Charlie Hoehn is the host of the Author Hour podcast, and the head of author marketing for Book In a Box.
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3 Value Bombs
1) Give value to people and build relationships.
2) Stop sacrificing your health for your business.
3) Don’t be too serious. Insert play into your life—you need it!
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(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
[00:54] – Charlie lives in Austin, Texas
[01:04] – His main focus is in helping authors and thought leaders spread their ideas through books
[01:51] – Charlie’s area of expertise is helping people use free work to get paid
[03:23] – Share something we don’t know about your area of expertise that as Entrepreneurs, we probably should: Most people try to hit everybody at once, but the smarter approach is to pick one person and repeat it later on
[04:49] – JLD’s CPA today, Josh Bauerle, reached out to him and offered to do work for him for free
[06:03] – Some bad offers are just observations and feedback without the value
[06:16] – What Charlie did was approach people in a very personalized manner
[08:13] – Worst Entrepreneurial Moment: Charlie secretly abused a productivity drug, specifically, modafinil. Over the course of 4 days he was secretly taking the pill when he was helping to coordinate a conference. The event went off without a hitch, but after that Charlie was a mess – he had a physical and mental funk that lasted for a long time
[10:14] – Charlie soon ended up having to quit because he was experiencing paranoia and debilitating anxiety
[11:07] – JLD himself also had bad times in 2012-2014 because he took his health for granted
[12:33] – JLD’s life mission is now to get at least 8 hours of sleep
[13:13] – “Track your sleep!”
[14:34] – Entrepreneurial AH-HA Moment: The biggest idea Charlie came across was in the book, Play. As soon as Charlie read the book, he immediately understood the cure – he was “play deprived.” He spent a month playing and enjoying his life until all his anxiety and fears just went away and he felt normal again
[17:30] – What is the one thing you are most FIRED up about today? “I’m really fired up about having a daughter and an unrelated work thing – I’ve finished up a script for a comedy sketch!”
[18:06] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? – “Focusing and worrying too much about money”
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – “Don’t be too serious”
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? – “Really trying to be a good friend and trying to help others first”
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation – The Life Cycle App
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? – Deep Work – “it really made a big impact on me”
[23:47] – “Add more play to your life”
Charlie Hoehn: Yes, I am John.
John: Yes! Charlie’s the host of the Author Hour podcast, and the head of author marketing for Book in a Box. Charlie, take a minute, fill in some gaps from that intro, and give us a little glimpse of your personal life.
Charlie Hoehn: Yeah. So, I live in Austin, Texas with my wife. We just had our baby girl last month, so that’s exciting. My main focus right now is helping authors, and thought leaders with spreading their ideas, and their books. And actually John, I just release my latest book on Kickstarter called Play for a Living. And thanks to your help, your crowd funding podcast, we ended up raising $35,000.
John: Whoa, that’s awesome. Well, I love the platform of Kickstarter. I’ve used it to launch both the Freedom and the Mastery journal. It’s a great way for you to do more than just, “Sell a book.” You can really sell, and experience, and it’s a great opportunity. And I kind of want to talk more about that in a little bit, Charlie. But first and foremost, what would you consider, specifically, your area of expertise?
Charlie Hoehn: Using free work to get paid to do work that you love.
John: Share an example of a time that either you’ve done that or somebody that you’ve known has done that. Even like, “Wow, that’s a great use of this example.”
Charlie Hoehn: I’ve landed numerous dream jobs this way. I was able to work with Tim Ferriss for a number of years –
Charlie Hoehn: As his director of special projects. In my early 20s, I was fortunate enough to be able to help him edit and launch The 4-Hour Body. I also got to work with Remeet Satay and Tucker Max when I was in my early 20s. And I still work with Tucker. And it’s just completely different from the traditional job approach where you’re applying for a job. I mean, Warren Buffet has used this tactic. Kevin Rose – there are plenty of people who’ve used this to leverage themselves into great opportunities. And really, it’s just approaching somebody you want to work with and coming to them from a place of value rather than asking them from a paycheck or with the expectation of getting paid right away.
John: So, what’s something that we don’t know about, “Working for free,” at first and just providing value only first that as entrepreneurs we probably should know?
