Listen or watch on your favorite platforms

What fundamental steps and mindsets drive entrepreneurs towards an authentic, successful journey in the business world?

In this bonus episode, I'm privileged to host the remarkable Pat Flynn, a seasoned entrepreneur, author, and creator of Smart Passive Income. Join us as we uncover the invaluable strategies, experiences, and wisdom behind Pat's entrepreneurial journey.

Topics Covered

  • Pat's journey as an entrepreneur: from inception to success
  • Overcoming fear and resistance in entrepreneurial endeavors
  • Strategies for nurturing authentic relationships in business
  • The power and impact of creating content in public
  • The art of validating business ideas for success
  • Strategies for effective storytelling in entrepreneurship
  • Navigating multiple business ideas: focus and validation
  • The significance of continuous learning and adaptation in business
  • Embracing authenticity amidst entrepreneurial triumphs
  • The impact of relationships on entrepreneurial growth and sustainability

Pat's Resources


Leo 00:09

Welcome to the Zen Habits podcast, where we dive into how to work with uncertainty, resistance, and fear around our meaningful work. This is for anyone who wants to create an impact in the world and cares deeply enough to do the work. I'm your host, Leo Babauta, creator of the Zen Habits blog.

Leo 00:35

Hi, my friends. I am honored to be joined on this podcast by a friend of mine named Pat Flynn. Pat is someone I've known for well over a decade. I met him in person at a conference and immediately was struck by how, not only how smart he was, but how authentic he was. Struck me as someone who actually cared about what he did and was trying to create something that was genuinely helpful.

He is the creator of a podcast, and a website and lots of other things around the brand Smart Passive income. In fact, several podcasts, but a Smart Passive Income is his main one. He has created courses for creators and entrepreneurs things around like creating and launching a business and much more.

He's written books. Let's see a couple of the books. One is called "Superfans: The easy way to stand out, grow your tribe, and build a successful business". Another called, "Will It Fly? How to test your next business idea so you don’t waste your time and money". Another called "Let Go: Pat Flynn’s memoir about overcoming adversity through a commitment to pursuing your own path".

Really amazing books. I would recommend those definitely his podcast, blog, newsletter, YouTube channel. Done everything online. So Pat Flynn, really amazing guy. I think you'll love him. Listen up.

Okay. Great to have you on Pat. Welcome. It is such an honor to have you as one of my first guests.

Pat 02:14

Leo, it is an honor to be a guest on your show. I've been awaiting the day when we would be able to hear your voice on a podcast and to be on your show here is truly an honor from this side. So I appreciate it. Thank you so much.

Leo 02:27

I've just told people a little bit about you, but to give a little bit more of a personal backstory, I remember when we actually first met in person. It was in Las Vegas in blog world, like 2011, I think it was. We were with a bunch of people who were, I think they were internet famous or like... the thing that struck me about them was they were all really successful and none of them felt really authentic to me, or at least not none, but I didn't vibe with them. But you stood out to me because you felt like someone who was down to earth and authentic and doing this for the right reasons. Yeah, so that's why I like, I resonated with you right away.

Pat 03:14

I appreciate that. I remember that we were, I don't know how I got in that room, honestly you and Darren Rouse, who I respected as a blogger was there as well.

Leo 03:23

I wasn't trying to talk shit about Darren.

Pat 03:26

Darren's awesome. Like both of you were like a huge inspiration to me when I started blogging in in my journey. But I agree there were some other people there that I don't think we're going to mention any names for, but it just seemed like they were there for the wrong reasons or just to serve themselves. And that's one thing I've always admired about you is through your work, especially your writing over the years you've always come at it from a, an approach of serving others whilst sharing the things that you are learning for yourself too. So I appreciate you for that.

Leo 03:53

Yeah. And over the years I've just watched and watched you take off and not only that, but put out so much incredible stuff. You've put out courses. You've you've had different communities that you've led, books that you put out blogs and, multiple podcasts, which I just cannot believe a YouTube video channels. I can't believe how much you turn out and that was actually one of the things I want to talk to you about, but it's just been amazing to watch your journey as a creator and as a leader of entrepreneurs, really amazing.

Pat 04:28

Thank you so much.

Leo 04:31

There's a few things I'm really curious about, but one of them is what I just mentioned is that you put out a lot of stuff. And I would like to look at you as a creator. The second thing that I'm really interested in is that you also help other creators, other entrepreneurs. You work with a lot of people and you've learned what helps them to get unstuck. So I'd love to talk about that and then we'll get to this later but Pokemon is the word that I'm going to say. So we'll come to that in a little bit, because there's something new that you've been putting out that's as fascinating. 'd love to hear more about that.

Okay. So the first part is you as a creator, I cannot keep track of how much you've been putting out over the years of the last, 12 years since I've known you. What is your secret? I'm just going to. Put that as a real simple question.

Pat 05:26

There really is no secret or magic formula. I just create about and around the things that I personally am curious about and enjoy. Even when we eventually start talking about Pokemon, you'll see this to be a real life more recent example of that. But even back in 2008, I started out not by teaching other entrepreneurs, but actually by helping other architects. I'd gotten laid off from my architecture job. And to essentially survive that time, I had a website to help architects pass an exam. And that's what I was doing at the time. That's what I learned about. And that's what I felt like I could best help people with.

