Interview with Dan Martell
Building a Business and Life You Don’t Grow to Hate with Dan Martell
Today, I’m talking with Dan Martell – an award-winning entrepreneur, angel investor, thought leader, and highly sought-after coach in the software as a service industry.
He founded, scaled, and successfully exited three technology companies within a ten year period. In 2012 he was named Canada’s top angel investor, having invested in more than fifty start-ups, such as Intercom, Udemy, and Unbounce.
In 2016 Dan founded the SaaS Academy and grew it to become one of the largest coaching companies in the world.
In this episode, you’ll learn:
✅ Dan’s jaw-dropping comeback story, from life behind bars to becoming a multi-millionaire and leader of one of the world’s premier SaaS coaching businesses.
✅ The power of hiring a great coach – and how it can help you avoid costly mistakes… or what Dan calls “stupid tax.”
✅ How to combat “time assassins”, buy back your time, and build a business you don’t grow to hate.
Featured on This Episode: Dan Martell
✅ What he does: Dan Martell is the founder and CEO of SaaS Academy, the world’s #1 coaching program for B2B SaaS founders. He’s also a serial entrepreneur, triathlete, investor, author, husband, and father.
Dan’s a 5x SaaS founder with three successful exits, including companies such as Clarity.fm, Spheric, and Flowtown. Since founding SaaS Academy, he’s coached 1000+ B2B SaaS founders to scale confidently. On average, his SaaS Academy students have increased their MRR by 209% within six months.
💬 Words of wisdom: “Most people don’t invest in their businesses because they don’t trust themselves.” – Dan Martell
Key Takeaways with Dan Martell
- Why Dan has no plans to retire
- The only thing you control is your actions
- From jail at 17 to multi-millionaire at 27
- Readers are leaders
- Great coaches help you avoid costly mistakes
- The dangers of having no purpose at 28
- Great things wait outside your comfort zone
- The Buyback Principle
- Why buy back time if all you do is waste it?
- Don’t wish it were easy, aim to get better
- No more excuses, time to prioritize
Clips from the Show with Dan Martell
Free Strategy Session
The Lifestyle Investor Insider
Dan Martell Tweetables
- Dan Martell on TikTok | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube | Twitter | LinkedIn
- Buy Back Your Time: Get Unstuck, Reclaim Your Freedom, and Build Your Empire by Dan Martell
- Portage Atlantic
- Front Row Dads
- Jon Vroman
- The E Myth: Why Most Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael E. Gerber
- Michael Hyatt
- Jason Drees
- Brandon Turner
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Read the Full Transcript with Dan Martell
Justin Donald: What’s up, Dan? So glad to have you on the show.
Dan Martell: Hey, Justin. It’s my privilege and pleasure. I’m super excited to be here.
Justin Donald: This is cool. Well, you and I have a number of mutual friends. I’ve heard about you for a while. I’ve got a lot of people that they know what I teach and what I love to share on and they said, “You have to connect with Dan. You two have such a similar message.” So, I started going down the rabbit hole on you and your work and have been very impressed. And so, I’m really looking forward to our time here today.
Dan Martell: Oh, that’s super fun. And yeah, I’m excited to dive in. It sounds like we share the same philosophies and beliefs around, especially time.
Justin Donald: Yeah, there’s no doubt. I mean, we can make a ton of money and there’s always going to be more money that you can make. That’s like the unquenchable thirst, right? So, what you don’t get more of is time. That is finite, right? Money is infinite. Time is finite. And so, I love talking about strategies where you can buy it back now because the whole financial system is set to like say, “Hey, when you retire, when you turn 65, then you’re going to have all this time to do all these things.” But a lot of people don’t have their health then. A lot of people don’t have the energy then. A lot of people, you know, they don’t make it until then, unfortunately.
Dan Martell: Yeah. The whole idea of retiring, I’ve never been on board with. If you actually look at the studies, it was actually introduced in like I think it was in the 30s as a way to get the kind of elderly population out of the workforce to make room for the younger folks. And it turns out that humans in general don’t do good if they don’t have a purpose for why they get up. So, the whole subtitle of my book is Build Your Empire, and the whole idea behind an empire for me is a life of unlimited creation that you never have to retire from. So, that’s my philosophy, and that’s kind of how I wake up and run my day.
Justin Donald: I love it. Yeah. And by the way, if you check out the studies, for those of you that don’t know this, the moment, you don’t have purpose, you’ve retired, you don’t have something that you’re pursuing, disease goes through the roof and death goes through the roof. And there’s some crazy statistic that if you have like no mission, no job, nothing that you’re pursuing, that the likelihood of death within five years of retiring is astronomically high.
Dan Martell: That’s crazy.
