How to Use the 80/20 to Work Less and Make More with James Schramko #065

Show Notes:

James Schramko is a former General Manager turn mentor to online business owners. He’s coached 1000s of students at this point, at last glance it was over 3561.

He’s also the author of the book, “Work Less, Make More”, and has a very popular, very incisive podcast, called The James Schramko Podcast which has an impressive 4.7 million downloads.

Topics explored:

  • Ensure you’re working on the right things as there’s too much choice
  • Be careful with short term focus: making money in 30 days vs 10 yrs
  • The core things that don’t really change
  • The real 80/20: Almost 2/3s of your results are from 4% of your activities
  • Do Less: Cut out so many of the things you think you have to do
  • Are you still running someone else’s script in your neck top computer?
  • AI will be profound, we’ll never go back to the way things were before
  • Regularly ask, are we using the right strategy, do we need to update?
  • 2 Tools in the Tool Kit: Your task audit & your effective hourly rate
  • Are you optimistic about the future?
  • The importance of not blaming everyone, start with yourself


Al McBride 0:00
Okay. Welcome to the dealing with Goliath podcast. The mission of dealing with Goliath is to sharpen the psychological edge in negotiation, ethical influencing and high impact conversations for business leaders who want to be more effective under pressure, uncover hidden value and build greater connection, all while increasing profitability. With expert guests across the business spectrum, we deliver Gems of Wisdom delving into their methods, their thinking and approach to business life and problem solving.

So this is the short form espresso shot podcast interview to boost your business performance with our five questions in about 15 minutes format. My guest today is James Schramko. James is a former General Manager turn mentor to online business owners. He’s coached 1000s of students at this count, what I saw was over 3561, there’s quite a number James at this stage. And he’s also the author, right crucially of the book, “Work less, make more”, he also has a very, very popular, very incisive podcast, which is most impressive. And I’m going to give the details of that little later on. So James, welcome to the show. Thank you so much for coming on.

James Schramko 1:15
Thank you, I’m really impressed with your introductory lead, I would have expected you’d record that. And just that in the guest name. So that’s very impressive, bespoke I feel special. Well got it down, Pat.

Al McBride 1:29
Cheers right here, it’s good to see, you know, look, yeah, I’ve really impressed looking through your website, looking through, as you said, it was looking through the breakdown of some of your process that you work with further, I can see why you have so many students, and why you bring, as you say, from five to six figures, and those then six figures, even up to seven and some people dropped that kind of as never, I see you’re doing it a lot.

So you obviously have a method that really comes through for a huge amount of your clients. So it’s hugely impressive. And as I said, very, very grateful to have you on the show. So let’s talk about that client. So who is your ideal client, and what’s the biggest challenge that they tend to face

James Schramko 2:12
as pretty much exclusively online business owners, and they’re trying to do too many things, and they’re doing the wrong things. So pretty common, easy to make those mistakes. And by the time I’m finding them, they’re just they’re ready to get some help, like, help me figure out which of all the things I’m supposed to be doing would be good things to do.

And a big part of that is like just working on the right things, you know, rather than trying to do everything, because you just can’t get to it, especially with the online businesses. It’s unlimited. It’s like 24/7, there any number of tools and directions, you could go lots of different ways to succeed online. So it’s like, there’s just so much choice they get paralyzed?

Al McBride 3:02
That’s absolutely true. I mean, as you said, even if you just choose one thing, say LinkedIn, there’s 100 different methods you can use on it, you know,

James Schramko 3:09
so yeah, like, you know, should they do a podcast or a YouTube channel? Or should they run paid traffic or do SEO, or it’s just, there’s so many things, it takes quite quite a while to get good at even one or two of those, and they’re always going to be missing something. And they don’t know whether they should be switching or going deeper is to so many possible options,

Al McBride 3:30
isn’t it? Because then people go, did I quit too early, they don’t want to quit too early thinking they were nearly there,

James Schramko 3:35
or like a sharing a dud model. I mean, one of the great things of, for me, having worked with so many people, is I’ve seen a lot of results, I get data. So I could say pretty quickly, hey, Al, you know, if you’re gonna take this business model, just be mindful of these three things. And I could tell them what, what the traps are, where they’re going to trip over what challenges are just around the corner.

