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How To Simplify Your Life Through Entrepreneurship With Yaro Starak

BYW 43 | Simplify Life

 

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

 

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

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How To Simplify Your Life Through Entrepreneurship With Yaro Starak

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Say it one more time.

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

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

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

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

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

How do you feel about complexity then?

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

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

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

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About Yaro Starak

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

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

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

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Podcast

Finding What Drives You: Making Sense Of Your Problems With Dr. Matt Chalmers

BYW 42 | Making Sense

 

Dr. Matt Chalmers has been fixing and aligning spines for a long time. He is the owner of Chalmers Wellness and believes that if there is a problem in your body, you need to understand it before you can fix it. Being a chiropractor has helped him in making sense of the complex and challenging. By making sense of these, he is able to live a purpose-driven life. Join Dr. Matt Chalmers sit down with host Dr. Gary Sanchez to talk about his Why of Making Sense of the Complex and Challenging. Learn how to relieve stress because that is the most unhealthy thing a person can do to themselves. Understand how to fix your physical and mental problems. Also, find out what drives you because only then will you find your purpose.

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Finding What Drives You: Making Sense Of Your Problems With Dr. Matt Chalmers

In this episode, we’re going to be talking about the why of making sense, to make sense of the complex and challenging. If this is your why, then you are driven to solve problems and resolve challenging or complex situations. You have an uncanny ability to take in lots of data and information. You tend to observe situations and circumstances around you and then sort through them quickly to create solutions that are sensible and easy to implement.

Often, you are 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 understandable language. You believe that many people are stuck and that if they could 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. His name is Dr. Matt Chalmers. He received his Degree of Doctor of Chiropractic from Parker Chiropractic College in Dallas. Shortly after graduation, he started postgraduate and work in the field of neurology and is now a Certified Clinical Chiropractic Neurologist. Dr. Chalmers also received Certification in Spinal Decompression for the Management of Disc Pain, making him one of only a handful of doctors in the Dallas Metroplex to have such a certification.

Dr. Chalmers has been an athlete all his life and enjoys working with athletes and their families. Nutrition is a large part of a healthy lifestyle. As such, Chalmers Wellness offers a wide range of dietary counseling for weight loss to weight gain. Chalmers Wellness also offers a large variety of nutritional supplements to help improve the overall wellness of the entire family.

Dr. Chalmers, welcome to the show.

Thanks for having me. It’s fun.

Tell us a little bit about how you got into chiropractic in the first place. Give us a little bit of your history. What were you like in high school, got into college, and then ended up going into chiropractic? How did you pick that?

My whole family is engineers. The whole take data and solve problems is in my genetics. I didn’t want to be an engineer. My whole family is in the oil field business. I saw that and I was like, “That’s not for me.” I was going to be a medical doctor. I wanted to either be an internist or a surgeon or something like that. When I was in high school, I played football. I hurt my back and I couldn’t walk, so I went and saw orthopedic surgeons, neurosurgeons, pain specialists, and radiologists. If you had a license to look at people, I saw you. At the end of the day, they see this 155-pound kid that looked like he’d never seen the sun. They tell me that there’s nothing wrong with me and I was making it up because I didn’t want to play football anymore.

Being a chiropractor is a calling, not something you get into for fun. Click To Tweet

At that time, I was bench pressing 400 pounds and squatting about 600 pounds. I remember looking at the guy and be like, “If I can reach you, I’ll break you in half.” He was astounded that calling me a liar and a fraud would somehow make me a little upset. I called my football coach and I’m like, “I can’t walk and play ball.” He’s like, “Go and see our team chiropractor.” Because of the way faith works, I remember to this day telling him, “I need a doctor and not a massage.” He was like, “Go see him.” I was like, “Fine.”

My parents carried me in. He takes the same X-rays the MDs had for an hour or so. He clips it on the board and goes, “It’s right there.” He put me on my side, adjust me, I got up, I hobbled out, and I could practice three days later. I was like, “Maybe there’s something else to this whole world than what I thought.” The cool thing is about two weeks after that, I asked him a question about the body and he goes, “I don’t know the answer to that but I’ll find out.”

It took about another ten days and I go back in, and he’s like, “Remember that question you asked me last time? I researched and figured out the answer. Here’s your answer.” I was like, “All of those surgeons and medical guys couldn’t figure that problem out and so they said it was my fault.” These guys didn’t know the answer to something, so they went and researched it and looked it up. I was like, “This is the path I want to go down.” That’s why I became a chiropractor.

That was my whole deal, which is funny because when we got to chiropractic school, Dr. Stern comes up and he’s like, “Who here has a family who is chiropractors?” People raised their hands. He said, “Who’s here has his life radically altered for the better because of chiropractic?” We raised our hands and he’s like, “If your hand didn’t go up, you should drop out now. You’re not going to make it. This is too hard.” There were about 2/3 of the people who raise their hands and when we graduated, a whole 1/3 of us were gone. Chiropractic is a calling. It’s not necessarily, to me, you get into it for fun. It’s been really helpful for a lot of the stuff we do, so it’s been great.

Do you find people either believe it or they don’t?

It’s funny because we’ve been working with many people and I have many medical doctors as patients either for the nutrition piece or for the chiropractic piece. I get a lot of people who come in and tell me, “I don’t understand what you do. I don’t see why it works but this person sent me in. My wife told me I needed to come in.” 3 or 4 visits later, they’re like, “I still don’t understand how this popping thing works but I feel a lot better. Obviously, what you’re doing does something.”

It’s hard because even a lot of the standard medical doctors don’t have the education in neurology to understand muscle spindle fiber, Golgi tendon function, how the change in tone happens and the pressure on nerves goes away. It’s quite involved but it’s one of those things that people are starting to come around because they’ve seen the evidence in their friends and themselves, and they’re like, “I can’t tell you how it works but it does, so I’m going to come and do it.” That’s been helpful.

I’m a big believer in chiropractic because I had years and years of back pain. I did a similar path to what you were talking about, I went to every other kind of doctor you could imagine and nothing worked but chiropractic did. That was a godsend for me. When I have a problem with my back, that’s where I go because it’s fast too. It’s not years of talking about it, X-rays, medications, muscle relaxers, and all of the rest. It’s like, “Let’s get it figured out now,” which I like.

BYW 42 | Making Sense
Making Sense: To be a chiropractor is all about making sense of complex and challenging things. Once you help people solve their problems, they move forward faster.

 

When I did my why with your testing, I was like, “This is 100% me.” If I do something and it works, that’s great but I have to know why. I have to figure out what was it that the real problem was. How do I fix this? The thing is that if I understand why then when somebody else comes, I can be like, “I know what’s wrong with you but I have to attack it from a different angle.” That’s the way that we solve things. If you do something and it works but you don’t know, how are you going to replicate that if it doesn’t work the same way next time? It was funny when I read that from all the nutrition we do and for all the physiology work or even in chiropractic that we do, it was like, “This is the first time I’ve taken any type of tests like this and it’s nailed down exactly the things that drive me like this.” I’ve never done anything that was even remotely close but this was 100% on.

The great thing about what you do is it’s in line with why you do what you do. You’re that person that is great at solving problems and you love to solve them. The more challenging, the better. If what you choose to do with your life is in line with your why, you will have passion for what you do. That’s where passion comes from. You’re the perfect example of that.

We talk about purpose and people ask me all the time, “How do you wake up at 4:00 AM every day and research and read for two hours before you get to work? Doesn’t that get boring?” I’m like, “No. I love what I do.” There’s a lot of times where I’ll be reading a research article and be irritated that I have to quit reading it so I can get ready for work. I remember the first time I did this, somebody asked me a question about testosterone, steroids, and that type of thing and I had no idea. This is the day that I started chiropractic school, so I didn’t have any real education. I remember this day, he was like, “I thought you’re going to be a doctor. You don’t know any of this stuff.” I was like, “I can’t be that guy.” I went and bought a medical textbook and read it cover-to-cover because I had to be able to solve these problems. If someone comes to me with an issue like this, I have to be able to fix it. It was telling and, in my opinion, humorous how much this test nailed who I was.

Something that you can think about is that is why I would choose you. How many chiropractors are there in your area? Probably plenty, right?

There are lots. In the gas stations, there’s one in every corner up here.

The question for the general public would be, “I need a chiropractor. Where should I go? Who should I choose?” The question is, “Why would I choose Dr. Chalmers?” From now knowing your why, when it comes to your message to what you articulate to the public, it’s all about making sense of the complex and challenging so that you can help people solve their problems and move forward faster. You do that now by knowing so much. You dive deep into the different subjects that you are the expert. You know as much if not more than the medical doctor, probably more because you’ve had time to look into it and that’s why I would choose you.

That’s oftentimes the big thing is because I care. It’s why did this thing happen? When we talk about how gallstones don’t exist, you have to understand what happened. It’s a liver issue. You had to do the research. You have to care enough to always have to know what’s the next step. Talk about making complex things into integrated plans. When we look at IBS and celiac and stuff like that, it’s like, “We have to clean the liver first for these reasons and the kidneys for these reasons. We have to clean the gut and kill the parasites, kill the yeast, bring the probiotics back up, and repair the gut lining.” All the stuff in the body, we have to do it in this order for these reasons in this way. As I said, that’s me. I take something complex and I crunch it down into specific, easy-to-do steps. I’ve never seen anything that came back and was able to explain how I do things like this.

Take us back now. When you were in high school, you got injured, you couldn’t play, went to the chiropractor, and got healthy. Did you get to continue to play? Did you play after high school or did you go off more into the medical realm?

If you don't know how to deal with something, understand it from a different angle. Click To Tweet

What ended up happening was I got offers from all over the place to play but I knew that I couldn’t study the way I needed to, play the way I wanted to, and do all the things that are in college life and play football. I was like, “One of these has got to give. I know I’m not going pro, so I’m going to let the football thing go because I’m going to be the doctor. I got to go do that.” That’s what I end up doing. I decided to focus down on that. I kept taking physiology classes and that was my big thing because that’s how the engine works or the machine works. That was obviously why that appealed to me so much. It’s because I had to know how the system worked if I was going to be able to sit down and take it apart and put it back together. I had way more physiology classes than I had to but that was the big piece.

As we started going through, people started coming up to me and they’re like, “I’ve got fibromyalgia. How do we fix that?” “I don’t know.” I started going to the seminars and support groups figuring out what worked and what didn’t work. Now, that’s how I figured out how to fix fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. When we went through with the neurology and I started working with all my athletes, that’s how I figured out how to fix carpal tunnel and plantar fasciitis. There’s a lot of these things that if you sit down and understand how the system works and ask questions like, “How did it break?” Break it down into like a system, “Where does this thing go wrong? Why does it go wrong like that?” You can easily go like, “This is the point that broke. Fix that and everything after fixes itself.” That’s how everything has gone for us as far as the direction that we’ve taken to the practices.

You can tell me, “Vitamin C does this.” “Great. Why does it do that?” “You should take D3.” “Why?” It’s one of those things where not a lot of people understand that D3 works as a hormone helping absorb nutrients and then directing them where they need to go in the body, which it’s why if you get sick, you instantly run out of D3. Your body is saying, “Absorb all those chloride ions and bring them up here. We need to make more white blood cells.” As soon as you run out of D3, the messenger that’s telling the body what to do is gone. If you don’t keep your D3 up, that’s why. It’s those little things. That’s who I am and that’s what keeps driving this forward of like, “You bring me a new issue. I have to figure out what’s wrong.”

When we went to COVID, this is one of the few extra plural problems, which is why venting doesn’t do any good, you have to use hyperbaric, and you also see the breakdown of red blood cells. The other thing that we had like that is malaria, which is why quinine helps so much. It’s little things like that. As we go through, we take a problem and we pick it apart. Where did the system break? How’s this chain work? How do we build a process to repair it? That’s how we’ve done everything.

For those of you that are reading, Dr. Chalmers looks like he’s a football player still. He’s got 28-inch biceps but I don’t even know how big of a chest he has. The question that comes to mind for me is you went into chiropractic and from the outside perspective, chiropractic is all adjusting the spine, crack, pop, get everything lined up, get all the nerves, and all that working. How do you then take that? You’re one of the chiropractors I can tell already that’s gone to a completely different level than a typical chiropractor. Why did chiropractic then start to incorporate nutrition, stem cells, and all the other things that you guys are doing from traditional crack and pop?

As an athlete, I’ve always been looking at what supplements are going to improve my functionality. What do I need to eat? How does biochemistry work? I’m 6 or 8 hours short of a Chemistry Degree. I’ve had lots and lots of chemistry. That’s been one of the big pieces of how’s this works. I have that entrepreneur style of mind. When I see a market niche that’s completely open, I have to be like, “No one is playing here. I got to go figure this out.” It’s for nobody else but me and my family. Why are we taking the supplements we’re taking? What’s going on? How do I make my body work better?

Anyone in the bodybuilding and athletic community understands how critical diet is. As an athlete, it’s one of those things that you cannot be talking about diet if you’re in the healthcare field and you’re an athlete because that’s all it is. A lot of my medical doctor friends come over and work with me for themselves and they send their patients over to get that piece to reset because if you don’t know the chemicals that the body needs to run, it isn’t run right. That’s a big piece.

That’s evolved, at least for me, in the natural space of, “If I don’t feel good or if I want to have great health when I’m 75 or 80, what do I have to do now to make sure that I’m on the right path?” That has a ton to do with nutrition. That’s where this is all coming together. I have this end goal of being active when I’m 80. How do I get there? I had to build a system to get there and biochemistry was the system that I’m using. That’s where a lot of that came from.

You said way back that you were going to become a doctor. I’m sure at that point, you thought the medical doctor. You were then exposed to chiropractic and you went that route. It seems like you’re now going back towards chiropractic and where you do more than to adjust the spine.

BYW 42 | Making Sense
Making Sense: If there is a problem, sit down and understand how the system works. Then ask questions and find the root of the problem. Fix that problem and everything after it fixes itself.

 

I have a bunch of Eastern and Western medicine guys and they both make fun of me. They’re like, “You’re the only guy on Earth that’s going to talk about coffee enemas and injectable medical testosterone in the same visit.” I’m like, “We need them both.” You got to clean the liver. Your heart, brain, and bones need to function. At a certain point, we’re all going to have at least this conversation. I’ll have that conversation because it’s what the body needs. I tell people, “I’m more of a physiologist than I am anything else.” If it helps the body get better, it gets to play.

If you come in with a herniated disk, we’re going to talk about pain injections because those pain injections decrease inflammation and spasm and allowing me to do the physical work that’s required to keep you off the surgeon’s table. You integrate these things and you use the greatness of everything that’s around you to fix them. We do tons of medical testing like MRIs, calcium CTs, sleep studies, and all those things. At the same time, we’re resting metabolic rates. We always go back through it after the medical steps. What do we need to do to your chemistry to get you where you need to go? How do we make all of these things fit together into a nice little box where everything is set up and ready to go? The core of the piece is you can make an argument that I’m mixed.

I own a hormone therapy company so you can easily say that I’ve incorporated a lot of medicine. I have but it’s whatever works to get us from point A to point B. How do we get to our goal? What’s the fastest and easiest way to get to our goal? We’re then going to design a system that takes us from here to there in the cheapest, best, fastest and safest possible path. That’s how we set it up. A lot of times, if you come in and you got a yeast overgrowth, we can do Biocidin, black cumin seed oil, and all sorts of things. You can spend a couple of hundred bucks over a couple of months or you can take Diflucan or nystatin for $10 with insurance and the next month, we’re good to go and we can repopulate the gut with probiotics. You can use both. It’s just what’s the best thing for your specific program?

I’m going to ask you what I think is a tough question. If you could only pick one thing that makes the biggest difference in achieving health or being healthy, what would that one thing be? Is it nutrition, fitness, blood chemistry, supplements, sunlight, or sleep? What do you think is the one thing that makes the biggest difference in health versus non-health?

That’s pretty easy. It’s offsetting or eliminating your stress. Psychological stress changes the body unbelievably. We have sympathetic and parasympathetic. One is fight-or-flight and one is rest and digest. If you can figure out how to get your stress managed, so your sympathetic nervous system is not always dominant, parasympathetic is a massive benefit. You see those guys who smoke, drink, and eat bad food but they lived to their 90 because they don’t give a damn. They’re like, “I’m going to me. I’m going to live my life. Things are going to happen the way I’m going to let them happen.” They’re like, “How are they healthy? This guy exercises and eats right.” He’s also stressed out. He’s type A and freaking out about everything every day, watching every single calorie and doing everything. He’s super high-strung but this guy is not so much. That’s probably the biggest thing.

For a lot of us who have owned multiple businesses, get six hours of sleep a night, and they’re crushing it all day long, how do you offset that? You go work out in the middle of the day. You meditate at the end of the day. You set your life up so that you don’t wake up to an alarm. You just wake up when you’re supposed to. Those types of things. How do you balance that? The biggest thing is how do I eliminate the stress damage to the body?

It sounds good but what’s the best way to do that?

If you’re going to get six hours of sleep, start by going to bed in the time that you can get full six hours before you want to wake up. I get up at 4:00. I’m in bed and asleep by 10:00. I used to set an alarm but now my body is used to it, so I wake up naturally about 5 or 10 minutes before my alarm goes off, so I’m good and then I can do that whole thing. I research and I do everything all day long. I then go to the gym right about 1:00. My stress level comes up and up during the day. I’m going to work out and it crashes because there’s nothing better than the kinetic motion to decrease neurologic stress.

Care for your quality of life over money. Click To Tweet

Now my stress goes way back down and then I eat. I then go back to work and I work for the rest day until 6:30. I go home and that’s when I do my meditation and my breathing stuff. That’s where I calm down and do that type of thing for about 20 to 30 minutes. That crashes my stress again, I can play with my kids, and do all that type of stuff at the end of the day. I do that as a daily habit. Coffee enemas are a big deal because the cleaner you get your liver and your colon, the cleaner your liver and your colon can get the rest of your body.

All that oxidative stress that you’re dealing with is supposed to be pulled out of your body through the blood via the liver. If your liver is congested and it can’t pull the waste out, you’re sitting in waste all the time. That gives us cholesterol problems or plaquing problems. That gives us all sorts of oxidative issues, cancer issues, and things like that. Cleaning that liver is probably going to be the second-best thing but setting your life up so that you can avoid or balance that stress. It’s going to be the number one most important thing. Schedule your day with little breaks in it to de-stress yourself.

