Monthly Archives: October 2015

YOP061: Millennial Leadership with Dr. Hans Mumm

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Bio: US Army Captain (Ret) Hans C. Mumm…now Dr. Hans C. Mumm was a mustang, serving eight years in the enlisted ranks and over eight years as an officer before becoming a wounded warrior and medically discharged in 2010. Leadership is his passion and has been the key to his success. He is a dynamic speaker through a range of topics including leadership, drone/UAV issues, advanced technology future challenges as well as the human trafficking phenomena and the challenge of human communication.

He is an entrepreneur at heart and through years of self-improvement and a high need for achievement Dr. Mumm’s business partners claim “he is able to do more in 24 hours than most people do in a week”. He bought his first rental property at the age of 21 and has been learning how to leverage real estate, finances and time ever since. He is the founder of a UAV integration company, a property management company, as well as a management consulting company. Through a variety to positons in multiple US Government agencies Dr. Mumm has seen the value of leadership and the need to embrace change and not fight for the status quo. He has been able to achieve success because of his time management choices, his peer group, and focusing on the long term.

He served as the officer in charge of the “Iraqi Regime Playing Cards, CENTCOM’S Top 55 Most Wanted List” which was touted by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) as one the most successful Information Operations (IO) in the history of DIA. Dr. Mumm has won numerous awards and accolades for his dedication in supporting homeland security and America’s strategic global position.

Dr. Mumm is a proven leader in a diverse set of fields including technical investigation, scientific research, military intelligence and small business owner. He is a published researcher in both the scientific and social science arenas. His published works include Embracing the Need for Leadership in the New World of Unmanned Vehicles and Robotics, Managing the Integration and Harmonization of National Airspace for Unmanned and Manned Systems and co-authoring, The Multi-Fuel Optimization System: A Technical Discussion, and drafted Legislation to Establish a National Inter-Agency Working Group To Develop Policies and Protocols On the Use of UAVs and Robotics, along with several other works. He has notable experience in research and systems engineering which includes emerging and disruptive technology for offensive and defensive missions supporting US and coalition operations.

Dr. Mumm is highly skilled in designing policy and governance for advanced technologies including unmanned vehicles and robotics earning his Doctorate of Management (with a concentration in homeland security) from Colorado Technical University (CTU). Dr. Mumm’s unique skill set is a hybrid resulting from on the ground tactical combat experience and many years spent in strategic homeland security roles consulting on policy creation and fielding new technologies within the intelligence community. His UAV and robotics policies have focused on determining the specific uses, exceptions, and allowances; including studying the unintended consequences, future use and misuse of such technologies.

Dr. Mumm has earned twenty-three personal military ribbons/medals, six military unit medals/citations, and two Directors Awards from the Defense Intelligence Agency. In 2005, Dr. Mumm was recognized as one of the “Ten Outstanding Young Americans and in 2003 he was awarded the National Defense PAC “American Patriot Ingenuity Award” for service during “Operation Iraqi Freedom”. Dr. Mumm is an instructor with American Military University and California University of Pennsylvania. Most recently, he has been offered a fellowship with the Cyber Conflict Documentation Project to research autonomous systems in the physical and virtual worlds.

Dr. Mumm participates in many philanthropic endeavors including supporting BARN, a transitional housing and intensive case management service to homeless mothers and their children.

In his spare time, Hans enjoys flying his Solo Drone with a GoPro 4 and riding his motorcycle.

Transcript

Zephan: Hey, everyone! This is Zephan Blaxberg from the Year of Purpose podcast, and today I am joined by US Army captain, retired, Hans C. Mumm—now, Dr. Hans C Mumm. Was a mustang serving eight years in the enlisted ranks and over eight years as an officer before becoming a Wounded Warrior and medically discharged in 2010. Leadership is his passion and has been the key to his success. He’s a dynamic speaker through a range of topics including leadership, drone and UAV issues, advanced technology, future challenges, as well as the human trafficking phenomenon and the challenge of human communication. Through a variety of positions in multiple US government agencies, Dr. Mumm has seen the value of leadership and the need to embrace change and not fight for the status quo. He has been able to achieve success because of his time management choices, his peer group, and focusing on the long term.

And I didn’t want to ruin the rest of your bio so we can share some things here today. So I skipped over a couple pieces and I’m sure we’ll get into it momentarily. But how are you doing today?

Hans: No worries—I’m doing outstanding, are you kidding? I woke up in the freest country in the world and nobody’s shooting at me today. It’s a great day, don’t you think?

Zephan: My grandfather always says “I’d rather be vertical than horizontal.”

Hans: Absolutely!

Zephan: So tell me just a little bit—you shared right before we jumped on the call, but I’d love to hear some of your history with the military and maybe a couple of your experiences that have led to speaking on leadership and how to become a good leader today?

Hans: Well, I’ll thank you, first, for having me on your show. I really appreciate it. My roots started more in the humble days of being in Reno, Nevada. My family has always been in the military in different ways. My dad was in during Nam; we lost an uncle to Nam. My great grandfather is actually brigadier general Elmer Erickson. He was the first commanding general of Buffalo soldiers. So service has always been in my family and in my blood. I never imagined in my entire life that I would do almost seventeen years in the army and I would end up in combat multiple times.

So it’s a little bit different of a path, but where that path led me though was to find that the need for leadership in the human spirit is there. People want to be led, I want to be led by great leaders. The people that I’ve dealt with want to be led by great leaders. What I’ve discovered over time, which is part of where the book is—it goes into—is looking at the idea of freeing that human spirit and allowing that spirit to be able to grow an be led, but be led in a way that they feel not only comfortable, they feel safe people will go out and do more for you if you allow them to.

So one of the big issues that we have right now in today’s society is that we get into situational leadership and we also put people under our thumbs, and the challenge is when you micromanage people, the only thing you’re going to get is the result you micromanage to. If you allow people more of a non-linear, non-authoritarian self-organized entities, they will amaze you.

Zephan: Yeah. So I have found, just in my experiences—obviously not nearly as large as an experience as yours with leading a group of people—but through high school, I was in a youth group as a leader. In college, in a fraternity and also as an employee in the recreation center, I led three hundred student-staff. I guess I want to kind of start out first with the question of which came first, the chicken or the egg. Do you think that people can be born as leaders, or is this something where either a situation comes along and they’re thrust into a leadership role or they learn these abilities over time?

Hans: So I think that the answer to your question really his both. There are some natural born leaders out there. Whether you love or hate politics, it doesn’t really matter, we do have some natural born leaders out there. President Obama, he can rally people to his cause very easily. So we see the leaders that are there. So some of these leaders are born. You’ve seen leaders throughout history that they come up through the ranks and you think “Did somebody guide this person?” How in the world did Schwarzkopf become an incredible general and a leader? How did Colin Powell, who ended up—he was wounded many, many times, he had a very difficult upbringing… How did this many become such a leader?

So I would say, in a lot of ways, some of those people, yeah, they were born leaders, but they need mentors around them. They need people around them to bring that out. I think that it’s all situational as well as mentorship or leadership around you. I will tell you my personal, quick story, which is I had a full-bird colonel, Colonel Servinski—I was enlisted when 9/11 occurred. He saw more in me than I saw in me and pushed me to accept a direct commission, which I found out later only 10% of the US military’s ever been directly commissioned. He pushed me to be a leader. So it was all situational as well as mentor. He mentored me to be a leader, but now I was pushed into a situation where 9/11 occurred and I had to lead.

Zephan: So that’s a very interesting scenario there, where you were kind of thrust into that role, but I’m sure that many people have the skills to kind of take it on headfirst and not run into many issues there. I guess my question from here is kind of did you have any other situations, especially during the war, where you’ve experienced other people who have tried to rise to the challenge and for some reason or another it just hasn’t worked, and what do you think they could have done differently? Because not everybody can rise up and have somebody follow them.

Like you said, Obama, it’s very easy for him, but I’m sure there’s other people where, if I go—here’s a great example: I live in Baltimore, and if I just go walk downtown and all these protesters are outside the courthouse and Black Lives Matter and all these situations going on, and I just start to yell and scream and try to get people to listen to me and pay attention, they’re probably not going to. So have you ever found certain situations where it’s extremely hard to become a leader, whether it’s a situation or the group that you’re trying to lead, and what could be done better?

Hans: So I actually have a perfect one for this one. So at the beginning of the Iraq war, I ended up volunteering to come on active duty. And, at the time, I was with a unit that was over with the Defense Intelligence Agency. And I was updating a database, I was not doing anything exciting. I didn’t feel that I was contributing at all. I felt I was showing up for no good purpose. And I had a group of enlisted around me who actually knew me when I was enlisted and as an officer and they felt the same way. And what I did was I tried to work through some of the chain of command, “I really want to do something different. How do I actually contribute?” and it just wasn’t working. Because I found that some of the command structures, especially military and in the civilian world with the government, they get a little more worried about their careers than they do about the situation.

So what I did, I grabbed up a group of guys and I said “Guys, do you like what you’re doing?” and they said “No.” I said “Okay, let’s go change the world.” And they said “Well, what do you want to do?” And I did go and talk to my company and sort of got almost the permission to go off and do crazy things. And my deal with them was that we were going to create intelligence products that were going to change the world. Now that’s a pretty big statement, and I’m a little second lieutenant nobody sitting at a desk. And what I did was I grabbed up these guys and the spark in their eyes when they hear that they were gonna get an opportunity to go and change the world, it was incredible.

So, next thing you know, we’re out working twelve hour days, we’re working fifteen, twenty hour days, and we don’t care. Because they’re so hungry for that leadership, they’re so hungry to go and do great things. So what we ended up doing was we created several different products, and one of the more famous—or infamous, depending on the way you look at it—is the Iraqi Regime playing cards with Saddam as the Ace of Spades. So our group put that out, and that was not always loved by everybody up and down through the chain because I did not go through the normal chain of command in order to do that. What they did, though, was it galvanized me as a leader with the folks that I dealt with and with other people around me who said “Look at this guy, he was willing to take a risk, he was willing to step out, and his rank is completely meaningless because he didn’t let that stop him at all.”

So I think when you book at leadership traits, you have to look at—one of them is risk and sometimes it works and sometimes it does. Now, keep in mind that I did get in a little bit of trouble for doing that, however when it went on to the international stage and became a big hit and it worked very well and it was culturally sensitive as well. I know that sounds a little strange, but the Jokers were actually instructions to the troops, because I wasn’t trying to make it a laughing matter to go and deal with this, this was something that our president and our congress decided that we needed to go do. We’re a civilian controlled military. What I do is I support them. So to be able to take that and really understand how do we do this, how do we make this into something that is great? And now myself and my team sit in almost every major military museum in the entire world.

Zephan: Wow. So I think that at some point you kind of have to create that disturbance if you’re trying to make a change. That was something that I even saw on a corporate retail back when I was working for Apple. I went to the managers and the people above me and I saw issues that were going on that could have easily been fixed and how we could have enhanced customers’ experiences and you’d think that a company like Apple would really care about that stuff. They are all about the experience. That’s why there were Apple stores long before there were Windows stores. It was all about the experience.

And so when I found I couldn’t or they weren’t going to allow me to advance the way in which I’d hoped I could, that’s where you kind of have to kind of create the disturbance. So, for me, it was leaving. And the funny thing was it was like a domino effect, because a lot of people left right after that. And, for other people, you can either settle and stay there and deal with where you’re at right now or you can try to create that disturbance and hope that it makes a big enough wave that someone sees it and goes “Alright, we need to make a change.”

Hans: I agree, because you’re also—throughout my career, even as a Wounded Warrior, it was a very tough time in my life, but it was also a time when I needed to continue that leadership. And sometimes you just want to go home and go to bed, you’re just like “Okay, I’m done with this leadership idea. Can I just follow somebody now?” But that’s not always the destiny that you’re put on the planet for.

So when I ended up, even when I was a Wounded Warrior, we had guys who they could find their medical records or they didn’t feel that they were getting care, they didn’t feel that the doctors were listening to them. They had headaches, they had migraines, they had different issues. And so, what I did was sort of blaze the trail again in order to be able to make sure that folks were being taken care of. And even in my own spare time, I worked with Walter Reed on a couple of different projects, being able to get books on tape and things like that. Because when you’re laid up in bed, sometimes the first thing is you can’t concentrate and the second thing is you really—you don’t want to read. Sometime you do, but a lot of times, you—it’s difficult to read, you’re in pain. So what I did was I looked at the solution as more of books on tape, because you want to be able to continue engaging the mind, engaging the person to keep them engaged in your life.

So I worked on that project as a separate project on my own, but that was just one of those things where you never know where—sometimes, as leader, you want to sit down and you want to be led, but sometimes that’s just not gonna happen, so you have to be willing to grab another cup of coffee—and coffee definitely is the nectar of the gods. Grab another cup of coffee and continue moving in a direction.

Zephan: I tell you what, coffee has been one of my big secret weapons with just being productive and being able to accomplish more in the same amount of time. If you’ve never tried it, for yourself and for everyone listening in, Bulletproof Coffee, while it sounds very off, some people don’t like it, but basically it’s a tablespoon of grass-fed butter and a tablespoon of coconut oil blended into your coffee. So there’s no sugar, there’s no added cream or anything like that, but you chuck it in the blender and you blend it up for like thirty seconds.

My roommate, being a personal trainer, swears by this stuff. And when I started drinking it, it’s basically almost all the boosts and effects of caffeine but you don’t get that weird jittery feeling. So just something for our listeners to check out. I personally have tried it out, I love it. I feel like I’m wired all day long when I try it so I can’t do it every day, otherwise I would just—like the Energizer Bunny. But yeah, I highly recommend coffee.

So tell me a little bit about this book that you just put out recently. I would love to hear the title and what sort of things you talk about in it.

Hans: So the title is Apply Complexity Leadership Theory to Drone Airspace Integration, and although that sounds like a big mouthful, really the book was built out of my dissertation. So I did an application of my dissertation for my Doctorate with this, and what I did was I saw two issues coming out of the book. One is really the idea of how to harmonize the speed of innovation and change with the human spirit’s need for leadership. So part of the book is really about leadership and looking at the idea of right now we are very linear and authoritarian, especially when you look at governments and organizations, their matrix. We’re very linear and authoritarian. The millennials are not going to take to that and they don’t take to it. So if you have a millennial right now and you say “You’re going to do it my way because I told you to do it my way.” What are they gonna do?

Zephan: Well, this is kind of like the theme of my life. I revolt at any point that I can.

Hans: Exactly! And that’s exactly what’s gonna happen. So now let’s change the paradigm, and that’s really what I was attempting to do here, was shift the leadership paradigm to a non-linear, non-authoritarian self-organize entity. What I mean by that is what I did, first thing I basically put it against the problem set of drone airspace integration. So I wanted to be able to show examples.

Let me give you an example of a self-organized entity. There’s an organization out there called UAV Aviators. Patrick Meier’s group, and what they do is they’re a group that deals in humanitarian uses for UAVs. And what they did was it’s a completely self-organized group, no government is involved, no government said there was a requirement, nobody said “We have to do this.” Patrick Meier’s basically a guy who deals in big data. He understands drones are basically trucks for censors so it goes how and gets data.

So he creates this organization here you can enroll—and again most organizations these days are actually self-organized. So if you look at Uber, you look at Facebook, you look at all these things, they’re self-organized. So he created UAV Aviators, a self-organized entity. You go on, you sign on on the website, you agree to the terms—and the terms basically, not to bring them all the way down, it’s basically “Don’t do stupid things.” It’s not “Sign your life away.” It’s not twenty government pages’ worth of regulations or anything else.

But the interesting part of it is that they’re not trying to go outside of the regulatory bodies. They actually have on their website the regulations for every single country, what their drone policies are. So when people sign up, they agree—so if they have a drone—there’s different categories, so if you have a drone and you want to fly during a humanitarian crisis, you can do that. So that they do is they put all this stuff together and they actually have better policies, better regulations, better education, and they’ve got an amazing group of people out there.

I’ll give you an example: Nepal. Nepal, they had an issue several months ago. Four hours before Nepal was even on our radar here in America and really being tweeted out there and a lot of news stations and everything else, I got an email about two hours before that from UAV Aviators, and they were basically saying “Does anybody have assets in the country? We’ve got people trapped in buildings.” So here’s a self-organized entity that can do what appears to be more than what the governments can do and more than what the private industry can do because they’re self-organized. They’re there for their own purpose.

And the funny part about that is that truly, a lot of our own organizations out there that are successful today, like I mentioned Uber and Facebook, these are self-organized entities, but at the same time if you go to corporate America and you go to the US government right now for policy help, what’s the first thing they’re gonna do? They’re gonna look and say “Our leadership is linear and authoritarian.” Even though the major companies that are making major money are non-linear, non-authoritarian self-organized entities.

Zephan: So basically, they government’s gonna put a lot of obstacles in your way. It’s not impossible, but it’ll probably seem impossible at first because they’re basically going to say “There’s no way you’re going to be able to make this change.”

Hans: Well, the challenge is our entire thought process, when you look at government policy in governments, is designed to be slow. That is a real issue. So, right now, we have an issue where technology is changing the world faster than our world leaders, and the governments can actually align the policies and governance and rule of law to these new technologies. Well, if change is the only thing guaranteed to us, we can either fight it or we can align with it and move with it, and that’s where I’m really trying the new leadership paradigms that I’m putting out is moving towards.

So, right now, the government is still very stuck in the idea of very linear processes. So to give you an example, the Aviation Rules committee, when you’re looking at the drone issue, it takes approximately five years to change one rule. Technology moves at speeds that are eclipsing this, so we cannot continue along these lines and think that we’re going to somehow lead our way out of the problems that we’re in or that somehow people aren’t going to take it on on their own. The drone issue is a prefect issue. If you look, the FAA’s had twenty to twenty-five years to put out legislation and policies and everything else. They’ve got a basic framework out there, but right now all technology ca be used for god or evil. It really depends on the governance of the leaders, on which way that’s gonna go. And right now, that’s not working out very well.

Zephan: Yeah, and being a videographer, I see a lot of this first hand. With the personal drones, I’ve got a guy I’m sending out on Thursday in just two days here with a drone to shoot some footage for me, and they still haven’t been able to solidify the laws based on what you can or cannot do with these things. And so there’s a lot of people who are upset that they’ll get yelled at if they take a drone to a state park and fly it around just for the fun of capturing a gorgeous view of the Grand Canyon or whatever is out there. So it’s really interesting to see that because most of the people find the drones are millennials. For starters, we are the ones that like to cause a little bit of trouble.

I guess it kind of begs the question, what can we do as millennials to create a shift in the government, in the leadership that has surrounded us just in the overall community that has been created for us? Because this is what we’re inheriting.

Hans: Well, I think—first, let me address the drone really quick. I actually own a drone, and I’m not a millennial. But I fly solo myself. And the challenge, again, is that the technology can be used for good in the way of being able to deal with humanitarian—they actually have an ambulance drone that’s out there now. It actually carries a little bit of medical supplies and has a phone on it so you can [inaudible 24:23]. It’s really incredible stuff, but then on the opposite end, you’ve got people—there was a drone that was used as a weapon the other day in Seattle. There was a gay and lesbian rally going on, peaceful march down the street. Somebody was filming it. One of the people actually flipped the drone off, upset the drone user, and then he flew it right into her. Knocked her out, could’ve killed her.

But the challenge is, again, because policies and laws and everything haven’t caught up with all of this stuff and appear to be a long way away, when that occurred, the police showed up. Well, what’s 911 gonna do against a drone? Who knows? So they showed up and they took the drone and tnhey put an APB out for a white guy with a girl tattoo. Okay, that’s not realistic. So on the drone issue, it can be good and bad. Keep in mind, you’ve got crazy stuff that technology is moving out there. You can actually use drones now to fly over a building and inject malware into somebody’s network. So the stuff that’s out there is absolutely incredible.

So how to the millennials keep pushing on this? First thing, I think it’s an education piece. I’m not sure it’s the millennials job at this point. I do think it’s my generation’s job. I think the millennials can help by kind of taking a deep breath and understanding that the same things that my generation says about the millennials, by father’s generation said about me. We don’t listen, we’re rebels, we just want to do it our own way.

But I think there’s a radical shift that people aren’t talking about. And that radical shift comes down to the idea that generations in the past, they looked up to leaders because they had the knowledge. And that knowledge came to them from leaders before them. So my generation, the generations before me, we looked up to leaders because they had that innate knowledge and they could lead. Well, that’s not what’s happening anymore. The radical shift is the internet age has changed that equation. The young no longer depend on elders to instruct them anymore. And they can actually sometimes get better information from the internet than what their elders are giving them.

So that’s a radical shift that people aren’t understanding. So the first thing is I think there’s gotta be some education out here to understand how do you work with millennials a little better but also understand why do they think the way they do. Why do you think the way you do? Why do you feel “Wait a minute, I was trying to make things better at my corporate job, but folks weren’t listening!” Why was that? And then how do we basically take an organizational leadership change model and be able to put it in place to be able to get a little bit more on the same page? But the shift, that radical shifty, that one little shift that people are not realizing is really the key. The key is that the millennial age has more information now, today, than my entire generation had, and that is a major shift in how things are moving and how they look at things.

Zephan: Yeah, and I think it’s gonna very, very interesting to see in the next five to ten years how this plays out, because, just like you said technology-wise, five years ago, people weren’t flying their own drones around that they could buy in the store for five/six hundred dollars. Now it’s totally possible, as you said, to fly over a building, inject malware, and probably destroy an entire company. So it’ll be interesting to see how things progress and where technology advances to in the future.

It’s been great speaking with you today. I’d love for you to share where people can get in touch with you and where people can find your book online so that they can check it out.

Hans: So you can easily find me at hansmumm.com. You can also find me if you just go to Hans Mumm on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Facebook, and then Twitter, and I’m in LinkedIn as well.

Zephan: Alright, very cool. Well, thank you so much for spending some time with me today, and waving hello to you from up here in Baltimore. I know we’re not too far away. It’s a very interesting in podcasting, I just talk to somebody this morning in the UK, but it was like two o’clock in the afternoon her time, verse you’re about a forty-minute drive away from my house right now. So it’s always something new and exciting, so thank you very much for being a part of that.

Hans: Technology’s a wonderful thing. Thank you, much appreciated.

YOP060: The Real Side of Entrepreneurship with Ryan A Bell

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Bio: In the 60th episode of the Year Of Purpose Podcast, we interview Ryan A Bell. He recorded with us early in the morning before the sun rises to show us the real side of entrepreneurship and what it means to hustle for every accomplishment. He understands that he is putting in the work and sleepless nights now so that he may find reward on the other side.

Despite it seeming dark and dreary sounding at first, Ryan talks about how entrepreneurship is worth the struggle after getting through the hard parts. We were fortunate to speak with him just as he was planning the first ever Periscope Summit 2015.

Ryan A Bell (@Ryan_A_Bell on Twitter & Periscope), Founder of Periscope Summit, is recipient of the Presidential Award for his volunteer work with Special Olympics and the youth in Oakland. He is a writer for The Good Men Project, Green Child Magazine and a branding/marketing specialist for companies wanting to migrate to live streaming. He also happens to be the most connected man on Periscope.

Transcript

Zephan: Zephan Blaxberg here with another episode of the Year of Purpose podcast. And to—today—oh, can’t talk today. Today, I can’t talk! I’m joined by Ryan A Bell. And Ryan is the founder of Periscope Summit. He’s the recipient of the Presidential Award for his volunteer work with the Special Olympics and the youth in Oakland. He is a writer for the Good Men Project, Greenchild Magazine, and branding and marketing specialist for companies wanting to migrate to livestreaming. He also happens to be the most connected man on Periscope, and today, he’s hanging out with me. What’s going on, Ryan?

Ryan: You just made me sound really good. Thank you, man. Like, wow. Yeah, I’m just chilling in a WeWork office, a shared space with nobody around. It’s pretty cool.

Zephan: Good stuff. And so I heard you just had a pretty big move, and we just met recently at the Podcast Summit about a month back in Texas, and I thought that it would be cool to kinda have you on and chat a little bit about what it’s a like to leave behind the suit and tie world and what’s next?

Ryan: I—what’s next is what I make it, but the suit and tie world—I just had a discussion, I can feel the tendons on my neck and my shoulder—those balls right there just tense up and kind of come together. Yeah, I left the enterprise—I feel like Captain Picard when I say that. I left the enterprise because it was just crushing my soul with cleats on. And, yeah, so I’m really happy with what I’m doing right now. Even though it’s so much harder than what most people think of as actual work.

Zephan: Yeah. And I’m kind of in the same boat. I actually posted this screenshot the other day of what my typical calendar looks like. And this screenshot shows that pretty much yesterday from 8:30 in the morning until about 11:00 at night, I’m hustling. And it’s multiple things in a row, there’s a lot of multitasking going on, but trying to find the time for those breaks to have coffee with a friend—the co-working space I work out of has a massage chair, so I always try to schedule in fifteen minutes to jump in there even if I’m taking a client call from somebody. They’ll ask why my voice sounds weird because I’m like [jittery noise] in the massage chair. And I’m like “Oh, I’m just…It’s loud in here, I don’t know.”

Ryan: Yeah. Isn’t an awesome feeling, though, when you, like at noon, look at your calendar, your To Do list and what you’ve checked off and you’re like “Holy —-, I’ve just done forty hours of work!” I’ve done what usually would be a week’s worth of work for what I would have done in the past, and I’ve just done that in—but you know, of course, we’re up—I’m up at 6:00. It’s 6:30 here right now. Nobody else is around. Just gotta hustle and make those extra hours and squeeze in emails and—an entrepreneur works from the toilet, you know. Like, you’re sitting here not sending out emails and you’re like “Well…time’s a wasting!”

Zephan: It’s funny you say that, because I actually—I learned this from Gary Vaynerchuk. He has a couple of tech blog apps where he’ll just read up with the news to catch up with what’s going on in the world, and he says “I have five minute meetings. I never have meetings longer than that. When I’m sitting on the toilet, I’m reading these blogs.” And so I took advice from him. When I’m sitting on the toilet, I have certain websites where that’s where I get my news from and that’s how I know what’s going on in the world so I’m not wasting my productive time throughout the day with sitting there trying to watch the news and getting sucked into the latest shooting or the latest court case that’s going on.

Ryan: Yeah. I remember, years back, when I was a kid, there was—there’s Uncle John’s Bathroom Readers. They were these huge compilations of—and now we just bring our phones in. we’re painting such a beautiful picture for your audience too, for everybody. Everybody researching on the john.

Zephan: This is the real side of entrepreneurship, tough. And I remember the Uncle John’s Reader. My step-dad, I used to make fun of him because he would stack up like nine or ten of them in front of the toilet, and he’d spend hours in there! I always wondered what took him so long, and then finally, I went to the bathroom downstairs that he always used and there’s ten of these books that are like thick as a bible sitting there. Like, that’s why, because he’s sitting there reading this stuff!

Ryan: “No wonder you know so many factoids!”

Zephan: Right. And the funny thing is all my friends know me as the one person who’s filled with the most useless facts in the world. So I probably got hat from those books.

But I’m curious, what type of a job were you working, and what originally had you interested in it? Because I know, for me personally, I raised to think you go to college, you get a job, and you hold it for…ever, and you save for retirement—that’s what you do.

Ryan: The manicness of my life actually built me as an entrepreneur. I went to college and didn’t know what I wanted to be, so I tried to be everything. And—oh my gosh. I started out my life, I thought I was gonna be a writer. I was an award winning poet; I wrote songs for people—I wrote a song for the Zac Brown band, got their first radio play. I did all this, and then I went into sales. I sold BMWs, I sold tech, I sold metrics. And then I was regional director for something, and then I was selling like HR services, and then I was helping businesses to grow, and I just did all these things. And eventually, I was just like “Why am I doing all these things for other people? And I’m growing all these things for other people that I just don’t damn believe in!” and so then I just started helping smaller companies and trying to figure it out on my own and consulting and cobbling stuff together and making a hundred and fifty dollars for making a website or two hundred dollars for writing an article or whatever.

Until, finally, all these tiny little streams of income equaled up to be enough, and that’s kind of—when I had proof of concept, I was like “I can do this, I can make this work,” and eventually I—I’m now here in this world where I’m working my ass off still, but there’s so many things that I own now that are my property that I’m building, that I’m behind that I can see, I can visualize what’s going to be the future—I think of those things as properties and I’m like “This is what’s gonna work.”

