Uncensored Internet Business Q’n’A

What follows is real ‘inside baseball’.

You’re getting a true behind-the-scenes peak at what drives me, what big changes have occurred in my life that have allowed me to get where I am today, and what is really, really important in my life.

The questions were asked by a copywriter who is working on a new project for EarlytoRise.com. He needed to dig into my brain to see what made me tick.

You’ll find the answers enlightening…even I was entertained and informed by what info came pouring out.

That’s the power of asking great questions (another lesson for another day). The interview starts a little slow but turns legendary, particularly when he asks about happiness and perseverance.


The Copywriter: Please tell me the story of how you came to be editor of ETR. I know the general story, but I’d like to hear more details.

CB: Here’s the story…it starts at 2:16 in the video.

TC: What led to your transition from strength and conditioning coach to fitness writer?  If there’s a story behind this transition, I’d like to hear it. What specific methods did you use to catch the attention of the editors of the magazines you’ve written for?  How did this experience help you in your Internet success?

CB: I started writing at the same time as training.

My goal in life was to have a job reading and writing, and I began working on this – and designing my life – throughout college and even as early as high school. <== BIG LESSON

Personal training was a means to an end. In 1998, I stumbled across a website that had good fitness articles on it (and they sold supplements). I instantly knew this is what I wanted to do (create content, not sell supplements).

I started my own newsletter a few months later in 1999 while still in graduate school.

Then in 2000, to get into magazines, all I did was forward one of my newsletters to the then-editor of Men’s Health, a great guy by the name of Lou Schuler.

From there it was just word of mouth…and leveraging the fact that I was already in with the biggest magazine (Men’s Health).

That’s how I was able to get in more and more magazines (and eventually contributed to several MH books, too).

The main lessons were:

1) Just Ask (It never hurts)

2) Take Action (I started the newsletter not really knowing what I was doing)

3) Solve other people’s problems and add value (Magazine editors are overworked and underpaid, and I got back to them quickly, that’s why i was able to get so much work)

This is also chronicled in my story found in the Internet Independence Fast Start manual…it’s in the last chapter.

TC: We’re you always a fitness advocate?  If not, what led to your interest in fitness/health?

CB: Yes, since a kid. It was because I liked sports. Eventually I just found the mainstream market was bigger and I was better suited for serving these people.

Unfortunately (yet fortunately) I don’t have a dramatic demonstration of how I went from overweight to fit. Those are very powerful and I recommend that anyone who has one of those to use their transformation story as much as possible.

This is explained in the Affinity Model of success that I wrote about in the May issue of FIM.

Fortunately for ETR, I have a rags-to-riches story we can use for FIM promotions. In my case, it was literally ‘patches on the knees of my cheap track pants-to-riches’ story.

That reminds me, we need to use that more.

Back to fitness…

I like helping people get more results in less time and I like destroying the ridiculous mainstream fitness myths. That’s part of my mission to change 1 million lives…I will do so by delivering the politically incorrect truth about fitness and fat loss.

TC: How did the idea to transform the lives of 1 million people by 2020 come about? Was it a particular event, or the result of cumulative experiences?

CB: This was inspired by Yanik Silver who is a mentor. I was in his Mastermind and (still am) in his Maverick Business Adventures group. Back in 2008 he started a 1 Million Mission in MBA based on helping 1 million entrepreneurs. His mission has changed, bu that’s where I got the idea.

I combined it with the Transformation Contests that I was running (and still run – also an idea from Yanik).

TC: Is this transformation strictly in terms of showing people how to launch Internet businesses?  If there are other areas, please discuss.

CB: The transformations originally started with the fitness business – www.TransformationContest.com – but I left the original description of the mission open-ended when I started it because I knew it wouldn’t be just fitness.

The mission statement was – and still is:

“I want to help 1 million men and women transform their bodies and their lives.”

So it started in fitness before moving to online businesses, but to be honest, based on my current business situation, I expect the majority of the people we help will come through ETR, FIM, and Internet Independence.

TC: Changing the subject…If you could only give people one tip for happier living, what would it be?

CB: Be happy with what you have. Even growing up as a poor farm boy who had to wear track pants with patches on my knees to school, I still had ‘more’ than Kings and Queens 200 years ago.

These days, for the majority of people, our biggest difficulty is in dealing with too MUCH (too much food, too many TV stations, too many free books to read at the library, too many magazines at the store, too many choices about what to buy in every product line, etc.) rather than too little.

And this goes for almost all socioeconomic groups in the Western world. Just go to a strip mall and you’ll probably find a dozen ways to get over 1200 calories in a single meal.

Try finding that 200, 150, or even 50 years ago.

So be happy and enjoy what you have.

It really doesn’t take fancy things to be happy, as you can see when you look at children playing anywhere in the world, no matter if they are poor or rich.

Heck, poor kids playing football in the streets might be happier than the kids I see in Toronto being rushed from one formal activity to another while playing video games/being “babysat by an iPad” at the same time.

TC: How do you see ETR evolving over the next few years (as a business, as well from the end-user’s point of view)?

CB: We are going to be digging deeper to serve the readers.

Right now we’re just scratching the surface in terms of the free – and paid – resources available to our community.

We’re looking at getting more great guest authors for our daily emails and to add a lot more content to the ETR site.

In addition, we have barely tapped into the power of video.

This is probably the biggest opportunity in the future of ETR – sharing our wisdom through video now that it is so easily available to watch on all devices.

So more content, more video, and then hopefully more in-depth courses that help people live better lives, not just build businesses.

TC: What led to the 12 rules you live by, and how long have you been living by them (these were published in the Wed., July 20, 2011 issue of ETR)?

CB: This too comes from the fat loss transformation world.

In my contests, we encourage people to keep training journals, and I always reviewed them on the forum. I noticed that the most successful contestants laid out a set of rules for their nutrition and fat loss living.

Essentially, they said, “During this contest I’m not the type of person that eats this or that. These are my nutrition rules.”

Once they accepted those rules and committed to them, their results were almost guaranteed. They put the rules out in public, got accountability, and followed them like Tim Tebow follows the 10 commandments.

It was a powerful revelation. I realized that one could have these types of rules for all aspects of life.

One of the biggest benefits is that it reduces guilt.

For example, I wanted to cut back on late nights and drinking too much, a habit that I had even as a young fitness professional (it’s actually quite common among fitness professionals, almost embarrassingly so).

That’s why one of my first rules addresses that. I made it public. Therefore, I’d look really bad breaking this rule.

But no longer am I feeling guilty on Sunday mornings about having gone out with the intention of not drinking and ending up with a bit of a headache the next day.

The rules have simply made me a better person.

One might also label them “personal philosophies” instead of rules. Or “big ideas” for your life.

Whatever you choose to call them, they are the guidebook/employee manual to how you act.

So a good set of rules can really make you a better person.

Be better,

Craig Ballantyne