Demir Bentley on Clarity, Power & Follow-through
Marni Melrose 0:01
All right, so today on the Entire Life summit, I have Demir Bentley. Why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself? Where you come from? Where are you now? I can see in the background there looks pretty exotic, and how that has changed your life?
Demir Bentley 0:26
I'll give the short version, if you want to dig into anything more, you just let me know. So, short version is ... I feel like I've lived really two very different lives and been two very different people in those lives. In my first life I was sort of really driven, with a chip on my shoulder to prove that I could be as good as anybody else. Despite, coming from a really tough family background and always trying to catch up in terms of my grades. I always felt like I was trying so hard to be at the big kids table. In that version of my life everything was driven by seeing myself promoted at a bigger level and to a certain extent, I got what I asked for, so watch out for what you ask for. I got it, I was able to go on CNBC and Fox Business News and Bloomberg and, I achieved something. I don't know if it was worth the price, but I definitely achieved it. I was able to achieve a really high level in New York in finance and the price was that I pretty much exploded my internals, my stomach. And my body just sort of said no. Then, there was this dividing line moment, where I just recognized that the whole way that I was operating in life wasn't working. It really ... I could say that the way I was treating my body wasn't working, but, the way I was working wasn't working the way I was treating my body wasn't working, my relationships, weren't working and probably most importantly, my modus operandi. The reason that I did everything, which was to promote myself, let's be honest. I just wanted to be big. I wanted to be important. It just wasn't working. It felt like I had the reverse Midas touch that no matter how every time I got to a new level, I somehow ruined it. It just ... yeah, and it just imploded. So, I was going up, but it was just getting worse, the higher I win, and more intolerable. Then, there was a second phase of my life where I changed almost everything about how I thought about myself, how I operated, my productivity, my health. And now, no matter how hard things get, it feels like I love it. So, that's my story. I'm happy to tell you anything else but ...
Marni Melrose 2:49
Ah, that's beautiful. That's beautiful. So, tell us a little bit about that. So, for instance, where are you right now?
Demir Bentley 2:58
Yeah, so my wife and I ... We're the, digital nomad crew. And so, for - I think about three years, we were traveling every two weeks to two months. Then, we got to a point that almost anybody who's a digital nomad will get to a certain point where like, I got to have at least a base of operations. So, we bought a house here in Medellín, Columbia. I'll skip the whole thing where I just sing the praises of Medellín, but we just we got here and we were just like, this is it. This is what we're looking for, it's three hours from Florida, five hours from New York City. We're in the same times ... we're like, this is it. We bought a house here and we've had a kid here and we just absolutely love being here.
Marni Melrose 3:38
That's wonderful. That's wonderful. I love to hear that. I love stories like that. You know, the thing is, as a business owner, you can decide what sort of life you want to create. That's really what the summit is all about. Right? Taking control of your life and creating a life rather than having a life created for you. Makes sense?
Demir Bentley 4:04
It does. I'll just add one thing, and this is probably me speaking for me, I'm not going to speak for anybody else. But I see so many people who become a business owner, but, they feel like everything that was wrong was external, my boss sucked or my career sucked or that industry sucked, it was all external. What I see is they bring the same sort of flawed values, and flawed thinking into a business, and you've heard this before, the worst boss in the world is you being the boss of yourself. So, when I started a business, and I encourage everybody to think like this, when I started a business, I didn't just change my environment. I changed all of my values and a lot of what ... even how I defined success, so that I could actually enjoy the process of achieving success. Not just get to a point where ... I see so many people, and I'm sure you see this, where they become their own boss. Then they force themselves into the life that is worse than the life they were leaving. I'd love this saying, who said it to me the other day, they said,"I left my ... I left my career, so I didn't have to work 40 hours and now I work 100 hours", or something like that, you know...
Marni Melrose 5:25
Yes, we won't call that a successful business owner.
Demir Bentley 5:32
Its common though.
Marni Melrose 5:33
That's the key of why this is called Entire Life summit. And the app that we're creating is so that business owners can manage their entire lives. I really think that task and project management software is not built for that it's built for the employees and it's not built for the business owner. I need to be able to see 25 years, 10 years, 5 years what's coming down the pipe? Do these things fit with the core values of myself as a business owner and where I want to take it? Yeah, we're right ... We're right on the same track. So, I want to hear your views on clarity. How do you get clarity for yourself or for the clients that you work with?
