing it.

It started with wanting build a YouTube channel.

Then I did it. And it felt good.

I wanted to write. So I did. Everyday. And it makes me happy.

Now I want to build apps. Build products which add value to the world.

Don’t make the same mistakes I did.

If you know what you want to do. Remember.

The fastest way to get where you want to go is to go straight there.

My latest YouTube video talks about two things I’m doing wrong in my business. One of them is signalling. The other is jumping from project to project rather than building something scalable (a product built on code or media).

Don’t let perfection hold back published

School told me I wasn’t an artist. I believed it. My year 8 art teacher gave me a D for my drawing. All that effort. A green ninja turtle. Not the ones you see on TV, my own.

The next year I dropped art, music and drama. All of it. Anything that wasn’t maths or science.

In year 12 I got a C- for English. The stories I wrote weren’t good. Why not? I thought I ticked the criteria. I read the book, rewrote it in my words, told it how I understood it. Now I couldn’t write, draw, act. What was the deal?

There was one thing though. I was captain of debating. I could speak. Writing differently to speaking bored me. My English essay was good (to me, not the teacher) but it was a drag to write. I had to take time off gaming to get it down. We were the best Call of Duty team in Australia, that’s a full-time job.

Our debating team went to other schools and they came to us. We’d have a week with a topic a week to wrap our 17-year-old brains around it and form an argument, for or against. Sometimes there wasn’t a topic. Instead, we’d get there an hour early and get given the topic on the night. You had to think of a speech on the spot.

I was always third speaker. Which meant I had the job of summarising the first two speakers on our team and saying why the other team was wrong. I loved it.

While the other team were speaking I had to think of why they were wrong and write it down. I didn’t have time to write an essay. I had to write how I was going to speak it. Then I had to deliver. That’s what mattered.

We went through our final year undefeated.

Essays are still hard for me to write and there’s nothing worse than reading poor writing. One of the easiest ways to improve your writing is to write like you speak. If you can’t explain something with words, say it out loud as if you were telling your friend about it and then write that.

It took me 7-years out of school to start creating again. To start writing publicly. To start making videos. I still haven’t gotten back into drawing. But I will.

When it first went live it wasn’t good. My first 30 YouTube videos were me sitting in my car. There were gaming videos on another channel but they weren’t me. My first articles were over edited, ‘what if someone thinks this when they read that?’

Thankfully they’ve gotten better since. And I have no plans to stop improving, stop challenging myself. That’s the key. Be your own biggest critique. Make things you’d like to see and make them quality.

But after a while being your own biggest critique gets easy. Then you have to learn how to be your own biggest fan. Fan and critique at the same time.

I hit 10,000 subscribers the other day. Now we’re on the way to 100,000.

But that’s not the metric I pay attention to. The metrics you can game don’t matter.

What then?

Work published.

Was it published?

Did the idea turn into something?

Where is it?

Can I see it?

Not everything goes out into the world. It shouldn’t. But in order to get better, you have to publish.

That’s what I measure myself on.

It’s what led me to being able to leave my job as a machine learning engineer and pursue a journey on my own. Let’s see where it goes.

If you’ve watched my videos or read my articles. Thank you.

The mistake of reading too much

Learning is fun. It can seem like its the way to keep going. To read more, to learn more. To keep learning.

But knowledge is useless is it’s not applied. You can read all you want but until you use the knowledge you’ve been acquiring it’s not helpful to anyone.

Once you’ve made the decision to learn something, your next most important move is to use it.

A negative of continually reading and accumulating knowledge is it can hold you back. It’s counterintuitive. But eventually you become your own worst enemy. You know too much. Now you hold yourself back because you know all of the potential outcomes of your next venture. The good and the bad.

The good outcomes seem great. The stuff your dreams are made of. But they quickly get brought back to Earth by the potential bad outcomes.

Then there’s the other mistake. The mistake of doing without reading, doing without learning. When you push to far in one direction without educating yourself about the path ahead.

