Most authors have two simple goals: make a difference and make some money. We want our work to matter, and to achieve the financial freedom to write full-time. Unfortunately, becoming a best-selling author doesn’t necessarily directly to relate to either of those.
My friend has written on the myth of the best-seller. I won’t reiterate it here, but suffice to say, just because you’re a best-selling author doesn’t mean you’ve impacted a lot of people or made a lot of money.
According to this week’s guest on The Portfolio Life, a book is successful because it creates real, measurable change for the reader from day one.
Listen in as Hal Elrod, the best-selling author of The Miracle Morning, and I talk about getting in a head-on collision with a drunk driver, running an ultra-marathon, failing as a success coach, and the morning his life changed forever.
Listen in as we discuss proven personal development practices, how to wake up motivated at any hour, and the #1 key to writing a book that creates a movement and earns you a fortune.
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To listen to the show, click the player below (If you’re reading this via email, please click here).
In this episode, Hal and I discuss:
- Doubling passive income in less than two months
- Convincing Pat Flynn to wake up early
- Why water wakes you up more than coffee first thing in the morning
- Impacting millions of lives and making millions of dollars
- How to go beyond being just best-selling author and create real impact and a great passive income
- Why every author should have a downloadable resource to reinforce the content of their book
- Leveraging the power of Facebook groups to launch a book
- Love your life even when it is difficult.
- Create a ritual around your content.
- Success is something you attract by the person you become.
- We are whatever we condition ourselves to be.
- Just because you’re a best-selling author doesn’t mean you’ve impacted a lot of people or made a lot of money.
You can’t launch a best-selling book unless you write a best-selling book.
What does your typical morning look like? How could a Miracle Morning routine change your life? Share in the comments
Click here to download a free PDF of the complete interview transcript or scroll down to read it below.
“In that moment, I stopped running and I replayed it, and I thought, “I’m not dedicating time every day to my personal development. Therefore, I am not becoming the person that I need to be to create the success I want in my life and sustain that success.” –Hal Elrod
[0:00:26.7] JG: Welcome to the Portfolio Life. I’m Jeff Goins. This is a show that helps you pursue work that matters, make a difference with your art, and discover your true voice. I’m your host, and I want to help you find, develop, and live out your own creative callings so that you too can live a Portfolio Life.
Let’s get started.
[0:00:43.7] JG: Hal Elrod, how the Hal are you?
[0:00:47.2] HE: How the Hal did my uncle Scott — every time I showed up to a family reunion he’d go, “Who the Hal invited you?”
[0:00:55.6] JG: I just assumed you’d never heard that before.
[0:00:57.8] HE: You just tapped into a real deep painful part of my childhood, Jeff, thank you. It’s a great way to start the…
[0:01:03.2] JG: Yeah, welcome to The Portfolio Trauma. Man, so great to connect with you. Had a great time chatting on your podcast, so it’s fun to have you here. I just want to jump in here, I want to talk about what it means to be a morning person or not, certainly want to talk about your runaway bestselling book, The Miracle Morning, which I’ve heard so many people talk about.
Pat Flynn just ate that up and was promoting it like crazy a while ago, and so it’s been fun to get to know you, and as I’ve said before, the thing that most impresses me about you, from what you can see on social media is, you know, apparently you’re successful in what you do, but what impresses me most is you’re clearly a family man, and I feel like you could sort of sniff out when somebody’s like, doing a publicity stunt.
Like, “Hey, I’m a good guy!” You’re not that guy. I could tell you really genuinely care, not only about the people that you’re serving through your books and your events and programs, but you know, that you put family first. I admire that and aspire to that. Man, so great to have you, thanks for being here.
[0:02:11.2] HE: It’s an honor. When I had you on my podcast, I told you that you’re like an internet celebrity to me. We’ve never met, but when you see somebody’s face enough times it creates this celebrity, like wow, this guy is the man. He’s everywhere. I’ve wanted to connect with you for a long time, and now that I’m on your podcast, it really is an honor, so thank you for having me.
[0:02:30.9] JG: Well, the honor’s all mine. You have a crazy story, and I think we should begin there. You died, is what I’ve read about your story. Talk a little bit about — before we talk about getting up early in the morning, you’re an ultramarathoner, you do some crazy things. Let’s start at the beginning, or at least where the story begins.
[0:02:50.9] HE: Where the story begins? Yeah. I did die. I am talking to everyone from beyond the grave.
[0:02:55.2] JG: How are things over there?
[0:02:56.9] HE: Yeah, this is probably a first for you, probably your first dead guest.
[0:03:00.2] JG: Yeah.
[0:03:01.1] HE: Actually, I came back to life, which was great. When I was 20 years old, I was a top sales person for Cutco Cutlery. I sold kitchen knives, and as one of their top sales people, I was always asked to speak at the events, I was always the motivational speaker, teaching how to get referrals or whatever, and one night I gave a speech, December 3rd, 1999. I was 20 years old. I gave a speech to a room full of 60 of my peers at a regional conference, and driving home that night in my brand-new Ford Mustang I had just bought, it’s brand new, bright white Ford Mustang 5-speed, kind of like the dream car on the way to the Ferrari someday.
At around 11:32 PM, driving home — I don’t remember what I’m about to tell you, just to be clear. I only know what I’m going to share here for the next couple of minutes because of eye-witnesses, and hospital reports, and that sort of thing, and doctor, hospital records, and police reports, all those. Around 11:37 PM, a man I had never met before, a drunk driver, got on the freeway, and his full-sized Chevy truck, much larger than my little Ford Mustang, came barreling down the highway head-on in my lane at 80 miles an hour.
I was doing 70 miles an hour, so right around 140/150 mile an hour head-on collision ensued, and my car, the air bags went off, and the hood exploded, or the hood was crushed, and the windshield shattered in, and the worst was yet to come. As my car spun off the drunk driver, the car behind me — here’s a little bonus lesson, right? Don’t follow too close to the car in front of you, but my car spun perpendicular to the highway and I was hit in the door. Like directly in my driver-side door at 70 miles an hour. The whole left side of my car, if you go to halelrod.com, you can fish around and find some — it’s some pretty intense pictures, but the whole left side of my car was crushed into the left side of my body.
