How to Become a Lifestyle Entrepreneur with April Beach

Episode 37

Almost every single entrepreneur starts a business because they want to live life on their own terms. They have an idea in their mind of what they want their lives to look like on a daily basis. For some that means time freedom, so they can be home with their families. For others it means location freedom, so they can travel as often as they like. For these entrepreneurs, their business isn’t just about the bottom line. It’s about being able to life their ideal lifestyle.

April Beach is a business strategist and coach for lifestyle entrepreneurs; who also happens to be a very dear friend of mine. April focuses on helping entrepreneurs who want to build a business around their dream lifestyle.

In this episode, April and I dive into why she loves incorporating social activism into her business, why it was so important for April to build a business that allowed her to focus on her family, the story of how April was born into an entrepreneurial family and was then left to raise herself when she was just 13 years old, and the five-step system April uses to help her clients start and grow a business that allows them to live their dream lifestyle.

Mentioned in this episode:

Play here (the red triangle below), on iTunes, Stitcher or TuneIn Radio (Amazon Alexa) or wherever you listen to podcasts.



How to Actually Achieve Your New Year’s Resolutions with Espen Klausen, Ph.D.

Episode 36

The start of the new year always brings about resolutions for change. Unfortunately, most of us give up our resolutions by the end of the first month. So, if you’re thinking about making changes and you want those changes to last, this episode is for you!

My guest today was actually my very first guest on this podcast and I knew I had to bring him back for this episode because he’s a Psychologist who has some incredibly helpful insights into how to turn our resolutions into our new habits and routines.

In this episode, Espen Klausen, Ph.D., talks about the biggest challenge people face when starting a new year’s resolution, why you need to understand your core values before you think about making changes, why you should focus on the process rather than the result of long-term goals, what to do when you start to feel discouraged, the importance of rewarding yourself, and much more!

Mentioned in this episode:

Play here (the red triangle below), on iTunes, Stitcher or TuneIn Radio (Amazon Alexa) or wherever you listen to podcasts.



Andrea: Dr. Espen Klausen, it’s great to have you back on the Voice of Influence podcast!

Dr Espen Klausen: Thank you and thank you for having me back.

Andrea: Yes! Well, I have been thinking about this New Year’s Day edition for a while. I knew that I wanted to have you on because I know that New Year’s resolutions and this fresh start that we all have here in this New Year, it’s exciting and encouraging.

I love having a fresh start, but I know that a lot of people really struggle with actually making changes that last. And sometimes even just deciding that they want to make a change, it’s so easy to say in the status quo.

So let’s start with a question about what do you see when people are ready to make a change, when they want to do a New Year’s resolution or whatever? What are some of the big challenges that you see people facing with a New Year’s resolution?

Dr. Espen Klausen: The biggest challenges I find is that very often the things they want to change, they don’t necessarily want to change for the real reason, or they haven’t actually related what they want to change to who they are or what they want as a person. They tend to focus on things that there’s external pressures for or things that relate to things that they feel guilty about or shameful about.

They’re may be good things to change and in the end they’re maybe trying to change the right thing but, very often, they relate it back to the wrong things. We all have core values and, if we really going to change something, it’s only going to change if we can relate that change back to what’s actually us at the core.

Andrea: So how do people know what their core values are? I’m really aware that there are a lot of people who do not really realize what they most care about. They might kind of have an idea but they’re really more reacting in life rather than thinking about stuff and responding. But how do we really find out what those core values are and make that bridge back to that trigger I guess that is going to help us remember why we want to make this change in our life?

Dr. Espen Klausen: Sure! Here’s the simple version with which might give people a start. They go online and search term “core values” or list of core values and find lots of lists of core values that you can browse through and a lot of people find just from that. A few of these values listed just pop out and “Oh yeah, that’s totally me,” but actually, it’s beyond that too. We’ll see how it goes. I’ll put this on the spot here because, hey, I didn’t prepare you for this, Andrea. But Andrea, I know my wife knew you when you grew up but I didn’t so I don’t know this. When you were young, what toy do you remember most liked?

Andrea: Hmmm, I remember Raggedy Ann doll.

Dr. Espen Klausen: Uh-huh, what do you like about Raggedy Ann?

Andrea: I think she had a song associated with her. I don’t actually totally remember, but I think there was some sort of song associated. So I think I liked her because of that and yeah. I don’t know.

Dr. Espen Klausen. OK. It’s funny, you should say that though, because I don’t know how much you ended up talking about this new podcast, but music was very much been a big part of your life, hasn’t it?

Andrea: Right.

Dr. Espen Klausen: It’s pretty safe to say that music is one of your core values. You just wouldn’t be happy if music is cut out of your life. So we got one right there. For other people, it was building blocks and to find that “Oh one of my core values actually is building it.”

So going back even the childhood behaviors, favorite games, or childhood’s favorite toys you’ll find it there. Nobody hints up project at school or progress at work that we’ve had where we finished a project or we finished what we’re supposed to but in the next days, not in a worry anxious sense but kind of just interest sense or where our brain goes. Our brain just keeps gravitating back to it or studying more, learning more, or perfecting a project _____. We just naturally feel drawn to do it that usually means as our core values or too involved in there.

It’s just another kind of thing you can go through to define that kind of hint. Another thing too is also looking at things like what’s your favorite book, what’s your favorite movie, or what makes that your favorite? It usually boils down to core values in one way or another.

Andrea: Hmmm, I like that. I love looking for clues for stuff like that. I think that’s really fun. But I think that is kind of hard to do that if you’re not used to doing that. The idea of looking online just for list of core values, I hadn’t thought of that before but, I suppose you could just look at the list, at least you begin to identify what some of those things are for you.

Dr. Espen Klausen: Yeah and it’s particularly useful if you combine those two strategies because when you think of a childhood toys or activities, you may not think about that “Oh what does that mean?” But if while thinking about that, you look through at list like that and that usually helps your brain connect the dots.

Andrea: OK, so we’ve got some sort of idea whatever our core values are, but you know what, Espen, I’m feeling like I wanted to make this change in my life for myself but it’s going to take time and it’s going to take energy. I feel like I shouldn’t take that time and energy away from my family. Or I feel like I shouldn’t take that time and energy away from the other people that I serve. What do you say to somebody like that who’s saying that that wants to make a change in their lives but they just don’t feel like they should take that extra energy away from other people?

Dr. Espen Klausen: Yeah a lot of people have that battle and it’s a very understandable battle. One big key in dealing with that is making sure it’s not an ongoing battle. We have to make a decision about how much time or financial resources is it okay for you to set aside because if you’re going to commit to making a change, you have to make a decision of how much you’re also willing to set aside for it; otherwise, you’ll just kind of keep getting cut in this guilt of “Oh I can’t do it,” every time you do it then it’s not going to last.

So let’s say someone is deciding to “OK, I need to get fit. I need to be healthy. I’m gonna need to make these changes, but I’m busy with the young kids and then it’s hard to find the time where I feel guilty about it.” Then the need to split ups, set a number of hours they’re willing to spend each week and exercise and make a decision maybe even with the family, “OK, if I spend three hours a week exercising then that’s then, I don’t have to feel guilty about three hours of exercising.” If they don’t do that then every hour they spend exercising, they’ll feel guilty about it even if it’s just one hour. That decision has to be made.

Another thing that becomes important in all of this too is…I’ll use an analogy here. In a lot of different work I do, I use an analogy for bucket. In this case is a caring bucket or a giving bucket, and we only have so much in our bucket. Now, with rest, with time, or with activities; our bucket can filled back up again. But if we keep giving and giving and giving and giving, our bucket gets empty. We need to have activities in our life that helps fill our bucket and it helps fill our bucket then it’s a lot easier to give it to others.

A lot of clients I worked with, we’re all working on a _____ issue of taking time to themselves and those things that helps fill their bucket. A lot of mothers and fathers who have not been exercising, for example, because they have so much busyness with kids, but once they committed an exercise routine, they often find that they have more energy and get more things done and actually end up being better parents. And for a totally unselfish reason of being better parents still turned out to be the right thing.

The same thing can go for someone wanting to learn about a new topic and get out of their regular life. And very often, we find that when a person is pursuing some personal goals, it enriches and improves their caring and helping and investment motivation for everything else as well.

Andrea: Yes, definitely!

Dr. Espen Klausen: I’ll take it to the point where I work in county public mental health; I have an employer who is very conscientious of not allowing us to work overtime. You know, if you work too much without having the time to explore other interests and get rest prioritizing ourselves in our development and healing then we are not good clinicians. If we were working a lot of hours we’d become bad clinicians and are likely to dropout our profession altogether, which of course is not actually the caring thing for clients.

Andrea: Right. But don’t you have to then put aside…doesn’t it end up happening that the clients still get to see you as soon or somebody doesn’t get seen that day. As a leader yourself, how do you handle that knowing that you’re not meeting everybody’s needs on that day, but in a long term it’s better for everybody in the end? I don’t know, how do you handle that in a moment?

Dr. Espen Klausen: That does get difficult doesn’t it? Because I rationally know that that when there’s a need for client and sometimes my mind thinks “Oh you know, I could stay an extra hour and I can see this client who really needs to get in,” except, I’ve learned overtime that that leads to less quality work and it’s now not fair to the client I’m seeing the next day.

So it’s that awareness, but it’s hard, as human beings much like animals, we have a lot easier times seeing the need in front of us rather than the long term effects of things then it goes on reminding ourselves.

Andrea: Yes, yeah.

Dr. Espen Klausen: It helps if you can remind ourselves that our reason for doing it, our reason for setting those boundaries or setting aside time for ourselves is usually the most effective when we can relate it back to the temptation of not doing so. For example, if I have the urge to put in a client and work an extra hour, I could argue with myself that “Oh, I don’t wanna do that because now I’m taking away time from my daughter.” But you know I could do that, but it’s not likely to be as effective as if I relay it back to the very motivation for getting the client into my schedule to begin with.

Andrea: OK, so explain that.

Dr. Espen Klausen: Well, I want to help clients. I want to help clients that’s why I have the urge to squeeze these clients in, you know, this evening, yet it then helps that I can tell myself “If I keep doing that, I’m not gonna be very much help to my clients.” And should I do that, eventually I’m gonna burn out. I’m gonna have more sick leaves. There gonna be clients that are cancelled and in the long run I’m gonna work again what I’m trying to do by squeezing them in.”

I’ll give you an example that kind of goes beyond that too. At the moment my exercise regimen is early in the morning and it means I have to get up early than I do as I would. Sleep is important. I’m not saying you shouldn’t get enough sleep but I initially went into it thinking, “I don’t have time to exercise.” But of course that was the time I wasn’t exercising at all. What I didn’t realize is the fact that I’m exercising and I’m more fit and now healthy.

Actually, I don’t require nearly as much sleep as I used to. I’ve actually earned the time from exercising by needing less sleep. And very often, the very things that prevent us from setting aside the time, not always, but very often can have motivators in us to set aside that time. Like, “Let’s do parenting” or “I can’t take time to myself because I need to be there for our kids.” Most kids experience that when a parent has had time to themselves to explore a different interests or done something else and the mind of the parent comes back refreshed.

Kids usually experience that this parent is now more present and more available in more quality time and that’s what really what the kids usually tends to crave. They crave parents that are attentive and responsive. And if anytime away, you need to take hours, whether it’s in a weekend or whether you shut the door and go do a bible study and refresh their minds, it’s when they come out that they’re more responsive. It’s a huge, huge value of the parenting of that child.

Andrea: OK, so we’ve gotten through like maybe three or so things that kind of hold people back or cause problems when it comes to setting or falling through on making changes. I’m thinking of another one now that I hear a lot and things that people don’t even realize that they’re saying. But oftentimes, I think people look at someone else, who maybe ran a marathon, or somebody who is doing something that they admire but they think “I can’t do that.” They just automatically kind of that’s their response, “I can’t.” What do you say to that person?

Dr. Espen Klausen: Usually, I want to hear that and my first question is, is this something you actually want to. This brings back to the beginning of our discussion, our core values. Is this something that’s actually important to you? If someone else run a marathon, “OK, do you really want to run a marathon?” Because often, we try to set these goals for ourselves that are not actually based on what we want and never mind the comparison, “Well, they can do it, I should be able to do it.” Yeah, but do we actually want to? Do you have that value in your life? If it does, OK. If it what’s important to you then yeah you can. Not yet, not at this point.

It usually boils down to what’s one of the biggest issue with a lot of kind of New Year’s resolution anyway is we tend to focus on this overall goal or what I call a long-term goal is where you want to get to and those goals usually turn out to actually be quite unimportant. We should think of long-term goals importance as being motivators and not goals.

Andrea: OK

Dr. Espen Klausen: Our long-term goals tend to change, and if the long-term goals is what represent success for you and the point of the long-term goal is that goal that’s the only thing that’s going to make it worth it then you probably should reconsider, unless you find, which is going to be more important. Are the steps you take to get there valuable to you regardless?

Andrea: OK, so you’re saying that this long term goal, if it’s not just a motivation, if it’s truly the goal and that is what I’m seeking, I have to lose 30 pounds or whatever it is. You’re saying that’s not a good goal? You’re saying that you need to reconsider the actual goal because you don’t value the process of getting to the goal? Is that kind of what you’re saying?

Dr. Espen Klausen: I’m saying that goal is okay if it works as a motivator. If it doesn’t work as a motivator then you have to rethink it. Very often that also goes to the phrasing of the goal which we tend to be quiet for at. For example, very rarely have I met a person whose goal actually is to lose 30 pounds, because what’s the benefit of losing 30 pounds? There is no benefit to losing 30 pounds. Now, to lose body fat that has a lot of benefits. Losing 30 pounds does not.

Andrea: It might have a little benefit on your knees and your joints and that sort of thing but…

Dr. Espen Klausen: Aha, now you’re getting into it, isn’t it?

Andrea: Yeah, yeah.

Dr. Espen Klausen: OK, so the long term goal is less back pain or less knee pain. Maybe, it’s about having more energy; maybe it’s about getting rid of the pain. What’s the real reason for losing those 30 pounds, because if losing those pounds actually now meant more pain, what was the point?

Andrea: Right.

Dr. Espen Klausen: So long-term goal should be a motivator. It should be something that makes you want to do it. But the real goals that really actually matter is your step-by-step process goals and the process goals are how you do it. So let’s say someone wants to lose 30 pounds. OK then they should not focus on the 30 pounds. That’s a long-term goal, that’s the motivator, and now they need to set process goals that are each week or it could be day-to-day, “What are the things I need to do? What are the goals I’m setting each week?” “OK, each week, I’m gonna run for an hour or twice and I’m going to do at least a thousand steps a part from the running.” OK, those are process goals. In those process goals that in the end actually end up _____.

Andrea: Sure! It sounds like those are really more like the actual tasks that you’re going to do.

Dr. Espen Klausen: Yes. But the problem people that I run into is they try to do these things but then they tend to measure themselves based on the overall long-term goal. But they need to give themselves feedback every week based on the process goals.

Andrea: Yes sure.

Dr. Espen Klausen: So if they run for two times one hour and they did all those steps and then the step on the scale at the end of the week and they’re off 2 pounds, they have to tell themselves “Good job!”

Andrea: Sure!

Dr. Espen Klausen: Sure, they may not be heading in the direction of long-term goal according to the scale, but they were doing what they’re supposed to. They were meeting their process goals and those process goals that are already important ones.

Andrea: I think that’s such a really important piece of this puzzle. But I also know that sometimes when you get to that point and you do see the scale having gone up instead of going down and you see that for a couple of weeks, you start to get discouraged and think that you’re not on the right track and maybe you’re doing the wrong things or that you’re process is wrong somehow. What would you do in that case?

Dr. Espen Klausen: In that case, it now becomes very important and even more so important now that you take an attitude of telling yourself “Good job!” You’re talking exactly kind of situation where now people are getting down on themselves but you want to tell yourself good job because you’re actually meeting your goals as you need to give yourself a pat on the back for that. Because it’s not just important for what you’ve done, that’s important for what you now will do in the future.

If you found out that the process you’ve been doing or the way to get to the goal was wrong, if you’re now telling yourself bad job then you’re going to be less motivated for the new process you find. If you find that “OK, I used a bad process but I did well doing what I told myself to do. I did that process correctly, good job! It’s just the process was wrong, OK, now I’ll change the process. If I work as hard at it then I’ll make a progress.”

Andrea: Yeah, so at the point, really it’s not about whether or not you’re value and whether or not you put the effort in, it’s more about what the actual data is. Yeah, the process is a part from you basically. You get to look at that objectively instead of looking at as something that you’re measuring against your own. I don’t know what I’m saying. I can’t say it.

Dr. Espen Klausen: All I could say, the factor into that is very often our long-term goals are not totally under our control. We should phrase our process goals in such a way that they’re mostly under our control. You never know when you’re going to get a flu and you didn’t get out and run. But the process goals, you can usually phrase in such a way that it’s under your control. Sometimes, the long-term goal is harder to control.

Andrea: When you say the long-term goal is harder to control, you’re saying that actually achieving that goal is harder to control?

Dr. Espen Klausen: Yes! Our long-term goals tend to depend on a lot of factors that may not have to be with us.

Andrea: OK

Dr. Espen Klausen: For example, let’s say someone has such a goal of “I want to have better relationships with my family.” You can set a process goals for that, like “I’m gonna make at least five positive statements to my spouse and each of my kids every day, and I’m going to spend at least two hours each day that I’ve set aside for my family, even if I have a busy day.” Any person can do that and can meet those goals and if they met those goals, they have to tell themselves, good job. But that doesn’t guarantee that the rest of the family will get along with you because they have emotions, experiences, busyness, and their own challenges going on.

Someone might have a long-term goal of adopting from a country and double this process goals to get in and this would be heartbreaking, which has happened to people I know, just as they’re ready to start the adoption that country closes down in terms of adoption and you can’t adopt in that country anymore. Now, that means that they should not be telling themselves “Oh I failed,” because they actually succeeded with the outside influences that did not lined up.

It’s also important because sometimes, it turns out that the long term goal is wrong. But the pursuit of goals usually put us in the right direction even if the long-term goal was wrong. For example, I worked hard through high school to get into medical school. Where I come from; you would go straight to the medical school out of high school. But I took a year off and then decided to take some college classes and in taking college classes, I discovered psychology. I found out that I didn’t want medical school. It would put me on a track that’s not who I am and my core values lined up much better with becoming a psychologist.

Now, a lot of the hard work I had done and all the process goals I’ve been working through in order to get into medical school, they were not wasted because that hard work is what got me good grades, maybe a good student, allowed me to get a scholarship. Now, later on, resulting in getting a good graduate school that paid me rather than me paying them and got me a great psychology education and here I am as a psychologist. It’s much better go through that process than if I had not pursued medical school.

So if a long term-goal is not correct, it doesn’t necessarily matter that much. It usually irons itself out in the process. As long as we focus on those process goals and we meet those process goals then we usually made progress towards the goal we eventually end up having as the correct one anyway.

Andrea: I love that. Yeah, I’ve set about a lot that before and a lot of times people really do, they get very, very upset. They feel like they were going down the wrong path because they switch goals. But in the end, I’m thinking “But you’re taking steps, you’re in movement. You’re making some sort of progress but you just change the direction.”

So I really appreciate that especially for these new year’s resolution that maybe they’re not about long-term calling and finding your job that you want to do and things like that and you just want to lose weight or you just want start take a course or create a course or whatever. But as you take steps toward it, you really get more clear about what that long-term goal really is. Yeah, you need that motivator at the beginning to say “Well, I have a vision for where I’m headed. That vision might change but at least I’m taking steps towards it.” I love that.

Dr. Espen Klausen: Now, that final goal gives us a reward, something that turns out to be very helpful. The very hard for people who tends to deny themselves things is when they have process goals and they meet those process goals, it benefits people to have self rewards in the process that they’ve planned for, “Oh once I’ve exercised three times a week for five weeks in a row, I’m gonna go out for Chinese.” Or “Hey, I want that new shirt.” A little bit more money than usually you want to spend but, “If I’ve gotten two pages written a day on my book for the next three weeks, I’ll buy that shirt.”

It makes it easy for the brain to keep that shorter term focus and getting things done each day and it’s not about that reward being worth the work. It’s a way of helping our brain understand that “Hey, I am appreciative of the work I am doing.” I might sound really weird, but as adults, we actually become our own parents. One of the biggest mistakes I see people make with this is they earned their rewards and then they’re like “Yeah, but we shouldn’t spend the money,” or “I shouldn’t spend that time. I should spend on this other thing that someone else’s need or that might kids’ need,” and they end up denying themselves. What people don’t realize is our brains learn whether we can trust ourselves or not.

Andrea: That’s interesting.

Dr. Espen Klausen: Yes. When we don’t ourselves the things we promised ourselves as rewards, we start having a harder and harder time motivating ourselves because our brain actually doesn’t trust ourselves.

Andrea: Yeah, that’s really a valuable piece of information right there.

Dr. Espen Klausen: When I have kind of reward program when I work with kids, usually their rewards are not that big. The rewards are just a way of making something concrete, something they can touch and see that clues the words of good job or “Hey kid, keep going. You really got this,” or “I’m really proud of you.” It really helps sink in that my words are not empty. They’re not just the things I’m saying, I really mean it as proven by the sticker I gave you even though that sticker cost like 1 cent. It just makes it more powerful for the brain that “Hey, it’s really true.” The same thing goes when we reward ourselves even if it’s in a tiny way, even if it’s a tiny chocolate piece, it sends that signal to the brain that “Yes, I really do mean good job and it did make progress and I should keep this up.”

Andrea: Interesting! Yeah and it sounds like those rewards need to be appropriate and not go overboard, I guess. I think I’m going to go have Chinese and then have ice cream and then have some chocolates. Probably it isn’t the right idea but…

Dr. Espen Klausen: Yeah, because I skip a hundred calories this morning.

Andrea: Oh man that’s really, really good and helpful. OK, Espen, so in closing, I’d like to ask one more question about the choosing of that long-term goal, because most of us when we say New Year’s resolution, we do have a long-term goal in mind, and yet, we sometimes choose the wrong thing. So what do you recommend that we do to make sure that we are at least starting out on the right path with the right long-term goal, even if it kind of shifts in the process? Yeah, how do we choose the right one?

Dr. Espen Klausen: Dig down into those core values. Try to figure out what are your core values. Most people should be able to, with a liberal work, get together a list of between five or eight core values and then really look at those and ask yourself, “Which one is missing in my life? Which one at some point did I put aside? Which of these is not given the attention it needs?” That’s the one you’re most likely to be motivated by and it’s the one that’s most likely to have the biggest effect on you if you make progress towards it. That’s the one that’s going to be most likely to reduce depression and anxiety. It’s the one that most likely to make you less focused on any physical or emotional pain in your life. It’s the one that’s most likely rejuvenate you to make you more enthusiastic and receptive parent, employee, employer, writer, or artist; meeting the least matched core value is where you’re most valuable long-term goal is going to be.

Andrea: That’s great! Love it! Thank you so much, Espen, for sharing your wisdom with us. We’re ready to kick off this New Year with really great start on our resolutions and goals and process goals, we won’t forget those in rewarding ourselves with lots of good jobs!



3 Practices to Help You Get Ready for 2018

Episode 35

Do you put forethought into how you want to show up to a conversation or do you spend more time worrying about how the conversation went, afterwards? In my experience, it’s more common for people to regret the way we came across in the past than plan for how we will show up to the future. If you don’t want to have regrets about 2018, listen to this episode and integrate these three practices into the end of 2017 so you can show up to 2018 as the no-regrets YOU you want to be.

Play here (the red triangle below), on iTunes, Stitcher or TuneIn Radio (Amazon Alexa) or wherever you listen to podcasts.


Why Strong-Willed Kids Make Great Entrepreneurs with Kirk Martin of Celebrate Calm

Episode 34

Kirk Martin is the founder of Celebrate Calm and he has taught over 600,000 parents and teachers around the world to stop defiance, yelling, and power struggles with strong-willed children. Now, I don’t know about you but when somebody wants to have an influence in the world as a leader, I think that a lot of leaders raised these strong-willed children. So we’re going to really benefit from his practical strategies. They are life-changing and laugh-out-loud funny.

Mentioned in this episode:

Play here (the red triangle below), on iTunes, Stitcher or TuneIn Radio (Amazon Alexa) or wherever you listen to podcasts.


Hey, hey! It’s Andrea and welcome to the Voice of Influence podcast. And today, I have Kirk Martin on the line.

Andrea: So thank you so much for being with us today, Kirk!

Kirk Martin: I’m excited to be here, Andrea, thanks for having me.

Andrea: Well, Kirk, we have actually purchased a number of his CD’s where he gives really practical advice about raising strong-willed kids and those things were so hopeful to us and we ended up even having a phone call with him and consulting with him in our own parenting. So I can’t even begin to tell you how impactful Kirk is in the lives of parents and kids.

So, Kirk, I would love for you to share with the audience, like how did you get started with Celebrate Calm? What was the initiating factor, like what was the origin story?

Kirk Martin: You know, I wasn’t looking for this as probably most people find out in their second careers. I was a corporate business guy and my son, Casey, was struggling in school and he kept actually getting kicked out of schools. So I would go and I volunteer time in his classroom and what I discovered was, I was really good at working with the kids who were alternative learners, who kind of had different learning styles. So I started reading and reading and reading and all about different ways to help these kids and so there was a little bit of a professional transformation as far as learning.

Anyway, I was in his classroom and teachers kept saying “Hey, Mr. Martin, are you gonna come back tomorrow?” And I was like “I have a fulltime job; I can’t come to your class every day.” But I was finding that the little strategies I was coming up with my son were working with other kids. So that was one part of it and then there was personal transformation of realizing, because I always thought that my son was the problem because he was just difficult and obstinate and he just wouldn’t do what I wanted him to do.

I used to spend all of my time trying to change him until I finally realized, I was the one who needed to change, so there’s this whole transformation. And so I was still working a fulltime job and I had an idea that I wanted to work with these kids because these kinds of kids are often labeled…they’re very misunderstood and we often take them to therapy which is fine, but I wanted to have kids in my home.

We actually invited kids. We’d have 8, 10, to 15 kids in our house so I could teach them how to control their emotions and their impulses. Honestly, it started with a passion just for helping kids and I got fired from another job which was kind of my pattern. I remember calling my wife and saying “Hey, guess what, we could work fulltime with the kids now because I don’t have a job.” And I liked it because I was like “Sure, no adventure but wives for some reason really like stability.” She wasn’t a huge fan over the first but anyway it was really, as I guess most of your listeners will find, it was born out of passion more than kind of like a calculated “I’m going to set out to do this.”

Andrea: How did you let people know that you were doing it? Did you just spread it by word of mouth? How did people know?

Kirk Martin: When we started to do these camps, the idea was to have kids in my home where I could control the environment, right? So I want a place where kids felt comfortable so we’d have Legos all over the floor. Most of the kids would come in and right away they’re like “Oh there’s Legos, I feel at home.” It was almost like a version of play therapy in that sense where the kids didn’t know we were working on their behaviors. They were just coming to have fun; I call it a “venture camp, Lego camp.”

We lived in a little subdivision and they had a little community newspaper. I remember very distinctly, it cost me $6. I put a little ad and it said, ADHD Camps and it said “Build confidence and social skills,” and I had my phone number and email address. I told my wife, I was like “Nobody is gonna call. It’s not a big deal,” and we started getting calls and I was like “Oh man, what are we gonna do? Like I don’t really _____ now I have to do it?” So I went online and through a little internet website company, I built my own website one night for $9.99 and I just started replying calls from people and emails saying “Oh yeah, well here’s what we do with the camps.”

Honestly, I was just swinging it and people started showing up at my house and I was like “What am I gonna charge them?” I hate to sound like this but I didn’t have like a well thought out, I just know that if I jump in and started doing it, which is the way that I do things, it would work out and I would figure it out as I went along. I know there are some people who don’t work that way and they will over think it and wait and get like 18 different degrees and certification. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s not just my thing. I wanted to jump in.

So one Saturday morning, we ended up having seven kids come to my house; I’m like “OK, so let’s start doing this.” So then after that, it was such a unique concept that no one else was doing that word of mouth spread of like “Oh my son is going on Saturday morning _____ house, he’s teaching him on impulse control and controlling his emotions and this week, we noticed a difference in him.” And the funny thing is in the second summer, because I would do this thing on Saturday morning and then I started doing on Tuesday evenings, so I said “Dinner camps bring your kids, I’m going to eat dinner with them and teach them all kinds of stuff while we’re eating dinner and playing afterwards,” and it was Thursday night.

In the summer, I would take my vacation from my regular job and do weeklong camps. And the second summer, we have kids flying in from Europe and I have kids flying in from all over the country. I didn’t have any qualifications to speak of except that I really get the kids and what I was doing was working so hopefully that doesn’t work by too many people.

Andrea: No, I think that’s really fascinating because you had a solution to a very real and practical problem and it was working. That is the heart of entrepreneurship I think.

Kirk Martin: Right. It’s finding a real need that people had and then a creative solution and part of it was being true to myself because in early days, I fought against “Oh, I don’t have my masters. I don’t have my PhD.” And people were like “Oh do you have masters in psychology or education?” I was like “Nope, international business,” there you go and so I used to be really defensive, you know, as you would expect. But what I found was, I just had to be true to myself and not do things the way everybody else did it because that never works for me.

If you ever come to one of our live events, you will find my speaking style, you would either love it or you’ll absolutely hate it. But I remember going to a Toastmasters to learn how to talk and speak publicly and what I found was it’s _____. Every single person in there spoke the same way and I do the wrong things. I speak really fast and I don’t give breaks for people to process information. And people try to change me for a long time and what I realized was, people like what we do because I’m very authentic even if sometimes it’s a little bit odd and weird.

Andrea: Yeah! I think that’s absolutely true for you and for probably for everybody. Did you know that about yourself? You said you were kind of defensive at first when people would question you, but did you just know that about yourself or did you just feel like “There’s no other way, I just have to be this way. It’s just the way it is.” How did you figure it out?

Kirk Martin: You know when you jump in, you just have to go for it and you just have to say, “OK, I know I can’t answer…” Some people you won’t satisfy because they want to know, you have those qualifications and it’s determining who you are and who you want to help and knowing you can’t please everyone and focusing on your strengths instead of trying _____ the weaknesses. One of my early decisions was, I could go back to school and I could go get my masters, but I kept thinking, I’m not sure I’m actually going to learn that much from books.

