Ari Meisel, Founder, Less Doing
Entrepreneurs find inspiration in all sorts of places. But for Ari Meisel, founder, bestselling author, and productivity expert, desperation was the driving force behind the launch of his successful company, Less Doing. That same desperation led him to breakthroughs in productivity that changed his life.
At just 23 years old, Meisel was enjoying a thriving real estate career, but after suffering some major business blows and landing $3 million in debt, the stress overwhelmed him and he was diagnosed with debilitating Crohn’s disease. Managing the disease crippled Meisel’s ability to work regularly. Some days he was unable to work longer than an hour.
During this difficult experience, Meisel realized he needed to devise a way to accomplish more work in the limited time he had. Through a long process of experimentation, Ari developed his Less Doing, More Living productivity system, which allowed him the time he needed both to build a new business and improve his health.
A devoted husband, father of five, and dedicated businessman, Meisel now helps individuals and businesses around the world become more effective—all while working only 5 ½ hours a day. He’s also recently teamed up with Foundr to teach his Less Doing, More Living system to our awesome community.
In this inspiring interview, learn the secrets behind Meisel’s airtight productivity system and discover how you can also become a productivity master and optimize, automate, and outsource your life and business.
- Ari’s 15-minute outsourcing rule that frees you up to focus on growing your business
- How saying no to new opportunities can grow your business more than saying yes
- The power of using machine learning to slash your work time and automate systems
- Why working more hours does not always translate into getting more work done
Full Transcript of Podcast with Ari Meisel
Nathan: All right. Well, first of all, welcome back for a second time around on the podcast, man. I interviewed you, what, in the early days of starting Foundr, I think, back in 2014. So couldn’t even tell, four years now, man. Long time.Ari: Ancient history.
Nathan: Yeah. So, the reason that I wanted to get you back is a few things. One, because we’ve recently started doing something I’m really excited about, is essentially inviting people back that we’ve interviewed, and you know, showcased their story, and got them to share experiences, but going a level deeper, and getting them to teach, and to, you know, package up, and teach courses that are really intimate deeper level. And, you know, you launched an amazing course with us called “Productivity Machine.” I was just sharing some killer testimonials that we’re going to collect of people just loving it. And, yeah, I wanted to invite you back, man, because I wanna know more about your story, and I just think it’s a great way to really…for our audience to understand you and your work a little more.
Ari: Yeah. I mean, it’s an honor to be back, and an honor to be involved in the new platform.
Nathan: Yeah. Thank you, man. Yeah. No. Honor is all ours, dude. Killer course, productivitymachine.co. Make sure you guys go check it out. Just go to productivitymachine.co. But first of all, the first question I ask everyone that comes on is just for our audience that haven’t heard our first interview we did a while ago, you know, in the early days. How did you get your job, man? Can you tell us more about how you found yourself doing the work you’re doing today?
Ari: My job, yeah. Funny. I haven’t had a job in a long time. So, I went to school for real estate. I went to the University of Pennsylvania, to the Wharton School of Business, and I graduated a year early with majors in Real Estate and Entrepreneurship, and minors in Art History and Psychology, which is, you know, obviously, a weird mix. But that was the course load that I took in order to finish early because I wanted to get back to work kind of.
So, I went to visit a friend in upstate New York. And while I was there, he showed me these old buildings from 1860s that were these beautiful old cigar warehouses. And I had this vision that I could create, basically, a loft condominium development there. I was 20 years old. And I made an offer to buy the buildings that day. They were very cheap. And I started on the road of building what would end up being a $3 million real estate project in this city.
The deal, though, was that anybody that worked on the job had to teach me their trade. I spent the next three years learning and doing every construction trade imaginable. I was working my butt off. I learned a crash course in project management, building a team, legal stuff, zoning, everything about real estate, politics, speaking on camera, everything you can, like, think of.
And at the end of three years, when I was 23 years old, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. I just wrecked my body and my health, and I was in $3 million of debt, and the stress was pretty overwhelming. And I hit a pretty low point for myself at that time. And through a long process of self-tracking, self-experimentation, I was able to overcome the illness, which is…it’s considered to be an incurable illness. And I am medicine-free and pain-free now for the last, I guess, six or seven years. And a big part of that was recognizing that stress was a big element in what was affecting my illness. And my approach to mediating that was to create a new system of productivity, which at the time, I called, “Less Doing,” as in, “Less Doing, More Living.”
And so, since then, I’ve been teaching, and hacking, and figuring out new ways of getting more done with less time and resources, and helping people optimize, automate, and outsource everything in their lives and their businesses. And now, I speak. I do consulting and coaching, and I work with individuals and businesses all over the world to help them be more effective.