Instantly, I broke 11 bones, including my femur broke completely in half, my pelvis broke in three places, my arm broke in half, severed the nerve in my arm, and then I punctured my lung, ruptured my spleen, and instantly suffered really significant brain damage and I started losing a lot of blood. Almost an hour later, that’s how long it took the rescue crew to cut the roof off and peel it back and pull me out using the jaws of life. When they finally pulled me out, I had lost so much blood that that’s when I actually died.
I had bled to death, and my heart stopped beating, and you know, of course, stopped breathing, and was clinically dead. Thankfully, they kept working and they kept working, trying to save my life. After approximately five to six minutes, I choked up some blood and I started breathing again. They rushed me to the hospital and I underwent emergency surgery, and I flat-lined two more times during the first six days while I was in a coma.
Then came out of the coma and had to face what was a very scary reality that I wake up and go, “Why am I in a hospital bed? How did I get here? Why am I in pain?” when I had no memory, and the news from the doctors was that I had permanent brain damage, and I would probably never walk again.
The rest is kind of history as they say. I wanted to defy the odds, so once I took my first step, I thought, how could I go beyond that? Five years later, I ran the ultramarathon, and burned my running shoes after that and checked it off my bucket list and don’t ever run anymore, but…
[0:06:16.6] JG: I mean, after, ultramarathon is what? 52 miles?
[0:06:18.9] HE: 52 miles, yeah.
[0:06:20.6] JG: There’s not much shoe left anyway.
[0:06:23.7] HE: Yeah, people were asking me like, “Wow, you ran an ultramarathon!” I always clear it up when people go, “He’s an ultramarathon runner!” I go, “No, by definition — I’m not an English major — but I think that insinuates that I ran more than one.” That was a bucket list, yeah.
[0:06:41.6] JG: I mean, you know, one 52-mile ultramarathon is more than enough for multiple lifetimes, probably.
[0:06:49.4] HE: True.
[0:06:50.6] JG: This is like, I’m just looking at your bio going, oh, no big deal. Keynote speaker, top success coach, okay. Hall of Fame business achiever, hip-hop recording artist? What does this mean? I mean, I know what that means, but…
[0:07:09.4] HE: Alright, Jeff.
[0:07:09.7] JG: Hip-hop is this new genre that the kids are listening to.
[0:07:14.8] HE: The kids are playing it and with the windows down. No, here’s the quick story, I was at a conference, I used to be a primarily a college speaker. I would speak at colleges, and I was at a conference where other speakers, and also performers, like musicians, that spoke at colleges were all trying to get booked at colleges.
I met this gentleman, Kosha Dillz, that’s his hip-hop name. He is a Jewish rapper and he had a really fascinating story. One of his songs got bought by Budweiser, and 15 seconds of his song got played in their commercial for like, he got like $65,000 for these 15 seconds, and so we’re talking and I’m just fascinated by his drive…
I’m really just inspired, because he’s someone that’s pursuing his dream, he hustles, goes around the country nonstop to shows, he’s trying to make it, and I give him a copy of my first book, Taking Life Head On, and I get a phone call. This was three years ago, I was working on The Miracle Morning book, and I was driving in a car with my wife a couple of weeks later and I get a voicemail from him, and I said, “Sweetie, you got to listen to this.”
He says, “Yo, Pal Hal, it’s Kosha Dillz,” and he does a little rap for me. He goes, “Dude, you gave me your book, I haven’t read a book since high school. I can’t put this thing down, you died!” He goes, “We got to write a rap song about it. Call me.”
I just laughed it off, and I had played it for my wife, and she goes, “Sweetheart, wasn’t your dream when you were a kid to be a famous rapper when you grew up?” I said, “Yeah, I used to write raps and stuff, sure.” She goes, “Well, why don’t you call him and tell him you want to do a song, but you want to be on the song and not just have him do it for you?”
I called him and I said, “Hey, let’s do a song,” and he said, “Let’s do it!” And I said, “I want to be a part of the song.” He goes, “Dude, can you rap?” I flowed something from like, fifth grade or something to him, and long story short, we got in the recording studio.
It’s amazing man, his best friend that he grew up with is the producer for Kelly Clarkson, and P!nk, and all these huge — we were in this guy’s home recording studio, and we did The Miracle Morning. It’s the best $1.29 you will spend on iTunes today. The Miracle Morning. It’s a fun, upbeat, hip-hop, positive, motivational rap song. Yeah.
[0:09:23.0] JG: I love that. That’s awesome. The Miracle Morning is this book that I heard about really in the past year or so. It’s not a new book, it’s a newer book, but it was published in 2012. How did you get the idea to write this? It wasn’t your first book, so where did this come from?
You know, having an incredible story, like your rap friend said, you died. That’s a great story. This is a self-help book, you know, motivational book about morning habits and routines, and how that can affect your success. Where did that come from?
[0:09:59.0] HE: Yeah, I was never a morning person, and I’ll tell you, Jeff. Almost anything I’ve ever done, but especially the books that I’ve written, they did not come out of a dream of being a writer. They both came out of a sense of responsibility to — when I say both, meaning my first two books, Taking Life Head On was about the car accident, and what I learned about how to love your life even when it’s difficult, and how to create the life of your dreams even when you have every obstacle, every set back and every reason not to. That was the first book. Again, I felt a sense of responsibility.
Well, six years after the first book came out, in 2012, or should I say 2009, the US economy had crashed in 2007 and 2008, and I kind of crashed with it. Before it crashed, I had a successful business, I was making right around six figures, and I just left my sales crew after I hit the hall of fame, and wanted to venture out on my own.
I started a speaking business, a coaching business, wrote that first book, and when things were great, before the economy crashed, I was 5.7% body fat. Best shape of my life. I had bought my first house, I was living with my future wife, so life was amazing, and when the economy crashed, I lost over half of my clients because they couldn’t afford to pay me, therefore I lost over half of my income, therefore I couldn’t pay my mortgage. I lost my house. I canceled my gym membership, I went from 5.7% body fat to 17% body fat, and really a six-month kind of downward spiral where physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, or even relationally, all of my mental and emotional and financial challenges were causing a lot of stress in my relationship.
I finally broke down and I called my best friend John Burghoff, one of my closest friends and one of my wisest friends, and I said “John, I’ve got to tell you, I’ve got a confession to make. I haven’t told this to anybody,” because Jeff, I was a success coach, so you might get the contrast, the identity crisis of reaching out and going, “Hey, I’m failing miserably. I need more coaching clients. Do you know anyone that needs a success coach that is failing miserably? I really get what they’re going through, if that helps.”
