In this enlightening episode, we delve into the life and insights of Father Nathan, a Catholic priest who defies stereotypes by forging connections between spirituality, business, and relationships. Father Nathan’s unique approach challenges the status quo and offers a fresh perspective on how to navigate life’s challenges with love and purpose.
Gain valuable insights into blending spirituality and business, and how these principles can enhance personal growth and professional success.
Learn about the importance of seeing others as individuals to serve, cultivating deeper relationships, and spreading compassion.
Explore the concept of challenging the norm, breaking stereotypes, and embracing humility as a path to personal development and making a positive impact.
Tune in to this episode for a thought-provoking conversation that encourages you to rethink conventional boundaries and consider how love, challenge, and humility can transform your approach to business, relationships, and life.
00:19:00 Dedication and sacrifice in religious life.
00:25:27 Choose love over self-fulfillment.
00:35:24 Love is the strongest force.
00:38:08 Faith and business can intersect.
00:47:46 Don’t take yourself too seriously.
00:47:56 Life is like a firework.
00:54:09 Listening to confessions humbles priests.
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Bridging Spirituality and Business: Insights from Father Nathan’s Journey
In a world often divided between the realms of spirituality and business, Father Nathan emerges as a unique voice, challenging norms and defying conventional boundaries. In a recent podcast episode, we had the privilege to explore the profound insights of Father Nathan, a Catholic priest whose mission is to bridge the gap between spirituality, business, and relationships. As a revered figure, Father Nathan’s wisdom offers a fresh perspective on how love, challenge, and humility can transform the way we approach every aspect of life.
Discovering Father Nathan: A Remarkable Journey
Father Nathan’s journey is a testament to the intersection of diverse experiences. Transitioning from an engineering background to priesthood, he embodies the blend of analytical thinking and spiritual depth. His compelling journey highlights how diverse paths can lead to unexpected destinations, challenging the notion that certain pursuits are mutually exclusive.
The Power of Love: Uniting Spirituality and Business
A central theme in Father Nathan’s philosophy is the profound power of love. He emphasizes that love is not limited to personal relationships; it is a force that can drive success in the world of business as well. Father Nathan’s approach encourages us to see others as individuals to serve, creating deeper and more meaningful connections. By incorporating love into professional endeavors, he redefines how we view success and fulfillment.
Challenging the Norm: Finding Growth in Every Challenge
Father Nathan’s life journey is a testament to embracing challenges as opportunities for growth. He advocates for stepping out of one’s comfort zone, daring to question conventions, and striving to make a positive impact. His remarkable journey from seminary school to founding Eagle Eye Ministries and the St. John Institute exemplifies his commitment to pushing boundaries and creating meaningful change.
Humility as a Path to Transformation
In a world often characterized by ego and self-centered pursuits, Father Nathan champions humility as a transformative force. His message resonates deeply with those seeking personal development and spiritual growth. By humbling ourselves and acknowledging our limitations, we open the door to profound growth and a deeper connection with others.
Rethinking Spirituality, Business, and Relationships
By listening to this insightful podcast episode, you’ll gain invaluable insights into blending spirituality and business, cultivating deeper relationships, and challenging the norm. Father Nathan’s approach showcases how the pursuit of love, humility, and meaningful challenges can reshape your outlook on life, regardless of your faith or background.
A New Perspective on Life’s Intersections
Father Nathan’s journey and philosophy serve as a reminder that life’s intersections are rich with opportunity. By infusing love into business, embracing challenges with humility, and viewing relationships as opportunities for service, we can lead more purposeful and impactful lives. Father Nathan’s insights are a call to action for all, inviting us to embark on a journey of self-discovery and transformation.
Unlock a new perspective on spirituality, business, and personal growth by listening to this inspiring episode.
If you love the show, please don’t forget to subscribe and leave us a review and rating on whatever platform you are using. Thank you so much for being here. I will see you in the next episode.
About Father Nathan Cromly
Father Nathan Cromly is a nationally recognized speaker, writer, retreat leader, explorer, innovator, educator, and he is totally devoted to Our Lady. Born and raised in Toledo, Ohio, he has joyfully served as a Catholic priest of the Brothers of Saint John since 2007, and currently ministers in Denver, Colorado. Father Nathan’s teaching and dynamic witness has touched the lives of tens of thousands of teenagers, married couples, families, and business professionals.
Father Nathan is the President and Founder of the Saint John Institute whose ministries have been inspiring, equipping, and engaging Catholics since 2003. There are three integrated ministries: Eagle Eye Ministries whose outreach and formation to young adults through retreats and excursions inspires them to lead; the Saint John Leadership Institute that equips Catholics to lead through in- person courses and on-line classes and webinars; and the Saint John Leadership Network that engages business and family leaders to Dare Great Things for ChristTM by integrating Catholic leadership into the family, culture and professional world through formation, fellowship and prayer.
Besides leading international backpacking trips and making documentaries, Father Nathan launched a weekly podcast titled Dare Great Things for ChristTM with over 150 episodes available on popular
podcast apps and airing soon on EWTN. His 2-minute Glance at the Gospel can be heard weekly on EWTN and local Catholic radio stations.
Above all else, Father Nathan is a Catholic priest. He has dedicated his priesthood to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and is humbled to serve Christ’s people so long as God gives him the opportunity.
Father Nathan is the President and Founder of the Saint John Institute whose ministries have been inspiring, equipping and engaging Catholics since 2003. There are three integrated ministries: Eagle Eye Ministries whose outreach and formation to young adults through retreats and excursions inspires them to lead; the Saint John Leadership Institute that equips Catholics to lead through in- person courses and on-line classes and webinars; and the Saint John Leadership Network that engages business and family leaders to Dare Great Things for ChristTM by integrating Catholic leadership into the family, culture and professional world through formation, fellowship and prayer.
If you have the WHY of Contribute, you are all about being a part of a greater cause, even from behind the scenes. This episode’s guest is one who completely embodies this. In fact, she has worked behind many big talents and names in the entertainment industry—Mr. Frank Sinatra, included. Joining us is Jaki Baskow of Baskow Talent, whose 45-year career in Las Vegas placed her as one of the top and preferred vendors at Caesars and The Wynn. She sits down opposite Dr. Gary Sanchez to tell us about her amazing career journey opening her own talent agency. From having lunch with Frank Sinatra to selling her destination management company to helping speakers get booked, Jaki fills us with great stories and advice for inspiration. Through it all, Jaki reminds us of her definition of peak: to wake up loving what you do. Tune in as she shows her WHY, creating an impact in the lives of others.
Watch the episode here
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From Sinatra to Stallone: Jaki Baskow’s Impact on the Entertainment World & Her Journey to Success
In this episode, we’re going to be talking about the Why of Contribute. To contribute to a greater cause, add value and have an impact on the lives of others. If this is your WHY, then you want to be part of a greater cause, something that is bigger than yourself. You don’t necessarily have to be the face of the cause, but you want to contribute to it in a meaningful way. You love to support others and you relish successes that contribute to the greater good of the team. You see group victories as personal victories. You are often behind the scenes looking for ways to make the world better.
You make a reliable and committed teammate and you often act as the glue that holds everyone else together. You use your time, money, energy, resources and connections to add value to other people and organizations. In this episode, I’ve got a fascinating guest for you. Her name is Jaki Baskow. She moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, in 1976 to work at a movie studio under the creator of Batman, Bob Crane.
After they lost financing, she was talked into opening her own talent agency and her new company broke a 25-year-long monopoly in the Talent Game. The first commercial Jaki was in charge of casting and made $36,000 in royalties. This caught the eye of Mr. Frank Sinatra. Mr. Sinatra requested a meeting with Jaki because he was helping Marlene Ritchie, who was his opener at the time, acquire an agent.
That was the start of her 45-year career working in Las Vegas, where she is one of the top and preferred vendors at Caesars and The Wynn. Jaki has since produced TV segments, booked stars to take to Italy for the Telegatto and filled seats for the Oscars for many years. She has worked with Stallone, Gene Hackman, Tom Selleck, Kevin Costner, Sharon Stone and so many more. Discovery Channel also featured Jaki in a TV segment on Casino Diaries, where they named her one of the Top Celebrity Star Brokers in the world and named her the Queen of Las Vegas. Jaki, welcome to the show.
Thank you so much. It’s a pleasure to finally be here.
I know it’s only taking us a year, but we’re here now.
So much to share, though. A lot to share.
This is exciting. You’re in Vegas now. Where did you grow up? What were you like in high school?
Horrible. I don’t even know how I ended up in business. I grew up in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. When I was sixteen, my dad owned a bar. He was robbed and killed, so I had a very tragic teenage years. I barely finished high school. My friend Ann’s mother went in and begged them to graduate me. Her dad got me a scholarship for Miami Dade Junior College. I couldn’t type. I couldn’t do anything. I was a mess. I just wanted to invite people over and party.
I went to Miami Dade for two years. I was all about the music because we’d sneak on the campuses at the University of Miami and they had people like James Taylor and people like that. It was amazing. I worked three jobs to keep myself going. I eventually came back to New Jersey. I worked with my mom part-time and I would take buses to New York to try to be an actress.
I wasn’t a very good actress, but I was a good talker. I was seeing somebody cheating on me and we decided to go to the Catskill Mountains and met Bob Kane. My neighbor and I decided to move out to Las Vegas to work for a movie studio. When we got here, there was no movie studio. It was an old electric company building. Bob and a man named Russ Gerstein lost their financing. I had no idea Bob was the creator of Batman. He ended up moving to LA.
I ended up hiring Peter Guber, who bought the project twenty years later as a speaker. We live in a fishbowl. We keep going around. I started my company with $300. I took a job with Telly Savalas and they talked me into opening my talent agency. Somebody gave me an office, a man named Bobby Mars and I couldn’t afford to run my talent agency.
At night, I’d put glasses on and put my hair in a ponytail and go call bingo. On the weekend, I worked at Big Ben’s car lot. When you’re passionate and persistent, you have to do what you have to do to get to that next step. My beautiful career that I’ve had here for many years has enabled me to help others and that’s what life’s about. I hired Shaquille O’Neal and he said something like, “It’s not about how successful you are, how much money you make. It’s about what you do. You want to be known for kindness and giving back to others.” He’s very philanthropic and I was very impressed with him.
Let’s go back for a minute to high school. When you said you barely made it through, was it because of grades or getting in trouble or was it you didn’t have any interest in learning the way they were teaching?
Probably ADD and don’t know it. I could not concentrate unless it was something I wanted to concentrate on. We used to go and dance on a TV show called the Jerry Blavat Show. We went on that show 3 to 4 days a week, then we’d go to dances every night. My whole life was going to dances, and that’s what subconsciously kept me going mentally with all the tragedy I had.
In school, I never was a serious student. I got Ds, Es and Fs. It was not good, but you have to be focused. I have some relatives that went to college and they weren’t focused. If you’re not focused, you can’t concentrate. You have to put your mind on things, but I made it through high school. I went to junior college in a blink of an eye and I ended up in business.
I believe in working when you’re young and learning things. My mom was a bookkeeper for a wholesale meat house. I used to go there and I used to pick up the phone, “Do you need meat this week? Do you need that?” We sold to all the restaurants in New Jersey. She was a bookkeeper also and she did their sales.
I learned how to do bookkeeping and how to sell. I consider myself a great salesperson. You have to be able to sell your company and sell yourself and believe in yourself for other people to believe in you. Education is wonderful and I truly believe in education, but people can’t afford education and in those days, I couldn’t afford education. My mom was working two jobs to support my brother and me. You learn how to work and to do things. I’ve been a waitress, a cashier and a telephone operator. I think I’ve been everything. That enabled me to be successful in my own business and to look after things in my own company. I still love people.
What was Vegas like when you moved? What year was that? What was it like when you moved there?
It was 1976. There were under 200,000 people here. I think the city was not run by who it’s run by now, but everybody knew your name. I’d pull up to the Desert Inn Hotel and I knew Gary, the valet guy. I knew all the valet people at Caesars at that time and it was more personal. To me, it was more personal and I loved it.
People knew you when you walked into the hotel and it’s all about relationships. I’m old school. I’m about relationships, meeting people face to face, and interacting with people because when I have a job, whether a little job or a big one, I try to show up and meet my client and thank them for their business and how important they are to me. Not many people do that these days, as you know.
You opened your talent agency. What was it called?
Baskow Agency. Original, right?
Who was your first client?
My first client was Suzanne Summers. I did a TV show called Jack and the Princess. I didn’t represent her, but it’s a very funny story about the fishbowl. I hired some people to work on that show. I also worked on a David Brenner commercial where I put a guy named Spider in the commercial and he touched the Schmitz beer in the commercial and became interactive with the product.
He made royalties, $36,000, and he went home and told his boss. His boss’s best friend, Julie Rizzo, happened to discover Marlene Rickey at the Aladdin Hotel. She was now opening for Frank Sinatra and she didn’t have an agent. I got a phone call, “The old man wants to meet you.” I called my mother and started crying. I said, “I don’t know who the old man is, but somebody, I think, is trying to steal my company. I’m coming back to New Jersey.” I ended up going to the lunch and he was lovely. I met him and Julie. I became friends with them until the end. I went to his show every single time he was here. He was such a legend and icon in the industry.
Let’s dive into that a little bit. What was it like sitting down to have lunch with Frank Sinatra? Where was it? Do you remember where you had lunch?
Yes, it was a coffee shop at Caesars Palace. He walked in with this Black NBC Peacock jacket. When he turned around, I didn’t know it was him. I didn’t even know who I was having lunch with and Julie came in. He had his glasses and his little one eye. He said, “I hear you’re the new Sue Mengers in town.” I said, “Mr. Sinatra, you can have my company. Who is Sue Mengers?”
Believe it or not, he followed my career. One time we were doing a commercial over at Bally’s, which was the MGM before the fire. We’re in the elevator and Paul Anka gets in the elevator. Frank is talking to me in the elevator and he introduces me. He said, “Who is she?” He said, “She’s an ex-Sue Mengers in town.” Paul Anka was like, “Who was she?” You don’t get in the elevator with Frank Sinatra. It’s usually security guards in the elevator with Frank Sinatra.
It was very interesting. It was a wonderful time to be in business. I started my business with $300 and I built it to a very big company. I had 24 employees a few years ago. We built it to a $20 million company, had some employees that took fifteen employees and about $15 million in business. You then dust yourself off and you build yourself up again. I became another destination management company again then I decided I didn’t want my company, but I don’t want to jump to that. You can ask me more questions and I’ll tell you the climb.
Frank sounds like he was very helpful in the early stages of your business.
I never asked them for anything because I don’t like to ask people. I would rather give, but he walked me into the catering in the office with a man named Jerry Gordon, who was the manager of the hotel at the front desk. He said, “Can you use this kid’s modeling agency? Use this kid’s company. See if you can help her.” I’m like, “Thank you, Mr. Sinatra,” like a little girl. Jerry Gordon and I became friends.
One day, he introduced me and I started doing parties at events. He said, “Can you do parties at events?” I’m like, “Sure.” The first thing I did for them, they asked me if I had a band and I hired a band called Bobby and the Imperials. They asked me if I could bring somebody into a morning meeting. How would I creatively do something fun to open a morning meeting?
I said, “What about Caesar and Cleopatra and one of those leaders with feeding grapes in the mouth?” They didn’t tell me who it was and the next thing I know, the next day, we were on the front page of the news. It was a man named Jackie Presser, the head of the Teamsters. I’m a kid. I was so naive when I moved here. I didn’t know anything. I thought a working girl was a girl that went to work for a living. That was my first job with them.
Jerry introduced me to a man that was a radio host. He was from Italy and his friend was the Johnny Carson of Italy named Mike Bongiorno. He came here and they were going to produce twelve TV shows of somebody winning some contest and coming to Vegas, in the desert, showing them at a hotel. They said, “Can you produce TV shows?” I said, “Sure.” I ended up hiring a guy named Don Jacobs, Mr. Camera, who was second unit camera for Entertainment Tonight. We traveled around and I ended up doing 26 TV shows for them and Engelbert, Lynda Carter and Frank Sinatra, Jr., Ben Vereen and all these people. I went in like I was a magazine show and did these interviews and became friends with everybody.
They said, “Mr. Berlusconi wants to know if you can bring celebrities to Italy.” I said, “Who’s Mr. Berlusconi?” They said, “He’s a man that owns a TV station.” They didn’t tell me he was the Prime Minister of the country. I started bringing celebrities. The first one I brought was Gary Coleman then I brought Michael Douglas over. I brought over Sylvester Stallone then we went to Mr. Berlusconi’s house for dinner and he gave Sylvester Stallone a lot of money for his movies.
I took Kevin Costner and his wife over and ended up helping them with their honeymoon, Tom Selleck, a doll to work with, and Andy Garcia. I ended up doing all these different crazy TV shows, Miss Italia, the Italian Oscars, the Telegattos. It was a blessed time for me. I sent Jennifer Lopez over to the San Remo Music Festival, but I ended up not going to that one.
It’s like, all of a sudden, you’re a kid from New Jersey, not knowing anything, sleeping in the same room as your mom because you barely have money to eat, then you’re living this lavish life. It’s been crazy. I decided to take the lavish life and pay it forward to other people. I’ve been mentoring kids at the university that want to be in the hospitality and entertainment business.
I try to put as many people as I can to work, whether it be a movie, a TV show or an extra. I tell people, “It doesn’t matter about being a celebrity. It’s what you do. If you do one day of your passion. You’ve lived your passion in your life.” I’ve been blessed. I brought some celebrities to Boys and Girls Club for the High Singers in Florida with my friend Cheryl Kagan. I got involved with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
A friend of mine, John Daly, introduced me to John Walsh and to a man named John Arnos. Years later, every year, when we raise money and do these golf tournaments and these events, we find missing kids. It’s every single year around the time we do the event. It’s unbelievable. I work with Make-A-Wish. It’s funny that this is happening now. A friend of mine just came in from New Hampshire. We are purging. We purged 38 bags that we gave to SafeNest and Safe House to people that don’t have anything.
When you think about it, whether you have $5 or $500,000, we save things. We become pack rats and we start with 5 sets of dishes instead of 1 set of dishes. It’s so important to start getting rid of that stuff and getting it to people that don’t have anything like the Ukrainian families that came here. I’m trying to minimalize and give to others because it feels good. It made me feel like I lost weight.
You’ve built your company up over the years and what was it like at its peak? Give us a sense of when you were at the peak of what you were doing, when was that? What was going on? What did that feel like?
I’ll tell you about the peak, but I have to say that every day I wake up and love doing what I do is my peak. I love every day, whether I’m doing something little or small. I would say that my peak, when I was bringing all the celebrities to Italy before COVID, was my most fun. You get to go there. You’re in a different country, it’s wonderful. It’s a lot of fun. My peak, I had a girl that was the president of my company that worked for me. We took my company out of nowhere to a $20 million company.
I was able to buy some of my employees cars and send them to Europe on vacations and give people deposits for houses that had nothing. It was like a dream come true. This stuff doesn’t happen in a lifetime and it was amazing. Unfortunately, she was not amazing. She turned out to be not a good person, but that’s why I was left with the fifteen employees, but you learn in life. When you do so many things for people and people don’t appreciate it, you learn something and I learned a lot because everything is a journey. In my journey, I learned that you can’t buy loyalty, love, loyalty and friendship. It just is. It was a pretty big blow.
It sounds like you were using your success to help others.
If I made money, everybody was making money. I had great parents. My mother taught me never to be selfish. It was funny because my mom lived in a little studio apartment when she got older and assisted living in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. As I started making a couple of bucks, I’d come back from Italy and I’d buy her a pretty ring. She would turn around and give it to the Russian immigrants that lived in her building.
I buy her beautiful clothes and she’d give them away. She’d rather have a sweat outfit and go to bingo. I love that about her because she was a good person and things didn’t matter. I think all of us get caught up in things and possessions. Sometimes you look around you or your friends with people who don’t have those possessions and realize the only possession we have is family, friends and our health.
When you had the scenario, how long ago was it that she took the fifteen people and left?
Also, $15 million in business. Many years ago. It was not good, but I have an angel over my shoulder. I had what was called a destination management company. We did the parties, the events, the entertainment, the speakers, everything. What happened was I ended up selling my company two years later to a Wall Street guy. His name was Steve Black. He helped take LPL Financial public. He owned my company for a couple of months, then he went back to work for his ex-boss that retired.
He paid me for full on my company and gave me my office building back. It’s a God story. My brother went through a divorce and lost everything. I went and took some of the money and bought him a house in New Jersey. I was so blessed to be able to do this because this stuff doesn’t happen in real life most of the time.
You’re at the top. When she left, took most of your business, then another guy comes along and pays you off in full when he doesn’t even need it and then now you’re back on top.