Nathan: Yeah. Wow. That’s an amazing story, man. Like, you know, I’ll never forget. Like, when I first heard of you and your work, I was just like, “Wow. This guy sounds like a series boss.” I’m curious. I’d love to go a little deeper on what your lifestyle looks like today. Like, are you really only working a few hours a day? How does that work, man?
Ari: So, yeah. Here’s the thing about… Well, okay. So, first of all, I have four small children now. I have five actually. My oldest son, Ben, is gonna be six years old tomorrow. I have twin four-year-old boys, and then I have a nearly two-year-old girl. So, we have four very young kids. We have a very crazy household. We have a dog and two cats. And my wife is staying at home. I work sometimes from home, sometimes from co-working space. And generally speaking, because I take the kids to school every morning and I pick them up every afternoon, I basically work while they’re at school.
So, right now, that looks like, roughly, 9 to 2:30 most days. We’re doing this interview at night right now. It’s unusual for me to be doing that actually, which has been great. So, essentially, I pick up the kids, and I stop doing work. And then, usually, 8:00 at night, I’ll sort of re-catch up on some things, answer some questions from my team for maybe 20 minutes to half an hour. And then that’s it.
So, the thing that I want people to realize is it’s really…I always try to make this differentiation. I probably could grow my business faster, and make more money if I put in some more hours. Although I’m not even entirely convinced that that’s true because I…as human beings, work tends to fill the space allotted to complete it. It’s known as Parkinson’s Law. So, in most cases, you give somebody an hour to do something, it’ll take them an hour. If you give them a half an hour to do the exact same thing, they’ll probably get it done. And if you give them two hours, they’ll probably get it done in an hour and 59 minutes. Like, it’s just the way that we work.
So, I essentially compartmentalize my life that way, and that’s how I work. I love what I do.
Nathan: Yeah. Wow. That’s interesting, man. So, I’m gonna ask you a challenging question. Please be honest. What are your thoughts on, like, you know, some of these founders that I’ve spoken to that were featured, that have built, like, ridiculous businesses like $100 million plus, you know, annual revenue or $1 billion plus businesses that say you have to work 80 hours a week if you wanna build something of that size? What are your thoughts?
Ari: If you wanna build something of that size, you probably do have to work that hard. Not even that hard. I’m sorry. That many hours. However, I can tell you that I’ve worked with people who have made over $100 million. Look. Taking of extreme examples, someone like Richard Branson, right, who’s a billionaire, and purportedly does about 45 minutes of work per week, you know. And that’s basically…
Ari: …talking to… Yeah. That’s just, like, talking to his, you know, second and third in command or whatever, and sort of answering any questions. But the rest of the time, he’s pretty much networking, and talking to people, and ideating and coming up with cool things to do.
So, there’s lots of examples of people like that, who… Actually, if you look at…it’s called the Billionaire’s Code, which this guys, Alex Charfen, talks about a lot, where once you get to the $100 million point, you are, like, a true…not, like, people who are not at that point or not. But you’re, like, a pure entrepreneur at that point, essentially. And what you really should be doing is just creating new challenges, and motivating people, and having ideas. And the team sort of tells you what you with your time at that point because they know what they need more than you do.
So, yeah. I think that to build a $1 billion company, you probably need to be living in your office right now. But I, personally, don’t have any aspirations of owning a $1 billion company. It wouldn’t change my life. You know, I’ve been very fortunate that we have a family of six, we have two homes, we drive a Honda minivan that I lease, that I like, you know. A lot more money would not change our lives significantly. So, it’s really freeing in a lot of ways. And my company right now, Less Doing, is, by design, built not to scale. I have a team of seven people. I don’t expect the team to get any bigger than that. We have some really clear pathways and plans to make this a eight-figure business, but I don’t need to be a nine-figure business.
Nathan: Yeah. No. Man, I appreciate the raw honesty, dude. That’s what I love about you, man. That was a great answer, dude. I didn’t know about the Richard Branson one. That’s incredible. So, talk to us about your framework. Like, even building an eight-figure business is like a…how do you say this? No small feat, right? And working, you know, like, five-, six-hour days. So, tell us. Like, how do you get leverage?
Ari: Yeah. So, one of the things is that I’m a big proponent of outsourcing in general, but the whole framework of Less Doing is optimize, automate, outsource. So, that means that we have to optimize first, which is what we’re looking at in the process that we might be going through, and seeing how it’s inherently inefficient. A really basic example of that is that most…like, whether you’re talking about paying your bill or posting on social media or onboarding a new client, most people don’t have well-documented processes. And if they do, they’re usually outdated. They have holes in them. They have redundancies. And the best way to find that out is if you can tell somebody else to do a process in your business, somebody who has no experience with it or any training, and they can do it, that’s great.
