Meet Jimmy Naraine, Growth Master

by Jerome Knyszewski
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Jimmy Naraine, entrepreneur, author, course creator

Jimmy Naraine wears many hats. Not only is he an online entrepreneur, he is also a highly sought-after international resource speaker, a world-class course creator, and adventurer.

For his assorted Udemy courses, Jimmy Naraine has already taught over 197,000 students from 194 countries. His courses cover a variety of topics, including confidence, social skills, wealth creation, and productivity. In recognition of his success, Udemy itself awarded Jimmy the first ever Udemy innovation award. His work at Udemy has earned him thousands of perfect, 5-star reviews.

Jimmy Naraine has won hundreds of thousands of students over through his straightforward approach, straight-talking attitude, and unique delivery. Aside from his course creation work, he has also spent more than five years as a “digital nomad,” and he has explored 72 countries, while running his online businesses.

For his many ventures, Jimmy Naraine has also been recognized in international publications, including Entrepreneur and Business Insider. He has also become an in-demand keynote speaker at jam-packed conferences such as DNX, Nomad Cruise, MindvalleyU, and 12minme.

With Alex T. Steffen, Jimmy Naraine has also founded Growth Masters, an invite-only training session for entrepreneurs driven to achieve success whatever it takes. Growth Masters is also an international gig, with events in Bali, the Canary Islands, the Himalayas, and Brazil.

For Jimmy Naraine, people should be strong enough to overcome the beliefs and issues that limit their true potential. This way, they should be able to create their best lives and start living.

Check out more interviews with industry mavericks here. You can also check out Jimmy Naraine’s YouTube channel for more content.

Jerome Knyszewski: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Jimmy Naraine: Every single person working for me is entirely remote. I’m aware that nowadays, amid the Covid pandemic, many companies are leaning towards remote work. Still, there are not many firms that have been 100% virtual from day one. Some of my employees live primarily in one location, but it’s by choice, not because they have to. When I choose people to work with, I make sure that they have a genuine desire to make a global impact while blending it with a sense of adventure. For me, it’s not just about the skillset. Interestingly, whenever a project requires travel, members of my team get legitimately excited.

One story that comes to mind is when we were working on several new video courses. Instead of filming everything in a cozy studio, we decided to go to Vietnam. Rather than conveniently booking ourselves in one hotel for the entire stay, we embraced the spirit of adventure, rented motorcycles, and explored Vietnam searching for good filming shots. This radical move was unnecessary, but we did it for two reasons. Firstly, we wanted to make education fun and compelling and knew that people responded very well to seeing videos from exotic locations versus a typical studio. Secondly, as mentioned before, each person working for me has a thirst for adventure. Whenever we can combine business and exploration, we do it as it improves morale, boosts creativity, and ultimately, leads to better results. We ended up filming on beaches, rooftops of abandoned buildings, and small Vietnamese streets during that trip.

The fascinating thing is that many people don’t like the feeling of uncertainty and discomfort that inevitably comes with such travel. However, my team members loved the experience. It also became a springboard for more adventures, from renting a van in Canary Islands and filming various nature spots to exploring Greece and Thailand. My Team and I believe that business is not just about getting things done; it’s about optimizing to fill your work life with never-ending excitement. We embrace the same approach when working for our clients. When someone needs help with filming their online course or promotional videos, we are more than happy to travel anywhere in the world, of course, depending on the budget. In essence, something that feels like an inconvenience for many people gives us a sense of fulfillment.

When you hire people, make sure that their value and belief system is aligned with yours. Find people who believe in what you do and resonate with HOW you do things.

Jerome Knyszewski: Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Jimmy Naraine: One of the biggest reasons people burn out, no matter the industry, is that they engage in work, they don’t truly believe in and try to do too much themselves. As you are building your career, you will face many difficult decisions, and some of them may force you to compromise on what you believe in. The truth is that not all clients and business partners are created equal, and some of them may quickly drain your energy.

Most business owners and professionals try to continually do more, without pondering the consequences holistically. I sincerely believe that more is not always better. Calibration is key. When you pick your clients, it’s not about saying YES by default to everyone who wants to work with you.

