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Herbal Ecstasy: The Search For A Better Way To Party With Shaahin Cheyene.

BYW S4 4 | Herbal Ecstasy

 

Shaahin Cheyene always searched for a better way. He is the brilliant mind behind the legendary smart drug known as herbal ecstasy. He’s earned over a billion dollars in revenue because of it. But what if you were to discover that Shaahin’s family had to escape to survive and ended up finally migrating to Los Angeles, California? At 15 years old, Shaahin left home with nothing but the clothes on his back! Join the conversation as host Dr. Gary Sanchez uncovers Shaahin’s powerful “why” of wanting to contribute better processes and systems to the world. It pushed him from a place of desperation to a place of prosperity. Tune in and find a better way!

 

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Herbal Ecstasy: The Search For A Better Way To Party With Shaahin Cheyene

Welcome to the show, where we go beyond just talking about your why and actually helping you discover and live your why. If you’re a regular reader, you know that every week, we talk about one of the nine whys and then we bring on somebody with that why so we can see how their why has played out in their life. In this episode, we’re going to be talking about the why of better way. If your why is better way, then you are the ultimate innovator. You are constantly seeking better ways to do everything. You find yourself wanting to improve virtually anything by finding a way to make it better.

You also desire to share your improvement with the world. You constantly ask yourself questions like, “What if we tried this differently? What if we did this another way? How can we make this better?” You contribute to the world with better processes and systems while operating under the motto, “I’m often pleased, but never satisfied.” You are excellent at associating, which means that you are adept at taking ideas or systems from one industry or discipline and applying them to another, always with the ultimate goal of improving something.

I’ve got a great guest for you. His name is Shaahin Cheyene. During the Iranian revolution of 1978, Shaahin’s family had to escape to survive and ended up finally migrating to Los Angeles, California. At fifteen years old, Shaahin left home with nothing, but the clothes on his back and created over $1 billion in revenue by inventing the legendary smart drug known as Herbal Ecstacy. These childhood experiences had a major impact on his perspective of freedom, hard work, and entrepreneurship.

Shaahin went on to invent Digital Vaporization, the forerunner to this day’s vapes and a start a number of successful businesses with a couple of notable failures. He is the Founder and CEO of Accelerated Intelligence, Inc., a major Amazon FBA seller with millions in sales and the Lead Coach at Amazon Mastery, where he teaches the entrepreneurs how to crush it on the Amazon platform. He is an active YouTube creator.

Shaahin is considered one of the leading global minds on what’s next in eCommerce, Amazon and the internet. He is described as the Willy Wonka of Generation X by The London Observer and Newsweek and is one of the most forward thinkers in business. With his Amazon Mastery course, he acutely recognizes trends and patterns early on the Amazon platform to help others understand how these shifts impact markets and consumer behavior. Shaahin, welcome to the show.

Gary, it’s my honor to be on. Thank you for having me.

Take us back through your life. Let’s go back and give us your story, how you got started and how you got to where you are because it sounds like it was a struggle at the beginning for sure.

We came to the United States in the late 1970s, early 1980s as immigrants. We immigrated here through Germany to the United States. Iran was on top of the heap, we came here and all of a sudden, we learned that we were third-class citizens in a country that didn’t appreciate Iranians during the whole Iran-Contra thing. We had Ronald Reagan trickle-down economics and Oliver North. Iran-Contra was not a friendly environment.

Make a path for your success. Click To Tweet

I grew up with a big chip on my shoulder because I was constantly getting my ass handed to me in school. I would go to school and get beat up every day. We grew up in a neighborhood that was up and coming, the little enclave of Los Angeles called Pacific Palisades. In the early ‘80s, it was much more hippie than it was well-to-do and gentrified. My folks managed to get a house there. It was fairly inexpensive. It was a totally beat-down house. They bought the house and we started fixing it up. As we started fixing up this old house, the neighborhoods started booming.

More and more people started moving to LA. LA was in a building boom. All this wealth started cropping up, literally all around us. We’re in this old house. My dad worked at a pizza shop and then at dry cleaners. We were solidly poor and there was all this wealth around us. I remember grown up there. We didn’t eat out at restaurants. We didn’t buy new clothes and all that stuff. When my brother and I got clothes, we would wait for somebody to walk into my dad’s dry cleaner and pray that person was like cool that they would not pay their bill, so we could get the clothes when they defaulted on their bill or just left the clothes there. We’d always be 2 or 3 seasons behind on whatever the fashion was.

I remember a friend of mine whose dad was a wealthy doctor, invited me over to eat. I was like, “Cool. What’s your mom cooking?” He’s like, “No, she’s not cooking. We’re going to a restaurant.” I was like, “Okay.” We went in there and he gave me a menu. I looked at him and I said, “How the heck does this work?” I can order a pizza and a hamburger and that man’s going to bring it to me. Explain to me how this works again. This is incredible. That’s how it was. I didn’t have any of this wealth, but around me was tons of wealth.

By the time I reached fifteen, I remember thinking to myself, “I want that stuff. I want the Porsche. I want the Ferrari. I want the beautiful blonde sitting in the car next to me in the big house on the hill.” All that great stuff, great vacations and all that stuff. What’s the path? I went and I talked to my parents and I said, “How do I get that?” They thought about it. As any immigrant family will let you know, the pinnacle of success is becoming a doctor.

My parents told me, “You become a doctor. You go to a school.” I was like, “Great. Sign me up for that. I’ll be a doctor.” They’re like, “Okay.” I’m like, “How long does that take 2, 3 years?” They’re like, “No, it takes 8, 10, 12 years. Specialty, 14, 15 years.” “What happens then?” “You got to get a loan. You’ll be in debt for another ten years. You’ll be fat, old and bald like the dude next door. Maybe by the time you’re 50, you’ll have a mortgage, a wife and eight kids.”

You won’t have time because you’ll be selling your hours. You’ll have to wake up at 5:00 AM and come back at 8:00 PM. Maybe by then, you’ll have the house in the car, which by the way, the bank will own, you will not. Very quickly, I discovered that it was not going to be a path that worked for me. Very unceremoniously, I packed up my stuff in a single backpack and I left. I left the keys on the counter. I didn’t come back. I burned my ships. I decided I was going to go out and find my fame and fortune in the world. As a kid, I was fifteen with no friends and no money. This was pre-internet, pre all those times.

Take us into that decision. What was going on for you when you decided at fifteen, I’m going to walk out and do this on my own? What was going on for you?

Growing up again in Los Angeles, at school, I never fit in. I never belonged. There was never a group that I belonged in. As an adolescent, I got involved in multiple criminal activities that adolescents would get involved in. We went to liquor stores and we had this little Greek kid and he was very small. He would walk into the store. He would fit just right under the sensors. He’d wear baggy clothes.

We would create some kind of distraction on it. We’d open up a Coke, spill it and something would happen. The store owner or manager, whoever’s monitoring the store will get busy. He would stuff his pockets with nude magazines, with those little tiny bottles of liquor, cigarettes, glue or whatever we could get. He would rush out under the sensors and we would just pay for the Coke or whatever and get out. We would sell that stuff in school.

BYW S4 4 | Herbal Ecstasy
Herbal Ecstasy: Any immigrant family will tell you that the pinnacle of success is becoming a doctor.

 

We always get busted. We were terrible at crime. We had no business being in the crime business. They would put us in detention. Here we are, these little juvenile criminals in detention. Who’s in detention? More juvenile criminals. It was the best business we had ever done. We would get caught again. They didn’t even have second detention to send us to. We’d be going back and forth through that. By the time I was fifteen, I realized, “Crime was not good for me. I am not good at crime. I’m a failure at crime. I will not be doing a crime. I need to go out there and figure out something to do.”

My why was I wanted the wealth. I wanted success. I wanted to climb the ladder. There was not a path for me to do that in those days. I was going to forge a path. I was going to make a path. I was going to go out there with machetes and cut the entire forest down until there was a path for me. That’s what I did. I started sleeping in abandoned buildings, which was much more glorious than it sounds, and on the beach as well. Sometimes abandoned buildings near the beach, because LA was in a building boat.

I quickly learned that if you could watch realtors, when they opened up the buildings, there was a code to these boxes where the keys were held to these mega buildings that they were building. You could put that code in, get the key, sneak in at night, sleep and leave in the morning. By the way, I don’t espouse anybody to do this. It’s highly illegal, but I would do that. I would sleep in this luxurious building, maybe the plumbing didn’t work or the electricity wasn’t on. I wake up in the morning and get out.

Eventually, I got into the electronic music scene. I learned that I could sleep at clubs behind the speakers, which was another great thing for me, in front of the speakers is very loud but behind the speakers is super quiet. I started hanging out there thinking, “I got to learn something about making money.” I had the books. I had the fortitude to read Think and Grow Rich. Og Mandino, Tony Robbins, Wayne Dyer. I read every self-help, personal development, old-timey, new timey, all of those books.

I knew that there was a possibility for me to break the mold, to break out of what one of my mentors called TikTok. To get out of that world and get into a new reality for myself. I didn’t quite know what the path was in those days. Hanging out in the clubs, I realized that there was money being made. I thought to myself, “It’s got to be the promoters.” I tried throwing a couple of parties. I started looking at the promoters. I was like, “These guys are broke as hell. Everywhere where they’re going, they don’t have money.”

They’re bailing before the party’s over, so they don’t have to pay people. They’re not driving fancy cars. These are not wealthy individuals. I thought, “It’s got to be the musicians because musicians make money.” Nobody in those days appreciated DJs. People who played other people’s music. Which led me to how did these things happen? Week after week, night after night. I looked around and I was like, “It’s got to be the property owners’ real estate.”

Nope. These were all break-ins. All these warehouses were borrowed from some big corporation that owns 50 warehouses and whatever. We’d figure out a way to get in then some guy would climb the power pole and steal power. Another guy would turn on the water main and there’d be plumbing. The party would go on until the morning in these warehouses. I thought to myself, “There are these guys that hang out at the door all the time.” They’re well-dressed and have several beautiful women with them. They sometimes have bodyguards. They had nice cars, nice apartments. What are they doing? What do you think they did?

They were the doorman. They were the gatekeeper.

They were the drug dealers. They were the ones that were dealing the illicit substances and subsidizing the failure of everybody else to keep these parties going because it was highly profitable for them. Drugs are a very lucrative business. I thought to myself, “Let me do that.” I realized I was bad at crime. I looked back to my adolescents, my younger self talking to my older self, “You sir, should not be doing crime. You get caught every time.”

I pictured myself in multiple prisons around the world and thought, “No, I can’t do that.” It hit me. What if I could create a legal drug? What if I could create a version of the most popular drug at the time that there was no supply of because it had just been made illegal called ecstasy. I didn’t get the memo that it was impossible. I went out there and I did it. I managed to get myself a girlfriend with no money and nowhere to live.

I figured out how to get a girlfriend. I managed to convince her to let me cook up prototypes in her kitchen while her dad was out at work. I think he was like the principal or the superintendent of some school district or somewhere. The guy would leave. I would sneak in through the back, a window or door or something. I’d come in and cooking it up in the kitchen. Finally, we got a formula that worked. I didn’t have enough money to buy a capsule machine. She and I would be rolling them up into little balls, and all kinds of people would be coming over. We’d be giving them, “Try this, try this, try this.”

Finally, we got a formula that worked. I called everybody I knew and I said, “This is amazing.” I called authors, writers and all types of people. I found them in the yellow pages, in the phone books in those days. I would call people up and ask them for advice, ask them to come try it. When we had a formula that worked, I knew this was my second reason why I was going to be successful. I had to burn my ships again. I did it once when I left home and I had to find a way to sell the stuff, distribution.

It led me back to the clubs. I had a backpack full of these little baggies filled with these little balls that we hand-rolled to look like pills. I had a little insert card in them with a butterfly in those days. I didn’t know what I was going to call it. I walked up to the biggest drug dealer in the club. These days, if you have tattoos on your face, they call you Post Malone and you are a platinum record star, girls love you, you are harmless. You’re probably a TikTok star or YouTube star. You remember in the ‘80s and ‘90s, should you have tattoos on your neck leading to your face, you are most certainly a criminal, a freak or both.

Straight out of prison.

You must have a solid vetting process because there's a big buzz around you when you're super successful. But when trouble pops up, there are only a few who will stick by you. Click To Tweet

Nobody had tattoos on their faces. Tattoos were not visible in the ‘80s unless you were a sailor or a part of a gang or something. This guy had tattoos on his face and on his neck. He had those three little tear things, which I think meant he killed somebody in prison or killed three people or some crazy thing like that. He had the gold teeth. He had the bodyguards. He had the girls around him. It was straight out of the movies. Here I am, this teenage kid with this baggie full of herbal goop, walking up to this man who sells bonafide drugs from a criminal enterprise.

I walked up to him and he’s like, “What do you need kid? I got nothing. We’re all out. We’d been out for days.” I said, “No. I’m not a consumer. I want you to sell my stuff.” He said, “What the heck is wrong with you? Are you a cop?” He’s like looking at me. The guards are patting me down looking for a wire. I said, “No. I’m definitely not a cop, but I want you to sell this stuff.” He’s like, “What is it?” I’m like, “It’s just like ecstasy. It’s fantastic, but it’s legal. It’s herbal. It’s natural. You’re not going to go to jail, sir.”

In that moment, he looked like he was about to kill me. There was no happiness in this man’s face. Although, I don’t think I ever saw happiness in his face. By the way, I write about this in my book, Billion How I Became King Of The Thrill Pill Cult, which was just released. In that moment, I remember thinking to myself, “You are not leaving that spot until this man buys whatever it is that you’re selling. You are either going to die tonight or get him to sell what you’re selling. You are going to make a sale.” I didn’t move. I’m sure he said other things to me.

At that moment, two people walked up to him, two party goers. I remember them asking him and there was a negotiation that went on. He motioned to me, the bodyguards moved aside. I thought, “What’s he pointing at?” He’s pointing at the bag of pills. I handed him the bag of pills. He grabbed the bag. He grabbed my backpack, which was filled with pills and said, “Come back in two hours.” He handed it to them and had an exchange. He said, “By the way, kid, you better not be messing with me. Don’t leave the club.”

I’m having a little bit of a freakout and pretty certain that my young life was going to end there and then in that club. I came back a couple of hours later and I didn’t know what to make of it. The bodyguard motioned me to come forward. The girls moved aside. I moved forward. I’m standing there, sweat and bullets looking at this guy directly in the eyes. I can’t tell what’s going on. I do notice in the background, people are partying, happy and having a good time. I see the empty baggies everywhere. This guy probably emptied out 30 of them himself.

I’m looking at the guy going okay and he looks at me straight in the eyes, the silence for about 30 seconds. He says, “Kid, how soon can you get me more?” All the tension was released at that moment. That was it. It went from 1 drug dealer to 10 to 1,000, to 10,000. We were all over the world. I had all the buildings in Venice beach. We were renting them all. We had telephone operations, telesales operations.

I was making this stuff for $0.25 a unit. We were selling it for $20 retail. Mostly cash business, mostly direct to consumer in those days, completely legal. We got calls from Urban Outfitters, Tower Records, GNC. We were selling in any store you could possibly imagine. Larry Flynt from the Hustler Enterprise, the famed pornographer bought our product to sell to all the sex shops around the world. We were being sold in 32 countries. We were in over 30,000 doors.

What was it called? I’m trying to think about it back then.

The drug dealer looked at me at that moment too. As he was handing it to his first customer said, “What do you call this stuff?” I had a moment where I was like, “Holy crap.” I looked at him and I said, “Herbal Ecstacy,” and the name stuck. It was called Herbal Ecstacy. I remember one day, I was in my teens. We’d been in business for some time and the news broke that we had broken the billion-dollar mark. This was pre-internet, pre-Facebook, pre-mobile phones, pre-access to free data, pre-access to any of that stuff. We had broken $1 billion.

Sam Donaldson was in a limo outside of my office waiting to get me on Nightline. He drove over, the great Sam Donaldson. Montel Williams had sent me tickets to be on his show in New York. CNN wanted to have me on, Wall Street Journal has a reporter outside. We were the hottest thing. Everybody wanted to know how this long-haired teenage kid had broken $1 billion in revenue. We were on the cover of Detail’s magazine. We had two Newsweek covers, LA times, New York Times. You name it, we were there.

The London Observer did a feature piece on the cover. They called me the Willy Wonka of Generation X. I stepped into my office. I would normally sleep 2, 3 hours on those days. I would usually fall asleep on the factory floor, on the floor one my offices, or the call center, anywhere just because I was intent on making this company successful. I remember having a panic attack when the news broke because I did not know what $1 billion meant. Not theoretically or hypothetically, I literally didn’t know how much money $ 1 billion was. I barely knew what $1 million was. That was my panic in those days.

I figured out what it was. I started doing all the publicity. We did all the shows. I write about it in my book, Billion How I Became King Of The Thrill Pill Cult. It was absolutely a wild ride. I wrote about how the mob tried to take over the company at some point. The Japanese mafia, the Yakuza tried to get involved. We had government intervention in the company and it was a wild rollercoaster ride leading to an interesting several years, to say the least.

Why couldn’t somebody just copy it?

A few people tried. We had the formula patented in those days. We had trademarks, but we were first to market. You could copy my product, but you couldn’t copy me. I was the long-haired, rebellious kid doing the TV, doing the media. It’s like Coca-Cola. Can you make brown sugar water and sell it to the masses? Probably. Can you compete with them? Not really. They’ve got first to market and distribution. We had that cinched up.

What’s the best part of building a $1 billion company and the worst part of building a $1 billion company?

The best part is the $1 billion, which has fantastic. Money is great. I tell people often that the greatest injustice you can do to yourself in America is to be poor. The poor pay more for everything. The poor are penalized for being poor. The rich very rarely pay for anything that the poor pay for and are incentivized to be rich. If you believe have a choice, please try to be rich. I’ve been broke and I’ve been extremely wealthy. It is far more fun to be extremely wealthy.

BYW S4 4 | Herbal Ecstasy
Herbal Ecstasy: Disrupt You!: Master Personal Transformation, Seize Opportunity, and Thrive in the Era of Endless Innovation

A good friend of mine talks about the root of all evil, where they say money is the root of all evil. He used to like to say that, “The guy that said money is the root of all evil didn’t have any.” The guy that said, “Money can’t buy you happiness didn’t know where to shop.” It’s true. It’s a blast and super fun. You’re hearing it from somebody who’s done it and who does it.

The worst part of it was trying to figure out who likes you for you, who genuinely wants to be your friend and who wants to be around the fame and fortune. I can only imagine what somebody like Jeff Bezos, the Founder of Amazon or Elon Musk has to go through because it must be very difficult to forge long-term meaningful relationships with people. You must have a solid vetting process because, in those days where you are super happy, super successful, there’s a big buzz around you, everybody wants to be around you.

When trouble pops up, there are only a few that will stick by you. Those are your real friends. That’s the most difficult part is realizing that there are people in the world that are not interested in you, but only in self-enrichment. Having your BS detectors refined to a point where when you reach those levels of success, being able to fair it out, the people that are the fakers is absolutely essential. I, unfortunately, didn’t have that in my teens. As I got older, I’ve developed it and my BS detector has gotten a lot stronger in the years to come after Herbal Ecstacy.

What happened to Herbal Ecstacy? You’re on top of the world and then what?

The government doesn’t seem to like very much when a young Iranian kid, in his teens develops a drug that is unregulated. They don’t like the idea of not being in control. What they did, along with some big pharma companies is they lobbied against us. Laws were passed. Our ingredients were banned. It slowly fizzled out. We had a bunch of different products in those days.

From there, I went on to solve a different problem. I went on to solve the problem with smoking. I figured, “People have been smoking for hundreds of years. Smoking creates smoke char and carbon monoxide. There’s got to be a better way.” It turns out that you can heat any plant substance, tobacco, cannabis, whatever and get the active elements, what you need, the cannabinoids, the THC, the nicotine without burning it, without heating it to 1200 degrees but you had to have the system for regulating the temperature, I patented that.

We developed the first world’s first vape. Digital vaporization was invented by me in those days. I patented it. I wrote the first book on it. That is the forerunner for all the technology that you see in vapes. We invented that industry. It didn’t exist before us. I created those patents. I wrote a book. That company went public. I decided, “I want to get back into the pill business.” At this point, we were having our first kid. I thought I got to figure out a way to make my brain sharper.

I want to be limitless. I want to function optimally, even as I’m aging, because aging is BS. I want to beat it. Maybe I won’t beat it. One day, I’m going to die. It’s all our destiny. Until then, I want to die with my boots on and sword drawn and be a badass. I came up with this pill called Excelerol. We’ve got two versions. One called Excelerol, one called FOCUS+, which was a nootropic, a brain supplement. It’s still available on Amazon. It works great but, in those days, it’s very expensive to produce. We use real ingredients. It was like $120 a box of this stuff.

