Jon is the ultimate underdog. Listen to this: despite having severe muscular dystrophy and not being able to move from the neck down, he’s built several multi-million dollar businesses using nothing but his voice. People call him unstoppable, and today he will tell you his story.
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3 Key Points:
- Do not be discouraged when life gets hard and you feel like you’ve been punched—remember, you can always deliver a counter-punch.
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Time Stamped Show Notes
(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
- 00:15 – The Mastery Journal – Master productivity, discipline, and focus in 100 days!
- [01:07] – Jon has Spinal Muscular Atrophy, which is the #1 genetic killer of infants
- [01:34] – Jon can only move his face and talks through a microphone
- [02:11] – JLD looks at Jon as a mentor
- 02:52 – JLD and Jon talked about Unstoppable in Episode 626
- [03:01] – Unstoppable is the biggest blog launch in history
- [03:38] – Unstoppable is where Jon shares the lessons he’s learned in life and how he overcomes his disability
- [04:19] – Jon has achieved every goal he has set in life
- 04:43 – 7 Life Lessons from a Guy Who Can’t Move Anything but His Face
- [05:34] – Jon did NOT promote the post, but just shared it to his email list and it grew from there
- [05:57] – JLD likes Life Lesson #6, which talks about being reasonable
- [06:32] – Jon says if he was reasonable, he’d be living in a nursing home by now
- [06:44] – Jon accomplished all that he has by just doing it; he doesn’t worry about the difficulty involved
- [07:22] – “Extraordinary things are not accomplished by reasonable people”
- [08:30] – Jon has learned in life that we all get punched, but there is always a counter-punch
- [08:51] – “The degree of opportunity is directly proportional to how bad the situation is”
- [09:03] – When Jon was in his 20s, he was on government assistance
- [10:59] – Jon asks Fire Nation: “What is your counter-punch?”
- [11:05] – JLD gives examples of people and their counter-punches
- [12:50] – JLD asks Jon what took him so long to launch Unstoppable
- 13:00 – Jon was so focused on growing his business, Smart Blogging
- [13:40] – Jon had an extraordinary assistant who was quitting because she got hired by Tony Robbins
- 14:14 – Jon received tickets to Unleash the Power Within because his assistant told Tony about him
- [15:00] – Tony started to talk about perseverance and read one of Jon’s blog posts
- [15:15] – The audience gave him a standing ovation and Tony Robbins told him that he should write more
- [15:41] – Jon and Tony talked about shifting the focus from survival to contribution
- [16:07] – Jon lost sight of what he could contribute
- [17:00] – The unique thing he can contribute to the world is sharing how he overcame his obstacles
- [17:42] – For JLD, his unique contribution is doing a daily podcast
- [18:40] – Jon had a low point after his conversation with Tony Robbins
- [19:00] – Jon realized he still had a company to run and tried to work on Unstoppable on the side, but felt burnt out
- [20:05] – While at a Mastermind meeting, Jon said he was trapped in a business he hates and did not know what to do
- [21:00] – Noah Kagan asked Jon if anyone from his company knew how he felt and told him that his company should know
- [21:21] – Other executives told Jon he should not be Superman, as he is not delegating enough
- [22:07] – After Jon talked to his team, they stepped up and he was able to have free time to do what he wanted to do, and the company grew
- [22:40] – A good leader surrounds himself with people who are more capable than he is
- [23:11] – JLD says communication is key!
- [23:53] – At a certain point, when you have built something successful, you have to focus on contribution and what you can bring to the world
- 24:32 – Connect with Jon at Unstoppable
Jon: Let’s do it. I’m excited.
Interviewer: Yes! Jon is the ultimate underdog. Listen to this Fire Nation. Despite having severe muscular dystrophy and not being able to move from the neck down, he’s built several, several multimillion dollar businesses using nothing but his voice. People call him unstoppable and today he will tell you his story. Jon, take a minute, fill in some gaps from that intro and give us a little glimpse of your personal life.
Jon: I have a type of muscular dystrophy called SMA, Spinal Muscular Atrophy, and it affects kids. It’s actually the number one genetic killer of infants. Most people don’t know that. It kills several thousand infants a year and it, basically what it does is, from the day I was born, I’ve gotten weaker and weaker and weaker, until now where I am is I can basically only move my face.
