Published DateAuthorDan Sullivan of Strategic Coach and Gord Vickman
Gord Vickman and Dan Sullivan discuss Dan’s latest book, 10x Is Easier Than 2x, co-authored by Dr. Ben Hardy. By identifying the changes and breakthroughs that led to your past growth, you can gain the confidence and insight needed to achieve your next jump. Sounds like fun, right? This episode is a must-listen for entrepreneurs and creators looking to build things faster, easier, and cheaper than before.
In This Episode:
10x Is Easier Than 2x is a compilation of concepts that have been tested and proven in The Strategic Coach® Program. Dan says it’s “the best book for getting an overview of all the productivity tricks that we have in Strategic Coach.”
How can 10x growth possibly be easier than 2x growth? Dan invites the listener to remember that they’ve already made this leap at least once in their lives.
The key to growth is imagining an exponentially—rather than incrementally—bigger future.
Dan credits writer Ben Hardy for making these books possible.
Reaching that future will require shedding outdated methods and even team members and customers who are no longer a good fit.
This trilogy of books, Dan says, is linked by a kind of entrepreneurial logic: the logic of achievement, the logic of progress, and the logic of growth.
When you set out to achieve breakthroughs, you have to allow for luck and surprises—and even count on them.
Dan’s goal for these books was never about becoming a famous author but about finding new people to talk to who might be interested in The Strategic Coach Program.
Gord Vickman: Welcome to the next “Podcast Payoffs”. My name is Gord Vickman, here with Dan Sullivan. Dan, the brand new book is available now wherever you buy your books, 10x Is Easier Than 2x. This is your third major market release with Doctor Ben Hardy. You can find that online wherever you buy your books. We’re going to assume that everyone listening to the show knows how to buy a book. So you’ve held it in your hand. I’ve seen you holding it, Dan, and you’re beaming when you hold it because it’s something to be extremely proud of. And this is a concept that’s a little bit older, but it’s been refreshed—does that make sense?—and what are your initial thoughts having been able to hold that book in your hand as a tangible thing, knowing that this is a concept that has been around for a little while, but now it’s in written form and something that you can hold and share with others who may not be familiar with it.
Dan Sullivan: Well, it’s the book that I am proudest of, of all the books that I have written, and the main reason is because I didn’t actually write the book. That’s why I’m proud.
I’m proud of the fact that this is a great book and that my name’s on it—mine’s the first name—but I didn’t actually write the book, so Ben Hardy wrote the book. So I’m very, very happy with it.
But I participated in the book, and the ideas in the book come from ideas that are incredibly well-tested in the Strategic Coach Program, and they’re copyrighted ideas. They’re trademarked ideas. And this is probably the best book for getting an overview of all the productivity tricks that we have in Strategic Coach.
We had the book available to start marinating the marketplace three months before in galley proofs. Large publishing houses have the several steps before you get to release date, and one of them is that they will produce an unedited version of the book, which is basically 98% right, but they just release it in a nicely printed-up softcover form, and it went out to about 5000 reader. And then they produce, they publish the first 40,000 actual hard copies of the finished book.
That happened in about 30 days in, the publisher said, “We’re going to have to publish another 40,000 just to get to the release date.” And part of the reason is that we’ve developed a really great marketplace over the last 30 years who are looking for a new presentation of Strategic Coach ideas.
Gord Vickman: It’s not necessarily a shortcut, it’s a series of mindsets, “10x Is Easier Than 2x”. So on the show, “Podcast Payoffs”, we talk about the intersection of teamwork and technology. We deal a lot and speak to content creators, so whether you’re doing video editing, live stream, or you’re hosting a podcast, if you’re in augmented reality, virtual reality, social media, scheduling, photography, videography—all of those things will be assisted through tools like AI.
But Dan? Your book feeds beautifully into that because everyone’s looking to create better things, more things faster, easier, cheaper and better.
So just for those who may not be familiar with the concept, could you define the concept of 10x growth and how it differs? Why is it easier? Because that seems counterintuitive to most people. How can you have more by doing less than the other way around? That might not make sense.
Dan Sullivan: Yeah. Well, when I’m talking to an audience, whether it’s a live audience or I’m, you know, as we’re talking to here, podcast audience, the best way to get people familiar with something new, that strikes them as new—I try to have titles that sort of snap peoples heads, you know, in the sense of “How can that be true, that 10x…?”
Ten times means that a result that you think is very, very important that you’re presently getting, in the future you’ll get a 10 times measurable result compared to the results, you are right now. And people say, “How is that possible?”
