E16 The Unlock Moment: Patrick J. McGinnis – FOMO and Finding Perspective
In this episode, I interview the inventor of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), Patrick J. McGinnis. He talks with honesty and humour about the experience of being in the wrong place at the wrong time in the 2008 financial crash and the journey he went on to discover a path where he could make a difference to millions through his books, podcast and speaking work. Patrick’s hit FOMO Sapiens podcast has been downloaded over 2 million times and his TED talk on faster decision-making has over 1 million views – this is someone you’re going to want to listen to and learn from!
Podcast: FOMO Sapiens
Patrick McGinnis 0:06
I was angry with the people I worked for, for failing me and not being leaders and providing zero, they just weren’t present. You know, when companies blow up, everybody runs for cover and hides. And I saw that, it was like, so I felt a lot of resentment towards the people who didn’t sort of fix the problem. Not understanding that they too were, you know, completely at a loss of what to do. And myself, I think, for just, you know, for what I didn’t realise at the time, or I guess, maybe I realised, but now I see it so clearly, is that I had decided to take a path that really wasn’t going to be the best path for me, I would have never been great at that. I would have been good. But I wouldn’t have been great, I wouldn’t have been truly happy. I was chasing the wrong things. And now that I have sort of switched everything around and done it the other way, I recognise like, what a difference that is in just your daily like, mindset and how you feel. But I wasn’t there yet. I was just angry and frustrated and lost.
Gary Crotaz 1:20
My name’s Dr. Gary Crotaz. And I’m a coach and author of the IDEA Mindset, a book about how to figure out what you want, and how to get it. The Unlock Moment is that flash of remarkable clarity, when you suddenly know the right path ahead. When I’m in conversation with my coaching clients, these are the breakthroughs that are so profound, that they remember vividly where they were, who they were with, what they were thinking, when their Unlock Moment happened. In this podcast, I’ll be meeting and learning about people who have accomplished great things or brought about significant change in their life, and you’ll be meeting them with me. We’ll be finding out what inspired them, how they got through the hard times, and what they learned along the way that they can share with you. Thank you for joining me on this podcast to hear all about another Unlock Moment. Hello, dear listener, and welcome to another episode of The Unlock Moment podcast. Today I’m delighted to be joined by an old friend Patrick J. McGinnis. Patrick is based in New York, and is perhaps most famous as the person who coined the term FOMO. That’s Fear Of Missing Out for the uninitiated, which you wrote about in a 2004 article in the student newspaper of Harvard Business School. In the same article, he introduced the concept of FOBO, or Fear Of a Better Option, a common cause of decision paralysis. But inventing these new terms is just one of many achievements. Patrick is an author, speaker, venture capitalist, expert entrepreneur, and the host of a thriving podcast FOMO Sapiens, now with over 2 million downloads, I’m quite jealous! Committed to creating a world where FOMO is harnessed for good, Patrick is dedicated to sharing the tools for mastering decision making, curating powerful networks and building successful businesses. His TED talk on how to make faster decisions has been viewed well over a million times. In Patrick’s first book, The 10% Entrepreneur, he shows you how by investing just 10% of your time and resources, you can become an entrepreneur without losing a steady paycheck. It’s my small claim to fame that my wife and I have featured somewhere within the book as a case study. His second book, Fear Of Missing Out is about practical decision-making in a world of overwhelming choice. Talking to Patrick always brings me such huge energy and joy. So let’s get into it. Patrick, it is my great pleasure to welcome you to The Unlock Moment.
Patrick McGinnis 3:48
It’s a pleasure to be here. Congratulations on having a podcast! Welcome to the wonderful and weird world of podcasting!
Gary Crotaz 3:55
Thank you so much. I’m, I’m enjoying it very much and great to have guests like, like you coming along to share your, share your insights, share your stories. So there’s an Unlock Moment in your story when you started building your writing and speaking career. But before we get into that, tell us a little bit about who you were, what you were like, what you were doing before that time, what were you like growing up? What journey did you get to go on to get into finance and investing?
Patrick McGinnis 4:18
I was a, and remain I think, a very energetic person. So grew up in a small town in Maine, in New England, and a very kind of blue-collar place where, you know, people generally worked at local businesses. You know, they didn’t necessarily move away all that much. Probably about half of my class went on to college in my high school class, the other half did not. So it was a place, you know it was, it was a small town kind of existence. And I was always very sort of keen to look beyond my sort of immediate environment and thought about moving a million different places. And I ended up in college in Washington DC at Georgetown, because I thought I wanted to work in government. And then I did an internship and quickly realised that working on Capitol Hill was not for me. And then I sort of was lost. And I spent my junior year in Argentina. And I came back and I was obsessed with Latin America and decided I wanted to build a career there. And so that really brought me into finance, because the easiest way to sort of get a job that I could figure out was to get a job doing Latin American investment banking. And I also had, you know, it seemed like the thing that you, smart people did was to go into finance. And so that’s what all the other kids were doing. And so I figured, why not me. And that was really what brought me down the path of getting involved in Wall Street. And, you know, this whole, there was not like a… I mean, I sort of chose it based on the notion that I could make good money. I didn’t really choose it based on my particular feeling that I was going to be great at it, which is kind of crazy to think now. But I just sort of did it because everybody did.
