TERRY KYLE: Justin Brooke, thanks for joining me.
I really appreciate you giving up some time to talk about a big turning point in your life.
When we were corresponding about this [discussion], one of the things that is different with this [InflectionPoint.life] project is that we will focus, really deep-dive on that big turning point in your life, the emotional and psychological things that were going on then.
And if people are smart, that are listening or watching this as a video or podcast or reading as a transcript, if they think about what you talk about today, and copy or model where it’s relevant, that can really help them get unstuck, and hopefully push them towards a big turning point.
So Justin, if you can just start, for those who don’t know us or you, if you could just explain who you are, your current dealio and the big projects that you’re working on right now.
JUSTIN BROOKE: Sure, my name is Justin Brooke, I’m the founder of Adskills.com, we teach people how to have better ads, Google ads, Facebook ads, Twitter, all that stuff.
I have been online for about 14 years now, and done quite well for myself.
We’ve had plenty of ups and downs so when Terry contacted me about this, I was like, ‘oh I’ve got some stories!’
TERRY: I’ll bet! I think you’re underselling [yourself] there.
Justin is a legend in Web entrepreneurship and online marketing.
So you probably have a few big turning points Justin and we’ll try to cover some of them but you wrote to me about one specific turning point that you had, a really big mind shift for you.
Can you go into some background and context on where you were at before this big shift happened and we’ll get into the final triggers?
JUSTIN: Is this the one where I freaked out after making a million dollars?
TERRY: That’s the one.
JUSTIN: Alright, so where I was at before the moment…at this point in my career I was chasing this ‘thing’.
This ‘SEVEN FIGURES!’, because in [my] small circle of internet entrepreneurs, you chase these numbers.
And that’s where I was living, I was chasing the status.
I wanted to make sure my house looked right, my car looked right, my bank account needed to look how everybody told me it needed to look and it was.
I even had a physical office with big vinyl decals on the wall to look pretty on the YouTube videos.
I mean I was really chasing the image and in chasing the image, I lost my life.
I had no life.
I would wake up in the morning, grab something caffeinated, hit the computer and I would really only leave the computer for eating or bodily functions and then I would end the day, from the computer, right into bed.
TERRY: Where were you living at this time and roughly when was this about?
JUSTIN: This was 2015, midway through 2015.
I was living in South Florida, in a 6 bedroom house with 3 central AC units, if anybody understands that, that’s a lot of money, that’s a big electric bill.
We were doing it up in Florida, we were living the ‘guru life’, at least trying to.
TERRY: Any gator trouble in the back yard?
JUSTIN: No gators in the back yard.
Actually, gators are not the biggest thing to worry about in Florida.
We were more worried about the ants.
The ants are what will kill you, the gators you can see them coming.
TERRY: Cool, new fun fact. I did not know that.
So on the surface, you were living that ‘Rich Jerk’ dream, it all looked really fancy but for you as a person, it wasn’t so great.
JUSTIN: Yeah, I can literally remember the exact kitchen tile that I was standing on when I had this like ‘breakdown’, though I’ve never seen any body ever have a breakdown.
It was a moment of, ‘man, this has to change.’
I was standing there and I think I was pouting about something like I couldn’t go to the movies, something super trivial.
I’m standing there and [thinking], ‘wait a minute, I just passed the 7 figure line’ which is supposed to be this massive goal, I’ve won the game’ and ‘why am I still so broke, I can’t even go to the movies right now’ and ‘I gotta go back to work?’
[I thought] I don’t know what I’m doing wrong but it’s wrong.
TERRY: What kind of business model were you using then? Did you have clients or were you doing affiliate marketing?
JUSTIN: I had a bit of it all and that was probably part of the problem.
I would probably say, yes, that was the problem.
I had clients, I had digital products, I had consulting, webinars, speaking.
I was doing all the things that everybody wants [you] to do, and it was bad.
TERRY: How long were you stuck in that rut there in South Florida?
JUSTIN: I don’t know, I felt like I chased that from 2005 all the way to 2015.
It was the life I lived, it was everything.
TERRY: Were you married at this point with children?
JUSTIN: Yes, I was married, we had 2 kids.
And another thing I noticed because everything was running through my mind at that point.
I was like, wait, things are wrong, everything was wrong.
One of the things was, I was really tired of telling my son that ‘my business is almost automated’.
I was telling him this when he was 7 [years old] that my business was going to be automated soon and then we’d be able to hang out all the time, we’d do all these great things, we’d have all this money.
And then, he’s 14 [years old] and I’m still telling him the same thing!
Things had to change.