We never see that happen unless they go through a process that we sort of created or I created, I guess. Most of the time, that person will find three or four mistakes within the first three or four steps. And that’s something that you can fix.
So, we started inherently with optimization. The second part is automation. And when I started this business six years ago, you can automate all sorts of really cool stuff, but now, it’s mind-boggling the kind of things that we can automate. And when I say automate, I’m talking about everything from setting up sort of a basic trigger, an action, you know, sort of this thing happens here, then do this over here. So, if somebody buys something from me using strength, then automatically add them to a mailing list. Like, that doesn’t seem like a big deal to some people, but as a company scales, you might be doing that dozens or hundreds of times a day if you’re lucky. Sorry. Don’t mind the dog in the background.
Or hundreds of times a day. And it’s not so much that we’re trying to save money with an automation. Although that does, it’s also not so much that we’re trying to scale, which it does. An automation will help you reduce errors, which is a really big thing, especially, you know, as the business scales. Once you’ve optimized and automated, in that order, that’s the first time you should be looking at outsourcing. And so, a lot of times, people don’t even get to the outsourcing step.
Now, that’s a roundabout way of answering your question, but generally speaking, for me, I got, essentially, a 15-minute limit. Meaning, that if something takes me more than 15 minutes to do it, I will, 9 times out of 10, be like, “Okay, I’m done. I’m gonna give this off to somebody else.” And fortunately, I’ve surrounded myself with a team of seven people that are just absolute rock stars in what they do, and I can do that with them without too much explanation.
So, what that also forces me to do is I’m basically focusing the most of my efforts and time on the things that I do best. And to me, what I think I do best is connect the dots. I know that sounds a little bit vague, but one of my unique abilities is that I really can curate and create content that can solve problems in unique ways. So, I just have a weird brain that way. If somebody tells me, like, “Oh, I wish there was a way to do this in my business,” or this system or something, I can usually connect some app that I heard about a year ago with a research study that I read about two weeks ago, and something I heard on a podcast, and come up with a duct tape solution that fixes the problem.
So, anything that doesn’t do that, that doesn’t produce unique content that really helps people is something I shouldn’t really be spending much time on. And that’s the litmus test for me.
Nathan: Interesting. So, what I really… Oh, man. I’m really, really curious. Like, when you were going through that stage of you diagnosed with Crohn’s, and you know, you said it was heavily linked to stress, and you were working too hard and overworked, how long did it take to work out what…like, how long did it take to work out this stuff around how to be more effective and, like… Because that’s, like, kind of the magic, right? Like, to work out a system.
Ari: Yeah. So, the initial system of Less Doing had nine fundamentals to it from the 80/20 rule to creating, choosing your own work week, organization. It wrapped up with wellness, which had a biohacking component to it because I felt like no matter how efficient you got, if you weren’t sleeping well or you’re too stressed like I was, then there’s a limit.
So, there are nine fundamentals. I think that it probably took me, I wanna say, six to seven months maybe to come up with all of the nine fundamentals. I mean, I very, like, precociously wanted to write a book within, like, two months of starting to write my blog. And it ended up happening about a year after that, once I really developed the system.
And what I did also was there was a company that launched at the time called Skillshare, which was…I can’t remember when this was, actually. It was probably six years ago. And the value part was basically, like, anybody can teach anything to anyone. They provided a platform. So, if you wanted to teach something, you posted it up on the class. They would, you know, take the tickets and stuff for you, and the sales, and then you’d show up and teach wherever you wanted. So, I thought, “You know what? I’ve got some really cool content. Let’s see what people think about it.”
So, I put something on Skillshare, and decided to teach this class on…it wasn’t even the system of Less Doing. I just basically showed the people, like, 20 really cool apps, and got really good response. And then I did it again the week later, and I refined it. And a week later, I refined it. And then I put that back into the content, and after teaching that class four or five times, I kinda really rounded out the content. And then it became one of the most popular classes in Skillshare’s New York sort of catalogue. The feedback loop was really important, basically.
Nathan: And during the time that you were sick, and you couldn’t really work that much, how did you work that part out, like, to keep the business going and all that side of things?
Ari: Well, so, the real low point for me sort of coincided with finishing a project in upstate New York. So, at that point, I was really focused on selling it, and I had a broker up there that was kinda doing a lot of that for me. So, I was actually able to take a little bit of a step back from it, but I did, of course, still need to keep working and still running the business.
I didn’t have a choice. I mean, I literally didn’t have the energy to do more than an hour of work a day in some cases. So, it’s been a really interesting sort of test for me with people. And I use that with clients, and I wanna ask them, like, “What would you do if you can only work an hour a day?” And a lot of times, the answer is that you have to say no to a lot of things, which is the first time that I’d ever experienced that because especially as, like, a hard-charging young entrepreneur, right, you just say yes to everything. Yes to every interview, every meeting, every request of any kind. Just say yes, and then that’s how you get spread really thin.
