Episode 219:

There was a time when you spent most of your time learning your craft. Whether it was account service or art direction or biz dev – you had to develop the skills to do your job well. There’s no doubt that our world demands on-going education so we can continue to serve our clients. But at this point in your career, you have the luxury of focusing on something a bit deeper — developing yourself as a leader, professional, and human being. That’s why I love John Jantsch’s new book The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur so much. It invites us to do just that.

John has always been about teaching small businesses how to do marketing. His previous five books were all how to guides for everything from selling, using referrals to grow your business, and SEO. But this latest book offers no step by step instructions. In fact, it’s sort of the opposite. It’s a book about you discovering answers to bigger questions that can’t come with an instruction manual.

Each of the 366 chapters is comprised of a quote from a literary great, a reflection by John on the day’s topic (anything from limited beliefs to seizing risk) and then a thought-provoking question. You can consume the book in one big gulp or you can sip it throughout the year.

In this episode of Build A Better Agency, John and I chat about why he made the dramatic shift in writing purpose and style, how he got the book done and how he recommends readers squeeze the full value from the book.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here: https://www.whitelabeliq.com/ami/

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • About John’s new book and why he chose to write a “why to” rather than another how to
  • How to invest in yourself and how that growth can serve your agency
  • The book writing process for “The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur”
  • How to use John’s book to become a stronger, more centered agency leader

The Golden Nugget:

“I happen to think entrepreneurship is one of the greatest self-development programs ever created.” @ducttape Click To Tweet “We have to follow our own path, but we have much to gain by understanding each other better.” @ducttape Click To Tweet “There is a universal shift taking place, and people are starting to realize that mindset is just as important as tactics.” @ducttape Click To Tweet “As entrepreneurs, we are trying to change something that’s wrong, create something that doesn’t exist, or solve a problem; a lot of times we have to upset the apple cart.” @ducttape Click To Tweet “Nature provides a truly amazing example of how we should live.” @ducttape Click To Tweet

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Announcer:

Welcome to the Agency Management Institute Community, where you’ll learn how to grow and scale your business, attract and retain the best talent, make more money and keep more of what you make. The Build a Better Agency podcast presented by White Label IQ, is packed with insights on how small to midsize agencies survive and thrive in today’s market. Bringing his 25 plus years of experience as both an agency owner and agency consultant, please welcome your host, Drew McLellan.

Drew McLellan:

Hey, everybody. Drew McLellan here. Welcome back to another episode of Build a Better Agency. Thanks for joining us again this week. If this is your first go around, welcome. For those of you that are regular listeners, always great to have you with us.

As the year wraps up and we start thinking about 2020, one of the things that I think about a lot is the fact that we and you have chosen a challenging path. I think it is without exception, I don’t care what the industry is, but certainly in our world, I think it’s a challenge to be a business owner today, to be an entrepreneur. I think it comes with incredible pressures and responsibilities that oftentimes, as I have talked about in other solo casts, we can get so caught up in the difficulty of it. In the challenges of it, in the just the day to day grind of it, that sometimes we don’t stop and step back and not only reflect on what we’ve accomplished and where we’ve been and where we’re headed, but even more so we just don’t take very good care of ourselves in terms of our own professional development, our personal development.

That’s what this episode is all about. This episode is in some ways a celebration, an opportunity for you to reflect on all of the good things that come from being an entrepreneur. And maybe to make a commitment to yourself to invest in yourself in this coming year in terms of supporting yourself in a way that perhaps you hadn’t considered.

Before I tell you a little bit about our guest and get a little more specific about the topic today, just a couple quick reminders. Number one: The early bird pricing for the Build a Better Agency Summit, that’s the conference that we hosting, built just for you, for small to midsize agencies. It’s September… No, I lied. It is May 19th and 20th of 2020 in Chicago, in the US. We would love to have you. We have folks coming from all over the world. If possible, a great way to spend some money before the end of the year and a great way to get in on that early bird pricing. So grab a ticket before December 31, 2019 if you’re listening to this in real time.

