Steve: Welcome to all of our Becoming Your Best podcast listeners wherever you might be in the world today. This is your host Steve Shallenberger with the Becoming Your Best global leadership. We have a terrific guest today. He is a successful entrepreneur, particularly a digital marketing and e-commerce expert. He has built and scaled several multimillion dollar businesses specializing with results-based marketing. So this is going to be an interesting subject and he has an extensive experience and proven success both in building and maintaining startup businesses, so this is going to be a lot of fun. Welcome, Will Deane.
Will: Thank you Steve, I appreciate it. I’m looking forward to being here.
Steve: Good. Well before we get started, I’d like to tell you just a little about Will’s background. Like I mentioned, Will has built and scaled several multimillion-dollar businesses. His company, Unstoppable.com focuses…So Will is it Unstoppable or Unstoppable.com? What is that?
Will: It’s Unstoppable dot C-O, so Unstoppable.co.
Steve: Okay, good. Glad we got that. Well, it focuses on providing clients with real and measurable results by combining his expertise in paid search, social media, native advertising, and comprehensive retargeting to generate positive ROI. Optimizing it and then increasing a company’s overall bottom line. So that’s his focus. Well, that’s an exciting field, isn’t it, Will?
Will: Yeah, it’s definitely an exciting field. I mean, I like to tell people we’re your best salesman. But yeah, it’s up and coming and it’s definitely, you know, on the forefront of where all businesses are going.
Steve: Absolutely. We think about it every single day with all of our businesses. It’s a big deal. So to start us off, tell us a little about your background, including any turning points in your life that have had a significant impact on you. So yeah, what’s your story? I’d love to hear a little bit more about you.
Will: Sure. No, I appreciate that. So I’m an East Coast guy. I was born in Annapolis, Maryland. I went to the University of Delaware. I didn’t study marketing at all but I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart. So I was always starting businesses when I was younger, whether that was fake IDs in high school or it was, you know, mowing somebody’s lawn. When the tech boom started to happen, I really wanted to get, you know, online and start developing businesses there. So I had a lot of failures at the beginning. When I kept failing, I decided I need to learn from a company or founders that have sold businesses before.
So I ended up at a startup in New York City called Yext – an amazing startup, they went public last year. I think I was number 15 or 20 on board and now they have, I think, over 1000 people and they’re publicly traded. So I had a lot of great learning experiences there. But the reason I worked there was to actually learn and get the confidence go back out on my own and start something. And so when I was about to leave, I started a company called Emergency Lights. Very, very niche in the e-commerce side of things and my business partner was actually out in California.
I ended up jumping ship and building another business in Los Angeles. We grew that business, several multimillion dollars in revenue. We had about 17 employees and I ended up selling that business in 2014. But what I took with me from Yext to there was really, how do you build a business online? So when I started that, we didn’t have much money to start it and so I had to figure out how to drive customers to the site, how to get them to purchase and how to create, you know, a greater average order value and things along that nature. So when I ended up selling it, I had done all of my own marketing. I just realized that hiring somebody outside wasn’t doing the job, so I needed to teach myself which was a big turning point in my life because it led me down the path of owning the marketing channel for anything I do which kept me learning.
So after we sold it, people were coming to me and saying, “Hey, could you help me grow our business?” You know, friends, colleagues. I wasn’t really trying to make it another business. Because we were performing so well for them, it kind of spun into this agency. I really say we’re an anti-agency because we’re not an agency model group. We really don’t do things the way agencies do. We really care about getting results for our clients. And so that ended up taking me into helping other people build their businesses and that’s where we are today.
Steve: Oh, that’s awesome. So it sounds like you’ve had setbacks, challenges, learning opportunities. That’s great. That’s how you gain experience. That’s how you can build a wheelhouse.
Will: Exactly. Yeah, I mean if you don’t have those experiences, you’re really not learning in my experience. You don’t realize it when you’re going through it. When you get the hiccups, or you get hit and go up against the fence, you don’t realize that it’s going to make you better. But I’ve had those experiences and because of those experiences, I am where I am today and we help crush it for businesses that couldn’t previously online.
Steve: Oh, that’s great. I love it. So how do you generate real and measurable results using marketing strategies to generate this positive ROI that you’re talking about to crush it? How do you do that?
Will: So we take a very unique approach when we work with our clients, whether it’s a B2B company, SaaS based business, local business or e-commerce, which I particularly love e-commerce. We look at the whole ecosystem, right? Where are you getting your customers is really the first thing that we try to dive into. So, what’s your current sales channel. Then we take that and we look at other sales channels online and we look at your customer experience. You know, how they find you? What products they’re adding to their shopping cart? How they’re going through checkout. Then we kind of step back and put our methodologies into that.
So without going into too much technical, because there’s a million different ways to go in here, we really try to optimize your current sales channel first to generate you more revenue. Then once we’ve done that, we allocate a small percentage of that to a new marketing budget and we start to test. Because if you’re currently getting customers, I’m sure we could improve that without spending money and that’s really how we make ROI. We’re like, okay look, you’re probably doing everything great but let’s double down on what’s working, let’s get rid of what’s not and then let’s put our testing protocols into what you’re doing. Maybe we test on Facebook. Maybe we test on Google AdWords. Maybe your email marketing needs to be optimized. There’s a lot of ways to grow without spending money first to put you in a better position as a company. Even if we have to look at your P&L or maybe get your cost of goods down. Like, what are some things from a business perspective you can be doing to increase your profit so that we can go about things from a marketing perspective and help you grow?
So we really look at the whole ecosystem and I think that any marketing company that doesn’t look at that is really setting up for failure because there’s not a one trick pony. It’s like, if you just focus on traffic from AdWords or whatever it is, you might increase that marketing channel but there are probably ways to improve the business overall that will create more revenue or more gross profit that can be put back into the right places to help you get in a better position as a company to grow.
One of the adages that I always think about, my dad told me, it’s like you never invest in a company that’s in debt, right? Which kind of coincides with when you’re playing defense, you’re not thinking properly. And if you’re not thinking properly, you’re not going to make the best strategic decisions for your business. So one of our goals right when we come into a business is making sure that we can get the company back into a good standing so that the business owner can think with a clear mind and we can help make strategic decisions from the marketing end to grow them.
Steve: Great. That’s a really terrific overview. Will, what do you find in working with your clients and your experience is the biggest challenge that companies face in trying to be successful in e-commerce and digital marketing? What are the biggest challenges they face in the first place?
Will: Yeah, not to get too philosophical with you, a lot of companies are trying to acquire customers. They think marketing and think of acquiring customers. In the general sense, that makes sense but people always forget that the majority of your revenue is coming from past customers, past people you have relationships with. And so they’re always like, “Hey, we should spend money here, we should do this, we should do this billboard, this magazine ad.” I think one of the biggest problems is knowing where to put your money is the biggest problem. But even before we get there, how are you not optimizing the relationship with your past customers, right? Like 80% of your revenues is going to come from your current customer list. 20% is going to come from your new customers so why are you spending 80% of your revenue on trying to acquire new customers?
Let’s focus on the relationships that are already built because your repeat customer rate could be a lot higher. You don’t know the lifetime value of your customer so let’s optimize that. And then you’re in a completely better position to allocate more money to getting new clients. That’s, I think, is the biggest thing even top businesses forget. They just forget that, you know, it’s not all about getting new customers, it’s about building better relationships with past customers.
Steve: Well, that’s great. That’s a great response and it’s a good reminder for all of us, isn’t it?
Will: For sure, absolutely.
Steve: Okay, so what promotional methods are your customers or potential customers most likely to see or notice or be interested in?
Will: So I would say the biggest one that’s come up in the past couple years is, you know, the Facebook ad platform. You know, it depends on the type of business that you have. But a lot of our businesses are consumer based products and because they’re consumer products, we go where the consumers live and that’s Facebook. So Facebook is probably the number one advertising channel that we use for our clients. It’s not the only channel but it’s the one where we find it’s most effective. It’s because it’s a social channel, we’re able to create, you know, marketing assets, videos, images that really resonate with our target market. I would say that’s been huge in the past couple years to grow any business that we’ve worked on.
Steve: Now, I have a client that was just sharing the other day, Will, that they’ve had in the last six months to a year, decreased foot traffic into their physical locations. So what’s your advice for them? How can they attack a problem like that?
Will: So there’s a couple of things. You know, getting your local business found is big. Everybody has a phone in their hand 90% of the day and that’s what they’re using to find what they want. You know, a lot of old-school business owners are putting signs outside and that’s great if the foot traffic’s there, but because people are getting more concise with how they find what they want, you need to be in front of them where they’re searching. So, making sure that you show up, whether it’s Google listings or Yellow Pages or whatever it is that people are on is very important. So local listings is huge. Actually, that goes back to Yext. Yext has connected every single local listing out there. So any local business, I implore you to go sign up for Yext, it’ll help you dramatically.
But past that, let’s say you’re a restaurant are trying to get just, in general, more foot traffic by doing an advertising campaign, Facebook allows you to target within a specific radius. And so I always recommend, you know, maybe working with somebody that has some experience on that platform by creating some advertisement that is local in nature. If you’re a restaurant and you have, you know, Monday Night Football specials, plenty of that out there. Make it a five-mile radius and just let it run and maybe put a discount code. That way you can track some way, somehow, the people that are coming from the ad. There’s multiple ways to actually track that, but if you’re the business owner creating the ads, keep it simple and just try to get your name out there. Even though you might not see direct ROI from what you’re doing, you will start to see more foot traffic come in and you’ll know that’s a direct consequence of, you know, having your local listing out there may be running a Facebook ad.
Steve: Okay, good. Do you see any other channels, electronic marketing channels that are coming up behind Facebook that you found productive? A number two or three?
Will: Yeah, I would say AdWords has always been a player. AdWords they’re very intent based. So what I mean by that is, I want to buy red shoes. So you’re able to show up what somebody searching for, where Facebook is very intra-space. Like, we know that because they searched out one of our red shoes, they might be interested in shoes and we can show them different shoe advertisements.
From an up and coming standpoint, there’s not really a platform that’s as unique as Facebook so that’s why we always start there because we can get very segmented and really, really targeted. But it’s always good to know and understand pay per click. So pay per click in general, whether it’s AdWords, Bing, you know, any type of native search like Outbrain or Tubular. These are good things to know because once you kind of have success on Facebook, you can start going to those channels and have success as well. But in terms of new platforms, there’s nothing that we’ve seen as powerful as Facebook or easy to use, especially for local business owners that, you know, don’t have the chops to learn an entirely new system.
Steve: Right. Okay, that’s good. Good thoughts. Man Will knows his stuff here.
Will: I’m trying. I’m trying.
Steve: Okay well, I’m really putting Will to the test today. So I’ve got another good question for you I think, Will, and that is, can you share with our listeners today maybe a couple of experiences that have been really fun? Clients that you’ve worked with that have had a specific challenge and you’ve helped them out and where did they end up? What do you think?
Will: Yeah, I love answering these questions. I’ll try not to be too vague in my answers. You know, some clients we keep under wraps. So like we’ve got a bunch of clients in Los Angeles and they’re all doing, you know, kind of $20,000 in revenue a day from our efforts on advertising with ROI.
