Eddy: [0:09] Hello everyone, this is Eddy Baller and I have with me today, Darren Djfuji. He’s a former U.S. Marine and a dating coach, as well as a life coach. Darren, welcome to the show.
Darren: [0:24] Hey man, good to be here.
Eddy: Yeah, it’s awesome to have you on. I think I found you, originally on the Twenty-One Convention.
Darren: [0:34] Yeah, probably.
Eddy: Yeah, you have some speeches on there, which I thought were quite cool. I found you there a number of years ago and I’ve been following you ever since. It’s awesome to have you on today.
Darren: [0:42] Thanks, man.
Eddy: We’re going to be talking about one particular topic today and it’s not about dating (although we may touch on that as well). Our topic is Treating your life like a business. You put up one quote that I really liked and I’ll quote you here really quickly. It’ll give the viewers an idea of the topic. You wrote:
“When possible, I try to run my life like an organization, military unit or corporation. This means creating and planning budgets, planning for long-term goals and diversifying my assets and portfolio.
“One of the habits I picked up early on was the idea of investing in human capital, specifically, my own. That is, I realized the return on investment (ROI) to invest in personal skills and personal development was massive because, usually, these skills could be used for several years afterward; unlike things such as furniture, cars and electronics.”
Now this idea really hit home for me, as I tend to spend my money on things that are good for my health and help me feel good in the long run, or will help me gain new skills that will help me gain more money, or gain new personal skills for business, making friends and meeting girls.
Tell me a little bit about this idea of investing yourself. Specifically, what is investing in yourself for you, in a practical sense?
Darren: [2:06] Yeah. So the central idea here is what I realized. That’s investing in skill development. (I mean your own personal skill development.) If you look (and even though it can be expensive for tutors and coaches and all that stuff), but from a pretty early age, my parents kind of instilled that in me.
They didn’t teach me the concept so much as they did the concept. I remember when I was growing up and I was struggling in certain school subjects. Ironically, one of the subjects was math and, you would think all Asians would be good at math… but, apparently, they’re not!
[2:46] My parents sent me to this private tutoring service in the United States. It’s called Kumon. It’s this Japanese tutoring service and they do the same thing as in Japan: they drill you for hours after hours, after school.
[3:01] It was really expensive at the time, I remember thinking; and my parents had had to discuss it because they’d had me enrolled in the math one, the Japanese one and a bunch of other stuff. I was enrolled in lessons; I took gymnastics, I took martial arts… I took all kinds of things so I’ve had all this exposure to these different types of coaches and teachers.
[3:26] I remember my parents talking about how they could barely afford this. My dad had his own business and said how important it was not to skip on my overall education and skill development beyond school. He didn’t say it like that, but basically, he’d say if he had to work longer and not go out to the movies so that he could take another class, then it was worth it to him.
So they didn’t explain the concept to me, but that’s what I did. And, later, when it came time to date, I kind of did the same thing. I looked for help; I looked for guys from whom I could learn, I looked for tutors and mentors, and I took boot camps and courses.
And then, when it came to my hobbies, I did the same thing. I like photography (like a lot of people do today) and, when I did it, I said, “Hey, I don’t really know what I’m doing.” I tried it myself a little bit, then I did what I’d been trained to do: I hired a coach, a 1:1 coach. It was expensive–a few thousand), but I had him basically tutor and mentor me 1:1. He was a pro photographer and I remember thinking at the time that this was quite expensive.
Then we went out on my first shoot and I recall thinking, “Wow! I’ve learned more from him in one lesson than I have over the past two years trying to figure this out myself.” Looking back and realizing how foolish it was that I’d kind of screwed around, doing it myself, especially looking back and realizing how I wasted a lot of time when I could’ve gone on that camera and had that skill set, when that’s exactly how I was raised. That’s what I was kind of raised to do: to invest in myself.
Thinking about it later, I realized that the idea of business capital comes from an investment idea. If your return on investment (ROI) generally tends to be pretty big on that idea (especially if you don’t have employees there for about 40 or 50 years, or even understanding that people are going to change jobs), investing in the skill set of human capital and that of your people will generally be a very big pay-off for you and the organization.
