From Ophthalmology to the DJ Booth: 10 Takeaways from Dr. MJ


Guest: Dr. Mitchell Jackson
WHY.os: Better Way – Challenge – Trust

In this episode of the Beyond Your WHY Podcast, host Dr. Gary Sanchez sits down with the multifaceted Dr. Mitchell Jackson (DJ MJ), a board-certified ophthalmologist and professional DJ. Dr. Jackson, known for his pioneering work in cataract and refractive surgery, has performed over 50,000 LASIK procedures and introduced innovative treatments like LipiFlo for dry eye syndrome. Beyond his medical career, he captivates audiences as a DJ, performing at major clubs and events, and sharing stages with renowned DJs like Cascade and Zed. His story is one of dedication, innovation, and resilience, making him an inspiring figure in both the medical and music industries.

  • Discover Dr. MJ’s motivation to become an eye surgeon and how his father’s vision problems influenced his career choice.
  • Learn how Dr. MJ balances his demanding career as an ophthalmologist with his passion for DJing.
  • Hear about Dr. MJ’s innovative contributions to ophthalmology and his involvement in FDA clinical trials.

Tune in to hear Dr. MJ’s inspiring journey and uncover valuable insights on balancing multiple passions and excelling in diverse fields. Listen to the full episode now!


Connect with Mitchell Jackson!


Watch the episode here


02:15 – Dr. Mitchell Jackson’s Background
05:45 – Motivation to Become an Eye Surgeon
09:30 – Innovation in Ophthalmology
13:10 – Dual Career as a DJ
17:25 – Challenges and Resilience
22:50 – Balancing Multiple Roles
27:40 – Community Involvement
32:05 – Public Speaking and Recognition
37:20 – Future Goals and Aspirations



Discovering Dr. MJ’s WHY: Balancing Vision and Vibes

Ever wondered how someone can excel in both medicine and music? Meet Dr. Mitchell Jackson (aka DJ MJ), a renowned ophthalmologist and professional DJ, who does just that. In this episode of the Beyond Your WHY Podcast, host Dr. Gary Sanchez sits down with Dr. MJ to explore his inspiring journey. From pioneering eye surgeries to lighting up the DJ booth, Dr. MJ’s story is a testament to innovation, resilience, and living one’s WHY. Let’s dive into the highlights and lessons from this incredible episode.

Dr. Mitchell Jackson is not your typical eye surgeon. He’s a board-certified ophthalmologist, known for performing over 50,000 LASIK procedures and introducing cutting-edge treatments like LipiFlo for dry eye syndrome. But there’s more to him than meets the eye – he’s also a professional DJ, spinning tracks at major clubs and events. Dr. MJ’s dual career is a fascinating blend of precision and passion, making him an inspiring figure in both fields.

The Motivation Behind Medicine: Family First

Dr. Jackson’s journey into ophthalmology was deeply personal. His father’s vision problems due to bacterial meningitis ignited a passion for eye care in young Mitchell. This personal connection to his work adds a layer of dedication and empathy that’s palpable in his practice. Dr. MJ’s story reminds us that our motivations often stem from personal experiences, driving us to make a difference in ways that truly matter.

Balancing Medicine and Music: The Art of Dual Careers

You might think it’s impossible to juggle a demanding medical career with a thriving DJ career, but Dr. MJ does it with flair. He seamlessly transitions from the operating room to the DJ booth, proving that with passion and time management, one can excel in multiple fields. Dr. MJ’s ability to balance these roles shows us that pursuing diverse passions can lead to a fulfilling and dynamic life.

Innovation in Ophthalmology: Leading the Charge

Dr. MJ is a trailblazer in the field of eye care. His contributions to ophthalmology, including participating in numerous FDA clinical trials, highlight his commitment to advancing medical science. His innovative treatments have not only improved patient outcomes but also set new standards in the industry. Dr. MJ’s work exemplifies how staying ahead of the curve and embracing innovation can drive significant advancements in any field.

Overcoming Challenges: Resilience in Action

Life hasn’t been a smooth ride for Dr. Jackson. From personal losses to professional challenges, he has faced and overcome numerous obstacles. His resilience and ability to push forward despite these hardships are truly inspiring. Dr. MJ’s journey underscores the importance of resilience and adaptability in achieving long-term success.

Community Involvement: Giving Back

Despite his busy schedule, Dr. Jackson is committed to giving back to the community. He supports various foundations, including the Gary Sinise Foundation and the Jason Mendez Fight Blindness Foundation. His dedication to philanthropy highlights the importance of using one’s success to make a positive impact on society.

Public Speaking and Recognition: Sharing Expertise

Dr. Jackson’s expertise extends beyond the operating room. He’s a keynote speaker at international symposiums, where he shares his knowledge and experiences. This role allows him to educate and inspire others, further amplifying his impact. Dr. MJ’s public speaking engagements emphasize the value of sharing knowledge and inspiring the next generation.

Future Goals: Vision for Tomorrow

As Dr. Jackson approaches retirement, he continues to set new goals, both in medicine and music. His plans to expand his DJ career to New York and Las Vegas while maintaining high standards in his medical practice showcase his forward-thinking mindset. Dr. MJ’s future goals remind us that it’s never too late to pursue new passions and set ambitious targets.