And I said, “Well, it’s possible because you’ve already done it. OK? Everybody here in this audience, everybody listening to this podcast, you’ve already done it. OK?”
And I said, “So pick a number”—and revenue is a good number. You know, it’s just the amount of money coming in, OK? And I said, “There’s a number you have right now that’s this year’s revenues, last 12 months, you have a number for that. And I want you to think back in your history,” and most of our audience are entrepreneurs. “In your entrepreneurial history go back to the point where you were one-tenth of that result, than the result you have right now.” And your brain can go back, you know, roughly.
And ours, right now, in the company, where we are right now at the end of 2022, we were one-tenth of that in, right around the year 2000, as a company. So that was the best we could do in 2000. And I can remember when we were one-tenth of that number, and that would have been about Year Two, 1990, we would have been one-tenth of what we were in 10 years later.
And I said, “Now I want you to just jot that down, and draw an upward curve, and then break the 10x growth period into 5 jumps that you made.”
And they said, “Well, how do you know there were five jumps?”
And I said, “Because when I tell your brain to identify the five jumps you made, it immediately does it.” And usually it was a huge breakthrough they made oftentimes following a big disappointment or a big failure. They jumped and they said, “I can’t do this the way I was doing it, so I have to do it completely different.”
And where the growth comes from is that you leave behind methods that don’t work anymore. You leave behind people that don’t work anymore, and that would be both your team members in your company, so you had to get new team members and old team members had to go, and the same thing happens for customers. There were customers that just didn’t do it anymore. And you may have had to change locations where you were doing it. But there’s a series of significant changes, and every one of them produced a burst of growth. So that brings you up to the present.
The reason it’s important when you’re introducing a new idea that others might find controversial or impossible, the only way you can get them confident about thinking about it in the future is to demonstrate to them in their own thinking that they’ve already done it in the past.
And as soon as they do that, then I said, “Now, based on what you just went through as a mental exercise, do you know 80% of what it’s going to take to do the next 10x jumps? And you didn’t know that when you were one-tenth, so you have 80% more knowledge and skill and wisdom and right now than you had when you were one-tenth, and you can rely on that wisdom right now, to jump into the future. So you know far, far more… Your knowledge about how to go 10x, just as a result of the last five minutes of thinking, is 10x greater than the knowledge you thought you had.”
Gord Vickman: Is the first one always achieved in hindsight, you always have to look back and say, “Oh, I did that”? Or is it something that you know that you’re in? Any indications that you might be in that process of that 10x jump?
Dan Sullivan: Yeah, things are only logical looking backwards.
Gord Vickman: Yeah.
Dan Sullivan: We don’t see patterns except backwards. OK? So I’m a notorious robber of my past.
Gord Vickman: How so?
Dan Sullivan: I’m always going back, “I’m going to use this experience again.” And if I would say there’s a weak point to entrepreneurs, they’re always trying to get to the future without having very much grasp of their past.
Gord Vickman: OK, let’s talk about the past.
Can you think of historical examples of anyone who you admire who may have been marinating in this concept unknowingly of making these 10x jumps with minimal effort as opposed to focusing on the 2x? Entrepreneurially speaking, I know there’s plenty of people who have made these kinds of jumps, and you’re a voracious reader, Dan. Can you think of one person that stands out and could have maybe been a third co-author on this book, unknowingly or unwittingly, because they achieved that without even knowing it?
Dan Sullivan: Yeah, well, I think anyone who became prominent, you know, became influential, you can pretty well do the exercise.
And Ben Hardy, it’s a real stroke of genius. He did it with the, you know, the great sculptor Michelangelo in the very first part of the book, and he shows how he kind of got started, and then jump by jump by jump, to the point where he was the most sought-after sculptor in Europe. You know, what Ben did so masterfully in the book, and part of the reason is Ben took Free Days in Italy for six weeks last summer, so we’re talking here in 2023. So in the middle of 2022, he and his family went to Italy for six weeks, and he got really, really intrigued by Michelangelo. And then he went back and you read all the history of him.
And then he said, “And this is how Michelangelo went 10 times to the point that he could do the very famous David statue,” which blows you away when you saw it. I saw it on a trip to Florence in the 1980s. And it’s massive. And it’s a single block of stone, and it was about 30 feet high. And he created a 26-foot statue, and flawless. I mean, from my standpoint, it’s just flawless.
