Work Less, Achieve More, and Enjoy Life with Joe Sanok – EP 89

Interview with Joe Sanok

Work Less, Achieve More, and Enjoy Life with Joe Sanok

You’ve heard about the four-hour workweek. That’s perhaps a tad unrealistic, but what about a four-day workweek?

It might also seem far-fetched, but many countries and companies work just four days a week to achieve fantastic results. What if we focus more on the outcomes we want to accomplish instead of how much time we spend ‌to accomplish them? Can we learn to work less and do more while having more free time?

Today’s guest, Joe Sanok, would undoubtedly agree. Joe is a speaker, mental health counselor, business consultant, and podcaster. He is the author of Thursday is the New Friday: How to Work Fewer Hours, Make More Money, and Spend Time Doing What You Want. Joe’s work was featured on Forbes, Business Insider, and Huffington Post. He hosts the #1 podcast for counselors, The Practice of the Practice podcast, which has over 100,000 downloads each month.

Today, Joe is helping counselors grow and scale their private practice to a point where they can make more money while working less.

In this episode, we discuss the importance of slowing down so that you can achieve more, how to stay curious about your career, and the work habits and mindset of top performers.

You’ll learn Joe’s tools and strategies that have helped thousands of authors, entrepreneurs, and innovators create the lifestyle and schedule of their dreams. They now work smarter, are more focused, have a greater income, and have more freedom to pursue things that are fulfilling.

Featured on This Episode: Joe Sanok

✅ What he does: Joe Sanok is a speaker, mental health counselor, business consultant, and podcaster. Joe is the author of Thursday is the New Friday: How to Work Fewer Hours, Make More Money, and Spend Time Doing What You Want. It examines how the four-day workweek boosts creativity and productivity. Joe has been featured in Forbes, GOOD Magazine, and Huffington Post. He hosts the popular The Practice of the Practice, the #1 podcast for counselors recognized as one of the Top 50 podcasts worldwide, with over 100,000 downloads each month.

💬 Words of wisdom: “If we stop being paralyzed by perfection and start getting things done, we’re better able to iterate and change and adapt.” – Joe Sanok

🔎 Where to find Joe: Joe Sanok on Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn

Key Takeaways with Joe Sanok

  • Joe’s journey from working in a Community College to building and selling his successful private practice.
  • Want to have a four-day workweek? Learn Joe’s strategy for achieving that.
  • To get more done, you need to slow down to match your brain’s needs. Work smarter, not harder.
  • Do you think limiting your work days means you’ll achieve less? Think again. Learn Joe’s systems for getting more things done in a shorter time.
  • What do your mornings look like? Are you allowing your brain to take a breather before the grind starts?
  • Learn Joe’s ONE thing that made everything else in his life easier.
  • High achievers create different environments for different work tasks.
  • Learn the internal inclinations that are usually associated with top performers.
  • Discover your sprint personality and adjust your workflow accordingly.

Joe Sanok – The Link Between Curiosity and Top Performers

Joe Sanok Tweetables

“Nobody wants to waste money. Nobody wants to have ‘failures.’ But if you can have that curious perspective instead of a pass-fail, that's where you can really succeed.”– Joe Sanok Click To Tweet “In business, the people that succeed most are the ones that value speed over accuracy because they can go back, they can change it, they can reshape, they can reinvigorate it in a different way.” - Joe Sanok Click To Tweet


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Read the Full Transcript with Joe Sanok

Justin Donald: All right. Joe, I’m so excited to have you on the show and it’s just really fun for me when I get to have friends on, people that I know ahead of time, people that I’ve had in my home and that we’ve done Front Row Dads events together in the Florida Keys or wherever it is. And so, I’m just so thankful to have you on.


Joe Sanok: Oh, I’m so excited to be here, Justin.


Justin Donald: Well, you have really an incredible story. What you do professionally, I think, is just so intriguing. I feel like there’s so much that we could unpack. But I’d love for you to share a little bit about your story and professionally how you got to where you are today.


Joe Sanok: Yeah. I took a very traditional kind of route into counseling and psychology. My undergrad was in psychology and comparative religion. I took a year off and traveled around to kind of fall in love with learning again and then did a double master’s degree in counseling, psychology, and community counseling, and left that really not knowing anything about business or leveling up. And so, I got a job at a nonprofit. My first job, I got paid $30,000 a year with a double master’s degree, and then I got a big pay bonus. I paid $40,000 a year to work at a residential facility and just kept kind of growing in regards to the counseling world and worked at community mental health and eventually at a community college after being a foster care supervisor. And my whole world was what my parents had taught me and that’s if you work hard and you study hard, someone else will bless you with a great job. My dad, he was a school psychologist. My mom was a school nurse. So, working for someone else was all that I knew. And so, when I wanted to pay off a little bit of student loan debt, I started this counseling private practice and thought if I see two or three people a week at $100 a session, that’s an extra $1,000 or so a month. I can pay off these student loans faster. And really just started doing this side gig counseling practice, had no idea about websites or SEO or marketing or branding. None of that was on my radar at all.


And in 2012 decided I’m just going to launch a website talking about the business, things I’m learning. You know, I’d read a book and then I’d write a blog post about it. I read another book and do a blog post. And then it was listening to podcasts at the time and thought, “Well, why don’t I just interview people I’m interested in while I’m doing this?” This is all while I had my full-time job. So, I joked that I was a nap-preneur because when my wife at the time and daughters were napping, I’d run up to the attic and record a podcast. And really just I was learning and I figured I’m going to read these books and want to interview people anyway. I might as well just record it. And at the time, there were no podcasts about the business of running a counseling practice. And so, right away I was the number one podcast for counselors in private practice, which is good to find a niche that you’re number one on day one. And then over time, I remember this moment where I left the community college at lunch. I had a boss that was so flexible. I ran over to my counseling practice to do a lunchtime session with a couple.


