YOP009: Eric James – Entrepreneur To The Moon

Bio:

This year Eric followed his dream to start an investment fund and now manages over $15 million. He is also working to shake up the way we think about Time Management with his newest startup, DaVinciTime.com which uses artificial intelligence to remove the overwhelm from people’s lives allowing them to have fun while achieving truly big visions.

A constant seeker of adventure, Eric has founded several successful online businesses and become an award winning photographer, capturing the attention of countless media outlets including NBC, FOX, and National Geographic. His ability to lead through action has led to becoming a popular guest speaker on the topics of Photography, Technology, Success, and Entrepreneurship. He also recently established a partnership with famous entrepreneur, Richard Branson to tell the story of our forgotten Utopia, and hopes to be the first photographer to capture Virgin Galactic’s commercial space flight.

Transcript:

Show +

Zephan: We are back again for another podcast of the Year of Purpose podcast. My name is Zephan Blaxberg and I am your host. And today I am joined by Eric James. This year, Eric followed his dream to start an investment fund and now manages over fifteen million dollars. He is also working to shake up the way we think about time management with his newest startup, davincitime.com, which uses artificial intelligence to remove the overwhelm from people’s lives, allowing them to have fun while achieving truly big visions. He’s also accomplished a lot of really awesome things on top of that, that we’ll probably get to in just a moment, but, Eric, how’s it going?

Eric: Doing great, man. Happy to be here, and it’s cool to hear you repeat those things cause I’m like “Yes!” like those are some big goals that I’ve been working really hard on, so it’s cool to hear it.

Zephan: Yeah, definitely. It’s gotta be awesome to look at both what you have accomplished and the things that you kind of have on the docket for this year, especially being so early on in the year, and seeing like “Oh, my gosh! There are gonna be awesome things happening coming up in the next few months!”

Eric: It’s true, and it’s overwhelming in a good way. But it’s—you know, a lot of fun stuff happening. I feel like I’ve just been getting ready, you know. Like all these other projects—I always feel that way. Maybe I always will. But if like—each success just leads into the next thing, and give me that many connections and resources to knock it out of the park the next time.

Zephan: Awesome, awesome. Well, let me rewind it, maybe, for a sec—cause before we jump into what’s going on right now, a lot of the people listening and watching are either stuck in life—maybe they’re working a corporate job, kinds of dream for the entrepreneurial world, maybe they’re already in the entrepreneurial world but haven’t really grasped onto that thing that they really want to do just yet. So maybe, do you think you could start me off, take me back to kinda where things started to click into place for you? Where was that decision made of “I’m just going to live life and do the things I really want to do”?

Eric: So yeah, actually, the way it all started for me was, I guess, a little bit different. I—basically, I had gone to film school, and then effectively was living in my parents’ basement, and eventually got kind of kicked out of there too, and was really having a hard time, to be completely honest, and couldn’t get a job anywhere. And all I had was my video skills. And I had a camera—cause, you know, I went to film school—and when I was younger, I used to absolutely love doing magic tricks. And so, I found—honestly, I started doing magic as a distraction. Cause life was not so hot, so at least if I was inventing something or using my brain, like…doing that, I didn’t have to think about necessarily what else was going on.

And then something crazy happened. I posted these videos online, cause I thought some of the stuff I came up with was pretty good, and I put these videos online and people started asking me like “Where can I buy that?” and I just wanted to see if people could figure it out, but they wanted to buy it and I was like “What? I don’t even know how to do that…” and this was before YouTube and this was—PayPal was just barely a thing. So I set up a PayPal account and started burning people DVDs and just writing in sharpie marker the name of the thing and mailing it, just going myself to the post office and mailing it out. And then something crazy happened only a few days into it. I get a call from Murphy’s Magic Supplies—which is one of the biggest magic distributors and if you’re a magician, you probably know who they are—and they’re like “Yeah, we want to order a thousand of this, a thousand of that” and I’m on the other end like “What?!” Like I’m just—and I told them. I was like “I’m just gonna be totally honest with you, I’m just a kid in my bedroom trying to make a few bucks…”

