Jonas Koffler is co-author of Hustle: The Power to Charge Your Life with Money, Meaning, and Momentum. Known for his innovative work as a consultant, writer and producer, he advises internationally recognized thought leaders, artists, entrepreneurs and forward-thinking organizations, and has contributed to bestselling books, award-winning media projects and social innovation ventures.
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- Hustle – Jonas’ book
- JonasKoffler.com – Jonas’ website
- Getting Even – Jonas’ top business book
- WorkFlowy – Jonas’ small business resource
3 Key Points:
- No matter what you’re dealing with, you’re lucky. But you have to work hard to continue cultivating that luck.
- Form powerful partnerships.
- Learn how to say “no”—if you don’t, you’ll over-commit, and if you over-commit, you’ll just make people (including yourself) angry.
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Time Stamped Show Notes
(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
- [01:10] – Jonas shares his story.
- [03:51] – Bringing dollars in the doors for Jonas.
- [04:02] – POP — Personal Opportunity Portfolio.
- [06:35] – How Jonas actually brings dollars in the door.
- [08:30] – Worst Entrepreneurial Moment: Every day presents challenges, but this particular incident was six years ago… he tried to work together with a well-known individual to release a whistle blower book but the publisher dropped it.
- [11:28] – Entrepreneurial AH-HA Moment: When you realize the story is the connective tissue you start to form powerful partnerships.
- [12:41] – Biggest weakness? — Sleep or lack thereof, and over committing.
- [13:24] – Biggest strength? – Being an exceptional listener.
- [14:06] – What has Jonas most fired up today? – Book launch for Hustle
- [16:25] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? – Fear and scarcity of mindset.
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – If your heart isn’t in it, get out of it.
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? – Follow the 10-minute rule.
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation – WorkFlowy
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? – Getting Even
- [20:36] – Get out there and hustle — JonasKoffler.com
John Lee Dumas: You’d better believe it. Yes – Jonas is co-author of Hustle: The Power to Charge your Life with Money, Meaning, and Momentum. And over his innovative work as a consultant, writer, and producer he advises internationally-recognized thought leaders, artists, entrepreneurs, and forward-thinking organizations and has contributed to best-selling books, award-winning media projects, and social innovation adventures. Jonas, take a minute and fill in some gaps from that intro and give us just a little glimpse of your personal life.
Jonas Koffler: I’m happy to share, John and honored to be with you. Thank you again for having me. All right – so as far as the personal life goes, I am happily married for 10 years to a beautiful woman who happens to be my toughest critic and I would say also my most ardent advocate and best travel companion. So it works out well. We balance each other. She’s also a professional who began as a wildlife veterinarian, which is kind of an interesting role and unusual. And I, being a bit of an unusual animal myself – she tends to help me out with the occasional problems such as thorns in my feet and the grooming issues and typical stuff.
And that of course keeps me reasonably presentable when out in public, which I guess is kind of important as an entrepreneur. But I will tell you broadly looking back it’s been a mostly fascinating creative adventure. That’s how I term my life and I’ve had the honor of meeting and working with some remarkable people, a lot of them entrepreneurs. I’ve learned a lot from them and hopefully have imparted some of my wisdom onto them as well so it’s been totally collaborative.
I’ve also been to a lot of places around the world – five continents now – and done a lot of cool things. I guess you could say I’m one of the luckiest people in the world. I do consider my luck to keep growing and I also think that it’s important for our listeners to get a sense that they are lucky no matter what they’re dealing with. But we forget that we have to work hard to cultivate more of that luck. And so in my case the adventure just keeps getting better and my luck keeps expanding exponentially.
And then beyond that I’ll tell you that I am based in Austin but given the work that I do in my entrepreneurial ventures and investments, I tend to travel about half the month between the East Coast mainly in New York and surrounding areas and the West Coast and I am also abroad as well. I spent some time in Central America and Mexico and Canada. Generally speaking I’m focused on media projects and consulting work that can range from books to political campaigns, business ventures, and creative projects like TV pilots and films.
John Lee Dumas: Wow – well, I love all of that, especially the part about lucky because Fire Nation, let’s just be honest with ourselves. We are lucky. We are lucky to just have been born. We all know the percentages there and if you’re hearing my voice you’re probably living in a world that at least has electricity. So while you’re incredibly lucky to have been born in that type of environment no matter where that might be around the world, there are lots of lucky things in your life. You just have to choose to see them to make them real.
