If you work with or have a coworker with the WHY of Better Way, look out! Innovation coming through! Ideas galore! Those with the WHY of Better Way can’t seem to let their mind slow down; this can cause problems sleeping (I digress) but also a consistent influx of ideation. With a never ending ability to drum up new things in the work place, this is both great and hard on fellow coworkers.
Call a Quick Brainstorming/Ideation Meeting
Something I have found to be useful when working with Better Ways is that they often aren’t sure what they want, but they’ve come up with an idea and now it is up to you to run with it. This can cause a lot of misunderstanding when you bring it back to them and it wasn’t what they expected. So in order to help this confusion – have a quick 5-10 minute meeting to get on the same page and avoid confusions. Better Ways like to talk through things out-loud in order to ideate and innovate anyway so you’d really be doing them a favor.
Never Fully Finish a Project
Now it may sound contradictory to productivity but another pro tip when working with a Better Way is to never show them a finished product. If you spent all this time on a fully finished project and show it to them just for them to want to change everything so it’s “better” it can feel like what you put hours of work into isn’t appreciated. If you show them a first draft, they can “better way” the heck out of it initially, and let you finish everything up afterwards. This can often really speed up the process for both parties.
Blank Slates Aren’t Their Favorite – Help Them Out
One last thing I have learned is that Better Ways have a hard time creating from nothing. While they are great at innovation and coming up with ideas, they often don’t know what they want or don’t want until they see it. It is very hard to give them a blank piece of paper to create. If you do however, give them a paragraph or a design or whatever it may be that they can change and make better – they soar!
Use Their Ability to “Better” Things to Your Advantage
Knowing that someone has the WHY of Better Way can really help you and the team as well. If you are stuck on a project, want some advice, or unsure how to improve it – show it to them. They can immediately help you alter words, designs, or anything to help “better” your project. Having someone with the WHY of Better Way on your team can sometimes feel like they have a hard time moving initially (finding the right words to type or creating from scratch) but with direction, an outline or draft, they can succeed to new heights. They will never stop improving and innovating and a good company needs that kind of a big thinker.
This episode focuses on the WHY of Better Way. Dr. Gary Sanchez’s guest is Michael Johnson, the owner of Shock Wave Defense. Michael is the ultimate innovator who always looks for a better way to do everything. Join in the conversation to witness how Michael’s WHY plays out in his life, starting with martial arts. Today, he trains the public, law enforcement, and military personnel on how to function properly in resistant environments. If you like to find a better way, you’d love to tune in to this episode. Don’t miss out!
Watch the episode here:
Listen to the podcast here:
How To Move Forward Amidst Adversity: Find A Better Way With Michael Johnson
We’re going to be talking about the why of a better way. If this is your why, then you are the ultimate innovator and you are constantly seeking ways to do everything better. You find yourself wanting to improve 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 are adept at taking ideas or systems from one industry or discipline and applying them to another, always with the ultimate goal of improving something.
I’ve got a great guest for you. He is a perfect example of this. Starting in the martial arts world at two years old, Michael Johnson continues to grow his knowledge and career in combative. He opened Shockwave Defense in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2002, which combined experiences that yielded life conviction, behavioral psychology and multiple black belt rankings into his interpretation of defense called Bellicusology, the study of militant, martial and warfare ways.
He holds a BA in Criminology from the University of New Mexico and as the Honorary Squadron Commander for 512th Rescue Squadron at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Johnson has done bodyguard work for celebrities such as Xzibit, and was the primary deadly force combatives instructor for the Florida Department of Corrections and their special teams.
His instruction has reached over 19,000 officers in the Department of Correction and has trained multiple officers from other agencies, as well as the Silver City Police Department in New Mexico. He’s a Certified NRA Firearm Instructor and a Professional Lecturer through the New Mexico Department of Public Safety. He teaches domestically and abroad including Taiwan, Yokota AFB and Tokyo, Japan, where he trained the 459th Airlift Squadron, how to defend themselves and their aircraft should a hostile actor try to take over the aircraft.
His tried and tested skills have been tested against underground, full-contact fighters. He has over 55 full contact stick weapon fights. He continues to train the public as well as law enforcement and military personnel in how to function in resistant environments. Additionally, he and his team produced films and judgmental training software scenarios to aid first responders in dealing with violent individuals in shoot and no-shoot scenarios.
I’m looking forward to this for a long time because you’ve got a very fascinating story. What you’re doing intrigues a lot of people especially CEOs that are wanting to figure out how to protect themselves. Before we get into that, let’s go back through your life. Tell everybody a little bit about you. Go back into your childhood. Tell us about where you came from, how you got into the martial arts and that whole story.
My why is a better way. The how and the what are also significant factors in this. My how is through simplification, to simplify and then the ultimate thing there is to make sense. I need to make sense out of things. I’ll talk about the nine pillars that shifted my life from when I was a kid. They don’t happen to you. They happen for you. If you understand a lot of elements and things such as the why is an important aspect here, you’ll go, “This makes sense. This is why.”
I’ll get started with this mindset of what I train executive warriors. I have a few different products won for men who are dealing with harsh environments and life-changing events that have taken place, anything from a harsh business decision, family upset, death in the family to dealing with infidelity. Any of those lines that they might be facing, how to handle that mentally but then also how to channel that in a positive way, through being able to protect themselves and their families.
This whole concept is about awakening the warrior within you and using what you have to get what you want. I’ll start with the very first element. The first one was the darkness. I remember when I was younger. I was in my bassinet and the moon used to terrify me. One of the things that I recall was my dad hated hearing us cry at night. He would take me out of my bassinet and put me in the closet. It made it quieter.
From that standpoint of me being in there, I was terrified. I’d be crying. It was harder. He’d come back, hear me crying, whack my rear-ended. Sitting in the darkness was one of the first powers that supercharged my development in understanding both the criminal mind and how to utilize things that we’re afraid of. Most people are afraid of the darkness until they learn how to use it. The first element here is what you start with. It’s not what happens to you. It’s what happens for you.
The next event that was a big part for me was the blade. It was about five years old. I had a knife to my throat. The person was telling me they’re going to slit my throat and stuff my body behind the television so my parents couldn’t find me. That shifted the way I looked at fear and violence. When you’re so helpless, small and don’t have the power to defend yourself in a situation like that, that’s going to change the way you look at everything that you do as you get older to be able to protect and defend yourself. Your tactics are going to be very different.
A lot of people look at these events like, “That’s so horrible.” I remember one guy who wanted to do a documentary on my life. He goes like, “Most people go through one thing. You went through a whole bunch. We could do ten documentaries on you.” He almost said it was unbelievable that all these things happened. I said, “I can see that but it’s all documented. You can go find it.”
A unique thing about what other people consider horrible things happened to you are not happening to you. They’re happening for you. It’s going to help shape you into a motivation and drive that’s going to shift the way you think, how you ask yourself questions and what your why is. These all help form who you are.
After the blade, the next one was the brokenness. It seems mild compared to the other events but my dog had died and she was my best friend. As a kid, I lived in the East mountains. I didn’t have anybody to talk to. My parents would go, “Go outside and play with the dog.” That dog was my best friend and when it died, I realized that I did not have any power to bring this animal back. I lost my best friend. You learn how to control the controllable. That’s a tough situation to deal with. Inside of that, that went on. My parents got this horrible divorce and both went separate ways. That added to that area where you can’t control the controllables.
The next big thing that was a huge impact on my life was the lawsuit. The first person that ever sued me was my mother. That was such a unique situation. She was upset because I was in a situation where I was leading the business and she handled things differently. Her fight with life and everybody around her. She didn’t deal with things well on aspects like that.
It was like, “You’re wronging me. I’m going to go after you, destroy you and do everything to you that I did to your dad that led to divorce.” On that court stand, there were a lot of elements inside of there. In my head, I was like, “This is ridiculous and crazy.” What you end up doing from that is if your mother sues you, anyone will sue you. From that point forward, everything was in writing. Leveraging and using it to make it something bigger.
After that, I was homeless. I was living in my car. I ended up finishing college and moved out to Florida. I wanted to experience Florida. I’d never been there. It probably wasn’t the best judgment decision of moving out there and ended up living out of my car, in and out of Motel 6. It was at that point that I understood this concept of the yes. It didn’t matter how many noes I got. It was the yeses that mattered. I ended up finally getting a job. I got 150-square-foot apartment. I was able to start building this company I’d worked on before I left called Shockwave Defense.
I was building it on an ice chest, my laptop and a beach chair that was sinking in the center. It was cutting off the circulation in my legs so I couldn’t sit down for longer than 5 or 6 minutes and ended up putting a board across there so I could try and sit on the board. I don’t have a whole lot of fat on me so my rear end was going numb. It’s such a crazy time in my life. I had an air mattress that I bought from Walmart or something like that at the time. I’d fill it up at night. In the morning, you’re on the floor. It was a huge emotional challenge.
You sat down and start realizing who’s who. People that I thought were good people that were going to help me didn’t help me. The people that were supposed to be bad people reached out their hands and kindness. They were like, “I’ll help you if I can. I’ll pray for you.” I came back from that. I move back to Albuquerque and started opening my school. I have my best friend at the time. I met him when I was probably 6 and he was 5. This guy and I grew up together and saw each other at least 4 or 5 times a week, every single day throughout our lives.
I was debating whether or not I was going to put this in here because it was such a painful memory for me. He helped me build my school and stayed up all night. You know how it is launching a business. You’re putting all your energy into it 24 hours a day. I don’t hear from him for about a week. His girlfriend called me first. She goes, “Have you heard from Kyle?” I said, “No, I haven’t heard from him.” I figured he was ignoring her because she was a nice person but I figured he was probably blowing her off. His mom called. I was like, “I haven’t heard from him.” Then his dad called and that’s when I got concerned. It was all in a matter of a day.
They’re like, “Can you go to his house and see if there’s this black box?” Apparently, his mom had bought him a 0.22 for Christmas and that was gone. We started this rescue search for him. We ended up finding him up in the Jemez Mountains. He went up to the mountains and killed himself. For whatever reasons, it was unknown to me. His poor mother was so devastated by it.
She was like, “How can you be his best friend and not know that he would kill himself?” That put an additional level of stress on me. I was like, “I don’t know.” I felt bad. I’m his best friend. Then she was like, “If you didn’t know then you must’ve done it.” I was like, “This is horrible.” Not only that I lose my best friend but this person is trying to cope in their own way of being able to figure it out so they blame me. It was a standard suicide.
Everybody that was there, from the PJs because they had to call in the PJs due to the place, he was in the mountains, to the law enforcement they’re like, “This is a standard suicide.” The officers apologized to me. They said, “I’m so sorry. She’s searching for answers.” I’m like, “That was devastating.” If you lost your best friend and this other person is trying to point the finger at you or anyone else, they can make sense out of it.
After that, I was like, “This sucks.” You keep going, never give up and keep moving forward. I started riding motorcycles and was into that for a little while. I got hit by a car head-on on my motorcycle. I flew off. On all accounts, I probably should’ve been killed from it but I got up and walked away. I remember hearing this very powerful and authoritative voice when she hit me head-on said, “It’s not your time. Guard your head.”
That sounded like great advice. I covered up. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced having flesh ripped off your body sliding across the asphalt but it sucks. It teaches you a lot of pain tolerance. Every time a warrior feel pain, that’s your new pain threshold. It happens the same in business. When you go through something horrible, you’re everything compared to getting hit by a car because the girl wanted to update her Facebook or whatever.
I’m pointing these nine pillars because for a lot of people, they would think, “I would give up. I’d be done.” You’ve got to ask yourself what’s your why? Why do you continue going? Why do you keep fighting? I end up in a situation where I have this woman that I fall in love with and I have a child with her. I find out six months after my daughter is born that she’s cheating on me with not one but multiple men. I was devastated. It was one of those things that you sit down and you’re like, “WTF.” It’s one of those things where you’re like, “This is horrible.”
That in itself for me, out of all the events up to that point probably the hardest I’d ever been through. There’s a thing inside of you as a warrior that you’re used to fighting the external but when the enemy is from within, it hurts so bad that you can’t figure out how to conquer that enemy. It starts to tear you apart and break down your mind. It’s not something you can run from. It’s like food poisoning. You’ve got to let it pass.
You wake up in the middle of the night with these horrible dreams. It was a rough experience. Then 8, 9 years later dealing with the judicial system of a family law system, it is such an asinine concept. It makes zero sense. You go through these different events and end up realizing that every single one of them is a gift. Not one of these things happened to me. They happened for me.
As I was thinking, I went through all these different events as I was getting ready for our chat on your show. I thought you only want to pick the ones that were impactful in my life because I had a bunch of other stuff that went on. The point is at the end of the day, understanding who you are and why you do what you do is what’s going to give you the drive to keep pushing forward.
The Lord has blessed me. I make no qualms about it. Without God, I would not be here. I’ve had a very interesting life. I’ve had a life that at times, although I use it for good, while I was going through it, it sucked. None of these events were like, “Let’s do that again.” I was like, “F that, this sucks.” When you sit down and look at all these different variances as they happen, each one of these elements are gifts from above to allow you to be stronger.
Let me ask you something about that, Michael. When did you realize that these happened for you instead of to you? How old were you? What was it that made you realize that distinction? That’s a huge distinction.
I’ll be honest with you. I was trying to get my mind focused, especially as a young man. Honestly, probably not until I was in my 30s. In my twenties, I was like, “What the hell?” You sit down like, “God either loves me or hates my guts. Why does this stuff keep happening? Can you let me die already?” The moment for me was I had different clients that I would work with and they were at the brink of losing it. They’re like, “I’m ready to end it.”
With all of these different variances that I got to go through, I could give them multiple different answers to a very temporary problem that they were about to make a permanent answer to and be able to pull them out of that arena. Probably it’s in my late 20s, early 30s that I realized God is allowing this to happen because of a prayer that I made when I was a child. I had forgotten about it up until that point.
Martial artists and experiencing the things that happened for me when I was a kid, I remember one time I was watching the evening news and this woman had been brutally attacked. I remember going to my room and I prayed. I got on my knees and said, “God, I can’t always be there but if you could let these things happen to me instead of them, I’m willing to take it on.” At that age, I did not understand fully what I was asking but the Lord blessed me with answering my prayer.
I can pretty much talk to anybody who’s going through anything. Sit down with them and give them a different perspective from a different lens that helps them overcome those moments of fear and pain. It’s all about your focus. There are over two billion bits of information trying to get into your head at any given moment. The conscious has a tendency to chase emotion. When you sit down and start understanding that consciousness and emotion are not one of the same, that you can separate the two of them, you can start understanding what you’re going to choose to focus on.
When you start choosing what you’re going to focus on, you’ll be able to see what makes sense to you instead of the elements of what is being presented to you. Whatever you give your attention to, that owns your mind, heart and soul. If it owns your mind, it owns you. What you have to do is control the three things. This will help you go into the unknown with confidence because life is such a unique world. You can control the controllables but outside of that, you can’t control anything else.
I remember one time a guy was like, “That guy over there, do you think you could take him if he was trying to hurt your daughter?” I said, “Yeah.” He goes, “You don’t know anything about him.” I said, “I don’t care. I don’t need to know anything about him. What I know it was about me. I’m willing to die to protect my daughter. Even if he wins, he can enjoy his victory with one eye because he’s leaving here with an ass-kicking.” It’s about what you focus and what your mind is on.
The first counteroffensive that you use when you’re dealing with all these different scenarios is the three Vs that give you power. You have to learn to control because they are your controllables. As creatures made in the image of our maker, we are given the power to give meaning. People say, “I can control my thoughts.” You can’t. You’ve been to one of my courses, Gary. How quickly can I live between that space between your ears?
If I want to get in your head, I’ll be in your head. Your job as a warrior is to guard the gate of your mind and control vision, voice and visceral. The vision is the media playing out in your head and the meaning that you’re giving that. The voice is the talking. What is being said? Do you tell yourself every single day when you walk past the mirror, “My rear end looks horrible. My waistline is disgusting. Look are those bags under my eyes?”
You have to be able to get your mind wrapped in a different direction of that internal dialogue. “What’s happening there? Are you controlling yourself? Are you in control? Are you separating your consciousness from the emotion and insecurity?” There are different things that will trigger these things. For example, a lot of the men that I work with and coach on dealing with infidelity had this visceral response. They’ll see a car drive fly that reminds them of something that was going on in that event.
It’ll immediately put pictures in their mind. An internal dialogue starts recidivating, going through and building this loop. We all have this loop. If we stay in that loop and keep playing, it’ll suck the life right out of you. It’ll pull the energy away from your soul, productivity and business. That’s the hardest part about controlling all of these events when you’re in them. They’re rough. When you learn how to separate consciousness from emotion, it’s like standing in the eye of the hurricane. The exterior is moving with tremendous force and power but in the center it’s calm.
When I was telling you some of the stuff, I was annoyed about it. You said, “How do you keep calm?” You exercise through these things, even if it’s a speck of dust in the eye of the hurricane. There was more coming but you learn how to fight through it. When we look at the why, the mindset behind that, there is so much leverage if you can understand what your purpose is.
When I was a kid, my mom used to tell me, “If you walk this Earth, you haven’t changed this world and made it better then you should have never been born.” I believe that. That’s part of what I train the men that I coach and work with. We have female students as well but I have a group specifically that I work with men. I call it the Phoenix Rising because it’s about them living a 2K life. Most of Christ’s works were done in three years. We’re talking about them 2,000 years later. Have the last three years of your life been worth living or talking about for the next 2,000? That’s a powerful thing.
How did you learn all this? Take us through the path that you’ve been on. It’s a fascinating path and there’s a lot of spikes and valleys. How did you learn what you’re sharing? Who was your mentor for what you’re sharing with us?
God. People try to say, “Was there somebody else?” One of those things I prayed when I was on my knees is I said, “Father, I don’t have a father. I need you to be my father. I don’t know how to be a man, a dad or even a father. Will you teach me?” He’s the one that gifted me the discernment, wisdom, articulation, ability to understand it and translate it into a way that people can understand in a way that is clear and has that clarity.
The only way I can say it is in truth. Even when we were doing the underground fights, a lot of the tactics we’d start studying and all of a sudden, I’d have this dream of this amazing concept. I’d go use it and be beating people with this concept that they had never seen. They’re like, “Where’d you learn that?” They wanted to hear some cool Filipino or Asian guy’s name. I’m like, “I dreamt about it last night.” There are levels where he spoke to me in dreams. He’s given me these insights and wisdom. I’m not trying to say I can float above everybody else. I don’t feel that.
What I do feel is that the credit is to him because I would have never gathered this knowledge on my own. There was nobody to teach it. I didn’t have people around me to teach that knowledge. There’s one of the events I left out but fascinating. When my mom was trying to raise us by herself, growing up, she had so much opposition coming against her. She got to a point where she was like, “I want to date.” She married this guy that was a whack job. He kept threatening to kill us all in our sleep. I’m 140 pounds. This dude is 6’5, 6’6 and 240.
I used to have to physically fight this guy almost every other weekend. The one that kept me safe and gave the insights of articulation and understanding was Elohim. It may not be the answer that the audience is looking for but it’s the only answer I have to give them. God gave me the insight to articulate this, understand it and have a discerning eye to see it, the vision, voice, visceral. As I was going into meditation, I was like, “What are the things that mess with us in our reality?” This is what came to me.