And they’re like “Okay, we still want them, so what if we overnighted you a check for ten thousand dollars?” I don’t remember exactly how much, but it was something like that, and I was like “…Yeah that would help…” and so, I’ll never forget—I think it was the first FedEx envelope I ever got, and I peeled it open, I opened it, and there’s a check made out to me. I never signed a contract or anything. It was like “Eric James — $10,000” and I was like “Whoa….” And that was my first taste of…just a whole other world that I didn’t know could exist.

So I ended up getting the DVDs made, all the videos—this was back when there was VHS, so I literally had VHS copies made and ended up building that company kind of accidentally, doing some things really right. Created like the first video download magic site, where people could buy them online, sold those DVDs, and it grew to a level where I started working with people like David Blaine, Criss Angel, and consulting for these guys, creating magic tricks for them to do on TV. So my journey was kind of accidental and just a wild rollercoaster right, and that’s actually how I got into this whole world of being an entrepreneur. Sometimes the worst day, you know, when you can’t get a job and everything’s going wrong, like you’re two millimeters away from something really great.

Zephan: It’s funny that you got into magic. Cause I was actually into magic when I was much younger too. I wasn’t very athletic growing up, so for me it was very easy to be able to entertain people, I guess. So I wonder if there’s any sort of like brain connections between videography and filming and that sort of creativity, and being able to come up with the magic tricks, or at least being able to process the different sleight of hand maneuvers that have to happen. I was never very coordinated with a soccer ball, so I don’t know how I was able to make cards disappear and stuff but…I can definitely relate to that, at least.

Eric: Definitely. For me, I think I’m really drawn to the things that have to combination of like the intellectual and the creativity. So magic and filmmaking I think both have that, where you’ve got the lenses, you’ve got all the different technical aspects of filming, and then—but ultimately you’re telling a story. It’s a creative process. And I think magic is the same thing. You’re doing all these technical things, and the end result is emotion, is a story. So for me that’s why I’ve kind of decoded I love both so much.

Zephan: And what was that you hit on that the very end, before you said something along the lines of how we’re so close to kind of that big break. What was it that you said back there?

Eric: Sometimes the worst day of your life is actually the best day of your life, you just don’t know it yet. Cause you don’t have a time machine. So I found that, you know, when I’m really struggling, when something really hard is going on, there’s a breakthrough that’s about to happen, and that’s what happened with Expert Magic, was the name of my company. And yeah, it was like, I couldn’t find a job, I had no idea how I was gonna pay the rent, all this stuff, but I just got resourceful. I was like “Okay, what do I have here…?” I have my creativity, I have my imagination…and a deck of cards…and a camera. And sometimes that’s all you need.

And you hear these stories over and over again—in fact, most success stories of people who were at the end, you know. The woman who wrote Harry Potter was—had just gotten divorced and all this stuff, was living on welfare, and like really didn’t know what she was gonna do and was so painfully shy that when she first came up with the idea for Harry Potter, she forgot most of it because she was too afraid to ask for a pen to write down—cause she was like on the subway or something—and obviously she remembered it eventually but…it’s crazy to think that now she’s a billionaire, and she had no resources other than her creativity, a pen, and paper. So I think people always say “Oh, I need more money” or “I don’t have the connections” or…but it’s not resources that make the difference, it’s resourcefulness, which I learned from Tony Robbins, who is one of my mentors and one of my favorite people. I definitely wouldn’t have been able to make it as far as I did without some of his teachings.