I work out at 6:00 AM but I might consider changing that to the middle of the day. When you come back from a workout in the middle of the day, you feel like the day started over. It’s way fresher.

Getting a workout at 6:00 AM is better than no workout at all but you can change it and tell that you’re going to do it right before you eat. The cool thing is if you do that right before you eat, you knock out that sympathetic portion and now you’re in parasympathetic, which is resting digesting. Now, that food you ate has the proper hydrochloric acid to kill all the bugs, viruses, and parasites. It’s got the digestive enzymes from the liver and the pancreas. You’re going to digest and absorb more of the nutrients from that food than you would have beforehand. That’s the other big piece to crashing your stress and getting it down as low as possible before you eat. That’s the other little piece that’s cool plus, you’re going to get that little extra window of food and nutrition absorption from that workout. That’s the other fun thing.

What are you seeing in the future? What have you figured out and made sense of what’s coming down the pipe for the rest of us that took some breakthrough in staying healthy, living longer, and living a better life?

The Millennials are picking up on this and as older guys, you got to have to recognize why they’re doing it. I was talking to a bunch of business owners and they were all irritated because they’re like, “I keep offering these Millennials more money and they don’t want it.” I’m like, “That’s because they care about the quality of life more than they care about money.” What I’m starting to see is people starting to wake up and be like, “I’m not going to crush myself with stress for 80 hours a week just for money. I want to have a life, live and de-stress.” That’s a good one.

I’m seeing lots of CEOs that I do a lot of work with and corporations specifically for health and wellness, getting hyperbaric chambers in their office, getting exercise studios in there, and getting nutritional stuff in there. Also, making sure that their HSA covers supplementation and helping them get the right nutrition. A lot of people are starting to recognize that while Western medicine is amazing, personally, it saved my life more than twice because of car wrecks. It has a specific place. We need to worry about our daily lives, our daily supplementation, and our daily nutrition. A lot of people are starting to wake up to that idea of what we are doing for wellness and not for medical care.

We’re seeing a lot more concierge work. When COVID happened, everybody went virtual. My concierge piece and my practice blew up. We go 2 or 3 a month and it went to 3 or 4 a week. People are calling me, “I need you to take control of my entire healthcare. This is an issue now. I realize how critical and how fragile my health is. You got to help me.” That’s when we started seeing everything. You’re going to see a lot more concierge, people who are taking an active role in their health and who are deciding they’re not going to let the world beat them into a pulp. I think we’re going to see a lot healthier people as we go through. Things are going to get a little bit better.

You mentioned something there about a hyperbaric chamber. For those who are reading that are not familiar with that, what is it and what is it used for?

BYW 42 | Making Sense
Making Sense: The biggest difference between a healthy and unhealthy person is stress. Learn how to offset or manage your psychological stress.

 

There’s a lot of different uses. People are most familiar with seeing them around dive shops. If you get bent or if you get too many air bubbles in your blood, you can use hyperbaric to push those back out. The way we use it for health is when your body is under pressure. It’s usually 1.4 ATA or atmospheric pressure. Through Boyle’s Law, you can force gas into a liquid, so what ends up happening is that when you’re sitting at room pressure and you’re breathing normal air, that’s roughly 28% oxygen at sea level. That’s how much oxygen you’re getting in. You breathe either reconstituted oxygen to 95% or pure oxygen at 100% under pressure.

Now, instead of your red blood cells carrying the oxygen, your plasma carries the oxygen as well, so you can get 1,000% more oxygen to the tissues. We’re talking ankles, feet, hands, brain, heart, and all those things. When you get that oxygen in, the first thing it does is it eradicates free radicals. It’s one of the more powerful antioxidants. Now, the pH changes. It gives even more alkaline, so it gets a little bit better. The other thing is that all those little blood vessels that were starved for oxygen now get to breathe on their own. If you had damaged red blood cells due to sickle cell anemia, COVID, carbon monoxide poisoning, or anything like that, all of a sudden, we can get the oxygen where it needs to go. That’s a big piece of what we do.

All of my pro athletes would come in and I’ll have them go work out hard one day. They jump in the chamber as soon as they get done working out and I’ll have them come in the next day after the workout. Every single one of them is like, “How do I get one of these my house?” He’s a big NFL defensive guy and he comes in, and he was like, “Yesterday, you almost killed me in my workout. Now, I could have kept going and do the same workout. Is that because of the chamber?” I said, “That’s 100% because of this.” He bought one and he kept calling me, “This is the difference in this year.” Towards the end of the season, he didn’t fall off as much as everybody else did because he was constantly regenerating himself throughout the year. I probably got 20 or 30 of those guys’ chambers because they would all see him and be like, “What’s going on?” They call him up and he’d have them call me. It’s a big deal.

When we talk about how are we going to be in 30 years? It’s one of the things I tell everybody, “This is one of those things you should invest in.” If you wake up for an hour, do your emails, read your book, or watch a movie while you’re in the chamber for an hour every day, the chances are that your oxidative stress is going to become a problem. It’s either plaquing your blood vessels or anything else is going to be small. You’re going to get a lot more benefit out of doing those emails if you’re in that hyperbaric function.

There was a study I heard about hyperbaric chambers that were done in Israel where they increase the length of the telomeres using the hyperbaric chamber for 25 years. What that means long-term, I’m not sure. Maybe you have a perspective on that.

This is a paraphrase of what’s going on. The length of your telomere is the length of your life expectancy. As your DNA replicates, the telomeres break off. It’s like if you tie your shoes for too much and they start to fray at the end, that’s the same idea. You got to cut the shoelace or get rid of it but you can’t do that with DNA. By keeping the telomeres healthy, keeping them oxygenated, keeping them in the right pH balance, keeping the nutrition back to them, they can repair a little bit and they can stay longer.

The chances that they can replicate more often are higher. That goes back to the quality of life long term and, more or less, how long you’re going to live. Telomere length is a big deal. There are hundreds of millions of dollars being spent trying to figure out supplements, drugs, and everything to increase telomere length. This deal with oxygen is one of the reasons that people are extending their life by using hyperbaric on a more regular basis.

Would you recommend that everybody have a hyperbaric chamber?

The length of your telomere is basically the length of your life expectancy. Click To Tweet

There’s going to be that weird thing where you got a pressure issue. Across the board, almost everybody can do this. I’ve never met anybody who shouldn’t be doing it. Yes, I would recommend it to everybody.

I know you live right outside of Dallas. Are you insinuating that the Cowboys are going to be good in 2021?

The problem I have with my Cowboys is that they can always be good but we find a way to not. There are games that we’re going to win this by 55 points. The Cardiac Cowboys, at the end of the game, we’re up for up seven points and they’ve got the ball. You’ve got to stand there and shake until the game is finally over. I’d love to say we’re going to do great things. I like a lot of the guys on the team. I met most of them and they’re all good guys. “We’re just getting every Sunday. We’re going to figure out where we’re at. It’s going to be a fun season. We got a good shot, so we’ll see where we go.”

You also wrote a book, is that right?

I did. It’s called Pillars of Wellness. I don’t sit well, so during COVID, we didn’t fully shut down in Texas but we slowed down. When we did that, I was like, “I got to do something.” One of my buddies, Ryan Steven, who’s written a lot of books and does a lot of motivational stuff was like, “Write a book.” I was like, “That’s something to do.” I did it and I put a lot of little things in there that people don’t know once you get deep in physiology about testosterone, gallstones don’t exist, and how to make the body healthier.

One of the big ones is finding your purpose and living a purpose-driven life. It’s funny because people ask me, “You’ve been married for over twelve years. You have a phenomenal relationship. Give us some advice.” I’m like, “Unfortunately, the reason that works well is that I knew my purpose. I knew my why and so did my wife. We figured out that they aligned. We’re a team.” When I do something to benefit my why, it benefits her. We work together all the time and that’s one of the big pieces.

In the book, I talk about biochemical, biomechanical, spiritual, and psychological health, the pillars that hold you together and make you healthy. Those are the big ones. Now that I’ve got a hold of your tests, I’ve been telling everybody, “Read The 5 Love Languages so that you can understand how to deal with your spouse and take this test because if you don’t know who you are and you don’t know what drives you, you’re always going to be miserable.”

As soon as you figure it out, “This is who I am,” and you lean into that, that’s why I’ve been doing this for many years. I’m excited for Monday. We take four-day vacations and I’m always irritated because I’d be away from the office for four days. I don’t get to do what I do. I don’t get to live my purpose. I’m going to make all of my concierges and I’m going to tell as many of my patients to take this test so that they know who they are and they can start pointing themselves in the right direction.

BYW 42 | Making Sense
Making Sense: As your DNA replicates, the telomeres break off. Like tying your shoes too much, they start to fray at the end. So you have to keep the telomeres healthy.

 

You’re speaking my language. We talk about it as being the start-here button. When you’re trying to figure out who you are, “Where am I supposed to start? Should I take this?” Discovering your why is the essential first step in self-awareness and all the rest will make a lot more sense once you know your why. In your case, your why of making sense of the complex and challenging. That’s why you do everything. You take that everywhere you go with you including in your marriage. Now, any of the other assessments you take will fit within that why of making sense of the complex and challenging as will your message for your business. The Pillars, what is your book about? Is it making sense of health?

It’s funny because when you people come, they’re like, “I want to lose weight.” I’m like, “First of all, we’re not going to work on weight. We’re going to work on your fat. I don’t want you to gain two pounds of muscle and lose two pounds of fat. You’d lost no weight and you’re upset but you’ve made good strides.” They’re like, “That’s easy,” I’m like, “How is it easy?” I can do this with anybody. Get your resting metabolic rate, find out your somatotype, put your somatotype diet macros set and your RMR, check your hormones, and that’s it. It has worked for every single person we’ve gone through. Again, it’s a system. We’re making the complex easy through systematology, which is 100% what my thing is.

I can’t wait until my kids get a little older so they can take this test so I can be like, “I’m not going to tell you what to do in your life but I want you to explore these 3 or 4 careers before you decide what you’re going to be.” If we can figure out what their why is, I don’t care if they’re underwater basket weavers as long as that’s their thing. That’s all they talk about. That’s all they want to do. They’re 100% committed to it. I don’t care about how much money they make. I want them to be on fire for what they are and what they do. This is one of those tests that will help weed through all the noise of where they should be pointing themselves.

Do you feel more successful when you’re able to simplify things to the point where other people can do it or when you’re able to create processes that other people can follow? This is why I’m asking you this, just so you know. I haven’t shared anything with you yet and that is that there’s your why, how, and what. We already know your why is to make sense of the complex and challenging. I’m sure I know what your how is. I’m a little torn between a couple of things for what it is people can count on from you. Can they count on a simple solution that they’re able to follow or can they count on a structured process that they can stick with?

The reason that it’s hard is that I want to make sure that we structure the program but I also want to make sure that you fully understand where we’re at. I will sit there and be like, “We’re going to do it this way and this is why.” People look at me and I’m like, “You didn’t get that. Let’s go back over this and we’ll explain this in a different way.” I want you to make your own decisions. I’m not your dictator. I’m your guide. I want you to make your own decisions. I want you to understand the reason you’re making the choices you’re making because I can set it out.

If you’re like, “I don’t know why I’m doing this so I’m not going to do it.” I’ve not helped anybody. If you can understand it, if I can explain it in a way where you’re like, “Now I understand the importance. Now I understand why I need to do it.” That’s important but I also have to make sure that the structure is there so that you go, “I did part A. I do part B and part C,” so that you get that little fulfillment of, “I have finished something and I can move on to the next piece.” That’s a difficult question. I don’t know which one I put more. Probably explaining it to people if I had to because they can do it when I tell them.

Making it simplifying for them or giving them structure.

It’s simplifying it.

If you don't know what drives you, you're always going to be miserable. Click To Tweet

I’m going to take a stab at what your why, how, and what are. This would be your personal message and your personal brand. If you’ve got up to speak to an audience and they introduce you, “This is Dr. Matt Chalmers.” If you started your presentation by saying, “My why is to make sense of the complex and challenging, how I do that is by seeking mastery and understanding, diving in deep looking for the nuances looking for all the depth, breadth, and detail. Ultimately, what I bring is a simple solution so you can move forward and you’re able to do it and use it.”

That’s 100% my goal. I’ve got to break this down for laypeople and I’ve got to break it down a lot of times for my MDs who are like, “I thought we’re about this is how the world works.” “No. This is how it is.” You’ve got to make it simple so people can grasp onto it. In my nutshell, you nailed it.

I also assume that is what your practice, your marriage, and everything that you do everywhere you go are all about, making sense of it, diving in and getting all the details, seeking mastery of what you’re talking about, and bringing something simple and easy to understand. It’s like you did when you talked about your marriage. I’m sure you studied marriage and relationships. You probably have 50 books on it and you’ve done the same thing. You’re a chiropractor.

Maybe not 50. The thing is, I have to recognize that there are people who are not like me because if I go through it, I’m like, “How did you guys not come to the same conclusion I did? How did you not do this?” They don’t think the way you do. They have other gifts. That’s 100% how it all happened. It’s obtaining mastery and bringing order to chaos.

We call that your Why Operating System. Your why, how, and what. That’s the system that drives you. That’s how Dr. Chalmers makes decisions. It has to make sense, have depth and meaning but it has to be simple. If it’s not those three things, how do you feel about it?

It’s not going to work. The goal is to get you better. If I explain it to you and you don’t get it, you’re not going to get any better. If I don’t understand the problem, I can’t fix it. That’s the thing. If I went and saw this guy, and I’m like, “They don’t understand how the body works. Why did you even tell him to do that if you don’t know what’s going on?” That’s 100% of who I am with those things.

That’s where the messaging, the marketing, and the branding all come from for your practice. Your practice is a reflection of you. Your practice is all about making sense of the challenges that your clients and customers are facing, diving in deep so that you know what’s going on, and bringing it to them in a simple way where they can get it done and do something with it. Make sense?

Yeah. That’s funny because we’re releasing two videos on how to fix carpal tunnel and one on how to fix plantar fasciitis at home for $20 without going to the doctor. That was the whole thing. I show people and they’re like, “This is so simple. How come no one’s ever said this?” I’m like, “I don’t know. I’ll make videos and put them out on the internet. You guys make sure everybody sees it.” It’s called neurology. It’s super simple. If you understand neurology, which I understand is not super simple. That’s the thing, I’ve got to explain it in a way that you understand. I’ve taken something complex like clinical neurology and functional neurology and explain it in a way that a ten-year-old can understand.

If there are people who are reading and they love what they know about you, they’re looking for somebody in the Dallas area, probably it doesn’t even have to be the Dallas area, that’s going to help them make sense of their challenge, know that there’s a person who knows their stuff, and can bring it to them in a simple way, how and what’s the best way to get ahold of you?

BYW 42 | Making Sense
Making Sense: Live a purpose-driven life. Know your purpose and align it with yourself and your loved ones. When you do something, make sure it benefits you and whoever you share your life with.

 

ChalmersWellness.com is good. I’ve been doing a good job with messengers and stuff like that. It’s @DrChalmers1 on any of the social media. You get a hold of me that way and CWellStore.com has got a bunch of stuff on it as well. If you follow us on social, we’re trying to get out. We’re going to launch those videos. If you’re on socials and you see those videos, share them with all your friends because you might not have plantar fasciitis, you might not have carpal tunnel, but I bet your friends do know that your friends know somebody that does.

I appreciate you spending this time with me. It’s been fascinating. We’re speaking the same language. I love what you’re all about. Those are the same things that I find a lot of interest in, so I look forward to staying in touch as we move forward.

That sounds great.

Awesome.

It’s time for our new segment Guess the Why of somebody famous. We are going to pick a famous person. He’s a famous golfer, especially if you follow golf. His name is Bryson DeChambeau. If you know anything about Bryson, he is known as the professor. He is somebody who created his way to play golf completely different from everybody else. If you’re a golfer, you know that each one of your clubs is a different length. Your sandwich is a different length than your driver, your nine iron. They’re all different length clubs.

He decided that it would be right to have every club be the same length and change the head on him so that every time you could have the same swing, it would be the same length and give him the best chance of being predictable and consistent in his shots so that he could plan what was going to happen better than if the clubs were different lengths. I believe that Bryson DeChambeau’s why is mastery because he is so intricate and meticulous about every aspect of his swing and the course. He has percentages for types of grass. Everything is down to a number.

It’s fascinating to learn about him and see what he’s done. His why is mastery. Thank you for reading. If you have not yet discovered your why you can do so at WHYInstitute.com. You can use the code Podcast50 and get it for half price. If you love the Beyond Your Why Show, please don’t forget to subscribe below or leave us a review and rating on whatever platform you are using. Have a great one. I will look forward to seeing you. Thank you.

Important Links:

About Dr. Matt Chalmers

BYW 42 | Making SenseDr. Matt Chalmers received his degree of Doctor of Chiropractic from Parker Chiropractic College in Dallas. Shortly after graduation he started postgraduate work in the field of Neurology and is now a Certified Clinical Chiropractic Neurologist. Dr. Chalmers also received certification in Spinal Decompression, for the management of disc pain, making him one of only a handful of doctors in the Dallas Metroplex to have such a certification.

Dr. Chalmers has been an athlete all his life and really enjoys working with athletes and their families. Nutrition is a very large part of a healthy lifestyle and as such Chalmers Wellness offers a wide range of dietary counseling from weight loss to weight gain. Chalmers Wellness also offers a large variety of nutritional supplements to help improve the overall wellness of the whole family.

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Podcast

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

BYW 41 | Treatment For Suicidal Patients

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

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why did you do that?

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for giving me a platform.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you. Have a great day, Mark.

You too. Thank you, Gary.

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

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

 

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

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About Dr. Mark Goulston

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

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

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Podcast

The Why Of Mastery: Why You Should Ask Better Questions With Ben Baker

BYW 40 Ben Baker | Why Of Mastery

 

Ben Baker knew he had to shift careers fast, so he asked himself the question “Is there a better way?”  

Ben’s Why of Mastery led him to find the solution to save his marriage. Today he helps companies streamline internal communication to expand their unique value.  