I was looking for distribution thinking, “How am I going to sell this?” We sold some to GNC. We sold some to the different avenues. This was in the early days where this guy named Jeff Bezos was getting somewhere with his company. You could email Jeff, Jeff@Amazon.com and he would respond. We heard through the grapevine that Jeff Bezos was opening up his platform, the bookstore, Amazon.com to third-party sellers. People like you and me to sell whatever we wanted to on those platforms.

I thought, “That’s cool. That’s timely. Let me try putting this stuff up.” It took me fifteen minutes. The whole process of opening a seller account, listing the product, the whole thing. I put the product up, Excelerol and I went to sleep. I didn’t think much. I thought maybe I’ll get a couple of orders in the next few weeks. I’ll work on this. I woke up the next day we had thousands of orders. “This is interesting. Who is this Bezos guy?” I read up on Jeff Bezos. I learned that he’s not this nerdy Silicon Valley guy that we see that we think he is.

This guy is a beast. This guy’s a leader in the industry. This guy comes from Wall Street. This guy comes from one of the biggest Wall Street firms with expertise in acquiring top talent and bringing cheap money from Wall Street, billions from Wall Street into Silicon Valley. He’s building this platform. This is no joke. This was never a bookstore. This is a key to world domination in global commerce. When I realized that, I decided I was going to devote the next several years of my life to mastering the Amazon platform. That’s what I did. I learned everything there was.

I spend most of my days impacting other people to sell on the Amazon platform. I teach a course where I train people, how to do everything from how do you find the perfect product? How do you sell it on Amazon? Why do you sell it on Amazon? How do you create a business that creates these predictable recurring revenue streams? Which is what I do and I love it.

As I listened to your story, you’re always in search of a better way. You find a better way and then you share it. You did that with the Herbal Ecstacy. You’ve done that every step along the way. Take us into your mind or do you just see a problem? Do you have a problem and you want to solve it, and then that’s what leads you to it? What got you in those different directions?

For me, sometimes that’s the case. My superpower is that I am a predictor of trends and a very accurate one particularly when it comes to consumer products. I know what’s going to be hot five years from now. I know what’s going to be hot ten years from now.

How do you do that?

I don’t know how I do it. I think it’s my obsessive nature. I am an obsessive human being. When I get interested in something, I dive deep. Back in the days, where people read books, I would be at the bookstore. I would be spending thousands of dollars on books. I would not come home any night without having a stack of books on topics that I was interested in. I still do it to this day. I order on Amazon. I will watch videos. I will read books. I will get audible. I will watch the TED Talks. I will dig deep. I will go into my new detail about a topic that I’m interested in.

There is no hack to hard work. You have to get out there and put in the sleepless nights. Click To Tweet

I will look to where the opportunity is. My friend, Jay Samit, who wrote the book, Disrupt You! and his new book, Future-Proofing You. He is a former executive at Sony. He talks about solving the bigger problem. For me, it came naturally the solving the bigger problem because I start with curiosity. I’m not looking for a why. I’m not looking for a reason to do what I’m doing. I’m following what my fascination is. I follow that fascination and see where it takes me. This brings me to what we teach at Amazon Mastery. My FBA seller course, which is FBASellerCourse.com for anyone who’s interested.

I’ve got a free one-hour course that I’m happy to share with any of your audience. What we teach is to find the distribution first, find what the market is hungry for. Find the competitors, find their vulnerabilities, then it’s easy for you to put a product out on the market. It’s low hanging fruit. That’s how you win. If you come out with a product and then you’re like, “How am I going to sell this thing?” That’s the long road.

You’ve got to educate people. Education is the kiss of death when it comes to product launches because you’ve got this thing. You’ve got a mousetrap. It’s better than every other mousetrap out there. I don’t know that as your consumer. You have to spend all your money educating me. What happens while you’re spending money educating me?

Somebody else comes along.

The competitors are selling and selling. People’s attention span is short in the days of TikTok, Instagram and the internet. What most entrepreneurs don’t understand, probably the single most important thing, comes from us being taught. This whole generation is being taught that you matter, that everybody cares about what you’re interested in. Nobody cares about you. People care about one thing. I, they care about themselves. That’s it?

Nobody cares about you, your story, your brands. All that stuff is BS. All they care about is what you’re going to do for them. When you go on Amazon and you buy a product, that person, if it’s one of my students will be an expert at crafting that story in a way whereby the time you get to that listing, you’re already clicking buy it now. The way that product is presented has pre-suaded you to believe that it’s your decision to buy it.

We are decision architects. That’s what we do. The old models of selling are dead. The old models of disruption selling and knocking on people’s doors and shoving stuff down their throats are dead. We’re in the Amazon era where we believe as Robert Cialdini in his book, Pre-Suasion talks about pre-suading people and becoming decision architects.

Give us an example of a product that you did this with so that we can see it in action. Somebody took a product and took it to Amazon after they found their market and it took off.

Excelerol would be a good example of that. FOCUS+ is one of the supplements that we talked about. Another example might be matcha tea. We’re one of the largest producers of matcha tea in the country. We make a specific matcha tea called Matcha DNA. Matcha is a green tea. It’s high in antioxidants. It’s got all these benefits. You can just Google it and learn about all these doctors and celebrities. The Kardashians are drinking it. Gwyneth Paltrow is drinking it. We started off by I’m a big matcha drinker. I thought, “I’d like to buy some matcha. Can I get some on Amazon?”

I looked on Amazon and there wasn’t any. There was a couple of brands that were expensive and they were just the big bulk market ones from Japan. I thought, “Fukushima just happened. I don’t want to buy anything from Japan. There’s radiation out there, allegedly.” I’m going to go with Chinese tea. The Chinese are good at teas. That’s the one thing I am going to buy from China.

I went out there and I found a supplier that produces it for us. We started selling matcha tea on Amazon. Went gangbusters. We sold tons of it. I did my research. We researched that there’s a huge market of people looking to buy matcha tea. There was no supply on Amazon. Now there are a million sellers selling it. We’re still the leader, but there are $ 1 million sellers selling macho.

I thought, “That’s a market that we can feed.” We went out there and we started introducing matcha. This is another thing that I teach my students is that you want to capture all areas of the market. We’ve got multiple brands that we sell in multiple categories. We sell the most expensive one. We sell the cheapest one. We sell the mid-level one. We knock ourselves off.

We sell knockoffs of our own product. We do all kinds of things to make sure that we dominate in that field. That’s what you have to do. If you want to win, you have to find a niche. You have to exploit the weaknesses of your competitors. You have to come in and dominate that niche and maintain, and hold on to that dominance.

When you talk about dominating the niche, how do you do that? What I think I’m hearing you say is, you found something that you were passionate about, went on Amazon and researched it and found that nobody’s dominating this market. “We’re going to go dominate it.” You created a better product, took that product to the market. You found ways to keep competing with yourself to be both sides of the coin almost, to push your brand up. Is that what you did?

That amongst other things. I remember I had at this point been selling on Amazon for a little while and there are certain hacks, and tips and tricks that we teach on how you get your product to rank, how you get your product reviewed within their terms of service. How you can successfully get that product visible and selling on the Amazon platform, that’s what we did.

It’s very interesting because Amazon is a very effective place to sell products. The one thing that I would say to you that maybe I would push back a little bit on in your description is the passionate part. I was interested in the tea. I was a fan of the tea. Maybe you could argue that I was passionate about it or maybe not. I’m thinking, “I’m passionate about hanging out with my family and my kids.” I’m passionate about all kinds of stuff that doesn’t make me money. It’s one of the most common myths that people tell you.

Scott Adams talks about it in his book, How To Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big. Scott Adams is the writer of Dilbert, which is probably one of the most famous comic books in the world. Passion is something that they pitch people because they don’t want to tell them that they’re a little bit smarter than that. When they ask these big entrepreneurs, they say, “What’s your secret?” I go, “It was just passion.”

They don’t want to tell you that, “You know what? I’m an aggressive cutthroat. I cut three guys below me and I’m just a little bit smarter than you. I got access to a trust fund. You’re never going to make the billions that I make.” No one’s going to tell you that. It doesn’t look good for Mark Zuckerberg to tell you those things or Bill Gates to tell you those things. Instead, what they’re going to tell you is, “You just got to have a lot of passion and drive in life.” I know people all the time that have become billionaires, multi-millionaires from products that they do not give a care about.

BYW S4 4 | Herbal Ecstasy
Herbal Ecstasy: Inspire somebody to stop selling their hours and let their money work for them intelligently.

 

The passion part of the component, it’s nice to have. I’m passionate about a nice steak meal, a nice rare fillet mignon grass-fed steak. It’s not going to make any money. I’m passionate about tea. I’m passionate about doing this stuff. I’m passionate about talking with you on this show. This is fun. This is a great show. I’m excited to be here. You have to separate that from the activities that make you money. Making money as a system, it’s a formula. It has very little to do with what you are passionate about. If you’re interested in something, your interest, your fascination in something opens up a pathway, a journey to things that could make you money, but it’s not a precursor for success or wealth.

You’ve separated passion out from your business because you can be passionate about so many different things, but interest is definitely necessary or is it interest necessary?

Not really. I know lots of people who make money doing things that they have very little interest in. I know a guy who runs a very high-end fashion brand of women’s clothing. He doesn’t wear that. Every time I see him, I’m like, “Where’d you get your clothes?” He’s like, “H&M, Ross.” I’m like, “You run this like multi-million-dollar clothing company.” He’s like, “I don’t like that. I like to wear sweats.” He’s like, “I get good sweats at Ross and they’re 50% off.”

What do you see then as the key ingredient to making money?

I don’t think there’s any key ingredient. I don’t think there’s anyone thing. You got to have grit. You got to have resilience. The one thing I would say that’s key is you got to be able to go out there and take some punches. You got to be able to be knocked down. The people I see coming through my Amazon FBA Seller course, the people that come through my Amazon Mastery course, the ones that come in with the attitude of, “I’m going to throw my chips on the table. I’m going to see where that little roulette ball lands and maybe it’ll land on one of my numbers.” Those are the ones that fail.

The ones that come in and are like, “You see that nail, I’m going to drive that thing through that piece of wood.” Maybe I’ll use a hammer, if that doesn’t work, I’ll use a sledgehammer. If that doesn’t work, I’m going to shoot that nail. I’m going to hit it with a rock. I’m going to drill through it and then put it in. It doesn’t matter. That nail is going in. If you go to business with that attitude, you are going to succeed. You are not there to try. There is no participation trophy in business. There are people out there who will eat your lunch.

One of my favorite quotes is that “While you are sleeping, your enemies are planning your demise.” I write that quote in my book, which is one of my absolute favorite ones. It keeps you on your toes. You got to always be on your toes. The world is predatory. There’s no sleeping in the Savannah. You’ve got to be always on your toes, but more so than that, there’s no hack to hard work. There’s no hack to getting out there and doing the work.

There are all kinds of people on social media, preaching things. They want to sell you a course. They don’t want you to get rich. Even a lot of the people out there who sell their Amazon courses, mine, by the way, which is free and I will give it to you if you reach out to me. They don’t tell you what they’re doing to make money. They tell you what they want to tell you for you to think you’re going to make money, but them make money off you by selling you whatever it is they’re selling.

It’s like the stock market guys. I was a highly leveraged commodities trader. I did extremely well. I traded hundreds of millions of dollars in commodities, gold, oil, pork bellies, all that stuff, coffee futures for years. I tried all the different courses. I realized at a certain point that the guy selling the courses are making more money, selling the courses than they are in the markets. I was making more money than them in the markets. It’s like that. There is no hack to hard work. You got to get out there. You got to put in the sleepless nights. I paid my dues. I’ve slept on the factory floor.

I’ve gone from millions to a billion to broke to millions again. I’m continually on that path of learning of self-discovery of figuring out what I need to do to take myself to the next level. I have no illusions to think that I don’t have to wake up tomorrow and work hard at something. The fact is I’ve put myself in a place where I can relax and do the stuff that I love to do. It’s only because I spent all those years doing all that stuff that I didn’t want to do.

I love what you’re saying because you’re not sugarcoating it. Here’s what I have been thinking about as I’ve been listening to you. You said this at least twice. You said, “I burned the ships.” How critical was that to you having the motivation, the grit and the desire to get up every day and go do it when things didn’t look good?

As my friend says, “You got to go all in.” I don’t believe in half-assing things. I love watching these historical shows where you see these historical battles. You see these guys. These were guys who most people don’t know. The Vikings controlled England for nearly a thousand years, maybe longer. They ruled England. England was ruled by Vikings for 1,000 or more years. You look at that and you’re like, “What did they do?” This is before even naval navigation. These guys went on these wooden boats that they carved out from trees, left everything behind. They went out. Their swords were drawn for glory. That was it.

They burned all their ships. They were there to win. They would colonize places where they landed. That’s what you got to do. I think people have to be intelligent about the decisions that they make. If you’ve got a family, if you’ve got to feed the kids or whatever, you can’t leave everything and go off on some crazy venture. You need to have stability but it’s that stability that’s going to allow you to have the bandwidth to succeed.

You need to have stability that'll allow you to have the bandwidth to succeed. Click To Tweet

We talk about foundational thinking in my course. I tell people, you got to have four pillars, a four-legged table much more secure. Three-legged table, not so good. Two-legged table, not good at all. One-legged table, you’re a tripod. The first leg should be a career, a job, a trust fund, whatever it is money where you don’t have to worry about eating. You don’t have to worry about your family being taken care of. You don’t have to worry about if you want to take the wife out for a nice dinner, that it’s going to give you problems or the girlfriend or the husband or whatever.

The second pillar, you should have some money and cashflow-positive real estate. I tell people this all the time, “You got to buy at the right time when the market conditions are right. You got to find great deals, but you can do this with little or no money. I’ve bought houses on credit cards. I bought houses on eBay. There are all kinds of things you can do, but leaning towards cashflow positive real estate.” If you can’t get into it for whatever your restrictions are, you can at least start learning about it.

The third one is compounded interest. Why is Warren Buffett one of the wealthiest men in the world? Berkshire Hathaway is one of the most successful funds out there. It’s because of compounded interest. He’s been investing since he was a kid. If you leave money in and you compound interest over time, that’s going to add up to something. The fourth pillar, the fourth foundation, is an e-commerce business. I recommend Amazon. Amazon’s what I do. It’s one of the best, but it’s not the only one. We teach people how to sell on Etsy, Walmart, eBay, Poshmark, all these different marketplaces that are popping up. If you have these four pillars, these four foundations, nothing could ever shake your world.

You wake up in the morning, “The real estate market tanked. No problem, you’re cashflow anyway. It’s okay. It’ll get back up. We wait for a cycle.” “The boss fired me. No problem. You got your compounding interest money. You got your real estate.” “All those stuff failed. You got your e-commerce business,” and vice versa.

If you have those foundations, you might be unsettled for a little bit in life, but you’ll never be knocked out. If you look at these guys, Elon Musk, Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, look at what they do best, it’s diversification. It’s building those foundations. Those guys have hundreds of pillars. Do you think if Amazon went down tomorrow that Jeff Bezos would be crying? He’s got so much money. He’s got so many things he’s going. These guys are good. There is no one thing that’s going to shake their world. That’s what you have to do. You’ve got to build your life in a way where you can never have a day that’s that bad.

What is the chain that keeps you going? You’ve already done this multiple times. You’ve got the money. You’ve got the stuff. You’ve got the family. What’s keeping you motivated? I can feel your energy. I can feel you’re fired up. Ready to go fight, create something and go do something. What is it that’s keeping you going?

That’s a good question. I spend most of my time traveling with my family. We go to all great places. I’m a family man. We collect cars. I collect exotic cars, Porsches. Me and my son, my seven-year-old like to go out into the garage and fix these cars. We don’t know what we’re doing, but it’s fun to look under the hood and take a look at that. Spending time with my family is what fires me up. It’s what excites me. Outside of that, at work, I get excited about two things. One is when somebody buys a product that I’ve built, designed or developed.

The second is when somebody calls me up and says, “Shaahin, I made an extra 60,000 this month on Amazon. Thanks to you. I can quit my job. I can walk in tomorrow and tell my boss to beat it.” That excites me, when I can inspire somebody to stop selling their hours and let their money work for them intelligently. I’ve got students that have 3, 4 Vas, virtual assistants in Nicaragua, Venezuela, in South and Central America, in South Asia, Southeast Asia, working for them, running their business and they’re on the beach. They’re traveling. Those VAs are running that business. While they’re sleeping, they’re making money.

If I can empower people to have that freedom, I always say, “Freedom is the ultimate luxury. The new luxury is time.” If you have all that money and you can’t take a break, have a nice lunch with your significant other, take your kid to the park, do whatever you want, when you want with who you want, you’re not really wealthy. That’s why the cost of a private jet somewhere is exponentially more than a first-class ticket on any airline because it offers you the ultimate freedom.

In my world, what I would say is your energy comes from when you find something better and then you share it. People love it because they appreciate that you shared that better way with them and it’s brought them results. It worked. It was better. I feel the same way when I can share something that’s better and people love it. Even a better restaurant, even a better anything. “Have you been to this place?” They love it. It brings me a lot of joy. I can see you doing that same thing on a bigger scale. The last question for you. What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve ever given or the best piece of advice that you’ve ever gotten?

As far as advice goes, the best advice I’ve ever gotten is topical and it’s time-sensitive. The advice that I got as a young person might not apply now. With that said, in very general terms, I could say, don’t work in a vacuum. Build a mastermind or join a mastermind. Like with my Amazon Mastery course, we have a mastermind where people sign up with us. They’re immediately with a hundred other people that are selling on Amazon. Find a mentor. Getting somebody who is where you want to be and incentivizing them to conspire for your success could be the ultimate hack to getting there a lot faster.

If people are reading and they want to get in touch with you, how is the best way for them to do that?

You can email me directly. We have the one-hour Amazon Mastery course. I’ll offer that to all your audience for free. It’s normally $200. We’ll give it to them for free. Just use the code WHY and email me at DarkZess@Gmail.com. That’s my direct Gmail address. I get emails to zero every day. I will answer all emails directly. You can also check us out at www.FBASellerCourse.com or ShaahinCheyene.com. My book Billion How I Became King Of The Thrill Pill Cult just dropped. You can get that on Amazon and check that out. We also do a show. We’ve got a podcast called Hack and Grow Rich.

If you want to check out Hack and Grow Rich, make sure to like, and subscribe to us, dislike us, whatever you want to do. Give us some love, give us some attention. You can get us on Stitcher, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, wherever podcasts are heard. Gary, if someone’s reading this on our channel, how can they get ahold of you and subscribe to the content you’re producing?

BYW S4 4 | Herbal Ecstasy
Herbal Ecstasy: Love the path you’ve been on, including the ups and downs.

 

Have them come to WHYInstitute.com. The best thing for them to do would be to go Discover Their Why. They can use the code Podcast50 and Discover Their Why for half price. It’s only $47. You’ll see all that you need there. You can connect with me there as well.

Thanks for having me on.

Thanks for being here. I love the path that you’ve been on, the ups, the downs, the stories, the realness to it. You’re not trying to sell something that requires no work because that doesn’t exist. If you were to have told me, “I’ll do everything for you. It’s not going to be any work for you. Give me your $1,000, and you’ll be rich.” Not a real story. You’re like, “You’re going to have to go work your butt off. You’re going to have to put the hours in. There’s no substitute for burning the ships and jumping in with both feet, going all in and getting it done.” Thank you so much for being here. I appreciate it. I’ll look forward to reading your book.

It has been fun. Thank you so much.

It’s time for our Guess Their Why segment. I want to think about Walt Disney. What do you think Walt Disney’s why is? He imagined a place where people were happy. He imagined Disneyland, Disney World and he built it when people told him he shouldn’t. He wanted to contribute to the youth. He wanted to contribute to people’s imagination. He wanted them to have a great experience and to have a great time. I believe that Walt Disney’s why is to contribute. To contribute to a greater cause, add value and have an impact on people’s lives.

When I think about him, he was able to surround himself with other people that he brought with him. His brother, Roy, who was the how guy, but lifted them up. He lifted up the people around them to be creative, to be fun and to be funny. That’s what somebody with the why of contribute would be. What do you think Walt Disney’s why is?

If you love this episode, if you love this show, make sure to go to the platform that you’re reading on and rate us, give us a review because it’ll help us to bring the why to the rest of the world, so that we can impact and help one billion people discover, make decisions and live based on their why. Thank you for reading, and we will see you next week.

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About Shaahin Cheyene

BYW S4 4 | Herbal EcstasyBorn in Iran Tehran in 1975, Shaahin Cheyene is an award-winning writer, filmmaker and a prosperous businessman who is committed to share his enthusiasm to accelerate intelligence through his most recent company and products. Cheyene is the CEO and Chairman of brain nutrition start-up Accelerated Intelligence.

As a teenager in the 1990’s, Cheyene jump initiated his career by inciting and leading the “Smart Drug Movement” with his invention of Herbal Ecstacy, a refreshing, herbal supplement made to energize the body. He realized early in his career about guerilla branding and he still makes use of it to sell his products today. Shaahin Cheyene has developed over 200 award-­winning products, selling millions of units globally. After pioneering the breakthrough components for Herbal Ecstacy, he extended his company’s offerings with Ecstacy Cigarettes, an herbal substitute for tobacco that many have put to use to quit smoking. It went on to become the most effective herbal cigarette on the earth.