TERRY: When I talk to entrepreneurs, it always strikes me – these are newer guys – they just look at the business opportunity first and not how that will fit their natural personality.
You can do one of hundreds of things to have a successful business if you have the right mindset but it might be a business model that you completely hate, you hate the whole lifestyle of it.
For some people, for example, they have a digital agency with a bunch of clients, that’s totally not for me.
I used to be a writer in advertising and hated that lifestyle but for other people it might be completely fine.
I think what you’re talking about is getting that right alignment between your business model, your lifestyle and your personality is just so important.
JUSTIN: Yeah, the biggest thing we talk about in our family is ‘building a life’ not ‘building a business’, and that’s an important distinction for us.
TERRY: So you were stuck there and on the surface it looked good but you were miserable.
How did you get to this big jump because I think you went to Indonesia from there?
JUSTIN: On the outside it looked great, like ‘oh this guy, he made it with his business, now he’s selling everything, he’s going to go travel the world with his family’.
But now that I don’t really care so much what people think of me, I can tell you that I was just running away.
I didn’t know how to fix the problem, I just knew that everything I had was the problem.
JUSTIN: And I knew that if I went to Indonesia, the [US] money, the currency difference meant that if I was gonna fail, that was going to be the best place to fail.
I knew I could make a couple of thousand bucks [a month], no matter what and that’s enough to live really good over there.
So I pretty much just shed everything in my life and ran away.
We literally drove all the way over from Florida to San Diego, we took our time, it took us about 4 to 6 months, and then we hopped over to Japan and then Indonesia.
I was almost going to live there.
I went there for 4 weeks, loved it so much we stayed for 7 weeks.
After 7 weeks, I had a lot of [breakthroughs]…their culture really changed me a lot, seeing the way that they did things.
I remember showing pictures to my [Indonesian] driver of my house, I was trying to impress him.
I was like, ‘hey, look at all this stuff I have’.
He didn’t care at all [laughs].
He was like…I kept showing him another picture and another picture [of my stuff] and he didn’t care at all.
And that really changed me and then I started hanging out with him and seeing how he lived his life.
I could see what it [life] was really about. It’s about family and time and contributing and he contributed to his family, he contributed to his community.
He [my driver] relaxed a lot and really just focused on life.
TERRY: Why Indonesia specifically?
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JUSTIN: I don’t know, that’s where you’re supposed to go right?
You go to Ubud, Bali for the pictures, the pools and the rice fields and it’s cheap and they have good coconut water.
TERRY: Do you think that being there was one of the things that freed you from trying to impress other people?
JUSTIN: It did, it really did because I was trying to impress them [Indonesians] and their culture was not impressed by our culture at all.
It was the first time I realized that Americans have a culture.
I thought everybody else had a culture.
I was just stupid and didn’t realize that we have our own culture and when I realized what that was, I knew I wanted to change that.
TERRY: And was getting rid of a lot of ‘stuff’, material stuff, also a big part of this?
JUSTIN: Yeah, we’d gotten rid of almost everything, in a kind of fire sale.
We put everything outside and had a garage sale and pretty much accepted any price that anyone gave to us.
We had money and we could have put a lot in storage but I knew I was going to fix this problem and I wasn’t going to come back to everything I had.
But I wanted to keep some of the more important things and more expensive things and wouldn’t have to re-buy like our couch and our bed.
We put a couple of things in storage and pretty much sold everything else, then we lived out on the road, for 9 months we lived on the road.
And we had a great time, it was amazing.
TERRY: So you were in Indonesia for about 7 weeks?
TERRY: And then you came back to the US?
JUSTIN: Yes. But it was more than one moment in Indonesia, there were a few [important moments].
This [Indonesian] driver, right now I’m drawing a blank on his name, but we talk about him all the time.
This driver, when I was investigating his life…I kept offering to pay him more and more money to just be my personal driver, to show up every day [for me] but he just didn’t care!
He would say, ‘no, some days I don’t want to work, some days I want to drive for other people or I don’t want to go where you want to go’.
He was doing his own thing and that really drove me nuts, and chase after him and investigate him.
That was when it really dawned on me that I what I really needed.
Over there [in Indonesia] is when I changed my business model.
And that’s when we decided to come back.
If ever you’re going to change your business model, Bali is a pretty good place because if it doesn’t work, you’re still going to be OK.
So I got rid of all my clients, mostly we had been doing great.
It was not a failure and I’m very careful to word it that way.
I had the best clients, I transferred them over to a buddy of mine who I also knew was really good and I got a percentage of all of it.
