The Martian: The Best Business Book You’ve Already Read


The Martian is an incredible book. If you haven’t read it yet: do it. The Martian, in many ways, hearkens back to those classic “stuck in the wilderness” books from the middle of last century, such a Hatchet, My Side Of The Mountain, and Down The Path. This may seem strange at first, but once you read it, you’ll understand.

What does this have to do with online marketing? Not much. What does it have to do with lifestyle? A whole lot. You see, in a wilderness survival situation, whether it’s in the Gobi Desert, The Appalachian Mountains, or on the barren surface of Mars, all hold the same general issue: you all of a sudden need to acutely focus on what is necessary, and nothing else. You need to constantly be focused on the one or two MOST IMPORTANT things that need to be done, all the time. There is no time to check social media, follow up with half- hearted emails with lost prospects, avoid work for hours on end with “research” or anything like that. You need to focus on one thing: survival. This is vastly different from the business world that most of us live in, but it’s something that we can definitely learn from.

When I first read The Martian, I was blown away by just how well written a story it was. It was so good, in fact that I went back and read it a second time, but instead thinking about each part of the story from a business, or a lifestyle perspective. For instance: Since Mark Watney (the Martian) is forced into a situation where only his survival matters, what does he focus on?  Does he desperately try to reestablish a connection with earth? not at first. He focuses on food, and the production of it. Once his food is moving, does he THEN go out and try to make contact with Earth? Kind of. But it takes a lot of work, and he completes several other tasks while working toward that goal. Reading the martian with a business sense in mind makes the book an exercise in simplification: you realize that each thing you do can probably be chopped, outsourced, simplified, or gotten rid of altogether.

First: The Martian Has Limited Resources: Just Like You

Mark Watney is trapped on Mars. He has some food, oxygen to breathe, some space suits to walk on the surface of the planet, and many other items at his disposal. Many would argue that Mark has an ABUNDANCE of resources, especially for just a single man living on the planet. There is one resource that Mark is in desperate need of, however, and he has no way to create, reform, rebuild, or move. That resource is Time.

We all have a finite amount of time. It doesn’t matter if you’re Warren Buffett, or a Cashier at Wal-Mart, we all have the same 24 hours in a day. For Mark, the ever present issue of how much time he has before systems fail, food crops dwindle, or the Dust Storm Seasons settles in on the Martian surface, all create the most real and imminent threat to his life.

For you, the same is true. You only have so many hours in a day to work, to play, to rest, and so on. You may have a shortage of money, of resources, of contact, or anything else that you can belabour, but the only finite one of those that cannot be changed in any way, by anyone on this planet is time. Think about that.

You can work your ass off for one day and probably multiply your business contacts by 3. You can take your next day, write an excellent blog post, make some phone calls to the most important people you know, or put out some online PPC advertising and get yourself more business. You could probably do all three of these. This is what i mean when I say that time is the only thing that’s holding you back.

So how do you free more time and make sure that you’re doing the most important things you can, then?  This is more about an exercise in learning more about yourself than it is in some type of business learning, or speciality. Its all about figuring out what’s important to you.

I worked in finance for 5 years. I am a CPA by training. For 5 years I worked the 9-5 Monday through Friday lifestyle, trading 40-60 hours a week of my time for some money, and corporate benefits. Was this efficient? I would suppose so. Was it effective? certainly not.

This is when I started to really think about the “Why’s” of my work. Why am I working? Is it to just make a bunch of money? Because if so, retreating into a slightly lower income state to focus more heavily on something like pure comission sales of a high end product, or looking for my own business deals to close would be much more effective. Was it to create security for myself and my family? I would have to say yes. However, when I looked at the assumptions I made to fabricate that security, I realized that being beholden to a single company to finance my entire life was foolish to say the very least. This is not security. If anything, it is slavery.  You have no ability to change course, get different income sources (or minimal due to restriction of time) Or really even negotiate a better work/life situation for yourself.  As I realized this, I decided that time for myself and my family was NEARLY INVALUABLE, and that If I could free my time so I could work when I wanted to, with the people I wanted to work with, I would be INFINITELY more wealthy.

That’s why I’m here.

