Steve: Welcome to the Becoming Your Best podcast wherever you might be in the world today. This is Steve Shallenberger your host and we are so grateful for your feedback, comments, and suggestions regarding the show. It’s been amazing. You are an extraordinary group and we are grateful for the privilege to be counted among you. Now today’s subject for this show is the miracle of change, forgiveness, and love. And it’s really inspired by an experience that my wife Roxanne and I had about seven months ago in the country of Rwanda in East Africa. In April of 1994 almost twenty five years ago they suffered a terrible national tragedy as one of the political parties or tribes plotted and set a plan to exterminate another tribe a very large population in their country who saw things differently. They amassed secretly over a hundred thousand machetes and then in April of 1994 the slaughter commenced. It was terrible. In 100 days one point one million of their fellow countrymen were killed. This is by neighbors and fellow workers. It was terrible. A army outside of the country was raised by a fellow by the name of Paul Kagame. It was called the Patriotic Front and they came in and stopped this terrible slaughter. And by the time that it was done he really thought he eventually became the president, how can I ever get this country back on track. He set a bold vision. It was called Vision 2020 where they would have a strong safe country an educated middle class. It was a strong middle class and it would be a progressive country where there was hope. He said we can’t do it as Hutus or Tutsis. He said we’re going to do it as Rwandans together. This inspired vision really helped change a country. Today, many years later it’s now the second fastest growing economy in all of Africa. It’s the fifth safest country in all of the world. You can go anywhere 24/7 and not worry about your safety it’s an extraordinary place. I mean it’s upbeat and it’s positive and indeed the middle class will have doubled their income. They still certainly have a long ways to go. But my goodness have they made enormous progress. Part of this ability to get this country back on track was a program called reconciliation and I’ll talk about reconciliation in just a moment. When we were there seven months ago it was a part of a group from the Young President’s Organization. There were about 70 of us a wonderful group and we visited the Genocide Memorial. Now I’ve had the opportunity to be there before. It’s about a half an acre of land give or take some. But on that land there are two hundred and fifty thousand victims from the genocide buried there. It is a memorial as you go inside there’s pictures of the babies and the young kids and the mothers and their older people it cut across all swaths that were murdered. It’s a sobering experience. Across the way from the genocide memorial is a pavilion. It’s about 300 feet away and it’s called Reconciliation Village. We had the opportunity to visit there and on this particular day it had been arranged for the members, 35 members, of a village to come in and share their experience of what had happened during that time. In front of us stood a lovely lady. Her name was Maria. She is tall and slender and talked about her family. She had nine children and then she related that when this genocide began, perpetrators the ones who committed these terrible crimes came into her village as she was escaping six of her children were killed right then. Three of her children together with her were able to escape in the forest. But she had suffered the terrible loss of most of her family. Oh my goodness we were speechless and she sat down and then the fellow next to her stood up. His name was Patrick. Patrick then said I am the one that killed her children. We tried to take this in and then he related his part of the story that he was 18 years old part of the Hutu tribe just doing what they told him to do. He indicated they taught him and so many others of his age that the Tutsis were a threat to their future that they were subhuman and that they didn’t deserve to live and they put everybody at risk. They also mentioned that they’re like snakes and how can you tell a snake where you can look into the eyes of a snake and the best way to kill a snake is to cut its head off. So they dehumanized them. It was a terrible plan. And then he said when Paul Kagame, the General came into town with the Patriotic Front, he said we were put in prison. There, I stayed in prison and soon became aware of the horrible atrocities, of how wrong it was what I had done. He said I just didn’t understand it before. And Paul Kagame, together with the other leaders who had come in introduced this policy of reconciliation and the policy of reconciliation is the perpetrator would go to the victim the living victim and say I killed your family members and here’s where they’re buried. And it was the responsibility then of the victim to forgive them. And so he said after five years I was totally repentant and I was let out of prison to go back to this village and to find the people whose families I had killed and apologize. He said I went up to Maria and I said I’m the one that killed your six children and I am so so sorry. Maria looked back and said I forgive you. Well this was a very somber time. We all tried to take this in and what it meant and then we realized the enormous power of repentance, of change, of the hope that that could give someone, but also the enormous power of forgiveness and that it took great love and compassion to be able to do this. Now today Patrick is a friend with Maria. He actually goes by and does service at her home. He lives in that village and he helps many, many people. And so they moved on. They have a hope for life. I had a, the next day, driver’s name was John Paul. We are going up to the north in the country. John was about 34 years old and I asked John I said so how are you affected by the genocide did that impact you at all. He related that one day during this time in 1994 about in April he said the perpetrators came into their village and they ushered 4000 people from their community into a large Catholic Church. They bolted the door shut and then they started throwing in grenades. John Paul related that that day there were only eleven survivors all of the rest were killed including his parents and three brothers and sisters. I asked him I said how in the world have you been able to move forward. How have you been able to adapt and he said because I was able to forgive them. And so this is a tremendous force that frees people up that it just gives them a perspective of life. John Paul said listen I’m making the most of my life. He said I live it vicariously for my family because I’m here, because I can. This is the liberation that comes, the hope of the future that comes from being able to change the repentance to make things right to forgive, and this comes through the power of love. So as I went forward and thought about this if these people can do this over such grave crimes certainly we can all do it over setbacks and injustices that take place in our lives, misunderstandings. We can be bigger than that situation. I’d like to just share two other true stories that illustrate this miracle of change, forgiveness, and love. One comes from a talk by Thomas Monson the former president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints and whom I had was fortunate to have as one of my mentors. He’s been so influential in my life. He’s now passed on. But what a legacy he left behind. Among the talks that he gave he entitled it Hidden Wedges from which he shared the story from Samuel T Whitman. Whitman who related the following.

The ice storm that winter wasn’t generally
destructive true a few wires came down and there was a sudden jump in accidents
along the highway and normally the big walnut tree could easily have borne the
weight that formed on its spreading limbs. It was the iron wedge in its heart
that caused the damage. Now the story of the iron wedge began years ago when
the white haired farmer who now inhabited the property on which it stood was a
lad on his father’s homestead and the sawmill had then only recently been moved
from the valley and the settlers were finding tools and odd pieces of equipment
scattered about. On this day, it was a fallers wedge wide flat and heavy. A
foot or longer and splayed from mighty pounding, which the lad had found. It
was in the south pasture. A faller wedge used to help fell tree is inserted in
a cut made by a saw and then struck with a sledge hammer to widen the cut. And
because he is already late for dinner the lad laid the wedge between the limbs
of the young walnut tree that his father had planted near the front gate and he
would take the wedge to the shed right after dinner or sometime when he was
going that way. He truly meant to, but he never did. The wedge was there
between the limbs a little tight when he attained his manhood. It was there now
firmly gripped when he married and took over his father’s farm. It was half
grown over on the day the threshing crew ate dinner under the tree grown in and
healed over, the wedge was still in the tree. The winter that day when the ice
storm came and in the chill silence of that wintry night one of the three main
limbs split away from the trunk and crashed to the ground. This was so
unbalanced that the remainder of the top that it too split apart and went down
and when the storm was over not a twig of the once proud tree remained. Early
the next morning the farmer went out to mourn his loss and then his eyes caught
sight of something in the splintered ruin. “It was the wedge”, he muttered
reproachfully, “the wedge I found in the south pasture.” A glance told them why
the tree had fallen, growing edge up in the trunk, the wedge had prevented the
limb fibers from knitting together as they should. Now there are hidden wedges
in the lives of many whom we know. Yes perhaps even in our own families. And it
is helpful to be aware that this wedge can be a terrible threat to our
happiness. And we have to actively remove these wedges. Now there is another
story in conjunction with my experience in Rwanda and the reminder to not let
hidden wedges get embedded in our lives these emotional traps if you will and
which clearly can cause ill health and unhappiness. Here is the second story
that was shared by Boyd K. Packer an amazing educator and church leader. He
shared this story that one of his inspired mentors named John shared with him.
John grew up in a little community with a desire to make something of himself
and he struggled to get an education. He married his sweetheart and presently
everything was just right. He was well employed with a bright future. They were
deeply in love and she was expecting their first child. The night the baby was
to be born there were complications and the only doctor was somewhere in the
countryside tending to the sick. And after many hours of labor the condition of
the mother to be became desperate. And finally the doctor was located and in the
emergency acted quickly and soon had things in order. The baby was born and the
crisis it appeared was over. Some days later the young mother died from the
very infection that the doctor had been treating at another home that night.
John’s world was shattered. Everything was not right now, everything was all
wrong. He had lost his wife. He had no way to tend both the baby and his work.
And as the weeks wore on his grief festered. “That doctor should not be allowed
to practice”, he would say. “He brought that infection to my wife. If he had
been careful she would be alive today.” He thought really of little else. And
in his bitterness he became threatening. One night a knock came at his door. A
little girl said simply daddy wants you to come over. He wants to talk to you.
Would you mind coming over. Daddy was John’s spiritual and congregational
leader. A grieving heartbroken young man went to see his spiritual leader and
this shepherd had been watching his flocks and had something to say to John.
The counsel from this wise servant was simply “John, leave it alone. Nothing
you do about it will bring her back. Anything you do will make it worse. John,
leave it alone.” My friend told me then that this had been his trial. His
Gethsemane if you will. How could he leave it alone? Right was right and a
terrible wrong had been committed and somebody must pay for it. It was a clear
case, but he struggled in agony to get hold of himself. And finally he
determined that whatever else the issues were he should be obedient and
obedience is a powerful spiritual medicine. And it comes close to being a cure
all. When we do the right things. He determined to follow the counsel of that
wise spiritual leader. He would leave it alone. And then he told Boyd Packer “I
was an old man before I understood. It was not until I was an old man that I
could finally see a poor country doctor, overworked, underpaid, run ragged from
patient the patient with little medicine, no hospital, few instruments
struggling to save lives and succeeding for the most part. He had come in a
moment of crisis when two lives hung in the balance and had acted without
delay. I was an old man”, he repeated, “before I finally understood. I would
have ruined my life he said. And the lives of others. Many times he had given
thanks for the wise counsel of this spiritual leader who had said simply, “John
leave it alone”. I reflect on my experience in Rwanda. They removed the hidden
wedges that would most certainly have destroyed the future of this country and
maintain the inspiring perspective of leaving it alone and finding a way to
move forward with love and kindness and consideration for others. This is the
power of change, of forgiveness, and this love that we’re talking about that
makes it possible. Just a side note I was just thinking about this the other
day there’s things that we can do to really get feedback, to understand how we
can do better. This takes humility. It takes a desire to want to improve. This
is the spirit of becoming your best. So one of the resources that is a great
resource in becoming aware of how we can change is something that we call, it’s
a simple tool, a single sheet of paper with three words on it continue, start,
and stop and then you can give that piece of paper to a spouse, a friend, your team
even a whole company and we can just invite others to fill it out, to- what are
the things that I should continue doing that work well? What should I start
doing that I’m not doing today that would improve things, and what should I
stop doing that doesn’t work? And so whether it’s us as a leader in a company
giving it out or an organization or to our own loved ones it allows us and
others to exchange the feedback process and then we can implement that for
improvement. This is at the very heart of change, of forgiveness and it’s found
in a bigger perspective. Well now this is the sheet that you can put together
yourself or if you would like to simply write to us at we’d be happy to send you a printed copy of this
continue, start, stop form for your use. Certainly it’s free of charge there’s
no obligation, that’s Now I would like to share
the impact of this in my life. I can think of many instances but I’m going to
share one that happened not so long ago. My wife is a very special lady. She’s
lived a brilliant life. Unfortunately five years ago she was diagnosed with
early onset dementia due to Alzheimer’s and in the last 18 months last 12
months really this disease has taken a terrible toll. The cognitive ability has
significantly reduced and I had an experience with her about 18 months ago and
we were working on cleaning one of the rooms in our home and I asked if she
could do something and she wasn’t able to do it. She went in and sat on the bed
in tears and she pleaded and said to me I’m trying as hard as I can. Oh man.
Without realizing it I just guess I wasn’t being as patient as I could have
been. I held her and apologized with a greater determination to never let that
happen again. And I believe I’ve done reasonably well but we’ll continue to
work on it for as long as we have the privilege to be together. And fortunately
despite her condition she is sweet and happy. I just happen to believe that it
is these elements of change, repentance, forgiveness, and that may be forgiving
ourselves and the love that allows it all to happen. So as I look forward with
her I don’t “ask why me?”. I ask, “how can we make this a great day? How can we
live life to its fullest?” And I count my blessings that she’s been such a huge
part of my life and our lives. She is a light. Today, we conclude this podcast
with an amazing musical number. It was written and produced by a talented
friend of mine by the name of Michael McClain. Michael is such a talented
artist. I heard it some years ago it’s entitled Let It Go. It so much fits very
much with what we’ve talked about today and I will include the lyrics in the
written portion the transcript of this podcast. So let me just play it now for
you and I hope that you can hear it okay.