[5:49] Of course, if you’re investing in yourself and treating your life as the organization, now your pay off’s huge. Now, if I were to learn Spanish (which isn’t one of my primary goals), learning a skill set like that now in my 30s, conceivably if I live to my 80s, I have 50 years’ pay off.
[6:21] Maybe I don’t learn it or use it every day. That’s still fifty years pay off. What other thing can you put money in that’s going to reap benefits for the next 50 years?
There are very few benefits that will appreciate over 50 years. Even those that do naturally, like if you bought gold bullion, that’s generally going to appreciate over the decades. But it’s still not going to bring you benefits over the years, right? It’s still going to go down, right?
[6:58] Most of the things we buy depreciate. That’s when I realized I wanted to invest as much of my time, money or energy or whatever into things that are going to have the biggest pay off. And that’s kind of when I came to this idea.
Eddy: So, you’re saying, basically, that instead of wasting your time (or potentially wasting your time) doing something completely on your own, you’d rather put the money into an idea or a program that’s going to help you get past that learning curve?
Do you feel as though a lot of people who start new ventures–like maybe they choose a skill like a language or start going to the gym to get buff or lose weight–or, even for dating coaching–do you feel like a lot more people would stick to it if they thought investing in an actual program where someone guides them and makes something out of them faster than just kind of wandering through the dark (basically) and eventually quitting?
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Darren: [8:03] I think accountability is a big thing, especially if it’s something that’s difficult or has a high failure rate. Think about it: Why does law school exist? Why does college exist? You could do both on your own. There are reports of guys who’ve passed the bar and become lawyers without ever having gone to law school. Now, it’s really rare to self educate and not go through the education system. There’s no accountability. Think about it: law school and the educational system is simply about accountability. You could do the same work and take the same exams; it’s just that you won’t do it, so you have to have a teacher there who says, “Now do this exercise.”
[8:54] So I think accountability’s a big thing for making sure that you do it, but I think, in the bigger picture (and the way I wrote that post) is that I try to run my life like I run my business or just an organization or like I would run a military unit (or whatever) as a whole–because organizations are designed to be self sufficient; they’re designed to maximize growth, they’re designed with specific goals in mind.
[9:18] Most people don’t run their lives like that; they run them like amateur organizations that will go bankrupt. You don’t want to do that because you will go bankrupt. You’re not running things correctly, functionally speaking.
[9:36] At the beginning of the year–the fiscal year–what do organizations do? They set up a fiscal budget, right?
When I was in the military, we had to set up a training budget. We allocated a certain amount for courses (sometimes even civilian courses, right?) and budgeted for instructors.
When I was in Marine Corps Bravo, the guy I’m taking the next course from was teaching the military edge weapons and stuff (like fighting with knives and all these different kinds of things).
At the beginning of the year, military groups and organizations will have a budget for what they’re going to spend–on guys like Bravo or supplies, etc.
Very, very few people actually do that: set aside a budget for that. They’ll set aside a budget if they have to, like for college tuition and books. But afterward, no one sets up budgets for training or food or entertainment.
Most people don’t do that, let alone look at their own books or accounting… unless there’s a problem! Most people don’t look at their own financial records like a business would, to see where their finances could be optimized, the way a business would. And that hurts you in the long run. Your personal development ends up being the same way a business would if it didn’t do those things. You’re missing an opportunity to optimize that part of your life!
Eddy: Obsolete, basically.
Darren: [11:50] Yep. Yeah.
Eddy: What would be one consequence of running your life kind of hunky-dory and being like a leaf in the wind? What would be a major consequence?
Darren: [12:02] I think it’s the same thing as if you had a business and you ran it like that. The big consequence is: you tend not to meet your goals. As you said, you’re a leaf in the wind; you’re kind of a jellyfish. If a jellyfish wants to go from the east coast of Canada to Australia… Good luck, right? You’d better hope the water’s going in your direction!
Because there are no sails being set, no control and no actions in place, you’d just be relying on the “luck of the draw”. You’d be allowing your environment to push you in that direction.
[12:36] Say it’s financial. If you don’t have–presumably you have some sort of financial goal, you’re just praying to God that something finds a way to get there. I think that’s what most people are doing day to day and year to year, yet they expect to get some sort of windfall or financial success.