Gary Crotaz 6:00
And how did you find your way to Latin America, what was the first step that you took there?
Patrick McGinnis 6:06
So I was always interested in the region, funnily enough. I wrote, I found later on this, I wrote this report in Spanish class in high school about, like a fictional account of my year living in Argentina. And it was, actually I did a reasonably close approximation of what it is to live in Argentina. But this is like pre-internet days. But then I got a junior year of college scholarship from the Rotary Foundation that sent me down to Buenos Aires and paid for my entire year. And I had a little allowance, so I was able to travel all over the region. And it really, I decided, you know, I just was very, I’m good at languages. And so I learned Spanish, and I got quite fluent. And so I just felt like I fit in there in a really cool way. And so I just, I swear, it was like the first time I sort of figured out who I was, and found a unique identity that I was like, really excited about. And so I kind of overdid it, I kind of like thought I was from Argentina for a while there, but but it was a great opportunity for me to just try on something new and learn something new and sort of see possibilities that I hadn’t seen before.
Gary Crotaz 7:13
And it’s really interesting, something I’ve always found interesting about you is that there are people who are in finance, banking, consulting, advisory, who stay in a big city, but they might advise on things, you know, all around the world. And then there’s other people who really feel at home at the coalface. And you’ve travelled to over 100 countries around the world over the years?
Patrick McGinnis 7:33
104 as of today, we should add some more this year. But yeah.
Gary Crotaz 7:37
It’s amazing. What’s the last country you went to for the first time, do you remember?
Patrick McGinnis 7:41
Actually, it was just this year, I went to a place called Socotra, which is an island that’s part of Yemen for New Years.
Gary Crotaz 7:49
Amazing. What attracts you to, to going to unusual places around the world?
Patrick McGinnis 7:55
So in the early days, when I first started doing this, I had never travelled much as a kid, we just didn’t do that. We didn’t really, nobody did. You know, it was a different time. And so I went to Disney once when I was like, in fifth grade, but I just didn’t really go many places. And then, when I went to college, and I had this year abroad, I had a friend who said, Oh, I’m gonna fly down to Argentina. And let’s go hiking in the south. And I thought, like, Okay, why not, right? But I wasn’t particularly intrepid, I was quite the opposite of intrepid, I don’t even know the word – unintrepid? And then I travelled with another friend from, from Colombia to Argentina, by land principally. And that’s when I really learned, it was like a great education in how to travel. And so having done that, then I sort of just, my work would always take me overseas, I was working in investing in Latin America. So I was constantly on a plane. And my job after business school was investing in emerging markets. So I was constantly on a plane to like Asia and Africa and things like that. And so the more that I travelled, I would just always say, Well, I’m in the region anyway, why don’t I dot dot dot and add on something. And then you know, you get to the point, when you when you kind of have become more of an intrepid traveller, you start to get a bit more risk-tolerant and adventurous. And you say things like, I just saw an article about Chernobyl, I want to go to Chernobyl, which I did do, or oh, I read a book about Uzbekistan, I need to go to Uzbekistan. And so that has been it, I will confess that there was some, a little bit of country counting at one point when I was trying to get to 100. And I was like, I’m gonna go to Luxembourg. Which, you don’t need to do that. There’s really nothing there for you. But, but other than that, it’s generally the way I do it now. It’s just like, if I’m in a region, and I want to visit a place I go, otherwise I just think of big ideas like I was thinking, but I’d like to visit Iraq which my parents if they’re listening, I’m sorry, I’m gonna do that to you. But that’s the kind of stuff I want to do interesting things that maybe require a bit more work but that are you know, not they’re not horribly dangerous, but at the same time, they’re not, you know, going to Florida.
Gary Crotaz 10:00
I think that’s really interesting in that it gives an insight into something of your personality, which I think will come through in, in more of the story. So tell me your perspective on safe options in terms of work.
Patrick McGinnis 10:15
Yeah, safe options! I was known by my friends as Captain Safety. I was the guy, they used to make fun of me all the time, because we’d be like in a car, and maybe we got in like a, sort of a, not an altercation. But there was a, you know, kind of bad blood between our car and another car. And I would say, like, Don’t antagonise that person, they could kill us. Or we’d go on, we went to Costa Rica, we were on 4x4s, like these four-wheeler kind of things. And I was the slowest one at the back of the line, because I didn’t want to go too fast. And so that was kind of my default mindset for much of my life. I was really about going for the safe option. The prestigious option, always. I wanted the best, but I wanted safe. And so you know, my career was, my whole kind of like design for my career was, Let me go to some company that’s very, very safe, then work in like a more exciting part of it. And therefore I’ll have the upside of the exciting bit, but I’ll be very, very safe and like I can’t disappear.
