SFN126: 200% Funded in 4 Days - The Mindset Behind Massive Kickstarter Success

Cathryn Lavery and Allen Brouwer are serial entrepreneurs with vision. We recorded this podcast just a few weeks before they launched their Best Self Journal on kickstarter with incredible results. They were fully funded in 28 hours and doubled their funding in four days with no end in sight. Listen to hear the backstory of how this duo put this project together.




Show Notes

  • BestSelf.co - get all of your goodies, including SELF Journal, 37 Productivity Hacks and more!

Podcast transcript:

Starting from Nothing – The Foundation Podcast
Guest Name Interview – Cathryn Lavery and Allen Brouwer
Introduction: Welcome to Starting from Nothing – The Foundation Podcast, the place
where incredible entrepreneur show you how they built their businesses
entirely from scratch before they knew what the heck they were doing.
Frank: Welcome to another edition of Starting from Nothing podcast. I’m your host
Frank Mocerino. Today we’ve got two special guests with us. We have Allen
Brouwer and Cathryn Lavery, good friends of mine and serial entrepreneurs.
Successful serial entrepreneurs here to talk a little bit about productivity
hacks, partnership, and the new project they’re working on that’s really
exciting. Welcome Cathryn and Allen.
Cathryn: Hey, Frank.
Allen: Hey, Frank. Thanks for having us here.
Frank: Yeah, welcome.
I want to dive in right because the two of you both run several companies.
You guys have been successful at entrepreneurship from a few different
aspects. I’d like to give the listeners an understanding of what you guys do
and kind of how you’ve come to this project.
Cathryn, would you give the audience a little bit of background on successful
Kickstarter projects, what your initial industry was before you left your job,
and kind of how you’ve arrived right now – your journey through
Cathryn: Okay. I actually studied Architecture for six years, went to move from Ireland
to New York, worked as an Architect for two years. In about six months into
that job, I was like this is not going to work for me. I knew I had to get out of
my job and figure something else out.
I actually started a design company on the side of the Architecture job which
I was working crazy hours but I would always make sure that I would spend
maybe an hour a day on that business. I did that for about 18 months. Then I
was making enough money that I could get by and quit my job so I did that.
Things just started to go pretty well for that business. I knew it wasn’t the
end result I wanted but it was a start.
Then I found The Foundation and sort of met all of the entrepreneurs that
sort of help me shape where I wanted to go, got my rituals intact, and, yeah,
it really helped me. Since then I’ve started a few other businesses that have
done pretty well so far.
Frank: Amazing. I’d like to hear a little bit …
Cathryn: [unclear 00:02:24] with Allen, aren’t you? Allen and I were accountability
partners in The Foundation and, yeah, that’s where our sort of partnership
Frank: Wow. So you guys were accountability partners first. How long ago was that
that you guys first met either in person or over the phone?
Allen: Actually, we were in a group call. We had a weekly group chat, I think, like
every Monday night. I needed an accountability partner because mine was
shit and she needed a different accountability partner because hers was shit.
I was like, “Hey, let’s start being accountability partners.” I think that was in
December of 2013.
Cathryn: Yeah. I remember when Allen asked me, I thought it was awesome because I
remember he posted this video helping people with something online. I knew
– I saw this before I even talked to him in these group calls. I was like, “Wow,
he’s really on top of it. I hope we can become friends sometime.” When he
asked me to be accountability partners I was like, “Wow, I must have
something if he wants me to be his accountability partner.” So that was fun.
Frank: That’s awesome.
Here’s a question that we’re going to take right now because I think a lot of
the listeners will be wondering. What are your top characteristics for a good
accountability partner?
You both mentioned that you had bad ones in the past and, obviously,
something that you guys did together has been working because it’s been
almost two years and now you’re launching two companies together. What
are the characteristics of an accountability partner that makes someone
worth sticking with for two years versus somebody who you dump and then
talk about on podcast two years later and say that they were shit? What’s the
Allen: I think one difference was just showing up. That’s a huge thing. If your
accountability partner isn’t showing up and holding you accountable like
what they’re supposed to be doing, that’s a huge part of it. What else made
our accountability partnership good and everyone else is bad?
Cathryn: I think it’s just … I knew that Allen worked hard and I knew that I worked hard
and just having someone that would keep me – like also call me on my
bullshit. Allen will call me when I’m procrastinating on something and having
someone that’s not afraid to do that is very important.
Allen: Yeah, and I think – back to our own drive. If you have your own personal
drive and someone else has their own personal drive, that compounds when
you link together and you guys try to help each other out, you can get to
where you want to go. When we created our accountability partnership we
were already moving towards our goals on our own but it was just that much
quicker when we came together.
Like Cathryn said, we give clear goals and where we want to go and what we
wanted to strive for. When we weren’t on that path, we’d be like, “Hey, why
would you even waste your time doing this? It has nothing to do with what
you’re trying to accomplish.”
Frank: Got it. So what I’m really hearing is that a good accountability partner is
someone who is willing to have uncomfortable conversations with you and
you’re willing to do the same for the other person.
Allen: Oh yeah, definitely.
Cathryn: Yeah.
Frank: Alright, that’s good stuff.
Let’s start talking about the new project that you guys are working on. Why
don’t we start it off with two things: what is the project overall and what’s
the mission of the project? What’s the why behind it?
Cathryn: Since Allen and I have become accountability partners, we realized that the
success that we would see in our businesses was directly proportional to how
much personal growth that we forces on upon ourselves. We’d be reading
books, and going to conferences, and doing all these things that successful
people should do. That just helped us level up to where we thought we
should be.
