Unscripted: The Pursuit of Life, Liberty and Entrepreneurship with MJ DeMarco

Episode 294

Unscripted: The Pursuit of Life, Liberty and Entrepreneurship with MJ DeMarco

At some point or another in our lives, we’ve probably been told that if we follow our passion, success will follow. However, if you’re an entrepreneur, wantrepreneur, or have friends with struggling businesses, you can probably think of more than a handful of experiences that prove that saying wrong.

Few understand this better than MJ DeMarco. He’s the founder of The Fastlane Forum, a global business community featuring nearly 40,000 entrepreneurs, and Limos.com, a startup he built and grew into a profitable multimillion-dollar company with no money, no formal training, and only a few employees. He’s also the international bestselling author of The Millionaire Fastlane, one of my favorite financial books of all time.

However, before he became a self-made millionaire, he had to try, fail, and ultimately find a way to bring passion to a product that the market truly needed. In his new book, UNSCRIPTED: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Entrepreneurship, he writes about how to build a business that leaves you feeling inspired and fulfilled in addition to paying the bills.

Today, MJ joins the podcast to talk about why the established American narratives about creating wealth are complete garbage, how money can help you do what you love, and how to break free from the cycle of stress, debt, and frustration trapping so many of us in jobs – and businesses – that sap our passions.

MJ DeMarco

Unfortunately, the market doesn’t care about your passion. If they don't want what you have to offer, they're not going to buy it.


  • What MJ learned from his failed entrepreneurial ventures after graduating from college – and why the age-old saying, “follow your passion,” often doesn’t lead to success.
  • The difference between a “productocricy” and a marketing company – and why the former is much more likely to grow into a sustainable, scalable, successful business.
  • How entrepreneurship can lead to a false sense of freedom – and how having money can buy happiness (hint: it has nothing to do with designer clothes or expensive cars).


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MJ DeMarco

Freedom is damn expensive. I mean, it is insanity how much freedom costs. To ignore money's role in that equation, it's just juvenile.



Hal Elrod: Goal achievers, hey, it’s Hal Elrod and welcome to the Achieve Your Goals Podcast. I hope you’re having a good day. I hope you’re having a great day. I hope you’re enjoying every moment because I do believe that is largely what life is about, to find the joy, the love in every moment. And today that’s really not a tie in to the conversation I’m going to have today, but it was on my heart so I thought I’d share it with you. And today I’m actually going to talk to someone who I am a big fan of and I have been ever since I read I believe it’s his first book, years back. And my guest today is MJ DeMarco and MJ is a semi-retired entrepreneur. He’s an investor. He’s a self-made multi-millionaire and international best-selling author whose books have been translated in over 15 languages worldwide. And I can tell you as an author who has foreign translations of their book, it’s really a trip to think that folks that don’t even speak the same language as you, fellow human beings in other parts of the world are reading and being impacted by your work, and MJ is changing lives around the world.


And he’s currently the founder of The Fastlane Forum, which is a global business community featuring nearly 40,000 entrepreneurs and over 500,000 contributions. It’s kind of like the Miracle Morning community, but for entrepreneurs specifically. And prior to embarking into the world of writing and authorship, he was the former startup founder and CEO of Limos.com, which he successfully built and grew into a profitable multimillion-dollar company and he did that all with no money, no formal training, and with just a few employees. As I mentioned, he’s the author of one of my favorite financial books of all time, The Millionaire Fastlane, but he’s here today to talk with us, I’ll ask him a little about The Millionaire Fastlane, but really to talk about his new book, UNSCRIPTED: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Entrepreneurship which he was gracious enough to send me a copy that I hold into my hands and I’ve just recently begun reading it and I’m absolutely loving it. MJ, how are you, my friend?




MJ DeMarco: Good, Hal. How are you doing?


Hal Elrod: I’m doing well. Before we started recording, I went, “This is the first time we’re officially talking to each other?”


MJ DeMarco: No, we’ve been communicating, years.


Hal Elrod: Communicating. That’s a great point. That’s why it felt weird. First time we’ve actually been voice-to-voice, face-to-face, you know?


MJ DeMarco: Yes.


Hal Elrod: Yeah, man. But, yeah, we have been communicating for years and I was turned on to your book and became a huge fan and then all of a sudden a Google search one day I get little Google Alerts and it said it was your Fastlane Forum you had written about the Miracle Morning and I was like, you know, thawed at the floor dumbfounded that one of my favorite authors actually had read my book and was recommending it to your community, man. So, yeah, thank you for that.