And the cool thing I learned right away was that I could help people even though I wasn't an "expert" on something. If I was just a few steps ahead of where perhaps they were, then I could be greatly useful and I could serve that person and where this became very apparent was actually just a few months after starting my website and I started selling a PDF file of study notes and worksheets and templates and other things to help people pass this particular exam.

The exam was called the lead exam. It's still an exam that exists today and that website, Green Exam Academy still exists today, although it's a hundred percent hands off at this point, which is really amazing. But I learned after a few months when my guide came out the United States green building council, this is the company and the organization that literally writes the questions for this exam. They came out with their own guide. They didn't have one before, which is why I think mine did so well in the beginning.

But then they came out with their own. And I said, 'Oh my gosh, I'm done. There's no way I'm going to survive this because why would people buy from me? I'm just a regular person. Why would they buy it for me when they could get it from the other people who actually wrote the questions?', but little did I know that this would actually boost my sales, people started looking around at other solutions and they found me and they said, 'Oh, this guy, Pat. He just took the exam. He knows firsthand. He was on the front lines of this exam', which was a very difficult exam, by the way, and very expensive.

So a lot of people were spending money to try to pass it and many times failing, but they found me, they found my story. I was just like them. And as a result of that, they trusted me, and of course, with the stories of people who have gotten my guide and then passed and me sharing that they were like, 'Oh, this is my guy'. And what was really interesting was when people found that website and then took part of in my exams and stuff or practice exams and test material, they then started sharing that with a lot of others.

I talk about this story about a woman named Jackie in my book, Superfans, and she was just a woman who. Passed the exam with my help and little did I know that she was going to essentially be like my number one spokesperson for the brand in and around her area, I noticed one day that 25 emails came in that were from the same architecture firm that she was at. She was able to convince that one person, Jackie. Convinced every single person in her firm to buy my guide and she could have just shared hers but she wanted to help me.

That was like my first experience with a super fan and I'm like 'I'm not an artist or musician or an actor yet I'm still able to help people feel a certain way and have them want to pay me back and return in different kinds of ways'. So to go back to the original thought, like I was just writing about things I knew about and knowing that I could still help people, even though I wasn't an expert. And after that website took off, that's when was started and I was just, again, writing about what I knew.

Here was this architecture thing I started. Here's how I did it. Here's what I wish I knew. Here's what I would have done differently. And then the other thing that really took off as far as Smart Passive Income was concerned, and you might remember this, I had my income reports published every single month.

Every month I shared not only what I was doing in the business and how it was rolling, but exactly down to the penny, how much money I was making and where it was coming from and also how much money I was spending and where it was going. The expenses and the income... and people started to see over time that these income reports continued to grow and grow.

And it wasn't that long ago or it wasn't that long after that, that creators like Yaro Staruk from... gosh, I can't even remember his name, his website. It was just like entrepreneur blog. com or something like that. Darren Rouse reached out to me and wanted to collect that story of how I did that.

So I think again, just sharing the story and coming at it from an approach of 'here's what I learned and here's what I would do if I was in this situation again differently', people really enjoy that sort of just transparency and authentic take versus, 'Hey, look at me and I'm successful. Everybody should do it this way. And this is like the only way to do it'. I was just like, no, there's many ways probably. But. This is how I did it and that's how I approach content. Just the stuff I know that, that way I don't even have to do a ton of research because it's stuff I'm living. So that's it.

Leo 10:30

I love that. Let's get into when you sit down to create something. So whether it's a course or a podcast or a book or a YouTube channel, do you face, I would imagine at this point you're superhuman, so you don't have any fears, no resistance, but I'm just wondering, do you face resistance and fears? And what do you do to actually be able to still put that out and create?

Pat 10:54

All the time. In fact, if I'm not facing a little bit of resistance or fear, that's when I worry the most. That to me means I'm not pushing myself beyond my comfort zone, which is where all the growth happens. In the beginning, I didn't know that. In the beginning, I was facing fear and trying to run away from it.

I remember I was asked to speak on stage for the first time in 2011 at the Financial Blogger Conference, which was happening in Chicago. And I wanted to immediately say no, I wanted to run away from that, but I knew it was a good opportunity. I said yes, and then three weeks before the event happened Philip Taylor, the founder, said their keynote speaker for the event, their closing keynote speaker, was gonna not make it, and he asked me to take his place.

And me, not ever having been on stage before again, I freaked out and I initially said, no, I don't want to do this. But I went back again, knowing that there was probably a lot more upside than downside. So that was another thing. It was like, okay what ifs could come from this? And typically the what ifs in my brain start to go into the negative realm. What if this ruins my career? What if I. Embarrass myself. What if I fail? All those kinds of things.

But I always try to counter that with the other what ifs, what if this actually launches my speaking career? What if I actually learn how to become a better communicator in the process? What if this allows me to introduce myself to people who I wouldn't have gotten in front of otherwise. Weighing those pros and cons and thinking realistically about this, you and I have talked about this on my podcast, just in reality, what's the worst that can happen? Usually it's not as bad as we often make it out to be.