As you are determined to let things go, to
remove the hidden wedges, replacing strife, and misunderstandings, and setbacks
with a Becoming Your Best type change for good, forgiveness and love. May you
find peace, happiness, health, and prosperity. This is what is really at the
heart of being a highly successful leader. Because of the decisions and the
choices we make, we change the outcomes. We can make a difference. This is
Steve Shallenberger your host with Becoming Your Best, wishing you a great day.

Michael McLean – Let It Go

I can still recall
The hour my father told me it was time
To let it go

Though its mended wing
Had made it sing
He said the bird I cared for was not really mine
So let it go

“Letting go,” he said, “seems to break your heart
Though it will heal it feels slow to start.”
And though the pain burned within me so
He held me tight
So I could let it go

Years have passed since then
And so has he but still I hear his words
Let it go

There’s so much of life that can’t be lived
If you’re holding on to hate and anger deep inside
Let it go

Letting go
It opens up the heart
There is a new day that’s hungry to start

Well you can’t change
What has hurt you so
But you will heal if you’ll just let it go

All that’s wrong in your life
Let it go
All that is worth saving
Is love

Love will hold you tight
Love lifts the burden
And love shines the light

Only love
Nourishes our soul
If it’s not love
Simply let it go

Rob: Ok well let’s get rolling. Welcome to our friends, our family, our Becoming Your Best podcast listeners wherever you find yourself in the world welcome. Before we get going on this podcast a couple of things. Number one there are some big announcements coming here in the near future and these will impact each one of us. And so we’re excited to announce these they’ll be rolling out here in the next two to three weeks so keep your eyes and ears out on Facebook, Instagram, you’ll definitely hear it here on the podcast but there are some big things coming in, so we’re excited about that.

Now this podcast is going to be a little bit of a different one for me, because I’m going to lump myself right in there and what I mean by that is I’m going to start this at the same time I’m inviting you to start this and I haven’t explained what this is yet. This is a big, big deal in our lives and can have a really dramatic impact on our relationships, our finances, our success, and the way that we really look at and feel about ourselves.

But before we get started I’d like you to take a look at the person on your left or right. If you’re in an office setting right now just look around the office. If you’re alone obviously you can’t do that. Visualize in your mind some of the people who are close to you in your life. If you’re alone, the point is that you have someone in mind or someone that you can look at and actually see.

Now don’t you think it would be a safe assumption to assume that that person is going through a challenge or a trial that we know nothing about. I mean it could be related to money, finances. It could be a relationship issue with a spouse or a son or daughter, or maybe it’s just generally how they’re feeling in life. I mean we all have our Goliaths, and can’t you relate to this, where maybe they’re just something that you’re going through and you feel like you’re alone in that battle and no one else may be gone through that or can relate to it like you do.

Either way let me give you an example of what we’re talking about here. My mom, for those who may know her, is an absolutely incredible lady just one of the idols of my life. I’ve loved her, wanted to become like her in so many different ways through the years. She was my go-to person when I was growing up. If I had a concern or a problem many times she would just listen, and I really loved her for that. And then at 55 years old she was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s and this was a game changer in our family.

You fast forward the clock just seven or eight years later and at this point she can’t even really form a coherent sentence. So you have this brilliant, amazing lady who never got less than an A, people love her, and she’s just a shell of who she once was. You can see and feel that internally she’s still there, but she can’t articulate she can’t have a conversation. And we’ve really lost the person who we’d known and over the last few months it’s really caused me to reflect that life is fragile and we only have a finite amount of time in this world.

We each have this fire inside of us that’s waiting to be ignited and this fire can become a roaring flame if we unleash it. And this is the time for each of us to face our own Goliaths, to make our areas of improvements become our strengths. And the truth is tomorrow is not guaranteed for any one of us. And that’s exactly why we’re here on this podcast is in the spirit of becoming our very best, what can we do that can have a dramatic impact in our life? And of course the 12 Principles, the Six Step Process, all of those are absolutely critical. You’ve seen them, you’ve heard them, and many of you have felt the power of them in your life.

Well we’re going to zero in on something that I’ve not really talked about before and I’ve done it a little bit throughout my life but never really developed the habit of doing it. And that is about to change, and maybe you can relate to this. I mean it’s something that we’ve heard about many times throughout our lives. And notice I haven’t said what that is yet. And yet very few of us still do it even though we’re all familiar with we’ve heard this term many times until now and I’m inviting everyone on this podcast to join me in developing and committing to this habit. And we’re going to go through some ways that can actually help us do this.

Now when researching the habits of great leaders, these high performers, when we were looking and identifying and finding the twelve principles there was a habit that emerged in there and it pertains to the twelve principles but it’s very individual, not a principal, it’s a specific habit. Now when I share this habit that I’m sure you’re saying “Rob, just get to it.” But when I actually share this there will be a lot of people who immediately say “you know I’ve tried it and it didn’t really work for me” or, “man you know I started doing that way back when, and I just didn’t ever maintain the habit.” Well I’m one of those people. I can relate to this. And many of the great leaders we researched had this habit. Now are you ready for it? The habit is this: journaling.

Now don’t hit stop, don’t stop this podcast, don’t turn down the speakers, because I’m an invite you to do something in a way that most likely we’ve never done it before. If you look back at some of the greatest leaders through history this is one of the habits that they developed and it’s what allowed their minds to really unleash this fire, you know, to expand their thinking to develop these expansive visions that most people laughed at or said is impossible. Leonardo da Vinci – he had a helicopter drawn in his journal. I mean can you imagine that? Nelson Mandela, Washington, Lincoln, and so on. Many of these people had this habit of journaling, so why is it so difficult?

Why is this something that is so hard for most of us to do. I mean, many want to develop this habit. Here’s what I’ve come across in my own life. I’ve periodically done this. You know I served two years as a service missionary in Bolivia and that was probably the only time I had the semi-consistent habit of doing this, and thank heavens I did because I’ll look back and read some of my entries and without fail, 90 percent of what I wrote down was gone from my memory and had I not written it down I would’ve completely missed and forgotten about those incredible life changing experiences.

And so as I’ve recommitted to this, I said you know I know that this is a high-performance habit. Why am I not doing it? And what I found as I’ve talked with friends and over the last month, I really spent a lot of time going over different journaling techniques what’s working what doesn’t. I’ve asked people what do you do? What hasn’t worked for you? And these are some of the people who have developed this habit and I’ve really found that for most of us who don’t have this as a habit in our lives it’s simply because we don’t know where to start. You know we know go get a journal and then do what with it? What do you write in the journal? I mean I can relate to that and maybe you can relate to that as well. So I can understand I can empathize with a lot of people out there who say I know it’s important, but what now?

And that’s what the next few minutes on this podcast are gonna be about, what now. And I invite you to take this habit and really make it a habit. You know the things that we do with our time ultimately are the things that matter most to us. And this single habit of journaling really will amplify what matters most to us. So over the last month in my own personal research of journaling habits and techniques and what makes journaling successful I put together a list of some of those things. We’re actually to add this to our Breakthrough Leadership Conference that we have in April and October. We’re going to go a little bit deeper into journaling techniques and how that can really impact your life, your business, your relationships.

For right now though I just want to make an introductory thought and invite you to join me over the next four weeks in actively journaling and see what it does. And I say see because I’m right in there with you on this. So here are some of the things that I’ve found over the last few weeks that can really have a big impact.

Number one get a nice journal or notebook because your posterity may read this. Your grandchildren, your great grandchildren may read this. So this may not be the one where you want to spend just two dollars on, you know, go get a nice leather-bound journal something that can really endure through generations. I have a friend who runs a company and I went down and got this nice leather bound well just call it a journal. I had these blank pages inside and it’s a special paper that in theory is supposed last for hundreds of years. So the point is to actually just go get a notebook or journal, but don’t procrastinate this. You know the art is in the start. You don’t have to be great to start but you have to start to be great. And so I’m inviting you in the next couple of days. Go get a journal. And if you can’t find a nice leather-bound one, man just get something and let’s start this together.

Next in the front of the journal, put your name your address your phone number and your email and write on top of it. “Return for a fifty dollar reward if found,” because fifty dollars should be almost nothing compared to what can be found in this journal. Fifty dollars is easy and that’s where someone’s time and effort to actually return it to you if you lose it and they find it. So that’ll help you if it gets lost. I’ve actually talked to several people who say they had these amazing journals and then they lost them all and that would be heartbreaking. And this is a little bit different. It’s not an online journal, that will come later, but this is something that you’re actually physically are writing not typing.

Another helpful tip that I’ve learned from some people over the last few weeks is to number the pages in the corner. Obviously the first page will be number one, two, three, four and then in the back leave four pages or so where you can keep an index. And as you have interesting thoughts and ideas or things that come along you can actually after you’ve done writing in the journal go back to the index and put one of the keywords in there and what page it’s found on. And that way you can go to your index once the book is full and really save yourself a lot of time. You know if there’s something you’re thinking about, oh I remember that that’s right. What page is that on? 45. You don’t have to waste your time looking for the page.

All right. So let’s talk about the start, that’s getting going. Now how do you actually do the journaling? So here’s a couple things that I’ve found. Lots of books would support this. And this is why I’m committing to doing this. If it’s something that can take us and make us better, good better best. Then why are we not doing it?

So number one is to set aside five to 10 minutes in the evening just before bed. And the reason that we’re gonna use this time to do it is because there are so many studies that support what we do just prior to closing our eyes will permeate into the subconscious of our mind, and our subconscious will find ideas and solutions to what we are thinking about just prior to going to bed. And that’s why the exact opposite, the worst things we can do are to watch TV right before bed. You know watch a little video or movie because we go to sleep and our mind is focused then on that, where if we can use this high-performance time, this five to 10 minutes to zero in on the things that matter most in our life then our subconscious mind can go to work on finding solutions while we sleep. I mean isn’t it true that many of your good ideas come early in the morning. Can you relate to that where you’re sitting there, you’re half awake, you’re half asleep and you had this idea and you say “oh this is such an awesome idea.” And many times we don’t write it down and then what happens when we wake up. I mean this has happened to me many times where I say, “oh come on. What was that idea? It was amazing.” And I just for the life of me can’t remember what it was. So the point is we’re training our subconscious mind and putting in a position where it can work for us while we’re sleeping. And that’s why this five to ten minutes prior to laying down becomes the critical time. And then if you would like to, to take it up a notch, I’m not asking us to commit to too much in the beginning. So consider that the bachelor’s degree. That’s the start. If we want to go to the MBA, PhD level and that may happen in three or four weeks. Right now I’m going to focus on the evening.

The other clear indicator of success are people who wake up in the morning and one of the first things they do is go to their journal because it really sets the alignment for the day. Right now though, I’m just going to invite all of us if this is not something that’s an active part of your day your habits, to start with the evening. Five to ten minutes prior to going to bed. We can all do that. Not a single person who can’t do it if they have the desire to do it. All right. So let’s really get into the start now.

You go out, you get the journal, you number the pages, you make a place for the index you allocate the time to do it. Where do you actually start? And this has been one of the most difficult parts for me personally and for many other people who I’ve talked with about this idea. So none of these are concrete firm questions that you need to answer.

Rather I’m going to invite you to come back and relisten to this part a couple of different times and actually write some of these down, because these are questions that can help get you going in writing. If you’re similar to me many times you just sit there look at a blank page and ask yourself what do we write? Well here are seven to eight questions that can spur ideas of what you can write in that five to ten minutes in the evening. Again no one of these questions specifically do you have to do. Just choose one or two or three and get started on this. This will give you something to write as you get started. And then as we develop this habit together it’s gonna become easier and easier and easier as we develop the habit. So let’s get going on this here are some questions that you can think about in that five to ten minute window.

What are some small wins from the day? Let me say that again. What are some small wins from the day? Isn’t that an awesome question? And think about if you’re actually articulating that out and you’re taking just one to two minutes to write out some of your wins for the day. And isn’t it true where there’s some days that just simply go better than others, and some days you’re just looking for the one win. That’s what we’re doing, we’re focusing on the positive we’re setting our subconscious mind in the right frame to make the next day an even better day. So what are some small wins from the day?

Here’s another question you could ask yourself. Is there a quote or something you heard that day that inspired you? Good question. For example you know I heard someone say a few weeks back the best definition of success they’ve ever heard is this, “how you feel about yourself when you’re by yourself is how successful you truly are.” Man that’s an awesome quote so I wrote it down and I kept it and I committed it to memory, and I realized just this morning that after not saying it for three or four weeks I’d almost lost it. And thank heavens it came back this morning but that’s the idea is if you hear something inspirational capture it.

Okay here’s the next one. Write your affirmations. If you don’t currently have some affirmations that you’re using on a daily basis. Great. This is your chance to write them down. Commit them to memory and make them your affirmations. Today is going to be a great day. I’m a kind and caring husband who always helps Tonya feel like a 10. Everything’s working in our favor. These are examples of affirmations because what we think about and what we talk about is what we bring about.

OK here’s another question for you. What are you grateful for today? And again maybe there are some days where this is just awesome, and you can fill the whole page just on a gratitude page. There are other days that maybe don’t go so well. And this will help lift our spirits a little bit and say you know what, maybe the day wasn’t so bad. Maybe it was actually pretty fortunate and pretty amazing because we have our health, we have a home, we have this and that and just answering that question can shift our mood. So what are you grateful for today?

