Ep 057

The Science of Happiness and Helping Retirees Find Passion & Purpose

With

Arthur Brooks

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Inside This Episode

Today, I’m joined by a very special guest, Arthur Brooks, to discuss a very special topic: happiness.

Arthur is a Harvard professor, author, and social scientist specializing in happiness. He has written 12 books, including the New York Times bestseller “Strength to Strength,” along with “Build the Life You Want,” a book he co-authored with Oprah. Arthur is also a columnist for The Atlantic and was selected as one of Fortune Magazine’s “50 World’s Greatest Leaders” while serving as president of the American Enterprise Institute, one of the world’s leading think tanks.

In short, Arthur’s done it all. And if you want to talk about the science of happiness — and money’s role in the equation — he’s your guy. So that’s what we did in this episode.

Strap in for a packed conversation that applies to the core of doing business and doing life. You’ll hear about the relationship between money and happiness, how to adopt different habits that may increase your happiness, and how your brain changes as you age — and what that means for how you run your business.

3 of the biggest insights from Arthur Brooks

#1 Discover the correlation between money and happiness — and the science behind our endless pursuit for more!

#2 What Arthur learned from working alongside infamous leaders like Oprah and The Dalai Lama – including their secrets to living a happy life.

#3 Why do so many retirees feel empty and unfulfilled? Arthur explains what’s going on psychologically and gives his best advice for helping your clients navigate retirement with passion and purpose.

KEY TAKEAWAYS: 

  • Why does money not lead to happiness?
  • The 4 ways to buy happiness
  • The ingredients that lead to happiness
  • How to handle political conversations at work
  • Why so many leaders are lonely
  • What Arthur learned from Oprah Winfrey
  • The PANAS test
  • Fluid vs. crystallized intelligence
  • How to coach younger team members
  • Why entrepreneurs are let down after exits
  • Lessons from the Dalai Lama
  • The formula that marries business and life

SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE: 

PEOPLE MENTIONED IN THE EPISODE:

THIS WEEK’S FEATURED REVIEW

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MIC DROP MOMENTS WITH ARTHUR BROOKS

  • The secret to happiness at work is not success in earthly terms. It’s a feeling that you’re earning your success. In other words, you’re creating value and it’s being acknowledged and recognized, and that you’re serving other people. Those are the two characteristics of work that will consistently bring and predictably bring joy into your life.” – Arthur Brooks

  • “The capitalist system is the best system ever created for creating value and pulling people out of poverty. The problem is when materialism or a desire for power or fame is the ultimate goal.” – Arthur Brooks

  • “People get an enormous amount of satisfaction by creating value.” – Arthur Brooks

  • “Always do the thing where you can create the most value and you can serve the most people.” – Arthur Brooks

  • “If you had a choice for your child to be born with $500,000 in a trust fund, or to be raised with love and good values, what would you choose?” – Arthur Brooks

Brad Johnson: Welcome back to another episode of Do Business Do Life. I’m excited to have Arthur Brooks here with us today. Welcome to the show, Arthur.

Arthur Brooks: Thanks, Brad. Great to be with you.

Brad Johnson: Well, yeah. Great. I mean, it wasn’t that long ago we were hanging in Scottsdale at Triad’s Launch Experience, and you had rave reviews from our audience there. So, we’ve been counting down the days for this conversation. And, as you know, by spending some time with us, this is a show for independent financial advisors. And so, I thought we’d just kick it off because, obviously, every day they’re dealing with their client’s money and, obviously, that can impact happiness in a lot of different ways. So, why does money itself not lead to happiness?

Arthur Brooks: Yeah. It’s a great question. I appreciate it and thanks, by the way, with your work with Triad. You’re enriching a lot of people’s lives and giving them opportunity to get together with people in their industry who share their values. No joke. That’s a big secret to effectiveness, but also to create the friendships and the alliances that we need, to sustain us emotionally and financially over the course of our lives. And you guys are really doing that. Anybody who’s listening to this and is interested, let’s check it out. I mean, it’s really, really, really compelling.

Brad Johnson: Thank you.

Arthur Brooks: Money and happiness, this is absolutely, I mean, I teach the science of happiness at Harvard University at the business school. I teach the only happiness course at the business school, and it’s really, really oversubscribed. Why? Because the business of life is about securing a fortune in love and happiness, not about securing a fortune of money. And that makes you ask the question that you just asked. What is the relationship between happiness and money? And it turns out it’s incredibly complex but really interesting and important for everybody listening to this to understand. Mother Nature wants you to believe that if you’re successful in earthly terms and that means money, power, pleasure, and fame or admiration or prestige or something along those lines that then you’ll be automatically happy. And Mother Nature’s lying about that. And she lies all the time. It’s not as if that’s the first lie Mother Nature has ever told us. You know, Mother Nature lies to say that, “Do these things so that you can pass on your genes and so you can survive another day and you’ll be happy.” And she doesn’t care about your happiness. That’s really up to you.

And so, one of the big lies is these earthly rewards will lead to happiness. The data are very clear that people’s well-being rises when they go through poverty. That’s true. And the reason for that is not because they get happier. It’s because they get less unhappy. And that’s a non-trivial distinction. Happiness and unhappiness are not opposites. They’re processed in different parts of the brain, as a matter of fact. And what you find is that financial resources, what they do is they allow you to avoid sources of misery, like inadequate calories and insufficient health care and threats to your kids. And just a little bit of money allows you to go through that, and so your unhappiness falls and your well-being rises. Unfortunately, people make the mistake of thinking, “Since I moved from not having anything to having a little bit, I felt better. That must mean that it’s raising my happiness. And if I get even more, I’ll be happier.” And they chase that dragon for the rest of their lives. And it isn’t true. Somewhere between depending on who you are, where you live, $75 and $200,000, you saturate that, you max that out is where that happens. The only way you can get happier with money after that is not having the money. It’s how you spend it. And you have to spend it in a way that’s not intuitive.

So, Mother Nature says, “Get more stuff, buy more stuff, and you’ll be happier.” And that’s what people ordinarily do. They use their – they dispose of the resources with cars and houses and clothes and watches and etcetera, etcetera, and the reason is because evolution says, “Have more stuff. You’ll show that you have excess resources and you’ll get more mates that way.” That’s the reason you want to do that because evolutionary is pushing you to get more mates by showing how rich you are. That’s why you’re doing that. That’s an important thing. It’s not like, “Yeah, that 12th watch is going to materially improve my life.” No. You want a cool 12th watch and you want a woman to say, “That guy’s got enough money to have 12 watches. He’s obviously a good provider.” And that’s what your brain is doing in this kind of Pleistocene algorithm from 500,000 years ago. And guess what? It’s not right. It’s going to lead you in the wrong direction because it won’t lead to happiness. The way to spend your money is basically four things that you can do with any amount of money you have that will bring you happiness but it doesn’t come naturally.

