Purpose-Based Recruiting: A Better Way Of Finding Talents With Max Hansen

BYW 38 | Purpose-Based Recruiting


Are you often pleased but never satisfied? Do you feel like you can still do more in whatever area you are in? If your answer is in the affirmative, then you have the same WHY as today’s guest. Dr. Gary Sanchez interviews Max Hansen, who has dedicated the last two decades of his life to providing the best hiring practices in leadership search and consulting. He enjoys helping leaders and their organizations continuously improve and succeed as higher performing cultures and teams. In this episode, he shares with us how his WHY of Better Way has been impactful in the decisions he made across his career—from playing sports to quitting it for entrepreneurship. Max tells us how he started his first company and how he is aligning people with meaningful work through purpose-based recruiting. Continuing to innovate the hiring process, he then shares how they find talents through their discovery process and leadership model.

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Purpose-Based Recruiting: A Better Way Of Finding Talents With Max Hansen

In this episode, we are going to be talking about the why of better way. If your why is better way, 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 got a great guest for you. You are going to love this guy. His name is Max Hansen. He has dedicated a few decades of his life to providing the best hiring practices in leadership search and consulting. He graduated with Bachelor’s degree from Northern Arizona in Business Administration and was fortunate to start working immediately with the Fortune 50 recruiting firm Allegis Group and Aerotech. This experience provided him with a solid foundation for understanding both best-in-class business systems and selection processes.

In January 2002, he founded his first recruiting search firm, Jobs Brokers Inc which went on to hire more than 30,000 people across a wide swath of industries, including engineering, manufacturing, education, healthcare, distribution, mining, finance, technology and apparel. Somewhere along the line, in 2010 or 2011, the traditional contingent hiring model wasn’t allowing organizations to solve the deeper-rooted issues they were facing around their hiring practices. His desire to help organizations with the root of their challenges pushed him to create the first-ever purpose-based leadership search firm called Y Scouts.

In 2015, he sold all of his interests in three traditional recruiting companies to more aggressively pursue building Y Scouts and purpose-based leadership search. He enjoys helping them and their organizations continuously improve and succeed as higher-performing cultures and teams. The root of his work goes deeper towards individual purpose, building true relationships, relentless learning, love and their ultimate intersection. Max, welcome to the show.

Thank you. I appreciate the intro. I’m sorry to send you such a long bio. During the bio, two things happened while you were reading. I felt old thinking about a few decades, not in a bad way. The other one was the better way. I can’t wait to unpack this a little bit with you. I could start to think about how much better way has been impactful in the decisions I have made and why I have done a lot of the things that I have done.

You and I met in a strange way. I will give you my version of it. Max and I were together at an event called the Genius Network. We were sitting at different tables. He didn’t notice this, I hoped but I kept looking at him thinking, “I know him from somewhere. I don’t know where but I know I know him.” When the event was over, I got up and said, “What is your name?” You said, “Max Hansen.” I said, “I know you from somewhere.” You said, “You look familiar to me too.”

We went back in our lives through all the possible connections and didn’t run into anything until the next day when we had lunch together. You said, “Tell me what you do.” I started telling you about the WHY Institute. You were like, “This is why we were supposed to meet.” That is my version. Is that what you remember?

I can’t believe it took us long to figure out that we existed in the first place based on the things that we were pursuing and our interests. When I had lunch with you, I couldn’t believe that we were coexisting in this world. We didn’t know each other but it has been awesome to meet you. I didn’t notice how creepy you were gazing over at me that night but it was awesome to meet you. I’m glad we finally figured it out. That is how I remember it. The end of it is, Gary, we gave up because I live in Phoenix, Arizona. It is where I’m based, Scottsdale. It is the biggest small city you will ever live in, business-wise. You meet everybody. I got ten close friends and we know everybody in some shape or form.

I always walk around and try not to say, “Where do I know you from,” because then our whole conversation will be consumed by that. Gary led with that and I let it go. He did figure out that there was another guy. He is about 1 foot taller than me. We look alike. I want to meet this guy one day. I think he lives in Albuquerque with Gary. He did find the guy. He did put to rest why he thought he knew me. It is because I looked exactly like one of his other friends.

Let’s go back in your life a little bit. Where were you born? What were you like in high school?

I was born in Spokane, Washington, which is an interesting place. I got lots of families still there. I still summer in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, which is close to Coeur d’Alene. What was I like in high school? I was the biggest jock and athlete you have ever met. I lettered in four sports. I loved to compete. It was my thing. My love language was competing in sports and locking arms with a group of guys. A lot of times, I was the captain of the teams and I proudly wore that badge. We did everything we needed to do to win. We enjoy doing it and have fun doing it.

Football was the sport that sang to me that pulled out everything I had. I’m not the biggest person. Back then, the rules were different. You are using the crown of your helmet to hit people. It was not frowned upon. Honestly, that is what I did. I hit people a lot of times hard. That was what I was known for. I enjoyed it. My high school experience was amazing.

I went to Catholic schools my entire life. I wore a uniform to school. I was an altar boy when I was younger up until when I played baseball in college. I like wearing almost the same thing every day. Still, I will have job broker shirts and stuff. Sometimes I will wear them and I have to remind myself I don’t have to wear a uniform anymore. That is what I was like in high school. I was very much on the athletic side.

Off to college in Northern Arizona. How did you pick Northern Arizona? What you played sports for them?

I was playing baseball at Glendale Community College. This was one of the pivotal points in my life. I decided to play baseball. I had only played high school baseball for two years. My dad pitched at Gonzaga. All of us had gifted right arms. My son has a gifted right arm. My brother played four years of college football. I played high school baseball. It was a good time. I was in the right mindset. I caught it and I let off. I went to a smaller school. I batted 5-20 when I was a junior and 5-60 when I was a senior. I thought my path was to go to play baseball because it was in my family lineage.

I got to Glendale Community College and I learned that I didn’t love baseball. These guys would take 200 cuts a day and love baseball. For the whole time, I yearned to go, wanted to put a helmet on and hit somebody rather than sit there and think about how I’m in to take a crow hop, take a step or take a swing. I ended up going to NAU and I was going to play football. Once I got there, I had a change of heart and ended up going to school there. That is how I ended up there.

That was the end of your sports career and off into business.

It is funny that we are jumping into this. We do lifelines in YPO when you talk about high points and low points. Quitting sports was one of the lowest points in my life because it was how I defined myself. You are athletic. You play a lot of sports and compete. When I quit, it was funny. I remember this because I want to make sure that I treat my son and kids.

My seventeen-year-old played sports. He quit playing basketball, which was a big deal because he is a good athlete and he chose he didn’t want to play anymore. I respected that because when I quit, I had this thing built up in my head like I was going to let somebody or a bunch of people down because my parents had been watching me play sports my whole life. When I told my parents I wasn’t going to play baseball anymore, they were like, “That is okay.” They were encouraging. There was nothing. It was all in my head. I moved on and went to college.

During those next couple of years, I had a great time. I had a great college experience. This is no knock on NAU. I didn’t learn a lot in college. I went to the college of business and graduated in ‘98. This was NAU which is in Flagstaff, Arizona, for those people. I’m sure it is a lot better now. For me, my experience was I got about several years in the college business and I started asking myself a question like, “This guy or professor has been in Flagstaff teaching the business to students for 25 years. What do they know about business?”

That was true. They are a bunch of hippies smoking weed up in Flagstaff. They were teaching you out of the textbook but I don’t know how applicable it was. I’m sure the college of business now is much more focused on real-world business and it is better. For me, the best classes were entrepreneurship. From there, I was able to figure out I wanted to move to San Diego. I did that for a while. I ended up in the staffing business. That is where I have been ever since.

Before we leave this, I wanted to know what that moment was. Take us to that moment when you realized you were done playing sports. What was the thing that told you, “I can no longer do this or I no longer want to do this?”

It was quitting baseball because I had never quit anything in my life. It wasn’t encouraged in my family but it also wasn’t like discouraged. That was what I expected of other people, never to quit. Two different points hit me. When I quit baseball, I got over this hump where I realized there was life after sports. At the end of high school, I was part of this All-Arizona team. We went to Brisbane, Australia. We played in the down-under ball, which was interesting. We were the first US national team to play another Australian national team in gridiron football, which is different from their football.

We played in Lang Park. It holds 80,000. There were probably 40,000 people there but it was a rush running out in a stadium with 40,000 crazy Australians ready to watch the first American football team, which is even more interesting. They were all ages. We were all eighteen and these were grown men that we were playing against and whom we hung out with for the entire week. They were rugby players and good athletes.

I came off of that high and came in, I played baseball and quit baseball. Since I already had been through the realization that I was going to have to move on. I wasn’t going to play a professional sport. I know this sounds silly, especially being 5’7” and being as short as I am but when I was younger, I thought I was going to go play a professional sport. There is no doubt in my mind. That is what I was going to do.

The guys that I played in the down-under ball with, a lot of them went to NAU and played football. They recruited me to go up there. I got up there and signed up for all my classes. I went and met with the defensive bat coach because I was a safety. He told me after doing all the work to get into my classes. I was going to have to redo my schedule and start over again. I don’t know what it was. I wasn’t feeling it. He was talking about redshirting me.

I’m going into my sophomore year. I’m going to be redshirted with a bunch of people that I was already friends with and I had already played for a year. It was an easier decision to say, “I’m ready to hang it up.” I finally hung it up and moved on from there. That wasn’t as painful as the first time quitting baseball and walking away from where I was playing baseball at.

The reason I’m asking you that is that my why is better way as well. As I’m listening to you talk, I’m hearing myself listening to you because that is similar to my story, what I was going through at that same time and how it played out for me. I’m giving up racquetball because I was going to be a professional racquetball player. That is what it was back when I was in college. It was the fastest-growing sport.

I was in a motorcycle wreck and I realized that I didn’t want to put all my eggs in that basket. I remember having to think, “I thought this is what I was going to do and now I got to go in a different direction. I got to find something better and figure out a better way.” In my mind, that is when I went off to dental school. You have finished college and start right into recruiting. Did you think you were going to go into recruiting? Was that your plan?

I wish I had a more elegant story but I knew I needed to get out of Flagstaff, Arizona, not because Flagstaff is a bad place. Flagstaff was an incredible place. There is one thing that I knew. Flagstaff is beautiful. I snowboarded 50 times a year when I was there. We got a lot of snow. I saw people that got stuck in Flagstaff because it is such a lovely little city. You can get stuck there and the next thing you know, you are 30 years old and starting over. I didn’t want to do that.

I intentionally set a date. I packed a car and drove to San Diego, where my brother lived. My brother graduated from the US Merchant Marine Academy in Long Island. It is called Kings Point. You have to do all the same stuff to get into Kings Point, the US Merchant Marine Academy that you would, the Naval Academy or the Air Force Academy. He had senatorial approval to go to the Air Force Academy. He had a good job in San Diego.

I drove out there. I slept on his couch and started looking for a job in San Diego. I learned how to surf. I wasn’t in a rush. I was enjoying the moments. He had a big surfboard. He worked all the time. I decided somebody needed to ride that surfboard. I interviewed for jobs. I have talked about this much. I’m an open book. I interviewed for an enterprise rental car and didn’t get the job. My buddy worked there. I never understood why I didn’t get the job.

I felt like I was looking for other stuff. I interviewed for a few places and I didn’t get that job. One of my buddies called me from Arizona and said, “We are hiring. I work for Aerotech, which is a large staffing and search firm. Why don’t you come out here and interview?” I came and interviewed. I got the job and settled down in Arizona. That is how I ended up in the recruiting business. I didn’t necessarily choose it. Maybe it chose me through my friend. I don’t know but that is how I ended up there.

You were there for how long?

I was there probably only a few months. It wasn’t an extended time. It probably felt like that for my brother and his wife because it was a one-bedroom and I was sleeping on the couch.

You were with Aerotech for how long?

I was only with Aerotech for a little over two years. We are getting back to the better way. I love Aerotech. It is one of the best things that has ever happened in my life. I got exposed to a bunch of sophisticated processes, systems and things they did that made a lot of sense. Steve Bisciotti is one of the Founders of Aerotech. He owns a Baltimore Ravens. It is one of the more successful business stories that I know of. Everybody went and got training in Baltimore, where they are based. I work with some cool people. I keep in touch with many of the people I have been working with.

I worked in telecom. Our division was telecom. I did a lot of different types of work but for the most part, I was telecom and what they were building in telecom. When I tell people this, especially younger folks at work on my team, we were building the internet. The phone carrier was in a race against the cable companies to put in the internet infrastructure and build out the pops where you house all the computer systems and stuff to run the internet. Everybody knows that both the telephone company and the cable company won. They both run the internet. That is what I did there. These people were awesome that I work with.

BYW 38 | Purpose-Based Recruiting
Purpose-Based Recruiting: Both the telephone and the cable company won. They both obviously run the internet now.


In the winter, I remember going in when it was dark. I left when it was dark but I didn’t care. It was like a time of my life when I could grind. We had to wear a tie every day. There was this passion I had. There were things that I have a love-hate relationship with and there was one thing when I was like, “When I get to do it my way, a better way, we are not wearing ties.” I don’t like formal dresses. The only people that I see that are wearing ties are bankers and lawyers. If you are in one of those rooms, it is either a good situation or not a good situation. There were a lot of good and great people.

Aerotech was a very structured place where everybody was willing to put in the work. I could see the natural line to be promoted. Nobody was going to give up their position. As long as you were there from when it was dark in the morning and when it was dark at night, you maintained your position and line to be promoted. Some people performed better and they moved up in line. It was a situation where I knew I didn’t have the timer patience and I wasn’t going to be able to find a better way there quickly.

I left and went to a small company. It was like jumping off an aircraft carrier and being in a dinghy. It was a small, probably about an eight-person firm in Tempe. We did it was called Hunter Technical. We did a lot of technical staffing and trade recruiting. I learned a lot. Thinking about my why of better way, I was there. What I had learned at Aerotech, all the things were applicable. This place was behind the times compared to Aerotech. Aerotech had 10,000 employees. I’m at a company that has eight that barely got computers. I knew I could apply what I had learned and we could do it better there.

The challenge I had there was I didn’t like the culture. There were some issues. I wanted to be in a leadership role. The owners were cool. I had direct access to the owners. I was telling them, “I can make some stuff happen here. Let me run the office.” They gave me like, “You can run it.” It wasn’t an official process. They were like, “Go ahead and take over.”

9/11 hit and some things happened that I started to think about. I knew I didn’t know a lot. I was maybe about 26 years old. I was there for two years. I was able to develop some business, used the skills that I had learned and sharpen my saw a little bit but I couldn’t change what the owners thought, how the owners interacted and how they communicated. I decided, as little as I knew, if I wanted to do it my way, I was going to have to do it on my own and not knowing a lot.

I started a conversation. I walked over to one of our competitors that had two buildings over. He was also in the recruiting business. I started the conversation with him. I said, “Do you ever think about starting your company?” He said, “Yes, sometimes.” I’m like, “Let’s meet every month.” We met regularly and decided to start our company. It was based on maybe one of the points that that better way drives home. If I wanted to do it differently and better than where I had it, I was going to have to do it from scratch. That is what we ended up doing.

BYW 38 | Purpose-Based Recruiting
Purpose-Based Recruiting: If I wanted to do it differently and better than where I had it, then I was just going to have to do it from scratch.


What was that one? Was that Job Brokers?

Yes, which was ironic. In all the work that we have been doing, I include you in this because you are in this ethos of purpose and figuring out what drives people, the thing that I have learned after thirteen years that I was in that business before selling it, was that nobody wants a job and a broker involved. The name worked well. People liked it. I would hear people often use the name. They were like, “Are they a job broker too?” They coin it not quite like Kleenex. It is not like that.

We didn’t do that great of a job but the name stood out. We did well with that brand. We grew fast. It was an incredible ride. I still look back at that and it was a fun time. I finally got this guy to start the business. We didn’t know this back then but I was more of an outward-facing guy and he was more of an operations guy. He was better at recruiting. I was better set up to do sales.

When we partnered up, I quit my job first and he came over a week later. I remember the feeling. I was sitting in a cube. The way we started was we had two guys that were running another business. It was my business partner. It is one of his clients. He was in there the week before. His client, who ended up being our business partner, asked me, “How many people work at your office?” He was like, “Four.” He was like, “Why don’t you do it on your own? If you want to start a business, come talk to me and we will figure it out.”

He puts us together. We drink two beers. The guy asked me, “How much money do you think you need to start this business?” I honestly didn’t know. I was taking a stab in the dark. I’m like, “$150,000.” That is how much we would need over a period of time before we started making money. We started a business. I was the first one there. We were in his office. They already had an office. It was a credit card processing company. I started there. I had a computer and a phone book. We hadn’t even named the company yet. I started the process of naming it and putting together a logo with some other people that I know that do branding and that type of work. We were off and running. It was an incredible journey.

It was right after 9/11. When I think about this in context, this has helped me. Everybody is talking about a recession coming. I started a business right after the recession. It was tough. You had a scratch trying to get business. You had to do a lot. Everybody was counting you out because it wasn’t a good time to start a business.

It turned out that was the greatest time to start a business because we learned how to be disciplined, scratch and claw and earn everything. We got and took advantage of it the best we could. The years became a lot better from that. We did $500,000 in our first year. We were struggling a bit. It was a little bit of a slog but then we did $1 million, then we did $2.5 million, then we did $5 million, then we did $10 million, then we did $20 million. It kept ratcheting up until we were doing about $50 million. It was an incredible ride at Job Brokers and I learned a lot.

That was a thirteen-year run.

2015 is when I officially sold it. When I was reading through my why and before this call, I wanted to make sure that comes out as we talk about how I ended up in Y Scouts. I was figuring out that I wanted to do it a better way. When I started Job Brokers, what I wanted to do is work for myself. That was my dream. Nobody in my family was an entrepreneur. My grandpa did some stuff but he was a police officer. Later in life, he owned some restaurants and properties.

I don’t know what it was with me. I felt like I wanted the freedom of working for myself. The next thing I knew, over some long years of hard work, I was with a business partner and we were both making seven figures. I started to ask myself the question, “What am I doing this? What am I going to be known for? What are we doing?”

At the time, I had one son. He was about five. I was starting to think about this. I was like, “Is this the business model that I want to continue to feed my family?” The answer that I got was no. There were three things in the old business. This is no knock-on staffing companies or contingent because they have their place in this world. I did that and after a while of doing it, it felt like we were preying on the ineptness of the company’s ability to hire.

I will give some examples and this is no knock-on these companies like the University of Phoenix. They needed to fill a contact center full of people. They weren’t as good at recruiting as we were. We went in and hired thousands of people over several years, same with Goodrich Aerospace. That was okay at the beginning of my career. As I got older, I started to think about it.

Think about the contingent model. If you have a company that has enough turnover where you are continuing to fill the same role because it is 90 days contract to hire, if the person makes past 90 days, they can take them on full-time. If they don’t, you get a fill-out seat again. You got to make money on it all over again. I started to think about it and the problems upstream, beyond the people I was working with and what it would mean for that company and me if we could figure out the challenges and the problems as to why they are having all this turnover in the first place that given us all the business.

I always tie it back to better way. There was a straw that broke the camel’s back. I was at home working. It was 2009. My son was five years old. At this point, I’m a single entrepreneur. I’m having the time of my life. I’m coaching all these teams. I feel like a great dad. I’m spending my son half the time. Everything is great. My son was with my nephew. Put it in context. My nephew’s dad or my brother-in-law is a police officer. They walked up to me and said, “What do you do?”

Back to why, I was like, “I find people jobs. I help companies hire people when they need them so they can continue to do whatever business, product or service they are in.” They were 5 and 6 giggling. They were like, “No, what do you actually do?’ I’m like, “What do you mean? I talk to people on the phone and meet with them in person.” They look at me and go, “That is all you do?” I had been going back and forth with like, “Why am I doing this like this? It is not something that I want to be known for. It is not going to leave a legacy.” That was the last straw. I was already ready. I went and talked to my partner. I said, “We need to start unwinding this business a bit.”

What we are able to do is during that time, I did start Y Scouts, which is important to understand while we were running this other business and kicking off a bunch of cash. When you are able to start a business, you don’t have to drive money to the bottom line. That was the case. We got to think, “Would this work? What would people think if we did purpose discovery on them and started to ask them about why they want to work? If they could get paid the same they are doing and do anything, what would they do?” That is what would help me in us test these different things that we do and play them out.

Back in the day when we started Y Scouts, there were other companies like the Job Brokers, True Path, a company that came out of that and another company called Sky Staffing that we also ran. We also had this JBI Energy Company. There are a few brands wrapped up in there. They were rolling along. They were almost making fun of Y Scouts. We were in the same building. We had a group of people that were founding this company. They were like, “You guys don’t even make any money. You don’t even produce any revenue or income.” We had to overcome this black cloud of people ridiculing us for starting something different. It ended up getting some legs over some time.

Why did you go with just the letter Y?

I brought on a guy. He is a close friend of mine. He came into the business. We hired him as a VP of Growth for Job Brokers. He and I agreed. We were like, “Let’s figure out a way to do this differently.” He was from the job board business. He worked at jobbing. He is a great guy. He is still around. He is running another business. We decided we were going to do this differently. What we decided was we wanted to figure out a way to align people and understand their purpose and reason for work for deeper meaning and align people based on that.

BYW 38 | Purpose-Based Recruiting
Purpose-Based Recruiting: We wanted to figure out a way to align people and understand their purpose and reason for work.


Since he was in the job board world and I was in the staffing world, we started to understand the technology of job boards somewhat broke the hiring process and still is in our opinion. What we see a lot of is a lot of people posting jobs and people applying. They were rewriting their resumes according to the job posting. They are sending it in and putting all the keywords on their resume. They gamified it. They go to the top. They would get hired and end up not working out.

We saw this play out over and over, even in the work that we were doing. We decided it was going to matter. We wanted to make sure that we aligned the right types of people that wanted more meaning in their work. We started thinking about it. It was this concept of purpose. We want to figure it out. We knew we were doing purpose-based recruiting.

We were in the conference room. I remember googling purpose-based recruiting. The first thing that came up was the Boy Scouts Institute. Nobody had even used that term in HR consulting, recruiting and staffing. That was the first moment that we were onto something. We started to think about our first tagline. It was, “What is your why?” We came up with the name Y Scouts. The letter Y stands for the word why like your company, the WHY institute. It also stands for a fork in the road.

When you are going up a Y and you have that fork, you got to make a decision. For us, we were standing for something different. We wanted to align people that wanted more meaningful work. There are going to be some people that were going to still exchange time for pay. That is okay. That is their path. Our path was the people that decided they were going to quit doing that and do something more meaningful and something that aligned with them. We were going to stand for that. That was the fork in the road.

There is a theory. I don’t know if I shared this with you but you probably know this. There is X Theory and Y Theory. X Theory is shorthand. It stems back to some studies that the US government did. McGregor is the guy’s name that did it. X Theory is based on the premise that people will only do stuff for money. Y Theory is the premise that people can be led and motivated to do things for more than money. That was another indicator.

For the word scouts, we took ten companies we thought were our competitors back then. It is changed over the years. We did word clout. The word scouts weren’t in there once. It also tied back to my sports background. I started to think about a scout who sees talent before anybody else does. That was something that we pride ourselves in as a leadership search firm. We are hiring great leaders and being a beacon for great leadership.

A scout sees talent before anybody else does. Click To Tweet

I didn’t know that is why you picked Y. I don’t think that is ever come up in our conversations. Was it the job boards that were the reason you wanted to go towards purpose because people were getting hired to get hired and they were wasting everybody’s time and turning out bad?

The job boards were set up where you could go apply to 100 jobs in 5 minutes. It became less meaningful for people to apply. Everybody was applying to everything. I was one of the drivers for us to try to fix that. The interesting part is we don’t ever post jobs still. The reason why we don’t post jobs and what we tested back then was when we reach out to leaders and we do all work in the C-Suite, we take everybody through purpose discovery before we tell them what the role is, the company and the details of the actual role. If you are a CFO, you probably know that. You are getting called about a CFO role.

The way we address it is we have been retaining it. We are excluded by a company that cares about purpose, values and your ability to do the job. We want to take you through a discovery process before we get into the details of the role. Are you cool with that? People love that. We tested that. When we started testing it early on, we thought people were going to be up and tell us to go pound sand. We realize the response rate that we have through our outreach is much higher. We got a lot of brand equity that we have built up. When people looked it up, they were like, “This is interesting.”

We started doing discovery work. We were addressing problems that we still do. We feel like we address it through our process. The other problem that we were addressing that I went through and Brian being at the job board, is how job descriptions are written. Anybody that is reading that has to write a job description knows how job descriptions are written. They google it and figure it out. You could probably use AI. It might be a lot better. Over time, people would google and find a job description, copy-paste it and pass it around. You know what this person is going to do. Everybody would add a bunch of stuff to the job. It would make it so complex that it would be almost impossible to interview somebody.

1 of our 3 unique is our role visioning and success outcome design process. We help clients define what success looks like in the role through the stakeholders that are the most important in the company. That was another thing that we were addressing. We do the discovery process that I talked about on the candidate side to make sure they are aligned with those success outcomes and key responsibilities.

We have a leadership model for hiring. We believe in the best leaders on earth, according to our leadership model, which we claim and tell everybody, “It is open source. You are welcome to use this.” We look for proof points in how much somebody has been a relentless learner, how much they have developed other people and how they have driven results. When you break it down and take the time, some things don’t make sense, especially for somebody like me that has a quick-start mentality.

The best leaders on earth are those that are relentless learners, have developed other people, and have driven results. Click To Tweet

When you are hiring for a senior-level role, I always encourage people to interview high-potential candidates, even if they don’t have an open role. When you know you are going to have an open role, you got to break yourself down. To go fast, you have to go slow and be intentional about figuring out what you need. We built a system to address all the challenges we were seeing. We are still helping by being non-traditional. Recruiting has been around forever. There are some traditional search firms out there and we stand for the opposite of that.

Other companies are looking at you as the innovator. They want to have you come in and help them revamp even what they are doing.

When we go take a company through our process, helping them define the role, we give them everything that we do. One interesting thing and a little bit counterintuitive for most people that think about recruiters are they think most recruiters are trying to take all their work and spit these people out of a black box. We are a little bit different. I did do that for many years. They give me all their recruiting needs. We have, in some cases, hired thousands of people for companies.

A big win for us would be helping somebody, even with one role, taking them through a process and taking a couple of things from our process and implementing it in their process. Every hire moving forward is better for them. If they never needed us again after one hire, that would be a huge win and they would never quit referring us to other people.

Max, what was the toughest job you have ever had to fill?

This is one of the toughest jobs that ended up being a good opportunity for us and I would never do it again. Back in the early 2000s, there was a Motorola facility in Arizona. They needed to decommission it. They needed to knock it down and rebuild it. In semiconductor manufacturing, some pipes had hazardous chemicals running miles of pipes at this whole place.

I don’t know how they talked me into this but they hired us. It was a risky thing. They wanted the risk to be on somebody else’s payroll. They were like, “We need you to hire these people.” They need to be HazMat-certified and respirator certified. They had to wear these respirators and cut out these pieces of pipe and foot pieces and it took 40 to 50 people almost a year to do. We would take the checks to pay these people.

It was tough because when we started, we had to find somebody willing to wear a respirator all day, not to mention the heat in Arizona. I went there and paid them a couple of times. There were guys on the roof inside tanks, like sawn tanks off. I’m like, “This does not look safe.” That was one of the tougher roles to fill.

Another one was, back in the day, there was a company called Orbital Sciences. They would launch satellites into space. They brought me in a clearance. It is okay to talk about it but they told me we needed to hire a person that was going to help build a system to shoot down a missile out of the sky that the government was going to build. It was like a stealth mission. That was an interesting one to fill.

What is going to be the future of recruiting and staffing with all the AI that is coming out? Is AI playing a bigger part in it?

That is one of the things that fascinates me the most. AI will aid certain things. They will aid people in writing job descriptions that are more on point because they can use more keywords that have to do specifically with what they need versus copying pasted from somebody else. This machine can base it on more keywords. I don’t think, in the near future, it will ever take over, especially in the leadership search.

One thing that fascinates me most is with all the technological changes and advances, the need for great leadership is still at an all-time high. The only way you uncover great leadership is through face-to-face conversations. There might be some tools to help aid somebody but at the end of the day, we have to find and trust great leaders. That is always going to be. That is why we are in a leadership search. On the lower levels and technical jobs, it may help from a sourcing standpoint and in some different ways to automate some processes, especially the way people apply and how they prescreen them. There are some tools and bots that are already making that a much more efficient game.

BYW 38 | Purpose-Based Recruiting
Purpose-Based Recruiting: In this day and age with all the technological changes and advances, the need for great leadership is still at an all-time high. The only way you uncover great leadership is through face-to-face conversations.


You only work in hiring or placing leaders. Your thing is just leaders.

That is the cutoff. Every once in a while, one of our clients will ask us. Most of the time, the answer is no. The first question is, is this a leadership role? We are a leadership search firm. We stand for great leadership. When we started, the executive search name bothered us and me. I have learned to get over it. The reason why executive search doesn’t make sense is not every executive is a leader. We tried to use leadership search, not executive search. Everybody was like, “What is the difference?”

Not every executive is a leader. Click To Tweet

We took a lot of pride in it because we are a leadership search firm and we stand for great leadership. The process we built is meant to figure out whether or not somebody is a great leader. The reason why we did it in the first place, back to a better way, is because of impact. We wanted to create a business where we would positively impact as many people as we could.

Brian Moore is one of the Cofounders of Y Scouts and his purpose in why is to positively impact everybody he meets. I don’t know what it would be on your system. We chose leadership because we started to think through these companies. We targeted purpose and values-driven companies that cared about the purpose and the why. We wanted to work with leaders and align leaders that could have an impact on companies, have it cascade down and impact as many people as possible.

What I started to see and care about was not only the people that work in the company. When you have a great leader, the people you lead go home. They treat their family and kids differently. A great leader can impact people directly in the company. It is everybody outside the company, everybody around them, everybody they mentor and everybody they come in contact with.

A great leader can impact people directly in the company as well as everybody outside the company. Click To Tweet

One of the things that were important to us was to have the biggest positive impact and focus on leadership search. One area we are continuing to figure out is how we take the leadership model that we feel covered a lot of ground of being a relentless learner, developing others and driving results. When you look at those three things in somebody’s past, if you look at every single role, the people that are able to do that are the best leaders out there. It is a simple model but those are our internal core values. That is how much we believe in that leadership model.

Relentless learner, building others and driving results. Have you found leadership to be something people can learn or is it something they have?

A hundred percent, they can learn it. If you only had to pick one, you would pick a relentless learner. I don’t have all the answers to this but it resonates with a lot of people. I’m sure it will with a lot of your readers and you. Everybody knows people in their lives or people they work with that are relentless learners. They want to learn. They will read and develop. They like to work with other people and develop other people. They got those in space but for some reason, they don’t drive results.

I don’t know why that is. I love to figure that piece out because if you have somebody that is a relentless learner and cares about other people, to your point, they should be able to learn how to drive results but not everybody does. I’m not sure why that is but in that model, that is where people break down. It is when you put them up against that model.

How do you teach somebody to be someone who drives results? Do you know?

People that drive results start in their personal lives and habits. It spills over into their professional life. You stack a bunch of good habits together. You start measuring progress and make it happen. Some people are able to get it done and some people aren’t. I don’t know why. It is their desire and wants. It is their ability to set goals and measure progress.

When I was thinking about better way, your system talked about the problem with better way. I run to this all the time. It is never good enough. Nothing is ever good enough for me. I have had people tell me that. You always don’t even stop to say, “This is great.” You keep moving. That can be a bad thing because you never compliment people to the extent that they need it. There can be some pitfalls in that.

I always use the term, “You got to figure out how to do the right things and do things right.” It is that combo. I try to strike a balance in that. It all breaks down to the advice I have. I often give myself, “You got to move to action. Nothing happens unless you start moving forward and start doing action. If you have done all the research you need to do and you are ready to take action, you probably waited way too long.

You have to figure out how to do the right things and then do things right. Click To Tweet

The next and last question I was going to ask you is what is the best piece of advice you have ever given or received?

It has to be around in that spirit of you got to take action. Once you take action and have a little momentum, you can figure stuff out and iterate. Overthinking and not taking action is what kills people and freezes them physically, mentally and professionally. Taking action and not overthinking stuff is probably the best advice I have ever gotten.

That is hard for a better way person to do because we are always looking for what is best. If I pick this one and move on to this, what about that over there? That might be better. I’m curious how you have been able to overcome the paralysis by analysis.

One of the ways is playing sports, working out and staying active. When I was stuck professionally, the first year I talked about it, I breezed over it. It is hard. I had business partners that were like, “Is this working or not? We are going to cut you off soon. This is almost done.” When I was young, I thought I should be in the office cold calling and trying to build a business. Instead, I went to the gym. That was a physical action that I was taking. That is one of the things that helped me overcome not getting stuck.