MJ DeMarco: You bet. No problem. It’s a great book.


Hal Elrod: So, I know I talked introducing you about how you started out as an entrepreneur before you became an author and I wanted to know, you know, other than what I’ve read about you and read in your work, we don’t know each other personally yet, but I’m excited by the end of this interview to know each other a little better. You were becoming an entrepreneur. Did that start with Limos.com or does it go back further than that?


MJ DeMarco: No. It goes back further than that. Unfortunately, although it’s going back, it goes back to failure. I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur very young but I did take a little detour which into something called college. And after I graduated college, I did not interview for jobs, which made me look like an idiot to all my peers who are graduating and I always said that, “You know what, I’m going to start a business.” So, I waffled around for a good I’d say about three, four years starting various ventures and just really never getting any traction on those ventures. And looking back, I look at that time and I realized just so many mistakes I was making and just so many mental things that were causing my failures. One of them being which is actually a quite popular thing nowadays is the old follow your passion platitude. And that’s pretty much the first three, four years after I graduated college, that’s what I was doing. I was following passion. Unfortunately, the market don’t care about your passion. If they don’t want what you have to offer, they’re not going to buy it, and I couldn’t pay my bills with passion. So, I actually started looking at the market as more of an entity that needed to be, you know, that had needs that I could fill and solve and once I went off in that direction, everything pretty much fell into place.


Hal Elrod: So, I like that you addressed that and, by the way, you reminded me, I mean, I haven’t read Millionaire Fastlane in quite a few years, but you just reminded me what was so special about that book or one of the aspects and what made it catch on. Do you mind sharing how many copies you’ve sold about, by the way?


MJ DeMarco: You know, I have never counted. It’s in its probably 26th printing.


Hal Elrod: Oh, wow.


MJ DeMarco: And it’s usually 5,000, 10,000 books a print. That’s not including digital copies. That’s not including public site. if I would guess, it would probably be around a million.


Hal Elrod: Yeah.


MJ DeMarco: Maybe 900,000, 1,000,001, something like that.


Hal Elrod: And you owned Viperion Publishing.


MJ DeMarco: Yes.


Hal Elrod: Was that considered a self-published book and that you…


MJ DeMarco: Yes, absolutely. And that’s one of the things. It’s a self-published book. I did not hire any book promoters. I did not have a publicist. I mean, it’s interesting because you mentioned earlier, it is easier to find my book in a Paris bookstore or Bangkok or Seoul, Korea than it is to find it in the United States. And that to me as an author is a little bit frustrating because my book is a lot more popular in foreign countries than it is actually here and that’s namely because I believe in owning and controlling my company. I didn’t want to sell it to a publishing company and get 3% royalty or whatever insanity they’re offering.


Hal Elrod: Sure. Yeah. That’s one thing you and I share in common is, you know, both self-published authors. And I have to ask you for the other 15 countries and languages that you’re published in, are you self-published or are you traditionally published in those countries?


MJ DeMarco: No. They’re traditionally published which is why they’re easier to find in the bookstores.


Hal Elrod: Got it.


MJ DeMarco: And I actually only sell licenses to publishers with experience in the market just to give your listeners a good domain experience lesson that I’ve encountered and never sell a license to someone who just wants to translate your book because they’re excited about it. No, I’ve learned my lesson. I’ve had five failed licenses by doing that so no. You’re a publisher, you have books in the market, we can talk.


Hal Elrod: Yeah. I can echo that. My Miracle Morning is self-published in the United States and then traditionally published in all of the other countries, and it has sold more copies in Brazil than it has in the US.


MJ DeMarco: Yeah. It’s interesting how it resonates some places better than others.


Hal Elrod: Yeah, it’s wild. And it’s in every bookstore there whereas it’s only in the Amazon, you know, physical bookstores here.


MJ DeMarco: Well, I see your book all the time in the bookstore. So, you have no problem.