Personal Motivation: Living His WHY

Dr. Jackson’s life and career are driven by a profound sense of purpose. His WHY – to provide vision and joy – is evident in both his medical practice and DJ career. This alignment of personal and professional motivations creates a fulfilling and impactful life. Dr. MJ’s story illustrates the power of discovering and living your WHY.

Achievements in Medicine: A Legacy of Excellence

Dr. MJ’s contributions to ophthalmology have earned him numerous accolades. His recognition as a top doctor in Chicago reflects his excellence and dedication to patient care. These achievements underscore the importance of striving for excellence and leaving a lasting legacy in your field.

The Power of Passion: Fueling Success

Whether in the operating room or behind the DJ booth, Dr. MJ’s passion is evident. This passion not only fuels his success but also inspires those around him. Dr. MJ’s journey shows us that passion is a critical component of success and fulfillment in any endeavor.

Dr. Mitchell Jackson’s story is a powerful reminder of the importance of pursuing your passions and living your WHY. From groundbreaking medical innovations to captivating DJ performances, Dr. MJ’s journey offers valuable lessons in resilience, innovation, and balance. Don’t miss this episode of the Beyond Your WHY Podcast to learn more about how Dr. MJ balances vision and vibes. Tune in now!


About Dr. Mitchell Jackson

Dr. Mitchell Jackson, is a board-certified ophthalmologist and a true pioneer in cataract and refractive surgery. As the Founder and Medical Director of Jacksoneye, Dr. Jackson has performed over 30,000 LASIK procedures since its FDA approval, even experiencing LASIK firsthand to offer a unique patient perspective.

Dr. Jackson’s expertise extends beyond surgery; he’s actively involved in numerous FDA clinical trials and has introduced cutting-edge treatments like LipiFlow™ for Dry Eye Syndrome. Recognized as a top doctor in Chicago and a keynote speaker at international symposiums, Dr. Jackson’s dedication to advancing ophthalmology is unmatched. Beyond his professional achievements, he’s also a DJ, known as DJMJ, performing for Live Nation and supporting foundations like the Gary Sinise Foundation and Jason Mendez Fight Blindness Foundation.


Challenging The Status Quo And Standing Out In Business With Scott McKain

BYW S4 25 | Challenging The Status Quo


What does it take to stand out in this hypercompetitive world that we live in? In this episode, Scott McKain joins Dr. Gary Sanchez to share how he is challenging the status quo and helping others do the same. Scott is a globally recognized authority on how organizations and professionals create distinction to attract and retain customers to stand out in the marketplace. He exudes his WHY of Challenge as he shares valuable insight on different ways you can magnify your uniqueness in a way that serves other. Tune in to learn more from Scott with lessons from his best-selling books.

Watch the episode here

Listen to the podcast here

Challenging The Status Quo And Standing Out In Business With Scott McKain

Welcome to Beyond Your WHY where we go beyond talking about your why and help you discover and then live your why. If you’re a regular reader, you know that every week we talk about 1 of the 9 whys and then we bring on somebody with that why so you can see how their why is played out in their life.

We’re going to be talking about the why of challenge, to challenge the status quo and think differently. If this is your why then you don’t believe in following the rules or drawing inside the lines. You want things to be fun, exciting and different. You rebel against the classic way of doing things. You have eccentric friends and eclectic tastes. After all, why would you want to be normal? You love to be different, think different and you aren’t afraid to challenge virtually anyone or anything that is too conventional or typical for your taste. Pushing the limit comes naturally to you.

I’ve got a great guest for you. You’re going to love this guy. His name is Scott McKain. He is a globally recognized authority on how organizations and professionals create a distinction to attract and retain customers and stand out in a hyper-competitive marketplace. Scott’s book, ICONIC: How Organizations and Leaders Attain, Sustain and Regain the Highest Level of Distinction, was named on as a top ten Best Business Book for 2018. The first edition of his book, Create Distinction: What to Do When “Great” Isn’t Good Enough to Grow Your Business, was named by 30 major newspapers as 1 of the ten best business books of the year.

Scott’s expertise has been quoted multiple times in USA Today, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and International Herald Tribune. His commentaries were syndicated on a weekly basis for over a decade to 80 television stations in the US, Canada and Australia. He’s appeared multiple times as a guest on Fox News Network. Arnold Schwarzenegger booked him for a presentation at the White House with the President in the audience. Scott played the villain in a movie named by esteemed critic Roger Ebert as one of the 50 greatest movies in the history of cinema directed by legendary Werner Herzog.

With a client list that represents the world’s most distinctive companies like Apple, SAP, Merrill Lynch, BMW, Cisco, CDW, Fidelity, John Deere and hundreds more. Scott McKain was honored with the induction along with Zig Ziglar, Seth Godin, Dale Carnegie and twenty more in the sales and marketing Hall of Fame. After thousands of presentations in all 50 states and 23 countries, he was honored with membership in the Professional Speakers Hall of Fame. Scott, welcome to the show.

Thank you. I got to make sure my wife listens to this so she can hear all that good stuff about me there. It’s great to be with you. I appreciate it.

This is going to be a lot of fun. I have been looking forward to interviewing you. Where did you grow up? What were you like in high school? Take us on your journey to bring everybody up to speed on how you got where you are now.