So I’ll give maybe two examples. One of them is a consumer product company that is like a wellness company let’s say. They’ve got some special type of products that when they first came to us, they were only doing about $500 a day in revenue. I love starting from my back against the wall. I don’t know why I love starting like this. I’m what you call a learner, so I like learning throughout the process because it makes you better in the trenches. So when it was brought to us, I saw potential right away but they had been at it for five years and they haven’t been able to get past that mark.
The second we got it in our hands, we saw some major issues that we could fix. They didn’t have a traffic problem, they had a conversion problem. So they were getting 1000 people to their site a day, but they just weren’t able to get them to become buyers. So we first made their website mobile responsive, because 80% of the people that are buying on mobile and the second we did that, they went from $500 to $1300, $1500 a day. And that was amazing because that allowed them to start an advertising budget for us to kind of go play with.
But past the mobile responsive, we started implementing a lot of things in the customer journey that we were able to get people to where they wanted to go. You know, a lot of people were coming to the pages that there was no call to action or there was no button that took them to the product page. So if there’s no button taking you to the product page, how are you going to get to the product? You’re going to have a high bounce rate. So that’s something we put in place. We were able to get them from $1500 to $2000.
And then we started playing around on Facebook and testing different audience types and really just trying to figure out who the buyers of these products. After about a month of testing we were able to really find, you know, the right buyers and we started some campaigns. So that went from $2000 to $3000. And then we looked at, you know, this is great for achieving ROI but how do we get the company to grow? Even though we were making good profit on the sales of the product, the net profit, I wouldn’t say it’s enough for the company to grow the way a bootstrap company would so what do we need to change? Well, we need to make our average order value bigger. It was around $40 and we needed to make it larger because that extra $20 or $30 that we could get, would actually increase the bottom line significantly and add to, you know, being able to hire another employee or do something.
So we take a very chess-like, systematic approach, to how we scale companies. You know, from point A to point…I’ll never say we’re at point Z but we point A to point D right now. You know, they’ve gone from $500 a day to averaging about $10,000 in revenue per day just online and we manage the entire process for them. We’ve done everything from building websites to tweaking things to optimizing user experience to increase the average order value to optimizing their email campaigns.
That’s exciting for me. I think that I’m, unfortunately, not a product guy as much as I’d like to be because I’d be running my own product based-businesses, which I’m sure we’ll do soon, that’s a goal. But this to me is practice and it’s an experience for my team to become the best. That’s what we want to do. We want to become the best at what we do and we’re on our way. So every little win we have like that, it allows us to kind of hone in everything we’ve learned versus a bigger agency that just gets clients. We’ve seen a lot of agencies that have worked with some of our clients that we end up getting that are used to working with huge companies that have venture capital. And because they come to them with these big budgets, they’re not able to learn the really, really important nuances of why you should stop a campaign or why you need to tweak something. And those pennies that you save add up over time. And you end up spending an extra $100,000 that year in marketing which you didn’t need to do. And so that that’s an example of one company where we’ve taken them from almost nothing to, I wouldn’t say wildly successful, but pretty well off to where they’re able to build their own business. And so that’s very, very exciting to us.
Steve: Well, I love this perspective that you’ve been sharing, Will. One of the things that Will mentioned is this desire, this effort to become your best. I love this mindset, it’s also a skill set and as our listeners know, Becoming Your Best: The 12 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders is built on 40 years of research of what we have observed, what sets apart high performing individuals from everybody else. What we discovered is that even though people were perfect, there were 12 things they did in common and that’s what we have in Becoming Your Best.
One of those 12 things is apply the power of knowledge. Will is doing, by the way, almost all of these 12 that I can see but he is definitely all over it in gaining knowledge and then applying the knowledge. This is what creates such significant value as he is focused and able to deliver this to his customers. So that’s fantastic. I love the story, Will.
Will: Oh, I definitely appreciate it. Like you said, it wasn’t that I woke up one day and wanted to start an agency and be a marketer, but because I have the focus and I’m passionate about it, the learning is the fun part for us and because we made it fun, it has allowed us to scale and grow. You know, just a side note to that. A lot of people that we’ve worked with and other agencies that we’ve been handed off to, a lot of people that have been on their staff or we’ve seen around our ecosystem, even if it’s for less of a fee, they’re so excited when they work with us because it gets them excited to learn. I think that having that as a company, having that mindset like you’re always ready to learn, it’s going to attract some of the best people.
Steve: Yeah, absolutely. That’s a great thought. I’m always amazed how fast time goes and our time’s up. Any final tips you’d like to leave with our listeners today.
Will: I guess the only tip I would say, you know, a lot of people are out there struggling, trying to figure out how to get their business online or how to grow online. What I tell everybody is, if you’re going to hire somebody for this, because it does take a lot to learn yourself, you’re going to hire somebody for this, make sure it’s a personal referral or personal reference. I’ve seen too many people get, I guess, shammed or whatever it might be called by just going and finding somebody online. Find somebody through your personal network that you believe is good, that can help you get online. If you have any questions or need any help or whatever, just shoot us an email. I’m very happy to help people and give back to the community.
Steve: Yeah, that’s a great thought. And Will, what are some things they ought to be looking for because we all have seen quite a few “e-marketing” organizations that are willing to help, but some, like in any area of business or life, are much better than others? So are there any kind of lookouts or things that we ought to have our heads up for?
Will: Yeah, so this is a pretty straightforward one but almost no one applies it. References, right? So like get references and then call them. I’ve done it myself. I get the references and because somebody gave them to me, I’m like, “Okay, that’s good.” But no one actually picked up the phone to call. So references and seeing a case study or two and actually calling the references. Actually talking to somebody and seeing, does the business align with mine in the sense that they could also be successful? That’s huge. Most people get references and don’t call them. Call them references, feel them out. Don’t be fast to make a decision. My best decisions have come from being patient and so things will come if you think it through.
Steve: That’s terrific advice. So how can people find out about you and what you’re doing?
Will: Go to www.unstoppable.co. You can go on Facebook and look up Will Deane. Shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org and you’ll be able to talk to us, talk to anybody on our team and we’re definitely happy to help.
Steve: Oh, great. Well, this has been fun today. Great ideas, stimulating thoughts for every single one of us as we’re all working on being the best we can be. So thank you, Will for being part of this show today. You’ve done a great job.
Will: Absolutely. Thank you for having me, Steve. Yeah, just let me know anytime, I’d love to work with you and anybody that’s listening.
Steve: Yeah, perfect. Well, thank you. And we wish all of our listeners today the very best as you are making a difference in the world and this is for us who are trying to promote services and businesses, solutions that can make life better and help people be more successful. This is a great way to do it. So we’re signing off and never forget, you too can make a difference every single day of your life. I’m Steve Shallenberger with Becoming Your Best Global Leadership, wishing you a great day.
Hello, this is Steve Shallenberger with Becoming Your Best Leadership podcast. Welcome, wherever you might be in the world today. I’d like to start out with a quote that introduces the topic that we will be visiting about today. Here it goes, it’s by Edward Everett Hale. “I am only one but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something and I will not let what I cannot do, interfere with what I can do.” Helen Keller said this in a slightly different way. Here it is. “I am only one, but I am still one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something, and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.” Those are great quotes.
Well in today’s podcast, I’d like to extend an invitation to you to share this particular podcast with someone else. That’s really what we’re talking about today. And the topic is inspired by a trip that we took to Rwanda and just returned last week, which is an East Africa. It was a tremendous reminder of the power that the influence of one good or bad person may have on another person’s life or on a group or a community, a nation or even the world and I might add, lest you think that this influence is restricted to a community, national or organizational leader, I’m talking about every single person that is listening to this podcast today and that’s not listening. I’m talking to you. And regardless of your station, or position in life, you, through your influence, through your leadership can be a force for good in the lives of others within your organization, within your home, your family, or your friends, your community, your nation, and certainly the world.
There is no wasted effort when you’re working on doing good regardless of how insignificant it seems. By doing good, encountering evil, the bad, you create a ripple in the water of humanity that can never be stopped. And you will never really know the full influence of that ripple. Your influence which flows from your leadership, which is one of the most powerful defining forces in life is deliberate. And the intent of your influence is captured and your vision, which influences your thoughts, actions, habits, character, and ultimately your destiny, your goals, which influences your specific and focused actions in your personal life, these are your annual goals, which you set over and over and over again throughout life every year, with the focus of doing the things that really count most that year. And then in pre-week planning, which influences what you do this week and today.
So these are powerful leadership tools that increase our capacity to make a difference in your life, the life of others, the impact you make within your organization, of lifting and building and creating excellence and also in the world. So as we reflect upon the power of one, together, I will refer to historical examples as well as personal examples where people have touched my life. And remember, your influence will be from wherever your station or place in life is. It makes no difference. Let’s just make a difference, okay? And whether as a parent or a grandparent, a leader, a manager, a coach, a teacher, a friend, a church member, in community service, traveling on a bus or a plane, in the grocery store, on the street, leading an organization or leading a country or whatever place you may be.
So let’s start out with George Washington. I’m thinking of three different examples where one person has the power to make a difference. So we call this the power of one. Now, there’s no doubt that I’m not going to refer today to the George Washington that endured eight years of battle, of terrible conditions, of sleeping in the snow with his troops and the many hardships. But they endured those, they worked through those. I’m going to talk about what happened while that took place. In other words, the trust that he was building, the example, and because of that, George Washington was in a unique position in the place that he was serving in at that time where he could make a difference. The power of one.
One of those was a story I shared in my last podcast about the reenlistment. The Continental Army had just had the victory at Trenton, but their enlistment was up. And so George Washington invited people to reenlist but nobody crossed the line, not a single person. And it was at that time that George Washington stepped forward and he said, “I invite you to reenlist because you can do today what you will never be able to do again in your whole life. To stand up for freedom. We’ve made this progress so far. This is for your wives. This is for your children. This is for your future posterity that is to come. And so we need you now, you’ll make a difference.” And so, one by one as the call went out to reenlist, they started crossing the line. The vast majority of them reenlisted. Now, this created a huge enthusiasm among other people throughout the colonies to also enlist, and they went on with some very crucial victories. This changes, actually, this is one of the most important points in the war. So that’s one example. One person doing what they could.
Another one was, as they had defeated the British in this battle, Revolutionary War, his officers still had not been paid. There was great discontent. And so there was a rebellion of sorts that took place among the top leaders of the military. They decided they would leave the colonial states area, go west and start their own country. And they had set up a special meeting actually to discuss this. George Washington heard about it and asked them to defer their meeting until their regular weekly meeting, which they did. And as they discussed this issue, this idea, he pled with them to consider the impact that this would have and on the future and what it would mean to their freedom, to the freedom of the world and the role that they could play. And then he started the read a letter that he had written to the Continental Congress pleading their case so that the issues that they had could be resolved.
He started to read it but he couldn’t see, and so he reached into his pocket and pulled out his glasses. He said, “You’ll forgive me,” as he put on his glasses, “I have lost my sight in the service of my country and it’s not what it used to be.” This very simple act brought many of these leaders to tears. Everything changed that day. They decided not to go through with it, but to support the colonies and to see it through. That was another pivotal moment of one person making a difference.
