I’m on the plane flying back home from Chicago where I attended Ramit Sethi’s Forefront conference.
So how was Forefront?
Well, the weather was great. For the last month or so Slovenia was cold and rainy, and I almost forgot what sunshine looked like. When I arrived to Chicago, it felt like arriving into a whole new world. The sun was shining, the weather was sweet, and it wasn’t windy at all.
The people were incredible. It was so much fun to see my Ultimate Guide System students, Accelerator students, the friends I’ve met through Ramit’s communities, and the IWT staff that I worked with for two years. It felt like being around my family of weirdos that got me and accepted me for who I am.
The speeches were fun as well. My favorite speech was from Shawn Achor, the author of The Happiness Advantage. You might have seen his TED talk before about happiness that got over 1.9 million views.
What I loved about the speech the most was the level of mastery that Shawn has shown. He was insanely well prepared, had perfectly timed and hilarious jokes, and great, actionable takeaways. It’s no surprise he got a standing ovation in the end, since he must have spend hundreds of hours practicing that speech.
In this post, I’ll share 3 personal lessons that I took away from Forefront, that will change the way I run my online business and live my life in the future.
Let’s dive in!
Lesson #1: I’m more than just Ramit’s star student
In his opening keynote, Ramit did something he has never done before. He got really personal and vulnerable on stage.
He shared both the behind the scenes of his engagement story, as well as a story about downsizing his company, sleepless nights and personal challenges he had to overcome to save his company.
I could see that the attendees were both shocked and grateful that he shared a part of his life with them, rather than just talking about different business tactics that he usually talks about. I was surprised as well as I didn’t see that coming, and proud that he has made the decision to be more transparent about his life. I know it will help his readers connect with him better.
He shared those lessons in the context of his speech, which was called “Rewrite your story”. We all have stories about ourselves that tell ourselves and believe in, which might have helped us get to where we are today. But in order to achieve the next level of personal growth and success, we need to rewrite them.
The story that I told myself for the past few years was the story of being Ramit’s star student. I learned everything I knew about running an online business from him. I took all of his online courses, passed them with flying colors and went from earning $7/h as a programmer in Slovenia to building a 6-figure online business. I even worked with him for 2 years to develop his 7-figure online business coaching program called Accelerator.
That story helped me get to where I am today. It was even apparent in Forefront, where I couldn’t make 2 steps before someone approached me and told me that they saw me in Ramit’s courses.
But over the past few months, I realized that I didn’t want that to be my WHOLE story any more. I wanted it to become a small part of my much bigger story. I no longer wanted to be known as just Ramit’s student, I wanted to become known for who I am, for the work that I do and for the difference that I make in the world. Not just in Ramit’s community, but in many other places of the internet as well.
Moving forward, I’ll still follow Ramit and learn from him when it makes sense, but I will no longer spend most of my time in his communities, helping his students and talking about how he has helped me.
Instead of that, I’ll focus more on telling my own stories of what I learn in my own life. I’ll spend the majority of time talking to my students, figuring out what THEY want, and building lasting relationships with them – which is what I’ve done a lot of at Forefront.
When I talked to Ramit about what he thinks is most important for me right now, he told me that quitting Facebook was the best decision I could have ever made, because that will really help me focus on pulling from other parts of my life. He encouraged me to spend more time learning about the things I’m interested in (like competing in powerlifting and learning about sports psychology) and sharing that with the world.
He also encouraged me to do stop thinking about the products that he would create and the blog posts that he would write, and to instead do the things that I want to do and create the things that my customers want me to create.
As you’re reading this, this is probably obvious to you as an outsider, but it wasn’t obvious for me. I know that in the back of my mind, I always worried what Ramit would think when I wrote a new blog post or created a new product.
Just hearing that from him changed something inside me. It felt like I got permission to truly by myself and let myself live the life I want to live, not someone else’s life. It felt like a huge rock fell off my shoulders.
I know that the next few months will be challenging as I “reinvent myself”, but I’m also excited for the future. There’s just SO much more that I want to share with you.
How to apply this lesson to your life:
As you’re reading this, I challenge you to think about YOUR story. Is there a story you’re telling yourself that isn’t serving well? What if that story wasn’t true? What’s another story that you could tell yourself that would stop slowing you down, and actually speed up your process by getting you excited about your business? Think about it – and make a conscious decision to rewrite your story.
Lesson #2: I have hundreds of happy, quiet readers that I didn’t know about
During Forefront, I focus on spending as much quality time as possible with my Ultimate Guide System students and 1on1 coaching clients. I organized a breakfast for my students, I sat next to them in the audience, I talked to them during breaks, grabbed lunch with them, and even went shopping with them.
It was amazing to see them face to face and to get to know them and their stories better. They’re some of the most fun, interesting and hard working people I know.