It’s pretty much like if you’ve gone through a video game all the way to the end. And then you find someone who’s on the first or second level. You can say, Oh, wait to get to next level, because there’s a boss there. And he throws fireballs at you. So get get good at ducking and weaving. They’re like, Oh, thanks for the tip.

Al McBride 4:16
As it just as you said, the experience saves them time downstream, because you’re further upstream. I’ve done it right. Absolutely. So that sounds like a lot of people are dealing with a huge amount of overwhelm because as you said, we’ve too much choice. Choice is a great thing with too much choice as you say it can be paralyzing. So what are some of those common mistakes people make when they’re trying to solve that problem?

James Schramko 4:39
Well, I often pick the wrong strategy or even within the strategies, some of the tactics where there seems to be especially online there seems to be in the marketing, a lot of focus on short term, and you get common questions like oh, you know, James, if you’re, if you lost everything, and you’re gonna start again today, and you needed to make money in the next 30 days, what would you do?

And I’d say, Hey, listen, Wrong question. It’s great if I’m making money in 30 days, but you know, I’d rather be making money for the next 10 years. So I think they focus on on to shorter term. And they also get dazzled by amazing tactics and marketing techniques, or fads and trends that come and go. And because I’ve been online a little bit longer than some of the people I’m helping, I’ve seen it all come and go.

So I know what the core things are. So there are some core things that don’t really change. So when I’m looking at the strategy for someone, I’m going to work out, what are their assets? What are their strengths? What are their preferences, their values? And what business models most likely to fit around? What’s working for them? Or is often the case where they’re already in business?

I’ll say, Well, hey, you know, if you just change lanes a little bit from the slow lane to the overtaking lane, you could get such a different journey than what you’re on now. Excellent. So it sounds like there’s some common traits too often, they’re trying to do too much themselves.

So they’re unleveraged, they have no team, or they haven’t had any training, or they’re not very good at leadership yet, which I’m sure you’ve experienced that people aren’t born natural leaders. It does take some, some education, and it takes some time in the field and experience. And I also see a very common one, and you actually covered this in your episode number 22. is people tend to treat everything with equal allocation of energy and resource, which is a huge mistake.

Al McBride 6:38
That’s a great one. It’s exactly that’s how you divide up your time all tasks aren’t equal. And understanding that 8020 I actually saw that Perry Marshall, Mr. 80 20. himself, reviewed your book and gave you a blurb there. And it was very much on that 8020 principle that very much

James Schramko 6:59
mean Richard Koch his absolute idol in the world. And, you know, we’ve all probably by now, we’ve already added 20, especially after listening to your episode. And we heard about it in Tim Ferriss book, we’ve gone further into cautious and other star principles, etc. But where I really pushed hard on it is when I picked up the idea that it’s fractal, yes, that kind of blew my mind.

And in simple terms, what that means is that you can apply the 8022 itself. So I just started pulling out the calculator and thinking about hang on a minute, what does the 8020 of the 20 look like? And that’s where I came up with this idea of 64 four, and I researched pretty hard and I couldn’t really find anybody talking about it. And finally I found it. I think it was buried deep inside Richard Koch’s actual book, but no one’s really picked up on it and gone deep with it.

For me, that is the the ultimate fix to this is to think well, you know, almost two thirds of your results or outcomes are coming from, like 4% of your activities. Like why not just figure out what activities you’ve gotten, what things you plan to do. And just get rid of a lot of them like just delete, hit delete. And in my message is pretty exciting for a lot of people, especially those people who have got too many things on their plate, too many choices. If we say I tell you what, I’m not going to give you more things to do. I’m just going to tell you all the things to stop doing. That’s like, oh my gosh, this is the best news I’ve ever heard.

