Bio: After a near miscarriage by his mom before birth and an action packed entrance into the world, Chandler grew up as a rebellious adventure seeker trapped in a small town.

Chandler was bit by the entrepreneurial bug at an early age when he saw that he could make a lot more money working for himself. While his friends were off searching for jobs, he was out starting businesses.

He began early (age 11) by selling his personal snacks at scout camp and, by age 17 he hired his friends to help him operate his landscaping business that earned him $10,000 for college. All in all, by age 20 he started and ran over $320,000 in businesses.

During this time, he taught other college students how to run their own successful businesses and received the “Entrepreneur of the Year” award from Young Entrepreneurs Across America.

Chandler now speaks to students across the country teaching them the lessons he’s learned as a young entrepreneur and encouraging them to take the entrepreneurial leap.

Show Notes:

Self Publishing School

Mind Map

Rev Transcription

Transcript:

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Zephan: What’s up, everybody? Zephan Blaxberg here again for another episode of the Year of Purpose podcast and today, I have my buddy Chandler Bolt here. Now, Chandler, I actually found through a couple different channels. I’d heard some of his stuff before, I listened to a podcast that featured him, and really cool guy, teaching people awesome skills with making their own books and sharing their own stories. So of course, Chandler, I had to bring you in today to chat with these guys and just kind of talk about writing a book and the importance of doing that to share your story, so thanks for being here. How did you get into all this, originally? What happened for you where you were like “Man, we really gotta write a book.”

Chandler: Yeah, you now, it’s funny. I never really imagined that I’d ever write a book and, to be honest, I was the furthest from an author ever. Because I was a horrible writer. I actually hated writing, I hated reading, and all of that. And so—I kind of stumbled into it, though. I didn’t really enjoy writing. I didn’t think I was that good at it. I always made Cs or Ds on my papers in college and high school, and my friends would churn out a two/three page paper in like a couple hours and it would take me sometimes all night, and I’d just be staring at a blank word doc having no clue what to say. And I’m sure a lot of people can relate to that. It’s like the screen of death staring into that blank word doc.

And so, I finally stumbled into writing my first book, and it wasn’t—it wasn’t a huge book or anything. It was only like twelve/thirteen thousand words. But I put it out there and—me and a friend put it out there, and it kind of took off. It topped David Allen’s Getting Things Done, the number one time management book on all of Amazon, and he lowered his price from nine or ten bucks to three dollars and twenty-nine cents, which was cheaper than our book. And it just started selling. It made close to seven grand in the first month, and it started bringing in two to five a month of passive income, and actually, when I dropped out of school, the book what paying the bills and keeping my head above water.

So it really opened my eyes to what a book can do, both revenue wise, passive income wise, authority—you know, it’s gotten me on podcasts, it’s brought in thousands of leads for my businesses. You know, it’s really opened the door. So that’s kind of how everything started.

Zephan: So you actually dropped out of school. Was that decision partially because you realized that there’s some really good business opportunities here?

Chandler: Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, I’d—I thought about dropping out of school before, but really, it culminated with this. And it wasn’t all because of the book. I actually planned to drop out of school before the book happened, but that definitely affirmed things. And it was like “Okay, this is something I can do” and this—I was gonna drop out with no clue where I was going, just knowing that I was gonna start a business. But this actually lead into that. And I’d already done a couple businesses before that, but this lead into that and I kind of saw “Okay, this is the future and this is—I can really help people and make a lot of money from this.” So that took me on that path.

Zephan: Yeah. So what do you think—you know, we’ve kind of been raised in this society—you and I are probably around the same age, where we were taught to grow up, you go to college, you get a degree, you get a job, and then, you what, you retire and that’s just your life? I’m sure you kind of heard a lot of that, maybe from your family, and that’s kind of the thing I was raised under, as to we just kind of live our life on this set way and you clearly created your own path there, which is awesome. You know, what do you think about how people are growing up now and that idea of you just get a degree and just get a job and just do what everybody thinks you’re supposed to do?

Chandler: Yeah, I think a lot of people are realizing that the whole college degree thing, it’s kind of a fallacy. Like, it really is becoming this thing where a lot of people were going out of state and getting forty, fifty, a hundred grand in debt, and then they have what, a psychology degree that won’t get them a job, right. Not to hate on that degree or anything, but most degrees are the same way. They’re too general and they don’t teach you anything in terms of what you’re actually going for. And it’s great if you want to be a doctor, if you want to be a lawyer, if you want to be certain things that those technical skills and those degrees are necessary, but for a lot of other things, you can achieve it by either going in state, going to a technical school, or maybe not going at all.

I’m glad I went to school for a couple years, but I’m also very glad I dropped out, and part of me wishes I would have done it a little bit earlier. Because I—for me, running a business, it’s—I got tired of learning how to run a business from professors who’d never run a business. That really didn’t make too much sense to me. It’s like “I’m sitting here listening to you on how to run a business and you’ve never done it so why should I trust that, why should I listen to that?” So I wanted to learn by doing, and I wanted to learn from people who are actually doing it, so that’s why I dropped out.

But, yeah, I think people are realizing there’s a little bit of fallacy there, and it worked for some people. For other people, they just realize that there’s a lot more out there to life.

Zephan: Yeah, definitely. It’s kind of like a marketing professor trying to teach marketing, and then you get out in the real world and you’re like “This is nothing like how it worked in school!”

Chandler: Or “This is how it worked, but twenty-five years ago.”

Zephan: Right, back when they wrote the book.

Chandler: Yeah, exactly, or “back when you learned marketing, this is how it worked, but not now.”

Zephan: Yeah, so I think it’s safe to say that the way that our parents were raised is not really the way that we have to live our lives now. It’s totally different. We have a lot more freedom, a lot more choice. Uh, talk a little bit about the things that come along with the book. You know, money is great, but you got a lot of other cool things along the way, right?

Chandler: Yeah, well, I mean there’s obviously the authority, there’s getting on blogs and podcasts and all that. For us, it’s—leads is a big portion. You draw thousands of leads to the book, in sales and other courses and online products and stuff like that. That’s huge. It’s a glorified business card, you know. So it’s like, who would you rather do business with, someone who hands you a business card or someone who hands you a book and autographs it? It’s an inroad to a door or to relationships or to people who you really respect and what to learn from.

And then, deep down, for most people—and this is the case for most of our students, I think—people don’t like to admit it, but deep down it’s your mom is proud of you, your parents are proud of you. Your friends think you’re cool cause you’re a bestselling author—it’s like, these intangibles, it’s like a confidence boost where you see that and you see a book that you’ve done and you think “Wow! For maybe the first time in a long time or ever, I’ve done something that’s had a little bit of success and that’s actually making money. I’ve been trying all these things and they failed, they haven’t worked out, but finally I have something that I can build on.”

And for a lot of people, it’s that foundation. It’s something that they can build on and they can take it on to the next thing, to the next thing—so it’s not so much about the book, it’s what the book opens up for you and it’s a door to a lot more opportunities.

Zephan: So really, it could be a good start for people who don’t really know where they want to go, but have something really interesting to talk about. That could open to the door to businesses and all sorts of things. Podcasts, as you and I both experienced.

I’m sure you get this question a lot, but how hard is it to write a book? You know, for me, like I was that same person in college. I hated writing papers, I hated anything that involved sitting down and writing for a long period of time—and when I say long time, I mean like more than five or ten minutes. [Chandler laughs] So, like, I was in the same boat. So how hard is writing a book?

Chandler: Yeah, you know, your first one’s gonna be, by far, the hardest. I would start by saying that. And I would second it by saying it’s not that hard. You know, it really is—the average book size is about fifteen thousand to twenty-five thousand words, that’s being put out right now, so that’s a good target—not necessarily the average for all books that are put out, but that’s like a good size that sells well online right now online in the Kindle store, and a lot of books that are coming out are in that range. It’s shorter, easier to digest, easy to read.

And also, if—you know, if you get in there and do it, and if you just chip away a little bit at a time, it’s not that difficult. And the good news is that you can even speak your book. So if you’re like me, like you, you know, maybe you’re a better speaker than a writer, then it’s a lot easier for you to organize your thoughts into a mind mapper, into an outline, and then follow that outline and just speak it. So speak into your phone, and then have it transcribed through somebody like rev.com. They’re transcribe for a dollar a minute, it’s a really fast transcription, pretty high quality, and you can get it transcribed and then you have something to work with. You have like an eighty percent written book, and then all you have to do it polish it off or bring in an editor to kind of polish that off.

But if you do a little bit—I think people hear the transcription thing and they thing “Oh, man, just a crappy—just really crappy book,” but if you do some upfront work, like if you mind map, which is basically brain-dump what you’re thinking about, and then use that mind map to structure a little bit of an outline for the whole book, and then if you go back and do that chapter by chapter… So like, spend ten minutes on a mind map, and then ten minutes on an outline, per chapter, and then speak it? That’s gonna be a quality book. And then you can go back and tweak those things, move them around and do that. But a lot of people mess that upfront step and then just start speaking and then it just is all over the place.

So if you have a little bit of guidance and direction, you can actually speak the book pretty easily.

Zephan: Awesome. And so you have something really neat that you provide to people that allows them to do that, right. And we can chat about that a little bit in just a moment. I just wanted to ask you, you know—so, fifteen thousand words, was that right? About fifteen thousand words?

Chandler: Fifteen thousand and twenty-five thousand, in that range.

Zephan: So, do you know, just off the top of your head, does that mean I’m talking for five hours? Does that mean I’m talking for the next two months—what does that kind of come down to?