Zephan: So…it kind of—there’s a little bit of luck there, right. Like we made these videos teaching magic tricks and everything just kind of like happened, but Steve Jobs had this great quote about how you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only do that looking back. So looking back from here, I’d like to think that luck in general is just kind of like this culmination of a bunch of good choices that are made. You know, we choose to do certain things and then ultimately stuff kind of clicks into place, the world aligns and stuff happens for us. So for…I guess the people right now who…are looking for what’s next for themselves, how do we tap into this creativity? How do we figure out where should we go using the limited or few resources that we have? Because I’ve talked to some people, and they’re like “Well, I don’t really have any skills.” And I don’t really believe in that. I don’t think that’s a real answer, so what advice do you have for people just as far as tapping into that creativity?

Eric: Well, there’s a…an amazing book called Hatch that is all about creativity. And people don’t think they have creativity, you’ll see through those exercises you do. And it’s incredibly simple. You have a white board, you write on it “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” and just every morning when you walk by, write something down and like—even if it’s terrible. My favorite example of this is that they did a brainstorming session—Walt Disney had a little parcel of land that he wanted to save that had a little pond on it. And they were gonna put a little bench that said Walt Disney on it, and they’re like—he said “I really like those little trains they have that go around a park. What if we put a train in there?” Okay, well what else? And the idea with brainstorming is you never want to limit yourself at all. You have a completely separate meeting to figure out the feasibility of how you would do that. So they’re like “What if we add an ice cream stand? So people could get ice cream when they’re right the train?” and then they kept going. “What if we add a row of shops?” and anyway, long story short, they kept evolving this idea, and they came up with Disneyland. And at a completely separate meeting said “Wait a minute, this is actually feasible. We should do this.” And of course we all know what happened there.

So I think that that book and even just asking yourself those simple questions like “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” can spawn that creativity. And also, I’m of the belief—even though I kind of accidentally did it in a risky way—that you don’t have to completely quite your job. There’s kind of a saying of to become and entrepreneur, you can build your parachute and then jump off the cliff, or you can jump off the cliff and build your parachute on the way down. Now, it’s pretty effective to jump off the cliff and build your parachute on the way down, but it’s a lot more stressful. So I don’t necessarily think people need to leave their jobs, or—like if I need to, I’ll go get a job somewhere, I’m not worried about that at all, because I know long term where I’m headed. And the other thing is with these luck—when grace shows up or when luck happens—for me, I take massive chances all the time that have no downside. So like, getting to meet Richard Branson and getting a chance to get a space like…there’s no downside for me. So I go for these really, really wild things.

In fact, something crazy happened the other day. A friend of mine gave me a—or a filmmaker, actually that I met at a film festival, and he gave me this little sticker of his friend that had passed away as a tribute to his friend, they’re putting these stickers all kinds of cool places. So I thought it would be funny—the coolest place I could think of was Antarctica. So…ended up, through a chain of events, just going for it and be like “Let’s see if we can get this sticker put up in Antarctica” and just two days ago got an email back with a picture from Antarctica. And it took six months, and the kid was totally blown away by that. And that might sound really, really luck—and it actually is—but I do a hundred of those, and so if there’s only one percent chance of working, one of them is gonna work and there’s no downside. Nothing…you know, there wasn’t this massive risk involved. So I think that risk-reward is important for people to understand. There’s ways to really go for big things without risking your sanity or your finances as extreme as it’s made out to be.

Zephan: I like what you were saying about jumping off the cliff and the parachute analogy, because that’s definitely something that I do quite often, is I kind of just dive right in and I’m like “Alright, here we go! Let’s just see what happens!” and…but that’s where the stories come out of. It kind of is up to you do make this choice of like…do you want to have this really awesome story, or do you want to play it safe? I mean, you obviously have to take some risks, depending on what you want to do, but I think that if I had tried to start my video business while I was working forty hours a week in the corporate retail world, it just wouldn’t have worked the same way, I’d be stuck filming weddings because my weekends were the only free time that I really had, and a lot of the time, I was working on the weekend anyway. So it was kind of like dealing with this rough schedule.