Number one is by experiences with people you love. So, do things with people that you love. So, people will say, “Should I get a beach house?” The answer is basically no, unless the only reason you get it is so your adult kids and grandkids will congregate there and you can spend the holidays together. If you can bait the hook with a house, fine. But if you want it because you want the house per se, bad, right? And by the way, still rent no matter what is a smart decision generally. Second is to buy time and spend the time with the people that you love. So, by all means, get somebody to spread the love, hire somebody to cut your grass because that’s a job for somebody else, and that’s a good thing to do. Pay somebody to clean your house because that’s give somebody a job. That’s a good thing to do. But if it frees up your time, don’t fritter it away on social media and waste your time. That’s stupid. Spend the time doing things with people that you love. That’s two. Number three is give it away. Give it away to causes that you really care about. You got to have stuff that you care about and if you’ve never given money away, you got to do some research and think about it a little bit.

Don’t just like throw it down the toilet by giving it to some cause that seems like it might be good. You’ll get no satisfaction from that whatsoever. Find out what you’re passionate about, find somebody’s doing a good thing, and then actually get behind that. And last but not least, here’s the most counterintuitive one of all, save your money. It brings huge happiness to save money. One of the greatest ways that we can get misery from money is by borrowing money, especially for consumption purposes. There’s a ton of research on this, Brad. You can imagine what it says. Why? Because you go backwards in progress once you borrow money, especially like running credit card bills. Car loans are bad if you can avoid them. Never take a car loan. Student loans that are excessive, don’t do that. Go to a cheaper school if you possibly can. The only kind of debt that actually doesn’t lower your happiness is mortgage debt. And the reason for that is because you’re actually doing something toward ownership of a home and that’s a good thing. But saving money is the opposite. Every time you put some money in the bank, it gives you enduring satisfaction. And we all kind of know that feeling. It’s like, “Wow. I got a nest egg, man. And I’m going to be able to retire.

But more importantly, this shows me my self-discipline. It shows me that I’m not a consumption freak. It shows me that I have a little bit of ability to defer my gratification.” And the more that you do that, the more that you engage in thrift, the better off you’re going to be. Those are the big four. And so, it’s important that we recognize that the neurochemistry is not our friend on this one.

Brad Johnson: That’s interesting. So, spending things on watches, cars, all of that, it’s that basically psychology. It’s basically it’s like a bird that puts its feathers out to find a mate. That’s the human version of that. It’s really the same thing. And the flip side of that though, is if you’re stockpiling money, it shows discipline because you’re not spending it and you’re providing for future unknowns. That’s kind of like the squirrel that’s running around, getting ready for hibernation, putting all the nuts in a little and that brings… Because what’s interesting is those are kind of the same concept, except one brings happiness and one brings unhappiness.

Arthur Brooks: Yeah. So, the grasshopper and the ant story is that the grasshopper is really, really, really happy because he’s goofing off all summer and not saving anything. And then he laments the fact he doesn’t have anything all winter. He dies of the cold or something. The ant meanwhile is stocking. The truth of that is that the ant is actually happier in the summer too, is what’s going on because the grasshopper is going into debt and nobody wants to go into debt. I mean, there’s some genetic component to this. You find that some people have a tendency to go into debt but nobody likes being in debt. Being in debt is like slavery. It’s terrible. It’s a terrible thing. And if you can avoid it, you should avoid it. I sound like Dave Ramsey now but he’s right about this that you’re unhappier. By the way, Dave Ramsey is right on basically everything. You will be unhappier if you actually get into debt and the more that you get out in front of it. And there’s so much that you can do. You buy yourself so many possibilities.

So, for example, if you in your middle-aged years are stockpiling cash and investments and investing for the future and you’ve got something built up so you can buy a house without a mortgage, think about how important that is because a house without a mortgage is just another way to stockpile value, which will then continue, assuming that you’re in a non-pathological real estate market, you’ll get richer as a result of that as well. It’s just another place to invest in a hard asset is the way that that works. It’s a win-win.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. Okay. So, earlier you named I believe, and correct me if I’m wrong here, Thomas Aquinas I believe coined those the four idols: money, power, pleasure, prestige chasing those.

Arthur Brooks: Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. He wrote that in Summa Theologica that he called these the substitutes for God. It’s a really interesting way of putting it that God is obviously for him was obvious that that’s what we want. And he said, “Because only God brings true happiness.” The trouble is that God is very inconvenient. Lots of rules and one-sided conversations. So, for a lot of people are like, “Give me something easier, man,” and something that has the things that have divine characteristics. They’re god-like. And anything as god-like, according to Aquinas, woe be unto you. Careful. Anything that’s god-like but not God is the opposite of God, if you know what I mean. And so, he says, “Facing the four things that have these god-like sort of generative aspects to them are money, power, pleasure, and fame, or honor or prestige or admiration,” or whatever manifestation of that, that each one of us is into.

Brad Johnson: So, on the flip side of that, the book that you just put out with Oprah talks about the four what’s called ingredients to happiness: family, friendship, work, faith. So, we talked about chasing these is not going to lead to happiness. Let’s talk about the ingredients that do.

Arthur Brooks: Yeah. And before we leave the idols, one thing that’s worth pointing out is that there’s nothing that says that the idols like real idols, like golden calves, those are bad according to all theology but there’s actually, in real life, nothing wrong with money. There’s nothing wrong with power. It’s not inherently corrupt or terrible or immoral. I’m not some sort of a Marxist. On the contrary, the capitalist system is the best system it’s ever created for creating value and pulling people out of poverty. The problem is when materialism or a desire for power or fame is the ultimate goal. So, absolutely nothing wrong with money, but it can’t be your ultimate goal. It has to be an intermediate goal to get to something better, to serve other people, to create jobs, opportunity, and growth, to be able to spend time with your family. And that’s what leads to the big four real goals that you want to get to, which are faith, family, friends, and work. Work that serves other people. Those are the real goals that will bring enduring satisfaction.

Brad Johnson: Do you believe this saying, I heard it many years ago, “Money makes you more of who you are?”

Arthur Brooks: I do think that that’s the case. There are a lot of things that make you more who you are. I mean, alcohol makes you more who you are. Getting old makes you more who you are. There are a lot of things that sort of amplify your natural characteristics. Anything that will strip away your inhibition will do that. Twitter will make you more who you are. Being inside a car will make you more who you are when somebody actually annoys you. Anything that disinhibits you, it turns out to make you more of the kind of person that you are. And you find that that money is a disinhibition mechanism for a lot of people.