A wonderful man. What happened was when my president and her son finagled to take my employees, I was doing AT&T events all over the country and Texas Instruments. We were big time. We became a big company and a small pot here. I realized it’s funny because I sold my company to Steve Black and then, like I said, he went back into the financial world, overlooking about 123 companies for his boss and putting teams together.
I’m still in touch with him and his family. I can’t even say enough about him. About two years later, one night, I was on the internet and I decided that I did not want this event planning company anymore. I didn’t want to be the boss. Does that sound crazy? I wanted to service my clients and make sure people were taken care of. When you’re the boss, you’re sitting behind your desk, trapped and taking care of employees and it’s tough.
I ended up selling my company to another destination management company. I’m not going to talk about them. I stayed with them for a few years as president of business development. I kept my speaker’s bureau and talent agency because that’s always been my love and passion, my movies and TV. That’s what I’m doing.
It’s funny because you were asking about some of the first people I worked with. It was Suzanne Somers on Jack and the Princess with her and Bruce Boxleitner. Years later, she’s doing a convention for me and I’m doing little doodling. I came up with the idea for the Suzanne Somers Pajama Line that’s on Home Shopping Network.
Is your favorite thing working with the talent versus doing the destination and doing the events? What has been your favorite thing to do over the years?
Entertainment, the movies, the TV, the talent and the speakers because I think with everybody that you hire, especially with my speakers. You learn something in life. You get a message, inspiring, motivating and you learn more about life. I have a young man named Nick Santonastasso that I hired. Do you know Nick?
He has no arms and no legs and he lives life bigger than anybody that I know. He opens for Tony Robbins. I used him. People were like grabbing onto the wheelchair when they saw him, like, “You changed my life.” At the end of his speech, he did this meditation about taking a deep breath in and letting the little child out that all the things you’re harboring like, “I’m mad at my Mom and Dad. I’m mad at this. I’m mad at that. I’m angry about my ex-wife and my ex-husband.” He was very moving. I can’t even believe some of these people that I’ve found. It’s like your why. How many people don’t know what their why is? Why did I do this? Why am I in business? Why did I stay in that relationship too long? Many answers and so many questions, so I love what you’re doing.
When you look back, what do you attribute? How did you have such success in that industry? What was the secret to going from small to $20 million?
First of all, I was scared. I came out here with $300. My roommate moved to LA. She ended up being the assistant to the director, Sydney Pollack for 30 years. I was here by myself. My mother did not have a dime to give me. My mother, I think she had maybe $3,000 to her name in her bank account. It’s like it’s survival of the fittest. You do what you have to do to survive. That’s why people are like, “You’re calling bingo at night? I’m doing whatever I can to pay my rent.”
I think the Caesars Palace becoming their party and event planner and doing their entertainment things over there in the day and age when it was blossoming was a big deal for me. I start at no. If I made $1,000 in a day or whatever, it was a lot of money for me in those days. Also, the Italians, I produced thirteen TV shows in a week and made 92,000 profit. It’s unheard of. I bought my first house. I went from an apartment to buying a house. I’m like, “I’m a homeowner.” It’s exciting. Any job is exciting, whether it’s little or big or whatever if you love doing it.
What helped me be successful is I never stopped. I was tenacious. I’m a networker. If I would meet you, I’d say, “Would you like to be in my Speaker’s Bureau?” I would stay in touch with people. On my destination management company up to a couple of years ago, I couldn’t do all of that. I couldn’t concentrate on that because I had to concentrate on ten employees after I lost the 24 employees. I had ten employees left and a lot of them were women.
I’d get these boxes in the mail, they’d be in their office shopping and I’m bringing in the clients and said, “If I didn’t bring in the clients, I wasn’t paying that $92,000 overhead a month.” It’s a lot of money to be a business. As you know, COVID hit and things change. Everything changed in the world after COVID. To me, I see quality in restaurants have changed. I see people don’t want to work. I see people don’t come up and talk to you and they’re not happy. I don’t know. It’s crazy. I always try to make people feel good, whether if I see somebody on the street that’s homeless or whatever. I try to do something for somebody and change their day. Conversation and a smile changes your day.
When I first met you, we were introduced by a mutual friend. When I saw your bio and went to your website, I saw a picture. I don’t want this to come out wrong but I wasn’t expecting somebody as friendly and positive and willing to help as you were because in many situations in your industry, you don’t seem to find that.
Thank you. I got a little crazed after I saw you and we still need to do catch up. I had a girl that worked for me that was my assistant who lost her husband. I lost my assistant of ten years. I’m not technologically savvy on doing this proposal, but you learn very quickly. My general manager, unfortunately, lost her little nine-year-old daughter. You learn that you have to do what you have to do.
I have to tell you that this has been a good experience for me because when you start getting a lot of employees and you have people working for you, it’s like, “Get me this. Get me that.” I learned not to get out of my chair. Does that make sense? I expect everybody to bring me everything. Not in a pompous way because I’m on the phone all the time and doing my thing. Now I find myself more touching and feeling everything that I needed to do. I’m opening every file. I’m closing out I’m more paying attention more to a lot of things which is important.
How many people do you have now working for you?
Is it part-timers from what’d you say, 24?
I have three out-of-office remote salespeople, then I have three people that do coordinating like if I have a job, like tomorrow night, somebody is going to go check in a band for me. Usually, I’ll show up. Tomorrow night I can’t show up, so they’re going to show up and then I have two part-timers in the office. I have more than that the people that come in and out.
That’s a big difference from 24 down to six part-timers or five part-timers.
At my height, I had $172,000 overhead a month. That’s enough to put on 50 pounds and aid you.
How do you determine who you want to work with?
It’s so hard because I like everybody, I do. I try to help everybody and sometimes I get overwhelmed. I have a girl, Kelly, that works with me in my talent department. We know we’re casting a movie or TV show. She does a lot of the electronic submissions that I don’t do. The speakers and the entertainment, I try to interview in person.
My web guy, Steve, I found him and we built a new website. I’m so glad. My old website was dated. I’m marketing now. I have a girl that lives in Israel named Natalie. I forgot about her. What I do is I’ll have flyers made and I’m going to talk to you about it. You’d make a flyer, what is your why? You speak about this at the convention. We started sending out these flyers. I have about 120,000 to 132,000 emails of people who have attended trade shows, companies, meeting planners, event planners and Senate houses.
With constant contact, you can only send like 400 and some a day. She’ll take that flyer and like you’d give me a flyer built-in contact and we send it out. That’s how we let people know about you because out of sight, out of mind. You know that. It’s all about volume and letting people know because I’m sitting here as one Speaker’s Bureau and one talent agency.
If I don’t get those calls, then maybe ten other speaker’s bureaus you work with get those phone calls and somebody’s going to call you for a job. It’s been very interesting and I like it. I have to tell you that I like it. I have an office on Eastern Avenue, a small office and I have an office in my home now. I spend 90% of my time at home working. It’s easy to come down the hall and get on the phone for four hours, and then do my stuff here. I’ll go out and I’ll meet people.
Contrast for us, big 24 employees to small what you’re doing now. How is that different as far as for your clients? How’s that different for your sanity and for the impact that you can make?
I have to say that I love it. With 24 employees, There is a lot of chaos. I had a registration company and a housing company. We booked all the hotel rooms. We were doing all that for Texas Instruments then all of a sudden, the technology goes down. The world is crazy. I found myself working 20 out of 24 hours a day. As much as I loved it and I loved having all the employees. My office building was a house I had renovated on Russell Road. I didn’t live there, but we had 5,000 square feet of little chandeliers and French doors.
It looked like somebody’s house and everybody had their own little space in there. I loved it, but I saw the neighborhood changing there. It’s on the street of the airport here. We were burglarized a couple of times and I was in the building one time. It was scary. You say that you wanted to do it, you did it, you’ve been there and you’ve done it. I like what I’m doing now. I don’t miss having a lot of employees and I don’t miss having all that stress of the overhead and the payroll and everything.
The people that work for me, they’re lovely. They appreciate it. I pay them well, take good care of them, we go out, have fun, go to shows, go to dinners and get to do things for other people. We love doing Make-A-Wish because we get to see a little child’s life changed for a day and we get to do fun things. I would tell people, “I don’t think that bigger is necessarily better.”
It’s always great to grow your company. I won’t ever take that away from it. It would enable me to buy a house, an office building, and do things I always wanted to do. After that’s over, it’s like, what is it? You want to appreciate your life every day. You want to be able to wake up and do things that you want to do and just breathe.
Seems like a lot of people go through that. Start small, build this amazing thing, don’t like it, but they’re in the middle of the rat race, end up with something smaller and more personable and like that a lot more. How has that affected the people that you connect with? Do you still have as many speakers as you had before?
I do. I have more.
How are you able to keep up with all that?
I put them on my Speaker’s Bureau. I’m not in the technology world, even though they’re my biggest clients. I started getting Google AdWords and I had never had them before. I hired this great company in New Jersey that has been marketing me. What’s happening now is if somebody is looking for a certain speaker or a certain type of entertainment, they’re finding me on the internet.
I’m like, “How did you find me?” They’re like, “Google.” I’m like, “I have to ask you what words you were looking for because I’ve never in 45 years used Google AdWords.” I can’t say enough about them. It’s been interesting. Everything is a learning lesson. It’s a journey. Every day is a different journey. I love doing it and I don’t care if it’s in a big way or smaller way.
As I said, we had Shaquille O’Neal and Molly Bloom here. I had a small $2,500 speaker and I love them all because I get to put them all to work. It doesn’t matter how big it is. You put somebody to work and you were able to maybe change one person’s life in that room like you know when you’re speaking. Your whole goal is like, if you touch somebody in that room or touch all those people in your room, it’s like giving you $1 million.
For sure. If I’m a speaker reading this now, because we have a lot of speakers that listen, what do you see as the key to getting booked?
I think it’s all about your subject and your delivery. A lot of people use a moderator because they are not a keynote speaker, but they can speak, but they don’t have a whole platform and their presentation. If somebody was going to do speaking, I would say do something that’s going to interest people. Attract their attention. They want to be engaged now and they’ve seen it all. Your why is brilliant. In fact, I saw something on TV that said, “Why?” Did you see that? It was a commercial on TV.
I was thinking about you. I’m like, “Is that his commercial?” It’s embracing people here in your heart and emotionally. I was talking about Nick Santonastasso. He’s speaking and I had men that were coming up to us crying, like, “I just released. I purged. I did this.” He left them with something memorable, and as Maya Angelou said, “It’s how you leave them feeling.” If you’re going to speak, it doesn’t matter what you’re speaking on, as long as you’re speaking from your heart and you know that you can engage and your audience can relate to you.
Not everybody’s a college graduate. Some of those people are there and have a set fee and a set job, but they’re barely paying their bills and feeding their family and need inspiration. I was one of those people. People work for everything that they have. You can work that hard. I see people that are very wealthy that have lost it. I think that it’s so important to be a real person.
When I’m hiring a speaker, I want to feel what they’re saying. Somebody called me recently to speak on happiness. What makes you happy? I love that. You go in a room and know you’re going to see something positive or educational. Every speaker has something to give and it’s very important that your delivery and you’re touching your audience.
If I’m a speaker and nobody knows me and I’m trying to get booked, how do I go about getting booked? What advice would you give to them?
I would say that you want to go to every speaker’s bureau that you can and get on their bureau. I’m not pompous to say, “Come with me, even though I love you,” because I only get a certain amount of jobs. I say, “If you’re going to be with me not exclusive and you want to work on getting a lot of bookings, make a flyer.” There is a company out of India. They charge like $100 to make these flyers. I’ll have to send you a couple. They’re amazing. It’s a flyer made out of constant contact. It would have your face and maybe you’d have the big Why and the question mark or whatever you put on it and whatever message you’re trying to get to your audience.
I do have a girl, Natalie, in Israel. She sends it out. She’ll start sending it out. We’ve sent out to everybody on our list and we’ll send out now and then I’ll send it down again. Maybe we’ll change it up or we’ll send it. Sometimes we embed an agent-friendly we’ll have you do it. Put an agent-friendly video in there so people can see you and see how you engage with your audience because people want to know that you’ve spoken somewhere and it’s going to be a success when you speak for them.
Having a sizzle reel is important.
Sizzle reel is very important. Professional high res pictures and you can get them without spending a lot of money. If photographers are charging you thousands of dollars for your pictures, call me. I’ll give you names. You don’t need to spend that money. I want people to spend the least amount of money and make as much as you can.
That’s why you’ve been so successful all these years because I can tell you that not every bureau thinks, acts and helps like you do. It’s not the same for everybody. I’m sure you probably already know that.
I do. There are speaker’s bureaus and I will call them. I’ll say, “I’m interested in so-and-so.” Usually, some of them are big speakers. They’re like, “Have your client call me. I want to deal with your client direct.” I’m like, “I’m your client and you will meet my client after you give me. How much are they? Are they available? No, I’m not giving you that information.” It’s very cocky. It’s not a good way to network business because we all should be working together.
I look at my one of my competitors, Jennifer Lear. She and I work together all the time and she used to work for me. Each agency has something to offer. Diane Goodman, who owned Goodman Speakers. Now she’s a speaker’s manager. I called her one day and I said, “I don’t know how to put this, but I’m in love with your website and my website sucks.” She said, “I’d be glad to give you my web guy.”
In fact, she came here and we had lunch. She’s a lovely person. Some of her speakers are on my website. I have her web guy. It’s so important that we mentor each other in this life. A couple of girls called me that opened their little speaker’s bureau and I’m like, “Call me. Do you want to put some of my speakers on your bureau? We can work together.”
I will tell you another important thing is like everybody has a set. Let’s say your rate’s $25,000 or $35,000. A lot of times, people call me and they’ll say, “We only have $10,000 for a speaker.” I will turn around and call a $20,000 speaker and say, “I’ve had three inquiries this month in Vegas for a $20,000 speaker. Would you like me to submit you or no?”
Not that I ever want to insult anybody, but somebody may not have a job for four months. If I’ve made you $30,000 for three jobs. I like to think out of the box. I never want to presume anything. I do not take 25% or 30%. I take 20%. Sometimes if the clients don’t have the budget, I’ll take 10%. To me, it’s not always about the money. It’s about the relationship.
What’s the difference between a speaker bureau and a speaker manager?
The speaker management companies charge you to manage them and to promote them. At least, that’s what I’ve heard from some of my speakers. They’ve said that they pay thousands of a month to have them submit them or represent them. Speakers Bureau should only take a commission from you if we get you a job and after you’ve done the job, we get commissioned.
I’m starting like a regular Speakers Bureau because I’ve been in the entertainment business for so long. It’s like, “I need to know where they’re staying. Is it a five-star hotel? I need to know they’re being picked up at the airport. Is there a coordinator? I need to know they’re going to have a sound check.” I want to set my speakers and entertainers up for success, not failure. A lot of people just cook it and book it. I’m not a cook and book it person. Everybody wants to make money and be in business, but you have to care. That’s why I’m a little bit different.
I want to know that you’re coming here. I’m taking care of you. I had Molly Bloom here. We had 70-mile-an-hour winds. She was like in the air. As I’m texting her, “I hope you’re not upside down. I hope you’re okay.” She’s a wonderful person and a trooper. She came in on those wins. You want to make sure that people are there.
I try to show up at these events. I want to see my speakers if it’s within my power and if I don’t have ten things going on that day. When I go there, I want to make sure that do they have a ride back to their hotel. Have they been fed? Is there food in their green room for them? I know it sounds silly. These are little tiny important things that mean a difference.
The last question for you is, what’s the best piece of advice that you’ve ever been given or the best piece of advice that you’ve ever given?
A couple. One of my speakers, Dr. Edith Eger, she’s a Holocaust survivor. She told me, “We have to always be survivors, not victims. No matter how bad things get in life, you’re a survivor.” Another friend of mine, Dr. Anne Manning, told me, “The end is in the beginning. What you see in the beginning is always there in the end.” There is my mother who always said, “Be a good person. Don’t base your life on things. Be a good person and give back to others.” That’s how I’ve lived my life. I have a friend of mine, John Arnos. He raises money for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. He jumped out of an airplane to raise money and he turned 90.
You hang around with some fun people. That’s for sure.
We are all about having a good time.
Always have been.
Yes, I am. I’m looking forward to seeing you when you come back to Vegas.
I’m going to be there.
You’ll call me.
I will call you. I would love to get together if you are around because I’ll be there. I’m speaking with Ashley’s group then I’ll be there for a few more days.
Are you at the M Hotel?
I’m around the corner. I’ll make time, I promise you. You call me.
If there are people that are reading and want to follow you, learn more about you or see more that’s going on in your life, what’s the best way for them to connect with you?
My email is Jaki@JakiBaskow.com. Check out our websites, Baskow Talent and Las Vegas Speakers Bureau. We’re always looking for new people and I’m looking for people to mentor. If somebody isn’t a real professional speaker, I will take time and guide them and tell them where they can go to try to look into it. I think it’s important to go to NSA and Toastmasters and all those places where you can learn and people give you positive feedback to help you.
Jaki, thank you so much for taking the time to be here. I’m so glad we finally got to do this. I look forward to seeing you soon.
I’ll talk to you soon. Thank you so much for having me on your show.
Jaki moved to Las Vegas, NV in 1976 to work at a movie studio, under the creator of BatMan, Bob Crane. After they lost financing, she was talked into opening her own Talent Agency and her new company broke a 25 year long monopoly in the Talent game.
The first commercial Jaki was in charge of casting made $36,000 in royalties – this caught the eye of Mr. Frank Sinatra! Mr. Sinatra requested a meeting with Jaki because he was helping, Marlene Ricci – whom was his opener at the time, acquire an agent. That was the start of her 45 year career working in Las Vegas, where she is one of the top (and preferred) vendors at Ceasar’s and The Wynn. Jaki has since produced TV segments, booked stars to take to Italy for the Telegatto, and filled sears for the Oscar’s for the last 18 years! She has worked with Stallone, Gene Hackman, Tom Selleck, Kevin Costner, Sharon Stone and so many more!
Discovery Channel also featured Jaki in a tv segment on Casino Diaries where they named her one of the Top Celebrity Star Brokers in the world and named her “Queen of Las Vegas!”
There are just so many things written about marketing that it becomes even more complicated to figure out how best to do it. Great thing that this episode’s guest has the WHY of Make Sense, and he is driven to solve complex situations, especially in marketing. Join Dr. Gary Sanchez as he interviews Michael Fishman, a growth advisor to founders, leader of Consumer Health Summit, and a strategic angel investor. Here, Michael lets us in on how he helps companies with their marketing as well as build their brands through the right message. He wades through the complexities and shares the most important word you need to know in marketing. Hint: it’s not the word “free.” Full of insights on business and psychology, Michael gives us a show full of wisdom to add to our tool belt. Don’t miss out on them by tuning in to this conversation!
Watch the podcast here
Listen to the podcast here
Build Your Brand With The Right Messaging And Marketing With Michael Fishman
This is a great episode you’re going to love. I get to interview Michael Fishman. He is a marketing strategist. You will find him fascinating. He helped companies like Bulletproof, Athletic Greens, Thrive Market, The DNA Company, BrainTap, and Prevention Magazine to build their brands through the right messaging. His specialty is messaging. In this episode, he shares with us how he does that and the most important word that you need to know in marketing. It’s not the word free. You will see what it is in this episode. I have seven pages of notes from listening to Michael Fishman. You’re going to love it. Let me know what you think. Enjoy this episode.
In this episode, we’re going to be talking about the Why of Make Sense to make sense of things, especially if they’re complex and complicated. If this is your why, then you are driven to solve problems and resolve challenging or complex situations. You have an uncanny ability to take in lots of data and information. You tend to observe situations and circumstances around you and then sort through them quickly to create solutions that are sensible and easy to implement.
Often you are viewed as an expert because of your unique ability to find solutions quickly. You also have a gift for articulating solutions and summarizing them in understandable language. You believe that many people are stuck and that if they could make sense of their situation, they could develop simple solutions and move forward. In essence, you help people get unstuck and move forward.
I’ve got a great guest for you. His name is Michael Fishman. He’s a growth advisor to founders, the leader of the Consumer Health Summit founder community and a strategic Angel investor. From his early twenties after earning a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and Biology from Binghamton University, he knew that helping companies that help people to feel better, perform better, and live longer would be the focus of his professional life. This is his purpose to advise founders for whom the currency of success is impact, with valuation and financial awards, a natural by-product.
For many years, he has been a leading advisor to founders on marketing, positioning, and accelerated customer-centric business growth, helping to grow businesses, many from inception such as Bulletproof, Athletic Greens, Thrive Market, The DNA Company, Suggestic, BrainTap and Rodale Prevention and Men’s Health publishing brands, as well as many of the leading personal brands who serve large online customer communities. Michael, welcome to the show.
I’m honored to be here, Gary. Thanks for the honor.
