magnottiOn long flights, I like to catch up on all the movies I’ve missed. En route to Manila last summer, I watched Act of Valor, a movie about our Navy SEALS preventing a terrorist attack. It introduced me to the island of Mindanao, describing it as quite a dangerous place. So when we’d united with our Tropical MBA group after hunkering down through the monsoons, my ears perked up at meeting an American living and building a business in Davao, the capital city of Mindanao. On our half-day journey from Batangas to Puerta Galera, I learned the rest of the story.

In 2008, Joe Magnotti and his business partner outsourced themselves to the Philippines, shifting from employees to contract vendors of their former company – an SEO consulting business. Brainstorming ways to retain their best employees in a cyclical industry, the pair developed what’s now cited as the best practice for building niche sites online. From $33 in 2010, they earned over $200,000 in 2012 from their niche empire, and as you’ll see, that’s quite a freedom fund in the Philippines.

But for Joe, business success wasn’t total freedom. He was still overweight and unhealthy. As he taught me advanced WordPress development and gave me the courage to “break” things, I also learned how he’d used habits to transform his health.

Over the year, I’ve realized that Joe reminds me of a modern-day Ben Franklin. I wanted to profile Joe to share a real-life example of someone that’s enjoying the incredible benefits of implementing a personal habit recipe.

Joe, let’s start with the end in mind. What does success mean to you?

I define success as freedom. It’s my ultimate goal. Freedom for me means not only doing what I want, but having the means to do what I want. Whether that’s being able to travel, live a healthy lifestyle or simply play pick up basketball, I think personal freedom takes dedication on a daily level. If I stick to it, I will hit my goals and therefore be successful and more free.

Was there a time when you had a different definition?

I would say I knew I wanted to be free very early on. In my 20’s I worked in the corporate world and saw a lot of miserable older people. I didn’t want to be like that. Also, I never really cared much about things so the idea of a big car and house never appealed to me.

Can you describe a typical day in your life?

My typical day is very structured. I wake up at 7am, have a healthy breakfast (eggs or granola, protein shake and lots of vitamins with one cup of coffee), and a good shower. By 8am I’m ready to work and can usually get most things done before lunch (with some prep the night before).

After lunch (my largest meal of the day, usually chicken or fish with vegetables and fruit), I have about 2 hours or so to handle any emergencies before heading to the gym. I find this time very valuable as it’s short in duration so I only tackle what I know I can get done in a brief time period (like this email). The mid afternoon exercise rejuvenates me for a healthy dinner (usually just a protein shake or a light salad with a cup of coffee) followed by 2-3 hours of work, usually phone calls with the US or prep for the next day.

If I get hungry I try to snack only on nuts or a low fat protein bar. I also drink copious amounts of water throughout the day with fresh lemon and a hint of apple vinegar that my maid makes for me fresh.

Do you have any particular habits or systems that you feel are essential to your success/health?

Besides having a well structured day of waking up early and a mid afternoon workout, my biggest tip is “just do it.” Seriously — for the gym it was all about getting there, one hour a day everyday, even if I did not workout. After awhile this became a habit and I naturally found the time available to get exercise. Being consistent is really the hardest part. This starts by doing it everyday. You don’t have to be superman at the gym, just get there everyday.

Sundays are my off day where I sit by the pool and get a massage. When I travel this schedule falls apart and I just relax.

Are there any habits you’re working to develop next?

Reading. I need to read more and learn to use free to consume a book a month. I use Audible to consume maybe 2 books a month at the gym and in taxis or airplanes, but I would really like to actually read again. I am working on some speed reading techniques that should help.

I working hard on some personal investment strategies that require I rein in spending a bit. That’s tough when you have become used to a certain style of living, but valuable for the future.

Thanks so much for sharing with us, Joe. It’s refreshing to see someone farther along in the habit journey making the most of their freedom.


To connect with Joe, listen in on his top-rated podcast, say hello on Twitter, or start with Empire Building 101.