I grew up in a rural community. I’m from a small town, Crothersville, Indiana. It’s about 30 miles north of Louisville, Kentucky, on the Indiana side of the Ohio River. Our claim to fame in our local area is the bigger town in our county, Seymour, Indiana. I was born in the hospital in Seymour, Indiana. When John Mellencamp sings, “I was born in a small town,” I love that because I was born in the same small town. John is older than I am but he played all of our dances and everything in high school. It was a great place to grow up.

I remember when I was in high school, there was a basketball game where John Mellencamp played the dance after the game. Larry Bird played against our team. We went home to watch David Letterman do the weather on local television. Diane Sawyer was doing the weather on another station that we got. Fuzzy Zoeller won the golf tournament that weekend at another competing skill. I’m the failure out of the bunch. It was an incredible time and place to grow up.

My family owned the only grocery store in our small community. I stocked shelves and waited on customers. Right before my fourteenth birthday, the manager of the local radio station in Scottsburg, Indiana, another nearby community, offered me a job. It wasn’t because I had a good voice or a pleasing personality. He thought if he hired the kid of the grocery store owner, they’d buy more commercials. On my fourteenth birthday, I started working full-time at the local radio station.

My high school years were filled with a combination of working at a job and I also got involved in a student organization, FFA. At that time, it stood for Future Farmers of America. Today, it’s FFA. I became a state and national officer of that organization in the two years after I graduated from high school. By high school time, I look back on it and there’s a part of it that I wish I would have tapped the brakes a little bit and enjoyed the experience a little more. I got the chance to do a couple of things that were outside the box in terms of working in an environment where I was working with adults. I was the only kid doing that. Also, getting into a student organization was important.

Let’s talk about that. At fourteen years old, you were working for a radio station. Were they putting you on air?

Yeah. In the morning, I would do the foreign markets before I went to school. As soon as I got off school either my mom would drive me until I got my driver’s license or I would drive. I got out of school at 3:00 and went on the air at 4:00. I was on the air from 4:00 to 9:00. I would try to get my homework done during the songs. I would work there in the morning and night.

I pulled a shift on the weekend. I was working 40 hours a week and being involved in the student organization. I was competing in all the contests. I loved it. I look back on it. When my friends get together and they talk about all the stuff they did during high school, I was like, “I wasn’t there when you guys were doing that. I was at work.” It also led to a lot of the great things that happened to me later on in life. No regrets.

Let’s talk about that. The radio station is where you learned to speak. You’ve got a killer voice. Did you learn the voice or was it already your voice? How did you develop such a great voice?

There are a couple of answers to that and one is FFA is where I learned how to speak and not radio. What I learned from the radio is you had to have something to say every time you turn the mic on and it had to be condensed and it had to make sense in a short period of time. It helped me more in terms of thinking about how to make my point than it did in terms of speaking where it helped in terms of my voice. I look back now and realize that I was training it and didn’t even know it.

The ideas that were striking were the ideas that were unique or different. Click To Tweet

Remember the first time you heard your voice on a recording and how different it sounded off a recording than it sounds in your head? I had headphones on for 5 or 6 hours a day. I constantly heard my voice. When you’re fourteen is when your voice is changing. As my voice was changing, I was constantly trying to drive it down so I would sound like an adult and not like a kid on the radio. It wasn’t that I sat there and intentionally did it. I look back now and realize it might be part of it. My dad had a band and sang and all that on the weekend. My dad had a beautiful singing voice. I can’t sing but maybe some of the genes in terms of vocal quality came through.

You developed your voice through the radio station. Tell us about FFA because a lot of people are not familiar with that. What was that? How did you compete in FFA?

FFA is a unique organization because instead of being an extracurricular activity, it’s inter-curricular. For example, I took a course in agricultural sales and service that was in our high school. When we’re talking about that, the way that you learned was also to compete in a contest against folks from other schools. You would make a sales presentation and you would speak. There were public speaking contests.

I remember the summer between my eighth grade and freshman year going to Purdue University. I was sitting next to the last row and was hearing the speaker. It was the first time in my life that I realized there was more to life than Southern Indiana. Not that there’s anything wrong with Southern Indiana. It’s a great place to live in. I love it and I go back all the time. I was never exposed to what my horizons could be until that point. Something I’ll always be grateful to FFA for is giving me the privilege of seeing what life could hold.

You would travel around and compete in sales presentations or speaking presentations. What were they?

Both. I did everything from prepared public speaking contests where you work on a seven-minute speech and you deliver it and then you have to answer questions to parliamentary procedures where I would chair a meeting of other chapter members. Judges would throw you tricks of parliamentary procedure and how well did you as the chairperson handle that. I did livestock judging where you would have to go in front of judges and say, “I place this particular cow over this particular cow for these reasons.” You had to talk about how you would justify your thinking and how you justify your reasoning.

One of the interesting things I loved about that competition was you were graded to some degree on how accurately you placed in the class but what you were graded on is, how did you convince the judges of the logic of your thinking? Particularly, if you disagreed with their positioning, why? I loved that. I love that you don’t have to match everybody else’s thinking as long as you could be persuasive, interesting and accurate in why you made the choices that you made.

You had a ton of training on speaking, presence and being different from a young age.

The month after I graduated high school, I was elected state FFA president, which meant I put college on hold for a year to do nothing but travel and speak in Indiana. It’s a bad way to put it but it’s like being the Miss America of agribusiness. Every farm bureau meeting, every Corn Growers Association meeting, you were there to represent young people who had an interest in agribusiness. The following year, I was elected as a national officer. It was another year but, only this time, it was international travel representing the future of agribusiness.