All the success that I have been fortunate enough to have through the teams that we have built still mimics how physically fit I am. It sounds pretty cheesy but at times in my life, when I feel good, I’m staying very disciplined, eating well and doing all the things that I like to do because I like to find a better way to stay in shape, it seems to mimic how things are going professionally for me.

The physical mimics the mental.

It has almost been my entire career. I can’t think of times in my life when I was in the best shape of my life. I never was in the best shape of my life, which is getting harder because I push it hard. When I’m in the best shape of my life, things on the professional side are going crazy and great. I can’t think of a time when I was in the best shape of my life when things were miserable. Maybe it is a coincidence. I’m sharing with you that that has been my personal experience.

Have you had a time in your life when you weren’t in great shape?

Yes, when I quit playing sports when I was in college. For a couple of years, I worked out a little bit. I played intramural sports but I drank and smoked cigarettes. I did all the things that you do. Even when I got a little older, there were a few years when I was working, I was more focused on work and got away from it a little bit but not for long. I came back to it. How I kept moving forward was by staying physically in action.

What is next for you and Y Scouts?

We are starting to make hay. We have been at this for many years, which granted for the first several years, I was still running the other companies but we had great teams working on this problem. For us, it is continuing to pursue our purpose of transforming how people and companies connect to work that matters. We are continuing to change the game and feeling, performing and executing search differently to align leaders on purpose, values and professional competencies and continuing to do that.

One of the ways we talk about our BHAG or our tenure is to have done purposeful hiring in over 10,000 companies. We are not even probably 10% there. I haven’t done the math. We want to continue to push this. We feel like we stand for something different. We are competing more and more with the big 4 or 5. However, you want to look at it, the Heidrick & Struggles, Spencer Stewarts and Russell Reynolds.

We want to start continuing to build our business and take over the US. We started to do some international stuff. We will continue to build this. We built out our research function. We got a lot of tools and access to stuff that helps us source more effectively, find people to solve problems and figure out what we can’t do unless we have these tools, the team and the process that we have.

Max, thanks so much for being here. If there are people that are reading that want to get ahold of you, follow your company and hire you guys, what is the best way for them to connect with you?

It is I’m pretty active on LinkedIn. I post quite a bit. If you follow me on LinkedIn, it will be a good way to interact with me.

Thanks so much for being here, Max.

You got it. Thanks.

It is time for our newer segment called Guess Their Why. This is with famous people that all of you know. I want you to think about Elvis Presley. What do you think Elvis Presley’s why was? You know how he danced. You know the songs he came up with and his history. If you saw the movie that came out, you got to learn more about how he grew up and the way he learned to sing, his inspiration and how he passed away. I would love to know what you think his why is.

For me, I’m going to guess that his why was better way. Only because he was always finding better ways to do things, better ways to dance, sing and move. It could also be a challenge. Think differently and challenge the status quo. Think outside the box. The more I watched the movie, the more better way came to me.

I love to know what you think. In whatever platform you are using and there is a way for you to write it in there, let me know. Thank you so much for reading. If you have not yet discovered your why or WHY.os, you can do so at You can use the code PODCAST50 and take it at half price. If you love the show, please don’t forget to subscribe below and leave us a review and rating on whatever platform you are using. I will see you in the next episode. Thank you for reading.


Important Links


About Max Hansen

BYW 38 | Purpose-Based RecruitingMax has dedicated the last two decades of his life to providing the best hiring practices in leadership search and consulting. He graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree from Northern Arizona in Business Administration and was fortunate to start working immediately with with the Fortune 50 Recruiting firm Allegis Group / Aerotek.

This experience provided him with a solid foundation for understanding both best in class business systems and selection processes. In January of 2002, he founded his first recruiting/search firm, Job Brokers, Inc that went on to hire more than 30,000 people across a wide swath of industries including engineering, manufacturing, education, healthcare, distribution, mining, finance, technology, and apparel.

Somewhere along the line in 2010-2011, the traditional contingent hiring model wasn’t allowing organizations to solve the deeper rooted issues they were facing around their hiring practices. Max’s desire to help organizations with the root of their challenges pushed him to create the first ever purpose-based leadership search firm.

In 2015, he sold all of his interests in three traditional recruiting companies to more aggressively pursue building Y Scouts and Purposed-based Leadership Search. He enjoys helping them and their organizations continuously improve and succeed as high performing cultures and teams. The root of his work goes deeper – towards individual purpose, building true relationships, relentless learning, love, and their ultimate intersection.



How To Work Efficiently Outside The Box With Greg Cagle

BYW S4 37 | Outside The Box


Greg Cagle has always been a rebellious spirit since he was young. But instead of getting into trouble, he loves challenging the status quo and working outside the box. In this conversation, he joins Dr. Gary Sanchez to share how he breaks down processes into their simplest forms to find even better ways to do them. He discusses the immense power of thinking differently and constantly getting out of your comfort zone in pursuit of greater outcomes. Greg also explains how he coaches businesses to escape their limiting boxes. He discusses the three functions every organization must possess and why discomfort is crucial in a healthy workplace.

Watch the episode here

Listen to the podcast here


How To Work Efficiently Outside The Box With
Greg Cagle

In this episode, we’re going to be talking about the WHY of Challenge. That is 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 and think differently. You aren’t afraid to challenge virtually anyone or anything that is too conventional or too typical for your tastes. Pushing the envelope comes naturally to you.

I’ve got a great guest for you. His name is Greg Cagle. Greg is passionate about advocating for authenticity. He’s a transformational executive coach, a corporate cultural consultant, an author, and a speaker. Leveraging more than 25 years of in-the-trenches experience in building and leading his own companies, Greg comes alongside leaders and guides companies to position them for breakthrough success in building a culture that blows away the competition.

With his proven “Let’s do this” approach, Greg has served top organizations like McCormick, Planet Fitness, Steel Dynamics, Army Special Operations, and the FDA. He’s worked with a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, five-star hospitality, technology software, nonprofit education, higher education, financial insurance, and engineering.

Greg is also partnered with the John C. Maxwell Company for many years as an executive coach, speaker, trainer, and business consultant. In every consulting and coaching relationship, speaking, engagement, and training environment, Greg’s focus is on getting innovative, creative results that empower leaders and teams from around the world to outperform the competition and achieve more than they ever believe possible in business and in life.

Greg, welcome to the podcast.

Thank you. It is great to be here.

That was a mouthful. That’s a lot of stuff you’ve done.

It sounds a lot more important than it is. We’ll leave it at that.

Tell everybody, where do you live? Where are you right now?

I live in Knoxville, Tennessee. I moved here back in 2016. That’s home base.

Let’s go back in your life a little bit and see how you got to where you are. Where did you grow up, and what were you like in high school?

I grew up in a very small town in the deep South, in Mississippi to be more accurate. It was a small town. I went to high school at a small school. It’s interesting because when I was reading my WHY, one of the words that it uses is rebel. It described me perfectly from an early age. I’ve always been rebellious. My grandfather told me one time, “You’re either going to lead a biker gang, or you’re going to lead a great organization one day. I don’t know which.”

What do you mean by rebellious? Give us an example. What would your friends have said about you, and how could we tell you we’re rebellious?

I never saw the need to follow along. It was so entrenched in me ever since I can remember. I break the mold. I get outside the lines. Everything called for me to do something different and to break outside of the norms. It’s always there.

You never felt like you fit in, right?


You graduate high school, and you went off to school after that. Did you go off to college?

I did. I went to college for two years. Being rebellious, after two years, I said, “I’m ready to get away.” The only reason I lasted two years is that I was an athlete. I played basketball. I was on a basketball scholarship. I played ball for a couple of years, and that kept me there because I’m a competitor. I love to compete. I couldn’t take it anymore. I was ready to get out there. Even college was too restricted for me.

You’re like Steve Jobs. He has the same WHY as you and he didn’t last even that long.

You might remember in a lot of Steve Jobs interviews that he used to say, “I’m a lot like Greg Cagle.” I don’t know if you ever heard it.

I did hear him say that. I didn’t know who that was, but it makes a lot more sense. You leave you after two years, then what happens to you?

I went to work for a company. I was very successful. I was in sales. It turned out I was pretty good at it, but I had this itch to pave my own way and do my own thing. At 28, I left, jumped out, and started my own thing. If I look back on it, it’s one of the stupidest decisions I ever made but one of the best decisions I ever made. I was too stupid to realize I shouldn’t do it, but I did it. I’ve always been this guy that said, “I don’t know exactly what I’m doing here, but I know I’m going to figure it out.” With $7,500 and a $2,000 cash advance on a credit card, I started my first business. That launched me out there doing my thing.

What was that business?

It started off as a marketing company but eventually evolved into pretty much a full-service ad agency. I don’t know if this is true or not, but back in those days, ad agencies had a full staff of media buyers, artists, and so on and so forth. I might have been the first ad agency that built up a network of those services. I was the front person with the client, but then subcontracted all of those services out, coordinated that, and led those ad campaigns. It turned out well. We did a lot of good work for a number of years.

Looking back to those times when you were 26 or 28 years old, how would you do as an employee? How would that work out for you to show up at 9:00 AM, leave at 5:00 PM, and do what you’re told to do?

It’s one of the reasons I left my first job. I was a top producer. Sales came easy to me, but I came in when I wanted to, left when I wanted to and did what I wanted to. I remember the boss calling me in. He said, “We got to do something about you. You’re supposed to be here at a certain time.” Back then, it was 8:00 AM. He was like, “You’re supposed to be here at 8:00 AM and you come rolling in whenever you want to. We have certain rules.”

With all sincerity, I looked at him and said, “Why are you telling me this? I outsell everyone else here. Why can’t you leave me alone?” It was right then and there that he discovered that I wasn’t right for the company and I discovered I wasn’t right for any company. It didn’t fit. I’m still that way. I’ve tried to temper it sometimes and knock the rough edges off of it, but it’s still that way.

For those that are regular readers and know about the WHY of Challenge, you are the perfect example of what we talk about. You’re unemployable because you’re not going to do what everyone else is doing, but you’re amazing as a visionary, leader, and someone who’s going to break new ground and do things differently. What would the world be like if there weren’t people like you that push the limit? We wouldn’t progress.

There are a lot of people that have experienced me that would like to find out what the world would look like.

You’ve got an ad agency and a marketing company. How long did you do that, or do you still have that?

I did that for a few years. This is so much my personality. I got to a point where I was bored with it. I sold that business and moved on to other things. Over the course of my career with the marketing and ad agency, I had a technology development company that I started with a partner whom I wound up marrying his daughter. That’s a whole other story. I’m still married to her. I also started a bar and restaurant business at one time where we had multiple locations there, which I also did with a partner.

I have this history of building something, getting it to a point, and then becoming bored, restless, and wanting to move on. That’s what I’ve always done until my last business. The last business that I did was in the real estate industry. I was in not only real estate development but I had a brokerage firm. We grew that one pretty big. I had a lot of employees associated with that.

That was a defining moment for me. I created a defining moment for me because that was the business that was different enough every day. There weren’t any rules for real estate development. You could make your own. It was going before zoning boards and convincing them that you had a better way or that you wanted to do a different type of development.

BYW S4 37 | Outside The Box
Outside The Box: There weren’t any rules for real estate development. You could make your own.


Had it not been for an event, that might have been where I would’ve stayed. There was this event called the financial collapse. You probably remember it. It was late 2007 and early 2008. Real estate was the tip of the spear of that. At the time that happened, I was holding hundreds of millions of dollars worth of real estate at some level of development or some stage of development. It was like someone turned off the faucet and everything collapsed. That set in motion about two years of real pain for me, trying to work through all of that.

I had six different banks. All of them decided they were going to squeeze me for everything that I had. It was a painful time working through that and trying to get on the other side of it. At that time, it was like, “What do I do now?” The economy was still not that great. There wasn’t a whole lot that I could do in real estate. I did try to get a job.

To your point, it’s amazing you said what you said about me not being hirable. I don’t know how many times I got to an interview process for a position in a company and I think to myself, “I’m so qualified I could do this in my sleep. This is going to be a no-brainer, but I need a paycheck.” Almost every time, this is what I heard.

They said, “I don’t think you’re going to fit in here. You’ve been on your own too long. You’re not going to want to do anything that we want you to do. I don’t see you as hirable.” Those were the exact words they used. I had to reinvent myself because I knew I wasn’t going to get a job. Probably one of the best things that ever happened to me was being un-hirable.

What did you finally end up doing?

I went back to what I knew. I had this knowledge of business. I had the ability to look at something, break it down to its simplest form, and say, “Here’s a solution.” That’s what I did in business. It’s like, “Here’s the best way to do this. Here’s a better way to do this.” What I decided to do was I said, “I know business. I also built and sold several businesses. I’ve had tremendous success. I’ve also been knocked down into the valley. I’ve seen it all. Maybe I can make myself available to other entrepreneurs and other business owners and help them along the way and get paid for it.” That’s what I started doing.

I reached out to a few people and networked. I was doing that and ran across the John Maxwell Company. They do a lot of leadership training and executive coaching for their clients. They asked if I wanted to do some work with some of their clients. We did that for quite some time. In fact, I still do a lot of work with that company.

Along the way, I started building out my own thoughts about how to help leaders do business differently. It’s that rebellious nature of mine of, “We can do this better.” I started challenging leaders and saying, “There’s a better way.” I would challenge leaders even in the coaching aspect and say, “You’re looking at this all wrong. Have you ever looked at this?” I published a book a few months ago. It came out. That whole book was a two-year project for me. That’s what it was about. It was me challenging my WHY and challenging leaders to look at a different way of doing business. That’s where we are.

You are the perfect person to do that. Greg’s WHY is to challenge the status quo and think differently. How he does that is by making sense of complex and challenging things. Ultimately, what he brings is a way to contribute, add value, and have an impact on the lives of others. That is the perfect WHY.os for what you’re doing. You get people to think differently. Do you find that most people put themselves in their own boxes?

Absolutely. In fact, I challenged organizations to think about this, particularly the top leaders. I said, “I want you to think about your organization, what you reward, and how you communicate with your organization or the people within your organization. Are you, without realizing it, building a box that says, “If you’re going to be successful here, this is what you need to look like?” I then challenged them to look at themselves and say, “Have you built your own box?”

One of the statements that I make in that book I’m referring to is that most business leaders evaluate new ideas through the lens of their experience and their knowledge. Think about this for a second. If every idea that I look at is through the lens of my experience, my knowledge, and what I know to be successful, what chance does that idea have of ever making it in my mind? It’s very little.

In fact, there’s a great story about Western Union back in the day. They were one of the top communication companies in the United States. A guy named Alexander Graham Bell came along. You might have heard of him, He invented this communication tool called the telephone. He didn’t have the ability to do much with it financially, so he goes to the best communication company on the planet and offers to sell them his patents.

It’s interesting because the CEO at that time was quoted as saying, “What would this company ever do with an electronic toy?” I don’t need to tell you. Would you rather own stock in AT&T or would you rather own stock in Western Union? The bottom line here is that this is the way a lot of business leaders think. They take a look at what they know as the current reality of success in their industry or whatever it is they’re leading and everything needs to begin to make sense to that. That’s why Steve Jobs was such an innovative, brilliant leader because he never looked at things that way.

I believe leaders put themselves in a box. They put the people within the organization in a box. They create these decision-making filters called experience and knowledge, which we could relabel as the status quo. That’s how their people begin to make decisions, and then they wonder why someone out-innovates them or why they become irrelevant over time.

I don’t know if you can do this, but take us into your mind as to what happens to you. What do you see? You go into a company and see the status quo. What happens internally in your brain? How do you see all these things outside the box? It’s probably almost instantly where you could say, “They’re stuck here.” What happens to you when you walk into a business like that?

When I first started what I’m doing, which is coming in as an outside perspective or a third party to an organization to try to help figure out what was going on, the first thing I always do is I want to get to the root of the problem. I want to know, “What is the problem?” Here’s what’s interesting a lot of the time, maybe even 50% or more. What I am told is the problem almost never is the problem.

They’re telling me what the problem is from their perspective and the way that they’ve already designed themselves to think. The way they think is the way that they encourage their employees to think. I go in with the idea almost always that what they think the problem is and it’s not going to be that. That’s the first thing that I do. Once I discovered that the problem truly isn’t what they thought it was or even if it’s what they think it is, it doesn’t exist as the problem the way they think that it got there. Either way, I’m always looking to break their model of thinking first.

In fact, when I talk about organizational culture, I define it as the way the organization thinks, acts, and interacts, or the people. I almost always look to disrupt their thinking because if I can disrupt their thinking, then their behaviors are going to change. If their behaviors change, outcomes begin to change. That’s where I coach leaders. I’m like, “What is the thinking we need to have here?” You can’t determine what the thinking needs to be if you can’t understand what it is you’re doing.

Businesses perform three business functions. They’re either executing on strategy, navigating some kind of crisis or some adversity that’s hit them, or trying to capture an opportunity. Each one of those three requires something different from the organization. If that’s not built into your culture, you’re going to fail in 1 of those 3.

A lot of organizations are built well for executing strategy, but they’re not built well for navigating crisis or adversity. They’re not built agile enough to capture the opportunity when it presents itself. What I try to help leaders understand is, “All three of those are important for the long-term sustainable success of your organization. Let’s build that into your culture. The way we build that into your culture is by defining how we want to think, how we want to act, and how we are expected to interact with ourselves and our customers. If we can define that and become clear on it, then we understand how to create something different.”

If I’m navigating a crisis, for example, that’s going to require adaptability. Here we are on the other side of COVID. Some companies are on the other side of COVID. Some never made it. They had to be able to adapt the way they did business in order to navigate that crisis or that adversity. How do you need to think to be adaptable? What I began to get leaders to do is get away or depart from that knowledge and experience that is so comfortable for them. Get out of what you know in search of what you need to know or what you should know. That’s uncomfortable. It means you have to be vulnerable.

BYW S4 37 | Outside The Box
Outside The Box: Business leaders must get away from the knowledge and experience they find most comfortable. They have to search for what they should know and be vulnerable.


Something I learned is that’s easy for me. In fact, I enjoy doing that unasked or unprompted. It took me a long time to figure out that most people aren’t wired that way. They have to have some stimulus to say, “You can always go back to what you know.” Why don’t we jump out of that for a moment? Why don’t we get out here in the unfamiliar waters of what we don’t know and see if we can discover something significant?”

I could see that being scary for a lot of people, but exciting for a lot of people. The ones that are ready are probably ready. They’ve had enough pain.

I’m glad you said that because one of the first things I have to tell people is, “I am not for everyone.” To your point, if you’re not ready to be challenged or for me to shake you out of your familiar comfort zone of all your knowledge and experience where you get to be the smartest person in the room, I’m not for you. In fact, 80% of the people, companies, and organizations that come to me, I never wind up working with. I’m looking for that 20% that, to your point, is ready or at least willing. They may not be ready yet, but I’ll help them get ready. At least they’re willing to venture out. You’re right.

You are the perfect person for that. You’ve lived it, seen it, and experienced it. You’ve hit the highs and the lows. You’ve been the hero and the GOAT. The amount of experience that you have is invaluable.

You mentioned it when you were introducing me. You said, “In the trenches.” I know, as an entrepreneur, everything I ever did, I started from scratch. It’s not like I went out, raised and invested capital, and bought a business or anything like that. Everything I did start from scratch, which fits my personality because I’m going to do it the way I want to do it anyway.

I know what it’s like to lay awake on Tuesday night thinking about how you’re going to make payroll on Friday. I know what it’s like when the bank notice is due and you got to choose, like, “Do I pay my payroll taxes? Do I pay my banknote?” I’ve gone through all of that. I also know what it’s like to be on the top of the mountain, own the industry that you’re in or what you’re trying to do, and be nervous about, “Can we stay here? What do we do to stay here? How much do we need to innovate, and how much do we need to stay the same?” I asked myself all of those questions.

I’ve got all the scars that go with that. I told you early in this interview. I didn’t finish college. I don’t have a sophisticated degree. I didn’t go to an Ivy League School. I tell people what qualifies me to do what I do is that I have failed everything you can fail out and made every decision that you can make that was wrong, and have still been successful as a result of it. I suffered a lot of pain. I’ve got a lot of scars, and that’s what qualifies me to sit down and work with a business leader. I’ve been there.

It probably sets their mind at ease. They’re like, “This guy’s not perfect. I don’t have to try to be perfect because he already knows what it’s like if it’s not perfect. He’s lived it. I can tell him anything.”

I’m so glad you said that. One of the biggest challenges, when I’m working with a leader, is that they take on this responsibility. I don’t know who told them they were supposed to. They take on this responsibility that they’re supposed to always know the right direction to go, always know the answer to the question, always have the vision that’s needed, and always solve the problems. What I tell them is, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re either in the wrong room or you’re the wrong person for the room.” You’ve probably heard this before.

What I also try to help leaders understand is to quit carrying so much of that and understand that the leader’s job is to extract the brilliance of the collective. The best leaders I know understand that the real brilliance of an organization lies within the collective of the people. If I can be a genuinely curious leader where I interact with my people and I’m looking for their perspective, their understanding of things, what they see that I don’t see, and what they touch that I don’t touch, and relieve myself with the responsibility of always having to have all the answers, that’s when great things happen.

The real brilliance of an organization lies within the collective of the people. Click To Tweet

I love that. On another note, my wife has your WHY, so I know what it’s like to be married to you. I have a lot of sympathy for your wife. She’s got a lot of patience.

Let’s have some fun with this. I know your audience will benefit from this. What have you recognized as the biggest challenge of a relationship with someone with this WHY? Where do you struggle? I know there are tons of benefits because you’re still married. There are benefits there. What makes it tough for you?

Unpredictability. You cannot count on anything to be typical. There is not a chance your expectations are going to be met because they’re going to go in another direction. Logically, I struggle sometimes to follow along. I’m like, “How did we come to this decision?” I don’t know if your wife would say the same thing.

Can you share a story, or can you give us an example?

I’ll give you a simple example. We’ll get in the car to go home. Let’s say we’re together at an event that we go to a lot. She’ll say to me, “Let’s take a different way home.” I’m like, “We’re trying to get to the home right now. I want to get home.” She’s like, “I know, but let’s go a different way.” I’m like, “Why would I want to go a different way? I want to get from here to there.” She’s like, “I know, but we always do it this way. Let’s go a different way. It might be more fun or different.” I’m like, “I’m not looking for that right now.” In her mind, it makes total sense to find a different way. In my mind, it’s like, “I want the best way. I want to get home the fastest way.” Does that make sense?

Yeah. I know exactly how that is. I’m guilty as charged.

It’s a lot of fun when the fun is needed and wanted. When you’re needing something predictable and consistent, it’s not likely it’s going to be that way. That’s been my life so far. I would love to spend some time with your wife and swap stories. It would be a fun time, and you and my wife.

What I’m going to do when we finish here is I’m going to have my wife do the assessment. I’d like to know why I’m married to her.

Here’s something that’s been interesting. Don’t let your wife know this yet. You can get it back to me on this. It’s fascinating how often people with the WHY of Challenge are married to people with the WHY of Better Way, which is my WHY. I don’t know why that happens that way, but so many people and so many of my friends that have the WHY of Better Way are married to gals that have the WHY of Challenge and vice versa.

It’ll be interesting to see what your wife is. They’re similar. Finding a better way and challenging the status quo are similar. They’re both outside the box. Challenge wants things fun, different, and interesting. Better way wants things outside the box, but it has to be better. It’s not just different. It has to be better.

You hit on something. I’ll tell you a quick story. In the early days when I started my first business, I wanted some cheap employees. My wife was the perfect one. On two different occasions, we tried to work together. It made sense. We got the same alignment of goals. I can trust her and so on and so forth. It never worked for one reason. You hit on it.

I would ask her, “Can you see that this gets done? Can you handle this? Can you do this?” She always would come back and say, “There’s a better way to do that.” I’m like, “I’m not looking for a better way right now. I’m looking for efficiency. We got to go right now. It’s time.” She’s like, “We can do better.” It would ultimately wind up in an argument.

Finally, we realized we cannot work together. It was not going to work. We probably could. In the normal workplace where you’ve got two different WHYs like that, they would probably work together and complement each other. Unfortunately for us, we’re married, so all of that goes into that and we couldn’t work together.

This is my last question for you. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten or the best piece of advice you’ve ever given?

I knew you were going to ask this question, so I had to give some thought to it. It turns out the best advice I’ve ever gotten is the same that I’ve given. I’ll explain that. It was something a guy told me one time when I was down and out about something I was doing with a large group of people. I felt like they hated me. I remember expressing it to him. He was a little bit older than me and a lot smarter than me. He said something that stayed with me. He said, “You need to remember something. You are not for everyone. You weren’t even created to be.” I thought about that and it was such a relief.

I found myself telling people all the time after that, “Be authentic. Be who you are. The world needs you.” I wrote a book one time called Be Weird. I told everybody, “You’re weird. Embrace your weirdness. Be that weird because if you don’t, there’s a hole in the universe with your name on it and it never gets filled.” That frees you up to understand, “I might not be for you, but that’s okay because someone else is. I’m going to be right for someone else. That’s what I need to worry about. I’ll be me.” That’s the best advice I ever had.

You are not created for everyone else. Just be authentic. Click To Tweet

My wife always talks about that. Once she discovered her WHY is Challenge, it has given her such peace. She’s like, “I’m okay being me. I can be me, and that’s good enough. I don’t have to try to be somebody else or be like somebody else.” Here’s an interesting thing about the WHY of Challenge. It’s that people with this WHY that look at their WHY as a curse, they medicate, try to get away from themselves, and are very unsuccessful. If they look at their WHY as a gift, they do amazing things. They expand the horizon.

People like Steve Jobs, Herb Kelleher, and Richard Branson have the courage to do things the rest of us wouldn’t do. They bring amazing things into the world as I’m sure you’ve done in many cases and are going to continue to do. Thank you so much for being here. I enjoyed connecting and talking with you. I look forward to following you. Tell us the name of your book.

The name of the book is called The 4 Dimensions of Culture: And the Leaders Who Shape It. It’s about understanding what culture is and how your leadership shapes culture. It came out. It’s on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and all of those.

BYW S4 37 | Outside The Box
The 4 Dimensions of Culture: And the Leaders Who Shape It

Before we leave, what prompted you to write that book?

Interestingly enough, it was to challenge leaders to look at running their businesses differently. Business leaders tend to operate and lead from where the light is. They’re like, “I can look at a report. I can see what my revenue projections say. I can see what my profit margin says. I can see where my brand opportunities are.” It’s all of that. They try to lead from there.

What I’m trying to get them to understand is that it is culture. Culture leads in your absence. Culture executes it. Focus on that and understand it deeply. When you do, you’re going to lead differently. I feel so blessed because we’ve gotten this message out there over the past couple of years and we’re seeing some significant transformations in the way business leaders lead and ultimately how their organizations do business. It’s exciting.

I love it. I’m going to have to get it now culture’s a big thing. You’ve got to have the right culture. In your case, it will be to think differently, right?


Thank you so much for taking the time to be here. It was great to meet you. I look forward to following your book and following you.

Thank you very much.


Important Links


About Greg Cagle

BYW S4 37 | Outside The BoxGreg Cagle is a passionate advocate for authenticity, a transformational executive coach, a corporate culture consultant, an author, and a speaker. Leveraging more than twenty-five years of in-the-trenches experience in building and leading his own companies, Greg comes alongside leaders and guides companies to position them for breakthrough success in building a culture that blows away the competition.

With his proven “Let’s do this” approach, Greg has served top organizations like McCormick, Planet Fitness, Steel Dynamics, Army Special Operations, and the FDA. He’s worked with a wide range of industries including manufacturing, 5-Star Hospitality, technology, software, non-profit education, higher education, financial, insurance, and engineering.

Greg has also partnered with the John C. Maxwell company for many years as an executive coach, speaker, trainer, and business consultant. In every consulting and coaching relationship, speaking engagement, and training environment, Greg’s focus is on getting innovative, creative results that empower leaders and teams from around the world to outperform the competition and achieve more than they ever believed possible in business and in life.


WHY Of Better Way: Enhancing People’s Quality Of Life With James Schmactenberger

BYW S4 36 | Quality Of Life


Are you constantly seeking better ways to do everything? Join today’s guest, James Schmachtenberger, as he demonstrates how he embodies the WHY of Better Way. Through a lot of scientific research, James, along with his company, Neurohacker, is constantly trying to enhance people’s quality of life. His supplements, like Qualia Mind, help people become more motivated and effective at what they’re doing in life. He wants everyone to become increasingly adaptive to their reality. For James, if you want to live a longer and happier life, you have to start at your foundation. Join Dr. Gary Sanchez as he talks to James Schmachtenberger about how he started Neurohacker. Learn how he was able to buy the college he studied in at 18. Discover how a monk led him to his journey of self-discovery. Find out how supplements work and how they affect your body as a whole. Start hacking your body to find enlightenment today!

Watch the episode here


Listen to the podcast here


WHY Of Better Way: Enhancing People’s Quality Of Life With James Schmactenberger

We’re going to be talking about the why of better way, to find a better way and share it. If this is your why, you are the ultimate innovator and 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 improvements 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 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. In this episode, I’ve got a great example of that for you. His name is James Schmachtenberger.

He is a successful serial entrepreneur with a lifelong focus on using business and innovation to affect large-scale change for the benefit of humanity. James is the Cofounder and the CEO of Neurohacker Collective, a company focused on making groundbreaking products for health and well-being through complex systems science. His area of expertise includes new nootropics, anti-aging, regenerative medicine, sleep, and fast-acting, fast-paced entrepreneurialism. James, welcome to the show.

Thank you. It’s great to be here.

This is going to be fun. Tell everybody where you’re at now.

I’m San Diego based, at least most of the time. I travel a decent amount, but always nice to be home, which, fortunately, I am now.

You and I connected through an event that I was speaking at with JJ Virgin. I heard about your products. I use your products but didn’t know from that bio that they were your products. What is the most famous product you have created that people might know about?

Our flagship product is one called Qualia Mind. It’s a broad spectrum cognitive enhancement designed to do a lot of the things that people traditionally look for when they go towards cognitive enhancement and improvements in focus and memory, but we take it many steps past that. We are working on those things. The goal was how you increase all forms of intelligence in a sustainable and holistic fashion. In addition to things like focus and memory, we’re looking at things like critical thinking skills, improving discernment, decision-making, better visual reasoning, etc.

It’s pretty much the whole gamut. Part of optimal cognitive function is also your state, how good you feel about yourself, and your outlook on the world. In addition to trying to enhance brain function, it’s also working to enhance mood and outlook so that not only do you have more intelligence but more drive and capacity to pair with that enhanced intelligence.

I want to dive into that. I’m sure that’s fascinating to everybody who’s reading. Before we do that, let’s go back a little bit. Let’s go back to your life. Where did you grow up? What were you like in high school?

The majority of my life has been in California. My family moved here when I was nine. I’m originally from Iowa. I didn’t do high school. I was homeschooled off and on throughout the younger part of my life. My parents did want my brother and me to experience traditional school for a few years. We had social interaction, but also a connection in the sense of what everyone’s experience is. A lot of early life was homeschool. I ended up skipping over the high school experience. My last time in school was in seventh grade, and then I essentially took a year off to watch TV.

Hold on. What was that you said?

My last time in school was in seventh grade. After that, I was supposed to go back into homeschool. I just became disinterested. I was working with a tutor at the time and didn’t relate to the style. I essentially slacked off and spent most of the year watching television. From there, I ended up essentially faking a diploma to be able to start going to college, much younger than normal. I ended up hopping into community college at fifteen and did a couple of years of college before realizing that that wasn’t my orientation. I loved learning and studying, but I didn’t love the traditional structure of studying.

Depending on the topic, it was either too fast or too slow, but also generally not that interesting. I was more of an immersive learner. After a couple of years, I stepped out of college. My family always jokes because right after I went out of traditional college, I started in a vocational college studying Psychology and Alternative Medicine. About a year into that, as I was graduating, there ended up being an opportunity to buy that school. Shortly after my eighteenth birthday, I raised some money, bought out the college I was graduating from and spent most of the next decade running that. It was a bit of an abnormal life experience.

I don’t know many people that buy a college at eighteen.

I don’t recommend it. It was spectacular for me in many ways but also terrifying and daunting. I barely knew how to balance a checkbook. All of a sudden, I was responsible for tons of employees and hundreds of students.

What was that like for you?

It was spectacular and devastating all at once, especially in the early years, because I genuinely didn’t know what I was doing. I was so in love with what I had learned and what I saw as the bigger implications for the world of more people learning to live healthier lives and going into some of the domains of psychology and personal development. There was this huge mission and passion attached to it, but at the same time, I felt like I was failing. During that first three years, I made up for my lack of knowledge with work hours. I was working twenty-plus hours a day and mostly never went home. I would take a nap under my desk and get back to work. If I did take time off work, it was usually to go to a business workshop or marketing workshop and learn what I was doing.

