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Module 2 of 9
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The Million Dollar Mindset

The Million Dollar Mindset

“All I do is win, win, win, no matter what.” DJ Khalid 

 

I tell people my first business was my web design company, but that’s actually not true. When I was 13 I started a car wash business, with a gross lifetime revenue of $5.

I asked a friend what the best way to make money was, and he told me car washes were in. So, naturally, I had to build one. I started by building a wooden frame with 2×4’s I found in the woodpile behind our house along with a few PVC pipes. I drilled holes in the pipe, blocked off one end, taped a hose to the other end, and screwed it into the top of the 2×4 frame to create a rinsing mechanism as a car drove under the frame as water dripped through the holes in the PVC pipe. Then I took sprinklers and fastened them to either side of the frame, to create a side rinse of the car. This is what I called my super soaker frame!

That business took me a week to build and only had 2 customers, totaling $5. The $5 was less than the cost of the soap and sponges I used to wash the car before it would drive under the super soaker frame. 

Call my first business a failure if you want, but I learned more while building that car wash than high school ever taught me. I learned that if I saw a vision in my head, I could create it. Not only could I create it, but I could monetize it. 

My siblings and I used that same woodpile behind the house to justify tetanus shots because of all the rusty nails we stepped on and to build two large wooden playhouses that were tall enough to stand in and of course an attached stage for drama – mostly dedicated to recreating the pirates of the Caribbean.

Most kids are given a toy and told to go play with it. So they learn what the toy does and they use it for that purpose. Over time this contributes to a consistent mindset of being told how something works and using it for that purpose alone. 

When you’re given something and not shown what to do with it, it allows you to imagine what COULD be done with it and not have a preconceived idea of the purpose. We’re given 90 some odd years to live, and most people are told how to use those years; go to high school, go to college, get a job, get married, have kids, save up and live off that retirement. 

But when you grow up not having a preconceived notion of what the purpose of life is, you’re left to imagine it, create it, learn about it, and build wealth beyond money. 

Ever since building my car wash as a 13-year-old, I’ve imagined, created, learned and monetized. Sometimes unsuccessfully. But occasionally, I strike gold. The secret is, you start with imagination and you just don’t quit. You can never let your failure break your habit of imagination. 

 

So what is “mindset”? 

Mindset is a narrative, or beliefs you have, especially about yourself that shape how you see the world and the situations around you. In the simplest of terms, mindset is what you believe is possible. Carol Dweck, a notable Stanford psychologist, simplifies mindset into two categories: 

Fixed and Growth. A Fixed mindset believes their situation is fixed, and “it is what it is,” whereas a growth mindset sees the world through a lens of opportunity. 

 

Why does mindset matter? 

“As a man thinks, so is he.” this simple quote is quite literally one of the most effective and prolific principles in modern success stories. But why? Is there really truth behind it? 

The reality is, science has proven that your thoughts are actual physical things, having shape and weight. In fact, many scientists actually refer to your thoughts as maps. That’s right, literal MAPS. Some roads you travel down more than others. 

The Bible says “renew your minds daily.” and this process of “renewing” your mindset is one of the most powerful and effective tools you can have as an entrepreneur and as a person. 

Entrepreneurship isn’t easy, but it’s even harder when you’re in a negative space, a negative mindset. 

So first, we’ll talk about how to put yourself in the right mindset, then we’ll chat a little about consistently renewing your mindset to create longer-lasting mental habits. 

 

So how do you put yourself in the right mindset?

 

Let’s talk a little about “Faking it till you make it”

Faking it till you make it isn’t about lying to yourself or others till you reach success. It’s about creating a mindset that helps you reach the success you’re envisioning. 

When I started my web design business, I had zero, and I mean NO experience in web design. With the exception of the “millennial coding camp” known as the myspace layout customizer which made anyone born after 1981 an expert in HTML and CSS. 

But, I knew one thing, I needed money to pay for school. I had just moved into my dorm at Christ For The Nations Bible college and had about $20 to my name. The down payment to get into the school was donated by my brother and the school didn’t accept loans or scholarships, just cold hard cash. So I had to find a way to come up with the monthly tuition. 

Most of my newfound friends at the school created fundraising videos explaining their vision of changing the world or shipping off to Africa for missions in an effort to solicit friends and family to help support their tuition. 

Why not get a job, you may ask? Well, classes were all day, and electives in the evening, so finding a job in the few precious evening hours was hard. Though, some students valiantly took that approach. 

