How The Pros Do It: 10 Questions With Nat Eliason

The only way to reach your targets in life is to get to work. But it’s easier said than done. Only a fraction of people in life are actively working towards their goals. They know how to create and use the right tools and processes to generate progress for themselves. A lot of these people have a ton of interesting things to say. So I thought I’d interview them.

Most of my weekly guests created their own business, and they got where they are today by successfully implementing self-discipline in their life. To each one of them, I ask questions about their life, their learnings, their tools, and sometimes about which celebrity they would like to have coffee with.

There are no rules for success, only consistency in the work you do. None of the people I interviewed are super-humans. They’re just dedicated, and they have a lot of awesome things to teach us.

Let’s get to it.

My guest this week series is Nat Eliason. Over the years, Nat has successfully launched many online ventures, from courses to phone apps, allowing him to become financially independent in his twenties. He is the founder and CEO of ​Growth Machine, an SEO and Content Marketing agency. He writes at ​ and has published all of his notes from reading 250+ books, articles, and speeches. He is also the co-founder of ​Cup & Leaf,​ a tea company and cafe in Austin.

1- Do you have a morning routine?

Not really. Recently I just roll out of bed, have some kind of protein shake, and head to the cafe to start the day. When I get there I’ll usually make some tea or coffee, burn down my email, then pick what I want to spend the next couple hours doing deep work on.

2- You’ve written a lot about Notion. What is the number one productivity tool and/or item you can’t live without?

I’m not sure there is one that I can’t live without for myself. For my team it’s definitely Asana, our work lives and dies there. It’s great. We use Notion quite a bit too but it feels more replaceable.

I’d say for myself right now, Roam Research is fantastic. Check with me in 6 months if I stuck with it though, most new tools have a very short half-life for me.

3- The One Book you recommend for self-improvement and/or productivity?

I’m having a hard time picking one for such a broad topic, it kind of depends on where the pain point is. Getting Results the Agile Way had one of the biggest impacts on me early on. For something higher level, Antifragile by Nassim Taleb. The Effective Executive is very good in the context of work. And though it’s not a book, I’d recommend the collected works of Tiago Forte.

4- Can you tell us about your use of journaling and goal tracking?

Journaling, I don’t. Goal tracking, I’ve been extremely inconsistent on and I’m not sure how useful it actually is. Every goal longer than a couple months ends up getting redirected in some interesting way, so I’ve stopped taking long tail goals seriously.

Now I keep it very simple by focusing on a few projects at a time, and trying to decide what the highest impact thing I can do towards those projects is. It’s very, very minimalist.

5- You’ve killed off most of your email capture. Yet, it’s helped you launch successful courses and drive a lot of business in general. What is your view on the email list?

Context is key here. I killed it on my personal blog, but not on my businesses. My point against email capture was that if you care about your writing, you shouldn’t push it so much. But most businesses care more about making money than good writing so they should still have more aggressive CTAs.

6- What advice do you have for people who struggle to actually start working on the projects they have?

If they’re struggling to work on their projects, they probably aren’t excited enough about their projects. The first step would be to figure out what the barrier is. Whether it’s that the project isn’t fulfilling, or they don’t know what to do. Then, attack that problem. Sometimes the solution is figuring out what the best next step is, but the underlying problem is that you’re burned out or don’t care that much anymore.

7- All that business obviously requires a lot of work. How do you manage your time between your business and your private life?

Poorly! Work is fun for me so I’ll default to doing it most of the time. The most helpful thing has been having a girlfriend, now wife, who can pull me away from it at the end of the work day.

8- You’ve said that you don’t think of where you’ll be in 5 years, but more in 3 to 6 months. How do you choose the projects you want to prioritise?

It’s a combination 3 things:

  • Where I feel the most pain
  • What’s most exciting
  • What has the most potential upside

It has to be exciting, because otherwise I won’t stick with it.

9- How important is time off for you, and what do you do when you take time off?

Not very. I have hardly taken any time off in the last couple years. If I took time off though I’d probably spend it reading and collecting my notes from books and such. Maybe doing something physical like build something or learn to surf. I love learning and working with my hands, I can’t sit on a beach and drink margaritas.

10- If you were given a one-minute ad slot during the Super Bowl, what would you fill it with and why?

I’d use it to promote my company Growth Machine! But if I had to use it for something non-commercial, I would make it something about nutrition, against the whole fake meat fad from Beyond and Impossible. I think they’re doing long-term harm to consumers and there’s not enough money in fighting them for anyone to compete with their marketing.

There you have it. I want to personally thank my guest for taking the time to provide me and my readers with really insightful answers. I am deeply grateful to Nat Eliason. Thanks a lot, and keep up the great work!

And thanks to you for reading my content!

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