Hal Elrod: I take that back. Barnes and Noble did something with me years ago. I forgot it’s a Barnes and Noble but, anyway, very cool. So, what else do you think? I’d love you to go down on that topic of kind of, you know, you mentioned that you made the mistake of following your passion and taking that advice, right? You’ve heard that, “Follow your passion. It’ll work out.” It could but kind of rolling the dice. You’re making quite a gamble. I like that you said instead of that, look at what the market needs, find a problem that you are qualified to solve, and then go solve it, and people will pay you to solve that problem. So, I wanted to ask you because one of the things I started to say that your book was so special is it was so contrary and it was like, “No, no, no. You’ve been told this and this is why the majority of people are not as successful, as fulfilled, as happy, as healthy because they listen to the mainstream advice,” and you really broke that open in a lot of ways. What are other things that entrepreneurs get wrong?


MJ DeMarco: They don’t understand that everything is driven by relative value. So, when someone opens their wallet and gives you money, what they’re saying is, “Hey, you’ve convinced me that you can deliver something to me in my life, some type of value.” And instead, they like to be more inward focus, self-centered. That’s why to follow your passion thing never – I don’t want to say never. It just rarely doesn’t work because it’s inward-focused. It’s notwithstanding that passion is important. Passion comes later when the market responds in the market. It’s what I call a feedback loop. Now, the market comes back and just says, “Hey, Hal, I read your book, man, and my life has changed.” Well, that’s going to give you a lot of passion. Trust me. I have an inbox filled with people that said, their lives have changed. I just had a gentleman tell me today that he created a product, a men’s product that’s going on QVC. It’s going in Target and Walmart and he’s got a multimillion-dollar company now, and he said, “Thank you so much.”


Well, don’t you think that’s going to make me feel a little bit passionate? So, passion is a very important part of it but ultimately you have to deliver value into the marketplace, see what the market is reflecting back to you and then adjust from there, and then I won’t do anything unless it’s what I call a productocricy. This is in Unscripted, not talked about in the Fastlane but a productocricy is, does your product sell without advertising? Are people recommending it on Facebook? Are they recommending it on Instagram? Are people contacting you out of the blue to see how awesome your product is? That’s a productocricy. And if you don’t have a productocricy, usually what you’re really doing then is having a marketing company. So, when the marketing stops, so does the company.


Hal Elrod: That’s interesting.


MJ DeMarco: So, there’s a difference between an entrepreneur who runs a productocricy, your books would be an example, people sharing them, people recommending them. Having a marketing company meaning when Hal stops advertising The Miracle Morning so does his sales. See, that’s a marketing company. There’s a difference. And it’s no sense to be an entrepreneur unless you’re actually diving into getting one of these productocricies. Otherwise, you’re just a run-of-the-mill marketer and that’s not what an entrepreneurship is about.


Hal Elrod: That is such a great point. I love that you’re sharing what I think that, well, not only most people don’t realize it’s such a unique distinction that if you’re running a business that requires you to be marketing your product in order for it to sell, you’re running a market. That’s a marketing company, marketing business because it doesn’t matter how great the product is. If it was really that great, it would be marketed via word of mouth, which your book that’s how it became huge. That’s how my book became a success and reach a lot of people. How do you create a productocricy? What are the tips on how do you – do you have any specific you can be intentional about creating that word of mouth phenomenon in any product?


MJ DeMarco: Sure. It all comes down what I call value skew. And again, this is in Unscripted. It’s not in Millionaire Fastlane. Value skew is something that compels a user to give you money and it’s different for everyone. So, I don’t want to say it’s complicated, but it’s a very expansive concept. Because like I said, when someone gives you money, there’s a reason why that they give you money. There’s a threshold that you exceed. So, just to give you one of the examples I use, I don’t know if it’s in my book or I used it somewhere else, but it was just a simple bag of tortilla chips. Well, you look at the label. If the label is pleasing, you might buy it. If you look at maybe the price is cheaper than the rest so you buy it. Maybe the package says, “Biodegradable packing.” Okay, well, that might be a reason for someone to buy. In my case, I bought I was looking, I mean, this is a true story, I was looking, I was in the grocery aisle looking at two packages of tortilla chips. One was slightly more expensive, but I chose the one that simply said non-GMO corn. That’s a value skew.


So, what happens is what you want to do is you want to reverse engineer your industry that you’re in and anywhere you can skew value better than the competition, you have a value skew, which means it might compel someone to buy from you over your competitor. So, that could be customer service. Most people a lot of entrepreneurs, unfortunately, default to price, “Hey, I’m going to be the best priced.” Well, that’s the main value skew, but there are so many others, you know, customer service, product ingredients, product, you know, like for instance, I won’t buy any workout products, workout, pre-workout protein powders, whatnot, that have sucralose in it. I see sucralose on the ingredient label, goodbye. Artificial colors, same thing, oh, goodbye. So, those are values skews. So, the more skewing of value, they’re called value attributes, the more value attributes you skew, the more horses you have in the race to win a product to win a sale and then to win a productocricy.