Charlie Hoehn: Most people try to hit everybody at once. That they try to do everything for everyone. So as entrepreneurs, I think the smarter approach is to pick one person to provide an amazing case study or an amazing gift for them, and then repeat it later on. So, for people who are applying jobs which is what I normally teach. I tell them, “You want to pick one person that you want to collaborate with and do an audit of their business.”
You look at what are the things that they’re working on? Where are they trying to go? And how can I come in and improve their efforts with my existing skillset? So, if somebody wanted to do that with you John, it would be really simple to look – because you have such an extensive body of work. And I’m sure you’ve gotten approached for offers of –
Charlie Hoehn: Free work. And some are really good, and some are bad. What are some of the ones that stood out to you as really good?
John: Well, one thing I will say before we go into the good ones. I do think it’s important to note the custom audit thing. I think that’s so important because I get so many bad ones, where it’s so obvious –
Charlie Hoehn: Yeah.
John: That it’s all boiler plate. The people are just copying and pasting to other influencers, and just filling in the blank, and doing this, and that. And you can see –
Charlie Hoehn: Yes.
John: That from a mile away. Some things that I’ve seen that have been really good, for instance, I have my CPA today because he re-shelved me to John and Melissa on the show. This is way back when we just first started monotonizing. He’s like, “Now that you’re starting to publish your income reports, I could see you’re making a lot of money. I really hope that you’re doing the right thing with that as quarterly estimates, etc. Let me do the work for you for free to show you what I can do, and then when we can go ahead and talk about down the road, like what a good partnership might look like.” And I was like, “This is exactly who I need.” I was going to have to do this on my own –
Charlie Hoehn: Beautiful.
John: Anyways. So, he came to me, he was an amazing guy – Josh Bowerly. And what’s kind of cool Charlie is that within six months, he impressed me so much that every single report since then, it’s been the last 40 income report. We do one every month. He’s been a guest on to talk about a great accounting tax step and he actually –
Charlie Hoehn: Wow.
John: Changed his entire business name on, by the way, my idea and blessing, to CPAonfire.com. And over 90 percent of his business comes from Entrepreneur on Fire listeners.
Charlie Hoehn: That is an amazing story. Good for him.
John: Yeah. Thanks for turning the mic –
John: Over to me.
Charlie Hoehn: You got it. I mean, well it’s really common with anybody who’s online who has a solid platform and a bit of a following, they start receiving these offers. And some of the bad ones that really stand out are just offering – just saying to you, “Oh, I don’t like your website design. You should fix this and this.” When the person’s not a professional website designer.
So, what I was doing like with Remeet Satay, I approached him and I said, “I really love your stuff. It’s impacted my life. It’s benefitted me in a lot of ways, but I see that you are trying to create better content for your readers. You’re actually great on video, but you never do video.” This is many years back before he was doing courses and stuff. And I said, “You know, I’m a videographer. I can handle all your video editing –
Charlie Hoehn: “All you have to do is shoot it, send it to me, I’ll take care of uploading – all the cumbersome stuff that’s really tedious. And let’s try that for a month and if we like working together, let’s talk about a more formal arrangement.” And he and Tucker both ended up introducing me to Tim because of those types of pitches. And anybody can do this, you just have to do it in the personalize way that you talked about.
John: So powerful in so many different ways Fire Nation. And I really think that we just need to say, “Hey, how am I putting value front and foremost?” This is so key and when we’re going to be going down that road of saying, “Listen, this is what I want to do and I want to excel in it.” Well, you should be thrilled with the opportunity to work with people that are going to be able to get your name out there, get your influence and brand out there.
Going to be able to maybe create some testimonials like you. Like you got Charlie from Remeet, which flexed you over to Tucker and to Tim. And now you’re still to this day working with Tucker, years and years and years later. But let’s be honest, it wasn’t like you were this straight shot rocket to success. You’ve had some struggles along the way and that’s actually –
Charlie Hoehn: Oh, yeah.
John: Want to talk about is not just the struggle, but what you consider your worst entrepreneurial moment to date. What is that moment Charlie? Tell us that story.
Charlie Hoehn: Sure. So, I’ve got a few, but I’ll tell you the worst one. For me, personally, was the time that I was secretly abusing productivity drugs, specifically Modafinil, which was developed for military fighter pilots to keep them awake during multiple day missions. Now, prescribed for the people with narcolepsy. But over the course of four days, I was secretly taking this pill when I was helping to coordinate this conference. And over the course of those four days, I got six hours of sleep. Now to put that in perspective, your body needs one hour of sleep for every two that it’s awake. So, I was getting one hour of sleep for every 16 hours I was awake.