Everybody wants to be successful, financially, but, actually, less than one percent of the population is doing anything about it. Or doing the right things–like setting goals and taking the right actions to make it happen.
I think that’s why they get or have the financial inequality we have today. Especially in the United States, you see that people would rather complain about the inequality: yes, there’s inequality; yes, there are certain things that need to be addressed, politically. But people are more concerned with complaining about it than going about changing it.
I’ll bet, that if you polled the people in the occupy movement, you’d get, “Oh, these people are the one percent and we’re the 99%” stuff.
If you polled them and asked what things they were doing to get out of the 99%… asked them if they had a budget for this year or if they were investing in themselves so they could get closer to the one percent next year… dude, if you want to be in that one percent, are you doing anything about it?
They’ll respond, “Well, not really…” They’d rather not do anything about it; they’d rather just complain about it. I think that if you don’t do anything to hit that success, then you can’t really complain when you don’t hit that success.
Eddy: Yes; I think it would be more productive for people to get their minds together and work toward achieving business goals and stop making $30K a year (or whatever the income is).
Just thinking about bills, I see where you’re at, too, talking about the occupy movement. I hear from past friends who would rather complain about the price of tomatoes, rather than earning more money so they can pay for them. When people say things are too expensive I say you just need to make more money.
One book that had a major influence on me years ago was, Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach their Kids about Money that the Poor and Middle Class do Not! by Robert Kiyosaki.
(I’ve heard recently that maybe the story wasn’t real.) But the same principles holds true: you have to invest in yourself. There’s no such thing as “too expensive”, really. Obviously, if you want to buy a penthouse in New York, that’s really fucking expensive unless you’re a billionaire. It’s relative to where you are in your own life.
If food is too expensive in your city–and, we’re talking about a basic necessity here–that just means you’re not making enough money, in my own opinion.
Darren: [16:05] Yeah. I agree.
One of the key tenants from that book that I believe it taught me is poor people say, “I can’t afford it;” wealthy people say, “How can I afford it,” regardless of whether they can or they can’t and no matter what the dollar amount is. It’s a different mindset.
[16:26] In dating, I teach the same concept: people who will fail in life say, “I can’t do it;” people who succeed say, “How can I do it?”
[16:35] One of the key tenants is: there’s always a way out, right? (They’re talking about whatever the hold is or the situation in which you find yourself, but obviously, that applies to life, too.)
It means there is no scenario where there isn’t a way out. There’s always a solution; a way for Macgyver-ing your way out. (It’s funny because no one gets that reference anymore, but I’m old.
Eddy: I get it. (haha)
Darren: And the guy hasn’t been on the air forever–(haha), but, for those of you who are listening, Macgyver was a TV show in the eighties. He was a guy who would always find himself in situations he couldn’t get out of with the bad guys coming. So he’d use bubblegum and duct tape and a jar of honey and make a bomb. (haha)
Eddy: I used to actually have a Macgyver reference in my dating profile when I was using OK Cupid in the past.
Darren: [17:26] Oh, yeah?
Eddy: Yes. People always commented on it, was hilarious.
Darren: [17:36] Yes?
Eddy: But I guess they were older.
Darren: [17:38] It’s funny: the older I get the more I realize people don’t get references that were from my childhood, and not even from my childhood, but my early 20s. One of my other coaches (Jared), loved to use the lyrics from this old song that goes something like, “This is why your milkshake brings all the boys in the yard.”
He loves that lyric but it’s getting to the point where that song is 12 or 13 years old. (We did the calculation because we started running into girls who would ask what he was talking about and what that was.)
[18:15] We started to realize that if you met a girl who was 21 and in the club, she would’ve been eight years old when that song came out. Right? They just don’t understand that thing anymore.
[18:23] Sometimes, girls would say something along the lines of calling you a player and I would run that old … People don’t get that reference anymore! (It’s 20 years old.)
Eddy: You get blank eyes.
Darren: [18:35] I know, right? They say, “What?”
Eddy: “Aren’t I cool anymore?”
Darren: [18:38] Yes, exactly.
Eddy: Yes. I had this milkshake song on one of my YouTube playlists and it started playing automatically. My girlfriend said, “What the fuck–?”
Darren: [18:50] Yes, yes; that’s funny.
Eddy: [quietly] It’s hilarious.
