Donald Miller is the author of several books, including Best-sellers Blue Like Jazz and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. He helps people live a better story at creatingyourlifeplan.com and has a marketing consulting company at storybrand.com.
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- Donald could not get over the 350 person hump for # of attendees at his conferences. Then, he found the power of language – his audience’s language specifically. Find out how and why this changed everything.
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John Lee Dumas: Entrepreneur on Fire, 700 in 96. Boom, shake the room, Fire Nation. John Lee Dumas here and I am fired up to bring you our featured guest today, Donald Miller. Donald, are you prepared to ignite?
Donald Miller: I’m ready to go.
John Lee Dumas Yes. Donald is the author of several books, including the bestsellers Blue Leg Jazz and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. He helps people live a better story at creatingyourlifeplan.com, and has a marketing consulting company at storybrand.com. Donald, I’ve given Fire Nation just a little insight, so give a little more about you personally, and expound upon the biz.
Donald Miller: Yeah, well I run two companies. One is – we do life plans for people based on their desire to live a better story. And then the second company is called Story Brand, which is mostly what we’ll talk about. And I help people frame their brand messaging and make it more concise and compelling, also using the elements of story.
John Lee Dumas And a little bit about you personally?
Donald Miller: I live in Nashville, Tennessee. Got married a year ago. Let’s see, a year ago in one week. So still technically a newlywed. Love life in Nashville, and live with my wife and a chocolate lab. So life is good.
John Lee Dumas Life is good. Well, Donald, we had a pretty interesting pre-interview chat, where you basically admitted to me that you hate success quotes, that you hate all mantras. So we have a pretty interesting quote that you’re going to share with Fire Nation today. So why don’t you take that away.
Donald Miller: Well, I should say I don’t hate all quotes or mantras, but it’s the bane of my existence, John. I’ll write a – I’ll spend a year and a half on a book, and I’ll turn it into the publisher, and it’s 350 pages, and they’ll say, “Hey, can you just give us a paragraph for the back cover?” And I’m thinking, wait a second. I just spent a year and a half writing this. You want me to sum it up? I can’t do it. I’m too close to it. So I’ve never been super good at that part of it. So life is too complex to reduce it will be my quote for the sake of the podcast.
John Lee Dumas So Donald, there’s a lot of things that we’re going to be chatting about today because you have a lot of things going on in your world. And here at Entrepreneur on Fire, we’re really focused on the journey, Donald. I’m here for Fire Nation, and what Fire Nation is looking to hear is really some stories of your journey that we can really kind of pull apart, learn from, and apply to our lives as we go forward in this crazy world that we live in. And that first story that I really want you to share is a failure, is a struggle or an obstacle that you faced. You know, let’s kind of analyze those lessons that you learned.
Donald Miller: Yeah, I’ve got plenty. My favorite is I had sold a lot of books, being a writer, and I put together a conference, and only about 350 people came to my conference. Which sounds like a lot, but I had a friend kind of pull me aside and say, “Hey, look. You know, you sold millions of books. There really should be thousands of people at your conference, not 350.” And that of course, I accepted as a challenge, and I felt like a failure. And so I thought I want to do something about this. But I didn’t know what to do. I did another conference, 350 people showed up. Another one, 350 people showed up. And no amount of emailing or ads on my website or blogging about it would get more than that amount.
And so I got on an airplane one day, and you’re going to love this story. I sat next to a guy who was reading my most recent book, the book that the conference was based on. And I said to him, I said, “Do you like that book?” And he said, “I love this book. I’ve read it a few times. In fact, I’m on this plane to go hear the author speak.” I thought, he doesn’t get it, right? I’m the author. And I said, “Well, you know, I hear the author’s kind of a jerk actually.” And he said, “Well, I’ve never heard that.” And pretty soon, I realized he’s not going to get it. He really – and I thought, wouldn’t it be funny if I sat and talked to him for a couple hours, and then walked up on stage tonight, right?