It was this weird thing. I was in love with it, and I was also burning out. By the time I hit 21, I was in full-stage burnout, starting to have adrenal failure and all kinds of cognitive issues. I started feeling depressed, which made me start having an existential crisis because here I am doing this thing I love, and I was depressed and couldn’t make sense of it. It was an interesting experience. It’s ultimately a beautiful one, just a little harder than it needed to be.

What did your family think when you said, “I’m going to buy this college?” Did you even graduate from college?

I was finishing my last courses when I ended up taking over the school. I finished 2 or 3 months after I owned the school, which also created a weird dynamic of being the owner of it and still being in class. I loved the nature of the work, so I continued to study it a lot. After I bought it, I spent about five years in an intensive, one-on-one or small group studying with the man who founded the school and went progressively deeper, particularly into the psychology and personal development domains.

If I’m reading this now, I would be wanting to ask the question, “Why would the founder of the school sell it to an eighteen-year-old kid who hasn’t even graduated yet?”

That was a very common question. He got a lot of flak for making that decision. I had known him for a number of years, not particularly well before starting school, but I met him when I was ten. I was so passionate about the work that I dove in a way that not many people did. It was supposed to be a two-year program, and I ended up doing it in a year. Part of it was probably that he had been doing it for twenty-plus years and wanted to slow down. He still wanted to teach but didn’t want to run the business. Part of it was he saw something in me that he was willing to gamble on. Luckily, it worked out. In retrospect, I would’ve been one of those people being like, “What are you doing? This is insane.”

At this stage of your life, if you were advising the person that founded the college, would you advise them to sell it to an eighteen-year-old who hadn’t graduated?

Probably not. It was an interesting experience. I remember when I was going through the process, my dad had a quote that I thought was funny. He’s like, “You’re just naive enough not to realize what you can’t do.”

When you're young, you're just naive enough not to realize what you can't do. Click To Tweet

I can see that. Now you’re the young adult burned out, depressed owner of a college to help people not get burned out and depressed. How did that go now? Where did you go from there?

That ended up being a big turning point in my life and ended up being where the inspiration for Neurohacker, the company I run now eventually where it initiated. When I was 21, I was fully burnout with lots of health issues and psychological issues. I started down my healing journey. There were all kinds of things I was doing. I ended up getting introduced to this research physician in Mexico that had developed this specialized IV therapy for helping people repair all kinds of cognitive damage. Most of his work was for people recovering from drug addiction. When I met with him, he was like, “What you’ve done to your brain not sleeping for three years is equivalent to a heroin addict.” I went and did three days of this IV for nine hours a day. It completely changed my world.

It wasn’t like a subtle improvement. It was like the lights came back on. The cognitive function I had lost not only came back, but I had an awareness of whole new aspects of cognition that I hadn’t tapped into before. The depressive experience went away and was replaced with a sense of confidence and motivation. The piece that stood out to me was my empathy shot through the roof. All of a sudden, I stopped being able to think about what I wanted to do in the world without automatically being aware of what the bigger implications of that were and how those actions would affect the people around me in the world at large.

It was the reflection on that experience that told me this was the direction I wanted to go. Let’s say hundreds of thousands or millions of people could have this experience where they became more intelligent, more confident, more capable and more empathetic. They had an intrinsic motivation to use their competency and their intelligence for not only personal gain but for greater purposes. That could be something that could move the needle and change the world. That ended up being the original inspiration. Back then, I tried to partner with that doctor and was going to try to open up IV clinics all over the world.

We started down that process, but very quickly into it, he ended up becoming quite ill and passed away. Most of his research went away with him. There was this beautiful vision and no longer a path. It took a number of years while I was running other businesses, continuing to study this in the background, meeting with neuroscientists, formulators, and neurobiologists to start to get enough of the ideas and information together to be able to still create that vision but through a totally different modality.

What was in the IVs that you got in Mexico? Do you know?

I partially know. The key ingredient in it was NAD, which at this point is gaining significant popularity. NAD is a molecule naturally produced in the body that is the primary energy source for all cells. When you get increased NAD, essentially, health across the board starts to increase because your cellular health begins to increase. It also has significant benefits on cognitive function and clarity. That was the key ingredient. There was a series of different amino acids to be able to lever up what the NAD did on its own. I still don’t know entirely what was in it because no one does other than him. Over the years, I was able to put the pieces together and recreate enough of it to understand what was happening there.

BYW S4 36 | Quality Of Life
Quality Of Life: NAD is a naturally produced molecule in the body that is like the primary energy source for all cells. So when NAD gets increased, health across the board starts to increase as well.


In fact, at that event, I met your team. There were a lot of people talking about psychedelics. Was any of that that in there, do you think?

I’ve had some people who also went through his work that theorize that one of the ingredients was GHB, which is an increasingly popular psychedelic. It hasn’t had as much attention as things like psilocybin or LSD but is starting to gain more attention. It’s a prescription drug used for sleep disorders but in different applications and a higher dose creates psychedelic experiences and puts people into very open and receptive states, which gives the opportunity to go into areas of your psychology or work on things that might not feel safe in a normal fashion. Being able to explore them in that state makes it much more accessible. I wouldn’t know for sure if that was in it. I tend to think it was.

You go down to Mexico and have this IV therapy. It increases your empathy and energy. It gives you more intelligence and competence. You start to come back to yourself. Did you come back to yourself or a better self?

Both. I was still myself. It wasn’t like there was a fundamental change in my personality and my sense of self. It was an improved version. I felt a lot better about who I was. I felt the things that had always driven me, and all of a sudden, I had more ability to apply them in the world. It was still me. It was just an easier version of life through the experience of being me.

You then decided, “I want to get into this. I want to figure out how to do this.” You start down the path of creating IV clinics. That ended. What then happened to you?

We didn’t end up starting to officially work on Neurohacker for a number of years still. The R&D process formally started in 2014 and had a psychedelic component. During the years in between, I was doing a number of other projects. I ran that college for almost ten years and ended up selling it in 2010. At that point, I got into the medical cannabis industry in the very infancy of that space. I did quite a lot of business there, but I also got heavily involved in the public education side and, eventually, the policy side. For probably seven years or so, I ended up running a lot of the legalization campaigns and was building cannabis businesses, in essence, to be able to fund a lot of the clinical work and the public education work.

During this time, while I was running those businesses, I was continuing to study a lot of this domain. I don’t have a deep formal science background. I was never in a position to be able to build the thing adequately myself. I needed people. I had the vision, just not necessarily the know-how. In 2014, I went to Burning Man, and Burning Man tends to fall over my birthday this 2022. I decided on my birthday to take acid and wander out in the desert by myself and essentially do this vision quest to figure out what I wanted to devote the next many years of my life to.

What ended up coming through powerfully was this vision that you’ve had forever is too important not to create. However hard it is or whatever it takes, it has to happen. On the drive home from Burning Man, I had gone there with my brother and started a conversation with him. I was telling him about this experience. Even though he had known what I wanted to do for a long time, he didn’t quite get the bigger implications of not just the positive effects on the individual but the potential effects on humanity at large. As he started to understand that, he was like, “I’ll partner with you.”

My brother’s background is in complex system science. He’s a brilliant scientist and researcher. It was his ability to bring that complex systems approach applied to the study of human physiology that all of a sudden made the idea real. We spent about two years after that in this heavy R&D phase, developing the scientific model around complex system science and developing our first product, which is now Qualia Mind. From there, it turned into a company and started bringing its market in late 2016.

It’s a long journey but fascinating. I’m glad we went back because now what you’re doing makes more sense and why I should listen to you makes more sense. In your industry, how many hackers without the bio are there out there? How many fake stuff is out on the market?

Unfortunately, the majority of it. There are some really good companies out there. There are a lot of companies I respect, but when I look broadly at all of the cognitive products being marketed, they have very little science behind them. There’s a lot of marketing hype. I see these ads all the time like, “This is the pill that Warren Buffet takes to make all of his money.” Warren Buffet’s never even heard of the thing. It’s completely made up. You look at the ingredients, and you’re like, “That’s nice.” It might do a tiny bit of something over the duration of many months, but it’s not going to be a real impact. There are only a few companies that seem to devote themselves to research in an adequate fashion.

That’s been the area in that we’ve invested incredibly heavily. We’re not even that big of a company. There are supplement companies that are many times our size that still don’t have nearly as much invested in R&D. We have, at this point, a six-person in-house R&D team, plus a 30-person scientific advisory board outside of that, going on 30 studies at this point. The goal is not just how you make a profitable company. That’s wildly easier. The goal is how we advance the field of research and bring progressively better products, better science, and better education to people in a scalable fashion that are both effective and safe. Usually, you have safe but not all that effective or effective but not all that safe. Hitting both of those simultaneously does require substantial research.

You can be safe but not effective or effective but not safe. If you want to hit both, you need substantial research. Click To Tweet

Before we started, for those reading, I told James that in the building that my office is at, there is a place called the Optimum Human. They only have the best of everything there. The guy that started it is Matt Finkelstein. His why is better way as well, but he’s like us on steroids. Maybe not like you on steroids because you’re pretty much right there with him. He flipped the words from better way to way better.

Everything he touches has to be way better. He has Qualia Mind there. That’s where the interest was for me in talking with you about this because I didn’t know much about it. I used it and liked it. I couldn’t tell you this story that we’re getting now. I couldn’t tell you anything about the company other than if it’s up there, it’s probably good enough for me. This has been helpful in figuring that out. Let’s get to your first big product, which was Qualia Mind. If you haven’t heard of it, take a look at it online. What does it do? What is Qualia Mind all about?

Because of the scientific approach we’ve taken, it’s an interesting thing. Most products on the market, if they are effective, they’re trying to typically increase one or more neurotransmitters. In our case, we’re not trying to do that. The nature of our product is designed to bring the system into balance or homeostasis and increase capacity from there. The idea is there are times when you need more of a certain neurotransmitter or times when you need less. What we want is to be able to create the formulas that allow your body to do that in real-time, so you become increasingly adaptive to reality.

Before we go there, why don’t you clarify for everybody what a Neurohacker is?

A Neurohacker is a term we came up with. In essence, it’s the intentional use of various forms of chemistry or technology to enhance neurology or your brain function. In our case, we’re more focused on the chemistry side, but there are all kinds of technologies as well. There are things like neurostimulation and transcranial magnetic stimulation. Essentially, rather than living life as a standard, it’s choosing to study and invest in what are the key things out there that can make meaningful improvements in the shortest amount of time possible within a reasonable safety profile.

BYW S4 36 | Quality Of Life
Quality Of Life: A neurohacker, in essence, is the intentional use of various forms of chemistry or technology to enhance brain function.


Essentially, we want to find a way to make our brains work better and how we can hack the system to create a better life through enhanced brain function. That led you to Qualia Mind, which does that. If I take Qualia Mind, in layman’s terms, what is that going to do for me?

Most people have a positive experience within the first day or two. Usually, what you start to notice right away is reductions in procrastination. The things that have been sitting on your desk for way too long, all of a sudden, you feel motivated to do them. There are also improvements in processing speed, how much information you can digest and make sense of, and how quickly you can do that. There are improvements in memory, both short-term and long-term. One of the key areas is working memory on how much information you can hold in real-time at a given moment. Those things all generally start to take place within very short order and become progressively more so over the course of a few weeks.

BYW S4 36 | Quality Of Life
Quality Of Life: In a day or two after taking Qualia Mind, you’ll notice a faster processing speed, memory improvement, and less procrastination. This will only increase over the course of a few weeks.


Some of the things like memory take a little bit of time for the nutrition to work inside your system before you get the full benefit, but you usually start to notice some of those changes right out of the gate. There are also key changes in mood and outlook. Almost everyone who takes the product starts noticing that they become more present. That’s one of the pieces I enjoy hearing about the most. I love hearing people being smarter, intelligent, and effective, but when people write in testimonials that all of a sudden they’re more present with their family and more in tune with their children and their relationship and see improvements in their meditation practice, these things are the things that tend to excite me the most.

How is Qualia Mind different than taking a handful of vitamins? You see these different vitamin packs that promise the world. How is it different than your typical vitamins?

Substantially. We include a number of vitamins because there are key vitamins that the brain needs to be able to operate even just functionally but particularly optimally. Most people don’t get enough vitamins in their diet. There are things there, but there are all kinds of minerals. There are many types of amino acids and botanical extracts. Each one is designed to be able to support different aspects of brain function. Some of them are being able to support better production of dopamine, serotonin, and acetylcholine and to do those in multiple fashions because everyone’s physiology is so different. If you use a single ingredient or single approach, what ends up happening is something will work well for one person but won’t necessarily work well for somebody else.

The nature of how we’ve designed is we’re usually using multiple ingredients for each use case. As a result, it’s being able to get meaningfully positive effects across almost everyone. When we’ve done surveys around it, we see about 92% of people who take the product notice a meaningfully positive result. If you look at supplements in general, from the stats I’ve seen, it’s usually about a 15% positive response rate. If you take a good multivitamin for the brain, about 15% of people will probably have a good effect on that. The way that we’ve approached it with this much more complex orientation allows for a higher degree of effect but also affects a much larger population.

I have a friend who has one of the larger vitamin company essentially. I asked him. I said, “What percentage of health fitness would you attribute to taking the right vitamins?” He said less than 4%. What you are talking about is something totally different than that. What you’re talking about is the mind versus the body.

For this particular product, yes. We have other products that address different parts of the body at this point. I don’t disagree with him in general. I would orient it at a higher percentage than that. One of the things where people get off paths sometimes is they’ll find a great supplement and be like, “I’m going to do this, but it’s the only thing I’m going to do.” That doesn’t work. Supplements, based on their name, they’re designed to be supplemental.

This is on top of a healthy lifestyle. If you’re not getting good quality sleep or enough of it, if you don’t have a good diet and you take supplements, it will help somewhat, but it’s not going to help nearly as much as if you’re doing all the baseline things that we all know to be doing, just maybe aren’t. When you are doing those things and taking the right supplements on top of it, that’s when you start to get the exponential benefits that kick in.

You said what I was trying to say, but much better. That’s what I meant. If you don’t follow all the other things and just take a supplement, it’s not going to do much for you. It’s that last little thing that will get you to another level, but only if you’re doing the rest. What you’re talking about is not necessarily related to that. What you’re talking about gets your brain functioning better so that you want to do those other things so that you have a better outlook, you are more present, and your brain processes faster.

What you said there is a key piece, and it was for me personally. When I hit such a degree of burnout, I knew I should be exercising more. I knew I should be sleeping better. I just couldn’t. I didn’t have the energy and wherewithal to make it happen. Starting to get into nootropics and eventually into our product gave me the energy and motivation to be able to start doing all of the other lifestyle factors. It goes both ways because you get an increased benefit when you’re doing the right supplements on top of everything. If you also know you’re supposed to be doing it, and you can’t get there, sometimes the right supplements can help you get over that edge and be able to take the right actions, then move everything in the better direction.

Now you’ve developed Qualia Mind. What took place after that? I know you’ve got other products because I have one. What are the other products? What was the reason for developing these other and going in these other directions?

Once we developed Qualia Mind and started seeing these remarkable types of effects with people, what became clear was that that same model of science we developed. This complex systems approach could be applied to almost any aspect of physiology and allow for creating meaningful products for addressing almost everything. We take this foundational approach. Getting people’s brains to function in order seems necessary for everything. From there, we said, “What comes next?” That ended up being, “Let’s focus on cell health.” That puts it in the domain of longevity. Increasing life expectancy is great. It’s something that we are trying to and achieving.

Increasing life expectancy is great, but improving health as a whole is more important. Click To Tweet

More important than that is how we improve health as a whole and make sure that the years you are on the planet are as healthy and vibrant as possible. One of the key ways to do that is to go foundational and make your cells work better. We ended up developing a product called Qualia Life. It’s a mitochondrial formula that is designed to increase the amount of energy that your cells can output and increase cellular metabolism.

As a result of these things, your cells start to work better, which means all of your tissues start to work better, which means essentially all of your health begins to improve in meaningful ways. This particular product does focus to a significant extent on NAD, which we talked about a little bit earlier. It’s not only focused there. There are many pathways that we’re touching on. NAD is one of the key ones and one of the few areas we’ve had the opportunity to study so far and saw remarkable increases in the amount of NAD levels in people’s blood.

We went from cognition to longevity. We’re still continuing to build products in the longevity space. We released a product called Qualia Senolytic, which most people don’t know what senolytic is. It’s essentially a compound that gets rid of senescent cells, which are also referred to as zombie cells. When cells are healthier, they are supposed to be able to continue to divide and replicate. When they lose that ability, they’re supposed to die off.

As we age, and particularly as our immune system stops working as well, a lot of times, what happens is cells lose that ability to continue to replicate, but they don’t die off. They sit there and take up resources that could be going into healthy cells. Even worse, they emit these chemicals that turn the rest of the cells around them senescent, and it speeds up the whole aging process.

One of our products is being able to help those senescent cells clear out in the system and allow all of the resources to go into healthy cells, supporting better aging across the board. We’ve continued in the longevity space. We’ve gone into a number of other areas. We have a product for being able to support the improved vision. We have products for increasing energy. We’re getting ready to launch a product for improving gut health both at the level of the gut with a cognitive focus. As most people don’t necessarily know, the majority of your neurotransmitters are produced in the gut. When gut health becomes off, not only do you have whatever digestive issues that might come from that, but it has a serious impact on mood and brain function. That product will be coming out soon.

As another better way guy talking to a better way guy because that’s my why as well, what do you think is going through my mind now when I start to hear about all these products? From my perspective and a consumer’s perspective, what I want is one thing. I don’t want ten or a handful. I want one thing that’s going to give me the biggest bang for my buck. If the readers are reading and they say, “That all sounds great, but I want to try it, and I want one thing. What is the one I should start with?”

I agree with you. Ideally, there would be one product. The inherent challenge there is it would be a very expensive product and a lot of volume of capsules to take. If you look at the things we’re doing, and you’re going to pick one, I’m going to break your rule, and I am going to give two. It depends on what your need is. Qualia Mind would be a key one. If the need is to be more motivated, have more intelligence, and be able to be more effective at what you’re doing in life, Qualia Mind would be that one.

It’s not just a cognitive product. It has benefits across all kinds of things, but it focuses there. If your primary goal is improved physical health, longevity, and improved recovery energy, I would say Qualia Life. Those are probably my two favorite products. I take all of them, but those are the ones I’m religious about because the effects are so significant that it doesn’t make sense not to. If you’re picking one, it’s one of those two depending on what the need is.

One of the challenges the supplement has, which I don’t think you have, is I take a handful of stuff and don’t feel anything. I don’t know if I take it or don’t take it. I don’t notice any difference. With your products, you notice a difference. You feel different, and your mind is different. It gives you the motivation to take them. There’s not much motivation to spend $100 a month taking a handful of vitamins, and I don’t notice a thing other than very expensive urine.

It’s hard to go on faith with something like that. If you understand the science behind it, and it’s not just faith, there are some of those things that should be done, but if you can have a noticeable benefit, not only is it a better experience of life, but it becomes much easier to make it a consistent practice. That’s part of why we invest so much in research. We don’t want to create things you have to go on faith with. You want to have a real experience and know that things are getting better, and be able to feel those changes in your body, brain, and mood.

Why the name Qualia?

Qualia is a term from philosophy. Most people aren’t familiar with it. What it essentially means is your subjective experience of self and life. How do you perceive yourself? How do you feel about yourself? How do you feel about the world? The reason that we chose the word qualia is our aim was to enhance or upgrade that subjective experience. It’s a little nerdy, but it has a deeper meaning behind it.

BYW S4 36 | Quality Of Life
Quality Of Life: Qualia means your subjective experience of self and life. It is how you perceive yourself and the world around you.


It has a meaning which is important. Instead of just a cool word, it has some meaning. For those of you that are reading, James’ why is to find a better way, and how he does that is by making things simple and easy to use. What he ultimately brings is a trusting relationship where people can count on him. Things have to be better, simple, and create a better relationship or are trustworthy. That’s super helpful to know because you take things and simplify them. Isn’t that the essence of what you’re doing?

Yes. I don’t do it on my own. What I do is find the best experts in the world doing the most complex, interesting things and figure out how to work with them to take that complex, innovative, hard-to-access thing and make it accessible and simpler. I tend to serve that intermediary role between what is cutting-edge and impactful and how we make it something people can access.

Here’s the last question. It can be unrelated or related. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received or given?

One of my favorite quotes comes to mind there, which is, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and do that. What the world needs is people who have come alive.” That particular one, when I heard it, stood out to me because I’ve always been someone who had a very strong drive to try to improve the world and the quality of life. For most of my life, the way I did that didn’t make me come alive.

Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. Click To Tweet

It tapped into that sense of purpose in a beautiful way, but I was running myself into the ground. It was an upgrade in the way that I was holding an earlier understanding of how to be, which was how you live your purpose but in a way that enhances and makes your own quality of life extraordinary. By doing that, you inevitably have more energy and passion for delivering on the goal. It took me a long time to learn that, and in many ways, I still am.

Can you say that again?

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, for what the world needs are more people who have come alive.

I love that. That was good. I totally agree with you, but I’d never heard it put that way. That was awesome. James, if people want to learn more about you, your company, and your products, what’s the best way for them to get in touch with you or your company?

In either case, the best way is to go to That’s where you can find information about all the products, our research, the education, and the best and easiest way to connect with me personally.

James, thank you so much for taking the time to be here. That was super fascinating. I’m going to run up after we’re done and get both of those. I’m going to get the Qualia Mind and the Qualia Life. Thanks for sharing.

Thank you. I enjoyed this. It was a great interview. I appreciate you having me on.

Thank you.

Thank you so much for reading. If you have not yet discovered your why, you can do so at with the code Podcast 50. You’ll get it at half price. If you love the show, please don’t forget to subscribe and leave us a review and rating on whatever platform you are using because it does help to get the word out and help us impact a billion lives in the next fifteen years. Thank you so much for reading. I will see you next episode.


Important Links


About James Schmachtenberger

BYW S4 36 | Quality Of LifeJames Schmachtenberger is a successful serial entrepreneur, with a lifelong focus on using business and innovation to effect large-scale change for the benefit of humanity. James is the co-founder and the CEO of Neurohacker Collective, a company focused on making groundbreaking products for health and well-being through complex systems science. His areas of expertise include nootropics, anti-aging and regenerative medicine, sleep and fast-paced entrepreneurialism.



Marketing, Media And The WHY Of Contribute With Travis Brown

BYW 35 | WHY Of Contribute


Someone who embodies the WHY of Contribute wants to be part of a more significant cause – something bigger than them. They don’t necessarily want to be the face of the cause, but they want to contribute to it in a meaningful way. Travis Brown, the CEO of Mojo Up Marketing + Media, uses his time, money, energy, resources, and connections to add value to other people and organizations. To Travis, to contribute is an equal success. Therefore, the idea of saying “No” falls on deaf ears, or worse yet, it makes you feel guilty. The key to overcoming this challenge is identifying where you can make the most significant contributions and then committing to focusing your efforts on those areas. Tune in to this inspiring episode to hear more from Travis!

Watch the episode here

Listen to the podcast here

Marketing, Media And The WHY Of Contribute With Travis Brown

In this episode, we’re going to be talking about the Why of Contribute, to contribute to a greater cause, add value, and have an impact on the lives of others. If this is your why, then you want to be part of a greater cause, something bigger than yourself. You don’t necessarily need to be the face of the cause, but you want to contribute to it in a meaningful way.

You love to support others and relish successes that contribute to the greater good of the team. You see group victories as personal victories. You are often behind the scenes looking for ways to make the world better. You make a reliable and committed teammate and you often act as the glue that holds everyone else together. You use your time, money, energy, resources, and connections to add value to other people and organizations.

In this episode, I’ve got a great guest for you. His name is Travis Brown. He is the CEO of Mojo Up Marketing & Media. Mojo Up is an MBE-certified, Black-owned, and minority-operated full-service brand marketing agency that is made up of a diverse and talented team of marketing professionals and creatives. Their focus is to tell the story, shape the brand, and guide the marketing future for their clients as they make their greatest impact by using their greatest asset, their own authenticity. Travis, welcome to the show.

Thanks for having me, Gary. I’m excited to talk about how we make this impact in this world.

Where are you now? What city are you in?

I live in Fishers, Indiana, which is right outside of Indianapolis in the gray area of Indiana.

I’ve been to Indianapolis twice and something stood out to me, which was the size of the potholes in the street. I don’t know if that was only when I happened to be there or what but I had never in my life seen potholes like that.

It’s amazing that with all the technology and everything that they figured out in this world, they have not figured out how to fix those potholes to last longer than one season. It’s a heck of a business. I wish I were in that paving business because you never run out of potholes to fill.

For the people that have never been to Indianapolis, explain the size of those potholes.

You can step your whole foot in it. It will ruin your morning on the way to work because if your car hits it, you’re on the side of the road calling your AAA trying to figure it out. They are significant for sure.

Where I was, they were the size of trash cans. They were huge. The whole side of the road was gone. That may have been just when I was there. Let’s go back to your life. Where did you grow up? What were you like in high school, Travis?

I’m from Lafayette, Indiana, the home of the Purdue Boilermakers. I grew up in that era but in high school, I was a three-sport athlete. I would say twelve varsity letters, baseball, basketball, and football, and my life was consumed with sports. It was the first place that I was able to get outside of our family’s poverty, the fact that I grew up with only me and my mom primarily.

To some of the dysfunctional things that were happening in our family, sports gave me a way out. It gave me a place to excel. It gave me a place for people to see me as something that I wasn’t off the court and I liked that. I spent a lot of time diving into sports. I was pretty good. It created a lot of opportunities and probably a more equal playing field for me as I navigated through high school.

BYW 35 | WHY Of Contribute
WHY Of Contribute: Sports gave me a way out. It gave me a place to excel.


First of all, let’s stay in high school for a minute. What were you like as a friend or as a teammate? What would people have said about you back in high school?

What was cool is that when you see people in your adult life that say, “You stood up for me. You sat by me. You did something.” Because of my athletic status, I had a level of influence solely because I was an athlete. I wasn’t a very good student but I still had something on the inside of me that never sit right to watch people make fun of other people.

Now, I’m old. This was way before we talked about bullying the way that we do in this environment. I was a kid who was willing to help people and do things that were different because I felt like I was different. I’m a biracial child. I have a White mom and a Black dad. I went to a school of 1,500 kids and there were only five people of color in that entire school. We were different. You then tack poverty into that scenario.

It’s always felt like that outcast outside of sports. I was the kid that wanted to see everybody be good and do it. I was ultra-competitive and that probably drove some of my negative side of me. I was always competing in every way, shape, or form unless it was with my grades because I didn’t compete with those. Outside of that, as people see me now in my adult life, it’s been great to hear him echo, “You’ve always been like that. You have always been the motivational guy and the helper.”

It is right in line with contribute which is what we were talking about. You graduated from high school. Did you go off to college?

I did. I accepted a college scholarship to play at Illinois State where I was going to play baseball and football. I found myself in an environment that wasn’t conducive for me. One night, I packed up all of my stuff and quit in the middle of the night the full scholarship, going to school for free, and living out what my dream was. Before I realized it, there was trying to figure out what to do next in my life. I got a call from Purdue University. They said, “Come walk on. We think you can still play here.”

I did that and I did something that not many people have done in their life. I became a two-time college dropout. When you do that, now you have no education. It was the late ’90s and you were trying to find your way. I was working at the pawnshop and I remember asking myself this question, “How did I get here? I’m not supposed to be here.”

Maybe as a statistic, I was, but not in my mindset. I was supposed to do something bigger, go on, and represent my family in a way that we’ve never been represented, which was a college graduate and a success. I was at that crossroads that every single person gets to in some way, which is, “How do I get out of here?”

What did you do?

Interestingly enough, I connected with some people at the time that were in the Amway business. The one thing that it did for me is it helped me understand the value of continuing education, tapes, books, learning, self-development, and empowerment. I learned how to stand in front of people and speak. It fueled me to go, “I don’t have the traditional path as everybody else, which I never did, but I can still be something.”

BYW 35 | WHY Of Contribute
WHY Of Contribute: Understand the value of continuing education, tapes, books, learning, self-development, and empowerment.


It started me down the path of going, “How do you help other people get what they want? How do you help motivate people to see this more in life? How do you take your situation and turn it around?” Unbeknownst to me, that became my life’s commitment to not only helping myself get into a situation that I wanted to be in but helping other people.

Through Amway, you got into personal development and personal growth.

Yeah, because back in the late ’90s, when I was involved in that, it was all about out listening to tapes and there’s just education. It was personal development. How could you get better? It was reading Think and Grow Rich, The Magic of Thinking Big, and all of these books that I’d never wanted to read ever. Now, here I was 19 or  20 years old consuming all of this information and content. It set me up for who I am now.

Isn’t that fascinating? It’s so common to hear that the turning point for people that are not on the right path to getting on the right path is personal growth, being a book.

It’s either a book, a connection, or a person that does it. Nowadays, it’s a podcast or a social media clip that you’re scrolling. You watch it and it touches you. Back then, we didn’t have some of that stuff. It was that book or that person who took a few minutes to invest in you and your thought process and give you that good old like, “You can make it. It’s your choice.”

Did you start with Amway? How were you with Amway and what happened to that career?

It’s funny because I knew I was going to retire a gazillionaire in that business and it didn’t happen that way but it led me to the connections that got into the mortgage business. At an early age, 21 years old, I was in the mortgage business. I had a ten-year stint in that business. It led me to even start my own mortgage company, which I sold, and then I became a VP at a large mortgage broker in Indiana and across the country.

It was at that point in time of my life that I was taking that whole personal development and the training acumen that I developed, but then I had to put my leadership style and stuff to the test. When I was 25 or 26 years old, leading 25 to 30 people in an organization in a sales climate fueled this desire to go empowering people and also create an opportunity for myself to make money as I’ve never made my life before, which is tough to handle. There’s some negativity with that as well but it started me on that path and down the right direction.

You went from Amway to mortgage. You were there for ten-plus years? What happened? Was this right when the mortgage business crashed?

Right before that, I got out in 2007. The reason why I got out was that I love sales training. That was my thing in the mortgage business and I took a bunch of my guys to this sales training. The guy tried to bring people up in front and embarrass them to teach them how they need to do sales training. My guys were looking at me like, “You got to go up there.” I go up in front of my guys. I shut the guy down. We all high-fived and laughed about it but it was that day that I realized, “That’s what I wanted to do.” I just didn’t know if that was possible or how to do that.

That’s what led me to launch my motivational speaking career, which I did spend many years collectively and even now, on the speaking circuit traveling the entire country. It led me to a fun space. I did a passion project on anti-bullying. I became the most booked anti-bullying speaker in the country. All of that was still part of who I am in helping impact people in their lives.

You are continually helping others do better and pushing their limits so that they can have a bigger impact.

That’s the warm, fuzzy version of that, which is all true but I was also battling that entire time, “Who am I? Can I do this?” It’s the imposter syndrome that people often talk about like, “I’m in these rooms. I’m doing this, but I’m struggling financially at different times.” I was working so much in the mortgage business at the time that it costs me my first marriage. It’s understanding that you can have all this money, you can work yourself to death and you can work in a bad culture but that has its lifecycle.

You can have all this money, work yourself to death, and work in a bad culture, but that has its life cycle. Click To Tweet

I remember going, “I’m not the pawnshop anymore,” but I’m at another place in my life where I’m going, “How did I get here?” This isn’t where I wanted to be either but I didn’t know because the money which I was chasing, alongside this burn to help people come along with me, was reaching a boiling point. That was a tough time in my life for me to recognize, “Who are you, and when you grow up, who do you want to be?”

Because you found success in business, did it make you immune to all the typical problems everybody faces?

No. It ran me faster right into them. What’s more dangerous than a 25-year-old making several hundred thousand dollars a year who’s never had money, who came from poverty, and who never saw his parents handle money? Now, you go through a new rich phase where you’re buying stuff and you have cars, houses, Rolexes, money, and stuff because that’s what you thought was a success.

You’ve chased it and you want it, but you left so many bodies and baggage behind. You didn’t do it the wrong way like it was unethical, but it wasn’t family-centered. It wasn’t others-centered. I was helping people to get what I wanted and to get me to a point where I was successful. That’s where a lot of people chase success.

Zig Ziglar may have had the right mindset, which was, “If I can help as many other people get what they want, then I’ll get what I want,” but that gets misconstrued a lot to manipulation to get you to do what I need you to do for my own benefit. Before you realize it, you’re in a spot. You’re making money, but you’ve had to sacrifice. Everything that you said was valuable.