Brad Johnson: So, deployed for the right reasons can make you happier or less unhappy, as you said earlier, but deployed for the wrong reasons can actually make you more unhappy.

Arthur Brooks: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And I’ve talked to, you know, I’ve had the opportunity in my career to talk to lots and lots of incredibly wealthy and successful people, many, many billionaires. And I always ask them the same set of questions. For example, I asked one really wealthy guy, older guy, “What’s the biggest mistake about money? The biggest misunderstanding about money that you had before you had it, that you found out you were wrong about when you got rich?” And he thought about it. It’s pretty interesting. He said, “I thought that if I got rich, my wife would love me. And I got rich and she didn’t.” And the point is, if she doesn’t love you poor, she’s not going to love you rich, man. These are big mistakes. And then what happens is all you are is a rich guy with a crummy marriage, which means that you’re about to have a very, very rich divorce lawyer. And big money, big problems is what it comes down to. And so, those are the kinds of things where money will exacerbate these misunderstandings, these cognitive errors that we make.

And the result is that, yeah, for sure, if it’s an intermediate goal for you, if you want to use money to be closer to the people that you love, to support the causes you care about, to use it for great good, more power to you, man. But if you’re actually thinking that you’re going to be able to buy happiness in some way, you’re going to be woefully disappointed. And that’s going to put you in the wrong direction because you can make a lot of bad decisions.

Brad Johnson: Well, let’s flip to how to get happier.

Arthur Brooks: Yeah.

Brad Johnson: So, family, friendship, work, faith, you’ve spent an hour with us in Scottsdale talking and kind of unpacking this. We don’t have an hour to unpack it today, but if you were going to give somebody a brief overview of what that math problem looks like, what would you share with them?

Arthur Brooks: Those are the happiness habits and there are 10,000 happiness habits that we can come up with but there are only four that really matter a lot. One is having a sense of the transcendent, which means a sense and a serious focus on what’s bigger than you. If Mother Nature will make us focus on the individual psychodrama of our lives, you know, my commute, my money, my sandwich, my money, it’s just the worst. And you need relief and perspective and you got to zoom out. The only way to do that for many people is their religious faith. It’s designed to make you zoom out onto the universe, on the majesties of universe, and apart from yourself. But you can get it through non-religious philosophy as well. Get the focus on not on yourself. You have to focus on the art of the, you know, what’s going on around you is what it comes down to. And so, philosophy, studying philosophy will do that or walking in nature or getting involved in something as deeply, deeply intellectual, intellectually absorbing, or a meditation practice. Or for me, it’s my Catholic faith, which is the most important thing in my life.

I’m not saying which is right of these approaches, I’m just saying that all of them will bring you greater happiness. The second is family life. Family life is really important. One in six Americans today is not talking to a family member because of politics, which, Brad, is insanity. There’s only one reason to stop talking to family and that’s abuse but difference is voting for Trump or Biden is not abuse. It’s a difference of opinion is what it comes down to. And that’s not what leaders are telling us because they don’t have our best interests at heart. We’re a nation largely that’s being driven by political and ideological activism. That’s the reason that campuses are on fire and companies are being hijacked. That’s the reason that our politics is so bitter and polarizing is because the activists who have these personality characteristics of narcissism, Machiavellianism, and even traits of psychopathy that 7% of the population, they’re disproportionately activists in charge of our institutions today. And that’s making us nuts. And they thrive on destroying our relationships. Don’t let it happen to any of us.

Brad Johnson: Can we spend some time before we move off of that one? Because we’re, as we record this, about to enter a very tense political season, I believe.

Arthur Brooks: So it seems. Yeah.

Brad Johnson: So, they say in business don’t talk politics or religion, very divisive topics. But you made a great point. These are just differences of opinions. And adults should be able to have a conversation with another adult that has a difference of opinion in a civil way. And unfortunately, our country has lost that ability or many in our country have. What are ways as a business owner because many listening to this are leading teams with different viewpoints, they have clients with different viewpoints, what advice would you give them?

Arthur Brooks: My advice would be anytime somebody has got something to say politically, instead of shutting it down, treat it the same way that you would any information that might be interesting if you’ve not been exposed to. So, business people who are successful, one of the things they have in common is they’re always looking for tradable information. So, somebody comes and says, if you’re in finance, if you’re an investor and somebody you know says to you, “I have a theory about what’s going to happen in the market,” it might be crazy, it probably is wrong, but you’re going to listen. And the reason is because you want to evaluate it and you might get some tradable information. Well, think of yourself as a researcher, as an investigator in everything. When somebody’s got an opinion different than yours in politics, you don’t have to agree but it’s worth listening to so that you understand that person better. So, at least you can say, “The people who vote for that guy, some of them think this thing.” “Oh, how interesting. I didn’t know that.” Certainly, you don’t know a whole bunch of things about it.

Be less judgmental and be more curious. That doesn’t mean agree. It just means disagreeing better by animating yourself with curiosity, which if you’re a successful business person, that’s why you’re successful. So, be successful in life with the same principle.

Brad Johnson: Curiosity.

Arthur Brooks: Yep.

Brad Johnson: Love it. Okay. Keep rolling. You’re getting on to number three.

Arthur Brooks: Yeah. Number three is friendship. And this is hard for a lot of leaders. A lot of people listening to this podcast were very successful. It’s hard to have real friends. It’s easy to have deal friends. But real and deal are not the same when it comes to friendship. We all kind of know the difference between them. As you go through your career and become more prosperous, you have less and less time for people who you don’t need, you just love, and you lose track. A lot of really successful people in business I know, they haven’t had deep, real friendships since college. And they’re too busy to like hang out, to do the things that actually takes. What real friends have, well, what deal friends have is that they’re useful to each other. So, therefore what real friends have was their useless. They’re beautifully, cosmically useless to each other. They just love each other. And I’m telling you, I don’t care how many deal friends that you have, you’re going to be lonely without real friends. That’s just the way it is. I got the data, but you don’t even need my data.

If you don’t have people that just love Brad for Brad, that’s a big problem is the way that that turns out. If you’re married, one of your real friends better be your spouse but it can’t be your only real friend. Even the biggest introvert needs at least one more is what it comes down to. And the loneliest people that I meet ordinarily because they don’t have enough real friends are leaders. And I see this all the time. And last but not least is work. Now, everybody listening to this, the reason they listen to it is because they want ideas. And the reason they want ideas is because they’re successful and they know that being successful is part of this curiosity. That’s great. But the secret to happiness at work is not success in earthly terms. It’s a feeling that you’re earning your success. In other words, you’re creating value and it’s being acknowledged and recognized, and number two, that you’re serving other people. Those are the two characteristics of work that will consistently bring and predictably bring joy into your life is what it comes down to.

