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Breaking Barriers Through Language: The WHY Of Make Sense With Gregory V. Diehl

BYW S4 14 | Breaking Barriers

Teaching or learning a language is one way of breaking barriers between people. Gregory V. Diehl is a thinker, author, and mentor whose travels and strong WHY of Make Sense have taken him across the world. Dr. Gary Sanchez catches up with Gregory as they talk about one of his new works: helping Armenians learn the English language and training teachers to teach more effectively. We hear about Gregory’s roots, how he discovered his WHY, and his experiences as a digital nomad. Stay tuned and be inspired by Gregory as we explore his works and his purpose.

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Breaking Barriers Through Language: The WHY Of Make Sense With Gregory V. Diehl

We go beyond talking about your why, helping you discover and then live your why. If you are a regular reader, you know that every episode we talk about 1 of the 9 why’s, and then we bring on somebody with that why, so you can see how their why has played out in their life. In this episode, we are going to be talking about the why of make sense.

If this is your why that 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 solve problems quickly. You also have the gift of articulating solutions and summarizing them clearly in understandable language. You believe that many people are stuck, and if they could make sense out of their situation, they could develop simple solutions and move forward. In essence, you help people get unstuck and move progress forward.

I’ve got a great guest for you. His name is Gregory Diehl, a personal development mentor whose ideals include self-inquiry, challenge, and analysis for the purpose of helping people to discover who they are. He writes to assist others in undoing faulty narratives about who they are and how life works so that they may begin to make more meaningful choices and resolve their deepest burdens. Diehl spent many years studying cultures around the world. He now lives a quiet life in a rural village in Armenia with his cats, book and music. Gregory, welcome to the show.

First, thanks for having me. Second, that long description you gave of the person who has made sense as their why describes me probably better than anyone has ever described to me before in my life. In fact, that’s a major part of the reason why I write books. From a very young age, I realized I had this uncanny ability to figure out how things work. More importantly than that, articulate those things for other people.

That manifested in many ways in my life. Getting involved in various education-related professions eventually got me into sales, too. I realized a lot of selling was explaining to people how something worked and why they needed it. It mostly takes the form of my writing. Most of the stuff I write can be described as that, me trying to explain some complex and important topics for people to make sense out of it.

Let’s go back then. Take us through, Gregory. I know you are in Armenia now, which we will get to at some point. Where were you born? What were you like in high school? Tell us a little bit about you.

I was born in San Diego, California, and spent the first eighteen years of my life there. I became obsessed with trying to make sense out of the world. I did that primarily by traveling for the next ten years or so. I wanted to see as many different parts of the world as I could because I was curious about how this place worked. I didn’t accept the explanations and the stories given to me by common sources of knowledge about how the world worked.

I did that for a while and felt like I was starting to make sense out of the world. I decided I needed to spend more time focusing on myself. A few years ago, I came to Armenia. My grandmother was from Armenia. I’m partially descended from here. I was able to get citizenship by descent. I bought an old house in disrepair in a village. Since then, I have been fixing it up and building a life for myself here in that time. It was right before Coronavirus happened, which made travel much more difficult anyway. It was a good time for me to stop traveling.

What happened to you after high school? What are the different places you traveled to? How did you pick them?

I have been to about 56 countries now. The first place I went to was Costa Rica, and that was mostly a convenient thing. It was an easy place for a young California to go hang out for a while with no responsibilities and worries, little money. After that, I wanted to see much more difficult and challenging places. I had to learn how to support myself financially sometimes by taking English teaching jobs locally or learning how to work online and start my own entrepreneurial endeavors, which is a big part of my life now.

BYW S4 14 | Breaking Barriers
Breaking Barriers: The greatest insights and benefits of human intelligence and consciousness come when people are free to pursue what they are interested in and passionate about.

 

It was mostly about saying what place will challenge me the most to make me the most uncomfortable because how its culture works, politics, laws, and the way they do things is totally different than what I’m expecting. To date, I would say the worst place I have ever been in is China. They have a lot of very strange totalitarian and authoritarian policies that hurt the soul of someone like me who values freedom, passion and individuality.

Iraq was another difficult one. There had been a lot of great places, too. Other places that people love to go on vacations like Costa Rica, Bali or something. A place like Armenia is interesting. Not just because they have the family connection here but it’s the place that seems full of talented and skilled people who don’t have a sense of direction for their country or themselves. It’s very strange.

I have coined a term for it, “Armenian self-defeatism syndrome.” It’s one thing if you don’t have the resources or education, which a lot of developing countries don’t. In Armenia, I feel like they mostly have those things. They lack this self-esteem or self-confidence, which is very strange. It’s like the opposite of the American way of life, which is almost that we are too confident. We believe too much in ourselves and are quite pompous to a degree about those things. I don’t know. It’s an interesting experiment for me to try to be here and see if I can positively influence the country in a certain direction.

Here’s what’s going through my mind now. I’m sure a lot of the people that are reading this are thinking the same thing. Take us back to that moment in time where you said to yourself, “I’m not going to do traditional. I’m not going to follow the path everybody else from San Diego where my class is following. I’m going to go off and travel for the rest of my life.” What was that conversation? What was going on? How did you come to that conclusion?

At any age, but especially when you are young, it’s almost impossible to know that the choice you are making is the right choice if you are trying to pick a life direction. This is why it never made sense to me to commit myself to something like a four-year Bachelor’s degree at college, even though I was quite smart and enjoyed learning. I did well in school when I tried it and cared enough to try.

That idea never inherently made sense to me, and no adult proposing that idea ever explained it in a very convincing way. It was always a matter of, “This is what people do.” What are you going to do if you don’t do this? I don’t know but I bet there’s some other option out there that I could figure one out and I did. It was like most of the people my age seemed like made that choice out of a fear of not knowing what else to do. There are some exceptions. I knew a few people who went to school because they were genuinely passionate about studying things like Theoretical Physics. Good on it that they figured out that’s what they wanted to do.

At least 90% of the people when you are eighteen years old and finished high school has no idea what you want to do. I knew I didn’t want to do that. Pretty much anything else would be a superior option to something I knew I didn’t want to do because at least something else would be learning something new about myself.

How did you know you didn’t want to do that?

I saw nothing of myself in that path. There was no part of me that felt like my values and personality would be serviced or fulfilled in any way by going to a university for the purposes of getting a degree or a general education. Perhaps it would have been different if I had been one of those guys who knew for sure, “This is the subject I want to study. I want to be a spinal surgeon, and this is the path I have to take to do that.” That wasn’t me. I don’t think that’s most people. It didn’t make sense to me that it was what I should be doing with my life at that time.

In your senior year in high school, what were you like? How would you describe yourself?

In my senior year of high school, I turned eighteen very early into the year. I moved into a van on my eighteenth birthday, an old Ford Econoline. It sounds like I’m making this up but this happened. I spent a year living in a van before I started traveling and became known around the school as that guy who lived in a van and didn’t wear shoes to school.

When you're young, it's almost impossible to know that the choice you're making is the right choice. Click To Tweet

We are getting a clearer picture of what you were like. You are not in some prep school, prepped out, everybody is going to college, and you decided, “I’m not going to.” You were the guy living in the van.

I still did well in school when I cared enough to because I was a smart guy and knew how to take tests well. It was totally about freedom for me. I didn’t see any other way at that time to get freedom from my parents, the rules of how young men were supposed to live and function. If I had been less reckless, perhaps I would have saved up money to rent an apartment or move out on my own. I had a van. I liked the van and the freedom to sleep anywhere and have all my possessions with me at any time. That’s what I did because it made sense to me. The Occam’s razor solution was the easiest possible way to gain independence and freedom.

Why were independence and freedom so important to you?

I don’t like other people telling me what to do and telling other people what to do either, which I mentioned in China before. It was like the antithesis of me because China is where everybody is told what to do all the time to the point that they don’t even realize they are being told what to do because it’s normal for them. The greatest insights and benefits of human intelligence and consciousness come when people are free to pursue what they are interested in and passionate about in whatever way that happens to show up for them, free to form their own lifestyles, beyond whatever arbitrary norms, the culture they live in.