At the time, probably due to pride but let’s just call it resourcefulness, for now, I decided I would earn my way instead of asking for money, without sacrificing evenings or asking friends and family to support me. 

As most journeys do, mine started on Google. “What are the best ways to make money online?” 

After combing through the typical list of selling on eBay and creating a blog that used referral links – the original influencer marketing model – I rediscovered web design. I say “rediscovered” because my brother Daniel had spent years designing websites when I was younger. 

The only logical thing to do next was to get clients. No – you’re right, the logical thing to do would have been to learn how to design websites, but in the words of the great Theodore Roosevelt, “Far better it is to dare mighty things…” 

I started on Craigslist, you know the listing site that allowed anyone in the world to advertise a product or service. Sure, it was mostly used to sell cars or old mattresses, but it had become ripe with service ads. 

I posted a few listings, offering my services for free. Yep, free. 

I didn’t even know HOW to build a website yet, so it can’t be worth much I thought, might as well give it away for free. I figured I’d learn along the way. 

The genius behind it, though I’m not sure I realized it at the time, is those first few clients that came in for free and dirt cheap ($200) brought me more clients than I could ever ask for through referrals. And thus started my first online business. 

Why is this important? 

Because I said yes to something before I had all the information, talent, or understanding. I believed I could do something, and I did it. 

I’m not entirely sure what my mindset was at the time, or what I imagined in my head. But I clearly remember understanding two core things: I needed money and I knew I had set my mind to things before, like the car wash I was able to make them happen, how much harder could this be?

 

Thoughts together, stay together.

If you smile you get happier, if you are confident you attract deals, if you focus on failing, you will. 

When it comes to your thoughts, correlation equals causation. When you link two things together, you can use one to propel the other, but only when one is true. This is one of the tenants of The Hebbian Theory, which talks in length about the consistent firing of neurons together becoming strengthened over time.

You may not be wealthy yet, have the life you’re dreaming of, or perhaps you haven’t even started your business. But when you choose a mindset of growth, all of that becomes possible. I don’t mean “possible” as in, it can rain down from heaven. I mean “possible” in the sense that it’s impossible to accomplish what you don’t believe is possible to begin with. 

Faking it until you make it is just confidently believing because you or someone else succeeded in the past, you are able to do it again in spite of any potential failure. 

Often this looks like saying “yes” to things you’ve never done. Which sounds big. But it’s one of the easiest things we do as humans believe it or not. You couldn’t walk before you walked, you couldn’t talk before you talked, in fact, literally everything you do on a daily basis you couldn’t do at one point. 

No one believes Steve Jobs built the world’s most impactful computer BEFORE he built the world’s most impactful computer right? That’d be silly, but on the other hand we don’t believe we can do something because we’ve never done it before? You can’t do what you haven’t done, but to do it, you have to first imagine it. 

Every great undertaking started with imagination. Then required action and subsequent trial and error until perfected. Like walking, it takes months to really nail it down, but when you do, you never think about it again, you just do it. 

What people are currently taught in our school system is that they must first learn then they can build. But remember the car wash I built? I wasn’t taught how to do it. Thomas Edison wasn’t taught how to invent the light bulb. The Wright Brothers weren’t taught how to build a plane. You get the idea. For the most successful people in the world, learning comes AFTER imagination and building, not before. Usually in the form of failure. When you learn how to build a car, all you can build is a car. When you learn how to imagine, you can build anything. 

I’m cautious to venture into this, but learning actually teaches you to NOT use imagination first. Learning says, “here, I’ll show you HOW to do this.” not “Here are the tools, now how would you use it?” If we apply Dweck’s earlier notes on mindset we could say learning first produces a fixed mindset, whereas imagining first, creates a growth mindset. 

 

Imagine, build, learn, monetize. 

This is not to say that you can’t build off knowledge, in fact, accumulated knowledge is the only way to really perfect what you’re building. Knowledge comes from lessons, and lessons are best attained through failure, whether yours or someone else’s. Knowledge is not living, merely a tool, imagination is alive and uses your accumulated knowledge with mixed ideas to build something new. 

The moral of the story is if you can learn to build upon previous successes by recalling them when you’re faced with a new challenge that you’ve imagined, you can propel it into creation through positive reinforcement of past action and your brain’s desire to grow. 

When the mind believes it can, it does. When it believes it can’t, it won’t. 

In essence faking it till you make it is merely putting your mind WHERE you want to be, sometimes physically and sometimes mentally, so it knows what to work toward. 

 

Put your mind where you want it to go. 