So what I decided was instead of spending that time in a college classroom just getting a degree to say I had a degree, I begin volunteering my time in different classrooms in schools literally all across the country. And I just contact them and say “You don’t have to pay me but I’d love to come and observe the classroom.” And I would give the teachers some written ideas when I leave about how she can help or he can help. So I always tell people instead of spending time in a classroom and getting masters degree, I spend time in literally hundreds of classrooms getting that very practical experience and stories.

Now, I can’t quantify this but I believe I trained more teachers across the country than anyone else and they’re all more qualified. I don’t have master’s degree or PhD and yet they love it because they can tell I’ve actually been in classrooms.

Andrea: That makes a huge difference knowing that someone has actual real life experience. I’m not against degrees by any means but whoever you are influencer listening, whoever you are and whatever you’re like, listen to this because this is really empowering I think for any of us. And it’s also really important I think your comments, Kirk, about getting into it and when you’re in it then you have to figure it out and taking action. It’s risky to do that but at the same time, if you really care about it, which it sounds like you really cared about it, you just go for it.

Kirk Martin: That’s my personal style, jump in, figuring out. Now, my wife is completely opposite. So she has gotten her master’s degree in social work and counseling but that’s who she is, right? So part of it is knowing who you are and what your risk tolerance is. I had back then a very high risk tolerance. Look, part of this is your personality. I like being different and I don’t want to do things the way other people do it. In fact, one of my weaknesses, and I’ll share this, people always tell me “Oh, you need to check out this guy’s stuff. You need to check out this lady’s stuff. They’re really good. They’re in the same field.”

A lot of times, I will not look at their stuff. Now, I do sometimes because I can learn and I’ll still some of their best ideas which is part of all of this just learning from other people. But what I get really afraid of is I’ll see someone else and think “Oh, I need to do what they’re doing.” And I’m really cautious about that because it has never worked for me when I try to do things the way other people do it. I have to be really authentic and I have to just do what’s right for my kind of learning and teaching style.

Andrea: I personally can really relate to that into your desire to be different and not even the desire, it’s almost like you can’t help it. There’s no way that you’re going to be able to go down the path that everybody else goes down. Yeah, I feel that way too and I think that I actually can relate too. I don’t know if it’s the same thing but I also feel like I can’t fill my mind with other voices because I wouldn’t be able to hear my own. Do you ever feel that way?

Kirk Martin: Yes and I’ve struggled with that honestly because I know I’m continually learning. I read a lot about brain science. I read a lot of brain psychology but I try not to work too much at other people in what they’re doing. I try to learn from them but I’m afraid of getting sucked in to that comparison thing of like “Oh, they do so much better. They’re doing this.” There’s some of it which I think which I think you identified is knowing what your voice is and what your unique message is.

I think we’ve been able to sustain this and grow this for a long time partly because I’ve stuck to what you’ve just said is. I know who I am, I know my voice, I know the people I want to help and I can help, and I do that really, really well but I try to keep things very simple. We fail a lot so we try a lot of ideas. And again, this is probably a different question but it plays to be an entrepreneur. We try things but if we notice right away it’s not working, we move out of it very quickly so that’s part of learning to be yourself and not try to do what other people are doing.

Andrea: That’s awesome! OK, I want to get in to what you teach a little bit too. But before that, I know you have talked so much about you and Casey (Casey is your son), you’ve both been so open about the struggles that you each faced. So my question for you is did you always include personal stories about Casey? And what did he initially think when you started doing that and how did that come about?

Kirk Martin: Hmmm, good question. I think I started with personal stories about myself and my own transformation. You know, part of it was my dad who was military. So I grew up with kind of like the “My way or the highway, who’s gonna do what I’m tell you to do?” So it began with me being vulnerable about my own issues and that continues to this day and I think again that’s one of the things that people like is I’m not a professional in a lab coat telling them what I read about theory. They’re relating to a real parent, not just a dad, but a parent who gets to really irritated when kids don’t do something, and who struggles with issues.

Again, that’s just me. I’m a pretty vulnerable person. I don’t know that I’m anymore secured than anyone else but it’s who I am and I found that people really like those stories. And you know, I would ask Casey in early days, I’m like “Are you OK, if I share this?” And he was like “Sure, dad. It’s fine.” He grew up with this so when we started having kids over to the house; he was a little kids still. You know, kids come over to the house on Saturday morning and he’d be sleeping and kids would run upstairs because they were in a house and it wasn’t a big house.

It’s a little townhouse. They would run up to his bedroom and wake him up and he’d be like “Dad, it’s Saturday. Come on, I’m a teenage, why these little kids? Why all these stupid kids in my room?” And I didn’t mean it like him calling them stupid but of course he thought that. But overtime, he actually started working in the camps partly because he was free labor, but also because it was a family mission, right? They were coming into our home and so he learned all of this firsthand from working with different kids.

When he started going out on the road speaking with me, I think he just followed my lead and started being open about his own struggles. It was just kind of a natural evolution of the way things worked but nothing was really calculated. Whenever I tried to calculate things or really try to like “OK, here’s an opportunity, we need to exploit.” It never really works when I do that. It only works if it’s kind of a natural evolution of who we are as people and our experience.

Andrea: I love that idea of following the experience and letting it play out but at the same time, it’s hard to do. And I think, again, this going to go back again just being able to listen to that inside of you and know when it’s time to do what. I think often we get very confused and we get, I don’t know, like our mind gets clouded. I love that.

Kirk Martin: No, I’ll add this. You know, you run down a little path and eventually find out “OK that’s not working, that’s not me.” So you don’t always have to have a clear answer. It makes a little bit of faith in this; I mean my relationship with God is really important to me. So I ask but I don’t really hear like “Hey, Kirk, here’s what you’re supposed to do tomorrow,” like I don’t hear audible voices. Sometimes, I just run with stuff and then I figure out pretty quickly “OK, there’s nothing there. It’s not resonating with people. It’s not resonating with me.”

I’ve been doing this a long time now so it’s easier to deal with the uncertainty of knowing. There’s still doubt within the past two years. I’ve had times where “Why isn’t anybody asking us to come speak?” I’m 51, like in your 50s it’s like your prime years of influence. I’m really good at what I do. I’m in the most confident I’ve ever been and yet sometimes you go through this dry spells and was like “Doesn’t anybody love me anymore, doesn’t anybody wants me to come speak?” You always have the self doubt and then you just keep plugging on, plugging on, you know going on and then all of a sudden now you get invited too much and you’re like “I’m tired of travelling.” So I think it just comes with the nature of being an entrepreneur.

Andrea: I know that you’ve mentioned before that entrepreneurship can be good for strong-willed kids. What is the connection that you see between being a strong-willed kid and the experience that you’ve had as an entrepreneur?

Kirk Martin: Uh, do you have all day? It’s funny because I think I came up with this idea in between you asked me to be on here. But we’re going to revive those camps again and start doing some entrepreneur camps for kids. It’s not wanting to follow the normal path, right? It’s a strong-willed child who is contrarian and kind of oppositional by nature. If you ask them to do something, their first question is “why?” Because they want to figure out a different way, they want to figure out context. They’re not afraid to break the rules a little bit. They are curious. I think they’re risk takers by nature a little bit because they kind of don’t mind not fitting in. They almost like being a little bit, I don’t know, weird.

I have an aversion to anything that’s really popular in pop culture. I will not participate in, even if it’s really cool. I just don’t like it. I don’t like it when everybody else is doing something. I intentionally would not see that movie and it’s because I’m a jerk, although I’m a jerk by nature, a little bit sarcastic, but I like my own path. They often don’t follow social conventions and this is really interesting because they often have an attitude of like “Well, who cares that you don’t do it that way?” And I think in my own experience “I’m not qualified.” I don’t think it’s arrogance, I hope not, because I try to be a humble person but there is a certain amount of like “OK, so I’m not qualified, so what? I think I can do.”

So it’s this borderline like arrogance, but also I found most of these kids also have a great deal of humility and they have big hearts, the ability to hyper focus. So these are kids who if they’re not interested in school work, something that should take 15 minutes, will drag out and take three hours. But if they’re interested in their video games or Legos, they can play for literally hours at a time.

I think in many ways, the way that their brains are wired and the way their personalities are formed just make some very uniquely position to become entrepreneurs. Honestly that’s one of the new big focuses that we’re going to have is instead of joining camps where I’m working on kids behavior and trying to fix the negatives, I wanted to switch and accentuate the gifts, accentuate the strengths that they have and then show them how to use it. All of these qualities make them very difficult to teach and it makes it difficult for them to succeed in school, but ironically it’s the very qualities that make them uniquely qualified or positions to do really well _____ dynamic.

Andrea: OK, so how are you going about this? I’m curious because I have a kid that I think would be a great fit for this kind of a thing. I’m curious, what’s your plan, is it your Saturday camps or is it a weeklong thing? Tell us about the structure of it?

Kirk Martin: Well, this is in the formation, so it’s a little bit odd to be sharing this. I’m not doing it to do like a little commercial for our thing but hopefully it’s interesting for people.

Andrea: I’m curious.

Kirk Martin: I’m curious too to see how it unfolds to be honest because I’ve wanted to do this. I recently read a newsletter that I wrote in 1999, and in it, I mentioned that one day I would like to have a school of entrepreneurship for the kids who don’t fit into the school system and who fall through the cracks. And so for years, everybody was like “When do you starting that school?” I’m not a great process kind of person, so there’s no way I would ever start like a charter school. I don’t do bureaucracy; I’m not doing all of that.

So I kind of let it go and I just read that and I was like “Now, it’s 18 years later and this is coming because in my own personal life where I live, I mentor kids.” I met a kid at a Chic-Fil-A once and I stopped in there to do a little bit of work before I had to do this speaking thing. I saw this kid and I watched them and I listened the way he was speaking to customers. So when there’s a break, I went up and I said “You’re gonna own your own business one day, aren’t you? He was only 17, and he was like “Yes sir, that’s my goal.”

And I said “Oh you’re gonna do it. If I could invest in you right now. Here’s what I see, you’re gonna start your own business. You’re gonna fail at the first one or two just because you’re young and that’s what you need to do. But eventually, you’re going to learn from your failure and you’re going to hit it big. So if I could invest in you like I invest in a stock, I would put a lot of money into you.” I got to meet his parents.

So I started mentoring kids because I’m not good at a lot of things but I’m really good at seeing inside of kids and what they’re capable of. So initial idea that we’re going to kick off is doing some boot camps during the school year with their weekends. So the kids come for Saturday and a Sunday. We’re not going to sit in a classroom. I already have locations scouted where we can do hiking trails and so we can get out and learn nature because these kids don’t like sitting at classrooms and we’re going to meet with local entrepreneurs.

So a lot of cool areas now where you can stay in a hotel that is near walking trails and also like in a little square where there are all these businesses. I want them to meet other entrepreneurs to get a sense of, to feel the passion and what drives them and to see how hard it is to do with. So it’s going to be very experiential and then we’re going to have some diagnostic to identify their gifts talents and passions.

And then honestly, I want kids around each other _____ kids to get together and I want to come up with an action plan. So each of these kids leaves each weekend with “Hey, I’ve got three or four ideas of ways to make money, to do service projects to internships. My son will be teaching them to qualities of successful people and a lot of great books. If you’ve ever read the Millionaire Next Door, it talks about the essential qualities of a millionaire. It’s not really about the money; it’s about the qualities that they have.

Initially, we’re going to do this little weekend boot camp in different parts of the country. And part of it will me training the parents, because when you have a child like this you have to make some really courageous decisions, whether you’re going to try to _____ him into the current school system or whether you’re going to say “Maybe we have to do this a different way because this child is so different.” And then eventually we’ll get into doing longer summer camps.

Honestly, I’m about to announce it probably within the next week or so. It’s kind of cool and it’s really exciting.

Andrea: It super exciting. I love it and I’m so excited for you. So one of the things that I’ve heard you talk about that really resonated with me is the idea of transferring our anxiety onto our kids that definitely resonated with me because a few years ago, I was really struggling with the anxiety and I saw how I was doing that. It just made so sense to me and I hated that. So would you share with us what that concepts means and I think it applies to any relationships whether it’s kids or spouses or people you work with or whatever. So what does it mean to transferring anxiety?

Kirk Martin: I’ll take it as a parent. You look at your child and for most of us especially who have strong-willed kids who aren’t living up to their potential, right? Because you look at this child and you think she’s so bright, she’s so capable, and yet she’s not applying yourself. She’s capable so much more. She’s not living up to her potential and so we get anxiety because we begin to think how will she be able to be successful in life? What’s going to happen? You know, you can take it deeper of like “What’s wrong with me as a parent? Am I doing something wrong? Why is it my child is working harder, what is wrong?

And so all of these anxieties about our child’s future, about our own job as a parent and now we begin to dump that on the child and start to lecture them and we begin to micromanage them. I think people identify with this, the more that you care about something as a parent, the less your kids do and the more they resist. I believe as a parent my number one enemy is my own anxiety over my child’s future because it causes me to literally micromanage their lives for them and get on them so much.

It is anxiety because I don’t know what to do with you and it fills all out of my control. I need you to step up and start caring more about your school because I care about your school and I need you to do well at school. So you’ll be successful so I’ll feel good as a parent like I’ve done a good job and you can feel that weight. And that weight is too cumbersome for me to bear as a parent, because I can’t be responsible for the happiness or success of another human being. I can’t carry that and then when you sense all of that weight of our expectations is now being born by a 7 year old, a 10 year old, or a 15 year old, it’s too much for them to bear and that’s what causes the power struggles. I don’t know if I explained that well.

Andrea: Yeah. I don’t know. I can see how what you’re saying is that they fight back on that. They push back on that especially the strong-willed kids.

Kirk Martin: Well, they need to own it. They want to own their choices and their decisions and they want to do it their way, which is a good thing, right? It’s a good thing; it’s just a very difficult thing. It’s a really hard process.

Andrea: I know you go into such great detail about this with the resources that you have available which will definitely make sure that influencer listening will be able to find this on the show notes. But yeah, they push back and I’ve seen it myself that I am more or less just sort of not worried so much that I let them be who they are, that I let them make their mistakes and let them sense and feel their failures that I don’t have to carry that weight for them either. That it’s OK for them to feel those things and then I can pull back a little bit more and they can make more of their own decisions on it. Definitely, it seems to be going generally better.


Kirk Martin: You know, one great _____, Andrea, for me is as a respect issue. So one of our phrases is when we step back as parents, it gives kids space to step up and be responsible for themselves. So the way I look as respect of “I’m going to step back because I respect you enough to believe you’re capable of handling this yourself.” It’s just a great phrase to tell anybody.

Andrea: Would you just say it again because that was so good.

Kirk Martin: I respect you enough to believe that you’re capable of handling this yourself and then you have to walk away from it and let them touch the hot stove and feel and figure it out. Because one of the beautiful parts of that is you’re respecting them as a person, you’re giving them some space to fail and to know it’s OK to struggle. To me there’s a dignity issue.

There are two different ways; “I’m going to ride you and remind you and lecture you and micromanage you because I’m going to make sure that you’re successful, but I’m going to make sure you do it my way because my way is always the right way,” and it never work to a strong-willed child, versus saying “You’re smart, you’re capable, you’re independent, and I know you can handle this on your own and I trust you to learn from the inevitable failures that you make and I’m giving you the dignity of learning this. The dignity of having that satisfaction of knowing I’ve overcome struggles, I’ve overcome challenges and I’ve been successful.”

When we micromanage our kids, we really rob them of that satisfaction because in essence what they’re saying is “Mom, you kind of made me successful. You did this for me.” It’s just really hard as a parent to watch your child struggle and fail but if they’re going to be entrepreneurs, it’s a key part. This business is only successful because I failed really badly, wildly at my previous business kind of self-employed business venture that I did. I owe the success of this to the previous failure and I think that’s how a lot of our kids and a lot of us learn best.

Andrea: OK, now we are in the midst of the holiday bliss, right? It can be the most stressful of the year with all of the pressure that we have to delight our kids, to delight other people, make the season magical, at least that’s how I feel; I definitely want that for my kids. But then there’s also the pressure that can come with all the family expectations and gatherings and if you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve got the end of the year stuff going on too. So what would you say, Kirk, to the influencer listening who really wants to stay calm over these holidays and actually enjoy it but they’re finding themselves caught up in this pressure? What kind of advice do you have for them as they relate to their kids, spouse or colleagues, or even an audience?

Kirk Martin: I just jotted down three things quickly. Taking care of yourself first and not worrying, because I’m like you, I love kind of like the whole magical thing and I want to be there’s snow in places even now I live on the coast of North Carolina and it’s never going to happen. You want that whole romantic idea of like “Oh, it’s gonna be a wonderful Christmas.” Probably this is for anytime of the year is taking care of myself first and not worrying about trying to make other people happy. I don’t mean that a selfish way, it just means I can’t carry that load.

So if I want people to be happy during the holiday season then I’m going to be happy and I live with joy and I notice the little things and I’m excited by the simplicity of it and the beauty of it and that tends to rob of on people. It’s when we try to get them to enjoy it. You just need to be grateful because you have so much, right? When they don’t react the way we want them to then we get upset at them. You know what, it’s like when you take your kids to Disney, “You guys are going to have a good time at Disney World whether you like it or not.” You know what I mean, all this expectation so much of what we talked about. It’s about controlling myself and not other people.

And so controlling about my own expectations, I’m simplifying. Choose what’s really important during the holidays to you and then you’re just going to have to really focus and say “We’re not going to every party, we’re not going to every single event.” Choose the ones that’s right for your family. Those of us who have strong-willed kids and very emotional kids and get overwhelmed very easily and they can’t do it all. It’s just way too much.

I’d set expectations even before the holidays as much as you can of like what are the three things that are most important for us to enjoy Christmas and the holidays? What are those things? Let’s make sure we do those three things really well and the other things we’ll just say no to. You know what just hit me, just think how great modeling that is for your kids to know you can’t do everything, you can’t please everyone else. You know, learning to be assertive and saying “Hey family member, hey friend I know you invited us to this Christmas party, we really appreciate that and your friendship is really important to us; however, what’s best for our family right now is we need a couple of nights at home.” That’s hard to do, right?

Andrea: Yeah.

Kirk Martin: But that’s being assertive and honest and otherwise “It’s OK kids, we got to go at your Aunt Marge, we have to show up.” And there’s certain amount of that, right that in life you have to do things you don’t want to do. But when you’re doing that continually and you’re exhausted, you end up being resentful at everyone. So I love being able to model being gracious in saying no to people, because I remember my son when he was little, he just couldn’t do it being around a lot of people. And you know how it is there’s always bad food, there’s always a lot of Christmas cookies and so you have a tired kid and he’s hopped up on all the sugar and it’s just didn’t work. And even to this day as an entrepreneur, you have to simplify “No, this is what we’re good at doing. This is what we’re not good at doing and so we’re gonna focus on the main thing.”

Andrea: Such a great information and advice that you have for us today. Thank you so much, Kirk, for your time and you’re doing really good work in the world. So I thank you for your voice of influence.

Kirk Martin: Oh well, thank you for doing what you’re doing in helping other people. I’m glad to help anytime I can.

Andrea: Awesome!



Will You Stay Stagnant or Rise Up? with Lia Valencia Key

Episode 33

Lia Valencia Key was in elementary school when an injury kept her mom from being able to work and she ended up in a homeless shelter in Philadelphia. Her mom became concerned when she saw her daughter acting like the culture around her, so she sat Lia down and gave her a plain and hard hitting choice: would Lia keep heading down the path of least resistance and be like everyone around her or would she choose to rise above and be the person she aspires to be.

Years later, Lia is honoring her mom’s legacy and the choice she made to follow her dreams. After graduating college and then getting an MA in Education, becoming a world class cosmetologist and styling on air talent at QVC and around the world, she’s now pursuing her passion to inspire others in a new way. This is Lia’s amazing story of her new inspirational brand of jewelry, Valencia Key.


Hey, hey! This is Andrea Wenburg, and I am so glad that you’re here with me today on the Voice of Influence podcast. Today, I have Lia Key with me. And what’s really, really fun about Lia is that she and I met through a mutual friend who styled me. I went out to Philadelphia and I went shopping with Toi Sweeney and then Toi said, let’s do your hair and makeup and she brought in Lia.

I had a blast with Lia, so I’m so excited to get to introduce to you to her because her story and her passion, they really resonate with me and I think they’re going to resonate with you too. So I’m going to start by introducing her.

Lia Valencia Key has been a Dreamer, Believer and Achiever since her very humble beginnings growing up in the inner city of Philadelphia. Always following her inner voice to seek happiness and accomplishments, Lia rose above all inner city stereotypes and statistics by achieving her Masters degree in Education, becoming a Licensed Cosmetology Instructor, landing a styling position at QVC that opened the doors for her to become a personal lead stylist for Incredible Women Founders. CEO of major global beauty brands IT Cosmetics and TATCHA Skin Care. Lia has traveled the world following her heart and passion to marvelous countries such as Dubai, Egypt, China, Morocco, Thailand, Korea, Spain, Paris, Italy, Singapore, and Malaysia absorbing motivation, inspiration, love, light and happiness everywhere she lands. Lia’s next phase of her life journey is to share her empowering message to the world by creating an Inspirational Lifestyle Accessory Brand “VALENCIA KEY.”


Andrea: Lia, it is so good to have you on the Voice of Influence podcast!

Lia Key: So happy and excited to have this opportunity. Thank you so much!

Andrea: Yeah, it was really, really fun to meet you. While you were doing my hair and makeup, I basically interviewed you.

Lia Key: Yes. I loved it.

Andrea: Because I love hearing people’s stories and the more we dug in, the more fun it was. So I’m excited to have you here. Let’s start with where you are right now and then we’re going to go back. So tell me about Valencia Key, what is it all about?

Lia Key: So Valencia Key is an inspirational lifestyle brand. And what it means for lifestyle brand is I’ll be bringing these amazing pieces that I’ve dreamed and created or have inspired me throughout my travels around the world. It can come in forms of jewelry, handbags, anything that really excites in the fashion of a physical, addition to your appearance. But the heart of the brand is going to inspire people globally to achieve and believe and follow your journey because that’s what this whole brand is from, me believing and dreaming all of my life and just going after my heart’s desires. This will be a byproduct of another dream and another achievement. I’m just going to produce great physically, eye-attractive pieces for the world but they have special and empowering messages behind them.

Andrea: I love that. I love the deep meaning behind something so beautiful. I enjoyed wearing them. I got to wear necklace and a couple of bracelets and they’re so beautiful. I would love to hear the back story on this, Lia. I heard a little bit when we talked before, but tell me what it was like for you. You mentioned in your bio growing up in the inner city of Philadelphia. So when you were growing up, what was it about your experience that inspired you to reach for your dreams and be an achiever? Tell me about that?

Lia Key: I was blessed to have a support system. My mother, my grandmother, and my aunt who was very clear that just because you live in an environment does not mean you are of the environment. So I was talked to every moment of my life going through this _____ that we had that just because we’re here doesn’t mean that you have to be here and that you have to settle in this. So paired with my innate desire and then these beautiful women who may have dealt a challenge in hand, but they were still encouraging me that you know, “Go for your heart’s desire and follow your dreams.”

I’m so grateful to actually have the opportunity to live in a very low-income environment where, most people only see the environment around them, most people don’t think that they can do anything better than what they see and that I am blessed to have that drive and that mentality that I can. If you can say, I can then you will so I’m so grateful for that.

Andrea: Yeah. I’m wondering what it was like for you? Can you give us a snapshot of your childhood?

Lia Key: Just in my childhood, what I mean of low income I mean sometimes you don’t have food on the table. My mother broke her leg, which caused her severe break to where they had to put plates on her leg, which caused her not to be able to work. When she’s not able to work, she had to get public assistance. I have older sister and an older brother so a single woman with three children and not able to work, not because that she didn’t want to work and I think those are two different types of people, but she couldn’t work given her unfortunate accident that she had.

We were forced on public assistance and public assistance doesn’t give you enough to live totally a healthy life at least back when I was growing up. So we had to live in public housing. There was not enough food. You get the money once a month so it doesn’t stretch long enough, so there’s a week or two at the end of the month where you have literally no food so much that your stomach is churning on itself. You have to go find this lunch where they’re giving out food and get the little rations that they’re able to give you and you walk a mile to get that to the next point of her leg never got better. We weren’t able to pay the rent that we were living in and a decent environment to where we actually went to a homeless shelter.

So four people, there was my mother and the three of us in a square box room. But before you end up to the square box room, there were these open shelters where you go and all the women were on cots with their children. So there’s this mess room of women and cots and just buddied up on top of each other and that’s how you sleep and that’s where you eat. People are coughing and there were germs everywhere in this room and then finally you may elevate to this one box room where it’s no bigger than a closet and that’s where you sleep.

So coming from that journey, the beauty was my mother always encourages us to go to school, always encourages us to do our best in school, and always encourages us to get good grades. That’s really a hard thing to be a young child and experience these visual things, these physical things and then not eating and seeing all these things around you and still have to go to school and be affected. Still I have to go to school and get these grades that the school deems as achievable.

So my mother would always encourage us “You have to do your homework. You have to do this. You have to go.” So the beauty is that motivation was my inspiration. Finally, we were able to get into public housing and so that’s where you get your little home if you will. So you have people like my mother who has this ailment where she literally can’t walk but then you have people that don’t know any better and they don’t want any better, so they are just _____ profanity. They’re _____ with indecent behaviors and that’s all around you. That’s where you go to school with.

I remember going to school and my mother was packing me lunch and I go into the lunch closet and my lunch was stolen and that happened for weeks because I never told her like “I can’t tell my mother my lunch is stolen.” She barely had enough. You know what I mean; I can’t tell her that this is happening to me. And my mother had a talk with me because when you’re young, you’re either go to the path of what you see around you or you’re going to go the path of what you aspire to be.

So I was kind of leaning to where the path of what I see you know starting that talk in class and grades are slipping and I think this was around fifth grade. That elementary, fifth grade or fourth grade is the pinnacle part of development for children because either you have the basics or you don’t, either you know about being successful or achieving or you don’t or you won’t because after that phase is just uphill battle trying to _____ our mind because you’re starting to get into this preadolescence phase, which is we all know as even horrible.

So my mother had this very real talk with me and it was very stern and very hard. But I remember to this day and what I took from that is she said “Either you’re gonna be a follower or you’re gonna be a leader, and either you’re going to sit here and let people pass you by and stay stagnant and look around and be where you are, or you gonna choose to excel and rise above what you’re seeing and whatever you’re going.” And she was like “You basically choose because what you’re choosing now is to be a loser.”

As a fifth grader, you’re still young but that resonated with me so well and from that moment on; I was consistently on honor roll. I was the class president of the school. I went to all of these after school activity programs. I didn’t understand it but it was those very real talks to say “Basically, you decide. You decide your journey, you decide your future and it’s in your hands. Even as a fifth grader, it’s in your hands.” It definitely was in my hands and so I’m grateful for that.

As I carry throughout my life that’s the journey I lived. I believe in Christ who strengthens me but in conjunction with that, I decide. So my brand has a message that “I’m gonna give you these very beautiful pieces, because I think your external infects your internal.” I do believe that how you look and how you feel they’re very correlated and that’s why the message. That’s why it’s so awesome that I do want to bring these really cool pieces for people to wear. Because just put that little nice bag on your shoulder or a great pair of shoes or an awesome necklace on that just sparks a little more confidence in you, but the meaning behind it to me is so much powerful that “Where do you decide in your life?”

Andrea: Oh gosh, Lia, that’s so gorgeous. I love the story. I love your passion.

Lia Key: Oh thank you.

Andrea:   So there’s couple of things that came to my mind while you were talking that I wanted to ask. So first of all when your mom sat you down and told you that, you have this choice, do you think that you knew that ahead of time, you knew that you had a choice or what was it about her offering you that choice? If she would have just said, “Lia, you have to do this,” or you’re going to end up like that or whatever? I mean, if she would have told you, what do you think your inner response would have been?

Lia Key: I don’t think I would have got it. I think those real moments of her really painting the picture of “Here’s the path you’re going, loser. The environment around you, this is where you’re going and you choose which way you want to be.” As a fifth grader, I wasn’t clear that I was getting it that way but I was clear that I didn’t want to be a loser. In that statement, you know, and that harshness if you will versus someone saying “You better get good grades, you better get good grades.” “But why?” I think it would have been about why if it would have just been a straight statement of what you need to do. But the fact that she compared it to a very clear visual image, as a fifth grader, I can understand “I don’t want that.”

Andrea: When you say very clear visual image, was she showing you something or pointing people out?

Lia Key: She was talking about our life, like “Look what you’re in, look what you’re around. You’re around people who haven’t seen anything. You’re around people that are on drugs. You’re around people that have alcohol issues, or you’re around people that have no education that they dropped out of school. This is what you see when you walk out that door.” In our house, it was a safe haven. But as soon as you walk out the door, this is what you’re immersed in, “Do you want to do this? This is what I call a loser.”

She was in that predicament but she was still saying “Unfortunately, you’re moving to the path of what we have to live in at this moment. Do you want to choose that? Is that your choice because I can tell you at this moment that’s where you’re going by your behavior and by your grades, that’s where you’re going? So you decide if you want to be a leader or a follower if you want to excel or either you want to lose.”

That was just so visual to me because I can look around and I maybe young but I knew that this wasn’t good living. I knew that this wasn’t happiness. Maybe, I didn’t know anything different but I knew that this didn’t feel good what I was seeing. You know, children in an environment like that have no discipline. They are just wild and unruly, so you’re sitting in a class with children just yelling above and beyond. “So do you wanna stay back and still be in this environment or do you wanna to push forward and get into a high school that you can kind of choose your environment? What high school do you wanna to get into? You’re not gonna get into a good one if you stay on the path that you’re on.”

So those are very visual for me, and I’m a visual person and I love creating beautiful things. You know, from my education background there’s pedagogies and there’s different ways of teaching and so everyone learns differently. And I think she hit me right in the area where I’m able to learn.

Andrea: Yeah. I think so many of us do too then also just the choice instead of the shame. She wasn’t shaming you, she was saying this is what you’re headed towards if you don’t…yeah, I love that.