Zephan: So I have to ask, because I think that all entrepreneurs kind of come into a moment—and I had this a lot recently because I was working towards—I built a virtual summit, I had forty-one people on it. I’m in the middle of writing my book, I’m twenty thousand words in. I’ve got my podcast going every single week, and none of this was the stuff that’s made me money yet, because it’s all been a passion, a side project, that eventually I’ll grow, but it’s a very slow process. So I’ve got—my video business is my only income generation full-time thing right now. And I’ve had these days where I’ll sit there and I’ll kind of take a step back, and I’m like “This is the day that I could quit. I could give it all away right here, right now, and just completely give up on myself and say ‘Screw it!’ and go back to someone making my schedule for me and go back to not having the freedom to hang out with people in the middle of the week or do the things I want to.”

So what is it that keeps you going and sitting here at 6:30 in the morning in California and being able to keep pushing for it?

Ryan: It’s weird—in Santa Monica at 6:00 in the morning, it’s dead. There’s nobody around. My family is—the catalyst for me leaving the enterprise was when my first daughter was born, honestly. I came alive when my first child was born, and I just realized that I couldn’t live this lie. Maybe I had a Caitlyn Jenner moment or something, [laughs] I just felt so uncomfortable. I just wanted—when I went home, I just had this moment that I was like “I’m a liar. I’m a ——- liar!” Sorry to go explicit on you, but I had that thought so many times.

And now, every time it gets really hard—and I’m in a hard part right now. Because I’m twenty days out on a big event, and we’re waiting for money from sponsors and we’re robbing Peter to pay Paul, and now I feel like I have no Peter—pun intended. [Zephan laughs] You like that one. That’s new.

Zephan: That’s pretty good for 6:00 in the morning.

Ryan: [laughing] Pretty good for 6:00—I’m sharp, I’m sharp! I may talk slow, but I think fast. Oh my gosh—so, I just had to do it because I was so cloistered. I felt the suit enveloping me and I felt the tie choking me and I felt the fluorescent lights burning me and the cubicle closing in. and each time now that I have hard times, I think about what I’m building for my family and that one day my daughter will be able to say something about what I do instead of—I can’t imagine, if I had that job, selling HR services or something and then being with my daughter and somebody saying “What does your father do?” I just knew that that question would stab me in the gut and I’d crumble. It was one of those things where I can’t live this thing where I’m a husk and where I’m always ready to crumble.

Zephan: I think that makes perfect sense. That’s no way to live your life and, in the long term, I mean, that’s gonna destroy you probably much quicker than you’d even expect. So it’s—and is this corporate world in general, is this working for other people in general?

Ryan: No. No, no, no. Some—I’ve had many really good jobs, but luckily, for me, the last job that I had was just the one that was such a terrible fit for me. It had all the metrics—like, for instance, I went into work one time and to differentiate myself, to be the rebel, I was wearing a cardigan with a tie. I was wearing a frigging cardigan. I was looking all dapper and Mr. Rogers-ish. And then a memo came out later that day that we can no longer wear cardigans. No cardigans! The memo was basically directed completely at me and came from my boss’ boss who can five bosses about him who had three bosses above him—I’m not even lying—who had two bosses above him who had one major boss who had a board fo twelve people.

And I was just like “There’s a no cardigan rule now because of me? A no cardigan rule?” And I just remember being like “You freaking bastards. You guys are just awful.”

Zephan: That was—I think that’s a big piece that hits a lot of people hard, is when they can’t make an impact or a change in a company because the way the chain of leadership is. You have to go to somebody else who has to email somebody who has to call somebody who has to fax a person halfway across the world just to find out if you’re allowed to scratch your neck while you’re sitting at your deck.

Ryan: I know, I know, I know! And it’s funny, because right as we’re talking about this—do you know who Brian Fanzo is?

Zephan: I’ve never met him before.

Ryan: He’s iSocialFanz. He does a lot of keynotes speeches and he’s really smart. He’s worked with the Twitter fan science team. So, as we’re talking, a text just pops up on my computer that says “You got time to chat today? I might have a gig you’re interested in.” Stuff like that would not happen to me if I was sitting there tethered to some stupid desk. And so, I got that text and I don’t know what that means. That could mean a few thousand dollars, that could mean I got an engagement with Verizon, I don’t know. Those are the things that pop up for me that are really fun. I’ve been able to work—the cool thing is I go and work with the enterprise, I go to SanDisk headquarters, but I go because they call me, because they want me for something, because I can more their needle because of who I know and what I’m building for them. That’s exciting.

Do you talk you people that are excited about their jobs? Yeah, I know you do, because you talk to entrepreneurs. You talk to me! I`m excited about what the hell I’m doing. And no matter how hard it gets, you know what, I’m learning. And every time I fail, I build off of those bones. Every time I fail. Everything that I’ve built, no matter how ugly it is, is a foundation for the next thing that might be pretty. And that next thing, even if that was ugly, I’m gonna build off of that, I’m gonna build off the knowledge that I got from building that.

Zephan: That’s a really good way to go, because we’re gonna have a lot of failures. It’s inevitable that we’re gonna do a lot of things and they’re gonna suck, and you’re gonna pull something away from that to take it to the next thing, and it might make that better. It might not make it perfect, but it’ll make it better.

So how do you go from—what happens in-between transforming from the suit and tie to being able to work for yourself? A lot of people just say “Okay, so what you’re saying if I quit my job and I wake up tomorrow, I start making money.” How does that work?

Ryan: No, no, that doesn’t work. For me, I was able to take paternity leave—that’s where that came. So during the time that I was on paternity leave, which is—in California, it’s twelve weeks. So we get a long time. And each day that that came, I was further away. I wasn’t being inundated with work, I was taking care of a child, and I really kind of got to know myself a little bit more because I wasn’t being pinged, I wasn’t answering to anyone. And I started writing more and I started feeling more myself.

And I had this time to kind of try and transition my thought processes, and I realized that I was wearing camouflage pants and t-shirts every day. That was like my thing. Because when you’re a dad, you’ve got camouflage pants to kind of hide all of the…detritus that gets on your pants and everything, all the little stains and stuff. So I started writing again, and I hadn’t written since I was like early twenties, for money, and I was like “I’m gonna write some dad blogging stuff.” And I was like “Hey, I’m making a little money off of this, I’m enjoying this.” And each time I made a little bit of money doing something, it made realized that I can do things that I enjoyed.

So my wife, who was an absolute rock star—I mean, she and I have built this life together and she makes good money when she works. She’s an occupational therapist. And so we cobbled together this thing where she was working Monday through Wednesday and I was working fulltime on this, not bringing in as much money but we were poor—I mean, not like poor, but we were thrifty. We were very thrifty to make it happen. We recently refinanced the house to pay off her student loans and we had a little extra money there too from that. And so as we chipped away at it, it started—I think we had something like thirty grand left, and as that thirty grand went down, it started to slow, the going down process, and then it started to go back up.

I remember when that needle hit going the upwards direction. I mean, it got real close to the bottom, and I’m like—because an entrepreneur knows the hell out of credit cards. you know what’s gonna happen “Okay, this eighteen months is gonna last another three months”—look at you! Yeah.

Zephan: So, for everyone listening real fast—this’ll go on YouTube so you can see it, but for everyone listening, I just pulled out three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine credit cards and just flashed them really quick. This is actually because my identity was stolen about a week ago, so these are me getting my life back.

Ryan: They do look nice and shiny and new.

So, yeah, that’s kind of how that happened. Now, we’re still investing money into things, but it’s money that we have and into things that actually have value and are recognized. So it’s very stressful, but I do see an end in sight where I will not be working so hard to build this. But I know me. I know I’ll have something that’s working well on its own and then I’ll start building something else to stress me the eff out. That’s just the way that I am.

Zephan: And I think that I probably do that same thing too. I’m always questioning why is it that I do these things to myself. Because everybody around me things they can never accomplish it or never do it and it’s like, you can, you just have to embrace the fact that it’s gonna suck really badly for a little while, and then ultimately it’s gonna pay off. I think that’s the theme around entrepreneurship, being willing to put up with some really crappy stuff for a while, knowing that if you just keep working at it, it’s gonna pay off.

And so you’ve kind of fallen into a pretty cool place with Periscope, which is a new app that came out, what, probably only six months ago, right?

Ryan: I think that’s right around the time—yeah, yeah.

Zephan: Yeah, so this is a new—I guess it’s a social network, in a sense, that allows people to livestream video of themselves. And this this something that you’ve kind of taken on recently. So maybe talk about where has—where are you now? What is Ryan doing? What’s going on in the world of Ryan and in Periscope and how can money be made doing things that you can have fun doing?

Ryan: So when I put together Periscope Summit—and as this recording is hitting, we’re less than twenty days away from the even itself—and, yeah Periscope is, like you said, a livestreaming app owned by Twitter and in six months, it’s gotten more downloads than Facebook or Instagram or—I think any other app that I know of. Thirteen million downloads, I believe, is the last metric, which I’m quite positive is a low estimation by then. All people tend to come out low.

Yeah, so, by putting together the Periscope Summit, which is an event, I became very quickly recognized as the most connected man on Periscope, because I know how to get in touch with people. Right after I get off this, I’m pinged by Alex Comm, I’m being pinged—I gotta talk to the people at Howard Stern, I’ve gotta talk to all these people that are gonna have—already have huge relevance or will have relevance in the future. And that’s where the real value is for me. When I started this, I didn’t really want to be a public figure. I didn’t want to be speaking at Podcast Movement, I didn’t want to be on a bunch of podcasts, I didn’t want to have a lot of interviews, and I realized pretty quickly that if I was getting somebody else to talk about my vision, then it was going to get watered down. That game of telephone, just incorrect. So I realized that I had to start using myself as my own tool. So now I’m—now I’m a big tool. Everybody knows me as a big tool, right?

So that’s where I’m at. The New York event is a precursor to something larger. The San Francisco event will be more along the lines of a red carpet event mixed with tech. So it’s gonna be more along the lines of rewards or something like that. So we’re going big with everything. Maybe a little bit too big, honestly, but I think it needs—we need to plant that flag. When I started this—so I can tell you this quick story, because it’s important.

When I started Periscope Summit, I was just regular old Periscope guy. I was just doing my own broadcasts, and I had the idea to put together this awards show. And I was talking about it on a scope and I was like “I think this is a really good idea,” and everybody on my scope—this is when I had seven hundred followers or something like that. I don’t have huge amounts of followers right now, like six thousand, but it was like—it got back to me three days later that some C level exec was talking about my idea and it’d gone through the grapevine. It was on the week—it was on Memorial Day weekend, and I was like “Oh god, if the enterprise takes this from me, then it’s going to be watered down, it’s not gonna be as good.” And so that weekend, I came up with the idea to go too big to fail.

So without anything, I reached out to basically every major livestreaming person from Grant Cardone to Euro Maestro to Manda Oleander and I came up with this—basically this roster of people, and now it’s on Tuesday that we’re gonna have this event. And I put together a team—at that time, I had a team of four people? Yeah, four people. And yeah, that Tuesday—I think I worked eighteen hours a day from Friday until Tuesday and then released a website with all these people that were gonna be speaking and all this stuff. We didn’t even have a space or anything. but yeah, it was crazy, and it’s been—it’s been a lot of work ever since. Because we’re not just dealing with talent, we’re dealing with emerging talent that’s never been talent before so they don’t realize that they—they don’t realize a lot of stuff in that industry.

Zephan: Sure, they don’t know how to be in front of a huge audience like that.

Ryan: Right, right, yeah. I keep telling people—I’m like “You can’t be a keynote speaker. You just can’t, you’ve never done that before. You know how hard it is speaking in front of an audience?” It’s not like you’re talking to a picture of yourself with hearts on it and a little number that says two hundred people or a thousand people on it. It’s completely different getting up on a stage. I’ve been on stage multiple times and getting up at podcast movement in Texas, that was scary. That was a big audience, it was a big stage. It’s always scary. And if you don’t have any of that experience or expertise, then it’s just not gonna work.

Zephan: Yeah. And it takes time. It’s a process and you build it up over time and it’s pretty cool to see the journey that you’ve taken to suit and tie to where you are now and here you are, you said—is it twenty days out from the event?

Ryan: Yeah, I think it’s twenty days.

Zephan: So we’re something like twenty days out from your next big project and to see how far you’ve gone in that period of time is quite amazing. So maybe, just to round this all off, what are maybe your final word of wisdom just for anyone who might be kind of stuck in that position with the suit and tie and feel like they’re being choked?

Ryan: Uhm… Think about what you want to do before you leave what you’re doing. And I think one of my best pieces of advice that I’ve learned over and over again—learn when to let things go. I’ve built a castle on failures. Some of them I’ve held onto for too long, some of them are just not good and not working. But if you’re sitting there in your cubicle and you have a friend that’s doing something, ask them. You don’t realize how accessible some of these people are that you admire so much and how much like you they are and how much less money that they have in their bank account than you do. You have to be prepared for those skinny months, and maybe even those skinny years. It’s hard as —-.

Speaking of skinny, when I was working at that atrophying job—is that even a word?—I believe I was two hundred and eighteen pounds at my heaviest. Right now, I’m probably a hundred and eighty. I live on coffee and bananas and I read the tech news on my phone on the toilet. I don’t have time to eat! So be prepared to lose weight and lose your money and your mind. But do it, because it’s worth it. If you have an idea and you have a dream, it’s gonna eat you away. It’s gonna be this weird little cancerous bug that’s gonna just gnaw at your gut.

Zephan: I think that’s the best way to round out this episode, man.

Ryan: I’m kinda black and bleak and dark, aren’t I?? I’m so sorry, audience!

Zephan: No! but this is the honest truth behind it, is that you better want this. If you don’t want the suit and tie, you better figure out what it is that you do enjoy and you better want it bad enough that you’re willing to be up at 6:00 in a co-working space, be willing to work the eighteen-hour day. And so, I guess, the only thing I would add to this is this is not what the rest of your life looks like. You in five years from now are not going to be in this same position. And that’s the greatest part about this. Put in the hustle now, and later you’re gonna be sitting in the castle.

And so I think that’s the best way to think about it. It’s not necessarily dark, but it’s the truth. And that’s one of the big things that I like to reveal here, is that this doesn’t happen overnight. You don’t wake up a millionaire, you don’t wake up with a mansion, you don’t wake up with the car the next day. And even those people who won the lottery, you can watch the TV shows, it destroys their life. So the people who do wake up one morning and become rich, it doesn’t work. It doesn’t last. And so I think—I applaud you for having the courage to share this with everybody and really to show the real side of entrepreneurship and what it’s like.

Ryan: It’s dark and dirty, people!!

Zephan: And then it pays off, though, right?

Ryan: And then it pays off. Oh my gosh, yes. As soon as I get off here, I’m gonna see what my next gig that I don’t know was. I’m in the process of being—I have to really segment my time and be like “Okay, this is how much I’m gonna get paid.” And since I’m in California and I’ve got clients in Florida, I’m like “We’re gonna do an engagement that starts at 5AM my time so that I can get a few hundred dollars before my work day begins.” So, each hour, if it’s a hundred bucks or two hundred bucks, that’s a little more pate on my baguette—what am I talking about?! Sorry! I don’t know what just happened! I don’t eat, so…

Zephan: Yeah, I think you’re going a little crazy without those calories, man!

Ryan: Let me go get my daily banana and coffee!

Zephan: This sounds good. What is the best way for people to keep in touch with your to check out the Periscope stuff? What’s your username for all that?

Ryan: Everything is Twitter. I’ve set up everything to be that infrastructure. @Ryan_A_Bell—I’ve dissolved all brands, it’s just me. There is, of course, an @PeriscopeSummit handle, and there’s periscopesummit.com, and my wonderful social media team makes beautiful peripherals around that, and I do that as well. So, yeah, follow me on Periscope and DM me and tweet me and retweet me and all that good stuff.

Don’t go on Facebook, that’s crickets for you guys. You don’t want to do that.

Zephan: Cool, man. Well, if there’s someone out there, an aspiring entrepreneur who wants to create business that sends bananas and coffee via Twitter, be sure to follow @Ryan_A_Bell and send this man a couple of McMuffin sandwiches for breakfast!

Ryan: Yeah, I’m gonna go. I need to eat. It’s been a pleasure, man. It’s been really awesome being on your show. I appreciate it so much. Have a good one.

Zephan: Alright, you too.

YOP059: Dave Sanderson – Miracle On The Hudson

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Bio: Dave Sanderson is the Managing Partner of his firm, Dave Sanderson Speaks Enterprises based out of Charlotte, NC. On January 15, 2009, Dave was the last person off the plane that crashed into the Hudson River, best known as “The Miracle on the Hudson” and was largely responsible for making sure so many others made it out safely. In addition to speaking and training, Dave conducts workshops and is currently working on his next book to be released titled “Moments Matter”, in which he discusses how by employing 12 key resources was a main factor that turned a potential tragedy into the “Miracle on the Hudson” and how does one take a potentially tragic experience and turn it into an opportunity to grow and contribute. He and his wife, Terri, reside in Charlotte, NC. They have four children, Chelsey, Colleen, Courtney and Chance.

Transcript

Zephan: Hey, everyone, this is Zephan Blaxberg, and today I’m joined by Dave Sanderson. And Dave is the managing partner of his firm Dave Sanderson Speaks Enterprises based out of Charlotte, North Carolina. On January 15th of 2009, he was the last person off the plane that crashed into the Hudson river, best known as the Miracle on the Hudson, and was largely responsible for making sure so many others made it out safely. In addition to speaking and training, he conducts workshops and if currently working on his next book to be release, titled Moments Matter, in which he discusses how applying twelve key resources was a main factor that turned a potential tragedy into the Miracle on the Hudson, and how does one take a prudential tragic experience and turn it into an opportunity to grow and contribute.

So, Dave, what’s going on today? I found out you were a James Maddison Duke with me, so we’ve got a lot of mutual connections. How’s today going for you?

Dave: Well, I’m excited that you’re having me today. Thank you very much, and yes, go Dukes. I am a James Maddison university alumnus, and hopefully they’ll have a good year like we’re having this year.

Zephan: Exactly. So I’m excited to talk to you today, because your story if very unique. Obviously planes don’t crash land in the Hudson very often, let alone anywhere. Maybe just walk be through what was this day like for you just before that all happened? Was this an ordinary day? Had anything happened to you beforehand? Did you even get any sort of feeling that maybe something could go wrong? How did it start?

Dave: Well—thank you. Nothing extraordinary about the day. It was eleven degrees and snowing in New York City that day, but I was there for work. I was working at a distribution center that day, doing distribution system checks in my job as a sales manager. And the distribution center opened up at two o’clock in the morning. So our day got started pretty early. So we got done early. We got done about ten o’clock that day, and I was scheduled to be on a five o’clock flight. I wasn’t even scheduled to be on US Airways Flight 1549 that day. So I think I was supposed to be on that plane for a reason.

But when the travel agent put me on Flight 1549, nothing extraordinary. I was one of the first people to board, because of my status, I’m a top tier person because I travel so much, and I just went back to my seat. But sixty plus seconds after we took off is when I heard the explosion, and that’s when it all started happening. But, even then, I wasn’t that startled, because I fly so often, I know planes lose engines. So I know a plane can fly on one engine, and we’re in New York City so they’re just gonna turn around, go back to the airport to get another plane. But when he crossed over the George Washington bridge, i looked out the window, and I could actually see people’s faces. That’s how close he was to hitting the bridge. I knew at that point, probably a little bit more serious than I anticipated.

And then he said his famous words “Brace for impact,” and then I knew that this probably wasn’t gonna turn out very well for us.

Zephan: Wow, so was there any other major announcement other than “Brace for impact” as to what might have happened or what was about to happen?

Dave: No, that was one of the greatest things that happened on that plane. He only said what he had to say. He said “This is your captain, brace for impact.” Because I truly believe if he started telling people what was going on and explaining “This is what we’re gonna do,” people would have freaked out. But no one did anything. People were very quiet. They were really introverted at that point, because I think everybody knew at that point that if you’re gonna crash into the water, it’s probably no gonna be a very positive outcome. So everybody was checking in with themselves and saying “Okay, I’m gonna get things squared away pretty quick, whether it’s with my creator or with my wife or husbands.” And so I think him saying the least words possible was one of the saving graces of that day.

Zephan: So what are some of the things that go through your mind? Because I know that one of the mentors that I’ve put in place in my life is Brendan Burchard, and he always says “At the end of your life, you’re going to want to know three things: Did I live? Did I love? Did I matter?” So I’m sure that if I were put into any sort of situation like that, you’re probably running through a couple different scenarios. And, at the end of it, you probably want to find meaning in what’s about to happen. So I’m just curious, what was it for you that was going through your mind?

Dave: Yeah, and I got to meet Brendan about six months ago. I love the work that he does and he’s right. What was going through my mind, once I really realized this could be a real tragic situation, I may not be coming back was—and I tell folks, it was really funny. Number one, I prayed. I prayed for three different things. And the last thing I prayed for is I prayed to God to forgive my sins, because I want to at least have a shot to get into heaven. I didn’t want anything out there that might muck it up at that point. But the second was the whole movie of my life was going through my mind. When you talk to people who are on their deathbed and they may come back, they’ll tell you the same thing. It’s amazing that when you think you’re gonna die, in that last moment, you can see so many things, you have total clarity on what your life was about and what you did in your life.

And the last thought I had before we hit the river and crashed into it was “Hope my wife pays the mortgage off,” because I told her form day one, “If I die, pay the house off.” That’s the one thing we haven’t done yet that we need to accomplish. And then we crashed into the river. So it was about seventy seconds after he crossed over the George Washington bridge until we crashed into the river, and that was one of the most surreal seventy seconds of my life.

Zephan: So—I’m imagining that, out of this whole experience, there are a lot of learning opportunities, a lot of things that you’ve pulled out of it. If you could just real quickly, only because I’m familiar with the events that transpired—I hadn’t necessarily heard any of the smaller details of just want happens from landing to rescue and being safe at home with family. Maybe if you could just real quick kind of pull me through what happened from captain makes this announcement to the first time that you get to contact your family and let them know that you’re okay.

Dave: Well, when we hit—first you don’t think you’re coming back, but all of a sudden, you hit—I went back in my seat and I came up and saw light through the window, so I knew I wasn’t dead and I knew I had a shot. But when the plane hit, the bottom of the plane was stripped off and somebody tried to open that back door so we got water coming in immediately. So now you got water anywhere from ankle to waste deep, depending on where you were on that plane. I was towards the back of the plane. So, all of a sudden, you got water coming in.

The first thing people usually say is “I thought you wall got on the wing and went home.” Well, nothing in life is that easy. So people were going up the seats, walking down the seats, going down the aisle and all that. But it was my time, my aisle. But when I hit the aisle, something happened that changed everything, and I heard my mother speaking to me in my head. And my mother passed away in 1997, but something she would tell me as a child popped in my head: “If you do the right thing, God will take care of you.” And that’s the last thing I heard from my mother—on that plane, what’s the right thing to do? And I grew up playing sports and I was in fraternity and I was all about the guys, you always take care of the guys. So that’s why I waited in the back of the plane before I made my way out, because I was alright. I knew, physically, I could get out. Other people weren’t that fortunate. Other people were having some challenges getting out because of where they were and just the logistics of it all.

But once we got everybody out, I went up to 10F to get out, myself, and all of a sudden I looked up and there was no room on the wing or the boat for me. So I couldn’t get out of the plane. That’s why I was waste deep in thirty-six-degree water for about seven minutes on that plane. I was actually holding on. There’s a picture that was shown on Good Morning America that was the first picture show from the plane crash of me holding on to the lifeboat.

And the reason why is because the Hudson river’s got a very fast current. The plane is actually floating down the river. As the plane was floating down the river, the little lifeboat was also floating out into the river. And no one, including myself, reads the instructions. Who reads the instructions? It’s actually tethered to the plane. But no one knew that. They kept yelling “Hold on, hold on,” that’s why I held on to the lifeboat as close as I could to the wing for about six/seven minutes so people could start getting off from the wing and moving down and that’s how my story started. Because I was on the plane for seven additional minutes waste deep in thirty-six degree water, holding on to the lifeboat, until it was my time to go.

And I went to the New Jersey side of the river, and it’s just because of the way the plane was positioned. The left side of the plane was facing Manhattan, so I was facing Hoboken. I’m going to Jersey and that’s how I ended up being in New Jersey, and those folks did a tremendous job because they had to  pick me up and carry me to the triage center, because I couldn’t walk. Once you’re out—I tell people, on adrenaline, you can go all day, but as soon as you’re out—I couldn’t feel a thing. I’d been in the water now seven/eight minutes. So I couldn’t move. So that’s how I got there and that’s how I got to the triage center and also to the hospital.

But I didn’t talk to my wife, Zephan, until eleven o’clock that night, because it took about five hours for me to warm my body up. But body was so cold, it was ninety-four degrees. It was so clod, they had to warm me up slowly, but they had to get me back to that level. It took about five hours until they got me back up to room temperature, basically. So I didn’t talk to my wife until about eleven o’clock that night, and then, at that point, I heard her story about what was going on at home which was probably as exciting if not more exciting than what I had going on. She had to deal with all the media at home.

Zephan: Oh man. So they knew, already, that you were on the plane and they had contacted her.

Dave: What happened was—and I found out when I got back—was I did an interview that night from the hospital bed with Katie Couric. She interviewed me and I was on CBS, but my wife doesn’t watch CBS. What happened was what somebody did was they called her and said “Your husband’s alive, he’s on CBS,” and all of a sudden, once your name is out, they can google you anyplace. And all of a sudden, ABC, CBS, and FOX show up at the house with cameras wanting to interview my wife, who knew nothing. She had just gotten home and she’s clueless on what’s going on. So she had a whole—she has a whole other story, which I would love for her to tell one day, How To Handle Media When You Don’t Know What the Heck’s Going On.

Zephan: That’s a pretty important skill to have, because I’m sure that happens very often with a lot of people.

Dave: It does. With hurricanes and tornadoes and all the things going on and people getting hit all the time on media and you don’t know how to handle it. I think she did a tremendous job just not knowing anything, handling that. But that’s how I got to my wife initially, and then I got back the next day in Charlotte, that’s when first saw my family when I got back that next day.

Zephan: So I’ve done—and this is no comparison whatsoever—but I’ve competed in the tough mudder races, so I’ve jumped into a haul-away dumpster filled with ice, cooled down to thirty-four degrees, had to swim across underneath barbed wire and I’m maybe in there all of twenty seconds and thinking that I’m going to die, because all of your muscles seize up—

Dave: Your lungs tight—yeah.

Zephan: Yeah, the initial shock hits you within the first two or three seconds, especially when it’s that cold. So to hear that you were able to make it through such a long period of time—and for some people listening in, they might think seven minutes isn’t that long. Trust me. If you jump in that type of water, it’s enough to kill anybody. I have to imagine that you have a very tough mindset inside or a very sound mindset that has allowed you to stay calm in situations like this, and I’m sure that plays out into tons of other areas of your life. Have you found that your sense of grit that you have has really driven you to do more things outside of that situation that have contributed to your success?

Dave: Most definitely. I was—I had the honor and privilege of being head of security for a gentleman named Tony Robins for five years. I was an assistant for another five years. Ten years, I was with Tony, traveling with him all over the world, and you get that mindset that you can basically do anything if you control the way you manage your mind. He calls it state management. That’s one of the things I talk about now, how to manage your state in the appropriate way at the appropriate time, which is a skillset that everybody could have, but few people really employ. One thing this gave me was a strong reference to be able to handle anything, and so—and life is not easy. There’s things being thrown at you all the time, whether it’s financial, relationships, whatever it may be. And you got to deal with it—beforehand, I’ve dealt with it, I dealt with it okay, but now I deal with it with a whole different level of certainty.

