“Give, Give, Give”: The New Philosophy of Entrepreneurship

An interview with Peter Voogd

Bestselling author of 6 Months to 6 Figures

 Peter Voogd started his first business when he was 15, and found himself broke, stressed and discouraged by the age of 22. By 23, he made his first 6 figure income, and 3 1/2 years later his earnings were over 1 million. He then took the same formula and applied it in multiple industries. Despite the challenge of lacking training or experience, he became the fastest manager to reach $1 million in annual sales in his company’s 60+ year history, but left his 6 figure income because he felt the magnitude of his mission growing.  He has since trained close to 5,000 entrepreneurs and sales professionals. 

Voogd Picture (purple sweater)

Peter is now labeled the leading authority for Entrepreneurs, and stars in his own TV show called “The Entrepreneur Grind” on the Whatever it takes network. He has founded The Game Changers Academy, which is the premier networking community for ambitious entrepreneurs and professionals. He also runs one of the top podcast on iTunes titled, “The Young Entrepreneur Lifestyle,” and is the author of the 27-Time International Best Seller “6 Months to 6 Figures.” Peter’s strategies have been featured in Entrepreneur Magazine,  Huffington Post, Business Insider, Yahoo Small Business, Yahoo Finance, MSN, LinkedIn, and many other international publications. He strongly believes the more people you help to succeed, the more successful you become.

Hasan Azad: What really stands out for me in your book is your emphasis on radically shifting people’s mindsets. So much of what people assume to be givens in life—that there is a finite amount of success in the world; that successful people were born that way, therefore you can never be successful—are ideas that are perpetuated by our systems of education, and the powers that be, that have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. What I find extremely refreshing about your approach—and you are very successful in life yourself—is the conviction that there are no limits to what we can achieve. Could you speak a little to that?

Peter Voogd: We know from looking at history, by looking at all the discoveries and advances that human beings have made, that limitations are only in a person’s mind. That is, the only limitations that people have are those based on their past experiences and what they create mentally.

The reality is, if there’s ever been something that you want to accomplish and you think it’s impossible based on your circumstances, all you have to do in order to get rid of the limitation is ask this question: “Has anyone in my situation ever accomplished the success I want in the same circumstances?” If the answer is “Yes,” your limitation or excuse isn’t valid. So that’s the first thing that I really want to share with people, and that is the fact that limitations are self-imposed, based on past experience.

I think that most people aren’t even aware they have limitations. They’re so busy with the day to day drudgery, the status quo, the nine to five, just keeping up with their bills, they don’t even think about how much their convictions regarding their limitations are holding them back.

The way I got away from this was, first by shifting my perspective—or what I like to call “reprograming” my mind. The next crucial step was by sparking my mind every single day, with things that increased me in intelligence, not fear.

If you watch the news, it makes you fearful, if you read magazines, they force you to compare yourself to other people, and that lowers your confidence. If you talk to people who aren’t playing the game at a higher level than you, it lowers your standards.

The next thing that people don’t realize is that you have to spark your body, just as with your mind; because, the stronger you get physically, the stronger you become mentally. Fear is physical. So if you strengthen your mind and body daily, your fears inevitably decrease. It’s a fact.

Most people have limitations, and they’re adding to them everyday, watching the news, and looking at things that are negative, involving themselves in gossip—it doesn’t get them anywhere. Also, at least once a week you must connect with people who are playing their game at a higher level than you, and have learned how to get rid of their limitations.

If you have people you connect with who are of the same caliber as you, and have limitations, how are you ever going to become aware that you have limitations…how are you ever going to play your game at a higher level if that is normal for you?

So that’s the focus. And people have to realize that you can’t just read a book and expect that all of a sudden your limitations will disappear. You can’t just take a class. It’s like watching grass grow. It’s like buying a bond. It’s an investment of persistence over time that will help you with your limitations.

Hasan Azad: You encourage people to tap into, realize, and live their own unique genius. That of course requires a great deal of self-confidence, persistence, inner drive, and patience. What are some practical steps people can take in order to begin to discover and cultivate their own special genius? You’ve already mentioned that it is about associating with people who are playing at a higher level.

Peter Voogd: To be honest, it’s not just about your circle of influence, because sometimes you will base your strengths on theirs. I saw so many people living lives according to other people’s expectations—living lives, not just quiet desperation, but of a lot of regret, because they’re just trying to fit in rather than stand out. That’s why I put a script in my book about how to reach out to people who know you, and to ask them what you’re strengths are, and what they feel you’re the best at.

The second is asking yourself, when were you most “in the flow”? It’s called “the zone,” where time goes by really quick. You love what you’re doing, and you’re having fun, and you can do it all day. You have so many people talking about following your passion—“Follow your passion!” they say—and then they see someone on Shark Tank, or they see someone on TV, who has “followed their passion and now they’re a millionaire.”

The chances of that happening are one in a million. You have people following their passion and now they’re broke. You actually have to create a business and pay close attention to your results, and that’s where your passion comes from. So, where have you gotten results?