This is going to be fun. There was a lot more to your bio that we’re going to get into because it was about a page and a half long, but I would rather have us talk about it than read about it. Michael, tell everybody where are you at. What town are you in?
I’m in Paradise Valley, Arizona, which is adjacent to Scottsdale and Phoenix.
Let’s go back to your life. Let’s start with when you were younger. Where did you grow up? What were you like in high school?
I grew up in Queens, which is part of New York City. In high school, I was insecure, shy, tentative, and cautious. I had a bunch of friends but not the cool kids. I was on the tennis team. That was a passion. That sums it up.
You played tennis. Were you much of a problem solver at that time? Did your close friends come to you and ask you to help them with different things that they were dealing with?
I don’t think so. I started to develop a sense of self and the ability to be introspective and to learn what was residing within my heart, my soul and my range of capabilities came early in my college years. I had a few friends in high school. I could see the beginning or the germination of that part of me, but it certainly wasn’t well-developed nor did it have a lot of self-expression.
When you were young, let’s say 5 to 10 years old, was there a time when you had to grow up fast and solve problems that might be coming that a typical kid didn’t have to deal with?
I think so. I don’t know how well I solved them with your prowess and training. Some of what I experienced, I turned against myself or located or experienced some feelings of insufficiency. My dad is still on the planet. He wasn’t physically hurtful but he was very loud and scary. I learned at around that time to sense people’s physiology, their faces, their voices and all the nuances of how people show up.
I was looking for danger signs, which is something, as you can appreciate, that I still have a sensitivity for. There were some survival skills there handled very poorly or not at all. Every child has something. What I experienced wasn’t tragic but at the same time, it was consistent and hurtful in many ways, and something to dive into and explore later on.
That’s what’s common about people that have the why of make sense. That’s why I asked you that. For those of you that are reading, I didn’t pull that question out of nowhere. It’s very common for somebody good at solving problems and figuring things out quickly. At a very young age, they had to do that. Oftentimes, it was a situation like what you’re talking about where a parent was a challenge in one way or another.
When they come home, you’ve got to quickly figure out, “What’s happening? Are they having an issue or not? What do I have to do? Whom do I have to protect?” It’s all that stuff. The reason I asked you that is that oftentimes, that then translates into how they are in middle school and high school, but you were saying that maybe in high school, that hadn’t come out quite as much yet until you got to college.
It’s interesting because in middle school, I was quite talkative. I was always academically quite strong. In my house, you had to be. That was the focus of everything. I would get very high marks academically and then I would get a U for Unsatisfactory Conduct. There was a talkative and garrulous side to me that was consistent in middle school. It felt like it surfaced in middle school around the time of puberty but then in high school, I went back underground because it resided within me. It wasn’t like I was editing it or containing it. I closed it and threw out the key. It’s that kind of survival tactic.
My mom in high school at 15 or 16 noticed me getting frustrated, tense, or angry. She would see me grip my teeth and stuff those emotions, whatever they were because there was no space to say them. There was no safety or space to express it so I would bury it. I’m always committed to allowing to be open and allowing for that healthy self-expression and not being loud and not disproportionate expressions of anger but allowing myself to feel and to say what I’m feeling in an effective way.
You graduate from high school. You went off to college. Where did you go to college?
Binghamton University, which is one of the state universities in New York.
What was that experience like for you?
That was a great experience. That was my first taste of what we could call freedom being on my own, living in the dorms for two years and then in a rented house in my junior and senior years and making friends, a few of whom I still have. I went to university at seventeen and a half. That was fantastic. At that time, I considered myself to be sensitive, which was a euphemism for a victim.
That was when I began to go inward, feel and express inside of a frame of locating myself as the victim of my childhood and situations. Instead, I later learned to be the effect to be at cause, and also to not interpret or assign different aspects of insufficiency to myself as an outcome of things that had happened. There’s what happened and then there’s the story you tell yourself about what happened. That’s very familiar to you. I later learned about the facts, the story we attached to the facts, and the power of the collapsing of the two.
I was always a science student. I was a decent writer in English and so forth, but science seemed to be the natural affinity for me like biology and chemistry. Nobody pushed me there. It was always the focus even in high school. That’s where I did any specialty work that I could. One of the summers during my undergraduate years, I studied at Cornell’s Marine Laboratory, which is about 10 miles out in the ocean off of Maine. That was my academic major but I took as many electives as I could in Shakespeare, jazz history, writing, and other sorts of things. That appealed to me very naturally because I have a right-brain and left-brain bridge in many respects. Art, design, creativity, writing, and music light me up big time.
You graduate from college and then off to your career. What was your first job out of college?
My first job was working in a number of record companies. During my university years in addition to my academic work, I was involved with the radio station. I was on the air for four years with a regular show of jazz programming. I worked for a number of record labels in New York. I was writing record reviews and interviewing musicians for several different music magazines at that time. That lasted about a year.
If I knew then what I knew now about perseverance and stamina, I would have stayed in that field. I certainly have no regrets but when I was 22 and the music business looked even then quite precarious, I pivoted and did something else, which led to where I am, which was to take an entry-level job in a marketing agency in New York.
You’re off to New York from there. What marketing firm was that? Was that one of the larger ones or an entry-level all the way around?
It was a very small marketing. This is pre-internet. This is in the early ’80s in direct response marketing and principally direct mail, which is in many respects a more sophisticated science than internet marketing because of the cost of physical mail. When you mail millions of pieces, you have to know you’re not going to get hurt. This was a firm in the mailing list business that was in a commodity mindset. There wasn’t a lot of thinking going on there. I didn’t have any mentors there but I found my way into marketing by realizing all on my own. It was hidden in plain sight. It was right there to see.
I saw it. It’s understanding what people will do when presented with a piece of mail or an ad online. What is that mechanism? What is that interface? What do the eyes do? What does the brain do? What is that person aware of? What are they not aware of? It’s all the conscious and unconscious dynamics of that moment when that piece of mail comes out of the mailbox at that time. The psychology and the dynamics of that were fascinating to me. When I dove into it on my own, self-taught, it enabled me to develop a reliable predictive power to understand what audiences would respond to what offers. That was the beginning of my work in the marketing world.
What do you mean by what audiences will respond to?
As an example, there are still magazines around although they’re not quite as robust as they used to be. When we open up a copy of Sports Illustrated, Cosmopolitan, or whatever your readers are enjoying, there are ads in the magazine. That’s ad revenue to that publisher. Companies pay money to put ads in magazines. In a very similar way, companies can pay for that same media. Let’s say Sports Illustrated, Cosmopolitan, or whoever. Other advertisers, instead of taking an ad in the pages of the magazine, can mail it to that readership and go direct to their mailbox.
As an example, one of my early clients was Prevention Magazine. It’s still a flagship product in the category. One of my first assignments was helping them to locate new prospect lists to mail and offer for Prevention Magazine. There were many lists of people that were reading other health publications. It stands to reason. If they’re reading this other newsletter on health, they have an interest in health. They might say yes to Prevention but the other thing that I came to realize also is that, unlike a lot of things we could mention like birdwatching, quilting, or woodworking, those are niches.
If you want to sell something in those categories, you need to find people who do it because you’re not going to convince anybody to start by asking them to read your magazine but we all are going to deal with health at some point. You can start taking good care of yourself in your 20s, 30s, and 40s to prevent all the stuff that could happen later or maybe you’re 60, 70, or 80 and you have certain health challenges. Either way, I was able to show them even in my early twenties. I thought, “Health isn’t a niche. Health is everybody sooner or later.” We can mail to other kinds of lists other than lists having anything to do with health.
We know that the people on that list are the same set of characteristics that read Prevention. Let’s say they’re women in their 60s or 70s. Let’s say they have been known to purchase something through the mail before, which is an important behavioral precedent. I was able with a high degree of accuracy to help them grow their business and ultimately grew a $400 million book business behind the Prevention flagship brand by understanding, A.) Health is not a niche and B.) What other kinds of prospect lists can we mail to or promote that will say yes in numbers as robust as mailing a list of people known to be reading about their health?
You figured out a better way by thinking outside the box to come up with something that’s going to work better.
They had a number of limiting beliefs. The most suffocating of which was that they had to locate people who had previously expressed an interest or shown an interest in their health. To me, that was unnecessary because I surmised that everybody deals with their health sooner. If you’re in your 30s, for the most part, you’re preventing things. If you’re in your 60s, 70s, or 80, you may have a challenge of 1 or more kinds. That one realization doesn’t mean I’m brilliant. I just noticed what they hadn’t noticed.
Once you did that for Prevention Magazine, did you stay at the same firm? Did you go to another firm or start your firm? What happened to you next?
I was at that firm for another year or two and then I moved over to another competing marketing firm. I was there for about twenty years before going out on my own a couple of years into the internet in the early 2000s. Amazon got cooking in ’97 or ’98 as a benchmark. In the early 2000s, I left the firm that I had been with for a little over twenty years and have been on my own since then.
At that time, I migrated over to eCommerce as well. The tactics and the specifics of the internet are very different from the tactics, specifics, and dynamics of offline marketing but the psychology is the throughline. As long as human beings are constituted the way we are, psychology will always be the constant that we can look at and rely on to communicate clearly, compassionately, and effectively.
What are some of the things that you’ve learned about psychology that are similar to offline and online marketing? Give us an example.
Every field has its lingo and jargon. No matter what field you might be in, there’s the tribal language and the language that the practitioners know. Newcomers are more than likely less fluent. As an example, I have a couple of guidelines for clear and compassionate communication, meaning not being nice to people but speaking in a way that they can understand and appreciate the value of what’s being said. One is to be not easily understood but impossible to misunderstand, which is a huge difference.
Another one is you want your prospects to understand you. You also want them to feel understood by you. It’s a big difference. The way that happens is they can understand you if they understand the words that you use to describe your business or the way you can help them. They feel understood by you when you use the words that they would use.
If you use a lot of words they never use, let’s say the phrase optimal wellness, there’s not a human being that ever went to a doctor and said they wanted optimal wellness but brands use the term all the time because it’s generally used in a desire to sound smart or legitimate to prove something. People might understand what optimal wellness means. They could understand you if you say that but they don’t feel understood by you because you don’t speak the same language.
If you say, “We’re going to help you feel so much better,” I get what that means and that’s how I would say it too. We’re connected because we linguistically are a match. Here’s another aspect of this. When we put words in front of people that they understand but don’t use, there’s a break that can understand you but they don’t feel understood by you because you’re not speaking the same language.
The other piece is if you put a word in front of them that they do not know. They don’t know what the word means. They don’t blame you or the brand that used that word. They blame themselves because that brand gave them a piece of evidence that day to confirm their feelings of insufficiency around their intelligence. If you use a word they don’t know at all, they don’t blame you. They blame themselves. They leave. They’re gone. We can all appreciate that any reminder of our feelings of insufficiency around intelligence and any experience that we’re not smart enough for is not a good feeling. No one would hang out for that.
These are some of the dynamics of language and being clear and compassionate that either engage people where they identify the relevance to them of what is being promised. The prefrontal cortex identifies relevance. The amygdala is where the fight or flight response generates. It tells that human animal, “You’re safe here.” The front of the brain and the back of the brain both give a green light and that brand, coach or person online has earned the right of the next few moments of that person’s life to say a little more but it requires the marriage of a green light in the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex.
It’s relevant. The animal experiences safety. A rattlesnake and a typeface can both be dangerous to the brain. Danger is danger. Consciously, we know a rattlesnake can hurt us. A picture on a website or a typeface can’t hurt us but there still is the amygdala with the fight or flight response to contend with. People don’t sit around conscious of that. They leave websites.
I hear you using the word feel an awful lot. That’s maybe not what is typically talked about or thought about when we’re talking about marketing. A lot of people are like, “How do you get them to take action? How do you get them to buy? Let’s get them to buy.” You talk a lot about feelings. Why is that?
Thanks for noticing. I hadn’t noticed. Most businesses are online or at least have an online component. Whether you’re serving 100 clients or millions of clients, I see that business, not as your property, is a dialogue between the brand or the individual and each person that comes to that web platform. In a relationship, there are feelings of safety, relevance, hospitality, compassion and kindness.
Part of it is feelings because you can ask people, “We got the supplement on time. It helped your headaches. You got it on time. It did what it was supposed to do. How do you feel about the relationship with this business? Did you feel that they took good care of you? Were things happening for you? Were things happening to you? Was there service? Was there hospitality? Did you feel honored throughout that process?”
That’s what creates the continuation and ultimately the longevity of relationships. I would suggest it’s how people feel about it. Even if they don’t sit around thinking about it or say it that way, that’s what’s required. “I feel this is valuable. This product helped me.” I love the question. Thank you for noticing. A lot of the continuation of business relationships is either with consumers or professional relationships in a coach and a client or a lawyer and a client. If we look, people stay in those relationships or don’t because of how they feel.
People care how you make them feel. I don’t think that most people notice that or pay attention to it. I’m sure that I don’t enough because it’s not in the forefront as you’re talking about. It sounds like there are certain questions that you ask before a piece were to go out, publicized or put out to the market. There are certain criteria that it has to pass before. I need your blessing on this, Michael. Are there certain things that it needs to pass to get by you?
I haven’t touched a piece of direct mail in many years. Everything I do is eCommerce but still, the answer is yes. Here’s a very interesting thing. No matter what the offering is, it could be coaching, a health product, a fitness product, legal services, or house cleaning. The special point of differentiation is what I call the flag on the moon. You go to the moon and put your flag down. You’re the only one there. It’s just you. What is your flag on the moon? What is your point of differentiation that makes you special, unique, different, better, or whatever that point of superiority or something in the marketplace that’s different, new, and more effective?
However, if you articulate that point of differentiation in a way that still sounds like all the noise out there, you become dismissible because the newness and the innovation in what you’re describing get missed. The voice of your brand or the board the voice of what you’re saying even as a professional sounds like the rest of the clutter and noise that’s out there. Not only is it important to express the point of differentiation but to say it in a way that stands out and doesn’t sound like the whole chorus that’s out there. You can be different but still, be dismissible if you sound like everybody else. I’m always looking for the point of differentiation. Does it stand out in its category by having contrast to all those voices that are out there that sound similar?
What I heard you say was you need to have a point of differentiation said differently.
You said it better than I did. Thank you.
You said that but I wrote it down. I don’t know if you said that but it’s interesting. It’s a point of differentiation said differently. Would you have an example that you can think of? I’m catching you off guard but is there an example of one that you can think of or a company that was struggling before in standing out and differentiating themselves and then they went through and worked with you and you created a different way to differentiate them?
We’re working with a company in what we call the ready-to-drink space, meaning you can go to Whole Foods and buy a can or a beverage. This uses the ingredient kava, which is a plant product. It’s not a recreational product. All it does is have a relatively minor calming effect. The language we’re working with at the moment is, “Connect at your best.”
You can connect at your worst by consuming all kinds of other things. It’s the contrast to doing anything at your worst, intoxicated, messed up in some way or even disproportionately angry. Connect at your best. It tracks the origins of the product in the South Pacific, what it’s known for and some of its connections to spirituality, at least in terms of its origins from where it comes from.
That’s one example. I have so many. I’m advising a doctor in Florida who treats men. The message there is, “Be your absolute best again.” Any man 40 or 50 at least can point to something even minor, “I used to be stronger. I used to have more stamina,” or whatever it might be. Be your absolute best again. Another great example is no longer in use but it worked and measurably performed for many years for women’s hormones. As we have all heard and hopefully not experienced, when women’s hormones are in dysregulation, there’s a lot of physical and emotional discomfort for her and many times the people around her. This tagline was, “For women, at home in your body, at last.”
For a lot of women in that position, their body feels like an opponent, almost like enemy territory. The words, “At home in your body,” are soothing. “At home in your body, at last.” What did the two words ‘At Last’ mean? They’re acknowledging all the years of frustration, pain, and discomfort when the problem was not handled. Those two words ‘At Last’ are a huge acknowledgment of the months or even years when the problem wasn’t effectively addressed.
I’ll say one last thing if I can about that. A lot of marketers or people in marketing will tell you, “The most powerful word in marketing is free.” I know all about this. I grew up in free in direct response but starting things with free creates an expectation ongoing in that relationship. People have an expectation for more free, discounts and this sort of thing.
Not only individuals but brands have a soul. Brands have a voice. For me, the most important, effective, and powerful word in marketing is ‘Let’s’ because it immediately indicates a partnership, “Even if I never meet you, and I read your blog, or I buy your online course, let’s get you healthy again. Let’s get you all the success you ever wanted. Let’s have your relationship be happier.” Anytime someone sees ‘Let’s’ without thinking about it, they know that we’re going to do it together, “Let’s go skiing. Let’s go to the movies.” There’s togetherness and partnership. It immediately takes away from that person that they were in it alone.
When did you realize how powerful ‘Let’s’ is?
I don’t use it every day, but it’s always one of my number one favorite words. I don’t put it everywhere that I go as an advisor. I’m going to say it’s easily a decade. I was working with a woman who’s a founder of a health coach training program. This line is no longer in use either but it was extremely met and measurably productive. Her field or area is nutrition, fitness, and weight loss. The line that we came up with was, “Let’s discover what you’re really hungry for.” Really was in italics, indicating it’s not food.
It’s love, affirmation, and safety. Love, affirmation, and safety pretty much cover it. Acknowledgment. As you can appreciate, those don’t sound like the stuff you run into all day long in those categories. You can’t look away. Once you hit that line if it’s relevant to you, there’s a pattern disruption. You’re not scrolling or swiping. All of that frenetic energy stops because it pierced your heart and soul.
I’ve got six pages of notes that I’ve had since we started.
I’m very flattered. I hope they’re yours to use.
Thank you. How do you go about helping someone discover, develop, create, manifest or whatever word you use for their tagline?
I’m very grateful for the question. It’s a very important question because most coaches, advisors, professionals and brands either sit in a boardroom or go to the Bahamas for three days and brainstorm it on a whiteboard. It’s all well-intended. I’m not knocking it. There’s a better way. Others will pay an agency a lot of money to say, “Please tell me who I am.” In my experience, because I always work with a scoreboard, I want the measurability that what I’m doing is performing mathematically and financially.
I don’t believe taglines are composed. When they’re clever or kitschy or when they sound like they came from a boardroom, they don’t. There’s plenty that came from a boardroom that is out there working but by and large, especially since every company has a voice and a soul, I would suggest taglines are at their most powerful and penetrating to the heart and soul of the reader if they’re not composed so much as they are revealed.
If it was you, Gary, I would say it lives inside you. In the next few hours or the next day or two, we’re going to locate it like an archaeological dig. You brush away the sand and the pebbles and then you find the gleaming jewel that was buried in the sand. I’ve done this probably 40 or 50 times in recent years. This isn’t the gospel truth. A fly on the wall would not see this but it’s a way to hold the process. We’re not composing it. We’re revealing it because it’s a deep inquiry into the heart and soul of the founder and why she or he is doing what they’re doing. There’s always a reason. I used the word feel quite a bit. I work with people on their taglines.
When I go through this process, let’s say I’m with someone and I hear a woman use the word freedom in a period of a few minutes. I’ll say, “I want to acknowledge. I’ve heard the word freedom a number of times in the last few minutes. What does freedom mean to you?” What does Feel mean to me? I’ll say, “What does freedom mean to you?” It’s partly hearing that word and noticing the pattern. It’s partly noticing their physiology. Are they joyous or somber? Are they crying? What do I see on their face that’s connected to the words that are coming out of their mouth, especially when there’s a pattern? I’ll say, “What does the word freedom mean to you?” We will go down that path.
I’m always listening and watching for patterns. Usually, the tagline will come out of the person’s mouth. They don’t even know it. They’re in a flow state. They’re speaking. All of a sudden, I’ll say, “What did you say? Say that again.” A lot of times, lightning hits the room. It’s done because it got revealed. It’s a promise to the world. It’s very clearly articulated. It passes every test some of which I shared. It passes every test you could throw at it. It originated in the heart and soul of a human being with a purpose. That’s why it lands so powerfully with the reader. How it reached the eyes and/or ears of the prospect connects as deeply as it originated.
It’s interesting because where we started is almost where we’re finishing. As a kid, you were put in a position of trying to figure out, “What’s going on here? What do I notice? What are the little things I’m picking up on to try to figure out what’s happening here? What are we trying to say here?” That’s what you’ve done your whole life. You’ve got systems and processes for it but you were doing it as a little kid.
Thank you for noticing that. I had not put those together. I’m very grateful for your observation. Thank you.
We do our why our whole life. It’s why I would choose you and what makes you special. For those of you that are reading, Michael’s why is to make sense of the complex and challenging. He does that by challenging the status quo, thinking outside the box, thinking differently, and pushing limits. Ultimately, what he brings is that trusting relationship where others can count on him. Michael, we’re running out of time so I want to make sure that you get an opportunity. If they’re saying, “I want to work with him. I want to follow him and see what he’s doing,” what’s the best way for people to get in touch with you? What kind of people would you like to get in touch with you?