They had another really touchy, tough problem that nobody could seem to solve, with the French and the Indians down in the Louisiana area, which was then the border of the United States. Finally, George Washington decided to go down. He listened. Because of the high trust that he had, they were able to come up with a solution that solved the problem, that created a future that met their needs, and so once again, this was pivotal for the future of the United States. This is an example where one person with their unique abilities, wherever they may stand, can make a difference.
Abe Lincoln was another one, very uniquely so. When the crisis came he said, “No, we can’t have two nations. This is one nation that we have. And this was the reason they fought the Civil War. He understood very clearly the dangers of going the other direction. And as a result, we have one nation, the United States of America today. This was because of this man who stood to this principle. How about the Proclamation of the Slavery when it just wasn’t in a place where it could be handled before he took it on. He said, “All people are created equal.” And so, he freed the slaves. This was huge. It’s what he could do.
How about Rosa Park sitting on the bus that day when the bus driver came up and asked her to move to the back of the bus? And she ultimately had had enough. She said, “No, I won’t move.” She was arrested. The rest is history as the civil rights movement really took on full power and the indignity of treating people this way was overcome.
How about Gandhi. Gandhi, after the independence of India. There were two major factions in India political parties and violence broke out and riots broke out. So what did Gandhi do, who held no official position? He started fasting, and the word went out as he would not end his fast until the violence stopped. It did go on for many days, and he became weaker and weaker and weaker, and he was so weak. And finally, this compelling force of love and concern and a better way to do it, won out and the violence ended and they found that there’s a better way to solve it. These are examples of what that person could do at that time. This is the power of one and once we have the power of one, this becomes a team that’s the power of the one or a nation.
How about Mandela as he became the first black president of South Africa. He took office, he was moving into the presidential palace when he got word that the Black Caucus, the political party, who now was the major force there in South Africa was holding a meeting across town and what they were doing is that they had just voted to outlaw the white rugby team. This was the national rugby team. This would have really been a total offense to the white people. So what did Mandela do? He immediately got into his car, and against the advice of his aids, walked into the Black Caucus. It’s a crowded room and it’s packed.
And he described that the vision he had for South Africa was a nation for all. It was for all people, and that this would be an offense, this motion that they had just voted upon. He said, so who will stand with me, who will stand with me to make this a nation for all. They retook the vote and it passed to stand with Nelson Mandela by one vote and overturn this decision. This was a huge decision because the rugby team went on to be a unifier for that nation, as they won the world championship. This goes on and on. Helen Keller, Florence Nightingale, Martin Luther King.
How about the experience I saw once again last week with President Paul Kagame of Rwanda? Because of his leadership, his compassion for people, the choices he made around good leadership and setting a vision for the future, helped that country heal and get on track to a very prosperous country that’s upbeat and on the pathway to realizing that vision today. These are examples.
How about the example of Neal Maxwell. Neal was a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles for the LDS Church and in 1997, my wife and I, along with our family, were asked to move to Madrid, Spain to be a Mission President. We had a great experience for three years living there. We had over 500 missionaries we were privileged to work with and supervise. Neal came and he is an amazing man. Compassionate, wise, deeply spiritual. Such insights that he had, it was a privilege to have him there. As we were driving through town from one point to another, he asked about our children. And some of our children were at college in Utah, Utah State University, Brigham Young University. And he asked if he could have their phone number. So we gave it to him, not thinking anything else about that.
Neal Maxwell had been suffering for some years with cancer. I mean, we couldn’t believe he was there in the first place. We know he had to be exhausted, especially with the international travel. What we found out later, is he made the long trip back home to Utah. One of the first things he did was made a call to our two sons, first at Utah State, our son Rob and his wife Tonya. He gave them encouragement, sent the love of his parents who were in Spain.
And then he called our son David, who was studying engineering at Brigham Young University. When David answered the phone, Elder Maxwell said, “This is Neal Maxwell,” and David said, “Yeah, sure,” and he hung up. He couldn’t believe someone who was so busy, with so much responsibility would take the time to call. He called right back, fortunately. He said, “No, it really is Neal Maxwell and I was just with your parents.” And I will never forget that experience. This is the power of one and we just do it in the ways that we’re able to.
Thomas Monson who was on our board earlier in my career sent endless notes and so much encouragement. You don’t have to be a world leader to do these type of things. At the end of this podcast, I’ll issue a couple of ideas for a call to action. One of those calls to action will be to write down all of those that you can think of that have had an influence for good in your life. So I’ve taken this exercise, I hope you don’t mind if I share some of mine. Certainly, not an inclusive list by any means, but Roxanne, my wife, has had a huge influence, our children and grandchildren. I would name them all but they know who they are. I had one of the grandchildren, and I was giving her a ride on my shoulders and all sudden, down on my face, came her hand with the sign language for “I love you.” It’s so delightful to have them run up and give me a hug and squeeze around the neck. These are powerful things, influence that even a child can have, of doing good things.
How about my grandparents, uncles and aunts and siblings, school teachers and coaches. Dan and Anne Conger, Stephen and Sandra Covey, Gardner and Dorothy Russell, Lael and Margaret Woodbury, Bill and Elle Jones, David and Wendy Clark, and my work associates who are so amazing. These are individuals that have touched my life. Friends who have just been there. Extended family members, for calls and emails and sending notes and giving encouragement and planning and participating in reunions. Emory from Rwanda who has had a big impact. How about Dave, Bruce, Paul, Kim, Gary, Doug, Julie, Barbara, Jamie, Jerry, John, Carli, Sharon, Rob, Mark, Tom, Murphy, Mick. Wow! It just goes on, and their spouses, their partners and so forth.
So one of the largest influences for good in the world’s history is the greatest leader, at least for me, of mankind, and that is Jesus Christ and all that He represents. He lived over 2000 years ago. He walked the roads of Palestine doing good, and yet He was despised by many. He knew what he was about and the power of His influence for good continues to light the world today and continues to expand in our personal lives and throughout the world. What a powerful example of one person that then generates and becomes a power of one and many.
So what does your list look like? How can this influence you? So as we wrap up this podcast today, what can you do to make a ripple, to make a difference, to be the power of one in someone else’s life? I’d like to just recommend a couple of ideas. A couple of calls to action. One is to keep working on becoming your best. This is not because someone is watching. It’s because this is your life and it’s the only one that you have. And through the good and the bad, the happy and the sad, be determined to move forward towards your best. And this will bring to you greater happiness, joy, fulfillment, prosperity, longevity and health. And in turn, in the process, you will bless others with your radiance and light as you continue to grow. So that’s one thing.
Now here’s another thought, invitation call to action. On a blank sheet, name the individuals that have been a positive influence in your life. Feel the gratitude for the positive influence that they have had in your life, your family and your organization, creating excellence. How can you be better in terms of using that light or influence in simple day-to-day living? Influencing is both deliberate, in other words, when we say deliberate, it’s having your vision, an inspiring and exciting, meaningful vision, goals that are specific for this year and solid pre-week planning that helps you do what matters most. That’s deliberate living, and we program our thoughts that help us. Well also, spontaneous influencing and acts of good, simple acts of good, not trying to impress anyone, but just being good. So these are things that we can do that allow us to expand our influence.
Reflecting on the Becoming Your Best: 12 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders is something else you can do. Think about your vision and your goals, especially in perspective of this exercise or activity that I just talked about. What can you do in your station of life to make a difference for good? What can you do to grow that influence? And what are you doing to plant and reinforce the right ideas in your mind, your heart and your DNA that will cause your influence to expand and continue to touch people for good? I know that you’re already making a difference and the power of one is quite significant, and a very spiritual and emotional way of purpose. And each one of us, as we keep working on becoming our best, makes a difference.
I’d like to finish this podcast how I began. It is this great quote that I shared with you from both Edward Everett Hale and Helen Keller. Let me just repeat them, “I am only one, but I am one I cannot do everything but I can do something, and I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” Thank you, Edward. And here’s Helens, “I am only one, but I am still one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do. This is Steve Shallenberger with Becoming your Best wishing you a great day.
Rob: Alright, well good morning or good afternoon to our Becoming Your Best podcast listeners, wherever you’re at in the world. This is Rob Shallenberger. We have an incredible guest with us here today, and as many of our listeners know, you know, we bring people on Becoming Your Best podcast, who we feel are great leaders or high performers in their different areas of influence throughout their life. You know, Becoming Your Best is really about becoming the best leader or person that you can be, and of course, the 12 principles of highly successful leaders are all about how to get there.
Our guest today, Mark Eaton, many of you might have heard his name throughout the years, exemplifies these principles. He’s certainly to be considered a high performer throughout his life and in the spirit of good, better, best, we can all do better and I’m sure Mark will share some of those experiences today. But it’s amazing what can be accomplished when people do certain things. So, excited to hear what he has to say today, to have him share some of his stories and how they can help each one of us really become better leaders and become better people in our areas of influence.
So, let me give a brief introduction to Mark and then we’ll him expand that and share some of his thoughts, but I’ll probably say some things that he wouldn’t say about himself. First of all, what’s exciting is Mark has just released a book called The Four Commitments of a Winning Team that I invite all of our listeners to go on to Amazon to get or maybe another website that Mark can share with us here at the end of the podcast. But whatever you do, I invite you to go get his book, The Four Commitments of a Winning Team, just released. He takes a lifetime of experience and has put that into his book, and he’ll share with us some more about that during this podcast.
Mark has been around all over the world, he’s spoken to many Fortune 500 organizations. He may be best known in the beginning, widely for his experience in the NBA where he spent 12 seasons with Utah Jazz. He led the NBA in blocked shots for four of those seasons. He was named to the NBA all-defensive team five different times, which is, to me, very impressive and still to this day holds two NBA records in the most blocks in a single season and a career average block shots per game.
This is really telling of Mark because there’s a lot of people that do well in their professional athlete career, and then you really don’t hear their names again. There’s a lot of reasons for that and that’s a separate discussion. What’s been very impressive to me is to watch what happened after Mark retired from the NBA. He went on, he’s been a managing partner for two award winning restaurants in Salt Lake City. He is the founder and former chairman of a foundation called the Standing Tall for Youth Foundation, which provides sports and outdoor opportunities for more than 3000 at risk children. And then he was the host for eight years of the KJZZ-TV show and just has done a lot of different things. The outdoor channel and a lot of different things. So you can see that he’s been very successful post NBA. One of the things I always look for is, what does their personal life look like? And he lives in Park City, he loves to spend time with his wife, children, horses, dogs, so he’s my kind of guy. So Mark, welcome to the show.
Mark: Well, thanks Rob. It’s great to be with you today.
Rob: And maybe if there’s something I didn’t cover, give us from your perspective, a little bit more detail on your background if you wouldn’t mind. Just a little bit more personal look at Mark.
Mark: Sure. I grew up in Southern California, and my father was a vocational educator in Long Beach. I grew up working on boats with him and played a little bit of sports here and there growing up, like at the park with everybody else. When I was in high school, I was on the basketball team, but didn’t play very much and actually at the end of my senior year in high school, I decided that athletics there probably wasn’t much future in it and then it was time to go do something else. So I went to trade school, and learnt how to be an auto mechanic and was working in a tire store in Southern California in Buena Park for a couple years.
