The Portfolio Life with Jeff Goins

When it comes to achieving goals, many of us may be thinking about them the wrong way.

You and I have been told that you can have everything you want in life if you work hard enough and persevere long enough. But is this really the way life works? Is that even what you want? How often in life do we set our stubborn sights on some goal — a relationship, a kind of work, or even something we want to possess — and as soon as we get it, we are disappointed?

Direct download: goal_setting_story.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:19am CDT

All good stories involve dying. The often-literal death of a mentor requires the hero to grow and move on in his journey. But there is also the shedding of a character’s old identity in exchange for a new way of being. Not to mention, the loss of friends and foes throughout any adventure is a necessary part of the process. Death is a part of every great story, and so it must be for all great lives.

Direct download: PL_true_work.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm CDT

A few weeks ago, I did an episode of The Portfolio Life called "Don’t Build an Empire, Find a Few Friends Who Care." It was about how the secret of marketing and getting your ideas to spread is really just about having a few friends who care. You want to create remarkable work and put it into the right hands to get it to spread.

So, in the email that I wrote for that podcast and blog essay, I asked people to email me a question, something that they were struggling with or need help with, and I got a ton of questions. Here I am a few weeks later, still not having answered those questions (sorry!) and so I decided to just turn on the old mike, pull up the inbox, and answer those questions in a podcast.

Hopefully, these are answers to questions not just a handful of folks asked but maybe questions that you're wondering about. Often, when you're in a classroom or workshop setting, some brave soul raises their hand to ask a question. It's often something lots of other people around are wondering as well so hopefully, that's the case here, and you get your question answered, even if you didn't ask it. 

Direct download: QA_november2019.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am CDT

Often, we think the way to stand out from the pack is to be better. And sometimes that is the answer: to become an improved version of who you were yesterday, to do what the “other guy” is doing with a few added features.

However, this is often a losing strategy, as you are making iterative improvements on someone else’s work. A better way to become world-class at what you do is to change the game completely.

Don’t be better; be different. 

Direct download: BE_Different_not_better.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am CDT

I've often wondered what would it be like to be a nomad and travel the world. I did this for a brief time in my early 20s and then stopped, and recently I've been falling back in love with travel.

I’ve bumped into some really interesting people who have traveled the world. I've learned that travel is not so much about the places you go or the people you meet, but instead, it's about the person you become.

In this episode of The Portfolio Life, I talk with Matt Kepnes, aka Nomadic Matt. Matt spent 10 years of his life traveling the world. He's the New York Times bestselling author of How to Travel the World on $50 a Day, as well as a follow-up book he just published called Ten Years a Nomad.

In this interview, Matt and I discuss:

  • How a movie changed Matt’s trajectory and a vacation led to a new career
  • What is means to like the “art” but not the “job” of being a creative professional as well as the difference between a hobby and a profession
  • How travel and a change of environment makes you uncomfortable and why you should lean into that
  • Why you should travel alone at least once
  • How familiarity leads to complacency
  • Why one of the greatest gifts of travel is learning to be your own best friend
Direct download: 221_Matt_Kepnes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am CDT

"Just be yourself" is probably the worst advice we could ever receive or give a person.

Few of us actually know who we really are. And yet, if we can acquire this art of self-awareness, everything changes.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment."

But how do I do that?

For full show notes, click here:

Direct download: BE_-_Unbearable_Lightness.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am CDT

Recently while speaking on stage, I heard myself say something I didn’t plan on sharing.

I didn’t rehearse it. I didn’t have it in my notes. It just came out.

The line was:

“Sometimes, the good has to end before the better can begin.”

Full shownotes available here:

Direct download: end_things_well.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am CDT

The best marketing you can do for your work is not to build an empire, but to find a few friends who care.

We all want to reach the masses and see our work get into the mainstream. We want to have an “impact.” But the only way to reach the many is to first reach the few.

This is all marketing is:

Finding a handful of misfits who appreciate your work before anyone else does, then giving those people the tools to help spread the message.

The way we get a Harry Potter, Apple Computer, or Amanda Palmer is not by trying to reach everyone all at once. Quite the opposite in fact.

Full shownotes available here.

Direct download: few_friends_who_care.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am CDT

Whether you want to write books, make art, or share your music with the world, having an email list of fans is a must.

Email is the most effective way to communicate with your people.

