Welcome to the Join Up Dots business coaching podcast interview with Mr Travis Steffen
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Introducing Travis Steffen
Todays guest, joining us on the Join Up Dots business coaching podcast interview is Mr Travis Steffen.
He is a man who has an amazing talent for finding the optimum way of building productivity into your life.
The go to resource for companies across the world who want to make themselves lean, save cash, and drive their profits ever skywards.
But it hasn’t been plain sailing, as we see time and time again on Join Up Dots, as before becoming an entrepreneur, he continually set personal records at the speed that he would quit jobs.
It was rare that he stuck to anything, and it become apparent to him early that he hated working for other people whom he didn’t truly admire or aspire to learn from.
How The Dots Joined Up For Travis
And that’s when Travis Steffen realized that his options were to either become an entrepreneur or become homeless.
So from his college dormitory he started building business, and the rest as we say is history.
So lets find out what this former college football player and pro fighter, thinks of his younger version when we send him back in time.
And what are his aims as he looks at the legacy he will leave on this world?
Well let’s bring onto the show to start joining up dots, as we discuss the words of Steve Jobs in todays Free podcast, with the one and only Travis Steffen.
During the show we discussed with Travis Steffen such weighty topics as:
How an incident in a parking garage made sure that his life would never be the same again!
How failures will always happen, so try to get them out of the way as quickly as possible!
How it is easier to build success if you build a loyal customer base!
How he has a Bluetooth shower head so he can bring self-development into every area of his life!
How school was so easy for him, even though he didn’t really work too hard at it!
Why he went into the online poker world and how he trained himself for success!
How To Connect With Travis Steffen
Products By Travis Steffen
Return To The Top Of Travis Steffen
If you want our whole collection of shows then jump over to the podcast archives here
Audio Transcription Of Travis SteffenInterview
When we’re young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be. But somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling. Join Up Dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here’s your host live from the back of his garden in the UK, David Ralph.
David Ralph [0:26]
Yes, Hello, good morning to you. Well, I hope you are all rocking and rolling. I am still at the back of my garden. Yes, I’m in the UK. And I’m talking to a man who is what I’m going to tell you what he’s doing later, because he’s just shared it with me and it kind of blew my mind. So I’m gonna have to bring it up in conversation. He’s like a brain blister ready to burst. He is a man who has an amazing talent for finding the optimum way of building productivity into your life. He’s the go to resource for companies across the world. They want to buy themselves lean and save cash and drive their profits ever Skywards. But it hasn’t been plain sailing. And as we see time and time again on Join Up Dots as before becoming an entrepreneur. He continually set personal records at the speed but he would quit jobs. It was rare that he stuck to anything and it became apparent to him early that he hated working for other people whom he didn’t truly admire or aspire to learn from. And I think I feel a connexion here. And that’s when he realised that his options were to either become an entrepreneur or become homeless. So from his college dormitory started building businesses and the rest, as we say is history. So let’s find out what his former college football player and pro fighter thinks will be younger version when we send him back in time. And what resigns as he looks at the legacy he will leave on this world big questions and big answers, which means it’s time to bring onto the show to start joining the dots of his life about one and only Travis Steffen. How are you Travis?
Travis Steffen [1:52]
I’m good. Dave, you make me sound so good, man. Appreciate that warm intro.
David Ralph [1:57]
It’s funny, if you listen to episode one is kind of a Hello, this is Join Up Dots. And now I’m kind of become a bit sort of like American game show. I don’t know why. Because us UK guys aren’t like that, really, but it just comes out of me Travis.
Travis Steffen [2:11]
Well, I mean, honestly, one of my, one of the business partners I’ve had for a long time, as I’m Simon Turner, and he’s actually also from the UK. And he gets pretty amped up every day. So, you know, it really depends,
David Ralph [2:24]
does he say because I’ve started saying this word, and I hate this word. And I’ve started saying it. And nobody in the United Kingdom, as far as I’m aware, says this word, but I say crushing it, and you guys love crushing it, you crush everything, it doesn’t matter what’s in your hand, you’re gonna crush it.
Travis Steffen [2:42]
That’s Well, that’s, uh, that’s the dream. It doesn’t always work out like that. But that’s usually what we try to promote. In, in, you know, in the, I’m sure any, any experienced entrepreneur will tell you that for as many sex successes as they have, they’ve got Oh, so many failures. The trick is to keep those failures very small, and to learn from each and every one of them so that when those successes do happen, they can happen rapidly, and they can happen, you know, with a higher order of magnitude.
David Ralph [3:13]
Because I love that fact about the the towels that I share on a daily basis. Because it is it is failure after failure after failure after failure. But the real successful people don’t really consider them as failures. It’s just stepping stones towards success, where the man in the street, who’s sitting there, trying to do something or trying to grab a dream that he fancies doing, well quite often be fearful of those failures, and not even try. So it is a key point, what you’re saying is a key point. But to actually make momentum in your life, you’ve got to not consider them as failures and just try to fail fast and move on, I suppose.
Travis Steffen [3:52]
Definitely. I mean, and reframing failure in that way is really important. But I think, you know, one of the primary things that I like to teach you entrepreneurs is something that I continue to learn more and more as I move forward, is that I mean, failure will happen to you, and it will happen it the next time it happens, it won’t be the last time it happens if you’re continuing to push the limits of what you think you’re capable of. But the biggest thing that I always tell people, you know, sometimes new entrepreneurs will come to me and they’ll say like, I want to do this, or I want to do that. But I’m really afraid to risk it all myself. Because what if I go broke, and my advice to them is always just go broke. I mean, just do it just go broke, like you’ll you’re smart enough to come back. When that happens. You can read, you can bounce back. And you’ve always got a place to crash with a friend or something like that until you get back on your feet. But you’re smart enough to make it happen. And once you have gone broke one time, and you’ve survived, and you’ve come back strong. It’s something that you really don’t feel here anymore. So you’re a lot more likely to bet the farm on yourself, so to speak. And any investor or any partner will be a lot more comfortable doing business with you. If they know that you’re willing to take a big risk on on yourself before you ask them to.
