091: AJ Vassar | Practicing Success and Attacking Failure

AJ Vassar is the Managing Partner of Unleash U Now. AJ is a former Division one football player. After his football days, he found himself homeless and a mere five years later he donated five cars to five people who are less fortunate. AJ is also the author of Day Grades and creator of “Underground Wealth Road.”
In this episode, Aj gets into why he went from theory to application and from reading to doing. He explains that when you work with him, you’re either going to die or reach your goal. He talks about how he’s creating an accountability academy that you’re going to want to be a part of. Check it out!

AJ Vassar Practicing Success and Attacking Failure

[02:07 – 14:59] AJ’s learning journey and Masterminds

The Mastermind Effect:  02:04

Our ability to learn has really changed over the last years. When you and I were younger, who we have access to was textbooks and teachers and parents, family, friends, co-workers, but that’s really a sliver of what’s possible. How is your learning changed from your early years versus today?

AJ Vassar:  02:26

From my early years, it was a bunch of theory—a boss of books. Today, it’s a boss of application and making it happen. Its no longer just hearing about it, but doing it, and that’s probably the biggest difference. I learn through doing, I learn through failing. That probably is one of my biggest secrets, I set failure goals because I realized I learned the most when I fail.

The Mastermind Effect:  02:52

Well, what do you mean by failure goals? And why is the outcome so positive for you and the people that you work with?

AJ Vassar:  03:09

So when we start something, we always want to win, right? To win, you’re going to have to learn the game, and you can only learn the game by failing. Failing doesn’t make you a failure. I believe that failing is part of the process of success.

So a lot of us never get to success because when we start failing, we think we’re doing something wrong when we’re actually doing something right. I want to make sure that I won’t focus on success because I might get depressed.

When I set a failure goal, it’s like getting closer to success because when I failed, I learned. So, I also teach failing successfully because you can also fail poorly.

So the Superbowl happens right every year, right? Think about what happens at the end of the game, winners are celebrating what they are not thinking is how it could have been improved, which is typically why the Super Bowl champion don’t make the playoffs the next year.

If you look at it, whenever we win we celebrate, whenever we fail we contemplate. So I want to put myself in contemplation to see how can I improve and become better as a person. The only way I’m going to learn is if I experienced the failing process.

The Mastermind Effect:  05:09

It reminds me of someone and they say that, they only celebrate when someone digs themself out of a hole, they never reward someone for never getting in that hole. And I think if, from the standpoint of setting those failure goals, you might find a way not getting in that arena and celebrate your moments when you don’t get in that arena.

AJ Vassar:  05:35

So why not celebrate the whole process of getting in it and getting out of it?

I’ll give an example. When you invited me, I could’ve said no, and then you would have asked yourself why. Then you’ll realize that by putting yourself in a position to dig yourself in a hole, there are also great outcomes. One great outcome is I say yes, and the other great outcome is you learn why I said no. Then, when the next person comes on and they gave you the same thing I said, you already know how to deal with it.

The Mastermind Effect:  06:34

Here’s the thing I urge anyone, if AJ said no to me, I would have said, Would you mind letting me know, why this isn’t a fit for you? Now, I might hear an answer that I might not like and it hurts me. But ask why someone says no, what’s the worst they are gonna say, “no I’m not going to tell you”?

AJ Vassar:  07:13

Every sale I’ve ever closed. I never asked them why they say yes.The only time we get actual feedback is when they say no, we rarely get feedback when they say yes. So I need that, just as much as a yes to me.

The Mastermind Effect:  07:45

Since we’re talking a little bit about sales, I think its really offering something to solve a problem. But when someone comes to you, and you don’t know how they came to you, ask them, “How’d you end up hearing about us?”. Keep digging till you can find out because that customer journey is important and you can start putting more resources towards that person that sent you somebody.

AJ Vassar:  08:28

I totally agree.

The Mastermind Effect:  08:34

Well, kind of staying in the people realm and learning from people, who are you currently learning from? And more importantly, how did you connect with them?

AJ Vassar:  08:57

We have a mastermind group down here that I connect with and got randomly introduce to him. We were both vendors for a company in the US. When the company brought us to work with each other in Medellin, Columbia, we connected. And then I went to his Facebook page, and I was like we grew up 15 minutes away from each other, but it has been endless circles and being in those different circles that made the connection. We challenge each other, I believe that accountability without consequences isn’t accountability

AJ Vassar:  10:16

So if people go to my page, they’ll see that Ron and I keep each other accountable.