And so I did that. I talked to him for two hours, and never told him who I was. But I learned something. I learned how a fan or a customer talks about my brand. And what I found fascinating was even though he really loved my product, what I wrote, and it had changed his life, John, he couldn’t summarize or put into words what I do or what I did for him. In other words, he didn’t have the language with which to spread word about what I offered. And I took that on myself, and said, you know, that’s my problem. I haven’t given them the language.
I haven’t sat down and thought of the kind of sound bytes that my customers need, not only to frame their experience with my products, but also to spread word about my products. And so I went off to a cabin a year later and spent a good bit of time, about five weeks, developing a process I could take my company through, based on the elements of story, based on telling a great story as a company through our brand messaging, making it very clear, compelling and concise. And took our company through that process, never intended that process to be known outside of my company. But the conference went from 350 to selling out the next one at about 1,000.
And we sold out the next one at about 1,700, and then we sold out the next one at 1,800. And so the process really worked. And then my staff said, “Why don’t we offer this to some other businesses and see what they would think of going through this seven-step process to clarify their communication?” So we put together the process, and I thought, well, you know, I’ll take a plumber through it or somebody, and put on my Twitter bio that I also have a division called Story Brand, where we help companies tell a clear story. And John, the very first call was Pantene, Proctor & Gamble. And I was shaking in my boots.
I just thought, oh heavenly days. I’m such a fraud, right? I developed this in a cabin, and have only taken one company through it, and that’s mine. But I went anyway and gave a big keynote speech, and they loved it and it helped them shape their Queen Latifah, Diva with a Big Heart campaign. And then the second call – and I’m not making this up – the second call was Ford, who was going to kill off Lincoln unless they could figure out their new ad campaign. And I wrote them a whole treatment based on the [inaudible] [00:06:38] story of how the character’s the hero, and Ford is the guide, and they need to brand the new Lincoln almost like Viagra, an extremely masculine way.
Whether that turned into this Matthew McConaughey series of ads, I don’t know. We just [inaudible] [00:06:53] treatment. And then the next call was Chick-Fil-A, and we’ve taken every department at Chick-Fil-A – not every department, but many departments at Chick-Fil-A through the process. And then the White House called about Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative that he’ll run after he gets out of the White House. So we were off to the races right away. And then turned it into a process that people can take in the form of a workshop.
But it all started with failure. It all started with somebody pulling me aside and saying, “Look, you know, you’re not reaching your potential, and this thing should be a lot bigger than it is,” for a different company, but that failure, we mined that failure. And now it’s the fastest growing division of our company, and it’s a joy to take organizations through it. So I’m grateful for failure. We learned – in story and the way story works, is characters never learn anything through successes. They can only learn and change through challenge and conflict and failure.
So failure is invaluable as a business leader. We have to mine it every time it happens, and see what we can learn.
John Lee Dumas Donald, there’s a lot of things that I really want to unpack here. First and foremost, I think the question has to be asked, did you ever have an interaction with that person on the plane after you gave the speech on stage?
Donald Miller: You know, I’m ashamed to say I haven’t. I thought it would be so funny to walk on stage and that would be the moment that he realizes he sat next to me for two hours. But then after I did it, he didn’t come up to me, and he didn’t say anything. And I thought, well actually, there’s a good chance he thought – he felt like a fool and maybe that was a dumb thing for me to do. So I’ve regretted it ever since. I should have said it at the last minute as we got off the plane. But I was trying to play a little joke, and hopefully it didn’t backfire. If he ever hears this podcast, please accept my apology. I’d gladly sit next to you on a plane and admit who I am next time.
John Lee Dumas I think that’s a good possibility. So if you’re out there listening and it was you on the plane with Donald Miller, reach out. He’s waiting for you. And Donald, something that you really pulled out that really made a huge impact with me is finding the language of your followers, of your fans, of people who are listening to your message. And Fire Nation, that is so incredibly difficult, but so incredibly critical. And by hard, like let’s be honest, what I mean by hard and difficult, is it takes actual work. And for most people, let’s be frank, word is hard, and that is difficult. But it takes actual interaction. It takes you asking the question, what are you struggling with?