Chandler: Yeah, so the average person talks about a hundred and fifty words a minute, and so if you average that out, that’s anywhere from about an hour and forty minutes to two hours and forty-seven minutes, if you’re in that range. And personally, I’m pretty sure I talk a lot faster than a hundred and fifty words per minute. I’m probably closer to like one seventy-five or something like that, so, if you’re like me and you talk fast, you can get it done sooner—or quicker than that, I should say, but that’s the range there. An hour and forty minutes to two hours and forty-seven minutes.

And then, you can use interviews, you can use—like for one of my books, I have my 8 Step Intro checklist, and I just talked that out, went through the eight steps—because I’ve done this a few times—so I was actually just driving down the road and had my phone plugged in and I just—just talking and just going through the 8 Step Intro checklist. And then we had that transcribed, we cleaned that up a little bit, and that was the intro. And then we—I had one of my students interview me and ask me questions about the process, and we used that as well as some videos in our course and PDFs and stuff like that. And we used that and I had one of the students kind of go through and really dial that in a little bit, and that’s what we used for the book.

So very simple, it just required a little back end work. And then it’s not really writing, it’s just editing. So you’re—you know, it’s a lot easier to edit when you have something to work with.

Zephan: Exactly. So, theoretically, this could probably be semi-done within about two weeks. Now, realistically, we’re looking at what sort of time range to be able to do that?

Chandler: So for my very first book that I wrote, I and my brother wrote it, and we did it in one week, and that was 225, plus, pages. So it’s—it’s a really book, it’s a good looking book, but that’s what we did for there. And then my second book, we went from book idea to best seller in two and a half months. So that book went—I think it took us sixteen days total to write, and that was spread out over the span of a month. So, you know, basically writing every other day, kind of thing.

So, yeah, that’s a realistic time frame, and our program Self-Publishing School, our goal is to take people from book idea to best seller in three months. We allot about a month or a little over a month for writing. And it’s pretty fast paced, but once you get in there, or once you—not even get in the program. Like once you get into this process, people discover that it’s a lot easier than they think, as long as they have the discipline to keep going.

Because a lot of people, if you don’t have the discipline to keep going, you’ll get—it’s easy to start, but then five, six, seven days—where it’s you’re just far enough that you can’t see the finish line and it’s really far away and not close enough that you’re motivated to finish, you have to get through that one little part, but once you pass the half-way point a little bit and you start seeing the finish line, then it gets so much easier. But that’s the danger zone is that about one-third of the way through the book where that’s where people give up.

Zephan: Gotcha. So, do you ever get people who are like “Oh, man, I really want to write a book!” and then they’re like “I have no clue what I want to write a book about”?

Chandler: Yep. It was surprising when I first—I was like “Wait, you joined the program and you have no idea what book you want to write?” That’s pretty gutsy! Our program’s not cheap, you know, but it actually happens all the time. I think people trust in the process that we have.

So the mind map process I was talking about a while ago, that really helps people. And what I’ve found is that most people will go into that process thinking “I’ve got maybe an idea or may two that I could write five/ten pages tops about and that’s all I got.” And they go into that and they come out of it. And so they do this brain dump and we have them just write your idea in the middle and start writing lines off it. Stories, examples, conversations, everything you can think of.

And people go through that and thirty/forty-five minutes later, they’re like “Whoa, Chandler, I’ve got two to three books I could write and plenty of content to fill both of them. Now I just have to choose which one.” or “Wow, I’ve got so much more about this topic than I thought and now I can see it and it looks way less intimidating, because now I just have to write this then this then this—I can just go down the list!” as opposed to people look at a book and they think “Oh, wow, that’s just some huge, mammoth task that I can never accomplish.”

Zephan: Awesome, so you are making this probably infinitely easier for people to accomplish through the steps and skills that you’re teaching. So I guess people go through it and they’re—they’ve got like three books ready to go sometimes. So what do you—how do you pick and make sure that it’s a topic that people care about?

Chandler: That’s a great question. And then caution I will put out there is whenever people say that, I say “Okay, pick one.” it’s never a good idea to do multiple at a time. We always say “Finish one and then go back.” So get one to the finish line and then go back. Never do multiple—you’ll just not finish both of them, more than likely. And what I always say is you want to pick—there’s kind of like a few criteria. So pick the one that you could—what’s the fastest—what’s the one that you could finish the fastest? That’s the first criteria, okay pick that idea. And then the second thing is which one are you gonna enjoy writing? So which one’s gonna make you happy writing?

And then the third thing is which one are you actually gonna get to the finish line? Not just—not just like, you have a lot of info and you enjoy it, but which one are you most likely to finish? So then that’ll help. But getting—that’s if you have lots of ideas, but then getting over to your question which was how do you determine where or not it’ll sell, there’s several things.

So a lot of people look at a popular niche and they think “There’s too much competition. I can’t put a book in there.” and it’s actually the exact opposite. For me, that’s a greenlight that that’s a good niche, and you just have to carve out your spot. So I’ll give you an example, for our first book, it was time management. Massive niche, you got people like David Allen, Getting Things Done, Brian Tracy, Eat that Frog—you know, there’s a lot of books on that. And so we just carved out our niche, which was productivity and time management for entrepreneurs or for people who create their own schedule. So that’s a niche within a niche, and we—excuse me—we specifically targeted those people and that’s how we were able to carve out our niche inside there.

And then, if all else fails, there’s four main categories that always sell books. One is How to Make More Money. Two is How to Lose Weight or How to Get Fit. Three is How to Be More Productive. And then four is What to Do When You Just Got Dumped or How to Have Better Relationships. So those are kind of like the pillars of those books will always sell.

Zephan: So those are the biggies that you could always go back to if you’re really not sure but have some experience in that arena.

Chandler: Yeah, exactly.

Zephan: Cool deal, and so—I guess writing a book, you know, some people probably spill their guts. They might release stories and things that are fairly close and private to them. Have you ever worked with people where they might be sharing a crazy story that is hard to tell to the public and maybe this is the first time doing so?

Chandler: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. And I think there’s a lot of fear and anxiety attached to that, and when people—just in general, even if they’re not sharing a personal story, in a way, sharing your work or sharing your book is personal. And a lot of people take it personally. And so there’s this big fear of “I’m gonna put this out and people are gonna hate it. They’re gonna slam me with bad reviews. They’re gonna make fun of me.” You know, all these fears that come out there. And the reality of that is that it’s just not the case.

I loved—we have weekly hangouts with our members, we were doing a hangout last night and one of the members, his name’s Mikow and he’s actually in, uh—he’s in New Zealand, and he was talking about his book and he was talking about how he put out to his network and people he knew about him writing a book and his deadline. And he just basically said “If I don’t finish it and put it out by this date, you can kick my you-know-what” and the cool thing is—and I promise this ties back to your question—is that when he put it out there, people started reaching out and he found an editor, he found like all these different things. People wanted to help him.

Because those fears that you’re facing when you’re about to finish and publish your book, everybody faces the same ones. But just by you doing it, people aren’t gonna judge you. They actually are jealous. Like, they see you and they’re like “That guy’s living my dream. He’s doing something I’ve always wanted to do which is write a book, so I’m gonna support him however I can.” Just in Mikow’s instance is, you know, they were like “Hey, I’ll edit your book for free.” “I’ll help”—and I bet you that person who reached out, they probably want to write a book but they’re too scare or they’re not doing it. So what you’ll find it those fears, everybody has them, and just by embracing that and stepping up to the plate and actually getting the courage to put it out there and let people know, a, that you’re doing it, and, b, that you’re gonna publish it, and actually publishing it—people will jump on board and they’ll be much more supportive than you ever imagined.

Zephan: Very cool. So how many book have you done since you started? I know your first one was with your brother, is that right?

Chandler: Yeah, so the first one was with my brother. And I’ve done four total.

Zephan: Wow.

Chandler: So, yeah, a lot. And we got one more in the pipe right now.

Zephan: Very cool. What sort of—can you share the topic for that one yet, or not yet?

Chandler: Yeah, yeah, sure. So this new book, it’s more of one that’s kind of close to my heart which is—it’s kind of along the theme of how to not suck at writing your first book. And it’s a book about how to write your first book for people who hate writing. So, whereas our book Book Launch give you the overview on how to do it, this is more into the—this is gonna be more writing focused, and it’s more for people like me when I started who hate writing and who are really bad at it. So kind of showing people like that that “Hey, this is possible and you can do it and here’s how.” So that’s what we’re diving into. I’m really excited about it.

Cause I want to help those type of people just like me. If you would have come on here and said “Hey, you can write a book,” I would have said “Nah, you’re stupid, I’m not gonna do that.”

Zephan: Man, I would’ve said no way, too. I was that guy in college. I hated papers, I hated writing. But I had stories. I always had stories to tell. One of the things, just you shared with you—so I quit my job and started a video production company. And about two years in, I had this big challenge of like “Is shooting my video my passion because I just love it or is shooting video my passion because I liked that I was really good at it and everybody saw that and what like ‘Hey, you’re so good at this!’”

And so I had this big question of “What really is my passion?” and I was talking to someone one day, and she stopped me and she was like “That was it” and I’m like “What?” You know, out of nowhere, she didn’t say what it was. I was like “That was what??” And she said “That’s your passion. Repeat what you just said.” And it’s storytelling. Video is just the best medium for me to communicate it because I’m really good at it, but I love storytelling. So that’s actually first why I decided to contact you and was like “Hey, I gotta know this guy” because I want to write a book.