There’s an entrepreneur named…well, entrepreneur…super entrepreneur, Dean Graziosi, who says that, “Yes got you to where you are, but no will get you to where you’re going.” So, the idea of cutting out, you know, the idea of subtracting in order to add, and dividing in order to multiply, was a really important lesson for me.
Nathan: Yeah. How do you know when to say no, though, because there’s, like, so many crazy, awesome opportunities, as your business grows, as you grow?
Ari: Yeah. I think the part of that is getting really clear on your vision and what serves that vision, which, honestly, is very difficult to do as a young entrepreneur. I don’t mean young in terms of age. It’s usually, like, young in terms of the company. It takes some time. I don’t think I’ve ever met a founder who started a company, and on day one, they knew exactly what the vision for that company was. It’s great if they might have one, but it’s probably not the one that they end up with. You know, you look at the idea that entrepreneurs never fail, they just pivot, right? I mean, even… You may know this, but a lot of your listeners probably don’t, that Stewart Butterfield, who is the founder of Slack, created Flickr.
Ari: Stewart Butterfield, who is the founder of Slack, created Flickr, the photo sharing site. And Flickr was a component of a video game that his first company was creating.
Ari: It was a video game company that was failing, and there was this photo sharing element in the game, which they turned into an app. I mean, you know, Flickr is huge, obviously. And then they started Slack, which also came out of a video game company. So, you know, all that to say is, like, the vision when you start out for the company is usually bound to change.
Nathan: How do you know when to say no?
Ari: Oh, yeah. Yeah, right. Of course. So, once you do get that clarity, then if it’s not serving that vision, and you can’t serve that request, per se, as best as possible, then you have to say no. And it’s very hard to do. I admit that. It’s very, very hard to do, but it gets easier and easier once you feel…once you recognize what you do best, and really build up confidence in that.
So, for me, I’m not gonna do something unless it’s really going to allow me to create great content. So, that, for me, is pretty much the easiest way to say it. Like, “Will this allow me to create great content?” Obviously, this interview that we’re doing is allowing me to create great content as was doing the course together, you know. But that makes it really easy for me to say yes or no to things.
Nathan: I see. And, like, tell us about your vision now because you talked to me before you have a lot of clarity at the moment.
Ari: Yeah. So, there’s sort of two sides of the business, although there are really related now. I do speaking and coaching, which is one side, I would say. And then the other side is business consulting.
And so, currently, we have a really great free community that’s on Slack and Facebook. We’ve got 1,200 people that are just productivity junkies. And then we have a course. It’s a 10-week coaching course that people can go through to…I guess the most general way to say it is that we’ll help six-figure entrepreneurs get to be seven-figure entrepreneurs by helping them remove obstacles in what they’re doing. And then I have a mastermind program above that, and then you could say that that’s for the seven-figure entrepreneurs who want to become eight-figure entrepreneurs. And then once they’re eight-figure entrepreneurs, we have business consulting, because at that point, we wanna be working on the whole organization. And so, those are sort of the four tiers of what we do. It’s a very clear pathway from one to the next, and at any stage of that business’ life cycle, I am able to accelerate the results.
Nathan: I see. So, you actually look at businesses, obviously, at, like, a one-on-one consulting basis, and help optimize, automate, and outsource processes or kind of key fundamentals that makes that business tick.
Ari: Yeah, exactly. Processes is something that I’m particularly keen at. It’s one of those things where… It’s like my beautiful mind sort of moment when I get to see really good process, and I can just sort of see how things sort of fit together. I mean I have some up on my screen right now that clients have sent me to just review. And they’re just things that pop out at me of how we can improve them, how we can automate them, making them more scalable, making them more error proof, and making it so the founder doesn’t have to do them.
Nathan: Yeah. Wow. That’s amazing, man. Because one thing that I’m starting to recognize is there’s some core, you know…I’d say there’s probably about 10 core things in…I’m talking about in Foundr, but I think it’s quite common in most businesses. There’s about 10 core things or, you know, 10-20 core things that make a business tick and make it run, that drive value, right? So, is that kind of what you look at, those 10-20 core things that makes that business a value-generating machine, and you come in and optimize that with that system?