Tune in as Ben talks with Dr. Gary Sanchez about living your Why of Mastery. Shift your mindset to be a learner. Because masters don’t think they’re masters. They’re lifelong learners! As a learner, you always ask vital questions. Keep doing that and you’ll live your Why of Mastery to the fullest.  

Watch the episode here:

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The Why Of Mastery: Why You Should Ask Better Questions With Ben Baker

Welcome to Beyond your WHY Podcast, where we go beyond talking about your why and help you discover and live your why. If you’re a regular reader, you know that in every episode, we talk about one of the nine why’s and we bring on somebody with that Why so you can see how their why is played out in their life. We are going to be talking about the why of mastery, which is the most rare why. If this is your why, you have an insatiable thirst for knowledge but not at a superficial level. The thirst is all about exploring the depths and intricacies of a particular subject.  

Masters never think they're a master. They consider themselves lifelong learners. Click To Tweet

You’ll pursue this goal until you are viewed as an expert in your subject area. You find enjoyment in the sheer act of immersing yourself in something new. You are fearless when it comes to learning about new subjects or ideas but often cautious when it comes to expressing your thoughts and feelings. You love to peel back the layers of the onion. Always going deeper and looking for subtle differences on any given topic. Short answers to questions are a challenge for you because you know you won’t get to the depths needed for someone to truly understand the subject being discussed. We’ve got a perfect guest for you on the way of mastery. His name is Ben Baker.  

Ben has been helping companies and the people within them understand, codify and communicate their unique value to others for more than a quarter of a century. He is the President of Your Brand Marketing, an employee engagement consultancy. He’s the author of Powerful Personal Brands: A Hands-on Guide to Understanding Yours, and Leading Beyond a Crisis: A Conversation About What’s Next. He’s the host of iHeart and Spotify syndicated YourLIVINGBrand.live Show with more than 250 episodes behind him. Ben believes that if companies understand, live, and build cultures around their purpose, employees will engage, stay and want to grow with the company. This takes great leadership, communication, and awareness of the brand.  

Please welcome, Ben Baker. 

That introduction gets longer every time I hear somebody read it. I want people to say, “Here’s Ben Baker.” Gary, thank you for having me on the show. I am excited about this. 

This is going to be fun. Ben, take us back in your life. Tell us the quick version of your life story. Where are you from? Where did you grow up? How did you get into developing your branding process? 

I was born in Minneapolis and moved out of there in 1974. We decided that we wanted to thaw a little bit. My mom was originally from Winnipeg. Her sister, her husband, and the kids all moved out to Vancouver. My mom wanted to be near her sister, so she said, “Let’s move out to Vancouver or out to the West Coast.” Back then, the Canadian dollar was worth more than the US dollar, so we ended up moving to Canada. If it had been the reverse, we probably would have ended up in Seattle. Back in 1974, we moved up to Vancouver and I went through elementary, high school, and university up in Canada.  

Through all that, I did a lot of traveling. I went to the University of Victoria. I lived in LA, Seattle, Toronto, and New York for a bit through university. I lived overseas but Vancouver is always been home. I’ve always had a box of my stuff somewhere in somebody’s basement. It’s like, “Can you hang on to this stuff?” You have a few choices. We have books and knickknacks and stuff like that but that stuff ended up back at my house in probably about ‘96 when we got married. I’ve been back in Vancouver since about ’95. What happened was when I came back to Vancouver in ‘95, I was brought back on a contract.  

I was still in the high-tech industry. I was brought back because one of the major companies in the distribution area had a problem with a client. They said, “Can you take over the account and be able to help us resurrect it?” I said, “Sure. No problem.” It was a $100 million account. I spent probably about 1 or 1.5 years flying across North America, meeting with people, changing things, challenging things, and bringing things back to normal. About a year and a half later, I met my wife and we got married. We both realized this was a divorce waiting to happen. I was in the air 200 days a year. I was gone 250 days a year.  

Circumstances changed, so I went up to my boss and said, “You have two choices. You can either double my salary to pay for the divorce or you can cut myself my travel days in half.” He said, “Why don’t we buy you out?” I said, “I’m listening.” He says, “Stick around for 30 days. Help us hire your replacement. Fly them around for 30 to 45 days and we’ll pay you a six-month override.” I said, “Done.” He says, “Do you need to check with your wife?” I said, “No. Trust me.”  

They said, “One more thing. We’ll pay for you to take the What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up training,” because they knew that every job that was comparable to the one that I had that was good allowed me to make the same money. I was going to be doing the same amount of traveling. It didn’t matter if I was working for Intel, Epson printers, Hewlett Packard, or whoever. Everybody was going to want the up on a plane. They realized this was bad for me, so they were generous enough to sit me down with an industrial psychologist, run me through the Myers-Briggs and all those types of tests and come up with some solutions. It came up with two different things.  

One, you’re good at helping people tell their stories. Number two, work with large corporations. Don’t work within large corporations. They realize that what I’m good at is finding the solution, fixing the problem, and leaving. That’s what I do well. See what their problem is, understand the challenge, help them fix it, and leave them to be able to move on their own. I don’t want to be there. That’s the person who’s there for the next 10, 15, 20 years doing maintenance on it. I’m the fixer.  

That’s where my new career began. I ended up in direct mail. I ended up working for a large direct mail firm and we ended up doing an enormous amount of $500,000 to $1 million piece runs. I killed a lot of trees. What it came to the realization was that a lot of my clients were in the grocery, the casino business and they were reactive. They were like, “Our competitors are like this. We need to put something in the mail right now.” I’m like, “Let them chase you instead of you chasing them.”  

That came down to understanding brand, strategy, vision, market and getting to putting together a year-long plan for them. Every time they drop something in the mail, somebody else had to react not them reacting to somebody else. It worked well up until 9/11. We were a Canadian company working with US clients. Good, bad, or indifferent, the US companies decided, “We want to deal with American folks.” Because the Canadian dollar was getting stronger and there wasn’t as much value, the factor of the American first wanting to deal with Americans, that business started to go away. I started to look and say, “Where can we go from here?” That led to promotional marketing, tradeshow development, social media development, and your overall branding.  

How do you brand a company? How do you understand what their story is? Where did they come from? Where are they now? Where do they want to go? Who are their clients? Why do their clients care about them? What differentiates them in the marketplace? Being able to help my clients tell their stories through various types of mediums. In 2008, at the beginning of the crisis, I left the company I was working for and started out on my own. It’s a perfect time to start a company but my clients were large and substantial enough that they said, “We don’t care who you work for. You take care of us.”  

They have supported me and that’s what got me through those first three years of chaos. It was looking at my clients going, “You guys don’t have $1 million to spend anymore. You have $500,000 to spend. How can we take that $500,000 and get the most out of it? How do we enable you to tell your story as effectively on a smaller budget where everybody else was saying, ‘You guys spend more. You guys spend more.’” I’m going, “No. They only have so much money to spend. Let’s take what they have and be able to figure out how to do more.”  

BYW 40 Ben Baker | Why Of Mastery
Why Of Mastery: Most companies are good at telling their story externally, but they’re horrific at telling their story internally.

 

That led me to work with clients and understand their philosophy and what they are. A few years ago, I came to the realization that most companies are good at telling their story externally but they’re horrific and telling their story internally. Their internal clients and employees don’t know the brand story. They don’t understand the genesis of the organization. Why was it started? Beyond the dates and the times, they don’t understand what the impetus was of who, what was the original problem these people were trying to solve, and how did it move from where it was to where it is to where it’s going. For the last few years, my mission is to help clients communicate more effectively inside, get rid of the silos, break down barriers, have more effective communication across different divisions, and allow them to be more successful because they’re not wasting millions of dollars through ineffective communication. 

What was that moment when you realized that companies don’t tell their internal story very well? What was going on? What were you seeing and how did you come to that conclusion? 

Here’s a perfect a-ha moment. I used to work with a lot of government clients and a lot of health authorities. We did a lot of work with smoking cessation, alcohol awareness, and drug addiction programs. One of the health authorities that I belong in and work with is 200 or 250 square miles. They spread out all over the place. I was doing by tour de force, going out and you’re checking on the track line and talking to a whole bunch of different divisions and having a bunch of meetings.  

At the end of the day, I started realizing I went, “I’ve had this conversation before today.” I realized that there were three different groups that had a similar problem, slightly different audience but the same thing that they were trying to achieve basically and none of them knew each other. None of them had the budget on their own to be able to solve this problem. They are all saying, “What can you do for cheap?” I’m like, “We don’t want to do cheap.” What I did is, I got all three groups on a conference call together. 

I introduced these people and I went, “You’re all talking about the same problem.” We’re like, “We’re going to have to change the logo and we might have to change the message a little bit but we can buy in bulk and be able to create something that’s going to work for all three divisions. Gain it all together and make it work effectively.” Ninety-five percent of the message was exactly the same. They were able to take the three budgets, put them together, and do something better than any one of them wanted to do. None of that would have happened because none of them even do the other teams existed, let alone they were working on a similar problem. That happens time and time again, Inc. Magazine says companies that have 100,000 employees or more wastes an effective $62 million a year because of ineffective communication. The number is staggering. 

Ineffective communication means that everybody gets into their group, does their thing, and doesn’t get outside of their department to find out what’s happening? How do we look at the big picture, instead of our little picture? 

The left hand, not knowing what the right hand is doing. Here’s the perfect example. You have a job that goes from ideation with a sales team through marketing, product development, into the hands of operations, and out through distribution. Do these five groups ever get together and look at this thing as a unit and say, “What is this going to take to get this out the door?” You have packaging people that are not talking to your production people that are not talking to shipping people. What are the little things you need in order to make this thing work? How many of these boxes are going to fit on a pallet? What are the things that we need to do to make sure that the box isn’t going to crash when we ship it along?  

How do we make sure that these things are being able to be done on a production line versus having parts of it hand done? Because the different departments are not talking to each other and finding out what the other department needs, I hand it off from one division to the other division to the area division. That can happen in accounting, legal, and finance. It can happen anywhere. It’s people not understanding what other people need. When I give this to you, am I giving it to you in a way that you can use it or do you have to totally repurpose it to make it work with the systems that you’re already working on within the same company?  

What about this problem that you’re solving? Why is this interesting to you? What is the excitement over solving those problems?  

The older you get, the less you know. Click To Tweet

For me, it’s all about watching companies become more effective and profitable. I’m a lousy chess player. I wish I was a better chess player because I don’t play the game as much as I used to. I like watching the whole board. I’m that 50,000-foot person that likes to see how the different pieces come together. How do you make sure that you can look three moves ahead and make sure that things work effectively? It drives me crazy when you see ineffective policies, process procedures, and miscommunication because a lot of it’s due to laziness.  

A lot of it’s the fact that you’re too lazy and embarrassed to ask the question you think you should know better, or you think you do know better, which is even worse and therefore, things that should go smoothly. Things that should go effectively, things that should cost X end up calling X times ten by the time they get out the door, and nobody’s stopping to realize this, oh, okay, cost $100 instead of $10, where it could have easily cost $10, if people took the time to reverse engineer things. 

If they had more detail and depth and that they knew more about it. When your why came up as mastery and you read about mastery like what I read to you, how did that feel to you? 

It truly made sense because the one thing that you were telling me about a master that you didn’t mention is a master never thinks that they’re a master. I consider myself a lifelong learner. I consider myself always sitting there going, “Is there a better way? Is there a different way? Is there somebody that I should be aligning myself with or consulting with or talking to that may know more about a specific part of this than I do?” I may understand things from a grandiose point of view but when it comes down to the weeds, the nuts, and bolts, I want to talk to the person who’s doing that.  

When I was in the printing business, if I wanted to know the challenges of putting something on a press, I would talk to the pressman. If I need something about how do we convert something from a great big piece of paper into a box or into a package or something like that? I talked to somebody who’s writing the converting line or the dye maker. They’re going to have insights into things that I didn’t even know what questions to ask, let alone know what the answers are. Maybe being over 51 years old gives me a little bit better ability to not have the ego to think that I know everything. The older I get, the less I know. I don’t see that as a weakness. I see that as a, “How do I find the answer?” “How do I find somebody who knows the answer and bring them on board for us to be more successful?”  

You started helping companies communicate better. How did you get from doing that to podcasting? I know you have your own show. You help people tell their stories. How did you get there? 

I’ve been podcasting for years. I’ve had my own podcast, the YourLIVINGBrand.live Show. I’m over 250 episodes or I might be over 270 episodes by now but I’ve been on podcasts for a couple of years before most people even knew what a podcast was. People were inviting me to be on their podcast to sit down and talk. I know some of the grandparents of the podcasting industry. People sit there and go, “You’re an old man of the podcasting industry.” I said, “You don’t even know.” These guys have been doing this for fifteen-plus years or longer.  

A few years ago, I got into my podcast and during COVID, a couple of different things happened. I speak around the world. February of 2020, I had speaking gigs lined up in Australia, Europe, the Caribbean, and across the United States. Three days in March, it was wiped out. Everything was gone. Not only the years’ worth of speaking gigs that I had but probably the next year of speaking gigs because you go to one gig, somebody taps you on the shoulder there and says, “We’ve got an event coming up. Could you come and speak to us?” I sat there and said, “I have two choices. I can either grab my knees and rock back and forth or I can figure out what’s next.” What I realized is that there’s a lot of large organizations that are either trying to do podcasting and doing it poorly or they have no idea where to start. 

I created the podcast host for hire program. What it is, is for the most part, these are internal-only streams-only on a secure platform podcast. Allowing companies to have an internal communication message that’s asynchronous and allowed to have communication across multiple divisions, multiple people, multiple projects, and allow to have better insight into the company. I help them with strategy. I voice the podcast for them and help them with the entire distribution channel, the editing, and everything.  

That became a COVID baby but it’s starting to become fairly successful. There are companies that are reaching out to me going, “What would this look like? Can we try a six-month trial to see whether it works?” People asked me three months ago, “Three months isn’t going to give you enough time to understand whether it’s going to work or not. We need to do it in six.” There’s a lot of companies out there where productions and conversation with a variety of different people doing test markets for them to see how this works for them and how this is making it better for them. So far, the information that I’m getting back is fairly positive. 

Give us an example of a company that would want to have its podcast. 

I can’t mention names because everything I do is under NDA, nondisclosure, but we’re talking about hundred million to multibillion-dollar corporations that are across different cities, different states, different countries, maybe they have multiple divisions. They probably have 1,000 more employees and they have multiple projects going on simultaneously because we’ll work on things like change management, culture and purpose issues, diversity and inclusion issues.  

If you’ve got a new division, project, or a new thing that you’re trying to get out into the marketplace, we’ll work with you to build a launch strategy for that through podcasting, so everybody knows. Everybody is on board and sales prepared to sell this thing when it goes out the door, so those are the types of issues that we deal with. Bangalore main has no idea what LA is doing and they readily admit it. That’s where we tend to get involved. 

They bring you in and say, “Ben, we need to create our own podcast. This is the goal for it. We need you to help us set it up and to get the right equipment.” If you’re reading and you want to set up your own podcast for your own company or how about if you want to help someone start their podcast business, would you be somebody that they should call? 

BYW 40 Ben Baker | Why Of Mastery
Why Of Mastery: Many organizations are either trying to do a podcast and are poor at it, or they have no idea where to start.

 

Not if they want to start their own podcasting business. If you’re looking to start your podcast, there are two different ways. If you’re a small to medium-sized business, I’ve got an online course called YourSuccessfulPodcast.com/launch. That’s a course designed for small to medium-sized businesses to teach themselves how to podcast effectively. It’s everything that they need. There’s a resource page, what do you need to do every day for your first 30 days to make sure that you’re successful. I host a monthly Zoom chat for anybody who is a client that they can come up and ask me anything. I have an email that people can email me if they’ve got questions. It’s designed for that.  

The next level is the companies that are sitting there going, “We want to start a podcast. We’re not do-it-yourselfers. We don’t want to do this. We want somebody who can grab us by the hand and help us through this.” That’s where the magic is. It’s to help them. Either I can host the podcast for them. I can co-host a podcast and teach somebody how to become a podcaster or I can train the person and give them the tools that they need to be able to be on the air themselves and be successful moving forward. My goal is to enable your company to shine on your own and for me to be there in the background like that security blanket. If you need me and how you need me, I’m here for you. I’m not going away but use me as it makes sense but let me help you set it up properly and get you up and running.  

That would have been so great when I was setting mine up for the first time. I had no idea what I was doing. I was winging it and doing a bunch of poor ones at first until you started to figure it out but I know there’s something about you that our audience doesn’t know, which I found fascinating. I’m going to ask you this question because I know you have an interesting answer. Why would I choose you for somebody to help me with my show because I know what you’ve been doing the last five years as far as being on other people’s podcasts? 

You would use me because I’m the person who’s going to have the details. I’m the person who’s going to be looking ahead. I’m the one who realizes that there are 2 million podcasts out there. In 2018, there were 500,000 podcasts and now there are over 2 million podcasts. Seventy-five percent of those podcasts fail within ten episodes. The reason for that is, people don’t understand why they’re podcasting, who they’re podcasting to, tone of voice, strategy, what they’re trying to achieve from the podcast, and how to set it up for success.  

For me, I’m all about the process and understanding you as a person or you as a company and no two podcasts are going to be the same. You and I could talk about the exact same type of things on a podcast. We could have the same audience, and your audience and my audience are going to get different insights out of the same information. We can even talk to the same guest and we’ll interview that person differently. That’s the beautiful thing about podcasts. You’re not in competition. What you’re doing is providing long-tail communication, building trust, and relationships with your audience, that eventually you’re going to sit there and go, “We should talk to them about the project that we’re working on. This isn’t advertising. This isn’t an immediate call to action thing. This is about know, like, and trust.”  

How do I know that you know all these details? That’s what I’m getting at because you told me something that surprised me. I was like, “You do that?”  

I’m trying to remember exactly what it is.  

You’ve been on 50 podcasts a year.  

That’s what you’re getting at.  

I was like, “Who goes on 50 podcasts a year to find all this information out?” Why are you on those podcasts? 

