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Inside a YouTuber Success Story: Ali Abdaal’s Journey From Medicine to Mastery

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Episode Recap:

On this episode of the Marketing Secrets podcast, I have the pleasure of sitting down with Ali Abdaal, one of the most prominent productivity experts on YouTube today. Ali's journey is nothing short of fascinating - starting from reading my emails as a 13-year-old, to becoming a medical doctor, and now being a highly successful YouTuber and entrepreneur. In this episode we dive deep into Ali's unique path and the powerful strategies he's used to grow his online presence and business. From structuring content to optimizing filming days, Ali shares insights that can simplify and expedite your approach to content creation and productivity.

Ali and I discuss a variety of topics crucial for anyone looking to enhance their productivity and online business strategy. We cover everything from the importance of organic content marketing to the impact of having a robust sales and marketing knowledge base. Whether you're a budding entrepreneur or a seasoned marketer, the tips and stories Ali shares are incredibly valuable and actionable.

Key Highlights:​

  • Organic Content Marketing: Discover how Ali used YouTube to boost his business without initially knowing what content marketing was.
  • Structuring Your Content: Learn how to effectively plan and organize your videos and filming days.
  • Productivity Hacks: Ali shares his best practices for maintaining productivity while balancing multiple projects.
  • Overcoming Imposter Syndrome: Insights on how Ali overcame his fears and started charging premium prices for his courses.
  • Business Evolution: Understand the transition from a niche market (medical school prep) to a broader audience (productivity and lifestyle).

Tune in to hear Ali's story and get ready to take your content creation and productivity to the next level!

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Best Quote:

And I honestly, it's weird for me because a lot of people think I'm very entrepreneurial and I am, but for me, entrepreneurship is my art. The reason I wrote write my books is because it wasn't just like, I'm going to make a lead magnet to sell this so I can sell click phones.
It was like, no, I spent 20 years obsessed with funnels, looking at them, diagramming, thinking about them, doodling, things that just became obsessed. And then the book was the art where it's like this chapter in my life now it's art that I can give to somebody. Expert Secrets the same way, I took all the stuff I learned about selling and storytelling and stuff like that and put it in a thing. Traffic secrets, all my things. It's always, it's art for me. And so for me, it's just like I'm painting my next picture.

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Transcript:

Ali Abdaal:
The word productivity didn't really come into it until I just kept seeing that word in the comments being like, "Oh, you're so productive. You're so productive. How are you so productive?" I was like, yeah, I guess I'm productive. I was a medical student building a YouTube channel, had a bit of a business on the side, and when I started making videos about productivity and my productivity desk setup rather than my gaming desk setup, those started to take off. And eventually people started calling me a productivity guru, and I was like, "Damn, that's interesting."

Russell Brunson:
I'm a guru.

Ali:
I'm a guru. Yeah, I'm like that scammer, Russell Brunson.

Podcast Intro:
In the last decade, I went from being a startup entrepreneur to selling over a billion dollars in my own products and services online. This show is going to show you how to start, grow, and scale a business online. My name is Russell Brunson and welcome to the Marketing Secrets Podcast.

Russell:
What's up everybody? Welcome back to the Marketing Secrets Podcast. Today I've got a super cool guest. We just finished an interview and I got a lot of insane value for myself out of it. He's someone who is one of the biggest YouTube experts in the world and probably the biggest productivity expert in the world right now. His name's Ali Abdaal, and what's fascinating about him is his story. He started reading my emails back when he was 13 years old, then he went and became a medical doctor, and now he's a productivity expert on YouTube, and it's just a fascinating story. During this interview, he goes deep into a whole bunch of ways on actually how to structure your videos, your content, how to set up your filming days, a whole bunch of really, really powerful things. Things to tell yourself before you film any video to make sure the video is going to be great.

And then we had some really cool philosophy conversations as well about life and about business and about everything. So I hope you enjoyed this interview. It was really, really fun to do. So that said, let's jump right into the podcast.

All right everyone, I'm excited to be here today with Ali Abdaal and you're in Boise, Idaho. First off, why in the world are you in Boise?

Ali:
Yeah, Boise, Idaho is a random place. I'm here to speak at the Convert Kit Craft and Commerce conference thing. And then randomly I met someone called Molly at another conference where I was speaking at Adcon in London and she mentioned she lives in Boise. I was like, this is the second time I'm hearing of Boise Idaho, and she mentioned that you live in Boise. I was like, "What? Russell Brunson lives in Boise, Idaho? What is this Boise, Idaho place?" So now we're here, and were beginning to realize-

Russell:
And now you are here in Boise. What do you think about it so far? Is it-

Ali:
It's so nice. The weather's been amazing. Because of the London to hear jet lag, I've been waking up at five A.M. I'm going for a walk in one of the parks by Boise State University and walking along the river. It's just so nice. It's a good place to be.

Russell:
It's so cool. Okay, so kick us off though. I want to tell a story. I think it'll be fun, and then we'll get into some more questions I have for you specifically. But so I first bumped into your world on YouTube, started watching your videos. I love what you're doing, and I just connected that way through you. And then I think last year, or maybe two years ago, I can't remember, I messaged you about potentially speaking at one of our events and you wrote back and you're like, "Oh my gosh, I read your book", which I was like, "Oh my." It was super exciting for me. And then after that, every three or four months after that, I started random texts from people. In fact, I pulled one up today from people who saw you speaking somewhere. And in the video, if I can pull one up real quick, it makes me laugh. Oh yeah, okay, I'm going to show some Adcom last week, so I'll just play the clip and we'll show it and then we'll talk about, so here you.

Ali:
And so I had a chat with my CEO coach a couple of years ago and I was like, "Yeah, I don't feel like I know very much about marketing." He was like, "Well, have you read Russell Brunson's books?" I was like, "Well, that's scammer? No, of course not." And he was like, "Bro." And he took off his bookshelf the four books that Russell Brunson written and said, "Dealer Gold, read these right now." And I read that and I was like, "Holy. Oh, okay." So we've been making up as we went along because I'm going to make YouTube videos, but I suck at business because I didn't know what a funnel was. Didn't know what an upsell was. I didn't know what an order bump was. I didn't know what copyright was. I thought it was copyright, like the legal version of copyright.

Russell:
I'll stop it there. But it's funny, the text just comes in like, "Hey, this guy, oh, he's talking about you on stage. Oh man, he called you a scammer." And the next day, "Oh, but it's not really good." It was so funny. So before we started filming, we talked about this. So you said you got on my list when you were 13 years old.

Ali:
Literally ages ago when I was 12, 13, I was trying to get into the world of making money on the internet, and I came across affiliate marketing as a thing. This would've been in 2007 and eight time.

Russell:
So I've been 27. You were 13. It's crazy.

Ali:
Yeah. And I remember I signed up to your email list. I signed up to Neil Patel's email list, and there were a couple of other people. Trade Doubler was a thing at the time. There was like ClickBank and there-

Russell:
ClickBank was also from Boise, by the way.

Ali:
Oh, are they?

Russell:
Yeah. So there you go, Boise.

Ali:
So I was getting these emails. I remember that was back when you had to have an invite to have a Gmail account. And so I would just keep on getting these emails from Russell Brunson and the emails were always, I don't even remember, but at some point I decided that, oh, this guy's a scammer.

Russell:
Classified me as a scammer.

Ali:
Yeah, it's like a scam thing. And I didn't really think anything of it. And then I would hear your name come up over the next 17 years occasionally, and I would just associate it with those emails that I got when I was 13 years old and think, ah, whatever.

Russell:
And I was 27 years at a time. So it probably were more scammy. I don't know. I was just learning this game too back then.

Ali:
And then I had this conversation with my CEO coach two years ago. We were talking about what are the areas in the business that I need to improve on to level up as a leader? And I realized I knew nothing about sales and marketing 'cause I'd never read a book about sales and marketing, and he busted out your books. And I was like, "Wait a minute. Russell Brunson, that guy who email list had been on since the age of 13. What the?" And so I think it was in December of 2022 when I read .com Secrets for the first time and just my mind was just blown wide open. I was like, "Oh my God." I've been trying to sell stuff on the internet for 10 years at this point. I've never once read a book about sales and marketing. This is why my first business stalled because I just didn't know that you could actually make money by advertising things and having a funnel and doing an upsell.

