Dane Sanders is a coach, consultant, and keynote speaker. After growing his own photography business to more than 6 figures, he founded Fastermind.co, a community of freelancers looking to scale beyond themselves. Today, he serves on the executive team of AlphaUSA.org and is the author of two best-selling business books for creatives through America’s largest publisher of its kind, Penguin Random House. Let’s hear more from him on this episode of Productivity Masterminds.
- Super performers are not sleepwalking through life. Time is a finite resource and can’t actually be managed. It is coming and going all the time for everyone at the same pace exactly. It has more to do with awakeness. You are super trustworthy when you’re awake, but when you’re sleepwalking through your life, you are not trustworthy.
- Try to not be consumed by Social Media. You need to relate with your life more like an art form and figure out ways to dance with the power that we get from digital without being consumed by it.
- An addiction is a desire for a feeling. It is a discipline to keep your phone in your pocket and almost count the seconds and figuring out “What am I feeling right now?” And when you do that, you are more awake and therefore get much more accomplished.
- All productivity and time management hacks have one thing in common: consciousness. All these hacks are trying to get us to a place of consciousness and when that consciousness is in play you get more done.
- Think big picture. If you’re asking bigger and bigger questions, you can look for the tools that can help you do those things faster, but if you’re not doing that, you’re not thinking big picture enough yet, then no matter short-term tactics are going to help you win.
Juan: [00:00] Dane, thank you so much for coming on the show.
Dane Sanders: [01:23] My pleasure. Thanks for having me.
Juan: [01:26] Dane, you’re a top performer. You’re running multiple brands who are helping entrepreneurs and freelancers make the best life that they can, make the best use of their time and take their business forward. You’ve authored multiple books. You’re a speaker, you’ve endorsed, you’ve been endorsed by people like Seth Godin, Ann Hanley, you know, something about time management that most of us don’t. Can you walk us a little bit through how you think about time in general?
Dane Sanders: [01:46] Sure. I mean probably the best way to start is what everybody does already know and that’s, that time can’t actually be managed. It’s, it’s a finite resource that is coming and going all the time for everyone at the same pace exactly. So if it is a finite resource and it’s happening, whether we’re paying attention to it or not and everyone gets the same amount of it, um, how is it that there are some super performers who seem to be able to get so much more from it? I think that’s the really interesting question. And what are, what are they actually doing? Um, and I don’t think it has very much at all to do with time. Ironically.
I think it has more to do with awakeness, people’s ability to stay awake at the wheel. Like I’m super trustworthy when I’m awake, but when I’m sleepwalking through life, I’m not trustworthy.
It’s only when I’m conscious. Examples of that are things like, how do I find myself or any of us, uh, you know, the cliche now to be lost in a social media scroll. Um, you know, just blank eyes staring off into space, looking for the next step would mean head. It’s kind of ridiculous. Or you know, you’re standing around at a party, no one’s talking to you, do you, do you grab your phone or I’m paying attention to distractions or I’m so into Netflix and getting constantly entertained or there’s just an overabundance of content that I feel even responsible to consume. Um, but I don’t have enough time to do it. So these are all symptoms. They’re not the problem, they are symptoms of a much bigger concern. And what I’m interested in is how can I design my life to match my commitments?
[03:25] So, or another way to say that is how do I stay awake to my commitments, um, and how do I do that in a way that is really humanly informed where I’m really thinking about it from the perspective of what is true of humans regardless of the area you’re born in. And what I’m learning is that life like that means that I need to not plug my life into like an Internet culture, like a robot, uh, or mimic artificial intelligence – we’re smarter than AI and we always will be.
I need to relate with my life more like an art form and to figure out ways to dance with the power that we get from digital without being consumed by it.
Juan: Sure. And how do we do that?
Dane Sanders: Yeah. So, um, you know, I suspect your listeners especially are up on the latest life hacks. You know, there’s so many tips and tricks. Uh, in fact, I think there’s so many. We’re, um, we’re, we’re, we’re kind of tired of them. Uh, I, I, I love them, I’m always looking for a sense of doing things more efficiently, but underneath the surface what it really trying to do is deal with these phenomenon, these things we described and I have, um, I have found that if I treat the, all those dynamics that I just mentioned really as symptomatic versus problem and I go, okay, what’s the real problem? So here’s a practical thing you could do. I think of like guys like Russell Brand who wrote a really fascinating book, the Comedian Russell Brand on a, on addiction. And I have a dear friend who’s going through recovery right now in this book became a book he and I read together. And as I was reading it, I was so struck by his, uh, example of basically saying like, if you’re, if you’re on, say, like heroin, you know, you have an addiction problem.