I still have complete sensation all over my body. I just can’t move, but I talk into a microphone all day just like I’m doing now and I have a lip operated mouse and I use the computer, and doing that over the last ten years, I’ve built several multimillion dollar brands on line, and yeah, it’s been an absolutely wonderful ride.
Interviewer: I mean, Jon you inspire me on so many levels. I mean I am truly honored to be able to say that we’ve become friends over the years. We’ve done a lot of things together. We’ve talked many times. You know, I look at you as a mentor both from close and far and Fire Nation, this isn’t a guy who just does it from the same bedroom, you know, for the last few decades. I mean, he’s gone to Mexico.
He’s moved this, like he’s done his thing, like he, I love that picture of you just hanging out on the balcony like overlooking this beautiful ocean doing your thing. So Fire Nation, next time you have that excuse on the tip of your tongue, like what are you doing? Get out there and do it, do it, do it. Now Jon, you are a master of thinking of things that are going to connect with people and then executing on them and you’ve done just that very recently with Unstoppable.me.
You know, we talked back on episode 626. That was a thousand episodes ago, by the way. We talked about this idea that you had. You said you were going to start working on it. It’s now a reality. It is the biggest blog launch in history, Fire Nation. Over 60 thousand shares on his first blog post. Over 400 thousand unique visitors. I mean, do you know how long it took me to get 400 thousand unique visitors at EO Fire? Thousands of emails, thousands, from people who said the post had a huge impact. Over ten thousand email subscribers and this all happened in the last two weeks, Fire Nation. Two weeks, 14 days. Wow. So awesome. Let’s talk about this Jon. What is Unstoppable.me all about and why is it literally unstoppable?
Jon: Yeah. What it’s about is it’s a brand where I’m taking all of the lessons I’ve learned in life in overcoming my disability and I’m teaching those to other people. People have been asking me to do this for years because, I mean everybody experiences adversity in life, right? But for me, everyone always wants to know, you know, how did you, how did you overcome not being able to move?
How were you able to travel the world and there are some things that I’ve learned that are immensely valuable, that literally have made me unstoppable. There is no goal in life that I’ve not achieved and just to teach those to people is finally what it’s about. So yeah, and to make them unstoppable too, where they can achieve anything they want.
Interviewer: What was this post? Like what got such a reaction from such a large number of people? What did you do?
Jon: So the headline for the post was Seven Life Lessons From a Guy Who Can’t Move Anything But His Face. That’s what the headline for the post was.
Interviewer: And the first line, by the way, is it’s not a joke.
Jon: Yeah, it’s not a joke.
Interviewer: It’s not a joke.
Jon: And I showed, you know, photos of me traveling the world and went through and just told seven life lessons that I’ve picked up along the way, some of the biggest ones, and none of them are things that you’ve ever heard before. They’re all pretty unique and it’s also one of those posts that I wrote it with the intention of just encouraging people. Just sort of proving to them that anything is possible and what happened is it just went viral. I haven’t actually promoted the post at all.
Jon: All I did is release it. I sent it to my own email list and it just blew up, I mean all the way from, you know, regular people sharing it with their friends all the way up to Ken Ferris shared it and recommended everyone read it. Like, it’s gone all the way up the chain. Celebrities have shared it and it’s just getting bigger and bigger and bigger.
Interviewer: One thing that I really love about this is lesson six, which you have Embrace the Crazy. There’s actually a picture of you, which I love, and you’re sitting in a chair but you know, you’re holding this fake sword because you’re dressed up as like a pirate and you’re having a blast and you’re smiling, you know.
You can see you’re just having a blast and the words below that picture are the world is full of people who will tell you to be reasonable and that be reasonable is in quotes. You should have reasonable goals, reasonable expectations, a reasonable attitude. What do you say to those people Jon?
Jon: If I were reasonable, I’d be living in a nursing home somewhere by now. I mean the way that I’ve accomplished everything that I’ve accomplished is by not caring whether or not something was difficult or even impossible. To me that doesn’t even factor into my decision making process. It’s do I want to accomplish it and how do I do it and that’s it.