People do this all the time. They say, “My family is my number one priority,” but you don’t see any real resemblance to that. Growing up, my dad was a great guy. He was a better dad to me than his dad was to him, but it wasn’t very good. My mom was doing the best that she could, but I didn’t have a lot of those examples of understanding money in its place, also, people in its place, and how to save, value, and do things that I’ve never been taught. There I was, short of 30 years old going, “This is not what I thought it was going to be,” and having to make another major decision at that time.

What was the turning point for you? Take us to that moment when you said, “This is not it?”

It was right at the crossroads after I talked about that training incident where I had to decide what I want to do. I knew that the mortgage could provide money, but it wasn’t fulfilling for me. I left that behind to go chase my dream of being a motivational speaker. It was a long, hard road of going from making a lot of money to trying and figuring out how to build a business and how to learn the skill. I was traveling all over the place.

Now, I was speaking and training, but I was developing something. I was creating an opportunity for myself. Before I realized it, I’m like, “This is where I was supposed to be.” All of that failure and I’m a big believer that failure gets you places. All of those setbacks, hard knocks, and poor decisions have all brought me to this place where I get a chance that most people don’t get and that’s to rebuild it the right way.

What was the best part and the worst part of being a motivational speaker?

The worst is easy. It’s the travel. I joke with people and I say, “You don’t pay me to speak. You pay me to travel.” You come to my house on a Saturday afternoon. You bring in your whole team and you show up on my backstep, but I’ll talk to you for 30 minutes for little than nothing. If you want me to leave my family, get on an airplane, travel, stay overnight deal with TSA and all that stuff, and be gone, you’re paying me to travel.” That was the worst part.

Also, the loneliness of that too, because it’s not that glamorous. I can think of all these wonderful places where I got to go by myself without my wife or my kids. That was never glamorous, but the most beneficial thing is this. I almost think almost every motivational speaker would probably echo this if it’s about the one. What you quickly realize is when you walk into a room with an audience where there are thousands of people or hundreds of people and you’re giving everything to it.

You know you can’t change everybody. You can’t inspire everybody no matter how great your message is, but there’s always one. When they come up to you afterward or you’re down the road, several years. They were the ones that, in my world, were thinking about suicide. They were thinking about walking away from a marriage. They were thinking about, “How can I go on?” They were thinking about they were not good and valuable enough.

You can't change everybody. No matter how great your message is, you can't inspire everybody, but there's always one. Click To Tweet

Through my transparency of my own failure, encouraging people to do what they never thought they could do, became this badge of honor for me to say, “God didn’t do all that stuff to me. He was trying to do it through me so I could help other people on the other side.” Once you realize that, you feel so on fire for the purpose that it drives you to leave your family, get on those planes, and go do that for years.

You did that for ten years. What was the turning point to say, “I’m done being a motivational speaker? Off to my next thing.”

I have three beautiful kids and I have an incredibly beautiful wife who loves and have supported me through all of this in the last few years. My oldest was getting to be in late middle school or freshman high school. I have two littles. I had this epiphany one day and this is about my oldest, more so than my two littles but I’m like, “I don’t want my kids to look at me and be like, ‘My dad was amazing. He was out there trying to save the world, but he was never home for me,’” and that hit me.

She didn’t say it that way but because I had to leave so much to go help other people and to speak. I became enamored by the fact that I was on CNN, and headline news and speaking everywhere. I’m getting to do a lot of cool things making an impact but the one thing I said when I rebuild this is, “I’m going to do it right.” I felt like there was too much sacrifice for my family.

My wife was feeling like she was doing a lot on her own. She’s an executive herself. It was a crossroads and I was tired, I was worn out but my challenge was, “I know this is part of my purpose.” I’ve got too many people’s lives, thousands of people’s lives that’s been changed. How do I stay committed to that but not have to leave my family? The one thing you learn quickly about the motivational speaking business is that you better be a good marketer or you will starve.

It doesn’t matter how great your message is, if nobody hears it or knows you exist, they can’t book you. They can’t give you a check and all of a sudden, you’re broke and you can no longer do what you’re purposeful for. I had developed a lot of marketing skills. I had hired coaches. I decided I wanted to transition out of that.

A couple of my buddies had a mortgage company. I went back to the mortgage business. I used now my marketing skills to help them build a division that was super strong in the Indianapolis market. I didn’t have to travel very often. I got to do what I love, which was still helping people and helping stories and I got to be local. It was a perfect storm coming, “This is why you’re supposed to be here at this point in your life.”

Is that when you went on to start a Mojo Up?

Yeah. I did that for three years, working for them, and decided, “I wanted to tell stories.” In June 2019, I left and started Mojo Up Marketing & Media. A few months later, we were right in the middle of a pandemic, which I had to shift and try to figure out what does that mean. We had a video team. On March 1st, I hired a video production manager. I hired a CMO and a head of graphic design on March 1st and 18 days later, we were all shut down. I was trying to figure out how to make this all work.

How did you make it work?

Probably the word outside of COVID for 2020 and 2021 was pivot. You had to learn how to pivot. You had to say, “What can I do?” We did a bunch of virtual stuff and at that time, I still was speaking some, but not very often. I was speaking to sell our company or to pick up some checks while I was building the business a little bit but I have to go back to virtual. I learned how to build a strategy for people and people were trying to figure this out. “What do I do and how do I pivot?” We became a great arm for so many people to do that.

2020 was tough. 2021 got things rolling. Now, fast forward, I have ten full-time employees. I have three part-time employees. We have a 5,000-square-foot office here. We work with major brands to build and market them. It’s been a journey. When I look at it, Gary, all those things that I did all those years were just building blocks for what I do now, which is to help people tell their stories through authenticity so that they can make their greatest impact. Every person you meet is different, but whether it’s a non-profit, a corporate entity, or the city, they all have a purpose for existing, and we get to be a part of telling that story.

BYW 35 | WHY Of Contribute
WHY Of Contribute: Help people tell their stories through authenticity to make their greatest impact.


When you say you help people tell their stories through authenticity, what do you mean by that? Give us an example of what you mean.

When you sit down with somebody, a lot of times it’ll take people 20 or 30 minutes to try to get out like, “What problem are you solving? What makes you unique? What’s your proven process?” It is super important to articulate that brand value. We have a thing called a Brand Blueprint, where I sit in a room and I figure out what that problem-solving statement is. That’s all the content that we create and that we use in marketing that we help people understand and develop so they can use it to grow their business.

Whether you’re a coach, an author, an entrepreneur, or whether you’re in the corporate realm trying to figure out the DEI space, all of them are still struggling with that same thing, which is, “Who are we?” When I sit in a room with people, it’s easy for me outside and this is part of my own gifting. I would say, “God gave me two gifts. One is standing on the stage and speaking to people and the other is sitting in a room and figuring out how to build a strategy that helps people.”

When you put it together and people hear it, they see the light bulb goes off and they’re like, “I can say it that way. I’ve been struggling to share that.” The other piece of that is, as a speaker, the more authentic you are and the more vulnerable you are, the more people love you. The more they engage with you. The more real that experience is. I learned that through speaking. Now, I’m working with brands and not only personal brands but companies to go, “Let’s unpack your authenticity so people can see how amazing you guys are.”

The more authentic you are, the more vulnerable you are, the more people love you, the more they engage with you, and the more real that experience is. Click To Tweet

For those of you that are reading that know the Why.os, Travis’ why is contribute, but how he does that is by making sense out of complex and challenging things. Ultimately, what he brings are simple solutions to help people move forward. It tells us that you want to help people have a bigger impact by helping them understand who they are and deliver it in a simple way where other people get it. Does that feel right to you?

100%. In our world, we put brands in front of everything. It makes it sound better, but brand identity is like, “Who are you at your core?” We have core values as do many people, but most people don’t operate within core values. The reason why they’re called core is that it’s supposed to be who you are at your core. You hire, fire, reward, and punish for that. Everything is about that and building a culture. Some people have done a good job at that. The world just doesn’t know it.

Therefore, because the world doesn’t know it, they can’t monetize it financially and they can’t build a culture that can do bigger and better things because people aren’t attracted to that. A real thing that companies are struggling with is how we do that. How do we find that space? Especially now, what we help companies a lot is in attracting talent. There’s a war on talent, as they say. Your story is paramount to being able to attract that good talent. We can touch it in a lot of different ways, honestly.

How important is it to have the words to be able to articulate what makes your authenticity?

The best way I can explain that is, first of all, it’s super important and almost essential. I know that because when I use the wrong words with my wife, it doesn’t go very well. I’m like, “That’s not what I meant.” She’s like, “That’s what you said or you didn’t say.” We all know that context. If I say it well, people resonate with it and they want to be a part of that. When we don’t say it or we say it wrong, you get the opposite. People begin to repel to who you are or how you represent.

One of the things I learned in my tenure of growth was this. I don’t believe you should compartmentalize your world. This is my own philosophy. That means the same Travis Brown you’re getting on this show is the same one that’s going to walk right out into his office with my team or go to have dinner with my wife, my mother, my kids, and my buddies. I’m that guy all the time.

The reason why it’s so important is that in 2022 and 2023, in this era that we’re living in, the difference is that people don’t want to buy companies without knowing who they are. We will not buy something because of what the company stands for or we’ll buy a lot more because of what the company stands for. That’s why in this environment, being able to articulate what that is, is so important to the success or failure of your business.

You walk people through a process to help them understand what they stand for at their core and then help them articulate it in a simple way where others get it quickly and can make a decision whether I like you or I don’t like you. I want to do business with you or I don’t want to do business with you. I resonate or I don’t resonate.

Let me give you a little clarity there. Most people already know who they are. They’re living it, but they don’t know how to articulate it in a way that other people go, “That’s what you do. That’s who you are. I had no idea.” There are people sitting next to you in rows in church, in baseball and softball games, or in transit and they don’t know who you are and what you do, and how you can help them or other people.

There are so many businesses that if they did a much better job articulating that through their design or videos that ultimately show up on their website, social media, or media buy. When they’re able to put that message in front of people and people can consume it, it’s like, “Yes, I want to work with you. I want what you have. I’ve been looking for it. I just didn’t know that’s what you did.”

The right message gets the right response.

Let me say this. One of the things that we can take and what President Trump and every president taught us is that you still only need 51% of the vote. This isn’t even a political statement. This means that you need to know who your audience is and you have to appeal to your audience. When you get your audience to know who you are, whoever that is, it doesn’t matter if the other 49% doesn’t like you or doesn’t engage with you.

Now, I’m not a proponent of making them matter or doing bad things to them. I’m simply trying to point out to people that when you understand your authenticity, it’s okay to say, “Here’s who we are. Here’s who we want. Here’s what we don’t want.” When brands start to do that, does it propel them into greater success by owning who they are and not worrying about who they’re not?

I bet that’s scary for companies to dive into because they want to focus on what we’re doing here. We don’t want to know why we’re doing it or what we are at our core. Let’s talk about our product over here.

They’re like, “Can we get to the end result?” I’m like, “Yes, but let me tell you how we get there. We got to do this strategy thing, then we’re going to do some design stuff and we’re going to have to shoot some video around it. We’re going to craft this message and then we’re going to put it on your social and on here and tell the story.”

It’s not an overnight fix. If you’re trying to get out of this or you’re trying to even, “We’re doing good. We want to go to great.” There’s not an easy button to push that just allows you to get there. One of the things that good companies do is understand their niche. When you understand your niche, it allows you to double down on a specific thing that allows you to be known for that and people can embrace that a lot more than if you don’t.

It sounds like you use the story quite a bit. Why so?

If you think about what Walt Disney said many years ago, “A picture is worth 1,000 words.” If a picture’s worth a thousand words, a video with a great story is worth 1 million. It’s a culture that we live in. We want to understand the narrative. We want to understand who somebody is. We want to understand what a company believes. We want to feel it. The movie industry has been a gazillion-dollar industry for all of our lives and what do they do? They tell stories.

A picture is worth a thousand words. And if a picture's worth a thousand words, a video with a great story is worth a million. It's just a culture that we live in. Click To Tweet

For years, on an individual and a company level, we felt that’s not our job. If we make a great product or service, they will come. I’m telling you, there’s been a lot of people that built it and they didn’t come because it’s the story around it. If you think about the movie business, here’s the power of the story. Most of the time, we go watch movies based on a trailer. It’s in 1 minute and 30 seconds, a version of this movie where they capture the who, the what, the where, the why, and the suspense.

It’s drama filled and action-packed but you’re compelled to say, I want more of that. You then go give them your $22 for you and one person to go get tickets to a movie and some popcorn to be able to see it all but that story. That’s the articulation of a story that’s compelling and that gets people engaged. One of the things that are an obstacle for people, and this is what I dealt with when I was motivational speaking, is they don’t believe they have a worthy story to tell.

Do you have to work with them on figuring their story out?

Yeah. Because most Americans in general, we’ve grown up in this ideology that we don’t want to be arrogant. We don’t want to brag about ourselves. Most of us have been raised on that and marketing feels like a lot of people bragging about themselves. It’s counterintuitive for them to now create a campaign. That’s why it’s very difficult for people to do their own marketing because I’m going to look at you and say, “This whole White thing, you got to do this and this with it.” You’re like, “I don’t want to feel arrogant. I don’t want to feel boastful.”

I’m saying, “I don’t want you to feel that either but if the world knows about it, they’re going to engage. They’re going to be on board with it.” We got to convince people many a time that it’s a big component of this thing. I’m using this phrase, “telling this story,” but it’s giving people some understanding of who you are and what you do, and why you do it.

I had on the show a gentleman who was voted the number one marketer in the world. He told me, “I can help anybody with how to brand and market their business, but I could not figure out my own. I had to hire somebody to come work with me. I felt like a loser.” He said, “I’m supposed to be the expert and I could not figure it out for myself for the life of me,” and that’s just the way it is, right?

100%. For any of your readers that have kids, people that get kids that get it, or even a spouse. You can tell your spouse something all the time and it’s like, “It doesn’t resonate as hard as when somebody else does. I think that’s where we all live. I take myself through the same process that I take everybody else through.

My coach taught me something a long time ago. He’s like, “You got to be Mojo Up that’s talking to Travis Brown on what you need to do. You can’t go in the mindset being, ‘I’m Travis Brown trying to talk about myself in the third person and come up with a narrative. It will feel too awkward for you to do that.’” Most people have to hire an outside company, even the best of the best. I’ve done it in spots where we’ve been stuck to help them think through it but here’s the thing.

We get that in almost every other realm. That’s why we hire a coach for our kids for sports and somebody that’s doing our weight training and somebody to do like X, Y, and Z. There are people that are called and have a high level of skill to do something very specific that can help you. I wish more people were willing to tap into that and say, “I’m not good at this. My philosophy is, ‘I call it, pay the man or woman to do something way better than I could.’” If I’m doing it, I’m going to jack it up. It’s not going to work right and then I’m going to have to pay them anyway after I’ve already messed up.

BYW 35 | WHY Of Contribute
WHY Of Contribute: Some people are called and have a high skill to do something very specific that can help you.


Tell us about the name Mojo Up.

Mojo came from when I was speaking. I had established this whole idea around the things that “It” leaders did. I felt like there were leaders. Some leaders had “it” and some people leaders didn’t. I didn’t want to go around and build a whole business off of speaking around it factor so I called it the mojo factor. I had these factors of what great leaders did that others didn’t and great cultures had that others didn’t. That then became the basis for that.

It’s funny because I used to speak all the time and one old lady in the front row of one of my public seminars one day is like, “Hey, Mr. Mojo Guy.” Another lady did it and I thought, “Huh.” That was the formation of Mr. Mojo, which was part of my speaking persona. That then rolled into our company of Mojo Up as speaking, coaching, and consulting. When I went into marketing, I was thinking, “What am I going to call my marketing company?” I thought, “Why would I change exactly what I’ve already called myself and the brand for the last few years?” We stuck with Mojo Up.

Who would be an ideal client for Mojo Up? For the people that are reading, who would you like to have connected with you? What companies?

We do three main types of services that connect with people. One is more of the small business brand refresh. You’ve started down a path. You’ve been trying to do some stuff. You’re successful and you may be doing well, but now, you’re ready to go to the next level. You realize that the logo that you initially did on Fiverr is not enough or the design that your brothers, uncles, or sister did something for you is not enough.

By enough, I simply mean you’re going after accounts now where people are like, “You got to be on point and your stuff has to look great.” It’s the same thing with video, your social media, and your website.” We come in. We build that strategy and we turnkey all of it and say, “Here’s a refresh of who you are, what you do, and how well you do it.” That’s client number one.

Client number two is more of a mid-market with the corporate side of things. Now, you’re talking corporate and C-Suite executives that are probably going, “We have a story to tell, but we can’t figure out how to tell it.” You see a lot of this. For us, it’s in the DEI area. We spend a lot of time helping people understand how to track that talent, how to create that culture, and how to crystallize it so that people go, “I want to work there. I want to be a part of that.”

We have a whole group of diverse and talented team members and we’re very diverse in the way we look, the way we think, and the way we operate and age. We’re able to tell a client’s story not because Travis Brown is great but because Travis Brown has a team of people that are great that have so many different vantage points that we can come together and build that messaging. The second one is the enterprise-level type of client. The third one is individual services. We have people that go, “I need A.” It could be a logo. It could be a podcast show created. Whatever that thing is inside the marketing realm, we have the ability to turnkey that solution for you.

You have tapped into the power of diversity.

When people talk about diversity, it means a lot of things to people. For us, I wanted to build what I wanted the world to look like. We have a lot of racial diversity that’s visible to the eye where people can see that. We have some religious diversity that was very new to me to embrace, very male-female diverse. Our youngest is a recent college graduate who’s phenomenally talented. We got 50-plus people in there. We have experience differences. If I go down the line, I could check all the boxes at some level and say, “We have this diversity, but why?”

People talking about diversity means a lot of things to people. Click To Tweet

It matters to our end clients and they’re trying to figure out how to market to all of us. If it was only me times ten sitting in a room, I’m so limited in thought and perspective that I can’t be as good as anybody else. If I don’t have people that come from my background, the poverty, the driving of money, we have all of those things. What that means to our clients is that you have somebody that gets you, but equally as important, gets your clients and could help you connect and engage.

I don’t know if this is a fair question or not and I don’t even know if you want to answer this question or not, but it popped into my head because of the way you described diversity. Would you be able to tell which type of diversity has been the most beneficial or most helpful for your company? Has it been racial diversity, age diversity, or education diversity? Is that a fair question? You can say no if it’s not. That’s okay.

It’s a fair question because people have it. That’s what makes it a fair question. I don’t think we could pick any one of those to say it helps us create value outside of here. The easy answer is that our racial diversity is what brings the attention. Number one, we’re a Black-owned marketing agency. We’re the largest Black agency in Indiana. We have thirteen people. We have six Black males. Six Black males don’t probably exist in many companies in Indiana alone, let alone in size of 13, 2 black females, 2 people of Asian descent, and White. That is a visual makeup. We have a gal who’s Muslim, so just by her outer appearance.

Those things create buzz around people looking at us and can noticeably see that diversity. What I’m more excited about is yes to that because it doesn’t exist, but secondarily what that means. That means we bring such an array of different thoughts that ultimately is what makes our product that we put out so different than the people that we’re competing against in our market.

BYW 35 | WHY Of Contribute
WHY Of Contribute: We bring an array of different thoughts that ultimately make the product we put out so different from the people we’re competing against in our market.


It’s interesting because diversity has a different meaning for so many different people. For some, it’s a positive. For some, it’s a negative but the way you explain diversity was positive in the ability to think, see, and connect differently. Sometimes, you don’t get that definition when you’re talking about high schools or middle schools. It’s a forced diversity versus, “We wanted to have different perspectives, opinions, and insight. I don’t know everything. I got to see it from different angles.” I like the way you talked about it.

There’s so much scarcity around this conversation and transparently, if you’re in a majority, I understand some of that thought process of like, “What is this going to mean for me and what does this do?” Our campaign in 2020 and 2023 is called diverse and talented, not diverse or talented. So many people had this mindset that if I’m choosing diversity, then that means I must be choosing less talented and it’s not the case. It’s “and.” It’s about being able to have both.

However, for people that had to look around and do that, sometimes it creates a little bit of fear. Sometimes that creates some unknown. Where our world is going, we have to be more receptive to things that are different. We’re starting to do a better job with diversity. The real scary thing for people is equity. If you’re talking DEI, the equity portion is, “Are we willing to provide different sets of resources for different people to get them all to be at their best?”

The hardest shift that we’re still seeing is because we think equality is the answer, but it’s not. It’s about equity, which means, “I may have to do things.” As parents, we know this. If you’re a parent, you already know this. I’ve got three kids. There’s no equality to it. It’s equity because this one, I have to do this for. This one, I do something different for, and this one, I do something completely different to get them all to the same exact level. That’s what we’re saying in the workplace. That’s what’s going to take to create opportunities to make the biggest impact and change our world.

If there are people that are reading that want to get ahold of you and want to follow you to learn more about Mojo Up, what’s the best way for them to connect with you?

It’s easy. It’s It’s our website, but it’s also all of our social media handles. You can reach out to me at Feel free to email me. If people go and they start to watch what I do on LinkedIn, watch our Instagram and see some of the things that I’m putting out, there are two things I would tell people. One is to figure out if you can do that yourself. If you can do that yourself, then you do not need me or our team. Secondly, if you can’t do it yourself, then the question becomes, what would it look like if I hired Mojo Up or somebody like us?

Travis, thank you so much for being here. Talking with you reminds me of the quote from Steve Jobs, which is, “You cannot connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect the dots looking back,” and you’ve talked about that a lot. There are so many things that happened to you. You didn’t know why, but now that you are where you are, you can look back and say, “That’s why that happened.” You’ve come an amazing way and I love what you’re doing. I’m looking forward to staying in touch and following you.

Thanks for having me, Gary. I want to encourage everybody that you can make it. You can do it. You can be it. I’ve always loved helping people achieve things that they didn’t think were possible and although I may not be the one to lead you to it, there’s somebody in your sphere of influence that can help you get to where you’re going to go. You got to ask and then you can get there.

You can make it. Do it. You can be it. Click To Tweet

Thank you, man. Thanks for being here.

Thanks for having me.

It’s time for the segment, Guess Their Why and this is a person that some of you are going to know and maybe not all of you are going to know. His name is Joe Polish. I met him at an event that I was speaking at. He was speaking there as well. We got a chance to sit and talk, but I didn’t know a whole lot about him other than I knew he was a good marketer.

He wrote a book called Piranha Marketing, but I found out after the fact that he is known as being the most connected person in the world. He knows everybody. He is good friends with everybody and it turned out that a couple of days after I met him, a movie came out about him and it was called Connected. The book Who Not How was written about him in the power of knowing people and connecting with people.

I did send him the Why.os discovery so we will know his Why.os but I’m going to guess. If you know him, then you’ll appreciate it but I’m going to guess that his why is to contribute. To contribute to a greater cause, add value, and have an impact on the lives of others because he cannot help himself from contributing to others’ success. When we were having lunch, there were other people at the table with us and he almost went around the table and tried to figure out how he could help everybody. He wants to help and he’s very much about giving. Be the giver. Give First. I believe that his why is going to come back as contribute.

I’ll get back to you and see if you know him. I’d love to hear what you think, but soon in the next couple of days, I’m going to know and I’ll be back and let you all know what I came up with. If you enjoyed this episode, please make sure that you leave us a review on whatever platform you are using. If you’ve not yet discovered your why, you can do so at and use the code PODCAST50. Please go to whatever platform you are using and subscribe. Leave us a review because it’ll help bring this to more and more people. Thanks for reading. I’ll see you next week.


Important Links


About Travis Brown

BYW 35 | WHY Of ContributeTravis Brown is the CEO of Mojo Up Marketing + Media. Mojo Up is an MBE certified, black-owned and minority-operated, full service, brand marketing agency that is made up of a diverse and talented team of marketing professionals and creatives. Our focus is to tell the story, shape the brand, and guide the marketing future of our clients as the make their greatest impact by using their greatest asset – their own authenticity.



Coach Elevation And The WHY Of Better Way With Mitch Russo

BYW S4 34 | Coach Elevation


Do you want to take your coaching program to the next level? Mitch Russo joins us again with his latest book, Coach Elevation: The Step-by-Step Guide to Elevating Coaching Sessions To Improve Results, Elevate Your Brand and Create Prosperity. Mitch is responsible for the SaaS platform, designed to manage your entire coaching company as a single or group of coaches. In this episode, he chats with Dr. Gary Sanchez about how you can use these tools to elevate and improve your program. Beyond that, the two also discuss Mitch’s WHY of Better Way and the importance of understanding your purpose before pursuing any venture. Tune in for more meaningful lessons and practical insights.

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Coach Elevation And The WHY Of Better Way With Mitch Russo

In this episode, we’re going to be talking about the why in a better way, to find a better way in sharing. If this is your WHY, 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. 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 always taking ideas or systems from one industry or discipline and applying them to another with the ultimate goal of improving something. In this episode, I’ve got a great guess for you. I’ve had Mitch on before and the last time we talked, he was in the process of making some cool software and writing a book and so I thought it would be perfect for our audience. Here is Mitch’s bio.

Mitch Russo started a software company in his garage, sold it for eight figures, then went on to build a company to over $25 million with Tony Robbins and Chet Holmes, nominated twice for Inc Magazine, Entrepreneur of the Year. Mitch’s book, Power Tribes: How Certification Can Explode Your Business, helps readers create new business divisions using high-performance certification programs. His software for coaches,, fills a void in the coaching software marketplace by helping coaches make their clients more productive with goal tracking and accountability. Mitch’s newest book, Coach Elevation, blueprints his process for helping clients find their true purpose and connect that to their true mission, which accelerates progress in both business and life. Mitch, welcome back to the show.

Thank you, Gary. It’s great to be back. I love continued conversations.

The last time we left off, you’d already done a whole heck of a lot of stuff, and we could go on and on about your bio, which we did last time. Since then, you’ve now launched a software program. You’ve written another book. Dive in. Which one would you like to talk about first?

I’ll talk about the origin and why I decided to create this software product. What was happening is after my Power Tribes book came out in 2018, my life got very busy. I started building a lot of certification programs. People read the book. They got excited about building their own and I started creating more programs for people, which is always fun to do. What started to also happen is that my coaching business started to grow. What I found is that it was time for me to put my big boy pants on and buy some software that manages a coaching business.

I basically went around and I did surveys to see what products were out there. I tried five different products, each with big promises. I found them to be woefully inadequate for my needs. I’m sure they’re good products in every other way but for my needs, which was basically easy to learn, easy to use, low cost but still very powerful around goal setting and accountability tracking. A lot of my success with my clients comes from holding them accountable.

Instead of saying, “Accountability could be easy. Let’s ask them how they’re doing.” That’s not accountability. We get very granular. In fact, we set numeric goals with every client, usually up to six. We track those goals sometimes every day. We put them into a dashboard and then we create graphs and chart to show people the progress they’re making. In fact, this became so popular that we extended the software and created a portal for our clients to log in, enter their own data and see their own graphics and charts so they could see what was going on all at once.

I started this project in 2019. It came to life with its very first version in 2021. Since then, it’s had two major revisions. In the last revision, I started to realize that I was using a process. Almost unconsciously, I’ve been using the same process for the last five or six years. I’ve refined it since I discovered the WHY Discovery. The WHY Discovery, for me, was the missing component to make this whole thing work.

It started to become such a big part of what I did with the client that I decided to explain everything in a book. I wrote a new book. It’s called Coach Elevation. The book itself is a blueprint about how to successfully run a coaching session with the purpose of discovering a client’s true purpose, connecting that through their WHY Discovery to their true mission. Now, what does this do? What this does is it changes the nature of the engagement.

BYW S4 34 | Coach Elevation
Coach Elevation: The Step-by-Step Guide to Elevating Coaching Sessions To Improve Results, Elevate Your Brand and Create Prosperity


Number one, it emotionally opens a person very quickly. I did the first session with a new certification client. She broke into tears 25-30 minutes into the session because, for the first time, she felt what her true mission was. Later, as we took this a little bit further and she told me what her why was because I had her take the discovery before. Now all of a sudden, it was very clear what her entire business was dedicated to doing. Before that, it was an enterprise. Now it is a life mission. It changes everything. She’ll move faster, work harder, be more successful and be more motivated to finally get that done. That’s what I’ve been up to, Gary.

Let’s go back for a minute. When you say your coaching business took off, who do you coach? Who’s your ideal coaching client? What clients are you talking about?

With certification, I coach SaaS companies. I coach training companies and other coaching companies as well. The whole idea is they have intellectual property that they are able to create a transformation in others. The thing is that if you could show someone else how to create that same transformation, then in effect, what you’re doing is you’re creating a scalable license model that will allow somebody to take this information, teach it to others and help them get clients and hare in the upside or the revenue that comes from those clients. We certify them in that process.

What that means is that when I work with the certification client, what I’m doing is I start with the process I described earlier, which makes everything go much easier. At that point, we’re building a business plan around the idea that we’re going to have a certified coach or a certified consultant network. From there, we build out the marketing system for that, then the sales system for that. We start to create the infrastructure on how we bring through students, if you will, into the system, into the pilot. We call it a pilot, the very first one.

We train them and we get them to be successful. We work with them one on one. We even engage with them while they’re working with clients to make sure that that first batch of graduates has business success and rapidly. The reason we do that is because what we want to do is we want to take those testimonials and we want to bring the next group through. That’s how we do it. It’s the early adopter rule. The tip of the triangle, tip of the pyramid. The early adopters go first and then once they get results and those results can be shown to others, now everybody wants to do it. That’s the theory behind the way we do this.

Your ideal client will be a coach or coach organization that has a process that they want to help other coaches use to better serve their clients.

Right, but there’s a wrinkle here. The wrinkle is what we want to do is we want to create a recurring revenue model on several levels. Before, you could buy coach certification from one of many very smart famous coaches and you’ll pay anywhere from $5,000 to $18,000 for that certification. What you generally get is a beautiful 8×10 certificate that’s suitable for framing right behind you on your Zoom window but generates no money.

Here’s what we know about coaches. We know coaches love to coach. They’re smart people, empathetic people, but they’re lousy salespeople. They’re sometimes not very good at marketing themselves. They may be good at helping others market, but they’re not very good at marketing themselves. We take over. When I say we, I mean the company that I’m consulting with. We build a marketing and selling system for the people that they certify. Now, what does that do? Number one, it puts enough revenue in their pocket, so we’re usually delivering between a 6X and 12X ROI on what they paid for certification year after year. That’s one stream of recurring revenue.

We know coaches love to coach. They're smart people, they're empathetic people, but they're lousy sales people. Click To Tweet

How do you build a marketing and selling system? What does that look like? Give us an example of something what that would be like.

Let’s take the average company and we’ll use your company, for example. Let’s say that you have a database of email addresses and names. Let’s say a percentage of those people are actual customers who paid you money. I’m going to guess it’s somewhere hovering between 5% and 8% of your database has paid you money, which means somewhere between 95% and 92% of those folks have not paid you money. Nonetheless, they seem to be resistive to all your charms and all your wonderful emails and all your videos.

What do we have? We have people who know you, who probably like you and even trust you but they still haven’t made a decision to work with you. Now what we do is we train people to do what you do, to duplicate your transformation, the ability that you have to transform another human being or particularly a corporation in this case. Once we teach them how to do that, we then build a business model that says, “We’re going to share our prospects with you. We’re going to put that inside of a CRM system and we’re going to give you access to that CRM system. In fact, we’re even going to create all the emails for you. All you got to do is sit down every morning and basically run the system with the new leads that you received.”

If you do this, then the system will start to make offers to the prospects, but a better offer than before. Here’s what the better offer looks like. Bob, you probably remember when Gary offered you the WHY Discovery and you loved it. You thought it was great, but for some reason, you didn’t pull the trigger. I am a WHY Discovery coach. My job is to make sure that when you take your WHY Discovery, I work with you one-on-one for free to see and make sure that you implement this into your life and get everything that we intended when we created this amazing tool.

If you like, we can offer you a small discount or we could set you up with a free call after you take the discovery. We could explore how this can benefit you, build your business, and grow your relationships in ways you never thought possible. That’s better than the offer you made over the past several years. Why? It’s because a live coach is willing to do this for free. Why would the coach be willing to do that for free? I think it’s an obvious answer. They’re looking to build relationships. They want to start working with people they haven’t worked with before so that they can help them in their lives.

Our statistics show that about 25% of the people who get a free or a few free coaching sessions will then go on to buy coaching because they found it to be so valuable that they don’t want to give up their coach. If that coach has any form of a personality at all and has a lot more to offer than what was offered for free, there’s a good chance that business relationships can go on for many years. It can involve the base company too. Meaning they can involve you are the WHY Institute and why? There are so many other things WHY Institute offers.