It tells them they should be doing like, “Why not live in a van? Why, because most people don’t do it, and you don’t have running water and a toilet with you at all times?” You will find solutions to those things. That’s a silly example. Obviously, I don’t live in a van anymore. I wouldn’t want to do that anymore. At least not long-term but it’s an example of how an independently minded person can find alternative solutions to lifestyle problems. If you don’t want to live with your parents, you don’t have a place of your own, why not sleep in a car? What’s stopping you? Only you or maybe it’s illegal where you are from. I don’t know.

You became very committed to this idea of freedom.

Yes. Obviously, that was heightened more by my obsession with independent travel after the van. I was like, “What else can I do now to live life the way I want to?” I will move to a Latin American country where I don’t speak the language, nobody knows me, and I don’t need much money to survive.

What was that influence on you that helped you to think this way? You don’t wake up and say, “I’m going to be free for anything I want to do, whenever I want to do it, and how I want to do it.” What influenced you to think like that?

It’s going to sound crazy but there never was a person or a movie I watched or a book I read that put this idea in my head. Obviously, I had read books, watched movies, and met people who influenced me in various ways but it has always been me assessing what is possible and how is that different than what people typically do. There has always been a very clear distinction between those two concepts for me. My parents, the school, society say, “Do this.”

Why is everyone saying do that? Is that how reality works? There are rules to reality. Certainly, we tend to call them things like the Laws of Physics. There are limitations to what we can do but then there are other rules that people make up and insist on. This is also true in the same way like gravity and thermodynamics are true. Those are true in an absolute way that none of us can change. All these other things are stuff people started doing and insisted was the right way to do things.

Some of them do make sense. Some of them are good ideas generally. A lot of them don’t, and they are quite arbitrary. That’s the thing that gets reinforced by travel because you see that, in this country, they do things this way. Everybody is sure that this is the correct way to do them. You step over the border in another country and they are doing things this way. They are all sure that this is the correct way to do them.

BYW S4 14 | Breaking Barriers
Breaking Barriers: Your life is going to have challenges and trials, which you’re going to spend your whole life chasing after because it’s the only thing you’re going to find meaningful.

 

What’s great about talking with you is you had the courage to follow up on what you thought where most of us didn’t. We may have thought what you thought but weren’t willing to live our life that way. We weren’t willing to make that a choice for us full-time like you were.

It helps that I started so young. Perhaps if I had waited a few years longer and gotten entrenched in some job, school or something, it would have been harder. As people get older, they invest their lives into a certain mode of being, which often includes financially and professionally but not just that. It becomes harder to accept the risk of dismantling that, losing that if they make major systemic changes to their lives.

It is part of why I had to learn how to do things like making money online in an independent way because that allowed me to live still wherever I wanted. Even though I have been here a few years, I could get a plane to the other side of the world and mostly keep working. I’m making money and continuing my professional life roughly the same way I do here because all it takes is an internet connection.

You started in Costa Rica, and then you went from country to country. How did you determine what you were going to do, how were you going to do it, and all the rest? How did you figure that out? Was it, “Whatever I feel like what I’m going to go do?”

That’s mostly curiosity. That’s what impels us to do most new things. We want to see what will happen. Anytime we are not trying to do something new, we are trying to repeat something we already know, which is not bad. We want a certain amount of familiarity in your life. Things that you know and enjoy but I was curious about myself and the world.

I know how things work in Latin America. How do they work in Asia? I don’t know. Let’s find out. What other things will I learn about myself by doing this? What new parts of my personality will I see? I didn’t realize it was possible for me to hate a place as much as I hate this place. Let’s go find a place that I love more than I knew was possible for me to do so.

Your favorite place was what? Your least favorite place was what?

China is absolutely my least favorite. That’s no contest there. Favorite is hard to decide because any place can be interesting for a few weeks or even a few months. They are not necessarily the places you would want to live, invest in yourself long-term, build a social network and be part of the community. Obviously, I’m here in Armenia.

I have been here longer than any other place that I have been in a very long time. There must be something I like about this place but is it perfect? Do I still miss the tropics sometimes, coconuts, papayas, and other little lifestyle benefits that come from other parts of the world or friendlier places where people treat me a certain way? Yes, maybe to a degree.

It forces you to confront what is most important to me and my recurring experience of reality, as opposed to, “I love hanging out on the beach for a weekend or the way people treat me in this culture or the mountains in this country.” Do you need to see those things every day? Are you glad that you had the experience once, twice or maybe once a year even, who knows?

It sounds like a lot of alone time in your travels.

Curiosity is what impels us to do most new things. Click To Tweet

Yes and no. For a lot of it, I was certainly traveling alone and felt alienated from many of the cultures I went to. Being an English speaker is useful because it was English in about every country in this world so far that I have found. Several years into my travels, I eventually realized that there was something called a digital nomad, which was other people doing the same thing I was doing in a different way, working from a laptop and hanging out in Bali, Thailand or whatever. At a certain point, it became easier to join communities of perpetual travelers and tourists.

That changed my perspective a lot because for the first five years, at least, I was like, “This is me versus the world. I’m not doing my own thing that nobody understands. There are other people doing this. It’s a similar thing, not quite the same thing I’m doing.” It’s another way your mind opens where you think you are doing one thing. You think these are your options, and then you realize is that there’s this whole other world you haven’t explored yet. I’m always looking for more and discovering new options for myself, even here in Armenia, getting involved in new projects, meeting new people. My perspective is constantly changing.

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned or a lesson you gained from your time as a digital nomad?

Much of what I have learned from travel is the variety of experiences that come from living this life could be more broadly said to apply to all of life. What we call wisdom is typically being able to derive the principle from a set of experiences and generalize it to all things. You experienced one thing one way, and you realize, “This is true for other kinds of experiences, too.” We call that wisdom typically. The most important thing I have learned from having a wide variety of experiences is that you need to find out what is most important to you out of all possible types of experiences you could have. Anything could be stimulating, entertaining, exciting when it’s new, or even the first few times you do it.

Eventually, you realize this is not sustainably fulfilling to me. There’s something else I want to do, and this isn’t it. What is the thing I should be doing every day of my life that I will continue to find meaningful and get better at? When you get good at any given scalar domain of knowledge, the first 99% you learn it, and you think you understand it.

There’s that remaining 1% that gets increasingly more refined the more you learn about it. I’m a musician. I like playing the piano. There’s one behind me and a few other instruments like the guitar. I’m pretty good at them. I’m probably better than 9 out of 10 people who play them. I watched people who dedicate their lives to these things.

Through things, I can’t even understand like, “How are they playing that many notes so fast and memorizing all these complex pieces?” That’s not my passion. That’s not the thing I need to be doing every day of my life but for those people, it is. There are other things that I do every single day of my life that other people would say, “How do you do this every day? How are you so obsessed with this? How do you reach the levels of refinement on that?”

It’s genuinely fulfilling to me. I would feel like there’s something wrong with me if I weren’t doing it. If you could find out what that thing is, preferably as soon as possible, you can start incorporating that into your life as much as possible. That’s a pretty good way to guarantee some level of happiness, fulfillment, and if you are entrepreneurial, professional success in life, too.

What was that thing that you figured out was most important to you?

It’s what I started talking about. I like explaining how things work because I am the guy who needs to make sense out of things. More than that, I’m the guy who sees problems in everything around me. It’s quite infuriating. In fact, one of the only ways I manage the frustration and the pain that comes from seeing inefficiencies, misconceptions, mistakes in the way people do things all around me is that I try to help fix those things and explain to people, “Here’s a better way to do that.”

First, I started teaching English here for free at the community center in town because I saw the level of English education here. It was atrocious. I’m not particularly passionate about teaching English. I’m passionate about the English language and communication. That’s why I’m a writer but I saw a problem that I was in a unique position to fix. These people have horrible options for learning English, a skill that will help them throughout life, especially if they want to work internationally and travel.