But to the point that I mentioned earlier, I've learned over time that all the most amazing growth that has happened in my business and in my life has happened with a lot of nervousness, a lot of apprehension, a lot of tension, and now I look toward those things. I try to make sure that every new thing that I take, every new project, every new book, every new whatever it might be like... I have to be nervous or else it's probably not testing myself enough or expanding my boundaries. It's not going to be interesting enough or curious enough for me to figure out.

Because if it was comfortable, then I probably already know how to do it and it's not going to test me and it's probably going to be received in the same way too. 'Oh, this is the usual stuff that I've seen elsewhere' versus, 'Wow, where did this come from?' I can feel the not just the excitement, but how hard perhaps this was. And now Pat's sharing the results because that's what he does. He just shares what he's doing in his life.

So yeah, I, I look toward the fear. Now I look for it and I've learned that it's not going to kill me. It's not going to kill me. And even if I fail, it will have been a massive lesson that I could take with me forward. If I want to try that thing again or try something similar in the future.

Leo 13:44

It sounds like these are, is a hard one lesson that you've gotten over a number of failures or number of times where you've had to face that and actually came through it and didn't kill me. And actually this is something that I want, which is really amazing to hear.

Is there anything tactically that you might do? Let's say you get up in the morning and you're like, I'm going to write a book right now and I'm facing some resistance anything that you do to actually be writing in the face of that resistance?

Pat 14:14

Yeah, there's two things. Number one, this is less tactful, but more mindset. I think about who this is ultimately for. An analogy I love to use is if I'm going to be writing something or creating something, I know it's because I want to help people in some way. And I imagine that thing as if it were a life ring, right? And I'm on this boat or raft, and I'm, like, safely on that thing. But I have this life ring that I could throw out to somebody who might be drowning in the metaphorical whatever it might be that I'm trying to help them through.

Am I going to let my fear get in the way of me throwing that life ring out to them, right? Or that, that worry. Am I going to tell that person who's drowning, 'I would throw it, but I'm scared. I've never done this before'. No, I would obviously, if somebody was drowning, I would do whatever I can, even if it wasn't perfect. And if I miss, I reel it back in and I throw it in again until it finally hits them. And then they can, I can pull them back in and rescue them.

Typically, I think about that metaphor and I go, 'Wow, what a selfish thing to feel that like maybe people might be too afraid of my voice', which was the thing that I was telling myself before I started my podcast in 2010 or like 'People might not enjoy this or, it's probably going to bore them to death or something'. But what if there was that one person who actually, you know, gets inspired by this? Like for them, I have to do it.

So that's number one. And number two oftentimes what drives a lot of the apprehension or just the worries, just the grandness the, how big the thing might feel, right? A book is a huge undertaking. I remember when I first wrote my first book, which was my first book was let go, which was more of a memoir. So that was very simple because it was more of just. Me talking about what had happened in my life.

But my first sort of business book was called "Will It Fly?" And it was published in 2015. And I really struggled to write that thing because it was just so big, it was so much weight to this. And I could churn out a 2000 to 3000 word blog post in a couple hours easy, but I couldn't even get a paragraph out in five hours of writing because the book just felt so heavy.

So what I ended up doing was breaking up this. into a bunch of little tiny projects. Thinking of each chapter as if it were a blog post that I was writing. And within each of those blog posts, thinking about each little section as if it was a section of a blog that I was writing. And what really helped me map that out was my secret weapon, the post it note.

I use post it notes. All the time because I've learned that, I have a creative brain and I think about a lot of things, but they don't often, they're not often thought about in the right chronological order or with any hierarchy. It's messy. My brain is messy. I think a lot of us can relate to this.

So I use Post it notes to take what is in my brain and what is happening and lay it all out so I can visually see. The mess that had just come from my own self, and then I can organize. I call it the dump lump, and jump strategy. The dump, lump, and jump. So part one is dump. You just dump it all out there. It's messy. It's just one big pile of ideas.

So if you're writing a book, for example, You need to know ultimately what the purpose is of the book, but there's, there might be a million things in between where they're at now, starting with the book as a reader to where you want them to go. Hard to know what order to put it, put things in or what to work on. So let's just get it all out there.

And even just doing that exercise alone, you can start to already see some things and you can then Start to lump things together, right? Oh, here are all the things that relate to mindset. Here are all the things that relate to tools. Here are all the things that relate to this. And you can start to actually see that there are clusters now of those ideas that all relate to each other. Those can become the modules of your course or the section of the book that you're writing or whatever it might be.

And then there you reorder them. Okay, this should go first. This should go next. This should go next. And the beauty of using a post it note is I can. pick them up and move them around and I can, remove them overall. If maybe I doubled up on something or if there's a missing something, I can easily add something back in versus working on something like a notepad or even something more digital. Although there are digital versions of note sticky notes that one could use.

But the beauty of this is after you finish doing that, the dump, a lump and jump strategy. You have your outline for your book. You have your outline for your course. It is there. And now when you're working on it, this big thing, you can just take the one post it note for that first lesson in that first module, put it on your computer or at your desk, and that's what you need to focus on right now. That's the only thing that matters right now.