And the question I like to ask myself often is: “What will keep me fascinated and engaged for the next couple of years?” Most people get into a job without thinking things through, how they’re going to be in two years time. They don’t think of the upsides, they think “Oh, I’m just going to transfer to another job.”

They will have just wasted two years of their life. That’s not a foundation they can build upon, and it’s not scalable, and now they have to start all over again because they didn’t think things through, and they didn’t think about what their strengths are. So you have to step back and be in full control, and say: “Here are my strengths, these are my values, this is my genius, I’m going to create an opportunity or join one that compliments my abilities at the highest level.”

So here’s the magic formula: You need to mix your strong skills—or your creative genius—with your passion, to solve a problem, or need, people care about. It’s really how you create a business as an entrepreneur.

One of the major differences between people who are successful and people who are stressed or struggling or broke is: when people want to figure something out and they need to get clarity, most people will try to figure it out, and it gets hard, and they give up because they don’t know what will happen. Successful people make a commitment to figuring it out, and they don’t stop until they do—whether it takes them an hour, a day, a week, or a month. They keep going until they get clarity.

People who aren’t successful say: “I want to figure out my strengths. Oh, they didn’t respond to my email, so I’m going to stop now. I’m going to go back to working in the mall,” and they give up. You simply have to have persistence if you want to succeed.

Hasan Azad: Society at large is suffering from a major crisis of leadership. We no longer have role models—or if we do, they are few and far between—to whom we can turn. As a result, far too many people are leading lives of quiet desperation. What advice would you give to people who are seeking to better themselves, but cannot find real role models—people who practice what they preach, and aren’t simply celebrity figures—from whom they can learn and benefit?

Peter Voogd: We have a game changers academy that connects people with like-minded people and mentors, because finding a mastermind group in your area and getting out there and putting yourself in a position to network is the first step. Meetup.com, GamechangersMovement.com, there’s all kinds of resources that you can use, but you have to understand the importance and want it bad enough. I feel that people don’t understand the importance of networking and having a role model, so they kind of half-ass it. If you want it bad enough, you’re going to find a way.

To be honest, you need mentors for different areas of your life: for wealth, for mindset, for health, for integrity, you need a business growth mentor. But you need to work out which area to prioritize. Find people who match your values, and have integrity, and proven results.

Whether it’s authors, speakers, business owners, professors, writers, reach out to them in a very intelligent way, and see what you can do to add value to them. Everyone I’ve connected with I’ve added value for a while first, I’ve made sure they were congruent with me, and they’ve proven themselves, and they have integrity—that was my number one concern—and then I followed them.

So you’re right. The world needs leadership, and the need for leadership is increasing minute by minute. I will say to people who are reading this, you need to find a role model, and you need to be a role model, so that there are always people following you, and there are always people you look up to. It’s the ultimate accountability. You have people who are looking up to you, and there are people you are looking up to.

Hasan Azad: Oftentimes the second element is forgotten. You’ll hear people mention, “Get a mentor and learn from them; but, as you put it, the accountability you must have that comes from being a leader oneself, I think that’s really powerful.

Peter Voogd: Oh, I get people reaching out to me, and they say “I’m not motivated, I’m not doing this, I’m tired.” I say: “Who cares? Are you that selfish to talk about only what you need? If you want to be a leader it’s about other people. I don’t always feel like making my podcast, I don’t always feel like flying to Vegas to give a speech. But I do them because I know that they’re making an impact with people, and I feel like that’s what my calling is.” So once you get outside yourself and you get on purpose, that’s when you’re going to start seeing real success.

Hasan Azad: You stress the need for people to constantly improve themselves, to cultivate a sense of gratitude, emotional intelligence, and to never stop learning. It’s been noted that the CEOs read an average of 60 books per year, while the average American reads 1 book per year. For all the demonization of CEOs that often goes on, they certainly seem to be committed to bettering themselves intellectually. Can you speak a little to this disparity of wealth and knowledge between the rich and the poor?

Peter Voogd: This is something that I became obsessed with when I was younger. And normal society says that being obsessed with something is bad, so they just dabble in everything, which is why they’re average. But successful people understand the importance of being obsessed with something.

I’ve distilled it to a science. The first thing is the money mindset. Wealthy people want to make money work for them, and they see it as an endless resource, and average people see it as a limited resource. Successful people invest in a few things that average people don’t, which causes them to grow their success.

And I’m going to say something that is not popular, but it is a fact. Successful people invest in: 1) themselves; 2) back into their business and their personal development, and things like that; and 3) they invest in assets that make money work for them: investment properties, companies, and so on.

But what of society does is try to save money, or spend money on entertainment that adds no value to them. How in the world are you going to increase your success and net worth if you’re saving money? How are you going to increase your intelligence if you’re saving and you’re not investing in yourself? Why will you not invest the $10,000 you have saved and invest it in working with millionaires and make an extra $50,000 or an extra $100.000? So I’m investing money constantly, in myself, in my business, so I can make more money.

Average people invest in entertainment: TV, going out, drinks, the movies, clothes, materialistic things—things that make them feel good in the short term, more confident of who they are, based on their insecurities, which I don’t think is a good thing. While successful people invest money in enriching experiences and education, and things that make them more money.