For a few years after [I left] that agency, I was still getting paid on that work, and then I decided to launch an infoproduct, which was something I’d done in my early days and I wanted to try that again.
I recorded a course out there with a selfie stick, Bali background, beautiful flowers, bushes behind me, recorded the course and launched it out to the market.
I hadn’t made anything for a while but I had a pretty good reputation behind me.
[In the launch] we made $48,000 in a weekend and I thought, ‘this might work’!
I didn’t really set out to build what Adskills is today but it just kept working.
So we kept doing it.
We started with that initial course, we built it and we listened to what else they [the Adskills.com customers] wanted, adding more things that they wanted and now there’s 14 courses and 11,000 customers and it’s this ‘thing’.
And it provides a life for me, my team and my customers and we all enjoy it together.
TERRY: And this business model that you have now works much better for you, your family and the lifestyle that you want to live?
JUSTIN: Oh, so much better.
I could have the masterminds, I could have services as a backend, plenty of people ask me, but we stick to the courses because, for us, we look at it as we’re building a lifestyle business and it happens to be that we sell courses.
But what we actually manufacture and produce in our company is a lifestyle for me, for my family, for Graeme who is our General Manager in Scotland, for Amy who is our Customer Support rep living in the Philippines so she can take care of her kids.
So we don’t have any hours or anything like that.
We all have goals and we make sure that we meet our goal, and we do the same thing for our customers.
We fund the business with courses but we are actually building lifestyles for everyone.
We’re very strict about what we bring on and we don’t want to bring on anything that would ruin that lifestyle for us.
TERRY: Did you find Justin in your experience with poorer people – and I haven’t travelled extensively in that part of the world – the striking things for me are the simplicity of those people, their general happiness and just how generous they are?
They kind of have nothing and they’re willing to share everything.
JUSTIN: Yeah, coming from somebody [like me] who had a lot, maybe not everything, I didn’t have yachts, I didn’t have helicopters yet, but I had just about everything that the average American could possibly want.
And they didn’t care at all.
I wanted what they had.
I wanted, like this [Indonesian] driver, if he didn’t want to drive, he would just go to the beach.
[When asked to work] he was like, ‘nah, I’m going to go fly kites with my nephew today.’
I said, ‘yeah but I’ll pay you more money’ but he’d say, ‘I really want to fly kites!’
There was no amount of money – OK there was probably some amount of money that I could’ve gone up to but I tried pretty hard [and couldn’t get him to work].
They [the Indonesians] were about the lifestyle, the family, about eating together and making the food together, and that was another big thing [for them].
It wasn’t just about having the food, it was about creating the meal together and sitting down and enjoying the meal together, then enjoying the ‘stuffedness’ and sunset after the meal.
It changed my mind about what living actually was.
TERRY: It’s pretty different to eating in front of a TV after an hour commute in traffic in a big city in the West.
JUSTIN: Yeah, it’s a totally different thing to have that kind of stuffed belly feeling and watching the Kardashians versus that stuffed belly feeling on the beach with your friends watching the sun.
Now for us, it’s not the beach, we really enjoy the mountains here in the United States and the rivers.
We kind of have that same thing but it’s different.
TERRY: I’m curious if you had any pushback from family and friends because you were changing up a lot of stuff?
JUSTIN: They all thought I was broke and they still think I’m broke, maybe that’s a better way for people to think about me.
Either way, it is what it is, I’m happy.
Yeah so I came back and moved into – everybody else is afraid to call it a trailer – but I moved into a trailer.
They’re always apologizing to me because saying you live in a trailer is like an offensive thing here.
I loved it.
I lived in a really tiny trailer, after living in a 3500 square foot house with 6 bedrooms to living in a 2 bedroom, 600 to 800 square foot place.
It was tiny and I always made sure that any interviews I did where I was talking about business I was pretty quiet because the neighbourhoods I was in were probably not the right places to be bragging about your business.
I drove a little Honda Civic, lived in a little trailer, I loved it.
We were just living life.
And now, instead of just having these business revenue numbers and actually being broke personally, I had these business revenue numbers and a bank account [with money] but I didn’t even use it.
Now I just like knowing that there’s that surplus.
If anything goes wrong, it’s there. I can also give it to charity if I want, I can help out family members when I need to.
TERRY: And something else suggested by what you’re talking about there Justin is that time just goes by so quickly.
For example, the time that you get to spend with your kids now, even though they’re more grown up of course, is something that they will treasure forever.
One of the Western diseases is that all this rush-rush-rush, commuting in traffic, build a career.
And to me as I get older and I’m probably quite a bit older than you, there is that weird accelerating effect of time, and ‘another year has gone by’.