[05:15] Like there’s no – everyone in the whole planet knows you have an addiction problem, but if you, if you just check your phone a lot, it’s tempting to think that, um, you know, that’s just what everybody struggles with or whatever. And not call it addiction. And I think that’s so helpful to see it as a spectrum that we’re all connected to some in horrific ways, some in a lighter weight ways, but still just as dire. And if that’s true and addiction is really a desire for a feeling, Gosh, how can I, how can I slow the train down and let myself feel the parts of life that I’m, I’m avoiding the, the, um, uh, the anxiety that comes up when I’m standing by myself in a room and no one’s talking to me instead of checking my phone. It’s a discipline for me to keep my phone in my pocket and almost count the seconds almost just figuring out like, what am I feeling right now? [06:03] Can I get in touch with that? Because when I do that, I tend to be more awake. And when I’m more awake, I tend to be more trustworthy and when I’m more trustworthy, I tend to get more accomplished, like radically, much more accomplished. A mentor of mine, a guy named Seth, you mentioned earlier, Seth Godin. Seth says all the time I’ve asked him directly, Seth, uh, how do you get so much ridiculous things done? And his response was, well, I have nine more hours than most humans because they’re all watching television or they’re getting entertained or, and, and you just cut that out. It’s Kinda like diets, like if you just cut out soda and alcohol and sugar, you’re going to lose 10 pounds in two weeks. It’s just without doing anything and that’s where I would say these hacks are pointing to, but they’re not –
You need to think what is the hack actually trying to accomplish and it’s trying to get us to a place of consciousness and when that consciousness is in play, those people conscious people get more done. They are super performers and that is what we’re fighting for.
Juan: [07:01] Yeah. No, those are really good points. That makes a lot of sense. Dane, have you found that it’s better to eliminate that addiction by treating like the real problem or is it more about replacing the addiction and rewiring, retaining the addiction into better habits? Like which of the two is it because it sounds more like removing a need for that kind of self-medicating behavior as opposed to maybe replacing it with better habits, which are the two?
Dane Sanders: [07:29] Yeah, I’d probably go. Well, so I think about it. First of all, I just want to get clear on what’s actually happening. Making sure that I’m clear. What is a symptom an a problem is. When identify the symptoms I want to go look, let’s not make these bad, let’s get curious about them. What are they telling me that I’m, I’m going on for me underneath the hood and, and, and in a similar way, like so funny that the sponsor for the show,
Timeular, I, I love their little dice tracker thing because I use it as a tracker. It’s not, it’s, it’s really meant to tell me current reality and if I’m very elegantly able to track my time without overthinking not doing a ton of clicking or buttoning or anything like an analog device and just twisting and turning and at the end of the day I can go, Oh wow, that’s fascinating, that I did life that way.
Even Apple’s new update where they are tracking your use, I don’t think very many people are checking their use because they’re nervous about what it’s going to tell you, but if anyone did it, that would be a way to get sober really quickly and go, oh, that’s fascinating. What, what is that telling me about me that I’m drawn to? And um, so I don’t, I guess that’s kind of a, a way to reverse the habits or gain awareness of the why’s behind the habits or maybe get curious with them. But I think it begins there if you don’t have a sense of what current reality actually is and you go straight to like, oh, I’m going to build new habit. A, you’re probably going to land back in the old habit. This is why people can do like New Year’s resolutions every year have the same ones for 10 years in a row because they didn’t actually get to the source of why they keep drawing their lives in the wrong direction. When they get clear on that and they align right and they just practice aligning right relative to where they were aligning wrong, they have a different experience. Um, so I, I liked the idea of getting a current reality check in. And I also love the idea of when you get to new habits, really going slow. Like one of the most significant habit hacks for me in my life was like flossing my teeth. I just knew I didn’t want to do it. It turned out flossing my teeth first thing before I went to the restroom was one of the most critical things I could do because it got me awake right away. I didn’t want to do it. I always, I tied it directly to, um, uh, and by the way, you should get on James Clear onto your show. His new book on atomic habits relate to this. When you start habit stacking and, and really, um, engineering your life for consciousness, uh, there’s so much that can open up for you.
Juan: [10:02] It’s so fitting, Dane, given your background that you studied philosophy because if you really look at some of the themes that you’re bringing up your operating on even a topic like time management from a very zoomed out approach, you’re thinking more about human connection community, like legacy, like it’s operates from a very zoomed out approach, am I going in the right direction with my life and then reverse engineering what your daily habits look like and I think you’re so onto something with those principles because most of us really do just get caught up on the how do I squeeze an extra five minutes here or there? You’re saying you want extra time and here’s an extra nine hours and it’s actually based on something that you’re not addressing, which is your need to again, just self medicate with non constructive behaviors.