Once you start accumulating those, the productocricy comes into shape. And when people start messaging you, “Hey, your product is awesome. I told my friend about it,” they reorder, maybe they don’t say anything but they reorder. Those are called gravitas. That’s reflecting that you have a productocricy in the works and that’s something you can pursue hard. I don’t have that. I stopped.


Hal Elrod: So, if I’m trying to use my language that for me that I resonate with, would you say that a value skew and obviously it sounds you have more than one, that would be a compelling or an irresistible benefit and therefore people will continue to order and talk about your products. Is that correct?


MJ DeMarco: Correct. Like in old marketing speak, your primary values would be your unique selling proposition.


Hal Elrod: Got it. Your USP, okay, got it. Interesting. So, I want to talk about the new book. That’s where I want to spend the bulk of our time but I want first if anybody were new to your work, new to you, new to your books, if in short, what would you say the Millionaire Fastlane will do for people and then we’ll talk about obviously going more depth on Unscripted. But before we go on to get into Unscripted, I really want to go, “Okay, well hey, because Millionaire Fastlane was for me, I’ll say what did it for me and then you say what it did. Actually, you go first. Share what you think it would do and then I would echo that by sharing how it has impacted me.


MJ DeMarco: Sure. The Millionaire Fastlane is basically trying to show you that and this really ties into my new book as well, that there’s a certain particular narrative that is only acceptable to create wealth. And it is so fu***ng, excuse me, sorry about the language but it is so…


Hal Elrod: We’ll cut it out.


MJ DeMarco: Okay, thank you. It is just crap. It’s just garbage. It’s a narrative that promotes a particular type of existence. You know, Monday through Friday, hey, I’m going to work, I’m going to trade five days of my life so I can get two days here on the weekend. I mean, it’s insanity. And then the insanity of, well, you really need to save all your money, give it to Wall Street, wait 50 years and then you’re going to be rich, then you can retire. Do what you want, have total freedom and all that it’s just a bunch of garbage. There’s a much quicker way to obtain financial freedom and I’m not talking about this new buzzword that’s out there now, which is predicated on a 10-year bull market where you now rely on Wall Street to provide all your income. You know, that’s insanity because if you need to rely on Wall Street to make your house payment or to pay your expenses or pay your living expenses, you’re still not financially independent. You’re financially dependent. You just changed your dependence from a job to Wall Street.


So, this is more of an exploration of how you can retire and when I say retire, I don’t mean you’re sitting around playing golf all day. I’m saying you can retire in total freedom, buy what you want to buy, do what you want to do, and live the exact life you want to live with no one, including people on Wall Street in the stock market, telling you what you need to do or what you might need to do. That what is the Millionaire Fastlane should be able to do for you and Unscripted. They will tie in very, very tightly together.


Hal Elrod: I would say that’s right on par with what the Millionaire Fastlane did for me is that it really opened my eyes to the idea that what we’ve been fed, which is go to college, get a job, work, save a small percentage of your income, put it into mutual funds, hope that the market doesn’t crash again, which it tends to do pretty frequently, and then let that interest compound and then keep working and often at a job that you don’t find fulfilling and it drains your energy and you’re spending a large chunk of your life there. And then you went heavy into this, which is like, oh, and then when you’re 65, when you’re at the ripe young age of 65 then you actually get to enjoy life, right? Once you’re so to speak, your young years behind it, and I think that we’ve been fed that for, I don’t know, my whole life and I think long before I was around my dad’s whole life and his dad’s whole life and so on and so forth. And what you really taught me is this idea that, “No, you’ve got to take complete responsibility for your life, not just your financial life, but for your life.” And if you’re going to live in a monetary society, which won’t do, and that’s part of your life that you’re living. And so, you’ve got to set it up in a way where you have freedom to do what fulfills you, right? If you want to follow your passions, you follow your passions, not to make the money, but because you don’t have to worry about money so you can do whatever you want, right?