So, for everybody listening, this is something that I am looking into both for myself and to share with everyone listening and watching in. because I think it’s a really cool thing to do.

Maybe could you just share with us a bit about how the process works? So like, day one, I get started with you and last day, three months later, my book is launched. Just maybe a few things in between of what I could expect when going through this type of a program?

Chandler: Cool, yeah, so it’s pretty interactive, pretty hands-on, so—you know, the program itself, we have like videos, tutorials, checklists, you know, you name it. And there’s a membership portal where you go at your own pace. But what I think is the most valuable part, and it’s the part that’s missing from a lot of online training programs out there, is the community. It’s a really, live community of people and we help pair people up with accountabilibuddies, that’s what we call them. It’s like accountability partners. And so those people—and we give you a doc, an actual like Google doc that you can use every week to set your goals for the week, and then you have a call with your accountabilibuddy every week. It’s like peer accountability. And then also for the higher level in the program, we have coaches and stuff like that, where you can get on the call with your coach every week.

So that helps hold people accountable, and that’s the real powerful part. Because you can come with your struggles, with your fears, with your screw-ups , with your successes—you know, everybody can come in there and post that and talk to your accountabilibuddy about that.

And then we have the weekly hangout. So every week we get on the hangout and I’m answering peoples questions and we’ll bring on students—like last night, we brought on Mikow and he was able to share his story and how he overcame his fears and how he was writing even when he was sick and when he was on a business trip, and like just how the community was able to pull him through that. And so we’re able to share cool stories like that, answer questions, but that’s kind of the format. We have an easy calendar. It’s set up where you can be successful by spending thirty minutes, an hour tops, a day. And then we can a calendar that’s like, takes you step by step through the process.

Zephan: Nice. And then do you kind of help out with—once I have this edited Word doc, what do I do from here, because obviously, I have to get it onto Amazon, I got to get book covers and stuff.

Chandler: Oh, yeah. It’s A to Z. it’s A to Z, how to write, market, and publish your book. So it’s kind of this step-by-step from idea to bestseller, and everything in-between that you need to do. And we try to kind of—there’s a ton of stuff you could do, but we say, “Hey, don’t listen to all this stuff. Just do this. These are you nuts and bolts.” Kind of your meat and potatoes of what you need to do, and we take people through that.

And then, also, we have like—especially for our higher level—our preferred outsourcer list. So, like, the people that we use to edit, to do our covers, all that. And that alone saves people a ton of money. Because you get vetted people that give good prices that do good work and stuff like that. So that just helps the process. When you’re having to do things on your own, it’s just one more thing, one more excuse, one more reason why you can’t get published. But we try to make that as easy as possible.

Zephan: So, basically, if you’re interested in writing a book, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be doing this, is that right?

Chandler: Absolutely. Maybe I’m biased, but I would say that.

Zephan: And so how can people, you know, get into—check out this program and learn a little bit more about what you do and maybe find your books?

Chandler: Yes, so I would sent them over to self-publishingschoo.com. There, you can find a little—you can get Book Launch for free, or you can check out some training videos, stuff like that. That’s the best place to start. That will give you kind of an overview. Our book, Book Launch, that kinda walks you through the process. So you can check out some of the training videos—free training videos—stuff like that. That’s a great place to start.

Zephan: Sounds good to me. Well I’ll definitely be heading over there as soon as we jump off this call to check that out. Defiantly, everybody listening in, we’ll be posting that link in the show notes for this. So if you’re over on our website at yearofpurpose.com, we’ll be sharing that with everybody so you can go check that out.

Chandler, it’s been awesome to talk to you. Thanks for taking some time out of your day. I’m sorry I missed you when we were back in Vegas last week, but hopefully I’ll run into you can some point in the future.

Chandler: Sounds great. Thanks, Zephan. Thanks for having me, man.

Zephan: Alright, see you soon.


Bio: Maggie Patterson is a communications strategist who works with entrepreneurs and corporations  to help them craft intelligent communications strategies that boost the bottom line. With 15+ years experience, Maggie has worked with big brands and solopreneurs, and has run her own successful communications agency for nearly 10 years. She’s the host of the Marketing Moxie podcast and her work has been featured by Entrepreneur.com, Virgin.com and The Huffington Post.

Show Notes:

The Storytelling Animal Book

How The World Sees You by Sally Hogshead

Story Distillery

MaggiePatterson.com

Transcript:

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Zephan: Zephan Blaxberg here with another episode of the Year of Purpose podcast, and today I have the great pleasure to introduce you to Maggie Patterson. Now Maggie is a communications strategist who works with entrepreneurs in corporations to help them craft intelligent communication strategies that boost the bottom line. With fifteen plus years in experience, Maggie has worked with big brands and solo-preneurs and has run her own successful communications agency for nearly ten years. She’s the host of the Marketing Moxie podcast and her work has been featured by Entrepreneur.com, Virgin.com, and the Huffington post. Maggie, how are you doing today?

Maggie: I’m doing great! How are you doing?

Zephan: I’m doing super great. I’m happy that spring is getting very close. I know we were talking about how the weather’s getting up and down, but I see the sun is out right now and things are definitely getting warmer over here.

Maggie: Yeah, us too. I’m just hoping that this is it and there’s not some big like surprise snowstorm Easter weekend or something.

Zephan: Me too! So I wanted to bring you on the show today because one of the big things that you talk about is the art and science of stories and storytelling. And so, I think that this is a valuable piece of information, a valuable tool for pretty much everybody. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or not, I think that you connect with people on a deeper level if you’re able to tell your story the right way and to get your message across. So how about we just get started with tell me about the art and science of stories and why it’s so important in our everyday life?

Maggie: Here’s the thing. I mean, if we just look at it from a science perspective, I mean, I could probably have a twenty-part podcast series just talking about the science of podcast storytelling. But I think what we really need to know when we’re telling stories is that there’s an actual psychological reason our stories work. And that’s why when we hear a story, we kind of lean in. our body language changes. All of a sudden we’re more engaged. And you know what you’re out and you see two people sitting at the bar and they’re like totally magnetized cause they’re talking to each other? They’re telling stories. They’re not reciting facts.

You know, you look at story telling as this pattern. It’s a pattern that we are conditioned from birth to recognize. We learn numbers, we learn letters, we learn colors, shapes—stories are the exact same thing. You think back to all the years ago before we had verbal communication, we still used stories. You know, cave drawings? So when you actually tell a story, something different happens in the brain. When we talking in facts, two parts of the brain activates. When we talk in stories, and we share stories, multiple parts of the brain get in on the actions. And like you think about somebody’s talking to you about movement, all of a sudden your motor cortex is going. Someone’s talking about something happy, the part of your brain that processes—one of those receptors, I can’t keep them all straight. There’s too many! But something different and magical happens in the brain.

So when you use stories instead of facts and try to appeal to people’s logic, that’s what really gets them. And that’s why when you see really great compelling presentations or videos or TEDx Talks or whatever it is, they’re using a story. Because a story is what makes us human and everyone has something interesting to say even if we don’t think we actually do.

Zephan: So is this why—and this happens to me often times when I hear a story—is this why I can almost see it in my head verses if I’m just watching a power presentation of “first you to this, then you do that” and I’m just staring at the screen like “what is going on…”

Maggie: That’s totally it. And you know what’s really interesting is there’s this entire idea that when you hear a story, you make it a positive association, generally. And then that positive association, what it does is it—it like lodges in our brain. And then it becomes part of our imagination. And then eventually, if it’s been hanging out there long enough, it just becomes part of what we know. So we no longer have any objections to it. It’s like, all of a sudden it’s become factual information we use in our day to day lives. And if you can engage that verses like “53% of people say blah,” it makes a huge difference in how we remember it, how we recalled it, and how we actually connect with the person and associate with them.

Zephan: So you had a great example there of how we can use it with the 53% idea. What are some of the ways that we could take advantage of this, whether it’s meeting a random stranger in a store—cause maybe that talk turns into they become my client somehow—and so how can we kind of leverage this story telling factor to just increase all of our experiences—or at least benefit our experiences with other people?

Maggie: So, you know, in just kind of a day to day, going about your business, it’s gonna depend on your personality. Are you introverted? Are you extroverted? Are you someone who really loves to talk a lot? Are you someone who’s more guarded? But I always say to people there’s two things you can do. Number one is instead of just kind of reciting factual information, find a way to ground it in an experience you had. So like a lot of times, I’m a mom, so I will talk about something my son did. And that’s something very human, very relatable. You know, stepping on a Lego. You’re gonna remember “Oh, Maggie’s the girl who keeps stepping on Legos and she’s having this moments about Legos.”

Or, you know, quirky facts. People remember quirky facts. I’m Canadian, so I make fun a lot of the fact that maple syrup in our house is like a major commodity. I just got two new bottles yesterday! But I mean that—the fact that I love maple syrup, you’re gonna remember that more than “I really like—” You know, “This book was kind of awesome.” No, you’re gonna remember like the quirky different things that people always remember.

You want to make sure that those are real, genuine things. I mean, I really do genuinely love maple syrup. I genuinely love gardening. So those are things I talk about. So just bring through your personality a little bit. You don’t have to be so mechanical and guarded. And even if you work in a corporate position, you’re still allowed to have a personal life and a personality in that position.

Zephan: So the maple story—the maple syrup story is gonna work way better than the 53% story, most of the time. Or probably all the time.

