SFR 179: Trials After Making The Jump – Stephen Larsen

SFR 179: Trials After Making The Jump

Oct 2nd, 2018 anchorwave

The learning curve after leaving my 9-5 was similar to the one I experienced as I entered the workforce after I got my degree…

Productivity is something that many people struggle with. When I left ClickFunnels, I wondered how I’d cope working for myself?

Would I be able to maintain the hunger without a structure and without a boss?

Would I have the discipline to show up, and not hit the snooze button, when I had no one to answer to but myself?

Today, I’m gonna share with you some tricks and methods I used to help me make the transition from employee to entrepreneur boss.


Whether you’re already working for yourself or thinking of quitting your job to start your own business, I wanna share with you how I managed to get my brain on side and get productive.

Here’s how it happened.

monkey in mirror

When I left my 9-5 in January 2018, my biggest fear wasn’t about being able to make enough money, my biggest fear was that I would be sitting in an isolated room having to do the work with no one to crack the whip.

In ClickFunnels environment, there was always this amazing energy. There were people running around over the place. “Hey, let’s do this… what about this?”

So even on days when I felt kinda tired, I still had other people and processes to pull me along and hold me accountable.

The thought of losing that energy was freaking me out. Would I be able to stay hungry and driven enough to show up? I wasn’t 100% sure.

I remember talking to my wife and asking: “Do I have the discipline to continue to show up every day like I’m going to war? Do I have the discipline to show up day in and day out.”

You know how your monkey brain can play tricks on you and get you distracted by things that seem easier or more fun…there’s always another shiny object, right!

I knew I had to focus on the revenue-generating activities, but that was something that many people find hard to do… How would I avoid becoming one of those people?

man working at computer

When I taught at the Funnel Hackathon Event (FHAT) people would come up and ask me, “How do you keep your energy so high, Stephen?

I used to think, “Why are you guys asking me this?” I didn’t say that. But I was thinking, “Why does everybody ask me that question?” It almost frustrated me.

I was like, “Well you just freakin’ do it? You don’t overcomplicate it – you just do it.”

When I left ClickFunnels, I realized that I’d put my foot in my mouth because I had the same problem. My biggest fear was, “Holy crap! How am I gonna do that? How am I gonna stay motivated?”

We all have things we need to do that we don’t really want to do, and then there’s the natural instinct to just goof off…

I knew I had weaknesses in certain areas, and I wasn’t sure how to handle them successfully.

cat sleeping

I suck at time management, I’ll admit it. I’m not ashamed at that. But you can’t run a business like that…


There it is again… my favorite saying, “The obstacle is the way.” It’s amazing how many situations you can apply it too.

So I thought about all the obstacles in my way and realized that I could either beat myself up about my shortcomings, or I could bite the bullet and find ways to turn them to my advantage.


Instead of freaking out about these constraints, embrace them. Let them guide you. Constraints drive innovation and force focus. Instead of trying to remove them, use them to your advantage. – 37 Signals

You’ve just got to ask the right questions and be open to the answers you find…


Now I’m not perfect at this yet, and I don’t want you to think that I am.

But just want to teach you a few things that I do to keep myself checked in, day in and day out.

Some aspects I’m really good at. For example; I show up 99% of the time. However, there are some other areas where I’m a little bit ‘Meh’ – I’m maybe 50% on track.

men jumping over obstacle

There are even some aspects that I suck at. Things that I’m not good at yet – things that are still a challenge for me. But whether you’re a productivity ninja, a total sloth, or somewhere in between – you can always get better.

The truth is that if you show up, 80% the battle is already won.


men withouth shirts

I know I’m gonna dominate what I go for because most people are too afraid to even show up.

The game’s super easy now. It is really easy to dominate a space because there is a ridiculous lack of discipline mixed with an abundance of education and knowledge.

  1. You can find the answer to anything you want pretty much by just freaking searching for it… but most people don’t.
  2. More than half of success is just showing up… but most people won’t.