And so, I have this corner office, four-office suite. I’ve hired a bunch of 1099s and I’m still doing this as a side gig. I have a view of the water. It’s this amazing office. It’s my ideal office with the furniture I want, and I’m just running over there for the side gig. And then I go back to my counseling office at the community college and I go down the stairs to my basement office that has no windows. Like, what am I doing? And I start running the numbers in my head and realize this 5 to 10-hour a week side gig now is making more money than my full-time job. And I’m like, “What if I put even half of 40 hours like an extra 20 hours into this thing? What could it be?” So, when my second child was born, really looked at, “Can I use the full Family and Medical Leave Act to work half time at the college and then half time at my practice?” And the very first month I did that, it was the best month financially. The next month was even better and by the end of the FMLA, I just went to my boss and said, “Unless you want to pay me my full salary for 20 hours a week, I’m going to have to leave.” And she just laughed. We have a great relationship and she’s like, “You know, I can’t do that.” And so, I ended up leaving and that was 2015, and then got up to about 13 clinicians within that practice and then sold that to one of my clinicians in 2019, so exited that. And since 2019, I’ve completely done consulting, podcasting, and helping people start, grow, and scale their practices.


Justin Donald: Well, it’s an incredible story. I love it. Counselor turned entrepreneur turned like let’s employ a whole bunch of other counselors so we’re adding jobs to the world, we’re adding influence to the world, which is great. Then you have an exit and things are just so much more on your terms. So, it’s amazing though, the difference. And by the way, I’ve had a basement office. I’ve had an office for a long time, by the way, for years where one of these offices I had like this little, teeny, tiny window. It’s like the smallest window. You can hardly even call it a window. It was but just no light came in. And so, I can relate on so many levels and I’m so glad I had that experience because I think the scenery matters, the aesthetics matter, and I love that you recognize in your body how that felt, how the dingy basement office compared to the ideal office with a nice view and nice windows that plays a role. The way you feel about what you do really matters. So, I love that you…


Joe Sanok: So glad you say that because, I mean, that’s something even as a father of two girls, constantly teaching them, “You’re in charge of your body,” and just yesterday, my seven-year-old came home. They had an early release so a couple of hours earlier. And I’m like, “What do you guys want to do for the next couple of hours?” Like, my oldest had volleyball around 6, and my seven-year-old said, “I feel like my body needs to do some yoga.” And I’m like what is happening where this generation is so in tune with their body? And, “You know, I think my body needs an apple right now.” If we can teach our kids that and we can live that, it’s amazing how the new – you can do more in business but it also just feels better.


Justin Donald: Yeah. To be in tune with your body and your mind is incredible. To even catch yourself where you’re in your mind, you want to go one way emotionally but a different way like, logically, that’s probably not the reality. You’ve got emotions versus logic. And to even be able to pick that up, I think is an art. So, I love your story. So, you had an exit. Is this an exit that you’re able to get back into? Are you not able to compete with this exit one where you really got to choose whatever you want to do and how you want to spend your time? Because it looks like you’ve made a big shift. And I’m not sure if you’re not in the counseling practice because of a non-compete or if you just said, “Hey, I spent my time and my season of life in this field and now I’m inspired and compelled to do these other things.”


Joe Sanok: Yeah. Really, I was noticing the two years before I sold that I was just disinterested in counseling. I was down to about two or three sessions a week and there were people that I knew were going to see me until the day I closed the doors and I was done with counseling. Also, from a scalability standpoint, when I just looked at my hourly for counseling, which was probably three times the going rate for my area, it still paled in comparison to having a national consulting and membership community. And so, to even just say, if I really want to scale this thing that’s scalable, I need to stop doing the individual sessions and I wasn’t enjoying it. So, I actually, as part of the deal, offered to sign a five-year non-compete because I didn’t want to compete anyway. But then it added value to the company knowing I’m not going to go start another company that’s going to compete. So, I was able to actually exit with more financially by signing that, put my license into retirement status. I don’t have to maintain the insurance for the license. But really it was I felt that the helping therapists address the mental health crisis in America, be able to make more money, live the lifestyle that they want, to me, that was way more compelling than anything else at that point.


Justin Donald: Yeah. So, talk about that. So, by the way, I’m the biggest fan for finding a way to have impact and then being able to participate in that financially where you can win from the standpoint of money earned, time spent, how you want to live your life but that you can have great impact. And I think that there’s this, you know, one kind of fuels the other. So, a lot of people may not recognize or maybe they do. I think subconsciously we all do that the more value you bring, the greater impact, the greater influence, the greater your opportunity to earn, right? And so, I like that there’s purpose behind what you’re doing but I also like that you get to participate and experience utility from the sacrifices that you make in being in business. So, I’d love to hear your thought process on that.


Joe Sanok: Yeah. You know, early on in my career, before I even left the community college, I read The ONE Thing that our mutual friend, Jay Papasan and Gary Keller, wrote and really took it to heart and started to really think through what is something that if I do that, it’s going to make everything else easier? And so, early on, it was if I can just have my consulting be 2 to 3 times what my hourly is for counseling, if I just had a handful of those people and had that focus, that would be amazing. And so, I did that and then moved into small mastermind groups and then moved into a membership community and multiple membership communities. And then in late 2018 I really said, “If I had a book that I wrote that went through a traditional publisher like HarperCollins, that would be a game-changer. It would be so much more different for me to have it traditionally published, to be able to get big media, and to think through my process in a different way.” And so, I hired a book coach to really help me with writing the proposal, spent almost a year working with her, just kind of puking up all my thoughts. She’d say, “Well, how would you handle this? How would you handle that?” And she was parsing out like, “What’s something Joe is regurgitating and what’s something that’s really his original method?”


