Why after 20 years in Affiliate Marketing are you starting a blog or a personal brand?
20 years of “grinding” and “hustling.” 20 years of working in Affiliate Marketing. The question is, “Why am I still doing this after so many years?” Why would I put up a website about myself and my thoughts on the industry? Ego? Financial Gain? No. I do this for the passion and love of giving first, and to make things happen for people that they wouldn’t have made happen otherwise. Put simply, I have the resources and happiness to last me a lifetime. I’m most concerned about the industry as a whole and helping others right now. If my business grows as a result, or if I come into more, that’s ok but it is NOT my primary focus. I’m looking to truly change the world, to change the industry I’m in, and to change the lives of those around me.
There are so many “Gurus” out there you can follow that will tell you what to do and profit from you buying their books or enter into their courses. You would have to question their motive as they ask for your credit card to make more money, to tell others how they made money. That is NOT my motive. I absolutely ask for nothing except enthusiasm and surrounding myself with like-minded people that want to engage in digital marketing and entrepreneurship to make a better situation for themselves or their companies. #givefirst
Starting with my “Why”
If you want a great book to really change the way you approach things, take a look at Simon Sinek’s book, Start With Why. This helped me really evaluate what gets me up every morning to do this “hustle” and “grind” as an entrepreneur of 7 different companies after 20 years of doing it. I found out that my God-given purpose is to help others who can’t fully help themselves, and to add value in the lives of Clients, employees, and friends and family. I also discovered upon further reflection, that I am only driven to help those that truly get out of their own way that are ready to do the work that it takes to help themselves. I don’t provide handouts, and I don’t offer free advice. My advice comes with an implied homework that the person I’m in that level of relationship must do for us to move to the next level. If the person or employee I’m working with isn’t motivated to put in the work, then I too lose interest and move onto those that will.
It is important to learn these types of things about yourself and it was important for me to learn it about myself. Why do so many business relationships or personal relationships drop off so quickly for me? I have learned that it is because we are in an exchange of time, knowledge and resources, and when I “give first” and the receiver doesn’t give their time and energy equally, I lose interest. That’s ok, now I know. If the person I’m working with gives a damn about themselves, their situation, and understands none of this happens without time and energy, then we are a good fit to move forward and work together.
Continuing on to my “How”. How do I do all of this?
Once I discovered the “Why” recently, I moved onto Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle and the next layer was to evaluate my “how.” The good news is I have fumbled my way to a pretty good answer for my “How.” I have built 7 companies sub-consciously to support my “why” that I hadn’t realized yet, perfectly supporting the overall “why.” The 7 companies I will not all layout here because this is not a self-promotion piece. Instead, I can tell you that they all help companies online acquire users and new customers more effectively and efficiently than they could do for themselves. There, I did it right? I built out companies sub-consciously and effectively to achieve the “Why.” Nope. We are not done. Building companies around this is not enough. That is only part of the “how.”
To really truly get to my “how” I could support the “why” I have to go deeper. I have to go deeper within myself to really achieve the “Why.”
I learned that upon further inspection of my life, I was finding success building these companies, but I was letting myself down. In order to achieve your “why” in life you really have to see “how” you are going to do that in your own life. I took a look at several areas of my life, and much like in business I had to orient those things to my “why.”
I use a journal and I write down all aspects of my “how.” The sub-categories or headings may be different for you? The point is that you have to find in your life what really drives the “why”. This is called your “how.”
These aspects in my life are:
This is the #1 most important “how” I am able to do everything in my life. My core family is THE most important aspect of my life. When this is not in alignment or they are not happy, I cannot move on to the other areas of my life. It’s a fact that everything else will fall out of balance in my life. Many say this, many realize this, but not many practice this. We came up with a mission as a family to always “leave a legacy of giving, kindness and compassion and to build strong kids and legacy-minded futures” and we try to practice this in all we do. We also set aside time and resources to achieve this mission, and we re-align when we aren’t on the right trajectory as a family. Our family doesn’t let other family members have a negative impact on our life, and we pause from any activities that perpetuate that or walk away from situations where it doesn’t follow our family mission. Write down your family goals. Build a family mission, and stick to it. Meet regularly with your family to see if you are on track to achieve those goals or if you are on mission. Take time for your family, and be present.