And over time. They just start to stack and oh my gosh, by the end of this, you have this thing. Now, of course, with something like a book, you still need to connect and put a thread line through all of it. But that can come in the second or third draft, which is usually what happens.

So that's how I take something that's much bigger, that's very scary. I turn it into a lot of smaller things that are achievable. And I like to gamify it. Maybe I can get 10 post its done this week. That kind of thing. That is something that's motivating to me. And then just seeing how much closer I am to the end goal. The post it notes that I finish, I don't just throw away. I put in the finish pile where I can see it. Every day I'm going in, I'm going, 'Wow, look at how much I've already accomplished'. And then, my sunk cost mechanism can go in and go, wow, look how much I already put in this. I need to finish this or else it'll be a total waste.

Leo 19:44

That's great. Some really great strategies, tactics there from the, life raft kind of thing. I forgot the thing you throw out. That one I love that. And then, just the breaking things down into smaller pieces and the, what was it? Dump, lump, and jump strategy with the post it notes. All great.

Pat 20:05

You need to take a good dump. To start, you always feel better after you do that.

Leo 20:10

And gamifying it is another great one as well. Like just finding ways to gamify it. Do you use any kind of accountability when you're writing or creating something like this, either to your team or listeners or readers or anyone else?

Pat 20:22

That's a great question. In many cases, especially when it comes to the online courses or stuff we do for the community, the community itself and my team who is waiting for me to create something is enough for me to be held accountable because I don't want to let other people down.

But in more personal things or things like books, the books aren't necessarily related to my team and employees that I have. It's more separate. I have mastermind groups, so I have a couple that I've been in for. Literally over a decade each now each with about four or five people and a lot of times they are checking up on me as if they're just you know, my account of accountability buddies that's really what they're there for in addition to being brutally honest with me when I need to hear it as well.

And what's amazing about these groups is these are people who know me sometimes better than I know myself self. They can call me out on things when I might be too blind to them. And oftentimes you can't read the label when you're inside the bottle. So I have these people out there who can see the label for me. And it's not just me taking from them all the time. It's actually me being that for them as well. And that's the beauty of this sort of like knights of the round table kind of situation. The mastermind or the brain trust, as you sometimes hear it from years past FDR's brain trust, for example.

Again, the importance being like relationships are key. We cannot do this alone and you need other people on the outside to help you through times that you might need some encouragement number one or show you that maybe you're going down the wrong path. And that has been very much probably the most valuable thing for me as far as my other friends and colleagues and our mastermind.

As I've gotten successful over the years, I've seen it happen with a lot of other people who've become successful, who no longer are themselves anymore. They let the fame or the money get to them. They might think that they're the best and nobody can come up to their level. And these kinds of negative things that come with success.

I have given permission to my mastermind group to call me out when they see me going down that same path. And I've gone through not terribly, but there have been cases where I've maybe gotten a little big headed as a result of some of the success. And they are quick to bring me back to where I need to go that. My wife's very quick to bring me back too, she once said that if my head gets too big, she's not going to be there to hold it for me. And I'm grateful for that, honestly.

I'm at a point now where I can, I'm like unplugged from the matrix of business success and I can see things and I can catch myself before it even becomes a problem at this point. And I see it for others too. And I try to offer value and help as a mentor and leader for them in the same regard.

Leo 23:07

That's amazing. I love that you have her. I love that you have the mastermind groups that are, they know you so well. And if you ever see me getting too big my head too big, just go ahead and call me Adam as well. 'Leo. Little real talk here'. Thank you for sharing all of that. And I do talk about that as well, of how important it is to have some kind of support outside of yourself. It's hard to do this on your own. And it's so great to hear how you use that.

Let's switch to how are you working with other entrepreneurs and creators, people who are putting stuff out there. There's a couple of key places that I want to ask. Get curious about the first one is just starting out. So like I want to do something, I don't know exactly what it is. I've got 10 ideas. Yeah, you know this place?

Pat 24:00

A lot of my students are in the same exact seat for sure. It's either they have zero ideas or a hundred ideas and they don't know where to begin. And this is exactly why I wrote my book "Will it Fly?". It's to help filter those ideas and the tagline of the book is how to find your next business idea so you don't waste your time and money or how to validate it. And that's the key word there. Validate it. Let's get some validation that this is the path we do want to put our time and effort into before we actually dedicate that time and effort. And there's a few exercises that one could do. If you don't mind me sharing

Leo 24:35

Please do.

Pat 24:36

Could be really helpful. One thing I love to do is to talk about my favorite movie Back to the Future. My all time favorite movie, and my favorite part about it is, of course, the really cool DeLorean that is the time machine.

And so I run this experiment, this thought experiment with a lot of people who aren't quite sure which direction to go down, especially, let's say you have two ideas, they're both very curious for you and perhaps opportunistic, and you're not quite sure which one to try or go down.

And so I say, okay, let's just pick one hypothetically. And let's say that's what you choose and let's go into our DeLorean one year into the future. And let's just imagine that everything worked out the way you wanted it to. Don't worry about how that happened. Just you're there a year from now and it worked like your idea worked and it's doing what you want to do.