A junior college coach from the local junior college happened to wander around the corner one day and see me standing there talking to this little short guy and being 7’4″, I stood out quite a bit out there on the corner. He pulled in and proceeded to start telling me I should be playing basketball, which is what everybody told me when they walked in my shop. I told him to go away, but he didn’t and he kept coming back and coming back and finally one day he said, “Look, I can teach you some things about the game of basketball you probably don’t know.” And he said, “If you’re willing to just give it a try for 30 minutes one day.” He said, “If you don’t like it, I’ll leave you alone.” But he said, “I know some things about playing basketball as a big guy that’s different from the rest of the players out there on the floor that you probably don’t know about.”
So after much convincing and cajoling, I decided to go out with him one afternoon and he showed me some things on the basketball court I really never seen before, considered before, about how to play basketball as a big guy. I ultimately, after a few sessions with him, decided to continue working out with him in the evenings and then eventually decided to go back to junior college for a couple of years. There’s a lot more to the story than that but I’ve gone to junior college, I went to UCLA for two years and ended up with the Utah Jazz for 12 years.
Rob: You know, that’s an interesting background that I hadn’t heard, I’m glad you shared that. You actually described one of the things that we see oftentimes in the most successful leaders and people, and that is, at some point in their life, they had a mentor or someone who helped them see life differently than they may be saw it themselves. I had no idea that you had really written basketball off. So that’s a pretty amazing story.
Mark: It is. It’s remarkable because people hear it and they’re like, “Well, what do you mean, you didn’t play basketball in high school? What’s the matter? Didn’t you have a good coach?” I’m like, “Well, I was tall, I was growing, I was uncoordinated. I didn’t have that much muscle strength when you’re growing fast.” I grew till I was 20 years old and so I didn’t know what to do with me, the coach didn’t know what to do with me, and I just kind of languished at the end of the bench. The school I went to really didn’t have a great basketball program and this was in the 70s. You know, they didn’t have all the AAU and all the other things that kids get involved in now. A lot of guys played two or three sports in high school.
So I really didn’t think that much about it. I just thought, “Well, it’s just, this isn’t working and it’s time to go do something else.” I had this vocational background and so my intention was always like, get out of high school and get a job somehow. Trade school seemed to be a pretty quick way to get some training and get busy making some money.
Rob: You know, that probably gives me a lot of insights as to why you are who you are now too. Is you’ve seen a lot of different sides of the equation.
Mark: Yeah, I have and I think, even when I got to the NBA, you know, I came with a different perspective because I wasn’t, you know, the lauded high school phenom or college phenom. In fact, at UCLA I sat on the bench most of the time there too. The only way I got to tryout with the NBA was cold calling teams and asking for somebody to come take a look at me.
Mark: So I think when I got to the league, I had a different perspective of, you know, I’m happy to be here, I’m lucky to have a job and I’m going to work my butt off to make sure that I hold that job. There’s other players who will come along, who might be more skilled than I am, but they’re not going to outwork me.
Rob: So let’s use that as the Segway into your book here. I’m very impressed with this. It’s been a while since you’ve been out of the NBA and you wrote the book of obviously, The Four Commitments of a Winning Team. Why did you write this book? What was the driver for writing this book?
Mark: Well, I’ve been doing corporate motivational speaking for about 10 years. When I started, through a series of trial and errors like every other project you start, I met a coach who helped me put my presentation together, who really took the time to dig deep and looked at what made me unique. As we did that, we identified these four characteristics that were sort of inherent to me, but also inherent to the teams that I played on. As we looked at those, you know, we built this presentation around and as I went out, started delivering it, people said, “Boy, that was great and what else can I learn or what else can I do and have you ever thought about writing a book.” A lot of speakers write books, because that’s their platform. You know, having played in the NBA, I guess, it got me in the door initially. You show up with some NBA highlights, people will at least listen to you for at least five minutes.
So it wasn’t really a requirement to get going speaking for me. So I kind of set it on the back shelf and thought about it, and started it a few times. Finally, last summer my wife said, “Come on. Well, I’m putting the hammer down, we’re going to get this thing done.” So she helped me find some resources to help us finish it, and we got it out in April and it’s doing really, really well. I’m excited about it, because it goes into a little bit more depth with some more examples, and some business examples of some of the companies and people that I’ve talked to over the last decade, and along with my personal story. It’s really designed to be a tool to pass on to other people the things that I learned in my career. You mentioned, the people that come alongside you and the coaches and the people that walked alongside of me and said, “Hey, have you ever thought about this or trying to trying this that way?” That, to me, I think is why I speak and why I write, is to share the lessons that others shared with me and kind of pass it on.
Rob: Yeah, great background. So I’m curious, probably everyone else listening to this is curious, what are the four commitments of winning team that you have in your book? If you could just maybe outline the four. Let’s start with the one that you think is the most impactful. So maybe outline the first four, and then going into the one that you think is the most impactful.
Mark: The premise behind this is that, you know, that a lot of organizations deal with that internal strife and internal competition and on an NBA team, you just can’t have that. Like, if you lose three games in one week, you could be living in a new city the next weekend. So you had to figure out team today. So I bring that perspective of playing team at the highest level, to the platform and to the book.
So the first one of the four commitments is really about focusing on that one thing that you’re excellent at. I call it knowing your job. I share a story about an interaction I had with Wilt Chamberlain one afternoon at the men’s gym at UCLA when I was in college. He saw me running around up and down the court trying to chase these little faster players that I couldn’t really catch, I mean, I’m 7’4″, I weigh 300 pounds. You know, I’m not going to catch a 6′ guard. And he pulled me aside and he said, “Why are you running up and down the court trying to chase these guys?” He said, “Come here.” And so he grabbed me and he put me out on the 40. He put me right in front of the basket. He said, “You see this basket behind you?” He said, “This is your job. Your job is to stop people from getting there. Your job is to make them miss their shot and collect the rebound and then throw it up to the guard. Let them go down the other end of the court and your job is kind of cruise up to half court and see what’s going on.”
It was this aha moment for me, because he showed me the one thing on the court that I could do really, really well. And so he took the whole game of basketball, of all these moving parts and pieces and helped me define my role in one thing that I could be great at. I turned that little five minute conversation into a 12 year career. So I call that knowing your job. You know, what’s, what’s that one thing you’re excellent at? What are the character traits and skills that you already have that you’re just not leveraging enough? So it’s not about working on weaknesses, it’s about going back and focusing in on the one thing you’re already great at, and finding out a way to do more of it. That’s the first point.
Rob: Yeah, and I love that, because it’s a variation of a lot of research. There’s the old adage that says, you know, get the people on the bus, but then get the people on the bus in the right seats, which is very similar in that, yeah, they’re in the right seats but now you’re taking it a step further, which is saying, “Look, if you’re the person, know your job and excel at it.”
Mark: Right. And stay in your lane. Stay in the lane that you do well. Like on the basketball court, you can’t start doing all the jobs out there. Everybody has their unique skill sets they bring to the party. A coach and the general manager does a good job of assembling the team or getting them on the bus, as you say, but once you’re there, like you’ve got to really double down and say, “How else can I enhance or improve what I’m already doing based on who I already am?” As opposed to, you know, trying to try to create the wheel over again.
Point number two is about doing what you’ve been asked to do. It’s about execution. It’s about really questioning, do you really know what people want from you. I tell the story about being at UCLA and not playing and my junior college coach saying, “Look, if you’re not going to play in the games, you’re going to fake the practices as your games. You’re still going to be the first guy there and the last to leave, because if you continue to work, you will have an opportunity to try out at the next level.” So he said, “We need to be thinking long term here. It’s not about whether you play or not this final year at UCLA, it’s really about what are we going to do after that, and you have to be ready for that.”
So I make the point in business that your job is not really to do your best, it’s to do what you’ve been asked. I did what my coach asked, are you doing what your customers ask? Are you doing what your boss wants? And really taking the time to ascertain what that is? I outlined in the book a way to do that. You don’t just walk in the office and say, “Hey, what should I be doing differently?” You know, it’s like, there’s ways to do it skillfully. But again, the key here is that execution is what we’re all looking for in business, right? We all know what the prize is and how to win the sale, but we have struggles with how to get that execution to make it happen. So I address that in point number two. That’s doing what you’ve been asked to do.
Rob: Just on that Mark, you know, it’s interesting on that particular one, one of the number one reasons for turnover is employee frustration. I try to really look at where does this frustration come from? Typically, it’s the same as it is in a marriage or anywhere else. Its misaligned expectations. It’s when one person expects one thing, another expects another and those are not aligned, there’s frustration that results
Mark: Yeah and as mergers happen and there’s a lot of ambiguity in the workplace, people, you know, they don’t know how to win. They don’t know what the prize is, they don’t know where they’re going. A lot of times people are afraid to ask. Look, I’m just going to keep my head down, stay here in my cubicle or shut the door in my office and hopefully nobody is going to bug me. But at the same time, to your point, it creates overwhelm, and a loss of direction and that’s a killer for you and it’s a killer for the organization.
Rob: Yeah, because putting the head down and just going to work and ignoring it, rarely makes it go away, it only causes that internal frustration to rise and rise until, you know, usually there’s a blow up at some point. It may take years to fester but that’s the end result. Okay, awesome. Number three.
Mark: Number three is about making the people around you look good. When it came to the Jazz in the early years, the team was a bad market, a bad team, not playing well, losing games, not much of a fan base. Our coach Frank Layden said, “Look, if you guys will stop competing with each other so much and start cooperating with each other just a little bit more, the individual accolades will show up.” So he got us to pay attention to trusting each other. You know, one of these key components of a team is making the people around you look good. I always say, you know, “The better you make the people around you look good, the better you look to them.”
But that’s a core component and so I asked the question, you know, how focused are you in making people you work with look good on a scale of 1 to 10? What could you do to improve that score? Is there an action step that you need to take in the next week? Do you need to buy somebody a cup of coffee or check in with somebody or acknowledge somebody? Because, again, we have a tendency to just get so self-centered in the workforce, that that we forget that the key to making the whole thing work is based largely on your ability to get outside of yourself a little bit, and go and check in with the people around you. You’ve probably seen this too with executives. You know, they get so focused on trying to build the company. When I coach I’m like, “You need to get out of the office and go sit with your VPs and go wander around and find out what’s really going on and get in touch with the reality of your business.”
Rob: Yeah, on that note, there’s an organizational assessment that we offer to organizations. A person just took that and only had a senior executive team take it and was really surprised by the results from it and he thought, “Man, in my mind, this was the core group that we are all completely aligned, that everyone was happy, we’re all firing on all cylinders.” He was really surprised to see that wasn’t the case, you know, to your point. Just one thought on this Mark, is that I’m listening to the book 1776 right now and I just finished another book, The Washington Hypothesis, and I think someone who exemplifies what you’re saying as we look through history is George Washington. A very imperfect person, plenty of his own flaws yet one of his characteristics is he constantly tried to praise others and recognize others and make the people around him become the stars and shine. Whoever that was, people just generally felt great when they were around George Washington and in the end, you know, 200 years later, he is the one that is recognized, to your point, that you as the Jazz worked so much better as a team rather than focusing on individual accolades. And when you did work together as a team, it’s amazing how the individual accolades came and they’re still there to this day.