Another reminder is that we are every month giving away a free workshop. You can either come to one of our live workshops or you can have access to one of our on demand workshops. All you have to do to be eligible to win one of those prizes which retails for about $2,000, is leave us a rating or review, or both, on whatever channel or platform that you use to download the podcast. For many of you it’s going to be Apple Podcast or Google or Stitcher. But just leave us a review, take a screenshot and send it to me. As I’ve told you many times, oftentimes, your user name lovesbunnies102, is not indicative of who you are as a person, it doesn’t match your real name. So I just need a screenshot so that I know it’s you. Then we’ll throw you in the drawing and you will stay in that drawing until sooner or later hopefully, you are the big winner. That would be awesome if you would do that.

Let’s talk a little bit about the episode today. My guest today is a repeat visitor to Build a Better Agency podcast. Many of you are very familiar with his work. John Jantsch has been the head of Duct Tape Marketing for over 25 years. John started out building out a methodology for helping small businesses create a marketing presence and get results from that marketing presence, which he called Duct Tape Marketing. He was one of the very first guys out there grabbing social media opportunities, blogging when blogging was brand new. Just creating all kinds of great content. All of it was very how to, how do you market your business.

As many of you know, he also serves a lot of consultants, marketing consultants and small agencies and teaches them his patented marketing methodology, which they can then use for their clients. John’s always been about teaching us how to do things. He’s a multiple book author. Up until his most recent book, which is what we’re going to talk about today, all of his books have very much been how to books. Very pragmatic, practical, hands on, super helpful. With this book, he took a different path. He took a path that I want to ask him a little bit more about, but his book is much more of a learning about yourself, why to, than a how to. As I was reading it and going through it in prep for the interview, I couldn’t help but think how useful it would be. It’s written as a daily digest. Think of it almost like a daily devotional. Each date, each day, has a different thought or suggestion and then a really thought provoking question.

What a great way for you to invest in yourself in 2020, is to take two or three minutes and read the day’s passage and then ponder the question. I also think it’s an opportunity for you to share this with your leadership team or your entire team because I think we can all use a little self-reflection as we go through our busy day. I don’t want to belabor the point, I would rather spend the time chatting with John, so let’s get right to it.

John, welcome back to the podcast.

John Jantsch:

Hey, thanks for having me, Drew.

Drew McLellan:

The reason that I invited you back is because you have a brand new book out. Everybody knows you as the Duct Tape Marketer and that you serve both direct clients, but that you also help agencies and solopreneurs build out the front end of their work with clients in terms of having a whole system around marketing. That’s I think, what you’re known for, but this book is quite a departure for you. What took you on this new journey?

John Jantsch:

Well, I’ve actually owned my own business in one shape or another for almost 30 years now and I really was to the point where I wanted to write something that was a bit of a reflection of that journey. I happen to think that being an entrepreneur is probably one of the greatest self-development programs ever created. Because we’re constantly, or we should be, constantly working on ourselves probably as much as working on our businesses. This is a book, as you noted, I mean, it’s not a how to book. It’s actually my sixth book, my other five books have been squarely about how to do some aspect of growing a business or marketing a business. I think we all know how to do everything now, quite frankly.

Drew McLellan:

Thank God to YouTube, [crosstalk 00:07:59].

John Jantsch:

Exactly. I wanted to write something that was more focused on the mindset of why to. So this is a book that is a tool, if you will. It’s not a book you take on vacation and read from cover to cover. Every day has a new entry, so it’s a daily journal, the point of which is to give you something to reflect on. Take two minutes to read. I mean, we all have that stack of books that we can’t get to. This is a two minute, daily investment in getting your mind right maybe or hopefully. I end each day with a question also, that I hope that you carry into the day that shows up. It’s really just the idea that I think our journey, our purpose in life is to continually grow. I think if we don’t work on that, if we don’t make time for that, then eventually we’ll stagnate.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, as I was flipping through it, it feels almost like an homage to entrepreneurship. A celebration that it’s not easy, that there are challenges every day and that it takes a fortitude and an attitude. Which I think each of your daily, I know it’s not religious, but devotionals is to lift the spirit of the entrepreneur.

