The No. 1 Super Secret Ninja Rule of Rockstar Success

How many emails do you get with stupid subject lines like that? I get a lot of them and I hate them. I made a whole website making fun of them.

Nonetheless, this article is actually about The No. 1 Rule of Success. I just threw in the useless bullshit buzzwords because I think it’s funny.

OK, you ready? Got your rockstar pants on? Here’s the rule:

Stop caring so much about the fucking rules. 

Most business advice comes in the “slow and steady” flavor. Which, in my opinion, tastes terrible.

Skim through the typical entrepreneurial book or podcast and you’ll get something along the lines of, “research, plan, start slowly, save money, take baby steps, etc.”.

That has never worked for me. I don’t have the patience. I’m not saying it’s bad advice. It’s just bad advice for me. And it may be for you too.

I’ve wasted years of my life because I was so obsessed with doing everything the “right” way, the way I was told entrepreneurship had to be done. I would get hours of advice, do months of research and planning, only to burnout before I finished or launched a single thing.

One day I finally realized, there are no rules. Everyone’s path to success is different. All those people we put up on pedestals? They don’t have some sort of magic 8 ball telling them what to do. Most of the time, they’re winging it. Just like the rest of us.

But if there’s one thing they do have in common, it’s this: they don’t let the “unknown” keep them from doing it anyway.

I’m not afraid of taking big risks. I’m definitely a dive-in-and-hope-I-learn-to-swim-before-I-drown kind of guy. I love the thrill of learning on the job, so to speak.

I know that doesn’t work for everyone, and, before I get yelled at, I’m not suggesting you leap blindly. But, if you’re anything like me, you can easily get sucked into an endless cycle of preparation and not actually do anything.

I’ve had to painfully force myself out of this cycle. Only you know how much preparation you actually need. But I’m willing to bet it’s less than you think.

For almost two years I’ve wanted to make a podcasting course. TWO YEARS. I planned, I researched, but always managed to talk myself out of it, for one reason or another.

One night in November, I was up late doing my usual “dream and scheme” thing, and I thought, What if I just did it? What if I stopped all this talk and actually did it? 

So that’s exactly what I did. I quit doing client work. Literally, I just stopped. I had no savings, no way to pay the bills, no massive audience and no experience making a product. On top of that, I had a family to support and my fair share of student loans and debts to pay.

But I decided, in that moment, that the only way to change my future, was to just… change it.

The first thing I did was get an accountability partner. Someone I could call on when I was feeling overwhelmed and who would keep me moving when that all too familiar fear of failure started to creep in.

The next thing I did was launch a landing page for my course. That was December 16 and, at the time, I still didn’t know what would actually be in the course, I just knew I could make it, whatever it ended up being.

Seven days later (I gave myself one week to outline the course and put that information on the landing page) I opened it up for presale. This was two days before Christmas, which, if you don’t know, is the worst time of year to launch anything.

But, four days later, I had 100 preorders and an extra $5,000 in my bank account. 

Get to the point Adam!, you may be thinking.  OK, here’s the point: I’m telling you all this because I’ve spoken to many of you and I know how easy it is to overthink something to death and never actually do it.

Deciding to end that cycle has changed my life and it can do the same for you. I didn’t achieve these “successes” because of some secret knowledge or super power. I simply deciding to stop thinking about it and just did it.

It’s the start of a new year and you may be thinking about that thing in the back of you’re brain that you’ve wanted to do for a long time, but still haven’t.

You know the one I’m talking about. Yeah, that one.

Just do it. Seriously. Stop the planning and the thinking and the obsessing and just get to it. Make 2015 different.

I recently had a conversation on TGM with Donald Miller, one of my favorite authors. You can listen to the episode here, but one thing he said really stuck out to me:

“You don’t have to win, you just have to compete. And the bottom line is, most people aren’t competing. If you just get up and do the work, you end up in the top 10 percent fairly quickly.”

Our conversation was filled with stuff like that, but that particular bit really hit me.

I talk a lot about “just doing it”. But that’s because I so quickly forget it. If I’m not careful, I slip right back into planning and research mode because that’s my comfort zone. But if my past is any indication, my comfort zone tends to get me nowhere.

Here’s the bottom line: I’m not exceptionally gifted, a special case or an outlier. If I can do this stuff, anyone can. As Don said, you just have to get up every morning and do it.

And, as always, if you need a little help, don’t hesitate to ask.

There Are No Rules

I'm trying something new again. I decided to record this week's newsletter as a short episode of my podcast, The Gently Mad.


I’ll go ahead and tell you the secret: no one knows what they’re doing. Of course, there’s more to it than that, but you’ll have to listen to the episode for the extra goodies.

If you feel like subscribing to the podcast, you can do that here. And if you’re feeling extra nice, a review and rating of the show would be most appreciated.

It’s Time For A Change

When I first decided to pursue a career in the web, it was because I wanted to build my own businesses and make my own things and experience the freedom of controlling my own destiny.

The web industry is a wonderful place for the entrepreneurally-minded and I definitely found those opportunities within its borders. I’ve been a freelancer now for almost five years. I built a web design and development shop from the ground up that has supported me well. I’ve had the opportunity to work with (and for) my friends, which has been truly delightful. I’ve started lots of side projects, some of which have actually turned into their own businesses (Lift Themes, WP Theory, Goodstuff), and killed even more before they ever made it out the door.

I’ve really enjoyed my time doing client work and making websites for people. But I’ve come to the realization that if I want to accomplish the things about which I’m most passionate, I can’t do it alone. And I don’t really want to, if I’m honest. The time has come to take the next step.

I’m excited to announce that, as of today, I will be joining the folks at Lift UX and UpThemes as Director of Product, which is a fancy way of saying that I’m going to be spending a lot of time doing the things I love most–brainstorming, strategizing, storytelling, breaking, fixing, building… You get the idea.

I connected with Chris Wallace and Brad Miller (the founders of Lift) over a common vision for a family of products that we’ve all been working on in various forms for some time. We’ve spent a lot of time brainstorming and sharing our ideas with each other. In the end, we decided that it made a lot more sense to join forces and make something truly great, than to go it alone.

So, what exactly is this product we’re going to build? I’m glad you asked. Coinciding with my move to Lift is the acquisition of, the first church-specific WordPress theme shop on the internet. Up until now, ChurchThemes has primarily been a provider of free and premium WordPress themes built specifically for churches. The company has seen nearly 45,000 downloads of its products in the three short years since it opened shop.

We’ve got big plans for ChurchThemes and my primary role will be overseeing and leading the charge on those plans. The long-term strategy for ChurchThemes involves a marketplace where theme sellers can offer their own church WordPress themes. The marketplace will also hook into a new hosted website solution specifically for churches. ((There are number of hosted solutions out there, but we’ve got some cards up our sleeves we’re not ready to share just yet. Think HappyTables or, but blow-your-mind-awesome!))

We’ll be releasing more information in the near future about this new venture and what we hope to accomplish with it. In the meantime, you can whet your appetite here. If you want to be among the first to see what we’re up to, get yourself on that email list.

Building a product is hard. Building a great product that changes people’s live is downright magical. But if anyone can pull it off, it’s the Lift team. They’re a group of people who really believe they can change things. And as Steve Jobs is famous for saying, it’s the people who really believe they can change the world, that actually do.