Demir Bentley 6:28
I mean, we have something that we do in Lifehack tribe called the life map. And I like to call it a model of your life in success. Just like in economics, models aren't perfect, right? Models are simplified, and yet they're extremely helpful in that they simplify. For me, I have an 8½ by 11 sheet of paper. It's very popular these days to have like a 36 page ... It's like if 36 pages you're not going to read every day, and if you don't read it every day, it means you're not in a relationship with it. To me, I have an 8½ by 11 sheet of paper as my mission, my vision and then what I call a leverage letter; what I need to do in the next 12, 6, 3, 1 month, one week and then today. Not all of the things I need to do, the one thing. So, that to me is ... I always like to say if I knocked my head on a rock and forgot everything that I know about productivity, please God, don't let me forget about my Life Map because if I had to give up all of the other tips and tricks and hacks that I had ... it's funny, it's paper, not digital. It's just a piece of paper. And yet that one thing, just sort of that one structure of starting from mission, aka, what's it all going to mean when I'm gone? Vision, what do I get out of it and then lining up - I call it lining up the green lights. Right. One of the things I like to say I live in a world ... This is just the perspective so take it ... one perspective among many, but I think we live in a personal development space of like, life is so beautiful and there's a natural flow where you get to have what you want, and you just need to get out of your way. I'm like, Dude, that sounds like a lot of bullshit to me. I live in a world where, life is entropy, life is chaos, like the natural world tends towards disorder. What's beautiful about humans is that we create order out of disorder. But we live in a world where if you leave a sandcastle out on the beach, and come back in a week, it's not going to be a better sandcastle. It's going to be disordered, right. And we also have other people competing and other conflicting desires, competing for limited resources. So, to me, I'm never surprised that things don't go my way. I think about it and like, well, that's the ... my job is I'm the order in the chaos, right? So, I'm not surprised that things didn't go my way I expect it without being pessimistic or negative. But what I love about my life map is if there's 1000 ways I don't get what I want this year. My life map represents that one path where I do. It's me lining up the green lights and really saying, Hey, this is the critical path where things do come together. Does it always happen that way? No, but I find that when I'm really aligned around that, boy, it just feels so powerful. Then, I'm never in uncertainty. Any point in my week or my day when I'm like ... and believe me I get this way to I'm a productivity ... I get moments where I'm like, "How should I ... even be doing right now? Like, what is my name? I feel like, What's my name? Am I a man looking down my pants, I forget everything. I forget my name and my ... I feel like, what's going on? Is the sky blue? I get in these really disordered states, and so being able to open my life map almost brings me back to myself. Okay, this is who I am. This is the plan.
Marni Melrose 9:47
You are so similar to me. This is the first time that we've talked, because I was talking to your wife, Carrie. I didn't actually know that there was ... because, yeah. After working with clients at the end of the day, I'm just like, "Don't ask me anything. I know nothing." Right? I'm just ... I'm spent, done. The reason I'm creating EntireTask is that if I don't have exactly what you're talking about, there available to me. I just ... I'm lost in a sea, lost.
Demir Bentley 10:28
I think, this is great about having a broken brain is that people who are slightly more functional than me, have the illusion that they can keep it all up here. And they try really hard. The good thing about how broken my brain is, is I don't suffer from that illusion. I use the tools that I that I have. I use the life map. I use ... I'm interested in to learn more about EntireTask, but I have Asana. I use these external tools because I know this. I can't store it all up here. Just doesn't work, right. I have so many high functioning clients. In a weird way, one of the hardest things for them to get over is the idea that they can operate from here. That they don't want to use external tools. They have this feeling of like, "No I can hold it all up here." And it's starting to slowly break down. And it's like, there's something great about letting go and being like, "no, I need to trust my systems."
Marni Melrose 11:21
Yes, yes. Oh, my God. Yes. You and I have to definitely sit down. We're right on the same track. You know, it's interesting neurologically, our brains are not a holding mechanism. They're not. They're a creation mechanism. That's why we need these systems. The problem is, is that the more you try to hold, the harder it is for your brain to create, because it's like, I can either hold on to this or we can think about something new. And it can't do both at the same time. So, really, when we talk about clarity for me, I get clarity when I empty ... when I empty and I put it in those structures, right?