The difficulty doesn’t matter and a lot of people would say that’s unreasonable and even the people that work with me, I ask unreasonable things of them all the time, but extraordinary things are not accomplished by reasonable people is one of the things that I learned. You have to be willing to do things that other people think are just totally crazy and my life is just one series of those after, one after another after another.
Interviewer: Well another lesson that I’d kind of like your feedback here on the podcast is the art of the counter punch. You know a lot of people don’t really thing about this. They just think about throwing punches or running away if somebody throws a punch at them. Talk about that for a second. What is the art of the counter punch mean to you?
Jon: So in boxing, every boxing learns the importance of the counter punch and the way that it works is when someone tries to punch you, they leave an opening, always, where you can punch them back, okay, and the bigger the punch, the more power they’re putting behind it, the bigger the opening, which is why you see boxers throw so many jabs.
Jon: Right, it’s because it’s dangerous to throw that big punch. Well what I’ve learned is in life, we all get punched. I mean bad things happen. You get fired from your job. You find out you’re sick. You get in a car accident. Whatever it is, right? And what I’ve also learned though is there’s always a counter punch whenever that happens and the degree of opportunity is directly proportional to how bad the situation was.
So one example is I mean, when I was in my 20’s, I had an immense amount of drive, immense amount of fire, passion to start my own business but the only way I could survive was to live on government assistance. I was on Medicaid because they were the only one. I could not get private insurance at the time and they were the only ones that would help pay my bills and they limited me to 700 dollars a month in income or I would lose my benefits.
Jon: And you might say well, Jon that’s terrible. You were like trapped. You’re smart, you know, you can do all of the stuff, that you were trapped. But there’s an immense advantage in that situation and that’s that I had a huge amount of time because I couldn’t do anything, right? And there are all kinds of counter punches, like even, you know, I can’t go play basketball or do a whole lot of things other people can do.
The counter punch to that is the things that I can do like reading books, like writing and talking to people like you, is I get to spend all of my time doing those things and I get to get really really good at it, and so that’s turned into some insanely profitable businesses just because I could focus more than anybody else because there’s only a small number of things I can even do, right, and it makes it easy for me to focus.
So yeah, there are counter punches to anything that happens to you in life. So whenever anything bad happens, I mean after you get over just the shock of it, the first thing you should always ask is what’s the counter punch? How can I get back and turn this to my advantage?
Interviewer: Fire Nation, what’s your counter punch? Think about that. When somebody does A, what’s your B? You know, when Amazon, I was just having a great conversation with an Amazon expert. You know, when Amazon came out with Amazon Basics and they basically took over his category that he was crushing, what did he do? He found a counter punch. He went after a smaller niche and dominated that. He didn’t just give up and take that TKO. He found the counter punch and now he’s thriving.
Now his business is actually more successful than ever because he found the ways to niche in so many different areas than just relying on this one big product that made him so vulnerable that Amazon exposed, so what’s your counter punch? I mean even Nintendo knows the power of counter punch. I look back to one of my favorite games, Mike Tyson’s Punch Out. The counter punch baby, that was so exciting. You hit that star button, whop, whop, whop, whop, boom, and you just knocked the guy out.
The counter punch. Now Fire Nation we have some great things coming up in the next segments because Jon’s going to talk to us about a new low point that he recently reached in his life, so Fire Nation, just because you’ve created several multimillion dollar businesses like Jon has, just because, you know, he’s won at so many things doesn’t mean that there’s not still going to be struggles along the journey, so we’re going to talk about that new low point. We’re going to talk about a face to face with Tony Robbins and so much more after we thank our sponsors.
So Jon, we’re back and it’s been a while since we talked on EO Fire. I mean we’ve talked many times in between this thousand episode gap that we have here, but on Episode 626 you chatted with me about Unstoppable.me and you were like, John this is going to happen. This is going to be something I want to bring to the world. I love the idea and then, you know, we both kind of went along our merry ways and here we are December 29th, you know, a thousand days after we chatted last when you launch Unstoppable.me. What took you so long, which is of course the segue into the Tony Robbins segment.