So, yes, it would be investing yourself. (Sorry, we went off topic slightly, a little bit.)
In terms of practicality of investing in one’s self, let’s say someone hasn’t invested in himself and plays video games all day, living in his mom’s basement. (Let’s say there’s a guy who’s about 35 and he’s listening to this program right now.) What would you tell him to help him have a better life for himself, who’s starting at rock bottom?
Darren: [19:34] I think the central concept is not just building a better life; I think the central concept is to run your life like an organization.
Say a business consultant is coming in to audit the processes of your organization. What would he tell you? (Now this is a guy who’s main resources are time, money and energy.)
His time is being spent on video games and his money’s being spent on video games or Cheetos or whatever–it’s being spent, right? And his energy’s spent on that, too.
A business consultant’s going to come in and tell him he’s wasting his resources on things that have a low yield. So, he’s wasting valuable resources. Instead, he should revert those resources towards higher-yield or higher return on investment (ROI) types of activities and investments.
[20:45] In other words, he should invest his resources correctly and stop squandering. At that point, I would tell him to stop gaming for now.
[20:57] I remember when I was starting kind of the personal development journey where I taught myself. (Basically, I was focused on learning remedial social skills. That’s “what it boiled down to” because those were the skills I didn’t have growing up, given I spent all my time in classes and courses.)
[21:19] When I went through that, a friend of mine, who was a competitive gamer; he actually made money on it. We both made a pact, knowing that gaming was not a high-yield activity (and even though he was making money at it–and a whole lot more money on it than at his other jobs) to uninstall all of our games. Just uninstall, and not even play them anymore.
[21:37] It was hard because that’s kind of what we did. But we realized it was also just a waste of our time and resources. In keeping with that idea, we uninstalled and focused our resources.
So in the case of this guy you were telling me about, I would tell him to quit, cold turkey, because he could come back to it, later, when it makes sense.
[22:04] It’s the same thing as a company that’s hemorrhaging money by spending lavishly on housing and parties and all this crazy stuff. One of the coaches in the industry will rent a house for $20 or $30K a month. Then he just hemorrhages money and wonders why he can’t pay his people. (It’s because he’s making foolish decisions.)
[22:30] The first thing is to make sure he corrects or fixes this. For this guy living in his mother’s basement, we’d take the resources he does have and re-divert them into high-yield activities.
Now he’ll spend his time doing things like looking for a job (if he doesn’t have a job). Maybe he buys a book on how to interview and how to write resumes, right? Or he spends it on a new online course to teach him how to teach him a new skill set that he can use in the workplace. Maybe he spends his time and money going to networking events rather than going out to eat and drink with his friends.
[23:10] These are higher yield activities, activities that are going to have a positive influence and create a much higher return of investment in his life.
[23:21] So he spends his time and energy and money on those things and yes, those things aren’t always fun. But if he has a goal he wants to accomplish, just like a business, he needs to do exactly what a business consultant would say to a business that was hemorrhaging money and not investing their time, their human capital, and all these things effectively.
That consultant would say they needed to change those things. Stop wasting money and liabilities on things that will not benefit you and things that will take money out of your pocket, as well as investing in things that will not bring your closer in future to your goal. That consultant would also instruct a business to reinvest their time and resources into things that would [benefit their bottom line and aid them in reaching their future goals].
[23:57] I think that would be a first step for him, to start investing his time, using his money, using his energy effectively, and that would take him to the next step. From there–just like a business would–he would then make a little more money.
Let’s say he gets a job with that new-found job skill (or whatever). When he gets that job, he has a little bit more income. He needs to reinvest them into the business. He doesn’t want to take that money and just squander it away. “Oh, here, I made a thousand dollars. Let me just buy a thousand-dollar product.” (Generally, he doesn’t want to do that unless that thousand-dollar product’s going to make him two thousand.) Right?
[24:34] You have a guy like Eben Pagan, who gives dating advice under the name of David DeAngelo, who gives a seminar called… (oh, it’s been five, ten years now…) not “elevated” …
Darren: [24:52] Altitude? … yeah, I think it was “Get Altitude”.