To thrive in business without burning out, it’s essential to set very clear boundaries with yourself. It’s vital to define precisely what you are prepared to do and the compromises you are not willing to make. You have to determine the types of clients you want to work with. It’s always a two-way dynamic. Just as they are pondering if they should hire you, you need to consciously decide if YOU want to work with them. It’s beneficial to ask yourself a question: “what are the pros and cons of working with this client?” We are often so blinded by all the immediate benefits that we cannot see what could go wrong. When you pick the clients you truly want to work with, positive energy and full alignment will drive productivity. Increased productivity will create more results, which in turn will make you feel better. It creates an upward positive spiral.

Secondly, clear communication and managing expectations from the very beginning in all business situations are crucial. Too many “blurred lines” always lead to challenges down the road. On the other hand, cultivating clear communication and being “a straight shooter” ensures that everyone is on the same page.

Thirdly, nothing extraordinary has ever been accomplished just by one individual. If you want to create massive results while staying sane, you need to appreciate the value of delegating and learn how to do it effectively.

Jerome Knyszewski: None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Jimmy Naraine: I believe that there is no such thing as a fully “self-made” person. We all get help along the way from various people, sometimes directly, but more often indirectly. I want to share an example that shows how just one gesture can drastically alter the course of your life.

When I was at university, working for Goldman Sachs was perceived to be the pinnacle, the ultimate dream. The dynamic amongst students was clear: if you work for a prominent investment firm in London, you’ve “made it.” Frankly, I never had a genuine desire to work for a bank. The only reason I went for it was because I felt a tremendous pressure to embrace what seemed like a golden opportunity. After growing up with many insecurities, part of me felt that working for a company like this would fill the void deep inside. It gave me a sense of recognition and accomplishment.

During my stint at Goldman, I learned a lot, but it didn’t take me long to realize that I was living someone else’s dream. I quickly concluded that I would never be fulfilled working for a corporation. Deep inside, I had a dream of running a location-independent business while exploring the world. However, it’s incredibly challenging to summon the courage without the right support team or a mentor who could pave the way. My mentor in Goldman Sachs was an ex-army Commander. Every several weeks we went on a 45-minute walk, and he would share his experiences.

One day, I delivered a presentation in front of the entire department, and will never forget the way my mentor congratulated me. After the speech, he pulled me aside and said something that shifted my perception of reality.

“Jimmy, you have the ability to inspire and lead people, and I can see the spark in you. I can see that you want more from life. I can see that you have a tremendous entrepreneurial drive in you. I don’t think that this place will give you the opportunities you need. I feel like if you don’t go after whatever your vision is, you may be wasting your potential.”

Hearing those words from the global head of one of the departments, and a person I respected tremendously, left me speechless. His words were the injection of confidence and courage I needed. I realized that my dreams of being a business owner were not just some delusion. I understood that they were possible. It was at that moment when I decided that I needed to give entrepreneurship a shot.

Often in life, we feel like we could do more, but we don’t genuinely believe in ourselves. We remember all of our mistakes, failures, self-doubts. Sometimes it takes someone else to make us realize our true potential, someone who will tell us: “you CAN do it. You have the potential. You can shape your reality.” That moment after the presentation was so powerful that I feel slightly emotional writing about it. I believe that it’s those moments that shape your future if you allow them to.

Jerome Knyszewski: Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. Delegating effectively is a challenge for many leaders. Let’s put first things first. Can you help articulate to our readers a few reasons why delegating is such an important skill for a leader or a business owner to develop?

Jimmy Naraine: I believe that any successful business is about challenging basic mathematics by making 2+2 equal 22. It may sound counter-intuitive at first, but it’s all about creating the synergy effect. Running a thriving business is about ensuring that the total becomes more than the sum of its parts.

The most significant difference between running a business and merely providing a service is that you have to become comfortable working as a team. Synergy is created by working as a cohesive team, and there is no way around it. Delegating can be very challenging, especially for control freaks. However, it is crucial, and not doing it means depriving yourself of your true potential. As leaders, we often fall into the trap of trying to have too much control. The key is to change our vocabulary and replace “I” with “WE,” always asking ourselves: “how can WE work together for this company to thrive?” The word WE is critical here as it’s the core of any successful business.

Jerome Knyszewski: Can you help articulate a few of the reasons why delegating is such a challenge for so many people?

Jimmy Naraine: I understand why delegation can be challenging as I used to be a control freak, easily trapped by the disease of perfectionism. Initially, it felt very challenging to delegate any work. However, once I realized the tremendous benefits of doing so, my paradigm had shifted. Now, it’s hard for me even to imagine how anyone could ever be successful without the willingness to “let go of control” by delegating certain tasks. I believe that a successful leader shouldn’t spend the entire time fighting on the “battlefield.” Instead, their time is better spent in the “tent” calibrating the big picture strategy.