I typically coach and advise founders not limited to but principally in wellness, fitness, or personal development on messaging, positioning, and business growth with some of the tools and things we have discussed. I’m advising a woman who in turn coaches executives and other people who get in front of other people on media and speaking skills. I’m advising an eCommerce site and golf apparel. They’re way up. If anybody feels an affinity for this work, I would invite you to reach out.
You don’t need to be in wellness, fitness, or personal development. If you’re on purpose and you’re passionate about what you do, it is a calling for you, and the currency of success for you is impact, I would be honored to talk to you. Please know that. My DMs are open on both Instagram and Twitter if you’re on either of those platforms. Most people have one or the other or both. That would be best.
Michael, thank you so much for being here. I thoroughly enjoyed this. I have seven pages of notes. You got me thinking differently. The little things or the choice of a word is so powerful that I’ve got to think more about it so that it’s on purpose versus not clear.
Thank you, Gary. I’m honored about this visit, for this conversation, and to have made a difference if I have. I point out things that are hidden in plain sight. Thank you for this honor. I enjoyed it.
It’s time for our new segment, Guess the Why. I’m going to pick Snoop Dogg. I don’t know a ton about Snoop Dogg. He’s a rapper. He has stayed relevant for a long time. He’s in a lot of commercials still. He’s well-liked by a lot of people. He doesn’t seem like he’s a big troublemaker or that he’s caught up in being a gangster and all that stuff, but that’s just my impression. I’m not sure. If I had to go with what Snoop Dogg’s why is, I’m going to go with contribute. It seems like he wants to help, be part of it, and help other people do better as well. It’s not only about him.
That’s my impression, and I may be wrong. I would love to hear what you think Snoop Dogg’s why is. Thank you so much for reading. If you’ve not yet discovered your why, you can go to WhyInstitute.com with the code, PODCAST50. Discover your why at half price. If you love the show, please don’t forget to subscribe below and leave a review and rating on whatever platform that you’re using because that will help get us to more people. I enjoy bringing the why and the WHY.os to the world so that we can have a bigger impact and help one billion people live their life on purpose. Thank you so much for reading. I’ll see you next time.
Leader of Consumer Health Summit founder community
Strategic angel investor
From my early 20’s, after earning a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and Biology from Binghamton University, I knew that helping companies who help people to feel better, perform better, and live longer would be the focus of my professional life. This is my purpose, to advise founders for whom the currency of success is impact, with valuation and financial rewards a natural by-product.
For over 30 years, I’ve been a leading advisor to founders on marketing, positioning and accelerated, customer-centric business growth, helping to grow businesses, many from inception, such as Bulletproof, Athletic Greens, Thrive Market, The DNA Company, Suggestic, BrainTap, and Rodale (Prevention and Men’s Health publishing brands) as well as many of the leading personal brands who serve large online customer communities.
Harnessing insights into psychology and linguistics, many my own, that enable compassionate communication and committed customer engagement has been my passion and a significant lens through which I view business growth.
Along these lines, how the founder’s origin story and personal work on their trauma history might impact their abilities to lead, articulate and craft work culture, and pivot their model when necessary, are strongly considered.
Also, I created the Consumer Health Summit founder community in 1994 as a private, invitation-only group for leading and early-stage founders who operate customer-centric businesses with both purpose and prowess. I’ve been leading the community and curating the participants and faculty at this annual gathering ever since. Business categories include fitness, supplements,
food/beverage, apps, wearables, health tech, home diagnostic testing, and others.
Members include founders of Bulletproof, Thrive Market, Oura Ring, ChiliPad, The Spa Dr., Jigsaw Health, Microbiome Labs, Upgrade Labs, Equi.Life, and The DNA Company. Revered faculty include partners from Mayfield Fund and Rothschild and Co., as well as psychology academics from Stanford and Harvard universities.
As a speaker, I share how the founder’s origin story, clear messaging, customer care and work culture combine to take companies from merely good to the admired best at what they do.
The world is complicated as it is. Why make life harder? If you are one that makes everyone else’s life easier, then you must have the WHY of Simplify just like today’s guest. Dr. Gary Sanchez is with Greg Scheinman. Greg has more than 20 years of experience launching and leading businesses to success. He takes us into his journey, following a path of the least resistance that led him to create Team Baby Entertainment, INSGroup, and ROW Studios. Currently, Greg is the Founder of The Midlife Male, a media company and performance coaching program helping men maximize middle age. He shares how he is simplifying how they can find success through what he calls the Six Fs. Find out how Greg is living a harmonious life and exploring authenticity. Learn to look at midlife from a much simpler view, seeing age not as something to fear about but something aspirational.
Watch the episode here
Listen to the podcast here
The WHY Of Simplify: Navigating Towards Midlife Success With Greg Scheinman
In this episode, we’re going to be talking about the why of simplify. It’s a veryrare why. If this is your why, you are one of the people that makes everyone else’s life easier. You break things down to their essence, which allows others to understand each other better and see things from that same perspective. You are constantly looking for ways to simplify from recipes you’re making at home to business systems you’re implementing at work. You feel successful when you eliminate complexity and remove unnecessary steps.
You like things direct and to the point, “Don’t give me the fluff, just hit me with the facts.” I’ve got a great guest for you. His name is Greg Scheinman. He has twenty-plus years of experience launching and leading businesses to success such as Team Baby Entertainment, INS Group, and Rose Studios. Team Baby was acquired by Michael Eisner. INS group was acquired by Baldwin Risk Partners. He is currently the Founder and face of Midlife Male, a media company and performance coaching program, helping men maximize middle age. His weekly podcast and newsletter reach 15,000 people. He is a bestselling author, coach, athlete, and most importantly, a husband and father to two amazing sons.Greg, welcome to the show.
It’s great to be here. Thank you for having me. That doesn’t sound as simple as you read.
You got to simplify that. Where are you right now? Tell everybody what city you’re in currently.
I’m in Houston, Texas. I have been in Houston, Texas for 21 years now. My wife was born and raised here. I am a born and raised New Yorker who happily has migrated and now has a life as a Texan.
Let’s go back to your life. Take us back to when you were in high school. What was Greg like in high school?
Right up until the end of high school, life was pretty simple. I was born and raised on the north shore of Long Island. We were in an upscale community. Mom and dad were together. I have two younger brothers. We’re privileged, very much so, with no hardship. We went to the school closest to our house. We went away every summer to camp and played ball up in New Hampshire. Life was very simple and good. I was popular in high school. By default, things came pretty easy to me back then.
Were you into sports?
I did sports. I was athletic. I swam and played tennis. Later on toward my sophomore, junior, and senior years of high school, I got very into fitness and lifting weights. I had knee surgery early, so it got me into lifting weights and taking care of myself. I’m always athletic and happy. In my senior year, my father got sick. He got cancer and ultimately passed away not long after. That’s when simple got very hard. Heading off to college was the first real trauma and the first real hardship, losing an actual father figure, the changing of the family dynamic, and going off on my own to college, all at the same time.
Where did you go to school?
In the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. It was the best school I got into. I wanted a big ten-atmosphere. It’s a great school. I knew a few people there. I had a good experience when I had gone out to visit. That was where the dividing line in the country was set. I didn’t want to be too far away from my mother at that point.
I don’t know if you heard what I said, but I said it’s too bad. The only reason I said it’s too bad is because I went to USC. USC has a big match-up with Michigan. I heard a lot from people that went to Michigan about those rivalries.
You guys are better than us for quite some time. Now we’re starting to get good again. When I was there, we were really good. We hit a rough patch for many years. We’re starting to get back again.
It’s the same with us. We hit a pretty rough patch and now we’re getting back. A lot of money is now being poured into it, good and bad. I don’t know how I feel about that. You’re at the University of Michigan, what did you major in there?
Partying and drinking. That was it for a while. I spiraled out of control while I was in college. I didn’t have anybody looking over me or paying attention to what I was doing. I’m short of making sure that I passed and continued to have school paid for and taken care of. I didn’t over-index in academics. I was a Communications major while I was there. I thought that I wanted to be in entertainment and film. I was gravitating towards anything that did not seem serious, and that didn’t seem like I had to put a lot of work in. I was the guy who was looking for the simple way, the easier way out, or the path of least resistance. Let me do what comes easily and naturally to me.
Did you end up with a degree in Communication?
I did. I also was in a rush for whatever reason to get out of there early. I ended up graduating in three and a half years rather than four, and staying and using the extra time to have more fun. It was always what’s easier. I could take a course that’s less challenging, pick up the credits, and get through it. I always thought I had to have the way. There had to be an angle. I did graduate early. From what I remember, it was a positive experience at school, but I was also dealing with a lot of personal trauma, loss, and grief that I wasn’t addressing.
You graduate with a degree in Communication early, then what happens to you? Were you off to get a job? Where did you go from there?
I guess that’s the path as a young man that you’re supposed to follow, which is graduate college. I come back to New York where I’m from and you’re supposed to get a job. What did I do? I wanted to get a job in the entertainment industry. I thought I wanted to be a film producer and get into that industry. I got an apartment in Manhattan, a shoebox-type apartment. I ended up getting my very first job right out of college as Harvey Weinstein’s assistant at Miramax Films.
I landed on Harvey’s desk right out of college as the number four assistant. I know somebody that knows somebody. The next thing I know, I’m there as assistant number four. When you think about mentorship or father figure or who is the next man in your life post-graduation, dad wasn’t around anymore, this was what I got hit in the face right out of school. I landed on Harvey’s desk as the number four assistant. Within a couple of months, I ended up being the number one guy. They promoted one and fired another that refused to travel with a female. The next thing I know, I’m the guy.
What is he like?
I guess one of my crowning moments was I have the distinction of having told Harvey to F-off 30 years before the #MeToo era. My rationale for that was my father would roll over in his grave if he knew I let somebody talk to me and treat me that way without taking care of the situation.
What do you mean by that?
This comes up a lot. I never saw Harvey do anything illegal. That being said, I believe everything that I’m hearing and everything that he’s doing. When I was with him, this goes back 30 years, he was a prick. He was already on the list of worst bosses to work for in America. All of it was there, but it had not transcended and crossed the threshold into illegal, immoral, or everything that has gotten him exactly where he deserves to be now. It was a completely inappropriate and hostile work environment.
I’m a 21-year-old kid and most people put up with it because they wanted to get promoted within the industry. I was either too egotistical, narcissistic, ego-driven, stupid, immature, or whatever to think that that was the only way I could succeed in the industry, or that could possibly hurt me if I got up and left, so I did it anyway. That’s what I did. I left, but I still ended up producing a few movies on my own. I accomplished my goal of dedicating them to my dad, seeing his name up on the screen, and doing that. It then became a little bit of, “Be careful what you wish for,” because it wasn’t what I wanted. It wasn’t the healthiest lifestyle. It wasn’t what I saw myself doing long-term.
What do you mean by that?
Early on, you don’t know what you don’t know. Because I didn’t have a family business to go into anymore, I didn’t have anybody necessarily advising me or mentoring me and getting great advice. I had this opportunity to try different things, good and/or bad, and wing it and be curious. I believed we’re bought into certain stereotypes, perceptions, or ideas that I thought, “It would be this,” and it turned out to be that once you tried it. I didn’t like the downtime between projects. Do you know what they say about acting and film sometimes, “They don’t pay you for the acting but they pay you for the waiting?” There’s a lot of time in development and waiting around. I’m somebody that requires a little bit more movement.
You leave Harvey Weinstein and you start doing some other movies yourself. Is that when you got into Team Baby Entertainment?
What happened was I thought I was going to get out of the entertainment industry. I made a few movies and sold them to a production company. From there, we had a little bit of runway. Ultimately, around that time, I met Kate, who is now my wife. We decided to relocate to Houston, Texas where she was from. I wanted to get out of New York, LA, and all the other Miami stuff that we had done. Houston was where she was born and raised and we decided to settle down here. That’s where the impetus for Team Baby came from.
When we had our first child, our oldest is 19 now, I’m there like a lot of entrepreneurs. Where do you get ideas and how do things happen? You’re sitting around with nothing to do. In this case, I have nothing necessarily to do but I know I need to do something because I now have a family to take care of. This runway is going to continue to get shorter if I do nothing. Sitting at home as a new dad, what are we watching? We’re watching Sesame Street and Baby Einstein. For reference, I’m 50 years old. Go back, give or take, 25 years at this point.
There’s picture-in-picture on these giant TVs. In one little tiny picture, I got ESPN on because that’s what I want to watch. In the big picture, you got the kid plopped down in front of you glued to Baby Einstein and Sesame Street. I’m sitting there going, “What if we combine these? There got to be other dads at home that like sports and saddling their kids overall. How do we brainwash them into becoming fans of our teams or using the things that we’re into to help our children or do this? It’s a win-win for both of us.” That was the impetus of Team Baby Entertainment. We created this line of sports-themed children’s DVDs that caught fire. If you were a Yankee fan, we had a baby Yankee DVD narrated by George Steinbrenner.
If you were a USC fan, we had Rodney Peete. Rodney Peete narrated our Baby Trojan DVD. Matthew McConaughey did the University of Texas. We created this whole line of children’s DVDs and that’s what blew up. I ended up partnering with Michael Eisner after he left Disney. We were the first acquisition he made. We’re building up the company for a period of years before ultimately selling the rest of it to him. He put it in with the Topps baseball card company, which he had acquired along the way. We saw quite a meteoric rise, and then we saw a collapse when the DVD market was changing and things were becoming app-based and going online. I got to see all sides of that. It was an interesting dichotomy in my identity.
From there, did you switch over to INS group?
I did the exact opposite. I decided to go from risk taker to risk manager. All this risk was making me stressed. I didn’t want to move back to New York. I didn’t have another million-dollar idea. We’re sitting back here in Houston, I have two children, and this rollercoaster of life is happening. I’m like, “What am I going to possibly do next?” This is a theme that has come up in my life a few times. When I don’t know what to do, I typically like to go out and talk to people.
If I don’t know the answers, let me start asking better questions to people that might be able to help me because I’m a simpleton. It’s like, “Give it to me simple.” I knew how to make things and how to produce things. That’s what I had always been doing. Here I am, back in Houston without an idea what to do again so I started a television show. I said, “I want people to talk to me. What’s the best way to get important people who are smarter than me and more successful to talk to me? Let me bring a camera and a microphone.” Typically, people like talking about themselves and want to do that.
I started calling very important people in and around the Houston area. I’m asking them if I could spend a day with them, “I have a television show. I interview entrepreneurs and risk-takers. I would love to come and spend a day with you and learn.” They started saying yes. This was Jamey Rootes who ran the Houston Texans. This was Deborah Cannon who ran Bank of America and was the Chairman of the Houston Zoo. The list went on and on. McClelland, who ran H-E-B, the largest chain of drugs store. I made a bucket list of whom you would want to talk to.
I then went to PBS. I said to PBS television here, “I’ve got a 30-minute talk show interviewing the top entrepreneurs and risk-takers in Houston. Can I put it on TV?” They were like, “What do you mean?” I’m like, “Seriously. I’m going to bring you fully completed episodes, 30 minutes long. Here’s the guest list. Here’s who’s on it. All I need is some airtime.” They’re like, “Okay, if you’re telling the truth.” They checked out my background. They’re like, “This guy actually has made some stuff. We’ll give you Thursdays at 7:00.”
I then went back to more people and said, “Now, I’m Greg for PBS. I’ve got 7:00 PM on Thursdays.” We ended up doing 24 episodes of this. Along the way, I joined INS Group which was short for Insurance Group. I was a client of the firm and I knew the principles for years. It felt like the least creative and least entrepreneurial thing I could possibly do after I had done everything I had done, but also seemed responsible as a man, as a husband, as a father, and as a provider.
Remember, this is what we’re supposed to do. We’re supposed to follow this path. I’m like, “Maybe this is the time I’m supposed to follow the path, residual income, build a book of business, and have somebody paying for my benefits and a 401(k) rather than me. These seem to be the right things to do.” We had a conversation. They encourage me to join the firm. They’re like, “You can ensure anything you want, Greg. You can make it as entrepreneurial as you want.” We became partners. I ultimately invested in the firm. That was the best move I’ve ever made in my life. I had been smart enough to work out an arrangement with them so that I could have a seat at the table.
If I achieved this, I could have equity. I was able to invest in the firm and achieve certain benchmarks. That turned out to be the best move I ever made. I used the talk show to interview these types of clients and prospective clients. I didn’t know that at that time, but that’s what it became. That’s how I built my book of business within the firm. I never controlled anything there. I was a smaller partner with incredibly smart people and successful people that surrounded me.
I learned a ton. It never was a great fit for me personality-wise, dress code-wise, office-wise, and everything. There’s a lot in my book about that and what I coach guys on. I work on now about authenticity, being able to differentiate yourself, and working within a system or getting out of it. I spent fourteen years there until the firm was acquired, which is what also allows me to do what I do now. It’s a longer answer than you want. Thank you for listening.
That’s good. For those of you that are tuning in, Greg’s why is to simplify, make things simple and easy to do, and understand. How you go about doing that is by challenging the status quo and thinking differently, and putting on no limits. Ultimately, what you bring is a way to contribute and add value to other people. Your why is simplify. Your how is challenge, and your what is contribute. Once you were done, it’s now INS Group.
I used to represent a slaughterhouse in Corpus Christi, Texas. This is when I knew that this business was not for me the way that I was doing it. I would have to go down to Corpus Christi, Texas, and I represented a slaughterhouse down there. I would show up at the gate to have a meeting there. I would hand them my card and they would see INS on the card.
In Corpus Christi, Texas at a slaughterhouse that employs 2,000 people, the security would radio to the back. You would see people leaving and running out because they thought the INS was there as opposed to the guy who was the insurance agent. The card design was wrong and the pronunciation was constantly wrong. I would’ve to tell them, “Your people could all come back. Nobody is getting deported today.”
You’re out now of INS group and now you’re onto your next thing, which is Midlife Male. Let’s talk about that for a minute. What is that about?
What happened during my time at INS Group was I continued to search for a way to bring creativity to a professional service business. The way I operate and think is different from most out there. While I want things to be simple, efficient, and effective, the manner in which I go after simplicity is hard for certain people to understand. This was always part of the bone of contention, even with my partners and so on. I have a tough time doing “things.” To me, it seems like the normal way to do things the way I want to do them. Habitually, I can do that consistently but that seems a little bit different out there. What happened was I started writing. The TV show became a podcast.
People stopped watching TV and PBS. My book of business got big and podcasts became big. I said, “I’ll start a podcast,” so the TV show became a podcast. Those conversations on the podcast started to transcend business and insurance, and become very deeply personal. I wasn’t interested that much in insurance. I was interested in personal connection, networking, content creation, relationship building, and all of that, That’s where the conversations went. I rebranded under this moniker. I still don’t know who coined the term midlife male. These are conversations with midlife males and it’s like, “That’s like you.” I was like, “Okay,” so I kept it.
I rebranded around the moniker of Midlife Male and the podcast became a newsletter. It started going out every week, which was like a tree falling in the woods for a while. It was therapeutic. It was a way for me to express myself. I talked about redefining and reframing success. What was happening to me was that the metric for success was not salary and title, and what I had been taught to believe in chasing these things. It was a more holistic view of what success looks like in happiness. I was finding myself. I was looking and leaning into what that authenticity was.
When you chase authenticity where it does not exist, it’s exhausting. I found myself exhausted constantly. What salary and title became was what I started to call my six F’s. It was Family, Fitness, Food, Finance, Fashion, and Fun. These were the things that I was interested in. These were the guys I would bring on the show. I would then write about what I learned from these conversations, and how I could aggregate it from everything out there. I curate it down to what landed with me in the simplest ways and then eliminate everything else to create a personal operating system, and a way for me to live that seemed like it simply made sense.
That started getting read by people and circulated around. The podcast started getting listened to. The combination of the podcast and the newsletter, 100 episodes later, became my book. We’re 200 episodes and growing. That became a coaching program for guys reaching out and saying, “Can you help me?” That has gotten into speaking and it’s this combination of this why and how, which is so brilliant with what you do and taking the assessment. Having to take the assessment into the why is so interesting and so fascinating.
We hear so much about finding your why. What I get is they found their why. I get why you want to be a better husband. I get why you want to be a better father. I get why you want to be in better shape. Where a lot of these guys are getting hung up is on the how. That’s a lot of what Midlife Male and what I’m doing is structured for. How can I help men maximize middle age in the how portion? I help you find and identify your why. A lot of the guys I see, they’ll have it or they’ll do something. Now, how do we go from why into how and into implementation? What are the daily positive action steps that are going to get you to realize that why and the outcome that you’re looking for?
