Rob: All right, welcome back to our Becoming Your Best podcast listeners, this is Rob Shallenberger your host for today and we welcome you from wherever you’re at in the world. We have an exciting guest today and this is going to be kind of a weird reverse interview almost. We have with us on the podcast today, Alan Taylor, who I’ve had a chance to get to know at a more personal level which is always nice because I can tell you that Alan is a truly genuine, amazing human being that has impacted, and it’s not understate it, millions of lives. I’ll just give you a little bit of a background on him. You know, there’s things that we don’t tend to say about ourselves. And he’s just a very humble person, but he’s had a pretty amazing career along the way. He is currently the host of Entrepreneur Weekly. It’s a weekly show for Entrepreneur Magazine. He also has his own show called The Drive with Alan Taylor, which is featured on more than 100 different radio stations around the country, it’s on Saturday morning.
So really, I mean, he’s reaching thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people on a weekly and monthly basis. He’s working with Motor Trend, Car and Driver magazine, which I know many of us have heard of. More than all of this, you know more of all the things that you see on the front, we had the chance to meet Alan for dinner at Snowbird Ski Resort just a couple of weeks ago and it was so fun to connect on a personal level with someone and say, you know, truly like I said, what an amazing human being both on the outside and really on the inside. So I’m confident Alan’s going to have some good things for us today on our show that can make an impact in our business, our lives. And with that being said, Alan, welcome.
Alan: Thank you, Rob. Appreciate that. I hope so, right?
Rob: I’ve got to tell you, Alan, you’ve got to at least hit one of these buttons. At some point we’re going to get our show to the point where I have all of these buttons like this, but he’s got…
Alan: Wait a minute you mean this one.
Rob: See that’s what we’re talking about right there. He’s got all of these sound effects that he can whip up at a moment’s notice and at some point we’ll get to that to that level on this show. Well Alan if you don’t mind just give them a nutshell version on a little bit more about your background. You know, where you’ve been. You have a lot of experience and if you don’t mind just share with us the nutshell background on you so that they can get a little better feel for who you are.
Alan: Well, I was born in Houston, Texas, should I go that far back?
Rob: As far as you want to go?
Alan: I’ll start there because I’ll zip through it. There’s five kids in my family. My mom and dad are 90 and 87. They’ve been married 65 years.
Alan: I think the youngest of us is 53 and the oldest is 63, I think somewhere in that range. We moved to California, Southern California, in like 1962, so I don’t really know, you know, ever living in Texas. My sister although lives in Texas now and loves it. But really, I grew up in Southern California and I grew up on the beach. My dad loved the ocean. He was kind of the old man of the sea. My dad is a bit of a guru. He’s written all kinds of books on self-help. His most famous one is How Your Mind Can Keep You Well. But he’s written 22 books. So I grew up with a guru of a dad. As a matter of fact, my friends, when I moved to Oregon in 1980, the friends that I met in local Oregon, in 80 if you remember, there was the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh that was going on here.
Rob: Well, I’ve got to say, you asked if I remembered Alan, I was five years old at that point.
Alan: Yeah well, you may have not remembered. You were my age. Anyway, the friends that I made in town used to call me the Bhagwan. They literally, because my dad was this guru from California that moved to Oregon. The reason why we moved to Oregon is because my dad bought John Wayne’s ranch after John Wayne died.
Rob: So awesome.
Alan: And he always wanted a ranch. He wanted a place we could do lectures and things. But I grew up under this this very interesting character that came from England to America in like the early 50s with only 100 bucks to his name. He was a diamond cutter. So he was a hardcore entrepreneur and here I work for Entrepreneur Magazine, I’m the voice of the magazine right now. And so to be the son of an entrepreneur, a person who was in search of the meaning of life. You know, in those days he was living in a travel trailer traveling around. He would go cut diamonds in a jewelry store window. So in New York City and Chicago and Houston. Well, then he met this cute little gal from Alabama, and of course my dad’s British, so now if you realize my dad has the British accent and my mom is from Alabama, talks like this, you can imagine how confusing that would be to a young guy growing up with those two characters.
So my dad is a hardcore entrepreneur. I mean, he came to America with, you know, just a couple of nickels to rub together and made his way through being an entrepreneur, taking pictures of kids and selling them to the parents. He sold furniture. I mean, my dad’s stories are that he did whatever it took to get along and ended up having five kids with this little gal from Alabama. I’m number four.
And so having a dad that is an entrepreneur changed my life. I didn’t know any other way. So when I when in high school, I was already working on cars with my buddies. I learned how to paint cars. So when I got out of high school, I went straight into ROTC to learn the trade of painting cars. I’m 58 years old, I spent 40 years…My 40th high school reunion was just last weekend. I spent 40 years playing around and working on cars, but being just like my dad. It wasn’t just cars that I could make money on. I did make money on cars, but I had to do whatever else it took. You know, buying and selling real estate, buying and selling even airplanes. Whatever it took I was willing to do. I was always willing to do, Rob, the worst job. I would do whatever the worst job was because nobody else wanted to do it and I’m like, I’ll do it. To me I always figured, to whom much is given much is expected.
Alan: So I know that no matter, when they say, “Who wants to do this job?” And nobody raises their hand. I look around, I go, “I’ll do it.” That’s actually served me well, because people are like, “You know, that guy will do anything.” So that was one of my traits I got from my dad.
The other one was, since we do radio, we live by the clock, right? Because you’ve got to be on time. If you’re on radio, you’ve got to take your commercial breaks on time, you’ve got to be thoughtful of timing. Timing in life is the same way. So I’ve learned how to get up early. What is the old saying? Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. I believe that. The other one that I learned when I was a young kid, sticks and stones will break your bones, but words will never harm you unless you let them.
Alan: So I learned how to not react when people would make fun of me. You know, my dad would always teach me, you know, don’t worry about it. Let it roll off your back like water off a duck’s back. And I remember all these little sayings and I love my dad, he’s a wise man. I went to dinner with you and your dad, I know you love your dad too.
Alan: We are very fortunate to have great fathers and that is as we know, what is such a missing element in so many homes for so many young men and women these days, is they didn’t grow up with a noble dad. They didn’t grow up with any dad. I mean, he wouldn’t even pay his child support payment. I have a relative that has literally lived under a rock for 20 years to keep from paying his child support payments. It’s horrible. So I just thought to myself, what are the core virtues that I can have in my life as a young man and have that be the foundation? I mean, if you watch somebody build a house, they don’t build the walls on the dirt and then try and slide the foundation under it. They build the foundation. They dig into the dirt, they dig down and they lay the foundation in the dirt and they make sure that it’s strong and they put steel reinforcement and concrete. They really make sure that that foundation is something that’s going to hold that house for a lifetime.
So what I look to do is to create a foundation of my core beliefs that were, you know, based upon the 10 commandments. Of course, you know, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. All those types of things that were important to me as a young man and still are today. But I then just built my life on top of it. Now, did I fall? Oh, yes. Oh, yes I fell just like everybody falls. The shiny object goes by, the beautiful car, whatever it is that tempts us away from, you know, the path that we’re supposed to be on. And I fell as a young man, I got greedy, I got ambitious. What happens is ambition blinds us, and it blinds us to what we need to see about ourselves, about our business, about our family. So yeah, when I was like 30 years old, I was so…I was so… I don’t want this to sound wrong. I was so good at what I did that I got really, really wealthy at a young age. But you know what? What happens is, that then you lose track and you lose sight of the path that you’re supposed to be on. You know, the lamp under my feet was out. I snuffed it out. I didn’t know which direction to take so I took the gratification road. You know, self-gratifying is a horrible thing that we do. Buying ourselves the best of everything. Not denying ourselves anything, whatever it is. So I fell, I fell onto my knees. Economy took a little bit of a dip, I was overextended. I didn’t really have a plan in place. I just live day to day with my luck, I call it. I was one of those guys, everybody says, “You’re so lucky.” I’m like, “Yeah, you know, luck and a lot of hard work.” But then still I was arrogant and I was being blinded by my own success which is a big problem that happens to many people.
Rob: Happens to many people.
Alan: Yeah. So the economy went bad and business just kind of started going away. I remember I had a pile of cash in my safe and one day I reached to the back of the safe and it’s like I really had to kind of reach because, wait a minute, the safe has deepened. There was one last little pile of like 10 grand and I was like, “What happened? I had like 150 grand in there. Where is it going?” This was 25, 30 years ago. So I was like, “Oh my god, all my reserves are gone and I still owe a ton of money. What am I going to do?” I remember that day, that aha moment of, oh my gosh I’ve got to start selling assets when you know you’re in trouble. And then when I came to the end of all my assets, because I was one of those guys, I didn’t believe in bankruptcy because too many of my friends were, you know, involved with my business.
So I sold everything I owned, Rob. Everything. I remember I paid a guy for fixing a car for me with my grandfather clock in my front entrance way of my house. That was all I had. You know, he came to collect and I go, “Dude, I still don’t have the money. I don’t know what you want me to do.” He goes, “I want something out of your house,” and I go, “Come on down.” So we went down. We walked in the front door and there was like a $3000 grandfather clock. I owed him 600 bucks. And he says, “I want that clock,” and I go, “it’s yours, take it.” I remember watching my wife come down the stairway which was…Like the front door and then the stairway going up to the upstairs and right in that entrance was that grandfather clock. And she hears this bong, bong, bing, bong, you know, because it was a grandfather clock, right? The guy is trying to muscle it out the front door by himself. I’m not going to help him because he was just kind of an angry guy. My wife’s like, “What is going on?” I said, “I’m giving the grandfather clock to the mechanic who fixed our car.” And she looked at me like, “Oh my God, where is this going to end?” But God bless her. I mean, I have a good wife, we’ve been married 32 years, together 37. I think at that time we had a small child. I remember thinking to myself, “Man, I’m such a failure.”
And then the bill collectors came, Rob. And then the bill collectors came. They’re like the purple people eaters from Jason and the Argonauts. You got to watch that movie. Jason and the Argonauts. These purple people eaters, they’re like giant human creatures with big bat wings and they would steal from this old blind man. It was a horrible…I never forget that. It’s burned into my memory. It’s like the bill collectors were coming. Look I owed them money and that’s their job to collect the bills. There’s nothing wrong with the bill collectors but man it was a torturous time for me because here I have these little kids and a wife and I’d given away everything. I gave this house to this guy to pay that debt and sold this building and that building. I mean, I went from being a millionaire to a nothing-aire.
I had nothing but my tools. I had a toolbox, roll away toolbox and I thought that’s the only thing I’m not going to sell. You know what? Everything that I earned took me away from God, so God took away from me everything that took me away from Him. So I had nothing. When I was all done, I had nothing and I had paid off over a million bucks and I still had nothing and I still owed more money of which I paid on for years but I never chose the path…The attorney said, “Just go bankrupt. You can just go bankrupt and you can keep all your stuff.”
You know what? The good things in life are not things at all. That’s the problem, is that people want to keep their stuff, their things. I didn’t care about that. I wanted to find out what is the meaning of all this? Why is this happening to me? It was such an interesting time in my life because just before all this happened, I had a little sign. It was actually quite a big sign. My wife was pregnant when I was 30 years old. I’m 58, so this was 28 years ago. She was seven months pregnant and one day she says, you know, “I’ve got these pains and bleeding a little bit.” The doctor said, you know, “You’d better come in.” So we went in to see the doctor and we had a three-year-old child at the time, my oldest son. I had my oldest son on my shoulder and everything was happening in light speed. The baby started…They said, “This baby’s coming.” The baby started, the baby came. The baby died on my 30th birthday.”
Rob: Oh man.
Alan: So here I am, 30 years old, it’s my birthday, my son is sleeping on my shoulder. The doctor tells me the baby has passed. If this wasn’t a wakeup call, but you know what I did Rob? I ignored the wakeup call. I called my father and my father said to me, “You know what son?” He says, “This is such a sad thing,” he says, “But the good Lord knows what he’s doing and there’s a purpose for everything in life.” And he said, “And just like a tree if it has an imperfect leaf it drops that leaf and it makes another perfect leaf.” He says, “Because that’s how our creation works.” Is that we only want, you know, perfect human beings. Sometimes people live with, you know, babies that aren’t quite so perfect. You know it happens, but God wanted for me a perfect baby. So my dad said that you next child will be perfect. You’ll see. Just wait. He says, “Don’t worry, this will pass. This too shall pass.”
I was okay with the answer he gave me and I just thought, “Wow, this is so heavy. Why me God? Why? I thought I was one of your good ones.” We all think that, I’m living a good life, I’m a good guy, I’m an honest guy but you know what, it was the wakeup call. I didn’t listen to the wakeup call. Now, our next baby that was born, who has just given me a grandchild as a matter of fact, five months ago. She was perfect. And so was the next one and the next one. So what my father told me came true.
But back to me and my day of awakening. I didn’t wake up. I actually went deeper into a denial and I think a lot of us business people live in this place of denial. We don’t want to face the truth. We don’t want to face it. We want to run from it. We want to distract ourselves from it. We want to smoke, we want to drink, we want to party, we want to drive fast, we want to drive airplanes or hot air balloons or surf or ski. Any distraction not to feel the pain of the truth.
It reminds me of a joke and it’s not such a good joke but it’ll paint the picture. There was a flood and we’ve seen these floods, right? The flood is up to the front porch of this person’s house and a guy goes buying a boat and he says to the guy on the front porch, he says, “Hey, jump in the water’s rising. Jump in. Come on. Let’s go. And the guy says, “No. God will take care of me.” So a little while later, the water rose up and now he’s on the balcony of his second story. The guy in the boat comes back by and he goes, “Come on, come on, get in. Look, the water’s rising.” You’ve got to get in. The guy says, “No. God will take care of me. I’m not worried it.” A little while later he’s on the roof of his house and the water’s, you know, in the eaves of the roof. A helicopter comes by and drops a rope down and says, “Come on, grab the rope the water’s rising.” And the guy says, “No, God will take care of me. God will take care of me.” The guy drowned and he goes to see God, he says, “God, I thought you were going to take care of me.” And God said, “I sent you two boats and a helicopter.” And so we get chances, Rob, to wake up. We get two boats and helicopter but we’re prideful, arrogant.
Rob: Let me ask.
Alan: Go for it.
Rob: Let me ask you this Alan because I hope everyone’s really been listening to this because there’s been some hidden gems that I picked up and I’ve been typing as I’ve been listening. I think this is very relatable to a lot of people in a lot of different ways, in that number one, life can get busy and are we really focused on what matters most? I mean, we just finished a two-day, our signature, conference at Becoming Your Best last week, Alan. It was interesting because there were several people there who had gone through different challenges and it’s amazing to think where we’re at in life and why certain things happen and what we can do from those experiences. Rather than share some of those experiences that happen to other people, since we’re here on this show together, you’ve been through all of this stuff and what we didn’t get to yet is hear you on the backside being very successful. What’s maybe one or two lessons that you’ve learned from this entire experience that you went through that, you know, some might call the refiner’s fire. From all of this, if you were to look back…I mean, now you’re in your late 50s, so if someone has come to you who’s 20 years old or 25 years old and say, “Hey Alan, you’ve been through all these things, you’ve learned all these lessons, what would you tell me as a 25-year-old or in that age? You know, for any of us, what would you say?”
Alan: Well, you know, I have a 30-year-old son, I have a 26-year-old daughter, I have a 23-year-old son, I have a 22-year-old kid that got dropped off at my house and his parents never picked him up, so he’s turned into my son. He’s been with me for 12 years. And I have a 19-year-old son. So I have to hopefully convey to my kids these same principles that I’m about to share with you and they’re pretty darn simple. First of all, we over complicate our life. We really, really do. I mean, there’s a principle that most of us have heard it, it’s called the KISS principle. Keep It Simple Stupid.
Rob: Yeah, absolutely.
Alan: We overcomplicate ourselves. I mean, my kids actually call me a hoarder because after I lost everything and I started rebuilding, I started to like…You know, I got my security a little bit in the beginning from having some things even though I could…I always used to make the excuse, well, if I need them, they’re a currency, I can trade them for this or trade them for that. So my kids used to call me a hoarder because, I mean, there’s a tendency, it’s an insecurity thing. We become very insecure and so we end up with a lot of things. And that’s why I even said, “Even at this late stage of my life, I am still learning and I’m learning the same lesson over and over and over again.” You know, it’s just like with Bruce Lee. He does something perfect once but he had to do it perfect 10,000 times to be able to do it that perfect time that he needed to actually use it. So practice, practice, practice. Not that I want to practice the same stupid mistakes, but I do need to hear these principles over and over and over again as a constant reminder of really paying attention to life.
So I tell my kids, “Look, you’re going to get signs. God is not going to throw a brick through the window with a note on it that says, ‘Listen up, stupid.'” He’s going to whisper in your ear. That’s that quiet, little voice. The little, quiet angel on your shoulder. The devil on the other shoulder is yelling and screaming and hitting his drum and making a noise with a bugle and the guitar. So you really have to be willing to listen. What does it say in the Good Book? You know, “Be still and know that I am God.” So you have to learn how to be quiet and you need to learn how to…You know, whether you want to call it meditate or just be quiet every now and then when you’re in your car, this has worked for me, turn the radio off. Be with yourself and learn to be quiet. I tell my kids this often. I’ve driven, you know, 1000 miles without turning the radio on. And I sit with myself and I listen and I watch. I watch my thoughts.
So the one piece of information I want to give your audience is, the day you’re born, two of you are born. There’s a body that’s born and inside of that body are two. There’s your spirit and the other one. I think there’s that battle between good and evil inside of all of us that is going on all the time. You have to remember that all the thoughts that go through your head are not all yours. They are not all your original thoughts. They are, I guess, the sounds of the world you might say. Temptation. You’ll hear something, “Hey that sounds good. Why don’t you do that?” And you go, “Wait a minute where’d that come from? I know that’s not right, I’m married.” Or whatever the case may be. “No, I’m not going to steal that $10 bill that that guy just dropped. I’m going to tap him on the shoulder and hand it back to him.” There’s always that second voice. Where does that come from?