BYW S4 14 | Breaking Barriers
Breaking Barriers: We’re all in a position to improve the way things are done to create something that didn’t exist before to change the world for the better and perhaps make money at the same time. Why not? That’s what the purpose of entrepreneurship is.

 

That’s going to be much better to speak English than Armenian because no other country speaks Armenian, and every country speaks English to some degree. I felt like I needed to do something to help because I could. I see the problem and the solution, and frankly, no one else is going to do this if I don’t do it. Now that’s turned into I’m teaching other people how to teach English.

I have scaled up to the next level because there was enough of want for this and a need for this solution that, “I can’t teach everyone in the country how to speak English. I’m going to teach other people how to be better English teachers.” What will happen after that? I don’t know. It’s an example of what I need to do for my life to be tolerable or meaningful. I have to solve the problems that I see.

Interestingly, you say it that way because that’s what we believe. When you are able to live your why, you will have passion for what you do. People say, “I’ve got to find my passion.” If what you do is in line with why you do what you do, you will have passion for what you do. Passion is that fuel that gives you the energy to keep pursuing your dreams. In your case, if your why is to make sense out of complex and challenging things, and then you get to do that every day like you said, how much better does it get than that?

I don’t know what other life there is for someone like me. Frankly, I can’t picture there isn’t anything else. I don’t know what that would be.

If you are able to help the people that you are helping discover their why and live their why, they will have that same passion. That’s what’s fueled me exactly what you are talking about right there. If you speak to them in your language of making sense out of things, they may or may not get it but if you are able to speak to them in the language they speak, the same thing. You speak English, they speak Armenian. You don’t speak it.

How good is your communication with them? If you can speak to them in Armenian, we are having a real conversation, even though you are good at English. If you can figure out what their why is and speak to them and their language, the way they want to hear it, it’s so much more effective than speaking in the way you want to say it.

On that note, it has been very hard for me to find people I could look up to as mentors or advice-givers. That’s part of the reason why I was so obsessed with learning things myself, experimenting, seeing the world myself because I didn’t trust what other people had to say about almost anything. Part of that is because they don’t speak my language.

They can’t explain things in a way that will make sense to me or I don’t believe what they are saying for whatever reason. I don’t trust their authority with rare exceptions. There have been some truly great figures in my life but it has always been hard for me to accept what other people tell me is true or is a good idea. I have realized this because not many people speak the same language I do.

I try to embody as much of that language as I can in my writing or teaching. Not to tell everyone you should speak the language I do because it’s the best language. Rather provide an option for other people who do speak that language and think that no one else does like I once did. There will be some people who read one of my books or hear what I have to say and say, “Finally, this guy is saying the thing I have been waiting my whole life for someone to say, “I didn’t know people were saying these things.”

We have a lot of coaches that we have trained in how to utilize the why and the Why OS. This one exercise I did, I didn’t know how it was going to turn out. What I did was I separated all of the coaches into rooms with people that had the same why. That would be putting you in a room with people that all have the why of makes sense.

When we brought everybody back together and said, “What was that like for you?” They were like, “I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to speak to somebody who understood me, somebody who I could connect with right away.” That’s what you are talking about. Let’s talk about your book. In the marketing of your book, if you say something along the lines of, “This book is meant for people that are trying to make sense of these complex things.” If that’s what you are trying to do, you are going to like this.

What we call wisdom is just being able to derive the principle from a set of experiences and generalize it to all things. Click To Tweet

It’s interesting because I have written a few of my own books. I’m working on my fifth now. I have helped a lot of other people produce and publish their books, too. There are always several stages it goes through like any product you develop. There’s a beta rating process for people to read the rough draft and say, “I don’t understand this part. What are you talking about? I like this part.” You figure out, “We have to write a book description. How are we going to describe to people what this book is about? We have to pick a title and a subtitle that speaks to that point.”

At least with all of my books, there have always been some people who love them and say things like, “You need to tone this down. Their language use here is way too esoteric. You need to make it more friendly to general audiences.” Those people don’t understand that’s the opposite of what I’m trying to do. I am not trying to force it to be a specific way to be contrary. I’m trying to embody a particular voice in a particular way of thinking about things that are not very well-represented already.

Everything from the title to the book description to the actual content of the book, I want people to look at the book and the cover. Read the title, the description and say, “I’m going to learn things in this book that no other book is going to teach me. This book is made for someone like me.” I have gotten better at that because that is a lot of the responses I get.

When I have interactions with readers, they say, “I read your whole book and learned so many things that nobody else talks about.” I’m like, “I’m glad that the title intrigued you enough that you realized this is the book you should be reading.” Maybe for other readers, they read it and say, “Why would I read a book called that? What’s that got to do with me?” Probably nothing. Don’t read it. It’s fine. Go read another book.

What’s your latest book?

My latest book is either going to intrigue you or has no idea what it’s about, The Heroic and Exceptional Minority: A Guide to Mythological Self-Awareness and Growth. What does that mean?

My mind would go right to the person from Mexico who’s come over to the US, a hero to his people, and turns out to be an amazing minority. That’s where I would have gotten it.

It’s one connotation of the word minority, cultural and racial minority. The word exceptional speaks an exception to the rule literally. Someone who is an outlier, different in some important way, such that you cannot categorize them the same as whatever the norm happens to be. Heroism obviously has a lot of different connotations and interpretations of what does it mean to be heroic. Does it mean saving a cat from a tree? Does it mean self-sacrifice?

I’m very clear and specific in how I define and use these terms in the book. The hero is somebody who goes to extreme lengths to embody their values, which often means at the cost of great personal expense, which might even be dying for what you believe in. It usually means somebody who struggles to accomplish what is important to them that is surreal to them. Exceptional, meaning that they are different somehow than the norm. It might mean that they are smarter, have some ability or perspective that not very many people have.

It might be that they see things differently, and it’s hard for them to communicate their perspective on things to other people. This book is for those kinds of people who are outliers, who are different but feel impelled by what I define as his heroic values to do something meaningful with what makes them exceptional. Those will be different for each person but these principles will be the same for all of them. The purpose of the book, it’s broken up into 36 short chapters, is to discuss different aspects of the life of this person and particularly things you are probably going to struggle with if you are this person, and what to do about that.

What prompted you to write that book?

BYW S4 14 | Breaking Barriers
The Heroic and Exceptional Minority: A Guide to Mythological Self-Awareness and Growth
– https://www.amazon.com/Heroic-Exceptional-Minority-Mythological-Self-Awareness-ebook/dp/B09GD25JBV

I didn’t have many people to say, “Gregory, here’s the deal. You are this person. Your life is going to have these kinds of challenges and trials. These are the things you are going to spend your whole life chasing after because it’s the only thing you are going to find meaningful.” Nobody ever said anything remotely like that to me.

I had to figure that out myself slowly or I give several examples in the book of watching mythological-themed movies or reading books that have certain moral mythological lessons to them, whether that’s something popular and well known. Star Wars has heroic mythological stories of resisting the dark side, staying true to yourself, and rescuing your father from his darkness.

In the Lion King, Simba becomes the king he was supposed to be and rejects hedonism to take on responsibility. I pause that those timeless mythological stories often give us guidance that we might not have in our personal lives. If we don’t have an Obi-Wan Kenobi or a Gandalf in our lives to tell us, “Frodo, this is the journey you are on. Luke, you have to learn to use the force,” which I think frankly, very few of us do.

We still have this architectural idea of what these people are supposed to be and the guidance they are supposed to give us. We can still piece together these universal timeless trues on our own if we are willing to explore and experiment and deal with the costs of doing all those things. This book is meant to summarize all that and say to them, “You are not crazy. If you respond to what is in this book, I’m almost certain that you are this person, so maybe take these things into consideration.”