So you pick your goal, and you pick your consequences. So he set a goal he didn’t hit, so we went to a restaurant and he paid me 500 million pesos as his consequence.

And my goal, I did it, and I think my consequences were worse than his because I have to clean his apartment on Facebook Live. So those were consequences I didn’t want. It’s a project I’ve been putting off for a year that I got done in 14 days,

The Mastermind Effect:  11:45

One year, 14 days. That is the power of being with a mastermind, of having a coach, an accountability partner, and I can’t stress that enough.

AJ Vassar:  12:10

So this time, I asked my Facebook community because we give ourselves consequences every month. And I’ll select one of the consequences that I know I really don’t want to do. And you have to be honest with yourself? I feel like it has to be something that embarrasses you, and that’s going to hurt a little bit.

The Mastermind Effect:  12:52

Yeah, paint pain into pleasure to make sure you don’t get there. But something that you would put off for a year you were able to accomplish in 14 days, because of accountability, because of the right consequences that would have pursued from there.

Moving on, I feel people get stuck and sometimes don’t know how to accomplish what’s in their head. How have masterminds helped you when you’re looking to reset and get unstuck.

AJ Vassar:  13:30

So many times we’re stuck because we lose sight of our purpose. You know, there’s a quote that I love that say, “it’s hard to see the picture when you’re the frame”. What masterminds do is they get to look at my picture from unbiased eyes, the good and the bad.

I can make all the excuses I want, but they’re like, we see the whole picture, right? The one thing that I always tell people is tell me how your face looks without using a mirror? We can’t do it because we look out but we can do it for each other. And masterminds are that mirror.

The Mastermind Effect:  14:11

Wow, masterminds are the mirror, the person in the mirror is the mastermind. The reality is it helps us solve problems. It helps us see around corners that we can’t see, it keeps you from stepping into that next landmine. Work someone like AJ, he’s been there, done that and if not, surround yourself with the people that have. Masterminds, have been around for a hot minute. Probably the first one was the apostles. And then Benjamin Franklin creates the Judo club or the leather apron club. And then Napoleon Hill, writes a book and kind of brings it full circle on what a mastermind is.

[15:00 – 29:36] Self-Education and AJ’s reality

As there continues to be a huge boom in self-education. Where do you see the parallels going between self-education versus standardized education?

AJ Vassar:  15:26

I think self-education is going to take over because standardized education, it’s too much fluff for the amount of money that you spend.

So it’s, like, I remember my junior college and I had to take a jazz appreciation, jazz is cool but I have to spend money to do that when I can go to a conference. I remember I took my cousin to a self-education conference. And he told me, I learned more in these three days than I learned in four years ago.


The Mastermind Effect:  16:20

If you want to be a doctor, a nurse, an engineer, please go get that piece of paper. I don’t mean to diminish the value of that. But if you’re looking to be a salesperson, a marketing person, so many different industries. You can learn it from somebody else that’s doing it.

AJ Vassar:  16:48

Even if you think about doctors, you get the knowledge but it’s when they go into their doctorate program, the residency, it’s what starts to make you a doctor. The residency for those who want to go into sales? It’s called real life, which is why self-education is going to supersede eventually.

Because you have owners like Elon Musk, people like him, that’s why college isn’t necessary. It used to be a bridge with your parents for you to have structure before you become an adult. Now, the world moves so fast. So get out there and start making it happen.

The Mastermind Effect:  17:54

That’s one of the reasons why we’re building the success Finder. Because right now you have standard education, you have trade school, and you’re going to have the success finder right here. And I think what you’ll see is standardized education will move more towards trade school, per se, because I think that’s unbelievably helpful. We’ve call it different things throughout the years internships, residencies, trade school and apprentice.

The success finder helps fill that gap to get you to where you want to go faster. You want to build that bridge, you want to cut out the noise bring in the signal. So you’re making sure you’re getting that experience to move forward.

AJ Vassar:  18:29

That’s because times are changing, especially when you realize that your degree typically doesn’t matter five to seven years after you leave college,

The Mastermind Effect:  18:44

I mean I’ve got a degree in finance. people that I’ve created businesses with they’ve never said, so where do you go to school?

AJ Vassar:  18:56

Nobody cares. The question is, can you get me results? And even your Ivy League schools, like I went to Harvard for five to seven years after that, then people are like, Okay, cool. So what’s your results?