And it was like I got a firmware update in my mind of, oh, there's all this new stuff that I never knew anything about. And so I read .com Secrets, I read Copywriting Secrets by your friend Jim, who I had a Zoom call with a few weeks ago randomly. He gave me some good advice. And I read a Hundred Million Dollars Offers by Hormozi, who is also one of your former students. And we applied all of the step-by-step method in .com Secrets and Hundred Million Dollar Offers and Copywriting Secrets. And previously our YouTuber Academy launches were doing like 400K revenue and our next one did $2 million revenue, $1.95 or something. And now I'm like an evangelist for .com Secrets, Copywriting Secrets, and a Hundred Million Dollars Offers. So thank you for writing those books.

Russell:
Well, thank you for reading them and apply them. It makes my day, so cool. So I'm going to go into your story then. I want to start back 13 years old. I know we'll jump in the timeline for, but you become a doctor. But before that 13 years old, what were you doing? Were you thinking about-

Ali:
Yeah, I was in school and I was trying to make money so that I could buy myself a laptop and then get an extra screen. And then my brother got into trying to make money online. And the way we were measuring our success was, man, if I could make 300 pounds or $400 this year, I can afford another monitor. And then maybe five years from now I'll be able to have a three monitor desk set up. So I saw you have a three monitor setup. I was very excited about that. So I was doing freelance web development and web design kind of aged 13 to 17 ish. And then every year I was trying to launch a new business idea.

I tried a forum to help teenagers learn secret spy skills like lock picking and hacking and stuff that completely flopped. I tried a MLM pyramid marketing type thing where I would get people to sign up for free trials of Blockbuster video and then refer their friends, and then if you refer 25 people, you'll win an Xbox 360. So I made about 50 pounds through that.

Russell:
I remember those offers, that’s cool.

Ali:
I tried building a game that was really hard.

Russell:
A video game?

Ali:
Yeah, like an online role playing text-based game.

Russell:
Were you a coder? You were coding it or just outsourcing it?

Ali:
No, I was trying to code it myself, and I was like 15 and I knew nothing about coding, so I was reading tutorials and there were books back in the day that would teach you how to code because there wasn't that much of an online coding tutorial ecosystem. And then randomly at the age of 18, just as in my summer before medical school, I ended up getting scammed out of my life savings because I tried buying a MacBook Air from some dude of Craigslist and he ended up selling me a defunct model. And so I'd been painstakingly trying to earn this thousand pounds that I got through private tutoring and through this web design stuff. And I lost all of that overnight and I was like, "Okay, I need a way of recouping this money."

So I made an Evernote doc back in 2012, which I still have, which says, "All right, how do I make money? What am I good at?" I said, well, I'm good at teaching things. I think I'm a reasonable teacher. I got into med school and did well in the exams and I'm good at making websites. So I was like, okay, what if I start a business that combines teaching making websites-

Russell:
Cross-section listing.

Ali:
And I was like, "Okay, cool. So I'm going to teach courses, teaching people how to get into med school and build a website that advertises those courses." And so that year I taught physical real life classroom courses at the age of 18, going to random hotel conference rooms up and down the UK, teaching kids how to get into med school. And I did that for five years. And so while I was in med school, first year we did like 10 K revenue. Next year we did 80, then we did 150, and we stalled at 150 K revenue and 150 K revenue. I was doing like 40 K profit, 50 K profit, which in the UK is how much a doctor earns full time. So when I was in med school, I felt really rich 'cause I was like earning 40 K a year.

Russell:
This is like they're paying to come to these events or the events you would sell a course or how did-

Ali:
Yeah, so it would be a one-day course like, "Hey, you sign up to the beam out to crash course" is this medical exam. And so I'd show up to that with 30 booklets printed that I wrote and got printed and bound, and I would be at the front of the classroom teaching a course with a whiteboard of how to think about critical thinking questions and the maths questions and stuff. And so five years into this, we saw our revenue stalled at 150, and I thought, you know what? I need more people to buy my stuff. If I make YouTube videos and if I teach people how to get into med school, maybe some percentage of people will think I'm legit. And they'll then sign up to my physical classroom course and rock up to event space in London where I'm going to teach the thing. And I now know this is called organic content marketing, but I had no idea that that was a thing back in the day. I just decided to start my YouTube channel based on that.

Russell:
How many years ago was that then?

Ali:
That was in 2017, so seven years ago now. And then ended up selling that business two years later for very little money and just focusing all in on the YouTube stuff.

Russell:
Yeah, so cool. And then how long of a season were you doing medical school and did you practice as a doctor? What happened? How long was that?

Ali:
Yeah, so I started my YouTube channel in 2017. That was in my final year of med school. So I did one year of med school, then two years of practicing as a doctor, and then 2020 pandemic hit. And I intended to go to Australia to do some emergency medicine and stuff, but they closed their borders. And so I accidentally ended up becoming a full-time YouTuber. And that was when loads of people kept asking the comments like, "Hey, how did you grow this YouTube channel?" 'Cause I had a million subscribers at that time, and I thought, okay, why don't I make a course? And that was how I got into the course creation world.

Russell:
The info business.

Ali:
The info business. Initially it was going to be like a $200 thing 'cause I had so much imposter syndrome. I was like, "I've only got 1.2 million subscribers. What the hell do I have to teach?" And then some friends, Tiago Forte and David Perrel who run life cohort courses said, "What if you charged two grand?" I was like, "Oh, I've never charged two grand for anything", and had all this fear. And then I took their advice, I charged the two grand, and basically in a week we expected 12 people to sign up for a beta testing cohort. In the end, 350 people signed up and we made $250,000 in a week, which would've been five years worth of salary, working full-time as a doctor in the UK. And I was like, Oh, okay.

Russell:
I see it now. I see it.

Ali:
I see it now. And then it took another two years to discover .com Secrets and realize, oh, okay, there's more efficient ways to sell this course.

Russell:
That's cool. So the transition from you teaching how to get into medical school to doing what you do now, was it the same YouTube channel you transitioned or is it like you stopped and started over?

Ali:
No, it was the same YouTube channel. So I remember having this debate with myself back in the day where I was, because my company was called 6Med, 6 M-E-D. And I thought, do I want to start a YouTube channel under the brand name or under my personal name? And I watched and read a load of stuff about this, and basically the consensus was people follow individuals rather than brands. So I thought, okay, cool. Let me just put it under my own name. So the early videos on the channel actually are me trying to sing songs. I thought I was going to be a music YouTuber back in the day. I realized

Russell:
We're still there. If you scroll back, you can see them?

Ali:
They're still there.

Russell:
Oh man, that's amazing. We should insert some right now.

Ali:
To me, rolling in the day. And I know how to save a life. Yeah, well, one of them I even unlisted. It was me trying to sing Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran. Take me into your loving arms. And it got three dislikes and one like back in 2016. I was like, okay, I'm not meant for this. I only actually republished it on the channel a couple of weeks ago when I felt sufficiently confident.

Russell:
I've had success then, I can show my failures.

Ali:
I'm like, okay, I can show my failures. So initially the videos were about how to get the music stuff, and then I started doing this med school stuff, and then very quickly I realized that the audience is growing, each day I'm getting one or two new subscribers. People are asking me for not just how to get into med school, but also how I study for my exams, and oh, they've seen that. I take notes on an iPad, so let me talk about that.

Oh, they've seen that. I seem to have good work-life balance. Let me talk about that. And by just following what people wanted from me, my channel then sort of evolved away from just helping kids get into med school and more towards generally advice for students and then advice for life. But I also had in the back of my mind almost from day one that if I want to take YouTube seriously, I can't only make videos aimed at students because I will age out of that very quickly. And I try to figure out, okay, what does longevity look like on YouTube?