Now, Jonas what I do want to talk about is your revenue as an entrepreneur because you’re doing a lot of traveling, you’re doing this and that; that takes money. How do you specifically bring in the dollars in the doors?
Jonas Koffler: Yes, okay – great question. I tend to rob banks wherever I stop.
John Lee Dumas: That definitely helps.
Jonas Koffler: No – in all seriousness, one of the tenets of our book Hustle is this idea of POP. The basic idea is that we are the creators of our universe and we are the owners of our destiny and we can do that through this POP idea, which is the Personal Opportunity Portfolio. So, the idea is to build and own a portfolio of right-sized risk and rewards and in doing that you’re creating and monetizing opportunities as I was saying horizontally so you can always pivot or shift as projects begin to take off.
So, for example if you’re an entrepreneur and you have various business ventures that you’re running the idea is to focus on the ones that are doing well, reallocate time and resources accordingly so you’re “balancing your portfolio,” right? The idea is to double-down on the things that work. If you do that expansively you’ve got lots of different buckets. What that does is offset some of the risk if something fails and things do fail as entrepreneurs, right?
We learn from them and we continue to grow, but the idea is to give yourself the opportunity much like a stock in the stock market to pop or blow up or to very rapidly rise in value.
And you continue throwing fuel on the fire and doing things that work and that allows you to continue in a very sort of virtuous cycle. So in more practical terms the big question you have to ask yourself is whether you’re a creative, solo-preneur or you’re running different ventures is; how do you not follow the herd or force yourself to fit into someone else’s system or way of doing things when you don’t have to? The idea is to think innovatively – look for the hidden opportunity or unseen ways to succeed and figure it out.
If you do that – and it’s hard work obviously and does depend on some luck and some breaks – but start repeating the things that work. The more you do that the more you give yourself a chance to succeed and really own your dreams on your own terms. For me personally what I tend to do is look for interesting people doing interesting work. Typically speaking together we do a lot of creative ventures or collaborative opportunities and I think the beauty of that is that if it takes off and succeeds it becomes a magnet for attracting new, talented, creative, fun, smart, and interesting people and projects attached to those people.
So again, it’s looking for ways to continually push the boundaries so that you’re growing and then create this virtual, virtuous cycle of possibilities. You continue looking and expanding and growing. It’s fascinating and stimulating.
John Lee Dumas: So, how do you bring dollars in the door?
Jonas Koffler: The simple way is that as a consultant you’re always looking for –
John Lee Dumas: Yo, let’s get specific. Jonas, just tell me – break it down. How does the money come in?
Jonas Koffler: Got it. So I have a number of different ways of bringing in income. One is to do a typical type of agency relationship, which is a retainer based on the project. The idea is that these are oftentimes long-term media projects. Books take time; films take time; business ventures take time, so they’re consulting agreements and they are based on a fee that is agreed upon by the client and works within their budget.
So that’s one way of doing it. I also do – if it’s an online venture obviously an info product that has a cost – so for example the Mental Wellness Summit is one of my ventures. It’s in the health and wellness space, but a huge, huge need there for information and education, resources, and tools – so it’s myself and a couple of partners. We have a product that is in the education space so if you’re dealing with any kind of mental stressors or anxiety or whatever – depression or whatever it might be – there is a fee-based product. We brought that to the market and have sold thousands of units, so that’s another way.
I have a couple of restaurant investments and those are in Los Angeles. So again the idea is to create this basket of assets from then on to monetize whether I’m working with an individual or a company on a retainer agreement or if I’m working on some kind of an online venture where you have a product to sell; just price it appropriately and continue to scale and grow.
John Lee Dumas: Jonas, let me break in here for a second. I want to move into your journey as an entrepreneur because you’ve had quite the journey. You’re doing quite the number of things. You’re an active guy; you’re travelling – what is your worst entrepreneurial moment to date? Bring us to that moment.
Jonas Koffler: Sure. That’s an interesting one and I think it’s fair to say from the outset that every day presents some challenges for entrepreneurs. In this case it was a particularly one we call it if we want to go back there. For a quick back story it was about six years ago and at the time I was still part of the corporate world working in intellectual property development, on a writing team with talented, powerful, and successful folks. But I knew I was ready for a new challenge and frankly they did as well.
And in the process I was on a business trip abroad and had lunch with a very interesting character and we started talking about the chances of working together on something. Eventually, when I transitioned out of the corporate world – we had our creative differences; I was creative and they were different – and it was time to part ways. We decided to work on a book together. This guy – we’ll keep him anonymous – is an internationally-recognized thought leader and very outspoken politician and social activist. We’d settled on the book and after fits and starts we landed a publisher. We were working to produce the book together.
