Dan Waldschmidt

by Dan Waldschmidt

December 17, 2018


It took me over four years to write the book you now read called, EDGY Conversations.

In that time, my beliefs about successful people wildly changed — better yet, evolved. I started my research by knowing that successful people had a different set of rules than everyone else, but I wasn’t exactly sure what those rules really were.

Over time I began to see the pattern that they left behind. I call it the genome of success.

It’s the kernel of identity and attitude and action from which an abundant life springs forth — extreme behavior, living a disciplined life, giving so much value it no longer makes sense, and being emotionally intelligent.

Perhaps the idea that confused me the most was the one around extreme behavior.

More specifically, work. The idea of hard work — really effort — and the amount of effort that it takes to achieve big dreams.

At first I thought that success was all about hard work. Then I realized that the quality of work was just important as the amount of work. And then with some more research I came to realize that focused work was the greatest weapon of them all.

Perhaps there’s a level of work beyond focused work that I am yet to uncover. For now, we’ll call it the Holy Grail of Effort.


It is a level of effort and intensity that demands everything you have for short bursts of time. And it takes time to master.

  • For most people, you’re lucky to be able to apply truly focused work towards your goals for more than 20 to 30 minutes at a time.
  • After perfecting this craft you might be able to spend as much as 90 minutes at a time working at it.
  • And perhaps with even more focus you might be able to spend three 90-minute chunks of time in a day focused on achieving progress.

One thing is very clear — effort is the great equalizer.

The amount of effort and the quality of that effort and the focus of the quality of the intensity of that effort matters.

And not in a small way. It is essentially all that matters.

Intellect is a great springboard. So too are money, connections, and influence. But none of that matters if you’re not willing to put in effort.

Effort doesn’t mean that you need to do some Herculean feat of greatness. It just means that you do things that might be uncomfortable and initially a little bit awkward.


Looking back at my life, it is interesting to see that everything I have accomplished in my career has been the result of effort. Nothing more. Nothing less. Good, old-fashioned hard work.

But I’ve noticed that my hard work has become smarter hard work. And even, at times, focused hard work. And as my work has become better, the results of that effort have become exponentially better.

I’ve met my best friends putting in effort. My wife was the result of hard work. My business partner was the result of hard work. My favorite clients were the result of hard work.

But here is the crazy part about all of that. I had to put in the effort long before I realized the results. I’ve had a relationship with my wife for almost 20 years. I’ve had to work hard to learn, grow, and evolve fast enough to make that relationship work. Frankly, we both have.

And for anyone in a relationship that is past the honeymoon, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

It is work. Hard work, that demands focus, some awkwardness, and a bit of discomfort when you least feel like being uncomfortable.

The same is true with my business partner, who I’ve known for over a dozen years. Long before we were partners, we were supporting each other with ideas, inspiration, and tough love.

I mentioned a few favorite clients. Can I share a little secret with you? I’ve helped a lot of people who have never said “Thank you” or shown the least bit of appreciation for my time and effort. You probably have too.

But that doesn’t bother me the least bit, usually. Because here is what I know. Good things come to those who plant good seeds intentionally.

That effort of investing into others is wildly profitable.

Imagine someone willing to pay you whatever you ask simply because they’ve seen what you can do for them five, six, or seven years earlier when you’ve totally forgotten all about it.

That’s why I make the case that effort is the great equalizer.

Maybe you’re in the phase where you need to start working hard. Okay, do that. That’s what you need to do to level up.

But maybe you’re already working hard. Maybe you have already been working hard for many years — but you’ve reached the spot where you’re no longer making progress. You feel stuck.

Your finances have plateaued. Your relationships seem stale. You’re stuck in a job that doesn’t seem to have an outcome that matches your destiny.

You feel like nothing you’re doing is what will lead you to where you want to be.

For you, the next level is working smart. Figuring out how to leverage smart strategies to reach that next level of your life.

It’s about absorbing the smart ideas and world class intuition of other amazing people — books, courses, online training, seminars, boot camps, and your own coach, therapist, and mentors.

For you, hard work now needs to be “hard but smart” effort. But still, beyond that, there is another level. That level is where you apply radical focus and seemingly inhumane intensity to smart, hard work.

  • You discipline yourself to say “NO” to distractions.
  • You create a process for making progress.
  • You use morning routines to maximize your potential.

You are intentional about creating habits that subconsciously bring out your best performance each day. That’s where you begin to create the magic.


The magic of this entire discussion is that it doesn’t matter where you fall on the work spectrum, there is always room for improvement. There’s always an opportunity for you to level up. To improve. To capitalize on smart strategies to get you closer to where you want to be.

Make no mistake, there is no achievement without effort.

There is no forward progress without activity. Where is no championship without work.

You get to decide how important that achievement or progress is to you. You get to decide if you’re willing to sacrifice for what you want or if you’re willing to let what you want become that sacrifice.

Effort is the great equalizer. No matter where you are in life right now, effort is your cure. Your remedy and the antidote any challenge you’re facing.

Work hard. Live big. Change the world. Yours, first. Get to work.

About the author

Dan Waldschmidt

Dan Waldschmidt doesn’t just talk about leveling up. He’s obsessed with it. He's set records as an ultra-runner and been the personal strategist for the leading business leaders of our time. He wrote a book, called EDGY Conversations that accidentally became a worldwide bestseller and continues to share his insights from the stage as a keynote speaker and on the blogs and podcasts you will find here. Most days, you'll find Dan heads-down, working on breakthrough strategies for his clients at EDGY Inc, a highly-focused, invite-only, business strategy execution company based out of Silicon Valley.