Because most YouTubers don't have a lot of longevity. Like most YouTubers who are big today weren't big 10 years ago except in a couple of niches. In the niche of tech, for example, the tech YouTubers who are big today, MKBHD, iJustine, Linus, tech Tips, they were all big 10 years ago. So it seems like in tech and in certain other niches, getting older actually gives you more authority rather than less. Whereas lifestyle YouTubers, they have a sell by date student YouTubers, they have a sell by date. So I was like, I need to get out of the student market ASAP and move more towards things that I can see myself doing for the long term, which is how I ended up accidentally becoming a productivity guru.

Russell:
There ever a conscious thing, productivity is going to be the thing or just it morphed.

Ali:
It sort of morphed. The word productivity didn't come into it until I just kept seeing that word in the comments being like, "Oh, you're so productive. You're so productive. How are you so productive?" I was like, "Yeah, I guess I'm productive. I was a medical student, building a YouTube channel, had a bit of a business on the side", and when I started making videos about productivity and my productivity desk set up rather than my gaming desk setup, those started to take off. And eventually people started calling me a productivity guru, and I was like, "Damn, that's interesting."

Russell:
I'm a guru.

Ali:
I'm a guru. Yeah, I'm like that scammer, Russell Brunson guy. And I ended up being this productivity guru and then a few years later where a publisher approached me to write a book, they were like, well, you're a productivity expert, so you should write about productivity. I was like, "I'm a productivity expert. Really?" Okay, if you say so. And now-

Russell:
Isn't it fascinating how you view yourself versus how the market views yourself? I've had similar things in my career where it's just like, huh, I had no idea. That's how people perceive me.

Ali:
Yeah.

Russell:
What was that like for you? Well, being a scammer apparently. No, just kidding. But I think for me it was, it's similar. It's shifted over the years, the most recent one, more. So it's like people that draw my inner circle now, it's fascinating. I always think they're coming to me, they want funnels and marketing and stuff, and they do. That's the gateway to get some in. But then when we do open Q&A's, our big events and stuff like that, no one ever ask me a marketing question ever. It's always something like lifestyle. How do you have a family and a marriage and a business? How do you do? Those are all the things people want to know is the thing behind the thing and not the thing. Does that make sense? Always fascinates me. And the videos I do or stuff, I talk more about that, those ones do better than let me show you how to sell a thousand copies of your book a day. It's just fascinating.

Ali:
Yeah, I was thinking about this in the car ride on the way here around how I think when gurus are smaller, the advice has to be very tactical, whereas as you get bigger and more successful, actually the advice becomes less about the tactics and much more about the philosophies. Now if I watch your stuff, I care a lot more personally about how you're managing all of this and oh, work life balance and all this sort of stuff 'cause you've got that success now that I just trust that you can now give me life advice, not just business advice. And I'm finding it for myself now. When I give talks, I am still in tactical mode and people like the tactical stuff, but then when I take a step back and start philosophizing, then people really hang onto my words and I'm like, "Holy, I can now talk-

Russell:
I'm a philosopher.

Ali:
I'm a philosopher, I'm a philosopher guru. I can now talk about bigger picture things and people are listening now. Whereas if you're a YouTuber with three subscribers and you start trying to give people life advice, it's not really going to land.

Russell:
Who are you?

Ali:
You have to tell people how to use ClickFunnels and then that gets you a certain base and now you can start giving life away.

Russell:
Yeah. It's interesting too. I'm sure you've heard the phrase, "You never want to meet your heroes in life", and I think this is why this happens is a lot of times you'll find somebody who you connect with them on one part of something they value. So productivity or marketing, and you follow that person, they become your hero, you look up to them, and then the problem is everyone's got multiple values and when you meet the person that you have values that don't align, that's when people freak out and they're like, ah, it's interesting.

So I think even Dan Kennedy, he's my first mentor, I bought his company, I love the guy, and we align on the business values so strong, but then other values in life, we do not connect at all. But I have to love him for the values we share and not just like him for the values we don't share, but most people struggle with that, you know what I mean? And so that's the scary thing because you'll start seeing that as you start getting... You know this, but for people listening, you start getting bigger and more people start following you. They start wanting all these other things. And that's where a lot of the hate starts coming as like, oh, well I followed you for funnels, but I didn't know that you believe this and it's like this weird thing. So it's kind of a double-edged sword sometimes.

Ali:
Yeah, I find it really hard to figure out. So for example, I attended a couple of Tony Robbins events last year and I thought they were phenomenal. And I mentioned in my newsletter, and I had so many responses being like, I can't believe you're promoting Tony Robbins. And I was like, "What?" And then I Googled it, and watched a bunch of YouTube. YouTube. I was like, oh, okay. Tony Robbins had all this stuff about him that I just had no idea of, but I still got loads of value from the events. And even mentioning it now, there's part of me that's like, oh, people are going to watch this and think, and it's like the thing around, I think people expect that if you're recommending someone's stuff, that you also then endorse literally everything they've ever done and will ever do. And especially if someone has a very long career, you are probably not massively proud of the stuff you did at age 27 in terms of 27 emails. Yeah, I'm Embarrassed, please delete those. So I don't know, I think it's a tricky one.

Russell:
Yeah, definitely. Interesting. So was the first... Did you have a video pop, this first one took off that, you know what I'm talking about. 'Cause there something that was like, you're doing stuff and all of a sudden something hit and it was like, oh my gosh. For me, I had certain funnels. I was struggling in one hit where it's like, "Oh my gosh, that was the thing that changed the career and changed the trajectory. Was there a certain video or something that they hit for you?"

Ali:
There actually was, and I still somewhat proud of myself that this was vaguely intentional. So in my third year of uni, this was 2015 way before I started the YouTube channel, I got really into the science of effective learning and how to study for exams in an effective or productive way, although I didn't use the word productive-

Russell:
You got to use that word now.

Ali:
I know, I've got to start using that word. And I decided to just hold a talk at, I was part of the Islamic Society, and so there was a prayer room that would hold 10 people and I said, hey, I'm going to do a talk for the students in the year below teaching you how to study for your exams effectively 'cause I was into this stuff and I created a Facebook event and that Facebook event went viral around the university and it got 28,000 impressions and 3000 people clicked attending on this event in this tiny prayer room at Cambridge, which is the university I went to.

So we had to then hire a big lecture theater and stuff, and a few hundred people showed up for this talk and I just gave a talk about how to study for exams and people were like, "Oh my God, this is amazing. No one's ever taught me this before." So then three years later when I decided to start my YouTube channel, I had in the back of my mind, I want to make a bang of video about how to study for exams effectively, but it cannot be video number one because I don't know how to make videos. I'm going to make a hundred videos and then this is going to be video number 100, and hopefully in that time I'll get good at the craft of making videos. In the end, that video ended up being video number 81, and around that same time I had landed a collab with this other bigger YouTuber and I was like, okay, the stars have aligned.

I've got this collab with this bigger YouTuber, I've got this video in my back pocket where I've validated demand for this idea 'cause the Facebook event went viral and people loved it. So let me pull out all the stops so I didn't rock up to my medical school placements for a week just working on this one video thinking, okay, this is my chance to go viral. And that video went viral and it's now got 8 million views or something like that. And that was the thing where I was like, "Oh, okay, now we've got trajectory here." That was one video that took off. The second video that took off was also a little bit intentional in that this was around video number 100. I'd seen a video on YouTube called, titled something like, "How I take notes on My iPad Pro as an engineer", and that video had 2 million views and that channel had a hundred thousand subscribers.

I was like, huh, it's weird for a channel with a hundred thousand subscribers to have 2 million views. So something about this topic is interesting, and I thought, I mean, I've got an iPad Pro, what if I do a video called "How I take notes on my iPad Pro as a medical student?" Let's see what happens. And then boom, that video went viral and now this is a strategy we teach in our YouTube Academy, viral replication. The easiest way to go viral is to do your own take on something that has already gone viral. So instead of engineer student, I was like, being a medical student is more cool, no offense to any engineers, so let me just do that video in my own way. And that video went viral. So we've tried to, I mean it's not a hundred percent success rate strategy obviously, but our first two big hits were actually those intentional approach to viral videos.