And as we went through it, really figuring out that working fewer hours and having at least a four-day workweek for me was one thing that I on average taught almost all of my consulting clients. And so, then having that focus say, okay, so now the next step is to shop it around with my agent. And then to walk through that process of writing it and the neuroscience and the stories and the case research for me gave me that focus for two-and-a-half years, and then to go through the launch process as well. By having those singular focuses for me, it allows me to have that impact but then also to have that finances continue to multiply year after year.


Justin Donald: Yeah. And there’s something to be said about really letting your brilliance, your genius out to the world, and how that establishes you as an expert. And by the way, a lot of people do this who aren’t experts but you’re truly an expert and it shows in the work that you do and the content that you write. I mean, you’re a gifted writer in general, and I’d love to even talk about how you found that. But before we get to kind of writing what I’m curious about because you brought something up that I want to get into today because I’m very lifestyle-focused. I want to cut ties with the way that things have always been and with the grind and with putting in all these hours for other people, for bosses, and even your own business when people graduate to doing that. And I want to know from your standpoint, like, why is the four-day workweek the next step? I think it’s brilliant. Personally, I subscribe to a three-day workweek. I really like to work Tuesday through Thursday and I like to kind of keep my weekend a lot more open. So, I’ve got my Monday and Friday, so I have an extended weekend and we can do all kinds of stuff and then whatever I need to do, I try to cram in my Tuesday and Thursday. But if we can get the masses thinking about Monday through Thursday, I think that’s brilliant. So, how did you come up with this and why do you see this being the next evolution of the future for people at work?


Joe Sanok: Yeah. I think part of it was to just dig into the history a little bit. You know, in the middle of the pandemic was when I was writing this. It was from April 2020 until September of 2020 that I wrote the book so right in the thick of it when everyone was questioning everything. And so, as I entered into this writing, I put the proposal aside because that’s what I’m going to write and I think that’s what HarperCollins bought but I had extra questions. And so, I just wanted to see what is it that I think is solid that maybe isn’t solid? And so, it started with questioning. So, even looking at where did we get the seven-day week? So, thousands of years ago, the Babylonians, they looked up and they saw the sun and the moon, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Mars, and they looked down and they saw Earth. So, seven major celestial things. So, they made up the seven-day week. It’s completely arbitrary. Our day makes sense. It’s how long it takes to spin each day. Going around the sun, that’s a year. The moon cycle is loosely related to months. But we could just as easily have a five-day week and have 73 weeks in a year. Now, the Romans, they had a ten-day week. The Egyptians had a nine-day week. Even in the 1800s, the Russians tried out a five-day week. And so, this thing that we think is absolutely solid is based on that the Babylonians had bad telescopes. Now, they didn’t even have telescopes.


And so, if we just start with the seven-day weeks, completely arbitrary. Then let’s fast forward to the 1800s. The average person was working 10 to 14 hours a day, 6 to 7 days a week. Whether or not you were a farmer, you had a farmer’s schedule. And so, in 1926, when Henry Ford tries to sell more cars to his employees by switching to the 40-hour workweek, it takes off because people buy cars. They want to go away for the weekend and it starts to be part of our laws. So, less than a hundred years ago, this thing that you and I, the 40-hour a week that feels so ingrained in society was completely made up from a dude from Michigan. And so, again, this is brand new. The generation that went through World War II was the first generation to experience a 40-hour week. Their parents were working 10 to 14 hours a day, 6 to 7 days a week. Imagine them calling the World War II generation lazy by working 40 hours a week. And then the baby boomers are the first children to really be raised by 40-hour-a-weekers and us, as Gen-Xers and millennials, we’re only the second generation. And so, we really start to see in the 90s this idea of a 40-hour workweek just start to completely disintegrate. We see the rise of casual Fridays. People start bringing in cupcakes for baby showers at work. We do team-building activities on Fridays. It’s not as productive as a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.


And so, then we see the pandemic completely blow up this industrialist model. In every way, we’ve left the industrialists behind. We don’t think about people as an assembly line. We don’t think about people as machines we can plug in and set it and forget it. We know humans are more nuanced than that but yet we still have this 40-hour workweek that is left over from the industrialists. And so, when I look forward and say, “What does our generation have to address?” In the next 10 to 20 years, we have major issues like climate change, social justice issues. I know you’re passionate about human trafficking. We’ve got all sorts of potential more pandemics. We have major issues that we are going to have to address. And if we look back to 2019 and say, “Is that the best we can do pre-pandemic when we were still living like the industrialists, when we didn’t have flexible work schedules, when we’re just burned out, is that the kind of posture we want to take towards addressing these major challenges of the future? Or can we do better?” Can we work some fewer hours and boost creativity and boost productivity as a result of that and actually have a chance at combating these major things that we have ahead of us.


Justin Donald: That is so well said. I just love it. And I love the construct of what we think is the way that it’s always been. It’s not. It’s actually not that old. This kind of gets to the same theme of education with, I mean, at all levels but let’s talk about children and even the assembly line mentality of school and what really needs to be taught and how long it needs to be taught, and should there be time to get up, get outside, all these different things. We could have a session just on that. But one of your big themes, I think, is this whole idea that you can get more done when you slow down, right? Isn’t that like something that you really like to kind of shout from the rooftops?