I didn’t tell anybody, and I finally told John, and his advice was, “Hal, every morning, go for a run. And while you’re on that run,” he said, “I’m going to encourage you to listen to a self-help audio aid, a business book, whatever area of your life you need to improve. While you’re running, you’re going to be in a peak physical, mental, and emotional state. Listen to something that you need to gain knowledge that you can then immediately run home and apply. Invest the first hour back from the run in applying what you learn.”
I really discounted his advice. I thought, “Dude, number one, I hate running,” and he said, “What do you hate worse? Running, or your current circumstances?” I was like, “Alright, screw you, I’ll go for a run,” but number two, I thought, “I need to be making money. This feels like a waste of time.” And it just so happens on my very first run, I heard the quote, a quote that I’ll share right now, because this quote literally was the catalyst for turning my life around faster than I ever thought possible. It really was what gave birth to the concept that is now The Miracle Morning.
The quote is from Jim Rohn, I’m guessing you are a fan of Jim Rohn’s, yeah? He said, “Your level of success will seldom exceed your level of personal development,” and he went on to say, “because success is something you attract by the person you become.” In that moment, I stopped running, and I replayed it, and I thought, “I’m not dedicating time every day to my personal development. Therefore, I am not becoming the person that I need to be to create the success I want in my life and sustain that success.” That’s true for 99% of our society, right? Who wakes up and goes, “I’ve got to dedicate a really intentional, focused, personal development ritual every single day,” you know?
To kind of keep a long story short, or shorter, I ran home, I spent an hour online googling phrases like “what are the world’s most successful people doing for personal development,” and Jeff, I was looking for the one thing that could change everything. I couldn’t narrow it down to one. I had a list of six practices, I’m reading articles on Fast Company, and Forbes, and you know, Huffington Post. These six keep coming up.
It depends on which successful person that you read about or you hear a quote from as to which of these is the best, which of these is the most effective, and so I almost threw in the towel and I was kind of — what do they call that? Paralysis by analysis, right? Then I had the breakthrough. I went, wait a minute. I can’t figure out which of these is better, I don’t think one is better. All six of these are — any one of them is a game changer. I thought, what if I did all of these?
Not a single person I’ve read about does more than one or two of these. Maybe three at the most. What if I woke up tomorrow and I did all six of these, 10 minutes each, six of the world’s most powerful proven, personal development practices known to man? I woke up the next morning, I sucked at all of them. I wasn’t good at meditating, I wasn’t good at a lot of these.
That was the morning my entire life changed, and this is kind of where I’ll wrap up the story, is I woke up the next morning at 5:00 AM, which if you ask anyone that knew me back then, I wouldn’t be caught dead waking up at five unless I had to catch an early flight, right? Never. I only woke up when I had to wake up, which is what most of us do, right?
Look at your schedule. You’ll go, “When’s the last possible minute that I could wake up and not get fired, divorced, have my children taken away from me?” Right? I call that a mediocre morning. I woke up an hour early, I went to these six practices, and by 6:00 AM that morning, my whole life changed because my perspective changed.
I went, “If I start every day with this much clarity, and energy, and motivation, and confidence, it’s only a matter of time before I turn my life around,” and the story comes to a head with the results. It was less than two months that I more than doubled my income, which got me back ahead, at least you know, monthly. I had a cash flow. I went from being in the worst shape of my life, physically, to that was when I decided to commit to run a 52-mile ultramarathon, and I began training and finished it five months later.
I went from being deeply depressed, to the point of thoughts of suicide every day, of feeling hopeless to, again, it didn’t take two months for that to change, that was day one. I think it’s Tony Robbins that talks about depression as a result of a lack of a compelling future, right? No vision. Because day one, I thought I had optimism again. I had hope. I thought, “If I do this every day, it’s only a matter of time before I turn my life around.” I just didn’t know it would happen in two months.
I thought 6 to 12 of doing that every day would be the case, and the rest again is kind of history. It wasn’t going to be a book until I shared it with a couple of coaching clients. They got amazing results, and then once again I went, I have a responsibility. Like, I have to share this with the world. I have to write a book, and you know, we talked a little bit about this before the recording, it’s taken off in ways I never imagined. I never imagined it would impact people the way that it has, and I hoped it would, but I didn’t really imagine that it would do it to the level that it has.
[0:16:43.4] JG: Yeah, it’s been incredibly successful. We should mention that it’s a self-published book, and I know that plenty of listener’s ears just perked up at that, going, “Wait, you didn’t have some big New York publisher come and say, ‘Hey, we want to pay you $100,000 or a million dollars to write this book?’” I want to talk about the success of that book, because it’s very interesting how that’s happened. Before we do, let’s talk about this thing that a lot of people aspire to but struggle with, myself included, which is getting up early.
My story is I wanted to be a writer, I thought about being a writer, and I dreamed about being a writer, and I wasn’t writing anything. It was the opposite of you, where I had nothing to write about, but I wanted to be a writer. You had something to write about. Okay, fine.
I had to get up at 5 AM every day, and I just started writing, and a year later, I had found my voice. I had a book contract and I was on my way to working for myself. It was great, you know? Without getting up early, that would not have happened, but I know so many people go, “I can’t do that,” or, “Yeah, but you don’t have as many kids as I do,” or whatever.
I have no doubt you’ve heard all of these objections and more. A couple of questions about that, before we move on to the success of the book. One, when you started getting up at 5:00 AM, did you have a family?
[0:17:57.9] HE: Nope, I did not have a family at that point. I didn’t have kids.
Click here to download a free PDF of the complete interview transcript or scroll down to continue reading it below.
[0:18:02.6] JG: You have a family now. Are you still getting up early?
[0:18:05.2] HE: I get up at 3:30 seven days a week.
[0:18:08.2] JG: I get up at 3:30 PM, from my nap that starts at 1 PM. You’re still living your message, which is good, that would make for a very uncompelling podcast. “No, Jeff. I did this when I was single, and it made me a bunch of money, and I sleep in to a good solid 10:30 AM.”
