The difference between mediocrity and excellence, why Noah Kagan paid $100K on coaching, and David Perell’s approach to building an online empire

Building Blocks: Actionable insights to build an Intentional Life

Hey everybody,

Here’s another batch of actionable insights to start your week off right, so you can be more intentional with how you live, work, and create.

Let’s get started.

​Insight 1: Focus on the fundamentals

What’s the difference between a mediocre coach and a world-class one?

The same difference between a mediocre musician and a virtuoso, an amateur athlete and a national champion, or a hobbyist writer and a bestselling one.

The true experts spend decades honing their craft.

No hacks. No top secret techniques no one’s heard of. No convoluted systems.

Just the ordinary fundamentals taken to an extraordinary level.

If you’ve ever been curious about becoming a coach, or just want to understand how to communicate more effectively with people and inspire change, check out my latest article:

The 3 Pillars of World-Class Coaching

​Insight 2: ROI is everything

Why would anyone spend $100,000 on a coach, when they could spend $10 on a book that covered the same content?

If you think that’s insane, here’s Noah Kagan’s reasoning:

“The book you can learn… The coach is actually saying ‘Alright, now how do we apply this and how do I teach it to you in an active way in your business?’ That knowledge then gets transferred to a lot of people I work with, so their improvements and skills are now on a higher level.”

But is this really worth spending six figures on?

Here’s how Kagan’s math plays out:

If his company, AppSumo, brings in $80 million annually, and coaching helps his company make 10% more money…

10% x $80M = $8M

So a $100k investment yields $8M extra per year.

That’s insane.

If you want to dive into the best lessons Kagan gained from hiring a $100,000 business coach, check out this video:

​Insight 3: Build what people already want

“If you build it, they will come.”

It’s an iconic line from an iconic movie.

But it’s not true.

At least, not anymore.

You could spend months toiling away in secret building something you’re sure people will love.

Only to launch to crickets.

You wasted tons of your time, energy, and money building something no one wanted.

And you didn’t realize this until it was too late.

But there’s another way to approach creating products and services.

Instead of the “If I build it, they will come” mentality, adopt a “If they come, I will build it” approach.

This is what David Perell calls “Audience-First Products.”

Here’s his simple 3-step approach:

Step 1: Build an audience who resonates with your ideas.

Step 2: Build a product that solves a problem they have. Bonus points if you presell it.

Step 3: Scale your systems to reach, and help, more people.

This is the strategy David’s using to build an online writing empire.

“Until I started Write of Passage, nobody had claimed the niche for helping people write to accelerate their career. There were no methods, no frameworks, and no groups to support up-and-coming writers…I launched the course with a built-in audience of 10,000 email subscribers and 20,000 Twitter followers. Since I had organic reach, I didn’t have to pay for marketing.”

If you want to learn more about his process, check out his article on building Audience-First Products.

​Question for the Week

What is something you could create this week that people are already asking for?

It could be a digital product, a physical one, an article, a video, anything.

​Coaching Corner

This week’s question is from Fredy:

“How do I find the optimal coach to address my fear of success efficiently after subconsciously procrastinating my application to Oxford due to a feeling of not deserving it please?”

Honestly, it’s hard to find a great coach for two main reasons:

  1. Most coaches are mediocre.
  2. Most coaches don’t put out content that lets you gauge how good they are.

See, most coach’s spin up a website that tells you to “book a free call now!” But their website doesn’t tell you anything about how they can help you or how they think.

So yeah, that “free” call doesn’t cost you money, but it costs you time.

You could book a call and realize they suck, or aren’t a great fit.

It’s a real issue without solid solutions.

This is why I’m building a course to help aspiring (or established) coaches stand out online and share how they think with people more effectively. So people like you can instantly decide if a coach is right for them or not.

But until more coaches adopt these strategies, here’s my advice to you:

You already know you’re “subconsciously” procrastinating on your application because you have Imposter Syndrome, which is great insight.

Have you tried to practice Fear Inoculation?

It’s super helpful because it allows you to face the thing you’re afraid of and create a plan if your worst-case scenario happened.

Because when you feel prepared to deal with the worst-case scenario, you won’t feel the need to avoid it.

So if you’re afraid you’ll get rejected from Oxford, think it through:

If you got rejected, what would you do next?

A few possibilities:

  • You learn why you got rejected (low test scores, poor application essays, bombed an interview, etc.).
  • You work improving your application, then reapply.
  • You apply to other schools and say “fuck’em” because Oxford didn’t accept you (I got rejected from my top doctoral program 3 times, and it ended up being one of the best things that ever happened to me).
  • You explore other career/life path opportunities you hadn’t considered before.

Long story short: You risk getting rejected if you do apply. But you guarantee rejection if you don’t apply.

Best-case: You get in.

Worst-case: You take your life in a new direction.

Either way, you fucking win.

Hope that helps.

Got a question you want me to answer here?

*In Case You Missed It…*

I’m building a self-paced course on how to become a world-class coach and charge $500+ an hour.

Check it out if you’re curious.

If you enroll now, you’ll save $80 with presale pricing.

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Until next time—memento mori,


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