My intention behind Vegan Consultant is to share, connect and inspire others to live a compassionate life and I believe personal growth is vital in our personal life and spreading veganism. Today’s spotlight is Steve Pavlina who is a powerful source in personal development and happens to be a local vegan in Las Vegas. I was fortunate enough to cross paths with Steve Pavlina at Vegan Vegas Drinks where he shared about his work. His information is a huge asset to someone like myself who is growing and developing. He teaches us to really pay attention and take responsibility for your own life. Grow, live and thrive!
1. What was the spark that inspired you to create your personal growth website?
Starting in the mid-1990s, I ran a computer game publishing company for 10 years. After I’d been running that business for several years, I began writing articles for industry newsletters to help other software developers. After I’d written about a dozen articles, I added a small article section to my games website, so that people could find all my articles in one place. At the time it was just a side hobby. I wasn’t earning any extra money from it. I simply liked the idea of passing on what I’d learned, so other people in the field could save time, avoid mistakes, and improve their results.
As it turned out, people really appreciated those articles, and they began sharing them with others. Soon I had people coming to my website who didn’t even work in the software field. My articles got picked up by search engines, and more people began sharing them by word of mouth. As interest in my articles spread beyond the software industry, I began writing for a wider audience instead of focusing just on software developers. I wrote new articles on time management, overcoming procrastination, staying focused, and achieving goals. Many people emailed me to let me know how much my articles inspired them, which encouraged me to write even more.
Eventually more people were coming to my website to read my articles than to download my games. Some of my articles soared to #1 rankings on search engines. A major media company began paying me to write articles for their monthly newsletter.
Then in 2004 I attended Hay House’s I Can Do It! conference in Las Vegas, where I saw Dr. Wayne Dyer speak about The Power of Intention. By then I was already thinking about transitioning from game publishing to writing about personal growth, but I wasn’t sure how to do it. Dr. Dyer’s 3-hour talk brought me to tears and finally pushed me over the edge. I saw that I had to commit myself first, and only then would I be able to see the path ahead. So I did exactly that. And Dr. Dyer was right. Once I took the leap, the universe backed me up, but I had to make the first move and fully commit myself.
In October 2004 I launched StevePavlina.com. Blogging technology was just starting to come of age, so I included a blog from Day 1. This seemed like a great way to publish new articles because previously I’d been hand-coding all my articles in HTML. The site took off quickly, reaching 100,000 visitors per month within 6 months and 400,000 visitors per month by the end of the first year.
The best part is that a few years later, Hay House offered me a book deal, which led to the publishing of my book Personal Development for Smart People in 2008. As a result of that book, I ended up speaking at their I Can Do It! conference — the very same conference where I saw Dr. Wayne Dyer speak. So in 4 years, I went from a guy in the audience to a speaker on the stage. I also got to meet Dr. Wayne Dyer in person as well as many other wonderful Hay House authors.
I think my story is a great example of how beautifully life unfolds when you commit yourself to following your heart, even when your mind is still struggling to see how everything is going to work. I really believe there’s a universal intelligence that gives us clues along the way, but it’s still up to us to summon the will to act with courage and commitment in the face of uncertainty.
2. What is your unique approach?
The core of my work is about teaching universal growth accelerators.
A growth accelerator is principle that you can apply to create positive changes in less time that you’d be able to otherwise. A universal growth accelerator is a principle you can apply to any area of your life with good effect, so it works just as well for improving your career, finances, relationships, health, spiritual awareness, etc. I focus mainly on universal growth accelerators because they work for everyone, and they’re culturally independent. In total there are 7 universal growth accelerators, although I only consider 3 of them to be primary since the other 4 can be derived from different combinations of the first 3.
For example, one of the primary universal growth accelerators is the principle of Truth. The more you can discover and accept new truths in any area of your life, the faster you’ll be able to grow. When you resist truth in any form, you slow yourself down.