What are you doing? What's your day like? Who are you with? Are you happy? And a lot of times we go through this experiments, like a person goes, 'Wow, like I'm seeing myself there, but I'm like, I don't really want to be doing that all the time'. It's interesting because we come back to today we take to DeLorean back to now and they go, 'Wow, that wasn't as good as I thought it was going to be'.

It sounds attractive now, like the money is cool, but that's not something that I would get excited about waking up every day too. So even though it would have been successful, I still don't want to do that and how amazing it is to know now that might be the case so that you don't even have to even go down that path.

Other times it's the opposite effect and many times it is as well as you go there and you're like, 'Wow, this is amazing. This is what I'm doing and I don't have to do this anymore. And I want that'. That future state provides motivation for the current state and allows for like almost like a. Wow, you saw yourself there like that is possible. So don't let that fear and don't let the anxiety stop you from potentially getting there. Like you want that, you go get it. And now you saw yourself there

So that experiment is number one because it's even before any of the tactics or strategies come into play. You can decide this is actually a path you'd want to go down or not.

And then if it is a yes, then you can move on to some of the more business specific things where I often recommend if you have an idea, find... This is what I like to call the one strategy. And this is finding one person who is in that target market. Again, you have your idea and you're going to find one person. It might be in a community. It might be a friend of yours, or you go out there again. You don't need a website or nothing. You just need to find one person that exercise alone is going to teach you where these people exist and how to talk to them and where they're at. So that's like really helpful. Number one.

And then you go and help that person. You try to figure out a way to get them to agree to work with you for X number of weeks or days or whatever for you to be able to help them. to get to that goal or to solve that problem or get rid of that inconvenience or whatever it might be.

And again, that alone provides a lot of exercise and experimentation and real life experience to how do I even convince somebody to do that? What might I say to them? How do I even get their attention?

To do this with just one person brings it down to something that is manageable and something that is much easier than thinking, 'Okay, I need a thousand people on an email list'. What is an email list? How do we even get people on there? I need a website. How do I even make a website? Versus let's just find somebody. No website needed just a direct connection to them through a direct message platform or email or text.

Leo 28:05

I love the simplicity of that.

Pat 28:06

Yes, exactly. And then here's the beauty of it. Part three of number one is you help that person get a result. You have a testimonial now. That you could use when you are now promoting this or creating your website or whatever. But more than that, and this was very important for the entrepreneur, is you now have the confidence that what it is that you're trying to do actually freaking works because that is the number one thing that often stops people.

You might have the most beautiful website and pitch and product, but if you aren't sure, which most entrepreneurs aren't, you're not sure that this is going to work, or it's worth a person's money, or you just are hoping that this might take off. It's going to be very difficult for you to relay that message that this is the right thing for them.

Because if you are a little bit, timid about the way that you talk about your product or whatever it is that you're offering, then how can you expect somebody to receive it in a very confident manner? Versus you know that you have the metaphorical cure to this disease. If you had a cure for a disease, you would do nothing but really go aggressive with promoting this and not aggressive in a bad way, but just do what it takes to make sure that the people who this, who have this, again, metaphorical disease, you have the cure for.

And guess what? There is somebody that you've already quote unquote cured or helped or solved this problem for. Now it's not even a question. It's I need more people like the person I just helped and often where there's one, there's many more in that same community. And of course that person can then probably share it with somebody else who's going through the same thing. Cause many people connect with each other who have similar problems.

So this is the method that I would recommend to start out with. That's very low friction, but it is high. It feels higher pressure because you actually have to talk to somebody, right? Part of the benefit of when we started our businesses back in the day was, 'Ooh, I can just hide behind a keyboard and I don't even have to talk to anybody'. But today you have to do that because everybody is behind a keyboard and in order to stand out a little bit of interaction goes a very long way.

And then you can take what you've learned and amplify that into now a beta group with 10, 20 people going through now a proven course, or maybe you make sure you write down the process that you taught Jimmy in the beginning. And now you can turn that into a digital course or a book or what have you so that you can scale that up and help more people at once. So that's how I'd recommend a person get started in the beginning.

Leo 30:33

I love it. That's a really smart method. And I could see the S and SPI really smart. Thank you for sharing that. If someone, what if someone is in the I have two or three things that I really want and I can't choose between them. I just stuck there and frozen.

Pat 30:54

Yeah, if you're stuck and frozen, then those ideas are just going to remain ideas and nothing will happen, right? You have to pick one. And a lot of people in the stage go let me try all three, right? Cause I'm going to, I'm going to try all three. And then, one of them has to. To stick. The truth is, if you divide your energy across two to three projects, then each of those projects will have half or a third of what you could potentially offer and thus not really have a chance to take off.

So I would say start with one, the one that you're most excited about, or the one that and or the one that perhaps you have the easiest opportunity to begin to find that one person or create the thing that you're creating and then give yourself. Six months or a year to fully focus on that. You don't have to commit to it forever, but giving yourself a good amount of time to focus on it, to put your energy into, to give it an actual chance, then you can make an assessment in that time period.

