Are You Collecting a Pile of Underpants?

Toy figures from South Park.

Today I want to talk about a very serious subject.


A pile of underpants, to be specific.

These underpants will help you achieve success in every facet of your life, from looking better to living better, eating better to feeling better, and even starting your own company.

I guarantee that today’s blog post will be so ridiculous that you’ll never forget it.

Now, I’ll also need some help from a few friends to get my point across.

I want you to meet the Underpants Gnomes. 

Who the hell are the Underpants Gnomes?

The infamous Underpants Gnomes!

Let me tell you the tale of the Underpants Gnomes.  

In the town of South Park, Colorado, Underpants Gnomes sneak into people’s houses during the middle of the night and steal their underpants.

They even have a theme song that they sing while working…sort of like the seven dwarves, but with more underpants:

“Gotta go to work, work work, we won’t stop til we have underpants!”

Can you see where I’m going with this yet? I hope not, because if so, you’re most likely messed up in the head. Don’t you worry that pretty little head of yours though – I promise this will all make sense by the end and you’ll go “AHHHHHHH…Steve you’re too damn smart and good looking and modest”

…or you’ll stop reading Nerd Fitness immediately and decide I belong in the nuthouse.

Either way, let this one play out before making your decision.

The secret lies in the Gnomes’ (complete lack of a) business plan.

You see, they’re collecting underpants to build a big business…apparently.

The Gnomes’ Business Plan

This seems to be missing something...

When the Gnomes are questioned why they collect underpants, they say “Collecting underpants is just Phase 1!”

However, when asked about Phase 2, not a single gnome knows!

Following the chart, you’ll see that Phase 3 is ‘Profit’, which is awesome.

But they have no clue how to get there.

This means that these gnomes spend all day and all night collecting underpants without having any clue how to move onto Phase 2 or Phase 3.

You can watch the quick clip here (typical NSWF South Park, but nothing awful).

Underpants Gnomes Business Plan Video

Your Phase 1

The gnomes doing Phase 1.

Whether you realize it or not, you probably spend most of your day collecting underpants:

  • Reading about exercise and diet and fitness and health, learning every thing you know about how to do a push up, how to build a workout, how to learn Parkour, and more.
  • Reading about how to build an online business, researching the 4-hour workweek, or even paying big bucks to learn from other entrepreneurs.
  • Reading every personal finance book and blog to learn how to get out of debt.

Welcome to Phase 1.  This is your pile of underpants!

Phase 3 is what you hope to accomplish after starting to build your pile….your level 50, if you will.

Which brings me to the point of today’s article:

Successful people dominate Phase 2

They boys are shocked at the gnome plan...or lack thereof.

You can spend all day every day learning and collecting and researching.  In fact, you could be the best information gatherer in the entire world.

You know what that will get you?

A big pile of underpants.

Phase 2 is figuring out WHAT TO DO with that knowledge to get to “profit” or “health” or “love.”  People who dominate Phase 2 take action.  People who dominate Phase 2 understand that trying and failing and learning from previous mistakes is so much more valuable than spending more time researching without attempting anything.

Here’s my advice:

I get a few emails every day from people who say something like “I’ve done the research, I know what I’m supposed to do, but I don’t have the motivation to start, can you give that to me?”

Unfortunately, I can’t.  

Phase 2 and what you do with your pile of underpants HAS to come from you…the desire to change, live better, look better, feel better….and then the guts to try things out and see what works!  Phase 2 is the ability to fail repeatedly and continue to attempt new things.

Success and Phase 3 comes when you learn to take things you’ve learned and researched and successfully put them into practice.  

People ask me how I started Nerd Fitness and built a business around it.  Simple. I started. I read The 4 Hour Workweek, I read Chris Guillebeaus’ “279 Days to Overnight Success“, and then just started writing…5 articles a week for nine months until I discovered what worked and what didn’t…and then cranked out two 2500-5000 word articles a week, every week, for the past 2.5 years.  I didn’t spend money on blogging classes, internet marketing books, SEO strategy, or writing courses (that’s a lot of underpants).  I started writing crappy articles that got less and less crappy, put my focus on helping people and learning how to make more of an impact with my writing, and years later here I am.

Ask Jim of Beast Skills how he became a gymnastics guru – he taught himself.  He read books and watched videos, watched other people doing these things, and then he went out and did it!  He probably fell, busted up his body repeatedly, but he got better and better…and now he teaches people this stuff for a living.

Want the secret? Spend 10% of your effort on Phase 1 and 90% on Phase 2 trying new stuff!

  • Pick up some weights and try to strength train.
  • Go into your gym, put the bar across your shoulders, and attempt your first squat (hint: go DEEP)
  • Ask somebody out and get shot down.
  • Build a business that sucks.
  • Start a crappy blog.



Learn from the gnomes’ mistake – don’t get stuck with a pile of underpants.

Dominate phase 2 and make Profit.

So, I ask you: what type of underpants are you collecting, and what are you going to do with them TODAY?  

What’s one actionable step you’re going to take TODAY to turn those underpants into profit?