Demir Bentley 12:17
Most of the things that we create as human beings ... like, for example, dogs, which we made a mistake, created. We created dogs they didn't exist before. So, when you look at a dog, people will say, "Are you looking at human beings a reflection of human beings?" I'm like, "No, what you're looking at is what we need." Right? So, are we like dogs? Are we completely loyal? And like, no, we're, not. Right? We're treacherous. We're like, fickle. So, we created dogs to give us what we needed. Similarly, computers are not a reflection of how our brain works. They're a reflection of how our brain doesn't work. So, everything that your brain can't do well is what a computer does, perfectly, holding dates, setting reminders, like doing massive calculations. So, I always say lean into that, like computers are the missed ... It's like the opposite piece of the puzzle that just clicks right in. Where it's like, Hey, I can't remember dates. Perfect. That's why I have a calendar, you know? Ah,
Marni Melrose 13:12
Yeah. That's why we shouldn't be afraid of AI either. AI is not generative, you know, it can help us in so many ways. Some of the algorithms that we're building into EntireTask are for exactly that, so that we don't have to do the little stuff that we don't need to do. We can have the systems do it, rather than we ... and then we can do more fun stuff. So, talking about fun stuff, power. Now, power. I know, there are probably days when you have had a day. And you're just like, what am I doing wrong? Why am I doing this? How do you find the power or the willpower to continue on to go forward when things aren't going right?
Demir Bentley 14:11
So, one of my philosophies is, I think we tend ... I don't know if this is a US thing, or it's just a human thing, but I'm such a product of the United States that maybe I can't even tell the difference anymore. But I tend to think that we want to look for that ... that extreme that is perfectly right. What I've learned to do is understand that in most major areas of life that are really important, what we're really seeking is a balance between two extremes that takin by themselves would be idiotic. So, for example, right? On one hand, absolute grind is idiotic, like being the kind of person who no matter whether you're sick or just not feeling it, or if you're spiritually sick that you just push through and believe me, that's who I was. I was the guy who was just like, I'm going to push through no matter what. And I gave myself so much credit for being ... I'm sick. People were like why don't you go home and rest and i'm like, "No I'm here and I'm working." That was me and taken to that extreme. It's idiocy. It's lunacy. Right? On the other hand, if we take the opposite extreme of just being like "Oh, I've got a little sniffle, I guess I can't work today," then obviously there's no ... So, those two things exist in a tension where you're finding the efficient frontier of between those two sort of forces in tension. For me, I will say that I think about myself as like one of those people on the high wire. Won't go too far one way, like compensating the other way. Are there weeks or days ... and I stole this from Caitlin Pyle, shout out. Caitlin Pyle. She coined this term of BAM day BAM stands for bare ass minimum. This is the day when I'm just going to do the bare ass minimum. It's a BAM day. Man, I heard that, and I thought, Oh, that just epitomizes ... just some days when I look at my wife and I'm like, "I'm sorry, this is a BAM day." I'm just not feeling it - and yet there are moments when I recognized that life, my business, my vision is calling me forward despite a temporary feeling of low energy. Or sometimes, I've had moments when I've been like - had food poisoning and I had to do a really important speech. There are moments that life calls you forward - and to play hurt, to say, 'Hey, you know what, I do have an injured knee, but I need to go play anyways.' So-- I know for me in those moments when I have to play hurt, it's funny that you said - I forget how you phrased it, but it reminded me of - I switched the question, because when I asked myself, how do I feel? The answer always comes back hungry, angry, lonely, tired, right? I mean, it's the same thing. I never got a good answer from, 'How do I feel?' 'Oh, I'm bored.' You know, 'I'm frustrated.' When I ask myself a better question, which is, 'What am I committed to?' So often when I'm sitting in front of my computer and I'm praying, "God strike me down. I don't want to do this right now." I realized that I'm in such a selfish and self-centered place. If I can ask a higher quality question ... Well, guess what? Now I asked, "What am I committed to? I'm committed to my wife. I'm committed to my daughter. I'm committed to my community." That will move me through and then funny enough, 30 minutes later, I'm usually back.
