Josh Ellis is the newly-named editor in chief of SUCCESS, the national newsstand magazine for business owners, solopreneurs, motivated people working to climb the ladder and anyone inspired to improve themselves or achieve a better life. At 29, he is one of the youngest chief editors in the magazine industry.
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Worst Entrepreneur Moment
- Righteousness. Josh took a job for the money. There was no passion involved, no excitement, and it showed in his work. Fire Nation, follow your GUT!
Entrepreneur AH-HA Moment
- Just do the work. Take opportunities as they come, test them out, and you may be surprised… But you’ll never find out until you START!
Best Business Book
- The 4-Hour Chef by Timothy Ferriss
Josh: Yeah, John. Let’s kick the tires and light the fires, as Jeff Goldblum said in Independence Day.
John: Yes. I love it. Josh is the newly named Editor and Chief of SUCCESS: the national newsstand magazine for business owners, solopreneurs, motivated people working to climb the ladder, anyone inspired to improve themselves or achieve a better life. At 29, he’s one of the youngest chief editors in the magazine industry. Josh, take a minute to fill in some gaps from that intro and give us a little glimpse into your personal life.
Josh: If I can start with SUCCESS and how I got here, and the direction of the magazine. I actually was a sports writer. I worked for the Dallas Cowboys for a few years right out of college. And I had always thought I wanted to be covering sports after I got my journalism degree. But after a few years, even though it was a very fun job, I was really not fulfilled. I didn't feel like I was contributing to the world in any sort of meaningful way. And luckily I fell into an editing job here at SUCCESS. And it's a magazine that really really helps people sort of chase their dreams.
And it arms them with the tools and the knowledge that they need to become entrepreneurs or manage a side hustle, to fulfill really any goal, whether entrepreneurial or just lifestyle. We try to arm them with what they need to do. That’s gonna continue to be the focus now that I've taken over as editor and chief. We just aim to help people in every single issue.
John: I love SUCCESS Magazine. And when I get interviewed on other shows Josh, people love asking me what is one of the books that really transformed your entrepreneurial journey? And I always point to The Compound Effect. I usually actually say The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson and then followed by The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. So I've always been a fan of SUCCESS Magazine. It was such an honor to have Darren on the show a couple months ago. And to have iTunes reach out to me and say: hey, we want to feature your interview with Darren Hardy on the homepage of iTunes was super cool as well.
And this is what I love about the podcasting world too Josh, is that just last week I'm sitting on the balcony reading an incredible article on Tim Ferris, who was the cover of that month’s SUCCESS Magazine. And I said who is the guy that’s writing this great article, and it was you. And I said I want to talk to this guy. I want to get him on the show. I reached out to you and a week later here we are chatting, it's just a great connection to make, so thank you for what you do brother.
Josh: Thanks very much. Yeah, that was a – first of all I want to say that we love what Darren does for the magazine as a mascot. He’s our greatest cheerleader and champion, and has been since our company bought the brand. It had been dormant about eight years ago and we re-established it and brought it back, and Darren’s been a great champion for us. Yeah, that Tim Farrar story was a very fun one to write. My first time in San Francisco.
John: You're kidding?
Josh: I don't know, I think you could probably tell that by the writing.
John: Here and there.
Josh: I was slipping in the sights and sounds. Because, you know, San Francisco and Silicon Valley as a whole is just such a hub for the entrepreneurial spirit right now. And I kind of wanted to capture that and use it to a little bit illustrate what Tim is about, and just sort of the energy in entrepreneurship in this economy today, hopefully that was in there. Tim was a really great guy. He gave us everything we needed and has played ball ever since. He’s excited to be on the cover. Yeah, it was a fun story to report and research and write.
John: Yeah, absolutely. And it really shook home with me because actually about a year ago, I took my first ever trip to San Francisco on a Mastermind retreat with just two of my buddies, who are also entrepreneurs. And we went up to San Francisco. And I just kind of off the cuff, because I had had Tim on the show a few times, but I wouldn’t consider us friends, just acquaintances and we had great conversations. But I was like I'm gonna shoot an email off to Tim and see if he wants to join us on a Mastermind session? And sure enough he did for four hours. And then we walked down and had some dinner.