Dane Sanders: [10:50] Yeah. Well it’s funny, you know, aristotle talks a lot about the good life and he called it eudaimonia and this notion of what does it mean to flourish as a human? And I’d argue that’s probably the, the fundamental question of being human. Even when you suffer, like whether you’re reading guys like, um, like reading man’s search for meaning, you know, an amazing book about a guy who suffers in the Holocaust and his conclusion at the end of it, he’s basically asking the question, how come some people suffer and they get crushed, they got crushed and other people suffer and they get stronger. What’s the difference between those two people that relates to. And it turns out there’s a lot of habits of mind and body that really influenced your capacity in those moments. Um, I think of other folks like I, I’m a Christian. I love Jesus. I think he’s like the most resourceful human on the theater of life ever who’s walked the earth, uh, someone who doesn’t believe that it’s Ryan Holiday, but he’s my favorite atheist because his commitment to stoicism really, um, it, it gets people into a philosophy of life that you’re going to start getting being able to measure results from those philosophies and to see does it hold water the way, uh, the proponents of it say it should. And I, I honestly,
I like the idea that truth takes you wherever you needed to go. And like if you, if you’re committed to following truth, wherever it takes you, no matter what, you’re going to get to a good place.
And I have a hunch, Ryan and I will get to the same place someday, but the point is that you’re taking your life seriously enough to, to wrap it around a rule of life that you, that makes sense, that’s going to have something you’re gonna look back on and go, I’m, I’m glad I spent my life that way. And again, most people I think are just kind of sleepwalking and, and they’re wondering like, well, why do I do life the way that I do with these kinds of habits over and over and over again? And I think it’s a very important question. And if people get serious about looking for the answers they’re going to get, they’re going to discover a lot more than answers to those questions are going to discover a life that could really become something significant.
Juan: [12:53] That’s fantastic. Dane there, I think you’re really hitting on so many important points here. I think the temptation is to look for technique or tool and what you’re suggesting is much higher level than that. You need to be looking for a purpose. You need to be looking for things that are triggering the distractions and the actions that are wasting your time, and if you’re really bringing it back to those triggers and what it is that’s wasting your time, then you’ll start asking yourself the right questions that guide you towards a bigger purpose.
Dane Sanders: [13:19] Yeah, you nailed it. I just. Well, let me comment real quick. Like I.
We are so much more than a hack. Humans are more than a hack.
And I love the way you articulated that because it. It’s just so tempting in the fury of life, that is the pace of digital culture. It’s just tempting to think that we’re not humans that we’re just like rat race doesn’t even capture it anymore. That’s what people used to call it in the fifties and sixties, so this isn’t a rat race anymore. This is like a flurry of, and we call it life where there’s this old quote, “People settle for a level of despair they can tolerate and call it happiness.” , I think it was Soren Kierkegaard that came up with that and that’s such a discouraging and haunting quote because most people have settled for so little when so much is available and and it starts with moving above technique and looking at what is your reason for being and when you start there you actually find things like meaning and purpose and that informs your actions and people’s whole lives can be transformed just from that thought experiment.
Juan: [14:24] Amazing. So these teams you are bringing up in a community and legacy. You’re basically proposing that every human has a philosophy in life, whether we know it or not, and in you know in your case it’s Christianity and your faith in Jesus and for listeners at home they might be something else, but it all comes down to what is my productivity for? And those are the right questions to be asking yourself and all of this. All of this efficiency is instrumental to a bigger mission or vision, so you’ll be more astute if have a bigger sense of purpose.
If you’re asking bigger and bigger questions, then you can look for the tools that can help you do those things faster, but if you’re not doing that, you’re not thinking big picture enough yet, then no matter short term tactics are going to help you win.
And something that you’ve said before that I love is that the war is really between the 12 inches between your ears and what you’re paying attention to. So as we started zooming out into that, we can start creating a plan of action for productivity that is practical, but it does start with a bit of philosophy essentially.
Dane Sanders: Yeah. At least good practical philosophy. Yeah, that’s right. By the way, I’d say one, I would love to sit at your feet and learn, man, you, you’re such a great position to be picking these things up from folks and your capacity to articulate it back. You make me sound better than I am, so I really am grateful.
Juan: Thank you so much, Dane. It’s been a fantastic experience getting to talk to so many productivity experts and people in this space, top performers, it’s made a huge impact in my life, so I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to this with me, with us listeners at home, and Dane I just want to ask you, as you continue to take your career forward, uh, where’s the best place for people to stay in touch with you and learn more about what you’re doing?
Dane Sanders: Well, they can certainly go to danesanders.com to get to know me or reach out, but I would say the most exciting project I’m in the middle of right now is this thing called fastermind.co. And faster mind is really a whole community of people who are trying to live this out. They’re trying to, they recognize that, uh, whether you’re a freelancer, you’re like you’re in a non scaling business or you’re an entrepreneur and you’re trying to really build something that’s bigger than you, regardless you’re still a human being, navigating a very complex world and doing it solo is very challenging. So we built a little community that is is growing and intimate and, and, and we’re trying to sort these things out together in real life around real businesses with real business owners and even employees of big companies that are, they just want their life to matter differently. And I’d say, if that sounds interesting, I’d encourage folks to, to pop over there and say hi, and let’s start a conversation.
Juan: Amazing. Dane, thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing all of this with us.
Dane Sanders: Hey, my pleasure. Thank you, Juan.