You’re a family man now, you’re getting up even earlier. How do you respond to that objection which is, “I can’t do this, I don’t want to do this, I’m a night person,” I mean, what’s your thought on that?
[0:18:38.7] HE: Yeah, there’s a couple of thoughts on that, and first I’ll start with like, I don’t — I think that me trying to sell people on it is less effective than me using a little social proof, you know? I actually had someone ask me, probably a year ago, they said, “Hey, I’m seeing your book take off. You have this huge Facebook group, and these people are like, you know, fanatical early risers now,” and he said, “What percentage of your audience, your community, your readers, do you know what percentage of them were already morning people? So this was just easy, this gave them structure, just kind of turbo-charged their morning? What percentage of them had never — they were not morning people, they didn’t come as a morning person, they didn’t wake up early, and this totally was a radical change for them?”
I didn’t know the answer. I had no idea, and I was guessing maybe 30%, 37%, I don’t know. I really didn’t know. I surveyed our community, and back then — our Facebook group is like 31,000 now. I think it was 10,000 then. I just put in there, I surveyed, I got hundreds of responses, and it was roughly 72% of our community said they were not morning people before the book. They had never been a morning person.
I share that, because I think one of the things I talk in the book is thinking you’re not a person, that’s a limiting belief. We are whatever we condition ourselves to be, right? I wasn’t a runner until I started running, and I literally though, similar to someone that thinks they’re not a morning person, I thought, “I’m not a runner, I hate running. It’s not comfortable. I don’t feel good when I do it, right?” I thought I wasn’t a runner, so then I ran a mile, and then I ran two miles, and then I ran 52 miles, gradually.
That’s the first thing I would say is just be open to look, you can become a morning person. The other thing is, well, why, right? Why do you want to be a morning person? Pat Flynn is a great example of this, and this is more kind of social proof. I was a huge fan of Pat Flynn, who you mentioned earlier, and big fan, sent him the book. “Hey, huge fan, here’s my book,” right, great. I think like six months later, he emailed me and he said, “Hal, hey. I keep hearing about your book, but I’m not a morning person. I have no desire to be a morning person.”
If anybody listening doesn’t know who Pat Flynn is, he runs a 7-figure business, he is a marathon runner, he is a phenomenal dad and a phenomenal husband, like he’s very family-oriented, he has a phenomenal lifestyle. He’s living the dream. He basically kind of challenges me, “I’m going to have you on the podcast. I’m really curious, I’m interested, I haven’t read the book,” and he says, “but I’m going to tell you, my kids, I wake up in the morning, I don’t set an alarm, I wake up when my two kids come running in jumping on me, saying, ‘Daddy!’” and he goes, “I love that.”
Jeff. You put yourself in my shoes, I’m going in the interview, I go. How in the hell do you convince a man that has a seven-figure business, living their dream, and they love having their kids jump on them to wake up? I’m going to go, “No, Pat, that sounds sweet, but you need an alarm.” Long story short, the interview’s over and I’m like, nervous, the whole thing, I’m going, “How am I going to convince him?”
He goes, “Hal, I’ve never thought of it that way.” He goes, “What I realize is, maybe I’m missing out on a level of productivity that — I’m doing good, but,” he goes, “I think maybe I’m missing out on great. I’m going to try this Miracle Morning thing for 30 days. I’m setting my alarm clock, I’m going to get up early,” and Pat, since then has done shows, multiple shows, on his miracle morning, and how he says it has, at a minimum, it’s 4Xed his productivity, and he is now a total morning person. He used to be a night owl, you know?
[0:22:10.4] JG: Yeah, I think Pat was the first one, I think sort of heard about it, and heard about you a little bit, but I knew, like I know Pat, and his deal is like, “I spend all day with my kids, basically, drop them off at school, pick them up, all about the family,” and I’m like, “How do you get stuff done?” Well, he works from like 9 PM to 3 AM every morning. Sometimes starting later. He was like a total night owl, and then he’s talking about being a morning person, and I’m like what? What is this? Total conversion experience. That really caught my attention, to just kind of give credence to what happened here.
[0:22:47.9] HE: That’s why I shared that, because like I said, me telling you anything, I’d rather say look. If a guy at that level could find that there was more fulfillment, more success, more available to him by implementing the Miracle Morning, the morning ritual, it’s like, I think it’s universal for everybody.
I think that’s a good example, because like, I was at rock bottom when I created it, and it turned my life around. Pat is, you know, extraordinarily successful, and it took his life to another level, and so I was kind of — I joke sometimes during a speech, I’m like, “This only applies to you if you’re in between rock bottom and earning a million dollars a year. It only applies to that category.”
If you want, I can give a few tips on like, obviously, it’s in the book, but I don’t want to be like I’m not going to tell you anything.
[0:23:31.1] JG: Yeah, please do.
[0:23:31.4] HE: If you want, yeah. There is a chapter in the book, it’s where I’m pulling this from, the Five Step News-proof Wakeup Strategy for the Snoozaholics. Very long title of a chapter. That’s why I’m self-published, because the shit that I write, no publisher would ever let me put that in a book.
Yeah, it’s funny that it was a blog post initially, and it’s arguably the most important chapter in the book, because it’s the lynchpin, right? Here are the key of these five steps, I can probably get through all five here, but number one is you’ve got to move your alarm clock across the room. As far away as possible. This is like, it sounds so elementary, but most of us have our alarm clock within arm’s reach. I don’t know about you, but when the alarm goes off in the morning, I usually am not even fully awake when I make the decision “Am I going to reach over and hit the snooze button and shut that thing up?” And more often than not, I would do it.
[0:24:23.3] JG: Sometimes you snooze, you don’t even remember it.
[0:24:25.7] HE: That’s what I’m saying. You’re unconscious still. You’re still in dreamland, like in your dream, dammit, why did I sleep in? I thought that was a dream that I was hitting the snooze button. Moving it across the room, that forces you to get out of bed, walk across the room to turn it off. Think of it this way, I call this your wake-up motivation level. When the alarm goes off in the morning, if you’re measuring your wake-up motivation level on a scale of 1 to 10, most of us are at like a 1 or 2, right? We don’t want it, we’re like, I just want to keep sleeping, you know?