Mark: Yeah, yeah. It was kind of a unique turnaround, because we went from a team that was rather the cellar dweller of the NBA and a year later made the playoffs for the first time in team history, won the division for the first time in team history. Most interestingly, we had four individual statistical leaders in the NBA, which is a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since then. So Frank’s philosophy came true that if we really paid more attention to helping each other, the winds would come and the accolades would come, and that that proved to be exactly right.
Rob: Yeah, that’s awesome. And what’s the fourth one?
Mark: So the last point is, what I did well in the basketball court is I protected my teammates. I gave my teammates the ability to go out and try and steal a basketball and if they miss, they knew that I would get between their man and the basket. They knew that they could count on me, that I had their back. And so I call that protect others. This is something that even transcends the workplace. I’m always there for the people around me and it’s just a part of who I am and on the basketball court, that’s what I did. You know, if a player got in an altercation, I was right there. You know, the player needed some extra help defensively, I was right there.
In the business world, I think that sometimes we miss the keys to trust and the keys to loyalty. They’re there right around us, but taking the time just to let people know that you have their back and you care about them, I think, pays huge dividends because people are always sitting on the edge of their seats. You know, what’s going to happen next? What happens when this company is buying us? Where are we going to go? Even if you as a leader don’t know the answer to that question, you can still assure them and be there with them and be there for them as you walk through those rough waters.
At the same time, if you’re trying to take your team from just good to great, so to speak, the more time you can spend getting to know those people and really letting them know that, hey, if you need something, come and talk to me. You don’t have to take them out to dinner, be their best friend, but you do have to let them know that they have faith that if there’s an issue or a challenge or even just looking at the next opportunity that they can walk in and sit down and have a conversation with you. So that’s called protect others. That’s number four.
Rob: I love it. If you had to choose one, I know people do this all the time with our 12 principles, if you had to choose one, what’s the most important? I can never hardly really do that because they’re all important. If you had to choose one of the four commitments that you are going to really focus on and say, you know, if we only had like 10 or 20 or 30 minutes with our team and you could choose one of these, what would it be and why?
Mark: Well, you know, I think from an emotional standpoint, protecting other people, really letting people know you’re there for them is so important. The rest of stuff you can figure out. But if you don’t have that baseline of trust, to begin with, you’re going to struggle with, you know, the rest of it. Trust is just so important. I was just listening to my friend David Horsager the other day talk about the eight pillars of trust and some of the research that he’s done. That that’s just such a key. You know, people don’t feel there’s trust in the workplace, they’re not going to give their best.
So I think it’s incumbent on leaders especially, to do whatever they can to foster that. I think we’re seeing a lot more of it in more to the millennial workplaces now, where some of the businesses that I go out to, are spending more time getting people connected, having team meetings, getting everybody involved. I was at a big finance company the other day, you know, every week they get everybody together in the whole office. They bring them all and they tell them exactly where the company is going, what’s happened. We got this contract, this just changed. But it gives everybody a sense that they care about them. So simple little things like that. I think if I was going to pick one thing, protecting others and really focusing on the trust and the loyalty with your workforce would be the place I would start.
Rob: Yeah, and without knowing what you’d said, I would agree that that would be…I mean, I was a fighter pilot for 11 years and what would be the impact if you don’t trust the person who was working on the engine, or the person talking to an air traffic controller, the person who packed the parachute in your ejection seat? If you don’t have that, what can you do? So I agree with you.
Mark: Yeah, I was going to say, I just heard another fighter pilot Waldo Walden last week saying the same thing. But, you know, just having your wingman there all the time is what makes it work.
Rob: Yeah, it’s exactly right. So here’s what I encourage our listeners, just go get The Four Commitments of a Winning Team. Read that, because obviously, there’s a lot more to it than we could cover on this podcast. It’s a fabulous book put together by someone who clearly has years and decades of experience in high performance habits and leadership, both on the court, off the court, and that’s very telling to me is what happens, you know, outside the profession or off the court, as you will.
Now, just as a fun question since we have just a few minutes left here, Mark. I love the book, I’m excited to read it. It’s going to be a book that I’ll finish by the end of this month. So I’m looking forward to it. If you had to look back at your NBA experience, because that’s a unique microcosm, it always fascinates people, what was one of your best memories from that entire experience? You know, your career in the NBA? What’s one or two of the experiences that really stood out to you and say, you know, those are one or two of the coolest things that happened to you while you’re in the NBA, and you’ll remember them the rest of your life?
Mark: You know, when you first get in the NBA, you’re trying to find your spot. Like, where do I fit, can I hang? You know, am I going to have a career? Am I just a one and done kind of guy? I remember my rookie season we were playing the Dallas Mavericks. I wasn’t starting at that time, but Frank was bringing me off the bench. He put me in the game in the second quarter, and I blocked like five shots and six minutes, something like that. I remember after the last one, I was running back up the court and I looked over and I saw the coaching staff all looking at each other and nodding, and I thought, “Okay, I can do this job.” That was one memory that really stood out for me.
I think the other was, you know, making the All-star team in 1989 and walking out on the court with, you know, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Jordan and Kevin McHale and Charles Barkley and everybody else. That was that was a real highlight for me. I remember being on the bus going from the hotel over to the arena for that game at the Astrodome and thinking to myself, “What the heck am I doing on this bus?” It was an extraordinary experience.
Then finally, I think the camaraderie that I had with my teammates was one of the most important things to me. There was a one year about 85 or so, we had a couple of old NBA veterans on our team. Billy Paulson, Rich Kelly, both guys have been around the ABA and the NBA for quite some time. And we’re these young guys, John Stockton and I and Bobby Hansen, Thurl Bailey. We’re eating at Denny’s and places like that. I mean, back then we all made like 40 grand. So these guys would say, no, no, no. Come on, we’re going to the Palm. I’m like, what’s the palm? And they go waltzing in this place because they knew how to eat, they knew all the restaurants and they liked to have a good time.
So sitting in there and having them bring out a 20 pound lobster or whatever it was, that just blew our minds. But that here, hanging out with those guys, especially after games, because they like didn’t know the bar on the main street. They knew the one that was like two streets over that the locals went to, and going and hanging out with them after games and stuff was just so much fun and built such camaraderie in terms of our team and how we felt about each other. Back to your point about, you know, what’s going on off the court, offline. Now, again, we lived with each other for seven months. But that feeling is something that’s so special to me. The reason I still love going and hanging out with my old coaches and running into people, you know, I mentioned Billy Paulson, I’m going to be speaking at Houston in a couple of weeks and he works down there, and I’m going to go track him down. Those are the most special experiences to me, because those guys are my friends and my teammates and, you know, we went out and di battle together on the court, and we hung out afterwards. It was just a great era of basketball and teamwork.
Rob: Well, that’s pretty fun. What cool memories. You know, you mentioned a few names there. Thurl Bailey and all these different people did. Carl Malone, John Stockton, went to the finals, you’re on the All-star team. Here’s one final question. You know, you’ve had these people that you’ve been associated with throughout your life, done amazing things and people sometimes tend to go their own ways after it’s all done. You had that JV coach who became your mentor and really launched you into this world? Do you still stay in touch with these people? If so, what does that relationship look like?
Mark: I do. So my coach, Tom Lubin, is his name from Cypress College. He was a chemistry professor there, who’s the one that coached me in junior college. I still stay in touch with him. I talk to him at least twice a week. He found a lot of other guys who he helped get back into basketball or to just get a college scholarship. A few went over to play overseas in Europe. But yeah, he’s like my big brother. He’s getting up there in years a little bit now but I still stay in touch with a lot of those guys.
It’s just those bonds that never go away. You know, I tell people, as you get a little bit older, your circle gets a little smaller and it’s amazing how many connections you have through the sport and other places that serve you well going forward in your life. And so I always tell people, don’t burn bridges. Even if you get fired or something happens, just maintain good relationships and keep the four commitments in mind because you never know, 10 or 15 years later you could be full circle and you could be right back in there with that same person again somewhere else?
Rob: Well, that’s the truth. Well, Mark, how could people find out more about you? Do you have a website they could go to?
Mark: I do. My website is 7ft4.com where you can find more about me and my book’s available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and other retailers. And obviously, social media as well, Mark Eaton 7ft4.
Rob: Yeah, and just to highlight when you say seven foot four, that’s the number seven and the number four. So the number “7 ft”, the number “4.dotcom”, right?
Mark: Right. Exactly.
Rob: Well, Mark it’s been a pleasure. You know, one of the things that stood out to me, I love the book, I’m going to read the book, encourage all our listeners to do that. Another one that was just very subtle, but very powerful and I hope everyone caught this, is the impact of one person, and this is one of the taglines we use at Becoming Your Best, that one person can make a difference. There’s a lot of self-doubt and people wonder internally, am I good enough? Can I do this? I’m sure that JV coach thought that many times internally, he maybe never voiced it. But the impact that he just had in your life, just his influence, and what the ripple effect from that has been. You know, without him, you may never have ended up in the NBA. This book may have never come about. That organization that has touched and influenced more than 3000 youth. So I just think, what would the alternate reality look like without certain people in our lives? The power in this is that we can be that one person in the lives of someone else. So I’m really glad you shared that. Thanks for the advice that you shared, Mark. Any parting comments or thoughts?
Mark: No, I think you hit it right on the head. I think it’s a two part equation that I had a coach who was willing to work with me, but I also at the same time said, “I’ll take this risk, I’ll try this.” Basketball is something that I failed at miserably and I didn’t really like it that much and yet at the same time, this coach’s commitment to me to say, “Look, if you want to do this, I’ll be here for you every morning and every evening and we’ll do this.” Didn’t want any money for it or anything else other than just wanted to share the knowledge he had and could see something in me that I didn’t see. So I think, that to me, is like you say that was the catalyst for the whole career and everything else that’s gone in my life. But I had to take that that risk and say, “Yes, I’ll give this a try.”
Rob: Absolutely. That’s a great parting thought. Well, Mark, it’s been a pleasure of visiting with you. Thank you and to all of our Becoming Your Best listeners and other listeners around the world, Mark Eaton’s book, The Four Commitments of a Winning Team and together we wish you a wonderful day and a great week.
Welcome to the Becoming Your Best podcast wherever you might be in the world today. This is Steve Shallenberger your host. This last week I had the honor and privilege of visiting in East Africa, in the country of Rwanda. And that is the subject of my visit together with you today, wherever you might be. I wish that we had had the opportunity to be together in person to visit about this subject. But I’d like to share with you the experience that I had, at least one aspect of the experience.
As you may know, in April of 1994, a terrible tragedy took place in the country of Rwanda. The seeds really came out of colonial powers that divided the nation up in two or three groups, major groups, the Hutus, the Tutsis, among others. These two groups became factions and not only factions, they vied for power, and over the decades one of those took power and started describing the others, the Tutsis, Hutus took power and described the Tutsis as a group of people that were not good for the country. As a matter of fact, they were a group of individuals that were of lower quality and that actually were individuals that were the enemy of the state. This is kind of the lying that took place, the storyline as the majority started classifying and launched a publicity campaign.