Marni Melrose 17:31
Demir Bentley 17:31
I'm back. I'm fine. You know - because once I'm in the process, and once I'm coaching and once I'm doing the things that I do, I'm fine. But I just get these moments of just like, 'God, strike me down. I don't want to do this.' And I feel like asking that higher quality question of like, "What do I stand for?" So, I guess in short, it's a two parter, right? One is, I try to give myself the grace to have a day where I'm like, "It's a movie day. Let's go to the movie theater and like, catch a matinee - and that's part of the lifestyle that I designed for myself as an entrepreneur to be able to have the grace in the space to do that. But also, I --that's in tension with the moments when I say, 'No. Demir, you can't do that. It's time. You need to ask yourself what do you stand for and step into that?'
Marni Melrose 18:17
Yeah. Yeah, you know, a - similar we were just talking about the Coronavirus. I was down - I must have slept for like two weeks. And I was basically down for about six weeks completely. But I kept working on this summit through the whole thing, because I had started in February and I was committed to the date of the launch. So, those pockets - when my body was cooperating with me, I'm like, "I'm just going to work on a little bit. I'm just going to work on it a little bit.", playing hurt right. And what the virus has helped me with too is paying more attention to my body and saying, Okay, we need to stop. I hear you. Okay? We need to just relax a little bit, slow down a little bit - and I think I've gotten better at that with age. But you asked 23 year old me-- 23 year old me was working till two-three in the morning, right? 52 year old me is like, Okay, like seven o'clock we're not doing this anymore.
Demir Bentley 19:34
I hear you, I hear you.
Marni Melrose 19:37
Awesome, awesome. And so, now that we've covered clarity and power, how about follow-through. What structures do you put in place? Or, do you help your clients put in place to follow-through now that you've got the clarity and the power and you're committed to doing something? What helps you follow-through on that.
Demir Bentley 20:00
I mean, this is-- this is my lane, right? I mean, we're all about at Lifehack method showing people how to embrace systems, embrace discipline. So, rather than - I mean, once I get pulled down into that, and you get me to conversation about the tools like I go crazy - but staying at the 5000 foot view, I think the most helpful thing is that I'm what you call advanced, lazy, right? And advanced laziness is that I will work for 30 hours on something, so I don't have to work on it for one hour every week. Like, I want to, like I can show amazing resilience in getting something completely off my plate, because I just - am not the kind of person who wants to do a little bit every day. I'd rather do a lot once then never have to do it again. Right?
Marni Melrose 20:46
Demir Bentley 20:47
Like, yeah, if I could, I will-- I will lift mountains with a single pinky if I believe that I won't have to do something that I don't want to do ever again right. And so for-- So, this makes me really good at systems creation and SOPs - SOPs, for those who don't know, stands for standard operating procedure. So, for me, I'm the kind of person who believes - and this is pretty contrary, a lot of business owners are told and want to believe that for the most vexing things in their business, they can hire somebody else to just take that problem away from you. And my experience - and just mine, but I've seen it with my clients too, is that every single time I've tried to hire somebody to take a problem away from me, who was an expert - they have done a terrible job that totally stuffed it up. And the final result was like, 'What!' Worst story of our we hired somebody who was like $25,000 we didn't want to do sales. So, our story was like-- I'm a coach. My wife is like really good at this, and I'm really good at this, and I don't want to do sales and marketing that's icky. So, we hire this $25,000 coach, came recommended with like the most incredible bona fides. Right. We hired this person and their final product was a laughable - I mean, it was the worst thing in the world - and I have to say, I look back on that with so much gratitude because if I needed to spend $25,000, to learn the lesson, that nobody's going to wash the toilets, in your business. You need to do every single job in your business at least once. So, my philosophy is, do it once, do it perfectly-- create a system for it and then get it off and never do it again. Right? And the things that you have uncertainty about and lack of clarity, those are exactly - your lack of clarity is what's holding the business back. When you go to a Facebook ... like 99% of the things that we think we want done, you can learn on YouTube. For example, Facebook ads everybody says, 'I don't know, oh, my goodness, Facebook ads, it's so scary. How do I do Facebook ads?' The truth is, is that you could go online, watch a YouTube tutorial, and have your first Facebook ad up in like, two hours.