I had promised to make good on this commitment with this client, to get him published and get his book out in the world. The book was basically finished. It looked great cover-to-cover. It told a great story; it was several years in the making at this point. The interesting thing was that it was a controversial whistle-blower story, the kind where truth is stranger than fiction. What happened was that the publisher got nervous, so here I am triangulated between my client and the publisher. They dropped the book before the publication date, which was somewhat understandable given the story and the risk. There’s fear for potential repercussions, legal or otherwise and it could hurt their business.
Now, it was crushing at the time and it left us in a very vulnerable position. We didn’t have a publisher. The book was done and we had to very aggressively find a solution. And so you feel like a failure. You look your client in the eye and you have to come up with some kind of a response and some kind of way out. What happened was I remained committed and I believed in the spirit of the story and the message. With some perseverance fortunately only a few months later the book was picked up by another publishing house. Not long after it became a national bestseller.
The beauty of it is that today it is being developed as a major feature film. So, ultimately while it was painful at the time but it has a great ending, a happy ending. And currently I’m working on that film as a producer and a contributing writer. So you go through the roller coaster of utter failure and uncertainty and then you find someone who believes in it and beautiful things start to happen. That was the case there.
I’ll tell you that the ah-ha moment for me was simply recognizing that the currency and the power of a good and unique story, however loaded that story might be. I think the lesson for folks is; when you recognize that the story – I mean what we’re exchanging now – really is the connective tissue to our human experience and understanding of the world. I think that if you’ve got a good story, something unique to say that’s powerful and is certainly meaningful, it’s worth sharing with others.
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation, there are absolute silver linings in every circumstance in life. I mean that’s why I love started EOFire off with the worst entrepreneurial moment because guess what? We always uncover that within that worst moment great things happen and yes – sometimes they’re crushing and sad and disastrous and fill-in-the-blank, but guess what? We live to fight another day.
That’s what it means to be an entrepreneur. There are a lot of great lesions, a lot of great takeaways you can have from this, but that’s the core fundamental process. When you hit that wall, when you fall on your face or when anything happens, guess what? Jump up; pick yourself up because hey; there’s that silver lining just waiting for you around the corner if you’re willing to see it and embrace it.
Now, Jonas what’s your biggest weakness as an entrepreneur?
Jonas Koffler: Good one – so the biggest weakness I would say is the monster we call sleep. I just don’t sleep enough. I’m not the best at controlling my schedule and my time and frankly I wish I had more of it. So, 32 hours in a day would be perfect, but I’d say if there’s one big weakness it is over-committing, working like a dog, and not getting enough sleep.
John Lee Dumas: Over-committing is a problem. There’s something I like to say, Jonas a lot is that when you say yes to something you’re saying no to everything else including sleep and including spending time with your wife – including exercise and eating healthier. Fill in the blank – just remember that every yes is a very weighty yes. Now, what is your biggest strength?
Jonas Koffler: My biggest strength would probably be that I think that I am an exceptionally good listener. I’m listening very selectively and actively around cues around opportunity. So I’m looking for ways to connect needs and wants to solutions and to find or fix problems, find solutions and then just ways to connect dots to innovation and ways that we might experiment together. Again, with an individual or a company I think it works both ways. It’s applying that lens of listening, actively and selectively for those opportunities.
John Lee Dumas: Let’s talk about right now because you have a lot of cool things going on, but what’s the one thing that you are most fired up about today?
Jonas Koffler: The one thing would be everything, but to be specific I’d say that the most exciting thing right now is my book launch of Hustle, and Hustle is, I think in some ways a reflection of the zeitgeist. It’s a book that I’ve co-authored with Neil Patel and Patrick Vlaskovits. They’re friends of mine and both in their own right are exceptionally talented entrepreneurs. I think for us together we’re fired up because we’re looking to shake things up – to share a perspective and help as many people as we can pursue more of what they want out of life. That’s really our big goal there.
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation, we’re going to hustle our little booties into the lightning round, so don’t you go anywhere, but we’re going to take a quick minute first to thank our sponsors.
Jonas, are you prepared for the lighting rounds?
Jonas Koffler: Oh, you bet.
John Lee Dumas: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Jonas Koffler: It was three things, John. It was a scarcity mindset; it was a generalized fear; and then it was just my own inertia.