In the early 2000’s, Cheyene’s career naturally progressed and matured. He started to work with several major pharmaceutical organizations to broadcast the technologies and great things about herbal medicines to the mainstream. In this process, Cheyene was accountable for the proliferation of several plant medicines now applied to popular naturopathic health regimens.

In 2000, Cheyene invented, branded and developed a revolutionary new medicine delivery system called the Vapir Vaporizer. His creation quickly spearheaded the burgeoning vaporization industry. He also published the definitive book on the science of Vaporization, Vapor: The Art and Science of Inhaling Pure Plant Essences. Shaahin Cheyene credits the production of his top-selling health supplement Excelerol to his career-long love of naturopathic herbal solutions. He remains true to his objectives to nurture and assist in improving the health of everyone with herbal alternatives to harsh chemicals.

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Podcast

How To Simplify Your Life Through Entrepreneurship With Yaro Starak

BYW 43 | Simplify Life

 

Yaro Starak believes that it’s possible to simplify life and business from a positive angle and make everything easier. Yaro is an angel investor and the co-founder of InboxDone.com, an email management company focused on simplifying processes for entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and real estate agents.

 

The digital world has grown massively over the years, but even before, Yaro knew that it was the right path for his entrepreneurial journey. In this conversation with Dr. Gary Sanchez, he talks about how he gravitated toward doing an online business out of the belief that it guarantees sustainable growth. Join in and learn how Yaro simplifies everything he touches – from business processes to the process of life itself.

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Listen to the podcast here:

How To Simplify Your Life Through Entrepreneurship With Yaro Starak

Every week, we talk about 1 of the 9 whys and then we bring on somebody with that why so you can see how their why has played out in their life. In this episode, we’re talking about the why of simplify. This is a very rare why. Only 5% of the population has this why and if this is your why, you’re one of the people that makes everyone else’s life easier. You break things down to their essence, which allows others to understand them better and see things from the same perspective. You’re constantly looking for ways to simplify, from recipes you’re making at home to business systems you’re implementing at work. You feel successful when you eliminate complexity and remove unnecessary steps.

I’ve got a great guest for you. His name is Yaro. He is the co-founder of InboxDone.com, an email management company with a team of 25-plus serving clients, including restaurant owners, venture capitalists, accountants, doctors, lawyers, real estate agents, car retailers, online coaches and more. He has made 30-plus Angel investments in tech startups including Steezy, LeadIQ, Fluent Forever, Fitbod and NutriSense. He has property investments in Canada and Ukraine, and in partnership, built a 3.6-megawatt solar farm. During the mid-2000s, Yaro sold his first company, BetterEdit.com, then built an online education company BlogMastermind.com, selling over $2 million of his books and online courses. Yaro, welcome to the show.

Thank you for having me, Gary. You read my full intro. I appreciate that.

I was a little bit worried about saying your last name. How do you say your name?

I generally go with my first name like Oprah and Madonna. Yaro is just the way I go out there. It’s Yaro Starak if you do want to pronounce the second half. It’s unique enough that you don’t meet many Yaro’s in the world. I’ve been able to pretty much own that line in Google search results for most of my online career. I continue to spread the word of one name.

Bring our audience up to speed on you. Tell us a little bit about your story. Where were you born? How did you get into the business? How did you end up building the blogging organization mastermind that you have now?

It’s funny because I’m new to your breakdown of these nine concepts but simplify does resonate as I’ve discovered I am, especially if I look back on my early motivation as a young man in terms of what to do with my life. I do recall I was eighteen when the dot-com boom was happening. I was born and raised in Brisbane, Australia to Canadian parents. I’ve always had a connection with both countries, Canada and Australia. One thing that was very clearly different from my own personality compared to pretty much everyone I knew at the time was I didn’t want a job.

I wanted to be an entrepreneur but it wasn’t for becoming crazy rich another billionaire out there or even hundreds of millions. It was more because I saw that as the pathway for a simpler life. It meant I could create a business that was a vehicle to financially support myself. I would have a fun and fulfilling role within that company. It would be simple. I didn’t see myself being one of those entrepreneurs, fourteen-hour days, wearing all the hats. I wanted to build a system and find a function I could perform that was creatively stimulating but also generated a good return for my effort.

I didn’t know what that was. I’m saying all this now in hindsight. At eighteen, that was like, “I just need to pay my rent and move out of my parents’ house.” I did go to university only because everyone else went to university. It was, “What else can I do? I didn’t want a job.” I studied Business Management but to be honest, the main breakthrough was the fact that I got access to the internet on a high-speed connection for the very first time at university. Because everyone was building online businesses around the world, it was when CrazyPets.com were happening, I gravitated to doing something online. I did build a hobby website that eventually did make a little bit of money at that time.

Focus on that thing that you’re passionate about and build yourself around it. Click To Tweet

That’s where I got the start. I have to marry that with reading a few key books certainly around money. There were the usual ones like Think and Grow Rich, The Richest Man in Babylon and The One Minute Millionaire. In terms of the business side, there was The E-Myth by Michael Gerber. That’s a great book for looking for the simplest role if you want to move yourself up from being the technician of the company to owning the company and having your team and the systems run for you. To me, that seemed like the ultimate goal. I wasn’t sure what business that would be but reading those books got me jazzed and excited.

Eventually, towards the end of my degree, I started that first company you mentioned called BetterEdit, which was the first time I implemented a simple business model. I’ll go over it in brief. It was an essay and thesis editing service. I had contract editors and a website. I built the website myself. Basically, a student would come in with a paper. You know students are last-minute. They want it to be just proofread, edited and give them some feedback. I get the job and pass it off to the contractor. The contractor would pass it back to the student. I take a cut of that transaction and that was the business model. It’s very simple. I grew that to my first full-time income after graduating from university.

That’s when I tasted what we now call The 4-Hour Workweek. Tim Ferriss has dominated that phrase. Before he even wrote that book, that’s what I was going for and you needed a simple business model to make that realistic. That was my goal and I achieved it around maybe 24 or 25 years old. It took me about five years from being in university and afterward to create that lifestyle that I was looking for. Everything since then was born from that motivation. Obviously, bigger numbers since then but that was the first time where I tasted that freedom and experience and built a simple lifestyle for following my personality type.

Let’s talk about that. I know you did a lot of traveling. Were you building businesses as you were traveling?

I was running everything. The essay editing company was the first one where I got to experience the functioning of a remote CEO or a digital nomad as I preferred to call it at that time. It was funny because it’s so common now. It doesn’t sound as special as it felt the first time I got to do it, the very first time where I was somewhere else on the planet. I left Australia and I did a full-circle trip around the world in 2008. That was the first time I traveled as an independent adult. I went twelve months the entire year. I went from Brisbane all the way through America, then Europe, then back through Asia and the Middle East and back into Australia.

I lived in 26 different cities. Airbnb wasn’t quite available but there was a Vrbo. I lived in a lot of apartments. I was a local and ran my business. I remember launching a course. This was when my education business was starting as well. I had a partner in one of the courses. He was back in Brisbane. I was sitting in a rented apartment in a city called Vouliagmeni. It’s an hour outside of Athens, Greece. We were sitting there. I was writing emails to sell a digital product. In some ways, in a very simple business model, you would sell a digital course. You create it once and keep selling it. I had an email list and newsletter. That’s the predominant source of new customers we had.

My job was as a writer. As we go back to my goal as an eighteen-year-old, I didn’t realize it at that time, but I eventually realized I was a content producer and that’s what I enjoyed. That was the core skill that I developed and I looked for business models that could leverage that skillset. When it came to digital education, I could create courses, sell with an email newsletter and reach an audience by writing blog posts. I did all that. This was after I exited that essay editing company and focused 100% on my education business. That was the tool that allowed me to make more money while traveling than I spent, which to me was a little bit of a mind-blowing experience.

Certainly in my twenties then, most people were in jobs and would save whatever it was $10,000 of their salary to go on that two-week holiday that they might have. I was comparing it to the lifestyle I was leading, coming home with more money than I spent. I spent probably about $50,000 on that round-the-world trip, all said and done with the flights, accommodation and food. That was validating because, I’ll be honest, before that one, I was in my late teens and early twenties, I was not making that kind of money. I didn’t have that kind of freedom yet so I wasn’t sure if I was on the right path. That round-the-world trip was a very validating experience.

For selfish reasons, I have to ask this question because I’m going in the opposite direction. I was a dentist for 32 years where I was tied down to an office where I couldn’t leave. I can’t be a dentist and live in Greece. I’m sure there are a lot of people reading that are thinking, “He did what I want to do.” Me too. Coming up, that’s what I want to do, to be able to work from the road from different parts of the world. Take us through picking your next spot, finding your place there, getting acclimated and meeting the people. What is that like?

BYW 43 | Simplify Life
Simplify Life: No one else controls the decision of how you interpret things. It’s only up to you. You could make choices and recognize opportunities for change and growth.

 

It’s wonderful, amazing, at times, incredibly lonely, and you can be quite lost. There is a dichotomy there. Initially, if you’re taking with you the thing that you’re passionate about, and this was the insight for me, the work that I did was and still remained the thing I was most focused on. I could sit in a cafe and write that blog post, newsletter or coach a student. I remember doing that in Rome, Paris and Dubai. My function didn’t change. That was amazing to look at a different scenery and be traveling all the time while doing the same work that I always enjoy. It’s a blessing to have that experience.

At the same time, especially doing that perhaps in my twenties, a lot of it was while I was single as well. Where I went next was entirely up to me. It wasn’t a financial choice like so many people’s decisions about traveling. It’s like, “Where can I afford it? How long can I go?” This was I could travel in perpetuity to any place in the world roughly and that is a massive amount of opportunity which can be somewhat overwhelming for me. I’ll be very transparent here too, I was dealing with a fear of flying a lot of this time too. I was forcing myself and said, “I’m not going to be held back by that. I want to see the world.” It’s amazing when you travel for an entire year, you go on a lot of flights and that helps deal with that fear of flying like the immersion therapy.

I tended to make decisions based on a little mix of I might know someone. I’ve got family in Toronto. I know people in Vancouver. I’ve been to Hawaii when I was younger and traveling with family. I loved it. I wanted to go back. I’m a huge fan of Japanese animation. I always wanted to go to Japan. When you look what’s closer, I was afraid of flying. I was traveling via train in Europe for a while. It was good too and a little easier on the anxiety. It’s a little bit random. As I got older, I also made decisions based on conferences and events to go to as well. That would become an excuse, “I want to go to this city because this event is running a mastermind conference.”

It’s a completely open book. That year, especially the first time I did this, it was places I wanted to see. I’m opening up sometimes a map and seeing what’s close by and what I would like to do. Things like what’s the accommodation. You want to make sure you have a good internet connection. You look at your schedule like, “Are you about to do a lot of maybe podcasts or things where you might need a setup. You might want to stay in one city for a month to do some serious work. A good example of that is I created one of my courses while I was traveling. That’s difficult to do if you constantly have travel days.

One time, I created half a course while spending a month in Vancouver. I just have one apartment. I didn’t move around. I sat there and had my studio at home and made video content. Before that, I traveled from San Francisco, Japan and Hong Kong. That was in rapid succession. One week here, one week there. Making a course during that time would have been very challenging but it’s amazing. I strongly recommend it if you get a chance to do it if you’re moving towards it. You’re not a dentist practicing every day anymore, I’m assuming. You could be recording this show with me anywhere in the world, no doubt.

Tell me about the lonely aspect of it. You weren’t married at that time. I don’t know if you’re married now.

I’m not married now. I have a steady girlfriend now but I didn’t have it for a lot of those travels.

You were there by yourself, which could be lonely. Being in a big city by yourself with millions of people around is still a pretty lonely experience.

I’ll be honest with you. A few years ago, I was in Ukraine for the first time. I decided to stay a little longer because I was building the solar plant. It was a bit of a random decision. I won’t go into that story. I needed to stay a little longer for three months for that. I remember sitting in this Airbnb that had no living room. It was a bedroom, kitchen and bathroom. It’s very Eastern European style. I was thinking, “I don’t speak the language. I’ve just made new contacts and friends that I don’t know that well, but they’re part of this solar project.” I’m completely isolated. I’m doing the same thing a little bit over and over again, going to the same coffee shop, writing something, rinse and repeat.

Look into problems that hinder you from the lifestyle you want and create solutions for those. Click To Tweet

There was this moment where I was like, “If I died in the apartment, I don’t know if anyone would come and look for me.” It’s more of a thought, “How long would it take for them to find me?” That is a fear you go through, especially in my early twenties and maybe even late twenties. It was a sense of loneliness because I was also looking for companionship around my interests in a city. That was harder to find anywhere. Now, it’s a little easier because I feel like more people are online entrepreneurs. Whether you’re an influencer or an eCommerce marketer, we all have that connection to doing something online.

When I was doing this, this was in the mid-2000s. It was rarer and it wouldn’t be easy for me to land in a city, send out a tweet and potentially go and find events and meet people. There was a lot of that sense of, “I’m different from everyone else.” When you say the 5% of my personality type, I certainly felt that. Before, there have been other personality profiles that I’ve done. I’ve often been in the 2% to 4% version that’s quite rare, which makes you feel different from other people, but that’s a limiting belief I feel too. If I was pushing myself to integrate more locally, I would certainly make more friends

The challenge is friendships like most relationships are built over time. This is a real catch with perpetual travel. If you’re even just a month in one city and then you move to the next, you might have met someone and have one coffee session or meetup event. Maybe another 2nd or 3rd time but then you’re gone again. You haven’t built any kind of real solid relationships there with anyone, friends or romantically. There’s a real sense of being this vessel moving with all these other people living normal lives and you’re experiencing a little bit of their culture and little interactions. I wouldn’t want to do that forever but it is an amazing experience that I do cherish.

I benefit from being an introvert in this sense too where I’m quite self-contained. My girlfriend is extremely extroverted. She would need to be with people all the time. The way I’ve traveled in the past would have been super depressing for her, where I’ve been super fine sitting in a cafe. I would go 4 or 5 days without having a conversation with anyone other than the person I was ordering my tea, baked goods or something new I was trying at a restaurant. That lends itself to solo travel well. You push yourself as much as you want to. If you want to meet lots of people, you stay with the backpackers, then you can integrate with more people that way. For me, it was more about finding people like me and that has become a lot easier with the internet.

What was the motivation you had for perpetual travel? Why did you on that trip?

It might be a cliché that people born in Australia are travelers because there’s nowhere else to go other than Australia and New Zealand, which is close by. They’re known as travelers. Everywhere you go, there are Aussies out and about. With that being said, there’s more to it than that. You look at why you even have a business and why you’re trying to get financial freedom. I benefited early on from creating a business that did grant me a lot of time. I got to ask myself the question, “If I’m not driven entirely by paying my bills, rent each day, and having to work 9:00 to 5:00 to do that, I’ve opened up the door to all this extra time. What do I want to do with it? What do I value beyond meeting my basic needs and travel and seeing the world and even experiencing cultures necessarily from a distance sometimes?” Living in the city but not being of the city is still a high priority.

It depresses me sometimes when I think about how big the world is. You never get to see even a tiny percentage of what is out on our planet. I love the traveling and the nature aspect of it. I love the food and just the idea of you’ve never walked down the street and discovering something unique. The cultural aspect like going to Japan. Even reading the Wikipedia page about the place you’re in and learning about the history and what’s interesting to the culture compared to your culture. Geography, history and cultural elements are all fascinating and interesting to me. Most people would agree that they are the same. Maybe not most people but a good chunk of us. They don’t get the chance to do that.

As an entrepreneur, we are lucky in that way. Hopefully, most of us can travel. Besides that, maybe it’s a product of my upbringing as well. I have immigrant parents who talked a lot about my father during World War II in Ukraine, but then in Venezuela as a refugee, and then to Canada and then later to Australia. They’re talking a lot about different cultures, races and histories. My mother is similar, coming from Eastern Europe, Israel, Canada and then Australia. Perhaps because I’ve been a Canadian living in Australia, I thought I was born there. I still always felt like that. I didn’t identify with any one country as, “This is my country.” I saw myself as a citizen of the world and not necessarily 100% nationalistic towards a country. I’ve felt comfortable being somewhere else and observing other cultures.

You were able to develop multiple different businesses in different areas. Many of them worked out well for you so that you could have this freedom. Tell us about your email business.

BYW 43 | Simplify Life
Simplify Life: Entrepreneurship is a pathway to use your terminology for a simpler life.

 

InboxDone.com is the name of the company. It’s born from me simplifying that editing business all those years. I talked about how I finally was able to travel. The truth was before I took some of those early trips, I couldn’t travel at all because I was trapped in my inbox. This was also before we had the BlackBerry. It was just on the horizon. That was the first mobile phone with email. The first experience I had of traveling with this essay company was I went to Sydney for one of my trips. I was in and out of internet cafes all day because I had to go check my email. If there was a rush job from a student, we had to process it to get it back on time.

I didn’t have a holiday. I lived in the internet cafe for long chunks of time. I was like, “This doesn’t work.” That forced me to go, “I need to outsource and delegate this customer service, email management role,” and I did. I hired a friend at that time who was just about to have her first baby. I trained her on the role. It was an experiment. I didn’t know whether I could hand over something as personal as email that I felt was my baby. It was what I was doing for my business since day one, but it turned out to be not as hard as I thought.

It’s so life-changing because it took about 3 or 4 weeks to fully train her on the role. There was a Monday where I woke up and my default was to roll out of bed, turn on the computer and check the inbox. I did that but the inbox was empty. For a moment, I was like, “Is something broken?” I forgot she had cleared it before I’ve woke up. I’m a late riser and that was like, “What do I do with the rest of my day?” It was a miracle. There were sales coming in, I was making an income, she was processing the jobs, and the contract editors were doing the work. I effectively built this simple system that removed me from the process of running this business.

Fast forward to my education company, I had someone do my email virtually from day one once there was enough cashflow to justify that. It’s like going first-class. I can never go back to managing my own email. It would be too painful. That education business grew. We eventually had three people doing 24-hour email support and managing most of that email. Finally, I was like, “I want to start a new business.” For the longest time, it has been at the back of my mind that this is a service other entrepreneurs need. They tend to use their email as a to-do list. It’s a massive time-suck. It’s two hours in the morning and two hours at night before they go to bed. They kiss the kids to sleep and then they do another two hours before they go to sleep.

I always thought there was a need for this. It wasn’t until I was at a networking event in Vancouver and the entrepreneur next to me, we were all sharing what we’re spending the most time on and she was talking about how email was such a big waste of time for her. The most amount of hours she would spend is on email. I turned to her and said, “I only do my email once a month. I go into this Yaro folder and there are 5 or 10 messages that are specifically for me and I answer them. All the other messages are handled by someone else.” She was like, “How is that even possible? That shouldn’t work.”

That was when I finally said, “I need to test this business idea.” I call it MVS, Minimum Viable Service test. I had inbox managers for my education company. One of them is Claire. I said to her, “I want to launch this new company. You should be my cofounder because you have the skillset to deliver email management. I have an audience. We can test the idea if we can get 1 or 2 test customers to figure out the business model and see if they like the service, then we can scale from there if it works.” She agreed to be the first inbox manager, although she knew over time that we would hire more people to do that. That’s what we did.

We went to my customer database and said, “Would anyone here be interested in the same people who manage my email to manage your email?” A couple of people put up their hands and say, “Yes, we’re interested.” We did some discovery calls and two of them became customers. They’re both still with us, which is amazing. We took over managing email for one person who was in a mental health disorder business and another one who is in a political podcast and information product business, around that space. It’s very different from my topic. It was a validation that everyone has email and everyone would benefit from not doing it so we scaled from there.

The simple answer is it’s a similar business model to my essay editing company. We have a team of specialist contractors that we train up on how to manage email. They’re very good with English and attention to detail. We teach them systems for managing email and working with a client. Since then, we’ve been all full-growth mode, trying to get the word out there to as many people as we can. What I loved about it is the type of clients that have come our way. It has been bizarre to get from a candy store owner to car retail, the venture capitalists, Angel investors, dentists, doctors and lawyers. It’s typical and what you used to be. I’m assuming when you were a dentist, you probably had a lot of emails too.

Between patients, you run in there, file through it, answer and delete.

You are in power and you can choose to be happy. Click To Tweet

That’s everyone’s story. It’s amazing how we’re all driven by it. It has been a fun business to run and talk about. For a lot of people, they don’t even think about outsourcing as part of their life and it simplifies people’s lives. I love doing that.

Take us through that. Let’s say I was your client. I call you and say, “Yaro, I hate my email. I need to get some help with this.” What do you do? How do you teach someone to answer in my voice? How does that work?