One of the things I talk about that day, the level of certainty you have when something’s going on is—it can really help you turn a positive outcome, whether it’s the way the captain spoke with certainty, whether people handled it with certainty. And one thing I’ve learned in my life that the person with the most certainty in the room is the one that’s gonna be seen as the leader. He or she will be the one making the decisions, because everyone will gravitate to certainty because everyone’s got so much uncertainty. And that’s why this country’s the way it is right now, because there’s so much uncertainty! And they’re looking at why things are turning out the way they are, it’s because the person who speaks with the most certainty is who you gravitate to.

So I think certainty was one of the biggest points of reference I came out with on that day.

Zephan: I could definitely see how that has a huge impact on you. And along those same lines, I’m thinking you’ve got to to have some serious focus to stay in the moment, in the present, and be very conscious and aware of what’s happening around you. I recently—I’ve told a couple people—I had my identity stolen about two weeks ago, and along with credit cards, this was a full-on—I was getting hacked form all fronts. I had flown to Los Angeles. A couple hours after landing, my phone gets shut down, my computer gets erased remotely and shut down, all of my banks, credit cards, everything—gone within a matter of about twenty minutes.

And so, for me, I found one of the biggest things was to sit there and say “Okay, here’s what’s happening, here’s the reality of my situation, here are the only things I can to, and here are th things I can’t change right now.” And just kind of moving forward from there. And I’m sure you probably had a moment where you’re like, “Alright, here’s the reality of where we’re at, and I’m just gonna keep holding on to the life raft.”

Dave: Yeah, and the one thing I call it—the power of focus in that moment. Because it’s—people like me who were in a corporate world before where I’m at now, and I’m [inaudible] now—thing happen for a reason. And I was always living for the future. “Okay, what’s my next week. What’s my next week.” Because corporate people are like “What’s my next step up?” But what you realize after you face some potential challenges or crisis—or what I call your personal plane crash, whether it’s a heart attack, stroke, whatever it may be, all of a sudden, you get back to the present. You focus in on the power of the present. And that’s why you talk to people who have survived things like I and everybody else did that day, if you can focus in on that present moment—don’t look at something any worse than it is, look at it as it is. And deal with it as it is.

That’s what I try to tell people. That day, we all dealt with it as it was. Because it could have been a lot more tragedy than it was. This thing could have gone a whole different direction, but people focused—the only thing I could tell about Sullenberger. He showed the power of focus. When you have six minutes to make a decision on what you’re gonna do with a hundred and fifty-five people plus’ lives and you can focus in on that moment, and then, more importantly, execute and not lose it, that’s a tremendous skillset that I gained from him that day. The power of focusing in on that present second, that present moment. That’s why my next book’s being called Moments Matter.

Zephan: I think that’s a great title for that book, and I’ll be one of the firs people in line to get that when that comes out, so definitely be sure to let me know when that goes out. I, myself, am working on a book too, and it’s going to be called Life Rescripted, and it’s about examining your life form a different lens, from the story standpoint, and what it’s like if your life were the movie, and who are the people you’re casting for the movie, and realizing that you are the director, you are the producer, you’re in charge. So I’m very excited for that one as well.

Dave: Sounds like an interesting concept. I look forward to seeing it.

Zephan: Yeah, so I’ll send that to you when that’s ready. So, what’s changed for you since all of this has happened? You said a little bit there that you left the corporate world. Was that related to these events? Was that before or after? When did that all happen?

Dave: Indirectly, it happened about for years after. I wanted to leave them immediately after, but I still had a wife and kids in college and expenses and health insurance to pay for. But it really started turning about a week afterwards, but it sort of hit me in the face on two different occasions. First occasion was a year anniversary of the plane crash, when I released our first book, which I was a contributing person with. I wrote a chapter, which is not that big of a deal. I wrote a chapter. But we were doing a book launch at the Barnes & Noble in New York City, which was a tremendous place to do in Times Square. But we were talking, sort of sharing stories. I found out my company basically didn’t even do anything. They didn’t even call me that night. There were other companies flying people in to help them and make sure they had clothes and give them time off. My company basically said “Are you gonna go back to work next week? Do you want to fly to Michigan next week?”

So that’s when I went “Alright, I’m just a number,” but I decided to have a job. Fast forward about three and a half years later, and it was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and I was trying to finalize a transaction. I was working with somebody from Costa Rica and somebody over in India as a global world and I was working with a lot of these good people. But when I needed help here local, everybody else had already gone on Thanksgiving vacation. Here I’m the one that’s doing it, and everybody else will get paid. I’m like “This isn’t right.” And so I threw my phone—which is right behind me—I broke it. I said “I gotta get out of here or I’m gonna die. I’m gonna die of stress.” And that’s when I made the decision to leave, and I left about two and a half months later.

Zephan: Well, congratulations on making that decision. I know that mane people have made that decision and a lot of people listening are considering making that decision. What else has changed in your life? What sort of lessons have you pulled away from all this that could be helpful in others designing their own future on their own terms?

Dave: Well, one thing that really was a stark change in my life was the way I managed my time. And, as you may have gleaned with some of the things I’ve shared, I was driven. I was a top producer in every company I was with. And I focused to make sure—like my dad did. Make sure you take care of your family. That’s the number one thing you do. Make sure you have what they need, so you work, work, work, work, work, and there were times when I wasn’t around—especially for my eldest daughter’s times in school, and she and I were butting heads at that point. We were not really doing well, and people tell me, “Well, seventeen, girls can get that way,” but I think a lot of it was that AND plus I wasn’t there for her.

But after the plane crash, I realized, “You know what, I gotta be there for my family. I can’t keep working at this pace and working for somebody else’s glory. I gotta take care of my family, and the only way I can to that is work for myself and controlling my time.” So now, the biggest change is I manage my time around my family events, and then everything else goes around it. And that’s why the summers are tough because the kids are home. So now they’re back in school, it’s great. But I schedule time management around my family, which has changed, tremendously, the relationships that I have with my kids and my wife. That’s probably the major thing.

But second is knowing I have a story, but my how goal every day is how can I impact one more person? That’s part of it, but the other part of it is and enjoy the process. Because a lot of people forget that second part of it. That’s why I try to teach people when I talk and speak and do my workshops and part of the book’s gonna be about you can make these goals all day long, which I did, but I never enjoyed the process. So now, if you put it together and enjoy the process, it’s a whole different framework on how you approach something and get so much more creativity on how to do it. And I talk about the skill of resourcefulness. The one skillset that I think brought me together that day, I think it taught a lot of people. But I was so resourceful as I look back and I was telling my story to people who were taking notes—all these little resource’s that I used that day. When I yell at the lady on the wing because I need to change her faith, the way she was looking at things, because she was stifled.

Or having multiple pathways when the seats broke, people got resourceful. That skillset was probably the major skillset that got everybody through that day. So now I talk about that and teach how to be resourceful when you think you have limited resources, and that’s why the book, Moments Matter, we got these twelve resources that I and others used that day and you can use in your own life our use in your business when times get tough. All of a sudden, okay, I gotta anticipate. Anticipation was a key skillset that day. We all that to anticipate what the next move may have been if someone might have been injured or Captain Sullen anticipated “If I don’t do it just right, I’m gonna topple into New Jersey.”

Everybody had to anticipate, so how can you use that skillset, not only in your personal life but the business life to hopefully get to another place where—like especially with entrepreneurs. Nothing’s certain with entrepreneurs.

Zephan: Yeah, and I think sort of street smarts in a sense is so helpful in any obstacle that comes up in your life. I know, for me, back to the identity theft issues was my problem was I’m stuck in California, I have no communication and I’ve got no money to book a plane at least to get back home to safety, in a sense. But using some quick thinking, I realized, much like you, I fly a lot, I had a lot of SkyMiles saved. I was actually able to book a free flight using my SkyMiles points, because that was one of the accounts that did not get compromised. So it’s that quick thinking that really can get you out of a bind if you’re in that type of a situation.

Looking back on all of this, obviously it—a tragedy turned into triumph. It was an extremely successful day in the sense that it could have gone far south much quicker, and it didn’t so I’m just curious to hear from you, what advice do you have for people who either, A, are in that sort of “Woe is me,” think that their life is always the tragedy, or maybe people really did experience a tragedy, for example, losing a loved one or something of that nature. How can you transform that and change that into a winning mindset?

Dave: Great question and I want to refer you back to an interview I did last year for a magazine by the name of AARP. And they interviewed me, and I was questioning “Why are they only interviewing me? Yeah, I’m fifty plus but what can I contribute to that?” and what the article was about si this—just that question you asked. Why do some people go through depression or PTSD, whether it’s military people or people who got through crisis of fire or loss of a loved one, and why do some people go through what’s called PTGS—Post Traumatic Growth Syndrome? And that’s what I went through, so there much be a reason why some people grow and some people get depressed. Gotta be a strategy behind it.

And so that’s what the article was about. And I really started thinking through it. But the different strategies I’ve used to take the pathway instead of depression into growth. And there are a few different things you need to focus on. Definitely, one is thinking more than yourself. You gotta have a mission in life. More than yourself. The people that you talk to that have PTSD or are in that challenging state, and there are some people on the plane that had depression. They lost their job, they were not in a good space because they focused on “Why did this happen to me? Why does this happen to people like me all the time? I can’t get a break.” Instead of “How can I contribute? How can I give back? I have gratitude. Where can I focus?”

So the way I did it was go out in the street and focus on giving back to the Red Cross, making sure that they can have the money they needed for someone else who was going through a tragedy, whether it was Haiti or a tornado or Superstorm Sandy, whatever it may have been. That’s what I did and tha’ts one of the key strategies. Focusing, not on yourself, but focusing on how you can give to somebody else, and all of a sudden you change your perspective.

I talked to a lot of military guys and gals when they come back who are going through that questionable stage. Now they’re back, what are they gonna do? And they’re depressed because they’ve had structure all their life. Now, all of a sudden, they have no structure. They’ve gone through something. I tell them to go get it out. I tell them go out and speak about it, whether it’s a church, whether it’s a United Way function, whatever it may be. Talk to people like you on podcasts. Get it out. Because the more you get it out, the more you can start processing in your mind—“You know what, yeah it was bad. Yeah, I was lucky I made it. But I did make it. And now how can I add value to somebody else who may be in that same situation?” all of a sudden, you’re thinking about somebody else.

That’s one of the key strategies I talk about and teach about, taking it from PTSD to PTGS—Post Traumatic Growth Syndrome.

Zephan: I think that’s a great analogy. Well—acronym is the proper word for that. And I’d have to say that this has been an amazing discussion just to hear your story. To hear what you’ve been through. I’m sure even ten years from now, you’ll look back even further and say that all the events that transpired and the person that you’ve become are thanks to all of the situations that have happened in your life, whether good or bad.  So we can never really connect the dots until we look back years down the road, but it’s really great to hear your story and to see just how far you’ve come in this short period of time.

Any lasting words of wisdom, just overall about life and the meaning of life or living purposefully and making sure that every moment counts?

Dave: I just think that—I thank you very much and I really appreciate the time today, fellow James Maddison University Duke. I would just say—this advice was given to me years ago, and it was in a different sort of context, but the gentleman told me “When you’re given the opportunity to lead,” this is what he told me, “lead.” When you’re given the opportunity to speak, speak. When you’re given opportunities in life, take advantage of the opportunities. And that’s probably the number one thing I tell people now. You have opportunities all around you, but most people don’t take advantage of them. They’re either scared or they’re too worried about the way they’re gonna be perceived. But I tell you what, when you take that chance, take that step, take that pathway—which I talk about pathways in my talks—take the path, because you don’t know where it’s gonna lead.

All of a sudden, something happens like this, and I could have taken a whole different pathway, but I took a pathway to go out and serve, and all of a sudden, I’m with you, I’m with Katie Couric, I’m on FOX TV, I’m doing so many different things. My next book’s coming out, I’m in a couple movies that are coming out. Because I took a pathway. When given the opportunity, take it. Because you never know, it may lead you do a whole different place and a whole different network of people. And my first mentor told me, I remember this, my first mentor back in the early 90s. One of the greatest pieces of advice he gave me, I said “I want to be a leader,” and he said “The fast way to get anything in life is to put yourself around the peer group of the people you want to be because they will elevate you.” And that’s how I started my mission and my travels to become a business—I manage and I’m a business leader.

That’s how this whole leadership thing started, because I put myself around those kind of people. Put yourself around peer groups, the kind of people you want to be, and they will elevate you to that level. That was one of the created pieces of advice I ever got.

Zephan: I think that’s the best way to round off this episode. I know I’ve paid a lot of attention to the people that I surround myself with. My attitude changes based on who I’m with. My success changes based on who I’m with and you really are the sum of the five, if not the three, people you hang out with the most. So I definitely agree with that 100%.

It’s been great talking to you. What’s the best way for people to keep track of you and where your book is and get some information when the new book comes out and things like that?

Dave: Well, number one, my website is davesandersonspeaks.com. I  give updates and you’ll see where I’m gonna be, and if you’re in the area, what I would ask you to do, I have a little thin that says “Let’s talk,” go in there, fill it out, and say “Dave, I hear you’re gonna be in Baltimore speaking, can I come and hear you speak?” I will respond and I will put you on my guest list. I do that all the time and I’m going all over North America over the next three months. So if you see where I’m going, please reach out on my website and I’ll be more than happy to invite you.

Second, I love Facebook, and I never thought that I would, but I do. Dave Sanderson Speaks is my page and I would love for people to check it out, because that’s where I put my latest updates. Twitter, I do Dave Sanderson too and that’s my sort of Thought of the Day or “This is what somebody else told me, try it out.” Twitter is Dave Sanderson too.

But the one that I’m getting a lot of feedback on is LinkedIn. And, amazingly, especially in the business world. So my LinkedIn, I’m doing an article twice—now it’s once to twice a week. On LinkedIn, it’s under David Sanderson.

So those are the best ways to get ahold of me. My good, called Moments Matter, the ebook’s gonna be number one out and we’re focusing in on October to get that out, and then the official book launch of the physical book—right now, it’s up for a couple—we’re looking at some dates, but right now we’re trying to sort of time it around January 15th. That’s when the next movie that I’m gonna be involved with called Miracles on the Hudson will be released in New York City in January, so we’re probably gonna time the official book launch to be in the New York City area, the Tristate area when Miracles on the Hudson movie will be released.

So that’s a little bit of what’s going on with me and I love interacting with people. So please reach out to me and I definitely will get back to you personally.

Zephan: Very cool, Dave. And thanks so much for spending time with me today. We’re heading into Friday tomorrow, so the weekend is almost here and excited to get some nice relaxation over the weekend. So thanks for being here today, and I hope to keep in touch with you.

Dave: Same here, thank you very much.

YOP058: Greg Rollett – Ambitious

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Bio: Greg Rollett is the founder and president of Ambitious Media Group, an Orlando based Media & Marketing Company. From a kid in Tamarac who was expected to work construction or bartend for the rest of his life and instead tried to be a rapper, then an Internet Mogul, now the head of an Agency trying to compete with billion dollar media companies from his home in Winter Park, FL by empowering millenials in every crack and crevice of the planet to live out their dreams!

Transcript

Zephan: Hey, what’s going on everyone? This is Zephan Balxberg from the Year of Purpose podcast, and today, it is storming outside. I promise you, if you hear rumbling, that is not my stomach. I get fed. It’s okay. So do not send food. We’re doing good.

We’re joined by Greg Rollet. Greg is the founder and president of Ambitious Media Group, an Orlando based media marketing company. From a kid in Tamarac who was expected to work construction or bartend for the rest of his life, and instead tried to be a rapper then an internet mogul, now the head of an agency trying to compete with billion-dollar media companies from his home in Winter Park, Florida by empowering millennials in every crack and crevice of the planet to live out their dreams. What’s going on, Greg?

Greg: Dude, you just made me sound awesome! I love it, man. Happy to be here, Zephan-man. Excited for this.

Zephan: And you had to out too much with the whole sound proof—you have your own sound proof there, so that’s so not fair right now. But if you hear the storm, I apologize. The rumbles are definitely not from either of our stomachs. So, Greg, how did you go—this is a loaded question, but how do you go from construction work or a bartender and where does the rapper thing fit in and then how do you ultimate get to be this internet guy?

Greg: Yeah, so I think it goes back to in high school. I wasn’t the poorest kid, but I was by far from the richest kid. And I knew that I wanted what some of the richer kids had in their lives, and it was, at the time, materialistic. They had the car, they had the cool Tommy Hilfiger polo with the popped collar, they have the gold chains. And as silly as that sounds, you’re like looking around and like “These dudes are getting the chicks, they’re going to the cool parties. I want some of that!” and I knew I wasn’t gonna get it from my family. I wasn’t gonna get the support. My dad wasn’t gonna be like “Here’s fifty bucks, go by a t-shirt.” That sounds insane when you’re trying to put food on the table.

So I knew from a very young age that I had to do it myself. And so I started working—I was a stock boy at Target, I did construction, I waited tables, I bussed tables, and all this stuff. And it was kind of during this heyday of dirty south hip-hop. So your Master Peas, your Cash Money Records, and as a senior in high school, I decided that I wanted to be the next Master P. As crazy—little white dude and I want to be the next Master P. Sounds crazy! But that’s what I wanted to do and I saw him in kind of the model he had, and this kind of became a theme throughout my whole career. I look at people, and I look at their success, and I look at how I can model what they’ve done.

So Tony Robins calls it modeling and MLP, but I didn’t know any terminologies. I’m just—that’s Master P. He’s just a guy from the hood in New Orleans and he’s making millions of dollars with this record label. So I started a record label in high school so that I could make a CD, I could go to the party on Friday night and I could sell it for five bucks. I’d sell a hundred of them. You make five hundred bucks in a night, and you’re like “Holy crap! I got five hundred bucks in one night! That’s a car payment! That’s new shoes, that’s the gold chain, that’s the Tommy Hilfiger polo! That’s all of that!” and that was pretty awesome.

That parlayed into a cool career. Got to tour the country, do all kinds of cool stuff. And we were, quote unquote, big on Myspace—if you guys remember Myspace—and we did a lot of cool stuff there. And these companies started reaching out to us. “Hey, how are you doing this?” and the first client, per se, that I ever had was Coca-Cola. They reached out to me, cold, and were like “Hey, do you want to jump on the phone with us and do some consulting?” and I’m like twenty-one. I’m like “Yes! Yeah! Whatever you need man!” It was because we were doing cool stuff there.

That’s the Cliff Notes story of why—it was materialistic, to join the Joneses, to keep up with the Joneses, that whole feeling. And I knew that I had to do it myself. No one was gonna do it for me. No one was just gonna hand me anything. No one was going to just give me this, so I had to create it myself. And I just had this passion, this ambition, and just went out and did it, you know. And I know we’re gonna explore more about hat as we go, but that’s kind of a good jumping point for where we’re starting today.

Zephan: Yeah, I mean, I think that’s half the battle. You just have to dive right into it. Because you could sit here and wait all you want. I was just talking with my buddy Dave about this the other day. We were having lunch and he said—we were talking to this business, and they’re working getting ready to launch—whatever their product was—and they’re like “Yeah, we’re launching in four months.” He’s like “So what are you doing over the next four months?” They said “Uh… We’re launching in four months!” He’s like “No. What are you doing right now? It’s already made, it’s done, it’s probably gonna suck because you haven’t beta tested it yet. Why haven’t you launched it yet?” And so I think everybody’s kind of waiting for the perfect time and the perfect time is never going to happen. It’s just a matter of—it has to happen right now.

Greg: Yeah, and it doesn’t matter if it’s business or it’s just life, and it’s a lot of what we talked about at Ambitious with our clients. “Hey, I want to lose weight, but I’m gonna wait ‘til after the holidays.” “Why?” “I’m gonna wait until I get my tax check. I’m gonna wait until this happens. I’m not gonna stop smoking and stop drinking and stop doing these bad things ‘til after I go to this bachelor party.” What are you doing today? Like you said, this four-month gap! What are you doing today?

And I think that it’s an easy excuse in our mind to say “Well, I’ll do that when…” but that fictitious date just keeps getting pushed back further and further. Then after the holidays—“I ate bad food for Christmas and for New Year’s and Thanksgiving. I ate all the pie.” Well, then Christmas—“Oh, but it’s the New Year. I got so much work to do. I’m backed up. So I’ll wait until this time.” And it always happens. And so you really got to think about “What am I doing today?” and the thing that I tell myself, I don’t get to go to sleep at night until I’ve done one thing that bettered myself today than I was yesterday. That could be one email to somebody to create a relationship. That could be one sales copy. That could be one e-mail that I send out, one phone call that I make—one thing. Do one thing today that makes you a better person today than you were yesterday.

The cool thing that happens is it starts to snowball, right. Because there’s three hundred and sixty-something days in a year, right? That’s three hundred and sixty ways that you’re getting better than you were the day before. But you’re a hundred percent right that you gotta get rid of that roadblock that is right in front of you that you keep saying “Well, I’ll do it tomorrow.” “I’ll do it when I feel better. “I’ll do it when I…” and you really have to break out of the pattern. I talk about it a lot, it’s kind of the day to day really gets in our way and we get comfortable with the day to day. We get comfortable going to our nine to five, we get comfortable going nine to five, 4:59 turns to 5:00 on the good ol’ iPhone, the dinger goes off and then you go to happy hour and you have drinks. Much easier to go to happy hour and have drinks Friday at five o’clock than it is to go home and study or to listen to your podcast or to take action on the stuff that you heard in the podcast. Much easier, because it’s part of our routine to just wake up, go to work, go to lunch, go back to work, go to the bar, than it is to do anything else.

So you’re 100% spot on. The action has to start today, not a fictitious date in the future. That date never comes.

Zephan: Yeah. And I know that one of the things that prevented, upfront, from figuring out where I was going to go is I didn’t have a clear message of what I was doing at the start. And os, I don’t know if you saw this, but when you were getting your start and getting into the music scene—my parents still don’t even know what I do. I’m twenty-six years old, I live on my own, I have a house, I pay rent, I can put food on the table despite if you still her some of the rumblings out here. I’m a grown man now, and my parents still have no clue how I manage to do it. I’ve had tons of people, “So what do you actually do?” and I say “I own a video production company.” They’re like “So, do you do weddings?” I’m like “No, I don’t do any of that!” and so, did you ever have trouble with your message and figuring out what exactly it was that you we doing? Because when Coca-Cola calls, you have to be able to tell them what you can provide to them.

Greg: Yeah. Well, I still don’t know what I’m doing. That’s the cool thing, is that—so I was at a mastermind meeting last week out in Scottsdale. All multimillion dollar businesses up to billion dollar businesses. I’m like the—I have no idea why I’m in this room. And I’m listening to them talk, they don’t know what they’re doing. They just—they have the confidence to know that if they put one foot in front of the other, they are going to walk in a forward motion, not a backwards motion. And so, back—in the music days—a lot of my employees now are former musicians, former artists, former entertainers, and here’s why: When we were trying to go book gigs, no one wanted my band to play at their bar. No bar is like “Oh my god, I can’t wait for your crappy rock band to play at our bar!” Even worse, “I can’t wait for this white rapper to play at my bar!” No one wanted us to play.

There’s no roadmap. There’s no blueprint. There’s no “By this info product and book yourself at a local gig,” and especially there wasn’t ten years ago. So we had to just figure it out. I had to go in and I had to pitch them, I had to sell them on me as “Hey, I’m gonna sell drinks, I’m gonna sell tickets, I’m gonna get you people in your bar because you have me here.” And, look, ninety-nine out of a hundred said no, but the one that said yes had a hell of a good show and we had a really good time.

And I think it’s that forward progress, that one foot in front of the other, which—it sounds so easy. And it’s really difficult to do in real life, but forward progress—don’t let people stop you. And you’re gonna fall flat in your face. So, like with Ambitious right now, it’s the first time I’m going after venture capital, I’ve always been self-funded and I’m going—I had no clue what I’m doing, but I’m pitching guy after guy after guy. My pitch today is better than my pitch yesterday, my pitch tomorrow is gonna be better than my pitch today. And, at some point, somebody’s gonna open up their wallet and I’m gonna pop champagne. Like you said you just finished your book and you’re gonna party today. I’m gonna have that same party!

This podcast interview is better than the interview I had yesterday. But I did one. And I’ve done a lot of them now—but I keep doing them. And every time I keep doing them, I get better and my message gets more refined and I keep talking about it. Your message—if you don’t have clarity on your message, how you get clarity in your message is just by continuing to talk about it. Talk about it to anyone and everyone. Go to the bar, buy some stranger a drink, and talk his ear off about your thing. Then go to the bar tomorrow night and tell another guy about it. You have to continuously talk about it.

The other thing that happens is when you talk about it publicly, then it starts to create accountability. Because now they’re gonna see you at the bar and they’re like “Hey, how’s that project going?” “Uh, I’m kinda still not doing anything about it…” Once you start to create public accountability, you have to do it. That’s why I love blogs, I love podcasts, I love social media. Because if you say “Hey, I’m gonna go lose weight, people are gonna hold you accountable to actually do that. If you say you’re gonna start a business, people will hold you accountable to do that. You have to talk about what you want to do, and it starts to set things in motion.

The crazy thing that happens—so if I start talking to somebody at the bar tonight, guess what, he might not be the right guy, but he knows someone. His cousin’s brother’s sister’s friend’s uncle has something similar. You start to set things in motion, the world starts working for you, but you have to be confident enough to break out of your comfort zone to talk about what you really want to do.

And that’s what we did. I talked about my music everywhere we went. And I also made it relatable. So this is something really key. A lot of people—in the music world, every musician in the world says “My music is different. I sound like no one you’ve ever heard of.” Then I don’t want to buy your music because I don’t want to buy a CD like no one I’ve ever heard of. So thinking about it from the fan’s perspective, when you have a business, you’re like “I got this new podcast about this topic that no one knows anything about!” Well, I don’t want to listen to that… I want to listen to a business growth podcast, or I want to listen to a personal development podcast.

So you have to relate it to the audience and what they want. So what I quickly learned is, instead of saying “We’re a hip hop rock band and we kind of do some funk”—someone’s like “I have no clue what you’re talking about. I don’t know what a hip hop funky rock thing sounds like.” So then I’d just be like “Hey, are you a fan of Linkin Park?” “Yeah.” “We sound like them.” “Oh my god, awesome!” instantly relatable and they go “I’m a huge fan of Linkin Park!” or they go “I’m not, but my brother is. I should introduce him to your music.” And so then if I was in a hip hop crowd, I’d be like “You know the Roots? Yeah, we’re like the Roots, but with a little more guitar.” And they’re like “Oh my god, I know exactly what that is.”

So I made it relatable to the person. When we were going and pitching these bars and all this stuff, we made it relatable to them and then we started looking for venues that has already booked someone like that. So the Roots just played this venue, and I go “Hey, the Roots played here last week, wee sound just like them and we have a local fan base we can build.” So we made it relatable to the people.

So instead of saying “I have this software,” “I have this idea for a video game,” or “I have this idea for an info course that you’ve never heard of before”—it tunes people out. So find a way to make a relatable to the person and it’s really gonna find a way to create inroad with them, create rapport with them, and then they can help you if you don’t know what they’re talking about. So if you don’t know what they’re talking about, they really can’t help you.

I was a little all over the place, but hopefully there was some actionable stuff in there to really get people to start thinking about their message and how to get people to pay attention to it.

Zephan: Well, that last part reminds me of—Apple was never—they were not the first person to create the MP3 player. And so that’s the big thing—and I’ve told this to a lot of people—Apple wasn’t making anything revolutionary despite the fact that every keynote they ever put on, it’s like mind blowing, they’re changing the world—and it’s like “Not really…” So Apple wasn’t all about “We’re making this brand-new MP3 player and it exists because of us,” it was “We’re putting a thousand songs in your pocket.” So, up until that point, it had always been—there were MP3 players, but they only held 20/30 songs. You now have a thousand songs in your pocket, and nobody could do that before. They always had those—I had those shelves on my wall with like thirty different CDs stacked up in them. And it’s like—I may have maybe three/four hundred songs between it, but to take all of that and put that in my pocket? That’s kind of revolutionary.

So being about to identify that message and relate it to my struggle or my pain point or whatever it is that I’m looking for—I don’t want to carry all those around. So it made sense, and that’s why the iPod exploded. So I think it makes perfect sense.

So what if we fast forward a little bit. You’ve got this media marketing company. What are some of the struggles or obstacles that you’ve seen, or maybe you’ve seen in other people that you’ve worked with, that kind of relate to this whole figuring it all out?