Justin Donald: Yeah. So, I totally support what you’re saying. And by the way, major shout out to you that we’re even having this podcast today because you guys just were evacuated out of your home in Canada. You moved to Whistler here. I mean, so I’d love to just kind of hear what’s going on.
Dan Martell: Yeah. I mean, if you look up the news depending on when you watch this but right now there are these wildfires up in British Columbia. I live in a place called Kelowna B.C. in Canada. And about it was four days ago where there was what started off as kind of a fairly small, I mean, we get forest fires all the time. I mean, there’s always in the summertime because it’s so dry where we’re at, it’s kind of common but it went from like a 50 acre, 50 hectare, I think, fire to almost 50,000 within 24 hours. Yeah. That’s crazy. It threatened the whole city. Our neighborhood got evacuated, many of our friends, and having it happen a few weeks after Maui, we just kind of all got on a phone call and late at night we packed up and left and went to the coast. And so, we’re in Whistler right now. Three other families just doing life every day, you know, hiking and trying to make some lemonade out of lemons but I think it’s turned into a bit of a pretty fun vacation. And the big thing was to help protect the kids. We just wanted to make sure that, you know, we could have stayed in our hometown but we would have been staying with friends and there’d be smoke in the air and there’d be anxiety and concern. And with this, we’re in like paradise wilderness. And it allows everybody to kind of control the controllables. And I mean, that’s a big life philosophy for me is we can’t control the weather or the wind but we can control how we set the sails. And that’s always been my approach.
Justin Donald: Yeah. I think we’d be right on that game plan. My wife is very much about controlling what you can control. And then together, we like to make adventures out of stuff. So, again, you take a bad situation and how can we find the silver lining of this situation, which you seem to be really good at too.
Dan Martell: Yeah.
Justin Donald: So, I’m curious how you got into kind of like the space, the business that you got to because I remember reading about Abraham Lincoln and how many times he failed before he actually became president. And so, your story is checkered with a lot of failures early on that likely you see as stepping stones to where you are today but I think most people would not have made it. I think your story would have held a lot of people back. But I’d love for you to share it for those that don’t know it.
Dan Martell: Yeah. I mean, the odds that I’m alive right now is pretty much zero. I grew up in an environment where my mom was an alcoholic and my dad was traveling a lot. I’m the second oldest of four, and it created a lot of conflict. I don’t like to get into the specifics but I grew up with a lot of, you know, just an emotionally tough childhood and ended up in group homes, crisis centers, foster care when I was a kid and eventually got introduced to drugs, which caused my life to spiral out of control to a place where I ended up in prison twice by the age of 17. And luckily, there was a moment where I almost took my life. I was in a high-speed chase and I had a handgun sitting next to me, and I told myself that if the cop stopped me, I was going to pull the gun and let them take my life. And for whatever reason, when I ended up crashing the car inside of a house, it got stuck and I got arrested. The cops grabbed me and eventually, I got put into a rehab center and it was actually in this therapeutic community, this place called Portage in the province of New Brunswick. Sussex is the city. That’s where I really learned about my emotions and learned about what made me tick and my self-worth. And I did 11 months in this program, and at the end of it, I was helping Rick, the maintenance guy, clean out one of the cabins. And there was an old book on Java programming in this old 486 computer and I just opened the book and entered in the instructions. And within 20 minutes, I got the computer to say, “Hello world.”
Justin Donald: Wow.
Dan Martell: Yeah. It was just funny because it kind of made me question my skills. Like, I don’t know, I didn’t have a lot of, I don’t know if anybody can resonate or even yourself. When I was growing up, I just didn’t have any confidence. And here was I did this thing with this computer. I never touched a computer in my whole life. And right or wrong, I just became obsessed with it. I remember getting out and my dad made a commitment to me. He said, “You know, as long as you finish the books, I’ll buy you whatever computer books you want.” And we bought this whole computer and I just followed what they wrote about in the books. And I kind of taught myself how to code at a very young age. I was 17 at the time and got into entrepreneurship and it became the ultimate personal development program for me. So, to go from that at 17, and one of the things I’m most proud of is that like I continue to go back and work with these kids and I was just there a few weeks ago speaking at this facility. And at-risk youth is a big part of my life. But to go from that to build and exited three software companies becoming a multi-millionaire when I was 27, investing in, you know, I was named one of the top angel investors in all of Canada.
But a decade ago, I had a $100 million fund now where we buy software companies. I run the largest software coaching organization. And then the book was almost a by-product of teaching all these software CEOs how to scale companies in a very unique, different way that I was taught from my mentors. So, to then write a Wall Street Journal bestselling book on the topic that it’s just how I live my life. It’s been kind of a dream. I’m not going to lie. I sometimes look back at where I came from and where I’m at today and I have to really pinch myself. I’ve got a beautiful family and you have the privilege of traveling the world, and I’ve got really rich relationships with a lot of people I care about a lot. And I just wake up every day to try to create and add value to other people’s lives and support other people’s dreams and goals because so many people showed up for me.