I remember Darren Rouse talking about when he started his blog,, it was his wife who gave him the ultimatum. 'You have six months to make this work as a business, or else this is not gonna be what you're doing'. And he created, I think this was before pro blogger, it was digital that he started. And it was that. 'Okay, six months, I gotta make this work, this is the one thing I'm gonna focus on, and I gotta get it to start making money', and he did, and he's done really well with it. I don't know if he still owns it or sold it, but that thing still continues to run today.

That's how I would start and, in some cases, honestly, with some of my students, who are confused on which one to do, just flip a coin like you got to make some progress somewhere. Every day you wait to either put content out there or try to reach out and help somebody is a day that is wasted that is an opportunity for learning and an opportunity to get to the next step on that staircase.

The other part about this that's often scary is. And part of the underlying reason why people freeze is because they want things to be perfect. They are waiting for the planets to align before making a decision. It's they're not going to it is going to be up to you to make it happen.

I remember my wife and I, we were like, 'Oh we don't know if we want to have kids. Cause there's always something going on. That's that might get in the way of that. Or, buying a house, there was always, 'Oh what if the market goes down more? I don't know if we're quite ready'. There's never a perfect time, but we knew ultimately what we wanted. So we went for it. And now we have a house, two kids, everything's great. Same thing with business. I didn't wait for perfect time because the perfect time is actually yesterday to start.

Leo 33:33

So great. Yeah. I wish I had some of those objections to having kids. I had, I ended up having six of them, so I didn't have enough objections. So let's see. I'm kidding. I love all of them.

I want to get to Pokemon, speaking of kids, but before we get there one last place that people find themselves that I wanted to ask about, maybe it's a couple of places, but it's, I've created the book, I've created the course, I've made the thing, but here in private, and now it's time to put it out there. And I'm feeling a lot of resistance to putting myself out there or marketing myself because it feels inauthentic, or I'm worried about putting it out there and just... crickets... anything that you, you say to the people you work with who are in that place?

Pat 34:24

Yeah. Number one, sorry. I have my soundboard here. Number one, I always recommend that you share what it is that you're creating, whilst it's being created, or while it is being created. This way you can let people in on a lot of behind the scenes of what it is that you're doing. A lot of people are interested in things that are happening as they're happening, right?

This is why "How it's made" on the Discovery or Science Channel has been around for so long. Because we just love to see how the rubber tire gets made. We don't even care about rubber tires, but we love to see the factory and how it's made.

So people become very curious, but of course, if they are fans of yours or even if they're not and they get curious about what you're doing, they can become fans of yours. And so by the time the thing comes out, your book comes out, they'll already have invested time leading up to that and probably want to support you. And they almost feel like they're a part of it.

And, in fact, one thing that you could do to take that one step further as a creator is to get your audience involved in some way, shape, or form. To get them to feel like they were actually a part of it in some way. Whether it's as simple as a survey that you can then include inside of your book or even having them choose what the cover might look like. That's something that I've done with each of my books and it's been very good for getting people involved and feeling like they've had some say in where things end up.

The other part about this, and I'm reminded of an author, his name is Andy Weir. He wrote the book "The Martian". And when he wrote that book, he wrote it publicly on a blog, and was chapter by chapter just sharing it as he was going along. And what was really cool was that a lot of people started to share it, because they really loved the story.

But then it got to the point where even NASA engineers were following along, because obviously there was a lot of science in it. And they were able to provide help and calculations for Andy that eventually ended up in the book. So by the time the book came out, we knew it was going to be a best seller because everybody had been following it already.

And you might think, 'Oh that's like sharing the work before you even publish it. Isn't that bad?'. But the truth is, you have a lot more to gain from the fans and the people who were there along the journey. They call it "work in public" and that goes a very long way today versus 'Let me create this thing in secret, then try to shout from a megaphone and hopefully capture people's attention who don't know me yet, who don't even know what this is, I have to interrupt their day to tell them that I have this thing'. How like selfish does that feel?

Versus 'Let me take you in on what I'm doing. Here's what's going well, here's what's not going well, and if you have something to add or support me with awesome'. And by the time it comes out, a person may have already checked out the whole story or learned all the information, but they're going to want to pay you and also share it because they're a part of the journey with you. And when they're involved, they're invested, right? When they're involved, they will get invested.

Now, let's say you didn't do that and you have this book or this course or whatever. Now, there are ways to get in front of people still through advertising or running workshops and trainings. I think the number one way to go about advertising or sharing something that you have in front of new people is to have a collaboration. Somebody else who already has an audience trusting in you to come to their audience and sharing this information.

So similar to what we're doing right now, you are so generous to have me on your show and now everybody's introduced to my work and what I'm doing. And should they enjoy what they hear or watch and see they might go deeper and, subscribe to my newsletter or buy one of my courses or something down the road, right?

Even if you didn't know me before. Because of your connection, the listener's connection to Leo here, like I'm here with your trust, and that speaks very highly. That fast forwards the relationship building between me and one of your listeners super fast, and that's thanks to you.

Again, the importance of relationships and building those relationships and, meeting people in person and collaborating helping each other grow is really key. You cannot do this alone. And if I'm sorry, if you've created something all on your own with like in a silo with no contact to anybody else, it's going to be a big uphill battle to try to get it in front of people. It's not to say it can't happen especially if it's good, but you can fast forward a lot of your success and reach by building those relationships with your audience along the way and also other creators and influencers.