So, if you’re finally finding that your career is leaving you a little bit empty, those are the two things to look for. Am I earning my success adequately? Am I making sure that people who work for me are earning their success? They’re recognized and acknowledged for their hard work. I know I have a merit-based system. None of this nonsense of non-merit-based systems. All that stuff is corrosive to workplace morale. And then also making sure that everybody knows who they’re serving and how they’re serving other people. And if you run a company and your clients are really grateful for what you’re doing, but the people who work for you never talk to the clients, there’s going to be a big problem.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. Well, let’s go back to the friendship piece. I’ve seen, I mean, I remember a mastermind where it was 12, 14 entrepreneurs that flew in and one legitimately who was brave enough to share it with the group sat in what was called the hot seat. You know, it was the chair at the front. And he basically said, “I don’t have any friends,” and it was a very emotional experience for him. You could tell he was lonely. I mean, he had a lot of employees, I think 600 employees, no friends. So, if you were a leader out there that feels like you’re deficient there, how would you go about changing that?

Arthur Brooks: Most leaders who are deficient on that is really for two reasons. The one is what I talked about before, which is they’re too busy and they’re assuming that all the relationships that will sustain them are going to come over the ordinary course of the workday. That’s not true. It’s just not going to happen. The second is that if you’re a boss, nobody is your friend that you’re able to fire. You’re not friends with somebody who can actually decide your salary and fire you because that’s not how humans are wired. Evolution has pushed us into these tribal groups that are hierarchical. And the alpha has all kinds of power over the other members of the group. And the alpha is almost always lonely. Even though everybody’s kissing up to the alpha, that’s not friendship. Everybody wants to mate with the alpha, not friendship because everybody wants something from the alpha. If you’re the boss and everybody wants something from you, it might feel kind of satisfying because you’re number one but it will not sustain you because these are not love relationships.

The minute you don’t have power, they’re gone, man. They can be, “Oh, I always loved you so much.” Are you kidding me? I’ve been a CEO. It’s like from Mr. Big to “Arthur who?” the day I stepped off the job. You go back a couple of months later they’re like, “Hey, how you doing? I don’t care.” And there’s nothing wrong with them. It’s just the order of things. It’s just the way that thing. People are busy. People have ordinary lives. People have normal lives. And it makes sense that nobody’s wondering what’s going on in my private life after I leave the corner office is the way that comes about. So, you got to do something different. You have to actually look for the friendships where most people can find friends in the workplace. You can’t. That means you have to look outside the workplace. Number one, you have to tend to your marriage. If you’re a married person, you have to tend your marriage because your number one friend, real friend, people who just love you notwithstanding whether you got money or anything else that has to be your spouse. And tending to your marriage means actually spending time on it.

You know, a lot of really successful people are not spending enough time making real friends with their spouse. Second, you have to put yourself in a position where you can make real friends about people who are not a fan of yours and need stuff from you. Go hang out with people who don’t think you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread. Meet somebody at church or in your community or something and have coffee with somebody, just learn about their lives and make sure that’s not somebody who’s horribly impressed with you. That’s what it comes down. And that’s really hard for famous people, by the way. It’s really hard because everybody just wants to hang out with famous and brilliant people because it sort of adds a little luster to their own lives. And so, that’s one of the reasons that as I deal with actors and politicians and athletes, that they’re some of the loneliest people I’ve ever met.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. I was just thinking that as you were going through there, I’m like, hang out with people that like don’t admire you. Well, if you’re known worldwide like Taylor Swift, that’s really hard. You better go to a remote island somewhere that has no internet, right?

Arthur Brooks: Yeah. We all find that actors, I work with a lot of actors and very famous people and it’s like, “Why are your friends all as famous as you?” Well, that’s why because they don’t need anything from you. They don’t need anything from you. And it’s a relief. I’m not an alpha A-list something. I’m just a guy but I like hanging out with people who don’t do anything from me, who like they just like me, and they don’t need anything. And I’m looking for people I don’t need anything from to be my friends as well.

Brad Johnson: Makes a lot of sense. I never thought about it that way why famous people tend to roll with other famous people. It’s, yeah, these are people that I don’t need them to advance or they don’t need me to advance their careers.

Arthur Brooks: Right, right.

Brad Johnson: Okay. So, let’s go into where we’re about the halfway mark. And you spent a lot of time in Scottsdale going through kind of the happiness and the work you did. You co-authored the book with Oprah, which by the way, like that’s fun. I mean…

Arthur Brooks: Yeah. It’s great.

Brad Johnson: Tell everybody like what’s been. How did that come to be? What’s your experience with Oprah? I mean, that was a really cool collaboration.

Arthur Brooks: Yeah. It’s fun. It was her idea, actually. So, she’s a reader of my stuff, which I didn’t know. I mean, I have half a million or something readers of my weekly column, but I don’t know who they are. I mean, because I’m just tossing it into the universe and blessing it and hoping for the best. I don’t know who reads the stuff. It could be anybody that I know or maybe nobody that I know. And it turns out that Oprah has been a, she’s really interested in the science of happiness and she reads my Thursday morning column in Atlantic, How to Build a Life. And then when a book that I had in 2022 came out called From Strength to Strength about finding happiness and purpose in the second half of life, she read it. She bought it and read it the first day. She’s a really fast, she’s a voracious reader. And she called me up and said, “This is Oprah.” I’m like, “Yeah, yeah, right. And this is Batman.” But turns out it was Oprah, right? And she wanted to see if there’s something that we can do together because she felt that probably had a match in our missions.

And sure enough, I did her book club podcast, which was awesome. And then I did a show. She has a web show called The Life You Want, which is really great. And we did that, and we just have the same mission, which is to lift people up and bring them together, just other means of doing it. So, then her idea was, “Why don’t we write a book together that can get these ideas to a brand new audience?” And we worked on it together for about nine months. And I spent a lot of time in California. She lives in California. I was up in Montecito. I was down in San Clemente. We’re passing chapters back and forth and talking on the phone a lot. And I would see her from time to time and the result was Build the Life You Want: The Art and Science of Getting Happier. It’s been a joy. It’s been a thrill. We did a little tour together. We got a bunch of media together. And I got to tell you, I’ve learned a lot from Oprah Winfrey. I’ve learned a lot about how to live a good life. She’s got the technique nailed.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. What was the most surprising thing you learned from Oprah?

