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The One Book to Help You Build an Online Business

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A Look at Passion, Dedication, and Knowing When to Take a Break

Like nearly everyone else who runs a website or writes in a blog, there are certain tomes that I consider to be essential to my library.

You’ve heard of most of these, to be sure: The 4-Hour Work Week, by Tim Ferriss; Never Eat Alone, by Keith Ferazzi; Made to Stick, by Chip and Dan Heath. All of these give great information and advice on how to improve your business and power to monetize your efforts so that you can improve your lifestyle.

But this past year, the book that made the most noise was one you’ve surely heard of:

Penned by Gary Vaynerchuk—one of the most loud and energetic dudes ever to grace the interwebz—Crush It! is full of insight and step by step instructions on how to start a blog or website and drive it with pizzazz, passion, and a plan, all with the goal of making money by doing something you enjoy.

Pretty damn worthwhile goal, right?

Rather than being something selfish, Gary Vee asserts that this is one of the best things you can do for everyone—sure, you’ll make money, but because you enjoy what you’re doing, you’re likely to be better at it, and that’s better for everyone.

Vaynerchuk’s book really just takes all of the things successful internet entrepreneurs have been saying and doing for years, and puts them in plain English as a story, as well as giving some actionable steps. Crush It!  drips passion, and you can’t help but feel like you’re going to be successful after reading it.

Obviously, it’s had a big impact on me.

The great thing about the book is that it jives with my philosophy: if you have something great to give, you have a responsibility to give it. Putting aside my ego to whatever degree is possible; I honestly believe that I have a lot to contribute to the fitness world.

Of course, I should assert that this was the plan all along, and that Crush It! sort of just provided me with a blueprint of how to go about it.

I’ve spent the past few months dedicating myself to my passion and my business to the near-exclusion of all else, all at Gary’s behest. I have been writing articles, designing programs, giving interviews, doing guest blog posts, and pretty much making sure everyone in the fitness industry knows who I am and why they need to get on board with Roman.

Which is to say, I’ve been crushing this shit like I used to crush Taco Bell when I was a fat kid—and clearly, it’s been working. Outside of whatever professional esteem and momentum I’m managing to build as I’m developing my personal brand, I’m also doing better financially. While I’ve always been busy as a trainer and strength coach, I now have athletes coming in from other states to train with me, as well as new clients who know me from articles I’ve had published. But it’s taken a lot of work and dedication. And I knew that going in.

Chapter 7 of Crush It! contains a section called “Hustle,” which essentially describes the need for tremendous dedication of time, effort, and energy. In fact, I think years from now, GV will have worked himself into the vernacular in the sense that we may compliment people by telling them they have “a Vaynerchukian work-ethic.” Seeing how much he was able to increase his business by altering his lifestyle to put in the time, I had decided to do the same.

Here’s the paragraph that put me over the top:

Anything insane has a price. If you’re serious about building your personal brand, there will be no time for Wii. There will be no time for Scrabble or book club or poker or hockey. There will be time for meals, and catching up with your significant other, and playing with the kids, and otherwise you will be in front of your computer until 3:00am every night.

I read this and it was like a mind bomb. Now, there might be like 5 people left in the world who don’t know that I love poker almost as much as I love push-ups, so let me tell you that the decision to walk away from playing Hold’em for 6 months (I was playing about 15-20 hours a week at the time) was one of the hardest of my life. But necessary.

Giving up poker (as well as a number of other social habits) took effort but clearly paid off.

However, this week has been pretty rough.

As I gear up for the release of my book and a few other projects I have lined up, I cannot help but notice that I’m tired all the time, my relationships are suffering, and I’m running at a bit of a frantic pace. I haven’t seen any of my friends in about 4 months, unless they were somehow involved in the fitness business. My dog is so mad he won’t even sleep in my bed anymore.

I haven’t done any of my favorite things lately. I haven’t played poker in 6 months. I haven’t read a non-business related book in far too long. Seriously. In fact, I didn’t watch the season premier of 24, which is one of my favorite shows of all time. Fuck, I haven’t even gone shopping in weeks, and boy oh boy do I love shopping.

