My business or my life
Profit, greed, happiness and a Rebel Performance update
Note: I’ll have a chapter out for my book next week. I’ll also be giving away a free course. So, stay tuned for that.
My wife and I opened the door and stepped out into the cold Paris night.
With our stomachs full and our taste buds alive, we couldn’t stop talking about one of the best dining experiences we’ve ever had…
Le Bon Georges is a small, intimate bistro in the 9th arrondissement that, in the words of the owner, is “a work of passion where we give love.”
And that love can be felt in everything they do.
From the way you’re greeted, to the setting of the room, to the locally sourced food, to the wine, to the wait staff, and even to the conversations you have with other guests.
From the moment you walk in the door to the moment you leave, you are having a unique, all-encompassing dining experience that results first and foremost from an outpouring of passion and love.
They are not concerned with turning tables and getting as many people in and out the door as they possibly can to maximize profit…
They care about sharing an incredible dining experience with you.
That’s why it was so special.
And that’s when I realized I had lost my way…
📖 A parable - the fisherman and a Harvard MBA
Once, a powerful executive went on a vacation. As he was exploring a pier in a small coastal fishing village, a tuna fisherman docked his boat. As the fisherman lashed his boat to the pier, the executive complimented him on the size and quality of his fish.
“How long did it take you to catch these fish?” the executive asked.
“Only a little while,” the fisherman replied.
“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more?” the executive asked.
“I have enough to support my family’s needs,” said the fisherman.
“But,” asked the executive, “what do you do with the rest of your time?”
The fisherman replied, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, and stroll into the village each evening, where I sip wine and play guitar with my friends. I have a full and busy life.”
The executive was flabbergasted. “I’m a Harvard MBA and I can help you. You should spend more time fishing. With the proceeds, you could buy a bigger boat. A bigger boat would help you catch more fish, which you could sell to buy several boats. Eventually, you’d own an entire fleet.”
“Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you could sell direct to the consumer, which would improve your margins. Eventually, you could open your own factory, so you’d control the product, the processing, and the distribution. Of course, you’d have to leave this village and move to the city so you could run your expanding empire.”
The fisherman was quiet for a moment, then asked, “How long would this take?”
“Fifteen, twenty years. Twenty-five tops.”
The executive laughed. “That’s the best part. When the time is right, you’d take your company public and sell all of your stock. You’d make millions.”
“Millions? What would I do then?”
The executive paused for a moment. “You could retire, sleep late, fish a little, play with your children, take a siesta with your wife, and stroll into the village each evening to sip wine and play guitar with your friends.”
🤑 For profit or for love
There’s a lot to be learned from that parable, but what’s of most relevance is the MBA’s tunnel vision focus on revenue and profit.
Yes, if a business wants to make it, it must turn a profit.
That’s accounting 101.
Yet how you make that profit and where that profit grows from matters.
“Does it make money?” is not a bad question. It’s just a bad first question and focus. Here are some better questions to focus on first:1
Does it serve?
Does it add value to others?
Does it come from a place of love and sharing?
Let me be crystal clear - there’s nothing wrong with making money and a whole lot of it.
I’m merely saying that mindset and focus matter.
When you run a business focused solely on revenue and profit, it changes the way you view people, communities, and relationships:
You focus on “what can I get” vs. “what can I give”
You focus on “how many people can I get to buy my stuff” vs. “how many people can I serve”
You focus on “what’s in it for me” vs. “what’s in it for them”
Perhaps most importantly, you stop viewing humans as humans. You view them as numbers on a spreadsheet, walking dollar signs, or a transaction.
And let me tell you from experience - that’s not a fun place to be.2
👋 My own journey
In October of last year, I was as unhappy as I have maybe ever been.
It’s funny too because if you were to tell 23-year-old James that 33-year-old James is married to the love of his life, lives in a beautiful house, owns an investment property, has amazing family and friends, has enough cash in the bank to be good for several years if everything went to 0, runs a multi 6 figure online training and nutrition coaching business that’s helped thousands of people from around the world…
Then 23-year-old James would assume that 33-year-old James is ABUNDANTLY happy and fulfilled.
Yet I wasn’t.
And it’s because my entire focus in life had shifted from giving to getting.
I spent all day every day focused entirely on revenue, profit, and closing as many sales as I possibly could, and I didn't like the person I was becoming.3
I hated not being present.
I hated viewing humans as transactions.
I hated always thinking “what’s in it for me?”
And I hated pummeling people over the head with aggressive sales tactics.4
None of it felt genuine and authentic anymore, and I didn’t want to pick it back up till it did.
I wanted to get back to my roots and focus on what mattered to me when I first got started - creating value, touching people’s lives, putting others’ interests first, and being real.
That’s the story behind this Substack, me deciding to give my book away for free, why I’ll be giving away a free course next week, and why Rebel Performance is going to look quite different moving forward.
I want to run an incredibly successful and profitable business, but I also want to do it in a way that aligns with my deepest beliefs and values by creating, first and foremost, from a place of love and passion.
🤔 Some questions to take with you
As you go throughout your day today, I challenge you to focus on the following questions:
Where can you give more than you receive?
How can you serve more people?
How can you make your win 100% about the other person and not 50-50?
While it may not be easy, my hypothesis is that consistently doing 1-3 above will improve the quality of your life and those around you.
Thank you for being here and much love.
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My projects (if you’re interested…)
🦍 The silverback training project – this is an exclusive 16-week training and nutrition coaching program for men that want to look better, feel better and perform better than ever before.
🤑 The wealthy fit pro – this is an exclusive 6-week coaching program for fitness professionals that want to get more clients and make an extra $1000-5000 per month online.
🏋️ Principles of strength and conditioning course – this is where I show you how to empower your own performance by teaching you to write training programs that get record results in record time for your physique, health, and performance.
💨 The oxygen course – this is a course for those brave souls that want to dive into the weeds and learn graduate-level respiratory, cardiovascular, and muscular physiology without the graduate school price tag.
If you can answer these 3 questions, yet what you’re doing doesn’t make money, then you have a passion project. Not a business.
I’m not here to comment or pass judgment on other people’s values. I understand the utility of starting a business with the primary purpose of generating cash flow 4-Hour Workweek Style. I’m speaking 100% from my experience growing and running a service-based business.
I’m sure there are people out there who can run a business this way. I’m just not one of them.
Even though they work.