James Schramko is the founder of Sydney based SuperfastBusiness., an incredibly successful coaching business. He lives a truly wealthy life, and by wealthy and I don’t just mean financial wealth. He works under 25 hours a week and surfing daily.
James’ early life:
James grew up reasonably wealthy, but his parents suffered a major financial setback in the late 80’s recession. His father lost his job; they could not afford the car and had to sell their house. His father never really recovered. His pride was impacted.
James, at 20, went into one of the few industries booming at that point, debt collection. Watching what his family went through, combined with seeing people’s problems through his work, were to have a massive influence on James.
He became determined never to be in the position where he had to go home and tell his kids that he had lost everything.
James on Money
James believes in never being in a position where you can be compromised. He has multiple parts to his business and has different investments.
With social media, he advises people against concentrating their business on one social platform. That platform can change what they do without warning, and you, the consumer, will not be their concern.
When he debt-collected, James saw people financing cars on large balloon payments. He has a rule that if you can’t buy a car for cash, don’t buy it.
He advises keeping money outside your business. Wealth can always disappear.so keep a safety net of funds against disasters.
Remember that money enables, but true wealth comes with putting yourself first, then your family, then others. “There is a reason why you put on your own oxygen mask first in a plane.“
From Cars to the Net
From debt-collecting, James started selling cars for BMW, and within a year, was the best salesman in Australia. At Mercedes-Benz, James worked his way up to General Manager. He had a mortgage and young children, but he also knew the ridiculous hours he was working were unsustainable and however wealthy it made him, he would end up in a hospital.
In 2005, James started an internet marketing business at night, selling the XSP cheat sheet to help website owners with their SEO. He could see the gap in the market he could leverage.
Within a year, James had an online digital agency helping people with SEO, and was confident enough to give up his job. He safeguarded with multi-revenue streams, becoming both an affiliate and selling information products. By mid-2010, he had a team of 65 and 2M revenue.
James on Confidence
James didn’t believe his early successes were down to him. When, at 23, he became Salesman of the Year for BMW, he thought all the others must have been really bad or his area particularly lucrative. Only when he started winning awards at Mercedes, did he accept he might be good at selling.
James didn’t get wealthy and successful online overnight. In fact, he made virtually nothing for the first nine months. It was easy for people to pull him down, asking why he was wasting his time doing a blog or going on twitter when it had such a silly name or wasting time with this stuff.
There are always plenty of people when you start-out who don’t understand what you do or try and tear you down, or you can see others doing your idea better than you. You have to believe in yourself.
James counsels people to “build up a confidence bank”, to remind yourself of what you have achieved, and from that, see there is no reason you can’t do it again. Think what people have thanked you for, what you have accomplished, got a gold star for.
James says that few people have a wealth of confidence and most of us have low self-esteem. Our culture is negative. Our parents say things like, “you will never be able to do that.”
Then, we put our own voices in. What comes out our mouths goes into our ears. We say these self-deprecating things such as “I am such a terrible cook,” and then we believe it and cook badly.
“We have to change our scripts, the way we think and pay attention to the things we say.”
James on Time Management
When he was at Mercedes, James went to a conference and heard of the concept of blocking your time, having (for example) customer days on Wednesday, and learning days on Fridays. It made enormous sense to him. He decided to grow his own business and take back control. We all believe we will have this wealth as an entrepreneur.
The reality is that internet businesses are open 24/7, so most people overwork. Athletes muscles can’t recover when they over-train. Workaholics do a pretty poor job of being productive detracting from every type of wealth.
At another seminar, James was challenged to try and take Sunday off with no laptop. He thought it would be difficult but instead added Saturday. Then, James remembered how much he hated Mondays, so he canceled those from his week. Next, he thought about how people usually fade by Friday.
Now James works Tuesday to Thursday. Even on those days, he time blocks the work early and late, giving himself time off during the day to shop, cook, surf, sleep, sport and have time with the family.
“Defining work blocks automatically results in releasing the time off.”
James makes more profit in a year now from 20 hours a week than he ever made, working 100 hours a week.
James on Wealth of Life
While James was still at Mercedes, a corporate trainer came in one day. This trainer started pulling clothes out of a bag. The bag was a simile for your life. Everyone was advised to pull the pieces of their life out and look at them properly to see if they were truly happy with them; if they were what they would choose to have.
There was a guy there in his 60’s, who burst into tears. He had started as a mechanic, stayed being a mechanic, and had never, till that moment, thought that he had any choice in life at all.
James says he hadn’t realized that people didn’t know they had choices. Now he sees it everywhere. When we spoke, James had been talking to his coaching group and told them he was going surfing. One of the guys there went, “I can’t do that. I have to do my job, and it sucks”. James immediately thought if your job sucks that much, don’t do it.
“Once you take control and realize you can say no, you can do your own thing, and everything changes.“
James regularly asks himself and his clients if they have a good life. He calls it the simple yes or no test. What he means by good, is not necessarily about financial wealth. He says we all get too blinded by money and fall into the trap of leaving life on the table.
Instead, “we should all lead our lives by design.”
He advises people to look at every area of your life to see if they are full of wealth, richness, and worth: relationships, reputation, team, network, doing things that bring you joy. James is currently building up his wealth in health, recognizing he is growing older and hoping to avoid pain and hospitals.
James told me that he feels that everything he has done up to this point has been part one of his life, which has put him where he is now for part two. He hopes that the self he is now will position himself in the right way for his future self.
“Think long-term.” Build wealth and value.
James on starting an internet business
The internet business appeals to many people seeking a wealth of freedom. James teaches many people who have started but can’t get it to go to the next level. An offer that converts is the crucial thing. Think about what you are good at, what do people come to you for help with, and what you have already done.
Choose a model that suits your style. You can sell from eCommerce stores or software. Affiliate marketing, selling other people’s product is easy to start or sell your own if it is good enough. Providing a service is an easy win depending on demand. Facebook ads, podcast editing, creating e-books are competitive but popular and a stepping stone to develop your own business
In addition to the coaching and podcasting, James also started a surfing Hawaii retreat with Ezra Firestone, the founder, and CEO of SmarkMarketer.com to combine business with his favorite hobby. This year James is holding one in the Maldives.
When James spoke Ezra recently after the SEO company James is a silent investor in had done an audit for him, Ezra remarked he couldn’t believe they were still talking SEO nine years on.
However, the web site audits this company does, and the improvements they make to sites are just stratospheric. You can double the traffic of a mature web site by tuning content for SEO.
Good content is still a lot of the secret to good SEO. You can buy ads and not worry about SEO. But SEO is good leverage and a great long term strategy.
If you have a mature web site and tune your content for SEO, you can easily double your traffic. Google is still really strong and GoogleAds a great product. They need people to have a good experience in using Google to sell their ads. And that is why SEO is so important.
James’ future Plans
After over 750 episodes, James plans to cut down the interviews, do more solo shows, which summarize what he thinks will help people. He has become selective and is stopping people from coming on to soapbox what they do.
He will continue to invest as a silent partner and with the SuperfastBusiness coaching because he finds the people he works with inspiring. He has split it into two levels: a group with content access and a group call with him monthly and the second, high end one to one.
True wealth is all about a sustainable future. James feels that one podcast a week, and the group call monthly, fits that. He will cut back the high end in coaching to make time for the two books he is writing and new educational courses. James believes that to be a better way to leverage his time and help more people too.
You might also enjoy interviews by other Australian entrepreneurs including Adrian Falk