It’s true. I go on somewhere around 50 podcasts a year. My goal is 50. I made 57 in 2020. During COVID, it was a little easier but my goal is to find out what do people do, what people do not do well, what are the new and innovative things that people are doing like different intros, exits, and cadence that people have. They have a different tone of voice. People have different questions people ask and all that stuff gets built into a repository in the six square inches between my ears. It enables me to sit there and go, “Do this but certainly don’t do this. This will work for you but it won’t work for somebody else.” I’ve got somebody that we ended up putting the strategy behind the podcast and it’s a rock and roll podcast.  

It’s all upbeat heavy music and all that but that’s his audience. I would never listen to this thing in a million years but once we realize who his audience was, his audience is the young Turks. They’re the guys that are out there storming the walls in the business community. The guys want to work 80, 90 to 100 hours a week. The go-getters, the wannabes or call them whichever you are but that’s who this guy speaks to and that’s who his audience is. That’s who he relates to because he’s one of them. 

For me, it’s a podcast for these people, so the podcast needs to reflect that. I knew the perfect piece of music and perfect intro for him. I knew what we should be talking about who the first five guests should be. A lot of that came down to the fact that because I’ve been on 50-plus interviews a year besides my show, but plus the shows I do for other clients, it gives me insights into things that most people don’t have. 

In our case for you and I, when I knew I was going to have you on the podcast, you sent me an email and said, “I was listening to one of your show and you need to get a new microphone.” I’m like, “What?” You’re like, “It sounds like you’re underwater.” 

I felt bad about that. I never liked giving that advice to people because I’m certainly going, “I’m costing somebody money,” but I’m going, “If you’re doing one interview, you had a bad mic but not having good sound on a podcast is horrific, because nobody listens to it.” If people are fighting through the sounds of being muffled and stupid and nobody can understand what you’re saying, people are going to tune out. Nobody cares. You can be as brilliant as you want to be but if it’s not easy for people to listen to, they’re going to go find somewhere else to be. 

For the readers, Ben was going to be on the show and he sent me the email that said, “You need a better microphone.” I have a good microphone. The one I’ve been using all these years was at that time when I got supposed to be one of the best ones but he said, “That’s mid-level. You need to get a better one.” I ordered a new microphone, so I’m using this new microphone right now and I waited until I got it. In fact, I postponed our interview until I got it so I could have the good mic, so I wasn’t going to get a post podcast interview email that said, “I wish you had a better microphone for our interview.” I got a nice one here and hopefully, we sound better. 

Here’s the thing. You didn’t pay $500 for that. You certainly didn’t pay $1,000 for that mic. How much did you pay for that?  

About $150.  

For $150, you sound 100 times better and it’s not about spending a fortune. The mic that I’m using right now is $150. The new mic that I have on order is about $450. I’m ready for that next level of mic, but I’ve been using this mic for almost a few four years now and it’s time for me to take that next level up but for most people, a $150 microphone is all you’re ever going to need for your podcast. That’s going to make you sound good, it’s going to be crisp, it’s going to be clean and it’s going to allow you to be able to sound good to your audience. 

What’s interesting is I have headphones plugged into the microphone so I can hear my own voice in my ears where I couldn’t do that before with my other. I could do it. But I didn’t know that I could do that, so I didn’t know how I sounded. I’m sure this microphone is still better than what it was when you heard it, I didn’t have it in the right place on the right settings and I didn’t know that. You had me buy this one and I realized that I could hook my headphones up to it to hear myself. That little tweak was valuable, so you’re the guy that dives in deep, looks for all of the nuances and little things.  

That makes a big difference. That’s the whole thing with the why of mastery because that’s the question I asked you. If you remember, I said, “Your why of mastery, give me an example of an area that you have a lot of knowledge about.” You said, “Podcasting.” I said, “What do you mean?” That’s when you started talking about the 50 podcasts a year that you’re on, so what works so you see the nuances because it’s the little things that make the big difference is what you told me. It’s super valuable. 

I don’t need to know everything. There are a million things I don’t know about. My son is brilliant at Physics. My wife is brilliant at other things. Neither were the things that they’re interested in are not things that I want to spend a lot of time working on because I know if I have a question about it, I know where to go for the answer. My thing is, the things I want to know about, I want to know a lot about and because those are the things that are not only going to help me but are going to be helping to help my customers and my customer’s customers and that’s where I focus. 

Ben has half of his screen and on the other half of his screen, he has his logo and it says “What’s Your Story?” Tell us about that. What do you mean, what’s your story?  

What’s your story logo came out of Your Brand Marketing real logo. It’s two people sitting there talking to each other. That came from the show YourLIVINGBrand.live story but the first question I asked everybody is, “What’s your story?” I may not ask it directly. I may not sit there going, “Tell me about what your story is.” A lot of people ask us, “Where did you come from? Where are you? Where are you going? What are the things that are important to you? What are the challenges that you’ve had? What are the insights? What have you learned along the way?” That’s your story. The more we can understand people’s stories, the more we can understand what they’re passionate about, what they believe in, what’s the hill that they’re willing to die on, and what are the things that are so important to them that they’re deal-breakers.  

It's time for you to take that next level up. Click To Tweet

If we can understand that about people, we can help them better if we assume that everybody wants the same things that we do. As we all may be part of one race, the human race, but each person wakes up every morning with their own hopes, wants, needs, fears, and desires. It’s our job to understand people on their own terms. We don’t have to agree with it. We don’t have to believe what they believe but we need to understand and empathize with them because if we can, that’s how we can help them. That’s what your story is all about.  

Is there a way that you like people to tell their story or is it however you want to tell your story? 

I let people tell their own stories. It’s interesting. I do a show weekly. I know the first question that I’m going to ask somebody and I know the last question we’ve asked them as they walk up the door. Between that, it’s a conversation. It’s like, “What did you mean by that? Can you elaborate on that? Where did that take you? How did you feel when that happened?” The more I can sit there and listen not to interrupt, not listen to ask my next question but to actively listen to care and to go understand what their internal motivation is, the better the conversation is.  

I have guests ask me all the time, “Can you give me some prepared questions?” The answer is no because I don’t know what the questions I’m going to ask are and I tell them that. I said, “I don’t have a clue what I’m going to ask you until I ask you. I have done the research. I’ll comb through your social media and your website. If you’ve done other interviews, I’ve done that. If you’ve got a book, I’ve read the precis.” I never come into an interview unprepared but I don’t care where the conversations are going as long as I understand where we’re going. To me, I understand where I want to get to, this is the angle, and these are the things that we want to discuss. How we get there or what happens along the way doesn’t matter as long as it helps us achieve our goal. 

The last question I’m going to ask you. What’s the best piece of advice that you have ever given or have ever got from someone else? 

I teach it at universities all the time and I find that these 3rd and 4th-year students are smart but they have no idea how to tell their own story. I tell them, “You need to understand who you are. Don’t worry about a job title, career path, or any of that stuff. Understand what you’re passionate about and what you’re good at and they are different. Just because you’re passionate about something doesn’t mean you’re good at it and vice versa. It’s got to be the combination of the two. If you can understand how you can solve people’s problems, listen, understand how to listen and understand people, and fix people’s problems, you will always do well, and your career will blossom regardless. It’ll go in directions that you never thought it will.” That’s the biggest piece of advice I probably give every 3rd and 4th-year student that I come across. The best piece of advice given to me is that a lot of what you see on stage is an illusion. Our job as speakers is to touch hearts and souls.  

If we can touch hearts and souls, they may not remember 90% of what we said but if they feel it, internalize it, it means something to them, they see how it benefits them, and see a clear path to success, that’s when you’ve got them. That’s when they’re onboarded and running with a check on their hand towards you. That’s what I do. Every time I’m on stage, it’s like, “How do I connect emotionally with this particular audience and how do I give them what they need to succeed?” Maybe not what they want, but what they need. 

Ben, if people are wanting to get in touch with you, they want to set up their own show, they want to connect with you, what’s your story, or the podcast host for hire, how do they get ahold of you? What’s the best way to connect with you? 

BYW 40 Ben Baker | Why Of Mastery
Why Of Mastery: The better you understand people, the more you can help.

 

The repository is YourBrandMarketing.com. Everything is there. There are 50 different websites that all push to one central location but the central hub is YourBrandMarketing.com. That is where my podcast is. That’s where all my programs are my workshops. Anything and everything that you want to know even free chapters of my two books are on there. People can download it for free. I don’t have a paywall. You don’t have to give me your email address or anything. You can even sign up for a free 30-minute conversation. I’m more than happy to talk to anybody. Find out what you’re trying to achieve and if I can help you, great. If I can’t help you, I’ll try to find somebody who can. 

Ben, I appreciate you taking the time to be here. I look forward to staying in touch with you as we continue on our journeys. I know that I was on your podcast, so that was exciting. I’m looking forward to staying in contact. Thank you for taking time out of your day to be here. 

Gary, I loved every minute of this. Thanks for being such a great host and I’ve enjoyed sharing the mic with you.  

Sounds great. Thanks, Ben, and thanks for my new microphone.  

You’re welcome but don’t send me the bill.  

Take care.  

Thank you all for reading. If you have not yet discovered your why, you can do so at WhyInstitute.com. The code for that is Podcast50. You can discover your why for 50% off. If you love the Beyond Your Why Podcast, please don’t forget to subscribe, leave us a review, and rating on whatever platform you are using. I’ll see you all. Have a great week. 

Important links: 

About Ben Baker

BYW 40 Ben Baker | Why Of MasteryBen Baker has been helping companies, and the people within them understand, codify, and communicate their unique value to others for nearly a quarter of a century.

He is the president of Your Brand Marketing, an Employee Engagement Consultancy, author of “Powerful Personal Brands: a hands-on guide to understanding yours,” and “Leading Beyond a Crisis: a conversation about what’s next,” and the host of IHEART and Spotify syndicated YourLIVINGBrand.live show with more than 250+ episodes behind him.

Ben believes that if companies understand, live, and build cultures around their purpose, employees will engage, stay, and want to grow with the company. This takes great leadership, communication, and awareness of the brand.

 

 

 

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Podcast

Renie Cavallari On Inspiring Others To Unlock Their Fullest Human Potential

BYW 39 | Human Potential

 

Renie Cavallari always has a lingering feeling to pursue bigger and bigger goals. This admirable thought became her drive in starting Aspire, a company focused on tapping the greatest human potential. Listen to her meaningful discussion with Dr. Gary Sanchez focused on getting rid of head trash.

She explains how freeing your mind from doubts and eliminating your big lie can lead to clarity. Discover essential advice from this conversation to start getting out of the feeling of being stuck and determine the right motivation you need. As a result, you can shift your mindset and reconnect with your emotional side that dictates your life purpose.

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

Renie Cavallari On Inspiring Others To Unlock Their Fullest Human Potential

If you’re a regular reader, you know that every week, we talk about one of the nine whys and then we bring on somebody with that why so we can see how their why has played out in their life. In this episode, we’re going to be talking about the why of 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 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 that you’re 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. Her name is Renie Cavallari. She is the Founder, CEO and Chief Instigator of Aspire, a global transformational training and culture development company that specializes in inspired learning that shifts human behavior and awakens potential. She is also the founder of the RCI Institute, active thinking and people technology lab. An award-winning international strategist, speaker and leadership expert with a vast grasp of business and its challenges, she has driven measurable results for businesses with her innovative solutions around the world for over many years. Renie, welcome to the show.

It’s great to be here, Gary. Thank you so much.

Renie, what city are you in?

I’m in Phoenix, Arizona.

When you're living in your potential, you're living in joy. Click To Tweet

Bring us up to speed on you. Where did you grow up? Where did you go to school? How did you get into being a strategist, author and speaker? Tell us your story.

I grew up in Philly. I’m a scrappy kid from Philly. My parents were both teachers. I went to college at FSU. I got lucky and joined Corporate America right out of college. I had amazing mentors and people helping me learn and grow. I started in sales and was honestly endlessly curious all the time. Eventually, I had several great opportunities in the hospitality industry, working for various companies. I started a company called Powered by Aspire. We do transformational work. We’re about awakening the potential of people. When you talk about understanding your why, I knew what I was supposed to be doing. I wasn’t aware of it early on, but many years ago, I got very clear. That clarity has been such a gift. I’m also a mama. I have a daughter. I’m married. Also, in that beautiful transaction, I got another daughter, Alison and her husband, Greg. I have a grandson too, Aiden.

Take us back. What was that moment that you realized, “I got to go start this Powered by Aspire?” What happened? What were you doing? What were you thinking? What was going on? How did you come up with that?

I was in a fancy corporate job. I was SVP of a medium-sized, good-sized company. The partners offered me a partnership and to become the COO as well. I remember I kept thinking, “I should feel so happy about this.” I was certainly grateful for the opportunity, but I wasn’t happy. I asked for the weekend and I stopped and sat with it. I came in on Monday morning. I said, “Thank you very much. I quit.” It was about that I became aware that I wasn’t aspiring and hence the name of the company, to what I loved to do. I was doing what was next in the chain of tradition of, “You go from here to here. You’re going to be COO. Isn’t that fabulous? Next, you’ll be that.” All of a sudden, it made me awake.

I didn’t have a plan, which is crazy because I have been a strategist and strategists tend to overplan everything. I sat back and I was having dinner with a girlfriend. She said, “You should start your own firm.” I had thought that I wanted to start a firm before, but not with this. It was a crazy, snap-on tool for a diaper delivery business. What happened is that my girlfriend, Brenda Exline, had a successful ad agency. She said, “If you’re too afraid to do it, I’ll be your partner.” It was the greatest thing anyone could say because I thought, “I don’t need a partner. If she believes in me, I should go do this.”

You said you weren’t happy. Why were you not happy?

BYW 39 | Human Potential
Human Potential: There’s nothing like mentors and people that you imprint on that you don’t realize that you’ve done something to, and they’re giving back to you.

 

I didn’t like operating the business. I didn’t like the work because, in the operation, I wasn’t connected to my why, which was about awakening people. When you’re awakening people, it does tie to finding a better way like, “How do you keep improving?” Giving people the opening to find what they want next to live to their potential. When you’re living in your potential, you’re living in joy. That’s it. To me, success equals joy. That’s my success meter. I knew like, “I don’t like this work.” That opportunity woke me up to, “If you don’t like what you’re doing, no wonder you’re starting to get grumpy.” Things started to irritate me too much and that wasn’t my nature. It was a fantastic learning moment. When I find myself in that same place because it does come up throughout your life where you’re looking around going, “I am not my happy space.” For me, that’s the moment where I can change my thinking and think about, “What is it that I want?” versus “What is it I am doing?”

I’m sure there are going to be a lot of people that are reading this that may be in that not-so-happy place and don’t know how to put their finger on exactly what it is they’re not happy with. They just know they’re not happy. They don’t like what they’re doing, but they’re doing it because they got to make a paycheck. You were fortunate it sounds like at a young age to be able to make that transition. How did you determine what you were then going to do? Now, you’re making snap-on tools for baby diapers. How did you decide, “I think I’m going to go start Powered by Aspire?” How does that happen?

I never did that business of the snap-on tool concept where you deliver diapers. It was a concept that never got off the ground, but that was the first entrepreneurial moment for me. Because I knew what I loved to do, I was clear on that and I thought, “I’m going to start a business.” I didn’t have any people in my life that were entrepreneurs. My father was a teacher. My mother was a teacher’s assistant. There wasn’t a map of that, but I just knew like, “If I do what I love, the odds are, I should be pretty good at it.” I put it out there and started thinking about it.

I got a phone from someone who I had worked with for years. It was the greatest gift because there’s nothing like mentors and people that you imprint on that you don’t realize that you’ve done something and imprinted on them and they’re giving back to you. His name is Paul Margetson. He called me up and said, “Renie, what is your financial nut?” I was like, “I’m sorry. What?” It was a personal question. It wasn’t like he was a good friend. He was a business associate. I told him the number and it wasn’t much. I was single. It wasn’t like I had made this big decision. The company came back to me that I have resigned from and said, “We need nine months.” I had time to formulate.

That’s important for people to understand. When you want to make a shift, you don’t have to make it in a nanosecond. You start to think and explore like, “What do I love? Who can I connect with? How can I leverage that?” You certainly have done that in the chapters of your life. It starts to move because you gain clarity of it. Paul called me up and said, “I’m going to hire you. You just told me your nut.” I gave him my nut for the month. He said, “I’m going to pay you. I want you to send me a proposal of what I’m going to pay you for.” It was such a gift in so many ways because the financial freedom became clear and it wasn’t a big nut.

On the other hand, it was this opportunity he gave me to create the kind of firm I would want to work for. From that, I said, “We’re going to work on, ‘How do we transform people so that we shift their behaviors so they can perform at higher levels? When they perform at higher levels, not only do they feel better and continue to grow, but their organizations continue to perform.'” Aspire has a 96% retention of our clients year-over-year. That’s at the foundation of it when there is performance because it’s not fluffy stuff working in culture and leadership. For some people, it might be, but in our firm, it’s certainly not. It’s about this higher level and there’s nothing that turns me on more than that, like watching people soar. I’ll drink that Kool-Aid every day.

When you want to make a shift, you don't have to make it in a nanosecond. Always take time to think about it. Click To Tweet

You started Powered by Aspire. What was your vision for it? I’m not sure exactly what is Powered by Aspire. Tell us what that is.

Its why is to awaken human potential. It has been that for many years. We are a transformational company. We work on transforming and performance improvement. We do training, leadership development and a lot of cultural alignment so that when you understand the company why, how and what, that alignment allows for trajectory. We work on those solutions for our clients. As their strategies change, we custom-build training so that they can bring their people along in the changes that are occurring. That’s what Aspire does. We have quite a bit of IP, intellectual property. These proven processes are focused on what we call People Technology™. These tools allow people to understand where their performance is, how to grow, what kind of mindset is going to take them to where they want to go and what skills they need. There’s a whole variety of tools in our People Technology™ war chest.

So that when they perform at a higher level, then they experience more joy?

They sure do. They stick with you as they grow in their career and the companies that they work for. There’s a beautiful synergy amongst it all. I feel so grateful that I do work where the intimacy of the relationships becomes the best value there is. I do need to be paid and the intimacy of the relationships is at the heart of our business.

It sounds like you enjoy showing people a better way to live a more inspired life.

BYW 39 | Human Potential
Human Potential: When people perform at higher levels, not only do they feel better and continue to grow, but their organizations continue to perform.

