Episode 103 — Forced Exile — Burning Everything to the Ground to 10X Your Growth!


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Episode 103 — Forced Exile — Burning Everything to the Ground to 10X Your Growth!

Hi, everyone!

Welcome to Episode 103! This Episode is actually about why I left Los Angeles and moved to a city with no VFX industry. I knew nobody here, and I’ve spent all of my savings and did everything I could possibly do:

– to put myself out of my comfort zone;

– to raise the bar;

– to start everything from scratch;

– and build everything from the ground up.

This is going to be a bit different from all the interviews. We’ve had so many awesome guests come in one after another. I think we’re now backlogged until June 2018. I do want to make more personal bootcamp-style Episodes every month. The solo Episodes always tend to get the most feedback.

This week, I decided to do a 72-hour fast. I was blown away with the results. You have to research it first, make sure you don’t have any deficiencies first: potassium, sodium, minerals. I’ve read about the benefits of a fast, for example:

– beating inflammation;

– building up blood cells and stem cells;

– resetting your body;

– and having mental clarity.

I did it last week and it was easy. I wanted to do it again this week, to get back to that clarity I was having. This week has been more difficult, for at least the first 48 hours. That being said, this is my third day, I hope I can stay on point with this Episode.

In this Episode, I want to talk about why I’ve moved to Portland, OR. I’ll give the real basic breakdown: I had an excess of success in the last couple of years and I felt that I was getting too comfortable. Because of that, I didn’t have that hunger to hustle and succeed, as I did in the past. I had this crazy idea: What if I take away all the things I take for granted — and start from scratch? It’s an easy thing to say, but a hard thing to do. I bought a massive house in a different city and started the process of rebuilding everything. It’s been great! I’m doing everything at a larger scale.



I. As this Episode comes out, I will be launching a new version of my website. This has been a 3-year process with some failures. Right now, me and my team have been working on some great content for the new site:

– free training;

– guides and e-books.

My goal is to make it the biggest resource out there, especially for us, as creatives, to make change, learn new skills. I’m really excited about it!

II. There have been a lot of things I’ve been able to check off my 90-day plan. It’s been really cool to get feedback from you too. If you email me with your plan, I’m happy to check in with you every week, to hold you accountable. Send me YOUR 90-day plan: [email protected] 

I might put some helpful templates together. (I’ve started using One Note, the free version. You can map out every week, as well as set bigger goals for the week.) Aggression, obsession and urgency are my key words for the rest of the year. But the key word is URGENCY. At least to me, it’s been a mindset shift. I can tackle my goals with urgency. That’s been a big one for me.

III. Two or three weeks from now, I will be putting a new training series. I’m doing that hasn’t been done before. There is a huge demand for destructions: fire, explosions. This time, I’m excited to do some character related effects.

Please leave a review at allanmckay.com/103.

Let’s dive in!





[-48:15] One thing I want to talk about is habits. I’ve talked about building new habits in the past (allanmckay.com/13). But we also need to talk about bad habits: the things we’ve instilled in ourselves.

The key to change is to start out small. Start a simple change but then layer on for bigger changes. You can’t do it in one go: It’s hard to achieve and you can get overwhelmed.

– Instilling a tiny change becomes a catalyst to create a bigger change. For example, if you want to write a book: Getting off a couch is the first change, sitting at your desk for two hours is the next one.

– Then you get a momentum and things get easier and more fun.

I think it’s easy for us to complicate our goals. Accountability has been big for me. I’ve started to organize my gym sessions in the mornings before my Mentorship sessions with my students. Every single morning, I have to have done everything prior to those Webinars. Having people have expectations of you makes things easy to deliver (which is why it is hard to work for yourself when you don’t have the boss to be your accountability trigger).



[-[43:51] One of the big things I’ve experienced in the more recent years — is being ambitious. But the problems lies in the fact that I set very high goals, very black-and-white. Because I’m not measuring all the steps it takes to get there, it’s a win-or-fail situation. When I have a lot of goals going on, it become difficult to track all of them. Until I hit all of them, it feels like a failure. Every day, when I haven’t accomplished my marathon, I would feel like I’m in limbo. It’s because I wasn’t able to measure those small goals. Having those wins, measuring those steps helps us get a sense of accomplishment. Feeling like a failure gave me an urge to change things drastically.

One of the things I’ve changed mindset wise is these words: Attack with urgency! It needs to be done today, this month, this quarter. I measure my timeline according to those goals.



I see a lot of people who have so much potential but they stay stagnant inside of their comfort zone. They need that fire under their butts — the fire of change. And that’s what I’ve experienced last year: Feeling stagnant. Things have been growing the last couple of years. At the same time, it’s been counter intuitive because I need that hunger to drive me.

I sent an email to my inner circle about something I’ve never talked about publicly. If you want to get on the my inner circle — my private mailing list where I give out free tutorials — go to allanmckay.com/inside. One of the things I’ve talked about being homeless at the age of 17. This is not a comfortable topic for me. At the same time, it was a catalyst that changed my life for the better.