Social networks come and go.

Marketing trends fade.

But email is forever.

Today, I want to share with you how to pull all of this together.

Full show notes here:

Direct download: em4w_3.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am CDT

It’s one thing to understand the importance of email marketing and quite another to actually build an email list that allows you to reach a large audience.

One of the best things I ever did as a blogger was to build my own email list.

It gave me the power to no longer beg for attention, but be able to communicate regularly with an audience of people who wanted to hear what I had to say.

Not only that, it changed my life and work forever.

Full show notes here:

Direct download: em4w_2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am CDT

Over the years, I’ve seen all kinds of marketing fads come and go.

  • MySpace
  • FriendFeed
  • Xanga1
  • Google Plus
  • Blogging
  • Podcasting

Some of these have come and gone and come back again.

And some have stayed gone.

But do you know what has always remained?


Email marketing is the best, most reliable way to grow and communicate with an audience online.

Full show notes here:

Direct download: em4w_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am CDT

You need an email list. It's just that simple.

If you want to write a book that sells thousands of copies or more, you need people paying attention to your work.

If you want your message to spread, you need people's permission to communicate with them.

And if you want your words to change something, then you need an audience.

The best way to do all that is by building an email list.

Full show notes here:

Direct download: em4w_0.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am CDT

Is it possible to live life on your own terms?

Can you do what you want when it defies the expectations of others?

Is the way you’re living right now a story that others would want to tell?

And how do you do all this with bills to pay and responsibilities to manage?

In this episode of The Portfolio Life, I talk with my friend Lex Latkovski (who also happens to be a member of my Tribe Writers Mastermind).

Lex has been to 80 countries, all 50 U.S. states, lived as a Zen monk for 16 months, and recently launched a successful Kickstarter campaign that led to his first book Passport Forward.

Full shownotes here:

Direct download: Lex_Latkovski.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am CDT

As you may know, I’ve been traveling quite a bit this year.

It’s been fun to meet many of you at the various events I’ve spoken at or attended.

One question I keep hearing is: “What’s your favorite writing tool?”

It’s always good to ask what’s working for someone, but this question represents a popular misconception about creative work.

Full shownotes:

Direct download: Paul_Jarvis.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am CDT

You didn’t fail.

The goal was to learn something, so if you learned, you succeeded. It’s only when the unexpected happens and we don’t learn from it that we really fail.

The reason why you may not have achieved what you set out to achieve was that you were measuring (and therefore expecting) the wrong thing.

Full shownotes:

Direct download: Quick_Win.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:18pm CDT

Why does anyone buy anything?

Because the cost of not having it is greater than the cost of acquiring it.

This is true for almost everything but especially for sales and marketing.

If you want to thrive as a creative professional, you need to understand what it takes for someone to buy from you.

Otherwise, you just might starve.

Full shownotes:

Direct download: PDS_7.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30pm CDT

When is it time to launch your latest product?

The answer is before you think it’s ready.

This is where you make your product public.

Is it a book? A course? A new coaching program?

Now is the time for you to let the world know.

Full shownotes:

Direct download: PDS_6.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:09pm CDT

Digital products have changed my life. Courses. Ebooks. Coaching programs. Masterminds. Membership sites. All of it.

Making things and sharing them on the Internet has revolutionized the way I live, learn, and earn a living.

And if you aren’t taking advantage of this revolution right now, you are missing out on a lot.

Full shownotes:

Direct download: PDS_5.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:38pm CDT

How do you create something from nothing?

You don’t.

You always start with something.

Creation comes from chaos.

And so will your next book, course, or big project.

Full shownotes:

Direct download: PDS_4.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:24pm CDT

One of the challenges of being a creative professional is that you aren’t always sure what people will buy.

It often feels like a game of Roulette, in which you have to create a lot of work, hoping someone will buy something.

But what if it didn’t have to be that way?

What if you could sell something before you ever created it?

Full shownotes:

Direct download: PDS_3.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:01pm CDT

So many people set out to create a product—whether it’s a book, a coaching service, or an online course—and assume they know what people want.

Don’t do that.

Instead of assuming, just ask.

Full shownotes:

Direct download: PDS_2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:07pm CDT

People don’t typically buy what they need. They buy what they want.

Which is why I love the saying:

“Sell them what they want, give them what they need.”

But how, exactly, do we do that?

