Geoff Nicholson is a coach, trainer and speaker working with entrepreneurs and organizations to increase their resilience to maximize their performance, allowing them to dramatically improve the integration between work and life.
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- RescueTime – Geoff’s small business resource
- Essentialism – Geoff’s top business book
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3 Key Points:
- Find something you love to do and think of ways to make money from it
- Perfectionism is paralyzing. Just start shipping something.
- Focus on strategy. Record your processes. Work on creating a sustainable business, not just in the business.
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Time Stamped Show Notes:
- [01:20] – Geoff started out working for his grandfather’s sweet factory
- [01:43] – Health complications from meningitis led to extreme depression and a suicide attempt
- [03:27] – “I thought: I need to find out what moves people from this point to getting their life back on track.”
- [04:53] – Geoff generates revenue through coaching, training, and speaking
- [06:21] – Worst Entrepreneurial Moment: Losing 3/4 of his list in the financial crash and realizing he didn’t have a strategy
- [08:05] – “I didn’t have any strategy… my biggest lesson has been making sure I have a plan and I’m recording my processes.”
- [09:52] – “You are the only person in charge of your destiny: take responsibility.”
- [10:14] – Entrepreneurial AH-HA Moment: Realizing that he needed to expand his market – and that would happen when he started creating his own content
- [12:43] – “You have limited time. Spend it on what you’re fired up about.”
- [14:04] – “It’s not about being safe, it’s about challenging yourself every day.”
- [14:17] – Biggest weakness? – Perfectionism
- [15:03] – Perfectionism is paralyzing
- [15:13] – “If you aren’t embarrassed by the shipping of your first product, you waited way too long.”
- [15:20] – Biggest strength? – Tenacity
- [16:11] – What has Geoff most fired up today? “The program I’m launching – Success IQ”
- [18:45] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? – “Fear and the lack of belief in my own intelligence”
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – “Find something you love to do and find a way to make money from it”
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? – “Journaling”
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation – RescueTime
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? – Essentialism
- Imagine you woke up tomorrow morning in a brand new world, identical to Earth, but you knew no one. You still have all the experiences and knowledge you currently have – your food and shelter is taken care of – but all you have is a laptop and $500. What would you do in the next 7 days? – “Make sure I have a website. Visit local networking events and find out peoples’ needs. Then create a series of programs to help then. Look for opportunities to speak, create value, and promote my program.”
- [21:36] – Parting piece of guidance: “Don’t think you need to be fast. Working slow is more effective 9/10 times”
- [21:54] – Connect with Geoff at his website
Geoff: Absolutely. It's midnight. I'm cooking on gas.
John: Yes. Geoff is a coach, trainer, speaker who works with entrepreneurs and organizations to increase their resilience to maximize their performance, allowing them to dramatically improve the integration between work and life. Geoff, take a minute, fill in some gaps to that intro and give us a little glimpse of your personal life.
Geoff: Yeah, okay. So, first off, most important thing, I am a father and a husband to my wife – who I've known since I was 8 years old –and my two amazing sons. My life really started off very different than it is now. I originally started off working for my grandfather's sweet factory – just the taster and doing sales and stuff. And I bounced from job to job, not really finding where I wanted to be. And, in 2000, I was going through a tough time with stress – I wasn't very good with handling with it – and, in 2000, I was rushed to the hospital with meningitis. I spent 24 hours in a condition where they needed to make sure I was going to live.
There was one point where they thought I was on my way out. I got back – it took me six months to recover – and then, almost a year to the day I was rushed to the hospital again with what they suspected to be bacterial meningitis, this time. And that took me a long time to recover from. I then found myself crashing very, very quickly. I spent a year in bed, sleeping 22 hours a day and then was house-bound for the four years where I only needed a wheelchair and a walking stick to move about. And that really got me into severed depression, and anxiety, and all of that stuff.
And then it was January 2006 when I looked at my life and I went, "I can't put my family through this anymore." No one knew how long I was going to suffer from it, my condition. And I actually left the house to commit suicide. I knew where I was going, how fast I could get the car and the big oak tree would deal with it. But a very strange thing happened – as I was heading towards that car, at that tree surrey, I heard my eldest son's voice tell me, "Not now."
