by Niall Doherty

This is the third episode of The Foundations of Entrepreneurship. The goal of the series is to learn about the fundamental building blocks of business and entrepreneurship.

Today I’m bringing you a conversation with Sebastian Marshall, all about productivity. Let’s face it: If you can’t execute at a high level and get important shit done, you’re going to have a very hard time succeeding in business.

I first came across Sebastian’s work via his book Ikigai, which came highly recommended to me by several people. I read it last year and was totally blown away. I read about fifty books a year and Sebastian’s was easily one of my top three in 2012. There’s a lot of excellent advice in there for anyone looking to do big things in the world, so if you’re one of those people, I highly recommend checking it out.

Getting back to the topic at hand, Sebastian also frequently writes about productivity and self-discipline. His tips and strategies have repeatedly helped me level up my work habits. I consider self-discipline to be one of the biggest keys to success in any endeavor, and believe the answer to many problems we face is to simply become more disciplined. Sebastian is one of my top go-to guys when I’m looking to do that.

Uncut interview (48m)

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3 Key Takeaways

My three key takeaways from this interview, with a focus on action. (Remember: doers get rewarded.)

  1. Practice impulse control by doing five minutes of meditation daily. Remember that meditation is a practice. It’s easy to get frustrated when you can’t stop your mind from wandering, but the whole point of meditation is to recognize when your mind is wandering, and then gently bring your attention back to your breath. Each time you do that, you’re controlling your impulse.
  2. Try setting a key habit each day. This has been magic for me. Remember that you can be really flexible with it. Today my key habit was to text my landlord and ask him to fix a leak, because I’d been putting it off for days. Other days my key habit will be to stay off Facebook all day, or spend at least three hours working on a big project. Set your key habit every morning, and then review in the evening. Make it really easy in the beginning if you’re struggling.
  3. 30-day self-care challenge. Sebastian talked about the importance of grooming. I’m going to widen it to self-care instead of grooming, and I’m going to ask you to join me in a 30-day self-care challenge. Basically, you just have to do at least one self-care activity every day for 30 days. You can switch it up daily if you like. For example, one day can be exercise, the next can be a massage, the third can be any grooming activity above and beyond what you already do daily, and so on. You can do this very cheap and without devoting a ton of time to it. If you’re in, please leave a comment below. We’ll try get a group of people taking this on together and hold each other accountable.UPDATE: There’s now a Facebook group for the 30-day challenge. Join there and post your update daily to stay accountable.

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Finally, thanks a mil to my buddy Emmett Cooke for providing background music for the interview. Check out more of his work at


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