Welcome to the October 2018 edition of AidanBooth.com!
This month I’m doing something I’ve never done before… I’m interviewing myself using the questions that Tim Ferriss uses to interview his ‘Tribe of Mentors’ (in his book, Tribe of Mentors).
I love this book, it’s easy reading, and is jam packed with advice from entrepreneurs and leaders from all corners of the globe.
Here’s what would go in the Aidan Booth chapter
What are your most important “life lessons”? I’d love to find out or to answer any questions you may have, leave a comment below!
How has failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favorite failure” of yours?
I’ve had PLENTY of failures over the years, but if I look back in time and connect the dots, there are a couple that stand out.
One would be my first every website, which I made in 2005… check it out:
Although this website was a massive failure (it didn’t make a dime!), I never had a plan of attack to make it succeed, or any expectations of success at all.
It was a learning project for me where I wanted to understand the process of building a website and uploading it to the web. The project was hugely motivational, as I had a sense that once I knew the bare basics, I could definitely learn the things I was missing and succeed.
Fast forward five or six years, and another important failure comes to mind…
After having built over 1,000 websites in the Halloween niche (each website targeting a specific costumer), I was all ready to cash in during the Halloween sales surge.
My plan was tracking well… I was earning about $500 per day, with my websites set to start earning $5,000+/day in a matter of weeks… then something terrible happened!
Google changed its ranking algorithm, my websites lost their top rankings, which meant I lost traffic and most of the earnings I’d expected to cash in on.
Instead of earning $100k+ from the Halloween season, maybe I took home $20k… not a complete disaster, but nowhere near what I’d hoped for (I later sold all 1,000 websites for another big pay day).
This was a big lesson for me. I’d been leveraging a loophole which got closed up. Moving forward I focused my efforts on “eCommerce” websites (selling physical products through my own stores), and mastering multiple sources of traffic so that I wouldn’t be caught reliant on just one traffic stream again. I made a conscious decision NOT to focus on any loophole or short-term money maker, and instead build businesses that would pay off for many years to come.
What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the past six months (or in recent memory)?
Audible. I first used Audible to listen to audio books years ago, but for some reason stopped. I re-started my $15/month Audible subscription recently, and it’s helping me absorb so much more information in a way that’s working!
I still love reading books, and I read every single day, but Audible has allowed me to double how much I can “read” without needing to double the reading time. I do this by listening to audio books while walking, shopping in the supermarket, going from A to B in a taxi, travelling through airports and in many other situations as well.
What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?
Rich Dad Poor Dad (Robert Kiyosaki) set off light-bulbs in my head and introduced me to the world of real estate investing and ignited a passion for property. I’ve since read dozens of books about property investment, purchased dozens of properties around the world, and built a six-figure passive income from property.
What I liked about Rich Dad Poor Dad when I first read it is that it broke down potentially confusing topics into simple concepts that anyone could understand, and taught using story, which is much more engaging and inspiring than a text book approach (at least to me!).
Positioning (Al Ries and Jack Trout), Blue Ocean Strategy (W. Chan Kim and Renée A. Mauborgne), and Differentiate or Die (Jack Trout and Steve Rivkin) have all hugely impacted my approach to the keys to success in marketing, all three are fantastic books.
Influence (Robert Cialdini) and The Adweek Copywriting Handbook (Joseph Sugarman) extended on the marketing principles in the three books I mentioned previously, specifically diving deeper into human psychology. These two books have made me millions of dollars.
One final book I’d recommend any person with aspirations to be better read is The Slight Edge, by Jeff Olsen. This book explains what so often separates the people who crush it with those who get mediocre results in life.
What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made?
In terms of a financial investment, the first couple of properties I purchased were undoubtedly the most worthwhile (one in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and one in Auckland, New Zealand). They taught me important lessons about property investment, gave me belief that I could do it, and both gave me great financial returns as well.
But in the broader sense of the word, my best investments have ALL been related to education, and mostly in self-educating.
Reading books, studying through online programs and courses, attending conferences, and getting one-on-one mentoring, these have all paid off big time. I think every dollar I’ve ever spent in education has probably returned to me 100x over.
In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?
I’ll give you two, the first is exercise related, and that is swimming.
I started swimming (with a coach) back in 2010, and the health benefits I’ve seen over a period of 8+ years have been unmatched by any other kind of exercise I’ve done in the past. I swim twice per week, about one hour each session, and about 2 miles (3.2km) each time.
In addition to the physical benefits of swimming, it also gives me a mental edge, by giving my brain a chance to discharge each week from the challenges life and business throw at me.
The second new habit, which I have adopted in the last five years, is to only fly in Business Class on long-haul flights. Long haul probably means 8 hours or more to most people, but for me if I’m flying for anything over 5 hours, I go business. Given that I live in Argentina, and most of my travel is to either the USA, Europe, or New Zealand, most of my flights are 9 hours or more.
Now this habit may sound a little odd to choose as something that has improved my life, but I genuinely believe that it has, and that it’s been worth every penny.
When I travel for work in particular, I can get on a plane, lie flat, sleep the entire night, and wake up fresh and ready to perform the next morning. I can’t do this traveling in economy (at least not on long haul flights).
How can I justify paying the premium for business class travel?
Firstly, the added value I get from feeling refreshed and energized on the day of arrival (after having a good nights sleep) justifies the expense for me. When traveling for work, I almost ALWAYS have meetings on the day of arrival, and being “off” just isn’t an option.