So your relationship life will improve more quickly if you truly and deeply accept the current status of your relationships as they are, even if you don’t like what you see. Your finances will improve more quickly if you take a deep look at your current financial situation and acknowledge it for what it is, even if you have to face bills and debt you’d rather not think about. Your emotional life will improve more quickly if you truthfully acknowledge and accept your feelings as they arise without trying to make yourself wrong for feeling the way you do. Just as we have growth accelerators, we also have growth decelerators. So if truth accelerates your growth, then falsehood and denial slow you down. Your relationship life won’t improve much if you refuse to acknowledge the truth that your partner is cheating on you. Your health won’t improve much if you’re ignorant about good health practices. A failure to embrace new truths keeps you stuck.
What’s unique about my work isn’t the specific principles I teach. People have been teaching similar ideas for years. My unique contribution is that I connect the dots between the principles, and I can explain how they interact with each other. So I’m able to provide a framework that incorporates the best growth accelerators we know of into one complete picture, and I can show people how to apply multiple growth accelerators to the same problem or situation all at the same time. In practical terms this means you can get unstuck more easily and enjoy positive results more quickly.
I don’t want to overplay the unique aspects of my work though. I’m one voice in a chorus of many. I believe that helping people grow is a communal effort and that there are lots of other great teachers in this field. Many of them are friends of mine, and we often discuss the best ways to help shift the planet in the direction of greater social justice, environmental responsibility, and spiritual awareness. So while there’s a part of me that likes to know that I have something new and different to offer and that I’m fulfilling my own life purpose, I also recognize that we’re all in this together.
3. How were you able to take your passion to prosperity?
In the long run, this has to do with providing enough value to enough people so that you receive an abundant flow of value in return. This makes your work sustainable, so you can focus on doing what you do best without worrying about how to pay your bills.
I find that when I remember to keep focusing on creating and delivering value to people, the rest is fairly easy.
Let me bring this down to earth by sharing how I started generating income from my website. When it comes to running an online business, the main limiting factor is building enough traffic. Once you have sufficient web traffic, you have many options for earning income. But if you fail to build much traffic, then it’s very hard to earn much income. What can you do with a place that hardly anyone visits?
When I first launched my website, I focused on providing great content for free in order to build traffic through referrals. I didn’t want to spend any money on marketing, so I needed people to tell their friends, family, and co-workers about my website.
But great content wasn’t enough to accomplish that. If I wrote great content, people would digest it and thank me for it, but they usually wouldn’t share it. A month later they probably wouldn’t even remember what they read. So if that’s all you do, traffic will usually grow very slowly. It can take a very long time to generate enough income to support yourself. In fact, most people never reach that point. It just takes way too long.
So with some trial and error, I learned how to write articles that generated lots and lots of referrals. I found that one good article could attract thousands of extra visitors to my website through word of mouth.
The key to writing articles that generated lots of referrals was that I had to violate people’s expectations. This may sound counterintuitive at first, so allow me to explain. If you do what people expect of you, you’re reinforcing the patterns they’ve already learned, so they won’t remember you. Try to remember what you ate for lunch 30 days ago. You probably don’t recall exactly what you ate. Your brain forgets specific details when the outcome is predictable. But if you had a very unusual or amazing meal that day, or if the circumstances of that meal were incredibly unique, then you’re much more likely to remember it. And if you remember it, you can talk about it.
What news stories do you remember most? Do you remember the routine and predictable stories? Or do you remember the Japan earthquake, an unexpected event that probably violated your expectations for that day.
If people don’t remember you, they can’t refer anyone to you. The worst thing you can possibly do is to be ordinary and predictable.
If you can create quality content that people have a hard time forgetting, then they’re far more likely to tell someone else about it. They might email someone a link to your website, or post a link on their blog, or talk about your ideas in a conversation. Multiply this effect by thousands of people over a period of years, and it means explosive traffic growth. Without this effect, building traffic is a real struggle. Violating expectations doesn’t mean you have to be controversial or manipulative. It just means that you give people something they didn’t expect. For example, while other bloggers were writing 500- or 1000-word articles about how to succeed at blogging, I took 15 hours to write a 7300-word article called “How to Make Money From Your Blog.” It was extremely thorough and comprehensive, and I shared details that other bloggers weren’t sharing at the time. So which article do you think got most of the referrals? I violated expectations by outworking other people and by giving tons of value away for free.