It takes the interaction, what do you view my brand as? It takes you getting out there and having those one-on-one conversations. And Donald, what’s really sad these days, these days of just incredible scale and leverage, like this podcast right here that I just released to the world, gets out there in over 145 countries, and it’s going to do almost a million listens this month, Entrepreneur Fire, the podcast. So we think in these massive terms these days. And we forget about those one-on-one interactions, just that one-to-one – those conversations can be so powerful. I mean look what they did, Fire Nation, for Donald Miller’s brands. Think what they can do for you.
And so Donald, through all of this, I just shared with you my biggest take-away, what do you really want Fire Nation to absorb from this struggle you initially encountered, but overcame in life?
Donald Miller: Well, the biggest thing is exactly what you’re talking about. It’s understanding that the story of your business is not really a story about you. We normally have people come to Story Brand and sign up for a workshop because they want to tell a better story as a company. And that’s fine. I’m so glad that they’re there. I can teach them to tell the story of their company with a napkin over lunch. But the big conversion for us is to say, “Look, you’re not the hero of your story. Your customer is the hero of the story. You’re the guide. Your customer is Luke Skywalker, you are Obi Wan Kenobi. Your customer is Catness, you are Hamich.”
And that’s a radically different way of doing business. And you have to understand, and as soon as you understand that, your business grows. Steve Jobs, when he released the computer Lisa, he put a nine-page ad in the New York Times that was a bunch of technical data about his computer. Right? Failed miserably. He goes off to Pixar, he runs Pixar of course for several years, and he was only there because he was interested in the technology, but while he was there, he happened to sink right into the greatest storytelling organization in the world, maybe even in the history of the world.
They take two years to really fine tune a story before they start principal animation. When he came back to Apple, he knew how story works, and he also knew that Apple was not the hero of the story. Their customer was the hero of the story. And so nine pages in the New York Times of technical data came down and converted to two words. Think different. That got the attention of people all over the world who wanted to think different. Because finally, a computer company understood their story, understood what they wanted. And if we as a brand, if you as a brand, can understand what your customer wants, and speak to their external and internal fears, they will engage you.
They will. They’re hard-wired to engage you. And that’s one of the biggest conversion points that we teach in our workshops, is converting yourself from thinking of your brand as the hero, and being self-obsessed and narcissistic, to thinking of your customer as the hero, and understanding their story, and then playing the role of the guide in their story. And of course, there are things that are true to a hero and things that are true to a guide, that a guide needs to do. And we unpack those things, and if you do those things, your business explodes.
John Lee Dumas Fire Nation, absolute knowledge bombs being dropped right now. And you know, speaking about fire, Donald, did I hear a little Hunger Games reference in there with Catness?
Donald Miller: Yes. I just went and saw the – let’s see, I think two nights ago, we went and saw the latest instalment, and enjoyed it very much. It’s killing me though, you know, they’re going to make us wait another two years before we get to see how it ends, even though we’ve read the books and know how it ends.
John Lee Dumas Yeah, they’re doing the whole Lord of the Rings type things, where every Christmas it comes out. I can’t wait for December 17 when the next instalment of The Hobbit comes out. But real quick side note, and this is a big asterisk here too – I mean I do not recommend this, and neither does Net Flix, by the way, because it only has 1 ½ stars, but I did stumble upon a spoof on the Hunger Games last night. It’s called The Starving Games. And it’s with Can’t Miss, and the whole thing is a total spoof. It got horrendous reviews and went straight obviously to Net Flix, I guess is the way we say it nowadays, since there’s no more DVDs really that are out there.
And it’s not good. I don’t recommend it, but it’s funny that it’s out there. So Donald, what I really want to do now is do a little bit of a shift. You know, you talked to us about struggles that you had. You know, getting only 350 people at your conferences, when obviously, your capacity was much, much more. You know, we really dove into that and learned some great lessons. Tell us now another story, and this story I want to really focus on an epiphany, an aha moment, a light bulb that you’ve had at some point in your journey. So take us to that moment in time.