Jon: I was just so focused on my business and growing it. So I have another business, SmartBlogger.com. That’s a website where I teach people about blogging and I was so focused on growing that because that’s been my life for years and I mean, it makes a lot of money. There are a lot of reasons to focus on it, but what happened was I was actually living down in Miami, Florida. I lived there for about two and a half years. I’ve moved all over the place, but I was living down there and I had an extraordinary assistant and she came in one day and she said Jon, I’ve got to quit, and I said why? Why, and she says I got a job offer to go work for Tony Robbins and be his assistant, because he had just moved to Florida like ten miles away from me and you know, I was devastated.
She was awesome, but she quit. But a few weeks later I got a note in the mail from Sage Robbins with two celebrity front row tickets to Unleash the Power Within and inviting me to come spend time with them because my assistant had told them about me. So I went with one of my caregivers. I have caregivers with me all the time, by the way, and I mean, it was crazy. On the one side there was Danny Graziosi, the real estate mogul.
On the other side there was Usher, the pop star and so I was sitting right up there in the front through this whole event and kind of having a really good time. If anyone’s ever been to one of his events, they’re like a rock concert and all of the sudden he started talking about perseverance and he started reading one of my blog posts. So there’s 7,000 people, you know. It’s in a stadium full of people.
The camera goes on my face and he has all 7,000 people give me a standing ovation and he walks down from the stage. He gives me a giant hug and he, what he whispers in my ear, he said your writing is amazing. If you don’t write more of this stuff, you’re crazy, is what he told me.
Interviewer: Wow. You’ll never forget those words.
Jon: Never forget those words, and it’s, after that happened, I went to talk to him some more and one of the things that he talked about was at a certain point in your life, you have to move from just focusing on survival to focusing on contribution. I think that’s a lesson that everyone has to learn, especially if you’re an entrepreneur.
A lot of times when you’re an entrepreneur, you’re just in survival mode for a long time and what I’ve lost sight of is what can I do that no one else can do that will provide the greatest contributions to the world. It took Tony to snap me out of it and I knew what the answer to that question was, but he told me, and you know, I had 7,000 people.
I mean, the amount of energy from something like that is just insane and it just reinforced that telling my story and teaching the lessons I’ve learned about overcoming all of the obstacles in life, that’s the one thing I can do that no one else on planet Earth can do. That’s why I wrote that post and I think that reinforced it too, is that’s the unique thing that I can contribute to the world.
So I mean, if there’s one big lesson I’ve learned, it’s don’t get wrapped up in whatever you’re doing, even if it’s extraordinary. I mean, even if you’re making a ton of money, at some point you have to think about what can I do that no one else can and that’s what I finally did.
Interviewer: Well I love that phrase that you use, what’s the unique thing that you can bring to this world and Fire Nation, think about that, like what is the unique that you can bring to this world? If you can’t think of something right of the bat, you’re not going niche enough, like okay, I get it. We all might not be, you know, this amazing piano player or you know, fill in the blank, but we all have something if we niche down enough and for me, you know, back in 2012 it was if I can just find something to put my organizational mind, my discipline mind, my systems and automation mind to, than I can excel.
What’s that thing and you know, it ended up being a daily podcast and that was what worked for me, but I didn’t niche down there. I had to get there step by step by step. But Jon again, I’ve had a ton of struggles, you know, since I’ve created a multimillion dollar a year business. You’ve had multiple struggles since you’ve created a multimillion dollar a year business. I mean, money, you know, we could go back and forth about this all day, like I’m not a person that’s like, money can’t buy happiness. Money can definitely alleviate stress. It can give you the things that make your life happier. It’s not the end all be all.
We need more than that so you know, you need to really look at what ways your balancing your life out, but even with all that Jon, you hit a new low point within the past year. What was that low point? What brought that on?
Jon: Yeah, it was before, I mean it was after that conversation with Tony Robbins and I came back all fired up in my business to get that started.
Interviewer: Tony will do that to you.
Jon: Yeah, Tony is brilliant at that, and then I ran into the brick wall and I still had tons of responsibilities. You know, CEO of the company. I’m working 100 hours a week every week, you know, and basically just being Superman, right, to make everything run and grow. I tried to start working on Unstoppable on the side and I kept working more hours and more hours to the point where I was barely sleeping and finally just got so burnt out.