BYW S4 25 | Challenging The Status Quo
Challenging The Status Quo: It is not just doing more communication, but how to drive narrative through our communication.


The other interesting thing was that I was not from a strict production background. A lot of the other folks came from huge farms. I had to justify why my difference was a positive thing and not a negative thing because it was different from the tradition of the organization at that particular time. That was a great growing and expanding experience as well because there was some pushback on, “How did this guy get this office?” That was a time of change in the organization when it was not going to be future farmers but future people involved in business and that business could be agriculture.

By the time you were 20 or 21, how many speeches had you given?

At least 1,000. Your average day was three high school assemblies, three service clubs and then a parent member banquet. Different audiences and different groups. Also, by the time I was 21, 22, I met in the Oval Office with the President. I had a personal meeting with the chairman of General Motors in the boardroom in Detroit. It wasn’t about me. It was about the respect and engagement they had with the organization. It’s hard to imagine having those experiences by that particular point.

What would you say was the biggest thing you learned from doing 1,000 speeches by the time you were 21?

What I learned was there was a particular aspect of the audience. The old joke was that it could have been an old yellow dog. If it helps the national FFA office, there will be people there to listen to it. I wanted to be interesting to my audiences. What do you have to say at 21 years old that adults are going to want to listen to?

I started making a list. I would ask the business people in the audience the most important thing that made their business successful. What was that? I would be able to say, “Last night at Ottumwa, Iowa, Bill Smith, who runs the local grocery store said, ‘This is the most important thing he’s learned in business.’” One or two things would happen either people would write that down or somebody would come up and go, “I got a better idea.”

You spend two full years accumulating this type of material. Now I could say things of interest to an adult group that was great information because it was from successful people but it was also practical and not solely theoretical. These were the things that these small business people were doing that made a difference.

For example, this was the first time I heard employees come first not customers. If you treat your employees right, they’ll treat your customers right. I started talking about that in the early ‘80s and people would write that down. No one was out there saying that. Somebody came up to me after a meeting and they said, “If people always say the customers are always right, they’re not. If you treat your employees better than you treat your customers, they’ll treat your customers great.” Those were the things that helped me be of interest to adults.

The ideas that were striking were the ideas that were unique and different. If somebody said, “We open every day at the same time,” big deal. It’s when people would say things that I would go, “I’ve never heard that before.” I would share that with my audiences. Behavior rewarded behavior repeated. When I would share unique, out-of-the-box ideas with audiences, they would respond more enthusiastically and more dramatically than if I was sharing platitudes.

We are chosen for our differences, not our similarities. Click To Tweet

By 21, you had not started college yet. Now you’re off to college. Where did you go to college? What did you study in college that led you to your first business?

I went to a small college in Central Indiana, Franklin College, for a primary reason. The guy that owned a radio station I worked for also owned a radio station in Franklin. He said, “You got a job.” With my family’s situation, I was going to have to work my way through school. All my buddies went to Purdue or Indiana University. I’m in between the two campuses at Franklin but I had a job. The funny part was I got so many requests to go give a speech. I pay my way through college more speaking. I had to leave the radio station because I was doing so many speeches.

Political science was my major. My goal at that time was that I was going to go to law school because that was something where I thought I could stand, speak, do trials and that kind of thing. Also, my grandmother’s sister, my great aunt, was a legal secretary involved at one of the big dynamic law firms in Indianapolis. I visit her and think, “This is cool, the big city and lawyers.” I learned along the way that was not what I wanted to do. That was the initial goal.

You graduate from Franklin College and then what happens to you?

The college offered me to go to work for them. I was a little older than the typical graduate. Also, I had all these experiences. This is such a weird combination but they offered me to be the Director of Public Relations and Annual Fund, which meant I was in charge of raising the cash gifts for the college and I was in charge of the PR for the college. They would let me speak a little bit, not a lot but they were okay with me doing some speeches on the side.

This is the funny part of the story, they offered me $12,000 a year. Honestly, at that point in my life, I thought, “How could I possibly spend $1,000 a month?” I couldn’t imagine it. I made more money than I ever thought. The previous year’s fund had raised about $240,000. I raised under $800,000. They offered me a raise to $13,000 a year. I thought, “Higher education is not for me at this particular point.” It gets back to what you were saying earlier, it didn’t fit in. I didn’t like the rules. They were like, “Percentage-wise, you’re getting this great raise.” I don’t think like that. That wasn’t with me.

You leave Franklin College. Where do you then go?

A radio station offered me. They knew that I was doing a lot of speaking. They knew of my previous work in radio. They said, “If you want to build your speaking business, we’ll put you on in mid-days. If the speech is in Indiana, you get off work early enough. You can drive anywhere in the state and make your speech that night. If you have a speech elsewhere, we’ve got somebody on staff that can pitch in for you. You can take as many speeches as you want.” It was the perfect thing because it gave me a solid income while I was building my speaking business.

At this point, I’m 27, 28 years old. I’ve developed my own philosophy. At the same time, I’m doing more of, “Here’s what I’ve learned. Here’s what I’ve heard from these experiences that I’ve had that are unique for somebody my age.” It was reporting on that more than my own philosophy and my own beliefs simply because the audiences were twice as old as I was at that particular time. That was how I could backdoor my philosophy and was using the quotes and knowledge that I gained from talking to so many interesting people.