Why? It’s because an object at rest will stay at rest, right? We want to continue. We’re feeling good sleeping, we want to keep sleeping. You’re at like a 1 or 2. Well, if you have to get out of bed and walk across the room within 10 seconds, you’re at like at a 5 or a 6, right? Here is a rhetorical question, but humor me and answer it. Is it easier to have the discipline and make the decision to stay awake when you’re at a 5 or a 6 and you’re on your feet out of bed, or when you’re lying there with your arm on your phone?
[0:25:26.0] JG: It’s easier to get up and stay awake than it is to hit the snooze.
[0:25:32.0] HE: Yeah, it’s a simple — sorry I made you answer that.
[0:25:34.5] JG: I was like, really trying to be clever and go, how can I be a smart-alec? I couldn’t. I was like, “You’re right, Mr. Elrod.”
[0:25:43.0] HE: I appreciate the search for sarcasm. That’s valuable.
[0:25:45.6] JG: That’s my quest.
[0:25:48.5] HE: Yeah. That’s number one, move the alarm across the room. It is funny, I was given a speech to 50 CEO’s in New York City, and the CEO that introduced me, he’s the guy that brought me in, and his name is David, CEO of Lawline.com. Anyway, he said, he goes, “I don’t know if Hal’s going to mention this, so I need to make sure I say it. There’s one tip in the book that was a total game changer for me. Move your alarm clock across the room. I never would have imagined, right? If it wasn’t for that I’d still be a — I wouldn’t be a morning person.”
That’s number one. Number two is, you got to set your intentions before you fall asleep about what the morning is going to be like. Specifically, those first few moments. Before I go to bed, I tell myself, no matter how many hours of sleep I get, I’m going to wake up feeling rested, energized, rejuvenated, and I’m going to jump out of bed, and I’m going to keep moving forward, right?
Whether you visualize that, or I have a bed time affirmation that you can — that’s available online if you Google “miracle morning bedtime affirmation,” I’m sure you can find it. Bedtime affirmation that I read it before bed, and it’s essentially programming my subconscious mind for how to respond when the alarm clock goes off. I’m not deciding in the moment, that moment of waking up, and not in my REM, or in the middle of my REM cycle or whatever. I’m not deciding in the moment in the morning. I decided the night before I went to bed, I had my intentions, rock solid commitment was made before I opened my eyes in the morning, and then when I open my eyes, I just live out what I visualized or affirmed before I went to bed.
The next tip is, have a full glass of water, and we can leave it at this and move on, but have a full glass of water right by your alarm clock so that when the alarm goes off, you think about this, Jeff. We’re dehydrated by default. No one teaches us this in school or anything, but if you slept for six hours, or seven, or eight hours, or whatever. That means you probably didn’t have water at that time. I know some people, they keep water by the bed and drink it, but that’s a small percentage of people that do that. For the most part, you’re dehydrated in the morning, and Jeff, what’s the beverage most people drink in the morning?
[0:27:35.4] JG: Coffee.
[0:27:36.3] HE: Which is a diuretic, which further dehydrates you. You’re really putting yourself behind the eight ball first thing in the morning. What I do is, like I was a college kid at a keg party, that glass of water, it’s a big full glass of water, and I just down it. I just down the whole thing, and then I go downstairs and I fill it up and I start sipping on it.
Then I make my coffee, by the way. I love coffee. I have Bulletproof coffee every day, but not until I’ve had a full glass of water to rehydrate. There’s a couple of other real kind of basic tips, but those are the main ones.
[0:28:04.0] JG: Yeah, it’s true, the college kids drink a lot of water.
[0:28:07.4] HE: Yeah, exactly, right? To rehydrate, in case they, yeah.
[0:28:14.3] JG: I love that, that’s really great practical stuff. To be honest, I was an avid morning person, and then I kind of fell out of it when I became a dad, for obvious reasons. You get less sleep, you’re like, “I’m going to take every minute I can get,” and I’ve been wanting to get back in it, and I love getting in to that, because even though I work for myself, even though I’m a full-time writer, I find my day being interrupted by one thing after another.
What I loved about getting up at 5:00 AM is nobody’s interrupting you, you know? The kids are asleep, the wife is asleep, the world is asleep. You’re not getting a lot of emails at 5:00 AM, you’re not getting a lot of interruptions or distractions from the work that you need to do, including personal work, writing for me, exercise, all that stuff. It’s easy to go, “I’ll do that later,” but when there’s nothing else to do at 5:00 AM, you’re like, “Well, I’m not going back to bed, I better do something productive.”
I love that, I love the practicality of that. Do you, you talked about whether I get a lot of sleep or not, I’m going to affirm to myself that I’m going to wake up well-rested. Do you get up early, no matter what, without fail? Even if you’ve, for whatever reason, gone to bed late or whatever? Are there exceptions to the rule? There’s been a lot of, I think, more recent studies — I remember reading Essentialism, for example. He talks about just the importance of getting a good night’s rest. Where do you fit on that spectrum, when it’s like, “Do I get a full eight hours or whatever versus maintaining my morning routine?” Which one wins out in that battle?
[0:29:42.8] HE: I’ve talked about, I addressed in the book about how many hours of sleep do we really need? I reference a lot of folks in history, some of the greatest minds in history, Albert Einstein, and Thomas Edison, and Benjamin Franklin, these guys were documented as sleeping like three, four, five hours a night.
I take a very non-scientific approach in the book. I say look, there’s a lot of books, and I recommend Sleep Smarter, there’s a lot of great books on sleep. But there’s also a lot of differing opinions. So I tell people look, here’s what I experimented with. I tried getting eight hours, or seven hours, six hours, five hours, four hours, and here was the difference.
This goes back to one of the tips I gave earlier about setting your intentions before bed. I tried all of those durations, but I tried all of them, each one. I literally did multiple nights at eight hours, telling myself I was going to be exhausted in the morning, and every time, if I set those intentions of being exhausted in the morning, that’s how I felt. I also felt exhausted if I got six, five, or four hours if I told myself I’d feel exhausted. I flipped it over and I went, I’m going to try eight hours, seven hours, six, five, and four, telling myself I’m going to wake up, and it’s a very intentional affirmation that I just have.
It really comes on the belief of the mind/body connection, you know? I think part of it is the fact that the doctor said I would never walk again, and then I chose to believe that I would walk, and I visualized it every day, and three weeks after my crash, after my bones were broken, the doctors came in with routine X-rays and they said, “We don’t know how to explain this, Hal. Your body is healing so quickly, we’re going to let you take your first step tomorrow in therapy.”
