Episode 1: The Power Of Day One

How to overcome fear of failure and take action in your business

In our first episode, host Niel Malan explains what is an “elite entrepreneur”, and shares what this show is about.

We explore the concept of “every day is day one” in a business. How do you go from ideas, planning, fear of failure and procrastination, to taking action? 

Niel shares his experience of adopting a “growth mindset” to get the process going, and how the important thing is not to get it perfect from the start, but simply to take action.

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Welcome to the Elite Entrepreneur show and our very first title: The Power Of Day One.

I’m super excited, the fact that you’re watching or listening to this right now means that you’ve tuned in, and I really appreciate it. 

So, let’s dive straight in with who this show is for and what exactly is an Elite Entrepreneur.

The word “elite” means that you have a superior skill or capability, and I believe what makes an entrepreneur an elite entrepreneur is when you have rare skills, rare knowledge and rare capabilities that can help you run a successful business.

Elite Entrepreneurs come from all walks of life – they can be as young as 14 years old, they can be as old as a hundred, they can be thin or fat, distributed all across the world, be attractive or ugly, or super eccentric… it doesn’t really matter. Elite entrepreneurship is really about having unique skills.

We live in a modern era, and despite that so many businesses are still running the same way as since the industrial era. 

We live in a new world, we live in a digital era, we live in a technologically advanced, technology enabled era, we live in an era where there’s huge gaps between generations, we live in an era where there is one global village… and quite frankly, most of the rules that used to apply no longer do.

We live in an incredibly polarizing era, where if you get it right and digital, you can build your empire you can grow your business faster than any other time before. But if you get it wrong you’ll always be at the mercy of people who get it right.

The Elite Entrepreneur show is really to help elite entrepreneurs like you, that believe in investing in education, investing in their own mindset, learning what is working right now, what is current right now, and what you can do to run a more successful business.

So, welcome to the Elite Entrepreneur show. 

What you can expect is really quite a broad range of topics. Because my company, Elite Inc., is quite the marketing-driven organization, and being a marketer myself, you’ll often hear me talk about topics related to marketing.

I will be interviewing specialists on various different traffic channels, and even members of our team.

We’ll be talking about digital marketing and how I can really aid your business with very specific tactics that you can apply today.

We’re also going to talk about slightly broader topics, for example distributed teams where you don’t have offices; how do you run teams where that are distributed all across the world, how do you recruit really well in today’s modern era and how do you use technology to your advantage so that you can succeed.

So the theme really is about digital entrepreneurship and modern entrepreneurship.

We’re going to publish three shows a week – on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Each show will be 15 minutes to 35 minutes in length and distributed on various platforms – on our YouTube channel and Facebook page for those of you who prefer video as a medium. You can tune in and subscribe to the show and you’ll get a notification 3 times a week when the show gets published. 

Those of you who like audio as a medium – because you listen in the car or while on the treadmill – the show is also a podcast! 

You can tune into the Elite Entrepreneur show by going to your Stitcher [or your preferred podcast platform] if you are on Android, or if you’re an Apple person you can go to iTunes and subscribe there, so when there’s a new episode you’ll get a notification.

For those of you who like more of a multimedia experience – where you want to get audio, you want to get visual, and want to see the transcripts of the show… and you want to get some additional links that I may be referring to or resources – you can simply go to www.eliteinc.com followed by the the show number. This will be show number one, so you go to www.eliteinc.com/1 and there you can get the full thing.

You can really consume this information in any format of your choosing.

I want to talk to you guys about The Power Of Day One.

I’m first gonna tell you a funny story: A couple of years ago, I think it was in 2016 if I’m not mistaken, I had a particularly intense year. I had a good year, my company is growing like crazy; but I was really stressed out of my brain. I was so exhausted. 

I finally finally got a holiday in December and I go to Thailand, and I went to a little island called Ko Samui. I stayed there at this beautiful hotel, and I was just looking forward to taking downtime.