Greg: Yeah, so, today, our day job, if you will, is running the celebrity branding agency. We have about twenty-eight hundred clients in thirty-eight different countries. And we really try to help position them as the expert in their market places using media marketing and PR. So helping them to write books, helping them to get on TV, helping them to get in major magazines, but the whole the boils down to, really, what we’ve just been talking about. You have to continue to tell your story. And what makes you unique. So, ten thousand songs in your pocket.

You have to tell that story, but then you have to use media to perpetuate that story, to get momentum on that story, because—again, me just telling one person at a bar, yeah that’s gonna help get my message out, but that’s one person at a time. What media allows you to do is it allows you to get in front of thousands of people, tens of thousands of people, hundreds of thousands of people at once. And so, a so you’re starting to get your story down and your story across, you have to get that story told in media.

And we talk about two different types of media out in the world. There’s mass media, which is your radio, your TV, your newspapers. Even things now like podcasts and stuff like that would be your pass media. But then you also have direct media, which is just as important. So your direct media would be like an email that you send to all your customers. It would be a Tweet that you send to all of your followers. It would be a piece of mail—I know we’re like internet guys, but people actually do send mail, and we send a lot of it. Actually, one of our number one marketing tools is mail. But you send mail just to a targeted list of people. And so you have these two types of media, but you use your story in both of them. Because, again, that’s what people relate to.

So, earlier, I was talking about the rapping thing and I was a rapper in a rock band. I have a more expansive story on that, but I tell that every single podcast that I’m on, every TV station that I’m on. They lead with that, because there’s some guys who’s listening who says “Oh, I was a musician in high school,” or “I was in a band,” or “I toured” or “I liked hip hop music.” There’s some kind of relatable quality, and so I tell it in every piece of media that I got, and it creates an instant connection with the audience. They instantly know who I am, what I do, what I’m about, and now I’m a real person. I’m not this robotic marketing guy—and hopefully I never am. I use my hands a lot and I talk with a lot of “ums” and “dudes” and stuff—but at the same time, now they start to relate to me as a person. So using—you have to hone and refine that story.

I always tell people, and this is kind of a writer-downer, find those moments in your life that are relatable moments that everyone goes through. Find the points of vulnerability. So when I tell the rapper in a rock band story, how that ends is me going on a fifteen city tour a month after I got married, and I took all of our wedding money to buy a new trailer, I bought t-shirts, I bought hats, I bought CDs, I bought stickers, I bought pens—everything to go on this fifteen city tour, and two days before we were supposed to leave, the band breaks up. That’s a point of vulnerability. I slept on the couch for three months. My wife hated me. My wife’s parents hated me. It was a very, very bad situation. I thought my life was over.

And I talk about these points of vulnerability because it shows that my life isn’t all peaches and cream. When you do a cool bio—“This is great. He’s a bestselling author and he’s got all these media mentions and he’s a cool guy at these great companies”—but they suck. There are terrible days. And so to have those points—look for those points of vulnerability in your life. What are those moments? What are the faults? What are the other things? Where did you go to school?

Did you go to—were you from a small town or were you from a big town? Were you in the military? Do you have military background? Because if I’m a marine and you’re a marine, we instantly can bond over the fact that we’re both marines. If I have a podcast and you have a podcast, we both bond over the fact that we have podcasts. If I’m a dog lover, well, dog lovers attract other dog lovers. They love talking about their dogs and “Oh, look at my little poodle!” but there’s an instant connection between the two of them. Did you go to a university? I’m a Florida State fan—other Florida State fans are like “Yay! Go Florida state!” and then Gator fans are like “I hate you because you went to Florida State,” but now we have something to instantly bond on and connect with.

Now use all of these different elements, everything that I just talked about, and put them into your story, and you’re gonna instantly create rapport with people. You’re gonna connect with people. And now using it through media, now people re gonna start to be like “Wow, he’s just like me! I should buy from him.” It makes absolutely zero sense from a practical standpoint, but we buy from an emotional standpoint, and we buy from people that we like. So if you’re thinking about starting a business, tell your story. Tell your startup story. That’s why I love Kickstarter. Kickstarter’s got all the videos up there with people saying “Here’s a problem that I had, here’s why my life sucked, here’s the product we created, here’s the path to do it, and here’s how you can come with me.” Now you’re bringing people on your journey, right. Instead of excluding people, you’re including people. And that’s why I love what happens with Kickstarter.

That’s why I love a lot of the internet marketing sales letters. Whether you love them or hate them, I love reading them because it goes “I was sitting on a couch, doing this, and I was dead broke, then I discovered AdWords and I made a gazillion billion dollars.” They tell the story of tragedy to triumph, and we love it. That’s why we love comic book movies. That’s why we—all of that stuff.

So, long story short, find those connecting points in your life, all those different pieces of the story and find ways to insert them into media. Both in mass media—so try and get on TV, try and get interviewed on podcasts, try write a guest blog post, try to get on radio shows, whatever it is. But then also insert it in your direct media, because your direct media’s where you make sales. When I send an email out to my mailing list today, I get sales. When I send a direct mail piece to my customers, I get additional sales or referrals. So you got to use both types of media.

So. Longwinded there, man, but there’s some really cool stuff if they actually take that and start to apply it to getting their business off the ground.

Zephan: Yeah, and we have so many tools now that make this ridiculously easy that it’s kind of at the point where it’s like—if you’re trying to come up with an excuse to not do this, or to not build a business based off the things that you’re good at or what you love doing, your excuse sucks. I’m just gonna say it right now. Your excuse is terrible. I was stuck, I worked for the Apple Store, I was one of those Genius Bar guys two and a half years ago. And my only excuse for not leaving, from day one, was I didn’t know how to make the money.

Greg: Yeah.

Zephan: And it’s kind of simple. You make the money by getting the clients. And you get the clients by putting your message out there. And that’s it. There is no magical secret. You just keep putting your message out there and you keep getting more clients, and it grows. And—so, I mean, I was really in the same boat. I was making a really bad excuse, I stayed there for way longer than I should have, and when I finally quit, it was like “Oh, wow, so this is what real life is like, because this is kind of great. I don’t have to wake up at six o’clock in the morning. I don’t have to be at work Monday through Friday, 9-to-5, the same schedule over and over again, wash, rinse, repeat.

And I think the biggest thing for me was that I wanted to leave a legacy behind. I wanted my life to be worth something and to mean something and not just be this work in a cubicle or sit at a computer the rest of my life doing nothing. I want to interact with people and change their lives.

So I guess that probably leads me to my next question, which is how do we leave this legacy behind or lead this chance in the world and leave it a better place than how we found it?

Greg: Yeah, so, I have a story that I think also talks about your Apple Store days and goes into that. We just profiled this guy at Ambitious.com. His name is Prince Harvey, and he’s a hip hop artist of out New York City. He lives in a house with eight other guys. I think it’s a one bed room or a two bedroom with eight dudes, so there’s obviously not a lot of money to go around, and he wanted to record his debut album, and he had a Mac laptop, and his hard drive crashed. And so, at this point, this is where most people would do the “Oh, I’ll just wait ‘til Christmas and get a new computer.” “I’ll wait til my tax refund check and get a new computer.” “I’ll wait until I can borrow my buddy’s friend’s sister’s computer”—whatever, every excuse in the book, but they would give up on making that album.

He had something that he believed in so much that if people heard his words, his beats, whatever in his music, he knew that it could change them, it could affect them positively, it could—and that it could also get him out of the situation where he’s living with eight dudes in a one-bedroom apartment. He believed wholeheartedly in this message that what he did is he actually—it was either the bus or the subway, I forget. It was in New York City. And he goes an hour to the Apple Store every single day, and he uses the computers at the Apple Store—you know them, the ones in the middle where people come and they’re like “Oh, hey, Zephan, how do I log onto my”—well, he used that computer every single day for three months to record his album. At an Apple store.

And what he did is he brought a thumb drive every day and he plugged it into the Mac Pro or whatever he was doing, and he covered it up with his hands so the store employees kinda didn’t know what he was doing—they eventually caught on, obviously. He got kicked out of two stores and I think he ended up at his third store to finish the album. But he covered up the thumb drive and literally in the middle of the store—imagine if you’re in the Apple store and you’re checking out the new iPad or iPod and here’s this dude—he made all his beats using his mouth and recording them in Garage Band, and he’s literally in the store going [beats] and then you hear hit doing the high-hat [sounds], and you’re like “I’m just trying to check out the iPad, dude…”

So he records this album for three months this way, and now he’s got an album, but he’s also got a story worth telling. Because now, he goes and starts telling people he’s secretly recording an album in the iTunes store. So we profiled them. But then you got guys like Russel Simmons who’s like hip hop royalty, hip hop god, who’s tweeting about him. He got Talib Kweli tweeting about him. Rappers in New York. Now he’s built—not only has he said “I’m not let this obstacle get in the way,” now he’s created a great album and a great story about it, and now people won’t stop talking about this guy.

So that is, A, how you overcome the obstacles that are in your way. You’re just giving yourself these excuses. If you’re a painter and you want to paint and you’re like “I can’t afford a canvas to paint on,” go find a breaking wall. If you’re an artist, you can find—where there’s a will, there’s a way. If you have something so passionately burning inside to you that you need to use it to share with the world, change the world, then it is your responsibility to find a way to make it happen. Most people don’t have something worth fighting for enough to make it happen.

So during those Apple days, for yourself, you might not have believed enough in the cause to go make it happen, but then, one day, you’re like “I believe in the cause so much that I’m gonna make it happen.” And that’s what this guy did. Well, now, he’s also building a legacy around it. Now he’s building a story, he’s building his brand, he’s starting to book shows and he’s starting to gain publicity. It’s steamrolling, steamrolling, and all he’s doing is telling a story. Broke kid in New York, needed to record an album, went to the Apple store—seemingly insignificant things that have now become something huge to build his legacy and it’s all because he didn’t let these obstacles get in his way.

So find the thing that’s worth fighting for, and then freaking fight for it! Kick down some doors! Don’t be scared of what other people think. I think there’s an insecurity of “If I go to record something in the Apple store, grandma’s gonna look at me funny. If grandma’s looking at me funny, I shouldn’t do what I know I need to do to change the world.”

So that’s one of my favorite stories of all time, and hopefully it just gets people to think. “If this dude can do it, maybe I can do it too.”

Zephan: And I think the coolest thing to point out about that is this guy didn’t just sit there and say “If I go and do this in the Apple store, my story will be better and people will care about it.” That was just kind of a product of his circumstances. He didn’t have the ability to use his computer, he thought very smart about it and came up with a solution for it, and it just so happens that that solution is something that no one has done before. So that’s what I really like. Don’t set the intention of “I’m trying to enhance or create this story that everyone’s going to care about,” because chances are, they’re not gonna care about it as much as you do.

He probably didn’t even notice—“I’m just using the Apple store to make my music.” He’s not thinking that the rest of the world is going to look at that and say “Holy crap, this guy built and entire album at the Apple store.”

Greg: Yeah, you’re 100% right. It was a byproduct of—it’s like “Hey, I got an idea for an app. I’m gonna do everything I can to create this app” or “I’m gonna create this course.” And it’s doing that, knowing that by doing this, you’re gonna help people, you’re gonna add value to their lives. The story comes naturally. If you try to fabricate the story, then you get a bad movie. Then you get the movie that bombs and it just—and no one wants to cover a fabricated story. All reporters want to find a natural, organic story that no one’s talking about. Like, when we heard the story, we’re like “Oh my god, this is the coolest thing I’ve ever heard! This guy went to the Apple store!” because I’m a former musician. I would never have done that, I’m too insecure! But this guy did it, and so we wanted to tell that story, because it was so organic, because it was—it just makes you feel so ambitious.

But anyway, you’re 100% right. You don’t do it knowing that the story’s gonna be there. You do it because you know that whatever you’re creating is going to help changes lives, add value, whatever the case is, and the story’s a byproduct of that.

Zephan: Yeah. And so that’s why I’m kind of really excited for this book that I’m finishing up here. And I’ll share it with you too, I’ve been telling people about it. It’s called Life Rescripted, and the whole point is looking at your life as if it were a script for a movie, and it’s like what people do you want to cast in your life? Realize that you are the writer, you are the editor, you are the director, you’re the producer—you have complete control over the story. And so the question is how are you gonna share it with people?

So maybe it’s something you’ll be interested in when it comes out, I’ll definitely send a link to you, but liferescriptedbook.com, for anyone that’s listening, is where you guys can check that out.

I’d love to share with everyone listening, though, Greg, where’s the best place for people to find out about you and what you’re doing and maybe see some more of those stories that you’re sharing with the world?

Greg: Yeah, I’d love it if everybody goes and checks out—it’s just ambitious.com. It is a lifestyle network for millennials, teaching them two things. One is the inspiring stories, like I told you about Prince Harvey. We have hundreds of stories just like that of young people who aren’t accepting the status quo, who know that there’s more to life than just sitting on a Friday night and watching people’s Instagram feeds. They’re just doing this, they’re scrolling, scrolling, scrolling—I want to help people to create the Instagram feeds, not watch them. And so, we have those inspiring stories, but we also have the how-to, so how do you actually get off your butt and do it. Because, I talk about this a lot—a lot of people talk about you gotta have your “why,” you gotta have your purpose. And that’s all fine and dandy, but if you don’t have a way to actually achieve that why, then it doesn’t matter. So you gotta have the why, but you also gotta have the way. So we inspire them, but we also give you the blueprint to do that. And all of that’s over at ambitious.com.

I’m just Greg Rollet everywhere, pretty easy to find on the Tweeter and the Facebook and all of that fun stuff. And also, I’ll obviously be hanging out in your world, the Year of Purpose. If anybody’s got further questions there, I’d love to continue the conversation and help anyone in any way that I can.

Zephan: Very cool, man. Well, Greg, thanks so much for spending some time with me today, and I hope the weather’s a little bit nicer down there where you are.

Greg: It’s just hot. It’s summertime in Florida, it’s what we do.

Zephan: Sounds like paradise to me, I got rain and clouds out here. So you have a good one, though, and we’ll definitely keep in touch on social media.

YOP057: Hal Elrod – The Miracle Morning

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Bio: In addition to being one of the highest rated keynote speakers in America, Hal Elrod is the #1 bestselling author of what’s being widely regarded as one “one of the most life-changing books ever written,” The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life… (Before 8AM). He’s also a Hall of Fame business achiever, one of America’s top Success Coaches, an ultra-marathon runner, and grateful husband & father.

Known as “Yo Pal Hal” since hosting his first radio show at age 15, his greatest triumph came at age 20 after he was hit head on by a drunk driver (at 80 mph) and found dead at the scene…

Despite being dead for six minutes, in a coma for six days, breaking 11 bones and being told he may never walk again, Hal defied the logic of doctors and the temptations to be a victim, and he bounced back to prove that ALL of us are capable of overcoming extraordinary adversity to create extraordinary results in our personal and professional lives.
Hal has appeared on dozens of TV and radio shows across the country, and he’s been featured in numerous books, including The Education of Millionaires, the all-time bestselling Chicken Soup for the Soul series, Cutting Edge Sales, The 800-Pound Gorilla of Sales, Releasing the Chains, Living College Life In the Front Row, and The Author’s Guide To Building An Online Platform, to name a few.
His #1 bestselling book, The Miracle Morning and his highly acclaimed #6 bestseller, Taking Life Head On! are two of the most acclaimed books on Amazon with a combined 800+ 5-star reviews.

Transcript

Zephan: Hey, everyone, this is Zephan Blaxberg here, host of the Year of Purpose podcast, and I’m here with Hal Elrod, and Hal is the number one bestselling author of what is now being widely regarded as one of the most life changing books ever written, titled The Miracle Morning: The Not So Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life Before 8AM. It is also one of the highest rated books on Amazon with over nine hundred five-star reviews. Hal, how’s it going today?

Hal: It’s going well, Zephan! Thanks so much for having me, man. I appreciate it.

Zephan: Yeah, man, so—your book, first of all, has been inspiration in my life, not only because after implementing a routine that you recommend in there, it’s allowed me to write my book, and I’ve used it quite often so that I can become more productive. So, first of all, thank you so much for that. And, for anyone listening in who hasn’t heard of your book, The Miracle Morning, available on Amazon and I’m sure a ton of other places online and in book stores, definitely worth the read.

But this all kind of starts with your story. You, at the age of twenty, experienced something that you could consider a miracle. And so I’d love to have you share that just briefly with everybody, then we’ll jump into the book.

Hal: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. When I was twenty years old, I was in sales. I had gone from being a radio DJ, DJing on the air, which was like my dream, and then a buddy of mine was selling Cutco Kitchen Knives, and he was always bugging me and saying “Hal, you’d be great at selling Cutco!” and I was like “Dude, I’m not—I’m a radio DJ, I’m not a salesman at all.” And, long story short, I took the gig. Longer story short, ten days later, I broken this all-time company record where I had sold fifteen thousand dollars of kitchen knives in ten days, which was more than like, I don’t know, almost anyone else in the company had ever done. and, a year and a half later, as one of the top salespeople for the company, I was always asked to give speeches.

And after speech one night, I was driving home, and I was in my brand new Ford Mustang—which, at twenty years old, that was like the dream car that I could afford. Wasn’t the Ferrari, but whatever—and driving home that night, was hit head on by a drunk driver at seventy miles an hour, and the worst was yet to come as my car spun off the drunk driver and the car behind me crashed into my door at seventy miles an hour. And I died for six minutes. I bled to death on the side of the freeway after it took them an hour to get me out of the car. Was in a coma for six days, broke eleven bones, and when I came out of the coma was facing a pretty unimaginable reality. I was told I’d never walk again, I’d have permanent brain damage, I—again—eleven broken bones. And I had to choose how I was gonna respond to what had happened to me.

And there’s that old saying “Everything happens for a reason,” but I think what I figured out what that the reason isn’t predetermined, like we’re often conditioned to think. We go “Why did this happen to me?!” and we’re asking, I don’t know, our friends, our family, God, actually looking for an answer that is predetermined when the reality is I realized that everything happens for a reason, but it is our responsibility to choose the reason. We can choose reasons that are victim reasons, like “Oh, bad things happen to me all the time. I’m unlucky, blah-blah-blah.” Or we can go “You know what, this sucks. This is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me, but I’m gonna make this my greatest comeback. I’m gonna use this adversity, turn it into an advantage, I’m gonna help other people, I’m gonna”—whatever, however you want to do that.

So, for me, I just realized that I can’t change was happened to me. Which, it’s true for all of us. Everything that’s ever happened in our lives, you can’t go back and change it, right? Unless you’re Marty McFly with the DeLorean—it is what it is. So you can either feel bad about it or sad about it or depressed about it or get angry or whatever, or the only intelligent choice is you accept all things that you can’t control, and you only focus on—all of your energy, all of your emotions, only focus them on the things that you have control over. And so, I decided “You know what, if I never walk again, I’ll be the happiest person you’ve ever seen in a wheelchair. Because, if I’m in a wheelchair, I might as well be happy.”

“But I’m not gonna put my energy into my fear. I don’t want that to—that’s like the worst case scenario, never walking again, so I’m gonna accept that, because it doesn’t have and control over my emotions. I’m gonna focus all my energy into walking again, because that’s what I want.” So I thought about walking, I visualized it, I dreamt about it, I prayed about it, I talked about it. I accepted the worst case scenario, but put no energy into once I accepted it, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that three weeks after the crash—my femur broke in half, my pelvis broke in three places—and two weeks after I came out of the coma and was being told I would never walk again, the doctor’s came in with a routine x-ray and they said “We don’t know how to explain this, but your body is healing at an incredible rate, and we’re gonna let you take your first step in therapy tomorrow.”

Zephan: Oh, man!

Hal: So, yeah, I went from never walking again to three weeks later and I took my first step! And the rest is kinda history, as they say, I got back to—I left the hospital after two months, I got back to work in my sales job. I finished that year as the number six rep in our company. And, to me, it wasn’t about me, it was going, hey, this is universally true for any human being on the planet that we—you know, we accept what we can’t change, be grateful for everything that we have, and then focus every day on making progress towards our goals, our dreams, our highest vision for our life. And when you do that, you can’t fail.

Zephan: Yeah, and a lot of it—it sounds like there’s a lot of positive attracts positive here, right. You could have stayed in bed and been all “Woe is me. Why did this happen to me? This negative thing?” and stayed in that negative mindset, or you could choose to say “Alright, well, here’s where I am and I don’t have to accept the script of how this is supposed to play out or people think is going to happen,” which, in your case, people thought it would take longer to recover and, for you, you recovered amazingly much faster than most. So I think it’s a lot of positive attracts positive, and also not really accepting the script of what other people would settle for.

Hal: Yeah. And I always—absolutely. I always say positive thinking doesn’t solve your problems, but it puts you in a peak physical and emotional state to solve your own problems, and that’s really what it is. Not to mention, all the metaphysical benefits of the law of attraction. There’s definitely truth to that. I believe the mind/body connection—I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my positive thinking and my profoundly fast recovery—I think there’s a correlation. I don’t have any graphs to show you, but I would imagine that it’s been proven that our mind can literally manipulate our cells. We can cause disease with our negative thinking and stress, or we can cause healing with positive thinking.

So there’s so many benefits of focusing on what you want and accepting what you don’t want. It’s arguable one of the most important kind of mindsets that we can adopt.

Zephan: Exactly, so at some point through all of this, you actually went on to run a fifty-two-mile ultra-marathon, is that right?

Hal: Yeah. I was being told I was never gonna walk again, and then I was walking again, and—it was actually—I know one of the things you wanted to talk about today is the Miracle Morning, and that’s where that fifty-two-mile ultra-marathon became a possibility. In 2008 when the US economy crashed, I at that time was what most people would consider successful by most in terms of my income was about—I just left my sales career. I left a hundred thousand dollar a year position to be an entrepreneur. There was risk involved, but after a couple of years, I was back up to almost where I was income wise. I bought a brand new house, brand new car, and was living my dreams.

I wanted to be an author; I wrote my first book, Taking Life Head On. I wanted to be a—my big dream was to be a professional speaker. I started giving my first speech for like twenty-five hundred bucks, so I was starting that. And then I launched a coaching business. I was doing sales coaching, business coaching in my mid-twenties. Bought as brand new house, bought a sports car, and met the woman of my dreams. I was in the best shape of my life physically—in fact, I was 5.7% body fat, which I used to joke “I’m going to get 5.7% tattooed on my bicep or something.”

So it’s like—I was working so hard in every area, I was happy. And when the economy crashed, I lost everything. Well, not everything. I lost my house—I had to short sell my house. I went from being debt free to not having enough money—I lost over half my clients, so I had to live on my credit cards. I went from being a debt free Dave Ramsay student to having fifty-three-thousand-dollar credit card balance in six months. And just—it was getting worse every day. And so, for the first time in my life, I got deeply depressed—you know, to the point of thoughts of suicide. I hated my life, because I felt hopeless. I kept trying to fix it. I would accept it “Okay, I’m at this low point. It’s only gonna get better.” Then it got worse. And then I’m like “Okay. Alright. Heh. This is my rock bottom, I’m gonna fix it. I’m gonna change it!” and then I lost another client—and on and on and on.

And so, to keep another long story a little bit shorter, I had an epiphany. I went on a run—I hated running, and a friend of mine said “Hal, if you want to fix your life, dude, you need to exercise. Go for a run every day, and listen to an audiobook on business. You can figure out how to get more clients and turn it around.” And I didn’t think it is—it was kind of like “I’m desperate, I’ll do it. I just want some advice on making money and keeping my business going. I don’t want to go for a run every day.” And on my first run, I heard a quote from Jim Rohn that turned everything around. And it turned it around faster than I ever thought possible—or at least, this was the catalyst for turning it around.

Jim Rohn said “Your level of success will seldom exceed your level of personal development.” And in that moment, I realized, “Hmm, I’m not dedicating time every day to my personal development to become the person that I need to be to create the success I want in my life. I’m just waking up, going into my office, working all day long, and going to bed.” And maybe watching some TV in the evening, that’s it. And so I had this epiphany. I’m gonna go home and I’m gonna figure out what the world’s more successful people do every day for personal development. Like, what are the most effective personal development practices known to man, and I’m gonna pick the top one or two, and I’m gonna start doing those.

And after an hour at home kinda researching online to figure this out, I couldn’t narrow it down to one or two. There was this list of six—you’ve heard of all of them. It’s silence, meditation, affirmations, visualization, exercise, reading, and journaling—or what I call scribing. And none of those were knew to me, so I was kinda disappointed. Like “Aw, man, I was looking for the quick fix. The cutting edge thing I didn’t know about. These are like the oldest practices known to man.”

And then it hits me. Number one, I don’t do these every day.  Number two, what if I did all of these? Like none of the research I did showed me any human being on the planet that was doing more than two or three of those. I thought “What if I did all six? That would be the ultimate routine!” I woke up the next morning, even though I wasn’t a morning person, I did all six, and, to wrap this up—first of all, that morning, I felt unstoppable. And what’s interesting, and this is what everybody reports with the Miracle Morning. It’s like Day 1 is a game changer, and you’re like “Holy cow, if I feel like this every day—dude, it’s only a matter of time before my outer world reflects the way that I feel!”

And it was less than two months that I more than doubled my income. I went from being in the worst shape of my life to exactly what you mentioned, which is, I thought “How can the Miracle Morning… How can I get my fitness at the highest level?” and I thought “I’m gonna do an ultra-marathon.” Fifty-two miles in one day. I started it right away, I started training, and five months later, I completed it in one day. And, maybe most importantly, my mental and emotional state, I went from being depressed and hopeless and scared in a scarcity mindset to feeling unstoppable and that didn’t take two months. It was day one.

So, which the financial, the physical, and the mental and emotional turnaround happening so fast, I started calling it my Miracle Morning, but it was never gonna be a book! And then, the rest is kinda history, as they say. I told a coaching client, she had amazing results. I told all my coaching clients, they all had amazing results, and then I was like “I gotta turn this into a book.” And, now, it’s—I don’t even know how to explain it. I have multimillionaires—Robert Kiyosaki reached out to me a couple months ago and told me he read the book three times, he’s on Day 60, it’s completely not only changed his life, but it’s changed his marriage. And this is somebody that’s worth like eighty million dollars, bestselling author—Rich Dad, Poor Dad!

And so, what I realized is that this is so effective and equally universal—meaning if you’re at rock bottom like I was or you have an eighty-million-dollar net worth and you’re a bestselling author or you’re anywhere in between—it is applicable to everybody and it’s pretty wild.

Zephan: And I think one of the things that I really enjoyed about it was that it’s very simple. It’s not like it’s this crazy like jump up and down, pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time sort of thing. It’s—the principles are there, right, and I’m sure a lot of people had considered things like this at one point in time, whether it’s exercise or reading or anything like that. But I feel like that reminder of having you there and putting it to this easy to use, sixty minute, if not even shorter, routine, made it much simpler. And I think—remind me—or correct me if I’m wrong, but I think I pulled this from your book—having a glass of water next to your bedside at night and drinking it as soon as you wake up in the morning? I actually haven’t stopped doing that from the first time I actually read the book. And—

Hal: Nice. Yeah, and—oh, go ahead.

Zephan: I was just gonna say just something as small as that, there’s a huge change there that happens.

Hal: It’s something that—it’s something that I learned from Eben Pagan. Eben Pagan is a mentor of mine and he—in fact, I need to reach out to him. We’re doing the Miracle Morning movie we just started filming. And we got Robert Kiyosaki in it, James Altucher, John Lee Dumas, Pat Flynn, and Eben—anyway, I’m just thinking out loud. He’s somebody that I really want to get in the movie, because he inspired me when I was writing the book.

But he taught me that, and it was basically the idea that, when we wake up in the morning, you haven’t drunk any water for six, seven, eight hours, so you’re dehydrated by default.  And dehydration and fatigue go hand in hand, so most people don’t drink water first thing in the morning. In fact, they drink coffee, which is a diarrhetic which further dehydrates you. You wake up dehydrated and then you drink something that dehydrates you. So, yeah, for me, I down a glass a water like I was a college kid at a keg party. I just pound it and then I fill it up again and I start on my second glass first thing when I wake up. So, immediately, I’m hydrated. And for those people that like to snooze, I don’t hit the snooze button very often, but if I do, I wake up and I down that full glass of water, then I snooze for ten minutes so that ten minutes later, my body’s hydrating.