I want everyone to change. I want everyone to be like killin’ it, but if they’re not willing to, it’s even easier for me to dominate a marketplace.

I want to share a few different tools so you understand how I do what I do – how I show up and get in the freakin’ seat – even when I suck at certain aspects like time management.

Ready? Cool… Let’s go!

#1: WILLPOWER DOESN’T WORK (so what does?)

There’s a book by Benjamin Hardy called Willpower Doesn’t Work. It is based on Ph.D dissertation which looked at willpower and what effect it had on your level of success.

please stay on the path

The funny thing was that he ended up getting depressed because he found out that willpower doesn’t work.

He found out that willpower is a terrible thing to bank your success on. What does work, however, is your environment.

The problem is that most of those decisions are based on willpower which isn’t sustainable.

What’s more sustainable is your environment. Willpower is a good kick start, but it’s habits and environment that will ultimately help you win.

I want the pressure that helps me push my limits and become a better person and a better marketer. I want the kind of pressure that forces out the bad parts of my character. That’s good pressure. But if I rely on willpower then eventually it’s gonna run out, and life will get really uncomfortable for me.

So what can I do about this?

  1. The first step is Recognition – I need to recognize what I need to change to get the results I want? What is holding me back and am I prepared to take steps to change that?
  2. The second step is Environment – How can I create the Environment that supports my success? How can I create habits that make it easy for me to win?

So for me, I recognize that time management and structure are going to be an issue for me… so what I need to do is create situations that help me to show up in the same way that I did when I worked at ClickFunnels 9-5.


Working from home, it’s tempting to wake up whenever you want, roll over and grab the laptop. I don’t do that. I try to isolate my environments.

woman sleeping

  • There is a specific place that I go to when it’s time to work.
  • There is a specific place that I go to when I sleep.
  • There is a specific place that I go to when I study.

I make sure that there is a specific environment for the core activities of my life.

There are environments where certain things happen. It’s part of the way that I’ve been able to structure my life. Environment plays a huge role.


When I walk into my office door, I’m ready to kill it. I’ve trained myself that way – this is my environment to produce. This is my environment to go to war.

just do it

The third car spot bay in my garage is a home gym. When I walk out there, and I put my feet on that mat I’m ready to sweat.

Willpower is no longer what I’m betting on in order to work out. I’ve already done 80% of the work by showing up to do the task that I’ve created the environment for.


A lot of guys have asked me like, “Stephen, how do you come up with your podcast ideas?” Here’s the secret…


I don’t wait to have all of my ideas in place to set up my equipment.

  • I set up the screen.
  • I set up the lights.
  • I get my camera and my tripod in place.
  • Sometimes I pace back and forth, and ask, “Okay, what it is that the community needs? What is it that they’ve been asking? What’s something that I can share and be valuable?”

I just set up my equipment and create the environment, and then the flow starts. This is one of the biggest things I could tell you.

Think about it…


If your spouse asks, “Hey, why don’t you come work on the couch while there’s a movie going?” Very few people can sit there and be productive. Even if you try real hard the chances are that you will end up watching the movie – because that’s the environment it was meant for.

When I didn’t have the space for an office, I sat on the same seat on our couch at a certain time to get myself in the zone.

About [spp-timestamp time="5:30"] in the morning, I’d get up, and if I wasn’t gonna bike into the office I’d sit there until about 8:30 am and I just work on my own funnels. That was my environment.



When you’re working for yourself, it’s really tempting to sleep in and get up whenever you want.

There have been times where I’ve pressed snoozed four times before I’ve consciously remembered, “Oh my gosh, I set my alarm because I had to get this thing done.”

So what I do now is:

  1. I don’t set my phone as the major alarm clock anymore.
  2. I have $7 alarm clock that’s really freaking annoying. Beep-beep-beep – I hate that thing.
  3. I put my alarm clock/ my phone across the room because when I’m tired willpower does not work. It needs to be so annoying that I have no option but to get up to turn it off. I don’t wanna bank on willpower. I’m gonna bank on environment.

