The FORMULA for Success (Transcript)

I didn’t understand why these successful people wouldn’t just tell me what to do! Were they being stingy or is there simply not a formula for success? Do we all just need to “find our own way?”

What I want to know is: is that the truth? Is there really only one way to success?

In today’s episode, I talk about what I think are the two main reasons why people tell you that there isn’t a formula for success and what do with that.

This is a transcript of Work Less, Earn More, Episode 27. Listen to the episode here.

We became entrepreneurs because, more than anything, we want freedom. We want to be in control of our own schedule, income, and life. But unfortunately, that isn’t always the reality of being a business owner. I’m Gillian Perkins, and I’m on a mission to take back entrepreneurship for what it’s supposed to be. In every episode, I’ll share with you how to get the most out of every hour you work, so that you can work less and earn more. Let’s get to it.

I get it. I’ve been there. I wanted to be successful, and I didn’t know how because I wasn’t successful yet. So I did what I thought was the right thing, and I asked for advice. I found people who I considered to be successful, and I asked them what it took to get where they were and what I needed to do. I was looking for a formula, but what I found was so generic and incredibly unhelpful. I felt really frustrated, and I didn’t understand why these successful people wouldn’t just tell me what to do. Were they being stingy? Or is there simply not a formula for success? Do we all have to quote, find our own way? That’s something that I hear all the time, that there isn’t a formula for success, and we all have to find our own way.

But what I want to know is, is that the truth? I think that there are two main reasons why people tell you that there isn’t a formula for success. The first one is that they don’t know the formula for success, so they just declare that there isn’t one. They think that since they haven’t found it, it isn’t out there. The second reason, and honestly, the real, deeper, bigger reason is that if we are just looking for a formula for success, and success isn’t defined, then the answer is that there isn’t a formula for success.

Let me give you an analogy here. What if you were to ask, is there a recipe for making good food? What would the answer to that question be? Is there a recipe for making good food? Well, I mean, yes and no, but mostly no, right? I mean, there are principles you can follow to make good food, having a balance between salty, sweet, savory, and bitter, using fat and salt to enhance flavor, generally, but not always, and making sure that you taste what you’re cooking and you adjust from there. Those are all principles for making good food, but they’re not a recipe for making good food. Now, there are lots of recipes out there that make things that we would call good food, but there can’t be a recipe for quote, good food, because there are so many different types of good food.

Well, success is exactly the same. Success can mean so many different things. You could be a successful Olympic athlete, a successful mom. You could build a successful business or a successful sporting goods store or a successful marketing agency. You could become financially successful, or you could be healthy or intelligent or connected or happy and call any of those things success. And of course, the point here is not at all that there’s a right way or a wrong way to be successful, but that success means different things to different people, and what people call success can look like a lot of different things.

And because of that, there isn’t, and there really can’t be, a step-by-step formula for generic success because there isn’t such a thing as generic success. And that is why so much success advice seems so generic in and of itself, because it’s one-size-fits-all advice. It’s advice that can help you regardless of what type of success that you’re trying to create, but it is not the specific advice or the specific step-by-step that you need in order to achieve any one of these flavors of success.

Now, I just want to emphasize here that generic doesn’t mean bad. This generic success advice can be incredibly helpful, but it’s generally not enough to achieve any of these particular types of success. In order to do that, we really need from general advice to specific advice. So, is there a one-size-fits-all approach? Not really for big picture success. That’s because people are different. They have different strengths and circumstances. They have different goals and definitions of success. And because stuff happens. We each run into our own unique challenges. But even though there isn’t and can’t be a one-size-fits-all approach for general success or big picture success, there definitely can be one-size-fits-all approaches or formulas for short-term specific outcomes. Just like we can’t have a recipe for, quote, good food, that doesn’t mean that there can’t be a very precise, specific recipe for you to follow to make a phenomenal chocolate cake.