So one of the really good things about your big shift here is the time you now have with your family and your kids are only going to be 8 years old or 10 years old once and it’s no good going back to them when they’re 35 or 40 saying, ‘dude, sorry I didn’t spend much time with you [when you were a kid]’.
JUSTIN: There’s no amount of apologies. They understand and appreciate the apology but you can’t fix it.
TERRY: It’s awesome and I see on Facebook some of what you’re posting and you’re spending a lot of time together [as a family].
I’m curious if you ever went back to Indonesia after that time?
JUSTIN: We do want to go back to Indonesia and we especially want to go back to Japan.
I was just totally under-prepared for what Japan was!
I know that I’ve learned about different hemispheres and that the weather is different at different times but I got on the plane dressed for Bali, going into Japan and their winter so I sit down on the plane and they have this TV screen showing the news and the weather was with a legit blizzard going on where we would be landing.
I kind of nudged my wife and she said, ‘oh my god’ and then over in Japan, they don’t have clothes for guys my size.
I’m a giant over there.
I had basketball shorts, flip-flops and t-shirts but I’m wearing this giant scarf around my head and a beanie trying to stay warm at all costs.
So I want to do Round 2 with Japan because Japan kicked my butt.
It was the one place where I felt that things were actually different.
They still have a Burger King and a KFC but everywhere else we went was – even when we got to Ubud, Bali which still felt like America in the jungle, a lot of Americans there – but Japan was the first place I went to where I felt, ‘wow, this place is different’.
TERRY: The picture of you [in a Japanese blizzard] would make a really good book cover.
People would buy it just for the picture, regardless of what’s inside.
So with your current lifestyle, sort of nomadic lifestyle, on the outside to some people it looks like a failure, ‘the guy’s living in a trailer, what the hell?, I feel sorry for him’.
JUSTIN: I even took a job, a job for 4 months and then I realized why I’m an entrepreneur.
It was a dream job, a job that I would have loved as a kid.
This was a billion dollar direct response marketer [company].
To me, if I were a cartoonist, it would be like getting a job at Disney.
For me as a direct response marketer, it was amazing but being there and having to kind of sit there and not being able to do things my own way, I quit 4 times in 4 months.
Finally, on the 4th time, they let me leave.
The family really thought I was broke then!
Because here I am coming back to this trailer and I’ve got this little car and they really thought I was so broke, they still do.
TERRY: And what for you is at the core, the heart of entrepreneurship?
JUSTIN: It’s changed a lot for me.
Before that, I thought it was about getting ‘things’ – achievements, milestones, climbing mountains.
And to me now, it’s about providing for others, creating a life, creating safety and security for other people and I feel like that’s how countries are built.
Whether you call them entrepreneurs or pioneers or these days I’m learning that the pirates, maybe the pirates weren’t such bad guys, if you really look into history and their stories, not endorsing any stealing!
I just mean paving a way, cutting a path for others, providing a place where they can do work and raise a family and have security and stability in their lives and that’s what I really see entrepreneurship is about today.
It’s [entrepreneurship] about fixing a very broken thing that doesn’t work any more.
And here it’s really broken, like crazy broken.
I think entrepreneurship is too often tied up with money and we need to teach kids that it’s about creativity and problem solving and get them practicing that.
I have a teaching background and know that so much of what is taught to kids in Australian and British schools is appallingly useless for life, when we should be cultivating creativity and entrepreneurship.
What about books or mentors that you’ve had Justin? Have you got some favorites to share?
JUSTIN: Yeah, one of the big ones that I live my life by is The Go Giver [by Bob Burg].
There’s a lot in the book but one thing that really sticks out is the reach [to people] and the value you provide to that reach is what grows you.
So I’m always trying to extend my reach and increase the value out to that reach.
And I know that if I give, I will get. That’s what has kept our family protected and doing well for years, we’re trying to teach those things to our kids.
TERRY: One of the crucial things that we have discussed that people can do to have a better life is to not care about seeking the approval of other people, because those people [you’re trying to impress] are too wrapped up in trying to get other people’s approval anyway and won’t even notice or care, pretty much.
And it doesn’t mean that you behave like an a*hole of course, you should always do things with integrity, make great stuff with great support and be very fair and honest in business, but being too hung up on what people think, you have to get liberated of that to move forward.
Obviously you don’t care at all about that and you’re in a great place for it.
Do you have any other core principles that you think people need to hear to get unstuck, get more liberated from a rat race lifestyle or being stuck?