Gary Crotaz 11:18
And then what happened?
Patrick McGinnis 11:19
Well, you know, best laid plans… What happened was, I was wrong! I had, I had a mini version of this, when I went off to business school, I had been working at the private equity group of JP Morgan. And then when I was in school, basically, they dismantled the group. And I couldn’t, I thought, I assumed I’d just go back and work there. And they were like, No. And so I had, I had to reinvent myself. And I remember at the time, this was, I had a real kind of a hard time getting a job out of business school, because I had a very specific experience set, which was private equity in Latin America. And people were like, you know, that was out of fashion. And they’re like, You’re American anyway, so it was really tough. And then I got this job at AIG Capital Partners doing private equity. And it was, you know, a very cool part of AIG. AIG was like, top 20 biggest companies in the world, I was like, This is great. Well, unfortunately, anybody who remembers the financial crisis in 2008, would recall that AIG was the, was the sort of the most spectacular of all of the terrible things that happened, it just blew up in spectacular fashion. I had shares in the company that fell 97%. And my career blew up. And it was sort of like, not only did my company just blow up, but, you know, it was like a very controversial place that people thought we were immoral and stuff like that. So I saw this, I had taken the right path, you know, that I thought was the safe path, I had done all the things you’re supposed to do. Like, I’d gone to Harvard Business School, which, you know, I’d never even dreamed up, but I did it. And I thought, well, you know, at least I’m going to be you know, reasonably successful here, you know, because, like, it’s, it’s a great institution. And instead, I ended up in a very bad place, very unhappy. Not… Physically unwell. And, you know, everything I had put my faith in, I realised was a lie. And I was completely cynical at that point.
Gary Crotaz 13:15
So it really challenged some fundamental beliefs that you’d had for a long time?
Patrick McGinnis 13:21
It was like learning there’s no, there’s no Easter Bunny or something where like, when you’re a kid, sorry, if anybody’s children are listening, by the way, but, but it’s sort of like you learn that and you’re like, but wait a minute, I, I left candy and the Easter Bunny, I, when I was a kid, I took the Easter Bunny’s cup that he drank out of, or she, I don’t want to gender the Bunny. And I put a piece of tape that said, The Easter Bunny drank out of this, and I displayed it in our home. So when I found out, like, my faith was shattered, and I was like, you know, I didn’t want to leave anything for the Bunny anymore. The same thing happened with capitalism and the business world. I was like, I did I play by your rules. And I ended up getting tossed aside, and I don’t want this anymore.
Gary Crotaz 14:05
And how did that leave you feeling?
Patrick McGinnis 14:08
Well, quite angry, in the beginning, frankly. I was very angry. I felt despair.
Gary Crotaz 14:17
Who were you angry with?
Patrick McGinnis 14:17
Probably myself for believing. I was angry with the people I worked for for failing me and not being leaders and providing zero – they just weren’t present. You know, when companies blow up, everybody runs for cover and hides. And I saw that, it was like, so I felt a lot of resentment towards the the people who didn’t sort of fix the problem. Not understanding that they too were, you know, completely at a loss of what to do. And myself, I think for just, you know, for… What I didn’t realise at the time, or I guess maybe I realised but now I see it so clearly, is that I had decided to take a path that really wasn’t going to be the best path for me, I would have never been great at that. I would have been good. But I wouldn’t have been great, I wouldn’t have been truly happy. I was chasing the wrong things. And now that I have sort of switched everything around and done it the other way, I recognise like, what a difference that is in just your daily like, mindset and how you feel. But I wasn’t there yet. I was just angry and frustrated and lost.
Gary Crotaz 15:38
And it’s really common that when people are faced with extraordinary change, unexpected change, that to build to a more positive future and a positive outcome it can be almost inevitable that you kind of have to go through that dip that is anger, frustration, despair, guilt, hostility, often. And you got to start to rebuild. So when you were going through that curve, what was the point when you started to feel like you’re bottoming out and starting to build the future? What was that?