We were referencing off-record, you know, we were talking about great athletes, and you were talking about. And Gretzky. I’m a voracious mystery story reader—international espionage, you know, conspiracies and everything, and the author just drops in a paragraph—this is Mark Dawson, Great British writer—and one of the characters is saying, “You know, the difference between an amateur and a professional?”
And somebody says, “No, what’s the difference?”
He says, “Amateurs practice until they can get it right, and professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong.”
And you know, you had a feeling that the skill level of going through stages of growth, Michelangelo got to the point where he couldn’t get it wrong. He could start with a block of stone, and, you know, just see this statue inside the block and chip away all the stone that wasn’t the statue. And that’s how he explained it: “How do you create these statues?”
And he says, “Well, I just start with a block of stone. And inside the stone is the statue, and I just get rid of all the stone that isn’t the statue.” You know?
And people said, “Well, there’s gotta be more to it than that,” but at his level, there wasn’t more to it than that.
But I can apply this—this is, I think, taking everything into account in different formats, this is probably the 100th book in one form or another that Strategic Coach has produced. But the level of writing and the quality of writing until I met Ben Hardy, we never had that quality of writing. He’s just a great writer. I mean, he just knows how to put a book together. He just knows how to keep the reader totally focused on how the book’s going through.
So this is a knockout book and the publisher was so surprised. He said, “I’ve never had a… where you did a complete 40,000 and then you were still a month away from release date and you had to publish another 40,000.” So. Purchasing by customers is a good measurement of whether people are interested in the book.
Gord Vickman: “It’s blowin’ up,” as the cool kids would say these days. I’m not a cool kid anymore.
Dan Sullivan: Yeah. And it’s going to go places that we hadn’t anticipated. It it might be the right time for it, you know? I mean, there’s a lot of luck. There’s a lot of luck—you see that skill when you’re looking backwards, but looking forwards, it’s luck, you know? Right product, right time. A lot of people are interested in this right now. And the reason is because economic times are really scary right now.
It’s very, very clear that a lot of things that everybody thought worked aren’t working today. So people are looking for other ways to make things work, and I think our book will be popular within that market.
Gord Vickman: One thing you reminded me of when you were talking about the statue of David and you know,”Oh, I just chip away,” that makes it sound so simple. But I have a friend, we’ve sort of drifted apart with time and distance now, but we were close many moons ago, and we were both in the university age and he has since become a just a wickedly talented—well, he always had the talent, but a skilled illustrator, and he said, “You know, the difference between someone who can draw and someone who can’t draw?”
I said, “No.”
He said, “It’s all decision-making.”
I said, “Explain.”
And he said, “OK, you have a piece of paper. I have a piece of paper. I have a pencil. You have a pencil. Now put a line. Now put another line. So let’s pretend we’re drawing a tiger right now. You just keep putting lines down. The difference between a good illustrator and a great illustrator and a world-class illustrator and someone who can’t draw at all is the decision to know which line is right and which line is not right.”
And that was the most basic breakdown of illustration—and even writing as well: The difference between a great writer and a crummy writer, and someone who can’t write at all. and a legendary writer is they know when they put a word down on that piece of paper, if that word is right.
So my illustrator friend knows I’ve just drawn this curved line. That’s not right. Whereas someone can draw the same curved line and they believe that it’s correct, which sets them forward on a path of crappy drawings, because they weren’t able to nip it in the bud and say, “That wasn’t right.”
So making those early decisions to lay the foundation for your illustration, I thought that was interesting. The way he laid it. I have the same hand as you. We both have a pencil. We both have paper. It’s just I can make the decision better than most people who can’t draw as to what is good. What is a good line? What is a bad line? It’s all about decision-making.
Dan Sullivan: I’m a big fan of comedians, and one of my favorites these days is Dave Chappelle. What comedians do is that they tell a story. And everybody in the audience thinks they know where the story is going. And then right at the end, they change the story to something that’s a total surprise. And they’re so gifted at it that the entire audience gets the change in a second. You know, there’s just an explosion of laughter.
But you know, like Dave Chappelle tells a story, you know, and he’s been at this since he was a teenager. And he’s in his fifties now. He talks about just getting no reaction. He would tell us something, and just the sheer amount of failure that he had to go through before he learned what constituted success with a joke, with an audience.
But there’s a recent incident with him on “Saturday Night Live”, and everybody who brings Dave Chappelle in as guest comedian is really taking their chances, because Dave had complete agreement what his routine was going to be about, and then he promptly ignored that, and then he went out and, you know, it’s called “Saturday Night Live” because it’s live, so once Dave Chappelle starts in his thing you can say, “Wait, wait a minute, Dave, that’s not what we—“
Gord Vickman: Cut. Cut. Cut.