Justin Donald: Well, that’s incredible. It sounds like your parents really showed up, your dad specifically. And I’m in a group called Front Row Dads, and we both are friends with Jon Vroman. He’s one of my closest friends. And so, I’m one of the original founding members of this group. And so, we’re always talking about how to be better parents. But when I hear your dad say, “Hey, you read the book, you got to read it all, but I will buy you unlimited books,” I mean, what a great parenting move right there to support you but to also kind of like reinforce the behavior too, right?
Dan Martell: Totally. I mean, yeah, I think at a young age I learned a few things from my dad in that instance. One, his belief in education and not like going to university, but like self-education. I think most people go to high school or university and like when they’re done, they think they’re done. I think the stats are that most people never read a book on personal development after or they don’t even read any book to improve themselves, right? Most of the stuff they’re reading is to distract themselves and entertain themselves, not educate. So, I learned at 17 that all of the world’s knowledge, all the stuff that you want to learn, all the things to make you better, are available for $20. Like, the coolest thing in the world is to trade a $20 bill to acquire somebody’s 30 years of experience in 6 hours, right, which is the average length of a book. So, I just became absolutely obsessed with studying, not even reading books, studying books, and just using them as my guides to improve, to grow, to achieve things, to just dream a little bit bigger. And I just think that’s, you know, I’m just so grateful that my dad believed in that. He never said it that way but that was definitely one of the things I took away from his decision and buying the books for me.
Justin Donald: Well, it’s pretty incredible that you could then move into it. So, it’s almost like you’re building this education, you’re gaining this confidence you never had because you found something you like, you’re actually good at it, but then you start a business with it, right, and you start this tech company. And that company failed. And you said, “You know what, I’m going to start a different company. I’m going to start a hosting company.” And then that company failed. And then you went into consulting and you hated it, right? You did that for a few years, but then you had experience under your belt. You knew what it was like to fail a couple of times in a couple of different industries. You knew what it was like to consult and you’re consulting likely some companies that have some, you know, I would say some reasonable success. You’re seeing a roadmap or a blueprint to some of that because your next company was the first big one, right? I’d love to know more about that.
Dan Martell: Yeah. So, what happened for me was so I was doing consulting with like Fortune 500 companies but the thing that changed when I was 23 that I would encourage everybody listening to consider is finally I read a book called The E-Myth, The Entrepreneur Myth by Micheel Gerber.
Justin Donald: Great book.
Dan Martell: A classic, right? Sold like 10 million copies. And after reading that, I realized that the thing that I didn’t understand how to do was actually be the entrepreneur. So, as a software developer, I started these companies that build these apps, and I was good at building software like that skill what Gerber calls a technician, I was great at. But what I didn’t understand was the business side, things like finance and strategy and project management and leadership and all these things that are actually what entrepreneurs do. Like, they create, they see the future. So, I hired an E-Myth coach, this guy named Bob. He was my first coach ever. I think I was paying like $1,500 a month U.S. at the time. I’m Canadian, so that’s real money. And I didn’t even have a company. I’m 23 years old and going into my third company, Spheric Technologies, with Bob’s guidance and mentorship. Looking back, I just laugh because I always tell people like, “A great coach helps you avoid paying the stupid tax.” Like, I paid a lot of stupid tax from 17 to 24, essentially, which isn’t a long time but, I mean, I could have got there much faster. And within the first year, we did almost a million in revenue and that 100% came as because, like again, I knew the art of what I did. I just didn’t understand how to take that and translate it into the business side.
And since then, I mean, for me personally, I’ve always had a coach. I have five coaches right now. There’s five different areas of my life that I want to be world-class at, and I invest in those areas with hiring the people that have the frameworks that have the results so I can again avoid paying the stupid taxes. Most people, if you ask them, if they’ve ever gotten good at playing guitar or they were an athlete or they’ve accomplished anything meaningful, if you could go back and redo it, knowing what you know now, how much quicker could you get there, and at minimum, it’s a third of the time, right? Or three times faster. And that to me is like, so do I want to take three times longer to get the outcome or am I just going to invest in myself to find the person that can give me the answers to the test? So, that’s the big thing that’s shifted with Spheric Technologies and why we exited the company four years later. It’s just a massive, we were one of the fastest-growing companies in Canada and it made me wealthy. And then to take that and then continue that journey for the last, you know, I sold that company in 2008, I mean, it’s been pretty interesting. It’s just been a philosophy that I’ve never moved away from. If anything, I doubled down on it.