This project is called Best Self. We want to create meaningful products that
help people become their best self. The first part of that is actually a
structure that we worked with other entrepreneurs and high performing
people to sort of put a structure in place that you don’t have to really think
of, “Okay, how do I create this ritual for myself? How do I create a
meaningful morning routine?” Just model what’s already working for other
people, tweak what you need to do, and that’s really what the first thing
we’re working on is.
Allen: We’ve sort of compiled a bunch of strategies and techniques from all these
high level entrepreneurs. We’ve modeled what made them successful and
not other people successful and we pretty much cut out all the crap. We put
it into something that will be useful like a framework, I guess.
Cathryn: Allen and I actually started using this framework. We created this book for
each other and we … basically after we tweaked and experimented for a
while, we came up with this product for ourselves. And then we actually
wanted just to make it so that we could use it in our everyday without pulling
things from here, there, and everywhere.
When we started to look into pricing we’re like, “Actually, this would be a
great product for other people that were struggling in the same way that we
were.” When we first started even though we were accountability partners,
we would still feel like we’re on a hamster wheel so we’re like working all
day. And then at the end of the day we still aren’t sure what we
accomplished that really drove our goals forward. That was in stark
difference to how we feel today where we feel like intentional in our days
and what we’re doing.
Allen: Yeah. We both run our own businesses separately and we run businesses
together. We needed some sort of structure to help us prioritize what
needed to get done throughout the day because we were running so many
things doing so much.
Frank: Man. Okay, I want to hear about some of these productivity hacks that you
guys are talking about. I’m sure many of the listeners actually have
experienced the feeling of waking up in the morning in entrepreneurship and
not feeling like you want to go forward, feeling like you just want one day off
where you’re going to start the next project tomorrow. These things that you
guys do to maximize productivity and prime your brain are really important.
Why don’t we go through how each of you spends the first few hours of your
day? There’s been a lot of stuff out there about what to do in the morning,
what’s important. You guys have an entire project built around how to be as
productive as possible. We have to know, from the two of you, what do you
guys do first thing in the morning. Why don’t we start with Allen.
Allen: Sure. I have a morning routine that I try to do every day.
Frank: Try to, what’s that mean?
Cathryn: Yeah, what does that mean?
Allen: Some days I have things going on and say I have to wake up early and go
fishing and we need to leave the dock by 4:30 in the morning. My morning
routine normally takes three hours. So I’m not waking up at 2 AM to do a
three-hour morning routine to go fishing at 4:30 AM. I’ll leave it behind that
Frank: Got it. So those are the days that you’re trying.
Allen: Yes. But I did, however, do it even the day of my wedding. It’s funny how that
My morning routine is wake up somewhere between 5:00 and 5:30, start the
coffee pot which is already set up from the night before. I let out the dog.
Then I’ll do a 20-minute guided meditation. I normally use the Headspace
app. I just like it. It’s easy, walks you through everything. I normally do the 20
minutes because 10 minutes and 15 minutes is too short for me.
From there I then do either three to four mile run, or I do yoga, or I work out
– one of those – some sort of physical activity. Then I make breakfast,
normally egg breakfast: three eggs, four strips of bacon. Then I jump into the
shower, cold shower, while saying my affirmations. Then I get out and I read
15 minutes. I’m normally reading three books at a time so I’d take 15 minutes
to read one book, 15 minutes to read another book, and 15 minutes to read
the third.
Then once all that’s done, then I jump into my highest leverage activity which
I had already scheduled and mapped out from the night before.
Frank: Wow!
Allen: I have to do all that in order to get into work mode.
Frank: Alright. The listeners are wondering how could you possibly do a three-hour
morning routine every day? Couldn’t that be eating into some of your work
time? I want to understand from you, Allen, what do you feel is so important
about the morning routine that you dedicate that amount of time to it?
Allen: Because I’m doing so much in my work life and everything, I’d need that time
in the morning for me. It’s important for me to spend that time to focus on
my health, make sure that I’m eating properly, making sure that my mental
stamina’s fine. I have to meditate everyday to keep that calm clarity. Because
if I don’t, then everything just starts falling apart. It’s the fundamental
framework that that gives me to do everything else in my life.
Frank: I want to take note of the fact that you’re very specific about a few things like
waking up, turning the coffee on, reading three books each at 15 minutes. It
sounds like everything that you do is really well regimented. Are you pretty
much just waking up in the morning and executing off of a system that you’ve
already built?
Allen: Yeah. It took me a while to fine-tune all this. It was a work in progress.
Figuring out what worked, what didn’t work, what I liked. I used to try to
wake up and go for a run before I meditated, but I realized that once I started
running in the morning, my thoughts would start creeping in and then by the
time I just did a 45-minute run, I couldn’t get into a deep enough meditation
and my day was all messed up. So that’s why I have to wake up and do my
meditation right at the beginning before anything else. But it took some finetuning
and tweaking to find that out.
Frank: If you were advising someone who doesn’t have a morning routine yet,
would you say that it would be good to just pick a routine, do it for a period
of time, record what works and what doesn’t, and then ultimately evolve it
into your ideal routine. That sounds like kind of what you did.
Allen: Yeah, 100%. I’m not doing anything that no one else does. I just took bits and
pieces from everyone else. Figured out what works for me.
Cathryn: Allen and I don’t have the same morning routine. Mine is an hour and 15
minutes. So it’s like half.
Frank: That’s like nothing. You’re not putting in enough morning time apparently.
Cathryn: Apparently.
Frank: Cathryn, what is your morning routine like? What are the most important
things that you do to prime yourself for the day?
Cathryn: I wake up, I have a large glass of water, I do the 7-Minute Workout, then I
take a cold shower, then I get dressed, then I – did I already say meditate? I
meditate after I get dressed. Then I read for 20 minutes one book, not three.
