10 Ways to get to black belt faster


A lot of people have been asking me how I moved through the belts so fast, so I thought I’d share ten things that helped accelerate the journey.

1. Ten years at white belt. One of the advantages of having been at white belt for so long before embarking this journey was having a lot of intellectual property (IP) already developed. This meant that I could go hard and fast in a couple of directions without having to spend a lot of time thinking and developing IP and packaging it up.

However this does not mean that I am suggesting you wait 10 years as a strategy to do white belt to black belt quickly! It just means that if you haven’t done that, it may take you a little longer than 125 days. In other words it’s taken me 10 years to become an overnight success.

2. Appropriate Angst – and a powerful decision.Another benefit of the 10 years was what Matt calls appropriate angst. I felt like my practice owed me. I left Accenture ten years ago, and if I had stayed I’d be a partner on more than $500k a year by now … I had some catching up to do! So when I did Million Dollar Expert, and saw the model I made a very powerful decision that I was going to do whatever it takes to get to black belt.

3. Hard work. I’ve never been afraid to roll my sleeves up and get to work, but over the last five months I’ve taken that to a whole new level. When I was on “holiday” in Bali I only had one day where I wasn’t working. Since getting back I’ve been working seven days a week every week. Of course this isn’t sustainable – and both my wife and my mum have told me they are worried about how hard I’ve been working. What I’m working on now is maintaining the income level with a saner amount of work.

But make no mistake, one of the main reasons that I moved so fast was I did the amount of work that most people do in a year in 125 days.

4. Looking after myself. To be able to maintain my output and productivity, I’ve had to look after myself, stay fit and healthy. I’ve made sure I eat well, exercise, sleep and have quality relaxation when I’m off. Ivan Waters, my good friend and fellow mentor has been a critical part of my team, and has stayed on my case to make sure these things don’t drop out.

And funnily enough I’m sitting at breakfast in a Brisbane hotel getting ready to deliver a keynote as I write this. There is a big buffet with all sorts of pastries and cooked stuff and pancakes with chocolate drops that you can put on top (I kid you not) and I’m sitting here with a bowl of fruit and a cup of tea.

5. Writing my blog. There is something about a big public declaration to keep you going. If I hadn’t set out to do white belt to black belt in 365 days and blogged about it every week, I definitely would have eased off a bit earlier and taken a bit longer.

6. Immersing myself in the methodology. The Million Dollar Expert Program is an amazing methodology for capturing, packaging and selling your IP, and moving from white belt to black belt. When I was preparing to deliver the program last month I got blown away all over again by the depth and quality of the content in MDE. And I have immersed myself in this methodology and followed the steps. I did MDE with Matt, did it with him again, blogged about it, got mentoring from him and other mentors and ran the program myself. In short I’ve lived and breathed it for the last six months.

7. Running Clusters in Parallel. And then I broke a couple of rules to speed things up. One of the things we say to do is to establish one cluster (one combination of message, market and mode), make sure that’s sustainable, and then launch the next. I launched 3 new clusters pretty much simultaneously, and had income from five different clusters to get me to black belt.

8. Leveraging other peoples IP. To be a thought leader you need to be developing your own thinking and your own IP. However one way that I accelerated things was leveraging off other peoples IP in a couple of my clusters. As a Thought Leaders Mentor I’m using Matt’s IP, and delivering his stuff in MDE. My Innovation training is delivering stuff that was developed by Amantha, who I am collaborating with in that cluster.

Having said that, I haven’t turned off my brain in those clusters. My 90 day white belt to black belt mentoring program uses my own IP and experience to help people implement what they learn in MDE. I’m developing new innovation programs and IP with Amantha. But not having to develop everything from scratch has sped things up.

9. Leveraging other peoples markets. Another thing I’ve done is find people who already have databases and work with them. One of my clusters is about helping bookkeepers grow their businesses. We’ve had an association of bookkeepers promote us to their members, and fill seminars for us where we’ve delivered our distribution keynote. Because I don’t have a database of people in this market who know and value what I do, leveraging someone else’s database made sense.

10. Think, sell and deliver value. Final thing has been changing my mindset about what I sell and deliver. Check out Steve Major’s discussion group on value models on Thought Leaders Central if you haven’t yet – he is the master of this distinction. In short I’ve gone from selling my time as a business coach to selling value as a thought leader, and charging accordingly. I could write another 1000 words on this one, but I’ll leave it at that for today.

A final word. Sean Richardson says in his black belt mindset group that we have to remember that this is a game we are playing. When we are playing it, play it like our lives depends upon it, but don’t forget it’s just a game.

The whole point of the white belt to black belt methodology is to empower us in our practice. If going fast empowers you, go fast. If slow and steady empowers you, go slow and steady. Play hard, and remember it’s just a game we are playing. Don’t get too significant about it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts (well, read your thoughts at least) – you can leave them below.