“When I was four years old, I got stuck. I grew up in Hawaii and Hawaii has a strong Japanese influence and my grandfather was a black belt in Judo. So, they stuck us in Judo when I was four. And I basically did Judo competitively until the time I was about 18. And I was fortunate enough to move to California in about middle school and train with the coach that coached the US Olympics in Judo. So, I had a chance to have a childhood background in martial art three, four days a week competing my whole childhood.”

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JESSE: Welcome to the Smart Athlete Podcast. I’m your host, Jesse Funk. My guest today, a very busy guy, so I’m glad he has decided to spend some time with me. He’s the CEO at BOOM by Cindy Joseph. He’s also the CEO for Zipify Apps and the founder of Smart Marketer. Welcome to the show, Ezra Firestone.

EZRA: The Smart Athlete Podcast.

JESSE: No affiliation with all your smart brands, really unintentional.

EZRA: Great name, and I approve. And yeah, I’m happy to be here. And thanks for having me on the show.

JESSE: Thanks for being flexible. So, for anybody listening or watching on YouTube who isn’t familiar with Ezra, I’m very familiar with Ezra well because he’s kind of a rock star in the eCommerce space and that’s kind of where I live. So, if you’re considering doing anything eCommerce related, look up Ezra Smart Marker, Mali, that kind of group of people does a lot of I’ll say hucksters out there to be nice. And Ezra always delivers. If you start getting his ads, he’ll give you like a 60-minute lecture for free.

EZRA: [??? 02:29] visit my site because then you will start getting my ads.

JESSE: Yeah.

EZRA: [??? 02:35] you really want to know about eCommerce.

JESSE: Yeah. So, I just want to put that out there and just give you a personal thank you because you do put out a lot of value for free you don’t charge for that other people would charge a ton of money for.

EZRA: Thanks, man. Yeah, I like doing it’s fun. And I think the difference, you said shysters, and it’s like, you find a lot more people who are selling opportunity are the ones who you got to kind of watch out for, not that there’s no good opportunities out there. But like, we don’t sell opportunity. We sell information and education for business owners who already have brands. So, we’re continuing education for business owners. And then there’s people who sell business opportunity, which is, hey, buy my stuff, and I will show you how to start a business.

Which is really a wonderful thing to offer in the world and I’m glad those people exist. And more people in that category are selling bullshit than people in the education category. So, for us, we don’t really teach people how to get started. That’s just not what we specialize in. We specialize in, hey, if you have a business, here’s how you can make it function better. So, we’re educators. We sell business education, not business opportunity.

JESSE: Yeah. I just think for people that are not that this isn’t really like an entrepreneurial podcast, but just for people that are starting out, sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between the BS and the real thing.

EZRA: Let me give you a quick way. If someone is promising that it’s gonna be fast and easy, and you’re gonna make a lot of money, they’re selling you a load of bullshit. It doesn’t mean that you can’t have it go fast, and it doesn’t mean that some people don’t make money quickly. But it’s like a more realistic view of what it takes to start a business is 12 to 24 months and 10 to 20 grand, and I mean an online business, and a whole bunch of time and effort.

If you’re gonna commit to that, okay, yeah there’s a chance you can be successful. But if it’s like, dude, you’re gonna buy this course and in three months, you’re gonna be driving around on a Lamborghini. It’s like, “Fuck off.” Pardon my language.

That is really, I don’t know what the code is here, but that’s where you’re not– [crosstalk] don’t buy one of those dropshipping courses from some dude in a Lambo with ripped jeans and a fedora. And I’m pro ripped jeans and fedoras and whatever kind of fancy car you want to have. I’m not anti any of that stuff. But I’m just saying there’s a cliche style of person selling business opportunity drop shipping course and that tends to be in that vein.

And those are kind of like the premier biz op offers at the moment. There have been different ones over time. But that’s kind of like the predominant one of the time. I’m sure you’ve seen them all over YouTube.

JESSE: Yep, yep. Yep. I’ve been seeing them since I was 19. So, it was on one of these webinars that Ezra does from time to time kind of giving out information. Because I get Ezra’s emails to multiple of my emails. So, I get like duplicates and all this stuff.

EZRA: Thanks, man.

JESSE: And so I was always wondering, was you and Molly and John Grimshaw. A while back when you guys are doing you’re– during the COVID you’re like– [crosstalk]

EZRA: [??? 05:52] coaching?

JESSE: Yeah. And you’d mentioned doing martial arts growing up and I was like, I really should talk to Ezra. ‘Cause I’m trying to find this weird niche intersection of people that kind of do sports but also really excel at something else. So, I was like, that’s why I decided to reach out to Molly and see if I can get in touch with you since I haven’t we have never met in person. So, tell me about martial arts growing up. I think you mentioned your brother did it or still does it? What’s that all about?