Joe Sanok: It sure is. You know, I hosted an event each summer for entrepreneurs called Slow Down School, where they fly into northern Michigan and for two days, we genuinely slow down. We go for hikes. I bring in massage therapists and yoga teachers. We skip stones on the beach and day drink and just relax for a couple of days. And then on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of that week, I teach them how to sprint and they get so much done in those three days. But it mirrors the neuroscience. I mean, what we know intuitively is that that’s true. I mean, think about when your best ideas come. It’s not when you’re stressed out, maxed out. It’s when you’re taking a shower or when you’re going for a walk or a hike, when you’re on a long drive and you just turn off the radio and let your brain just think, and then you’re like, “Oh, I totally forgot about this thing that connects with this thing.” And you kind of transcend your default mode network in your brain where different parts of your brain can talk to each other. And so, we know that when you’re less stressed, you can get more done. The University of Illinois actually had a really interesting study that they did on micro brakes. And so, they were looking at breaks every 20 minutes, just a one-minute break. And they specifically wanted to look at vigilance decrement. So, vigilance, how well you pay attention to something, decrement meaning breaking down over time. So, the idea is that the longer you do a boring task, the worse you are at it over time. You’re just not going to pay attention. So, they brought in these college students and they gave them a random four-digit number.


So, say it was four, two, one, three and they put them at a computer and had all sorts of random four-digit numbers come up. And when that four, two, one, three popped up, you had to hit a button. So, at the beginning of the study, people were really paying attention. They’re hitting the button. But then, as you would expect by the end of that study, after about an hour, they had vigilance decrement. They didn’t pay attention as well. Well, the second group at the 20-minute mark, they gave them a one-minute break. And at the 40-minute mark, they gave them a second one-minute break and they completely eliminated the vigilance decrement. And so, one of the big takeaways is that we sometimes think we need to have these big breaks, these three or four-day weekends, which is true. That does help us reset but also in the way that we can use the neuroscience when we’re actually working, we can use the slowing down to help us get more done. And so, there’s all sorts of interesting studies that point to, yes, we need to first prep the brain in advance of working. So, instead of your weekend being in reaction to the week before, it’s in preparation for the week ahead that we’re saying, “I need my brain to genuinely relax so that the week ahead of me, I’m just ready to go kill it.” And then when it’s time to kill it, let’s use the brain research to actually get more done in a shorter period of time.


Justin Donald: That’s awesome. And by the way, there’s so much that we have in common and there’s so much alignment in what you teach and even just that you have that is backed up from scientific papers, from research that I talk about all the time. One of them is not living on default. Most people go through life on autopilot or default, if you will, and you’re just responding to stimulus. You’re responding to a situation, a person, something going on at work, something going on with the family versus living in a proactive world. So, square one, right? Right out of the gates, we have that but then I’m always trying to help people kind of upgrade their lifestyle and create more time and space for them to think and for them to use their unique gifts and work on projects that bring them passion and joy and spend time with people that really fill them up. And so, the things you’re talking about with a four-day workweek and with breaks during that time and with extended breaks on the weekend, like all these things line up. And what’s great is that the research is supporting it. This isn’t just people’s opinions, although anyone that’s tried this can tell you probably firsthand that this works. Like I can tell you firsthand this works. But there’s so much data, so much research supporting all these things. And so, I just love it. So, let’s talk about one of the things that I want to get into are like the psychological techniques while you work. Can you elaborate on some of that?


Joe Sanok: Yeah. There’s a number of different things you can do while working to just absolutely kill it. So, the first thing is we’ve heard of Parkinson’s law or a lot of people have. So,  the work expands to the time given. And so, people may understand this but the other side of Parkinson’s law is actually that over time, organizations will bloat. They will have unnecessary red tape. Once something is in a system, it’s hard to pull it back out. And so, what giving yourself a limited amount of time does is it naturally removes all of that bloating. And so, if you give yourself four days instead of five, you may not have 20% less productivity but you will drop the ball. But are you going to do if you have 20 tasks, usually? Maybe you only have time to do 15. Will you do the best 15 or the worst 15? You’ll do the best. So,  it’s going to reveal to you, okay, these are the 15 tasks that are best for my business. They make me the most happy, they give me the most energy. These five that I keep dropping over and over, man, I’m not checking my email as much. That’s a great opportunity to say, “Well, why am I checking my email so much? Like, should I have someone else check my email? Should I outsource that? Should I make sure that there are some systems to just take that bloating out?” And so, first, just giving yourself less time is going to clean things up. Then when we’re entering into the work, there’s a couple of principles that I used throughout writing Thursday is the New Friday.


The first one is to really protect your brain before the most important things that you’re doing. And so, a lot of people will wake up. First thing they do is they look at their phone, they see that there’s a bunch of texts from people, they see that there’s a bunch of red dots throughout their phone. They feel compelled to check those red dots or remove them. Even just saying today is a writing day or today is a content day or a podcast day, I’m not even going to look at my phone at all until I’m done with all of that. And of course, you’d have to then set up some systems, like maybe you need to have a team member that has access to some of those things to make sure things don’t fall through the cracks. Or you let your entire team know, “Hey, on Thursdays from 9 until 1, I’m not going to text at all.” So, then it forces you to create systems to protect that brain. Because if I entered into writing the book and I just read some news or saw a text from my mom or from someone else, and it just got me worked up, I’m going to enter into that creativity much differently. Next thing I want to look at, how do we best prep our energy? So, I know that if I meditate, if I do my planking in the morning, if I eat a healthy breakfast, then around 9:30, I’m ready to start killing it. Before 9:30, it’s kind of anybody’s guess. So, for me, I know that that’s when I really hit my peak performance. And so, I’ll have my cup of coffee there. As soon as that’s done, I have my green smoothie there. I’m ready to kill that morning. So, then just prepping your body so that you’re ready to go into it.