It was very interesting and what ultimately happened is very secretly, the Hutus set up an extermination plan to massacre the Tutsis and to eliminate the problem. Now, this is a terrifying set of circumstances that took place that we’ve seen other times in the history of the world and that we certainly need to fight against. And so this is what I want to talk about because what followed at that time in 1994 and that part of the year, was that the Hutus launched a terrible massacre of the Tutsis, killing over 1,100,000 in 100 days before it could be stopped.
It was very interesting because in Kigali in the capital of Rwanda today, there is a museum, the Genocide Museum that actually tells the story. And at that Museum, there are over 250,000 victims that are buried and honored on about a half an acre of property. It’s not very large at all. It’s interesting because this is a place where people can come from all over the world and learn more about this experience, what led up to it and how it was stopped. Families come to visit their loved ones there. Over 7000 complete families perished during that genocide and during that very few months. It’s a sobering experience.
It was interesting to see the different videos of survivors who did lose the vast majority of their family, and their parents and siblings are buried at the Genocide Museum and in the sacred grounds for them. They come to find peace, they come to find happiness as they visit with their family members. After the group that we were there, with the Young Presidents’ Organization, with other CEOs, their spouses, and some had children there. We then went to another part of the visitor center called the Reconciliation Village.
This is a very interesting place because it is to celebrate the fact that after General Paul Kagame came in with the rebel army to stop the genocide, that action took place to restore the peace and the health and the future of this country of which I’ll talk about in a moment. But the only way it could go forward, one of the elements was to find a reconciliation between the victims and those that perpetrated these crimes against humanity. So for one of the first times ever, the museum arranged for a village, a number of individuals from one of the villages where these attacks took place to come and meet with us in person.
There were about 35 to 40 individuals, men and women, and even their children that were there as part of this experience, to share their experience. Among the individuals that were there a woman by the name of Maria, a lovely woman who stood in a beautiful colorful dress. Maria described how six out of her nine children were slaughtered. And we could all feel the pain that she felt.
Then the next individual that was introduced, was sitting next to her and his name was Patrick. I’ve changed the name to protect him and his anonymity, was the one who did the killing. He explained that when the rebel forces came and stopped the killings, the rebel forces were led by the Tutsis. Of course, the Hutus feared their future and what might happen to them. I might add that as Patrick explained this, he explained the background on how he was a young man and how he approached this. Well, he was put in prison. He remained in prison for five years. He pointed out that what happened is, he just didn’t feel like it was wrong, because he saw the Tutsis as the enemy. He saw them, he was taught that they were a threat to his existence and he just didn’t realize that it was wrong. The Tutsis were not only a threat, but the solution was to kill all of the Tutsis and exterminate them. It was like he explained going to work. They actually taught them how to be efficient at killing and that they learned how to kill 1000 people within 20 minutes.
And as he set in prison, he realized the horror of what he did. And the approach that Paul Kagame and the other leaders took is that they wanted to bring these people back into society, into the Rwandan society, because, and this is the part I’ll talk about in a moment, but they had set a vision for the future, for a future of hope for all Rwandans, and that they’d no longer be Hutus or no longer be Tutsis but they would all be Rwandans. He set a bold vision for the year 2020, of having a safe country, a unified country, a country on the move, a country that was happy. That built upon this legacy and turn this terrible experience into a motivation for success and prosperity in the future of cherishing life.
So as Patrick started understanding this, he understood the huge mistake that he had made. And so part of that coming out of prison and getting back into the society is that these perpetrators that participated in the killings, would go back to the village that they came from, to people they had killed their relatives and they would ask for forgiveness. So this is what took place. As Patrick went back to their common community and asked forgiveness from Maria for killing her six children and many others. He repented and she forgave. Today, they are friends, and he is an enormous help to her and her family and their community. To many this process is somewhat incomprehensible, but for Rwanda, it was the vision forward to heal a country. They had no other way forward.
And so what we were given the opportunity to ponder, were the many different elements and deep rooted factors of love, of forgiveness, of what it would take to move forward, to heal. This is how it has gone for Rwanda because indeed, they have turned their country around. They have found a way to bond together to move forward. So as we visited with the 35 individuals from that village, they were all victims or perpetrators of the genocide and now working side by side to build their country. Wow, what a great example for all of us. That gave us much to contemplate of what you and I can do individually to make a better world. Of how can we get on with things and start focusing on the big problems that are in front of us together, even though there may be a great divide between us. This shows that it can be done,
We had other activities in Rwanda, as we went and visited the countryside and visited some of the villages, went into the homes of some of the Rwandans. And by the way, across the board, this spirit that I just talked about, is universal within Rwanda. We’ll talk about the President and the standard and inspiration that he set in just a moment as I indicated. But I’d like to talk about a couple of experiences that we had traveling to the exterior areas in Rwanda, and particularly about two of the drivers that we had that we were with for a day each.
The first one is John Paul. John Paul is a tall, good looking young man and as a young boy, during this period of the genocide, he was ushered into a chapel with 4000 other fellow Tutsis. That day, the perpetrators started throwing grenades into the chapel and out of the 4000, 11 survived. Among them was John Paul, he was one of the 11. Today, you can still see the shrapnel scars in different parts of his head and neck. That day, both of his parents and three of his siblings were killed. John Paul described how he forgave and how he moved on. He’s a wonderful inspiration as he’s moving forward, he’s gaining an education, he has a great job. He’s an expert chauffeur, I might add.
The second one was a fellow by the name of Cebu. He’s probably 30 years old today, maybe he’s 34. The genocide happened about 24 years ago. Next year will be the 25th anniversary. His dad was killed, his uncles, other members of his family. He described to us how over all of these years he’s been so unhappy. And then he described that six months ago, he was finally able to forgive the perpetrators and to understand this better. And he shared that from the very moment he was able to do that, of how everything shifted in his life and how happy and at peace that he is today.
Now, I mentioned that I would talk about Paul Kagame. Paul was the general of the force that came in, that restored peace that stopped the killings. Just think about this because he was in a position to do great harm to the Hutus and literally wipe them out, but Paul Kagame is an extraordinary leader, he’s a becoming your best leader. He does these 12 principles that we’ve talked about. He has learned to apply those in his life, and he eventually became the President of Rwanda. Now, if during that time you became the President of Rwanda, what would you do if you were the leader of this deeply traumatized, rudderless nation, totally destroyed? Their heart was taken away.
Well, what Paul Kagame did is what great leaders of humanity, over the history of mankind have done and that was that he set a vision for the future. He led with a vision. They call it the vision 2020 and as I explained just a few minutes ago, it was to have a happy, unified, productive, successful Rwanda with a future for everyone. The young people, middle age and the older. No Tutsis, no Hutus, all Rwandans. That they would build a strong economy to help provide a future for their people. That they would have a safe, secure, honest country. And that they would rise out of the ashes to create this type of a base for the people and so that they could be hard working and happy and that is exactly what Rwanda is today. It’s the second fastest growing economy in the African continent. It’s the fifth safest nation to be in in the entire world. You can walk really anywhere there 24/ 7 and not fear for your safety. This is a country on the move.
The people of Rwanda are building upon their past to cherish life and make the most of their opportunity today, and they’re taking the good and making it a great future. They’re highly focused on building the infrastructure of their country, of providing an educational opportunity, of having a favorable business climate so businesses can come in. It’s a safe place. This is what Rwanda has become today and it is an extraordinary credit to their President Paul Kagame. I appreciate the example that he set.
We had the opportunity on this trip to meet with him for 90 minutes. He already has had a copy of the book Becoming Your Best: The 12 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders. Rob and I had the opportunity to visit at his White House about three years ago. He shared that I’m glad to have somebody else in this country talking about Becoming Your Best. He said, I’m not sure that people hear me anymore. Well, that’s not really correct, because they clearly hear him and adore him as a leader. I had the opportunity to also present to him our second book, The Transformation Challenge, which is how you manage through change and how do you take your good and make it better, and your better, best. So it was really fun being with him.
We had the opportunity to ask questions. One of the questions that I asked him was that, they’ve done a great job in getting their country back on track and to no a small amount to their vision of 2020. Everybody really knows about the vision of 2020, and so I asked him, now so you’re getting very close, we’re in 2018 now, halfway through the year and so we’re close to 2020, what’s next? What do you have stirring in the pot for a new vision in the future?
It was great because he looked right back and he said, we’re now working on our vision for 2050. Now, I love that. They’re going to set up some intermediate checkpoints and they understand that it’s not just the vision. They also have a plan of how to achieve that vision. So they are setting up now an inspiring vision for 2050 of where they want to be as a country. It’s great to see this kind of leadership in play. I did mention to him, I said that’s great because in 2050, I’ll be 100 years old and I can’t wait to come back and see how it’s going. This is great.
Well as we ended up this visit, we had the opportunity to sit back and reflect with the other attendees. One of our groups, Emery mentioned Rupa Janga who is from Rwanda. He said, it’s very interesting, because bad leadership produces bad results and he said, good leadership produces good results. Then I’ve been thinking about Emery’s comments, and I’d like to just take that a little further that bad, corrupt and evil leadership produces bad, corrupt and evil results. We’ve seen that in the past history of what can happen. And this starts if we think about these 12 principles of highly successful leaders. The first one is to be true to character. Well, what kind of character? Well, that’s character built upon timeless principles, principles that are good and right, they’re correct principles. And when leaders focus on correct principles, they don’t get off track and commit these heinous crimes that do not succeed, that are not sustainable, that with time will be overturned.
So these are things that can impact this type of bad leadership, an entire nation with terror and intimidation, inhumane treatment of others, labeling. One of the labels they gave the Tutsis, the Hutus did back when they perpetrated this, is that they defined them as snakes. And whenever you see a Tutsi, look in their eyes, and you’ll see snake eyes. In other words, they’re actually dehumanizing these people and making them into something else. They’re classifying others as inferior, that they should be exterminated and to perpetrate this. Well, that’s not good leadership because it’s not sustainable and it hurts people and it kills organizations and countries I might add. It’s such a waste of humanity and all that we stand for.
On the other hand, good leadership, highly successful leadership stands up for what is right, and that is character. What is right are basing your character on these timeless principles. And so this is a prime example of why all of the 12 principles becoming your best are vital and work together. Alone, each is important, but they are insufficient. It’s how they work together, along with the other 11 principles that creates a transformation of sustainable excellence, ultimately, of good. In the absence of practicing these 12 principles comes misery, pain, and sometimes tragedy and death, as in the case of Nazi Germany and Rwanda and there are many other examples unfortunately, over history of this type of leadership.
Leadership is standing up against of what is wrong, regardless of the peer pressure. It is being true to yourself of right, of knowing what is right and wrong. I love the quote in Shakespeare, “To thine own self be true. And as the day follows night, thou canst not do wrong under any person.” Wow. Well, even in our politics today in the United States, it seems to me it is far too uncivil. We can have differences of opinions, but to ceaselessly call one another names, to point fingers, to blame, and condemn doesn’t help us to get to a better place and solve the complex problems before us today. So it seems to me, if we could all figure out how to stand up regardless of what party we belong to, or what persuasion and insist on being more civil, regardless of what the other people do, we can get to a better place. And it doesn’t mean we can’t have strong opinions, because we can. But when we are committed to applying these type of principles to get to a better place, we will.