Ari: Yeah, exactly. And a lot of times, the businesses know where the challenges are. Like, hiring is one that comes up really often. There are so many different options for, like, hiring systems and hiring management systems. I built an automated hiring process for the outsourcing company I was running previously, to hire 183 people in 16 months, and it was…
Ari: Yeah. I built it with Trello, and Zapier, and Wufoo, and a couple other services that I just kinda stuck together. And it was, like, 90% automated, which made it really scalable and really consistent. So, hiring is one that comes up quite a bit. Customer onboarding is another one, too. I mean, something so simple… I’m looking at this one right now. We see customer onboarding a lot, or customer journey, I guess, you could say. And this client has a process whereby on the 30th day of this client’s journey with them, they get a t-shirt. And right now, there’s basically…the person who’s doing it is essentially, like, setting a reminder in their calendar. And then that day, they go in and put it in the mail, and they send it, you know. And there’s a much better way to do that, that doesn’t require anybody being involved in it. And it doesn’t require one person.
So, I guess one of the ways to sum this up is that I’m always looking at how we can make people replaceable. And even as a founder of a company, you’re not actuall gonna replace yourself, but you wanna be replaceable because if you’re not replaceable, you’re a liability to your company. And I talk about this in the Productivity Machine that you mentioned before, but it’s a really important thing for people to understand that there’s two sides to this coin, too. If you take the stance that, like, you have to do something yourself because you’re the only one who can do it, then the truth is that you’re actually removing accountability because if you’re only accountable to yourself, then you’re really not accountable to anybody, which is a problem.
And then the second thing is that if you…you know, the proverbial getting hit by a bus, what happens tomorrow? Or what happens if someone in accounting decides that they don’t wanna work for you anymore? Or somebody gets pregnant, or somebody has a bad day, or somebody has the flu, we need to have things in place so that business can go on.
Nathan: Yeah, I agree. I often think about this as well, because especially if what you’re building, you wanna build a legacy or you wanna build something bigger than yourself, I think that’s really important, and I think why it’s a good example when I think of this as well. Because something I think about a lot is, like, you know, Steve Jobs, he had…after he was said and done, you know, people can argue that Apple isn’t as good since Steve Jobs is around for the leadership and vision side. But still, that’s one of the most, you know, profitable, effective companies in the world, and he’s not there anymore to drive it. He’s built this value-generating machine that is sufficient without him.
Ari: Yeah, exactly. And the other thing about that, too, is non-attachment, which is kind of more…I mean, it’s kind of a Buddhist concept, really. But I built up this outsourcing company for over two years, and put my blood, sweat, and tears into it, and three months ago, walked away from it, and had to ask my partner to buy me out. And haven’t regretted a second of it because I built it, and I moved on. A lot of people were like, you know, “You spent just two years. How can you just walk away from them?” Like, because I get it. I built it. And now, I’m building something else, you know. The thing is that being able to not be, like, flakey, but essentially being able to not be attached to it in terms of your identity, there’s a two-way street to that.
When somebody basically assigns their own value to the work that they do, that’s the same thing as saying that they’re the only ones that can do it, and again, creating a bottleneck.
Nathan: Yeah. You got me thinking, man. In your kind of roadmap of projects, surely, you’ve got something around along the lines of doing some sort of SaaS product that helps with producing great systems or SOPs. Is that something in the horizon?
Ari: You know, I’ve thought about it. I’m not a software developer. I’m sure that there is a place to do it. I mean, there’s tools like Process Street and Pipefy out there that, like, you create processes and whatnot. But, yeah, as far as I know, there’s not one that will improve the process itself. So, maybe we should talk about that.
Nathan: Yeah. Okay. Interesting. Yeah. I reckon… Man, all right. Okay. So, talk to me about these combos. Like, I like to think of them as combos. Like, you know, you did this really cool one in Productivity Machine around automating your PR outreach. And I know that you must have in your…as you talked about, like, that beautiful mind process. Like, what are some of your favorite combos of, like, mixing and matching software, a little bit of human element or almost fully automating something? You just talked about one then where you basically automated hiring people 90%. Like, what are some of your favorites, man, that just make your life so much easier?
Ari: So, the podcast production process was a really, really big one. That was the first, like, Rube Goldberg-esque kind of process that I ever put together, where there was, like, 15 different pieces that went into sort of, like, domino effected into each other. So, that made it that I went from spending, like, 15 hours on a podcast episode to spending half an hour, essentially.
So, the latest one which you referred to is this one with the PR outreach. And that one, actually, is artificial intelligence machine learning. So, that’s, like, a whole new level for me, which has been mind-blowing because it opens up… With my, like, obsession with making founders and everybody replaceable, if you can add artificial intelligence of the mix, you’re really getting close.
And so, with…there’s a tool called MonkeyLearn that will let you basically categorize text with machine learning. So, you can say, like, this is… The best way that I can explain machine learning to people who don’t know what it is, is you can…I can show you, Nathan, a human being…I could show you a picture of a Cadillac, and say, “Nathan, where’s this car from?” And you would probably be able to say…
Nathan: Oh, man. You got me, dude. I’m not very good with cars.
Ari: A Cadillac? Come on.
Nathan: I’m sorry, bro.