Maggie: Unless you have like a robot person—in which case, you don’t want to hang out with them anyways.

Zephan: Right, right. So, how about his: the people who are great at talking in general—I’m somebody who will randomly say something to somebody in the store. Perfect stranger, I’ll joke about whatever, right. But some people are introverted, like you said. So how do we overcome that fear? Because, obviously, we’re missing out on something by not telling our story or not opening up to other people. What can we do if we are quieter most of the time?

Maggie: So this is something, like, I personally—I’m an INTJ, I get it. I’ve learned to be extroverted by necessity, because I chose a career in communications. So you can’t really be quiet or all those extroverts will take over. But I think—you know, you need to operate where you’re comfortable. So if you’re not someone who’s gonna turn over in Barnes & Noble and start talking to the person next to you, you don’t have to do that. But maybe you’re gonna find opportunities in small conversations, or small networking events, where you can have deeper, more intimate conversations that are gonna serve you better. I know for me, like, I personally—throwing me in a huge room, I’ll just totally shrink back. Whereas, I’m in a group of three or four people, where we can have a genuine dialogue, I know I’m gonna do a lot better. So try to line up opportunities for yourself where you can be successful and you are gonna be more comfortable.

And, you know, the other thing is, too, you have to just remember that it’s a skill, practicing. When I started doing any sort of public speaking, I used to be so nauseous and sweaty—like I almost failed my persuasion class in college because I couldn’t get it together to do my speeches. So, you know, it’s always gonna be an improvement, so just push yourself a little bit more. If you’ve never done something, don’t think you’re gonna be amazing the first time you do it. A lot of practice and building your confidence.

Zephan: Right. Taking small steps here are there. Maybe talking to people when you’re in a smaller group. That’s something that I get too. I can’t really go to a networking group of a hundred, hundred and fifty people and just walk up to a random strangers. Often times, I will actually do that. I’ll find the groups of three or four people that are standing around and I’ll just kind of stand there and look really lost, like a sad puppy, until somebody comes and is like “So what do you do? Who are you? Why are you just standing here watching us?” But it works out really well, so there are ways to take advantage of, you know, being in that big group scenario and opening up to a smaller group within that.

Along with telling a story, sometimes—so growing up, we learned to have a filter, right. Like you don’t just go out in public and say something crazy like “My kid wrote all over the wall today in permanent marker!” Like, you just don’t tell random people that. And perhaps there are other things that we want to tell people that we really shouldn’t. So how do we determine what needs to go into the story and what needs to stay out?

Maggie: So this really comes down to two things. Is listening. You need to really listen before you tell stories, and I think this is where someone who’s a little more on the introverted side has a definite advantage. Because you’re able to say “Oh, okay.” You’re able to take their information, make a better judgment call about information you should be telling a story about, what kind of information you should be sharing. The other thing I thing is, too, is really kind of trust your gut. Like if your gut is going “[gasp] I don’t know if I should say that…” maybe you shouldn’t. You should just really kind of get attuned.

And I see this a lot. I work a lot with online entrepreneurs, and it’s really in style right now to let all your dirty laundry hang out, and I’m like “Oh my gosh! No! I will never do business with you!” because you seem flaky or unreliable. So, you know, be authentic, be vulnerable, but be selective! Like, I don’t talk about like “Oh, on Thursday, I was crying.” Like…no one needs to know that! You don’t want to do business with a crying person, you want to do business with the person who has it together!

Zephan: Exactly. And so—I actually have a really good friend of mine right now who we’re working on actually writing out her story, because I feel like when she has spoken a few times, she leaves out certain details that I think could allow people to care more about it.

This was something that I hit when, uhm—when I was in college, I produced a feature film. This was something that probably my most proud accomplishment while I was in college. And there was this hundred and eighteen page script. It was written by a fraternity brother of mine, true story about his mother passing away. And I read it and I’m like “Wow! This is a really good story! But when I turn this into a movie, I don’t know if people are gonna sit there for two hours and say the same thing…” and we had to go back in a try to figure out how to alter it without embellishing what actually happened so that people cared about it.

So are there certain things within our stories that influence people to care more about what’s going on? Because you we saying a lot of different receptors in our heads fire off. Like for example, if I were to describe to you—I’m a rower. If I really started to describe what it’s like to be rowing in a boat, you’d probably understand this misty spray that comes up off the water and the smell of the harbor, because it’s kind of gross sometimes, and…you know, you could probably sense that in your mind. So how can we encourage people through our stories to see what’s going on for us?

Maggie: It’s—you know, it’s so hard. I think that—here’s the thing. As humans, we’re really, really inherently selfish. So there’s always kind of that little ticker that goes through the back of our head that goes “What’s in it for me?” So—and, you know, it’s a psychological principal of implicit egoism. So if you’re telling stories, you want to—people like people like them. So it comes back to what I was talking a few minutes ago, that common ground. So maybe I haven’t rode, but I used to play field hockey. And hey, maybe there’s a connect—oh hey! We’re gonna talk about the early morning practice!

I can identify with that story in some way, whereas, I think sometimes…the challenge is—if you have a really big story, like…it’s so hard sometimes for people to identify. Like, and I always talk about the rags to riches story, like… “I don’t have a rags to riches story, so I’m not gonna tell my story.” Or, “wow, that’s so outrageous. I can’t even being to understand that.” So I think you need to kind of parse your stories in a way where people can find that common ground with you and you are tapping into that like and like factor so that they can at least start there, before you drop them into the middle of the epic story where they’re like “…I don’t even know—” Like, you know, what you were talking about with your friend. They don’t even know what to do with that and you’ve all of a sudden made them uncomfortable. And when they’re uncomfortable, they start to recoil from you.

Zephan: So let’s not drop them in the eye of the storm just yet. Let’s kind of throw out some of the details and make sure, strategically, that they’re ones that people can start to relate to even if they’ve never been in that experience before, is that right?

Maggie: Yeah. Yeah, I would warm people up. There’s a reason—like in—and you know this from film. There’s a reason you don’t start with a battle in Star Wars with Darth Vader. Like, Luke does not meet Darth Vader in the first scene! You need to warm people up. So kind of think of that story, the angle’s gonna go up til we reach the exciting moment and then we’ll have the climax and the resolution. Don’t just start at the climax, you’re gonna mess people up.

Zephan: Right. It gets them too excited right off the bat, or not even excited because there was no build up, and then the story just crashes and burns, I feel like. So let me ask you this, though, when—you’ve been doing this for quite some time now. Did you ever have a point when your first got started where you were afraid to tell your own story?

Maggie: Oh my gosh, yes! [laughs] Completely! So I’ve been running my own business for almost ten years, but I would say, for the first…probably eight years of the business, probably, I was doing my work and I was successful, but I wasn’t doing it fully as me. And I realize that, at a certain point, I’m like—I think turning forty kinda tipped the scales and I went “I don’t care anymore.” If I’m working with a corporate client and they can’t handle that I’m the kind of person who’s gonna drop an F-bomb in a blog post, I don’t really care anymore. And I think that there’s just—at that point, it’s a matter of being comfortable with what I was doing and being confident in it.

At the same time, though, I was—you know, there’s that little part of me that was being held back. And I think that you kind of need to be able to…sometimes just let it out. Let that freak flag fly. And now I work with clients who totally get me and appreciate me for that. So, you know, the story telling is always gonna be an evolution of getting more comfortable and confident and moving along that spectrum. You probably aren’t gonna watch this and the next day be like “I’m gonna tell you everything!” Story is iterative and always gonna be evolving.

Zephan: I like—you said “let that freak flag fly”? Is that what you said?

Maggie: Yeah. Yeah, let your freak flag fly.

Zephan: That’s—first of all, that’s a tongue twister, but second of all, I think that’s a really cool way to go about thinking about yourself and what you’re sharing with the world. Just let it out. I mean, don’t go telling them all of your deepest, darkest secrets, but like you said, not being afraid if you have to drop an F-bomb in a blog post. If they don’t like it, then—obviously that’s who you are. So you want people who are gonna follow who you are. And I think that’s really important.

Maggie: Yeah, and you know, in my own career, I really feel like when I first started out, I spent so much time—because I looked young and, you know, I was inexperienced—trying to be something I wasn’t because I was in a position of authority and my clients needed to know they were secure. So they got to see this very narrow view of me. And then when I started freelancing, you know, I had to present the picture of the perfect consultant that you could very much—you would pay me this money and it would be very reliable! And now I’m just kind of like “Yeah, I’m here. I’m experienced. Deal with it.” Like…but I mean, that took fifteen years.

Zephan: Yeah, no, it takes a long time. It’s not something where you’re gonna go to sleep tonight and say “Alright, tomorrow, this is how it’s gonna be. Let’s go!” There’s no magic wand, but there’s definitely little steps to take over time to start getting used to it.

So, let’s try this for a second: So I know that quite a few people who listen in right now, I’ve actually gotten to skype with a few of them, some of them are actually about ready to quit their jobs. They want to follow what they really want to do. How could they leverage their story of quitting their job? Because I do this quite often. I used to work at the Apple store in Apple retail, and I often times tell people that, you know, somebody came in one day with a broken phone and they had had it. I mean, they cause a scene in front of like two hundred people, packed store, and I just kind of stood there. Cause this is normal for me, right, but I just had this moment of, you know, “Are you done yet?” and that’s when my decision kind of came in and I was like “Alright. This is it. This is done.” And I tell a lot of people that story because it really…it resonates with them. They understand it. They’ve been at that point in their job where they’re just so done with everything.