That coach can also have those as part of what they offer so they can get a commission. That’s another recurring revenue stream on whatever they sell their coaching client. They can earn money on the coaching itself and they can even share that money with the company because the company gets to set this up. The third thing is that in 2023, we bring them into a big room called the Symposium and we do a three-day rah-rah event and we reveal some new tools and get them all excited.

When they go out for the next 90 days, you’re going to see a huge bump in revenue coming from new sales and they pay for that as well. All of these recurring revenue streams start to stack up. By the end of the third year, you’re typically dealing with several million dollars of profits from a certification program if it’s done right and if it’s done with the proper scale. That is what my book is about. That is what I consult on.

That is why I needed software to help me make sure that when somebody engages with me. I’ll be honest, Gary, it’s not cheap. When someone engages with me, I have to make sure that they get the ROI on what they paid me. The only way I can do that is if I hold them accountable. I don’t mean casual accountability. As I said earlier, I want numeric accountability. I want to know how many prospects came in this week. I want to know what they did specifically to cause that and can we duplicate that next week? That’s what my goal is. That’s the software I could not find. That’s why I had to build it.

You went out, tried out five or so different other software looking for what you needed to be able to get that accountability. It didn’t exist, said, “I’m going to make my own something that I would do as I’ve done myself. It’s a better way thing.” For those people that are reading that are trying to do something similar. How the heck did you go do it yourself? What was that like for you?

For me, it’s something I always do. Gary, you’re the same way. I start things all the time and I get excited about things. My challenge sometimes is staying focused long enough to see it through to fruition. When I started this project, it was back in 2019 and I had a serviceable beta about a year later. At that point, I showed it to some people. I gave away a few seats for them to try. The enthusiasm was so dramatic that I was motivated to keep going.

I started by building a great team. That was step one for me. I needed a great team in order to create the product. I already knew the right people and I was able to put this team together. I put this team together for the long haul. This wasn’t like a contract job you pick up on or something. This was a real team that I knew I would be able to stay with or they would be able to stay with me over the long run and bring this product to fruition and so far, we’re our third year together. We’re doing great.

The team is incredibly brilliant. Part of what I offer is I want them to participate. I build participation and for them as well. What that does is it energizes them to want to do better. My job at this point is to use my network organically to market the product first while improving it. It took months to get it to the point where it is now. As it improves, as it gets better, I use my organic network to do that. We’re about to launch a fairly sizable paid ad program because now I think we have traction at this point. It’s time to start taking advantage of that. You don’t want to let that slip away when you hit that inflection point.

Tell everybody again the name of the software and what it does differently than everybody else.

The name of the product is called I was trying to be cool like the cool kids. I said, “That’s why I picked the IO extension.” You could also go to if you forget the IO thing. There are two URLs. Either one works and takes you to the same place. When I looked at all the other products, what I discovered is I started by watching hours of training videos.

I don’t think of myself as having a super long attention span doing things I don’t like. I have a good attention span doing things I love, but when it comes to things I don’t like, not so much. I was sitting there trying to s slug through these videos and I couldn’t handle it. I hated it. Here I am trying to figure this out and I finally power up the software after studying videos for two or three days. I load my client list.

The first thing it did, which was super embarrassing and difficult for me, was it started sending emails to my clients without me authorizing that. Immediately, I completely shut the thing down. I said, “This got to go. I can’t deal with this.” I tried another one. The other one I tried was what I would call a kitchen sink product. It had every possible imaginable component that someday you ever might want. It was like $395 a month to use, which I thought was outrageous. Even though I could afford it, that’s not the problem. I also now realize that I’m going to have to learn all of this stuff that I probably won’t need or want. I put that one aside.

I tried one of these other very low-cost ones that were even cheaper than what we were offering our product for. We only sell it for $29.97 per month. I found products that were cheaper than that. When I powered them up and started to use them, what I noticed was that they were what I would call lead magnets. You would start using it and as soon as you got the three clients, it would want to hit you up another $30 or $40 a month. When you got the seven clients, it wanted another $20 or $30 a month. I realized from the beginning that we needed to create a model that was unlimited clients.

Anybody who signs up for $29.97 a month, if they’re a coach, they get unlimited clients. We don’t work along those lines. We have optional added functionality that costs extra if you need it. If you don’t need it, you don’t pay for it. The bottom line is you don’t need it if you’re a coach. If you’re coaching clients one on one, then everything you need is right there. What we believe is the distinctive and discerning factor is the fact that it’s easy to use.

BYW S4 34 | Coach Elevation
Coach Elevation: If you’re a coach, if you’re coaching clients one on one, then everything you need is right on


It takes about 20 to 30 minutes to learn the system, number one. Number two, once you start using it, it contains everything. All of your homework information is in there. All your notes and your Zoom links are there. All of your Q&A with clients is there. The client portal, which is an extension of the software, allows your clients to log in and get their own homework.

Answer their own accountability questions, fill in their goals and stats and even ask their coach questions, which I found to be powerful. Why? It’s because otherwise, it would go through email. If I wait for the weekend, I’m coming home to 300 or 400 emails and might lose an important question from a client. I don’t want that to happen. We built an internal communication system right into the software that has worked well for my clients.

The ultimate goal here is to have an amazing client interaction and experience accountability. Keep it all in one place so that you, as the coach because there are a lot of coaches that read this. The coach can perform at the highest level.

Yes, we’re elevating the session. We’re taking what used to be sometimes a relatively scrappy session. Even though the coach might be amazing, they have a notepad open here. They have a spreadsheet open there. If they use spreadsheets, they have another browser open for something else or maybe they’re trying to figure out how to get their next appointment from another browser window. Who knows? Another popup of sorts.

What we tried to do is we tried to put everything into one browser window so that the coach can focus only on their client during their session and take casual notes while they’re talking. At the same time, as soon as the session is over, they get to touch up those notes. Maybe make them more attractive with underlying and numbering and bullet points. Whatever they want. When they’re done, they click send homework now, save the session and they’re done until the next week or the next time they meet with that client.

Sounds like a better way.

I think you’re right.

If you’re reading and you know that Mitch’s why is to find a better way, then you know what he’s come up with has to be better. If something’s not better, Mitch, can you talk about it?

I sure can.

If someone wants you to sell a product for them and it’s not better than what’s already there. Are you able to talk about it? Do you want to sell something like that?

I don’t. It doesn’t interest me at all. That’s part of what I went through when I was doing my own exploration into trying to find a coaching tool for my own business. I couldn’t stand using inferior products, no matter how much they cost. Even if it was free, I couldn’t deal with it because I knew it was not good enough. As you said in the intro, I needed at least good enough and I wanted better.

It’s not that you set out to say, “I’ve got to make some software. I’ve got to go spend the next three years figuring out how to do this.” That probably was not high on your list, but when you can’t find it and know you can make it better, it’s almost like you’re compelled to do that.

Yes. Now, this might be a form of mental illness, Gary. I admit to that, but yet, here I am. I get obsessed with stuff once I realize I’m on the right path and I see it working. That’s what I saw with this very early framework of a first edition. I saw it working. I immediately noticed I was saving about sixteen minutes per session. I’m doing two or three sessions per day, four days a week and I’m doing admin during what I would call my peak cognitive period of the day. If I’m sitting here doing $10 an hour work during $1,000 an hour time, I know I’m getting an ROI right away, even if no one else ever wanted to use my product. I know I was getting an ROI.

What was the motivation to write the book?

What started to happen years ago, I stumbled across this process. In the middle of one session, in particular, I started asking a series of questions that appeared to change the person’s viewpoint very quickly. It appeared to get them past the casual nonsense and go right to the heart of the matter that we were trying to figure out or discuss. I made a note of those questions. This next session I had, I said, “What the heck? I might pull those questions out and try it again,” and then I did.

What I noticed is that I had more or less the same result. What I noticed is that was a huge improvement in the ability to cut through the wasted time and non-essential information and get right to the heart of the matter. This started to happen more until I started to refine the process over time. A few years ago when we worked together and you uncovered my WHY for me in a van on the way to a hotel room or to somebody’s house. It was like a mule kick in the head for me. It was such a major shift in the way I now saw things.

I started to use the process even before you had your wide discovery itself. I started to use the process to help people identify where they were in terms of their why. Now what I was able to do was, once I understood or at least zeroed in. Maybe if it wasn’t exact, I could figure out a little bit better who they are, given their WHY. I was then able to couple that with the true purpose discovery process that I had built.

Now, at this point, we were then going to look at the business completely differently. Instead of this business being a way to make money, we now saw the business as a way to fulfill a lifelong true purpose and mission. This changes everything. On either end of the stick, sometimes, Gary, we throw the business away and start over. Other times we go into the business that it’s not ideal and we change the attitudes around what we’re doing. Maybe some of the functional activities of what we’re doing and that aligns it with our true purpose.

Once you do this, it makes everything smoother, faster and I would say, more profitable. Everything works better once people are aligned. When I worked with one organization, I did this with the CEO. He said, “You got to do this now with my team.” We did each one of them separately. They all did the WHY Discovery. They all got their results then when we aligned the group, it was hard to believe the results would happen.

It took a couple of weeks to get everything done. Once the group was aligned, there was harmony. There were no more fights, no more disagreements. Everybody realized what the goals were and the true purpose was of the entire company. Now, as you and I have talked about before, a company needs a code of ethics. It needs culture. In order to create that culture, we must basically know the why and the how of the CEO.

A company needs a code of ethics. It needs a culture. In order to create that culture, we must basically know the why and the how of the CEO. Click To Tweet

We need to know the CEO because the CEO started the company. Let’s call that person the founder. If we know what the CEO’s mission and values, goals and why are, that’s when we can align the team to that. Once that alignment is done, now everything works like a well-oiled machine and allows us to get a lot more done.

How do you contrast why versus purpose?

I’m going to tell you the secret that is not a secret at all. It’s right in the book. Everybody’s true purpose is basically the same. The true purpose of most individuals is to help others. Now there may be people who say, “That’s not my purpose.” If we did the discovery process, you’d find that it is. The reason I say that is because it’s the way we’re built. It’s the human structure. The way the human mind is created is that it generates the highest level of serotonin from helping other people.

When we help others, the greatest high you could ever achieve comes from that feeling. At the highest levels of helping others, there is no better feeling. Money cannot buy a better feeling than that. If we know that in advance, what good is it? It’s no good at all. Do you know why? It’s because we didn’t emotionally connect with it. The goal of the book and the goal of the process is to connect you to this true purpose, which is to help others.

I don’t tell people in advance when I start working with them. By the way, before we get started, let me tell you a true purpose. It’s more important that they go through this process of finding it in themselves. Once they find it in themselves and they go, “Yes.” As I said, this woman broke down in tears. She’s a lifelong entrepreneur. She’s had four businesses. The reason that she became so emotional was because this was the first time. She says, “I’ve done this for 4,000 people. I’ve never done it on myself or something like it.”

She had a different process, but the whole point was that, now that she finally gets this, it truly connected who she was as having a true purpose to her mission. Which, in her case, was to help others through her. I would call her mechanism. Everybody has a mechanism for how they do this. We may have the same true purpose, but we don’t have the same mechanism. You do it your way, I do it my way, but the goal is the same.

BYW S4 34 | Coach Elevation
Coach Elevation: We may have the same true purpose, but we don’t have the same mechanism. You do it your way, I do it my way. But the goal is the same.


When you were to compare why versus purpose, how do you see them as being different?

Why is the component of how you get the realization of your true purpose. Whereas your true purpose is something that you must emotionally connect to first. Feel that it is real and is real to you, as real as anything else and then we use the WHY Discovery to uncover the most powerful mechanism and process that you could have to find the true mission of yourself or your company.

I love it. In your book, you outline the process for helping coaches become more successful. It’s more about coaches, hosting or working with clients. Is that more what it’s about?

It is. The book is written for coaches to work with their clients. No matter what type of clients they have, whether they’re meditation clients, business clients, it doesn’t matter. If you go through the process in the book and align your client before you start using your mechanism with them to get them to have the realization or transformation that you want them to have. They will get there faster, it will be more powerful and they will be more successful because they’re aligned, but they can’t get there truthfully.

This was the missing piece. As I said, the missing piece was the WHY Discovery. Once I got the WHY Discovery and I embedded that into this process. Now finding A, the personal mechanism every person is what their why is. That’s what my mechanism is to find a better way. It’s languaged a little differently, but without it, I can’t get to their true mission effectively.

It shortcuts everything, doesn’t it?

It does.

What’s the fun part?

What it comes down to is this, when you have an emotional experience. You connect it to something that you care deeply about, then that is something you never forget like the woman that I worked with and all the people I’ve done this with over the years. They will never forget the moment when they uncovered what their true purpose was to them and to who they were. That’s the part that makes all the difference in the world. As I said, I could tell you, “Your true purpose is you like to help people. That’s your true purpose.” It doesn’t do anything. You got to discover it.

When you have an emotional experience and you connect it to something that you care deeply about, then that is something you never forget. Click To Tweet

Is true purpose different than purpose? Here are the reasons I’m asking you because, on the show, I’ve had some guests that their lifelong study is purpose. They have companies like PurposePoint and different organizations like that. When I ask them the same question I asked you, the answer that they give is interesting, which is similar but different. Maybe it is the same. I’m not quite sure but what they’ll say is that your purpose is where you live your WHY, how you choose the action that you choose to use your why to deliver.

They’re right, except the difference is that your action changes. Under that definition, my purpose can change every few years. “My purpose is to build and sell a software company for $10 million. My purpose is to build a company with Tony Robbins and sell it for $25 million.” In other words, I can have purposes all throughout my life, but the true underlying purpose is the same from the beginning of time to the end.

BYW S4 34 | Coach Elevation
Coach Elevation: You can have purposes all throughout your life, but the underlying true purpose is the same from the beginning of time to the end.


Perfect. That’s the distinction I wanted to make because that’s what they would say as well, which is, “You have multiple purposes. You have a purpose as a parent. Purpose as a business owner.” There’s more than one purpose, but then you are talking about your true purpose, which is overarching. Everything falls under this.

As I said, and not to repeat myself over and over again but knowing someone telling you, “Everybody’s true purpose is the same. It’s to help others,” means nothing. It doesn’t help at all. It has no meaning to most people because most people will say, “That’s not my true purpose. I know that I,” but if I took them through this process, which only takes 20 to 30 minutes to do and they connect with it, it changes everything.

It’s to be a self-discovery, say, “That is it.”

That’s right. I don’t lead them to it. Sometimes, I’m sitting there like, “You’re so close. If I give you two words, you’ll get there.” I never led them to it because that would be stealing the power of the process from them.

I love that. Mitch, if there are people that are reading now and want to learn more about what you’re doing, follow what you’re doing and connect with you, what’s the best way for them to do that?

To connect with me directly, they can go to All of my properties, if you will, are on that particular page. If they’d like the book, Gary, is it okay if I give your audience the book for free?

Yes. That would be great.

They can go to and get a free copy of this book. They could download a PDF of the book or they can go on Amazon. They could get it on their Kindle or if they want a hard copy like I have, they can buy it on Amazon as well.

That book is specifically for coaches that are looking for a process to help move their clients forward faster.

They use this process and it will help transform their entire business. Here’s why and this is what I teach in my program. Once you help somebody at a higher level, then what’s going to happen is your results will improve. If your results improve, you’re going to get better, stronger, more emotional testimonials. If you’re getting better, stronger emotional testimonials like you’ve never had before, you’re going to raise your prices. Once you raise your prices, you’re going to start attracting a higher-level client who’s going to pay you what you’re worth for the work that you’re doing. That’s what the book is about. It’s that entire sequence of processes that gets someone to that point.

Mitch, what’s next for you? Building the software company, is that the biggest thing on the horizon for you now?

By popular request, I’ve started a coaching cohort to take people through the process and help elevate them. My coaching cohort is starting up. It’s relatively low cost. It’s designed. It’s a short program. It’s an eight-week program. I’m going to take coaches and I’m going to elevate them. I’m going to get them to the point where they can duplicate what I do throughout my process.

Now, what I described is the first hour, a half hour or so, of my process. Honestly, it’s fantastic, but there’s so much more. What I teach in this cohort is I take them through the entire process, which you’ve seen some of with the mind mapping and with the structuring of the entire sequence of what happens after an engagement starts. That’s where the power of an organization is and that’s what I teach.

It’s funny. I’ll end it with this. I ran into somebody who knows Mitch, a mutual friend. The way that they described you cracked me up, which was, “Mitch and I had dinner one evening about something. We talked about this project that we wanted to create. That night, Mitch stayed up all night, designed it, built it, and had it ready the next day. If Mitch says he is going to do something, he’s going to do something.” That’s who you’ll get if you guys end up working with Mitch in some capacity. Mitch, thank you so much for being here. It’s great to catch up again. I’m going to follow what you’re doing. I’m excited for what you got in the horizon.

Thank you, Gary. It was a pleasure. As always, you and I have a long runway ahead of us as well, with so many great things that we can both do together.

Thanks, Mitch.

You got it. Thank you, Gary.


Important Links


About Mitch Russo

BYW S4 34 | Coach ElevationMitch Russo started a software company in his garage, sold it for 8 figures and then went on to build a company to over $25M with Tony Robbins and Chet Holmes. Nominated twice for Inc Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year.
Mitch’s book: Power Tribes – How Certification Can Explode Your Business helps readers create new business divisions using high performance certification programs.
His software for coaches; fills a void in the coaching software marketplace by helping coaches make their clients more productive with goal tracking and accountability. Mitch’s newest book: Coach Elevation blueprints his process for helping clients find their true purpose and connect that to their true mission which accelerates progress in both business and life.


The WHY Of Contribute: Awakening The Greatness Within With Ken Sterling

BYW 33 | Greatness Within


Do you often find yourself constantly pursuing a greater purpose and wanting to be a part of something bigger than yourself? When your WHY is to contribute, you love to support others and are often behind the scenes looking for ways to make the world better. Find out how you can hone in on your craft and be able to make the greatest possible contributions as Ken Sterling, BigSpeak’s Executive Vice President and Chief of Marketing, shares insights into how preparation and perfect practice can unlock the greatness within you!

Watch the episode here


Listen to the podcast here


The WHY Of Contribute: Awakening The Greatness Within With Ken Sterling

Welcome to the show, where we go beyond talking about your WHY and helping you discover and live your WHY. If you’re a regular reader, you know that we talk about one of the nine WHYs, then we bring on somebody with that WHY so you can see how their WHYs played out in their life. In this episode, we’re going to be talking about the WHY of Contribute. To contribute to a greater cause, add value and have an impact in the lives of others.

If this is your WHY, then you want to be part of a greater cause, something that is bigger than yourself. You don’t necessarily want to be the face of the cause, but you want to contribute to it in a meaningful way. You love to support others and you relish the success that contributes to the greater good of the team. You see group victories as personal victories. You are often behind the scenes, looking for ways to make the world better. You make a reliable and committed teammate and often act as the glue that holds everyone together. You use your time, money, energy, resources and connections to add value to other people and organizations.

I’ve got a great guest for you. His name is Ken Sterling. Ken is an Attorney and an Executive at BigSpeak Speakers Bureau. He is also an entrepreneur and angel investor in several tech startups. Ken mainly focuses on entertainment, media and well-known thought leaders. At BigSpeak, he serves as the Executive Vice President and Chief of Marketing.

Ken’s background includes working with KPMG as a technology and management consultant, cofounding a technology company, cloud computing, cofounding an international vertically integrated manufacturing company and working as executive vice president in a boutique asset management firm charged with operating real estate and hospitality assets. Ken most recently was responsible for managing a team and real estate portfolio exceeding $300 million.

Ken holds a PhD in leadership from the University of California, an MBA from Babson College and he earned his BA in Communication and Applied Psychology from the University of California. Ken is a lecturer of marketing and entrepreneurship with Technology Management Program at University of California. Ken, welcome to the show.

Gary, thanks for having me. That description you put out there, your system and what you talked about is me to a T.

We also added your how and your what. For those of you that are reading that are familiar with the WHY.os, Ken’s WHY, which we talked about, was to contribute to a greater cause. How he does that is by making things simple, easy to understand and doable. Ultimately, what he brings is a trusting relationship where people can count on him. How does that feel to you, Ken?

It feels amazing. It was interesting. Taking the assessment, which I’m sure other folks feel the same way, it’s very challenging to pick sometimes between the two. Later on in the assessment, you almost feel like, “Didn’t I answer that question? Do I need to answer it the same way? Shall I answer it differently? Are they trying to trick me?” I know it goes counter to the trust thing but in general, nailed it.

It’s interesting because I’ve always known I was a contributor. I’ve always known that trust was big and I’ve always known that I do like to simplify things. I didn’t realize that was as much of my OS as it is. Now, it’s been a while since I took the assessment. By the way, thank you. It’s a wonderful tool. I’ve been reflecting on it a lot. I get in there under the hood and especially in working with my team. We had this very complex standard operating procedure, SOP checklist that we do for one of our very unique speakers.

What people think about you is none of your business. Click To Tweet

I remember saying to one of my colleagues, “We’ve got to make this easier for the team.” What I explained is, “We don’t need to do it for the team. We need to do it for us because the simpler we can make this, the more autonomous people can be, the less they’re going to come to us and ask for clarification.” Candidly, as much as it’s altruistic, I also believe that part of my OS on that is self-preservation.

If you make it simple, it’s easier to stay in that position or what do you mean by self-preservation?

In other words, preservation of my time. What I’m learning and as our hourglass starts to maybe go over the middle mark, as some folks here might be familiar with, I’m beginning to understand that the only thing I have for myself and what I have to offer to the world is to make the world a better place. That is a big part of my LS, as you and the assessment pointed out. What I have is time. The more I can help people make decisions on their own, the more I can help them do things and the more time I invest to simplify things now, which takes time. The better it is for the stakeholders that I’m involved with then ultimately, the better for me.

Ken, let’s go back in your life for a bit. Where did you grow up? What were you like in high school?

I grew up in New York and I came out here to California for high school. By the time I was wrapping up high school, we have the senior yearbook. They do the best dressed and the best looking and the most likely to succeed. Unbeknownst to me, until the yearbook came out, they created a new category for me and for one of my classmates. The category they came up with was most non-conformist. I remember being pretty chuffed that I made a category in the yearbook. Sometimes later, I reflect on that. I said, “Was that a compliment or not a compliment?”

As a kid and in high school, I was a connector. I spanned a lot of different groups of people back in those days. There were the surfers and the skaters, the loadies, the stoners, the jocks, the preppies and the mods and also the punk rockers. I had friends in every one of those areas. My closest and best friends were skaters and surfers. I was like Bill Clinton, there was the stoner era. I might’ve inhaled once or twice.

I picture you as everybody’s good friend. Everybody liked you. You were not a troublemaker so much. People enjoyed being around.

What was very interesting is that there was a certain type, maybe a certain clique and I think it was like the football guys. They didn’t like me. I didn’t steal their girlfriends or anything like that. I was very counter to their culture. I remember reflecting on that at the time and not feeling good about it. My Nana told me this, “You can make some of the people happy all the time, all of the people some of the time, but you’re never going to make all of the people happy all the time.” Years later, therapists say, “It’s none of your business what people think about you.” Now I’m resolved with that. In high school, it was slightly challenging. Not the end of the world.

Graduating from high school, you go off to college. Where did you go to undergrad?

BYW 33 | Greatness Within
Greatness Within: You can make some of the people happy all the time or all of the people some of the time, but you’re never going to make all of the people happy all the time.


I did not graduate high school. I was kicked out three weeks before graduation. I don’t know if it’s anything super scintillating. I got into it. I had moved out of my house when I was young. I was homeless for a while and I was working. I was also studying for two classes and dozed off. It was my fault, my accountability. A teacher called on me. We got into it because I pointed something out incorrect, which we know as adults and evolved humans, sometimes you are graceful and don’t put people on the spot in front of 32 other kids.

I got kicked out of high school, did not graduate, did not walk and much later, I went in and became an entrepreneur. The first real formal company in my late teens, my early twenties, I dug into that deeply and didn’t emerge into academia until much later in life. By that time, I go through a JC and moved up through there and focused. I took some time off work and got the transfer to the four-year university, got that degree, got an MBA then, why not wait? There’s more. I did the PhD and some other things.

How many years out of high school did you then go to college? How many years were you in? You started a business right at the end of high school, didn’t graduate, started working with that business and how many years later was it before you went back to school?

About twenty years. It was great because I remember my first day of being on campus and sitting in this classroom with a bunch of 18 and 19-year-olds. The classes that I was taking were all transfer classes. These were all students who wanted to go to four-year colleges and some good people. I’m the connector and I want to create community. I want to do all these things. It was great because I had this internal game that I was running on myself. I didn’t belong here. What’s this old guy doing here? I’m going to be at a wedding with a good friend whom I met at the JC.

He walked over to me after class and was like, “Are you doing okay?” I said, “Yes,” and he’s like, “Everything’s cool. I’m so glad you’re here.” This is a kid half my age who reached out. My son’s age, candidly. I thought that was great. It helped that re-entry experience because there’s no class, no orientation for old people going back to school. It was a great and wonderful experience there. I got involved in those other things. I got involved in some student groups and did my best not to dominate those or overpower them. Be a regular person like everybody else and have a great time.

What was the turning moment? What’s crossing my mind is you got a business. You’re doing okay. All of a sudden, something happened that said, “I got to go back to school.” What was that?

It was a couple of things. One of them is I had a child who was about ready to go to college. I had another child in high school. I realized that I was talking about the importance of higher education to the kids. The other thing is, there have been some successes and interesting things. There’s also been like in the movie where everything’s great and the party’s going and the record scratches. One of those records scratches for me is that in 2006, I was on the founding team of a bank.

If anyone’s launched a business or ever been in a regulated business, you might understand this. It was a very onerous process to get the bank opened. We started in 2006. By the time we got the doors open, it was 2008. For folks that were around 2008, 2009, the FDIC was closing banks down. I can’t remember the stats. I think they closed 1,000 banks down across the country during that period of the great recession.

I was one of those people. The regulators came to us. They never raided us. We didn’t have the vans pull up and take over the bank. They said to us, “The way things are gone, we think you’re going to need to close the bank down. Why don’t you liquidate your loans? Why don’t you return depositors?” That was what the regulators needed. As long as depositors got their money back, then they didn’t take a loss and it wasn’t a hit for them. We did all that and it was fine.

Every learner's experience is individual. Click To Tweet

I was cruising along and I randomly got a LinkedIn email from a former employee that I had laid off during Christmas of 2002 at our tech company. Not that I want anybody to watch my TED Talk, but I talk about this on my TED Talk of how to be present with your people and how to be in the room when you need to give them bad news and how to communicate.

This former colleague reached out to me and said, “It looks like from your LinkedIn you’re looking for work and I’m working at a company. I told my boss what a great boss you were and how compassionate you were when you laid.” This was dozens of people that we laid off on December 23rd to December 24th, which was rough.

She said, “I think you’d be great for this job. Do you have a resumé?” I sent over my resumé and I had some college experience. I was transparent. I never said I had degrees. I’ve never said those things. I had done some Executive Ed at Harvard. Long story short, dream job and I get the job. I was supposed to start on Monday.

I’m a nut. I wake up in the middle of the night and I checked my email at 3:30 in the morning on a Sunday. I got an email and it said, “Ken, we need to talk.” That was the subject. “Ken, I shared your resumé with one of our board members. He wants to know if you have a four-year college degree.” I replied back, “I don’t. I hope that my resumé wasn’t misleading.”

She said, “Based on the reference that you got, the references that I checked, based on the internal recommendation and based on the way you carried yourself, I presumed it. At my company, I have a policy that nobody, not even an intern, works here without a four-year college degree.” It was a very interesting moment for me because I felt shame. I felt anger. I felt confusion. I had lunch with the founder of BigSpeak, who’s been a very big mentor and a very important person in my life for years. I had lunch with him because he was one of the references that I gave to get the job.

He said, “How did it go?” I told him and I was still in that bitter mode but not like angry that I’m going to do anything. He said, “It’s the same thing at my company too.” What he said is that it’s a demonstration of your commitment to finish something and that sank in to me. I seriously finished that lunch and got in my car. I drove up to the JC. I found the counselor’s office and I sat down. She’s retired now, Christie. I said to her, “How fast can you get me into a four-year college?” That was that journey and that’s how and why I went back to school. I was grateful for it.

Many years later, I emailed the CEO of that company and I said, “I wanted to let you know congratulations, you’re doing well. I did go back to school and life worked out. This was a great impact.” Here I am at BigSpeak and my mentor, Jonathan, who’s very special to me, I thank him constantly. “It was great to go back to school.” It was great to go back to school as an adult who had been in business for many years.

A lot of that theory stuff, I think that some people learn, they’re like, “I don’t know why they are teaching this to me,” or they can’t apply it. I was doing the reverse of that, especially in my MBA program. We were building these complex financial projections that I had always wondered, “Why are those important or why does the bank need those or why do investors need those?” It crystallized for me. That was a long answer.

No, that’s interesting. You didn’t just stop with JC. You didn’t stop with a four-year degree. What other degrees have you got? In your bio, it said you’re a lawyer.

BYW 33 | Greatness Within
Greatness Within: Be interesting and intriguing when presenting. Use amazing, powerful photographs that really connect to the audience.



Tell us. What are the different degrees that you got and why so many?

I’m back in school now studying some more post-graduate, post-doc things. I love to learn. BigSpeak is a learning organization. That’s why we were founded. It’s what we do. Either through consulting or facilitation or amazing keynotes on stage. You know this because you’re a keynote speaker, Gary. We’re entertaining folks to keep them engaged. Except we’re not up there juggling balls or chainsaws and there are people who do that. You and other folks, and you especially when you’re helping people discover their why, their purpose, and how to go out there and make an impact, you’re giving people practical things and that is learning.

That’s somebody who didn’t know about your subject matter or they knew very little about it and then they sit in a seat either on Zoom or in a ballroom. An hour later, they’ve got some tools that you taught them. That’s a big part of what we do. For me, it’s being a participant in learning. At BigSpeak, this is our mission, not just a tagline. “Awakening greatness within.” A real part of that is learning and helping companies and people learn professionally and personally how to develop themselves, connect and collaborate more, and be community-wise. That’s a big part of our ethos.

You did JC, your college, then got your MBA?


Law school?

I did a little bit of law school in between and a little bit before then went back and did the PhD, which was interesting. By the way, it was education, leadership and organizations. That set me up. During that process was when I joined BigSpeak. I liked my journey. I’m not recommending it for lots of folks and including my own kids. I think every learner’s experience is individual in how they meet the learning atmosphere.

For me, when I landed at BigSpeak full-time, it was almost like one of those movies where everything comes together. The detective puts it all together. For me, being at BigSpeak is that moment. It’s the most fun that I have had. I say to folks, “We’re not selling servers. We’re not taking things away from people. We’re doing good things in the world.” When it comes to that education journey, everything scaffolded into what I bring to BigSpeak.

Practice does not make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect. Click To Tweet

For those people that don’t know, what is BigSpeak? If they went on the internet and searched for it, what is it?

BigSpeak is one of the larger speaking bureaus in the world. There are a couple of agencies that are larger than us. There are a couple of big bureaus on the East Coast that could maybe claim the largest in terms of head count. One of the things that we found through our data is we’re the largest business-focused speakers bureau out there. Meaning that we focus on business audiences. Whereas, some speaker’s bureaus might focus on colleges or associations or politicians, we mostly help businesses move the needle.

That doesn’t mean selling more widgets. Move the needle for their people. A lot of the work we do is internal work and then huge customer user conferences with celebrities and bands. A couple of years ago, we closed down four blocks of a city. We had Macklemore at a private concert, which was amazing. Some people say, “What does a speakers bureau do?” For example, you were a dentist. If you were ever at the ADA, American Dental Association, and there was a celebrity, an athlete or a thought leader that came on stage, similar to what you do now, there’s a good likelihood that that event hired a speakers bureau to find them and book that speaker who was up on stage.

We also do consulting. We do follow on workshops. There are also a couple of folks that we work with who have assessment tools similar to the tool that you have. We have a very boutique roster of exclusive speakers. For example, if you want a celebrity, we can get them for you. If you looked at our website, there are probably 3,200 speakers on there. We exclusively manage about 30 very handpicked, curated folks who I like to work with because I handle this part of our business.

They are folks that I’m at their weddings or I’m with them traveling or having fun or doing some things, having dinner. They are kind people who want to awaken greatness within. A couple of those people would be Marc Randolph, who started Netflix. Kevin O’Leary, who is on Shark Tank. Omar Johnson, who was number three at Beats. Tan Le from Emotiv Sciences. It’s a very unique roster. A couple of very cool new additions are coming out. Everyone, stay tuned for that.

If you’re hosting a big event and you want a celebrity, a big name, one of those guys, do they look you up? How does that work?

A big portion of our work is businesses. Thankfully, we take good care of those clients and they come back to us. A big portion is people that we’re in touch with that we know when their events are coming out and we’re collaborating. We do have a pretty formidable digital marketing presence. We do get a lot of inbound leads. We’ve been hacking on Google and social media for years. That’s another area that I handle and manage. That background of being in technology, of having the MBA, where I chose to focus on marketing and leadership, helped us there.