Now I’m gonna shift back to me. What’s something that I would like to improve tomorrow? And here’s where we don’t make a negative statement about ourselves. Let’s say we lost our cool with one of our sons or daughters and we say, “dang it you know I really wish I wouldn’t have done that.” So instead of saying you know I’m gonna quit being a bad parent, that’s a negative way to phrase it that’s not the intent of this. What’s something I would like to improve tomorrow? Tomorrow I would like to spend and invest more meaningful time with my son or daughter where I’m actively being present and really listening to them. See how that’s phrased in a positive way of something we can do tomorrow. I’m not going to lose my temper again or something like that. So we’ve focused on what we can do in the positive. Again we’re setting the intention for our subconscious to go to work.

Here’s another question. What can you let go of today? Phew. That can be a powerful question for some of us especially if it’s something that’s really binding you and holding you down. What can you let go of today?

OK. Here’s another question. What’s a great memory from your life? So if you’re just struggling to come up with ideas to answer any of those other questions look back on something. That’s an easy one. This is like the pitch that comes right over the plate that sets us up to hit a homerun. Any of us should be able to answer this one, what’s a great memory from your life? Just search back and think of one. Write it down.

OK. Here are two more. The last two. What’s an annual goal that you’re excited about and that you can work on this week?

And here’s one last one as a starting point, write a question to reframe the problem that might be plaguing you. So if finances are a challenge in your life maybe you can rephrase this instead saying I’m broke, bad things always happen to me, nothing ever works out. No that’s the wrong language. Maybe you could rephrase this into a form of a question and again let your subconscious work on it throughout the night. How do I generate $5000 a month in passive income? It’s a positive. It’s a question. Let’s see what my mind can do and start going to work on this. But if we don’t do anything what’s going to change? Absolutely nothing. And this is why we start journaling because it starts to invigorate the mind. It lights this fire within us. And this is why I’m so passionate about starting and committing to this.

So here are a few sample questions, let me just reread them quickly with no commentary. What are some small wins from the day? Is there a quote or something you heard that inspired you today? Write your affirmations? What are you grateful for today? What’s something I would like to improve tomorrow? What can you let go of today? What’s a great memory from your life? What’s an annual goal that you’re excited about working on this week? And the last one, write a question to reframe the problem that plagues you. This is it.

So my invitation is over the next four weeks, you, if you’re willing to do this, commit to actively journaling. I’ve already invested in mine. If you would like a Becoming Your Best journal, we’re actually going to take this a lot more seriously. We’re working on creating a high performance journal like this that has some helpful ideas in it and that’ll be available down the road. Go on Amazon and you’ll find another thousand on Amazon. The point is let’s get that in front of us. And for me I’m going to have it sitting right next to my bed with a pen. So there’s no excuse. It’ll be right there on the bed. I know that I’m going to allocate five to ten minutes just prior to going to bed and initially I’m to keep some of these questions in front of me and then it’s not gonna be a matter of what do I write. It’s just a matter of how much do I write.

And so I hope you’re willing to try this with me and actually try is the wrong word. I hope you’re willing to do this with me. And I would love to hear what happens over the next four weeks with you. You know, write us an email Share your experience. Because this is and can be a life changing habit. So I hope this was helpful for you. Wherever you’re out in the world. Wish we could reach out say hi, shake hands, give you a big hug.

Between now and then, again I mentioned earlier that there’s a big announcement coming there’s actually a couple of them so stay tuned over the next two to three weeks because this will be awesome you’re going to love this, some new things that are coming out that can really have a big impact in our lives. So again thanks for joining us today. Wishing you a fabulous week.

Steve: Welcome to our listeners wherever you may be in the world today to the Becoming Your Best global leadership podcast. This is Steve Shallenberger and I welcome you. We welcome you. Today we have an important subject that we’re going to be discussing that affects every single one of us either directly or indirectly and so the title or subject that I’d like to talk about today is 8 things that you can do when you feel discouraged or down.

Now this is an important subject primarily because in terms of productivity, happiness, joy, fulfillment, and getting great results discouragement or feeling down is a real threat to you. It affects your business, it affects your relationships, and it is the opposite of feeling highly motivated. So certainly, being highly motivated is the goal and that’s the state of mind that we want to be in most of the time.

When we do have this malady hit us this discouragement are feeling down what can you do? Well that’s what we would like to talk about today. I wish we were here together in person and that I could hear your ideas on this as well. I’m sure you can add more to it. But let’s go ahead and go through these eight.

1.Control what you can control.

Refuse to permit your thoughts to dwell on what you cannot control. Dwelling on what you cannot control literally is wasted energy and wasted time. This list of eight things are all things that you can control, and they help you defeat discouragement and to maintain this high level of motivation. These things will take some discipline but they’re not difficult and with time they become habits, that will bring you years of happiness, fulfillment, and success.

Now let’s just give a few examples of controlling what you can control or not and the impact that it has. So, you cannot control what others think or say about you or what they do. So, in contrast what you can control is how you treat them. You can be nice. You can be generous and forgiving. These are just a few examples of what you can do that has a huge impact on your feelings. Here’s another example. You clearly can’t control government, but we can focus on electing good people that can influence our government. You cannot control someone cutting in front of you on the highway, but you can control your response. You can respond with kindness and patience and understanding and cutting them some slack. So perhaps they lost their job or had a terrible thing happen or maybe lost a big sale or received some bad news or just being rude. Well we can just be kind and cut them some slack versus what some people do is they’ll honk the horn and they’ll just get sucked in to this behavior by other people.

So literally what you have to do is determine that you will not let others pull your chain. I’ve seen people that you know they start honking, they ride up 2 inches from the back bumper of the car in front of them. But I mean to tell you this type of escalation does not help you to feel highly motivated. As a matter of fact, it leads to further discouragement because you feel badly, you lost control of your feelings and your actions. Well these are just things that you can do.

One of the things that you can control if you feel discouraged or down is you can be thoughtful about the contributing factors that might be contributing to this discouragement or feeling down. So, for example is there a health crisis? Did you have a major setback in your work or business or lose money? You may have money issues or maybe you’ve been served divorce papers or lost or changed your job or moved to a new location. So, there are many things that can contribute that get this kicked off and if you can understand it then you can really focus on controlling the right things.

The things that will impact this and you have great creativity and imagination that we’re all blessed with this imagination and as we use it, we start coming up with answers. One of the things you can control is you can apply the six steps of problem solving, planning, and execution. So that’s number one. Just be focused on controlling what you can’t control. Just say that is my default if I feel this way.

2. Think only positive thoughts.

Another thing that you can do is to think only positive thoughts. Be determined you will not let negative thoughts enter to your mind. Focus on the positive. Read positive material including reading and reciting poems or positive stories. Let me just share a couple of experiences. Earlier in my career anyhow, many years ago we had a sales, marketing, and publishing company and our sales reps and our administrative team and shipping department altogether we would hold a one-week training school and prepare and arm our sales reps to be successful. They were assigned all over the United States and would work, because it was a highly focused summer, sales because their college students and working to earn enough money to pay for their whole school year. They were very focused. This took a lot of intensity and when they got up in the morning, they had to be in a positive frame of reference right from the get-go. So, during the sales school one of the things we did is taught them how to have positive thoughts and maintain positive thoughts so that every person they talked with they could be a light a positive light somebody that was upbeat and then share their message and if people were responsive to it great, they could tell them more and if not then they move on. But leaving everybody a little bit better than they found. One of the things we taught them to do was to have positive self-talk. So, we would say things like I feel healthy, I feel happy, I feel terrific and we teach him to say it 10 and 20 and 30 times until they felt that way. And as they are driving out their area and by the way I sold a couple of summers when I was going through college, I remember vividly driving out to my area 7:30 in the morning getting ready. I would arrive you know at the first location at 8 a.m. I mean to tell you I would be discouraged some days. It wasn’t easy to get yourself motivated but I remember saying I feel healthy, I feel happy, I feel terrific. And we by the way over the years hired thousands of these individuals wonderful, amazing people who have gone on to change the world for good. And when we see each other today and this is decades later we still laugh and say I feel healthy, I feel happy, I feel terrific continues to have a big impact. In September of this last year one of our sons, Tommy and his wife Michaela, invited us to go to Yellowstone with their two young boys. One of them is four the others like two in that range and Forrest is the name of one of them. As we got in the car, I had the chance to sit in the back seat with Forest and of course we spent several days in the car together. I got in the car one morning and Forest said I feel sad. Well we had fun because I said Forrest, I want you to repeat something after me. I feel healthy, I feel happy, I feel terrific. And he said, no I feel sad. Well, by the end of the trip Forrest had said I feel healthy, I feel happy, I feel terrific at least 200 times. I mean to tell you once you got that boy going, You couldn’t shut him up. Well, it changed him, and his parents shared that when he got back home later, he’d be going around the house saying that I feel healthy, I feel happy, I feel terrific. Well this is something that you and I can do is think positive thoughts. Number one is control what you can control. That’s the focus. That’s the default. Number two think only positive thoughts and have a place to go. Repeat positive things. Positive puns.

3. Review your personal vision, annual SMART goals and pre-week planning.

Review your personal vision, annual goals, and consistently do pre-week planning. I mean to tell you if you want to have a breakfast of champions, this is the breakfast of champions. You only do the personal vision one time and once you have it you have it and you’re really front loaded to be successful. Now you may refine it over time, and you do your annual goals once a year and these should be smart goals. Our recommendation and what we’ve found works best is to do them by your various roles in life. So personal and the different dimensions in our personal life, spiritual, mental, emotional, financial, health those things. So being thoughtful that we take care of ourselves but also like spouse or partner or parent friend or certainly work and professional whatever aspect that may be service to others how does that look. Well when you think about what you can do this year it is flat out inspirational, and this is motivating. This gives your place your mind a place to go that’s positive and inspirational. And then third is take a few minutes each weekend and through your roles think of what actions are most important as you bring your calendar of things to do all together and a plan that also is focused. You look at it and you say I’m ready to go! I see this! I’m prepared!

So, these three disciplines putting them in place in your life will have a huge impact. And I might add, you’re really doing what Ralph Waldo Emerson said when he said sow a thought you reap an action sow an act and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a character and then sow a character you reap a destiny.

Well, this is what helps arm us to be more effective when we feel this down feeling, we have a way to come back. We have a place to focus our emotions and energy and effort. And when we’re thinking of what we can control we say, oh yeah, I can do this. One of those things could be to serve other people. When we start feeling sorry for ourselves it just deepens the spiral. But when we start thinking about other people and how we can help them it helps lift us out of the abyss of discouragement and puts us positively in a much better place.

I’d like to just give an example of this couple of weeks ago I was told about an acquaintance of mine by the name of Chas. Chas lives in our neighborhood about 10 houses away. He’s lived there a few years. They have five children and they’re a relatively young family. Oldest child is probably 14 and goes down to two or three years old. Well, on December 15th Chas’s wife handed him an envelope. So, can you guess what was in the envelope. Well, if you guessed a check for ten thousand dollars, you’d be wrong. It was divorce papers and Chas was totally shocked. He had no idea this was coming. So let’s just go back and think about this number three setting up and reviewing your personal vision, having an annual goal, and doing pre-week planning. Let’s just say for a moment, I’m not criticizing by the way Chas in any way this is not uncommon. How many times have we heard about this happening, but there are things that we can do about it to prevent it? So, if Chas is vision under a spouse or partner was to treat my spouse like a 10 and to help her or him be happy on a scale of one to 10. So that’s the vision. What kind of goals could you have this year that support that kind of vision? Well you could say well we’ll go on two dates without the children per month. So, 24 dates during the year. Something else you could do is regularly check in and do an assessment. How are things going? How is your partner feeling? So, on a scale of one to 10 you could say you know Janie on a scale of one to 10 how are you feeling like on a happiness scale. How are you feeling and if Janie says well you know I’m a three. Well what does that tell you? It tells you have some work to do. If she says I’m an eight. Well that’s good news you know you’re headed in the right direction then you can ask well on a scale of one to 10 how do you feel our marriage is doing. If Janie says, well I think we’re at a one. Well that tells you something right. If she says well it’s going great, we’re like it in seven or eight or nine. Well that’s a different answer altogether. How about on a scale of 1 to 10 how’s your health? Okay, so these are examples if you do this another goal you may have is to put a letter of appreciation under his or her pillow two times during the year. These are examples of goals you may have. And then during the pre-week planning what you can do is say what will I do this week. Okay, I’m going to have a great date this week. And you actually then say when will I do it. Well this is how the process works. It’s enormously powerful.

But in this case think of the impact these actions this frame of reference would have had on Chas and his wife, we’ll call her Janie, if he had done this a year ago so a year ago January, they’d all gone on a date. It worked on a great date and during the date he can say, well Janie on a scale of one to 10 how are you doing? How about in your happiness? How about on our marriage? How about your health? I would suggest to you that as you do these things these are controlling what you can control it can save your marriage. It can build a strong relationship and definitely it can defeat the things that cause discouragement and feeling down. Think how down Chas is going to feel now. How discouraging it’s going to be? He’s going to have his moments. He’s going to have child support and he’s going to have alimony perhaps. It’s not going to be easy. It’s a tough road but now you’re in this situation. You can do all three of these things we’ve just talked about and they will help you get to a better place.