Let’s go back a little bit because I don’t know if the audience understands how you got into martial art yourself. Where did you take it? How it shape you for what you’re doing?
Initially, my grandfather started in the arts back in the ’20s. Ironically, his life was probably similar to mine in a lot of aspects. His dad took off when him and his sister were young. When his mom saw that, she took off. At the age of 12 or 13, he started raising himself and his older sister. Samuel Johnson, the guy was such a stud.
When people say, “If you respect somebody, who would that somebody be?” It’s him because he followed this path and felt the Lord paid for him. He quit school and started taking care of his sister at the age of 12 or 13. Martial arts was the only thing for himself. Being a Black man back in the ’20s and ’30s, that was not a good time to be a Black dude. He had to deal with a ton of oppression and all sorts of levels of resistance but he kept a roof over his and his sister’s head. He ended up meeting my grandmother who already had my dad.
He jumped into that scenario and then took on that family as his own. He started training my dad at a very early age, as I understand, from when he was eleven. He got his first black belt when he was 16, 17 years old. He loved the martial arts and continued pursuing it. At the time, the biggest craze was this episode called the Green Hornet. My dad flew out to Seattle to train under a guy named James Lee. James brought in a guest speaker that evening who announced his presence by kicking the heavy bag and shaking the whole building. My dad turned around and Bruce Lee was standing there.
A lot of people don’t understand this. Bruce Lee is a giant but it wasn’t until after he died that his name and reputation got huge. Back then, it’s the Green Hornet, a B-rated movie. People didn’t understand the power of how talented that man was. My dad with his experience in martial arts looked at Bruce and was like, “This guy’s phenomenal.”
At the time, my dad had seven black belts in different martial arts and then went to spar with Bruce Lee. He beat the hell out of him. Bruce beat the hell out of my dad. You got to understand my dad was a bodybuilder also. He’s a very talented guy, muscular, healthy, strong and this small Asian guy that weighs about 140 pounds soaking wet, 5’7” whoops him.
He asked him, “What are you doing after class?” He goes, “I’m flying back to Seattle. I’ll be there tomorrow.” My dad quit his job, went back to the Chinatown School in California and started training under Bruce from ’67 to ’69. I started training when I was about two years old. Bruce Lee was my dad’s best man at his first wedding with my sister’s mother. Long story short, he was like, “You should probably jump into movies with me.” My dad was like, “I don’t feel like doing that.” He’s trying to talk him out of it.
My dad went ahead. They had a part of time where they weren’t talking as much and then Bruce dies. My dad then flies out to China to go train with Bruce Lee’s instructor, Ip Man. By the time he got there, Ip Man had died and so he trained with his son, Ip Chun. When they came back, there were all these martial arts schools that have popped up all over the place after Bruce had died because his name was like wildfire. It swept the nation.
Every place you looked, there was a Kung Fu School. In this scenario, that’s when they moved to New Mexico. I started doing my training at the age of two. I started my daughter at the age of three in the defense. What we did is we went from studying the basics all the way to trying to figure out what the simplification was. I remember my first fight in eighth grade. The guy that I got on a flight plastered me because I was trying to do all these stupid martial arts moves. He smacked and knocked me out cold.
I remember one of the last things my buddy said was, “He got you good,” as I’m passing out. When I came to it, I was like, “Where is he?” He’s like, “He left. He wrote a book. He has a novel. You were out for a minute.” That shifted the way I looked at martial arts. It’s blasphemy to say this but most martial arts are garbage. Ninety-five percent of the stuff is nonsense. It’s that 4% or 5% that works in real-time and resistant environments against multiple opponents, weapon conditions and fighting inside of vehicles that had worked well.
That was the initiation of where I started looking at it differently. After I started doing the underground fights some people started seeing those on YouTube and paying attention. We trained 512th Rescue Squadron out here, flew out to Japan and train the 459th Airlift Squadron. From there, the Ecuadorian Special Forces heard about us. We went out to go train the Ecuadorian Special Forces, got to work with their defense minister’s bodyguards and meet the people at their version of the Pentagon, which was super cool. From there, we went to South Africa and train the tactical response team. It’s been taking off ever since. It’s been a huge blessing.
It would be fascinating for people to know because most of us will never experience a fight room or fight club. What is it like going into a fight club? How does it work? What did you experience? Why did you do it?
Initially, I did it because I was pissed. I had found out that my kid’s mom was cheating on me. I was having some serious issues handling my temper. It’s such a devastating thing to find out about. There were two events. It’s not my personality. I’m not the guy that gets pissed because you flipped me off in traffic but this guy cut and flipped me off. I started crawling out of the vehicle after him.
I’m sitting there with one of my instructors and he’s like, “It seems like you’ve got some anger issues.” I’m like, “What?” He’s like, “Let’s probably channel that the correct way. There’s a group I know about. You can go in there, fight with sticks, chains, microwaves and bullwhips. You can fight 2-on-2, 3-on-3, 5-on-5, whatever you want. There are no rules, no judges and no refs and you won’t go to prison.” I was like, “I’m in. Sign me up.”
I went in and trained for it. When I first watched the videos of these other guys doing it, I was like, “You guys are idiots. You are sitting in there beating the hell out of each other with sticks and all these other weapons.” I thought I’ll do one to get this thing out of me, deal with it and then 60 fights later, I’m still doing it. There’s something anthropologic for a male specifically about hitting another human being with a stick. It feels very natural.
I know that sounds crazy but once I did it for the first time, I remember that night after the fights. I went to bed and there was no ambient on the planet that will give you a peaceful night’s sleep like fighting a human being. The very first guy that I fought looked exactly like the guy that my ex cheated on me with. I was like, “Thank you, God.” I didn’t care if I won or lost. I want to beat his ass. I fought him. That night when I went to bed, I slept like a baby. I didn’t even think I moved that night.
The psychology of going into it is a lot. If you’re going to compare it, a lot of it is like the fear you have in running a business for the people that are fighters. There’s a serious level of fear and of, “Is this going work? If it doesn’t work, what’s going to happen? Am I going to lose everything? Am I going to die? Am I going to not be able to provide for my family?” It forces you to face your fears and fight through them because pain is temporary but your reputation will outlive your flesh.
When you get into that mindset, where you go, “I’m going all the way and playing all out,” that is the only way to live. If you want to leave a name and live a life that we’re talking about for 2,000 years, you can’t go into it halfway and go, “I don’t want to get hurt.” “F that. If I get hurt, that’s cool. Give me a cool story.” You’ve got to get into that mindset of how are you going to get to that next level, how are you going to build your psychology and your heart and mind so you can lift the people around you up. All this stuff is fine and dandy, but it’s not about glory.
I’m not saying it to try and sound poetic. Sometimes you’ll hear religious people, “It’s not about my glory but God’s,” as they sit there, try and get their own glory. What this boils down to is energy is constant. It can’t be created or destroyed. What talks about you when you leave this earth? Your absence has to be your presence. That’s based on the lives you touched while you were on this earth, the frequency you put in other people through the energy. What glorifies God’s name is your ability to keep pushing through the pain, keep driving through all the adversity and then still have the frequency and energy to smile.
When you tell people about the horrendous things that have happened to you, you’re doing it with a smile on your face. People are like, “Weren’t you scared?” “Yeah, I thought I was going to die but here we are.” You got to get that mindset where you move to that next level. I’ve been very blessed that even through these things, I’ve had some awesome and amazing mentors in my life that the Lord has given me and he’s given me wisdom.
I’ve also noticed that he’s given me people in my life that have helped me, and Steve Maestas was one of those. He’s a good friend of mine, a mutual friend of both of ours. When I was first training at my first school, I was teaching out of a storage container. I ran an ad in a thrifty nickel. Steve Maestas found it, came down and trained. I didn’t know the guy was as powerful as he was as a person and also on business.
He came in and played along. I started looking at the cars. He was showing up to class and I’m like, “What are you doing? How do I do it?” He goes, “I’ll coach you but here’s how this is going to go.” He gave me some insights and I appreciated that. He’s a very giving human being. He’s a great dude and that was a blessing. He gives back a ton to his community.
With that being said, going into a fight and then understanding the business aspects are very similar in that. The other thing is learning how to turn it on and off. You can’t walk around pissed off all the time. When you have a reputation like our school and facility do, everybody wants to fight you. I saw this in school when I was a kid. Kids think if they can beat me up, they can beat up Bruce Lee because my dad trained under him. Everybody in the room wants to kick the hell out of me. It was an interesting childhood and not much has changed in that aspect. I’ll walk by somebody and they’re like, “I don’t like that guy.” “I don’t even know you. Do you want to fight me?”
Describe for everybody that’s never going to be there what a fight club is. Where do they host these things? Is it a house? Take us into your mind as you were going that first time to this fight club not knowing what you got yourself into. What did you see? What were you feeling? What happened?
I’ve been skydiving. The moment that you let go of the plane, you feel like baptized in fire. All these chemicals are rushing through your body. It’s a mixture between that and standing on the high dive for the first time and getting ready to jump. There was a ton of this anxiety, fear and concern. I had martial artists that were friends of mine forever. They’re like, “Don’t fight these guys. They’re going to try and maim you.” I was like, “What’s the point? What are we doing here?” The whole reason we’re doing this is if somebody is trying to maim us at work. I’d rather find out in this controlled environment and find out when I’m around my daughter or something.
It was a totally different mindset, walking in there and they’re hosted everywhere. We have our own group. We fought in another guy’s group, and that one was in a martial arts school but sometimes they’re done under bridges, warehouses and parks. I’ve fought in all sorts of different places. It’s something that you go into with the ideology that you want to do the best that you can to not permanently injure that person for the rest of their life but make no doubt where they’re to hurt each other inside of that environment.
There’s a brotherhood to it though. My job is to push you as hard as I can but I will tell you, as I’ve done this more, I’m not trying to break people the way that I was when I first started. When I first started, I didn’t care. If I could wreck you, I’d wreck you because I had a lot of anger in my heart. As I sat down and started getting past that, I realized this is more to help men channel.
There are girls that’ll fight in these things too but it’s more to help men channel that aggression that built-up angst. I get a lot of guys that go, “I always wanted to be in the military but instead, I became a dentist.” They did what everybody told them to do versus what their heart led them to. This gives them a channel where they can execute and exercise it out. That’s one aspect of the many experiences that I’ve done in life. I want everybody to think, “This guy fights in underground fights.” That’s part of it. I’ve had an amazing life.
I used to have a pet Cobra because I was afraid of Cobra so I wanted to learn how to handle this thing. If it’d bite me, I would die in eight minutes. She was beautiful. I named her Halo. She was this albino monocle. She had silky-smooth pink and white skin. She was very pissy. I eventually got rid of her because she kept trying to bite me. I had four people have dreams that she bit me and I died. I was like, “That’s probably a sign.”
That’s one element of the many aspects that I have gone through in my life. Mixed all the things that you have of the unknown into one pot and then walk up with confidence. That’s what going into a flight club is like. Imagine taking everything that you were afraid of, both physically and emotionally and people are going to embarrass you. There’s a huge imposter syndrome when you go into something like that. You’re like, “These guys are going to beat me and then pull my underwear over my head.” This is fear that you’re going to go out and these people are going to screw you.
In order for the courage to exist, fear has to be present. With my fighting, guys would come out afterward like, “I’ve never seen anybody move like that. What’s your secret?” I’m like, “I don’t like pain.” I don’t want to lose and get hurt. I was fighting so hard and fast giving everything I had because I knew what it was like to lose from that guy that broke my nose in eighth grade. The greatest gift anybody ever gave me was him breaking my face.
After that, I was like, “That sucked.” I looked like a raccoon for three months. My eyes were black. My nose was all smashed into my face. I was like, “Thank you.” That gave me the motivation and drive that I was like, “If somebody wants to beat me again, they better pack a lunch because I’m going to go all out.” That’s the element that you need in business also. It’s learning how to thrive and function in the unknown with confidence. It’s such a hard world to live in. We get so caught up.
Tell me what you know about what’s going on in the world. We don’t have a freaking clue. Everything you’re being taught or fed is some agenda propaganda. Here’s what I do know. God is in control. No matter what anybody does, I’m going to do whatever it takes to make sure my family, brothers and friends are taken care of. I don’t need to know what’s going on in everything else because that can suck all my energy out.
“I know me. I keep going no matter what. If you want to beat me, you better freaking pack a lunch because I’m going to come at you with everything I’ve got.” That’s that mindset that you get from fighting that is essential for business. The more tools you have in your tool belt, the better you are at Warcraft. Having known your why, I’ll be honest with you, and that is why I was willing to come on and chat with you is a huge weapon against the enemy because the enemy may not know their why but if your why, you can be the enemy to the enemy. They’ll try, leverage, come against you and get under your skin. They’ll mess with your business and screw with everything that you’ve got going on. You’re like, “I know why I’m doing what I’m doing. I know what motivates me and I’m hungry.” That’s a powerful thing to have in your back pocket.
For the audience, I spent some time with Michael. I did your urban defense conceal and carry. I went into that thinking, “I’m fairly athletic. I did a lot of sports. I’m in good shape. I do weights, this and that. I’ll probably be pretty good at this.” I walked into your class and you probably could have killed me as many times and as fast as you wanted. I had no say in it with no recourse at all. Whatever was going to happen, I couldn’t defend myself.
It’s in the beginning. At the end, you felt very confident in being able to do that. Here’s the thing as men. We have this ignorant perspective where we’re like, “I got a penis so I know how to fight.” That has zero credibility anywhere. Every time you talk about doing a combative course or a defense class, they go, “I’m going to send girls to that because I’m a guy.” It’s the dumbest thing.
As men, that’s part of our insecurity but there are very few men that are willing to go do it as you did and then go, “I don’t know what I’m doing but I do now.” That’s why you were there.” If I sucked and you could beat me up then you should probably be teaching the class, not me. You going through that, we deliberately looked at what your weaknesses were and we capitalized on them.
If you notice your wife had certain weaknesses, we changed and worked on what her weaknesses were. That’s what a good instructor should always do. They shouldn’t be there kicking the hell out of the students. Their objective and mission are to make the students think that they’re getting the hell kicked out of them because it is so demanding for them. That instructor could go up 9, 10 more levels. That was the objective. You did the two-day defense immersive training as well.
You did scenarios where we were being carjacked or somebody comes into your house. These are not like video game things. This is an actual car there that you’re carjacked in and what will you do or an actual house. How do you clear your house? What I found fascinating was how wrong my perception was of even something as simple as how far away someone can be from you and still get to you before you can do anything to them. That was fascinating.
It’s not your world. You don’t know these things until you experience something. We’re blessed at Shockwave because we have an amazing cadre. We’ve got Dr. Dela Garza and Instructor King. I’ve got another guy that was from Seal Team 3 and 5, Shane Hyatt. He’s an amazing guy. He comes in and talk about mindset. He and I codesigned a knife together. We’ll bring instructors from South Africa. We brought Ed Calderon out at one point for him to do this escape and evasion training. He’s a fascinating person as well.
We’re blessed to have such a unique group of people to help expose everyday civilians to these things so that they don’t die because the enemy knows you don’t know. In that moment when you’re like, “I got enough space. I’m good.” They’re on top of you and you can’t get your gun out. That’s when you realized, “Maybe I should learn some hand-to-hand and nice stuff.” When I trained the department of corrections, there were probably 30 guys in that class. We did an exercise with these electric knives where we’ll run and zap you.
We had a drill. Their job was to pull the gun out and they didn’t know if I put a malfunction in a weapon or not. I was probably 40 something feet away. I killed every single one of those guys in that mock scenario with the exception of one that did what I told him to. I said, “Don’t focus on your gun. Fight me.” He pulled the gun out that didn’t work and blasted me in the face, which sucked at the time but it was super awesome to see that he listened. I got hit. I was so proud. My bell was ringing. He did what he was supposed to do.
That’s the goal of life. Learn to move through adversity with ease to the best of your ability and to keep pushing. It’s not about your ego because it’s like looks, they’ll fade. What is the legacy you’re leaving on this earth for future generations to talk about? Martial arts is the weirdest industry. Martial artists drive me insane. They remind me of Star Wars nerds. They sit down blabbering. I don’t care about any of this. All I care about is can Gary Sanchez protect his wife when some crack head is coming after them?
It’s what works in real-time. Getting caught up in the nuances of what system works better. It’s like the amateur argument of 0.45 caliber versus 9. Amateurs argue caliber. Professionals argue shot placement. If I shoot you in the face, it doesn’t matter what I shoot you with. It’s going to suck. That mindset of understanding how to get honed in and get deliberate, that’s going to take you to a different level in your love life, combatives and business.
A lot of the men I coach are like, “I don’t know what to do with my wife. She’s upset with me.” I’m like, “Did you win her heart? Did you conquer her? You say you’re a warrior, did you conquer? Do you conquer that woman in the bedroom, kitchen or living room? You’ve got to re-win her heart every single day or some ever douchebag out there on Facebook is trying to, trust me. He’s sitting there going, ‘Girl, you’re so hot. I love your filtered photos.’ In her mind, she’s going, ‘I’m going to replace my man.’” You both have to fight to re-win each other’s hearts. Life is a struggle but the more comfortable you can get being uncomfortable, the more successful you’ll be in life.
Michael, the last question I want to ask you is what is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given or you’ve ever given?
Something that’s with me probably the most is if you weren’t afraid of failing, what would you attempt? If you knew the fear wasn’t an option, what would you do? I understand that fear is a necessity in life and it’s important. Too many people waste the energy of their ability in the day on what they’re afraid of instead of facing what they fear.
If you allow other people’s beliefs, they become your reality. You will end up always being what they say you are instead of what God made you be. If you can learn to be a full version of who you were born to become on this earth, you’d be living a life worth talking about for 2,000 years. What would you do without fear? If it was impossible to fail, what would you attempt? If there was one piece of information or insight, I would more likely than not say what was that.
If there are people that want to connect, bring you into work with them or find out more about what you’re doing, what’s the best way for them to connect with you?
Text the word, WHY, to (505) 437-4029. We’ll know that you’re coming from Gary’s show and we’ll give you guys a special gift. What I recommend doing is starting off on a call. If it’s something that you’re serious about, you want to grow your mind, get past limitations and conquer some challenge in life, jump on a call with us.
If you’re not there, you don’t have a major challenge going on, I’m probably not the guy for you but if you have a major challenge that you want to conquer and overcome then jump on a call with us. When you text the word, WHY, to (505) 437-4029, you’ll end up being in a position where you’ll get access and we’ll jump on a discovery with you. We’ll figure out if we’re a good fit for each other. After that, if you like what we do and it seems to match you, we have some options that we can enroll you in but we make every student that wants to train with us go through basic training first.
What’s included in basic training? What is that?
We call the program, Dauntless. It’s how to overcome fear. It’s not only going to be from a mindset exercise of how to grow yourself and make yourself stronger with daily, weekly and monthly routines but also how to grow yourself from a combative standpoint with what we call the Theoretical Minimum of Defense. If you’re familiar with physics, there’s a concept called the Theoretical Minimum of Physics. If you understand those basics, you can do all of physics. If you understand these basics, we’re going to teach you in Dauntless. You can do all combatives hand-in-hand.
If you look at every single system on the planet, all of them are made up of about anywhere from the top fifteen moves then there are variances and spins off. They go, “This is an advanced move.” “It’s not. You put the other moves together.” Once you understand the three ways to shut down the human being, the timers, switches, mechanics and then you start to understand the fundamentals and environments, that is what you’ll learn inside of fearless and basic training.