David Ralph [5:13]
So So is success easier if you have experience? Now, rephrase that. But certainly certain people out there, one of the people that I always quote and I’m sure that you’re aware of him is Mr. Pat Flynn, who’s very big on the online world with the Smart Passive income. And if anybody knows Pat Flynn storey on the online world, it was almost success straight away in and he’s grown and grown and grown and grown it. So is it easier to have that success? First of all, because Ben, ultimately you’ve got that confidence, but it has worked? Or is it easier to have those failures and then build it up slowly?
Travis Steffen [5:49]
Pat Flynn’s case was pretty unique. Well, I wouldn’t say unique, but what I will say is, it really it really does depend on what your message successes and that you choose it strategically based on the purpose of your product and, and the method that you want to grow. For example, if Pat Flynn success metric was financial, rather than based on his listener base, I’m sure that his meteoric rise wouldn’t have been quite so meteoric. And the reason that I say that is because by prioritising his listener base as his success metric, prior to attacking the revenue angle of the Smart Passive Income podcast and the empire that he’s built, as a result, he’s been able to establish more trust with his with his listeners, who then become his customers. And that trust is really going to go a long way, when it comes time to, to actually get out your credit card and put in the numbers and transfer some funds over for a product because they know that he knows what he’s talking about. They hear him every day. And you know, they want him to give up the goods and and give them some more information. So it really is important when talking about success to really, really define what your measure of success is. It’s not always financial, nor should it be. Twitter is an example of this for a lot of people hate on Twitter, still in the publicly traded markets, because they don’t have the same success measures, as, for example, an industrial stock would who is based purely on net profits, Twitter, a primary part of their success metric is user base and influence that they can drive. And the the people who are setting the prices, and I mean, basically the market, you know, they they can inherently recognise this just because of the influence that it drives. So that’s an important kind of reverberation or, or, or thought to keep in mind when really thinking about how quickly people succeed and why. I
David Ralph [7:58]
think that’s absolutely true. And because we myself doing this show my whole definition of have I achieved success isn’t audience speakers. But yes, I do love that. And I love the fact that the audience speakers are getting bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger, because it obviously means that I’m providing good content that I like. But I’ve always when I quit my nine to five job, I vowed, but I would build an income, which is time flexible. And that’s totally it. So if I want to just go off to the movies on a Tuesday afternoon, I can do because I can structure my work to fit around that. And once I get to the point, and at the moment, I’m nowhere near that this, this is taking up my life, big time getting it going. But once I get to that, even if I’ve only got enough money to pay the bills, I would already go Yes, I’m a success, because I can do what I want when I want
Travis Steffen [8:50]
it. Definitely. And I mean, people are going to be wired in different ways. There are a number of my really good friends and entrepreneurship out who was it who have a very similar state of mind to yours were very similar dream, they want to have flexibility, they want to travel, they want to basically call the shots in their own life and not be chained to a desk, nine to five, then you get people who are like me who while that is very attractive. I’m more of just straight up empire building, if you give me some free time, I’m going to find a way to start something new, start a new start a new company or, or, you know, something like that. That’s just, it’s not a sacrifice that I’m making for an end goal. It’s just It’s just what I love to do. So if your success metric is kind of providing a means to allow you to do what you love, at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. Right? Well,
David Ralph [9:49]
yeah, absolutely. And I’m gonna play a little speech about that now. So I’m gonna play the speech because I think it emphasises exactly what you say. And I just love this speech. Anyway. So this is this is Jim Carrey.
Jim Carrey [9:59]
My father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him. And so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant. And when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job. And our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.
David Ralph [10:26]
That’s exactly what you’ve been saying for the last 13 minutes basically, isn’t it?
Travis Steffen [10:31]
Suppose that’s a quicker route to the exact same thing. Yeah. What a great speech by the way, that’s been kind of going viral all over the internet. And I actually listened to that the other day. I’ve got, interestingly enough, my showerhead has Bluetooth, and
David Ralph [10:51]
hang on how to and I’m going to tell the audience what we were saying at the beginning, because I thought you was like the posses man known to man and I was sitting in a chair but massages you and rub your feet. So you can just come back, plunk yourself down. Now. I got married to get that. And no one has that ever happens. So you’re one up on me. And now you’ve got Bluetooth in your shower. How do you not get electrocuted?