In the meantime, it’s so hard when we get slowed down by constant bickering, focusing on personalities and other things. Again, this is not about any particular party, it is that about how we do things. There are other places in the world that even today are far more desperate that require individual and collective leadership, it is our only hope. So as we apply these kind of principles that we’ve been discussing today, that there’s a way forward, we can tell you what these key things are and we can look at these. They’re based on many years of research of what has caused success over the eons of time. As we do this, patiently, steadily, persistently, these principles will produce a predictable result and in the moment that is least expected, even a glorious, wonderful result, it has always, it has ever been so, that the good will win out.
So it has been great leadership that’s working towards building a great nation, a company, a team, a home and even your life. If things have gone south, you can turn them around. If there is a bad situation, you can improve it and work to make it better. It is the defining force of leadership, of great leadership that will define a great future. That is the defining difference. It is this unique thing that each one of us can develop within us, within you.
I hope that this podcast message of genocide, leadership and reconciliation may have sparked a resolve in you, as it has in me. The impact that an individual may have, regardless of how small or simple, minute or insignificant it may appear, that you can make a difference. Every day, may you and I remember that we have the opportunity to make this type of a positive difference. We can forgive, we can have a unilateral behavior of setting a higher course, of setting that vision in our own lives, of setting a plan of how to execute, of how we treat other people unilaterally not dependent upon how they treat us. How to create innovation by tying in to the good of other people, of recognizing the good of other people, of taking responsibility and never giving up. These powerful principles make all the difference in the world.
May we each be inspired, as we work in becoming our best, to stand anchored to these principles, to make good, better and our better, best. That’s what you can do. That’s what I can do. Wishing each one of you today, a great day. This is Steve Shallenberger, your host
Rob: Alright, welcome back Becoming Your Best podcast listeners, this is your host Rob Shallenberger. We hope you’re having a fabulous day wherever you are. The truth is, whether you are or not, the hope is that this podcast will help lift you and make today a better day than it already is in that spirit of good, better, best. So we have a cool guest on today. Her name is Karen and I’m going let her introduce herself a little bit more.
But here’s just a brief background on Karen. She is what we call an ultra-athlete. In other words, she’s done the Ironman triathlon and I’ll let her share a little bit about what that means. But first of all, I tip my hat to anyone who has done the Ironman. The most I’ve done is a little sprint triathlon and that was enough to test me on my swim capability. So my hats off to anyone who’s done a full Ironman Triathlon. She has a very cool background and experience as far as in the corporate world, doing a lot of different things, helping leaders, developing leaders. So with that being said, Karen, welcome to the show and maybe give us, if you don’t mind, just a little bit of background on who you are for our listeners, if that’s all right.
Karen: Yeah. Hey, thanks Rob for having me on. I am thrilled to be here. It really is a show that I love and a topic that is one of my favorites, becoming your best self, good, better, best. So my background is for 28 years, I was outwardly successful in business, starting in commercial real estate, and climbing the corporate ladder, becoming an executive. Was a successful business coach to my team members during that time and to put this in perspective, this is before business coaching was even a thing, right? That wasn’t even a thing back then. Nobody had a business coach. You were just a good leader and you built your team and it was largely true either mentoring or coaching.
So I was good at that. Although I did find that, in some instances, there was a barrier that didn’t seem to get to be able to get past and at the same time, I was climbing the corporate ladder and outwardly successful. I had a lifelong dream to compete in the Ironman World Championships as an amateur athlete. I held myself back during that 28 year period, as all of us do with various things, especially dreams like this, through something called limiting beliefs. Limiting beliefs are, they live in the unconscious mind and they go just like this, when we say, “Well, I don’t have enough money, time, talent, support,” whatever, “to achieve that.”
And for me specifically, I would always think, “Well, the folks that compete in the Ironman World Championships are elite and I am a recreational athlete, so I couldn’t possibly compete,” and then boom, with the snap of a finger, that dream would just evaporate. Then every year, I would see coverage of the Ironman World Championships again. I thought it was by coincidence, but I know it’s not because this was my destiny and it was also my gateway to living my purpose in life and understanding what that was.
So I would just catch the coverage and be emotionally moved to tears every time. The reason is, because I saw that as perhaps, you know, thinking to myself, “What if I have what it takes inside of me to do that and I’m not tapping into it? What if I’m just living this safe, small life only doing things that I know I can do, that I know I can achieve,” which is essentially what I was doing. You know, when I thought about and saw the Ironman World Championships, it stirred up something really deep inside. What I later discovered was that you know, it was my unconscious mind just trying to keep me safe because that’s really how our unconscious mind works.
Once I came to understand that limiting beliefs are a scientific thing and that then there’s a scientific key to being able to conquer and transform them, I went all in on pursuing the Ironman World Championships at age 44. And because I kind of backed into and discovered the power of using your unconscious mind and these scientific keys, I achieved that dream in two short years and it opened up my entire life. I discovered my purpose, you know, what my destiny is, and took steps to be able to step into that and live it every day.
Rob: Again, like I said in the beginning, hats off to you, Karen for doing that because so impressive. You know, one of the most inspirational experiences I’ve had is when we’re in Sydney, Australia, at a large conference and while we were there, we attended the Asian Pacific Championship Ironman triathlon. We just went to the finish line and watched people cross the finish line after 9, 10, 11 hours. I’ll tell you what, for any of our listeners, if you’re ever feeling a little low on motivation, if you’re ever feeling like you’re in a little bit of a funk, go to the finish line of a marathon or go to the finish line of a triathlon and watch people cross the finish line. You almost can’t help but be inspired because, you know, you’re talking about limiting beliefs and removing these. It’s one thing when you watch the first place finishers cross because they usually look pretty good. I mean, they cross the finish line and they just walk around.
But when you’re staying there at the 11 and 12 hour mark, a triathlon, and you’re watching people that have thrown their heart and soul into it and they’re dragging themselves across the finish line, man, it is moving. It’s almost tear jerking moving, because you’re seeing people overcome something that many of them at some point didn’t know if they could ever do. Pretty awesome. I relate to what you’re saying there, Karen, as far as that experience of overcoming limiting beliefs, which ties into your book that you released Unlimiting Your Beliefs and I believe it’s The Seven Keys to Greater Success In Your Personal and Professional Life. Is that right?
Karen: Yeah, that’s right.
Rob: And maybe tell us a little bit about what that is. Why would that apply to our listeners? I mean, you’ve had this experience you’ve gone through personally. What’s in the book? And then maybe we can get into some of those keys.
Karen: Yeah, absolutely. So I wrote the book, because during this two year journey to actually achieve this lifelong dream that I had, I discovered, like I said, the power of the unconscious mind, and specifically these seven keys that lead to greater success in your personal and professional life and they’re scientifically proven. So it’s not just, you know, me and my story. You know, “Hey, why don’t you try this maybe it’ll work for you.” These live in our unconscious mind and our unconscious mind is responsible for driving the majority of our thoughts and actions every day. In fact, it might be helpful for your listeners to know this statistic. Your conscious mind only comprises point 0.008% of all of our decisions and actions that we take every day. The rest comes straight from your unconscious mind.
For the sake of our conversation today, let’s just define the unconscious to be the same thing as the subconscious. Because I get that question a lot. Is the subconscious the same as the unconscious? Without getting really scientific, for the sake of this conversation with, let’s just say the two mean the same thing. It’s really, you know, the things that you do, sort of unconsciously, unknowingly. When I realized this, you know, through discovering it in that two year journey, and then I wanted to know more. Like, I wanted to become a master of this area. So I studied cognitive psychology and got internationally certified and did research and a lot more study. I really wanted to know all that I could about this area.
What I found was that this is the good news. Like, once we understand how our unconscious mind works, then we can make the changes that we want to make. We can, you know, make it work better for us because the main reason that I wrote the book and want to share it with everyone is that limiting beliefs, I see, are the number one thing that hold all of us back from what we really want. Whether it’s in our personal or professional or both lives. And once we understand how to work with that system, and how that system works, honestly, we can transform limiting beliefs into unlimiting and achieve anything and everything we want.
You know, there are many, many examples of this throughout history. I mean, if you look at any top achiever out there, whether they knew this or not, they were harnessing the power of the unconscious mind and unlimiting their beliefs. You know, our current day, if you look at the inventor of Tesla or Oprah Winfrey, or Ellen DeGeneres, I mean, just anybody that you can point to, Elon Musk, Richard Branson, anybody that you can point to that we consider an icon of achievement, this is what they’ve done.
Rob: Yeah, without a doubt, I agree with you. And as, as many of our listeners know, because they’ve been in our Becoming Your Best seminars, there’s this topic that comes up of neuro plasticity. You know obviously what this is. I’ve heard a fair number of people say, throughout time, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. In other words, that’s just who I am. I can’t change it. We know now that that’s just not true. That people can change. Now, it comes easier for some than it does for others, we get that.
But it’s true, we can change our beliefs and this programming. It is kind of like a computer. From the time we were young, we’ve taken these comments from our parents, our teachers, our friends, we’ve internalized them. In many cases, that’s where we get our beliefs from. And it’s also what limits us many times. So what, first of all, Karen, are the seven keys? So maybe you could briefly articulate the seven keys, and then choose one or two of them that you think would be the most impactful. If you just had a few minutes with someone what could you share? You know, which key or what would you share with them in just a few minutes that would really have a big impact in someone’s life? So maybe, let’s start first, what are the seven keys? Just briefly list those if that’s all right, and then what’s one or two, that would really have a big impact in someone’s life.
Karen: Absolutely. And I’ll even go one step further. The main key in the book which is, you know, conquer limiting beliefs, I can actually walk listeners through in two minutes, the scientific technique on how to do that with the information that I’ll give at the end of the show. There’s some tools that I’m giving to your listeners totally free should. Keep it to yourself. No, actually share it with everybody. So your listeners will have everything that they need to really get started and to transform their limiting beliefs.
So the seven keys are, conquer limiting beliefs, number one. Number two, is tap into the dream. Number three is, know discipline. That is a play on words but you may have to pick up the book to understand what that means. It’s very powerful and appropriate in today’s society. The next one is, do whatever it takes and schedules, equals goals. The next one is, make a decision and verbalization. Number six is hire a coach. And number seven is, hit your goals, enjoy the victory, set new goals and dream again.
Rob: Yeah, I love those. First of all, before you get into them and I don’t know if you’re familiar with what we did, Karen, as our background, but we’ve had 40 years of research into what sets apart great leaders and high performers, and what makes them different from everyone else. As you listed several of those, they’re very much tied into some of those 12 principles that you see over and over. So that answer doesn’t surprise me at all. Some very powerful things that you just mentioned. Maybe let’s walk through that little two minute activity or exercise. It sounds like it’d be fun. And let’s try it.
Karen: Yeah, great. And just to tag on to what you said there about your 40 years of research and the principles that you’ve identified, I love them and I can see how they work really well. This is the main reason I was so excited to be on your show is because the information that is presented in my book and the keys really is a great support to the principles that you’re bringing to light for everyone, you know, that you found in research. So these two things go hand in hand. In fact, I think, you know, these precepts makes carrying out your principles, even easier, even faster, and even more sustainable.