Al McBride 8:32
It’s such a popular message rubella. Yeah,

James Schramko 8:36
it’s a great message. It’s a message I take into my own life, there’s a lot of things that I don’t do that almost everyone in my, in my marketplace, a lot of my peers and competitors, etc. can all do the things that I just don’t do. And I feel liberated for not having to do them. And I succeed without having to do those things. It’s it’s kind of the ultimate hack.

Al McBride 8:56
But can you give an example or two just for the audience?

James Schramko 8:59
I don’t do big product launches, right? I don’t have affiliates. I haven’t run a massive amount of paid traffic. I don’t obsess over traffic and conversions to try and find new leads today. I don’t do any cold outreach. I’m not active on some platforms. That’s a good start. Right?

Al McBride 9:16
That’s absolutely it could it could wait a huge amount of complexity. As you said potential overwhelmed.

James Schramko 9:23
I don’t have an office, I don’t have physical stock. I don’t run many big events. So I’ve kept it simple. I’ve only got a couple of products. I’ve figured out how to refine my business model using this principle over and over again, to the point where this far down the track.

I’ve actually got the simplest version of the business I’ve ever had. In fact, half my income comes from eight people. Wow. A good chunk of that comes from one or two. And the other half is a distribution between a couple of 100 people and it’s it’s the simplest and The easiest and most fun and enjoyable version of my business. And I’m pretty excited about how that works. There’s two

Al McBride 10:06
things I’d love to pick up on there. One of them is, is the fun part is something I loved when I was reading through your blog and your breakdown of some of your method. Because it’s something I find so many business people and advisors, consultants experts often overlook, which is, where’s the where’s the joy? Or in Ireland? As we said, Where’s the crack? You know, where’s the?

James Schramko 10:28
What’s my point? Oh,

Al McBride 10:29
yeah, exactly what gets you go. And because you see people grinding away, and that’s admirable, you have to do that not everything is going to be easy or simple, or

James Schramko 10:38
especially in the beginning, especially in the beginning, but I see people down the track, they end up, they end up creating a building an overly complicated business, and then they start hating it. Yeah. And then they get unhealthy and angry and bitter. And as they get more down the track, they start to have regrets.

And they might have a lot of money in the bank account. But you can’t take that with you. They may have had some experiences, but it’s often the sort of synthetic or putting on show for someone else. I see a lot of people who had a difficult upbringing, still looking for that hug than ever got as a kid like that significance, that that somebody just to say, you’re okay, you’re, you’re the You’re the man, you’re the alpha, everyone knows that.

And then they can relax a bit. I think young men do theory that they need to prove themselves, but some people forget to reassess. And this is a huge part of what I do for my own business, and for my clients is we reassess on a frequent basis and reset. Because often where we started is not where we end up. And it’s certainly not going to get us to that next part of the journey.

Al McBride 11:54
That’s super, because I love that you’re what we call in cognitive behavioral therapy, you know, updating your schema, updating your story effectively. Because so many people are running scripts that were successful at one time, and they’re getting less and less and less appropriate, as you’re saying, and they don’t update them.

James Schramko 12:12
Well, even worse, they’re running. They’re running a script that was placed there by somebody else, right? Yes, mom or dad insisted they become a lawyer, doctor engineer, but they just want to paint or, you know, their peer group, their benchmarking of their peer group, they’ve got this peer pressure, or this expectation that they’re somehow a failure if they don’t achieve similar results to people in their peer group.

So there’s, there’s, I like to think of it as the neck top computer. I think Professor Hewson talked about this. But if we’ve got the hardware, when we’re born, we’re getting some DNA from our parents, we’re getting a lot of behavioral exposure when we’re young, like, as someone who’s a parent, I see how much kids take on it at an early age. But then we have the option to upgrade the software. I’m behind me and my software upgrades. I read books. So I study things, I think about stuff.

And I keep refining the software, because of the want optimal programming, I want to have less bugs, I want it to be up to date, we’re going through what I think will be one of the biggest changes since the internet right now with the introduction of machine learning, and artificial intelligence.