BYW S4 25 | Challenging The Status Quo
Challenging The Status Quo: ICONIC: How Organizations and Leaders Attain, Sustain, and Regain the Ultimate Level of Distinction


What I was going to ask you next is, what could you possibly be speaking about at that age? Now that makes a lot of sense. For curiosity’s sake, what did you get paid back then to do a speech?

When I was in college, it was a couple of $100. I remember one group in Iowa, it was a farm co-op. I drove to Iowa and they gave me $200. They drove me to the edge of town and filled up my gas tank. I thought, “This is the best. This is cool.” I still have the contract. There was a speaker’s bureau that got interested in me, McKinney Associates.

I still have the first contract and it was from Kentucky Farm Bureau for $250. It was even in the contract, “Scott is able to join you for dinner.” I got to eat dinner with him. It was $250. I remember one speech I gave in St. Louis and after it was over, the head of the company stood up and said, “You were worth twice what we paid you.” I raised my fee to $500. I’ll remember that forever.

You started speaking. Have you been speaking nonstop since then?

Yeah. Something I find such great interest is companies would say, “What does it take to buy your brain for a year, to put you on retainer for access?” I talked about the ultimate customer experience and we own the trademark on that term, the federally registered trademark on ultimate customer experience. It helped us train and teach our people how to do that. We’ve developed coaching and training programs for those content areas. For me, the love of this is the keynote presentation.

You started writing books. What was your first book?

There’s an interesting story behind that. It’s called All Business Is Show Business. You mentioned the movie. That was because of one of these little speeches I gave. Werner Herzog, the director, this is early in his career, happened to be there doing a documentary. He was filming the group I was speaking to. We met and he called when I was a senior in college and asked if I wanted to come act in this movie. It was on Turner Classic Movies. It was such an incredible experience.

The first book came from FFA asking me to come back and speak at the convention, which was such a great honor. I’d been in FFA for years. They asked me to come back for my tenth-anniversary convention and be one of the keynote speakers. There are 20,000 people in the audience. Zig Ziglar was one of the other speakers. I didn’t know Zig. I met Zig through the National Speakers Association. I get to the hotel and check in. My wife is with me. There’s a message at the front desk, “Would you like to go to dinner tonight? Here’s my room number. Call me, Zig.” I’m like a Little League shortstop and Derek Jeter said, “Do you want to go get a bite to eat?” I can’t believe it.

We get to dinner and Zig says, “Scott, I was looking and I couldn’t find your book.” I said, “Zig, I’ve never written a book.” Zig Ziglar said, “I haven’t either.” My wife and I looked at each other. We got eight on the shelf. “What do you mean?” He said, “I get up every morning and I write three pages. After about six months somebody says, ‘Zig, you got a book.’” He smiled at me. It was a great a-ha for me. Writing a book seems so daunting of a task. I could get up the next morning and write three pages. That became the first three pages of All Businesses Is Show Business.

Distinction means you have pursued your uniqueness in a way that has significance for those groups that matter most. Click To Tweet

The reason I brought up the movie was the local television station in Louisville heard about the premiere of the movie and heard about all this. They asked me to do an interview and the news director came out and said, “We’re looking for a movie reviewer. Would you like to do that?” I’m like, “Yeah, I’d love it.” An executive with a syndication company saw it. He was in town for the Kentucky Derby. He happened to see it in his hotel room and syndicated me to 80 stations. Now I got to do all these junkets and interview celebrities.

The next phase of these interviews was the opportunity to ask Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep and John Travolta, “Why did you become successful? There are a million actors. What separated you from the pack?” I’m fascinated by that. What creates uniqueness in the marketplace? What creates distinction? That and some other things that happened in my life led me to make the focal point of what I do. What does it take to stand out in this hyper-competitive world that we live in?

How many books do you have? Go through the titles so that everybody can learn about your progression.

The first one was All Businesses Is Show Business. The philosophy of that book was that what I was seeing in show business was creating these compelling, emotional experiences with the audience. You got to remember, this was years ago. It wasn’t talked about then. The term experience, customer experience or employee experience wasn’t being discussed. I would see these movies doing this with an audience and thought, “What business doesn’t want that?” That was what the philosophy of that book was.

The second was What Customers Really Want. There were gaps between what businesses were offering and what customers were looking for. I surveyed thousands of customers and reported on that. The third was called The Collapse of Distinction. Why do organizations fail to stand out? The fourth one was Create Distinction. It took that idea to the next level. The fifth one was called 7 Tenets of Taxi Terry. It was a cab ride that I had. I was telling this story in a speech. I was keynoting Express, the clothing store in the mall. They put it on YouTube and it instantly got 150,000 views. McGraw Hill saw the video and asked me to write a book about it. That was pretty cool.

Was that about, 7 Tenets of Taxi Terry? Was that the guy’s name, Terry?

Yeah. It’s a signature story in my keynote speeches about this amazing cab driver. How do you differentiate a cab? They all look the same. They all do the same Uber. It’s disrupting the business. How do you stand out in that world? This guy in Jacksonville, Florida found the ways, a system to do it. It was my observations on what every business could learn from a cab driver that is out there and being distinctive and making a difference.

How did he do it? Let’s get to that last title.