You discovered your why but there’s also your Why OS. It’s called your Why Operating System, which is your why you do what you do, how you bring that to life, and ultimately what people can count on from you. Based on our conversation, and I bet a lot of the readers would pick this up, your why, which we already know is to make sense out of the complex and challenging. You are a great problem solver. You see things that are keeping people stuck and helping them solve them.

How you go about doing that is by challenging the status quo, thinking differently, thinking outside the box, imagining stuff the rest of us have never even seen. Ultimately, what you bring is a better way to move forward, get results, and live the life that you want. Your why would make sense. Your how would be challenging the status quo, and your what would be finding a better way.

You have described entrepreneurship in a nutshell, which I have also mentioned a few times here. This book isn’t specifically about entrepreneurship but everything described here could be called entrepreneurial principles, which is the subject of my next book. The working title is Everyone is An Entrepreneur, which is about realizing that we are all in a position to improve the way things are done and create something that didn’t exist before to change the world for the better and perhaps make money at the same time. Why not? That’s what the purpose of entrepreneurship, to receive profit for improving the way things are done or creating something that didn’t exist before, which is a very heroic approach to life, at least according to the way I’m using the term heroic.

Last question for you, what’s the best piece of advice you have ever received?

I haven’t received a lot of good advice in my life, unfortunately. The best piece of advice I should have received is if there had been somebody to say this in my language, maybe there were people who tried to say it in ways that I wasn’t ready to hear that’s quite possible. There’s somebody who could have said it in the way that I would have responded to, it would have been, “Gregory, you are not crazy. You are pretty bright and good at figuring things out but you are going to make a lot of mistakes in the process of figuring things out.”

Some of those mistakes are going to have long-term consequences that you might even think at the time you can never recover from but you should at least proceed with the self-confidence that there is a meaning to your madness. You are not just chaotically searching and exploring for no purpose. You are discovering something about yourself that is meaningful and important.

No one can tell you exactly what that’s going to end up being but know that you are not crazy. There is something to this. You have to figure out what that something is yourself. That conversation probably would have changed my life and saved me several years of mistakes. Maybe I would have ignored it completely, interested in everything the same anyway. That’s also possible.

We can still piece together these universal, timeless truths on our own if we're willing to explore, experiment, and deal with the costs of doing all those things. Click To Tweet

If there are people that are reading that want to connect with you, buy your book, and want to learn more about what you are doing, what’s the best way for them to get in touch with you?

The book is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or any major online retailer. The title is The Heroic and Exceptional Minority. If you want to contact me, I’m on Facebook or go to my website, GregoryDiehl.net.

Gregory, thank you so much for being here with us. I have enjoyed our conversation. You have gotten me to see things differently. Now that I know what the title of your book is about, it makes a lot more sense to me. I’m excited to check it out. Thank you so much for being on the show.

Thanks for having me.

It’s time for our new segment, which was Guess the Why. Hopefully, you have seen the hit TV series called Yellowstone. I want to know what do you think John Dutton’s why is. John Dutton is the patriarch of the Yellowstone Ranch. There are many things that happened in that series. My wife and I have been watching that. If you have been watching it, what do you think John Dutton’s why is?

He’s the guy who protects the family, takes care of people that he has great relationships with, and got lots of different relationships. I believe that John Dutton’s why is trust, creating relationships based upon trust. If you are on his side, if you have that brand because he brands some of the people that work with him, there’s nothing he won’t do for you.

He will trust you implicitly unless you break it. If you break his trust, you are gone. You are out. I believe that John Dutton’s why is to create relationships based upon trust. What do you think? What’s your take on John Dutton’s why? I want to thank you so much for reading. If you have not yet discovered your WHY, go to WhyInstitute.com and use the code PODCAST50. You can discover your why for free. If you love the show, please don’t forget to subscribe and leave us a review on whatever platform you are on. I look forward to having you next episode. Thank you.

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About Gregory V. Diehl

BYW S4 14 | Breaking BarriersGregory V. Diehl is a personal development mentor whose ideals include self-inquiry, challenge, and analysis for the purpose of helping people to discover who they are. He writes to assist others in undoing faulty narratives about who they are and how life works so that they may begin to make more meaningful choices and resolve their deepest burdens. Diehl spent many years studying cultures around the world. He now lives a quiet life in a rural village in Armenia with his cats, books, and music.

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Podcast

Implementing A Better Way: Working To Improve And Change Lives With Dr. Scot Gray

BYW S4 1 | Change Lives

 

Dr. Scot Gray knows that there is always a better way. Ever since he opened his own chiropractic practice, he has always worked towards finding ways to impact the lives of others, to make their lives better. Dr. Gray focuses on training people smarter than him so they can deliver services that impact others.

Join Dr. Gray as he is interviewed by our host, Dr. Gary Sanchez. They talk about how Dr. Gray got his start in the practice and how he learned to take risks and let go of the reins of his business so he can do what he loves: helping others.

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Implementing A Better Way: Working To Improve And Change Lives With Dr. Scot Gray

Welcome to Beyond your Why. We go beyond just talking about your why and helping you discover and then live your why. Every week we talk about one of the nine whys, and then we bring on somebody with that why so you can see how their why has played out in their life. We’re going to be talking about the why of a better way.

If this is your why, then you are the ultimate innovator and you are constantly seeking better ways to do everything. You find yourself wanting to improve virtually anything by finding a way to make it better. You also desire to share your improvement with the world. You constantly ask yourself questions like, “What if we tried this differently? What if we did this another way? How can we make this better?” You contribute to the world with better processes and systems while operating under the motto, “I’m often pleased, but never satisfied.” You’re excellent at associating, which means taking things from one area or business and applying them to another always with the ultimate goal of improving something.

I’ve got a great guest for you. His name is Dr. Scot Gray. He is the father of two wonderful girls and husband to his beautiful bride, Jen. Dr. Scot is a serial entrepreneur and author. He has been featured on ABC, NBC, Lifetime Network, and other television shows. He built and sold a successful chiropractic practice, the Ohio Neck and Back Pain Relief centers in Marion, Ohio. Dr. Gray owns several medical offices in Ohio and Florida, a physician referral network called Konnect Relief, and has helped many doctors. Dr. Scot focuses on building teams of people smarter than him to run and deliver services in these businesses in order to change the millions of lives of patients and doctors. Dr. Scot, welcome to the show.

Thanks, Gary. Great to be on here with you. Good to see you.

This is going to be a lot of fun because there’s a lot more to you than that short bio. You and I are in a mastermind group together. I’ve gotten to know you there, but I’m anxious for the rest of our audience to get to know you. Take us back to where were you born and where’d you grow up? How the heck did you get into chiropractic?

I’m originally from Columbus, Ohio. Born and raised right in the middle of the state there. I’m a Buckeye fan, just like most folks there in Columbus. Honestly, the chiropractic thing was interesting. I knew from a young age that I always wanted to help people. I wanted to get into some type of medicine or be a doctor in some way. I didn’t know anything about chiropractic for years.

In high school, I started talking with one of my family friends. One of the friends that my parents went to high school with was a chiropractor and I started talking to him. I got in a car accident, of all things. I was going to school one morning, and I was on the highway, and I got rear-ended at about 55 miles an hour. I was sitting at a dead stop, so it basically destroyed my neck and my back.

Where did I go? My mom told me to go to a chiropractor. I literally had never been before. Dr. Glenn Ives over there in Dublin, Ohio was another big influence on me saying, “Scot, the way a chiropractor does things is a little bit different. We’re looking at the cause. We don’t like to cover things up with medicine or ‘That thing is fine.’ We look at the person holistically. Everything that’s going on, and look at how we can help that person improve.” I just love that model better. That spoke to me and connected with me. I’m a big believer of the power that made the bodies, the power that heals the body. When I started learning about it, it just connected and off to the races I went. That’s how I got into chiropractic.

Chiropractic school and building your chiropractic practice was not an easy thing for you. Is that right? It wasn’t like, “Everything was paid for. Everything was simple. You just fell right into a beautiful practice, and it was all roses from there.” Your story was a little different.