There is a massive paradigm shift going on. And I want to make sure that I’m aware of it, and that I’m observing what the changes and implications will be. I mean, we just came out of an exhausting pandemic, which also shifted the game for a lot of people who are offline. It was good for most of my people, because they’re already online. And they’re like, Oh, hello, rest of the world. Yes. Welcome to zoom.

Al McBride 13:48
We knew about it for years. Yeah.

James Schramko 13:50
But the AI is the same, in fact, far more profound. It’s this is going to have, it will never go back to the way it was. This is like when, when you and I were kids, I’m sort of guessing here. You might have had a period of your life where you didn’t have a mobile phone, right?

Al McBride 14:06
Oh, absolutely. I got the first one. I was 17. I think 16 Maybe, and

James Schramko 14:09
I got my first one when I was like 2122. And so I saw the world pre pre mobile phone, pre smart device, pre internet. And now we’re going to see another shift. So get ready. Like it’s really important to build in a routine to keep assessing, do we have the right strategy? Do we have the right resources we need to take advantage of it, I think is like your team. And are we focusing on the right things and just not spending any time wasted on things that will have almost negligible impact or even a negative impact? Perry Marshall talks about this. If you stopped doing negative producing activities, you actually get a net increase.

Al McBride 14:54
Absolutely. As you said, it’s just cutting out because you have more time and more resources to focus on Allah, just to mention a few points, and let’s just go looping back to that, because it’s very neat back to the 64. Four, that, because I was gonna ask, you know, what one valuable free action that the audience can implement, but it really is starting to think in that way. Is there some advice that you’d give to any of our audience as to how they can start breaking that down? How they can start? Yeah,

James Schramko 15:23
I mean, there’s two tools in the toolkit for that. So I’ll, I’ll say, the one the one valuable thing is get this toolkit with the two things in one, one tool is is the task audit you got to know where you spend your time and what you’re spending your time on, like, without that you’re flying blind. So track that, like, write it down, log it, whatever you need to do to know that I put on a big piece of paper, or you could use post it notes or tools that track your activities, which is pretty scary the first time people do this. The other tool in the toolkit is your effective hourly rate.

Now most people with a job could tell you their wage, if you’re working at Subway, they’ll tell you what they make per hour, most business owners, or high level professionals may not actually know what their hourly rate is worth. And it’s fairly easy to calculate it’s your revenue minus your fixed and variable costs equals your profit. And, you know, you could argue whether you have a commercial wage or not for what you do in the business, but effectively as a small business owner, which is most of my clients, their profit, give or take their wages, what they actually make.

And so then you divide that by the number of hours that it took you to get that. That’s it. So of course, if you hire more people to do tasks, then that’s going to increase your costs. But now you’re working less hours, so increases your effective hourly rate, then the idea is you trade off low activity tasks. Firstly, try and delete them. If they have to be done. It’s things like bookkeeping, formatting, content, editing, podcasts, publishing stuff to social creating, and sending out emails, you should be doing none of those things.

Unless you’re world class at all, you absolutely love it, and you consider it art. Don’t do those things. There’s plenty of people who can do those things at really low and reasonable rates. And now you’re left with like a really high activity, things like being the talent on the show, or doing sales calls, or delivering high level content, workshops, etc.

Whatever it is that you actually do, if you’re a lawyer, like going to the court and winning a high powered case, or, you know, getting getting a contract over the line, if you’re a business development person, etc. Get on those high level tasks, and ditch all the stuff that you shouldn’t be doing. And by the way, one byproduct of that is you might actually have more fun doing what you do.

Al McBride 17:46
Absolutely, because if you’re doing the things that you add the most value, might not be fun, releases, challenging leads, it’s engaging, it’s getting the best out of you.

James Schramko 17:55
If you’re only doing those things, like in my case, I work about 47 to 50 hours a month, 4749 hours a month. And I’ll probably I’ll be on track now for about 41 hours a month. And that’s my, that’s my I call that a semi retired mode. But that’s my run rate. That’s sort of my key performance indicator, if you like, I definitely want to keep it under 50.