I also teach marketing at UC Santa Barbara, which is great. I would probably do it anyway. I keep those classes fresh. We do a lot of project-based work. We do a lot of group-based work where the students are working in groups together and they’re hacking on things too. It keeps me sharp. It keeps me learning. I’m a marketing and business junkie, so I’m always looking at stuff and we test all the time with things.

If I’m a speaker because there are a lot of speakers, coaches and thought leaders that read this, why would I want a speaker bureau?

BYW 33 | Greatness Within
Greatness Within: If you show up prepared, it’s going to give you confidence and the familiarity that will give you a competitive advantage over other people.


As a speaker, there are a couple of value propositions, to use a buzzword. What do we do for Gary? What’s in it for Gary kind of thing? I think the biggest thing is that we get you in front of the right audience. We vet opportunities. We help with your messaging and positioning. We’re a strategic partner. We look at the same data that you would have and sometimes from a different lens. We have dashboards.

“We’ve booked Gary X times this year. The average fee is this. The mode, meaning the most common fee, is this. Maybe it’s time for Gary to get a raise.” On the other side, “We’re not getting as much activity for Gary as a benchmark to others in his field or topic or as compared to maybe last financial period that we’re comparing it to. What happened?” We are being proactive.

The one thing that I’ll point out, you and I had met at that wonderful experience before with ImpactEleven and talked about this a bit with Josh Linkner and his team, is that it comes to sparking that demand or I call it the “Hey, Martha” moment. “Hey, Martha” is people sitting around the conference table or the breakfast table, reading The Wall Street Journal and they read about Gary and Gary’s new book. By the way, congratulations. I would love to hear more about your book.

It’s like, “Hey, Martha, who’s this Gary Sanchez? They’re talking about him in The Wall Street Journal.” When that “Hey, Martha” moment happens, most of that is candidly created by the speaker either by you having an amazing book or knocking it out of the park at another conference. If you have PR efforts, a lot of our speakers retained PR agencies and some things go viral. Another client who we’re very honored to work with is James Claire from Atomic Habits.

When we signed James in 2019, I think he was at about 2 million copies sold, then this horrible event happened called COVID. A lot of other things lined up for him and now he’s close to 10 million copies. If folks are numbers people and books people, that’s more copies than Malcolm Gladwell has sold of Outliers in years. James’ book has been out for a few years. Some things like that are meaningful and make a difference. For example, with James, as you can imagine, probably 20 to 30 leads come in a day. The idea of you managing 20 to 30 leads would be cumbersome for you. That’s some of the value that we bring. It’s simplifying things.

Plus, you are in the know in that world. You know what events are coming up. You’re aware of the different themes that they have. Do you folks keep databases on that stuff? How does that work?

We’re obsessive about it. Here’s what I will share. Barrett is our president and one of our partners. There’s Jonathan, Barrett and myself who are partners in the company. Barrett and I are obsessive about data. We’ve got tons of dashboards. We’ll also say it’s part science and part art, meaning that you can have all the data in the world and all the numbers in the world. As you’re probably also experiencing Gary and anyone else out there who’s an author or a speaker. there is some magic special sauce that happens.

I read Atomic Habits and it was transformational for me. That’s why I even reached out to James. Those moments are very rare. It’s this amazing alignment of the planets, forces, karma, and gods. Everything lines up. There are tons of authors and speakers out there who, on paper, have done the same things as Malcolm Gladwell or Brené Brown or Simon or those folks. Somehow, the liftoff doesn’t happen.

Looking at Shawn Achor, for example. His TED Talk, very last minute and they had a cancellation. They called him. I think he had eleven minutes to deliver that talk and tens of millions of views, high demand. It’s this virality that happens now. I remember when Sean and Brené and Simon and those folks came up, it wasn’t as much about social media. It was this viral thing that happened. By the way, also hats off to TED. In the earlier years, they were putting some of these folks on the board and in front of millions of viewers.

To be a speaker, an author, or a thought leader, you have to pick a lane. Click To Tweet

Can speaker bureaus help speakers get on TED as well?

Officially, no. Unofficially, I don’t mean that to sound like there’s anything nefarious going on. There’s the big TED and there are the TEDx events. They run autonomously. They’re run independently. They don’t technically give favor to speakers from speakers bureaus. There are times when a speakers bureau can fill out a submission form on behalf of a speaker and be transparent about it.

I’m not aware that there’s a point given or that there’s preference given to speakers who are represented by bureaus. This is purely a personal philosophy. If I was on the TED committee, I might be looking for new and fresh ideas so that maybe a speaker who’s represented with a speakers bureau might get a negative point. This is purely me thinking out loud.

You and I met in Florida. We were in the same room. There were only 40 or 50 of us, but we never crossed paths. That was so bizarre, but it was put on by a group. They changed their name. What did they change to?


It used to be 3 Ring Circus. These are 4 or 5 guys that teach the art and the business of speaking. What is it that you see that separates the great speakers from the good speakers from the okay speakers?

What I’ll say is there’s my opinion. What gets me excited, for example, and maybe some generalities that I believe hold to be true in the industry, part of it is the checkboxes and what looks good on paper. Some of it is that magic je ne sais quoi, the thing that we cannot explain or we don’t know how to say it. What I can share for me and when I’m working with an end-user client is booking a speaker, first and foremost, they want someone engaging.

I think of the ImpactEleven group, for example, and I think of who those people are. You sat next to Ryan Estis, for example, at that dinner. You know him. That guy gets up on stage and everyone’s glued to him. The way he moves, the way he talks, the way he pauses, the message that he has and what we learned at that conference that you and I went to is to get on your first stage and to do okay, you have to have 20 to 30 reps to do that.

I used to study martial arts. My sensei said, “Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.” If you do your 20 to 30 reps and you’re doing the same thing every time, you are probably not going to have this amazing outcome when you come onto that stage at that big event. It’s getting the feedback, learning, asking people, “What did you think? How could I make that better? Give me the unvarnished truth.”

BYW 33 | Greatness Within
Greatness Within: When you talk to prospective clients, know who they are and what they want to do. Ask good questions.


Sometimes, that’s asking friends, families or outsiders. People who level up and go to these types of experiences like ImpactEleven and are willing to invest in themselves and up their game candidly and learn how to talk, engage and synthesize what they’re doing, I believe that Josh’s group calls it the PCT. It’s what’s the problem, what’s your credibility and what’s the transformation that you offer your audience?

Holding that as a North Star is important. Be interesting. Don’t be up there talking at people. Try to do some interactive pieces. I don’t know if I can call her speaker. One of the performers that I love to book, her name is Jade Simmons and she’s fabulous. She’s got a Yamaha grand piano. She has some synthesizers. She puts some music in there, some spoken word, some rock modern to rap to these engaging presentations. I don’t want to call it a keynote about purpose. It resonates amazingly.

Not everybody can be a Jade. Holding that as, “That’s high engagement, high interaction. How can I make my presentation a little more interactive? How can I get the audience to lean in to me?” Some speakers will have people go on their phone and do a survey, which I don’t recommend because that gets people’s attention down here versus up there. That’s the sign of death for a speaker. If I’m in the back of the room in the last five rows, people are like this then I know the speaker lost them.

Be interesting. Be intriguing. Not a lot of data. Not a lot of graphs. Amazing, powerful photograph that connects to the audience and connects to the speaker. When you don’t have an image that’s meaningful, just have a blank screen because what we all do and we all tend to do this now in restaurants, there are TVs. We do this. You’re up there on the stage, pouring out your life story and talking about WHY.os. If you have these slides, especially this data or someone has to take out their phone and take a picture of it.

This is a great way to get people on your mailing list or get them in your database. What you can say a couple of times during your presentation is, “Folks, I want to let you know I have a PDF of this whole thing. I have a workbook. I’m going to send you a link. You don’t have to take any notes. You don’t have to take any pictures. Just enjoy it.” Maybe say that two times during the presentation will keep the folks engaged. They’ll trust that they don’t need to be on their phone. Here’s a thing that happens. Phones in the pocket. There’s something interesting. They want to take a picture. They do this. All of a sudden, a notification pops up and they get sucked into this technology loop and you lost them. Engagement is key.

I still compete, but I used to compete at a pretty high level. I missed when my time ended, if you will. I miss that feeling of preparing for a tournament, preparing for an event, preparing to go to battle, if you will. Speaking is so similar to that. That’s the closest thing I can think of that I’ve experienced to competing. You have to prepare.

You have to show up. No matter what, something goes wrong, I’ve never not had something go wrong and the show must go on. You don’t know what the reaction is going to be. You think you do, but you never know what’s going to happen. It’s super fun, I think, but it’s very much like competing. Have you ever heard anyone else talk about it in that way?

A hundred percent and preparation is key. I don’t want to be cliché. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. The preparation piece, here’s why it’s most important. I work with a lot of speakers. In the earlier days, there were probably two things that speakers needed to work on. One of them is method and one of them is a mindset. As most of us know when we get into high stakes things, you have to have the mindset clear to even be able to approach the method and become a master of what you’re doing.

One of the keys to mindset is preparation and here’s why. As you know, because you’d be getting ready for a tournament, when you show up that morning and you showed up the night before and you checked everything out and you knew exactly to go, you walked things through, when you show up that next morning, it’s not a shock to you.

The more you can simplify things, streamline them, and remove the static life, the better for you and the people around you. Click To Tweet

You’re comfortable. You’re in your zone and being in your zone is preparation. I believe that’s the only way folks are going to get on their zones. It’s if they show up prepared because it’s going to give you the confidence, the familiarity and it will give you a competitive advantage over other people. I don’t like to think of the speaking industry as competitive because it’s not like you’re in a running competition or a sports competition or an archery competition, for example.

You are competing silently. When a company or an event wants to hire a speaker, probably the average number of speakers that they cycle, that they look at, is probably 30 to 40. In a way, you are competing. For example, the founders of ImpactEleven and especially Seth and Ryan who are best friends, they compete with each other all the time without even knowing it because they both have great engaging presentations. There’s some similarity in terms of audiences for them.

I often joke because usually, the two of them are selected as the number 1 and number 2. I’ll say to the company or the event, “I wanted to let you know, they know each other well. They’re going to probably be talking about this the same way you are.” I think in terms of that preparation piece, getting in the reps, taking it seriously, doing your homework for your talk and knowing who that client is when you get on that call to talk to a prospective client. Know what they want to do. Ask good questions. This is counterintuitive because a lot of speakers love to talk and they get paid to talk.

Sometimes these speakers get on the phone and they talk. At the end of it, the client doesn’t feel like they’ve got their thing out, their need or their need state. As much as all you speakers out there love to speak, be sure that you listen. Be sure that you have a couple of good questions to ask during it, then pause and let the client tell you what they need.

I can keep you here all day asking questions, but I got two more questions for you. One’s a comment question. What I noticed when we were at the ImpactEleven event was that not all of the people there had done something spectacular or created something amazing, yet they were very successful speakers. Even the two you mentioned hadn’t done like they didn’t swim across Antarctica or the Atlantic or sled across Antarctica or anything. They were phenomenal speakers and practiced their art. If I’m reading this, do I have to have created something to save the world in order to be on a big stage?

My personal opinion is no. I’m oftentimes impressed, amazed and in awe of some of these folks out there who are creating a living out of speaking, who reinvented themselves, who picked a lane. I think this is important. To be a speaker, to be an author, to be a thought leader, pick a lane. Some of the folks are generalists. When it comes down to a high-end event or corporate client, they’re looking for that expertise and knowing that one subject matter with mastery.

I think that’s a big plus for people to consider as owning it. For example, you’ve got yours and you’ve dialed yours in beautifully with an assessment tool with a honed talk around that with books. Those are indicators to people who hire speakers that, “Gary’s an expert.” For other folks that are considering this or wanting to up their game, you don’t need to swim from Miami to Cuba or swim the English channel to do it. You don’t need to conquer Everest or be a professional skateboarder to do it.

There are lots of amazing speakers out there who have a wonderful story and have focused on that one lane that they’re good at and who are interesting. I can’t emphasize it enough. Be interesting, be creative, do things that are a little bit outside the box. Not crazy outside the box, but do things that are a little bit unique and counterintuitive that will surprise and delight audiences.

The last question is, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten or the best piece of advice you’ve ever given?

I was very fortunate, even young, before I had done the four-year university. It’s funny because, going back to simplify, one of my business ventures early on is that I had a business venture who also taught accounting at a local JC. He had done very well for himself and this was part of his giveback. I knew who he was and I had a connection through a family member. I signed up for his class. Almost every time we met as a class, he would say, “Keep it simple, stupid.”

I always had a problem with the word stupid. I rebranded it and I do this a lot even with our own team, “Keep it simple, smarty.” If I had to, for personal life, for work life, the more you can simplify things, the more you can streamline them, the more you can remove the static, life will be a lot better for you and the people around you.

Ken, thank you so much for being here. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation. I’m sure our audience has as well. You’ve done a lot of amazing things. I’m sure you’re going to do a whole lot more. I look forward to us working together.

Wonderful. Thank you, Gary.

Thank you so much for reading. I hope you enjoyed Ken Sterling from BigSpeak. We learned so much about the speaking industry from him. If you have not yet discovered your WHY or WHY.os, go to You can use the code PODCAST50 to get it at half price. If you love the show, please don’t forget to subscribe and leave us a review and rating on whatever platform you are using to read to us. Thank you so much.


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About Ken Sterling

BYW 33 | Greatness WithinKen is an attorney and an executive at BigSpeak speakers bureau. He is also an entrepreneur and angel investor in several tech startups.  Ken mainly focuses on entertainment, media and well known thought leaders.  At BigSpeak he serves as the Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing.

Ken’s background includes working with KPMG as a technology and management consultant, co-founding a technology company (cloud computing), co-founding an international, vertically integrated manufacturing company and working as Executive Vice President at a boutique asset management firm charged with operating real estate and hospitality assets. Ken most recently was responsible for managing a team and real estate portfolio exceeding $300 million.
Ken holds a Ph.D. in Leadership from the University of California, an M.B.A. from Babson College and he earned his B.A. in Communication and Applied Psychology from the University of California.  Ken is a lecturer of marketing and entrepreneurship with the Technology Management Program at University of California.


The WHY Of Trust: Building Successful Joint Venture Relationships With Charles Byrd

BYW 32 | WHY Of Trust


Trust means everything. You have seen that in the ways great relationships are based on trust, when individuals and businesses go to great lengths to demonstrate that they are trustworthy, and when things crumble from the lack of it. In this episode, Charles Byrd, the epitome of the WHY of Trust and the co-author of the best-selling book, Internet Marketing Secrets, shares his story and experiences about building relationships with trust. He talks about joint ventures and why the transference of trust makes it a qualifier to build partnerships in businesses. However, being a source of trust has its share of challenges. And Charles lays down the ways you can overcome them and use them to your advantage. Tune in to gain insights and arm yourself with this information, so you can make fully informed decisions about who you associate with.

Watch the episode here


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The WHY Of Trust: Building Successful Joint Venture Relationships With Charles Byrd

We go beyond talking about your why and helping you discover and live your why. If you’re a regular reader, you know that every episode, we talk about 1 of the 9 whys, and we bring on somebody with that why so you can see how their why is played out in their life. In this episode, we’re going to be talking about the Why of Trust, to create relationships based upon trust.

If this is your why, trust means everything to you. You believe that when relationships are based on trust, the sky is the limit. You will go to great lengths to demonstrate that you are trustworthy and do things such as become an expert in a given area so you can establish that you can be trusted. You look to do things correctly because that is what a trusted person would do.

People with your why often enjoy numbers because numbers don’t lie. If someone breaks your trust, it feels like a knife in the gut. You find it almost impossible to have a relationship with them after this loss of trust. Although you tend to have fewer friends, you build loyal and lasting relationships with those people you can trust.

I got a great guest for you. His name is Charles Byrd. There is an official bio and his incredible background in success in Silicon Valley, but that’s not as important. What you need to know about Charles is his proven record of helping others create super profitable joint venture partnerships or relationships. Not only is he one of the most connected people in the online space, he knows how to help you set up lucrative promotional deals that clients and students book hundreds of thousands of dollars of business.

He knows how to help you get qualified leads without you needing to do paid advertising or the need for complicated funnels. I am sure that’s music to your ears. If you want to grow your business, Charles is one to pay attention to. Charles’s work on relationships, joint ventures, and frictionless systems. He has been featured in Forbes, ABC News, SiriusXM, Funnel Magazine, and The Science of Success. His new book called Internet Marketing Secrets is an Amazon best seller. Charles, welcome to the show.

Gary, thanks so much for having me. It’s a pleasure.

I’ve been looking forward to this because we are working with you. I have gotten to learn some things about you as we have had our conversations, but the rest of our readers haven’t yet gotten to meet you. I want to make sure that that happens.

I appreciate the opportunity to do so. From the moment we met, and you explained what you do, I have been intrigued by this. As you shared my results of going through your why process and other people we’re working with, it’s been interesting. What you’re doing is cool, and I look forward to the insights we’ll both discover in our conversation here.

Charles, let’s go back to when you were younger. Where did you grow up? What were you like in high school?

When I was young, I lived in Canada up until the second grade. I have dual citizenship. My mom was Canadian, and my dad was from the US. Around the second grade, I moved to California, where, for the most part, been ever since, other than Stenton near London for a year. I went to high school in Southern California and some in Central California. I had some bodyboarding, beach time, and some time in the Central Valley, which was fun.

What were you like as a high school kid? Were you outgoing? Were you more reserved? Were you with a big group of friends or a small group of friends? Tell us a little bit about you.

It's empowering to come up with your own fun thing and then bring that to life and have a taste of what the next phase would be regarding entrepreneurship. Click To Tweet

I’m always very social. I’m always feeling a little step ahead, simply because I had an older brother and my peer group was two years older than my classmates. I was exposed to ideas, thoughts, and different things that felt a little ahead of the curve. I’m a class clown, but not in an annoying way, but in a fun way and pushing boundaries. I’m enjoying time with friends, family, adventures, riding skateboards, and things like that.

What do you mean by pushing boundaries?

I’m trying things probably before my peer group did and driving perhaps a little faster than most people might. It’s those boundaries. I’m being exploratory, figuring out life, not being afraid of experiences, and being a person who says yes to more things in life than not.

Were you into sports or more into the beach thing? Were you involved in your school or not so involved in the school?

I’m not super involved in school. I was probably a B student. My grades went up dramatically in my Master’s degree than they did in high school. I’m into writing, skateboarding, and music. I started playing the drums at a young age and later guitar, songwriting, and creative endeavors that, unlike sports, football, or things like that which required team activity. Most of mine were independent that you could do it on your own schedule.

You’re not as much of a team player but more of a fun, good friend and someone fun to have around.

Snowboarding, adventures, trips to the beach, and those kinds of adventures.

You graduated from school in Southern California. Where did you go to college?

I started at La Sierra University in Southern California. I was there for a year. My brother also went to that school. In my sophomore year, I went to England and went to school there, which was a phenomenal experience. Most of the students were American. There was a lot of bonding. You’re way closer to people in that environment because they didn’t have their families and networks. There are a lot of tight connections there. I’m the social life of a party person. On Tuesday, you’re studying Art History books in class, and Thursday, you’re standing in front of the art in London and traveling Europe on breaks. It’s a good way to expand the mind and continue that sense of adventure.

What were you majoring in?

Business Information Systems, which is after I finished school in Northern California, which I liked quite a bit more than Southern and stayed up here. I have a Business degree in Information Systems. A little later, after I was in my corporate career, I also got a Master’s degree in Information Technology again.

BYW 32 | WHY Of Trust
Internet Marketing Secrets: World’s Top Internet Entrepreneurs Spill the Secrets to Their Success

Tell us about your business or career path after college. Where did you start working? What did you get into?

I was raised with the mindset of, “Work hard, go to school, get a job.” The concept of entrepreneurship never came up. Even though I got a Business degree, you hardly even heard about it in the programs at all. It was, “Go to school, get a job.” That’s pretty much what I did. I got a job for a big software company in Silicon Valley. I worked for a billion-dollar software company for several years. I started on the help desk doing tech support and so forth. I’ll caveat that throughout college, I was a server in restaurants and also played in a band for several years, doing 75 shows a year around the Bay Area.

Certainly, the restaurant type of role is a customer service role, so you learn to take care of people. In the band context, booking gigs is reaching out to people, connecting, and lining up deals and bookings. Some of that fed into what we’ll be talking about a little later. I worked at a help desk for several years. I ascended the ranks there into higher levels of support. I started running large projects across a 6,000-person enterprise.

I founded the Project Management Institute. I trained twelve different project managers. I guided them all to get PMP certified. That’s Project Management Institute. I also got Cisco CCNA Certified. I ended up creating my own department, the Social Media and Collaboration Department, but I’m still in IT, which is not the best place for creative and social people. IT does not scream either one of those things.

Working to keep my life interesting there, I created something called IT TV. I would do interviews like CNET. I don’t know if you’ve ever followed things on CNET, but I made my own show like that. I started creating creative commercials, advertising the projects I was rolling out across the enterprise. I would choose the technology, create the international teams of 30 to 50 people, roll out the technology over sometimes 8 months, 1 year, or 2 years, and market and train internally within the company.

I started creating fun, punchy videos, and all the other departments wanted me to make them for them. I felt like I had that creative outlet. It was empowering to come up with your own fun thing and bring that to life. I always had a taste for what the next phase would be regarding entrepreneurship, but it’s a little too comfy in the corporate world to make that jump out of the gate there.

Is IT TV a TV station within the company?


It’s how to connect with everybody, bring information to everybody, and excite people, that type of thing.

I would do interviews with people that were rolling out new technology, adopting a new strategy, or different kinds of updates like that. I rolled out Webex across the 6,000-person enterprise. I made a quite amusing commercial with my kids and nephew at the time, who were little kids. They’re having a whole conversation about Webex, and it was a huge hit. That’s blending the creative side but also the process, execution, and management side of things.

You have been there for several years. All of a sudden, you decide, “I’m done with this.” How did you transition to the next space?

If there's an impact you want to make, if there's a quality of life you want for your family, now is the time to do it. Click To Tweet

There were two elements involved. I talked about creating a business for a while. I even formed teams of friends and other people to create a company. We researched products. I was creating a company where we have gear that would film snowboarders going through a park and automate, giving them a video back at the end of their day. When you’re trying to fit stuff in on weekends or little holidays, you can’t get enough traction at it.

A motivating thing was the following. My mom was an OB nurse. She ran a hospital in Central California and also taught nursing school students. I got a call from her one day. She had that serious tone in her voice. I was like, “Maybe one of the kids she adopted from Sierra Leone was having trouble in school.” It wasn’t that. She had been in a minor car accident the day before. She thought she was pressing the brake but wasn’t and hit the car in front of her.

On that day, she was reaching for a fork and physically kept missing it by six inches. They took her to the hospital and found she had two stage-4 brain tumors. I could barely walk into the house to tell the family that. I piled into the car, went to be with her, and went into brain surgery that night. Effectively, I stayed at her place for the next year, taking care of her. My mom lived one year to the day from when I got that call. It crystallized that life is short. If there’s something you want to go after, if there’s an impact you want to make, if there’s a quality of life you want for your family, now is the time to do it. That fueled being a lot more confident in making decisions that, in the past, would have frightened me off.

My daughter wrote on this whiteboard here. It says, “One more day is one person. I’ll start in one more day. We’ll do this tomorrow.” The other person says, “This is day one. We’re starting now.” It lit that fire. There’s a massive difference on those two things. “I’m going to start my diet next month. I’m starting my diet now.” There will be a vast difference between those two people’s outcomes.

That lit a fire under me. I decided to create my own company. I left my corporate job and chose the entrepreneur path. I have this piece of wood made that says, “I can. I will. End of story.” Meaning I’m committing to this no matter what. I’m burning the boats. I don’t care what anyone tells me. My dad was like, “Go get another corporate job.” I’m like, “No.” He was always super supportive, but that was the path he was hoping I would take.

That event and commitment to trying something new and figuring it out are mandatory to making large shifts in your life. I can assure you, it leads to a far higher quality of life, more freedom, passion, better conversations, and opportunities you can’t even fathom compared to living in a nice little corporate world.

That time with your mother, which was a negative turned out to be positive.

I try to turn any negative into positive systematically. I try to take things that, on the surface, are annoying, but you find what is positive about it. There is some turmoil in that adjustment. I didn’t even know what company I wanted to make. I knew I was going to make something. You got to start with where you’re at. Baby step, there’s no straight line. I’m sure you’ve seen those cartoon analogies.

You can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect the dots looking back.

The underlying thing is not being afraid to take the next step and not being afraid to commit to doing that. Once you reprogram your own way of operating, it is empowering. I’m sure we’ll get to this coming up too. I am always social. I always had a friend network, but nothing like now. It was a conscious decision to start connecting with more people in a deeper way and systematically provide them with value. It’s a learned skill. You don’t have to naturally be. I’m sure there are inclinations that support being good at connecting, finding opportunities, following up, and providing value, but it was all a learned skill that I systematized and took to a whole other level.

Let’s talk about that for a minute. You said, “Not being afraid to take the next step.” Is that a real statement? Is that reality? When you took that step, I can’t imagine you weren’t afraid, but you did it anyways.

BYW 32 | WHY Of Trust
WHY Of Trust: Commitment to trying something new and figuring it out is mandatory to making substantial shifts in your life.


That’s a far more accurate way of saying it. You may have some reservations about it, but you’re willing to do it anyway. I was pretty lucky because of my wife. I’m like, “I’m going to start a company.” This is probably about as deep as the conversation went. She was like, “Awesome. Go for it. I believe in you.” I have friends that didn’t have that support. They’re still trapped in the jobs they hate because of it. It is important to have supportive people around you or have the internal resolve to do it anyway.

You leave your corporate job. What’s the first business that you started?

I started my company, and I had some input. I had some friends I had gone to college that started physical products companies, wooden sunglasses, and wooden watches. About the time they were buying their third building in San Francisco, I was like, “My peer group can do this and be successful at it.” I had no idea this was inspiring.

I was chatting with them about what I could do. They were like, “Don’t do physical products like us. We’re sourcing stuff from all over the globe, having to put it together and ship it out. There are all these crazy logistics. Go for information products or services.” A light went off immediately. I’m like, “I’m already good at teaching and presenting. I have all these skills. How can I now package them?” All I needed at the time was to learn the marketing side.

I created a company. I started going to a lot of events. The product I decided to create was a low-ticket productivity course. I had no one to sell it to because I had no list and connections. As noted, I went to a lot of events and started connecting with people online. I quickly found my new entrepreneur peer group already had my ideal clients in their communities on their email lists. I started setting up presentations to other people’s audiences, delivering high-value training, and offering the deeper dive course.

I started getting traction, making sales, and making a positive impact on those people that invested. I’m growing my list rapidly. I thought, “Instead of doing this here or there, what if I take my IT and systems background, simplify, and systematize the entire joint venture process?” which I did. Eventually, people wondered how I booked 2 to 6 joint venture promotions per week for my own offers. I was at a mastermind in Aspen. My phone is lit up with text messages and emails. People are knocking on my room door. They were like, “How the heck do you do that?” I put together my first live high-ticket event called Pure JV.

This gets back to one of the points you were saying. When you commit to something specific, the road will form right in front of you. It will materialize. When the people around you know what you are seeking to do, the resources will appear. When I decided to put together that high-ticket event, I had never done anything like that. When I said I’m doing it, I’m doing it at this date. I’m doing it at this place.

People came out of the woodwork. They were like, “I’ll build your landing page. I’ll write you a copy. I have friends I can refer to this. I want to go to this.” It came together like a magnet. The event went well. Everyone got a ton of value out of it. By committing to something specific, that’s how you create the framework. You can keep making it more robust and continue iterating because continuous improvement kicks in there.

Your first event was called Pure JV. For people that don’t know what JV even means, what are you talking about? What is a JV? What is that?

That means a Joint Venture. It’s not like two companies merging, getting married, and doing things together forever, although there are some of those. They’re more like promotional partnerships. An example I like to use is Brian Tracy. Brian has a deep career, all these books on sales, and high performance. He has created a following of 500,000 people on his email list. There are various kinds of joint ventures. Even a referral is a joint venture. Brian has promoted me six times to his list. Brian has an audience that follows him for those particular reasons. I have a presentation and content that strongly matches and accentuates that message. It builds on it.

He will mail 500,000 people inviting his audience to my training. I deliver high-value training to those folks in a webinar format or maybe speaking in person, and I offer a deeper dive program for people who want to go further with it. The revenue that comes in for the students or clients that sign up that’s shared with Brian and me is a joint venture.

Do not be afraid to take the next step and commit to doing that. Click To Tweet

It’s his audience, and my product is being leveraged in a highly complementary way where everyone’s winning from the interaction. His folks get content he has never made that he may not be an expert, but it complements why they follow him. I get the benefit of a massive audience that I didn’t have previously. Everyone involved is coming out further ahead.

I have systematized the process of creating joint venture strategies for companies. I’m helping them identify ideal partners, how to get the conversations, how to guide those conversations to land actual JVs, and operationally, how you conduct it, what you need to send to the partner, what resources need to be in place, like landing pages, webinar tools, or things like that, and how to turn each one of those into 2 or 3 more. That’s one example of joint ventures. Anyone reading who has a business, who has ever received a referral, you can set that up in a systematic way. That’s a joint venture. You have people scouting your ideal clients for you all of the time.

People will say, “Charles, I get an email almost every day from people that have a list of people I can buy. They’ll say, ‘Do you want to buy my list of dentists? I’ve got a list of 120,000 dentists.’” How’s that different?

Those lists won’t perform well. Joint ventures are strategic. These are two professionals putting their minds together to serve that audience in the most effective way possible and create a successful promotion itself, so it does and performs well. When you’re buying a list like that, you’re not the first person they have sold it to. These poor people have been slammed with all things they typically never asked for. Those lists of people are opting out, or they’re black listing any mail coming through from there. Their actual effectiveness is quite low. I know a few people who have done that successfully. I never even entertained the idea because it didn’t seem like something that would work well.

To me, it’s missing the one big ingredient, which is the influencer.

Also, the transference of authority. That’s a massive part of why joint ventures are powerful. If you don’t mind, I’ll use you as an example. You’re about to be on JJ Virgin stage. You’re about to do some great things with her. You have a ton of authority in what you do already, but JJ’s audience is probably the first time many of them will be exposed to you.

The fact you’re there, you’re being featured as an expert, which you are. She was saying, “You guys have to hear from Gary. I twisted his arm to get him here. This guy is phenomenal. He is helping people discover their most fundamental motivation for everything they do. This translates to you personally, your team, and the success of your business. Write down notes and take action on what Gary was saying.” Those people will. She transferred all the trust and authority she has built up with her people, who love her, follow her, and read everything she writes. She transferred that right over to you.

That means your conversion rate and the level of impact you’ll make from people listening to what you’re saying and taking action turned up from 2 to 8 simply because of that. That’s one of the powers of joint ventures and why warm traffic versus people who pay for Facebook ads, YouTube ads, or different kinds of ads. This is warm traffic. This is endorsed JV traffic. This is JJ saying, “Listen to Gary. I vouch for him. He is phenomenal.”

If you are a regular reader, you know that our vision is to be the first step in self-awareness and the first step that people take when trying to figure out who they are. Our goal is to impact a billion people in the next several years. Think about that. How the heck are we going to do that? How are we going to impact a billion people?

One of the things you said earlier was, when you put it out there, people seem to appear that say, “I can help you do that. I want to be part of that.” That’s the essence of joint ventures. Think of how many ads I would have to buy to make that happen. An unfathomable amount of ads versus working with people that already have massive influence that can present this concept of WHY.os or the software that will do it to their audience. Compare for everybody buying ads, which can work, but how that works versus joint venture.

I’m a fan of diversifying lead flow for people that don’t run businesses. What that means is getting in front of people you can serve with your product or service. There are three main ways to go about that. You can pay for ads. This is when you’re on a website or your Facebook feed. You see ads there. You can create content, which, if you do that long enough and consistently enough, usually over a year, you will start attracting people, or there are joint ventures where people who already have your ideal clients and have these massive audiences that trust them to bestow that trust over to you and highlight you as an authority to be listened to, along with showing how that expert, who has the audience, serves that audience, shows how what you do, compliments it, strengthens it, and enables them to go further.

BYW 32 | WHY Of Trust
WHY Of Trust: The transference of authority is a massive part of why joint ventures are so powerful.


I’m going to use an example of a large coaching Institute, which Gary, I can’t wait to introduce you to. They’re doing $42 million a year. They service tens of thousands of coaching clients with certifications. By Gary getting connected with these folks, understanding how to line up a joint venture with them, landing that deal, getting in front of all of their current and previous coaching students, and getting in front of everyone else on their list who hasn’t even become a coaching student yet.