Lia Key: Me too. I’m grateful. I’m so grateful. I think my mother had a very challenging life and you know she wasn’t able to get out of it if you will but you’re able, if possible, to try to break cycles and you’re able to try to tell people that are coming up under you differently. My gratefulness is that I was able to hear it and receive it. But just because someone’s telling you something does not mean you’re able to receive it so I am so grateful that I was hearing it and slowly receiving it.

Andrea: Oh man, this is so good. I think that for the person that’s listening right now, the influencer that’s listening; I mean do you hear all this, because this is about real communication. It’s about a message that actually pierces somebody’s heart, and even though it’s harsh, it ends up bringing out life and calling out life. I love this. So Lia, when you think about putting on something, you’ve been talking about putting on this jewelry and sort of making you feel confident and that sort of thing, what kind of things do you remember putting on as a kid after you made that decision “No, I’m gonna be a leader.” How did that become even more visual for you? How did you continue to put on things?

Lia Key: I’ve been creative. If you saw young pictures of me there, it’s quite interesting. I always love to express myself just purely. I never have the drive to follow in the norm and I think it was very pinnacle after fifth grade when I was like “Oh yeah, I’m gonna be me and me wants to succeed. But me just doesn’t wanna succeed, but me wanna do me in all forms of life and me wants to be happy in all forms of life and what that feels like to me.” So externally, me was orange-white shirt or me was neon something.

So I was very nontraditional but that’s how I felt. I felt bright inside. I felt expressive inside and so I would dress and express it. Me was not all black, you know. Me is not conforming to trends of everyone wearing the same sneakers if you will. Me was, oh my God, this _____ thick platform or something that’s very old school. I like that because me was very expressive and so that’s how visually I internalize who I was and just wear it on the outside as well as inside. So when you see me, you pretty much can probably get my energy before I open my mouth.

Andrea: I can attest to that even now.

Lia Key: So for my brand, you know, everyone has an expressive style. Everyone has a light in them. Everyone has some joy in them and so I want to position my pieces. Even if you’re a classy person and you’re not necessarily as visually expressive as I am but you always have a little light and you do always want to have some sort of expression. No want wants to be just bland and black, no one does. Everyone doesn’t know how to accomplish that effectively so they stay safe, right? I appreciate staying safe until you learn how to become effectively expressive.

So I want my pieces to provide that classic person or that safe person away to have just one little piece or two little pieces that in their safe visual moment they can pop on and say “Yeah, there’s my light that I’m putting to the world. Yeah there’s my expression. Yeah, there’s my passion. There’s my energy that I’m putting to the world.” And it’s comfortable enough to just be on a wrist, just lightly be on the neck, or just be over your shoulder, just enough. So you have your form of expression without outshining who you are truly which is a safe, more structured, more routine person. I never want someone to be outside of their box, but I also want someone to be able to tap into all their forms of who they are and that little light and energy is inside of everyone.

Andrea: Yes, I love it. I think that that is really, really wise statement, a wise vision for you to want to give people who like to play at safe a chance to do something small and put on something small that would still tap into who they are and that beauty, that light, and that joy that they have to offer. What do you think it does to somebody when they put it on? What do you think goes on inside of a person?

Lia Key: You know, it does a lot like you can have your favorite necklace on. Let’s say you’re going to an interview, everyone makes interviews a big deal, right? Because that’s when you need to be your strongest because you’re about to go in front of someone who’s going to critique you if you will, so you need all the energy support that you can get. You have your interview _____, right? It’s safe, I’m sure, but you need something because you need confidence in an interview. You need courage in an interview. So you grab your favorite necklace and that favorite necklace is that courage and support, that confidence, and that little piece that says “OK, I’m good” and it will sparkles to myself and to the person that’s looking at me.

So it’s a two-way street with these little visual traits because not only are you energizing yourself with whatever the piece looks like because you know what you put on “Yeah, let’s take that suit right to the next level.” And then by the way, it has a message to it “Yes, I am prosperous. Yes, it’s my divine right to be prosperous. So when I walk into this interview, it’s my divine right to nail it.” So that’s great for you but on the other side of the table, you walk into the interview and yeah you got to say _____ but you have this pretty little piece, very simple. The interviewer whether it’d be a man or woman says “She’s well-put together, and oh that little trinkets something about it, something about her whole construction is very into the theme of what our culture is but she grinds a little more to the table.”

So it’s this amazing two-way street that it’s confidence and assurance to both parties and their unconscious thoughts. No one is going to say that necklace did all of that. No one is going to make that bold statement but the truth is it does. Take the necklace off and have a bare neck and walk into the room bland and so then you have to work harder or you have to push a little more. But if you come in with just a little bit of interest, you’ve already elevated yourself from your personal vision because you looked in the mirror and say “Yes,” to yourself and then to the person at the opposite side that “Uh-huh she knows how to put it together, now let’s say what she has to say.”

A lot of people call it superficial. Visual is not superficial. Visual says that I care. Visual shows the world how I’m feeling today. Visual shows the world where my emotions lie because generally you’re wearing it as much outside as you’re wearing it inside. I think the real smart and strong and powerful people know how to visually make it right to let the world understand who you are even if you’re not feeling that way that day until you get to where you want to feel and that’s the only powerful way you can do that.

Do you ever sense when someone says “Oh you don’t look good today.” Well, that’s probably because you didn’t _____. Just because you don’t feel good inside, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have to look good because visually ready externally until you push that internal side to get to the status of where you visually brought it to.

Andrea: This is so deep. I mean, it is so deep because I think that I know that in my story, I really want to keep it real. I got to this point where I was like, and even when I was a kid, I did not want to put on anything visually because I wanted people to respect me for who I was on the inside, not how I look on the outside. But as I have grown and matured and live life more, I’ve realized that actually it does matter what I put on, that what I put on can call out of me something very real.

Lia Key: Yes, exactly. You ever heard the statement; you have to hang around people you want to be. So that statement means, maybe I want to be a CEO of a company, do I hang with secretaries? So if I want to be a CEO, I’ll try to put myself that I’m not a CEO by any means so internally I’m not that but if you put yourself in a place to where you want to be by theory of life, you will get there or darn sure close.

So the same thing with visual is, if I want to be something whatever I want to be, I don’t know. I want to be hippie, I want to be in a corporate, I want to be artsy, or whatever you want to be internally or whatever you want to feel confident, if I’m wearing slouchy, sluggish external appearance clothes or if that’s how I’m coming out to the word, then I only can stay sluggish inside. But if I come out in a poppy little necklace on, a poppy little bracelet on, or a poppy little bag on, I put on a nice but not too extravagant outfit together, now I have to rise to that occasion.

It’s like looking at a fruit, you know how the inside is because of the outside layer, it looks rotten you know. So how about, we polish up the outside and even inside is rotten if my outside is polished, I have to start healing with them.

Andrea: Interesting.

Lia Key: I mean that’s my thing in life. I’ve never claimed to be an expert of anything. I’ve never been one thousand of the best at anything but I decide to be it. I decide to be a master’s graduate and a teacher of algebra. I decided to be that then I decided that I was going to follow passion because I’ve always been artistic and to go into this beauty industry. And I decided that I was going to be in an environment where I can self-taught leaders and game changers. I didn’t start that way but I decided that and so I started from the external deciding it and internally, I started to have to make moves to get to where I want to be.

And all along with journey, visually, I had to bring something out when I decided to put myself in these places even though I had no knowledge when I said “OK, I’m gonna walk into this door of MAC Cosmetics.” Bare Essentials is my first place of makeup and cosmetics, so these are all visual places. I was not a great makeup artist. I was not; probably I would say I was horrible. But visually, I put myself together and probably took three hours to do my make up to make sure that visually when I walk in the door, I look like where my internal wasn’t ready for.

But because I put it together externally, I had to rise to that occasion when I was accepted into that group and make it match and guess what happened, it started to match. So we have to stop creating visual as superficial because it’s not. It’s way more powerful than what we give way to, and my journey is to just add little pieces to help you out on your internal and external journey throughout life.

Andrea: Do you think that your mom, giving you that choice back when you were in fifth grade, it seems to me like it gave you permission to aspire to be more and aspire to do more. I’m going to say that for me with my journey, I think I always look for permission where it might have been expected of me but I was really looking for permission to stand out because I didn’t want to alienate myself, whereas you’re a somebody who really did standout and you did from the beginning and you were okay with doing that visually.

So I think that one of the things that you’re offering people is permission.

Lia Key: Yes, yes! Great! That’s it. My brand is offering you permission to be your best to seek your own happiness and to find what that looks like to you. In my brand, it’s cosigning that it’s OK and if you are already in that place, because some people are already are, to celebrate it and to then inspire others to be. So it can be just continuous journey or permission to be awesome in a very humble, pleasant, gracious, and grateful way.

Andrea: Yes, I love that so much. Goosebumps all over my arms right now. Tell me more about prosperous. You mentioned, one of the things that your brand is communicating is being prosperous. I know that that is really a deep concept for you, so can you tell the influencer listening what that means?

Lia Key: So there’s a lot of inspirational brands out there; accessory brands, jewelry brands. There’s a lot in the market and normally, we choose words like hope. We choose words like faith. You know these safe words that are very obvious, right? They’re very clear and I love those words because you need faith, you need hope. These are very good words but my heart is pushing me to grab these nontraditional words that have so much power to them but have been truly misconstrued in the society.

So my first collection is entitled Prosperity, and that’s a real risky title to give the collection, Prosperity, because most people think of prosperity as money. When you ask people of prosperity, 910 they would say “How much money do you have, how many money did you make? Oh that person is really rich but in money.” I am pushing the statement that prosperity is one of the most powerful words that we can have in use but it’s nothing about money. It’s nothing about finances; it’s all about being rich in fulfillment. It’s all about being rich in achievement. It’s all about finding what your heart desires and moving toward accomplishing it and then accomplishing it and everything in between that takes you want that journey.

Prosperity is a life of joy, a life of happiness. That’s what prosperity is and there’s not one person on this planet that doesn’t desire prosperity. They may think of it as money because we’ve been told that it’s money. But they’re not desiring money, they’re desiring happiness. They’re desiring fulfillness, and they’re desiring joy. So my collection is stating that you have a divine right to be prosperous, everyone. Prosperity is individualized. My prosperity doesn’t look like your prosperity, your prosperity doesn’t look like what your daughter’s prosperity is going to look like, and they all are valid and we all should seek them.

We should all get on the question of mission to be prosperous because when I’m prosperous then I can share the joy of prosperity to you and then we live in this life of fulfillment and happiness in whatever face that looks like. Maybe it looks like love of family to you, maybe it looks like a healthy lifestyle to me, or maybe it looks like abundance and money to another person but we should be sharing this joy and this quest of achieving divine of prosperity so that we can share light and love to everyone that we connect with and help them on their journey.

Andrea: Where all do you want to share your message? I mean, have you thought about going into the schools and talking to kids and that sort of thing?

Lia Key: Oh yes. The beauty is I feel like this brand is just like a jumpstart to a travelling message honestly. So you actually stated exactly my vision. My goal is to encourage and touch as many people as possible be it you were the brand or you don’t. I want the message to travel so I’m interested in talking into schools and doing speaking engagements in groups of people who are already there and want to go further or groups of people who have no clue where to go. Yes, no clue that it’s possible to go anywhere and that my message can push them along.

So hopefully, I can get enough support with the brand and the pieces so that I can take this message to actually speak to as many people as possible that we can encourage a life of growing and greatness.

Andrea: Yeah, I’m excited for those kids, those people who are going to get to hear you speak because you bring an authenticity and energy, a creative visual positive spirit that like I said you’re giving permission. You’re giving people a choice and you’re saying what your mom said to you. You’re saying “Do you want keep hiding behind bland clothing or whatever it might be, and do you want to keep going that direction or do you want to put on the kind of clothing that’s gonna call out who you really are.”

And you know, clothing, jewelry whatever it might be, I’m just really excited for your message and for how you’re going to continue to really make a big difference in the world with your voice of influence. So thank you so much for being here today!

Lia Key: I totally appreciate it. Thank you so much for having me, it was an absolute joy!





Discover Your Design and Lead with Purpose

Episode 32 with Dr. Anthony J. Marchese

“Don’t you wish that babies came with owner’s manuals?!” We’ve all wish we could understand our kids, loved ones, friends and coworkers better at one time or another. But what about understanding ourselves? Maybe it’s self-awareness that can help us know what direction to go in life and how to communicate with others. In this interview, I talk with Dr. Anthony J. Marchese about how discovering our design helps us live a life of significance.

Dr. Anthony J. Marchese has over twenty years of leadership experience in corporations, universities, and churches. He is the author of DESIGN: An Owner’s Manual for Learning, Living, and Leading published by WestBow Press. Marchese is a corporate trainer, professor, and avid public communicator.

Find Dr. Marchese’s book here DESIGN: An Owner’s Manuel for Learning, Living, and Leading with Purpose

Play here (the red triangle below), on iTunes, Stitcher or TuneIn Radio (Amazon Alexa) or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Interview Transcript

Hey, hey! It’s Andrea and welcome to the Voice of Influence podcast. Today, I have on the line, Dr. Tony Marchese. He has written a book, a fabulous book called Design: An Owner’s Manual for Learning, Living, and Leading with Purpose.

Andrea:   I’m so glad to have you on the podcast today, Tony!

Dr. Tony Marchese: Oh it’s great to be here, Andrea. Thank you very much for the invitation.

Andrea: Yeah, and it’s particularly fun because we have a mutual friend. I had Doug Walters on the podcast a few episodes ago and he and you are actually working together. Can you explain what’s your relationship is just briefly?

Dr. Tony Marchese: Sure. Several years ago, Doug and I worked for a university in Charleston, West Virginia. He was the Dean of Students and I was the Assistant Dean of Students and then I ended up going over to the academic side. But we remain friends, and for many years, we did some consulting together where we go into nonprofit organizations as well as small to medium sized corporations to assist them with anything from HR to organizational design, organizational assessment, and executive coaching. So I worked with him for a long time and he’s a very, very good friend.

Andrea: OK. So you wrote this book and I know that you have a doctor degree in organizational leadership. So tell us about what that is exactly first before we go on.

Dr. Tony Marchese: Sure! My PhD is organizational leadership and I was toying several years ago between going for a PhD in philosophy or PhD in organizational leadership. And I felt like since my bachelors and masters were in the humanities so I wanted to do something that was a little bit more practical. So my area of interest is in the science of human motivation as well as positive organizational psychology.

So rather than viewing organizations and people as problem to be solved, I look at them as opportunities where there’s immense potential and there are immense opportunities. And if we look at what’s essentially right about us, those things at service differentiators and we really learn how to identify those things and develop them and apply them strategically, I think that we can make a major difference not only in our lives but also in organizations.

So that’s what my doctorate was all about and my practice for the past many, many years in my work has been kind of pretty at well aligned with that philosophy I guess you’d say.

Andrea: So you’re using this positive psychology and the things that you’ve learned to help organizations and be able to man better leadership and to be able to communicate better. What would you say are some of the top priorities when you come in to work with people?

Dr. Tony Marchese: Well, I think that many people have an approach where it’s guided by a deficit-based world view. I think that rarely does kind of proliferate our cultures. We’re always trying to identify what is essentially wrong and learn how to compensate for those weaknesses and for me it’s all different disciplines.

Currently, I work for a large international consulting firm that’s based out at DC. I live in West Virginia. I’m the Director of Learning and Development, so I’m essentially a corporate trainer, and I create the leadership and management curriculum for all of our 6000 plus employees worldwide. In terms of the rest of my career, I’ve done a great deal of consulting in medium to large sized corporations. Again, in all of those areas, I just been very interested in helping people understand kind of the intricacies of the self and to really identify those things at serve as differentiators and to develop those and to really learn to channel those strategically in various ways where people want to achieve.

It doesn’t mean that we are unaware of areas where we fall short. But I just kind of have lived my life according to the idea that when we try to compensate for our weaknesses and that’s the chief aim of our professional life, we become adequate at much but excellent at nothing and so that’s really not the approach that I take. I try to help people understand what’s right about them and how to really use that to create a personal brand in one in which they’re able to flourish.

Andrea: Obviously, I really love everything that you’re saying. I’m curious though, in a corporate setting, do you come up against any oppositions to this idea that we should be focusing on what’s right? I recently talked to somebody who is a manager of a small business and they were working with somebody else who had the same kind focus, this strength based kind of focus. He said it was really hard to shift gears because he grew up and spent most of his career in that mindset of “You got to fix what’s wrong, you got to fix what’s wrong.” It feels a little bit like we’re not going to fix what’s wrong then if we don’t do that. So how do you talk to somebody like that? How do you explain this to them?

Dr.Tony Marchese: Well, I think that’s a very common perception that people have, especially initially, when you’re not really adept or familiar with kind of that assets-based approach. I think that the transcending kind of principle, the overarching principle behind all of this is the idea of being self-aware. That can either be from a personal perspective as an individual but also from an organizational perspective. What does that mean to be self-aware? That is the number one thing and when you’re self-aware, not only you’re aware of your strengths but you’re also aware of those areas where you kind of fall short.

But if you’re really good, if you’re self-aware, you understand your reason for existence. You understand why you exist. You understand your chief function. You understand your values and you’re able to leverage those in various ways. So the idea of having a strength-based approach to working or to living does not mean that we ignore what’s essentially wrong, but it’s really kind of future focused rather than dwelling upon those areas that we fall short, we can really, really supplicate within that mindset in living a life or working in a profession immersed in that approach. It’s about identifying what the desired future really looks like.

In positive psychology, there’s this idea of disputation where you reinforce the positive. And as a result of that, the theory goes that the negative, those areas of deficit, where they’re applicable diminish. So it’s not ignoring what’s wrong but it’s making sure that we’re moving in the right direction that our values, our identity, and our true function are all aligned in that particular direction and it’s focusing in what we need to get there.

Andrea: Yeah, I love that quote in your book, “self-awareness is intimately connected to a positively _____ impact and that awareness that you help people to achieve, what’s kind of things are you helping them to become aware of?

Dr. Tony Marchese: One of the things that I do a lot is I work with corporate executives’ kind of an international basis. And the thing that I know that regardless of individuals success, I mean how much money they make regardless of what domain that they may find themselves professionally that they all bring baggage to the work place, everyone of us do that. Some of these bring more baggage than the others or baggage that maybe more potentially harmful to others around us than others.

It’s really important to be aware of our own liabilities and to be cognizant of how those can impact others within the organization. One of the things that I do talk about in the book is a lot of bad behavior that happens among leaders within the workplace has its origin on the playground when the not-yet leader was bullied or pushed down or no one would pick that individual to be a part of their team. They didn’t get invited to play tag and they were kind of in the shadows.

For many people, there’s an injury that occurs very early in life. And for most of us, we don’t really find healing. There’s sort of scar that’s left. Not necessarily an open wound anymore but it’s still there and there’s still sting. As we advanced in our careers, we become smarter and enjoy a more lucrative lifestyle from our earlier years. Unless we actively engage in that process of becoming more self-aware and being aware not only of the good that we bring to the workplace but also those areas that could cause damage or inflict harm then it’s probably going to happen in some degree.

So one of the things that I really try to do is for people in order to be able to move forward, in order to really excel as a leader, you need to start with the basics. You need to understand who you are and in all of the complexities that make up your identity. That includes some of those areas that aren’t so nice. It sort of like Plato’s Cave allegory which I used in the book and it’s often used in many different ways 2500 years after its initial publication.

I think that it’s the idea of being a attentive to what’s above and recognizing the shadow with black and white cavernous existence is one that’s not going to allow us to flourish. And it’s only through the arduous climb out of that cave, facing ourselves, coming out into the light, and being able to look around and see things not just as they appear but as they truly are in color and in multi-dimensions and that type of thing that we’re really able to see things as they are. And to really address who we are and what we bring to the table and to be cognizant again of those areas that aren’t so good. So it’s about being truthful with ourselves I think is one of the main themes.

Andrea: You know that’s interesting because we’re just talking about positive psychology and everything and a lot of times people’s perception of that is that you don’t even pay attention to these things that you’re just talking about the harder things. They’re kind of different too. But bringing those two things together just standing in the truth of who you are and being honest about it that is a really hard thing for people to do.

I’m curious about your experience in facilitating that for other people as they’re going through this process with you. Do you find that people resists going there? How does authenticity and transparency, which are two different things I realized, how do these things play into this process as they’re working through it?

Dr. Tony Marchese: As I speak across the country and as I write articles in different things, especially when I’m speaking in public, a lot of times people will come up to me afterwards and you can see on their face a look of brokenness. Because from many of these individuals, and if someone look at their life, they’d say “Well, they have everything.” They have a nice car. They live in a grand house. They really have wants of really nothing, and yet, it’d come to a point in their lives where despite all those things, despite checking every box that our society would say makes an individual successful and happy and make them content in many, many ways, they’re languishing.

Languishing is not depression. It’s also not flourishing. It’s sort of what one writer calls being wooden, kind of feeling hollow inside and so part of moving forward, part of being honest with ourselves is asking a question, “Is my life worth what I really thought it was going to be?” “Am I really making a difference?” Because I believe that inherent within human nature is that need to really contribute in whatever way is relevant to us to the evolution of the human race. When we’re not doing that, when we’re just living life in a transactional way, I think that slowly our soul begins to atrophy and we find ourselves longing for something more.

When we’re at that place of authenticity, of being aware, and of looking at ourselves as though in a mirror, I think it’s at that point when we’re really in a position in an assuming a posture where we can really make some changes.

Andrea: Yes. OK so you just mentioned a comparison, why don’t you go ahead and do this for me compare what it’s like, what is that look like for somebody to live in a transactional kind of way versus living with purpose?

Dr. Tony Marchese: I think a transactional way is something that is really perpetuated by our culture. We live at a very consumptive lifestyle for the most part. We’re taught to always be seeking opportunities to make ourselves over to be focused on those areas of deficit. If you look at television, if you look at the commercials, if you look a lot of popular TV shows, if you read, or if you’re paying attention to the internet; there such a lot of things that are reminding us who we are in our present state is an adequate and reconstruct ourselves to correspond to whatever the latest trends of societal acceptability look like and so it’s idea of a transactional.

We expand effort of some sort and receive a return of some kind. I don’t think that that is how we were designed to live our lives because when our lives are no more than just here to basically perform a function, we become nothing more than a horse that’s been trained to pull a cart. I think that we are to live lives that are transformational in nature where we really pay close attention to those things that differentiate us from every other human on this planet.

As we look at what I call birthright gifts or what Aristotle called 2500 years ago, entelechies, when we pay attention to those differentiators, and we see what pattern they reveal, there’s a lot of information there about things that we may want to do. Things we may want to consider and things that can move us from that transactional way of thinking and living towards activities that we really were designed to do.

When we’re engaged in those types of things, it’s very similar to flow. It’s almost like a mystical experience. Some of the things that I noticed in my work as I’ve coached executives of different types over the years is that it’s often people that are in roles like teaching or an education of some sort that really kind of have that sense of destiny. They feel like their lives are lives of consequence.

It’s not just teachers but I noticed that especially with those people, they have a sense that they’re not living life as though they paid for their tank of gas at the gas station and requested a carwash. When they get that receipt with that code and they go up and they drive up to the carwash and they input the code and they gained access into the carwash, many people live their lives where they’re at the carwash and they’re just randomly inputting numbers hoping to gain access to what they’re feeling that they need but don’t really understand.

Andrea: Hmm, yeah. OK, I find it interesting that you’re talking about all of these things in relation to people’s personal brands. It sounds like a corporate setting, is that right?

Dr. Tony Marchese: A corporate setting in what sense? What I do?

Andrea: Yeah like what you’re doing.

Dr. Tony Marchese: Yeah. I’ll just say this, when I wrote Design, I wrote it out of the sense of obedience. It was one of those things where I felt like I just absolutely had to do it. That’s why it was written in three months, which kind of crazy. I would come home and it was almost… I was absolutely in a state of float. I think that one of the main things about this book was that it was written to be accessible to all types of people.

I’ve heard many, many stories of teenagers that are reading this book. I know many single parents or parents who have children that have recently left the nest and the parents are now wondering “OK, what am I supposed to do now?” I think I would say that in my day-to-day profession, while I don’t necessarily use the book, I think many of the principles are quite evident in a way that I approach management and leadership.

Because this is all based upon a promise that before we can really lead others effectively, we need to understand how to lead ourselves. If we don’t understand our design, if we don’t understand the intricacies that make us who we are, then we’re not really living the way that we probably want to. It’s probably going to be really hard to lead others.

It reminds me of a quote that Thomas Martin said; he said “How do you expect to arrive at the end of your own journey if you take the road to another man’s city?” And the one thing that I know about leadership is that a lot of the leadership and management materials, if you go in the business section of almost any major bookstore, there’s Tom after Tom after Tom promising that “If you do these five things then you’ll be successful like me.” I find that somewhat insulting because it’s so imitative rather than organic.

Design is written for, not to say ignore all these other voices out there, because there’s a lot of value and things like even Voice of Influence podcast, there’s a lot of value and perspective of other people and the wisdom that they bring. But at the same time, don’t deny all of those clues. Don’t deny those voices internally that are screaming for you to pay attention.

Andrea: I totally agree. The promise of this podcast is to help other people hear their own voice of influence. So yeah, I’m in full amen mood right here. You mentioned personal brand, so I’m very curious. How does finding your purpose and all of these things that you talked about in your book, the Design, how does relate to personal branding for you when you look at your own or when you look at helping other people?

Dr. Tony Marchese: Well, the subtitle of the book talks about the idea of an owner’s manual and this is really what the book is about. I started out talking about how this book came to be. Basically, I talked about waking up in the middle of the night and needing to get a drink of water because I was really thirsty. I walked into my kitchen and I looked around and got my water and I noticed a cell phone box on my table, when I remember that I purchased a cell phone the day before, and there was an owner’s manual that was sitting on it.

I never, ever, ever read an owner’s manual for electronics. I’m a techy kind of guy. I’m an early adopter. I ordered a new iPhone this morning at 3:00 a.m. When it came out, I started scheming through this owner’s manual. It was literally 3:00 in the morning when I had to get this drink and I had this weird thought that you’d only have at 3:00 a.m.

As I looked at this owner’s manual especially the table of content, I saw sections like Overview where there was an explanation of the purpose of the product. I saw section called Distinguishing Features, which was all about differentiators, things that differentiate this cell phone from another. There was a section that dealt with requirements for optimal functioning which were basically instructions in order for this to function at its best. There was a section on precautions, which was all about preventing harm. And the last section was Support. If things aren’t working the way they’re supposed to, this is where you go.

And I thought, you know, what if people had an owner’s manual? How might that impact the way that we think about our lives, the way that we plan our lives in terms of making those major decisions like what do I want do with my life professionally for example. I mentioned earlier the parents that maybe their children have left home “How do I know what am I supposed to do next?” Or that executive that has everything but yet feels as though they have nothing and they’re looking for answers.

If we were to really begin to identify those entelechies, which Aristotle said are innate within all living matter, those things that can pick something from a state of potentiality to actuality that can turn an acorn into an oak tree provided that it receives the right nurture and care, the right elements of water and soil and so forth. If we were to really begin to pay attention for those things and to create an owner’s manual based upon those where we understand our purpose, we understand what we need to be at our best, we understand how to prevent harm, we understand where we go for support, and we have that support system in place; I think that we’re going to do a lot less imitating.

I was talking about buying a book and then just going to do everything that it says to do and we’re going to make a lot more decisions based upon what that owner’s manual said about us. Because I believe, unlike some educators who believe in a concept of tabula rasa that humans are born as “blank slates,” I believe there’s great deal of information on every human being. And until we acknowledge that and we affirm those thing and we begin to develop them and strategically apply them in areas where we want to succeed then I think we are going to be languishing.

So the idea of a brand for me is really about being attentive to who you really are. One of the things I say in my book is I say that the childhood is perhaps the most honest season of our lives. When we’re young, we have yet to yield the cacophony of voices competing for our attention. Parents, teachers, television, and connected culture present various compelling visions of our future selves with promises of acceptance, approval, prestige, beauty, and wealth.

We slowly yield our still emerging dreams and gifts not yet developed into talents to act to the expectations of others. Part of us is real self gradually back swaying to the shadows. Eventually, when we find ourselves in middle age enjoying all the benefits of personal and professional success, yet strangely looking for something more. I believe that our most authentic selves, our most authentic moments are as children.

As we grow older, so many factors or so many different types of stimuli that are encouraging us to grow up and to develop and to conform to whatever trends are out there at the time and I believe that we begin to lose ourselves. And so part of this process of identifying our brand is understanding what I call our birthright gifts.

I wrote this, I said “Birthright gifts reveal the depth and breadth of human diversity, and while we all share in common the presence of Design, the way our gifts manifest themselves is as unique to each of us as our DNA. Like discovering our place of origin, knowledge of our gifts serves as a stabilizing force as our identity and calling become clearer. Acknowledging and developing our gifts helps to reveal our place in a brilliant tapestry of human experience.”

Andrea: Hmm, totally. I love that. It’s really beautiful.

Dr. Tony Marchese: And so as I think about things that are in the news, one of the things that’s in the news right now a lot is this whole idea of bullying. It’s been for the past several years. When I was in school, I don’t really remember that being a really big thing. I remember a little bit conversation about it, but it’s really a very real thing and it’s really a horrible thing that happens.

As I think about this idea of Design, I think of a bully. I think of our world has a lot of stuff going on right now and there’s a lot of stuff that’s not so good. There are a lot of uncertainties and people have a lot of anxieties. And the thing about Design is I think is so powerful as we’re faced with all these things that are coming at us and creating all the anxieties. We’re kind of in the sea and it’s a very tempestuous sea.

I think that our design and awareness of our design really serves as a bully and keeps us from going under. And I think about the child that maybe bullied. How powerful it would be to know even in the midst of some of these bad stuffs that’s going on at school, you know, “This is who I am. I’m here and my life is a life of consequence and I’m here to do some very specific things.”

I don’t think as Design is something that’s just for older people, for those executives that we’re talking about before. I think that there’s a great deal of opportunity with even younger people as well.

Andrea: Definitely. I’m totally in agreement with that. I’ve had conversations with our kids about “If you end up feeling like somebody is trying to squash this part of you in some way, in your mind, acknowledge that maybe they just don’t understand. They don’t understand you and that’s OK and the idea that they might know, that they are created in a certain way that they’re designed that these things that might be driving other people crazy or might be really powerful things that needs some honing maybe, maybe they need to be channeled in a right direction but that’s such a power inside of them. I mean, I think it’s encouraging and empowering for those kids and the parents.

