I love asking top authors on medium how they work on their craft and stay productive. It inspires me, it keeps me motivated, and I often learn about new tools and techniques I didn’t know about.
A few months ago, I released 50 People Who Do, my most comprehensive expert roundup on productivity to date. It contains 35 interviews, 15 extra-long interviews, and 8 pages of recap with all the tools and the books mentioned, plus some fun data crunching. For instance, 60% of the people I asked wake up before or at 6am.
Most of my guests created their own business, and they got where they are today by successfully implementing self-discipline in their life. To each one of them, I ask questions about their life, their learnings, their tools, and sometimes about which celebrity they would like to have coffee with.
There are no rules for success, only consistency in the work you do. None of the people I interviewed are super-humans. They’re just dedicated, and they have a lot of awesome things to teach us.
Let’s get to it.
My guest for this episode is Jon Brosio. Most people would call him something like a blogger, content writer, or copywriter. He likes to call himself an “Internet Cowboy.” The internet is still very unknown and reminds him of the Wild Wild West. He’s with his six shooter (keyboard) ready to head out on his trusted steed (Mac) and tame the unknown. He is of course coming back with some stories and that’s what he wants to share and educate his audience with. Jon’s mission: to create a community of doers, thinkers, creators, and overall general badasses who are charged up and doing the fulfilling work for themselves that further help nurture their own communities. But his girlfriend thinks he’s an alien…
Do you have a morning routine?
Yes. I wake up between 6 and 6:30am naturally. An alarm doesn’t go off until 7am (I don’t like to be woken by the sound of an alarm but have the alarm keep me accountable when I’m already awake).
I then have a quick cup of my homemade cold brew coffee and head to the Rose Bowl for my morning exercise. I find it stupid-important to get my blood pumping in the morning before anything. It’s about an hour of lifting with dip and pull up bars or running (depending on the day). After that, it’s a 10–15 minute mindfulness meditation where I focus on breathing.
Finally, I get back to my desk, read over my to-do list (which I prepare the night prior) and get this cute little butt to work.
You used to work at a restaurant before it burnt down and left you jobless. You could have picked anything new to do. Why writing?
I’ve always enjoyed writing. I even wrote a screenplay about a background dancer who worked his tail off to actualize his dream to become a background dancer for Michael Jackson — he only made it to Hollywood in 2009 right before MJ died. His life took a dark turn in the circus that is Hollywood.
My writing was catalyzed because the restaurant I was working at spontaneously burned to the ground. I was left with a lot of questions and confusion — writing helped as therapy by getting my thoughts down. One thing lead to another and I made it into my enterprise.
What is the number one habit/routine you attribute the most to your success (online and/or offline)?
If I had to choose one, I think it would be exercise first thing in the morning. There’s a saying — something like “swallowing the frog” or something (I’m terrible with sayings). I still find resistance in getting up and getting a good sweat on. I find that if I can conquer that resistance with my body — it helps conquer the resistance of writer’s block, networking etc.
What is your number one productivity tool?
My Bose noise-cancelling headphones and some crunchy jams. I find I can tap into “writer’s flow” more easily if I have a nice drum beat and bass line. Sometimes, I’ll repeat a song over and over when I’m writing just to keep a nice cadence in my head. I’ll bop my noggin back and forth and my fingers just roll. I’m also a sucker for sound fidelity so I need something that produces that good ear candy — you know? The Spotify-BOSE connection for the win here…
The One Book you recommend for self- improvement and/or productivity?
I’m going to do two just because I can: first, War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It helped me understand resistance and how to overcome it as a creative person (the joke is, you never overcome it — you just slay it every morning you wake up — like the hero slaying a dragon).
The second, and maybe more importantly, is Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. Did you know that book took 25 years to write? It helped me because it helped me understand how to develop a goal and shoot for it. I used to have a manager back when I worked in sales who would say, “Jon, if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” When I was younger — I didn’t understand that. Now, with the help of that book, I fully understand that you need to shoot for something and remind yourself of that goal every damn day.
