The Grind: How to Become Amazing at Anything

November 6, 2012 ​- 109 Comments

Did you know that there’s one single factor that you can look at to predict an individual’s future success with astonishing accuracy?

That means that if you asked me to predict how successful a starting entrepreneur will be, I’d only want (and need) to know one single thing about them.

I’ll tell you exactly what that factor is (and back it up with science). But first, let me show what it has to do with online videos.


A while ago, I received this tweet:

​I’ve received several similarly flattering comments about my dashing on-screen performances in comments and by email. That’s great for my ego, of course, but on close examination, there’s an interesting commonality in these comments. The commonality is the attribution to talent.

Well, I beg to differ. And to prove my point, all you have to do is watch the video at the top of this post.

This, I’m sure you realize, is very good news.

It’s good news because it means that whatever you want to be good at, you probably can become good at. It’s just a matter of practice.

How much of a business asset is it if you can make awesome videos?

How great would it be if you were a masterful copywriter?

How much would you benefit from having top productivity skills?

You can have those advantages, it’s just a matter of practice.

What we recognize as “talent” may not really exist. Malcolm Gladwell has some very interesting things to say on this topic, in his book Outliers. And Daniel Coyle came to similar conclusions in the research he did for his book The Talent Code.

And it gets better.

The Learning Curve is on Your Side

While it may take a very long time to become world-class excellent at something (usually around 10,000 hours of deliberate practice, according to studies done by Dr. K Anders Ericsson), it doesn’t take much to get your skill level to above average.

Skill or "Talent" level and Practice

Getting from below average to above average takes just a bit of practice. Getting from the top 5% to the top 1% is a long hard road. And guess what? You don’t have to be anywhere near world-class skilled before a skill becomes a valuable asset.

All this brings us back to the opening statements of this post. The most important factor that predicts whether someone is likely to be successful is their level of determination. The one thing I’d want to know, to predict your success is whether you’re capable of going through the grind, or not.

Don’t Believe Me; Prove it to Yourself

The principle of The Grind is that you can become good at almost anything if you just practice and grind it out, through the tough parts. This is a central life philosophy of mine and it has served me very well.

But you shouldn’t believe me.

You should prove (or disprove) this theory yourself. Here’s how:

  1. Pick a skill.
  2. Challenge yourself to practice that skill every day, for 30 days.
  3. Use 42goals or download this spreadsheet, to keep track of the challenge.
  4. See how much your skill level has improved, after 30 days.

That’s it.

Keeping up the challenge is surprisingly easy and the 30 days pass surprisingly quickly.

If you have any reasons or excuses not to do a 30 day challenge, please leave a comment about that. I’m genuinely interested in having a discussion about possible reasons not to make use of this amazing and simple tool.

Who am I Kidding?

Now you’re maybe thinking that I’m just in denial about the amazing gifts I was born with.

The reason I bring this up has to do with the case study video, where we deliberately chose to talk about my very first attempt at creating and marketing a product online. We chose this because we hoped it would remove the typical objections. If I tell you that I created and released a product successfully now then you’d rightfully say that that’s not such a big deal. I already have a large mailing list, a fairly established blog, some connections, lots of experience etc.

In the video, we talk about what I did before I had any of those things. Interestingly, the reaction was (in some cases) still the same: I was told that I was talented or somehow otherwise “special” and this allowed me to have success with my first product.

Here’s my (hopefully) final response to this objection: if you could rewind time and watch my life, you wouldn’t have to go too far back before you’d feel superior.

Watch early enough videos of me and what you’ll think will be: “I can damn sure make a better video than that.”

Watch early attempts at creating a business and you’d think: “man, that guy’s hopeless. I’m way more qualified to run a business than him. I’m way more likely to succeed.”

If it looks like I’m talented at something, it’s just because I’ve invested some time into practice.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it! And leave a comment with your thoughts on this topic. If you’re setting yourself a 30 day challenge, announce it here!

Shane's Signature

About ​Shane Melaugh

I'm the founder of ActiveGrowth and Thrive Themes and over the last years, I've created and marketed a dozen different software, information and SaaS products. Apart from running my business, I spend most of my time reading, learning, developing skills and helping other people develop theirs. On ActiveGrowth, I want to help you become a better entrepreneur and product creator. Read more about my story here.

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  • Great Video! And, great points!
    I couldn’t agree with you more.
    One has to grind it out if they want to be a top producer.
    Thanks for reminding me, the reminder came at the right time.

    • Awesome. I’m happy to know that this was a good reminder for you.

  • I have to ask…

    Do you use teleprompter for this specific video? If not, I don’t agree with your message there :)

    • I’ve never used a teleprompter, no. Some of my videos are semi-scripted, though. I write out a rough script beforehand, but I don’t read off it directly and I don’t stick to the exact wording. I use it more as “extended notes”.

      • That’s a great point.

        Using something like rough notes or a mindmap really help to guide your videos.

        I never read off a sheet because it sounds like I’m a robot. It sounds so much better when I just outline what I want to talk about then go for it.

        Love this post Shane

      • I agree with that! I work from an outline. I know the material. The outline guides my attention and makes sure I cover all the points I want to make.