If you start to control your environment – and the things that you do in those environments – you’ll create a massive accelerant for success.

I don’t relax in the same environment as I work in. I’m here to go to war. That’s my mentality.

I’ve got Vitamin C and caffeine running through my veins. I’ve got dubstep step going through my headphones, I’m in front of my whiteboard trying to solve problems.

I’m here to conquer. I’m here to dominate. I’m here to get filthy freaking rich and then give it all away to charity when I die.

Don’t relax in the same environment where you work intensely – the human brain just can’t cope with that.

If you feel like you’ve no traction on your projects, then it’s probably because of your habits.

You need to control your environment because willpower alone will not get you where you want to be.


bald eagle

This is one of the tricks that I’ve used a lot. At college, I hated doing early morning classes. But if a class started later, I noticed I would do almost nothing from the time I got up to the time my class happened.

I was like that for a whole semester.

So instead I started booking classes at 7:45am every morning. Sure, it was a little more painful, but I would make fantastic use of the time after class finished because I was already awake and doing stuff.

On the days when I didn’t have class until 9.00am, I would just sleep in and I wouldn’t do anything else with the day.

So one of the things that has been extremely powerful for me, has been to set appointments early in the day, every day.

If I don’t have an appointment, I make sure that I have a sense of accountability to something or someone.


When I joined the army and went to basic training, there was a guy who was 15 seconds late to a formation without his kit. The drill sergeant goes, “Attention! Front leaning position, move.”

Stephen Larsen in uniform

And we had to hold the push up position with all of our gear on. That’s an M16, 2 liters of water and 40 pounds of weight. We held that position while we waited for the dude to pack in front of the platoon. Our hands shaking. We were freaking out. You try to self-talk, “Yeah, you got this.”

They taught us that if you are the weak link and you do not show up on time, you are actually making the rest of team suffer.

They wouldn’t punish the guy who was late. They would punish everyone else for his mistake.

There’s some psycho-ness to that, but there’s powerful crap behind it too. And that’s the state that I try and stay in.


I have a content team, and if I don’t have my crap together to my butt in the chair at the time I’m supposed to, I am making the team unsuccessful. I can’t be the weakest link.


I’m literally set up my team for failure, and that’s not fair to them. It’s not fair to what I’m trying to get done. And it’s on me.

So if you have a hard time getting where you need to be,then set appointments.

There have been times when I’ve set appointments with people just for the sake of having an appointment – so that I have to show up.

I don’t wanna feel like an idiot, and so I get my crap together.

So if you’re like, “Hey Stephen, I’m really bad a time management.” You have two options:

#1: Get really good at time management, and that could take a long time.

#2: If you’re one of the people who doesn’t want to feel like an idiot or let someone down, then use that fear to your advantage. Start setting up your life with constraints that motivate you and help you to get your butt in the seat.

  • 9 AM Tuesday, I do guest interviews for other people’s shows.
  • I get up exercise in the morning because there’s an event I’m preparing for in the future where I don’t wanna look a freaking idiot. (I’ll let you know the details soon ;-))


The third strategy I use to keep me disciplined is to pack my day. Idle time is bad. I have a ton of crap going on. I keep a full schedule because it helps me to push hard.

paper and pen on desk

There’s stuff I’ve agreed to do that I’m not sure how I’m gonna fulfill it, but I know I will have to grow in order to match the opportunity.

I never know the answer ahead of time, but I always find it in the middle of looking. Meaning, I have to actually be walking to find answers. Huge lesson there.

Think Moses and the red sea, baby. That thing did not start splitting until he was walking in the freakin’ water. He didn’t split that thing and then go. The dude got wet before it moved.

You’ve got to be willing to get uncomfortable for your goals to happen.