Another example of how I violate expectations is by doing intensive 30-day trials. In 2008 I did a 30-day trial of the 80-10-10 raw food diet, and I blogged about it meticulously day by day. I measured and reported everything I ate to the nearest gram. I calculated and shared how much fat, protein, carbs, and calories I consumed. I posted photos of my meals. I posted my weight changes day by day. I openly shared my thoughts and feelings along the way. Most bloggers would never go to such lengths, so again I violated expectations by doing something unexpected.
Expectations are always changing. Some of the things I did that violated expectations in the past would now be considered more commonplace. So you have to keep looking at what others are doing today — and then DON’T do what they’re doing! Do what others are unwilling or unable to do. If you wish to create work that stands out, you cannot attempt to fit in.
Once I had sufficient traffic, then generating an abundant income from it was relatively easy. It just took some experimentation. At various times I’ve generated income from affiliate programs, advertising, product sales, donations, live events, joint-venture deals, consulting fees, speaking fees, book royalties, and more. Seriously, this is the easy part. Once you have a lot of traffic coming to your website month after month, it’s only a matter of time till you figure out a good way to generate income from it.
Imagine if you owned an empty warehouse with 80,000 people walking through it each day. Could you turn that into a source of income? Of course you could. It would just take some experimenting. You could trying selling ad space on the walls of the warehouse, selling food, asking for donations, etc. Better yet, you could survey the people coming through and ask them what they want, and they’ll be happy to tell you.
4. What are your top tips for someone to use their time more wisely and grow as a person?
First, assume 100% responsibility for your results in life. You’re not going to grow much if you keep giving your power away to excuses. Never blame the economy, the government, your parents, your significant other, your environment, or anyone or anything beyond yourself for your results in life. Sure there are unexpected events, but in the long run it’s your own will that makes the biggest difference. Before you empower yourself to create positive changes, you have to stop giving your power away. Making excuses or blaming others cannot possibly help; that will only keep you stuck.
Second, notice what you fear, and deliberately move towards it. Avoiding what you fear is a growth decelerator. Courageously facing your fear is a major growth accelerator. Don’t worry about trying to face your biggest fear all at once. Just keep taking little baby steps in the direction of what you fear. Little by little your courage will increase, and eventually you’ll conquer the fear.
For example, if you’re afraid of public speaking, then seek and accept new opportunities to speak in front of groups. Better yet, join Toastmasters International, so you can speak more often. Soon you’ll turn your fear of public speaking into a powerful new skill. Instead of thinking of what you fear as something to avoid, recognize that fear is actually a pointer to your most significant growth experiences. Adopt the mantra, “Whatever I fear, I must face.” This will bring so many incredible growth experiences into your life that you’ll realize that fear is really nothing to be afraid of.
Third, recognize that you aren’t living in a vacuum. Your social circle plays a huge role in shaping the course of your life. Choose your friends and associates with great care, and be willing to release people from your life who hold you back or lead you astray. Be loyal to your highest and best vision of yourself, not to your pity posse. When you summon the strength to let go of relationships that hold you back, you create the space to attract the most fulfilling relationships of your life. Great relationships cannot show up when your social life is clogged with poor or mediocre connections. So maintain high standards not just for yourself but for the people you associate with. Manage your social life such that you frequently spend time with people whose standards are higher than yours — for example, people who are wealthier, healthier, and/or happier than you are. This will help motivate you to raise your own standards.
5. How can we learn more about your resources?
The easiest way to stay in the loop is sign up for my free newsletter. I send it out once or twice a month, and it contains the latest updates on what’s going on with the website, workshops, community, etc.
If you’d like to read some of my most popular articles, then I’d suggest visiting my blog. Check out the “Best of StevePavlina.com” section in the sidebar, and start reading the articles that appeal to you most.