John Lee Dumas: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Jonas Koffler: I’m going to break this up into three ideas. Real quickly, one; if your heart is not in it, get the hell out of it, two; be unapologetically aggressive about your entrepreneurial and creative pursuits, and three; just because it’s serious doesn’t mean it can’t be funny.
John Lee Dumas: I mean Fire Nation; those are words to live by. That mantra should be on my wall right now. Jonas, send me that poster please. I’m going to hang it on my wall. So, what’s a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Jonas Koffler: Yes, so this is something that folks would find useful and practical in their own lives. I call it the 10-minute rule and this is something we write about in Hustle. The 10-minute rule is very simple. Oftentimes we get hindered by our desire for perfection or mastery and this removes the friction. So the idea of the 10-minute rule is you’re going to do first for 10 minutes. You’re just going to get moving. You’re not going to over-think your priorities; you’re not going to get tied down to planning and over-planning and planning to plan all that stuff. The idea is just to do something that moves you emotionally and energetically, charge yourself up, get focused, and start doing.
And in doing that 10-minute rule, if it works – which it does – you repeat the process so that it expands and it allows you to be much more productive.
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation – 10-minute rule. Jonas, share an internet resource like Evernotes with Fire Nation.
Jonas Koffler: Absolutely – so there are a million great tools out there. I’ll tell you that in my case I tend to make a lot of lists because I have so much going on project-wise. Rather than waste a forest of Post-it notes, I recommend WorkFlowy. It’s a very simple tool. Lots of fans out there use it.
John Lee Dumas: I’m staring at it right now.
Jonas Koffler: No kidding. It’s a great way to organize your mind, as the tag line says.
John Lee Dumas: I love it. And it says also; make lists, not war. I just love that – kind of random. It’s just at the corner of like; it’s actually a good thing. Now, let’s talk about one book for our listeners. Of course, Fire Nation you want Hustle: The Power to Charge your Life with Money, Meaning, and Momentum to be on your bookshelves, but Jonas, what’s one other one?
Jonas Koffler: Yeah – so back to my point about just because something is serious doesn’t mean it can’t be funny. I would say Getting Even by Woody Allen. I would say it’s very important to laugh every day. I recommend that to everyone listening and I think it makes the world a much happier place. Getting Even is an absolute masterpiece. Take it with you to a meeting and you’ll laugh out loud. That’s one that belongs right up on your bookshelf alongside Hustle.
John Lee Dumas: Well, Jonas this is the last question of the lightning round, but it is 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 knowledge and experience you currently have. Your food and shelter is taken care of, but all you have is a laptop and $500.00. What would you do in the next seven days?
Jonas Koffler: Okay – what I’m going to do is I’m going to take that $500.00 and I’m going to march down to an animal shelter. I’m adopting a pet and here’s why; I’m looking for an interesting, say a large cat or a bird – let’s say a toucan – and what I’m going to do is I’m going to train them so that I have a companion. That’s one. The next step is going to be, take a lot of walks with that companion in the first few days. The companion is going to be a magnet and would be a good conversation starter with others. This is the new world, right?
So I’m going to familiarize myself with the new world and the new people who inhabit that world and I believe that opportunities will be attached to those people or maybe answers. And so with this companion in hand I will talk to as many people as possible, find out what they need and want, and then launch a business that addresses those needs. So hopefully it does something good for those folks and for the new world.
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation, I love it – all of the above – and now that I’m in Puerto Rico I’m going to find one of those very companions to go on my daily walks in May. And Jonas, I want to end today on Fire with a parting piece of guidance, the best way we can connect with you, and then we’ll say bye-bye.
Jonas Koffler: Well, thank you again, John. I think that the best way for folks to reach me is to tweet me at @JonasKoffler or visit JonasKoffler.com. Otherwise, for advice – get out there and hustle and pick up a copy of the book and let me know how I can help you in any way.
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation, you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. You have been hanging out with J.K. and J.L.D. today, so keep up the heat. You can just head over to EOFire.com. Just type Jonas, J-O-N-A-S in the search bar and his show notes page will pop with everything that we’ve been talking about today – best show notes in the biz, Fire Nation – time stamps, links galore and of course check out Hustle: The Power to Charge your Life with Money, Meaning, and Momentum – all the things we want and need.
And Jonas, I want to thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that, brother we salute you and we’ll catch you on the flip side.
Jonas Koffler: Amen. God bless – thank you.
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