  • Great reminder Shane. There are definitely some places where certain people don’t get good enough that you’d consider them talented (a few actors come to mind), but compared to when they started they Re light years ahead. I am one of those people who near flunked English throughout high school and college, but now people tell me that I’m an excellent writer. Perhaps it’s because the Internet has lowered the overall bar, but the fact still stands that I’m way better than I used to be. Thanks for warming me up inside. I’m still without power in nj with freezing temperatures outside 1 week since we last chatted.

    • Hey Adrienne,
      Sorry to hear that you’re still sitting in the dark. Hopefully things will turn around soon.

      Writing is a good example of The Grind. I like looking at blogs that have been around for a long time and comparing the early posts to the recent ones. You can usually see the writing improving by leaps and bounds over the years.

  • Funny, just before you go into the content I thought immediately “He really has improved his lighting”. But there are other production tricks that a lot of people might not realize. From the color of your shirt to the red colored mitts on the shelf (that counterbalances the red panel on the wall) and your position in the frame.

    I think a lot of people can learn a tremendous amount by thinking about the videos that they did like and trying to replicate some of the production values.

    But, yes you have improved even from just a few weeks ago.

    • Thank you very much! I like that you notice all those details. :)

    • After Shane produced this video and showed me before it was released on the blog, I said that it was the best video I’d ever seen him produce.

      About looking at what worked and replicating – I agree. I’m doing something similar to figure out what content gets shared in this market by analysing top posts from a wide variety of blogs. Going to be posting my findings here, too.

  • You are right. You are not a natural.

    But you are great now! I have seem improvements in just the last year.

    The grind is just that. Honing the blade to be sharper…

    The problem I have with video right now is processing time. Getting the video into the can is ok. Processing the video to the point that I am happy with it is the time waster. haha.

    How long did it take you to make your average video, Shane. I know this one took longer as you had extra content edited in.

    • Thanks, Ken!

      Yes, this one took a very longer time to finish, than most of my videos.

      Typically, the whole video creating process takes me two to four hours per video.

      • Yep, that amount of time is my experience too.

        Keep up that good work.

  • Interesting video – it’s like so many things – like those “natural” musicians that in reality spent many many many hours practising in their bedrooms.

    Off topic – is that focus pads I see in the background? ;)

    • Good point. Apparently, the Beatles played bars and small venues almost daily, for years, before they became well known.

      Yes, those are focus pads. :) Sadly, they haven’t been used in a while, because I hurt my wrist. The reason I have them in the shot is for the color. They match the painting on the shelves nicely.

  • This is actually a refreshing and ultimately optimistic view i.e achievement is within reach for everyone if they are prepared to “grind” it through. And of course this is also the catch – most want to believe in the get rich quick ticket. As you so rightly point out though, if you are for the grind this will separate you from crowd – I feel like I am almost there … C alison

    • It is a very view, yes. To me it is, anyway. When I was a kid, I thought I was born a loser.
      The discovery that I can simply work (hard) to shape my skills and my life was very liberating.

  • Hi Shane,

    Long time member of your list. I remember some of those videos you showed. They only seem bad now compared to where you are. At the time they looked good.

    Thank you for “The Grind” – I am going to take up this challenge and use the time to take my graphics creation, web design and video skills to the level that that I think they should be. This is really a profound and insightful post for me that you put out there and something I have recently been thinking about and considering. I wanted to make the change but “The Grind” is exactly what I needed to give me a kick in pants to proceed.

    I have been successful by most peoples standards creating and maintaining web sites for a long time with my own service business. I have lots of good paying clients and more work than I can keep up with. However, I have operated for years on what I call “The Dodge” principle in contrast with your “The Grind”. Basically the dodge was my way of always looking for the laziest way to accomplish anything and everything and finding ways to essentially dodge work.

    What this has meant is that instead of developing real skills and abilities I spend my time looking for ways to get it done by dodging the work. For example instead of taking the time to learn Adobe Illustrator, I have an elaborate set of other tools and people I call on to create vector graphics. I have spent hours accomplishing something with my dodge method that I know I could have done in 10 minutes, if I would have just taken the time to learn to use the software. Multiply this across everything I do and it is ridiculous waste of time and effort. How crazy is this? Working extra hard not to work. Very strange behavior. But luckily I have seen the light and the errors of my ways.

    Amazingly, this has worked for me for years but because of your post and video and some soul searching – I am leaving “the dodge” lifestyle and fully embracing the “The Grind”.

    I have mapped out a whole series of skills that I will develop that I believe will enable my business to grow and help me to do a much better job for my customers. I want to serve them with better services and deliver a better product. I have already started the 30 day challenge and have a schedule for each skill. I will then employ a whole new methodology in my life and work to see how far I can take my business and myself by actually using my new found skills and abilities.

    So thank you Shane, I am really excited to get started with this. I think at this point that you are helping me to change my life.

    This is an amazing change for me and this came along at the exact time. I don’t know who said it but it is true, when the student is ready the teacher appears.

    Thank you teacher.
    David “no longer dodging & now grinding” Johansen

    • Hello David,

      Congratulations on your initiative!

      One word of advice: do the 30-day challenges in sequence. Don’t try to do multiple challenges in parallel.

      Trust me when I say that I’m the champion of trying to do everything all at once and I’ve proven over and over that it just doesn’t work as well as doing one thing at a time.

    • This is an amazing comment.