JUSTIN: I think it’s important what I did but not everybody has to run away to Indonesia and spend 9 months, sell everything-
TERRY: -they could go to Thailand instead.
JUSTIN: There’s a lot of great places in the US as well.
I do think that there is a level of ‘unplugging’ that is necessary because it’s hard to hear your own voice, when you have so many other voices coming in from social media and when people hear [the term], [the media’, they only think of the news and they’re, ‘yeah well, I turned off the news’.
But the media is also Netflix and the TV shows you watch and the movies you watch and there’s a lot of stimulus coming in about how you should live.
Until you block all that out and find the time to figure out what you really want, what is your voice, who is the type of person you want to be, what are your ‘laws’ that you want to follow?
I’m not saying break any external laws but take a minute to put everybody else’s laws aside and figure out what laws you want to follow, what laws do you think is important?
And taking that time is really important to listen to your voice and what you want and then start building that, work towards that.
TERRY: Absolutely and I talked earlier about our ages and a few friends of ours recently passed away who were either younger than me or exactly the same age and I’m always saying to my wife that a good rule to live by is to ‘do as much as you can for as long as you can BUT get started as soon as you can’.
Because soon you’ll be older, you won’t be as mobile, you won’t be as capable physically.
For me, that’s dog welfare and I’ll be working on that for the rest of my life, outside of my main business which financially supports that [homeless/shelter dog] work.
Now while I’ve got you in the witness box under oath Justin, any other turning point experiences that you think had an impact on you, with a person or situation?
JUSTIN: Being in other countries at some point, like I said, you don’t have to go forever but to visit another country, to go somewhere where things are not exactly as they are [at home].
[For example] Going to a grocery store in Bali and some days, they just didn’t have chicken.
Some days, they don’t have milk.
Or the AC was broken the last couple of days so, ‘sorry, all the chocolate is melted, you can’t have a candy bar today’.
And that just blew my mind because here in the United States, not only do you have milk, you’ve got cashew milk, rice milk, soy milk, almond milk, almond milk with cashew milk – you don’t realize that some places just don’t have this massive amount of abundance.
So before [I had my big realization] I was so mad because I was letting all the media come into me, I was so mad about how America was and all the politics and the people and the technology and everything was just bad.
And then when I left, one of the big things happening was in Flint [Michigan] and I don’t mean to minimize the situation and we all need to work together [to fix it].
However, as an American outside, I got to watch the whole Flint water crisis develop while I was in a 3rd world country where you can’t drink the water all the time.
It’s always been that way [undrinkable water], that’s just normal [in Indonesia] and Americans were up in arms, ‘oh my god, we can’t drink the water!’.
But we need to fix it [in Flint] and I will help contribute to that.
But getting outside [of your normal environment] for a little while so you can see it from the outside and then come back to it has just made me appreciate it so much more…the fluffy couches that we have here, the grocery stores that we have here, whole city blocks of food, every type of food you can possibly imagine.
To leave and come back so that you can have that moment when you can come back to an American grocery store and say, ‘holy cow, there’s everything you could ever want in here!’…really helps, you just love being here again.
TERRY: One of the ways that I also describe what you’re talking about is that when you go to that different culture like Japan or Indonesia, you have the opportunity to become a different version of yourself, a slightly different version of who you are.
And it can surprise you in that you may not have seen that potential in yourself when you were back in your safe, comfortable environment.
For me, I found that I was a lot more gregarious, a lot more social and polite, I was just a much nicer person and I thought, ‘what the hell is going on here?’
It’s interesting that – and not necessarily for everybody – there’s some positive psychological effect when you go into that different environment and you become a different version of yourself, you have to grow a bit and expand, think more and get out of some bad mental and emotional habits.
I totally encourage anyone listening to do that.
JUSTIN: It’s important for everybody whether you’re in Indonesia and take a 2-week trip out to America or if you live in America, take a 2-week trip out to Indonesia.
JUSTIN: Having done it, I think it’s a very important thing as a human being to go someplace very different so that you can get a perspective, you see it [life] differently.
You can’t see it [life] differently until you see it differently.
TERRY: To conclude Justin, it’s been awesome and I really appreciate your time and openness today and a reminder that you can catch up with Justin at Adskills.com – that’s your main dealio now Justin?
JUSTIN: Yeah, you can Google ‘Justin Brooke’ and you’ll find a bunch of interviews on Youtube and all that stuff, but Adskills.com is my business.
TERRY: Justin is a legend in paid traffic generation so if you’re going to learn from anybody, it should be him.
Thank you again Justin and have a great day there!
JUSTIN: Thanks for having me man!
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