Artwork for podcast Hack the Entrepreneur
How to Let Your Business Thrive (By Getting Out of Its Way)
29th July 2015 • Hack the Entrepreneur • Jon Nastor
00:00:00 00:38:28

Share Episode


My guest today has started several successful businesses, written three books, is a motivational speaker and has consulted with companies in several different industries.

He coaches teams and businesses on the actions required in order to grow. As a result, he is known as the entertainer, educator, and consultant of choice for America’s leading companies.

My guest is the founder of Thrive 15, an online education and practical training platform for entrepreneurs, which is taught by millionaires, mentors and every day success stories.

Now, let’s hack …

Clay Clark.

In this 38-minute episode Clay Clark and I discuss:

  • Why Clay feels you need to be ruthless with your time
  • The benefits of studying successful entrepreneurs
  • Learning other’s best practices and applying it to yourself
  • How to clearly define your own success
  • Creating your mission and values

Listen to Hack the Entrepreneur below ...

The Show Notes

The Transcript

How to Let Your Business Thrive (by Getting out of Its Way)

Jonny Nastor: Launching a new business? 99designs is your number-one choice for quality design at an affordable price. Start your next design project at and get a $99 upgrade for free.

Voiceover: Welcome to Hack the Entrepreneur, the show which reveals the fears, habits, and inner battles behind big-name entrepreneurs and those on their way to joining them. Now here’s your host, Jon Nastor.

Jonny Nastor: Welcome back to another episode of Hack the Entrepreneur. I am your host, Jon Nastor, but you can call me Jonny.

My guest today has started several successful businesses, has written three books, is a motivational speaker, and has consulted with companies in several different industries. He coaches teams and businesses on the actions required in order to grow. As a result, he’s known as the entertainer, educator, and consultant of choice for America’s leading companies.

My guest is the founder of Thrive15, an online education and practical training platform for entrepreneurs that is taught by millionaires, mentors, and everyday success stories. Now, let’s hack Clay Clark.

Before we get started, I want to thank today’s sponsor, 99designs. If you’re like many listeners, you’re in the early stages of getting your business off the ground. Your to-do list may seem like it’s a mile long, but there’s one task you should tackle sooner than later: your branding. Businesses can get maximum creativity with 99designs, the online marketplace where dozens of designers compete to deliver the best design.

You get to choose from ideas created just for you from awesome designers around the world. When you’re just starting out, of course you want to get your logo designed, but 99designs also makes it easy to round out your visual identity with other designs, too, like stationery, a great website, or whatever else your business needs. Your brand could very well be the best business investment you’ll make. Get the help you need at 99designs.

When you’re ready to bring your brand to life, visit As a Hack the Entrepreneur listener, you’ll get a free $99 upgrade to use on your first design. That’s

Welcome back to another episode of Hack the Entrepreneur. We have an excellent guest today. Clay, welcome to the show.

Clay Clark: I appreciate you for having me on there, my friend.

Jonny Nastor: It’s absolutely my pleasure. All right, let’s jump straight into this. Clay, as an entrepreneur, can you tell me what is the one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your successes so far?

Clay Clark: I would say that I am a ridiculously fastidious manager of time, and if I can go for one and a half things, I would say I’m a very, very detailed manager of time, and I spend a lot of that time studying successful entrepreneurs. It saves me a lot of time.

Jonny Nastor: Nice. Ridiculously fastidious in your management of time.

Clay Clark: Yes.

Jonny Nastor: Have you always been this way, or is this something you’ve had to work on?

The Benefits of Studying Successful Entrepreneurs

Clay Clark: It is something I have learned how to do. I have really reached out to the top performers. This is one of the things that blew my mind: it occurred to me that Oprah, or let’s say, Lee Cockerell, who used to manage 40,000 employees as the head of Disney World. You got a guy who manages Disney World, and you got Oprah, and then let’s go with a guy by the name of Michael Levine. He’s a big PR expert. He used to be the PR guy for Nike. I look at those three people, and I say, “Do these people have more time than I have?”

Because it would appear to me that they do, because I’m a 22-year-old guy looking at these super-successful people, and I’m saying, “I can’t even get to the dry cleaner and get to the bank and return calls. How are these people able to manage 40,000 employees? How are they able to do all these things and manage all these contacts?”