On marketing. Some people say this classic model is dying when it comes to generating more online business. What is your opinion on this?
I totally rely on my email list. I’m a bit paranoid you see. I’m terrified of an algorithm changing on the content platforms in which I operate. I advocate for an email list because I feel it’s a safety net for something like that (maybe I’m crazy). From my email list alone — I generate about an extra 40% in total revenue for my monthly earnings (extra in comparison to my Medium earnings). It accounts for a great deal of my business.
I know there are some new advancements in that space like with Substack. I don’t operate on that platform [yet]. I may move over to that in the near future — I need to research it a bit more. I see email marketing really blossoming into the future. People are looking for community. They are seeking real stories and connections. Little pocket email lists help people from all across the globe access those communities.
I have an idea for a SaaS product that will help with building those communities, and that is more in my 3–5 year pipeline. I’m keeping that close to the chest for now.
You write on medium, have your own website, manage a newsletter, and sell products online. How do you split your time between all your projects?
I have a macro schedule. I borrowed an idea from Tim Ferriss that I acquired from reading The Four Hour Work Week. In that book, Ferriss suggests that you make 3 must do to-dos with your daily scheduling. Three things that you have to do that will get you farther ahead in your macro pursuit.
I don’t have anything like “well from 11am to 12pm I’ll be doing thing A and from 12:05pm to 1:30pm I’ll be doing thing B.” but I am someone who likes routine. I write at the same time everyday, I write my weekly newsletter and schedule it out the same day (write a specific day and schedule out a specific day). I fully believe that consistency and some routine is what leads to success.
I have monthly goals and yearly goals. The days and the weeks are more like “what do I need to accomplish and get done?” that will ultimately help satisfy the monthly and yearly goals.
How important is time off for you, and what do you do when you take time off?
Time off is important for me. Back in 2018 when I was still really getting into this space, I was writing two 750–1,000 word articles a day, 5 days a week. I wanted to make my dream happen. I was committed. However, I didn’t know that operating like that was going to cause me to burn out. Needless to say, I burned out — and pretty hard.
I now give myself times at the end of the work day where I don’t answer emails (unless it’s an emergency). I also don’t do work at all on Sundays and try to keep work to a minimum on Saturdays (usually like research and broad stuff). I’ll also take some trips with my girlfriend or family. I don’t want to abuse it because — like I said — I’m kind of paranoid. I know I work for myself, am in control of my destiny and never want my ego to get the better of me.
Investing in yourself is key to success. What is one of the most recent ways you’ve invested in yourself?
One quick thing was I bought a nice, high-powered Mac. This investment helps with speed of getting things done (video editing of my course, speed of downloads, ease of workflow).
I also invested in a new payment processor, ThriveCart, for my site — it helps with the customer experience (which seems to be going a long way).
I’m constantly investing in books, some recent ones that I invested in that were of value are: The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene, Copywriting Secrets by Jim Edwards, and The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy.
I want to invest in martial arts in the near future to invest in my mindfulness and physical health (It’s a little hard with COVID).
If you could have a coffee and talk about anything with a personality (dead or alive) you admire, who would it be and why?
The first person would be my father’s father. He died when I was relatively young. I didn’t understand the importance of wisdom and conversation by the time he passed. He was a business owner and did a lot for my family — I would love to pick his brain.
I would also love to meet Charlie Chaplin. I read his autobiography and was blown away! He was an amazing thinker, entrepreneur, and entertainer. I would love to get coffee with him. Also — if you’ve never seen his movie The Great Dictator, watch it. Like now… close this browser window and find it. It’s so relevant for 2020.
There you have it. I want to personally thank my guest for taking the time to provide me and my readers with really insightful answers. I am deeply grateful to Jon Brosio. Thanks a lot, and keep up the great work!
And thanks to you for reading my content! I’ll keep releasing interviews once in a while, so stay tuned!
To get instant access to my 150+ page guide containing the 50 best interviews I conducted, download it for free here! This is road-tested advice from real people who get things done, hope it helps!