Ep. 163 – Jesse Itzler: 6 Simple Steps to Becoming Self-made

“Everyday is a new day.” …unless you have a routine.

Then it’s just “eat, sleep, shit, repeat,” like they say in Billions.

“Don’t you want to create memories? Don’t you want to build your life resume and get as much out of life as you can?” Jesse Itzler said on my podcast.

He’s the co-founder of Marquis Jets, owner of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, endurance athlete, former-rapper and now he’s an author.

“I didn’t have a resume,” he says. “I didn’t want to have a resume. I didn’t want to work for anybody.”

“I had no background, no experience and I had no connections.”

He’s self-made.

I don’t know who’s in charge of my life. Maybe me. I chose myself.

And I still do everyday.

But I also lend my life out. At least once every 24 hours.

“We’re constantly dodging arrows,” Jesse said. “Each arrow is time.”

“Routines are great, but they’re also a rut,” he said.

“I thought wow, this is amazing. I have great balance. I have a great routine. I’m in my routine. Everything is my routine…”

And he needed to get out of it.

So he did something crazy, which you’ll hear on today’s episode.

And you’ll learn his tricks to becoming self-made.

Then you can enjoy your life. I hope. And forget your resume too.

Listen to my podcast with Jesse Itzler.

Or read my notes here:

6 simple steps to becoming self-made:

A) Start before fear stops you.

Before he was a rapper, Jesse cold called record labels saying he was Billy Joel’s agent. Then he waited for them to call back and hear him rapping on his answering machine.

It didn’t work.

He had other crazy ideas. He tried them all until one finally worked.

“I’m just not scared of being embarrassed. I don’t like it, but I’m not scared of it,” Jesse says, “Once you give yourself that gift, you’re liberated.”

B) If you can’t control, confuse.
Jesse called Delicious Vinyl, “this really hot, independent label,” as Dana Dane, a huge rapper in the 90’s.
“They got really confused and I played on that confusion until the secretary came back on and said, ‘Dana, Mike will see you at 2 PM today if you want to come in.’ I buzzed myself in as Dana Dane and that was it.”

Jesse asked to play his music while they waited for Dana.

Dana wasn’t coming.

They said yes. And Jesse became a rapper.

C) Invite disruption
Anytime he wanted something, he raised the stakes. Or “Seal” did.

Seal is the specially trained Navy Seal Jesse invited to disrupt his routine.

He wrote a book about it, Living With a Seal: 31 Days Training with the Toughest Man on the Planet.

You might say he’s not self-made because someone trained him to be tough, form habits, and break down mental walls.

But you’d be wrong.

It takes mental toughness, grit, and courage to invite someone into your life and ask for help when you need it.

Which is the next lesson I learned from Jesse…

D) Ask for help.
Your life is talking to you.

Maybe knowing if you need help is the strongest starting point of all.

E) Build your mental toughness
Motivation doesn’t last. It’s a slutty, insatiable feeling.

“It comes down to mental toughness,” Jesse says. “Not motivation. Mental toughness.”

Listening to this interview will motivate you.

It will tease you.

And make you feel capable of 1. changing your routine 2. attacking your best idea 3. and becoming someone new.

I hope you do.

And you will… if you build your mental toughness.

Find out how on the podcast. (Skip to 37 minutes now to hear Jesse’s strategy.)

F) You can do better
I try to improve 1% a day.

It means I showed up. I invested in myself. And at the end of the day, I’ll sleep soundly.

But we can do more. Even at our best.

“When your brain says you’re done, you’re only 40 percent done,” Jesse says.

Jesse challenges himself everyday. He has a “f-ck it list.”

“Those are things that are challenging. Those are things that require preparation, training, planning, maybe failure, but those are the things that make me feel most alive,” he says. “Those are the things that really teach me about me”

Then “when the tough road comes, you’re not scared of it,” he says.

I do dares. I get lost. I wander.

I’m wandering right now. Each day is new.

Each day, I come home to myself and I recognize someone else. Someone new.

Someone self-made.

Listen to my interview with Jesse Itzler. And tweet us the parts that help you. @jaltucher and @the100MileMan.

Resources and Links:

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  • it never ceases to amaze how great your copywriting is. Not only do you run a fantastic podcast, you’re amazing at selling us free stuff through email and through your blog. I want to be a master copywriter like Altucher. Teach me your ways! Hint, tease and teach (a little) best of all words flow like water..

    • A little bit hypnotic, right? I find some similarities between althucher and Christopher Alexander in this regard….

  • Lee Davy

    Hi James,

    I wanted to drop you a note and tell you I am a big fan of your articles, book (only read one), and Podcast.

    I work in the poker industry interviewing all of the people you like to read about. I am also a former alcoholic, and have written my first book (a diary), and would like to gift it to you. I know you like a good read. E Mail me (needyhelper@gmail.com) if you want a copy.

    Keep up the good work

    PS: I am not a fan of the ads on the Podcast. I have told everyone who would listen for a year now, how great you are because you don’t have ads on your podcast. And then I tuned in the other day and there were ads at the beginning and the middle. Other than the ads. I love your work.


  • Jordan Selleck

    3x! Yes, I listened to this episode 3x and it has had a big impact on me. Fantastic guest, great interview and solid stories. 40% rule sticks in my head at the jiu jitsu gym when my body says take a rest, but the mind and spirit say finish off those extra rounds, even if I get my a*s kicked.

  • I’ve recently realized that I’m really successful at doing weekends. I’m at a great stage of live. Two kids (8 and 3) and a great wife. We have a lot of fun and planning awesome weekends just seems really easy and productive. But the weeks have become routine despite being successfully self employed with a lot of flexibility. But lately I feel like I’m losing my “self-madeness” that’s gotten me to where I’m at. I can do better…

  • Newbie

    Once again, amazing interview and guest. Mental toughness.

  • George Alex

    Don’t get me wrong, your guest was fine, and he is someone with a different perspective which you can learn from, but….

    1. He is overtraining, and so is his mentor. There is no need to run marathons when your insides are bleeding, for example.

    2. Its good to be aggressive and fearless, but you don’t need to blatantly lie to people’s face and be a total BS’er to succeed. You don’t need to confuse people. Be honest, direct, assertice, agressive, and you’ll get good results too.

  • I really enjoyed Jesse’s book and highly recommend it to anyone looking to get out of their comfort zone and push themselves to their limit. You can check out a feature we did on it here: http://www.guysgab.com/living-with-a-seal-31-days-training-with-the-toughest-man-on-the-planet