Michael, thank you so much for being here. It’s been awesome to connect, know your story and how you’ve taken and transitioned that into something that helps so many people. I look forward to staying in touch as we go on our journeys.
Thank you for having me, Gary. Thank you for what you do for the community with why. It’s an awesome tool to have in the tool belt to anybody that gets a chance to do that. If you have not, you should activate that and also send it out to your friends. If you care about people, living a purposeful life is an important thing to have. That’s an important element of living each day with power. If you know anybody that can use the why, fully endorse it. Thanks for having me, Gary.
I appreciate it, Michael.
It’s time for our new segment and that is Guess The Why. We picked somebody famous that everybody at least typically knows. We’ll guess what we think their why is. I want to pick the why of Conor McGregor, the MMA fighter. What do you think his why is? He does things differently. He challenges people.
He’s getting into business. He went from MMA to the top of MMA to then fighting a boxer, which nobody had ever done. He did that at the highest level. He’s made a fortune. He doesn’t ever follow a typical path. He beats to his own drum. He does it his own way. He won’t follow the rules and do what people tell him to do.
Which of the nine whys do you think his why is? For me, I believe that Conor McGregor’s why is to challenge the status quo and think differently. Don’t follow the rules. Ask the question why not versus following what people say he has to do. If any of you out there know him, make sure you put him in contact with me so we can discover his why. I’ll get back to you and let you know for sure.
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 get it at half price. If you love the show, please don’t forget to subscribe. Leave us a review and rating on whatever platform you use so that you can help us bring the why to one billion people in the next years.
Starting in the martial arts at 2 years old, Michael C. Johnson continues to grow his knowledge and career in combatives. He opened Shockwave Defense in Albuquerque, NM in 2002 which combined experiences that yielded life conviction, behavioral psychology, and multiple black belt rankings into his interpretation of defense called Bellicusology (The study of militant, martial, and warfare ways). He holds a BA in criminology from the University of New Mexico, & is the honorary squadron commander for the 512th Rescue Squadron at Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque, NM. Johnson has done bodyguard work for celebrities such as Xzibit, and was the primary deadly force combatives instructor for the Florida Department of Corrections & their Special Teams Units. His instruction has reached over 19,000 officers in the Department of Corrections, and has trained multiple officers from other agencies as well as the Silver City Police Department, NM. He is a certified NRA firearms instructor and a professional lecturer through the New Mexico Department of Public Safety. He teaches domestically and abroad including Taiwan, and The Yokota AFB in Tokyo Japan, where he trained the 459th Airlift Squadron how to defend themselves and their aircraft should a hostile actor try to take over the aircraft. His tried & tested skills have been tested against underground full contact fighters and he has over 55 full contact stick/weapons fights.
He continues to train the public as well as, law enforcement and military personnel in how to function in resistant environments. Additionally, he and his team produce films in Judgmental Training Software scenarios to aid first responders in dealing with violent individuals in shoot, and no shoot scenarios.
Finding a better way is what drives human success. To be able to find a better way, we need leadership, mentoring and the right mindset. In this episode, Dr. Gary Sanchez sits down for an insightful discussion with Joe Maez, real estate agent and founder of The Maez Group. Joe is an armed forces combat veteran who has leveraged the training, mindset and mentoring of many to get to where he is today, despite coming from a challenged community. Learn great insights from Joe and Dr. Sanchez by tuning in to this episode.
Watch the episode here:
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Finding A Better Way: Joe Maez Discusses Leadership, Mentoring And Mindset For Success
Welcome to the show, where we go beyond just talking about your why and actually helping you discover and live your why. If you’re a regular reader, you know that every week, we talk about one of the nine why’s and then bring on somebody with that why so you 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 improvement with the world. You constantly ask yourself questions like “What if we tried this differently? What if we did this another way? How can we make this better?”
You contribute to the world with better processes and systems while operating under the motto, “I’m often pleased but never satisfied.” You were excellent at associating, which means that you are adept at taking ideas or systems from one industry or discipline and applying them to another always with the ultimate goal of improving something.
I’ve got a great guest for you. His name is Joseph Maez. He was born and raised in Northern New Mexico. Joe is not afraid to go the extra mile. He’s a graduate of UNM Anderson School of Management, a US Army combat veteran and the first New Mexico broker on record to close over 100 million in residential real estate in a single year.
He’s recognized as being amongst the leading real estate professionals in the country selling thousands of homes in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho metro areas. Armed with a unique and extensive knowledge of local markets coupled with unparalleled marketing and negotiation skills and discipline, Joe brings a true passion to every real estate transaction. Joe is a sales coach and consultant to many public and private companies. Joe, welcome to the show.
This is going to be fun. I’m looking forward to this. Tell everybody a little bit about your background. Take us back to where were you born? When you went to UNM, how did you get into the military and then how did you get into real estate? Let’s go down that path.
I was born in Española, New Mexico, a little Northern New Mexico town up in Rio Arriba County. I went to school in Cuba, New Mexico, until I was in third grade. At that point, my father got a job up in Chama, so he moved us up to Abiquiu. That’s pretty much where I grew up. My graduating class was eighteen people, Gary, in Coronado High School.
Most people reading this will not know what Española is like, what kind of reputation it has and what it is known for. Give people a sense of where that is and what that is like.
To me, it’s a beautiful place. It doesn’t have the best of reputations. It was known as being the low rider capital of the world and the heroin capital of the world which we’re trying to change. There’s a lot of amazing people that come out of the Española Valley area. It’s a beautiful country, too. For people that are reading that never experienced it, it’s a challenging location. It’s a challenging community. More specifically, where I graduated from was a place called Gallina, New Mexico, which is where the Coronado Leopards are. It was a consolidated school.
I rode the bus for 45 minutes in the morning to get to school. It was neat because I took my daughter on a little trip and I hadn’t been back to that school in twenty years. The campus gates happened to be open on a Sunday afternoon and I took my daughter through there. I said, “That’s where your daddy went to school.” She’s like, “No way.” My kids are going to some great schools. I want them to go to school where it’s cool to be smart because when I was growing up, it wasn’t cool to be smart. MPC had to do things a little bit differently. I graduated from that school.
I did the delayed entry program for the Army Reserves. Both my grandfathers are Vietnam veterans. I always wanted to be like those guys. Those are my gold standard. That’s what a man should be. Just studying what you’re studying and doing what you’re doing. A lot of things are learned. We want to be like the people before us. I have great mentors. I was the only person from my generation to go and join the military. As soon as I possibly could, I even told my recruiter, “I was laid down.” Normally people just hold out for a bonus or something like that, but I joined up right away.
I was a combat engineer. The good thing that my parents did is they always programmed us. They said, “You’re going to college.” That was awesome. My first major was sports medicine because I was super into sports and always liked to run, lift weights and do all that stuff. We didn’t have enough kids for the football team at the school that I went to, so that was a bummer. If you’re going to play basketball, you have to run fast. You had to be faster than everybody else, which helps me out in my industry right now. You have to be faster than everybody else.
You got to be resourceful.
I joined the Reserves and then I got a business degree. When I was going to college, mom and dad said, “You got to go to college.” I was going to NMSU down at New Mexico State and then one day I woke up, I said, “What’s going on with you?” I used to sell my artwork in the old town. I did stuff for the Spanish market when I was growing up. My father-in-law taught me how to carve crosses in Spanish colonial furniture and things like that.
One day, I was like, “I’m not going to be in people’s feet for the rest of my life,” and then I said, “I’m going to business school.” I left NMSU and went back to Anderson because I have a strong business school and that was that. Halfway through my graduating semester, I was deployed to Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division. That was in 2003 when we invaded Iraq. That was an eye-opener.
Both my grandfathers were war vets. My dad’s a war vet. This was part of me going into that role. When you’re in your twenties, you don’t think that war is a bad thing. As sick as it sounds, you’re excited to go to war. When you get around that in my life, there’s not a lot of good that comes from war but I can tell you that great experience came to me from war.
Going to war is humbling because you never realize how good you have it until you don’t have it. That’s always been a saying. Sometimes people get tired and they don’t know what that means until they experience it. Even going to school, certain relationships that you’ve had, advice that your father or your mother and advice that mentors gave you, a lot of times, we take that for granted. Taking running water for granted and taking a shower in cold water or things like that. What was supposed to be a four-month deployment turned into thirteen months, so that changes your perspective on life.
What was that like?
Nobody ever likes to admit their shortcomings but I was the kid growing up that going to college was checking the box for me because if you didn’t go to college in our family, everybody gave you the guilt trip because all our fathers and mothers had done it. My grandmother was the first valedictorian in the family line, which was great to move the needle forward. I didn’t even buy books in college. I just went, listened, and passed every test with A’s, B’s, and the occasional C.
When I got back from Iraq, I got straight A’s because, unfortunately, Anderson didn’t give me any credit, not even a partial credit, but it was fine. I got down into it. I finished off when I graduated with straight As in my last semester, which never happened. I was in the books and I was reading, and I was like, “I’ll never take education for granted like that,” or opportunities for that matter. That was neat. I needed that.
Going to war for me was an eye-opener. I was a hell of a soldier. When you’re in your twenties, that’s a great time to be a soldier when you don’t need to have any kids or worry back at home. In my 40s, I’d probably be a different soldier than when I was then because I was one of the youngest NCOs, which is a Non-Commissioned Officer. I got out as an E-6 after eight years of being in which I was always a fast tracker. I always max my PT test and all the educational stuff. I was good at it. I always excelled.
I had soldiers that reported to me that were twice my age which was another learning lesson because I didn’t have enough miles to empathize with them about what was going on back at home because it was hard for some of these guys to be far away from their families. I couldn’t empathize. It takes time to get that kind of experience.
Now, I’m a pretty decent communicator because people always say, “You’re only 40 years old,” and I’ll tell them, “I’m 40 years old, but I got a lot of miles on me.” Sometimes I feel like Forrest Gump because there are many things. Forty is young and I still had a lot of life experience. When I was coming back from Iraq, my wife started looking for homes for us because where I come from, everybody does.
That’s the way a lot of people think about things. They say, “This is the path of life that people need to take.” It’s like, “You go to school, then you go to college. After you go to college, you get a job. You worked that job for as long as it takes to retire. You contribute to whatever your retirement account it is. When you retire, you get a hobby.” The way that you throw and get married, have kids and buy a house. There are these paint-by-numbers things for your life and that’s all learned.
When I came back from Iraq, I told my wife, “I had some good money saved because number one, when I was there, there wasn’t anywhere to spend that money.” These poor guys come back in debt because they have access to the internet. I did not touch that money, so I had a pretty good amount of money saved when I came back. I said, “Time to check that box and buy a house.”
Rosie started looking around for a house and then when I finally was able to talk to her when I came back into town, she’s like, “You would be a good real estate agent.” I said, “What’s a real estate agent?” She’s like, “They help people find houses. They make a lot of money, too.” I was like, “I like money.” At that time, I was bartending at my family’s bar in college and I did pretty good bartending.
Bartending is listening to people and making sure their drinks are full. They’re not waiting on you for that matter. Being a good listening ear but also remembering them, knowing what they like when they show back up again. I was a great bartender. She said, “You love helping and listening to people.” I said, “Real estate. How’s that work?” She said, “It’s a 100% commission paid.” Where I come from, you get a paycheck on the 1st and the 15th. I said, “I will listen.”
I went to career night with her and I listened to the guys that were putting on the career night. They are super awesome guys. They totally put on a good show and sold me on it, but when they told me 100% commission paid, I still had those limiting beliefs in my mind about, “Could I do it?” We both agreed that we’re going to get our licenses. Rosie got her license and went with the brokerage here in town.
At that time, Pulte Homes was doing a lot of college recruiting. They’re on campus and it was in real estate. They advertise a $55,000 a year salary with benefits. I was like, “Great. There’s the security.” I went with it. I interviewed and I got the job. It was a fun process. There’s a lot of time we probably don’t have to talk about that but it was neat. My military service got me in the door there. I would have never gotten in the door if I didn’t have my degree because they’re only looking for college grads.
Number two, it was when war veterans were coming back from Iraq. I was one of the first people to come back and that was exciting. They hired me pretty quickly, which was great. I started with this company and it was awesome. Their sales training program was phenomenal. I didn’t know that at the time but my mentor’s name is Brian Fink and he used to tell me, “If you want, I’ll give you extra training. Meet me in my office at 5:00 AM.” He offered that to the whole sales staff. I was one of the only ones that showed up and he took a major liking to me.
Before that, this is where I got recognized. The company had rolled out a CRM. It was a national initiative. Pulte is a Fortune 147 company. You know how that is, Gary. We’re both better way guys. Sometimes when any company rolls out a CRM, you lose so many people because people don’t like change. I’m like, “Give me change. I love change.” That’s what I realized about myself. I’m an intern at this time. I’m low on the totem pole, which is great. I’m learning.
All of a sudden, corporate flies into town. Nobody even knows who I am. They said, “We’re looking for a Joseph Maez.” That’s before I started going by Joe. I remember my VP’s assistant was like, “That’s our young guy. He’s working down in the South Valley.” My VP says, “If he did something wrong, we could assure you he’s new,” or whatever. They said, “No. He’s the number one user of SalesLogix in the country. We want to talk to him because we noticed the sales in his community have gone through the roof.”
This was a platform at that time in 2004, 2005. That was the first year I started to see mass emails and things like that were going out. I was using it because I had to network with the brokers in the community. The rest was history, Gary. I used that system and then they had me teach it. For seven years, I was with Pulte. In my last two years with that company, I was the number one salesperson in the entire nation, which was awesome. It all came with great training. Pulte had an amazing training program.
Ryan did a good job of investing in me and he’s an integral part and mentor. He was inspirational to me. I’ll go cool stuff development-wise, so I learned a lot about construction and finance. There’s so much that goes into it. It was like a Master’s degree in real estate. Towards the end, they started laying off people. Pulte changed in general because it was in the downturn. A lot of the people that I looked up to were getting cut and let go for the right reasons. The company could not sustain that type of overhead anymore.
To me, I’ve never seen anything like that so it was hard for me to take even though I was a great revenue generator. At that point, I was untouchable. You got a 25, 26-year-old guy making $500,000 a year. It was amazing. I was at the top of my game. My wife was on the resale side and I’m on the new construction side. We’re doing great.
My little boy was two at the time and Rosie was pregnant with our little girl and then this lady came into town. She was from Pulte corporate. After they started laying off the executives, they came to depend on me. I knew I wasn’t going to get touched because I was a revenue generator. The last person you’re going to touch is the revenue generator.
When she came to town, she’s like, “You’re Joe Maez?” I said, “Yes.” She’s like, “I hear you get whatever you want around here.” I was like, “Where’s this coming from?” She said, “Starting next year, we’re going to cut your commission. The reason we’re going to do that is because we know you’re used to making a certain amount of money and you’ll work harder to make that same amount of money.” I was like, “It’s the cold-blooded killer.”
She was hired to do that. She’s honestly one of the best things that ever happened to me because I had been toying about going out on my own for a couple of years at that point but I didn’t do it. I have second-level limiting beliefs. I knew I could do it. A lot of agents and marquee brokers in town were like, “Joe, you got to make people just come to you.”
I didn’t have anything to do with the sale. I was an order taker. I’m listening to that and I’m like, “All this stuff is adding up,” but I knew I was an X-factor. I always make things happen. It’s funny when I was younger, I never thought algebra would come in handy. I solve for X every day. I’m always solving for X, whether it’s figuring out a problem or finding out a better way to do things.
At this point, I’m on the top of my career. One day, I was at a company picnic and our new division president was there. He and I got along well. Six months had passed since that lady had that conversation with me and I’m forever grateful for her. She said, “What’s going on, Joe?” I said, “I’ve never done this before. I’m going to give you guys my two weeks.” I don’t have anything lined up, Gary. He’s like, “What is it? Is it about that conversation you had with someone?” I said, “No, it’s not that.”
In fact, I’m glad that happened because this company is amazing. Up to this day, it is one of the best companies out there because they always stood behind its product. It didn’t matter how much it costs. They always warrantied stuff. It’s seriously a great place to learn. I got to prove to myself that I’m not what they say, that I’m not just an order taker out there. They’re like, “If you ever want to come back, the door’s always open.” I appreciate that but I told them that I wouldn’t be back.
In my first year, I went to the same brokerage that my wife was with because the owners and I are good friends. Out of 550 brokers, I’ve placed number four in my first year. That was awesome. I knew I always wanted to be number one. Meaning, top in units and volume. The only way I could do that was by having a team because I was doing it all by myself.
At this point, my wife was taking care of the kids and taking care of me full-time, which is a hard job and taking care of our household. I would not want that job. Supporting us is the hardest job in the Maez family. That was good that she got to stay at home and she got to do all that. Here, I hit the ground. At this point, I started shopping for companies that I could have a team. They had teams here in Albuquerque, but they weren’t a real team. I would kill myself from stress and exhaustion if I was going to work as hard as I was my first year in residential resale.
I looked at RE/MAX and Keller Williams. I went with Keller Williams because they have a great philosophy in how they approach doing business with people, win-win or no deal, which I love. It’s got to be a win-win. By the way, financially, it made a lot of sense from a team perspective. That way, my team members can make decent money as well because I can’t be making all the money. We did that and grew that company. Keller Williams blew up. That was when I broke the $100 million mark and took the number one spot in Albuquerque. It’s been a documented thing for years.
A few years ago, I left Keller Williams and said, “At this point, the buck stops with me.” I started The Maez Group. We closed $149 million in production for 425 units, which is my all-time best. It’s a small brokerage. We have about eight brokers here. Most of them are new, so I specialize in training newer agents. The only difference was when I was with Keller Williams, I would lose my experienced brokers to the company. You got to get it. People want to make more money. Who am I to tell a broker that’s been with me for a certain amount of time like, “I can’t give you a raise.”
The Maez Group is like the boot camp for newer brokers and if they want to stay long term, they can. The Maez Group is a training ground. It’s where you learn how the real world in real estate works. Everybody has all these cool classes but the real world is a real world. What I provide is real-world experience. There’s a separate brokerage that I own which is called AI, which stands for All In.
These are people that are all-in. They’re not doing this. They’re not doing that. They don’t have one foot over here. They don’t have one foot there. They’re all-in in real estate and they’ve been vetted by me. They’ve been trained by me. They have no criminal record. These are people that you can trust in your home with your family and stuff like that. That’s a new launch.
There’s OP which stands for On Purpose. OP is for people that went through The Maez Group and couldn’t do AI because it’s a lot of work. Now they realize that real estate isn’t as easy as everybody says it is. They worked hard for their license and they still have a lot of contacts. Through OP, they don’t have to be members of the board of realtors with all the fees, but they can refer people to The Maez Group and they can get paid a referral fee on that.
It’s like a triangle of companies. I own a title company as well called Signature Title and it’s been years since we’ve opened it. It’s super successful. It’s doing good business. It’s great. That’s where we’re at. I have an amazing staff. We discovered our why’s with you, but as a better way person, it’s nice to see that because The Maez Group does what it does because we did find a better way.