I’ll also acknowledge here that even if you have an amazing recipe for a great chocolate cake and a proven recipe for a great chocolate cake, that doesn’t mean that it will always work every time. There might be something wrong with one of your ingredients that you don’t realize. Your dog might run through the kitchen while you’re baking the chocolate cake and knock you over, spilling everything. There are certainly unique challenges that can come up.

Or, another example, the recipe itself could be perfect, but if you need glasses in order to be able to read, and you’re not wearing your glasses, then the recipe won’t work for you, even though it’s a great recipe for chocolate cake. So yes, there can be formulas for achieving short term specific outcomes, and those formulas can be proven. They can truly work. But there are still things that can potentially come up that could stop them from working for you right now.

Going back to my original quandary, my original problem, wanting to become successful, looking for advice and not finding it, how could I have overcome that challenge? Well, what I was told I needed to do was to figure it out on my own, and, well, that ultimately did work, kind of. I don’t think that that’s actually what I did. Even though no one gave me the advice that I really needed, or at least they didn’t tell me they were giving me the advice, and so I tried to just figure it out on my own, what I really ended up doing was stringing together a series of small successes to reach my ultimate goal.

Now, if you try to just figure it out on your own, you are going to have to spend a lot more time learning everything for yourself. Now on the one hand, people talk all the time about, I learned everything for myself. I’m self-taught. But what they really mean there is that they went out and they learned each specific thing that they needed to learn for themselves. They didn’t reinvent the wheel. They didn’t reinvent the pencil. They used lots of tools that other people had created, and they learned lots of specific things from other people who had achieved success in those specific areas or who had reached those specific goals or who have done those things that they needed to do to reach their ultimate goal.

And the more intentional you can be about this, the more intentionally you can string together those small successes, the more quickly you will be able to achieve your ultimate goal, rather than just drifting through life and trying to, quote, figure it out on your own.

To make this as practical as possible, I want to walk you step-by-step through a formula for finding the formula for success that you’re looking for. You ready? Let’s do this.

Step number one is to define success. That means answering questions like what do you really want? What type of success are you trying to attain? And what would that look like? Answer each of these questions in detail. I would highly recommend writing down the answers so that you can work on refining your answers. If you just answer these questions to yourself right now, I mean, that’s a great first step, but once you write them down, then you’ll be able to iterate from there. You’ll be able to work on getting more clarity about exactly what you want because, personally, I’ve found that the more clarity I have about my objectives, the easier it is for me to achieve them.

And I’d heard people say that in the past, but what I’ve realized is why that is true. The more clear you are about the outcome you’re looking for, the better you’ll be able to figure out what the steps are that you need to take, and then you can go out there and find those recipes to achieve each of those specific steps. If your goal is big and undefined, then the steps will be undefined, and you’ll have to rely on that more generic advice, and you won’t be able to find as easily the specific steps that you need to take in order to achieve each of those milestones along the way.

This episode is brought to you by Startup Society. If you run an online business or you’re thinking about starting one, then Startup Society is the place for you. It’s a boot camp training program for entrepreneurs, plus an incredibly supportive membership community. If you’re looking for a framework to make building an online business as simple and straightforward as possible, then that’s exactly what you’ll find inside Startup Society. Every month, we create a step-by-step action plan for our members to follow to create a specific result in their business so that they can keep moving forward and growing. Past action plans have helped our members write their websites, launch online courses, and hire their first employees. And when you become a member, not only will you get access to our future action plans, but you’ll also get access to our entire library of past action plans, including the ones that I just mentioned.

You’ll also get business coaching directly from me during our live monthly coaching sessions. During these sessions, you can ask any business questions that you have so that you can make sure that you get the answers you need in order to be able to keep moving forward and not get stuck. As a member, you’ll also be invited into our membership community where you can connect with other online entrepreneurs who are crushing it so that you can be inspired and make some lasting connections.