EZRA: Yeah. When I was four years old, I got stuck. I grew up in Hawaii and Hawaii has a strong Japanese influence and my grandfather was a black belt in Judo. So, they stuck us in Judo when I was four. And I basically did Judo competitively until the time I was about 18. And I was fortunate enough to move to California in about middle school and train with the coach that coached the US Olympics in Judo.

So, I had a chance to have a childhood background in martial art three, four days a week competing my whole childhood. And then right around that age of where you’re really kind of open to the ability to– You really have like this ability to learn in those early middle school to late high school years where you can just absorb things to train at a very, very high level in a competitive martial art.

And I did all kinds of stuff. I played basketball and I was on the wrestling team and I did all kinds of sports, but Judo– and jujitsu and all kinds of stuff, boxing. But Judo was really my love and what I was the best out of everything I did, and it was great. It was really a wonderful thing to have.

And I feel like there’s been several things in my life, Judo being one of them, poker being another, some other art forms, where I’ve learned the skill set of mastery where I’ve truly mastered that path. I mean, look, you never master something really, right? It just keeps getting deeper.

But if you look at like, where the average person who has engaged With the art form, and then where somebody who has devoted a lifetime to it 20 years of study and really deep study, that skill set of mastery is the skill set that I think you need to acquire as a human being, which is the willingness to put your attention in one area consistently over time. Even when you come up against roadblocks, even when it’s not easy.

And that skill set of mastery I think has served me in every area of my life; my relationship, my business, like just willingness to show up and keep at it, and keep a positive attitude, and document what I learned and use that to inform the learning process going forward. And like that study that you learn in athletics, I think has been hugely beneficial to me. And I wish every kid had that had the privilege of having that experience.

JESSE: And I think I knew this. I think I heard you mentioned playing poker previously but I’d forgotten about it. It seems like when you were playing you, did you play live professionally for a while?

EZRA: Yeah, yeah. I played on the underground scene in New York City and [??? 09:11].

JESSE: Did you notice like, any kind of correlation with martial arts in poker? I feel like there’s some kind of connection there.

EZRA: Well, I mean, there’s this necessity to relax and intensity in order to be good at athletics, in my opinion. Like if you seize up, you’re going to be– you’re screwed. You have to be able to stay calm in the chaos and be able to be deliberate and respond to your instinct. And you need that in poker too, when you’re in the middle of a super intense– And poker is a little better because you have time. You had a couple minutes before you, like you can read what’s going on. But there’s no pressure to like– And in athletics, there’s no time.

You’ve been fully present and you must respond now. Poker, you have a little bit of space, but you still have that sort of like, hey, some shit is going down and I gotta make a move. And it’s got to be informed by what’s happening. And I need to trust my read in this situation. You start second-guessing your read and that’s the end of it, man.

JESSE: Yeah, I mean, think about sparring, it’s– I have a hard time saying it’s entirely muscle memory. And I guess it is, in a sense, but it almost seems like you’re talking about relaxing in that high-pressure situation. It’s almost like when you’ve kind of reached a point where you’re thinking but you no longer have an internal dialogue. You’re simply motion. You know what I mean? Like in the middle of a bout.

It’s like you’re making conscious decisions to step this– I did karate, so I was more stand up than Judo, but you’re making the decision, I’m going to move this way or move that way or I need to shoot through this particular gap or whatever it is. And it’s not like– you’re not Ezra inside your head saying, okay, Ezra, do this, it just is what you’re doing.

EZRA: Yeah, for sure. I mean, I have a Taekwondo background as well. So, I’ve done some in boxing, right. So, I’ve done sparring with strikes and it’s intense.

JESSE: So, you’re saying you did it till 18? What was the shift?

EZRA: Well, I got interested in women and money. And I was kind of burned out. I’d done it, I mean, I competed internationally. I just it was like my whole world for so long and I was done, man. And I wasn’t– You don’t make any money doing Judo and I wasn’t good enough to make the Olympic team. So, what was I gonna do? It’s like I could keep going and just be a Judo guy.

But that didn’t look like the most fun path. And so I quit Judo and I moved to New York to play poker for a living. And then that was now 16 years ago, and then the rest of my life has unfolded. And in the last eight years or so, I’ve gotten back into jiu jitsu, and martial arts and stuff, but not at the kind of like– My brother teaches the kids class in the town over here. But not at the level that I was at. I don’t know that I’ll ever be back to that level of… I mean, who has the time to train like that?

But yeah, I mean, it was great. And then it was time to move on from a life that was dedicated to athletics and have a life where I figured out how to make money and how to support myself and how to be a responsible adult.