After I dropped out of college – yes, I know, the cliche success story of a millionaire that dropped out – I was broke. So broke I was living with my friend and his wife, for free and couldn’t afford a new car when the axle broke in half. 

But despite being broke, I would put on a nice button-up and go to whatever luxury car dealership I could find and test drive nice cars. 

Within a few years, I owned one of the luxury cars that I fell in love with when test driving. The 2017 Lexus RC 350 F sport. I thought it was one of the sexiest cars I’d ever seen. But before I could buy it, I needed my mind to know where I was going and help build a path to get there. 

Every time I would get down, or feel like I wasn’t going anywhere, instead of sitting in that feeling and letting it grow, I’d go test drive that car again. This was while I was working on my web design business and hustling, while I was failing my way to actually making something successful.

This might sound a lot like believe it and receive it, or prosperity gospel for entrepreneurs, and you’re right. It probably is, but you know what, it worked. I don’t really care what you call it, but I do know there’s a science behind placing yourself in the future, mentally and physically, to not just stay motivated, but to teach your mind to love the future and not fear it. To help your mind build that map of thoughts. 

If you don’t have a dealership around you, it’s okay, the principle obviously isn’t about the car. It could be a new home, a luxury apartment, a new computer, or literally just paying rent, doesn’t matter. Go tour the house, the apartment, demo the computer at the apple store, just put yourself in your goal, in your future, show your mind where it should go. 

I also spent hours a day imagining where I wanted to be, whiteboarding and dreaming up companies and ideas. I never said no to an idea,  and I still don’t I let them run their course and explore them in my head and on paper. Usually, within a few minutes, I realize if it’s a trash idea and let it go altogether. 

Visualization is real. Your thoughts are actual things, that carry weight and substance, spend time visualizing where you want to be, even just to put your mindset back on track when emotions are holding you back. The idea isn’t to fight negative emotions, or negative thoughts, it’s to convert them into a tool, to use the emotions created by visualization to redirect you to a solution based mindset, a mindset of growth, and not a stagnant, fixed mindset that says what is just is. 

When I was first starting in business and had a big meeting but didn’t own a suit I would go to the local suit store, buy a fancy suit for the meeting, and if I sold the deal, I got to keep the suit, if not, I’d take it back. 

Though now, I’d probably say it’s borderline stealing and don’t recommend it, it was never done in a spirit of deception, but instead, I did it to put myself in the mindset of success and motivation. This is no different than smiling to feel happy. The act of wearing the suit helped me “feel” the part, and thus act the part.

 

The Power of Reward

The second most powerful thing I did to fix my mindset was teaching my mind to love making money. I don’t mean to say “the love of money” because, as I’m sure you’ve heard, that’s the root of all evil, but rather the “love of making money.”

In American middle and lower-class culture, we’re taught to hate money. We don’t think we do. But money in our mind equals lack. We never have enough to pay rent or to go on vacation. You may not personally resonate with this but in some aspects, you might see money as a negative thing that you always have to sacrifice for; trade your hour of work for $12, trade going out with friends for the trip you’re saving for, trade your fun time out with friends because you don’t have the money in the first place. 

Successful people believe in sacrificing money for themselves, not the other way around. What if you could change your mentality from I can trade my hour for $12 to $12 buys me an hour, if so what could I do with that hour to make $24? This is the core of true entrepreneurship. 

I made that mental shift by spending my money instead of counting it all the time or obsessing over how much I didn’t have, or hoarding it all away for a .5% in a savings account. Yeah, I know this sounds backward, but hear me out. 

Even when I didn’t have a lot of money, I rewarded my brain every time I accomplished something of significance, starting with small wins and eventually massive contracts. When you reward your brain, by using money to buy an experience that you love – creating dopamine, your brain gets addicted to making money and reaching goals. 

It started small, a nice dinner when I sold a website, to a new car when I signed a massive contract. The reward should be relevant to the result you created. This helps your brain solve bigger problems each time. 

 

You have to learn to enjoy your money or you just won’t make more of it. Why would your brain want to help produce more of the thing you stress the most about?

Building on success is the key to more success. I’m sure you’ve heard of the “Matthew Effect” but if you haven’t, in essence, it’s taken from the verse in Matthew that says “For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.” or more simply put; “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.” 

This isn’t just based on a Bible verse (Matthew 25:29) or a simple adage, it’s a principle and actually based in science. When you win once, you’re exponentially more likely to win again. When you sell one contract successfully, you’re likely to do it again, and this time, for much more. But when you lose, you’re more likely to lose because of your mindset of failure. This is perpetuated by a continued outlook of negativity when we tell ourselves “I can’t win because I haven’t won.” which is rarely the case, everyone has won at SOMETHING, otherwise you wouldn’t be alive. The major difference between winners and losers is the ability to recognize, acknowledge and celebrate small wins, despite the inevitable big losses. 