So the first thing you have to do in life is realize that there really is a good and a bad side of you and you have to learn how to say no to yourself. You really have to learn how to listen to the higher nature part of you and not the lower nature.
Rob: That deserves a sound effect. Can we have a sound effect, Alan?
Alan: Oh geez, where’s a good sound effect? Hold on.
Rob: All right, there we go. That deserved a sound effect. That was good. You know, you’ve probably heard that poem or that story about the good wolf and the bad wolf.
Alan: Right. The one you feed.
Rob: And which one’s the one you feed. That’s so true of our life. I know you know this, we’ve talked about this, our listeners know this. We spent decades researching what sets apart great leaders, high performers, and this is one of the traits that you see in the best of the best. We’re going to assume that when we’re talking about high performers and great leaders in the full sense of the word…and I love this definition of success. That how you feel about yourself when you’re by yourself is how successful you truly are. So I’m not using by the world’s standards, but someone who’s founded on the 12 principles, having character, they have a vision, one of the things they focus on is living their life in peace and balance. Part of this, and this is from our dinner conversation at Snowbird I remember this, is learning how to still and calm and quiet the mind.
There’s a virtue and a principle in there that is very powerful in great leaders. If you look through history at some of the greatest, George Washington, and none of these people are perfect by the way, let’s clarify it and we all acknowledge that. But nonetheless, they had some of the most substantial influences in history because of their leadership. George Washington, Mahatma Gandhi, and many others. What was some of their hallmark traits is they would take time to go out in the woods, they would take time to still their minds and quiet their minds and listen to this voice that you’re talking about and feed the good wolf. It begins with our thoughts. I just can’t agree with you more, Alan. I mean, we could talk about this forever because our thoughts determine our actions, our actions determine our results. When we can learn to still and calm and quiet our minds, whether it’s driving the car or going out in the woods or nature, there is something very, very powerful about that that can truly influence our lives. I hope we will listen. I hope we’ll make the time to listen because there is and there are really two voices out there and which one will we listen to and feed. And the one that’s quiet is the one that’s also the most powerful if we will still ourselves and listen to it.
Alan: Yap. So the other thing that I tell my kids and young people and people in general, is you need to learn how to forgive. Because look, at this point in my life I am over living for my ego and that’s really a big thing. I always say to my kids, you know, who are you doing this for? You know, are you doing it because all your friends think you’re going to be cool and you look cool and you sound cool? Or are you doing it because it’s going to move you forward in life to what the ultimate goal is in life, to be happy? To be successful, but to be happy. So that to me is the same word, happy and successful. Those go together.
I mean, if you just take Jesus when he was on the cross and he was he was being crucified, the last thing he said, the most important words that everyone on earth knows. He looked up into the heavens while he was being killed and murdered and he said, “Forgive them, Father, because they just don’t know what they’re doing.” If they knew, they wouldn’t be doing it in essence, right? So when my kids start fighting, and I have three boys and a girl…Actually, the fourth is a boy also. So it’s like four boys and they get into some pretty good fights. I said to them, “Hey, hold on, hold on. Do you really think he knew what he was doing when he accidentally stepped on your toe and smashed your foot and whatever? I know you’re angry, I know you’re pissed off, I know it hurt, but you know what, what did Jesus say? They were killing him. Can’t you just forgive the guy?”
So forgiveness to me is the doorway to freedom because what we want to do is we want to kill somebody that has hurt us. Inside it’s like, “Murders in our heart,” when somebody does something wrong, right? Well, the first thing you got to do is say, “No. You know what, that person really doesn’t know what they’re doing so I’m just going to forgive them on the spot with calmness, kindness, and patience.” That’s one of my dad’s things that he taught me. Forgive on the spot with calmness, kindness, and patience. And actually what you’re doing is killing the devil part of you. You know what I mean? Because that evil side of you is going to drive you to do, say, and think things that you really would never do in a conscious mind. You are becoming unconscious and that that dark consciousness is going to take over.
So really you got to correct the problems. “First of all, you step on my toe again and I’m going to punch you in the throat. That’s all there is to it.” And you can do that with a smile and the person will go, “Oh my gosh, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to.” Or, “Yeah, give it a try.” Well, you know, if it’s kids, you’re going to have some fun but the reality is that people are not just wicked by nature. They do things, you know kids and young people, they do things because they can’t help themselves. So what I try and do is stop them dead in their tracks. Say, “Hold on, hold on. Do you realize what you’re doing? Because if you continue on this path, you’re going to really make me mad and I’m going to have to retaliate either through my lawyer or if you step on my toe again, I will push you off.”
So I actually learned, if you can forgive in advance, forgive in advance, without having to be told to forgive, you can teach yourself to forgive, you can then see clearly how to deal with the problem. And guess what, you may make a friend out of a potential, what would have been an enemy. And all of a sudden that person becomes an ally because you didn’t judge him, hate him and hurt him. So I’ve taught my kids, first of all, learn how to forgive and if you can’t forgive your loved ones, then how are you going to forgive somebody you don’t even know. So you got to learn how to forgive your family and your loved ones and people in your office and whatever. Sit down, have a talk with them. Say, “You know that really hurt.” And man, you’d be amazed what comes out of these conversations if you can muster up the strength of character that it really takes the leadership skill that it takes to forgive.
Rob: That’s it. Yes.
Alan: Forgive in advance just because it’s the right thing to do.
Rob: That is exactly it. Right there, it is a test of leadership and character and I call that the liberation principle. Because, think of what our world would be like if we really truly had the ability to forgive and move on, because in the end if we don’t…I just love that and it’s something that we will all face at some point in our life to certain degrees, different degrees. If we don’t forgive people, in the end it’s going to cause us to really lose ourselves. And that’s why it’s so important to have a vision because we go back to the vision. I mean, think about this, we’ve all done this where we’ve held a grudge against someone. Who’s the one that really gets hurt by holding the grudge? Isn’t it us? It’s wasted time, it’s wasted energy. We generally can’t control the outcome. We might influence it, but can’t control it.
So it’s the liberation principle. It’s like when we were in Rwanda. 1.1 million people killed in a genocide, and we did entire podcast on this, but the bottom line is, it was neighbor killing neighbor and they didn’t have any way to put them through the judicial system and so ultimately, what was required is the perpetrator had to go tell the family member who they killed in their family, where their bodies were and how they did it. And it was the family’s job and responsibility to forgive them. And when we we’re over there, we watched a couple. The mom described what happened. She said I had five of my children. They were killed by a machete. She told her story and everyone’s just in awe and then right next to her was this man and he said, “I’m the one that killed them.”
Rob: My dad was there for it and everyone’s just sitting there jaw dropped, thinking, “Could we even do that in our culture?” He said, “Yeah, now we’re close to best friends. I help her in her garden. I help her take care of her home.” He said, “I was a young man at the time and just was doing what I was told.” But the point was, they truly forgave and it liberated them and now their country is the second fastest growing economy in all of Africa. It’s because of what you just said.
Alan: In our world, in the USA, you don’t hear enough about learning how to forgive. It’s like not something that is taught. Parents don’t even know how to teach their kids because unfortunately, the parents of theirs didn’t teach them. It’s like a forgotten, you know, a trick. It’s like, “Oh, that’s a trick. No, forgiving doesn’t really work. I need revenge.” Wow! Are you serious?
I want to read you something that I just put on Facebook the other day. “I am strong because I’ve been weak. I am fearless because I’ve been afraid. I am wise because I’ve been a fool and I’ve been foolish.” The thing is that it’s like, Wow, we need these things. We actually do need these things to have that contrast in our life so that we understand. It’s funny. My wife and I have traded places lately. I’ve been so busy for 25 years running around, running around, and running and all of a sudden my wife is becoming kind of successful and very busy and she’s flying here and going there. You know, we’re laughing at each other because now I’m at home, and I still travel a lot too, and she’s gone. She goes, “See, I’ve been telling you this for 25 years. See how it feels.” So sometimes we need to know how it feels and so that’s why we need to be down because then we can appreciate being up.
So when you are down, people, realize that it’s an important part of your being up and your getting up because it gives you compassion, it gives you understanding, gives you depth and width of your understanding. That’s why I think you will not find many leaders that haven’t endured being down, being down and out. So many of them. Actually, their stories are the best. I interviewed the former president and CEO of Calvin Klein just yesterday and he said that, you know, when he was a young man, he worked on an oil derrick out in the Louisiana…You know, in the ocean out there and it was the hardest work. He did 12 hours a day. And all of a sudden he goes from an oil worker, the hardest job in the world, to being, you know, the head of a fashion company. And he took it from under $3 billion to $8 billion in sales. But had he not had that experience of the hardest work, he couldn’t appreciate his team, he couldn’t appreciate and have that contrast that he needed to be able to do his job. So being down, being out, you’re not really out unless you are out. You’re really just down, pick yourself up.
Rob: Well, I mean, this has been fabulous. I hope this has been beneficial to our listeners in the different facets of these stories that we picked up some gems that can certainly have an impact in our lives. No doubt, I have gotten something from this. I would invite all of our listeners to do something, and that is to share this with a person who you think would benefit from it. I don’t often ask that during these shows. But there’s some gems in this story that there’s a lot of people out there in the world who could benefit from this. We all could. And I would just invite you to consider one person to share this show with who you think might benefit from this. Alan, as we get ready to wrap up, it’s just amazing how fast the time goes by sometimes.
Alan: I know.
Rob: How could people find you? You mentioned to me before the show, alantaylor.me. If you could just briefly give them a couple of ways that people could find you if they want to learn more about you, your story and just to you in general. Would that be all right?
Alan: Sure. Listen, I work for Entrepreneur Magazine and I do their radio show. So you can go to entrepreneur.com and my show is called Entrepreneur Weekly. It’s actually a Saturday show and a Sunday show. I do two one hour shows with interviews. I’ve interviewed Rob on the show, and you did a great job, Rob. So that’s entrepreneur. My car show. I have a very fun weekend car show. I love cars. I grew up on cars and have never stopped, is called The Drive with Alan Taylor. I’ve done that show…Actually, it was it was Motor Trend radio show and then it was Car and Driver radio show and then when I decided to go out on my own I thought, “Gosh, I’m on 100 radio stations. I don’t really need the magazine anymore. I’ll make more money as an entrepreneur.” You never stop thinking like that. “If I just come up with my own name.” So I came up with thedrivewithalantaylor.com.
Other than that, Rob, I’d like to do more with you. I respect what you guys do greatly and I think that these stories need to be told more often. At the end of the day, I went from being just a hard working guy to the voice of these magazines. I worked with Time Inc., with Fortune and Money. I worked with Inc magazine and right now I’m working with Entrepreneur Magazine. How does that happen? It happens through having, you know, I think a lot of faith, following your heart, following that quiet voice and not being discouraged by the squirrel or the shiny things. You know that cartoon squirrel. But I appreciate you having me on your show, man, I really do.
Rob: Alan, it’s been fabulous. Can we get can we get one more sound effect before we wrap up here?
Alan: Oh my gosh. What do I have? I got my favorite one. Sure. We should take it out. My favorite movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
Rob: Oh yeah, here we go.
Alan: I’ll let this play and you can end your show.
Rob: Well, thanks for everyone for being on the show. Alan Taylor, hope you have a fabulous day wherever you’re at in the world. Thanks Alan.
Rob: All right, welcome back to our Becoming Your Best podcast listeners wherever you’re at in the world, this is Rob Shallenberger and we have an amazing guest with us today. You’re going to love this conversation. I’ve had the chance to meet Jason, and this is a true test of someone and their character, is not so much what they say about themselves, but what other people say about them. So some of my close friends in my circles have said that Jason is just an amazing person.
I’ll let him tell a little bit more about himself, but I’ll say what he probably wouldn’t say just in the spirit of humility. He is the number one person in the world when it comes to webinars. He developed and built a company called Rapid Crush and they are truly the best in the world when it comes to webinars and how to run them and market them, develop them and everything that goes into a webinar. That just doesn’t happen by chance. So before we get into some lessons and some thoughts that are going to apply to all of us as leaders and listeners, Jason, first of all, welcome and maybe just give a little bit of background on yourself if that’s all right.
Jason: Thanks for having me here Rob. So I am a 35-year-old man that still thinks he’s a small town Iowa boy, because I grew up in the Midwest until like three years ago, I moved out to here. I’m in Los Angeles now, but I’ve always kind of kept that Midwest values. I’ve always really liked the idea of, if I could give value in advance and be compensated as a result of that, then that seems like it’s a win-win. Like I would feel very comfortable moving forward in that. So I’d always try to do that when I started in business. As you and I were discussing previously, my first foray into business was actually in the music space selling entertainment, essentially. So I created an album and I was out there trying to hustle it, sell it, do anything and everything I could.
I thought it was a good product, but nobody was buying it and that kind of led me on this quest of, “Well, how do I fix that?” I got into like, business and time management and personal development. These are all new concepts to me at the time. I mean, we tend to take them for granted today because they’re everywhere and anywhere but back then it was kind of…This is like 2004, 2005, kind of still subjects that hadn’t entered the mainstream. I got into marketing of the music and up until that time, music was my number one passion. I always thought it was like the thing that would get me most excited and be my purpose. But I discovered the marketing of the music was more interesting to me than the music. It had now eclipsed what I thought was my number one thing and then I said, you know, why market music? Why not market other things that are maybe even more exciting because marketing entertainment is very challenging. The public’s tastes are very fickle, very trendy and they change and it’s very hard to guess.
But marketing things that solve people’s problems, that to me seemed a lot easier, so I kind of went down that quest. You know I started simple. I was writing articles at the time for people online. That’s how I was making my money as an internet marketer, so to speak. And then from that I created an information product in how I was writing these articles and I did well. So then I created other information products based around really simple concepts that people seem to be struggling with that I could just improve how fast that they could do it. So if they were doing something and it took them an hour and I could show them how to do it in half an hour, it’s surprising, well I guess it is in hindsight Rob, but at the time it was surprising to me how much people would be willing to pay to shave a half an hour off of something that they did repeatedly and that really adds up.
From that, I just started to expand a little further and further my scope of what I could do. So we started off just selling ebooks, and when I say “we”, it was me initially and then I had an assistant for a while and then we grew the company to this big monstrosity of what it is today. But I saw webinars as a thing that was on the horizon. At the time, teleseminars were really big and I liked them because it had that concept of let me give you value first. Just like in the music business, you give away you’re your best music, your single, and then they buy the album. Let me give away the value first by being on a teleseminar educating and then aligning the offer to be further education.
But teleseminars I saw them kind of on the downward trend because the technology for webinars, for internet streaming and having a platform are now on the rise and I knew that they were going to displace teleseminars. I said, when they hit, I want to be the first one ready for it and because I had no previous experience to pour it over to webinars, I built it from scratch. So we started doing webinars just purely from an educational standpoint in terms of you pay me then we get on a webinar and I deliver and I said, “Man, if this is so good for them to pay for the experience, why don’t we give them the experience from a taste to that on a webinar and then if they want to continue, then they can buy more webinar trainings.” We mastered that model.
Then, you know, I got into this space, Rob, because, you know, we all want our customers to do well. We all want our customers, whatever they pay us, we want them to get a more out of it than what they exchanged to get. So better results, we want them to have successes, we want to have 100% success rate, I mean I do at least.
But you and I know, especially with education and information, success rates are abysmally low. Yeah. So we try our best to improve those success rates. Some people do it purely morally, they feel better at night and I do too. But I always looked at it financially. The more money I can make my audience, the more money they could spend with me. The better I could do for them, the more likely they were to tell their friends and refer other people to me and want to be around me and do more business with me. That’s really where our focus was. So we got into software because I thought at the time, and this is like 2010, I thought at the time as well they’re having trouble implementing the education we teach, what if we made it push button? What if we built an interface? That’s got to be the answer, right?
Oh, I was so naïve. So then they get to software but they don’t know how to use the software so they need the education and then implementing the education we’re back to square one. What was so cool is it took me three years to learn that. So I went on and I made it my goal to create and sell software. I went all in on that but I had the secret weapon because we were selling it with webinars. So everybody else was selling software completely differently and they were selling low ticket software. We would actually build the education in with the software and sell it and then from that, so I learned to sell info products really well, I learn to sell software really well.
Then, you know, product launches became all the rave online, these online product launches. You know, my friend Jeff Walker kind of innovated this whole new operation and we’d come in and when they would launch an info product that didn’t have really killer software, we would develop that, make it a bonus and promote that product. If they had really killer software, but had a gap in information, we would develop the information product and make that the bonus. Then when Amazon came out like in 2013 as this really big, viable opportunity, we were in the prime position based on everything we’d learned in the software and information and everything we’d learned with selling. So we came in there and we sold over $40 million of Amazon trainings, masterminds, software, information product, because we were now first to market and that truly revolutionized the whole business for us.
Rob: That’s awesome.
Jason: And then along the way, we sold over $100 million of stuff on webinars and it’s been a pretty fun experience.
Rob: Well, I mean, that’s a fabulous background. You don’t just get to be the number one webinar person in the world by accident. I mean, so clearly you’ve done some amazing things along the way. Most of our listeners have either read our book and are familiar with the 12 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders or they’ve watched or participated in the seminar somewhere. It’s interesting in talking with you how so much of your success is because you’ve done certain things. Before we jump into the webinar side of it, I’m thinking of our listeners, and you and I were talking before we started. There’s a really wide swath of listeners, some who really need webinars in their business who currently don’t because it’s going to have a huge impact on their growth and their success. And then there’s other people who for whatever reason, a webinar is not really a part of their life. So before we jump into the webinar part, Jason, I’d like to get inside of your brain just a little bit more and tap into your experience of what are some of your lessons learned along the way that have helped you be so successful? Some of your observations that you feel like could then in turn apply to the people listening to the podcast, if that makes sense.
