Epic Business And Lifestyle Review For 2016

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Looks like we’re wrapping up another year, so it’s time for my second ever business and lifestyle review, you can find last years over here (crazy how much has changed since).

I’m very fortunate to say that 2016 was by far the biggest year I’ve ever had in business.

I crossed off some big milestones off my list and explored more, worked harder and pushed the boundaries more than I ever thought was possible.

Highlights Of 2016

  • Purchased my very first investment property in Melbourne
  • Held onto the top affiliate position while promoting one of my favourite marketing tools
  • Broke my projected revenue numbers (surpassed 2016’s goal with ease)
  • Travelled (internationally) more than any other year in my life
  • Wrote and published more content than I ever have before (not on this website)
  • Read more books than last year
  • Met with some phenomenal people I respect (in person) that I’ve been following online for some time
  • Donated the most I ever have to a charitable cause
  • Got a coach in the major areas of my life to keep me accountable and further along my progress
  • I turned 23 (feeling nice and old already…)
  • Spoke at live events (250+ people) about scaling your sales funnel
  • Along with many more…

Purchasing My First Investment Property

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This was definitely the most exciting part of my entire year (and it happened in December so I just made it too).

I’m a big believer in acquiring assets and building a property portfolio (taking your internet money offline and investing into something more “real”) and every since I was young this had been a goal of mine. Over the last couple of years I would sketch down everyday a sentence about buying a property (I’ll have to take a photo of all the notebooks I’ve gone through, line after line reminding myself what the goal was).

I initially had planned to have this achieved by 22 but it slipped in 1 month late (some issues with pre-approval and financing etc.) but managed to secure it all before the end of the year. It was very exciting and actually happened very quickly (saw it up for sale on day 1, made an offer on day 2, then a bit of back and forth and I owned it!).

Holding My Top Affiliate Spot

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As a lot of you know, I’m a huge fan of ClickFunnels and this year I was awarded the top affiliate award and also became eligible for a “Dream Car” through one of their affiliate competitions (they cover up to $1,000 USD per month on a repayment for your dream car). While I haven’t picked the car yet (I already have a car and am not super keen on 5 year lease contract commitments when I don’t really need one. Also cars in Australia are taxed much higher than the US), this was a pretty awesome gesture and I’m looking forward to crushing it again in 2017.

The ClickFunnels staff are also amazing to work with, I’ve never seen a group of people so committed to working together on a piece of software to change the world. Every single person I work with whether it be the founders to the support team are all A players and are willing to above and beyond to give you a good experience. So that’s a massive testament to Russell, Todd and Dylan’s growth from when it all began.

Travelling To Events Across The Globe

I knew 2016 I was going to make an effort to attend more marketing events and conferences and travel more, but I never expected so much to happen during the course of the year.

My year’s travel consisted of:

I can not recommend travelling enough, even if it puts you outside your comfort zone, it’s one of the most valuable experiences in life. I had to fly 24 hour trips to most of those events and places (sometimes with only 2 weeks break in between, before going off again) but the lessons and networking that was had is simply unmissable.

I love exploring new places and meeting new people (not the biggest fan of flying) and if you have a meeting with just 1 person or learn just 1 takeaway from an event, it can 10X your business for the entire year.

However, while it’s great to travel, I learnt very quickly that your productivity doesn’t remain the same working out of hotels and attending events. So in 2017 I’ll be making some changes internally to be able to handle the time away from the workstation so everything continues to work at full capacity.

Will I be travelling this much in 2017?

We’ll see.

It really depends on the ROI of the time away from working in the office, more than the cost of attending in dollars. So it’s something I’ll have to weigh up at the time depending on what the workload is like.

I was asked almost at every event, “Why don’t you just move here?” I very well might try living in the states for a year in the next couple of years, but for now, I love Melbourne and am happy to make the long hauls over when I need to. I must say, if you haven’t come to Melbourne yet, you should totally come and visit as we have one of the best cuisines, nightlifes, coffee and more.