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Once you’ve completed step one and you have defined success, then you can move on to step two, and that is to find people who have achieved that outcome that you are looking to achieve, that specific outcome. If you are trying to become a successful basketball player, you are going to seek out someone different than if you’re trying to become a successful online course creator. And even if you’re just trying to become a successful online course creator, that could look like a few different things. Maybe if you want to build a big business with a big team and hit the multimillion dollar sales mark, or maybe you want to be a solo-preneur who has one big launch per year or one really effective evergreen funnel and you want to work all on your own and just make plenty of money that you can travel around the world and have freedom to live as you like. You would seek out very different people to get advice from.

Once you find those people who have achieved the type of success you want to achieve, then you can move on to step three, and here you have two options, and it depends on who you found. If the people you identify and want to learn from are elusive, a little bit difficult to get in contact with, then you’ll need to take the first option and study them from afar. You can read their biography. You can follow them on social media. You can listen to what they’re teaching. But you need to study them. What did they do to get to where they are now?

The other thing you can do, and this will work if you have identified some people who have achieved success and they’re people that you can actually talk to, then you can talk to them. Tell them what you want. Don’t just ask for general tips. Don’t just ask them how to be more successful. Instead, tell them I want to achieve X, Y, Z, or I’m working to create blank, or I’m working to achieve blank. Okay? Tell them what you want and then ask for their specific advice on what you need to do in order to achieve that outcome.

Nine times out of 10, regardless of whether you’re studying people from afar, or you are directly talking to them, they are not going to lay out a complete plan to get you from where you’re at right now to where you want to go. There are simply too many steps along the way. There are too many nuances to the plan, and you have your own unique problems and circumstances that you’re going to have to figure out how to overcome. But they can at least point you in the right direction and help to give you the broad strokes so that you can then start to fill in each of those milestones with specific plans to reach them.

And that leads you into step four, which is to make a plan. Whatever your mentor tells you, you need to do in order to reach that goal, you need to write it down. I’d recommend writing it down as a step-by-step plan. Yes, there will be holes. Yes, you won’t know how to do everything on the list, most likely, and yes, you will have to fill in a lot more steps along the way. But you need to start with this big picture perspective, and you need to write it down so that you can really capture this information and you can revisit it time and time again.

Along with this, I really want you to understand that it is entirely okay and to be expected that you won’t know how to execute your entire plan. It will still be really helpful to have that big picture perspective. Knowing where you’re heading makes all the difference, and you really only need to know how to do that first step. And even if you don’t know how to do the first step, you at least know how to do the very first step, which can be to simply Google how to do the first step or ask your mentor how to do the first step or seek out someone who has done the first step and get advice from them. As you progress through your plan, you’ll find that each next step reveals itself, as you learn, as you grow, and as you do, so you really just need to trust the process here.

And that leads us to the fifth and final step of this process of finding a formula for success, which is to take action on the next step of your plan, which when you’re first starting out, that’ll be that first step. Like I said before, if you don’t know how to do the first step, then you have a step for that, which is to learn how to do the first step. You need to seek out a mentor for the first step, or just go to Google and start doing your research to learn how to do that first step.

I figured out this, quote, formula for success, through a lot of stumbling around and trying to become successful and finally realizing that success is, first of all, different for different people, which is why so much advice is so generic, and second of all, that success is built by achieving small successes that are strung together. That’s actually what led me to create Startup Society. Now, when I first started the program, I did it just because I was so frustrated with all the general and generic advice that was out there and all this non-actionable advice that I encountered. I had achieved some levels of success at that point, and even if it wasn’t the big picture success I was looking for, I’d figured out how to do a few things, how to grow an audience on YouTube, how to sign paying customers, how to create my website, just these practical, simple things that were helping me along the way, and I really wanted to share with people how to do those things and give them some specific advice. I wanted that practical, that tactical, that step-by-step.