And sleep deprivation, I think – the reason I bring this up is entrepreneurs all go to sleep to cut it and to increase their productivity. But depriving yourself of sleep is every government’s go to torture method for prisoners of war. So, the story behind it was I was helping with Tim Ferriss’ Opening the Kimono Event which was an amazing thing. We had all these entrepreneurs flying in from all over the world who paid a lot of money in Napa Valley. And leading up to the event, I was drinking three to five cups of coffee per day.
I was just hustling because I was in my early 20s and I was just worried that the event would fall apart if I wasn’t paying attention to every single detail. And the even went off without a hitch, but after the event was over, I was a mess. And I had this downward spiral after that event into a really bad physical and mental funk that lasted for a long time where I ended up having to quit because I was mess. I started having panic attacks, experiencing paranoia. I just had debilitating anxiety for a long time and tried everything to get out that state. So, I would say that the habits that or the mindset that led me to thinking cutting off sleep was okay was ultimately the worst thing I did as an entrepreneur I suppose.
John: Let’s talk about that for a second because there are a lot of things that we do as entrepreneurs – we sacrifice a lot of things. And we hear that we’re sacrificing a lot. We sacrifice sleep. Sometimes we sacrifice exercise. Sometimes we just sacrifice overall health in general and it’s just a zero sum gain in my mind. I will say for myself, 2012, 2013, 2014 was nose to the grindstone. Working, working, working.
And one day I looked up said, “Man, my health has gone done. My really – enthusiasm and overall energy has dropped.” And that’s kind of when I made a major shift in the middle of that year. And for the last three years 2014, 16, and here 17, I’ve been focused on health and wellness as a really balanced part of my life. And you know what? Maybe I didn’t get as much done on certain days, but at the same time, I didn’t burn out which happens to a lot of people. And we’re in this for the long –
Charlie Hoehn: Yeah, man.
Charlie Hoehn: Game. So, what would you say –?
Charlie Hoehn: Right.
John: Charlie, is the biggest take away for entrepreneurs that are listening to your worst moment?
Charlie Hoehn: So, before I ask that, John, I’m curious. Did you have a boiling type moment, a worst moment? Or did you just gradually realize that you needed to taper back?
John: I’m laughing because this is the second time you’ve turned the mic around which I love –
John: Hey, I’m tired man, of asking all the questions. You’re my fourth interview today and it’s been a great day, but it’s good to have a few questions thrown my way too. And I wish I could talk about this dramatic moment because I think that might be more impactful to the listeners. But being honest, no. It was kind of just like a slow burn where one day I’m just like, “You know, I’m not where I want to be. And I think if I do keep going down this road there will be a boiling point.” So, I caught in time, although I wish I had caught it two years earlier. I still caught it before that boiling point. And now it’s my life’s mission to get eight hours of sleep. To put the right foods in my body –
Charlie Hoehn: Good.
John: To exercise every single day on some level because I want to being doing this 30, 40, 60 – hey, I’m not going to lie. Antiaging is coming 150 years from now.
Charlie Hoehn: Right. You’re good at it. You should keep doing it.
John: This is episode 17,423 with Charlie Hoehn. Charlie, it’s been about 16,000 episodes, how you been doing?
Charlie Hoehn: Oh, still good, still good. Sleeping a lot. To answer your question, the big take away, I think, for people struggling with it is track your sleep. I mean, that’s what’s helped me the most is being really aware of that. I use the Sleep Cycle app and as simple as that is, it goes a long way because you are confronted with the data and you can’t lie about the data. Can’t lie to yourself.
John: I’m using a few cool tools as well like Bed It which is actually like a little script that goes under your bed. And what’s cool about is it only has to go under your side of the bed and then you can get up in the morning, it connects to your app and it tells you what your sleep cycle was, how much you were moving, what quality of sleep did you get, you get a score. And once you kind of gamify things, especially for people like myself, maybe you’re in the same camp. I love numbers, I love gamifying. I love trying to beat my last score.
Charlie Hoehn: Yeah.