4. Get adequate sleep!

Oh, my goodness, I mean you think about sleep and how important it is virtually every person that I’ve had the chance to visit with about this talk about how important sleep is. It’s interesting. It’s not easy to sleep when you’re feeling overwhelmed and as a matter of fact, nearly two thirds of Americans say that they lose sleep because of stress, but the facts are certain things can affect sleep. There is also a determination to say I am going to get adequate sleep and I’m going to find a way to get good sleep.

So, we’re aware of some of those factors. It is clear that absence of sleep or sleep deprivation leads to greater risk of depression, anxiety. Certainly, all these other health factors increase risk of heart disease, cancer, impaired memory, reduced immune system, weight gain. So big stakes here at getting adequate sleep.

This is a big defense against feeling down it’ll help you come back. And so that’s a big one.

5. Pray and Meditate.

Ask for help and strength. And remember you are not alone. This is an enormous source of strength and I remember feeling at some of the lowest points in my life and as I turned to prayer and meditation, I found peace and I found strength that ultimately has lasted throughout decades. That’s the impact that it’s had. And I know that I have somebody that I can reach out to that I can find comfort and strength in I can find a perspective and a purpose.

Let’s do a little review of the first five. 1. Control what you can control. 2. Think only positive thoughts. 3. Review and be sure you have in place a personal vision that inspires you, that’s meaningful. You have annual goals that are set for the year smart goals and you consistently do pre-week planning. 4. Get adequate sleep. 5. To pray and meditate.

6. Make a list of things for which you are grateful.

Express your gratitude to other people. Call someone and thank them for being an important part of your life. And just watch how your feelings shift and it could be a child or a spouse, relative, friend, a mentor, somebody at work, a work associate.

We are a big proponent of using a notebook or a journal, but you can have a section say five or six or seven pages dedicated to what you’re grateful for. By the way, in my journals that I have or notebooks in the back I leave a few pages for my index and I number every single page and then it’s really easy to go back and have quick access to these sections.

But wow, what a huge impact when you start dwelling on all the things, you’re grateful for, it really starts shifting your moods and puts things in perspective.

7. Get out and exercise.

If you can, get outside into nature, if that’s possible. It’s all the better where those circumstances allow, or you can walk or jog or ski or whatever it might be.

During the winter, and at least in the state of Utah, where our home, it’s cold. So, we have a mall close by, University Place. It’s a beautiful place and we can walk a couple of miles at a time and it’s interesting and fun. It’s warm so you can kind of pick things out that are interesting as you are walking along, but exercise is huge. I exercise inside, I mix them up and I also go outside. I have a regimen where you know the big Ron Williams workout, I love it, the build and burn. I have a bike that I ride. So, I mix these up and they help give me a variety, but I’ve got to say maybe your experience has been the same that I cannot remember a single time when I went out and exercised or participated in an exercise that I didn’t feel more upbeat. That I didn’t feel energized. That my mind wasn’t exercised and stimulated thinking new ideas. So, number seven get out get some exercise.

8. Never Give Up.

This is at the very heart of human willpower and the human spirit of never giving up. There’s so many examples. I know you have many examples as you reflect upon them in your own life and also in the life of others.
I was thinking about Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller this morning. Oh, my goodness what a story of never giving up. And in her own life, Anne Sullivan, who was Helen’s teacher, suffered from blindness. It was hard for her to see. She had restricted vision. She had been in a home, a foster home or an orphanage. She had her own challenges, but she became educated, she wanted to learn, and she ended up with a mentor and when she became of age, she wanted to go out and teach others and she became aware of Helen Keller’s parents, that they had a need with Helen. Helen was a young girl. She was both blind and deaf. Anne was able to patiently work with her as she helped Helen fight through anger and emotion and all of a sudden started learning. Oh, my goodness, Anne would hold her hand under water and spell it out in her hand and earlier in this young life Helen wouldn’t understand what she was doing. But one day, oh my goodness it hit, and Helen’s life just came to life and she wanted to learn everything that she could. This led to a lifelong inspiration of wanting to learn and to improve. She, Helen Keller, and Anne Sullivan were working on becoming their best.

Now it’s really interesting because you just know there were many moments of discouragement, but they didn’t give up. They kept at it. Now I would like to just pause. That’s a great story. There’s so many others who just keep trying, keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Becoming Your Best Resources:
I was just thinking as I’ve looked at this list of eight things that Becoming Your Best has some great resources for you that can be helpful. Let’s take number three for example, of working on your vision, annual goals, and pre-week planning. We have a free resource that we can provide you on how to do that. A format of how to write your vision, a place to put your annual goals, and some ideas on how to do pre-week planning. So if you just write to us at just let us know you listened to this podcast of eight things you can do when you feel discouraged or down and that you would like to have this resource on the best way to do a vision,, set your smart goals for the year and some ideas on pre-week planning and we’ll just send that out to you.

Well okay now I would like to finish up. I would like to recommend there are some things that you don’t do and here are a few things of what not to do.

Don’t Binge

First of all, be determined you won’t binge. And the definition of binge is a short period devoted to indulging in an activity of excess especially drinking alcohol, drugs, eating. (I’m just quoting out of the dictionary) watching movies, playing video games. Those I added. Surfing on your device, shopping maybe. Anyhow don’t binge! Just be determined you’re not going to participate in counterproductive things that don’t help because it doesn’t help, and you end up back where wherever you started, and you’ve wasted time and emotion and sometimes money.

Don’t dwell on the blue or discouraging feelings.

Get back to these eight things and say I am going to go to work. I’m just going to control and what I can control. I’m going to think positive thoughts. I’m going to look at my vision and annual goals and pre-week planning and I’m going to be focused. That gives your mind a place to go and I am going to get adequate sleep. You’re just going to find a way to do it and where it fits for you, consider praying. Certainly, meditating and make a list of things. Number six for what you’re grateful for. Get out and exercise and where you’re able to get out and nature that’s wonderful that’s just frosting on the cake. And last of all never give up.

Then that would be also what not to do the last which is don’t give up. Remember, the dark will all turn bright. There’ll be a better day. And sometimes it’s when you’re at your darkest that you’ll find your best that it precedes your greatest successes in life.

So, these are the thoughts that I’d like to leave you today I hope one has been helpful for you.

May these eight things that you can do when you feel discouraged or down be helpful to you and perhaps others that you could share these with that might have that feeling from time to time, where you can be a light to them.

This can be a place of discussion where you can talk about it and talk about the things you’ve learned and you’re doing and what are they doing so that you can invite them and encourage them to get to a better place. Thank you for being with us today remember every single day you’re making a difference. You can be a light. That’s what leadership is. You can help things get to a better place. This is Steve Shallenberger with Becoming Your Best.

Steve: Welcome to all of our Becoming Your Best podcast listeners wherever you might be in the world today. This is Steve Shallenberger, your host and I am so excited with our guest today. I’m going to tell you a little bit about her first and introduce her and then we’ll have the chance to hear from her. She is one of the founders of Hari Mari, a company that brings clever, color and superlative comfort together in a singular flip flop creating looks as unique as the people who wear them. Hari Mari is dedicated to providing a great pair of flip flops but more importantly they also are helping a lot of people around the world – incredibly brave children. They donate 1 percent of all of their sales to support kids battling pediatric cancer. Welcome Lila Stewart.

Lila: Steve thank you so much for having me what an honor to be visiting with you today. And I don’t know if I can live up to that intro but I’m going to certainly try.

Steve: You’re already doing it and we’re gonna have fun today. Our listeners are going to love our visit, I am quite sure.

Lila: Why I’m looking forward to it as well. Thank you again.

Steve: Okay. Good. Well let’s jump right into things and Lila tell us about your background and especially including any turning points in your life that’s had a big impact on you and really what you’re doing today.

Lila: Okay sure. So, Jeremy and I are both from Dallas, grew up here in Texas and I went to the University of Arizona. And all through college knew that I wanted to eventually get into the music business. So, I worked towards that throughout college as well as immediately after college working for a company called AEG Live and was really excited about the opportunity. And after a few years I’d worked my way up to a sales manager role and my boyfriend at the time, Jeremy, who is now my husband, out of the blue calls me and says well I have an opportunity to move to Jakarta, Indonesia, and will you come with me. And it was definitely a struggle. And you know trying to make a decision between continuing to work on my career which I’d worked so hard to get to and get to the place where I was or go follow my boyfriend and soon to be fiancée and husband to off on this adventure to a country I’d never been to and nor knew anything about. And so, it took me a little bit of time and persuasion, but I ultimately said yes, let’s go do this. And so, in 2007 I said goodbye to my job and career and took the plunge and moved to Jakarta. And I mention it because it eventually ties back in the story of our brand and our DNA and our philanthropy and in the name of the company but also because it was probably the most impactful move and life change that I’ve ever experienced, and it changed me for good. And we wouldn’t have Hari Mari if we hadn’t made that move. So, I can continue to elaborate about our time there and I’d love to. But that’s a little bit about my background where I’m from and so this was 2007 and I’m in Jakarta and we were there for about three years. Both of us working on different projects pertaining to helping kids, we’re trying to do a little bit good in Southeast Asia. So, Jeremy was working on, worked on excuse me, a documentary called Hungry Is the Tiger focusing on malnutrition and how it affects kids in Southeast Asia because as anyone from Southeast Asia would know unfortunately a lot of times they’re lacking in the education component of how to best feed their kids. So, for example in the villages you’ll see a lot of moms giving their children rice water runoff thinking it has the same nutrition value as milk. And the list goes on but so he enjoyed working on that component and I got on the board for the American Women’s Association and spent my time helping kids in orphanages in and around Jakarta and gosh we just had this crazy cool, interesting, unique, life changing experience and knew that when we moved back we wanted to do something to continue to help kids but do it here in the US.

Steve: Okay. Wow. That is fun and you’re never the same, are you?

Lila: Oh never. No.

Steve: We’ve had a similar experience of living in Europe for three years and then we’ve had the good fortune and privilege of working in both the African area, Rwanda, and other African countries and then also some fabulous people in the Philippines. And you’re just never the same, you’ll see different circumstances than maybe you’re used to, and it does change you. So great going. I know that it has blessed our lives and helped me see a different world.

Lila: Absolutely. It definitely helps put your priorities into perspective and it was an incredible opportunity that I’m thankful for to this day.

Steve: Yeah great. Okay. Well let’s talk then about this shift, this pivot. You move back to the United States in about 2010.

Lila: Yes.

Steve: And so you’re on the hunt for something to do or did you already have the idea?

Lila: No we didn’t. It’s kind of funny and a little bit backwards in that we had our philanthropy decided before we had the business. We knew we were so changed by our experience and knew that we wanted to continue to help kids and so we decided on on pediatric cancer it’s the most fatal disease of children in the US more so than all childhood diseases combined. So that was set that was that was firm, but we were trying to decide what was next and had a bunch of different ideas many of which I’m embarrassed to admit now but we ultimately decided on flip flops and for a bunch of different reasons. I mean really just the rise of casual wear and we’re basically on this ever ceasing trend towards casual wear that’s not going away in the days of suits are dwindling and with that obviously flip flops sales are on the rise and we had just noticed that there weren’t a lot of new entrants on the scene especially in the premium flip flops space and the market was really fragmented in terms of who was there. So, we thought okay well maybe if we can combine certain certain ideals and our philanthropy and come to market with something premium and give back we might might have something.

Steve: So why flip flops? Where did that idea come from?

Lila: Well we’re both pretty casual people and we went to a store here in Dallas and we’d worn out our flip flops that we’d worn for the three years we were in Indonesia and we noticed that literally Steve the exact same flip flops that were hanging on the walls when we left in 2007, we’re still hanging in 2010. Maybe different iterations of black and brown but it was the same brands producing the same status quo. So that’s how the idea began.

Steve: That’s wonderful. One of my mentors and really great friends Thomas Monson very early in my career gave some wonderful advice to me in three major piece of advice but one of those was to serve a large fields. Kind of think of your core straight your abilities your passion and what you may be capable of doing but then cultivate small ones and become the very best at what you do. Become like a badger in a hole so nobody can get you out of that hole.

Lila: I love that.

Steve: And that’s what you’re doing. You are amazing. You folks are transforming flip flops.

Lila: Well I don’t know about that but we’re certainly trying to carve out a little niche and be really good at what we do and see what comes of it.

Steve: Okay. So, what are some roadblocks that you encountered when creating Hari Mari and how did you overcome them? Because I’m sure a lot of our listeners and especially in different parts of the world but certainly in the United States anybody creating a new idea or trying to launch an idea is going to encounter maybe some of the same thing. So, what were some of the roadblocks, challenges you encountered and how did you overcome them?

Lila: Gosh where do I began.

Steve: I know it’s such a big question.