John Jantsch:

Yeah, I’m glad you picked up on that, used that word, because I’ve been referring to it as a love letter to entrepreneurs. I love what I do, I’ve worked with thousands of entrepreneurs now. I think that what we get to do as entrepreneurs is really one of the greatest opportunities. The most freeing, the most joyful thing. But if you don’t pay attention, it can suck the life out of you. That’s really what this book is about. I mean, there’s no telling you how to do anything. I mean, that’s the ironic thing about a book telling people to be self-reliant. I mean, that’s on you. But it is, hopefully, a book to give you a kick in the pants a little bit, a you got this, a pat on the back. And as you said, a celebration of what we get to do and hopefully be grateful for what we get to do.

Drew McLellan:

I realize we have not told the listeners the actual name of the book. The exact name of the book, although you can just go to Amazon or any bookstore and ask for John’s books, but it’s The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur: 366 Daily Meditations to Feed Your Soul and Grow Your Business. If you’re looking for it, that’s the exact title you would look for.

When you were mapping this out, when you decided that you wanted to do this, because this again, as I said, is a departure for you, I’m guessing the book writing process was pretty different.

John Jantsch:

It was substantially different and much harder than my other books. Frankly, my other books, I literally had been practicing [inaudible 00:11:00] did. You might try it, it might work for you, 10,000 words or so. Turns out it’s much harder to write short passages as it is to write much longer ones. This book also had a huge component of research. I really wanted to anchor the book in some historical writing, historical wisdom. So I mined a vein of literature from the mid-19th century and we can talk about why or what that means. But every entry starts with something from Thoreau or Emerson or Margaret Fuller, Louisa May Alcott because I happen to believe, you’ll find Pinterest boards that support this, that Emerson and Thoreau and many of the people that wrote in that period are some of the first, but also some of the greatest entrepreneurial writing.

Even though they weren’t writing to entrepreneurs, they were writing to the human condition of we have to think for ourselves. We’re all endowed with a soul that makes us unique, that we have to follow our path. To do anything else is to sin against nature. And I think that’s some of the greatest advice for many entrepreneurs.

Drew McLellan:

Did you stumble upon that period and go, “Oh, these guys are my guys,” or did you know that’s where you wanted to start?

John Jantsch:

Well, I have long been a follower of Emerson. I started my business in the ’90s and like all great marketers, I had T-shirts made.

Drew McLellan:

Of course.

John Jantsch:

I had an Emerson quote on the back of that, “There is no object so foul, that intense like cannot make beautiful.” I think that’s always been with me. I will say that when I decided I wanted to anchor this in some writing that I was familiar with, it also gave me the opportunity to unearth and research that entire period. What I found is when you think about what was going on in America around 1850, we were on the cusp of the Civil War. Women were marching in the streets to get the right to vote, we were trying to abolish slavery. So all of a sudden, you had for the first time, this countercultural writing, saying we need to make these social changes. We don’t have to listen to the preacher or our parents, or the government, we need to think for ourselves. It was overt in people like Thoreau and Emerson.

But what I discovered was, even the novels and the fiction that we were all asked to read in high school and college; Little Women, Scarlet Letter, Moby Dick, the protagonist in those books, for the first time you saw a protagonist who were like, “Hey, this is maybe going to cost me, but I have to follow my heart.” Then I went into letters and journals and really just dug into that entire period. It was just clear to me that those folks were writing to us today. That’s why I think that a great deal of that literature has stood the test of time.

Drew McLellan:

Well, and I think you’re right. I think that entrepreneurs are the rebels, right? They’re carving their own path. I can see how that spirit in literature would align with your intention to inspire and encourage entrepreneurs.

John Jantsch:

Yeah. I mean, you think about an entrepreneur. I mean, we’re trying to change something that’s wrong, we’re trying to create something that doesn’t exist today, we’re trying to solve a problem. So yeah, a lot of times we have to turn over the apple cart.

Drew McLellan:

Right, right. As you were writing the book, for you is there a progression through thematically, or is each piece standalone and you could read them in backwards order and it wouldn’t matter?

John Jantsch:

I think it wouldn’t matter would be the simple statement to that last question. But I wrote a blog post about four years ago and this was probably, whether I knew it or not at the time, probably the start of this book. I called it The Changing Seasons of the Entrepreneur. Reflecting on my own journey, I feel like there are multiple, never ending season that come along. When I’ve started something new, when I’ve tried to change direction a little bit. I mean, there’s this do I trust my idea season enough? Then there’s this okay, let’s go out and discover if anybody wants this thing season. Then there’s the okay, it didn’t work exactly like I thought it was going to. How do I pivot or how do I get back up again or start over again? Then finally, you get comfortable with this idea that hey, this is working and here’s the impact that I want it to have on the world.