Patrick McGinnis 16:15
Yeah, that’s a great question. Because it’s true what you say, I think you just nailed it, which is that, like, so few people make big change without having to get smacked on the face. You just don’t, because the status quo is more comfortable, right. And I know that sounds obvious, but think about it. It’s so true. And so you need to have this hero’s journey, or whatever, to get to the other side. And I think for me, as I think back on this – boy, it’s like, this is like traumatising as I think about it, because it was so difficult. For me, I got really sick. And so, I was literally, I had blurry vision for six months, I had night sweats, I was all, there was something wrong, they never figured it out. It was stress-related. But I remember, I was in London, my best friend and I went to London for New Years. And he was a real support for me at the time. I’m still so thankful for that. And I remember he was trying to help me with some work. And I couldn’t read the contract because my vision was so blurry. And I just thought like, this is awful. And I had a couple of months of that, I had four or five, six months of that feeling. And then I decided I had to really pull things together. And that meant getting healthy, physically healthy. And so I made a bunch of changes and, and then I went on this trip to India, and my friend was getting married and I wasn’t gonna go, but I was like, I need to get, I need to go somewhere, I need to get out of here. And I went, and I when I left on that plane, I remember I was really sick and I got there. And it was right after the Taj was bombed, was attacked by the terrorists. And I stayed there. Because I just thought that I was, you know, I admire the Taj company and the founder Ratan Tata, I’ve always admired this company, and I was like, I’m gonna go there, and I’m gonna be there, and I’m gonna spend my dollars in their hotel. Because, you know, they need people like me to do that. And I got there and it was all, smelled like a fire, and, still. And I went outside because I couldn’t sleep. And I walked around the neighbourhood, and I saw all these, you know, India at night, many children sleeping on the street. And I mean, it was everywhere. And I just thought to myself, like, Man, my problems are not that bad. You know, they just aren’t. And these kids are sleeping outside. And this hotel got attacked, and people died. And yeah, so I lost my job. And you know, I didn’t lose my job. But my job lost me or whatever. And I hate it, and I’m miserable. Well like, this is not the end of the road for me, I have so many opportunities. And so that was it. I mean, it sounds so like I wrote it, like a screenplay or something, but I swear to God, maybe that’s just how I remember it. But I remember, what’s crazy is, I went to that wedding. I had a wonderful time. I got off the plane, when I came back to the US. And I noticed something, which is my vision was back. And I felt healthy again. And it was like, it was insane. I just was like, Wow, I like I feel like me again. And that was the beginning of the next phase of all the things that I’ve done.
Gary Crotaz 19:25
It’s, it’s an amazing story. And it’s amazing because I started to see these experiences, a lot of different people that I’ve spoken to on the podcast, but also in, in coaching work, this idea that for a lot of people, there’s a moment, I mean there’s a lot going on over a period of time, which you’ve talked about. But then there’s a moment where you find clarity, and just there you were talking about this. I would call it an Unlock Moment, which is that perspective, where you know, you’re seeing people on the street and realising that your problems are significant for you but in the grand scheme of things not so significant. And that helps you to turn that corner. And often people can remember at that point where they were, who they were with, what they were thinking. And it’s a very, very powerful experience and quite an emotional one often when you look back to that moment.
Patrick McGinnis 20:18
And you know what’s also true, I think, and you can tell me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think I am, is – You can’t, people can’t tell you this stuff. Like, I’m sure people said, like, Patrick, come on, you’ll be fine. It’s not that bad. I needed to see it and experience it. Like the universe had to give me the tough lesson that I didn’t know I needed. And, you know, it’s so hard to do that, unless you do, you have to put yourself in places where you’re outside of your comfort zone, because you’re not going to have a great insight sitting at your desk. You may do, you may do, but probably not. You need to, that’s why travel is so important, right? You see the stuff that you couldn’t, you couldn’t have seen the day before. And it just forces you into a reality that you didn’t know existed. And that pushes you into kind of thinking about stuff differently.
Gary Crotaz 21:07
I think that’s exactly right. And I think that you can’t, you just can’t rush it. I say to people, you can’t think to a deadline, you can’t say, I’m going to fix this by Friday, because you might not be in the right environment before Friday to come to that realisation. That realisation will come to you when your mind is ready to get there. And when your mind is ready to accept it. So I think I’m a great believer in – sometimes you just kind of have to wait, you know, as you say, you could put yourself in a situation that can just give you new perspective. But even then, it comes, and you know when you’re there, you know when you’re in that moment, where you suddenly found that clarity, and once you found it, you never go back, because it’s come from, from, from you. And I think that’s really powerful. So, so what happened next?