 

When my team read it, there was a lot of laughter. That was autobiographical. I couldn’t have written it for myself as well as it was written, including the not-so-beautiful parts, which were so delicately put. My team might have been a little more direct on that part, that constant and never-ending improvement.

I know what it’s like because I live in that same world. We can’t turn it off. It’s just the way it is. You go to bed thinking about better ways. You wake up thinking about better ways. You didn’t choose it. It’s just how we function, but it does have its pluses. You’ve written six books. Your latest book is called what?

HEADTRASH: The Leading Killer of Human Potential.

Tell us about that. It’s a better way for what?

When we understand what our head trash is and learn how to shift our head trash get out of our head trash, then all of a sudden, we can turn on our performance, happiness and everything. Head trash is a look at what’s going on in that brain of ours. We have this physical brain that we’re all aware of that’s functional and we have an emotional brain that is all about feelings and thoughts. The emotional brain we don’t talk a lot about. We talk about mindset, but the emotional brain is more complex than just, “I should be positive.”

We need to understand that there are two sides to that emotional brain. When we get that, there are two sides, the disconnected side of the emotional brain, which is where negativity, fear, anxiety, worry and concern live. It’s all those difficult negative emotions. Also, that has physical implications too, like shortness of breath. Our body can become distressed on that side of our emotional brain. The goal of life is to get over to the connected side of your emotional brain. The more time you spend on the connected side, then the more creativity you have, collaboration, happiness, joy. You’re in gratitude and appreciation when you’re over on that side and that opens up your world. When we understand how to dump our head trash, then we change anything we want because we have clarity. When you’re up late, you can’t fall asleep, that tape is going and the nasty voices are on you, it’s hard to gain clarity in a way that’s productive.

The more time you spend on your connected side, the more creativity, collaboration, and happiness you have. Click To Tweet

How do you define head trash?

Head trash are the little voices in your head that are undermining you in any way they can. They’re that self-talk that gets turned on and it’s a loop usually. It can come from things like the imprints of your past. It can come from experiences that you have with someone. Clearly, your head trash is about your thoughts. We feel the way we think. A lot of times, we’re trying to change how we feel. That’s why if we just take a drug, we can change how we feel, but it’s not getting at the core. When we change how we think, that changes how we feel. How we feel ultimately determines how we’re going to behave and what action we’re going to take. If we feel crappy and we take action, it’s usually not our best self, or I’ll at least speak for myself.

When you become more aware of it, then you can stop yourself and start to say, “How do I shift out of this?” That’s what the book focuses on. It focuses on that we all have head trash and the understanding of it and then the model of, “Own it. Shift it. Dump it.” How do you do that so that you have more joy in your life? The less head trash you have, the more space for the things that you love and want. Even your aspirations and the things that you might be frustrated by because you don’t have them, you have the space to go after them versus feel crappy and therefore, you’re stuck.

What motivated you to write a book about head trash?

First of all, I consider myself an expert on head trash. I am up there. People ask me my expertise, “How long have you been a strategist? What’s your most successful strategy?” All this other kind of baloney. “What am I an expert at?” “I can speak to head trash.” Having worked for many years with people and behind the scenes, the RCI Institute, which is another firm that I own, the institute has been studying human behavior and it is live human behavior. Aspire executes the work. We’ve worked with thousands of leaders around the globe. We’ve worked with tens and thousands of salespeople and customer service people. We have this large group, imagine 26 years of working with people and being able to understand, “How do you shift performance?” At the RCI Institute, our job is to get in there, create these processes and improve them so that people have real tools to be able to move.

BYW 39 | Human Potential
HEADTRASH: The Leading Killer of Human Potential

That’s where the book came from. This is my work of 26 years of being curious about people and helping people find improvement and find where they want to go. Also, in the book, I don’t think you can write about head trash. I think it’s inappropriate to write about head trash and talk about other people’s head trash, especially since I have plenty of it and I work on it. It’s not just the proven processes on an intellectual level. It’s my journey in there. From some people’s perspective, I may look successful, but I’m equally a big old mess as everybody else and I work on the same challenges. Hopefully, this book is helping people to move to a higher quality of life, like what they want versus where they find themselves.

The second thing is, I was almost through this book and then COVID hit. I had to put the brakes on it and come back to it after a couple of months. We studied over 100 top-performing leaders over that time. We started to zero in on, “Who was able to lead success? Who was not able to lead success?” Which, for me, became another piece of the book. I felt like as we had this pandemic called COVID-19, coming out of it, we have an epidemic of head trash. We’ve got all the stuff in our heads, our lack of control, our anger towards what happened and our feelings towards how we want to work. All that is on the disconnected side of our emotional brain and we got to help people get to the other side.

Are there a certain number of different types of head trash? Are there unlimited numbers of head trash? How do you know? Is there like, “There are five head trashes?” How does that work?

Head trash is just head trash because everyone’s head trash looks different. Some head trash we can all relate to because it’s like that question of, “Am I good enough? Can I count on you?” There’s some kind of threads that we all think about, but we’ve identified what we call the four big lies in our disconnected side. We all have one of these four and then there’s all the other stuff that’s in head trash. That’s all usually more incidental. It’s reflective of a specific thing that occurred, but it ties back to something else.

It ties back to one of these four big lies. The four big lies are, “I must be right. I must never lose. Everyone must always love me. I must always feel comfortable.” When we can identify that, that’s our big trigger. When you discover your why, you can discover what your motivation in life is. When you discover your big lie, you discover what is holding you back, where you go when you’re stuck. When you can acknowledge where you go and understand where you go when you’re stuck, then you can get out of it.

When you’re stuck, then you can go back to the four and say, “Which one of those four is the one that I’m focused on right now or the one that’s in my head all the time that I got to change so that I can move through this or get past this?” Is that what you’re saying?

When you understand your head trash and learn how to get them out, you can turn on your performance and happiness. Click To Tweet

It’s even easier than that. We all only have one. When we’re on the connected side of our emotional brain, none of this applies. It’s just when we’re on the disconnected side, in that negative, fearful, worry, anxiety and all those challenging emotions, then that’s where one of these lies lives. It’s not like you get to change it up in your life. It just is. The, “I must be right. They must be right.” They dig in and they will get analytical. They will tell you why they are right. The only way to help them is to help them be right, shift them and move them out.

The book goes into, “How do you do that for yourself and then also for others?” Also, there’s the, “I must never lose,” which you are looking at. We will do anything for the win. In that process, we can be inconsiderate. We’re driving at solving that problem. It’s a bone that we won’t let go and we’re going to go. Also, “If you can’t help us win, then you mean nothing to us.” We don’t do it on purpose, but that’s the, “I must win.” It’s so rhinoceros-focused and then you have the, “Everybody must love me,” where everything is about connection. If they feel a sense of disconnect, they can’t function. They worry like it’s an excessive people-pleasing need.

“I must win. I’m a people-pleaser when I’m on my connected side. I don’t think about pleasing anybody when I’m on my disconnected side. I’m just all about the endgame.” The, “Everybody must love me,” must feel that connection when things are chaotic and they’re worried or fearful. The, “I must be comfortable,” is tricky because they wouldn’t be comfortable with any of this. They change at first. They cannot handle any kind of conflict or chaos well. They tend to stay quiet. There you go with postal people, where all of a sudden, out of nowhere, you’re thinking everything was okay and they let it rip. When you understand these about yourself and other people, now you can be supportive of them as well as yourself.

It’s funny listening to you as you go through those four. I can see certain people in those, me included. How you described yourself is pretty much how I would describe myself. When I’m focused on the problem and I got to get that problem done, I’m not worried if you love me or not, but in general, I would focus more on the want-to-be-liked area. It’s similar. I don’t know how that would apply or connect to the why. Seeing as you and I have the same why, I’m wondering how that goes together or if it does. That would be interesting to me.

I think that your why is this motivational switch and it’s in that connected side. Where your big lie lives and it’s only turned on, on the disconnected side. What intrigued me with the why, is that when you are focused on the why, you’re on the connected side of your emotional brain and therefore, you can gain clarity. That’s a cool way to get yourself back over to where you’re going to be productive. You’re not productive on the disconnected side. That’s when people get stuck there. We have to help people out of that mess. The four big lies are based on tens of thousands of people studying them through Aspire and our work.

BYW 39 | Human Potential
Human Potential: When you change how you think, that changes how you feel. How you feel determines how to behave and which action you need to take.

 

If you think about performance improvement, it’s a jazzed up way of saying, “We’re going to change the crap you’re doing. You’re doing it this way and you feel comfortable. We’re going to take you out of your comfort zone,” which most people don’t generally like. “We’re going to help you get to this level of doing it, but that means that this is going to change.” Your little people go nuts. Some of us get crazy and excited about it, where another person might be afraid, “What if I fail? What if I’m not as good as I used to be? What if I get passed by?” When we understand the big lie, we can coach people and develop people a lot differently. This helps our leaders have compassion and an ability to work with people in a more effective way so they can get to where they potentially can go but not by the beating.

Maybe you can give us your own story of how head trash affects you, how you get out of it and then what happens when you get out.

There are many stories. I wrote a story in the book about I’m off the Amalfi Coast and it’s beautiful. We were on this beautiful boat. I’m with my daughter and another friend. We were about to go to the Blue Hole, which is a spectacular place. I am secretly afraid of drowning. I have an imprint from way long ago. I can explain it all. Back to the matters, we were in the middle of the ocean. The two of them jumped out. We have our life jackets on. They started swimming up and I had a panic attack. I panicked, “I’m going to jump in. What if I drowned? What if they drowned? My daughter is only nine. What kind of mother am I?” The head trash starts and I can barely get myself in.

This is a dream. We’ve been planning this. There’s everything about it that’s wonderful. It has never dawned on me, but it just came to me. Eventually, I jumped in the water. I was flapping around and not having a good time. I got out and felt bad. I felt like a loser and a terrible mom. I was embarrassed. You name it. It’s no good. For me, at that moment, I didn’t have the tools to understand what I need to be thinking. A lot about our head trash is the questions that we ask that keep us in our head trash. I kept asking, “Why did we do this? What if we drowned? Am I a good enough swimmer?” Not things that are serving me versus if I had had the skills to understand that the questions that I could have immediately turned on are like, “What about this is going to be fun? What are the safety precautions that I can look around for? What else would help me jump-off with ease?”

If I had been more adept at that time, then I would have had a whole different experience and I would have seen the Blue Hole, but I didn’t. I had to get back on the boat, recover by myself and feel bad about it. I missed out on this joyful moment. Fortunately, my daughter got to see the Blue Hole. That’s an example of when we have the tools, we can work on anything. The book is there to help us be okay with it first. I wasn’t okay with it and therefore, I got stuck in it. You just dig in and we do that dance.

Attach meaning to it and then it means this and none of that and all the rest.

When you discover your why, you can discover what your motivation in life is. Click To Tweet

The next thing you know, I’m no longer a decent mother.

Renie, if people are reading and they say, “I would love to connect with Renie. I would love to learn more about the Powered by Aspire and the RCI Institute,” what’s the best way for them to get a hold of you?

They can reach me at Renie@MyHeadTrash.com. For resources on head trash, they can go to MyHeadTrash.com/VIP. At the VIP, you can get in there. We are about to start the Big Lie Test. That’s another opportunity for them to explore. Send me your questions. I’m happy to help.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten or you’ve ever given?

That depends on what day. There’s so much great advice and so many great mentors. I’ll just go with something that came up for me. When I was working for a CEO, he was a tough guy. We were in this thick discussion. It wasn’t a pleasant discussion and I’ll never forget it. He said, “Renie, I pay you to think.” I found myself chasing it a lot. I’m on the move too fast. I don’t like that feeling because it’s way out of control. It’s not strategic. It’s not how I like to operate.

That came back to me of, “What am I doing here that I need to stop doing?” It was that I had stopped what we call at Aspire, we call it TPM, Think, Prepare and Move. I had gotten so programmed because of COVID. We were moving and moving to work hard on the company, help our clients and how do we survive. All of us have been in survival. We’re moving to do whatever we can to learn more, do more, try new things more or whatever it is. It became a habit versus being thoughtful about what I’m moving on.

That’s something that, for me, it got me back to the connected side of my emotional brain to go, “Wait a minute here,” and to rethink things so that I can get back to having more proactive movement again because I feel like I’m just, “Go, go. Next, next.” I look around and I have a lot of friends, peers and people that I work beside, all kinds of people and they feel the same way. It’s a high-level energy zone. It’s not sustainable. It’s like a high pitch. For me, to get off that pitch, that’s it, “I pay you to think.” I pay myself to think like an entrepreneur.

BYW 39 | Human Potential
Human Potential: Coming out of the pandemic, people also gathered an epidemic of head trash. They have a lack of control and anger towards what happened, which directly affects their work.

 

Renie, thank you so much for taking the time out of your day. Thanks for being here. It has been great to get to know you, another better way person. I can dive right into what you’re saying and how you’re thinking and how you created all the things that you did. Thank you for spending this time with us. I look forward to staying in contact as we move forward.

Thank you, Gary.

It’s time for our new segment, which is Guess Their Why. I want you guys to think about the why of Phil Mickelson. He just won the big tournament, the PGA Championships, at age 50. Nobody had ever done that. He is the oldest guy to win a major tournament. He did it by changing the way he thinks and how he focuses. I’m curious what you think his why is. For me, I believe that his why is mastery. He is somebody that loves all the details, the nuances, the depth, the breadth, spending hours after hours, practicing these different shots and learning new ways to dive in deep and figuring out how to excel at different levels.

He is always striving for greatness, but he focused this time on focus, “How can I stay focused for the amount of time that I need to, to win the Masters?” What he would do is go out and play as many holes as he could and stay focused. He was playing like 36, 40, 45 holes a day getting ready for the PGA to be able to train his mind to focus. He has done the same thing with eating and different clubs. He is always tinkering and finding different ways, but not at a superficial level, diving in deep. He knows more about golf than probably anybody around. He is the kind of guy that loves the nuances and the details. He loves to explain them.

He dives in deep, studies it, learns it, does it, executes it, teaches it and explains it. I believe his why is mastery. If any of you know him, I would love to discover his why and then we’ll prove it. I want to thank you for reading. If you have not yet discovered your why, you can do so at WhyInstitute.com. You can use the code Podcast50 and you could discover your why for the half price. If you love the show, please don’t forget to subscribe and leave us a review and rating. Thank you so much for being here and I will see you in the next episode. Have a great week.

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About Renie Cavallari

BYW 39 | Human PotentialRenie Cavallari is the founder, CEO, and Chief Instigator of Aspire, a global transformational training and culture development company that specializes in inspired learning that shifts human behavior and awakens potential. She is also the founder of the RCI Institute, an active thinking, and people technology lab.

An award-winning international strategist, speaker, and leadership expert with an inimitable grasp of business and its challenges, she has driven measurable results for businesses with her innovative solutions around the world for over30 years.

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Podcast

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

BYW 35 John Livesay | Creating Clarity

 

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

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

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

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

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

Gary, thanks for having me. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Confident people are comfortable with silence. Click To Tweet

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

Why are stories effective? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tell us about Michael Phelps. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tell us about that. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

You got to throw in the music at the end. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks. 

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

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

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About John Livesay

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

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

BYW 34 | Good Coach

 

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

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

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

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

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

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

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

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

Jamy, welcome to the show.

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

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

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

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

Where’d you grow up?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where did you coach?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you teach somebody to get buy-in?

BYW 34 | Good Coach
They Call Me Coach

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have you always been a good problem solver?

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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About Jamy Bechler

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

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Podcast

Innovating Lives, The Better Way With Paul Allen

BYW 33 | Innovate Lives

 

Paul Allen understands that relationship strengthening and viral marketing is the industry that requires constant learning how every trend affects decision-making in the family and the community. A platform’s potential to be viral can be pointed to a growing community’s interest and how well they build a discussion towards the platform’s topics on how to innovate lives.

As the Founder and CEO of Soar, Paul fulfills his why of “better way” by helping people unlock their potential through connection and utilizing the wealth of knowledge that has been accumulated over generations. In this episode, Paul joins Dr. Gary Sanchez to discuss how viral marketing is associated with progressing business and how family strengthening is achieved through different factors, not just by initial analysis.

Are you interested in the opportunities of growing your following and seeing opportunities in its early stages? Take part in the discussion and learn more from Paul’s experience.

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

Innovating Lives, The Better Way With Paul Allen

If you’re a regular reader, you know that every episode, we talk about 1 of the 9 whys, and then we bring on somebody with that why so you can see how their why has played out in their life. We are going to be talking about the why of a better way. If this is your why, you are the ultimate innovator. You constantly seeking better ways to do everything from the most mundane tasks of brushing your teeth to improving the rocket fuel that powers the space shuttle. You can’t stop yourself. You take virtually anything and want to improve it, make it better, and share your improvement with the world.

You invent things and take what has already been invented and improve that, too. You constantly ask yourself the question, “What if we tried this differently? What if we did this another way?” You contribute to the world with better processes, better systems, and operate under the motto, often pleased and never satisfied. You are excellent at associating and taking from one industry or discipline and applying it to another, always with the aim of improving something. You generally operate with a high level of energy because after all, that, too, is a better way.

I’ve got a great guest for you. His name is Paul Allen. Paul is a mission-driven tech entrepreneur known for Founding Ancestry.com and Soar.com. He founded eight companies since 1990 and led the Global Strengths Movement for Gallup from 2012 to 2017. He is a popular keynote speaker, workshop facilitator, and an advocate for lifelong learning. He teaches how our identity comes from knowing our family stories as well as from our personal strengths. He has spoken in many countries around the world including the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, China, and New Zealand.

Paul taught entrepreneurship for two years at Utah Valley University and internet marketing for two years at BYU. He was an Ernst & Young Utah Entrepreneur of the Year in 2000 and the MarketingSherpa National Entrepreneur of the year in 2008. He is a fellow of the Utah Genealogical Association and was named a Cyber Pioneer in 2010 by the Cyber Law Section of the Utah State Bar. He was the Honored Alumnus of BYU Humanities College in 2016, having graduated in 1990 with a BA in Russian. Paul and his wife Christy live in Kansas City, Missouri. They have eight children and five grandchildren.

Paul, welcome to the show.

Thank you, Gary. I’m so excited to talk to you. I loved your description of the better way. Every single thing resonated with me, so you’ve nailed it with this assessment.