Again, as I said, that’s not just one long career arc. To me, that’s almost every time you make a significant change in your business or in your life. Because I wanted to write a daily, annual calendar, the metaphor for the seasons were there for the taking. So I structured the book loosely around those four seasons and then every month has its own theme as well. On top of creating a narrative arc for the book, it also gave me an organizational structure for all of this writing and research. Because I started just reading all these books, highlighting and going, “Yeah, I want to put this in the book.” Then I just quickly realized that was just going to be chaos. So once I created the spreadsheet of 12 monthly themes, it allowed me to go out and organize and find writing that fit the theme.

Drew McLellan:

As I’ve read through the book, I’ve flipped through it and now I’m going back and following it the way you built it to be. But obviously, some of them are lessons we’ve already learned. Some of them are lessons where it’s like, “Okay. Well, I’ve stubbed my toe on that several times. Maybe this time I should take it to heart.” Was there one of the lessons that for you personally was the Achilles heel lesson?

John Jantsch:

Oh, boy. I’m not sure I’m going to answer this the way you asked it. But to me, the thing that I learned the most from actually writing this book, because as anybody who’s written a book knows, we get as much out of writing it or much more as anybody is going to get out of reading it. For me, it made me take a sense of the impact that actually I have had, that I want to have. Because a lot of times as entrepreneurs, I think we’re always looking at it’s not what I think it could be. It’s not there yet. Look at that person over there that’s doing so much more than me. I think that for me, it really gave me an opportunity to look around and go, “Wow! I have come a long way.”

There are a lot of people that write to me occasionally and say, “This book changed my life.” I think if we as entrepreneurs, whether it’s one, or 10, or 100 people, aren’t focused on the meaning that we’ve had and the impact that we’ve had or that we want to have, I think we’re missing the real opportunity of why we do all this.

Drew McLellan:

You talked earlier about boy, it can knock you to your knees. I think what helps you get back up again is knowing that you actually are having some influence on a single person or a company or whatever it is. But you are changing the trajectory for someone else and you are adding value. So that’s what makes the lousy days worth it.

John Jantsch:

You’ve been doing this a while too. I mean, I think you come to learn over time that a lot of those knock you to your knees moments were ones that you needed to have. That you actually should probably find a way to be grateful for because they probably put you back on or on the right path. It’s hard to say that at the time, but I can look at many, many instances in which things happened that I thought, “Oh, this bad,” but it actually opened a door for something that was much more real.

Drew McLellan:

Maybe you were heading on the wrong path or the wrong course and sometimes you have to get knocked on your rear end to go, “Oh!” I don’t know about you, but I always find that the first couple hints, which are tiny little hints that the universe sends me, I miss. But the boulder in the middle of the street that I have to figure out a way around, that one is hard to avoid.

John Jantsch:

I think the most challenging thing for an entrepreneur is to be comfortable, be complacent. Hey, this isn’t my best work, but they’re paying me for it kind of thing. Sometimes you need that stretch, that challenge to say, “Okay, I am not being true to myself.”

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, yeah. Hey, I think to give the listeners an idea of the way the book is structured and all of that, would you mind, pick a day and read it to us?

John Jantsch:

Yeah. You bet. As you said, every day has a title, a reading from some of the literature I mined, 100 or so many words from me. Then actually, I leave you with a challenge question. That’s the structure. We are recording this on December 2nd, you and I, and so I’ll just read December 2nd.

Title is, There is No Try. “I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do. I feel as if this tree knows everything I ever think of when I sit here. When I come back to it, I never have to remind it of anything. I begin just where I left off.” That’s from Willa Cather’s O Pioneers! It was written 1913.

“A great deal of stress in our lives is caused by some form of not being who we were meant to be. This even includes the energy expended trying to be a loving, kind or positive person. Like the tree in today’s reading, what if you spent more time allowing rather than trying? Simply be who you are and practice bringing your unique gifts to the world. Hey, and the good news is that it’s so much easier that way. Go into silence or meditation today and toss out every label you’ve applied to yourself. Forget your job, your age, your community, your family order and for that moment, resign yourself to live as you were meant to.