Dr. Tony Marchese: It makes me think about also one of the concepts that I write about in the book and that’s the concept of “dream stealers.” I tell you, as I go around the country and I talk about Design, I can’t think of any other story that I share from the book that resonates more than the story that I share of dream stealers in this whole concept. It’s almost like universal. Everyone can relate to at least one person in our life who acted in this way.

A dream stealer can be one of two types. It ultimately has this idea where they deplete our greatest desires rendering us pain and empty and sometimes feeling of lost. It can be a parent who urges their child to be realistic and responsible and a lot of times, it may come from a lack of experience on their part or it may be a fear of the unknown. The words might come from a parent who didn’t go to college and was successful and feels as though it’s not a necessary thing. It can come in a lot of different ways.

But one of the things that I know was handling your child’s destiny is a very, very delicate matter. I think other dream stealers have a far more sinister intention and a lot of times they target our clues to selfhood, our birthright gifts, our entelechies and can sometimes derail our entire professional trajectories any existing confidence that’s there in that person.

For me, I was a very averaged high school student. In my elementary school years, I spent several years in gifted program and in fact took classes at a high school in fifth and sixth grade for half a day. When I got into high school eventually, I wasn’t really engaged and I was taking classes like music theory and radio and television and public speaking, things like that wasn’t under the AP track, let’s put it that way. I think I had a 2.6 GPA, but I decided my senior year that I wanted to go to college and I wanted to go to the local community college.

So I remember towards the end of the year that I was going to be having what you basically call an exit interview with my guidance counselor and I was excited because I was going to let her know that I was going to go to college. I’ll never forget when I received the invitation to go upstairs and to see her.

I went out there and my heart was really pounding and I was really excited. I sat down and we had small talk and then the question, “So Tony, what are you gonna do after high school?” And I said “Well, I wanna go to the community college. I wanna become a teacher.” And I’ll never forget her looking at me dead in the eyes and she said “Tony, you’re not college material. You’d never make it in college.” I had a DJ business at the time and did very well. She said “The best thing you could do is just keep DJ’ing. You won’t make it in college.” I left there so depleted, so upset, and really, really injured.

Andrea: It’s crashing.

Dr. Tony Marchese: It was. And many years later as I walk the stage to receive my PhD, I had a flash of her face that went through my mind and I thought “You know, I’d love to go see her.” I ended up working with youth shortly after that period and I heard story after story of kids that either heard that same thing from her or from other people. We have to be so careful about the words that we say. Like I said a person’s destiny is a very delicate matter.

Andrea: Yes! Do you think that that was part of your motivation for pursuing continued education in this area and writing the book and all that?

Dr. Tony Marchese: I can only say this, I’ve always had a pretty strong sense of self and I’ve been pretty self confident. I’m here in the timeline of history for a reason and that really has driven me to make a lot of decisions that I have. I don’t like to hear people tell me you can’t do something. So I do think that it did act as a motivator. I really can’t fully explain it. I think that some people maybe are a little bit more resilient than others.

I know that other individuals may have heard those kinds of words and there’s nothing wrong with working in a blue color job. There’s nothing wrong doing a vocational or low tech type of thing at all. We need those professions but I know of so many individuals over the course of my 20-plus-year career who ended up choosing a different path that really wasn’t aligned with where they really were at and with what their birthright gifts or their entelechies said. For them in many cases, they do engage in a transactional approach to life and its life is lost, its joy or its magic I guess you could say, that wonder that I write about in the book.

Andrea: Yeah. It’s hard for me to see people not living into the fullness of who they are, not that it’s kind of idealistic but that is hard. It’s hard to see wasted human potential. It’s very painful almost.

Dr. Tony Marchese: Yeah, and I truly believe that the world suffers every time an individual lets that flame, that spark, get pushed down and smothered. Like I said, I don’t think that I’m unique at all in the sense that I’m in this timeline in history and in this place. I think everyone of this are here for a very, very specific purpose. And I think that when we just become consumers of life, we just become consumers of oxygen when we go to our jobs and we come home and really don’t have any sense of destiny, any sense of a purpose. We just kind of go to the motion.

It’s hard to know what kind of an impact that really has because I don’t think that our gifts, I don’t think that those things that captivated us as a child that we’re just kind of emerging but meant to be nurtured and cultivated to move that acorn towards that oak tree. It’s hard to really calculate, to quantify what that impact really has upon our role.

Andrea: I really appreciated the fact that at the end of your book, you gave so many exercises and things that people could actually do to write their own manual for themselves. I wonder if you would mind sharing a little bit about it with us that Creative Disruption exercise. I love it. Would you share that with us? Maybe some of us are stuck. Maybe some of us are feeling like we’re in a day-to-day grind and it’s just more comfortable there. Maybe there’s more for us.

Dr. Tony Marchese:   I’m happy to do that. Creative Disruption is the concept of really altering patterns of your life. There are certain patterns. I could go through all kinds of them that I have been following or engaging for probably 20 or 30 years. We all have those kinds of things. We have our routines. We have a way to go about things. The idea of Creative Disruption is an experiment basically and it’s the idea of picking something, choosing something one of those things in our routine.

So for example, one idea might be that you wake up in the working and you’re still in bed and the first thing you do is you turn on the news and you watch the news. Well, you might find later in the day that you really are sort of preoccupied with negativity. You’re really preoccupied with a sense of some just “Uh there’s just so much bad stuff in the world.” It really brings you down. I know that it does to me sometimes.

So you’ve been doing this for years and years and years, so the idea of Creative Disruption would be to maybe instead of doing that, maybe reverse that. And instead of lying in bed for half an hour watching the news, you get up and you go workout or you go for a walk. You do that for a week and just see if you learn something about yourself. See what kind of an impact that there has on your life. Another great thing is that some people absolutely have to have noise. They have to have noise all the time.

A great Creative Disruption exercise is to turn it off during a specific time and just see what it’s like to be alone with your own thoughts. It might be scary but you might come upon a great idea or strategy or a new awareness. Another one is that a lot of people don’t journal at all, and I think that there’s so much stuff that bombarding our senses every day and it can be absolutely overwhelming. I think that rather maybe watching that 30-minute show that you like to watch maybe have it recorded and watch it another time. But during that time when you normally watch it, spend 30 minutes and journal about your day.

I find that in the act of journaling for example, it’s a way of getting all that stuff that’s all bottled up within us and it’s just making us anxious. It gets out and it puts down on a paper where you can kind of step back and see what’s going on. A lot of times, I find that many people have epiphanies of sorts as they do that. It really is a very therapeutic exercise, so creative disruption can take on so many different forms but it’s in experiment, in changing your routine, disrupting the norm in very intentional ways to see if something emerges about yourself that could be helpful. At many times, people continue on of those that it becomes a new routine for a while.

Andrea: Yeah. That’s super powerful but I will say that like most people don’t want to change that kind of thing. They don’t want to try. It’s scary, so what do you say to that person? “I don’t wanna change. I don’t wanna change.” You know, they always say that.

Dr. Tony Marchese: Well, I say that the worst thing that I think you could do is to try to change everything all at once; you know. I think the idea is to identify little things and again things are somewhat safe, things that are disruptions, but aren’t a complete kind of a thing. The whole final chapter of my book, the chapter entitled Deciphering your Design is all about what that process looks like.

So yes, full of different activities. Several of those could happen within the context of a retreat which I talked about, you know, going on a personal retreat. Not many of us are able to do that with their lifestyles or the way they are, but maybe blackout 30 minutes a day or if you’re lucky an hour a day or a couple of hours a week in your calendar and you work on some of these things that are in that chapter. Do some of these activities that are there.

Some of them are just kind of thinking and throws some questions and to kind of really understand a lot of things from way back. Because again, I think that some of the greatest _____ ourselves in what would ultimately make us happy now when we go back 20, 30, 50, or 60 years depending how old you were. So this process of deciphering your design, it requires some concentration and it requires of being in an environment that’s kind of free from disruption where you can really think and process and reflect. But like I said, not everybody can literally go away for a week and do that.

Andrea: I do like the idea of a retreat though because I think it might be an easier way to then come back. If you go away and get a start on it in a different space that’s just make a huge difference. You don’t have your normal responsibilities and relationships maybe that you’re taking care of and you’re able to get out of that and start to think about it and then come back and do the creative disruptions, the other kind of creative disruptions. I think that’s a really great way to do it because you’re ready. You have to set your mind ahead of time and your heart ahead of time too “You know what; I don’t wanna change this one little thing and try it.”

I think it’s really hard for people to do it right in the middle of what they’re doing unless they’re already really hungry or in great deal of pain.

Dr. Tony Marchese: I think that’s true and in some cases, sometimes the people that I talk with at that place, they’re really kind of along the edge where they just had enough. But for others, it’s not quite to that point yet and that’s good and sometimes it’s more of a subtle process.

Andrea: Yeah. And I think if we were to view pain as the opportunity to make changes that need to be made, you know, that is a very motivating factor so maybe we don’t need to run away from pain and we don’t need to resist it so much as look at it and say “OK, what need to change? What do I want to change?”

Dr. Tony Marchese: Some of that pain you know, Andrea, is connected to our gifts. I mentioned earlier the idea of dream stealer and again I found almost everyone that I talked to can relate to that in some way whether they’re a parent, a coach, a teacher, or a boss. All of these probably have some experience of that type of person who really, really encouraged us to keep our feet on the ground. For some, they kind of dig a hole and bury yourself. In many ways, those words are targeted around that persons birthright gifts or their entelechies.

So that process of discovering, deciphering, or design is a lot of times painful because it forces us to go back and to kind of face that person. Maybe that person is no longer alive but it requires us to really consider the impact of their words and how harmful they were and how wrong they were. Ultimately were responsible for our own lives and we’re responsible for nurturing our gifts and trying to make a difference and I think for a very few people, it’s an easy process.

Andrea: Yeah. Yeah, don’t play the victim. You don’t have to be a victim.

Dr. Tony Marchese: No.

Andrea: Yeah, we are responsible. I love that.

Dr. Tony Marchese: You know and the idea of the other thing is that just as there are dream stealers, there are also dream starters. The dream starters are those individuals who don’t just see as we are but they see us as we could become, you know, they spot our entelechies.

Fred Rogers said “As human beings, our job in life is to help people realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is, that each of us has something that no one else has – or ever will have – something inside that is unique at all time. It’s our job to encourage each other to discover that uniqueness and to provide ways of developing its expression.”

I just really think that we need to be aware of the words that we share with other people and maybe we’ve been a dream stealer to someone, maybe we’ve inadvertently causing individual not to pursue something that they probably were supposed to do. I just think that we just need to be very aware of that and to make sure that we’re being a dream starter in someone else’s life.

Andrea: That’s great! Yes, let’s be dream starters! Well, thank you so much for your time with us today and sharing all of your wisdom and all of the knowledge that you’ve gained over the years on this particular topic especially Design and your passion behind it. It’s very inspiring.

Dr. Tony Marchese: Well, thank you so much. It’s been a great opportunity and I really, really appreciate the chance to be on your podcast.

Andrea: Sure and where should I send the people? Where do you want people to come find you and your book?

Dr. Tony Marchese: Well my book is available online. I’m on Amazon, if they just do a search for Design: An Owner’s Manual to Learning, Living, and Leading with Purpose. Or search Design and Marchese. It’s available in all major online booksellers and they can also find out more about me at

Andrea: That’s great. Well, link to all of that in the show notes for listeners to get really easy for them. Well, thank you again and let’s go big dream starters.

Dr. Tony Marchese: Let’s do that. Well, have a great day. Thank you so much!

How to Find Your “Why” and Achieve Focused Mastery with Corey Poirier

Episode 31

Corey Poirier is a multiple-time TEDx Speaker and multiple-time best selling author. He is also the host of two top rated podcasts, founder of The Speaking Program, and he has been featured in multiple television specials. Interviewing 4,000 of the world’s top leaders, he has also appeared / or been featured in Global TV, CBS, CTV, NBC, ABC, CBC, Entrepreneur, and is one of a few featured twice on the popular Entrepreneur on Fire show.

Mentioned in this episode:

Full Interview Transcript

Hey, hey it’s Andrea! Welcome to the Voice of Influence podcast. Today, I have Corey Poirier on the line. Corey is a speaker. He has spoken at multiple TEDx events. He is a podcaster with thousands of interviews already; the podcast is called the Conversations with PASSION. And he is an author. 

Andrea: So Corey, it is so good to have you today on the Voice of Influence podcast

Corey Poirier: I am super excited to be here, Andrea, and super excited to hopefully make some magic happen today.

Andrea: Sounds good! OK, so we met each other at podcasting conference a couple of months ago, and here we are finally getting able to really chat a little bit together. I’m really curious, why don’t you tell us, first of all, how you see your business and your kind of calling right now in life. What are you doing?

Corey Poirier: I would say what I’m hoping to do is create what I call an invisible impact or a positive ripple or dent in universe for other people, some who I directly met and worked with and some who I may never even know or me. But the hope is that I possibly impact more than one person’s life. That’s really at the core of what I’m trying to do.

And because that’s sort of my goal every day to impact lives, the hope is that I’m impacting well more than one person. But even I’m only impacting one person’s life; I think that’s still worth the effort. So that’s on a grand scale. If I stay it on, let’s call it more direct way, I’m sharing my message with people through various platforms, probably the most notable is speaking.

So I spent a large part of my time speaking at conferences, whether that’s for corporate clients, for associations, for nonprofits, or schools. So speaking to audiences, writing for various publications and I would add in our show. So getting the message in our show while also sharing the insights we learned during interviews in our show. That’s the direct way of doing it and that would extend to social media, as well.

So on one end, I’m getting the messages there to various people, to various platforms, and overall what I’m hoping to happen as a result to that is I’m creating some sort of positive ripple in the world.

Andrea: So what kind of positive ripple are you wanting to create, is it specific or is it just general positivity?

Corey Poirier: I’ll say it this way, it’s not necessarily specific as in I want this specific thing to happen but it is specific in the sense that I don’t want to just, let’s say, share positivity or have somebody go “I’m glad you said that now, I feel happier.” I want to actually change lives. So the speaking, of course, allows me to do that to some degree, especially the show allows me to do that where I’m actually offering more than just positive energy or let’s say inspiration. I’m actually offering tangible, “Here’s how you do it as well. So here’s how you can improve your business. So there are the things that will actually improve or enhance your life.”

And to give you an example, Andrea, just one little random of example; one of the things I work with people on is how to figure out who they’re spending your time with. So whether that’s in a talk, whether they’re reading an article about that, whether I’m working with them one-on-one, I talk to them about putting together an exercise that will show them who they’re spending their time with. And are these people adding positivity or extra value to their life or they’re actually getting toxic energy.

Ideally, if you figure out you figure out, you’re sitting most of your time with eight people and seven of them are negative, well I can say “dot, dot, dot,” I mean, you know you have work to do. If you find you’re spending your time seven with positive and one is negative and the one who’s negative is a family member that you’re not willing reduce the time with, at least you know you’re still spending your time with most of the positive people.

So the odds are good that you’re going to have a lot more positive energy than if the numbers were flipped and again if it was seven negative and one positive. So first is helping people figure out who they’re spending their time with. And then the second part of that will be figuring out who do I reduce the time with. Who do I leave it altogether and how do I bring in people to my life that would add more the positivity I’m not getting. So that whole thing could be a whole talk but that’s one tiny example of the fact that I’m not just trying to say, “ra, ra, ra, you could do it.” I’m saying “Here’s how you do it as well.”

Andrea: Interesting. When you do that one-on-one with people, do you consider yourself to be like a coach, consultant, or strategist; what would you call yourself, or do you call yourself something?

Corey Poirier: That’s an interesting question. I always tell people, because people say, what do you for a living? I always say “If I’m filling out an application for anything and it says career, what I’d put in there is keynote speaker.” So there’s no question to identify myself as a speaker first; however, it’s interesting you asked, because I just joined Forbes Coaches Council, literally today, literally just now.

Andrea: Cool!

Corey Poirier: And so why bring that up is because in the coaching side, I certainly consider myself to be doing some coaching. So what really draws in for the coaching is my speaking program, and so what we do there is teach people how to become better speakers who can earn and income speaking so that they can get more time and freedom to impact more lives. And part of that involves coaching so it’s not just online training, it’s actually coaching one-on-one.

I have people that I sit with or that will come to me or will chat via phone or Facebook or what have you. I have my next talk coming up, how can I make sure I find leads from that talk? How can I make sure I knock it out of the park? Somebody just did it their very first talk through our program. And I said through our program, I mean they found their first talk, they secured it and they delivered it and they sent me a video. And the talk, they had four people showed up and it was a part of a bigger conference let’s say and of course you could see them with various rooms. So that’s not abnormal, it’s just like coaching when you first try it, you might have two clients and then years later you might have 50.

So they had four people in the room and they sent me the videos and see what I thought and they did a great job. But the first thing I noticed is that the way their camera was showing, you could see that every chair on the front was empty. So it made it look like it’s possible that they’re actually speaking to no one and they just put the camera up and they’re trying to send the video and let the people see this is one of my talks.

So the first thing I said is whether we do it for you or whether you do it yourself, you need to crop all those chairs. So if you take those chairs out, you wouldn’t know if there were 300 people in there. But if you leave those chairs in, whether it’s empty or not, you can tell that the front rows is not full which is a bad sign.

So going back to my point, Andrea is you know that’s obviously a lot more in the way of coaching and even to the extent that people would call and say “How would I launch my speaking career? I’ve been speaking for a while, how do I actually start getting paid fees to do this?” So we do a lot of one-on-one coaching. But again, if you say how do you identify yourself, it always goes back to speaker first.

Andrea: I know that you have some background in standup comedy and there’s something to do with that that got you into speaking in the first place. How did that start for you?

Corey Poirier: I guess it’s sort of an interesting story because it’s an interesting journey into the speaking world. But basically, for me, how it all started is I had a stage play in a French class. I guess it’s the better way to back that story up, if you will. One of the actors in the place said “Hey, Corey, I heard about the standup comedy workshop, how would you like to jump in with me? A university stand-up comedy workshop, essentially in two weeks, we’re going to learn how to do standup the comedy.

Now, the number one fear in the world above death is public speaking. Most people have heard that stat before. What that means is if you’re at a funeral, you’d rather be in the casket than do a eulogy for the average person.

Interestingly, I wasn’t too excited about the idea performing standup, but I realized that if I just go to the workshop that doesn’t mean I ever have to get on the stage. So basically, we went to the comedy club on the third week. They told us that people are going to entertain us. We get there excited; it’s going to be like a clinic in our minds. There were 15 of us showed up. It was five minutes to show time; we noticed the comics weren’t there yet. We asked him about it, he turned to us and said “You guys are the comics. Sorry, I didn’t let you know on it.”

I went to the bathroom trying to find the exit window and there was no exit window. I came back and eight of the 15 that showed up there that took the workshop and planned to do the standup, most of them were actors. They were already in the entertainment business; they literally walked out the door.

So over 50% walked out at the front door, I was one of the one last from the 15% who stayed. I had been to a Toastmaster’s meeting. Essentially what I learned is if you’re going to face the fear like speaking, do it first. When they were still debating who’s going to go up first by the side of the stage, I jumped on the stage, grabbed the mic, launched in my first joke. And I told my first joke what I thought was maybe the funniest joke that I knew at the time, delivered it too, dead silence!

And all of a sudden, the sweats were rolling down my face. I realized that the standup thing was not so easy. But I also knew, I was up there already, so it was easier to launch the joke number two because maybe it was just the joke. So I jumped on the joke number two and this time still no laughter, and this time still full of sweat. This time, I kind of heard the crickets at the back of the room. I saw the tumbleweed go past the stage.

So Guy, (his name was actually Guy), who pulled us into this whole thing, called me over to the corner stage, he gave me one of those smacks that I could have and said “You idiot, we haven’t even turned the mic on yet.” So my first joke I ever delivered in my life to an audience, my first time on a stage ever in my life, actually, I didn’t even have the mic turned on. I literally wasn’t prepared. I blamed him because he said he only taught us how to adjust the mic stand, but the truth is you should know to turn the mic on.

And by the way, that has worked the way to my speaking ever since because now when I do talks, I’ll ask a question to keep going with my talk to see what kind of response I get to make sure people can hear me all because of that. Because when you’re a new speaker, sometimes you’re at the mercy of the sound people and if they haven’t turned it on…so now, I’m conscious about it all the time.

But to go back to your original question, Andrea, you said that that led me into speaking. Well that night, well not specifically that night, but that first performance opened up the possibility because I was terrified of speaking in public. So getting on standup stage was even obviously way worst than that.

And what happened was I saw Tony Robbins, and this was after I’d seen him on his infomercial, which I thought was a TV show. But I thought Tony was being paid by his products only and didn’t get paid as a speaker. And somebody ticked me off or I Googled it or something happened and I quote in “This guy is actually getting paid to speak.” And speaking has a lot of what I love about standup and not so much about what I don’t like.

So all of a sudden, I transitioned into speaking and the transition was an easy decision. I kept doing standup for another nine years. But of course, speaking is my main focus. I go for standup at first once a week but then eventually got to once every three weeks or a month. But I was obsessed by performing stand-up but speaking became my core passion.

And what’s interesting is most of the stand-ups that I was sharing _____ never went to speaking route so much so that a lot of them kept saying “Oh my God, you get paid to do what we do way more than you would get from the comedy club, how do I do this?” And then I would have speakers, they wouldn’t want to do standup but they were saying “Oh my God, dude, I could never start my speaking with that speaking stuff. I can never do standup.”

So one thing I learned really quickly is that what I was doing was very unique from all speakers and all stand-ups. I merged that two whereas most people never did. So that was a long story but that’s how my speaking journey, which again is my core focus and passion today, started. So I started with stand-up. I couldn’t have a better training ground. There was no better in my experience. No better training ground for communicating than getting on a standup stage and hoping for the best.

Andrea: Yeah that’s funny. So I’ve got a question though. You mentioned that at the beginning that you speak for students, you speak for corporate, and you speak at conferences.   I’ve heard it said, and I’m wondering if this is true from somebody that’s really experienced with this, I’ve heard it said that if you think that you can speak to any audience and say anything that you’re wrong, but I wonder if with the standup background and everything, has that made you more a versatile or what do you speak about and why?

Corey Poirier: So I mentioned that that was sort of niche that I started with standup and then transition. The other part of that I guess was sort of a niche or made me, let’s say standout a little better as well is I actually start it in business. And when I say business, I had my first business way before standup. In addition to that, I transitioned to the corporate world. So I was working first for Toshiba Canada, so Toshiba that makes the photocopiers, the laptops what have you. And then I work for Konika Minolta, which is the Toshiba’s competitors.

So for people that don’t know those names, it would be like the Xerox industry, so I competed against Xerox for 10 years in the corporate sales role. I worked for Hewlett Packard and SPC software. And so I did that after having my own business and my business was the business newspaper like a regional newspaper version of Success Magazine.

The key thing is, I had a business background to draw from way before standup. So for me making the transition into a corporate business speaker was much easier than of course a standup comic trying to make a transition into a inspirational speaker or a speaker that just decides to eventually speak and then figure out a topic.

So the benefit I had was that, I was already working in corporate sales so I could go easily to a sales group or company that had sales staff and go in as a sales trainer or as a speaker that speaks around the area of selling. That was my first, I’m going to say, my first niche topic area.

I went in doing sales, in fact, my first company in that realm as a trainer was called the International Sales Training Institute. I was actually doing sales training and speaking on the subject of selling. That eventually transitioned to customer service, so I’d speak on customer service.

Again, not a really big stretch because I have done, we figured over 10,000 cold calls to customers over my corporate sales period. So obviously, I get to learn a lot of a customer service making that many cold calls and then of course those turned into warm calls at some point and then you have customers as a result from that.

So I learned a lot of a customer service after doing that many sales calls and working with clients, you know, thousands and thousands of clients over the course of 10 years. Customer service again wasn’t that much stretch, I had that experience and then I guess what I speak on the most today; I still speak on customer service.

So I have a talk on getting a standing ovations from every customer, which evolved into a book a few years back and then a talk on winning and adjusting to personality types which is essentially being able to read four dominant personality types that we’re going to interact with every day in any capacity of our life, even on a radio interview. How do you adjust to those people, so you have that people that are social and talks a lot, the people who are very directed that don’t talk at all. You have the people that are very technical and have lots of questions and then you have the people that are standoffish and don’t like arguments and what have you.

So essentially I teach that and again that’s not much of a stretch when you consider all the sales experience I had selling to the corporate personality types. And then finally probably what I’m most known for is the talk called the Timeless Secrets of influential leaders and where my background lies there is essentially after doing, so now I’m up to over 4000 interviews.

So for people that have known Napoleon Hill, essentially what I’m doing is the modern day work of what Napoleon Hill did in the ‘30’s which an essentially interview of high achievers to figure out what they do uniquely and differently and share that with other people.

So the short answer I guess is that I speak on those three areas today. But every time that I was speaking on the subject, I never talk on a subject that I wasn’t very very much, I’m going to say, well-versed in and experienced in and stuff that I’ve walked on the path. I’m not a fan of taking on a talk to get paid money or taking on a talk because you feel it may increase your credibility if you’re not the right person be doing that talk. I really feel you need to be the right person.

There are so many people calling themselves the guru but don’t have any experience in the area they’re talking about. And so I need to be the person that has already lived it and been in the trenches before I speak on.

Andrea: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense and it’s a good point. You know, a few minutes that we talked, it sounds to me like you have lived a hundred years worth of achievements and experience. But I know that you’re not a 100 years old and you’re saying that you’ve learned a lot from high achievers. I guess what I’m saying is that it sounds like you are a high achiever and you’ve been able to gain a lot of experience and things. You’re not that old, right?

Corey Poirier: I’ll say that I’m quite willing to reveal my age; I know that everybody is but I’m 42. What I’ll say is this; I mean there’s kind of two parts to answer that. The first part is by doing those interviews, which is why I’m so passionate sharing about this common traits with others so that, you know, people call it hacks. So I’ve learned the hacks in different areas. We might call it shortcuts for people who aren’t familiar with the term hacks.

But basically, by doing all this interviews, I’ve been able to realize a lot of shortcuts to achievement that I wouldn’t be able to probably discover without spending an extra 40 years on the trenches. You know, I probably wouldn’t be 70 or something before I could do these same things without learning from these highest of achievers.

So I’m the one benefit that a lot of people don’t have because not only do I learned from mentors and high achievers but I’m able to look at thousands and say “Okay, what are the common five? What are the common seven?” I have the research to back it up and then I go out and live it. So I don’t just kind of say “I know it works that I’ll just share it with other people.” I literally go out and sort of live it.

It’s funny when you said that, Andrea, about a hundred years; otherwise, it always fascinates me but I was on a show which you might be familiar, it’s called Join Up Dots with the host David Ralph. And we actually use this on my immediate intro because the way it started just, I don’t know, it made me laugh every time I hear it but it goes back to what you’ve just said. And you know, he’s opening was “You know, my next guest is 420 years old or he has managed to squeeze X amount of achievements in in X amount of time.”

And so until that point, I hear that a lot and so what I would say is it’s not that I started with any special skills that’s a given for sure. I was raised by a single mother, barely graduated high school. One of my teachers gave me 49 + 1 to let me know I didn’t officially graduate. He gave me the actual point to finish my last year in school, grade 12, so no special talent to start it with.

When I started music for instance, I still can’t tune a guitar by ear, I still use a tuner and I’ve been playing music for, I don’t know how long now, since I was 12 or something like that. I had a girlfriend and my girlfriend said “Stop playing, you’re hurting my ears.” And then fast forward, a bunch of years later and I released four CD’s and I have music videos and…

Andrea: Oh my goodness, music too?

Corey Poirier: Yeah, music too. And when I say that, Andrea, the reason I practiced the way I did is because I wouldn’t want somebody think when I say that, it’s like me saying “Oh look at me.” I say that because it’s the proof of the whole 10,000 hours that we hear. If we put in the time, we can master or at least learn any skills. So the music was one I definitely can back it up, my mother would tell you I was horrible. It took me like two and a half years of playing guitar before I could play one song from start to finish. And now I jam with people that were levels above me way from the day they started and I’ve had people working for me at my shows that really should be signed to a record label.

And so I say this because I’ve learned that we can truly get good any skill and do it much quicker than we’re told to believe if we’re able to learn what the shortcuts are. So if you can learn what the highest of achievers do well and figure out what they’re all doing and we can take that one thing, let’s say tenth of a percent that they’re doing differently than everybody else and we can incorporate that into our lives. I believe we can take and reduce; first of all, we can bring it down lower than 10,000 hours, but I believe we can actually knock off years from what we would spend learning the skill.

I mean, I go back to stand-up, I told you I bombed that first night. Well, I went the first two years and I didn’t have five minutes, no joke, five minutes of laughs back to back of material. I took me over two years to get five minutes and it took me nine years before I could do a 45 minutes set. So you know just to back it up and just to, I guess to just finish that, so it’s not just to build me. A good friend of my Tracy McDonald won star search and she was, I believe, the only female comedienne that ever win Star Search.

She won $250,000 a pilot show, and when I interviewed Tracy about being a standup. I asked about headlining and she told me, it took her five years to get her first headline spot and yet she won Star Search. And now that she won, you could call her the funniest comedienne in the world and yet, it took her five years to even get one headline spot. It’s important for people to realize and know that if you believe in something and you have a big enough passion and you can learn what the secrets are and the shortcuts, you can actually, as we just said, squeeze a hundred years of achievements into a shorter amount of time.

Andrea: OK, now everybody is sitting here going “OK so give me one at least one of the hacks that you have applied to your own life that helped drive you and move you forward.”

Corey Poirier: I’ll actually give you a few really quick way, because I tell you one super quick way. I won’t go much further than this and people want to know more about this.

Andrea: Yeah.

Corey Poirier: Well, first of all, you and I were talking about that I have a new book coming in that would help them with this, so I’ll tell you this is the number one. But the reason I want to give you at least one more is because a lot of people listening to your show may have already achieved this or maybe on track with this.