Lila: More than anyone would imagine. There were many everything from you know quality control to finding talent here in Dallas and not that Dallas doesn’t have amazing talent because it does. But we were such an anomaly. We still are. We’re the only national flip flop brand that isn’t headquartered in California. When we first got started people thought we were nuts. So, like what are you doing. You’re starting flip flops. You have a new mortgage and a baby on the way and you’re not in California. What are you doing? For us it was just putting our head down and not letting any of the naysayers affect our vision and just plowing through it and really just taking the hits as they came and just continuing to grin and bear it. There’s nothing else you can do. You just can’t give up. And so, we had so many I can dive into specifics and if you’d like as there were so many but really ultimately all it was was not allowing it to deflate you or defeat you or bring you down. You just have to keep trucking.

Steve: Yeah. So how did you get started, Lila? Did you start with a few brands or models or how did you really jump into the marketplace?

Lila: So we knew our favorite brand. We knew that it had been a long time since any kind of updates have been made to it. So, what we did was we went and purchased probably 10 different pairs and literally started cutting them up and seeing what what was on the inside what wasn’t on the inside and really focusing on what we liked what we didn’t like about all these products. And then from there we had our kind of vision about what we thought would work but then we also had scheduled focus groups. So, talking of all ages, all walks of life, all backgrounds saying what do you like what do you not like about flip flops and as ridiculous as that might sound it was so incredibly helpful because we really got to kind of tap into kind of mainstream thoughts about the market and products specifically behind it. So that was hugely helpful. And from that point we kind of laugh to this day. Jeremy drew like crayon sketches of our well what we wanted everything to look like and literally sent that to the factory and that’s how we got started I mean just no idea what we were doing but just kind of figuring it out and doing our best day to day.

Lila: Well good for you and Lila how did you connect with customers? How did you get the word out?

Steve: That was definitely a challenge and it still is. I mean we’re still is and almost seven-year-old brand that’s still something that we struggle with. We spent a lot of time on PR internally the day we launched. We were fortunate enough to have Thrillist feature us. We did over 100 events like in here in Dallas, grassroots events getting the name out gosh talking to as many people as we could at those events whether they made a purchase or whether they didn’t really just trying to tell them about Hari Mari. But it’s tough because hiring a PR firm especially as a new company can be really expensive. So, we decided to focus on it internally. But I was fortunate enough to get some great press hits and then spent a lot of capital but also time on the website to make it hopefully enjoyable and you know make us appear bigger than we were because we were new. But really, I think the events at the end of the day doing so many in such a short period of time had a lot to do with that.

Steve: Okay. Good for you and how was it in the early years versus how is it now?

Lila: Well we’re fortunate enough now that we have an amazing amazing team and we couldn’t do it without them. It’s just different now and then when we started it was really just my husband and I and my younger brother at the time was helping us, so we still are learning every day and trying to become better at what we do. But we’d never worked in retail we’d never been in manufacturing. This was like a whole new world for us. So not knowing having a clue what we’re doing back then I feel like we know a little bit more even though we’re still figuring it out. So that’s a little bit of the difference just having confidence and the experience that we’ve had over the years and you know the confidence of our vision for Hari Mari. But I think a lot of the difference is just having a great team.

Steve: Okay. Yeah, that really makes a difference doesn’t it.

Lila: It does.

Steve: Getting others involved. Would you mind sharing with our listeners some of your key business philosophies. What are some of the important things for your business that contribute to success?

Lila: Well I think Jeremy and I would probably be aligned in this and not it’s pretty simple and threefold and that one work hard, two stay humble and three take care of your team. And then I also think it’s important to not listen to the naysayers not listen to the negativity and run your own race.

Steve: Okay good. Lila and I had the opportunity before we started today to talk a little about Becoming Your Best and thank you for your comments by the way.

Lila: Such a great book. I loved it, I really did.

Steve: And I could sense as we talked before and even now that these 12 principles of highly successful leaders are certain things certainly things, you’re working on of being true to character, honesty and integrity, people can depend upon you. And then you set a vision and no doubt you have annual goals for 2019. You’re not just aimlessly diving in right.

Lila: Right. We certainly didn’t have those in the beginning. We we definitely dived in not gotten any better and ordered a crazy number of flip flops when we first started because we didn’t know any better. But yes, fortunately we now have goals and I’m a big believer in that and a vision board which I know you also speak about in your book and just really focusing on those goals to make them happen.

Steve: Yeah. And then the other thing that Lila has been talking about is how important the team is and building a winning culture where people know well for example, I can tell in visiting with Lila that they live the golden rule.

Lila: Well we try.

Steve: Well you work on it.

Lila: Yeah, it’s a work in progress and we’re certainly we’re human and know better than anybody else. But I think you learn the more the longer we are in business the more you do learn and you’re so right in your book that you have to you’ve got to strive for that because what kind of an example are you setting if you don’t to your team. But in addition to that you want them to do the same and set that example for the next people that come in. So, it’s really important to lay that foundation. But it’s also hard in hiring especially as a new company and a new brand. You are sometimes you know it’s tough because you’re still learning how to hire and what to look for and then how to manage and sometimes you get some someone that isn’t living up to it and you don’t see it as quick as you should or something you may have missed in the interview. All of which you learn from. But yeah, it’s it’s hard managing people’s hard but the team is so crucial to everything.

Steve: Indeed it is, and I can sense this that you’re building a high trust with your people or at least working to build a high trust and then you start unleashing a team which creates this innovation and it’s no longer just Jeremy and Lila. Now you have a group that’s really unleashing on this and these are the things that kind of help you get to the top.

Lila: Yeah exactly. When we first started it was funny because our combined philosophy was if you want something to get right, you going to do it yourself. And my goodness, that’s changed with this amazing team that we are now surrounded by. Because it’s no longer us doing everything. We’ve got a great team to do it. And trusting them to do it. And they have the best intention in doing it. And just like us they’re going to make mistakes. But that’s a part of learning, right?

Steve: Indeed. Yes, it is. I’d be interested you mentioned earlier Lila about the 1 percent of all sales or a portion of what you do goes to pediatric cancer. You talked about how deadly it is. Where did the inspiration come to do this type of humanitarian good with part of your enterprise?

Lila: Well actually living in Indonesia we were changed we moved back in our priorities had been readjusted and we thought about continuing to try and help Indonesians. But once I was actually pregnant with our first daughter at the time and she’s a healthy little girl and we learned a lot about pediatric cancer and the statistics behind it and it’s pretty mind boggling to look at it. One in every 400 children die from cancer and it’s more fatal than all childhood diseases combined and it’s just crazy that with modern medicine and you know the amount of funds that our healthcare has access to it’s just it shouldn’t be that way. So, we felt that there was a need and we could do it here in the US and be transparent about it but be hands on with it. We go to our partner hospitals three four five times a year and do flip flop drops and give flip flops to the kids there that are being are being treated there for pediatric Cancer and it’s just something that not everyone may care about or be passionate about, but we love it. And it’s really special for us to be able to do it. And you know it really is a part of Hari Mari’s DNA and it’s exciting to think that as we grow, we’ll be able to increase our flops fighting cancer donations and we just love it but are grateful in doing it. We’re thankful for it. We meet these kids at these hospitals and that’s just heartbreaking. But I just feel very fortunate that we’re that we’re able to do it and fortunate to our customers that really make it happen.

Steve: Well it makes what you do a lot more meaningful doesn’t it?

Lila: It absolutely does. Absolutely.

Steve: Yeah great going. That’s a not only a great example but it is so inspirational. I mean if we can leave the world better than when we found it maybe when it’s all said and done besides family and friends that’s what it’s about.

Lila: Yeah agreed.

Steve: Yeah. Good going. Okay well let’s finish up as we go towards the end of hitting a few business issues that might be common for a lot of folks and maybe some could learn from things that you’re going through and certainly consumption levels continue to increase in our modern-day society. There’s more products more choices. And it is difficult for brands to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. So how have you done that at Hari Mari? What steps do you take to try to stand out among your competitors?

Lila: Well that’s such a great question because when I’m in meetings with our buyers Nordstrom or Zappos or whomever it may be in the beginning that was the very first question, they would ask me. Oh another flip flop brand. Great. Well have you differentiated yourself. And so, we set out from the very beginning to really focus on focus on comfort, minimal break-in periods, quality and premium materials and sourcing materials that are a lot nicer and more elevated than what you’d see on the market. But one thing that was so pivotal and that came out of our focus groups before we launched was people complaining about the toe piece which is the post that goes in between your first and second toe. And so, because of that feedback we went and designed and filed patent for our memory foam toe piece. And so, we we received it recently and it really does set ourselves apart. It helps with break-ins and so we thought in a world of flip flops that are uncomfortable and break and are bad for the environment because they’re plastic and rubber. We thought we would focus on using premium materials, make them last longer, minimal break-in periods and really kind of set ourselves apart in that regard.

Steve: Well how fun. I mean you are making flip flops exciting.

Lila: I don’t know everyone would agree with you but…

Steve: I mean I can’t wait to go out I can’t wait to get out buy my Hari Mari flip flops.

Lila: Steve you’re gonna be getting a pair in the mail here pretty soon.

Steve: All right. But I mean stay posted everybody we’re not done. Oh, that’s great. Now you’re just about to launch three lines of closed toed shoes. Can you tell us a little about what that means for you and your company?

Lila: Yes, we’re really excited about it. It’s something we’ve been thinking about for years and the prototypes that we’ve designed have been terrible, but we were finally able to push something through the finish line. We’ve got three lines coming out for men we’re going to start with men’s, women’s next year. It means a lot for Hari Mari. First our customers have been asking for it which is incredible. So to be able to produce something and know that guys are going be in our product hopefully year around is super cool but also it’s tough having a seasonal business and it’s been a real challenge over the years because you know when it’s warm you know Hari Mari is doing great but once it gets cold people aren’t buying flip flops and to run a business that way is really challenging. So, it’s gonna be great to have year round product and be more of a year round company person is a seasonal line. It’s a big step even though it’s still footwear it’s still a big step to go from flip flops to shoes. The response has been great so far. We took it to trade shows and kind of tested the waters and so many of our accounts have purchased it Zappos and Nordstrom and we’re so grateful for that but time will talk as we launch here in about two weeks.

Steve: Oh my goodness. Well good luck on your new product line.

Lila: Thank you. Thank you.

Steve: Okay. So what does the future hold for you and Hari Mari?

Lila: Oh goodness Steve I don’t know, we have a long way to go. I love it. We get this question a lot. If we have interest in exiting or selling and I just couldn’t imagine not doing it because we love it so much but I do think that you know our goals are to become a top of mind flip flop brand and be known for somebody that to everyone hopefully you know someone that makes a really good flip flop and gives back along the way and so I hope we can continue to do that and become more of a not necessarily a household name but just become better known.

Steve: Well good well on one of our trips a few years ago to Hawaii I bought a pair of flip flops and that’s what I use here around the house. Just casually but they are what you’ve described. And so, I am excited for some new flip flops.

Lila: Well, that’s awesome. Well we decided to send you some and see what you think.

Steve: I’m going to make some as gifts to others too, so I’ll test them. But we’ll will become one of your customers so good go.

Lila: Well we appreciate that. Thank you.

Steve: You bet. Now any final tips that you would like to leave with our listeners today?

Lila: Gosh that’s a loaded question for us. I think what’s some lessons we learned over the years and you do talk about this in your book but some being repetitive in that regard and isn’t anything unique to Hari Mari I’m kind of ripping off your book here Steve, but I think gratitude is hugely important. I think the more we we lead and live with gratitude in what we do the better off we are as a company.

Steve: Indeed this has been fun today. So excited to hear about the things that you’re doing, the differences that you’re working on in the marketplace, the excellence that you’re working on you’re working to create, the Becoming Your Best individually and as an organization. And so, I just want to thank you. Good going.

Lila: Oh I so appreciate your time and your interest in visiting and your kind words and I appreciate the platform to be able to connect with your listeners. So, thank you, Steve.

Steve: You bet. Now how can people find out about what you’re doing and check out your products?

Lila: Hari Mari dot com. H A R I M A R I dot com.

Steve: Okay. Well there you have it folks this has been a lot of fun today. Thank you, Lila, for being a part of this show today. What a great and productive visit this has been. We wish you all the best as you’re making a difference in the world. So, go get them.

Lila: Awesome. Thanks Steve.

Steve: All right. To all of our listeners never forget you too are and can continue to make a difference every single day of your life. This is Steve Shallenberger with Becoming Your Best global leadership, wishing you a great day.O

Steve: Welcome to all our Becoming Your Best podcast listeners, wherever you might be in the world today. This is your host Steve Shallenberger and I am excited for our guest today. He’s a lifelong entrepreneur, bestselling author and CEO of the online business education company, Morrissey. He is a high school dropout and an MBA graduate of Canada’s elite Queen’s School of Business and is known for his high-value driven approach to business. Danny’s here to discuss his newest book, Leveraged Learning: How the Disruption of Education Helps Lifelong Learners and Experts with Something to Teach. So, welcome, Danny Iny.

Danny: Steve, thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited to be here.