And then we went to hit some bars. We just had a whole night of it and it was really really cool. And that was kind of like my sights and sounds of San Francisco. It really just brought me back there when you were having your discussions within the article. And it was really cool, I really recommended Fire Nation, you checking out either the online or the in print version for all the obvious reasons that we've been talking about. Now Josh, you’ve mentioned your journey, and it's been an interesting one, I mean, starting off with the Dallas Cowboys, you know, thinking that sports is gonna be your focus.
You know, it kind of sounds like at some point you maybe started to think that it might be a little bit of hollow focus that you were kind of looking at and you shifted. So you’ve had your ups, you’ve had your downs, take us to what you consider your worst entrepreneurial slash business slash writing moment to date? It's like what is the lowest of the low, tell us that story.
Josh: I got contacted one time for freelance sort of marketing, copywriting by this company that was making – I don't know if you would call it supplements, like dietary supplements, or there were candies and snacks and stuff like that. And I really felt that their claims about their products weren’t very believable. But they offered a pretty decent wage for the writing and so I took it, even though I didn't necessarily believe in the product. In a way that sort of went against everything I was trained in journalistically, but I knew this wasn’t quite a journalistic writing gig, it was more marketing and sometimes you got to do those things to pay the bills.
But the whole time I was writing it it was an eye roll. It was something that I wasn’t passionate about. I didn't really believe what I was saying as I was writing, and it probably was reflective in the writing, too. I stuck around there working on the side for a couple months. And then they moved on without me. I think they could probably tell that I didn't believe what I was saying in the writing.
John: Your words probably weren’t incredibly persuasive since you didn't believe in them in yourself. I can tell you one thing Josh, after having done over now 1,150 episodes, where I've interviewed successful entrepreneurs, inspiring entrepreneurs. I've asked the same question every single time: what's your worst moment, like what's the lowest of the low, because that story is really so impactful for the listeners for so many different reasons. And time and time again the worst moment is always when the intuition is kind of raising some red flags saying this doesn’t quite feel right when your heart, your passion, your beliefs really aren’t aligned with what you're doing.
And Fire Nation, no matter what it is, whether it's writing, whether it's a podcast, videos, whatever it is that you're doing, if your heart is not aligned, if your enthusiasm doesn’t just seep through into what you do, then you're gonna struggle. And I've heard so many people that have done so in so many different ways, and then when we move into that next moment, that “aha” moment, that’s when it got through to those listeners and the guests that: hey, this is what I need to do. I need to follow my beliefs. I need to follow my passions. And those “aha” moments have happened and the success has followed there.
So I definitely resonate with that Josh. I have gone through those experiences multiple times. My listeners and specifically – well, my listeners have heard my guests go through these moments over and over again. What is really the one lesson that you walked away with from that, that you want to make sure that Fire Nation gets?
Josh: Well, for me I learned that marketing, copywriting probably wasn’t my – best suited for me. Yeah, I think it's exactly what you said, passion and a true belief and a righteousness about what you're doing is really important. It's the thing that’s going to keep you going on bad days. It’s the thing that we all love to be in that feeling when you wake up and you're excited to get to work. Or you're inflow while you're working and it just keeps pushing you forward and you're thinking clearer and you're thinking more creatively than you ever did before.
And I think you’ll have a hard time achieving that if you're just doing something to chase a paycheck. I don’t think that any sort of entrepreneurial pursuit can be successful if it's not one that you whole heartily believe in for yourself, and something that you think you can help people, your customers, your clients with if you delivered it properly.
John: Righteousness, I love that word. I feel like it's really underutilized, so thanks for kind of bringing that into my vocabulary. I'm gonna start using that Fire Nation, so watch out, righteousness. Now Josh, when did that kind of light bulb come on for you with entrepreneurship, with being a solopreneur with small business that you’ve now moved into with success, like when did that happen?