JESSE: Yeah. And thinking about time, this is something I think, especially with you, because since I exist in this kind of eCommerce space, it seems like you’re everywhere in a good way. But just you’re all over the place; several businesses. I think I heard you talking the other day, I don’t know if it was your chat with Molly and an ad I’d seen or what it was about you’d sold several businesses before the businesses you’re doing now. And so the question really [??? 13:34] for all of us, athlete or not is, I mean, how do you get so much time to do anything given that you’re doing so many things?

EZRA: I mean, I think it’s an illusion because you have to consider that I have been full-time working on my production cycles, my businesses since I was 20 and I’m 33. So, I’m 13 years deep. I only ever do one thing at a time. But what I focused on from– what I’ve understood from the very beginning is that I don’t want to be the bottleneck or the thing limiting the growth or possibility.

And so I focused on delegation and systems. And a solopreneur can grow a business to just about a million bucks, kind of doing it all yourself; doing the customer support, doing the supply chain, doing the advertise… doing everything. That’s like the high end. You get like three or four people, you can have a business with three or four people and some contractors. A contracted designer, a contracted developer, a contracted customer support person, you can grow a business to a couple million dollars, if you want to.

I’m playing this game because I enjoy it. I enjoy making good products that serve the world, but I’m also trying to make money. And given that the goal is wealth creation, and I am a person who studies and analyzes people who came before me and reads books and like, looks at what am I trying to achieve and then what are the most models out there that exist; one of the things I came across early was like, hey, if the goal is wealth creation, and the goal is to generate as much wealth as possible in a pleasurable way, and then use that wealth and that resource towards causes that I find noble, I’m going to set up my infrastructure from the beginning to be able to be big.

And some I have close to 100 employees at this point. So, it looks like I’m doing a lot because I got a lot of people’s time and energy in the direction of my production cycles.

So, it’s incredible how much one person besides yourself can do in an eight-hour workday, right. Now, multiply that by 85. And that’s why you see me everywhere. I might do one video, but you’re going to see it all over. And I would recommend not sort of comparing whatever your cycle is to where I’m at because I’m 13 years deep, and I have now three businesses that are operating at scale.

But I only ever started the second and third one after the first one was up and going, right. I think it takes like two to three years to really get something moving, really get it like two to three years of consistent solid, full-time, 40-hour workweek attention in the direction of a business before you can step out of the role of CEO and everything and kind of move on to create something new and still have that thing work.

And if you look at Smart Marketer, right, I now only have two businesses I’m responsible for [??? 16:26] and Zipify. Smart Marketer, I have a CEO, Molly. She’s really running the day to day. I am still holding container and frame and I’m on calls and I’m like, doing stuff but not anywhere near as much as what I was doing before she was around, right? I’m not teaching the courses, writing the courses.

I’m doing some blog posts here and there. I’m showing up to the team calls and giving direction and feedback, that kind of thing. So, it’s an illusion. It looks like I’m doing more than I am because I have so many people supporting my action.

JESSE: So, thinking about I mean–

EZRA: It’s like I’m the quarterback of the football team, right? He’s got 26 guys, but he gets all the credit.

JESSE: Right, right. I mean, I obviously can take that all the heart. But thinking about probably the person listening to us, they may not have a business. Do you still incorporate those kind of ideas about system building into your personal life?

EZRA: Yeah. I mean, do you want to talk about it in terms of athletics or do you want to talk about it in terms of personal life, I could talk [??? 17:25]

JESSE: Could be either, either.

EZRA: So, I find that like, structure and routines sets you free. Like let’s say you have water. Well, if you don’t have a tube, you can’t direct the water anywhere, right? Like container allows direction and flow. And so I set up structures for myself that then allow me to achieve the results that I want in life. So, I have a structure for my life. I get up at 7:00 AM, I make myself a green tea.

I mess around on the internet, and have some fun, and look at what’s going on in the world and check my email just kind of do nothing for 45 minutes, and I work out from 8:00 to 9:30. Then I shower and spend an hour and a half or so making breakfast with my wife talking to her about her day, what we’re going to do, how she’s feeling. I spent some time with her.

Then I put in an 11:00 to 2:00 work session. That’s like three hours. I break at 2:00, I have lunch, 2:00 to 3:00. I put in another session three to 5:00 or 6:00. And then the rest of the evening is hanging out with my wife or having some social life or doing some hobby. I’m working like six hours a day, but those six hours are deliberate and specific. I’m making time for myself and my movement and my body and my own silence. I’m making time for my relation, like what I care about.

Building my own surplus so I have surplus to give off energy, taking care of my body, eating well, sleeping well, feeling good having time for myself, and my thoughts. Moving the needle in my businesses such that I can honor the commitments I have to my team and my employees and generate resource to take care of my family and my community and causes in the world that I find noble and keep the ball moving there.