Steve: Oh good. Well this is going to be a terrific subject for our listeners. One of the 12 principles of highly successful leaders is to apply the power of knowledge. Well you simply cannot apply something that you don’t have in the first place and so that’s really what this podcast is all about is how do we really gain the knowledge that’s necessary to be successful in a rapidly changing world. And Danny really has a very interesting perspective on this. And before we get going, I’ll give you a little bit more information about Danny’s background. Like most online entrepreneurs, Danny started with an idea and a message to share but no idea how to really do it. And like many of us, he made several wrong turns, which he calls plot twists. And before really understanding the audience first paradigm and how to apply it to online businesses, he then really got his act totally together and zeroed in and the results are history. So, Danny tell us about your background, including any turning points in your life that have had a significant impact on you and what you’re doing and really your story.

Danny: Sure. So, I wouldn’t say I’ve got my act totally together. I think that’s always a work in progress. But you know I’m getting there. I’d like to say I’ve been an entrepreneur for longer than my adult life. I quit school when I was 15 to start my first business and I’ve been an entrepreneur ever since. Mostly, ironically, in the field of education. I’ve always had a huge amount of respect and appreciation for the importance and value of education. I’ve just also been very frustrated with how poorly I think it’s done in most formal contexts but I’ve been through a whole bunch of different business ideas, tried a whole bunch of different things, and you know settled on the direction that I’m working in, which I have been focused on for the last seven or eight years where the focus has been very much on business education delivered online. So, working with online entrepreneurs, experts, professionals who have knowledge and expertise that’s valuable for others and teaching them how to reach more people, how to package and leverage that expertise to make more of an impact and more of an income in the process.

Steve: And what led you to this experience in terms of having the perspective you do regarding education?

Danny: So I’ll share two experiences that I had. The first was when I dropped out of high school at the age of 15. I was a kid who historically had been a good student had done well in school and you know, I become a teenager and find myself just unbelievably bored. And so, I started cutting classes. And like many entrepreneurs, I’m not someone who does anything halfway. So, the first trimester or whatever it was of that year I think I missed one hundred and fifty-two classes and the number just kept on rising. And after about a year and a half of this, I just took a step back and said, okay wait this is silly. Like what am I going to do for the next four years? Just cut classes and go to the gym and watch MTV? Like that’s not a good use of time. So, I’m going to make it official I’m going to quit, and I’ll do something productive I’ll start a business. And the prevailing narrative around me was, Danny that’s such a bad idea you’re throwing your life away, right? And there’s this implicit assumption of permanence to the decision, right? It’s not you’re making a wrong move that might set you back a year or two, you’re throwing your life away. This is the end. And that never seemed to make sense to me because in a worst-case scenario you can go back to school, right? And a lot of environments and contexts agree with that. Most colleges in Canada and I believe in the US as well, they have what’s called a mature student program where if you’ve been out of school for at least five years you can join through that program without having high school diploma and you just add 18 credits to your degree. So, there are ways of, like if this proves to have been the absolute worst move, I could have made, I could recover from it. Yet people seem to think okay this is just this is the end. You know you’re finished. So, it did work out and I think it was a great choice and a great experience for me. I’m not saying everyone should drop out of high school context notwithstanding, but fast forward 10 years and I was at another educational crossroads in my life, a business that I had worked on building had kind of fallen apart. I was feeling a little lost a little adrift. I was thinking well what should I do next. Maybe I need some more traditional structure a more traditional safety net maybe I should go back to school and get an MBA. And that ended up being a terrible move. I did go and get that MBA, it ended up costing a lot of money and taking a lot of time and being not very valuable at all. And the time and money that I spent on that MBA that everyone was like, that’s great, this is the path to success, you’re doing a great job. I can never get that time or that money back. And that just strange contrast, between the wrong move that everyone seems to think actually not having a lot of permanent consequences and then the supposed right move having a lot of permanent consequences, set me on this path to investigate well what’s going on. Why are our assumptions and why is the world of education just so messed up and that led to the better part of a decade of researching the world of education. And over the last year and a half or so doing very in-depth research on why are things the way they are. Why is it as broken as it is? Where are things going? What do we need to do to adapt? And that’s what became my book Leveraged Learning, which is essentially half about what is broken in the world of education, how the world of education is changing, and half about what we need to do in order to thrive in the world that is emerging.

Steve: Well, I have so many questions to ask. One of those questions is what did your parents say? I’m out of school. I’m leaving, I’m going to start a company.

Danny: Well, my dad was freaking out as I imagine many parents would, And I actually give him a lot of credit for allowing me to do this even though he was very concerned. My mom was much more on board with the idea. She had not had a great experience in high school herself and her perspective, just like just like I kind of articulated, was that worst comes to worst you can go back to school and as long as I’m doing something productive there should be an upside from it.

Steve: Right, okay. Good. Well let’s just talk about this whole perspective of where you see education is going. Tell us about your research and why are education and the job market headed for massive disruption?

Danny: Well we essentially live in a world where the pace of change is accelerating, right? Things are changing but they’re changing faster and faster and faster every day. And based on where we are right now there’s a great quote by Larry Summers who’s the dean of Harvard, or he was, and his quote says that everything you learn in college is going to be basically obsolete in five or 10 years. That’s how quickly things are changing and that’s driving one of the big shifts we’re seeing in education from a lot of learning and education at the start of a career on a kind of just in case basis. You know I’m going to learn all this just in case I need it to less education at the start but more ongoing through a career just in time when you need it. Which is how you know you’re getting the stuff that is actually current and relevant and important to what you’re trying to do. So that’s one of the big shifts that we’re seeing and then fundamentally what we need to adapt to as learners, as students, as professionals, is how do we prepare ourselves for a world that we don’t know what it’s going to look like? And the answer is that we don’t focus on technical skills or job skills exclusively. I mean you still need those of course, but you also need to focus on what makes someone valuable irrespective of the specific field that they’re in. And that’s where you look at things like work ethic, like resourcefulness, like reliability, like initiative, like the ability to work well with their peers and ask good questions and think critically and be curious. And those are the things that actually set us up for long term success. And so those are the things that education has to turn its attention to more and more but is not doing a very good job of currently.

Steve: Okay, well that’s a that’s a really very interesting perspective of the things that are taking place and really spot on. I’m just curious, how about the academic community, what do they have to say about your book?

Danny: Well it’s been it’s been really interesting. So, the reception of my book has been almost unanimously positive, just about everyone who reads it is like this is great, I’m loving it. There’s a dividing line, if you’ve kind of been a career academic for at least a couple of years and if you have then you hate it because my book is very, very critical of the academic establishment. We’re looking at a context that sucks so much money out of the American and global economy delivering so little back and essentially justifies it by saying well college isn’t really for being successful in life. It’s about making you well-rounded or some other euphemism for basically saying we don’t need to be accountable for delivering anything that our students actually think that we’re supposed to be delivering. And so, you know understandably some academics haven’t loved it, but I was actually surprised at how many academics have said actually this totally tracks with my experience of what I’ve seen and I’m on board with it. So, all in all the response has been very positive. But academics are probably the last ones who are going to like it.

Steve: And there is no doubt that the academic world including MBA programs and other graduate degrees are rapidly evolving and pivoting, creating distance learning how to have greater outreach. So, you’re right I mean this whole educational world is really in a world of change.

Danny: Absolutely.

Steve: Well good. Let’s just think about this a little bit more then, let’s take our listeners or let’s take the children of our listeners, how do we prepare the students for the future? Especially when we don’t know what the future holds for jobs or technologies or even problems.

Danny: Well there’s a really interesting thought experiment, right? We see all these headlines in the news about how the hottest jobs of today didn’t exist 15 years ago. We need to train our kids today for jobs that won’t exist until tomorrow. All that kind of stuff. So, how do you prepare someone for such a rapidly changing and uncertain environment. The automatic response I see in the media a lot as well we’ve got to train everyone to be data scientists. I’m like, no I don’t think so. First of all because most of the economy is not data scientists. And second because if we don’t know how the world is evolving why would the hottest jobs today continue to be the hottest jobs tomorrow, right? Things are continuing to change. What we actually lead us to prepare people yes to pursue their passion, yes to develop great technical skills, but also to be people who are generally valuable in organizations because they are resourceful and dedicated and adaptable. And those are the things that we need to train people and those are the things that people need to take ownership of their experience in order to become. You know for the children of people who are listening to this, right, the question that I can asked a lot is, well are you saying I shouldn’t send my kid to college? And I wish I had a cut and dry answer. I could just say absolutely yes or absolutely no to everyone. But of course, you know life is not that simple for a nation of hundreds of millions of people. But what I can say to every person who’s thinking about should I go to college or should I not. Is that they’re asking the second question without having asked the first, right? Before you ask, should I go to college, you need to answer the question well what would you want to do after college, right? After this educational episode has passed, where do you want it to take you in life? Do you know the career? Do you know the industry? Do you know the kind of work? Do you know the trajectory? And if the answer is no, don’t go to college hoping you’ll figure it out and hoping that your experience will magically make it happen. Take the time to figure it out so then you can figure out whether college is the best path into that trajectory.

Steve: Okay. Yeah. That’s really a good answer because there are certain disciplines, accounting or law or engineering, where that’s really the fast track. I mean it’s this intense focus. And so there really is probably room also for a hybrid of what you’re talking about and correct me if I’m wrong, Danny, you’re really saying hold it, we need to develop the skills that helps us get the job done in a changing world.

Danny: That’s absolutely right. And you know in the context you just mentioned you know engineering, law, medicine, etc., it’s not that education is the fast track education, formal education, college etc., it’s the only track, right? You can’t be a surgeon who didn’t go to medical school. There is no other path than medical school. And so, if you know that you want to be a surgeon and you know that’s the life you’re going to enjoy by all means go to medical school. But it would be such a terrible idea to spend the years and tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars on medical school and then discover this is not what I want.

Steve: Yeah right. Absolutely. Good point. Well I like that, I like what you’re saying. It’s sure nice to know what you’re going to end up doing ahead of time so that you can really find the best way to gain the knowledge so that you can be the best at what you do.

Danny: Absolutely and it’s easy to figure these things out, right? If you have hypotheses, if you have these ideas of, I might like this career, I might like that career, take a bunch of people who work in those careers out for coffee. Ask where it’s actually like. Find some people who are leaders in that space and tell them you know I really want to learn about your industry, I would love to work with you and work for you for free for three months or six months in exchange. All I want is 30 minutes of your time once a month to ask you questions about what I’m seeing in how this industry works. It’s not that hard to get someone to say yeah, I’ll take you up on that offer. And depending on the industry and depending on the trajectory that might bypass college for you altogether. But even if it doesn’t, you’ll have the clarity that this is what you want to do if it’s what you actually are enjoying. And I often hear people say well what do you mean work for free. And I’ll say, well isn’t that better than you paying somebody else which is what happens in college, right? So, get that clarity. It’s so worth doing that.

Steve: Oh that’s good. Yeah because I had an early mentor that said whatever you choose to do ultimately, be determined you’ll be among the very best in that profession to make a difference. And it’s really what you’re saying you’re really saying listen look out there, keep your eyes open, go hang out with people of the best, people that are in it and then decide where you’re heading and then find the best way to get there. And it could be a whole combination of these things. But don’t just go along the typical educational path perhaps. Is that what we’re saying?

Danny: Don’t see the typical educational path as a path that will just magically make everything be okay. Right because that was the case 30 years ago, 50 years ago because most people at the time didn’t go to college. And so, you coming out of college, applying for a job your resume is saying Bachelor of whatever, Master of whatever, it set you apart from everybody else because everybody else didn’t have that. But these days college has become pretty ubiquitous. Right, most people who are applying for the job you’re applying for will have that. So, the college degree doesn’t differentiate you anymore. So, it’s not going to create the returns that it used to create. It’s not the guaranteed path to success that it used to be.

Steve: Ok. Well this has been a great discussion. What do you think Danny is the future of learning? What does it look like?

Danny: I think it’s a lot more self-directed. I think it’s a lot more experiential. You know we’ve lived for the last hundred years or so in this era of standardization, right? Everyone goes through the same process. Everyone learns the same things. Everyone has the same knowledge, it’s like the McDonald’s of education. And that’s important with some fundamentals. Everyone needs to know how to how to read. Everyone needs to know how to write. Everyone needs to know how to do basic math. Everyone needs to know you know basic science and so on so forth. But beyond that we’re looking at an era where I think a lot of people are going to probably develop a deeper knowledge but in things that they’re actually interested in because we are moving towards an era of much greater specialization as opposed to standardization. And that’s going to happen on a much more just in time basis allowing people to go a lot deeper in just the things that are most interesting and relevant to them.

Steve: Ok. And perhaps among these and we’ve talked about these skills accounting, medicine, law, whatever it might be. Very specific ones. And we’ll see how that all changes in the future, what’s available to people and how it plays out. But my guess as I look around at individuals that are highly successful there’s also a way of thinking. And it is having an idea, whatever that looks like, and knowing how to make that idea a reality and perhaps this is the greatest type of learning that somebody can have.