So how could we leverage telling the story of, you know, perhaps leaving our job, when we’re fresh as an entrepreneur. You know, we don’t—we can’t go and say we’ve been doing this for ten or fifteen or twenty years because, you know, maybe I just quit my job working for some accounting firm and I’m becoming a photographer, so I have no real world experience. How can I at least make people realize I’m a genuine person and trustworthy person?

Maggie: You know, I think there is something that we—especially if you hang out with other entrepreneurs, you forget how aspirational your job story is. Like, I’m sure when you tell your friends that, that work in normal jobs, they’re always like “[dreamy sigh] I wish I could do what you do…” and I think if you could just use that to your advantage… We start to think it’s so common place. We start to think it’s so normal. It’s not. Not everyone quits their job! Most people don’t! They check the boxes! They follow the rules! So I think if you can demonstrate the connection between why you quit your job, why you do what you do today, and like why you were so called to it.

And like—you know, here’s the thing. Experience, it’s—I think we’re past the point with experience where you have to have this big ten thousand hours. You have people that are sixteen years old that are more insanely talented on YouTube than you can ever imagine, and they don’t have ten thousand hours. So think—if you’re not experienced, it’s factual. It’s not something you need to apologize for, because obviously you’re gonna figure out how to make it work, and you’re gonna gain the experience as you go. And if the only story you have is the “I quit my job,” make it juicy.

Zephan: Make it juicy. That’s awesome. So this can really become almost like our new brand. I could be the unemployed employee in a sense. My brand could be I’m the unemployable employee, maybe. Maybe people can’t employ me. How can we use this in our branding and in our marketing? So maybe in logos or in our taglines or just in who we are on social media, how can we go about using that?

Maggie: That’s a good question. I think—you know here—it’s gonna depend on your audience. It gonna depend on your thing. If you were—for example, if you were doing videography, if you really wanted to go after doing a lot of corporate clients, I would never use the word unemployable. Cause unemployable, with the entrepreneur circles, is like “Yes! I’m unemployable!” but to a corporate client, it’s gonna seem like “Wow, they’re a deadbeat.”

Zephan: Right, cause “I have six hundred employees.”

Maggie: Exactly! They wouldn’t give me—no one would give them a job. So think about the context of who you’re serving. If you’re a wedding photographer, no one cares that you’re unemployable! Maybe you care that this person has so much creative vision and so much passion that they quit their job so they could do this full time and they are wholly dedicated to making sure your wedding photos are the best possible thing ever! So that context for where you’re operating, for my clients, they really like that I’ve had a business a long time and I play that up because they’re like “Whoa, she’s been around this long, she must be good!” So use the context of what your market needs to hear from you and what your audience is really looking for.

Zephan: So we’ve heard a lot about telling our stories, but now I’d be interested in hearing from you. So I’m curious, what do you love the most about what you do and your business?

Massie: Oh, my gosh, I love so many things! I think—you know, here’s the thing. I like—I will never deny the fact that I like I’m the boss. I like the fact that I never have to ask for vacation leave. Like these are things that everyone loves, but I really love them, because I used to always be so scared when I put in my vacation leave. I’d be like “Please don’t say no, I’ve already booked the plane ticket! I got a good deal, I’m going to Europe!” But I think it’s—ultimately, for me, I really love my clients, and how I’m able, with the marketing, with the work we’re doing, to really transform them from point A to point B. when I can see from like, for example, my Story Distillery, which is a one-on-one product—when I can see where they walked in and where they walk out with me, and then the transformation that happens with how they tell their story and what they’re doing in their business, that gets me really, really excited.

When a client emails me and says “I just want to let you know I applied what we did and I’ve had the highest traffic on a blog post I’ve ever had,” that, to me, is rewarding. Because, ultimately, money? Money’s nice, but…money doesn’t keep you warm at night.

Zephan: Very true! So, Story Distillery, what is this?

Maggie: So Story Distillery is essentially—I have distilled many, many years of sitting in boardrooms and on the phone with working with people on their story and I’ve created a four part process where, essentially we look at four different types of stories. Stories that your customers need to hear, and understanding what conversations you’re going to be a part of and where you fit in the market. I think a lot of times, we tend to figure out a story, show up and go “Da-da-dadaa! Here I am!” and it’s like “Noo…” Again, going to that context. Then we look at what’s your personal story, your back story? How do all these pieces get together? The results and credibility you have and really talking about the things you do for your clients, the results you get them.

And the last part, I call “Bold and Brazen” where we really talk about things within your industry. Whether you’re a chef or a wedding photographer, or coach, what are things within your industry that you feel strongly need to change, that you want to stand up for, that you want really—you feel passionate—I hate—I really don’t like that word passionate. Cause I—passion is so overused, but the things that you feel most called to be talking about. so we go through that entire process as a one-on-one service, and by the end, they come out and they have like a really good, strong game plan for how to actually use stores in there business.

Zephan: And, how long is that process from start to finish? At least, until you can provide them with the “Here’s your what you need to do.”

Maggie: Start to finish, Story Distillery is about two weeks. So pre-work, call, Maggie goes away, lives, breathes, eats your story, and at the end, here’s your handbooks and you’re ready. Rock and roll.

Zephan: Very cool. Well, I think I actually have a couple people to talk to you later about, because I know some people who would probably be interested in that. So, you know, you’ve got—you love your clients. You love what you’re doing. –What’s that?

Maggie: I do. I really, really do. I’m not just saying it.

Zephan: So, what do you love about your life outside of work? Because there’s an important balance to make sure you’re taking care of your business, but you’re also taking care of yourself.

Maggie: Wow—first and foremost, I mean, I’m a mom. So I love my little ten year old! And my husband. Like, you know, my family is the reason I quit my job, and the reason I actually took—jumped out of the plane like I did and never went back to work after my maternity leave. So really, that’s what drives me. I love traveling. We’re huge, huge travelers. I love my garden. I love books. I love Netflix. I love wine. I love maple syrup. That’s about it.

Zephan: Well that’s why you’re a distiller. You love wine and you love maple syrup!

Maggie: Yep! Yep, pretty much, that’s where that theme kind of got picked up.

Zephan: So, in sharing your story with the world, in sharing others’ stories with the world, I have to imagine that your quality of life has changed since you started this journey. Because you’re learning a lot about a ton of other people. You’re learning a lot about yourself. Maybe talk just a little bit about your quality of life and where you were, let’s say, ten years ago compare to now?

Maggie: Oh, my gosh, ten years ago, my quality of life was horrible. Because I had a child—a very small child. I was very sleep deprived. But I think in terms of my quality of life, like…you know, I don’t really believe in work/life balance, I believe more in a harmony. I think starting out in my business and being a mom of a really small child, like I just had nothing left in me. And the difference now is I’m working with clients that energize me, that I genuinely like as people. That makes it—there’s just so much more personal gratification that goes on. And then I can see like how what I’m doing impacts my son’s view on the world and like, just, you know, yesterday I took the day off because I wanted to hang out with him. So those little tiny things all add up to a much better, happier, healthier approach to life.

Like, my friends who haven’t seen me for a while, since I started making changes through my business, they’re like “You’re different… You’re like more sparkly or something.”

Zephan: They’re probably jealous!

Maggie: Yeah, they were jealous of me before, but now they’re really jealous because not only am I self-employed and thriving, I’m also really insanely happy. It’s kind of gross to them, I think, and annoying.

Zephan: There’s nothing wrong with being insanely happy though.

Maggie: Yeah. I am insanely happy. It’s a little worrisome at times, I’m sure, for some people.

Zephan: Do you have any books, or maybe any mentors that you recommend listening to that have perhaps just helped you learn some things, whether it’s about yourself or in helping your clients?

Maggie: I actually have it right here. This book here—

Zephan: Oh, my gosh! That’s literally in front of me right now! That’s is—wow!

Maggie: So this, two years ago when I decided to change my business, I took the how to fascinate test. It change my perspective on myself, so much. Because—and when I shared this with people, like my actual test results, they were like “It is so you!” So instead of being all these things, I know now innovation is a driving force for me. And I’ve gone so—I’m so—the reason I have this on my desk right now is I actually just did certification with Sally and her team because I believe so much in this process. And I use it with my clients. I think there’s something really powerful about learning how the world sees you, verses how you are internally. How the world sees you is very different than what’s going on up here.

So I really think this is a fundamental books that everyone needs to read. So that’s How the World Sees You by Sally Hogshead, and take the fascination test. It’s like thirty-seven dollars—I’m not selling anything here. I’m not giving an affiliate link. I just think it’s really, really important to get an outside perspective and kind of rejig what you might be thinking.

Zephan: It’s really cool that you have that on your desk. Because, ironically, that is the book that I’m using to hold up the tripod for my camera right now. [Maggie laughing.] And the reason why it is the book I’m using to hold up for my tripod for my camera is because it is a constant reminder that it is my next book on my list to read after I finish the current one that I’m on. So I’m actually diving into that one next. It’s really cool to see that that’s been an important thing for both you and your clients because I’ll be jumping into that very soon here.

So for everyone watching, the name of that book, I will actually write it into our show notes on our website with a link to Amazon for you, right on our site as www.yearofpurpose.com. A lot of people listen in both on iTunes, Stitcher, YouTube—this kind of goes out into a bunch of different places. So, if you guys are listening right now, definitely check out the website because I will be posting a link to that.

Uhm—it has been awesome talking to you, Maggie. What are some of the ways for people to get in touch with you if they want to check out your distillery program or anything else that you do?