[-[39:10] One of the things I’ve always found when people are young and they leave home, the same thing that would come up is that they could always go back home if things didn’t work out. And I’ve always resented the fact that they could have that option: a safety net, a stable home. From the age of 14, I’ve been paying half the rent with my mom so I’ve always had responsibility. At 16, I had gone out to the real world. If I couldn’t pay rent, I’d be homeless. In that email, I’ve described losing my job and a place to stay in 24 hours.

The four foundations for our survival are:

– money;

– relationships;

– security / home;

– stability / having a job.

After that experience, losing all of that was a major shock to my system. From then on, everywhere I went, I’d always make sure I had those things covered. It was critical to stay on top of that. I had to make sure I was in control of my safety. As my career escalated, I always made sure I was safe in that growth. If you don’t do these things intelligently — without planning ahead — you’re removing the things you rely on: 

– I know so many people who move to LA without a plan or a place to stay — and it’s disaster.

– Other people save up money and plan to have a place to stay. They have safety measures in place and you know when the foundation is being taken away.

This is why so many of us are afraid of changing careers later in our lives because it’s such a huge risk. It’s not really a risk if you plan ahead. I’ve sent out three emails — it was an equivalent of a book — focusing on this subject of changing careers. By having safety measures in place, you can safely change careers without ever having any massive risk at stake. 



[-[33:56] What happens when you do make that change? You start having successes and you keep moving forward because you’ve intelligently spent that time developing the success that you want. Having the negative experiences have shaped me into being ready to hustle, being the underdog and doing whatever it takes to grow.

There were certain times, however, when reaching those goals would come with a depression. Having the success at that time mentor that I didn’t have that vector: Have the origin point of where you are and have the target point of where you want to be. When you get to that point, you can cross that off your list. But in some way, crossing that off will make you feel like you’re back at square one. You’re back at the beginning until you have your next vector. Which is why it’s important to have those bigger goals in mind.

For me, at 21, I wanted to supervise feature films and live in LA. When I achieved all that, I had a bit of a depression because I didn’t have another goal in mind. There was a very connected industry in LA and I was able to build my network quickly. The flip side is that without a direction, I had no way of measuring my success. I was having a lot of fun and pick jobs that would interest me. I was being irresponsible and not making any progress. It took me a while to figure out my next goal which was starting my studio. Having that accountability — expectations of my employees — that gave me responsibility. I had to make sure we had work coming in so I could pay everyone.



[-[30:03] Throughout my life, the highs and lows that I’ve had have always been related to the sense of purpose. In the last couple of years, I’ve made changes to my life to feel more responsible. I’ve invested things that I was passionate about. I’ve talked about 2005 being the Year of No. It had a huge impact on me because every year, I have goals I want to achieve and things always come up. So many projects I’ve had to pass on because I would be committed to another project. So I decide to say yes to only the things that excite me and that I feel right about. That changed my life! 

To get to that stage, it did mean having those margins set up. As long as I would have a certain amount of money in the bank, I could still say no to projects. I could pursue something without going into that state of emergency I’ve experienced at the age of 17. Same goes for changing your career or anything else: You want to position yourself with those margins in place.

For me, 2005 was about bringing on the jobs I was only excited about and saying no to the ones that weren’t the right opportunities for my bigger goals.

– By saying no, it tripled my revenue.

– By saying no, it allowed me build my Mentorship.

– It allowed me to give back more and help other people’s careers.

– It allowed me to work on my Podcast.

By checking that vector — if each project aligned with my goals — I was able to say no quickly. Throughout 2005-2006, I started to get more success. I’ve had that continuously throughout my career. Now that I’ve had so much growth, it has come from being out of my comfort zone.



[-26:05] It got to a point where now last year, I started going through the period of feeling I was getting no more growth. Part of it was setting too grandiose of goals and not measuring them in between. I was trying to explain it to Christina (allanmckay.com/99) when I was watching Rocky 3 over and over again. I could relate to Rocky not in any ignorant way, but the fact that he’s achieved a lot of success. I was on the edge of being soft, not being hungry. Maybe you can relate to that: You have friends around you telling you you’re fine where you are — instead of pushing you — or they don’t want you to change because it will be a reflection on them.

Last year was also a successful year:

– I was speaking at different events around the world.

– I was speaking to business crowds where people were making up to 50 million a year: Very much out of my league!

– I’ve done a few high end projects.

– I’ve launched the Live Action Series which was huge! It was the biggest thing I’ve ever put together. I’m still working on adding to that, even this week.