Patrick McGinnis 21:58
Well, so that was good, to have that moment, as you said, and you don’t go back, it’s like you have a secular shift in your thinking. It’s like you found religion or something, or un-found religion! But then you have the next challenge, which is okay, what do I do, right. And as I think back on my time, this is all … it was a long period actually of wandering in the desert as it were, like a, like a, an explorer, as it were, I was really unsure of what to do. Now, I had a couple of distinct advantages that I could benefit from, the first being that I’d saved money, so I had financial flexibility, not like crazy amounts, but I you know, I could I could take time off. Second is that I’m very good, once I’ve set my mind to something, I do it, I just do. I’m, I’m extraordinarily committed to things that I decide to do. I always have been, and so, and that’s good, bad and ugly. I mean, there’s some downsides to that. But I was like, Okay, here’s what’s going to happen. I’m going to quit my job. I’m going to take a sabbatical. I’m going to get in great shape and take care of myself. I’m going to, you know, those, we’re going to make those changes right now. And so I did actually all those things. I lost like 30 pounds, I started running 50 miles a week, because I’m a lunatic. No moderation! And then I ended up going in and quitting my job, which turned into like, it’s a long story, but I ended up staying on as an advisor. And so that was wonderful for me. And I never even entertained that as a possibility. And then I was able to take, I took a sabbatical. And you know, I was sort of like, well, I don’t know how long I’ll do this for and… My brother gave me a very interesting piece of advice. He said, get up every morning not knowing what you’re going to do, for six months, or three months or something. And I ended up, I remember, we were sitting at this restaurant called La Bonbonniere in the West Village in New York. And I was like, Michael, that’s ridiculous. Like, I can’t do that. You are, you know, you’re a jazz musician. You’re creative. You can do those things. I cannot. I am like wired for execution. And I did, though, exactly what he said, for longer than he proposed. And it was extremely unburdening of all the sort of junk that I had built up around what I cared about, what was important, what I was good at. And I allowed myself to sort of explore, for example, writing! I was the prodigious memo writer, I would write these memos at my, at my job in private equity, that were like novelistically interesting. People would be like, Wow, that memo about the retail chain in Turkey was a page turner. Like, it was so compelling. I, my parents convinced me to try to write fiction. Now, I wrote the worst piece of fiction. I mean, I wrote half of a horrible book. But what I learned was that I could write more than 1,000 words, and that got me on the path to writing a book. That’s the kind of stuff I did. I explored a bunch of opportunities, consulted some. And then I realised like consulting is great, but you don’t build equity, so I started making small investments and becoming an advisor to companies that built up a bunch of stuff. And so I ended up really redefining what it is to have a career in a way that was like, extremely aligned with my, my likes, my passions, my talents, and I had no idea I could have done this, like, it’s so shocking to me. Because it’s taken decades, so you know, you look back and you’re like, you forget what it’s like to go to the office every day and like, hate your job. But it’s like, what, it’s just, it’s an amazing place to be if you can figure out how to do it, where you love it.
Gary Crotaz 25:43
And there’s two elements of your career that I think are really interesting to explore. One is the kind of uber-portfolio nature of what you do, you do you do a wide variety of different things that you love, the connecting theme is that you love them. And then the other is that you’ve gone from being in a sort of large corporate environment to something which is much more about your own personal brand, which I think is really interesting for people to hear about as well, because there’s a lot of people out there at the moment trying to build their own sort of personal one-man or one-woman businesses. What does, what does that portfolio mean for you in terms of, you know, having the breadth of things that you’re doing, but also keeping it under control?
Patrick McGinnis 26:30
First of all, I want to say, Gary, you may be new at this, but you’re a very good podcast host!
Gary Crotaz 26:34
Patrick McGinnis 26:35
I just want to say that because I, just I was like, these are really good questions! I should learn from him! So okay, let’s talk portfolio. Okay, so, obviously I did not have diversification when I worked at AIG. I was like, I had AIG as my job. And I had the stock and I had the carry and the funds, and whew! I was really exposed. And so I got, when everything fell apart, it was such a wake up call for me. I was just like, What are you doing, Patrick? You invest for a living, you build diversified portfolios, and your, your life is not diversified. So it was a really valuable insight that … it hurt, really stung at the time. But I was like, my reaction to that was actually to go quite in the opposite extreme, which is I’m going to get a bunch of, I’m going to really diversify. So I’m going to do, you know, I’m going to have some sort of day job, which, you know, generates income, which maybe I don’t love everything, but it gives, you know, pays the bills. So I did consulting and stuff. And then on the side, I used my savings and some of my income to start investing in companies. I invested in some funds that generated deal flow for me. And then I started to realise, you know, people would come to me and say, Oh, will you invest in my company? And I’d say, you know, no, because it’s too early stage too risky, I’m just not sure. And then they’d say, Well, would you like to be an advisor, we’ll give you shares, and you can help us on your board or whatever. So I started doing that more and more, and that sort of diversified into then getting into writing and speaking and stuff like that. So I really, what I have learned about that, number one, okay, so on the upside, it is, it is fast and furious. It’s fun, you get to do a lot of cool things, it generates a lot of interesting opportunities. When things go badly, like when the pandemic hit. I, I was shocked at how resilient my portfolio was – not everything, but it was like, it was shocking to me how, how diversification really helped me at that time. And also, I would say, your opportunity to generate like extremely outsized returns is much higher than if you just work in a company. So that’s all the good stuff, the bad stuff is it’s very unpredictable. Like you constantly have to be out there generating, and so that can be exhausting. It can feel like a grind. You never feel, you can get a scarcity mindset where you’re like, Well, I don’t know what I’m going to make next year. So how can I do this or that? Those are challenges that I think a lot of people deal with. It can be lonely, you can be, you can not be leveraging other people, you’re like a kind of a solopreneur. So you’re doing everything all the time, if you don’t find people to help you. And so I’ve had to kind of navigate through that. And I feel like I’ve done a reasonably good job. I feel like it’s, I can’t imagine sort of going back to another arrangement. But there are times where I definitely think oh it’s like, Wow, wouldn’t it be great to just be like a VP at some bank and just turn up and like, even if I do nothing that day, I get paid. That’d be nice.
