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

  1. awe, man! I’m totally collecting underpants! Noooooo! Well, acknowledging that I have an underpants problem is the first step in fixing it, right? *sigh*

  2. Steve,

    Thank you! Thank you! I’ve been standing around with my thumb up my butt trying to figure out what the hell to do with this Vat of information I have collected. I don’t want a big pile of underwear. I am going to be a “productivity ninja” starting right now!!!!!! Thank you!!

  3. You are really good at writing and delivering the message at the right time.
    I really collected a lot of underpants throughout the years. Need to stop going to phase 2.

  4. Today I labeled someone on another forum as an underpants gnome.  Yes, I actually have a tag next to his name (that only I can see), and it makes me happy.  I’m sick of watching him collect them, but hand no idea what to do with them (besides whine that it is hard).

    Thanks for introducing me to the gnome concept.  It makes putting up with them a lot easier, because they now have a name.

  5. “A little nonsense now and then … !” Wise beyond your years, nerd .. good, no, insightful pedagogy

  6. I love this post! I’ve been replicating the No More Underpants concept into my everyday life and started planning my summer to be as full and amazing as ever! Finally looking to my bucketlist to complete those that I can in the next 6 months.

    I’m writing a similar post, using the Underpants gnomes idea and referencing this article. I just want to get the message out, especially to students, that it’s time to stop collecting underpants, and time to start wearing!

  7. Ahhh my pile of underpants is fuckin humongous..i occasionally will go out and run, play a sport, interact with new people but most of the time after one of those flashes ill feel a bit too comfortable again and play too many video games or just watch movies…

  8. Dude. I am overrun by underwear. Piles EVERYWHERE. There’s the “get in shape” pile, the “one day my house will be clean” pile, the “I really should write some stuff” pile…and so on.

    Today I will spend 15 minutes putting everything in my living room where it belongs. Tomorrow I will ask my doctor when I can resume normal activity, and how to ease into an exercise program (I’m a week post-surgery, yuck).

  9. I felt the need to comment on this article after years of reading articles for Art of Manliness and Nerd Fitness and remaining quite passive. I’m taking an active role now. Thanks for a much needed article.

  10. I don’t normally (EVER) respond or post to blog, articles, and the such…BUT THIS WAS F’N AWESOME! I just realized I’m now a Gnome with to many underpants. In all seriousness, thank you.


  11. This is one of the few genuinely motivating pieces of knowledge I have ever come across.

  12. I couldn’t read all the comments, but Matt said this was Nerderrific and I must AGREE! I found NF a few days ago and have been doing my *cough* 10% with Phase 1 for a while and now have OMG WAY much of Phase 2 to catch up my 90%…I’m off to get started.

  13. Is it bad that I feel less bad about this behavior now that I can call it collection underpants?

  14. I love it! I can do many many things crapily…um, you know what I mean. I am motivated and not afraid of “perfection”. Even if I am afraid, there is beauty in continuing to try!

  15. This would explain what happened to my favorite Power Ranger Underpants. Damn gnomes.

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