      I wish you luck with your challenge, David. It’d be great if you could log your work on day 1 and then do a comparison between that and the work you produce on the final day. I’d love to see that.

    • Reminded me of a guy I used to (try to) work with. He worked far harder at avoiding work than he ever did actually doing the job. Although everyone pointed this out to him, he never did believe it. Nor did he change.


  • It is said that both Mozart and Beethoven were practitioners of “The Grind”, more so than any innate talent.

    Perhaps we could start a discussion on Nature vs Nurture

    • I’m all over that!
      Huge believer in nurture over nature. Steven Pinker disagrees with me in his latest(?) book, but apart from that, I’ve seen more evidence for nurture being the deciding factor. Although I’m biased towards that, of course.

  • Very good point – grind it, grind it and again grind it! This is understood and doable if you have right strong motivation BUT it is not all you have to have I think.

    Shane, how do you overcome the lack of time if you have to work regular job before you can “grind” your new skill(s)? And also how to overcome tiredness from job and family routines that “follow” and “overload” you almost every day?

    In any case you did a good job again by trying to help people – so you will get “paid” for that sooner or later! :)

    • Balancing job, family and other obligations with becoming more awesome can be challenging. But it’s doable.
      The thing is: you do have to make sacrifices. Everyone’s day is filled up. Following Parkinson’s law, work expands to fill the time available for its completion. This is true for every daily activity.

      There’s no thumb-twiddling time that we can allot to the Grind, instead. So, you need to replace something that you’ve been doing before with the new thing.
      The good news is that A) you don’t have to invest massive amounts of time to get results and B) most of us have various time wasting activities that we can either compress or eliminate completely.

      • Back in my days working for a corporation around 7 years ago now, I used to devote my “best” hours to working on my side projects – this meant getting up at between 5 and 6 and grinding until work started at 9am. I used to do around 3 hours after work, too. I didn’t have a family, though – I can see how that would make things tougher. But the concept of the grind still follows even if you can spare just an hour per day which I’d imagine that most would be able to afford.

  • I’m loving your videos Shane! I love your humour – like “I’m going to reveal one of my Biggest Secrets…” lol

    I also love the older videos – you forgot to mention the pimples! LOL

    I love the drawn out messages too, so funny, we all do that, even still!! :)


  • My challenge, is to stick it out too, with my podcast Blogger Interviews Podcast (which I’d love to have you on too Shane!!) and my online product creation career, which is finally producing finished products I can sell YAY


    • Sure thing, I’ll be on your podcast. :)

      What specifically are you going to do daily, for 30 days? The more specific the goal, the easier it is to reach.

  • Shane –

    I’ve thought your videos/content were epic from day one, and I think it was a webinar on Daniel Tan’s list re: SECockpit…anyhow, from there I’ve “followed” you every which I can, because YOU’RE TALENTED.

    Sorry to TOTALLY DISAGREE with you, but you’ve got talent.


    OK, now that I’m done being obnoxious, I wanted to say that it does take a certain “grit” to bother with the grind. I had an English teacher tell me in 10th grade my problem was like being the star quarterback in raw talent, but not showing up on game-day with the follow-through.

    (I kept “opting out” of homework, but that’s because I had a girlfriend, whatever.)

    Point is, he was saying pretty much the same thing you’re saying here: follow-through. Practice. Stick to it and you’ll be great…drop the ball and you’ll wonder why it’s so hard.

    Working on WP sites I’ve noticed that, too: it seems easy now, but try to tell a newbie how to do things like install WP, mod themes, select plugins and do SEO…my goodness: you realize how far you’ve come just with some practice.

    My goodness, I have no idea why, but this video just made my week. Great, great content and concept. Happily shared.

      • Earl Jeffery says:

        Awesome! Watched video, read post and as I am scrolling through comments I see one by James Hussey.

        One of the products I came across and bought was CJ Tactics by James. I have studied numerous times simply because I love James’ style.

        And I enjoy yours as well Shane! Not sure if you are friends with Gideon Shalwick, but you and he seem to have the same sort of “presence” on video.

        I will be 50 in a number of months and have embarked on The Grind to learn internet marketing and re-invent myself after a job loss.

        Sadly, I may be “Grinding” too long in one gear without taking action, and sometimes when I am down catching myself thinking that I am too old and under funded to make the changes I want.

        Yet, guys like you and James inspire me to keep at it.

        Thanks for your great post!

        Too often just “lurking”,

  • PV Valston says:

    Hi Shane:

    Actually, navigating “The Grind” labyrinth to a successful egress depends fundamentally on two things: sustained willpower and an internal positive psychology gyroscope.

    Note: positive psychology is not the same as positive thinking.

    For a thought provoking examination of ego depletion and willpower see this article:

    For a brief description of positive psychology see: item #3

    I suspect that scientists will determine that abstract traits like willpower are inherited (to some degree) along with being influenced by family environment and even national culture.

    I note, for instance, that both you and Roger Federer are Swiss. Of course I’m not claiming that all Swiss are great grinders but there maybe a soupcon of truth to it……must be something inspiring about getting to the top of all those mountains.

    Surely most of us can agree that the route to success runs through the valley of the grind, just think of all those “hard ass” Chinese mothers forcing their children to practice the violin or piano endlessly.