We got to get real on this stuff. Can you quit your job and follow your passion? It theoretically sounds great, but it might be the most galactically irresponsible thing you can possibly do in middle age if you don’t have any money and you got kids and an overhead. How can we strategically and tactically make a plan for you to transition or do certain things? There’s a lot of white space between being overweight, out of shape, not moving, and being jacked and physically fit.
How do we make these steps and set them up so that it’s realistic, quantifiable, achievable, and measurable? To me, it’s super interesting stuff that’s out there. That’s what the conversations and the coaching are about. All of this is designed to provide hope and possibility. More importantly, the probability and likelihood of succeeding once you also know what success looks like to you.
How do you define success now?
For a while, I thought it was about needing to reinvent myself. What I’ve learned now is that it’s more about releasing myself than it is about reinvention. It’s about acknowledging and recognizing what fills my tank and what empties it. Back to my six F’s, they are my balanced or harmonious allocation of what my life’s portfolio looks like versus over-indexing in any one area. It’s following the five rules that I created and live under which provide simplicity, structure, and a framework.
Knowing what’s important is the most important. For me, that always starts with family, my wife, and my two boys, breaking the cycle of what I went through with my father, my brother, and other situation, with health, sustainability, and longevity. Finance and money are super important to be successful. How much do you need to do what you want to do, when you want to do it, and with who you want to do it? That is it in terms of success for me.
There’s other fun stuff that is a marker of success. What do you put on your body? What do you put in your body? These things matter. They matter to me. Are we having any fun? What are we doing any of this for if we’re not having any fun? To me, success looks like all of those things. It’s revisiting them every single day to remind myself that it is about what you’re doing and living every day, and not this destination or outcome that is seemingly out of reach or so far ahead. That’s what gets lost so much in the definition of success. It’s defined by outcome, achievement, or a milestone moment, and it’s not.
Success is being able to live your message every day and having those normal days that feel good to you. My wife and I were talking about it because Sunday was a nice day for us and it didn’t involve anything special. It didn’t involve spending a lot of money or we weren’t on vacation at some beach. There were no rainbows and unicorns or anything, but it was just a nice day. We exercised, I got the car washed, we walked the dogs, and had breakfast. She went out and did some of her stuff. I went out and did some of my stuff. We regrouped and had a nice wine. We’re like, “This is a nice day. How many of these can I string together?”
I love your take on balance. If you want to accomplish something in your life, does balance exist?
It’s a double-edged sword. It’s a fantastic subject and a fantastic question. I love this area. It’s like consistency. What does it look like? Are we talking about balance in a day? Are we talking about a balance over a year? Are we talking about balance in our overall life? It’s the same thing with consistency. What does it look like? I can say I want to be consistent and work out seven days a week. To me, that’s perfection, not consistency. I’m never going to be perfect. Does consistency look like seven days a week or I’m failing, or does it look like I look at my schedule, Monday off, Tuesday with my trainer, Wednesday yoga, Thursday off, and Friday? I can literally look at it and go, “That’s what consistency and that’s what success looks like.”
It’s the same with balance. Overall balance is BS. Harmony is a better word overall. I think that balance needs to be looked at contextually. If I say, “I’m going to sleep 7 to 8 hours at night. I’m going to spend 30 minutes in my sauna, do three minutes in my cold plunge, eat perfect breakfast, lunch, and dinner, exercise for an hour, do a podcast with Gary, rehearse my keynote, be the ultimate father and husband, and do all these,” there is no way that could be perfectly balanced. I can hit everything, but I’m going to burn out from that. That’s not balance in a day.
If I say, “In a week, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to exercise five times a week. I’m going to take two days a week off. I am going to sign in for the cold plunge. I’m going to do it four times a week. I got three days that I can miss throughout. I am going to attend 90% of my son’s games. I am going to record a podcast on Monday. I’m going to do my newsletter on Friday and coach my clients in between.” When you start to stretch it out, back to making it simple, achievable, measurable, and quantifiable, now you can have harmony. We underestimate what we can do in a year, and we significantly overestimate what we can do in a day.
That’s what trips a lot of people up, especially in the hustle and grind 24/7, sleep when I’m dead, and social media pressures of seeing everybody doing so much. I look at some of these guys’ morning routines and I’m like, “I’m exhausted.” Seriously, I couldn’t do that. I look at them going to bed routine or the evening routine. How is this sustainable? Some guys might have bigger engines. Everybody’s got a different bandwidth or capacity, but that’s what the system is set up to do. It is to figure that out. What success looks like for you is different than it does for me, and so on and so forth. The rules still apply. The framework in the system still works. You get to develop your own personal operating system by following these rules.
It gets back to that saying, “What’s the best exercise you could possibly do or the one you will do?”
That’s exactly right. There is no perfect way to eat. There’s no one way to do anything. There’s no one way to be successful. There’s one way to fail when you stop trying and learning. There’s an easy way to fail, but the beauty of this is that there are so many ways to succeed. How do we know that? Look around. At this point, I’ve interviewed 200-plus of the most successful men on the planet. Every one of them does something different.
Fundamentally, they operate very similarly whether that’s morals, ethics, structure, preparation, consistency, and accountability. What they do for a living, their backgrounds, family situation, and financial situation, all of these things are different. I can promise you this. If you put them all in a room, they’re going to get along. What makes them part of the same tribe or like-minded men are these other character attributes that have made them successful. They’re also going to be in there talking about their shortcomings and their failures and not their successes, and sharing and helping the other guy.
Those are almost universally consistent with everybody that comes on. Is there anything I can’t ask you about? I always ask that question too. Is there anything you don’t want me to ask about? Is there anything you don’t want to talk about? I have never got one, “Do me a favor. Don’t talk to me about this.” They’re like, “I’m an open book. Bring it. I’ll talk about anything.”
Greg, last question. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever given or the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?
That’s good. I need to use that too. That’s a good question. This might be the best piece of advice I’ve ever gotten. It’s to use this question if you want to learn something. I don’t think it’s a singular piece of advice. I’m going to try to answer your question as directly as I can. My dad wrote me a letter shortly before he passed away. In that letter, it said, “There may be men out there with more money than I have, but there is nobody richer than I am when I look at you and your two brothers.” I’ve held onto that as far as what’s important. I thought that was good advice.
The metric for success is not purely monetary. My dad was a successful guy for the majority of his life, but it put things in perspective for me. That letter sits on the side of my bed where I sleep and on the wall, right next to where I am. It has helped me with my two boys and focusing on what’s important. Live your legacy, not wait until you’re gone. That was the best advice. As far as maybe the best advice I’ve ever given, it’s the same. I would take that statement and pay it forward.
I see and work with a lot of men who unfortunately I feel are squandering their time. They’re missing those big moments, the small ones, and the ones that add up with their kids and their wives. They’re choosing to stay in the office a little bit later versus making it to that game. They’re choosing to let the other dad coach because they’re too busy. They think that sponsoring the team is the same as being around the team. They think that it’s a one-week vacation in Mexico when it’s the other 51 weeks that matter. To your point about balance or harmony, we go back to rule number one, “Knowing what’s important is the most important.”
It sounds a lot like it’s being the man in the arena.
It absolutely is. It is about living your message. First, you got to understand who you are and what your message is. My book goes into this a lot. You got to get real, raw, naked, and vulnerable. Take that real hard one look in the mirror and decide what kind of guy you want looking back at you. None of us start with perfect and it’s never going to be, but what are you willing to do each day to get better, have your actions match your words, or get that reflection to feel differently? I love that phrase, “You got to be in the arena.”
The man in the arena versus the critique on the side talking about the activity, you’re the man in the arena doing it.
It’s also like the Jim Rohn quote, “The signature of mediocrity is not an unwillingness to change. The signature of mediocrity is chronic inconsistency.” I get that you want to change. I don’t even think it’s the chronic inconsistency. I think you are consistent. You’re just consistently making the wrong choice. How can we take the willingness to change and what you’re consistently doing or not doing and put them in the right order and the right prioritization? You got all the skills to do it.
Are you finding that people are not willing to explore authenticity until they’ve experienced enough pain? Is it related to the amount of pain they’ve experienced or the loss they’ve endured? I don’t know if I’m asking this correctly, but is it an avoidance of pain or wanting to seek pleasure that allows people to explore authenticity?
One of the answers I give most frequently is maybe or it depends. Who’s to say what somebody’s degree of pain or trauma is and what’s real to them? The other saying is, “If you take all your problems and throw them out on the table and we all put them out there, what are you going to want? You’re going to want your own back.” I’ve got death in mind. My brother went to prison. I struggled with alcoholism and body image. Throw it all out there. I don’t know what everyone else is throwing out there, but I do know how to at least handle mine to an extent and work on that.
I do think of a few things on there. I feel like the younger guys that reach out to me, and when I say younger guys, I’m seeing a lot more guys in their 30s that are successful but are looking at 40 and they want to see what’s around them. They do not want to go in down that midlife crisis path. They’ve seen it either in their father figures, their fathers, their fathers-in-law, or their bosses. They’re much more proactive in addressing vulnerability, authenticity, and emotion, asking for help, and looking around, “Can you save me $500,000?” I have a lot of respect for that.
In a lot of those cases, they’re not unpacking a lot of baggage. They’re not saying, “I’m coming to the table with all these problems, trauma, and everything.” It’s like, “This is important stuff to pay attention to. I want to avoid trauma, pain, and loss. What can I do to learn and get ahead?” It’s not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength to talk about these things and to get ahead of them.
The guys right smack in their 40s in a lot of ways are very set in their ways and not as comfortable with admitting, “We don’t have all the answers. We’re not who we thought we were going to be. This is not where I thought how I was going to be living. This is not what I thought I was going to look like.” They struggle with opening up on that. They’re trying to continue to do the same things and expect a different result.
The guys in their 50s are coming out the other side. They’re like, “I’ve weathered the storm in a way. Now what? I do have some money. My kids are out of the house. I’ve been married for many years. What do I do for fun?” On that authenticity side, “What do I want to do now?” That takes work to figure out. “I used to think I like to paint.” “Why don’t you try painting again?” We give up hobbies, passion, and things because we think that’s what we’re supposed to do when time and life get in the way. How do we bring some of those things back authentically? Take some work. Go back and figure out who you are.
Is there such a thing as avoiding a midlife crisis? Is it even healthy to avoid it?
We feel like we have to put a name or a title on everything. I know some very old 30-year-olds and I know some very young 60-year-olds out there. I don’t think that it’s just about a number. I get asked all the time where middle age is. Men’s Health put out an article and they say it’s 37 based on a life expectancy of 75. It’s not as simple. Is it a real thing? Yes. Does it affect guys at different ages and stages of their lives? Absolutely. Can you avoid it? 100%. Can you get out of it and course correct if you’re right smack in the middle of it? Absolutely. Is it a death sentence? No.
Can you start seeing aging as not something to fear but something aspirational? Absolutely. I believe all of these things are true. We just have to embrace possibility and probability. It’s not going to happen by default. It’s going to happen by design, and you have to be willing to do the work. I genuinely believe my best days are in front of me, not behind me. I believe I have more energy at 50 than I had at 30. I feel I know where I’m going now more clearly than at any other point.
All of those take a lot of time. It still takes constant work, constant reinforcement, conversations with men like you, going back and revisiting the why, adopting and working on the how, testing and retesting over and over again, and believing that that’s also where the magic happens. It’s not, “This is where I have to be at 55.” As Jesse Itzler says, “Be where your feet are.” It’s like, “This is where I am right now on Monday at 3:00 in the afternoon. The phone is on Do-Not-Disturb.” Spend some more time being present and engaged. When we get off this, this energizes me versus drains me.
We don’t spend enough time taking our own temperature on things. Don’t you like the way you feel around certain people? Maybe you shouldn’t be spending so much time around them. Don’t you like that activity? Maybe you should cut back on that activity. A lot of those things are scary if we think we got to change our peer group. Maybe, but you can. That’s the other thing. You truly can. My friends, my peers, my lifestyle, and my actions now are very different than they were 10 years ago. It’s very different than they were 5 years ago, and they’ll be different 5 years from now.
Greg, if there are people that say, “I love what you’re talking about and the whole idea of having someone to coach me through this process,” what’s the best way for people to get in touch with you, follow you, and see what you’re up to?
You can buy the book on Amazon. That’s where everybody is getting their books these days. You can buy your copy of the Midlife Male at Amazon. There’s an Audiobook version. I try to be accessible to everybody out there and understand that we are all in this together. I’m no different than the guys that I am coaching, speaking to, writing to, and working with. We’re just sharing experiences.
Greg, thank you so much for being here. I appreciate you taking the time to be on the show. I look forward to following you because I am that midlife male. I’m probably a little past midlife male, but it’ll be fun to follow you.
Not by the way you act. As I say, we’re all in this. We’re right there. What are guys like me looking for? We’re always looking ahead too. That’s the awesome part. Thank you so much, Gary. I appreciate it.
It is time for our new segment, which is Guess Their Why. My wife and I have been watching the series, The Crown. If you haven’t seen The Crown, it’s about Queen Elizabeth. At least so far, it’s all about Queen Elizabeth. She took over the reins of England when she was in her early 20s. She recently passed away. I wonder if you know anything about her, what do you think her why is? I can tell you what I think based on what I’ve seen so far. She thinks differently, pushes the limits, and changed things to the way that she wanted and were different than what was typical or traditional.
They didn’t have a woman leading these older men at that time. Here she comes along in her early 20s, has to figure things out, and make some big changes. I believe that her why is to challenge the status quo and think differently. My wife has the same why, challenging. She’s very much similar to her and connects with her, at least on what we’re seeing on TV. What do you think? Does that jive with what you are seeing?
Thank you so much for tuning in. If you’ve 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’re using and I will see you in the next episode.
Greg Scheinman has experienced the highest highs— two seven-figure exits from companies he founded or helped build, success as a high-level executive— and the lowest lows— the loss of his father, panic attacks, depression, and alcoholism.
Through it all, he’s developed a method for maximizing your life to fulfill your potential and start living during a time when too many believe they’re “past their prime.”
If you work with someone with the WHY of Right Way there are benefits as well as challenges. The benefits consist of the fact that a team needs a Right Way in order to flourish, a team needs someone who can systematize, prioritize, and implement processes that works. The challenges can come into play when you are wanting to be creative, spit ball ideas, or go off the rails a bit (I’m talking to the Better Ways and Challenges here), and their mind doesn’t let them get to that point. They can already see issues with these grand ideas and want to bring everyone back down to earth.
They’re Black and White
The difficulty with working with a Right Way comes when you have an exciting idea you can’t wait to get moving on and they shut it down. They are black and white with their processes, and lucky for the team but not so lucky for your idea, they see the big picture and know that now is not the time. There also may be little wiggle room to get them to change their mind. Once a Right Way has decided something is the wrong way… you’ve lost the war.
You Need a Right Way
Behind every well-oiled machine team and every successful process, there is a Right Way. It is really, really challenging to have a team where every one is an idea machine. You need someone who can materialize ideas into a structure is the secret key to success for a team. Right Ways have a tendency to do lots of research first to make sure they truly know the correct way to attack a project. You are a great resource of information, processes, and getting things done.
You’re Lucky to Have Them
When it comes down to it, you are lucky to work with someone with the WHY of Right Way. Even if at times they may seem rigid in their responses or decisions, there is usually a lot of research, thought, and experience behind the decision they’ve made. You can count on them to be there for the team, to put things into play, and to keep you on the right path.
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.
Are you looking for a more secure foundation for your financial future? Whole life insurance could be the solution you’ve been looking for. Today’s guest is Sarry Ibrahim, founder of Financial Asset Protection, a financial services firm that focuses on one sole concept; the Bank On Yourself concept, also known as the Infinite Banking Concept. He also hosts their official podcast, Thinking Like a Bank. Sarry helps real estate investors, business owners, and full-time employees grow safe and predictable wealth regardless of market conditions. How? Through whole life insurance. Tune in as he joins Dr. Gary Sanchez to break down the concept using his gift, the WHY of Simplify.
Watch the episode here
Listen to the podcast here:
Ensure Your Financial Future With Whole Life Insurance With Sarry Ibrahim
If you’re a regular reader, you know that every episode we talk about 1 of the 9 Whys and then 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 Simplify, which is a very rare Why. If this is your Why then you are one of the fabulous people that make everyone else’s life better. You have the unique gift of reducing the number of steps required for almost any task. If most of us believe that a procedure requires 8 sequential actions, you see how to do it in 6.
You constantly look for ways of simplifying from recipes to business systems and how you organize your garage. You feel successful when you eliminate complexity and remove unnecessary elements in a process. You streamline things for the benefit of all and break things down into their simplest form. You like things direct to the point and don’t give me the fluff. I’ve got a great guest for you. His name is Sarry Ibrahim. He is a financial planner and member of the Bank On Yourself organization.
He helps real estate investors, business owners and full-time employees grow safe and predictable wealth regardless of market conditions using a financial strategy that has been around for over 160 years. Sarry started his journey when he was in grad school completing his MBA. He worked for companies like Allstate, Blue Cross, Blue Shield, Cigna, HealthSpring and Humana before founding Financial Asset Protection, a financial services firm that focuses on one sole concept, the Bank On Yourself concept, also known as the Infinite Banking Concept. Sarry, welcome to the show.
Gary, thank you so much for having me on. I appreciate it.
This is going to be interesting. We’re going to dive back into your life. You told me already you’re in Chicago. It’s a little bit chilly there. You grew up there. Tell us about that. Where did you grow up in Chicago? What were you like in high school? What would your friends say about you?
I grew up in a Southwest suburb of Chicago. It’s Palos Hills for those familiar with the Chicago area. It’s about 30 minutes or 40 minutes South of Downtown Chicago. I was always very curious growing up. I always wanted to learn more about how the world worked more than I could handle and beyond my scope. For example, in class, I would look out the window and think about how things work outside of the classroom rather than inside the classroom. I was always a visionary.
I learned that visionaries think far ahead of steps. That could be problematic because if you’re not focused on the moment, you can miss certain things. That was also part of my life. I would make mistakes because I wasn’t present. I was thinking way too far ahead but I still enjoyed imagining different things that I still do as an entrepreneur. One of the reasons why I’m an entrepreneur is because I can’t settle for normal day-to-day things. I have to always think far ahead.
When I was a senior in high school, I took a class called Consumer Economics. It was how to write a check, how to look at a bank statement, what is a mortgage, what is interest and all these things. I liked it a lot. I understood those things back then. I wanted to make that into a career where that’s what you do for a living. You help people with financial things like that. I was still new to it. I was still young.
I didn’t know that was called financial consultant or financial planner. I got a bachelor’s degree, went to college and got an MBA with a concentration in project management. I started working for the insurance companies and seeing how they would think and evaluated risks. That led me into financial planning and helping people with financial strategies and accomplishing financial goals.
I’m thankful that it was exactly what I’ve always wanted to do. It’s to solve financial problems. It’s not so much of, “If you have money, you can work with me.” It’s more of, “What is it? What’s going on in your life? What are some of your financial problems? Either too little money too much money or whatever the case is, what do you need help with?” That’s what I do. I help clients in all 50 states accomplish their financial goals. That’s who I am and some of my background.
What made you go into insurance? How did you get from college into working for different insurance companies? It sounds like you worked for a couple of them as well.
Typically, the average person who works for an insurance organization is 59 years old. It’s usually an old-school industry to be in. It’s not so much with my friends. I was the only one in my social group that went into insurance. I don’t know what it was. I came across an opportunity to work at Allstate. That was the first company. I told myself, “I don’t know what to expect. I have no idea what’s on the other side of that door until I go through that door and see.” That’s what happened. It was a lesson in life. You will never know your passion before you do something.
It’s almost impossible to say, “I’m going to do this career because I like it,” when you haven’t even done that career yet. That’s how high school and college are trained. It’s like, “Choose something you’re passionate about. Stick to it.” How are you going to be passionate about a career that you’ve never done before? The same is true that I would have never chosen insurance or financial services. It doesn’t sound transparent and appealing but once I got involved in it and understood it, I liked it. It made sense. There was a lot of logic behind it. Speaking of simplifying things, there were a lot of things that you could simplify in that world.
You got your MBA. You’re done. There are many directions you could have gone. Why Allstate?
First of all, I liked the name, the brand and how it was marketed. I worked there. While I was working there, I found that a lot of clients also liked working with the brand. More importantly, they liked working with people. One of the selling points of working in insurance is working with people, not just the companies or the brands. I enjoyed working with people and then owning the process of dealing with problems, claims and things like that. It was also a self-employable field to be in. That means that you could branch off and start your business either with Allstate or other companies.