And then I sit down on my desk and I write 750 words approximately. I
basically just do a mind dump in the morning of sort of a stream of
consciousness. It’s called morning pages. Once I do that, I have my … from
the night before I set my tasks for the day. What are the three things I want
to achieve today, and then I focus on the first one. I actually I turn on focus
time using RescueTime, which blocks Facebook, Twitter, anything fun. Then I
just focus on one task until it’s completed and then at least I know I got one
thing off my list. I don’t even check email until as late as possible after 11:30
or so.
Frank: The 7-Minute Workout sounds like something that a lot of productivity
hackers are going to be interested in. What is that? How do you workout in
seven minutes?
Cathryn: It’s an app actually. It just runs you through different exercises. I think it’s 12
total. Sit ups, press ups, squats, everything like that in seven minutes.
Basically a body workout to wake your body up and get your metabolism
going. It’s just super quick and easy.
Frank: Alright, awesome.
Cathryn, I started hearing some of what you were saying in there and it
sounds like it might be coming from the project, right? The upcoming project
that you guys are going to be launching right now through Best Self, what is
Cathryn: It’s a journal. It’s called Self Journal and it’s a simple daily planner that helps
you set a goal, break it down, and reach it, and make reaching it inevitable
instead of just planning it.
Frank: Cool. What are some of those key things that are in the Self Journal that you
guys are going to be recording, or that other people will be recording through
the book on a day-to-day basis?
Cathryn: It’s basically … you create a ritual for the day. So you have your timeline for
the day where you time block basically your whole day. What I do at the
beginning everyday is I block out all the tasks I want to complete.
The three things that I want to complete every day, I actually write it into this
timeline, guess how long it’s going to take, and then block it in so that I know
that everything that I want to get done that day I’m putting into my schedule.
Which means if I want to go to the gym, I’m putting it in my timeline, if I want
to catch up with friends on Facebook I’ll put 30 minutes on my timeline that I
want to be on Facebook. It’s just being intentional with all of the hours in
your day so you’re really getting what you need to get done.
And then there’s the morning gratitude. So the three things in the morning
when you wake up like what are you grateful for and starting that off in the
morning so that you’re starting the whole day on this positive edge. Then you
write in your goals. This is not your daily goals, this is – like what are you
aiming for? What’s your outcome goal that you want to reach in the next
three months?
The important thing to write this down is … So when you write it down every
day you’re engaging all of your senses and your brain starts to recognize that
this is the thing that you’re trying to reach for and go for. The three things
that you want to achieve in the day are you’re reading these things it’s like,
“Okay, are these directly relative to the goal that I’m trying to reach?”
because if they’re not your brain’s going to recognize that and maybe you’ll
change that.
Then there’s the win section where, you know, at the end of the day, just
write in what did you achieve today. I remember I used to feel that – I used
to have this endless to-do list that would somehow be longer in the evening
than it was at the start of the day. It would just make me feel bad because I
was like what did I actually accomplish today.
This section is to just write about the good things that happened today, the
good things that you achieved. Even if it’s going to the gym, or sending that
email that you weren’t sure about. And then to end the day is just the
evening gratitude where you write what you’re grateful for either throughout
the day or just general in life.
Frank: Brilliant. Oh my gosh. Okay. You guys have really been intentional and
considering what is a great system that’s going to get entrepreneurs,
employees, people who want to be more effective throughout their day. You
guys have essentially created a system for people to map that out and then
hold themselves accountable. Holy cow! That is the big thing.
What I want to do is I want to understand from a listener’s standpoint, you
guys right now are amazing serial entrepreneurs who have achieved success,
right? So a lot of people that aren’t there yet are still looking to you guys and
seeing where did they come from and how can I get there.
So I want to understand your overall journey, which I think from Cathryn we
understand a little bit about being an architect. What I want to play a little
game and I want to go back five years from now and I want you guys each to
just describe what your outlook on the world was, and I’ll be more specific.
I’m curious what did you think you wanted to do with your life as far as a job
goes? What did you guys find important in life? Right now, you guys find very
– a lot of importance in productivity. So I’m curious five years ago if I would
say what’s the most important thing that’s in your life right now or that
you’re working on, what would that be like?
Five years ago I would be 25 years old, you guys would be a little bit younger
than that. Picture that version of yourself and then help me understand a
little bit about what your life outlook was. What did you think was possible?
What were you doing as a job?
Cathryn: I think I was still at uni studying Architecture. I thought I had my life planned
out. I think I was in my second last year or last year, I’m not sure. My plan
was I would finish school, I’d get my portfolio together, I would get a job, and
then I would work. There were no plans beyond that.
After working for two years … I started listening to entrepreneurial podcast
but I didn’t have any mentors or people in my life that were entrepreneurs.
My dad’s a doctor and my mum was a nurse. They’re very conventional in
what they think of as your life path. So Architecture was just, you know, it’s a
good job, you go into it. That’s what I thought I would be doing for the rest of
my life.
My life totally changed in the last three years from what it was five years ago.
Actually if you told me I would be here in five years, I would be … that’s crazy.
Frank: Alright. Couldn’t even really fathom it. Figured you were just going to have a
job and do that job everyday because you’d trained for it for a while.
Cathryn: Yeah. If someone had told me I did this I would be like, “Oh, I must have gone
to business school” or “I must’ve gotten an MBA” or something. You don’t
need any of that stuff anymore to start your own business.
Frank: That’s interesting. So I don’t need to get an MBA to start a business.
Cathryn: No.
Frank: Alright.
Allen, what were you doing five years ago? What was possible in your life?
Allen: Five years ago, that was 2010. I had just graduated college.
Frank: Okay. Do you still have highlights in your hair?
Allen: No, I don’t have any highlights in my hair.