    As I see it, the key to unlocking the door to success through the grinder is self trust. One has to believe a priori that the outcome will be worth the personal sacrifice, even though it is obvious from the outset that there is a bell curve at work here so becoming a truly successful outlier requires a herculean effort.

    Using a goal sheet probably works for a lot of people but I find them odious. I’ve seen any people obsess over their Franklin Planners too but I would not call them truly successful in terms of the wealth we are talking about. Wonder what Richard Branson would say about this?

    What I’d like to hear from you are tips for getting through the dip (Seth Godin) since you’ve done such a great job of making it through the grind.



    • I think a big factor is “proof of concept”. For me, martial arts had a lot to do with it. That was something I just did for fun and I stuck with it because I enjoyed it. That was my first experience where I realized that I could become really good at something, if I just practiced long enough.

      Success breeds confidence, so I was motivated to apply the same principle to other areas of my life. It worked again.
      Every time it works, it makes it easier to get through the next grind, because there’s multiple instances of proof in my past. I know that it will pay off, because it’s paid off every time before.

      Getting through the dip looks like a good topic for a podcast of future post.

    • Thanks for those 2 links, PV. Haven’t read the Times article yet, but have the Positive Phsycology one – very much worth the read, very insightful..

      ..and as far as you’re concerned Shane, “You’re the man.”

      I forget now how I came across you, but once I’d read a few of your posts I began to realise what it was that I liked about you, what it was that kept me coming back, and what it was that made me twig to the fact that this guy just might have a few answers re: me finding my way through this insane labyrinth of shysters, hucksters, and flimflam gurus inhabiting the world of Internet Marketing – it was your ‘straightness’ that I found so cool, your ‘clean cut’ persona that was so rock & roll. Yes, times have changed. Today the tattoos, an swagger, an in ye’face attitude aren’t as R&R as they used to be.. and an honest man who’ll ‘tell you like it is’ is getting harder to find..

      • I’m just reading a book on intrinsic motivation called Drive by Dan Pink – he talks about how the large majority of the top performers in creative spheres are motivated intrinsically rather than from extrinsic motivators such as financial reward.

        He says that the 3 pillars of intrinsic motivation are autonomy, mastery and purpose:

        Autonomy – having the freedom to choose working hours, make decisions (self direction)
        Mastery – pursuing the highest level possible in your craft (deep competency)
        Purpose – chasing an achievement that’s bigger than yourself (greater good)

        If you find this subject interesting and have a spare 20 minutes, you’ll probably enjoy this video:

  • This is one of the most valuable messages you have put out: though, one must still be able to learn from one’s mistakes, which is a talent in-itself.

  • Hi Shane,

    I’ve been a subscriber of yours from the old days and I also believe that watching you in those old videos and then watching you improve has made me like you and trust you much more.

    I also noticed from years of encouraging others that people’s upbringings will have a huge bearing in whether they will get over the initial fear and put themselves out there.

    I was brought up in Zimbabwe and moved to Australia in 1998, so my accent is a mix of Zimbabwe and Australia. I struggled for years because I thought people wouldn’t understand me until one day I was interviewed by Yaro Starak. I was incredibly nervous, but eventually settled down and after an hour I was thoroughly enjoying myself. After the interview I couldn’t believe it had taken so long to get to that stage… A lack of self esteem had a lot to do with it.

    The best part was all the amazing feedback I received which encouraged me to go hard.

    Ian McConnell
    Western Australia

    • I can very much relate to your experience about being hugely nervous doing something new. I had a similar knee jerk reaction when making my first face-to-camera video – I still remember stewing over pressing the submit button. Same reaction as yours – all positive and just 10 videos later it became so easy.

      For what it’s worth – I’ve seen some of your videos and had a listen to your interview with Yaro – to me your accent is very clear and I can’t imagine anyone would have a problem understanding what you’re saying.

  • Hi Shane,
    A great video and so very true. I love your genuineness. No marketer, in my knowledge, has ever come out with such candidness. You really do have the welfare of your followers in mind, this is why you could write like this. I totally agree with your points.

    I have had a little experience in doing the 30-day challenge on (didn’t finish it though) but am happy I tried it and realized that it helps to keep practicing the same thing over and over again to achieve perfection. Great post as always Shane; very inspiring.
    Thanks. Cheers, Rema.

  • We’ve often heard these words tossed around before couched in different forms. I know I sure have.

    The Dip – Seth Godin
    Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell
    Mastery – George Leonard
    FOCUS – Follow One Course Until Successful
    Never Give Up
    and now….The Grind

    I say this is all fine and dandy and I do appreciate the reminder but it seems to me we already know what to do. A better question is what’s going to get us to do what we already know to do?

    The books have been written and the research is in but human nature (especially today) is built on looking for the shortcut. Rarely do people today begin a project, task, or learn a new skill expecting to grind it out.

    For example, a person who wants to lose (x) number of pounds wants to know how long its going to take to do so. A person who starts a MMO business with the goal of earn an extra $1,000 wants to know how long they’ll have to work before they see those results.

    The biggest culprit (to me at least) is most people lack an internal personal commitment to anything. The start then they stop and chase the next shiny object. I know I certainly have done this and continue to do so to this day but not nearly as much as I have in the past.