Jason: Oh, that makes total sense and this is great too, Rob, because the webinar is just a vehicle, right? It gets you from point A to point B. It’s not the only vehicle and sometimes it’s not the best vehicle. There’s a lot of things that go into that. But, you know, first and foremost, the thing I see missing most in marketing and in business is having a conversation with your audience as opposed to presenting to your audience or dictating to your audience. My theory on this, Rob, is back in the day before there was this thing called the internet where we can change a message in five seconds and redeploy it at will, you had to get your stuff right. There was kind of this sheen between you and the end user. Usually you had to go through distribution channels or these very complicated things where you would run these mass national campaigns that would take weeks to get off the ground and you would be so divorced from the end user, that there’s so many pieces in between that.
So I think people learn to speak at their audience as opposed to converse with their audience because they didn’t have the ability to do that. All of these remnants seemed to have crept over and still exist in modern day business. I’ll give you a really good example of what we did in our business early on because I guess I was intuitive or natural at this and it just so happens it works really well. I would go to my audience and I would say something along the lines of this, I’d say, “Hey, I’d like to create this product and sell it but if you’d like to join me live when I create it, I’ll give it to you for free and if you miss it, then you’ll have to pay for it later.”
So guess what happens, Rob? Now this is fascinating piece of psychology. Out of everybody I sent that message to, only a small portion of them actually came to the training for free and I was like, “This is interesting.” So did they believe me? Probably not. How important is it if it’s free? Probably not that important. Typically, information is worth every penny that you pay for it. But then I go back to the audience the next day and I would say, “Hey listen, you missed out so I can’t give it to you for free, but I’m going to give you a second chance. Instead of paying $47 for this, which is what we intend to retail it at, I’ll give you a second chance, $37, but this is it.”
Now, here’s what’s great about this, Rob. This is almost a conversation, isn’t it? It’s like you’ve disappointed me, you’ve let me down. I tried to hook you up and you failed me but because I love you, I’ll give you one more shot but then this is it. I would sell more product doing that than I would if I just came out and say, “Hey listen, I’m going to sell this for $47. If you act fast enough, I’ll get it to you for $37,” because they saw the experience unfold in front of them. They were part of it. They could influence its outcome and then based on what happened, is how we cycle back and continue the conversation.
But even just notice the language that I’m using. This is a very direct conversation of one heart to another heart. I think a lot of that is missing in businesses. Everything I tried to do is just to be as transparent as possible and as direct as possible with the idea of every time I give you information that’s going to have you kind of change your viewpoint or bounce back information to me and then I’m going to calibrate with that and continue moving forward as opposed to saying, “This is how it is, I’m going to tell you what to do and hopefully you do it and if you don’t do it, then I’m going to have to figure out the next thing to tell you.” Does that make sense?
Rob: It does. There’s a language we use in our seminars, transactional versus transformational. There are certain things that are important that are transactional that we do. However, just like you said, it’s our opinion and observation in our research that this world and pendulum has swung so far into the transactional side that we’ve lost the personal touch, the ability to communicate. I mean, it’s all we need to do is go sit on a train, in a bus, in the mall, wherever, sit anywhere in the public place and watch people. I’d suggest the most of us are guilty of it, and that is we are all sitting down there looking at our phones.
I think, to what your point is if I understood you correctly is, you’re talking about this trend that has developed over time of being very transactional in nature and that we’ve missed the transformational part, which is the connection with people and it’s that real connection and conversation rather than just dictating that is a big deal for leaders, not only as they build their company but as they interact with others and build relationships.
Jason: Oh, totally. And we have the ability now to be so responsive so quickly and we can make such quick adjustments that why wouldn’t we want to lean into that? I’ll give you a great example of something that we really pioneered years ago in the webinar space. This has just been my philosophy in business. I have something I want to sell you, I believe if you buy it, you’re going to get the better end of the deal because whatever you’re exchanging money, you’re getting return that is going to exceed that. Instead of pretending I’m not going to be here to sell you something and that I’m going to like somehow magically just like “Surprise!” Why don’t I use that to my advantage?
Here’s what we would typically do on a webinar but this applies really anywhere. So I’d say at the beginning, I’d say, “Listen, I have a product today that I would like for you to invest in. I believe that if you invest in this product and you’re the right person, X, Y, and Z can happen for you or now you’re not going to face pain point one, two and three. However, before I get to the point where I show you about this product, my first goal is to show you how to do blank. My purpose for the next 45 minutes is I’m going to break down for you how you’re now finally able to do whatever, whatever the solution is. Now, if I don’t do that, then I give you full permission to completely disregard and not buy what I want to sell you at the end of this presentation. But if I do accomplish this first objection, which is to show you how to do X, Y, and Z, or how to get this solution or outcome or now be able to do this thing you couldn’t do before, then you should feel obligated to purchase what I have for sale at the end of this presentation. Does that sound fair?
And so for many years, Rob, this is how I would open a majority of my presentations. Is very clear. Instead of pretending I’m not selling you something, I’d say, “Listen, I’d like to sell you this thing but in order for me to get to this point where I could sell you this thing, let me earn the right to sell you this thing.” We change this kind of relationship now and people are like, “That makes sense. Okay, now we know the agenda.” I’m not pretending what I’m doing is different and I’ve just always felt more comfortable leaning into the truth as opposed to trying to, you know, walk around the truth and circle in on it. You know, I train clients on this all the time because a lot of people have trouble selling, which is a huge problem in the business world these days.” I say, listen, if you have trouble selling, do this: go to your audience and you say, “Listen, I’m going to get uncomfortable here for a second with you. So if my voice sounds shaky or if I’m nervous or I don’t speak clearly, it’s because I’m a little freaked out of my mind. I’m a little out of my comfort zone right now and that’s because I’m not very comfortable selling. But in spite of that, I’m going to attempt to sell you anyway because I believe it’s important enough that you know about this. That I’m willing to put my own unease on pause and bring this for your consideration.” You know, how would you feel in that situation if you said that? If you just addressed the issue head on, right Rob? As opposed to try to deny it or act like it isn’t there? Not only how good are you going to feel now but how good is your audience going to feel? What do you think that your audience is going to respond to if you say something like that?
Rob: Yeah, there’s an empathy that comes with that. People almost want to jump in and help out when they see vulnerability.
Jason: They do want to help out. What’s great about that is, aren’t you asking them to do something that is outside of their comfort zone potentially? Aren’t you asking them to kind of do more than just sit on and listen and actually invest and move forward? So you’re not showing them, “Listen, I’m doing this. I’m doing the same thing I’m asking you to do,” and there’s a parody to that communication that’s transformative. So often we don’t get this because people have this misbelief, Rob, that I am the expert, I am the guru, I am the thought leader, I am the person that has to be presented as impeccable, as perfect, as having everything together because nobody wants to learn from somebody who isn’t like this idol or this perfect person. But that’s not how things work in the real world. People love vulnerabilities and people love authenticity and people will more likely believe your truths that you claim, the big claims, if you also disclose your weaknesses. And that’s a conversational tone. That’s essentially saying, “Hey listen, here’s what I’m feeling right now. I want to share that with you. And this is why I’m doing this in spite of or because of how I’m feeling.” Then the audience will feed back with that. The audience will feed back. But if you just go out there and say, “Hey listen, I got this thing, it’s so great, it’s so fantastic, here’s what it can do for you. These are the benefits of it. Here’s the drawbacks of it. Now you should go and buy it.” That’s not a conversation. That is basically a set of instructions.
Hey, you can do okay that way, but I’ve always found opening up the dialogue and saying this is what I’m thinking about, here’s what I would like you to do, here’s where I’m coming from on this and here’s the opportunity but because I can have this feedback loop, I can solicit your response and then based on your response, I know how to proceed. We can do this in mass, we can do this with hundreds of thousands of people whereas back in the day it would be one to one. I’d have to be nose to nose, toes to toes in a selling environment when now I can do it one to many.
Rob: And that’s the power of webinars. I had a thought that came to my mind and before we started this past podcast, Jason and I were just talking and saying, “Let’s just see where the conversation goes.” I’d like to ask you a question based on what we’re talking about here. We’ve been focused on the psychology and selling and talking and having conversations. There’s so much noise right now in the world. There’s so much information. You know, the old statistics and you would probably know what the new ones are exactly and they’re probably ever changing, so they’re probably not exact. You know, the old statistics were seven, eight touches minimum prior to a sale.
Jason: Oh yeah, I love that.
Rob: And now with all the noise, how do you take your experience and cut through the noise? So here you have all of these things that we’re bombarded with on a daily basis, information. I’m just thinking anyone who’s in business, who’s listening to this podcast, they’re facing similar challenges as to how do they market their message, their company, their product, and cut through all the noise that exists to the customer? And then I’ll have a separate question on the backside of that from the customer’s perspective. But for those running a business, how do you cut through the noise from your experiences and lessons learned with your message?
Jason: Yeah. So first to that, my philosophy is 26 touches.
Rob: Yeah at a minimum.
Jason: The old school thought was seven, right?
Rob: Yeah, absolutely.
Jason: So I like 26.
Rob: And I believe it. How many times does it take? Anyone who’s running a business how many touches does it take before a customer will pick up the phone and call you or before they will click a button or whatever it is. I agree with you, it’s got to be in the 20s in most companies, most products, most services.
Jason: Yeah, and this goes to a bigger point. I would rather err on the side of too much than too little because if you look at it…Let’s pretend it’s a life and death situation. Somebody just swallowed some poison and they’re going to die soon and you have the antidote and you’re trying to get them to take it and they say, “No.” Do you give up after two or three times? How hard would you push? Would you say, “Well I gave it the good old college try maybe I’ll see him in the afterlife?” Or do you do everything you can and do you run the risk of potentially offending them? So I would rather overdo it than under do it because I can dial it back in way easier than I can expand it out.
So I like 26 touches. Now you might say, well what does that look like? Again, this is why I like webinars because on a webinar, I can do 26 asks in a single session. So I can give an hour, an hour and a half of content then I can present the offer and then I can ask them to sign up. Here’s the psychology, just so you know Rob, I think this is really enlightening to a lot of people. A majority of your audience if they want it, if they have the means to get it and if it’s the perfect thing for them, are programmed to say “No”, the first time they hear it.
Rob: Isn’t that interesting?
Jason: Yeah, it’s a survival mechanism, because if we if we instantly said yes to everything around us or if we said yes to most things, that would put us in a state of danger. A lot of us have been taught to be safe, to be cautious. In school, you weren’t necessarily rewarded for being bold, you were actually punished for it. So many people have adapted a behavior, even if this is a good thing for me, it’s better to do nothing than to do anything. So doing nothing is not saying yes, it’s not saying anything and just sitting there. So I expect and anticipate the no, so I like to get to the no out of the way as soon as possible because am I selling you or are you buying. If you feel like I’ve sold you then I have manipulated you or took an advantage of you or I control the relationship, right? If you feel like you are buying then you have decided, you are empowered, you have made the decision. So some people don’t like to be sold, but they love to buy so they want to say, “Well, he didn’t sell me because I said no to him and then I decided when I was going to say yes.” Listen Rob, I’m very pragmatic. Whether you think you said yes or whether I sold you or whether you bought, the money is still the same.
Jason: So I’ll give you the benefit that way. I don’t really care as long as the check cashes. So the first “no” is actually programmed to be a “no”. So I don’t have to give you the full information. I don’t have to give you an hour and a half on the ins and outs of everything I have for you. Let me give you the bare minimum, what I think is the most powerful, salient stuff so you can say no if you’re going to say no. Now, a portion of people are going to say yes, because they are in need of it so much and it’s so obvious to them that they don’t need controlling so let’s give them the benefit of saying yes immediately and getting on with it and moving forward as soon as possible.
So the first “no” we get that out of the way but I like to say “no” is not N-O for most people, “no” is K-N-O-W, know as in I need to know more. So it’s a new information, it’s a new decision. You know, if I said to you, hey, this is really broken down, old, beat up home that’s practically condemned, Rob and it’s like it’s like $500,000 and it’s in the worst part of town and it’s probably really worth about $50,000, would you buy it? And you would say no and then I’d say, well I forgot to tell you, there’s a Rembrandt in the attic, it’s worth a couple million dollars. Now, would you buy it?
Rob: Yeah of course, absolutely.
Jason: You’d say, sign me up, right? So new information, new decision. So people will say no, based upon the information given to them but if you can give more information, now they have the opportunity to say yes. So on a webinar, I can line up 26 pieces of information one after the next. So if they say no the first time, I can ask them again. Now, here’s what’s beautiful about this. It’s not like they’re sitting in prison cells. It’s not like they’re handcuffed to the computer and they’re forced to listen to any and everything I say, they can leave at any time they want and we’ve given them an hour of value prior to any spelling that has occurred. So it’s like I don’t feel ashamed and I don’t feel nervous about this and every close is an educational experience. Every time I ask for an order or every time I attempt to get a sale, I first educate and then I sell.
What’s beautiful is we don’t run out of material online. It’s not like I have to say, “Oh-oh, we got to print this out, we got to publish this, we got to, you know, distribute it and it’s going to cost a lot of money and take a lot of effort. We have to get out the X-ACTO knife and cut out and lay out these ads like they did in the old days.” No. We can do it instantaneously and we can aim in sub-segment and do it based on different sub audiences and sub niches that we’re talking to. So if I say the person didn’t say yes right now, what do they need to say yes?
I’ll give you a great example. So we were running a promotion many years ago when Facebook first came out where you could do advertising on it. We were promoting this product and we were doing okay with it but I was like, why aren’t people buying? I was obsessing over it. It didn’t make sense to me. I felt like they should. And then it dawned on me, it wasn’t the risk of the product, it was they were going to pay for the product and they were going to pay for the advertisement. So if the product worked good and they invested $500 that’s one thing, but if the product wasn’t good and then they didn’t do well in the ads, they screwed up and spent $1,000, they’re not out $500, they’re out $1500 and it dawned on me.
So I went back to the audience and said, “Hey listen, I think the reason you haven’t invested yet, for those of you who have been really paying attention to this and expressed interest in it, is because you’re concerned not on the ticket of the course but you’re concerned on losing your money when you advertise.” So here’s what I came up with. I went through this guarantee where I explained to them. I said, if you follow this and you do X, Y and Z, I’m so confident that you will be successful, but if you’re not, I will reimburse any ad spend that you do up to $1,000. Essentially that was like, you know, I’m making $500 to sell on this course, I could lose $500 per person, but I felt like it was worth doing. I took a look at the risk and I said, if they did this, I would be very comfortable with this. I noticed it was going to quadruple conversion probably or double it. So therefore it’s like, even if I have to reimburse some people back it’ll probably be okay. More important than the specifics, Rob, is my audience saw the fact that I was willing to go out on a limb. They saw the fact that I was obsessing over how I can make sure that they were taken care of and then they translate that into what they must really believe in this. This must be a very important thing so I should definitely take another look at it. So they might not even have bought for the guarantee. They might have simply bought simply because of my actions of how I presented the guarantees, showed them this was a guy who’s serious about this so I should be serious too. I should give this another look and they give it another look and then they buy.
See how we were able to, in a 24 hour period, observe how the promotion was going, recalibrate, come back to the audience with new information and allow them to make a new decision and the difference there went from, you know, we were doing okay with the promotion to, you know, we did could quadruple the output at the end of the promotion cycle.
Rob: So that was fabulous. Great insight there especially on the “no” versus “Know”, N-O, K-N-O-W. I like that one. Here’s one more question and we only have a few minutes left and I wanted to get to this one because I know this is one that is burning in the back of most people’s minds who have any thought or idea that they want to do a webinar with their business. I think most of us have the idea of what a webinar is. Anybody listening, whether you’re working with, you know, a financial planning service, etc… There’s a benefit to a webinar for most people if it’s done correctly. So here’s the question that I hear all the time, Jason. I imagine you hear it a lot. I know that it’s not a three minute answer, but if you could consolidate down to the best you can. One of the biggest challenges that people face that are coming into webinars for the first time is, how do you “fill the seats in your webinar?”
Jason: Great question.
Rob: So what are your thoughts on that and I realize it’s a much more in-depth answer than we really have time for but from the big picture.
Jason: It’s actually not.
Rob: Well, that’s good. So, in the time that we have, what’s the best answer that you could give on that, on how to fill seats in a webinar?
Jason: Yeah, don’t. You don’t have to.
Rob: Okay, so expand on that because I think where you’re going with this is that it becomes evergreen.
Jason: Well yeah, it could be evergreen, right?
Rob: So the point is how do you…
Jason: The webinar used correctly is such a valuable asset?
Rob: Well, let me let me clarify. So the question is, how do you best utilize the webinar?
Jason: Yeah, yeah, there you go.
Rob: Whether it’s filling the seats or whether it’s an evergreen experience. So maybe let me tweak that question. How do you best utilize the webinar to have an impact in your business?
Jason: Yeah, and I wasn’t trying to be facetious Rob, but the problem that I’ve seen with a lot of people is they want to create the webinar, promote the webinar, drive traffic to the webinar, optimize the webinar. They want to do 56 things at once, and guess what happens when you try to do 56 things at once, it’s the same thing that happens when you try to ride two horses at once. You fall on your face and you make the two horses mad, right? So let’s just get the webinar done and now when we’re done, we have this amazing, beautiful, wonderful, fantastic asset that we can try a variety of different things to extract the value out of it. So just getting it done allows you to have one less thing floating in your head that you’re thinking about.
So for example, one of the one of the simplest models I’ve ever developed to utilize webinars for clients is create the webinar and tell people you have a webinar but you’re not going to allow them to see it unless they ask permission for you to send it over to them. So you actually turn it into a handing it out one at a time, right? The way I’ve always positioned that is this is very important but if I make it freely available to you, the chances of you watching it, drop down to almost nothing.