MJ DeMarco: I love to write and that’s my passion. And here’s the thing, I don’t need people to confirm, give me money to confirm that passion. So, I can do it freely. I can do it without having to worry. I could start an animal shelter. I’m vegan. I can pursue that. You know, I can do things and not have to worry about money. That is an incredible amount of freedom that we should be aiming for and not deferring life to some future event based on future occurrences and stock market returns and well, you know, da, da, da, da. And the Millionaire Fastlane goes into the mathematics of all this because at the bottom line, as you say, in a monetary society, it’s all about the mathematics. And we have an unprecedented opportunity to tap into mathematics that can make this happen. So, instead of retiring or what I say, unscripting in 50 years or 40 years, you can do it in five to 10 because the mathematics of wealth are more accessible to the average person. And that’s one of the features I really like to hit on, the concepts I like to hit on, because very few people talk about mathematics and how important they are when it comes to wealth.


Hal Elrod: Can you give an example of what do you mean by that?


MJ DeMarco: Sure. First of all, you can’t scale time. The narrative, the scripted narrative of wealth is to trade your time for money and you either trade it hourly or yearly. You have a yearly salary. I make $50,000 a year or I make $50 an hour. You can’t scale that. Your time is limited to 24 hours a day. Your lifespan is limited. Your working life span is probably limited to about 50. You can’t scale those numbers. That’s impossible. Yet, you’ve sold I don’t know how many books you’ve sold, Hal, but I’m guessing at least a million. That number can be scaled.


Hal Elrod: Yeah.


MJ DeMarco: And this goes to anything. It doesn’t have to be a book. It could be food products. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the cookie, Lenny & Larry’s.


Hal Elrod: I’m not…


MJ DeMarco: It’s a vegan protein cookie. I don’t know their story, but I can guarantee you these guys are making money hand over fist because they have a consumable product. It’s on store shelves 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They can sell millions and billions of them and that’s what I’m talking about scalable. When you have a business, there are certain metrics that become scalable, if it’s the right business, obviously. Some businesses are still time trades and that’s what the Millionaire Fastlane and Unscripted try to tell you how to avoid it and what are better ventures to venture into. And it doesn’t have to be internet, but the Internet has become the default.


Hal Elrod: Let me ask you this. I know you talk about this in your books, but with what you’re sharing right now, I feel that you have I know we’re talking about passion. There’s a passion you have for entrepreneurship and the idea that it frees you from what you would call even slavery and you call it slavery in your books of working that nine to five where you have to be somewhere at a time that someone else tells you to be there. You have to do what they tell you to do and I’ve heard that defined as modern-day slavery like you’re working for money to buy food and you’re doing things that someone else wants you to do, not what you want to do. In fact, you say here in the book, you weren’t born to slave nine to five, Monday through Friday, pay bills and then die. When life’s final moment arrives, what will your spirit see, regret and remorse, or peace and happiness?


So, I want to ask you on the topic of entrepreneurship, what are your thoughts on how that relates to anyone and everyone listening? Meaning do you think that entrepreneurship is right for some, not right for others? Do you think that some should have a nine to five job as the primary until they build a side gig that income exceeds it or they should have them both? Like, what are your thoughts on that?


MJ DeMarco: Unfortunately, most people do not want to be entrepreneurs. They’re comfortable. It’s like Cypher in the Matrix. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that movie.


Hal Elrod: Yeah. Sure.


MJ DeMarco: When he’s sitting there with the steak and goes, “I know the matrix exists and I don’t care. I’m just eating the steak. I want to be put in the matrix and just have a nice life.”


Hal Elrod: Yeah.


MJ DeMarco: Well, there are a lot of people that are like that. They don’t care about, you know, but entrepreneurship is accessible for everyone. And if you are one who craves freedom, then that should be your key to obtaining freedom. Entrepreneurship is completely learnable. It’s completely learnable. So, if you’re someone who craves freedom, someone who craves, I’m not suggesting that you can work, pardon the pun, four hours a week and have this huge business. It’s hard. This is a hard career but the benefits of this career if you even succeed, you know, moderately, is just incredible. From, you know, one of your questions that you’re asking is what is your greatest accomplishments? For me, I was thinking, you know what my greatest accomplishment feels like in this particular space is the ability just to get up out of bed when I want to get up. And it’s been like that for 30 years. Because I know people who are just, “I don’t want that damn alarm.” That in itself is priceless. You can’t put money on that. So, yeah, entrepreneurship, hey, if freedom resonates with you, you need to look into being an entrepreneur and learning that craft.