So I think that, it’s really a choice, and you have to look at what you have to offer to the world, starting with that whiteboard and asking those questions. But then ultimately deciding, “Do we just jump and go all in on this, or do we want to try to play it safe and build this on the side and hopefully one day this becomes bigger than this and we can jump over to that one.” It’s a tough decision to make and the good news is there’s really no right or wrong answer because everything you do is going to get you to where you are now, or at least in the future.

So you did some really amazing things. You started this company selling magic tricks, essentially. What’s going on at least a couple years later? Where have you been in the last year or two—you mentioned Richard Branson—how did all of that come into play?

Eric: So yeah, I—there’s a process that actually is kind of the crux of the new app that I’m building to kind of keep people on with this, but…basically there’s a process kind of like the brainstorming that I just talked about, where you set an ultimate vision. And I love photography—there’s one of my photos behind me here—and I realized that a lot of my photography was about celebrating the magnificence of this planet that we’re on, and that if we were like flying through space, as humanity, trying to find home , and we came upon Earth, we’d be like “Holy crap! This place is amazing! It’s got dolphins and waterfalls and rainforests and deserts and oceans and—it’s got everything! It’s got all the food we could ever want and all the resources and all the variety…we just have to not ruin it.” And if we thought “Hey look, we just landed in heaven” or “We’re in utopia right now” everyone knows the answer. It’s easy to take care of from that perspective. It’s not like we have to learn how to take care of it. If it’s like you’re in God’s house, you wouldn’t treat it the way we treat Earth.

So, I was like “Man, what is the ultimate way to convey that message?” and I was think to shoot it from space would really be it, to actually tell that literal story. And I wanted to do abstract photography of space, to evoke the emotion involved, rather than just purely photojournalistic, like “Here’s exactly what it looks like” which is most of the space photography we have. I want to do light paintings and all kinds of other stuff. And so I just wrote this down, same with Walt Disney brainstorming his park, I was free from how that might occur. And then…the magic happens when you start writing down the little tiny stupid actions—dumb action, my friend nicknamed it. Things you can’t fail at. So, the first thing I wrote down was “Check Richard Branson’s Twitter account.” Pretty easy, like that’d be hard to fail at. And it might be like google something, call someone, do a brainstorming session on this thing, ask on Facebook “hey does anyone know anyone in this area?”—I mean it can be really, really simple actions that get the ball rolling. I didn’t know how that was gonna work.

So anyway, I was on an airplane when I was doing this process. As soon as I touched down, I flip on my phone and check Richard Branson’s Twitter account and see that he’s gonna be in Miami at an event celebrating I think it was the fifteenth anniversary of Virgin Atlantic flying into Miami.

Zephan: Nice.

Eric: So I was like “Sweet!” Another thing I’ve learn from Tony Robbins which is absolutely true is proximity is power. So getting physically near what you need or want. So if you want to date beautiful women, you probably need to be in proximity…you can’t sit at home and expect anything to happen. If you need money for your startup, you need to get around the people with the money. If you need videographers, you need to get around videographers. So I knew I needed to get in proximity—emailing or something like that would probably not work.

So like is an awesome opportunity, I found out there was gonna be a charity event ahead of time that was related to some charity work I’d done in the past, so I find myself in this charity event ahead of time, in the Versace mansion, in Miami—and this is like two days later or three days later, I just booked the ticket thinking “Worst case scenario, it cost me two hundred dollars.” Again, one of the risk-rewards. Worst case, two hundred dollars to go to Miami, that’s not so bad. Best case, I get to go to space, you know! And meet Richard Branson, this just seems like a no brainer. So I end up in the Versace mansion, in the study—and it was straight out of like the game of Clue, all those moving ladders and smelled like mahogany and it was hilarious. So the coolest part was it was a bunch of people just like me. A bunch of hustlers, a bunch of entrepreneurs who got themselves in there for the same reason. They knew they needed proximity. And then, at least I started getting really nervous. I could tell some of the other people were too, kind of like “Who are we to ask Richard Branson for anything?” Like how are we adding value—?