Travis Steffen [11:18]
Yeah, well, I mean, honestly, the showerhead itself is a Bluetooth speaker. So I mean, because I’m like you like you mentioned in my intro, I’m a productivity freak show. And and I really relax the most knowing that I’m utilising my time really effectively. So for example, if I’m, if I’m taking a shower, I’m a really strong proponent of multitasking, if the two tasks or the multiple tasks you’re doing, only have one that you have to place cognitive thought into, like, for example, I wouldn’t recommend writing an email and having a call at the same time because you have to think about both but fun doing something mindless like taking a shower or cooking a meal or getting the mail, I want to be doing something that requires my brain to work. So like, every time I I’m taking, you’re doing something like taking a shower, I’m listening to something like a TED talk or like a speech like speech like that with Jim Carrey or a podcast, like Join Up Dots and, and really just trying to learn some things and get inspired and move forward in some capacity. Because progress to me is the most exciting and addictive aspect of life. The massage chair, interestingly enough, was a gift to myself after my last company exit in February of this year, and it was just kind of my little present, here’s something stupid that I can purchase. And then I’m fine. I didn’t really buy anything else. But it was more of just an investment in my stress levels. And I was kind of a proponent of meditation. And rather than just sit there and meditate quietly, sometimes I like to just, you know, go ahead and have my lower background or my feet rub or something like that, well that happens. So or my neck and so I went to Brookstone and I just I invested a little bit my stress levels, and got that massage chair. And it was it’s been it’s been fantastic. I start each day in it. And each day in it, I usually take a break during the centre right, right smack in the middle of the day and and spend some time in it. And it it works. It works like a charm.
David Ralph [13:27]
Did you know i’m i’m, I’ve got this image now of you sharing with me every morning. So we’re there in a kind of soapy warmness. I don’t know if that’s a good image to have.
Unknown Speaker [13:40]
Well, I mean, I try to keep myself in pretty good shape. So hopefully, it’s not as bad as it could be. And you wouldn’t want
David Ralph [13:46]
to see me sir, you really wouldn’t want to see me do and this is quite a base question. But I’m going to ask you anyway. Do you do things like use your phone and stuff on the toilet?
Unknown Speaker [14:00]
You know what, yeah, I do
Unknown Speaker [14:02]
David Ralph [14:03]
this that you don’t have to be productive you already been? you’re producing and producing man.
Unknown Speaker [14:11]
Travis Steffen [14:12]
you know, I take it sometimes as an opportunity to touch base with employees on Skype, not video, just type just I am
David Ralph [14:23]
an email while you have. And it’s not clients, right, where we’re moving off of off of that. But um, no, I i think i think productivity is absolutely marvellous one that one of the things that I realised, and I suddenly became productive was the 8020 principle. I read a book by Richard Koch, I think it was when he just explained the 8020 principle, principle. And I never realised how powerful that was. And I threw a bit of Parkinson’s Law in and bang, I was suddenly doing my work in sort of like a fraction of the time, which kind of led me to my entrepreneurial leap, because I suddenly thought, what a am I spending nine hours in this office? If I can do it in an hour and a half? What was the rest of the time for? Maybe that’s time for me to find myself and I moved on. So when you was sort of in your early days, and you were quitting jobs at the personal record all the time? Was it kind of fat vibe? Why the hell am I doing it? Did you not like the job? Or did you just kind of know that there was something bigger for you?
Travis Steffen [15:25]
Well, it was probably a combination of a few things. Primarily, it was I was not feeling like I was making any sort of a difference to in terms of what I was capable of. I felt like I was smarter than all the people I was working for. I didn’t respect the institution that I was working for, or the job that I was doing. And I just felt that every single day of my life at that point, I was wasting. And I could not wrap my head around. Oh, every single second on the clock was a lifetime. So I didn’t really have a plan, I didn’t have a way a reason for quitting, I just I knew I couldn’t do it, I knew I could not be there. In hindsight, I’m sure if it were someone that I had inherently respected or wanting to be like, I could have spent all day there, you would have had to pull me out of that place. But in in the case of just kind of a nine to five terrifying job that I could care less about. Like if I was when I was in high school, I was applying for a job at a hardware store, as a cashier, or at a furniture store, things like that. I could not make them happen. And my folks made fun of me. And were like, yeah, you’re probably going to be homeless unless you can figure out a way to make money for yourself. And they were kind of joking around. But that’s kind of the initial catalyst, where I was like, all right, well, I’m gonna have to figure out another way. So find it for a while. But
David Ralph [17:02]
But did you have a superpower? back then? Did you have you know, your productivity and your focus on self development and all that kind of stuff? Was there something when you look back at your younger self? Who was trying to find himself? Did you have something you thought, yes, I can fall back on this. And this is really going to help me This is my starting point.
Travis Steffen [17:22]
Well, I think my superpower so to speak, was almost unconscious. I didn’t, I wasn’t very conscious of what I was doing very well, at the time. It wasn’t until years later that I really realised what I was doing and why I was doing it. I really got by very, very easily in school, I didn’t have to do much work at all, I didn’t show up to class a lot. And I got straight A’s just because I was a really good test taker and just kind of was able to learn the material really fast and just all make it made sense. So school is easy, but I didn’t really put much effort into it. Because I wasn’t really excited about what I was learning, it was just what we were told you were supposed to do. And it was a means to be in this social hierarchy, as most people remember, in, in, you know, some of the younger years of school, high school, high school, and even into college, there’s just this social hierarchy of who is at the top and who’s at various rungs along the way right or wrong as as ridiculous as it sounds. Now, now that everyone’s all grown up and more mature. But at the time, unconsciously, my goal was to find a way to get to the top of that, of that ladder. Looking back, it’s silly, but but at the time, I think my my superpower was what Tony Robbins calls case modelling and seeing what six that success look like, recognising that so to speak, success leaves clues, and figuring out a way to become that version that that thing that everyone else thought was so valuable, and so admirable and so successful. And at the time that you know, you might see that as the popular kids, or you might see it as the captain of the football team, or whatever it is. That was eventually what I was able to become through case modelling. I was a nerdy little kid skinny kid, and eventually just learned the way to kind of hack that system, so to speak. And like I said, looking back, it was a really, really stupid goal to have. And you know, I wouldn’t I would definitely purpose that energy elsewhere. If I could do it again. But that has actually served a really a pretty good purpose moving forward in life once I was able to become conscious of exactly what I was doing and why. And what I thought I was getting out of it. If that makes sense.