Hal Elrod: Yeah. And I do think that it’s not something that you have to jump off the cliff with both feet service so to speak. It’s something that for me, I had a sales position, which was kind of like a hybrid of entrepreneurship and I set my own schedule. I worked when I wanted to. No ceiling on the income kind of thing but I kept that sense of security where I knew how to earn a consistent income while I built my business on the side. And then once my business on the side, the first-ever business, I don’t know what I was doing, I was 25, once I earned an income from that, I then was able to leave my sales position and be purely an entrepreneur. And there have been, of course, lots of ups and downs and failures and peaks and valleys but ultimately, like you said, for me, one of my favorite words and favorite values is freedom. You know, the freedom to live your life the way that you want to in any given moment and if you’re free to follow your passion, you’re free to earn a great income, you’re free to move.


And I was in the hospital with cancer. I’ve shared this many times and you said it earlier about the Miracle Morning being scalable, right? Even when I’m sleeping, the book is still selling and I’ve got, you know, 13 books. They’re all earning income and impacting lives, regardless of whether or not I’m sitting behind my desk. And so, when I was fighting cancer, I was so grateful and it breaks my heart when I see people that aren’t able, that they don’t have this but our income sustained that year and I didn’t work. I just stayed in the hospital and fought cancer for a year and my wife and kids were covered and if I would have had a job, we would have been, I don’t even know, but it would have been really difficult. So, as far as Unscripted goes, there’s five parts and so the five parts of the book, I want to dive into maybe not all of these based on our time but at least a few of these. So, you say in part one, I will identify the problem that has haunted you since you’ve been old enough to have a job, you’ve sensed it, felt it, and now you fear you’re living it. What is the problem that’s haunted us since we’ve been old enough to have a job?


MJ DeMarco: That this isn’t what life was meant to be about. It’s a dead dream. It’s I get up in the morning, I go to work, I come home, I fix dinner. I go to sleep and then I repeat then I enjoy my Friday night and my Saturday, and then by Sunday, again, I am feeling the absolute dread that it all starts over again. Where does this insanity end? This work is not meaningful to me. This work is not purposeful to me. And that’s what I’d say is as an entrepreneur, you could be selling dog, dog poop cleaning up service or something. That to me would be more passionate, because it’s something I’m doing. It’s something I control. It’s something that I could provide value in a little way. It’s much more better than doing a meaningless job that you can’t stand that just exists to pay the bills for the week so you can do it again next week, next month, and next year, and then hopefully, the stock market never crashes. I’ll get to retire at 55, maybe 60 if I’m lucky. It’s just people are waking up to this insanity.


And that’s why you have a lot of, you know, tiny house movements, you have the FIRE movement, you have all these movements that are about freedom. And unfortunately, they’re attacking it improperly by moving one dependence to another, you know, with Wall Street being one of them, or they’re doing it defensively. Defensively is, “Hey, I’m going to go with no health insurance, I’m going to live in a 200-square-foot house, and I’m going to buy all my food at the dollar store.” Okay, that’s not the proper way to go at it. They’re in the right neighborhood. They’re just at the wrong house


Hal Elrod: Sure. That’s not necessarily freedom because actually, you’re living in confines, right?


MJ DeMarco: Correct. That’s a false freedom.


Hal Elrod: Well, how do you define success, MJ?


MJ DeMarco: Freedom.


Hal Elrod: Freedom, okay.


MJ DeMarco: Health and a nice group of peers, friends, family, relationships, positive relationships. This goes back to the freedom, fitness, family metric in the Millionaire Fastlane.


Hal Elrod: Freedom, health, relationships. That’s it. I love that. I love that. That’s the definition. And what’s interesting is nowhere on that list, I actually had this conversation with my daughter I think it was yesterday. She was asking me about how much money we earned and she was talking about people that were really successful. This friend of ours is very wealthy, and she goes, “Gosh, they’re so lucky.” And I said, “Toby, how do you define success?” She goes, “Well, it’s having a lot of money.” And I go, “Well, what if someone has a lot of money and they’re not happy?” She goes, “Well, why wouldn’t they be happy? They have a lot of money.” That’s a good question.


MJ DeMarco: Well, their money would not be buying freedom. Their money would be buying probably more stuff that incurs bondage and stress.