Danny: Well I’ll add a nuance because between when you have an idea and when you know how to make it a reality, there’s always going to be a period of time when you don’t yet know how to make it a reality and what keeps you moving forward to create that reality to figure it out is the belief that you can. The belief that you will, right? I see this imagined reality and I don’t know how to make it real yet, but I know that I can figure it out. And that belief in the figure-out ability of things is I think a key driver. There’s a great line out of Randy Pausch’s book, The Last Lecture, he says the brick walls in the road in front of you, they’re not there to keep you out. They’re there to keep everyone else out and give you a chance to show how much you want it. And so adopting that mindset is the precursor to then figuring out how to make things work and getting to where you want to go.

Steve: Well that’s a great summary of really a lot of what we’ve been talking about today and I love that you’re pushing people to think that way. Great going.

Danny: Thank you.

Steve: Well I am always stunned that the time is up and the time’s up. So, any final tips you’d like to leave with our listeners today, Danny?

Danny: Just keep on keeping on. Be curious and look for ways that you can deepen your understanding, get stronger, get better, get faster. Because ultimately that’s how we win.

Steve: Yeah. That’s great advice. Well how can people find out about what you’re doing? And how can they find your book and learn a little bit more?

Danny: Sure so the book is called Leveraged Learning. You can find it wherever good books are sold which is these days you know the occasional brick and mortar bookstore and mostly Amazon. Or you could just find it online at We’ve actually made the whole book available for free because I don’t make money selling books. I run a business that delivers education. I just think a trillion and a half dollars of college debts leading to very little by way of real outcomes for people is too much and it’s not right. And so, I want this book to get to as many of the people who need to see it as possible so

Steve: Well thank you, Danny, for being part of the show today. Really appreciate this whole stimulation of thinking about what our possibilities are and how to get there and how to use education in the right way so that it’s aligned with a vision that we have and causing us to think about that part first so that there’s a real purpose and cause of what we’re doing. You’re making a difference, so we wish you all the best.

Danny: Thank you very much. Thank you for having me. And thank you to everyone who’s been listening.

Steve: It’s been a delight to all of our listeners, never forget that as you become your best you are a light to everybody else around you. You’re making a difference. This is Steve Shallenberger with Becoming Your Best, wishing you a great day.

Steve: Welcome to our Becoming Your Best podcast, listeners, wherever you might be in the world today. This is Steve Shallenberger, your host, with Becoming Your Best global leadership and we have a very talented guest today. He brings a whole new perspective to things and I think this will be a terrific benefit to push and stimulate and pull at our thinking about the future. He is an angel investor, startup advisor, and serial entrepreneur. He’s really focused on building a better future through innovation and entrepreneurship. Welcome, Matt Ward.

Matt: Hey thanks for having me today, Steve.

Steve: You bet. And before we get started, I’d like to tell you a little bit more about Matt. Matt has scaled an eight-thousand-dollar investment into a seven-figure exit in 12 months. He’s the author of Gods of the Valley: How Today’s Tech Giants Monopolize the Future. Matt you’d be interested to know I ordered that last week and I was hoping it would have gotten here before our visit but we’re going to start learning about it today and as soon as it arrives, I can’t wait to tear into it.

Matt: You should have told me I would have sent you a free copy.

Steve: Oh dang, but that’s okay. Anything to help the business, right?

Matt: Absolutely.

Steve: Matt has spent the last four years traveling the world living in South East Asia, South America. How’s your Espanol?

Matt: It was, it was OK for a while. I hadn’t done any Spanish since high school, so that was quite something getting around.

Steve: Okay. Europe and South Africa, while he is building his businesses. So, Matt let’s just jump right into this today. Tell us about your background and including any turning points in your life that’s had a significant impact on you. Just love to hear more about you.

Matt: Yeah absolutely my background was strong in math and science, so I’ll study mechanical engineering, right? I got into that and found out quickly that I loved doing it but while working for employers I, I hated that there was no way it was going to be employed by someone. I just merely unemployable, I’m much too, I want to have my hands on the wheel and be doing things and not doing things that don’t matter and doing new things everyday type deal. So, I got into entrepreneurship and started looking into start-ups. I obviously like every young and fanciful person thought oh I’ll be the next Mark Zuckerberg and start a new Facebook. I got into the crazy world of that type of social media startup and ultimately while that obviously never led anywhere it led me to discover more of a solo-preneurship, a self-funded bootstrapped business type route. From that, I played my way through e-commerce, learned the ins and outs while failing along the way and I got into crowdfunding. I built the top crowdfunding podcast, Art of the Kickstart, and this was when Kickstarter, Indiegogo, this was five-six years ago, and it went incredibly well. Other than the fact that if people want you to help them raise money, they don’t have jack to pay you with. So, there was no business there. So, I was the poor broke college kid with nothing to do. I decided to start my own products business and while I was doing this I was living in Southeast Asia, as you said. It was a great experience, but I decided to start the products business. I moved to China I worked with a factory there and found out quickly, when you have a design for something, in this case, it was a laptop case I designed to open up into a standing desk, it takes you three to four weeks to get a prototype. I’m kind of an impatient person. You can tell I talk a little fast. I also run a little fast and figured well I’ve got this extra time. I know folks who are just manufacturing products in China and they’re importing them to the US they’re slapping a brand on it and they’re selling and they’re selling well on Amazon. If these guys can do it, I can probably figure it out as well. I start doing that I get some samples. One thing leads to another, it takes off. It starts to accelerate. It starts to consume all of my time I have to stop doing everything else just to focus on this. And that was the that was the 8K investment. I was working on scaling the business up. I started a podcast around that time because A. I like podcasts and B. I figured everyone else is trying to tell me all of these things and then sell me a course. Maybe if I just tell people what I’m doing that’ll go well. It went incredibly well I was able to use the podcast to fund my lifestyle. I would share tools tips that I used in my business and I would get small commissions from that. So, I was able to reinvest 100 percent of the actual e-commerce business into, into growth. I scaled that up. It was never a passion thing it was let’s sell stuff let’s make a little bit of money, so I can focus on shit that actually matters. Sorry for swearing I’m not sure if that’s if that’s okay on the on the podcast I’ll try to I’ll try to hold back a little bit.

Steve: All right. Yeah, good idea.

Matt: We’ll just we’ll just bloop that one out with a nice fun a nice fun one but.

Steve: We’ll roll with it but we’re good. There you go.

Matt: Yeah, I wanted to I wanted to have the time to focus on things that mattered have the energy, have the funding and resources. So, after selling the business I got into much more working with startups both as an investor on a smaller scale side and then also working as essentially an advisor or consultant helping companies looking at growth, marketing, network effects, how they can take advantage of marketplaces and scale their businesses faster. I’ve been doing that for a while and I still do that I still run a podcast, the Syndicate, which is focused on early stage angel investing, but I really found that I think the biggest problem that humanity has is short term focus. There’s much too much of I want this, and I want it now. The stock market is ticking every single day. There have been polls for Fortune Five, it was either Fortune 500 or Fortune 100 CEOs, I can’t remember which, basically saying something to the effect of would you choose to have better numbers now or invest in something that would guarantee long term growth 5 10 years from now and 60 to 80 percent, I can’t remember the exact figure which makes the story sound a little funny but the numbers are close enough to very large majorities that it’s not important. 60 to 80 percent said we would prefer the short-term gains now because that’s how they’re incentivized, and I think in a lot of ways that’s that’s the problems that we have today. We don’t think about the long-term problems of climate change. We don’t think about the long-term problems of social media and the extremization of our society. We don’t think about a lot of these things because we’re incentivized for the here and now. So, I’m trying to change that with my newest, largest and most ambitious project, its long-form podcast, a bit like Ted, where I get those same caliber of individuals on the top A.I. guys, quantum researcher, space guys, you name it. The technologies that are transforming the world and we just have long in-depth conversations, so we can find out a little bit more about what they’re doing, where the world’s headed, what the big problems are and how we can all try to solve them.

Steve: Wow OK. That’s a great background. Thanks so much and we’re just going to have fun talking about this stuff today especially you know long term what does that really mean and how do we fit our lives into both being highly successful today but also sustaining that over a long period of time. That’s really what becoming your best is all about, it’s not just becoming your best, it is a moving target as we continue to improve and improve. And realize that whatever we did yesterday, is probably going to be somewhat insufficient for tomorrow because the world is changing so quickly.

Matt: Absolutely the world is changing faster than it ever has. We just have so many, in the past, there would be one maybe two technologies that were really driving change. We had phones that were invented. We had automobiles that were invented. We had lots of things that led to massive societal changes over long periods of time. Today with the combination or the intersection of A.I., the research and advancements that’s happening there with machine learning and neural nets. What’s happening now with the genomic side of things in biotech. Looking at the quite literally the code of life and being able to not only understand or start to understand that but also edit that. And then advances that are happening in terms of bringing all of those costs down. If you kind of look at the technologies that are happening today, it’s not one, two, three things, it’s five 10 different exponential technologies that are all kind of hitting their stride at the same point. That means 13 years ago the iPhone was created before that people used their cell phones to call and to text message each other essentially and to download those funny little ringtones. Today that’s completely different. Can you imagine 13 years from now, when that acceleration is even greater than it was over the past 13 years? And it’s kind of it kind of makes you think a little bit.

Steve: Yeah it does. Well, let’s dive in from some different dimensions today and really drill in on some of these things that you’re talking about. And if you don’t mind Matt I’d like to start with your book, Gods of the Valley: How Today’s Tech Giants Monopolize the Future, what’s that about and give us a good rundown and how does that impact people.

Matt: Yeah, I gotta say I feel I feel a little terrible that you bought it because I’m going to actually give it away for free to any listeners that want to check it out. But if you’ve got a you guys can grab it. Basically, where the where the book came from and it’s really more like an industry-specific report, what it came from was the idea of a report card and I was thinking about the big companies the gafa companies Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple. These are the companies that are dominating more and more of our lives. But what would happen if we wanted to give these companies a scorecard? How would we think about how they’re doing today or where they’re headed in the future? So, what the book is, is there’s a chapter dedicated to each of these, each of these gods so to speak and for people that realize yes Amazon’s not actually in the valley, but the gods of the valley sound quite cool and it’s close enough right. But basically, looking at these companies looking at how businesses are performing and more importantly where they’re headed in the future. So, Google, sixty-five percent of their business is just based off of their generic search advertising. Something I can’t remember off the top of my head, 80 85 percent is overall advertising. They have an enormous business that’s driven off of ads. What happens as we start to have more and more voice-based technology and other types of interfaces, does that change? I know, I don’t know about you Steve but if I if I was going to have an Amazon Alexa or Google in my home which I’m not going to, I wouldn’t want to say hey what’s out what’s the weather like tomorrow. And for it to say oh you can buy a pair of shoes here for seventeen ninety-nine or a winter jacket you might need for tomorrow because it’s going to be a little cold seventeen ninety-nine. I want the information I don’t want some rubbish ad being added at the beginning of its. So, I personally predict that a lot of that search revenue will start to decrease as we change the way that we interact with technology. Amazon, Amazon’s expanding and taking over more and more of industry. You can see with not just the growth of their e-commerce side of things but what they’re doing now with buying Whole Foods. Amazon buys one of the largest grocery stores in the U.S. for 13 billion dollars. Their biggest acquisition ever and one of the largest acquisitions ever. And the public market caps of the top three supermarket chains in the US drops by 13 billion dollars. It’s like they subsidize the purchase for Bezos. So basically, the book looks at what happens in the future as these companies become stronger more powerful which companies do they acquire, what areas did they get into and who ultimately comes out ahead. I think it’s important for entrepreneurs. I think it’s important for investors. I think it’s important for anyone that has their hands and feet in the worlds of technology and also using this technology to understand where we are headed because technology is a slippery slope. And in a lot of ways, if you don’t see something coming it’s a lot of times like your hair, it will grow longer and longer and longer until one day you look in the mirror and realize that it’s it’s down to your butt, you can’t really do much about it. It’s already there.

Steve: Yeah right. Well, that’s interesting. And how does this impact people? How should they be thinking about this as they seek to plan their lives to continue to be sustainable in their own businesses and to look for opportunity?

Matt: Well for businesses specifically you’ve got to think about the nature of these businesses. So specifically, Facebook and Google are kind of the one-two when it comes to advertising, there’s nothing else there. But what happens if you build a business on top of one of these platforms you build an e-commerce company on top of Amazon. You build a business off of Google search traffic. You build an app on Facebook only for Zuckerberg to copy it and replace it and replace you. You’ve got to understand the fire that you’re playing with and then there are the industries that they’re not directly involved in but I think they will become involved in soon. What Amazon is doing now with health care, their announcement with JP Morgan and the other company I can’t think of Berkshire Hathaway, in terms of offering health care for their employees and what’s going to be happening as they start to roll out Amazon pharma products as they start to incorporate some of these into their business model you need to understand where these companies are headed so that if you are in that arena of playing in a competitive type of space you can position your company effectively and if you’re not in one of those spaces you can try to avoid or build something complementary, versus building something that will come to a head with these companies because it’s nearly impossible to compete with them based off of funding you have to in some way differentiate yourself ahead of time to survive that flood.

Steve: I love I love living in today.

Matt: It’s an exciting time.