Justin Donald: Yeah. You know, it’s interesting. Your point on coaches is so profound. And by the way, I recently did a podcast with a coach and actually with two coaches, one of them being my coach and one of them being a coach that I’ve never used. One of them being Michael Hyatt, who I’ve hired, and Jason Drees, who I haven’t hired, but Brandon Turner uses him. And the whole thing is, if you can find someone that has actually done the thing you want to do successfully so in other words, you’ve done your homework, you’ve done your due diligence, you know that this person is actually an expert at what they say they’re an expert at because we live in a world where everyone is a coach today, right? A life coach of some sort. But if you know that they’ve actually done what you want to do, why on earth would you not pay them? You know, I mean, you’re basically cutting the learning curve in a third, as you said, or let’s say you’re a slow learner, so you cut it in half, right? I mean, it makes all the sense in the world. So, to me, it’s the happiest money I spend, some of the happiest money I spend because I know that I’m getting ahead with it.
You know, something that is interesting about your company, and I’d love to know any of the specifics you’re willing to share, but I believe you bootstrapped your company. You didn’t bring VCs in, which means so generally when you’re starting a company, you’re either going the route of raising money and your VCs are going to own about 25% of your company, maybe more, or you’re going to bootstrap route where that’s not the case. And over time, as they raise more money, you can get diluted even more. On the one side, if you’re bootstrapping, then you’re keeping the majority of the equity. With your exit, this first exit, it was a four-year start to finish. What are some of the numbers you’re willing to share just to give perspective of maybe like what you, you know, revenue was zero and you grew it to this or you had a multiple of a certain amount?
Dan Martell: Yeah. I mean, I never share those details in public but it wasn’t, you know, obviously my net worth has grown dramatically since then. But I mean, at 28, quite a few millions in the bank account was real money, right? So, yeah, and like you said, I own 100% of it so that was like after taxes, after all that stuff. It was like I didn’t have to work ever again. And I built this monstrous house, and I got this cottage and a wake surfing boat. Again, I’m 28. I was like, “Oh, I’m going to retire.” I lasted six months. And the reason why, back to the retirement, I like lost my identity. I used to be a very driven person, you know, I had a purpose. I was a workaholic. I mean, I talk about it in the book quite a bit how I went from that type of entrepreneur to the entrepreneur I am today where I’m always looking for leverage, right, but even taking out the workaholic side, waking up every day with a purpose and a structure. And I tell people all the time, one of the biggest regrets I have is the two years after I sold that company, you know, kind of drifting, I did a bunch of investments. I probably invested in a dozen companies. So, I wasn’t doing nothing but I wasn’t showing up in the fully expressed version of myself or what I teach people to become as the template version of themselves. Like, I wasn’t even near that. I was kind of like vacationing.
And so, I just drifted for two years. And when I look at like the potential value of that, that’s probably 150 million like real money of today’s value that could be in my life if I didn’t, you know, not even take my foot off the gas, just not crude, like put it in neutral. I mean, that’s the big thing. So, yeah, at the time it was a very significant exit, especially coming from the situation I came into. And the cool part is I was able to then support my two brothers and my sister, my family, and now my other brother is actually he won… I won the award for fastest growing or number one entrepreneur in all of Canada. I think it was 2009. My brother won it in 2012 or 2011. So, they said if my other brother wins it, my dad’s going to get an award.
Justin Donald: Geez, cool.
Dan Martell: Yeah. But, I mean, it’s just nuts. Like, when we look at like the environment we grew up in and the challenges we went through as a family to the life we live today, it’s kind of, I don’t take it for granted. And that’s why I think I have such a sense of becoming more so that I have more to give so that I have that opportunity to inspire those next generation of kids that are like, “Okay. Should I get into sales? Should I get into software? But I don’t know. I grew up in all this turmoil or this trauma. You know, I don’t have any support.” Like, to me, I get up every day for those kids.
Justin Donald: Yeah, I mean, what a great example that you’re showing when you are giving up and you do have purpose in your life and you’re modeling that because you can say it all day long, but your kids need to see what you’re doing. So, I love hearing that. So, talk about your next two exits. So, did these take as long? Were these shorter? Were the exits, you know, I don’t know if you… I would imagine that you probably weren’t 100% owner of these next ventures, but maybe you were.