Arthur Brooks: So, I’ve been lucky to meet a lot of people that I’ve admired a lot in my life and get to know them personally. Most really famous people are different in private than they are in public, which kind of makes sense because you got to have a public image and then you deserve to live a private life. And so, they’re kind of different people and I’m sort of used to that. And I was sort of expecting that with Oprah. It’s not true. She’s the same person. That was really shocking. And what she’s done is she’s cracked the code of having the highest levels of money and fame. And the reason that she’s a truly happy person, a truly equilibrated, mentally healthy, happy person despite being one of the probably ten most famous people in the world is because she thinks of these things only as an opportunity to serve other people. That’s her whole, that’s her, that’s what she’s about is lifting people up and bringing them together. She wants to serve other people. And she realizes she said this to me multiple times, and I believe it.

She said it to me in private, not just in public interviews, “I have all these blessings because there’s an expectation that I’m going to use these blessings to serve other people, to give them ideas, to lift them up, to help to lighten their load,” which is why millions and millions of people trust her. But in private, around her dinner table, she’s the same person. It’s extraordinary. It’s shocking actually.

Brad Johnson: That’s awesome. Well, you shared a story in Scottsdale about, I’m going to go to my notes here so I don’t mess this up. There’s a test both you and Oprah took, PANAS. And basically, I’ll let you break it down because this is your world, not mine. But you and Oprah are on opposite sides of the spectrum. And one of the things you mentioned is actually hanging out with more different people can actually lead to more happiness, not less.

Arthur Brooks: And more pressure to me.

Brad Johnson: So, I’ll let you take it away.

Arthur Brooks: Yeah. So, we find that Oprah and I have different personalities that tend to be highly complementary for high levels of productivity, and are very good to find in business partners, as it turns out. And we didn’t know this but it turns out one of the reasons we link together like puzzle pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. So, this is a test called PANAS, positive affect negative affect sequence. And people can take this test about their own personality on my website at ArthurBrooks.com for free. You can take it and find out what quadrant you fall in. Now, this is a test of the intensity of your positive and negative emotions. So, we all have the same emotions but we have different levels of intensity of our emotions. According to the population is above average positive emotion and above average negative emotion. This is the intensity of their emotions. These are people that are quite, they’re called high-affect people. It’s like good or bad or it’s nothing in the middle, man. It’s like up, down, down, up, up.

These are people who tend to be really strong CEOs. Most entrepreneurs fall in this quadrant of these are called the mad scientist, the mad scientist profile. I’m a mad scientist, you know, up one side and down the other. I have very high emotional intensity. I’m at the 95th percentile in positive emotion and the 90th percentile in negative emotion. And it’s very hard to be married to a mad scientist. And my wife reminded me of that this very day. So, you got to, I mean, and you have to work hard.

Brad Johnson: How kind of her.

Arthur Brooks: Yeah, I know. It’s like, “Thanks, honey. I’m aware.” She’s like, “It’s tricky. Everything doesn’t have to be ten and zero. Some things could be five,” right? I mean, like we’ve been married 33 years so it’s not like this is a surprise to me, but it’s important to be reminded. Some people are high positive and low negative. These tend to be the people with the highest life satisfaction, as you can imagine. And these are called the cheerleaders. That’s 25% of the population where the problem with cheerleaders, they can’t give or take bad news very well. And so, they don’t always make the best CEOs because they surround themselves with relentlessly positive people and business is not always positive. When there’s threats, man, you better know first, not last. And cheerleaders are always resisting the truth when it comes to bad news. And so, they tend to struggle. They also can’t give tough evaluations to people. They tend to hold on to bad talent for too long, etcetera. There are people who are high negative and low positive. These people have the lowest life satisfaction, but they tend to be extremely creative people.

These are called the poets. The poets are, they have intense negative emotion and they have very weak positive emotion. They ruminate on bad things but also in creative ideas. They’re really good on business planning. They’re really good writing symphonies and operas. They’re very creative people. They’re also incredibly romantic because rumination involves a part of your brain called the ventral lateral prefrontal cortex and that’s where you ruminate on another person when you’re in love, that’s where you create a business plan, and that’s where you process all of your horrible regret and ruminative, iterative thought patterns that are unhealthy. And then you have people who are low positive intensity and low negative intensity. These are people, they have happiness and unhappiness, but the intensity of their emotions is low. These are judges. These are the people who are steady. They’re reliable. They never freak out. No matter what’s happening, they don’t freak out. They’re great surgeons. For example, you don’t want somebody to cut you open and go, “Ah”. That’s not what you want. You want somebody who’s like, “All right. I can deal with that,” running nuclear power plants, scary things like that.

Oprah’s a judge. She’s a super judge and she’s had a very, I mean, she’s had an interesting life, man. She’s had a very exciting life but she’s also like, “I don’t know what’s next. What’s next? What’s next?” You know, over the past couple of years since we’ve been working together, I’ve seen her like deal with all kinds of crazy stuff like the Maui wildfires and all that. And that would have freaked a lot of people out. You know, that whole thing with the stupid conspiracy theories about it. And she’s like, “Yeah. Yep. You know, you got to take it as it comes,” because she’s a judge. Now, the best pairing in business is a mad scientist with a judge. Why? Because the mad scientist is entertaining and, “Let’s do a new thing, do a new thing.” And the judge is like, “I can handle it. Let’s do that thing. Let’s do the right thing,” is the way that that works. And so, we just locked in because we have the same moral mission which is critically important in business. You got to have the partners have the same moral mission. For us, lift people up and bring them together using science and ideas. And then you have to have interlocking complementary personalities.

By the way, that partnership is really good in marriage, too, when you have somebody who has a complementary personality. Marriages tend to be more successful when you have different personalities as opposed to when you have the same personality. So, it’s not just in business, it’s also in life and love.

Brad Johnson: Thanks for breaking that down. We’ll throw that in the show notes so we can have everybody go figure out which of the four quadrants they sit in.

Arthur Brooks: Great.

Brad Johnson: Okay. I want to transition to your book from Strength to Strength. For those watching on video, there’s right over your right shoulder there. So, this is really interesting because a lot of the listeners and watchers of this show are financial advisors, and specifically for Triad, we tend to have clients that focus right in the retirement years, pre-retirement, and retirement years. And as I was diving in Strength to Strength, I’m just going to kind of set you up but I think a lot of our listeners can think about this through the lens of their clients that they’re serving, that are just coming up on retirement and kind of that second chapter of their lives. But you mentioned in the book that professional decline sets in somewhere between your late 30s, early 50s. And it’s kind of this From Strength to Strength is as certain skills decline, actually, other skills start to blossom. And I think that’s really important to think about because it’s not the day and age of the retiree that sits on the front porch and the rocking chair just watching cars drive by anymore. And I think this can be really powerful stuff for a lot of advisors serving those sort of people.

