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Improvement From Subtraction

Blog video by Sam Ovens

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Warren Buffett said: "I want to know where I'm going to die so that I never go there".

The best way to improve your life and business is to avoid catastrophic errors. The major lesson is “ignorance removal” and the notion that decision-making is not about making brilliant decision, but avoiding terrible ones.

Most people try to improve through addition, when you've really mastered something, you'll learn that improvement comes from subtraction. MORE with LESS.

As you plan your goals and new years resolutions for 2019, make sure you set goals to remove things. Not just add new things.

Today's video shows you how its done! 

Check it out and let me know what you think in the comments below?

Here's what we cover:

1. Why right now is the perfect time to set goals for 2019 and the behavior that's needed to achieve these goals.

2. Why it takes change to get change and if you do the same thing you did last year, you'll get what you got last year. 

3. Why Warren Buffett said: "I want to know where I'm going to die so that I never go there". And what he means.

4. Why the best decision making strategy is to avoid doing stupid shit. It's all about "ignorance removal". 

5. Why the removal of things has made the most profound impact on my life and business over my 6-years in business.

6. Why the 1 best decision I've ever made was to stop going out and getting drunk. Not some advanced tactic or software.

7. A list of things that are stupid and harmful. (stop doing these things and you'll improve a ton).

8. Why most peoples emotions are like a turbulent wave pool and how this renders people hopeless and destined to fail. And how to fix it. (powerful).

Resources to help you plan for 2019:

How to create the ultimate plan -- Get 4 free tools + instructions here.

To Your Success!