Here’s some pictures of this year’s travel:

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Walking The Markets in Hong Kong

 

Hanging At The Internet Marketing Party Before T&C

Hanging At The Internet Marketing Party Before T&C

 

Hanging with Marcus Lemonis At Funnel Hacking Live 2016

Hanging with Marcus Lemonis At Funnel Hacking Live 2016

 

Spending the first day in Barcelona exploring the city

Spending the first day in Barcelona exploring the city

 

Met up with Navid Moazzez While In Barcelona

Met Up With My Friend Navid Moazzez While In Barcelona

 

Walking The Alleys Of Santorini

Walked The Alleys Of Santorini In The Summer Heat

 

Experienced My First Ever Business Class Flight On Singapore Airlines

Experienced My First Ever Business Class Flight On Singapore Airlines

 

Swung Past The OptiMonk Booth And Made New Friends

Swung Past The OptiMonk Booth And Made New Friends

 

Caught Up In Person With Two Incredible Marketers: Todd Brown (left) and Ryan Levesque (right)

 

Went Snorkelling Across The Great Barrier Reef In Cairns

Went Snorkelling Across The Great Barrier Reef In Cairns

 

Taking A Moment To Reflect On A Huge 2016 In Port Douglas

Taking A Moment To Reflect On A Huge 2016 In Port Douglas

 

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Enjoying the row to myself flying into Orlando

Hanging out at the Design Pickle booth

Hanging out at the Design Pickle booth at Content And Commerce Summit

Business Education And Learning

One of my challenges throughout 2016 was to maintain my learning through books, audiobooks and podcasts.

So far I think it’s going ok. I’m finding it a lot more challenging to keep consistent with everything as this year I also happened to train myself to get into “execution mode” and cut down a lot of the time I spent “sharpening my sword” so I can get more done.

I think I’m still finding that balance and I’m aiming to perfect it more and more in 2017 as the year progresses. But for now, here is what I’m doing to learn more each day.

Audiobooks

Audible is my go to when it comes to listening to audiobooks. They have a solid selection, but there’s many books I get recommended that aren’t on the platform so it can be a bit frustrating at times. Otherwise, turn it on, download a book and put it on 1.5x speed and you’re sweet. I also started an audiobook challenge this year which was pretty exciting, got a long way to go and pivoted to some other ones not on the list but it’s going pretty well!

Video Explanations/Audiobooks

I was introduced to this new service ReadItForMe which I’m trying out and so far it’s been going great. They explain books (a lot more marketing books available) and turn them into 10min video clips/audios and summaries. I’ll be sure to let you know how this goes!

Podcasts

I’ve always been a fan of podcasts. I’ve got about 4-5 I listen to on and off and 1-2 I listen to religiously. I’ll share more about the ones I listen to in a future post, but for now, you can check out my one here and find some others I like in the resource section (cheeky shoutout).

Magazines

I ended up cancelling my subscription to Entrepreneur magazine this year (I think I may have only ready 1 or 2 issues the whole subscription I had it) but I subscribed to a new one called The Robb Report which I’ve been reading way more regularly. To be honest, it’s mainly a magazine on luxury goods, but I find it really relaxing looking at the ads that are targeted to the mega rich and some of the content they post about in there. Get yourself a copy for sure, they ship internationally too and it’s only about $100 or so.

Books

While I really struggled this year to get through many paperback/hardcover books, I still keep ordering good books that are recommended to me by friends in the hope I’ll get around to reading them. Still working out a better system for this but right now, I like to use my time flying on the plane and whenever I’m in transit to catch up on my reading.

Meeting With A Players

Caught up with Ezra Firestone at Content & Commerce Summit

One area of the year I was very happy with was the network I’ve begun to build for myself.

Keeping tabs on who you knew last year vs. who you’ve met and now speak with this year is a huge identifier on the path to your success. While your network isn’t as black and white as your profit numbers, it’s kind of like working out your lifetime friendship value (just a made up metric of mine) and see how that has evolved over the years (kind of like building a spider web and getting it bigger and bigger each year. The bigger you get it, the more opportunities you can “catch” as they fly into it).

More importantly than your network, how well do you know the people you meet. (Will go into this more below in what I wish I had done differently to increase this).photo-16-09-2016-12-21-59-am

But I caught up with some people who were at T&C and then attended Content & Commerce for example. Just by hanging out with them at the second event, I was able to solidify my relationship with them and now we’re super cool and would grab a drink at any future event.

It’s not hard to speak to people, but it’s hard to be conscious of the fact that building a network is probably the most important skill in business. Why do you think people charge and PAY high ticket $25,000/year masterminds?

It’s not for the tactics and strategies, it’s to build their network. One introduction can lead to millions of dollars in sales and more importantly people can help you get things which money can’t, power (The tv show House Of Cards illustrates this really well if you want a tv show to chill out with during the week).

So attending the events definitely helped me do this, and I met some awesome and incredible people who will be friends of mine for a long time to come. Once you put yourself out there, you’ll not only have more successful years in business financially, but you’ll have some friends for life who you’ll back on in years to come and say, “Remember the shit we pulled after Day 2 of x event? Man that was crazy, good times!”