Rob: Yeah, good point.
Jason: You have to really tell me that you’re excited and interested in seeing this and only then will I manually send you a link so you can watch this and you might start it out there because think about this. Let’s say this webinar sells $1,000 product and there’s a million products you could sell out there where you can make $1,000 commission. You can’t tell me, “Well Jason, I don’t have $1,000 product.” That’s not the point. Let’s just say you made $1,000 every time you made a sale on this webinar. So if you hand this out to 10 people and one of them buys which is a 10% close rate, which is not atypical, you just made $1,000. Can you get 10 people to watch it so somebody buys it within the next seven days? Congratulations, you just made $1,000. Now, could you do that three more times for the month? You’ve just made $4,000. Now, you might say, “Okay, I like this, but how do we do better?” That’s when you can start playing with it. That’s when you can start saying, “What if we take some advertisement out of these profits?” Or, “What if we’re able to connect with somebody who has an audience similar to the audience’s I’m trying to reach and do a profit share.” Now you open up the whole new set of possibilities, but question number one that I want to know is, is anybody even interested in watching that webinar and will they respond to it? So let’s figure that out.
We have the agility in this new age in business of doing this Rob where it’s fascinating. So if you don’t know how to fill up a webinar, you just say, “Okay, we’ll figure that out later. We don’t need to solve that now. Let’s just get a webinar and then we’ll have more urgency and leverage to want to utilize it.” I’ve used webinars simply. You could put a webinar up on YouTube. You might say, “Well Jason, it only gets 200 views a year.” Okay, that’s fine because you might make 10 sales from those 200 views, right?
Rob: Yeah, exactly.
Jason: I mean, the input to the output sounds good to me. Okay, I did the webinar, I uploaded it that took a half an hour or maybe less. I’m okay with that. Low risk, high reward. But everybody wants to be perfect before they get going. You don’t have to be perfect to get started, but you have to start before you become perfect. So let’s just get started. So yeah, that’s my answer to that is the webinar such a valuable tool but it’s also an advertisement which is what I love about it. But it’s such a valuable tool that people will want to watch it and by watching it, they will also be advertised to and what a wonderful world that is where we can design something like that. Where we can provide value first in the advertisement and then automatically have somebody decide if they want to exchange money for more value.
Rob: That is great advice because so many of us, as entrepreneurs, business leaders, whoever, just people in general, want to go after the big massive approach and get it all right the first time. You know, writing a book? You know this because you wrote a book and this is really what I recommend anyone to do who’s even considering it webinars, to read your book. But how many books have not been published yet you’ve heard people say I’ve always wanted to write a book or the person who gets their book semi written, but it’s just perpetually being rewritten over and over and over because they’re looking for perfection.
It sounds to me like what you’re saying about the webinar is very similar in that, you know, don’t try to do everything at once because like you said, you end up falling on the face. Rather, at least get something, a webinar done, and then I’m sure in your book you have a lot of different ways to extract that value that you’re talking about but the point is to at least have something and get started because the real art is in the start.
Jason: The art is in the start. The real art is in the star, I love that Rob. Thank you for sharing that with me.
Rob: Well, it’s been a pleasure having you on. I think what we’ve done here has just gotten a taste of the power of a webinar and hopefully it’s piqued a lot of people’s curiosity. I mean, the intent in doing these podcasts is that a person can just get one or two golden nuggets. You know, they don’t have to feel pressure to get everything at once, rather, one or two golden nuggets and I hope at least one of the golden nuggets is that, in most businesses, there should be a way for you to utilize webinars to expand, not on your offerings but your reach and your advertisement and all these things that Jason is talking about and there’s a huge amount of value to be found in there that I think we’re leaving a lot of it on the table, at least it’s been my observation for many people.
So at this point, Jason, knowing that there’s a lot more to know about this, if you don’t mind how could they find you? What’s your website? What’s the title of your book and where could they best get it because I know there’s going to be people who want to know more about this.
Jason: Yeah, the best thing to do is to go to Amazon and put in One to Many, that’s the name of the book and I know you have the book Rob. If you go to Amazon, grab that book. I think it’s like 10 bucks for the Kindle or something like that. That has my A to Z step by step process for the webinars that we designed that have done over $100 million. And then if you like that there’s obviously ways that you can engage with us further. But start with the book that has my best material for the cheapest price.
Rob: And it is currently sitting on my bed stand next to my bed, One to Many. So I’m excited to get into it. I haven’t read it all the way through yet. I’ve barely started it and so I’m excited to see what’s actually in the book. Well, Jason, any parting thoughts for us? It’s been great having you here and I appreciate it. Any parting thoughts or comments for our listeners?
Jason: Yeah, pick the one thing that you heard today that got you most excited and have it show up in some meaningful way, produce something or take some action. So you can tangibly say as a result of listening to this podcast, I have now done this and that will make me very happy.
Rob: Yes, and that’s fabulous advice. I think we could all do that all the time, and that’s certainly the spirit of Becoming Your Best. So Jason it’s been fabulous having you here. To all of our listeners, thank you wherever you’re at in the world. It’s because of you that we do this and we appreciate you, honor you, serve you and hope you have a fabulous week wherever you’re at.
Steve: Welcome to our podcast listeners wherever you might be today, this is Steve Shallenberger, your host with Becoming Your Best Global Leadership and we have really a remarkable guest with us today. He earned an MBA in Health and Hospital Administration from the University of Florida and is the first Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives in the Bahamas. He recently retired after 37 years as President of Doctor’s Hospital Health System and continues today as an advisor. He is a life-time member of the American Hospital Association and has served on several boards, including the Quality Council of the Bahamas Health Education Council and Employers Confederation. He has the distinguished honor of serving as the President of Rotary International and is currently serving in that position today and has blessed the lives of individuals and organizations all over the world. Welcome, Barry Rassin.
Barry: Thank you. It’s great to be here with you.
Steve: Okay. Well, I’ve been looking forward to this call for actually quite a few weeks, Barry. And before we get started, let’s hear a little about your background. Just tell us about your background. It’s so interesting hearing about the things that you’ve done. Where were you raised and what led to you doing what you’re doing today?
Barry: Okay, it’s a long story so cut me short if you need to. I was born in London, England. Moved when I was three weeks old to the Bahamas where I was raised until my family said, “Let’s get you education out of United States.” So I went to school in the U.S. at 10, got all my degrees there, then went to Mount Sinai Medical Center. My first job in the healthcare industry, after getting my MBA in health care. Then worked for Humana which back then owned hospitals. I was one of the administrators.
It was during that time that I realized that I wasn’t really going to make much of a difference in America and I wanted to help people and to make a difference. So that’s when I decided to move to the Bahamas and to bring modern healthcare to the country. My dad was a surgeon, my mother was a nurse, they had a clinic in Nasworth, so I went to the clinic with $5,000 in my pocket and said, “We’re going to change healthcare in this country somehow.” That was my venture and today we have a hospital with 500 employees and all the modern technology that we could do for a small hospital, but as a private hospital it’s actually doing a lot more than the government hospital at this point in time. So that’s a quick summary of my history.
Steve: Oh, that’s a great story. And you couldn’t have picked a better place, could you? Wow, look at that weather.
Barry: That’s just a little side benefit I could add.
Steve: That’s so good. Well, great. Let’s just go ahead and talk about Rotary for a minute. I mentioned to Barry before we started that I’ve always been aware and respected Rotary. I had the opportunity to speak at one of their District Governors Conferences which was a fabulous experience. I was so impressed with the people there, I asked him if I could become a Rotarian or was I too old. And they said, “No way. You can join.” So I love the club that I’m in. Really the service that they do around the world is extraordinary. I know Barry will have the chance to tell us about some of that, but this is quite the organization.
One of the things they have is something called the four way test of the things we think, say or do. I’m just going to share those to our listeners today, because if the world could do this, the world would be a better place.
First, is it the truth? Second, is it fair to all concerned? Third, will it build goodwill and better friendships? And forth, will it be beneficial to all concerned? Tell us about that four way test and how its impacted you and others and the impact it could have in the world and it does right now.
Barry: Absolutely. One of our core values as an organization is integrity and the four way test exemplifies what each one of us need to live by. When people actually read it carefully and realize that that’s something we want to do, not only with what we say, but also with what we think, that really maintains your integrity. So as Rotarians, as Rotary Clubs, integrity is key and we want to promote that into schools and into politics, offices and those kinds of things so that we truly can get our complete environment in all communities running the four way test, running on integrity, making sure that we have the right ethical base for everything we do.
Steve: Well, what a powerful impact that has in every part of our life, right?
Barry: It does truly. I mean, it certainly has always affected mine. I always ask myself that question, even in a business environment, is this going to meet the standards of the four way test. I think Rotarians everywhere have asked themselves that question on a regular basis. If the answer is no then that’s not what you do. You do something else that will meet the four way test.
Steve: Okay, well great. Okay Barry, tell us about Rotary International if you don’t mind, about the size of the organization, where they’re located. Help us understand a little bit more about Rotary and what they do. So just like the whole expanse of it.
Barry: That’s a big question.
Steve: It is a big question.
Barry: Rotary International, we’re in over 200 countries around the world. We’ve got about 36,000 Rotary Clubs, we’ve got 1.2 million members of the Rotary Clubs. But on top of that, we also have about 500,000 Interacters, which are the young people in high schools. We’ve got about 250,000 Rotaractors, which are individuals from 18 to 30. We’re doing service everywhere. We believe we’re a membership organization which means we must take care of our members and give them value for being a part of us. But we’re a membership organization that does service. We do service not only in our own communities, to make our communities better, but we do service around the world and as partners with clubs in other countries so we can help people that we’ve never seen and never will see, but we know that they need our help.
So we’re an organization that cuts through politics and religion. We don’t talk about either one. We are non-political, non-religious, which enables us to speak to groups that they may not otherwise speak to. As an example, polio eradication is our number one priority as an organization and we’ve had 15 cases this year. When we started, we had 350,000 cases every year. So we are truly almost there for eradicating polio. Part of what we have to do is to convince religious sects that immunizations are good for their children. Rotary can do that, but politicians would not be able to do that because they would be suspect. But because of our integrity that we talked about earlier, people listen to us and do what we ask.
So we’ve even had a Rotarian meet with the Taliban to ask them to lay down their arms so we can immunize their children. These are the kinds of things Rotary can do that I don’t believe anybody else can do. We partner with World Health Organization, with CDC, with UNICEF. Of course, Bill Gates has come in and provided us a lot of funding for it. But we will eradicate polio, that’s our big job and that’s our number one priority.
Under that, we have six areas of focus, because we know that in these areas, these are things that people need. Water and sanitation. We need to make sure people have fresh water. That addresses health issues, and health issues is another area of focus. The education, especially education of women. If we educate the women who are out there, who need an education, they will make sure that their families get educated so we can get everybody to a better level of education. We’re very familiar with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. If you look at the top couple of goals, we’re to eliminate hunger, eliminate extreme poverty. We want to be a part of helping the United Nations to do those kinds of things.
Underlying everything we do is our mission, which is world understanding and peace. So if you bring water to a community, you help to reduce conflict. If you bring education, you help to reduce conflict. So a lot of what we do, its end result is to reduce conflict and therefore bring world understanding and peace. And we have a Peace Fellow Program that addresses that, where for the last 12 years we’ve been training young people on conflict resolution. They’re now moving up in their careers and they’re getting into jobs with governments and NGOs around the world where they can help people to understand how to resolve a conflict. So we’re doing a lot of things for world peace while we are doing these other projects which if you just look at superficially, it’s just water, it’s just education, but it actually goes to the bigger picture of making our world a better place.
Steve: Oh that is fantastic.
Barry: That’s a short answer.
Steve: Oh my goodness, that is amazing. I’ll tell you, to all of our listeners, and the listeners here today are from all over the world, Rotary is making a difference. This is one of the things, Barry, that’s unique about these listeners, is they are people that desire also to make a difference and to build on those leadership skills that do that and I’d like to talk about leadership in a moment. I’m so inspired by these things that you’ve just outlined. That there’s an organization and I know that there are some other service clubs but this is really such an extraordinary focus and influence so how fun to hear about it. Now, what’s your role as President, as International President? What do you do?
Barry: Okay, what do I do? It’s a complex role. One position is to be Chairman of the Board of Directors. So I run the board of directors, we meet four times a year. But I’ve asked all the committees of the board to meet all year long. So they’re very busy to make sure that we’re looking at policy, we’re looking at what do we do to make our organization better. Very important that we keep looking to the future, make sure we are relevant to society, relevant to what we’re doing. That’s a big part of what I need to do.
The other part is to travel to Rotary Clubs, Rotary districts around the world and try to inspire Rotarians to appreciate the organization that we’re a part of. To be proud of everything we do and to do more than we’ve ever done before. So already since September 1st when I was elected as president elect, I’ve been to 34 countries, spoken with hundreds of districts and thousands of Rotarians, talking to them about this organization and what we continually need to do. I do talk a lot about change so that we can understand that we need to kind of back up a little and look at ourselves and say, “Are we relevant to today’s world?” I see part of my job is making sure that we have that relevance now for today so that our younger professionals, they can all say, “Hey, Rotary is the organization I want to be a part of. So let me go join a Rotary club or let me go start a Rotary club and set it up the way that works for me as a young person so I can do service, I can make our world a better place but do it in a way that fits for younger people.”
Steve: Okay, well, you have your hands full?
Barry: Yes, I do but it’s fun, it’s an awesome responsibility and its fantastic working with Rotarians because everyone I need around the world is so committed to doing good things and they’re just looking for some guidance and looking for better ways to do what they already do.
Steve: Well I’ll tell you, Rotary has an inspirational president right now and what’s fun is that you’re not doing it alone. There are people that share this passion that you have.
Barry: Oh absolutely, absolutely. We have a staff in Evanston, Illinois, just outside of Chicago and they are absolutely fantastic. I’m so impressed with the level of their skill, the level of their competence, and they have the same passion as we as volunteers have. So it’s fabulous to work with them and to know that there is a resource to assist in any way we can. But Rotarians, oh there’s passion out there, there’s a passion for what we do and that that inspires me to keep doing as much as I can do.
Steve: Okay well, thank you for this background and helping our listeners and me to catch a greater vision. Now, you know leadership is such a pivotal, dynamic, intangible power and force that makes a difference in our world. It is probably the difference and so let’s spend a couple of minutes talking about it because it’s how we change the world and it also determines an organizational success. So what are some of the most important leadership characteristics you see that can make a difference and cause excellence?
Barry: To me leadership is key. I tell all Rotarians that you’re in a Rotary club because you’re a leader and you need to develop your skills. One of my goals this year is that every single Rotary Club starts a leadership development program in the club to help members to develop their own personal skills. But leadership it’s big, it’s complex and there’s so many parts of it. If I pick out a few there’s…first of all, influence versus power. Some people come in, they feel leadership means “I’ve got power, I can tell people what to do.” I don’t see it that way. I see leadership as a person with influence. You don’t tell people what to do. They do what you ask because of the way you approach them and because of your life.
What I use quite often is the book The Radical Leap by Stephen Farber, where he talks about the leap, L-E-A-P. And to me, these are the four most essential aspects of leadership. L is for love. We’ve got to show empathy to each other as well as to our communities. The E is for energy, enthusiasm. I believe strongly in enthusiasm, because you can infect people with the same enthusiasm and they’re going to go out and do things they’ve never done before. The A is for audacity. I believe our goals have to be bigger, better and bolder than we’ve ever done before.
As an example, one of my goals this year is our Rotaract Clubs I mentioned, the 18 to 30 year olds. My goal is to double the number of clubs this year, so from 10,000 to 20,000, from 250,000 young professionals to 500,000. So that’s audacity and we need more audacity in our Rotary Clubs. So we think bigger, we think bigger programs. One of our goals is to bring potable water to every citizen, the country of Haiti. It could be 1.6 billion, we’re still working on the business plan. But let’s think bigger like that. Let’s convert a country, let’s transform, let’s make impact. That’s what audacity is all about.
And the final is P for proof, which is really all about leading by example. I can’t go to somebody and ask them to donate to our incredible Rotary foundation unless I’ve already donated. I can’t ask somebody to bring a member into a Rotary Club unless I’ve already done it. As leaders, we have to lead the way by doing the things we ask other people to do. To me, that’s four very basic elements a good leader has.
Steve: Okay, well that is terrific. And the last one is the proof by your behavior of modeling or doing it, is that right?
Barry: Yes, it is.
Steve: Okay, well good. Those are great. So love, energy and enthusiasm, this is what great leaders do. That’s right. And then audacity in terms of here’s the vision and the goals and then you actually have the moral authority because you do it yourself.
Steve: Yeah, those are great. Well, I’ll tell you one of the things that Barry I’ve done in my career is I’ve done 40 years of research on what sets apart high performers from all the rest and high performing organizations from all the rest. I’ve interviewed over 150 CEOs, studied the lives of hundreds of historical figures, looking for the answer to that question. What I found is that these individuals weren’t perfect, but there were 12 things they all did in common and this is what I put in my book Becoming Your Best: The 12 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders. All four of these things that you’ve talked about, are represented across these 12 in one way or another. So this is spot on. This is what we see. Great patterns to develop and to use in leadership. Okay, great going on those, you’re doing it.
Steve: All right, let’s shift gears a little bit. Then Rotary International and Rotary at all levels is about service. And as people consider how they can leave the world a better place, what recommendations do you have for them as they work to make a difference and lift others?