A little flashback that I had when Gary was when my mentor was around telling him, “We’d sell away more houses if we had somebody to do our paperwork. It seems like every time I’m writing up a contract in the sales office, somebody is coming in wanting to buy, but I’m face to face with somebody writing him up on a deal.” He’s like, “When you’re the boss one day, you could do things how you want to do.” I said, “Noted.”
Now, you do.
My salespeople do not write their own purchase agreements. We have an experienced contract writer that writes all of our contracts. My claim to fame is over 3,000 transactions, Gary, and I’ve never been in a courtroom. The money is great, but having a great reputation is even better. If an attorney would go and say, “You have a pattern of behavior,” the pattern of behavior would be a success and doing things right. Also, creating a business model that people know that when they’re doing business with us, it’s getting done right. We spend money on the processes to make sure that they don’t have to worry about. That’s why people hire brokers to give themselves some insulation from liability.
Question for you then, you said that you’re the guy that makes things happen, what do you attribute to your ability to make things happen?
A lot of that is a combination of a lot of things. Number one, my mom. I’d always say, “I can’t do that.” She would quickly say, “You can and you will.” That was instilled in us at such a young age. My parents were always the candid type of people. In the military, I remember it’s been ingrained in you over time. One of the things that I always would remember was no excuse. If a drill sergeant or a higher up came up to you and say, “What’s this all about?” I’d say, “No excuse and we’d fix it.” We never make excuses and we always would complete the mission. Thinking back, we never had a failed mission because we always never gave up. Looking at things differently, there’s a lot of tenacity that goes into it and the can and the mindset.
One of my favorite sayings was by Henry Ford, “Whether you believe you can or you can’t, you’re right.” That is a huge mindset. There were things that we’ve done here that everybody said, “You can never do that,” but we did it. It’s a mindset that if we know that we can do things, we can get it done. That’s the answer to your question. It’s a mindset more than anything.
When you work with new brokers, what are some of the things that you work with them on so that they can get over these fears? There’s a lot of fear jumping into a commission-only kind of situation.
I learned from these guys, too. I’m a mentor and I’ve mentored some great people in fact, but they mentored me, too. They didn’t even know it but they’ve been helping me out as well. I’m putting myself in their shoes. One thing that I know that we do differently is a real-life experience. I’m an audiobook type of guy, so this show is great. I’ve listened to some of the podcasts and it’s great for a guy like me because I’m not a pick-up-a-book-and-read type of guy.
One of the things I listened to in a book was, “10% of what you’re going to learn is in the classroom. The other 10% is reading in a book, but the 80% is rolling up your sleeves and doing it.” That’s the approach that I love for the newer agents. For me, it’s maybe not the best analogy, but as a wolf would teach the pups how to hunt, that’s how I teach people how to do things. It’s roll with me. We do it, they do it, so do it. If you’re watching me do it, you’re going to be way more comfortable than if you read it in a book or some guy that was teaching in class that’s never even done it. He’s just qualified to do teach the class. This is a real-world experience.
When any of my brokers come out of my camp, if they give me two years, I would put them up against any seasoned broker out there, just from how to get things done. They’re hearing that a seller calls me upset about a low offer or me negotiating that. They hear firsthand the negotiations on offer and how you get the highest price for a seller. They hear firsthand deals are going to miss closing and both the buyer and seller have scheduled moving trucks and everybody’s up in arms about that.
That’s a real-life experience you will not learn in a book or any class by somebody that’s teaching a class that’s probably not even qualified to teach a class. This is real-world stuff, so they’re seeing it for real. You’d be surprised, Gary, some agents will never sell a house because they don’t know how to write the contract. They’ve never made a single contract but once they’ve made that first contract, it’s all good. Now, they did it.
It’s almost like rites of passage. It’s like, “I’ve done that. I’m not afraid of it anymore.” Like a lot of things in our life. The first time somebody skydives, they’re probably freaked out. The second time, probably not so much. If they come back, then they’re probably not afraid of it. It’s the same deal. What I do is get people past that threshold sooner.
I remember there was a broker that I used to see in the office all the time when I was back at Keller Williams. I always remember these stories. Keller Williams is one of the best training companies there is. They do a lot of classroom training. She was going to those classes. I have probably been there for about eight months. I saw her in the hallway and said, “You sold anything yet?” She says, “No, I haven’t sold anything yet.” I said, “I’m going on a listing appointment. Come with me.”
She jumped in the car with me and she watched me list the house. When I was driving back with her to the office, I got a call from one of my buyers. There was a house that we emailed them because we have automatic trips and they wanted to see it. I said, “I’ll have one of my brokers open the house for you.” I said, “You’re going to go open the house and after you go open the house, we’re going to write it up.” She said, “Really?” I said, “Yup.”
That was her first transaction. I said, “Have the buyers call me from the house.” They called me from the house. I ran payments with them over the phone. I told them about how the process works. She’s listening and watching it. It’s probably something that she had been in those classes for sixteen months and never even experienced. I had her write up the deal for me. I showed her how to write up the deal. She’s not on my team, but she’s a producing broker out in society right now. I know that was the spark that lit the flame. That’s what I do.
The other thing about me is that I’m a man of abundance. I never think about, “That’s my competition,” because it’s not. There’s so much business, Gary. For me, I noticed that it changed her life. It changed my life, too because it reinforced my beliefs that I love helping people. As Rosie said years ago, “You’d be a good real estate agent. You like helping people.” Why would I be good at anything? Because I love helping people.
What was the spark that set you from the guy who didn’t know anything to off and running?
This is going to sound pretty weird, but I grew up doing hard labor and doing stuff where I was even thinking back about my military careers. I was an NCO, but I had all the credits to be an officer. I always did things the hard way. When I realized how much I could do and what a living I could make with using this, that’s where things took off. It was a dream come true. A lot of people will say, “Joe got lucky.” I got lucky to find my niche and my niche is I can take things that are in bad shape and I can make them shine.
One of the hardest things for me, Gary was when I reached what I felt was the pinnacle of my career. A lot of people will probably never reach that spot but I was fortunate to reach it. It’s a breaking point. I don’t know if you can identify with this. I’m pretty sure you can because you’re a winner. I reached a point where I’m like, “I’m the number one guy. I’m selling all this stuff. I’m selling all these houses,” and then you’re like, “I’ve climbed to the top of this mountain. Now what?”
It seemed like I’ve always been in the military, I climbed that mountain. I did that. I went to Pulte, I climbed that mountain. I was done there. It seems like a seven-year cycle. It’s eight years in the military and 7 or 8 years in new home sales. Now I’m at this 7 and 8-year mark in residential resale and I’m at the top of my game, and then you started thinking, “What now?” It’s like the Rocky series. He was like, “Now, what?”
I took a year off and I let the company do its own thing. It still did well, but I realized how much I missed the interaction of being with people. It’s crazy but saving people’s lives. When you sell sometimes, there are situations where you’re saving somebody’s life in this. I’m able to help people in situations where I know another broker might not be able to do it.
For instance, I got a deal that’s closing. We sold their house. Everybody sees my sales and they see this one that’s sold for $2.7 million. They see all these big deals that close, but we sell everything. This house that I am selling on the outskirts of Los Lunas is a $149,000 property. We get it under contract and the seller doesn’t have the money to make all the repairs that have come upon this house. They’re already under contract in another property, so they have to close.
There’s the foundation on this mobile home that needs repairs but they don’t have it. There’s the septic that failed on this house and needs to be replaced but they don’t have the money. The neighbor next door has been living in this house and four people are using this well. The neighbor refuses to sign a Shared Well Agreement, even though these people have been living there for eight years and they’ve been paying the electricity down as well. She won’t sign a Shared Well Agreement. The buyer’s lender will not sell that property unless there’s a Shared Well Agreement or they have their own well.
Guess who drilled the well? I drilled the well for $20,000. I replaced the septic for $55,000 and I did the foundation for probably about $1,500. I don’t have to tell you but the commissionable event in that was maybe $5,100, but I can’t. They have enough proceeds coming out of the sale to where they signed something saying they’ll pay me back at closing. I’m able to do that. I know I can get it done. It’s neat to be in a position like that where you can bridge the gap. There was like, “How did you sell 425 homes?” I found a way to get it done because I’ve been fortunate to be good at what I’m doing. I’m able to help way more people because I’m able to bridge the gap.
There’s a lot of great real estate agents out there and we both know a lot of them. What is it that makes you good? What is the mindset? What is that X factor? What is that thing that somebody who’s reading to this who are thinking, “I’m considering getting into real estate. I am in real estate and I’m trying to figure out how do I go from beginner to expert? How do I go from survival to abundance?” What is it?
The answer to that for me is nothing replaces experience. You have to have a good quality experience. You have to get a great mentor, somebody to mentor you. It’s crazy to see real estate agents coming out and they get into it because they say, “There’s this guy and he’s got this and he’s got that. He doesn’t even speak good English.” The truth is if I can do it, they can do it. What they’re missing is the years of failure that come in there and learning the hard way, too.
When I mentor people, my goal is to save them like my dad and my mom used to give me all this great advice that I never took. My goal is that I get them to take my advice and save them some steps that I had to take that they shouldn’t have to take. That’s where it’s at. It’s been mentored. There are many agents coming into any industry. I know that when you’re a dentist, you don’t just start working on people’s teeth. It took time. You had to watch somebody that had crazy experience perform things and that made you a better person.
There are people in this industry and I have my qualms with this industry because number one, they just let anybody get into it, which is sad. If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, try hiring an amateur. A lot of people don’t realize that until they have to call me up. They’ve spent double or whatever.
Electricians have an apprentice and journeyman program. That’s what people need to do. They need not to cheat the system. I mentor young ones at a couple of colleges in the summer. They said, “What’s the biggest piece of advice you can give to somebody younger like me?” I said, “Enjoy the process of learning and learn well because if you skip a step, you might not be able to survive something serious.”
I deal with millions of dollars of production. What happens if you make a mistake? Are you able to make it right? If you’re a true professional, you have to be able to make it right. That’s why to work with a true professional costs money, but a true professional should pay for themselves. I always tell myself, “You want to get to the point where your experiences were so much that when people hire me, it’s almost like getting me for free because I pay for myself during the transaction.” From the advice that I’m able to give people. I always say it’s experience.
I have an autographed picture here in my office of Nolan Ryan and Robin Ventura. Nolan Ryan has Robin Ventura in a headlock. I have a signed copy of that picture right here. I have it in my office for a reason and I named that picture, Experience, because Nolan Ryan was at the end of his career and probably one of the best pitchers of all time. He’s a Hall of Famer. There’s this young guy who steps up to the plate. Robin Ventura was a pretty big guy and a hotshot back then and Nolan beat him.
Nobody knew that Robin was going to charge. Robin acts like he’s taking the basics and watching them on YouTube and all that stuff, and then halfway, he decides he wants to charge Nolan. Everybody thinks, “Nolan wasn’t afraid.” “You’re talking about a veteran pitcher. Do you think he’s been charged before?” “Maybe once or twice.” He walked towards Robin Ventura and not one bit of fright, he went for it. What that all went down to me was an experience. The man had been in his fair share of scraps. He knew how it was going to turn out. He knew how to handle the situation. That’s what happened but he couldn’t have done that.
Having your mentor when you first started, how much of a benefit was that
It was a huge benefit. I didn’t know that at the time because I was young. You don’t have to be young. I’m talking about being young in the profession. When you’re learning a new trade, so to speak, you don’t know it at the time but you realize later down the road how valuable certain mentors were. My mentor, Brian, taught me the critical path of sales and we never skipped a step. I have my way of doing things right now but my way couldn’t have been my way without his way. Everything from how you greet somebody to how you get a commitment.
Sales is not a bad word. To me, sales are helping people. It’s getting people to decide on something good for them, not what’s good for me. I approached sales in a way that I’m helping somebody and I’m solving a problem. He went a lot deeper. A lot of real estate brokers help people find houses. He taught me how to know money well. Knowing the mortgage side, knowing the different programs and being knowledgeable about all the ways.
If somebody’s a doctor, a lot of people don’t know that there are zero-down programs for physicians with no mortgage insurance. They’ll say, “Call this lender and get back to me.” I’m like, “Nobody’s ever going to call that thing.” They’re almost afraid of going to a lender as much as they’re afraid of going to the dentist. That’s the reality. That’s human psychology and human nature. I always knew the money side. He taught me the value of learning the money side. It’s not just about the real estate process. It’s about knowing your product, too. That’s where the construction knowledge came into play. How does that work?
I remember one of the first things when I was selling houses in the southwest, a guy came in and he was on Sandi Pressley’s team. He was the buyer’s agent for Sandi Pressley, Arny Katz. He is one of the better buyer brokers out there and I’m brand new. I’m the new kid on the block. Arny wants to show his client a spec on a standing piece of inventory out there and the guy comes in and said, “What kind of roof is this?” This was years ago. I said, “I don’t know but I’ll get that answer for you.” He says, “What kind of windows are these?” “I don’t know but I’ll get that answer for you.” “What kind of air conditioning is this?” “I don’t know.” “What the hell do you know?” “I don’t know but I’ll get that answer for you.”
That was one of those defining moments in my life where I said, “I will never be in that position again.” I pulled Antonio, who was our project manager at the time out there. I said, “Antonio, I want to learn everything about construction, from permitting to the CO. Use me,” and they did. Antonio and his team taught me well about how the construction process works. When I show up to an appointment, I’m not just some other realtor.
I know about PSI in slabs. I know about the different types of slabs. I know about windows. I know more about somebody’s house than they know about their house when I show up and that’s great because I’m an expert. I’m not just anybody else. We are experts. On the money side, if I’m representing a buyer or seller, they can get their mortgage lender on the phone.
They call me the lender’s broker because I’m super low maintenance and by the time I give them somebody to talk to, they’re already qualified. I just need them to pull credit. I’ve already talked to the people about it. I already run numbers. I have already set expectations. It’s pretty easy for them. I know how to ask the questions. I know about the different programs and the reality of all that. That came with time and experience and being a student of the craft.
You said something important there that I wanted to touch on. You said you helped people make a decision. That seems like a big difference between helping them buy a house or helping them in the other areas. When I’m trying to buy something, that’s the hardest part. How do I make a decision? If you can help me do that, you’re my guy.
Here’s the thing about you, Gary, you do what you do, which is what you do and that’s great. You stay in your lane and that’s all fine and good. When you come into my domain and into my universe, that’s my universe, so my job is to be of value to you. You don’t know the market the way I do. Chances are, if you’d give me 5 to 10 minutes to talk with you and you casually tell me because I’m going to be asking you a lot of great open-ended questions to have you open up to me, I’m going to know where that property is. It might not even be on the market but I’m going to know where it’s at. I’m going to know that financially it meets your needs, it’s not going to put you in hardship and it’s going to meet a timeframe that’s comfortable for you.
By the way, unless you’re paying cash, I probably know about a program that you don’t know about that’s going to put a smile on your face. That’s what it is. I’ve seen people that have told me while we’re looking within the next twelve months to move, but after maybe a 30-minute conversation with me, they’re moving and it’s for the better. It’s not that I sold them something. I just showed them something that they didn’t know about.
I always tell my brokers, “Tell our clients something that they don’t already know.” There’s a reason why Zillow, Realtor.com and those types of platforms exist. They are a disruption. The disruption is the fact that people aren’t creating the value that they should. When Zillow is doing the job for you, if the buyer or the seller knows more than you do, then he fails. That’s the way I see it. Technology shouldn’t replace brokers like me because we’re valuable. Anybody else that I train, I want them to build in their value that they never have to be intimidated by some app that’s going to be created. People will always do business when they know there’s value.
The last question and I know you’ve talked about a lot of great advice and given a lot of great advice. What would you say is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received or you’ve ever given?
I receive a lot of great advice. There was a Spanish saying, and it says, “Lo barato cuesta caro,” which means the cheap will end up cost. The cheap way of doing things ends up costing you the most. I’ve learned that you get what you pay for in most cases. Never go to the lowest bidder. That’s one of the better advice and that’s in everything, too.
It goes all the way around. If you’re going to go about something the easy way, it doesn’t have to be about money. It could be about taking the easy way out versus putting in the work. That saying can mean so much on many different levels. Don’t ever cheat yourself. You got to put in the work to get what you deserve if you want it.
As far as advice that I give, that’s a tough question, Gary. I give a lot of advice but the advice that I give is by my actions and watching what I do and that’s how I do things right. Having kids, I’ve learned that it’s not about what you say, it’s about what you do. People are watching you and they’re watching how you deliver. That’s the best example because a lot of people can say things but it’s about what they do that is worth more.
Joe, I appreciate you taking the time. I know you’re busy. Thank you for being here. I’m glad we got a chance to do this finally. I know we get to see each other from time to time, but we haven’t had a chance to sit down and learn about you. It’s fascinating how you’ve gone from where you came from to where you are now. There are a lot of great lessons there. Thank you so much for spending the time. If there are people that are reading that want to connect with you, want to learn more about you and maybe want to work with you in buying or selling a house or being mentored by you, how should they get ahold of you?
The best way to do it is to go to my website. It’s www.JoeMaez.com and they can inquire. They could fill in an inquiry and we’ll get with them.
Joe, Thanks again. I’ll see you on the golf course.
I want to wrap it up with our Guess Their Why. I want us to use somebody popular and that would be from the TV series, Ted Lasso. What do you think Roy Kent’s why is? If you watch Ted Lasso, you know exactly who Roy Kent is. He’s one of the favorite characters. He says whatever he wants to say whenever he wants to say it and the way he wants to say it. He’s serious, direct and to the point, no fluff, just right at it.
I’m going to guess that Roy Kent’s why is to simplify because he doesn’t mince words. He doesn’t worry if he hurt your feelings. He says it how it is. He’s nothing fancy. Just right to it. If you like that, you know what you’re getting. There is no extra fluff or candy that goes with it, then that is Roy Kent. What do you think Roy Kent’s why is?
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 get it for half price. If you love the show, please don’t forget to subscribe or leave us a review and a rating on whatever platform you’re using so that you can help us impact one billion people in the next few years by helping them discover their why, how and what. It’s what we call your Why.os. Thanks, everybody. I’ll see you next episode.
Shaahin Cheyene always searched for a better way. He is the brilliant mind behind the legendary smart drug known as herbal ecstasy. He’s earned over a billion dollars in revenue because of it. But what if you were to discover that Shaahin’s family had to escape to survive and ended up finally migrating to Los Angeles, California? At 15 years old, Shaahin left home with nothing but the clothes on his back! Join the conversation as host Dr. Gary Sanchez uncovers Shaahin’s powerful “why” of wanting to contribute better processes and systems to the world. It pushed him from a place of desperation to a place of prosperity. Tune in and find a better way!
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Herbal Ecstasy: The Search For A Better Way To Party With Shaahin Cheyene
Welcome to the show, where we go beyond just talking about your why and actually helping you discover and live your why. If you’re a regular reader, you know that every week, we talk about one of the nine whys and then we bring on somebody with that why so we can see how their why has played out in their life. In this episode, we’re going to be talking about the why of better way. If your why is better way, then you are the ultimate innovator. You are constantly seeking better ways to do everything. You find yourself wanting to improve virtually anything by finding a way to make it better.
You also desire to share your improvement with the world. You constantly ask yourself questions like, “What if we tried this differently? What if we did this another way? How can we make this better?” You contribute to the world with better processes and systems while operating under the motto, “I’m often pleased, but never satisfied.” You are excellent at associating, which means that you are adept at taking ideas or systems from one industry or discipline and applying them to another, always with the ultimate goal of improving something.