Zephan: Ah, very smart. So that actually brings me to a good point here. Because, you know, obviously the whole routine is laid out in the book The Miracle Morning and everyone definitely needs to check that out, but I have to ask, what do you do or what do you say for people when—let’s say they start it, right, and they’ve been in it for three, four days, they’re really struggling. Some people just—they struggle way more with making new routines than others. For people like me, it’s simple. I just right in and I’m in it. And it’s great. But, for some people, they really do have a hard time with it. So just what’s your advice or tips with sticking too this and hold yourself accountable?

Hal: So, one of the most important chapters in the book is—it’s called from Unbearable to Unstoppable. And it’s how to implement any habit or integrate any habit into your life in thirty days. And, for me, I’ve been a coach for a long time, I have a group coaching program with two hundred members, so I’m always crating content for them. And—I realized that one of the most important things for us to be able to master as human beings is the ability to change a habit and either get rid of a bad habit or implement a new positive habit. But most people suck at it.

You think about New Year’s Resolutions—all a New Year’s Resolution is, is a new habit. “I want to quit smoking.” “I want to start exercising.” Whatever. A great example of how bad we are at that is if you go to the gym, first week of January, like January 4th, it’s packed with all these people and New Year’s Resolutions. But like go to the gym two weeks later and half the parking lot is empty, because people don’t know how to stick to a habit.

So in the book, I teach the psychology of this, and the most effective way to implement a new habit, the first ten days—there’s three ten day phases and I’ll just briefly go over these. But the first ten days is the unbearable phase. The second—and I’ll explain what these are—but the second ten days is the uncomfortable phase. And the third ten days is the unstoppable phase. And here’s what it looks like:

Days one through ten—and, of course, it could be off by a couple days, but for the most part—days one through ten, a new habit often feels unbearable. You’re like “Oh my gosh, I’m not a morning person! I can’t ge tout of bed!” or like when I was training for that ultra-marathon, I hated running! So the first te days, every thought was like “Oh my god, I hate this. My body aches! I’m not a runner!” but here’s the thing, because we’re never told that and we wake up on day one all optimistic—usually the first few days, people are fired up if they’re excited about the new habit. Like Miracle Morning people always go “Dude! I didn’t start unbearable; I was on fire!” I’m like “Yeah, it starts that way, but you will hit a wall, whether it’s on day four or six or whatever, but you’ll go ‘Alright, the initial excitement wore off and now I’m realizing this is something that’s out of my comfort zone.’”

And what happens is, if you go into a new habit that you’re trying to change or implement with this awareness, that is the game changer. Because if you don’t know that it’s unbearable for ten days, then on day four, you’re like “Oh my god, I gave it four days! I gave it a valiant effort but it still—I hate it! I guess I’m not meant to be this person!” and so you throw in the towel. But if you know the first ten days are gonna be unbearable, but I’m committed for thirty days because in thirty days, I’ll be a different person and the habit will be easy to sustain.

So let me ask you a question. Zephan, if you know a habit can change your life for the better, can you do anything for ten days, even if it’s difficult?

Zephan: Oh, 100%.

Hal: Of course, right! But if you’re not aware, you don’t know that you need to be committed at that level for that long. So the first ten days are unbearable, second ten days are uncomfortable. And what that means is it’s still not a picnic, it’s still easier to not do it that to do it, whatever the habit is, and that’s where you have to stay committed. You gotta go “Okay, I’m still not a runner yet. I still kinda don’t really like it.” But the difference—the beauty of it is it’s no longer unbearable. You’re not hating it, you’re not defying it with every fiber of you’re being, you’re just kind of like “Eh, I don’t really want to do it.” So it’s not as hard, but people can often through in the towel at that point too, because they take a couple days off or whatever.

And then finally, the unstoppable days, days twenty-one through thirty, here’s what this looks like. This is where you wake up one day, and whatever your new habit is—maybe it’s actually waking up early—there’s no resistance. There’s no hating it. There’s ot even any—it’s not even uncomfortable. In fact, it’s the opposite. You’re fired up!

Here’s how it looked for me: Days one through ten of running, I hated it. Days eleven through twenty, I’m like “Ehh, I’m still not a runner. Am I ever gonna like this?” and then, somewhere around like day twenty-three/twenty-four, I woke up, I went over, I laced up my running shoes, put on my shorts, and I headed out the front door with a smile on my face, fired up to run! And I didn’t even realize—it was a few minutes into the run when I went “Wait a minute! I want to be here right now! Weird, I want to run! Last week, I didn’t like this. Two weeks ago, I freaking hated it. Now I actually want to do it!” And here’s the question, and this is pretty rhetorical, but you can answer it, Zephan, is it hard to continue doing something that you are now enjoying doing?

Zephan: Not really.

Hal: No! and so that’s the power of it, and that’s why the miracle morning—we have tens of thousands of people—I think we’re over a hundred thousand people now that do the Miracle Morning every day around the world and over 70% of those people, from—I’ve surveyed them. They have said “Before the Miracle Morning, I was not a morning person in my entire life.” Most of them said “I’ve tried to become a morning person multiple times. I’ve failed every time until the Miracle Morning.” And so—yeah. So I’m not sure how to wrap that up, but that’s really it. That’s really it. People, if they understand that it’s thirty days, stay committed, understand the emotions you’re gonna go through—first ten days will feel unbearable, second ten days are uncomfortable, and then stick with it, be optimistic, think positively, somewhere between day twenty-one and thirty, you will hit a stride, you will be fired, and the reason I call it unstoppable is because, like you just said, it’s not hard to continue doing something that you no longer resist doing. You’re actually enjoying it. You become a runner, you become an early riser, you become someone that identifies with that habit as part of who you are.

Zephan: And I would certainly, personally endorse all of that, only because I never could see myself as a writer, I always hated writing, and then about two months ago, I set out to write and publish my own book. And as I was telling you just before we jumped on the call, I got about a hundred and sixty-five-page rough draft sitting here ready to go to the editor. And I’d never expect myself to be able to do something like that, had it not been for creating this routine where I sit there and have a dedicated time and space to write just about anything just to see where it goes.

Hal: That is exciting, man. Very, very exciting.

Zephan: Yeah, man. Well, thank you, so much, for being here. We’d love to share with everyone, where’s the best place to get the Miracle Morning? Where’s the best place to keep track of you and things that are going on? I know you’ve got a movie that you’re working on, so just share with everybody, where’s the best place to find out all that info?

Hal: Yeah—the Miracle Morning, the best place to get the book is Amazon, unless you’re an iBooks user, you can get it on iBooks. On Amazon.com, you can pick one of three formats. You can get the paperback, you can get the Kindle, or you can get the audio book. So all of that is the Miracle Morning, the book on Amazon. And then my website, if you want to reach out to me, halelrod.com. Depending on when this airs, we are putting on a live event in San Diego, a two-day event called Best Year Ever Blueprint. It’s our second one. Last year, two hundred people had their lives radically transformed—and that’s no hyperbole, really profound changes for people and this year, we’re doing it again. That website is bestyeareverlive.com, and right now, if you go, there’s early bird pricing and all that.

And then last, but not least, is I would invite everybody that’s listening, Zephan, to the Miracle Morning Community Facebook group. We created this Facebook group—or I created it when the Miracle Morning book came out a couple years ago, and I am blown away by how supportive and engaged our community is. There’s over twenty thousand people in there now. Over a hundred people a day join from all over the world. And they just support each other. Like people will come in and go “I’ve got this challenge,” and I’ve seen people, by the end of the day, thirty/forty/fifty/sixty/seventy comments from fellow community members and sometimes it’s people—their first day in the community! They like—“I’m new here. Does anybody have any advice on this topic?”

So, hey, everybody, the Miracle Morning Community. Join it on Facebook. And I check in there almost every single day, so I’ll look for everybody’s posts.

Zephan: Awesome. And I’m a member of that as well, so I definitely find it to be a great resource to have. If you’re wasting time on Facebook, it might as well be in a place like this, because these people are really there to help you.

And, Hal, thank you so much for being here today. I really appreciate that you took the time out. And, for everyone listening in, check out the Miracle Morning on Amazon.

Hal: Cool, thanks so much, Zephan, and everybody that tuned in, thank you so much for your time and I hope to see you in the Miracle Morning Community on Facebook—oh, and San Diego! If you can come to the Best Year Ever Blueprint live event, I’d love to see you in person.

YOP056: Greg Schwem – Corporate Comedy

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Bio: The Chicago Tribune recently proclaimed Greg Schwem “king of the hill in the growing world of corporate comedy.” His comedic take on the 21st century workplace and work/life balance has landed him on SIRIUS Radio, FOX News, Comedy Central and the pages of Parents Magazine. Audiences from companies such as Cisco, Microsoft, IBM, Motorola and McDonald’s have laughed at Greg’s stories about tedious business meetings, Smart Phone addiction, “frequently” asked questions and his fascination with the American Girl Doll company.
More than just a business humorist, Schwem is also an author, nationally syndicated humor columnist for the Huffington Post and even an award-winning greeting card writer. His new book, “The Road to Success Goes Through the Salad Bar: A Pile of BS (Business Stories) From a Corporate Comedian” was released in September 2015.

Transcript

Zephan: Zephan Blaxberg here and today I’m joined by Greg Schwem. The Chicago Tribune recently proclaimed that Greg was the king of the hill in the growing world of corporate comedy. His comedic take on the 21st Century workplace and work/life balance has landed him on Sirius Radio, FOX News, Comedy Central, and the pages of Parents Magazine. Audiences from companies such as Cisco, Microsoft, IBM, Motorola, and McDonald’s have laughed at Greg’s stories about tedious business meetings, smart phone addiction, frequently asked questions, and his fascination with the American Girl doll company—which I think I’ll have to ask you about in a moment.

More than just a business humorist, Greg is also an author, nationally syndicated humor columnist for the Huffington Post and even an award winning greeting card writer. His new book The Road to Success Goes Through the Salad Bar: A Pile of BS—also known as Business Stories—From a Corporate Comedian was released in September 2015. What’s going on Greg?

Greg: How are you, Zephan? It’s nice to be here. Thanks for having me on.

Zephan: Yeah, I’m doing quite well and, you know, I’m sure you’ve got a lot of funny stories based in the corporate world. And having you know worked for Apple myself and seeing people where they keep their life in their iPhone, I’ve seen some very interesting things come out of these phones—both physical and photographically. But I’d love to find out what got you to here? What was your background like? Where did you find this ability to turn things that happen in the corporate world into something that’s actually laughable?

Greg: Yeah. Well it is kind of an interesting story. My background is in broadcast journalism, believe it or not. I was a TV reporter down in Florida, but I’ve always done stand up. I started doing standup comedy when I was sixteen. And I always based my show on things that are real to people and sort of the nuances of just real life and I just always thought that was the funniest. Eventually, I got disillusioned with the world of media and I decided to do standup full time. And I almost kind of fell into the corporate part of it, because I wasn’t—like any comic starting off, I wasn’t making a lot of money. I was traveling around in my car doing club after club and realizing I don’t know if there was much of a future in it.

But I started freelancing for a company in Chicago that did live trade show presentations. I don’t know if your former job with apple if that ever landed you want to trade show floor. You know, where you see people kind of giving the same presentation over and over and over again in five to seven minute spurts. Now that was what I did, but it’s got me to sort of see the corporate culture and try to entertain people really quickly, mostly improvisationally, before I started my product pitch. But I got sort of a sense of how corporate America thought and how it laughed what it thought was funny. And I started putting material that I saw in these trade show environments into my nightclub act. And then I would have people come up to me afterwards and say, “You really oughta come down to my office and tell those jokes.” I was doing a lot of jokes about computers, about technology, about just the crazy stuff that business people deal with all day. And little by little I transition my whole show over to that.

And that’s all I do now is I just go around the country and make companies and associations laugh at themselves about topics that are very real to them, and that they deal with every day but they’ve never ever been able to laugh at.

Zephan: Right. I mean, it’s funny, because this is—it’s probably the same across the board. I mean, every company is going to have that one guy that does that one thing that everyone can laugh about. And I’m sure you see it everywhere.

Greg: Usually it’s the CEO.

Zephan: Right, right! So I had never want to trade shows actually at Apple but, surprisingly after the fact—because when I left I started a video production company. And so every year, they have the National Association of Broadcasters, I’m sure you’re familiar with from your previous background, and so I was just in Las Vegas back in—I think is in April or May. And it’s huge. I mean they take over the convention center. There’s thousands of businesses there. I think I walked like thirty miles over the course of three days. That’s what my iPhone told me, so unless it was lying. But, I mean, you’re absolutely right it’s people that just stand there all day, and it’s the same spiel over and over every five or ten minutes. It’s a new group of people coming in.

Greg: Yeah, and I had to mix it up just so I wouldn’t go nuts, and I would sort of improv with people and maybe change the script around on the second day a little bit and just throw a little—just some off kilter comments in there. And I noticed people laughing at that because it—you know what it was it was? It was something different, and I think that’s kind of the same thing that I bring to corporate shows.  Is it’s something—you know, these three day sales meetings, I’m something different. I’m something they haven’t seen before and I can deliver a message to them and at the same time I can make them laugh. And I think that’s what makes me very unique and it’s why I really enjoy what I’m doing.

Zephan: Yeah I mean you become the pattern interrupt of “We had these boring power points for the last three hours of the day and crappy coffee that was barely warm when we walked in and we’ve been sitting here in these on comfortable chairs,” and now there’s kind of like a nice change of pace. So I’m sure that really adds a lot of value to the businesses that you’re going to.

Greg: Yeah. And I think people remember that. I think people want to laugh in any type of environment. I think sometimes they feel like they’re not allowed to, which is which is ridiculous, and I just—I like to show people that it doesn’t matter where you are, you can laugh. You can laugh about something that you’re doing every day. There’s—you can find humor in it.

Zephan: Yeah, absolutely. And so I’m curious to hear little bit just about how—because you took something that you’re very good at, and he took something that you’re passionate about, and you were able to turn it into a business, something that made money and something that made a difference in the world. And it’s very hard for some people who might be sitting in the corporate world but have an interest in doing that to see right now where they could go. Maybe share just a little bit about, you know, did you ever have any struggles moving into this world of entrepreneurship and working for yourself? Or what were some of the things that you did to ensure your own success?

Greg: Well absolutely—first all, not only did I take the entrepreneurial path but I also teach so show business. which 95% of people in the career of show business can’t make any money at that. I mean, that’s just one of the most difficult careers to just suddenly say “I’m going to do this.” I realized very early on though, once I became a full time comedian—and I kind of alluded to the fact about I was going around the country just plain comedy club after comedy club in these god forsaken towns where you just knew nothing was going to come of it…other than of a paycheck and maybe some free liquor afterwards.

But I realized very early I had to set myself apart. I had to develop some sort of a niche that nobody else was doing, or very few people were doing, and that’s another reason that I kind of gravitated into this world of doing comedy in the corporate environment. Because I saw something that was very necessary, could be very beneficial it was done correctly, and yet nobody was doing it. And the whole idea—to this day, a lot of companies they just go “Huh, a comedian. Interesting. Never tried that before. What would we possibly do with him?” And I even though I’ve been doing this for fifteen or twenty years, I still have to sell myself to a lot of companies and say to them “Look there is value in this, it is something different, and I’m not going to go up and tick off everybody in your audience.” I think that’s kind of a roadblock sometimes—“Oh, we had a comedian three years ago and I don’t want to tell you what happened to that guy. [Inaudible 08:38] my job as a result.”

So I have to let them know that, no, we’re not all like that, but if you do have laughs then people will remember that. And I found that I early on and that’s one of the reasons I transitioned my show.

Zephan: Very cool. And so you’ve basically learned from how it started and grew and made changes and it ultimately transforms and it gets to where it is now. I like that you’re very honest that it’s fifteen to twenty years in the making. This is not something that was “Hey, tomorrow I’m gonna go on the road and people are gonna laugh and I’ve got this huge successful business.” It’s a process and it’s great to see how it’s changed over time.

Greg: And it continues to change, Zephan. There’s a lot of speakers out there, you can tell that they’ve been doing the same canned speech for fifteen to twenty years. And corporate audiences in particular will pick up on that very quickly. They know when you’re phoning one in, and they—people now have such a short attention span. One thing that I have to deal with that I would say people—comedians in night clubs don’t have to deal with, is I have to deal with the text messaging. I’m sometimes on in the morning, during working hours, at lunch time. People think nothing of whipping out their iPads. I’ve had people walk into the place where I’m performing and open up their laptops and just think “Oh, I can listen to this guy and answer some emails at the same time.”

I have to get them to stop doing that. You don’t have to deal with that at the night club, but, as a result, I’m constantly having to change up my material, and talk about thinks that are relevant at that particular moment. I mean, right now, I’m doing a lot of material on generational differences, because that’s a big hot topic in the corporate world. I’m doing a lot of material on new apps, because every company either—maybe they’ve developed an app. If they’re not, they’re thinking about it sand they’re dealing with all the complications that come with that. I wasn’t doing material on that ten years ago, because there was no such thing as apps ten years ago!

Zephan: Right, right. Very interesting. And I want to know, what is—because I have to ask this. This is from your bio—what is the American Girl doll company? And where does this fit in?

Greg: Have you ever been to an American Girl doll store?

Zephan: I don’t think so.

Greg: Okay, do you know what the American Girl doll is? I don’t know, this is—basically, it’s a very, very successful business, but they have taken dolls. They sell dolls and they sell accessories. And they’re incredibly expensive, by the way. But they have taken the doll and they have almost made it—they have marketed it in such a way where you’re not buying a doll, you’re buying an addition to your family. And they have—all the dolls have stories behind them, they come from different generations, different historical times. So they want girls to learn about—you’re not just buying a play thing, you’re buying something that you can learn about history, you can learn about what it was like growing up in the 1800s.

And they marketed—but I use that, not only because I have two daughters and I’ve gone through the American Girl doll thing and my bank account has suffered significantly, but I use that as a chance to show companies that this company is succeeding. All they done is they’ve looked at an old product in a new way. That’s kinda the message that I give to a lot of companies. It’s not—to use an overused business cliché, it’s not rocket science. You just—some companies overthink what they need to be successful. I look at this American Girl doll company and said “Look, all they did was take dolls and rebrand them.” And then I use an awful lot of pictures and images and so forth and go through my incredible dislike for this company—not because I dislike the dolls but because I hate going to the store!

And that’s how I try to relate comedy to business. You can take a theme and you make—you say “How can I relate this to the business world?” So that’s why I include that. And I get more dad’s—more thirty/forty-year-old men nodding their heads like “Oh my god, I just experienced this. I know exactly what he’s talking about.” And that’s—if you’re a comedian and you see that, then you know you’ve hit something, when you can actually see the audience nodding along in agreement with you. That’s a great feeling to have.

Zephan: Yeah, because it’s something that everybody’s going through with you. They know exactly that pain and agony that the wallets feel.

Greg: Yes, yes. And sometimes they even close their laptops!

Zephan: Nice! Nice. And I’m sure—so that’s probably been a pretty good skill for you, too, getting people to pay attention, because, even just in life in general, it’s so easy for—if we weren’t on a podcast right now, it’s super easy for me to grab my phone over here, look down at it, check a text message or whatever, and get distracted for the next five minutes and then lookup, and the whole time I’ve been going “Yeah, uh-huh,” and you think I’m still paying attention, but I was gone.

Greg: Yeah. And it’s funny, because I used to—it’s funny how when corporate meetings start, they still say “If you can please silence your cell phones.” They used to say “Turn off your cell phone,” and you realize, nobody’s gonna do that! It’s like saying “Turn off your electronic devices before the plane takes off.” Nobody does that either.

So I actually put that into my show. I basically wanted the audience to know that I know they’re looking at stuff. So I do a little bit in my show called “I want you to abide by what I call the Smartphone Code of Conduct,” and I put this—this thing that I actually make them agree to. I say “Raise your right hands,” and I say something like “I promise to give Greg approximately 20% of my undivided attention, with the other 80% reserved for checking emails, sending text messages, surfing the internet, and playing Candy Crush on my smartphone.” It’s my way of saying “I know you’re doing it. Maybe take a break.” I’m not gonna yell—I’m not gonna point at individual people in the audience and say “What are you doing on your cellphone??” because I know they’re not gonna stop. It’s just I have to adapt. I can’t make the audience adapt to me.

But that’s kind of fun, doing what I do is trying to figure out those ways where I feel like I’m one step ahead of them.

Zephan: Nice. And, speaking of which, I just had my first person yell at me on the plane saying “You’re gonna crash the plane because you didn’t turn your phone off!” I’m like, “Are you kidding me??”

Greg: Now, were you talking or were you texting?

Zephan: I was just texting somebody. So I turned to her and I was like “Ma’am, I have flown twenty-five flights in the last twelve months. Not a single one of those planes has been taken down yet. I don’t think it’s gonna happen today.”

Greg: Because of your LOL text.

Zephan: Right! So—man—

Greg: But when people are still talking, that’s—the texting I get. When they say “Power down,” and there’s somebody still actually yakking on the phone, that’s when I want—if you were doing that, then I probably would have said something, because that’s such a blatant violation.

Zephan: Right. And for me too, it’s like, you are in a metal shell with a hundred and fifty other people yelling at your fiancée about how bad the cheeseburger was that you had for lunch at the airport. First of all, I don’t think your fiancée cares any more than anyone else on the plane that’s hearing you’re entire conversation.

Greg: Exactly. And, considering the plane pretty much flies by itself nowadays anyway, I think they know where the airport is. I think that’s kind of a given. We’re gonna be able to figure it out.

Zephan: Exactly. So, tell me, how does success “go through the salad bar” and what does the salad bar have to do with it?

Greg: Ah, yes, the title of my book, The Road to Success Goes Through the Salad Bar. Well, I was actually—the way that came about is I was talking with a friend of mine, and he works for—it’s a client of mine and he works for a large financial insurance company. And we were just talking about hiring, and he was saying that now the economy’s picked up, there’s a lot of openings. And we were talking about different ways that people hire now, and they’re—sometimes it’s through interviews like what we’re doing. The Skype interview, the phone conference, the Human Resources software that crunches all these candidates together and just starts randomly weeding them out—well, they don’t consider it randomly.

But he said to me, he said “You know what, best way to find a candidate,” and he was sort of half joking about this, “look at people when they’re at a salad bar. Look at the way they interact, not only with other people around them, but with the items in the salad bar.” I go, “What do you mean?” “Well,” he says, “okay. Usually, there’s three different kinds of lettuce. Does he take one, or does he take all three? If he takes all three, it shows that he’s willing to experiment a little bit. If he takes one, he’s more focused or he alienates things.” I said “How many scoops of raisins and croutons does he throw on there? If he throws a lot, does that mean he’s wasteful? Does that mean he’s not good with numbers? He’s not good with accounting, you can’t trust him with a budget?” And the more we talked about it, I’m like “This is kind of a funny theme,” and so I just started sort of expanding on that, and the next thing you know, I thought it would make a good title for a book.

So that’s just one chapter in the book, but the book is basically just me spent observing corporate America and writing it down. A lot of the stuff—most of it—is kind of too long to fit in my standup act, but there’s chapters in there—the three-day corporate meeting that cost three and a half million dollars, and how do people become billionaires, and this over infatuation that business travels have with frequent flyer miles. All that stuff. It’s all in there and it’s all that kind of stuff that I think if you—all you have to do is go to work every day and you’ll find something in there that you can relate to.

Zephan: Did you ever see the—there was some article that came out a while back about how the government was buying fourteen or fifteen dollar muffins or something like that and it sparked this crazy, you know—

Greg: Oh, yeah! Exactly. Everything is now audited and now it’s like—and, really, that was all part of the whole thing about how meetings, in general, were wasteful. It was not cool to have a meeting after the meltdown of 08/09. That was a big thing, that you shouldn’t have meetings, and I totally disagree. You have to have these events to, number one, keep people interested, keep your clients interested, and also if you employees sort of a—if it’s at a nice place, you give them a reward for all the hard work they put in. so I was very much—when all this was coming out, I was like “I don’t think you guys know what you’re talking about.”

You don’t have to hire U2 to play for your one hundred most valuable employees—as some companies were doing—but you still gotta have an offsite event, I think.

Zephan: Makes perfect sense. So, tell me, what are some of your favorite BS or business stories that you like to share with people? And maybe let’s put a lighter note behind the corporate world.  I know we have some corporate burnouts listening in, so maybe we can share with them some experiences that they are probably seeing in the office as it is, that they can at least see in a different light.

Greg: Well, my favorite is kind of what we’re doing right now. I am fascinated with the way that hiring takes place now. We talked about that a little bit earlier, but we I had a lot of friends who were out of work after the meltdown and I would always ask them “How’s it going? Are you having interviews?” and they say “Well, I’ve got a phone interview today” or “I’ve got a Skype interview.” “So what do you do, you just sit in front of a camera and they interview you?” and they go “Yeah,” and I go “Okay… Where does this take place?” “In my home office.” I’m like “What’s behind you? Do you add anything there to make it look like you’re a little more of an appealing candidate?”

Do you have any metals or trophies from high school? Put them behind there! They can’t see on Skype what those are! Make it look like you’re really valuable and you’ve won tons of awards! And I said “Do you have children? Do you have pets?” They go, “Yeah.” “Get the puppy in there!” Just randomly bring the puppy in. you got a golden retriever puppy, no one can resist that! And there’s not rules to these things! Have your kids come in and look at little bit sad like “Dad, are you gonna get this one?”

Zephan: “Dad, can we have nicer breakfast today?”

Greg: You’re just called from the other room “Dad, mac and cheese again out of the box!? Okay, I’ll make it.” So—I’m like “Make this thing work for you!” And that’s one of the things.

As far as different stories, also, just the different places that I’ve been. I think the weirdest gig I ever did was for a dozen software engineers in the hull—I that’s what it’s called—of a catamaran. They said “It’s a job on a boat sailing around San Diego harbor.” I go “That sounds kinda cool,” and I thought it was like a cruise ship or some big thing. And then they go “It’s a catamaran.” And I don’t know much about sailing, but I know enough to know that a catamaran is a sailboat. And I was thinking “My gosh, where couple they possibly have me? There’s only like one place”—that was it! And they literally stay in like a semi-circle in this little area and I was just in the middle, and the CEO goes “Okay. Go be funny! be funny about software!” and that is what I did, because that’s what they hired me for.

But it is funny, because when we want to laugh, we think you as the comedian or as the funny, motivational speaker, you should be able to make us laugh anywhere at any time. So I do get that every now and then.

But, I mean, geez, there’s stories about—oh, and there’s stories about—here’s a good one. One thing I do is I send a questionnaire out. And I always ask are there certain topics that are off limits? And I also say “If you’re gonna give me material, if you’re gonna give me ideas, I want to make sure that this idea is something that, if I mention it, the majority of the room knows about it, not the four of your who filled it out in your cubical that you think is hilarious.”

Because I did get burned by that one time. A computer company, and they said “If you just bring up the Matrix.” I go “What’s the Matrix?” “It’s a hiring process that we have to go to. Mention it. It’s funny.” I’m like “Oh, okay, if you say so.” And I’m trying to write jokes about the movie the Matrix… That’s all they gave me. They said ‘Just mention it and everybody will think it’s hilarious.” So fifteen minutes into the show, it’s going really well, I bring up—“Let’s talk about the Matrix!” I’m telling you Zephan, if it was possible to hear people’s butt cheeks clench together—it happens simultaneously. You could just feel the energy go out of this room, and I thought to myself “Okay, whatever it was I just brought up, this is not a popular topic.” And had I known that—and the show, it just didn’t really go well after that. And I went offstage and I said to these people that filled out the questionnaire, I said “Man, that—I kinda feel like you threw me to the wolves there.” “We thought it would be funny!” and then they kind of apologized.

But it taught me that, number one, there are certain topics that are off-limits and, number two, I need to vet the audience a little better sometimes. And now, anytime they give me information, I go “Tell me how relevant this is, because otherwise, I’ll just go on to something else.” Because I try not to do that. I try to—when I write material, I do customize, obviously, all my shows, but I try to stick to topics that appeal to everybody as opposed to one little sector. Because then you start alienating everybody else, and then you will get the “Okay, we can go back to our cellphones now because he’s not talking about us.”

