Ownership Starts From Within

I wanted to share a thought with you about ownership. 2013-06-06 10.04.45

Ownership starts from within. You start by realizing one day that you can own your choices. It grows. You accept that you can choose your goals. Then, you realize you can create a kingdom or a world or whatever you want to call it (your domain). And from there, your ownership becomes an obsession.

Ownership Starts from Within

People always seem to ask about a specific moment where everything changed. I don’t believe in them. I believe there are dozens of moments, hundreds. We think there’s only one shot, like that Eminem song. But there’s not. There are hundreds of shots. Roads. You see a roadblock, but there’s another way. That’s what happens. Or you surrender. That’s a choice.

You Own Your Choices

Let’s say you want to build your business. For 100 days, you make no effort to pick up customers or clients (or however you grow). What happens? Nothing. Then, you decide it’s time to do the work. You make the calls. You get some “no,” maybe a big bag of it. You can find another way, make some better adjustments, and you learn how to accept (but not be okay with) setbacks, mistakes, outcomes you didn’t want. And you find a way to own even more. Or you surrender.

You Choose Your Goals

Maybe you start by thinking you want to rise up in the company where you work. Or you see a different goal. Maybe you decide that you’re not big boned, but fat, real old fashioned FAT and you set the goal to not be fat. Whatever it is, you own your goals, you choose your goals. It’s a very big day indeed. Especially if you’re smart enough to choose more than one goal, to choose goals for the rest of your life. Or you surrender. Lots of people do.

You Create a Kingdom

This starts wherever it starts (for me, it was my cubicle). You decide you own something. You then decide you’re going to build on it. Gene Simmons from Kiss started with a comic book collection in his room. Trump started with rental units in Brooklyn. Kings and owners start by creating a kingdom and building it. Or you surrender and stay happy with what you have.

Ownership Becomes the Obsession

We have to really careful here. The owners I want us to most admire are benevolent. They share. They love. They want others to be part of the kingdom. They build up the owners around them. And yet, at the heart of it all, ownership and building and developing and growing and learning is the obsession.

The best owners I know are the ones who are obsessed with growing others. James Altucher is one of those amazing owners, raising up others. Jeff Pulver is an obsessed owner. Tim Sanders is an obsessed owner. Peter Corsell and Richard Oh are owners. Seth Godin is an owner. I am blessed to know and associate with and learn from many obsessed owners, eager to help raise up others while building their kingdoms.

And it’s my obsession as well.

And you? Who are you in this story? You’re an Owner, naturally. Or you’re not. You tell me. Will you?

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  • http://twitter.com/SenolTapirdamaz Senol Tapirdamaz

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks again for a great post.
    What you wrote seems like the most obvious thing there is. What I don’t understand or seem to be able to handle is: Why does this raise some sort of resistance with me? I’m reading it and nodding yes, and after 5 minutes I’m thinking things like I’m not Chris or But he has a better financial situation then me or Where do I find the time..

    How do we / I overcome this resistance?

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      The resistance is natural. When you go to the gym, your muscles say “ow, stop doing that.” It’s part of the process. You don’t listen. Every voice that isn’t an inner voice of forward-moving potential is a lie. You can have doubts, but you just acknowledge them and say, “and now I’ll do the work.” Yes, and. That’s the mindset. “Yes, (whatever bad thing), and I’m still going to make this happen now.”

      And I started from a really shitty financial situation. Branson started out owing the government tons and almost having to get in jail (plus he’s dyslexic). Trump has gone bankrupt or nearly so several times.

      As for time, you have the same 24 hours I do. It’s how you use it.

      I can answer every bullshit doubt you throw up, but they’re just that. Bullshit. You can do it.

  • Matthias Lehmann

    Just starting the business now for 2 months. There’s a lot of up & downs, especially when you’re trying to build a business in crisis beaten Southern Europe. But hey: If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.

    However I do agree with the points you mentioned. In fact, a good article, worth sharing. Keep up the good work.


    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      The most successful businesses in the world started in a down economy. Most of the failures happened when the water mark was up.

      • Matthias Lehmann

        Good words. I guess it forces you to be more creative, more willing and more consistent. Unless you surrender as in your post. I’ll try my best that won’t happen. Thanks man.

        • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

          Do or do not. There is no try. – Yoda.

          • Matthias Lehmann

            Strong the force is with me.

  • Jen Maidenberg

    I’m SO an owner. Thanks for reminding me.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Yes you are!

  • http://quietdiscipline.com/ cotey

    Doing my best to own my own story. My debt, job, and fear try to steal my power and keep me shackled in the corner. I’ll show them yet.
    I will own!

