In 2016, I attended film school in Santa Fe, NM. I was an avid listener of The Tim Ferris Show at the time. Tim wrote the breakout #1 New York Times Best Seller "The 4-Hour Work Week," which was considered the Bible of eCommerce entrepreneurship.
I was two years into Rook SEO (what would become Rook Digital). I was taking overload credits chasing my BFA in Film - Story Development and spending the rest of my time deep into client services at my brand-new start-up. Things were hectic. There were months I struggled to pay my bills and wondered at times if any of it was worth it.
My entire life, I knew I wanted to be a screenwriter. I also found myself surrounded by people who loved me, letting me know I would never make it. "Writers don't make money!" they would exclaim. "You'll need two jobs to make it as a writer!" someone else would squawk in my ear. Very few people supported my dream. But, in my soul, since that first creative writing class I took in 5th grade, I knew that I wanted to be a writer.
Having a love of entrepreneurship and business from an equally young age, I recognized I had an opportunity to set myself up for success to pursue my dreams. In 2010 while attending the Sundance Film Festival as a volunteer, I realized I needed a plan to make my dream come true.
Here's what I came up with:
- Get good at sales to provide income now.
- Generate Passive Income from eCommerce & Digital Marketing to pay for my writing.
- Move to Los Angeles and pursue my dreams.
I was 25 years old and already at a slow start in life, but I was determined to make it happen.
I quickly became the #1 Sales rep at the Digital Marketing/VOIP Phone company I was working at. That meant not writing for about six months and focusing my time, energy, and attention to learning how to sell. But I did it, making more money than I ever had.
My next step was passive income. I joined up with some friends and took over marketing for their online weight-loss supplement brand. We quickly outranked our distributor and partnered with them. Over the next year, we'd get to the point where we sold $69k in products every month online.
I remember that first check I cashed—$ 4,000. I remember going to the bank and asking for cash. They ran me through all kinds of security protocols to make sure a 26-year-old should be pulling that much money out of an account. But I passed their inspection, and they handed me an envelope with 40 crisp $100 bills. I'd never held that much money in my life.
It blew me away.
I still smile thinking about that experience, even though I've gone on to earn even more.
That was step two. Now it was time to consider the move to Los Angeles.
I got a scholarship through Robert Redford to go to Film School from volunteering at Sundance. I was writing again, and this free work was my way of being involved in the industry with my dear friend Mike Hall. We would go up each winter, watch movies, and I would sit by the fireplace and work on my screenplays.
At this point, my eCommerce website had imploded, and my relationships with my partners weren't working well. We decided to part ways, and attending Film School to learn the craft I adored seemed like the best next step.
That's how I got to New Mexico. And in 2016, as my third year in school (and just before graduating) came to a close, I remember stepping into the shower and turning on an episode of The Tim Ferriss show that I hadn't made it to. "The Scariest Navy Seal Alive... and What He Taught Me" was an interview with Jocko Willink.
I was hooked. The way Jocko spoke about ownership and discipline mesmerized me. I was planning a trip out to Utah, so I downloaded his book on Audible and put it on during the 10-hour drive through rural New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah.
I got to my friend's house, and I just drove around the block so I could finish the book. I was obsessed. These principles of ownership spoke to my soul.
I listened again on my drive back home.
I was changed.
Since then, I've been through Jocko & Leif's books multiple times, gone through their Online Leadership Academy, and taught my team about these principles (going as far as bonusing anyone on my team $50 just to read Extreme Ownership out of my own pocket).
Now, I live in Los Angeles. I work as an Associate Producer on the TruTV hit show Tacoma FD. I've had the opportunity to sit through three writer's rooms for the show and work in production and post-production as an assistant. I'm on the doorstep of becoming a professional writer, and Extreme Ownership has played a massive role in that process.
Because of my relationships on the show, I met Ben Duff from Echelon Front's team. He introduced me to Leif and the leadership team there. Over the last year, Rook Digital has been providing consulting, National SEO, Google Ads, and Facebook (Meta) Ads management in support of their mission.
Working with Echelon Front and Leif Babin has been a dream come true and something our team is excited about. We love and support their mission and absolutely want to help them succeed. We're fortunate to execute our services at the highest level, and we've helped Echelon Front expand its reach, drive more people to its live events and workshops, and sign up for its Online Leadership Academy.
If you're interested in learning more about how Extreme Ownership has impacted Rook Digital and me, listen to the podcast.
I'd encourage anyone who finds this post to sign up for Extreme Ownership Academy and apply those principles in their lives.
As Jocko says, "Discipline Equals Freedom." Your key to success starts with your ownership of everything in your life.