Barry: First is to identify what are the real needs. Too often, well-meaning people, there’s a disaster somewhere, they send things from their closet. The first step we should all make is what does this community need us to do to help them? What do they want us to do to help them and then address those needs or those wants, rather than what we think that they want. So the first thing is that needs assessment. Know what’s needed. And then partner with others to be able to do and answer those needs in a bigger way that you could do by yourself. That’s one of the beauties of Rotary. We can have Rotarians get together as a club and all help. We can get the clubs to work with other clubs. We can get clubs in one country and another country by partnering and bringing in other organizations. I mean, we’re working on a program next year, we want Rotary, Kiwanis and Lions all to work together on a project. We don’t need to be competing, we need to be helping our world get better.
So the more we bring in as partners, the more we can do. Most people have an energy and a desire to make a difference in the world, and I’m finding young professionals especially, they really want to be a part of changing our world. So you’ve got to identify those needs and then determine, how can I meet those needs in a major way to make impact in that area? To me, inspiration comes first. We can’t just go to somebody who’s not inspired. We’ve got to inspire them as to the reasons why, what are the needs, how can we help the fact that we as an individual truly can change the world through Rotary because we have so many contacts, so many abilities to put partnerships together, which other organizations don’t have. With that, we are able to change the world as individuals and we should never lose sight of that. So understand it, light that fire in individuals, inspire them and they’re going to want to run out there and do everything they can to help.
Steve: Okay, great. I love it. This is a great answer. This is what any one of us can do today. Whether you’re a 10-year-old, and perhaps the children of someone that’s listening or yourself, there’s opportunity, isn’t there Barry?
Barry: Oh, there’s so much opportunity and it’s just waiting for us to go grab the opportunity and make it happen. We can’t ignore it. We’ve got to be there for these people who need us. It’s all about the old adage. If you give somebody a fish, you don’t do much. But if you teach them to fish, then they’re going to save their own lives and they’re going to be able to take care of themselves. That’s what we need to be doing. We need to be doing projects where we’re helping others be able to take a step for the rest of their own life.
Steve: Okay, great. Well, let’s talk about age because I mentioned a 10-year-old, I’m aware of stories where 10 year olds are working on helping clean up the, for example, plastic bags in the ocean or bring wells to place where they don’t have access to water. But I’m just thinking, listen, older people may think they’re all washed up. Well, not a chance, right? Okay, that people of all ages can make a difference.
Barry: All ages.
Steve: So I’d like to give encouragement for all of us to keep looking. Now, let’s just talk about millennials. This is an age where I’ve heard different things in terms of involvement in, you know, clubs, service clubs that can make a difference. What would your advice be to a millennial? How can they get involved? What can they do and why is this important for them?
Barry: Yeah, well a couple of things. One, a millennial doesn’t want to be called a millennial.
Steve: You got that right.
Barry: They’re young professionals. They want to be respected for being young professionals. That’s the beauty of our Rotaract Clubs, which is 18 to 30 and many stay beyond 30. They want to be with their peers, they want to have fun, they want to have a good time, they don’t want to sit in boring meetings. They want to include their families, because they’re just beginning out and they can’t just be leaving to do service and leave their families behind. So that’s why I’m telling Rotary Clubs, you need to be more relevant to these young people. You also need to be less expensive because they’re just beginning in their careers. So if we can make those adjustments, then the young professionals are going to be welcome and feel welcome in our Rotary Clubs or they’re going to start a Rotary club that does all those things.
But they want to do service, they have a passion for making our world a better place. As young people, they’re looking for a way to do that. They’re not looking for a way to sit in the meeting and be bored. They’re looking at a way of how do I change the world? When they realize that through Rotary they can do that, then they get really excited. I’ve met with these young Rotaractors in some 20, 25 countries and their level of excitement is beyond belief. They are just waiting for somebody.
Finally, we’re talking about it in Rotary, where they can be leaders with us, not just the young people we go to help us but the young people we go to, to say, “Hey, help me. Co-chair this and co-chair that and help give me ideas as to what we can do.” We need to show them the respect as leaders, as young professionals, and not just say, “Oh, they’re our kids and they’re going to help us. We got to change that paradigm so that they truly feel that we respect them as leaders and then they’re going to want to be a part of us.
Steve: Well, that’s terrific. I might say that we have the opportunity to talk with a lot of people and I want to thank you for calling them young professionals because so often millennials, you know, they have this label and it’s not always positive. But my experience has been, is that this is an extraordinary group of a generation of our society. And they have really unlimited ability to tap into their uniqueness to make a difference. So thank you for just pausing and making that distinction.
Barry: Sure. No, and I think it’s really important that we appreciate who they are and how they think and then we can work much better with them.
Steve: Yeah, bravo. Now, I’m always amazed at how fast time goes, our time is up. Any final tips you’d like to leave with our listeners today?
Barry: You know, at the end of the day, it’s all about luck. You want to do good things, you want to make the world better, you’ve got a passion, you not sure how to do it. You may think of Rotary in one way, but rethink the fact that Rotary is making the world better and that you should be a part of it. And if there’s a piece of Rotary you’re not happy with, be proactive and talk to Rotary about, well, let’s do that a little differently. Because now’s the time for change and we’re looking for good ideas and good people.
You’ve got a good heart, you want to change the world, be a part of Rotary because you can change the world through Rotary and you’re going to stand tall and proud when you hear about the amazing things that you’re a part of because you’re a Rotarian.
Steve: Well, thank you Barry for that. And can you give our listeners in that terms of being associated with Rotary…It doesn’t take a lot of time. I mean, tell our listeners what’s involved with this. I mean, you know, it’s a weekly luncheon and then of course, there’s other things you can do, but tell them about what’s involved.
Barry: Well we’re very flexible with clubs these days. So it may be a lunch, it may be dinner, it may be a breakfast, it may be right after work, just having a drink together. As a matter of getting together as a group, having good fellowship, you meet some of the key leaders in your community who you can now work with, and once you do that, you have that fellowship, you can start talking about doing projects and doing good things in the community. But you need to join it. If you’re in a Rotary Club, and you’re young professionals, they only meet every two weeks, they don’t even need to meet every week, whereas the Rotary Clubs usually meet every week but even some of them now are meeting every couple of weeks. We’re trying to get away from having boring meetings and getting to really focusing on what we do best and that’s giving service in the community.
So it’s a matter of joining a club and being a part of what they do, but also being proactive with what else they could do. So we’ve been looking for good people who want to make our communities better. Join a Rotary Club, help them to make the community better.
Steve: Well, you know, I worried about that. I travel a lot and run a couple of companies. But my club has been fabulous. I love them, it’s invigorating to go. They’ve given me flexibility, a schedule. And this is a connection that you have all over the world. You can go anywhere and if you need something, you’re in a city, you can contact your Rotary brothers and sisters and you have immediate family and friend, right?
Barry: I do, absolutely and we have a directory. Once you’re Rotarian, you could pick up the phone and call anybody in any country in the world and say, “Hey, I need some help with this. Could you help me?” And they’ll say yes.
Steve: Okay, well great. Well, it’s been wonderful today. So how can people learn more about becoming involved with Rotary if they’re not?
Barry: Just find out where your local Rotary Club is and talk to one of local Rotarians. Tell them you have an interest and they’d be happy to invite you into their club.
Steve: Okay, well it’s that’s that simple. This has been fabulous today. Thank you, Barry for being part of this show. What an amazing time, it’s been great.
Barry: Thank you Steve. I appreciate you giving time to Rotary. Thank you.
Steve: Oh, you bet. And we wish all of you listening today the very best. Imagine the impact that each one of us can have as we do these kind of things that we’ve talked about. I’m going to go back to and fortunately as each of our listeners know we actually print out the script of this interview today. I’m going to go back and pick out some of these high points and I’m going to use them more fully in my life. So it’s been great today and Barry we wish you all the best in your travels and in your service as the President of Rotary International.
Barry: Thank you Steve. All to best to you.
Steve: Okay, this is Steve Shallenberger with Becoming Your Best global leadership wishing you all the best.
Rob: All right, welcome back to our Becoming Your Best podcast listeners. Excited to have you with us today on this podcast wherever you’re at in the world. We’ve got an amazing guest with us today and I’ll introduce him here in a few seconds. You know, one of the things that we try to do on this podcast is bring to you some of the top thought leaders in the world, whether it’s from the business perspective or people that can really move and influence our lives. Michael is certainly one of those people and I had the chance to visit with Michael about a month ago and if I don’t know someone prior to meeting them, I try to get a little bit more familiar with them and their background so that if they’re on the podcast, you know that they are a person who can really have an impact in your life and in your business.
So I was introduced to Michael about, maybe a couple months ago from a good friend of mine named Randy Garn. We had a great conversation on the phone and he sent me a few links to some audios that he’s done and as I have the chance to drive up and down the Canyon, I’ve been listening to those audios and they’ve had a big impact in my life. I’m around this type of content and stuff a lot and so to say that this is having a big impact is a bold statement.
So I wanted to bring Michael on to this podcast because I know what he offers is valuable to all of us. So with that being said, I want to introduce Michael who’s the president and founder of the Human Communications Institute and he’s a leader in the personal professional development industry and when I say leader I mean a mover and shaker and by mover and shaker, I mean someone who’s delivering content that can really impact your life. It’s not just a nice story, it’s something that can really get deep and be an influence for good in your life.
He works directly with individuals and he also takes that up to the executive level in corporations, really focusing on their culture and high performance. So we’re going to focus on some of those things today. Before we do that Michael, welcome to the show. What else would our listeners like to know about you that you could give us a little background on?
Michael: Well I love it and I’m thinking as you’re mentioning me that you’re listening to the audios and thinking how many calories have I burned, you know, people listening to me going up mountains today and running and listening to the audios and everything? So in a nutshell you said it perfectly. I mean, I’ve had an obsession for a long period of time, our entire company does, of understanding influence in the world, influence when it comes to business and influence in ourselves to do exactly what this entire podcast is about, what you know your listeners are really about is really becoming your best. So it’s just been an obsession for a while, finding out what makes people great, what makes people get started again, what makes people stop and then start later. In a nutshell, you know, going around the earth looking for the best of the best material in finding a way to teach it in very simple ways that an everyday person can use it to impact their life.
Rob: Yeah, that’s awesome. You know, one thing that’s fun about Michael is we share a lot of similarities, Michael and I. We both had the chance to be in front of a lot of different people, whether it’s doing a keynote or whether it’s one on one coaching. We were just talking prior to this podcast and it’s very interesting, it doesn’t matter who the person is, a lot of us, in fact, I would say all of us have different things that we’re struggling with in our lives. You know, some of us want to have better health. Some of us are trying to get unstuck from some things that are holding us back. Maybe it’s relationships. You know, it’s something that’s going on with your spouse. Maybe it’s an issue with one of your sons or daughters.
The bottom line is that we all have something. People are getting held up and they’re getting stuck. So Michael, maybe just from your perspective and background, talk a little bit about that. What are some thoughts and ideas that you have when it comes to high performance, getting unstuck, moving forward? What are your thoughts on that?
Michael: I have a ton of thoughts on them for the amount of time we have. You know, what we can get a point across and see how to crystallize it very, very simply. You hit it on the head. I mean, I just got back from an event last weekend that I was at. You know, the average income in the room, not company percentage, the average like take home was several million dollars a year at a minimum. There were people that companies were doing in the billions in the room and they were making, you know, big salaries and everything and it didn’t matter what other speakers were there. When I started talking about this one very specific topic about the challenges people have and what they deal with, they even brought up Steve Jobs when we watched that movie about his inability to have relationships very well with people, but he was great in one area and challenged in others. If there’s something that you are really great at as an entrepreneur, one of the things that I recognize, we typically battle somewhere else because to be phenomenal at everything across the board, is a challenge in itself. I asked someone once like where do you find these perfect people? They said usually in books and on TV. I mean, that’s pretty much where you go that you find these folks.
To answer your question simply, I believe that the biggest challenge that people have is, whether you’re looking to get ahead and looking to get ahead with the numbers, you want to get your team more motivated, you want to get back in the gym again or you want to accelerate your workouts, is one very simple thing. It’s a feeling that you get, and I can elaborate on this if you want. It’s that feeling you get when you know you want to do something.
I remember back in the day, you know, you wanted to ask a girl out, you’re 15 years old, back before Snapchat and back before Instagram and Tinder and everything, you had to literally pick up the phone and call people. I remember that feeling, one of the first times I had it is that you dial six out of the seven numbers but you’re intimidated to dial that seventh and there’s that imaginary emotion. Remember that feeling? It’s like you want to ask her to sail? You want to ask that person out. You want to tell your wife or husband how you really feel that it’s like that feeling that stops you inside.
A lot of therapists call it fear yet I found a very simple thing and I really set out what that truly is, is that wall that shows up in our lives. I say this to high performers all the time. I said, your biggest challenge is, you’re average and I let that sink in for a second because when I say you’re average, you’re thinking like Michael does peak performance, I make $20 million a year, you know, I run a football team. What are you crazy calling me average? I’m actually not calling you average.
What I’m saying is your average dominates your life and it really is your script that defines your actions, your emotions and everything you do. I could take the time to prove this you today. If there’s anything you can do to become a high performer, is to change what your current average is. That will change the majority of your life. So we can take that anywhere you want to go Rob but I’ll tell you, if you could just accept, I have this in my book, if you can accept the fact your average is the dominating force in your life, all we have to do is then change it.
Rob: Yeah, that is powerful. I think we can use a whole podcast for this because this is the spirit of becoming your best. You know, there’s this quote that we love to use, “Good, better, best, never let it rest till your good is better and your better is best. The moment we get to the point in our lives where we say, I’m fine the way I am, I’m good to go, this is good enough, then how in the world do we get better, let alone to our best? So I love your statement there, your average dominates your life.
So the question is, it’s not a comparison between someone else and ourselves. This is about each one of our best, our average and you just said this. You know, sometimes we get awestruck or star struck by other people. I don’t do that anymore. One of our coaching clients, he made $20 million yet there was many areas of his life when behind closed doors he said, “Man, I’m just not happy.” And this is about what you just said, your average. So why don’t you expound on that. You said if we’d like to expound on that and let’s do that. Let’s expound on that.
Michael: Yeah, I’ll do that and I’ll tell you it’s interesting you mentioned. Instantly when I say you’re average, it’s the title of the book that’s going to be coming. It’s “Average Sucks for a Reason.” I want it to like hit people with a two by four. Because I’m at the airport, I fly, travel, go to the gym a lot. I probably have given out tens of thousands of those shirts over the years. Sold them and given them away. People stop me all the time and they’re like, “Oh man, that’s a great shirt. Man, average sucks, you’re right.” I’ve waiters and waitresses all coming to me and saying, you know, “Hey that’s great,” and then I very nicely ask, “Do you know what that means?” They always say to me, well you know, don’t be average. The answer is, yes correct but we’re not talking about other people’s average, we’re talking about your average.
What I’ve recognized is most people don’t understand what their own average is. So how we get an average and where most unhappiness comes from in the world is when you’re not doing what you want to be doing. Say your heart and your brain are…Like if men are from Mars and women are from Venus like the book, your heart is from Pluto and I don’t know where your brain is from. It could be Uranus but I don’t even know. Like it’s from another place.
Michael: Uranus, I think you’re supposed to say, right? But what happens is like, your heart goes, “I want that, I want to be rich, I want to be happy, I want to be in great shape.” And your brain goes, “How you’re going to do it?” You know, “Sounds great but how about I show you 40 DVDs and HD quality of you screwing up last time.” So here’s where your average comes from. It comes from the script that you live on a regular basis. I’ll elaborate on this, I’ll do it slowly and you can ask questions and I want to make certain that the listener, you listening in, really grasps this. Like you got all the intentions when you go to bed at night to wake up in the morning and be who you really want to be. Like you can put a note by the bed like, “Okay, well here’s my script, here’s who I want to be today and you leave it on the in table and then you wake up in the morning and the most dominating thing in your brain is, wait who am I again? What am I supposed to be doing? And because you don’t have an answer to that question, you reach over on the nightstand, you grab your current script of who you were yesterday and you do it again.
Now, here’s how the whole thing works. So have you ever noticed Rob, like somebody starts doing well, you know in business that feeling you get when…You remember when you first got started? I’ll just ask you, you remember when you first got started years ago in business? What was your first business you had? Let me walk you through this because this will be fun for everybody. You and I will do it together. What was your first business you had?
Rob: Yeah, simple. A little company called Star leadership LLC.
Michael: Perfect. And from the moment you started, it worked out perfectly, right? Like rich overnight, tons of money, everything was great, cash flow was perfect.
Rob: Yeah, exactly. No, I think it’s relatable to what probably anyone who has started a business has felt and that is, am I going to make it? Can I do this? You know, there’s the doubt that we all have. And there’s this little entrepreneur’s graph that I love. It’s this zig zag puzzle and when the guy’s on top, he says, “I’m king of the world.” And then the next day its down and this pit going, “Am I going to survive?” I think we can all relate to that starting a business.
Michael: Well, this is a fascinating thing. So I remember when I first got started in business myself, and I remember the reason I got started. I got started because I wanted freedom. I started because I had a message I wanted to get out to the world. I wanted to make money. And most people don’t realize their biggest problem is their success at some level. So unconsciously, Rob, you get started with this idea and you go ahead and you go, “Bam, I succeeded and I never want to go back where I was again. I don’t want to tell my wife we can’t afford to go on that trip anymore. I don’t want to tell my kids we can’t do that.” And you build a wall behind you saying, I will never go back there again and this is where your average starts getting created, out of mild success. Or you get picked on when you’re a kid and you’re like, I never want to get picked on again so I’m building a wall behind me saying, “Never get picked on,” I’m going to live inside of here and I’m just going to be quiet. I’m going to be like a little shy. So you build an identity for yourself.
So what’s fascinating is at the same moment that you build that wall behind you saying I’m never going to go back there again, you build a beautiful wall in front of you saying, “That’s where I’m headed.” It’s the dream wall. Your goals, your dreams and you stare at it and you’re like, “Oh my God, one day I’m going to get there, the Promised Land.” It’s like your dream boards. I call it like your dopamine rush. It’s like a drug dealer center. All these exciting things that one day you’re going to do and you put them in front of you.