Take us back through your journey. Give us a quick tour of your journey from being that sounds like at BYU to how the heck did you get to Soar.com?

I never want in my young life to be a business person or an entrepreneur. It never even was on my radar. I loved learning and every school subject when I went to university. I changed majors multiple times because every class I took, I’m like, “I want to major in this.” I ended up majoring in Russian, but I started a Master’s degree in Library Science. My entrepreneur journey was started accidentally when I went to a university conference where the president of the university was awarding honors to great faculty researchers and the best teachers in the university. My father was receiving the Karl G. Maeser Research Award because my father invented software in the ’70s and ’80s. It was used by hundreds of manufacturing companies throughout the United States like Lockheed Martin, Caterpillar, Westinghouse, and Boeing. They used his technology for classifying parts and processes to take raw material through manufacturing processes and create higher value.

My dad was a world-famous classificationist and decision tree software developer. He had a team that built the software, but he was the visionary. At the conference that I was at honoring my dad, the president of the university talked about gathering up all the truth in the world and bringing it to students and communities of learners. I was working part-time at my brother’s search engine company. He had a software company called Folio in the ’80s and I was running a Kurzweil $40,000 OCR scanner, and trying to build searchable info bases. We were scanning little bits here and there. This president of the university had a vision for putting all the world’s knowledge at people’s fingertips. I thought, “Why don’t I go do that?”

Two years later, I started a nonprofit with my dad. It didn’t go anywhere. My best friend and I decided our mission for our first company will be to digitize all the world’s most important books in every field of human knowledge, put them on CD-ROM using the Folio search engine, and see how many people we can help with their learning journey. A few years later, we made the Inc. 500. We were making $4 million a year in top-line revenue. At that point, I realized I’m not going ever to go back into academia. I love being an entrepreneur. Some of the coolest people I’d ever met were entrepreneurs. I embraced it finally in ’95 and ’96.

From there, that led to Ancestry.com. Was that your next big venture?

One of the interesting things we realized in the first five years of CD-ROM publishing is that almost everything good is under copyright by author or publisher, and licensing all the best books ever written in every field was impossible. I started spending hundreds of hours in libraries in the old public domain section, the history section, the literature section, and some old science work. We came across genealogical collections of tens of thousands of books containing birth, marriage, and death records data.

Connecting families is not just connecting you to your past. It takes on a live, current social context. Click To Tweet

In September of ’95, I went to an internet conference in San Francisco where it hit me for the first time that CD-ROM is going to go away. It’s like this temporary storage and distribution mechanism, but when the World Wide Web is available everywhere, all the world’s knowledge will be stored there. The term cloud computing hadn’t been invented yet, but it struck me powerfully in September of ’95 that we could digitize all the world’s genealogy records, put them on the internet, not pay royalties for any of it, and build the world’s biggest genealogy company, which we started doing in 1996.

Take us through this because when I hear you say that, that sounds overwhelming. “I’ll take all this data and digitize it.” How do you go about doing something like that?

As a twenty-something-year-old, I ran a $40,000 scanner and could scan a couple of hundred pages an hour and edit it. You end up with this pristine searchable database or text-based on a small scale, but digitization of content was happening all over the place. I remember, we had to get nine-track magnetic tapes from the government and we would take data off of that. I don’t go back to the ticker punch card days as my dad did, but more books were being published electronically. It wasn’t necessarily all about digitizing what was done in the past. It was partly about all the birth, marriage, and death records are now digital to begin with. In the late ’90s, cameras became digital.

You didn’t have to go scan all the old photographs. I saw the writing on the wall where the world is heading because the content will start out digitally. That will make it almost free to index it and license it or make it available online. The old content that we knew we have to raise hundreds of millions of dollars or someday billions of dollars would be going into scanning all the world’s microfilm collections, all the records in courthouses, and church archives. That’s why we decided to raise tens of millions of dollars of venture capital was the digitization costs would be enormous. We figured that eventually we could get it done.

How far back did you go before you launched it?

In June of 1996, we put 55 million records on the internet. It was the Federal Government’s nine-track tape. They had a $2,800 reel that we could buy. It was 55 million Social Security records of people who had been deceased. The Social Security administration had reported their birthday and location, their parents’ names, and then how long they obtained Social Security benefits. It was a great starting point for genealogy in the 20th century. That database was sold by dozens of vendors as a CD-ROM collection for $29 or $59. We put it up for free on the internet. Within a year, we had a million visitors a month coming to our website and we started small. We made a promise to our customers that every single day we would publish one small, medium, or a large database of new genealogical records.

We started working with content providers and genealogy societies. For years, Ancestry would add 10,000, 50,000, or 1 million records. Over time, we grew to billions of records. Every day our subscription became more valuable to more people. Especially in ’98, when we came up with a concept called the Ancestry World Tree, where we invited every genealogist in the world to upload their family tree and we would index it all and make it available outside of our paid wall. We were building the Wikipedia of family trees and it was all free. At that point, our growth exploded because we had millions of people uploading their trees and thousands or tens of thousands of connected names in trees that had sometimes taken 10 or 20 years to build. New users would come in and say, “Here are my great grandparents. I can go back ten generations automatically.” That was the tipping point for Ancestry as a successful company. It was user-generated content at scale.

What was your original vision for Ancestry.com?

BYW 33 | Innovate Lives
Innovate Lives: Almost everything good is under copyright by author or publisher and licensing all the best books ever written in every field is impossible.

 

Basically, to digitize all the world’s genealogy records and put them on the internet. That’s where it started. Where it morphed to was community-generated content. What that morphed to is even more interesting and unexpected. People in the world of business even though Ancestry is worth $5 billion don’t know this next chapter. We morphed our vision from genealogy on the internet to let’s connect and strengthened families worldwide. Connecting families is not just connecting you to your past, but connecting families started to take on a live current social context. I had a dream one night that we built an intranet for every family in the world. Those cousins, aunts, and uncles, second cousins, everyone could gather in private groups, share photos with each other, have a shared calendar of birthdays and anniversaries, upload content like recipes, and even do voiceover IP chats with any relative in the world.

Six years before Skype was invented, we launched MyFamily.com, whereas Ancestry was growing slowly but surely, MyFamily.com is the idea that attracted the first $75 million of venture capital. None of the VCs were interested in the Ancestry thing until they found out that MyFamily.com was going to be photo-sharing for all the families in the world. We had this private secure way for families to share content. It grew to a million users in 145 days. It started growing by 20,000 or 30,000 users a day. Every VC we talked to felt guilty that they weren’t sharing their family, their kids’ photos with their mom or their dad. They weren’t as connected to their living family as they knew they should be and in the long run that everyone values family. In the day-to-day grind, sometimes we lose touch with people.

The money flowed. It was because of that idea that Ancestry raised all the money after the dot-com bubble burst and tragically, MyFamily.com was turned from a free site growing like crazy into a paid site that over the next fifteen years served fewer families every year. It could have been Facebook scale in a way if the investors hadn’t turned it into a $30 a year paid subscription but that’s not what happened. What ended up happening has Ancestry turned into a $1 billion a year revenue company. MyFamily was shut down in 2015.

It sounds like your vision started out as information-based and ended up like a family reunion.

It became about not data but about relationships and connections among living family members. It turns out that family is the most important thing in the world for most humans. There’s about 7% of adults in America that will spend time and money doing genealogy research. The polls we’ve seen show that 95% of people say that it’s important for them to stay in touch with living relatives. Even though family sizes continued to decline when you find a cousin, an aunt, an uncle, a niece, or nephew, staying in touch with them and even connecting to an extended family is a big part of the human experience. People value that. MyFamily.com was popular and had potential than Ancestry.com did.

Have you ever thought about bringing it back?

I started to in 2007. I was a post-Ancestry for a few years and a great social entrepreneur friend of mine sat down and had a social website for college students. I thought, “Why don’t we morph that into a website for families?” We started a company called Family Link. We were a few months into building the replacement for MyFamily.com. When I went to San Francisco and met Mark Zuckerberg, the day that he announced a Facebook platform, he held an event called F8. It’s fate for short. There were about 65 software developers that they highlighted as partners of Facebook. At that time, they only had 24 million Facebook users but they were growing fast. I was teaching internet marketing at a university and I knew all my students were using Facebook. I was using Facebook to test it out. When Zuckerberg announced the platform, I got on the phone call with my lead product guy.

I said, “We’re shifting our company. Instead of building a destination website for families, we’ll build apps for families on top of Facebook.” By October of 2007, we launched our first app. It was called We’re Related. It allowed you to privately share photos with your relatives on Facebook and collaborate on a Family Tree with your other relatives. We started having 15,000 people a day started Family Tree. It was quite remarkable, but we started adding a million users a week with no dollars spent on advertising. We tapped into the Facebook viral loops. Within 2.5 years, we had 120 million users of We’re Related and 10 million users on a little app called MyFamily, which was a little stick figure app that we acquired. We had 130 million Facebook users. In 2010, Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook kicked all the apps off of their platform. It made them undiscoverable and impossible for us to communicate with our 120 million users.

95% of people consider being close to their living relatives as more important than spending time and money doing genealogical research. Click To Tweet

Disney had come to us to sell all of our ad space for us because we were the most family-friendly app in the Facebook world. We lost $700,000 in monthly ad revenue and had to lay off 40 people. We tried to resurrect the MyFamily idea. When it was shut down by Facebook, they ended up building some of our key functionality into the Facebook platform. Whereas it used to be, you could only be friends with someone, you were friends with your sister, friends, with your grandma. We had hundreds of different relationship types family, my cousin, my aunt, and my uncle. Shortly after Facebook kicked us off of the platform, they now had all of those different relationship types so that you could define how you were connected to all your relatives on Facebook. It was very disappointing to be kicked off and then to be replaced.

You probably are not a huge Zuckerberg fan?

The swear word in my family when anything ever goes wrong, all of my kids will say under their breath, Zuckerberg.

You started Ancestry.com. It started growing like crazy. How big did it get and then you sold it? Did you approached by another organization that says, “We want this?” How did that happen?

We almost went public in early 2000. I moved to the Bay Area. I lived in Los Altos Hills. We moved our headquarters of Ancestry.com and MyFamily.com to San Francisco. We chose our bank, Merrill Lynch to take us public. We wrote our S-1 and they were saying we were going to be a $1 billion IPO. On the first day after the IPO, we would trade at $1.5 billion because we missed the window. We had hired a new CEO and CFO who wanted to delay the IPO a little bit. Six years later, a lot of our investors were tired. The board of directors chose to sell the company to a private equity fund. In 2009, the company went public finally. It was a nine-year delay from what we thought would be the IPO to when the company did an IPO. At that point, I didn’t own any shares because the private equity fund bought out all the existing shareholders in 2006. I haven’t owned any shares in Ancestry since 2006.

I’m sure it’s still worked out great for you, though.

Pretty well.

You’re now out of Ancestry.com. You’ve done some of these other family apps. Tell us about the idea for Soar.com.

BYW 33 | Innovate Lives
Innovate Lives: Soar’s vision is to unlock the greatest potential through discovering their why, strengths, connecting them to people like coaches and teachers, and connecting them to the collective humanity’s wisdom and intelligence.

 

My friend worked at Gallup and it is one of the world’s best companies around assessments of talent and potential leadership training. They’ve published dozens of bestselling books, but they also do a poll in the United States and a world poll. Gallup has maybe more data about humans in every country and what matters to people than almost any other organization in the world. My friend worked there, and the StrengthsFinder Assessment was one of their biggest selling products, but it would be bundled in books for 15 years or 12 years. They decided to do an eCommerce play maybe and make it available without books, just by the code, and take the assessment. My friend, who I had mentored in early 2000 as a young entrepreneur said, “If you want to make something go viral, like StrengthsFinder, you should bring in my friend, Paul, who’s done it multiple times.”

I started consulting for Gallup in 2012. I fell in love with their assessment. Thought it explained me better than anything I’d ever seen before. I took Gallup’s leadership team to Silicon Valley saying, “How we build this into social networks like LinkedIn, Yammer, Facebook, and Google Plus,” and then Gallop made me a full-time job offer. We moved to the DC area and spent five years, which I cherish every minute and every memory. I gained great knowledge and understanding of people, culture, leadership, surveys, how to find out what people think, and how to do something about it. I consider Jim Clifton, one of the great CEOs in the world. He’s the one that acquired the Gallup polling company from George Gallup’s sons. His father, Don Clifton, is the inventor of Strength Psychology, and the StrengthsFinder Assessment which rolled out a few years before he died in 2003.

I got a completely new view of life and what matters through the Gallup lens. I decided to launch a coaching platform to help everyone in the world who’s taking an assessment to get great coaching after taking the assessment. We invented something shortly after that. It allows us to store billions of hours of teaching, coaching, and training content in the Cloud and then to use AI to play for each listener or learner the very audio clips or video clips from the people that they ought to be exposed to in order to develop their talents, pursue their why, and reach their full potential on Earth.

Soar’s vision is to take all the things I learned in 30 years and weave them together into what you could call a human potential platform. How do you unlock the greatest potential of every human being through discovering their why, their strengths, connecting them to people like coaches and teachers, and then connecting them to the collective humanity’s wisdom and intelligence, hopefully soon stored in the Soar audio and video Cloud, and then available through smartphones or smart speakers? We think about Jarvis as an AI assistant for everyone because everyone’s an Iron Man. Potentially, if you fulfill your purpose, you’ll be the very best version of yourself, but AI could assist you in getting there. That’s the long-term vision for Soar.

You don’t do anything small scale, do you?

I’m not Elon Musk because I don’t invent core technologies. I’m not a brilliant rocket scientist, solar genius, or spaceship person. I’m not into the core fundamentals of physics and things, but I do see how to weave together some ingredients, particularly viral marketing, so that something good and helpful to people could scale to tens of millions or hundreds of millions, maybe someday billions of people. I do see how that plays out. I am a systems thinker and I’m very disparate in my reading, my learning, and listening. I’m not trained in business or technology. I never had a single class in college or a school around technology or business. It’s like this weird, eclectic education that leads me to think differently. From what I understand, there’s a $2 trillion company that says, “You should think differently.” I unwittingly do that.

For the readers that are familiar with the WhyOS, the why, how, and what, Paul and I have spent some time together. We know that Paul’s why is to find a better way as we talked about how he does that by seeking mastery and understanding meaning diving in deep. What he brings is a way to contribute, add value, and have an impact on the lives of other people. As you know his story, you can know that coming to life in the way that he does this. Paul, you said something that I don’t want to let you not expand on for our readers, which was, your friend said, “You got to talk to my friend, Paul, who knows a lot about making things go viral.” The billion-dollar question is, how do you take something and make it go viral?

There are lots of people that talk about viral marketing. Sometimes, people talk about a YouTube video or a TikTok video that gets shared by millions of people so it gets tens of millions of views. I don’t understand video that well. I don’t understand creativity and shooting something funny or that’s touching. I don’t have a lot of creative genes. I can’t draw. I’m not artistic. I’m the opposite of that. I’m an analytics-led person. I love numbers, doing math, and forecasting things in my head. The way I view viral marketing is that you engineer viral marketing into the product experience. Here’s a simple example. If I take an assessment and I take 5 or 10 minutes to answer a bunch of questions, I get a valuable report back.

Facebook knew that everything can be social. They reinvented the news, games, banking and everything they do is engineered to be social. Click To Tweet

That could be a good experience for an individual. If the process of taking the assessment includes me telling you who my spouse is, my partner, my parents, my children, or my closest friends and say, “After you take the assessment, we want to share the results with ten people who know you well so that they can add a few positive comments to each item in your report.” If you design it to be not a solo experience but a group experience, out of the 10 people, 5 of them will make a comment. Two of them will say, “I want to take this assessment too. This is pretty cool.” When MyFamily.com was started, the average new user would invite 4.5 family members to join them in their group. If you start a group site and nobody’s in it, then it doesn’t grow.

It’s like you drop it. You leave. If you get 4.5 people in it and one of them happens to be the genealogist of the family or the other one happens to be the photographer of the family, they start posting content and started inviting people. Pretty soon, you have 30 people in your group. That was viral marketing, but it was engineered into the product. It wasn’t an afterthought. It was designed to work that way. Mark Zuckerberg is more than anyone in the world realize that every industry, every product, everything could become social. Facebook’s team tried to reinvent the news and make it social. Reinvent games and make them social. Reinvent cryptocurrency but banking. Every single thing they do is engineered to be social from day one. That’s why they’re affecting billions of people. All kinds of products can be designed to be viral as a core part of the experience.

I don’t think I would have thought of that way. I’m so glad you mentioned that. I would have thought, “How do I create something funny as you said or something different and send it out to everybody I know to see if they’ll send it out to become viral.” You start at the beginning and create it that way so that it becomes a group experience. I love that.

If you watch all the fastest-growing apps of all time, starting with the Facebook world and then the smartphone apps, they all not only do what I’m describing, but they also import data. For example, Clubhouse, which grew to 10 million users in a few months. When you start using it, it asks you to get your contacts and incorporate your contacts into the Clubhouse experience. Now, it knows who everyone you know on your phone. Most of the fast-growing apps either leveraged your Facebook social graph of all your friends on Facebook, your Twitter social graph, your iPhone, or Android contact list. Most people are not privacy-oriented, they say yes.

The company has access to Gary Sanchez knows 1,000 people on his smartphone, and then it makes it easy for them to prompt you later to say, “Would you like to invite these other ten people to come and check this out?” Rather than a one-time viral video share, which doesn’t give you much substance about each user. Sometimes, you don’t even know who the users or viewers are with integrating contact importing, address books, or email lists into the user experience upfront. It makes it that much faster for those apps to go viral.

What other ways than could we make it go viral? You got me thinking about obviously the why discovery and how to make that go viral. I’m picking your brain for all of our readers.

You and I are going to have this conversation down the road. I love the Why Assessment and I love the WhyOS. I want your stuff to scale to a billion people. It will help a lot of people around the world to know their why, their how, and their what. One other way is when an assessment result comes back if you could create a badge or an image that would be shareable on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. It’s different than the mechanism I described where you’re asking for feedback and input from people that know and love you. In this case, it’s just social media posts and it could say, “Everybody, here’s what I discovered about my why, my how, and my what. Click here to get your own Why Assessment.” Maybe there’s a light version that’s free, people can register, and take that.