Your challenge question today: What can you stop trying and start allowing today?”

Drew McLellan:

As I was looking at the book, I was thinking I would bet if somebody read through this, actually answered all the challenge questions, really actually did the work, that they could come back a year or two years and the answers would be different. I mean, because the entrepreneurial journey, as you said, [inaudible 00:22:02].

John Jantsch:

Yeah. I’m probably like you and a lot of your listeners. I have a handful of books I’ve read maybe a dozen times and I’m always just so surprised when I go back and I think, “When did that get in there?” I was now ready to hear it. I think you’re absolutely right, there’s no question in my mind that you read that December 2nd entry in 2020, a year from today when we recorded this, and you will be a different person, so I suspect it will hit you differently.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. You had a little help with a couple of the chapters.

John Jantsch:

Yeah.

Drew McLellan:

Tell me about that.

John Jantsch:

As you noted, there are 366 entries. I happen to have four daughters, and I thought it would be fun to ask them to write the reflection for the reading on their birthday. As you [inaudible 00:22:55] an author’s note at the top of those four pages and you’ll get a little reflection from my daughters. I had my spreadsheet of all my passages for each month aligned and I let them pick the passage that they wanted, then they reflect on it. Of course, I know them as only a father can, so it was as much for me to see what passages they picked. It was very much to their characters. That was a really fun way to have them be a part of the book.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. I mean, I think your daughters are adults, but still I think an entire family sacrifices when one writes a book in terms of our availability and our accessibility. So I’m sure it was fun to include them in something that you do.

John Jantsch:

Yeah, there’s no question. As I already noted, this book took me longer to write in terms of hours, it just was exhausting mentally. I think my record was eight entries in an entire day on a weekend or something. You imagine how many hours that ended up being to get 366. No question.

I will say one of the fun things about it is my wife and I have been married for 36 years and other than being around me, she doesn’t participate in the business in a formal way. This book has been fun because we can read it together and maybe instead of talking about the kids and the dog and the house, we’re actually talking about some entrepreneurial things or questions or ideas at a much deeper level regarding the business.

I’ve heard from couples, I’ve heard from some businesses that have bought this for their team, that it is a potential way to stimulate some deeper conversations we don’t often have, that I think can help bring people closer. I think entrepreneurs are the greatest servants of good for the world and I think the world needs a lot of good right now. So I think an army of self-reliant entrepreneurs can maybe help us bring a little bit back together. I know that’s a bold statement, but I truly believe that’s the power of entrepreneurship.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, I don’t think big things happen through big entities. I think the history of our country would suggest that it is small, merry bands of men and women who have a passion around something that are relentless in its pursuit that actually have changed our world. That’s the opportunity, I think you’re right, that entrepreneurs have.

John Jantsch:

And this book, it does delve in the transcendentalists, as they were labeled. Many of the writers were labeled. It was really just a way to talk about how they were bringing up thoughts that were not common, particularly in religion. But they borrowed very heavily, I think, from a lot of the Eastern wisdom spiritual text that suggested we’re all connected. I mean, if we’re all unique, if we all possess a unique soul and we’re all connected in some fashion. Again, I know we can get very woo-woo here pretty fast, but I think that that suggests both self-reliance and empathy at the same time. We have to follow our own path but that we have much to learn and gain from understanding each other better. I think that that’s probably a little bit of what’s lacking or missing right now in what I feel like is a pretty divisive time in America.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, as you were saying that I was thinking, “Boy, there’s probably not a better time in recent history for that spirit to be encouraged and fostered.”

I promise we will get right back to the content of this week’s podcast, but I wanted to chat with you for a quick second about the Build a Better Agency Summit. As you probably know by now, we are launching our first what I hope will be annual, conference in May of 2020. It’s May 19th and 20th in Chicago and it’s going to be incredible. I can say that with all humility because it’s not about me. It’s about the amazing speakers that are going to be there and it’s also about the amazing owners and leaders who are going to be there, who I know will share as generously as people on the stage. But we’re going to talk about everything from how to create multiple revenue streams for your agency, how to get out of the selling stuff business and get back into the C suite. How your agency can tweak your bus dev just a little bit and what is the tipping point that we have seen that has earned agencies over more than $25 million of new AGI just in 2019 alone?