AJ Vassar:  19:19

Because after you get out of Harvard, yeah they like the fact that you went to Harvard, but what’s your network?

The Mastermind Effect:  19:31

The network that you can get if you go to Harvard, it might be a network of those over here. But you can start growing that network in your teens. I guarantee it with how parents raise their children. And you know how we’re raising our six year old, he’s going to have a network that’s going to be so vast, that he’ll sit there and just be like, it’s second nature.

Typically when people invest in their future, they have a better than vague idea of what they’re going to get. They know what the outcome is if they, if they put in the work themselves. Most of the time, it’s because they didn’t put in the work. Now, it could also be because they found the wrong coaching mastermind, So what should people expect when they start working with AJ and enter your reality?

AJ Vassar:  20:27

Number one, expect to be pushed, don’t tell me your goal without thinking you’re gonna get to it. If you work with me, you’re either gonna die or you’re gonna reach your goal. Because any goal can be reached, if you willing to do the work.

And my world, there are two options, there are reasons and results, you can keep your reasons because the only thing to focus on is your results. So that’s how I look at life. And the one thing that I would say to people is always get a coach that wants you to be better than them. That’s why I teach, there is a satisfaction of saying the people that I work with do better than me.

The Mastermind Effect:  21:34

Yeah, the wall of testimonials are people that have exceeded what you’re doing. And you don’t have to promote that, you don’t have to sit there and share that.

They’ll preach it for you. They will create the people that want to come to you. And you’re like, no, they had it in them, I just helped extract it a little bit, I was just happy to be part of the ride.

AJ Vassar:  21:55

I always tell people, the Latin word for education is educere, which means to draw out. So the reason why I never feel stressed when I work with people is because I don’t have to put greatness in you, I just have to draw it out, because you’re already great.

The Mastermind Effect:  22:16

Everyone has that ability, it’s finding it, it’s having faith in it, it’s having confidence in it. And there will be the crabs in your life, and they don’t want to see you come up.

When you work with someone like AJ, he’s going to help you get rid of those crabs in your life and help build that up, he’s going to pull the greatness that already exists that you might not fully see.

The Mastermind Effect:  22:47

I feel that people still have a way of surprising us from time to time, their grit, their grind, their willingness to learn, and allow you to take that greatness out of them. Give us a success story of someone that you worked with, where you started and where they ended up. The outcome that even to them was just like Oh my gosh.

AJ Vassar:  23:16

I have a client We’ll call her Miss ale, when she started working with me, she said, What’s your 101 because I really want to move my business up to the level that I think I have potential for. And I was, that’s perfect, because my thing is your commitment needs to match your expectation. They have high expectations, but they don’t have a high commitment.

The first day we worked together, she was talking about raising her pricing structure. She wanted to charge more, so I showed here a very nice ball call. And then she calls a $15,000 client, very next call.

We created the 15,000 package, just as soon as “I cannot do this”.

My thing that I always tell people, “who said you can’t”. When it comes to money, as long as you give more in value than you receive in payment, they win.

It wasn’t like we had created it out of thin air, I just helped her see that she could


The Mastermind Effect:  25:39

Because of the value that she brought

AJ Vassar:  25:41

Yes. Two weeks later, we had an emergency meeting. She was working with this guy who has this company and was talking about bringing her in. But she wasn’t comfortable charging them that number, so I told her, you need more time, because you need me to help you with this, I’m gonna charge you $30,000 from $15,000 I was charging her. So I told her that she is gonna have to make more commitment and she said yes.

Now, this is what people don’t understand about saying yes to yourself and investing in yourself. The reason she was able to do that now is because, if she can invest that in herself, she can ask them for that same thing. A lot of times, we have a problem charging higher prices, because its incongruent of what we paid before.

The Mastermind Effect:  27:14

Again, I want the people to understand this one more time.

AJ Vassar:  27:25

A lot of times we have a hard time charging higher prices, because it’s incongruent with what we’ve invested in ourselves.

The Mastermind Effect:  27:33

Now, if you’re not willing to invest in yourself, how is someone else going to do that? The biggest ROI is yourself because you can control yourself, you can’t control the market, and you can’t control the housing market.

AJ Vassar:  27:54

Right, people can feel it when you haven’t invested in yourself, but you’re asking them to invest in themselves.

