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My Story: The Untold Truth Of Dan Koe

I was observant as a child.

I knew there had to be a better way of living.

It seemed like every corner I looked… people were unhappy.

Unhappy with their careers, boss, spouse, children, colleagues, self, mornings, nights, everything.

This may just be the environment I was exposed to or what my mind gravitated towards, but something made me want to avoid this “default” lifestyle like the plague.

Complaining about the cards I was dealt wasn’t going to change my future.

Taking matters into my own hands was the only option.

Personal responsibility, self-education, and the pursuit of sovereignty is what I dedicated my sub-20-year-old life to.

If everyone was told to watch the news, go to college, get a job, retire at 65, and do as they’re told — would that not lead to everyone getting the same results?

Is that not the cause of this global unhappiness?

There was only one option: Do the exact opposite of everyone else.

While everyone glued their eyes to the TV, I drowned my mind in the information from people who were doing what I wanted to do, creators (who actually had results for it unlike most professors who teach something they’ve never done, they are taught to teach, not do).

While everyone sat on the couch after work, I went to the gym straight after school.

While everyone let toxic mainstream news flood their mind, I read books on spirituality and actualizing my full potential.

Before we begin:

The Art Of Focus Keepsake Edition price increases in 3 days. It comes with:

  • The Keepsake Hardcover – we are only printing 2000 copies.
  • The digital download of the book so you can be the first to read.
  • The audiobook version when it is recorded and uploaded.
  • The FOCI Planner to deconstruct your ideal future into priority tasks.
  • The FOCI Coin to remember to act with intention.
  • The Digital Transformation Center with 12 hours of modern entrepreneurship training.
  • The Private Community for updates, discussion, and networking.
  • A private invitation to an in-person event in Phoenix, AZ next year.

Preorder your copy here before October 24, 2023.

And a special shoutout to Jack Moses for seeing how the newsletters pieced together to create a cohesive book on The Universe, lifestyle design, creating your ideal self, and finding purpose in modern business (when it seems full of sleazy marketing on the surface).

The Bane Of My Existence: The Conventional Career Path

One thing that I was truly excited to do was go to college. I knew that it would give me a chance to let me try new things, meet new people, and ultimately:

Delay the amount of time I had to build a sustainable income source for myself.

The minute that I set foot on the ASU campus I knew that I had started a timer.

It was do or die.

I had to learn the skills necessary to make an income without a job, or end up the same as everyone else. If I had to get a job, I knew that 8-hour days and energy-draining work would leave little room for me to break free of that job.

I was hell-bent on trying different business models.

In freshman year, I started a fitness YouTube channel with my buddy who lived in the dorm room 3 doors down from mine.

We made workout videos, educational videos, and food challenges (my 10,000 calorie challenge video got around 20,000 views which excited me).

After a few months, we decided to call it quits. I didn’t do much else during freshman year aside from partying, playing video games, taking graphic design, marketing, film, and other classes to see what I was truly interested in.

Around that time, my group of friends and I were arrested for smoking weed in the parking structure across from our dorm building. I got to take a ride with the not-so-kind police officer, give him my fingerprints, and have him interrogate me about where I got the weed (funny story that we’ll dive into another time).

This is an important turning point in my life. I had forgotten about my goal of avoiding the conventional career path. When I went home for the summer, I got a letter from the court in the mail that gave me 2 options:

  1. Go to court, defend my case, and possibly be a convicted felon
  2. Pay $5-$10,0000 for a program that made me pee in a cup every week for 3-6 months.

This scared the crap out of me. I hid the letter from my parents and dealt with my emotional turmoil in silence.

This was the moment I purchased The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle. I glued my eyes to the page hoping it would ease some of my suffering — and it did. This was one of the times when I genuinely stopped caring. I let go. Whatever was going to happen was going to happen.

I regained that drive to blaze my own path, started making YouTube videos again (talking head videos, kind of like Elliot Hulse at the time), and continued learning about spirituality along the way.

As with every other business model I tried, it didn’t work out.

Failing, Failing, and Failing Again

In my sophomore year of college, I picked up photography. I watched YouTube videos like mad to educate myself, used my summer job money to buy a camera, and shot pics of whatever I could. Skyscrapers downtown, landscapes after a long hike, macro shots of nature.

I didn’t really care for taking pictures, what I really loved was editing. That realization shot me down a Photoshop learning rabbit hole and come junior year of college I committed to posting some of my edits on Instagram.

I spent 6-8 hours at a time glued to my computer working to actualize a surreal image I had in my head. These were some of the results:

Most of these were just mashups of stock images, some had my own photos (like the buildings and plane).