This continued winning is partially mental and partially chemical, but winning contributes to a mindset of growth, forward-thinking, and a “can-do” attitude, because you did do it. Growth is merely doing something you’ve done before, just a little bit different, meaning you’ve never done it THAT big, or that way before. 

This is how the rich get richer, they believe they can do it because they’ve done it so much that their mind approves of the new challenge that’s not completely different than the previous challenge, but MUCH more rewarding. This requires rewarding the mind, it requires fabricating success sometimes and celebrating small successes over and over again to teach your brain which patterns of thinking are most beneficial for you. 

 

Positive social reinforcement 

If you show me the 5 people you hang out with, I’ll show you your future. You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again and again. That’s because just like the earlier mentioned adages, this one is rooted in truth as science as well. 

But I want to take you a little deeper than just who your friends are. Remember the Matthew Effect? Well, it applies pretty heavily here too. When the rich hang around other rich people who only reinforce their mindset of wealth, they only get wealthier. It’s paramount you surround yourself not just with people in your stage of life, but people that are beyond you. 

I joke a lot that my 3 best friends are all 15+ years older than me. I just relate and have more fun with people that have made it further in life. I always felt there was so much to learn and the truest form of education is found in deep friendships with people different from you; different stages, different lessons, and different failures. 

You don’t need to go find a bunch of people way older than you to be your friends, and I definitely didn’t set out to do that either. But you do need 3 types of friends: 

  1. People who want to go where you’re going. 
  2. People who are where you’re at. 
  3. People who have already been where you want to go. 

People are one of the strongest contributors to other people’s mindsets. We’re social beings, we crave connection, in fact, we value it so much we count opinions as truth. Oh, you don’t think you do? When’s the last time you checked the google reviews of a restaurant you wanna try, or a movie you wanna watch, or even asked the lady at Kroger which wine she recommends? Those are all opinions that you’re using to make life decisions, albeit small ones. 

Social compliance and influence is so real that we can go to colleges we don’t want to, start jobs we don’t really want, or even move places we don’t actually care about all because of someone else’s opinion. We dress a certain way, buy stupid things, and eat how others eat so people don’t think we’re weird. 

You’re wired to try and mimic everyone else, but so is everyone else, so there’s a bit of irony there as only the people that break out of that cycle can influence the cycle. The principle here is, no matter how strong or hard-headed you are, you’re influenced by the people around you. Influenced by their mindset, the way they think, and by what they’re doing. Surround yourself with people that drive you forward, contribute to your mindset of growth, and accelerate your success. 

 

Mental Capacity

This is arguably the most important part of this entire module. I spent years learning this lesson and still to this day struggle with it. It’s like some addictions you just can’t kick and they stick around like a sore ex-girlfriend. For an entrepreneur, potential is the most addicting thing in the world. People with potential, ideas with potential, etc. We’re feans for it. We see potential in everything.

This makes us great entrepreneurs and great coaches for the people we’re leading. But it makes us absolutely trash at prioritizing anything. Including what we give our minds to. 

What I’ve learned is that your time is not your most valuable asset, contrary to every common business teaching out there, in fact, I believe your mental capacity is the most valuable thing you own. You can buy more time when your brain is more efficient, and it can’t be efficient if it’s crowded. 

Think about it, most of the greatest problem solvers in our recent history are known for solving one or two significant World-changing problems. They solved it in a moment; sure it takes years to build up to a solution, but they chose to solve ONE problem at a time. 

No, this isn’t a “just do one thing at a time” sermon. Rather, I believe as an entrepreneur if you do one type of thing well at a time, you find the greatest version of success. 

One day a mentor sat me down and told me I was doing too much. He found out I had about 6 different projects I was working on and was trying to start multiple companies at the same time. I wanted everything inside of me to tell him he was wrong. In fact, I even went on explaining how I had all my separate projects organized and how I was the one person on earth who could be successful at so much at one time. Okay, that last part was just in retrospect what I sounded like. 

About 3 months later, my new company had crumbled, costing me a year and $150,000 in investment, I missed some pretty big issues in my agency, I lost a customer and if all that’s not enough of a lesson I felt a mess. It didn’t crumble because of lack of potential, or even lack of funds. Merely from a lack of common direction created from other projects stealing so much of my mental capacity. Most of the side-projects I was running weren’t even important to me or my ultimate vision. 