There’s a level of personal fulfillment required, and the level you develop to will match your level of success on the other side. So instead, I call out my own crap and get uncomfortable.

I figure out exactly what I can craft to create a positive constraint. Not all constraints are bad.

I would rather make mistakes of ambition, than mistakes of sloth. I am not a man to make mistakes of sloth.

There have been so many freakin’ things that I’ve launched that have not worked out that. Who the freak cares? I don’t care. Just being in motion results in amazing productivity and produces ideas.

Some people are like, “Stephen, how are you gonna ever run podcast materials? Stephen, how did you come up with that idea? Stephen, what books can I go read to learn, offer creation like you?”

Man, I don’t know.

Those are things that I’ve learned in the act of doing. Some things you can’t learn from a book.


Am I ever gonna sit back and go, “You know what… we did really good.” For me, that is the scariest mentality. I am fighting complacency. I’m doing everything I can to not get complacent.

stay hungry on plate

I can find great funnel builders. I can find great copywriters. I can find and train good marketers. I can find and train. You can learn how to do a lot of this stuff. I can teach you how to do a lot of stuff.

The thing that nobody can teach you is how to stay hungry.

If you’re not hungry, I mean, like. “backed against a wall, you’re gonna figure out a way” hungry. If you can’t do that, it doesn’t matter what you’re trying to do. You’re not gonna make it.

I could pay myself a lot more right now, but I’m scared to do so because I’m nervous that I won’t maintain the hunger.

I don’t have mechanisms in place yet to maintain that next level of responsibility, and that’s more important to me.

There was a product that I was offered percentage of. And I said ‘no’ to it – which shocked a lot of people, but my fear of not staying hungry is so strong. It’s got me everything. It’s the reason why I’ve done what I’ve done. I’m hungry.

  • My fear of not being hungry outweighs my fear of I don’t know what to say in this podcast episode.
  • My fear of becoming complacent vastly outweighs my fear of I’ve never done a webinar or written a script before.
  • My fear of I’ve never introduced Russell on stage pales in comparison to my fear of becoming complacent.

And I’m begging you to not become complacent.

If you’ve gotten squishy and fussy, and your life’s too nice – you gotta get uncomfortable.

I try and do something that freaks me out as regularly as possible.

There’s a really good quote from David Goggins, He says the worst thing that can happen to a man is for him to become civilized. And I kinda believe that. I’m not here to be comfortable

If you’re not willing to become the character, you’re not gonna give birth to a blue ocean.

Be willing to be uncomfortable. That’s part of the price. Funnily enough, it’s not that freaking scary once you do it.

stay hungry

  • I’m trying to stay hungry.
  • I’m trying to say yes to things that I should say yes to.
  • I’m trying to create positive constraint in my life.
  • I’m trying to make sure that my personal discipline is on purpose and that it counteracts my character defects.

I have character flaws, everybody does. But sometimes, people use that as a crutch to not do stuff. Don’t use your flaws as a crutch not to do stuff. Create positive constraints instead.


Some people look at celebrities and think that they’re lucky. But did you sit on your freaking couch for years doing nothing with your life? You have to get real.

feeling lucky punk

How much discipline does that person have that you don’t? I beg you to learn discipline. I’m not perfect at it. But I’m trying.

I was at Alex Charfen’s event last week and I realized that I have done so much sprinting. All the setting up systems, processes, and marketing that I’ve been neglecting my own needs. So I’m gonna go start adding those things back in.

There’s no such thing as perfect balance. I believe in obsession.

And with that obsession comes the commitment to NOT let your flaws stand in the way of your success.

Until next time, Keep Crushing it!

Obviously, your funnel’s already dead if you can’t even get anyone opt in, right? So I spent four hours teaching an audience how to get high opt-ins when they work, when they don’t work.

If you want access to that member’s area, we can watch those replays. Just go to to create your free member’s account now.

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