Frank: Okay, we disagree on that. Five years ago you were still in college. What was
your plan for after college?
Allen: I was actually working at a bank and I was trying to work my way up like a
branch manager; something that I don’t care about. It’s very strange. That
was my plan five years ago. Then four years ago I transferred over to doing
marketing for a large company and realized that wasn’t what I wanted either,
and realized that … I don’t know.
Frank: Yeah. So let’s take this to the next logical step. What gave you guys the shift
in mindset to say, “I don’t want to be an Architect.” “I don’t want to be a
branch manager at a bank.” What was that flip that all of a sudden you said,
“Whoa, there’s a different way that I can do this.”
Allen: Sure, definitely.
That flip happened for me while I was doing the marketing for this [Yahoo
00:23:25] company. They told me that I pretty much wasn’t go anywhere no
matter how hard I tried with the company. They put a glass ceiling over me. I
was 23 years old and just busted my butt, and just working and grinding, and
realized that if I’m going to work and grind and put in all this energy and time
into something, I’m going to do it for myself and not someone else holding
me back.
Then it really transformed when my mom passed away. That’s when I was
like, “Oh, I’m putting in all this time and energy into something that’s not
getting me anywhere, and I’m also sacrificing the time and freedom to have
with my friends and family and things that I care about.” That’s when I really
knew that I needed to get out on my own.
Frank: Wow, what about you Cathryn?
Cathryn: I think working … when I moved to New York, the American work system is
much different than the European so I had two weeks off a year. Because all
my family were in Ireland I was like, wow, if I go home, I’d pretty much use
out most of my vacation time for a year.
I think the lack of time and then I sort of … valuing my time over money, that
was a big shift. And so then I just started looking around and seeing like how
can I just start making money on the side, then I would listen – I just found
some entrepreneurial podcast.
Actually, I just stopped listening to them for a while in my Architecture firm
because I get so frustrated that I couldn’t leave my job right away that I had
to stop listening. But, yeah, that was pretty much the start of it. Just realizing
like time is worth way more than money, and just seeing what other people
did, and listening to The Foundation podcast and seeing what was possible.
That was a big thing.
Frank: Cool. What was the first step that you took toward entrepreneurship for each
of you respectively?
Cathryn: Well, starting my design business on the side of my Architecture job; that was
my first experience of a business. I had an eBay business when I was like 14
but I don’t really count that, but this is my first experience. Joining The
Foundation was the biggest thing I’ve ever – it’s still probably the best thing I
ever did because it introduced me to everyone. You’re the average of the five
people you spend the most time with, and I wanted to be an entrepreneur
and be around people that value the same things as I did.
All my friends were Architects that I loved but their vision of what they were
going to have in their future and my vision were diverging as I realized that I
didn’t want to be in there anymore. So just meeting other people that
wanted the same thing as me was a huge, huge step for me.
Frank: Cool. So surrounding yourself with the right people is key.
Cathryn: Yeah.
Frank: I buy into that. You’ve got to normalize the experience that you want to have.
The more people that you spend time with that value entrepreneurship, that
value productivity hacks the more you can expect to reflect that in your own
personality. Okay, cool, I buy that. What about you, Allen?
Allen: Actually my first business venture was a complete dud.
Frank: Oh, that’s interesting, right?
Allen: Yeah. I started a clothing company for college kids. I realized after I invested
into the designs and printing the t-shirts – The clothing company strictly sold
tank tops and v-necks.
Frank: Hey, building a product that you would buy.
Cathryn: Yeah.
Allen: Yeah. But turns out, college kids are broke and they don’t have any money to
buy clothing.
Frank: What kind of stuff did you spend in terms of time and money to get that
going before you knew it was a valid idea?
Allen: I spent $2500.
Frank: Wow, as a college kid.
Allen: No, I was actually working at my job. I’m starting this on the side. It was like,
“Oh, I need to get out of here.” then I did that. I would try to promote it and I
realized that, “Oh, all people want is free t-shirts but little do they know that
this cost me $13 a shirt.” Yeah, it just wasn’t working out. Now, I have a
garage full of tank tops and v-necks still.
Frank: Alright. Regarding a project, I understand you’re either succeeding or you’re
learning a lesson and it sounds like you learnt a lesson. From that company
that didn’t work out, what would you take away as a lesson that you can
apply to future businesses that have actually been successful?
Allen: Market research definitely, and talking to the customer before you just go
out there and build something you think is going to work. So pretty much
taking The Foundation framework.
Frank: Okay. What’s that actually mean “talking to my customer”? Just blast a post
out on Facebook and see what comes back?
Allen: No. For taking this t-shirt company for example, I wanted to sell to my
fraternity brothers and all the other fraternities and sororities on campus,
Frank: Yup.
Allen: I developed this product, I went to the t-shirt design company, I got like the
highest quality t-shirts you can get, multi-color inks, everything. Everything
was an up-charge. I put everything on the credit card when in reality I
could’ve just, at one of our meetings – fraternity meetings – I could’ve talked
to them and said, “Hey guys, I’m going to create this t-shirt company. Would
you buy something like this?” The first. To see if they were actually going to
like it or not.
Cathryn: It’s funny how it seems like common sense now but at the time it’s like you
just don’t even think about it.
Allen: Yeah, you don’t.
Frank: Alright, that’ extremely valuable. You want to make sure that you’re
understanding from your customers what they want before you actually
create it.
Allen: Yeah.
Cathryn: And make sure they pay for it. Your friends might say they want them but if
they’re not giving you money then they don’t really want it.
Frank: That sounds like an accusation thrown at me. I disagree with whatever the
accusation is.
Cathryn: Do you want it, Frank? Give me money.
Frank: Yes, I will send you money right now friends.