So it went from never walking, to three weeks after the accident and my first step. I think part of that is where my belief comes from is like, dude, if my body could heal my bones, I think I could regenerate my cells off of six hours of sleep or whatever. I dabbled, and you’ve got to experiment for yourself, but so I’ve settled in to right around six hours of sleep. Five and a half to six hours, and to answer your question about does it change? I try to keep it to five and a half to six. If I have a date night with my wife, you know, we’re up till midnight or whatever, I’ll usually sleep until 5:30.
[0:31:40.7] JG: Got it, cool. Yeah, you will adjust it, and you answer the follow up question, which is how much do you sleep? Okay, I got a few minutes left, and I’d love to talk about the book itself. I hinted at bestselling book, correct me if I’m wrong. It’s selling better now than when it came out, is that right?
[0:31:59.6] HE: Yeah, it’s selling. When we first came out, we were averaging 300 copies a month, and now we’re averaging 10,000 copies a month, so significantly better.
[0:32:07.0] JG: Incredible, so can we talk about that? Can we talk about number strategy and that sort of thing, because I’m curious, I know other people are curious, and we were talking before about this, and it seems like you’re pretty generous about that information. You don’t have any ninja secrets that you’re not willing to share.
[0:32:21.4] HE: No, yeah, go ahead.
[0:32:23.8] JG: Can we dive into that?
[0:32:24.5] HE: Yes, so I will give you guys my best tips right upfront on this, and I’ve done a lot of analysis and studying of my own reflection, evaluating and really figuring out, whether it was looking in my own book and figuring it out, or asking my community like, “Why are you telling your friends about this?” or saying, “Why are you buying it for everybody you know?” on and on, and so here are the main points.
I’ll lead with the number one key, I won’t save this one for last. I’ll just lead with the key. The number one key, I believe, to writing a book that creates a movement and earns you a fortune, all of those things — actually before I share with this, I do want to pause and say that there’s so much emphasis on becoming a bestselling author, right?
[0:33:07.5] JG: Yeah, of course.
[0:33:08.5] HE: It’s easy to do, right? You put your book in an obscure category, and you buy 50 copies at two in the morning, and you’re a number one bestseller, you know? And often authors are right there, they’re sold this bill of goods of this whole, you know, they sign up for a course, or just in general, they think that’s what they want or they’re after, but if you really think about it, and Jeff, I think you’d agree with this, is the two things that we want as authors, and I think this is true for almost any author if they really stop and think about it, you want impact and you want income, right? If you could have any two things, your book is impacting millions of lives and making millions of dollars.
I don’t know any two priorities that any author would put higher on the list than that, but if you think about becoming a bestselling author, for the most part, it doesn’t necessarily contribute anything significant to either of those. It can, but for the most part, by becoming a bestselling author doesn’t mean you made very much money, and it doesn’t mean your book is going to impact a lot of people, right? It doesn’t mean that two years from now it’s going to be selling more than it is now. For most authors, it’s selling a lot less, and so I wanted to mention that ahead of time, right? So how do you go beyond just being a bestselling author, and be an author that actually creates a real impact and creates a great passive income that you can pass on to your children someday?
So the number one key is behavior change. This is what I’ve come up with, or what I’ve figured out that’s the reason The Miracle Morning is so successful as a book, is it creates real measurable behavior change, and it does it from day one. If you think about it, most books don’t change behavior, they just change someone’s thinking, and our memories are short. So as soon as we’re done reading that book, we forget the changes. In fact, as soon as we’re on chapter three, we forgot the changes in thinking in chapter one, and on and on, and so we kept going through it, and what ends up happening is you go onto the next book, and once again, when you’re reading a book, and if you’re listening to this right now, stop me if you’ve ever been reading a book going, “Oh my gosh, this is the best book I have ever read!” Right?
Like I am thinking, oh man, it’s got me thinking so different, and then a few months later if I said, “What was that book all about?” Well, you learned a hundred things in it, maybe you could recite one, you know? And then I go, “What are you doing differently as a result of reading that book?” and then most of them, eh, maybe they implemented something, maybe not, but that’s it. If you can write a book that changes behavior, and it does it in a permanent way, well if you’re changing behavior in a way that adds value for people, then they’re going to continue to reference that book for as long as that behavior has changed. So that’s the short answer of how to do, or I can give you more of the how if you want, but go ahead.
[0:35:46.0] JG: Let’s talk numbers, that’s really interesting, and one of the things that I believe, and I had to learn this the hard way, by writing stuff I was interested and then going, “Why isn’t this selling?” and then trying to be really conscious of the content I put in my books, both stuff that I wanted to write, but also that I wanted to make an impact, and I believe that before you launch a bestselling book, everybody wants to launch a bestselling book, but my friend, John Acuff said years ago, when he had this New York Times bestselling book.
Everybody was calling him, and they were like, “Hey, I want a New York Times bestseller,” and he’s like, “Great, when is your book launch?” and it was like, “Well, next week or next month,” he’s like, “I’m sorry, I can’t help you. You need to start a year before the book comes out,” and I think what’s true, is you don’t launch a bestselling book, you have to write a bestselling book, and then, of course, launch it well, but I think you are absolutely right. I am speaking from experience, I was going for the New York Times list, sold so many copies of the book, did not hit the list, and I was like, “What do I really want? Did I want that type of New York Times bestseller?”
Sure, there was an ego part of me that wanted that but I was talking to my wife about this. I said, “You know the next book, that’s not what I’m going for.” She goes, “Come on, really? You’re going to try to do it again.” I said, “Really? I know that I say stuff, then really act differently, but really what I’ve come to terms is I would rather sell hundreds of thousands of copies of that book than get on some list that I really don’t have control over and never sell another copy.”
And the truth is, because I know so many people who do this or work in this industry, many, many New York Times bestsellers, Wall Street Journal bestsellers, hit that list and then never sell a copy after that, or don’t sell many copies after that. I love what you’ve done. I mean, it’s the same thing that Gary Chapman did with the Five Love Languages. Sold a few thousand copies the first year, a few more thousand the next year, then tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands and millions. That book has been out for 15, 16 years.
[0:37:43.6] HE: Has it really?