Look at the expansiveness of that reach. Now, all of these coaches have their own clients that they’re servicing, supporting, and helping. If WHY.os has been an integral part of getting them grounded as the first step in their journey, they’re going to bring it to all the people they’re serving. This does or can have a domino effect that replicates you out to that billion dramatically faster. As my friend Yanik Silver puts it, he wants to light 1,000 suns that themselves light 1,000 suns. This is the replication effect that joint ventures have the power to bring.

If you’re reading this, you might be saying to yourself, “I got it. In a joint venture, you talk to somebody, set up a thing where they’re going to promote to you and sell to their audience. I get it. I have heard it.” That’s what I thought. As we dove into it, what I didn’t understand was the value of systematizing the process because there is a big difference between doing something and doing something right. You can wing it but what you’ve created is different than winging it.

Maybe give an example of what you have systematized. Let me ask you a question because this was fascinating to me. You and I are going to set up a joint venture. I’m meeting you. You have a process of questions for me to ask you to make sure we’re the right fit. Now we decided that you and I are going to do a joint venture together. What happens after that?

We come to that agreement. We want to do this. It’s a great fit and service to the audience. The next thing we do for one, we choose the date for the promo. We choose the time. We choose what the specific promotional mailing dates are. We talk about when you can expect to get those emails over to your team to send out to the audience exactly when that will happen.

Every nuance of the process is systematized. An example I like to give is we give you the pieces to create the cookie cutter. After that, you’re pushing it down over and over again. You’re replicating something over and over, along with understanding how to turn each of these joint ventures into 2 or 3 more, but it’s what’s communicated to the partner and when. It’s what’s communicated to your own team to understand what to build out and by when it’s taking resources to execute a promotion, “Let’s invent some examples, but something like a landing page, creating a webinar, scheduling the webinar, and duplicating that for each promotion that’s being set up.”

Every part of it is systematized both internally within your team and with the partner, with the goal of taking the thinking out of the process. This is a paint-by-numbers approach. Instead of wondering what to do, what asset, or how to track it, it’s all in one type of end-to-end solution that makes it easy for a company like yours to get it up and going, and you’re autonomous. You have a continuous traffic source and the autonomy to execute that over and over.

I heard you say that the first time, and you probably said it again. I still didn’t get it until we did it. I was like, “Now I get what you’re talking about.” It’s one ear and out the other until we went to do it. Another example of that in what you teach, and maybe you can talk a little bit about this as well, is you talked about this thing called the irresistible offer.

“I know what you’re talking about. I’ve heard irresistible offers before. I get it. You stack on all this stuff to it so that it seems like you’re buying a whole bunch of stuff, but most of it, you won’t.” I had in my own mind what that meant. When I went through the process, it was so much different, and it has revolutionized the conversion. Conversion is so critical. You can get a lot of people on an event, but if you can’t convert anybody, what good was that? You got more frustrated.

We think of this in a comprehensive way. Joint ventures bring you warm traffic. That’s awesome. That’s only one piece of the puzzle. I am holding up a doll. This is George from the Beatles. This is the warm traffic. That’s great. We have the irresistible offer. We got Paul here. We then need the overall strategy. We got John. If you get these things right, you have a brilliant strategy. You have a fantastic offer that’s perfect for your ideal clients, and you have warm traffic. What you have there is a hit. You have a comprehensive approach to serving more people and getting great results for your partners.

Partners love promoting people that fit well with their messaging community, get people results and make them lots of money. It’s certainly not hard to line up JVs when every time they work with you, they get paid. Their people come up and tell them what a huge, positive impact you have made for them. Having something that converts well, that’s ultra well aligned, and having a strategy to do this methodically simplifies what you’re doing and integrates. It sounds easy, but how do you do that in reality? That’s precisely what we help companies do.

When you commit to something specific, the road will form right before you. Click To Tweet

The irresistible offer, for those of you that aren’t familiar with it, this is my take on it. Hopefully, I’ll say it accurately. You have your offering, and it’s great for the audience, but you go through the process of saying, “What are their objections? What are their reasons for not purchasing? What could come up that would hold them up?” Once you figure those things out, where there are three things, you create a bonus that addresses that objection. In my case, I offer them a workshop. I’ll speak at an event. I’ll take the audience through discovering their why, how, and their WHY.os.

I know what’s going to happen next. They’re going to say, “I got to have this for my team.” The next thing I’m going to offer is, “Let’s do this for your team and your business.” One of the objections could be, “When you’re going to offer that, I can’t make it. How am I going to do that? What if it’s on a day that I’m not ready for, or the only day that you’re going to offer this, I can’t be there?” How would you create a bonus or a way that addresses that objection?

Let’s say their objection is, “What I did is I created multiple times during the month that we’re going to host this event every month.” It gives them time to plan to be at it. What if an objection was, “What if I hire somebody new in three months? What am I going to do?” You create bonuses that allow you to handle that objection.

That is certainly right, along with incentivizing making a decision in a timely manner because they might go, “This is cool. We want to do it. We’ll get back to you in six months when we feel like it.” They won’t because life moves on, or some might. If you can help incentivize making a decision in a timely manner, this means you’re getting them on board where they’re excited, motivated, and sink their teeth in. Anytime they’re following what you say like that, they get results, and everyone is winning. It’s formulaic. The strategies and offers are different in different markets. That’s why we work hand in hand to help design that with you to ensure the best outcome possible.

I didn’t want to have you on the show to do an infomercial for you. That was not my goal, even though maybe it feels that way right about now because I have been impressed with what you have shared with us, what we’re doing, and the way that it’s connected the right people to us to bring what we’re doing to the world. What results have you seen this bring to people? How has that transformed their businesses?

It has been quite remarkable in many cases. Five of the clients I have worked with over 2021 have done $1.5 million to $6 million in revenue, specifically from working with us. I will highlight the $6 million one because I like the ring of that. A gentleman out of Australia named Jackson Millan, who has $11,000 offer is helping businesses like ours, focus on our core numbers, and retain more personal wealth, was dependent on Facebook, mostly for his traffic. He was doing well with it until Facebook shut down his account.

Imagine running a business, and your primary lead source evaporates. It’s an unnerving thing. In any case, he hired me to help him with his JV strategy, identify ideal partners, get those conversations, book the JVs, and execute them. He is a quick-start guy. He went a little overboard. He booked 70 joint ventures in 2 months. I checked in with him a few months back. He has done $6 million in revenue and collected $2 million in cash. He was messaging me. We share intros and referrals all the time. He was a lovely guy.

We work with coaches, consultants, course builders, and so forth. It’s tying it back to the why, being the trusted source for people, simplifying things for people, and bringing a structure and a pathway to do it the right way. We happen to be talking about joint ventures, but this is my why. You helped me see it in a clearer way. I don’t think I would’ve been able to articulate it like that. It’s grounding and important. I’m building that into a lot of my communication. I’m putting it inside my stage talks. I have several of those coming up, like Genius Network and others.

I’m going to mention the why, which you also recommended I do. It gives people the answers they need to listen to what you’re saying more effectively because they know what’s driving you underneath. They are also spot-checking. Is what you’re saying congruent with the why you expressed? This is part of the clarity you help people with this important work. I’m thrilled you transitioned your own career to enable all of us to do a lot better job with that.

What Charles is talking about is his WHY.os. His why is to create relationships based on trust, which we’re talking about. You can tell now that he is the trusted source. He is the guy in this field. All the people that you know use him to learn this process. Sometimes you do it for them. How does he go about doing that? His how is to simplify things, make them simple and easy to use, and create processes, structures, and systems that are simple. Ultimately, what he brings is the right way to get results.

His why is trust. His how is simplify, and his what is right way. I’m not sure there’s a better WHY.os for what you do than what you have. I can trust you. I can count on it. If you tell me something, it’s going to be the truth. You’re going to simplify it to where I can do it. You’re going to give me a step-by-step process to get it done. How much better could it be? That’s what I would be looking for.

BYW 32 | WHY Of Trust
WHY Of Trust: The level of impact you’ll make from people listening to what you’re saying and taking action just turned from a two to an eight simply because of that transfer of trust and authority to you.


It’s highly complementary because your process gave me the clarity to express it that way, even internally, to recognize that. That’s what I have been doing for a long time. Now I have a lot more succinct way to communicate it. When I reread my why, I pull this up frequently. It reinforces that. When you have that clarity of your own purpose, it becomes a sounding board for everything you’re doing.

Is what I’m doing now simplifying for people? Is what I’m doing now the right spotlight as a trusted source? It gives you a framework for decision-making. It’s cool how you’ve built out the platform, how your vision for it is big, and how I’m able to serve you because of my why to reach those billion people. It’s a full circle. It’s how I’m seeing this.

Last question for you, Charles. What’s the best piece of advice you have ever given or the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

I certainly didn’t make this. It’s a title of a book. Relationships are everything. If you look at anything that matters in your life, your family, your kids, your significant other, and your clients, the only thing that brings value to life is relationships. If you look at people far further along in their life, all that ever mattered were their relationships. Recognizing relationships is everything. Systematically find ways to stay connected and provide people value. When you incorporate this into your everyday life and behavior, and you’re in service of other people, opportunities will never end.

You will feel good and congruent. You’ll be making a positive impact on the people around you. That replicates. You become a role model for people. When you’re looking out for them, they, in turn, look out for others and you. That helps us all make the world a better place. As cheesy as that may sound, it’s a fact. Relationships are everything.

Would somebody with the why of trust say anything different? The why of trust is to create relationships based upon your success. It happens when we create relationships that are based on trust. That’s perfect. Charles, thank you so much for being here. If there are people reading that say, “That is the guy that I have been looking for. I need to learn how to do joint ventures. I need to learn how to get my message out in a bigger way,” what’s the best way for people to get in contact with you?

They can pop over to There’s a contact form on there where you can shoot an email to I love to hear from you. Gary, thanks so much for having me on the show.

Thank you so much for being here, Charles. I know we’re going to be doing a lot of work together in the future as we are now.

Thank you.

Thank you for reading. If you’ve not yet discovered your WHY, you can do so at You can use the code PODCAST50 to take the WHY discovery at 50% off. If you love the show, please don’t forget to subscribe below. Leave us a review and rating on whatever platform you’re using because that will help bring this to the world. Thank you so much for reading. We’ll see you next episode.


Important Links


About Charles Byrd

BYW 32 | WHY Of TrustToday, I have the honor to introduce to you Charles Byrd. There is the official bio and his incredible background and success in Silicon Valley, but that’s not as important. What you really need to know about Charles is his proven record of helping others create super profitable joint venture partnerships.

Not only is he one of the most connected people in the online space, he knows how to help you set up lucrative promotional deals that has his clients and students booking hundreds of thousands of dollars of business. Yep, he knows how to help you get qualified leads without you needing to do paid advertising or the need for complicated funnels. I am sure that’s music to your ears. If you want to grow your business, Charles is definitely one to pay attention to.

Charles’s work on relationships, joint ventures, and frictionless systems has been featured in:

  • Forbes
  • ABC News
  • SiriusXM
  • Funnel Magazine
  • AND THE Science of Success

His new book called “Internet Marketing Secrets” is an Amazon best seller.


Finding Better Ways To Help People Achieve Their Dreams With Bryan Sweet

BYW 31 | Finding Better Ways


Are you often pleased but never satisfied? Are you constantly looking to improve on things so that they can end up better? Do you want people to succeed in their lifelong dreams, so you help them achieve them? If you said yes to all those things, then just like the guest today, Bryan Sweet, whose WHY is the WHY of better way. Bryan achieves his WHY by helping his clients find better ways to help them achieve their financial goals and dreams.


Bryan is a Forbes Best-in-State Wealth Advisor, wealth advisor at Sweet Financial Partners, and the creator of the Dream Architect, where he helps people live their ideal futures. Join Dr. Gary Sanchez as he talks with Bryan about Dream Architect and how to fulfill your dreams. Discover all the financial and mindset planning involved to make your goals a reality. Start envisioning your future today!

Watch the episode here

Listen to the podcast here

Finding Better Ways To Help People Achieve Their Dreams With Bryan Sweet

In this episode, we’re going to be talking about the Why of a Better Way. If this is your why, 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 Bryan Sweet. As a Forbes’ Best-in-State Wealth Advisor for multiple years running, he has been on the mission to help people live their retirement dreams since the start of his career in financial services back in 1979. It is because of this that he created his proprietary, the Dream Architect, which not only helps his clients maximize their distribution, planning, and retirement but also helps them strive for and accomplish their biggest dreams.

With Bryan’s vast industry experience, he has also partnered with multiple entities, including Ultimate Advisor Coaching and the Elite Wealth Advisor Symposium, which support high-performing financial advisors across the United States in the growth and scaling of their businesses. He and his partners do this through teachings on team management, marketing and automation, best practices, and all that it takes to build a high-class and scalable advisory practice. The bottom line is that Bryan thrives on helping others experience the growth and freedom that he has created and building world-class financial services, all while living the life of his dreams. Bryan, welcome to the show.

It’s great to be here. Thank you.

This is going to be a lot of fun. I’ve been looking forward to this. Let’s go back to your life. Take us back to what were you like in high school.

My nickname used to be Hyper. That might give you a little background on how I might’ve been in school. I was always pretty active in everything I did. I couldn’t sit still very long. I think about myself and the things that I do. It applies now. I’m not willing to just keep the status quo. There are probably early people predicting what direction I might go.

Give us an example. What were you hyper about in high school? What are some of the things that you did while you were in high school to give us a sense of this?

Children have these big aspirations, whether it's to be an astronaut or a fireman, but then life happens. And these people just end up letting life happen to them instead of making it happen. Click To Tweet

I was like Eveready Bunny. I was always going somewhere or doing something. I never slept a lot, and I still don’t. By how I was acting and what I did all the time, that’s the nickname that my friends gave me.

Were you into sports or drama? What were the things that you liked to do in high school?

I wasn’t a great athlete, but I was a wrestler, and I was in football. One of the things I loved to do was weightlifting. I was the captain of the weightlifting team. For whatever reason, I happened to maybe excel at that. I liked that probably more than anything else. I was also pretty good in school. I had fun with my other buddies, but I always made sure I got my homework done. I got through school well.

Where did you grow up?

Where I went to high school, I still live now. It’s a little town in Minnesota called Fairmont, Minnesota. The population is a whopping 10,000. I always liked to tell people that if there are two people at the stop-and-go lights, that’s a traffic jam, but it’s been a great little community for myself and all my business people. We’re very fortunate with technology that we can work with clients in 35 different states and 4 different countries.

For those of us that didn’t have that opportunity and never will, what was it like to grow up in a town of 10,000 people? How many high schools? Have you felt like you knew everybody?

We had a close class. We had 1 high school and 1 elementary school. Everybody knew everybody. There was like a typical high school, the East side, West side, North and South where you can have little cliques. Fortunately, I’ve always seemed to be somebody that got along with everybody. That turned out to be helpful in relationship building later on. As I thought back to where it started, I thought that there was nobody better than anybody else. Everybody had some value to add. It’s good to get to know and be friends with as many people as you possibly can.

We have a great little town. There are five lakes right in the town. There are lots of activities. In the summer, we went swimming and did outside activities. Being from a small town, it’s helpful from a business standpoint because if you do good things, word travels fast and consequently, if you don’t do things well, the word travels fast. It was a great experience. I’m still friends and business acquaintances with a lot of my high school friends.

BYW 31 | Finding Better Ways
Finding Better Ways: If you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up, consider selling life insurance. It’ll be a great experience where you’ll learn all sorts of skills.


Where did you go to college?

I must get lost easily because I don’t travel very far. I went to a division of the University of Minnesota in a town called Mankato. Back then, they used to call it Mankato State. It was 50 miles away from Fairmont, but it was a great big state school and gave me some flexibility to come back to work in the summers without traveling very far. I took up Business and a Minor in Accounting when I was in college. One of the great things looking back at what get started is that my college advisor was in charge of the marketing department. He was voted the number one teacher for like three years in a row. He’s the one that got me in my career while I was still in college.

How did you do that?

I was taking all the Business classes and Finance. I loved Accounting and numbers. I was going to minor in Accounting. I couldn’t figure even with his help what I wanted to be when I graduated. Fortunately, looking at it now, my mom would have told you this was the worst decision ever when it happened, but he was also the division manager for a life insurance company.

He said, “As long as you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up, why don’t you consider selling life insurance? If nothing else, it’ll be great teaching and experience. You’ll learn lots of skills. Not knowing any better, I said, “Let’s give it a shot.” It was the first time I told my mom. Dick came down to tell my mom. I thought she was going to have a heart attack and pass out. Fortunately, it all turned out well.

What did she not like about it?

If you think of the standard stigma of a life insurance person, that’s the one guy where you see them at a party. There’s no one talking to him because they’re afraid you’re going to get sold something. That was her stigma, originally, but looking back, he was so instrumental in teaching me skills that I needed so much and still use now, even to the extent I learned how to tie my first tie with him. He gave me lots of introductions and spent a lot of time with me. Ultimately, it turned out his whole family are clients of mine now. It was like the reverse of the whole thing. He helped me and now I’m helping them.

You’re at college. Your advisor gets you moving in the direction of life insurance, you graduate, then what happens?

In life insurance, you don't work for insurance companies; you work for your clients. Click To Tweet

I stayed in the insurance business and there was an opportunity through some relationships that he had started where I opened an office in Mankato. I started while I was still in my senior year of college. Whoever would talk to you, your college buddies, family, and friends, I continued that for 1 year or 2 up there then I said, “Where do I want to spend my time? This is going pretty well.” I was doing pretty good. Ultimately, I said, “I know a lot more people in Fairmont. Maybe I should move back to my hometown because the opportunities are probably greater there just because of the people that I’ve known over the years.” I made the gradual transition back to Fairmont.

Did you add the financial piece to it or how did that happen?

I was working for an insurance company. As I got more technical knowledge and understanding, started talking to clients, and learned a lot more about the industry, I quickly became familiar with that one company that didn’t have the best products and vehicles for every situation that I came across. I’m going, “Whom do I work for? Do I work for the insurance company or my clients?” I quickly and rightfully answer that question correctly. I said, “I work for my clients.”

Shortly thereafter, I said, “I have to become independent and be able to represent any company that’s in the best interest of my clients.” It was a natural progression. Clients were asking certain things. Way back when I started, the old investment industry was mutual funds. They used to charge 8.5% upfront commissions. It was a crazy thought back then.

People were asking questions, so I slowly got into that and then ultimately did a lot less insurance simply because I didn’t have a lot of control over the underwriting and who can get accepted, but I had all the control over all of the financial planning sides. We naturally gravitated to the areas where we could be the most helpful and we had the most control.

You’ve found a better way to help people with their finances and their planning. How many years ago that you make the switch from focusing on insurance to focusing more on financial planning?

I started in 1979. Maybe eight years into my career, I opened up my own individualized office. At the time, it was called Sweet Financial Services and later became Sweet Financial Partners. That would have been in 1987.

Tell us about the Dream Architect.

BYW 31 | Finding Better Ways
Finding Better Ways: If you want to live your ideal future, you have to first envision it. Then you have to create a blueprint. You got to build the process. And you got to maintain and review it.


I’m in a mastermind group called Strategic Coach. I have been in that for 23 years. If you’re an entrepreneur, you probably have heard of Dan Sullivan. He helps you create a better way of thinking as a business owner. Part of that class was, “How do you differentiate yourself? How do you show up differently with your clients?”

Many years ago, we were doing an exercise of trying to take what you did and create a process, name, steps, and whatnot. I’ve always been fascinated with dreams, motivational things, and talking to clients. One of the things I noticed is that when you’re a young kid, everybody wants to be an astronaut and a fireman. Everybody’s got these big aspirations, and it then seems like life happens.

A lot of times, people, for whatever reason, just let life happen to them instead of making it happen. I thought, “If we can make, as part of our process, something to help their dreams come true wouldn’t that be extra helpful and also be a differentiator?” We created the platform, which we’ve now trademarked and called Dream Architect. It’s all about all the financial planning concepts but also creating your vision for what you’d love your future to be and helping people think a lot more out of the box.

Give us an example. How do you define a dream? That sounds interesting. How do you help someone to find what we are talking about? Where do they want to be at the end of their life? Are you talking about where they want to be when they retire? What are we talking about?

It would be all of those things. It’s essentially a four-step process. The most important part of it is step one, which is called visioning, where you sit down and we have a conversation about, “If anything in life were possible, what would you like to see happens? What are the problems and issues that you’re dealing with now? What are your dangers? What are your opportunities?” Try to get as much information about pressures and concerns that they have, but also spend a lot of time on the what if or the bucket list of, “If anything were possible, what would you like to do?”

The first time we started asking those big picture, dreaming, and if anything were possible questions, people would glaze over because no one had ever asked them, but they’d never thought about it. They are going to go to work and raise a family. Whatever happened is what happened. I am a believer in it because I’ve had these things happen to me what you think about and what you put in your mind, things are going to pop up and help you get there.

I’m trying to get people to think about where they would like to be. I want to be a constant reminder and a source to help them get there because if they’re thinking about it and at our reviews, I’m thinking about it when I can bring the resources to them, or they’ll start seeing things that help bring those things to fruition. It’s learning as much as possible. It’s an ongoing thing because, for a lot of people, it’s a little woo-woo, to begin with, “What are you even talking about?”

Once we have a good idea of what would make their life utterly fantastic, then step two is we need to put a blueprint together on how we’re going to get there. These are all the different methodologies and steps. It could be anything from tax planning to introductions to different individuals that we collaborate with that might provide other services. Create the blueprint.

Experiences of any type are the things that people remember. Click To Tweet

Once we go through the blueprint with them and they’ve said, “That’s good. I’d love that. Let’s tweak this one a little bit.” It’s like building a house. You might change the design a little bit once you see the blueprint. We’ll finalize the blueprint and then we’ll go through the build process, which is making what they said they wanted on the blueprint come to life.

After we’ve made it come to life, then it’s constant ongoing maintenance. Otherwise, review it to make sure, “Are these the things that you still want to do? Are these still the timeframes? If anything has happened, what do we need to do to tweak it so you’re always on schedule? If something changed, what do I need to do to make sure I take that left turn instead of going straight so that I’m always on track for whatever’s important to me?”

Those are the four steps that we use, but it’s customized to them. We have a big emphasis on lots of questions about getting them to think about their ideal future, not only what’s the ideal future tomorrow, in retirement, or in any of those timeframes. Those are seemed to be things that people don’t normally get asked.

The four steps were you got to do the visioning. Once you envision it, you got to create the blueprint. The third step is you got to build the process. The fourth step is you got to maintain it and review it. I’m sure people are thinking this. What is the most fascinating vision you’ve heard that you’ve helped create?

We tried to collect these. When you walk into the office the first time, there’s a wall before you get to the office. It says, “It’s your dream, and we’ll help you get there.” It’s pictures of clients’ actual dream accomplishments that we’ve helped create over the years. It’s a constant reminder. We have a little story tour that goes with that when we get first introduced to people. That’s an integral part of introducing the Dream Architect process.

As far as the most outstanding one, the one that rings a bell is, I had some clients that were retiring and they’ve been disciples of what we do and been long-term clients. We took them through this process. We created a dream board for them. One of the things that they did is every time they went somewhere or did something on the dream board, they took the dream board with them when they traveled. They’d take a picture and they’d send it to us from wherever they were doing it.

That particular couple wanted to do a Route 66 trip with their grandkids. She wanted to write a book. There was a foundation that they wanted to create and all of which they got accomplished. The reason these people ring a bell is what happened is her health took a bad turn and she ended up with a brain disorder and things weren’t very good.

The rewarding thing for us and also for them is because they went through the process, they got everything done on their dream list prior to that happening. They could look back favorably. Now she’s fortunately recovered in doing much better, but not in the condition where they can go out and do lots of other things that might’ve been on the list that didn’t get accomplished. That’s probably the one that jumps out at me the most just because what happened after that forced them to, hopefully, continue to do well, but they wouldn’t have got anything else probably done on the list.

BYW 31 | Finding Better Ways
Finding Better Ways: Your brain doesn’t know the difference between any input you give. But the brain’s job is to go out and find resources for whatever you’re thinking about.


What are some typical dreams that you hear? Are there patterns to dreams? Are there similarities between what people say? I’m trying to think of myself from myself, and I’m sure readers are thinking in their own minds, “What would my dreams be? What is it that I haven’t done that I want to do?”

We are trying to create an even better list of questions to get people to even think deeper. It’s a lot of family-oriented things on how to help family members accomplish something. Vacations of some exotic form tend to pop up a great deal. What I found is that experiences of any type are the things that people remember. I remember one client. We had a review. I was chatting with her. I could tell she was usually this upbeat and happy-go-lucky person. She was a little down.

I stopped the conversation and said, “Is something going on? I can tell you’re not your normal self.” She says, “I got off the phone with my son.” She’s got three children. They were going to do this big family trip with all the grandkids. She said, “I had to tell him no because I didn’t feel comfortable affording that.” I went, “What do you mean? You never even brought this up.” I stopped the conversation and we use detailed financial planning software that plugs in all the numbers so we can quickly decide whether you can have this expense or that expense. I had all her updated information and I applied the cost of what this trip would be. I said, “You can do this.”

All of a sudden, her whole demeanor changed. While we were on the phone, we got her hooked up with the travel people, the airlines. This happened a few years ago. Her name’s Kathy. The first thing she says every time I talk to her is, “Thanks again for making sure I did that family trip because it’s an experience that I’ll never forget and never be able to repeat again because the kids get older and not everybody can get together.” It’s things like that. It’s gratifying to me, but also, I need to get better at drawing those things out of them. I’m finding that people can think bigger and better, but I’ve got to be somewhat of a better motivator to maybe make that happen.

Those are hard conversations, but they’re just things that we don’t ever think about. We’re doers and not thinkers so often. Have you seen that dreams have changed over the years? Have the things that people dreamt about changed or has it been pretty standard?

I saw four additional issues that continuously popped up after we’ve been doing the Dream Architect for a long time. They weren’t being solved in the regular Dream Architect process. We helped those four items with all the wealth and creating things for their kids, vacations, and whatnot, but several things popped up. The first one that I continually noticed was a dealt with purpose.

Where this applied was somebody that maybe was a business owner or a high-level executive and they’re retiring. Their whole persona is of this business owner, all the people they helped, and their clientele. All of a sudden, they are going from that to something different. In a lot of cases, they really didn’t know what they were going to do or hadn’t thought about it. That transition, in a lot of cases, didn’t go well. They didn’t know their why, which is applicable to this show. We wanted to be helpful with that.

The other thing that we noticed in the example I gave earlier, people ran into health and longevity issues. They had all this money and then something health-wise happened and/or their lifespan is going to be shortened. I said, “Which can we be doing or who can we be collaborating with to help them understand things that they can do to help with that?”

Half of the joy of being charitable is seeing the good for yourself. Click To Tweet

The third one would be legacy, which is helping maybe pass values down to the next generation or their grandkids or their kids. Part of that would also be that we ran into a lot of clients that wanted to be charitably inclined, but they were just nervous about doing it while they were living for fear they might run out of money. The problem with that is that if you do it after you die, you don’t get to see all the great benefits that you were able to deliver. Half of the joy of being charitable is to see the good in yourself. It’s to try and create better methodologies to get people to understand that maybe you can have your cake and eat it, too. What are some of the different methodologies?

The last one was experiencing. A lot of business people, or just people in general, work, go home, eat supper, go to bed, work, and never got to maybe do as many vacations or experiences as they would’ve liked. Even if they had the ability and understood, maybe they were such unique ones that they didn’t know how to go about, who do you find and who can help me with that?

They consequently never got done. Because of that, we’ve taken the Dream Architect process and we’re creating a new platform called The Dream Architect Life that has all five of those pillars, wealth, purpose, health, longevity, legacy, and experiences all together so that we can help control the concerns and other things that we didn’t see getting done. I’m not the one delivering the experiences and things, but we are collaborating with people like yourself and others that are experts in those areas and making people aware of, “If I’ve got this issue,” these are people that can help you overcome that to make that negative, turn it into a positive.

We’re going to be creating a three-day immersive where you can come to the event. We’ll talk about all five areas. We’ll do a deep dive into one particular topic. The first one we’re going to be doing is going to be health and longevity oriented. From my standpoint of, “How do I help propel and make more of these dreams come true?” it seems like that direction is going to be helpful and maybe make it more available to more people also.

What is it that you believe about dreams?

I’m very much a believer that dreams do come true, but you do have to have them in front of mind. What you think about is what happens. I’ve just personally experienced it so many times. Your brain doesn’t know the difference between any input that you give it, but its job is to go out and find resources for whatever you’re thinking about. If you’re thinking about positive things, dreams, and a better life, those things pop up because your brain is looking for that information.

When you’re looking for it and it shows up, if you’re receptive to it and then take the action steps, that’s where we’re helpful. If you’re not seeing it, we may have already known what that step is. If I know it, maybe we’ve already experienced it or had a client experience it. I can say, “This is the next step that you need to take to make that thought from a thought to a reality.”

We had talked about this one time before when I was at a gentleman’s house who is a billionaire in Palm Desert and he had this room. It was 360 degrees of glass. It was like you were standing in a glass room on top of this hill, overlooking Palm Desert. He had miniatures of the number one dream home in the world, the number one dream yacht, the best of the best that you could possibly have. I asked him, “Do you ever use this room?” He said, “ I only go in that room when I want to dream. Dreams are the most important thing that you have.”

BYW 31 | Finding Better Ways
Finding Better Ways: When something bad happens, don’t look at it as a negative; look at it as a learning experience. Those bad experiences just give clues on how to do it better next time.


That’s taking that concept to another level in that example.

He started as a newspaper salesman and built his way all the way up to owning a quarterly in Idaho and lots of different things. It all happened because of his ability to dream. Most of us throw dreams on the back burner. We don’t even consider how valuable a dream is.

The other point is if you think about it, a lot of times you may have a dream, but then you let somebody poo-poo it like, “What do you mean? Do you want to do that? That’s ridiculous.” It’s not ridiculous. You just don’t want to be hanging out with that person anymore because they’re going to be the Debbie Downer that makes it not happen. You and I know lots of successful people and the same story comes out, “Whatever you think can happen.” You can create your own possibilities. You can’t be around people that don’t have that same mentality.

You got to be conscious when you want something in life or you have a dream. If somebody is telling you, you can’t, not that you can permanently get rid of them because it might be a relative or something, but don’t spend a lot of time with them when you are trying to accomplish something bigger. That’s such a huge thing. There are so many naysayers in the world that can squelch that, but there are also a lot of people that want you to win. Those are the ones that are going to be the most helpful.

Do dreams have a timeframe on them or a deadline? How do you separate dreams from a wish?

To a certain extent, you can create your own timeframes with dreams, but obviously, you got to be realistic about it, “I want to be a multimillionaire tomorrow.” That’s not going to happen, but if you understand the actions you need to take and you’re willing to accept the input that will continually come when you have that as your framework, it will happen.

What also happens with people is they give up a little too soon, maybe the right time perspective. That filters away because they gave up and then they’re not it’s not front of mind anymore. I see that a fair amount. One of our roles is to be 1) The reminder. This is important to you. 2) The encourager and 3) Be the constant supplier of background information that helps them get to where they want to go.

What I have found is that the more I talk about a dream, the easier it becomes to talk about, the more likely it is that it is on its way to happening, and the more that other people know about it and then want to be part of it. I remember the first time I thought about impacting 1 billion people, helping 1 billion people discover their why, how, and what so they can make decisions and live a life of passion.

When you want something in life or have a dream, don't be around people who are telling you, you can't. Click To Tweet

When I first said that, I see people looking at me like, “What?” The more I’ve talked about it, the more obvious it has become that it’s going to happen. The more people that have said, “I want to be part of that,” and introduced me to the right people to make it happen. If I stopped saying it and only kept it internal, it wouldn’t happen. I wouldn’t have the help to make it happen.

I will compliment you for what you do. The why of yourself and knowing it is hugely important. It ties in with purpose because if you don’t get that right, you’re never going to go in the right direction and never will be as happy as you could be. Kudos for all your efforts there. To take off on what you said, in building this Dream Architect life, you nailed everything I’m experiencing in building this new platform. It was a concept.

You started talking to people and they went, “That sounds pretty interesting. Have you thought about this? Let me introduce you here.” That went from one thing and pretty soon, Forbes, Barron’s, Private Wealth, and Bloomberg were right and about the concept. Pretty soon, you’re getting introduced to other people and the people want to help you do it. All of a sudden, it accelerates the growth because you had a good idea. They want to help to promote it because it’s going to do good in the world and it’s been crazy. I’ve never thought about that, but that’s 100% of what’s happening.

The key is to figure out your dream and then talk about it.