Leo 38:44

I love how in both of those things, create in public and collaborate. If you've already created it, there's a lot of like connection and collaboration there. It's not so much like I'm a solo creator, but I'm working with others and it just feels a lot more like community or you're building some of these connections that are really enriching.

I think Andy Weir is a great example of disproving that idea of you've already given it away in public. Like, how could you make any money? He's done okay.

Pat 39:19

He has done okay, for sure. And you know what's interesting? I was thinking about this the other day. Information is freely available everywhere now, right? We are at a buffet. And there's so much information that people are piling onto their plates, right? The information back when we started was the thing that was valuable because that information didn't exist. So therefore, we could either charge for it or we would grow an audience because we were able to share these things that nobody else had before.

But now, all the information's out there. YouTube, on blogs, and podcasts. You could find whatever it is that you need. So what's going to be the difference now? It's the human element that lives on top of that. It's the unique experiences of the creator that then could put on top of that information. That connection to the audience is going to be what helps you stand out.

And so instead of a buffet, I want to be the creator who, yes, there's a buffet over there, everybody's piling their plates and all I think we all feel we're getting bloated with how much we're consuming out there. To keep the analogy going, I want to be the person who has the restaurant that serves a four or five course meal and creates an experience with that food, right?

I don't want to give you all the food that we have in the kitchen. I want to give you my masterpiece and I want you to enjoy it and also invite your friends and also wait in line because there's so much demand for it because I'm not just giving it to everybody because it's not just about the information and the ingredients. It's about the way that I put it together and what it tells you it's, I want you to be like that food critic in ratatouille who takes a bite of the ratatouille and then goes back to your childhood yeah, that's what I want to do for my audience.

Leo 40:54

So beautiful. I know you have a newsletter called Getting Unstuck. Is that a good place to get stuff around all of this that we've just been talking about?

Pat 41:05

Yeah the newsletter is called Unstuck, so you can get unstuck at And what it is, it's a weekly newsletter, about a five minute read, and I share a story of how I or somebody else has gotten unstuck in business, and this is something that hopefully provides some inspiration in a quick way every week to your inbox. And every email also includes a dad joke, because that's very much annoying, and so a lot of people look forward to that. as well. So subscribe, even if it's just for the dad jokes. But no, thank you for allowing me to share that smart, passive income. com slash unstuck.

Leo 41:38

Okay. And so you've already given us some really incredible things, but I know that you've got so much more in your books. We'll link to all of those and highly recommend subscribing to Unstuck.

Leo 41:48

Before we go, we've got to talk about Pokemon.

Pat 41:50

We do have to talk about Pokemon.

Leo 41:53

This is something that I was not aware of before we started recording, so it shows you've been putting out so much stuff, it's hard to follow everything that everyone's doing, but it's, it sounds fascinating so tell me a little bit more about that project.

Pat 42:07

Yeah, I wouldn't expect everybody who knew me on SPI, or even long time friends to know that I'm doing this, because it's for a completely different audience, and that's the cool thing about it. It's become an amazing case study for being able to start something new today. In front of a new audience that didn't know me before and create something amazing.

So in 2020, my kids and I started to get into Pokemon because it was pandemic. We were just looking for fun things to do. And then of course they moved on to something else, but I went really deep with it. I got involved in YouTube channels. I became a moderator for other YouTube channels in the Pokemon space.

And then I started to notice what's really interesting about the Pokemon collector space, specifically, there's many facets to Pokemon. There's the game aspect of it, but the collecting is the part that I really enjoy and love. There's a lot of creators who've been creating for a very long time on YouTube who have been sharing their collections, showing the new cards that they've obtained, and sharing information about those cards, the market prices the things that are rare, the things that are common opening packs on video, even live. There's a friend of mine, his name is Nick, or Pokirev as he's known. He will have upwards of 10 people watching him open Pokemon cards live on his channel.

Leo 43:16

That's incredible.

Pat 43:18

It is incredible. You might think it's a bunch of kids, and it is a lot of kids. But the majority of the audience are people my age, people who grew up when Pokemon the anime came out and the card game came out in the nineties, who we would spend our allowance on it. But now those people are grown up and have money to spend and are going to spend it on stuff that is nostalgic and bringing their kids along and stuff.

So anyway, being in that space for about six months, I was like, you know what? I think I could bring something different to this space and something interesting. So I started the YouTube channel. It's called Deep Pocket Monster. And I started it in January of 2021. In 11 months.

Leo 43:51

I love that title, by the way.

Pat 43:53

Thank you. Yeah. In 11 months and 28 days, it hit a hundred thousand subscribers. My Pat Flynn entrepreneurial channel took 10 years to get to a hundred thousand subscribers. And currently today, after two and a half years, it is approaching 700,000 subscribers 200 million views. Some of our videos have been on the top trending page of YouTube. One of them was number three at one point.

And what am I doing? I'm telling story. I'm bringing a lot of what I've learned from the business space as far as storytelling. Capturing people's attention, cinematography, and I'm bringing that, which is my unfair advantage, into this space, and it's blowing people away.