And I skidded to the side of the road, obviously bowled my 6 foot 2 frame out and, at that moment, it was a click and it was a need to find out what moves people from this point to living an amazing life because it has to be possible. So, since then, it has been my mission, once I got my life back on track and the lessons I learned from my life, is how it is that I can support people to get their life back on track.
John: Wow. What an intro, Fire Nation. It's just one of these things where we can always compare our lives to other people that are rocking and rolling – the Richard Bransons of the world, the Mark Cubans – and, when we compare our lives to those people, we are going to despair and that's just a recipe for disaster so don't do that. But then you hear Geoff's story and you hear where he's been, and where he's come, and now where he's going – that's the kind of perception that we want.
That's the kind of story that we really thrive on, as entrepreneurs where we say, "Man, here's a guy who was literally heading towards an oak tree to end his life. A voice in his head – his son's voice – stopped him. And look at this ripple effect he's had in these past ten years, now, as he continues to grow and do what he does – not only for just his family, now, but for other people. So, no matter how tough you have it, no matter what your low is, this is an example of how you can turn that low around like Geoff has. So it's going to be a great story today. But, Geoff, we're going to start off by talking about today in the present because you are on EOFire so some good things are going on for you. How are you generating revenue today?
Geoff: Currently, my main revenue streams are coaching, training, and speaking. So it's coaching either entrepreneurs but also senior execs and supporting them to move their business and life further on is what we aspire to do. It's helping staff and mentoring them to return back to work if they've been off on long-term… they need to get back to start reengaging with life and, also, the business. The training is corporate training – whether it's training people to be more resilient and increase their performance through stress management and additional strategies.
And then it's getting out there and speaking about what are the strategies, what are the techniques, what are my philosophies about how to really crank up that resilience so you can deal with the challenges of being either a business owner or working within a business in high pressure environments and then getting out there and making life rock.
John: Now, Geoff, you share with us a pretty moving worst life moment that you've had. That was such a tough moment that you had. Again, you were just a couple yards, miles, whatever it was, away from just going ahead and ending it all. That's a tough moment but now let's shift to another story and this is what you consider your worst entrepreneurial moment – so in the business sense. What do you think that moment is? And take us there and tell us that story.
Geoff: Okay, and I started my business on November 1st, 2007 and things just seemed to be going fantastic. I had come through that story that I shared at the beginning and, all of a sudden, business was doing great and I was working with people who were going through the same sort of thing that I was. And within about six weeks, all of a sudden, I found myself flying over to Norway every week for holding three days, seven and a half hours continuously for about three, four months. And there was this opportunity where I had prospects in Philadelphia and Boston and they wanted me to go over. What basically happened was I was naïve and, because I'd never had a business myself – it was my first time – and I looked at it and I thought, "Right. I'm working my butt off. I'm not engaging with my family," – which is one of the reasons why I stared my own business – that's ironic.
But then what I found was I decided to take the children, some holiday off which was about eight weeks. And, just as I came back – or in the middle of the holiday – the crash hit with the banks and, all of a sudden, my list dropped by three-quarters. It just disappeared. The people couldn't afford it anymore and they didn't want to do it. And my lesson was I didn't have a plan. I had no structure. I realized I was caught in the momentum in the busyness of it and just doing workshop, after workshop, after workshop, seeing client, after client, after client, and not recording any strategies and how I was succeeding.
And that was my biggest lesson – it's the biggest lesson I've ever learned through my whole entrepreneurial journey. And there's been many mistakes, as most entrepreneurs will admit to, but that's been my biggest. It's making sure that you have a plan you record your strategies and processes that allow you to, when things go quiet – because there will be peaks and troughs – is to record that and know what you need to do to get it back.