And one of the last things that most people miss is creating different environments for different work tasks. So, for example, when I was writing Thursday is the New Friday, it was every Thursday that I was writing. I got about a chapter a week done in my writing, and so I would change the lighting in my home office. I had specific lights I brought in from different rooms that had never even entered this home office that I used when I was writing. I moved my chair from one spot to the middle of the room. I had a specific playlist that I listened to while I wrote, and I used a specific pair of headphones only while I was writing. Now, I use those headphones for other things but while I was writing, that’s the only thing that I use those headphones for. They were never used for anything else. So, what that does is it triggers the brain to jump into flow state. And so, if you leave yourself hanging, you can jump into tasks faster. So, by setting even 20 to 30-minute sprints and we can talk about sprint types and things like that if you want, I then would stop, I would combat that vigilance decrement, move my body a little bit and I would be in the middle of a task that I then could jump right back into or even at the end of that day on Thursday, I would whiteboard out the next chapter. I would physically take it off of my Trello board, put it on a whiteboard so then my brain is thinking through all the questions subconsciously between then and the next Thursday. So, then I would hit the ground running. There was never a white screen in front of me with a flashing cursor where I’m like, “I don’t know what to write.” And so, when you use these types of techniques, the research shows that you’re faster able to jump into specific tasks and get more done in a shorter period of time.


Justin Donald: So, this is fascinating. Like, there are so many things I’d love to dissect even more and just a few things that I want to make sure that we spend some time on. One of them is this whole concept of think time that I took from Keith Cunningham. I met him a long time ago at a Tony Robbins event and met him another time too I think two or three different times, and he wrote about this. So, I had been practicing this far before he wrote about this in The Road Slightly Less Stupid, which is also a great book. But this whole idea of think time is exactly that, where you’re talking about how you’re carving out time on Thursday where you’re not doing anything else, you’re basically interrupting your interruptions, right? And so, that’s what think time is. It’s like shutting off anything that can cause you to be interrupted but then you’ve got a favorite place that you go. Maybe it’s your think time chair and you create these routines so that your body can go into flow state or the brain and theta, however you want to call it. For me, I tend to get a lot of great ideas when my body is moving and I’m outside. So, I’ve got like my think space like in my office, my chair that I just love using, so comfortable. But what I often will do is I’ll start it or I’ll end it with walking outside, nice day, get some sunshine on my face, be out in nature and my body’s moving And I’m telling you, my best ideas come from that.


My best ideas come from that and from time in the shower, which is where you give your brain the chance to not be interrupted, to just get into flow. And then you also mentioned about bloating. And I think this is a really important thing, even in another context. So, most people who start a business, they find bloating in that business, specifically in the expenses. So, when you start a business, you’re often really tight with what the expenses are and you’re only going to spend this and you’ve got budgets. And then eventually, as the business takes off and you make more money, there’s more expenses going. And a lot of the time there are these expenses. Like, if you did an audit of your business right now, I guarantee you’d find expenses for all these things that you’re like, “Oh, I thought that was supposed to end,” or, “Why do we have that?” or, “Who signed up for this thing?” And it’s just kind of plugging those holes in the boat can be a game-changer to profitability. And then we take it another step further with bloating in your own personal life. What are the expenses going on in your personal life? What are the things that are holding you back from your potential, whether it be physically, whether it be mentally?


So, I think like mentally creating the space for think time, physically not waiting until you’re starving and eating whatever’s there but having a plan for good, healthy food, and then financially where are you bloating in your expenses? Like, where are you spending money that could easily have that hole in the ship plugged? So, I love all the stuff you’re talking about. And by the way, your book was featured all across the board on like major networks on Forbes, Harvard Business Review, CNBC, just highlighting just all the relevance that you’re bringing to light. And so, I love that even though it’s maybe originally like your research was geared towards a certain specific, a psychological aspect, certain professionals like it’s applicable to anyone and to everyone.


Joe Sanok: Yeah. It really is. And it’s been interesting. Nissan Infiniti Canada brought me in to talk about it and to just be able to have that discourse and to be able to say what would this look like, to see different companies start to really enact the four-day work week, and to see the positive changes. You know, Iceland did a huge study around the four-day workweek and they found that basically, the last 8 hours we work are completely useless, if not detrimental, where you’re actually stressing people out and having worse health outcomes and more likely to have your staff leave if they’re working 40 hours than if they’re doing 32 when 32 is as productive as 40. And so, to see this in nations and companies like Shopify start to really enact the four-day work week, I think we’re seeing that people are sick of the old way of doing it and have recognized that we can have very similar if not better outcomes if we work a four-day workweek or are just smarter with the way that we do our time and flexible scheduling.


Justin Donald: Yeah. And I love the play that you can have here with the four-day workweek versus the four-hour workweek. And by the way, to anyone that can automate their business to truly do a four-hour workweek, you should do it. And then you spend your four-day workweek working on the things that bring you the most passion and excitement. So, to me, like once I solved the financial issues, like it cost me so much to live, right? So, once I solved that, well, then I just started focusing my time inside this four-day workweek and the things that really light me up, the things that I can get lost in doing because they’re so fun. I get this tunnel vision and I come to it and I’m like, “Wow. Four hours just went by and it felt like a blink of an eye.” And so, that’s why I just think that having that financial freedom is so important because then you can focus on bigger problems of the world. You can focus on things that really light you up. You spoke earlier, Joe, about sprint types, and I’d love to kind of dissect that a little bit with you.


