Brad Johnson: Welcome to this episode of Do Business Do Life. We have special guests, no stranger to podcasts, specifically podcast with me. Glad to have you back, Michael. Welcome to the show.
Michael Hyatt: Thanks, Brad. Great to be on with you.
Brad Johnson: Well, I’ve probably shared this story of like in private conversations but I don’t know that I’ve shared it in the public forum. So, I figured we’d just start. One of the things when I was in a mastermind back in 2015, 2016 with you, you call it the inner circle, and this was 12, 13, 14 entrepreneurs from all around the country. I brought you this problem and it was, “Hey, I can’t get all these successful financial advisors to all show up in the same place at the same time. We’re actually doing Zoom conversations just like we are now.” So, it’s kind of a virtual mastermind and you gave me a little nudge and you said, “Hey, well, why don’t you just make it a podcast?” And what it really unlocked in me, there’s a Ryan Holiday book, The Obstacle Is the Way, kind of stoic philosophy and what happened was that obstacle at that time, because I had to figure out a different… You know, back then I wasn’t the first guy to podcasting but that was definitely an earlier phase of podcasting before I think everybody had a podcast.
But with me being in the right circle and you’ve given me a little nudge, that conversation really kicked off the Elite Advisor Blueprint, which was my prior podcast in a prior life, and really unlocked all kinds of opportunities, incredible conversations, grew my network, brought a lot of value over the years to a lot of the financial advisor community out there. And so, I know that’s part a little bit of what you talk about in the new book, Mind Your Mindset, which is kind of examining your thinking and the obstacles sometimes you put in your own way. But I thought that could be a fun place just to kick off the conversation of how you’ve seen that play out in your own life, your own business, and just examining that thinking as you run into these obstacles that we all do in life.
Michael Hyatt: Yeah. Thanks. Well, first of all, I’m so glad that you’re podcasting again because I told you this before, and I literally don’t say this to other podcast hosts. You’re one of the best interviewers I’ve ever met. You ask such great questions, and it’s a privilege to be on your show so thank you. I really think this book is kind of a prequel to everything else I’ve done because it really does begin with your thinking. And so, years ago, I had an executive coach by the name of Eileen and I hired her because the company that I was leading at the time had experienced phenomenal growth. We were a publicly held company. We’d seen our stock price just rise and rise and rise but then suddenly I found myself kind of out of tricks. You know, I’d picked the low-hanging fruit. I didn’t know what to do next and I just thought, “Well, maybe I just need to redouble my effort.” And it gets exhausting. You know, when you think as an entrepreneur that you want to grow but when you think that there’s almost this inverse relationship between success in business and your personal freedom. So, the more you succeed in business, the more it encroaches on your freedom. And I just was like, “I don’t know where to go from here.”
So, I had this executive coach, Eileen, from a company called Gap International and they’re kind of growth specialists. They coach specifically to this. And at my very first meeting, the thing that she outlined for me is that if you’re struggling with the results, most of us as business leaders have an action bias. We think, “Well, I’ve got to redouble my effort,” or, “I’ve got to work smarter,” or, “I’ve just got to apply brute force here and then I can improve my results.” But that’s kind of a game that has a ceiling. You can’t keep doing that forever. And so, if you really want extraordinary results, you’ve got to go further upstream to your thinking. And your thinking is what leads to the strategies and the actions that lead to the results. That’s all part of the way that you think. So, thinking is everything. So, just to tell a quick story and I told this to your group, to the live event that you did recently in Austin, Texas. I started with this story, but it was back in the Great Recession. Eileen was my coach.