ICONIC is the next one and that’s been the biggest. Forbes was so kind about it. American Express sent all their platinum card members. It says something about it. It’s been nice. A new one that is completed but has not yet been released is called Ultimate Customer Experience. It’s a departure for me. There would not be a single thing you would learn by reading this book. It’s things you already know.

BYW S4 25 | Challenging The Status Quo
All Business is STILL Show Business: Create Distinction and Earn Standing Ovations from Customers in a Hyper-Competitive Marketplace

In nowadays environment, it’s the things that you would want your frontline employees to know. All my other books are pitched toward entrepreneurs, leaders and executives. This is the first one I’ve ever done. A bank buys copies for the senior executives and then they may give them to all the branch managers but you wouldn’t give them to a frontline teller. Ultimate Customer Experience is what you want to make sure that the frontline teller reads. It’s the things they need to know about delivering on the front.

It sounds like the theme that goes through all of them is how do you stand out? What did you learn from writing these books? What advice or what do we need to know on how to stand out? I know you can’t give us seven books’ worth in the time we have.

There are four cornerstones to distinction and it begins with clarity. You have to know exactly what your uniqueness is. Strangely enough, we tend to run from our uniqueness. In Australia, they call it the tall poppy syndrome. If you’re unique, you’re the first poppy that gets chopped down. There’s so much in our culture and business that encourages us to be like everybody else. We got to be clear about where our differences are.

An important aspect here is we’re chosen for our differences and not for our similarities. No customer ever says, “I love doing business with them. They’re exactly like everybody else.” I didn’t propose to my wife by saying, “Marry me. You’re like every other woman I’ve ever dated.” We’re chosen for our differences and not our similarities. You got to be specific and clear about what those are.

The second is creativity. What are you doing that’s unique? What are you doing that’s different? It’s not just different to be different. Part of the point of distinction is something that matters to the people that you’re involved with. If I slap every customer in the face, I’m different but it doesn’t mean that it’s going to grow my business. It’s creativity.

The third is communication. We look for narrative. We look for a connection. Through that connection, we build the trust that is essential nowadays. It’s not just doing more communication but it is how we drive narrative through our communication. The fourth and final one is customer experience focus. It’s constantly asking ourselves how does it feel to do business with us?

There are external customers, the folks that spend money with us. There are internal customers. That’s how we look at employees. They’re your internal customers. You have to serve them with an experience as much as your external ones. What’s the ultimate experience that somebody could have working for us or buying from us? When you go through those four cornerstones, you find a way to stand out from the crowd.

Define distinction for us.

There are three levels. The first level is sameness. Let’s take it from an external customers’ perspective. I can’t tell the difference between you and your competition. If you owned a dry cleaning business and you get my shirts done on time and at the same price, everything’s the same. Sameness is what drives commoditization. If I can’t tell any difference, the only thing I can do at that point is maybe cut my price and then customers will like that. It’s a dangerous place but it’s where a lot of businesses are.

An asset is something you invest in. It's something you nurture. An expense is something you seek to control and minimize. Click To Tweet

The second is differentiation. They say, “Here’s where we don’t do it as our competitors do.” The challenge with that is we’ve worked with so many businesses that say, “Here’s what makes us different.” You then survey the customers and it doesn’t matter. Because your logo is blue instead of green, it doesn’t mean the customer thinks you’re different. Distinction means you have pursued your uniqueness in a way that has significance for those groups that matter most.

There are a lot of restaurants in Indianapolis and I can’t tell the difference between one or the other. There are some that are different. They have a uniqueness about them. St. Elmo Steak House in Indianapolis is distinctive. It’s distinctive in how they treat their employees. It’s distinctive in what they do at the meal. They’ve got a shrimp cocktail sauce. My buddy, Jay Baer, calls it a talk trigger. It’s something that you got to tell everybody about. Here’s a steakhouse in Indianapolis that has higher revenue than Tavern On The Green in New York City. How does that happen? It is because they have found a way to be remarkable and distinct that they attract. To me, that’s what my business should be about and every business should be about.

It was about pursuing uniqueness that matters. You got to know your client then.

You do. That’s part of a lot of discussions I have as well. What does your client want? One of the lines I hate in businesses is, “We’re going to exceed customer expectations.” I say, “What does your customer expect? How do you see that expectation that you’re unaware of? What if they expect you’re not going to suck? You’re setting the bar high there, aren’t you?” There are these platitudes that we say. Many times, I don’t get it. They have no meaning. It’s saying the sky is blue. Your competition wants to be below customer expectations.

What should the term be? What would be a better way for companies to talk about that? You know what they’re trying to say but they didn’t say it in a way that made sense.

We are going to connect with our customers at such a level it will ensure repeat and referral business.

Much better.

If I exceed your expectations, it assumes I know your expectations. If I say, “What I’m going to do is going to be so good that you’re going to come back and buy more and you’re going to tell your friends about us.” All of a sudden, to me, not only is that a better way of phrasing it but it’s also measurable. Now I can say, “What are our retention statistics?” Now I can say, “How much referral business are we acquiring?” If we’re not getting repeat and referral business, we haven’t hit that target of being unique and compelling that we’re driving the results that we desire.

Tell us maybe another example of one that has been able to do that. Are there any examples that you can think of? Maybe a company that wasn’t doing that and then started doing that.