Joe Sanok: Yeah. So, oftentimes we hear people say, “You should sprint, you should batch, you should do this specific method,” and maybe people try it and they say, “Well, that doesn’t really work for me.” And in the same way that we may have our personality types, our Enneagram, our Myers-Briggs, and your whole life, you’ve been told to act a certain way and it didn’t feel like it aligned, and then you find, “Oh, wait, I’m an Enneagram 3 achiever. That’s why,” it starts to make sense when you hear about your sprint types. So, the research actually shows that there are two different areas of the ways that we sprint when we want to get things done. One is the type of work that we do during our sprint, and the second is when we do that sprinting. So, a time block sprinter is somebody that is more that traditional sprinter. They spend usually 3 to 4 hours sprinting around a particular task. So, they are going to do interview after interview for their podcast or they’re going to spend an entire morning working out an email funnel so that one thing that you’re doing throughout that period of time. The second one is a task switch sprinter. So, this is someone that says for this 20 or 30 minutes, I’m going to do one thing, then I’m going to switch to another task than another.


Now, this is not multitasking. Multitasking’s a myth. The research shows that you don’t get as much done when you “multitask.” And this is intentional tasks back-to-back. So, maybe you’re going to do a podcast interview and then you’re going to look at a specific deal that you might be investing in. And then you’re going to look at some big picture numbers and dashboard with your accountant. So, it’s still very strategic around the core things that you’re working on but there’s more variety to it. And so, being able to figure out, primarily, do I need that variety or primarily do I need to have that focus? The second is in regards to the areas that when you’re going to sprint. So, an automated sprinter is someone that typically will sprint on a specific day of the week over and over and over. So, for example, I wrote Thursday is the New Friday every Thursday. I said that earlier, and so I was focusing in and being a time block sprinter on one task and it was at the same time and it was automated every single week. It was in my calendar. Nobody could schedule in it. My assistant knew that if she looked at my calendar and somehow found somebody got in there, she’d reach out to me and be like, “Did you schedule this? Because this person shouldn’t be in there.” So, it was completely blocked off. Whereas an intensive sprinter, someone that needs to go away for an intensive, they may need to get an Airbnb for two or three days. You know, it’s interesting to think about think week. We hear of all these famous people that will go away for a week and get a cabin.


And so, that same idea that you’re going to go away and work on your business and so you may go away for an intensive and have five or ten specific tasks that you want to work on. It may be that you go away and you’re just doing one task. You’re going to work on your content calendar for a whole year. You’re going to work on recording a bunch of solo episodes or building an e-course or whatever your specific way is that you’re growing your income. So, when you understand, do you need that variety or do you need that focus, and do you need it to be repetitive each week, or do you need to go away, then it’s a lot different. A friend of mine, Dr. Jeremy Sharp, has The Testing Psychologist Podcast and several times a year he goes to a different town, he gets an Airbnb, and he just dives into a lot of his leveling-up type of work. But he doesn’t just do one thing. He does multiple things. And so, he has that diversity within it but he removes all the mental barriers when he does that. He makes sure the Airbnb is walking distance from a vegan restaurant that is walking distance from a great coffee shop. It has an outdoor space. All these things that he knows if I can look at the menu before I go and basically figure out what I’m going to have to eat every single day, I don’t have to put that energy into it when I’m there to really get these things done during my intensive. So, then you become more effective in your sprints and you get so much more done because you know your sprint type.


Justin Donald: That is fascinating. And I mean, I feel like we could do a whole episode on that but at least scratching the surface and figuring out what type you might be and maybe you’re operating in a place that’s not best for you, you need to pivot, and maybe circumstance has created the way that you sprint as opposed to efficiency. So, that’s really cool. I for sure want to make sure that we get to the three internal inclinations that research shows top performers have. I think that is fascinating and very applicable to my audience that’s pretty hard-charged and kind of gets things done.


Joe Sanok: Yeah. Well, the thing about the internal inclinations, so these are inclinations that top performers have that just come naturally for them. And so, if we can understand, is this naturally occurring or does it need some work? This isn’t a, “Oh, you don’t have them. You’re going to fail.” It’s, “Okay. You maybe don’t naturally have all of these. Let’s do some skills. Let’s follow some steps to build those so they feel a little more like their internal inclinations and that kind of misaligned.” So, the first one is curiosity, the second one is an outsider perspective, and the third one is an ability to move on it. So, let’s start with curiosity. When I was thinking about this, I said, “Well, what just comes to mind when I say curiosity?” Curiosity killed the cat came up first and I’m thinking, “Well, where did that even come from?” And actually, in 1910, there is this cat that got stuck in a chimney and it made national news for like five days. So, it must’ve been a very slow news week but this cat ends up dying in the chimney. But what a terrible thing to teach our kids that if you’re curious, you were going to die. The curiosity killed the cat. That’s not how kids view the world. The other day, my seven and ten-year-old daughters were outside with my four and six-year-old nieces. So, four little girls screaming, running around, and then it got really quiet. And that’s always usually a bad sign when you’re kind of babysitting your nieces and your kids and I go outside, they’re all standing around this dead mouse.