But I’m aiming for 40. And I have a six figure income per month, because I have a recurring business model, which is a very important strategy for me. And so my effective hourly rates actually pretty good. But it’s a guide. So if I find myself doing something that someone in my team could do, then I have to sort of stop myself and say,

Hang on a minute, why am I doing this I’ve got I got someone in my team could do this, all I have to DBL to do is to prompt them to do it like to program that instruction or put it into the system so to speak, so that it gets deployed. Had an example of that today.

I discovered that YouTube allows you to have a podcast they’ve got they’ll you can submit your podcast to YouTube. You can create a podcast playlists, you can put artwork, and then you’ll get a little badge and you can have a feed for it. So I went into my team slack and I said, Hey, team, can we please watch this video and then submit our podcast and then this afternoon when I got back from my surf, our podcast is on YouTube.

So that’s an example where in the old days, I would have spent hours messing around trying to figure out my login, gathering the fees, selecting the videos from the playlist extender like would have done that myself, but I definitely wouldn’t do it now.

Al McBride 19:35
makes such a huge difference as you said to your workflow but also to your quality of life. But as I said there are other people who specialize in this but will take you for hours as you said to work something out. They can probably do it in our

James Schramko 19:49
I’d say almost everyone that does the jobs that I give out. significantly better at it than the podcast editors. Yeah. And we’re actually not miles off me uploading samples of my voice and my video image. And I could probably click a button later, and it will start automatically making content within deep fake mode.

It sounds ludicrous. Now, you can already do it with voice. And you can already do text to video, they’re not far off text to video with your image and your content and all that. So we’re going to a different year now.

Al McBride 20:25
Slightly more, it’s a slightly scary, but yeah, but I should

James Schramko 20:29
be scared about it. And we should be excited about it. But it’s happening regardless. That’s the that’s the inevitable point.

Al McBride 20:35
That’s the inevitable point. I mean, are you optimistic about all this, are you thinking this is a great? Well, I’ve

James Schramko 20:41
got a young child, so I have to be as it stands, life is the best it’s ever been for me at my age and my stage in life, I’m extremely happy with how things are going, I will take some responsibility for it. And of course, there’s a huge amount of luck lucky to be born in the right country with the with the you know, English speaking and the things that were definitely well beyond my control, as you know, so you could say there’s privilege, or, or whatever the current work terms for that stuff, I’m aware of it, but then I can’t do anything about it.

So I’m not going to begrudge the luck that I had. But then I’ve had to do things to still end up in the category that I’m in, in terms of where I’m at for life, if you want to benchmark off the peers or the rest of the nation, we have, um, I’m extremely happy that I don’t have to struggle to put food on the table or to pay my bills, etc. So I’ve, I’ve, you know, I put a lot of work into that, like we talked about for the inevitable hard work part, I did crawl over broken glass, I did do it tough for quite a few years there.

But I remember to adapt and to change. And now I’m in a good phase. So yes, I’m optimistic I’m at my age, let’s say I’m at a half life now. I’ve had the next 50 years of being and enjoying new experiences in the waves and, and being around family and doing work that’s meaningful and interesting. And still adapting to the way that things are inevitably going to change, like, we’re probably going to, in my lifetime will probably get extension of lifetime.

Or we’ll probably get close to singularity where we upload ourselves into a computer. I don’t know, I’m not that interested in that, by the way, I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t hit the button if you could do it at the moment. And we’re probably going to get driverless cars, and we won’t even be allowed to drive a car and all this sort of, it’s all coming. There’ll be a centralized currency.

There’ll be more control and mandates on things I’ve imagined. So I’m feel blessed that I was born when I was born. And I’ve had such a good run. But I’m definitely optimistic because I’ll try and control what I can control. And that’s a really important thing.