Now, when I started the program, a lot of people actually told me that it was impossible because, quote, there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all, and so that I couldn’t create a program that would help people become more successful. But if there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s to not tell me that something is impossible or can’t be done because that immediately gets my mind working and trying to solve this problem of how to achieve the impossible, and once I get stuck on solving a problem, I really don’t stop until I find the solution. And so it really prompted me to dig in a lot deeper into what success means and how success can be achieved.

And that’s what’s led me to where I am today, where now, inside of Startup Society, what happens is we, each month, create these very step-by-step, very actionable action plans. They’re like mini courses for how to achieve specific results because while, no, there isn’t a formula for big picture success, because like I’ve said so many times in this episode, success means different things for different people, when a member comes in to Startup Society, they can first work on getting clarity about what success looks like for them, what they’re trying to achieve. And most people who’ve come in to Startup Society have a similar objective. They want to build an online business that allows them to work for themselves, but also hit big financial goals. And most people who come in to Startup Society have a pretty similar objective. They want to build an online business that allows them to work for themselves and also hit big financial goals.

And so what’s really cool about that is that that means that we have been able to think of all of the different steps that someone might need to, or generally needs to, take in order to achieve that outcome, and then we’ve created an action plan for each of those different steps. But if we tried to create this as just one cohesive program that everyone worked through in exactly the same way, that really wouldn’t work, because people would come into the program at different points in their life with different, unique challenges. But because we’ve made it so modular, the members can actually pick which action plans that they need to focus on, and then we can guide them to which action plan to continue their journey with to get closer and closer to ultimately achieving that goal. And this means that the program can be custom fit for each member’s unique circumstances and specific situation.

Now, if this model sounds interesting to you, you can learn more about Startup Society and how to sign up by just heading to But even if that isn’t your goal right now or you’re not interested in joining the program, there’s still something valuable that you can learn from this model that we’ve created inside the program. And what that is is that you can follow a very similar approach to reach whatever your goal is. You can start by defining that success you want to achieve, and then you can identify the specific steps you need to take to get there, and then you can work on making action plans for yourself, step-by-step plans of things you need to do in order to achieve each of those big picture steps or those milestones along the way.

And so we’ve figured that out over time by working with the members and seeing what worked for them and seeing what created the biggest and best results. But you can take what we’ve learned there and apply it to your own life to be able to become more successful in any aspect of your life where you have big goals.

That is everything for today’s episode. Thank you so much for joining me. Before we wrap this up, let me share with you a review that one of our listeners shared on Apple Podcasts. A listener wrote in and said, “Gillian is very practical and knowledgeable. I’m always surprised at how many ideas start flowing every time I listen to one of her YouTube videos or podcasts. I appreciate her transparency about her income and profitable versus not-so-profitable videos and products and her team’s responsiveness to email.” Thank you so much for that fantastic review, and friend, if you are listening right now and you have not yet left a review, then make sure you head to Apple Podcasts, look up, Work Less, Earn More, and leave a review of the show there because I would love to hear what you are enjoying about the show so that I can make even more episodes on your favorite topics.

I’d also love to give you a shout out, so make sure you sign it with your name and your business name. If you would, appreciate that. Thanks so much everyone for tuning in today. I’ll be back again next week with another episode, and until then, take care and stay focused.

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Work Less, Earn More. Now, here’s what I want you to do next. Take a screenshot of the episode you’re listening to right now and share it out on your Instagram stories. And when you do that, make sure to tag me @GillianZPerkins so that I can see that you’re listening. Sharing on stories is going to help more people find this podcast so that they can learn how to work less, earn more, and take back their lives. And when you share, I want to add it to my stories so that you can get some exposure that way as well. And if you really love the show, head over to Apple Podcasts and leave it a review to give the show a boost. Every single week, I feature a review on the podcast, and I would love to give you and your business a shout out. So if you leave a review, it will help the show, but it can also help your business, as well.

Okay, let’s wrap this up. I’m Gillian Perkins, and until next week, stay focused and take action.

    Sean McMullin

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