Cathryn: That worked, Allen.
Frank: Alright, now we’ve got to talk about how you guys did this for the Best Self
Allen: Sur.
Frank: You’ve learned experientially that just jumping into a business without talking
to the customers first is no bueno. Regarding the Best Self launch that you
guys are doing, what did you guys do to get yourselves out there and talk to
the customers? Because I think that a lot of Foundation folks who are familiar
with the methodology – former students – mostly apply this to things like
processes or maybe even a software. When you guys are designing a physical
product that you want to essentially presell or do some idea extraction
around, how do you do that? How is that different for you than IE on
software, or was it?
Allen: We created the Self Journal for ourselves, first and foremost, because we
needed structure and something in our lives. I’ve tried apps, I’ve tried task
management apps, I’ve tried gratitude reminders, and all these different
Cathryn: There’s so much out there. When we looked at planners because we just
wanted to get a planner that we could set a goal, plan our days, and just have
all the elements that we were reading that successful people do in one place
instead of an excel sheet with goals, and then a gratitude journal here. We
wanted everything in one place. That was really what we wanted to create
for ourselves.
Once we created it, we sent the PDF to people. Carl Mattiola looked at it. We
discussed it. I brought it to Mastermind events. I got a prototype made. I
brought it to Mastermind events. I took feedback and tweaked it. There was
a lot of tweaking. Even Frank, you saw it in the very early stages. It wasn’t
that we just created it and that was it, we were very intentional with making
sure that it’s actually something people would want.
Frank: Okay, I like that. Making sure people would want it.
Here’s a question that a lot of starting entrepreneurs are wondering about.
They might look at a product or idea, they formulate it in their own mind to
solve a problem that they think they have or that they actually have, and
then they start doing some research and they see something’s already out
there that does what they’re trying to accomplish or similar.
What I want to understand from you guys who have done this successfully is
how do you go into a market where your friends and family might say, “But
something already exists that’s mostly like that, how could you even enter
that market?” My understanding, or what I would like to understand for our
listeners, is how do you guys feel confident about entering a market where
people might tell you that the problem is already solved, or there is already a
product similar to yours?
Cathryn: Well, it’s not solving our problem because we tried and it didn’t. I actually
have backed a couple of Kickstarter campaigns in the past year that I thought
would solve this problem of structuring and helping me structure my day
better, hoping that these would be the answers. It’s funny because I actually
promoted one specific project on Facebook and I know a bunch of my friends
also backed it. Then when we got it, it was like, “Oh, this is actually nothing
like what we wanted it to be.”
It’s not like this was the first – it wasn’t like, “Oh, I have this problem. Let’s
make a product.” It was actually an account of trying a few other products
and nothing was working or felt comfortable for us to use. We looked around
and we couldn’t see anything so we just decided to create our own. It’s the
same in any business, there’s so many solutions to the same problem, just
people are different and they like different things.
Frank: Allen, anything to add?
Allen: No, not really. When people say, “Oh yeah, I’ve got a calendar that I use. I use
my phone, my app,” or something like that. “That’s how I keep track of my
day, and my tasks, and my meetings” I’m like, “Oh, that’s great.” You’re
obviously not my target. I just – “Oh, fantastic. Yeah, I’m creating this journal
with my business partner Cathryn, blah, blah, blah.” They’re like, “Oh. Yeah, I
do use a daily planner but it’s an app.” I’m like, “Okay.” I don't know. It’s just
like you’re not my target market. There’s people who are out there that want
Cathryn: Most people, they use it to plan their days but they’re not actually planning
where they’re going to be. We were saying like most planners are practical
but they’re not personal to use. It doesn’t matter if you complete the tasks in
your day, are they tasks that are on a road to where you want to go? You
have to evaluate where you want to go in life and do that as part of your
journal, part of your journey, and where you want to be in life. If you’re doing
things that aren’t related to where you actually want to be, then you’re never
going to get there.
Allen: The journal that we’ve created actually will help you map that out, even if
you have no idea where you want to go.
Frank: Alright, I like that.
You guys mentioned the partnership a few times and we’ve talked about the
concept of modeling. Find something that is amazing and instead of trying to
recreate something from scratch, model it. You guys have modeled to get
your entrepreneurship started. You did some modeling when you were
designing this. I’m curious about modeling partnerships.
This is one thing that I like to ask people who are successful business
partners, what is the key to making a partnership work? I’ll be more specific
in terms of how do you guys complement each other so that you feel it’s an
effective partnership for you guys rather than doing double work where a
partner might not have complementary skills. I’m curious about your
thoughts on partnership for people who really want to know what it’s like to
be in a partnership that works.
Allen: If we take a personality test, we’re the exact same person. If you read
anything on partnerships, it always says do not go into business or a
partnership with someone exactly like you. All signs pointed to alert.
Frank: You did not model this.
Cathryn: We did one personality test where we got like the same top two advantages
and we’re like, “Hmm.” But I think the key with Allen and I is that we have
different skill sets in totally different areas. Even though we’re similar in
personality, we have very different skill sets. I love product design and
creating things. Allen’s really big into marketing which I personally am not
very good at or enjoy; whereas if we were both into design, we would never
get anywhere. I could be stuck on typography for hours and Allen’s like,
“Seriously Cathryn? Get your shit together. We have to keep going.”
Allen: But that’s a good thing because I don’t have the patience for design and I
never have. When I would build some sort of funnel or websites for clients,
that was my biggest fail up was the design aspect. Because Cathryn and my
skills complement one another, it’s perfect. Because she handles the stuff
that I don’t enjoy but she really enjoys it, and I handle the stuff that she
doesn’t enjoy and I enjoy it.