So what does that mean for you? It means that you should be singularly focused on making your business as effective as possible at making you money, and giving you free time to a) find other ways to make money or b) spend time doing what you want. The easiest way I’ve found to do that? Leverage. Online. Marketing. Don’t hit the phones, Don’t spend time at conferences and trade shows and other such garbage, grovelling for the next dollar. Use the internet to connect with a group of people who will love you and your work for what it is, and sell to them.

The Martian doesn’t become sidetracked, even in the worst of times.

Mark Watney made his way into my heart very rapidly with his cowboy-like demeanor, and his hilarious way of turning most anything into a joke. Even when things look at their worst Mark will always turn it around and make light of the situation. Whether it’s his rover capsizing hundreds of miles from his home base, or a “smal”l explosion blowing apart his only home on the red planet, he quickly follows any negative up with a joke.

This is imperative. I’ve released products that have lost me thousands of dollars, I’ve been violently fired from jobs with no recourse. I’ve had many, many failures, and the ones that I haven’t been able to make light of have been the ones that have hurt me the most. Notice I didn’t say the ones that COST me the most financially, or even the ones that cost me the most time, I said the ones I couldn’t make light of.

I released Mindsoak Speed reading as an online course in college. I recorded the course on a turtle Beach headset I used to play Call of Duty on, and sold it for $50 a piece. I spent more than $5000 in PPC advertising, and got about 1 sale a month. That is not a typo. The website, and the sales funnel was terrible. The course was exceptionally effective, and I’m sad I don’t have the time to sell it appropriately anymore, but it was a great learning experience. I was young at the time, and I wasn’t too afraid of the resulting Credit Card Debt, so I laughed it off.

Fast forward about 8 years, and I get canned from a terrible job with a shit boss that I hated form a company that was clearly having a conflict of vision between the partners. In this case, however, I DID NOT make light of the situation, and I was certain my life was over, and that my wife would leave me, and I would never see my child again. Instead, this was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. I would have realized this about 5 months faster if I had just found the funny in it, realized that the company was in shambles, a financial mess, and run by people who were completely unaware that the path they were taking would lead them. Sadly, this job loss led me down a path of constant panic attacks, crippling depression, and it took me a long time to come back. I built this business in spite of myself, to keep me going, and now it’s the driver for the lifestyle I’ve always wanted. That’s the power of making light.  Don’t forget it. Things are only as important as you decide they are.

The Martian Has Limited Access To Information.

Mark Watney has access to little information. Like…none. For the majority of the book, the only information that mark has is some basic calculators, the information left for him on the planet on laptops (DISCO?!) and his own imagination. With this EXTREMELY limited amount of info, he’s able to:

-build himself a potato farm that will feed him for 7 years from only a few potatoes…and his own feces

– Generate enough water to feed the massive potato farm he’s created…using  only rocket fuel.

– take a short distance rover and retrofit it to transport him and his equipment more than 1,000 miles across the martian surface.

and so much more. Its obviously important to point out that Mark is highly trained and specialized in his field, and this allows him to do all of these things. But wait…aren’t you too? Aren’t you a expert in your field? if you run a business in that field, then you must be.

Why do you spend hours a week (maybe a day????) reading industry periodicals, reading emails from guys who offer no value to your business, newspapers, facebook, other social media…the list goes on and on. There is a never ending stream of information constantly being fired down your throat by all manner of folk online. I would challenge you to avoid it. Don’t spend hours and hours reading information that essentially doesn’t do anything to build your knowledge. Can you even remember what you read last week? what about yesterday? what about this morning? I bet you can barely remember half of it, if that.

Mark Watney is essentially FORCED into the low information diet. As a result, he builds himself an abundance of time simply from removing the option of any of these distractions.  how much more could you accomplish that actually moves you toward your goal of more business if you stripped this unnecessary evil from your life?

If you haven’t read the four hour work week, and as a result tried the low information diet for a space of time, i suggest you try it.  removing newsreels, social media (I automate mine) and all other forms of bloated information from your life, give it a shot. All of a sudden you realize that a few extra hours a DAY (yes, a day) seem to appear. This is time you can spend:

  • playing with your daughter
  • talking with your wife about that business you’ve always wanted to start with her
  • write that book you always wanted to
  • or simply start leveraging online marketing for your business.

Give it a shot. Thank me later.

If you found this article interesting, or if you think it’s terrible and needs to be purged from the internet, let me know in the comments!

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