And so, in August of 2009, she came in for a full day of coaching with me, which was her pattern. She came in once a month for a full day. 75% of the time I felt like with psychotherapy, tried to get inside of my head, and change my thinking. The other 25% was actual business coaching. So, she sat down in her chair, big smile on her face. She said, “So, how did last month turn out?” Meaning July of 2009. I said, “Not very good.” She said, “What?” She said, “When I was here last month, you were so confident that not only were you going to hit the budget, but you were going to exceed it.” She said, “What do you mean you didn’t do well?” I said, “Well, we missed the top line down by about 10%. We lost money.” And she went, “Wow. Yeah. That’s pretty different from what you told me you were going to do,” and she said, “Why do you think that happened?”
And I said, “Well, I mean, it was intuitively obvious to me. We’re in the middle of a recession. And foot traffic at retail where people buy books, and I was in the book publishing business, that’s down across the board. Consumer confidence, I mean, all you have to do is look online and you can see that consumer confidence has been measured every year and every month for decades and this is one of the lowest consumer confidence scores that we’ve ever had. So, there’s that. There’s the recession. But in addition to that, I’m in the publishing industry, which is in the middle of this huge digital transition. We don’t know where it’s going to go. You know, from physical to Kindle. Customers are confused. We’re confused. We’re not sure. And then marketing. You know, we’re in the midst of social media, but we really haven’t figured out how to use social media to actually market stuff yet but we know that traditional marketing is not working like it used to. People are distracted with social media.” So, I said, “That’s why we missed.”
And she listened to me for a minute. She was taking notes. She finished. Then she said, “Okay. But what was it about your leadership that led to this result?” And I was kind of taken back, a little bit offended. And I said, “What do you mean, what was it about my leadership? It had nothing to do with my leadership. I just got done explaining to you the problem, recession, publishing industry, the state of marketing.” And she said, “Okay. I get that. There’s a recession going on. I understand the issues about your industry and all of that, but what was it about your leadership?” I’m like, “I don’t know where to go with this. I mean, I’ve explained the best I can why we ended up with this result.” And she said, “Okay. Well, let me ask you in a different way because clearly,” I don’t think she actually said these words but clearly, I wasn’t getting it. So, she said, “If you could go back 30 to 45 days, would you have done anything differently knowing what you know now?” And I said, “You bet.” She said, “Well, like what?” I said, “Well, I think I would have met with the sales team in a stand-up meeting every day just to know that we were pacing towards the target so I would have known earlier that there was a problem.”
She said, “Okay, good. What else?” I said, “Well, I think I would have gone on that call with the sales team to Walmart because if I don’t say so myself, I’m a really good salesperson, and I think that I could have got them to buy more product than the sales team did.” And she said, “Okay. What else?” So, I gave her like three to five things. And then she kind of smiled and she said, “So, what you’re telling me is that it was about your leadership.” And I was like, “Ah, guilty as charged.” But here’s the issue and why we wrote this book. I think for a lot of people, they have a controlling narrative, a story that informs how they interpret the facts. And what we don’t realize is that there’s a difference between the facts and the story that we’re telling about the facts and that story can either be empowering or disempowering. And, Brad, my story, the story I told myself where I was the victim and the story where I had done the best I could, but it just didn’t shake out, that was the story I was telling.
But the problem was that made the problem out there and what she was trying to do was to say, “Look, if the problem is out there, you’ve got no control over it. Not a thing in the world you can do. You’re basically toast. You know, all you can do is just passively sit back and watch stuff happen to you or you can realize that you have agency and could actually do something about it.” Now, the bad news is about her story was that it required that I accept responsibility for the results, which I did because I said to her, I said, “You know what? You’re right. This was my leadership.” But the good news was and the thing that got me excited is that once I got kind of past the sting of owning it, I got the power back because I realized, “Oh, I can do something different this month and next month, and for the rest of my life.” And all I have to do is change the story.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. You just brought back some moments from our Austin experience, which it was so awesome to have you out there with our Triad community. And we called the event Launch for a reason, which is take your business and your life to new heights over the coming year. And our buddy, Jocko, kicked the event off and now he’s got a chapter out of his book, Extreme Ownership, “There are no bad teams. There are only bad leaders.” And he shared a story where the difference between good leaders on the SEAL team which he was one and led a SEAL team is the accountability that the leader takes. And what’s really cool out of that story, you were looking at external blame. And by the end of that, with some good coaching, it came back to Jocko talked about the mirror he’s rolling out that says, “I’m problem identified,” your reflection in the mirror. And it sounds like you went through a little bit of that exercise yourself. So, where did that pivotal moment in your leadership? That was a leadership lesson I guess a while ago now. How did that shift, how you started working on that in advance, and then how you started communicating that better with your teams that you were leading?