And if you'd you could check out some of the videos at Deep Pocket Monster. What's beautiful is a lot of the comments are like, 'I don't even like Pokemon, and these videos are really interesting'. So we try to tell a story, or I'm trying to complete a challenge within a certain period of time. And we're getting really into the weeds of the analytics and YouTube and how YouTube works. And the titles, thumbnails, et cetera.

And it's gotten to the point now where I'm doing live streams and I have three to 4,000 people watching at a time, which is amazing. The ad revenue coming in from YouTube is actually more money than I'm making in my other business at this point. Which is ridiculous. Not to mention, I'm still doing affiliate marketing. I'm an affiliate for some binder companies and other card protector companies and other things.

But, this really climaxed in June of 2023, where I held an event in Anaheim, California called Card Party. And 2,500 people came to Anaheim, California from all around the world to nerd out on Pokemon cards for two and a half days. And by the end of the event, we sold tickets to the next year without even a location or date. And we had sold 300 tickets to the next year's event.

So this crowd was very hungry for an event like this that was family friendly, that brought a lot of the creators in from the space that brought a lot of the big name brands like Ultra Pro and Beckett and PSA and CGC, all these grading card companies and all these other vendors came in. And then to see families and kids enjoy and really focusing on their experience. We set a world record. I don't know if you saw this but...

Leo 46:09

I did not know that.

Pat 46:11

At the event we set a world record in his world record.

Leo 46:12

Guiness World Record! Certified. That's amazing.

Pat 46:16

We had a person from Guinness there and I got to give credit to Chris Guillebeau who's who did this at World Domination Summit. So I was like, okay, we're gonna do the same thing. And so we broke the record of most people opening a pack of trading cards simultaneously with 1,189 people.

Yeah, and we had an adjudicator there from Guinness. Who made it really fun and now, like this was, it was a very expensive thing to do. It was a lot of coordination and a lot of headache, but I really wanted it to happen because this first year for the event and especially for these people, I wanted them to take home something that they couldn't get anywhere else.

So now there's 1,189 people who can say they are now a world record holder and have that memory and experience to share. And so next year is looking to be a little bit bigger. And I've already had some companies come out and say, Hey, we want to purchase this event from you. And I'm not quite ready to sell it, we've created something special and I'm a 40 year old guy playing with cardboard with cartoons on it. I'm having the time of my life.

Leo 47:27

It sounds like so much fun. And it's such an incredible story. I gotta ask, if this took off so fast compared to your other YouTube channel what do you attribute that to? Anything that you did, or is it just the niche?

Pat 47:42

It was definitely the care for making every video a gift to the subscriber. That was something that another YouTuber, Ryan Trahan, said. And it's really focusing on the package of the video and making it worth a person's time. Because on YouTube, what happens is if you can get people to A, click on the video and B, stick on the video. So this is the click and stick strategy for YouTube.

If you can just get a person to stick around, then YouTube goes, 'Oh my gosh people love this video, let's send it to more people because that keeps people on our platform'. If you can help YouTube keep people on the platform, then YouTube is going to help you by sharing your video with more people on the platform.

And so we've been really playing into that and playing into the storytelling and the first, 30 seconds of the video, really making it so clear that there are things in this video that you're not going to want to miss or creating open loops or open gaps that then close at the end.

And really trying to bring emotion into this as well, into something that's seemingly emotionless. We try to put story in there of a lot of positivity and help and community. And it's been really amazing.

So that's been a big part of it as well. Plus, I feel like the general size of the audience for Pokémon, Pokémon is the number one media franchise in the world. It's bigger than LucasArts, it's bigger than, Disney. It's huge. And so the audience size is much bigger and even though the CPMs or the cost per thousand as far as ads is much smaller, because it is a general audience, it's just the reach is much bigger and wider we've been able to enjoy that as well.

So yeah, it's been great and now I have a collection worth nearly a half million dollars at the same time. So it's wild. It's absolutely wild.

Leo 49:31

I am just rocked by this whole thing. This is incredible. I want to respect your time. So I'd like to close here, but, I want to say thank you for all of this. Everything that you shared was just gold. You talked about me being generous, having you on here and sharing you with my audience. I feel like you've been the one who's been generous sharing your wisdom and just hard won knowledge here with us so much great stuff.

I'm going to link to all of the books to your to YouTube channels and podcasts. It's going to be a really long list of links, but but it's all really good stuff. And I just want to say thank you Pat for being on here.

Pat 50:12

I appreciate you. Thank you to the listener for sticking all the way through. I appreciate you as well. And looking forward to connecting again soon, man.

Leo 50:24

If you haven't already, please subscribe to this podcast in your favorite podcast app. If you found this episode useful, please share this podcast with someone you know, who cares deeply. That would be really meaningful to me. And, if you'd like to dive deeper with me into this work, please check out the blog at or get in touch at [email protected].

Thanks for listening. And I hope you'll join me every Wednesday for more episodes of the Zen Habits podcast.

Connect with Leo


Zen Habits

The Fearless Living Academy


Music composition: Salem Beladonna & Robrecht Dumarey

Editor: Justin Cruz

Post-production: Diana C. Guzmán Caro & Amanda Goddard