Dan Martell: No. So, what’s interesting is, like, my whole thing in life is just speed of learning, right? So, I’m always trying to figure out how can I learn faster. So, first company bootstrap, 100% exited. You know, that was a cool experience but it also meant that I worked way harder than I had to because I was doing everything myself. Then I moved to Silicon Valley and I get some mentors there that show me a completely different way of building companies. So, when I started my next company, Flowtown, actually my co-founder, Ethan, I made him CEO. Even though he was like five, six years younger than me, he was a CEO and we raised a bunch of money and we didn’t give up I think 27% of our company to raise almost $1 million in capital. But we had actually bootstrapped and I funded it to a place where we’re ramen profitable. So, we kept quite a bit of the equity and he was a CEO so it was like kind of my first time buying back my time at the highest level, which is have somebody else run the company. And we grew that company and exited within two and a half years. So, it was a wild ride, 50,000 customers, a multimillion-dollar exit to a company called Demandforce, which we eventually got bought for 600 million. So, like the whole journey was bananas because a lot of kids go to San Francisco with these crazy dreams that someday, hopefully, I’m going to build a company that’s worthy of an investment and raise venture capital and either go public or have a major exit. And I gave myself ten years to do that, and we did it in three.
Justin Donald: Incredible.
Dan Martell: So, yeah, that was really cool. And then the next one was just this crazy idea I couldn’t get out of my head around connecting people over the phone to get advice kind of if LinkedIn had a call button and that was called Clarity and Clarity.fm. I mean, same thing. I got really good at scaling software companies. That’s like the thing. That’s why I run one of the largest coaching and training companies in the world for software CEOs. And that company, that was a two-year ride from raising and we only raised $2 million initial capital, scaled that thing up, and then got acquired by Startups.com within 24 months, 30 months.
Justin Donald: It’s unbelievable.
Dan Martell: Yeah. And so, that was fun. I was CEO of that company but I hired some really good executives to buy back my time. And then after I did that, I kind of took some time off like six months. When I say time off, like still ran my investment portfolio, still looking at deals, but we moved down to San Diego. And while I was there that one of my buddies, Travis, really pushed on me. He’s like, “Dude, you should do video,” because I’d only ever done calls and tweets and blocks like I never did anything on video. I just was a bit shy, I guess. And Travis convinced me to start shooting videos on YouTube, which was so crazy. I’m like, “Dude, why would I do YouTube?” Like, I’ve already got money. I’ve already got relationships. YouTubers are 19-year-old kids that don’t know what they want to do with their lives. Right? And he’s like, “Dude, I think you have some really interesting perspectives that I would love to learn that I don’t know that you know, and I can’t be the only person.”
So, I remember one weekend I borrowed my buddy’s office. He had this really cool office, and I went in there and bought this, like, Cannon. I don’t remember. I asked my buddy what kind of camera I should buy, and I just sat in his office. I just recorded like five or six videos on different things, like, how do you find the purpose of your life and how do you manage your inbox. It’s so funny because I still have all these old videos of me talking about like productivity and things that today were part of my new book, Buy Back Your Time. And to look back at like, you know, this was eight years ago starting doing videos, right? And the reason why I did is because it made me anxious and almost it’s kind of like I knew that if it made me anxious then I had to do it. It’s kind of like anytime I feel that like resistance, I’m like, “Oh, that’s probably the thing I got to lean into.” So, to go eight years ago from never shooting videos, not wanting to be on camera, etcetera, to now having a YouTube channel with over 100,000 subscribers and being ranked in the top ten influencers for the video content I put out. And I think we just have over 130,000 followers on Instagram and our reels get like 30,000 or 40,000. I mean, it’s just nuts but it all started because I decided instead of running from the anxiety, leaning into it. It’s almost like I’ve learned over the years to use the moments where I feel kind of that feeling in my throat where I’m anxious is almost like the guide to say, “Okay. That’s the next skill I got to go learn to kind of become more so I’ve got more to give.”
Justin Donald: Totally, got to get out of your comfort zone and do the things that don’t necessarily come naturally because that’s where a lot of the excitement ends up being, right? Like, if you just stay comfortable, your life may not change as dramatically as you might want. Like, I think you got to get out of that comfort zone and be willing to experience some anxiety and fear, develop some courage, some bravery, develop some proficiency at things that you’re not yet proficient at to be able to scale like lifestyle, scale wealth, scale skillset. So, you talked a lot about buying your time back and there’s a lot of methodologies for how to do that. I’d love to get into more of the specifics on it but one of which you talked about by using leverage and hiring the right people. We all know how painful it can be to hire the wrong people but sometimes that’s the process of figuring out how to hire the right people. So, you can’t not do it. You can’t be afraid to do it. But I’d love to hear your thoughts on that because this was my first experience. I went a different path than you on the side of like passive income. So, I bought assets that produced income. I bought my time back via not people but income-producing assets. But then I had another business where we started to hire the personnel, and so I was able to buy some time back from that business as well. And so, I mean, I think both are amazing. There are a lot of ways to buy your time back but I’d love to get into the nuts and bolts of how you have done it and how you coach it.