David Ralph [19:56]
It makes total sense. Yeah. And this is my therapy for me, because a lot of the time I sit here and I mean, I’m silent, where part of me is wanting go up and sort of jump in. Because when I was listening to us talking about that, I was thinking what was my super talent when talent when I was at school, and I think and if you speak to anyone that I’ve worked with, for all my life, I think they will say, yes, this is true. I think it’s nonconformity, I think my I was never trying to be in that peer group at school, I was always trying to create my own peer group. And quite often I was on my own, you know, I only had two or three major stuff, but that was good enough for me. But if I, if everyone was wearing black eyed, were grey, if everybody had short hair, my hair would grow longer. And I don’t know why I had fat. But it’s now while I’m doing this show, I realised that I suppose it was my super talent, it’s that you can become uniquely yourself, and feel comfortable being yourself, and you’re not pretending to be anything else. And I think that’s when your passions align with your true passion. And you start working on something that just feels naturally you.
Travis Steffen [21:04]
I couldn’t agree more. And I think that that’s actually, it’s, it’s interesting to see what develops, in what order in people, and certain things just never do in some, but what you just described is something that I’ve just become a lot more comfortable in, in, in my, in my own life, with just within the last few years of I mean, for example, I, I had a little bit more free time on my hands, the last like six months or so. And rather than starting a new company like I normally would, I took up a hobby, and I actually, you know, started an acting class, and this is something I would never have ever done in my life. Because it was it was kind of not what I identified with in in just, you know how I self identified growing up, and it’s something that I may have kind of just scoffed at because I am admittedly just annoyingly alpha, and I am not guy that wears, you know, leather and bullets and stuff like that. And, and when he says, I’ve got a bullet around my neck, Rambo. I mean, I was absurdly blue, like a from an absurdly blue collar area growing up from the middle of nowhere, in Iowa. And I’ve tried to maintain a lot of that kind of mentality coming out to LA, where it’s so close, you know, stark contrast. And more and more, I kind of just embrace more of that. So just as you know, in an effort to say like, Look, I’m completely okay with with being just a bit different. And this is how I identify now, but also just taking a hobby like that and recognising like I am completely comfortable with being 100%, outside of my comfort zone. And I mean, by definition, maybe that’s not the case, outside your comfort zone isn’t what you’re entirely comfortable with. But that’s purposeful, right? That’s where growth comes from. So that’s, that’s really interesting that you develop that. So early on, it took me so much longer to do so and and some people never hit that point, which is really fascinating.
David Ralph [23:19]
But I don’t think I developed it, I think it was just me because going through corporate land, I was in corporate world for many, many years. And I was still that kid that was at school and the five year old, 10 year old. And where I would always try to be winding somebody up or trying to do something slightly amusing. Or I used to take great fascination, flicking people’s ears or coming up from behind them and just grabbing their ears, I was just that kind of annoying person and stuff. But it was just me, it was just me being me. And 99.9% of the people embrace that. And they enjoyed me being different from the other people in the office, the managers and the senior managers and the directors didn’t. And they used to say you’re a maverick, you’re this you’re bad. Like it was a bad thing. And there was a period of my life, I actually started to think, yes, it was a bad thing. And I’ve got to walk around with, you know, very serious frown looking at spreadsheets and all that kind of stuff. Because I wanted them to think that I was deep. But actually, I’m not really deep at all. I just like to enjoy my life and make people laugh and have a good time, really. And it is it’s only now that I look back on it. And I I will say to everyone, if somebody says that you are something, don’t just think okay, bear, right? Really think, are you because I would now wear that badge of Maverick as a badge of honour, where for a while, I didn’t think it was the case.
Travis Steffen [24:47]
Definitely. And and I mean, don’t just ask, Are you but also ask, do you want to be that because we’re now We’re now entering into the realm of the self fulfilling prophecy theory, which is a primary tenant of the sport psychology and various other forms of psychology. And it really does hold true and all my experiences were. And I’ve actually strategically now started to use the self fulfilling prophecy theory. For example, when I developed my own productivity system, at like, absent of any any traditional business education or any mentors, early on, I developed a system of productivity. And when I started to meet new entrepreneurs, they freaked out about it. And they started labelling me as one of the most productive people they knew. And when I became aware that I was now trying to live up to those standards of that label that they gave me, because I did frame it as a positive thing. I then wanted to reinforce that belief in their minds, purposefully moving forward. And I also then thought to myself, well, what else can I can I plant in their minds, to reinforce in my own mind that I have to live up to that purposely so that I can get more out of myself and put just an inherent pressure to be this person that I want to become and it’s, it’s translated over to health, it’s translated over to starting and selling companies, it’s translated over to a number of different realms. And, and it’s been, you know, a very powerful, you know, thing that that really drives the way that your mind works in the way that you self identify. So it’s, it’s one of those things that works in the background, whether or not you decide to embrace it, but if you can be conscious of it. And you can be strategic about the way that it is used in your own brain, you can really accomplish some pretty cool things.