 Photo Source: South Park Kids.

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121 thoughts on “Are You Collecting a Pile of Underpants?

  1. I guess my pile of underwear at this moment consists of all the ideas I have that I want to put to practise when I finish evening classes for my bachelor. Though I do have a lot of ideas now, I have to make sure to work on them when I finally get my degree… So my pile is: ideas:D.

  2. Plus it’s always fun to see “Are You Collecting a Pile of Underpants?” in your inbox, starting with a picture from South Park.  I thought it was going to go in a slightly different direction (working out aimlessly, without any real plan) but I like this one!  More people do get stuck at the “planning” phase trying to get everything perfect.  They would even benefit from some slight aimlessness because at least they’d be doing something.

  3. I LOVE this, thank you so much. Only recently have I
    started to actually TRY to do pull-up; something I have never been able to do.
    I am at the gym with fit people all around and I just have to do it and realize
    success doesn’t happen overnight.

  4. Man, you’re reading my mind lately. Firstly I was planning on doing yoga in my next challenge and you’re beating me to it! 

    Then this article, I’m starting a side-venture with friends and I’ve found I’m notorious for backing out after doing “too” much research. This hits a chord with me and I’m going to say f*** it and just knock it out!

  5. Awesome article, Steve!  Next question is: Which pile of underwear to attack?  I’ve got about three separate stacks here…

  6. hm.  I have the biggest collection of underpants of anyone in my social circles.  I collect all sorts of knowledge, make countless plans, then I stick my head out of a window, flail around, and panic.  not cool.

    this is a much needed article, Steve.  thanks.

  7. Very interesting seeing this title pop up in my inbox! This is a very fitting post. I finally got my head around some goals for myself and started acting on them, but for a long while I was collecting a pile of underwear (wow, that sounds really awful).

  8. Love this post!

    Lately, I’ve been obsessing over a pile of underwear about how to raise money for charity. I’m boxing in a charity fight night in ten weeks, and the goal is to raise $5,000 for the Atlanta Children’s Shelter (I got to pick the charity). Now that I’ve read about it, I need to DO it. Put myself out there.

    My actionable step, right now, is to compose an email and/or letter to send to family and friends just letting them know what’s up. Most of the people I know don’t even know that I’m doing this yet.

    Thanks for the post and the laughs!

  9. I have to say, when I first read the title, I figured that a) this would be about Underpants Gnomes, and b) Steve’s finally gone to the funny farm.

    However, your wit and bucketload of crazy have struck a nerve. I admit I have been a closet Underpants Gnome. I’ve mistaken information-hoarding for progress. I promise to do better starting today. Thanks for the great article!

  10. Son of a! LOVE this! When the direction you were taking this became clear I thought “GENIUS!” And then I kicked myself for swimming around in phase 1 for so long I’m pruny and wrinkled. Time to quit planning/pondering and ACT. To the batmobile!

  11. Ugh, thank you for this.  For two reasons.  1) For the South Park reference.  2) For answering my call out to the Universe.  I asked for some help to get my goals underway.  I’ve been away from NF for a number of days then I decide to check in and BAM!  Underpants.

    From blogging to getting fit, this might be my new mantra when I find myself procrastinating.

  12. Great article, Steve. We often refer to the Underpant Gnomes at my company, when we hear about the latest, greatest yet completely unfathomable business plan! Doing will always beat planning in my opinion, although clearly some (enough) planning is important as well.

  13. Love this post! I had been stuck collecting underpants for way too long. I finally started a website/blog of my own to share and hold myself accountable. I have been wanting to do this for so long, but as you put it, we get stuck in phase 1 and phase 2 seems the right place to be. I am pretty new to your blog but love it. Maybe you can stop by mine some day and give me a few tips. Thanks!

  14. This article was nerderriffic!!  At first I thought Steve was really gonna talk about underpants gnomes for the whole article (they really do exist!  otherwise why do I have to buy a 3-pack from Kmart every other week?!) But then he related it to fitness… and then my mind was blown.  

  15. Ugh. I have a librarian-sized pile of underpants, which makes sense because I am a librarian.  I really need to get cracking on Phase 3.

  16. Gad-dang it!!!

    You know what? Of all the things I could say, I’ll stick with – EPIC POST.


    Thank you for this kick in the pants.

  17. Muchas Gracias Steve. I am almost as much a fan of South Park as I am of Hemingway:

    going where you have to go, and doing what you have to do, and seeing
    what you have to see, you dull and blunt the instrument you write with.
    But I would rather have it bent and dulled and know I had to put it on
    the grindstone again and hammer it into shape and put a whetstone to it,
    and know that I had something to write about, than to have it bright
    and shining and nothing to say, or smooth and well oiled in the closet,
    but unused.”

  18. I know now that I have been collecting a lot of underpants. Reading, researching, reading again, and so on. I actually pospone action to a “better time” when I “know more” or “can do more”. Much like the “job/experience” paradox. Thanks ofr the info, it’s time to get my hands dirty.

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