Full shownotes:

Direct download: PDS_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:43pm CDT

It’s time you started thriving, and that really begins with you changing your mind.

But maybe you don’t realize that you’re a starving artist.

Maybe it didn’t occur to you that the way you think about yourself and your work is actually holding you back.

Full shownotes:

Direct download: dont_starve_challenge.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:23pm CDT

What I’ve learned since leaving the nonprofit world and starting a business, which included becoming an author, speaker, and digital entrepreneur, is that you can do a lot of good through business.

I now believe that the best way for me to help people is through business. I don’t think that’s true for everyone, but it’s been true for me and for many of my friends.

I know a lot of people who come from a ministry or a nonprofit background who are now doing more good in terms of the number of people they are able to help through for-profit enterprises.

Full shownotes:

Direct download: thinkific_workshop.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:43pm CDT

Learning how to be unapologetically ourselves in our writing and creative work is the first step to becoming effective at what we do.

If we don’t do this, our writing will not resonate with our audience.

Full shownotes:

Direct download: Writing_Sucks.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:12pm CDT

In life, there are so many decisions to make.

And so it is with creative work.

As is often the case, art imitates life (and vice versa).

We are constantly choosing one thing over another.

And this can be a real struggle for many of us.

Full shownotes:

Direct download: 218_Emily_P_Freeman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:07pm CDT

How do you get busy, important people to notice you?

In this age of connectedness, it’s easier than ever to meet your heroes and even partner with them—as long as you know how to do it.

Full shownotes:

Direct download: Meet_Heroes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:26pm CDT

How do you sell 1.7 million copies of a self-published book? You demonstrate unwavering faith and extraordinary effort.

Hal Elrod knows a thing or two about that.

A cancer survivor, bestselling author, and successful entrepreneur, Hal has been inspiring people for years to tackle their days with his Miracle Morning book and process.

Full shownotes:

Direct download: 217_Hal_Elrod.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:55pm CDT

The point of marketing is not to convince people to buy your stuff.

It’s to help you find the people who need your work.

Don’t create something for everyone.

Create something for someone.

Full shownotes:

Direct download: not_for_everyone.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:22pm CDT

I have always believed in ending things well.

Recently, I shared with you why I decided to end my conference.

Now, I want to share with you more about it.

Full shownotes:

Direct download: tribe_conf_why.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:14pm CDT

How do you know when it’s time to quit something and when to stick with it just a little longer?

All of creativity—and life, it seems—is really just an attempt to answer this question.

Full shownotes:

Direct download: endings.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:54pm CDT

People often ask me how I work and I refuse to answer the question because it has absolutely no value at all.

Almost every morning after dropping off my kid at school, I go to the same coffee shop, sit at the same table, drink the same cup of coffee, and write.

It’s the same ritual, every day.

Full shownotes:

Direct download: How_I_Work.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:58pm CDT

Do you remember when you started it, this thing you now call your craft?

Do you remember when you did it because you loved it, because you couldn’t stop doing it?

I don’t. But I’d like to remember.

I’d love to go back to being an amateur if I still can.

Full shownotes:

Direct download: Amateurs_Again.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:46pm CDT

Is your work timely or timeless?

That is, is it something that is relevant to your current place in history, or does it transcend the limitations of its context?

You may be thinking that the goal of every artist is to do work that lasts, but this is a myth.

Full shownotes:

Direct download: The_Great_Gatsby.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:24pm CDT

It’s one thing to call yourself a writer; it’s quite another to actually write.

So what separates the pros from the amateurs?

Is it God-given talent? Natural skill? Or something else?

Of course, we all have gifts that we’ve been given.

This is grace, the fact that we have things we are good at — and don’t deserve them.

But what we do with those gifts is what separates the outliers from the rest of the pack.

Full shownotes:

Direct download: 3_Step_Daily_Writing_Habit.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:08am CDT

Has a really good story every moved you to feel or to act?

That is the true art of storytelling.

Someone who knows this well and has honed this art is Scott Harrison of charity: water.

Full shownotes:

Direct download: EP_216_-_Scott_Harrison.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:58am CDT

It was late that night as I sat on my friend Ian’s porch and poured out my heart.

What I had to share, though, I hadn’t told anybody, and it had been eating me up inside for a few years now.

It was time somebody knew.

Full shownotes:

Direct download: transformative_year.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:26pm CDT