Zephan: Yeah, cause he doesn’t know us.

Eric: Yeah! So it seemed like a good idea until that moment, and I was like “Crap…I don’t know if I can ask him this…” and then something—kind of magic happened where he came in, and he knew that we were all there for a reason, and he was just like “Everyone circle up.” And he’s like “I want to hear—” like “You got yourself in this room for a reason, I want to hear why, and I want to know how I can help.” And I was like blown away. And it became clear to me in a new way why he is so successful. And I found that to be true with other successful people I’ve met with. He wants to add value in whatever way he can. And, yeah, so he went around the room and literally helped everyone that he possibly could and…so I pitched him my idea, like I just told you. I shoot with a really special camera that’s a digital Hasselblad, which is like the cameras they took to the moon originally, and like…I met Buzz Aldrin about this idea and everything…so I like, you know, pulled out all the stops and marketed the best I possibly could and he said “You know, that’s interesting. Are you the person who emailed me today?” and I was like “No..?” he said “There’s another guy who emailed me today”—and I’ll get to that in a second—but anyway, he’s like “Show me your photos and let’s talk.”

So, the after party was awesome. Ellie Goulding was there, she was like the special guest. It was around the pool, it was great, and I showed him my photographs and he was like “This is amazing” took me right to his assistant and connected me to the team at Virgin Galactic. And the craziest part is…I asked him—cause one of the theories I have is that the bigger the goal, the easier it is to achieve, cause there’s less competition and when you hit resistance, it’s totally worth it. Like going to space is totally worth a little resistance. I’m not gonna quit because my flight’s delayed, I’m gonna figure out a way. So, kind of testing that, I asked him how many other people had asked, and he said “Only that one other person. Today. This same day.”

And the crazy thing is, I then ran into the other photographer in Maui in a tiny pizza place in the middle of the island, that’s not touristy—like randomly. And then we were chatting about it and like cracking up. So it seems like when you go for it, like serendipity shows up, luck shows up. I’ve seen it way too many times to have it just be totally random. So there’s an element of faith in there that when you go for things, something’s gonna happen, even though you don’t know what it is yet.

Zephan: So…that’s truly amazing. I mean I definitely and kind of in the same boat where I think that stuff always happens for a reason. We run into people at certain places for a reason. Throwing yourself out there and just going for it is absolutely amazing. Not a very expensive plane ticket, at least you get a really fun vacation and good weather. But let me ask you this—because this is something that I still find both for myself but for other people to be, there’s some resistance here—when it comes time to talk about money… You know, a lot of people are working jobs, barely making enough as it is. What’s your stance or look on money in general? I was reading this article yesterday about someone who travels the world and she was saying how she had eight hundred dollars in her bank account and then booked a ticket to Australia and lived in Australia for like a year or something. And it’s just mindboggling to me because I’ve never been down to that very bottom of the barrel, like “I have three hundred bucks to my name and that’s it” but I know that some people do. How can we view money and also be willing to take these leaps and take these risks and kind of just like not think that it’s the end of the world if we run out of money?

Eric: Uhm, yeah, there’s a lot of things coming up on this topic. I think, you know, one of the main skills as a human being in today’s world if you want to do big things, is to learn to handle financial pressure. And use it as that motivation. Like, use it to build that parachute cause you’re…you know, you dove off the cliff, whatever. I think, yeah, frustration and financial pressure—if you can learn how to turn those into positives to get excited…like wow, every huge success has happened when they had zero dollars, you know what I mean? Like—or most of them. So, “I’m about have a huge success, that’s pretty good.” If I use it that way. If I get frustrated, realize “Wait a minute…I’m really close to a break through here.”

So I think that’s a component, but also admitting to yourself what’s really going on—and something me and some friends recently start doing was we share all of our personal finances with each other. Completely open book, and it was terrifying.