    It’s easy to be mediocre, all you have to do is get up out of bed each morning and put on your clothes and shoes. It’s entirely something different to stand out among the crowd but its so easy to do because so few people will ever do it.

    We have all the proof around us. You know that if everyone who had a gym membership used it you’d never be able to work out on any equipment because it would always be in use.

    Shane while I appreciate your insights they are nowhere near evolutionary (not that you said they were) but they really don’t address the underlying problem.

    If you could teach people what makes you grind it out then you’d be onto to something. IMHO you can’t teach that though. It’s something you are either born with or you want to acquire. It’s something that is triggered from the inside/out and not the other way around.

    We have become a nation of “softies” (not the real word I wanted to use) and we expect something for nothing and we want it to happen yesterday.

    The other unfortunate thing is that most people rarely get a chance to experience and see the behind the scene things that go on – only the finished product and they judge based on that thinking it was an easy road.

    Just my thoughts…

    We know that if start to learn any new skill today that this will be the worse we will ever be at it.

    • Well, the basic idea here was to show some proof of the Grind working, which can help motivate others to sick it through.

      Basically, addressing this:
      “The other unfortunate thing is that most people rarely get a chance to experience and see the behind the scene things that go on”

      What you’re talking about is a general problem of drive and motivation.

      You need something that lights a fire in you.

      Take the weight loss example. You need something that’s more important to you than eating cupcakes and sitting on the couch instead of going to the gym. Far more important.
      Basically, it has to be more painful for you not to stick to your goals, than sticking to them.

      Maybe you need to make a bet and pay a commitment buddy $50 every time you don’t go to the gym or every time you eat something unhealthy.
      Maybe you just need the right image or the right words (e.g. “suffer the pain of discipline or suffer the pain of regret”).

      But there needs to be something that gets you going.

      For me, a very strong motivator is not wanting to be average. I hate the thought of being average and mediocre. To me, that’s the worst possible fate. Yes, I sometimes hate going to the gym and would much rather stay at home. But you know who stays at home, when they don’t feel like working out? Average people. That’s all it takes, for me.

      I saw some videos by a guy who’s motivation was to own a Lamborghini Diablo. That’s what kept him going until he had a successful business. He just wanted that car so badly, it lit a fire in him every time he thought about it and every minute he didn’t own that car pained him.

      My point is: it doesn’t matter what your goal is. Whatever lights a fire in you works.

      • Motivation doesn’t come from the outside it comes from the inside. The moment the motivator leaves the motivation begins to dissipate.

        I get what you were trying to do with the post, all I was saying that is was incomplete and I don’t think it touched on the real issue of what keeps people from grinding it out.

        Grinding it out has always been an inside job and unless something clicks inside of the individual (the fire that you refer to) they will fizzle out every single time no matter how much behind the scenes stuff they see.

  • Hi Shane,

    Your “grind” method is interesting, and it’s generous of you to show your early videos and mistakes :)

    You mentioned Have you used the service yourself? If yes, how did it help you achieve your goals and stick with practicing each and every day?

    Thanks for sharing and inspiring,

    Best regards,

    • Hi Alex,

      Yes, I’ve used 42goals. I just used it to add a tick to each day when I completed the challenge objective. For me, I actually prefer printing out the spreadsheet and ticking off the days on there. But something like 42goals also works well.

  • Excellent reminder that the dodge doesn’t really work. It’s just the disease that leads to shiney object syndrome symptoms!

    Bradley, you’ve hit the nail right on the head. It’s the problem of altering our thought processes and getting out of old habits and being able to focus on the skills and time management as much as anything else. I’ve struggled with this for 40 odd years… but never ever give up. Every time you fall… get up and try again but do it a little different.

    Shane you’ve got a very level headed attitude to things and this I think is what inspires trust in you. Another guy whio seems to have his feet on the ground is Veit Schenk. He certainly knows how to call a spade a spade.
    Thanks for the info you put out.

  • Nice thought-provoking post as usual Shane.

  • Nice one Shane. Your honesty, insights and openness is just so refreshing. Thank you.

  • Every week, I wonder what it is I’m going to write in my weekly newsletter that would be of interest to violin and viola students (and their teachers). Well, this week, I’m going to unashamedly steal my content from you, and talk about The Grind. Modified a bit for my audience, of course.

    Hope you don’t mind :)

    Actually, if you want to see how I use your idea, you can subscribe to my newsletter :)) at the url I provided to make this post, although if you aren’t a violin/viola student, player, or teacher, you probably won’t be all that interested.

    P.S. I bought and used your Backlink Battleplan to pretty good effect back when it first came out, but I’ve noticed that it isn’t quite as effective now. For instance, SocialAdr seems to be pretty much a dud, and I’m looking for a way to get another site to critical mass like I did my MusicalNotesNewsletter, but in a niche that I think should be much more profitable if I could just get it out of the 5-10 visitor/day doldrums.

    • Sorry for my late reply! Just wanted to add: yes, of course you are very welcome to write about this in your newsletter. :)

  • hello! thanks for sharing this with us Shane.

    I think it’s just somewhere in our mental complex that we like to think that when someone is really good at something, he/she must be gifted in some way. (perhaps to console ourselves that we aren’t as good, since “gifts” are inherent to a person)

    I think talent+practice is vital to becoming really good in something. It’s no use having the talent but not the discipline, to put in time and effort into an endeavour.