    Empowering stuff Chris. Exactly what I needed this morning.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Jobs don’t do a ton to help you get out of debt. Money does. Work does. Bravery does. If I still had a “job,” I’d be horrendously in debt.

  • Michael Negele


    that was just what I needed to hear. haha. I’m currently building my business and well, it’s the most amazing thing to me. My wife is a natural business woman, and I am not. I had to study hard to get where I am now. It took me three years. I’m 29 years old and I have a feeling of finally controlling my life, even though I am at the very beginning. My wife is now having a tough time with us spending as little as possible.

    Any ideas on how to keep you wife/loved ones motivated? :)

    Keep up the great work!



    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Hi Michael- not sure I get the question. You’re trying to motivate her to spend less? Or… Just not sure how the last few sentences connect. Can you rephrase? : )

  • Gary Hyman

    Perfect timing Chris, and a great reminder. I wasn’t sure what to call it, but now I guess it’s got a name – I’m an owner – an owner that is being inspired by other great owners.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      There you go, Gary. And with that, you’re an owner. Go forth and make even more happen. : )

  • cdispoto

    My conflict is probably common, but how do I find the time and energy to build a business or new career path when I already have a full-time job I need to – you know – survive.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      I did it. So did everyone who you admire from afar. I worked a full time day job plus added another 20-40 hours a week on my own projects until I owned the universe. With kids. The whole thing. So I can’t really help you find an excuse as to why not. As for surviving, that’s all you can do with a full time day job. They don’t pay you royalty money. They pay you peasant money. Go be a king. Even if you have to take scraps until you earn it.

      • cdispoto

        Thanks for the inspiration Chris.

        Do you recommend any resources to help devise a plan for building an SEO business? I’m willing work hard, start small and build, but won’t feel comfortable making the leap unless I know the foundation is strong and well-organized.

        Or am I overthinking it?

        • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

          I think building an SEO business is a tricky thing right now. Note that SEOMoz just renamed to Moz. Think that’s just a whim?

          • cdispoto

            Me real desire is to help smaller businesses gain a better presence online, via SEO and social media. Think it’s a long shot for that kind of business?

  • laineyd7

    Chris, this is perfect. Ownership is scary, until it’s not…..maybe all that time before “the BIG moment was just practice”. Thanks for your insight. Always. BTW, you look super-buff in this photo. ;-)

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      And remember, we can have hundreds of big moments. And thank you. Very kind. I’m a Before picture eagerly awaiting my after picture.

  • http://twitter.com/robertkennedy3 Robert Kennedy III

    Thanks for putting a title to this. I am an owner but reluctantly accepted that calling at first. But, it is who I am. It is my obsession. Thinking of a blog post now :-).

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Great! Double down on it. : )

  • vin

    how r u mr.chris brogan.touching&very informative blog post.

    I am agree with you. I am obsessed & owner.roadblock,failure etc. is life within.all is count “what you want ” goal.

    I love to help and share so anyone get help.

    in short “”

    changes, the world goes on changing, but the experience of silence, the joy of it, remains the same. That is the only thing you can rely upon, the only thing that never dies. It is the only thing that you can call your very being.

    The less the head, the more the wound will heal; with no head there is no wound. Live a headless life. Move as a total being, and accept things.

    great blog, let keep coming.

  • Jess Kalbarczyk

    It’s funny you wrote this. I’ve recently left my cubicle life to take ownership of my life. Both personal and professional. This was great roadmap for that. But like you said, ownership starts from within and only you can decide on what to do with that ownership. From there becomes the obsession. I just loved this post. I needed it. Thanks Chris!

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      You can do it, Jess. Keep moving forward. : )

  • http://www.owenmarcus.com Owen Marcus

    Well said Chris. So often we are obsessed with owning thing when we really want is the ownership you described. We crave things just as the obese person craves junk food hungry for real nourishment.

    It’s scary going for real ownership because the first thing you own is the parts of yourselves your haven’t owned. Those voids in myself are what I spent years avoiding. Acceptance and ownership takes courage that doesn’t produce immediate results as you mentioned.

    Being a King of our kingdom can be lonely.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Precisely, Owen. That really sums up the mental stuff.

  • http://www.taniadakka.com Tania Dakka

    Working on ownership is one of the hardest things we can do. It is for me, at least. I’m great at excuses, especially when life doesn’t involve only my plans.

    But, as always, you’re inspiring me to find ways around those road blocks:) Thank you for always sharing and always pushing us up:)

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      I suppose the question is: are you happy with the results that the excuses get you?

      • http://www.taniadakka.com Tania Dakka

        I wish there were more of me. That’s all. LOL Being a mama and a biz owner require two different people living in one body and it’s tiring.

        In long, no. Not happy. Just tired. :) And working slowly to fix it. SLOOOOWWWWWLLLY. But I will get there.

        • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

          Whenever you wish there were more of you, it means you’re not spending the time you have well. It means you’re not saying no, that you’re spending too much effort for too little value. That’s a cue.

          • http://www.taniadakka.com Tania Dakka

            Yes!! You’re right! It means being disciplined and following through with plans. Because success doesn’t just happen. Success it’s intentional.

            Okay, back to executing on made plans. NOW. :) Thank you. BB ;)

  • Kris Pennella

    Part of what you’re describing here in there the last paragraphs are also about leadership. Owning your business and the results is one piece, being able to guide and grow others through the vision of your business is another. I know great owners who are crappy leaders. They’re better off as consultants (or one-person shows) as they’re too high functioning to take the time to empower others.

    If you’re on the line for your (and anyone else’s) paycheck, overhead, etc. You have to own. “If we build it, they will come” is not a business plan (though it was a great ’80s movie). Should you recognize you built it wrong – modify, change, adapt and own the lessons learned as one to move forward from.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Completely so, but I shy away from the word “leadership” becomes sometimes, an owner has to be a follower or a participant. I was talking with George Dom who used to lead the Blue Angels for the Navy (plus many other squadrons) and he said they had a “no rank” mindset when going through briefings, meaning that the pilots and the brass were on the same level while training and doing mission work. I subscribe to that.

      • Kris Pennella

        I don’t disagree that leveling the playing field promotes team-work, however – when mentioning building your “kingdoms” above, historically, there’s only been one king (and a lot of believers and supporting staff) :)

        • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

          No question at all. I’m using the word loosely, because should we really dig into what kings do, it always has blood somewhere below the art and legacy making.

  • http://raulcolon.net/ Raul Colon

    Throughout the years you have helped me understand ownership at different levels.

    I also understand a lot better how my actions create specific results. Thanks for always being there in person when I have needed guidance.

    Thanks for helping me understand that ownership is a choice we all make… Un abrazo hermano.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      My pleasure, my friend. : )

  • Bobbi Klein

    Ownership is amazing when you fully let it happen. Until that point, it’s like you said practice and you only get what you put in. For me full ownership happened last month when I left teaching and decided to put all my efforts into my business. Business has grown exponentially just from the simple step of ownership. It is quite amazing. Had I continued on my same path, it would have gotten me nowhere. Thanks for the motivation and always inspiring!

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      So excited, Bobbi. I’ve been seeing your little tidbits of the process, and I’m thrilled that you’re getting there further and further. : )

  • http://thenamelessthing.com/ D’artagnan Bingemunkle

    I hear leasing is very popular, and renting, too, probably. We live in a throwaway world, where soccer and baseball players move from team to team, the allegiance-based system of olde is dead and buried.

    Anyone claiming to “own” something nowadays is merely acting as a lessor, or tenant, in my humble opinion. You see the odd product owner who walks the walk, but in a world where the mighty dollar, prestige, status and an obsession with emulating the cool cruel stars of TV shows like “Mad Men”, I find genuine “ownership” hard to come by. It’s been reduced to a quaint form of trinketry, cobwebbing its musty way into the cold scaly hearts of er, nobody in particular.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      I might be using the word differently. Owning choices and one’s choice of work is a lot different that owning property. But then, maybe that’s your point and your choice of analogy.

  • L. Harvey

    This was timely! Lots going on in my personal and professional life, but the victim mindset doesn’t serve anyone. It’s time to own the decisions I’ve made both good and bad, move on, learn from them and own a new direction. It’s time to show my kids a new way of living. It’s time to own the work and the time involved in getting this start-up business on its feet. It’s time… it’s just time. Thanks for your insightful perspective!

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      And are you the owner?

      • L. Harvey


  • Gina Rafkind

    Love it! Simple, fundamental, to the point……and it all starts from within……for sure!

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Thanks! : )

  • http://www.AchieveTheGreenBeretWay.com/welcome Michael Martel

    Absolutely great post. It is really about responsibility/ownership. Taking responsibility for ourselves, where we are in life and what direction it’s going in. Once you are responsible for yourself, you have nothing in your way to create what you want…

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Yessir. That’s what makes it work. Once we tackle that, everything flows better.

  • Justin Dye

    Hi Chris, this is a really great post. I love it (and very timely). There’s a lot of talk right now about ownership, in a way that there hasn’t been in a long time.

    Every day we exchange value for value. Your time for your employer’s money. Your money for the restaurant’s food.

    What I’ve recently realized is that the intangible exchanges are no different. My desire to stay in shape is traded for that ice cream sandwich. My goal to write the next great american novel is traded for my month-long Netflix binge.

    Value for value.

    Keep it coming!

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Exactly. No question at all. When you feel that through your bones, you’ll start choosing differently.