I have a bit of an all-or-nothing personality, and any time I start to do something not related to my business, I feel guilty.

And so today, I’m sitting here typing this blog because, well, Gary said if I don’t blog at least once per week none of this is gonna work. Which I don’t believe. More to the point, I’m writing this blog because I don’t believe in being a superhero. I’m tired, I’m cranky, and I honestly just want to take a day off.

And then I remembered this something from another book I read—a non-business book.

In The End of the Affair, author Graham Greene asks:

“What happens if you drop all the things that make you, I?”

A startlingly simple but incredibly profound question, don’t you think?

I have to ask myself: if the thing that makes me successful is my multitude of interests outside of fitness—and my resulting ability to write about those interests—will neglecting those interests in my pursuit of success be counterproductive?

Even if it won’t, is giving up all of the things I enjoy doing to achieve success really success?

On the other hand, the argument can be made that right now I’m just in the “brand-building” phase of this whole thing, and that right now I have to put in the work so I can relax later. I agree to an extent.

But I tell you what. I’m drawing a line… for today, at least.

Gary Vaynerchuk, like myself, is known for being a die-hard Jets fan. In about 40 minutes, our beloved New York Jets are going to be facing off against the Indianapolis Colts in their first AFC championship in 10 years. And to be honest, I had originally planned on skipping the game to work on some articles and client programs.

I just changed my mind. I’ll just stay up late and do more. You can’t live your whole live in a state of frenzied productivity.

If I learned anything from my good buddy Zach Even-Esh at Transformation Domination Live last weekend, it’s this: sometimes, you absolutely have to say “Crush It!” – and other times, for you own health, you need to just say “Fuck it.”

So I’m gonna go to the bar and watch the game with some non-fitness friends. If Gary Vaynerchuk can watch the game, so can I.

Fuck it.

About the Author

John Romaniello is a level 70 orc wizard who spends his days lifting heavy shit and his nights fighting crime. When not doing that, he serves as the Chief Bro King of the Roman Empire and Executive Editor here on RFS. You can read his articles here, and rants on Facebook.

  • Tobi

    Hi Roman, I slightly remember you had an E-book on building up an online fitness business. I can’t find this anymore here on your page. Is this still available? Where?

    I already started a blog and earn now enough to reduce my boring full time job to 50% so I’ll have more time for my passion.

    greetz, Tobias

  • Ty

    I Just made a comment about Cressey's recent article about how I admire both your understanding of balance (work and play, in this case) and your love of reading, then re-read this post. Keep at it JR.

  • Rachel

    I wish I'd seen this post when you originally wrote it, Roman. It's incredible. I've been pushing around the idea of doing a blog about women's self-image and health/fitness and this post has given me some excellent advice and starting points.

    I'm just so excited to be starting my coaching experience with you soon, as I think you do have an amazing gift to share with us in the fitness world. Your writing style is f*cking awesome, too.

    -Rachel S.

    Dallas, TX

  • Ted

    @Ted –

    Sorry, I did't get to finish (had to go, uh, stimulate some leptin production…).

    Anyway, I think that if your integrity can match your desire, then this endeavor will bring you happiness first and the peeps, riches, and bitches will arrive in due course.

  • Ted

    @John Romaniello –

    There is so much to this, it is not a thread topic as much as a domian. Also, my opinion is worth what you are paying for it.

    Happiness is as slippery as it is simple. Durable happiness wells up inside you when it is born of good will. Externalities are temporary modifiers to the state of your personality and the state of your personality is the sum of your motivators. I think there are elemental motivators and superficial motivators and they each bring their repesctive forms of happiness. Elemental motivators like love, altruism, benevolence have their own integrity and you never feel the need to keep score. Superficial motiviators typically require an explanation, some type of concession, and there is always a sense of accounting.

    With regard to your happiness, if I may, I think you are on the cusp of something significant and how it evolves will depend on what you have told yourself the objective is. If it is having your own brand, riches, and an entourage, then you'll probably get there and still be craning you neck for punchline.

  • Ted,

    This a really interesting post, and one that is exceptionally well said.

    If making yourself happy is not, as is often claimed, the key to both success and motivation, what then do you posit is?