I never planned to make an income from this — but I ended up gaining around 2,500 followers on Instagram. I got bored of the whole digital art thing after a few months, but it taught me the importance of graphic design, visual storytelling, and opened my mind to the possibility of growing on social media with quality content.

If I had the awareness I do now, I could have easily created a course teaching people how to make these compositions.

That same year, I tried a few more business models.

1) A Facebook Ads Agency

I bought a course that taught me the fundamentals of landing clients, creating Facebook ads, and advertising local businesses.

I gave up after sending around 50 cold emails and never landing a client after 2-3 sales calls.

Looking back, this taught me about funnels and direct response marketing. A key component to making any business work. I just didn’t have the patience.

2) A Rave Clothing Dropshipping Store

I went to my first rave and was exposed to the whole EDM scene in my sophomore year (hence my obsession with dubstep for focused work and gym music). I knew the industry like the back of my hand and knew there was a demand for fancy (and skimpy) clothes. Especially during “festival season.”

I bought an eCom course that taught me branding, copywriting, Shopify, and how to find “good products.”

I used my previous Facebook ads knowledge, spent about $100 on ads, and made one sale of a shiny bra (lol).

The first online dollar felt amazing, but I felt like a piece of garbage having people wait 30 days for the product to be shipped from China.

My skills were starting to stack.

I had a solid understanding of design, marketing, copywriting, sales, and branding. Things started to make sense.

3) Freelance Web Design

This is where things get spicy. At this time — in senior year — I was living with 6 other guys in an old frat house. Yes… 6 guys in one house. There were 2 master bedrooms that people split.

Sometimes I miss those days. There was always something interesting going on. A truly unique group of people that all got along.

I took an introduction to web development course that launched me into an entirely new phase of life. I fell in love with coding. I skipped class, studied Udemy courses, took free coding classes, and ended up learning the entire college course curriculum in about a month. I didn’t show up to 95% of the classes and was still top of that class.

This taught me the absolute necessity of a self-education habit for those who want to do their own thing in life.

Deep study and deep work have to be a daily thing. You can’t skip it. The only other option is to be assigned distractions or the work of others to fill that time.

Part of the reason I loved coding so much is that I knew I could freelance with that skill and at minimum get a high-paying job whether I graduate or not. The tech industry was rather lenient when it came to needing a degree.

I tried my hand at freelancing, reached out to friends and family, built some portfolio sites, and landed a few cheap clients (I made around $500 total).

That was senior year — my time was running out.

I had to make something work or succumb to my fate of “getting a real job.”

4) Two Ecommerce Brands

I decided to combine my branding, web development, graphic design, and advertising skills into one and create a real brand.

I knew that developers were stuck at a screen all day — and this is around the time blue light glasses were gaining mainstream popularity — so I called my dad.

“Hey pops… question for ya… can I uhhhhhh borrow a few thousand dollars? I promise I’ll pay you back, here’s my entire plan for getting rich, makes sense right?”

My dad probably thought I was insane, but he believed in me, something I am truly grateful for — not many have this opportunity. I couldn’t waste it.

I looked for the perfect product, ordered them, waited 30 days for them to show up, took product pictures, and started paying for ads and influencer shoutouts.

Here’s one of my ad images:

Yes. That’s a hedgehog. His name was Momo. Very cuddly despite his spiky demeanor. He ended up getting sick — and after multiple efforts to syringe feed him to health — he passed away.

RIP Momo.

The glasses were great. I was proud of the product. But I was just shoveling money down the drain on ads at this point. I learned about influencer promotions, paid a meme page to post an ad and had everyone in the comments calling me a “clown.” That hurt, I quit once again.

This sparked another major low point in my life, similar to when I got arrested.

I had wasted my dad’s money, maxed out my first credit card, and could not see the light. I was doomed.

The only logical option was to accept my fate, use my previously learned coding skills, and opt for plan B of getting a job.

Luckily enough, I got a web design job fairly quickly. It was a cushy job that taught me about what it really takes to run a web design agency. I used my free time there to try to land clients and saw some success.

Now that I had money coming in, I decided to try out another e-commerce brand. This time with minimalist wallets (that my friends and I still use to this day, they were top quality.)

I even invested quite a bit in professional product pics:

Again… didn’t make a sale, wasted money, and got tired of it.

This is when I went all-in on freelancing.

There was a blurry moment throughout all of this where I also tried an SEO agency, content marketing agency, and was still kinda trying to find clients for anything I could get my hands on, mostly web design.

All of the skills I had developed up until this point could not fail me.

Nothing Happens, Then Everything Happens

Even though I had a decent-paying job, my inner child was still screaming at me to live up to my promise.