Michael Hyatt: Well, I think that I stopped blaming, stopped pointing fingers, stopped making excuses, and realized that I could affect the outcome. And none of us has total control of all the external factors. The factors is the factors but like even now where we said and I was talking to our mutual friend, Phillip Stutz, about this, and he was saying, “How do you think about the recession?” I was doing an interview with him and I said, “Look, we always have recessions every several years. You know, I don’t know what it is, but there’s going to be a recession. And in every recession, there’s winners and losers.” And so, I can remember back when the pandemic, which wasn’t a recession, but we thought it might lead to a recession. But when the pandemic happened back in March of 2020, I have about 400 business coaching clients in our Business Accelerator Coaching Program. And they were all kind of panic-stricken and like, what is this going to mean? Is it going to shut down our businesses and all that? And I said, “Let’s go back for a moment to what’s the definition of an entrepreneur.”
And I know elite advisors like the people that you serve think of themselves as business owners and entrepreneurs, too. So, I said to our team or to our coaching clients, I said, “What’s your definition of an entrepreneur? Because my definition is that we solve problems at a profit. That’s the definition. And so, with the pandemic, do the customers, do the people that you’re trying to serve, do they have more problems or less problems right now as a result of the pandemic?” And all of them said, “Of course, oh, they got way more problems.” I said, “So, that kind of means opportunity for us, right? Because if there are problems out there that people are desperately trying to solve, and if our job is to solve problems so that we can get paid for solving those problems, then this is a time of enormous opportunity.” And so, I think that’s one of the ways that I’ve learned to think, thanks to Eileen and some other work that I’ve done, is that, and you kind of quoted it before, like the obstacle is the way. You know, the thing that you dread could be the springboard to the thing that will actually catapult you to the next level. But you’ve got to adjust your story because the story controls which facts are relevant. It controls how you interpret the facts. It controls whether those are disempowering or empowering. So, everything is inside of that inside of our thinking and inside the story.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. Economy in a recession. Good. Time to get more creative. We saw that play out just, I mean, in the financial advisory space, the pandemic hit. I mean, many of the top firms that we serve, the vast majority of their marketing are live experiences, live events. And everybody, I mean, this is going back to presume existing was constantly talking about, “Oh, I want to figure out how to serve people more virtually so that I can broaden the demographic and the people that we serve.” But it wasn’t until the pandemic hit that it got real and people had to get creative and the advisors that did actually thrived during COVID. And that kind of buried their head in the sand and like, “Hey, this is something I can’t control,” their business went the wrong direction. So, I’ve seen that play out the last few years just in finance, just that exact same story.
So, first off, thank you. Back to Mind Your Mindset, you shared a live workshop with our community out there in Austin, and I saw the impact of the thinking that came out of this book and the framework as you kind of deconstruct how to do that. And I know you were kind enough to create some special offers for our audience on the podcast here. So, if you’re listening now, it’ll all be in the intro. We’ll get you where to go. I think there’s a free audiobook that’s included, Michael. So, thank you for sharing that. I know that’s how I consume a lot of books on my commute. So, let’s get into the book and one of the things that I love is you really break it down into four basic assumptions when it comes to the narrative or the story that you tell yourself. So, let’s maybe start to walk through kind of the core methodology that’s covered in the book.
