Nick Unsworth | Life on Fire (Episode 527)

Nick Unsworth (@NickUnsworth) of Life on Fire is a business coach who helps entrepreneurs get more time back and make more money — by teaching them lessons from the heartbreaking mistakes he’s already made.

The Cheat Sheet:

  • Chasing easy dollars is usually a way to end up with no dollars.
  • Trying to outwork a problem isn’t always the best way to solve it.
  • If someone highly recommended does a job so poorly that it’s instrumental in sinking your business, maybe your new business should be founded on doing their job better.
  • Everyone starts at zero — but you can still maintain your integrity when starting a new venture as long as you’re transparent about what you can do for your clients as you build experience.
  • Why do so many ambitious people achieve their dreams only to find themselves unfulfilled by the time they make it to their idealized destination?
  • And so much more…


When we pursue our dreams, we usually fantasize about what it’ll be like when we finally “make it.” If we’re lucky enough to reach that point, it’s surprising how many of us are left unfulfilled upon arrival at this mythical destination — because we’ve forgotten the lessons we learned on the journey to get there.

Nick Unsworth from Life on Fire joins us for episode 527 of The Art of Charm. We discuss his entrepreneurial journey from failed attempts at multi-level marketing to bad real estate decisions, selling his company before 30 and hitting rock bottom, and how he turned things around to pursue a legacy of helping others rather than chasing an idealized fantasy of what he once believed happiness should be.

(Direct Download Episode Here)

More About This Show

Against the advice of everyone he knew, Nick Unsworth began his entrepreneurial life by diving headfirst into a multi-level marketing (MLM) scheme when he was just a sophomore in college.

By taking the lessons his mentor at the company gave him to break the company record (and win a bet), he hit regional director within 90 days. Making more money that he’d ever seen before, he got reckless and started overspending. He got out of college and turned down other opportunities to go full time with the company. And then things took a sudden, downward turn.

“The company ended up filing for bankruptcy and just screwed all of us distributors,” says Nick. “They kept all of their customer base, reorganized the company, and I…lost quite a bit of money because I signed up about 40 or so college kids the month that happened. They spent $400 and I didn’t want my reputation to be hurt or damaged from it, so I took all the money in my savings account and I paid all those kids back so they were made whole because the company wasn’t going to do it. I was left with nothing except high expenses and and this M3 BMW. It was just a disaster.”

(To learn more about why we’d caution against getting involved in network marketing, check out episode 247 of The Art of Charm when we talked with Robert Fitzpatrick about why MLM is a scam.)

At 22 years old, Nick didn’t let this bad experience with MLM completely derail his entrepreneurial ambitions. Circa 2007, he got the opportunity to work with his friend in the mortgage industry in San Diego.

“Sure enough, within a couple weeks of moving my life out there, the real estate meltdown happened and the great recession and this whole project that was supposed to be this great opportunity completely flipped upside-down. I would wake up at 5:30 in the morning; I would get to work by about 6:30. And I would come home by 11 or 12 at night. And I literally did not see daylight for about six months.”

Even with investors pulling out of the project and Nick and his partner getting stuck covering multiple end loans, they still pulled off their deal — but at a substantially decreased payoff than was projected. With barely anything to show for the time he’d poured into the venture, Nick swore off the mortgage industry and moved back to Connecticut.

Still, he knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur — he just learned two important lessons early on about how not to do it. His ambition was driven by a mother who believed in him (except for that time she told him not to get involved in MLM) and a father who was such a hard worker and a good provider that he was too stressed out to be around as much as he would have liked.

“People look at Gary Vaynerchuk and how hard he works — my dad would give him a run for his money,” says Nick. “I saw how much stress was getting thrown at him from every direction and I just always thought to myself, ‘I don’t want to be like that. I want to have time freedom. I want to have a family one day and be able to be there.”

A few setbacks weren’t going to derail this ambition — after all, he’d played football (“at 150 pounds soaking wet,” says Nick) and made it to the High School Hall of Fame as the smallest center in the state by the time he was a senior.

But as time went on, Nick racked up 11 failures under his belt and experienced his lowest point with a business that seemed poised for success (and of benefit to charities) were it not for a string of bad luck and poorly advised advertising. Nick went through health-ruining weight gain, depression, and thoughts of suicide before his mom gave him a copy of The Secret by Rhonda Byrne that helped him regain a positive outlook.

Listen to this episode of The Art of Charm to learn more about what Nick did to turn things around, how he overcome massive debt and $3500 (mostly in interest) on his credit cards without declaring bankruptcy, what it was like to go to a networking event while dead broke, how he negotiated the sale of his first successful business against a seasoned deal team, the wakeup call he endured when selling his business didn’t bring him the happiness he thought it would, how he began working toward a legacy of helping others rather than chasing a preconceived notion of what happiness should entail, and lots more.


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AJ Harbinger - author of 1049 posts on The Art of Charm

AJ Harbinger is one of the world’s top relationship development experts. His company, The Art of Charm, is a leading training facility for top performers that want to overcome social anxiety, develop social capital and build relationships of the highest quality. Raised by a single father, AJ felt a strong desire to learn about relationships and the elements that make them successful. However, this interest went largely untapped for many years. Following the path set out for him by his family, AJ studied biology in college and went on to pursue a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology at the University of Michigan. It was at this time that he began to feel immense pressure from the cancer lab he worked in and began to explore other outlets for expression. It was at this point that The Art of Charm Podcast was born.

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