I was lying in the pool and I was lying poolside, just soaking up some rays and relaxing and chilling out, and it was really awesome. 

I’m quite the avid reader, and I picked up this book called The Everything Store… which is a story about Amazon, and it’s a story about Jeff Bezos. 

I started reading this book thinking it was just going to be a recreational read, and the more I read this book the more fascinated I became and the more my eyes opened to digital entrepreneurship and what these guys at Amazon all about.

I became more and more excited about digital, and at the same time I also became more and more scared, because I felt like I was so far behind. You know, I was running my little business here in sunny South Africa, and this guy’s got this huge empire, by then they had so many innovations… 

Part of my brain is always like: ‘How do you get like… how do you even… you know, relate to a company that size? You know, a business that big?’

That happens to me often. When I think about Facebook and Google, you hear about Uber and all these huge companies, these massive successes that employ thousands of thousands of people. 

And I am a little three, four person business at the time.

That distance just seemed huge.

Then he spoke about this concept in the book called “every day is day one”. 

Jeff Bezos lives by this philosophy called “every day is day one”, and what he means by that is because the world is changing so fast and so rapidly, every day should be the first day of your business.

What that allows you to do, is it allows you to not be stuck to the past. It allows you to not cling to the past.

I’ll give you a really good example of how you can put context to this.

So, Amazon started… his vision has always been “the everything story”, his vision has always been to provide all retail products to all people all across the globe, and to become the world’s number one retailer.

Right, that was his vision.

However, you can’t start a store like that. So he started by saying what is a category of product that you can distribute where there’s big margin but logistically it’s easy because the packaging is quite simple, and so forth.

He looked at 24 different product categories and he came across books. Books package nice, they pack really, and there’s a huge demand for books and books being shipped out, because people often go to a book store looking for a book, and if it’s not there they have to order it.

Readers tend to read a lot, so there’s a high repurchase rate.

So he was actually quite bright. He just said ‘we’re gonna start with books’.

Now, Amazon’s entire fulfillment center and their entire fulfillment capability pivoted around books. They knew how to warehouse books, they knew how to pack books, they knew how to ship books, knew how to get books from publishers, and so forth.

So Amazon, for the longest time in the beginning, was a bookshop. It was a bookstore.

Then, in the advent of the digital era, someone one day said people are gonna start reading books digitally, they’re gonna publish books digitally… how do we respond to this? 

And Jeff Bezos says, “well, guys, every day is day one, we had better build an e-reader, we had better build the ability to publish books digitally’.

Everybody was in revolt! You can imagine the ops team that spent a decade to build all these superior fulfillment systems and the ability to ship books and the finance… everything is set up to ship physical books, and here Jeff Bezos proposes they develop an electronic reader and start publishing books electronically. 

Everybody was mad at him for even proposing such a preposterous idea. 

He just said to them, ‘guys, is very simple, either we are going to do it and we’re gonna be our own competition, or someone else is going to do it and they are going to be our competition – take your pick’.

And he said every day is day one. Today is the first day of the digital book business and we are going to own that space.

What they did is, they turned on a dime and started developing the Kindle reader, they created Amazon Direct Publishing where publishers can now go and create their own books and publish it on Kindle.

Interestingly, it didn’t completely cannibalize the print book industry. They found that a lot of people still like the print book, they liked the tactile feeling of it. But certain kinds of books were more prone to being downloaded on digital and certain types of readers also preferred digital.

But what Amazon did was they kept the markets. 

So now they’ve got the book market which they pretty much own, and they have the digital book market because of the philosophy of “every day is day one”.

You know, it’s so funny coming back to lying in Thailand. Initially I was freaking out, like ‘oh my god, I don’t do this, I want to get going’… but it was so intimidating.

I thought to myself ‘hold on, hold on a second… if every day is day one at Amazon, then today is day one at Niel Malan enterprises’, right?.

And that’s it. 

Sounds weird, but it had such a profound impact on me and it just gave me the ability to get going, to pick up momentum. It was just so much less intimidating. 