John: Man, Fire Nation, this is the journey that we are on as entrepreneurs. So there are going to be things that are outside of our control, outside of our influence. There are going to be things that we did directly influence and maybe didn't work out so well. The key thing that I really want to share here – and I'd love to get your feedback, Geoff, but I’m a big proponent of taking responsibility for the situation at hand. This is your business, this is your life, this is what's going on. We can sit here and complain about things crashing, we can complain about the economy stinking, or about this person, or that person, or the internet going down. We can complain about a lot of things in life but, when we actually just take responsibility and say, "Hey, I'm going to own this. I'm going to recognize the situation. I'm going to live in the reality of it and I'm going to improve upon it," that's where a true entrepreneur is born. So, Geoff, that's my big takeaway from your story and you've shared it a couple great takeaways at the end, there, but just maybe, in one sentence, what do you want to make sure our listeners get from your story?
Geoff: I think you're absolutely right. It's responsibility because only you are the person who's in charge of your destiny – only you can take action and, if you are in a state of inaction, then it's only you who has to take that responsibility, as well. So I think you nailed it on the head, there, to be honest, John. Responsibility was the big thing for me from that.
John: Well, thanks, Geoff. Now, you have a lot of great ideas in the course of your days, your weeks, your months. You're just an entrepreneurial guy. So take us just to one of those, one of your greatest ideas, one of your greatest aha moments and tell us that story.
Geoff: It was a good few years ago. When I started my business, I spent the majority of my focus working with people who suffered the same conditions as I did and what I realized was I attended a convention where I was speaking at and it was educating people about stress and how they can improve their performance on it. And it was outside my comfort zone because I was used to working with really sick people and what I would describe as not healthy-minded people – they were people who were really sick.
And, during that time, I started to identify that there is quite a lot of similarities to the problems that occur through stress entrepreneurs and stress business owners – not to the drastic case that I was working with – but symptoms, the limitations, the kind of things that go, and the effects that it has on their health dramatically decreases their performance, and productivity, and, ultimately, the company's profitability.
The aha moment for me was when I realized, at that time, I was doing a training course that someone else had created and it was focused on this one very small group. And it was niche, but it was a niche that, realistically, wasn't really a great income generator. There were vulnerable people and there was a heart thing that wanted to help them but I had to really put my business hat on and go, "I need to branch out my market to create a bigger impact," – not only from a financial benefit for me but also from that, I guess, a deeper sense, for me, was to make a bigger impact and help more people. And the aha moment was, "I need to break off from doing someone else's stuff and really spend 100 percent focusing on my own content and teaching from my own experiences."
John: Fire Nation, all we have is time. We have a certain amount of bandwidth, energy, money – you fill in the blank, there. We have limited resources of these things. How do you want to be spending this time? How do you want to be spending this energy, this bandwidth, this potential motivation that you have? Do you want to be spending it on somebody else's stuff? Do you want to be spending it on something that you may not be enjoying – something that you're not fired up about? Or do you want to be spending it on something that you know is speaking through your greatness, something that you're really good at that you want to become great at, something that you just have excitement and passion for that you want to get skills in?
How do you want to be spending this limited resource of time, energy, bandwidth, money – you fill in that blank? It has to be on that thing that you just know that you can bring to this world through your voice that's going to make a big difference and add a ton of value. So, Geoff, that's my big takeaway from what you went through – that whole process of shifting it toward our listeners, Fire Nation. What do you want to make sure our listeners get from your story?
Geoff: I think, realistically, you've got to follow your intuition. Deep down, I think you know if something that you're doing is not right and that you start to understand that you have to start making shifts to move your business in the direction it wants to go. And saying it's not all about being safe. It's about challenging yourself every day and expanding that knowledge, that wisdom, that impact to the people that you need to influence.
John: Geoff, what's your biggest weakness as an entrepreneur?
Geoff: My perfectionism. I'm a dyslexic and I've really struggled with that ever since I was a child. And I am constantly having conversations with my master end group and they're constantly saying, "It doesn't have to be…" Obviously, we want it to be great but it's never good enough for me. So it's that constant perfectionism – it's probably a weakness and a strength in some sense but it's pretty much –
John: Yeah, we call it a cheat answer.
John: We really do. It's like you're sitting down at an office interview and they're like what is your weakness and you're like, "Oh, I'm such a perfectionist and I work so gosh darn hard.
Geoff: Yeah, it's a double edged sword.