We have a process. We call it a handover period because as you can imagine, there is a need to learn how to manage your email. You need to get comfortable with the human being who is not you going in there. More often than not, we’re not writing as you. We’re coming in as your email assistant. We’re like a receptionist, a part of your team or an executive assistant who specializes in email. We do try and match your voice. We call it building a knowledge base. We’ll go in and learn what your most common situations are that come through email and how you currently reply to them. We’ll build templates, rules and systems from that.

An email comes in and it triggers an action like this email from this client needs this customer record to be updated or this information passed to them. It’s maybe even something simple like an email comes in and needs to go to the webmaster to update the website. You seriously shouldn’t be the person who is forwarding those emails back and forth between the staff or updating the task management software. We do that too. We try and close the loop of email and all tasks associated with email. Only the most important things that you need to be involved with or know about are presented to you. That can be simply a Slack, Microsoft Teams message, WhatsApp message or a phone call, however you like to be updated on what’s going on or what’s urgent for you.

We try and take 95% or more ideally of your email off your plate. It’s different for every person. The most challenging part of this process is letting go. Most people who are in their inbox can’t stop going back to their inbox to see what’s happening there. We have to train our clients not to be pinching the email before we even get there to do it for you. There’s the trust aspect especially with certain businesses like doctors with health information, venture capitalists with financial information, and lawyers with legal information.

We always have to build a system about siloing information so it’s kept secure, separate and private. Some businesses are very easy as candy store owners. There’s not much secret information going on there. It’s just the case of making sure that emails are answered quickly, the appropriate information is given, also people have followed up with and could be potential customers. You don’t want to miss out on them if you don’t send them enough emails to lead nurturing. That way, you go. That’s how it works in a nutshell.

Are you comfortable talking about costs so we have some idea? I’m wondering myself.

Our pricing page is transparent. It’s $1,495 for that first handover period. I’ll say a month, but some people might need 5 or 6 weeks. That does the transition process. We bring on two inbox managers from our team. We would introduce them to you. If you pay $1, 495 for that first handover month, we need a bit of your time to answer questions to build those systems. We need you to review draft emails before we start sending them out. We don’t want your permission to reply. You give us that feedback and away you go.

Pricing then, it’s month-to-month and it scales up and down. If you’re the kind of person or even a full business that has multiple inboxes and you might need 3 or 4 people managing email where you can scale up, it goes up into $500 increments so $1,495, $1,995, $2,495 all the way down to $995 for the smallest inbox where you might only need an hour a day, five days a week to clear your inbox. For most people, we design two so you have redundancy. You have two people working in the inbox. If one gets sick or has a holiday which they will, you don’t have to have that horrible experience of someone coming back to you and saying, “We need you to do your email again for a month while we find someone else,” because that’s not what we want for you. We always have that backup with two people working in your inbox. That’s pretty much it. For most inboxes, it’s about $1,495 a month ongoing. That tends to cover it.

BYW 43 | Simplify Life
Simplify Life: The ultimate reframe in your life is learning to interpret things differently that would help you grow as a person and an entrepreneur.

 

I could see how that would free up a ton of time.

This is how you can travel. It’s that sense of, if you did take a break, didn’t work for two weeks or even if you wanted to travel for 6 or 12 months, you need those team members in place. You’re not landing in a new city and rushing straight home to work on your laptop to answer the emails. That’s what you don’t want.

It sounds like you designed your lifestyle and then you created businesses around your lifestyle.

I saw problems that would hinder me from the lifestyle I wanted and then realized that other people also would have these problems. InboxDone is certainly a reflection of that.

Yaro, thank you so much for spending the time with us. If the people here want to get a hold of you and they say, “I love those ideas. I love to have somebody help me with my inbox to give me some freedom,” what’s the best way for them to get in touch with you?

InboxDone.com and then book a discovery call. You’ll see the link on there. You’ll get to speak to me. I’m on a discovery call. My one job for this company is to talk to potential new clients.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received or given?

I go back to the early twenties period for me because I was the most lost, confused, self-doubt, depressed about the direction in life, financial independence, and all the usual things you’re worried about in your early twenties. There was one piece of advice that helped me, which I’ve seen repeated from pretty much every self-help NLP, Tony Robbins. Wherever you want to go, its advice that’s repeated but it was very simple when I first discovered it. Ironically, it doesn’t work anymore. When I first discovered this, I googled for what is the meaning of life, and this is how this piece of advice came up. If you google that now, the same resource doesn’t show up, unfortunately.

The answer to the question was to realize that you’re in control of interpreting your emotional response to events in your life. For me, in that early twenties period, I was very much choosing a negative reaction and seeing the negative interpretation of whatever was happening. If a friend was succeeding in business or relationships, it reflected on me failing and I would think about the negative aspect of that. If I launched something new with a business and it didn’t work well, it meant the business wasn’t going anywhere. There’s a lot of negative self-talk and interpretations of events.

Entrepreneurship is creating a business that is a vehicle to financially support yourself in a fun and fulfilling way. Click To Tweet

Spending this late at night reading this whole guide and starting with that one piece of advice that, “No one else controls the decision of how you interpret things. It’s only up to you.” I was like, “I should make a choice to always see the better side of this event and the opportunity it brings or the potential for change. Even if it’s not what I want, it’s the stepping stone that it might be for something that I want.” It has been the bedrock ever since then. I’ve seen it repeated from philosophical documents, religion, personal development trainers and spirituality. It’s always that, “You control how you interpret.” To me, that has been huge. I can’t say there has ever been any other piece of advice more impactful than that.

Say it one more time.

You control the interpretation of events and the emotional response you give them. Simply put, when I first read, it was, “You choose to be happy or sad depending on what happens,” but no one else is telling you, “You have to choose to be happy or sad.” In fact, this was the breakthrough. It was like, “I’m always the one who is creating that response. No one can force the creation of any emotion in me other than me.” That means it gives me the power back to choose my interpretation when an event happens.

It was huge, especially with things like dating. If you get rejected, it’s like, “I’m ugly and hideous. No one ever liked me,” versus you get rejected and it’s like, “What did I learn from that experience? Let’s not use that lame line and try another line with the next person.” It’s something simple as that. That was a powerful reframe. NLP talks a lot about reframing. The ultimate reframe is learning to interpret things in a different way. It simplifies to a positive angle and thus makes it easier.

When I worked with companies around the world, I see a lot of companies that struggle and a lot of companies that are doing extremely well. The ones that are doing extremely well have a few things in common. One of those is they have somebody on their executive team with the why of simplifying or the right way. There’s another why. That’s the right way. It’s a structure, process, systems-based why, which is a lot of what you do. You simplify it down even more to where it’s useful and easy to understand and anyone can do it. Why is it important for you that things are simple? Why do you want things simple?

If I think about it, it’s probably because seeing chaos results in emotional turmoil from the confusion and the lack of control. A lot of people think a desire for simplicity is a desire for control and I would agree with that. I think of two sides of the same coin. I feel what is simple is easier to control, so less chaos. With that being said, you can’t control everything completely but simplifying it makes it much more manageable and easier to do so. What we all want is that sense of controlling our own destiny. By simplifying, that gives you the power to do so.

Also, simplifying the outcome as well. That’s why for me, that reinterpretation of events too was a way to be happy. I can simply make a choice. That’s so simple rather than the chaotic potential of all the other ways I could interpret this, especially if there’s a linear outcome. We’re just trying to get somewhere and I can focus on where I’m going rather than all the things that are not working. It’s the same with a business. Growing a business is a very chaotic experience but if you simplify, you then have one goal to work towards and you take steps to get there.

How do you feel about complexity then?

I enjoy the fact that complexity exists, but I find it frustrating not being able to necessarily feel completely understand the cause of the complexity. Even something as grand as what happens after you die. If we knew what happens, it would be different but it’s something super complex that we can’t comprehend while we’re alive. Even with what I said about traveling, I would love to have been everywhere on the entire planet. I know I can’t and it is overwhelming and complex to think about everything going on on the planet, but I’m glad it is that way too and that also makes it more exciting. Would I simplify it so I could understand everything? I probably would.

BYW 43 | Simplify Life
Simplify Life: You can’t control everything completely, but you could simplify things. If you simplify, you then have one goal to work towards, and you just take steps to get there.

 

I don’t know that you realize the value that simplification has for the rest of us that may not be able to do it as you do. I see CEOs in desperate need and desperately looking for your talents, but they don’t quite know what it is that they’re looking for or somebody with your why of simplify. It’s because complexity kills execution. You cannot execute as a team if it’s so complex that the only one who knows what we’re talking about is the person who created that complexity. Whereas you’re at the opposite end of the spectrum, “Let’s simplify this complexity to the point where anybody can do this. I can hire somebody to do this for me so that then I can be more effective in another area.” It’s such an amazingly valuable skill.

For those of you that are reading, if you’re struggling in your business with overcomplexity, nobody else can do things and everything ends up back on your plate, you need to find somebody with the why of simplify, even though that’s hard to do, or the why of right way to help get that stuff off your plate so that then you can move forward. I had another gentleman on with the why of simplify. He had taken over his father’s auto-mechanic business and it was a big one. They sold a couple of hundred cars a day, but it was in bankruptcy because they had overcomplicated everything.

He took it and stripped everything down to the basic elements of what they were doing in a way that they could communicate with their clients, especially women, in a way that they would understand it. The business took off. It’s now in the top ten in the country because he simplified things, but he did exactly what you did. I remember in that interview, he said to me, “Gary, now I don’t even know what to do with myself. I don’t have to show up.” That’s what you said.

That’s the goal. You have the space to ask the question of what you want to do next, which is a nice place to be.

Yaro, thank you so much for spending this time with us. I look forward to staying in touch as we move forward. I appreciate you being here.

Thank you, Gary. I have to say that was a very untypical interview of many shows I’ve done. I appreciate going in some of the directions that you took the interview.

Thank you.

It’s time for our new segment, Guess The Why. I want to use TV chef Gordon Ramsay. What do you think his why is? I think his why could be right way or to do things the right way because he believes cooking should be done a certain way. He will yell and scream at people who do it the wrong way even if he is teaching them. That’s one of the things about the why of right way. They’re willing to have a tantrum, yell at people and make a scene in order to get things done the right way. There are many people that love him and many people do not, which can be a common trait in right way as well. He is particular and he will have his mind made up on someone or a dish, but he is very specific. He knows what he wants, how he likes it, and he is willing to make a scene to make that happen. What do you think his why is? Let me know in the comments.

Thank you so much for reading. If you’ve not yet discovered your why, you can do so at WhyInstitute.com. Use the code Podcast 50 and it will be half price for you. If you love the show, please don’t forget to subscribe below and leave us a review and rating on whatever platform you’re using so we can bring this to more people in the world, and meet our goal of impacting one billion people in the next five years. Thank you so much. Have a great week.

Important Links:

About Yaro Starak

BYW 43 | Simplify LifeYaro is the co-founder of InboxDone.com, an email management company with a team of 25+ serving clients including restaurant owners, venture capitalists, accountants, doctors, lawyers, real estate agents, car retailers, online coaches, and more.

Yaro has made 30+ angel investments in tech startups including Steezy, LeadIQ, Fluent Forever, FitBod, and Nutrisense, has property investments in Canada and Ukraine, and in partnership built a 3.6MW solar farm.

During the mid-2000s Yaro sold his first company, BetterEdit.com, then built an online education company BlogMastermind.com, selling over $2 Million of his books and online courses.

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Podcast

Surgical Empathy: A Unique Take On Treating Suicidal Patients With Dr. Mark Goulston

BYW 41 | Treatment For Suicidal Patients

Dr. Mark Goulston has gone out of the box regarding treatment for his suicidal patients, and so far, it’s worked. His Why of Challenge has propelled him to think differently when handling different cases and to challenge treatments that just don’t work. This is what drove him to develop a new approach: Surgical Empathy. Mark is a psychiatrist, author, a Founding Member of Newsweek Expert Forum, and a Marshall Goldsmith MG100 Coach. Unravel his viewpoint and understand the method to his approach as he sits down with host Dr. Gary Sanchez. Mark shares enlightening anecdotes and meaningful advice that may be just what you need. Learn how to ask the right questions and look beyond the obvious to truly understand not only others but also yourself.

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

Surgical Empathy: A Unique Take On Treating Suicidal Patients With Dr. Mark Goulston

We go beyond talking about your why, helping you discover and then live your why. If you’re a regular reader, you know that every episode, we talk about one of the nine whys and then we bring on somebody with that why so we can see how their why has played out in their life. In this episode, we’re going to be talking about the why of challenge, to challenge the status quo and think differently. If this is your why, you don’t believe in following the rules or drawing inside the lines. You want things to be fun, exciting and different. You rebel against the classic way of doing things. You typically have eccentric friends and eclectic tastes because after all, why would you want to be normal? You love to be different, think different and aren’t afraid to challenge virtually anyone or anything that is too conventional or typical for your tastes. Pushing the envelope comes natural to you. When you say you want to change the world, you mean it.

I’ve got a great guest for you. His name is Mark Goulston, MD. He is a founding member of Newsweek Expert Forum and a Marshall Goldsmith, MG100 Coach who works with founders, entrepreneurs and CEOs in dealing with and overcoming any psychological or interpersonal obstacle to realizing their full potential. He is the co-author, along with Diana Hendel, of Why Cope When You Can Heal?: How Healthcare Heroes of COVID-19 Can Recover from PTSD and Trauma to Triumph: A Roadmap for Leading Through Disruption (and Thriving on the Other Side). He’s the co-author of seven additional books with his book, Just Listen, becoming the top book on listening in the world.

He is the host of the My Wakeup Call podcast and is the co-creator and moderator of a multi-honor documentary, Stay Alive, an intimate conversation about suicide prevention. He is on the Board of Advisors to HealthCorps and BiasSync, an advisor to No Worry No Tension, a leading company in India focused on emotional wellness and the co-creator of the Goulston Vohra Happiness Scale. He was a UCLA professor in psychiatry for many years with a subspecialty focus on suicide prevention and helping the surviving family members following a completed suicide. He’s also a former FBI Hostage Negotiation Trainer. Mark, welcome to the show.

I got to send out a shorter bio. That’s a lot to live up to.

That means that you’ve been here for a while.

It’s interesting because as I was listening to you, your analysis was exactly correct about me having this challenging persona. If you’re reading, I challenge what’s out there not because I’m trying to be a rebel without a cause. I can’t not do it. In fact, what is obvious to the rest of the world, I often don’t see because the elephant in the room screams out to me loudly that I can’t see what other people see. Because I see the elephant in the room and it starts talking to me, I can often bring that out. People say, “How did you know that?” I said, “It’s the only thing that I saw.”

I’ll share something with you. This is how crazy it is. I was a psychiatrist for many years and none of my suicidal patients died by suicide. I remember I was seeing someone for about five months in my office. I don’t think it was racist but he said, “Mark, I’m black.” I said, “What?” He said, “I’m black.” He was very black. I said, “I didn’t know that.” I was focused on the pain that was going on inside, fear and the anger screamed out at me, “I’m running out of time. Find me.”

What’s interesting about the why of challenge that we always talk about is people with that why do see things differently than the rest of us. Their reticular activating system is programmed differently and they see things that the rest of us don’t see. That’s fascinating. That’s the first thing that you brought up because you’re seeing that thing that the rest of us didn’t notice.

I’m getting to know Gary and I hope I get to know him even more because I took his quiz. If you’re reading, take it. It’s going to tell you stuff about yourself. This is not a paid advertisement. It was remarkable. I can understand people saying, “Why do I have to care about my why? I’ve got all kinds of other things going on.” You’ll have to listen to the My Wakeup Call episode with Gary because he talks about how he reached a point where things weren’t going that well and then he had to pivot. What he landed in is he wasn’t paying attention to his why. It caused him pain and be a bit of lost.

Death is compassionate to hopelessness and pain that won’t go away. Click To Tweet

What he’s sharing with the world, which is why he’s excited and enthusiastic, is he pivoted to something that was life-changing for him. If you live a highly transactional life and there’s nothing wrong with that, but you find that it’s not making some pain inside you go away. You thought it would deliver happiness and it delivered immediate gratification for 20 to 30 years, maybe if you’re lucky. It may be that you’re on the same path as Gary and it may be that you do well to discover your why.

Mark, I want everyone to get to know you. Let’s start back. Where are you from? Where did you grow up? Tell us a little bit about your childhood and give us a quick version of your life. Where did you start? How did you get into Psychology, UCLA and writing books? Take us through that path.

I grew up in a suburb outside of Boston, Massachusetts. I’m told I’ve lost a fair amount of my Bostonian accent, even though I hope this is going to be a piece of interview. I went to undergraduate school at UC Berkeley. I look good for my age. I was there during the late 1960s. I went to medical school in Boston and then trained in Psychiatry at UCLA. You listed a bunch of things and I was impressed by who you were describing, although it’s hard to believe that was me. One of the things I’ll share, and I don’t know what you’ll do with it, is one of my greatest personal accomplishments was I dropped out of medical school twice and finished.

Why did you do that?

I don’t know anybody who dropped out twice and finished. I had untreated depression. I dropped out because what was happening is I was passing everything but I couldn’t hold on to the information. The first time I dropped out, I worked in blue-collar jobs, which I still romanticize. Life was so much simpler. You get off at 5:00, go back to your apartment and have a beer. I worked in Boston and what I used to do is I would put up liquor displays and Heineken windmills at bars and liquor stores. I loved getting to know the bartenders and the people delivering liquor to those places.

I came back and then after six months, it happened again. I asked for another leave of absence because I wasn’t flunking. The dean of the school cared more about finance than students. I met with him and I don’t remember meeting with him that clearly but then I got a call from the dean of students who cares about students. You’re going to find out a little bit about my why in the suicide prevention work because he called me and had a deep, thick, Irish Boston accent. His name was William McNary. We used to call him Mac. He called me and he said, “This is Mac. You better get in here. You got a letter here from the dean and we need to read it together.”

I go in there and read the letter. It says, “From the dean of the whole school who cares about finances. I’ve met with Mr. Goulston and we talked about another career. I’m advising the promotions committee that he be asked to withdraw.” I said, “What does this mean?” Dean McNary said, “You’ve been kicked out.” Gary, it was like a gunshot wound to my stomach. I know what that feels like because I almost died from a perforated colon several years ago. I collapsed a little bit.

I came from a background where depression age, hardworking parents and you’re only worth what you do in the world. If you can’t do it, you’re not worth much. I didn’t think I was worth much. Imagine you come from that and you’ve been kicked out. A little bit of a safety net is ripped away from you. He says this to me, Gary, “Mark, you didn’t mess up because you’re passing but you are messed up. If you get unmessed up, this school would one day be glad they gave you a second chance.”

I started to cry because I didn’t know what compassion was. He looks, points his finger at me and says, “Mark, even if you don’t get unmessed up, don’t become a doctor or don’t do anything the rest of your life. I’d be proud to know you because you have a streak of goodness and kindness in you that the world needs and we don’t grade in medical school. You won’t know how much the world needs that until you’re 35 but you got to make it until you’re 35. You deserve to be on this planet. You’re going to let me help you.” If he had said, “If I can help you, give me a call,” I probably wouldn’t have called him and I probably wouldn’t be here.

BYW 41 | Treatment For Suicidal Patients
Treatment For Suicidal Patients: About a quarter of entrepreneurs become entrepreneurs to deal with their depression of being different when they were younger.

 

The combination of not believing in yourself at all, your future cratering, having someone reach in and see a future for you that you don’t see then he went to bat against the entire medical school. He arranged an appeal. He was a PhD. He stood up against the rest of that promotions committee who were all MDs, heads of hospitals, because he saw something in me that I didn’t see. The combination of that. I took a year off and I went to a place called the Menninger Foundation, which was a very famous psychiatric foundation institute that was in Topeka, Kansas and now in Houston.

It was during the oil embargo in the early 1970s. I drove from Boston to Topeka. I grew up in the suburbs but I was able to connect with schizophrenic farm boys. I remember asking the psychiatrists at Topeka State Hospital, “Is this legitimate?” They said, “What?” I said, “Is this a legitimate specialty? It’s not like anything else.” They said, “No, it’s legitimate and you’ve got a knack.” Knowing that I could do that, I went back, finished med school and then went to UCLA, trained in Psychiatry. One of my earliest mentors was probably one of the top three pioneers in the study of suicide prevention. He kept referring me to these very suicidal people and I paid it forward. I did with each of them what the dean of students did for me. Thank you for giving me a long leash to tell, I hope, a story that wasn’t too boring.

Not at all. Mark, take us back even to high school. What were you like in high school?

I was pretty smart. I skipped a grade when I was young. I was probably intellectually or intelligence-wise, able to keep up with the people a year older than me but I was socially backward. It was weird because in high school and if you remember that you were an athlete, but in high school or even in little league I would play right field. That right field is the worst position on a baseball team. It’s for people who can’t do anything else but you have to include them in the gym. It wasn’t even high school because I didn’t make a high school baseball team but early on during the summers, I would go to this camp in which I was with people my age and I was in the infield. I was hitting home runs in that abbreviated field. That’s how I was socially also. I was socially very introverted and very shy.