Knowing of the balance between learning and doing is dangerous too. Because you stop and wonder if you’re learning enough, or are you doing enough? Should you spend more time doing or more time learning?

You’re spinning in circles. Between reading between learning between doing between learning and doing. Each require each other to exist.

What’s the answer?

It’s easy to say find the right balance. Find the right balance can be said about anything.

What then?

You have to combine ignorance and arrogance.

Be aware but ignorant towards the potential pitfalls. To do this requires arrogance.


Because everyone (including you, mostly you) will be saying things trying to prevent you from ignoring the potential bad outcomes. Listening to them may prevent you from failing but it also prevents you from winning.

What’s the worst that can happen?

The thing you dreamed of trying to do didn’t work out? No worries. You just did both. You learned and you did.

Now you’ve got a story to share. And people will read about it.

The Industrial Bin Diver

I needed this.

Tim was telling me how he spent an hour and a half walking around with a guy who dives into industrial bins.

I was making coffee.

I needed this. I heard him but he said it again.

What happened?

Me and this guy were walking around the city last night. I came out of gym at 11:30 and saw him and he saw me and we started talking.

Tim kept going.

He was dressed in high vis. He said people don’t get suspicious if you’re dressed in high vis. And he had this table with him and a book shelf. It was a nice table.

I spoke.

What? How’d he get them?

Tim held his hands up to show the shape of a table.

This guy said people just throw this stuff out. If a building orders the wrong size, they throw it out. It’s all new stuff but they just get rid of it.

He put his hands down. I started speaking.

Wait, he goes through different industrial bins looking for stuff?

Yeah, his van had boxes of screws, bolts, all kinds of things. We were talking for about an hour but then it turned a bit kooky. So I went home.

That’s incredible.

We both chuckled.

The coffee was ready. The stuff with the mushrooms. It’s supposed to improve focus. I like the name of it. Lion’s mane. That’s the mushroom.

We picked up our coffees and went back to our desks. Starting the morning with coffee and laughter is a good way to start the day. Coffee and laughter.

The guy diving dumpsters taught me something. I didn’t even meet him. That’s the power of stories. Some people get rid of things others find valuable. The idea of worth is different from person to person. What I find valuable might be worthless to someone else. What the builders threw into the bins was worthless to them. It didn’t fit. But this guy is making a living off it.

It doesn’t mean you should start looking in other peoples bins. Maybe that’s illegal. If you do start, you can figure it out. But it means your value systems don’t have to align to everyone else's.

You can take the best from each and create your own.

When you’ll do you’ll realise you’ve made the right choice.

You’ll think.

I needed this.

The business of education

Whatever business you’re in, you’re in the education business.

Here’s why.

If people don’t know how or why they should use your product or service, they won’t use it.

A mistake I see viewing different product pages is a lack.

A lack of explanation of what your service does.

A lack of examples of your product in action.

An over balance of features versus benefits.

“How will my product benefit someone who uses it?”

That’s it. That’s what you should be striving to answer.

Most decisions are made to avoid loss.

If we have to choose something we don’t understand, there’s a high potential for loss.

But if there’s a clear benefit, the cash register will ring.

Time and leverage

Trading time for money makes it hard to build real wealth.

To build real wealth, you need leverage.

What does this look like?

Working on your own you only have the earning potential of yourself.

Running a business of 10 people you have the earning potential of 10 people.

Creating scalable assets increases this earning potential exponentially.

Code and media are borderless scalable assets. They are the leverage behind the newly rich.

It's how you see startups of four people build things which millions of people use.

It's how 1 person YouTube channels have millions of subscribers.

Scalable assets work for you whilst you sleep.

The best thing?

Building these types of assets also makes it far easier to bring value to others on a global scale.

The market has flipped — 7 Business Tips from Sam Ovens

I’m a firm believer the best mentor is someone who is a few years in front of you.

And it has nothing to do with age. It’s got to do with mission.

What do you want to achieve in the next 3-5 years?