John: So, hey if I can get a better sleep score, I win on all fronts because I’m actually getting better and I’m sleeping more. So, that’s an awesome score to talk about. I’m sure one of the many, “Ah ha,” moments. One of the many great ideas you’ve had. I mean, we’ve talked about a ton. Reaching out to Remeet, Tucker, Tim, you name it. Focusing on your health and wellness, all these things are great ideas. But what’s one of the greatest ideas that you’ve had to date? And how Charlie, did you take that idea and actually turn it into a success?
Charlie Hoehn: Love this question. So, the big idea that I came across was in the book Play by Dr. Stuart Brown and this was the book that eventually led to me getting out of that funk that I was in for well over a year, close to two. And as soon as I read the book, I immediately understood the cure which I’d been chronically play deprived. Everything in my life before that, I’d made into this serious grind. Focus on productivity, results, money. And that wasn’t why I had done the free work in the first place.
I was just looking to get myself into a fun and exciting opportunity with great people. And that spirit got lost along the way. And so, I started adding play by into my life like personal things that I did when I was a kid that no one had forced me to do. So, I started playing catch in the park instead of going on coffee meetings. I started playing home run derby with Tucker on the weekends. I signed up for improv and over the course of a month; it just slowly dissolved all the anxiety.
I felt back to normal and I wasn’t afraid anymore. I just felt like my normal self and I didn’t think it was actually that remarkable. I just thought it was a huge relief, but then I blogged about my experience and for the last four years, the article that I wrote has been the number one Google result for the search, “Cure anxiety.” So, it ended up being this really great thing that ended up benefitting a lot of people who struggle with anxiety and think the only answer is drugs, basically.
John: That must get a done of hits. I mean, I literally just Googled, “Cure anxiety,” and, “How I cured my anxiety by Charlie Hoehn,” is the first one to pop up for me 19, 2013. And it’s like, that’s the number one search result for, “Cure anxiety.”
Charlie Hoehn: Yeah.
John: It’s above health.com. It’s above theanxietycenter.com. It’s above Health Guide. It’s up above RD –
Charlie Hoehn: Yeah.
John: By the way, it’s above Oprah.com.
Charlie Hoehn: Right. Yeah. Because I just think there aren’t a lot of – we can talk –
Charlie Hoehn: SEO and stuff, but I didn’t gain it. That was thing; I didn’t know anything about SEO really.
John: Well, that’s why for four years it’s one. Because when you try gain SEO, eventually Google figures it out. But when you just –
Charlie Hoehn: Exactly.
John: Write a great article, you win.
Charlie Hoehn: I was so frustrated for the longest time because I felt there wasn’t that much great information out there either. So, it’s really been one of my proudest things that I’ve been able to help others with.
John: Charlie, what are you most fired up about right now?
Charlie Hoehn: So, personally, I’m really fired up – not only if you have a daughter – but in an unrelated work thing, I just finished a script for a comedy sketch that I’ll be filming and putting together for our company retreat –
John: Oh, cool.
Charlie Hoehn: That’s coming up. And that’s just one of my favorite things is creating these sketches and putting them together. It’s a blast.
John: Well, Fire Nation, we’re going to have a blast in the lightning round. So, don’t you go anywhere, we’ll be right back after thanking our sponsors. Ready to rock the lightning rounds?
Charlie Hoehn: Yes, sir. Let’s do it.
John: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Charlie Hoehn: Focusing and worrying too much about money. I’ve found every time I do that, it backfires. It’s obviously something you have to take in consideration and it has to be at the forefront. It’s got to be a focus for sure, but if you’re only focusing on that, then you tend to neglect being generous, and helpful, and being valuable in a service. And when you focus primarily on those things, at least I’ve found that money comes to me much more easily.
John: Well, I focused on money for six years in my 20s and didn’t have a penny by the end of that. And I think you’ll resonate with this quote –
Charlie Hoehn: There you go.
John: Charlie. It’s by Albert Einstein. “Try not to become a person of success, but rather a person of value.” Trying to become a person of success, trying to make a lot of money, get respect, and do all this stuff, and if you go on the flipside – become a person of value. Well, guess what? “Success,” can then find you. And what would you say is the best advice you’ve ever received is?
Charlie Hoehn: Don’t be too serious, my mom.
