The Point of No Return

Today I wanted to talk briefly about the point of no return.  

Now, I’m not going to be talking about it in a mystical, movie-thriller sort of way, but when it comes to launching out towards that dream or that goal, maybe starting that business or whatever it is, I think there can be two types of points of no return - one is mental, the other is physical, and I’ll build that out in just a second, but first, what do I mean by point of no return?

In one sense, at its simplest, its a commitment.  A decision.  Let me share a story you are likely familiar with from primary school history but it illustrates perfectly the point. 

In 1519, the Spanish explorer and conquistador Hernando Cortez decided that he wanted to seize the treasure that the Aztecs had been hoarding.  He took 500 soldiers and 100 sailors and landed his 11 ships on the shores of the Yucatan.  Despite the large army under his command, he was still vastly outnumbered by a huge and powerful empire that had been around for 600 years.

Some of his men were unconvinced of success, and being loyal to Cuba, they tried to seize some ships to escape to there.  Cortez got wind of the plot, and captured the ringleaders.   He wanted to make sure that the remainder of his men were completely committed to his mission and quest for riches, so he did something that seemed completely insane to his people:  Cortez gave the order to scuttle his own ships.

His men resisted, wondering how they would even get home, and his answer was:  “If we are going home, we are going home in their ships!”

The path forward was clear for Cortez – All or nothing, 100% commitment.  The option of failure was gone – Conquer as heroes, or die.

The ships were sunk – He kept a single ship to send back the “royal fifth” (the king of Spain claimed 20% of all treasures).  By doing this, the level of commitment of the men was raised to an extreme level, much higher than anyone could have imagined.

Incredibly, they succeeded in this unlikely feat.  In six hundred years, no one else had been able to conquer the Aztecs and plunder their riches.  They were able to do it simply because there was no choice, no fallback – the ships were gone, the only alternative was death.

Now, our alternative in almost every case is not as extreme as death, and thats a good thing, but the idea that we will not turn back is so important.  

So real quick lets talk about those two different kinds of points of no return - first mental.

Here, we are talking about the ideas in our head and we are often our own worst enemy.  I know for me, if I just keep an idea spinning around in my head, its just another idea or dream.  One key to moving forward is adding a level of accountability to the situation by telling someone about your decision or commitment to forge ahead.  Yes, this means putting yourself out there, risking failure, but in the way too often used cliche “no pain, no gain” - you just need a consequence of not moving forward, and sometimes, just someone else knowing can be enough.  Maybe it needs to be a group of people, family or friends - or a more public group of people, your readers, blog followers, etc.  Whatever the case, making the decision and commitment to burn the ships mentally, will raise, like it did for Cortez’s men, the commitment level to a more extreme high.

The other kind of point of no return is physical, and this one is right in my face right now with a current reality that I am facing that is a pretty big home renovation.

For me, demo day was a big physical point of no return.  Once you rip out drywall, and insulation and everything is down to the studs, you have no choice but to live in a skeleton of a house, or start to rebuild.  And like most home renovations, mine has come with its fair share of “curveballs” and things I did not expect.  Like, finding little to no insulation behind the walls!  What!?  It gets down to 20 below here in the winter - so thats a problem!  Wasn’t in the budget but now we adjust, and regardless, I’ve got to fix this!  I can’t just stick to the plan and slap the drywall up and say, “Oh I’ll get to it later”. But anyway, I’m getting off track - for me through out this project, there are other issues that have come up, and each step along the way, I’ve got to push through my fears or doubts and get this project moving!  We are moving into this new place in 3 weeks and I literally still have a shell of a room for a kitchen and dining room. BUT, the more I keep plugging way, and putting another step in the process behind me, the more confidence it breeds to continue on.

And that is really the point.  

The fear of “what if” will control us - like Cortez’s men - what if we are defeated, what if we fail?  And when the option of retreat was removed, it dramatically raised the level of commitment.

So what is your point of no return on YOUR dream right now?  Is it simply adding a layer of accountability by telling someone your plan?   Writing down that goal and pasting on the wall in your office or cubicle where others can see it and ask you about it?  Or is it a physical demolition like my current reality?  Well, now the room is gutted, time to put it back together in dream plan fashion!

Either way, I hope you burn the ships.  Take that step, that leap, even if it feels way bigger than you can handle, I promise, the rush of knowing it’s “do or die” time (so to speak) will most often be when we surprise ourselves and rise to the challenge and accomplish way more that we ever thought possible.