So when I started this show I thought to myself… it is actually quite interesting because I remember for the longest time when I had a new project I would procrastinate. If I had a new website I was like, ‘oh my god, do you know it’s gonna be hard’ and ‘what if it doesn’t work’ and ‘what if I don’t get it perfect’… 

I spent all this time doing analysis paralysis and eventually doing nothing. 

Or I would think about starting a new product and think how do I do this, and I’d plan and plan and plan and eventually I’d end up doing nothing.

I told myself but I’m an action taker, so why on certain projects so I just not taking the action?

I took action and did all the planning, but I never create the damn thing. 

I was thinking about this first show, the Elite Entrepreneur show… this is the first show, and I thought about how effortless it has become for me to launch new projects. I wondered what the difference was? 

Then I remembered what the difference is: I read a book called Mindset by a woman called Carol Dweck, and I believe that it’s probably the most important book that I’ve read in my life. This is a big statement, because I’ve read well over a thousand books now and many of them have had a profound impact on me – in business, in finance, investing and relationships. 

I like a broad subject range, but looking back, for me, if you wanted to identify a personal development book, Mindset was by far the most profound.

And the reason is that in her book, Carol makes the premise that there’s really two kinds of mindsets that people can have: 

The first is a fixed mindset. We think in terms of success or failure. If I try something, I either succeed or I fail. There’s black and white. There’s no gray.

I used to be the black and white person, and I’m embarrassed to tell you this, I used to be proud of it.  So, black and white thinking means you either succeed or you fail, and that’s what I call a fixed mindset.

Then you get what’s called a “growth mindset” that doesn’t think in terms of absolutes, doesn’t think in terms of success or failure. It really thinks in terms of growth. 

So, in the book she cites examples of kids – they’d have a fixed mindset and are fiercely competitive, but only participate in projects where they think they can compete. And the moment it seems like someone else is going to be better than them on a test or something like that, they would completely withdraw. 

She found that people with a fixed mindset had very low resilience. They were very competitive, but didn’t really have the ability to follow through on things when it seems someone else is going to do better. Or when the road became really hard they would often see themselves as either bright or dumb. There’s no gray line of improvement.

So if someone saw themselves as “I’m not a good athlete”, they would never even attempt taking part in athletics, or any kind of sports, whereas kids with a growth mindset, what they did is they would do is immediately dive into any challenge and they would literally learn as they go.

And they have significantly greater success rates over time, because they had much greater resilience, and they did not have anxiety of succeeding or failing. 

You know the thing is, from a self-esteem point of view, if you’re a success you feel great about yourself; and if you are a failure it’s a character thing. 

If I’m really good, if I’m really intelligent, it’s a great thing to feel great about myself. But if I feel stupid compared to other people, then it takes it hit on your self esteem. 

So it ties right back to your character, whereas the growth mindset really has much more to do about learning. It really says that any skill is learnable, and even character traits like intelligence or being a good writer or being great in relationships – you’re able to learn those skills.

The difference is profound in how it makes you approach projects. What I used to do is think black and white. Success or failure. That a lot of it had to come down to talent. I’m either talented at something or I’ve got a natural aptitude for something, or I don’t – those sort of absolutes. And this is why I procrastinated on projects that I felt was very important and very high leverage projects. 

If I would embark on this new website project I would try to figure out  in the beginning how to create the perfect website. I’d create wireframes and planning and… eventually I’d over-complicated the thing to a point where it just doesn’t seem possible to have the perfect website, because by then it was so big I didn’t have any budget or impetus or any energy left for the project; and I’d end up doing nothing, even though I was an action-taker.

So I found the answer and I decided to adopt a “growth mindset”. 

I decided that on new projects and areas where I’m not really good, to rather adopt a growth-oriented mindset where I would start a project and say, “let’s learn what works what doesn’t work”. Instead of thinking in terms of the finished product, let’s rather think of a departure point where we’re learning what works what doesn’t work, and then we add another little building block.