    Serving others? Faith? Family?

    I personally feel that my business is generally geared around serving others, even as being successful at it means that I will obviously increase my finances and whatever degree of recognition–both things that are important to me.

    So then, is it simply that we must find something to dedicate ourselves to which, as we succeed, will bring both intrinsic personal satisfaction, as well as the satisfaction of the altruistic drive?

  • Ted

    There is technique and then there is principle. Doing the work is technique. Why you do it is the principle and therefore, everything. Techniques come and go and get endlessly modified, and while they are integral to success, they do not have the immutable and compelling force of a solid principle. The discussion then becomes less a complaint about the volume and nature of the work, but does your reason for doing it have the necessary teeth. You can tolerate any “how” with a sufficient “why.” A self serving “why” will always lose because making yourself happy first does not last.

  • Aaron

    After you smash down a brutal workout, you have rest to allow your muscles to grow back stronger. Is your brain any different to a muscle? After you smash down a brutal client program, article, ebook or all the other shit you do, you're gonna need to rest your brain in the same way.

    You're no good to anyone if you fall into an emotional pit of stress and fatigue. Go play some poker every Friday night and switch off that big melon of yours for an evening.

  • @david sinick – You're right. Right now it's definitely work work work, but I think I can handle it as long as I throw in the occasional bit of play =)

    Seems to be going well, at any rate!

  • Originally Posted By BrendonWow Roman… Great Post. I recently read Crush It! as well and like you said sometimes you just have to make time for yourself and others. Being in college and attempting to CRUSH IT! is starting to catch up with me… I def need to start taking some time for myself. Love the blog man I'll be following.

    -Brendon

    Glad to have you on board, Brendon. I can't imagine being in college and trying to take steps like Gary lays out. I just didn't have that type of discipline in that area of my life. Hat's off to you. Let me know if I can help at all.

  • Originally Posted By Allan FlemingThat was a great post john,

    Im in the middle of starting my own gym which will be open this May, and right now life is HECTIC! Your post made me realise that even at the busiest times we need to take a step back, chill the fuck out and do what is best for ourselves from time to time! I will save this post and refer back to it in times of stress. Thanks John!!

    Damn right man. I know opening a gym isn't easy, and it'll drain your life for a while. Hectic is an understatement.

    Thanks for posting and definitely chill the fuck out =) enjoy!

  • david sinick

    you are the man. seriously.

    there's always the work-life balance – but in the start-up phase its pretty much work work work. once things are up and running, (if it's a lifestyle business, and work isn't your life), you can start to go back to all of the stuff that made you “you.” that's kind of the customer retention strategy, if you will.

    there's a quote that's something along the lines of – entrepreneurship is about working harder than most people for a period of time so that you can live like they won't – the rest of your life.

  • Wow Roman… Great Post. I recently read Crush It! as well and like you said sometimes you just have to make time for yourself and others. Being in college and attempting to CRUSH IT! is starting to catch up with me… I def need to start taking some time for myself. Love the blog man I'll be following.

    -Brendon

  • That was a great post john,

    Im in the middle of starting my own gym which will be open this May, and right now life is HECTIC! Your post made me realise that even at the busiest times we need to take a step back, chill the fuck out and do what is best for ourselves from time to time! I will save this post and refer back to it in times of stress. Thanks John!!

  • I'm glad everyone is getting a lot of out this post — and thank you all so much for your support. I appreciate you guys chiming in, and it's really cool that the post struck a chord in so many different ways with different people. Looks like I'm not the only one who needs a break.

    You guys make all the work worth it–thank you.

  • @Jessica – I wouldn't say I'm really edging towards going over the line in terms of “wanting more.”

    What I've wanted hasn't really changed–i'm just struggling with not letting it become all consuming.

    But I agree for the most part with the rest of the post, and I can definitely see the danger of re-setting a new goal every time you achieve a current one.

    So I guess I'll just have to make it a point to sit back and enjoy success when it comes, rather than just after more. I hope.