Zephan: Right. That makes sense. I definitely would want to stay involved with the show all the way through to the end and be interested in it. So, yeah, it makes sense to make it align with everyone.

Greg: And you know what, too, there’s enough topics out there. Everybody who works in corporate America has probably dealt with the thirty participant conference call, where it’s forty-five minutes and the only thing you’ve heard for forty-five minutes it “Who just joined? Is he on? Is he on? You had to jump off? Okay, is he back on? Alright—alright, who’s on? Who’s off? Alright, now that everybody’s on, we’re done, and we’ll do it again next week! This was really beneficial.” You probably dealt with that at Apple, did you not?

Zephan: That was one of the things that I would ways say. One of the reasons why I left is it’s very hard when you’re at the bottom of the food chain to create a difference in the company. So it’s like, if I want to change the way a process or something works, I have to go to my managers, who then goes to the store managers who has to email somebody at corporate who has to call their friend’s dog’s fish and ask him if it’s okay. And if the fish taps on the glass once, then, sure, the decision is made. But, so that really was one of the big things in corporate is it’s funny how much effort has to go into making a decision as simple as “Hey, can I take my fifteen-minute break?”

Greg: Yes. Yes! No, I totally understand that. And that’s another great thing about working for yourself. I don’t have to do that. And also—it’s also nice—I think one of the things I feel very fortunate is that I have a skill that very few people have, the ability to stand up on stage and make strangers laugh, but it’s also something that—it’s so—it is so different that people can’t really tell you how to do it. It’s like—I played golf, but I can’t tell Tiger Wood “You should hit the foreiron, you should grip the club this way.” It like, I have an idea—but I think, in comedy, it’s like it’s something—he does that, and I can’t do that, so I guess I just gotta trust him. And that’s what I tell my clients when we’re doing all the prep work. I got “You gotta trust me, you gotta trust the process, trust that I know the rules—the politically correct part of it—and that I will entertain your people without crossing any lines that I know you don’t want me to cross and that I would not feel comfortable crossing anyway.”

Zephan: So, at the end of the day, they’re not gonna throw me out the twenty-third story window.

Greg: Yes, exactly, right! But it is true that we joke about that, but I always said comedy at a corporate event, it’s the biggest hit and the toughest sell. Because you have to get people past that—we’re in an age now where everybody can comment and everybody can say “I didn’t like this particular part.” I feel very—I take a lot of pride in the fact that I’ve never had people complain about me, and that’s an awful lot of shows. And I’ve never had somebody say “We can’t possibly use you again. We told you not to say that.” I do listen to the audiences. But you still have to make your clients comfortable with that.

And, again, that’s the reason for the conference calls, that’s the reason for the questionnaire. It’s to get them feeling like they’re part of the process.

Zephan: Makes sense. If they give you the ideas of what they’re looking for and you deliver that then, most of the time—other than when you’re entering the Matrix—it works out well.

Greg: [laughing] Exactly! Right! Right, right. And, again, I think that’s what makes me kinda unique among corporate entertainers.

Zephan: So what do you see for the future of corporate America? What do you think is gonna come up next? Are we all just gonna be replaces by robots? Is it gonna be the same?

Greg: It’s funny, cause the chapter of the book deals with that, about the office of the future and my ideas for what it’s gonna look like. And part of it was—and I’ve just taken things that I know are already in place. We’re already experimenting with offices where nobody sits. That’s true, you either stand or you lean, and there’s prototypes out there that sitting is bad for the way you think. And I have—I have said—my chapter in my book says “Okay, we’re all gonna be standing around. We’re more health conscious, so maybe we should move Wall Street and the business district in New York. Maybe we should move that to rural America where all the farms are and all the corporations can have a partnership with farms and they can bring all their produce over and put it for free in the break room so now everybody’s healthy because they’re eating carrots all day long and then you don’t have to have the wellness expert to tell everybody to get rid of all the jelly bellies in your desk drawer.”

I think business will always be around as is. I think corporate meetings will always be around. That’s why I like what I’m doing, because I feel like there’s a future for me in there. You will always—the more disconnected we get from each other, the more we rely on communication via cellphone, virtual meetings, I think the more people realize you can’t do that 100% of the time. Eventually, you’re gonna have to get out and talk to each other. And that’s why I feel like I’m in a pretty good situation right now.

Zephan: Yeah, absolutely. So your book has just recently come out, and it’s called The Road to Success Goes Through the Salad Bar: A Pile of BS—Business Stories—From a Corporate Comedian. So this just came out what it the best place for people to both learn more about you, find out where they can get the book and things like that?

Greg: Well, the book’s available on Amazon, on Barnes & Noble, on iTunes right now. You can get both digital and paperback versions. And soon, it’s gonna be available with audio files. We’re gonna be putting those up for those of you who like to—and I read it. So you can get sort of a sense of my voice and you’re driving in the car.

And to find out about me, you can just go to my website gregschwem—G-R-E-G S-C-H-W-E-M—dot-com. And also, if you just put—just search me on YouTube. I have my own YouTube channel and I have a lot of videos up there that show me in different situations and that also so how somebody like myself can be used in a corporate meeting, whether it’s doing a keynote, whether it’s MCing, whether it’s going funny improvisation interviews with employees, interview executives, I’ve done all that. And it’s all equally fun for me, and hopefully for the audience too.

Zephan: Now, do you have the catamaran up there?

Greg: I do not! No, I actually had to repress that from my memories, Zephan, until I all of a sudden—all of a sudden, I thought “Oh, maybe I should tell that story.” But I mean, lots of therapy.

Zephan: I think you should go back and film it again and just put it up on YouTube.

Greg: There’s no room! We’d have to take out have the audience to put a camera down there! Instead of twelve, I’d be performing for six.

Zephan: Just to it on an iPhone!

Greg: Maybe that’s it. I could do Periscope or Meerkat or something like that.

Zephan: Yeah, you may see a couple people’s beds in the background and you know what they ate for breakfast and, you know—that’s okay.

Greg: Exactly! I work on that.

Zephan: Well, this has been fun, man, and I definitely recommend anyone check out this book if you are in the corporate world, if you’re not in the corporate world but you’re looking for a good laugh., definitely look for it on Amazon or on Barnes & Noble. And thanks for being here, Greg!

Greg: Hey, it was my pleasure, Zephan. Thank you so much!

 

YOP055: Allison Stevens – Prep Dish

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Bio: Chef Allison Stevens, MS, RD, LD is the founder of the gluten-free & paleo meal planning website: PrepDish.com. Allison thoughtfully crafts each plan using her own well-tested recipes. Each meal plan allows you, the home cook, to spend only 2-3 hours preparing a week’s worth of crave-worthy, healthy meals using seasonal, whole foods (nothing processed!). Prep Dish aims to save you time while keeping your family’s taste buds happy. Sign up for the Prep Dish newsletter and receive a FREE 1 week gluten-free meal plan! Allison is also the founder of Prep Dish: Personal Chefs where she cooks delicious healthy meals for Austin-based busy families, couples and celebrity clients.

Transcript

Zephan: Hey, everyone, this is Zephan Moses Blaxberg here with another episode of the Year of Purpose podcast. And today, I’m joined by chef Allison Stevens, and she is the found of the gluten free and paleo website PrepDish.com.

Allison thoughtfully crafts each plan using her own well-tested recipes. Each meal plan allows you, the home cook, to spend only two or three hours preparing a week’s worth of crave-worthy healthy meals, using seasonal whole foods. Nothing processed. Prep Dish aims to save you time while keeping your family’s taste buds happy. Sign up for the Prep Dish newsletter and receive a free, one-week, gluten free meal plan.

How’s it going today, Allison?

Allison: I’m doing well! How are you? I’m excited to be here.

Zephan: Yeah! I’m doing well too, and actually it’s great to talk about the whole gluten free and paleo movement, because this is something that I got into probably about four or five years ago, just when I started with CrossFit gym. As you know, paleo’s a huge thing with crossfitters. And it was more, for me, to kind of clear out my system, because I was eating too much junk food, too much fried food, and as you know, paleo really takes it down to the roots of what did we used to eat. So maybe if you could give us just a little more background, for people listening in who haven’t really familiarized themselves with paleo. What exactly does that mean? And tell me—or maybe share with me how that can taste amazing and not losing out on any flavor with this type of cooking.

Allison: Sure, yeah! And I guess, when I explain paleo, I’m gonna do it in the way that I see paleo and what I like about paleo. The main thing I love about paleo is it’s about listening to your body and seeing what works for you. There’s a lot of variations of paleo. At the core, it’s eat real food, which anyone can get behind. But I like that once you eat real food—there’s a lot of grey areas with paleo. Do potatoes count? We can’t eat beans. But it’s more, yes, eat all these real foods, but then also listening into your body and seeing what works for you, which is what I really like about it.

Zephan: Yeah, and it’s like a very—it’s just a natural and holistic approach to things. It kind of makes sense. Why are you going to put ingredients into your body that might not react so well? And so you kind of pay attention to what works and what doesn’t and you cut out the things that don’t work. And I think they probably provide a pretty solid guideline of what would should or should eat just in general. They’re not going out and saying Go out and buy some fried up chicken tenders from the restaurant down the street, but they’re not saying you have to eat cardboard. It actually is very tasty stuff.

Allison: Yeah, a lot of times, people are afraid. They said “What can I eat? It’s just protein and veggies.” I’m like “Protein and veggies!” There’s so many options. There’s so many vegetables out there, there’s so much you can do with it. It’s just focusing more on what you can eat. It’s funny. So I have two other sisters—there’s three of us in my family—and we’re all gluten free, and we recently convinced my mom to go gluten free, and she learned the trick. She said “I can’t focus on what I can’t have. I focus on what I can have,” and I think that’s what’s important. Looking at all these options that you do have verses focusing on that one thing that you can’t have.

Zephan: Right, absolutely. And that’s kind of like the law of attraction there. Even in business and in life, if I focus on the fact that I need more clients or customers, I’m not exactly going to get that. So I’m going to focus on being grateful for what I do have, and that really does play out in the rest of your life.

So, tell me a little bit about the gluten free side of things, because that was something for me, too, that I explored to see how my body reacts. And it reacts much differently. And I’m sure we’re going to upset a couple people here who love their pizza and who love their sandwiches, but there are ways around that. So maybe let us know what is it about gluten that can make a problem for people, and how can we get around it so we can still have our cake and eat it too?

Allison: So in a lot of people, gluten causes inflammation, it can lead to a leaky gut, and start manifesting in a lot of different ways, whether that’s being bloated after a meal or acne or stomach aches or just being really tired. So there’s a lot of different ways that you can feel the reactions of it, but really the only way to know if you are reacting is to take it out of the diet and see how you feel. And that’s exactly what I did about four years ago, and realized that gluten was making me pretty sick. And I didn’t notice it at the time—for me, it was mainly an immune thing—my immune system was really weak. And as soon as I took gluten out of my diet, noticed a big difference in my immune system. I used to get sick three or four times a year. Just colds; I thought that was normal, didn’t think much of it. But as soon as I took that out, I haven’t been sick in four years.

Zephan: That’s pretty solid! I mean, I probably get sick maybe once a year at most, so I’ve definitely seen a very similar reaction. And I also—gluten, for some reason, would always mess with my stomach.

Allison: Yeah, I used to get that too. Well, I still do. In a restaurant, I can tell that they served gluten to me, because my stomach, by the end of the meal—some people say gluten sensitivity doesn’t exist. I don’t think that I’m celiac, but there’s sort of a spectrum. And I was like “Well, I’m pretty sure…” With gluten, there’s something that happens. By the end of the day, I look like I’m pregnant, and that’s not normal. So when you’re stomach blows up to that size….

Zephan: Yeah. You can call it what you want, I’m calling it “not normal.”

Allison: Calling it “I’m just not gonna eat that. My body doesn’t like it.”

Zephan: Very coo. So—oh, and real quick, how can we substitute—what can we do? Because if you’re telling me I’ve got to get rid of my pizza, I’ve got to get rid of my things that have breaded coating on it like chicken tenders or anything like that, what can I do to get around that?

Allison: There’s a lot of different things. They do have gluten free pizza crust, although a lot of the recipes I think of, I like to do just chicken with vegetables or baked sweet potatoes fries and things like that, so it’s not this weird reincarnation of something that used to contain gluten. But on chicken tenders, I’ll do nut crusts. I actually prefer nut crusts, because they’ve got more of a crunch than a breading does. So I think nut crusts are really nice.

And there’s almond flours, coconut flours, so if you want to do baking—the thing I like about it is there’s gluten free baked goods out there, but you’re not bombarded with it. With other baked goods, there’s an opportunity to have a cookie or cupcake, and those things are fine, but I don’t need one every day. Once a week, maybe. A few times a month or something. But there are ways to still have your brownies and pizzas and breads. A lot of restaurants have gluten free breads, so that’s nice if you want to have a sandwich every now and then. Now if you’re paleo, some of that stuff isn’t paleo.

Zephan: Well, I think it goes without saying that it’s kind of a—it’s a careful balance. It’s not “Hey, you’ve got to follow this no matter what to a T,” it’s more of “Figure out what works best for you, find out the changes that happen in your body. And if you want more of the good changes, keep going with it.”

Allison: Yeah, I agree. And that kind of comes back to what I said in the beginning with what I like about paleo. It’s listening to your body and seeing what your body tolerates and how you feel after you eat food and making your decisions based on that.

Zehpan: So, I always love taking a step back with the entrepreneurs that I talk to and finding out how they started their businesses, how they got into it. Because my big promise to myself so the podcast was “I’m going to live my best year yet.” So every person I’ve interviewed, whether they’re a business owner or not, we talk about the changes that they’re making in the world, what they wanted to do, and how they discovered their calling in a sense and where they wanted to go with that. So I’m just curious to hear, maybe, if we like step back in time a little bit, where were you before Prep Dish and how did that idea come about?

Allison: Wow, so I’m gonna have to go back kind of far. But in terms of being an entrepreneur, when I was little, I kind of always had that in me. Like selling friendship bracelets when I was like six or just always kind of doing things like that, trying to sell my dad cookies to take to his board meetings and basically had this catering business in high school, and my Home Ec teacher got me a job cooking for a business in high school. Just a local—they were about ten guys. In the summers, I would cook lunch for them every day. So I’d show up at their house, I’d cook lunch for them every day, and loved it. So I was basically a private chef.

And that inspired me to go to culinary school, and I got a Masters in Nutrition. I wasn’t sure what I was gonna do with that. Kinda ended up with this real world desk job. But I missed cooking, and I decided to move to Austin and started a personal chef company. Well, that personal chef company was very similar to what I was doing in high school, I just had a little more credibility than I did when I started in high school. So the idea for the personal chef company really started in high school, bemuse I fell in love with doing that and always enjoyed working for myself.

Now, the meal plans, the way I got those ideas—from the personal chef company. So with the personal chef company—I still have that, that still exists. I have another chef that does the cooking. So I run that but I don’t do the cooking anymore. I did for the first, about, five years. And with that, the way the service works, we will visit homes once a week and prep all the food for the week. As I was doing that and maxing out at like five to seven clients, I realized there was a way I could reach much more people. I’m only reach five or seven people, how can I get this out to the masses, and that’s where this idea of Prep Dish came out. Here’s this guide. It’s a grocery list, instructions for prepping everything ahead of time, I can give this to anyone. And so that’s where the idea of Prep Dish was born. I could use this system that I created for my personal chef clients and get it out to the masses.

Zephan: So a lot of it is kind of taking an existing idea and just kind of building on top of that. “How can we make this better? How can we improve it?” and finding your target audience that could really use that. I mean, for me, I’m constantly looking for recipes. I cook usually once a week. Sunday night is my big cooking night—

Allison: Yeah, that’s what we recommend.

Zephan: Yeah! I cook all my food for the rest of the week. It’s usually a two or three hour ordeal. I’ll run out to the store, I’ll have a list of exactly what I want to get. I’ll be back in half an hour, and I cook most of my stuff—sometimes I’ll do some really nice—like I just slow cooked a five pound pork shoulder for twenty hours in the crockpot. So that takes overnight, but it comes out really good. So I think that it’s a really great opportunity for people, not really giving excuses anymore for eating healthy.

Allison: Yeah. Yeah. That’s exactly—that’s what I say. It’s gonna take some time. You’re gonna get real food, you’re gonna have to invest something. But two to three hours on Sunday is actually less time than you would spend if you’re scrambling every night at five o’clock. Because if you’re scrambling every night, that can take a lot of time.

Zephan: That and balancing it out with if you didn’t cook, and then through the week you’re trying to figure out stuff. You go out for lunch three or four days out of the week and you save your leftovers for dinner or for breakfast the next morning, and it’s like you’ve already spent two or three times as much as you would have in the store, and you also haven’t eaten nearly as well as you would have if it was all prepared.

Allison: Yeah, and as an entrepreneur, I would say it’s brain power. You have so much energy that you can put into thinking about things. And that’s what our customers say a lot too. “I don’t have to think anymore,” because here’s a grocery lsit, I tell them what to do, they get home, and dinner’s ready because they’ve already prepped it on Sunday. And the fact that you don’t have to think at five o’clock, that’s the saving grace right there. Because at five o’clock, your brain’s kind of done.

Zephan: Yeah, absolutely. I have to share a funny story with you, because I almost went to culinary school. And for the dumbest reason, I didn’t, and went to film school instead. I was very interested in cooking in high school. My mom would always work later hours, so she would buy whatever food I asked her for and I would cook it and have dinner ready for her by the time she got home. And so I always loved cooking, and we started to look at the Culinary Institute of America, which is based right down here in Baltimore and we went for a tour. And it was great! You should up and they let you eat everything under the sun that they cook. So they get you super stuffed on food, pastries, whatever it is you can find, and then they take you on the tour.

So I was thinking “This is a pretty sweet deal. I get to eat all this food all the time.” And then we walk into one of the classrooms just to watch a demo cooking class or something, and they’ve all got on the white hats and the white coasts and everything. And my first question to the guy leading the tour was “Are we required to wear those hats and those white coats?” and he said “Yes, to every single class,” and I turned to my mom and said “We can leave.” [Allison laughs.] Because I didn’t want a uniform! And it the silliest reason. But I still love cooking, I do it all the time. Every week, I’m always trying something new and different, but that is the reason why instead of going to culinary school, I went to film school.

Allison: I did have to wear the uniform all day every day. I can’t say I loved it, but—and with the personal chef company, where I cooked for clients, I felt very strongly about having a professional look. So I stuck with it. I didn’t wear the crazy chef pants, I wore a basic black yoga pant, but—yeah. I don’t miss those outfits.

Zephan: So tell me a little bit about—did you ever have any obstacles in making this a reality or getting this off the ground? Because, a lot of people, when they first start their business, they don’t even know how to run a business. They know nothing about what’s involved. So, maybe, were there any struggles you had in the process of getting it up and running?

Allison: Uh, yeah. Yes. That’s the short answer. Luckily, for me, this was—I had experience running a business, although this was online. The personal chef company didn’t really require overhead, was pretty straight forward. I showed up at people’s houses, cooked for them, they paid me. It was a little more straight forward. The online part, it just—it’s been a big learning curve, figuring out how to run people’s credit cards, how to build the site. Had a little help along the way too. Had a designer that designed the plans and a web guy that helped build the site. So it’s figuring out where you can do things yourself, and where you need to find someone else. But, yeah, just the whole—every day’s a learning curve. There are still things that I’m like “Oh…” and I have to go back and research it and figure it out. But that’s the fun of it, I think.

Zephan: Yeah, I think so too. That was something where, when I first started, it was like “Alright, I am a business owner now…what do I do? Well, I need some legal stuff, I think, because I don’t want to get in trouble that way.” So I started there and figured out the whole accounting thing. And then it came down to “How do you find clients?” Because that—for some people, that’s easy. For certain types of products, the clients just show up because it’s something the world really needs. But for other things, it’s tough because you have to market and you have to be the face of the brand. So how has that worked out for you? What have you done marketing wise to bring people in and just to get the word out?

Allison: I have done a lot of things. It’s kind of doing a lot and then tracking everything, knowing your numbers, and then figuring out what’s working. And I worked with a coach, so that’s helpful. I have a coach that helps sorta with the marketing and finding clients part of the business, because obviously, that’s the most important part until you have a thousand subscribers or customers. But, yeah, so it’s getting the word out any way I can, but it’s also tracking every single thing I do, so I have numbers to show what works instead of doing a bunch of things. “Oh, it felt like that thing worked.” Really having numbers and that’s, I think, the most important thing. Knowing my numbers and tracking everything so, at the end of the day, you’d know where to continue to invest your money and where you can pull back.

Zephan: Right. Very nice. And that’s what I’ve done too. I’ve sent out mail links, I’ve done newsletters, I’ve tried podcasting, and tons of things. For me, referrals have been a huge deal. The people that really like what you do kind of become a cheerleader and talk about it to everybody. If I were given a really good recipe from you, I would probably start to tell people, because I love good food. Food is kind of a food group of my life, in a sense. Food is a very big part of it.

Allison: Yeah, and we definitely get that. The subscribers, once they catch on, they’re shouting it form the rooftops. And I have some friends, they’re really cute, here in Austin that use it and they’ll get on and they’re always promoting it. “Do you know how many people—we talk about it all the time!” So it’s really fun to see. You don’t ask for it, it kind of just happens.

Zephan: Yeah, definitely. I feel like that would be a good thing to put on Instagram, like so many people taking pictures of their meals and tagging you.

Allison: Yeah, they’ll take pictures of their meals. Yeah, that’s good, I always like to see those. And it’s good for me too. It helps me feel good about what I’m doing and keeps me going.

Zephan: It’s solid feedback. So what has starting this business done for you in the rest of your life? Have you been able to travel more? Have you really opened up and seen a lot more freedom in what you can do with your day?

Allison: For sure. Because back when I was doing the personal chef company and cooking every day, I felt like I had freedom and flexibility because I did—I was in control and when I started and where I went. But, at the end of the day, I had to be here to cook in person for people every week. And now that I have another person that odes the onsite part of that, I can work from anywhere. And so that’s been really nice. I’d recently gotten married and we did a honeymoon, and did a pretty long honeymoon. So that was nice, to be able to take a break. And he’s an entrepreneur, so I feel like we’ve both been working for quite a few years. We finally decided that we needed a bit of a break, so that was nice to be able to take that.

And we have. We can really travel and work from anywhere. Say sometimes I’ll work all day Saturday, but that’s because I want a Thursday afternoon off, so that’s nice to have that flexibility.

Zephan: Very nice. And that’s something, too, that I’ve found has been extremely helpful. I planned—I think, next week, on Friday, going up to Philadelphia for the day to work out of a coffee shop, because it’s only an hour and a half drive and it’s just a change of scenery from my bedroom. So you definitely gain a lot of freedom in doing that. And, on top of that, if it’s something that you really love doing, then that’s huge.

Allison: Yeah. I like being able to really tap into those times that I know I can focus more. It’s like “Okay. It’s three o’clock, my brain’s not working. I’m gonna take a break and go for a walk.” Then when I do get those times of energy and focus, I can really tap into that. So that’s nice to be able to be in control of that.

Zephan: Yeah, and I was gonna ask you. I’m sure the food has a huge impact on that. You don’t feel sluggish throughout the day, you can kind of pop out of bed, have a great breakfast and start the day off right, now.

Allison: Yeah, I agree.

Zephan: Very cool. Well, so you that this one-week gluten free meal plan. What types of meals or dishes can we expect if we go and check that out?

Allison: So it’s the food I eat at home, they food I’ve been cooking for clients. It’s things like lettuce turkey wraps, those are really popular. I have lasagna on the menu this week. People really love the lasagna. It changes every week, so every week it’s a new plan.,

Zephan: Oh, very cool.

Allison: Yeah, so every week it’s a new plan. There’s usually a seafood dish, although I usually give a substitution idea for the seafood, because some people don’t do that. There’s like a salmon and—in the winters, I’ll do things like chilies and stews, and in the summer I’ll have some salads and burgers and some grilling items that’s more summer stuff. And right now, wear getting some more pears. Some of the fall stuff’s getting ready to come in. and we’re just coming off peach season. I really like peach season. There was a peach cobbler a few weeks ago that was really nice.

Zephan: I just had a huge back of white peaches in the fridge, and they’re so good. Something about this time of year where it starts to get a little bit cooler outside and people are pumpkin picking and stuff like that.

Allison: Oh, yeah, we’re coming into all the squashes. So that will be good.

Zephan: That’s gonna be really cool. I’ve actually—I think I made a lasagna with…I think I substituted squash as the layers of the lasagna.

Allison: Yeah. I usually do zucchini—thinly sliced zucchini or thinly sliced eggplant works really well too. So I’ll do that instead of the noodles.

Zephan: Yeah, so everyone sitting here thinking “How did she make a peach pie…” How do you make that without gluten? There’s really cool ways around that that actually taste just as good, if not better. So not to like totally try to jump on the gluten free train, but seriously guys. There’s some amazing recipes to try out here.

Allison: Yeah. The peach cobbler, I took that to a dinner party a week ago and no one knows. No one cares. It’s—and actually, I do almonds and dates and butter. You can also do coconut oil. We always have the option for dairy free, because I know some people can’t tolerate dairy. So you can do coconut oil or butter. The butter’s really tasty. But you do that all in a food processer and the dates actually sweeten it. It sounds kind of strange, like you said, but when you try it, no one ever knows and everyone loves it.

Zephan: And I feel, half the time, thy probably don’t even notice that it’s missing a couple ingredients.

Allison: Yeah, if you don’t shout it’s gluten free, no one really notices.

Zephan: So, speaking of coconut oil, because that’s a huge thing for me. I actually used to be an all olive oil type guy and now, a lot of the times, I’ll use coconut oil instead. Have you ever tried Bulletproof Coffee?

Allison: So I don’t drink coffee. My husband does and he’ll make it here. We also have picnic here so we can go there. But he makes bullet proof and he’s tried—he’s played around with making me bullet proof tea because I do drink tea. Coffee just makes me—I don’t know. My body doesn’t love it. It’s too much caffeine for me. But he does do the bullet proof coffee. And I’ve had a few tastes, it tastes good. The tea works, it’s not like “Oh my god, this is so good,” like the coffee is. I’ve had a few tastes and it tastes pretty good.

Zephan: I think it’s probably because coffee’s more bitter, so you add—and for everyone listening in, essentially, it’s a cup of coffee, a tablespoon of grass-fed butter, a table spoon of coconut oil, blend it up. I think it’s probably because the coffee’s much more bitter and tea tends to be on the sweeter, fruitier side. And so to add something so salty into that, I don’t know if I mixes well. The coconut oil definitely would add some sort of a sweet taste to it, but I feel like you’d have to find some sort of a substitute for sugar or the sweetener.

Allison: Like honey or something.  Yeah, he adds cocoa powder to his too, and some cinnamon. So it’s really tasty. I don’t know if that’s part of the recipe, but that’s what he adds.

Zephan: I feel like that could be a whole website in itself of like teaching people custom made paleo coffee recipes.

Allison: I’ll leave that to him.

Zephan: well, this has been great chatting with you. And I’m a huge fan of both paleo and gluten free. I’ll be the first to say that every now and then I do have my cheap meals because I do love cookies, but you can make really good gluten free cookies. So, just for everyone listening, just to shout it out there, you should totally try this out.

So what’s the website where people can get this free, one-week meal plan? Is it just prepdish.com?

Allison: Yeah. We set up a special page too. It’s prepdish.com/—I actually used your first name, Zephan. Z-E-P-H-A-N, that’s what we used. But if they go there, they can get the free trial week.

Zephan: Very cool. So, everybody, go ahead and check that out. And, Allison, what’s the best way for everyone to keep track of you? Are you active on social media? Is there anything cool that we should look out for in the near future?