Because to some extent, the people who want to blame someone else, blame the government blame, inflation, blame the Economic Forum, blame the the Center for diseases, or blamed of, you know, faceless, bad people who are running the world in reality, or whatever, the lizard people, all that stuff. They’re gonna just blame everyone but themselves. And they’re the ones who line up for the Big Lottery payout and hope that they win the big prize, that’s their strategy, the hopium of someone else gifting them, no one is going to gift you a great life, you have to grab it with both hands, I think that’s the most important thing of all.

Al McBride 23:35
Well said, well said. So just looping back to what you were talking about there with the two main areas. So first, we’re going to ask you what is one valuable free resource that you can direct people to, that will help

James Schramko 23:51
I get work less, make more. It’s, it’s the book, it’s the book that I put together. It’s, it covers a lot of this, it helps you calculate your effective hourly rate, it gives you ideas on good business models, tells you which business models are not good that if you are doing would be a terrible mistake, teach you about no compromise.

And also getting yourself in order, like making sure you have fun and that you you’ve set things up well, and a process by which you can make better decisions. It’s free, you can get it from my website, James If you’d like buying the book, go for it. It’s on Amazon. And there’s an audible version of it where I read it. And I think that’ll be a great starting point.

Al McBride 24:30
Let’s just say J James But as I said, there’s so much of a wealth of information and interesting insights, as well as the podcast on James’s website. It’s absolutely worth having a look at and bookmarking it and returning to a time again. So James, just the last question.

So what’s the one question I should have asked you that will be great value for our audience. I know there’s so many possibilities there. It’s a it’s a bit too open, but There’s one extra question that maybe people might be wondering about.

James Schramko 25:04
You know, one of my smartest students who, yesterday actually he just crossed a million dollars for the for the first time, and he’s only young, which, you know, super proud of him for doing that. And you know, it’s life changing for him. He’s moved to a surf town, and he he serves every day. And he’s got a young family.

He’s absolutely crushing it. He always asked me, James, you know, you speak to plenty of people, you see people go, Well, what have you seen working? Well, for them? Like, what what things would you tell me are working on? Give me the shortcut? And I think that’s always a good question to ask people have who have got some exposure to good information?

Al McBride 25:46
Great, great. Ask that question. Yeah, brilliant stuff, brilliant stuff. Get into the, as you said, the people who’ve been there have done that, who have the experience or have the knowledge. And

James Schramko 25:57
before you do anything, like, if you wanted to set up a donut shop, I would say go and speak to three donut shop owners, and ask them everything you can like, what? What do you love about this business? What do you hate about it? Would you do it again? What what insights would you have for someone coming into the industry, if you still want to get a donut franchise after speaking to three donut stores?

Then they probably lied to. But seriously, like you would be so better armed for that before you go and plunk down 150,000 pounds, or euros or dollars on a franchise? Right? Because, you know, the interesting, you know, the important stuff straightaway, within an hour or two?

Al McBride 26:36
Absolutely. As I keep saying to people always be discovering, you know, ask those questions. So open up the field of the conversation, you know, get those nuggets in. You’re absolutely right and simple, especially

James Schramko 26:46
in your field negotiations I can information is absolutely critical, right.

Al McBride 26:51
Absolutely. Absolutely. As you said, it’s getting those gems, those little piece of aha moments that you’re trying to uncover. Absolutely. You need those. You need those questions to open up that conversation. Excellent stuff. Well, James, thank you so much for coming on the show. It’s been an absolute pleasure. And I’m, I’ve just started your book. I’ll be finishing it shortly. And I encourage everyone else to do the same. It’s superb. So thank you so much. Well, thank

James Schramko 27:19
you so much. Yeah, appreciate it.

Transcribed by


James Schramko’s Book: (Free Download) Work Less, Make More

Amazon Book: Work Less, Make More by James Schramko

James Schramko’s Effective Hourly Rate Calculator to work out what you really make

James Schramko on YouTube:

The James Schramko Podcast Episode List 

James mentioned my podcast episode #022 “Flow: The 80/20 of Manager & Maker Time



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