That’s just some of the topics we’re going to cover. Right now, all the tickets are on early bird pricing so it’s not going to get any less expensive and I am confident that we’re going to sell out. It’s a pretty small venue, we’re going to have room for about 225 agency owners and leaders and I want you and your team to be there. Please spend some 2019 dollars on yourself in 2020. Grab your tickets now while they are on early bird pricing. And book your hotel really quickly because it’s a very busy time in Chicago and I want you take advantage of our room block rather than having to go out on your own and find a hotel room.

All right, with that, let’s get back to the content.

I was [inaudible 00:28:48] as you were talking, it seems to me that this would be a great exercise to do with a leadership team or an agency retreat, where you could pull out some of these questions and even have small groups and discuss them. Because there’s nothing surface about any of this. None of this is what’s your favorite sports team, or if they were going to make a movie of your life, who would play you? It’s not that kind of text, it really is soulful in its exploration.

John Jantsch:

I haven’t done this because all I wanted to do was bring the book out, but I’ve had people say, “Hey, we need the guide, we need the worksheets, we need the eight practices of self-reliance workshop.” Because I do think that that will help people get connected to the material at an even deeper level, and as you said, and share it and use it as a practical tool, those things are certainly in the works.

Drew McLellan:

Before we hit the record button, we were talking about how this is such a departure from you. From your very pragmatic, practical, here’s how you do things books and all the marketing advice that you’ve given on your blog and podcast and all the places where you create great content. Do you see this as a new direction, a new opportunity for you to maybe broaden your influence? You and I are about the same age and we’ve both been in business for 25 plus years. I think you get to a certain stage and you think, “Boy, I want to leave my mark.” When I was looking through the book I was like, “Boy, this is John starting leave an even deeper mark.”

John Jantsch:

Yeah, yeah. There’s no question that I wanted to take another direction. Between you and me, I love writing about marketing. You and I have lived through, I can’t imagine, a different world than what we’ve lived through in the world of marketing. I wanted to write this for myself, but I almost feel like there is this shift going on universally where people are realizing that mindset is as important as tactics, how to do stuff. So I wanted to write a book that was very focused on that. One of the things that has been, I think, a benefit to my career is that I like to explore new things. When social media and all those things came along, I mean, if anything, I was the person out there saying, “Well, here’s how you could use this,” as opposed to, “Oh, it’s the new thing.” It’s because I really enjoy that.

In a lot of ways, this idea of self-development as a tool, to me is just another avenue. But I can’t help but think that there is a way to merge what people see as mindset, why to stuff with how to stuff. I work with a lot of very small businesses. I mean, the brand is who you’re being. I think for a lot of businesses this idea has a very strategic application for the business as well. So I want to wind those two things together. Not just start holding meditation retreats, although I think those would be really fun. I mean, this book could be titled, The Self-Reliant Person. It doesn’t have to apply to an entrepreneur. That’s my context for doing my own business. I think if anything, I want to help celebrate being an entrepreneur by helping folks look at this self-reflection, self-trust as actually a brand attribute.

Drew McLellan:

As we said earlier in the conversation, being an entrepreneur is a bear. It’s tough, it’s lonely, it’s scary. There are great ops, but there’s plenty of uncertainty and difficult decisions that have to be made and executed. In some ways this book for me was an entrepreneurial self-care book. If you did this faithfully every day, I do think you would walk into those challenging days with a little more pep in your step, a little more strength, a little more confidence because-

John Jantsch:

A little more peace.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, a little more peace. I think it can be used in a lot of different ways. Probably the book and the reader come together and define how the book is going to serve the reader.

John Jantsch:

Well, we all know a lot of entrepreneurs just because it’s written about for years now, who have established some sort of daily ritual or routine to get themselves centered. Journaling, exercise, meditation, reading. I mean, these are all practices that Thoreau was a big fan of 150 years ago. I think a lot of entrepreneurs have really adopted that as a way to get themselves in the game, get centered, get peaceful because once you walk out the door life happens. Probably the most popular form of book right now being sold is a journal. I think it’s something that would certainly fit into a practice that maybe many people have already.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. Because I’ve known you for a while, I know that being out in nature and being connected to the outdoors is a big part of how you recalibrate and catch your breath. I know you’re a big cyclist. I couldn’t decide if it was because I knew you or if it was just in the book, but it feels like that connection to nature. Again, as you said, we can get super woo in our heartbeat, but this Mother Earth image permeates through the book. Was that intentional on your part or was it a reflection of the writers that you borrowed from in that era?