Ari: Like, that quintessential American car. Okay.
Nathan: Sorry, mate. You got me. Like, you made me look like a fool here.
Ari: Why? How about Ferrari? Where’s Ferrari from?
Nathan: I’m assuming Italy.
Ari: Okay, yes. Good. Thank you. So, all right. Better one then. If I showed you an apple, you would know that it was an apple because you just know what apples look like, right?
Ari: But you couldn’t explain to somebody why it’s an apple. You can, you know, define it, essentially. Whereas with the machine learning, you can say, “Here’s a picture of an apple. Here’s a picture of an orange. Here’s another picture of an apple, another picture of an orange.” And eventually, you can just show it the picture, and it will be, like, “Yeah. That’s an orange,” because it has essentially reverse engineered what makes it that.
So, I have this idea that I could take press inquiries for, you know, reporters who are looking for sources, and run it through that. And I could categorize them as interesting and not interesting. And after doing, I think, 68 samples, it was 87% accurate in computing the way that I pick.
So, the fascinating thing about that is that a lot of, I would say…maybe not actually founders in general, but a lot of people have the skill set that they…or they feel like they have the skill set that they can “pick a winner,” you know, so, whether that’s picking a horse in a race, or picking an artist to be represented in a gallery, or picking a manuscript to make a movie out of. You know, there’s people who are just, like, they know it when they see it. That’s the key. You know it when you see it, but you can never explain it.
Ari: So, you take artificial intelligence or machine learning, and you show it that stuff, and it turns out that you’re not as unique as you think. And there is a algorithm that can sort of almost match what you do. You know, it’s not gonna be perfect, but I’ll be near perfect.
So, I took that even further. And one of the things that I do every day is I look at producthunt.com, and I look at what some of the new startups are. And there’s usually 20 or 30 things in a day, and usually, there’s 1 or 2 that, I think, are interesting out of that batch that I wanna share with my, you know, people. And I tried seeing if I could show this to MonkeyLearn, and be, like, “This one’s interesting. This one’s not. This one is. This one isn’t.” And after doing that for several samples, it’s now 96% accurate in picking the way that I would pick.
And that’s several hours of my life that I just don’t have to do anymore, and that will just keep running and never think about again. So, those things were really blowing my mind.
Nathan: Yeah. Wow. So, all the stuff that I think I’m really good at, or anyone thinks they’re really good at, like, I think I’m pretty good at marketing or branding, saying, MonkeyLearn can learn it.
Ari: To some extent, yeah.
Nathan: Wow. That’s scary, man.
Ari: It’s also awesome.
Nathan: Yeah. Wow. So, tell me another combo that’s like… Like, you talk about the podcast one, but you know, for the podcast, like, that one seems kinda easy on my end, to be honest.
Ari: Yeah. Okay. So, the hiring process was another one that you mentioned, which is a pretty important one, I would say. This customer journey one is something that’s…currently what’s fascinating me the most because there’s so much research around what you should and shouldn’t do in terms of, like, you know, turning customer into fans and all that kinda stuff. And Joey Coleman, who’s a friend, has the whole First 100 Days thing, and how most businesses lose most of their clients in the first 100 days. And if you solidify them in their first 100 days, they can become a customer for life. So, there’s just things like a personal phone call, or a personal video, or a gift, or a text message, or postcard, all of which can be automated and still, you know, give the perception of true, genuine action, which is fine because you really do wanna do these things, but again, at scale.
To me, when I’m talking about scaling something, it really is not about, like, how can we turn, you know, $100,000 into a million? That won’t probably happen. To me, it’s more like, how can we do this and keep doing this more and faster without breaking things, and without hiring a new person, and without stressing out our team, and just letting it run on the background?
Nathan: Yeah. I see. Okay. So, I’m curious as well. Like, in terms of customer onboarding, or you know, when someone comes into your world right now, what sort of crazy stuff do you have going on, or might be considered quite complicated, but it’s really effective that you can kinda set and forget?
Ari: So, that customer journey thing is a big part of it for me right now because we have this mastermind program that is really high-touch, and I really get to know the people that I’m working with. So, that’s a big one.
A lot of the stuff for me is personal related because I have the family stuff…or the family stuff. I mean, I have a family with four kids. Anything that we can sort of automate out of our lives is really helpful. So, a lot of things I’m gonna do with shopping and home stuff, and repair and maintenance, and bill paying, and just, like, all these things that a lot of people sort of do their job, and then they come home, and then they spend the next two hours, like, managing their home. I don’t wanna have to be doing any of that stuff, nor do I want my wife to be doing that stuff. And we don’t have… You know, that we have four kids. We don’t have a nanny. We have someone help us… Sorry. Someone comes and cleans once a week, and otherwise, my wife’s doing it.