Josh: You know, I can tell you I just sort of fell into freelance writing by chance. A friend of mine, who is also a sports writer, he moved into an editorial job and he said I've got these little projects that you can do on the side. And it had never occurred to me that this might be a thing that I could do, even while I had a fulltime job with the Cowboys writing for their website. But it was a perfect fit, and it was something new and different and something where I could express myself in something that was totally different than what I was doing at my day job.
You know, starting with that I really began to look at freelance work, my side hustle, just as importantly as my day job. And in a way because that became – that became my – those are my passion projects, and that was also a way to get ahead of the budget. You know, when you throw in the rent and the car payment and stuff like that, it's – when you have a day job you have some limitations there, but it became a way for me to get ahead. And so I've built, built on it, and built on it, and now I do some things that I really love. I write – I still do some things for the Cowboys because I am interested in that.
I am interested in sports, but that’s not what I want my greatest contribution to be. Obviously, my – the most of my time is focused on SUCCESS. And then I also write humor blogs for another website ThriveWire.com, which your readers should checkout. It's great for Millennials. And that’s just something that I get enjoyment out of myself. And it also helps me create a little nest egg that I know is gonna be there. And maybe down the road, if my passion shift or if I want to, you know, move the side hustle into a fulltime entrepreneurial pursuit, it will help me get there.
John: Josh, I want to talk about an “aha” moment that you’ve had at some point along your journey. I mean, I know doing what you do with SUCCESS Magazine, you're hearing, and listening, and reading, and seeing people having “aha” moments all the time, starting these great companies because of it. Tim Farrar has talked about a lot of “aha” moments that he’s had throughout his journey, just in that one article. Looking at that, what would you point to as one of your “aha” moments that you’ve had that have really impacted your life? Is there one moment that jumps out to you that will allow you to tell us that story?
Josh: You know, it might just be that first time I was offered some freelance work. I found that there was not any necessary limit to how much I could bring home for myself. What I could – any limit to what my contribution, my working contribution could be. It wasn’t just the paycheck that I was receiving from the Cowboys, and it's not just the paycheck that I receive from SUCCESS today. Personal empowerment is all about, you know, you name your own salary in a way, and it's based on your talent and your work ethic.
A lot of us have so much more than we're giving at our day jobs, we embrace that at SUCCESS. But it's the same way for people who are business owners 24/7, you have the power to make your income whatever you want it, if you have the talent and the work ethic.
John: Now Josh, looking at the success that you’ve had as a sports writer, now with SUCCESS, and then with Thrive, I mean, what would you say to the listeners today that are saying: man, I might want to kind of start writing for somebody, or getting into the freelance gig. What would be a piece of advice that you’ve learned, either the hard way or just there experience that you think could be really beneficial to our listeners?
Josh: We're pitched a lot by people who think of themselves as writers, but done necessarily have the kind of skill – or the kind of – I should say pedigree that you would like for a national magazine. But there are so many blogs out there today, and they're all so specialized, and a lot of them will pay you money, that if you – if you develop your own online voice, and you can do it through social media and start your own blog for free, and become an authority on whatever topic you want to. Like, here in Texas there is a great guy Daniel Vaughn, who is – he blogged about barbeque all the time.
And suddenly Texas Monthly, the national magazine of Texas, they hired him as their first ever barbeque editor. And it so aligned with their brand and he just carved I tout for himself. So now his job is to – and he’s got books – his job is to travel the state eating barbeque. How great is that? So basically writing isn't necessarily about the words on the page or the words on the screen, it's about becoming an expert and becoming passionate about whatever you are writing about. It's up to you basically what you want your expertise to be, and that’s where passion comes in.
John: Josh, what's your biggest weakness as a writer?
Josh: I get in a hurry sometimes and that’s not good for an editor to say I don't think. When you get inflow, I think, the words come out so easily, and you're so sure about them that you don’t necessarily take the time to, if you were really studying it, make every sentence as perfect as it could be. And a lot of times I'll hit send without rereading something because I have – I have a tendency probably to rely on talent. Maybe that sounds self absorbed to say, but that’s one thing that I've always done that I think of as a weakness now. And actually, I'll tell you for our December issue we interviewed John Maxwell the great leadership author.