Russell:
That's really fascinating. I'm going to walk through your process. I want to get tactical for a minute and then we'll come back to some philosophy.

Ali:
And then I have loads of questions for you 'cause I want to ask you questions about how do we scale from five to 10 million.

Russell:
That part's easy. Funnels and ads, easy? Yeah. This organic thing is way more confusing for me. So obviously you've gone through this and you've been doing this channel for a long time, but you've also worked with a lot of people who are starting channels. So for people who are listening who are like, "Hey, I want to do organic", what are the first things they should be focusing on to actually start a YouTube channel to get it kicked off the ground to get things happening. Even for me, my biggest frustration was, we talked about this earlier, the ads are easy. I turn an ad and I get a million views, I post my first YouTube video, I get eight views and it's just like, ugh. What's the beginning phases and stages that someone should be thinking about as they're jumping into it?

Ali:
Yeah, that's a really good question. I think it depends on what game you want to play where we go into two roots. Are we trying to play the famous game or are we trying to play the, I want to make money game. So I guess with your audience, it's probably the make money game. They probably want to drive leads towards some sort of offer rather than trying to get famous as it were. Now, the way that you get famous is by trying to make very broadly applicable viral videos that appeal to large amounts of people so that you get followers and stuff, like the Mr. Beast approach. It's a very different approach to YouTube than what I do, for example. What I would generally recommend, and it comes down to basic marketing stuff, which you talk about in your books as well, is figure out who's the target avatar, figure out what's the value proposition, figure out what are their pain points, and then figure out what's the free content I can make that targets those pain points, which then ideally direct people to my funnel.

Russell:
It brings it back to your solution.

Ali:
Yeah, I think the YouTubers I know who have the most fun are the ones who are not trying to make money from YouTube. They're the ones who are using YouTubers lead generation for their own products, their own offers, their own funnels. I know YouTubers with millions of subscribers who make a hundred grand from a sponsored video, but that video has to get 2 million views, otherwise the sponsor is going to reduce their rates and then they won't be able to pay their team. And so there's all this pressure of every video has to get at least a million views. That is so hard to do. It's so hard to get everybody to get at least a million views. It becomes harder every year because every year there's more people on the platform. Things become more saturated and more competitive. I think it's so much nicer for people in our space, if you've got your offer and you're using YouTube to drive leads for that offer.

Russell:
Definitely. Let me think. You're not doing any paid strategies on your channel, right? I am asking because when I first launched on YouTube, we had our YouTube organic and we were buying ads on the same channel and it jacked up all of our videos. And so someone told us, don't run ads on the same channel you're running content on. So we had to pull it off and separate it 'cause it somehow messing up the algorithm where none of our organic stuff would work anymore.

Ali:
So we don't do it, but I know a couple of people who do and they swear by it. So I know three YouTubers who have 2 million plus subscribers who all run ads to their own videos and they say it's been really, really good. I'm still scared to do it because I don't want to up our crown jewel, which is our YouTube channel. And I gave a talk at Google a few weeks ago and I spoke to our YouTube channel manager who asked this question, and what she said is, she said that right now the organic algorithm and the paid algorithm are completely separate. So in theory, if you run ads to a beauty channel, it shouldn't screw up organic. But I'm still so scared to do it because I don't want to get burned by my channel suddenly dying and being like, "Oh my goodness-

Russell:
I killed the goose, away the gold eggs.

Ali:
That's the one. Actually on that note, we literally call the YouTube channel our goose, and so we have a goose system, which is our process for creating YouTube videos. And one of the big things that my team optimizes for is we sort of think of me and the YouTube channel as the goose. We're like, collectively, me and the YouTube channel are the goose that lays the golden eggs and we want to make sure the goose is happy. And so it's about getting that balance between making sure that I'm making videos that I feel proud of and that's stuff I want to make content about, not just the stuff that will work or will go viral. And I think there's always this interesting balance between the soul of the content and the statistics of the content. If every video becomes is clickbait title listicle, trying to drive growth and engagement, it starts to lose a little bit of personality.

And I think personality and a lot of the feel good factor of a YouTube channel comes from the under optimized stuff. So yesterday while walking around the local park in Boise, I decided to film a video using my little handheld DJI pocket camera, and it ended up being a half an hour video about my advice to someone who's dealing with perfectionism. Now, that's a pretty under optimized video, but we're going to put it out on the channel anyway because we know that it adds a dose of soul. And plus I felt good filming the video. So we're always doing this balancing act between the enjoyment of the process and doing the thing that we think will work. And sometimes a video that I would've had no idea would do well ends up doing really well and people really connect to it. So I think, yeah, it's always this interesting balancing act between the stats and the soul.

Russell:
Yeah, I've had that issue with ours because in the past we've had some channel managers for us who are doing stuff and they're like, same thing, they're finding videos that are going viral, sending me, and the ones they were sending me were always the scammy ones. I made a million dollars in 25 seconds. I'm like, make one this, it'll go viral. I'm like, I don't want to make that video, the video sounds... You know what I mean? That was the hardest thing. And then I'd create stuff I wanted to, and it was tough 'cause they don't give as many views, but it's like, this is what I actually want to talk about. This is what's important to me. And so I've definitely struggled with that, trying to know how do you, the ratio even or finding good stuff.

Ali:
No, it really is a balancing act. I think also in our space, there's optimizing for views and then there's optimizing for the right sort of views. So Hormozi found this with their content recently when they did very broad click-baity stuff, they would get more views, but those weren't business owners. They wanted to attract business owners. And I stopped watching Hormozi's content a few months ago 'cause it was just like, it's not for me.

Russell:
Weightlifting stuff-

Ali:
All that random stuff.

Russell:
How to be huge.

Ali:
Whereas two weeks ago they switched to pure business stuff and now I'm a Hormozi fan again and I'm watching everything. I'm listening to it at double speed, I'm sending it to my team. And they've realized that by under optimizing their view count, they're actually getting the right sort of views. And so I think if you're optimizing for just views, you end up doing how to make your first 10 K a month as a teenager type content, which is going to get millions of views just because-

Russell:
But you're not teenagers.

Ali:
But if you're trying to target people who are seven figure business owners trying to go to eight or nine, there's way less of them, but they're also the sorts of people that would go to your inner circle, for example. So it's that balancing act.

Russell:
Now after you post a video, do you do any promotional things or do you just post it and let the algorithm do the work or what's that part of it look like for you?

Ali:
Yeah, we pretty much just let the algorithm do the work. We have tried all sorts of things. We have never seen any transformation of any sort of movement from viewers, from any social platform to YouTube. All roads have just led to just focus on making a really good video and let the algorithm take care of it. The algorithm is really good. It is very good at finding the right person-

Russell:
As an ad’s person, it’s so frustrating. I want to send emails and text messages. How are we... So proud of the video, I want everyone to see it, but the times we've tried stuff, it hasn't worked. I was hoping there's some secret you got.

Ali:
There was this YouTubers conference I went to in Valencia a couple of years ago, and I was sitting on the plane, I was sitting next to a guy who had 20 million subscribers who was a gaming YouTuber, who was doing daily content for 10 years and was like a decamillionaire from these gaming videos. And I was just mining him for advice. It's like, how often do you sit next to a guy with 20 million subscribers? And he said that the way he thinks about the content is I'm not making a video for my subscribers right now. I'm making a video for the person three years from now who has no idea who I am and who will see this on their homepage. And so that's his mindset when creating the content. And I thought that was really nice because when we think about, well, when I think about, oh, how do I make a video for my audience right now, I'm actually just blink.

I then think, well, I can't repeat myself. I made a video about that in 2019, and so maybe my fans, my audience will know that I made that video. On average, an average viewer on my channel watches three videos. I've made 900 videos. And so by switching that mindset from views right now to, I'm optimizing for the three-year-long tail view count of this video in the hope that the right sorts of people find it and get value from it and maybe go into one of my funnels. That to me takes a lot of the pressure off. How many views did it get in the last seven days?