I can’t wait to hear what YOUR point of no return moment is, in fact, email me at or hop on the website and drop a line - I’d love to hear from you!



Just Ship!

Today I want to cover a topic that I won’t say is PLAGUING me, but is something I am working on RIGHT NOW, so I thought I'd share the insight with you!

I have covered a few topics in my mini-episodes that I personally need to work on, because for me, taking the time to write and talk about them helps me work on my own habits.  Now, its not that I am perfecting each of them overnight, and some of them I am better at than others, but like I’ve said before, the important thing is making progress and improvement.  

Today I want to quickly cover a topic that I’ve spent time preaching (I mean teaching) to my former team at my last job and it's a topic that is easy for me to talk ABOUT but a little harder to always DO, and that is the principle of shipping.

And the way I like to look at it is with this concept: 80% and SHIPPED is better than 100% on the shelf EVERY.TIME.

If we stop for a moment and think about it, we all know it's true.  A product, an email, a blog, video, you name it, is worthless if it sits in your head, on your desk or on your computer and never reaches a customer or an audience. 

Now this is being said by a struggling perfectionist and I’ll be the first to raise my hand: “Hi, my name is Brian, and I’m a perfectionist.”  There, it’s out there in the open.  PHEW. 

But seriously.  I have a vision in my head of what I want something to be like and work hard for it, and when it’s not quite there, I want it to be JUST RIGHT.  But this can also cause me to hesitate, or wait, and iterate over and over to get everything just perfectly perfect the way I see it in my head, but the problem is if I never ship, it never reaches others! 

Case and point - this show.  It took a few months longer than I hoped to get it dialed in the way I wanted it before I went live and the week I pulled the trigger I was second-guessing it saying “its not QUITE ready” and “I just want to tweak this one thing or have the intro sound a LITTLE bit better.”  Stuff that in all honesty, the things I was nit-picking over most of you wouldn’t ever notice and it's because I am WAY too close to the project and I see all its flaws.

Even now, I can have a tendency to want to hold an episode either in editing or concept and make it just perfect the way it is in my head before I let it go, but the reality is in most cases, the 80% version is perfectly ok to ship and again, only I will really notice its flaws because I’m so close to it.  

As a creator, entrepreneur, dreamer, and doer, YOU know your product or project the best so you are the one who will nit-pick it to death!  And literally!  We will KILL IT.  It’ll never live and see the light of day if we don’t send it off.  You can always iterate and improve on something down the line, but you’ve got to get it out there.  

I think that’s why it’s important to have people in your life, friends, family, whoever, that you let tell you like it is.  And you know will actually call you on it and say, “Yo Brian.  You are WAY overthinking this, just let it go.”  And 99% of the time, they’re right.

So what’s the take-a-way?


Just do it.

Brian, just send it off.

I need this reminder as much as anyone, but thought it would be a good one to share with you today.  Whatever the project, dream, goal, product, or organization is, get it LAUNCHED!  And 80% and shipped will not only get the train moving down the tracks, but will also let you begin to tweak what you don’t like, often FASTER than if you hadn’t shipped at all yet, because perhaps you’ll be self-conscious about people seeing it, OR you may begin to get feedback that tells you that the thing you wanted to keep fixing your customer or audience doesn't care as much about as something ELSE and you need to shift your focus!  But you won’t get that valuable feedback unless you do what??


So there’s what I’m working on right now.  And if you’re hung up on something, and particularly if you’re hung up on taking the next step towards launching out, get out of your own head!  Remember, 80% and SHIPPED is better than 100% on the shelf EVERY. TIME.

Less but Better - Discussing Essentialism

Hi everyone!  Welcome back to the Launching Out! podcast.  Brian Hosan here and this is episode 16!  

Today I want to do something a little different and rock my very first BOOK REVIEW.  Yup, I thought I’d take minute to review a book I just read - SO good in fact, that I read it cover-to-cover on a cross-country flight a few weeks back.  The book is titled “Essentialism - The disciplined Pursuit of less” by NYT best selling author Greg McKeown.

Now, I had heard of this book a while back and it had been recommended by a friend who said it changed his life and business so I put it on my Christmas list and well, Santa came through, (I actually think it was one of my siblings) but anyway, it took a few months till I made the time to tackle it, and like I mentioned a moment ago, it was so good I chewed through it basically in one sitting (minus a layover in Chicago- but that’s besides the point).