Donald Miller: Well, we realized when we were studying story, that we studied – it’s very hard research. You know, you’d sit around your boxes, you watched Tommy Boy, Hunger Games, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings.
John Lee Dumas: Starving Games.
Donald Miller: Exactly. You watch all these movies. But one thing that we realized early on when we studied all these stories, which really, when you’re studying story, you’re studying human psychology. And you’re studying how the brain works and what the brain is attracted to, which of course has everything to do with marketing. So, story and marketing go together very, very well. But what we discovered was there’s always an external problem. There’s a bomb that needs to be disarmed, or something like this that is causing trouble in the life of the hero. But the external problem is only there to manifest an internal problem in the life of the protagonist or the hero.
Now this is very important. So it can’t just be the bomb needs to be disarmed. It’s the bomb needs to be disarmed, but the last time a bomb needed to be disarmed, the hero couldn’t do it, and some people got hurt, and so now he’s filled with self-doubt. That’s the heart of the story, that self-doubt, that internal struggle that the protagonist is dealing with. Now here’s why it matters when it comes to marketing. Companies tend to sell solutions to external problems. Apple sells iPads and Mac Books, and local plumber sells parts for the toilet or the sink. External problems are what they solve. Now companies will go out and they’ll brand themselves as the solution to these external problems.
However, every external problem manifests an internal problem in the life of the customer. So, because the toilet doesn’t work, it’s frustrating, and they feel inept because they can’t fix it themselves. Apple chose, instead of focusing on the technology behind their products, they chose to market to the creative class, who has this internal desire to express themselves. And even a philosophical belief that technology shouldn’t just be for geeks, that it should be accessible to all of us, and we should all understand it. When we begin to understand how the problems that we solve for our customers are making them feel, and then sell solutions to how they’re feeling, the company will begin to grow.
I challenge you to go find the Apple iPad ad online that has Robin Williams quoting Walt Whitman about contributing a verse. Watch that ad as these iPads are used to film waterfalls and football games and band concerts and sumo wrestling, and all these amazing things, as Whitman is being recited over the top of these beautiful images being shot with this iPad. Not a mention of how many gigabytes the iPad has or how many pixels or how much memory. Not a mention at all. It’s all about the internal struggle and expression of the customer, that the iPad is then being used as a tool for.
So when we think – when our customers come to us – we want to think of ourselves like Q. James Bond comes to Q to get his weapons, to go out and win the day. And when our customers walk in the door or venture to our website, we should think of ourselves as Q. We should understand the challenge that sits before them. We should understand that they are probably filled with self-doubt and don’t know if they can go out and overcome whatever it is they have to overcome. And we should think of ourselves as selling the products and tools that they need to go out and win the day.
When the whole story’s about the customer, you will see your business grow. That was probably one of the biggest ahas that we’ve ever had, and it’s changed the way we interact with our clients. They are the heroes. We are there to guide them through that story.
John Lee Dumas I mean Apple does this so well in so many different ways. When you were sharing about the iPad, it make me think back to the iPod, where they finally figured out the way to market that, you know, wasn’t gigabytes, it wasn’t XYZ. It was, hey, this is a 1,000 songs in your pocket. Like do you get it? You can have 1,000 songs in your pocket. And that’s all that we as consumers cared about, was having 1,000 songs in our pocket, not 12 songs in this bulky CD. I mean it was incredibly well – you know, the story was told in an incredibly powerful way.
And Donald, I mean this is going to be a section right here where I’m just going to say, Fire Nation, hit the rewind 30 second button about seven times and listen to this a few times because you know, it’s just powerful, you know, what Donald is sharing with us here today. And you’ve had a lot of these, Donald, over the course of your journey obviously. But I want you to take us to the first thing that comes to mind when I ask you to share your proudest entrepreneurial moment.