Russell:
That's really interesting. Yeah, I was going to ask you about how you get content ideas and stuff, but that's a big thing because I'm very similar. I've said this story three times, I never want to talk about it again, but you could bring it back.

Ali:
Yeah, I mean, I think we all can repeat ourselves way more than we do, and especially, so I would ask you, who are the sorts of people you're trying to attract for your YouTube channel?

Russell:
For me, it's people who are in business. I don't want the beginner beginners. There's too much. They bought someone else's course, they figured out, they did the first thing, they got something to sell, and the next phase is like, well, I like it where it's like, kind of like you, you come in, it's like, I've got some, make some money. Cool. We can light it on fire. Let's build a funnel, drive some traffic. So those are ideal people. They have a business but not, I'd say they're probably make six figures and below, that window is where I want to find people then we can take them in. It's easier to take someone from good to great than from nothing to good. You know what I mean?

Ali:
Yeah, sure.

Russell:
So someone have to do good business.

Ali:
So you want someone who's doing at least 10 K a month in revenue or five K a month or something like that?

Russell:
Anywhere in that window is great. Yeah.

Ali:
Nice. Yeah. So yeah, I think then when it comes to ideas, trying to optimize views will take you towards a beginner camp, which is not where you want to be.

Russell:
It's all the biz off one scandal. "Hey, make a video like this." "No, I don't want you, so"

Ali:
I've been on and off tracking your YouTube channel recently because it's like, "Oh, Russell Brunson is taking YouTube seriously. This is interesting to see what happens. And you've done a few videos that are seven ways to make your first 10 K online type stuff, and I'm not going to click on that. I'm like whatevs. But I can't remember, I think it was about a year ago, there was some more philosophical stuff that I felt was really targeted at me as a business owner, and that made me have so much goodwill towards you. I was like, oh man, this Russell guy is so cool. Of course, I read his book,.I thought the book was saved, but now seeing you on video helped me build that parasocial relationship with you, where now I feel a bit starstruck coming here. I've been like, oh shit. I hang out with Russell Brunson and that video almost certainly has fewer reviews than your beginner-y aimed ones. So I think the thing I would encourage you for whatever it's worth is keep your target audience in mind and do stuff for them and don't think so hard about the views.

Russell:
Yeah, okay. That gives me really excited.

Ali:
I think also the nice thing, the algorithm is so good. If you only made content aimed at people already doing 10 K a month and trying to get them to seven figures or six or seven or eight figures, whatever the thing might be, the algorithm would then find other people who are like them. But if you then do videos aimed at complete beginners, the algorithm is going to be a bit confused. Like, oh, okay. And now the channel is going to lose some of its traction, and it's like in the short term, you have to be totally okay with just sticking to your lane in terms of your target audience and just making stuff that's really applicable to them. And what I've seen with a bunch of my YouTuber friends is like the video gets no views, no views, no views. A year later suddenly starts to take off because now the algorithm has enough data to realize, oh, this is the sort of person who this sort of video is appealing to. And then the channel really starts to grow, but it's really playing the long game.

Russell:
Yeah, interesting. So you say you're doing 900 videos for your channel?

Ali:
Something like that, of which 700 are probably long form and 200 are probably shorts.

Russell:
Yeah. So what's your publishing schedule? How often are you, do you post it?

Ali:
Yeah, so we film once a week and we publish twice a week. So on each filming day, I aim to film at least two videos, but last week I actually filmed five because I realized I could just lower the bar and talk about stuff without feeling as if I had to prepare so hard for it. So now I'm excited to aim to film five videos each filming session.

Russell:
Okay. So to do that, are you doing the rest of the week, you're doing prep work for it or you just... How much, what's it look like? Give us a week in your life from the YouTube business. I want to see how, because I'm still trying to figure how to optimize it. For me, it's very much hit and go where I'll do a bunch of videos and for four weeks I do nothing, and then the teams freaking out, they're out of videos. I'm like, God, I got to quick be creative, and I haven't figured out the cadence yet to make it consistent.

Ali:
Nice. So we've run the whole gamut on trying to find a process that works for this whole thing with too many team members, too few team members, just me, the whole shebang. The thing we've landed on is one filming day every week, where it's just all day. So my producer, Tintin, will rock up at nine A.M. with a coffee for me, and then we'll chat a little bit and he'll tell me, "Okay, Ali, the first video we're filming today, the title is My Honest Advice for Someone Who Wants to Grow on YouTube. That's the video." And then I'll think, okay, cool. What do I want to do this video about? Then I'll come up with the three or four bullet points and we'll film that video.

Russell:
It's all happening in the filming day, the idea of the concept?

Ali:
We actually have a whole five level process for this. It's niche, but sure. So level one video is one where I just get given the title by my team because I don't like thinking about titles 'cause that's the click-baity side where I'm like, okay. I just get given the title and I'm just going to hit record and just speak. So actually my highest performing performing video of this year was one of those. It was completely randomly. A level two video is one where I get given a title and then I think about it for 10 minutes and write down three to five bullet points. My whole stick these days is I only need to say three things in the video. If I say more than three things, the video gets really long, it becomes overwhelming, people can't retain it. So I'm just going to say three to five things.

A level three video is where we've got a title and we're like, okay, five steps to becoming more disciplined. I'm like, okay, well, I can think of five things, but actually for thing number three and four, oh, there was that study that I came across a few years ago. Can we go and find that study that backs up this point over there and can we find that study that backs up that point? And then one of our researchers will, well, one researcher on the team will go through and find that study and we'll say, study from 2017. Here's the link, study from Harvard. Here's what it found. Here's the graph. So I'll have that in front of me when I'm filming the video to then be able to say, oh, this study found blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. A level four video is a video usually when I do a podcast.

So what I would love to do with this conversation is we'll chop out sound bites of you saying stuff, and then the team will construct a video based on those sound bites. So a cool example of this is I interviewed a professor of circadian biology at Oxford a few years ago, Professor Russell Foster. He's written a book about circadian science. That was a three-hour-long interview. No one cares. It got like 20,000 views. But then we decided to take sound bites from that because he said some really good stuff and turned it into a main channel YouTube video where the title was, "Why You're Always Tired. Seven Myths Ruining Your Sleep." And that video has got 7 million views. And it was just a 15-minute-long video with sound bites interspersed with me just explaining stuff throughout. And that was really cool. That's a level four video.

And a level five video is one that's fully scripted word-for-word, where I read it off a teleprompter. I hate filming level five videos 'cause I hate talking to a teleprompter, but most of my videos are level two where I'll get given a title. We'll think about it. Sometimes my producer will give me a title that's a bit too click-baity. I'll be like, "Oh, let's soften the title a little bit because I don't like it. It doesn't feel right." Come up with three bullet points and I'll just speak from the heart and say the thing.

Russell:
That's amazing. You talked about the podcast, got 20,000 views, and you said the other one you posted the main channel. Do you have different channels in?

Ali:
Yeah, so we had a different channel for the podcast and for the main. This was because I started my podcast three years ago. Now YouTube has its own podcasting feature. So if I were to start a podcast today, I would put them on the same channel, assuming it's the same audience, same audience, same channel.

Russell:
Yeah. That's so cool. And then average length for most of your videos then?

Ali:
So our videos are kind of annoyingly long, like 25 minutes, 30 minutes, 35 minutes. One thing that I've been working on with my CEO coach is to reduce that time. So an experiment we're doing for the month of June is, well, what does it look like to do 15 minute long videos and only film for half an hour rather than filming for 90 minutes, which is just a way heavier lift. And I think-

Russell:
So you film 90 minutes to get a 30-minute thing?

Ali:
Yeah. Or 90 minutes to get an hour long thing, or 90 minutes to get a 45-minute thing. A lot of our videos take 90 minutes to film, but they really don't need to. And I filmed in the five that I filmed last week, two of them took under half an hour. And actually one method that we found is quite interesting, which you might want to experiment with, is where my producer sits behind the camera and is just asking me questions. And it's like I'm being on a podcast. I don't know if you find this, but I find that when I'm on a podcast or if I'm on stage, I say stuff. I'm like, where did that come from? That was interesting.