BYW S4 25 | Challenging The Status Quo
7 Tenets of Taxi Terry: How Every Employee Can Create and Deliver the Ultimate Customer

One of the case studies in the book ICONIC is the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. I did a lot of work with those folks. They were absolutely wonderful. What we did was break it down. It’s not just saying, “Our resort is going to be distinctive.” How do you do that? What’s the distinctive front desk experience? What does that look like? What does that feel like? Experience is about feeling.

One of the things that they did that I thought was brilliant was, for people who travel a lot, every front desk is the same, every experience is the same. Now they have a guy that takes care of two Golden Retrievers that are in the lobby area when you walk in. The Golden Retrievers wag their tail when they see you.

Golden Retrievers are sweet. They want you to give them a little pat on the head and that is unique. You keep layering on to that. Now, the Golden Retrievers have names, Bigsby and Griggs. They kept building on to that. You go in the room and when they’re doing the housekeeping at the end of the day and leaving the chocolate mint on your pillow, there’s a little thing with a paw print on it saying, “I won’t be curled up by your bed. I hope you two get a good night’s sleep.”

They then took the next step. They’ve got coloring books so that the mom or dad traveling could pick up the coloring book about the dogs and say, “This is where I stayed. Color in this.” The mom stays there on a business trip and then brings her whole family back the next trip because the kids want to meet the dogs and all of these things that are going on. That’s distinctive.

We also did, what’s distinctive housekeeping? What’s a distinctive gift shop? What’s a distinctive property? One of the things that they created was a wave tech pool there so that you can, in the middle of the desert in Arizona, surf the waves of the pool with a sandy beach and everything else. It’s an amazing place and amazing property. It all began with, how do we approach this differently? Yes, there are rules. If I go to the front desk, I got to get a key. I got to get checked in. I got to leave my credit card so you get paid. Why don’t we have to make that such a similar experience to everybody else? Let’s figure out how we make that unique. To me, that’s exactly what it’s about.

It feels like they’re going in the opposite direction in Las Vegas. You and I met in Las Vegas. The hotel we were at had almost the exact opposite of that. Did you happen to go by the front desk? What did you think of the experience of having nobody at the front desk, nobody to talk to, waiting in line to get your key and check in? Personally, I didn’t like it.

I didn’t like it either. That’s a hotel that’s competing on price. I don’t think that’s a good place to be in business nowadays. You and I were both there for one reason, the convention was there. The other thing is if enough people would say to the folks holding that convention, “The meeting was a great experience but the property where you had it isn’t. It’s not congruent.” If enough people would say that to them, I’m sure they’d take it out and move it someplace else. It’s too competitive now to be average. That’s the only reason I stayed there. I wouldn’t go back. Here’s the thing, it’s not like it was terrible. It was average.

The room was nice.

The room was nicer than I thought it would be based on how inferior the check-in experience was. That’s the other thing. Years ago, Jan Carlzon, who was then the President of SAS Airlines, one of his mantras was everything matters. If you’re a passenger on the plane, you drop the tray table down, it’s dirty and it’s got a coffee stain there, he said, “We look at it as, ‘We should have wiped that down better.’” The customer says, “What if you take care of your jet engines the same way you’re taking care of the tray?” I’m sure that the managers of those hotels sit there and go, “Our rooms are pretty good.” I thought, “The room is going to be a dump because look at how bad the check-in experience is going to be.” I was pleasantly surprised with the room but I’m still not going back.

Culture is the feeling of engagement that you get internally within any organization. Click To Tweet

Something simple. I love that story about the Scottsdale Princess because that makes you think about, “What little thing could I do that would make such a big difference?”

You’re exactly right, Gary. Where a lot of businesses slip up is that they think it’s going to be some hugely capital-intensive infusion that has to come to make this enormous difference. What would have happened if, in the same space we got checked in, they had enough people staffing it? Also, what if they would come around from behind the desk like they do at other properties, hand you the key and say, “We are glad that you’re here with us. Enjoy your experience. Is there anything else that we could do?” Even, “Here’s a bottle of water.” It’s less expensive to do that than it is to remodel the rooms again.

It doesn’t take this huge capital outlay. That’s where our message dovetails so well. It’s about understanding yourself and your why and then exploiting it. My friend, Larry Winget, always says when he uses that word in the best way, “Exploit can be both positive and negative.” It’s exploiting and leveraging that to its maximum potential.

I have a question for you. There’s a company that comes to mind for me. They have spent a fortune on having all the right stuff there but they’re struggling with, “How do I get my team to create that distinctive experience? How do you get your team up to speed, engaged or connected to it to make the difference?” If the team doesn’t do it, you’re dead in the water.

It has to begin with the CEO. It has to begin with the leader making that job one and not just giving it lip service. I’ve been at so many meetings where the CEO gets up and says, “People are our greatest asset,” and then they treat them as an expense. An asset is something I invest in. It’s something I nurture. I want it to grow. Expense is something I seek to control and minimize. Leaders get up and say, “You’re our greatest asset,” and then they go back to the office and think about, “How do we make sure that these people work 38 hours a week? They’re not working 40.” You can’t have it both ways.

To me, where it begins is that the CEO or the business owner in a small business has to say from the beginning, “This is the most important thing, our culture.” If you think about it, all the customer experience is the outward expression of your internal culture. If it’s not right on the inside, it isn’t going to be right on the outside. That’s where the tools that you have become incredibly valuable because it helps everybody attain their potential, which is the first step of a supportive positive culture. We’re here for the growth of everyone.