Donald Miller: Well, it’s an interesting story. It’s not something that’s about marketing or branding, which is of course what we help companies do. But this is more heart to heart to your listeners. I’ve been in business a long time. This is my third company. They’ve all been pretty successful. This one is by far the most successful. But I spent years writing books, alone in my boxers in a cabin, writing books, and those books, I’m grateful, would hit the New York Times, and had a lot of success. But I missed working with a team. And so I started this company, not just to have a company, but also to build a little team. And I hired a guy named Tim who runs my company, who’s just brilliant, and a guy named Kyle Reid, who does all of our graphic art and design, and he’s wonderful.
And then we hired a fulltime writer named Cadence, and then I hired another guy named Kyle Hicks, who is our customer service guy, who really just interacts with our clients so well. Then we have a team of interns, and my wife works – well suddenly, I’m surrounded by a group of people. So here’s this introverted writer, who is now surrounded by a team of people, and I grew to really love these people. And I wondered, you know, what would it look like to structure my company differently so that instead of all these people serving me so that I can make a ton of money and my dreams would come true, what if I sat them down and said, “What do you dream about? What do you want?
What kind of house do you want? What do you want for your kids?” You know, those sorts of things. And we had these really intimate conversations as a team with each other. And then we put the numbers that we would need to fund all of our dreams up on a white board. And we took that number, and we said, “Okay, let’s build a company that funds this. Let’s tie all of our dreams together and try to build a company that funds all of these dreams.” Now none of us are super arrogant. We don’t want airplanes and Ferraris, right? We all are pretty simple people. But when we tied our dreams together, John, the morale of the team, walking into the office felt completely different.
Everybody wanted to be the first one there and the last one to leave. People wanted to work on the weekends. We now have to make people go home because we don’t – but I think business can do something else besides just make you money. Business can deeply improve the quality of your life, and it can deeply improve the quality of the lives of the people that you work with. Even if it’s just one assistant that you’ve hired, to be able to sit down and say, “Hey, let’s build something together and tie our dreams together.” Now you’re the owner of the company, you’re always going to get the lion’s share. You deserve that, especially if it’s your product or your content.
But what if we began to kind of almost father or mother some of the people who are working with us, served as mentors and got involved in their lives too? This made getting out of bed and working so much more important because it wasn’t just for my selfish ambitions. It was for the sake of others too. I don’t know if there’s something in there for your listeners, but I think we could spend our lives trying to get a lot of money. And by the way, it will never be enough. You will always want more. And at some point, we have to say, “Okay, we need to cash some of this in and begin to give it away and sacrifice a little bit for the sake of others, helping them achieve some of their dreams too.”
And that has dramatically improved the quality of my life. It all is proven by a psychologist named Victor Frankel, who talks about the importance of tying your dreams together with a group or a community, and going for it together, as a way of experiencing a deeper sense of meaning. And we’ve been able to do that at Story Brand. And I’m so very grateful. So my proudest moment, I would say, was more of an evolution, that we actually did it. That two of the guys said – they’re in their mid to late 20s – and they’re living in apartments with their wives, one with his two kids, his two cute daughters, and they’re running around 2 and 3 years old. And they said, “Someday I’d like to own a home.”
And I – of course, being in my 40s, I’ve owned a couple homes. So I knew the process wasn’t as hard as they thought. And I said, “What if in a year, you could make a down payment on a house?” And just in the past two months, both of those guys made down payments and now live in homes because of the work that we’ve done together. That to me is my proudest moment. And I’ve hit the New York Times; I’ve done all sorts of things. But none of it meant as much as that, as helping some people get a chance to step up to the plate, and both of those guys hit grand slam home runs, and I’m glad I got to participate a little bit in their story.
John Lee Dumas Fire Nation, I hope you’re as inspired as I am by what has made Donald Miller most proud over the course of his entrepreneurial career. And Donald, I’d love to get specific here. Let’s really just talk about present times, today. What’s the one thing that has you most fired up above everything else?
