• Paul Clingan

12 Lessons, 12 Months After Leaving A Career At Amazon

“People overestimate what they can do in a day and underestimate what they can do in a year” I first heard this quote from a friend that is 4 years into his journey as a health and wellness entrepreneur and it is so powerful and true. He was convincing me to quit my job at Amazon and go all in on a new career path. A couple months after our conversation, I did. I personal trained and taught yoga full-time. My degree was in advertising. As was my experience. I spent five years working at ad agencies, including a three year stint at Wieden+Kennedy and a year and a half at Amazon. I remember a year ago taking a picture of the money I was leaving on the table in the form of stocks that hadn’t vested. But conviction is stronger than cash and I made the leap. A year is a long time, but it’s also incredibly short. I’m proud of what I’ve done in the past year: I started a podcast I became a lululemon ambassador I became a Barry’s Bootcamp founding instructor I met a girl (hi Haley) I’ve coached over 50 people and taught countless more in yoga classes, Barry’s classes, and events I’ve read almost 20 books The list goes on and I’m sure there’s impact that I’ve made that people haven’t even mentioned to me. What’s even crazier is I know how much I’ve left on the table. I have so much more in me that I’ve been afraid to let out or I’m just not as efficient as I will become. Maybe those will come in the next year. But for now, here’s 12 things I’ve learned since quitting my job at Amazon a year ago. 1. Always Do The Right Thing One of my core values is integrity, but this is still one of the hardest things to do. People wrong you or you have opportunities to cut corners unnoticed. When people wrong you, it’s a reflection on them and not you. If you retaliate, it causes you to hold onto negative energy that will just end up bringing you down even more. When you can cut corners, just remember. “How you do one thing his how you do everything.” Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is looking. You never know who will provide you an opportunity down the road. I had opportunities come my way because I didn’t burn bridges. And yes, there’s a time when burning bridges is the right thing to do. 2. Macro Vs. Micro Zoom out more often than you zoom in. Day to day stuff can suck, but the more I zoom out the more I realize how blessed and fortunate I am to do what I love doing and still have food, shelter, friends, family, and my own health. We get so caught up in the micro that we aren’t able to see our own growth. We can’t see how good things really are because we’re hyper-focused on one little problem that won’t matter in 3 months. On a cosmic scale, how big of a problem are the problem(s) you have? 3. Coaching Is The Best Investment I Have Made No one is self-made. It took a huge support system to keep going and make the shift I made. Before I quit and to this day, I’ve had coaches. They keep me accountable. They are further along the journey than I am and show me that the goal I have is achievable since they are living proof of its possibility. They accelerate my development because I can learn their systems and they help me avoid obstacles. They give me perspective. Nine times out of ten, the story that you tell yourself isn’t true. Good coaches call you out and instill the truth and belief in you. 4. Passion Is Suffering The root of the word passion is derived from suffering. When you are truly passionate about something, you will endure pain, scrutiny, and sleep deprivation in order to achieve it. Think about the movie “The Passion of the Christ.” Jesus wasn’t passionate about being hung on a cross. He was willing to suffer for something bigger. So when you are looking for a passion, ask yourself what are you willing to suffer for? What has caused you pain? What have you endured that you are willing to suffer for so that other’s don’t need to suffer the same way you did? 5. Anxiety Is Real I didn’t think anxiety was real until I found myself unable to breath on all fours with a heart rate of 2,000 beats per minute. I was stressed about clients and money and stuff that I had never learned to manage or handle. Luckily, my girlfriend is supportive and was with me when these attacks happened. I’m grateful to have someone that values mental health and supports my passion to help others prioritize it. 6. Opportunity Is Everywhere Think about all of the problems that you have that you would love to be fixed. Good products and services help people bridge that gap. In the health and wellness space there are millions of people that have thousands of problems. Obesity is sky high. And even if people aren’t obese, they are overweight and need to make changes in order to live longer and healthier lives. Desk job and phone related injuries and discomforts are growing at a crazy rate. Mental health is becoming more and more of a problem with social media. Everyone I walk by on the street could benefit from having better mental health and physical health. When you believe that opportunity is everywhere, you start to train your mind to look for opportunity. For two months I journaled and meditated that “there is an abundance of opportunity” and it turned my month around. Barry’s Bootcamp reached out exactly a month after I started journaling. That one phrase gave me the perspective of just how many people there are to help. 7. Entrepreneurship Requires More Structure I’l be honest. When I quit Amazon, I thought I would have more free time. I thought being my own boss was going to let me work when I wanted and how I wanted. Obviously that’s wrong. I work more hours than I did at Amazon. I work more days during the year and my mind never turns off. Time-blocking has become one of the most important things I can do with my day. Time-blocking is exactly what you do at work when you say you need to be there 9-5. You make sure that every hour is accounted for with a specific task you are focussing on. When you don’t have structure around your time, you end up wasting it. Same as money. If you don’t have it going somewhere specifically, it will find it’s way out the door. One of my favorite quotes is: “If you want to meet the devil, have white space on your calendar.” When I’m not being productive, I get anxiety. When I don’t have time blocked off, I waste time and get behind. Then I get anxiety. This includes free time as well. Creating structure around my free time and self-care ensures that it gets done. 8. You Are The Sum Of The Five People You Surround Yourself With When I work on my own, I don’t have co-workers to bring my game up or bring me down. I have to be specific with who I choose to spend time with because I know they will either facilitate my growth or accelerate my decline. Here’s an analogy that best explains this. You are a thermostat set at 85 degrees. When the sum of the 5 people you hang around are at 75 degrees, they will cool you down. When the sum of the 5 people you hang around are at 95 degrees, they will heat you up. This also explains why some people bounce back from hard times. Maybe you break you leg and your fitness level falls from 95 to 65. But they people you hang around support you and when you are healthy, you heat yourself back up to 95. Maybe you start making good choices and run into some good fortune. Your temperate jumps from 75 to 95. If your environment is set below the growth you’ve achieved, it will help you sabotage your growth and bring you back down to 75 degrees. If you have goals (you should) you need to access your environment. Your friends, family, workspace, home, and even social media all play a roll in your trajectory. Once you access your environment, you have to step away from those bringing you down, double down on those lifting you up, and constantly seek others that will heat up your thermostat. 9. Trying To Help Everyone Is Really Helping No One