Next, their perception of time is radically different. The average person thinks: “I have all the time in the world. I’m only 26, I’m only 27, I’m only 42, I’m only 43,” and then all of a sudden they have what’s called regret, because they never tell themselves “Now matters.”

The reality is that everyone has 24 hours in the day. I always laugh because average people sometimes hate on successful people as though they don’t have the same 24 hours. They have the same 24 hours, as Donald trump, and Michael Jordan, as Mark Cuban. It’s how you use those 24 hours. Are you maximizing your time? It’s not the hours you work, but the work you put in those hours.

Another example of that is that they have a very hourly mindset: “I’m going to trade this hour for this amount of money.” Successful people are focused on leveraging or multiplying their time. They’re doing things today so they have more free time later. And of course the circle of influence is very important. The reality is, you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. If you spend time with five intelligent people, you will be the sixth. If you hang out with five millionaires, you will be the sixth. If you hang out with five confident people, you will be the sixth. If you hang out with five idiots, you will be the sixth. If you hang out with five alcoholics…it’s inevitable.

Another issue is producing versus consuming. Successful people like to produce things and give value and make the world a better place, versus consume everything. So average people like to consume, consume, “consume, until they’re consumed” (to quote from Fight Club). “What can I buy, what can I buy, what can I buy?” While successful people are busy producing.

That is really one of the major differences, and that is one of the major reasons I created my book, to fill a gap, so that people understand at a young age you can make money as an entrepreneur if you start developing the habit of successful people, who have proven their success, by their actions, by their consistency, that they try to create.

To be honest, there were no books out that I felt did a good job of blueprinting and providing frameworks that weren’t BS.

Hasan Azad: I really appreciate that. I think that there are a lot of books out there, some good, some not so good, but what really struck me bout your book is that it is like a primer—a blueprint—which, if someone goes through and really applies and masters it, then there’s no reason why they can’t succeed.

You emphasize the need for having a clear sense of purpose in life, having a consistent will towards attaining it, and ultimately seeking to contribute to society. What advice would you give to people so that they don’t lose sense of this fundamental principle of giving: you mention that money can be an excellent servant, but a terrible master?

Peter Voogd: I meet people who see money as a master and not as a servant, and it tarnishes their integrity, and you can’t really sustain that in the long term. You’ve got to find something deeper than money. In my experience it has to be something that creates value. You only advance if you create and add value.

My friend, Garry Vaynerchuk, in his book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, writes about how in this economy you have to give, give, give before you can receive. Most of the companies that are failing are trying to take, take, take, without adding value. You will not believe the number of emails I receive everyday, where people say: “I can help your company, I can do this, I can do this, pay me money and I can do this.” Only about 1 out of 10 actually reach out and say: “I created five visuals for you, I also wrote an article about you, and I’m going to get it out there. I’ve emailed my list, here’s the value, let us know if you want our services.”

I will say, “Yes!” in two seconds, because they’ve already added value. So people just expect to get things, without giving, when the whole purpose of business is creating raving fans. And the only way to create raving fans is to actually add value without expecting things in return. I am friends with the vice president of the LA Clippers, Kevin Eastman, and he says that when he meets somebody he gives as much as he can as far as help, connections, expertise, for a whole year without asking for anything in return.

That’s hard to do! But that’s why he is where he is. He’s at one of the top positions in basketball. The reality is, you need money. It’s extremely important. I dedicate an entire chapter to money. It’s called “Money Matters.” Don’t let people tell you: “Money is the root of all evil. I don’t need money.” Those people will always be broke. They don’t understand that money is a tool to expand their reach, to impact more people, to shift our culture and change the world. I know a lot of broke geniuses who say they don’t care about money, and yet there’s no one that they’re helping.

Money is not about the physical, money is about expanding your reach, it’s about giving you greater peace of mind so you’re more creative. It can help you inspire people and give your family security. One of your focuses as a person should be to keep a security blanket around your family and to make sure you have the money to let them do what they want when they want, and also to give yourself flexibility and freedom.

You’ve got to give before you can get. Understand the importance of money, and you also have to learn how to make money, you need to know the importance of money. One of the reasons I think people don’t want to talk about money, and making money, is because it’s hard to make money. So they think that if it’s hard then why do it. But you have to just tell yourself that if you become more valuable to the marketplace and you continue to work on yourself, the money will come to you, period.

Hasan Azad: To go back to some of the things you said earlier, it requires reprogramming, just to think of money in a completely new way. As opposed to thinking “What can I get out if this?,” you say “How can I give.” I really love that.

Peter Voogd: It’s a different way of thinking. It’s the new philosophy of entrepreneurship.

Hasan Azad: I really believe that it’s the way forward. I can’t see how it can be any other way. Every other way has failed, or if it’s lucrative, then it’s at the expense of real integrity, and the idea of community is forgotten. I think that’s one of the reasons why we’re in some of the dire straits that we’re in on a societal level.

Peter Voogd: Definitely.

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  • About the autor
    Hasan Azad

    Hasan Azad is a doctoral candidate specialising in Islamic Studies at Columbia University. @1hasanAzad

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