Cathryn: Yeah. If you’re both working in flow, so in a partnership where you both can
do the things you enjoy doing, then the probability of it working out is much
Allen: I’m sure.
Frank: What’s the best way to deal with conflict in a partnership, business
Allen: Business partnership, deal with conflict? Just be open, and just talk. That’s it.
We work in – well, working together in the same area today and this week. I
work from my home in New Jersey and Cathryn works from her home and coworking
space in New York but we don’t let that barrier put up a wall
between us. It’s open transparency and communication throughout the day.
Cathryn: Sometimes there have been times where we haven’t communicated
something right and there has been a little conflict but I think don’t hold
resentment. Talk to each other right away as soon as you start feeling that
negative feeling because that’s going to – if you keep that inside, it’s just
going to germinate and get bigger. All of a sudden you’re remembering all of
the things they screwed up or whatever happens. I think just talking as soon
as you have some sort of issue, that’s – We don’t really have hardly any
issues. I can remember one and talking it out right away, it was solved a
couple hours later.
Frank: Wait, do I –
Cathryn: No, but sure people do in partnerships, right?
Frank: Allen does. We just wouldn’t tell him about it.
Allen: Thanks.
Frank: Alright. I want to understand some of the background. You guys have a
launch that’s going on right now.
Allen: Yes.
Frank: I want to understand a little bit about Cathryn’s background. For those of you
that don’t know, Cathryn has already run several successful product
launches, two of which were on Kickstarter. Is that right Cathryn?
Cathryn: Yeah. With my design business I ran two in 2014. That was my first try at
Kickstarter. The first one, it was I think 100% funded, and that was my first try
at Kickstarter. I pretty much – someone gave me the idea to go on Kickstarter
which I had never really considered before. Then I was like, okay, I got to
learn everything I can know about Kickstarter. Then my second campaign it
was 100% funded I think as well. But it was for double the amount because I
asked for double the amount for funding.
I think just experience I learned a lot from the first time I applied to the
second time and then learned more, and then it did better. People are
saying, “Oh, you have to …” I feel like I like to just get shit done. I’ll be like,
“Okay, this is getting done in the next three weeks. I’m going to learn
everything I can get to learn about Kickstarter in three weeks and then I’m
launching.” Then it did well but then I knew I could do better so I was like,
“Okay, this is what I’m doing next time.” I applied the same thing.
You don’t need to spend a year preparing for something. Just try something
once, do all the work that you can do in a specific time frame, and make sure
that you don’t push the time. Because you can always be doing something
more than you are but if you keep pushing the time and trying to make it
perfect then you’re never going to launch. Just launch, and then iterate, and
then next time launch again and make it better.
Frank: I like the idea of learning from these things, especially since you’ve effectively
doubled the second launch. What was one thing that you learned from your
first launch that you applied to the second one that made it so successful?
Cathryn: I actually wrote a blog post with all of the numbers and how much I spent on
what, and the big screw ups I had. One of the big things was – The things that
I wished I would’ve done is just gotten more customer engagement, or
backer engagement. That’s what Kickstarter is all about is like engaging with
the customers on there and basically building a fan base. I wasn’t very
engaged with the backers at that time.
So I think I had maybe 15 comments on my first Kickstarter. On my second
Kickstarter I had over a hundred because I set up an engagement competition
running throughout the Kickstarter for people to vote on things. By the end
of the Kickstart, a hundred people are going to different site off Kickstarter to
vote for something that’s keeping them engaged and keeping then interest in
the campaign, stuff like that.
And then there was more practical things like international shipping issues
that I had the first time around that I didn’t account for so those practical
things. Then there was just marketing things I could’ve done better that I
applied to the next one. I even learned things from the last Kickstarter that
I’m going to fix for the next one. It’s just all a learning process.
Frank: I find myself curious now to know about the lessons from the second launch
into this launch. When you talked to Allen and you said, “Allen, based on my
two launches, we absolutely cannot repeat this mistake from my second
launch.” What would you describe that as?
Cathryn: I pretty much didn’t do a proper launch for the second one. The first one I
didn’t do a launch, I just was like “Here it is on Kickstarter.” The second one I
told people it was coming but I didn’t build anticipation. This time we’re
really trying to educate people on why the journal is going to impact their
lives and why it’s important to do these things. Really teaching people the
methods behind what these systems are created around and then showing
them this product. Instead of just being like, “Here’s the product. Here’s one
of the many other journals or planners out there.” We’re really teaching
people why this is important to them and how they can use it properly.
Allen: Why and how.
Frank: Which aspect of the launch is new this time and, Allen, I believe you’re kind
of in charge of that aspect.
I want to give people an understanding since you guys are in it right now of
the types of things that you’re doing. Because when I go to the website and I
see you guys on Facebook, I just think that it’s magic happening somewhere
that I can’t see. I want to expose listeners to what the magic is.
Cathryn has Kickstarter knowledge but mentioned that she didn’t really do a
launch around it. What are you guys cultivating right now as far as a launch
around this?
Allen: We’re right now trying to build ... like Cathryn said build the anticipation,
teach people how to be more productive, and why it’s important to be more
productive. The way we’re doing this is through our social media campaigns.
As we’re recording this, I think it will be finished by the time this airs. I’m not
sure when this is going to air. Right now, we’re running a giveaway on a
productivity bundle. We’re giving a Muse headband, about ten or 12 books.
Cathryn: A bunch of software.
Allen: A bunch of software products, bulletproof coffees, magnesium to help you
sleep. Cathryn really likes magnesium.
Cathryn: It’s really good.
Allen: We’re doing that. And then we’re also doing a three video launch sequence
up to the Kickstarter campaign. In each video, we are going to teach viewers
how to be more productive through a specific strategy; whether it’s morning
rituals, planning out a goal, and how to achieve that goal. It’s not a year goal,
it’s a three month goal so you can see the end and effectively get there in no
time flat.