John Jantsch:

Well, I think it was both. I mean, it definitely was a reflection. I mean, probably the most cited work about individualism and living as nature asks us to live is Walden, by Thoreau. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote an amazing essay called Nature. It’s always been important to me. I grew up in a farm community. I live now half the year in the mountains and that outdoor connection to nature, I suppose it really started as I just feel better if I’m out. Sitting under a tree is such a better way to go through the day. But as I did dive deeper into a lot of this literature, and if you look at even ancient, ancient texts, there is this idea that we’re all living things, including the trees and the bugs and everything out there. And that nature really provides an amazing example how to live. I mean, trees don’t stress out over what’s going to happen tomorrow. They prepare for the seasons, they do what they’re put on this earth to do, they actually protect each other, they feed each other, but they don’t compete with each other necessarily.

To me, the metaphors are just rich, but also just the quantum physics if we want to go that path, I think is so obvious. When it really comes down to it, we’re made up of the same stuff that the trees and the dirt are made up of. I think that spending more time contemplating where we fit as opposed to trying to, unfortunately, tame the natural resources so that we can have more stuff, I think is just a healthier way to live.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, yeah. I wonder how many people turn to their birthday first?

John Jantsch:

A lot of folks I’ve talked to and done shows like this have told me not necessarily first, nobody wants to admit that probably. But certainly a lot of people do and I have actually read people’s birthdays. They’ll say, “Okay, read my daughter’s birthday.” I think obviously, the calendar year, that’s an important date for a lot of people, mark [crosstalk 00:38:06] milestone. I actually write a post about how we ought to celebrate more and that we ought to get cake for every time we accomplish something really good. As opposed to waiting to that one time a year to mark it on the calendar.

Drew McLellan:

Cupcakes more often, I think is a fine theme. At the end of the day, somebody picks up the book and spends really an entire year with you and some of these great masters that you have culled and matched up with your own thinking. What do you hope for them a year from now?

John Jantsch:

I think my biggest hope for anybody, whether they read this book or not, is that they find more joy in what they’re doing. That doesn’t equate necessarily to that thing you think’s going to make you happy, that goal or that objective that you have out there. But that you actually find more joy in what you have today in your business right now. I’m not suggesting this book is the answer to that, but it might be part of the puzzle. If you’re practicing something like this, if you’re reading things that do feed your soul a little bit, I think one of the things that will be natural, is you’ll become a little more mindful of what you can control. Which is actually very little. It is how you show up and how you respond to everything that happens. Those are the only two things we have any control over. I think that people that come to that realization and do spend more time in the present, focus on the present, will find more joy in what they’re doing.

Drew McLellan:

I did a podcast, I don’t know, a month or so ago and was just reflecting on the fact that we’re so busy chasing the next thing, that we very rarely as entrepreneurs and certainly as agency owners, stop and appreciate today. Yep, everything’s not perfect and yes, you’re having a struggle with an employee or a client, but you’re going to have that every day. But it’s a pretty good gig. Even on the tough days, the freedoms and some of the other things you talked about that are afforded to us, are a pretty unique privilege that I don’t really think we stop and just soak in as often as we could or should.

John Jantsch:

I agree 100%. I do it all the time. That’s the thing. A lot of the things I write about in here are things I struggle with. It’s not me saying I got all the answers figured out, by any means. It’s funny, as an author, speaker, you get a level of people treating you like you have all the answers and that you’re famous, I mean, at a minor, minor level. But it’s pretty easy to get caught up in that and start to go, “Well, I deserve this. I should be treated like this the rest of my life.” Unfortunately, it causes us sometimes to be idiots, but it also, I think, robs us of what we’ve actually accomplished. In an organization of any size, I mean, this is obviously said through the eyes of hindsight, but the greatest gift is being able to raise other people up. As opposed to sitting up there on what we think is the top of the mountain saying, “Look at me.”