I’ve got a great guest for you. His name is Shaahin Cheyene. During the Iranian revolution of 1978, Shaahin’s family had to escape to survive and ended up finally migrating to Los Angeles, California. At fifteen years old, Shaahin left home with nothing, but the clothes on his back and created over $1 billion in revenue by inventing the legendary smart drug known as Herbal Ecstacy. These childhood experiences had a major impact on his perspective of freedom, hard work, and entrepreneurship.
Shaahin went on to invent Digital Vaporization, the forerunner to this day’s vapes and a start a number of successful businesses with a couple of notable failures. He is the Founder and CEO of Accelerated Intelligence, Inc., a major Amazon FBA seller with millions in sales and the Lead Coach at Amazon Mastery, where he teaches the entrepreneurs how to crush it on the Amazon platform. He is an active YouTube creator.
Shaahin is considered one of the leading global minds on what’s next in eCommerce, Amazon and the internet. He is described as the Willy Wonka of Generation X by The London Observer and Newsweek and is one of the most forward thinkers in business. With his Amazon Mastery course, he acutely recognizes trends and patterns early on the Amazon platform to help others understand how these shifts impact markets and consumer behavior. Shaahin, welcome to the show.
Gary, it’s my honor to be on. Thank you for having me.
Take us back through your life. Let’s go back and give us your story, how you got started and how you got to where you are because it sounds like it was a struggle at the beginning for sure.
We came to the United States in the late 1970s, early 1980s as immigrants. We immigrated here through Germany to the United States. Iran was on top of the heap, we came here and all of a sudden, we learned that we were third-class citizens in a country that didn’t appreciate Iranians during the whole Iran-Contra thing. We had Ronald Reagan trickle-down economics and Oliver North. Iran-Contra was not a friendly environment.
I grew up with a big chip on my shoulder because I was constantly getting my ass handed to me in school. I would go to school and get beat up every day. We grew up in a neighborhood that was up and coming, the little enclave of Los Angeles called Pacific Palisades. In the early ‘80s, it was much more hippie than it was well-to-do and gentrified. My folks managed to get a house there. It was fairly inexpensive. It was a totally beat-down house. They bought the house and we started fixing it up. As we started fixing up this old house, the neighborhoods started booming.
More and more people started moving to LA. LA was in a building boom. All this wealth started cropping up, literally all around us. We’re in this old house. My dad worked at a pizza shop and then at dry cleaners. We were solidly poor and there was all this wealth around us. I remember grown up there. We didn’t eat out at restaurants. We didn’t buy new clothes and all that stuff. When my brother and I got clothes, we would wait for somebody to walk into my dad’s dry cleaner and pray that person was like cool that they would not pay their bill, so we could get the clothes when they defaulted on their bill or just left the clothes there. We’d always be 2 or 3 seasons behind on whatever the fashion was.
I remember a friend of mine whose dad was a wealthy doctor, invited me over to eat. I was like, “Cool. What’s your mom cooking?” He’s like, “No, she’s not cooking. We’re going to a restaurant.” I was like, “Okay.” We went in there and he gave me a menu. I looked at him and I said, “How the heck does this work?” I can order a pizza and a hamburger and that man’s going to bring it to me. Explain to me how this works again. This is incredible. That’s how it was. I didn’t have any of this wealth, but around me was tons of wealth.
By the time I reached fifteen, I remember thinking to myself, “I want that stuff. I want the Porsche. I want the Ferrari. I want the beautiful blonde sitting in the car next to me in the big house on the hill.” All that great stuff, great vacations and all that stuff. What’s the path? I went and I talked to my parents and I said, “How do I get that?” They thought about it. As any immigrant family will let you know, the pinnacle of success is becoming a doctor.
My parents told me, “You become a doctor. You go to a school.” I was like, “Great. Sign me up for that. I’ll be a doctor.” They’re like, “Okay.” I’m like, “How long does that take 2, 3 years?” They’re like, “No, it takes 8, 10, 12 years. Specialty, 14, 15 years.” “What happens then?” “You got to get a loan. You’ll be in debt for another ten years. You’ll be fat, old and bald like the dude next door. Maybe by the time you’re 50, you’ll have a mortgage, a wife and eight kids.”
You won’t have time because you’ll be selling your hours. You’ll have to wake up at 5:00 AM and come back at 8:00 PM. Maybe by then, you’ll have the house in the car, which by the way, the bank will own, you will not. Very quickly, I discovered that it was not going to be a path that worked for me. Very unceremoniously, I packed up my stuff in a single backpack and I left. I left the keys on the counter. I didn’t come back. I burned my ships. I decided I was going to go out and find my fame and fortune in the world. As a kid, I was fifteen with no friends and no money. This was pre-internet, pre all those times.
Take us into that decision. What was going on for you when you decided at fifteen, I’m going to walk out and do this on my own? What was going on for you?
Growing up again in Los Angeles, at school, I never fit in. I never belonged. There was never a group that I belonged in. As an adolescent, I got involved in multiple criminal activities that adolescents would get involved in. We went to liquor stores and we had this little Greek kid and he was very small. He would walk into the store. He would fit just right under the sensors. He’d wear baggy clothes.
We would create some kind of distraction on it. We’d open up a Coke, spill it and something would happen. The store owner or manager, whoever’s monitoring the store will get busy. He would stuff his pockets with nude magazines, with those little tiny bottles of liquor, cigarettes, glue or whatever we could get. He would rush out under the sensors and we would just pay for the Coke or whatever and get out. We would sell that stuff in school.
We always get busted. We were terrible at crime. We had no business being in the crime business. They would put us in detention. Here we are, these little juvenile criminals in detention. Who’s in detention? More juvenile criminals. It was the best business we had ever done. We would get caught again. They didn’t even have second detention to send us to. We’d be going back and forth through that. By the time I was fifteen, I realized, “Crime was not good for me. I am not good at crime. I’m a failure at crime. I will not be doing a crime. I need to go out there and figure out something to do.”
My why was I wanted the wealth. I wanted success. I wanted to climb the ladder. There was not a path for me to do that in those days. I was going to forge a path. I was going to make a path. I was going to go out there with machetes and cut the entire forest down until there was a path for me. That’s what I did. I started sleeping in abandoned buildings, which was much more glorious than it sounds, and on the beach as well. Sometimes abandoned buildings near the beach, because LA was in a building boat.
I quickly learned that if you could watch realtors, when they opened up the buildings, there was a code to these boxes where the keys were held to these mega buildings that they were building. You could put that code in, get the key, sneak in at night, sleep and leave in the morning. By the way, I don’t espouse anybody to do this. It’s highly illegal, but I would do that. I would sleep in this luxurious building, maybe the plumbing didn’t work or the electricity wasn’t on. I wake up in the morning and get out.
Eventually, I got into the electronic music scene. I learned that I could sleep at clubs behind the speakers, which was another great thing for me, in front of the speakers is very loud but behind the speakers is super quiet. I started hanging out there thinking, “I got to learn something about making money.” I had the books. I had the fortitude to read Think and Grow Rich. Og Mandino, Tony Robbins, Wayne Dyer. I read every self-help, personal development, old-timey, new timey, all of those books.
I knew that there was a possibility for me to break the mold, to break out of what one of my mentors called TikTok. To get out of that world and get into a new reality for myself. I didn’t quite know what the path was in those days. Hanging out in the clubs, I realized that there was money being made. I thought to myself, “It’s got to be the promoters.” I tried throwing a couple of parties. I started looking at the promoters. I was like, “These guys are broke as hell. Everywhere where they’re going, they don’t have money.”
They’re bailing before the party’s over, so they don’t have to pay people. They’re not driving fancy cars. These are not wealthy individuals. I thought, “It’s got to be the musicians because musicians make money.” Nobody in those days appreciated DJs. People who played other people’s music. Which led me to how did these things happen? Week after week, night after night. I looked around and I was like, “It’s got to be the property owners’ real estate.”
Nope. These were all break-ins. All these warehouses were borrowed from some big corporation that owns 50 warehouses and whatever. We’d figure out a way to get in then some guy would climb the power pole and steal power. Another guy would turn on the water main and there’d be plumbing. The party would go on until the morning in these warehouses. I thought to myself, “There are these guys that hang out at the door all the time.” They’re well-dressed and have several beautiful women with them. They sometimes have bodyguards. They had nice cars, nice apartments. What are they doing? What do you think they did?
They were the doorman. They were the gatekeeper.
They were the drug dealers. They were the ones that were dealing the illicit substances and subsidizing the failure of everybody else to keep these parties going because it was highly profitable for them. Drugs are a very lucrative business. I thought to myself, “Let me do that.” I realized I was bad at crime. I looked back to my adolescents, my younger self talking to my older self, “You sir, should not be doing crime. You get caught every time.”
I pictured myself in multiple prisons around the world and thought, “No, I can’t do that.” It hit me. What if I could create a legal drug? What if I could create a version of the most popular drug at the time that there was no supply of because it had just been made illegal called ecstasy. I didn’t get the memo that it was impossible. I went out there and I did it. I managed to get myself a girlfriend with no money and nowhere to live.
I figured out how to get a girlfriend. I managed to convince her to let me cook up prototypes in her kitchen while her dad was out at work. I think he was like the principal or the superintendent of some school district or somewhere. The guy would leave. I would sneak in through the back, a window or door or something. I’d come in and cooking it up in the kitchen. Finally, we got a formula that worked. I didn’t have enough money to buy a capsule machine. She and I would be rolling them up into little balls, and all kinds of people would be coming over. We’d be giving them, “Try this, try this, try this.”
Finally, we got a formula that worked. I called everybody I knew and I said, “This is amazing.” I called authors, writers and all types of people. I found them in the yellow pages, in the phone books in those days. I would call people up and ask them for advice, ask them to come try it. When we had a formula that worked, I knew this was my second reason why I was going to be successful. I had to burn my ships again. I did it once when I left home and I had to find a way to sell the stuff, distribution.
It led me back to the clubs. I had a backpack full of these little baggies filled with these little balls that we hand-rolled to look like pills. I had a little insert card in them with a butterfly in those days. I didn’t know what I was going to call it. I walked up to the biggest drug dealer in the club. These days, if you have tattoos on your face, they call you Post Malone and you are a platinum record star, girls love you, you are harmless. You’re probably a TikTok star or YouTube star. You remember in the ‘80s and ‘90s, should you have tattoos on your neck leading to your face, you are most certainly a criminal, a freak or both.
Nobody had tattoos on their faces. Tattoos were not visible in the ‘80s unless you were a sailor or a part of a gang or something. This guy had tattoos on his face and on his neck. He had those three little tear things, which I think meant he killed somebody in prison or killed three people or some crazy thing like that. He had the gold teeth. He had the bodyguards. He had the girls around him. It was straight out of the movies. Here I am, this teenage kid with this baggie full of herbal goop, walking up to this man who sells bonafide drugs from a criminal enterprise.
I walked up to him and he’s like, “What do you need kid? I got nothing. We’re all out. We’d been out for days.” I said, “No. I’m not a consumer. I want you to sell my stuff.” He said, “What the heck is wrong with you? Are you a cop?” He’s like looking at me. The guards are patting me down looking for a wire. I said, “No. I’m definitely not a cop, but I want you to sell this stuff.” He’s like, “What is it?” I’m like, “It’s just like ecstasy. It’s fantastic, but it’s legal. It’s herbal. It’s natural. You’re not going to go to jail, sir.”
In that moment, he looked like he was about to kill me. There was no happiness in this man’s face. Although, I don’t think I ever saw happiness in his face. By the way, I write about this in my book, Billion How I Became King Of The Thrill Pill Cult, which was just released. In that moment, I remember thinking to myself, “You are not leaving that spot until this man buys whatever it is that you’re selling. You are either going to die tonight or get him to sell what you’re selling. You are going to make a sale.” I didn’t move. I’m sure he said other things to me.
At that moment, two people walked up to him, two party goers. I remember them asking him and there was a negotiation that went on. He motioned to me, the bodyguards moved aside. I thought, “What’s he pointing at?” He’s pointing at the bag of pills. I handed him the bag of pills. He grabbed the bag. He grabbed my backpack, which was filled with pills and said, “Come back in two hours.” He handed it to them and had an exchange. He said, “By the way, kid, you better not be messing with me. Don’t leave the club.”
I’m having a little bit of a freakout and pretty certain that my young life was going to end there and then in that club. I came back a couple of hours later and I didn’t know what to make of it. The bodyguard motioned me to come forward. The girls moved aside. I moved forward. I’m standing there, sweat and bullets looking at this guy directly in the eyes. I can’t tell what’s going on. I do notice in the background, people are partying, happy and having a good time. I see the empty baggies everywhere. This guy probably emptied out 30 of them himself.
I’m looking at the guy going okay and he looks at me straight in the eyes, the silence for about 30 seconds. He says, “Kid, how soon can you get me more?” All the tension was released at that moment. That was it. It went from 1 drug dealer to 10 to 1,000, to 10,000. We were all over the world. I had all the buildings in Venice beach. We were renting them all. We had telephone operations, telesales operations.
I was making this stuff for $0.25 a unit. We were selling it for $20 retail. Mostly cash business, mostly direct to consumer in those days, completely legal. We got calls from Urban Outfitters, Tower Records, GNC. We were selling in any store you could possibly imagine. Larry Flynt from the Hustler Enterprise, the famed pornographer bought our product to sell to all the sex shops around the world. We were being sold in 32 countries. We were in over 30,000 doors.
What was it called? I’m trying to think about it back then.
The drug dealer looked at me at that moment too. As he was handing it to his first customer said, “What do you call this stuff?” I had a moment where I was like, “Holy crap.” I looked at him and I said, “Herbal Ecstacy,” and the name stuck. It was called Herbal Ecstacy. I remember one day, I was in my teens. We’d been in business for some time and the news broke that we had broken the billion-dollar mark. This was pre-internet, pre-Facebook, pre-mobile phones, pre-access to free data, pre-access to any of that stuff. We had broken $1 billion.
Sam Donaldson was in a limo outside of my office waiting to get me on Nightline. He drove over, the great Sam Donaldson. Montel Williams had sent me tickets to be on his show in New York. CNN wanted to have me on, Wall Street Journal has a reporter outside. We were the hottest thing. Everybody wanted to know how this long-haired teenage kid had broken $1 billion in revenue. We were on the cover of Detail’s magazine. We had two Newsweek covers, LA times, New York Times. You name it, we were there.
The London Observer did a feature piece on the cover. They called me the Willy Wonka of Generation X. I stepped into my office. I would normally sleep 2, 3 hours on those days. I would usually fall asleep on the factory floor, on the floor one my offices, or the call center, anywhere just because I was intent on making this company successful. I remember having a panic attack when the news broke because I did not know what $1 billion meant. Not theoretically or hypothetically, I literally didn’t know how much money $ 1 billion was. I barely knew what $1 million was. That was my panic in those days.
I figured out what it was. I started doing all the publicity. We did all the shows. I write about it in my book, Billion How I Became King Of The Thrill Pill Cult. It was absolutely a wild ride. I wrote about how the mob tried to take over the company at some point. The Japanese mafia, the Yakuza tried to get involved. We had government intervention in the company and it was a wild rollercoaster ride leading to an interesting several years, to say the least.
Why couldn’t somebody just copy it?
A few people tried. We had the formula patented in those days. We had trademarks, but we were first to market. You could copy my product, but you couldn’t copy me. I was the long-haired, rebellious kid doing the TV, doing the media. It’s like Coca-Cola. Can you make brown sugar water and sell it to the masses? Probably. Can you compete with them? Not really. They’ve got first to market and distribution. We had that cinched up.
What’s the best part of building a $1 billion company and the worst part of building a $1 billion company?
The best part is the $1 billion, which has fantastic. Money is great. I tell people often that the greatest injustice you can do to yourself in America is to be poor. The poor pay more for everything. The poor are penalized for being poor. The rich very rarely pay for anything that the poor pay for and are incentivized to be rich. If you believe have a choice, please try to be rich. I’ve been broke and I’ve been extremely wealthy. It is far more fun to be extremely wealthy.
A good friend of mine talks about the root of all evil, where they say money is the root of all evil. He used to like to say that, “The guy that said money is the root of all evil didn’t have any.” The guy that said, “Money can’t buy you happiness didn’t know where to shop.” It’s true. It’s a blast and super fun. You’re hearing it from somebody who’s done it and who does it.
The worst part of it was trying to figure out who likes you for you, who genuinely wants to be your friend and who wants to be around the fame and fortune. I can only imagine what somebody like Jeff Bezos, the Founder of Amazon or Elon Musk has to go through because it must be very difficult to forge long-term meaningful relationships with people. You must have a solid vetting process because, in those days where you are super happy, super successful, there’s a big buzz around you, everybody wants to be around you.
When trouble pops up, there are only a few that will stick by you. Those are your real friends. That’s the most difficult part is realizing that there are people in the world that are not interested in you, but only in self-enrichment. Having your BS detectors refined to a point where when you reach those levels of success, being able to fair it out, the people that are the fakers is absolutely essential. I, unfortunately, didn’t have that in my teens. As I got older, I’ve developed it and my BS detector has gotten a lot stronger in the years to come after Herbal Ecstacy.
What happened to Herbal Ecstacy? You’re on top of the world and then what?
The government doesn’t seem to like very much when a young Iranian kid, in his teens develops a drug that is unregulated. They don’t like the idea of not being in control. What they did, along with some big pharma companies is they lobbied against us. Laws were passed. Our ingredients were banned. It slowly fizzled out. We had a bunch of different products in those days.
From there, I went on to solve a different problem. I went on to solve the problem with smoking. I figured, “People have been smoking for hundreds of years. Smoking creates smoke char and carbon monoxide. There’s got to be a better way.” It turns out that you can heat any plant substance, tobacco, cannabis, whatever and get the active elements, what you need, the cannabinoids, the THC, the nicotine without burning it, without heating it to 1200 degrees but you had to have the system for regulating the temperature, I patented that.
We developed the first world’s first vape. Digital vaporization was invented by me in those days. I patented it. I wrote the first book on it. That is the forerunner for all the technology that you see in vapes. We invented that industry. It didn’t exist before us. I created those patents. I wrote a book. That company went public. I decided, “I want to get back into the pill business.” At this point, we were having our first kid. I thought I got to figure out a way to make my brain sharper.
I want to be limitless. I want to function optimally, even as I’m aging, because aging is BS. I want to beat it. Maybe I won’t beat it. One day, I’m going to die. It’s all our destiny. Until then, I want to die with my boots on and sword drawn and be a badass. I came up with this pill called Excelerol. We’ve got two versions. One called Excelerol, one called FOCUS+, which was a nootropic, a brain supplement. It’s still available on Amazon. It works great but, in those days, it’s very expensive to produce. We use real ingredients. It was like $120 a box of this stuff.
I was looking for distribution thinking, “How am I going to sell this?” We sold some to GNC. We sold some to the different avenues. This was in the early days where this guy named Jeff Bezos was getting somewhere with his company. You could email Jeff, Jeff@Amazon.com and he would respond. We heard through the grapevine that Jeff Bezos was opening up his platform, the bookstore, Amazon.com to third-party sellers. People like you and me to sell whatever we wanted to on those platforms.