Anyway, it was a business seminar that cost $10K to attend. At the time, I was working for another company and a guy I knew bought three tickets to go to this thing–so he dropped $40K or $50K! (Obviously, he was successful.) And I remember asking him how it was worth it to drop $40 or $50 thousand for four or five tickets to go to this thing. He said, “Because I don’t see that as an expense. … I don’t see it as money outgoing; I see it as an investment. I’m spending, but I’m really investing. In going to this and taking my people to this, I think we’re going to make a lot more than $50K on this.”
[25:47] When I ran into him a year later, he reminded me about this incident and noted how I thought it had been such a big deal. He then told me that, thanks to what he’d learned in that seminar, he’d made an additional $500K in the past six months. So, yes, $50K seemed like a lot to invest there, but not compared with making $500K. (Even if he’d done the accounting on that, that’s a $450K profit.)
Eddy: That’s a huge return.
Darren: [26:17] Yes, yes. I remember realizing that this guy was thinking like a businessman, not like the average guy off the street who works at McDonald’s. He’s thinking like a business; he’s thinking smart.
[26:32] Most people aren’t willing to make those big plays and they’re not smart enough to make them correctly and get themselves to the next level. In a lot of ways, he became my mentor (at least as far as my mindset), though I was teaching him the dating side of things. That’s because I didn’t see things like that. I saw what he’d done as a $50K expense; he saw it as a $50K investment that would make him a lot more money in the long term. It made him $500,000.
Eddy: Hmm… That’s interesting that you mention that. I was just watching, yesterday and today, that Webinar from a marketing guy I follow. He was talking about how most people view marketing as an expense rather than a vehicle for making them additional money. He was saying that he’d had some clients in a $30K program, who complained about having to pay $1 per lead.
He noted that it didn’t matter about paying a lot per lead because they could be paying much more than $1 per lead and get a high return. It’s a return on your investment (ROI), right?
Darren: [27:34] Right.
Eddy: That’s a return on getting more business, not an expense. It should be looked at that way and they should be spending more money on it, provided they get a measurable return.
Darren: [27:52] Right. I think businesses do this, but people, running their own lives, they don’t realize their lives and households run just like organizations do, for better or for worse.
A lot of times when we are coaching someone, we are modifying things that are running their life fundamentally. One of the things I tell a lot of my students is that they need to run their personal lives like they are running a business. For example, a central tenant, in running a business is, there is a limited resource of time. They cannot buy more time; they have to spend it effectively, they have to invest their time.
One thing a lot of businesses will do–and this comes from a really, really great book–is create systems. Those systems are put into place so the businesses don’t have to spend time running around putting out fires. Without systems in place, they do have to run around, putting out fires because they can’t account for all the different variables that incur in day-to-day business.
[29:07] The biggest and most successful example (that we all know) is McDonald’s–a billion- dollar company, right? Why are they able to hire the cheapest and lowest quality labor on the planet? Why are they able to do that and still run billion- dollar enterprise?
They’re able to do that because they are investing their money not in the people they hire but in their processes. McDonald’s has some of the most amazing processes in place that you’ve ever seen. They’re able to handle the most obscure scenarios. For example, a clown comes into McDonald’s and he orders two cups of coffee but he really wants three… that’s in their handbook! They account for everything. As a result, they are able to hire people who don’t really have a lot of independent thought–it could’ve been a robot, even. Their help doesn’t need to think independently; they only need them to follow what the handbook instructs. That’s their Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).
[30:19] We can learn a lot from that in our lives and our businesses. Most businesses don’t develop an SOP. (It’s what we do in the military.) Because businesses don’t have Standard Operating Procedures there’s always a new scenario that demands we stop and figure out how to address that scenario before returning to normal business. Then, the next time that happens, we have to do it again. We stop and panic and try to put out that fire.
[30:42] It’s such as waste of our resources when it could be a standard thing that you do day in, day out. A great example of this is something people do daily: they’re late for work because they can’t find their keys. Why can’t they find their keys? Because there is no Standard Operating Procedure in place that they have where they have a set place to put their keys. (I put my keys in the same place every single day. My keys, flashlight, wallet–everything that I carry–goes in one place, in one bowl. It’s the same place every single time.) I generally never lose my keys or wallet because they always go in the same place.
[31:28] If you don’t do that, over the course of your lifetime, you’re going to spend a lot of time doing something stupid and low yield as looking for your keys when that could’ve been solved in one Standard Operating Procedure.