So, we really manage this stuff very well without having to have, like, a staff. We don’t live in a palace where we have, you know, people taking care of the whole thing for us.
Nathan: Yeah. No. That makes sense. I guess where I’m kind of trying to go deeper is I love…what I love hearing is the breakdown of this does this, and this does this with this tool or .
Ari: Oh, you really want the details?
Nathan: That’s what I love, man. That’s what I think find really interesting as well because it really opens up your mind to just technology, and how simple some of this stuff can be, but how much leverage you can get for your time using your systems, bro.
Ari: Yeah. Sure. Okay. So, you know, I never know how geeky I can get with…you know, when I’m talking about this stuff. So, all right.
Well, so, one of the things is that we have a lot of stuff here on content management, and… So, that’s a big one. So, in our team, we’re using Airtable right now, and Airtable is… So, when I was running this outsourcing company, we were Trello’s biggest user at one point out of their 20 million users, which was really cool. So, I love Trello. It’s a fantastic project management tool and organization tool, if you’re not familiar. But now, I’m really big into Airtable. And Airtable is, like, a database that looks like a spreadsheet, but could also look like Trello. It’s kinda magical and a little bit hard to explain. But we run the business off of Airtable. So, our pipeline, our sales pipeline is in there. All of our internal task management and our content calendar as well.
So, we have a content calendar. I have a physical printout on my wall right here that I’m looking at. We have the entire year planned out already, which goes back to what you were asking me about how I can say yes or no to certain things. It’s really easy to look up and say, “That doesn’t work.” And that’s just the way it is because I know exactly… Like, I can tell you right now that on September…where is it? Actually, sorry. November 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, I’m gonna be at an event in Phoenix. And on the 1st, we’re gonna write a newsletter to our email list about that, having to do with automation.
So, like, I know every newsletter, video drip, blog post, podcast, event, everything, webinar. Everything that we’re doing is all on that calendar. And so, it makes it really easy to make decisions about what I can and can’t do. So, that’s the physical version. Now, that’s all in Airtable, and we actually can…based on the date that is on the post, we can have Zapier take that information and post it to social media when the time comes. So, we can actually plan out all this content in advance, and know when it’s gonna go up, what it’s gonna be, and not have to worry about it or think about it again, literally, the entire year. So, we had that done a few weeks ago, where we were able to sit down and figure that all out, and knowing what our themes are and stuff. So, that’s based on Zapier, which is sort of the glue that binds all these different tools together.
And then from Airtable as well… So, like, if I record a video that we’re gonna post, I put that into a folder on my computer, which syncs with Google Drive, which uploads it. And then Zapier sees that, and automatically creates a new task for Russell on our team, who manages all media, to then process that, and put it into the right place it’s gonna go, whether it’s a podcast or a video drip or whatever it has to be. So, those are some of the examples.
Nathan: Yeah. Wow. Man, it’s crazy. Yeah. I love that stuff, dude. I really want people to get a feeling and understanding of the kind of things that are possible, right?
Ari: Well, that’s a pretty basic one, honestly, I have to say. I created a… I think it’s fairly unique. So, a lot of people have drip sequences with email, and we certainly do, and I know you guys do. But we did one with Slack. So, essentially created a 365-day drip sequence in Slack that the new people who joined the Slack community got a message every single day with a different sort of action or video or something that they should do or look at. Really sort of taking them through that journey, and that was all done through Zapier because Zapier has something called a Multi-Step Zap. I’m pretty sure I created the largest Multi-Step Zap that they’ve ever seen because to do a 365-day Multi-Step Zap, you actually have to do 730 steps in that Zap because there has to be a delay between each one. So, I thought that was pretty cool.
Nathan: Yeah. Wow. That’s crazy. And for everyone that doesn’t know what Zapier is, or Zapier, it’s kind of a tool that connects, it’s like glue that connects other pieces of software together. We use it quite a bit as well at Foundr. Killer tool. It sounds like it’s one of your cores, right, that you use to do a lot of the things that you’re doing. Because this is the problem, right? There’s so many different SaaS tools out there, right? But they can’t do everything. So, I don’t know about you, Ari, but we pay for about 50 different SaaS tools at Foundr, which is crazy. But it doesn’t cost that much. It’s, like, $30-$40 each one per month. But, yeah, there’s a real need for connecting them together, and getting them to talk to each other.
Ari: Yeah, exactly. So, Zapier is kinda, like, the glue or the duct tape often times. Another tool that we’re really big on is Intercom. So, Intercom is essentially like a shared inbox that your team can use. So, anytime somebody emails the sort of general mailbox for the company, or they send a text message, or they Facebook message on our business page, or live chat on our website, it all comes into the same place, into Intercom. And any one of us on the team, of the eight people, can answer that. We can share with each other, but then we can also tag people, and have automation on that. So, if we tag somebody…like, if you’re having a conversation with somebody on live chat on the website, and they say that they’re interested in our mastermind program, we can tag them that way, and then that will add them to a special list in convert kit, which will then start sending them an email thing about that. And it’s all just very seamless.