I thought, “That’s cool. That’s timely. Let me try putting this stuff up.” It took me fifteen minutes. The whole process of opening a seller account, listing the product, the whole thing. I put the product up, Excelerol and I went to sleep. I didn’t think much. I thought maybe I’ll get a couple of orders in the next few weeks. I’ll work on this. I woke up the next day we had thousands of orders. “This is interesting. Who is this Bezos guy?” I read up on Jeff Bezos. I learned that he’s not this nerdy Silicon Valley guy that we see that we think he is.
This guy is a beast. This guy’s a leader in the industry. This guy comes from Wall Street. This guy comes from one of the biggest Wall Street firms with expertise in acquiring top talent and bringing cheap money from Wall Street, billions from Wall Street into Silicon Valley. He’s building this platform. This is no joke. This was never a bookstore. This is a key to world domination in global commerce. When I realized that, I decided I was going to devote the next several years of my life to mastering the Amazon platform. That’s what I did. I learned everything there was.
I spend most of my days impacting other people to sell on the Amazon platform. I teach a course where I train people, how to do everything from how do you find the perfect product? How do you sell it on Amazon? Why do you sell it on Amazon? How do you create a business that creates these predictable recurring revenue streams? Which is what I do and I love it.
As I listened to your story, you’re always in search of a better way. You find a better way and then you share it. You did that with the Herbal Ecstacy. You’ve done that every step along the way. Take us into your mind or do you just see a problem? Do you have a problem and you want to solve it, and then that’s what leads you to it? What got you in those different directions?
For me, sometimes that’s the case. My superpower is that I am a predictor of trends and a very accurate one particularly when it comes to consumer products. I know what’s going to be hot five years from now. I know what’s going to be hot ten years from now.
How do you do that?
I don’t know how I do it. I think it’s my obsessive nature. I am an obsessive human being. When I get interested in something, I dive deep. Back in the days, where people read books, I would be at the bookstore. I would be spending thousands of dollars on books. I would not come home any night without having a stack of books on topics that I was interested in. I still do it to this day. I order on Amazon. I will watch videos. I will read books. I will get audible. I will watch the TED Talks. I will dig deep. I will go into my new detail about a topic that I’m interested in.
I will look to where the opportunity is. My friend, Jay Samit, who wrote the book, Disrupt You! and his new book, Future-Proofing You. He is a former executive at Sony. He talks about solving the bigger problem. For me, it came naturally the solving the bigger problem because I start with curiosity. I’m not looking for a why. I’m not looking for a reason to do what I’m doing. I’m following what my fascination is. I follow that fascination and see where it takes me. This brings me to what we teach at Amazon Mastery. My FBA seller course, which is FBASellerCourse.com for anyone who’s interested.
I’ve got a free one-hour course that I’m happy to share with any of your audience. What we teach is to find the distribution first, find what the market is hungry for. Find the competitors, find their vulnerabilities, then it’s easy for you to put a product out on the market. It’s low hanging fruit. That’s how you win. If you come out with a product and then you’re like, “How am I going to sell this thing?” That’s the long road.
You’ve got to educate people. Education is the kiss of death when it comes to product launches because you’ve got this thing. You’ve got a mousetrap. It’s better than every other mousetrap out there. I don’t know that as your consumer. You have to spend all your money educating me. What happens while you’re spending money educating me?
Somebody else comes along.
The competitors are selling and selling. People’s attention span is short in the days of TikTok, Instagram and the internet. What most entrepreneurs don’t understand, probably the single most important thing, comes from us being taught. This whole generation is being taught that you matter, that everybody cares about what you’re interested in. Nobody cares about you. People care about one thing. I, they care about themselves. That’s it?
Nobody cares about you, your story, your brands. All that stuff is BS. All they care about is what you’re going to do for them. When you go on Amazon and you buy a product, that person, if it’s one of my students will be an expert at crafting that story in a way whereby the time you get to that listing, you’re already clicking buy it now. The way that product is presented has pre-suaded you to believe that it’s your decision to buy it.
We are decision architects. That’s what we do. The old models of selling are dead. The old models of disruption selling and knocking on people’s doors and shoving stuff down their throats are dead. We’re in the Amazon era where we believe as Robert Cialdini in his book, Pre-Suasion talks about pre-suading people and becoming decision architects.
Give us an example of a product that you did this with so that we can see it in action. Somebody took a product and took it to Amazon after they found their market and it took off.
Excelerol would be a good example of that. FOCUS+ is one of the supplements that we talked about. Another example might be matcha tea. We’re one of the largest producers of matcha tea in the country. We make a specific matcha tea called Matcha DNA. Matcha is a green tea. It’s high in antioxidants. It’s got all these benefits. You can just Google it and learn about all these doctors and celebrities. The Kardashians are drinking it. Gwyneth Paltrow is drinking it. We started off by I’m a big matcha drinker. I thought, “I’d like to buy some matcha. Can I get some on Amazon?”
I looked on Amazon and there wasn’t any. There was a couple of brands that were expensive and they were just the big bulk market ones from Japan. I thought, “Fukushima just happened. I don’t want to buy anything from Japan. There’s radiation out there, allegedly.” I’m going to go with Chinese tea. The Chinese are good at teas. That’s the one thing I am going to buy from China.
I went out there and I found a supplier that produces it for us. We started selling matcha tea on Amazon. Went gangbusters. We sold tons of it. I did my research. We researched that there’s a huge market of people looking to buy matcha tea. There was no supply on Amazon. Now there are a million sellers selling it. We’re still the leader, but there are $ 1 million sellers selling macho.
I thought, “That’s a market that we can feed.” We went out there and we started introducing matcha. This is another thing that I teach my students is that you want to capture all areas of the market. We’ve got multiple brands that we sell in multiple categories. We sell the most expensive one. We sell the cheapest one. We sell the mid-level one. We knock ourselves off.
We sell knockoffs of our own product. We do all kinds of things to make sure that we dominate in that field. That’s what you have to do. If you want to win, you have to find a niche. You have to exploit the weaknesses of your competitors. You have to come in and dominate that niche and maintain, and hold on to that dominance.
When you talk about dominating the niche, how do you do that? What I think I’m hearing you say is, you found something that you were passionate about, went on Amazon and researched it and found that nobody’s dominating this market. “We’re going to go dominate it.” You created a better product, took that product to the market. You found ways to keep competing with yourself to be both sides of the coin almost, to push your brand up. Is that what you did?
That amongst other things. I remember I had at this point been selling on Amazon for a little while and there are certain hacks, and tips and tricks that we teach on how you get your product to rank, how you get your product reviewed within their terms of service. How you can successfully get that product visible and selling on the Amazon platform, that’s what we did.
It’s very interesting because Amazon is a very effective place to sell products. The one thing that I would say to you that maybe I would push back a little bit on in your description is the passionate part. I was interested in the tea. I was a fan of the tea. Maybe you could argue that I was passionate about it or maybe not. I’m thinking, “I’m passionate about hanging out with my family and my kids.” I’m passionate about all kinds of stuff that doesn’t make me money. It’s one of the most common myths that people tell you.
Scott Adams talks about it in his book, How To Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big. Scott Adams is the writer of Dilbert, which is probably one of the most famous comic books in the world. Passion is something that they pitch people because they don’t want to tell them that they’re a little bit smarter than that. When they ask these big entrepreneurs, they say, “What’s your secret?” I go, “It was just passion.”
They don’t want to tell you that, “You know what? I’m an aggressive cutthroat. I cut three guys below me and I’m just a little bit smarter than you. I got access to a trust fund. You’re never going to make the billions that I make.” No one’s going to tell you that. It doesn’t look good for Mark Zuckerberg to tell you those things or Bill Gates to tell you those things. Instead, what they’re going to tell you is, “You just got to have a lot of passion and drive in life.” I know people all the time that have become billionaires, multi-millionaires from products that they do not give a care about.
The passion part of the component, it’s nice to have. I’m passionate about a nice steak meal, a nice rare fillet mignon grass-fed steak. It’s not going to make any money. I’m passionate about tea. I’m passionate about doing this stuff. I’m passionate about talking with you on this show. This is fun. This is a great show. I’m excited to be here. You have to separate that from the activities that make you money. Making money as a system, it’s a formula. It has very little to do with what you are passionate about. If you’re interested in something, your interest, your fascination in something opens up a pathway, a journey to things that could make you money, but it’s not a precursor for success or wealth.
You’ve separated passion out from your business because you can be passionate about so many different things, but interest is definitely necessary or is it interest necessary?
Not really. I know lots of people who make money doing things that they have very little interest in. I know a guy who runs a very high-end fashion brand of women’s clothing. He doesn’t wear that. Every time I see him, I’m like, “Where’d you get your clothes?” He’s like, “H&M, Ross.” I’m like, “You run this like multi-million-dollar clothing company.” He’s like, “I don’t like that. I like to wear sweats.” He’s like, “I get good sweats at Ross and they’re 50% off.”
What do you see then as the key ingredient to making money?
I don’t think there’s any key ingredient. I don’t think there’s anyone thing. You got to have grit. You got to have resilience. The one thing I would say that’s key is you got to be able to go out there and take some punches. You got to be able to be knocked down. The people I see coming through my Amazon FBA Seller course, the people that come through my Amazon Mastery course, the ones that come in with the attitude of, “I’m going to throw my chips on the table. I’m going to see where that little roulette ball lands and maybe it’ll land on one of my numbers.” Those are the ones that fail.
The ones that come in and are like, “You see that nail, I’m going to drive that thing through that piece of wood.” Maybe I’ll use a hammer, if that doesn’t work, I’ll use a sledgehammer. If that doesn’t work, I’m going to shoot that nail. I’m going to hit it with a rock. I’m going to drill through it and then put it in. It doesn’t matter. That nail is going in. If you go to business with that attitude, you are going to succeed. You are not there to try. There is no participation trophy in business. There are people out there who will eat your lunch.
One of my favorite quotes is that “While you are sleeping, your enemies are planning your demise.” I write that quote in my book, which is one of my absolute favorite ones. It keeps you on your toes. You got to always be on your toes. The world is predatory. There’s no sleeping in the Savannah. You’ve got to be always on your toes, but more so than that, there’s no hack to hard work. There’s no hack to getting out there and doing the work.
There are all kinds of people on social media, preaching things. They want to sell you a course. They don’t want you to get rich. Even a lot of the people out there who sell their Amazon courses, mine, by the way, which is free and I will give it to you if you reach out to me. They don’t tell you what they’re doing to make money. They tell you what they want to tell you for you to think you’re going to make money, but them make money off you by selling you whatever it is they’re selling.
It’s like the stock market guys. I was a highly leveraged commodities trader. I did extremely well. I traded hundreds of millions of dollars in commodities, gold, oil, pork bellies, all that stuff, coffee futures for years. I tried all the different courses. I realized at a certain point that the guy selling the courses are making more money, selling the courses than they are in the markets. I was making more money than them in the markets. It’s like that. There is no hack to hard work. You got to get out there. You got to put in the sleepless nights. I paid my dues. I’ve slept on the factory floor.
I’ve gone from millions to a billion to broke to millions again. I’m continually on that path of learning of self-discovery of figuring out what I need to do to take myself to the next level. I have no illusions to think that I don’t have to wake up tomorrow and work hard at something. The fact is I’ve put myself in a place where I can relax and do the stuff that I love to do. It’s only because I spent all those years doing all that stuff that I didn’t want to do.
I love what you’re saying because you’re not sugarcoating it. Here’s what I have been thinking about as I’ve been listening to you. You said this at least twice. You said, “I burned the ships.” How critical was that to you having the motivation, the grit and the desire to get up every day and go do it when things didn’t look good?
As my friend says, “You got to go all in.” I don’t believe in half-assing things. I love watching these historical shows where you see these historical battles. You see these guys. These were guys who most people don’t know. The Vikings controlled England for nearly a thousand years, maybe longer. They ruled England. England was ruled by Vikings for 1,000 or more years. You look at that and you’re like, “What did they do?” This is before even naval navigation. These guys went on these wooden boats that they carved out from trees, left everything behind. They went out. Their swords were drawn for glory. That was it.
They burned all their ships. They were there to win. They would colonize places where they landed. That’s what you got to do. I think people have to be intelligent about the decisions that they make. If you’ve got a family, if you’ve got to feed the kids or whatever, you can’t leave everything and go off on some crazy venture. You need to have stability but it’s that stability that’s going to allow you to have the bandwidth to succeed.
We talk about foundational thinking in my course. I tell people, you got to have four pillars, a four-legged table much more secure. Three-legged table, not so good. Two-legged table, not good at all. One-legged table, you’re a tripod. The first leg should be a career, a job, a trust fund, whatever it is money where you don’t have to worry about eating. You don’t have to worry about your family being taken care of. You don’t have to worry about if you want to take the wife out for a nice dinner, that it’s going to give you problems or the girlfriend or the husband or whatever.
The second pillar, you should have some money and cashflow-positive real estate. I tell people this all the time, “You got to buy at the right time when the market conditions are right. You got to find great deals, but you can do this with little or no money. I’ve bought houses on credit cards. I bought houses on eBay. There are all kinds of things you can do, but leaning towards cashflow positive real estate.” If you can’t get into it for whatever your restrictions are, you can at least start learning about it.
The third one is compounded interest. Why is Warren Buffett one of the wealthiest men in the world? Berkshire Hathaway is one of the most successful funds out there. It’s because of compounded interest. He’s been investing since he was a kid. If you leave money in and you compound interest over time, that’s going to add up to something. The fourth pillar, the fourth foundation, is an e-commerce business. I recommend Amazon. Amazon’s what I do. It’s one of the best, but it’s not the only one. We teach people how to sell on Etsy, Walmart, eBay, Poshmark, all these different marketplaces that are popping up. If you have these four pillars, these four foundations, nothing could ever shake your world.
You wake up in the morning, “The real estate market tanked. No problem, you’re cashflow anyway. It’s okay. It’ll get back up. We wait for a cycle.” “The boss fired me. No problem. You got your compounding interest money. You got your real estate.” “All those stuff failed. You got your e-commerce business,” and vice versa.
If you have those foundations, you might be unsettled for a little bit in life, but you’ll never be knocked out. If you look at these guys, Elon Musk, Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, look at what they do best, it’s diversification. It’s building those foundations. Those guys have hundreds of pillars. Do you think if Amazon went down tomorrow that Jeff Bezos would be crying? He’s got so much money. He’s got so many things he’s going. These guys are good. There is no one thing that’s going to shake their world. That’s what you have to do. You’ve got to build your life in a way where you can never have a day that’s that bad.
What is the chain that keeps you going? You’ve already done this multiple times. You’ve got the money. You’ve got the stuff. You’ve got the family. What’s keeping you motivated? I can feel your energy. I can feel you’re fired up. Ready to go fight, create something and go do something. What is it that’s keeping you going?
That’s a good question. I spend most of my time traveling with my family. We go to all great places. I’m a family man. We collect cars. I collect exotic cars, Porsches. Me and my son, my seven-year-old like to go out into the garage and fix these cars. We don’t know what we’re doing, but it’s fun to look under the hood and take a look at that. Spending time with my family is what fires me up. It’s what excites me. Outside of that, at work, I get excited about two things. One is when somebody buys a product that I’ve built, designed or developed.
The second is when somebody calls me up and says, “Shaahin, I made an extra 60,000 this month on Amazon. Thanks to you. I can quit my job. I can walk in tomorrow and tell my boss to beat it.” That excites me, when I can inspire somebody to stop selling their hours and let their money work for them intelligently. I’ve got students that have 3, 4 Vas, virtual assistants in Nicaragua, Venezuela, in South and Central America, in South Asia, Southeast Asia, working for them, running their business and they’re on the beach. They’re traveling. Those VAs are running that business. While they’re sleeping, they’re making money.
If I can empower people to have that freedom, I always say, “Freedom is the ultimate luxury. The new luxury is time.” If you have all that money and you can’t take a break, have a nice lunch with your significant other, take your kid to the park, do whatever you want, when you want with who you want, you’re not really wealthy. That’s why the cost of a private jet somewhere is exponentially more than a first-class ticket on any airline because it offers you the ultimate freedom.
In my world, what I would say is your energy comes from when you find something better and then you share it. People love it because they appreciate that you shared that better way with them and it’s brought them results. It worked. It was better. I feel the same way when I can share something that’s better and people love it. Even a better restaurant, even a better anything. “Have you been to this place?” They love it. It brings me a lot of joy. I can see you doing that same thing on a bigger scale. The last question for you. What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve ever given or the best piece of advice that you’ve ever gotten?
As far as advice goes, the best advice I’ve ever gotten is topical and it’s time-sensitive. The advice that I got as a young person might not apply now. With that said, in very general terms, I could say, don’t work in a vacuum. Build a mastermind or join a mastermind. Like with my Amazon Mastery course, we have a mastermind where people sign up with us. They’re immediately with a hundred other people that are selling on Amazon. Find a mentor. Getting somebody who is where you want to be and incentivizing them to conspire for your success could be the ultimate hack to getting there a lot faster.
If people are reading and they want to get in touch with you, how is the best way for them to do that?
You can email me directly. We have the one-hour Amazon Mastery course. I’ll offer that to all your audience for free. It’s normally $200. We’ll give it to them for free. Just use the code WHY and email me at DarkZess@Gmail.com. That’s my direct Gmail address. I get emails to zero every day. I will answer all emails directly. You can also check us out at www.FBASellerCourse.com or ShaahinCheyene.com. My book Billion How I Became King Of The Thrill Pill Cult just dropped. You can get that on Amazon and check that out. We also do a show. We’ve got a podcast called Hack and Grow Rich.
If you want to check out Hack and Grow Rich, make sure to like, and subscribe to us, dislike us, whatever you want to do. Give us some love, give us some attention. You can get us on Stitcher, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, wherever podcasts are heard. Gary, if someone’s reading this on our channel, how can they get ahold of you and subscribe to the content you’re producing?
Have them come to WHYInstitute.com. The best thing for them to do would be to go Discover Their Why. They can use the code Podcast50 and Discover Their Why for half price. It’s only $47. You’ll see all that you need there. You can connect with me there as well.
Thanks for having me on.
Thanks for being here. I love the path that you’ve been on, the ups, the downs, the stories, the realness to it. You’re not trying to sell something that requires no work because that doesn’t exist. If you were to have told me, “I’ll do everything for you. It’s not going to be any work for you. Give me your $1,000, and you’ll be rich.” Not a real story. You’re like, “You’re going to have to go work your butt off. You’re going to have to put the hours in. There’s no substitute for burning the ships and jumping in with both feet, going all in and getting it done.”Thank you so much for being here. I appreciate it. I’ll look forward to reading your book.
It has been fun. Thank you so much.
It’s time for our Guess Their Why segment. I want to think about Walt Disney. What do you think Walt Disney’s why is? He imagined a place where people were happy. He imagined Disneyland, Disney World and he built it when people told him he shouldn’t. He wanted to contribute to the youth. He wanted to contribute to people’s imagination. He wanted them to have a great experience and to have a great time. I believe that Walt Disney’s why is to contribute. To contribute to a greater cause, add value and have an impact on people’s lives.
When I think about him, he was able to surround himself with other people that he brought with him. His brother, Roy, who was the how guy, but lifted them up. He lifted up the people around them to be creative, to be fun and to be funny. That’s what somebody with the why of contribute would be. What do you think Walt Disney’s why is?