It was a little rockier than that. I was that typical kid coming out of school with a lot of loans, a lot of debt, and nothing to my name. My parents didn’t have money to open a practice or even help us through school and that type of thing. I had to how to figure out how to do it on my own. I went through school with my brother. My brother is also a chiropractor. We were together for years, literally every single day. Luckily, we get along pretty good, so that worked out well.

BYW S4 1 | Change Lives
Change Lives: In school, you get all the clinical stuff. You learn how to diagnose, how to treat, and all that, but running the business and how to get your name out there and share what you do with the world? You don’t learn any of that.

 

What happened was, after chiropractic school, I went to a program where you would call it an apprenticeship, a preceptorship, where I worked with another doctor. He showed me the ropes of how to run a business and how to see patients and all that stuff that you don’t learn in school. In school, you get all the clinical stuff, how to diagnose, how to treat, how to do all that, but running the business, how to get your name out there, and share what you do with the world, you don’t learn any of that.

I went with this group. What he decided to do is, he said, “Scot, we’ll do this program. When you’re ready to go, we will find a spot and I’ll help pay for your way to open your practice.” I go through all this. We go through the program. I’m getting ready to get my own place. I literally have a contract in hand in the new place. We’re going to sign on this thing and we’re going to open this practice.

He’s going to help me, and then I would pay him back over time. What happened though, was his business went bankrupt, and all their investors pulled out. Everything disappeared overnight. It went from, “I had a weekly paycheck. I was going to open a practice. Scot, there’s no money. You literally have no income. You got to figure out how to do it from here.”

My brother and I went through school together. We had decided, “We’ll open our practice. It is separate. Let’s not mix business and family.” When this happened, he was also in that program. He was in the same boat as myself. We decided, “Let’s figure out how to do this together.” It’s the only way. We both have a lot of debt. We didn’t want to work for somebody. We knew we wanted to have our place. We’re bound and determined to figure this thing out.

February of 2004 was when we were dropped from this program. We went from bank to bank. I was 24 at the time. My brother was 26, 27. A couple of twenty-year-old kids going in and asking for a bunch of money with a ton of debt. Most banks just laughed us out of the establishment, but we kept going. We’re trying to find out how to do it. It’s crazy. We did everything from. I would watch his kids while they would go and work nights just so we could pay the bills.

We lived together. It was my brother, his wife, two girls, two dogs, and myself in a two-bedroom apartment. That’s how we started. We did that for probably at least a year where I would watch the girls at night and on the weekends, they would go to work. We would do other things just to make money on the side so that we could get this thing going and profitable. What happened was, we ended up finding a chiropractor that wanted to move and start a practice and do something somewhere else.

We’re able to come in and secure a loan with a company from a small local bank for $50,000, enough to get us started to pay for payroll for the first few months. That was in June of 2004 that we got that started. From February through June, we were scared. We had no income again. We’re doing side jobs, and then, even after we started the practice, we still did those side jobs because the practice did not pay us enough to get the thing going. It was a struggle. We had our ups and downs.

By 2008, my brother decided to go off and do something else. He wanted to do a nerve conduction test, EMG, NCV, these different tests that were more neurology-related things. He went and got more education and went to do that. He still does some of that stuff to this day. I ended up buying him out of the practice and took it from there and went a different direction.

For the people that can’t see you, and even those who can, how tall is your brother?

Seth is 6’4”.

You need to make yourself redundant in your business so that you're not needed. Click To Tweet

How tall are you?

6’6”.

Seth is a 6’4”. You’re 6’6”. A wife, two little girls, and two dogs?

It was crazy. It was a wild place. You got to do what you got to do. We wanted to make it work. Rather than get a comfy job where we knew we could pay the bills, we wanted to take that risk to be able to have a bigger ceiling, an opportunity to help people and create change.

You now own this practice by yourself. What was it like when you bought it? How long did you own it? What happened? Take us on that journey with you.

It was an interesting time when I bought the practice in May of 2008 because I was just getting over an injury. I had a bad cough for several months and I pulled a rib away from my sternum. I couldn’t adjust for about 8 or 9 months. What happened is, the patient visits started going down. The business was suffering. I ended up buying it from my brother, and we’re seeing about 110 patients a week. I went nuts. I started to realize like, “I got to get out there, and I got to meet people. I got to go out and share what we’re doing.”

I was totally focused on the practice, focused with my team on growing this thing. We tripled the size of the practice within about twelve weeks after I bought the practice. A lot of that, when it’s painful, and you’re scared and worried, you go out and you do everything you possibly can. That’s what I was doing. We did that and created a successful practice, and then I started hiring associate doctors to work with me so I could grow it even more and start focusing on running the practice the way that it should be.

Running a practice takes a lot of time in and of itself, on top of the time you’re spending with patients. That allowed me to focus more on that. Eventually, we got two associates in there. I was out of practice. They were doing all the adjusting and I was just working on growing it and doing everything we could to help more people.

How long did that take you to go from buying it to then just running it?

May 2008 is when I bought it. I had this epiphany. I’ve got a mentor by a guy named Vinnie Fisher. He said something to me in October of 2015. This is seven years later. He said, “Scot, you’re never going to grow your business and affect the number of people you want to affect if you keep adjusting patients.” I realized that if I want to help more people, I have to stop seeing patients.

BYW S4 1 | Change Lives
Change Lives: My mentor told me, “Scot, you’re never going to grow your business and affect the number of people you want to affect if you keep adjusting patients.”

 

It was this weird idea that didn’t make any sense to me at first, and then I’m like, “That’s it.” I went back from that meeting that I had with Vinnie, and I told my staff that I’m done seeing patients. I’m going to work on growing the practice and helping more people. It took me a little bit of time, a couple of months. It was December 17th of 2015 that was the last time I saw a patient in the chiropractic office. It took me 7.5 years to get there. It worked out. My associate was with me for six years already.

I had a great guy working with me. He still runs the Ohio offices that we have. He’s just an awesome guy, that I love to be a business partner with, and does a great job. I worked hard to train him and get him to where he could just run it on his own. The beautiful thing that that did is I was able to move on to the next phase of my life and sell the practice. That was in 2017. This was about 1.5 years later. One of the things that the bank loved about it is that I had not seen a patient for 1.5 years. Nothing was going to change.

Gary, you know that with the mastermind that we’re in, one of the things that they always talk about is like you need to make yourself redundant in your business so that you’re not needed. That was one of the biggest things that helped me there to be able to do that and move that along to him. Also, it’s better for the practice because nothing changes and it’s just smooth sailing. It was that seven years. It’s funny. I have thought about it, but I never thought I would get there. I didn’t know how I would get there.

It was just certain things like that with Vinnie speaking that to me, and then it was our mentor, Randy. I had a bad day, a stressful day at the office. He asked me, “Scot, are you happy right now? Do you want to keep the office or should you move on to what you want to do?” That was that word to me of, “I need to focus on what I love, what I want to do to be able to help more people.” It’s created an amazing amount of freedom in my life.

I went through this same thing. If I’m a doctor, or a lawyer or a chiropractor reading this and I want to do the same thing, how did you do it? I understand the concept. I understand what you’re saying, but what did you do to go from being the producer to being the promoter? From being the one who does everything to one that builds everything? How did you change that?

I started to phase myself out. The first thing you have to do is get good people and train them. Spend time with them. I would train my team at least an hour a week. Different little things every single day. I went through so much stuff with Dr. Dave, who took over my practice. We would read books with them. We would go through different mindset things. We would talk about case studies with patients. We spent a lot of time. I put a lot of time into my team and the training into how you do something. You’re always training on, “How could you do this better than me?” because that’s what you always want to find.

I interviewed one of the founders of Pixar. That’s what they said the secret to their success was. It was just hiring the smartest people that were smarter than them even when it was scary that they might take their job or be better. That was the key. Find people that are better, who can do things better than you, and train them up, and you’ll see them surpass you.