Frank: Whoa!
Allen: Yeah.
Cathryn: Three months flat.
Allen: I don’t like three months flat.
Frank: Modeling, right? Is there a way – what books or what resources did you guys
model to create this launch that you guys are doing?
Allen: I took Jeff Walker’s formula, like launch formula to put the campaign
together, the framework of the launch itself. Then we’ve used other
resources for each video in the launch. It’s Miracle Morning.
Cathryn: We read The Miracle Morning which is a really great book I recommend. It’s
actually in our giveaway. It just talks about why a morning routine is so
important and why – Most people, you want to read every day or you want
to go to the gym, whatever you want to do. Actually making time for it
sometimes – especially when you work for yourself you’re like, “Oh, I need to
be doing this. I need to be doing this task.” You really kind of forget about the
other stuff because it doesn’t seem important.
The Miracle Morning actually talks about how you can add in these exercises
or habits that you want to make a habit into your day. It talks about that.
That was crucial for me. I read it in January and I started applying The Miracle
Morning to my day and that sort of get my morning routine. I’ve stuck with it
for the last six months, or seven months. Yeah, it was really important.
Actually in the journal, we have habit tracking in there. You can actually track
when you’re doing things. If you want to go to the gym three times a week,
or if you want to meditate every day, you can track that you’re doing that. If
you’re not getting it done, you can reflect on why you’re not getting it done
just so you’re intentional. Time just passes by and sometimes we forget.
We’re like, “Oh, I’ll do it next week.” You just don’t keep track of what you’re
doing and what you’re not doing. This is the way for you to be intentional
with it.
Frank: I want to move on to – I see you guys as experts on productivity and on
mindset priming so I want to go to a few questions along the same line.
They’ll be a little bit disconnected but it’s along the same line of how do you
keep your brain and your body optimized, right? Since that’s what you guys
are helping to create for entrepreneurs and people who care about this type
of thing.
One thing that I’ve recently started to do is I’ve made it an intention to see
movies that are going to expose me to new ideas or new ways of thinking.
I’m curious over the last three months, has there been movie rather than just
feeling entertained. Has there been a movie where you thought that the
message was inspiring or gave you a new way to think about things?
Allen: Cathryn actually just saw a movie and she recommended it to me. I haven’t
seen it yet, though.
Cathryn: Inside Out, the Pixar film. I saw it a few weeks ago, it was inspiring. I just
loved it. It just talks about the different personalities of a person but in a
cartoon. Frank, you saw this too because I know that we discussed it. I
remember walking out of this film and just being like, “Oh my goodness.” And
then I started looking at people and as they were talking to me I’m trying to
understand which person is controlling their brain because in this film there’s
joy, and sadness, and anger, and fear. It really – you start to look at people
and how they’re acting, and understanding where they’re coming from with
whatever they’re saying. It just helped me definitely understand people
Frank: Interesting. One of the messages that I pulled from there that I really liked is
if you take each of these different emotions like fear, sadness, or joy, and
actually give them a name, it’s a way for you to disassociate yourself with
that so you can actually really understand when you’re naming your sad
personality. You can give it a separate name and then you can see what it
would be like if from an outside perspective you were experiencing yourself
as sadness.
The message for me is really think about the fact that you are being driven by
different personality types and recognize that you have a measure of control
over what those different personality types are doing. But most important,
you have control over who is in charge. That’s something that I really liked
about the movie Inside Out.
Allen, have you seen anything inspirational or at least read an inspirational
book in the last few months that you feel is really powerful for you?
Allen: I think …
Cathryn: Outwitting the Devil.
Allen: Outwitting the Devil is my number one favorite book.
Frank: What’s that about?
Allen: That book was actually written by Napoleon Hill in 1938, but his family and
the organization, The Napoleon Hill foundation, didn’t want to publish the
book because there were some controversial things in there. It wasn’t
published until 2011. It’s interesting that a lot of stuff that he touches on in
that book, in Outwitting the Devil, still holds true today. It’s wild what he was
able to foresee.
Frank: Awesome. So some inspirational stuff. Cathryn liked the movie Inside Out,
Allen liked the book Outwitting the Devil.
Allen: I must say, I can’t leave out Bold because I’m reading it right now and that’s
really phenomenal if you’re an entrepreneur to think exponentially how you
can impact the world.
Frank: Cool. So, yeah, for the listeners, Bold is a book by Peter Diamandis about, I
think the five or six core areas of emerging technology that are essentially
what he would call internet-sized opportunities; areas where we’re going to
see massive growth and change over the next few years.
You guys are priming your brains with great things. Great movies, great
books, what else? I would be curious to know from each of you what are
some things that you guys do regularly to condition your mind? We might
have already mentioned it. We think about the morning routine stuff,
meditation, we heard reading things, we heard – What are some of the
practices that you guys do every day that aren’t a part of your morning
routine that help to continue to prime your brain?
Cathryn: I think having a good nightly routine is also very important. Entrepreneurs,
it’s almost a competition sometimes and architects just go “I barely slept. I
feel like I slept an hour last night.” Someone else is like, “Oh, you slept an
hour? I slept 20 minutes.” You’re like, “Oh God, I’m so lazy.” I realize that
sleep is so important especially as an entrepreneur. You need to keep your
brain rested so I feel like getting a quality night sleep has been super
important for me and something I’ve been working on.
I use this app called Sleep Cycle that basically tells me what my sleep quality
is like everyday so I can track. Did I have alcohol? Did that affect my sleep? I
take magnesium before I go to sleep and that helps me just – I don’t know. It
helps me get into a deeper sleep. Those are a couple of things.