    I think I see a parallel here: Einstein says that success is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration. I think what he is referring to is Inspiration=Talent, Perspiration=The Grind.

    I think he understated inspiration, though! One probably needs 10% inspiration, don’t you agree?

    Thanks for sharing this again! It’s making a huge difference to the way I’m looking at things now.

    • Hi Clara,

      I’ve been pondering your question about inspiration. It might depend on what area or profession we’re talking about.

      I can imagine that some tasks require a lot of inspiration (e.g. writing fiction, design,…). In what I personally do, I think the 1% inspiration to 99% work might be accurate. I rarely feel inspired. When I start work on something, the origin is rarely “I have this great idea!” and much more often “here’s something that needs to be done”.

  • Shane, I never miss your Sunday update and I had to miss this one! Probably one of the greatest ones when it comes to inspiring motivation … watching your old videos was fun!

    What you say about your own experiences with following The Grind even without innate talent in several areas of your life is convincing because I think of you as a talented marketer!

    Anyway I accept your 30 day challenge and will apply my efforts to reviving my blog.

    Thank you Shane,


    • Thank you for your comment, Fran! Glad you were inspired to do the 30 day challenge.

  • Hey Shane,

    Just read “The Dip” by Seth Godin on the plane last night. It’s a short one. Covers a nice tangent to what you said.

    Great video – but I love the “money” video ending!


    • Thanks, Andrew! I’ll have to check out “The Dip” as well, as it’s been recommended to me a few times.

  • Hi Shane

    This came at a a particularly difficult and decisive time in my life/business. I agree with everything you say and have lived the “grind” attitude for some 30 years. And it works.

    What you did for me was twofold:

    1) Reminded me of what I already know (damn, those eggs suck good don’t they? ;-))

    2) Inspired me to try video again after several pretty disastrous attempts to create something that did more than send viewers to sleep.



  • Excellent Post Shane, My Hapkido teacher always reminds us of the philosophy of the 10,000 kicks.
    It starts with 1 and goes to 10,000. Each increment takes us from clumsy, to good, to better, to best, to master, to reflex without even thinking.

    He would always end the talk with “in life… you can always replace the word kicks with whatever you want to achieve but you still have to start with one and keep going.”

    This has been a good post for me. I have not added video’s to my marketing as of yet because of my fear of being on camera. So my Grind is to begin with 1, learn from my experiences and Grind it out…

    Thanks again for such an open and honest post.

    • Which reminds me of this quote (also in a martial arts context): “Don’t fear the man who’s practiced 10,000 different techniques. Fear the man who’s practiced one technique 10,000 times.”

      It also applies to many things, as trying to master too many things at once just dilutes your focus. Something I’m still learning…

      • That’s so true and as you said it does apply to so many things.

  • Totally agree on the spreadsheet you gave and how anyone can master something. I heard Seinfeld, for him and achieving goals or taking daily action, he marked a chain on his calendar. So he always told himself “don’t break the chain” meaning he had to take action every day so he could mark it off successfully and keep it going

  • Hi, I was just wondering what audio set up you use. Do you use a clip mic (wired or wireless), or a boom mic, or both ? Also, looks like at least three main lights in use ? cheers John

    • It’s a boom mic, attached to the camera. Not the best, but it gets the job done.

      I use just two lights. I’ve always had very simple video setups, really. :)

  • Shane,

    One of the qualities you have that I find so appealing in your videos and writing is humility. You are not afraid to make fun of yourself and that self deprecation is like fresh air, when everywhere we turn there’s so much hot air.

    I read through quite a few of the comments and your responses – and I’ve put a couple below that are really instructive about how the grind works in your life (and so many others’), and why you’re willing to grind it out:

    “Success breeds confidence, so I was motivated to apply the same principle to other areas of my life. It worked again.”

    That one is so huge. Too many folks focus on making $100K when they should be focusing on making that first sale. Because that first sale breeds confidence and makes each subsequent sale easier.

    “For me, a very strong motivator is not wanting to be average. I hate the thought of being average and mediocre. To me, that’s the worst possible fate.”

    The psychology of a high achiever. Beautiful.

    Everyone should read “the man in the arena” quote from Teddy Roosevelt’s speech… “so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat”

    It seems to me it’s the desire to avoid “the gray twilight of mediocrity” that motivates you and those like you to grind so you can achieve at a high level. The desire to avoid that pain is a powerful driving force.

    Thanks for sharing so openly, honestly and humbly, Shane.

    Great stuff,

    • Thank you very much for these contributions, Eric!

      I love the quotes, both the Roosevelt one and “gray twilight of mediocrity”. They reflect exactly how I feel about the idea of being average.

  • Hi Shane,
    You motivated me to start 30 days of learning Photoshop. After that, I want to learn to create the USP (like in a 30-second commercials) – but don’t know where to find help. Any suggestions?

    On a different note: the video on this page stopped at 3:55, and I could not make it continue, even after refreshing the page. I am curious about the rest.

    • That’s very strange – I can’t replicate that here. What browser are you using? I just watched the entire video in Chrome without an issue.