  • Originally Posted By Mathieu

    Keep it up John, and remember we're following you for the person you are, more than for the content itself (though we DO appreciate the content a lot). There are plenty of fitness folks out here, but some things make you different ;)

    Thanks, Mat! I have no intention of falling into conformity, so if it's being a bit different that keeps people coming back, I've got a lot to look forward to. I've been following your blog, by the way–great stuff man.

    Thanks again for the compliment.

  • Originally Posted By JayJohn,

    First and foremost, let me say this is my first time ever posting on anyoneâ??s bog, but given this excellent post I had to. The work you have produced lately more specifically on your own blog and the articles on T-Nation are fantastic. A few months ago I had no idea who you were, but now I can honestly say along with Nate you are one my favorite Trainers/Authors. As someone who can relate to this post, trying to graduate undergrad, and attend law school in the fall, and neglecting a lot of the things I love to do. This post came at the perfect time for me. I just needed to post here, and let you know your hard work lately is truly appreciated, and you are making true fans even though it may not be readily apparent. Keep up the great work man.

    Jay

    P.S. I am super excited about your upcoming product.. Hurry up and get it our lol.

    Thanks for the post, Jay, it really does mean a lot. I appreciate that you're enjoying my work and playing me alongside Nate–thanks for that.

    Good luck with graduation and the transition to law school. Let me know if I can do anything to help, or if you'd like to see something in particular.

    In the meantime, just alternating between grinding and taking some time off to reflect–thats what I did this past week and it's been incredible.

  • Jay

    John,

    First and foremost, let me say this is my first time ever posting on anyone’s bog, but given this excellent post I had to. The work you have produced lately more specifically on your own blog and the articles on T-Nation are fantastic. A few months ago I had no idea who you were, but now I can honestly say along with Nate you are one my favorite Trainers/Authors. As someone who can relate to this post, trying to graduate undergrad, and attend law school in the fall, and neglecting a lot of the things I love to do. This post came at the perfect time for me. I just needed to post here, and let you know your hard work lately is truly appreciated, and you are making true fans even though it may not be readily apparent. Keep up the great work man.

    Jay

    P.S. I am super excited about your upcoming product.. Hurry up and get it our lol.

  • Jonas C

    Gary V is awesome. Saw him at a conference in Miami doing a presentatin on how to crush it in Miami last year. He's very energetic though, so I don't believe he's going to bed at 3 AM every night. Then he'd be a zombie. I agree on your post though and experience the same thing. I usually work in very focused bursts of around 3 weeks. In those weeks I'm totally pumped and crank out a lot of valuable things. Then it's usually followed by a period of maintenance for 3 weeks. And then it starts over again. It's not planned or anything, my creativity and motivation just seems to come in bursts. My income is kinda passive though, so that's why it's possible.

  • Ylwa

    Thank you, John.

    I've been wanting to read Gary's book for a while now, but like much else I haven't got to it yet, which in my case often is the problem. I just don't get to it, or it takes me a long time to start things up and “just do it” nike-way. Which pisses me off, really. It's a part of my personality that I honestly hate (not very productive either).

    I've been reading alot of books like the ones you mention here the past six months, and I follow all the “guru's”, both fitness and internet-business ones. I think Ted has a good point there – it's not really rocket science and yes the books are many times a bit arrogant or blasé, “yawn, with my method this is so easy people who don't suceed are dumbasses or lazy retards”. It's all easy when you've done it but noone rarely talks about the hard way to success, other than “it's hard work” (duh?)

    Which is why this post was a bit of a godsent. Or in my case, a much needed kick in the ass to just get things going. There are no short cuts, no easy ways out, no four-hour work weeks that GETS you to success. There are once you're there, but that won't sell any books. I need to hear that other people struggle too, anything else is just not believeable.

    I too do believe just as much as previous spoker's that you have to take time out to chill as well, it's essential to keep your passion burning in the long run. And there is a fine line between passion and obsession just like Jessica says, but I also think that's the price to pay for success, because without it you're doomed.