So the first one is these highest of achievers have discovered their calling. So whether we use the word calling, purpose, passion, or what I use now was their “why.” They figured out what it is. They finally tuned it so that they could say “This is exactly what I need to be doing almost all of every day if I want to be successful in what it is that I love.”

So for example with me, to go one step further and give you a how-to, you know, if your listeners are saying “How do I do that?” What I tell people, especially with their why, is to sit down, I mean this could take an hour or for one person and this could take five years to somebody else. But to figure out why, for example, we share mine earlier, my why is to create invisible impact, so I want to create invisible impacts.

For my mission statement, my personal mission statement for me that I created was essentially is “Corey is the guy,” or “I wanna be the guy who motivates, donates, inspires, educates, and entertains.” And so those five things if I’m doing four of the five of those at all times, I’m on track. I’m going to crush it. If I’m doing things that are one of those or less all the time, I’m going to struggle.

So first of all, you need to figure out what your why is and that’s the part of the book coming out will actually takes the person through that whole exercise that I’ll reveal to people of how to find your why. But even if you have already found it, what I suggest is you need to figure out what’s your first initial statement is and how that ties into what your why is. If you can figure out those two things, I believe that first of all, you put yourself already in the top 10%.

So if you look at Simon Sinek, he has a video called Start With Why, that’s another place people could start. Go watch that video on, it’s a TED Talk and he talks about how Harley is why being a lifestyle company and how Harley creates the ability for a 42-year-old accountant, the driver wearing black leather in a little town where no one has seen him before and had people be terrified of him. And that’s a lifestyle whereas Indian makes a motorbike and the result is Harley crashing it with market share.

Apple has a why that change the world, whereas Dell sells a good-priced computer and so Dell sells the why and Apple sells the why. What’s the end result, Apple is crushing it.

If you go to Disney, Disney wants to be the happiest place on earth. So Disney’s mission statement by the way is to make people happy. It’s that simple, to make people happy.

So basically their why is to become the happiest place on earth that’s what they want to do. They wanted to have people walk away happy and their mission statement is to make people happy. So that drives all their actions. They know of somebody who spills an ice cream cone at Disney, as an employee, you’re empowered to go on and replace that ice cream cone instantly because that’s going to make somebody happy.

So you need to figure out what your why is and what your mission statement to get to that why. And like I said the exercise on how to do it is longer than we have in the interview. I have a book where people can learn about that. It’s actually called The Book of Why (and How), and we and could talk about that and I can tell people how they can learn more about that if you want, Andrea.

Andrea: Yeah, definitely.

Corey Poirier: OK perfect. Well, I’ll jump onto the second one, but remind me, maybe at the end I’m sure we’ll talk about the details.

Andrea: Oh yeah.

Corey Poirier: OK, so the second one and this is the one that ties directly into the first one I just shared so that’s a good segway, is the power of ‘No.’ And so what do I mean by that? We hear people all the time say ‘Yes’ in everything and figure how to do later. I heard a quote one time by Richard Branson that said that and it really stuck with me because I was like “OK, this is confusing me because Richard Branson is saying say yes to everything, but most of the high achievers I’m interviewing say no to almost everything.”

So what I had to do is I have to dig a lot of research and figure out of what Richard Branson said, which is misquoted, which we see all the time. And again, I’m paraphrasing because I’m going by memory of the exact quote, but he said “Figure out how to say yes to everything you love and then figure out how to do it.” So the key thing is you love but the way the quote is presented was like say yes to everything that comes your way.

We all know that Richard Branson is running 200 some companies and he’s not running every aspect of those companies. So we know he’s saying no to a lot more that he’s saying yes to. Like I said that conflicted with me, but I grew up in a small town, meat and potatoes, and I was kind of taught you’re supposed to say yes to everybody. So it was a struggle for me to get around this idea of saying no. But it was a glaring statistic when I look back at these interviews that most of these highest of achievers were saying no to most things.

The second thing I’ve learned from high achievers is you need to figure how to say no to all of the things that won’t move you closer to your goal so that you can say yes to the few things that will move the needle as fast as possible. And tying that back into the last point about your why, here’s the cool thing; if you can put together that mission statement I mentioned, so I mentioned motivate, donate, etc.

So what I do is if somebody offers me an opportunity, I kidded against those five and if it’s going to be four of those five, in other words if it was a TV show that would allow me to reach four or five of those that’s going to be the easiest yes I’ll ever say. However, if the show is going to hit only one of those or zero, it’s going to be an easy no that I can walk away from with no regret. Now, why is this significant, it’s because I was able to turn down a couple of television shows opportunities that when I first started my journey, I would have said yes to _____.

But because I realized that they won’t be going to help me get bucks to donate, they were paying me. They were going to let me entertain. They wanted me to be fixed around their script. And by the way, I’ve even turned down where people wanted me to use their script to develop my talk because it’s going to allow me to any of those five things or especially not many of them.

So what happens is by knowing my personal mission statement, I can apply this power of no because it helps me decide what’s a Yes and a No. So the high achievers if we get to the second common trait, is they say no more often and they know what to say no to so that they can say yes to those few things rather than getting bug down into the ones that won’t move them closer to their goal. So that’s number two.

The other one that I will add in them is life-long learning. So something that we discovered is that life-long learners are leaders. So what do I mean by that is that people that figure out how to keep feeding their minds and that could be by watching a TED Talk every third day, that could be by reading 20 minutes in the morning every day, however they figure to do it. The people that keep feeding their mind long after is done are the ones that seem to rise to and stay at the top.

So you think of all the top achievers from years gone by of what we call had been called thought leaders, you know your Zig Zigler, your Jim Rohn, or your Tony Robbins, these people even though they’re at the highest level, they’re still going and attending seminars. They’re still watching other speakers. Jack Canfield that we’ve had in the show is a great example.

Jack was 69 I think when we had him on the show. For the listeners who may not know of Jack, he created this highly successful Chicken Soup for the Soul. He created The Success Principles and Jack share with us that he still goes to Tony Robbins’ seminars even though him and Tony are buddies and sit at the back and take these crazy amounts of notes.

And somebody then told me when I shared that story, they’ve been there and seen it and said Jack is taking his pages of notes and there was this 19 year old sitting beside him and he’s looking at his phone. So you get my point, right? The 69 year old who doesn’t probably need it anymore, he truly doesn’t probably need it but he believes he does. And because of that, he keeps feeding that mind and he’ll probably be reading a book until his last day.

So powerful message is you need to figure out, first of all, how to feed your mind and do it efficiently, and the second thing is you need to have learning plan whether it’s formal or not to make sure that that happens. If I give you three, there are three of them, Andrea, but I’ve discovered from these high achievers and the degree in which we practice them. In other words, the more you practice them, the better chance you’re going to join that club yourself and do it a lot sooner.

Andrea:   Those are really good. Thank you for sharing those that was very generous. Yeah, we’ll definitely link to your book or whatever you want us to link to in the show notes for sure, and you can tell us again where to find that at the end so that the listeners can write it down. But I do have another question related to this. I’ve heard you mentioned on the recent podcast episode that you would like to try to focus more on one thing but that’s hard for you because you’re multi-passionate. So I’m wondering what does multi-passionate mean to you and why do you want to focus more on one thing. Is it related to this why thing, this book that you’ve written?

Corey Poirier: Yeah, it’s a great question. I did an interview recently with the show called the One Thing, which is kind of interesting you mentioned that and there’s a book called the One Thing. And this is what sort of trigger for me. I started reading this book and recognized, again going back to the high achievers that one of the other traits and this is the very quick one, but basically they go all in so they know how to avoid distractions. They go all in with their phone when they’re with their phone. They go all in with the person when they’re with the person but they don’t try to overlap the two of them.

So I believed for a long time that single task should become the new ‘sexy.’ I believe single tasking is much more efficient than multitasking and that’s been proved statistically. You know, people love the idea of multitasking. It’s seems like a hack or it seems like something sexy but the truth is that they’ve proven with statistics that multitasking isn’t as efficient. In fact, Robin Sharma who’s The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari author, I heard an interview with him where shared that he was involved in a study where they showed that for every one minute you get distracted, it gets you five minutes to get back to focusing in whatever you’re doing.

So in terms of this one thing, I’ll answer in two ways; one I want to continue to get more focused because I know single tasking is way more beneficial in every way even in your health, your personal life and so on and so forth. And the second part is in terms of what it means to me so what I had to do, Andrea, and I’m trying to get this constantly more finally tuned is to figure out what my one thing is.

So this work in two ways; one is I want to make sure I’m only doing one thing at a time that one is a little easier because even though you’re multi-passionate, you can truly say, “Okay, I’m doing an interview with Andrea right now, I’m not gonna check my messages.” So there are two things to separate there, when we talk with doing one thing. First of all, I mean I want to be doing one thing at a time so that means you could be blocking your time and say “OK, these hour is for interviews, these hour is for social media, and this hour is for Facebook live, whatever that means so that’s time blocking where you can say “OK, I’m doing one thing at a time.”

But then there’s a bigger thing we could talk about which is doing one thing in my life. That’s a whole different thing. So when I talk with the one thing, I believe I was talking about the one thing at a time where I’m trying to juggle a bunch of things; however, I will answer the other part. What I’m trying to constantly fine tune is what is that one thing in the center of all the things I’m doing that they all tied to so that I make sure that everything I’m doing filters back into one major thing.

So to explain what I mean by that is I could even use the example ripple that we talked about. So how am I getting my messages or what are the platforms? So the platforms are just different ways but the one thing I’m doing is trying to create a ripple or invisible impact. So that’s my one thing but then to do that I have to do maybe multiple platforms so that could be interviews, talks, and what have you. And then to go back further in this one thing, but when I’m doing them, I need to be doing only one of them at a time.

So I can’t be checking my messages while I’m speaking. I can’t be working on my book and writing my book while I’m listening to a podcast.

So I have to be doing one thing at a time, whereas you know the norm today is to try to figure out how to juggle multiple things. I guess, I have to also add in, there is a time whenever multitask can make sense. I did a talk the other day and I was in this rural community, and a person came up and he said “You know, I think you’re talking about multitasking. Well, if I never multitask during my day, I’d gonna get anything done.”

And then he went on to explain that, he’s a farmer and he drives the tractor all day and he said “So it’s abnormal for me to pick a call from my wife talk around driving a tractor.” Well, I’m pretty sure you can probably multitask enough with the headset on and drives the truck. So when I say multitasking, what I’m getting at is the things that need to focus, something you can’t do an autopilot.

So like a mother holding the baby and talking on the phone that’s multitasking but it’s not like either of those things unless she’s endanger of dropping the baby. She should sit down and she can probably do both of those things at once. Mothers multitask all day but usually the things they’re doing isn’t going to be a thing that that requires so much attention that if it’s not done right, it’s going to impact their personal professional life.

To clarify this whole thing what I’m getting at is there’s time for a quick multitask because neither one of them has to do with something that is your genius area or your most important time where you should be focused. When you are in that area, I believe you should be doing one thing at a time and avoid many distractions.

And then I also think that whether they’re trying to serve four or five, let’s call them bees, you know four or five things, you should figure out where is the one thing I’m trying to do here. Like you could say, who am I trying to reach as an audience with our show and what’s the one message I’m trying to give to them versus trying to give them 13 different messages. So that’s what I mean by the One Thing, does that make sense in terms of how I define it because it has various different levels of the one thing for me.

Andrea: Yeah, right. No, it does. It does make sense. I tend to call it alignment and making sure that everything is aligned with that core message or as you put it “the why,” and yeah it makes a lot of sense and then it comes out in this different what I call creative contributions. So whether it’s speaking, your writing you’re your podcast whatever, like you said different platforms or these different offerings that you have are aligned with that why, with that message that you’re wanting to share. I think that makes so much sense and it’s so powerful. I totally agree.

Corey Poirier: Yeah, like I said that book by the way, just an FYI and if somebody is looking for resources maybe they love reading, grab that book if you’re looking for a way to get more focused or if you know single tasking makes more sense and you want proof and you want also a strategy on how to do that that’s one of those books. There are not so many modern books for me personally, like in the last five years, I can put up there for me with How to Win Friends and Influence People or Think and Grow Rich, you know, those classics that changed millions of lives.

The One Thing is one of those books that I believed has that ability. I think over a million people bought it so I can’t speak for how many lives that has changed but what I can say, for me it’s one of those books that should be in that classic genre. It might make it there.   Another one just an extra is that The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. So if you’re looking for books that I can literally say modern books in the last five years that have changed my way of thinking and changed my way of doing, those are two books I would say, “run, don’t walk.”

Andrea: Cool. Now Corey, tell us where we can find your book Why?

Corey Poirier: Interestingly enough, Andrea, depending when the listeners are hearing this, and I’m saying this because it could be either or. But in the next few weeks, we’re going to be launching the book in a full scale. We’re using a Kickstarter campaign. So we’re taking a very modern and different approach to launch. We’re going to be using a Kickstarter campaign, so people are going to be able to support the project while getting the book or audio version of the book and the book or various different prize levels if you will.

But basically, where you find that is the

What I will say in my opinion for the sake of the price of the book, we’ve already seen it with the three digital books; we have people that have changed their whole life patterns based on it. So this is thousands of hours of research where you packed in all these quotes and everything.

So whether you go there and get it for free as the shorthand book or you get the full book and grab a copy, I think it still worth it. What you get from it is you learn how to find your why, you’ll learn how to tap and do it, and then you’ll learn more about these traits I’ve been sharing. You’ll learn how to run a meaningful business and become more lightened and then you’ll get access to 450 quotes of which even just one of those could possibly change your life or way of thinking.

Andrea: Cool. Well, that’s exciting. Congratulations on this endeavor and good luck on it!

Corey Poirier: Oh thank you so much!

Andrea: Alright. Well, thank you for being here Corey. Thank you for sharing so many really helpful insights and you’re inspiring story with us today.

Corey Poirier: Oh thank you, Andrea, and I have to add, thank you for all the work you’re doing. I would say you know that both from show host and from listeners, so thanks for the listeners as well. But without listeners of course, we don’t really have a purpose so talking about your whys. I want to thank you first of all for making it so that listeners give us a purpose, you know, more of us to out this out there that means more listeners are going to discover, podcasts and shows in which they find ways to change their life and then of course to those listeners, I want to say thank you for giving me and Andrea both a purpose.

So just thanks for helping me some magic happened today all the way around.

Andrea: Awesome! Alright, we’ll talk to you later.

Alright, so depending on when you listen to this, will have something different. If it’s asking you for a code, add ‘why’ as the code, otherwise, you’re going to be able to have the opportunity to see all the different things that Corey is doing with his book.

Now, we really dig into a lot of really good, good tips and strategies. I’m in particular really fascinated by this idea of why. And I would just encourage you to make sure that you dial down on that why as tight as you can get because if you end up living it really really broad, it might be hard for you to really feel like it’s a tight alignment with all the things that you’re doing.

But if you get really clear, really focused, really dialed down on your why then everything else is going to feel tighter like it’s a power packed kind of presence that you have. When I say presence, I’m talking about whatever you’re doing and whatever you’re offering. So I would definitely encourage you to do that, to get really dial down in on your why.

If you’re looking for additional help with that, I do have a guide. And you can go find it at, I think that that will help you a lot too.

Alright, thank you so much for your time today and for your attention. If you have it already, please go subscribe the Voice of Influence and I really look forward to seeing you next on our Voice Studio. So dial in and dial down on that why and make your voice matter more!


Offer the Feather that Could Nudge People to Their Destiny with Terry Weaver

Episode 30

Elephants make bad pets. If you read Terry Weaver’s new release Making Elephants Fly, you’ll realize why. The “elephant in the room” for too many people is that they have dreams they aren’t pursuing. There’s no simple answer to what we ought to do with our dreams, but in this interview, Terry explains the havoc these “elephants” cause in people’s lives. Sometimes the greatest risk is to let an elephant make it’s home in your living room, where it doesn’t belong. What dream is chasing you? Who needs you to be a Timothy Mouse in their lives by offering a feather to help them believe in themselves?

You can find Terry on his website,

Making Elephants Fly is now available at,

and information about his live event “The Thing” at

Play here (the red triangle below), on iTunes, Stitcher or TuneIn Radio (Amazon Alexa) or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Full Interview Transcript

Andrea: Terry Weaver, it is so good to have you back on the Voice of Influence podcast.

Terry Weaver: I’m a fan. I’m excited to be back, a fan of your work, and it’s exciting to be back again today.

Andrea: Yeah, thank you! When we were talking back, gosh, I think your episode came out May, maybe even April last year or of this year, 2017 and we were talking about some of the things that you were working on your book. And now I have it in my hands and it’s so good, Terry. It’s great!

Terry Weaver:   Thank you! You know, there are courses that you take how to write book in a month. I did not take that course. It’s just more like how to spend way too long writing a book. It’s good to get it done and get it out of the world and start telling people about the stories. I feel like I’ve been treating this animal for the last five years and now I’m ready to take it off the press so that it’s out in world and hope that it helps people and doesn’t kill me.

Andrea: You’re asking people to be audacious so you’ll never know.

Terry Weaver: Exactly!   I mean, I’d rather them die living the best possible life than to wither away living the life that was not worth living.

Andrea: Yes!

Terry Weaver: Yeah. My friends give me a hard time because sometimes I kind of lead towards that morbid…but you know, we live in a world right now that it’s just seems like it’s going mad like Alice in Wonderland. And I was like “Has the place gone mad? Yes, I think it has.” And there’s just a lot of chaos. There’s a lot of hurt. There’s a lot of pain, and our time on this planet is really limited, so I want to do my part to encourage people to go on and live now and stop waiting for…

As you’ve read, you know, the beginning of the book really starts with the permission like literally. I’m giving people just permission to chase those big audacious dreams. There’s never been a better time to do what you want to do from where you are. And I’m not here to show and go that at the end of the journey is going to be easy. It’s going to be 10 times harder than you ever imagine.

But yeah, it’s so much work to make these things happen and to make these things become real and big dreams come with a lot of late nights. I’m ending a season of living from one season of hustle as I call it with a little tiny break in between. Now that I’m in my 40s, staying up until 3:00, 4:00, 5:00, or 6:00 in the morning working and getting things out the door hurt a lot more than it did in my 20s.

Andrea: Oh yeah!

Terry Weaver: So the bounce back is you know when you’re in college and you did those things and it’s like two cups of coffee the next day, you’re good. Now, it’s like in the middle of the following week, you still feel like you’ve been run over by a train, but we’re here proceeding.

Andrea: That’s right. The book is called Making Elephants Fly. So Terry, where did you come up with this title and why this title? And this is the title of your podcast as well, so why this title?

Terry Weaver: I was sitting in a Starbucks one day and a friend of mine was having a conversation online. And he was kind of talking about Walt’s quote where he said “If you can dream it, you can do it.” And I was just like “Yeah, but…” and I said something to him that I was like “No, no, what you miss is the fact that Walt Disney believed in the idea that if he can make an elephant fly in a cartoon that the imagineers can make an elephant fly at a theme park.

He believed that if there was an idea that he can get a team or process a way to move that idea forward. Really, all of our dreams come true if we have the courage to pursue them and we really chase to go after them. If we don’t give up, when trial comes and tribulations come. And if you know Walt Disney’s story, his story was one greater than pain and hurt and struggle.

So I was sitting at the Starbucks, at the time I really wasn’t writing much. I was blogging and I would write my blog there. I begin to just start talking to all the baristas that day because one of them said “Hey, what are you doing?” I was like “Oh, I’m just writing my blog.” That always leads to a longer conversation. I discovered everybody working in that building had no desire to be a barista. All of them had moved to the city of Nashville to chase a song-writing dream.

They came here to work on the production team or they came here because they knew there was a creative environment here. They came here because they wanted to get on in the medical field and they knew there was a lot of opportunity here because there was a big healthcare area. All these people were doing nothing how to do with their dreams and I was just like “Man.”

And then the thought kind of crossed through my head at the beginning there, imagine the elephant in a room that they’re living with. I switch sometimes working in the music business and I remember all the artists that quit right before things started. They were on the edge where the pain was real, the work was incredibly hard but they were moving to the phase where things were going to start to get a little at least differently and a little bit easier and the door is going to start opening a little wider for them but they quit.

I thought about all of them living with the pain of “What if.” Those two words can haunt your entire life, “What if? What if I never do this? What if I would have done this?” So I just started kind of thinking about the idea of an elephant. I don’t know about you, but I get a lot of ideas maybe too many. But when I do get an idea, I tend to kind of let it live with me and this idea of “making elephants fly” just would not freaking go away.

I had really, I mean honestly, no desire to write a book. I never did well in English in school. If you tell every teacher that I would be writing a book, they would laugh in your face, but this book just begins and just come out of me and so I started. I started but I was just like, you know, I’m a person of faith so I was like “So OK, God, if this is really something you want me to do, I’m going to call the Nashville Zoo and they’re going to let me hangout with the elephants.”

That totally seems like something that normal people would say no to, right? “Nope,” then next they say “Hey sir, we love to schedule the time. We love to have you. This is normally where they cost thousands of dollars but we love what you’re doing, we want to support you.” So I go to the zoo and get to interview the head zoo keeper and the guy stood out there and talked to me forever. It was literally like a 100 degrees in Nashville. It was incredibly off out of the normal day. And he was like “Hey man, it’s hot out here. Can we go back stage; I’d like to show you where the elephants live when they’re not on the zoo.” I’m like “Are you kidding me right now?”

So we go back and we get to spend time with the elephants and he was like “Hey, let me take you into their enclosures.” So we go there really through the bars into the elephants’ cage where they stay, which by the way, is freaking scary but it was also scary for the elephant. So I met an elephant by the name of Juno and she’s a beautiful elephant. She has since passed out of a disease elephant’s in captivity and they get a lot of diseases which is why it’s much better where they could be in a place out of the zoo and be out open and moving. A lot of zoos are moving more towards that.

As soon as I walked into the cage, she had to pee. And we’ve all heard the phrase, “You got to pee like race horse.” Nope, that statement should be, “You got to pee like an elephant.” Because let me tell you, the only way I could describe it, it was like a fire hose coming out of a 55 gallon bucket all at once and that was kind of her reactions to me coming in there. He said “No, no that’s normal.” I’m like “Man, there was nothing normal about what was coming out of her right there. That was the most fluid I’ve ever seen in my entire life.”

So that moment I truly understood and I really had a pretty clear picture of what is like to live with an elephant that you should have in your house. I just started to think of all my friends and all of the people that I kind of knew that have these big crazy ideas and are doing nothing about them. You know in my head, I’m just imagining this elephant going around and peeing all over furniture and I was like “Man, that’s a mess.” Then I begin to realize why they’re miserable, why their marriages were struggling, why they weren’t happy, or why they hated their job and so I wanted to write a book for these people.

Obviously, the idea of Making Elephants Fly inspired by the story of Dumbo in Walt Disney in desires to make elephants fly, and you can go to every theme park. Everywhere they’re located you can go and ride an elephants fly. I still get an elephant ride like a crazy person that go up and down and just to remind myself of like “Wow, someone at one point thought this was impossible to do,” but one man’s dream and one man’s passion for an idea made it happen. And now Tim Burton is actually in production of doing a live-action Dumbo movie, which you know, I love Tim Burton, so I hope that’s going to be cool.

But yeah, we all have these elephants. We all have this big dream. We all have these big passions; but the difference is a lot of us are just living with them. I’ve seen the other side of how inaction would do more damage than actually taking the risk of actually breaking free than actually doing the things and giving them a try. We’ve been taught at a young age that failure is a bad thing. You don’t want to be a failure, but one of those things that makes you a failure is when you don’t get back up when you do fail. We’re all going to not succeed at something. We’re all not going to achieve the things that we set out to achieve. But when we’re actually are pursuing those things, there’s going to be a lot of failure but it’s a lot better than just asking yourself at the end of your “What if?”

Andrea: Yes!

Terry Weaver: One of the big ideas in the book is even if you are nearing the end of your life, if you’re not dead; you’re not done. That’s one of the big ideas in the book. If you’re here and you’re living and breathing, you’re here with a purpose. You’re here with something to do and it’s never too late to accomplish those big dreams that you’ve been wanting to accomplish.

Andrea: Boy, I can relate to this idea of the elephant that is trapped and still in captivity inside, because that’s definitely how I felt a few years ago. I can tell you, I affirm what you just said about how it can just cause havoc. I actually read the part, about the elephant peeing, like that page to my kids. They just died laughing. I thought that was hilarious by the way, but I think that that picture I just get it. It resonated with me and I think a lot of people don’t realize it that they don’t see it probably because of the other thing that you talked about towards the beginning of the book was that the elephants that follow each other in captivity with their tails. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about that because that’s pretty good too?

Terry Weaver: So you’ve mentioned your kids, you know, the very first thing your kids learn when they go to school is what? They’re taught to stand in line.

Andrea: Oh yes! Don’t even get me started.

Terry Weaver: They’re taught to follow along. They’re taught to comply. In fact our entire education system is set up so that we will comply. If you don’t believe me in the story, go read books by Sir Ken Robinson and go read Seth Godin’s Stop Stealing Dreams. One of the best things I’ve ever read and it’s a free. It’s just a free PDF. But kids, you know, you’ll learn at an early age that you should just follow the person in front of you and you kind of march through your childhood like that, right?

I met a fifth grader a few weeks ago, he was talking about college. You know, when I was in fifth grade, the last thing on my mind was college, right? I was just trying to figure out how to stop picking my nose, you know what I mean?   I never wanted to grow up. And so I rode my big wheel. It was a chips big wheel. It has had the wheels that literally fell off of a thing, right? It’s very interesting how society and I think even the idea of the American dream, I talked about in the book is one of those things that tries to keep us in captivity.

You know that idea that you go to school and you go to college and then you graduate college and you have two and a half kids, too bad for that 0.5 child, right? Then you go on and you live your life and you’re working on a job that you really don’t like but you do it because it’s a safe thing to do and then you retire and then you move to Florida and you wait to die. That’s kind of the American dream. I was just listening to a podcast for speakers with Ken Davis. He’s on his late 60s he’s like “I’m not retired.” He’s like “Retirement for me is death.” There are a lot of us that are starting to say “I wanna get out of that life. I wanna stop complying.”

So elephants in the wild will sometimes do a practice called “tailing.” If you’ve ever seen the elephants in the circus or elephants in the zoo, you’ll see the elephant’s trunk will grab the tail of the elephant in front of them. That’s mostly a practice that’s used with elephants that are in captivity not because it makes them safer, but it does keep them in-line and it gives you the illusion of safety, right? “OK, these elephants are complying, they’re following instructions, and they’re just following along.”

I think we march through life with the illusion of safety. We march through life with the illusion that we’re going to get a job and it’s secure. One of my coaching clients, her husband just lost his job that he was nearing retirement for. He worked his entire life for the safety and security of a job that he really didn’t like. And now here he is when he’s kind of cutting on his job, you know, he’s kind of at the red zone of life trying to get across the goal line and the same that he had been doing something he didn’t love, he ended up giving up because they let him down.

I think of Jim Carey, if you haven’t seen Jim Carey’s speech. He’s like “You can fail doing something you hate, so why would you not try to fail doing something you love.” And man, get on the line and be the kid. Luckily, my mom kind of allowed me to be that kid growing up. I got a lot of trouble in school. I acted out a lot. I was the kid in second grade that discovered that if you throw pencils on a teacher, you can get out of the class.

Andrea: Oh no!

Terry Weaver: I was the kid that learned that it was even better if you could keep the pencils really sharp. So my poor second grade teacher, they’ve told me had a nervous breakdown and quit teaching after that year. I got to do second grade again the next year. Kids, if you’re listening, I’m not telling you that’s how you should act. My parents had just gone through a divorce, I was acting out. I was wanting attention, but even at an early age, I started to go “I’m not really one for following the rules.”

Obviously, you’ve got to be a law abiding citizen. There are some rules that you have to follow, right? Or they put you away. But there’s no rule that says you have to go and work at a job you hate. Obviously, you had to make a living and as you know put in together a portfolio of opportunity that allows you to make a living, that’s easier said than done, right? For me, the alternative of going through life hating what I do is just not something I’m willing to accept.

We’ve got one shot at this thing called life like there’s not a second act. There’s not a sequel to life. We live in a Hollywood culture where there’s a sequel to everything but there’s no sequel to life. You don’t get to do this again. You don’t get to fix what went wrong in your first one the second time. We get one shot at it. Man, I believe that getting at a line as soon as you possibly can in chasing and doing.

I’m so jealous of kids that are in their late teens, early 20s and the world that they’re coming into of opportunity. When I was in my 20s, the internet had really just become a thing. We were still on AOL where we wanted the internet; we had to hear this (ahh ehh err) sound in the internet. The internet crawled along and you could basically send email and chat. That was really it. You really can’t book an airplane ticket online. You could barely sell anything, right?

Now, we’re having a conversation of over a thousand miles away through the internet. It can be posted and people are going to download this and listen to it in their car on the internet. But it’s just crazy if you think about that, right? People can go online and buy your book, buy my book on the internet. They don’t have to go to Barnes & Noble to buy, they can go to a website and put their credit card in and in a couple of days, the mail will show up and put that in the mail boxes.

There’s so much opportunity that there’s just no excuse to not do what you want. I’m not one of these guys that’s like “You can do it and it’s gonna be easy.” No, I’m telling you, “You could do it and it’s gonna feel like it’s impossible.” It’s going to be the most fun that you’ve ever had, but it’s going to be the hardest work that you’ve ever done but the reward is going to be incredible.

Andrea: I love that. I love that when you’re talking about story time with the elephants and you bring this exercise that I think is really interesting, the storyboarding your life. Tell us about that. What are the steps and what do you actually tell people do?

Terry Weaver: So it is something that I did several years ago. I had a coaching client really before I was even doing coaching. That guy met me in a coffee shop and was like “Hey, man, I’ll talk to you for five minutes and you tell me to figure out more in five minutes than I have in my entire life. I live in another city. I’ll fly you in. I’ll pay your expenses. I know how much you get paid to speak, I’ll just pay you that for three days, each day, and can you help me figure out where to go from here? Can you help me get unstuck?”

And that was kind of the first time I had really done that, so I was like “OK, I want you to go to Wal-Mart or wherever you go or send someone…” He was pretty wealthy individual, obviously if he can afford to hire some kids sitting in a coffee shop. So I had him give out index cards and we did the process like he would storyboard a movie, and we did it with his life. He figured out what are his roles and his goals.