There are several reasons why delegation is so challenging. First of all, managers and business owners often assume that they can do things better than anyone else. They want to have full control of the outcome. However, having full control is just a comfortable illusion. There is only some degree of control we have in any realm of life. We can meticulously design and execute all our plans, but unexpected challenges are inevitable. This is especially true in the business world. The sooner leaders realize it, the better.

The second reason is often the lack of trust. It’s common for leaders to feel like others may not deliver to their standard or, even worse — make compromises that may lead to negative consequences. However, when you give people your trust, they take more ownership and perform better. On the flip side, a lack of trust often leads to lower morale and poor performance.

The third reason is the substantial upfront investment that has to be made in terms of time and effort. When you delegate new tasks, you need to accept that there will be a learning curve. Initially, the results may not be ideal as your team is learning the ropes. It also means that you need to make an effort to steer people in the right direction. The good news is that if you are consistently delegating, the results will become increasingly better. Eventually, you will have a team of absolute experts who can perform various tasks more efficiently and effectively than you. However, this “2+2=22” effect requires an upfront investment.

Jerome Knyszewski: In your opinion, what pivots need to be made, either in perspective or in work habits, to help alleviate some of the challenges you mentioned?

Jimmy Naraine: Several important things come to mind. As a leader, you need to drop your ego. You have to be extremely honest about your priorities and strengths and focus on them. Your team should handle the rest. Better yet, you want to create a situation where your team members become better than you at performing all the delegated tasks.

As the first step, I recommend performing the 80/20 analysis of everything you do. The 80/20 Rule, also called the Pareto Principle, asserts that roughly 80% of results come from 20% of inputs. The ratio differs based on the circumstances, but the basic premise is that very few things truly matter. As a business person, you need to identify several crucial tasks that you should be performing yourself. All activities that don’t fall into that category should be delegated. From my experiences, using the Pareto principle gives tremendous clarity that allows leaders to justify delegating various tasks. I fact, it often makes them excited about the idea of delegation!

Secondly, consciously work on a mindset shift that full control is just a convenient illusion. To gain more power and create better results, it’s necessary to give up some control first. Focus on the macro-scale rather than the micro-scale. Start delegating consistently, even when it feels uncomfortable, and learn from the process.

As mentioned before, as a leader, you don’t want to spend all your time at the front line. Instead, you want to make sure that you have plenty of time and energy to plan the big picture strategy in your “general’s tent.” Trying to do most things by yourself is doing a disservice to yourself AND your Team. People appreciate having the ownership of various tasks. Besides, an overworked and stressed leader rarely makes the right decisions, so it’s in everyone’s interest that you focus only on what is truly important, delegate the rest and let your team shine.

Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Jimmy Naraine: It is such a great question, and I appreciate you asking. The first thing that comes to mind is that there is not enough awareness of how vital cultivating physical and mental health is. The mainstream media focuses primarily on fearful events as they get the most attention. As busy humans, we often focus solely on day to day activities connected to making money and live our lives on autopilot. Sadly, we rarely stop to ponder how our daily actions impact our overall health. Ultimately, life is meant to be lived, and a big part of living your best life is to feel good in your body AND mind.

I believe that there needs to be more awareness of how important health is. Leaders and media channels should put more emphasis on teaching people how to manage their health. We need to make more effort to create a health-conscious society where people realize that their everyday decisions ultimately impact their overall well-being. Rather than going on autopilot eating unhealthy food, never delving deep into our minds to resolve internal issues, we need to become more aware. People need to reclaim their power and realize that they can consciously control the reality they live in. Most of us brush our teeth and shower every single day, yet, we don’t take even a little bit of time to ponder how our seemingly unimportant decisions affect our mental and physical health.

If everyone embraced daily “check-ins” with themselves and became more conscious about their daily choices, it would positively impact the world as a whole. I appreciate you asking this question as I’m a big believer that the quality of our lives depends on the quality of questions we ponder.

Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?

Jimmy Naraine: The best place to find me is through my website where you can find lots of valuable resources including my eBooks. You can also follow my adventures as a “travelling businessman” on my Instagram.

I appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts and everyone who took their time to read this interview.

Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!

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