I then went from Allstate to being an independent consultant/broker so I could represent different companies. That was something attractive to me. I thought about it. I was like, “How would the future look? The future could be that I have contracts with 30 different insurance companies and financial organizations. I have thousands of clients. I can work anywhere in the world. I just need a computer and a phone.” That was the kind of industry it is.
If I was, for example, working as a mechanical engineer for a Fortune 500 company, that’s not a self-employable field. I can’t branch off, start my mechanical engineering company and do that. With insurance, you could. You have that opportunity. It’s people-to-people and small business-to-small business. It was the lifestyle that got me attracted to it. I work entirely from home. Everything is done on Zoom or over the phone. All my podcasting as a guest and as a host is done on Zoom. My wife and I have a son. We could travel and go somewhere. I’m not restricted to 9:00 to 5:00 anywhere.
It seemed like there were not too many steps to get you to where you wanted to go.
It’s hard work still. I had to build up the book of business. The independent insurance route has about a 95% turnover rate. For every 100 people, 95 quit and go do something else because it’s very difficult. It’s hard to attract people, work with people and keep them as clients. I positioned more into financial planning, not just insurance. Insurance is one of the tools that we have. There’s also the financial planning aspect of building out financial plans for people, saving for retirement, getting out of debt, negotiating and things like that. We do more of that too.
You got into insurance, transitioned over to financial planning, got out and started your own. You used a 160-year-old process. Tell us about that.
It’s called the Infinite Banking Concept. It was invented by Nelson Nash years ago. One of the primary routes of the Infinite Banking Concept is the use of cash value whole life insurance. For how not sexy it sounds, it’s one of the most significant things in the world. These insurance companies have been in business for over 160 years. They have been implementing these. It’s the same with companies. A lot of organizations that have been around for a long time, their backbones or reserves are in cash value life insurance. Banks have most of their reserves in cash value life insurance.
A lot of the things that happen in the world, financially speaking, revolve around life insurance companies. There are about 2,000 life insurance companies in the United States alone. If you were to take all their reserves and money and pool it together, it would be greater than all of the cash from all the banks and oil companies in the world combined. It gives you a visual of what’s happening. If a high-rise building in Switzerland is being built, a US life insurance company probably has something to do with it. They have loaned money to it and invested in that deal. A lot of things in the world are happening from the backbones of life insurance companies.
Should that make me feel good or bad?
That should make you feel good because there’s certainty and security. The people, families and corporations that made it to the Great Depression were ones who had reserves and life insurance because the way that insurance companies operate is not directly correlated or affected by the stock market and other things. In March 2020 when COVID first happened, life insurance companies’ cash reserves weren’t affected by COVID whereas the stock market was. The stock market went up since COVID happened. Initially, there was a hit to it.
From the perspective of certainty and safety, you want your money sitting somewhere or at least one place. If everything goes down and shuts down, you have one account somewhere that’s protected. It’s going to earn compound interest and growth. This is exactly what we do. We use the Infinite Banking Concept to help clients, small business owners and individuals have at least some certainty for the future and something they could predict and look onto.
We have a podcast called Thinking Like a Bank. We launched Episode 51. Check out Episode 51. We talk about what happens when there’s chaos. There’s this Ukraine-Russia situation. How does that impact us? We don’t know. Nobody knows how long that war is going to last and the magnitude of it. As business owners and individuals here, we need some certainty of how do we take our cash with us into the future, grow it into the future and no risk at all.
There are typically three types of life insurance out there. There’s a term, whole life and universal. The term has a set period. It’s usually 10 years, 20 years or 30 years. There is no cash value to it. It’s simple life insurance only. Use it for that certain period. There’s a start date and end date. The whole life has a start date. It’s life insurance. There’s also a savings account portion to it that grows and earns interest and dividends. Dividends are not guaranteed but there are dividends involved with whole life insurance. The cash value grows over time.
Universal life is very similar to both the term and whole life. It’s a little bit complicated to explain but it’s pretty much another form of permanent cash value life insurance. We’re focused on the middle one or cash value whole life insurance. It’s a special design. It’s not just from any company or agent but a special design cash value whole life insurance policy that allows you to build up cash in it to protect from market conditions. There are a ton of tax advantages with whole life insurance to give you the ability to always have access to that money.
Here’s one problem in 2008. For the real estate investors reading this, you know what happened in 2008. A lot of people had properties. A lot of real estate investors, contractors and construction companies had money in real estate. A couple of compounding problems happened. One problem that happened was the real estate market crashed. All the values dropped significantly. After that happened, banks stopped loaning out money because the collateral went down. It became too risky.
Plus, unemployment went up. A lot of companies shut down. The stock market took a hit. That means that it wasn’t a lendable society. A lot of people weren’t lendable anymore. That changed the way banks started lending money. What happened if you owned twenty real estate properties that were all paid off? You’re stuck because you don’t want to sell them at such a low rate if you might have to. You can’t borrow against them because there’s no bank available to loan you the money.
Even if there was a bank to loan you the money, they’re going to loan you an amount that’s much less than that because the values went down and banks loan according to the value of it. It had this spiraling effect like, “If this then that,” all spiraling together. With whole life insurance, that won’t happen because it’s not correlated with the stock market. When the stock market or the real estate market goes down, the account values don’t go down.
That’s one aspect of it. You always have the value of it increasing no matter what happens in the market. The other side to it is you have guaranteed access to the funding or the money either through loans or withdrawals regardless of how the economy does. It’s not based on credit nor is it based on economical or financial external conditions. Banks loan out money according to the person’s credit, the economy and the community we’re in.
How does your money grow in a whole life plan?
Let’s say, for example, one of the companies we work with is Lafayette Insurance Company. Lafayette Insurance Company is a private for-profit life insurance company. They have investments. They invest in the bond market, give out loans to banks, invest in real estate properties and earn profits from every year. Part of their profits every year get distributed back to the policy owners because it’s a mutually-owned life insurance company and because how they have structured their policies is to give dividends back to the policy owners. That’s one way. The second way is they guarantee you an interest rate.
It’s a very small interest rate. It’s nothing crazy. It was 4% up until 2022. Some regulations changed. They dropped down to 3% guaranteed gross. There are also the dividends. We’re expecting the dividends are going to go up because dividends are positively correlated with interest rates. As interest rates go up, it’s projected that dividend rates will go up as well. That’s how somebody could have a cash value whole life insurance policy and have the cash in it grow over time, not just from the money they’re putting into it but also from the insurance company growing and then providing dividends and interest back to the accounts.
Let’s say you took $100 and put it into a whole life plan. You took $100 and put it into the stock market or the S&P 500. What happens? Take us through the scenarios.
A lot of people will project that. They will project, “What if I put $100 a month into a whole life policy versus the S&P 500 fund?” Number one is that the whole life policy is not meant to be an investment. It’s meant to be a savings account. It’s meant to be used for investments. What you could do is fund the whole life policy, borrow against that and then put it in the stock market, which a lot of people do. A lot of our clients do it. We help them structure things like that. It’s a matter of both and it’s not meant to replace either one.
There are so many different ways to give financial advice and so many rules to follow. One thing I would recommend is the whole life part is just one of the legs in your financial portfolio. It’s not the whole financial portfolio. It shouldn’t be either whole life insurance or the stock market. I believe that people should be truly diversified. They should have some money in the stock market, whole life insurance, real estate, their business and different places. I use the word truly diversified. We talked about this in Episode 51 of our show.
Some people might have money in the stock market in low risk, medium risk and aggressive. They might say that they’re diversified but all their money is in the stock market. That’s not truly diversified. Truly diversified is some money in the stock market, bonds, different markets, different areas and even places that are not correlated or connected to each other. It’s an example of whole life insurance. If the stock market goes down, whole life insurance is still there. If the real estate market goes down, you want some foundations in your financial plan.
If you put $100 into a whole life, you would get a 3% return. If you put it in the stock market, you could get a 20% return or a 20% loss. It’s not much of a gamble but it’s not much of a return.
Nobody gets rich off of whole life insurance. It’s meant to preserve capital. It’s meant to keep your wealth and have it outpace inflation and a savings account because savings accounts nowadays give 1/10 of 1% if you don’t have a percentage. At least with the whole life policy, you can at least outpace that. Plus, you get the tax advantages and you have it sitting somewhere that’s not going to be impacted by market conditions. Plus, there are no credit qualifications for the loan when you borrow against it.
Plus, there are some legal things too with litigation. In most states, it’s protected from predators and people trying to sue you. There are a lot of aspects other than the rate of return that people should consider. You mentioned a good point on the rate of return aspect. A lot of people come in and say, “What’s the rate of return on it?” We tell them, “It’s 3%.” They say, “No, thank you.” They go somewhere else and potentially earn 12% or 10% in the stock market.
I see what they’re thinking. They’re thinking they want the most value out of their money but there are still other aspects like the taxes, protection, economical conditions and other things that go into play other than the rate of return. Plus, you could use the policy for higher rates of return. We have clients who fund whole life policies. From the funds in the policy, they borrow against those and then do private money lending where they’re investing to real estate investors.
It inflates your overall return when you have a whole life with other lending and investments because what happens is you get both. You get the growth from whole life insurance and the private money you’re lending out or the other investments you have. Those together give you a much higher rate of return when it’s together rather than using one or the other. When you integrate them together, it gives you a compounding or a much higher return than choosing one without the other.
Is it an interest-free loan that you give yourself?
You would borrow the money from the insurance company and pay interest to the insurance company. It’s typically a simple interest rate that’s compounded in arrears. At the end of the year, the interest is due and it doesn’t compound on it. When you earn on your policy, you’re earning compound interest. What happens is that there’s arbitrage. Arbitrage is the growth of your money even when you’re using the money. A lot of real estate investors do this.
They will borrow, for example, $100,000 from their policy and then use it for real estate. Let’s say they paid $5,000 back to their policy. They may have earned that year $10,000 from their policy. There was an arbitrage or a net gain of $5,000. They bought money at $105,000 and earned $110,000. Their split is $5,000 in that situation. There is a lot more that goes into it but it gets to the point where the money outpaces, which brings it into a whole other topic of opportunity costs. Imagine if you paid cash for everything, bought real estate or cars with cash and invested in your business with only cash.
The downside to that is you would never earn interest on your money. You would lose the opportunity cost you could have earned on that interest. You spent that money. Had you invested that money or saved it somewhere, borrowed against it and then paid it back, you would never skip a beat on your interest. You would always keep earning interest even when you are buying real estate and cars, investing in your business or whatever else you’re doing.
Are there different times in your life when a whole life makes sense and times when it doesn’t make sense? Does it always make sense?
One rule of financial planning is there’s never one solution for everybody. There are different situations. This is why you need to work with somebody who’s unbiased and who’s going to take a step back and look at your financial situation. There are some times when whole life insurance doesn’t make sense for the people who, for example, don’t have much in reserves or income. In my opinion, it wouldn’t make sense to tie up that money into a life insurance policy because there’s a capitalization period. There’s a period where you’re funding the policy.
Your cash value is not going to match directly with your premiums going into it. There’s going to be a dip. When you start a business, you’re not going to be profitable in year one. There’s going to be a slight dip in your business. Maybe a couple of years later, you would come out profitable. It’s the same thing with whole life insurance. You might do a policy. For example, in year one, you put $10,000 and your cash value in year one is $6,000. There was a cost to that insurance but it’s not about year one. If somebody is only focused on year one then I would not recommend it to them.
If somebody is focused on the next 10 or 20 years, I would recommend it to them. Those are the costs. Eventually, the cash value exceeds the premiums paid to it. You end up coming out ahead. You get more out of the policy than you put into it in the later years, not in the first year. I don’t know of any investments without taking any risks when in year one, you could come out ahead. Maybe there are some bonds and things like that you could do where you could come out ahead but for the most part, it’s a long-term play when you passively invest.
What is your goal as a financial planner?
My goal is I want to help people solve their problems. That’s how I stay in business. How I can get satisfaction out of what I do is by solving problems for people. If somebody has debt that they want to pay off efficiently and they want to get out of debt, I can help them with that. If they want to save for retirement, I can figure that out. We can go through a solution for them. If they want to transition from a full-time employee to running a business and they need help with the financial aspects of that, we can help with that. That’s what I want. I want to be able to solve problems for people and concrete problems, not just sell a mutual fund and say that it’s the solution. It’s more concrete where the client says, “This helped me a lot. This helped me out this way.” They see the benefits of it.
Who has been your biggest mentor that has taught you the most? You’re competing out there in the marketplace with guys that are 60 and have been doing this for 30 years. Why should somebody choose you over somebody that has been in the field for 30 years?
Here’s full disclosure. Thankfully, I’ve been in a situation where it was me or another advisor who has been in the industry for 30 years. I’ve been thankfully chosen over them. There are a couple of things. Number one, I’m part of an awesome team. I’m part of the Bank On Yourself group. We’re a group of 300 advisors in North America. We have weekly training calls. We had to go through a credentialing program to get accepted and be able to provide these types of policies and solutions for clients.
That had a huge impact on my success. Number two, I have a mentor too. I’ve been working with them for years. His name is Mark Willis. You could check out his podcast called Not Your Average Financial Podcast. He has helped me out a lot. He’s a big reason for my success. He is the top Bank On Yourself professional out of 300 advisors in North America. He is number one since he started with this program. I have a lot of support from the top advisors in the country. I’m thankful for that.
I like to simplify things. I’ve worked with clients before who said they have read books, listened to podcasts and still haven’t figured out this concept. After twenty minutes on the phone with me, they did. Not to brag but that has been practiced on my end. I’ve been practicing the skill, not just this skill particularly but also the skill of conveying subjects and concepts to people and breaking them down into smaller and more manageable pieces. I’m very good at that.
I’m taking complex things and situations and then breaking them down to the point where somebody who is ten years old can understand exactly what’s going on. It’s like Albert Einstein’s quote, “If you can’t explain something in very simple terms then you don’t understand it properly.” I’m a big advocate of that. Thankfully, a lot of clients have seen that in me. They have been wanting to work with me because I don’t start the conversation by talking about bond rates, the S&P 500 and all these things that are irrelevant to them.
It’s not about the company, percentage or rate of return. It’s about working with individuals who can listen to you and implement things that truly matter to you. If a client says, “I want 10% on my money,” and then you say, “I’ll find something for 10% of your money,” that’s not an adequate solution. What is it about the 10% that you want to accomplish and going further into that? That’s the advantage that I have over people who have been in this industry for a long time.
Why is it important for you? What do you see as the benefit of simplifying things for people? Why is simplicity important?
People need to understand what’s going on. They need to understand, learn and remember what you’re saying and how things work. It’s a huge factor in how they live. The way you live has a lot to do with what you know about the world. That has a huge impact on the way you live. People need to understand those things. Plus, there’s a lot of chaos and confusion out there. A lot of people don’t know the details of things.
If you could break it down, it’s very satisfying to take something hard or complex, break it down and then make it simple to understand. It creates momentum. In my shoes, it’s good to know that I can work with a client. They’re all over the place financially and we can solve a problem. It’s important. If you’re working with a professional, they need to make sure that they’re making things very simple for you and not making things more complex or confusing.
What did it feel like to you when you took the WHY Discovery, it came up with Simplify and you started to read about it? How did that feel for you?
I was surprised but not really. There were 10 or 20 questions. I was going through each one. When I got the result, I was like, “Is that who I am?” When I thought about it further after that, I was like, “That does make sense.” I’ve done many podcasts where we finished recording. For example, we will be talking about Infinite Banking like how we were talking about it and the host will say, “It makes a lot of sense. You broke it down. I remembered everything you said. It’s very clear.” It does align with making things simple. It is what I expected.
You have one of the rarest Whys. Simplify is one of the rarest. It’s fascinating to me because people with your Why get stuff done. They’re so efficient, results-oriented and super valuable to be around. What’s the difference to you in simplifying something simple versus something complex?
It gets stuff done for sure. When you simplify things, you see a clear side of it. One problem I used to have when I couldn’t get things done is because it was too complicated to do. You weren’t even going to do it anymore. When you break it down into simpler terms, you get more things done. That’s very important. It’s getting things done especially in entrepreneurship. You can get a lot of things done efficiently because there’s a lot of work in running a business.
You need to be able to get a lot of small little things done in a day. I don’t know why but time flies by as an entrepreneur because there are so many things that need to be done and broken down. This is something that I do. Not to brag but I’m very good at doing a lot of different things, keeping track of clients, business plans, retirement accounts and taking care of my immediate family, my parents and things like that. There’s a lot going on.
I have to be able to do a lot of things in a day. One thing I do is I have systems. I have everything on a calendar. Every morning, I go into the calendar and write out each task one by one. After I complete it, I highlight it. That way, I could see what’s done. It also creates momentum to get more things done. It’s a task as simple as sending an email to this person all the way to finalizing an analysis for a client.
It varies and there are different degrees. I typically put the easier ones on top. That way, I can go through them quicker. I’ve got pushback from this. Some people will say it’s better to put the harder ones on top like the saying, “Swallow the frog first.” Test out different things. It’s going to be different for you. Those are some of the things that have worked for me. I like making things simpler. Life is already complicated as it is.
It’s great for the readers to get to experience somebody that has the Why of Simplify because there’s only 4% of the population that has your Why. People with your Why are super valuable to have on a team. People that overcomplicate things are not as valuable to have on a team because they make it so complex that the only person that can do anything with it is them. If you were to start to build your messaging, marketing and branding, do you think it would be valuable for your clients to know that your Why is to Simplify?
It’s important because one thing that I do and I’ve seen success with through working with clients is that I constantly reiterate both of our Whys. It’s why I’m helping them and why they are implementing too. Along the line, it’s very easy for people to forget, “What are we doing here? Why are we having this financial?” That happens a lot. People need reassurance. It’s providing them the reassurance of what’s going on and why. I’ve noticed that when you start with Why like Simon Sinek’s Start With Why, it lays out the foundation for the following things.
I’ve noticed too that even subconsciously, I’ve chosen titles of videos and podcasts to listen to and watch based on the titles. Instead of me saying why I became a financial planner, it’s going to be more appealing than how I became a financial planner or what financial planners do. It’s the most powerful word in English or any language with the word why. It’s the reason why you do things. From a marketing perspective, it’s the most intriguing part of the marketing message.
It’s especially if you take it and apply it to, “Why should I choose you?” As a prospect, I’m sitting here and I meet you for the first time. What’s going through my mind is, “Why should I choose Sarry?” There are a lot of financial advisors right there. They’re everywhere just like anything. They’re trying to figure out why should they choose you. If you don’t tell them then they won’t know.
The better able you are to articulate why you do what you do and what it is you believe, the more you will be able to attract those people that believe what you believe. Your ideal client is somebody who wants it simple and easy to understand and doesn’t want all the fluff and the extra. They just want simple and easy-to-follow instructions on, “What do I need to do? I want to make sure it’s getting done. I want to know what’s going to get me the results that I want.”
There are people who think like you. You’re most likely to attract those people.
They believe what you believe. If you’re able to articulate it, say it and use it in your messaging, marketing, podcast and when you sit down with your prospect, it instantly cuts to the chase to why they should choose you. You sat down and said, “I believe that success happens when we make things simple and easy to understand, don’t overcomplicate it and go directly to the point. Let’s figure out what you want, how to get there and what you need to get there. That’s when we’re going to have success. That’s what you can get from me.”
“I’m not going to give you all the fluff, try to sell you stuff you don’t need and try to get you to buy whatever. It’s going to be simple and easy to understand.” We have a completely different conversation than, “I wonder what this guy is going to try to sell me. He’s going to throw me into insurance because he makes the most money or whatever the story is.” We create a narrative. It’s your ability to cut to the chase and tell me what it is you believe.
We didn’t get to do your How and What yet but I’m going to take a stab at what your How and What is based on our conversation. Your Why, which we already know is to make things simple and easy to understand. How you do that is by making sense of complex and challenging concepts. Do you feel more successful when you’re able to show somebody a path or when you’re able to help them in whatever way they need help?
Ultimately, what you bring is the right way to get predictable and consistent results. Your Why is to make things simple and easy to understand so that everybody can do it. How you go about doing that is by making sense of the complex challenges that they’re facing and solving their problems. Ultimately, what you bring is the right way to get consistent and predictable results. You bring them the path and the map to get where they want to go. How does that feel to you?
I feel like I know more about myself now from hearing those things.
Does that feel right though?
It does. I do agree that it does make sense. I noticed it too. I’m laying out the path and solution. It creates more reassurance for everybody, for myself and for other people that I work with. I’ve thought about it. For example, what if I were to be a consultant for a company or a sales organization? It’s very hard to predict sales because you never know what’s going on in the customer’s mind. You can’t control that but you can control things that lead up to that. It’s the number of times you reach out to somebody and the length of time you speak to people. There are predictable things that you could do that will give you the results you’re looking for.
I have one last question for you. What has been the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten or the best piece of advice you’ve ever given?