Donald Miller: Well, all the stuff that we’re doing with Story Brand. If you go to storybrand.com, you can read all about it. There’s plenty there, but I feel like a doctor who’s bringing babies into the world. You know, we’ve got business leaders, business owners who are coming to us every month, and we sit down and go through this two-day process. And they take their amazing product, that they’ve brought into the world, and most of them are already making a profit, but it’s like they’re inside the bottle and they can no longer read the label. And we’re just looking at it from outside, saying, “You think you’re saying this. But actually you’re confusing everybody. We have no idea what you offer.”
I actually review every single website from our clients, and I go through their websites, and I show them what they should and shouldn’t have on the website. There’s only about 30 people in every workshop, so it’s an intimate gathering. In every one of them, John, there’s usually one to two business leaders, business owners, who I will spend five minutes reviewing their website, and I can’t tell at the end of five minutes what they sell. That’s a really bad website. I don’t know. It’s not clear to me what you want me to do or how you can change my life. So that, of course, needs a complete overhaul. But to be able to help these businesses find simple, concise language, to communicate exactly what they do, always creates an uptick in their business.
And so that’s what gets me going. And it’s almost like – I mean I’ve written a lot of books, and I really love bringing a book into the world. But helping somebody else with their book is a blast. And it’s the same with brand marketing and helping somebody be more clear and concise in their communication. You know, people come to me all the time, and they say, “Don, your book changed my life,” or whatever. But the truth is, I wrote that book in my boxer shorts, you read it in your boxer shorts, there’s really no communication happening between us, that’s not like a message in a bottle.
And then how do you measure the change that you made in somebody’s life? But if I can help somebody with their brand messaging and six months later, their business is up by 25 percent, I can measure that, and I can go, “I did that. I helped this guy hit a home run, and I feel good about that.” So that’s currently what we’re doing, and just love it.
John Lee Dumas Storybrand.com, Fire Nation. And Donald, we are about to enter the lightning rounds. But before we do, let’s take a minute to thank our sponsors. Donald, welcome to the lightning round, where you get to share incredible resources and mind-blowing answers. Sound like a plan?
Donald Miller: Sounds great.
John Lee Dumas What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Donald Miller: The lie that it was for somebody else. The lie that some people are born to work for people, and others were born to work for themselves. It isn’t true. Anybody can be an entrepreneur. Anybody can start a company. It’s a learning curve. You grow as you go, but it is meant for you. It really is.
John Lee Dumas What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Donald Miller: When you fail, get back up. Failure is part of the process. You will absolutely blow it, get back up and keep going. Think of yourself like a football team. Of course, you’re going to get sacked several times in the game, but that doesn’t reflect the score at the end of the game. The guys who get back up and keep moving the ball will win the game.
John Lee Dumas Share one of your personal habits that you believe contributes to your success.
Donald Miller: Sure. Stay focused. You can really only focus on three major projects. So whenever I lose focus, which happens about once a quarter, I walk up to the white board, I say, “Okay, what are the three main things that I want to get accomplished in the next 12 months, this year?” and then under those three things, I make a to-do list, as much as I can, under that to-do list. And that white board is now my filter, and anything that is trying to distract me from getting those things done, goes away. I’m not talking about family, but I’m talking about people who call and want to have coffee, or somebody who wants you to help them work on a project or something like that.
If it’s not on that board, it’s not what I’m trying to accomplish, and I need to get rid of everything else. So as you succeed, you’re going to have more and more people wanting your time. Stay focused. I recommend staying focused on three things at a time.
John Lee Dumas There’s a great quote by Derek Severs that I just love here, Fire Nation. If it’s not a heck yes, it’s a no. It’s really that simple. And when you get to a point, when you do have all these demands on your time, like Donald’s at, it has to simply be a heck yes. And Donald, Fire Nation knows this is coming right now. Whenever one of my guests shares the word focus, I have to break in with my acronym. Follow one course until success. It has been so critical for my success, obviously for yours as well. I mean that focus is absolutely priceless. Donald, do you have an Internet resource, like Ever Note, that you can share with our listeners?