Michael Hyatt: Great. Yeah. So, we framed this up with a four-part framework. And the first part is that we’ve got to identify the story. Now, you don’t need to just like sit on a rock out in the wilderness and deconstruct all your stories. That’s not what we’re talking about. But whenever you begin to experience frustration or anger or sadness or disillusionment or just some impediment to moving forward, there’s probably a story that is going through your thinking that you’ve accepted as the truth. And so, what we have to first do is identify the story and the subtitle of the book is The Science that Shows Success Starts with Your Thinking. So, one of the things that Megan – I wrote this with my oldest daughter, Megan, who’s the CEO of Full Focus, my company. One of the things that we did a deep dive into was the brain science. And the way the brain works is that we are constantly constructing stories. There’s what happens to you, and then there’s the meaning that you assign to what happens to you. There are the facts, and then there’s a story that you’re telling yourself about the facts. I think of it like Lego blocks. You know, you can take the Lego blocks and you could build if you had enough of them, a Millennium Falcon full size out of Lego blocks.
Brad Johnson: That is the big boy Lego set. My middle son had his eye on it for quite a few years.
Michael Hyatt: That’s amazing. Or he could build something else or you could just let your parents step on the Legos as they’re stumbling around when the lights are off at night, which is something I’ve experienced with my grandkids. But the point is those facts are like those Legos. How we assemble those together is not necessarily the truth. It’s just a story. But to be able to identify this story, we’ve got to become conscious of our thinking. And this is the truth for everything related to leadership but it begins with self-leadership, and in this case, it begins with self-awareness. We’ve got to ask ourselves the question, “Okay. I’m not liking the way I’m feeling right now. What is the story that I’m telling myself?” So, back in the 90s, I had a publishing company, a book publishing company that I started with a partner. And the publishing company did great for about five years. We got into a distribution relationship that kind of sank us and we ended up going essentially bankrupt. We didn’t have enough assets to even go bankrupt, but we went out of business and it was humiliating.
There were people from my church that were bringing groceries to our house. I mean, we didn’t have two dimes to rub together. And so, that impacted my story. I thought, “Well, I guess I’m not that good at business.” And then I had a good friend of mine a few years later, we were sitting on an airplane and he was hearing parts of this story and he looked at me, at one point he said, “You know, you’re not very good with money, are you?” Well, it never occurred to me that that was just his opinion. It never occurred to me that that was just him trying to take the facts, the limited number of facts that he had, and thinking out loud, trying to make sense of it. I took it as the truth. And that ended up for the next decade, I set out to prove that story that I wasn’t very good with money. I made some really stupid financial decisions that cost me hundreds of thousands, in one case, over $1 million because why? I’m not very good with money. So, it’d be natural that I wouldn’t be very good with money because after all, I’m not very good with money. So, that story became one of the controlling narratives of how I think about money.
But later on, I started to deconstruct that story and go, “Wait a second, is that really true? Am I not very good with money or do I have a very small set of facts and I’ve created this whole story? Maybe I can learn about money. Maybe I can be better at managing money.” And so, I started to change this story intentionally, and it took me longer than it should. And one of the reasons we wrote Mind Your Mindset was so that people could get to that new story, that more empowering story faster. We felt like if we give them some handles, they could get to those stories more quickly. So, yeah, that’s kind of how stories work in our brain and they oftentimes have a really negative effect if we don’t deconstruct them.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. It’s really interesting. That makes me think as, number one, as a parent, the stories you can create for your children and how that can ripple through their lives. So, that’s the first place where I went is like, how big? And as a leader in business, these little one-off comments can have a massive impact on the stories people create for themselves. I’ll tell you that one of the simplest ways I think you can see this play out in the real world. How many people tell themselves I’m not a morning person? And it’s a lot, by the way. And I read a book. I know you’ve crossed paths probably with Hal Elrod, Miracle Morning, and I remember I wasn’t like not a morning person but I wasn’t a morning person but I tended to get up early to get the workout in and all that. And I remember one of the things that I learned from that book is he’s like, “What’s a morning person?” All that’s required is 8 hours of sleep for most humans to wake up refreshed. So, if you’re not a morning person, slide your bedtime up a little earlier and you can be a morning person at 2 a.m., 3 a.m., 4 a.m., whatever you decide to.