That’s where the magic is at and what I believe will keep you going in an industry like this.

Donating To Charity

This year, I wanted to give back to a cause I felt needed some help and impacted me and my business, while I won’t be sharing where I donated or how much (this isn’t a brag post) I encourage you to do the same if you’re in a fortunate enough position.

Donating without expecting anything in return has a strange fulfillment attached to it. I was listening to a podcast recently which spoke about the topic that “the feeling of giving is better than the feeling of receiving” and even over the Christmas period, I’ve enjoyed giving gifts and seeing people get excited and light more than ever before (I think as entrepreneurs it’s something we get a kick out of).

On the same episode, it was mentioned that there’s this strange law but the more you give the more you receive. So it’ll be something I’m curious to see play out (again, don’t do it expecting anything in return, but there just seems to be a weird unexplainable relationship between the two there).

Getting Coaches

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I shared on my Facebook account that this year:

I’m going to invest in a coach or mentor in every major area of my life.
This includes: Diet & Fitness, Mental Growth, Business & Sport.

Since then, I’ve picked up a personal trainer, a tennis coach and joined a mastermind.

There’s likely one or two more coaches to come in 2017, but already I’ve seen a huge shift in my goals getting bigger with the added accountability and having someone around you who is committed to helping you succeed. The result far outweighs the cost in every single area.

Also, if you’re an entrepreneur and tennis player, please hit me up and let’s have a hit. I’m very passionate about it and would be eager to play with anyone who’s keen!

Another benefit of getting a coach is the coach has seen your issues time and time again, as they’re further down the road than you are. So with that being said, your hurdles have already been met and overcome by someone else, so using them to leverage your own success is just a smart way of getting ahead.

I think I’ll see more results in 2017, so I’ll share more granular details then. However so far, I’m already seeing mistakes that would’ve taken me months and months to figure out, be corrected in an instant. So I highly recommend making the investment if you can do that.

Speaking At Live Events

Presenting At Growth Hacking Sydney

Presenting At Growth Hacking Sydney

This was a really enjoyable experience, and I learnt I actually really liked public speaking!

I intend to do more speaking gigs as they pop up in 2017, but I kind of fell into a few events this year (two speaking gigs with Growth Hacking Aus) which I got a lot of great feedback from, so I plan on speaking at bigger events next year as well.

A few quick lessons learnt:

  • When you’re speaking, make sure to get the details of the gig early (paid/unpaid, 1 hour/full day, travel required/not required etc.)
  • Prepare ahead of time, don’t organise your keynote presentation on the plane over to the event
  • Keep your presentation engaging, which means moving around, changing up the tone, keep your slides entertaining too (I’ve got a long way to go here but some of the speakers I listened to almost put me to sleep)
  • If an event’s too good to be true, it usually is (I got booked for a “dream” all expenses paid event in the Maldives, but eventually plans fell through and I couldn’t reach the host. So don’t count your chickens before they hatch)
  • People book you based on authority, the more you appear authoritative in your marketplace and industry, the more events you’ll be booked for (this goes for podcasts as well as speaking events).

If you’d like to speak to me about an event, you can message me here.

What Do I Wish I Had Done Differently This Year?

It’s all fun and exciting achieving your goals, but what’s the use in this post if you don’t have any takeaways from your downfalls?

So here’s a handful of things I wish I did differently or wish I had changed during the year which you can learn from for next year.

Shiny Object Fucking Syndrome

It hit me like a firetruck at one point in the year. This has been a major struggle for me (especially for guys in digital marketing because once you master a traffic source you can sell pretty much anything) because in this industry, you get approached with a new business idea, opportunity and more every single day. So sticking to one business until you’ve hit the desired goal is tough. I found I got bored and attracted towards the “quick cash” far more often than I had desired. So this year? I’m creating a way to “prime” myself each day and keep focus on the goal. Staying focused is what leads to long term success and longevity. It’s not that screenshot of a stripe account in a Facebook group of $30k days or partners promising the world to you. Take this advice, build a system to keep you focused and excited each day on your primary goal. You want to build a business that’s around in 10 years to come (that’s something I truly believe). It’s not easy to build a business of such a high calibre (because people get distracted by other people’s success all the time) but if you’re disciplined enough, your day will come, so it’s a matter of putting you head down.

Balance Work And Play

During the year I had some major extremes at either end. Some weeks I’d be playing sport every day (love my sport), twice a day and get minimal work done and view it as a “chore”, while other days I’d be in the office all week and have no social life. You need a balance (each person’s level is different). So plan your perfect week and try stick to it as much as possible. I’m aiming to plan this from the beginning of the year and keep it consistent throughout the year.