Arthur Brooks: Yeah. So, what you find, and this is based on work from Raymond Cattell, who’s a social psychologist from Britain in the 60s and 70s, but it’s been validated in and replicated by neuroscientists ever since. We understand much more of the mechanism of action biologically. I mean, these days we know that psychology is just biology the way that it turns out. And that’s why neuroscience is so important. About 30% of what I teach is neuroscience these days. What happens is that the human brain, it possesses a lot of what we call fluid intelligence in early adult life. Fluid intelligence has a lot to do with working memory, has a lot to do with brand-new innovation, has to do with focus, the ability to crack problems autonomously. And so, the most successful entrepreneurs, they have skyrocketed unbelievably high levels of fluid intelligence. They’re extremely innovative. They can focus for long periods of time. They have incredible working memory, and they can just get the job done is what it comes about. Great songwriters have this. People who are innovative in almost every industry have this. That ability goes up and up and up and up.

And that’s what makes young people good at what they do. That’s what make stockbrokers good at what they do. Anything that uses your brain, that’s what makes researchers good at what they do. That’s what makes even classical musicians and writers good at what they do early on, innovation, working memory, speed at processing. And they get better and better through their 20s and 30s. And that maxes out in their late 30s. Usually around age 39, there’s a weird thing about 39 and then it starts to decline. Now, it doesn’t mean it’s precipitous. It doesn’t mean you’re incompetent or geriatric mentally at age 45. If you had high fluid intelligence at 35, you’re going to have the same high fluid intelligence at 45. The problem is you’re higher at 40 than you were at either one of those levels. And you notice the difference and you don’t know what’s wrong. “I’m kind of burning out. I used to like it better. I feel like you don’t have any good ideas anymore. What’s wrong with me?” That’s what’s wrong with you is what it comes down to. Now, it’s in freefall in your 50s and 60s. People in their 50s and 60s who were trying to keep up with the young people mentally in their 20s and 30s, they’re going to fail mostly.

I mean, maybe your fluid intelligence was so high that you at 55 or higher than most people at 25. That doesn’t happen very often. That’s the bad news. The good news is there’s another kind of intelligence that comes in behind it, the Raymond Cattell and later the neuroscientists found to be the case, which is called crystallized intelligence. Crystallized intelligence does not require working memory. I mean, it requires some but it doesn’t require good working memory, thank God, because I’m turning 60 this year and it also doesn’t…

Brad Johnson: Hey, I’m 44 this year, so apparently I’m in decline as well.

Arthur Brooks: You’re right. You are. I mean, you’re still really high. You’re higher than me, brother. But crystallized intelligence doesn’t require processing speed. It doesn’t require innovative capacity. What it requires is a lot of knowledge and the ability to use the synthesis of knowledge by telling you a coherent story and teaching others on the basis of it. It’s like having the New York Public Library in your head and knowing how to use all the stuff that’s in there. You’re not going to write a new book and put it on the shelves, but you know where every single book is. That’s the difference between fluid and crystallized intelligence. What you find is your pattern recognition is better. Your teaching and mentoring ability is better. Your management capacity is better because you can recognize and cultivate talent better than you ever were able to do before. And every profession has a fluid and crystallized element to it and versions of the profession that you can turn to at the right point in your life. So, if you’re a lawyer, work to be the star litigator when you’re 30, but be the managing partner when you’re 60.

Don’t try to keep up with the young people that are doing these amazingly new innovative things. On the contrary, scope out the talent and train the talent. Everybody loves the managing partner more than the star litigator. Actually, you’re learning how to be the star litigator in law school but the managing partner is happy and successful and making more money, quite frankly. But anybody who’s trying to still be the star litigator at 60 is going to be woefully disappointed. If you’re an entrepreneur, you should be the start-up person at 35, and you should be a venture capitalist at 65, where you’re recognizing this like, “I don’t know, I’ve never seen this business before but I kind of feel it. I can feel it in my bones. Go see that and that, that, that, that. I’m going to triangulate all this information through pattern recognition abilities I can’t quite articulate and then knowing this is going to be successful,” because you got the judgment. I was a quantitative mathematical theoretician in my early 30s. I was writing academic articles that were so sophisticated mathematically, I can’t read them today.

But now I’m a teacher, not in the classroom. I mean, I’m in the classroom too and you saw me teaching a group of financial advisors in Scottsdale. That’s just teaching, too. But my column for 500,000 people a week or my books, those are teaching books. Those are not brand-new theories. This is using everybody else’s ideas and saying, here’s the story that this actually tells. And that’s so much more satisfying. I couldn’t have done it when I was 35. But now, on the cusp of 60, I’m just starting to hit my stride and the data say that I’ve got, if I want it, 15, 20 more good years left of that because I’m on my crystallized intelligence curve. And that’s what each one of us needs to find in our profession.

Brad Johnson: I heard the saying once. Actually, my mentor shared this with me. He said, “Somebody sends the elevator down for you. Once you ride it up, don’t forget to send it back down for others.” And really when I think about crystallized intelligence, your analogy of the attorney, the star litigator versus the partner that’s coaching and mentoring others, that’s very similar to a lot of financial advisors that like if you’ve been grinding appointments for 20 years, another appointment on the calendar doesn’t excite many financial advisors. So, everybody’s a little different but what I’ve seen as you hit this phase of crystallized intelligence where it’s like, “Hey, I can actually grow a firm and train other advisors, the 20, 30 years of knowledge locked away in my brain and disperse that and mentor others.” And so, if you were coaching a financial advisor out there that’s kind of at that stage, maybe they’re 40s, 50s kind of ready for that next season, what advice would you give them when it comes to coaching and not losing patience when you’re trying to share that knowledge in your head with others?

Arthur Brooks: It’s basically coming up with a pedagogy where you understand that not everybody’s going to understand things at the same time. So, you need to be thinking a lot about what are the characteristics I’m looking for, what’s the raw material I’m looking for, and then thinking very systematically about what do people need to know first. It’s basically like putting together a class. So, if you’re going to mentor other people, you’re going to coach other people, you can retain other people. Think about it as if you were putting together a business school class. How am I going to, first on the admissions committee, what am I going to be looking for? What are the characteristics I’m going to be looking for? And make it very explicit in your head. So, it’s not just, “This is how I feel.” No, no. Think about actually what it is. Then say what’s the first set of things they need to know to be successful? What are the kinds of jobs I should put them on so they can learn? How am I going to know the ones that were a good call for me and those that were not a good call for me? How am I going to be able to distinguish between those two types of people? And basically, put together your curriculum. Make it explicit. The more you do that, you’ll have super fun time. You’ll be able to share it with other people, and most importantly, you’ll be really, really successful and probably make a bunch of money.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. The ones that have cracked that code, really it’s this new season that you kind of open up where you’re using the same knowledge base. It’s just, I will say as somebody that’s coached for 20 years, there’s no greater joy I have, I mean, outside of my family and my wife and my children, but in business, then when you share an idea or a concept with someone and then they use it and they come back to you and they’re like, “It worked. You know, it was awesome. I love.” And so, I’m sure you’ve had that experience yourself being a teacher for many years but is there some psychology or biology behind the happiness that that creates?