Maggie: Uhm, probably the best place is always my digital home, which is maggiepatterson.com, and that’s Patterson with two T’s. And you will find me on Twitter tweeting, you know, sharing my life in a hundred and forty characters or less.

Zephan: Good deal. Well, thanks so much for being here today. I hope that the weather is getting warmer by you guys very soon, and I would love to chat with you more—maybe next time on the Year of Purpose podcast. Thanks for being here.


Bio:

Stephen Robinson is a lover of life, adventure seeker and is all about the power of taking vision to reality. For the past three years Stephen has begun his entrepreneurial journey through running a business that grossed over half a million dollars in two years, starting multiple fundraisers and now is moving onto his latest venture 52skillz. With 52skillz, Stephen hopes to inspire individuals of all ages to go out and push their comfort zones, learn new things and grasp every opportunity they have to live an incredible life.

Show Notes:

52Skillz.com

How To Burning Man

Contact Stephen

How To Build A Synthesizer

How To Build An Electric Scooter

UNDERCITY Documentary

How To Explore Your City

Instructables.com

4 Hour Work Week Book

Transcript:

Show +

Zephan: You know, I want to jump into 52 Skills in just a couple of minutes here, but real quick, if you just give people a little summary about kind of where you’ve been before that and what steps lead up to creating 52 Skills? So you know, what were you doing for work and for fun?

Stephen: Yeah, no, like I, uhm—work and fun, I don’t know. But—that’s a big question, but as far as work goes, back in my high school and junior high days, I used to work on a bee farm, and for a little bit of my university career I was a beekeeper, which I think is kinda cool. But it’s a ton of work. Like sixty, seventy hour weeks, and I was getting paid like fourteen dollars an hour. Just the worst. And I was work for these other guys and they were pretty cool but it kinda—I thought there’d be something more. And I ran into this group of entrepreneurs on campus, and I was like “There are my people.” And it was pretty cool. So I ended up starting a contracting company. Very simple, nothing sexy about it. But through running the contracting company, I was able to pay for my university and then now I’m using that money to fund a couple startups as well as 52 Skills. So that’s kind of the long and the short of it, but, uh—yeah, that’s kind of where I came from.

Zephan: Nice. So, where did the motivation ultimately, for 52 Skills, come from? And if you could explain to everybody what it actually is?

Stephen: Yeah, so—so, first, 52 Skills is a kind of vlog where I learn a new skill every week of the year, and then make a video about it, and write out my learning, and try and give people the steps and resources to go do that themselves. And the motivation for it—that’s a really good question cause sometimes I’m not really sure why I’m doing it, but a huge thing for me is every week, I set weekly goals, and I try and hit them. So I’ll be like “Okay, so this week, I gotta get this, this, this, this, and this done.” I’ve been doing that for the past three years, and I thought “Well I should try and apply that to a blog” and…so that’s kind of how 52 Skills came about, that’s where the weekly skill came out of, so it kind of holds me accountable to doing really cool stuff every week. But really it was just like “Okay, I want to have an awesome year, I want to do something cool, and I want to try and inspire people.” And then just from a series of events, 52 Skills was born.

Zephan: That’s awesome. So what sort of stuff have you learned—I think you’re almost halfway through, or just about halfway through?

Stephen: Almost, which is just crazy to me. It feels—it feels like sad almost. It’s like almost halfway.

Zephan: Well the good news is there’s so many different things out there to learn that it’s like, you know, you could keep it going after the 52 Weeks is done. What’d you start with? What was your first one?

Stephen: My first one was How to Burning Man.

Zephan: Nice.

Stephen: Yeah. So it was really a skill, per se, but it was really cool. It was a cool video. A good thing to kind of get—jump into and catch people’s interest. And it’s basically just a video of me like running around and having fun.

Zephan: That’s awesome.

Stephen: Yeah, which is like half of my videos anyways, but…

Zephan: So why do you think that it’s important to set goals—you know, maybe weekly, instead of throughout the year. Because a lot of us, we get up at the beginning of the year and we’re like “Oh, I’m gonna set this New Year’s resolution of losing this weight” and then it never really happens.

Stephen: Yeah, I think—I think New Year’s resolutions are the biggest load of s*** in the entire world. It’s like, okay, once a year we’re gonna set a massive goal. And it’s just…that’s the dumbest thing in the world to me. I think if—the reason it’s super, super important to set goals every single week is because then you’re breaking them down. You’re taking something huge and turning into smaller tasks, so they a lot more manageable like that. So if I was to tell you “Hey I’m gonna make a blog and I’m gonna make all these videos and they’re probably gonna be in total like a thousand or so minutes of video and it’s gonna be me learning fifty-two skills,” it would sound super, super intimidating. When I’m like “Okay this week I’m gonna learn how to play acoustic guitar” or whatever, and then I break that down into even smaller chunks every single day. And it’s a lot more satisfying when you just kind of work towards it. Where you can check things off the list. As opposed to taking two weeks to check something of the list, it’s like every couple of hours “okay, boom, I did this. Boom, I got this done,” and it’s just…I think it’s kind of just basic human psychology to just work towards things like that. So that’s why I think it’s super important and why New Year’s resolutions are just total bulls***.

Zephan: And you said something important there, being satisfied, because obviously being a beekeeper was not something that was very satisfying for you, nor was when I was in my fulltime job in corporate retail. It just wasn’t satisfying. How important is it to feel fulfilled and how do you kind of define being fulfilled?

Stephen: Yeah, well I think that’s an interesting question because I think it is very important, but I think a lot of people—at least in our generation, our age—they go towards things and they’re like “Oh my god, no matter what, this has to fulfill me. I need this. I need this to fulfill me. If it doesn’t fulfill me then there’s no purpose to it.” But I think to an extent, you gotta go through some really shitty experiences. You gotta like push yourself. You gotta do stuff that you don’t like and then that—that’s when you get to the good stuff, right. So for me, running the contracting company, I didn’t enjoy the entire experience, but I gained some incredible skills, I learned how to grind, and there’s some nugget of awesomeness that I experienced throughout that.

So…for me, yeah, I think experiencing that pain and doing something that didn’t fulfill me for a couple years but was extremely learning based was very powerful and kind of accelerated me towards where I want to be. It was a great moment, and now 52 Skills is fulfilling me in so many different ways that it’s pretty great. So I think—I think being fulfilled in what you do long-term is important, but if you want to get into kind of an entrepreneurial world, I think a lot of people—they’ll just need to struggle, and it’s just gonna hurt. It’s gonna hurt probably for the first like year or so, if you’re really pushing yourself. So yeah, I think fulfillment is super, super important, but I think a lot of people can get stuck in that and be like “I need to fulfill myself!” when it’s like, no, you just need to work really, really hard. You need to sacrifice, and then you’ll get fulfillment.

Zephan: Yeah, a lot of us kind of get up here and when we reach that point of success, to everyone else, it looks like it was really easy, right, like it almost seems like it was something that happened overnight. And it really isn’t. I mean, it’s a lot of long nights. Just to get this podcast off the ground, I think I had like a month of just sleepless nights and working on it. And you gotta be ready to take any challenge that comes up for you. What sort of challenges did you have, whether it was with the beekeeping or with the contracting company—what was your biggest challenge, just in daily life or even in the business?

Stephen: So…I mean, beekeeping, the challenges were just more physical. I mean, we were just lifting s*** for ten hours every single day. So that was okay, physical challenges you can get over pretty easy. For the contracting company, it was—it was more just the stresses of, uhm, keeping people employed, customers yelling at you, keeping your customers satisfied. Like at any moment you could have two angry customers. Like if you have ten projects on the go, you have two angry customers, your employees all of a sudden quitting, and then you’re gonna run out of work next week so you’re trying to book more work and—just like the culmination of all of these stresses happen at the same time. It just kind of turns you into a person who has—your threshold for feeling stressed in certain situations all of a sudden goes up here. Which is a really good skill to have, cause you can stay calm in situations that you used to get stressed out in. but yeah, I would say some of the hardest times with that was just like a culmination of problems where—where like normally that problem on its own would’ve been difficult to deal with, but when you have five of those problems happening at the same times and you’re like “Eeeuueghahhhh” but then you solve it. And then now, I get to look back, and yeah it sucked, but I’m really glad I experienced it because…now, through that experience, I was able to become a much more well-rounded person.

Zephan: Yeah, I mean, I think all of us get to those points in time where we’re just so done with everything. And it’s really a matter of how you react to it. Did you ever have a point in time where maybe you kinda just sat down with yourself and you’re just like “I don’t know if I can do this”? Do you ever question, like—sometimes it’s gotta get overwhelming to the point where you’re just not sure if that’s like what you should be doing or if you can continue doing it. Has that ever come up for you?

Stephen: Oh yeah. I mean, not with 52 Skills yet, because 52 Skills is a very satisfying thing. There’s a lot of support with it. It’s a lot of fun. Like it’d be nice for more money to be coming through with 52 Skills, that’s the part—it’s like, usually the beautiful things when you can find a balance between the two, right, where it’s like fulfillment and money. Cause lots of times it’s one or the other. But with the contracting company—oh man, it was like every day I would be like “What am I doing?!” like “Ugghhh.” So then I would look back and I would review. I’d be like “Okay, so I want to live this kind of life. I want to come out of school without debt. I want to—”…yeah, “I want to gain these skills.” I just like—sometimes I would just write notes and letters to myself. Like “Stephen, you can do it! You’re awesome! Quit being so hard on yourself!” and I would just kind of get up and just go drive and talk to the angry customer and stuff.