One of the interesting things about the why of the challenge is the people with that why either do extremely well or do very poorly. If they look at their why as a gift, like you are now, you do amazing things. When they’re younger, oftentimes, they see themselves as an outcast, as different, doesn’t fit in. “I’m not like everybody else,” and they go the other direction and oftentimes end up medicating to get away from themselves. That’s why I wanted to go back and see, “What you were like in high school?” It sounds like maybe you weren’t typical, nor in college, nor in med school. You didn’t take the typical path and didn’t follow the traditional route but you got to a place that’s been amazing for so many people that you’ve been able to touch.

I don’t know if you know this statistic but someone told me because I do suicide prevention programs with a friend of mine whose fourteen-year-old son died by suicide. He reached out to me and we present to YPO and EO. He made a documentary called Tell My Story, because that was one of the suicide notes from his son. He shared something with me. He said, “About a quarter of entrepreneurs became entrepreneurs to deal with their depression of being different when they were younger.” Many of them aren’t that bothered by failure because they were depressed because they didn’t fit in. Richard Branson or Herb Kelleher had dyslexia, ADD. What happened is, they became entrepreneurs because they couldn’t work in other settings where they had to follow all the rules.

It’s unfortunate that you went to UCLA because I went to USC. Those of you that are reading may or may not know that USC and UCLA are fierce adversaries. No matter who it is that goes to UCLA, I have to tell them it’s unfortunate that they went there. When you got out then, did you get into private practice right away or what happened after you finished medical school?

What was interesting is one of my mentors was a suicide prevention specialist. One of the top ones in the world. Something that was very fortunate for me was when I finished training, I was supposed to go into a fellowship but the fellowship fell through 1 or 2 weeks before I graduated. I just went into practice with this mentor of mine, Dr. Ed Shneidman would refer me to suicidal patients. Here was my good fortune. If I’d gone into an institution, when I saw patients, I would have had to make sure that I followed all the guidelines. What happened is, as I was seeing suicidal patients, I learned to listen into their eyes and their eyes were screaming out to me, “You’re checking boxes and I’m running out of time.” I had a choice, check the boxes or go where their eyes took me. I wasn’t a rogue psychiatrist. I still follow certain standards but I didn’t have to report what I was doing and I followed with their eyes took me.

If you focus on what they’re listening for and you get it right, they’ll give you everything. Click To Tweet

I remember this dentist who was highly paranoid came in. He sees me and says, “You’re the seventh psychiatrist I’ve seen in a couple of years.” I said, “Sounds like you’ve been busy.” He says, “I’m looking for one that I think will work with me but before we go any further, I need to tell you something. The people above my bedroom make noise all night long. They won’t shut up. It’s driving me crazy.” I was about to say something empathic like, “That sounds frustrating,” and he says, “Before you answer me, you need to know that I live on the top floor of my building and there is no access to the roof above me.” He then gave me a Chris Rock. I’m like, “What are you going to do that one?”

“I’m playing in my head.” He said this is the 6th or 7th psychiatrist and they probably say, “I can understand how that must be frustrating. That may be part of the things that we can help with. Maybe we can treat it in such a way.” He looked at me. I’m playing all the normal and kindly responses. In my mind, I said, “Do I want to help him or do I want to just give him another reality check and have him go look at another psychiatrist?” He’s looking at me with that look. We’ll call him John. I said, “John.” He said, “Yeah?” I looked right into his eyes and I said, “I believe you.” He looked at me and his eyes filled with tears and started sobbing, almost convulsing. I thought, “I’ve just released someone. I’ve pushed them over the edge,” but I know this territory pretty well and I knew it would be like a tropical storm. I just let him cry for about five minutes. He stops. His eyes are all bloodshot and then he looks at me with a huge smile and says, “It does sound crazy,” and we connected.

Is that a common thing for people that are struggling with suicidal tendencies is they need to be heard? Is there a common or not a common theme? I’ve never experienced somebody in that situation. I don’t know what I would do if I ran into somebody that was struggling.

The week after Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, they died by suicide around the same time. I wrote a blog, which you can find if you look and it’s called Why People Kill Themselves: It’s Not Depression. It got 500,000 views in ten days. It’s on Medium. I said, “There are hundreds of millions of people, maybe one billion or more, who are depressed in the world and the majority of them don’t commit suicide. There are people who lose marriages or jobs and the majority of them don’t die by suicide. One of the things that nearly all the suicidal patients I saw had in common is they had despair.” If you break the word despair into des-pair, they feel unpaired with reasons to live, hopeless without a future, helpless, powerless, worthless, useless, purposeless, meaningless and when they all line up together like a slot machine, pointless. They pair with death to take the pain away.

Two of my books that you mentioned, Why Cope When You Can Heal? and then the second book was Trauma to Triumph. In Why Cope When You Can Heal? I introduced the approach that I’ve finally given a name to that I used for years. It’s called Surgical Empathy. Something I didn’t go into but I am now when I give talks on it, is you know the term dialysis and the term lysis, it breaks things. The way surgical empathy works is through a process of empatholysis which means that you break the destructive connections that people are connected to that are holding them back.

One of the things that people who are highly suicidal feel that you wouldn’t feel if you haven’t been there is, death is compassionate to hopelessness and pain that won’t go away. Death is like the sirens calling out to the sailors, “We’ll take away your pain.” That’s what death does to people who feel highly suicidal. They feel not just understood but felt, “Death will take it away.” In my book Just Listen, which did so well around the world, is I talked about how do you cause people to feel felt? Feeling felt is not the same as feeling understood.

It is you don’t feel alone in the hell you’re going through. I learned how to interact with my patients who are feeling suicidal and they felt less alone in hell. I didn’t push treatments on them. What I basically said is, “I’m going to find you wherever you are. I get there, I’m going to keep your company,” and then if you want some treatments because all the ones you’ve tried haven’t really worked. They’ll say, “Maybe we should try something.” Job one is I want to find you in the dark night of your soul and keep you company.

When you talk about how to help people feel felt, dive a little deeper into that for us.

I’m going to give a tip to anyone worried about their teenagers or spouse. There’re some videos of me doing this. I’m a Marshall Goldsmith’s MG100 Coach and I share these four prompts. It’s up on YouTube. If you’re worried about a teenager, child or spouse, but let’s focus on teenagers because the suicide rates are going up. It’s alarming. My advice to parents is, don’t have a heart-to-heart talk with a teenager unless they initiate it. Do this when you’re doing something together like driving, doing an errand and say, “All of us parents are worried about our kids. Can I ask you a few things?” “Okay, mom.” “Okay, dad.” Here are the four prompts. The first one is, “At your absolute worst, how awful are you capable of feeling about yourself or your life?” They’re going to go, “What?” “How much pain are you capable of feeling about your life or yourself when it’s at its worse?” Your teenager is going to say, “Pretty awful.” Using surgical empathy, you say, “Pretty awful or very awful?” “Very awful.”

BYW 41 | Treatment For Suicidal Patients
Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone

The second prompt, “When you’re feeling that, how alone are you capable of feeling with it?” They say, “Pretty alone.” You want to go deeper. “Pretty alone or all alone?” “All alone.” The third thing you say to them is, “Take me to the last time you felt it.” They’re going to say, “What?” “Was it 2:30 AM because we heard you walking around in your bedroom the other night.” A special thing happens when you get someone to describe something so clearly that you can see it with your eyes as the listener, they re-experience the feeling. As your kid describes that, “I was walking around, I couldn’t get back to sleep. I didn’t know whether to put my fist through the wall or my head through the wall.”

“What happened?” “I started looking for your outdated sleeping pills. I couldn’t find them.” “What happened?” “I didn’t know what I was going to do.” “What happened?” “The sun rose. I felt a little better.” The fourth thing you say to them is, “I need your help with something. Your mom, your dad, needs your help. Also, when you’re feeling that way or even heading down that way, I want you to do whatever it takes to get our undivided attention because we get preoccupied, we get distracted. There is nothing more important than helping you to feel less alone when you feel that awful. Do you understand me?”

If you follow those steps of tactics, you may need to modify it, but that can help. I’m expanding my work now from suicide prevention to what would two stubborn children who grow up to be angry teenagers, defiant teenagers or failure to launch twenty-somethings who are being passed by their younger siblings. I’m partnering with a great partner and we’re launching this. We’re having families do this. Every day we’re asking families, “When you’re with your children, and it works when they’re about 6, 7, or older. You say, ‘We’re going to have an exercise every day and we’re going to talk about four things.’” The parents go first, “What is something that you felt upset about?” That’s the first thing. The second thing is, “What did it make you want to do?” That was your impulse. “What did you do?” The fourth thing is, “How did that work out?” What you’re teaching your children and modeling is self-restraint. A lot of times children don’t listen to their parents. They imitate their behavior and don’t see self-restraint. They see mom and dad snapping at each other. The children model the behavior. They often don’t listen to lessons.

By doing this, what the parents are modeling is, “Whenever we feel upset, we have an impulse to do something that’s probably not a good idea.” We recommend to the parents, don’t bring up something that’s going to freak out your kids. Don’t say, “Mom and dad lost their jobs and we’re going to be in the street tomorrow.” Try and pick something that’s not going to freak your kids out. What we’re hearing is how it’s helping marriages because what’s going on is, moms and dads, after they do the exercise, they go upstairs and one of them will say to the other, “What I usually do when I’m upset with you is I either yell or I mope but I didn’t do that. What I’m doing is I’m telling you what I felt upset about, and going forward, please don’t do that again.” By going through this exercise, what the whole family is modeling is self-restraint. I don’t want to get into politics but what we’re seeing right now and why I think this country’s in so much trouble is you’re seeing people not modeling much self-restraint. We’re seeing the negative consequences of that.

What are the negative consequences of not practicing self-restraint?

I hope your readers know that you’re an amazing athlete. You got to look up everything you can find out about this guy. Part of what you learn as an athlete is you need to be able to show self-restraint and turn your anger into focus and determination. What was interesting, because you weren’t at UCLA is John Wooden. One of the things he would say to his players is, “We’ll play to our strengths and we’re going to make the other team angry. We’re going to make them lose their cool because if they lose their cool, they’re going to lose. We’ll play to our strengths and be very centered.” You probably know the story where he taught his players to spend a lot of time lacing their sneakers to avoid blisters. He might have been the most admired college coach ever.

Those questions there is how you help people practice self-restraint so they don’t lose their cool and they stay with their strength. That’s been very helpful. Just hearing what you’ve got to say about working with somebody who’s going through those kinds of challenges. Most of us, especially parents, don’t have any idea what to do. We do what maybe we would have done but that’s not necessarily going to work. Those four questions were very helpful. Thank you for sharing that.

Thank you for giving me a platform.

I’m assuming you transition from doing suicide prevention into working with CEOs and executives. How did that happen?

I see the elephant in the room and I somehow make it safe for people to open up. What happens is, I’m not just a coach. I’m a confidant, an advisor to CEOs. A couple of them have said, “I can’t hide from you.” I said, “Is that good or bad?” One said, “It’s weird but it’s not bad.” Another one said, “I hide from everyone, including myself.” If you go to my LinkedIn profile, I seem to be able to be helpful to founders, entrepreneurs and CEOs about any psychological or interpersonal challenge that they’re having.

Forgiveness is accepting the apology you will never receive. Click To Tweet

How are you able to see the elephant in the room? Tell us about that. What do you mean by that? What does that look like or feel like for you? You’re seeing something we don’t see. How do you do it?

This is how I learned to listen into minds, eyes and souls. The first one, I was on rounds at a VA Hospital in Boston. This is just before I was going to drop out. I was probably quite depressed. We were outside. I’ll call him Mr. Smith’s room. All the other medical students, interns, residents and the attending physicians, were all jockeying, “Mr. Smith needs chemo.” “Mr. Smith needs surgery, such and such.” I’m like a ping pong ball not knowing what he needs. A nurse comes over to us. We’re outside Mr. Smith’s room and she said, “Didn’t you hear Mr. Smith jump from the roof last night? He’s in the morgue.” As loud as your voice is right now, I heard a voice say to me, “Maybe he needed something else.” That’s listening into minds.

My second thing was listening in the eyes. This is how I learned how to listen to eyes. I was paged to see an AIDS patient in the early 1980s. I don’t even think it was given a diagnosis yet. I was paged by the doctors up in one of the medical floors. They said, “We need you to okay these restraints on his arms, legs and an order for an anti-psychotic medication because he’s pulling at the IVs and his respirator. He’s kicking and screaming.” I go in the room and we’ll call him Mr. Jones. He looked at me and his eyes were like saucers. He couldn’t talk because he had a respirator tube in his throat. I say, “What is it?” They said, “He’s just psychotic.” I gave him a pencil to write something in his right hand. He just scribbled and I thought, “Maybe they’re right.” I said, “You were pulling at your IVs, kicking, riving off the bed and pulling off the respirator tube. We had to put down your arms and legs. I gave you something to calm you down. When you calm down, we’ll take everything off.”

A day later, I get paged and they say, “Mr. Jones told us to page you.” I go into his room and he’s seated up in bed. He’s off the respirator and the restraints. He looks into my eyes and they weren’t saucer-shaped but he grabbed my eyes with his eyes. He said, “Pull up a chair.” He wouldn’t let go of my eyes and he said, “What I was trying to tell you is that a piece of the respirator tube was broken and stuck in my throat and you do know that I will kill myself before I go through that again, do you understand me?” He wouldn’t let go of my eyes and I said, “I’m sorry. I get it.”

The third case, which was when I was out practicing as a psychiatrist seeing suicidal patients, I used to moonlight at one of the state hospitals. Once a month, I cover for the doctors on the weekend. Sometimes you’d be up 24 hours and you’d be sleep-deprived. I was seeing a patient that was referred to me by Dr. Shneidman. I called her Nancy. That’s not her real name. I didn’t think I was helping her. She’d made 2 or 3 suicide attempts before I started seeing her. She’d been in the hospital several times a year. Back then, you could be in the hospital for a month. Now they get you in. They get you out. I didn’t think I was helping her at all and she didn’t make much eye contact. This is where I learned how to listen into people’s souls. It’s Monday. I hadn’t slept much. I’m in the room. There’s Nancy. She’s not looking at me. She’s looking 30 degrees to the right.

As I’m sitting with her, the color in the room turns black and white, then I get the chills. I thought I was having a seizure or a stroke. I did a neurologic exam on myself. I’m tapping on my knees and elbows. I said to myself, “I’m all here. I’m not having a stroke or seizure.” I had this crazy idea that I was looking out of the world and feeling what she felt and because I was sleep-deprived, I blurted something out that normally I wouldn’t say. I said, “Nancy, I didn’t know it was so bad. I can’t help you kill yourself, but if you do, I will still think well of you. I’ll miss you. Maybe I’ll understand why you had to get out of the pain.”

I thought, “Did I think that or did I say that? I gave her permission to kill herself. I’m screwed.” She looked at me for the first time. She looked and held on to my eyes. I thought she was going to say, “Thank you for understanding. I’m overdue.” I said, “What are you thinking?” She said, “If you can really understand why I might have to kill myself to get out of the pain, maybe I won’t need to,” and then she smiled. That’s when I started going into their world because I didn’t want to let go of her eyes.

This is the first time we made eye contact like that. I said, “I’ll tell you what we’re going to do, I’m not going to give you any treatments that you’ve been tried on before that haven’t worked, and have you come back and tell me that you didn’t try them because they didn’t work. Would that be okay?” She looked at me like, “I’m listening. Keep talking.” I leaned in and I said, “What I am going to do is I’m going to find you wherever you are because you’ve been there all alone too long. I don’t want you to be alone anymore. Is that okay?”

Her eyes watered up and said, “I think I’d like that.” Does that give you an example of my journey? The point is, people will say, “He’s not a challenger. He’s, ‘I saw outside the box.’” I’m trying to teach the world that. The book behind me Just Listen, became the top book in listening in the world. I don’t teach it in America because America is one of the worst countries when it comes to listening. Americans want to be listened to. I’ve spoken in Moscow twice. India three times. The UK, Canada.

BYW 41 | Treatment For Suicidal Patients
Treatment For Suicidal Patients: Feeling felt is not the same as feeling understood. Feeling felt is when you don’t feel alone in the hell you’re going through.

 

Here’s another tip I would like everybody to take from our episode, including you, Gary. I gave a talk in Moscow along with a Nobel Prize winner named Daniel Kahneman. He wrote the book Thinking, Fast and Slow. Five of my nine books are bestsellers in Russia. The title of my talk was Change Everything You Know About Communication. There’re little video clips of me up on YouTube. The whole point of it is what I said to this audience of 1,000 Russian businessmen, CEOs and managers, I said, “I’m going to change everything you know about communication because the way you communicate now is people listen to you when you give them information and then you listen to them. It’s a very nice transactional conversation. If you’re lucky, you might get some business from them, but if instead of focusing on people listening to you and being transactional, you focus on what they’re listening for. When you focus on what they’re listening to, as long as you have good stories, good points, they’ll give you their mind for one hour. If you focus on what they’re listening for and you get it right, they’ll give you everything.”

I said to them, “Let me see if I got it right.” I’m speaking in English, but in real-time it’s translated into Russian. I said, “If you’re business people, you’re listening for a way to get greater positive and measurable results because that’s how you get a raise. Is that true?” “Da.” “You’re listening for a way to get those that are less stressful because you’re all drinking too much or eating too much. People, it’s a real mess. You’re listening for a way to get those positive results that are less stressful, is that true too?” “Da,” and then I said, “Most of all, what you’re listening for, is for me to give you tactics that you can use immediately that are doable by you. You don’t have to be a psychologist. You don’t have to buy a book because I haven’t written this book yet. You don’t have to take a course, because I haven’t created a course yet. You’re listening for tactics that you can use immediately, right out of the box and you don’t have to buy a book, which you don’t have the time to read or take a course that you don’t have the time to take, that gets you better results that are less stressful and that will be worth more than $500 and a day of your time that you spent to be here. Is that true?” They go, “Da.” I say, “Sit down. I got to give the presentation.”

If you’re reading, you need to go to the WHY Institute, because Gary is still that incredible athlete. He wants to share something with you that changed his life for the better. Changed how he’s going to spend the rest of his life. My counsel to you Gary is if you can share how that happened, you’ll get more buy-in, because if you try to convince people how it’s good for them, you might get some but what people are listening for is they’re saying, “I need to change my life too. Something’s not working right. All the stuff that I did that got me some positive results aren’t working. I don’t know what else to do but I got to do something else. I’m like a broken record. I’m living the definition of insanity. I keep doing the same old things expecting different results. It’s not happening for me. How did this change your life?” I’m just hoping you will share that as you shared that on my show. It’ll be a field of dreams for people who know what that’s about and people will come.

Focus on what they are listening for. That was a good example. What you say is if you’re able to playback to them what you think they’re listening for, then you know you’re right and then you can deliver on that.

What they’re listening for is they’re in pain because they’re stuck. All their usual approaches to getting unstuck aren’t working. They’re getting frustrated and not taking very good care of themselves because to cope with the frustration, they’re eating and drinking poorly. They need to make the discovery that you made. If you were to share how that changed your life like you said, you’ve never been suicidal but it saved your life from where you were stuck, that’s your audience.

When I was on your show, I didn’t elaborate enough on that aspect of it. More of the convincing versus the compelling. That’s super helpful. I appreciate you bringing that up. Mark, what is the best piece of advice that you’ve ever given or ever gotten?

I’ve received a lot of advice. I’m giving you a piece of advice because one will change all your relationships and cause you to be happier than you’ve ever been in your life. I’ll start with that one. It’s a quote from a friend of mine, Dr. Shawne Duperon. She said, “Forgiveness is accepting the apology you will never receive.” After I heard that, I tried that with my dad, who’s been dead since 1995. The apology that I never received from him was one of the things that he used to say because he was a numbers person, an accountant, when I would come up with creative, challenging ideas, that made him a little crazy. Like a CEO who is a sales type person. When I come up with one of my crazy ideas, he’d say, “What makes you think you know anything about anything?” Because I made him nervous.

The apology that I never received was him saying to me, “Mark, I can’t even imagine what you’ve accomplished in your life. When I used to say to you, ‘What makes you think you know anything about anything,’ I was talking about myself. I knew numbers but there’s a lot about life I didn’t know. The stuff you know about life, I am proud that you’re my son,” and then I apologize to him. I said, “I am sorry that I had a chip on my shoulder and I miss you.”

Mark, if there are people that are reading that are wanting to connect with you. They want to hear more from you. Maybe they want you to come to speak at their event or come work with them. What’s the best way for them to get in touch with you?

Everybody has wake-up calls, but not everybody wakes up. Click To Tweet

Find me on LinkedIn because that’s probably the best place where it’s most current in terms of what my focus is. My website is also pretty robust, MarkGoulston.com. I hope they’ll visit my podcast so they can hear you when you were my guest on My Wakeup Call. Check that out and you’ll hear Gary being a wonderful and even compelling guest.

II love the name of your show and what it stands for. Tell people a little bit about what Wakeup Call stands for.