I was sitting in a Master Mind meeting in downtown Austin that a friend invited me to and there were all of these, I mean, big people in the room. There was Tucker Max, there was Noah Cagan and we were sitting around talking about our businesses and you know, the way these things normally go, everyone talks about how successful they are, you know, how they’re making tons of money. Here’s what I’m doing that’s working like crazy right now and they’re fun and they’re good.
But when they got around to me going in the circle, I’d just been working like crazy and I said I’m trapped in a business I hate and I don’t know what to do, and they were just, you know, it was this immense moment of honesty and it had gotten to the point where I kid you not, I started having dreams of going into the office and just firing everyone.
Jon: And I would wake up and be disturbed by that because there’s, I love the people I work with, but I just had this immense feeling of being trapped, right, and in some ways trapped by my own success that I’d built something that worked really well, but now I wanted to go sit and do something new and I couldn’t. The feedback that I got from anyone, said does anyone, the question, the first question was Noah Cagan asked me.
He said does anyone else in your company know how you feel? I said no. I’ve kept it all to myself, and he says that’s the first thing that has to change. He said if you have the right team built around you, then you’ll tell them how you feel and he said you should never, ever have to be Superman and that was feedback I just kept getting from other executives. If you have to be Superman to keep your business running, then you’ve not delegated enough down to your team, and so that’s what I did. I went to my, the executives in my company.
I told them how I felt, and you know, we’re a small company. I say executives. We’ve got 12 people, okay. We’ve got four people on the executive team. It’s not a big business, but I went to them and I said this is what’s going on. I’m working like crazy. This is how I feel. I just don’t have time. I want to work on this other project.
I think I can change the world, but I need your help, and everyone in the company stepped up to start doing things and freed up the time that I needed to be able to work on the project, and the business, not only did they free up my time. The business grew by like 40 percent.
Jon: Immediately after I did that and it was just because the one big lesson I learned is that yes, you know, I can be Superman from time to time, but still if you are doing a good job as a leader, you surround yourself with people who collectively are more capable than you are and I’d done that but I just wasn’t letting them shine. So I handed over the responsibility and boom, everything turned around.
Interviewer: Wow. Fire Nation, communication is so key. I mean I know, just knowing Jon and you know, I know the kind of team that he’s been surrounding himself with. They love what they do. They love him. They love the business. You know, all they need to know was to know that they needed to step up and step into a void that Jon was going leave a little bit of when he went and did this other thing and the 40 percent increase just speaks to that.
I mean, they were more than willing to step up into that void. It always comes down to communication. Just talk it out. Noah Cagan, well done brother. Let’s end today on fire Jon with you giving us just a parting piece of guidance, like however you want to wrap this up just with a nice little bow and of course Fire Nation, Unstoppable.me is where that post resides. We’ll be talking about that on the show notes and the best ways that we can connect with you as an individual and then we’ll say goodbye.
Jon: Sure. The parting piece of advice I would give is to understand at what stage you’re at as an entrepreneur. If you’re in those beginning stages and you’re just trying to survive, there’s one set of advice, but realize that certain point when you’ve built something successful that the game changes, okay?
All the rules change. The way you have to behave changes and then you have to focus really on contribution and what you can bring to the world and the sooner you can figure that out, the better off the world will be.
Interviewer: How do you want Fire Nation to connect with you Jon?
Jon: So to connect with me, Unstoppable.me is a great place and yeah, just check out all the work I’m doing there. I’m on Twitter and Facebook but not very much. I’m a very, I try to stay off of them because I get distracted, but yeah, just check out Unstoppable.me.
Interviewer: Wait a second. You can be a successful entrepreneur without always being on Twitter and Facebook? Are you sure?
Jon: Yep and there’s probably a reverse correlation there to the amount of time you spend, yeah.
Interviewer: Oh, better words have never been spoken and Fire Nation, you’re the average of the five, count them, five people you spend the most time with and you’ve been handing out with JM and JLD today so keep up the heat. Head over to EO Fire.com. Just type Jon, J-O-N, in the search bar.
His show notes page is going to pop up with everything that we’ve talked about today and of course, his other episode, 697 will be there as well so check that out and Jon, I just want to thank you brother for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that we solution and we’ll catch you on the flip side.
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