I’m actually kind of turning this into a course that I’ll be recording. My wife has actually had me take her stuff through it. She’s getting a really good deal because she kind of personally pays me. So I’m doing it for free, the things we do for our spouses. When you storyboard a movie, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen like a documentary, The Pixar Story, which is a Pixar movie.

It’s a great documentary by a lady name, Leslie Iwerks. Her grandfather was Ub Iwerks, which was Walt Disney right-hand man. If you’ve ever seen Mickey Mouse, Ub was really responsible for Mickey. Walt kind of had the idea and Ub made them real, and they’re doing the same thing about Disney imaginary called Imagineering Story that’s supposed to come out soon too.

In the Pixar Story, you can see what storyboarding is. If you’ve ever seen an image of an animated movie because of so much cost and expense goes into every frame, even with computer animation, someone still has to literally touch almost every frame. So when you storyboard, you figure out what’s to going to happen intentionally in every part of the movie. And so storyboarding your life is really just that where you take your story of your life and you figure out how do you go to the process of what you want your life to look like.

You know, storyboarding is something you use a brainstorming. I used that when I wrote the book. I carry about a deck of index cards. There’s another author by the name of Rob Bell and I saw him did that with index cards, I’m like “Do that and that’s the best.” I had every kind of part and piece of the book in every story that I wanted to tell and I’d begin to put them together like a puzzle. It’s just a process that allows you to kind of look, it allows you to kind of hover over a big idea and see the whole thing.

What I want to do when storyboarding your life is I’m going to hover over your life. You know, with Stephen Covey in his book, The 7 Habits talks about one of the habits is beginning with the end in mind. There’s an amazing story he tells in that book about, you know, imagine you were going to your own funeral in a few weeks and what would you want people to say about you. And man, that’s a jacked up exercise right there when you start thinking about the end of your life and those terms.

But when you start to look at how you want your story to end, it will have a great amount of impact of how you actually lived your life. The part of this process is really identifying your goals. When a movie is made there are a lot of people who watch the end credits. It’s unbelievable how many people it takes to make a movie. There’s hundreds and hundreds of you know, key group, craft services, and all of these things, right? Just really identifying all the people who have a role in your life and who of those people, who they are, and do they really matter both professionally and personally. What are your roles? What part are you playing in your own story?

A lot of people find out through this process that they’re the bystander in their own story. They’re kind of watching their life go by from the sidelines, much like a team that’s losing in a football waiting for the game to end. What I want this practice to do is to help people to get off the sidelines to get on life and figure out, “Let’s make changes. Let’s tell a great story. Let’s live a great story.” A lot of people really believe that life is an accident for them and life shouldn’t be an accident. Life should be something you do with purposes.

I think I talked about like defining what success is, establishing your why, clarifying your what, determining your how, assembling your who’s, and scheduling your when. Those are just the few things. For me, these things kind of helped because I’m all over the place and for me to have a blueprint or map, an outline, something to go back to know like “Wow, where am I going? How am I getting there? Who’s helping me get there?” Because I think one of the things that really helps you do is it helps you know who you’re going to need to help you make your story better.

When a movie gets to be a production, they bring in other people. They bring in other storyboard. There’s a great story of Walt Disney making the movie Snow White. It was the first kind of movie I like that was animated so firs animated movie and people were just like skeptical. So what Walt literally got his entire team together and he literally acted out the entire movie for everyone so everyone can see “Here’s the big picture guys,” and you know the next day, everybody went back to work and they got it. They understood the mission because the vision had been laid out. And most of us do that when we project-manage, we do that in our job but we don’t do that with our own lives. We don’t know where we’re going and we surely don’t know how to get there.

Not to say that life doesn’t throw you curveballs but things are changing and things are moving. Then you want to be moving in such a way with intention and live life with a sense of purpose in knowing how to get to that goal and knowing what that end of the movie. Because we’ve all been in the movies and been like “Man, that ending was the worst.” My mom is the best of that like if she gets to a movie, she’ll start yelling at the screen or yelling at the TV at the end that’s like “I’ve been sitting here for two and a half hours and they died. That’s what you did to me.”

We should want to take a great deal of control over the things and we can’t control everything that happens with our story. We can’t control the things that just happen that are part of that, but we sure can control how we plan or how we prepare and how we live with a great deal of intention with our own life. And that’s why I think storyboarding your life is a really powerful tool. I planted the seeds for people in the book and I’m excited to begin to even take that process.

I think I’ve done it with about three hundred or four hundred people and kind of gone through that process. So now it’s time to really take that to another level and make it with people who do that online and really just understand the process of knowing what where they’re going and what their stories going to be about and who’s involved. I think people, like you, who are available as a coach, you know, having a director and having someone that’s helping you guide the process who’s invaluable.

A lot of us think that we don’t need a coach or we don’t need a director. Man, the more people I coach the more I realized that man, it’s just a help to have people who can help us navigate. You know, we’re kind of sailing through life without a GPS and having people…and even if it’s just a couple of steps down the road, at least they know, at least they’ve kind of seen where we’re going and know at least what’s the weather going to be like when we get there and kind of prepare us and help just be ready for what’s coming. And help us really make sure we intentionally get where we’re going.

We talked about the “road less travelled” where a lot of us tried to take that path, right? It’s really easy to get lost in the road less travelled. There’s no other way that I would choose to go but I definitely know that I’m going need a guide; I’m going to need some help on that journey. I’m going to need a community, I’m going to a need a tribe. And so yeah, I think knowing your story, knowing where you’re headed in life, and knowing who’s going to help you get there is really what separates success or failure for a lot of people.

Andrea: Terry, I know that sometimes people feel like their dreams are not worth investing in or they aren’t worth the time and energy and even sometimes money that it takes to be able to move forward and to make their elephant really fly, what would you say to that person?

Weaver Terry: What’s the alternative? I think a lot of us when we think about chasing ideas and dreams, fear as kind of bars of the prison that keep us back. You know, I was like the exercise of like “OK, I get you, it’s scary.” What’s the worst possible thing that’s going to happen if you make this move and make this jump? OK, you’re going to quit your job, great. So you’re going to quit your job and you’re never going to be able to get another one? Is that what you’re thinking that’s going to happen, because that’s not what happens? That’s now how life works.

People quit their jobs all the time realizing this isn’t for them and they go back to do something else. And I’m not saying that everyone needs to go and quit their job to be entrepreneur. Being an entrepreneur, I know that it’s not for everyone. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you may not have something that you do on the side, you know as Chris Guillebeau’s of the Side Hustle. You know, that’s a healthy thing.

I know a lot of your audience as mommas working from home. You’ve already got a fulltime kick raising children and then you’re also probably raising your husband. So you know, man, I just keep always going back to the idea you know, “Sure, chasing your dreams is going to be expensive, right? But what’s the cost if you don’t.” I thought that cost is much higher. You may not necessarily be financial, but it’s definitely emotional.

Andrea: Yeah.

Terry Weaver: Let’s just pick someone in history, imagine if Michael Jordan had said, “Duh, getting up every day and shooting free throws is too work, I’m gonna to quit.” Imagine if Einstein would have stopped the light bulb number 2,998. Imagine if Steve Jobs would have said “Yeah, it’s sounds like a good idea, _____ everyone wants to make it, but I still wanna do with telecom companies.” Imagine if Walt Disney had after he went bankrupt said “Nah, I’m not gonna get on a train and go to Hollywood with $40 twinning.”

I think we could do the entire podcast or read stats like this about everyone that you probably think is cool and they all have them across every field. It’s just story after story, after story, after story that you could say that the people that…imagine if they had to quit too soon. Don’t be reckless that you’ll put yourself on a bankruptcy over it, but there’s going to be some risk and there’s going to be some inconvenience. I’m not challenging people to do something that I haven’t done either. I realized that if you’re looking for an eight-hour work day, this is not the pathway here.

I’m coming off of season of a lot of 18-hour work days. You can probably hear it in my voice but that’s the season that I’m in, right? To make big things happen, big sacrifices required. We’ve been talking with my mastermind group about someone asked me what my business plan was. I kind of giggled with that you know because the idea of a business plan, most of the time you’re just try a business plan when you want someone to give you money. It’s people who make up numbers and like “Yeah, we’re gonna be doing $4 million in 18 months.” For me, I realized that the way that I do business was more tied to my core values than anything.

I write down that my business plan was to be someone that was empathetic, someone that value others. If you don’t think that business plan works, go to a fast food restaurant and take an order with someone who doesn’t care. We’ve all had that experience, or we’ve gone to some place like Chick-fil-A with their they’re trained to believe in excellence and to believe in customers’ care, and they care. They’re like “Hey, my pleasure. Thank you for coming in today,” and you know, the other thing is about generosity.

You know, on the flipside of generosity is also being selfish. Being generous with yourself, taking care of yourself, self-care saying “You know what, I’m gonna go with that massage.” “I’m gonna take this day off. I’m gonna take this trip,” because rest is part of the process. The third thing was integrity, and I think integrity is the key differentiator of success and failure that your yes is yes and your no is no.

We all have banks and investments that we make at other people and when you say yes and you actually don’t follow through, you’re making huge deductions out of your relationships. I think this integrity comes back to yourself, right? I love what Jon Acuff says, I went to his book launch. He said goals are promises that you make to yourself and so the integrity of reaching your goals. And even if you don’t reach someone you said you would but that you still follow through it. I wanted to have this book of like three years ago, but things happened. The timing is right now and the opportunity is right, and so I’m finally following through on that goal and I haven’t given up, and believe me I’d quit a lot. I normally quit a couple nights a week, you know, I’m just like “Done. I’m over.”

When you get back up the next day and you’re like “Alright, I’m back at it.” I also said imagination was a key part of my business plan that I want to be someone that’s, you know, if you noticed that I talked about Walt Disney a lot because it greatly inspires me to dream bigger and to have an imagination. Or I think, you know, we live in a world with big problems and I want the people that are going to be great leaders of our generation are going to be the ones of the best in imagination. We have a lot of problems that require a lot of creativity to solve.

And the last one is this and I think this is the one that is a real differentiator, and it’s really the generosity and empathy and that’s this to always be the one that brings the most value, to add the most value to every relationship, to every meeting, to every opportunity to come upon, to be the person that’s just adding values to other people. We live in a world where everything feels like it has to be transactional, right? Everything feels like “You’re a coach. I’m a coach. We get paid to talk to people all the time and sometimes you have to do things just because you’re generous and you want to add value. And once you do that, once you are generous, I believe that success and the financial rewards begin to come.

This guy reached out on LinkedIn and said “Hey man…” he mentioned the list of all three of my podcasts. I was like “OK, I’ll give you some time.” He was like “Do you have just a few minutes so I could pick your brain?’ And I don’t know, I always say yes to that. Most of the times I’ll just kind of send you to my coaching page and say, “Hey man, we can schedule some time here.”

But I was just being generous; I wanted to help him out and really would know a gender, right? I kind of, most of the time, give everything in return, I was just like “I’ll talk to this guy and give him 30 to 45 minutes.” It turned out to be like an hour and I really wasn’t expecting anything then he started asking me about my coaching program. He started asking me about the conference I produced. So by the end of the conversation, I’ll make way more than I can ever imagined just because I was generous, just because I added value to him. He’s probably going to attend my conferences of VIP and sign up for a coaching program next year when he has the budget to do it. That wouldn’t have happened if I wouldn’t have showed up. I think 90% of success is just showing up.

Andrea: You know, the last time that you were in the podcast, I actually got quite of a feedback, really positive feedback in how people were so inspired by the things that you were saying. I think the book and everything that you’re saying, it’s really not just about like you said before, it’s not just about entrepreneurship, but we’re talking about just taking a step towards something. I mean, going for it and being vulnerable in your relationships or maybe realizing that your job is not what you want it to be and maybe there is something out there for you. Why not go find it?

You know, letting go of toxic relationships or trying something new, some new exercise plan or diet or something, people don’t want to change. They get kind of set in their ways but what your inspiring I think is just an openness of mind like you said and your ability to imagine of what if life was something different. I love that this message reaches so many different kinds of people in so many different levels.

Terry Weaver: And I’ve learned to listen. Oprah has come up before we got in the call; I was watching a video that she was in it. Trust me; I’m by no means like a member of the Oprah Winfrey fan club, although one day I hope she gets a free car because that would be cool. But I do study her a lot as a leader. She’s probably one of the people in our generation that’s effectively led more people than anyone there alive. There was a season there that every woman in America at 4 o’clock, or whatever time she came on, was watching her. And if a product was announced on her show, a lot of people give the success of the iPad to Steve Jobs, but it was one of her favorite things that year and it blew up.

I’ll just read you this from a book, it reads with no quote, we get to choose what voices we listen to and once that we surround ourselves would change everything great leaders understand. And that Oprah Winfrey said, one of the best news is to surround myself with friends instead f asking why are quick to say why not and that attitude is contagious. She understood and that needed to surround herself with the right people. Most people who get stuck in this cycle that can’t get off, can’t make moves, or can’t go forward, the people that they’re surrounding themselves are responsible for the main captive, because they’re surrounded by a bunch of people who doubt everything, who question everything, or people who are OK with saying what if later in life.

But when you make the shift and you start surrounding yourself with people just giving you the permission of at least encouraging the conversation when you say “why,” they say “but why not?” It’s just such a paradigm shift when you move your life to the place where you allow yourself to be surrounded by people who are pushing you forward rather than holding you back.

Almost everyone who has had great success was surrounded by an amazing team of people both that are kind of in a frontline, behind the scenes, and people that you never see or hear about that are just there pushing you forward. That could be a spouse; that could be a mastermind group, that could be a mentor, and that could be a coach. In an ideal world that’s all of those things, working together in synergy encouraging you, pushing you forward, and not allowing you to quit when you quit everyday but saying “Hey, you can do this. You can make it.”

You know, I do thank you so much that I have heard from a lot of your listeners and love knowing that I’m inspired them.

But I would be a failure if I just inspired you today. I want to inspire you to do something. I want to inspire you to act. There’s a lot of inspiring people in the world. I want to be someone that’s inspiring people to act, inspiring people to do. And I hope that if you read Making Elephants Fly that you’re inspired, but I hope that you’re uncomfortable enough that you’re going to do something about what you’re inspired to do. Because there are a lot of people walking around in this planet with big dreams, but a lot of them are going to go to the grave with them.

They say that the biggest collection of dreams is sitting on the top of your casket as you’re buried. Man, I don’t want to live this life with anything undone. I want live it out on the field. I want to live this life. I want to do the things that I’m here to do. I want to make an impact. I don’t want to be that guy that dies with a bucket list of things that you wanted to do but never did. I want to get out there and live and do.

In my world that’s entrepreneurship, it’s chasing dreams, but it’s also taking both of our moms to Hawaii over Thanksgiving instead of cooking a dinner that costs $500 that makes us fat. We’re going to go in the beach in Hawaii instead and so it’s doing those things. I’m sure the timing of that is horrible for me right now, but if we wait for the right time for everything, we’ll never actually do anything. I don’t want to be the person that just talks about doing things; I want to be the guy that’s known for doing things.

I may fail miserably and embarrass myself, but man, when I get to end of my life, I want to be able to say, “You know what, at least I tried, at least I got up to the plate, I stood there and I kept swaying. I hit some balls, I miss some balls, I threw the bat and hit the bat boys, I struck out a couple of times but I stood there and I left it all in the field and I did what I’ve been put here to do.

Andrea: Yeah, yeah! I’ve got one more question for you for before we wrap up, is that OK?

Terry Weaver: Yeah, yeah, I’m good.

Andrea: You mentioned that you have ADD or that you might have ADD, and we talked about students and being in school earlier and I want you to speak to somebody right now. If somebody is struggling, maybe they’re students or maybe they’re in a job, and it’s not just going very well. They’re not very good at it maybe and other people around them are better and even their friends. Even the things that they’re really good at, the things that they are good at, their boss or their teacher, it’s like an inconvenience you know. It’s causing problems instead of being something of way that they can share who they are and use their gifts they’re not able to use. Those are squashed they’re just feeling down in the dumps. What is that look like for them to make an elephant fly?

Terry Weaver: Well, I think we live in a culture now more than ever where personal responsibility has gone out of the window. It’s really easy to blame everyone your circumstances, your peers, your boss, your teacher, or your environment. But personal responsibility says “You know what, this is my thing. I’m gonna do this. I’m utterly responsible for what I do with my life. I’m not going to worry about what anybody else’s things.”

If you go back to Dumbo, that story; Dumbo was very much that kid, right? You know, Dumbo was laughed at. The elephants didn’t want him. That’s the reason why I wrote this book because I was that kid, right? The elephants didn’t want Dumbo. The clowns didn’t want Dumbo. Nobody thought Dumbo could do anything. And staring at Dumbo with its giants ears which everyone would say was this “massively-ness” and Dumbo was able to take what everyone thought was his greatest weakness. It actually turned out to be his greatest strength because no one could see it except for one person and that was Timothy Q. Mouse.

I would actually like to speak to the people that have those people in their lives, be Timothy Mouse. Be the person that finds the good in someone and helps them believe in themselves because if you look, everyone had that person. I had that teacher. Luckily for me, my third grade teacher changed my life. She made me think, dream, imagine, and do things that I never thought I could do. Be that person. Be that Timothy Mouse. Be the person that everyone else that is holding them back and help them find a way to breakthrough.

If you don’t have someone that does that, you’re just going to have to find that belief in yourself. I had some great teachers growing up and I had some horrible teachers. Well let’s call him Mr. E for short, in case he listens to this podcast, but he was a horrible man. And I remember him pulling me out at a seventh grade one day at my Christian school, that’s the whole other subject and just telling me that my life was never going to amount anything. And I was just like “Wow dude, I’m gonna so prove you wrong.”

And sometimes you just have to be the one that proves everyone else’s wrong. Sometimes, you have to make your mess your motivation. You have to make that struggle and that pain… I mean, Dumbo can easily sat around and just cry about his problems. When you see a scene of the movie where he’s literally sitting there, it’s the saddest part of the movie where he was sitting there. His mom was in the car locked up and you heard the song Baby Mine. That’s why a lot of people don’t like Dumbo because you’re sitting there on your couch trying to watch this happy movie about an elephant and weeping your eyes out. It was a low point for Dumbo but he used that up to breakthrough, to find out what he could do to make him soar.

It was Timothy Mouse that gave him a feather that allowed him the strength to believe in himself and to actually find…that feather wasn’t magical but it was that nudge from someone else that pushed him over the edge, that led him into his destiny, that led him into doing what he was put here to do and that was to soar. We’re all supposed to be the elephant that can fly. We all have weaknesses. We all have things that maybe we’ve been told that’s going to keep us in doing what we want to do. We have this weakness or the shortcoming, it’s our size, it’s our lack of size, it’s our whatever, whatever your blank is that you’re facing.

Sure, I’ve got ADD. If you listen to me talk, I still have that. But you know what; we live in a world that really is kind of giving an extra dose of ADD because the idea of just doing one thing is kind of a thing in the past. Jeff Goins says on his podcast the Portfolio Life, “We’re building portfolio of things that we did.” When I told my wife I was having this book, she was like “You spend plates incredibly well.”

So I talked about a little bit about spinning plates in the book, you know but you got to learn how to take those things that really aren’t weaknesses. You just been told they are and I firmly believe that you should focus on your strengths but sometimes the things that we believe are weaknesses, like Dumbo’s ears, turned out to not be.

I think in closing this thought and this last question you wanted to ask, you know, this goes back to that storyboarding your life idea that we can either choose to let people define us or we can choose to be the one that gets to define and gets to set the rules moving forward. McNair Wilson, a Disney imagineer read the book and he was like “Dude, I can’t believe that you told some of those stories that you told about your childhood going through. I never heard you told those. Those are dark places that you had to go.”

I was like “Yeah, and I wanted to go there because I wanted to let people know that even through the pain that I went through, that even through some of that hurt that I can either sit here and look at those things and learn and make that a motivation to help other people or I can let that be that holds me back. I can let that be the chain on the elephant’s leg that keeps me in captivity.

What other people thought was going to be a weakness for me, actually it’s a strength. I’m going to own it. I’m going to do it. I’m going to accomplish it. I’m not going to let anyone else stop me because that’s what great about the elephant. If you’re going to herd elephants together, if you’re going to group people that believe in something, you’re not going to ever stop a herd of elephants, they’re unstoppable. So find some other people to fly with you and you will not be stopped.

Andrea: Yes, love it! Thank you, Terry. OK, I want to make sure that we cover The Thing 2018, would you tell us a little bit about that and where we can find information about that and you book?

Terry Weaver: So you can always find always find everything about me at, you can find everything there. I hosted of it for people who were chasing “their thing and people who have “a thing” and everyone has “a thing,” right? And so we want this to be the place for people who had a thing to think how to do it better and how to refine their message and get inspired. Probably, by the time that this gets posted, registration will be open for The Thing. It’s, you can go there and we’ll have registration information there for you to register and for you to sign up for our 2018 event. We’ll be announcing the day. It’s very, very soon!

If you want to get a copy of Making Elephants Fly, you can just go to You can get your copy there, depending on when the show gets put up. You may even able to get some of the presell benefits and all the tips. Actually, we leave them up until I know the shows but that’s for a week or so.

Andrea: November 6th.

Terry Weaver: Yeah, so we’ll leave it up for a few extra days so you guys can get some of the perks. I’ve credited a few some extra things. I’ve got the storyboarding your life stuff coming. Just be sure that you can obviously hear my podcast, Making Elephants Fly. That’s all in my website. Be sure it’s set up on my email list. That’s just a great way to keep track of what’s going on. I really do appreciate. I love hearing from you guys. I love knowing that you’re going to be inspired. I want to know what you’re working on and I want to see you actually not just dream it, but actually do it.

Andrea: Hmmm love it! Thank you so much Terry for your time and good luck with this book launch. I’m so excited for you!

Terry Weaver: Yeah, it’s an adventure.


Find Your Message & Superpower in the Voice of Influence Academy

Episode 29 with Linette Bumford

Do you ever feel like you just know you’re feeling a tug on your heart to offer more of yourself to the world in some way, but you’re not sure what it is? A year ago, Linette Bumford came to the first iteration of the Voice of Influence Academy (at the time called the Core Message Course) with that feeling.

She knew she wanted to write a book but she wasn’t entirely sure of the message. Through her own exploration and with a little assistance from different aspects of the course, she came to truly own the gifts of her personality and gain a clearer sense of her core message and how to use it.

It allowed me to take really difficult things captive and own them and not look at them like scars but swords. And at the end, that little spark will be an unstoppable fire. When I was done with the class, I was unstoppable.

Linette Bumford is a Jesus Follower, Wife, and Mother. She is an ambitious, focused, and determined thought leader. A veteran of the USAF, MBA graduate, trusted advisor in her profession, and author. Linette drives excellence, confidence, and high quality standards to every aspect of her personal and professional life. She is passionate about inspiring others to invite failure to seek wisdom, live with vibrant boldness, and to achieve their dreams and goals through practical and real action.
Linette’s awe-inspiring story of finding humility, unwavering perseverance, and the tenacious determination in spite of overwhelming obstacles is expected to release in 2018 in her book called Getting There: An Inspirational Guide to Navigate Life with Unstoppable Perseverance. She lives in Maryland with her husband, daughter, and their dog Titan.

You can find Linette at

Sign up for the “How to Focus & Infuse Contagious Passion in your Message as a Personal Brand” Master Class by clicking here.

Learn more about the Voice of Influence Academy here.

Full Transcript

Linette Bumford: For a long time I was trying to figure out what I wanted to say and there’s so much in my history that I thought “Well, do you just start with one thing and maybe do a series and whatever?” But when I was going through the Core Message class and kind of making the transition from working fulltime to part time, I was going through a couple of different things.

I had surgery on my wrist, which stopped me from writing for a little while and everyone just keeps on asking me because there were so much going on. They were like “How are you doing?” How’s your wrist? How’s this and how’s that?” And the words “I’m getting there. I’m getting there and I’m getting.” I think we say that so kind of haphazardly where I was like “Yeah, I’m getting there.” I really start to think about what that means, you know what it that means when you’re getting there.

So I thought, “OK, let me break that down a little bit.” And really I think it’s a couple of different things but for me it’s that journey of life. We all have an ultimate destination but what is getting there really look like. There are these two words, getting there means you’re getting, which is the act of doing something, right? Either obtaining it or moving through, but it’s an actionable word and that was when I think that I was passionate about with my message was having an actionable thing, you know doing something with your faith.

I was talking to my husband this morning and I was like “You know, I think as I prepare to go on a mission trip in January and preparing to do a testimony. And I think “Oh testimony of my life where you’re getting up in a puppet and sharing some crazy story.” But I do really think about what my testimony was and early on in my life, I was a believer but it was until later on in my life that I became a follower of Jesus, you know what I mean?

Andrea: Hmmm

Linette Bumford: And it was kind of breaking all of that down, so it was believing in something with no action but then later on following Jesus which was actually putting my faith and my trust in Jesus to where I can actually do something about it. So “Getting There” to me is a journey of using inspirational stories but also just some practical every day signs to help us navigate through whatever life turning us because the Bible says we’re going to go through stuff. We’re going to be faced with challenges but it’s about navigating through those with the everyday practical signs that God puts in front of us. Yeah, I’m really so excited about it. I know it took me around six to eight months to get to a certain point but it’s just flowing so easily and I’m so excited!

Andrea: Oh good! What do you think it’s taking you to get to that point where you’re in the flow?

Linette Bumford: I think for me, it was trying different things, right? Again, it was going down to a certain path like if I was inspired by something, I was saying “Alright, let me take that. Let me see how that fixed.” I think we had this conversation before; you try different things on to see how they fit. And sometimes we’re like “Huh, this looks good but it’s kind of uncomfortable.”

And so it’s jeans or that outfit where you’re like “Oh this is so cute but really not for me,” or then I would do something else and it was too simple where I was like “Well, this doesn’t really accentuate certain parts of my story.” And it was just continuing to try different things and at the end of the day, I thought you know getting back to that authenticity like “What is it about me?”

I actually started asking people. I was like “Why do you ask me? When you think of me, what goes through your mind?” And sometimes it was asking for that real honesty from people that you trusted and I really appreciate getting that feedback because it gave me things to literally, I would put sticky notes on my wall and I would look back.

Sometimes you have to take a step back and I would look and say “OK.” It would almost form by itself. You know, I pray a lot. I would pray over the words or the feelings and just putting all that out there and asking God, “OK, God, what did you make me for? Why did you make me this way?”

I think one of the key aspects was going through the Fascinate Assessment. I told you this, it was when I took that assessment and I read through that, it put it altogether and I was like “Yup, that’s me, ” and then it forced me to own it. I could no longer look at those characteristics and not completely own them and then it gave me permission. I felt like it gave me permission and then I was like “Alright, this is my outfit.”

It’s like superheroes like Captain America is not Spiderman and Wonder Woman…they are made a certain way. They all have that superhero commonality but they all were given specific gifts. And I think in any of their stories, I think they were confused about what’s happening. We are all are confused by what’s happening to us but it’s when we come into our gifts that I think is when we truly blossom and we can fully be utilized by God with confidence.

That was my biggest thing. You wouldn’t know that probably in my professional life because I had all kinds of confidence over there. But I think in my personal life, I didn’t feel like I have the confidence to own what God had done in my life that it would mean anything. When I say that it would mean anything outside of what it was doing for me, right?

Andrea: Exactly, yes!

Linette Bumford: I was like “Yeah, this is great that God has hold me through so many different things and it has been the fuel that has helped me succeed or helped maybe a couple of people here and there that I could actually be used for a greater good maybe. Because I think sometimes we take our faith and we take our struggles and we put them on a box and we put this puzzle together and we’re like “Oh great, what a beautiful picture. Now, I see what that was all about. OK, put it back on the box and maybe we want something else.”

We don’t really say that “Wait a minute, you can put that puzzle together, you can frame it and other people can be inspired by it.” So I think that just again growing in my faith and really praying about what God wanting me to do. I think I mentioned it to you before this book concept of sharing my story if you will was something I thought about 10 or 12 years ago, but it just sat there. I was like “Yeah, OK, sure.”

But I got to tell you and I’ve said this probably a hundred times, just the cover of your book alone was all it took for me to go like “OK, God, I hear you.” Like I had been frozen in that area of my life for that whole time like God said “You’re gonna do this. But I just wouldn’t let Him thaw that part of me, you know what I mean?

And it was so profound that I told someone recently at work you know and they were like “What made you want to write a book?’ And I said “The fire inside of me and the inspiration if you will of the Holy Spirit was so strong that I felt like if I didn’t that it felt like I’d be doing something wrong.” I almost felt disobedient for not following rather than fearful of not succeeding, you know what I’m saying?

Andrea: Yeah!

Linette Bumford: Don’t you think because they’re like “What if you fail?” I’m like “If I don’t do this it will be a failure.” So it’s not about how successful it will be, it’s about doing what I’ve been called to do out of obedience to what the Lord has done for me. Then it became where I was like “Well, I have to do it. No, turning back now.”

You know, it was holding myself accountable to that for once because sometimes I’ll dream big dreams but I won’t hold myself or let people hold me accountable. But this was the big dream that I said “Alright, this is super real.” I started reading books, “OK, how do I do this?” Because that’s what I do, I’ll go learn. And so one of the first books that I read was You Have to Start Talking About this and Not Shut Up, like you have to talk, talk, and talk and tell anyone who would listen and you tell them because that will keep you from just putting it back on the shelf.

Andrea: Yeah, so who did you talk about it with? Was that a significant part of your accountability then?

Linette Bumford: Yes, absolutely! Neighbors, friends, community group, church and then obviously, I had to make a huge shift at work. I mean, the moment I sit down with boss that’s when it became really real.

Andrea: At what point did you sit down with your boss and what did you tell him?

Linette Bumford: Probably the day after I saw you book cover.

Andrea: Wow!

Linette Bumford: I’m telling you, if I didn’t take action immediately then I don’t know if I would be where I am today. Like it was one of those things that God said “OK, you’ve already gone down these paths where you’ve worked for me and not done anything. You already know what’s gonna happen if you don’t take action immediately.”

So I knew that I had to verbalize it immediately. If it wasn’t the next day, it was definitely within a couple of days that I sat down and I said…I didn’t say I’m going to quit my job but I went to my boss and said “I had such a disturbing, like it was a positive disturbing feeling in my soul.” I was like “I don’t know what this looks like, I will get back to you but I just need to tell you that something is going to change very soon.”