And in addition to that, if I work for a couple of hours while traveling, then the value of this work time also needs to be taken into consideration (it’s not very comfortable to work on a laptop in coach class)… you’ll reach a certain point where one hour of your time is FAR more valuable to your business (in terms of the money it generates you) than the cost of upgrading to Business Class.
Prior to traveling in business class for the first time, I would have easily clocked up 100,000 miles (160,000 km) traveling in coach (this is like circling the globe four times), so I have a fair idea of coach class travel, it’s fine for all intents and purposes, and the only option for most people who travel. Once you earn enough to travel in business class however, I think it’s worth setting aside a ‘business class budget’ that caters to your travel needs.
If you’re going to do this, I suggest you actually do set a budget so that you feel the price is accounted for, otherwise you’ll always find you make the comparison of the cost difference to traveling in coach, and what you could have otherwise purchased for that difference.
If you could have a giant billboard anywhere with anything on it, what would it say, and why?
Think about what you truly want in life, and design your own path to acquire it.
Most people tend to wander quite aimlessly through life, getting tugged in different directions. I’m a firm believer that you can achieve almost anything when you set your mind to it, so figure out what you want, then figure out how to make it a reality.
What is an unusual habit or absurd thing that you love?
I carry a weird coin with me in my wallet at all times… I don’t think of myself as being superstitious, but for some reason, I kept this coin and it’s been with me ever since.
When I purchased my first property in Argentina back in 2006, an old run-down apartment in a 100-year old apartment building, there were a lot of renovations that needed to be done.
The first part of the process was to knock out all the old walls, and strip the apartment back to the original bricks in the walls.
While taking to the walls with a sledgehammer, I discovered some hidden treasure. There was a sealed off section, and inside it I found CASH!
I couldn’t believe my eyes… strangely enough, my wife’s grandmother had told me to keep an eye out in the walls, as people used to hide money there… and sure enough, I hit the jackpot.
The money was worthless, a bunch of old Argentine ‘pesos’ and Bolivian ‘bolivianos’ with no street value, but one old ten peso coin has travelled with me ever since.
In the last five years, what have you become better at saying no to? What new realizations and/or approaches helped? Any other tips?
Since my son was born in 2016, I’ve become far more protective of my time and more ruthless in choosing which time commitments to make, and which to avoid. If a time commitment doesn’t add value to my business or my personal life, I’ll avoid doing it.
This approach has had pretty good results for me. I have a lot of quality time with my family every day, more meaningful and productive work time, and time for myself as well.
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?
The first thing I like to do is get outside, and ideally go for a run. This always helps to clear my mind and allows me to see the bigger picture.
The second thing I do is to get a change of scenery.
In it’s simplest form, a change of scenery may mean that I work from a coffee shop for an afternoon instead of from my office. The extreme case could be packing up the family and shifting to the French Alps for a few months.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
I’ll answer this from what I see in the ‘building an online business’ arena. I repeatedly see people peddling new hacks and tactics, and loopholes to get ahead.
While these are fine and while they certainly have their place, they’re NOT the things you should build a business around.
Focus on the key levers, the things that will make your business succeed, and build a plan around them. Throw the tactics and hacks into your toolbox, and pull them out when they help solve a problem or achieve an objective, but don’t spend all of your time learning about tactics and hacks, they’re merely a means to an end.
What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore?
Firstly, I don’t think what I’m about to share is only applicable to a college student, I think this applies to almost anyone, especially if you’re unhappy or feel unfulfilled with your life.
My response to the questions is this:
Avoid falling into the trap of doing what’s perceived as “the good move” by society and your friends and loved ones, and find out what you really want to do for yourself in life.
When I was in college (we call it University in New Zealand!), I studied Engineering and Industrial Management. I had set myself up to be a well-paid factory manager, or at least have a decent paid “respectable” job, one where I’d probably have plenty of challenges, and never struggle to find a job, or to make ends meet.
Life took me down a different path though.
During the summer break between my third and fourth years of college I did a ski season in Lake Tahoe, California, which is when I met my wife. One year later I graduated, and shifted to Argentina (my wife is from Buenos Aires).
Living in Argentina FORCED me to reevaluate.
What should I do now?
I had a few options:
Option A) I could learn Spanish and get a decent job in Argentina, which was one reasonable plan that would have a predictable and reasonable outcome.
Option B) Another plan was to build a local business of my own, which I did. I started a Spanish school for foreigners in Buenos Aires. The business was very successful, I sold up when my wife and I left Argentina to live in Europe. Building this school from the ground up was my first big venture into the world of being an entrepreneur, and I LOVED it.
Option C) The other plan was to try to build a business I could run online, regardless of my location. This appealed to me the most, because if I did it right, I knew I’d have the potential to be anywhere, but also tap into an almost limitless marketplace. So I researched a LOT, and eventually started an online business.
I wish I’d been open minded enough, and entrepreneurial enough to think of Option B or Option C while still in college, perhaps I’d have had a head start or would have thought of other even better online business ideas.
I’m grateful that life forced me to think this through, and to choose my own path, and I’d recommend smart, driven college student think long and hard about what they really want to do, before falling into doing what just seems like a good idea (the thing that society, family, and friends all approve of).
What are your most important “life lessons”? I’d love to find out or to answer any questions you may have, leave a comment below!
Thanks for visiting,