Dan Martell: Yeah. I mean, the big idea for me in the buyback principle, which is what the whole book is written about, is that we don’t hire people to grow our businesses. We hire people to buy back our time because if we buy back our time in our calendar, then we’ll have the space to grow our business. So, you’ll get the first if you do the second. Most people do it opposite. They’re a logo designer, and then they get too busy so they hire another logo designer. My whole philosophy is like use your calendar as a feedback loop. So, I teach this process called the buyback loop, which is first audit your calendar for time and energy, what things light you up and make you the most money, then transfer anything on there that’s low cost for somebody else to do that sucks your energy, right? Typically, those are administrative tasks, scheduling, follow-up, document creation, all that stuff, proposal writing, whatever it is. And then the third is fill it up with things that first make you more money. So, if you’re a logo designer, design more logos. And then second, if you’ve got that figured out, then invest in becoming better to have better skills, character traits or beliefs so you become more. Like, the world doesn’t get easier, you just get better. So, that philosophy, it’s kind of funny because it is a business growth. I mean, it’s at the core of everything I do. Like, literally, I look at my calendar three times a year and I go, “Okay. Based on what I’m doing now, does this light me up? Does this increase my enterprise value in all my different assets?”
If I now feel like this is something I don’t want to do anymore, it’s taking my energy or it’s not a good use of my time, there’s no leverage there, then that’s the bucket of stuff that I then put to then go hire people to take that over. Sometimes, like I buy company, so sometimes that’s hiring a CEO. Other times I’m building out a media team and creative writers, and all these different things. So, to me, the philosophy is very simple. I want to teach people how to build businesses they don’t grow to hate because I think most people end up growing a company, it doesn’t matter what industry, and they get to a certain place, what I call the pain line. When they hit that pain line, they decide to either self-sabotage or stall their growth. And all three of those options are just reactions to a situation that you don’t have to be in. You just chose to bring people onto your world. They’re not charged enough for your services or whatever, that cause you to get stuck. And that’s what I help entrepreneurs do is get unstuck.
Justin Donald: Yeah, I love it. I love it. And I think I remember reading in your book about how like 95% of your activities you would transfer to someone else, right? You figure out what the top 5% is and you keep doing that because it’s either, A, highest income-producing or, B, you just really love doing it and then everything else goes to other people, right?
Dan Martell: I mean, 100% and like when I think about it, you know, the 95-5 rule is kind of what you’re talking about is like that 5% for most CEOs, companies that are at a million and a half, 2 million in revenue like the 5% is three things. It’s vision. Do you have a clear articulated vision that your whole team understands and has seen and you communicate it to them? So, like, that’s one part. The other part is people. Do you have the talent you need to go where you’re going? Do you have a way of acquiring that talent? Do you have a structure to retain that talent like the people side of the business? And then the third is the money side, which is do you have the processes in place to monitor how money moves through your company and your cash flow and your cash conversion cycle. It’s like all the financial metrics and the capitalization like, do you have enough capital to grow? Because most people don’t understand that unless they have a positive cash conversion cycle, like every new customer in growth will take and require capital to grow and material out revenue. So, I mean, that could be your full-time job but it’s really everything. So, it’s like if you’re the CEO of a company that’s got enough revenue, like that’s what you should be focused on. Everything else, that’s where your opportunities to transfer to somebody else comes up.
Justin Donald: Yeah. And one of the things that I love that you talk about is time assassins, the things that just absolutely strip you of time. What are some of the major or more common time assassins that you see entrepreneurs following in the trap of or getting in the way of?
Dan Martell: Yeah. There’s five of them in the book, chapter three, where I go over them but I’ll share a few of them that I think are the most kind of nuance where people may not realize it, but like the saver is one of them. You know, I had a friend of mine who was trying to actually grow his coaching group. He had like a mastermind. And they were probably I think he saves 2 million in revenue at the time and he was struggling because every time he did his events, it just felt like a net new production. And it was just energetically and process-wise and just effort, just felt like a lot of work. Three times a year, they had to find a new venue and create all the stuff and then figure out what he’s going to teach and recruit speakers. And it just became, in his calendar, like red, like energy-sucking but yet it was a meaningful component to his business model. 2 million in top-line revenue, he’s probably making about half a million in profit. And he calls me up for advice because we had grown, you know, my coaching company would be one of the largest in the country. And I go, “Well, do you guys have a model for how you do this?” And he’s like, “What do you mean?” I said, “Well, do you have like a framework for how you theme your events and you teach your clients and you walk them through your process of being successful?” And he’s like, “No. How did you learn to do that?” And I said, “Oh, I hired this guy, Simon.” And he’s like, “Cool. Well, does Simon have a book?” And I was like, “I don’t think he has a book, but you can hire him. I can introduce you to him.”