Steve: It is exciting. It’s the ultimate challenge. And one of the things that will give our listeners some really great hope is that the 12 principles of highly successful leaders have been effective forever and they are the platform that helps you stay ahead of this change and this disruption because they’re the very principles that create this success. So, the character, the vision. And this is all about what Matt Ward is talking about here what is the vision of the future and how do I fit in that and starting to look out not only now, this year, you know this month but out in the future, this is what he’s talking about. Well, this is the application of that principle and then what will we do today to stay ahead of the curve. Well as you go through each of these principles. And Matt I think you have a Becoming Your Best book on the way.

Matt: I just got it. Congrats on getting Stephen Covey to right to write the forward by the way. I was impressed.

Steve: Oh well thanks. Well, that goes back to my college days. Stephen Covey was my organizational behavior three twenty-one professor and we had eight hundred people in the class and I had this new company in publishing, printing, etc. and asked if he’d be on the advisory board. Well, he ended up being on the board for 17 years and I joined his board when the seven habits came out. I had the wonderful privilege and opportunity to manage some of their international groups and then we all went forward in different ways. But he’s been a lifelong friend and then Stephen M.R. who is also a close friend is the one that wrote the forward and his dad had actually written the forward for Becoming Your Best, but unfortunately passed away at that time and McGraw-Hill said well not sure that’s going to work. And I said well we have another great option.

Matt: Good work, good work.

Steve: And Stephen M.R. went for it. He’s awesome and he’s doing great work with the speed of trust and the impact of what they’re doing keeps going forward. So anyhow you have a sense then from this that this will be helpful to our listeners. But nonetheless what Matt is talking about today is front and center as we apply these principles. Let’s just think about this, Matt. One of the things you talked about is how you’ve ramped up different companies and different projects, is it possible to receive a 10 to 100 times result with the same amount of effort? Is that something you still believe is possible?

Steve: Yeah, I think it actually comes back to what you were saying in terms of how you think and plan in advance. So, it’s really two things. It’s which problem do decide to solve and how do you decide to go about solving it. So here I’ll give you an example. I was thinking I want to make an impact in the world, what’s the best way to do it. And the easy obvious answer at least for someone in college is you go to Africa and you help for building houses with one of one of those organizations for a bit. Awesome, you’re doing an awesome thing you feel good about it, you get to see the world but you’re one person, you’re one body, you’re one manual laborer. There’s not a whole lot of impact that you can have on a truly quantitative scale. You think about the problem well how do I, how do I do a better job of that? Well, I could start a business and then do that. So, then I have 10 guys working for me and we’re all building houses. Or I could start a business that’s maybe helping other people start businesses building houses in Africa. Well now maybe instead of 10 people working I have 10 different businesses. I’m helping every year times 10. So that’s 100 per year that we’re scaling up or maybe I start a business lending money to people that are starting businesses to build houses in Africa. So, then I have another scale of 10. Or maybe I make a lot of money doing something else, so I have the money to invest in these different areas of business or different areas of Africa so that we can try to scale these up and do a better job of building something exponential. And that’s just a different way of thinking about the same problem. You have only so much time on this planet only so much time in your life. What’s the best way to make an impact? Obviously, the best way, at least in my opinion, is to go for one of those later rounds because you are having an exponential effect. But you have to think about it differently. It doesn’t take you more time, it doesn’t take you more energy, you’re not out there every single day drilling with hammers and putting holes and trying to connect everything together to make a house. You’re doing the less manual but significantly more impactful work of doing it the other way. And I think anyone can do similar things in their business. Just an example I like to give is, what are your goals with your business. What’s your goal with this podcast, Steve?

Steve: Right, it’s to get the word out to people and to help them literally have the tools and capacity to become their very best as an individual realizing this also has a deep impact professionally. So, it lifts businesses which in turn lifts the world. So, we’re trying to reach a billion people to become their best.

Matt: Ok. Well, you’re already shooting pretty high so that one’s gonna be tough for us the ten or one hundred x.

Steve: Oops.

Matt: But let’s assume let’s assume that you had an already thought like this because I can see that you’ve already, you already think a bit like this just generally speaking for a lot of people they say I want to start a business where I earn one hundred thousand dollars a year or I earn a million dollars a year. Or I want to start a podcast where I get five thousand people listening to me. They just set their goals too low and that’s the nature of humanity is oftentimes we can underestimate ourselves and the, what I would invite people to do, listeners to do is to say OK we’re doing we’re doing five hundred thousand dollars a year this year what would it take to do five million a year? What would it take to do 50 million a year? And you think about this and once you 10 x 100 x a thousand x whatever you’re doing or whatever you’re shooting for it’s not necessarily that you’ll get there but you’ll think about the problem differently maybe doing five hundred thousand a year you have two people working for you and you kind of manage them full time but if you wanted to get onto five million dollars a year, maybe suddenly you need to hire a manager or two or some other higher level workers to replace yourself. If you want to go even above that you need to do something else. You might have to bring in a sales force. You might have to implement some new strategies for growth. You might need someone for HR. You think about these different these different hurdle points so to speak of what it would take you to reach there. It’s not going to take you more effort to do it. It’s just going to take you approaching the problem differently and suddenly you’ve done that. The same with what we said before in terms of solving a different problem. If you’re solving a problem that’s not that meaningful, how do we increase conversion rates from 1 percent to 2 percent? Well what if you were to go about something and say well instead of thinking about increasing our conversion rate from 1 percent to 2 percent what about thinking about how we can bring in a thousand times as many people, 10 times, 20 times as many people into our organization into our sphere of influence so to speak. So, you can you can think about a different problem that leads to a bigger result that you never could’ve got.

Steve: I love it, by the way. Because one of the biggest challenges that I see is that people sell themselves short frequently and this is at the very heart of good, better, best, of course, is that sometimes you just say well here’s where I think my good is and my better. But what is the best really look like and it’s a new way of thinking and this is what you’re encouraging people to do which is magnificent. So how have you found the best way to do that? Like when you try to when you look at something, Matt, what are the ways that you tried to explode it up to give yourself the capacity to see new possibilities until something starts resonating and you feel this hope and excitement and say, man, I think I can do this maybe. What are the best ways to do that?

Matt: I think it really depends. When I do it for other people, when I do it for instance advising, I’ll just kind of be a bit of a jerk and say OK do you want to start thinking bigger now or something to that effect. And then how do we 10x how do we 100x it. For myself personally, I’ve thought about similar things for myself and my goals. A big part of it as well for both me and others is to be honest. I started the disruptors podcast so that I could talk to the world’s most interesting folks. For a lot of reasons, I’m ADD and I love learning and I know a lot of other people out there enjoy learning as well. But a big part of it was getting around the smartest, most interesting game changers to get their missions and their thoughts out into the world. I very much believe you’re the average of the five closest people, not necessarily the ones you spend the most time with but the ones you spend the most intellectual and mental time with. So for instance, if you’re listening to podcasts, if you’re listening to this podcast, Becoming Your Best, and some other ones even though you may not have the most interesting and exciting friends around you, you are still up leveling the way that your brain takes in the world around it. So, getting folks that are talking about the future, they’re talking about living to be a thousand years old, they’re talking about putting a colony on Mars, they’re talking about robotics to replace human need for work. They’re talking about these concepts that seem sci-fi but are actually happening and happening now, that forces everyone else out there who suddenly is hearing about incredible people but just also everyday people doing incredible things. Suddenly they realize that they can do that too and they can explore these different areas, be it climate change, be it longevity, be it space, be it A.I. Whatever it is it encourages people to solve bigger problems versus solving the problem of better advertising or something small.

Steve: Oh that is a great answer. And tell us about the format of your disruptors FM.

Matt: Really, I wanted to build it as not an anti-Ted but a complement to Ted. I love Ted talks. They’ve been super helpful for me in terms of learning but at the same time, if you have someone incredible talking for five to at max 15 20 minutes, they can really only tell you so much. They can kind of bring you through a canned presentation and at the end you’re going to feel interested probably inspired you’re going to have at best a baseline understanding and you really can’t go deeper. The concept of the disruptors is really to flip everything of that on its head. We get the same caliber of people on. We talk about very similar topics but nothing scripted. Everything is just me and whoever our guest is. Be that a world-class quantum researcher, be that someone who’s working on A.I, be that a politician who was Clinton’s advisor, be that anyone. We can look at these topics and instead of having a defined place, we’ll start wherever the topic is. So today I did I did a great interview with Andrew Hessel. He’s founding a company using viruses to essentially combat and kill cancer. We start there but then eventually we get into crisper. We talk about these babies that were born that were genetically engineered. What are the morals and ethics look like for that? What happens as we start to evolve ourselves more? What happens if we do this with animals as well? Can we use that to start to reduce the effects of climate change? Speaking of climate change. It kind of becomes if you give a mouse a cookie. So, we get into these different areas where we’re talking about all of these different technologies and trends that are converging, how they all affect each other. You get a big picture view versus a small specific view and then also talking about the direction and the ethics because a lot of these things that are happening right now, they can be incredibly good, but they can be incredibly dangerous as well especially if (a) used in the wrong hands or (b) not known about by the public. So, we try to bring up all of these potential ethical pitfalls so that we can solve them before they arise.

Steve: So do these go for 30 minutes, an hour what’s the length of them?

Matt: The average is about an hour I would say, our longest is maybe an hour and forty-five and that’s kind of that’s kind of a pretty good time frame about an hour to really get into a topic and the topics around it because you’re not going to learn everything about biotech, quantum computing, A.I. over the course of an hour. But what it will do for some folks is they’ll be interested enough to look into it more. These are the fields of the future and we need the smartest folks tackling those problems. So if you can get the smartest folks interested in something they did not realize was happening they didn’t realize holy cow I could be the person who helps humanity live 20 years longer on average, I want to explore that field. Trying to get people into those exciting and important fields is a big part and portion of the podcast.

Steve: Yeah, I love that. That’s great. A friend of mine, Charlie Jones, told me many years ago he said you will be the same in five years from now as you are today except for two things, the people you meet and the books that you read. You know the books could be podcasts, it could be other sources of information. But how true. And so, I love your answer that one way to think bigger ten times 100 times is to invite other resources particularly specialists in the area that you want to learn and grow in that gives you these new thoughts and it just may be one experience and all of a sudden the insight comes, and you say there it is. There’s the hundred times and it’s a pathway that you pivot to, so, good going on all this. That’s great.

Matt: Yeah, I would definitely agree with what he said. I would add one caveat, I would add a third way and the third way are the choices that you make because the choices define who you are. It’s not just knowledge it’s not just theory. It’s also what you do in the world.

Steve: Yeah absolutely. Well, I am always stunned by how fast things go and our time is up. I mean I still have a bunch of questions I’d like to ask. So, any final tips that you’d like to leave with our listeners before we wrap things up?

Matt: I would say the most important tip is is kind of the rule that I live by and I think a lot of us should is there are no rules. Society will tell you, you’re supposed to do something you’re supposed to go to college, get a job, you meet that girl, you get married, you have a house, you get a cat, you have a nice white picket fence, you get a new job it’s bigger it’s better so you need a bigger better house. People get pulled into these traps of what they’re supposed to do because that’s what others around them do. That’s what society tells them to do. I would even say in a lot of senses this applies to laws. It’s illegal to import drugs that could save your save your life from cancer or whatever you want to come up with. There’s lots of reasons where a lot of the rules are rules that we feel are applicable to us, just shouldn’t be if someone is giving you advice and that person isn’t further along on the journey of life than where you want to be, if they’re not living what you want to live in the future, then their advice is oftentimes not valuable for you because they’re giving you advice to live their life, not advice to live yours. So that’s what I would that’s what I would leave people with is to live your life and don’t live it by someone else’s playbook live it by your own.

Steve: Ok. Yeah. And the only thing I’d add to that Matt’s been so good today and thanks for adding that is that just being sure that its principle-based, because for everything you do there are principles that govern our behavior and just look at the predictable outcome and make choices that take you to the right place. So, I fully agree with this and that is its principle base that you’re at a solid foundation. So how can people find out about what you’re doing, Matt?

Matt: So there’s a couple of places I would say the best places That’s where you can find the podcast, you can subscribe, you can listen to some episodes, find suggestions and explore the different topics that we have. There’s some really fascinating ones. If you go to you can grab the Gods of the Valley book for free if you add your email. Sorry about that Steve I would’ve given it to you for free I’ve decided it’s more important to get the information out there.

Steve: Good job. The one I paid for, right?

Matt: Exactly. I’ll have to sign that one when I see you. In terms of in terms of other places to find me, Twitter I’m Mattwardio and I’ve also got a personal website,, which just shares a little bit more information about me, what I’m working on, different places you can find me. And then a blog where I do, I do a fair bit of blogging on mediums, so you can find that through there as well.

Steve: Well thank you for your time today. This has been invaluable. It’s really been terrific and going to cause me to keep thinking clearly about what the possibilities are and to continue to learn, to gain new insights. So, this has been fun, Matt. Thank you for taking the time.

Matt: We’re either learning or we’re dying so I suppose that’s a good thing, right?

Steve: Now that’s that’s true. Well, we wish you all the best in your endeavors and to all of our listeners, never forget you too are making a difference every single day. This is wishing you a great day, Steve Shallenberger with Becoming Your Best.

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