So, yeah. Fifty is a good number. We probably use about 12 different tools. I really try to limit it as much as possible. But, yeah, Intercom is a really big one, and we can automate so much stuff off that. The really cool thing about Intercom, too, is that it can integrate with Stripe, so we can see anybody that we’re talking to in their profile if they actually have an account with us, and how long they’ve had it. And then we can actually create a whole automated sequence based off that. So, somebody has been to our website three times, and they signed up for sort of our basic level, and we haven’t seen them in two weeks, and I’m just making this thing up. Then we can send them a targeted message based on that just by meeting that criteria.
If somebody comes to the website, and their computer language is detected as German, we can have a popup that says, “Hey, you know, by the way, we speak German,” if we did. So, it’s a really cool tool.
Nathan: Yeah, interesting. One thing we wanna be careful of because we’re getting pretty technical and geeky on this stuff…I love this stuff, too, man. I’m pretty big on tools. You’re the biggest master I know, but…or that I’ve seen. But we wanna make sure also that this isn’t intimidating for people. Like, what are your thoughts, or what would you like to share that it doesn’t have to be a scary thing having to learn a new tool or…you know what I mean?
Ari: Yeah, of course. So, I say that all the time. So, there’s a tool called IFTTT, which stands for If This, Then That. And I would call that, like, the decaf version of Zapier, right. It’s free. It can do very simple, like, trigger action automations. And what I would say to people that kinda understand and get their feet wet, is go to that website. Go to IFTTT, and set up an account, and look at the services that are offered, that it connects with. This connects with about 500 services, everything from Twitter, to PayPal, to MailChimp, to all these kinds of SaaS tools that most of us end up using in our businesses. And all you have to do is take a look at one and say, like, “Oh, I use that. So, I use MailChimp. Great.” Click on it, and it’ll say, “Here’s the triggers, here’s the actions.” The triggers might be a new person who subscribes to your list. The action might be adding a new person to your list.
So, you just look at that, and look at the actions and say, like, “Oh, I do that on a regular basis. Well, now, I can automate it.” So, it’s really simple. It actually walks you through it. It says, “If something,” and you can choose what the trigger is, “Well, then, this.” And you choose what the action is. And you can see immediately the power of automation in a very simple way.
Nathan: Yeah. I agree. I remember before I got on Zapier, I started with IFTTT. And it’s free, too.
Ari: Yeah, totally free.
Nathan: Yeah. So, a great one to check out. It’s awesome. Well, look. Man, we have to work towards wrapping up. I could talk shop with you all day, but you’re on a tight schedule, too. So, a couple last questions that I had for you. One, I’d like to ask this. Can you have it all?
Ari: Do you want to?
Nathan: Doesn’t everyone?
Ari: I don’t know. I don’t know what all is. I mean, that sounds kind of, like, really anti-climactic to me. I’m a big believer in kaizen, so, the idea of constant improvement, right? So, I just want to improve myself in some way every day, and you know, be a better founder, a better leader, a better husband, a better father, a better friend. There’s always something that we can do more effectively, and we can also celebrate without settling.
So, I don’t know what having it all would look like. I feel like that would be kinda boring.
Nathan: Awesome. Love your response, man. Thank you. All right, last question. Where is the best place people can find out more about yourself and your work? Obviously, we’ve teamed up. We’re publishing a course with you. It’s called Productivity Machine. People can go to productivitymachine.co. But if people would like to know more about yourself, your Slack channel, everything else you got going on, where is the best place people should go?
Ari: So, everything is at lessdoing.com. They can find out about all the programs, the Less Doing Labs community, my “Less Doing” podcast, everything there. And the courses that we have, and all the books and everything, it’s all there at Less Doing. And then I’m on social media as @AriMeisel in most places.
Nathan: Awesome. Well, look. Thank you so much for your time, Ari. I really appreciate it. Thank you, again, for teaming up with us to do one of our first published courses. It’s absolutely killer. I’m getting your guys in the team to do it. Someone in the team has already done it, and they said it’s insane. Can’t thank you enough for wanting to work with us, and, yeah, coming back on and sharing a second time around. I really appreciate your time, man.
Ari: Thank you so much, Nathan. I’m really excited to see how people do with the course and what they’re able to accomplish.
Key Resources From Our Interview With Ari Meisel
- Learn more about Less Doing
- Follow Ari Meisel on Twitter
- Connect with Ari Meisel on Linkedin
- Check out Ari Meisel’s Books