So what happens is, you got two walls to this box and to the right of it, to really, really make your life easy, because this is the point of life. The point of your brain is to find ways to make your life easy. I swear to you average can really mess with you. To the right, you build a wall called your identity. The way you typically you describe yourself to people is like, here’s who I am, here’s who I want to be and here’s what I’m not. So basically you’re describing the inside of your box, the edge of your box and you’re describing the place you never want to go.
Here’s what’s fascinating about your average. You got a wall behind you of where you never want to go again, the dream is in front of you, right in front of you. To the right of you, you got your identity and to the left of you, to make the box solid, you attract, recruit and have conspirators to help you do this. You attract exactly who you need to have as friends and relationships to remind you of who it is that you are so you can stay who it is that you are. So you hire the people that you need to help you stay your average. You get in relationships with people that help you be who you currently are. So this is why if you go to change, you got a lot of explain to do to these other people.
So if you’re a woman who wound up losing 70 pounds, most women do not jump up and down and go, “Oh my God, I’m your best friend, you lost 70 pounds.” No they’re in your life, they’re helping to remind you that you are that overweight person. They’re not being mean but that’s been your identity up till now.
Rob: Isn’t that hence the saying, you know, you become the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
Michael: Bingo, bingo. So basically you build the life of similar types of people, an identity that’s constant, goals that are in front of you and a place you’ll never go back and you know what, it’s comfortable. Now here’s what you don’t realize. Your brain wanted you to get to this place so it’s consistent, it doesn’t have to think so much, it could take a break, you’ll be okay. Here’s what’s fascinating. I’ve worked through enough people in real estate, which is a crazy market. Investor side, big hedge fund guys that get into real estate I’ve worked with. I’ve worked with one on one agents. Here’s what I caught on to. It doesn’t matter the economy. I have seen people in a good economy, in a bad economy, I’ve seen them do the same amount of income. They’ll 150 grand a year during the recession or 150 grand a year before the recession, give or take 10% or 15% because their life is dominated by this average.
I got a few more distinctions I can give me about this, but everyone on the phone is dealing with this. You have built a life to give you what you currently have so you can’t actually be you and get what you want at the same time. So this idea of the better you, you personally as you, your social security number and your identity can do it but you can’t be what you’re currently doing and get what you want if it’s possible because you’ve actually set it up to have what you have, not to get what you want.
Rob: So here’s something I just typed out. Tell me if I’m right in this assessment here. One of the big takeaways, I always look for takeaway, whenever I’m talking with someone, Michael, one of the questions I’m always asking myself is, how can I do better? How can I do better? It goes back to our conversation earlier. I’m not trying to just have this conversation with others. This how I look internally all the time in my own life. So I just wrote a question down and I said in this question, who can we surround ourselves with to help us transform into who we want to become? I’m looking at the people in my life right now and do they make me want to be better? You know, I mentioned Randy’s name. We just ran a meeting this morning for an hour with Randy, a very inspiring and amazing person. I’ve had the chance to visit with you. You know, I think better and live as a result. So wouldn’t this be one of the keys to help someone start to make a shift to their average, is really examine who they’re around on a daily basis and start to move that circle.
Michael: Some of these people and situations have a higher impact. They give you more of a peak emotional experience. So like, if you want to change your average of what it is you do, and this is what a lot of people listening are high performers so their thinking is, “Okay Michael, I got it. I’m going to lower my head and I’m going to run through that wall.” That’s where most people get burned out. You go 90 days, you talk to 50 Randy’s, 50 mes, 50 yous. Then eventually you ignore your business and you’re back in a different problem and you have a whole different problem. You’re not going to get what you want inside of your box. Here’s the fascinating thing and I’m going to get back to your ideas of networking, connecting, getting around the right people in a minute. This is the part most people don’t realize, what you want is over the law, it’s not inside of your box. So the actual wanting it is inside the box. Having it and actually living it and the realization of it, is on the other side. So Randy and I are in your box currently. We are part of your current high level average, but over the wall is a whole another game that we have to learn how to play if we actually want what it is we say we want.
Rob: Yeah and that can be intimidating for a lot of people. So how do you recommend that…Because this is another one of those things that we all get the concept? I think we would all agree and the harder part of this is or I should say the more difficult part of this is how do you do it? Say you have just a regular person listening and it applies to all of us. Someone just out there is listening. How do they do it? How do we do it?
Michael: Well, there’s two ways over that wall. Number one is, know the ladder. A lot of it could be relationships, a lot of it could be with information. It’s going to take some time. The other one is to grow. One of the things I recognize, if you grow you, you just step over the wall and you live in the new box but what most people don’t realize is there is no Promised Land. There’s just another box on the other side.
Rob: Yeah, exactly.
Michael: What’s fascinating about the new box is, the new box you’re in, bring Randy and I along, we’ll be in the new box but we’re going to be on the low end of your box. We’re going to be on the back end. We’re going to be like, I don’t want anything worse than Randy and Michael, right? And then in front of us is the Bill Gates and I’m just using financial metaphors. Do you know what I’m saying? In front is the Dallas Cowboys, in front is the New York Yankees, they’re all in the high front end of this whole thing. So what’s fascinating is, number one is to accept that you created this and the biggest reason why you created this box is, not to get into psychobabble, is to protect yourself and make your life easier.
I mean, do you realize that life these days is so simple. Like I have my daughter watching Little House on the Prairie now because I wanted to see what it looked like. Like she pushes a button, runs to the front door at two years old on Amazon.com wondering why the package isn’t here yet like one second later. So we as humans, life has gotten easy and our brains are always looking to solve problems. So what we’re doing as a culture is we’re creating new problems that don’t need to exist instead of realizing we’ve got to break them as humans. We don’t have to hunt and find her food. We can go to the grocery store. We can have it delivered. Life is easier now and because life is easier, we shouldn’t create new problems. What we should is more opportunities to grow.
So I’ve got a few key words that automatically can solve pretty much any of these problems and help you get out of the average you’re in and in a system for doing this that everybody can start examining to help you make the difference. So what do you think? We give the solution or we give the philosophy first. What do you think will be better for this group?
Rob: Yeah, either one whatever you think is best, let’s hear it. I love it.
Michael: Well, first thing I’ll tell you is, I’m a high performer myself. I’m one of those people that are like, can I do it faster? I remember I was listening to Jeff Yatter the other day on a podcast that he said, you know, his basketball coach gave them like summer drills. So he doubled them. He’s like, “I only do whatever else that I’ll be as good as everyone else so I doubled it.” So a lot of you are going to take what I say and want to double it. I’m going to tell you to slow down and understand the rules of life and how it works. I train on a little something called the 1% advantage and the 1% advantage is a simple thing. Like when I play monopoly for an example. Do you play monopoly with the kids at all? Do you play monopoly?
Rob: I haven’t played that for years. It used to be one of my favorite games.
Michael: Okay, I can be anybody, anywhere, anytime, it doesn’t matter. A lot of people think it’s a game of chance. The reason is, I understand the game. So if you understand like what makes a hedge fund manager greatest, they understand the game. What creates a really good stock picker? They understand things you don’t understand. Have you ever noticed like when you throw the dice, what most people do when they throw the dice, they land in a property, what do most people do?
Rob: Buy it.
Michael: Buy it, right because how many who has the most properties? But that’s not the name of the game. The name of the game is actually monopoly. So the reason I’m bringing this up is monopoly is there to collect monopoly. So there’s three things I understand about the game that give me a 1% advantage and literally I drive my family nuts until my teenager caught on to what I was doing and now she finally beat me. I don’t want admit that publicly but finally beat me.
Here’s what I recognized and this is very important for all of you to realize. Three things I do. Number one is, I recognize the name of the game as monopoly. So if you have a yellow and I have a yellow when I land on one, do you know what I do immediately? I mortgage mine immediately because cash in hand in that game is better than the $12 or 20 bucks you get when someone lands on your property. Then if I’m in a bad position and you have to buy the yellow from me, I’m selling you a bad position of property in a mortgage position. Catch the concept?
Michael: Number two, I never buy the Boardwalk and Park Place. So let somebody else have them. The reason why is they’re too expensive to build on. I buy the cheaper stuff and I want to want to win through attrition, to knock you out. The third thing that I do and I don’t know how much everyone listens to some positive thinking or faith or whatever it is you believe in. Other things that I do before I throw the dice, this may sound crazy, but what if it’s right 1 in 100 times because you’re going to play the game, 1 in 100 times I ask for what I want the dice to be. I’ve done it in Vegas, I’ve been removed from a few casinos for doing this.
I literally ask for what it is I want. Now, I don’t know what your belief system is but what if there’s a little faith and a little possibility that when I throw that dice, 1 in 100 times or even 10 and 100, I can get what it is that I want. Could that possibly give me the slightest advantage believing that I could get what I want? I’m not saying every time, I’m nothing all the time.
Rob: You’re just saying you need one time.
Michael: Are you catching what I mean by that?
Michael: One time. Now, I do it about 30% of the time and I do it in blackjack and other things also, the kind of freaky, weird. I’ve learned to like, tilt the world a little not to freak anybody out. But why not ask for what you want? Why not have a parking spot upfront? Why not have the ideal workout? Why not come home from school and your kids are smiling? Why not plan in your head what you like things to be. So I believe in the 1% advantage.
So I look for little, teeny specs of advantage. Like for instance, if you want to have better health, there’s little things you can do to improve those things. So the reason I brought up the monopoly example gets me to my next point. I look for 1% advantages. Not only yellow glasses at night and I sleep 1% better. It’s fantastic. If when I wake up in the morning, I write on a little board what I’m going to do the next morning, all these little things that I do. Instead of reading a book thinking it’s going to change my life for this podcast. What if checking up a show three times a year gives you a 1% increase in your mindset? How does that affect the rest of your life?
So I’m always looking for a 1% edge. Now, here’s the thing that I’m going to tell you. I’ll give you a prime example. Have you ever talked to anybody that had a challenge at all like something they were dealing with because the challenge is their current average?
Rob: Of course, all the time.
Michael: Give me like a scenario real quick and then I’ll give you the quick rundown because I know we’re going to run out of time.
Rob: Yeah, I’ll give you an example.
Michael: Give me just a person.
Rob: I’ll just give you an example of coaching client, someone who we just worked with. A very successful doctor, huge struggles right now with one of their children who’s in his early 20s.
Michael: Drugs, alcohol, addiction problems?
Rob: A little bit mix of all of it.
Michael: Okay, good and a lot of us deal with that. So here’s what I recognized. We don’t exactly have a problem with our kids. So one of the things that I recognized is it’s not a problem with your kids. You think it’s a problem with your kids, that’s where the emotions get involved. And yes it is physically a problem with your child they’re having but there’s another thing that the current you cannot solve. So here’s the four things that I’m going to give you right now and I’m just going to tell you this is the answer to everything. If you have relationship issues, if your business isn’t growing the way you want it to, you have trouble with your team, it’s only four words and I’m going to give it to you real quickly.
Number one is a word called commitment. Now, if you’re listening to this right now, I know that that dad is committed to his kids. So I can’t say he’s not. And I know for a fact that if you’re on this podcast or listening, you are committed to your business and your life. No questions. The challenge is the second word. It’s called congruency. And what concurrency is, is do you do what you say you’re going to do? I mean, how amazing would it be if all business owners said we’re going to do 100 million this year and actually did what they said they were going to do? I mean, wouldn’t that solve all of our problems. I mean, think about that. Like you say, I’m going to exercise more and get healthier and then literally did it. Do you realize most people, weight issues are a congruency issue, not a gym issue, not a lazy issue. They just don’t do what they say they’re going to do. Do you realize how solvable that is?
Rob: So true.
Michael: The third and fourth, I believe are the missing genes of the 21st century and your clients’ challenge in the first place that I would start. Number three is communication. How we communicate with ourselves and others and I don’t mean one on one conversation. How we understand the human mind, what goes on an addicts mind, a person going through a divorce’s mind, a person addicted to Netflix’s mind, a person that has trouble being consistent mind.
See, a guy comes to me once and he says Michael, I just got back to my therapist, I have chronic anxiety. I said you’re screwed then there’s nothing I can do. He goes that’s not the answer I wanted from you. I paid you X amount of dollars, what are you crazy? And I said, well I can’t help you already have a label. There’s your identity, there’s your box. He goes, “What can we do?” I said well if you come to me and say Michael, I haven’t learned how to communicate with myself in a way that works yet, that person I can help. But I can’t help a person with chronic anxiety. You catch the difference?
Rob: Absolutely. Yeah, one’s in the box, one’s looking at ideas and solutions and where they can be and where they project themselves to be on the other side of the box, to use the terminology.
Michael: So if your client starts to become a better communicator and so you know what, you’re being challenged right now. The current you does not have the communication skills to deal with your son and to deal with yourself. To go to work on a daily basis and come home to kind of deal with it and you don’t have the words yet nor have you employed the people that can help you yet, bing bam boom. And the fourth is the word confidence.
Rob: So let me just pause on that one. So an example of something that someone shouldn’t be saying…We had a friend over for dinner about a week or so ago. He just finished a book and the focus is that what we talk about is what we bring about. So we’ve been very focused on our words…I mean, we’ve been focused on this for a long time, ultra-hyper focused this last week on our words, and it’s amazing how many times we use words that are not congruent with either where we want to be or putting ourselves in the box. So for example, this particular father if he was to say the words, “I can’t communicate with my son,” or, “My son is X,” or, “There’s no way I can get through with him.” Those are all words that establish their line in the sand words. They keep you in the box.
Michael: They establish the identity and then if you agree with that person. So let’s say I agree with that man, so let’s build a box again, I think this is worth going a couple of seconds over because I know that the audience listening right now is dealing with this stuff.
Rob: Yeah, everyone can relate.
Michael: This is real. This life. You want to get ahead in the world, we got to make the world better. So the guy comes over and let’s just say you and I are there at the dinner table and we say, oh man that’s horrible and we agree with that person. The second we agree linguistically with that person, we validate their reality of what it is that they’re saying in such a way that we create the identity that it is true that he does not have the ability to communicate. What I would say when he says, “I cannot communicate with my son,” I would say, “Is it that you currently are unable to or you’ve not found a way yet or you’re done trying done?”
“No, no, I’m not done trying.” Okay, so you’re willing to become a better communicator and search out solutions. That creates a new identity and throws them in immediately over the wall. Now, he’s over the wall and what I said back in the day, never been to the program but heard him say it once on an audio. Throw your freaking out over the wall so you have a reason to go over there. You know what, hat’s over the wall, he just admitted and committed that he has a challenge with this fun area. Does that make sense what I’m saying?
Rob: It’s perfect. So I can’t communicate with my son which prevents anything from going forward. Up to this point, I haven’t found an effective way to communicate with him yet.
Michael: Yes. So you’re going to have to challenge the person. So one of the things I teach in my human interaction technology which is a language, high level, unconscious reprogramming. You’ll understand that when you say something like if you understand the unconscious mind, it’s not some cute little thing you learn in psychobabble class. It’s a powerful mechanism that once you get the concept of it, it’s the type of thing that when you hear it, it offers you the ability to make a difference. So what you’d say to that guy, I can’t communicate with my son, you’d say, is it that you can’t or have not figured it out yet?
Rob: Yes, exactly.
Michael: So basically there’s room to grow. So I run out of my office, how powerful this concept was. I was leaving my office about, I would say, six months ago and I got those angry moments. You’ve ever had one of those angry moments where you get like just totally fired up? I got fired up. I came out of my office frustrated and excited at the same time and I said all right everybody, I’m leaving Tony Robbins, everyone else in the world, this whole get rich and be happy and be powerful thing, we’re not focused on that anymore, we’re not teaching any of that. We’re teaching people how to make their lives work. We’re going to teach people how to influence themselves. Let other people teach people how to be rich. I want to help people understand how to make their life work.
What I recognized is, how can you effectively go through your day if you’re not a high enough communicator? Here’s what the unconscious mind does for us. So that same client, I’m going to ask you a crazy question, is that client working on something business wise that’s got a big plan going on right now remember the child issue?
Rob: Yeah, I would say so. Yes.
Michael: Okay. So here’s the part people don’t realize. We ask for things in this world. This is going to sound spiritual but we ask for things. We say, we want to get ahead in business which requires you becoming a better communicator and more confident. So unfortunately, we get solutions in very strange ways. With this situation, he is being forced through something very important to become a better communicator and grow.
Rob: Yeah, I love it. So combining the one, we have commitment, congruency, communication and what’s the fourth?
Michael: The fourth is confidence. Now, have you seen a lot of confidence in this world lately in people? How many kids like literally these days shake your hand and look you in the eye? How many like normal kids, average kids?
Rob: Very few. Its eyes on the phone.
Michael: It’s a deadly thing, lack of confidence. Confidence in yourself, confidence in what you’re doing. So let’s just play a little game real quick. If you were more confident than you currently are, I’ll speak for myself currently, I was a better communicator than I currently am. I’m a phenomenal communicator but there’s wide limitations, we all do. Did more of what I said I was going to do and was even more committed to my life. Would my life work better?
Rob: Yeah, absolutely.
Michael: So take an example of somebody comes to me and goes I’m going through divorce. It’s okay. You’re physically going through a relationship that is not working completely. What that truly means is, what you’re currently dealing with this moment is two people that have not learned how to communicate effectively with each other or maybe shouldn’t have been together in the first place. What’s fascinating is, if you do want to make that work, what do we need to grow? You need to be more of who you said you were going to be. You need to communicate in a way that may build a radically new relationship for you. You may not get the old one back, but you have to communicate with yourself. I mean, how fun would it be for some people to maybe not get the old relationship back? Get a brand new one. Have the courage and confidence to build an even better one than the one they had, but that requires communicating with yourself that that’s okay based on a new model. This could go really deep right now and I’m not going to go here right now. But most people’s idea of a great life, great business, great marriage is something they saw in 2D when there were five. That’s when they built their box.