And he’s like, “Well, how much is he?” And I’m like, “I don’t remember. I mean, it was a while ago I worked with him. His prices may have gone up, but it wasn’t like didn’t scare me away. I mean, like, let’s call it, you know, $10,000.” And he’s like. “Oh, geez. Maybe I’ll go see what I can learn online about him first.” And I just thought to myself, here’s a guy that’s got a 2 million a year business that literally he called me because he was thinking of shutting it down that profits him half a million and he’s dragging his feet to make, let’s call it a $10,000 investment in solving his problem from the guy that has solved it at the highest level, that he called for the advice and still couldn’t make the decision. That’s a saver. And savers are funny because they will literally walk over $10 bills to pick up nickels. They don’t realize that holding on to the capital is actually the constraint in them achieving their goals. So, that’s one of them.
Justin Donald: That’s also one that it’s a scarcity mindset, right? It’s like, well, I can’t give up this 10K because this is so important. Not recognizing the 10K is worth millions.
Dan Martell: It’s scarcity mindset. It’s a lack of belief in themselves. You know, most people don’t invest in their businesses because they don’t trust themselves. They don’t trust themselves to do the work from the investment. Like, what if he hired this guy? He gave them the answers to the task, but then he sat on his hands because he’s not willing to do the work. So, like people all the time, most of the people buying courses, books, seminars, coaches, it’s honestly, they can’t. I mean, maybe some people, they’re like, “Oh, I don’t think this coach is going to be able to help me.” I think the fear is that, “Oh, they can help me, but now I’m going to go do the work.” Right? So, there’s a lot of different beliefs that are probably behind people dragging their feet but the saver is a funny one. The other one that really plagued me for many years was the self-medicator, where in different formats, and I don’t care if your self-medication is, you know, I had somebody message me the other day on Instagram. He’s addicted to playing video games, alcohol, drugs, porn addiction. I mean, food, sugar. I mean, there’s all these different addictions. Avoidance could be an addiction, right? And people sometimes it’s so fascinating to watch that when things are going good in their life, they celebrate with alcohol or they go and they celebrate with a great meal. And when things go bad, they do the same thing, right? They drown their sorrows in some substance. They don’t learn to feel.
And then I think of like all the downside. You know, activities are a byproduct of those decisions. And I know that was true for me. I haven’t drank in over 11 years because it just created a lot of conflict in my life, right, what I call emotional shrapnel. And when we’re talking about buying back our time, well, what’s the point in like spending dollars and cents to buy back our time if most of the time that we are wasting or that time is being eaten up by having to fix things that we’ve created in this self-medicated state, in being an avoider and being addicted to playing video games? Instead of attacking the problem, you go spend 20 hours playing video games. It’s like, well, you don’t need to buy back your time. You need to stop doing the sh*t that waste your time. And I think that’s why I had to write that chapter is because – and there’s three other time assassins because that’s why like you could buy back your time just by not doing this stuff. Sometimes people go like, “What do you do to be successful?” And really, what I want to tell them, it’s like, “It’s what I don’t do.” I don’t vape, I don’t gamble, I don’t play video games, I don’t drink, I don’t have addictions to drugs, I don’t generally talk sh*t, I’m not negative, I’m not lazy, I’m not out of shape. You know what I mean? Like, there’s all these things that is what we don’t do that actually allows us to get ahead. It’s not actually what we’re doing, but I mean, as soon as I say that I think doing the opposite is actually what you should be doing.
Justin Donald: Yeah, right.
Dan Martell: Yeah. But those are all time suckers, right? It’s like one time one of my mentors said to me, he goes, “You know, let me tell you a story about this guy, okay? This guy’s got everything. He’s got a 180-foot yacht. He’s got hundreds of supercars, he’s got multiple jets, got multiple homes. He’s got billions of dollars in his bank accounts. He can do anything. But he has a sore throat. And every time he swallows, he has a sore throat. Well, what do you think he thinks about when he’s on his jet if he’s got a sore throat? He thinks about his sore throat.”
Justin Donald: Sore throat.
Dan Martell: So, like, oftentimes people don’t realize that, you know, and there’s a quote that says, like, when we’re healthy, we have 100 dreams and goals but when we’re unhealthy, we only have about one. Right? And if we don’t make time to work on our health, then we’ll have to make time when we have disease or something like that. I just think too often people, they don’t get the perspective. So, like when it comes to the time assassins, these are areas where you’re slowing down your potential and these cost nothing to evaluate, to look in the mirror. And then we get to do the work if we choose to. And then from that place, we get to do more so that we have a company we can actually grow to then buy back more time. It’s funny because if you’re an entrepreneur and you want to grow your business and you have a belief that the more you grow your business, the more chaotic it’s going to be, that’s like me holding a knife to your neck and saying, “Step forward.” Like, you’re not going to do it. Your body’s not going to want to do it. And I think too often that’s what happens, is entrepreneurs have this belief, “Things are crazy now. I finally managed the craziness. If I 10X next month, that would be 10X more crazy, and I just can’t handle it because my calendar would explode.” But it’s not because it has to be that way. It’s that way because you’re not better.