He was receptive and he completely understood and I said “I’ll get back to you in a couple of days but I just wanna let you know that I’m strongly concentrating a change in what I’m doing right now.” After I kind of wrapped my mind around things, you know, I had some good conversation with my husband then we realized that this book and me writing was definitely something God was putting in my heart. It was just too strong to ignore. I think it was a week later when I said “Hey, I can’t do this, what I’m doing fulltime, anymore.”

He was fully prepared I think emotionally to be like “OK, good luck with that.” But God immediately showed up so quickly to be able to work part time. You don’t have to know the whole journey to know what it looks like, you just have to take the next step.

And I think what I try to tell people is you don’t have to know what the whole journey is going to look like; you just have to take the next step. You just have to put one out there. I think I’ve mentioned this once before. There was a scene in a very old movie that I used to watch as a kid called the Labyrinth and they have to get across this really disgusting moat or something and these rocks come up from underneath just as they’re staying, right?

But they had to have faith as they kept moving that those rocks are going continue, otherwise, they could be stuck out there in the middle, right? Or how are they going to do that and I think that’s how we feel, right? I’m going to be stuck out there in the middle with no way out but that’s just how God is. He’s like “Get out of the boat. Don’t worry about the storm. Don’t worry about the waves, just step out of the boat.”

And in those moments, it’s still really hard for me to explain people I’m like “It’s inexplicable.” It literally feels like God is right there. This massive force is just in you and in the moment and I think that’s all the things that we see that’s what inspires us that’s what get us excited.

Andrea: Oh yeah, it’s so empowering. I mean, I that weird vulnerable sense. It’s in your weakness, this is when I’m strong and it’s like that when you are totally vulnerable and you’re totally putting yourself in that place where you’re about ready to fall but you’re stepping out in faith that’s when all of a sudden, you feel so strong. But you know that that power doesn’t come from you which makes it even more reliable.

Linette Bumford: It’s ridiculous. Again, it’s so hard to explain but you did a very good job there. I think our minds and the world and things around us tell us like it’s about finding that self fuel if you will. But I’m like “You don’t have to do that because then you’re relying solely on yourself and that is the limited resource or anything. There’s not enough of you.” And I think it’s in that sense when God shows up and says “You don’t have to do any of this by yourself.”

Andrea: Have you seen Wonder Woman yet?

Linette Bumford: I haven’t.

Andrea: OK, you totally should. You’re going to love it.

Linette Bumford: I know.

Andrea: What I love about it is that it’s not teaching me anything, it’s just giving me imagery for things that I already know to be true. One of those things is that like she knows inside from a very early age. You’ll see it in her eyes when she was a little girl. She knows that she’s meant to do something really big. She’s got it in her.

Linette Bumford: Oh yes!

Andrea: But as she grows up every battle that she fights, she kind of like owns herself a little bit more and realizes her own power a little bit more. And every time and every battle was bigger and it was more intense too as she gets older. I just think of that it’s so incredible. If we don’t get into the fight if we don’t go into battle, we won’t know the kind of power that we have.

Linette Bumford: Right. Again, going through like I bring up the Fascinate Assessment because it really helped me. When I did the assessment and I was the maestro, it talked about this confidence. And I thought “Where does confidence come from? Where do people just know that they can do a thing?” Sometimes it’s practice, something as simple as riding a bike, right? How do kids get that confidence of riding a bike with those training gears? Well, it’s because they’ve done it over and over and over and then they just know. Well, I’ve been there. I’ve done that.

I thought about that, even in that sense this like of kind of conductor, this maestro; more times than not, they’ve been in those seats. They know what those folks are looking for. They know the different parts of the orchestra or they already know how to play multiple instruments themselves or things like that. They’ve experienced what they people who are looking to them for leadership, they’ve been there. They’ve been in their shoes and that confidence comes from, like you said, being in the battle, being a part of those experiences so that you speak form a place of truth.

I’ve seen people, I’ve listened to different speakers, and even some pastors like they speak truth but not from place of experience. And there’s a difference when you can speak to someone with truth and the experience because it brings so much more power. Like I’m not just telling you what the Bible says, I’m not just telling you what these folks said, I’m not just telling you what you already know from the truth, I’m telling you because I have been in that battle, I have done that thing.

When I’m at work and someone asks me to do something like give this speech or presentation and I don’t know the content, I am funky mess out there. You know, I’m scared. I’m nervous. I’m shaking. I’m stumbling and I don’t know what I’m trying to say because I don’t understand the content you know what I mean? I’m like “I don’t know what I’m saying up here. I can’t speak to you confidently about something I know nothing about nor should I be,” you know what I mean?

Andrea: Yeah!

Linette Bumford: About a year ago, I’ve done a presentation and I knew every detail. I knew what the people in the audience were going to think. I knew what they were going through. I knew they were going to think I was crazy. I knew how much work it was, but I was so confident because I was like “We’ve been there. We did that. We went down the wrong roads. We tried everything. This is wherever we came up with.”

After that session, I remember just kind of like walking away and finding a quiet space and I just kind of smile you know like “Did I just do that?” It was that place that said “yes” because you were speaking from a place of confidence. And so again when everything came together after I took the Fascinate Assessment, I realized that God was just asking me to speak from a place of my experience not talk to people about things I could not relate to, you know, maybe that’s for another day. He probably asks more experiences lined up for me and at that time I can speak from that place, but it’s about just owning the battles I’ve already been through and sharing the truth and love, right?

Like in sharing truth and I do have ways sometimes of being a little too forward or direct with people, but at the same time, you know I think that’s why my girlfriend who I asked I said “You know, why do you come to me?” And she said “Because if I really want the real truth, I know you’ll give it to me.” And I was like “OK,” it was a common theme with anyone I spoke to.

Andrea: Oh yeah. The whole point of the Core Message course, the one you took and the academy that I’m trying to make now that I’m excited about, I mean, the whole point is to get down to that, like to get down to that work and say it. Don’t try to talk in generalities, number one. And number two, don’t try to say something…again, we care about a lot of different things. How do you decide what you’re going to actually end up focusing on? I’m so convinced that it has to do with our experience.

Linette Bumford: It does. I absolutely 200% agree with you and I think for me, it was mapping out my experiences. Even that, I told you that it was one of the hardest things I had and I was like “Oh gosh where to start,” you know. And it doesn’t mean like “Oh, if I don’t have dozens and dozens of experiences that I still can speak from that place, you might have one thing that is very important to you that’s OK. You own that one thing and go with it that’s it. You don’t have to have many obstacles. You can have just one.” Like you were saying, you might believe in the broader sense.

Again, going back to the kind of superhero like they all believe in good but how they achieve and support and defines good is in different ways and always that you got to be everything for everybody. And again, it’s going back to what are you? I’ve got good friends, they are the heart. They are the encouragers and sometimes I get jealous because I’m like “I’m so not made that way. I wish I could be like that.”

But then I have to remind myself that they aren’t like me you know what I mean? And they probably in these certain characters speak about me and I tell them I’m like “I wanna do that.” They would probably see the things in reverse so I can admire what God is doing in them and in those gifts and somehow encourage that to them and in turn, it’s kind of like this reciprocation. Their encouragement or their gifts helps me continue to be the way God made me. Once you get that, it’s such a freeing feeling.

There’s no more comparison because I don’t compare myself to that encourager, that heart, or that person who’s always serving. I’m like “God, made me this way so that I can serve in my capacity.” And that’s kind of hard sometimes, we try to do everything and be everything. But even at work, I was realizing that I was only giving about 10% to things and I didn’t feel like I was really doing a very good job even though they were saying I was doing a really good job, I was like “I don’t really feel that way though.”

I know I’m doing a good job when I can really give at least half of myself to something. But to really pour yourself into something that you absolutely passionately believe in, I think is when we really feel what success looks like. You know what does success looks like? Success is a feeling and it’s when you know you really poured your heart and soul into something and then it’s realized.

Andrea: I like that definition of success. Going back to your superhero comparison, the other thing about those superheroes with their suits and stuff, if you see Captain America’s suit and his shield and you know you can rely on him in battle. You see the Black Widow and you know what she’s going to be able to do in battle and what you should, you know how to rely on her in battle. That’s what I see in personal branding.

We throw on that superhero, those suits, anything that’s going to magnify, those characteristics about ourselves that make us you know, “This is what you can come to me for. This is who I am so that you know.” When I first started about hearing branding, immediately my mind went to the mask that we put on trying to be for other people or whatever and I’m like “I’m sure that it can be that, of course it can.” But just like life, I mean if you’re going to be authentic, I mean you can either throw on a mask or you can throw on your superhero suit but it’s an actual magnification of who you are.

Linette Bumford: That’s very true. I think it kind of goes back to what I was saying before, like when you put your mask on, if it’s not your suit, because you can just imagine putting the Hulk in the Captain America, it’s going to be uncomfortable and it’s going to look awkward.

Andrea: And nobody believes you.

Linette Bumford: And nobody believes you. Imagine seeing this you’d be like “Something is just not right here.” You know what I mean? You’re going to feel that. That’s what uncomfortable is for? That’s what those feelings are for. They are a gauge, right? They are a radar for you to be like “Something about this is not right so I’m gonna just not pay attention.” You’re not going to listen what they have to say and so that’s what happens when people are not authentic with you, your heart and your soul know that.

I could see that in other people and then I begin to think “Wow, the reality is I do that too.” I am not authentic with people. I either act the same way or I would say certain things because I thought that’s what they wanted to hear. It’s exhausting. I was tired. I was like “Yeah, I’m not just gonna do this anymore.” It’s just too exhausting. I think of what this saying is but it’s like you know people who lie, they have to keep up with the lie.

Andrea: Yeah. Right, right!

Linette Bumford: You have to keep up with, “What did I tell so and so? Who was I for them? And who was I for…” This is what you get, you know what I mean? I am a work in progress. I did this and I have done this. We all see this but I think we just don’t show it. And I started doing this to other folks at work and saying, “You know what I really don’t like to be angry like that. I’m really sorry, I’m just making it known that that was struggle for me.”

It invited other people to run kind of examine themselves and if they were contributing to my struggle or also hold me accountable. Again, once I started verbalizing those things, it gave me room to grow. It gave me permission to be authentic.

Andrea: Yeah, you didn’t have to be perfect. You weren’t holding yourself to this perfection standard.

Linette Bumford: Exactly! It doesn’t mean that I don’t have a message. You know it doesn’t mean that I can’t still be used. It so easy to just get down on yourself and I’m like “Yeah, actually that’s exactly who I am because if you want to follow perfection, follow Jesus, don’t follow me. I am not perfection. If you wanna see what transformation looks like, if you wanna know what change looks like, if you wanna know what struggle looks like, you can follow me all day.”

Andrea: That is awesome!

Linette Bumford: “If you want to know what it looks like for real give me a call,” you know what I mean? I talked about this a little bit in my book but you know there’s this point in my life in which I really made a significant change. I just said “OK, I’m going to follow, I’m gonna take actions to follow Jesus.” Shortly thereafter, the next chapter is called “Road Work” ahead because there’s a lot of stuff in my life and it is dirty. It’s is ugly. It is bumpy. It is inconvenient, all of that.

But as He does that, He was also laying down new road that’s smoother and easier, you know like He says “My yoke is easy and it’s beautiful and it’s new.” I read a quote not too long ago and it said something like a success and whatever comes from hard work, no excuses. It’s work and if you think it’s not then what you’re after is probably not sustainable and what you’re going to get is not sustainable. I refinished the table recently and I used a lot of analogies, I apologized. But I can’t say, I really refinished it, I just painted over it.

Everyone kind of asked me “Did you strip it? Did you send it and did you do this?” I was like “No, I slashed a page on it.” “Why would I go through all that trouble?” But then I thought about it because the reality is that’s only going to last so long. Eventually, the pain doesn’t have anything to really hold on to you. And then I thought “Well, when I get that point, I’ll just throw it away.” But it did keep me thinking about, sometimes you have to strip it. You have to save it down in order for what you’re going to lay down for it to last and then you have to pull away the olds in order to lay down the new for it to really last the long haul.

Andrea: Totally true. Oh that’s great! I love the picture. I don’t know where you at now and where you headed and what do you need?

Linette Bumford: I need another five hours in the clock, right? Right now, I am in full transition or post-transition. I’m working part time and it’s been an amazing experience. So many people come alongside and just supported and it’s one of those decisions that it was a little scary at first. But the way God showed up through opportunities and connecting me with other people and other writers, I have a coach who is helping me right now. She’s amazing. Her name is Renee Fisher, she’s amazing.

Again, everyone needs kind of guidance like I’m going down this path and it’s something I’ve never done. So she has really helped to keep me motivated. Sometimes we want to do things by ourselves because we’re like “OK, I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna do it alone.” And I read something from, again another great blog, Jeff Goins had put article out and it was about doing this in community. We’re not called to do this alone.

And again, it goes back to the superhero thing. Sometimes, they gather together to fight that battle, right? You got a combined forces and that was a little bit difficult for me. You know, I had my reservations but I trust it that God has been showing up in the process. Anyway, so I’m working on the book actively. We are looking for early spring of 2018, which would be awesome. And I’m probably going to be going into maybe more of like a pre-marketing phase of things. It’s weird but it’s so real because you know it takes time.

Sometimes I think some things happen for people very quickly. You know, I am still at work and it’s interesting. I think you said something the other day or it was only message that you said in the academy you know. Early on in the process, I thought “OK, well, I’m gonna have to completely give up my career in order to do this thing.” And then I thought “Well, maybe I’m doing this for now to help me be better in what I do as a career, or it doesn’t mean you have to always give up one thing to do something else. It maybe you need to slow down in one area in order to build the authenticity of where God is taking you.”

And I see that in a sense of, you know, I was struggling out to really be a leader. I felt like in different ways, I was a manager and I was a leader. I was like hitting the ceiling like almost like an emotional or like a growth ceiling. I met with my mentor and he said to me, “You have to do this. You have to go part time; you have to go follow this dream, this feeling inside of you.” And I was like “What? You’re the same one who mentors to like keep growing.”

And he said “Doing that will make you a better leader if you decide to comeback.” And I thought “Wow, OK.” So I table that and I thought “Well, that’s pretty powerful.” Sometimes you have to step to decide. You have to go and dig up an area in order for all of you to move forward and then he said “And when you get there, you just turnaround and help someone else do things.”

And I thought “OK,” and it was after that conversation that I’d really, really like I made the decisions anyway. I hope that that make sense. But yeah, I think I was excited and open. I think at this point, I don’t have it all figured out but I’m open and initially, I was like “Oh my gosh, I got to learn about social media. I got to learn about this and God said “No, you don’t. Nope, you just need to tell your story and I will help you when the time is right to get to those other points.” I was like “I’m just gonna focus on what God has put on my heart and tell the story that He has done in my life.”

Andrea: Yeah, it’s like that. Going back to your analogy about taking the step like you can’t take all the steps at once.

Linette Bumford: I’m not just the next-step kind of person. I mean, sometimes I do those huge leaps of faith, right? And those are exciting too but you can’t leave that everywhere. You have to say “Just take a step,” and I think this was another thing I heard early on and I was like just the torch bearer, right? We talked about this early on.

When you’re in a dark cave and you have a torch, it doesn’t light up the entire cave or all the ways out, it just gives you enough light to get a few feet ahead. And we just have to trust that that God is that light for us our relationship with Jesus is to have just enough faith to take the next step and not fear the failure.

I think of it like a maze, right? We try to figure out this maze and we go a certain direction and it’s a dead end. Well, things happen along the way, right? So it’s about what you experience along the path and to me that makes the light brighter, like in video games, you go down this level and you gather up you know whether it’s trinkets or whether it’s coin. And then you go down a certain path and you gather things for the rest of your trip.

And then you’ll come across another obstacle where you’re going to another path and you go “OK, I need a hammer for that, you know, I need this little trinket.” I just kind of think about things in that way like that’s what our life is about. We go down certain paths to obtain certain experiences and certain nuggets of wisdom so that it can be used later on in the journey. And it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be there forever, it’s just now you have it, you’re going to need it, right?

I think that’s why they exist; you’re going to need it for something, just hold on to it. And when the time is right, you’ll know when to reach into your little wisdom pouch, pull it out whether it’s for someone else or for you to sustain you through a hard time. That’s really what it’s all about, right?

Andrea: So when you took the Core Message course, it was basically a three-month period. I thought that it would be a 5-week deal but I realized very quickly that you guys were like “Woo, wait a second this is a lot more to process than I have time for in one week at a time and it made total sense as we kept going.”

So I tried to take all of what you guys were saying then I also listened to some other people who know a lot of people say they want to make changes or they want to figure stuff out for themselves. They want to find their things. They want to find their passion but they need accountability and that sort of thing.

I thought all this together seems to me like what people really need is they need bite size things to chew on for a period of time and over a period of time. That’s the reason why I went with 6-month program because I thought what would be the most transformational thing I think would be a coaching program for six months.

And if I could just disseminate the information a month at a time with a module at a time, something for people to focus on for one month and then move on to the next thing that maybe would make more sense. So that’s the reason why you guys and your feedback was so helpful to me in deciding what to do here.

Linette Bumford: Again, it has taken me all this time, but life had to happen. I had to let things call today or culture. I had to let those things happen in order for God to show up like when we want to do the fast diet. Oh well, it’s going to happen but it’s not going to sustain you, you know what I mean? So yeah, I think it’s progress and I think that’s really a good observation on your part.

Andrea: So who do you think should consider doing this program?

Linette Bumford: You know, I don’t want to speak for everybody but what I’ll do is I’ll speak for myself. I knew I had something inside of me. I knew that I was being called to something. The question was what was the thing? What made me me? Not made me different, didn’t make me special, right? I mean, I am different and I am special. We are all different and especial. We are who we are, right? But what was it about me that I needed to own but what was it that made Linette Linette, and it was my experience. It came down to figuring out what it was about my experience and then what was it that I had to say, I guess.

It’s great to just tell people “Yeah, I’ve been through a lot of stuff. You wanna hear about it? Here it goes.” But what was the purpose in all of that and then finding a way to own it? So being creative is sometimes an agonizing process. You taught me about the six stages of creativity, like there’s a very agonizing stuff in there where you’re like “Huh, this is just too hard.” You know, I want to go to the easy thing, the thing that I know how to do right.

But if you look at yourself in the mirror and you’re like “I’m ignoring something. I’m ignoring the gut feeling. I’m ignoring my heart. I’m pushing something aside,” and you are getting frustrated by that and you know that there’s that thing inside of you, take the class. Don’t try to figure out what it is before the class because the course is going to pull it out of you. I’m just saying. It will pull out of you. It pulled it out of me in a way that I just never imagined but don’t try to figure it out.

Again, I’ll plan this out, I’ll figure it out, or I’ll go into the class. I’ll be the superstar. I’ll be the teacher’s pet like that’s all we do, right? We try to over analyze it and I did it. I said “No, I’m just sure; I’ll sign up for that. I don’t know what the heck I’m doing.” I said it from the very beginning. I was like “I haven’t had any clue, but I’m open and that’s all you have to do.”

So if you’re feeling it and your heart flutters when you think about whatever it is and you just have no idea how to wrap your mind around it, take the class. It’s going to help you bring structures to the chaos. It’s going to bring clarity where there’s fog. It will help you own you. I think sometimes we let the story or our experiences own us and take us captive but it allows us to take those things captive.

Andrea: Amen! Oh my gosh that’s the perfect way to put that. Yes, yes, I just got goose bumps all over my body and I’m even crying because that is so what I want for people. That is so what I want for people.

Linette Bumford: I’m telling you that as a student and I love that at the academy, yes, it did that for me.

Andrea: Oh so cool!

Linette Bumford: It allowed me to take really difficult things captive and own them and not look at them like scars but sword and at the end like just that little spark, it will be an unstoppable fire when you’re done. When I was done with the class, I was unstoppable.

Andrea: Yes!

Linette Bumford: I still don’t have any idea what I was doing but I was unstoppable.

Andrea: Exactly! It’s like the internal positioning like that “OK, there are still stuffs to be done but I’m ready to go.”

Linette Bumford: I’m determined and I’m energized and I’m going to keep going. And having that fuel, I want to get there and that is my story. We’re all getting there, right? So yeah, I want to get there. I’m going to do it. You know, people come to me and they’re like “You’re so audacious.” And I’m like “Why not? How do you live with yourself going what if?” I’m like “No, I’m not a what if-er, I’m a why not-ter, because I have a hard time with the what ifs.”

I have more regrets, not with what I did but it’s what I didn’t do. I’ve learned that failure, I almost chase it now. I’m like “Bring it on.” And something that may seem small for us could be huge for someone else. We never know when that’s going to inspire greatness to someone else, right?

Andrea:   Totally!

Linette Bumford: So yeah, if you’re feeling the thing, if you’re feeling anything, if you’re hearing this and you are like “Yes, yes” then take a class, just take it. I had a hard time believing that words are not going to show up and really help you own and take your personality and take whatever your name is and whoever you are, take that captive. And sometimes that’s all you need. You just need to have permission to take your life captive and sort of your life taking you captive.

Andrea: Awesome! Thank you so much for your generous endorsement and for sharing your own story and feedback along the way. And yeah, I’m excited for you and where you’re headed. I have another friend who said to me before “You know, it just seems like we’re not supposed to know where we’re getting to because it could just overwhelm us like we just don’t know and maybe we can’t handle that right now and I think of that with you for sure like who knows. I just don’t know but it’s some place, I’m pretty sure. Some place special.

Linette Bumford: Yeah. I hope I’m going somewhere. I know I am.

Andrea: Yeah, absolutely!

Linette Bumford: And again I write about the goal, the goal, the goal but even through the process, I’ve had to learn to appreciate the journey and pulling over and taking it all in because it’s so easy to get somewhere. I still do this when I’m driving around, like “I gotta go, I gotta go. I’m late, I’m late.” But I was just missing it and I’m still learning. I’m a work in progress but you know I’m learning to just slow down and just enjoy the little things because God is everywhere and He’s everything and He wants us to like the arrival, right? The arrival, the steps along the way, or the “Mile Markers” you want to call them. He wants us to get there but He also wants us to get there happily, does that make sense?

Once you get there gradually, like “God, I finally arrived. What a trip!” How many people have come home like “Oh it was traffic. There was this.” “I’m so sorry that your trip here was so exhausting.” We want to arrive like that. He wants us to arrive happily like “I’m so excited to be here. Let me tell you all these things we didn’t plan but it happened along the way?”

How difference that would make when we interact with people? I thought these amazing things that I just didn’t plan but happens along the way and how awesome it were. Even things like getting a flat tire or bad weather or whatever. If we can just look at them as God’s way of slowing us down and just appreciating those things.

Andrea: Well, thank you, Linette!

Linette Bumford: Welcome! Thank you for having me. I’m so excited to help with the academy. I mean just watching you of what it was about a year now, right? It was last August that I began to see you progressing and succeeding and the fire that you continue to have to help people. I’m excited to see how God continues to move in your abilities to help us find our voice.



How to Integrate Work and Life as a Visionary Creative with Jeff Goins

Episode 27 with author of Real Artists Don't Starve

Jeff Goins is the author of four books, including the national best seller, The Art of Work and his latest book, Real Artists Don’t Starve. He is also a full-time blogger, speaker, and entrepreneur.

Originally from Chicago, Goins graduated from Illinois College and spent the next year on the road with a band. After that, he moved to Nashville to chase a girl and spent the next seven years working at a nonprofit. He now writes and speaks for a living and runs an online business helping writers and creative entrepreneurs chase their dreams.

Jeff’s award-winning blog,, has been visited by over four million people from around the world. His work has been featured in the Washington Post, USA Today, Entrepreneur, Forbes, and Psychology Today. He and his wife, Ashley, live just outside of Nashville, TN with their son, daughter and dog.

Links mentioned in this episode:


Full Interview Transcript

Andrea: So Jeff Goins, welcome to the Voice of Influence podcast.

Jeff Goins: Hi, Andrea, it’s good to be here.

Andrea: Well Jeff, recently published his fifth book, is that right?

Jeff Goins: Yeah, yeah. I was right too.

Andrea: Real Artists Don’t Starve – and I’m really looking forward digging into that here in a minute. But let’s get the influencer listening a little context. I’ll tell you that I first stumbled on you, Jeff, when I started diving into podcast about three years ago, when I was just trying to grapple with my own creative life, my own creative self and what to do with that. I found that your podcast the Portfolio Life, which it explores the questions what does the creative life looks like. So Jeff, what does your creative life look like?

Jeff Goins: The term, the Portfolio Life, I found in a book by a guy named Charles Handy. And apparently in the UK, it’s widely known in this term but I never heard before it. So a friend of mine who is a poet, who has an affinity for Japanese culture and also works a fulltime job as a marketing director at a medical company. You know, it’s just a bunch of different things, right? I remember asking him few years ago as my platform was growing, my audience was growing, I was writing books, and I was also helping writers online with online courses. And I felt torn because all of my friends whose success I admired it seemed as if they were about one thing and I felt broken. I was like “Am I the author guy? Am I the speaker guy, or am I like the entrepreneur guy?”

And my friend, his name is Keith said “You could be all those things. You’re living a portfolio life and it’s not for everybody but for those who care about multiple things. You can embrace all those interests and all of those different areas of interest and make each part of the portfolio better, you know.”   “So the fact that I read poetry, I’m interested in Japanese culture influences my day job, and my understanding of marketing influences these hobbies.”

So for me, it really became a question of not being a jack of all trade or becoming a master of some. That’s something I become more and more comfortable with. So I think of Portfolio Life is like an investment portfolio. I have just not invested in one company, I’ve got a bunch of different things that I’m putting my time in, but it’s not everything. So for me, my portfolio is like one part author. I’m always working on a book, promoting a book, or talking about a I’ve recently written that’s really important to me.

I love books. I love reading them. Every book I’ve read has been a gift to me from the author and I am honored to be able to try to give gifts to my own readers but also run a business. So I’m an entrepreneur and I like that. I’m good at that and it’s fun for me. And so I wear the hat of entrepreneur-employer-boss visionary you know for a good amount of time throughout my week. I’m also a speaker and coach. I’m having conversations with people on a fairly regular basis helping them kind of breakthrough to the next level.

And you know, I also wear the hats of dad and husband. And for me, it became very important fairly early on to figure how to manage all of this. I don’t believe in work-life balance but I like what Dan Miller calls it work-life in aggression. How does my work feed my life and how does my life feed my work. And Steven King wrote in his book on writing, “I used to think that life was a support system for art and now, I realized that is the other way around.”

He tells a story about becoming an author and buying this really big desk. That was the time he made this huge, you know, expensive oak desk and he put it in the middle of the room upstairs in his attic which became his writing studio. And he shut the door and outside that door, his kids were growing up without him. He was working on the next novel. He was addicted to a multiple substances and his art had consumed his life. Eventually, he got sober. He got rid of that big desk. He opened up the attic and turned it into like a movie room for his kids, who were now teenagers and he got a smaller desk and moved it into the corner of the room.

I just love kind of that word picture of my work used to dominate my life and everybody around me just had to support me. And then I realized, “No, this isn’t how it supposed to be. Work is supposed to feed the life.” So I opened the door and made my work very interruptible by my family because this is whom I’m doing it for. I remember like I was like “Oh I love that.” And two weeks after reading that, it was a Friday afternoon and my wife was like “Hey, do you wanna take the kids to the zoo.” I was like “I can’t, I have to work.”

If you have a day job, you can’t just say, “I gotta go to the zoo.” But here I was just placing these unnecessary arbitrary boundaries around my life because I was kind of addicted to my work. You know, it made me feel good about myself and that wasn’t why I got into this.

I started writing and started a business so that I can have more freedom doing work that I love but also so that I could provide for my family and spend more time with them. So here I was spending more time on this business than I was for the reason that I was supposed to be doing it for. I think that’s a long way of saying, my portfolio it’s very important that the work fits around the life, not the other way around.

Andrea: Yeah, and you talked about wearing a bunch of different hats, I totally want to get into your book but we’re going to keep going with this for now.

Jeff Goins: Sure, yeah!

Andrea: Is it hard for you to switch hats in the midst of all of these different things that you mentioned including, you know, husband and father? Do you feel like a different person when you have a different hat on or how do you navigate that internally?

Jeff Goins: It’s not hard for me to switch hats because I have a visionary personality. I don’t mean that like a complimentary way like “Hey, look at me I’m the visionary.”   It means I’m always onto the next thing. I’m always imagining the future and struggling to stay in the present.

There’s a book called the Synergist. It’s a business book by Les McKeown and he describes the visionary personality. He basically says, in an organization there are three types of people; visionary, operator, and processor. They’re all kind of in conflict with each other. The visionary says “Let’s go do this. Let’s go climb the mountain.” The operator says “Okay, let’s start marching.” And the processor goes “Hey, what’s our plan. How are we gonna do this?” So one is always going to do work, one is always thinking about the next thing, and the other one is trying to figure out how to build a process around it. And the solution that is the synergist, one who kind of synergistically bridges all these gaps.

So I am the visionary, which means I’m always thinking about the next thing kind of ADD type of personality or I’m just “OK, I’ll do this and let’s do this.” So task switching is easy for me for the most part. I have these friends who would like sit in a locked room and write for eight hours a day and I did that because that’s what I thought a writer was supposed to do. It was actually lonely and depressing and my writing suffered as a result of it.

I am at my peak when I’m juggling a few but not too many things where every day I’m spending sometime doing what Cal Newport calls “deep work,” where I’m spending a couple of hours working on my ideas like “That’s important and I can’t neglect that.” But then another part of my day needs to be spent interacting with people so that I can get feedback on those ideas. Like even this interview was an opportunity for me sort of riff on new ideas and old ideas and work on them and get feedback and see where the conversation goes.

So that’s really important to me going out to lunch with people, talking to my team, friend, whatever, you know, getting that kind of interaction is super important to me. And I used to feel guilty about that like I felt broken. I just realized “This is my personality. I’ve got to be doing a few, but not too many things.”

For me, that breaks down into three activities that I try to compartmentalize. I always need to be doing something to build my craft and to really grow as a writer. I always need to be doing something to build my brand, reaching more people so that, you know, you can continue to grow and I need to be doing something to build my business so that I can get paid so that I can keep doing all the other stuff.