Sam Ovens & the team at


Hey everyone, Sam Ovens here. In today's video I want to talk to you about improvement from subtraction. You probably noticed I'm sitting by this fire. I'm sitting by this fire because it's pretty damn cold this morning. It's quite funny, when I first moved to this new place in LA, it was really hot when we first moved here. I thought, "What the hell are these three fireplaces doing in this house? What purpose do these three fireplaces serve, because this place is hot? It seemed kind of like a stupid thing, but now that we're in winter I can see what these things are for, because while LA gets quite warm during the day when the sun comes out and all of that, at night and in the morning there's a real cold snap. It actually gets quite cold over here, which I wasn't even aware of. So that is why I'm sitting by this fireplace today. What I want to talk to you about today is improvement from subtraction. Right now we are [inaudible 00:01:05] in 2019, and this is the perfect time to think about what you want to achieve this year and how you're going to achieve it. So it's not just about setting goals, but then it's thinking, "Well what actions do I need to take so that I can achieve these goals?" If what you want to achieve is something that you haven't achieved, then it's quite obvious that it's going to take a change in behavior to get it. Because if you continue behaving the same way you behaved last year, then you'll get what you got last year. So, this is thing that people don't understand about goals. You don't just set a goal and then it comes true. You have to set a goal, and then change your behavior. You have to change a lot of things. You have to change who you are, you have to change what you do, you have to change your habits, your routines. You have to change a lot of things if you ... If you want change, it takes change to get it. Over the past few days I've taken some time to reflect on the year that it's been, and pretty much all the years that have been since I started in business, about six or seven years ago. One thing that fascinates me a lot is that it's often the subtraction and the removal of things that helps me make the biggest leaps and bounds in progress. What I mean by that is, a lot of people they think, "If I want to improve my life or if I want to achieve this goal or grow my business or do whatever, then I need to do more stuff. I need to add more things to the plate." What I've noticed is that this isn't the way. Like, it's not about doing more. Quite often, it's about removing things, and there's a special type of thing that is so easy to remove, and it has profound effects on your results. It could be summarized pretty simply by just saying, "Don't do stupid shit." That's basically like the best piece of I advice I could give you. What I mean by that is, I think Warren Buffett describes it best. He said, "I want to know where I'm going to die, so that I never go there." What he's trying to say is, by avoiding errors especially avoiding catastrophic errors, that is one of the best strategies for winning. And, a lot of people don't look at it like this. A lot of people they're the optimists, and so what they do is they look at just the upside of things. They look at, "Oh, if I go to these events, if I go to these networking events, or if I build more product, start more businesses, then that's more potential upside." But what they never look at is the downside, right? But what's a really important thing in business and in life, is to look at both, the upside and the downside. And really, you should pay more attention to the downside than the up, because what you're really optimizing for ... Your number one priority is survival, and after that it's winning. But a lot of people just try to win and don't pay any attention to the downsides or any attention to survival, and they often ... I see this everywhere throughout the human race basically. I'll give you an example in like the fitness, health and fitness industry. So, if you want to be healthy and fit, then all you really need to do is sleep eight hours a night, exercise five times a week, and eat healthy food, and stay hydrated. That's it. That's all there is, but it's made infinitely complex with all of these diet plans, with all of these different supplements, with all of this different ... all of these different shoes, this training equipment, and all of these apps, and all of this tracking stuff. It gets very complicated, and then what you end up with is, you end up with people that have $400 shoes, they've got all of these apps and technology, and a Fitbit and things. Then, they're having all of these supplements, but then they eat shitty food and they drink alcohol, and they don't get enough sleep. Then, that just doesn't make any sense. They're focusing on things with very little upside, and they're avoiding the things and just acting like they don't exist to the things that have massive downside. This is what people do everywhere. They kind of get obsessed about the small little add-ons, but they forget about removing the massive catastrophic downsides. This was true with me in business too. When I first got started, I would focus on doing more things. Like, I would try to ... I'd try to master funnels, or landing pages, or ads. I would try to master copyrighting, and all of these tactical things. And don't get me wrong, these things helped, but I was just blatantly ignoring some of the big, stupid things I was doing. Mainly the number one thing was going out pretty much every Friday and Saturday and getting drunk. I was just like, "Oh, that just doesn't matter," and I would just focus on learning more tactics. When I was doing this ... If I went out and got drunk, it wasn't just that I wouldn't be productive Saturday or Sunday, I wouldn't be productive Monday, Tuesday, or pretty much Wednesday either. And I'd pretty much, by the time I got back into having no brain fog and being focused and alert again, it was pretty much Friday and that's the night that I'd be out drinking again. So, it had very massive consequences on my productivity, my mindset, on everything. Then, when I moved to New York about three years ago, I just stopped drinking completely. Honestly, that is the one thing that I've done that has made the most difference in my business and in my life. Just stop drinking and going out and getting drunk. I haven't been drunk in three years. So, that is so simple. Like, a lot of people write that off. They'll think, "Oh that's too simple. I want something that's more tactical, something more advanced, like what color, what shade of blue should I have on my call to action button, so that I can get an increase in conversion rate." Honestly most of you guys, you're not going to get much of an upside by split testing a button color. Where you're going to get most of your upside is by removing the doing of things that are stupid. That is where the biggest gains are. Like, if you're somebody that smokes weed all the time, if you stop that then you'll get a huge upside. If you're somebody that drinks alcohol, if you stop that you'll get a huge upside. If you're someone that eats a lot of bad food or a lot of sugar, then you'll have a big upside. If you've got a bad habit with sleep, if you fix that, massive upside. If you're addicted to things, by removing those you'll have a huge upside. So, it's not just like people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol or things like that. It's also people who are addicted to social media. If you break that, then you'll have a huge upside. Then if you're addicted to watching TV series or if you're addicted to watching Netflix or if you're addicted to reading some type of news, or addicted to your smartphone and the apps on it ... and another big one is gaming. If you are a professional gamer and what you want to be in life is a professional gamer, then by all means continue to play games, because that is what you're trying to do. But where I see a massive problem is people who want to be like a professional business person, start a massive company, and be an entrepreneur, but they also want to be a professional video game player. That's very hard to do. You have to really commit. People who are really good at gaming, they'll just play video games all day. That is their life. People who are good at business, they'll just do business all day. That is their life. So if you are in business and you really want to be an entrepreneur and that's more important to you than gaming, then stop playing games. Go smash your Xbox or PlayStation or uninstall all the games off your computer, and just stop doing that. This is pretty much my point for today's video. It's improvement from subtraction. You don't need to add more things to your plate to get an improvement in your goals, and your life, and your business, or everything. You just need to look at the things that you're doing that are stupid, and then remove them. I can tell the big ones that I did. There was partying, there was drinking, there was also eating bad food. I didn't used to exercise at all. I was fat and lazy, and my mind was always like foggy. My mood was very chaotic and wavy. By removing sugar, fast food, processed food, and by sleeping properly, and by exercising properly, and through meditation, I was able to really calm this turbulent wave pool of emotion to a nice flat-like water surface. That was ... and what I'm talking about here is like my emotions. If you are playing with ... If you go out and you drink alcohol and your sleep's all over the place, and if you're also not getting enough sleep, or you're not exercising and you're eating bad food, your emotions are going to just be all over the place and unpredictable. Like in the middle of the day, for no apparent reason at all, you might just start feeling worried or frightened or anxious or scared or sad, for no actual, factual reason. So, if that starts happening to you, then you really are kind of screwed. You should respond to stimuli that your body should respond to. Like if you walk out and there is a massive dog that looks like it's going to attack you, then you should respond to that. You should get anxious. You should be scared, and your fight or flight response should turn on, and you should get the hell out of there. That's what it's for. But what happens with people that don't sleep properly, they eat poorly, or they're drinking alcohol, and things like that, these ... without any stimuli from their environment, all of these different states get triggered. These different moods gets triggered, and they're all over the place for no apparent reason. When your emotions and your mind are like this big, turbulent wave pool, then it's very hard to get things done, and it's very hard to make rational decisions, and it's very hard to grow a business or do anything meaningful. So just by the removal of those things, you can get massive upside. Why I'm telling this to you is because, it's honestly just so simple. It's a lot easier than other things. Like I could do a video on some advanced Facebook ads training or building out marketing automation campaigns, or we could get into all sorts of different stuff, but really the biggest gains that you've got to make this year are just by not doing stupid shit. Seriously. Make a list of all the stuff you do that's stupid, and then stop doing it, and then you'll have massive gains. Only once all things you do that are stupid are removed, should you even look at doing more advanced things, because it makes sense to do the simple, massive gain things first before getting into the advanced, small gain things, that if you're working on those advanced things ... If you're like the person trying to lose weight and be healthy that's taking supplements and wearing $400 Nike's and is on the latest diet plan, but is going out on the weekend and drinking and getting no sleep, then you're an idiot and you should fix it. Because it's the big things that have ... It's the simple things that have big, massive compounding effects. You want to focus on those ones first, and once you've exhausted all of those ones, then you want to look at the more advanced things. That is how you'll make the most improvement. So, that's it for this video today. I just wanted to make this quick ... a quick one, just to show you how to plan for the new year. When you're making that new year's list of things you're going to achieve and your new year's resolutions, instead of trying to add on more stuff, try to take away dumb stuff. That is how you'll get the most gains this year in 2019. Now, if you like this video, just click that like button, and also click that subscribe button. I release a video like this once per week, and I also release customer interviews, live-stream Q & A's, and things like that. So thanks for watching this one, and I look forward to seeing you in the next video soon.