The best piece of advice I’ve gotten was from my mentor, Mark Willis. He says, “Never take anything personally.” There are a lot of emotions out there in the world and a lot of people could take things. I do sometimes take things personally but having the ability to not take things personally will put you ahead, especially in an entrepreneurial mindset. Getting ahead is never taking anything personally. There are so many other things going on in the world and other people’s minds that for the majority of the time, it’s not intended for you or at you. It’s having that mindset of never taking anything personally.
If there are people reading and they want to get ahold of you, contact you, work with you or listen to your podcast, what’s the best way for them to get in touch with you?
If you’re looking to take a different approach financially and you have an open mind, you can go to ThinkingLikeABank.com. You can download a free eBook there, schedule an appointment with me and check out our podcast called Thinking Like a Bank. All that is from the website.
Sarry, thank you so much for being here. I enjoyed getting to know you and meeting another Simplify.
Me too. Thanks, Gary. Thanks for having me on.
Thank you so much for reading. If you have not yet discovered your Why, you can do so at WHYInstitute.com with the code Podcast50. If you love the show, please don’t forget to subscribe below and leave us a review and rating so that you can be part of bringing the Why and the WHY.os to the world. Thank you.
Sarry Ibrahim is financial planner and member of the Bank On Yourself Organization. He helps real estate investors, business owners, and full time employees grow safe and predictable wealth regardless of market conditions using a financial strategy that has been around for over 160 years. Sarry started this journey when he was in grad school completing his MBA. He worked for companies like Allstate, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna Healthspring, and Humana before founding Financial Asset Protection, a financial services firm that focuses on one sole concept; the Bank On Yourself Concept, also known as the Infinite Banking Concept.
Sometimes, the secret to the joy of living is as simple as sharing a smile. For Barry Shore, a SMILE means Seeing Miracles In Life Everyday. Barry is The Joy of Living podcast host and author of The JOY of Living: How to Slay Stress and Be Happy. He joins Dr. Gary Sanchez to enlighten us on the power of words and the simple secret to living life to the fullest. Barry also shares personal anecdotes of overcoming challenges life has thrown his way and helping others do the same. Your words matter. When you recognize that and extend that power, you will be unstoppable, and you can go MAD (Make A Difference). Learn more of Barry’s fun and inspiring acronyms and understand his WHY of Simplify by tuning in!
Watch the episode here:
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Simplifying The Joy Of Living With Barry Shore
We go beyond talking about your Why, helping you discover and live your Why. If you’re a regular reader, you know that every episode, we talk about one of the nine Whys and 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 a very rare Why, the Why of simplify.
If you have this Why, you are one of the people that makes everyone else’s life easier. You break things down to their essence, which allows others to understand each other better and see things from the same perspective. You are constantly looking for ways to simplify, from recipes you’re making at home to business systems you’re implementing at work. You feel successful when you eliminate complexity and remove unnecessary steps.
After a rare disease paralyzed Barry from the neck down, he created the Joy of Living Institute, a platform that teaches people to live in joy, no matter the situation. The Keep Smiling Movement has reached multiple celebrities and distributed millions of Keep Smiling cards worldwide. ChangeBowl is a philanthropic platform featured in Oprah’s Magazine. Barry, welcome to the show.
Good day, beautiful, bountiful, beloved mortal beings and good-looking people. Gary, how can I make the categorical statement that all the tens of thousands and not hundreds of thousands of people that will be reading this are all good-looking? If they tuned in to your session of Why then by definition, they’re always looking for and finding the good. That’s a definition of a good-looking person, looking for and finding the good.
That’s a great way to define that. Barry, for our audience, there was a lot to unpack there. Where are you?
We can talk about geographically, physically, mentally and spiritually. Geographically, my wife and I have decamped on Venice Beach, California, right by the water. After years of living here, we moved to Henderson, Nevada. Anybody scratching the head would say, “You left Venice Beach to move to Henderson, Nevada, outside of Las Vegas. Why?”
I can tell you three things. Number one, the entire structure of where we lived in the Los Angeles area, especially Venice Beach, has changed because of politics. There are hundreds of people living on the streets and the beach within yards of our multimillion-dollar homes. After all of this happened, I said to my wife, “Why be here?” In addition to that fact, my son and wonderful daughter-in-law and two young grandsons moved to Henderson, Nevada, the previous year.
We had every Why to move so we did. I made a completely new place, which is fascinating. We’re talking about being in one place for decades with all our family and friends around. We decided to decamp because the new Why was far more entrancing. At the age of 73, I said, “How wonderful. Let’s move.” Isn’t that a great way of getting a new perspective on life? Physically, we’re here. Mentally, I and my wife would agree that I’m in the best place mentally than I’ve ever been in my life. That happens on a daily basis. I’m better now than the day before because that’s what I live with. I live with growth.
Spiritually, it is the same thing. I am oriented towards making sure I’m ever striving forward in my spiritual life which, God-willing and thank God, touches hundreds of thousands of people and millions of people around the globe with our Joy of Living Program, our podcast, our books, our Keep Smiling cards and the things that we do.
I’ve been blessed to be a conduit of good, what I call a COG or a Child Of God. Thank you for asking. I also want to mention that in everything we do, we work with the three fundamentals of life. The three fundamentals are, number one, life has a purpose. When you live a purpose-driven life, you can have good number two. Number two is good. You can go MAD. MAD is an acronym that stands for Make A Difference. If you lead a purpose-driven life, you make a difference in the world, Gary.
Number three is to unlock the power and the secrets of everyday words in terms. The simplest example. Your show with me is being carried over the internet, that magical, mystical, mythical platform that’s touched by everybody around the world. If you ask anybody, what does www stand for? Variably, it has to do with the internet.
In our world, the world of the positive, purposeful, powerful and pleasant www stands for What a Wonderful World. What is a word? Everybody reading, when you see www, you’d think, “What did he say? What a wonderful world.” You have a whole different outlook. You have a smile on your face. You say, “Where did I hear that? Dr. Gary Sanchez’s show about Why. He had this crazy guy on, Barry Shore. He is talking about joy in life.”
Whenever you hear www, what a wonderful world, right away, you think of that song. Remember that song by Louis Armstrong? You hear the opening bars of that great song, What a Wonderful World and what do you do right away? You smile. You can’t help it. Smile is one of the most important words you could ever internalize, utilize and leverage in life because SMILE stands for Seeing Miracles In Life Every Day. What a way to live. How do you like that, Gary?
I love it. I love your energy and I love the way you simplified things down to three things. Let’s go back, Barry. Take us back in your life. Where were you born? Where did you grow up? What were you like as a kid? Let us learn about you.
As fascinating, interesting and robust as I am now. At least my mother would say that. She’s the one who writes all my introductions and she’s in heaven. She passes them down through the heavenly host. Thank God I was raised in a place called Boston, Massachusetts. I’ll even fall into a Boston accent at some point. I was raised outside of Boston called Brookline, Massachusetts in a very wonderful, loving home.
Thank God I had a father who worked hard and a mother who was loving. I’m the oldest in the family. I have two younger sisters. We’re all close. Both my parents have passed away. It was a wonderful existence. I share with you the best part because most of my life has been involved with the business. I want to use this time to talk about business because it is part of my Why.
I have certain very important beliefs about business that is critical for people to understand. Number one, the word business is fascinating. How do you spell business? I was taught this when I was twelve years old. In the word business, the U comes before the I. Business is built on service. Most people don’t learn this until their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s or 80s.
Service is the key of life. It doesn’t matter if you’re a dentist, a lawyer or an Indian Chief. Service is the key to life. Business, the word itself, shows us. The U comes before the I. I learned this at the age of 9, 10 or 11, growing up in Boston. Anybody can google it, look it up. It’s in the Northeast part of the United States of America. In the wintertime, it snows. Sometimes you have real deep snow.
When I was growing up, we didn’t have internet. You listen to the radio and say, “No school.” We didn’t sit around and play video games. We didn’t have them. We play and say, “I’m going to wait and sleep the rest of the day.” It was a time to go out, shovel snow and make money. What a wonderful way to live because you get exercise.
It was instructive for me because here’s what we needed to do. Ages 9, 10, 11, you go up and down the street with your boots on and get warm inside and a snow shovel. You knock on your neighbors’ doors, your neighbors. What are you going to do? You’re going to negotiate. Imagine being a 9, 10 or 11-year-old, negotiating with a householder, “I want $10.” He wants to give $5 and we settle somewhere, say $7 or $8, depending. You shovel and you’re working hard and good. Every once in a while, they give you a cup of hot chocolate. You made money.
Here’s what gets fun, Gary. I realized, “I could shovel maybe 7, 8 driveways before I get tired and go home. I can make $50, $60.” That’s a lot of money to a kid, especially in the 1950s but it got even better. My father said, “You have a lot of friends. Why don’t you get 2 or 3 of your friends and you go and get the jobs? If you get them, say, an $8 job, you give them $5 or $6, you make $2 or $3 and you’re leveraging your time.”
The bane of existence for most people is your time is limited. I don’t care if you’re charging $1,000 an hour as a lawyer, it doesn’t matter. You’re only able to negotiate your time. That’s why lawyers raise their rates. If you can leverage other people’s activities so that everybody wins, I did that. I had five friends and I got them the jobs. They had to do anything other than a shovel.
It ended up getting up to $10 for a driveway. I gave them $7, while I made $3. We’re shoveling another 30 driveways and I’m still shoveling some myself. I’m making real money, $120 sometimes. It didn’t snow every single day. When it did, it was delightful because I had money that I could choose to do what I wanted with.
That’s the whole essence for me about business. I’ve kept it going for 60-plus years. It’s finding more simple, direct ways of utilizing and leveraging time and energy so that everyone wins. This is the key. Everyone wins. It wasn’t that I got $10 and I gave them $2. It was the ability to create win-win situations. The householder won because they got their driveway and stairs shoveled. My friends won because they got money. They didn’t have to do anything. They don’t have to knock on doors and negotiate. I won because I’m helping them and making money. That’s real WWW, What a Wonderful World.
For the audience, Barry went through and did the WHY.os Discovery instead of the WHY Discovery. He came up with his Why to simplify things so that they’re easy to understand. How he does that was by finding better ways. Ultimately, what he brings is a way to contribute and add value to people around him. We saw that perfectly in that story. You simplified it down to a few things. You found a better way by getting your friends to participate with you and leverage your time. What you brought was a way for everyone to win.
May I share another story? Anybody who knows anything about America, look up Fenway Park, Boston Red Sox. I grew up in Boston. Where we lived, I could walk to Fenway Park. It was 3 miles. As a kid, a friend of mine’s family ran the concession for selling scorecards outside of Fenway Park. At the ages of 12, 13 and 14, I was selling scorecards in front of Fenway Park. You got pictures in 1960, 1961, 1962. The Red Sox weren’t what they are now. People didn’t go. Maybe this stadium is only half full.
Here’s where it gets fun. I’m selling a newspaper with a scorecard in the front and it sells for $0.08. People are busy going into the game. They give you a dime. Most of the time, they didn’t ask for the two pennies back. I made $0.02 for the paper and another $0.02. I’m vocal, selling, “Scorecards.” I have this great corner because I was out there.
There was this amazing guy who was probably 72, 73 at the time and I’m 12, 13. He’s sitting there with a large cart, about 6 feet long, 4 feet wide with roasted peanuts in bags on it. He’s sitting on a milk crate. He is an old black guy and I’m standing, doing things. He said, “Kid, come over here.” I come over. I said, “Yes, sir,” because that’s how I was raised.
He said, “Let me hear what you’re talking.” I said, “Scorecards.” He said, “That’s very nice. You have a good voice. I like what you do but where’s the value? You’re not telling people what you do. Let me show you.” He said, “Peanuts a dime, 3 for a quarter, $0.15 in the ballpark.” He said, “I want you to tell them. How much is the scorecard in the ballpark?” I said, “$0.15.”
He goes, “Scorecard. Get your scorecard here. $0.08 here, $0.15 in the ballpark. You’re giving value and people will be attracted to you.” This is the word he used. “People will be attracted to you. You were running after people. They’re going to come to you.” His name was Elijah. I like that. He was a prophet and he helped me. We went together for almost three years.
I owned that corner because I was the best. It was the best corner. In two hours of selling, I would make over $40. I was having fun. All the people at the ballpark knew me so I got to go to most of the games for free. I saw dozens, if not hundreds, of Red Sox games. It was great.
Here is where it gets fun. I told my father the story and he said, “That’s great. Wonderful. Let’s add value. When people get your scorecard, how do they keep score?” I said, “They write down.” He said, “Do they always carry a pencil with them?” “I don’t know.” “Let’s do this.” We went out. We bought a bunch of pencils. We bought 20, 30 pencils and they’re regular long. He cut them in half like the little pencils you had at miniature golf courses.
He took a pencil, cut it in half and the pencil cost a nickel. We sold each half for a nickel. He turned a nickel into a dime but it wasn’t just that we turned a nickel into a dime. He told me about the gross margin, which is 50%. You didn’t make 100%. You made a 50% gross margin. What did you do? You gave real value. I said, “Get your scorecard, $0.08 here, $0.15 in the ballpark and a pen. Would you like a pencil with that?” “Yeah. How much is it?” “$0.10 here.” “Here’s a quarter or $0.20.”
We were using the leverage of value. How do you find the value that you can add? As Elijah told me, show people the value. You attract them. It’s called the law of attraction. Add value wherever you can, as my father did with, “Let’s give them pencils.” How wonderful. Everybody wins, the person who’s using it, me and what a wonderful world, www. Those are lessons I learned from the ages of 9 to 14 and it stood me in good steps.
I’ve done many businesses throughout my career. Some of them are spectacular successes and some of them hello, human. It’s the ability to always simplify. What can you do to make it as easy as possible for people to work with you? As we say in the sophisticated, how do you remove barriers to entry, not for your competition but for people who want to work with you?
Even in competition, I’ve learned a great lesson much later in life. It’s called co-opetition. I learned this at the University of Hard Knocks. You oftentimes will compete with people and those same people, you should look as collaborators. When you were a dentist, I don’t know if you did general dentistry but maybe there was another dentist that 1 mile away who was a specialist in pediatrics. Together, you can channel business to each other. Sometimes you collaborate sometimes you compete but it’s the ability to be open to it called co-opetition.
You grew up and went to high school in Boston. Did you go off to college?
I was a very good, young Jewish guy. I went to the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Here’s where it gets fun. After my junior year, I was a college dropout.
You and Steve Jobs.
College is interesting, nice and fun but I have wanderlust. I wanted to do something. This was 1969, 1970, around that era. It was the era of the hippies, things and growing on. I got a one-way ticket to Europe. You could do that in those days. I got landed in London. They let me in for only 30 days. They said, “We don’t want you here. Get out.”
I went to a place called Amsterdam, which was the crossroads of the world in those days. All over the world, people were coming through Amsterdam, from the Orient, from Africa, from Latin America, everywhere. I was in the middle of it. I got involved with a nice group of people. We had a little commune. How do you survive?
I had very little money and so did everybody else. We got together. We thought of things to do and we did. Out of that came a business three years later when I went back to the United States. An interesting thriving business. I’ll describe it very quickly. Imagine, let’s say a 9×12 Oriental Belgian rug that had a huge stain in someplace in it. It was sold at the flea markets. They had hundreds of these things. We would buy them for pennies. You buy a big 9×12 rug for $1 or $2, bring it back to our little commune.
We had eleven people. One of the people there was this interesting woman. She was skilled and said, “We cut this, do this. We put a back on it and make a pillow.” Imagine a carpet pillow. How about a carpet bag? How about a coat? How about a hat? We sold it there in Amsterdam. We made money so we could all live, do what we do and travel around and all over Europe for a year.
It was amazing. I said, “I feel like going back to America.” I bought a big container full of these things. I went back to Boston. Through a friend of a friend, I found somebody who also was a genius at doing this. She was a wonderful woman. She hired people and we started making bags, coats and pillows. We hung out a great sign on a place called Newbury Street in Boston.
It is a great story. Newbury Street, look it up. It is the most fashionable street in Boston for shopping. Even then, it was the hip place. Within a couple of months, I was written up in Boston Magazine and this stuff, carpet bag, carpet pillows. We had this little shop which was all Oriental rugs everywhere. It was fun. It was truly wonderful. Anybody who was a celebrity in those days who came to Boston came to the shop.
Cheech & Chong were famous at the time. They bought stuff for all their Hollywood friends and people who were ordering. We were part of this whole trend in America called the boutique business. This was where we went. We had a boutique. We were invited to do a booth in a boutique show in New York City. I said, “Yeah, of course.” They have a $3,000 booth but they gave it to her for $1,000.
We’re going to go. Myself and this nice lady, my head seamstress, we loaded up two cars. We were driving from Boston down to New York. It was a Saturday night in June 1972. We’re cruising down, getting ready to go to Manhattan for the big boutique show. Macy’s was going to be there. They have already expressed interest. A lot of them. Real people.
It was about midnight. We were traveling 60 miles an hour in the Volkswagen Beatle. Somebody fell asleep at the wheel of their big Buick car. The car hurdled over the median and smashed the Volkswagen Bug I was in and squashed it like a bug. I’m still here but it was touch and go for that night and the next day.
Thank God I didn’t pass away. My femur, my thigh bone, the hardest bone on the body to break, was smashed in many places. My leg was swinging like a gate. I didn’t pass out, thank God. The police and the fire department were amazing. They showed us pictures weeks later of what the car looked like. It’s not possible to survive but I did.
I’ll make the story very short. There was an operation that was done to put in special titanium plates and titanium screws into my thigh bone to put everything together. Over the next two and a half years, I had 2 more operations to remove a plate and 10 screws. I used that time to do what I call PTL, which saved my life. Prayer, Therapy and Love.
A lot of prayer, a lot of therapy, 2, 3 sometimes 4 hours a day of half a yoga and massage. I had friends that came by and love that was showered upon me. It took time. It was a process, not an event but looking at me, you can’t even see scars. They were picking glass out of my face for two days. I never limped. I did not limp after that.
I was, in a true sense, reborn. People call it near-death experience but I call it near life because when you get that close to not being here, I call it near life. You taste the essence of what it means to live exuberantly. Due to that, I made a renewed dedication to living life to the full in the most positive, purposeful, powerful, pleasant way that I could. That’s one story.
We’ll do another one. This show is very little about Barry Shore, nice guy that he is and even very little about Gary Sanchez, great guy that he is. This show is about you. It’s all about you becoming the best you. If these stories help or the information helps, everybody should be doing the Why.os because when you are the best you, you make the world a better place. You build more bridges of harmony. You create more joy, happiness, peace and love in the world. We need you. You make a difference. You are a MAD man or woman, Make A Difference.
You went through all the therapy, the PTL. You got yourself healthy again. Where did you go from there? Did you continue in that business? Did you end up selling it and doing something different?
That business, unfortunately, couldn’t be on because for the next two and a half years, I was out of business essentially. I said, “What do you want to do?” “I want to close loops.” I said, “I have time.” The good Lord said, “Mr. Shore, you got two and a half years. Do something with the time.” I went back to university. I only had one more year to go. I said, “I’ll go back. I’ll graduate.”
While I was in Amsterdam, I did attend a place called the Vrije University, which is very famous in Europe. There’s a number of them in Germany, as I’ve been in Amsterdam. It’s a great school and was free. I also studied while I was there. I went back and I got a double degree from the University of Massachusetts, which had opened up their first satellite campus in Boston. Before, it was always in Amherst. The University of Massachusetts is a very well-respected prestigious university of the United States of America with multiple old campuses and medical schools.
The first year they opened in Boston, I went and graduated double degree high in my class. I was looking to see, “What am I going to do?” Thank God I had a wonderful, loving family who tolerated me. I was taking the time to think about what I wanted to do. My mother had worked for a diamond dealer before she was married and even after she married for the first year before they had me. We were close to that family. My mother said, “Why don’t you think of doing something in diamonds?” I went to speak to her former employer, Mr. Guinness. He said, “You should go to a place called the GIA.”
GIA means nothing to most people. GIA stands for the Gemological Institute of America. It is the most famous school of its kind in the world. Everybody who’s anybody in the giant diamond or gem business goes to the GIA. When I went there in 1977, it was a small school. It was known only to insiders in the diamond business and some of the gem businesses.
They accepted me because I graduated college. I took the program. The program was very intensive. It was 8 hours a day, 5 days a week for 6 months at a time but I wanted to do it. I was good enough, great at what I did and they said, “Barry Shore, we love you. We’d like you to teach the program. You’d be 1 of 2 instructors.” The best way to learn something is to teach it.
As I learned from Elijah and my father in leveraging and shoveling snow, you teach and learn more. It was wonderful. While I was there, two wonderful things happened to me in my life that changed me entirely. One was I became close friends was my best friend of the world at the time. His name was Frank Bonham. Together, we had decided we were going to leave the Institute after a few years.