If you’re looking for advice, you should look for people who have been through a similar journey in a similar timeframe.

Any longer than a few years in front and the advice gets hazy.

How well do you remember the details of your day-to-day 6-years ago? Or longer?

Over the past 6-7 years, Sam Ovens has built a $30 million per year business. At the time of writing he’s 29. I’m 25.

In his latest video, he shares some of the things he has been thinking about. To make sure they sink in, I’ve summarised them in my own words here.

1. The market has flipped

Before the internet, the balance used to be, spend 80% of your time shouting about how good your product is (sales and marketing) and 20% actually building a good product.

Now, your product is discoverable. If it’s good, people will search for it. People will talk about it.

Spend 80% of your time making your product or service better and 20% telling people about it.

Don’t be confused by page views or likes or any other metric which doesn’t relate to improving your business.

2. Value remains King

Business school be summed up in one sentence.

“Bring someone else enough value for them to pay you.”

That’s it. That’s all you have to do.

Don’t over complicate it.

If your product or service brings more value to someone than your competition, you will win.

3. The most value comes from the best team

At the start, your business can be all you.

You can be 100% of the talent. You can do 100% of the tasks.

But as you go, if you want to expand, you’ll have to recruit help.

If it’s only you, you’ll be beaten as soon as someone hires a couple of talented people to work on the same thing.

If you want your business to grow beyond solopreneur status, don’t be the only talented person on your team.

Team will always be the most valuable asset you can build.

4. Hire intelligent, unorthodox athletes

“I want to hire intelligent, unorthodox, athletes.”

Intelligence is like horsepower. Useless on its own but powerful when applied. Looking for someone with a specific set of skills may be more difficult than finding someone who already has a great foundation of intelligence and then enabling them to apply it.

The world is changing. Always. This is the only guarantee in business. What got you to where you are last year, might not even move the needle next year. Unorthodox people question the status quo. They ask why. They’re not afraid to have strong opinions and back them up. They’re the ones who are willing to try something different.

Business is competition. Even if you tell yourself it isn’t, you’ll be competing against someone. Another business, a changing world or most importantly, yourself. Athletes understand competition. They thrive in it.

Combine these three and you have yourself a recipe for a potential great hire.

5. Recruitment is a David vs. Goliath problem

Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, all the rest. These companies are all looking for the best talent.

If you’re a small business, it can be hard to convince someone to come and work for you to begin with.

Add in the billions of dollars and brand power of the companies above and you’ve got a David vs. Goliath problem.

If your number 1 focus is recruiting a great team, what do you think theirs is?

So how do you win?

6. Play “Moneyball” to win the recruitment game

In the movie Moneyball, there’s a baseball team who doesn’t have the budget of some of the other teams in the league.

Instead of trying to go for all the best players, the ones with high batting averages and great pitching, they look at the other stats.

Their analyst looks through the league, combing for players who don’t necessarily cut it for the big contracts but are on the fringe.

The team ends up winning a record number of games straight with only a portion the budget of the bigger teams.

Find the people whose talents haven’t yet been fully discovered. Then when they come on board, get out of their way and empower them to use them.

Note: This is hard. Really hard. Hence why if you’re looking to expand your business, you should be dedicating a lot of time to recruitment (80-90% in Sam’s case).

7. No one ever built a pyramid alone

“One of my worst fears is being old and not being able to work and not being able to let the business I’ve built run without me.”

The quote above isn’t word for word. But it’s what I remember.

Thousands of people collaborated to build the pyramids. An effort which spanned decades.

When you’re starting out, your focus should be on short-term cashflow. Earning enough money to keep your business going and growing.

But as you reach a stage where the business can sustain itself without too high of a focus on short-term cash flow, if you want to build something of pyramid status, your focus should shift to the long term.

This all comes back to having a strong team and continually bringing value to the most important people. Your customers.

I find it invaluable to have these kind of lessons being shared so accessibly.

You can watch the full video on Sam Ovens’s YouTube channel.