One of my students hosted another student in their AirBnB. Another one drove for 5 hours one way just to grab breakfast with the other students, even though they weren’t a Forefront attendee. Another one, Kate, printed out all THREE of my Ultimate Guides and brought them with her to the conference:
I was so proud when I saw how many of them read my Ultimate Guide to Attending Conferences , took the advice from it and prepared incredible questions for the speakers. You could see that they were putting in the work that nobody else was putting in, and I know this will pay off for them big time in the future.
I was also shocked to see that over 50 people that I didn’t know yet came up to me during the conference and told me that they read my guide and loved it. I had NO idea that so many people took the time to go through it. I expected perhaps 10 or 20 of my students to do it, but 50+ people at just one conference I was going to? That’s amazing.
I realized that what Derek Halpern says about most of your happy readers being quiet couldn’t be more true. I know that I sometimes get discouraged when I send out an email and don’t get hundreds of responses back – that doesn’t mean that nobody is reading the emails, or that the content in them isn’t valuable. it just means that they might not take the time to respond back to me, which is fine.
How to apply this lesson to your life:
If you’re running an online business and sometimes get hard on yourself because you don’t get as many responses or comments on your blog post, remember that there might be a lot of people reading the post and benefitting from it, even though they might be silent.
See how that makes you feel differently about what you’ve written, and switch your focus to creating more great content – without necessarily looking to find a flood of comments.
Lesson #3: I need to get better at LISTENING to people and meeting them where there are
On the last day of Forefront, I participated in an on-stage “teardown” with Ramit, where we chatted about a burning question that I had for 15 minutes.
My question was about how you can change your mindset about money to go from earning 6 figures to earning 7, 8 or 9 figures. But deep down, I knew that wasn’t the actual question I wanted to ask. I knew there was something deeper going on, I just didn’t know what.
First we talked about how I feel like people around me in Slovenia don’t really get the idea of making more money because they all say things like “I hope you’re not doing this just for the money”, “money won’t make you happy”, and “if you make a lot of money, you must be doing something illegal”.
But within minutes, our conversation took a sharp turn.
We went from talking about how to improve my mindset to how to improve my relationship with my parents (the #1 thing I avoid talking about). And that happened on stage, in front of 500 people. FUCK.
As soon as Ramit asked me about why I feel guilty when I spend a lot of money on things I enjoy (like flying business class), I got a bit nervous. I knew where we were going.
I explained that I felt guilty because I knew that my parents would rather have me put the money in my savings account. They didn’t “get” the philosophy of living a rich life.
As I expected, my conversation took a sharp turn within the first few minutes.
When Ramit asked me if I know why my parents don’t approve of my lifestyle, things got worse. My mind blanked. It was one of those moments when the situation was obvious to everyone on the stage but me.
Fortunately the awkward silence didn’t last long, and after an honest “I have no idea”, Ramit walked me through the situation. You see, I was talking to my parents about all the things that I thought were important like having an amazing business class flight or eating at a michelin star restaurant, rather than talking about things that they care about like how I’m spending quality time with my sister or how I’ve helped one of my clients change their lives.
As I heard this, it all started to make sense. It was right in front of me all a long. Then, as I was walking down the stage into the backstage area, I had a lightbulb moment. I realized that my parents weren’t the only people whose language I wasn’t speaking. I was doing the same thing with my clients.
After the teardown I spent 10 minutes making 5 pages of notes with ideas of how I can better serve my clients and speak their language, rather than my language. I realized that they were telling me a lot of things that I completely missed and ignored.
For example, my best clients told me that they weren’t interested in making a quick buck as they weren’t strapped for money. They didn’t care about things moving as fast as possible. They just wanted to get really good at building an online business, and didn’t care how long it took. They wanted to learn how to create high quality work they were proud of that would capture their expertise well.
Armed with this insight, I’m already rethinking how I can change the way I run my business, write copy, and listen to what my customer are saying. I know this will be HUGE for me.
It’s funny how this one moment changed everything for me. Talking about something I always avoided talking about (my relationship with my parents) lead me to a big business breakthrough that I NEEDED to hear.
How to apply this lesson to your life:
Do you ever find it hard for you to connect with someone (it could be your parents, your clients, your friends, your significant other…)? If yes, what do you think they might be telling you that you aren’t paying attention to? Is it possible that you’re talking about things that YOU care about, rather than what THEY care about? If yes, what can you do differently next time you talk to them?
Was flying to Forefront worth it?
Just these 3 insights alone made Forefront WELL worth the money. And I didn’t even mention the amazing party at the museum of science, the eye-opening conversation I had with a friend for breakfast, or the double date over dinner where I laughed so hard I almost cried.
I also didn’t mention all the amazing copywriting and business strategy lessons I got from the speeches at the conference. That’s because some things that happen at Forefront need to stay at Forefront – and I hope I’ll see you there next year.
What about you? If you’ve attended Forefront this year, what were YOUR favorite takeaways, moments or lessons from the conference?
Let me know in the comments below!
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