So I am going to give you my personal “Cliff’s notes”  and just cover a few core ideas and quotes that I jotted down that really jumped out at me, and I hope, will challenge your status quo of thinking as well.


Right off the bat, Greg introduces the Basic Value Proposition of essentialism and it is this:

"Only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter." 

He goes on to summarize this with another idea in just 3 words "LESS BUT BETTER"

I like this idea because I know that in prior work roles I have really struggled with being a “yes” guy - feeling like I have to or should say “yes” to just about anything that came my way.  And maybe part of that is the fact that I love to serve other people so by taking it on, I’m serving, right?  But we also probably have all realized that the more we have on our plate, the less effective we usually are at any one area.  In fact, most of the time, all the things we are trying to juggle are getting a half-baked effort at best.

You may have also heard it said that If you don't prioritize your life, someone else will.  True... But in today’s world, technology has lowered the barrier for others to share their opinion about what we should be focusing on. It's not just information overload, lets call it OPINION overload.

At some point or another I think we have ALL come face to face with the reality and pressures we feel from outside sources, but I’m going to outline quick what Greg calls the 3 Assumptions of the Non-Essentialist: (which are)

  1. I have to,
  2. It's all important,
  3. I can do both.

Now, counter that with his 3 Core truths of Essentialism: (which are)

  1. I choose to,
  2. Only a few things really matter,
  3. I can do anything but not everything.

In almost any situation we have options or multiple things we can choose between…

"Our options may be things, but a choice is an ACTION. We may not always have control over our options, but we ALWAYS have control over how we choose among them."
"When we surrender our right to choose, we give others not just the power but also the explicit permission to choose for us."

Perhaps you may have heard someone illustrate it this way: if you had a major medical emergency to you or a close family member TODAY - how would that effect your decisions on priorities the next day, week, month or perhaps even year?? How you spend your time, what you value, what is - you guessed it - ESSENTIAL??

McKeown goes on to quote Michael Porter when he says "Strategy is about making choices, trade-offs. It's about deliberately choosing to be different." 

This thought is interesting as well: 

"For an essentialist,  Instead of asking, 'what do I have to give up?' They ask, 'what do I want to go big on?'"

I really like that.

In the book Greg uses a visual illustration of how we exert our effort on project.  "Picture a circle with 10 short arrows pointing out in different directions - then next to it a circle with ONE arrow pointing out, the combined length of all 10 of the arrows in the first picture."  For me it was just a cool imagery for how we often dilute our ability to be MOST effective.

Don’t get me wrong - this is a struggle for me, and probably MOST of us if we’re honest.  But I like to learn and to be doing my best to become a better version of myself.  And that just means making progress.  Not being willing to stay in the same place in my personal development.

So a few more nuggets for you before we wrap up, I don’t want to give away everything, but let me reiterate, this book is - dare I say - an ESSENTIAL read!  Get it?  Haha, ok.  

In talking about moving towards setting your own priorities rather than accepting everyone else’s priorities for you Greg talks about setting boundaries and says….

"Boundaries can come at a high price. However, not pushing back costs more: our ability to choose what is most essential in life." 

If you haven’t picked up Dr. Henry Cloud’s book called Boundaries which is referenced in the book, it’s another great read and really important to help walk through the process of not letting others dictate when, how, and what you do, but taking the proactive approach and establishing the boundaries for your relationships, your projects, your hobbies, or whatever.

Another little nugget for me was:

"Use the good times to create a buffer for the bad." 

Good thought - its usually easier to plan ahead and set things up when things are going well.  Good reminder.

And I’ll share this as one of my final thoughts from the book, but Greg asks the question:

"What is the obstacle that is keeping you back from achieving what really matters to you??  Systematically identify and remove the "constraint" to reduce the friction keeping you from executing what is essential." 

An essentialist produces more by removing more instead of doing more. 

SO to summarize for ME personally I’d say my key take-a-ways are:

  1. Identify what matters most to me.
  2. Identify and remove the (as Greg puts it) constraints that keep me from accomplishing those essential things
  3. Less, but better.

I hope this piqued your curiosity, and I highly recommend you go out and grab this book and devour it, then APPLY it to your life.  Good good stuff here.  You can check out the show notes at for a direct link to snag the book and don’t forget if you haven’t already, sign up to get the next show delivered straight to your inbox as well.