He was talking about talent that a lot of times our reliance on talent holds us back. And that’s where we make mistakes, that’s where we get sloppy, where if we were really devoting more attention and more focus and more work ethic into every moment, then we might just be a lot better on the whole. I think that’s true for me in writing, and it's probably true for a lot of people in whatever their line of work is.
John: What's your biggest strength?
Josh: It’s very writerly to say that I know how to turn a phrase here and there, or I can say something clever, but I think that’s because I like to think of myself as a fairly well rounded person. I like to go to the bar and play trivia. I like to watch Jeopardy. I like to – you know, I'll stop on – I'll listen to podcasts about random things. I like just general knowledge. And I'm not saying that to say: gosh, I'm so smart. I'm just trying to say I have a curiosity and I sort of end up as a repository for these weird and random facts that you never know when they will come in handy. And it works –
Josh: Yeah. It works in writing and these things come up in conversation. You never know who you’ll talk to where you might have something relevant to say in a conversation that you otherwise wouldn’t, so then just always be curious and listening and open to learning something new.
John: That reminds me of White Men Can't Jump, when Rosy looks at Woody Harrelson and goes, “Ask me the name of foods that begin with the letter Q.” He’s like, “Why? Who cares? Why would this ever come in handy?” And then boom, end of the show she’s on Jeopardy, “Foods that begin with the letter Q.” And she’s like, “Quiche, quail.” And she crushes it, so you never know Fire Nation. And hey, you don’t know Fire Nation what's coming up in the lightning rounds, but first we're gonna take a minute to thank our sponsors. Josh, are you prepared for the lightning round?
John: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur, writer, what you are today?
Josh: When I was working with the Cowboys and I was chasing that dream of sports writing, I was only – you know, I was looking at my passion was like a hobby. And for me it didn't take very long at all before I realized that that hobby was pretty inconsequential and it wasn’t fulfilling, and so I would have to say it was just that I didn't – you know, I didn't have anything that truly reached me at the soul level to devote myself to.
John: What's the best advice you’ve ever received?
Josh: Work hard and be nice to people. Or treat people right and you’ll get a lot of opportunities in life.
John: What's a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Josh: I write with a pencil. We're always working a pencil. I think that being willing to erase something is very important. And maybe that’s silly, but I just think that we can never be too sure about ourselves. And we always have to be willing to fix mistakes and correct ourselves, learn something new, learn a different way to think about something.
John: If you could recommended one book for our listeners, what would it be and why?
Josh: I had a great time reading Tim’s books. The Four Hour Chef, his last one was one that really appealed to me because it wasn’t about food, it was about very quickly and with high intensity practice, you can become an expert at almost anything.
John: Fire Nation, I know you love audio, so I teamed up with Audible, and if you haven’t already, you can get an amazing audio book for free at eofirebook.com. And Josh, this is the last question of the lightning round, but it's a doozey. 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 is taken care of, but all you have is a laptop and $500.00. What would you do in the next seven days?
Josh: I would write a little bit about my story, and I would put it on kind of a Kickstarter. And I would say: hey, I'm new to this planet. I'm an alien and let me tell you about the world I left behind. And I would put it on Kickstarter, and I could use everybody else’s money to kind of setup roots there.
John: Josh, let’s end today on fire with you sharing a parting piece of guidance, the best way that we can connect with you, and then we’ll say goodbye.
Josh: The importance of passion. It's the importance of doing something that you believe in. Righteousness, hopefully that was a good word. It's so important to feel that the way that you spend your time is one that’s true to yourself and it's true to your belief system. I would advise you to try and live in righteousness. And you can follow me on Twitter at Josheedits, all one word.
John: Fire Nation, you're the average of the five people you spend the most time with. And you’ve been hanging out with JE and JLD today, so keep up the heat and head over to eofire.com. Just type Josh in the search bar, his show notes page will pop right up with everything that we've been talking about today. Don’t forget to hit him up on Twitter @ Josheedits. And I want to say thank you Josh, for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today, for that we salute you, and we’ll catch you on the flipside.
Josh: Thanks for having me.
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