Russell:
Or your script is like-

Ali:
Yeah, when I'm scripted, when I'm speaking to a camera, it takes the energy out of it. So we're trying to mimic the podcast format where Tintin would ask me, "Okay, Ali, why is discipline really important? I would say, "Okay, so discipline is really important because blah, blah, blah." And I would come out with some good stuff. And he'd be like, "Okay, what is your best tip for someone who's really struggling with discipline?" So if you're really struggling with discipline, my best tip is going to be to whatever. And so he hits like an interview, and then obviously we cut out the questions.

Russell:
You restate the question so you can cut it out.

Ali:
Exactly. And then it comes out as a really nice video. It's more targeted because he's asking me the questions and keeping my answers in mind. He's thinking the audience. He's like, okay, what if someone is watching this and they're 25 and they're super overwhelmed and they have a day job? How would they apply this thing that you've just said? And I'm like, "Oh, interesting. I wouldn't have thought of that had you not asked the question." And so we're doing a bunch of videos in this Q&A format where it just feels as if I'm just speaking directly to the camera.

Russell:
Yeah, that's really cool. Interesting. Do you do reels as well? Are you using those at all on YouTube or not?

Ali:
Yeah, so we do YouTube shorts and also publish them on Instagram.

Russell:
All the reels are different, yeah.

Ali:
And then we also copy and paste them on TikTok. We've got a few different formats. One of them is where my team will give me just the hook i.e. the first line. So for example, a team member will say to me, "Okay, Ali, this next video, the first line is here are three books that will change how you think about money." I think about it, I'm like, "Here are three books that will change how you think about money. Firstly, .com Secrets by Russell Brunson, amazing guy. Secondly, the Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel, amazing book, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Thirdly, the Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Check him out. That's a short, and we'll do 40 of those in two hours, and then boom, that's content for the next three months.

Russell:
Okay. That's awesome. Dude, this is for me personally, because in the middle of trying to figure this out, all those things were so helpful.

Ali:
Nice. I'm glad.

Russell:
So thank you for that. Hope I can help you with your ads next.

Ali:
Great.

Russell:
No, but that's really, really cool. So now can step back from tactical and just strategic or more philosophy. What's your long-term goal? What is your vision? What are you trying to, I think everyone gets started. I'm going to create these things, but eventually you asked me the question backstage, you've got enough money now, why are you still doing this? I'm curious for you. You've got viewers, you've got things happening. What's the long term, the plan for you more so?

Ali:
Yeah, I think about this a lot and I'd love to get your take on this, which is why I asked you that question 'cause I'm always intrigued by people who are further ahead of me on the journey that I'm on. It's like what's driving them? Because one thing that I realized back when I was in med school is that when I looked at doctors who were 10 years ahead of me in their careers, they were all miserable. I was like, okay, I don't want to end up like that. But when I look at entrepreneurs who have good work-life balance and stuff, who are 10 years ahead of me in their careers, they seem to be chilling and having a good time. So I'm like, oh, okay, that's interesting. What can I learn from the people who are rich and seemingly happy, which you seem to fall into that camp rather than the people who are rich and really miserable.

So I think about it a lot. For me, a question I often ask myself is, if I had a hundred million in the bank, how would I spend my time? And what I land on is I'd still make YouTube videos 'cause it's fun. I still write books every few years 'cause it's fun. I probably wouldn't do online courses, but I would do stuff in real life. I really like events. I like the idea of doing seminars and teaching people how to be more productive and plan their goals and stuff. So I do YouTube videos. I would do books. I would do events. And that to me is like my infinite game. And now when I wake up in the morning, I remind myself that I actually do have enough money. I don't need to make more. I'm choosing to show up to work, to build cool products and make cool videos because it's the thing that I would do even if I wasn't being paid for it and so in that sense, it's more of a process goal I guess.

It's like I just want to be able to do more of this stuff. Then alongside this, the Game of entrepreneurship goal. We did 5 million revenue last year, why not? Let's go for 10. It'll just be kind of fun. But I feel like I'm quite non-attached to that goal. And so when I come to places like this where I meet someone like you and I'm like, "Okay, Russell, how do we get from five to 10?" But that's like the game I'm playing Horizon for Midwest on the PS5. I play on very hard difficulty 'cause it's a good level of difficulty. Once I've done that, I might switch to ultra hard. So just to me, it feels like playing the game of entrepreneurship-

Russell:
Well enough each time. Yeah.

Ali:
Yeah. I'm curious, what's it like for you?

Russell:
So for me, I couldn't explain it for a long time. And then I remember my first time I had a conversation with Tony Robbins, we were talking about earlier, he told me, because he's got tons of big businesses, but he told me, he's like, "I don't consider myself an entrepreneur. He's like, I'm an artist and this is my art, but for me to do my art at the scale I want to do", he's like, "I had to learn business and entrepreneurship so I can get my art out there." And I honestly, it's weird for me because a lot of people think I'm very entrepreneurial and I am, but for me, entrepreneurship is my art. The reason I wrote write my books is because it wasn't just like, I'm going to make a lead magnet to sell this so I can sell click phones.

It was like, no, I spent 20 years obsessed with funnels, looking at them, diagramming, thinking about them, doodling, things that just became obsessed. And then the book was the art where it's like this chapter in my life now it's art that I can give to somebody. Expert Secrets the same way, I took all the stuff I learned about selling and storytelling and stuff like that and put it in a thing. Traffic secrets, all my things. It's always, it's art for me. And so for me, it's just like I'm painting my next picture. What's the next thing of art I'm doing right? ClickFunnels has been art, but it's been a decade doing this. So right now you saw a little glimpse, but I bought 18,000 books and manuscripts in the last two years old first editions. And for me it's like this is my next art project I'm working on and I don't know exactly what's going to look like yet, but there's something there and I'm gathering stuff and repurposing and change, and there's something there.

And I'm trying to create the next art piece. And so that gets me excited. There's this thing I'm painting, I don't even know what it looks like yet. I've got some of it done, but a lot of it's still blurry, but I'm excited to see where it's going to go. And so I think that's what gets me excited. And then the business around, it's just the way that I support, I can monetize it. It helps me to buy really old expensive books and manuscripts and stuff like that. It's the necessary thing to make it. And then eventually I want, when I discover what this art is looking like, I'm excited to share it and to talk about new events and the next phase. And so for me, it's a big art project.

Ali:
Oh, that's really fun. That's a really nice wholesome way of looking at it. I've not thought of it in that framing before, but that also really resonates with me. I feel like for me, and I guess maybe similar to you, my art is teaching. Whenever I sometimes think of the question, what would I want written on my tombstone? And I always land on some combination of good father, good husband and inspirational teacher. And it was actually doing that exercise back in 2019 that made me realize, oh, great doctor or amazing surgeon just wasn't on that list. Huh. That's interesting. I care more about being a teacher than I do about being a doctor. And that was the beginning of the end of my medical career-

Russell:
And I'm out.

Ali:
Yeah. It took me about two years to come to terms with that identity shift and then I was really out. I really like that. So for you, it's an art project. The business is a fun thing. You've got the team, it's in person. You could probably be more efficient if you had remote employees, but it's just way more fun in this sort of format.

Russell:
I get energy from people and all that kind of stuff. Yeah, for sure.

Ali:
That's super cool.

Russell:
Anyway, interesting. Actually, I don't know if Jake's still here. Jake's one of our designers, but he worked for five years designing tombstones for people. So I literally told them, I was like, one of your projects is you were going to design my... So I keep thinking about what's going to be on my tombstone, what's going to look like, because for me it's like I have areas of my life like father, husband, wrestler. So I think about that way too much. It's like, how am I going to have Jake design my tombstone someday? So anyway, you can have him design yours too if you want.

Ali:
So for you, how much do you care about legacy beyond your life versus just focusing on doing cool stuff and being a good dad and good husband while you're alive?