David Ralph [26:41]
Is it the case, Bo, although it’s hugely powerful to do what you’re doing? If you start listening to what other people want you to do? Do you then become almost a caricature of yourself? Well,
Travis Steffen [26:56]
if you’re maybe in danger of this, if you’re you’re not conscious of the effect that it has on you. But for example, if you’re caught and my, one of my undergraduate degrees was in sports psychology, so I was more conscious of the self fulfilling prophecy theory before many people may have otherwise been. So maybe I had an advantage. But if if, for example, someone labels you as the funny guy in the office, and that’s what you’re becoming known as, wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you agree that there would be some inherent pressure there in your social sit in your social circle to make people laugh more often than it would be on someone else? Now? What if you repurpose this? And said, All right, you know, David is the smartest guy in the office. And David is, you know, he, he does more research and is more prepared than anybody else in the office when he walks into a meeting. And that’s what you became known for. That’s one of those things, that’s that you can start to make purposeful and say, all right, I want to become more known for this, to put more pressure on on myself, because I know that these things, these labels are going to be productive based on the goals that I actually want to achieve. And now you’ve got an external pressure that’s forcing you to become better. So that’s, that’s kind of an example of what I what I mean, yeah, I
David Ralph [28:22]
can see that because we were productivity in an office, it’s a perfect match. I think we’ve humour and grabbing hold of people’s ears and stuff, I don’t think that really is a corporate element is really, I look back on it. And I remember doing a training course. And I was just saying stuff. And I I’d lost the plot, basically. But it’s one training calls. And it became like a stand up comedy show for two hours. And I was just saying stuff to make the audience laugh. And as I was doing it, I was thinking, This is amazing. This is really you notice that they’re killing themselves at this. And there was another part of me going, I’m not touching the content. I should be talking about this, but this is better what I’m talking about. And then there was another part of me that was going, I could get sacked for this. And you know, I really need to stop doing it. And it was just this one training course, which has kind of gone down in legend. And afterwards, I walked out, I thought right now that’s it, I’ve exercised that from me, I’ve got to do what the company wants. Now I realised that that was actually the moment that I should have gone. No, I’m leaving, I realised there’s more than this company’s providing me, this is my moment ago. And I actually probably left it another two years after that. And in that period, my motivation, and my mojo and all those kind of things started diminishing, because I was trying to be what they wanted me to be. Now I’m on the mic. It’s totally the other way and my motivation and everything is going skyward because I can be totally myself, obviously, I’ve got responsibility and I have to be aware of what I’m saying. Because this content will go out across the world and you don’t know who you’re listening to. It’s not like being in a room and you know, the people that you’re talking to, you know, great power comes great responsibility, but I do think but but all the audience out there listening in to ourselves talking what we’re basically saying is be very aware of yourself and very aware of your passions, and your your drive. And if you can focus in on what’s going to keep that passion and that drive going for the longest time. You’re on a good path to what will earn an income I suppose.
Travis Steffen [30:33]
Definitely. Yeah, that’s a great outlook have
David Ralph [30:36]
Travis Steffen , I think I’m getting good at this. I’m starting to sound quite sensible. I’m starting to even believe myself.
Travis Steffen r [30:46]
Well, that’s that’s always a good thing. Right? Always, always a
David Ralph [30:50]
good thing. Always a good thing. So So what was the first business that you actually built? He was in your dormitory, because I, I can’t imagine starting a business. I really come. Some people say to me, oh, what you doing now? You’re building a business. You’re building a podcasting business? And I kind of go I suppose so. But it doesn’t feel like a proper business to me. Did you know that you were building a business? Or was it just something to start doing?
Travis Steffen [31:12]
Well, actually, my first foray into I would say I would say that my first taste of entrepreneurship was not in the traditional sense. It was actually I was a professional online poker player. Interestingly enough, and I’m sure that’s not what most people expected when when they read my LinkedIn, but I got I had a career ending injury as a college football player and was just searching for a way to continue to compete while I couldn’t do so physically. And I discovered online poker and I realised how bad at it I was and and basically what I did then over the next, you know, six months is I studied and studied and studied and started to slowly become better and got better at just mass multitask bling 24 tables at a time over to widescreen monitors, statistics overlay, just really figuring out the mathematics of of online poker I then kind of started not only you know playing myself but but I I also was an instructor at two of the largest online poker training sites in the world at the time, card runners calm and deuces cracked calm. I had my first book published and I was 20 was an online poker book called peak performance poker blending the same, you know, cognitive and physiological psychological benefits that you get as a professional athlete in various ways in sports psychology as repurposed for professional poker. And in you know, I started working with live clients. And you know that we’re online, high stakes, poker players in various aspects of the world on the same print pools. And that was, I would say, my first business without me knowing it was a business, it was just a way to make money and pay the bills, I had rent to pay. And I did not want to get a regular job. There’s no way I could, I tried to work as a bouncer for a little while, I was teaching mixed martial arts at a local gym for a while, which I enjoyed, because I was actually fighting professional at the time, but that doesn’t pay the bills at the lower levels. It’s just a way to stay in shape. So that was that was my job. But legislation starting to get a little bit sketchy. And I cashed out the majority of my bankroll and started my first my first actual company, and that that was actually a clothing line. I saw this show on TV called the top out show. And the tap out show was about a mixed martial arts clothing line. These three goofy looking tattooed guys were driving around in a bus. And they were sponsoring fighters. And basically, it was just about about their lives and the lives of their fighters. And it was just a really fun thing to watch. Because these guys were entrepreneurs, and they looked like me. And they were having a great time. And this is not what I thought that starting a business looked like I thought it was all spreadsheets and accounting and suits and ties and, you know, this kind of thing. Because I didn’t, I didn’t really have exposure to anyone owning or running their own business growing up, even up to that point where I was maybe 21 or 22. I think it was 21 at the time. And I decided in my prime form, I’m going to case model the crap out of these guys. And I basically started almost a tap out clone. And the clothing line was called sin. And we were in operation for about a year and a half. And then I sold the company. It was not a big exit. And it was basically me wanting to get out of the clothing business because I wasn’t really passionate about it. It was just me trying to case model a way that I saw someone that I really respected, make money. And that’s what I wanted. So now it was time to take a step further. Now I had my first foray into business, I knew how to do some things. And it was time to kind of move on to the next the next step. But I always really looked for, you know, at back at those guys. The one that comes to mind always is the the president His name is Dan Caldwell that any mixed martial arts fans may know him as punk ass that’s kind of his his tap out name, nickname, so to speak, just completely covered in tattoos. And this guy basically would watch all these interviews with him and videos, just thinking of myself one day, one day, one day, and I had no connexion to this guy, I did not have any doubt in my mind that one day I would, you know, be great friends with him and be in business with him and, you know, be learning from him every day and becoming that successful. And now fast forward five years, and he’s actually one of my best friends. And we’re business partners. And, you know, he lives maybe 15 minutes away half an hour in Los Angeles. And he, I believe is actually in my I just I think I just heard him walk in. Interestingly enough,
David Ralph [36:17]
it’s astonishing, really, because what you’re saying makes perfect sense in so many ways, but so many of us don’t, you actually studied. And so if you wanted to become a better poker player you studied, if you wanted to be a better at building business, you studied the people who were already in that business so that you could sort of clone them and and work out the things that they’re doing well, and the things that they’re not doing well. And you now put in an element of suppose of visualisation where you’re thinking of this guy. But yes, it’s going to happen. It’s going to happen, it’s going to happen. Now, when you put all those together. And the fact that you have actually moving from was Iowa. Yeah, yeah, it was I went to a place which is kind of renowned for success, you really aren’t keeping yourself a thumb putting on you to actually show what you’re made of.