Gary Crotaz 29:44
And that’s interesting, because that brings you on to personal brand. So you know, you could be that sort of anonymous role within an organisation and, elements of that I think I’m hearing, sound quite attractive to you now. But what you’re doing now is dependent on your, your personal brand. And we’ve talked before, you gave me great advice when I was thinking about starting the podcast, and you said to me, it’s about you more than it’s about anything else, and you got to be prepared to be out there. So when, when you were building on the way through, was it a drive and a motivation to be personally famous? Was that important? Or was that something that you were less comfortable with?
Patrick McGinnis 30:30
I’m going to tell you something right now, that is going to be highly embarrassing. But I’m giving you a scoop on your podcast about Patrick McGinnis, which is this. I once applied to be on Big Brother, Argentina. Now what does that mean? I know, it’s pretty stupid. I thought I’d be good. Why did I do that? Because I was always more interested in being, I don’t want to say the word famous. Famous is that’s like, not interesting to me. But I wanted to be known. That was more important to me than being rich, I guess. Now, what does that mean to me today, now that I’m, you know, not a child, when like I applied to Big Brother when I was 22. What I, what it means is I’m much more interested, like, obviously, I want to be financially well off, like, you need to have the basics covered, and more. But I’m more interested in like, being able to, like, have an impact, because of who I am. And being asked to sit at the table. And, and that’s super-hard, though, because first of all, you have to figure out what who you are and how you want to be presented, because you have to, we can get into this, but brand building is it’s deciding what part of you you want to put out to the world. I don’t tell everybody everything, I never would do. But then number two, it’s sort of like, once you’re in the game, and you put yourself out there – it’s also really hard, like you go to some event, like you go to some… I went to some event a couple of weeks ago, that had a lot of like, very well known people at it. And I’m like, Well, what am I doing here and like you feel outgunned, which is stupid, because you’re in the room where it happens. So just like go meet them, right. But there’s a lot of insecurity that can come with that. And you never, it’s like, well, you know, Adam Grant’s so much bigger than me, I guess I’m not very good, that kind of stuff. And so I get it now why artists and other people who are constantly putting themselves out there can be so fragile, because there’s so much rejection in this world, and so you have to really know what your values are and what you care about. And it’s hard because I’ve had this experience recently where you start, you, the danger is that you start to, you start to value other people’s opinion of you, like you’re looking for validation from things like oh, I got, I was on this podcast, or I got this interview or whatever, I got the speaking thing. And you have to just stay away from that. Because the whole reason you get into this stuff is out of passion. And if you start to outsource how you value yourself to other people, you are not going to end up in a happy place. So that’s really, that’s a big part of… I guess, I’ve been thinking about this year about as you build your brand, making it something that’s like, really aligned with who you are inside as much as possible. Therefore, you’re always like, it’s easier to just… like when it’s aligned with who you are, it’s pretty easy to just be you. And then you’re kind of living your brand values.
Gary Crotaz 33:26
I do a lot of work with strengths. And I do a lot of work with with the Gallup CliftonStrengths model, which a lot of people have done. And there’s a particular strength which really, really encompasses what you’re talking about here. Which is for some people a strength and for other people not and it’s called Significance. And, and it is you are at your best when you are in the spotlight. And for some people, in the spotlight means literally being on stage, you know, the sort of Richard Branson model of leading a business. But for other people significance means I’m at my best just when I know that I personally made a difference. But it’s not necessarily that anybody else even knows that I did what I did. And I find it one of the most interesting ones to work with people on because when people get into that space, there are so many negative things that come through in terms of other people saying well, that’s your ego coming through or you’re showing off or you’re outperforming, whatever it is. But actually, for those people that’s them at their best, you know, they’re most engaged, they’re most energised, they’re most impactful when when they’re in that place. And I think that, you know, what you’re describing here is, you know, you have to be careful not to trip over the blind spots of having Significance, but it can be an incredibly powerful strength if you understand it and use it in in the right way. So I think that, that that Significance coming through here is, is, is, is a really interesting one, and I think is really driven you in now, you know, achieving the things that you’ve achieved over the years. And I know, you know, you started out your first book was The 10% Entrepreneur. But then I think that there was a big sort of kick up in your impact, in your profile when FOMO came around. So tell us the story of, you know, where where FOMO came from and how that impacted your journey.