Without your health, you cannot get to your goal. If you do get to your goal and you still haven’t taken care of your health, you will quickly fade and won’t be able to enjoy that goal.
A few years ago, I was completely unhealthy. I was over weight by too many pounds, and I had allowed my iron levels in my body to go to almost nothing and had to have a blood infusion. During my journey, I also sustained a traumatic brain injury from slipping on ice and hitting my head, and it took months to speak again and over a year to be able to go through a day without throwing up. In addition to that, I got in a skiing accident tearing both ACLs and Meniscus, undergoing double knee surgery. I was in a wheelchair for a whole summer.
At this rock bottom health point, I realized that it didn’t matter how hard I worked or how hard I focused on the other areas of my family, I was going to need to make health a priority as part of my “why.” Today, I’m one of the healthiest places I’ve been in my lifetime. I implemented a “move” policy where I work out or do physical therapy at least 30 minutes per day, I do yoga when I can, and I am following a Keto-based diet. As of this post I’ve lost 32 lbs and still dropping!
Many say they will work out when this or that happens, or they will change their diet when they aren’t so stressed, but when you are stressed is EXACTLY when you should be working out and eating right. It helps you have the reserves to attack your “Why.”
“I want to make a million dollars” says every Entrepreneur. I realistically looked at it and I know to retire and to be able to give back at the rate I want to give back, I probably need to earn personally $10 million in net worth. If that sounds high, that’s ok, it’s my goal not yours. The point here is that you should stretch and reach and be realistic with yourself. What will it take for you to really achieve your “Why.”? You don’t have to say it out loud, and you don’t have to run it by anyone, just write it down.
We often just survive with our finances, and we live on a day to day cash basis. Planning your personal finances is just as important as planning your business finances when trying to achieve your “Why.” The amount of stress you feel when you don’t have money or don’t know how to pay a bill will absolutely consume you. I carefully considered the amount of cash I had on hand when I started SmarterChaos, and how long I could go before I could pay myself. I would also look at my assets and come to grips with the fact I may be selling them off if things didn’t go well. This gave me a ramp time that I could build the company without having the day to day stress of figuring out where money was going to come from. Many of you may want to start your company as a side-hustle or you may have to work other jobs to make it happen. The quickest way to self destruction is ignoring your finances. The second quickest way to self-destruction is to rely only on credit cards. If you are running up credit cards without ANY plan to pay them back, you are on the highway to bankruptcy. There is fat to little chance you are going to pull out a Hail Mary and just pay them off in the future. That doesn’t mean credit is bad, but credit is bad if you have no plans on how you will pay it off in the future.
Buy some personal finance software like Quicken, and map out your expected income, your expenses, and stay on that budget. Find innovative ways to earn money like consulting or helping others in their businesses and getting paid for it. At the top of each month, write out your goals for the next month, the next quarter, and the year. Plan 2-5 years in the future. I would write down the income that I wanted to earn, and each year I would surpass it.
This is an area many don’t talk about in business but it is very important. The internal drive that I have comes from a higher power. I am a Christian, plain and simple. You may be something else. It doesn’t matter the religion, the theology, or the drive. The point is that you really have to get in touch with that spirit and that higher being that you feel drives you. In my life God plays a part in my life to help me make the ethical decisions, as well as to give me strength and power to move forward. Fear can be crippling and the dark nights can be very dark during this journey. To properly execute your “Why” you should explore your spiritual side. For me, that is going to church every week, going on church retreats, participating in Bible studies, and volunteering on missions.
Another part of spiritual growth is meditation and being present. Prior to this Entrepreneurial journey I thought mediation and the power of being present was all bologna. I would make fun of people that thought they could somehow center themselves. Since I’ve ridden such a rocky road to get to where I am, I downloaded some meditation apps like HeadSpace, then I set aside 15 minutes a day when I wake up to focus and meditate. Many CEOs have told me about the positive benefits of meditating, and I agree with them. Meditation gives you a sense of quiet and focus on your “Why” and let’s you better execute your “How” and “What.”