Hal Elrod: Yeah. And I talked about it. I said, “Look, there’s a lot of celebrities that turned to drugs, alcohol, and sadly, even suicide because they thought that money would buy happiness and that success and fame would buy happiness.” So, what I love about your definition of success is that money was not in there but, obviously, I know and just based on our conversation so far, I think anybody listening gets that that money plays a part in what provides you with freedom, as we just talked about, but also provides you with health because I want to hear people say that I don’t buy organic because it’s too expensive. Like, well, that breaks my heart because it’s like, “Well, that person is missing out on the freedom to the best possible foods in their body and afford a gym membership or whatever else. And then, ultimately, relationships. I just wanted to touch on that because the number one cause of divorce is it’s money. It’s find the financial challenges that stress creates.


So, you think about everything that you define success, freedom, health and relationships, and money, at least in this monetary system. By the way, let me just say this, MJ, like I’m a big I’ve been really going deep into just kind of different documentaries and really understanding that this whole thing is made up. And I’m not a fan of it, but we’re in – you call it The Matrix, right? That movie there was so much real metaphorical truth to it, that we’re all living this matrix that we’ve been started from the beginning that it’s this monetary system where you get a job and you pay taxes to pay the people that lead the country and then you get the job and then you’re fed media that then programs your mind to go buy things that you don’t really need. I need to look like that person so I got to get those clothes and I got to get that car. And so, it’s just this vicious cycle. So, I’m a giant fan of reimagining society like every day probably at least once a day I think about where can I go start a compound where we live off the land like they did 200 years ago? That to me is I’d want the freedom to do that and grow my own food and have relationships.


Anyway, I’m going a little bit too far down the rabbit hole maybe but the point being that if you’re listening to this, does money buy happiness? Well, money eliminates the things that cause divorce, that caused poor health, and then leak away your freedom and that is where money is valuable and until we move to a utopian society or we co-create that society, this is the game that we’re playing.


MJ DeMarco: Freedom is damn expensive. I mean, it is insanity how much freedom cost. To ignore money’s role in that equation, it’s just juvenile. So, yeah, we like to say all your money don’t buy happiness. Well, that’s bullshit. Okay. If money isn’t helping your happiness, that means you’re buying the wrong stuff. You’re not using it to buy your freedom. You’re not using it to buy your health. You’re not using it to spend more time with your kids. So, it’s weird that money is spent and just to sit around and do nothing all day, “retire”, is expensive. I mean, health insurance, property taxes, food. I mean, it just keeps going up and up.


Hal Elrod: Yeah. No, it absolutely does. And to your point, you know, I’ve heard lots of quotes, some of them kind of flipped but they say money doesn’t buy happiness, but neither does poverty and definitely. I want to hear your thoughts real quick on what I was just talking about, which is that like our society as it is. I’d love to hear what’s your opinion on the monetary system that we all have been born into and so we think it’s normal, but it’s really not normal. It’s all just made up. It’s just made up. We’ve been fed that this is important and that is important, but it’s not. It doesn’t exist in nature.


MJ DeMarco: Yeah. I don’t know how deep you are into Unscripted but I get into this a little bit. Not too much.


Hal Elrod: I must not be there yet.


MJ DeMarco: Yeah. Based on the way you’re talking, you’re going to really enjoy it.


Hal Elrod: I’m excited.


MJ DeMarco: But it’s basically a scam but it’s a scam we have to abide by. You can’t just walk away from it because it is what it is but the fact of the matter is, we’re all slaves and we’re all been collateralized for our labor and consumption in our taxation. You didn’t mention that you’re stamped with the barcode the minute you’re born. You’re stamped with the barcode except the barcode isn’t on your forehead, it’s on your birth certificate, and it’s called a social security number. And all this is to collateralize you into a debt slave who will help fund the monetary system. Hopefully, the way they want you to fund the monetary system which means go to college and spend $100,000 in debt and get a worthless degree so you’re stuck working for the next 50 years to pay for it. Gee, that’s the perfect slave that they’re trying to create. I’m trying to say teach people how to get out of this rat race. You still have to play the game but there’s a way to play it, where you don’t have to participate in it to the degree they want you to participate in it. And that’s, in a nutshell, what a lot of Unscripted is about.


The bulk of the book is about starting a business, but the initial portions of it go into this paradigm that we have to operate within that it’s just ridiculous. I mean, think about it. You’re educated Monday through Friday for 18 years, so you can be educated to work for the next 50 years Monday through Friday. Yeah, that makes perfect sense.