How do you define culture?

I’m asked that a lot and I always think of what Potter Stewart said about pornography, “I know it when when I see it.” I mean that in a different way. Culture is how it feels. That’s not precise. There are some places that, even as a customer, you walk in and you feel, “I had a feeling about the hotel that we were in. It’s from the way the valet parkers treated me as opposed to other properties.” Seeing that long line to check in but not enough people work, there are many different things like that.

You can tell internally they beat their people out. I didn’t see many people smiling and happy to be there like I see in other places. It’s overused and cliche but most of the people I encountered that work at Southwest Airlines are pretty happy working for Southwest. You don’t have to tell me that they have a positive culture. Their people show it by the way that they deal with customers. You don’t have to tell me that that hotel probably has a pretty rotten internal culture because they show it by the way they treat their customers. For lack of a better term, it’s the feeling of engagement that you get internally within any organization.

BYW S4 25 | Challenging The Status Quo
Challenging The Status Quo: Understand yourself and your why, and then exploit and leverage that to its maximum potential.


Is that more in line with what your last book, The Ultimate Customer Experience, is about?

Absolutely. Even ICONIC talks about the importance of the five iconic factors. The fifth one is reciprocal respect. That’s one of the things that’s difficult in organizations. The leaders want respect but they don’t think they have to demonstrate it in the other direction. Respect is reciprocal. To use as an analogy, think of a personal relationship. If I’m committed, you’re the only person in my life and the person I’m directing that to thinks, “We’re dating. We can date around.” It’s not reciprocal. That relationship isn’t going to work.

If I’m dating around and you’re sticking around, we’re great. If we have a significant relationship but we haven’t decided if it’s a fully committed one and we’re both on the same page, we’re great. When the relationship gets in trouble is when the level of commitment is not reciprocal. Why wouldn’t that be true in business? The same thing is true with customers. Businesses say, “We want loyal customers.” What are you doing to reward me for my loyalty?

Scott, last question for you. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever given or the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?

There was a mentor of mine in the speaking business named Grady Nutt. Unfortunately, Grady was killed in a plane crash coming over from a speech many years ago. Early in my career, he was a mentor of mine. I admired him so much that I tried to sound like him. I tried to be him. It wasn’t that I was trying to rip him off or anything like that in terms of material or style. It was sincere admiration to the point of adoration.

Grady took me out to lunch and said, “I am flattered by how much you obviously like what I do. If you’re trying to be the next Grady Nutt, the best you can hope for is second place. You got a corner on the Scott McKain market. Your job is to learn from me and other speakers and other people that you admire. Your other job is to be the best Scott McKain you could possibly be because that’s something that no one else can be.” To this day, the best advice I’ve ever received is not to run from my uniqueness and not to be content with being like everybody else. It doesn’t mean there’s nothing wrong with being somebody else. It means that the world is a better place when you and I and all of us be the best us that we can be.

It’s right in line with your why of challenging the status quo and thinking differently.

I hope so. I want to be aligned. Congruence is important.

If there are people that want to connect with you, follow you, know where you’re speaking and come to your next event, how should they get in touch with you?

BYW S4 25 | Challenging The Status Quo
Challenging The Status Quo: The CEO or the business owner in a small business has to see from the very beginning that the most important thing is the culture.


The best way is to go to my overall website, which is There’s information there on all the services that we provide and all the things that we do with our team spread across the country. If anybody wants to follow that, I would certainly appreciate it.

Scott, thank you so much for being here and taking the time. I look forward to staying in touch as we move forward.

Same here, my friend. I appreciate you. By the way, thank you for letting me take the assessment. That’s profound. It’s cool. That knocked me out. Thank you.

Thank you. Have a great day.

You too.

It’s time for our segment, Guess The Why. For this episode, I want to use Chris Rock because he’s been in the news a lot. What do you think Chris Rock’s why is? He was on stage where he got a slap across the face for telling a joke about Will Smith’s wife. It made me think about what would Chris Rock’s why be.

I learned a little bit about his childhood and how he was the small kid that got picked on all the time. He was different. He was unique. He didn’t fit in. That made me think that probably his why is to challenge the status quo and think differently, to think outside the box and to do things differently. He was forced to do that, he did do that and that’s been his why. What do you think Chris Rock’s why is? I’d love your opinion.

Thank you so much for reading. If you’ve not yet discovered your why, you can do so at You can use the code PODCAST50 and you’ll get it at half price. If you love the Beyond Your Why show, please don’t forget to subscribe and leave us a review and a rating on whatever platform you’re using. I will see you next episode.


Important Links


About Scott McKain

BYW S4 25 | Challenging The Status QuoScott’s matchless experiences have continued throughout his life. They range from playing the villain in a Werner Herzog film that Roger Ebert called one of the 50 “great movies” in cinema history to being booked to speak by Arnold Schwarzenegger for an event on the White House lawn with the President in the audience; from being the author of business books named among the “year’s ten best” to membership of multiple Boards of Directors.

The tapestry of Scott McKain’s distinctive experiences have blended to create the inimitable content that makes him one of the world’s most in-demand business experts and speakers.


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.  

See for privacy and opt-out information. 

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

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, 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. 


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.

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?


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?


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 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.

Important Links:

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.