Zephan: So you got to use it, though, as like a means to fund the thing you really wanted to do, right. So it’s like you get to suck it up for a year or two, knowing you can do something really amazing at the end of the rainbow.

Stephen: Yeah! And like, don’t get me wrong, running that company, there was a lot of good points. Like there are a lot of highlights in it, but, yeah, I’m just focusing on the painful stuff just to kind of highlight the fact that, yeah, you need to go through some really hard stuff. But when you get out of it, like, your skills as a person just skyrocket. If you want to—like I use to be really scared about talking to girls, and now approaching women is no problem for me because I had to approach so many people running this company.

Or even with 52 Skills, being able to ask people to teach me how to do a skill, and just like the networking and kind of the sales aspect of it. I mean, sales with 52 Skills is not that hard. It’s like “Hey, I wanna make you look really cool” and they’re like “Okay.” It’s like the easiest sale ever. But yeah, so—I don’t know. It’s—it’s really interesting. Cause when you ask about the fulfillment thing, that really on the head, because, yeah, fulfillment is important but going through some really hard s*** is just as important, if not more important than fulfillment. Especially early on in life.

Zephan: Right, right. We’ve got to go through the tough stuff to get to the really good things. It’s, um—there’s some saying, it’s something like “I live my life the way that most people won’t so that I can live my life for—” It’s “I live my life for a few years the way that most people won’t so that I can live my life the way that most people can’t” or something like that.

Stephen: Yeah. Totally. That’s exactly it.

Zephan: Well awesome, I’m really excited to see the rest of 52 Skills. What—tell me a little bit about the other things that you’ve learned while you’ve been doing it and what sort of challenges have some up just with learning each skill?

Stephen: I’ve found, one, that I hate editing, but—like seriously, that’s just the one thing where it’s like “UGH” every week. I gotta spend like eight to ten hours editing. I’m like “Gaaaah, this is the worst!” but—and people, they love sharing what they’re good at. So if—yeah, people love sharing what they’re good at. Three, learning new things is actually not that hard. Typically, depending on the skill, like 90% of the time, learning this skill, like the basics of the skill, takes the least amount of time, for me, every single week in regards to the blog. Most of it is like promoting, editing, creating the thumbnails, writing up the post, polishing everything—that’s probably like 70% of my time and then 30% of it goes to setting up and learning the skill. So for people who don’t have to make videos and stuff, it’s actually not that hard to go out and live a pretty incredible life. And I don’t know if I’m getting that across well enough with the blog, but that’s kind of the—that’s kind of the whole point.

Zephan: So, through learning all these skills, I’d imagine that a lot of transformation is happening, you know, in the brain with your way of thinking and with your attitude. What have you seen as a change, both in yourself and then what do you know as far as what it does to your mind when you’re learning new things?

Stephen: Yeah, no, it’s really cool. It’s kind of really fundamental psychology that you get more excited when you’re doing new things. so for example, when you got to a new place, like you’re traveling, you’re a lot more excited than if you’re just kind of staying in your own house, right, because things are new, things are interesting. You have new things to look at, so your brain is just like way more active and way more excited. So with that, like with me learning new skills every week and my constantly just learning new stuff, it’s very hard for me not to be constantly stoked. Like I’m just always super, super stoked—unless I’m editing—

Zephan: And then it’s just like “I want to throw this thing against the wall.”

Stephen: But yeah, it’s really, really cool I get to—yeah, I get to learn new things every week, and then my brain is like “Oh, sweet, this is awesome! This is new stuff!” and just like dopamine everywhere and it’s—yeah, it’s like a new high for me every week without using drugs. So—yeah, I think for people who are kind of having like—even like a down day or tough time, just going out and learning something new can just kind of boost up your week and get you going again. It’s pretty incredible what it can do.

Zephan: So, I’d imagine that it’s pretty simple to learn something, like anyone can go to YouTube or to your blog and check out, you know, 52 Skills and learn something. What’s your process for learning some of these things? Cause some of them, you probably had to get people to show you along the way, and haven’t just been all online. So what do you do to learn all these different things?

Stephen: Yeah, so, I’d say that probably 70% of them, I do find someone to teach me, and if you’re learning a new skill, that’s the best way to do it. Because online can only show you show much. Especially in person and all that sort of stuff, if you’re doing something wrong, or whatever, then—yeah, that’s not gonna fly. Like for example, me doing a barrel roll in a plane, there’s no way I’m gonna learn how to do that on the internet and then go like fly a plane. So there’s just certain things that you gotta—you gotta work your network for, and if I say network and the person is like “I don’t have a network!” it’s like bulls***. If you have Facebook, you have a network. So yeah, just reaching out to people and being like “Hey, I hear that you play guitar. Could we spend a couple hours messing around with guitar and learning a song?” One of the—one of the skill coming up in a new weeks is How to Convince People That you’re Good at an Instrument. So, basically, it’s just about you just learn one song on that instrument really well and you just play that for people. Like I did that in high school. I learned one song on piano really well, and a bunch of people thought I was really good at piano. But I just knew how to play that song—that one song so…

Zephan: That’s awesome.

Stephen: Yeah, first like what I would do if you want to go learn a skill is just try and find other people who can teach you that skill. And what that’s gonna do is it’s gonna create like a social sort of bond. So when you reach out to them, you’re actually gonna hopefully follow through. It makes you more likely to follow through when you’re making those social bonds with people. And as well it’s gonna be a lot easier for you to learn it. So, even for example, I built a synthesizer a couple weeks ago, that was one of the skills. And I probably spent like eight hours trying to figure it out on my own, and I just couldn’t do it. So I reached out to a couple electrical engineers I know. And like two hours later, it was working.

Zephan: That’s awesome.

Stephen: Yeah, so—and you learn a lot too. Like it—like you can learn a lot through struggling on your own, which I think is really, really important, but also it’s super, super important just to ask for help. Is a huge thing. And then if you’re the kind of guy who likes to build things, instructables.com is just an incredible website. It is—it’s so much fun. Like I could just build stuff on Instructables all day. That’s where the electric scooter—that’s my most popular video—where it’s like How to Build an Electric Scooter with a Drill. Zip tie a drill, basically, to the back wheel, and then you tie a piece of string around the trigger and you pull the string and then the friction between the drill head and the wheel spins the wheel.

Zephan: That’s really cool.

Stephen: Yeah, so super cool website, so even that, if you like building stuff, that’s a really cool website to go on. But yeah, really, if you want to learn, for example, to ride a unicycle, it’s like, okay so post on Facebook. “Hey I want to learn how to ride a motorcycle! Do you guys know anyone?” and I guarantee that 90% of the time, someone’s gonna either be like “No—” obviously, “No, but I know someone” or “Yes, I can teach you” or “No, but that’s an awesome idea, you should go to it.” You’re either gonna get support or someone is gonna reach out to you or someone that has a friend will probably reach out to you. That’s been my experience.

Zephan: And it sounds like a lot of these things haven’t really taken a ton of effort on your part, like more than a day, because I’m sure a lot of people are like “How am I gonna learn about whatever, it’s gonna take me forever.” Cause some people go to school for, like you said, electronics engineering for years and it takes them that long to learn it, but I mean, two hours and you had a synthesizer going. It also sounds a lot like we don’t haven’t do all be entrepreneurs to be doing this. You can be stuck in your job or wherever you are in life, take on a couple, new skills, and perhaps that’ll lead you to finding your purpose or finding the next place to go to or the next leaping step.

Stephen: Oh, yeah. And like the cool thing with this is I’m dipping my hands into so many different things that—I mean, I’ll be very surprised—if I was the kind of guy who wanted to have a job or whatever, I’ve discovered so many passions of mine this year that it’s been—it’s actually hard. Cause I’m like “Oh, I wanna do this! Now I want to do this! I want to do this!” So if there’s someone who’s like…you’re struggling to find passion…I would love to create 52 Skills into like a program where people go do—like actually do fifty-two skills in a year. Or maybe twelve in three months or something like that.

Zephan: That would be really cool.

Stephen: That would be really, really cool.

Zephan: Yeah, I like that a lot. I would totally do that. I would love to do something new every week.

Stephen: Yeah, and I think the cool thing is it can unlock passions in people that they never realized that they had, right. So you could find a career through it or you could just find a really new, cool hobby. And, to be totally honest, girls friggin’ love it. So if anything else—and if a girl’s doing it, I’m sure guys would love it too. So, yeah, it’s like a no-lose situation, really. Except for editing.

Zephan: Except for editing. So if you’re looking to learn a new skill, maybe not video editing! But it’s really cool that you might find a new passion, because a lot of times, I talk about how we don’t ask the right questions, you know. If we’re sitting there trying to ask ourselves what is our purpose? What are we supposed to do? That might not be the right thing. Like really, we have to go out and try a new skill and ask ourselves what do we like about this, what didn’t we like about this, and what can we change for next time. So I have to ask you—there’s gotta be some skill that you haven’t learned yet that you really want to do. Like there’s gotta be some big crazy dream of yours. I’m curious to know what that is.

Stephen: Yeah. Well, I have a friend. He went to Indonesia last year, and he had a pet monkey. So it’s like—I want—I really, really, really want to have a pet monkey and teach him how to do something. And the cool thing with it actually is that you go there. You can buy the monkey and you can give it to a monkey sanctuary afterwards, so it’s actually like really humane. Cause like you’re giving the monkey to a monkey sanctuary where it’s like living a better life than it did from those other guys. But yeah, I just—like How to Own a Monkey. Like who doesn’t wanna—? That’s like my dream as a kid.