Zephan: So accountability.

Eric: Yeah. And people were totally willing to help too. So, yeah, I think it’s really powerful to share your finances with a trust group of friends, because they can help you, you can help each other, and usually…maybe one person’s having a really hard time and the other people have been there, or could help, or didn’t know that you needed help. Like, they’re like “You do websites and you’re hurting for money. I had a friend ask me yesterday that needed somebody to do a website and I had no idea that you—I thought you were doing fine.” So I think—with really successful people, I’ve noticed there’s not this mentality of trying to pretend to be more successful that you are. And there’s more like being realistic enables you to be really successful. You have to admit that you only have three hundred dollars to end up with more.

So I think that’s a component, and then personally, I love Robert Kiyosaki’s work. Rich Dad, Poor Dad is one of the books that’s pretty famous. Cash Flow Quadrant and he has a board game called Cash Flow. And it’s really fun to place because it’s really realistic. You get—like you might be a janitor or a lawyer, and you have realistic expenses and income, and then you get to play it without the pressure of real life, but real life scenarios happen. You get opportunity cards. And some of them suck, and some of them are great, and it’s up to you to tell the difference, just like in real life. We all get opportunity cards dealt to us, and we just have to know whether they suck or not. But it also teaches you there are always more opportunity’s coming that you don’t know about yet. So you don’t have to say yet to every single thing, you can be a little bit strategic in how you live your life. So I love that game, Cash Flow. And one of the other things you learn is that often the person that makes the least amount of money starting the game ends up winning the game, cause they have the least amount of debt and expenses.

So to become a multimillionaire, passive income guy who just travels the world, if you are young and don’t have a lot of debt yet, that’s a lot better than if you’re a doctor or lawyer and have a ton of student debt and all that kind of stuff. So it kind of flips the script, which makes being broke not bad. You just don’t want to be overly in debt. And if you are, you want to reverse that cycle. If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging, kind of deal. So I feel like financial empowerment comes from radical honesty and—just like if you want to get healthy, you study health. If you want to get wealth, you gotta study wealth, and make it a game. So those are the things that have helped for me.

Zephan: So…so mastering your financials by both accepting where you are right now, but almost using that to motivate you to try something different. Because obviously, you kept doing the same thing to get to where you are now, it’s clearly not working. Probably time to try something else. So I think that’s really great you got some good resources there that we will list. We’ve got show notes that’ll be up on the YearofPurpose.com website to go along with the podcast when we post it. So we’ll be sure to list those books in there.

When—have you gone—have you done the space thing yet? When is that happening? What’s going on with that?

Eric: I actually—you know, it’s kind of up in the air. So on-and-off contact with the Virgin Galactic team. I’m gonna find a way to go regardless, but the crash that occurred and these different things are changing the schedule around and for a while a lot of celebrities were getting involved. And that was affecting which flight I may or may not be able to go on and so…honestly, I’m in contact with the space port, because I want to open a gallery at the space port itself. And trying to stay out of the hair of the Virgin Galactic guys while they actually create the spacecraft itself. So…you know, it’s one of those big goals, like I said. I’ll make it happen one way or another. I have the resources and contacts I need to make it happen, but I don’t have a definite date or anything like that.

Zephan: Alright, well, we’ll have to keep eyes on you to figure out when that happens cause I definitely want to see that. There’s a lot of cool stuff going on with space right now, and to be able to do that’s probably a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Let me ask you this, what’s been your favorite journey so far? What sort of adventure had you been on where you just said “Wow, if this was the only this I do with my life, this was pretty amazing”?

Eric: Hm… You mean like an actual physical trip or like an entrepreneurial journey or…?

Zephan: Either one really. I mean, I know that you’ve flown a fighter jet, right? Is that right?

Eric: Yeah, yeah!

Zephan: There’s a lot of other stuff that you’ve done.