[0:37:44.7] JG: Every year it sells more copies than it did the previous year, and you’re in the millions of copies sold per year, and every year it sells more.
[0:37:51.9] HE: Wow. You just fired me up.
[0:37:54.2] JG: Dude, get it.
[0:37:55.8] HE: That’s the direction I’m headed, but I hadn’t thought that far ahead. That’s cool. Alright.
[0:38:00.2] JG: Yeah, it’s really interesting, and you know, what you’ve done, and certainly what Gary Chapman did, was you created a cultural phenomenon. You create something that people can talk about. People use that word Love Language, and I’ve never read the book. I have never read the book, I want to, but I still haven’t read that book, but everybody talks about that. My love languages, such and such, you know? And so he really created a cultural phenomenon.
So that’s what you’re talking about here. You are talking about creating something that creates legitimate life change, so I love that. Let’s talk numbers real quick. So you were sharing some numbers with me before the call. I don’t want to steal your thunder. Can we talk about books sold, money made, whatever things that you are measuring that you want to share, but I think it’s helpful for people to just get an idea. This is a self-published book.
I can go to Amazon and go, okay, it’s still selling well. I’m looking at the sales rank as an author, and I can interpret what that means, and then 1300 customer views obviously means it’s touching a lot of people’s lives, but how well is it selling? And it sounds like it’s escalated over the years.
[0:39:01.0] HE: Yeah, so we’re averaging 10,000 copies a month.
[0:39:04.3] JG: Which is incredible.
[0:39:05.1] HE: Yeah, last month — we did 17,000 in November, but it’s really a skewed number because Amazon bought 5,000 copies to front load their Christmas inventory.
[0:39:15.2] JG: Wow, interesting.
[0:39:16.7] HE: Yeah, it was great. I woke up one day, and a self-published author, I’m a little in numbers every day, so I’m obsessively checking out how many books did I sell today, and in the morning of the 15th of November, and in the morning I was at 3,000 copies for the month, 2,900 actually, and I was like, “Okay, you know, we’re on track for this month,” and I’m at Costco that afternoon with my family, and my wife’s got my kids and they’re just using the restroom, and I’m like, “I’m just going to check my numbers real quick,” and I was at 2,900 that morning, and I was at 8,020. I’m like, “What happened?!” Anyway, that’s what ended up happening.
Sorry to get off on a tangent, but so 10,000 copies, and yeah, I’ll just say, this is one of the reasons that I decided to go, I really invested a lot of time in researching between self-publishing and traditional publishing. I then actually, I did meet with 13 New York publishers a few months ago to take The Miracle Morning on, and we did get some really nice offers for advances, but decided to keep it self-published. But yeah, people can do the math. We’re averaging 10,000 copies a month, and about seven dollars per book is the royalty as a self-published author. It depends, it’s like between $7 and $9, depending on if it’s a paperback, or a Kindle, or you know, audiobook or whatever, but about average about seven.
[0:40:30.5] JG: Wow, that’s $70,000 a month, just in case you can’t do the math.
[0:40:35.6] HE: For me, it’s funny, like right after I talk money with you before the call, I’m like, I hope he kind of doesn’t ask — I’m kind of — Fine, it’s fine.
[0:40:43.5] JG: You know, I mean.
[0:40:44.6]HE: It’s important. If you’re an author, you should — and you’re considering, do I self-publish or traditional publish? Know the numbers of what’s possible.
[0:40:51.0] JG: Absolutely yeah. I get it, you’re not a bragger, but I love sharing numbers because it shows people it’s possible. I hope you know this, maybe you don’t know this, but so many writers talk about you just can’t make any money writing these days. I’m like what? This is a great time to be a writer.
[0:41:07.4]HE: I get that all the time. Whenever I meet authors they go, “Man, Miracle Morning is everywhere. How are you monetizing it?” I just sell a lot of books and it’s self-published.
[0:41:19.0] JG: Can we talk a little bit about strategy? What’s working for you, what has worked, was it an immediate success? It sounds like it was this Five Love Languages sort of escalating success. Was there something that you’d like, one day, other than Amazon buying 5,000 copies of the book, where you just woke up and you go wow, this is a thing now? Were you constantly pounding the pavement? What was the strategy and what worked?
[0:41:46.0]HE: Constantly pounding the pavement, believing in the message so much that — part of that, by the way, just to be clear. I deal with self-doubt all the time, and I did before I wrote — the book took me three years to finally believe that I had something to write, and even the day it came out, I’m like, “I don’t know if people are going to resonate with this, I don’t know.”
There’s that but yeah, Jeff, this will tell people two things, it will tell you number one about how hard and how long you have to work and promote for your book to get to this kind of a level, and it also tells people my number one strategy, other than the way the book is written and the behavior change, and there are some other elements in it I could mention of like, how I talked about paying it forward in the book, and if this impacts you, make sure you share it.
Just some of that, those seeds were planted, but by far, 100% podcast interviews has been the number one driver, where I can see the needle move based on being on podcasts, and this is my 209th interview on a podcast, I think?
[0:42:41.5] JG: You’re not counting?
[0:42:43.3]HE: Yeah, I just know it’s over 200, so I’m actually guessing. It could be 204, 216, I don’t know.
[0:42:48.2] JG: I was going for 217.
[0:42:50.6]HE: It might be the magical number 217. That’s your favorite number? 217? Yeah, over 200 podcast interviews, and big, little, it is just very recently that I started saying no to podcasts. For the last two years, I have done every interview and I still feel, because I’m a podcaster too.
I know what it’s like, I was going to my assistant today, and we’re going through the requests, and I’m like, “I feel bad to tell anyone that I won’t be on their podcast.” It’s like, you get to a point where there’s only so much time, and you got to kind of decide what you’re going to do, but yeah, I just want to say, I didn’t hold out for like the big guys. I did every single podcast interview. Everyone that gave me the honor of being on their show for the last three years, I’ve been on their show. The book has been out for just over three years, it published 12/12/12 was the original publish date.
[0:43:40.9] JG: That magic amazing number where the world was going to end or something.
[0:43:44.6] HE: Yeah, I think there’s a quite a few of those.
[0:43:48.3] JG: It didn’t, that’s good, still here. I love that. That’s amazing, it’s been incredibly successful, continue to be even be more successful. Are you just doing more of the same? You’re just doing more podcast interviews? There’s no secret sauce?