Everybody has wake-up calls but not everybody wakes up. A wake-up call is something that’s your opportunity to shift in your life. Focus on something that maybe you weren’t focusing on. I start all my podcasts the same. I say, “What’s most important to you in life currently that you think will be most important to you at the end of your life beyond family, friends, etc.?” People share what that is and then I say, “Share the wake-up calls that led you there.” People share stories as you did on my podcast. “This was a left turn. This was a right turn. This was a U-turn.” People share those. The way I use my podcast is I introduce my guests to each other. I get to know people. I say, “Why don’t you listen to each other’s podcasts and if you like what you hear, I’ll introduce you?” I’ve had people like Larry King on, Ken Blanchard, Jordan Peterson, Esther Wojcicki, whose daughters are the CEO of Netflix and 23andMe. Also, Tom Steyer ran for president. All kinds of people.

Mark, thank you so much for taking some time of your day to be here. It’s been a joy learning from you. I’ve got three pages of notes from our conversation. I appreciate that and I look forward to staying in touch as we continue on our journeys.

I got the beginning of clarifying my why with Gary’s help and the WHY Institute. If you’re reading, you need to do the same. Even if you don’t think you need a why, be curious enough to find out some stuff about yourself. It’s only going to make your life better.

Thank you. Have a great day, Mark.

You too. Thank you, Gary.

It’s time for our new segment, Guess The Why. I want to talk about the celebrity or the singer, Justin Bieber. What do you guys think his why is? Is he somebody that thinks differently, follows the rules or stays the course and does things the way other people do? I believe that his why is to challenge the status quo and think differently. He’s somebody that went from a picture-perfect little kid to playing a completely different part as he’s gone along in his life. To getting lots of tattoos, always surprising people and doing something unique and different with his musical career, appearance, new songs, changing genre of music, where you can go from pop to hip hop, to lyrical, to Despacito.

BYW 41 | Treatment For Suicidal Patients
Treatment For Suicidal Patients: Even if you don’t think you need a why, just be curious enough to find out stuff about yourself. It’s only going to make your life better.

 

He’s somebody that thinks outside the box and challenges the way things are done. He comes up with something new and different. He is somebody who thinks differently. That’s my take. I’d love to hear yours. Thank you so much for reading. If you’ve not yet discovered your why you can do at WhyInstitute.com. You can even use the code Podcast50 to do it at half price. If you love the show, please don’t forget to subscribe below and leave us a review and a rating on whatever platform you’re using. Have a great week. Thank you.

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About Dr. Mark Goulston

BYW 41 | Treatment For Suicidal PatientsMark Goulston, M.D. is a Founding Member Newsweek Expert Forum and Marshall Goldsmith MG100 Coach, who works with founders, entrepreneurs and CEOs in dealing with and overcoming any psychological or interpersonal obstacles to realizing their full potential. He is the co-author, along with Dr. Diana Hendel of Why Cope When You Can Heal? How Healthcare Heroes of Covid-19 Can Recover from PTSD and Trauma to Triumph: A Roadmap for Leading Through Disruption and Thriving on the Other Side as well as being the author or co-author of seven additional books with his book, “Just Listen,” becoming the top book on listening in the world.

He is the host of the My Wakeup Call podcast and is the co-creator and moderator of the multi-honored documentary, Stay Alive: An Intimate Conversation about Suicide Prevention. He is on the Board of Advisors to Healthcorps and Biassync and is an advisor to No Worry, No Tension, the leading company in India focused on emotional wellness and the co-creator of their Goulston Vohra Happiness Scale. He was a UCLA professor of psychiatry for more than twenty years with a subspecialty focus on suicide prevention and helping the surviving family members following a completed suicide and is also a former FBI hostage negotiation trainer.

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Breaking Through Your Terror Barrier

Post Written By: John Livesay 

What terrifies you?

Is it public speaking? Is it failing in front of your friends? Is it calling or reaching out to someone you don’t know?

Research shows that many people have a fear of public speaking. Turns out, there is a word for it! Glossophobia! 

My friend Steve Rohr, wrote a book called “Scared Speechless” and when I interviewed him on my podcast, he said that this fear is instinctual. When we are in front of other people we are separate from the herd and we fear being attacked. 

What about the fear of failing or looking “stupid” in front of your friends or co-workers? This fear stems from the need to be perfect at everything you do, even when you are trying something new for the first time. 

Finally the fear of calling someone “important” or powerful to see if they want to hire you, talk with you, or even buy something from you. Recently, a client said they were facing the “Terror Barrier” of not feeling good enough to even reach out to a new prospective client. 

We dug a little deeper and found out that the barrier can be broken down when you let go of the real fear, which is the fear of rejection. What causes the fear of getting rejected? 

When we get a “NO,” we think it means “No forever.” What if it just means “No now”?

When we get rejected we start to reject ourselves and what we are selling. What if we reframe that to “I never reject myself or doubt my abilities. No matter what the outcome.”

No matter what terrifies you, here are the three solutions to any fear:
  1. You control your thoughts. You are the thinker thinking the thoughts. When you feel fear in your body, ask yourself, “What if I am just excited, versus scared?” They feel very similar; we can rename it. 
  2. Tell yourself you are enough and what you have to offer is valuable. Instead of being intimidated to reach out to someone new, tell yourself you are doing them a favor. “This is their lucky day to be hearing from me.”
  3. What other people think about you is none of your business! Let go of having to be a perfectionist at anything. Instead, think of yourself as a progressionist that celebrates your progress. When your identity is so strong that results don’t make you go up and down the self-esteem roller coaster, you are free to overcome any fear that has been holding you back. The next time you feel any form of fear, just tell yourself “I’m safe and fearless.”
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Podcast

John Livesay: Creating Clarity In Your Marketing One Good Story At A Time

BYW 35 John Livesay | Creating Clarity

 

John Livesay understands the power of compelling storytelling, harnessing it for marketing purposes and connecting well with people. His “why of clarify” shows up in the way he writes narratives where the audience can see themselves in the characters involved, creating clarity in the message he wants to convey.  

Join Dr. Gary Sanchez as he talks with John on how these excellent marketing materials that rely on value rather than cost can serve as significant breakthroughs in the world of advertising. Listen to this informative conversation as John unravels the right ingredients that make up a good story, how reverse engineering plays a role in this process, and the best strategies in conducting a truly engaging presentation.  

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John Livesay: Creating Clarity In Your Marketing One Good Story At A Time 

If you’re a regular reader, you know that we talk about 1 of the 9 whys and then we bring on somebody with that why so we can see how their why has played out in their life. Were going to be talking about the why of clarify. If this is your why, then you are a master in communication. You seek to be fully understood at all times. It is important for you to know that people get what you are saying and you generally employ numerous methods to express a given point. You will use analogies and metaphors to share your views in interesting and unique manners that share your why often suffered in a dysfunctional communication environment during their upbringing and seek to make up for that with extraordinary clarity both spoken and written. You feel successful when you know with confidence that your message has been fully understood and received and have tremendous command over language generally superior to most. 

Ive got a great guest for youHis name is John Livesay, also known as, The Pitch Whisperer. He is a sales keynote speaker where he shows companies how to turn mundane case studies into compelling case stories, so they will win more new business. From Johns award-winning career at Conde Nast, he shares the lessons he learned that turned sales teams into revenue rockstars. His TEDx Talk, Be The Lifeguard of Your Own Life! has over one million views. Clients love working with John because of his ongoing support after his talk, which includes implementing the storytelling skills from his bestselling book and online course, Better Selling Through Storytelling. His book is now required reading for the UTLA University of Texas in LA course on Entertainment and Media Studies. He is also the host of ThSuccessful Pitch podcast, which has been heard in over 60 countries. John, welcome to the show. 

Gary, thanks for having me. 

Advertising is the ultimate combination of show business. Click To Tweet

Ive been excited about this because you and I talked before and I was telling you that Ive heard a lot of people say theyre good storytellers and how to use stories. You do it at a different level, so Im excited about this. Give us your life story. Whered you go to school and how did you get into storytelling? 

I went to school at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana and got a degree in Advertising, which is the ultimate combination of showbusiness and business. I was always fascinated by how something motivates somebody and how does somebody remembers a jingle from a commercial. All that fascinated me. That was always of interest to me. I found advertising fascinating. I took a trip around the world after school, came back, and decided, want to get into the tech world. I got a job selling these multimillion-dollar computers competing against IBM, living in San Francisco, and getting involved in Silicon Valley. I realized that even if you had something less expensive and more reliable and faster, people still wouldnt buy it. If IBM was putting fear, uncertainty, and doubt in their head that if something broke and it was your equipment, you would get fired for bringing it in. 

I had to understand the psychology underneath peoples decision-making. I then moved to LA and got a job at an ad agency where my job was to sell that agency services to create movies for commercials. Youd watch a commercial to rent a movie at Blockbuster back when that was happening. Thats where I got to hone my storytelling skills because if a movie had come out theatrically and not done well, it’s almost like a second chance for the studio to have the home video division to tell the agency, “Lets create a different commercial and reposition this movie in 30 seconds to get people to want to go rent or buy it. That was a lot of fun. I’m still selling and then I had a fifteen-year sales career at Conde Nast selling to brands like Lexus, Guess jeans, the Banana Republic, and Nike. It was all about how do you convince them or all the choices they have to run their ads in a particular magazine. 

It was always about whoever told the best story got the sale. Thats why Im able to speak to sales teams because Ive been in their shoes. I had quotas, trying to beat your numbers, competing against other people, and trying to differentiate yourself every time. For the last several years, Ive been helping salespeople get off what I call the self-esteem rollercoaster because I was on it and its miserable. You only feel good about yourself if your numbers are up and things are going great and bad if theyre not. When we can zoom out and realize that our identity is bigger than any one thing happening to us, whether its losing a job like I got laid off or winning a sales award as I did a couple of years later, we are free from that rollercoaster. 

What was that incident when you noticed that stories sell? What happened? 

For me personally, it was the first time I had to sell myself to get a job at Conde Nast. We often sell ourselves all the time, even if were not in that position to get hired or promotedThey put you through many interviews there. Theres a lot of competition. When it got to the 3rd and 4th interview, and I was talking to HR, and it had been very clear that this was an expensive ad magazine to run it and you had to convince people to pay a premium, I was saying to them, “You want to have somebody who can do that, and yet you only want to pay this. If I cant convince you to pay me what my salary requirements are even if its above what your budget is, then I wouldnt be good at selling your magazine?” They then went, “Oh.” 

BYW 35 John Livesay | Creating Clarity
Better Selling Through Storytelling: The Essential Roadmap to Becoming a Revenue Rockstar

I said, It reminds me of when you go looking for a house and you have your dream list, I want a viewthe pool, in a great neighborhood, and I only have this budget. A lot of times, you have to give up one of those three things to fit your budget. I said, I need a house with the pool, the view and the locationLocation-wise, I know the territory, the view I can get not only the obvious clients to advertise but non-obvious clients. As far as hitting the ground running, thats what I offer. If you dont have the budget to have that, then you might have to give something up and hire another candidate that doesnt bring all of that. Thats what allowed me to use storytelling to get myself hired the first time. 

From then forward, you started using storytelling in selling product for their advertising agency and got better and better at it. 

One of the clients I was able to convince to advertise with me at the time when I was selling a high fashion magazine called W was understanding their problem. Jaguar had said, “We want people to think of our cars as moving sculpture, but we have no idea how to make that happen. I worked with the marketing team and came up with a story of how we would have ten couples that have the income level. We can even slice it down to people who have a competitive car lease coming up within six months and get picked up in a new Jaguar, taken to our Golden Globes party, and then from there, to a private dinner at a private dining room with the chef 

Some people from the Museum of Modern Art would be speaking about art and a Jaguar representative could be there. In between courses, people could take another test driver on the block in another car. They loved that idea. It worked so well that I got ten pages of advertising, which was $500,000. They sold two cars that night. Theyve felt like they were part of the conversation because the Museum of Art was talking about what sculpture and art are, and then someone from Jaguar would say, “That inspired our design of this. 

What makes a good story? How do you help somebody? If Ireading and I think, “Ive got a great product. Ive got great service. Im talented in these different areas. How do I create a story that helps me to sell? What makes up a great story? 

The better you describe a problem, the more people will think you have their solution. Click To Tweet

A good story has four parts. The first part is the exposition. Youve got to think of yourself like a journalist. The who, what, where, when, all of that is to paint the picture so that people see themselves in the story. The second part of the story is the problem. The better you described the problem, the more people think you have their solution. In any good storythe stakes are pretty high. That makes us lean in and wonder. We have to care about the hero of the story. By the way, youre not the hero of the story, your client is, and youre the Sherpa. You then present your solution and the magic sauce to any great story is the resolution. Most people dont have that. 

What happens to this person after they bought your product? Imagine if The Wizard of Oz ended where Dorothy getting in the balloon and going back to Kansas? There wasnt that wonderful resolution scene where shes in bed going, “Theres no place like home. You were there. I learned so much about myself, and what matters. Thats why that movie and that story is so classic. When I can work with people on having all four of those elements in their case stories instead of case studies, then they are memorable, and theyre tugging at peoples heartstrings, and then people want to open the purse strings. 

Lets come up with an example. Lets say Im an entrepreneur. How could we get our audience to understand and feel this? What would be a good example to share with them? 

I can give you a real-life example of Olympus Medical. The camera company has a medical division using their camera technology to create equipment. I was working with their team, and I said, “What are you saying now to doctors to get them to buy this equipment? They said, “It makes the surgeries go 30% faster. Do you want one?” I said, “Thats left brain, numbers, speeds, and feeds. We used to call it the tech biz, pushing out information. We need to craft a story because people buy emotionally, not logically, not with numbers.” The exposition in that is heres the story that theyre not telling. Imagine how happy Dr. Higgins was down at Long Beach Memorial using our equipment and he could go out to the patients family in the waiting room an hour earlier than expected. 

If youve ever waited for somebody you love to come out of surgery, you know every minute feels like an hour. He came out and put them out of their waiting misery and said, “Good news. The scope shows they dont have cancer. Theyre going to be fine.” The doc turns to the rep and says, “Thats why I became a doctor, for moments like this.” That salesperson has a case story that they tell to another doctor at another hospital who sees themselves in that story and says, “Thats why I became a doctor too. I want your equipment.” It’s very different. 

When I worked with Olympusthey are like, “This gives us chills. Not only are we not telling stories that never occurred to us to put the patients family as a character in the story. Youll see how I used the technique of pulling you in by saying, “If youve ever waited for someone you love to come out of surgery.” Even if you havent, you probably know somebody who had to do that. Were tapping into your whole sweet spot, the doctors whyIt’s in the resolution of that story. Without that resolution, the patient was fine and the doctor came out an hour earlier. The resolution is what pulls people in. 

When youre helping them to craft their story, do you break it down piece by piece like you did before, “Lets develop this, and then we put it all together?” 

BYW 35 John Livesay | Creating Clarity
Creating Clarity: A good podcast will keep you engaged emotionally, enticing you to come back and listen every time.

 

Its a step-by-step process. I get to work with them and saying, “That resolution could be stronger. The problem, we could have a little more emotion in that and get the stakes a little higher. Its a fine-tuning process to get it clear, concise, and compelling. Thats my checklist. We got to make sure its doing all three before we put it out into the world. 

Which goes right along with clarify, youre using stories to make things clear so that people can make a decision to move in the direction that you want them to go. 

The first time I heard that the confused mind always says, no, that was a huge light bulb for me. I was like, “That makes perfect sense to me.” For me, thats my why of clarification. Thats why the stakes are so high if Im not clear, and if Im not teaching other people to be clear, then no ones ever going to tell you that theyre confused. They just wont buy. Their ego wont let them. Youre using acronyms they dont understand. Even as a dentist with a patient, you start describing some procedure, and theyre like, I dont understand that, but Im going to pass. Thanks, anywayI dont need that. Its too confusing. 

If you say, “Here’s what happens when if you don’t get this root canal, crown, or implant,” then they go, “I don’t want that.” For example, when I was working out with my trainer, he was like, “Were going to do deadlifts.” I’m like, “Do we have to? Who cares what the back of my legs looks like? He goes, “Have you ever been in the shower and seen an old guy with a saggy butt?” I’m like, “Yes.” He goes, “Thats because they dont have strong hamstrings to hold it up. I’m like, How many do you want me to do? I’m totally in now. I don’t want to be that guy. Thats what I mean about painting the picture of what the stakes are if you dont do something. 

What advice do you give to people? Im thinking myself here. I would love to tell more stories, but in the heat of the moment, I feel like answered the question. 

That is a behavior weve learned. I have two parts to this answer. The first part is confident people are comfortable with silence. Just because somebody asks you a question, it doesnt mean you have to jump into your normal response of, Let me answer that question for you. You can take a breath. You can take a few seconds and remember, I want to tell a story to answer your question.” Even if you have to use that transition statement, theyd ask you a question, “Let me tell you a story thats going to answer your question.” It makes sense why youre telling me a story. Youve given me a reason to listen, and then you go into it. My real tip on becoming a better listener is after youve answered the question, ask somebody, did that answer your question? 

Confident people are comfortable with silence. Click To Tweet

Youd be surprised how people will say, “Yes, it didIt did, but now I have another question. You want to have the dialogue going. The willingness to, Ive answered that. Im done. Back to my presentation. No. If I wasnt clear, thats my responsibility. I didnt answer your question. You dont want to be seen as a politician that avoids questions, telling a story. Is that the answer you were looking for? When you make people feel seen and heard, they feel appreciated, and theyre on your side. Thats the trust-building and the core of getting a relationship going in any situation. 

Why are stories effective? 

Its literally in our DNA. If you think back to the days when we all lived in caves, there were stories on the walls. People would sit around campfires and tell stories. Its how legacies get passed down. When you tell someone a story, their brain goes, “This might be entertainingor at least interesting, hopefully. They’re not data that I have to analyze. Were shifting out of, Let me see if this is something I agree with or disagree with,” to “Im in the story. Im taking on a journey.” It taps into a different way of thinking. The biggest problem itself is being forgettable. If you push out facts and figures and you hang up or leave the room or the Zoom and like, “I dont remember what that guy said about the WHY Institute. 

If you tell a story of how somebody discovered their why and started teaching their team how to discover their why and how now, its the foundation to their whole success, then they are remembering that story and repeating it to other people, because everybody wants to be brought up in that second meeting. You and your team, you go present to pitch something to a potential client, and theyre looking at maybe a competitor or two, and then they have the second meeting where they say, “We heard three pitches. Which one does anybody like or remember?” 

If nobody remembers anything, its just a bunch of numbers, we should go with the cheapest solution. If someone sold a story of a coach that suddenly figured out their own why and help their clients figure out their why much fastermuch more accurately, and how that coaching business took off because the results the clients were getting, because the foundation of the why was therethats the story that people are saying, “You got to get the why first before you started anything else. Its like building a house without foundation. 

I wonder if thats why podcasts have become popular now. We get to talk to people and hear their stories instead of what they did or the facts, figures, and features. We get to talk about whats the story behind that. Instead of you being somebody who learned how to tell a story, you had a reason to have to learn how to tell stories, which opened all that whole world up for you. 

People crave stories. In fact, some of the most popular podcasts are those serialized things that used to be old-school television shows and still exist on Netflix, where we binge-watch. Why do we binge-watch? If they have a cliffhanger at the end or an open loop in a story, Ill watch the first five minutes to find out if that person died or not. Thats what keeps us engaged emotionally. A good podcast will do that because youre being informed and entertained and hopefully inspired. If youre hitting all three of those buttons in your stories and in your podcast that keeps people coming back. Thats the sticky factor that advertising is all about. 

Tell us about BThe Lifeguard of Your Own Life! That was your TEDx Talk. What was that all about? 

I literally was a lifeguard. I want to emphasize the fact that when you tell the story, make sure its authentic. I have some credibility talking about being a lifeguard. One of the lessons I learned all those many years ago was dont panic and stay calm when someone is drowning. Youve got to rely on your training. I have a special effect about that evenI had to jump in and save a little girl who was twelve years old. She dived off the high dive for the first time and she was underwater two seconds too long. I had to pull her out and stay calm myself. That lesson of not panicking and staying calm served me my whole career, including when I got laid off from Conde Nast back in 2008, and everyone else was storming out and angry. 

I said to the publisher, “Dont you want a status report to know where these ads should be running down the road in which page numbers?” Thatd be great, but everyone else is angry. Theyre leaving. I said, Im not going to do that to the clients. My training from not panicking and staying calm during a stressful situation like that where I had to be out on the same day is what allowed me to get rehired back two years later and win salesperson of the year.” I was the only one that left on a good note. Were all being with the pandemic. Its not the last time were going to be disrupted in our lives and this ability to not panic and stay calm as opposed to, “Its a hurricane. I dont have to evacuate. Someones going to send a helicopter if things get bad.” No, we all have to be our own lifeguards. 

You took all youve learned, and you put it into your book. Tell us about the book Better Selling Through Storytelling. 