Eric: Uh, you know…it’s interesting cause I start to not think about them as individual things, but more just….a sensation of appreciation for being alive. So it’s hard to—it’s hard to single out anything. What’s coming up right now—probably because it was recent—is we just did a—like a Random Acts of Kindness club here in Boulder. And basically we just got like twenty people together, and we just like went around and made peoples’ day. And we came up with this idea to do an invisible jump rope, where just two people stand on either side of like walking street mall and pretend to do a jump rope, and people flipped out and just jumped in and they loved it. Everyone turned into little kids again.

So I guess that’s kind of symbolic of—like my favorite part of the journey is activating people’s creativity or watching people’s limiting belief fall away. I love—I speak at the Higher Purpose Project, and I really enjoy that. And so the journey, I guess, of exploring and challenging myself so then to inspire other people and seeing the affect that that has is more meaningful than I thought life could be, you know, when I was younger. So that’s probably the most significant. Way above any of the cool stuff, like flying a fighter jet or starting companies or making money, is seeing people’s eyes light up. Yeah.

Zephan: So you feel the most alive when you are being selfless and impacting others’ lives. I mean, you’re doing amazing stuff for yourself, but at the same time, it sounds like you feel more alive doing things for others.

Eric: Yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely. And that inspiration that comes from that—I can’t expect more from others and really try to help humanity reach a new level if I’m not like doing it myself. So it’s like selfless self-improvement. Feels a lot better than just selfishness without the other piece. If I’m just trying to make myself better so that I’m better…that’s not—that doesn’t really drive me. But if I’m trying to make myself better so that I can be an example to other, or so that I can help more and contribute more, that’s juicy. That’s life.

Zephan: Mhm, and I think I’ve been finding this sort of secret, if you will, that we talked a little bit about how the stars kind of align and how to come together when you take action on it. I think that when you start to give your time and your help to others, that it also kind of opens up windows and doors for other things to happen. Like maybe for example, you decide to volunteer at a soup kitchen, but you end up meeting somebody there that works at SpaceX and maybe that was how you got it—you know, so it seems like there’s a lot of ways that the opportunities can open up in the world through those things. We don’t exactly have to just chase them down. It’s great to have those dreams, and sometimes they just kind of work themselves out over time.

Eric: Absolutely. A good analogy that I love that my friend, Mark, shared with me is…it’s like a goal or something that you’re after is a target, and if you picture the rings of that target are actually made of doors. And that’s sitting in the ocean, let’s say. And so the outer ring, you just want to go and open all those doors, so you’re letting the water flow into the next level. And so on and so forth. So the more doors you open, you don’t know which door’s gonna be the one and it doesn’t even have to work that way. You don’t have to see the dots exactly, it’s just that you’re letting water into that next level. And you do that on each ring, and by the time you get to the goal, you’re like “Oh that was easy!” because you had so much momentum with you. You had open so many doors. And so, yeah, I look—I totally look at it that way. I don’t try to do the right thing, I just try to do everything that can possibly help and make sure I’m getting closer instead of farther away.

So I think that’s something that paralyzes people when they try to start a business or try to improve themselves or work out even as they try to do it perfect. And it’s like…just go for a walk. Just open a door somewhat. Just do something. Call someone. Post something on Facebook. Take some dumb action toward your goal. And that can be huge. And like you said, then random stuff starts happening at a soup kitchen that you had no idea.

Zephan: Yeah. I actually just had—it might’ve been today actually. I have this weird thing that…the number three is like my number for stuff to happen, right. So—and I always know the day of when it’s gonna happen. It’s very odd. But usually what happens is I’ll get a call or an email, new client coming in wants to book me for a video shoot, and it always happens in threes. There’s always three things that happen. So this morning, actually, I got a phone call—I’m sorry, I got an email from an old client from about a year ago where we worked with Microsoft and we filmed a really cool video. And then they were like “I have a new client now. I’m working with this drag racing company that does these drag races all over the country. And we want to bring you out.” So, first one happened and I’m like “oaky, what’s gonna happen next?” So I’m just gonna go to the gym, I’m just gonna take my day and see what happens. And I actually get to the gym and I’m met by one of my friends who I see at the gym quite often, and she actually asks me—she’s working on this idea for a non-profit and she gave me a very large opportunity to help out on it. So that was number two.