If you love this episode, if you love this show, make sure to go to the platform that you’re reading on and rate us, give us a review because it’ll help us to bring the why to the rest of the world, so that we can impact and help one billion people discover, make decisions and live based on their why. Thank you for reading, and we will see you next week.
Born in Iran Tehran in 1975, Shaahin Cheyene is an award-winning writer, filmmaker and a prosperous businessman who is committed to share his enthusiasm to accelerate intelligence through his most recent company and products. Cheyene is the CEO and Chairman of brain nutrition start-up Accelerated Intelligence.
As a teenager in the 1990’s, Cheyene jump initiated his career by inciting and leading the “Smart Drug Movement” with his invention of Herbal Ecstacy, a refreshing, herbal supplement made to energize the body. He realized early in his career about guerilla branding and he still makes use of it to sell his products today. Shaahin Cheyene has developed over 200 award-winning products, selling millions of units globally. After pioneering the breakthrough components for Herbal Ecstacy, he extended his company’s offerings with Ecstacy Cigarettes, an herbal substitute for tobacco that many have put to use to quit smoking. It went on to become the most effective herbal cigarette on the earth.
In the early 2000’s, Cheyene’s career naturally progressed and matured. He started to work with several major pharmaceutical organizations to broadcast the technologies and great things about herbal medicines to the mainstream. In this process, Cheyene was accountable for the proliferation of several plant medicines now applied to popular naturopathic health regimens.
In 2000, Cheyene invented, branded and developed a revolutionary new medicine delivery system called the Vapir Vaporizer. His creation quickly spearheaded the burgeoning vaporization industry. He also published the definitive book on the science of Vaporization, Vapor: The Art and Science of Inhaling Pure Plant Essences. Shaahin Cheyene credits the production of his top-selling health supplement Excelerol to his career-long love of naturopathic herbal solutions. He remains true to his objectives to nurture and assist in improving the health of everyone with herbal alternatives to harsh chemicals.
Better Ways are an interesting one. They can be a lot of fun, and they can also be a great challenge. Like any WHY, there are plenty of the good with the bad, but understanding them is what is most important for a lasting relationship. They are usually very success driven and have a lot of big plans for their lives – the question is if they can manage to put their significant other first in those plans or not. Because they are often so motivated by success and bettering themselves, relationships and romance can take a back seat at times. However, in the moments when they do show such care and love, it is important to nurture those moments and really enjoy them.
Something I’ve seen is that Better Ways are often hard to tie down at first – it may of caused you a lot of convincing to finally get your significant other to settle down. This can come from the possibility that they are always looking for the next best thing and being in search of that, can cause a lot of indecision.
What to do, what to do…
Speaking of indecision, when dating a better way you may notice they struggle to make plans at times. What to do for a special event, what to give as a gift, what to do for an upcoming celebration, planning a vacation or trip, even what to pick for dinner can often be a difficult task if they don’t already know the best thing on the menu. The idea that they may land on a decision and there could be a better option out there can drive their mind wild.
Adventure is Out there!
There are many positives to dating someone with the WHY of better way, there is never a dull moment. They are often full of energy and live life with a lot of curiosity. That curiosity means they are always looking for the next big adventure, the next best restaurant, the next best thing to do. Often times, idle time is not an option. Which if you are also always down to try new things and rarely sit still, this can be a lot of fun for you too!
Another positive of dating a Better Way, is that you will get a lot of free advice! Maybe you didn’t ask for it, but they are only trying to help you come to the best decision. When they are offering up an alternative that they believe is better, they are doing it to help you. This is valuable to know about who you are in a relationship with because not only will you see what they’re doing when they offer advice but you’ll understand it is their way of sharing themselves with you, a little piece of their knowledge.
Dr. Scot Gray knows that there is always a better way. Ever since he opened his own chiropractic practice, he has always worked towards finding ways to impact the lives of others, to make their lives better. Dr. Gray focuses on training people smarter than him so they can deliver services that impact others.
Join Dr. Gray as he is interviewed by our host, Dr. Gary Sanchez. They talk about how Dr. Gray got his start in the practice and how he learned to take risks and let go of the reins of his business so he can do what he loves: helping others.
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Implementing A Better Way: Working To Improve And Change Lives With Dr. Scot Gray
Welcome to Beyond your Why. We go beyond just talking about your why and helping you discover and then live your why. Every week we talk about one of the nine whys, and then we bring on somebody with that why so you can see how their why has played out in their life. We’re going to be talking about the why of a better way.
If this is your why, then you are the ultimate innovator and you are constantly seeking better ways to do everything. You find yourself wanting to improve virtually anything by finding a way to make it better. You also desire to share your improvement with the world. You constantly ask yourself questions like, “What if we tried this differently? What if we did this another way? How can we make this better?” You contribute to the world with better processes and systems while operating under the motto, “I’m often pleased, but never satisfied.” You’re excellent at associating, which means taking things from one area or business and applying them to another always with the ultimate goal of improving something.
I’ve got a great guest for you. His name is Dr. Scot Gray. He is the father of two wonderful girls and husband to his beautiful bride, Jen. Dr. Scot is a serial entrepreneur and author. He has been featured on ABC, NBC, Lifetime Network, and other television shows. He built and sold a successful chiropractic practice, the Ohio Neck and Back Pain Relief centers in Marion, Ohio. Dr. Gray owns several medical offices in Ohio and Florida, a physician referral network called Konnect Relief, and has helped many doctors. Dr. Scot focuses on building teams of people smarter than him to run and deliver services in these businesses in order to change the millions of lives of patients and doctors. Dr. Scot, welcome to the show.
Thanks, Gary. Great to be on here with you. Good to see you.
This is going to be a lot of fun because there’s a lot more to you than that short bio. You and I are in a mastermind group together. I’ve gotten to know you there, but I’m anxious for the rest of our audience to get to know you. Take us back to where were you born and where’d you grow up? How the heck did you get into chiropractic?
I’m originally from Columbus, Ohio. Born and raised right in the middle of the state there. I’m a Buckeye fan, just like most folks there in Columbus. Honestly, the chiropractic thing was interesting. I knew from a young age that I always wanted to help people. I wanted to get into some type of medicine or be a doctor in some way. I didn’t know anything about chiropractic for years.
In high school, I started talking with one of my family friends. One of the friends that my parents went to high school with was a chiropractor and I started talking to him. I got in a car accident, of all things. I was going to school one morning, and I was on the highway, and I got rear-ended at about 55 miles an hour. I was sitting at a dead stop, so it basically destroyed my neck and my back.
Where did I go? My mom told me to go to a chiropractor. I literally had never been before. Dr. Glenn Ives over there in Dublin, Ohio was another big influence on me saying, “Scot, the way a chiropractor does things is a little bit different. We’re looking at the cause. We don’t like to cover things up with medicine or ‘That thing is fine.’ We look at the person holistically. Everything that’s going on, and look at how we can help that person improve.” I just love that model better. That spoke to me and connected with me. I’m a big believer of the power that made the bodies, the power that heals the body. When I started learning about it, it just connected and off to the races I went. That’s how I got into chiropractic.
Chiropractic school and building your chiropractic practice was not an easy thing for you. Is that right? It wasn’t like, “Everything was paid for. Everything was simple. You just fell right into a beautiful practice, and it was all roses from there.” Your story was a little different.
It was a little rockier than that. I was that typical kid coming out of school with a lot of loans, a lot of debt, and nothing to my name. My parents didn’t have money to open a practice or even help us through school and that type of thing. I had to how to figure out how to do it on my own. I went through school with my brother. My brother is also a chiropractor. We were together for years, literally every single day. Luckily, we get along pretty good, so that worked out well.
What happened was, after chiropractic school, I went to a program where you would call it an apprenticeship, a preceptorship, where I worked with another doctor. He showed me the ropes of how to run a business and how to see patients and all that stuff that you don’t learn in school. In school, you get all the clinical stuff, how to diagnose, how to treat, how to do all that, but running the business, how to get your name out there, and share what you do with the world, you don’t learn any of that.
I went with this group. What he decided to do is, he said, “Scot, we’ll do this program. When you’re ready to go, we will find a spot and I’ll help pay for your way to open your practice.” I go through all this. We go through the program. I’m getting ready to get my own place. I literally have a contract in hand in the new place. We’re going to sign on this thing and we’re going to open this practice.
He’s going to help me, and then I would pay him back over time. What happened though, was his business went bankrupt, and all their investors pulled out. Everything disappeared overnight. It went from, “I had a weekly paycheck. I was going to open a practice. Scot, there’s no money. You literally have no income. You got to figure out how to do it from here.”
My brother and I went through school together. We had decided, “We’ll open our practice. It is separate. Let’s not mix business and family.” When this happened, he was also in that program. He was in the same boat as myself. We decided, “Let’s figure out how to do this together.” It’s the only way. We both have a lot of debt. We didn’t want to work for somebody. We knew we wanted to have our place. We’re bound and determined to figure this thing out.
February of 2004 was when we were dropped from this program. We went from bank to bank. I was 24 at the time. My brother was 26, 27. A couple of twenty-year-old kids going in and asking for a bunch of money with a ton of debt. Most banks just laughed us out of the establishment, but we kept going. We’re trying to find out how to do it. It’s crazy. We did everything from. I would watch his kids while they would go and work nights just so we could pay the bills.
We lived together. It was my brother, his wife, two girls, two dogs, and myself in a two-bedroom apartment. That’s how we started. We did that for probably at least a year where I would watch the girls at night and on the weekends, they would go to work. We would do other things just to make money on the side so that we could get this thing going and profitable. What happened was, we ended up finding a chiropractor that wanted to move and start a practice and do something somewhere else.
We’re able to come in and secure a loan with a company from a small local bank for $50,000, enough to get us started to pay for payroll for the first few months. That was in June of 2004 that we got that started. From February through June, we were scared. We had no income again. We’re doing side jobs, and then, even after we started the practice, we still did those side jobs because the practice did not pay us enough to get the thing going. It was a struggle. We had our ups and downs.
By 2008, my brother decided to go off and do something else. He wanted to do a nerve conduction test, EMG, NCV, these different tests that were more neurology-related things. He went and got more education and went to do that. He still does some of that stuff to this day. I ended up buying him out of the practice and took it from there and went a different direction.
For the people that can’t see you, and even those who can, how tall is your brother?
Seth is a 6’4”. You’re 6’6”. A wife, two little girls, and two dogs?
It was crazy. It was a wild place. You got to do what you got to do. We wanted to make it work. Rather than get a comfy job where we knew we could pay the bills, we wanted to take that risk to be able to have a bigger ceiling, an opportunity to help people and create change.
You now own this practice by yourself. What was it like when you bought it? How long did you own it? What happened? Take us on that journey with you.
It was an interesting time when I bought the practice in May of 2008 because I was just getting over an injury. I had a bad cough for several months and I pulled a rib away from my sternum. I couldn’t adjust for about 8 or 9 months. What happened is, the patient visits started going down. The business was suffering. I ended up buying it from my brother, and we’re seeing about 110 patients a week. I went nuts. I started to realize like, “I got to get out there, and I got to meet people. I got to go out and share what we’re doing.”
I was totally focused on the practice, focused with my team on growing this thing. We tripled the size of the practice within about twelve weeks after I bought the practice. A lot of that, when it’s painful, and you’re scared and worried, you go out and you do everything you possibly can. That’s what I was doing. We did that and created a successful practice, and then I started hiring associate doctors to work with me so I could grow it even more and start focusing on running the practice the way that it should be.
Running a practice takes a lot of time in and of itself, on top of the time you’re spending with patients. That allowed me to focus more on that. Eventually, we got two associates in there. I was out of practice. They were doing all the adjusting and I was just working on growing it and doing everything we could to help more people.
How long did that take you to go from buying it to then just running it?
May 2008 is when I bought it. I had this epiphany. I’ve got a mentor by a guy named Vinnie Fisher. He said something to me in October of 2015. This is seven years later. He said, “Scot, you’re never going to grow your business and affect the number of people you want to affect if you keep adjusting patients.” I realized that if I want to help more people, I have to stop seeing patients.
It was this weird idea that didn’t make any sense to me at first, and then I’m like, “That’s it.” I went back from that meeting that I had with Vinnie, and I told my staff that I’m done seeing patients. I’m going to work on growing the practice and helping more people. It took me a little bit of time, a couple of months. It was December 17th of 2015 that was the last time I saw a patient in the chiropractic office. It took me 7.5 years to get there. It worked out. My associate was with me for six years already.
I had a great guy working with me. He still runs the Ohio offices that we have. He’s just an awesome guy, that I love to be a business partner with, and does a great job. I worked hard to train him and get him to where he could just run it on his own. The beautiful thing that that did is I was able to move on to the next phase of my life and sell the practice. That was in 2017. This was about 1.5 years later. One of the things that the bank loved about it is that I had not seen a patient for 1.5 years. Nothing was going to change.
Gary, you know that with the mastermind that we’re in, one of the things that they always talk about is like you need to make yourself redundant in your business so that you’re not needed. That was one of the biggest things that helped me there to be able to do that and move that along to him. Also, it’s better for the practice because nothing changes and it’s just smooth sailing. It was that seven years. It’s funny. I have thought about it, but I never thought I would get there. I didn’t know how I would get there.
It was just certain things like that with Vinnie speaking that to me, and then it was our mentor, Randy. I had a bad day, a stressful day at the office. He asked me, “Scot, are you happy right now? Do you want to keep the office or should you move on to what you want to do?” That was that word to me of, “I need to focus on what I love, what I want to do to be able to help more people.” It’s created an amazing amount of freedom in my life.
I went through this same thing. If I’m a doctor, or a lawyer or a chiropractor reading this and I want to do the same thing, how did you do it? I understand the concept. I understand what you’re saying, but what did you do to go from being the producer to being the promoter? From being the one who does everything to one that builds everything? How did you change that?
I started to phase myself out. The first thing you have to do is get good people and train them. Spend time with them. I would train my team at least an hour a week. Different little things every single day. I went through so much stuff with Dr. Dave, who took over my practice. We would read books with them. We would go through different mindset things. We would talk about case studies with patients. We spent a lot of time. I put a lot of time into my team and the training into how you do something. You’re always training on, “How could you do this better than me?” because that’s what you always want to find.
I interviewed one of the founders of Pixar. That’s what they said the secret to their success was. It was just hiring the smartest people that were smarter than them even when it was scary that they might take their job or be better. That was the key. Find people that are better, who can do things better than you, and train them up, and you’ll see them surpass you.
One of the things with chiropractic, especially, maybe the same in dentistry, I don’t know, is that when someone sees you, maybe you’re the first person to treat them, adjust them, or meet them, they get used to you. What I wanted to do as fast as possible is have that first encounter to be with Dr. Dave and not me, so that they like being with Dr. Dave and not with me. That was one of the biggest shifts.
When I was able to get to where he would see all the new patients and start with everyone, I’m the odd guy out coming in if he’s out of town or whatever. It used to be, “All I want to see is Dr. Scot.” Now, it’s “I want to see Dr. Dave.” I would deal with that, but that was one of the biggest things. It’s the expectations, too that you have. I would get this question a lot. They would say, “Scot, how do you get your doctors who work for you to do so much?” It blew my mind that I don’t understand how they, “You don’t have them do a lot. You’ve hired them, you should be training them and giving them the most experience you can.”
A lot of docs will do this. They’ll say, “You’re with me for 2 or 3 years in this contract. You better not go out, try to start a practice, and take my patients.” They tried to put the handcuffs on them. I did the complete opposite. I said, “I’m going to teach you how to have a great practice. I’m going to teach you everything you need to know. If you want to go open up a practice somewhere and have your practice, awesome. Go do it.”
My thought process was if he wants to leave, he’s going to leave. Why would I want to keep somebody there that doesn’t want to be there? That’s a toxic thing. I just said, “If you want to take this out and do it on your own, go ahead and do it.” The biggest thing was training, letting them have the freedom to want to learn, to want to do good, almost planning to have their own practice because if they don’t plan for that, they’re not going to try to achieve it.
I said, “If you want to achieve it, you’re going to have to work your butt off just like any of us who own a practice.” Having then the faith to hand that person off to them and trust that they’re going to do a great job with them because that’s the hardest thing. Vinnie told me, “One of the things you have to be okay with is that sometimes you have to be okay with the 70% version of yourself because no one’s going to treat your business the same way you do. It’s always going to be your baby. You’re going to have to be okay with maybe they don’t do quite as good.” What I found is that if you train the right people in there, a lot of times, they can do better.
It seems like most of us bypass that training part. Both of them, the training and the freedom.
Everyone says they’re too busy to train them, but It’s like the promise, you’ll always be busy if you don’t train them. That’s the reality.
How was that on your ego because you went from, “The guy. Everybody wants to see you. Now they want to see Dr. Dave?” How did you handle that, “I went to school. This is my place. This is my thing?” Now, it’s more, “I want to see Dr. Dave.” Was that tough on you or was that just an easy transition?
It was an easy transition. I don’t have an, “I need to be the guy.” Honestly, it’s funny, because I promoted the practice that way. I did a lot of videos. You could YouTube me and see that I’ve done a lot of videos. I’ve done a lot of TV stuff. I’ve written books, and it was always about, “Dr. Scot comes to,” and honestly, to get out of the limelight was awesome to me. I’m more of an introvert. I forgot if it’s Randy who says the situational extrovert. I’m that situational extrovert where, what I need to be, I can be extroverted.
Most times, if you were to leave me to my own devices, I’ll just sit over in the corner and be quiet, and I’ll be completely happy and content. In our group, I’m not the most talkative guy. I’m way more of an introvert than most people. The ego thing was nothing. I’m always focused on results. I want to have the best practice. I want to have the best team. I will have the best results. Whatever that looks like, that’s what I want to do. I don’t think that I have to be in the center of that for that to happen.
I feel like my superpower is more of having the vision of where we can go, and creating a better way. That’s what I’m always thinking of like, “How can we simplify this? How can we make this better? How can it be a better experience for the patient? How can it be a better outcome for the patient?” I’m always trying to think of that stuff.
When I’ve got all the providers treating the patients, I can be back doing what I’m best at, what I love, and have a fun time, too. I was going through pain management literature just to see if there’s something that we could add or tweak that would be beneficial to our patients. How can we make it simpler? How can we make it better and more effective?
I’m thinking, “We’re working on the system that we have to connect people with doctors across the country to get pain relief and other relief that they need.” I’m that guy. I’m totally happy being behind the scenes doing that stuff. I just like to see the results that patients get and the jobs we can provide all that stuff. That’s the more fulfilling part for me.
You had one practice. You were running that instead of being the doctor in it, and then how did you grow from there? Take us on your journey through that to where you are now.
This was not planned at all. What happened was, I sold my chiropractic practice in 2017. I had another practice that was doing regenerative medicine in Ohio. I was just behind-the-scenes vision, had a great operating team, great medical doctor and nurse practitioners. They’re running the whole show. I didn’t even have to show up. I was just doing the things in the background that I needed to do so that we had great company and things are moving along well.
Scot, for those that don’t know, what is regenerative medicine?
Regenerative medicine got big when people started talking about stem cell therapy. With the way the FDA is changing things, we don’t do stem cell therapy in the US anymore. There are great people that we can connect you with within other countries like Mexico that do stem cell therapy. This is using stem cells from, sometimes, your own body. Sometimes they use them from an umbilical cord. A mother will donate the umbilical cord.