So let’s hit it. So here is how you conquer limiting beliefs. This works best when you actually write this down. So for anyone that might be listening in the car, please don’t, you know, try to write this down as you’re driving. Maybe, you know, listen to the podcast again, when you get to your destination and you’re in a position to write this down. But writing things down and journaling, which is you know, one of the reasons why journaling is so effective is because it is a doorway into the unconscious mind.
So first thing we’re going to do is just take out a regular piece of paper or you can write this in your journal. This is one of the tools that I’ll offer at the end. I actually have a document that you can use for this, but you can also use a regular piece of paper or regular journal page. So let’s just begin there. We’re going to begin with a question because I’m often asked, “Well, what if I don’t even know, you know, what limiting beliefs are holding me back?” Because some people do know them. I mean, I carried around mine for 28 years. So I was really well acquainted with it. But some people aren’t as familiar or don’t know, what is a limiting belief?
So we’ll start with a question to uncover that. And that question is this, just write this on the top of your page. What is holding me back from achieving my dream? Just fill in whatever your dream or your goal is? Okay, what’s holding me back from achieving that? And here’s the thing, at first, you know until you’re kind of used to asking yourself, your unconscious mind, these questions, because, believe me, the unconscious mind has the answers. But until you’re used to that, and it’s probably a new habit for our listeners, until you’re used to it, your reactionary answer, it’s probably going to be, I don’t know.
So keep asking the question. This is why it’s important to, you know, be sitting down and doing this with a piece of paper, and probably good idea to turn off your phone and turn off other notifications from other devices so that you’re just in a distraction free environment so that you can really ask this question and listen to what bubbles up for you. Because like I said, these answers are all in your unconscious mind, all you have to do is ask the question, and then it’s going to harness, it’s going to ignite your unconscious mind into, “Oh, okay, they want to know the answer to this. Here it is.”
So ask yourself that question and just write down whatever pops into your brain. That is usually the right answer. Don’t overthink it, don’t marketing spin it or write down something that you think you should. Just whatever is the first thing that pops into your mind. And maybe several things pop in. Here’s where the next step in the technique comes in. Every limiting belief that you come up with, every answer that comes to your mind, write those down on the left hand side of the page and just jot them down, capture them exactly how they flow into your mind. Now what I found in doing this is, I thought I just had that one limiting belief. “Well, they’re elite athletes and I’m a recreational athlete, so I couldn’t possibly compete there.” What I found is that I had a whole page of limiting beliefs that were also holding me back. It wasn’t until I went through this exercise that I uncovered those.
So make an exhaustive list. Keep asking that question until you really have no additional answers. Then the next part is, go back up to the first one on the left hand side of the page and in the right hand margin write the exact opposite of that limiting belief. So for me, I wrote, I will compete in the Ironman World Championships. And then I took each one after that, and wrote the complete opposite on the right hand side to the page. This is the unlimiting version of that limiting belief.
Now comes the really fun part, which is changing the habit, it’s changing that habitual thought pattern that you talked about a moment ago, Rob, which is, and this is why we write this down, take this list with you, capture it on your phone if you need to, this is a good reason to use this in a journal format. Because if you carry your journal with you, you have it with you. The point is, you’ve now created a higher level of awareness by writing these things down and getting them out of your mind. And then we’ve got to change this thought pattern when it happens in the moment.
So carry this list with you and when you notice, you are thinking those limiting beliefs, stop what you’re doing and actually verbalize the opposite or the unlimiting version of that belief. So it goes exactly like this. As I was going through my day, I would notice that I would have that limiting belief about the Ironman and I would literally stop what I was doing and I would say, “I will compete in the Ironman World Championships.” That is a really effective, quick way to rewire those habitual thoughts. Because think about it, if I’ve thought this for 28 years, that is my unconscious mind thought pattern. That’s its go-to, that’s its default. So if I want to actively change that, I have to do just that, I have to actively change it.
At first, listeners, it’s going to feel contrived, like you’re talking yourself into it. And you know what, you are. You’re talking your unconscious mind into what you want to do, what you want it to believe, and to take action on for you. Or to help you take action on. So the first day, yeah, it might be a little rough and you’re going to be doing this a lot because what you’re coming to understand is how many times a day these limiting beliefs actually go through your mind. I guarantee you, it’s far more than you’re aware of right now. Every day after that, it’s going to get easier. They’re going to happen less and less and over time you’re going to eradicate them, you’re going to transform them.
Then the cool thing that happens is, you’ll also start to be able to visualize what it is you want to achieve. You know, for me, I would be able to visualize what it would look, feel and sound like to be in Hawaii, and to be, you know, swimming in the ocean with the other competitors, and to be riding my bike up to Havi and making the turnaround. And then what it would be like to run on the Queen K and the furnace is present when you’re there doing that. And hear what the finish line sounded like two miles away. You know, at 10:45 at night, when I was finally running down Alii drive. You know, what the air felt like on my skin and what it felt like to be crossing that finish line and to be an Ironman.
That’s the other thing that happened from that visualization is, it starts to become your identity. Because you can see yourself doing it, you feel what it’ll feel like, you hear what it’ll sound like, your unconscious mind says, “Okay, well, we are that then. That’s who we are now.” Then it becomes easier and easier for you to do whatever it takes, which is the fourth key in the book, you know, which is my case was three workouts a day, six days a week. You know, doing all the things that it would take me to get there. But it seems so much easier because I was tied in with these keys and the power of my unconscious mind.
Rob: Well, first of all, Karen, that was fabulous. So thank you, I typed up those questions and I’m going to do that myself later today. We’re on a drive, it’s going to be a two hour drive and we’re flying to New York tomorrow. We’re dropping our kids off at the in-laws and I’m going to do this with my wife on the drive. So I’m looking forward to that.
Rob: Just to support what you said, and I know there’s different studies from different people and, you know, statistics can say whatever we want them to say. But nonetheless, there’s a couple statistics that I have seen and I believe them to be fairly close and in the ballpark. That is, the average person will have 40, and I’m going to support some of the things you said here, the average person will have 40,000 to 50,000 internal conversations with themselves per day. The average adult, 70% of their thoughts tend to be negative. You know, there’s a couple of quotes, whether you think you can or you can’t, you’ll probably be right.
Karen: Yes, that’s one of my favorite.
Rob: What my friend Thomas Blackwell says is, what we think about is what we bring about. So what you’re really doing here is, and it’s actually one more that’s really critical, and you’ve mentioned it and you said it was critical, and I agree, and that is that writing it down is an absolute essential part of this. I know there will be people listening to this who say, you know what, I’ll just do this in my mind. I would think you would agree with me that that doesn’t work. There’s something about writing that unlocks a part of the brain that otherwise will stay dormant.
Rob: The subconscious, and we’re talking about accessing an area that we sometimes put some blocks around. It’s not until we start writing this down, that we can really access it and thinking alone about it is good, but that typically won’t do it or even approach anywhere as to what writing it down on paper actually does.
Karen: Absolutely right. Yes, it is a direct doorway into opening up the unconscious mind. And it’s not the same, that same doorway is really not there if you just think about this silently. It doesn’t do the same thing.
Rob: Yeah, Amen to that. You know, this has been great. I invite all of our listeners to actually do this today, and an access and see what’s in there and where we’ve been limiting ourselves because 100% of human beings are subject to this. No one is exempt from limiting beliefs. We get it as we mentioned at the beginning of the podcast from teachers, you know, well-meaning parents who say things that we lock away in our subconscious and then that leads us a certain direction. So we all have these limiting beliefs. It impacts our lives in many ways that we may or may not even realize. So I’m looking forward to doing the same thing this afternoon, Karen and I appreciate that. Prior to jumping on the podcast, you said that you had some things that you could give to our listeners. So what could you offer to our listeners that would help them? Do you have a website, social media, anything like that?
Karen: Yeah, you know what, we make it really easy to pick up these free tools that we give just to your listeners and for you to be able to take these tools and use them right away. You know, it’s plug and play. So if you go to Velocity, which is the name of my company, velocityleadershipconsulting.com/byb, short for becoming your best, then you can pick these up. What we’ve got for you is really cool. Oh my gosh, I get excited about this every time I talk about it, because these are so readily usable and so valuable. Honestly, I’m giving you the best stuff for free. So go get it.
So the first thing is a playlist of five really short videos. I mean, we’re talking micro short, these are under two minutes each, of how to use these unconscious mind techniques. So the seven keys that I talked about before, I’ve offered five videos on how to utilize these techniques. Unlimiting your beliefs that we just went through was one of them. Then the form that I talked about is a document to capture your limiting beliefs, and then transform them into unlimiting, that’s on there.
So literally, you can just go today, after you listen to the podcast and plug into these and start to open these things up and achieve whatever it is that you want. Then also, there’s a link to the book because there’s a lot more detail and science in the book about how to do these things and how they will work for you. And then, there’s also a link to my website and you can set up a live chat with me if you’d like to.
Rob: Yeah, well, thank you, first of all, for offering that to our listeners and I hope that everyone that is listening will take advantage of that. So can you say one more time? Karen, please the website so that we all have it again?
Karen: Yes, absolutely, velocity, so V-E-L-O-C-I-T-Y, leadershipconsulting.com/byb.
Rob: Perfect. Well, that’s awesome. So I hope that our listeners will take advantage of those. I’m extremely confident they would be helpful. They’re very aligned with what are predictive of success. Karen, it’s been an honor to have you on the show. I cannot believe that 27 minutes has flown by just like that. So any parting comments? Any thoughts, Karen, as we wrap up?
Karen: Yes, I would say, based on what you and I have both shared here and confirmed, you know, the science of how people’s minds work and specifically with what you shared at the tail-end of this interview about, you know, 70% of an adult’s thoughts are negative every day, and so on. That’s absolutely true. I urge listeners to, first of all, conquer and transform your limiting beliefs because that is the biggest opener to your life and to the success you’re meant to have, and fulfillment and happiness. Second of all, go big. Like, if you are thinking about doing anything, I would say that your natural unconscious mind tendency is going to be, you know, keep you safe and think about things in a realistic fashion. Realistic is one of my least favorite words. I think we should eradicate it, remove it from our vocabulary, because it’s so detrimental.
So I would say to the listeners think big. You know, go for the biggest, scariest, most outrageous, ridiculous dream that you can think of. Because that will be such an expansive opener for every part of your life that it will blow your hair back. It will be amazing for you. So instead of, you know, keeping it safe and small and real, go big and crazy and outrageous.
Rob: That’s awesome. I love it. It makes me want to jump up out of my chair. Well, Karen, thank you so much for being on the Becoming Your Best podcast. We’re grateful that you’ve taken the time to do this. You’re doing some awesome things. And again, I encourage our listeners to go there, urge you to do that. Just a reminder for all of our listeners, coming up in September is the Breakthrough Entrepreneur conference for those of you that have a business or something you’re trying to grow. If you also want to come to the Breakthrough Leadership Conference, we’ve been getting numerous emails about those dates, that’s in October. Go to the website becomingyourbest.com for the dates. Some of the questions we’ve had recently are, is this something you can send team members to if you have an up and coming leader in your organization, or could you even send a mature teenager? The answer is yes to all of those.
So go to the website, look at the dates and if you have team members, or you would like to come, make sure you register because those will fill up and sell out here in the near future. So again, Karen, thank you so much for being on the show. We appreciate you and remember that one person can make a difference. Now let’s go out and have a great week.
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