    • http://roshandejong.com/ Roshan de Jong

      That’s a great insight, Justin. Everything we do is a tradeoff, whether we realise it or not. But realising it sure helps making better deals.
      Like not using my best hours (morning) to reply to dozens of e-mails & messages, but by reading the things that will set me up good for the day instead.
      Like Chris’ article. And your comment.

      And reaching out to share some appreciation. I don’t express enough appreciation. So: thanks Justin. And Chris.

  • MitchJackson

    Thanks for the reminder. I tell my kids this all the time but sometimes “dad” needs to here it too :-)

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      No question, sir. As successful as you are, you still have the chance to forget to own it all.

  • http://www.postplanner.com/ Scott Ayres

    Good post as always bro… I fall into the category of fear quite often. Fear of failure being the biggest. It’s safer to work for someone else as it’s their money and not yours. But you’re pretty limited. But you have “security”, even if that security is a much lower amount of pay.. Now to go be an owner.. and #kings !

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      The funniest thing about fear of failure is that most people who are afraid of failing fail by not doing. And there’s never security. I had to let 5 or so people go once because I ran out of money. None of them did a damned thing wrong. No security unless you own the cash flow. And even then…

  • Matthew Cheyne

    This post really struck a chord with me. This week for the first time I realized that I am the author of my own circumstances. More importantly I realized that not only was I old fashioned fat but my lack of healthy choices was costing me dearly health wise. I was eating whatever I wanted and wondering why my weight was always going up and my mobility going down. For me expanding my kingdom will start first between my two ears before I see any external results. Thank you for such a pertinent reminder that I need to do something.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      When I realized that, Matthew, my life opened up in a million degrees.

  • Nikki Means

    Love this post as it is a reminder of why I work harder now for myself than I ever did when I worked in corporate. Its why, I work 12 hour days to build the business and love it. It’s why I love to connect with others just starting their businesses to give both advice and encouragement. It’s why, failure, defeat, and no are challenges not obstacles.

    I believe there’s an owner within each of us. For me, there were may steps of unrecognized preparation along the way until the life changing event that made me take that first step. Sometimes we need a swift kick in the butt to finally do what we want to, but have been too scared to do. To fully recognize the owner within in.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Exactly, Nikki, and you’re getting in there now. Thrilled for you. : )

  • geofflivingston

    As soon as we accept responsibility for our lives and actions, good and bad, we begin the course to wherever our hearts decide to lead us. Very true and smart post, Chris!

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Accept but don’t dwell. Always our risk is that we’ll spend too much time trying to uncook the egg. And thanks. : )

  • Daniel Decker

    I love this post. Personal responsibility + choice + being a servant instead of just expecting to be served = a great recipe for success ( in my opinion ).

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Yessir. That’s the measure.

  • http://jorgesilvestrini.com/ Jorge Silvestrini

    Chris, I’ve learned that I need to own my mistakes as well as the good choices I make. Thanks for the post!

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      No question about it. Own them, but don’t dwell on them. : )

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  • http://www.knealemann.com/ Kneale Mann

    Before we can own something with others, we must own our own path, behavior, goals, and results. And it is never ever a clear straight road. Asking for help or clarification is always wise if we are asking the right people and the right questions. Hoping others will own it for us is dangerous sport. And as Tom Peters so famously said; leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders. Great reminders, Chris.

  • henri hobblenobber


  • henri hobblenobber

    I don’t agree Chris. I spent 10 years as busboy waiter bartender and usually we made the restaurant a success despite a crappy owner. This analogy kind of offends me.

  • KirstenNelson

    Totally agree that it’s an inside job. Ownership starts within. And owning your decisions, the consequences and the rewards is the very first step to creating something with intention, focus and strength.

  • http://benfanning.com/ Ben Fanning

    Boom! I love this article. As soon as I saw the headline I started thinking about the difference in the mindset of the employee versus the business owner. The truth is as long you keep showing up as an employee, you’re going to get treated like one. Start showing up as the business owner and see how things change. Rock on!

  • http://roshandejong.com/ Roshan de Jong

    Dear Chris,
    I used to spend a lot of time thinking about how to attract others to the kingdom. And – to dilute it to the point of almost being disrespectful to the concept – I think it’s about a giving + creating a sense of belonging.

    But.. how do you attract those that inspire you? How do you associate with the James Altuchers and the Seth Godins and the Chris Brogans? How did YOU?

    I have this feeling of an answer, but it’s still oh so very obscure. Like a dream you can’t quite remember, and trying to only makes it harder.

    How do you choose yourself to associate? How do you make human connections like this?
    Owning my problem here is scary step too. But.. can you help me find my dream?

    • Wanda Davidson

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