And so it’s uh… I’ve got a networking event tonight that I’m going to. I’m curious to see what’s gonna happen there, but this weird rule of three. I think that everything kind of flows so if you open up to that first one, it kind of paves the way for the rest of the day, or the week, or the month to kind of provide you with the things that you’re asking for. So I think that—it’s scary, it’s something that people are afraid of, is opening themselves up, but once they do, the things kind of line up and it just happens exactly how you need it to happen.

Eric: That’s awesome, the rule of three. I like it.

Zephan: Yeah, and it’s—I’m telling you. Just next time something really good happens, look at see if two other things in the same day happen within five or six hour timespan. I just think there’s something to be looked at there.

Now, you’ve done quite a lot in the last few years. I’m in all of a lot of the things you’ve done. For those listening and watching, the Hasselblad camera that he mentioned earlier is kind of like the Porsche of cameras. This is what they do to build giant billboard sized photos. So they’re absolutely amazing. So you’ve gained a lot of knowledge and things over time. You’ve probably made some good decisions. I’m sure there’s plenty of mistakes or things or learning experiences. What do you know now that you would take and love to give to your younger self? So like five or ten years ago, if you could impart any advice or wisdom, what would you like to tell yourself?

Eric: Hm…that’s awesome. Uhm… I guess the biggest thing is the level of stress or worry or anxiety about how things are gonna turn out. I would just tell my younger self it’s gonna be fine, no matter what. It’s not all or nothing. This individual thing doesn’t have to succeed or fail, and in fact something in between is gonna happen. So I would say enjoy the right and…you know, obviously work hard. Keep going for it. But it’s not like this life or death situation that it feels like. So yeah, to enjoy it. I think that’s it. And then the other one, just brutal honesty. To be—like about finances, about relationships, but being honest with yourself is huge. It’s like really, really scary until you do it. And all the fear, it just goes away.

Like “Okay, well here I really am.” And so I would just say don’t try to be cooler—don’t try to be cool and…especially to yourself. Be where you really are, because that’s how you get to where you want to be. So it’s not like be where you are so you’re stuck, it’s like…recognize where you are so you can actually move. If you don’t recognize where you are, you’re stuck. So I would say those are kind of the two things. Brutal self-honesty in an empowering way, and don’t take things too seriously. And have fun along the way.

Zephan: Awesome. Well, hey, Eric, it’s been a real pleasure to have you on here today. I’d love for people who are listening and watching to check out and learn more about you, maybe look at some of your photos. What are the best places to keep track of you and what you’re doing?

Eric: Yeah, so my website is erictothemoon.com. And there’s a contact form for to email me, whatever. And there’s a link to my photography on there. I mark it under the name James Azure, that’s my photography lens name, kind of like a penname for a writer. And then you can check on my newest project, Da Vinci, which is getting ready to launch in a month or so. And that’s at davincitime.com and I’ve written a bunch of articles on Lifehacker and Delivering Happiness about that, so…that—that kind of is a tool to embody a lot of the things we’ve been talking about and make it a consistent practice. So highly recommend everyone check that out, obviously. That’s why I’m doing it, so.

Zephan: Good deal. We’ll have those all listed out below the video on our website for people to check out. And thank you for taking some time out, while you’re getting ready to head out to the moon and take some photos for—or of us, actually. I’m super excited to see what happens there. I’m really excited to see what happens next for you. And keep in touch. Thanks for being here.

Eric: Awesome. Thanks for having me on the show, man. This was a lot of fun.

Zephan: Alright, cool, we’ll catch you later.

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