Just because something has potential doesn’t mean you have to say “yes”. 

My mentor was right. But not in the way he thought. The reality is I was doing too many different types of things at the same time. Truly successful people do the same “type” of things over and over again, because they can, over time, guarantee the same result. Sticking to what you’re called to, what you’re good at doing is paramount. That’s what I mean by “same type” of thing. 

Think of mental capacity as a pie chart and every project you personally accept or are involved in fills a piece of that pie. Often as an entrepreneur, when accepting a new project or starting a new company we say “no, really, this project won’t take any of my time.” but I assure you, if you said “yes” to literally anything, then you’ve spent some of your mental capacity.

Your mind works in the background on everything, literally everything. Even as you rest, or play a game, it works to process, it works to solve, and to build a log of ideas. This log is instantly accessed later when it’s needed and is often mistaken as a spontaneous idea. 

Protecting mental capacity means avoiding filling that whole pie with things that don’t solve the problems you’re passionate about solving. 

The cool thing is the same “type” of projects takes less mental capacity because they’re categorized in your brain as the same group of things. Over time your brain actually gets better at solving issues in similar projects because it builds a neural network that associates prior successful solutions with new challenges. When solving the same problem over and over again your brain automates so much of it that it eats less and less mental capacity as you take on more similar projects. (For more on this topic read Blink by Malcolm Gladwell.) 

So packing in more of the same type of work and type of projects doesn’t take up as much of the pie as adding up projects of random and totally unrelated work. I first became successful because I focused on what I was good at and I did it over and over again and the contracts got bigger and bigger. Different contracts, for different projects, but the same type of work. 

So how is mental capacity actually more important than your time? It’s simple really; all ideas come from your mind or mental. And when your mind is bogged down and convoluted with projects and side gigs that don’t contribute to your ultimate vision, as I learned the hard way, you’re stealing success from your main thing. 

Protecting your mental capacity and the number of projects you have floating around in your head can save you hundreds if not thousands of hours wasted on distractions. Perhaps more importantly, not overcrowding your mental capacity can directly contribute to the amount and quality of ideas and solutions you have to offer to the project or projects that matter most. 

At the end of the day, mental capacity equals money. You’re an entrepreneur, you create with your mind, and if your mind is packed with thoughts about doing, you can’t create. 

 

Don’t forget the adventure

During the first few years of business, even now sometimes, I got caught up in the hustle and became way too focused on “reaching success” that I forgot the fact that me having the freedom to do what I wanted WAS SUCCESS. Business is an adventure, it’s about having fun, being creative, and doing what you love. 

As an entrepreneur, you’re really just an adventurer, a pioneer out on an open range. Sometimes we lose sight of that and are just as tied up in our stress as we were in our 9-5. Give yourself grace and patience to enjoy the process. Sometimes success looks more like saying no to keep your sanity than saying yes just to earn more money by signing a new client. 

These days, I take one business day a week and don’t work at all. I call it my “vision” day. I’ll dream up ideas, go golfing, sit in the city and read a book, get an Airbnb somewhere, and just have fun. The goal is to renew my mind, flush all the stress, and remind myself of why I do what I do. 

The vision day transformed me as a business person because it taught me the importance of stepping back and giving your problem-solving brain a break, to observe the world, and ensuring I’m not so focused on my project that I let life pass me by. 

You’ve got one life and you chose to pursue a purpose above security. Don’t lose the passion for that purpose by drowning in “success.” Take a break, do the things you love outside of work, be with people, and above all, find peace and rest in the building. A door forced open isn’t a door worth entering. It’s okay to go slow and take a breath. 

 

Key Takeaways

 

  • Mindset is the narrative or belief you have about a situation and yourself. 
  • Mindset matters because where you think is where you go and over time your mental patterns solidify into a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.
  • Faking it until you make it is just confidently believing because you succeeded in the past, you are able to do it again in spite of any potential failure. 
  • Key to mindset: Imagine, build, learn, monetize. 
  • You have to teach your mind where you want to go, you do this by physically placing yourself in your goal. 
  • You have to reward your mind for making money if you want it to work for you to make more. Do this by celebrating wins and enjoying the money you make. 
  • The people we surround ourselves with are some of the strongest contributors to our mindset. 
  • Mental capacity is the most valuable thing you own. Protect your mental capacity because your mind is the source of everything you create. 
  • Don’t forget to enjoy business, it’s an adventure and your freedom is bought to be enjoyed.