Act, Reflect, Respond

Each week I felt like I was following a never ending to do list. It’s been a lot better towards the end of this year, however what I found earlier in the year was I didn’t take time to evaluate the week or day at the end of each one. You need to constantly reflect and ask yourself, which days were unproductive and why?

Hire Fast, Fire Fast And Build A Cult-Ure

One of my businesses has grown quite quickly in terms of our internal team this year. That being said, I found myself taking far too long making decisions to bring on new team members being afraid of hiring the wrong person. Eventually I changed my approach to “hiring fast, firing fast” and rewarding the A players well. So far so good and now we have a very strong team with a great culture behind it. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt from Russell Brunson in 2016 was building a “Cult”-ure behind your company (inside and out). It really turns your customers, in raving fans. Just take a look at Apple as one example of this.

Forget The Tools, Think Bigger

I spent far too long deciding on tools and marketing stacks to launch one of my businesses this year. While I probably know about the intricacies of them better than anyone, I literally took forever to decide how they all fit together and this cost me a lot of time and money. Figure out the plan of attack and run with it. Tools will work eventually, but it’s the marketing and sales which you need to start rolling in.

Build And Nurture Long Term Relationships

I went to a lot of marketing conferences this year (obviously) and met a lot of people. One area I need to improve on significantly is building relationships during the year after an event is over. I met hundreds of people during the year but probably now keep in touch with regularly maybe 10-20. Your network is your net worth, therefore you need to realize that systemizing even a simple reminder to reach out and say “hey” to someone needs to happen. This could be following events, special occasions and holidays. I’ve already started working on this for next year and am looking forward to reporting back on the results. One thing I will be doing is “appreciation gift giving” which I learned from my friend Charles Ngo.

Not Setting Big Enough Goals

Lastly, this one was a good problem to have. The bad part is, it’s too late now to change it. You only get one chance to write your goals, and if you don’t do them right the first time, it’s too late. While at the time I thought my goals were big, they were definitely too “realistic” as I saw parts fall into place. So 2017 I’ve set some MONSTER goals, which are already getting me very excited about the year to come. Make sure you do the same. There’s a saying that goes, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”

What’s On For 2017?

2017 is going to be…well, HUGE.

I’ve told a lot of people, 2016 felt like it was the year of “Traffic” and 2017 feels like it’s going to be the year of “Monetization”. I feel like the people around me have been priming themselves for a big year of growth in 2017 while 2016 a lot of people were still finding their feet.

A bit has changed in terms of my business this year, so while I won’t be sharing my goals specifically this year as transparently online (meet me in person and I’m happy to chat) there’s going to be a lot of action behind the scenes.

You’ll be seeing a lot more of me on this website and across other platforms too. One thing I DO want to do is take the GoPro I purchased along with me throughout my upcoming trip (I’ll be in the USA during mid Feb to the end of March) and turn it into a highlight reel of the trip. So look out for that.

Travelling will likely be at a similar level as this year too, so if you’re reading this and want to meet up somewhere around the world, reach out to me and we’ll try fit in a time to grab coffee and chat.

There’s a lot of big plans in the works and as mentioned earlier, execution is key.

So all the best for achieving everything you want in 2017.

We’ve got a big year ahead and I love having you along for the ride!

Before we wrap it up, comment below:

What’s your biggest lesson from 2016, and how do you plan to improve on it for 2017?

  • Congrats. Always a great idea to take the online money into offline income streams. WTG.

    • Thanks Andrew – yeah for sure, you always need to diversify a % of your income (might not be the biggest %) so that you can plan for the road ahead.

      • Did you get a single family or multi-unit? My next one will be a triplex.

        • I don’t know any of those 😛 I think the names for the property types are quite different here in Australia. Does apartment ring any bells?

  • Hi Stephen! Thnx for sharing. Great post! My biggest lesson in 2016 (that I’ve discovered in December) was about building business with sales funnels. And in 2017 I plan to reverse engineer my current project using this new method. Thnx again for sharing your knowledge and experience. Maria .

    • That’s awesome Maria! Sales funnels are definitely a great way to grow your business. Let me know if you have any questions 🙂

      • I definitely will, but a bit later. Still learning basics. Thank you 😉

  • disqus_5T2jXBEN10

    Stephen, I have a goal for your in 2017, “better proofreading” try using the DISQUS app it works for me, and I am not making major money on my posts

    • Haha proofreading was never my strong suit. Thanks for the tip Mr. anonymous! (P.S. This is the Disqus app)

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