“How to Make Sh*t Happen” By Sean Whalen

Author: Sean Whalen

(c) 2018 by the author

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Bottom Line: Edgy “get-er-done” motivation book with a rough outline of an action plan to move forward in your life.


To hear Sean Whalen tell it, he’s reached the peaks of business success, lost it all during the sub-prime mortgage crisis, and rebuilt it from scratch.

And part of his resurrection was to become a personal success coach.

I confess I don’t know Sean Whalen from Adam. I initially discovered him via a viral video he made telling people who didn’t like him or his approach to, “F*ck off.”  Intrigued at his claims of wild success in real estate flipping in the early 2000’s, I decided, as a student of success, to do a little research.

Aside from self-reported success via social media, podcasts and his personal website, it’s hard to find much about him. I can’t find any real estate titan in the 1990s and 2000s named Sean Whalen, and anyone who really had a very successful career would have a lot of third-party mentions in media, but I digress. I did find that he was an unsuccessful candidate for political office in Utah in 2017. Either Whalen was wildly successful very, very quietly, or we’re just watching a guy reinvent himself and create a brand in real-time (and damn near everyone is doing that these days).

That said, his self-published book, available on Amazon, was an amazingly low-priced $3.59 in paperback, so I picked up a copy.

It was a very quick read – about 80 pages in large print, but it was actually more content than you’ll pay for. Here’s the low-down:

  • Whalen is a relentless believer in creating daily habits and taking immediate action. In this sense, he reminds me of a great quote from one of my favorite leaders in U.S. history, Gen. George S. Patton. When creating battle plans, Patton used to admonish his junior officers not to obsess about getting a “perfect” plan. He just needed a “good one”. His exact quote (worthy of a Motivation Monday post, actually), was this:

“A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.”

Whalen believes very much the same thing. His book itself is an obvious reflection of that attitude: a workable book put out now, is better than a textbook put out in 5 years. And he knows this book is a work in progress: that’s why it’s available new for less than $4 delivered. I see the potential for a much-expanded book with an accompanying workbook and even website on the horizon. (If he’s the entrepreneur he says he is, you can count on it.)

  • There’s no secret to his success, according to Whalen. It’s just about picking yourself up each and every day and taking action toward your goals.
  • Whalen’s technique to “make sh*t happen” is something he calls the Core4. It’s about taking action (big or small, but always intentional), every day, in four general areas of your life: work, family, mind/spirit, body. It’s really that simple (along with the total eradication of excuse-making): take a decisive action to improve each area of your Core4, every day.
  • Whalen also believes you should have your day planned each night before you hit the pillow, which every successful person preaches, and rising early and getting a morning ritual done, without fail.

I’ve seen this morning ritual described before. CFP and personal finance blogger Jeff Rose calls it his “Miracle Morning”. Benjamin Franklin had an amazing morning routine that I’ve tried duplicating. The concept is as old as human endeavor: as your morning starts, so goes your day.

  • And finally, Whalen wants to help you eliminate excuses and, if need be, find a mentor. Again, useful, credible stuff.

To his credit, for a guy selling services as a personal coach (is anyone NOT a personal, professional or life coach these days?), Whalen keeps the sales pitches to a minimum and really pushes his reader to take action.

It’s a short and sometimes crude read, but that’s Whalen’s brand (he has a “mastermind tribe” and podcast) full of big beards, salty profanity, and blue-collar grit. Overall, I found it a decent primer on a system of basic goal-setting with relentless action. And any goal worked toward with Whalen’s intensity is bound to be achieved eventually.

Pick up a copy today – worth it for the “get off your ass” motivation, with a  really basic framework of a plan to do exactly that.


EDIT – March 1, 2019:

I have since done more digging into the author of this book and have to say, I’m disappointed. There are always two sides to every story, but it appears that Whalen did have a real estate flipping business (at least two of them, actually, all failed) where he found distressed / foreclosed properties and sold them to public buyers for a commission, for their clients to renovate and flip. Most of the online complaints state that this was done with high-pressure telemarketing tactics to unsophisticated buyers. Some other unsatisfied customers have posted that he also recommended various contractors to do the work for his customers and would receive a kickback from the referred tradesmen.

That on its own isn’t necessarily illegal. But the internet is filled with many stories of customers, employees and creditors being burned by working with Whalen and his now-defunct companies (originally “Empower Group USA” and eventually “Property23”, both based out of Orem, Utah).

As a business owner myself for more than 20 years, I know there are always two sides to every disgruntled customer/employee story. The ability to give reviews anonymously in just about every social media platform on the planet makes it easy to bury a competitor or cause real harm to a person’s reputation. And, especially with employees, you often can’t rebut them at all, because employment matters are usually confidential by law.

I also don’t fault someone who has a business failure (short of con artists or simple mismanagement). Businesses fail every day. If it were easy to run a company, everyone would do it instead of settle for the Average Guy life of a 9-5 job, 2 weeks of vacation a year, and a 2.5% raise.

But here’s my issue: Whalen’s claims can’t be independently verified. I can’t tell my readers whether he’s a successful Rich Guy or not, or even if he’s worth emulating. The only positives I find in my research appear to come from Whalen himself.

What IS out there from the public are numerous reports of patterns of poor customer service. Also, in 2010 and 2011, several creditors were claiming fraud: Whalen continued bragging up his company even after he filed bankruptcy and owed his creditors more than $8.5 million.

It’s one thing to fail and pick yourself up. Lots of Rich Guys have done that, including me. It’s admirable and commendable to do so.

It’s another thing entirely to keep feeding a phony public image while the system is crashing down around you.

Add to that the fact that Whalen has a history of getting on all of these sites to blast his critics, along with even giving specific details about why a former employee was fired. It shows a typical overly aggressive, damn-the-torpedoes-full-speed-ahead mentality I see in many of these new personal brand hustlers. Most of them fake it until they make it. Very few actually make it.

To real Rich Guys, integrity matters, because what they’re working to build has substance. Real Rich Guy ventures are labors of love and strive to provide real, lasting value in the places they inhabit. That might be Whalen’s current motivation, but I can find no history to prove that.

So while I can’t honestly assess the author himself, and really want to keep an open mind about anonymous complaints, where there is smoke, there’s fire. And where there’s a LOT of smoke…

As this was a book review, let me leave the review as written. The book is what it is.

But as for the author himself, and the very expensive self-improvement programs he’s pitching today, let the buyer beware.

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