And this kind of this vicious cycle, you build your craft and more people noticed and you build your brand and you build your brand, more people will pay you so you build your business which allows you the freedom to go back to building your craft. So every day, I’m working on all three of those activities in kind of frazzled task-switching kind of way. But I would say, Andrea, that there are these challenges switching from boss/influencer/author to dad or husband.

It’s a weird thing to talk about and the best way I can describe it, you know, with that story. So there’s this documentary about U2, because usually they’re going to this like 200, 300 day tours, right? They’ll be gone from their families for most of the year and gone from home anyway. And then they’ll come back home and Bono will come back home, and it will be a reentry process. It used to be he comes back from tour and when he back to the house, he was miserable and his wife ready to have a divorce.

So what they do now is he comes back to city that he lived in and stays in a hotel for two weeks and then will get together for dinner but then the kids and the wife go home and Bono stays in a hotel. And over the course of two weeks, they spend more and more time together and then eventually gets to come back home. And the reason for this is every night for a year; Bono was standing on stage full of 10,000 people who think he’s a God. They think he’s amazing and to switch from being that a star, where everybody will do literally anything for you to being dad, just dad or the guy who takes the trash out for the family that’s a hard transition to make.

And I don’t say this and like “Oh poor Bono or poor me,” but I know what that feels like psychologically to go from whatever hosting a conference with several hundred people, you know, sending an email to a hundred thousand plus people and getting a lot of really nice thank you notes and then going home and seeing the whole other area of your life, the other part of the portfolio where you know, your wife is going “You didn’t take the trash out,” or “You said you’re going was these dishes and you didn’t do that.” Or “Daddy, can we go play soccer?”

There is this really broken part in me that goes “Wait, don’t you know that I’m important?” I’ve realized that’s not a good voice but I like the very healthy part that Bono does which is life he insisted on. It’s a reentry process. So for me in a very small way, this kind of happens on a daily basis. I used to think that it was this ingenious. Now, I just think that it’s part of the job, like you would never say to a football player, “Why don’t just be yourself out there? Why are you wearing all those pads? And why are you screaming at the top of your lungs pumped full of adrenaline?” You don’t have to be that way at the dinner table. These are different roles, right? And you don’t want whatever the quarterback of Tennessee Titans to act the way that he acts at his job at home, at the dinner table.

So there has to be sort of ramp up period of the performance whatever it is that they’re writing the podcast and then there needs to be kind of a ramp down to reenter this other part of your life. For me, it’s not about balance; it’s about integration, so “How do I be the best dad and the best husband that I can be for my family in a way that also contributes and integrates with being the best writer, best writing coach, and teacher that I can be for my readers and my audience.”

For me, there’s a necessary good tension in those activities. And best way that I know, you know, you asked about sort of switching hats, I think it’s best to think of it sort of as “I’m on one planet all day long and then I get my spaceship and I fly home.” And there’s this reentry process that happens. Reentry is not an easy process, you know, you’re re-entery matters, if you do that the wrong angle, you know, we all remembers from Apollo 13, you could burn up. So having the things that I do at the very beginning of the day to ramp up into work mode and then also having activities that I do at the end of the day to ramp down and go into another mode, super important.

Andrea:   Yes, I totally agree. I think especially for people who are thinking a lot. It can be really, really hard to switch that gear. First of all, let me ask, do you ever find yourself in work mode when you’re with your kids totally distracted and then thinking to yourself “Wait a second, I got to get back. I got to come back to this moment.” I mean, that was something I really struggled with as a mom with little kids.

Before I started writing and doing anything else was that I felt so distracted all of the time because I didn’t have an outlet. You know, I wasn’t doing a podcast. I wasn’t writing. I didn’t have that outlet at a different time a day because I was with my kids 24/7 and that’s one of the things, I think maybe especially for moms, that it would be really nice if I would have taken a little bit more time to be able to get out when I needed to get out in a different setting to be able to use my brain in that different way and then come back to my kids where I could focus. Did you ever find that part very difficult?

Jeff Goins: I do. Yes and the best explanation for this was a book that I read, it’s called 5 Gears: How to Be Present and Productive When There is Never Enough Time, by Jeremie Kubicek. The book is just super practical about how to shift up and get into fifth gear which is like a deep, focus, work mode, and then shift down into the more social interactive time and then eventually you know, solo time. It’s the best analogy with anybody struggles with being present wherever you are, I highly recommend the 5Gear by Jeremie Kubicek and Steve Cockram. A very short book too.

But here’s the thing like for me, I totally get the outlet thing and my wife is starting a business now, our kids are 5 and 18 months, and she’s always been the more career oriented between the two of us. I never really cared about success you know, We met in college and she’s very career oriented and graduated and had a job lined up because she had already done two or three internships.

I graduated and found a way to live in a house for the summer while I raised money to go, you know, do this music mission trip and skirted around the country playing music for years. So that’s kind of indication of how we do life differently. So we started having kids, you know, she was able to stay home while I was doing the writing stuff. She’s kind of eventually gotten back because I think it was really a good thing for her to have something to do, you know, have an outlet as you said.

For me and maybe this is a thing or maybe not, but for me I realized, I’ve been working all day and I was sort of addicted to that feeling of being important, people wanting things from me. And then I would be in the doldrums of daily life at home where there isn’t an immediate feedback. I write a blog post and people go “Hey good job, you’re smart.” Or you know, even in my job working for nonprofit. I have an idea, I share it with my boss or my team and they go “Good idea.” And your kids are like not impressed with your ideas, right?

Andrea: No.

Jeff Goins: It’s the opposite. It’s your job to say “That’s amazing, great picture! Good job! My son was playing with magnets and he said “Hey, what should I make?” And I said “You should make a shark.” And he made this thing and he’s like “Here look at the shark.” And I was like “Cool!” He goes “Does it really looks like a shark?’ And I could hear like that was an important moment, and he was like “Is it really good?” And I said “Yes, absolutely. It’s amazing, wild and so creative.” That could drain you as a parent.

Here’s the thing that I realized. I’d be sitting on a couch with my kids trying to be present and I would want to check my phone, “Ahh maybe they need something.” And the reality was this, in that moment that time, I felt like work was more interesting than being at home like I was bored and I was finding some way to appease my boredom. Instead of going “Let’s go do something. Let’s make this fun because this is incredible. I need to not be missing because you’re never to be like this again.” Instead I’m going “I’m kind of bored, I wanna get through this so that I’ll go back to doing the things that feel fun to me.”

I realized this is boring because I’m making it boring and I’m maybe a little bit addicted to that feeling of being important. And that book 5 Gears actually helped me and I realized if you’re going like task, task, task, task, all day long and in five minutes later you’re at home. And it’s like relationship, relationship, relationship, relationship; you’re not going to be present there because you haven’t done a good job of ramping up and ramping down from those experiences.

So having some healthy practices to kind of a immersed yourself into whatever your daily activities like even if that’s being a mom, being a dad, going to work, doing whatever; like that’s an activity where you need to be fully present. And then going back home like that’s an activity where you also need to be fully present and thinking of it sort of like entry and reentry that’s really important.

You know, I mentioned Stephen King thing where like his kids walked in where he was working on novel and he stops and he pitched with them and watches a movie. That’s really cool. I tried that, it didn’t work. It was bad for me. It was bad for my kids. It was bad for my wife and my wife, when we can afford it, said “Leave, you need an office.” And I’m really bad at this. I’m easily distracted. I don’t know that would certainly make me feel better that sort of things that I struggled with. I can’t like be in a place where stuff is happening around me and focus.

Andrea: Yes!

Jeff Goins: And so what would happen is I have my office and my home right next to our nursery when our son was a baby, and I’d like creep through there in the middle of the day to get some work done and I’d wake him up. Or I’d be working you know in the office and he’d wake up and I’d be in a podcast interview and something would be going on in the background. I’d be really distracted. Like right now, we’re talking and you know my wife texted me and I was like “Uhh.” OK, you know, it’s very hard for me to focus when other things are going on.

And if you’re at home and my kids would be knocking on the door saying “Daddy,” like they don’t understand I’m working. They just know I was behind that door, right? So what we realized is when, for the most part, like I tried to make myself interrupt the ball and I like to use the flexibility of being self employed. But for the most part when I network, I’m fully present at work because that’s important to me, that’s important to the people that I’m influencing, and it’s also important to our family for financial standpoint and when I’m at home, I’m at home.

When I was working on this thing on the side and it was a bit of a side hassle, I was working early mornings and late at night, because I had to and it was a season and it was necessary. I can’t remember today, six years later, I can’t remember the last time; I opened up my laptop after 5:00 p.m.   And it’s not because I’m a really good guy or because I have great boundaries, it’s because I have said “When I’m work, I’m fully present at work and so I’m all in.” And so at the end of the day there is no more work to do.

I mean, obviously, I could keep going but I’ve done everything that I wanted to do that day because I would force that activity to fit into a certain container, not I think it’s called Parkinson’s law where like whatever amount of time you have, you’ll find work to fill that time.

So I have intentionally decreased the size of the container as an experiment, like “Can I still get the same amount of work done in say 25 hours a week that I was doing in 50 hours a week?” And I found a way to do that, so I go home most days going “Hey, I’m done, I don’t have anything to do. I’d don’t want to be anywhere else but right here. I’m going to be as present as I possibly can be because I gave everything that I had back there, you know, five hours ago.”

That’s been helpful to me. I don’t say it’s perfect. I don’t say that when I’m in a middle of a project or something, my mind doesn’t occasionally wander, but by disciplining myself to be all in right here, right now during the day however much time that is, sometimes it’s four, five, or six hours sometimes it’s more, sometimes it’s less. Because I would do it like I would be destructed. I would work on something on the side, take notes, text, phone calls, whatever and I’d go “What did I do?” Like not much, you know, I let a few people know I was available. I didn’t accomplish much from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

When I stopped doing that and spend time with my family more and it’s still. We would do a lot. We would do a lot of fun things and create a lot of memories and so the return on investment of that time of being fully present with my family was so much greater than kind of being busy and kind of doing some work.

Andrea: Yeah, yeah. I’ve heard of like Todd Herman, he puts on glasses like he doesn’t need glasses, but he puts on glasses when he’s working.

Jeff Goins: I love that.

Andrea: It’s sort of like a uniform or a persona, really like you’re talking about you’re amping up for the performance. I like that. I think that finding tools and finding a system or a set of practices that you do to ramp up and then ramp down. I mean those are so important. I’ve often thought that somebody who is going away to work like when they come home, I live in Nebraska so where I’m at is a pretty small town it’s not very far from work to home.

And I’ve often thought, you know, somebody who is driving home like why not just go around the block two or three more times to sort of just settle in and be prepared when you walk in the door for family instead of still kind of coming down from that work day or whatever. But yeah, I love all that. It’s really interesting. You talked about a “leaky filter” in your book and you’ve mentioned before “Do I have ADHD” or whatever. Have you heard of the concept of sensitivity like neurological sensitivity?

Jeff Goins: Yeah, yeah.

Andrea: Have you heard of the concept of sensitivity? Eileen Aron has done a lot of research on that. I think that helped me to grapple with all that just realizing that I’m just taking in so much information. I’m a sponge and I have to have a way to get that stuff back out again too, which I think, again is that like creative expression. If you’re taking all of this data, this information, all these ideas, and these experiences and you’re making all these connections in your head, especially if you’re like an intuition person like I believed you’re ENTJ, if I remember.

Jeff Goins: Yeah, yeah – good job.

Andrea: I know. I know, I’m totally creepy with stuff like that but that internal intuition were constantly like putting all these ideas together in our heads and making these connections and all that building schemes and then it’s like “I gotto get it out somehow.” I’m kind of interested in hearing your take on this, but one of my struggles and especially I used to be that I felt like I had so many different points of reference in my head. All these different ideas, thoughts, and experiences, they were all connected with this. They’re just all just connected.

My struggle was, and still sometimes is, if I want to take one of those out and talk about it, it is very, very difficult because I pulled it out and outcome with a strings of other things and it’s very difficult for me to separate it from everything else unless I’m in a conversation with somebody else. If I’m in conversation then I can meet them right where they’re at with whatever I got. But if I’m trying to create a speech or write something that is totally self-directed, it’s really hard. Do you have any tips or any thoughts about that experience?

Jeff Goins: Yeah, I do relate the quote, it’s a writing quote about I don’t know anything about something until I read what I say, and I think that’s true. I think calling a verbal processor or kind of works. And there are advantages and disadvantages to that book that I mentioned, The Synergist.

Andrea: Yeah.

Jeff Goins: What you’re describing is the visionary personality. It’s somebody has a high threshold for ambiguity, lots of ideas, you can hold two opposing ideas in tension for as long possible. So you have to absolutely pick one of them. On the services, it can look like not being able to make up your mind or being flaky, and you know, there can be some of it if you’re not harnessing it. But there are some advantages to it where you can literally see solutions that other people can’t see because you can navigate the nuance and seeming contradictions of certain situations.

That’s always been surprising to me. Somebody will present a problem and they go “We don’t know what to do here. I don’t know what to do here.” And I go “Really? Just really this?” “Will that will work.” “Yes it will if you do it like this, this and this.” “What about that, I don’t know about that.” “That’s a detail but it’s okay,” like “It’s not an important one.”

The downside is when I have a conversation with my wife, I’ll see stuff like an argument that I don’t necessarily 100% mean, but I’s how I feel in the moment and she remembers all of it. And 30 minutes later, I’ll finally arrive with a thing and I was trying to say, I was like “Oh you know what, this is how I feel about this and I’m sorry about all the other stuff.” She’s “What do you mean you’re sorry about all that stuff? That hurts.”

Andrea: It still came out.

Jeff Goins: Yes, it still came out and I’m responsible for that and you know navigating that is challenging. But I’ve realized that there are some like this is how I made and I can harness this but there are some inherent advantages to being this way. I mean, that book is really interesting you know. He talks about how visionaries, basically, the traits of visionaries are they waffle from one extreme of commitments to another being super over committed to being way under committed.

And I’ll just go “Yeah, I wanna do that. Why am I doing this? Why am I doing a book signing?” “Well, because three months ago you said you wanted to do a bunch of book signing.” “When did the book came out?” And that’s what I’m excited about. And you get bored with the details. You talk to think and I think that’s an interesting way of thinking about it.

When I sit to think in a room, I kind of come up with an idea but then when I talk it out and I share and I get feedback on it that’s when I’m really forced to figure out how this works. You know visionaries also want to own what they’re working on. They don’t want to pursue somebody else’s vision, they want to do their own even if it’s not as good, the fact that they get to own it is important. They don’t like structures to kind of abhor that. Yeah, it can be a challenge, but I’m realizing there are some advantages.

So it’s like helping people that I worked with and people that love me, you know, I can harness these advantages and disadvantages and ways that better serves them. But I can also communicate with them why I am this way. I do like that concept of the leaky filter. I heard of a researcher named, _____ talked about it. And it is this idea that if you’re in hyper focused mood, you are missing other opportunities that come along. And at the same time, you could be so distracted that all of this input is coming and you’re not filtering it. So what I’m not saying is like being in a state of destruction is a good thing, it’s not. That’s no filter at all. It is good to have a filter for your inputs.

I have realized that having a Facebook app in my phone is mostly a horrible idea because it’s so much input all the time and it’s not good for me, it’s so distracting. I would spend hours on it literally doing nothing, “What am I scrolling to see? I don’t know.” And so you’ve got to have a filter but there has to be ways to penetrate. It has to be leaky and all I know is that every great opportunity that’s come my way, pretty much any significant accomplishment I can think of that was an idea that came to me while I was doing something else.

And so being open to opportunities, especially an entrepreneur is very, very important. But I’d say for any kind of creative, being open to inputs while you’re working on something else is super important. Don’t miss those opportunities, but I also think you’ve got to know what to do with it. So for me, my best ideas for my next book come when I’m working on my current book about at 51% mark of the book, right I’m over halfway through. It’s no longer fun. It’s no longer new, now it’s just work.

I mean, it’s kind of fun but it’s not as fan as it was when it was in the first 10% and this could be anything. Now, this is something. I’ve got a show up every day and now I’ve got a deadline and it’s a commitment. So I will get an idea for my next book at that point. The two extremes that I would do, “OK, forget this. Now, I wanna do this, right?” But you’re already finished anything doing that.

Andrea: Exactly.

Jeff Goins: I’m interested in finishing things including work that’s going to make an impact not just teasing the next idea but never completing anything. The other extreme would be “Nope, put your head down. Forget about everything. Shot the door or close out everything and work on this. And the work itself would suffer as a result because I was completely cutting out inputs and I was losing esteem. I was not being stimulated from other ideas.

So what I will do now is that I’ll be working on the book, I’ll get an idea. I’ll read an article. I’ll kind of tease the tangent for a few minutes and I’ll just write it down. I’ll put it in Evernote, I’ll say “Hey, I love you. I will come back.” And you know probably 90% of the time; the idea is not as good as it felt in the moment when I was simply procrastinating.

But here’s the thing, every single book that I’ve written, as you’ve mentioned I’ve written five, except for the first one obviously, but every single, you know that the next four books that idea came to me while in the middle of another book. So I would have missed that idea if I didn’t have a leaky filter and wasn’t allowing some inputs at that time when I was supposed to be hyper focusing on something. So I just let them in, I write it down, and I set them aside and I say, “I’ll come back to you later.”

Andrea: Yeah, yeah that’s so important. Do you find that it’s just more fun to think and it’s harder to finish the book because now it’s the, I don’t know…

Jeff Goins: I think it’s scary to finish. I mean, yeah it’s fun to dream up on new things but there’s also… I don’t know for me, I like committing to things. It’s easy and I’m happy to do that and then as I’m realizing the cost of that commitment, I’m going…like for example, last week I did a book signing at a local Barnes & Noble and I committed to like three months beforehand because I got a schedule and I’ve got do all that.

I wake up Monday morning and I go “Oh crap, I got a book signing today.” That means I got to get shower before my son gets up. I got to iron my shirt because I got to wear something other than a t-shirt. That’s means, I got to do this and I’ve got to get a lunch at this time and that also means that maybe nobody will show up. And I would have wasted an hour and a half of my time. That just would feel embarrassing to me and the bookstore who ordered a hundreds books. They’re going to be mad at me and I’m not really a real author; and people would probably see this on social media. It’s like I find every reason in the world to hide.

And I’m like “Well, you committed to it so here we go, get up.” So I think like how to do that because I didn’t you know, Barnes & Noble would be calling me saying “Where are you?” And I’m just going to not show up. But even though in the middle of the book projects or any kind of projects where you’re holding yourself accountable, it’s so easy to let that fear of finishing, which I think it starts like those voices get really, really loud of like that 51% mark, you are at the top of the hill and the momentum is taking over. There’s no way to escape and you’re going down the hill now.

But all the fears, like you’re on the roller coaster ride like “Wait a minute, this might right at the top.” What your brain is telling you right now is you’re going to die right now and it’s your own fault. And you’re like “What can I do to get out of here right now?” I think most creative projects are that way. You get to a point and you’re afraid of all the bad things that could happen as a result of finishing it and it’s so much easier if you just start the next thing. Because when you’re starting something, you’re not really thinking about of how you’re going to finish it. It’s just exciting.

It reminds me of that scene in Goodwill Hunting where Matt Damon was talking to Robin Williams as his therapist. And Matt Damon says “Well, I met a girl.” And therapist says “Yeah, how was that? And he says “Oh she’s great. She’s amazing.” You know and they went out one day and everything about this girl was perfect. She was awesome and he got to ask her out again. He was like “I don’t think I wanna see her again.” He was like “Why not?” He goes “Right now this girl is perfect and I don’t want to mess that up.”

You know, it’s this question of when I’m starting something, it feels perfect. It feels flawless to me and I don’t want to mess up that purity. In reality, it’s not perfect. It just feels that way. It’s just an idea like ideas don’t change the world, action does. I become less precious about my ideas over the years because the ideas don’t matter, the execution of the ideas is what actually impacts other people’s lives. But yeah, there’s this feel like I could mess this up, whereas right now, to me, it feels perfect and I just want this feeling of novelty to last because it’s really nice.

And going on a first date with somebody, you know, being head over heels is way different than being in your time of marriage and struggling with time this month to go on a date. But what would you rather have; a memory of a wonderful first date, or a lifelong partner?

Andrea: Totally, yeah. OK, so when you are in that moment of trying to decide, you’re not really trying to decide whether or not you’re going to go to Barnes & Noble, but in a sense, you are. In a sense, you’re facing that fear and whatever and I _____ before you want to outrun fear, move fast that it didn’t catch you.

Jeff Goins: Yeah.

Andrea: But besides to your commitment to the fact that you committed, what is it inside of you that makes you say “No, I’m doing this.”

Jeff Goins: Part of it is the fact that it’s public. So if I don’t do it, I’m going to embarrass myself and that’s a big deal to me. It’s not a big deal to everybody but my personality is an entertainer kind of personality, so I’m very interested in achievement, success, and the appearance of success. So there’s _____, or it would have been better that I just hide and let people think I am just an author than do the book signing and nobody show up.

So part of it makes me do it is, what I’m doing and what I try to do with all my work is I’m practicing in public. This is something I talk about in the book and it’s just an important theme that I tried to embody for the past six years. When you practice in public, you’re doing a couple of things and this is like blogging, if you’re a musician, you could be street performing. It’s simply doing your work in some public setting where a few people will see.

On one hand, if you’re a _____ musician, you don’t need to be opening for _____ right away. But you could be booking shows in local bars where 15 and 20, 30 people might see it. And what you’re trying to do is you’re trying to sort to feedback loops so that you could do your work and immediately get feedback on and then improve on it. So blogging for me was this. I was practicing with folks and speaking engagement services.

Podcasting is probably the hardest for me because there are skills that I want to get better. And yes, I could sit in a room by myself and practice, ensuring questions or practice giving a speech or whatever, but I’m actually not going to get as good at the activity unless I’m doing it in some public venue. Or if I fail, there’s a cost to it. And so I bring more of my A-game partly because I’m a verbal processor. I bring more of my A-game when I have to perform, when I have to do it in public.

So practicing in public, I think makes you better, faster, and it also has its beautiful byproduct where if you do your job well eventually, you’ll build an audience. So you don’t have to worry about getting good and then promoting your work and selling it to an audience because they’ve seen you practicing for the past few years and they know how good you’ve gotten and they’ve been following along cheering you the whole way.

And obviously the risk of that is some people may see you in the middle of that going “Well, you’re not that good.” And “That’s true but I’m going to be better tomorrow.” So I think for me what makes me follow through is there are two things. One, you give your word and this like you got to do this. Like my schedule has gotten kind of crazy and I had an appointment this morning at 9 o’clock but I’m not taking my son to school.

So yesterday, my sister reached out to a friend of mine where I’m scheduled a podcast interview with him and say “Hey, we’re doing a reschedule.” And he texted me like “You’re rescheduling me a day before?” And I was like “No, I can’t do that like I will find a way to be there.” There’s just something in me that if I commit to it, good or bad, right or wrong, I’m going to have to do it even if I don’t want to do it.

The other thing I remind myself is “When you are done with this, you feel good, right?” So every book signing and before book signing I’m like “Why am I doing a book signing. I hate book signing. This is stupid, I hate book signing. I’m never doing this. This is horrible.” And then afterwards, I’m like “This is good. I’m glad, I did this. We should more.” And to be honest podcast every week, every Thursday, I do bunch of interviews and every day I go, “Why am I doing this? This isn’t worth my time.” And afterwards I’d say “Hey, this is so good. I’m so glad I took it.” So I think it’s bad if I committed but also I understand that this is the scariest best way for me to get good at the craft that I’ve chosen.

When I was an actor in college, you know, I was acting in stage plays, you know theater, and you feel fear every time. You feel fear every time you’re performing for a live audience. But we do for weeks on them, night after night after night and we had a saying like “If you weren’t nervous something was going to go wrong, like it is good to have nerves. You’re supposed to have nerves, it gives you an edge. It gives your performance an energy. You didn’t want to be necessarily like throwing up, but you wanted to be nervous enough that you’re going to be focused and sharp.

So when I think about this, when I feel fear and anxiety before a book signing and interview, a speaking engagement, any public thing, a book launch, anything that I’m going to do where if it doesn’t go up people going to see it, I want to get out of them. I want to run. I’m afraid and I began to recognize fear, not as a signal that I should stop doing this work but as a sign that I’m on a right road headed to that familiar destination. I’m like “Remember this success that you had?” “Yup!” “Remember feeling fear right before it happened?” “Oh yeah.” And now I feel good and I go “Hey, there you are.” You know, it’s a friend now. It doesn’t look like an enemy.”

Andrea: Sure! I hesitate to do this but I want press in a little bit further on this because I know that you’re a person of faith and I have this feeling that it goes deeper than that, that you not only are wanting to succeed that the fears going to help you succeed at what you’re doing. It kind of get you to this point where you have to be willing to sacrifice the fact that you might fail in front of people in order to serve people.

Jeff Goins: Hmm

Andrea: In other words, you love people more than you fear them.

Jeff Goins: Yeah. I mean, I think I heard _____ say this one and I thought this is out. He was talking about marketing and he was talking about appealing to people’s motives. And as a marketer, you need not to be appealing to people with no blur motives and you know we were talking about nonprofits and his work for nonprofits like “We want to serve the greater good. We want to be at this mission. We want to impact people.” Those are good things but you assume that people are giving to a nonprofit because they want to be a part of that vision.

And sometimes the answer is like they want to give $30 a month to an orphan in Africa because it makes them feel a little bit less guilty about their short circumstances, which sounds horrible, right? And somebody was like “Really?” People aren’t good or not bad, people are mixed, and I think that’s true and I hope that doesn’t sound too cynical. I don’t mean for it to sound cynical, I just know myself and I know that in any situation there’s that angel on the shoulder, the devil on the shoulder.

So yeah, I go into situations and, you know, I do love people. I like being around people but I also like the feeling that I get to help somebody, like I like that feeling. And sometimes it’s an unhealthy thing; it’s a _____ of anything where I need to feel useful. And I’ve realized that in friendships, I start to feel disconnected from a friend or a peer when I feel like I’m no longer able to help them. Like now we’re just friends and healing message of the three is that you are loved of who you are and not what you do.

And I’m like “Yeah, but I should do something, right?” “You need something from me.” It’s kind of like broken unhealthy desire to perform and continue to prove your worth. I think because you’re brought up the faith thing, I love people because I know that I’m loved by God. And I also know that I didn’t really do anything to deserve that love and it’s a humbling feeling. When you are loved in a pure way by anyone or anything and you let yourself feel that love, the next response is to share that love. Not just reciprocate it and love that person back, but to spread the gift.

I mean that’s how I feel. That’s why people get married and the love each other well and then they’re like “We should have kids because we want this to grow.” Yeah, I would say, beyond the success and beyond that, the thing that I have been grappling with over the past couple of years is what does it mean to be successful? And I think this is an idea that we get wrong, particularly we think about influence like legacy is what people say about you after you’re gone.

This is such like an egotistic, like you’re still worried about what would people say about me and I don’t think that what’s true legacy is. I think true legacy is not about people caring on your work in your name or your name being on a building or something or people talking about you. I think true legacy is that the investments that you made in another people over the course of your lifetime then taking that and doing something better and more significant than you could ever do.

When I was in college, I spent two and a half years trying to create and honor code in our college, which is basically a code of conduct regulated by other students, where you know somebody’s cheating or there’s a process for how this is going to be dealt with. I got probably a hundred drafts of this 20-page document doing again and again to get everybody to like it.

And in the last day of school, basically, I am brought this before the faculty and they approved it and then I realized, all they’ve done is approve the document. Now, we have to carry this out. I can’t do the work, like I’m done. I have to leave. And so I had to pass ton on this other guy name Josh who had to actually implement these things and that was just idea. Years later I came back to my old college and I saw this thing called the “Honor Code” in every single classroom, and I was both appealing because I was a part of that and also humbling because it wasn’t just me.

And so to me legacy is about being faithful to whatever gifts you’ve been given, sharing those, investing those in the people’s lives and then knowing that they’re going to carry out that work in ways that will shadow your work. Legacy is not just about what you do, right? It’s about what you leave behind, those can either be at offices, buildings that eventually fall apart and rot and whatever or they can be seeds. I think legacy is about investing in people so that things can grow.

You know, in the Bible, Jesus tells His disciples; He says “You will do even greater things than I will do.” I was like “This is like Jesus.” They’re going to do better things that I will do? I think that’s really interesting and important and it’s true that they did. And that’s what good, healthy leadership and legacy looks like I think. It’s about investing another people, and not because you want them to say nice things about you, but because you love people, hopefully because you know that you yourself are loved and you want to invest on the projects and ideas of other people so that those things can continue without you.

By the way when I went back to college, I saw the “honor code” my name isn’t on there. There’s not like a history book that says Jeff Goins, none of that. If anything, a lot of the credit went to the guy who actually carried it out. And I just realized like in all of our striving to do great things, we all die with a little bit of the music still left in us like that’s by design. We all die right on the edge of the promise land with one more step to take, one more project to do. I think there’s this idea that we’ll be on our deathbeds going “I did all the things that I wanted to do.” That’s not the way this works.

If you did all the things that you want to do, you were thinking too small. You need to have such a big idea, such a big dream. Your calling needs to be something that requires the work of other people generations of other people that carry out. So by the time this thing is done, people have forgotten your name. And if you’re chasing something like that then you’re a part of something really big and important and purposeful.

Andrea: Amen! Alright, thank you so much, Jeff. I could sit here and chat with you all day. But you’ve been so generous with your time.   Thank you so much for sharing your insights and your experience that the influencer listening. I appreciate all that you do.

Jeff Goins: You bet, totally my pleasure. Thanks for having me, Andrea. I love your questions. You’re great on that.

Andrea: Thank you! Well, I hope that you enjoyed that as much as I did. Obviously, I really enjoy just digging in to how people think and the way that they are and what makes them tick and how to navigate this creative life which is why I’m so drawn to just podcast the Portfolio Life. I will link to that in the show notes along with some of the books that he mentioned. Most certainly, above all, his book; Real Artists don’t Starve, Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age.

So pick up your copy of Real Artists don’t Starve. Check out the show notes or list of other resources that we mentioned in the podcast and make your voice matter more!




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