Hal Elrod: Well, yeah, and I really feel your book and Millionaire Fastlane did this too but this one you’ve taken to the next level. It does feel like an unplugging from The Matrix a bit where you kind of realize in order for you to play the game in the way that is the best for you and your family, the game of life, this monetary system part, you really have to understand it. And because we’re literally in The Matrix throughout life like until you’re unplugged, you start looking at it, you go, “I never realized that I was living this way and that this is how things worked.” And then once you do, at first, it’s really stressful. You first start learning you’re like, “Oh my god, what? I can’t believe that I’m part of this,” and I didn’t even realize it and then you have to start kind of make peace with it.


MJ DeMarco: I mean, it’s frustrating. I pay cash for my house, seven-figure house, cash. If I don’t pay the property taxes, it’s gone.


Hal Elrod: So, you don’t fully own it.


MJ DeMarco: I don’t know. The property tax is a lease to the state. When I stop paying that $8,000 a year and in three months, it will be gone. All the money I paid for, it will be gone because it’s a lease. I don’t own it. And that’s part of this, I mean, I don’t go in that too deeply because that’s a whole different book.


Hal Elrod: I know, I know, I know like how far we go right now. How far should we go?


MJ DeMarco: Yeah. This is the system you have. Let’s learn how to win within that system.


Hal Elrod: Yeah. Let’s leave it at that. I could go further down the rabbit hole but let’s leave it at that. This book will teach you how to win in this system, how to create a life of freedom, of health and relationships, goal achievers. So, I encourage you to check it out. Grab this book, Unscripted. I had started reading it when you sent it to me, MJ, and then it got put on my shelf and I pulled it back out and I realized this is the book I’m diving into until it’s done because I know how phenomenal you are at writing and sharing ideas that are really almost hidden in a way that once we learn these ideas, we become liberated. We become free. So, thank you for the work that you’re doing, my friend.


MJ DeMarco: You bet, man. Appreciate it.


Hal Elrod: It was good talking. So, are you working on another book by the way? I didn’t know that.


MJ DeMarco: Yeah. Actually, Unscripted is a three-part series.


Hal Elrod: Oh, it is? That’s part one. And then you got two. Oh wow.


MJ DeMarco: I got two more. I own the trademark on Unscripted. So, we’re going to do three of them. One of them is going to be fiction, fictional story. So, again, this is one of your follow your passion. I can just go off script and just write a book that’s a business book, but it’s entirely fiction. It was a story about an entrepreneur who’s struggling, a story of someone who’s discovering that the system is not designed for dreams. It’s designed for dependence. So, I’m excited about that. I’m passionate about it and I can do it because I have no one to answer to.


Hal Elrod: That’s beautiful. You have the freedom. Well, normally, so there’s something I’ll mention to you right now. I’m just planting the seed, but I’ve recently felt called to form what you might call an alliance of conscious messengers of people that are conscious and aware and sharing their message in a way that can elevate the consciousness of others. I feel like there’s so many of us, I mean, thousands and thousands of when I say us, authors, entrepreneurs, speakers, that are out there with messages, but we’re all kind of disjointed, right? We’re all running our own races and I want to bring us all together and ask the question, what does the world need from us? What does humanity need to wake up? And anyway, if you’re open to it, I’m going to add you to that list and hopefully get us all together at some point in 2020.


MJ DeMarco: Oh, that sounds exciting.


Hal Elrod: Yeah, I’ll reach back out once I have more details and more clarity.


MJ DeMarco: Okay.


Hal Elrod: Alright, man. Well, I appreciate you, my brother, and we will look forward to talking to you again soon.


MJ DeMarco: Alright, man. Thanks for having me. It was a pleasure.


Hal Elrod: You got it.




Hal Elrod: Well, goal achievers, hope you enjoyed this conversation. My first conversation, that was not via text or email with MJ DeMarco who I love and appreciate and respect and really value his wisdom. And I think you’re going to love his new book, if you love it anywhere close as much as I loved his first book, and I’m already enjoying the new one, UNSCRIPTED: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Entrepreneurship available on Amazon, I believe in all formats. So, until next time, thank you for being a listener to the Achieve Your Goals podcast. It really, really means a lot to me. And we might be renaming it in the new year. I’ve been toying with that, but I’m highly indecisive. So, I’ve got a handful of ideas and I’m not sure which one we’re going to land on. But either way, it’ll be me. The podcasts will continue and it’s an honor to share the space with you. Love you, appreciate you, and I will talk to you next week. Everybody take care.



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