And I hear them talking about it and they said, “How do you think this mouse died?” Like, “Should we bury this mouse? Do you think an owl would eat this mouse? Do owls eat dead mice or only live mice? Like what would a mouse funeral even look like?” Like, they were just so intrigued but kids are always trying to figure out, is this thing I’m experiencing that’s out of my norm, is this how the world is? Like, do car accidents happen all the time? I need to be really scared of cars or are car accidents pretty rare? Is this rainbow something I’m going to see every single day? Or is this rainbow something that’s brand new and I’m only going to see once in a while? And so, as kids, we are curious but people that maintain that in business, they have a posture that just helps them succeed more. So, if they run a huge Facebook ads campaign, maybe it stretches their budget, maybe it’s $1,000, $10,000, $100,000, whatever that stretches your budget, and maybe you don’t get the results that you expected. Top performers will be curious about that and say, “Wow. We got some really interesting data here that tells us what our audience completely doesn’t want.” Now, nobody wants to waste money. Nobody wants to have “failures.” But if you can have that curious perspective instead of a pass-fail, that’s where you can really succeed.


Justin Donald: That’s another way. That’s really good. Instead of pass-fail as the litmus test or the barometer, it’s a curious approach. What’s the lesson? What do we learn? It’s not right. It’s not wrong. It’s just here’s what happened and what can we learn from this situation?


Joe Sanok: Yeah. It’s a much more experimental mindset where the industrialist taught us here are the five steps. You always use five steps. You stay in the box. It’s very prescriptive. I would say the post-industrialist way of thinking is more like a menu to say, “Hey, we’re going to try these things. We’re going to see if it works, we’re going to adjust as we go, and if it doesn’t work, we’re not going to have a bunch of shame over it. We’re going to go back and we’re going to reinvigorate ourselves.”


Justin Donald: Yeah. That’s good. How about the second one?


Joe Sanok: Yeah. So, an outsider’s perspective. It’s really interesting when you look at top performers. Take an Elon Musk, for example, who moved countries or an Albert Einstein that is able to think outside of the way the average person thinks. There’s an interesting research study where it was called the color study. So, they brought people in, in small groups of usually 6 to 8, and the facilitator would hold up a color, and then the group would say, “Is that blue or is that green?” So, they hold it up very clear greens and blues. And there were some that were in the middle and once in a while, there’d be some disagreement but for the most part, people would say, “Yeah, that’s blue. That’s green.” Well, then in the second version of the study, they had two people that just looked like regular participants but were actually working with the scientists and there were specific colors that were green or were blue that they would kind of argue that that was the opposite color. And they found that statistically these people had undue influence over the group as an outsider and they had just a different way of swaying in the group. And we’ve all experienced this. When you think about if you ever had a new job and you come in someplace and you say, “Why the heck do you do it this way? This doesn’t make sense.” Like I remember when I started at the community college, they were filing their progress notes for when people had counseled students by the day that they came in to do counseling.


So, if I wanted to see Justin Donald came in for some academic advising, I couldn’t go to D for Donald and see all of your stuff. I had to figure out when you came and go back to a handwritten calendar that said Justin Donald on it and then go through all these calendars. It was absurd. But sometimes those outsiders statistically will have more influence over the people inside than the people that are actually inside of it.


Justin Donald: That’s fascinating. Yeah. And there’s so much that we could even unpack with this. But let’s jump in quickly to this third one. Just for time’s sake, I want to do this one justice because this one, to me, is a very pivotal one.


Joe Sanok: Yeah. The ability to move on it is such an important internal inclination because any of us that went to school, you write a paper, you turn it in, and you get graded over and over. Its perfection is taught over and over. But that’s just not how the business world is. There are times in life I want things to be perfect. If I’m having surgery, I want my doctor. I want her to take the time to do it right. But more times than not, we have perfection on one side and then on the other side, we have speed. So, speed versus accuracy. And in business, the people that succeed most are the ones that value speed over accuracy because they can go back, they can change it, they can reshape, they can reinvigorate it in a different way. And so, if we stop being paralyzed by perfection and start getting things done, we’re better able to iterate and change and adapt. It’s that minimum viable product idea but really just put into the science and saying most of the time we don’t have to be as accurate as we think we have to be and it actually slows us down. And so, just even giving yourself less time, pushing yourself, and saying, “Okay. I’m going to launch this in two days no matter what. Whether or not it’s good, I’m getting it out there.” That speed over accuracy is almost where we want to land when it comes to business.


Justin Donald: Yeah. And I think that this is proven through a number of different studies and I learned early on for me that the way that I work though part of me has this perfectionistic aspect to the way that I operate that I need to bypass that, that I need to bypass maybe what is learned or what is ingrained, probably from my dad, who’s very perfectionistic to the whole approach of ready, fire, aim, right? Because you’re going to pivot, you’re going to learn things in the process that give you more information than what you had prior to where my experience is, and just working with a lot of people that most people are ready, aim, aim, aim, aim, right? And the fire takes a long time or it never happens because they want to wait until everything’s perfect. And reality is you get more data from just going out there when it’s not right, when it’s messy, and then you course-correct after the fact. And I can tell you, I can assure you that most of the big moves that I’ve made, most of the decisions that have had the most fruit in my life came from a lack of clarity, a lack of like complete knowledge but taking a chance, taking some form of action. And I talk about this in every podcast episode about taking some sort of action each day because the lessons to learn in the course correction is going to be so much clearer once you’re out there and you get feedback.


Joe Sanok: Yeah, absolutely. And when we see that we all have things that are naturally occurring in us. And so, if you’re raised by someone that taught you to do it perfect, yeah, this internal inclination may be harder for you. And so, that’s why we have exercises that research supports to say, “Okay. Yeah, here are some ways to do that. You naturally don’t feel like an outsider? Here are some ways to feel like an outsider.” Like, just go to a gathering where you feel totally out of place. Go take an improv class when you’re like, “I can’t do public speaking.” Go do something to build that muscle. And as you do that, you’re going to find that your internal inclinations get stronger and stronger.