Rob: Yeah, which is why the subconscious in many cases drives the results.
Michael: 100%. They watched Different Strokes when we were kids, right? They set up Phillip Drummond and he had a nice, fancy mansion, already watched The Facts Of Life or they watch Friends and they think that’s going to be life, knowing the age of your audience I think I landed the. Do you know what I mean? But the point of this is most of our lives are designed by these false realities that we’ve created and we skip this chance to grow. So here’s the point. You want to grow 1% advantage is actively seeking ways to become more confident. I started and wanted to get in better shape, I started doing Spartan races. I wanted to become a better communicator, I took up more challenging clients. I wanted to become more confident, I put myself in masterminds, I put myself on podcasts like this.
You know what happened? It’s not overnight success, but it forced me to grow and it forced me to become more. That’s what people don’t realize is unless you’re working on, what I call your core four, your commitment, your concurrency, your confidence and communication, you’re going to be in your current box permanently.
Rob: Yeah, well Michael, this has been absolutely phenomenal. I wish we had another hour. In fact, we may do another podcast down the road so we can keep this discussion going.
Michael: Love it.
Rob: There’s so many things that people can use from this podcast. In fact, I would encourage listeners, you know, you’ve listened to this today, put this on the calendar to think about, for we can come back and listen again and let this marinate a little bit and see where this is at and how it applies to your life. I certainly will. I’ve taken great notes as we’ve been talking here and in the spirit of good better best, I think Michael has perfectly illustrated that we can all do better and we have the intention to and we we’ve learned on this podcast some great tools and ideas on how to even further that and move it out of the intention phase. Getting out of the box. And so great notes here. This is definitely one to come back and listen to again.
Michael, obviously we could have gone much deeper even in the time that…I mean, we’ve already gone to 34 minutes. Typically these are 20 to 30 minutes max and this has just been phenomenal. So obviously we could have done a whole lot more. This has still been incredibly valuable and I’m sure there are people who want to know more than we were just able to cover in this short podcast. How can they find you?
Michael: Well, this is what’s really cool. So what I’m going to do is I’m going to make this simple. Every one of you has a phone. I’m going to give you a number. I’ll repeat it twice so you can grab a pen, take a couple seconds to get this. You can always go to Michaelbernoff.com. You can figure out how to spell it or go to YouTube, find me, catch me on Facebook or whatever. Michaelbernoff.com, B-E-R-N-O-F-F, that’ll be in the show notes.
The other thing I was going to say is I set up something simple because I want to make your life pretty easy. Every one of you has a phone, grab your phone and send a text to this number 480, I’m in Phoenix, so 480-800-8051. That’s 480-800-8051 and in the spirit of the show, text “Your best.” You can either do with a space or without a space, “Your best” and I’m going to send you a video on a little bit more about this and how to raise your current average, how to get your team to also raise their average as well and also how to understand this conversation and have it with other people. Really start thinking about this in your day right now. Just start thinking about how many things you do on autopilot which is great. You got a consistent life, your challenge is in consistency. Your challenge is consistently doing the things you want.
So, 480-800-8051, text “Your best” and I’m going to send you a video that is absolutely incredible. It’ll blow your mind. It’s a very, very simple thing that’ll get you thinking and more importantly, accelerate you out of your current average. You’ll enjoy that a lot. So that should be enough right there. I mean, I’m excited to work with you and help out your team. I love what you’re doing in the world man. I love your material, your books, your child’s book and it’s really fun what you got going on in the world.
Rob: Well, I feel the same about you my friend. One more time, what’s the number Michael just in case?
Michael: Yap, it’s 480-800-8051 and text “Your best.” All you do is hit send and like give it a couple minutes, be patient, we got to learn patience and you’ll get an email back. Challenge yourself to take a few minutes and watch that and listen to it, even if you just listened in your car, it’ll be very helpful to hear.
Rob: Well, this has been phenomenal. I highly encourage everyone listening to text that number. It definitely will work in the U.S. You’ll need to send an international text if you’re listening from other countries in Philippines and Africa, Costa Rica. You can also go to Michaelbernoff.com/yourbest and you get access to the same thing.
Perfect. So for our international friends that may be the best bet for you. So Michael it’s been awesome. Huge take home value for people listening to this. There’s one more thing I would encourage people to do and that is to share this with someone else you know. You know, it’s great that we look inside and it’s exactly what we should be doing. How many other people do you know who you could share this with whose life it could impact? So I invite you to be proactive and not just take this internally. Turn around and find one person that you can share this with, who you think it would impact and really help them move forward in their lives and maybe they’ll share it with their teams and you become the ripple effect that truly one person can make a difference.
Michael: Love it.
Rob: So Michael, thanks my friend, you’ve been awesome and to all of our listeners have a fabulous day.
Rob: Welcome back to our Becoming Your Best podcast listeners. This is Rob Shallenberger, your host and I will be with you for a few minutes to have a conversation about some things that I’ve been thinking about recently and my different travels and ventures and meetings with different people around the United States and I hope these thoughts will be helpful to you. They’re very powerful when they’re applied to our lives and our businesses. We’re going to get right into this, we’re probably not going to take too long, maybe 15 minutes. So if you’re in a drive or in a car driving to work or driving to a location, that should be about perfect timing for your drive.
There are three things that I want to focus on this podcast; habits, happiness and ego and how those three intertwine with each other. So let’s start first of all with habits. You know, so much of our success or failure or happiness or misery in life revolves around our habits. These are our daily habits that really govern how we lead our life. One of the reasons I was thinking about habits specifically is I was reflecting on about a year ago an experience I had in Maui where I was doing a keynote for an incredible organization called A Place For Mom. I know quite a few listeners will be from A Place For Mom. Fabulous organization, I love this group and this was their top performers retreat. So while I was out there doing their keynote, I took my daughter Bella with me and I tried to do this with each one of my kids throughout the year and take them to one or two, what I would consider to be cool locations and Maui certainly fit that bill.
So while we’re there, being there a day early, I took Bella scuba diving for her first time ever. It was kind of a cool experience because here we go out there, she’s 13 years old and we’re in a group of about five people with a private guide. It’s a beach excursion, which means we walk out from the beach and then just start scuba diving right from there. There’s no waves so it’s fairly easy to get out and then just go out maybe 100 yards from the shore and it’s 20 to 30 feet deep and so you’re staying fairly shallow as scuba diving goes. So we’re out there, and they gave you this crash course on how to scuba dive. Now I’m certified but this is Bella’s first time ever scuba diving as it is for the rest of the people in the group. So we’re sitting out there offshore, where it’s about five to six feet deep, you can still stand up. The instructor is going through some things that each person needs to know that are critical just to make sure that they can survive. Just the big need to know things.
One of those is how to breathe underwater and how do you use this device that keeps you afloat or helps you to sink when you want to go down. Part of this is how to breathe. So he works with my daughter Bella for about a minute or two, shows her how to do it. And after one or two tries, she’s got it and she’s done. He said, “All right, you’re ready to go,” and I thought that was fast.
Nonetheless, she looked like she was all set. Then the next person in line that he was going to help was about a 60-year-old gentleman. I don’t know who this person was, it’s the first time we’d ever met and he starts working with him on this breathing technique and how to put on the mask and take off the mask. Well after like five or six tries, he’s still not getting it and the instructor you can tell is starting to get a little bit flustered. So again, he repeats it. He’s very patient and over and over they practice and literally this is taking now more than 20 to 25 minutes.
So we’re all just sitting there watching, and this gentleman just cannot get it, this breathing habit. I’ll never forget what the instructor said, finally after he got close enough to where the instructor felt like he could pass him off he said, all right good enough. He looked over at me and he said something interesting. He said, “I love working with kids because they pick it up so fast.” He said, the worst people are those that are in their 50s and 60s, because they have such strong habit patterns that for them to learn this skill is really difficult.
I thought that’s actually much more profound than he may have realized it was. And as I started reflecting on our habits, there’s a thought that comes to mind, the more deeply ingrained a habit, the more difficult it can be to change it. That’s one of the reasons why kids are so great because they can pick something up on a dime and learn it. They’re so moldable, they’re so teachable and so humble at their young age. And yet, sometimes as we go throughout life we get so deeply ingrained in these habits that they can be very, very difficult to break, let alone picking up a new habit and yet it’s these very habits that will determine our long term success and happiness regardless of our age.
So here’s an example of what we’re talking about, pre-week planning. If you are a podcast listener, you probably know what pre-week planning is. You’ve either attended a seminar, you’ve watched one of our videos, somewhere along the line you’ve probably been introduced to pre-week planning. We all know what a powerful habit it is to really sit down on Saturday or Sunday and take 20 to 40 minutes to schedule our priorities rather than prioritize our schedule. So that’s why we always would say that becoming your best is both a mindset and a skill set. Pre-week planning is the skill set, yet it’s the mindset and the willingness to do pre-week planning and the discipline to follow through week after week and month after month and actually make that habit, an integrated part of our lives and that’s when it becomes a powerful tool and skill set.
So with pre-week planning, how many of us have had good intentions and then it just tends to slip through the cracks? One of the things that I’ve found is that when pre-week planning slips through the cracks, it’s generally not an intention issue. You know, we have good intentions to do things, it’s just a matter of we forget or we say, oh dang I just didn’t do that.
Here’s an example of that. I do some things in the stock market and so I’m supposed to check a particular chart every day at 11:23 a.m. Mountain Time. Well, for quite a while there, it would be 1, 2, 3 o’ clock in the afternoon, I would say to myself, “Oh, I forgot to check the charts.” That had nothing to do with intention. My intention was right. It was there, it just wasn’t a part of my habits. So to help with that, I started setting a trigger in my phone. In other words, an alarm on my phone at 11:23 a.m. Mountain Time, and in the text of the alarm I would write, “Check the 233 chart.” Suddenly, every day that alarm would go off at 11:23, it started to become a habit. Now, I still have that alarm every day because I know they’re going to be days when I get busy and I’m just going to simply forget to look at the charts. It’s that trigger that keeps me focused.
So using pre-week planning is the example of the habit that we’re talking about right now, what I would invite you to do is set a trigger on your phone. In other words an alarm for Sunday morning and Sunday evening and use that trigger, that alarm to be a reminder. So write in the text “Pre-week planning” and when it goes off you say, “Oh that’s right, I need to do this.” So the morning of the check to say, “All right, if I haven’t done pre-week planning yet, today’s the day.” The reason you set the second alarm, Sunday evening, is that’s your last chance to do it. Now, if a person hears all the alarms and they still choose not to do it, it’s no longer an intention issue, now it’s a discipline issue, which is a separate discussion.
So that is a powerful way to help develop a habit in our lives and I would invite you to consider doing that with pre-week planning and any other important habits that you’re trying to develop or build. So if you’re trying to be more complimentary towards others or do more random acts of kindness or whatever the habit might be that you’re trying to develop, consider setting a trigger or an alarm in your phone to help remind you so that there’s a connect between the intention and the reality. That’s number one.
Number two is this thought on happiness. I just watched a video yesterday that really tied into this thought and it’s materialism versus happiness. I drive every day up and down the canyon to and from our office, it’s about a 30 minute drive. So on that drive, I have a lot of chance and time to reflect and think about things. So this is something I’ve been thinking a lot about. I had a chance to serve a two year service mission in Bolivia, which happens to be the poorest country in South America. We’re building and working on building right now, and over the course of the next year, we’re really confident that this is going to come to fruition and have a big impact. We’re working on establishing a Rwanda Leadership and Entrepreneur Institute to help this rising generation in Rwanda. We have an Africa tour set up that’s going to be happening in about a month where our top international presenter will be teaching organizations around Africa, the same in India, Vietnam. I’ll be in Guatemala next month. In all these different countries where maybe there’s not as much material or things, there, in many of them, seems to be a higher level of happiness.
In other words, the rate of depression in the United States has gone up by three times over the last 20 years and you think, well, that’s directly opposite of what’s happened to our ease of life around us. We live in a world right now where things have never been “easier.” We have everything at our fingertips with air conditioning and phones and cars and all of these things at our fingertips yet why has our happiness gone down as a whole. That should cause all of us to really think. Part of it is this materialism versus happiness. As we look at our lives, how focused are we? What is our driver? What is our internal driver and if it is more material, if it is more money. There’s certainly a lot of good things we can do with money. So that’s not the implication here that I’m trying to paint. What I’m trying to say, if that is our sole focus, the love of the money, the material, and as it was said yesterday, to buy something that no one even cares if we have anyway.
If that’s our focus, it’s just an unquenchable thirst. It’s a thirst that can’t be satisfied. The thing is, many times if that becomes our quest and our journey, we’re not even going to be able to realize that it’s happening around us. It’s kind of like the frog. We all are familiar with that analogy where, you know, you put the frog in the warm water, you turn up the water and it slowly gets warmer and warmer until it’s boiling and it kills the frog. What’s the temperature of the water around us? In other words, where is our focus truly?
And let’s come back to pre-week planning. If our vision and if our goals and if our pre-week planning are not a part of our habits, then what is driving us? What is our focus and where is our use of time and what’s happening with it? We each have 1440 minutes in a day. Do our daily and weekly actions align with our long term vision? If not, if our current reality is not aligned with our long term vision, there will be a disconnect, and it’s hard to be happy when there’s a disconnect between our current reality our weekly actions and our long term vision.
So speaking of materialism, why is it the in Bolivia this group of kids can be so happy out there kicking a can with bare feet yet we can be so dissatisfied sitting on a nice carpeted living room with a beautiful couch and a cell phone in our hand. So I would just invite you to consider where the source of happiness is in your life right now. Where are you spending most of your time, your thoughts, your energy? Is it going towards the things that matter most, that you can really take with you or is it towards this materialism and these things that we can’t even take with us? So think about that one. Habits, happiness.
And the last one ties partly into that, which is ego. This actually emanated from a discussion that I had sitting in a car with someone a few months ago and he asked, “What is one of the greatest impediments to the success of a leader?” Now, let me put two asterisks and caveats next to my answer here and I’ll explain why. My response to him was ego. Now, we all have ego, so I’m not saying necessarily that ego in and of itself, it’s a bad thing. It’s how we handle that ego that can be one of the greatest impediments to our success. So let me explain what I mean by that caveat. There is a difference between confidence and ego and there’s a difference between having the ego that is something we can’t set aside and it’s a hindrance to our success versus someone who can set that aside and be humble enough and willing enough to learn and invest in themselves and grow, and realize there’s still things out there that they don’t have, that they don’t know.
So let me give you an example. In the fighter pilot world, there’s a big difference between a fighter pilot who is confident versus one who has an inflated ego. The one who’s confident is the one I want to fly with. They’re very confident in their abilities, they’re confident in their experience and their practice. They’re very confident in the jet. Hey you know what, the maintainers have done a great job. It says it’s signed off, I have a high level of confidence and they can go out and execute the mission very well. That’s the kind of person that I love flying with because I know they will generally make smart decisions based on their practice, their repetition. The person that is the, I’ll just say the scariest person to fly with is the one who has the inflated ego, who can’t be wrong, because they’re the ones who will make dangerous decisions because it can’t be them that’s making the mistake. It’s surely got to be someone else.
How are we in our business lives? How are we in our personal lives? Are we confident enough to move forward? Because that comes from repetition and practice? Or do we have a strong enough ego to where it’s got to be someone else that is responsible for this because it couldn’t have been us? That’s the dangerous ego that I’m talking about. So yes, we can be very successful financially and in all these other areas and say, you know what, yeah, there’s an ego that comes with that. However, if that ego impairs our ability to say, you know what, I was wrong in that or how could I do better? Then that’s when it becomes dangerous to us. That’s why one of the things I’ve seen in the best leaders that I’ve interacted with around the world is they have a level of humility enough to set aside their ego when they need to and say, you know what, how can I do that better whether it’s being a spouse or a leader or running their organization.
Let me just give you one example of this. The CEO of Blockbuster back in 2008 said neither Netflix nor Redbox is even on our radar in terms of competition. Now that ego filled statement and not being willing to take advice and suggestions from those around him, that caused his company to file bankruptcy a year and a half later and the people that caused that bankruptcy were the very two companies who said he weren’t even on their radar in 2008. Ego got in the way of his success in that particular case and it cost the entire company. So how do we approach our lives where we’re humble enough to say you know what, how can I do better? Are we investing in ourselves because here’s the thing, it’s not what we don’t know, it’s what we don’t know that we don’t know that should keep us up.
In the F16 they have a warning and a caution light. The caution lights are yellow, the warning lights are red. The warning lights are bad. If you see a warning light, it means there’s something impending that could very easily cost you your life. For example, an impending engine failure. If you see an oil light on that means, you know, you may have 5 to 20 minutes left of the engine running. So a warning light is something you want to react and respond to right now. And in my internal, I’ll call it warning and caution light or panel, there are a few words that I’m always listening for. If I ever find myself saying these words, I hear in the back of my mind what I hear in the F16 when that warning light goes off, and you hear a voice in your headset that says, “Warning! Warning!” These are the two or three words or some variation of them that always will get my attention. It’s this, “I’m fine the way I am. I already have a system that works, I don’t need something else. I’m good to go.” Any of those type of comments, think about what they’re doing to our progress. We just capped our progress because how in the world can we get better, let alone to our best if we’re satisfied with where we are today. And the only reason someone would generally make those comments is when ego gets in the way and we’re not humble enough to say, “You know what, maybe there’s something else out there that I haven’t considered. Maybe there is a better way to do that.” When we have the ability to set aside that ego and ask it in a humble way, man we set ourselves up for great success to develop the right habits and ultimately, really be happy in the long run because we’re growing and developing.