One of the things with chiropractic, especially, maybe the same in dentistry, I don’t know, is that when someone sees you, maybe you’re the first person to treat them, adjust them, or meet them, they get used to you. What I wanted to do as fast as possible is have that first encounter to be with Dr. Dave and not me, so that they like being with Dr. Dave and not with me. That was one of the biggest shifts.

When I was able to get to where he would see all the new patients and start with everyone, I’m the odd guy out coming in if he’s out of town or whatever. It used to be, “All I want to see is Dr. Scot.” Now, it’s “I want to see Dr. Dave.” I would deal with that, but that was one of the biggest things. It’s the expectations, too that you have. I would get this question a lot. They would say, “Scot, how do you get your doctors who work for you to do so much?” It blew my mind that I don’t understand how they, “You don’t have them do a lot. You’ve hired them, you should be training them and giving them the most experience you can.”

A lot of docs will do this. They’ll say, “You’re with me for 2 or 3 years in this contract. You better not go out, try to start a practice, and take my patients.” They tried to put the handcuffs on them. I did the complete opposite. I said, “I’m going to teach you how to have a great practice. I’m going to teach you everything you need to know. If you want to go open up a practice somewhere and have your practice, awesome. Go do it.”

Everyone says they're too busy to train others, but the problem is you'll always be busy if you don't train them. That's the reality. Click To Tweet

My thought process was if he wants to leave, he’s going to leave. Why would I want to keep somebody there that doesn’t want to be there? That’s a toxic thing. I just said, “If you want to take this out and do it on your own, go ahead and do it.” The biggest thing was training, letting them have the freedom to want to learn, to want to do good, almost planning to have their own practice because if they don’t plan for that, they’re not going to try to achieve it.

I said, “If you want to achieve it, you’re going to have to work your butt off just like any of us who own a practice.” Having then the faith to hand that person off to them and trust that they’re going to do a great job with them because that’s the hardest thing. Vinnie told me, “One of the things you have to be okay with is that sometimes you have to be okay with the 70% version of yourself because no one’s going to treat your business the same way you do. It’s always going to be your baby. You’re going to have to be okay with maybe they don’t do quite as good.” What I found is that if you train the right people in there, a lot of times, they can do better.

It seems like most of us bypass that training part. Both of them, the training and the freedom.

Everyone says they’re too busy to train them, but It’s like the promise, you’ll always be busy if you don’t train them. That’s the reality.

How was that on your ego because you went from, “The guy. Everybody wants to see you. Now they want to see Dr. Dave?” How did you handle that, “I went to school. This is my place. This is my thing?” Now, it’s more, “I want to see Dr. Dave.” Was that tough on you or was that just an easy transition?

It was an easy transition. I don’t have an, “I need to be the guy.” Honestly, it’s funny, because I promoted the practice that way. I did a lot of videos. You could YouTube me and see that I’ve done a lot of videos. I’ve done a lot of TV stuff. I’ve written books, and it was always about, “Dr. Scot comes to,” and honestly, to get out of the limelight was awesome to me. I’m more of an introvert. I forgot if it’s Randy who says the situational extrovert. I’m that situational extrovert where, what I need to be, I can be extroverted.

Most times, if you were to leave me to my own devices, I’ll just sit over in the corner and be quiet, and I’ll be completely happy and content. In our group, I’m not the most talkative guy. I’m way more of an introvert than most people. The ego thing was nothing. I’m always focused on results. I want to have the best practice. I want to have the best team. I will have the best results. Whatever that looks like, that’s what I want to do. I don’t think that I have to be in the center of that for that to happen.

I feel like my superpower is more of having the vision of where we can go, and creating a better way. That’s what I’m always thinking of like, “How can we simplify this? How can we make this better? How can it be a better experience for the patient? How can it be a better outcome for the patient?” I’m always trying to think of that stuff.

When I’ve got all the providers treating the patients, I can be back doing what I’m best at, what I love, and have a fun time, too. I was going through pain management literature just to see if there’s something that we could add or tweak that would be beneficial to our patients. How can we make it simpler? How can we make it better and more effective?

I’m thinking, “We’re working on the system that we have to connect people with doctors across the country to get pain relief and other relief that they need.” I’m that guy. I’m totally happy being behind the scenes doing that stuff. I just like to see the results that patients get and the jobs we can provide all that stuff. That’s the more fulfilling part for me.

BYW S4 1 | Change Lives
Change Lives: One of the things you have to be okay with is that sometimes, you have to be okay with the 70% version of yourself because no one’s going to treat your business the same way you do.

 

You had one practice. You were running that instead of being the doctor in it, and then how did you grow from there? Take us on your journey through that to where you are now.

This was not planned at all. What happened was, I sold my chiropractic practice in 2017. I had another practice that was doing regenerative medicine in Ohio. I was just behind-the-scenes vision, had a great operating team, great medical doctor and nurse practitioners. They’re running the whole show. I didn’t even have to show up. I was just doing the things in the background that I needed to do so that we had great company and things are moving along well.

Scot, for those that don’t know, what is regenerative medicine?

Regenerative medicine got big when people started talking about stem cell therapy. With the way the FDA is changing things, we don’t do stem cell therapy in the US anymore. There are great people that we can connect you with within other countries like Mexico that do stem cell therapy. This is using stem cells from, sometimes, your own body. Sometimes they use them from an umbilical cord. A mother will donate the umbilical cord.

Basically, there are two things they’re going to do with it. Either they can donate it or it’s going to go in the trash. What’s going to happen is they can donate it and obviously, goes through all kinds of testing and sterility to make sure it’s clean, good and usable. After all that, they can take those stem cells, those Day 0 cells, that are just amazing.

What they can do for the body is they can release all these cytokines and growth factors and things that help regenerate tissue in the body. There’s this amazing regenerative function in the body, and people see amazing results. When we first started doing it, stem cells in the US were becoming a bigger thing. We’re part of that movement. What that changes now, we can use tissue allografts to where we can help people. We can use tissue that has stem cells in it, but we’re not doing stem cell therapy in the US anymore.

Our offices are based more on insurance-based things like hyaluronic acid, PT, and different things like that. There’s still is a regenerative medicine aspect that we can do but it’s not the old stem cell therapy that we love so much. We still send people down to folks in Mexico that have great programs. Regenerative medicine has just been great.

I’m skipping around here a little bit because I got to be careful. I don’t want to make claims and things and act like it does more than what it does. We want to be careful how we talk about it. You can look up studies from all around the world and what it does, and how it helps people. In other countries, they’re treating things like rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s, lupus. They treat all kinds of crazy stuff down there because they can do things differently than we do in the US. Here, we focus on helping people with joint pain, back pain, knee pain, those types of things. Regenerative medicine is an amazing thing. I wish we could do more of it in the US, but things have changed.

I know you’re dancing around it. I don’t know if I can ask you this question or not. Why has it changed so much? I know a few years back, it was okay to do “stem cell therapy” and suddenly, it’s not okay to say that you do stem cell therapy. Why the change? Is that something you can talk about?

I feel like a lot of it is abuse by doctors that go out there and said, “This thing was a silver magic bullet that was going to heal everything in your body.” There are crazy people out there, doing crazy stuff with it, saying stupid things, so the FDA has to come in and regulate it and say, “We got to talk about what we can and can’t say here.”

Marketing and advertising are really just psychology and math. It's understanding people. Click To Tweet

Even when people say stem cell therapy, there’s way more to this than just stem cells. They’re saying, like, “You are talking about it wrong. You’re making claims that aren’t true. We don’t have double-blind studies.” The FDA basically gave us a window and said, “We can test this out and see how it works, but at the end of that, we’re going to have to come in and set up regulations around this as to how we can use it, what’s being said, and what products you can use.”

They came out on May 31st of 2021 and changed things up. They said, “This is what you can say. This is what you can’t say. This is what you can do. This is what you can’t do,” and no one was talking about the risks involved in it. Anytime you get a surgery, anytime you get any procedure, any injection, there’s a consent form. We did that all along.