“Once you stop learning, you start dying.” – Albert Einstein
Growth and purpose takes learning to fuel it. Most entrepreneurs and CEOs read regularly. I personally break reading into several categories. I read for industry knowledge, personal growth, and for fun.
In any industry, especially digital marketing, the cutting edge technology and the techniques change all the time. In order to stay ahead of these trends, I find myself always having to read every week and study new methods. You can join industry newsletters, read industry websites, or participate in industry conferences.
For personal growth, I read spiritual books, management books, and I try to learn more about emotional intelligence. I have learned that in order to continually grow I must keep reframing the world around me with different personal growth models. I take what I can use from those models, and I leave what doesn’t make sense in my life. I read a passage from the Bible every night, and I reflect how it fits into my purpose and my life.
You have to escape once in a while, and there is no better way to give your brain a vacation than to take it to another world in a book for fun. Don’t forget to read for fun! This is one of the hardest things for me to remember because I do consume so many management and industry books, that I don’t want to take the time to read fiction. It’s important, and its a good exercise to increase the imagination.
There is an entire discussion that could be had here on structuring your business to achieve your “Why.” That would be another post entirely. My purpose for putting it here is that you should realize that your Business is one of the main vehicles by which you can achieve your dreams. If you realize this, it becomes exciting! Your business is one of the most valuable assets that you have and that you can nurture and grow to achieve your dreams. Remember that people that work for you do not have the same dream you have, so you have to structure the business to achieve your goals but also to achieve each person’s goals that works for you.
Plan regularly. Every month just like my financial plan, I write down goals for the business and major tasks that would help me get closer to that financial goal in the business. If you write down 5 things each month that are deals or projects that you could accomplish that would earn you what you are looking to earn, then you will always be stretching and getting closer and closer to the financial goals we talked about earlier.
Often I hear Entrepreneurs, even those close to me, say “I don’t have time or money to travel.” My response to this is that everyone should find a way to take a vacation and get outside of your geography. Save for it, plan for it, make it a mandatory expenditure. Too much concentration on the business without getting outside of your head, outside the office walls, or even outside the city limits will absolutely drive you nuts and burn you out. When you are burned out, you can’t achieve your “Why.”
Write down your goals for travel. Where are all the places you’ve dreamed of traveling? Think exotic lands and exciting trips! Nothing is too silly or crazy. We have dreams to stay in an ice hotel in Sweden, to travel to the Galapagos and swim with sea turtles, or to heli-ski in the mountains of Alaska. Our family has taken amazing trips to Hong Kong, England, France, Vancouver, and all around the US. Nothing is off limits except dangerous destinations, and we discuss regularly the next places we are going. It gives the family a chance to dream together, and it lets us realize the entire family’s dreams. Remember, the family has to be part of your dreams and experience since they are there to help you achieve your “Why.” A trip once a Quarter will re-energize your family and yourself, even if it is a camp out in a field outside your town, or just a road trip to grandma’s. Do not fool yourself into thinking “we will travel when……something happens.”
Know Your Why, Dig Into Your How, Get to your What
At the end of the day if you start with your Why, as I have done, the rest falls in line nicely and everything will drive towards your life’s purpose. If you live each day on purpose, focused on that “Why” then you will realize you are happier and healthier. It’s taken me 20 years to get to this place, but I plan on spending the next 20 years focused on my “Why” and realizing all of my dreams. I know that focusing on the Why, leads to me planning and digging into the How, which then gets me to the What. I know you can too and I’m here if you need to bounce anything off me, understanding you have to put in the work!
ABOUT the Chief of Chaos: Matt Frary is a Digital Marketing Entrepreneur who started in affiliate marketing at eBags.com in Denver, CO in 1999. He has since built one of the top CPA Networks called ROI Rocket and built some of the most iconic companies in customer acquisition to include SmarterChaos, She Is Media, Elite Media Partners, and Webfluential US. Matt is a Graduate from The University of Colorado in Marketing and International Business, and earned an MBA from Thunderbird the School of Global Management in Phoenix Arizona. Recently Matt has purchased affiliate sites, is helping mentor startups and is driving innovation in influencer and multi-channel attribution. Matt spends time in Colorado skiing, jeeping, and building a life for his family. Matt is available for speaking and panels at conferences or events.