[0:44:03.0]HE: Not exactly. Like I said, because now I am at the point now where I’m only doing like the Jeff Goins, the big guys, but again, it took me 200 interviews to start deciding which ones I would and wouldn’t do, you know? In terms of “more of the same” of what I’m doing, now it is kind of a runaway I think, right? They call it a runaway bestseller where if I think if I die today, knock on wood, I think it will sell millions of copies, you know? Because it is a word of mouth kind of phenomenon, and all the podcast interviews did was they just boosted the love, it just got it out to more people.
But then once, the floor was raised, because it is such a word of mouth book, people that it changed their life, and then they tell their friends, it’s also something where — this is kind of unique, because they’re waking up early and maybe they’ve never done it before. Everyone of their friends, their family, they’re talking about it. There’s also a sense of pride, where you’re like, “Dude, I’m up at 5:00 AM.” They’re Facebooking that stuff, you know what I mean? I want to say, for anybody that — I don’t want to leave this out, because if you’re going, “Well Hal, you said, ‘Yeah, I should create behavior change,’ but I have a book on being happy, or I have a book or whatever,” Right?
The Miracle Morning is, it is a behavior change. It can’t not be, right? That’s where people ask me, how do I apply that to my content? The answer is very simple. It is, you just simply create a ritual around your content. That’s it. The Miracle Morning, the framework, it’s called the SAVERS. The six practices of The Miracle Morning is made up of, silent — so SAVERS is the acronym. Silence, Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, Reading and Scribing. You can take any of those practices, or even all of them. You can insert your content, so for example, if you’re trying to teach somebody how to be happier, right? You should have an affirmation that they read every single day that reinforces the concepts in your book.
That’s like, step one. Every single author should have a downloadable affirmation that people can print out and keep by their bedside table, or wherever they do their morning ritual or whatever. That they read it every single day, that affirmation to reinforce the content in your book. You win and they win. That’s one example, and then also you could have a journal that accompanies your book, and every day they’re journaling in, right, reinforcing the concepts that you taught them. There’s a couple of examples that are very simple, very universal that every single author can, and I believe should, apply to create behavior change around your content.
[0:46:24.3] JG: Okay, I would ask so many questions about this to get to a whole separate thing. I want to honor your time, I’ve already encroached on it. One more question, and then we wrap up. We’re going to tell everybody to buy this book for lots of reasons. The Facebook group. 30,000 people, that’s incredible.
You built this community, it’s free, Facebook groups can be really powerful. It’s interesting, because they were like, early Facebook, people in Facebook groups, and then they like, kind of went away, and now Facebook’s so big and kind of spammy, and so everybody’s gone back to the Facebook groups. What has that done for you? Given a place for your people to connect I’m sure. Have you seen that move the needle in any way that you can measure?
[0:47:02.9]HE: Yeah, it’s been incredible. To have your community supporting each other around your content, again, further perpetuates it, but it is also, having an army, kind of like an email list, I mean, I guess is similar. Here’s what’s interesting, actually this is interesting for you to know and anyone to know.
I have roughly 80,000 people on my email list, maybe 60,000 where the emails are all good or whatever. Let’s say 60,000. I have 30,000 Facebook folks. If I promote something or ask for something in the Facebook group, I get about 4 to 10 times the response. Half as many people, and I get 4 to 10 times the response. Yeah, what it’s done is, for example, I had someone post a negative review on Amazon early on, and it got the most helpful clicks, right?
[0:47:55.7] JG: Then people see that when they go see it, yeah.
[0:47:58.8] HE: All of a sudden, that review moved into the number one spot, where it was the first review you saw. I saw the sales of Miracle Morning drop off dramatically. I was freaking out, and I really felt it was an unfair review. This is probably a year or so ago or more, I thought it was an unfair review, and I thought, “I’ve seen The Miracle Morning save people from committing suicide. I’ve seen it — people saved their marriages, it got them off depression medication.” These profound results, and I literally was like, if this is putting doubt in people’s mind where they’re not going to buy the book, I didn’t feel good about it.
I went into the Facebook community, and I didn’t want — I was very clear on, “Hey look, here is this review, I feel like it’s unfair, I wouldn’t ask you to go do one way, I want you to authentically give your opinion, but feel free to read this review and if it is not helpful to you, click no. If you think it is a helpful review, click yes,” right?
Within 15 minutes, that review was nowhere to be ever be found again, you know? I just shared that as an example, and again, I would never do it in a reverse spammy way, or where I’m like, “Hey, this person doesn’t like my stuff, so go tell them they’re an idiot,” you know? In a way where it’s subjective and yeah, that’s an example.
When I’ve had — actually, a good example is Chandler Bolt, he did a launch recently, and I had never done an affiliate launch, and all I did was send out one email, and I put up a handful of posts in the Facebook group, and I was the number one affiliate just from that. That is the power of the Facebook group. It’s, by the way, to be very clear, the Facebook group, it’s in the front of my book. There is a special invitation to the community, it’s in the front of the book, and yeah, we have about a hundred people a day from all around the world ask to join the group.
It just keeps growing and expanding, but the neat thing is that group isn’t just folks that are — it’s not random folks, it’s people that have read your book. They’ve read your content, right? They’re connected on that. They have that common bond, and they support each other to live again.
[0:49:58.6] JG: Yeah, I love that. That’s amazing. Here is the secret to making $70,000 a month off of your book. Get up early, and in order to do that, you’ve just got to read Hal’s book. I love this. Hal, you’ve been so generous and so helpful. Thank you for that, and love your spirit, love what you’re about, and hopefully folks will pick it up. I highly encourage you, and those of you who have been listening to the show for a while know that I’m a big fan of, if you need to write and you’re not writing, you need to carve out time that isn’t being used for anything else, and early in the morning is one of the best times to do that.
I encourage you to pick up Hal’s book, The Miracle Morning, you can find it on Amazon, The Miracle Morning, the not-so-obvious secret, guaranteed to transform your life before 8:00 AM. Hal, thanks so much for being part of the show.
[0:50:45.2] HE: Jeff, the feelings are mutual buddy, thanks for having me.
“Thinking you’re not a morning person, that’s a limiting belief. It’s not — we are whatever we condition ourselves to be.” –Hal Elrod
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