Basically, there are two things they’re going to do with it. Either they can donate it or it’s going to go in the trash. What’s going to happen is they can donate it and obviously, goes through all kinds of testing and sterility to make sure it’s clean, good and usable. After all that, they can take those stem cells, those Day 0 cells, that are just amazing.
What they can do for the body is they can release all these cytokines and growth factors and things that help regenerate tissue in the body. There’s this amazing regenerative function in the body, and people see amazing results. When we first started doing it, stem cells in the US were becoming a bigger thing. We’re part of that movement. What that changes now, we can use tissue allografts to where we can help people. We can use tissue that has stem cells in it, but we’re not doing stem cell therapy in the US anymore.
Our offices are based more on insurance-based things like hyaluronic acid, PT, and different things like that. There’s still is a regenerative medicine aspect that we can do but it’s not the old stem cell therapy that we love so much. We still send people down to folks in Mexico that have great programs. Regenerative medicine has just been great.
I’m skipping around here a little bit because I got to be careful. I don’t want to make claims and things and act like it does more than what it does. We want to be careful how we talk about it. You can look up studies from all around the world and what it does, and how it helps people. In other countries, they’re treating things like rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s, lupus. They treat all kinds of crazy stuff down there because they can do things differently than we do in the US. Here, we focus on helping people with joint pain, back pain, knee pain, those types of things. Regenerative medicine is an amazing thing. I wish we could do more of it in the US, but things have changed.
I know you’re dancing around it. I don’t know if I can ask you this question or not. Why has it changed so much? I know a few years back, it was okay to do “stem cell therapy” and suddenly, it’s not okay to say that you do stem cell therapy. Why the change? Is that something you can talk about?
I feel like a lot of it is abuse by doctors that go out there and said, “This thing was a silver magic bullet that was going to heal everything in your body.” There are crazy people out there, doing crazy stuff with it, saying stupid things, so the FDA has to come in and regulate it and say, “We got to talk about what we can and can’t say here.”
Even when people say stem cell therapy, there’s way more to this than just stem cells. They’re saying, like, “You are talking about it wrong. You’re making claims that aren’t true. We don’t have double-blind studies.” The FDA basically gave us a window and said, “We can test this out and see how it works, but at the end of that, we’re going to have to come in and set up regulations around this as to how we can use it, what’s being said, and what products you can use.”
They came out on May 31st of 2021 and changed things up. They said, “This is what you can say. This is what you can’t say. This is what you can do. This is what you can’t do,” and no one was talking about the risks involved in it. Anytime you get a surgery, anytime you get any procedure, any injection, there’s a consent form. We did that all along.
There are bad players out there. There’s always going to be players like that in the market where FDA had to come in and say something to do something. Unfortunately, it hurts a lot of other people that were doing it right and had good processes down. One interesting thing about that, though, is that what we did here, we can manipulate the cells. What we mean by that is you may have been able to get like 10 million, 20 million stem cells here. In Mexico, they can expand those out to 100 million, 200 million cells.
What you’re able to do in those other countries is even better than what we were able to do here. It may not even be a bad thing. We just love being able to do it. We love helping people. We never made claims. We always told people, “This is experimental. There are no double-blind studies, and there are risks involved with it.” We went through the consent form and we did those things. Like anything, there’s always going to be people that blow it up to say it’s stuff that it’s not and it creates a problem and then regulation has to come in.
You went from one chiropractic office to multiple chiropractic offices, and then to multiple regenerative practices. Is that the path?
I have the chiro office, and then I had the regenerative office at the same time, so just those two. I then sold a chiropractic practice and had the regenerative practice. At that point, it was basically running on its own. I didn’t have to be there all the time. I had the opportunity where I could come back and be there every once in a while, do stuff on Zoom, and all that before everything was really big on Zoom.
My wife and I decided we wanted to move to Florida. We moved to Florida on a whim. We said, “Our girls are young enough. Let’s do it before school. Let’s see if we love it.” We’ve been talking about moving to Florida for 3 to 5 years. We just love it down here. That’s where I am. I’ve said, “I could do some regenerative medicine down here. Let’s see who I can team up with and build a team down here because I didn’t want to just sit around and not do anything.”
I obviously was working with the team in Ohio. I was like, “I could do it here at the same time.” I met with a doctor down here and said, “Can I rent space from you? We could do something together.” Long story short, we ended up partnering together. We have six offices down here and building that out. What started as regenerative medicine is something totally different now. It’s changed through the changes that we had to make but that came out of nowhere. I wasn’t even planning it.
It was a great opportunity to work together and help more people. I bring my assistant down here and do what we do so well. Once we got that going, then in Ohio, they said, “Let’s do some more offices here.” We’re opening our fourth office in Ohio. That’s how it happened. We have great teams that love to do this. They love what we’re doing. They love the mission. We just keep expanding and working to help more and more people.
One of your specialties that I know of is marketing. You have learned from some of the best and you’ve implemented many of the things they share with you. You’ve taught me a lot of stuff. How did you become proficient in marketing?
When I first started, I realized, “These patients are not knocking down my door to come and get adjusted.” It was a rocky start. I started reading. It was out of necessity. It was, “How do I do this?” I bought a program from this guy named Ben Altadonna. He was big in helping chiropractors learn how to share the message of their office. I started doing some of what they call direct response marketing of sending stuff out, sharing what we can do, and having people respond and find people that need us that we can help.
I just loved it because one of the big things why I went to Louisville, Kentucky, is it’s where I did that program, my preceptorship, my apprenticeship. I’m an introvert, so I started reading a ton of books on communication because I didn’t know how to start a conversation with people. I’m not like the life-of-the-party guy to be able to just strike up a conversation with everyone. I got to learn how to do this. I got to learn how to talk to people. I’m trying to think around here. I still have it. I have this old program called How to Start a Conversation in 90 Seconds or Less. It’s like this little audio thing. They’re trying to learn how to talk to people.
I started loving the whole concept of communication, which is what I feel marketing and advertising is, is how do I communicate with people on a super high level to help them understand what we do and how we can help them and understand them, what they’re dealing with and what frustrations they have. I just fell in love with it.
I’ve got hundreds of books. I’ve probably spent over $1 million just in courses, going to seminars, being in masterminds, and learning from the best people in the world how to do marketing. When I say marketing, I feel like it’s communication with people and it’s being able to create a community and get the message out that helps more people.
What is the best book you’ve read? If you were going to tell the audience one book they just can’t miss they got to read it on marketing, what would that book be? What’s had the biggest impact on you?
If I take it back to communication, probably the most profound book to me was just the old classic, How to Win Friends & Influence People. That one changed my understanding of how to talk to people. Before that, I just didn’t know what to do. If I could cheat and give a couple more, I would say, The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes was one of the best books I’ve ever read on how to run a business. That includes marketing and advertising.
One of the things that people have said is that marketing and advertising are just psychology and math. It’s understanding people and then it’s making the math work to where, “If I spend this much on marketing, I’m not going to go bankrupt. I’m going to make money on it,” because you can’t just keep spending money if you’re not getting any money back in the business. Those are the two big things.
The reason I say that is because one of my favorite books is the Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini. That book was, you talk to any marketer, it’s just understanding basic concepts of human psychology. I was such a novice to this. Those early books were huge to me, and to some people, it may be simple concepts, but to me, it was earth-shattering.
By Chris Smith. That was good for understanding the psychology of, nowadays, a lot of people are doing online advertising. This is from the guy that was probably the most successful with my understanding. He worked for Quicken Loans. His job was to handling incoming leads off of Facebook to Quicken Loans. He goes through what it takes to connect with an online lead and how to handle that, and understand the psychology of that.
It’s different from someone that read a newsletter or saw you on an infomercial. Understanding where people are when they come in, and raise their hand and say, “I’m interested in what you’re doing,” the way you speak with them, what you say to them, and how fast you respond to them. There’s a lot of things that go into it that a lot of people just don’t understand. It’s like simple concepts. You just got to know it. You got to read about it. You got to learn it, and then you got to implement it.
I could read The Conversion Code and say, “That was a great book,” and then go read another book. I’m notorious for I outlined books when I read them. I read a book with the intention to implement everything that I read in that book. That makes sense to the business. When I read The Conversion Code, I literally have a whole presentation that I gave to my team. “This is how you use it.” One of the things I do also is I used to hold quarterly seminars, and I would train doctors on how to run their practice in business. I would take these and put them into presentations and transform them.
You talked about a better way to take something from somewhere and puts it somewhere else. I do that all the time. I take this concept from Quicken Loans. How do we do that in medical practice? Anyone that ever sees anything that I’ve done will find out quickly that I’m a huge Disney fanatic. Gary knows this. I try to take every concept of what Disney does and what Walt Disney did and put that into our practice. How do we give people a better experience in the practice? The better way thing, when you started describing that, when I first met you and learn about all the why. It’s like, “That’s me in a nutshell.”
That’s why we connect is I see the same world you see. It’s got to be a better way. What you’ve done, I love that, how you outline the books and then give a presentation to your team so that you can implement everything. I can read a book and then jump to the next book. What’s the next one I got to read? I love the way you’re implementing. It’s the whole thing.
Yes. Here’s the thing, too. My video library is fast. I literally have a university for my team to watch. One of the things that a lot of people do is they’ll teach that stuff, but then they have to keep teaching over and over again and reiterating it. We do have to do that in business as the leader is the visionary. They say in the Bible when the vision is gone, the people perish. There’s got to be a vision. You’ve got to reiterate it. Most people forget about it within 30 to 45 days and your company, if you’re not going over your vision every month, everyone’s lost. They’re just doing day-to-day stuff. They’re not on point.
What I’ve done is document it so that everyone new coming in can see that and you’re creating clones for lack of a better term. That’s what I do with Dr. Dave. My whole point wasn’t just to say like, “Dr. Dave, look at this cool concept.” It’s like, “No, how do I teach this?” Have that person do it and have it become part of their routine. If it becomes part of their routine, it becomes part of our system. Anyone new that comes in, that part of the system is now there. It can be taught. They can take it and put it into practice.
How do I learn it? How do I disseminate it down? How do I get them to then do it? Now, I’m hands-off and I don’t have to do that again. They can just take it and then, what do we want them to do? We want them to train the next person so they can move up so that they can train. Of course, when they train, they get better at it. There’s a whole system that I focus on to take it and implement it and help other people implement it.
That’s my goal is to get other people to implement it because that’s the only way you’re going to get the leverage that you need, which is a big word that we focus on. How do you leverage your time? When you see successful people who can have multiple clinics and multiple things going on, I could never do that if I had to see every patient. If I had to manage all the staff. I had to know its leverage. How do I train this so that they’re basically becoming a clone, doing these things as part of the system? It’s making yourself redundant in the business and you’re just leading the way.
It’s interesting because this all came from pain on your side. The pain of not having the practice, of not having the ability to just go out and buy it. Maybe a better word would be resourcefulness.
I wouldn’t have been that resourceful if I had the money. I had to figure it out. Once you do that, then you start to have more confidence like, “I can do this. I can start a business. I built a business. I can build another one. I trained that person and sold that business.” Stuff that you never thought you could do. All of a sudden, you’re starting to build chops and build your confidence up as you do these things. That’s one of the things where money can be a killer because it can kill your resourcefulness. Look at most immigrants that come over here that become successful. Talk about resourcefulness. They couldn’t even speak English. They have $1 to their name. Resourcefulness is the name of the game, not money.
What’s next for Dr. Scot Gray?
I’m trying to help a billion people get relief from their pain and their suffering. I’m building a network of doctors that will have approved, certified treatments that we approve of. We help certify their team so that we know that people are getting great care. Another thing that a lot of people don’t know about me, I served as president of the city council for a couple of years in my town. Unfortunately, in my town, we had a big opiate and heroin problem. I became aware of how huge an issue this was, how it was destroying families. It was destroying people’s lives. It was just killing the people of Ohio.
Unfortunately, we were on the national news because our state was so bad. Our town was literally one of the worst in Ohio. We were in the pit of this thing. People went around and put signs up in my town and said, “Heroin is our economy.” It was that bad. I started to see this and I became passionate about pain relief.
I feel like the way that we treat pain right now is like caveman days. I feel like we’ve done this for years. We’ve been brainwashed that when there’s a problem and a symptom, there’s a pill to fix that problem or that symptom. Just take the pill and go about your day. That’s completely inaccurate. My goal is to educate the world, educate people to understand there’s a better way.
It goes back to that, that there is a better way to fix your pain. A better way to get relief. There’s a better way to be healthy, especially in these times where health needs to be at our forefront. There are viruses. There are things out there that are dangerous. People need to understand that the healthier you can be, the better your ability is going to fight off anything that you get, too. If we’re on that morning cocktail of medications, what is that doing to our immune system and our ability to fight things off?
I could get on a big soapbox here, but that’s what’s next for me is building this program called Konnect Relief. I want it to be like the home advisor of pain relief, where we’re almost like a WebMD in information where you can get great information, but in the new way of taking care of your body, your mind, your spirit, all those things that you need to do. Putting the medical side into it and what’s available, but things that aren’t dangerous.
Things that aren’t going to destroy your immune system. Things that you can do quickly to get out of pain and dealing with some underlying symptoms and issues, not symptoms but issues that are there causing you to have pain. My passion is to be out there, connecting people to the best practitioners to find out why they’re having pain and to be able to get rid of it. If not, anything to reduce medications and opiates and things like they’re on so they have a better, healthier, happier life. That’s my mission.
If there are people that are reading that want to follow you, is it KonnectRelief.com? How do they connect with you, follow you, and see what you’re doing to keep up with you?
You can go to KonnectRelief.com, or you can go to DrScotGray.com. I always tell people that the hardest eight-letter name to spell in the world. I should be putting all the things up there that I’m doing. I’ve got a podcast as well. That is going to be moving over to that page. We’ve interviewed one of the founders of Pixar. We’ve interviewed all kinds of great people like the founder of the Orlando Magic and all kinds of good stuff. We talk a lot about this thing. Gary, you and I are like-minded in this stuff. We love talking about it. We love figuring out how we can help the world with our information and what we do.
The last question I got for you is, what’s the best piece of advice that you’ve ever received, or the best piece of advice that you’ve ever given?
The time is now. I’ve lived by that since that day, October 2015. That’s when I heard those words spoken for the first time. That’s when Vinnie said, “If you want to have the impact you want, you got to get out of practicing.” I went back and I stopped practicing. I stopped seeing patients, and when I realized I needed to sell the chiropractic practice, I made the decision and I sold the practice.
When I started thinking, “Maybe we could move to Florida. The time is now. What am I waiting for? I’m not getting any younger. I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. I want to live in Florida. Go do it, Scot.” I did it. Amazing things have happened. I just live by this. It’s one thing to hear it, but again, I’m a guy that I like to hear it, then I like to do it.
I say, “The time is now.” Whatever that one thing is that you’ve been waiting to do, that you’re making all kinds of crazy excuses as to why not to do it, I’m telling you, do it. I’ve made that decision over and over again. It’s just been such a blessing to myself, my family, and the people that we’re helping. With all the clinics, I’m helping way more people than I ever could have helped before. The time is now. Take action today.
Scot, thank you so much for taking the time to be here. I know we see each other every quarter, at least, but there’s a lot I learned about you that I didn’t know. I’m glad we got a chance to talk. I love that the time is now because I’m going to use that myself. I’m stealing a lot of your better ways stuff and applying it to my better way stuff.
That’s how we do. We got a swipe and deploy.
I love it. Thanks so much for being here. I look forward to staying in touch as we continue on our journeys.
Thank you, Gary. I appreciate you.
It’s time for our last segment, Guess the Why. For this segment, I want to use Michael Jordan. What do you think Michael Jordan’s why is? I’m going to take a stab at what it is, because if you remember, he was the guy that tried out for his basketball team as a junior. He didn’t make it, went back and practiced and practiced and found the right way to do things. He then made the team and became a superstar. He went off to North Carolina and became a superstar there. He went to the NBA and became the best of all time.
He was always that guy that was willing to have a tantrum. He was willing to go out on a limb. He was willing to do what was necessary in order to get the results that he wanted. I’m going to say that Michael Jordan’s why is to do things the right way in order to get results. Practice over and over the same shot, the same layup, do the same things over and over because they’re going to get results.
People with the why of the right way follow processes and systems that work. They stick to things that work. They’re willing to get in people’s faces, yell at them, have a tantrum, have a fit if they’re not getting things done the right way. I see this in Michael Jordan. What do you think Michael Jordan’s why is? In the comments, let us know what you think Michael Jordan’s why is.
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 can discover your why at half price or share that with your friends. If you love the Beyond Your Why show, please don’t forget to subscribe below and leave us a review and rating on whatever platform you’re using or listening to so that we can bring the why to 1 billion people in the next five years. Thank you for reading. I’ll see you soon.
Dr Scot Gray is the father of two wonderful girls and husband to his beautiful bride, Jenn. Dr Scot is a serial entrepreneur and author. He has been featured on ABC, NBC, Lifetime Network and other television shows. He built and sold a successful chiropractic practice, The Ohio Neck & Back Pain Relief Centers in Marion, Ohio. Dr Gray now owns several medical offices in Ohio and Florida, a physician referral network called Konnect Relief, and has helped many doctors start clinics in multiple states. Dr Scot focuses on building teams of people smarter than him to run and deliver services in these businesses, in order to change millions of lives of patients and doctors.
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
― Unsourced, misattributed to Maya Angelou
The above quote felt fitting for the WHY of Better Way. It seems to be a constant battle of whether they feel confident they’ve landed on the BEST. If a Better Way is unsure if something could be better, then it will never feel quite right to them. They feel as though their best, the best of someone else, or a project, could always be improved. They can often be their own worst enemy in slowing down processes because of the fear it could be better.
Tips and Tricks for Being Better Way:
1. Aim for ‘Good Enough’
If your WHY is Better Way it can be easy to spiral into a place where nothing is good enough because it could always be better. And to your point, yes, anything could always be better, but to avoid getting stuck – “better way” it until it’s good enough, then learn to move on.
2. Perfection is a myth
Better Ways sometimes feel perfection could be achieved, because they are such high achieving personalities. Don’t let this myth stop you from feeling you’ve achieved something great!
3. Embrace other’s gifts
Often, when having the WHY of Better Way, and interacting with someone with a different WHY, you may come off as you know better than them. Make sure you are embracing their unique way of thinking also and letting them speak to their WHY.
Tips & Tricks for Interacting with a Better Way:
1.When working with a Better Way: Don’t spend a lot of time on a project
Now, this may seem counterproductive, but if you spend weeks and weeks on something, once you show it to them, they’re going to change everything anyway. Bring a super rough draft that you haven’t developed a lot of attachment to yet, so when they offer all their changes, they’re easy to make and won’t frustrate you as much.
2. Diffuse the Bomb
You can “diffuse the bomb” of them constantly trying to better things by asking if it’s good enough to move on. Or you may be able to in a relationship by saying “You’re doing that Better Way thing again” and they’ll realize it and laugh.
3. Understand The second part of their WHY: Find a Better Way, AND SHARE IT
Better Way people do truly want to help. Though it may come off as they think they know more than you or what’s best more than you, it comes from a good place. They want to share the best way they’ve found to do something, and they want to help you out.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You’re now out of Ancestry.com. You’ve done some of these other family apps. Tell us about the idea for Soar.com.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Paul 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.
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.
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?
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.”
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?
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.