Allison: Yeah, I’m on social media. I’m on Instagram at prepdish—Twitter, Facebook, all the social media sites. And I do spot food pictures on Instagram and all that. Trying to think, things coming up, I don’t know. We’re right in the middle of back to school stuff, so we’re doing a lot of fun back to school handouts. Right now, we’re doing a school lunch meal. Sometimes I’ll give that out to newsletter subscribers, and we have a crockpot one. We have one crockpot one that’s already done and I’m working on doing another crockpot hand out. People seem to love those. So various little freebies that I give out.

Zephan: Crockpots are super easy. I love that you literally just take all the ingredients and you just chuck it in there, you turn it on, and you don’t touch it for however long.

Allison: I did ones where you prep them ahead and stick them in the freezer, so you have like five crockpot meals that are in the freezer and you just pull them out and pop them in.

Zephan: Oh, and I forgot to mention to you, one of my first jobs I ever worked was a place called Let’s Dish. And what they did is they do some where they have this pre-prepared—almost like a salad bar—with the measuring scoops and you would take giant freezer bags and scoop out however much you needed of each item, and you would make these meals that could feed a family. And so that was on of my first jobs.

Allison: I’ve heard of those. That taught you the process—or the importance of planning ahead and prepping ahead, I guess.

Zephan: Oh, yeah. And one of the benefits of working there is we would cook meals for ourselves when we were on the clock. So we could mix and match. So if there was like one thing for a certain type of pizza, but we could steal chicken from this other recipe. So that’s where I kind of learned to mix and match and try new stuff.

Allison: Nice.

Zephan: Well, everyone, check out prepdish.com. Allison, it’s been great talking to you today, and I hope you enjoy the rest of your day!

One Year Later…

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A lot can happen in a year…

In the following five episode series, I’m going to share with you my adventures, why I started the Year Of Purpose Podcast and some of the amazing things that have happened along the way.

Check out each episode here (they’re short this time):

Essentially the one big lesson that I learned was this:

Instead of making New Years resolutions and goals that fail two weeks into the year, try making the year your goal. By saying that my one goal is just to make this year my best year yet, I’ve discovered that you are more likely to accomplish all the tiny pieces that come together to make that happen.

It’s like a promise to yourself and it isn’t this constant concern of “I need to lose weight,” or, “I need to make more money” but rather a promise that everything you do, you will complete it with intention and meaning.

Make sense?

So with that being said, I’m proud to announce that I have written a book! The book is called Life Re-Scripted: Find Your Purpose and Design Your Dream Life Before The Curtains Close.

I wrote this book for you guys and I’m giving away a digital copy when it launches. All you have to do is head on over to the following page and sign up to receive your free copy: Click Here to be notified when Life Re-Scripted goes live!

YOP054: Dave Rogenmoser – Beyond The Grind

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Bio: Dave Rogenmoser is a digital marketing expert with a passion for helping businesses see real, tangible growth at www.themarketresults.com. He is the Co-Founder of two online businesses, and is the author of Amazon Best-Selling Book, Beyond The Grind: How to Do Work That Matters, Travel the World For Free, and Escape the Daily Grind Before It’s Too Late…

Transcript

Zephan: This episode of the Year of Purpose is brought to you by our brand new book: Life Rescripted: Find Your Purpose and Design Your Dream Life Before the Curtains Close. If you want to be the first in line to receive a free digital copy from me, all you have to do is head on over to www.liferescriptedbook.com to find out more.

Zephan: Zephan Blaxberg here with another round of the Year of Purpose podcast, and today I am joined by my buddy Dave. And Dave actually reached out to me after, I think we met each other through like a Facebook podcast group and we found out that we live relatively close to each other, and he’s created a book called Beyond the Grind: How to do Work That Matters, Travel the World for Free and Escape the Daily Grind Before It’s Too Late. This is something that really resonated with me, because a lot of things that he did here are also things that I do.

And so, today, we’re gonna kinda share with you guys how that all plays out. Maybe he’ll teach me some of the new tricks. And in the book, he talked about things like earning two hundred and nine thousand free airline and hotel miles in forty-five days or less, developing your network to catapult you into hundreds of new opportunities, how to raise thousands of dollars and fund the dream that you have with Kickstarter and unlock a deeper purpose.

So, Dave, how’s it going today?

Dave: It’s going well, man. I’m excited to be here.

Zephan: Yeah, man. So I’m gonna apologize in advance, because the funny thing about recording podcasts is I always do it at home, because my roommates are gone and I can make sure it’s a quiet environment. But this guy with his lawnmower always comes out without fail the second I hit record. It’s kind of like he has a little—

Dave: Waiting for it, up.

Zephan: Yeah, it’s like he’s got a light in his living room, and when I hit record, that light goes on. So, hopefully, it won’t be too loud, but just letting you know now. So you quit your job about a year and a half ago, were in a relatively similar boat. I quit two years ago—a little over two years ago—and I think hat this is something that we’re seeing a lot more often, especially in our age range. So I guess I gotta ask first, why do you think this is happening much more frequently now verses our parents who would hold a job for thirty or forty years?

Dave: Yeah… That’s a good question. I know—I think it comes down to the ability to get resources and the ability to connect with people who are doing similar things in kind of an entrepreneurial—or listening to your podcast. I think access to that information definitely—I know it gets me fired up, and once I started to kind of get around those people, now leaving my job and doing something I was really excited about was—it wasn’t totally ridiculous. It was almost kind of becoming the norm, because the people I was surrounding myself with and the things I was listening too, that’s what they were doing. So I think as people get around more information like that and start to talk to people who are doing that more and more regularly, it just kinda becomes something— “Okay, this isn’t weird. This is what I should be doing.” And then it’s possible.

So I know, for me, that’s kind of how it was. I just got around so many people that now it wasn’t—it would have been weirder for me to stay than to leave, and it just kind of took time, I think.

Zephan: I think that makes sense.  I think it comes down to realizing what’s possible and it’s kind of like how nobody was going into space until we landed a guy on the moon, and then all of a sudden, there’s this huge space race and everybody’s going out there. So you don’t really know what’s possible until you see someone else do it, unless you are the guy who is the dreamer, who’s trying to come up with this crazy stuff that no one’s done before. Which is tough. It’s very hard to like sit there and say “Hm…what has no one ever done before?” because so many thoughts have already been thought up, and so many things have already been created. It’s kind of like music. I don’t even know how they make different sounding music anymore because so many songs have just been created.

Dave: Yeah. I actually just finished Elon Musk’s biography yesterday, and it’s why I’m all fired up about trying to created new things. That guy does it better than anybody else in the world right now, and it’s so exciting just to be hearing the life of somebody who takes something that hasn’t been done before and just puts it out into the world.

Zephan: So where were you, what were you doing for work, and what ultimately was the deciding factor in “Alright, it’s time for a change”?

Dave: Yeah, so, it was—I guess a year and a half ago, I was working at the University of Missouri, originally from Kansas, and was working there with college students. And I’ve always kind of been the entrepreneurial guy—I was thinking about that today. Almost none of my entrepreneurial ventures as a kid worked. So I’m not saying I’m a great entrepreneur, I just always liked trying it. And it was after—basically, I was starting to read the book Think and Grow Rich, which a lot of people have read. I just kind of picked it up and was like “Okay I’ll go through this thing.” I wasn’t really planning on becoming and entrepreneur, I wasn’t really thinking about that at the time.

And it said, basically, think about what you want in life and then write it out on a note card. And he has this daily routine that he recommends. Each night and each morning when you wake up, read this note card—what you want—read it out loud, visualizes it, and all of that. And so I wrote out “By the age of thirty, be financially free by starting multiple profitable business and creating passive income.” And then I signed it, dated it, and I kept that thing next to my bed, kept it in my wallet, and I’d read it before I went to bed and I’d read it when I woke up.

And I didn’t really know how that was gonna happen. I didn’t really have plans in place. I just knew “Okay, that’s what I want. I’ll just read this thing over and over and we’ll see what happens.” And it was like…a few months after that, I ran into a guy at a wedding who I met once or twice before, ended up sitting at the same table, and I asked him what he was up to. And he said “Well, actually, I’m trying to start a software company right now through this group called The Foundation, and I’m learning how to go start a business.” And I like talking about businesses as much as the next guy, but I think if I hadn’t really tangibly put out was a goal was and written it down, I probably would have just breezed through that conversation. “Oh, that’s cool, man. Here’s what I’m doing.” Because I’d written that down, he said that and it totally caught my attention. “Wait, maybe this is the path to reaching that goal I have on this notecard.”

So we started chatting, and he shared a lot of ideas. First time I ever heard of the Foundation, first time I’d ever—I didn’t know anything about the online entrepreneurial community. And, long story short, I kind of hopped into a parallel business as him, kinda created a software company out of that, and that was kind of my first jump into it. But I really attribute it back to actually writing down my goal and thinking about it. Because I don’t think that that created that conversation. I think that would have happened either way, but it kind of piqued my interest and raised up my antenna to looking for opportunities to reach my goal. So it was totally cool, totally unexpected. Now I live with the guy, he’s my business partner. He’s here in Indianapolis as well. We both moved out here together. So pretty cool how all that works out.

Zephan: That’s awesome. And so at some point in time, when you left your job, was this—because I know you started travel hacking and this type of stuff. Did that happen after you left the job?

Dave: Yes. That happened right after I left the job. So last summer, I started doing travel hacking and—basically I wanted to travel. It was kind of the first time I could, because before I was working full time so I had a few months. The business wasn’t up and running and I was killing some time, so I was like “Man, I need to go travel,” but I didn’t have a lot of money. So just started reading all these blogs about how you could get free airline miles and started applying for credit cards, and basically got like two hundred and ten thousand/two hundred and twelve thousand points in like one month, just from applying for four or five different cards.

Took a sweet trip through Peru. Since then, I’ve been able to go on some cool trips over southeast Asia and down in South Africa and all that, basically all for free. And it’s pretty sweet. It’s kind of addicting, and it pays off for sure.

Zephan: It’s cool to hear you say that, because right around the same time, I started doing the same thing. Last summer, in august, I made a decision that kind of domino effect into the podcast idea and where this all started from. But almost exactly a year ago from when we’re recording this right now, I made a decision and I knew I had to go to California. I didn’t know why, it sounded kind of irrational, but I just knew I had to go, and that actually turned into—it ballooned into this whole month-long trip of leaving Baltimore for Denver, Colorado, Denver to San Francisco, San Francisco to LA, LA to Dallas, and Dallas back home over the course of a whole month. In order to do that, I obviously couldn’t spend three thousand dollars on flights, because I didn’t have that kind of money, and I was looking for the same thing. Some sort of alternative or way to do that.

And I had met a guy maybe two or three years ago at a family barbeque or something and he was talking about credit cards and how he does this. And I was like “Alright, guess it’s time to figure that out.” And so here I am about a year later, I’ve flown somewhere in the neighborhood of about twenty flights all for free around the country. I haven’t done international yet, but that’s the next step. Next year, I think it’ll be all international travel. But about twenty free flights of travel to twenty-five different states in the last twelve months. So I’ve seen a little over half the United States. And so a lot of it comes down to these things, credit cards—

Dave: Ah, there they are.

Zephan: And, so—and SkyMiles, of course. So maybe explain a little bit about how this works, why it’s not illegal, and why they aren’t going to get the FBI knocking on their door when they start doing this.

Dave: Yeah, totally. So I think—that’s probably the chapter in the book that gets the most comments, people reaching out to me wanting to learn about that, and I kinda knew it would be. It’s a cool chapter, it’s exciting. I think I realized, with travel hacking, that if somebody does not want to do it, there’s no way I’m gonna convince anyone to do it. So just disclaimer for anybody listening to this, if you don’t want to do it, I’m not pressuring anybody into it, but a lot of people have reached out and been super excited about it.

And, basically, how I kind of explain it, I kind of lump it into two different categories. And so, overall, travel hacking is just basically using credit cards and the huge signing bonuses they give you for signing up for them and kind of accumulating those points and using the new credit card to fuel new purchases with flights. And so, what I tell people a lot of times, if you really want to get into it, really the easiest way is just figure out how much you spend in a certain month that you can spend on credit cards, and these—Southwest will give you fifty thousand bonus points if you sign up for their credit card and you spend two thousand dollars in the first three months.

And so, figure out, do you spend two thousand dollars in three months on a credit card? If you do, get on Southwest, apply for that credit card, pick it up, and just use it for your normal spending and you’ll get fifty thousand points, which is like—for me, a couple different places I like to travel a lot, that’s five free roundtrip flights by just doing nothing. By using a different card in my wallet and pulling it out at the grocery store when I’m doing groceries.

That’s deficiently the easiest way. And, again, it’s not illegal. It’s perfectly normal. The credit card companies really want you to be using their cards, and so they’re definitely willing to hook you up for switching over to them.

And then people always ask me “Does it hurt your credit to do that?” and it definitely doesn’t hurt your credit, it actually helps your credit in the long run. We won’t get into the ins and outs of how the calculate your credit score, but basically, the more credit cards you have, the more a bank looks at you and goes “Oh, lots of people trust him. He has lots of available credit. His credit score is pretty good.” It’s actually helped me over time, multiple credit cards, so it’s pretty—that’s definitely the easiest way. Just pick up a credit card every few months and use it for normal purchases.

Zephan: And one app that I use—because I do keep track of the credit score—is Credit Karma. It’s free, it’s an iPhone app. I’m sure it’d on Android too. But Credit Karma is really easy and just in the last year of doing this, because I started applying to—I’ve probably got about twelve/fifteen cards here now—in the last year, my credit score went from about seven hundred to eight ten. So it has not hurt me whatsoever yet.

A couple questions that might come up for people: Annual fees. There’s definitely ways around that. People say you should cancel the cards or downgrade the cards eleven months in so that way you don’t hit those fees. For me, personally, especially on the Southwest from, I love the Southwest card, so I pay the sixty-nine dollars a year, because I use it for all my business stuff. So I’m gonna rack up the points anyway. And they will tell you fifty thousand points will get you only two round trip flights. They’re wrong. I’ve found flights from like Baltimore to Costa Rica for twelve thousand points each way. Smaller flights from Baltimore to New York or Philly are definitely much cheaper. So as long as you can kind of plan in advance and be flexible with that, it definitely can be utilized in a very cool way.

I don’t know, is there any worried that you had going into it? Anything that anyone’s asked you? Obviously, “Does it hurt your credit score” is the big one. It’s totally not illegal, which is great. I don’t know if anything else has come up for you with that one.

Dave: I think—this kind of rolls into what I call the second level of travel hacking. A lot of people say “Hey, I really want to get this card, but I got to spend three thousand dollars in the first three months and I don’t really spend that. Is it still possible for me?” That’s one question I get a lot. And what I always tell people is there’s ways to—what’s called manufactured spending. There’s ways to create spending that can cover any amount of cards that you need to spend. So, me now, after I’ve learned some basics of how to do that, I could spend ten thousand dollars in a month—even though I don’t spend anywhere near that—spend ten thousand dollars in a month on credit cards and basically pay off the credit cards using that. So it’s not really a problem once you learn the ins and outs of how to do a little bit of manufactured spending.

And, honestly, you could go really in depth with this stuff. And people online that are just like on flyertalk.com that just live for this stuff. I keep it really basic. I just do this stuff like one hour a month, and that pretty much gets me free flights all the time.

Zephan: Yeah, so it really just depends on how far you want to go with it. Definitely, of course, the book is on Amazon, Beyond the Grind, and I know that you got some good information in there about that. Manufactured spending is something I’ve done; I’ve had a good experience with. It’s constantly changing, so for everyone asking “How do you do it?” the problem is if we tell you right now, chances are it’s gonna change within the next three to six months.

Sorry, the lawnmower’s going out there.  I don’t know if you guys can hear that.

But, yeah, so it is something that’s constantly changing, but I would say the best way to research is definitely flyer talk forums. Google it, there’s a lot of good resources on the popular website Reddit.com—that’s R-E-D-D-I-T dot-com—and I think this is becoming the norm for people like you and me who are leaving the fulltime world to develop our own businesses. Because it seems like there’s all these good loopholes out there that we can take advantage of to live life the way that we want to, and it’s just a matter of are you willing to put in the hour a month it takes to just keep track of this stuff and to make it happen.

And you can go as deep as you want. I know people that are living in Thailand for three to six months at a time and I know people like you and I who we’re living here in the US on the east coast and we’ve got our businesses that we run most of the time. And outside of that, we’ve still got our travels and our fun stuff.

Dave: Yeah, totally. I just kinda like that stuff, so I’m just a hacker in that sense. I’m always looking for the newest little thing to do, and I just kind of think it’s fun. But not only that, it’s opened up so many cool opportunities for me. I get to go see my friends all over the country. I’ve meet some really great people all over the world now, just through taking these free flights. I actually was in Cape Town in January, I got to stay with this family and met a bunch of people there, and one of the girls I met is actually coming up to DC—coming up for work and she Facebook messaged me last night saying she’s gonna be here tomorrow, so I’m gonna go get to see her and catch up.

So it’s forming this kind of incredible community around the world of people I’m getting to know, and it’s not really costing me much to do. So it’s definitely opened up a lot of possibilities for me.

Zephan: Yeah, absolutely. And from Airbnb to couch surfing, you’re gonna meet so many other people that are doing it too. So that’s the fun part about it. It’s not even like you’re doing it alone, even though it sounds like you’re traveling the world on your own. You find people everywhere who are doing the same exact thing.

So let’s talk about kind of like the opposite. What about the people who don’t like travel? Because obviously, it’s not for everyone. How do you still kinda live out your dreams and figure out what it is you want to do and perhaps even raise money to allow you to do that? Because many people in our case aren’t sitting here on top of six figures where we can just spend it frivolously on anything that we want to. So what can you do if you’re looking to kinda fundraise and start your dream, or even just how do you figure out what the dream is?

Dave: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I think those are super important questions I don’t think people are asking enough. I think people are maybe afraid to recognize or really think about what their dream is, because they think it’s not really possible and it’ll make them feel bad if they can’t go for it.  I think it’s also important for people to know there’s so many different opportunities now and channels or avenues to create your dream.

So I was riding on a plane, probably one of these free flights, and listening to this podcast and one of the guys—it was the Ty Lopez Show, I think is what it was. And it was talking about “What’s your business destiny?” And really, the big question was “What’s your purpose? What are you really fired up to do?” and this is probably eight or nine months ago. And I just thought about that a lot. I pulled up my phone and started writing down—really what I get fired up about doing is to equip aspiring entrepreneurs to do meaningful work and live fulfilling lives. And I wrote that down, and I got it on a notecard now—I’m kinda big on the notecard thing—and, really, I think, know that, for me, has been a huge game changer and that’s channeled everything that I do.

So I think it really is important that people sit down and they really think “Okay, what’s a purpose statement. What really gets me excited? If I could do anything, what would I do?” and then I think the next step is realizing you can do anything, and realizing there are channels to do that.

So for me, I wanted to write a book. I wanted to write Beyond the Grind. I actually—I co-authored it with that guy that I met at the table at the wedding. And so we didn’t have any money to do it, we were just these failing entrepreneurs. We wanted to get it out there but we couldn’t take on the risk of publishing it all, but we wanted to do it anyway. And so, basically, we thought “Well, let’s check out this Kickstarter thing and maybe this will be a good channel for it.” And actually, have looking into Kickstarter, there was really no other projects we were talking about doing on there. People weren’t getting non-fiction self-help books funded on Kickstarter, it just wasn’t there. So at first, we were like, “Okay, this isn’t gonna be the right channel,” and then we were like “Well, you know what, let’s go for it.” And so kind of with all the channels of doing a Kickstarter, reached out to so friends and family, created some email lists and pubs and all this different stuff to get it launched.

And our first time we launched the Kickstarter, we were trying to raise eight thousand dollars, which was gonna kinda cover all of the different book publishing fees, and give us our first run of books and all of that. We fell short of that. So we ended up raising like forty-five hundred dollars from that, which is still amazing, that’s more than we even needed. So what we did—you don’t actually get any most if you don’t raise the full amount, and so we cancelled it, we messaged everyone who had signed up already and pledged and said “Hey, if we redo this thing, are you still in?” “We did reach the goal. If we redo, are you still in?”

And I think that was kind of a gut check moment. We just wanted to not admit failure and just say “Oh, yeah, we decided not to do it” or whatever. Cause it is kind of embarrassing that a lot of our friends saw us not reach our goal. We found that nobody cared about that. People wanted us to success, they wanted us to hit that goal, they wanted us to write this book. And everybody basically—so we restarted it, everybody signed on again. This time, we hit our goal. We set it at forty-five hundred dollars, and closed it pretty quick. And raised forty-five hundred bucks which pre-sold all these books, created a bunch of momentum, allowed us to go write this thing and get it edited, published, cover, the whole thing done. one of the kind of bucket list items that we had, basically for free on the front end. We knew it was already paid for, and then now it just sits on Amazon and sells copies each day from that.

But I think that was a powerful moment for me, realizing that even things I didn’t have money for, things I didn’t know how to do, were totally possible, and a lot of it comes down to who you have around you and whether they’re supportive of that. And I found most people usually are. And then there’s sweet things like Kickstarter that can allow you to fund cool things like that too.

Zephan: So that’s a pretty neat idea. So, right now, I’m working on my book, and I’m about a third of the way through. I’ve been writing it myself, eighteen thousand words in as of last night. Pretty happy about that.

Dave: That’s huge.

Zephan: It’s been expensive. I hired a coach for it. I’m in this program that’s about six or seven hundred dollars, it’s a big online video training thing and it’s been extremely helpful, but I mean, that’s six hundred down. And then I had to get a book cover made up relatively early because that kind of solidifies that it’s kind of a real thing. Another three hundred dollars. So I’m essentially almost a grand in, just on those two things. Then obviously, there’s going to be paying editors and proof readers and people to go through, format it, get it ready to go when it’s time to publish. So I guess I’m probably in the same boat, when it’s all said and done, of a couple thousand dollars.

So you found that—was this “I have to write to mom and dad and every aunt, uncle, and cousin and say ‘I need your support.’”? What this did you find random people through the site that were discovering this and really just wanted to support you? Was it kind of in between, a little bit of both?

Dave: Yeah, so, we expected—I can’t remember the exact ratio for Kickstarter. Typically, it’s like 60% of people who fund your project will be people you know and 40% will be people who come through the site, you don’t know. We found for this project—it was kind of a unique project; it was a little different than most of the things on Kickstarter. I’m pretty sure everyone that pledged was somebody that we knew. And so we just posted it on Facebook, posted on Twitter, just texted a bunch of people—just kind of reached out to everybody in our network. Which was fun.

Part of me was “Oh, I’m just hitting them up for money,” but I found that people were like fired up about this. People were like “Yes, twenty-five bucks, here you go, man.” Because I think people—people want to see their peers succeed. It kind of makes the impossible possible for them, so I think I was kind of doing it for all my network so they would see “Okay, writing a book is totally possible.” I have friends now that I talk to like “You wrote a book? If you wrote a book, I can write a book too!” So it’s like people are seeing—I think people want others to do well. There was people giving like four hundred and fifty bucks to this thing, just because they really wanted to see it happen. So that was pretty cool.

And that whole time, it was basically just building a lot of momentum for the time the book launched. and so, when the book launched, we had like—we gave our Kickstarter early access to it to read it an all that, and I think we have like sixty five-star reviews or something crazy like that in the first forty-eight hours, just from people that had read it. And we didn’t tell them to write sweet reviews, we just told them to go on there, leave an honest review, and everyone was just loving it. So it was pretty cool, all the pre work set us up for a great launch on Amazon and ended up getting us on some best seller lists. I think we were number on travel, which was pretty sweet, and number two in business.

So it was just a fun experience, overall, and I think it really tied us in with a lot of people in our lives that we hadn’t been connected to in the past, hadn’t talked to in a while, and now they’re following us and they’re up to date in our lives. So that’s pretty cool.

Zephan: That’s very cool. So it sounds like a really good way to create an audience out of nothing, and to find more people that wouldn’t have otherwise know what you were up to or would have learned from you.

Dave: Totally.

Zephan: So it sounds like a really cool option there. Now, so you’ve got the business, you’ve published a book, you’ve got the traveling down, you’ve seen parts of the world. Where—I’m careful in asking this question—where does the meaning and purpose come in for you? Because I think a lot of the reasons why we do this stuff is because we’re so dissatisfied with how our life was a couple years ago. So what is it right now that’s really lighting you up and how are you proceeding now that you’ve done so many amazing things? It’s kind of like you’ve set the bar up here, and it’s like What do you do when you’ve already reached this point? How do you—this is the ceiling of it. How do you go further and keep enjoying stuff and keep going?

Dave: Yeah. Yeah, yeah! I think when I look back at the last couple of years, it’s been a really hard journey, and I think it’s just tough breaking into something new. I think a lot of when I left my job and became an entrepreneur, I decided it was gonna be easy. I was like “oh, I read some books and I can be the entrepreneurial one of all my friends,” and all of that. I found out really quickly that I wasn’t the person yet that could start a business and there was a lot of how I viewed the world and how I viewed myself—just a lot of limitations I put on myself. So there was a lot of rewiring. And I didn’t really have—I wouldn’t even say now, I don’t really have kind coach or mentor in that that’s really helped me in that. It’s been a community and friends and different people on like as courses I’ve taken.

But I look back at that and I’m like “Man, I wish I had had more help in that, and I wish I had someone more come in and help me through that process.” And so, now, really what we focus on—I kinda got the two businesses now. There’s Market Results, which is a digital marketing consulting business. We work with small businesses and help them take care of their Facebook advertising and their AdWords management and their search engine optimization. That’s kind of the main business and how we got all into this.

But really, I think the reason we did that was because we wanted to start the 6K Success Program, which is, I think, what I get really fired up about. And that’s basically teaching others how to do the exact business that we started. So we kind go through, we document all the different aspects of market results and how do we find our clients, how do we—what are the proposals we send out, how to we take payment, how do we do all those things that’s creating this online profitable business for us. And then we kinda—we made a video course out of it and opened up this online program that’s a really awesome community of people who just want some help, and that gets me excited. And that was really birthed, I think, out of that notecard on the plane that one day where I said I want to equip aspiring entrepreneurs to do meaningful work and live fulfilling lives.

And so it’s more than—it’s definitely more than the money for me. And I think everyone would say that. Even if people think it’s about the money, I think people, deep down, they really realize they don’t care all that much about the money. It’s more about a life of purpose. And so when I’m helping these entrepreneurs, these people leave their jobs, they’re real people who have real dreams and they want to become entrepreneurs, not so much because they want to get rich—that’s something I’ve realized. Nobody I’m working with wanted to be the next Elon Musk or they don’t ant to be billionaires. They just want freedom with their life and they want to do things that get them excited every morning. And so we’ve loved doing that with 6K Success Course and just helping people make that leap and trying to give people the help that I wish I had had.

So that’s kinda what we’re moving into now. And, again, there’s so much work that going into that and so much we want to do with it moving forward here. We got a solid community now, it’s been a lot of fun.

Zephan: Yeah, so, I think a lot of people are probably gonna be interested right now in this 6K course, as well as your book. I think most of the people listening in would want to build that type of a business that allows for that freedom. I think that the book probably has a lot of good resources for them. So if you could, maybe share with them what’s the best way to find out about the book, and maybe also the 6K course as well.

Dave: Yeah, so, just hook you guys up. We’re gonna put up a landing page on our site. If you go to 6k—that’s the number 6—6ksuccess.com/yearofpurpose, we’re just gonna have a page up there that will give you guys the book for free. So no need to go buy it on Amazon. Head over there, we’ll give you guys a download that you can just download for free. And also, there’ll be some information for you have a catch some of the free trainings of 6K Success. Gonna be doing a training here coming up where I’m just gonna share my screen and show people exactly how I get new clients, and I’m consulting clients on LinkedIn. So if that interests them at all, they can sign up for that.

And then one other thing I was thinking about that we would do for you guys would be—we got this compilation for like forty thousand dollars of software discounts. And so if anybody’s been one to test out that new software, you wanted to become an entrepreneur and you need something but you just don’t have a lot of money, you want to trial it out for three to six months, we have a lot of those. We’ll give you guys free access to this software stack that we’ve put together. So I’ll throw that up there on 6ksucess.com/yearofpurpose and we’ll hoke you guys up with that.

Zephan: That’s awesome, man. Thank you, so much, for doing that. And I’m definitely look forward to—since we live so close—making my way down there and I think we’re definitely gonna have to hang out here in the near future.