My relationship with my wife, investing in that on a daily basis, showing up to that to have fun and do what I can to help us have more intimacy and connection. And then projects in our personal life, like socializing or like our land that we’re developing or you know what I mean? I have structure around and container so that my attention goes to the places that I want it deliberately and it doesn’t mean you don’t fall out of that.

I mean, routine is not the goal. Routine is a tool that leads you towards the goal and you’re going to fall out of your routines. But the key is to get back into them. So, yeah, man. I use routine as a tool in every area of my life, and it’s very effective.

JESSE: Is that basically, I think sometimes I have trouble with working too late. Is that routine basically a way to say, hey I’m done for the day, I’ll get to it tomorrow?

EZRA: Yeah, you just don’t– like, what happens is it’s very hard when you’re a digital worker, because the work is always available. And you might think I got nothing better to do, I’d be watching Netflix or what you know, I could just keep going, right? But what happens is, and there are times for that, and I understand that, and I have been there.

And there’s some times where you got to grind. But if that becomes the backdrop of your life, you shoot yourself in the foot because you begin to like, basically, every study shows that after an eight-hour workday, your production, your output just tanks, man. I mean, it just falls off a cliff. And so you think you’re getting shit done, but you’re really not. You’re just fucking off in the work hours that you had earlier.

So, when you really set that container, you end up being forced to do the things that you need to do in the time that you have. And you end up ignoring your body, ignoring your social life, ignoring your relationships, ignoring your hobbies, not having any space from the production cycles, so then the production cycle becomes your whole world, and you’re not objective from it.

And all the best ideas I have are when I’m not working. It’s like you have to create, you have to be vigilant about creating that separation because it is actually in the best interest of your mental health and your business success. And it’s hard to do, it’s a constant battle.

JESSE: Well, it’s really counterintuitive to, not counterintuitive, but kind of the counterpoint to all this stuff you see about hustle, hustle, hustle, go, go, go all the time and knowing that that’s simply not sustainable.

EZRA: You’re an athlete, think about what happens to your body when you do that, it breaks down.

JESSE: Right. And that’s why like, as an athlete, like I’ve stepped back. There was a time when I was trying to be a professional and I was working out 20 hours a week. It just became to the point where it wasn’t sustainable anymore. So, I had to step back to be able to do more stuff. So, I’m definitely with you there. That does make me wonder though. I mean, you’re familiar with Steve, Steve [??? 22:16] and that kind of group of people.

I can’t remember if it was Steve or Tony or who was talking about the four burner theory. Do you know what I’m talking about where you have four burners; health, work, family, friends, and if you want to be really good at one, you’re gonna have to turn at least one off and only do three and sometimes turn two off.

EZRA: I think that is such bullshit. Who said that? Because they are… Okay. Sure. Go down that road and see how that does for you. Look, the goal is not success at all costs. What is the goal? Okay. Do you want to have the biggest business you can possibly have at all expenses?

If that’s the case, okay, fine. Go fucking Elon Musk and just be a crazy person, don’t sleep and only focus on your business. And I mean, look at Toby from Shopify, that guy’s a multi-billionaire with the biggest tech company Canada’s ever produced. And he only works a 40-hour workweek. So, it can be done. And I don’t want the biggest company at all costs.

I want a happy and healthy body. I want a happy and healthy relationship. I want a happy and healthy family life. I want a happy and healthy and fulfilled social life. I want hobbies and I want a successful business. I want all of that. And I want to have fun and make good stuff and be profitable. I don’t care how big it gets. It’s like not about how much money. Like it’s a misguided approach to say how much money can I make? The right approach, in my opinion, is how much fun can I have? How good of products can I make? Can I have a profitable business while also you know taking care of all the other stuff in my life that needs to be taken care of?

JESSE: That’s fair enough. Ezra, since I know you are very busy, we’re a little bit shorter episode today. So, I’m going to jump to, this is the question I’m asking everybody this year because it kind of is cross-sectional and everybody kind of has a different answer. So, I’m asking everybody, what do you think the purpose of sport is?

EZRA: The purpose of sport I mean, enjoyment.

JESSE: Succinct answer.

EZRA: [??? 24:32] That’s what I think.

JESSE: No, that’s good. That’s good. Ezra, obviously, we talked about Smart Marketer, if people want to kind of see what you’re up to, if they wanna get into eCommerce, any of that kind of stuff, kind of figure out what’s happening with you; where can they find you?

EZRA: You can go to SmartMarketer.com or you can go to Instagram.com/EzraFirestone or @EzraFirestone on Instagram.

JESSE: Sounds good. Thanks for spending some time today with me.

EZRA: Yeah, man, super fun. Thanks for having me on and look forward to coming back sometime.

JESSE: Good deal.

EZRA: Smart Athlete Podcast.