Arthur Brooks: Yeah, totally. I mean, it’s like people get an enormous amount of satisfaction by creating value. Remember that the secrets to happiness at work revolve around earning your success and serving others. But to get those things, you have to be able to create the most value and do something that people need the most. And at different points in your career, those are different. You’re going to find that if you try to stay on your fluid intelligence curve and be a ninja in your business, you’re going to be chasing something for yourself, not for other people as you get older. And that’s inherently less satisfactory. Plus, you’re not going to be as successful or at least you’re not going to be creating as much value. And even if you fool everybody in the world, you’re going to fool yourself. You know perfectly. So, the result of that is you’re going to enjoy it a lot less. Always do the thing where you can create the most value and you can serve the most people. And that inevitably means in the first half of your career, do fluid things, and the second half of your career, do crystallized things.

Brad Johnson: Okay. So, now let’s flip this. So, let’s say you’re the financial advisor and you have a retiree walking into your office. And I oftentimes see and I’ve talked with entrepreneurs that had a big exit. And it’s almost like this big relief at first. And then it’s this loss of identity like, “This at the core is who I was. Now, I’m just supposed to go sit on a beach?” And those that go sit on a beach for a month, that doesn’t make them any happier because they don’t feel like they’re contributing now. So, many financial advisors, they’re kind of that psychologist for their clients where they’re sitting there, and it’s like, “What now? What’s next?” So, what tips would you give advisors out there that are helping their clients navigate from strength to strength?

Arthur Brooks: That’s why I wrote From Strength to Strength. You know, it’s like this is a guide for financial advisors to be able to advise their clients on happiness. There’s a lot of that out there because I’ve worked with so many portfolio managers and people that they’re basically shrinks. You know, these are therapists is what it comes down to because people will tell their financial analysts, their financial advisors things they would never tell their spouse. It’s like, “I got this thing, I got this problem.” You know, financial advisors will tell me that their clients come in and confess to having had an affair because they were so depressed or whatever. It’s like, “Whoa, how do I use this information?” And the answer is don’t use that information. But it’s important that they be able to advise them appropriately. And I’ve wound up advising a lot of people as they’re entering, you know, going toward an event that’s supposed to make you happier, beyond happy beyond your wildest dreams, and instead makes you feel empty and unnecessary, utterly peripheral to the experience of life, which is exactly what you talked about.

You know, entrepreneurs who build a big company, I don’t care if it’s a biotech firm or a chain of Chevy dealerships. The truth is the whole bunch of people relied on you to pay their mortgage and get their cars and put three squares on the table. And it’s incredible that feeling. You’re needed. You feel totally necessary. And there’s no substitute for that feeling. And you get to exit where somebody else have a 50 or 100 or $1 billion event and you’re wealthy beyond your wildest dreams, but there’s no amount of money that will buy out your lack of being needed. No amount of money will do that. And that’s one of the reasons, by the way, that you see some of these neurochemical changes in the brains of successful entrepreneurs and CEOs after they retire. There’s a very high likelihood of a clinical depression that happens when this occurs. And then what happens is that then a lot of people will have this incredible financial event, and they’ll go on to wreck their lives. They will go on to have extramarital affairs. Why? Because they want to feel something and they haven’t felt anything for six months after, you know, they got all their feeling from being an alpha in their business. And they were too tired and they were running ragged. And they’re glad that somebody’s about their business but they’re numb.

And the reason that they’re numb is because they were getting all their dopamine, all these rewards, and anticipation of rewards because of what was going on in their businesses. And when you don’t get it, life is just completely gray and practically unlivable. So, they’ll do things like drink a lot of alcohol, experiment with drugs, get involved romantically with somebody who’s not their spouse because they want something to make them feel alive again is what this comes down to. So, when I’m talking to people that are queuing up for the best thing in their life, which is actually might wind up being the worst thing in their life, I say, “Look out, this thing is going to happen. Like, no. It’s like, trust me, this thing is going to happen so you got to be ready.” So, how are you ready? And this really gets to the crux of what you’re talking about. That’s why I wrote, among other things, From Strength to Strength. It’s a guidebook on what to tell people and the advice to give them. Among other things is to make sure that you’re not pushed out of your professional life, but you’re pulled into another world.

Don’t do your exit events until you actually have a lot of stuff to do. In other words, think of your exit event as the way that you can stop doing the things you don’t have time to do anymore. That means cultivating the right kind of relationships, making sure that you have lots of plans. And that’s not leisure because hard-working entrepreneurs, they hate leisure. That’s all, “I’m going to sit on a beach.” No, you’re not. Beaches are boring. It’s hot and sandy. It’s awful. Trust me. Beaches are boring. Business is interesting is what it comes down to. So, what are you going to do? You’re going to have three or four mentees. You’re going to sit on two or three boards, one nonprofit, two for profit boards, and then you’re going to make a list of all the things that you wanted to do but never had time to do. Like, by the way, I really, really wanted to go to the gym for 90 minutes a day instead of 20 minutes a day. And so, start setting up a routine where you’re not hurrying all the time, which is saying that’s the luxury. Beaches are not a luxury, but not being crazy busy, that’s a luxury.

And so, making sure that you program things out. I’m going to have time to read and think in the morning after I’ve gone to the gym for as long as I like, I’m going to have lunch with somebody that I’m actually going to be helping, one of my mentees, that if it’s an hour and a half lunch or two-hour lunch, that’s perfectly fine. In the afternoon, I’m going to have a couple of conference calls. Occasionally, I would have a trip to sit on one of these boards, and then I’m going to let my calendar fill up along those lines. And what you’re going to find is you’re pretty satisfied and likely as not, you’re going to wind up in a new business venture that you can find pretty satisfactory, but it’s not as consuming as the Chevy dealerships that you just got out of.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. Well, I mean, a lot of that just resonates with what you just shared, which is, as you called it, crystallized intelligence. It’s you can do a lot. You can be on a board without crystallized intelligence. Nobody would want you on a board, at least, I wouldn’t think. So, that makes a lot of sense.

Arthur Brooks: For sure. And the other thing is that the one thing to resist for a lot of people, they’re very successful people who are listening to this, who follows this podcast. The one piece of advice you’re going to get that’s bad advice is to write a book. The world doesn’t need your book. The world doesn’t need your memoir. And that’s going to be incredibly frustrating, really hard to get done. It’ll have 14 readers unless it’s a complete unicorn. So, don’t let anybody like hustle you into doing something like that because that’s almost always a mistake. Serve doing what you do well as opposed to trying to do something that you’ve never done very much of.