    For me, that's what keeps me going, the fact that I'm never really satisfied. I always want to push beyond my limits and you have to want to do that if you want to be the “go-to-guy”. Imagine if you were to say “Today I reached 30 pull-ups which has been my longterm goal. So now I'm satisifed, I'll stop here”. I'll stop reading whatever you write that day. Being the go-to-guy is to be an inspiration, and average-Joe can't pull that off. You can ALWAYS do better! The problem isn't that you need to decide when you're satisfied, the problem is that your success is always going to be provocative in other people's eyes because you will remind them of their own shortcomings.

    Crush it!

  • Jessica

    Hmmm, sounds like you’re potentially eyeing the line that runs between passion and obsession, ambition and greed.

    Yes success and achievement sometimes requires a lot of hard work, dedication, persistence and occasionally a significant amount of sacrifice. I imagine that’s pretty much what you preach to just about every client who walks through your doors (be they real or virtual) regardless of what their particular end goals may be.

    The thing about success is that most people once they achieve a goal be it doing a number of pull ups, losing weight, attaining a particular level of education or earning money probably then just go on to set a new level of achievement that inevitably just ratchets up the ante. Done 5 pull ups, well let’s go for 10; body fat down to 16% why not try for 12%?; got the masters, PhD here we come; increased my earnings/profile/business by 30% last year, this year it’s going to be 50%….and so on.

    The trap is that productivity and success can be very addictive especially when there is a direct relationship between the two. The trick is often making sure that when you define success, you not only ask yourself what price you’re willing to pay for it (“are you focused on the destination to the detriment of the journey” if you want to go all touchy feely about it) but also to define what is “enough”.

    As Master Po said to Young Caine in answer to his question as to our greatest obligation …..“ To live, grasshopper. To Live!”

    So grasshopper, while you’re out there crushing it, smashing it, grabbing it (hell smashing and grabbing it for all I know!)… the key, as you have realised and which has been loudly seconded by the responses thus far, is to take the time to be living it!

  • Tyler Carter

    This may be exactly what I needed.

    I've been asked too many times this week if I'm still alive, and I hate hearing that. I know I've been busy lately and that's taken away from spending time with the very people that keep me going, and eventually I'm bound to give up and sink into a dark hole of depression- counterproductive at the very least.

    Sorry about the outcome of the game, it was still worth a late night.

  • Cool. I mean, really.

    First, I was starting to gather tips and titles on great marketing/business info, and there you gave it. (My own struggle is though is, the passion I want to share, is that of having countless passions. Not easy to communicate if you ask me >.>)

    Second, you share your experience using the info and how you're trying to fit it in your life. Which is something I'm struggling with right now too, because I have such a frantic schedule with so many passions and things to accomplish… and not willing to let any of them go.

    I think much of it starts with planning and doing smartly, rather than doing as much as we can. Fracking easier said than done too, though. It's an art to master.

    Keep it up John, and remember we're following you for the person you are, more than for the content itself (though we DO appreciate the content a lot). There are plenty of fitness folks out here, but some things make you different ;)

    Chust!

  • Meshel

    Glad you took time for you today…sorry the game did not end as it you would have preferred :(

    I believe whoever first said “all work and no play…” had it right. I understand Gary V’s point about focusing and crushing your brand BUT I do not believe in doing it at the expense of all else. I can tell you what happens if you “drop all of the things that make you, I.” You cease to be you!

    Stop feeling guilty when you take time for you (I know…easier said than done). You NEED that time for your health and to recharge mentally and physically. Your work will benefit too as you will come back with a clearer head and renewed vigor.

    Hang in there!

  • Ted

    Love the post. Great philosophy. I love self-help books. I agree that reading books like this can be very motivating but often they're exactly what a person doesn't need to hear. As such, the books need to be taken with a grain of salt. The fact that the writers of such books have generally been very successful in their field does not make their theories flawless. Being a psych major, I partake in a whole hell of a lot of introspection and probably think way too deeply far too often. It's probably due to this nature of mine that I usually end up getting halfway through books such as “Crush It!” before deciding that reading it is almost entirely a waste of my time because I either A. knew it all, or B. am finding exceptions to their 'rules' that they neglect to point out. And frankly it pisses me off when people think their way is the only right way and decide to write a book so everyone else can be like them. Gotta take some time off to remember who you are. Way to be, Roman. Enjoy the game.