We were both there for almost three years. We decided to go out on our own and become diamond dealers. While I was there, I met and married the true diamond and jewel of my life, my wife, Naomi. It was the greatest possible move. It moved me from Boston where it snowed in the winter. You’re in your twenties. Who needs cold? You didn’t need a visa to come to Los Angeles.
I lived in Beverly Hills and the school was a couple of hours away. I drove across the country in my Volkswagen bus, which is not the same one but similar to what I used traveling around Europe. I’m living in Los Angeles and warm and loving and close friends and getting married. We’re going to go into business. I’ll make it short because from 1979 to 1981, Frank and I because of my personality and our skills, the market was booming. We bought and sold over $100 million dollars worth of diamonds in less than three years.
We made a lot of money, had a lot of fun and it was amazing. Before anybody gets jealous in any way whatsoever and say, “Look at these guys.” At the end of 1980 and by the middle of 1981, at least 80% of everything we made, we lost. It’s not because we made mistakes. The market crashed. An example, a diamond that would cost $50,000 for a 1-carat diamond in January of 1980 and we were buying and selling. By the end of 1980, it was down to $8,000.
We had a lot of inventory because we were moving. We made a lot of money. We’re selling. Things happened. You need to go through stuff in order to learn real lessons of when to buy, when to sell, when to lead, like a famous song by Kenny Rogers. It was fabulous. My wife’s still with me. My best friend, Frank, is still around. We ended up not having our business anymore because we didn’t have sufficient funds to keep going. The market was down for many years but it was quite the ride. We went through a lot of experiences and I learned a lot.
You went to the top and ended up back at the bottom.
We continue to move up. While we were doing that ride of $100 million, we had built the first and only limited partnership in California that allowed people to buy gemstones and put them in the partnership. We did some very creative things. As you said, simplify. We took an arcane idea, simplified it and said, “Look what you can do.” People say, “That’s interesting.” It was great.
When you have skills, it doesn’t matter what’s going on because markets move all the time. It’s the nature of life, the nature of business. It’s all about service and that’s why we’re here. Was there stress? Yes but part of wonderful living is how do you deal with stress. I had been through a deadly automobile accident. That was real stress. This is just money.
How did you end up paralyzed?
Let’s go on to this. Here’s the story. Let’s fast forward from the 1980s. I tried a couple of businesses. Some of them were moderately successful. Imagine the following. Standing up in the morning, hale and hearty, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound and that evening, being in the hospital, totally completely paralyzed. It was not from an automobile accident. It was not a spinal injury.
It was a rare disease that I had never heard of the day before that took over my body and rendered me a quadriplegic. That’s what it’s called. I was completely, totally paralyzed. I was 144 days in the hospital. I was two years in a hospital bed in my own home. I couldn’t turn over by myself. Four years in a wheelchair. I had braces on both my legs, my hips to my ankles. Think of Forrest Gump completely with those big braces. That was progress.
Thank God, now I’m able to be vertical and ambulatory with the help of a seven-foot walking wand. I’m a triped, not a biped. I still can’t walk up a stair or a curb by myself. I have help 12 hours a day, 7 days a week but you hear my voice, positive, purposeful, powerful and pleasant. It’s all because of that one word I told you, SMILE.
SMILE stands for Seeing Miracles In Life Every day. I have to tell you a quick story. My eight-year-old niece comes over to me and says, “Uncle Barry, can we spell smile? SMIEL.” I thought about it. It sounds the same. I said, “Why not?” I asked her, “How come?” She says, “It would stand for Seeing Miracles In Everyday Life.” Out of the mouth of babes.
What was she doing, Gary? She was creating the world she wanted to live in. CREATE is a wonderful acronym. We love working with words and acronyms. CREATE stands for Causing Rethinking, Enabling All To Excel. This is what you excel at. What you built with the WHY.os is enabling people to rethink and understand that you are in charge of your own programming. We call it normal linguistic programming. You’re in charge of your own thoughts.
When you do that, you can understand the six most important words that I teach people whenever they listen. These are choice, not chance, that determines your destiny. It’s how you respond to any given situation. Do you think it was easy being paralyzed for years? No. Did I respond by being bitter and angry? No. Did I think I’d ever even move again? In the two years, I was in a hospital bed, unable to move by myself or turn over, my vision and abilities were all focused on sitting up and putting my feet over the side of the bed. That was it. That’s what I wanted. It took me years but I did it.
How did you do it?
I call upon PTL, Prayer, Therapy and Love. I’m talking about deep prayer for myself, people that cared about me, still care about me and still say prayers for me. To other people, I look like I’m “handicapped” and therapy. We hired therapists to come to the house who would move my legs and my arms, massage this, push and try everything and anything to find mechanisms to get things happening again.
Eventually, the therapy and love paid off. Personally, it’s much easier for me to give love than receive enormous amounts of love. When people tell me by the dozen, by the hundreds, when they heard and came visiting, “We love you,” it makes you feel truly humble. It’s much easier for me to say, “I love you,” to receive it, incorporate it and allow their honest, caring feelings to suffuse my physical being and energize it. I am not just a believer. I know for a fact that love creates healing.
I have an acronym for HEALTH, which is Helping Everyone Achieve Life Through Happiness. That’s real health when you have that flow. Bitter and angry are constricting. Love is expansive. This is for me. I’ve been in lots of stuff. I’ll tell you another thing about therapy because you might find it of interest. I have a friend. We have help 12 hours a day, 7 days a week.
When I was back home after the hospital, 144 days, sometimes, they get me into a wheelchair and take me out for a stroll on the street. One of my neighbors, who we’ve known for years, comes over and says, “I heard what happened. It’s okay. I got to tell you something. I’ll have you up and walking within a year.” I’m listening to anybody. I’m still a quad at this point. He said, “I am the best aquatic therapist in America.”
How do I know that was true? It’s because he told me. I love people who are confident in what they do. Gary, you were a dentist for a long while. You didn’t go and say, “I’m an okay dentist.” You didn’t ever think that. You’re the best dentist. If you’re not, you’re not going to work on my teeth. I can tell you that.
He’s the best aquatic therapist. I’m in Southern California. We did a lot of outdoors well as indoors but pools in America have a Hoyer lift. It’s a special lift for people that are in wheelchairs, going from the wheelchair into this lift and the lift will pick you up and mechanically move you and put you in the water. Vince, the aquatic therapist, had four people working on me in the water sometimes for an hour and hour and a half at a time, with a flotation device on my legs, belly and arm so I wouldn’t sink and die and kept moving.
We did this 3, 4 times a week because I wanted something to happen. I wanted nerves to be triggered again. After about a year and a half, one day, I was in the water with people helping. I moved my arms over my head and they didn’t move my arms away. I started moving. I moved and interestingly enough, I hit my head against the side of the pool, which was great because that means I moved on my own. I said, “Let me keep doing this.”
I kept going back and forth in the pool. I was able to swim 98 minutes without stopping. They were timing me. I was in ecstasy. I swam 1 mile in 98 minutes and that was a breakthrough moment. That was not just a-ha. That was, “I couldn’t do it but I was jumping out of the water.” Imagine the whale breaching and going up high. That’s how I felt. I said, “If I could do it once, I could do it again.”
I started doing it twice a week and then 3 times a week then 4 times, 5 times a week, 6 times because I’m persevering. I am not going to let anything stop me from doing this. Over the course of the next year, it was becoming my routine. I was well-known at the pool. One day, one of my friends I swim with told me about a program. It’s a great form of swimming. I contacted the person who was responsible for it. We saw videos. I’m able to turn on my belly.
I still have flotation devices on my legs because otherwise, I’d stay sink. I was able to turn on my tummy. I have paddles on my hands. Gary, you can see my fingers don’t close. I use a snorkel. I swim on my back. I do backstroke and crawl. I swim 2 miles a day, 6 days a week. I’ve been doing this for more than a dozen years. I have over 8,400 miles that record every half-mile, mile, 2 miles, 3 miles sometimes 4 miles in a day because I’m that dedicated.
My goal is to swim around the world. I’m a mental health activist. The goal is to raise money for mental health situations. We call it Stop the Stigma. Make people aware that mental health is not something you hide from, that you can get help and it can be either cured or work with it. It’s something to be worked on and talked about.
I’m attracting Michael Phelps into my life as my swimming buddy. Together, I’ll swim 2 miles a day, he’ll swim 2 miles a day and we’ll swim 1,000 miles in a year. People will kick in their $0.02 worth. Do you know how you say, “This is my $0.02 worth of something?” I’m in for $0.02, 1,000 miles, $20. We’ll have hundreds of thousands of people giving $20 to raise millions of dollars for mental health situations.
We’ll attract more celebrities to do this and create a whole revolution so that we’re swimming around the world. It’s 24,901 miles around the world. I have 8,400 already but I got 16,000 more to go. We’ll raise awareness. We’ll raise money and have a lot of fun. Barry Shore is swimming around the world. From quadriplegic to swimming around the world. You can do something in your life also. Go MAD. Go make a difference.
This is something for me. It came about because of lying in bed as a quadriplegic for years and thinking about it. Prior to being paralyzed, I was in business. I created two companies that I sold to other public companies, multimillion-dollar exits at the beginning of the internet, 1997, 1998. I had three US patents. I’m doing stuff.
Due to research into the human condition and being in a human condition, paralyzed, I had a lot of time to think about it. I formulated the 11 Strategies for Learning How to Live, Enjoy Daily, No Matter the Situation. The subtitle is How to Slay Stress and Be Happy. As an example of something deep, I put all of this into my mind. I’m making an analogy. Think of somebody who’s in prison. You don’t have the ability to write things down because they didn’t give you the time about real stuff.
You think about it. You dwell on it. You formulate it and you can see it. You see my hands, Gary. I thank God I can write and type out with two fingers to put it on paper or on-screen what I was thinking about. These eleven strategies are so good because they work like what you do with WHY.os. The reason people flock to you is because WHY.os works. It’s that simple. It’s something that works. That is a benefit to me.
To everybody reading, this show is about you. That’s who you care about. That’s great. You tune in because you care the most in the whole world about you. That’s wonderful. Self-enlightened interest is wonderful. What happened is that I was asked to speak to people because of the story. It’s a great story. I was articulating and writing down. People say I should write a book. I was thinking about it.
After a certain amount of years, I made the time to put onto the paper what it is we want you to do, got an editor. Some of the stories I’ve already told you like the story about Elijah, about shoveling snow. They are in the book because the book is not just read about Barry Shore’s life. The first two chapters are about stress, the debilitating aspects of stress and how to leverage stress. You can use stress to your advantage.
How do you build muscle? You need the stress. You’re a doctor, Gary. It’s the ability to understand the stress and then work with the eleven strategies. One of them is SMILE, Seeing Miracles In Life Every Day. I’ll tell you one great story. Here I am at the pool and getting the Hoyer lift into the water. I’m swimming in this special lane they call the handicapped lane, special needs lane.
Next to me is a woman who’s walking in the water. Her name is Aita. At the time, she was 95. I rest once in a while and we’re talking. Over the course of a couple of weeks, she said, “Barry, I love your energy. I’m 95. I’m happy I’m alive but I want to be like you. I want to be happy as you.” I said, “You want to be me?” She said, “Yes. I want to be the best me. Will you work with me?” I said, “I’d be honored to.”
I’m going to tell you two stories. Of the eleven strategies, one of them is called Get Uncomfortable. Barry, I don’t like being uncomfortable. Get uncomfortable. We’re not talking about walking around with a pebble in your shoe all day. We’re talking about talking to Gary Sanchez as a dentist. I teach people how to brush their teeth with their non-dominant hand.
When you brush your teeth, you should do at least two minutes without stopping. When you do it with your dominant hand, it becomes a mindless activity. I don’t mean electric, even though I use electric. It’s good to do it. For me, my left hand’s non-dominant. You got to think about it, especially when you don’t do electric. Even if you do electric, you have to think about it because it’s uncomfortable. That’s the purpose, being mindful.
The strategy Aita liked the most was get uncomfortable. We worked with all eleven but this is the one that resonated with her. You should applaud this because it’s not me. It’s about her. I had the opportunity to sing. I sing to her whenever we see each other. She said, “Barry, sing me a song,” whether we’re in the pool or other places. I sang happy birthday to Aita on her 109th birthday. She’ll tell anybody who listens and say, “He’s the guy who didn’t just keep me alive. He kept me alive and happy.” Don’t take it from me. These strategies work from this book, The JOY of LIVING: How to Slay Stress and Be Happy.
Gary, with your permission, we’re going to do something amazing. To anybody who wants the book, we’re going to give 22% off if you go to BarryShore.com/book. It sells at $15.95 on Amazon. You get it from our site. It’ll be 22% off as a physical or eBook either way. That will include shipping and handling and sales tax because we want everybody to have the book. It sells very well but it’s not just a book of stories. At the end of each chapter, it has simplified takeaways and things to do for your benefit. This is all about you.
The book is a handbook, a guidebook. Don’t take it from me. Take it from Aita. Take it from the story about David. Take the story about Heather. These Keep Smiling cards that we give out are another one of the strategies that saves lives. Dozens of people have not committed suicide. They’ve told me. I’ve gotten emails because they got to a Keep Smiling card from somebody. There was a human touch. I’m going to leave you with one last story if I may because you wanted me to speak about the best advice you’ve ever had, right?
I was about to ask you for the best advice you’ve ever been given or given.
Here we go. Everybody put on your seatbelt. Here it is. Learn to love dog poop. Did Barry Shore say, “Learn to love dog poop?” Yes. Remember three things, three fundamentals. Life has a purpose, go MAD. Make a difference and unlock the power and the sequence of everyday words in terms. DOG POOP stands for Doing The Good, Power Of One Person.
One of the strategies is your words matter. You recognize the power that you have. When you think, speak and do good, that energy can never dissipate. It can never be stopped. It goes around the world. It will touch you, your family, your friends and all living beings. We need you more than ever. You need me. You need Gary. Every single one of us.
When you recognize that you have that power, the power of one person reaching out to another, that’s it, doing of good, power of one person. Next time you see dog poop, you say, “I love dog poop.” They’ll say, “What are you talking about?” “I heard Barry Shore and Gary Sanchez. He said you’ve got to love dog poop.” It opens up the ability to have a conversation, doesn’t it, Gary?
For sure. I was waiting to ask you the question that you answered without me asking. While you answered the question I hadn’t yet asked, you brought up something that I had written on my paper here and put a big box around it. That was the power of word choices. I’m curious, have you always focused on the words that bring you energy? Tell us what you believe about word choices.
I have been involved with words since I was below the age of 9, probably even the ages of 4 and 5. I was already involved with books. I was a conversationalist, a storyteller. I was around storytellers. My mother was a great storyteller. My father, Les, I’ll be told some stories and the people they associated with something called the Gin Club.
That doesn’t mean they drank gin. They played gin rummy. They were 5 or 6 couples. They would play cards but the cards were their way of being together as 10 or 12 people and telling stories. Listening to adults or people who were older kids tell stories is always fascinating. When I see the word, words, I look at that and I say, “What is that?” Look at that. Words are so powerful.
In Proverbs, ancient wisdom text, which is the acronym for AWE. AWE stands for Ancient Wisdom Educates. That’s what you say, AWE. Proverbs says, “Life and death are in the hands of the tongue.” That is so important. You can hurt so deeply with words. You can raise up, as I have been benefited by people telling me, “I love you,” when I was from the car accident and paralyzed. Those words penetrated.
If you look at the word, words, if you move the S from the end of the words to the front, it spells a sword. A sword is a very interesting item because a sword can do several things. It cuts. It can be used as an offensive weapon. It can be used as a defensive weapon. A small sword can be called a scalpel. It can be used to heal. It’s the ability to look at this thing called words and understand their power of them.
I’ll leave you with one story. I speak to groups sometimes as few as 50 sometimes as many as 5,200. People ask me, “Where did you find the strength to do this stuff and get through and not be bitter, not be angry and feel power positive, purposeful, powerful and pleasant?” It’s because of my mother. My mother was born more than 100 years ago with a large red wine stain through three-quarters of her face.
Imagine kids in school nowadays. Is bullying something? Yes. We’re cognizant of it, all that stuff. A hundred years ago, bullies were bullies. Kids are kids. It’s amazing to say this. My mother didn’t get through the process that she had this and lived with it. She was beyond it. She learned at some age that the people who made fun of her, that was their problem, not hers.
How adult is that for a kid? How do we know some of this? It’s because as kids, we were growing up so she still kept a lot of friends. She always made friends from high school. Her high school friends would come to the house. We knew them. They say, “This is your mother. This is Frances. What do you want?” That’s who she was.
My mother always wore heavy pancake makeup and stuff because she didn’t want to have it. It was also pockmarked but it’s my mother. When she didn’t have the makeup on, it’s my mother. It wasn’t that she carried a chip. She was free from that. She lived life so fully that it was beside the point. She had the regular stresses of life, family and income but it wasn’t that. I learned very early on, this is my model for living in joy daily, no matter the circumstances.
Barry, if there are people that want to get a hold of you, follow you, learn more about you, how should they best connect with you?
Everybody should. That’s number one, Gary. The best way is to go to www.BarryShore.com. Go there and you’ll see that there’s a free mini-class that we give. The videos are fabulous. Thousands of people tell me this. I’m not saying it. People tell me, “This makes a difference in people’s life.” That’s free. We have a free newsletter. We’re here to serve. We’re here to grow.
We’re building a community called The Joy of Living Community. We’re making it virtually with no barrier to entry. We charge $10 a month, a very small amount because you need to charge something to be able to have people have value but the value of $10 a month, $120 a year. The value is in the thousands because you get a webinar with me. You get the full course, a $197 value. You get a copy of the book for free, a joy package. It’s thousands and thousands of dollars worth of value.
We want people to be in the community because then you learn about dog poop and share it with other people in the community. It’s not limited to the United States. We live in an interconnected global environment that everybody wants to learn how to reduce, mitigate, maybe even eliminate debilitating stress and live in joy daily. Who doesn’t want that in their life? That’s how to contact. www.BarryShore.com. Do it. You’ll be happy. Thank Gary.
Barry, thank you so much for taking the time to be here. I’m looking forward to staying connected as we go on our journeys. I love what you’re doing. Count me in. I’m going to go over there and sign up. Thank you so much for being here and we’ll stay connected.
Can we leave everybody with a blessing? Our blessing from Gary and Barry is to go forth, live exuberantly, spread the seeds of joy, happiness, peace and love. Go MAD. Go make a difference.
Known as the “Ambassador of JOY,” Barry Shore is a mental health activist, philanthropist, multi-patent holding entrepreneur, speaker, author, podcaster, and former quadriplegic who is now swimming around the world! Barry’s podcast, The JOY of LIVING, is heard globally by hundreds of thousands and has over three million downloads.His latest book, The Joy of Living: How to Slay Stress and Be Happy is available on Amazon and Apple Books.
After a rare disease paralyzed Barry from the neck down, he created the JOY of LIVING Institute™ (a platform that teaches people to live in joy, no matter the situation), The Keep Smiling movement that has reached multiple celebrities and distributed millions of “Keep Smiling” cards worldwide, and Changebowl which is a philanthropic platform featured in Oprah’s Magazine.
Whether you work closely with a Contribute coworker or have a Contribute boss, consider yourself one of the lucky ones. Not all of the WHYs are quite so kind, giving, and caring in the workplace. When it comes to having a Contribute in your professional life there are a few things you need to know:
They love to help
Contributes are there for you and they are there for the company. They want to feel like they are bringing as much to the table as possible so that their contributions are seen. Those with the WHY of Contribute find it thoroughly rewarding to be a part of something bigger than themselves. They love team interaction, collaboration, and uplifting the team. If you ask for their input or their help – you will get a yes.
Know when to not ask them for help
If you know anything about those with the WHY of Contribute, it is that they are all about adding value where they can. They want to be a part of the cause and they never want to let someone (or the team) down. This can be a downfall for Contributes as they aren’t the best at saying no. You can end up burdening them or overwhelming them with work if you’re not careful. Be sure if you are going to ask them for help that you make sure they have the capacity to do so first.
Praise their Hard work
As much as a Contribute will never ask for it, and may deny it for fear of drawing too much attention to them – let them know when they’ve done great work. If they helped you with something, thank them. If they kicked butt on a project, let them know. If they brought a smile to your work day, smile back. A little goes a long way with Contributes and they do more behind the scenes than people realize – just to help the team.
If you are lucky enough to work side by side or in collaboration with a Contribute, let their hard work be noticed, don’t take advantage of their desire to give selflessly, and let them lead from time to time – they actually make great leaders!
–Shoutout to my own Contribute coworkers – you know who you are – thank you for always being willing to take on tasks, step up, step in, and do some amazing work! We couldn’t do what we love without you.–