There are bad players out there. There’s always going to be players like that in the market where FDA had to come in and say something to do something. Unfortunately, it hurts a lot of other people that were doing it right and had good processes down. One interesting thing about that, though, is that what we did here, we can manipulate the cells. What we mean by that is you may have been able to get like 10 million, 20 million stem cells here. In Mexico, they can expand those out to 100 million, 200 million cells.

What you’re able to do in those other countries is even better than what we were able to do here. It may not even be a bad thing. We just love being able to do it. We love helping people. We never made claims. We always told people, “This is experimental. There are no double-blind studies, and there are risks involved with it.” We went through the consent form and we did those things. Like anything, there’s always going to be people that blow it up to say it’s stuff that it’s not and it creates a problem and then regulation has to come in.

You went from one chiropractic office to multiple chiropractic offices, and then to multiple regenerative practices. Is that the path?

I have the chiro office, and then I had the regenerative office at the same time, so just those two. I then sold a chiropractic practice and had the regenerative practice. At that point, it was basically running on its own. I didn’t have to be there all the time. I had the opportunity where I could come back and be there every once in a while, do stuff on Zoom, and all that before everything was really big on Zoom.

My wife and I decided we wanted to move to Florida. We moved to Florida on a whim. We said, “Our girls are young enough. Let’s do it before school. Let’s see if we love it.” We’ve been talking about moving to Florida for 3 to 5 years. We just love it down here. That’s where I am. I’ve said, “I could do some regenerative medicine down here. Let’s see who I can team up with and build a team down here because I didn’t want to just sit around and not do anything.”

I obviously was working with the team in Ohio. I was like, “I could do it here at the same time.” I met with a doctor down here and said, “Can I rent space from you? We could do something together.” Long story short, we ended up partnering together. We have six offices down here and building that out. What started as regenerative medicine is something totally different now. It’s changed through the changes that we had to make but that came out of nowhere. I wasn’t even planning it.

It was a great opportunity to work together and help more people. I bring my assistant down here and do what we do so well. Once we got that going, then in Ohio, they said, “Let’s do some more offices here.” We’re opening our fourth office in Ohio. That’s how it happened. We have great teams that love to do this. They love what we’re doing. They love the mission. We just keep expanding and working to help more and more people.

One of your specialties that I know of is marketing. You have learned from some of the best and you’ve implemented many of the things they share with you. You’ve taught me a lot of stuff. How did you become proficient in marketing?

BYW S4 1 | Change Lives
How to Win Friends & Influence People

When I first started, I realized, “These patients are not knocking down my door to come and get adjusted.” It was a rocky start. I started reading. It was out of necessity. It was, “How do I do this?” I bought a program from this guy named Ben Altadonna. He was big in helping chiropractors learn how to share the message of their office. I started doing some of what they call direct response marketing of sending stuff out, sharing what we can do, and having people respond and find people that need us that we can help.

I just loved it because one of the big things why I went to Louisville, Kentucky, is it’s where I did that program, my preceptorship, my apprenticeship. I’m an introvert, so I started reading a ton of books on communication because I didn’t know how to start a conversation with people. I’m not like the life-of-the-party guy to be able to just strike up a conversation with everyone. I got to learn how to do this. I got to learn how to talk to people. I’m trying to think around here. I still have it. I have this old program called How to Start a Conversation in 90 Seconds or Less. It’s like this little audio thing. They’re trying to learn how to talk to people.

I started loving the whole concept of communication, which is what I feel marketing and advertising is, is how do I communicate with people on a super high level to help them understand what we do and how we can help them and understand them, what they’re dealing with and what frustrations they have. I just fell in love with it.

I’ve got hundreds of books. I’ve probably spent over $1 million just in courses, going to seminars, being in masterminds, and learning from the best people in the world how to do marketing. When I say marketing, I feel like it’s communication with people and it’s being able to create a community and get the message out that helps more people.

What is the best book you’ve read? If you were going to tell the audience one book they just can’t miss they got to read it on marketing, what would that book be? What’s had the biggest impact on you?

If I take it back to communication, probably the most profound book to me was just the old classic, How to Win Friends & Influence People. That one changed my understanding of how to talk to people. Before that, I just didn’t know what to do. If I could cheat and give a couple more, I would say, The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes was one of the best books I’ve ever read on how to run a business. That includes marketing and advertising.

One of the things that people have said is that marketing and advertising are just psychology and math. It’s understanding people and then it’s making the math work to where, “If I spend this much on marketing, I’m not going to go bankrupt. I’m going to make money on it,” because you can’t just keep spending money if you’re not getting any money back in the business. Those are the two big things.

The reason I say that is because one of my favorite books is the Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini. That book was, you talk to any marketer, it’s just understanding basic concepts of human psychology. I was such a novice to this. Those early books were huge to me, and to some people, it may be simple concepts, but to me, it was earth-shattering.

You recommended a book to me that we’re utilizing quite a bit called The Conversion Code.

By Chris Smith. That was good for understanding the psychology of, nowadays, a lot of people are doing online advertising. This is from the guy that was probably the most successful with my understanding. He worked for Quicken Loans. His job was to handling incoming leads off of Facebook to Quicken Loans. He goes through what it takes to connect with an online lead and how to handle that, and understand the psychology of that.

It’s different from someone that read a newsletter or saw you on an infomercial. Understanding where people are when they come in, and raise their hand and say, “I’m interested in what you’re doing,” the way you speak with them, what you say to them, and how fast you respond to them. There’s a lot of things that go into it that a lot of people just don’t understand. It’s like simple concepts. You just got to know it. You got to read about it. You got to learn it, and then you got to implement it.

There is a better way to fix your pain. There is a better way to get relief. There's a better way to be healthy. Click To Tweet

I could read The Conversion Code and say, “That was a great book,” and then go read another book. I’m notorious for I outlined books when I read them. I read a book with the intention to implement everything that I read in that book. That makes sense to the business. When I read The Conversion Code, I literally have a whole presentation that I gave to my team. “This is how you use it.” One of the things I do also is I used to hold quarterly seminars, and I would train doctors on how to run their practice in business. I would take these and put them into presentations and transform them.

You talked about a better way to take something from somewhere and puts it somewhere else. I do that all the time. I take this concept from Quicken Loans. How do we do that in medical practice? Anyone that ever sees anything that I’ve done will find out quickly that I’m a huge Disney fanatic. Gary knows this. I try to take every concept of what Disney does and what Walt Disney did and put that into our practice. How do we give people a better experience in the practice? The better way thing, when you started describing that, when I first met you and learn about all the why. It’s like, “That’s me in a nutshell.”

That’s why we connect is I see the same world you see. It’s got to be a better way. What you’ve done, I love that, how you outline the books and then give a presentation to your team so that you can implement everything. I can read a book and then jump to the next book. What’s the next one I got to read? I love the way you’re implementing. It’s the whole thing.

Yes. Here’s the thing, too. My video library is fast. I literally have a university for my team to watch. One of the things that a lot of people do is they’ll teach that stuff, but then they have to keep teaching over and over again and reiterating it. We do have to do that in business as the leader is the visionary. They say in the Bible when the vision is gone, the people perish. There’s got to be a vision. You’ve got to reiterate it. Most people forget about it within 30 to 45 days and your company, if you’re not going over your vision every month, everyone’s lost. They’re just doing day-to-day stuff. They’re not on point.

What I’ve done is document it so that everyone new coming in can see that and you’re creating clones for lack of a better term. That’s what I do with Dr. Dave. My whole point wasn’t just to say like, “Dr. Dave, look at this cool concept.” It’s like, “No, how do I teach this?” Have that person do it and have it become part of their routine. If it becomes part of their routine, it becomes part of our system. Anyone new that comes in, that part of the system is now there. It can be taught. They can take it and put it into practice.

How do I learn it? How do I disseminate it down? How do I get them to then do it? Now, I’m hands-off and I don’t have to do that again. They can just take it and then, what do we want them to do? We want them to train the next person so they can move up so that they can train. Of course, when they train, they get better at it. There’s a whole system that I focus on to take it and implement it and help other people implement it.

