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

BYW 35 John Livesay | Creating Clarity

 

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

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

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

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

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

Gary, thanks for having me. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Confident people are comfortable with silence. Click To Tweet

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

Why are stories effective? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tell us about Michael Phelps. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tell us about that. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

You got to throw in the music at the end. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks. 

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

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

Important Links: 

About John Livesay

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

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

BYW 32 | Motivational Speaker

 

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

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

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

I did.

Where did you move from?

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

Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Is that where you grew up?

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

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

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

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

Yeah.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Absolutely.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Post it on all the social media?

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

You can use TikTok to create the video?

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

For sure.

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

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

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About Cody Cottle

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

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

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

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