Justin Donald: Yeah. I tell people this a lot that I love being in environments where I’m the least educated or least knowledgeable person and I’ve shared this, I believe before, I mean, I know I’ve shared this with my mastermind. I likely have shared this on a podcast before but I remember going to Traffic & Conversion Summit when I knew nothing about that space. There were 6,000 people at this event. I was probably person number 5,999, maybe even person 6,000 in terms of like knowledge, expertise. I knew nothing. And by the way, I’ve gone to many conferences like this and it’s interesting being in a place where you just don’t know it. You’re forced to learn it. I like being curious but in an environment like that, you’re forced into it whether you like it or not to learn. And so, I like being in rooms where people are smarter than me. That does not intimidate me. I know a lot of people are intimidated. They need to be the smartest person in the room they’re in. I want people way smarter than me because that’s way more stimulating. I’m going to learn a ton. I think that’s great. I want to have value that I offer but that to me is secondary from like what I could learn being around people that just know a heck of a lot more than me. So, I think that’s important. Then ironically, of course, I’m using all these things that I learned at Traffic & Conversion Summit today that I never thought I’d use but once I learned it, it was like, “Oh, maybe I should try this out. Maybe I should implement this thing. That sounds really cool.”


So, I love that, that you really talk about, number one, like these three internal inclinations. Some people are born with them or some people are like predisposed to them but you made it very clear that these can be learned for anyone. And I think that’s the important point there. I think it would be really a shame if we didn’t at least get to the space where, I mean, you’re an expert in all this but you have also built this incredible lifestyle and you’re an investor as well. You invest in Airbnbs. You’ve done well with that. You’ve been able to scale these. You’re in the process. You’re about to close on another Airbnb rental I think in two weeks you had said early on before we were on air. And so, I just love that you’re doing all these great things with impact. You’re building a business, you’re carving out the time to spend with your girls, with your nieces, building an epic life, and then on top of that, you’ve got money working for you. You’re buying assets that produce cash flow. So, talk about that a little bit.


Joe Sanok: Yeah. You know, Northern Michigan so specifically Traverse City is probably one of the, if not the tourist destination in Michigan. So, my house that I live in is two blocks from one body of water, two blocks from another. You know, Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes is often named one of the most beautiful places in America. I would argue Hawaii and a few other places are more beautiful than my backyard but, hey, if it gets people here. So, it’s a tourist-heavy area. And a number of years ago, a bunch of friends were just – they went for the National Cherry Festival or Film Festival, rent out their places, and did that for a number of years. And I mean, they were getting off in $5,000 to $6,000 a week on these houses that their mortgage was $1,200 a month. And so, in two or three weeks, in a summer, they’d cover their mortgage for the whole year. And so, started doing that a number of years ago and just recently found a property that is going to take a little bit of work to just update it but, I mean, the bones are good but it’s on 15 acres, private lake, just going to be perfect for an Airbnb. It’s going to be a five-bedroom by the time I’m done with it and sleep 10 to 12 people. And so, when I think through those kinds of deals, similar to you, I am looking at cash flow. I’m also looking at what’s the market doing locally. I mean, even just the prices over the last 5 to 10 years.


So, now even just the last two years because I think if you’re that micro, that’s not something I look at as much as what’s it been doing over the last 5 to 10 years. It’s growing by 10% to 15% in prices of houses, just on the property value alone. And so, if I look at the property value but then also look at cash flowing it, the property that I’m purchasing already for 2022 has 40K in bookings already when I come into this. And so, that’s already booked. As part of it, I negotiated that I got to take over their Airbnb and Vrbo accounts instead of them transferring those to my own. But I just get all the passwords and everything and that I get to just run it through there, switch it over to my own account. So, to be able to do that and know that year one has 40K and cash flow coming in and that’s with non-optimized nightly rentals. They weren’t using any smart tools. They hadn’t updated it. It’s a pretty ugly property. It’s really exciting to think about what it could become.


Justin Donald: That’s awesome. I love seeing the moves that you’re making, the life that you’ve built. There’s a reason I wanted you on The Lifestyle Investor because you’ve built an incredible lifestyle and you’re using your talents to impact the world, to create a great living. And then you’re taking those proceeds and buying assets to help you create cash flow so that way you don’t have to work for money. You get to work because you enjoy it and focus on the things and the areas that you prefer most. So, where can my audience learn more about you, Joe, and about your book that just sounds fantastic?


Joe Sanok: Yeah. So, the book you can get wherever you get books. If you support your local bookstore, I’m sure they would appreciate that. So, the book is Thursday is the New Friday and the subtitle is How to Work Fewer Hours, Make More Money, and Spend Time Doing What You Want. So, is where you can read more about the book. If you’re a coach, a counselor, a therapist, is the best place to go for support there. I have a podcast called Practice of the Practice where I interview all sorts of business people. It’s not just counseling types. So, like, Justin, you’ve been on the show and I like to find those people. They’re just doing unique things outside of the counseling space as well as inside of it. And then is where I have all of my branding and keynote speaking and all sorts of consulting, specifically around the four-day workweek, optimizing things within your business. So, if you’re looking for a consultant to help you switch over to that four-day work week, I do that all through


Justin Donald: Love it. Well, thanks so much, Joe. This has been incredible. And I just want to wrap things up in similar fashion. What is the one step that you can take today to move towards financial freedom and a life that is on your terms, that is full of energy and full of just joy? So, not a life by default but a life by design. Catch you next week.

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