Patrick McGinnis 35:23
Yeah, FOMO is my, it definitely was important in being able to do anything that I did, because when you are creating a brand, if you can’t get people to pay attention, then it’s really hard and FOMO was the tool that I used. I was, I invented FOMO a long time ago now, nearly 20 years ago. I had entered Harvard Business School. And I had just been in New York during 9/11. And so I’d seen that up close. And I remember just I had taken the GMAT the day before. And then that night, celebrated in lower Manhattan, saw the towers for the last time, woke up and they were gone. Or they were in flames, I should say. And then, like many people at the time, I just sort of, I was terrified, I didn’t know where the world was going to go, I just questioned everything. And I thought, you know, life is so short, I’ve got to live every moment to the fullest. And when I entered business school, I had never anticipated being able to go to a place like Harvard, it just wasn’t on my radar. And when I got in, I was completely thrilled. And my sort of, my sort of approach to being in school there was like, I’m in this very special place that is so unique, and offers me so much opportunity, I must avail myself of everything. And I tried to do everything all the time, to the point of being completely stressed, and stretched. And I started calling that feeling FOMO, Fear Of Missing Out. And I wrote an article in our school newspaper, a satirical article, that was the first time it was ever used anywhere. And then 10 years later, it made the dictionary, which is very helpful. And I’ll tell you why. Because Gary’s wife, Mildred, and I were trying to sell my first book, The 10% Entrepreneur. And I love Mildred, and so I tell the story because it’s so funny now. I was getting frustrated, because Mildred kept on saying, Patrick, you’re not going to sell this book unless you put yourself out there more, you need to build platform and you need to write an article in this magazine, or she’d be like, You need to pitch magazines, and I would pitch magazines, and they would get like, no response. Right? So I was like, You know what, Mildred? Like, I can’t do this. And frankly, like, you need to just sell the book. I don’t care, like sell the book. And we were having this, we were at an impasse where I was getting frustrated, and she was probably feeling frustrated. And we were just both like, ay ay ay. And then the article about, somebody wrote an article about me inventing FOMO that went viral. And two weeks later, Mildred, I sent her the article, and she says, she’s so smart, she was like, she took that article and turned it into a book deal within two weeks. So that is the story, the improbable story of how I got published. And it really is because of FOMO becoming a thing and my name getting attached with it at the right time, just changed everything.
Gary Crotaz 38:08
So 2004, when you wrote that article, it wasn’t a big thing. That wasn’t the time when it went viral. It was years later, when somebody looked back and tracked it.
Patrick McGinnis 38:19
Yeah, I’ve done a whole forensic analysis, actually, I hired like a online sleuth to do the research. And what happened was, you know, it was very popular at school. And it stayed within the vocabulary of HBS. And then it spread to other MBA programmes. It was written about in 2007, by Bloomberg BusinessWeek magazine, about this phenomenon at business schools called FOMO, blah, blah, blah, it started at Harvard, my name was not included there, unfortunately. Otherwise, I might have realised it had become a thing. And then it was written about in some other places, and slowly over time, spread into the tech world, and then it when was massified, but it didn’t get added to the dictionary until 2014 or 2013.
Gary Crotaz 39:04
And what have you done with it now in terms of building that, that platform? So what stories do you tell around it? What advice do you do give around it?
Patrick McGinnis 39:12
So I have now, you know, it was funny. In the beginning, I didn’t know what to do with it, to be honest with you, like when it got, became a thing. I was really focused on The 10% Entrepreneur, which I love as well, it’s my other little baby. And I think it’s a really important concept. But as I travelled the world, I was lucky enough to be invited to travel all over the place to do speaking about 10% because the US State Department was very sort of supportive of the the ideas in that book, they felt that it was a great message to share all over the place. So they sent me like to Africa and Asia and I’d do speaking, and wherever I would go people would always like line up at the end to take a selfie because of the FOMO stuff. They were like, I have FOMO! Take a picture with me! I just realised, Wow, there’s a real demand for the FOMO stuff. People love engaging on FOMO. And I also started to do some research and realise that there’s like a crazy amount of clinical psychology research that’s been done on FOMO by professors and doctors and stuff that they’ve written about. And there’s been experiments. I mean, it is kind of insane. And I realised, like, actually FOMO is not a laughing matter. It’s quite serious, it has real effects. And I thought, wouldn’t it be interesting to write a book about that. And then there was another term I had invented called FOBO, that I wrote about in that same article that isn’t as famous, it’s been written about in the New York Times some, but it’s not, you know, in the dictionary or anything. And I thought there’s an, you know, is there enough to do a book here, and I concurred that there was, and so I’ve done the book, I have a podcast called FOMO Sapiens. I am working on a, this is super, I don’t even know how to talk about this yet. But I’ve been working on a television concept that we shall see your, your lovely wife has been my advisor, because that she’s an agent, so she, you know, she gets it. And, and I do a lot of speaking on the topic I do a lot of writing. I’ve been, it’s an awesome way for me to talk about things because there’s FOMO, everywhere. So like, during the pandemic, I wrote some op eds about how vaccine FOMO was going to help get people to get the shot, stuff like that. So it’s just a lens for me to talk about anything I really want to. And then obviously, the other cool thing is, people are just really nice to the guy who created FOMO. Like nobody ever is, like, don’t tell me the story about how you created FOMO now, they’re always want to hear it. So I’ve met some amazing people that I would have never met as a result.