Zephan: I think that when you’re done your next six months of 52 Skills, you need to go get a monkey and teach HIM fifty-two skills before you donate him to the sanctuary. And that should be your like full next year of your YouTube channel. Just be like “Every week, I’m gonna teach my monkey a new skill!”

Stephen: Just turns into like the most badass monkey in the world.

Zephan: Yeah! Why not?

Stephen: He’s like typing. I can teach him how to edit for me!

Zephan: There you go! You could get the video editing taken care of.

Stephen: That makes sense!

Zephan: So, needless to say, you’ve done a lot of really cool stuff. You have a lot of cool things in the works. You know, we make a lot of decisions in life, right. Like you had to make a choice to start this 52 Skills and to learn something new every week, and I’d imagine that, you know, if you’re in a funk like some people are who are listening or watching this, that’s huge for you. Getting to that transformational point and taking that big risk. What happens in your mind when you’re looking at taking on a new challenge? What are you thinking about, what are you afraid of, and how are you kind of moving past that and just like pulling the trigger on it?

Stephen: Yeah. I mean, I guess to fundamentally break it down for me—if I look at something that’s gonna be really, really difficult, first I decide if it’s gonna be helpful to me, or is it gonna be helpful to others. And that’s kind of like the first deciding factor. “Okay, is this actually gonna be helpful?” and if it is, then I’ll be like “Okay” and I won’t look at it as like this big massive challenge, but like—as we were talking before, it’s like how do I break it down into just like little, manageable bite size chunks where you can just go [bite noises], right, and all of a sudden it’s like you’ve eaten a massive cookie when really just ate little cookies, right. I don’t know if that’s a great analogy but—

Zephan: No, it totally makes sense.

Stephen: Yeah, so—yeah, just kind of breaking it down into little chunks and just working from there. honestly, if you want to become a super productive person, and a guy who has a million things on his plate all the time—which I do—it’s all about breaking things down, turning them into manageable goals, like things that are actually tangible, instead of being like, uh—like for a goal “Okay, I’m going to market my blog today.” It’s like…market my blog…what the hell does that even mean? What—“Okay, I posted on Reddit once. Yay, I market my blog, I can feel good about that!” but that’s not doing anything. If it’s like “Post on Reddit five different times. Post on StumbleUpon X-amount of times.” Do a social media run, is what I call it. Which is where I post on all of my social media things. And then it’s manageable and stuff actually happens.

So yeah, honestly, like the secret to life, and being a productive person—at least for me at this point in my life, and I’m very young, I’m 21 years old. I don’t like to preach too much because I haven’t had that much life experience. But what I think had worked for me really well is just taking like…yeah, big things, breaking them down into small manageable goals, and just like bulldozing through them. So yeah, if a guy can do that then they can become three times more productive than they were yesterday.

Zephan: Absolutely. A lot of this stuff we’ve been saying, I think a common theme is like it’s really easier than you think, but I guess one thing that we haven’t totally hit on yet is money. Because that was always a concern of mine when ideas and new things came up for me. Was like, how do we afford to do all these things? It’s easy for someone who has some money saved up, or who might’ve sold a company, to say “Oh, I’m just gonna go to Costa Rica for a week,” right. And, you know, like it’s true, but we want to encourage people to work towards that. Don’t just quit your job and just go buy a ticket somewhere, unless that’s really what you want to do any you thought about this for like a year. But there’s a really good book called Vagabonding and it’s about traveling and kind of leaving the working world behind and being just a lone traveler, but a big point they bring up there is most of the time you come back and work for two to three months, save up for your next journey. So we’re always working towards whatever that next journey is and saving up for that. So you know, what do you have to tell everyone just about money in general and being able to afford this and how it really is pretty easy?

Stephen: Yea, no I think, uhm—yeah, so kind of two points. There’s two sides to that coin. So the first one being, if you want to have money and live an awesome life, then okay, work your ass off, making that money, figure it out, and whether that’s two years of hard work, where that’s five years of hard work, or ten years of hard work, that’s a lifestyle that you want to live, then I think it’s just really important that you’re constantly working towards that so that to can create that lifestyle. So instead of making small sacrifices throughout the way, just be like—just like turning on the NOS button, can going hard for four or five years, building your business, being really successful in your career, whatever it is, and then having the money to go out and live the life that you want.

The second side to it is a lot of this stuff doesn’t actually require a lot of money to get it done, especially, especially if you have friends who can teach you this sort of stuff. So—yeah, I flew out to Costa Rica, I mean, that was partially just like a vaca—that’s another story. Craziest story you’ll ever hear, I can tell you it later, but—and, yeah, I travel over to different places, but that’s more to keep it interesting for the viewers to like—instead of just being Edmonton, Alberta, right, like doing out to Detroit and climbing in skyscrapers and stuff. But the crazy thing is, most of these skills, you can learn them within like a hundred kilometer radius of where you are. If you have a car, or if you have a friend who has a car, you just leverage that and you can make it happen. I always like to put in the approximate cost of each skill, and most of the time it’s not more than a hundred bucks.

Zephan: Nice!

Stephen: So, yeah, do it’s not like—if you have a hundred bucks in your pocket, then you can learn most things.

Zephan: Yeah, I’d spend five thousand bucks a year to learn a new skill every single week. I think that’s like pretty reasonable.

Stephen: Totally. Totally, yeah. And it depends on the scale of what you want to do. Like if you want to do super crazy stuff, then maybe not—and it depends on what resources you have on hand too. Like if you—if you want to build something and you already have the materials to do that and the tools to do that, then it’s gonna cost you less, right. But, yeah, I would say on average, maybe a hundred bucks. A lot of times is zero, you know.

Zephan: Yeah, your urban exploration one—which, by the way, I’m a huge fan of, there’s a really good documentary I think on Vimeo of New York underground train system, like urban exploration. But if no one’s seen it, go check out Stephen’s video on YouTube about urban exploration, cause it cost nothing to do.

Stephen: Yeah, I know—that’s actually my proudest video. Like I’m most proud of that video. It doesn’t have as many views, of course, but—I mean, it’s always the ones that are like blrlrlbrlrllrrlr, that’s just like crazy, that get a lot of views on YouTube, but—yeah, I’m super, super proud of that video, so thank you for mentioning that one.

Zephan: Yeah, I mean, that’s something you can do, I feel like, in any city really. You just gotta find somebody who kinda knows their way around, right.

Stephen; Yeah, totally. Yeah, no, we’re gonna be doing it in Edmonton pretty soon. There’s a couple of abandoned buildings that I’m going to—which I wouldn’t think there would be because everyone is so new and grey and boring a stuff.

Zephan: Well you can come to Baltimore any time and I’ll show you around. Maybe we can—I don’t even know how we would go about finding somebody who could like help us do it. But there’s tons of board-ups and abandoned places in Baltimore to check out. So I’m sure somebody knows how to do it all.

Stephen: Yeah, for sure. Facebook posts, man. Starts with Facebook post. Also, really good way to find people to teach you skills is if you identify local groups on Facebook that are part of it. One of the skills I’m super, super excited for, probably—it’ll probably be in spring actually, just for video purposes. But there’s a Viking club in Edmonton and they’re gonna teach me all this Viking stuff, and uh—yeah, just found it on Facebook. A local Viking club. They’re so hardcore! They’re so hard core! Like they have stores and they speak in Old English and stuff on their Facebook page, and they all have like massive beards. It’s just like holy crap.

Zephan: That’s awesome. Well if you ever are interested, along the same lines as Vikings, I rode with the Baltimore rowing club, so when it warms up down here, like April/May time, you’re more than welcome to come down and learn how to row a boat.

Stephen: Yeah, I gotta work out first, eh?

Zephan: It’s tough. It’s really hard, but it’s a sweet skill. And it’s—just like how you learned stuff so quickly, I only learned it last year. I haven’t been doing it for a very long time.

Stephen: Yeah.

Zephan: Awesome, well, real quick, what are some good resources for people to check out? I know you mentioned one earlier for—was it Instructables, or something like that?

Stephen: Yep, instructables.com. There’s a—what are some other good ones?—

Zephan: Maybe any books that influenced you?

Stephen: Yeah, there’s Instructables, and then there’s a really influential book for me, that kind of started my entrepreneurial career. Was 4-Hour Workweek. There’s nothing unique about it, but that one was like huge for me. Some resources—what are some good resources?—I don’t know, man. I don’t have like a lot of—

Zephan: Yeah, you just kinda do it, huh?

Stephen: Yeah, I just do it, and it’s—it’s more just network. Honestly. Like, it’s just going out and just asking people. People are my resources, I think, is the right answer.

Zephan: So I think the big takeaways are build that network, find people, and ask them to teach you things. Open yourself up to being willing to learn a new skill. I think that there’s a lot of changes that go on in the brain. It could easily pull you out of whatever slump you’re in. And I think number three is just realizing that a lot of this stuff is just way easier than you think, so there’s no way to find out until you just do it.

Stephen: Totally. Yeah, no, that’s uh—that’s awesome. And I love when I talk with these kind of things how those sorts of things come up. Because I never actually…think about it or like form it in my brain. When I’m talking to someone, it’s like “Oh, yeah! That makes sense! That’s why I’ve been doing it!”

Zephan: Yeah.

Stephen: Pretty cool.