Russell:
So for me it's really big for a couple of reasons. I'm big into personality profiles and stuff. And when you do disc profile, they have one's called values or motivators. And my number one motivator is ROI, which I always thought meant return investment money, but it's like ROI on any situation. It is why I struggled in school, sitting in school, what's the return? I can't understand the return on this investment or things like that. And so for me, ROI is a big thing. And so honestly, the reason why I'm buying all these old books, the manuscript, Napoleon Hill stuff and everything like that is because I'm trying to figure out how to take their legacy because most authors die and then within the generation, they're forgotten forever. There's very few that live beyond it. And the ones who do usually through the written words, it's through books.

And then there's something in place. I'm trying to build something where I can bring Napoleon Hill, but also the other authors, no one's ever heard of or forgotten and bring them back to the foreground. I'm trying to extend their legacy. I bought Dan Kennedy, My Mentors Company, so I could extend his legacy and the selfish reason why I'm doing is 'cause I want to figure out whatever I have to build to be able to do that, I'll be able to use that same platform to extend my legacy. And then my big question, what's ROI on my life? Why was I here? If I am here and I experience I do all the stuff and I die and it disappears, what was the point of any of it? So I'm a hundred percent probably overly obsessed with that, the long-term, ROI of my own life and work and the art that I'm creating. So anyway, kind of weird, but

Ali:
When did that, were you always like that or did that happen at some point in your career?

Russell:
No, I don't think I was always like that. I think the first time I recognized it, I mean you've been watching me since two thousand… when ever. One time I was launching a new product every single week or we're launching a product, not launch product, make some money, then create. So I was launching stuff and then did other things. Then it would slow down and eventually we launched ClickFunnels. And ClickFunnels was interesting for me because it was the first business that really blew up that was just nine plus figures a year within three years. It was just like, "Holy cow, this is crazy." And then inside there, I still want to launch. I still create an art and launch because I created a course and it was crazy. You see the Stripe account and when you're at nine figures every single day, it's pretty awesome.

And then I did this big huge product launch coordinating. Everyone would do this thing, we launch it and you see a little blip and then it would keep going. And I was just like, I did all that work and I barely got a blip for two days and then nothing shifted. And it was like I got depressed. I'm like, my art doesn't actually matter now. And then over five or six years doing advanced doing stuff, the only thing that people ever came back to me was always my book. Like, dude, I read .com. Secrets, oh, I read Expert Secrets, I read... And I realized that the written word was the only thing that lasted beyond the blip, the moment, is the thing that... And so for me, that's when I started become obsessed with books and writing and other people's books and stuff because I was like, this is the vehicle that lasts beyond the life of the person is the written word.

Ali:
Oh, interesting. Yeah. For me, I landed on a similar conclusion, but not on the legacy front. I was trying to think long-term, what do I want for my career, et cetera. And I remembered the impact that the four-hour workweek had on me when I was 17 and just completely changed the trajectory of my life. And then also a little book by Austin Kleon called Show Your Work. And I was like, that also changed my life. And I can't remember any videos or podcasts that I've watched that have changed my life, but I can remember books. And so I thought when the publisher approached me saying, do you want to write a book? I was like, Hmm, if I can write a book and books over time that those really have the potential to change the trajectory of someone's life.

So in the same way that Tim Ferriss did for me with four-hour workweek, could I possibly do that for someone else? So that to me is a good reason to do the book think. Yeah, I just think people sit with the ideas more, and I haven't yet heard your book changed my life, but it's a long-term project over the next few decades that I'm excited, excited to explore.

Russell:
Are you working on the next one right now?

Ali:
I am exploring some ideas. I have a Ulysses file with 10 different book ideas, and I was thinking 11th one this morning. And at some point there'll be a critical mass of one of them where I'm be like, okay, let's focus on this one.

Russell:
That's the one.

Ali:
Yeah.

Russell:
Books are tough though, as I'm sure. For me it was, of all things I've done, that's the hardest. Every time I write a book I'm like, I'll never do this again. And then a year later after the first one's been selling books, you see the impact. I'm like, okay, I can do it again. He was actually hanging out with Brendan Burchard. Brendan told me, he's like, I do a book every other year for the rest of my life. And finally I was like, okay, I'm going to do the same thing. So of course it's been four years since my last book because I'm struggling with my next book. It's been a lot harder to write. But anyway.

Ali:
You mentioned in a video recently that you're working on the next one. Can you share more details about it publicly or is that a-

Russell:
Yeah, it's my first personal development book, which is what got me down this whole path of buying 18,000 books because personal development's meant the world to me, but don't want to write something that... I don't want to write somebody else has written. But I also want to understand it at a different level. You know how most experts are nowadays, they saw something on TikTok and they're regurgitating as their own the next week. I want to go back to the sources and figure out stuff. So that's the book, but man, it's turned into a bigger project. And also it's like when you start writing a book about success and personal development, then all the demons start coming up like, "Who are you to write this? Do you know about these things in your life?" If people find about this, it's like, yeah, I've been successful here, but not here. I struggle here anyway. So it's been an emotional hard journey for me to create.

Literally signed the contract, the publisher four years ago, and they messaged me yesterday again, they asked me if the manuscript is going to be submitted this month. I was like, I'm still in chapter one. So I'm just in this deep research phase. It's been super rewarding for me though, to go and read these things and see again what Napoleon Hill was writing a hundred years ago. What was Orison Swett Marden writing at the beginning of the century. All that kind of stuff is really fascinating. It's fun because back then people had these ideas that they were wrestling with. There was no scientific proof of it. And nowadays, we have these same ideas. A lot of them have been scientifically proven or some had been disproven, but it's just kind of fun. It's trying to take this old stuff that match it with what's actually what we know is real and then create something new and unique out of it. So that's why it's taking me so much time.

Ali:
It's interesting to hear that you are feeling imposter syndrome about talking about success. I'm like, well, why would you feel imposter syndrome talking about success? But yeah, it's interesting how it's the same thing just at different levels.

Russell:
Oh yeah. I think everyone's got things that they're superpowers and the things they struggle with, and so that's why it's fascinating. It's cool 'cause I'm also trying to, okay, these principles that I know that work here, they worked in my athletic career, they worked in my business career. The things I'm struggling with, can I apply them here? So it's almost like a science experiment of myself. Is this actually real? Anyway, it's been fun. What about your next one though? Do you know of the 11 ideas, do you know which one you're leaning towards or not yet?

Ali:
Not yet. One thing, part of it is again, balancing what would make sense versus what would feel good. I'm the productivity guy. It makes sense for the next book to further cement my position as the productivity guy. And so I still like productivity as a topic. I also think it's a cool lens with which to view the world. What does a productive approach to relationships look like? Me and my fiance, for example, for the last three years, we've got a notion database with templates and stuff like check-ins that we do every month and stuff, and that's super, super helpful. So it's like little things like that. I love the idea of writing at some point in my life a book about how to systemize your relationships, but in a non-weird way, in a way that actually improves them-

Russell:
Actually a really good title and in a non-weird way, or subtitle.

Ali:
In a weird way. So there's something interesting about that, but it probably shouldn't be the next one because I also don't have kids yet, so it's not the right book for this time right now. I also like the idea, a title I've been playing around with is How to Not Waste Your Life, which I think is interesting. Or I've been looking back through the Jim Rohn and the Earl Nightingale stuff around goal setting to see, "Okay, what would the principles of how to not waste your life look like? What does a wasted life feel like? What do people regret when they're dead? And can we turn that into a bit of a book?" It's just a few ideas that I'm playing around with.

Russell:
So fun. That's a really interesting question. What's a wasted life look like?

Ali:
I'm curious for you. So you mentioned people ask you about work-life balance and things. What are your principles for balancing the five kids, the family life, the business and everything?