Travis Steffen [37:07]
Yeah, it was, it was just really one of those scenarios. I mean, the move was was scary. It was really scary. I had never, ever lived outside of Iowa, born and raised there. And I’ve never been to California. Before I moved to Los Angeles, I didn’t have any friends here. But I knew that there were no opportunities for me in Iowa that I really wanted to pursue, that I was excited about. I didn’t respect the fact that I that I lived there because I wanted to, you know, I wanted to live in a place that was just kind of more rich with opportunity, even though it was more expensive. And it would be a tougher life. Starting out, I was gonna I always function best when I’m under pressure. And there’s no better way to put yourself under pressure, then if your choices are to figure out a way to make it work, or starve, you’re going to figure out a way to make it work. Those are your two choices. Bottom line, if I mean, if you’re really if you’re smart, and you’re you know whether or not you know, the path, thankfully, in the in the age of the internet, hop on and look it up. I mean, figure it out, read read articles, do your research, take a course online or something like that, the biggest difference between what I did in school. And what I did after I got done was now all of a sudden, I got to choose what I wanted to learn. And it was a conscious choice that I was making. So I was so motivated to actually make it happen. Because I really was interested in these things. And I was passionate about figuring out a way to make it happen. And the second, I had someone that I did not know, that wasn’t like my mom, buy something from from one of my companies, it was the biggest the most addictive feeling ever, essentially saying like, I just created something with my brain and this person just gave me money for it. This is fascinating. So it was, it was really interesting to see that type of thing evolved little by little.
David Ralph [39:13]
So So do you have to be smart? Or do you have to have the hustle muscle more than anything? If you if you chose? Smart, nice, or the ability to hustle? Which one would you choose?
Travis Steffen [39:26]
Oh, definitely the hustle. Persistence is is going to be a lot more powerful than than just being smart. At the end of the day. There are a lot of smart people that are employees, and they’re fantastic employees. And there are a lot of really dumb people that are founders of huge companies. I know a lot of them to be honest with you. And I mean, not knocking them. But it’s it’s really primary showcase, you know, just an indicator of if you just refuse to quit, because that that old saying is you know, most people who fail just quit too early. Yeah, it’s not I mean business, especially these days where there are so many out of the box tools that do so much of the work for you. It’s not, you know, it’s not rocket science to figure out how to start a profitable company, if you’re just really taking the time and effort to learn and research and plan. You don’t have to have an MBA, I don’t have any sort of business credentials in terms of a traditional education. I learned it all on the fly after college, my master’s degrees in exercise physiology, it has nothing to do with with any of that. I mean, I guess two of the companies I started were in the fitness niche. But you know, the the primary way those companies operated, they could have been selling anything. And it wouldn’t have really mattered. It was just I was interested in that space, because I had a little bit more knowledge about than most people and I had a little bit more credibility than most people did in that space. So it kind of provides just a bit of a shortcut. But yeah, I would, I would definitely choose the hustle 10 times out of 10.
David Ralph [41:12]
But I’m going to bring on now somebody that I think had the hustle muscle big time, but also was very intelligent. This is Steve Jobs. And this is a speech that he made back in 2005, which is kind of the theme of the whole show. So I’m going to play these words, and then I’m going to ask your your opinion on
Steve Jobs [41:28]
them. Of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future, you have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when lead you off the well worn path. And that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [42:05]
On the US words relevant to you.