That’s my goal is to get other people to implement it because that’s the only way you’re going to get the leverage that you need, which is a big word that we focus on. How do you leverage your time? When you see successful people who can have multiple clinics and multiple things going on, I could never do that if I had to see every patient. If I had to manage all the staff. I had to know its leverage. How do I train this so that they’re basically becoming a clone, doing these things as part of the system? It’s making yourself redundant in the business and you’re just leading the way.

It’s interesting because this all came from pain on your side. The pain of not having the practice, of not having the ability to just go out and buy it. Maybe a better word would be resourcefulness.

I wouldn’t have been that resourceful if I had the money. I had to figure it out. Once you do that, then you start to have more confidence like, “I can do this. I can start a business. I built a business. I can build another one. I trained that person and sold that business.” Stuff that you never thought you could do. All of a sudden, you’re starting to build chops and build your confidence up as you do these things. That’s one of the things where money can be a killer because it can kill your resourcefulness. Look at most immigrants that come over here that become successful. Talk about resourcefulness. They couldn’t even speak English. They have $1 to their name. Resourcefulness is the name of the game, not money.

What’s next for Dr. Scot Gray?

BYW S4 1 | Change Lives
The Ultimate Sales Machine: Turbocharge Your Business with Relentless Focus on 12 Key Strategies

I’m trying to help a billion people get relief from their pain and their suffering. I’m building a network of doctors that will have approved, certified treatments that we approve of. We help certify their team so that we know that people are getting great care. Another thing that a lot of people don’t know about me, I served as president of the city council for a couple of years in my town. Unfortunately, in my town, we had a big opiate and heroin problem. I became aware of how huge an issue this was, how it was destroying families. It was destroying people’s lives. It was just killing the people of Ohio.

Unfortunately, we were on the national news because our state was so bad. Our town was literally one of the worst in Ohio. We were in the pit of this thing. People went around and put signs up in my town and said, “Heroin is our economy.” It was that bad. I started to see this and I became passionate about pain relief.

I feel like the way that we treat pain right now is like caveman days. I feel like we’ve done this for years. We’ve been brainwashed that when there’s a problem and a symptom, there’s a pill to fix that problem or that symptom. Just take the pill and go about your day. That’s completely inaccurate. My goal is to educate the world, educate people to understand there’s a better way.

It goes back to that, that there is a better way to fix your pain. A better way to get relief. There’s a better way to be healthy, especially in these times where health needs to be at our forefront. There are viruses. There are things out there that are dangerous. People need to understand that the healthier you can be, the better your ability is going to fight off anything that you get, too. If we’re on that morning cocktail of medications, what is that doing to our immune system and our ability to fight things off?

I could get on a big soapbox here, but that’s what’s next for me is building this program called Konnect Relief. I want it to be like the home advisor of pain relief, where we’re almost like a WebMD in information where you can get great information, but in the new way of taking care of your body, your mind, your spirit, all those things that you need to do. Putting the medical side into it and what’s available, but things that aren’t dangerous.

Things that aren’t going to destroy your immune system. Things that you can do quickly to get out of pain and dealing with some underlying symptoms and issues, not symptoms but issues that are there causing you to have pain. My passion is to be out there, connecting people to the best practitioners to find out why they’re having pain and to be able to get rid of it. If not, anything to reduce medications and opiates and things like they’re on so they have a better, healthier, happier life. That’s my mission.

If there are people that are reading that want to follow you, is it KonnectRelief.com? How do they connect with you, follow you, and see what you’re doing to keep up with you?

You can go to KonnectRelief.com, or you can go to DrScotGray.com. I always tell people that the hardest eight-letter name to spell in the world. I should be putting all the things up there that I’m doing. I’ve got a podcast as well. That is going to be moving over to that page. We’ve interviewed one of the founders of Pixar. We’ve interviewed all kinds of great people like the founder of the Orlando Magic and all kinds of good stuff. We talk a lot about this thing. Gary, you and I are like-minded in this stuff. We love talking about it. We love figuring out how we can help the world with our information and what we do.

The last question I got for you is, what’s the best piece of advice that you’ve ever received, or the best piece of advice that you’ve ever given?

The time is now. I’ve lived by that since that day, October 2015. That’s when I heard those words spoken for the first time. That’s when Vinnie said, “If you want to have the impact you want, you got to get out of practicing.” I went back and I stopped practicing. I stopped seeing patients, and when I realized I needed to sell the chiropractic practice, I made the decision and I sold the practice.

People need to understand that the healthier you are, the better your ability is going to be to fight off anything that you get to. Click To Tweet

When I started thinking, “Maybe we could move to Florida. The time is now. What am I waiting for? I’m not getting any younger. I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. I want to live in Florida. Go do it, Scot.” I did it. Amazing things have happened. I just live by this. It’s one thing to hear it, but again, I’m a guy that I like to hear it, then I like to do it.

I say, “The time is now.” Whatever that one thing is that you’ve been waiting to do, that you’re making all kinds of crazy excuses as to why not to do it, I’m telling you, do it. I’ve made that decision over and over again. It’s just been such a blessing to myself, my family, and the people that we’re helping. With all the clinics, I’m helping way more people than I ever could have helped before. The time is now. Take action today.

Scot, thank you so much for taking the time to be here. I know we see each other every quarter, at least, but there’s a lot I learned about you that I didn’t know. I’m glad we got a chance to talk. I love that the time is now because I’m going to use that myself. I’m stealing a lot of your better ways stuff and applying it to my better way stuff.

That’s how we do. We got a swipe and deploy.

I love it. Thanks so much for being here. I look forward to staying in touch as we continue on our journeys.

Thank you, Gary. I appreciate you.

Awesome.

It’s time for our last segment, Guess the Why. For this segment, I want to use Michael Jordan. What do you think Michael Jordan’s why is? I’m going to take a stab at what it is, because if you remember, he was the guy that tried out for his basketball team as a junior. He didn’t make it, went back and practiced and practiced and found the right way to do things. He then made the team and became a superstar. He went off to North Carolina and became a superstar there. He went to the NBA and became the best of all time.

He was always that guy that was willing to have a tantrum. He was willing to go out on a limb. He was willing to do what was necessary in order to get the results that he wanted. I’m going to say that Michael Jordan’s why is to do things the right way in order to get results. Practice over and over the same shot, the same layup, do the same things over and over because they’re going to get results.

People with the why of the right way follow processes and systems that work. They stick to things that work. They’re willing to get in people’s faces, yell at them, have a tantrum, have a fit if they’re not getting things done the right way. I see this in Michael Jordan. What do you think Michael Jordan’s why is? In the comments, let us know what you think Michael Jordan’s why is.

I want to thank you for reading. If you have not yet discovered your why, you can do so at WhyInstitute.com. You can use the code PODCAST50, and you can discover your why at half price or share that with your friends. If you love the Beyond Your Why show, please don’t forget to subscribe below and leave us a review and rating on whatever platform you’re using or listening to so that we can bring the why to 1 billion people in the next five years. Thank you for reading. I’ll see you soon.

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About Dr. Scot Gray

BYW S4 1 | Change LivesDr Scot Gray is the father of two wonderful girls and husband to his beautiful bride, Jenn. Dr Scot is a serial entrepreneur and author. He has been featured on ABC, NBC, Lifetime Network and other television shows. He built and sold a successful chiropractic practice, The Ohio Neck & Back Pain Relief Centers in Marion, Ohio. Dr Gray now owns several medical offices in Ohio and Florida, a physician referral network called Konnect Relief, and has helped many doctors start clinics in multiple states. Dr Scot focuses on building teams of people smarter than him to run and deliver services in these businesses, in order to change millions of lives of patients and doctors.

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Podcast

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

BYW 35 John Livesay | Creating Clarity

 

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

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

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

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

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

Gary, thanks for having me. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why are stories effective? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tell us about Michael Phelps. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tell us about that. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

You got to throw in the music at the end. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks. 

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

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

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About John Livesay

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