      Shane’s latest post about USP’s is probably going to be useful for you:-

  • That was so cool and funny but, talented. It’s like starting your life when you leave school, you just get better at what you love to do, (work wise) I like to see your other 52 grinds that have passed by. They would make a great series to a collection.

    Thanks for the talent.

  • Completely true.

    It happened to me with my videos in youtube.

    First videos sucked, then after ten videos, one got really into the head of some people, and it’s growing consistently everyday and getting likes and positive comments.

    I think also it is important the fact of liking what you are learning, because in this way you progress faster, as you have more interest to do things.

    Great reading

  • Great tips! I loved the one about getting to the point right away. I have turned off so many videos because they went on and on without telling me what I tuned in to hear. There are so many videos these days and not enough time to watch them, so I’ve gotten a lot pickier about the ones I actually stick with to the end. I always listen to yours because you have great advice and get right to it. Thanks!

  • I’m a new fan! Love this post a lot.

    It’s true, hard work beats talent. This is just a good reminder to keep myself to practice my skills more.

  • Hi Shane,
    thanks for the reminder and on what you just said. Yes it is a grind and I love it when you said that it will magically materialize on the 52nd take of making a video.
    I was also encourage to do just that for my blog and seriously, I have lost track of why I was doing the video and thanks to you I now know why!
    Appreciate you and love what you stand for.
    Julian Tan.

    • Thanks for the comment, Julian! Awesome to know that it helped you find some more drive and motivation. :)

  • Great video. The way you deliver the content is superb! It stays interesting, so I keep wachting till the end. I make video’s myself. I never write down the text first. I was wandering how you do this.

    • Hi Tom,

      Thanks! I do pseudo-scripting for my videos. For videos like this, anyway. I’ll write out a rough draft of a script, containing everything I want to say in the video and the basic structure.
      Once I record, I don’t actually read off of the script though and I don’t follow it word for word. I ad-lib, but having written a script helps me keep things tight.

  • Hi Shane,
    Just wanted to Thank you!!! for this video and all the other clips i did watch but did not leave a thank you or a comment, much overdue.
    The information you are sharing is easy to comprehend (very important) and helps guide us in the right direction in our businesses.

    I wonder if there are any online courses/clips you would recommend which are free or real cheap for us to learn from for video production?
    Thanks again!

    • Hello Michael,

      Thank you for your reply! Much appreciated!

      I have learnt everything I know about video production from just two sources, both of which are free:

      1) Various YouTube videos and some articles found online (just search for whatever you want to learn about video production and you’ll find a whole plethora of tutorials on YT).

      2) Experience. This is the most important part. I’ve been making videos and deliberately trying to improve my video skills for years.

  • Greg Wastl says:

    Thanks for the video and info… I’m more inspired to keep grinding and not give up. I would like to start making videos like you do for my site and am wondering if your training program “Awesome Screencast Videos” Blueprint is up-to-date with todays video making technology? Do you still use the principles and methods in the program?


    Greg Wastl

    • Hello Greg,

      Thank you for your reply!

      Yes, the video product is still up to date. Note that it is purely about making screencast videos and doesn’t contain any training on creating live videos.

      • Greg Wastl says:

        Thanks for the quick reply.

        I’d like to start with screencast videos and eventually add in live ones too.

        I like your live video productions.

        Do you have any plans (in your free time…) on creating a program to make live videos?


      • I would love to expand the video product series to include all aspects of video marketing. What I’m not sure about is if I’ll have enough time do that, anytime this century. :)

  • Hey Shane,
    I’m drinking’ your sake Kemosabe! I just finished your excellent Focus and Action program. My first inclination would be to watch it again and again and again… Cause it makes me believe that I’m doing work. So, Here I go.Copywriting is my game. I think I suck, compared to… Everyone? My commitment is to write every day and read one sales letter a day. Start date is 2/26/2014. I don’t believe in luck and all. I know works, is work. Thanks

    • Sounds like a great challenge! Keep writing like that and it will eventually become second nature.

  • Hi Shane!

    Great post, thanks – and one of your example videos made me smile :) Jut wanted to add a great book about mastering the skills that I read some time ago – “The First 20 Hours” by Josh Kaufman (the author of Personal MBA)

    This is amazing book with great examples from Josh’s own life on how he mastered several complicated skills like Yoga, Windserfing, Ukulele playing and Ruby coding (and some more).

    Aazing read for anyone who is looking to seriously develop new skills or improve the existing ones.

    • Thank you for your reply, Anton! And thanks for the recommendation. I bought Josh’s book a few weeks ago. Have only read a few chapters, though, since I haven’t had much time for reading, lately. I like what I’ve seen so far, though.

  • This is a great post❣ I commit to grinding out 30 videos in the next 30 days (even though I have tons of other commitments and things to do). #eek Thank you for IM inspiration, Shane.

    • Very cool! I wish you the best of luck with your challenge and it will no doubt be a great growing experience.

  • Great Advice Shane. I definitely believe in your concept. Work hard until you see results. And the sky really is the limit.

    • Yes, exactly. It can be tough and building a skill often feels like a never ending series of failures, but it definitely pays off.

  • Self doubt, is probably what kills great talent and one achieving their goals. This videos shows we all have it in us but getting to the first hurdles never mind over them is probably the hardest things in our way. Some amazing advice and inspiration, I’ll be watching this video again and again!