I begin to realize that time management is one of the things they do that nobody else really does. They are very, very focused on it. I begin to meet these people, study them, get to become friends with a lot of these success stories, and I asked them, “How do you manage your time?” One by one, I learned and basically took those principles and applied them to my life, and now I have very rigid time management rules that I do. It really, really has made the biggest impact in my life.

Jonny Nastor: Nice. You’re sure Oprah and Lee Cockerell don’t have an eighth day or ninth day in a week?

Clay Clark: I know it objects to the space-time continuum, but according to Doc Brown, they might be able to do that. I’m not exactly sure.

Jonny Nastor: Oprah could probably buy an eighth day if she wanted.

Clay Clark: That’s right. When you buy a house in Santa Barbara, they give you the eighth day as part of the deal, a special.

Jonny Nastor: Nice. You’re a 22-year-old entrepreneur at this point?

Clay Clark: I guess I was referring to when I was starting my entrepreneurial career.

Jonny Nastor: Okay.

Clay Clark: Yeah, I’m 34 now, but when I really got into this quest of success, so to speak, when I got serious about it, I was 20 years old. I was 20 years old. I was Entrepreneur of the Year for the city of Tulsa. They have a big chamber of commerce here, and I was the guy, and people were like, “Man, you’re so great. You’re a DJ.” A DJ entertainment company, and we DJed clubs and weddings. So if you were in Tulsa, Oklahoma, you knew who I was because I probably DJed at your bar mitzvah or you saw me at a club or saw me at a wedding.

I was the guy, but yet secretly, behind the scenes, I felt over-stressed, over-worked. I felt like I was always behind. I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing, and I was making a lot of money, but I wasn’t able to manage my life. I really began the quest to start studying time management. That’s really what I attribute a lot of the success I’ve been able to have over the years to.

Jonny Nastor: Excellent. At 20 years old, you made Entrepreneur of the Year for a DJ company?

Clay Clark: Yeah.

Jonny Nastor: Let’s go back before that, to when that started, because there seems to be a time in every entrepreneur’s life when they realize one of two things. They have this calling to make this big, big thing difference in the world, or as seems to mostly be the case, they simply find they can’t work for somebody else. Clay, could you tell me which of these two you fall into and when — before you were 20 — you discovered this about yourself?

Clay Clark: I don’t want to be the surly guest at all. I think your question was totally, totally rational. It makes a lot of sense. I would just say that I have option three, maybe?

Jonny Nastor: Okay. Nice.

Clay Clark: I just knew that I had a bigger vision for my life, and I knew that to do that, those goals, to do the things I felt like I was called or I had a vision to do, it would cost me roughly a $150,000 a year to do it. I wanted to make sure that I could earn $150,000 a year in a legal and ethical way that added value to many people. That’s where it started for me.

Jonny Nastor: How did you come up with $150,000 a year?

Why Clay Feels You Need to Be Ruthless with Your Time

Clay Clark: I used to do a ton of it, but I work with a lot of CEOs and managers where their business is stuck, and they hire me to come in and help them grow. I sit down with people — this is my process — but I say, “Hey, what are your goals for your life for the next year? Let’s say you re only allowed one more year to live. What are the things you want to do over this next year?” Most people have an initial pushback: That’s a stupid exercise.

And I say, “Listen, my best friend got killed in a car accident. My father developed stage-four cancer out of the blue. We could all list the unexpected things that life throws at us. Let’s just have a sense of reverence for our life for a second, and let’s play the game that we only have a year left. Write down all the things we want to do during that year, and then next to them, I want you to put how much it costs.”

People say, “It doesn’t cost anything to spend time with my kids.” I say, “Actually, it does, because your mortgage is what your mortgage is, and if you’re going to take a day off, you still have to pay the mortgage or whatever your costs are. Let’s figure it out.” I just sat down, and I did this process, and I ended up discovering that it was about $150,000 a year for me to have five kids. I have five kids. My wife and I are kind of an organic, cage-free kind of people, the cage-free chickens.

I just knew that for me to have five kids, to be able to afford the lifestyle we wanted to live, to travel how we want to travel, to be able to hire the private teachers we want to hire for them and to be able to have our family over every Sunday for family days, to be able to hire personal trainers and to be able to have the NFL Direct Ticket package so that I can watch every single New England Patriots game possible, I’m going to have to have about $150,000 a year, and so that’s where I started.