Travis Steffen [42:08]
Oh, man, it’s I mean, it’s been, it’s been a minute since I’ve heard that speech. But you know, every time I do it is just kind of a reinforcing reminder, to keep pushing forward. It really is inspiring. But yeah, they they’re extremely relevant to me. Because if you would have asked me five years ago, or even three years ago, if I if you know, I would be doing what I’m doing now, I would say Not in a million years. If you’d asked me 10 years ago, if I would be doing what I’m doing now, I there’s I mean, it wouldn’t even entered my mind that this was a possibility. But looking back all the experiences that I had, were so instrumental in creating what now is happening around me. And, and I mean, they always say that some of the best entrepreneurs and you know, and some of the some of the most successful people were former athletes, some of the most successful people were, you know, really, really productivity driven, or they’re really obsessed with progress, and they’re sometimes some of the most imbalanced people. That’s, that’s all, it’s always really fascinating for me to hear that because it does really resonate with who I am and who I’ve become, and, and the evolution of my life today. And it’s still happening, it’s still happening so fast. But now, I don’t necessarily have any preconceived notions on what the future will hold. Whereas I did a lot more growing up, I knew with absolute certainty that I was going to be professional athlete, I knew that I was gonna be professional poker player, or that I was going to run XYZ company, whatever it was. And now it’s, it’s more just in bracing, passion. And if I’m not really enjoying, where you know what I’m working on each day, that’s not what’s getting me out of bed in the morning, anymore, it’s time to sell the company or it’s time to stop working on that and start working on something else. And just to figure it out, and if that costs money, it costs money. But all the experience I’ve had all the experiences I’ve had have definitely been extremely instrumental. There’s there’s no real waste that I can think of now, you know, looking back,
David Ralph [44:33]
do you have a big.in? The Join Up Dots timeline? Is there one that you look back on? And you go, yeah, that really was the moment that Travis became Travis
Travis Steffen [44:44]
out of present. It one of the biggest catalyst moments of my life. This is, you know, maybe a storey that a few people have heard if, if they know me, or they’ve heard me on another interview or something like that, but basically, when I was I was a, I was an athlete. And it was right around the time that I started my first company. But I had, I didn’t really start it. for the right reasons. I started it more just kind of, you know, this is something fun to do you maybe I’ll get laid. I was still in that college mindset. Well, I had just done a triathlon. You know, my, I think my girlfriend and I had just broken up that day, so I wasn’t in a good mental state. And I was walking through a parking garage. And in a man came out of a parking stall was like, Hey, man, you want to give me a hand with something? Yeah, sure, no problem. And this is the middle of the day, and I will on a Sunday. And I walked over to this parking stall, and he was like, I’m gonna need your wallet in your keys. And I look at him like this guy is not serious. This is this is a joke. And he just looked at me and and I just kind of knew that this was the wrong day for this to happen, because I was not in a good state of mind and logic would tell you and please, please after hearing the storey, nobody tried to do what I did in this scenario. Just give the person here case in your wallet and let them go about their business. But I had been training with the UN I wrestling team at the time preparing for a fight in Seattle. And so I was like, Oh my God, this guy picked the wrong day. And so I took my keys out, toss them behind him. And as soon as he kind of started to glance backwards, I shot in and had the most showcase WWE double leg takedown up and slammed him onto the summit. Well, right when I did, I felt this pinch in my upper thigh. And I looked down and there’s a five inch blade sticking out of my sticking out of my my quad. And so I back up this, this knife is still in my leg. And this guy looks at me why died? I don’t think he meant to do it. I think it was the impact. I start screaming at him like a crazy person, he takes off running. And I’m sitting there in this parking stall, looking at this, looking at this knife, knowing being in grad school for exercise physiology, that this is not a good spot. This blade is very close to my femoral artery. And if I pull this out in the arteries punctured I’ve got two minutes. And so I call my buddy who’s upstairs? Like, look, man, I just got stabbed in your parking garage, can you come down here for a second? Because that’s a great response to what just happened? He comes down and thinks I’m messing with him. But he sees this and we call 911. Well, they send one car, they send a cop, because they think it’s a prank call. The cop gets there. It’s like, oh, wow, you got stabbed? Yes, call the ambulance, please. So we go into the hospital. Five hours there, they’re looking at my leg, not wanting to move this knife, they’re doing x rays, they’re doing all sorts of tests. And and, you know, finally I’m in bed given me a bunch of morphine and painkillers and stuff like that, because there’s just blade in my leg, they finally remove it successfully, but not before the nurse basically, let me know she showed me the X ray. And she’s like, we’ve never seen this before this, this knife is actually leaning against your femoral artery. And any twist, any tweak any a millimetre in one direction. And you know, you might you may have died today, you really need to sit back and, and recognise that this is a very special thing that you’re still here and, and that, you know, you should, you should be thankful for that. And it didn’t really hit me until the morphine rate like ward off. But
it was one of the most fundamentally life changing events ever, in my life. And and it was, it was actually really serendipitous. Because the knife was hard. It was a vertical. It was parallel running parallel to most of my muscle fibres. So actually wasn’t a terrible injury, I was actually back jogging within a couple weeks. But I had never been out of the country, I had never really like took advantage of each day, I was still that college kid party and playing video games and, you know, doing my thing and having fun and not really doing much with my time in terms of like what I want to truly accomplished. And if I had died that day, I would not have been satisfied with what with the effort that I had put forward on life. And I just sat there and made a solemn promise to myself that I was never going to waste another second of my life ever again. And I was going to make sure that whenever this happened, like whenever I actually leave this world, whether it’s tomorrow, or whether it’s 100 years from now, I’m going to sit back and really think to myself, yes, I did everything I could, and I have no regrets. And that was I mean, and I’ve lived by that same mantra, every single day, my life since then. And I can’t imagine not living the same way in the future. And that really drove that just inherent obsession with productivity that I have, and the fascination with it. And the wanting to want up myself after each company sale or venture, wanting to do more and more and more and more and more always comes from just trying to continue to push my boundaries and see where those limits are and then and then bust through them. So that I would say is was was and there have been multiple catalyst moments in various ways. But that was the big one.