Brad Johnson: All right. We’re getting close to the end. You’ve spent a lot of time with the Dalai Lama who is not Catholic, by the way.

Arthur Brooks: So he tells me. I keep getting him to come to mass with me. So far, he’s resisted my charms.

Brad Johnson: But that’s cool because you’ve got a spiritual leader, not of your faith. But I’m sure you’ve learned a lot from him. So, please, like what are some of the most interesting learnings that you’ve had during your time with him?

Arthur Brooks: So, I’ve spent the last, I mean, I’ve seen him regularly for 11 years. We’ve worked together, we’ve written together, we published together. And every year now in my lab at Harvard, I take our donors and some scholars and students with us to Dharamsala, his monastery in the Himalayan foothills. And we meditate with him. I’ve studied Tibetan Buddhist meditation with his monks, and I’ve learned debate techniques and all kinds of very interesting things. But with him, we have usually a conference. This year, in April of 2024, we’ll have a conference on transcendence. What is the nature of the worshiping brain? And there’s a ton of neuroscience, which he’s very interested in that shows that worshipful activity, in a sense of the greater consciousness, whether it’s God or something else, that’s what wired into us that we, I mean, this is our state of nature is to actually be believers in something. Secularism is a very recent phenomenon. And it appears, according to the research that I really trust, not to be a natural state for humans. So, what we’re going to talk about this time is really why.

But he always gives me, inevitably, great ideas on how to live my life. You know, he’ll say, “I want you to be a better Christian.” He’ll say to me, which is a really beautiful thing because his goal is my well-being, and he knows that we don’t share a religion. He’s a very universalistic guy. He’ll also give me tips. You know, one time I was looking at this, the problem of human satisfaction is that we always want more and more and more and more and more and more. And he said, “Look at it this way. Mother Nature wants you to accumulate more, but you actually need to want less, not to have more. You need to want what you have, not to have what you want. And I want you to think about that.” And that led to an entire body of research that has quantitative elements but those little nuggets that come along the way that have been incredibly helpful to me. Watching him the way that he lives his life has helped me to make my life that much better.

Brad Johnson: That kind of takes us back to the very beginning of this conversation about the more and more and more. I’ve asked. I have three children, and I’ve asked many friends that are further down that path than me, that have done really well for themselves, how to not raise spoiled and entitled children. Because my children are growing up in a very different situation than I did.

Arthur Brooks: Were you not raised with nice things, Brad?

Brad Johnson: I grew up on a farm in Kansas. Not a very small farm that barely survived the 80s. And so, yes, I guess.

Arthur Brooks: My guess is that you had everything but money, right?

Brad Johnson: Yeah. You know, but what’s cool about that experience, Arthur, is I never felt poor. I never felt like we didn’t have enough because my parents basically gave everything to us.

Arthur Brooks: And they loved you, and they gave you values. And this is the important thing for a lot of people listening to us to keep in mind. Imagine, let’s do a little thought experiment about this because I know where you’re going with the question, you know, how do we raise well-adjusted, happy children not because of the nice things we’re able to give them financially, but in spite of them. The thought experiment is basically this. If you had a choice for your child to be born with $500,000 in a trust fund, or to be raised with love and good values, what would you choose? And I know 100% of the people watching us, listening to us, what they say? Give me door number two, Monty. That’s it. Give me door number two. I’ll take the good values and the love 100 times out of 100. Why? Because they have a huge likelihood of also getting the half million. But even if they don’t, they’ll be better adjusted, more loving people with more successful lives is the way that will turn out. So, okay. So, therefore, your number one goal is not figuring out how to lavish them with things or not lavish them with things. It’s to see you living in a happy way with a happy marriage, treating your spouse with love and with respect.

That’s the most important thing that you can see actually at home, that if you’re religious to have them see you on your knees, that there’s something that’s actually more powerful than dad. Critically important for them to see you treating other people with love and respect, even when those people don’t deserve love and respect, and to have them understand that no matter what happens, you love them completely, unconditionally, even though you’re kind of a jerk sometimes because you have to be compassionate instead of empathetic. The worst parents are really empathetic. The best ones are compassionate, meaning you have to do hard things they don’t like, but it’s always for their good. And they see that they’re going to grow up with that. And whether they’re rich or they’re poor, they’re going to be just fine. You know, Brad, your kids are going to be just as well as you were. And no worse and no better, not because of the money and not because of the lack of money but because of the love and values.

Brad Johnson: Well, that’s reassuring. I appreciate that. Well, last question, Arthur. I know we’re right at time. You experience Triad and the mission we’re on to help our members do business, do life. We believe that’s an integration, not a balance. Not, you know, give up one for the other. I know that’s very core to your beliefs as well, but I would love to hear Arthur Brooks’s definition of what does Do Business Do Life mean to you.

Arthur Brooks: Yeah. It means basically having the right formula. Business is part of life. Life is not part of business. Business is part of life. And life has a formula including business for success. It is not to use people and to love things and to worship yourself. That is the wrong formula. The right formula, however, takes the verbs and the nouns and changes it around in how I try to live my life and how I recommend everybody else live their life is to use things only, to love people only, and to worship the divine. And doing those three things are the secret to success in any part of life, one aspect of which is business.

Brad Johnson: I love that. Well, I appreciate the time, Arthur. I knew it would be amazing and it was. And so, thanks for over-delivering for the audience here. And, as we said before we hit record, you make it back through Kansas any time, you’re always welcome at Triad.

Arthur Brooks: I love Kansas. Olathe, Kansas, outside Kansas City is a, you know, my great, great, great grandfather was the sheriff during the Civil War of Olathe, Kansas.

Brad Johnson: Wow.

Arthur Brooks: Fun fact, the Quantrill’s Raiders who came over from Missouri actually came in drunk, strung up my great, great, great grandfather, John Jaynes. Had they been sober, they would have tied his hands. He would have died, not passed on his genes. And I would not be here today. But they were drunk enough, they didn’t tie his hands. He untied himself, let himself down, left, year after that, got married, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Brad Johnson: Well, I’m glad they didn’t tie his hands for all of our benefit.

Arthur Brooks: Thank God for Kansas.

Brad Johnson: Yes. All right, my man. Until next time.

Arthur Brooks: Thanks a lot.

Brad Johnson: We’ll see you.

Arthur Brooks: See ya.

Disclosure

These conversations are intended to provide financial advisors with ideas, strategies, concepts and tools that could be incorporated into the advisory practice, advisors are responsible for ensuring implementation of anything discussed is in accordance with any and all regulatory and compliance responsibilities and obligations.

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