I sleep an average of maybe six and a half hours a night but I have really high
quality sleep which I think is more important than the length of time that
you’re sleeping. Because sometime you sleep ten hours and you wake up and
you still feel tired. One of the reasons is either you woke up in the middle of
your REM cycle or you’ve got a lack of quality sleep. That’s when your brain
sort of processes everything and prepares for the next day. It’s very
important that you get quality sleep.
Frank: Interesting. What’s your night time routine, Allen?
Allen: I feel bad because I really don't have a night time routine. The only thing that
I do at night is I structure my day for tomorrow.
Frank: Okay, I like this. Tell me more.
Allen: I like prioritizing my day the night before. So when I wake up I’m not losing
any momentum trying to figure out what I should start. It’s already taken
care of the night before. Like what my highest leverage activity is to start
right after my morning routine. It’s already handled. Once I tackle that and
then the second priority, then I can move into the day-to-day tasks.
Cathryn: Another great thing is to just clear your desk. I would clear my desk every
night and then by the end of the next day it’s cluttered with stuff. So just
clear it so that when you start your day in the morning you have a clear desk,
clear mind.
Allen: Another tip that I use throughout the day is I do 33 minutes of undivided
attention work where I’m really focused on one subject, whether it’s writing,
whether it’s setting up Facebook ads, whether it’s putting together the
giveaway or writing a script. I take 33 minutes and just focus on that. Once
my timer goes off, I take a break for about ten minutes and just do
something. Maybe read, check out Instagram, take the dog out.
Cathryn: I do the same but I do 30 minutes. Thirty and then 5 minutes off, 30 minutes
on. If you have a timer you’re – I start working more productively trying to
beat the clock. So I’m like, “I got to get this done before my next break.”
Frank: So you guys time your breaks. Let’s say, Cathryn, from your day of planning
exactly what your day and what you’re going to do on your breaks, would
you even plan what you’re going to do in those five minutes of break time
earlier in the day so that way you can just get and do it?
Cathryn: I don’t usually plan my break time. I just do whatever I feel like.
Frank: Okay. I’m trying to find the limits of the regimented-ness of this.
Cathryn: Yeah, I’m not –
Allen: That’s where our human –
Frank: So you can relax in the five minutes of break? Okay.
Cathryn: Yeah.
Frank: Cool. I actually have one question that I want to wrap up with and I’d like to
get each of your perspectives on this. It’s a different topic than we’ve talked
about but I’m curious what each of you thinks of as success. When someone
says the word success, what does that mean to you? What does it make you
feel? What have you done or achieved? What is in your state of mind? I’m
asking too many leading things but I really know is off the cuff, what success
means to each of you, however you interpret that.
Allen: I used to define success completely different than I do today. I remember one
of my first jobs out of college they said, “Define success. What does success
mean for you?” I thought it used to be have enough money in the bank,
purchase a home, all the cliché things; drive a nice car. Now, it’s time. It’s
associated with time. To have time to do things that I want, when I want,
where I want, and with whom I want.
Cathryn: As much as I want
Allen: As much as I want. That’s success. To where someone could come and offer
me a six-figure job, stability for the next ten years, and I’d probably say, “No,
not happening” because I value my time and my energy that I want to spend
Frank: Awesome. Cathryn?
Cathryn: Mine’s pretty similar. When I think of success I think of just freedom.
Freedom that I don’t have to think about money, I don’t make decisions
based on money, I’d base my decisions on time only. If I want to go
somewhere and have an experience, I just do it. I don’t even think of how
much it costs. If I think it’s going to help me or somehow better my life, I just
do it.
Contributing something more than myself to the world is something else I
want to work on. I think of success is like, okay, I have everything that I want
in my life. How can I help bring something to the world so that I’m more than
like the sum of myself, and that I’m helping more than just myself?
Frank: Powerful. Amazing. Let’s recap for everyone.
You guys have heard from Allen Brouwer and Cathryn Lavery on their new
project. Remind us what project is this, what is it called?
Allen: This is called The Self Journal with our new brand Best Self where we help
creatives, thinkers, and entrepreneurs become the best version of
Frank: Awesome. I’m really interested in getting in on this and following you guys.
Where should I go online to do that?
Cathryn: We put together a pack for people listening to The Foundation with
successful people’s morning routines blocked out, like a framework for
setting up your own, productivity hacks, a bunch of things like that. If you go
to bestself.co/thefoundation you’ll …
Frank: We’re going to put a link in the show notes so you guys can access that. What
about the productivity bundle? How do I put my name in for that?
Cathryn: You can go to bestself.co/productivitybundle.
Frank: Alright. I think the theme is here. Go to bestself.co and there are going to be
resources there. You’re going to be able to opt-in to the productivity bundle
which is $1,000 worth of amazing things like books, like the Muse app, is that
what it is or Headspace?
Cathryn: The Muse app. The headband, it’s like a $300 headband. It helped me learn
how to meditate, understand when my brain was drifting. I tried self-guided
meditations but I never really understood when my brain was going
elsewhere. And then I would just realize I’m like, “Oops.” The Muse app will
actually help you understand through just oftenness when your brain is
wondering. It’s definitely helped my level calm the last six months so, yeah, I
would definitely – that’s why we put it in our bundle.
Frank: Awesome. So there’s $1,000 worth of awesome stuff like that in the bundle.
Again, the theme where you can go to see Cathryn and Allen is bestself.co.
You guys have heard from Cathryn and Allen. Thank you guys so much for
coming on.
Allen: Thanks for having us, Frank.
Cathryn: Thanks, Frank.
Frank: Bye, guys.
Cathryn: Bye.
Allen: Bye.
Closing: Thank you for joining us. We’ve taken this interview and created a custom
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