David Ralph [50:55]
That was the big dot and I are you now somebody that would you say just before I put you on a seminar mind, this is probably my last question. Are you now fearless?
Travis Steffen [51:06]
Well, um, I would say no, I’m definitely not, I’m definitely not fearless. Because I think fear can be very productive. And fear can if if using the right way, and if controlled can be one of the most powerful assets that you have.
For example, if I if I am, if I’m being honest, one of the primary things that drive drives my continued, you know, fascination with fitness. And the reason that I’m that I work out twice a day, pretty much every day is, you know, and I always schedule purposely schedule events, competitions and stuff like that. Because the primary thing that motivates me in that area of my life is the fear of public embarrassment, want to make sure that I’m crushed, like I’m doing the best I can to perform at the best of my ability in that competition, I don’t want to be in last place, I don’t even want to be in second place, I want to be that I want to be the winner, or I want to feel as though I made such significant progress, in comparison to that my last competition that you know, you know, I that I definitely got the most out of my time training for it. So I would say my biggest fear is not utilising. That time that I that I’ve got, if I am sitting around playing video games or something like that, and it’s not for a purposeful decompression, after a busy day, you know, something like that, then I will kind of get twitchy and kind of freak out a little bit because I’m, it’s not something I enjoy, because I’m definitely afraid of, of losing that. That kind of streak that role that I’m on that I really, really enjoy. And, and that drives me every day, I don’t want to lose that part of myself. And I’m afraid that if I allow myself to relax too much, that I’ll kind of sink back into that person that I once was. And so yeah, I would say, without getting too tangential. There are still a lot of fears out there. I mean, will they prevent me from doing scary things like, I’ll walk into the room tomorrow with some of the most smart with the smartest people in the world. And, you know, try to pitch them something and that will not be afraid of anything, I’ll go on the stage naked, definitely won’t be afraid of that. What I will be afraid of though, is not having the guts to do something that I need to do, if that makes sense.
David Ralph [53:47]
makes total sense. Absolutely does. And let’s see what your younger self would think of this. So I’m going to put you back in time now. And I’m going to play the theme to and as it plays, you’re gonna whisk back at eight miles an hour, like a young Marty man flyer, and you’re gonna find the young travellers. And when you walk into the room and you see him, what kind of advice would you give to that young travellers and maybe you wouldn’t even listen, but this is your opportunity. This is the Sermon on the mic.
Go with the best bit of the show.
Travis Steffen [54:34]
Young Travis, let’s see.
First and foremost, I would say that you really should redefine, and shrug off your preconceived notions of what it means to be manly. Don’t look to movies, don’t look to the social hierarchy, don’t look to, you know, the media or anything like that today, find what a man is. But instead, focus on embracing what truly makes you happy each and every day, if you can wake up. And you can make a conscious choice to do something that that just spark some part of your inner most motivational fire that can burn hot and burn long throughout your day. And it’s just something that you cannot wait to start working on or or start start doing it and you can shrug off all the the people who are talking in your ear trying to tell you that this is cool, or this isn’t cool. Or you should do this this way and, and make your own decisions and have the guts to do that, despite what’s going on around you. while still maintaining the ability to learn and move forward. That, to me is is what a man really is. And that’s something that you need to embrace sooner rather than later. Because I wasn’t able to do so for a long time.
You’ll still have a great physique, so don’t worry about that.
But that will be you know, just a hard work type of thing. Hard work pays but but at the end of the day, you have to really be comfortable with with your output. And you’re going to be cheating nobody but yourself. If If you decide to slack off in, you know, one of the realms of your chosen path moving forward. The last thing I would say is, don’t be afraid and actually embrace, stepping completely out of your comfort zone, completely out of the comfort zone of those around you and have your social circle, have confidence in yourself. Have confidence in your ability to figure things out, even if you don’t know how to do it at the time. And and don’t think ever ever in your life that being smart is uncool. Because that’s such a primary ridiculous assertion of of the youth today for whatever reason is that being smart as is not cool. Because it’s there’s nothing cooler. There’s nothing cooler than than being smart and, and working hard and trying your best and being creative. So hopefully you’re able to put that advice to us.
David Ralph [57:41]
I think he should, because I think that was a top advice. And for all of our listeners out there, Travis, who’s been listening to us talk about a wide range of subjects tonight. How can they connect with you?
Travis Steffen [57:53]
Yeah, I mean, you can connect with me on twitter at Travis Stephen to ease and two F’s, you can check out one of my new projects that’s about to launch. It’s called mentor mojo.com. mentor. Mojo is essentially an E learning platform with advice and insight from some of the world’s top entrepreneurs, founders and venture capitalists, basically teaching you how they succeeded and where they failed and where you can learn from them. So definitely check that out. That that’s already you know, we’re already taking pre, you know, pre registrations, and we’ll be releasing the platform shortly. But, you know, other than that, just definitely hit me up on Twitter. That’s where I’m most responsive. I’ve got a Facebook page, I’ve got an Instagram. It’s the same handle as my Twitter, but I’m definitely most active on Twitter.
David Ralph [58:44]
I’ll have all the links on the show notes. So thank you so much, Travis for spending time with us today. Join me on those dots. And please come back again when you have more dots to join up. Because I do believe that if we join those dots and we connect our past is the best way to build our futures. Travis Steffen, thank you so much.
Travis Steffen [59:02]
David doesn’t want you to become a faded version of the brilliant self you are wants to become so he’s put together an amazing guide for you called the eight pieces of advice that every successful entrepreneur practices, including the two that changed his life. Head over to Join Up Dots.com to download this amazing guide for free and we’ll see you tomorrow on Join Up Dots.