People have asked me to not only have it as a book but also as an online course. After Ive been speaking to teams or if people want to work with me, the course and the book all work together on teaching you how to become a black belt in storytelling. We cover the mindset of how important it is to what story youre telling yourself, which is what your work is all about, and then how to tell a story that gets you out of the friend zone at work. Almost everyone Ive ever worked with, we all know what the friend zone is in the dating world. Most of us mortals have been stuck in the friend zone in our dating life. As a salesperson, you go, Im interested. Send some information,” and it’s crickets. I show people how to get out of that friend zone at work where people say theyre interested, but theyre not intrigued enough. I go from getting people from, Im interested” to Im in.” Storytelling is that bridge. 

Give us an example of that. Take us through that particular scenario where somebody says, Im interested, and crickets, versus, Yes, Iin.” 

The premise is if youve said something interesting, for example, when I was calling on Speedo to get them to advertise with me. I said to them, “Would you advertise that in my fashion magazine?” They said, “No, were going into fitness magazine. I used part of my training is what if. You start a sentence with what if? It gets you on the right side of the imagination and storytellingI start to paint a picture. I said, “What if we did something unexpected with your sportswear line and treated it like it was high fashion. We could have the models wearing your sportswear around a swimming pool at a hotel. Since Michael Phelps is on your payroll during the Olympics, you could invite him, and we get all kinds of press. They were no longer went from no to, “Were interested. How would that work?” Now, were into intriguing. I paint the picture a little bit more. It became such an irresistible idea that they went from, “Were not running in a fashion magazine, to “This is going to get us a lot more press and sales and publicity.” I got the sale. More importantly for me personally, as a former lifeguard, I got to meet Michael Phelps. Thats a whole another story of what lessons I learned that I could pass on now. 

Before you do that, it’s like you were taking us through a few steps there. What were those steps? 

BYW 35 John Livesay | Creating Clarity
Creating Clarity: When you bring passion to your stories, you will increase your sales and feel happy about why and what you’re doing.

 

First of all, youre invisible. Lets say Speedo never thought of a fashion magazine even on their radar. Its invisible. Its my job to be on their radar. You then move up to insignificant. In the dating world, I dont know whats worse, invisible or insignificantI was at the insignificant rung. Theyre like, “Were running in fitness. Its insignificant to us for us to be in fashion. No one thinks of this as fashion.” I had to come up with the idea that it was interesting enough for them to at least take a meeting and then paint the picture to get them up to intriguing and then flush all the details out about, “Which hotel, which pool, which press would be invited?” The details of getting Michael Phelps there and working with them to make that happen, which was the linchpin to the idea, all is what took that up to the irresistible level. 

Irresistible then becomes decision, “I got to make it happen. 

Im interested so I’m inIn the dating world“We can stop thinking about you. We text you all the time. In this case“Were excited for this event. 

Does every decision go through those stages or does every sale goes through those stages? 

It does. The old way of selling, I had to do it for decades. We would do projections. How many people are at 90%50%, or 20%? You do the Math, and then youd give a number of, I can make this many sales this month, this quarter, this year.” Nobody thinks of themselves as a percentage. I created this ladder to put our empathy hat on so that we see ourselves through the clients eyes. Where are we on the ladder? Are we invisible? Are we stuck interesting? Are we intriguing? Do we have clients that love us, but were not paying enough attention to them? You know as well as I do that any relationship thats not nurtured goes away. 

I know what youre talking about because we use HubSpot. In HubSpot, there are different levels of where the sale is but I donreally understand them very well. How do you know Im at 20%40%, or 70%Where did you come up with that? What youre talking about gives me the next phase to shoot for and what that means. 

Its a roadmap for everyone I work with of how they look at their clients. They have these dream clients that theyre invisible and theyre afraid to reach out to and like, “Lets collaborate and then lets create some stories to get you up each rung of the ladder.” Most of us mortalsif were having a coffee date with somebody, we dont ask them to get marriedyet a lot of people are reaching to people on LinkedIn going, “Do you want to buy?” You got to figure out where you are on the ladder to move up. 

Tell us about Michael Phelps. 

On the day of the event, the fashion show is going great. He couldnt have been nicer. Im a total fan. I walked up to him and said, Michael, everyone says youre successful because your feet are like fins and your lung capacity is bigger than the average person, but Im guessing theres something else that makes you an Olympic champion. He goes, “Yes, John. When I was younger, my coach said to me, Michael, are you willing to work out on Sundays? I said, ‘Yes, coach. He said, ‘We got 52 more workouts in a year than the competition.” I said, “Thanks, Michael.” When I give that story to audiences, I ask them, “What are you willing to do that your competition isnt to get to the Olympic level. What are you willing to do that they maybe even havent thought to do?” That leads to another story. Thats how I interweave storytelling with takeaways. 

I had a coach named Alan Stein on the show. He was doing some work with Kobe Bryant. He said that Kobe would come in at 4:00 in the morning and work out at 9:00 and then work out at 12:00. Where everybody else was working out two times a day, he was working out three times a day so that gave him the same thing. He said, Im gaining on my competition to the point where soon theyll never be able to catch me. 

I dont know if you noticed when I was telling that Michael Phelps’s story. This is a tip for everyone who wants to be a better storyteller, tell your story in the present tense. I spoke it like it was live dialogue, like you were eavesdropping in on the conversation. Instead of saying, “When I asked Michael why he’s so successful, he told me his coach said work out on Sundays. I acted it out for you with different voices, looking down, looking up. Yes, coach.” That’s the difference between telling a good story versus reading something. 

Instead of talking about it, it’s bringing me into it. What other tips you got for us? Im speaking at an event. Now I got to use all these things. I wont do as good a job as you will, but Ill pick up a little bit. 

If youre giving a talk or youre giving a sales pitch, whatever it is, my big suggestion is to reverse engineer it. For my left-brain friends, I dont know why that is out of the nine but Im sure theres a lot of them. The logic people love that, “Reverse engineer something? Im in.” Thats how I pull them inIm like, “Lets reverse engineer this.” You ask yourself these three questions“What do I want the audience to think, feel or do? When you have the answers to those three questions, you now have the end of your talk, the end of your pitch, and then you go, “Whats my opening?” You structure the rest of your talk from there. You want them to do all of those things, not just one. 

Ive seen many people make presentations go, “Thats all we got. Any questions?” As opposed to, “Let’s sum up the potential journey we could go on together to renovate this airport and make people feel proud to live in the city who are returning home and give people a wow factor whove never been here before and reframe their concept of what Pittsburgh looks like.” Were the perfect team to make you do this. A lot of us have lived here our whole life. This isnt another job for us. This is the hometown game. I helped Gensler Craft when they won a billion-dollar airport renovation of the Pittsburgh Airport against two other firms. 

Tell us about that. 

They were told, “Youre in the final three. You can all do the work or you wouldnt be in the final three. You have an hour to come in and tell us why. Part of the criteria was likeability because weve got to work with you for six years.” Thats when they pulled me in. They said, “We usually show our designs and hope thats enough to win the business. We dont even know where to start.” I said, “Lets start with the team slide.” This is part of what I teach in the course and working with people, your story of origin. I said, “What are you going to say?” “My name is Bob. Ive been here ten years.  

Im like, “No. Bob, what made you become an architect?” “I was eleven years old. I play with Legos. Now I have a son thateleven and I still play with Legos with him. I have that same passion.” “Where were you before here? The Israeli Army.” “You learned about focus and discipline. Since youre in charge of making sure this thing comes on time and under budget, youre the perfect background. I pulled out little individual stories of each of them that made them memorable and likable. The other two firms did the traditional, “This is what I do. 

When it came time for the presentation, do you think they thought more about the facts, figures, and features or the feelings? 

The feelings. I was with them for two days prepping for that one hour to win because the stakes were high. From what theyre saying at the openingat the endingon the team side, to turning those before and after pictures of other airports into a story, the storytelling became the whole framework for the whole hour. 

You brought up something else that is a struggle for me. Im guessing its going to be a struggle for the readers and thats how to end a presentation. Thats not easy, at least for me. It seems sometimes it fizzles out versus hit them with that end. What are some tips on finishing presentations? 

I also use this when I do virtual talks. I want all of you to go out into the world and think of yourselves as artists who tell stories because the world needs people like you who are passionate about what theyre doing to tell those stories because youre not just selling equipment, youre selling a solution that helps people save lives. The world needs people who care about patients and the families in the world from a completely different standpoint besides the profit and loss, but who see them as people and see them as the potential family members. When you bring that kind of passion to your stories, youre going to not only increase your sales but feel happy and passionate about why youre doing what youre doing. 

You got to throw in the music at the end. 

It’s emotion. Its not an informational push. Its a biological connection with all the senses and the sound. We feel and see something. Do we see ourselves as an artist telling stories or do we see ourselves as a rep pushing the equipment? 

Those of you that are reading and cant see John, he is moving his hands and moving in the chair seat. Youre more animatedIm feeling it as youre speaking. 

Remember, what youre selling is yourself and your energy metaphysically, quantum physics or whatever you want to look at it. I remember when my speaking agent said, “Congrats, XYZ client hired you. They liked your energy on the interview. Thats what theyre buying. Not the content, not my experience, not all the work Im going to do, not the course. They go, “We felt better after talking to you on the interview. We felt, if you could make us feel that good, youd probably make all 300 of our team feel that good.” The more we remember that its energy that were connecting on, then we come from a completely different place because we’re not phoning it in. 

John, if people are thinking, “I need to get ahold of John. I want to have him come speak to our sales team. I want to hire him to work with me. How should they get ahold of you? 

The easiest way is to go to my website, JohnLivesay.com. If you cant remember any of that, just Google, The Pitch Whisper, and my content shows up. If anybody wants a free eBook of my top storytelling tips, all you have to do is take out your phone and text the word Pitch to 66866. Youll get some top storytelling tips that we’ve covered hereThatll be a great way for you to go, Im starting to get this.” If you want the next steps of working with me in the course and/or as a speaker, reach out. 

Whats the best piece of advice youve ever given or the best piece of advice youve ever gotten? 

The best piece of advice Ive ever gotten was from Alison Levine when she was on my podcast. She said, “Treat every opportunity to speak as if its your big break because it might be. You never know whos in the audience. 

When you make people feel seen and heard, they feel appreciated and become attracted to your side. Click To Tweet

John, thank you so much for taking the time to be hereIve enjoyed it. I know you and I are going to be in touch as were on our journeys. Im looking forward to you helping me tell a better story. 

It’s my pleasure, Gary. Thanks for crafting the WHY Institute and helping us all figure out which why resonates. 

Thanks. 

Its time for our new segment, which is guess their why of famous people. I want to have us think about the why of Walt Disney. What do you think Walt Disneywhy was? I think that Walt Disneys why was to challenge the status quo and think differently. He saw stuff that the rest of us didnt see. He created things that we would be too scared to do, too worried about creating something of that magnitude and he just did it. He didnt let anybody tell him no. I know he was surrounded by his brother, Roy, who was the how guy. Walt had the vision. Roy had the structure, process, and systems. Walt was challenged. Roy was the right way. 

Roy built all the structure around making it happen by taking Walts vision and turning it into reality. Without Roy, there would be no Walt Disney, and then there would be no Disneyland. What do you think? Tell me what you think Walt Disneys why is. If you love the show, dont forget to subscribe and leave us a review or rating on whatever platform you use so that we can bring the why to the world and help one billion people discover, make decisionsand live based on their why. Have a great week. I will see you in the next episode. 

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About John Livesay

BYW 35 John Livesay | Creating ClarityJohn Livesay, aka The Pitch Whisperer, is a sales keynote speaker where he shows companies’ sales teams how to turn mundane case studies into compelling case stories so they win more new business. From John’s award-winning career at Conde Nast, he shares the lessons he learned that turns sales teams into revenue rock stars. His TEDx talk: Be The Lifeguard of your own life has over 1,000,000 views.
Clients love working with John because of his ongoing support after his talk which includes implementing the storytelling skills from his best-selling book and online course “Better Selling Through Storytelling.” His book is now required reading for the UTLA (the University of Texas in LA) course on Entertainment and Media studies. He is also the host of “The Successful Pitch” podcast, which is heard in over 60 countries.
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Podcast

What It Takes To Be A Good Coach: On Leadership And Culture With Jamy Bechler

BYW 34 | Good Coach

 

Jamy Bechler believes that it is a coach’s responsibility to help and inspire their people to be the best they can be. They can only do that when they learn how to step outside of themselves and see where others are coming from. This separates the good coach and leader from the rest. An author, motivational speaker, leadership consultant, and host of the popular “Success is a Choice” podcast, Jamy fulfills his why of “makes sense” by seeking to find better ways to solve problems and get something that makes sense and useful.

With a background as a championship athletic director, award-winning college basketball coach, and business consultant, he works with high-level sports teams and businesses helping them maximize results. In this episode, he joins Dr. Gary Sanchez to discuss what he sees are the differences between winning and losing programs. He shares his understanding of what a good coach and leader are, all the while highlighting the importance of leadership, culture, and teamwork.

If you’re looking to step up your game as a coach as well as uplift others and build that bond with them, then join in on this conversation and allow Jamy’s insights and process to guide you.

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

What It Takes To Be A Good Coach: On Leadership And Culture With Jamy Bechler

If you’re a regular reader, you know that we talk about 1 of the 9 why’s and then we bring on somebody with that why so we can see how their why has played out in their life. We are going to be talking about the why of makes sense. If this is your why, you are driven to solve problems and resolve challenging or complex situations, you have an uncanny ability to take in lots of data and information, observe situations and circumstances around you, and sort through them in order to create order. You consider factors, problems, concepts, and organize them into solutions that are sensible and easy to implement.

It is not even that you enjoy problem-solving necessarily. You simply can’t help yourself. It is the lens through which you view the world. Interestingly, it is not necessary for you to share your solutions on a continuous basis. It is sufficient that you yourself have solved the problem or resolve the complexity of the situation. Often you are viewed as an expert because of your unique ability to find solutions quickly. You also have a gift for articulating a solution and summarizing it clearly in understandable language for your benefit and the benefit of others. You believe that many people are stuck. If they could make sense out of their situation, they could find a simple solution and move forward. You help them understand and see their way through.

I’ve got a great guest for you. His name is Jamy Bechler. He is an author, motivational speaker, leadership consultant, and host of the popular Success is a Choice podcast. With a background as a championship athletic director, award-winning college basketball coach, and business consultant, he works with high-level sports teams and businesses helping them maximize results. He is recognized as an expert in leadership, culture, and teamwork.

Jamy, welcome to the show.

That was a mouthful. I appreciate the great introduction, Gary. Thanks for having me. I listened to that why and I’m like, “That’s a lot to live up to. Someone that’s solving stuff or make sense of the world that we live in sometimes.” As a motivational speaker, I’m not sure I motivate all the time. Saying a motivational speaker, that’s like someone introducing you as a comedian. “Say something funny, funny guy.”

Jamy, take us through your life. How did you get into coaching? Were you an athlete yourself? Did you play sports? Give us a little bit of a tour of your life.

I was a stereotypical kid athlete that played every sport. I went to camps. I did every sport possible because we didn’t have iPhones. We had a black and white TV until probably I was in high school, which is crazy with the three channels and then PBS. Younger people don’t even know what I’m talking about. We had to stay outside, so we played sports all the time.

There's always a baseline of competence in talent. Click To Tweet

Where’d you grow up?

I grew up in Michigan. Even in the wintertime, we’re shoveling snow off the cement in front of our house to shoot hoops. Eventually, my dad built this pole barn and he put this basketball rim in there. It was a little bit shorter. It was only 9’6”. A lot of us were able to dunk on that. All winter long, we’d be inside with this little space heater but it was great. We’d shoot. You had to know the right angle to shoot the ball, so it didn’t get stuck in the rafters. It wasn’t a big enough barn where you could put a lot of arc on it. The point is, we were always playing sports. We were always doing something. I’ve read this book in seventh grade.

Before getting into high school, at seventh grade, I’m in English class and my dreaded English teacher, Mrs. Shannon, who I thought was the devil, did one good thing in my life. She had this library in the corner of her room and we could check out books. There was a John Wooden book, the great legendary basketball coach from UCLA. There was this book called They Call Me Coach. I read this book as a seventh-grader. I would love to say that I was this mature seventh-grader that said, “One day, I want to be a coach like John Wooden. I want to be the guy that helps people. It doesn’t matter if you’re a benchwarmer or you’re a star player. I’m going to be the coach that loves you.”

I wasn’t that mature but I read it. I was like, “I want to have a coach like that.” I recognize that there are good coaches and there are bad coaches. I want a coach like John Wooden that loves me, even if I make a turnover or a shot. That was the first time I thought that there was a difference between coaches that there was good coaches and bad coaches, good qualities and bad qualities. I got a little bit older. I realized I probably wasn’t going to go to the NBA. I started thinking more about coaching.

As I got into college, I went from being a star athlete in high school to my best friend who was the water cooler and the athletic trainer. I started to look at basketball a little bit differently. I started to look at the whole forest and not just my tree because I wasn’t playing very much. A lot of people will be bitter, be mad, or be a victim. I started looking at it from the perspective of, “I’m not playing much but I want to be a coach. I know my career is not to play, so I want to be a coach. I want to soak in as much of this as possible.” I was a good athlete and a bad athlete at times.

I became a coach for about twenty years. I was Coach of the Year. I was a good coach. I was also fired. I also had losing seasons. I also have some players that hate my guts. I also have players that we still keep in touch with. I had some ups and downs as a coach is. We’ll get into what I’m doing in a little bit. That’s helped me because I’ve traveled by plane. I’ve traveled first class. I’ve had programs with big budgets. I’ve coached at all different levels. I’ve also driven fifteen-passenger vans after losses where you eat sack lunches from the cafeteria. You put your own peanut butter and jelly on. You put your ham and mustard on.

I’ve seen all these different perspectives, which has helped me in my consulting with sports teams because I’ve been where they’ve been at, whether they’ve been successful or terrible. Knowing what it’s like to struggle through a season, whether it’s your fault or not, you’ve struggled through that season. I’ve lived it all and been an athletic director as well. For years, I’ve been on my own. I’ve been self-employed or unemployed depending on the day as an entrepreneur.

We don't step out of ourselves sometimes and see from other people’s perspectives and where they are coming from. Click To Tweet

Where did you play basketball? Where did you coach basketball?

I played basketball in college at a place called Hiram College in Ohio. I was the epitome of mediocrity. Not only did I play basketball, I went to play basketball there but I also played some football and ran track. There are only two types of people that play multiple sports in college. One is the absolute maniac people that are amazing, the Bo Jacksons, the Deion Sanders. The other is the people that aren’t any good at any of the sports. The coaches are okay with sharing you because you don’t help them out anyways. I was fell in that category where the coaches didn’t care about me as much.

Where did you coach?

I coached a lot of schools, mainly in the South but I did start off at Kent State University in Ohio as a graduate assistant. I went to Anderson University in Indiana, LeTourneau University in Texas, Newberry College in South Carolina, Tennessee Temple in Chattanooga, Bryan College in Tennessee, and then Martin Methodist College in Tennessee was my last coaching stop. I was an Athletic Director at Marion High School in Indiana. The fifth largest gym in the world for high school. Nobody’s won more boys basketball state titles than that school had. That was a fun place to go to be an Athletic Director since I was a basketball guy.

That is a lot of interesting experience that you had. You didn’t just stay at one system and saw one thing. You got to see a whole lot of different organizations and leadership styles. What did you see was the difference between the winning programs and the losing programs?

Certainly, there’s always a baseline talent. No matter what we’re talking about, there’s always a baseline of competence in talent. Putting that to the side, the number one thing was the buy-in, the ownership of the players, and the coaches for a common goal. Are we bought-in to what we’re trying to accomplish? We can call this culture. Culture is a buzzword. Culture is something I talk about all the time. Ultimately, that culture is a buy-in tour. We’re all going to try to get to the same place together and in the same way. Sometimes we want to get to the same place but we don’t all want to go the same way or the same route. It’s having buy-in from, if not everybody, most of the people. That’s coaches and players.

Sometimes, the players and the coaches are on different pages. They’re not even in the same book. They have completely different agendas and selfish motives. You see this in businesses too, a lot. When I’ve consulted with a lot of businesses and I’m sure you’ve seen this as well, it’s the upper management, CEO level, or supervisory level. They’ll be like, “Come in and fix these.” We’re all part of the problem and the solution at the same time. It’s not us versus them.

I get that a lot with coaching. Coaches think, “It’s not my fault. Jamy is doing this, Jamy missed that shot, or Jamie didn’t know what he was doing.” It might not be your fault but it’s 100% your responsibility to help Jamy to know what he’s supposed to do, to help make Jamy the best he possibly can be, or to help have Jamy be inspired. That’s a big thing. We see this all the time with coaches. “These players are this. These players are that. They’re bored in practice or they don’t pay attention.” You don’t give them a reason because you don’t engage with them. You don’t inspire them.