Dave: Absolutely, man. That’d be great, because I need to get out on the water!

Zephan: Yeah, man. So thanks for sharing that with everybody. Totally excited to check out the book, and, for everybody listening, definitely check out the number six, letter K, success dot-com, slash yearofpurpose.

Dave: Totally. And if anybody wants to email me, it’s dave@themarketresults.com, and just tell me you’re in Zephan’s crew and we’ll make sure to get you taken care off. So pretty excited to hear from anybody that has any questions or needs any help moving forward.

Zephan: Awesome, man. Well, thanks for being here today, and we will definitely stay in touch!

Zephan: This episode of the Year of Purpose is brought to you by our brand new book: Life Rescripted: Find Your Purpose and Design Your Dream Life Before the Curtains Close. If you want to be the first in line to receive a free digital copy from me, all you have to do is head on over to www.liferescriptedbook.com to find out more.

I’ve discovered what I think is the world’s most effective process to design your path in life. It’d be a shame if I didn’t share it. In Life Rescripted, you will discover the number one strategy for determining your life purpose and how you can start a new path today, the 5X life hack rule for accomplishing your dreams and designing your life on your own terms five times faster, the ultimate solution for fear, and how you can leverage it to make it your best year yet and so much more.

Reserve your spot in line to get a free copy at www.liferescriptedbook.com and I will see you in the next episode!

YOP053: Erik Hemingway – Seven Sailors

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Bio: Erik and his family of 8 wanted to make some memories that would last a lifetime!

So, they sold everything, and have spent 3 1/2 years living on a sailboat…….visiting over 25 countries and sailing over 17,000 miles! They are currently in the process of ‘starting over’ in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Transcript

Zephan: This episode of the Year of Purpose is brought to you by our brand new book: Life Rescripted. Find your purpose and design your dream life before the curtains close. If you want to be the first in line to receive a free digital copy from me, all you have to do is head on over to www.liferescriptedbook.com to find out more.

Zephan: Hello, hello, everyone! This is Zephan Blaxberg with the Year of Purpose podcast. And today, I am joined by Erik Hemingway. Erik has a family of eight, and they wanted to try something radically different while homeschooling their children. So they sold their home, 99% of all of their possessions, and set out on a three-and-a-half-year adventure, travelling, sailing, and living abroad. After seventeen thousand miles, twenty-five countries and one baby later, they run the Family Travel podcast and even worked on a book. Erik, how’s it going today?

Erik: It’s going great. How are you doing?

Zephan: Doing pretty well myself. This is such a cool story. I do some traveling, but I have no traveled that much yet. And I definitely aspire to do something like this.

Erik: Well, perfect. That’s kinda why we started the podcast. We wanted to encourage people that if we can do it, anybody can do it. That’s the message with try to get out there.

Zephan: Yeah. And that’s really been the same thing for me, both in—I left my fulltime job to start a business, and now I have a lot more freedom to travel as well. So I think I’ve been to somewhere around twenty-five or so states in the last twelve months. So I’ve been a lot of traveling domestically, but I think next year’s gonna have to be international.

Erik: Good for you! Alright, that’s awesome.

Zephan: So where does this all start? How do you just pick up and decide “We’re just gonna get rid of everything that we have and this is what we’re gonna do”?

Erik: Well, it didn’t start with that goal in mind. Obviously, we had—our oldest, at the time, when we left on the sailing adventure, was thirteen. But we had traveled with the kids as they were growing up. And Rachel and I—my wife—we’ve always been passionate about travel. We traveled before we got married, in high school, even. Internationally a little bit. And then, after we were married, we made a couple short trips abroad. And travel was just always a part of our life that we were just fascinated with, and once you get bit by the travel bug, that’s definitely hard to shake.

I guess, we were going along through live. We have been married for fifteen years or so at the time, and I stumbled across this book. I was working at a very stressful job in construction, a construction project manager. And so, I was working long hours, trying to see the kids at night, and we were involved with our church, the kids were playing sports—it just felt like everything was just a whirlpool of activities. Just one thing to the next. And I stumbled across this book in 2000, it was called One Year Off, written by David Cohen, and he had taken his family—they had sold their possessions and they had taken just a one-year trip around the world, tickets through Delta or United or whatever. And that was just a huge lightbulb moment for me. When I read that book, I thought “This is incredible!”

We had kind of just not really thought of—you kind of limit yourself to “Well, maybe next year, we can go here for a week or here for two weeks,” or whatever. That’s really the extent of your international traveling, or travel at all, because you’re trying to fit it into the rest of your life. But when I saw this example of somebody who actually put their life on pause and carved out this year to take this adventure, I thought “That is exactly what we need to do.”

So that’s how the idea started. And mixed in there was a lot of road trips with our kids as they were growing up, up and down the coast of California and a road trip to south Dakota where my brother lives. So our kids were pretty familiar with travel.

Zephan: And so, it’s funny how when someone sets the bar higher, and it was something that you didn’t know was possible how all of a sudden it becomes possible for you. Because I was kinda in the same boat with traveling. I didn’t think I could take a month off from my business and actually come back and have any money left, let alone a couple years and with a whole family to support.

Erik: Right, exactly!

Zephan: So it’s such a funny thing when someone really shows you what is possible, how that just kind of clicks into place and you start to do it too. So I have to ask, when you were starting—so you went sailing at one point in time, and you bought a boat. Did you have any prior knowledge as to what it would be like to be abroad with a family? Did you do any research to figure out how to sail, how to fix things in the boat when it breaks? How did you prepare to take a whole family and to be able to support them throughout this whole trip?

Erik: Well, what we did—what led up to this whole thing was we were on the treadmill, and then the book came. So we made a lot of mental shifts at that point. That was maybe 2000/2001. I actually started my own business, I quit the job that I was at, in order to kind of streamline our finances and kind of strategies on how we were gonna build up to this trip. We didn’t even know what this trip was gonna look like at that point. So fast forward to 2007, I had an offer to take a job in Costa Rica with a friend that I knew in Arizona. So we bit the bullet, we decided maybe this is our way to travel. So we picked up our family, we moved to Costa Rica, we ended up down there for a year and a half, and as the real estate market was kind of collapsing in the US, it wasn’t far behind that it started to slow down a lot in Costa Rica as well.

So when that happened, we were very fortunate to have sold a couple commercial buildings in Arizona right before the downturn. So we had some savings, and we thought “Well, there’s no point to going back to the United States”—things had slowed down in Costa Rica. It was like “Well, there’s no point in going back to the US right now, because there’s nothing going on for me, a contractor, so let’s dust off this sailboat idea.” We had talked about it years before, and we thought maybe this is what we should do.

So that all came together very quickly. It was we knew we were leaving Costa Rica, the sailboat idea came up, we found a boat in Greece. We had done a little bit of lake sailing on a small boat in Costa Rica, but nothing—never sailed on an ocean, no idea what we were in for as far as maintenance or anything like that. So I flew to Greece, looked at this boat, basically just to see if we would fit, and we had it professionally surveyed where they kind of do an appraisal and look for any problems. That was kind of a must have for us, especially being so green. And everything came back clear, so it was like “Well, I guess we’re out of excuses. Let’s just do it.”

Zephan: That’s very cool. And so when you were making up your mind to do this, did you ever have any hesitations of “We’ve got family, friends, people that are all going to be in the US. Obviously we’ll meet a lot of people on the way…” but where you ever concerned with “We might not see these people for a long time”? How did you keep up communication?

Erik: We did have that concern. That is probably—in my wife and I’s opinion—is probably that is the number one drawback to nomadic travel or a life of travel where you’re just perpetually on the road. You do have long periods of time where you don’t see family and friends, and that was—of course, there’s Skype. It’s not quite the same as being in person but it’s also—the flipside is you are—and it was always easier for people to come visit us than for us to pack eight people on an airplane and ten thousand dollars in plain tickets.

So my parents came and visited us when we were in Turkey, and also in Israel after our baby was born. And we had some good friends that visited us in Israel. Two different groups of friends. So we did have visitors and stuff and that was great. But some extended family, sisters-in-law and brothers and stuff, it’s just not possible for them to come visit. So it was probably a three-year period where we didn’t see our immediate family. So that’s definitely one of the challenges of traveling.

Zephan: Yeah. And I’m sure that’s gotta be tough, but at the same time, it probably makes for a much nicer reunion when you guys do come back and you get to throw a big party and see everybody again.

Erik: Exactly! Yeah, exactly. We did miss a couple weddings and a niece and nephew being born and stuff. It was difficult, but you’re righ.t we had some great connections once we came back.

Zephan: Yeah. And so, on top of that, not that it’s a huge challenge, because you’ve chose to homeschool your kids, now you’ve become, what, the algebra teacher, the biology teacher, the English teacher all in one?

Erik: Yeah, basically. I mean, that’s pretty much how homeschool works. You do have to wear a lot of hats. And through our podcast, we’ve talked to a lot of families that are traveling in all kinds of different ways, and a trend seems to be emerging from longtime travelers. It’s called unschooling, or some people call it “road schooling,” and it’s where you don’t place a lot of focus on, necessarily book work or busy work or academics, necessarily, as far as “We’ve got to get through this biology book” or “We’ve got to get through this history book,” because you’re living in such fascinating places and you’re seeing so much culture and different places and history and so many facets of your life are submersive education that you just kind of focus on what it right in front of you. It’s really a learn in the now, if that makes sense.

So our homeschooling kind of drifted towards that as we traveled. We took a lot of book with us, but to be honest, we didn’t open the books a lot of times. Because we’re either in a place like Rome or Athens, where you want to see the sights, or we were on passage on a sailboat, which is not a fun place to be doing school. And so there wasn’t—to be honest, we didn’t hit the books really hard for those few years. The flipside being, when we came back to the United States, we wanted to give our kids some academic tests to see where they were and kind of assess, see what the damage was that we had maybe caused by not hitting the books so hard, and we were fascinated and blown away by the fact they tested at or above their grade level—their current grade level. Not where they left off.

So they had been learning the whole time, just a totally different style of learning. And everybody learns differently, but the travel lifestyle really lends itself to submersive, fascinating education opportunities.

Zephan: Oh, I’m sure. And it’s funny to hear you say that, only because I’ve always been someone who, sitting in high school and college, I was the guy saying “When am I ever gonna use this again?” and just the other day, I was sitting with my mom for lunch, and she couldn’t calculate the tip, and she was like “What’s”—whatever—she gave me a math problem, and I was like “See, mom? That’s the first time I’ve had to do math since college! It’s been five years and I haven’t needed it until now! That hundred-thousand-dollar tuition paid off!”

Erik: That brings up a good point, though. A lot of times, in our school system—I’m not gonna bash on the school system, they do the best they can with the hand they’ve been dealt, trying to educate a massive population. And, unfortunately, a lot of times–all schools are guilty of this, I think—they teach to a test, because they have to have numbers that qualify and percentiles and all this kind of thing. It’s not really—I don’t think they’re necessarily designed to give kids a lot of life skills. There’s not personal management—personal time management classes, budget classes. ‘

I mean, I’m really getting fascinated by the personal finance field, the FinCon and the Bigger Pockets, and Mr. Money Mustache, those kind of ideas where—that’s the kind of stuff we should be teaching the next generation: how to manage their finances. Why can’t they build their life to be financially independent by thirty, or thirty-five or twenty-five, whatever? And that’s the education we need to give the next generation. Not necessarily how to diagram chromosomes or detailed algebraic equations—unless you’re gonna go into that field. You don’t need to learn brain surgery if you’re gonna be a plumber.

Zephan: Right. And think it’s safe to say that we can both agree that education in itself is very important, period. At the end of the day, education is important. Everyone’s gonna learn differently, everyone’s going to teach their kids differently. I think that we are moving into kind of a newer era of specialization. I went to school as a film major, and I run a video production company now, but I can’t say that reading No Country for Old Men in English class seven or eight years ago was important to get me to where I am now. …No offense to my professor, Judy Good, who’s also still a good friend of mine! I don’t know if she’s listening to this because I still love her! But that, in itself, was not something where I can look back and say “Oh, I became a successful business owner because I learned this one lesson in this literature class back there.”

Erik: Right, yeah. And don’t take that against education. I think there’s—what I always tell my kids is life is an education and you’re always learning. You’re always learning—you don’t stop when you get to twelfth grade or when you graduate from college. Life is about learning. And I hope that I’m still learning new skills when I’m fifty and sixty and seventy. I mean, all that we try to teach our kids is how to learn. Because you’re not gonna teach them everything by the time they’re eighteen and they leave your house. You’re gonna try to do, all we try to do, is teach them how to learn.

Because they’re gonna come up with a new interest when they’re twenty-five or thirty, and they know “Okay, here’s how you tackle it.” You get some books from the library—well, now, you look up online. You watch a video, you do this, you do that, and all of a sudden—or you take specialize course, like you’re talking about things getting specialized. You never give up that passion or learning.

And that goes for all aspects of your life, even personalities. You have people in your life that you’re learning from. You have people that you like, and of course there’s people that grate you the wrong way that you learn you don’t want to be like. You don’t want to be that kind of a boss or that kind of an employee or whatever. And so, that’s what we try to instill in our kids, and that’s global. That’s everywhere. That’s whether you’re in France or you’re in Willington, North Carolina, where we are. It just goes with you every day, every minute.

Zephan: Yeah. And I think have that sort of life smarts or street smarts is crucial, at least in this day and age with how things are right now. I’d be curious to hear from you, what would you say are maybe the top two or three things that you learned, whether it was about yourself or just through that whole adventure? And then what are some of the things that you think your kids really took away form that?

Erik: Uhm, I would say, for me personally, it would be patience. Because we were all in a lot of uncomfortable situations, new surroundings, and it just took a lot of patience for us to learn to work together. Being with the family with five or six kids in three hundred and fifty square feet will try your patience, and so you just had to learn how to give a lot of grace to each other, a lot of benefit of the doubt. So we really learned how to work together as a team. But it took a lot of fights and apologies and—there’s no room to go pout or throw a tantrum on a boat, you have to deal with attitudes right then, and then you move past it. I think we all learned that.

I think for our kids, it was just a fantastic foundation to build them a huge amount of confidence in who they are and what they can accomplish. When we were sailing across the Atlantic, that’s a big undertaking, and we talked about it as a family. We were like “Can we do this? Is this something we’re comfortable with?” Safety—we got a lot of safety equipment that we didn’t normally have on the boat for that crossing. So it was a big deal, and my son and my daughter and I did the sailing. My wife had the baby, so she was taken off the night watches and that kind of thing. But you’re awake—somebody has to be awake watching for other boats 24/7. And the Atlantic crossing is an eighteen-day passage, so you don’t see land for almost three weeks. They were sixteen and fifteen at the time—I’m sorry, seventeen and sixteen, and they actually sailed us across the Atlantic. We took turns sleeping.

So you just walk tall when you get to the other side of that kind of an accomplishment, and as a sixteen-year-old that sailed your family across the ocean, that’s a huge confidence builder. There’s not much you can’t accomplish after that.

Zephan: Yeah, I guess so! So, eighteen days, where does that leave from and where does that get you to?

Erik: So—a lot of people crossing the Atlantic will sail through Gibraltar, the Straits of Gibraltar. They’ll sail down to the Canary Islands—which are owned by Spain, it’s a Spanish chain of islands. And then there’s a lot of boats that will leave from the Canary Islands, heading south, and then west as they get a little further south. And what we did is we sailed through Gibraltar. We actually went to Morocco for a time, and then the Canary Islands, then we ended up going kind of off the sailing path down to west Africa. We sailed to Senegal, and to Gambia—we sailed up the Gambia River about a hundred miles, and the water turns to freshwater. We saw crocodiles and tons of wildlife. Monkeys. It was—you know, ridiculous cool. And then we sailed out of the Gambia out to Cape Verde Islands, which is also an African country, a small seven or eight islands off the coast.

So we sailed there, and then we laid up there for two or three weeks, and then we laid up for the crossing from Cape Verde, West Africa, made landfall in Dominica in the Caribbean, which is just down past Martinique and Antigua.

Zephan: Very cool. It’s crazy to hear that that only takes eighteen days. I had someone that I interviewed way back when we first got our show started, Sonya Baumstein. She was—is still working on it, but she was planning for three years to ocean-row a boat from japan to San Francisco.

Erik: Oh my gosh!

Zephan: And when I asked her how long that was supposed to take, she said someone about a hundred and thirty, a hundred and forty days, something like that.

Erik: Oh my gosh!

Zephan: So to hear eighteen days, I was actually a little surprised to hear you say that. Like “Man, that’s pretty darn quick!”

Erik: Well, yeah—it’s still quite a while. When you’re lying in the cockpit and you see these little dots of airplanes and you know they’re crossing the same ocean in about eight or nine hours, it’s kinda discouraging. But hundred and—what’d you say? A hundred and twenty days?

Zephan: I think it was closer to like one-forty, one-fifty, something like that.

Erik: One-forty, oh my gosh. That is incredible.

Zephan: Given that’s all human powered, having to row a boat through some serious weather. What was that like for you guys? Did you ever hit any major storms or anything that could have been life threatening, or at least concerning?

Erik: There’s different weather patterns that we studied about and—we didn’t know, when we first started. We talked to other boats, other cruisers are fantastic resource of knowledge. And these people have sailed around the world and were just very welcoming and very open with their advice and stuff. So there’s actually patterns—late November is when the season, quote unquote, starts to cross the Atlantic. And that’s when the trade winds start and kind of get into a rhythm. And so you’re not gonna have a hurricane—typically, you’re not gonna have hurricanes at that time. Hurricane season, and there’s a trade wind season.

We left in the beginning of January—January 4th, 2012—and by then, the trade winds were pretty much established. We did have a couple days of light wind and there was three or four days where the winds picked up, forty/forty-five knots, and then the seas of course get rolly after that. Fifteen/twenty-foot roller waves. And so that was uncomfortable for a few days, but over all, it was kind of find a happy place, hold on, get comfortable, and ride it out.

Zephan: Very cool. So what happens when you get back from this? I’m sure some of the people re thinking right now, and my question is always the same thing I was concerned about when I left for a month, was that I’m leaving my business, I’m leaving everything behind here. What am I gonna do for money when I get back and how am I going to get back into that routine of life and being able to afford all the things that I’ll be doing next? So how do you start over fresh when you get back home?

Erik: You know, that’s a good question. When we left, we were so committed to this adventure, we weren’t really concerned. I was willing to spend all of our savings for this adventures, because I knew it was gonna be impacting for our family and our kids. And, of course, nothing is as bad as you fear. We had sold everything already, we did keep one business in Arizona—which we still have—but we sold our cars, house, everything. So we kind of, in the back of our minds, knew when we came back, we were gonna be starting over, so we chose North Carolina, Wilmington, to start over in, and we basically sailed up the Cape Fear River, lived on our boat for a couple months until we could find a house, and then through—still had some savings left. Even though we were willing to spend it all, we didn’t spend it all. So we had enough money to start over. I got back into construction, and just basically started—moved into a house with two air mattresses and it’s incredible how fast you can accumulate when you get back into the US.

We just hit Craigslist and started getting beds and furniture—and actually some people heard about our story and we like “Well, we were gonna sell this stuff, but man, you guys are starting over. Man, just take it all!” So we got a bunch of free stuff and it’s been a great transition back into, quote unquote, normal life, but—like I mentioned, once it’s in your system, it’s hard to ever stay put. So we’re already strategizing our next adventure, whatever that might be. Our oldest two kids are married now. One’s twenty-one and one’s twenty, and so we have four at home and our little guy that was born in Israel just turned five, so he has really no memories of that boat adventure, even though he sailed across the ocean. He doesn’t remember it.

Zephan: He can look at the pictures.

Erik: Exactly! Show him the pictures and he’s like “Wow, that was cool…” So we’re itching to get him out, and of course, our other girls that are at home and we’re just having a great time thinking about—brainstorming what’s next and what kind of adventure we want to have.

Zephan: And I’m sure the other girls were much younger at the time, so the experience would probably be totally different if you were to do something again.

Erik: Exactly. They remember the boat, we have an eleven-year-old and a nine-year-old, and of course, they remember it, but they remember little aspects of it. They weren’t old enough to help with the sailing or navigating or any of that. So money exchange, all that’s gonna be new to them on this next trip. And we’re probably not gonna do a sailing boat again, but we got a few ides we’re anxious to try out. Take some backpacks and hit southeast Asia and see what happens.

Zephan: That’s actually—that’s been one of the big things on my list. Thailand is up next for me. And I’ve bene researching for a while because there’s this cool southeast Asia airline pass that for a certain very small fee will give you unlimited flights for, I think, a whole month, and you basically can travel all over southeast Asia. And so I’m sure there’s plenty of options out there, it’ll probably come around again, but I’ve looked into that because I think my next big thing is probably southeast Asia for a month or two to see what that’s like.

It’s a pretty cool place and I think one thing to mention is you probably spend a lot less money when you are on the boat, and I’m sure traveling in a place like Southeast Asia, everything is so cheap thee. What might be a three or four-dollar coffee here at Starbucks might only be thirty or forty cents over in Asia. So I’m sure the money, also, is very different when you live that type of a lifestyle.

Erik: It is. That’s something a lot of people ask us and we cover it on our podcast about how do you finance a dream like this. And people usually compare a travel lifestyle, because we are in exotic places, and Europe is one of the most expensive places in the world, obviously. But when we were living on our boat, you have no hotel, we ate out very little—especially with a big family, it’s hard to eat out for anything more than basic pizza or whatever. Our family was living on about thirteen to fourteen hundred dollars a month for the height of us, because there’s so many other expenses that you have in a—no utilities, no insurance—auto insurance, gas for your car, all of the things that come up in day to day life. Clubs you’re in or sports for the kids. There’s so many little things that eat away at your finances that are out of the picture when you’re traveling.

And so everybody, all of our guests, can attest to the fact—everyone’s blown away by how little you can spend. Of course, you can—you know, it’s the same thing. You can have caviar and champagne, but you can live very inexpensively and that’s the fantastic thing about nomadic travel.

Zephan: Yeah. And I think that it’s gotta be freeing to get rid of all hat stuff.  Hate seeing the bills coming in every month of car insurances and business insurance and—you know, I’ve got rent for my office, I’ve got rent for my house—there’s so many bills that come in. I can’t imagine what it would be like to, for a couple years at a time, not be walking down the street to get the mail out of the mailbox, and not having to either!

Erik: Right, it’s fantastic. I can attest to that that—we just lived so simply and we took out cash—we took out cash at ATMs wherever we were and that way it’s already in the currency where you’re at. And, you know, you just check online with your bank statements and make sure you’re—everything’s okay. You’re checking a couple times a month. It’s not a daily or every other day budgeting, checking, paying bills, all that kind of stuff. Of course things have gotten so much more streamline with online bill pay. It’s easier than ever. But it is very freeing to get rid of all of that.

I guess it’s like subliminal baggage that you’re always thinking about. “I know I’ve got this bill coming up. I know I’ve got this check coming in.” it’s just life. And it’s just a great opportunity to put that on pause and really focus on the now. And it’s super rewarding.

Zephan: So having been on this great adventure and looking forward to the next one, what’s your advice for anyone, whether it’s a family, or even an individual like myself—I just turned twenty-six, I’ve not no kids, no fam—well, I have family, but no relationships or—

Erik: Not that you’re responsible for.

Zephan: Right. So basically, nothing is tying me down right now. So whether it’s someone like me or someone who might have five or six kids, what advice do you have for them just when it comes to living life on your own terms and really taking the leap to take advantage of all it has to offer?

Erik: Well, you know, a couple different things—that’s a great question. And it’s something I really have been trying to solve, this issue of fear and how you over—because that’s what it all comes down to. You’re not really afraid of running out of money, you’re afraid of starving because you have no money. Every fear can come back to—and of course, you mind makes these huge what if problems that, realistically, will never materialize.

And we don’t push that travel is for everyone, but we try to encourage people that if travel is your thing—and even lifestyle. Whatever lifestyle you want; you just need to make steps to make it happen. You need to take—try to tackle the fears head on. What we did is we wrote down on paper our fears, our biggest fears with the whole situation. We asked our kids and my wife and I would sit down and write out all these things. And then you can actually—when you see the fears, you can address them, you can plan for them the best you can, and then it’s done. You don’t have to fret about it, you don’t have to let them spiral out of control at two in the morning or whatever when you’re lying in bed.

Once you put them on paper, I think, that helps us a lot. So that’s once piece of advice. And if travel is your thing, I would encourage you, don’t make it a someday or a “Gee, it would be nice” like you’re gonna but a Jacuzzi or something. You have to make it a goal. And that is a huge shift when “we could do” to “we will do this” and that was finally what pushed us over the edge. We picked a date on the calendar, we started selling stuff, and you’ll be surprised how the momentum will pick up behind you and you are just encouraged by the fact things are in motion. You actually put things in motion and when you start decluttering your house or selling your house or your lease is up and you’re starting to make plans. “Hey, when my lease is up, I’m not signing another one. So two months out, I’m getting rid of this and this,” and it will happen. The pieces will fall into place.

Zephan: Yeah, and I’ve been in a very similar scenario where I wanted to write a book, and I put a date on the calendar. And so, for everyone listening right now, we’re recording this at the end of august 2015. As of today, I am eighteen thousand words into this book. I’m about a third of the way through, and my goal was to publish this and like have it out, selling, by January 1st, 2018. So it’s one of those things where, as soon as you set that date on the calendar, things really start to move. And I think that, for so long, I was making that mistake of “Oh, I want to write a book eventually. Someday I’ll do that.” And when you stop doing that and you start setting the real goal of hour you’re gonna do it, it just kind of happens, and the world kind of conspires to help you out.

Erik: Yes! I agree! Yeah! And that’s what so many of our guests—I ask them the same thing, and it’s surprising to hear. I hear that so many times. “Yeah, the universe—everything was falling into place.” And of course there’s setbacks and detours or whatever, but you’re not changing direction. You’re still on the path to your goal. And could it be something as simple as just putting a date on the calendar? It sounds ridiculous, because we do it all the time, but it actually works. So that’s—maybe it’s a subconscious thing. When you make that date, your mind just plans for it to happen on that date.

Zephan: Right. Like, I hate to sound cliché—the movie The Secret where there was this guy, “Yeah, I was dreaming about all these checks showing up at my mailbox, and one day, I woke up and went outside and there were all these checks in my mailbox!” It’s not like that but I think that there is some sort of a mindset shift that happens when you do set this goal and it becomes a reality. And I know, for the book writing stuff, one of the things that a coach I hired told me to do was “Get your book cover made now. Don’t wait until the book it written.” And the second I saw that cover, it just solidified everything for me and the whole book made sense and it started to click and I’ve been writing every day towards it. So it’s very interesting how it all plays out.

Erik: Awesome—well, congratulations! Good for you.

Zephan: Yeah, man. So I’d love to share with everybody you podcast where people can learn more about your journey and hear about other families that are doing this too. So what’s the best way for people to keep track?

Erik: Let me just add one more thing to that last thing: Another huge shift for us, and I just thought of it, is when we realized that we were gonna have major regrets if we did not do this adventure. We thought about it, we thought “Are we out of our minds to take this much money and live this way and live—take our kids out of their surroundings and all that?” And then we thought “Are we gonna regret, when we’re sixty years old, and we’ll be like ‘We should have really done that’?” Both of us agreed, yeah, we would have major regrets. That was the shift for us, “Okay, let’s do it.”

So, for us, we interview families that are traveling all different ways. Sailboats, RVs—we have a lot of RV families. We have a family that rode bikes from Alaska to the bottom of Argentina, three years—seventeen thousand miles by bike. The name of our podcast is Family Adventure Podcast, and our website is www.familyadventurepodcast.com. You can find us on iTunes, Stitcher, any Android—whatever—just search it up, “Family Adventure Podcast” and—yeah. We’d love to hear from people and how we can help you achieve your dreams.

Zephan: Awesome. Well, Erik, it’s been great meeting you. And tell Rachel that I admire the adventure that you guys went on and good luck for this new one that you guys are researching and figuring out. And when you decide on what it is, I’d love to hear how that’s gonna play out.

Erik: Fantastic! Alright, thanks Zephan, so much, for having me on your show and best to you.

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