I believe people can feel it when you’re being incongruent, when you’ve never made a significant investment in yourself. How can you in good faith ask somebody to do to the same? You don’t even know what they’re going through. You have no idea, the mental, the mental flashes and the mental grenades that are going off in their head wondering, Is this possible? Can I work through it? It’s easy for me to work people through that process because I’ve been there. I know exactly what they’re thinking when they hear that big number because I’ve been there.

The Mastermind Effect:  28:40

Yes and here’s what I want to say with what AJ is saying, he is a leader, he’s not there to rescue you. He’s not your Savior. And he just extrapolates that from you. So simple.

AJ Vassar:  29:13

Once were congruent it’s amazing what we can do. Congruency and belief moves mountains


The Mastermind Effect:  29:20

There you go. Yeah, I that’s why I say that the mastermind effect is the pebble in the pond. Success finders are the mountain in the ocean. Each one has a ripple effect and what’s important and what it’s going to do. And that’s why you work with AJ, you move that mountain, you make that ripple effect in the ocean.

And we talked about this a little bit in the beginning. But on our solo shows, we talked about success and the pillars of success and what it takes to be successful and a few of them you know throughout there that we’ve talked about our our mentorship, experimentation, partnerships, willingness to fail, and on the flip side, willingness to define success, because once we have defined success, we in essence have  defined failure. And that’s why so many people out there just won’t sit there and define what success means to them.

[29:37 – 35:17] Creating success

The Mastermind Effect:

What is the key attribute when it comes to being successful?

AJ Vassar:  30:12

A key attribute is to actually know what success means to you. You can’t use anyone else’s definition, because if you don’t know what it is, stop chasing. Right now, we have a lot of people chasing this imaginary thing.

And to me, success is a journey. It’s not a thing, not a place I’ll get to, success is something that I do every day. So when I’m at a ten at everything got do 24 hours a day, seven days a week, that’s success for me. So when I’m here, I am totally here. So success is something that I’m accomplishing all the time.

I practice success, just like people practice yoga, and because I practice it, it doesn’t mean I get it right all the time. But I improve daily on it, right? So since I can practice it, it’s not something that I have to wait to get later on. It’s something that I practice every single day,

The Mastermind Effect:  31:38

Breathe it, live it, feel it, see it, touch it, feel it, then you exude and then it happens. So I feel that there’s always new ideas brewing in times of prosperity. But I think true grit and grind and ingenuity come when we feel the squeeze, what are you working on right now that’s going to take place over the next 12 months that excites you.




AJ Vassar:  32:09

My Accountability Academy, because im saying accountability is the key. And that’s whats missing in a lot of people’s lives, we as humans, we naturally will do more for somebody else than we’ll do for ourselves. One of the things I say is, people respect what they know somebody else is going to inspect because then it’s important.

The Mastermind Effect:  32:56

Last one, what is a tip, a tactic, an actual item, that if anyone listening here today implemented in their personal or business life over the next 30 days, would see real impact?

AJ Vassar:  33:17

Fail faster, like literally attack failure but fail successfully.

I’ll give you an example. When I do something that’s in my control, like talking to people, I don’t know how many of them will say yes, but I can control how many of them I talk to. Say, I set that I’ll stop after 2 people says yes, so what if the first 2 said yes, then I’ll stop. But if I set to talk to 10 people regardless then I’m still down eight people.

Go after failing, I’ll change your life. But you have to fail successfully which means, I’m going to learn and improve from it.

The Mastermind Effect:  34:30

Surrounding yourself with the right people that are going to hold you accountable and want to see you make an impact. Thank you so much for everything you brought today.

AJ Vassar:  34:51

You’re very welcome. It was my pleasure.

Tweetable Quotes:

“I learn through doing, I learn through failing. That’s probably one of my biggest secrets is that I set failure goals because I realized I learned the most when I fail.” – AJ Vassar 

“In order to win, you’re going to have to learn the game, and you can only learn the game by failing.” – AJ Vassar

“Accountability without consequences isn’t accountability.” – AJ Vassar

“Any goal can be reached if you’re willing to do the work.” – AJ Vassar

Resources Mentioned:

Connect with AJ on Linkedin, Instagram, and Facebook

Be one of the early adopters of The Success Finder! Download it from the App Store or Google Play Store.

You can connect with me, Brandon Straza, on LinkedIn, Instagram, or send me an email at brandon@thesuccessfinder.com. I’d love to get in touch and talk more about personal development and how you can live past beyond your limits.

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