Dan Sullivan: Cut, cut, cut. And it was hilarious. And it was risky. He doesn’t play favorites about who he attacks. You know he’s an equal opportunity attacker. He goes right, he goes left, but he knows where the third rail of the subway is. And yeah, “Don’t touch this,” you know.
But it was regarding Kanye West’s misadventures. What he said on stage—so I mean, people were crying in the audience. It was so funny, because on “Saturday Night Live”, the band is straight in back of him when he’s talking. And you could see the reactions of the musicians are sitting there and they’re crying because this isn’t what was planned in rehearsal, you know? And he might not be invited back again because of this, but he’s at a point where he doesn’t really care.
Gord Vickman: I don’t think he cares. He’ll just go back to small-town Ohio and live his life.
Dan Sullivan: Somebody else. So give him a couple million to show up for two hours. You know, he’s at that point now where he’s the buyer. He’s not the seller.
Gord Vickman: Dan, we’ve been talking about the new book available now, 10x Is Easier Than 2x. I thought we’d have a little fun as we wrapped the show and give our listeners a little treat. We have three major books right now, major market books. First was Who Not How with Doctor Ben Hardy, and then The Gap And The Gain. And now we have 10x Is Easier Than 2x.
Pretend I’m a content creator. I create a podcast, or I do a live stream, or I produce videos or anything that’s out there in the world. We know that there’s AI tools and SaaS tools right now which make content creation way easier—easier, faster, cheaper, better. Could you, in a little package with a bow on it, could you take all three of your books and link them together for a piece of advice for people who are involved in content creation? We know what each one of them is about, but these concepts, as all the concepts in Coach, link together.
So if you had all three of your major market books in your hand, and someone says, “Could you link those together for me—not using AI, but using the power of the human mind—to give me some advice on how I can take three concepts and allow me to start pursuing my own 10x growth?” What would you say?
Dan Sullivan: Yeah, and I’ll take them in order, as you put it out there, Who Not How is simply the recognition that when you set a goal that’s way beyond what you are capable of doing right now, there’s a danger to that, that immediately you have the goal and you’re excited about the goal, that you’re confronted with the fact that you don’t have the skills, you don’t have the knowledge to actually pull off the goal.
And a lot of people, two negative things happen because of that sudden feeling. So there’s a excitement, but then there’s kind of like a depressing thought: “How am I going to do that?” And they don’t know how to do that, so people can get enormously oppressed by their goals, so much so that after a while they just don’t have goals, because the feeling after having the goal is always one of depression, and then they feel worse about themselves because of the goal.
So what we do is just a little mind-switch that the moment you have a goal, your first thought is, “Now who is going to do this for me?” And the partnership that we have, the collaboration we have with Ben Hardy is a good example. People have said, “When are you going to write a major-market book?”, you know? And I tried to, in the past, I’ve tried to do this and I just don’t have the writing skill and I don’t have a feel for a general audience.
My problem is I have a tremendous feel for the particular type of person who will sign up for a Strategic Coach, OK? I’ve spent 50, most of 50 years now, being inside the mind of a talented, successful, ambitious entrepreneur who wants to jump to the next level, but they want it to be easier. They don’t want to go through the same amount of work to be more successful in the future than they’ve already gone through in their past. And I know that person.
So I said, “I know you have this negative thing with your goals, and I’m going to get rid of the negativity of goal-setting, and I’m simply going to say, ‘Do not think how you’re going to do it.’ You’re going to say, ‘Now, who are the team of people?’ Because it’s not just one person, it’s the team of people who are now going to pull off major-market books success.” So that’s Who Not How.
The second book is The Gap and The Gain, and it has to do with when you do have an achievement, you, like, you do take a jump, how do you measure your achievement? And there’s a very, very negative way that people measure their achievement, and that is they believe they’re trying to achieve an ideal future for themselves, and they measure a very significant achievement, but they measure it against the ideal. And that’s like being outside and measuring your progress towards the horizon. If you measure forward against the horizon-line, it seems like you’ve never made any progress. And in both cases, what you have to do is look back to where you came from, where you started, and you came back.
So if you measure against the ideal, you’re in “The Gap” and “The Gap” is discouraging, and you feel like a disappointment. Other people see you as a success, and you have to experience yourself as a failure because you’ve made no progress towards the ideal.