It’s the same with businesses. “Our employees don’t want to be here.” It’s because you don’t make it fun. “I pay them a lot.” That doesn’t matter. How much you pay them doesn’t matter when they’re in that job doing it. That only matters on Saturday and Sunday, the days off, or on their vacation. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter how much you’re paying them. You have to inspire them in other ways if you want more out of them. Everybody being on the same page going together, it’s our team. It’s our goals. It’s not, “Gary is the boss, so it’s Gary’s team. It’s Gary’s goals. We’re trying to accomplish what Gary wants.” It’s not that. It’s, “We’re all going together. We’re all going to celebrate success together. We’re all going to overcome challenges together. We’re going to win and lose together.”

How do you teach somebody to get buy-in?

BYW 34 | Good Coach
They Call Me Coach

It’s a two-prong approach. In my case, I work primarily with sports teams. I certainly work with businesses but sport is my bread and butter. That’s my lane for the most part. You’re working with students but you’re also working with the coaches at the same time. With the students, you’re trying to find out what makes them tick. You’re trying to find out what their hopes and dreams are, what some of their challenges are, and understanding them. Also, trying to get them to understand the coaches, what the coaches are going through, and what the coaches are trying to get at. All of this comes back to trying to get everybody to see the whole forest and not just see their own tree. We’re trying to get them to understand as much as possible not to be understood.

A Stephen Covey’s great book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, one of those habits is seek first to understand then to be understood. A lot of us don’t ever do that. We want to be understood. “You’re not seeing where I’m coming from.” That might be true but you haven’t even seen where I’m coming from. It’s one of these things. As coaches, we don’t understand what a sixteen-year-old is going through or what a sophomore in college is going through. We can’t understand that as a 40-year-old, as a 50-year-old, we don’t understand them and they certainly don’t understand us. The thing is our sixteen-year-old self probably wouldn’t understand the sixteen-year-olds now in a lot of ways.

We don’t step out of ourselves sometimes, see where other people are coming from and see their perspectives. That’s one of the very first things we will do when we work with any team. It’s gotten them to see other perspectives. We have a lot of little activities we’ll do that are fun that blows people’s minds and different things like that of understanding in perspective. We talk a lot about seeing things from a different viewpoint, from a different lens because you’re never going to get common ground. It can’t be, “Gary disagrees with me on this. Gary has this opinion. I have my opinion and so we’re done.” You got to work with each other. We’ve got to figure out a way to how can, “I can do what Gary can’t do. Gary can do what I can’t do.” Together we’re going to fill in gaps. Together we’re going to complement one another. We’re going to play our roles to the best of our ability.

One of the things I talk about a lot is cars. I don’t know much about cars but with teamwork, with filling gaps and stuff, we’ll talk to kids, “What’s your favorite kind of car?” They’ll give this expensive $100,000 car. I’ll show them this little $5 spark plug. First of all, most kids don’t even know what this is but I’ll show them this spark plug. I’ll be like, “This $5, $10 spark plug can keep your $100,000 car from driving. It can sideline your car. This $5 spark plug can also make your car be $100,000, be cool, and work effectively.” Roles are important. Every role and person has value. We need to see the value and see what other people can bring to the table, whatever that is. Understanding in perspective is one of the very first things needed in order for everybody to come together.

What popped into my mind when you were saying that is tell us how you felt about that kind of a conversation when you were sitting on the bench as the player in college wanting to be the star but finding yourself next to the water cooler.

The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude toward the problem. Click To Tweet

Most players that are in my situation would have hated it. I hated it because you’re embarrassed. As a college athlete, maybe you spent 18, 19 years of your life, depending on what the sport is preparing to be a college athlete and then you’re a failure. Your whole life, you’ve been successful. Your whole life, you’ve got up at 4:00 in the morning. You’ve grinded, rise, and grind type of stuff. You sacrifice. How many tens of thousands of dollars have you paid out or your parents have paid out to go to travel ball? You don’t expect to sit. It’s embarrassing, especially in a team sport.

Team sport is a little bit different than individual. In team sport, there’s a difference of opinion. There’s interpretation. It’s not just that, “I’m better than Gary.” We can’t prove that. Maybe I’m better than Gary at one-on-one or a better shooter but the team needs what Gary can offer more. In track, if I’m not on that four-person relay, it’s because I’m slower than those other four people. There’s some objective. Not that makes it easier but it’s less blame. There are more things that I can do personally to make myself better or to change the situation. In a team sport, most people sitting at the end of the bench are most people that don’t have a role that they don’t like. They’re not going to act the right way about that. They’re sometimes going to make the problem worse.

I love a quote from one of the greatest literary scholars of all time, Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean. He talks about the problems not the problem. The problem is your attitude toward the problem. The problem is not that I’m sitting on the bench. The problem is my attitude towards sitting on the bench. Coming back around to answering your question specifically, what you have to do with a young person or with anyone, an employee. You have to connect with them and you have to develop a strong connection, a strong bond that you can have some difficult conversations with them.

We try to have tough love. “I’m keeping it real with you, Jamy. I’m telling you what you need to improve on.” We have these tough conversations but we don’t have a strong bond. “I don’t trust that person. I don’t trust Coach Sanchez when he’s trying to tell me something because we haven’t developed this bond. I don’t trust him that he has my best interest. I don’t care if he has the other people’s best interests. I want him to have my best interest. If he’s looking at me as a commodity or this is a transactional relationship, I’m not going to believe in what he’s saying.” As managers, as leaders, or anyone in a position of leadership, we do that all the time.

We try to have a conversation with someone without having a bond or any kind of connection. You have to have that so you can figure out what makes me as the athlete tick, what’s important to me. You also have to ask a lot of questions. Ask me questions. Find out where I’m at. Find out what’s important to me. Find out as much as you can about me as the person so that you know what buttons to push as well. There’s also one major thing that leaders don’t do very well is they don’t find a way to utilize me as an employee, to utilize my strengths, to add value to me, or to catch me being good. However, that is, they don’t utilize me. Going back to the basketball analogy, how many times is there a blowout in a game? “Maybe you leave the starters in an extra five minutes longer than maybe you should have. You could have utilized me in that game a little bit more. Maybe I’m a great shooter and the team was playing a zone. You could have used me to shoot the ball a little bit more.”

Have you always been a good problem solver?

BYW 34 | Good Coach
Good Coach: It doesn’t matter how much you’re paying your employees. You have to inspire them in other ways if you want more out of them.

 

I don’t know. I understand that why and I understand I do like making things better. Saying I’m a good problem solver, I don’t know that. My wife might say I’m not a very good problem solver sometimes. I like making things better, whatever that is. I will go into a fast-food restaurant. I can’t help it. I will see ways that they could be better at things, especially if I’ve gone into a Chick-fil-A and then I go somewhere. I’m like, “Why can’t everybody copy the way Chick-fil-A does their drive-through?” I’ll fly a different airline in Southwest. I tend to be a Southwest snob. I’ll fly Southwest Airlines all the time.

It’s only a problem when there’s a problem. If there’s a problem with your airline or with your flight, Southwest will try to work with you a lot more than another airline will. When you have a customer support issue or customer service, you see the culture of an organization. I do see things like that. How can we make things better? You always want to be improving. Probably the answer would be yes. I’ve always tried to make things better. I’ve always tried to make myself better in whatever way I can. You call it problem-solving. That’s great.

My wife, that’s one of her strengths. When she’s interviewed for jobs and stuff, she says, “I love to solve problems.” She comes at it from more of a puzzle standpoint. She’s also a person on our Kindle or on our tablet who’ll do puzzles. She loves to solve those kinds of problems. I never do any of those things. Life has enough issues and problems to solve. She likes it from almost a game standpoint. I see it as how we can always get better.

You’re the head coach. You’ve got a lot of pieces moving. You’ve got a lot of challenges that you’re looking at. Are you somebody that enjoys having a lot of things coming at you at once and trying to figure out what to do?

I wouldn’t say I enjoy it but it doesn’t intimidate me. It’s not something that I get stressed about it. I understand I’m juggling a lot of balls. If something’s going to mess up and I’m going to lose those 3, 4, or 5 balls, I’m going to make sure I catch 1 or 2 of those balls. 1 or 2 of those is more important than the others. You’re always going to focus a little bit more on a couple of things. I wouldn’t say I enjoy it but I certainly don’t have a problem with it. It’s something that I can take in multiple information. Let’s see a lot of different perspectives. One of the problems with that is sometimes I would be a little slower with making a decision. I have an athletic director who is one of the best athletic directors I’ve ever worked for. He would be somebody that says, “We may not make the best decision but we’re going to make a quick, good decision.” I’m not saying that was good or bad but it worked for him. I thought he was a great athletic director.

Take care of people the way they want to be taken care of. Click To Tweet

I tend not necessarily to be paralyzed, paralysis by analysis but I do tend to, “Can we find a better solution? We come up with this one but can we come up with a little bit better?” It’s one of those tinkering type of things where I tinker a little bit too much sometimes. Not necessarily drag my feet or that could be looked at. I’m not a procrastinator but sometimes I will wait a little bit longer to make a decision because I want to get a little bit, “Can we see this perspective a little bit differently? How can we look at this problem a little bit more so that we’re making the right decision as opposed to a good decision?”

When you walk into a sandwich shop that you’ve never been before and there are 30 choices of sandwiches on the menu, is it easy for you to figure out which one you want to order or does it take you a while to make a decision? If it does, how do you then make a decision?

Did my wife tell you to ask me that? I tend to go last, all under the disguise of, “I’ve got to pay for it,” so I’ll go last. Everyone can go before me. If I go into a new sandwich shop, it would be because I’ve heard that they make this good sandwich or they have this reputation for something. If it’s one of those, Gary that you’re like, “Let’s go to this shop,” I’m going to ask you, first of all, what are they known for? I’m probably going to look for do they have that little icon or little logo next to one of their sandwiches that’s the chef’s special or this thing that they’re known for? I know I’m going too deep into the details.

A hole in a wall sandwich shop, they’re known for something. That grandpa started that shop many years ago because he made one sandwich good for the family and then it became something else. I want to do what they’re known for. I want to experience that. If that’s not the issue, then I’m going to go with it. “I love Reuben’s. Do they have a Reuben something like that?” I’m going to try to find what do they have and then compare it to other sandwiches that I’ve had in the past. If none of that works, I’m going with, “I’ll take the club. Do you have a club?”

Here’s a question I have for you. Do you feel more successful when you’re able to make things understandable or when you’re able to find a better way?

I love the process part of it. I love working through the process. That’s not 100% answering your question. I would rather be having a good process and the result wasn’t quite what we wanted. The result will be there but the process wasn’t good. It’s not repeatable. It’s not something that we can rely on. I love process type of stuff. I love knowing that what we did was probably the right thing. I don’t know if that answers your question.

Here’s why I’m asking you this. I’m sure the readers that read a lot will know. As you’re answering questions, it sounds like your why might be to find a better way versus to make sense of the complex and challenging. However, what I’m thinking is your why is to make sense of the complex and challenging. How you do that is by looking for better ways. Your process is about finding better ways but your ultimate result is to get something that makes sense, useful, usable, and we can do something with it.

I want actionable. I want things, “How is this practical? What can we do with this information?” I wouldn’t call myself the best student ever. I was a good student but not a great student. I don’t want just academic stuff or theory. What can we do with the practicalness of it? What you say makes sense. Isn’t that the why part of what makes sense? We’re back to that.

That’s what I think your why is make sense but your how is a better way. How you do it as you’re in search of a better way? Ultimately, what you bring is something we can still explore so that we know, “What is that thing that Jamy brings?” Every time he speaks, coaches, and interacts with people, there’s something that you bring that you deliver. We can continue to work on that. While we’re thinking about that, Jamy, what is culture? How do you define culture?

Culture is the identity that your group takes on, to put it in the simplest way. I also think that identity is intentional. A lot of people will argue with that, they’ll debate that, or they’ll disagree with that saying, “The culture that we have isn’t what I wanted.” That might be true but you were very intentional about allowing your culture to be what it is. “I didn’t want it to be like this.” We make choices every day and you make choices, maybe as a leader. Your group made choices along the way to choose to do or to prioritize something over here, as opposed to something here. This got you to where you are. We’re always intentional about, “I’m choosing something over something else.”

BYW 34 | Good Coach
Good Coach: Culture is the identity that your group takes on.

 

Those choices don’t happen accidentally. What happens is the result ends up being something that we didn’t want sometimes. The culture is the identity of your group. I do believe it’s intentional because the choices we make every day lead into that. Our actions, our behaviors, and our thoughts that become actions, the standards, and the things that we allow or emphasized will end up being our culture. Sometimes as leaders, we don’t like that. We’ll say, “We don’t have a culture.” It’s like, “You do have a culture. You just might not like it.” If you don’t know what your culture is, then it’s probably not a healthy, strong culture.

Everything that you do should be geared toward where you do want to end up. Almost reverse engineer it backwards. How are we going to get there? What are the day-to-day things that we can do to help in that culture? When I was an Athletic Director, I was tasked with changing the culture. If I had $1 for every time somebody said change the culture, we’d be rich. Everybody talks about changing the culture and they don’t even know what they’re talking about half the time. I was tasked with changing the culture.

One of the first things I did is not necessarily to change the culture but we redid our whole athletic department offices. We put on fresh new paint, put new posters up, and did all this stuff. We also changed stationary, all this trivial skin deep type of stuff. None of that came close to mattering as much as how I treated my secretary. I could put out the best emails, put up the best posters on the wall, and have the best staff meetings but if I treated my secretary poorly and our interactions that caused her to maybe not be happy or inspired, she’s going to interact with hundreds of people that one day, either on the phone or the people that come into the office. She’s going to be the first face that they see.

I can do more for our culture, good or bad, based on one interaction with my secretary each morning. With your salesmen, with your HR people, or your billing people, you can do more for your culture than any memo you’re going to send out. Your culture isn’t your posters on the wall, your fancy slogans, your billboards, or your website. Your culture is what’s going on around the water cooler. When Gary and Jamy are talking at the water cooler or in the break room at 9:15 break in the morning, that’s your culture. If you want to know what your culture is, it’s what those employees or your team members are doing when you’re not around. That’s your true culture. That’s either by what you emphasize, what you reinforce, or what you allow.

Businesses are so different. For example, our company got team members in Austin, Denver, New York, India, and all over the place. How do you build a culture with more of the virtual type of companies?

It’s even more intentional at that point. COVID has introduced us to Zoom. It introduced us to a virtual type of stuff. Not working at the office, not having touchpoints, and not being in-person. That means that you have to be even more intentional about, “How I’m going to reinforce and emphasize the certain culture that we want. I don’t see Gary every day. We can’t high-five each other. We can’t hang out and watch the game together as easily. We can’t have casual Fridays.” Every Friday could be casual because we’re at home. We have to be more intentional about it. Some businesses have fallen way behind in their culture because they haven’t been intentional and proactive. They’ve been reactive.

No matter what business we're in, we're in the people business, ultimately. Click To Tweet

They’ve been reacting to everything that happens. They’ve almost been shaking their head saying, “We can’t do this.” Instead of saying, “What can we do?” Don’t let what you can’t do interfere with what you can do like some of the best companies, best teams, even. I work with sports teams a lot. I’ve had a lot of sports teams that I’ve been consulting with that have been in quarantine. I’ll give you one example. There are countless of these that I’ve dealt with. You’re in quarantine, whatever that reason is. One of your kids tested positive or you played a team that tested positive. You’re in fourteen-day quarantine.

You’re in a basketball team and the coach says, “What do I do? I don’t know what to do.” I’m like, “Have you had Zoom meetings?” “They’re all zoomed out.” I’m like, “What would you be doing every day with practice? What we’d have in practice? What time would you be having practice?” “3:00.” “You don’t think they’re all practiced out. You don’t think they hate to practice. They don’t like practice. You still do it, though. You need to do Zoom meetings.” “I know but they’re so boring. What do we do?” I say, “You don’t have to do it for your two hours but every day at 3:00, you need to touch base with them on Zoom or whatever platform you use. Don’t call it a Zoom meeting.”

Put lipstick on a pig. Call it something different like motivational Monday. “We’re going to have Monday Motivation at 3:00. We’re going to have a guest speaker. We’re going to talk about something inspirational. On Wednesday, we’re going to have Wacky Wednesday and we’re going to have fun. We’re going to have Tuesday Chalk Talk.” I know that’s not alliteration. It’s going to be X’s and O’s. Every single day of your fourteen weeks, you’re still going to have practice. You’re going to have it for 30 minutes at the normal time so you can touch base with them but you’re going to do something different every single day. You’re getting on Zoom but you’re never going to call it a Zoom meeting. You’re going to call it something different.

You’ve got three assistant coaches. They can come up with stuff and idea but you’re going to do something every day and you’re going to touch base with some of your athletes and some of your team members. You’re going to have them come up with some ideas as well. It’s not going to be all Jamy Bechler because Jamy Bechler is not smart enough. It’s not going to be all Gary Sanchez. Even though we’re smart as coaches, we’re not smart enough to come up with something creative every day for 16-year-olds or 21-year-olds.

We’re going to talk to some of our key leaders. Get them to come up with some ideas and have them have ownership in what we’re going to do. That’s one specific example. We walked through a lot of ways that they could execute that effectively. Essentially, what it’s doing is not looking at what you can’t do but what we can do. You can have Wacky Wednesday, karaoke night. They’re all there. They’re all singing the same song on Zoom being stupid. They can all have their phones go on and making social media of that. We’re all seeing the screen. We’re all having fun. You can watch a movie together. There are so many things that you can do.

The internet is full of Google, what you can do during COVID on Zoom calls. As a coach or as an employer, you’re not going to do quite that much as an employer but you’re going to figure out, “What can we do to make it a little bit more creative?” Gary, you as the leader, “What can I do to bring Jamy into this where Jamy’s all the way across the country? We can connect on Zoom but how can I make him want to be more engaged and want to make sure that he’s not checking his phone so often or not disengaged from this Zoom call?” It’s no different than when we have in-person meetings. If you have a boring in-person meeting, then your people are going to be disengaged. You’re not going to inspire them. You’re not going to have the culture that you want, ultimately. It’s finding solutions. How can you put lipstick on a pig?

Last question I got for you, Jamy. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received or the best piece of advice you’ve ever given?

The best piece of advice I’ve ever received I wished that I had always lived up to is, take care of people the way they want to be taken care of. We can get into nuances about different things but we talk sometimes about, treat people the way you want to be treated. Sometimes we project. I don’t like birthdays at all. I’m not a birthday guy or whatsoever. If nobody wished me a happy birthday ever, I would be fine with that. I project that onto others. I forget people’s birthdays or I don’t make it a big deal but it might be a huge deal to you, Gary.

Saying take care of people the way you want to be taken care of or treat people the way you want to be treated sometimes doesn’t go far enough. I 100% get the sentiment. It’s better than treating people terribly. Ultimately, you want to treat people the way they want to be treated. You want to find a way to inspire them. It’s about them. You need to understand them. No matter what business we’re in, we’re in the people business, ultimately. We need to treat people the way that they want to be treated whenever possible. There are some nuances to that and there are some dynamics. You can’t 100% do that in every situation but if you follow that road, it’s going to get you to a good place eventually.

Jamy, thank you so much for taking time out to be here. I appreciate it. If people are reading and they say, “I would love to have Jamy come talk to our group. I’d love to meet with him,” how can people get ahold of you?

The best way is if they’re on Twitter, they can follow me. My direct messages are open. That’s, @CoachBechler. In my website, they can get ahold of me, see my books, the podcast, and all the free stuff that we have. That’s at, CoachBechler.com. Those are the two best places. I’m on the other social media platforms as well but Twitter is the best place to get me if you’re on social media.

Thank you so much for being here. I appreciate it.

I appreciate the work you’re doing as well. This is a great show. Keep it up. Thanks for having me.

It’s time again for our new segment, which is Guess the Why. We’re going to look at the why of Kanye West. If you had to take a stab at it knowing the nine whys, what do you think Kanye why is? I think his why is to challenge the status quo and think differently, think outside the box, do things differently, not follow a traditional path, and do it his own way. He’s done that in the way he does his music. He’s done that in the way that he’s changed the direction of his life. He’s still married. I don’t know if that’s going to be the same thing when this show comes out.

I would guess that his why is to challenge the status quo. What do you think it is? Put it in wherever on your social media. Thank you so much for reading. If you have not yet discovered your why, you can do so at WhyInstitute.com. You can use the code Podcast50 and you’ll get it at half price. If you love the Beyond Your Why show, please don’t forget to subscribe and rate us. It helps us gain more readers so that we can bring the why to the world and reach our goal of helping one billion people discover, make choices, and live based on their why. Have a great week. We’ll talk to you next time.

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About Jamy Bechler

BYW 34 | Good CoachJamy Bechler is an author, motivational speaker, leadership consultant, and host of the popular “Success is a Choice” podcast. With a background as a championship athletic director, award-winning college basketball coach, and business consultant, he works with high-level sports teams and businesses helping them maximize results. He is recognized as an expert in leadership, culture, and teamwork.