I may not have been able to avoid a job altogether, but I could sure as hell get out of it before other life responsibilities started to pile up. A car, wife, children, and the rest would be my nail in the coffin. I had to get out immediately.

I walked into local businesses, reached out to my network again, tried LinkedIn prospecting, and everything else.

I was able to land 2-3 clients a month at $1500-$2500 from this.

When I learned more about the businesses I was helping (mostly service businesses) I learned a bit about email marketing and copywriting.

I also realized that the web design agency I worked at was only profitable because they had a marketing, sales, and operations department. The web designers were only one piece of the puzzle (keep that in mind freelancers, you have to learn it all).

I pivoted my offer and started creating simple service funnels.

A landing page, opt-in, and email sequence that would get calls booked for people like contractors, lawyers, accountants, pest control, and anyone else who were already getting leads but wanted to convert more into calls and customers.

This is when I started increasing my prices (because it was a more specific offer that got better results than just “I’ll build you a pretty website”).

I was charging $2500-$5000 to set this funnel up. It took me less time to build than it did a full-blown website. I was able to systemize my process. It was less “custom” and more “results” based on what has worked.

A few months later, I decided to quit my job. I had the knowledge and skill. I had absolute confidence in my ability at this point.

Quitting my job wasn’t as exciting as I thought it would be… but the act of working toward that goal was deeply enjoyable.

A few months later I discovered the power of Twitter, started posting content, and planned out a freelancing digital product while trying to land web design/funnel clients there. This is when my niche shifted towards creators, coaches, and freelancers. I knew them well, liked working with them, and could get them some killer results.

Over the last 4 years, I built out products, pivoted my brand, tested different offers, and here we are now.

This is where the exponential growth started to kick in.

Here’s what happened:

1) I hit 6 figures freelancing.

4 years ago was the first time I hit 6 figures from my efforts.

Technically, it took 4-5 years of trial and error since my freshman year of college to reach that point. But I wasn’t all too serious. I took too much time off and like cardio, your progress dissipates fast. You have to do it every day for life.

2) I built out a freelancing course, grew my audience, and started making an extra $3,000 per month with my course (on top of client work).

“Solve your own problems and sell the solution” is my mantra.

I had so much freelancing knowledge by this point that it made sense to create a product around that. I could just have easily created a fitness product since I’ve spent 10 years in the gym and obsessing over my nutrition.

I only had 500 followers at this point.

I made $3,000 a month because I was smart with networking. I got shared and reposted by developer accounts (people who had skills to freelance with) and self-improvement accounts (people who wanted to get out of their job).

Even with 500 followers, I was leveraging accounts’ audiences that added up to over 100,000. That’s how I got traffic to my digital products and gained followers that would compound with time.

3) I created a second digital product that taught how I create websites.

The freelancing product was a hit for my size and authority (not much).

“Create your own customers” is my second mantra.

I had to create a bridge between my current product and the beginners I was attracting by talking about my other interests, like mindset and spirituality.

I had to teach them a skill that they could freelance with.

4) I hit 10,000 followers on Twitter and created a beginner social media digital product.

Now that I had results with social media, I created a social media product.

It was a logical puzzle piece to my other products.

You can freelance on social media and avoid the pains of cold email and manual outreach by building an audience.

I eventually bundled them all together into a product called Modern Money (lol).

5) I launched a physical planner.

I loved talking about productivity in my writing.

And I’ve always had an itch to create something physical.

So, I used my previous eCommerce failures to source and sell a physical planner.

It did well, but I hated shipping out of my own home. It was too time consuming.

So I turned it into a digital version and gave it away for free.

6) I hit 6 figures in digital product sales in just over a year.

With multiple product launches and “bullet spraying” the market to see what worked, I was able to double down fast.

My 3 digital products made $100,000 in a little over a year.

7) I pivoted my freelance offer into a marketing consulting offer.

At this point, I was kind of tired of web design and funnels.

I had creators and coaches nearly begging me to consult them rather than do it for them. Creators often like to learn and do things themselves, so I leaned into that.

I created a consulting program that taught marketing, sales, copywriting, offer creation and my simple service funnel to land more clients.

This freed up more time since I didn’t have to do the work for them. I showed up for calls and communicated through a chat app like Telegram.

8) I built Modern Mastery HQ.

Modern Mastery was the next stepping stone in my life’s work.

I spent two years of my life overloading it with all of the information I learned.

I put all of my old products inside there to get people up to speed.

This taught me that growing a membership-based community is a long and slow grind.

Everyone always asks me how to start a community because they think it’s more profitable than a plain old digital product. It’s hard… and it’s not.

9) I hit my first $50,000 month.