If you do it the other way—we all have ideals, but I just use ideals as illumination: Ideals just illuminate where my next big achievement can be, and then as soon as I have that achievement, I look backwards to where I started and I always feel good.
So now we’ve taken away the pain of setting a goal in the first place and immediately populated it with “Who”s, and as you’re achieving your bigger goal, when you get to the goal, don’t measure forwards, measure backwards. We’ve taken away the pain of achievement. Two things, you know?
We’ve eliminated a lot of drug-taking with we’ve eliminated multiple marriages, we’ve… Yeah?
And the third one is, since you’re in the business of achieving big goals and you’re in the business of having big achievements, then start off that the best goals are where it’s 10x bigger and better than the goals you have right now, because you’re not going to do the work to get to the 10x goal because of “Who Not How” and all the progress towards this 10x, you’re going to find very encouraging because you’re always measuring backwards, you’re not measuring forwards. OK? So the three books go together as a trilogy, which we did not see until the third book was there, and then when we had the third book I said, “You know, these three totally fit together,” but we did not see that beforehand.
So the logic of achievement, and the logic of progress, and the logic of growth is never obvious to you until you look backwards, and then you can see it.
Gord Vickman: It happy accidents. Serendipitous intellectual integration.
Dan Sullivan: Yeah, luck, luck, luck, you know? Yeah, surprise opportunities. Surprise breakthroughs. You can’t predict any of those. And you can’t force them to make it. And that’s why breakthroughs in science and technology and a lot of other areas don’t happen intentionally. They happen looking backwards and they said, “You know what we’ve done here? You know, we thought we were doing this and turns out we’ve done this.” And you got to be okay with yourself, that “I don’t care how it came about”.
Gord Vickman: Yep, I’m going to paraphrase this, but the inventor of the microwave was trying to discover something completely different. Then he noticed every time he’d go near his invention, the chocolate in his pocket kept melting. Wish I had further details. Maybe we’ll cut that part out. We’ll see. I wish I knew what his name was. That just popped into my head.
That’s the pleasure of podcasting is you can edit that will and edit liberally if you so choose.
Dan, any final? Thoughts. What did you get out of this episode, as we wrap here?
Dan Sullivan: It’s really interesting, because no one had directly asked me the question before for the listener, how would you put these three books together? I mean that actually if you read one of the books, you’ll want to read the other two because they’re like the three sides of a triangle. They’re like the three angles of the triangle. You know, that two sides always support the other side, and I didn’t see this until we had three books, and they’ve all been very, very successful. They’ve been multiple bestsellers.
You know, I think the first two books, we’re closing in on the half-million mark in total hardcover sales, and then we have ebook sales and then we have Audible sales, so we have a lot of sales. And it’s done world of good for people not knowing anything about Strategic Coach saying, “Gee, I better look into this Strategic Coach,” which is our objective, from Strategic Coach standpoint, that’s the entire reason for having the books is not to make a lot of money on the books.
So one of the things that we did with Ben is we just had the deal that he’s the writer, writer of the book. I’m the author of the book. So the contract with the publisher, I’m the author but Ben is the writer and all the money goes to the writer. The money doesn’t go to the author, and that was a new thing for them. They had never seen this before. OK? And I don’t know if it’s giving them new ideas, but there’s not too many people who can pull it off.
You know, when Tucker Max, who’s been a phenomenal advisor to us, Tucker is just a genius at creating bestselling books, probably helped 1000 entrepreneurs in his life. And Tucker said, “You know, you’re kind of odd, because a lot of people write a book so that down the road they can create some sort of program, coaching program, out of their book. You’ve spent the last 50 years creating the coaching program, and now you’re writing the book,” he says. “You’re a very different fish in the ocean than anybody’s seen before.
And I said, “I take that as a compliment.”
Gord Vickman: Walking, breathing, living a remix.
Dan Sullivan: We know how to sell, and we want to see if taking our next 10x jump for Strategic Coach, whether we can have books out there selling for us, you know? Really major-market books, and they do. They encourage. They don’t make the sale, but they create great qualified leads, which is the most expensive part of selling is actually getting people where you can actually talk to them directly. OK? Yeah, we know how to sell once we have peoples attention, but the whole question is how do you get their attention? And these books have probably cut the cost of attracting interest by 90%.
Gord Vickman: And that’s a beautiful thing. 10x Is Easier Than 2x is available now from your favorite book retailer, either online or in person. It is everywhere.
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