Building the Habits Necessary to Succeed as a Founder with James Clear

Episode #073

James Clear (@jamesclear), the author of Atomic Habits, knows a thing or two about forming successful habits as a founder. In this episode, he talks about how he developed the habits he used to help grow his website to over 400,000 subscribers. We also go into detail about the methods and science behind habit formation, and how any founder can develop the habits necessary to do their best work.

Show Notes

  • JamesClear.com — an archive of James' writing for his blog, dating back to 2012

  • Atomic Habits — James' new book, a comprehensive guide on how to change your habits and get 1% better every day

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    Is this the best episode ever? I've just received my copy of the book 'Atomic Habits' and can't wait to read it! I just feel I need to share my indiehacker project https://everyday.app which is a simple and beautiful habit tracker highly inspired by James Clear's ideas! (I actually started developing it in early 2017 after having devoured his blog which I strongly recommend!) Off-topic: "every day" is said seven times in this episode :P

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      I used to track habits on graph book(physical book). I wanted to build one for myself. I'll give it a try

      I love the design.

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        thank you! :) feel free to give any feedback. I hope the app helps you grow! :-)

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      Congrats on making a wonderfully designed product.

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        thank you! :) hope it helps put James' tips into action!

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    My Main Takeaways:

    • James saw glimpses of his entrepreneurial spirt while growing up, but didn’t know what entrepreneurship was. He used to charge a fee to sell his friends' used textbooks on Amazon. And he also created his own major at college because he wanted to create his own unique path.

    • Rather than getting a job after grad school, James decided that he’d try to launch a business instead. So he spent 2 years after grad school learning about business, running websites and related skills.

    • The most valuable lesson James learned was learning to trust himself.

    • Explore/Exploit tradeoff - exploit (try) different things until something really sticks and then exploit that.

    • People should do internships for the first decade of their career until they’ve found something that REALLY resonates with them. When starting a project, try explore different solutions to it, then as the deadline approaches exploit the approach that was most promising.

    • After spending a few years learning, James started writing in his blog. It took off much faster than anything he had previously worked on. He started at 0, and a year later he had 34,000 subscribers, then a year later had 100,000, then a year later, 250,000, then a year later 400,000.

    • Don’t prematurely optimize, start off trying many different things (explore), and then exploit the thing that resonates with you most.

    • Never stop learning, studying, reading, but make sure that you also take action! James gives the analogy of driving a car (taking action), vs filling a car up with gas (learning). You shouldn’t do only one, rather do both.

    • Don’t cheat yourself on sleep.

    • Stay consistent over long periods of time.

    • Your vision will adapt over time: James’ idea for his blog was to make a health blog, but it evolved into productivity over time.

    • The more feedback cycles you get while learning something, the faster and more accurate you will learn.

    • See your life in seasons. Each season is for something different. Focus on what you must do to get through this current season, and you can entertain the other things you want to do in future seasons.

    • James Clear does not want to be famous

    • Having a great co-founder is your best bet when starting a business, second to that is being a solo-founder, and the worst thing is to have a bad co-founder.

    • Having a co-founder is great simply for the fact that you have someone to talk to.

    • Focus on creating a great user experience.

    • Reinforce good behaviours by giving yourself rewards.

    • Change your identity to become the type of person that performs the habit you are trying to incorporate into your life.

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    Offtopic question: how is the transcription done? Is it automatic? If so it's good!

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      It's done by hand! Check out ExpeditedTranscripts.com.

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    Very surprised he doesn't have an image of himself on the site. It builds trust.

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    I admire how James has a clear and coherent philosophy of his life and work.

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    Fascinating ep

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      I can't speak for James, but I can say that for every business that's working well, the number of possible good ideas far exceeds the amount of time available to do all of them. So from an outsider's perspective, there will always seem to be good ideas sitting around not being capitalized on.

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