Marni Melrose 23:01
Demir Bentley 23:02
Putting the ad up isn't the problem. What's the hard part? The hard part is understanding who your client is. Understanding how to talk to them. Creating Ad copy that makes them want to click and then giving them a great opportunity. That's something that somebody else can't do for your business, you've got to do that and when I finally got over that, and recognized, if a toilet needs to be cleaned my business, guess who's doing it. I've got to do it and I've got to make a video that says here's exactly how to clean the toilet and then I won't ever have to do it again. So, I have sort of what I call a positively pessimistic view, which is, I don't think anybody's going to take any problems away from you. I assume every problem that that visits my business, I can get advice on it, and counseling, but ultimately, it's going to be me who has to do it. I'm going to have to make the hard calls and I'm going to have to do it and then systematize it and get it off. So, what I've done is-- over the course of every single week I'm doing SOPs, every single month of doing SOPs, I like to say - I'm not doing everything every week but over the course of the last five years, I've done everything and sort of defined exactly how I want to do it and then have moved it off or have ironed out all of the sort of like rough edges of it. So, that at this point, yes I only do one thing at a time. But I do it in such a way as it's giving me that acceleration and we can we can outsource it. So, that's-- to me, the follow-through is all about - focus on one thing at a time, let one week just be-- I'm an obsessive so I just got obsessed with one thing per week. Just be obsessed with one thing per week and then be systematic about moving that off your plate. If you're creating one new system a week, one new system a week, one new system a week - two years later, you've got hundreds of systems operating for you and your business.
Marni Melrose 24:53
And, it's magnified because - you know as a growth master. I've worked with startups and helping them grow. It's just little things like that but the compound - the compound is what makes such a huge difference. So, those little 52 weeks could end up with a 200, 300, 400 percent increase over two years, right?
Demir Bentley 25:21
I always get people saying, 'I don't have five hours to create an SOP.' Here's another way to think about it is, everything that you touch gets 1% better. If you bring that attitude of, I'm not just going to do my taxes this year. I'm going to do them in such a way as next year's taxes are at least 1% easier to do. Now, you're thinking in a sort of like leveraged way. How do I not just do something but make it easier for my future self. When you just play that game, again and again and again, you have that perspective. Boy, there's nothing better than that. I mean today, I work-- I used to work 80 hours a week when I was in real estate, I work no more than 35 hours a week and every single day in the middle of the day I take a nap. I just finished my nap.
So, I'm a big napper. I'm all about napping. So, to me, and a lot of people are like, how can you?-- It's funny, when I started this I had a mentor for getting into the personal development space. And then - I've been in this five years - about the three year mark, my mentor came back to me and said, "I know this sounds weird, but I want you to mentor me because you guys have made so much progress in such a short amount of time. I need to understand what you guys are doing." A lot of people from the outside will say, You guys must to be killing yourself. And it's like, No. It's that we won't take action. If it's not leveraged. I've always got to be doing something. The fantastic book, The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, presents a leveraging question for, What can you do such that by doing it, everything else becomes easier or unnecessary? And if you just literally-- I would say I don't have a religion. I'm not particularly religious, but if I did, that would be it.
Marni Melrose 26:57
That would be it.
Demir Bentley 26:58
I'm the religion of leverage. Everything I do I want to make it 1% better.
Marni Melrose 27:04
That's awesome and that's probably why you are so good at what you do. So, speaking of that, tell us what you, What gift you have for our attendees today.
Demir Bentley 27:15
Yes, so Lifehack method is all about-- you guys aren't going to go out and put in the 10,000 hours to try to read every single productivity book and work every single system and try to like derive it down. That's what we're here for. We are really just like a pro sports team for productivity, right? And so, we have a community that's just saying, 'Hey, we're going to teach you this stuff, and we're going to support you to do it.' So, part of that is getting your morning routines in order. That's a big thing that a lot of people know they need to do. So, what we're going to give away for free today is a morning and evening routines, sort of roadmap - so that you can start to look and use some of our techniques and tricks to dial in your morning routine.
Marni Melrose 27:55
Awesome. I'm going to get that too. I'm totally-- I'm like, I like this guy. I'm going to go sign up for that. So, down below your interview here, I'm going to post that so that people can grab that. So, thank you so much Demir for coming on today. It's been a total pleasure. And it's-- I never knew that you and I were so similar
Demir Bentley 28:26
well, listen, it's been a pleasure. Thank you so much for having me on.
Marni Melrose 28:28