Rob Archangel is the owner of Archangel Ink, and author of The Published Professional: How Self-Publishing Can Help Build Your Brand, Attract More Clients, and Increase Sales. He founded Archangel Ink to help clients more effectively reach their audience, share their message, and build their brand. Archangel and his team help busy authors, entrepreneurs, and business professionals self-publish their written work with quality and ease, so they can focus on their area of expertise.
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?
I grew up in New York City in a multi-generational household. Space and finances were tight but I was fortunate that I always had someone to turn to. Even if I was grounded, I wasn’t isolated. Of course, I wanted more stuff as a kid (who doesn’t?), but looking back I see I had everything I needed and a lot of what I wanted. I realized that our actual *needs* are less than we may think.
All of that informs my philosophy. One: relationships are central. Two: a willingness to be flexible and go without is an asset. There are other ways to get needs met at less cost; if the next guy can’t see that, you have a comparative advantage. Make use of it.
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
It’s worth it to pay for quality and for help sometimes. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. The options that don’t require upfront expense may end up being more expensive down the road, whether in avoidable errors or just wasted time and energy spent spinning your wheels.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
“Jobs are for chumps. Everyone should be an entrepreneur or own their own business.”
There are lots of bad jobs out there, unfortunately, but plenty of good ones too. Nothing wrong with clocking in and out, and following an established path. Sometimes a path is well-trod because it generally works.
Not everyone can or should be an entrepreneur, and there’s no shame if you realize that path isn’t for you. Know thyself, don’t be swayed by hype-mongers.
Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?
About a decade ago, I spent several years working on a permaculture homestead and then helping run an organic vegetable CSA. I pictured myself working the land and considered apprenticing with farmers practicing rotational grazing and regenerative agriculture.
Eventually, I realized I’m not a farmer, barely a gardener and the righteous path I saw myself on (and prepared myself for over many years) was not for me.
I had a crisis of identity; if this wasn’t for me, who was I? And what were the ethical dimensions of finding other work that I previously imagined as destructive? (If I wasn’t actively restoring the land, was I degrading it?)
I came to be a bit less judgmental, and less unidimensional in picturing paths forward. Some of the themes mentioned in the other questions here helped me do that. For example, maybe I should focus on what I actually like to do day-to-day, and what I’m dispositionally suited for, rather than what I think I should do. Also, it’s good to recognize, accept, and adapt to our own limitations. And above all, be honest to one’s self if no one else.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
Bringing on additional help. When I started out, I did almost everything personally, including things for which I was poorly qualified (design, editing) as well as things I was good at but not exceptional.
Training and enlisting team members who *are* exceptional at what they do has made Archangel Ink significantly better and more successful than if I continued to do it all myself.
It’s a continuing edge; I still struggle and find myself the bottleneck for operations because I remain committed to certain tasks that probably ought to invest time training help for.
But finding quality team members and delegating is my recommendation when you’re ready to scale.
What is your morning routine?
I wake up anywhere from 6 am-8:30 am and don’t maintain a strict morning routine. I tend to do the best working on an empty stomach and jumping right into the day’s tasks. But even so, scheduling flexibility is important for me. If I over-plan, things often go sideways. As they say: man plans, and God laughs.
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
I’m average at best in consistency, but intermittent fasting has been very helpful for me. There are many approaches and styles of IF, but the most useful lesson for me has been: I’m capable of pushing through discomfort, and discipline has its rewards. Doing something difficult is character-building, and this is a simple, accessible way to test your mettle.
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
Finding a dedicated workspace is the most important tool I’ve discovered. I actually use rented office space sometimes when the home-office feels more like “home” than “office.”
If I create associations of slacking, watching YouTube, and playing games at my desk, it’s hard to switch gears when it’s time to be productive. Rather than fight an uphill battle against that bad juju, I intentionally relocate to more productive settings.
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
For business, I loved Drive by Daniel Pink. I learned it’s not always about the field you’re in, but the day-to-day character of your work life that’s important. You can work in your “dream job” and be miserable, and conversely, you can find satisfaction in unexpected places if the work ecology is right.
For entrepreneurship and management, The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris was helpful. The title is a lie; Tim and almost every high performer work many more than four hours per week. But you can figure out ways to enjoy it more, delegate the tedious or inefficient, and create space for experiences outside of your high-powered career. Play As If Your Life Depends On It by Frank Forenchich for health and fitness was very influential. Movement and keeping healthy can and should be enjoyable, and should coexist with our fundamental nature.
A recurring theme in these books is: how we think about life matters. Thinking laterally is valuable, don’t get stuck in a box or have a one-track mind. There are many potential paths forward and they become easier to see and leverage the more we let go of fixed perspectives.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
“This too shall pass.” Our joys are worth celebrating in the moment, don’t take them for granted. Our sorrows will not persist indefinitely, keep perspective. Stay equanimous.