Initially, I wanted to try and work with anyone and everyone. If they had an obstacle and a goal, I would say that I could fix it.

Trying to be a generalist is one of the best ways to devalue yourself. If you choose 10 categories to service, you end up being 10% in those 10 categories. Which causes you to provide a service that's 10/100. Not to mention you lose out to people that dedicate themselves to one category.


I wanted to be the best strength coach, the best yoga instructor, the best podcaster, the best weight loss expert, the best sleep expert, and so on.


My content tried to speak to 20 industries. And I found that my core message got lost.


I thought that hammering one or two key points would redundant, but that was also something I learned. Most people aren't listening to everything you say.


They need to see a message consistently to even consider how they perceive your marketing. 10. Create, Create, Create Artists will relate to this one the most. You have to create and produce and timeblock your calendar to ensure you spend time each day to creating things that create business, followers, momentum, etc. Even as an athlete you need to constantly be shooting, throwing, hitting, or kicking. The more often you can do those things, the better you get at them. For me, create is more applicable because I have to create blogs, podcasts, social media content, web design, yoga flows, workouts. I’m always creating. This quote has helped me. “Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” ― Andy Warhol 11. The Lone Wolf Travel Fast, But The Pack Travels Far I’ve touched on this throughout this list, but I want to hammer this home. You can get off to a quick start on your own. You can lose 30lbs. You can start a blog or podcast. You can hike really far. But there comes a time when you need the support of others to keep going. I’ve been lucky to have support from so many people. My family, my girlfriend, my friends, lululemon, Barry’s Bootcamp, social media followers, coaches, and so on. When I first started studying to be a personal trainer I closed myself off from a lot of people and it helped me build some momentum. I went fast. But I wouldn’t have gotten far without support. Ten years from now, I’ll say the same thing. I went fast in year one, but I needed so many others to get to year 10. 12. We Are All Salespeople You might be saying in your head right now that you aren’t in sales. But if we were to have a debate, you’d have to sell me on why aren’t in sales. Which would be selling. We all sell. We all sell our ideas when we present. We sell ourselves when we get dressed in a way to conveys to the world the image we wish to display. We sell ourselves when we go on dates and want to convince the other person the restaurant we should go to. We sell ourselves on social media. Your social media page is your personal online business card. If there is one area I’ve dove into the most, it’s sales and human psychology. How does the mind work? What influences it? How am I being sold? It’s important to study how selling happens so that you are aware of dynamics as it is happening. One last thing on selling and this is something I’m still learning. Selling a service or product that helps people is not bad. It’s your duty. If you have the antidote to cancer and you are selling people to buy it to save their lives and they don’t buy it, that’s on you. You need to learn to sell more so you can help people more. Again, it’s something I’m working on. However, in health and wellness space, it’s important to sell because what you are selling is a longer and healthier life. - Paul

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