Jonny Nastor: I love it. It’s so thorough, and you’re right. I mean, if I had one year left, what would I want to do? That’s a great take on how to deal with your business. Otherwise, your business, obviously, can end up running you.

Clay Clark: Yeah, right now, just the mindset that I have that I never really get too far from is that I am going to plan like I’m going to live forever. I’m going to have that mindset of, I’m going to save money, and I’m going to be fastidious about time management, but at the same time, I’m going to have the reverence for every day, viewing that it could be my last.

I really do not spend any time, any part of my day, involved to what I would call the dark art of jackassery. I try to avoid jackassery. So if there’s a meeting about a meeting, like if someone in my office says, “Hey, can we have a meeting?” I immediately ask myself, Is this the highest and best use of my time? If it’s not, I refuse to go to the meeting. That’s just how I am.

Jonny Nastor: Nice. The dark art of jackassery. I think we have the title for the episode.

Clay Clark: It’s a black hole of time suck. It sucks like a Hoover. It will suck like a Dyson. It just pulls you in if you are not intentional. I really do believe this. I’m telling you. I’ve met the founder of Hobby Lobby. I’ve met George Foreman. I’ve interviewed these guys. I’ve had them on It’s been amazing. I mean, I know these people. All of them either have it on a physical piece of paper or they have it some place prominent: they have their goals written down, and if what they are doing right now doesn’t get them toward their goals, most of them will hop out of the meeting. They just won’t be there.

Jonny Nastor: Can we always do that? Do we have to be the CEO of a multimillion-dollar company to be able to have the power and control of our lives to do that? If we’re just starting out, do we not have to do everything that comes across our plate and everything — all the jackassery that is involved in starting a business?

Clay Clark: Yeah. Let me give you an example. If someone is listening to this right now, let’s say they work at a company. They work at a big company. Let s say the company has 500 employees. Someone else who is listening to your program right now works at a company with 2,000 employees, and they somehow are an employee. Then you’re somebody else listening to this, and you are the owner of your own company, and it is a plumbing company. Okay? You ve got three options: A, B, and C. A is the employee. B is the employee in the massive company. And C is the plumber guy.

In all three cases, you have to ask yourself, “Am I working in an organization that shares the values and shares the beliefs that I have?” As an example, I could not ever under any circumstance work for certain companies, because it would cause me dissonance, because their corporate ethics don’t agree with what I do.

I started out early in my career doing construction. Construction. I was digging holes, man, because I had no discernible skills. I was one of the only English-speaking guys on my crew, right? I poured concrete. I did that because I had no money, no skills, no degree, and no connections. I was working construction, but I knew where I was going. I was not engaged in jackassery. I knew where I was going.

So every week, I made $10 an hour, and I could work up to 80 hours a week on the crew if I wanted to, and I would typically earn about $1,100 a week, typically, after bonuses and stuff. I decided that I was going to save 20 percent of every dollar I make. I set 20 percent aside, and then I took 10 percent of it, and I tithed and gave to my church and certain things that I was into.

I lived as cheaply as possible. I had roommates and the whole thing. Even though I was doing a job that wasn’t personally fulfilling, I was getting closer to where I wanted to go so that at the end of a two-year window of time, I was able to fully engage in starting a business that I was excited about.

If you’re an employee right now, and you’re in a company, and you re working there, and you’re going, “I don’t find this job to be too emotionally fulfilling, satisfactory as a career, that’s okay. The question I would have is, Are you engaged in jackassery? Are you living in an apartment that you can’t really afford? Do you own a house that’s too big? Are you getting sucked into someone else’s American dream? Because what’s your dream? If on your sheet of paper you say, “My dream is to travel once a month,” then you might need to get a roommate and reduce your cost of living, or you might need to carpool.

There are endless things you might need to do. But we need to make sure that we’re not engaged in the process of just churning and burning and working a ton of hours and spending money on consumer debt or stupid things that we don’t need. Then we don’t have the money that we really need for the things we want. Does that make sense to you?

Jonny Nastor: That actually make so much sense. The fact that you worked construction and pouring concrete. I told you I just moved to this new office. We moved across the country two days ago, my family, for the summer.

Clay Clark: Yeah.

Jonny Nastor: We moved to Vancouver, British Columbia,...