So I hope this has been helpful for you. Habits, set a trigger for the right habits. Happiness, focus on the things that truly will bring happiness and not the materialism that provides a temporary fix is not the true source of happiness. Last is ego. The ability to set aside our ego in a humble way and ask, how can we do better in the various roles of our life? This is the spirit of becoming your best. It’s the mindset, it’s the way great leaders think. This is a journey. You know, as you think about becoming your best, it’s kind of like hiking a mountain. How many have ever hiked a mountain, large or small, it doesn’t matter? Isn’t it true for most of us that when we’re hiking up a mountain, we walk up the first few hundred feet and we suddenly get a view of the valley that we hadn’t seen before and we say, “Oh, this is amazing.” And we pull out the camera and we start taking pictures. And then we hike a few hundred feet higher and it’s an entirely new vista that opens up and we say, “Oh man, this is so much better than the first,” we take more pictures.
That scenario repeats itself all the way until the summit when you get to this incredible view where you can see for miles and miles around you. That’s kind of like what this journey of becoming your best is all about. If we start focusing and forming the right habits, we start to realize this unlimited potential that exists within us. Our happiness really starts to change that we’re truly happy. For some people, it’s the first time ever in their lives, that they will say that they are truly happy and it’s the setting aside of our ego and this willingness to try new things that ultimately will open up that pathway to go from vista to vista to vista and open up entirely new views in our lifetime.
So thanks for joining us on this podcast. We appreciate you, you are amazing. It would be so fun if we could all see each other and who’s actually listening and the ripple effect of the people who participate in these podcasts because you are all over the world and I’m in awe of the things that you are doing on a daily basis. So this is Rob Shallenberger wishing you a fabulous day. As a brief reminder, if you have not taken the personal productivity assessment yet, go to the website becomingyourbest.com, take the assessment. It takes about five minutes. It’s 25 questions. It’s a very strong predictor of your long term success and can help point you in the ways that will help you with some of the things we’ve been talking about on this podcast. So Rob Shallenberger wishing you a fabulous day and a great week!
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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. We’re delighted to have you tuning in and today we have a terrific guest. She is an innovator, a catalyst for transforming organizations into brands that matter. She’s an award winning management strategist and a recognized expert in organizational development and change on a mission to move business as is to business as it can be. Her work spans the boundaries of scholarship and practice in the disciplines of branding, communication, and organizational culture. Welcome, Mona Amodeo.
Mona: Oh, thank you so much for that sounds like I’m a little confused about who I am and what I’m doing. I’m spanning all those disciplines through life’s journey.
Steve: It is. Well, that’s how we get to where we are today.
Mona: Yes, yes, for sure.
Steve: Well, good. Well, before we get started, I’d love to hear a little bit about your background, where you’re from, what’s your story and what brought you to this point.
Mona: Yeah, great. Thank you so much and again thanks for having me here. I look forward to the conversation with you. So story really is reflected in that little bio that you just read. I started out as a former instructor and documentary producer at the University of West Florida. Through a series of events and situations, I decided that perhaps doing something other than that was what I wanted to do in life. And so I started a business in 1989 and that businesses is Image Development Marketing Group was what it was called then. Today is ID Group and we started out really taking some of what I had done at the university, which is really storytelling and figuring out how we might do that for companies and organizations.
And in that process, Steve, I became also very interested in the power of business to really make a difference, a difference in their communities, a difference with the people who worked in organizations. And that led me to really wanting to study more about organization change. How do we really create organizations that are powerful not only from a profit standpoint but also one that supports the health and well-being of the people inside the organization. And so from there studied organization development and change which led me to a research project with a global manufacturer by the name of Interface in Atlanta, Georgia.
I had a real opportunity there to study how a leader changed a culture, this is from a really traditional mindset of take, make, waste manufacturing, traditional manufacturing entity to one that really became one of the exemplars of sustainable manufacturing. Spent several years with interface not working for them but doing research and then consulting. And then so this book really is the culmination of what I’ve learned about how to build brands from the inside out. And if we really think about brands, it means it’s really the definition is, what do you mean to people? And why do you matter? And that’s the name of the book.
Creating brands that matter to customers, employees in the world, at least the subtitle. So that’s the short version of a long story. But ultimately, my work today is centered around helping leaders build as you said, brands that matter. And doing that in a way that is not all about the sizzle of advertising but rather the substance of who you are, what you believe and the difference you want to make in the world both to your customers and employees.
Steve: Okay, good. Well, that’s a great background. And we’re going to talk a bit more about that. And Mona has written a terrific book and it’s called Beyond Sizzle. She just alluded to it but I didn’t talk about it in the introduction. But it’s a fun book and really stimulates you in thinking about our whole role and let’s face it, for anybody that has an idea that they want to be successful with, they have to differentiate that, there’s a lot of noise out there going on. So how do you communicate that? So I think Beyond Sizzle really hits at the roots of this and one of the things that Mona talks about is the story and it had a big impact on her. And I think it’s worth taking a second or so Mona to talk about the story because it gives a little background to this and then we can talk about some of the specifics, if that’s okay.
Mona: Yeah, so thanks. And I did allude that a little bit in talking about the company by the name is Interface and a man by the name of Ray Anderson who was the founder of interface and it was there in that research project where I really began to understand the power of purpose in organizations.
I guess, at some point, you know, I always say, I’m a child of the 60s. And we talked a lot about purpose and passion, all those things in the 60s. But yeah, this is a very interesting opportunity to go inside of a company and really look at how a company changed from the inside out. And the opportunity there Steve was to interview people over there that had been a part of this change process at Interface.
And my question going in was simply this, I had been inspired by companies like that Ben and Jerry’s. I have been inspired by, you know, Anita Roddick at the body shop. And companies like Seventh Generation, who really were using business as a mechanism for sure making money, but also doing it differently than other people that really focused on doing the right thing, doing the smart thing, treating people well and making a difference either environmental or socially. And so those people inspired me a lot.
But I wondered, well, what if you have a company that wasn’t born with that DNA? You know, those founders really started their company from scratch with that idea. So what about a company that isn’t born that way? Can you change it? And if so, how? And that led me to again, Interface the great opportunity to work and learn from Ray Anderson, who passed away in 2011. And to him, this is one of the people my book is dedicated to. And what I came to find was something that sounds so common sense but yet we fail to really pay a lot of attention to is that, when you’re trying to create great companies, people want to work for something that matters to them. They want to believe in something and they want to be a part of something that’s important to them. And what Ray Anderson did was, he challenged this very traditional manufacturing company to be the first name and sustainable manufacturing and to do so not just in words but in deeds.
And so over about a four year period, they literally transformed this organization, both in substance and the soul, if you will, into a company that really changed the dynamics and the definition of sustainable manufacturing. And so my work looked at how did they do that and what was the process. But in the middle of all that, I came to see that it wasn’t just what was happening inside the organization and the impact it was having on people inside the organization but how that purpose trend was translating also to the marketplace.
People wanted to work with Interface. People wanted to come to do business with Interface. And so this whole idea of this alignment between internal purpose and values, innovation, and how that connects to creating meaning in the marketplace is what I learned there. And from there, then I started thinking, Okay, how can I translate this is into something that can help other people do what Interface did and that’s where the concept of becoming a brand that matters came from.
And using that research, as well as some other research I’ve done and others have done. I basically created a process that we use with companies to help them build brands from what I consider the inside out. And that’s called branding from the core. And so that’s kind of it. And that was yes, it was one of those moments in your life where you look back on and go, “Wow, that was pivotal”. And that was 12 years ago. And since then, we’ve been kind of working to help other companies do what Interface did, which is to be profitable, to be purposeful, and to leave the world a little better than I found it.
Steve: Okay, so Mona, thank you so much for that background. I think that was helpful and really give some key insights to a lot of your work and what inspires you. Has it been your experience from your research organizations that organizations that do this, that are able to align their core with the message of what the product or service they provide, does it really make a difference? Can they, are these companies actually able to do that to be successful, to get profitable results, and sustainable and to make a difference? What have you found?
Mona: Yeah, so I think what we need to do is go back to very simple premise. Business exist to meet the wants, needs and desires of a marketplace. And what we know today from various studies, pickup fortune, pick up any of the major business magazines as well as a lot of research is being done, is people want to do business with and work for companies that stand for more than their products and services.
It is a driver of reasons people buy products and services, and also with a new generation of employees, they want to feel that what they do matters. And so from a pure, just basic 101 standpoint, how do we attract and retain customers, employees; we understand that this idea that your organization has great products and services. I always say you can’t make money purely on purpose.
You’ve got to still have great products and great services. But people want to engage with those companies that do. Some research has been done that shows that from a pure public entity stand point, these companies outperform, from a profitability standpoint, companies that are not values based companies. So there’s plenty of research out there, Steve, that shows this. But, you know, beyond that, beyond just the idea that, you know, if they perform better they do better is just basically saying to leaders, what kind of company do you want to have? Do you want to have a company where people feel engaged, excited, and motivated? Do you want to have a company that is a contributor to your community? Doesn’t it just make just in a very practical sense,
there’s plenty of detailed research out there but just on a very practical sense; If you have a choice between being a company that destroys and creates environments where people are not treated with respect and dignity versus one that , wouldn’t you want to have that and then if the research clearly shows that those companies perform better, do better are more innovative, retain employees better, retain customers better.
It just makes sense. So the answer is, yes. There’s plenty of research out there that shows that and then just from a pure leadership perspective, leading those kind of companies also reinforces the integrity and pride of a leader. Knowing that they’re leading those kinds of organizations and not one that’s destructive.
Steve: Well, we totally concur. Oh, and thank you for sharing that. Because that’s exactly what we have seen in the marketplace. These organizations exercise leadership, where they set a vision for their organization and have a plan that’s in line with a passion, with the desire to change the world for good and then that’s reflected in the culture.
The very same feeling that that vision and purpose permeates every part of the culture, which then unleashes this kind of magic, which creates the ability perhaps to communicate better what that sizzle looks like. That it’s not just a product but it’s- you know, soul and heart and everything else. And, and so it’s it is authentic, I mean, people feel this.
Mona: I think what’s really important there, you just said the word authentic, right? There’s two kind of key words today as we look at the world of communication and branding because if we pause here a moment just to kind of look at this word branding, because everyone has a different definition of what that means. For me, a brand is simply the meaning people associate with your name. Branding is the process of creating that meaning. In the past, what we’ve done is most of our efforts to create that meaning, that brand, if you will, has been focused on external communications; the sizzle, the great advertising and all of that is still important. I mean we have to, people can’t buy what they don’t know about, right? And that’s the role of advertising is to share the story but increasingly, what we’re seeing is that people want to understand what’s behind all of that, they want to understand the authenticity of what you’re saying you are. And I think that’s what’s so important about what you’re doing with your work. And what I’m trying to do with mine is to say, you know, we don’t live in a world any longer, where people just believe what they read, you know, with the interconnectedness of the internet, you know, that people are increasingly skeptical on top of that. And so this idea of aligning who you say you are, with the substance of what’s happening in your organization is crucial to building the success that businesses need to build.
So I think your words those transparency, authenticity is important, and you can’t fake that. You just can’t fake that. I mean, because your best advocates are the people inside your organization. The people who helped shape and share your story are the people inside your organization. So the more honest you are, the more forthcoming you are, with trying to really build that culture where the values that you profess are actually translated to behavior is absolutely critical, in my opinion to building brands, meaning the meaning that matters in a way that that people trust you. And that’s what all of this is about is creating trust.
Steve: Okay, that’s really terrific. And you mentioned that there are some really powerful disruptive forces that are challenging the bonds of press that’s needed to create strong corporate brands. Can you talk more about those?
Mona: Yeah, I just alluded to this a little bit, Steve; I think there’s three of them. And they’re coming at you from different levels. So at one point, you have this extreme skepticism. People just don’t believe for good reasons corporate communications. I mean, if we look at some of the deception that has gone on, people don’t trust, and so this idea that increasingly, we are seeing a skeptic society that is demanding, prove it, number one.
Number two, we live in a very hyper connected society where anything that you do and say is likely to show up with you know, on Twitter and Facebook and everything else and so just the nature of the hyper connectedness that we are at one point in our world of branding, you have these brand managers back in the days of the madmen, and the great days of advertising in the 50s. All of those guys control both the message and the medium, today that’s not the case. We live much more in a matrix of communication, where the control really to a large extent is in the hands of the marketplace, and their ability to share good and bad is just exponentially growing.
And then the third piece you and I just alluded to, in our conversation earlier, is that people want more from organizations and products and services. Frankly, there is a great deal of parody. And so why should I choose this over that? And to a large extent, it has to do with the values and the purpose of the companies who produce those products. You know, are these companies good citizens are they just take and there’s no real social contract that right, we just take, we use the money, you know, the people at the top make everything and everybody else is left with a crumb.
So I think those three forces the skepticism of society that’s continuing to grow, the hyper connectedness that is being increasingly propagated through the internet, and the third thing is that people are looking for companies that stand for something. So you put all that together even if you want to say you stand for something, you better stand for it, because now people are skeptical, and they can either sing your praises or destroy you via various social media channels. So the people are in control. Our job is to make sure we deliver great messages, we do things that matter, and we make sure we live and walk the talk that we put out there.
Steve: Well, Mona, one of the things that you talk about, one of the words you use was having loyal customers. And indeed, today’s customers, once you have their loyalty they’re far more patient with you, because they understand who you are. But the consumers of today, you’re right, the world’s change, they’re far less patient. If they sense that you’re not honest or if you can’t deliver or are not providing a great value, there’s a lot of other choices frequently and they’re going to go there. But once we have a loyal customer base, they frequently will stay with you through thick and thin as long as you can deliver on those kinds of things. They’ll share your passion, and you know that and they’ll want to be part of it. So, okay, well, good. Just a quick question. This is what happens if a company is having a hard time figuring out how to describe the sizzle? What do you recommend to them?
Mona: Yeah, I think the sizzle when you say, you know, they’re having a hard time telling their story, basically. And I think the difficulty of telling that story maybe is that they don’t know what their story is, and nor do they understand where they fit within the marketplace. So my belief system is that the story begins inside the organization. And so when we start and work with our clients with helping them kind of create the sizzle so to speak. We start with really dialogue sessions inside the company, asking the people inside the company, what they believe? What makes you unique? What makes us different? What makes us better? What difference are we making it the world? And so the story, the narrative that the organization tells itself is really where all of this starts. And so I think that what’s really important when you think of the sizzle, the sizzle translated really, Steve, is about what is it that matters to the people that you’re talking to, and you’re talking with, and the more authentic you can be about who you are, the sizzle is, is in many ways, for me the authenticity of your story.
You know, if we just break this down and say this is all about relationships. Think about people that you like. Think about the people in your world. Forget about business for a moment. Just think about the people in your world that you choose to talk with, that you choose to have a relationship with. What are some of the foundational things that that that create those relationships? You look for things that you have in common, you listen, you share ideas, you talk about hopes and dreams, you stand behind a promise that you make and it’s really that simple and that complicated. And I think sometimes those of us in the branding world that communicate, we got to do six of this and five of that for these, and we’ve got to measure this and measure that, and it can just get overwhelming when we really if we take it down to the very simple human interaction.
That interaction between, I want to understand you, you want to understand me, there’s something that we can do for each other. And you can trust me that if I say, I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it. And so it’s those kind of human connection that the story has the ability to create. And so when we go back to this idea of authenticity and transparency, it’s not let’s go figure out what people want and tell whatever they want. The answer becomes what is it we want to share with the world? And what is the world looking for.
It is that what we call the sweet spot of branding where we connect with what people need, want, and desire and what we believe we can bring to the world. So that’s where the authenticity comes from. It’s not, let me just be anything to everybody and say whatever is needed. What’s the latest buzzword? All of that is what can destroy, I believe, a brand. On the other hand, it’s when you really stay true, and tell the story around that truth and authenticity and you will connect people to you using that type of “sizzle”.
Steve: Okay, I love the answer. That’s a great answer. Well, I’m always shocked at how fast time goes and our times up. And this is a fascinating book folks. It’s Beyond the Sizzle. And the bottom line is today, it isn’t enough to sell just the sizzle. There’s a whole lot more that goes into it that really allows us to create this sustainability. This long term impact in the world for good. So before we sign off Mona, any final tips that you’d like to leave with our listeners today?
Mona: Yeah, I think Steve just I think in summary, I think I wrote this book after being in business for 30 years. And I believe very deeply that the world is looking for companies who stand for something and stand behind what they stand for. I believe employees want to work for places where they believe they matter. And I believe leaders have a tremendous opportunity to do both. Create a difference in their communities and the world, create a difference for the people they serve, and in the process of doing so build a company that is prosperous. And so that’s my hope that we’re able were able to do that.
Steve: Okay, well, great. And how can people find out more about what you’re doing?
Mona: Thank you. So you can reach me at Monaamodeo.com, and the book Beyond Sizzle: The Next Evolution of Branding is available at presale right now on Amazon.com, and it will be released September the fourth I believe. So we’re looking forward to that. And I really, really appreciate the opportunity to talk with you and for you to help me spread the word. And again, I respect everything you’ve done. Thank you for what you’re doing to create a more positive business environment.
Steve: Oh, you bet. There we go. September 4. How exciting! I bet you’re pumped!
Mona: Yes. Yeah. Yeah. Well, it’s always a little nervous. So hopefully I’ve said something that will be worth people reading in and then I can make some contribution to what I’m trying to do here.
Steve: Well, congratulations. And we wish you all the best as you continue to make a difference in the world. And to all of our listeners. Never forget you too are making a difference every single day of your life. That’s really the heart and the spirit of becoming your best. We just keep at it, we keep trying to make our good better and our better best and what happens is in the process we touch a lot of people for good. Thanks for being with us today. This is Steve Shellenberger with becoming your best global leadership. Wishing you a great day.
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