There’s an official rich version that’s combined with a coaching session. Let’s say I posted in 5,000 people see it, 50 click on it, and 5 sign up. That’s viral. That was again engineered into the product experience. At the end of the product experience, you created a sharable, or it could be them holding a photo of a report, a smiley face, or whatever and then posting the photo of themselves. It could be all things but you would test all different outputs from the assessment that might be fun for people to share. I actually, know of an assessment. I won’t tell you which one it is, but I’m confident that if I ever could license this assessment, we would get a billion people to take it within 1 or 2 years. It’s different than what you’ve done or what other psychological assessments are. It’s a relationship assessment. I won’t go into more detail but it would be crazy viral.

BYW 33 | Innovate Lives
Innovate Lives: You need to know your why, your how and your what, and then you need to be paired with the right person telling the right story that will help you today to take the next step in your journey.

 

Your mind is always thinking that way and you’re always looking for, “I get what you’re doing, but how can we bring this to the world?”

My first marketing book that I bought in ’95, ’96 was called Guerrilla Marketing Online Weapons: 100 Low Cost, High Impact Weapons for Online Profits and Prosperity. Those hundred rules, I studied them over again. How can we use these to get customers to do word of mouth? Every time an Amazon box ships, everybody sees the Amazon swoosh. That’s a guerrilla marketing tactic. It’s not viral marketing as much as it’s a guerrilla marketing tactic. You look anywhere, you’ll find people still using those 100 rules and lots of new ones as a by-product of doing business. More people find out about you than otherwise would.

Let’s talk now a little bit more about Soar because there’s so much more to that than what our readers yet have known. Talk to us about artificial intelligence. What are you thinking in terms of that? Tell them a little bit about what you’re doing with Zoom because I know you’ve collaborated with Zoom. It’s fascinating. I’m scared to say the word Alexa around here because I got one right behind me. That’s a big part of it. Let everybody know what you’re doing.

Imagine a world where billions of hours of great lectures, podcasts, radio shows, webinars, all the great teachers, and thinkers, that world already exists but it’s all distributed. You’ve got Spotify. You’ve got audible. You’ve got great courses. You’ve got TED Talks. You’ve got great content everywhere, but it’s hard to know what’s good for you. If you could listen to an entrepreneur lecture, which one of the millions of hours of entrepreneur stories or lectures should you listen to? You need to know where you are on your entrepreneur journey. You need to know your why, your how, and your what, and you need to be paired with the right person telling the right story that will help you take the next step in your journey.

The more that Soar can ask people where they are, where they want to go, using assessments, and coaching will get a better picture of each person. When you tell us where you want to go, we will have soon indexed hundreds of thousands, millions, billions of hours of teaching, training, coaching, and other great content. We will be able to say, “People like you, Gary, have benefited most from listening to this speaker of this podcast or this author. Here’s what it will do to help you in your next step in your career or your business.” At scale, we want to organize the world’s useful information and provide an AI recommendation to help you, not just in your entrepreneurship and your career. That’s a big part of life. We spend 90,000 hours doing our jobs. It’s best if you love it and you’re good at it but in your physical health, financial well-being, relationships, and faith experience.

You mentioned our Zoom integration, wouldn’t it be cool if your favorite pastor, minister, rabbi, imam, or any of your religious leaders that you personally chose to be a part of their community, if all of their sermons and messages were not only recorded but transcribed and indexed, and now available to you for the rest of your life on your smartphone or smart speaker so that a message they shared two years ago that touched you at the time is available at the tip of your tongue. You could say, “Alexa, what did my pastor say about the good Samaritan? Alexa, what did my pastor say about anger or forgiveness?” It transported you back to that three-minute clip where they told a story and exhorted you to be forgiving, overcome anger, or love your neighbor.

We think humans deserve the power of near-perfect recall of all the content that matters most in every area of life. That’s where Soar hopes to be is the content, AI, and recommendations, but again, user-generated content will be the key, just like it was an Ancestry. When you upload all your family audio and video, you can instantly retrieve any bit of it from any device five years in the future and share it with your children or grandchildren. When you do that with your faith sermon library, your collection of inspiring messages from your hand-chosen religious figure, not from a televangelist who has been maybe over-published or has been on the air for 20 to 30 years. Your personal pastor, minister, rabbi, or priest who knows your family, they’ve been a part of your religious journey, and you now have their messages in your pocket or on your voice device, social entrepreneurship, even political.

Gary, this is a sad realization to me. I ask a lot of people, “Do you think you’re a great citizen of this country? Do you know who your school board members are, your city council member, your mayor, your state legislators? Do you know their names?” The vast majority of people don’t know. We don’t even know what they’re saying or thinking on any subject. If we know your ZIP code, we could take all the recordings of all the political meetings that are being held at every level of government. The Federal Government’s pretty antagonistic and toxic all the different organizations or our bodies are pretty gridlocked.

Don’t take advice from somebody just because they’re successful. 90% of the advice you will get is going to be wrong for you. Click To Tweet

At the local level, if I had a playlist of what my local leaders have said about charter schools, literacy, clean water, safety, policing, or anything, and I could just say, “Alexa, what do my representatives say about this subject?” All of a sudden, I get a five-minute playlist and I know exactly what all of my representatives are saying. I can reach out to them and say, “I have an idea or I support you on this.” We’re all detached from what is going on at every level of government. The Soar platform can address that along with the other areas of human existence.

What I think was fascinating about it is you don’t have to hear a whole sermon if you don’t want to. You talk about a particular subject or something that you remembered and it gives you like a minute before or after or something.

We’re working with AI to determine what’s the right clips within a 45-minute sermon. When did they change subjects, pause, or shift? You might have a one-minute clip followed by a 3 minute then 5 minute. You don’t want to capture an incomplete thought and miss the punchline of any story or message. The clips will be of varying lengths in the future. They’re every 60 seconds. You could search, find, and play the 60-second clip. Using AI, we can start to determine the best flipping point in any long format, audio, or video. We filed a patent called precision-recall in cloud computing. It’s quite mind-boggling to think that if you take any file of audio or video or any content at all and stored it in the Cloud, you can retrieve any file out of one quadrillion files by using a 2 or 3-word catchphrase.

In other words, we’re giving a 2 or 3 words ZIP code to every single piece of content up to one quadrillion files. If I say to Alexa, “Alexa, get King Dream.” King Dream has been assigned to Dr. King’s speech on the mall in 1963. If I say, “Get Nobel Malala.” The Nobel Malala phrase has been assigned to her Nobel speech. Any clip or long format piece of content can have a 1, 2, or 3-word catchphrase or voice tag. We hope that over time users will start uploading meaningful nuggets, gems, key takeaways from conferences, assigning it a 1, 2, or 3-word phrase, and then sharing it publicly. All of those pieces of content will be discoverable through a Google search, playable on your browser, your smartphone, or your smart speaker. We cover all the technology platforms and that precision-recall allows humans to do more with nuggets of wisdom that has never been possible before.

That is amazing undertaking that you’ve decided to go down this path. I remember you told me this one day. You said I’ve helped people figure out where they came from and now I want to help them figure out where they want to go or help them get where they want to go. Is that how you said it?

That’s generally the gist of what Soar is about. We’re not about dictating anybody’s values, beliefs, or journey. What we are about is collectively harnessing intelligence and wisdom from lots of people who’ve succeeded in various aspects of life, try to surface the nuggets, and then expose those learnings, knowledge, and content to future Soar-journers on this Earth who are now making their way through life. As soon as you tell the platform who you are and where you want to go, we have this big menu of opportunities and connecting you to knowledge and people that you never heard of before, but they are suited to you and to that next step in your journey. It’s about a platform that enables and empowers people with knowledge and wisdom from other people. We’re simply trying to connect the other great humans who have wise things to say and they’ve made wise choices with the future humans and the current humans who are trying to figure out our path through life.

It’s not about guiding or dictating values. It’s about unlocking the best path for each person using their identity, why, how, and then the knowledge that exists out there in the universe. I had a coach once who told me that when you start moving forward, the universe tends to provision you on your journey when you have clarity about where you’re trying to go. Think about all the gifts we have in this world. We have nature, abundance, technology, knowledgeable people, books, music, art, and culture. We have all these beautiful things out there to guide us along the way.

The question is, “Do you find the provisions you need as you move through life.” If we’re all distracted with our screens 3.5 trillion hours this year looking at our screens playing games, we might not see what resources exist. Some of which are free that could provision us to take the next step to lead to success, thriving, and flourishing. We’re talking big general broad terms and who knows whether we can pull it off at scale. We’re going for it because we have investors, employees, and customers. We’re looking forward to the coming years where all of those people together can provide a wonderful human potential platform for as many people as want to sign up for it.

BYW 33 | Innovate Lives
Innovate Lives: Humans deserve the power of near-perfect recall of the content that matters most in every area of life.

 

My last question for you, I know I’m probably keeping you longer than we had anticipated, but it’s so fascinating. What is the best advice that you’ve ever either gotten or given to somebody?

I’ve got a lot of advice once I was so unhappy that MyFamily was going to be shut down on the sideline that a venture capitalist who had invested in the company and helped save the company. I was going to quit the company. He said, “You’re like a little boy on a field saying, I don’t like how the soccer games going. I’m taking my ball and going home.” That’s not the advice you want to hear but it shocked me. I ended up not exiting the company at that stage on bad terms. It helped me to stay through, get Ancestry profitable, and leave on good terms with everybody. That was my friend, Paul, who gave me that advice.

Now the best advice I give people is that 90% of the advice you get is wrong for you. My best advice is don’t take advice from everybody just because they’re successful. They’re wired a certain way. They have a certain how, why and what. They have certain strengths. If you take advice from people that are successful, it probably won’t work for you because you have a different neurological pathway, pattern of thinking, feeling, and behaving. My best advice is to find the people out there that are wired like you that have the same patterns that you have and the same values, and then try to use them as your role models and mentors.

If the advice they give aligns with you and will work for you, it won’t feel hard and It won’t be a struggle. It’ll be natural because you have God-given talents. You were designed to do certain things well. If you can find advice from other people who were designed similarly, no one is designed identically with anybody else. I had an entrepreneur friend who used to give me advice. It made me feel sick about myself. I felt like I sucked. I was a failure because I can’t do Joshua’s version of entrepreneurship. My advice is to be careful who you take advice from.

You got me thinking. I’m going to start testing this. Getting advice from people with my same why. You’re a perfect example. You’re a better way. Every time I hear you speak, it’s exactly what I would like to hear and the way I would like to hear. It’s fascinating to me.

I feel exactly the same way about you. Your Why Assessment could provide a lens through which all the world’s knowledge and information could be filtered so that people with each why, how, and what could start to get. That’s why I’m so excited about your show and the fact that you’re already interviewing people who do live 1 of those 9 whys. You can use machine learning to identify people’s why’s all over the world, teachers, entrepreneurs, leaders, and then use that as machine learning. We have a lot to do together, Gary. You have an assessment that’s beautiful and scalable. We have a platform that could give people a lifelong journey after taking your assessment which could connect them to resources, provisions, and people that would unlock their best future good. We’re going to be partnering in a lot of ways, I hope because whenever you talk, I’m like, “I love how this guy thinks.”

The last thing is how can people get ahold of you, who would you like to get ahold of you, and who are you looking to connect with?

I wish we were ready for every person to sign into Soar and download our products. Our applications have matured a lot in the past few months. The content that I’ve been talking about, the hundreds of thousands or millions of hours, that’s still around the corner. The people that are most important to Soar are publishers, authors, and aggregators. If you have content that you would like to transcribe an index and make available on the Soar platform in these clips as well as in the long format, contact me at Paul@Soar.com. We’re also talking to investors. Anyone who’s got great content or is a creator, especially if you know thousands of audio or video hours that ought to be added to the Soar platform. We’ll be partnering with large companies and organizations that have hundreds of thousands or millions of customers and employees who want access to the content. We’re starting with the content first then we’ll work with distribution partners.

Are you still focused a little bit on coaching and coaches?

Coaching is a part of the Soar platform. The video integration we have with Zoom, coaches who use Soar with their clients can provide a recording or a transcript. The clients can have lifelong recall of what did my coach say about mindfulness and toxic workplaces. We all forget we have a great coaching session like we go to church and hear a great sermon. The next day, we can’t recall anything. We’re trying to say, “Let’s give you recall and allow you to highlight the things that you want to repeat over again until it goes into your long-term memory or into your way of being.” Over time, we’ll all become better humans faster.

Paul, thank you so much for taking an hour out of your day to be here with us. I was looking so forward to this. I knew we were going to get some great content out of this and ideas and thoughts. I look forward to us collaborating in many years. I’m excited to be new buddies.

Thanks, Gary.

It’s time for our new segment, which is on guests their why. This is going to be an easy one for everybody. I’m going to pick the why of Steve Jobs. Everybody’s familiar with Steve Jobs and knows about his life, how he lived his life, and how he built Apple. I’m curious to know what you think is Steve Jobs’ why. I’m darn sure on this one. I believe that Steve Jobs’s why is to challenge the status quo and think differently. I’m also sure that his, how he did that was by finding a better way. I’m sure that what he ultimately delivered was a simple solution.

His why is to challenge the status quo. How he did that was a simple solution to help others move forward. You saw this in his life and you see this Apple as he was the visionary of Apple. When you think about what is Apple’s tagline, “Think differently.” Where do you think that came from? It’s directly from Steve Jobs. If you’ve enjoyed Beyond Your Why Podcast, please rate us and share us with your friends so that we can reach our vision of helping 1 billion people discover, make decisions, and live based on their why, how and, what. Have a great week.

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About Paul Allen

BYW 33 | Innovate LivesPaul Allen is a mission-driven tech entrepreneur known for founding Ancestry.com and Soar.com. He founded 8 companies since 1990 and led the global strengths movement for Gallup from 2012-2017. He is a popular keynote speaker and workshop facilitator, and an advocate for life-long learning.

He teaches how our identity comes from knowing our family stories as well as from our personal strengths. He has spoken in many countries around the world, including the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, China and New Zealand.

Paul taught entrepreneurship for 2 years at Utah Valley University and internet marketing for 2 years at BYU.  He was an Ernst & Young Utah Entrepreneur of the Year in 2000, and the MarketingSherpa National Entrepreneur of the Year in 2008.

He is a fellow of the Utah Genealogical Association and was named a Cyber Pioneer in 2010 by the Cyber Law Section of the Utah State Bar. He was the honored alumnus of the BYU Humanities College in 2016, having graduated in 1990 with a BA in Russian.

Paul and his wife Christy live in Kansas City, Missouri. They have 8 children and 5 grandchildren.

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Podcast

Cody Cottle: A Motivational Speaker’s Story Of Finding The Best Version Of Himself

BYW 32 | Motivational Speaker

 

Cody Cottle believes that there is a better way to inspire people to take their work to the next level. After discovering his gift in public speaking and building communities of like-minded people, Cody dedicated himself to help others find a better way in life through his work as a motivational speaker.

Listen as he talks about how he got out of being with the wrong company thanks to the proper mentorship of his cancer-stricken neighbor. By realizing his true purpose in life, he started the Facebook group-turned-company Motivation Everything, inspiring people to discover the best version of themselves. He also shares how he motivated himself to become a better person, a powerful public speaker, and a consistent content creator who releases inspiring videos every single day.

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

Cody Cottle: A Motivational Speaker’s Story Of Finding The Best Version Of Himself

If you’re a regular reader, you know that every episode, we talk about 1 of the 9 whys, and then we bring on somebody with that why so you can see how their why has played out in their life. We are going to be talking about the why of a better way. If this is your why, then you are the ultimate innovator. You constantly seek better ways to do everything from the most mundane tasks of brushing your teeth to improving the rocket fuel that powers the space shuttle. You can’t stop yourself. You take virtually anything and want to improve it, make it better and share your improvement with the world.

You invent things and take what has already been invented and improve that, too. You constantly ask yourself the question, what if we tried this differently? What if we did this another way? You contribute to the world with better processes, better systems, and operate under the motto, often pleased and never satisfied. You are excellent at associating and taking from one industry or discipline and applying it to another, always with the aim of improving something. You generally operate with a high level of energy because after all, that, too, is a better way.

I’ve got a great guest for you. His name is Cody Cottle. He’s a Founder of Motivation Everything. He is a renowned motivational speaker, personal branding expert, and visionary leader, recognized for his transformational work with purpose-driven men and women around the world. He’s a mentee of Gary Vaynerchuk, Eric Thomas and Nicholas Bayerle. Among others, Cody has gone on to help thousands of aspiring leaders turn their motivation into momentum with clarity, strategy and accountability. His life mission is to help 1 million people develop the motivation and accountability they need to achieve their 5-year goals in 12 months and realize tangible success in all areas of their life. Cody lives in San Diego, California with his Siberian Husky, Zeus, and enjoys surfing, mountain biking, hiking and traveling in his free time. Cody, welcome to the show.

Gary, I’m honored to be here with you.

It’s going to be fun. Did you move to San Diego?

I did.

Where did you move from?

The ultimate dream is to make the world a better place by inspiring people to step into who God created them to be. Click To Tweet

Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Is that where you grew up?

It is. We say Kalamazoo, but the small town is Otsego.

Give us the quick version of where you started, how you got there, how you got into coaching, and how all of this has happened because you’ve had a lot of success fast.

I’ll try to sum it up as much as I can for you and your audience, Gary. I was born to a single mom with two kids, me and my sister, Autumn. My father went to prison three months after I was born and he’s still in prison today. My father was a biker gang leader of a biker gang called the DC Eagles and he made some mistakes in his life. Growing up was tough. I didn’t have a dad and we struggled because of it. My mom is an amazing woman and I always say I have my mom’s heart. She taught me compassion, empathy, and how to love people, but she’s not good with money.

Because of that, I remember coming home three different times in my childhood to eviction notices on the door and living in a car a few times. Growing up, it was tough. I had a lot of insecurity and a lot of lack of confidence because of that childhood growing up. I’ll never forget, Gary, this one time I was with my sister and my mom at this little rinky-dink gas station. We’re walking in the gas station. Do you know how they put the candy bars right by the checkout?

Yeah.

BYW 32 | Motivational Speaker
Motivational Speaker: The gifts, talents, passions, dreams, and ideas you have inside your mind were gifted to you for a reason and purpose.