[31:38] When you take that concept and multiply it over the rest of your life in just creating procedures, that’s not fun; that’s not glamorous. It’s boring and people don’t want to focus on that, but think about all the time that you’d save, now you don’t have to put out fires? You now have time to reinvest in yourself. You take that money and you reinvest that in yourself. Now, you have time to go back to school, you have time to learn a new language; you have time to learn something else that will, again, give you higher yields and then, you can reinvest that.
[32:10] I think that’s the kind of concept that people avoid because it’s not glamorous, it’s not fun and it’s kind of a “pain in the butt”, but as a result, they don’t reap those rewards.
Eddy: I think that’s a great idea about having a set spot for your keys and wallet. I’ve never lost my keys in my life. I’ve never lost my phone. I have two little rings that I’ve worn the last 15 years that I put in the exact same place every single day. If they’re not there, it’s like, ‘Well, how crazy is that? … Where did they go? I always have them in this same spot! What the hell happened? Something went wrong in the system.” (Or something along those lines.)
But this really applies to much bigger things, too. This was really a micro-scale example, but it does apply to everything. For instance, going to the gym at the same time every morning or, in business, having a set schedule.
In working for myself as you do, as well, if I don’t have a set schedule the whole day will pass by.
If you don’t have these Standard Operating Procedures in place you really do lose–you can lose your whole day, your whole week, even your whole life. (It sounds really dramatic, but it’s true.) Your whole life passes you by. Time never stops.
I’ve heard it said that’s it’s like being a machine. I was talking to a student one time and asked him why he never went out or talked to anyone. He explained that he didn’t really feel like it. I told him, “That’s bullshit! If you have a goal, so be more like a machine. Your emotions are going to fluctuate all the time, every day, right? But if you don’t go do what you’d set out to do, initially, your whole week’s going to pass by and you will not have achieved your week’s goals just because you ‘didn’t feel like it’. If you run your life like that, as well–“
Darren: [34:08] [interrupts] Yeah, I don’t not go to work. Right? “Oh, I didn’t feel like going to work!” That’s how some people run their lives, but you can’t run a business like that! What’d that feel like? They’d say, “So, screw my customers; I don’t feel like going in and opening shop today.” (Your business is not going to last that long.) That’s how people are running their lives, too.
Eddy: Totally true.
One [what?] I saw out here that I really liked–(I think it was by a job coach) read, “You have to treat your job like a blue-collar job. If you’re a trucker, it doesn’t matter if you don’t feel like it or your emotions weren’t in the right place–you didn’t have any enthusiasm. You’d still get up at the same time in the morning and go to your truck and you’d drive the route, regardless of what emotions you had that day.”
On that note, I’ll bring this interview to an end. Thank you, very much, Darren. That was an awesome interview. I think there were a lot of practical tips in there.
If people want to contact you for coaching or advice or anything else, where should they go?
Darren: [35:17] My Web site is Tao of DJ Fuji. That’s “T-A-O-O-F-D-J-F-U-J-I”. They can just Google “DJ Fuji”, too; it comes up there. (That’s my coaching site, primarily.) There’s a blog and a bunch of stuff.
For guys, I’m kind of interested in the personal development and, also, the dating side of things. My Facebook is www.facebook.com/djfuji; I post pretty regularly about things you can use. Pro-tips on dating and personal development and stuff like that. That’s a good way to stay in touch; also, to see the stuff I’m working on right now.
Eddy: Yes; you have your Monday Q&As. You’re very responsive to the people who post and contact you, as well, which is cool. I know a lot of people out there in the industry who are not very responsive to people when they get messages and you are, which is cool. You always seem to be on top of those things. (And there’s a lot of great advice.)
I would recommend to everyone to go check us out on blog because he has a lot of really good content.
Thanks, a lot, for coming on, again, Darren.
Darren: [36:17] Thanks, man. I appreciate it. Good to be here.
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I'm the founder of Conquer & Win, and since 2011 I've been helping guys get into great relationships, build their core values as men, and become confident. I'm published on Lifehack, Order of Man, POF, Psychcentral and many more. I want to help you become a better man and live to your full potential. Feel free to contact me here.
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