Care more deeply for others but care less what others think of you.
Liam McClintock received his B.A. from Yale and left a career in finance to travel through Asia and study meditation full-time. He became a multi-certified meditation instructor and when he returned, he created a technology-enabled meditation training company, FitMind.
Where did the idea for FitMind come from?
I started meditating to improve productivity because I heard from entrepreneur Tim Ferriss that 80-90% of the most successful people in the world on his podcast meditate regularly. I began attending retreats and eventually realized that there is so much more to meditation than the “McMindfulness” currently marketed as a quick-fix stress reduction tool. I began to see both a business opportunity and a personal passion forming around re-branding meditation as something more exciting and scientific that is accessible to everyone.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I try to wake up by 5:30 am but always get 8 hours of sleep, so sometimes that means sleeping in later. Sleep is non-negotiable for me because I’ve noticed that it’s the biggest determinant of my productivity that day. First thing in the morning, I drink a large glass of water, meditate and take a cold shower. Beyond that morning routine, there is no typical day. I go to the gym every other day and try to mix up my work location so that I feel stimulated. Calls and meetings are usually scheduled for the afternoon so that I can do “deep work” in the mornings and avoid distracting thoughts.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I am a visual creator so ideas are always formed on the whiteboard first. I like to spend several days in the idea phase getting creative and even downright whacky. Then I reality-check and research to make sure the idea is feasible. From there, I determine an action plan and figure out the first steps. Once an idea has been boiled down to steps, it looks pretty manageable and I just dive into the first step.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Mental fitness. As meditation continues to gain widespread adoption in the West, I think it will come to be termed “mental fitness.” I am passionate about what I do because I believe that mental fitness will be the single most important component of our human wellbeing in the years to come. While technology is wonderful, its development doesn’t always accompany an increase in wellbeing. I hope that our species will catch up to our material advances with large-scale psychological advances in the coming years.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Every morning (or the night before) I write down the three most impactful items that I need to accomplish that day, and then prioritize them. If I get those three items done, then I’ve “won” the day and fulfilled the Pareto principle (the 20% of action that creates 80% of results). It’s so easy to get bogged down by details, emails, and distractions instead of devoting energy to the most pertinent tasks, which often require more brainpower.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Care more deeply for others but care less what others think of you.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
It is more essential to train the mind than the physical body. I don’t think most people realize that we can train the mind as a muscle through self-directed neuroplasticity, more commonly known as meditation. Since our minds are with us all the time determining our entire experience of the world (and can be improved, as countless studies have shown), it makes sense to train them.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I goal-set with specific outcomes every few weeks. Doing so is like planting a target out in the future that I can aim toward, whether it’s one week out, a year or ten years. For example, right now there is a stickie note on my mirror that reads “5,000 subscribers.” That’s a specific goal I have for my app by year-end. I think without specific, realistic yet ambitious goals, it’s easy to drift and end up settling for mediocrity.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I began reaching out to influencers in my space to form partnerships. Even famous/semi-famous people are surprisingly helpful if you pay them a compliment and ask for help. Plus, what’s the harm in asking? With a name and website, almost anyone’s email address can be found online. If they’re a blogger, for example, I’ll ask if they would like to check out my meditation app and potentially share it with their audience.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I chose an expensive fulfillment center for my nutrition company that was destroying our margins. We had to change fulfillment centers and learned a valuable lesson about vetting vendors and shopping around to find the right price, as well as negotiating (e.g. “Do you have any discounts for startups? We’re small now but our inventory will grow as we expand.”)
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
In general, good businesses are built all the time in traditionally “unsexy” or “smelly” industries that don’t get talked about. When I worked in private equity, we loved investing in these companies. Industries like plumbing and maintenance often have room for innovation but most entrepreneurs would prefer to build a glamorous product. Why not go where others are unwilling? For example, a logistical software solution for janitorial enterprise services would be recurring, non-cyclical and high margin. Low competition and opportunity exist in traditionally unglamorous places!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Books have been without a doubt my best investments. Each book has the potential to substantially alter the course of my life. One book that could end up saving me 5,000+ hours over my lifetime is called The Productivity Project, by Chris Bailey, all about getting the most out of our limited time, attention and energy.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I use Notion (similar to Evernote) to organize all of my thoughts and ideas. Without Notion, I’d be an absolute mess and would lose a lot of ideas! I have pages devoted to goal-setting, to-do’s organized by category and importance, email templates, podcast notes and pretty much anything else I’d ever want to remember. It’s like a filing cabinet and frees up space in my brain for more creative work.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
To give a different answer from the book mentioned earlier, I think everyone should read Influence: The Science of Persuasion, by Robert Cialdini. From a marketing perspective, a business relationship perspective and for life and general, it helps to know how our brains are wired psychologically.
What is your favorite quote?
“You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” – Marcus Aurelius
• Embrace the idea phase of any creative project or endeavor. Then take it to the next stage and organize.
• Set specific outcomes every few weeks
• Read. Read. Read.
• Remember the power of determining your own mind
Company website: www.fitmind.co
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.