Russell:
So for me, there's a couple of things. Number one is I learned in wrestling, I wanted to be a really good wrestler. I wasn't able to do a lot of things that other people did. My friends were out partying, were having, they were going on dates with their girlfriends, they were doing all these things I was not able to do if I wanted to compete the level I want to compete. That's when big things that people always ask me, what do you do for fun and the stuff like that, it's just like I have core four or five things I do, but that's it. I don't have the bandwidth to do a lot of other stuff. And so then when I know these are things that are important to me, it's very much things are blocked out and I'm not the best at this, but what I try to focus on is presence.

When I'm doing something, I'm doing it a hundred percent. So I know this morning I got up early 'cause I'm trying to write this stupid book that's taking forever, but I was like, I got to block that time out. So 5:30 alarm goes off, I'm getting up and I've got an hour just to sit there and think and try to progress this forward. But then it's my kids start waking up and it's like, okay, now I'm turning this off and I'm turning into dad. I'm literally leaving the room, shutting the door, and now I'm dad. I'm trying to be present there and I'm with them for the next, depending, it's summer right now, but during school it's like getting them ready, taking them to school, driving around, being dad, and then from there I drive and then I'm taking that hat off.

So I'm trying to, when I'm doing something, I'm very, very present and I think I watch most people, I don't know if you've ever done time studies with their time, but you take a traditional employee and you have them do a time study where it's like what's happening throughout the day. It's like people only working on eight hour day and making maybe 90 minutes of actual work where I feel like if you look at my schedule an eight-hour day, I get eight hours of stuff done. I'm just, because I'm so trying to be like, here's the things, being present, try to get stuff done.

But then when it's over, then I'm done. I go home and I'm dad again, and then when the kids go to bed, then I'm husband. So I try the things that are most important to me, block those out and then their sacred time when I'm in those, right.

Ali:
That's cool.

Russell:
So that's how I try to do it, but it's tough because it doesn't leave room for other stuff, which is hard sometimes. I do a lot of those things on weekends and things like that, but it's just like... Anyway.

Ali:
How did your approach to work change when you had kids?

Russell:
I had kids young, so yeah, I think I got married at, I was 22 when I got married. I was just starting this whole business and then we got pregnant with twins right after that.

Ali:
Wow. Okay, fine.

Russell:
So I had two kids out the gate while I was still, in fact, I remember at the hospital writing copy on my laptop while my wife was sleeping and I had the twins and we'd wrap them up in these little blankets and put a bottle and prop a pillow, keep the bottle in their mouth while I was writing coffee on these things, trying to learn this whole business and stuff like that. So I've always had that as part of it. I've never had a chance to do it on my own.

Ali:
Yeah, yeah. This is something I've been thinking about recently. I think I also want to have kids in the next couple of years, and so some entrepreneur friends who are parents I've spoken to said that when they had kids, it gave them even more of a desire to grow the business because now they're doing it for someone theoretically. But others said it made them realize that actually we've got enough money and it's more important to be a present dad than it's to be a hundred million dollars CEO or whatever the thing might be.

Russell:
At least my kids don't care about any of this stuff at all. You know what I mean? They think it's funny because like, "Oh dad got... We'll meet some of the airport or gas station, and they're like, "Oh, it's Russell." It's like, "Dad got spotted." But other than that, they just want you to spend time with them. You know what I mean? They want you to be at wrestling practice or showing up for the soccer game or whatever, and that's the most important thing. So it's weird. We put so much emphasis, especially in America, I don't know, the same thing where, but so much emphasis on income and status and money versus the kids are just like, they just want time.

It's interesting, so. Well, dude, this was a fun interview for me. I got some super useful stuff for my YouTube channel, so hopefully you guys will see that the end result of all the stuff I'm learning and filming and the way you structure things seems way less stressful than I'm doing right now. I'm for a whole week stressing about scripts and headlines and this and that and everything, and then we go film and it's like I've got such a short period of time to film. I'm trying to nail the very... In fact, you spend 90 minutes or whatever to do a 30-minute video. For me, it's like I could do one take, so I'm stressing out and it's like, anyway, yeah, I'm excited to shoot some things

Ali:
Around. Yeah, interesting. I think you can definitely do it in a less stressful way.

Russell:
Yeah. Are you doing section by section or you just, if you mess up, you just keep... You know what I mean? You just seem so good and flawless. It's like, gosh, he's so good every time. He's just got all the points in the perfect-

Ali:
Oh, god, no. There's so much on the cutting room floor. Yeah, I've retake things or whatever. I, find that the less in my head I am, the more fluent it is. If on this podcast, neither of us have had to retake anything. If we're on stage, we're not like, "Oh, whoops, let me redo that line." But for some reason when we're on camera, we're like, we feel the need to redo that line.

Russell:
Yeah, like I could do it better.

Ali:
So yeah, the more I can... It's weird. I actually have these five affirmations that I read to myself. I can chat about them actually. Whenever I film a video, this is what I tell myself. These are the five things I tell myself, which helps me get out of my head. Okay, here we go. Number one, I don't care about the performance of this video. My only goal in making it is to share a message that I think is worth sharing for whoever wants to hear it. Number two, I intend to integrate my mind, heart, and soul to share this message in a way that feels authentic and natural. Number three, I'm not trying to force anything here. I'm merely speaking from the heart with the mind to inform structure and content and the soul to remain connected to the purpose behind the video. Number four, I'm going to enjoy myself and treat this process with lightness and ease. When I'm on my deathbed, I'd give anything to be back here in the present moment doing what I love, sharing myself with the world in a way that's enjoyable and energizing.

I'm going to keep that in mind and not treat this process with too much seriousness, heaviness, or importance. Next, I'm speaking to an individual who really cares what I have to say and who really wants to learn from me to level up their own life. I'm in service to that person, not to my own ego, not to the retention stats, not to the algorithm. I'm purely in service to the person who has clicked on this video and whose life could be genuinely changed by what I'm about to say. These are the things that I literally read out to myself before filming every video, and I've shared this with a bunch of YouTuber friends who all found it helpful is like oh, okay. In that mindset, it feels more natural to talk about stuff rather than thinking it has to be right.

Russell:
It's so fascinating. I think in all areas of life, when you're chasing something, it's hard to get it, but if you're trying to chase views and followers and subscribers, it's hard to get it, but when you don't focus on it. The same thing I tell my entrepreneurs in business is like if you're trying to figure out how to make more money, those people always struggle. It's the ones who are trying to figure out how to serve their audience that becomes obsession. Those are the ones who businesses blow up. You get what you want by not focusing on the thing instead of focusing on the opposite side. So good for me to hear that right now.

Ali:
There's a really cool guy called Joe Hudson. I don't know if you've come across him. He's an executive coach to some of Silicon Valley's, top CEOs like Fortune 10 companies kind of thing. And I happened to spend some time with him at a retreat a couple of months ago and he said something that really, really stuck with me. He said that one of the things he always says when he is coaching CEOs is enjoyment is efficiency. Instead of trying to do better at whatever you're trying to do, just focus on trying to enjoy yourself because when you're enjoying yourself, the quality will just be better than if you were trying to be better.

I was like, damn, there's so much truth to that. When I am enjoying myself making YouTube video, it is actually a better video than when I'm trying to make a better video. When I was enjoying myself writing the book, my writing is actually better than when I'm trying to write a better book. So even just optimizing for enjoyment in the process, I just keep on learning that lesson in so many different areas and it still hasn't quite sunk in where I'm like, yeah, we just got to optimize for enjoyment of the process and the outcome will just take care of itself.

Russell:
Yeah, dude, so good. I think I should be paying you for this consult, so thank you. Anyway, well dude, I appreciate you... First off, pumped you're in Boise. Appreciate you taking the time to come hang out with me in my office and just share the stuff with me specifically, but also for our audience, and you're going to see my YouTube game double up triple that. It's going to be awesome.

Ali:
Thank you very much for having me, and I'd love to ask you some questions about figuring out our value ladders and funnels as well, so that'll be cool.

Russell:
Cool. We'll wrap this one up and we'll do another one and then you can go with his channel, check out the opposite one if you want to see the other stuff. So thanks man. Appreciate you.

Ali:
Thank you.

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