Drew McLellan:

One of my favorite authors is Steve Farber and he wrote a book called, Radical Leap. His concept of the joy comes from being of service to people that you love and who love what you do. He’s right. I think we forget that sometimes in our chasing of whatever the next thing is. Certainly, as you and I are experiencing and your clients and mine, the world that we all live in, the marketing world, there is no sitting back and watching anymore. Everything is changing so fast that I think everyone feels like they can’t get off the treadmill. I think what your book does, is for a couple minutes a day, it allows you to stop and breath and appreciate and think at a different pace and level than the rest of the day is going to be.

John Jantsch:

Yeah, absolutely, 100% agree.

Drew McLellan:

It is a great addition to your library of books. A very different addition. I love all of your work, but this is the one that it feels like the impact it will have could literally be generational. You think about how somebody shows up at work and how, as you say, they celebrate this or they share this with their co-workers. If families start talking about these kinds of topics, if parents are modeling. Imagine a dinner conversation where they’re saying, “I read this interesting thing today that Thoreau said about yada, yada, yada,” and putting it into context of their 12 year old’s life. Those are some really rich conversations to have.

John Jantsch:

Yeah and it’s been fun to me to see how I’ve certainly responded to the literature, but a lot of other folks are saying, “Wow!” I have people saying, “I’d never heard of Willa Cather,” for example. It’s been fun bringing the cliff notes of that era of literature to folks as well.

Drew McLellan:

Well, hopefully they’re being inspired to seek out some of those authors and read their full works.

John Jantsch:

Yeah.

Drew McLellan:

As we wrap this up, John, thoughts? Because this will probably air right around the end of the year. The other thing is what a great time to start a book that starts January 1st. Is now would be a fine time to pick up the book and start it. But thoughts for my listeners in terms of putting the book to work, putting it into their life?

John Jantsch:

I struggle with that a little bit because I really do think that this isn’t a prescription. That people really need to figure it out themselves. Having said that, I do think that maybe looking at the themes for each month and thinking, “Okay, how could I maybe focus on that theme?” Or picking one practice; for example, mindfulness and using that for say, the month of January because mindfulness is a habit. I mean, mindlessness is a habit. Establishing a habit might take you more than one reading. It might take you 30 days of saying, “Okay, how is that showing up? How can I research that? What other books could I read on that topic?” Maybe almost look at each month as a mini growth seminar to figure out here’s something I feel like I need, so I’m going to go deeper into that topic or that idea.

Drew McLellan:

If folks want to track you down, they want to continue to follow your writing, I know most people are very familiar with you. But for the few that are not, how would they find you?

John Jantsch:

If you want to find out just about the book, it’s selfreliantentrepreneur.com. But if you want to check out the work that I’ve been doing over the last couple decades, it’s Duct Tape Marketing. That’s D-U-C-T-T-A-P-E marketing.com.

Drew McLellan:

Awesome. Thank you so much for being back on the show. Thanks for writing the book. It is a great tool. Like I said, it really feels like good self-care for the entrepreneur and we don’t do as much of that as we should.

John Jantsch:

No, absolutely. I appreciate you sharing and loved being on the show.

Drew McLellan:

Thanks, John.

All right guys, this wraps up another episode of Build a Better Agency. A couple quick reminders for you. If you’re listening to this in real time, we have some killer workshops in January all focused on bus dev. I know you’ve come out of the holiday haze thinking about growing the business and putting together practices to do that. We’ve got two workshops. One is about building and nurturing a sales funnel and the other one is about your prospects buying journey, so you can read more about those on the website. We will be happy to see you in sunny Orlando at late January.

Also, a big shout out to our friends at White Label IQ. Thank you so much for being our presenting sponsor. If any of you are looking for a partner who will help you with design development, PPC, all white labeled, head over to whitelabeliq.com/ami because they’ve got a special offer for you.

If you’re looking for me, you know how to track me down. I’m at agencymanagementinstitute.com and I will be back next week with another guest to get your thinking a little differently about your business. Thanks for listening. See you soon.

That’s a wrap for this week’s episode of Build a Better Agency. Visit agencymanagementinstitute.com to check out our workshops, coaching packages and all the other ways we serve agencies just like yours. Thanks for listening.