This show is a perfect example. Probably in another two or three months from now the show may look a little bit different, I might have different segments or maybe be slightly more slick when presenting the content, but it doesn’t really matter because what I need to do is get going! 

This is day one, and this is episode one. It feels great, it feels awesome! Because I don’t have the pressure of getting the perfect show, I’m not worried about getting number one on iTunes or having a YouTube channel with a million subscribers. That’s too far away! 

The instant I think about that, I’m gonna put pressure on myself and think, “oh my goodness, I shouldn’t start the show because it’s too intimidating”.

I’m not thinking about that. I’m thinking about you guys, I’m thinking about my clients, I’m thinking about our tribe, I’m thinking about how I can just get the message out, about how awesome digital is and how wonderful it is that you can now start in a basement and grow your own Empire, and how rapidly you can grow your own business.

The thinking is about how do you grow, how do you learn.

So guys, day one is one of the most exciting days in your life, and really the trick is to not think too much about the outcome. 

That’s this where goal-setting theory can work against you. You guys have heard it, “set SMART goals”. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic… SMART.

Let me tell you something: what SMART goals do is they give you clarity and direction, but it also sets you up for the potential of failure. Because if you hit your SMART goal you’re a success, and if you fail at it you’re a failure. 

So one has to be very, very careful to be too focused on the outcome, but you should rather fall in love with the process. 

You have to have goals, don’t get me wrong, you must know where you’re going, but you can’t obsess about success or failure. You have to take the moonshot, you’ve got to go for things, but you’ve got to think about growth. You’ve got to think about the learning, you’ve got to think about momentum – it is incredibly powerful – and instead of getting it right, get going and learn and adjust and course correct as you go. 

This should be great news for all of you guys.

I have a question for you that’s gonna take this idea and make it practical: Is there any area in your life where you’re procrastinating because you may be in a fixed mindset? Are you delaying or putting off a project – it could be a weight loss project, it could be improving a marriage, it could be getting going on digital – is anything that you’re putting off because there’s a part of you that is scared you may fail? That there’s a part of you that thinks, ‘oh my goodness, if I’m not good at this then I’m screwed and I’m gonna be a failure’? Is there a part of your life that may be held back by a fixed mindset?

And are there other areas in your life where you’ve got a growth mindset where you’ve got no problem to keep on going?

What action can you take today to take that project that you’ve been putting off, by just adopting a growth mindset? What can you do today to get going? What is the one action you can take right now in the next 24 hours that can give you momentum, and how can a growth mindset help you to take away the intimidation factor? 

What is something that you can do so that you no longer have the fear of failure? 

In closing, I want you to tell me what you thought of the show and what your action is that you’re going to take that will help you to move past the fixed mindset and to get into a growth mindset.

What is that one project for you that’s going to be day number one? Let’s do this together. 

This is day one for the Elite Entrepreneur show. What is your day one? 

Let me know in the comment section what is your day one, I want to know all about it.  

Those are guys watching on YouTube, please subscribe. 

Those of us listening on podcast, please hit subscribe so that you can get notifications about future shows. 

And those of you who really want to take the next step in digital, who have been kind of been tire-kicking and watching our stuff and thinking “maybe I should start a little digital business, maybe I should start an agency, maybe I should learn about digital”…  make today, day one. 

[At the top of this page] you can book a 15-minute call with one of my strategists, that will help us understand your situation a little bit better and see if digital is a good fit, if there’s anything we can help you with and if not, that person will point you in the right direction.

Give us comments in the comment section, let us know about your day one, let us know what you thought about this and let me know about topics that you’d like me to produce shows on. I really want to create this for you guys!

And those who haven’t yet, chat to my team, book a call and let’s get you going.  

I appreciate you, thank you so much for tuning in, I really appreciate the time.

I don’t take it for granted and I’m looking forward to day number two.

I’ll see on the next show. Thank you!