 

My mom shared things with me that maybe she shouldn’t that made me grow up fast. I knew we were financially struggling. I knew we were struggling to pay rent and things like that. My sister grabs a butterflying finger and she looks at my mom. She’s like, “Mommy, can I have this?” I’ll never forget the hesitation on my mom’s face. The guilt of, “I can’t even afford this candy bar for my daughter.” My mom, I don’t know how she did, she’s like, “Sure, I guess.” She looks at me and she’s like, “Cody, do you want one, too?” I was like, “No, Mom, I know we can’t afford it.”

I say that to give some backstory of what my upbringing was like. At thirteen years old, some things began to change for me. I had an entrepreneurial spirit at a young age. I knew I needed money, so I started knocking on my neighbor’s doors at thirteen as soon as age my mom let me, and I was like, “Can I mow your yard? Can I weed your garden? Can I pick up sticks?” Anything to make a few bucks. The neighbor next to me, his name was Wally. Wally was like, “Yeah, sure. Come over tomorrow after school and I’ll find something for you to do.”

I began working for Wally and a few other neighbors. I had six clients that summer while I was thirteen. Wally began to do something that I had never experienced before. He began to mentor me. When I would get done working, he would take time and he would pour into me. At the time, I did not know that he was sowing seeds that would come to fruition later in my life and that changed my life, Gary. What I didn’t know is Wally had multiple myeloma blood cancer and emphysema when I met him and his doctors told me he had six months to live. Wally lived three more years. Meanwhile, we became so close. He became like a father that I never had. I even moved in with him, my next-door neighbor.

He ended up passing away when I was sixteen, but he changed my life forever. He taught me the value of mentorship, being coached, and having someone pour wisdom in you and the transformation that it can create in your life. Because of that, I made it my life’s mission to be able to be that person for other people in the world. At eighteen years old, I made my mind up. I want to be a motivational speaker. I want to make the world a better place. Because I existed, this world is better and that goes along with the why have a better way. That’s who I am. That’s my identity.

I started young and I had to make money, so I didn’t go to college. I went into different sales careers, but while doing that, I joined Toastmasters. I built an MLM business and I learned public speaking, how to build a team, and how to talk to people. I began making videos. I can show you videos of me several years ago. I look young now, but you should have seen me then. On my phone, I’m like, “You can live your dreams.” I’m screaming at the top of my lungs. It was cool. What’s crazy is I never gave up on this journey and I just kept after it, even when setback after setback happened.

My mom and my family doubted me. “Be realistic, Cody. You just need to focus on your job. You have a good career.” I broke six figures at 21. I was in real estate and I did some timeshare sales. They’re like, “You have it made. Quit trying to do this other thing.” I’m like, “No, I don’t feel fulfilled doing this. I need to do something that makes me feel fulfilled.” Moving forward, I founded a company called Motivation Everything. It began honestly as a free Facebook community. That’s how it started before it was ever a business. I said, “I’m going to build this community of like-minded driven individuals that are coming together to inspire and motivate one another to become the best version of ourselves.”

I didn’t know how to monetize it. I ended up getting into different masterminds and coaching myself while building this and I made a commitment. I’m going to make a video every single day without missing one. Gary, I have not missed a video yet since I started doing that and I was able to build a following. People began to know, like, and trust me, see me as an authority figure in the space, and respect me as a speaker and a motivator. I monetized it and I started a mastermind. I was terrible when I first started. “This is what I’m doing. If anybody wants to join me, come on.”

We were created with intention. There will never be another you in the world. Click To Tweet

Surprisingly, a dozen people raise their hand and I’m like, “I feel like I owe you money already because of how much value you’ve given in my life. Wherever you’re going, I’m going.” I built that, then I started doing one-on-one coaching. It’s evolved and it’s gotten faster and faster with the momentum. I built a personal brand for myself. We launched Maverick Media. We’re building personal brands for other coaches and consultants in the space, teaching them how to monetize content and the actual paying high-ticket clients. The ultimate dream is to make the world a better place by inspiring people to step into who God created them to be.

From age sixteen on, you knew this was the path you wanted to be on?

Absolutely.

Take us to that moment where you made that decision. How did you make that decision? What happened for you to say, “This is what I’m going to do.”

After Wally passed away, I was heartbroken. I made some mistakes, too. Shortly after that, I started hanging out with the wrong people for a short amount of time. I found myself in jail at eighteen for some small stuff, but it was in that moment in that jail cell, if I’m being honest. There are 183 bricks on the wall. I counted them over and over again to keep me from going crazy. I began thinking about the few years I had with Wally and his mentorship and what it meant to me. I had to make a choice in that Kairos moment to step into being the person that he was helping shape me into or to go down a path of just mediocre and average. At that moment, in that jail cell, that it clicked for me. I made my mind up. It’s more identity. I chose an identity that I wanted to have. I said, “I’m not going to stop at anything until I become this person.”

What was your identity before? How did you determine what your new identity was going to be? There are going to be people reading this that are struggling with that exact same thing. They’re trying to figure out, “Who am I? I just picked up all this stuff along the way and this is what I’ve become by default. It’s not working for me,” like where you were at. All of a sudden, you said, “This isn’t working. I’ve got to have a different identity.” Take us through that if you can.

What’s most important for the audience to understand is to begin asking the right questions. Who are you? One thing I don’t think a lot of people realize is that we were created with intention. Gary Sanchez, there will never be another you in the world. Cody Cottle, there will never be another Cody Cottle in the world. That clicked for me one day at that moment, if I’m being honest, and I said, “Holy crap. There will never be another me.” The gifts, talents, passions, dreams, and ideas that all of you have inside of your mind were gifted to you or given to you for a reason and a purpose.

BYW 32 | Motivational Speaker
Motivational Speaker: For somebody who wants to speak on stage, get intentional and figure out the avenue that will get you there.

 

I begin asking the questions, who am I? What am I good at? What do I love doing? What makes me come alive? What is your why? Go through that. Figure that out. Write it down on paper, and then figure out how do I channel all of this? What is my vehicle? What is the pathway for me to put this into? This is the best part, Gary. How do I give it away to the world? That’s our purpose. You might have heard this before. Discover your gifts, master your gifts, and give them away to the world.

Now you’re sitting in that jail and you’re counting the bricks and you’re saying, “This isn’t it.” What were the answers that you came up with for yourself to those questions?

It’s taking me back emotionally to that moment. I knew I was good at communication and I knew that I had a passion for public speaking. It’s interesting because, in my childhood, I was insecure because the growing up without a dad and some different things that happened. I loved the art of communication, so I began saying, “What am I good at? I’m good at communication. I’m good at talking. I have a lot of energy.” Energy is contagious. Passion is contagious. One thing that anybody can say about me in my childhood is I was always the most passionate guy in the room. What I realize is that’s contagious.

I have the ability of bringing this energy to the table and it rubs off on people. I’m good at communication, I have great energy, I’m super passionate, and I want to make the world a better place. That’s broad. This is where we all start. I want to help people and make the world a better place. I had to niche that down and I started asking questions like, “What other people in the world do I admire that are doing things that I could see similar to me?” I followed Eric Thomas. He’s from Detroit and I’m from Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Before he was big, when his Thank GOD IT’s Monday first came out, I followed him before he blew up. I watched him go from nobody to one of the top motivational speakers in the world. I met Gary Vaynerchuk and I was amazed and inspired by him and what he was doing, and then Tony Robbins, Darren Hardy, and all these big people in this space. Honestly, that first seminar I ever went to and seeing a motivational speaker on stage, I knew then, Gary. I said, “That’s me. I need to be on that stage and I need to figure out how to get there.”

Everybody has that dream. Suddenly, their dream comes to them and a lot of people just let it slip away because going from the audience to the stage is a big step. Going from an eighteen-year-old kid that had some challenges to, “Now I got to go and inspire people when I’m sitting here in jail.” Those are big steps that a lot of people aren’t willing to take. How are you willing to take that?

I made my mind up that’s what I was going to do. Doing something is not hard. Figuring out how to do it is the hard part. For me, it was just getting intentional. The path is always in the math and figuring out what I needed to do to get me on stage in front of people. The quickest avenue for me when I began was network marketing. I was in a large company and I won’t namedrop the company, but I built a residual income of about $60,000 to $70,000 a year in MLM, which is hard to do. That opened doors for me. The reason I was in it was the public speaking. It was the conventions and the things that they did.

Discover your gifts, master them, and give them away to the world. Click To Tweet

That opened the door for me to get on stage in front of 2,000 people, which was the best day of my entire life. For somebody that wants to speak on stage, get intentional and figure out the avenue that’s going to get you there. That was my start. That got me in front of people, that got me on stage, and that got me practicing, then you need to get better at what you do and you need to master your craft. The fastest route for me, I never went to college, was joining Toastmasters. I learned so much through Toastmasters. Let alone the networking I did and the connections I made through there. That opened a lot of doors as well.

Things have changed from where I started to where we are now. It’s easier to do now than ever because we have social media and we have the internet. If somebody out there wanted to speak on stage or follow a similar passion to me, Gary, I would say that it starts with the content that they create online. Building an audience and influence and getting people to know, like, and trust them. Serving and giving value, and in and through that if you stay consistent, doors will begin to open up. You will get opportunities to speak on stage because you’re bringing value to the world through the messages that you’re giving.

You said that you did a video a day. You started your Facebook group and then you started doing a video every single day. How do you go from zero people in your Facebook group to making it bigger? What did you do?

Consistency is the secret if I’m being honest. The video every day drew people to the group. I do what’s called a 30-sec motivation check. If you want to crack the code on video content, two minutes or less video, every single day consistently. Ninety nine percent of you will not make a video every single day. That’s why the 1% that does have a competitive edge on you every single time. The other part of this is people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. When you care and you’re passionate and you’re bringing messages that are giving value to people, it draws people to you. My encouragement is to figure out the messages you want to give and over-deliver on that and the community will grow. Stay consistent and trust the process and through the time, it will happen.

You went from having nobody there when you first started to now having lots of people in your Facebook group. How do you do that? You put one video up and then take us through what happened.

Before I had the group, I had my personal timeline and I was posting content there and building a following through that. I announced in the world. I came out and said, “This is what I’m doing.” I’m creating this community and this is what it’s all about. I would like to invite you guys to join the community. If you like the content I’ve been making for the last several years, you’re going to love what’s inside of this community. I’m going to over-deliver and over-serve everybody that joins. It’s absolutely free. It’s a place that we can come together, get a break on your timeline from all the negativity and all the politics, and get some wisdom you can go apply to step into who you were created to be.

How the heck do you come up with content every single day? It sounds great. It sounds like it’d be a lot of fun, at least at first. How do you keep up the content? How do you not get tired of it?

BYW 32 | Motivational Speaker
Motivational Speaker: If you stay consistent, doors will begin to open up for you.

 

Everybody asked me that. That’s a great question. At the end of the day, I live by better done than perfect, so don’t overthink it. You always have something you can talk about. Even when you think you don’t, you do. For example, I have a Siberian Husky and we go on walks every day. I do a prayer walk in the morning. We were walking out to the trash can one time to take the garbage out and I noticed trash on the side of the driveway. I looked at this trash and I was like, “Should I pick it up or should I leave it?” Immediately then, if I had to ask that question, I knew the answer because doing what’s right is always right and integrity is doing that when nobody’s looking.

What I can do is out of even walking the trash to the trash can, I can create a story and a narrative that creates a message for the audience. Don’t overthink it. Be creative. I’m going to give everybody my hack, too. I’m always reading books and always meeting with high-level guys like Gary and other people in the world. That’s wise, intelligent things. I have notes on my phone and I’m constantly plugging in on video ideas based on the conversations I have, the books I read, and the different content I consume. I’m never in lack of ideas. If I’m not being creative now, I can go to my phone and find something I’ve noted before.

What has doing a video a day done for you personally in your own growth?

At the end of the day, I make the videos for me, first and foremost. Being to express what’s on my mind and what I’m feeling and thinking in real-time and getting to bring value to others has almost been holistic for me. I don’t know how to explain it. For me, it’s helped me on my journey, and then if I’m being completely transparent, I’m big on if I say something, doing it myself. There’s this level of self-accountability when you create a motivational message for others that you then have to take extreme ownership of and apply to your own life and your own identity.

When you think about that, you have trained your brain to look for positive things, life lessons, ways to grow and ways to share. That has to have ratcheted up the speed with which you’ve been able to achieve, all these things that you’ve already been able to do because of the way you’ve trained your brain, the reticular activating system.

It’s crazy what we can do when we set our mind to it. It’s like the compound effect. I started at a young age and became obsessed, if I’m being honest, with personal development, and then furthermore, how to apply it in my own life. Even one step further, how do I educate and inspire others to want to do the same thing. For me, Gary, it was the fascination of stepping into the best version of me. I constantly go back to that and I realize how much potential we have. I even feel that I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of who I can be.

That’s a totally better way thing. You are always in search of a better way. When you find it, you catalog it, use it, and associate it in different other businesses or people’s lives so that you can have a bigger impact and you can share all these better ways. You’ve taken it to a level that most people aren’t willing to do. It’s accelerated things for you. I’d be curious to see when you coach people. If you suggest to them to make a video a day, how much faster they would progress? What do you think?

Integrity is doing what is right even when nobody's looking. Click To Tweet

I do it with clients, especially on the personal branding clients. A lot of the people in the space that want to be a coach or a public speaker or anything like that or a consultant and they want to build their own brand and give value to the world, I tell them they have to do that. The fastest way to get there is consistency. Two graphic design posts a day to their brand and one video every day consistently. I challenge your audience to make a video every day for the next 30 days for two minutes or less. It doesn’t have to be crazy. Just do it.

Post it on all the social media?

Post it across all of them. I recommend using TikTok to make it. TikTok’s algorithm is phenomenal. It’s super easy to edit, overlay music, and make yourself look good, and then share it on all the other platforms.

You can use TikTok to create the video?

Yeah. It’s super-fast. I make my videos in five minutes.

They should give a course on just that. A lot of people I’m sure that are reading this are thinking, “I’ve got to shoot a fricking video every day. I’ve got to get lighting, sound and all this stuff. Somebody’s going to edit it. How am I ever going to do this?” That’s not the type of video that you’re doing?

No. The thing is now I have filmmakers that work with me and other guys. We pump great content, but you brought up a valid point. I have a video that’s going to come out on this. The reasons people don’t make videos are, “I don’t have the right equipment. I don’t know what to talk about. I don’t like the way I look or what my voice sounds like.” The equipment part is a limiting belief and an excuse. When I wanted to go down this journey, I had a mentor that I was out to lunch with.

I was like, “I want this camera at $1,700. I want the perfect microphone and I want the studio lighting.” All of these excuses why I wasn’t making the content I wanted to make. He looked at me in his eyes and he said, “Are you going to quit making excuses and just do it?” He said, “Do you have a phone?” I said, “Yeah.” “Does it have a camera?” “Yeah.” “Can it record?” “Yeah.” “Can you post it online?” “Yeah.” “What’s stopping you? Pull your phone out and start talking.” I did. I have guys that will follow me with cameras now, but I love the super authentic, genuine selfie-style video.

BYW 32 | Motivational Speaker
Motivational Speaker: When you are caring, passionate, and bring messages that provide value to people, it draws them to you.

 

What is next for you, Cody? Where are you headed? Who are you looking to work with? People that are reading this, who would you like to reach out to you?

I’m heading to be the number one motivational speaker in the world, so I’m always looking for opportunities to share my story. I’m willing to do it anywhere that I can get the opportunity to help inspire other people to step into their purpose, live an intentional life, and be the best version of themselves. Outside of that, from a business standpoint, our personal branding business is doing incredible things for coaches, consultants, and online business owners in the space that want to turn organic content into high-ticket paying clients. I’m always looking for introductions to talk to people in that space as well.

Cody, thank you for being here. I’ve enjoyed our conversations. I know we’ve talked a couple of times. Where can people go to connect with you? What is the way that you want them to connect with you?

First and foremost, I invite you guys to join the Motivation Everything community. It’s on Facebook. Just search Motivation Everything. It’ll pop up. You’ll see it and you’ll know it. Also, you can follow me at Cody Cottle on Facebook, and then on IG and TikTok, IAmCodyCottle. We’d love to have you guys there. I put a video every day and I pump a ton of content. My hope is it inspires even one of you out there to step into the best version of you and find your way.

Cody, thank you for being here. I look forward to following you as you progress to the number one motivational speaker in the world.

Let’s go, Gary. Thank you for having me on.

For sure.

It’s time for our new segment, which is Guess the Why. We pick famous people and we try to guess their why. Many of you are familiar with this famous person. Her name is Kim Kardashian. I would love to know what you think her why is. She’s in the process of getting divorced. She’s had lots of craziness in her life that she’s had to figure out. I’m going to guess that her why is to make sense of the complex and challenging. She’s had to face lots of different challenges from the way she grew up to how she grew up, to who she’s been hanging out with, to who she’s married, to all the problems that they’ve had.

Her why is to make sense of the complex and challenging. She’s a great problem solver. She’s somebody who makes decisions fast and moves fast. I’m going to say that her why is make sense. If any of you out there know her, have her take the why discovery so we can figure it out for sure or put in the comment box what you think her why is. Thank you for reading. If you have not yet discovered your why, you can do so at WhyInstitute.com. You can use the code PODCAST50 to get it for 50% off. If you love the Beyond Your WHY podcast, please don’t forget to subscribe and leave us a review and a rating on whatever platform you are using to listen to our podcast. Go out and have a great week. Thank you for reading. I will see you next episode.

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About Cody Cottle

Cody Cottle, the founder of Motivation Everything, is a renowned motivational speaker, personal branding expert, and visionary leader recognized for his transformational work with purpose-driven men and women around the world.

A mentee of Gary Vaynerchuck, Eric Thomas, and Nicholas Baylerle among others, Cody has gone on to help thousands of aspiring leaders turn their motivation into momentum with clarity, strategy, and accountability.

His life mission is to help one million people develop the motivation & accountability they need to achieve their 5-year goals in 12 months and realize tangible success in all areas of their lives.

Cody lives in San Diego CA with his Siberian husky Zeus and enjoys surfing, mountain biking, hiking, and traveling in his free time.