[-[23:03] As much as success I was having, I couldn’t really measure it and I couldn’t really see it and it made me feel like I wasn’t moving forward. I flew to Austin, TX to attend a business conference. One of the talks that I attended was by a guy with an online software business. He was talking about his journey, as well as his failures along the way. His talk really resonated with me. Now that he was making millions doing what he does, he doesn’t have that hunger anymore. One of the off-comments he said was, “Maybe if I were broke, I might have that hunger again.” That’s exactly what I was feeling. I’ve had that career and financial success. Having all of that in excess meant that none of those things were going to be a force to a change. I needed to remove those pillars of comfort.

[-[20:40] I didn’t mention it to anybody when I went back to Los Angeles. What if I didn’t have the access to all the studios and clients, a fountain of resources I’ve found in LA.

– What if I were to start from scratch and do it better this time?

– What if I rose the stakes in other areas?

– What if I invested all of my money — so that I’d have $0 in my bank account — would that cause change? Buying a house became part of the plan for getting rid of my liquid finances.



The more I thought about the positives and negatives, the more I realized there were some negatives: Same routines, same people calling me up at [11:00] at night asking me to hang out. That’s where I started building a plan in my head: What if I move to another city where there are no opportunities and I create them for myself? This would be my sandpit. I could:

– Create an amazing environment to work in.

– Have great locations to shoot in.

– Eliminate all the distractions (going to lunch with your buddies every day).

– Become able to schedule distractions I wanted (to go to LA or Vancouver on my time).

– This would be my way of doing it on a bigger scale.

[-[17:22] So I started looking at Austin and Portland. I flew up to Portland one weekend with a friend. The idea of it being green and have it be raining was exciting enough. I then pitched it to Christina and the two of us flew out there with an intent of buying a house that very week. We flew up and within those four days, we picked a house and made an offer. That was the urgency I wanted. I wanted to go into 2017 and create that sandpit, create the changes and the opportunities for myself; eliminated all the bad influences and bad habits. If this were a reverse and someone were in Portland, I would tell them to get out of their comfort zone and move to LA or Vancouver, begin to network and work. I did it in reverse: I left the gold mine.

[-[14:59] Of course, you don’t do that without having things in place:

– For me, the rule was that I had to be 30 minutes from the airport or less.

– I’m in the same time zones as LA or Vancouver, the two VFX capitals of the world.

– I could also drive to Vancouver if I wanted to!

– It’s a 2-hour flight to LA. At the same time, I have this benefit of having a new lifestyle.

Portland has fresh air, lakes, amazing nature. But at the same time, there is no industry here. One of the studios Laika is taking a break from doing VFX right now. Other places are still doing work: Shoutout to Refuge! (allanmckay.com/100/). But the industry is not at the same scale as LA.

[-[13:35] I wanted to practice what I preach in my Podcast. I wanted to confine myself to a new environment and build everything from the ground up. Investing all of my money into the house, I need to earn my way back to LA. I’ve now depleted all of my resources, I need to pay off my house and meet my goals quicker. The harder I work — the more I grow and the sooner I can get back to where I want to be. I’m going to need and get new work completely remotely.

[-11:40] As we speak, I’ve got a massive sauna and ice bath set up in my yard. I’ve spoken about health benefits of ice baths before (allanmckay.com/13/). I have a garage for film equipment. I’ve mentioned 90-day goals. Now, it’s about doing those goals:

– Health;

– Finishing up my courses;

– Building new courses;

– Expanding my team;

– Rebuilding my website;

– Film projects and film shoots;

– Growing the Podcast.

This is the catalyst to make it all happen.



[-[10:09]8] Forcing change is really critical for all of us. At the same time, having experienced that comfort, we lose the hunger. There is always going to be someone hungrier than you right behind you. If you lose that hunger, that person is going to beat you. It’s always important to have somewhere further to go.

I don’t know if this Episode will resonate with everyone:

– Identify the way you measure progress.

– Make sure you aren’t overwhelmed by grandiose goals.

– Eliminate excess.

– Force yourself to have these massive changes.

– Create new environments and friendships.

Even though I’m in Portland, I didn’t bat an eyelid: I continue to work on big projects without needing to seek local jobs. No matter where you are, you’re able to work remotely these days, and get the clients and make the work happen.

I was really excited to do this. I am already seeing a lot of the success and it’s inspiring to see it happen.

– Building your plan,

– Taking a look at what’s too comfortable,

– Getting out of that comfort zone and identifying where you need to make change.

– Identifying other things that you need to be in a safe place.

– Having accountability factors.

– Making sure you don’t fail.

You have to go through the hard yards before the easy ones come. So that you can get to the larger scale. I’m excited to go out into these environments and shoot in this new environment. At this point, if I want all the comfort that I had, I have to work extra hard.

I hope this resonates with you. Shoot me an email identifying where you’re too comfortable and areas where you need to be out of comfort for a while: [email protected].

I hope you enjoyed this Episode. Leave a comment or shoot me an email! It would mean the world to me if you leave a review on iTunes and / or share this Episode. I want as many people to benefit from this Episode as possible.

Rock on!

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