With Modern Mastery and my marketing/brand advising, I made my first $50,000 in one month.

This consisted of around 5 clients at $8,000 a piece and the rest was filled with Modern Mastery subscriptions.

10) I built Digital Economics and 2 Hour Writer to create a foundation for my vision.

Over the years I had some pretty insane results for myself and my clients.

The cool thing about this business is that my best clients became good friends.

With that, I was still annoyed by client work. I didn’t like how much time it took out of my day. I had the results to productize, so I did.

I built my Digital Economics masterclass with literally everything I’ve ever learned. Then, I splintered 2 Hour Writer off from that and sold it as a lower ticket product to create a value ladder.

Everything I’ve built until this point allowed for my current products to form.

Meaning, you can’t create the perfect product, or even know what product to create, if you don’t just create one at your current level.

All of my knowledge is going into my book.

The Power Planner failure will turn into a success with its relaunch with the book (you can preorder The FOCI Planner with the Keepsake Box).

The software I’m building would not be possible without 4 years of writing and teaching writing as a skill.

I had to evolve. Most people create a product and sell that for life. That’s a great way to get stuck.

11) I made $800,000 in 2022 writing 2 hours a day.

At the end of 2022, my brand started to reach exponential growth on all platforms.

Everything started to align.

My products were solid just by the nature of evolution.

My audience (traffic) increased fast, so my income grew with it.

Thank goodness I was out of client work now because I wouldn’t have been able to utilize that traffic.

Lesson: if you have a decent product that sells, focus the majority of your efforts on audience building and leverage. Diversify platforms, make sure you are growing, maybe even write a book for added depth and authority.

I made a video on my writing process that allowed me to do this in 2 hours a day.

12) I’ve made $3,300,000 in a year.

Once I realized that all I needed was a growing readership and a product that helped others (so it sold, brought value to their lives, and spread by word of mouth), I knew what my levers were.

I spent 2 hours every morning writing.

When done right, this leads to both new products, readership growth, and maintenance of your business.

By staying consistent – and being sure that I was in fact growing my readership – exponential growth hit and my income stayed consistent with my growth.

13) I’m investing every cent I can into the success of my new company, Kortex.

Kortex is many things.

At its heart, it is a revolutionary software for writers, marketers, and creatives.

Think of it as a note-taking app combined with a writing app to ensure that your writing is unique, impactful, and persuasive.

(Say bye-bye to Notion and Obsidian being the “second brain” apps of the creator economy when they don’t serve the purpose of good writing that builds a readership.)

Further than that, it will also replace newsletter software, personal websites, and content scheduling apps for the majority of creators in future versions.

That is the software base. It is not ready for the public.

We are building an education backbone.

All Kortex subscribers get access to a library of strategies that is better than most courses you will find in the creator economy.

It is the only place you can hire me (and Justin Scott + Joey Justice) for consulting, a group mastermind, or ghostwriting to build your name with writing as a creator.

If you’re interested in working with us, apply here.

The Overarching Lesson Of All Of My Teachings: Evolution Of Identity

Evolution demands struggle, tension, conflict, and challenge.

As above, so below.

When a star explodes, atomic nuclei fill the galaxy allow other forms to grow.

When war breaks out among nations, technological advancements are made that have saved more lives than were lost.

When you feel lost, you are nearing the end of a chapter in your life. You either find purpose or get consumed by the emotional turmoil you are trapped in.

You can’t allow yourself to get complacent.

There is always a next mountain to climb, project to build, product to launch, writing to post.

When you pursue and overcome challenges by solving problems, you are required to acquire the skillset and mindset to do so.

When you pursue and achieve goals, your complexity of self increases.

Life becomes meaningful because you have the experience to notice the things that the average individual can’t.

If you don’t know what to do, start a business.

It is one of the best vessels for personal and collective evolution.

That’s my story.

I hope you enjoyed it.

Dan Koe

Who Is Dan Koe?

I am a writer & brand advisor for 7-8 figure creators, influencers, and social media brands. I am obsessed with dissecting human potential, lifestyle design, and one-person businesses.

When You’re Ready, Here’s How I Can Help You:

The FOCI Planner

Goals are important. If you want help reverse engineering your vision into bite-size goals and tasks — order The FOCI Planner.

The Art Of Focus Book

Find meaning, reinvent yourself, and create your ideal future. Now available for preorder on Amazon.

The 2 Hour Writer

Implement Our 2 Hour Content Ecosystem To Learn High Impact Digital Writing, Boost Your Online Authority, & Systemize Content Creation For Rapid Growth

Mental Monetization

Monetize your creative work with a digital product that sells while you sleep. Turn your knowledge, skills, and interests into a meaningful income.