Gary Crotaz 41:44
It’s really interesting now because with with, depending on whether you call it the Great Resignation, or the Great Reset, you know, lots of people through the pandemic and after, you know as we’re starting to emerge from it as a really reevaluating their lives. And there’s so many people, you know, quitting their jobs or thinking about quitting their jobs, thinking about setting up on their own. A lot of people coming into things like life coaching and executive coaching, you know, maybe building a speaking career, maybe writing that book they’ve been thinking about for a long time, maybe launching a podcast. So, and you’ve, you’ve done all of these things. What’s, what’s one piece of advice you’d give people about building their business, given your own experience of building that platform so successfully over the last few years.
Patrick McGinnis 42:26
So the thing you got to do, I didn’t always do this, but I do it now! You must validate that there is demand for your service before you decide to go all in on it. Let me give you a great example. I’ll give you an example of a failure and then success. I’ll do the failure first. I have a team that I work with. And that helps me do everything. And we were talking about Okay, how can we create new revenue streams and 2022. And one of the people on the team was very keen to do a Patreon. And we had done, we did, we’d convened focus groups actually, to work on our overall branding and messaging, which was really interesting and valuable. And we had customer profiles, and we did all this analysis. But the Patreon analysis was, was not very deep. We sort of were like, well, let’s launch it, we’ll figure it out. And we’ll come up with a thing. And it did horribly. I mean, it was like an unmitigated disaster, like just totally bad. Now, I laugh about that, because, you know, I always say like, well, you know, no matter how bad things go, it won’t be as bad as our Patreon effort. Even my mom was like, What is this? And there’s reasons why that we figured out it didn’t work, that I won’t get into. But I then contrast what I’m doing. Now I’m creating merchandise. So we’re doing a line of merchandise for the podcast and stuff like that. And we are doing it, I’m launching it with a third party partner that does print on demand, we’re trying nine SKUs, we’re putting them out there. And we’re gonna see if there’s demand, we, there was no investment to do it except for a couple $100 for web development. And so that’s a low risk way of validating that people want this stuff before we ever consider doing anything else. So that’s what that’s the kind of stuff you got to do. So many people try to write a book. Like they’re doing it from their home, they’ve never written an article on the topic that they’re exploring, they have no idea if people you know, they’re like, it’s like, why should I listen to you? That kind of stuff. And so, don’t put all your time and energy into something without validating that there’s a market for it.
Gary Crotaz 44:27
That’s really good advice. And I know you’ve you’ve had the ups and the downs. And that’s coming through within, in what you’re saying, Patrick, it’s it’s been it’s been fantastic hearing your story and the journey that you’ve been on, where can people find out more about you?
Patrick McGinnis 44:44
So don’t go to my Patreon, because we took it down. Go to, you can go to PatrickMcGinnis.com There you will find links to all my socials. And you can also go to FOMOSapiens.com, which is where we Have our podcasts. And we also have the merch that I just mentioned. So if you want a big hat that says FOMO, which I’ve been wearing mine around New York City, and frankly, I just love it – you can find them. They’re high quality at a reasonable price!
Gary Crotaz 45:15
You sell it so well, The Unlock Moment is that flash of remarkable clarity when you suddenly know the right path ahead for Patrick, realising that the so called safe option of a career in a big finance institution wasn’t so safe after all, he had a life changing trip to India, found fresh perspective, backed himself and struck out on an exciting portfolio career that has taken him around the world to share his ideas with millions. I can’t wait to see what he goes on to do in the coming years. Patrick, thank you so much for joining me today on The Unlock Moment.
Patrick McGinnis 45:47
Thanks so much.
Gary Crotaz 45:50
This has been The Unlock Moment, a podcast with me Dr. Gary Crotaz. Thank you for listening in. You can find out more about how to figure out what you want and how to get it in my book, The IDEA Mindset, available in physical book, ebook and audiobook format. Follow me on Instagram, and subscribe to this podcast to get notified about future episodes. Join me again soon!