That’s a revelation for me. Thank you. The more you can talk about it, the more likely it’s to happen and others will help you.

If there are people reading and say, “I love what he’s doing. I want to connect with him. I want to figure out my dream. I want to plan my steps. I want to start talking about it. I want to be excited about something. I want to go in the right direction.” What’s the best way for people to get in touch with you?

I’ll give you several ways. If you just want to know a little bit more about Sweet Financial Partners, our website is If you have an individual question about the dream architect or what we’re creating in the dream architect life, you can email me personally Bryan@SweetFinancial. Our platform is coming along. That’ll be rolled out in the first quarter of 2023. We haven’t got the final website, but it’ll be done shortly. That’ll be a little more to learn about the dream architect life, which is a separate platform.

Last question for you. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever given or that’s ever been given to you?

It is two points. First of all, don’t give up or people give up too quickly, but I would also say when something bad happens, don’t look at it as a negative. When things happen to me, I look at it as either I won or I had a learning experience. When something bad happens, it’s just giving you clues on how to do it better next time. It’s easy to get down on ourselves. If you had those two mantras where either you won or you learned something, then, whatever happens, it’s always good. That keeps you encouraged. I’ve personally found that if that’s my mindset, then I just keep my excitement for whatever I’m doing until it becomes a reality.

What if that’s a better way to think? That’s how I see it, too. I look at it as something better is going to come out of this, but I’m wondering if somebody was different, why would see it the same way? Thank you so much for being here. It has been a great conversation. I love what you’re doing. I love the direction you’re taking thickness because you’re adding the dream aspect to just the money-saving aspect of financial planning. We can all save and make money, but if we don’t have a reason for it, then that excites us, then why do it?

It’s been an absolute pleasure to be here. Keep up the great mission that you’re on and appreciate your time. I appreciate your time.

It’s time for our new segment, which is Guess The Why. This is where we bring a celebrity name or somebody that you’re familiar with. We try to guess what we think their why is. In this case, I want to use Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. He’s been in so many movies that you guys have all seen. He’s got a new one coming out soon. The Rock was a football player, then got into wrestling and movies. Now he does everything. What do you think is why is?

I think The Rock’s why is Make Sense. It’s to make sense of the complex and challenging. He’s a great problem solver. He figures things out. He’s amazingly capable and high-capacity. I’m going to guess that his why is to make sense of the complex and challenging. Let me know what you guys think. Thank you so much for reading. If you’ve not yet discovered your why, then you can do it at, use the code PODCAST50 and you can discover your why at half price. If you love the show, please don’t forget to subscribe below, leave us a review, and rating on whatever platform you’re using to read our show. Have a great weekend. I will see you in the next episode. Thank you.


Important Links


About Bryan Sweet

BYW 31 | Finding Better WaysAs a Forbes Best-in-State Wealth Advisor for multiple years running, Bryan has been on the mission to help people live their retirement dreams since the start of his career in financial services back in 1979. It is because of this that he created his proprietary The Dream Architect™, which not only helps his clients maximize their distribution planning in retirement, but also helps them strive for and accomplish their biggest dreams.

With Bryan’s vast industry experience, he is also partnered in multiple entities including Ultimate Advisor Coaching and the Elite Wealth Advisor Symposium, which both support high-performing financial advisors across the United States in the growth and scaling of their businesses. He and his partners do this through teachings on team engagement, marketing, automation, best practices, and all that it takes to build a high-class and scalable advisory practice. The bottom line is that Bryan thrives on helping others experience the growth and freedom that he has created in building a world-class financial services practice, all while living the life of his dreams.


Marva Sadler: Growing Up Too Fast And Making Sense

BYW 30 | Making Sense


Are you someone who is driven to solve problems and resolve challenging or complex situations and you often find yourself helping people get unstuck and move progress, your WHY is of making sense. And one with such a purpose is Marva Sadler, COO of She is an experienced business executive and consultant with over 20 years leading strategic and operational growth programs for small to mid-sized organizations. She also has extensive expertise in strategy creation, leadership development and executive coaching. In this episode, she talks about how childhood experience can shape one’s WHYs and shares the perspective of a middle child who developed a unique ability to find solutions quickly and the gift for articulating and summarizing them clearly in understandable language. She also gives us an overview on how their platform allow enterprises to find great coaches and help coaches manage their coaching projects. If you are passionate about making sense out of a situation and developing simple solutions, this is an episode you don’t want to miss!

Watch the episode here

Listen to the podcast here

Marva Sadler: Growing Up Too Fast And Making Sense

In this episode, we are going to be talking about the Why of Make Sense, to make sense out of things, especially if they are complex and complicated. If this is your why, then you were driven to solve problems and resolve challenging and complex situations. You have an uncanny ability to take in lots of data and information. You tend to observe situations and circumstances around you and sort through them to quickly create solutions that are sensible and easy to implement.

You are often viewed as an expert because of your unique ability to find solutions quickly. You also have a gift for articulating solutions and summarizing them clearly in an understandable language. You believe that many people are stuck and that if they could just make sense out of their situation, they could develop simple solutions and move forward. In essence, you help people get unstuck and move forward. I’ve got a great guest for you. Her name is Marva Sadler. She is the COO of She joined the organization in September of 2021 when the company acquired WBECS, where she was CEO.

She is an experienced business executive and consultant with many years of leading strategic and operational growth programs for small to midsize organizations. She also has extensive expertise in strategy creation, leadership development, and executive coaching. Prior to joining WBECS, Marva held executive management positions like CVP, CFO, and CEO in large organizations, including Franklin Covey and AchieveGlobal.

Marva also has substantial experience across a variety of industries, leading small private organizations through startup and turnaround efforts, including positions as CEO of Veracity Solutions, a software development consulting firm, President of Hoggan Health Industries, a commercial fitness equipment manufacturer, and Chief Operating Officer of eLeaderTech, a startup software firm.

She began her career in strategy consulting with international strategy firm Marakon Associates and Bain & Company. She has also served in the nonprofit sector as Program Director for People Helping People, an employment success program for low-income women, primarily single moms, and as a board member and strategic advisor for No More Homeless Pets of Utah. Marva, welcome to the show.

Thanks, Gary. You make me sound much better than I deserve.

That was a mouthful. That tells us that you have done an awful lot in your career so far.

It’s, in part, tied to my why, interestingly.

It’s funny when I was going through your bio there. The positions that you’ve held are all perfect for somebody who has the why of makes sense. That’s why people bring you in. Make sense of this thing and then move forward.

If anybody else picked up on it, I tend to have a little bit of a career ADD. You will notice that there are a lot of different positions in a lot of different industries doing different things because I’m driven by problem-solving. My passion is about, “Let me go find a new problem that I haven’t solved yet.” I’m always drawn to complex problems. If I haven’t solved it yet, it probably means it’s because in an industry I haven’t been in, if I haven’t seen it yet, it’s because it’s a whole new thing.

For those of you that are familiar with the Why OS, the why, how, and what, Marva’s why is to make sense of the complex and challenging. How she does that is by making things simple and easy to understand. Ultimately, what she brings is a way to contribute, add value, and have an impact on the lives of others. How does that feel to you, Marva?

You're killing yourself by working long hours because you're stressing your body so much that it's in complete rejection of everything. Click To Tweet

It feels dead on. I had a friend once when I was at AchieveGlobal. There was an executive meeting I couldn’t attend. She said, “It’s okay, Marva. We will just get a little Marva bubble head doll and set her up on the table. Every five minutes or so, we will pop the head of the bubble doll and say, ‘We need to simplify.'”

Let’s go back to your life now. Take us back to when you were in high school. Where did you grow up? Tell us what you were like in high school. Were people always coming to you as someone to help them with their issues?

No. It’s more of I was going to people to help them with their issues. I will give you a little bit of background that is relevant. I grew up in Utah. That’s already going to create images for people. It’s a pretty conservative state. It has a very hierarchical, prevailing religion, which says, or at least said when I was in high school, “Women should be homemakers and mothers,” and that’s our ultimate responsibility in life.

I had a woman in my neighborhood, the mother of one of my friends, who told me when I was about eighteen that I could go on an LDS mission if I wanted to when I turned 21 but I needed to understand that it would be because I’d already failed at my real mission in life, which was to get married and have children. That was the environment I grew up in. I was, by nature, a bit of a rebel. I thought, “I didn’t get this brain so I could just raise kids and be a baby factory.” I realized that’s a pretty strong statement.

I also came from a family of eight kids. I was number six. I had this very strong need to be seen by my parents because when you are a number 6 out of 8, you are in the middle of the crowd. You are not old enough to have been interesting in the beginning and not young enough to get the attention of being the youngest. My response to that was if there were something that I thought I could excel in, I would go after it because I was looking for something that I could do and excel at, that my parents would go, “Wow.”

Unfortunately, my mother was of Danish origin. Scandinavians basically never say, “Wow.” They always say, “Someone else could have done that.” I would come to her and say I just did and fill in the blank, “I became a National Merit finalist.” Her answer would be, “Your sister already did that.” “I got this big scholarship.” “Your brother already did that.” I kept racking up new things that I would try like debate championships and all kinds of things, trying to find something that one of my siblings hadn’t already done. I admit freely that this obsessive need to excel was based on the fact that I was number 6 out of 8. A lot of my energy went into that.

When you were even younger, say 5, 6 or 7, were you in a position where you had to grow up fast and be more of an adult at a young age?

Absolutely. There was a six-year gap between my next older sister and me, and a six-year gap between my next younger sister and me. My dad got very sick when I was about three. My mom had to go to work to support the family. She would drop me off at the babysitter every day. My siblings did not pick me up after school. They were busy with all their own things. I was at the babysitter until my mother could finally come and get me. It caused a real strong drive for independence on my part. I won’t go into all the details. There were a number of situations where, even at a very young age, I had to rescue myself.

One of the simpler examples was I didn’t like the babysitter because her little boy beat up on me up every day. I was about three. One day, I begged my mother to let me walk to the babysitter because I wanted some time and attention. She was in a hurry, so she tossed me in the car and got in, and I opened the door, and she drove off. I fell off, and she ran over me. She broke my arm. The tire ran over the upper part of my arm and broke my arm. I was lucky it didn’t hit my head. That would have been the end. I ended up with this cast on my arm.

When I went back to the babysitter a few days later, this little boy started beating up on me again. I had complained to the babysitter, and that hadn’t worked. I complained to my mother, and she told me to deal with it. When that task got hard enough, he beat up on me, and I whacked him across the head with that cast. I did that until he left me alone. That was the beginning of me recognizing, “I’m going to have to get myself out of whatever the situations are.” That would be my version of I grew up fast and came to rely on myself very early.

That is interesting because that’s very common. It’s the same story with everybody that has the why of makes sense. I was wondering about it because when you told me where and how you grew up, typically, I will see that scenario play out as one of the parents was a mess and the child had to grow up fast to be the protector of the rest of the family. I was curious how that was going to play out with you. You surprised me because I thought maybe it wasn’t going to play out that way but you did have to do the same thing. You were the one that you had to protect.

BYW 30 | Making Sense
Making Sense: Our job is to be the marketplace that brings the two together. We give you access to a lot of great assessments, products, and education so that you can continue to develop your skills.


Let me tell you the rest of the story. I got these 5 older siblings and 2 younger siblings. My mother was 45 when my youngest sister was born. She was done before I was born. She was just done. My dad was 51 when my youngest sister was born. They got to a point where he was off doing consulting work for Armco Steel. He would take my mother with him. As soon as I got to the point where I could drive, I became the surrogate parent for my two little sisters. They would leave us for weeks at a time.

They would leave me with grocery money, tell me to behave myself, and make sure the girls got up, got to school, came home, and were fed. I would take care of them for 2 or 3 weeks at a time. My parents would come back, wave, say hello, and disappear again. That went on through college. My one younger sister, she and my mom didn’t get along. I would go home every weekend when I was in college just to take the pressure off my little sister. When I moved away after graduate school, I invited her to come to live with me for a while so that we could break that cycle and she could gain some independence and learn to do some things on her own.

I remember my older siblings. When my little sister went on an LDS mission, we all congregated to hear her say her farewell. One of my sisters came up to me and said, “I thought you were a selfish witch to ask her to be your nanny because I thought you were doing it entirely for yourself so that you would have cheap childcare. I now realize that wasn’t your motivation at all. You were trying to get her out of a bad situation so that she could change the way she felt about herself. Look at what you’ve done. She’s now ready to fly.” I find it sad that my family would have that attitude about me, that I would be that selfish. My little sister doesn’t feel that way about me. I guess it’s okay.

I can imagine that even way back when you were good at what you did, were very capable, and had a high capacity because that’s right in line with the why of make sense. Other people can look at that and think, “She thinks she knows it all. She thinks she’s all this.” You were forced into that situation.

I leaned into it. There must have been something in my nature, to begin with, that caused me to find that as my solution and problem solving instead of withdrawing or being a victim. I chose that way to deal with it.

Where did you go to college? You went to BYU, right?

I went to BYU for both my undergraduate and graduate degree.

You got your undergrad at BYU. What was your graduate degree?

I got my undergraduate degree in Broadcast Journalism. I wanted to be the next Woodward or Bernstein. I loved journalism and broadcasting. I thought I was going to be a famous TV news anchor. I then fell in love with radio and realized that radio had the benefit of anonymity but also a lot more creativity. I wrote documentaries for a radio station for about a year and a half in New York City. I went back to graduate school thinking I would become a business journalist because business journalism was a big deal.

I figured that’s how I could make money. I fell in love with the business. I thought, “Where have you been in my life?” The world makes sense to me. It seemed like a whole series of problem-solving that I could use. Instead of just reporting about businesses and the problems they were having, I could get involved and solve the problems that they were having. I found it that much more interesting.

Did you start a business or did you become a business consultant?

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I became a Strategy Consultant with Bain & Company. I got recruited by the famous Mitt Romney himself right out of grad school.

What was that like for you?

It was a mixture of heaven and hell. From an intellectual perspective, it was fabulous. I interacted every day with the smartest people on the planet who were driven the way I was to solve problems, find simplicity, understand patterns, and find solutions. From that perspective, it was amazing. From the human perspective, it was tough.

I was the first female consultant who had children because, by the time I got out of graduate school, I had one child. I had him right after I finished graduate school. I then stayed and taught for a year while my husband finished his undergraduate. By the time I was done with that, I had two kids. I started as a strategy consultant with two children, which was unheard of for a female. From a personal perspective, it was hard.

To give you an idea, this was back in the early ’80s. I had a manager who finally came to me one day and said, “Marva, you are better than getting experience.” He said, “I tried to put you on a project that I thought you would be good at. The managing director wouldn’t let me do it because he said you are not allowed to travel.” I said, “What?” He said, “He’s made this decision because you have kids, you shouldn’t ever travel. You’re never going to get on a project that takes you away from home.” Being me, I walked down to the managing director’s office, knocked on his door, and said, “Can I have a minute of your time?” He was a little surprised to see me. He then invited me in.

I stood there in his office and said, “I understand you’ve made a decision about the direction of my career and that you’ve decided that because I’m a mother, I can’t travel.” He said, “I was doing you a favor.” I said, “No, you weren’t. You are killing my career. It’s none of your business. I have the right to make that decision for myself. It is not your decision to make.” I literally used those words.

He stood there and said, “I was trying to do you a favor.” I said, “That is not a favor. You have put me on the mommy track. It’s not your decision to make. I would appreciate it if you would withdraw that restriction.” In retaliation, he put me on a project that he thought was going to take me to France. I went but it was a turning point in my career because I was no longer on that mommy track. I was headed towards failure. I wasn’t willing to accept that.

You weren’t getting valued for who you were but held back because you had kids.

It was my decision to make. It was my problem to solve. It was not something that I needed somebody else to solve for me.

You were there for how long?

I was there for almost five years.

BYW 30 | Making Sense
Making Sense: A better way to scale coaching is to take the administrivia out of the coaching so that coaches could spend more of their time coaching and less of their time in all the administration and management functions of coaching.


Where did you go? Keep us going on your path.

I then took a leave of absence because I was pregnant with my third child and had some complications. I couldn’t work for a while. At that time, my husband was working for NYNEX, which was one of the big Baby Bells that then became Verizon. He was working there with an international development group. He got transferred to White Plains, New York. We moved to New York.

I took a long bit of a sabbatical and went back to work for a strategy firm called Marakon Associates, which were the inventors of value-based management, which was the marriage of strategy with financial parameters. The idea was that you could create long-term strategies based on projected cashflows. You could understand what the drivers were of a business by understanding what created cashflows because the value is all created in cashflow, not in revenue or profits.

It was a very new concept at that time.

It was a pretty new concept. The reason they were interested in me is that they wanted to understand how Bain did strategy work. They only did financial strategy work at the time. I had been a Manager at Bain on my way towards partner when I left. I joined Marakon as a Manager and helped them understand how you could apply these financial rules to developing strategies. It was a lot of fun. I got a reputation of being the person who would take brand new projects nobody had ever heard of and figure out how to turn them into a solution that we could then replicate and that we could use the new concept that had been developed to sell to another client.

That didn’t surprise me at all. You were there for how long?

I was there for three and a half years.

After that, where did you go?

I then had a personal epiphany. I was living in New York in the Hudson River Valley. I developed some symptoms that looked very much like multiple sclerosis. I was losing feeling in my hands and feet. I was losing sight in one eye. I had some pretty serious health problems. I went to a neurologist who told me I had MS. He said, “It’s chronic, progressive, and debilitating. You will be in a wheelchair and die. I suggest you try to figure out how you are going to take care of your kids.”

I wouldn’t accept that. I thought, “At least maybe I can slow it down if I take care of some of the other issues I have.” I went to see a good allergist who said, “The good news is you don’t have multiple sclerosis. The bad news is you are killing yourself because you’ve stressed your body so much, working twenty-hour days for so long that your body is in complete rejection of everything. You are going to have to change your eating, lifestyle, where you live, and everything else but I can make you healthy again.”

I got to where I was doing a lot better. I thought I was going to tough it out. It turned out that one of my kids got very sick from a spider bite. Once he was out of the hospital, I took him to see this allergist. The allergist looked at me after he tested him. He said, “If you won’t get out of here for yourself, get out of here for your kids because they’ve got the same issues. You need to go someplace that freezes hard in the winter and doesn’t have mold in the air.” He had a couple of other stipulations. We then moved back to Utah.

If your WHY is making sense, you’ll have a tendency to give advice more than you should. Click To Tweet

We moved back to Utah partly to take care of my parents because I took care of my sisters. I’m the caregiver. We went back to take care of my parents. I started a PhD program in Finance at the University of Utah and realized I was not cut out to be an academic. I had professors who would talk about these theories and then go, “We are PhDs. We don’t need to use them. Those stupid MBAs would ask how would I use this theory but as PhDs, we just need to know it’s a theory.” I raised my hand one day and said, “I’ve used that theory.” The professor said, “Really? Somebody uses this crap?” I thought, “I don’t belong here.” I went back to consulting for IBM.

You took a step back to consulting for IBM. How was that for you?

It was a lot of fun. I saw a lot of the world. I ran a program to teach IBM executives in the Asia Pacific how to do services consulting instead of how to sell boxes. I got to see a lot of Asia. I then took it around to the ISSC, the services corporation that was a division inside the US. From there, I did a couple of other things. My husband and I bought a historic Woolen Mill in Northern Utah and brought it back into operation.

Why would you do that?

It was something he wanted to do. I realized that he wasn’t going to be able to do it without my operational knowledge. We did that for about five years.

Did you eventually get into coaching?

I eventually went back to work as a Finance Director for what became AchieveGlobal, then became the CFO at AchieveGlobal. From AchieveGlobal, I went to Franklin Covey as an Executive Vice President. Training is the poor cousin to coaching. Those of us who were in the training business knew that coaching could eat us for lunch any day because the results were better. That’s how I got from training into professional services and by way of a couple of detours. That’s where my background came from that I ended up in coaching.

Were you ever a coach? Were you out coaching other people or mainly working with groups of coaches?

I have never been a coach. I tell people I’m much more of a consultant than a coach. I don’t have formal coach training. I have done a lot of small business consulting in my time where I take the entrepreneur or the small team and help them think through how to think about their business differently. A lot of that ends up being leadership coaching but I’m not going to call myself a coach because I don’t have that classic training. Given my why, I have a tendency to give advice more than I should.

From WBECS, you got to as they got bought out. I don’t know if you remember what I said to you way back years ago now when we were talking. It was before all the dot-com happened.

It was in the midst of trying to sell the company but I couldn’t tell you that at the time.

BYW 30 | Making Sense
Making Sense: Does it need to be said, does it need to be said by you, because as the leader, they’re all going to have to agree with you. And even if it needs to be said, does it need to be said in that public forum, or is there some other way that you could have that conversation with an individual?


You were the CEO but whoever gets you is going to be awfully lucky because you are that person that’s going to help them solve all. You can take in much stuff and simplify it down to where it’s useful so that it can have an impact on their lives. It shows up everywhere in your life from the time you were twelve years old or younger, even.

Maybe younger. It’s a theme.

You have been coaching since you were the mother to your two sisters because of what you did for them. You coached them through a lot of stuff.

My little sister was saying something to me. She was asking me something about childhood. I had said, “I went to the babysitter for years. Nobody would come and pick me up.” She said, “My family would never have done that to me.” She looked at me and said, “That’s because you are my family.” I said, “It’s because I knew what it felt like. I would never desert you like that or leave you to your own devices.”

Are your parents still alive?

No. Do you think I would have said those things if they were still alive? I was responsible for taking care of my parents for almost twenty years. I didn’t live with them but I lived around the corner from them so that I could pay attention to them for several years. My dad got sick, and we worked through that. I had to put my mom in an assisted living center. I was responsible all that time. Once my mom died, I took over the financial responsibility for my oldest sister and did that for about ten years before she passed away.

Here’s a question I have. Have you ever had a time in your life when life was easy, where it wasn’t a whole lot of stuff coming at you all the time? Has that ever happened?

Does that ever happen to anybody, honestly?

I think so. You’ve probably had opportunities where things could have slowed down but then, “I decided I was going to get my PhD.” You take on massive things, not just like, “I will learn how to knit,” or something. It’s more like, “I’m going to go get my PhD. I will consult with IBM.” Those are not minor little excursions for most people.

Those are direct, intentional choices that I’m making. I will give you an example of what I do in my spare time. I watched a YouTube video and learned how to create a drip irrigation system for my flower beds because it has been hot here in the Columbia River Gorge where I live. I bought this stuff. Every night, I build 1 irrigation system for 1 of my flower beds. I then called a mulch company and had them deliver 7 cubic yards of tree bark. Once I build the irrigation system, then I put the tree bark down.

That’s what I do for recreation. It’s a choice that I’m making. Quite honestly, I don’t know what to do with my time if I’m not doing something interesting and challenging where I’m learning something new. That, to me, is boring. My youngest son said to me, “Mom, you have two gears, neutral and overdrive. You are either in complete overdrive where you are going or sitting very quietly reading something, doing nothing. You don’t have anything in between.” is not in the business of brokering specific coaches. We're in the business of matchmaking. Click To Tweet

Tell us about It bought out WBECS. How are they different? We have a lot of coaches that read but for those people that don’t know, tell us what WBECS and were.

WBECS was known for the World Business & Executive Coach Summit, an annual free summit that we run for three weeks in June 2022, which features the world’s best coaching and leadership thought leaders. This 2022, Susan David was one of our headliners. Susan David is considered one of the Top 10 Thinkers in the world now. We attract some pretty impressive people. Last 2021, our headliner was Adam Grant. I measure my success by whether my children have ever heard of these people. My daughter, I had dinner with her.

She was shrugging over Ray Dalio because Ray Dalio was also one of our headliners. She was like, “I’ve never heard of him.” She’s a doctor, so she doesn’t care about business. When I got to Susan David, she knew who Susan David was. When I got to Adam Grant, she was impressed. I thought, “I’ve succeeded. My daughter is impressed with something that I’ve done.” That’s what WBECS is most famous for. We have a database of about 100,000 coaches, primarily independent solopreneurs and in the business leadership executive coaching arena. We also run high-end educational programs that we run live and virtual globally.

We’ve had people from 140 countries take our programs with thought leaders like David Peterson or David Drake, who are well known in coaching for being independent, creative, and innovative, thought leaders in areas of coaching. That’s what we are known for. It’s this business-to-coach orientation with this great database of coaches and educational content. is a software platform. Their primary focus has always been on creating a coach management system for large enterprises that have big coaching projects to be able to manage those coaching projects in a way where they can track and manage the coaches, coaching sessions, and the feedback. They can do all that. They were very good at technology and software.

WBECS was very good at education and marketing. We put the two together so that we could have a two-sided ecosystem with the emphasis from on the enterprises and the emphasis from WBECS on the coaches to try to persuade the coaches to get on the coach version of the platform so that the enterprises could access these great coaches. Enterprises are always asking, “Is there an easier way for us to find coaches for our executives? Is there a way for us to find qualified coaches that we don’t have to go and contract with them individually or whatever?”

We are a little bit better than a lot of people compare us to or ASAP. We are neutral. We are not trying to tell the coach how to coach, what to coach, how to price or what kind of coaching to do. We are saying, “Put yourself on the platform and tell people what your specialty is.” With the enterprises, we are saying, “Go and find the coach you want to find, either contract with them directly or through a coaching company that represents a group of coaches.” Our job is to be the marketplace that brings the two together.

We are never going to take sides around which methodology you should use or what training you should get. We are going to say, “We are going to give you access to a lot of great assessments, products, and education so that you can continue to develop your skills.” For the enterprises, they can say what their criteria are, and the coaches can meet those criteria. We are not in the business of brokering specific coaches. We are in the business of matchmaking. It’s like a dating platform for the coaching and the people who use coaching. Everything that we’ve done since then has been to build on that business model.

We are now in the midst of creating partnerships with organizations that have things that are very useful to the coaches, enterprises or users of coaching so that we can create a closed system. By getting the education or the certification, the coach also becomes part of the platform. They can sell their coaching based on the fact that they are certified to do that coaching.

We are trying to find a way to create more of a marketplace for coaches. At WBECS, our mission was to raise the global standard of coaching. One of the ways that you have to do that is to create opportunities for coaches to get better at coaching but also create opportunities for coaches to do more coaching so that they can get better and get paid for what they do.

You are speaking my language. That is for sure. has been around for how long?

Marshall Goldsmith said “Ask yourself the questions: Does it need to be said? Do you need to say it? Does it need to be said now?” Click To Tweet started in 2012 as Coach Logics, Inc. Alex Pascal, the Owner, and CEO was a PhD IO Psychologist. He worked for the Center for Creative Leadership, CCL. He had this notion that there were better ways to scale coaching to take the administrivia out of the coaching so that coaches could spend more of their time coaching and less of their time in all the administration and management functions of coaching. That’s what the platform is intended to do. It’s to streamline all that and make the connections to the people they coach much easier to manage so that they can become much more effective coaches and spend a higher proportion of their time coaching.

For those coaches that are reading, head over to and take a look at it.

It’s because the first level of use of the platform is completely free. They can have access to scheduling, feedback, calendaring, and even a paywall. They can have access to all of that and not pay anything to be on the platform. They can put up their profiles so that they can be viewed by the enterprise clients within a month or so by external people looking for coaches. They can learn a lot from our marketplace.

The first step is free. They get access to all the stuff to help them run their business. If they want more, they can get into the education, certification, and different areas to help them grow and be able to offer more. I got one last question for you. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever given or the best piece of advice ever given to you?

The best piece of advice that was ever given to me was given to a lot of people, not just me. Marshall Goldsmith said, “Ask yourself the question, ‘Does it need to be said? Do you need to say it? Does it need to be said now?'” Since I’m a person who has a tendency to be a know-it-all and want to give the solution and frequently see the solution before other people see it, I don’t mean that in an arrogant way, although I’m pretty sure it sounds pretty arrogant.

As a leader, it’s easy for me to just jump in and solve the problem for people. I have those questions up where I can see them. If people can get to the answer themselves, even if it’s not exactly what the answer would be that I would get to, it’s more powerful for them. They learn more. It’s easier for them to implement. We get more creativity out of the group if I don’t step in and give them the answer.

I try to remember that. “Does it need to be said by me?” It’s because, as the leader, they are all going to have to agree with me. “Even if it needs to be said, and by me, does it need to be said in this public forum? Is there some other way I could have that conversation with an individual?” That is probably the best advice that I’ve received that I use on a regular basis.

That was super helpful because that’s a big challenge. Everybody with the why of makes sense said what you just said right there, “They are way ahead of the rest of us. You have to dumb yourself down to let us catch up.” What happened to you when you didn’t follow that series of questions or ignored that?

Mostly, I feel bad because it shuts down the conversation. It shuts down creativity. It ends the development of the individuals. I’m dedicated to people’s professional development. I disappoint myself because I cut off avenues to growth. Frequently, if I give the answer, it takes us longer to get there because anybody who has a different answer, feels like they have to justify a different answer because they are now combating the person that’s the leader instead of just offering an idea.

It’s fascinating because people with the why of making sense are so capable, have a such high capacity, are so fast, and good at doing almost anything that people stop doing what they can do and leave it for you to do because you are going to do it better and faster anyway. You then become the bottleneck. Your capacity becomes the level at which we can grow.

It’s because people are all waiting for me to give them an answer. The way to solve that is to quit giving answers and start saying, “I trust you. What do you think? You are more of an expert in this area than I am. What is your recommendation?” Handing it back to people is one of the hardest things I do every day.

As a leader, people are all waiting for you to give an answer. But the way to solve that is to quit giving answers, start showing trust in your team’s expertise and ask for their recommendations. Click To Tweet

I can imagine because we had somebody on our team with your why. He was so good at everything that I ended up finally watching him. I just sit and watch him like, “You do it because you are going to do it better, faster, quicker, and easier than I am.” He ended up becoming the bottleneck. We ended up having to part ways because we could only grow as fast as he had capacity.

If I can help other people get to where they contribute and somehow spread that, then my influence is significantly greater than if I’m the one that’s making all the decisions or taking all the actions.

I have been looking forward to our conversation for a long time because we talked long before about doing this. It’s taken us a while to get into it but had I not known your Why OS? If I had seen your picture, let’s say I’m looking through LinkedIn and, “There’s Marva Sadler right there. There’s your picture.” Could I tell from your picture, bio or anything that you have available to me any of this stuff about you? Is there any way I would have known just looking at your picture?

From the bio, probably yes. Looking at my picture, that’s a pretty deceptive picture. It’s probably the one picture I’ve ever had taken of me where I look like I’m having a good time because I always look like I don’t trust the camera.

It’s fascinating because even though I knew your why of make sense, I was curious to see how it all is played out. It makes total sense now that I know your history and how you grew up. I learned a lot more and our audience as well. No way I would have been able to tell that from your picture or probably even if I watched a video of you speaking somewhere. It would be very challenging. Now that I know, it makes communicating, connecting, and understanding you so much easier.

Frankly, if you had laid out the whys in front of me and said, “Pick which one is you,” I’m not sure if I would have been able to accurately say, “This one is me. This is my how.” As soon as I read the descriptions after I had taken the test, I was like, “That makes a lot of sense.”

Marva, if there are people that want to connect with you, follow you, or follow, what’s the best way for them to connect with you?

They can certainly find me on LinkedIn. That’s probably the easiest way. They can also find on LinkedIn. They are also welcome to email me. I don’t always get back right away but I try to answer emails regularly. It’s simple. It’s

Marva, thank you so much for being here. I enjoyed our conversation. I look forward to staying in touch and working with you guys because you got a great organization there. It’s growing leaps and bounds now.

We are on the fast track. It’s so exciting. There are so many things that we are doing that the merger created the ability for us to take paths that neither one of us could have taken on our own.

That’s awesome. Thank you so much for being here.

Thank you.


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About Marva Sadler

BYW 30 | Making SenseMs. Sadler is COO of She joined the organization in September 2021 when the company acquired WBECS, where she was CEO. She is an experienced business executive and consultant with over 20 years leading strategic and operational growth programs for small to mid-sized organizations. She also has extensive expertise in strategy creation, leadership development and executive coaching. Prior to joining WBECS, Ms. Sadler held executive management positions (EVP, CFO, and CEO) in large organizations, including Franklin Covey, and Achieve Global, Ms. Sadler also has substantial experience across a variety of industries, leading small, private organizations through start-up and turnaround efforts, including positions as CEO of Veracity Solutions, Inc., a software development consulting firm, President of Hoggan Health Industries, a commercial fitness equipment manufacturer, and Chief Operating Officer of eLeaderTech, a start-up software firm. She began her career in strategy consulting with international strategy firms Marakon Associates, and Bain and Co. She has also served in the nonprofit sector as Program Director for People Helping People, an employment success program for low-income women, primarily single moms, and as a Board Member and strategic advisor for No More Homeless Pets of Utah. Ms. Sadler is a certified Theory of Constraints Jonah.