Donald Miller: Well, we tend to use Base Camp. We just love it. That’s how we keep everything organized. But I think your listeners probably already know that. If you want some free resources that we’ve got, go to storybrand.com. We’ve got a great free essay called Five Things Your Website Should Include. That will help you trim down your website so you get better response from it. But we tend to use the stuff that everybody else is using. We do use Ever Note a little bit, but we mostly stick to Base Camp.
John Lee Dumas If you could recommend one book for our listeners to go next to your books that will be listed on the show notes page, what would it be and why?
Donald Miller: Well, man, you know, I’m a writer, so you just opened a Pandora ’s Box.
John Lee Dumas: Just one book, Donald. I’m challenging you, my friend.
Donald Miller: Okay, now there’s a lot of great books about business. But I want you to read a book called The Seven Plots by Christopher Booker. It is about 800 pages long, and the text is smaller than your bible.
John Lee Dumas: Not on my Kindle. I can adjust that.
Donald Miller: It is fascinating. It’s a fascinating book on basically how there are only seven stories that have ever been told, and every story you hear falls in one of those seven categories. And it will be mind blowing. And of course, I translate it all to help companies do their marketing using some of those seven formulas. But he doesn’t do that. It’s all about the stories. But if you go read one book this year, that’s the one I would recommend.
John Lee Dumas Well, Fire Nation, I know that you love audio. So if you haven’t already, you can get an amazing audio book like this one for free at eofirebook.com. That’s eofirebook.com. And Donald, this next question’s the last of the lightning round, but it’s a doozie. Imagine you woke up tomorrow morning in a brand new world, identical to earth, but you knew no one. You still have all the experience and knowledge you currently have. Your food and shelter taken care of. But all you have is a laptop and $500. What would you do in the next seven days?
Donald Miller: All right, so this is starting a business, right?
John Lee Dumas: Anything that you, Donald Miller, want to do.
Donald Miller: Well, I’m going to need more than $500 to do everything I want to do, so that would do, is I would sit down with my laptop and I would write everything I know about the relationship between story, which is human psychology, and business, which is what we all do. I would turn that into a book and I would spend $500 printing it out or putting it online. I would distribute it to everybody that I knew or knock on doors and give it to everybody. And I would start a consulting business based on the people who called me with questions about their particular brand. In other words, I would do exactly what I’ve already done because it’s been a very fun and great life.
John Lee Dumas And the key words here a man of action, Fire Nation. He would knock on doors. He would do what he’s already done. He would take action. And Donald, let’s end this interview on fire, with you sharing one parting piece of guidance, the best way that we can connect with you, and then we’ll say goodbye.
Donald Miller: Okay. Well, here’s a great piece of guidance. You know, we studied the human brain for years, and the human brain is like a muscle. Throughout the day, the more mental energy you use, the more tired your brain gets, and the less able you are to think well, so if you actually get up and focus on one project in the morning, maybe even before you take a shower, or even before you have breakfast, if you can give two hours to the most important project that is causing you stress, that two hours will be worth eight hours later in the day. Your brain is that much more effective right out of bed.
So in the morning, I make sure I work on the most important thing first. Because the muscle is much stronger in the morning than it is in the evening. That would be the greatest piece of advice that I could give you in terms of being more productive and effective. Get up early, start working. And then the second thing, if you want to get in touch with me, find me at storybrand.com. We’ve got workshops that we’d love to have you at, and you can read all about what we do at storybrand.com.
John Lee Dumas Well, Fire Nation, you are the average of the five people you spent the most time with. And you’ve been hanging out with Donald and myself today. So keep up the heat and head over to eofire.com, type Donald in the search bar. His show notes page will pop right up with his sites, with his books, with his recommended resources. It’ll all be right there. And Donald, I just want to thank you for sharing your –
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