And I think that being honest with ourselves to say like there are people out there that bigger companies than me that work less than me and the reason I don’t do that is because I haven’t figured out how to be better. That concept of just looking yourself in the mirror and say, “Not how do I work harder but how do I get better so that I can have the thing I want, which is the bigger amount of resources called what you want and also the high quality of life.” And if I don’t have that, it’s because they just haven’t figured out how to do it.
Justin Donald: That’s right. And by the way, I’m going to make a strong argument on how most people will say, “Well, I don’t have time to work out. I don’t have time to nurture my body. I don’t have time to be in shape mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally.” You know, you hear this from a lot of busy professionals. And I remember when I got out of shape and it was a really easy excuse. I was starting a business and I didn’t have time, I’m using air quotes, to work out. But the irony is once I started making time and I got back into shape and I was carving out this time that I didn’t think I had, I started being more productive. I started having better thoughts about how to scale. I started having better thoughts about who my staff was. Like, it gave me space to think and decompress but it also gave me a space where your brain can kind of get into theta a little bit like when you’re showering. So, you truly can tap into some wisdom. And so, I actually found it to be some of the most therapeutic time in the world that helped me grow my business. And then, oh yeah, I got in shape. It was just a powerful sequence where I went the wrong direction and my business was not doing me any favors. And then eventually I got in control. I controlled what I could control. And, I mean, really, it catapulted us to success on many levels and in many businesses.
Dan Martell: Yeah. I mean, me and my videographer, Sam, we hit the gym. We were last night, my buddy Nick. And the thing that I keep, I like to say it out loud and just remind people but the pump cures all, right? Like, when you go to the gym and you get your sweat on and I don’t know, maybe it’s a masculine thing or I don’t know. For me, personally, when I lift heavy weights and I and I’m ripping the muscle like the mental clarity that I get, the inspiration that I get, the ability to dream in that state, I mean, I’ve made more money at the gym than probably at my office because those ideas are the seeds that become the big things. And almost like there’s a confidence creation component to it like you’re creating your confidence in those moments where you really want to put the weight down. That’s why I love training with my buddy, Sam, because like we were doing bench press and I was kind of done and he’s like, “Three more.” And I was like, “I don’t got three.” Like, three is pretty aggressive but, hey, turned out I had three. And then in that is just like you start to create a different mental model about your capacity. And I think to your point, like those moments where we decide to make time, right? Because we don’t have time, we get to prioritize it, right? So, if you’re like, “I don’t have time to go to gym,” it’s like, say, “I choose not to make time to go to the gym.” At least that’s honest, right?
Justin Donald: Yep. That’s right. That’s right, 100%. Well, I love just the whole premise of don’t hire to grow your business. Hire to buy your time back because once you have your time back, you have the space to scale. You have the space for fun. You have the space to engage with the people that you enjoy and love most and the topics that fill you up the most. So, I love everything that you’re doing and everything that you stand for. And I’d love for people to figure out where they can learn more about you. So, please tell us where our audience can go to check out more.
Dan Martell: Yeah. For the book, go to BuyBackYourTime.com, again, Wall Street Journal best-selling book. Guarantee, it’ll be exactly what you need if you feel called to that message. And then Dan Martell:, two Ls in Martell in all social platforms. Instagram is one of my favorite. We put out a ton of content on Instagram but my YouTube as well is more I put more how-to in kind of like we’re doing more like day in the life type stuff. But yeah, I’m on all social platforms, TikTok included, and I have a big audience there but I’m not doing dances in a crop top, so I’m pretty proud of myself for that one but, yeah, I’m all over the internet.
Justin Donald: I’m glad to hear that.
Dan Martell: Yeah. Yeah. I keep my self-respect.
Justin Donald: Oh, I love it. Well, that’s so awesome. I have thoroughly enjoyed our time. In fact, we’re going to be sharing a really cool code and link for you to be able to get more information on how to properly delegate to an executive assistant. So, more to come here on that but I like to end every podcast episode with a question for our audience to think about and to take some form of action on and that’s this: What’s one step that you can take today to move towards financial freedom and living the life that you truly desire, one that’s on your terms so, again, not a life by default like most people live, but a life by design? And take just one thing that Dan taught us here today and take some form of action on it. Thanks. And we’ll catch you next week.