John: It is true, though. I'm going to be completely honest with you, Fire Nation. Perfectionism can be paralyzing because, guess what, it's never going to be perfect. You just have to ship that product. Get it out the flipping door. Reed Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, he's famous for saying, "If you're not embarrassed by the shipping of your first product, you waited way too long." Geoff, what is your biggest strength?
Geoff: Tenacity. The one thing that I surprise myself with, even though I did get to that moment where I took the ultimate decision, it wasn't because I was a coward – it was because I couldn't put my family through it and I had dealt with that for six years. And what I realized was, when I started to review my skill, if you want – when I started to think about starting my own business – tenacity kept coming up because I'm a pit bull – I won't let go. And especially to something I do now and I get this opportunity to support people to achieve their greatest dreams and desires whether it be business in life, I'm never giving up on that at all.
John: Love that. Geoff, what is the one thing that you are most fired up about right now?
Geoff: A program that I'm releasing very soon which is a subscription online program called "Success IQ" and that's what I'm working on. And there's an awful lot of nights, mornings, evenings, and everything else going into getting this program launched which will be launching soon.
John: And where can Fire Nation find out more?
Geoff: They will be able to go to my website which is geoffnicholson – that's G-E-O-F-F – Nicholson.co.uk and there'll be information on there. They can sign up and get some information about it.
John: Well Fire Nation, we have tons of value bombs awaiting you in the lightning round but we're going to take a quick minute to thank you sponsors.
Geoff, are you prepared for the lightning rounds?
Geoff: Oh, yeah, absolutely. This has been like Christmas.
John: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Geoff: Fear and the lack of belief in my own intelligence.
John: What is the best advice you've ever received?
Geoff: Find something you love to do and think of ways to make money from it.
John: What is a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Geoff: It would have to be journaling. It's something I've gotten into when I was ill and it was all about curating a success journal and recording the data and I can use it as a creative release.
John: Can you share an internet resource, like an Evernotes, with Fire Nation?
Geoff: Yeah. Now, hopefully – I've been scouring through all of your podcasts and trying to find one and, hopefully, they haven't used this one but it's called "Rescue Time."
John: Oh, I think that has not been mentioned for a while, at least.
Geoff: Ah, damnit.
John: It's something that I actually use, too, so I can definitely vouch. If you could recommend just one book, Geoff, for our listeners, what would it be and why?
Geoff: Alright, this has been a real challenge for me but I have to say, "Essentialism" by Greg McKeown. And the reason for that is one of the things I see quite a lot is the busyness that entrepreneurs get themselves into and they create this noise around them and it pulls them away from focusing on the major outcomes. And this book really talks about focusing on the critical essential tasks to help move your business forward.
John: Geoff, this is the last question of the lightning round but it's a doozy – 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?
Geoff: Okay, so the first would to be to make sure I've got a website. The second one would be to visit local networking events to meet the owners of businesses, the decision makers and to find out what their pains and needs were. And once I'd identified that, I would create a series of programs from entry, mids, to high level to create that for them. Then I would look at opportunities to speak at – whether it be at network meetings, or expos, or trade shows, or taster days – and I would share and educate them but, at the same time, promote this program that would help them.
John: Geoff, I want to end it today how we started which is on fire. So give us a parting piece of guidance, share with us the best way that we can connect with you, and then we'll say goodbye.
Geoff: Okay, so my advice is don't think you need to work at this super-fast pace because, 9 out of 10 times, working slower is actually more effective than working faster. And the way to get ahold of me you can join me on my Facebook – on my website, sorry, which is www.geoffnicholson.co.uk and there'll be links to all my social media sites and you can sign up for the newsletter and all of those sort of things.
John: Fire Nation, you're the average of the five people you spend the most time with. You've been hanging out with GN and JLD today so keep up the heat and head over to eofire.com. Just type Geoff, G-E-O-F-F, in the search bar. His show and his page will pop right up with everything that we've been talking about today – all the links you named, it'll be there. But, of course, geoffnicholson.co.uk is his direct website. Go check it out. And Geoff, I want to thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today and, for that, we salute you and we'll catch you on the flip side.
Geoff: Take care of yourself.
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