John: Yeah, I love that. And I get people all the time, they say, “Hey, if you could go back to the 20-year-old JLD, what would you say?” And I always say – I tell them, two words, “Chill out.” Like chill out, stop taking –
Charlie Hoehn: Yeah.
John: Life so seriously. You freak out at 16, at 20, at 25, at 35 because you just think like, “Okay, now my life is – I have to get serious.” Chill out. Charlie, what’s a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Charlie Hoehn: I guess it depends on how we define success, but I think if anything has contributed to my success; it’s how much other people have helped me along the way. And I think that the habit is just really trying to be a good friend and trying to help them first because they’ll want to help you back. It’s just how humans tend to operate. Most of us or a lot of us are givers. A lot of us want to reciprocate and I’m not always a great friend, but I try to be. And I try and come to that – approach business that way. And I think if you try and do that online, it’s really hard. It takes a really long time to build up trust and an actual friendship. So, get out there, meet people, and realize, and be friends with them, and help them.
John: If you could recommend one resource, Charlie, what would it be and why?
Charlie Hoehn: I’d probably pick The Life Cycle app in addition to tracking sleep and all that stuff. It makes it easy for me to see trends of how I’m spending my time over the long run. So, how many weeks on average per week am I hanging out with friends? How many hours am I working? How much time do I spend at the grocery store or in the car? It just makes it easy to see where that time’s being spent and how I can make switches.
John: Well, my number for the grocery store is really simple because it’s zero.
Charlie Hoehn: Yeah, there you go.
John: If you could recommend –
Charlie Hoehn: Right.
John: One book, what would it be and why?
Charlie Hoehn: Well, I’m sure everybody’s read The Four Hour Work Week, so I won’t pick that. Entrepreneur on Fire –
John: Back handedly slide it in there.
Charlie Hoehn: Right. I would say honestly, if you haven’t read Deep Work by Cal Newport, you should. It really made a big impact on me. I think the ideas in there are super, super important and relevant to anybody doing anything online right now.
John: Yeah, it’s kind of random you said that because Audible just reached out to me, they’re a sponsor. They’re like, “Hey, by the way, what are your five favorite audio books you’ve purchased through Audible?” And I was thinking about them and I actually went through the list that I bought over the last five years and I’m like, “Oh, my God. I spent so much money on audio books,” but one of my top five that I pulled out of there was Deep Work. And it’s so true.
Charlie Hoehn: Yeah.
John: And it’s so good. I just love the idea of that distraction free focus and how that residue – that word still sticks with me from that book. Like how – yeah, you might just think that beep from your phone was just a quick beep and it’s done. But you carry that into that task.
Charlie Hoehn: Right.
John: You carry that going forward. That residue just stays with you, Matrix style. And by the way, Fire Nation, as I’ve mentioned, Audible. You can actually get Deep Work for free. If you’re not an Audible member yet, just go to EOfirebook.com. Get a free book and 30 days for free. You’re off to the races. And Charlie –
Charlie Hoehn: Boom.
John: Let’s end today on fire with a parting piece of guidance, the best way we can connect with you, and then we’ll say goodbye.
Charlie Hoehn: Sure. So, the best way to connect, I think, is to listen to Author Hour on iTunes or you can also find me on CharlieHoehn.com.
John: Love it all and that’s H-O-E-H-N, Fire Nation, because you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. And you’ve been hanging with CH and JLD today. So, keep up the heat. And Charlie, I might have missed it, but what was that parting piece of guidance?
Charlie Hoehn: To add more play into your life. To revisit who you were as a kid and think about the activities that you repeatedly and voluntarily turn to when no one was forcing you. Add some of that into your week and see how you feel.
John: Fire Nation head over to EOfire.com. Type Charlie in the search bar, his show notes page will pop up with everything that we’ve been talking about today. These are the best show notes in the biz. They’re even better than Charlie’s. Timestamps, links galore, and of course, check out Author Hour podcast and CharlieHoehn.com. Charlie, thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that, we salute you and we will catch you on the flip side.
Charlie Hoehn: Thank you, John. This was awesome.
John: Hey, Fire Nation. Hope you enjoyed our chat with Charlie today. And everyone’s scared of losing, but in my book, I teach you how to finally win. Visit howtofinallywin.com to learn how to create your dream life one – that’s one step at a time. I’ll catch you there or I will catch on the flip side.
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