    • Thanks for your comment, Manjit! Glad you liked the video.

  • Curtis Penner says:

    Hi Shane, do you still use a teleprompter? If not, do you speak from a script or is it a matter of knowing your subject matter so well, you’re able to speak without pause?


  • I just want to say I have been following you for a about 6 months while I have been deciding what kind of Focus my Blog is going to have. Still working on it, but seen many Blog Themes. I even had one that runs on your Theme, but even with this there are limitations to one that is not self hosted. Going with a Self Hosted site is the only way to go. I just cannot control the SEO on the site so the question do I won the content when someone else is hosting it. I have your Theme running on Traffic Planet Hosting, which has been the best experience.

    Just wanted to say that all your posts have great value and the training webinars in the back office for Thrive Themes is just top notch. I eventually will look at one other suggestion, which is the Authority Hacker. Just not ready yet for this. I like how you are up front in the way you are so keep up the way that you are as I do not like others who are ones that are almost put your trust in me and I will tell you what you want to hear even though it is not the truth. By doing it this way I end up losing money not making it. I want to be able to eventually create my own products and sell Affiliate products in the short term. You introduced me to Convert Kit, which is the best Auto Responder I have found so far. So keep up the great work for 2016 :-)

  • Wow. This is so good. Thank you. While I won’t consider myself as stupid, I’m sure that the Grind principle has and will serve me well in life. Better get ready to put that mindset into everyday’s task.


  • I am reading some of your articles for the second time now and I still enjoy them like the first time! Absolutely love this site!!!

    By the way, I got 2 questions for you, Shane.
    1) Why did you change the website name?

    2) I recently started a gaming website and my content is way better than on all my competitors, but Google still wouldn’t let it rank for the aimed keywords… The only reason for this (in my view) is that the site is just a few months old, but God… this is so annoying and demotivating… How do you make a new website rank faster in google? I would love some SEO tips from you. <3

    • Hello Ion,

      Thanks for your comment! I’m sorry that there’s been so little new stuff lately that you have to go reading my old stuff. :D

      That will be changing soon, though.

      1) I changed the brand name because I really didn’t like “im impact” very much. And there will be some changes to how the site is run, what you find here etc. Official announcement coming soon. :)

      2) I don’t really do SEO anymore. It’s not a focus of mine to get rankings for specific keywords. In general, it simply takes time. Even if your content is awesome and highly optimized, it can take a long time before you gain enough “trust” to rank. I’ve seen this a lot that even with consistent effort, it can take a year or more before things really start happening. My best advice is to make SEO secondary and focus on getting customers first. If you focus on the last steps in your funnel first, a benefit is that by the time you start getting search traffic, you already have a site that is optimized and makes money.

  • Hey Shane, awesome article and video. I have grown accustom of this from you and your team and expect NOTHING LESS.

    I know what you assert in your article is correct. I knew nothing about conversions, landing pages, Light boxes and so many other terminologies that I experienced every day online but just reading your emails, blogs, article, and videos, I know a heck of a lot more about what is being done to me by the creators of the sites I visit then I did 45 days ago.

    I need to work on my PERSONAL BRANDING so I need to get better at creating videos and making the most of what I have to work with. Currently I need to work with natural lighting, busy backgrounds and the like.

    I am going to spend the next 30 days getting away from trying to find the ideal environment to shoot in to convey a degree of professionalism expected of an attorney and someone who facilitates attorneys to reconnect with themselves and truly know themselves.

    Instead I will embrace the tools I have now, my iPhone 6, Zoom H1 Audio Recorder, RODE Lapel Mic, and of course my Nikon D7100 and a significantly less than Professional tripod (by baby, “the good one,” was stolen).

    I will Create a Video Plan tonight and start making one video a day for the next 30 days using 42 Goals to monitor my progress and see how I am at both making videos and making the most of my environment. Maybe I can use being in the Philippines and the challenges it brings into the process to build character to my shoots and the message I am conveying. I do not know guess I should Google it and see if there is anything out there for me to discover.

    Any advice, resources, would be valued. :-) Never hurts to ask.

    Always wishing you much Peace, Love, and Tranquility. I am Eric A. Jones and the energy you feel in this post is Part of WHO I AM. Let me leave you with this, WHO ARE YOU?

    KNOW THYSELF? Nosce te Ipsum et Carpe Diem (Know Thyself & Seize the DAY!)

    • Thanks for your comment, Eric!

      A 30 day video challenge is a great idea. It’s such a good way to work on a skill and also polish up your communication skills.

      As for backgrounds/environment: I’ve shot videos from all over the world and usually, I just stand in front of a plain wall. If you have a long(ish) lens, so you don’t have the entire room in the shot, you have decent lighting and a blank wall, that always looks professional.

      And even if there’s some stuff on the wall (picture frames or whatever) it still looks fine. I think what’s most important is that you don’t have a shot that’s too wide. The wider the shot, the more clutter is potentially visible in it and that creates an unprofessional feeling.

  • Hi Shane, I’m feeling like God’s hand is on me, ttys!

  • Hi Shane,

    Awesome article and I love the video. Really made me laugh. But you are right, in many cases, talent has little to do with what we do well. So I’m going to practice making videos. I’m rather camera-shy, so this is a real challenge.

  • Nothing to add. Walk on, Walk through.

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