And that was just a simple framework that deconstructed me thinking about my thinking. And I know a lot of people out there, “I’m not a morning person.” Well, you’re probably a get-to-bed-late person then is what that tells me. So, it’s crazy like these stories you tell yourself, if you really start to deconstruct them and analyze them how a lot of these stories just fall apart.
Michael Hyatt: It’s so true.
Brad Johnson: Yeah.
Michael Hyatt: In fact, that very one reminds me of another conversation. I can’t remember if I told it in Austin or not, but another conversation I had with Eileen a few years later after that initial conversation and I was talking. I don’t remember how we even got onto it, but I was talking to her about the fact that I’m an introvert. And so, she said as she often said, “Well, what does that mean to you?” So, now she’s asking the story question, “What does that mean to you?” I said, “Well, what it means is that I’m not very good with people. I don’t really enjoy people. I don’t like being around with people. People wear me out and I have to build in time to recover from people. But I basically don’t like being with people. Left to myself, I’d be in a cave somewhere head down working on my laptop.” And so, she thought about that for a minute and she said, “Look, I’m not opposed to these personality assessments, but if they limit your freedom, they need to be examined.” She said, “If you were an extrovert, what would that look like? How would you think differently?”
And I said, “Oh, well, I would really enjoy being with people. I would like people. I would enjoy meeting new people. I would be energized in a room full of people.” And she said, “Do you think that you could think that way as an experiment? Because my guess is, since you’re the CEO of a public company, you might need to not be in the cave all the time, and you may need to be able to meet people and enjoy people.” And I said, “Meg, you’re exactly right,” and it opened up all this possibility because I didn’t really like being an introvert. I really didn’t like that story. And I thought there are times when extroversion could serve me. And so, I began to play with that and began to practice that. And like, even in Austin, you know, the pre-conversation with Eileen, if I was speaking at an event like that, like I would go in at the last minute, I would deliver my speech and I would get the heck out of there because I didn’t want to have to meet anybody. I didn’t want to have to interact with anybody and I would go back to my room and I would take a nap. But like, one of the things I say to myself, like when I was in Austin, no, I’m going to stay in the room. I’m going to engage. I’m going to meet some new people that I don’t know and I’m going to figure out their stories. And that served me very well but it was an adjustment in the story and an adjustment in my thinking that allowed me to do that.
Brad Johnson: I love that. Okay. So, you and your daughters have a, I think, your whole family, and it’s like calling each other out on the story you’re telling yourself. What’s the phrase you say? I can’t remember what you shared.
Michael Hyatt: Well, my daughter, Marissa, is actually the most consistent at this. She’s my youngest daughter. She works in our company, too. But what she’ll say is when somebody makes a statement that is reflective of only their story and it’s disempowering, she will say, “If you say so.” So, this literally just happened to me 30 minutes ago before we got together for the interview. So, we were having lunch together in the house and I said to Gail, who was also in the room, my wife, I said, “Hey, honey, I’m going to be finishing up these interviews at about 5:00.” So, I’ve got this other daughter and she has a brand new little baby that we see almost every day. And I said, “If they come over today, let’s make sure they’re done by about 5, because I’m going to be exhausted after all these interviews today.” And Marissa said, “If you say so.” And I thought, “Yeah, what if I wasn’t exhausted at the end of the day?” Because by telling myself that story, it virtually guarantees that my emotions and my actions are going to follow. I’m going to be exhausted. But that’s not the only option. I can tell myself a more empowering story. And so, I had to think like an extrovert.
Brad Johnson: I love that. I remember that it was a short, “If you say so.” We’re going to start using that in the Johnson household. Well, very cool. So, we’ve kind of hit step one in minding your mindset, identifying the story. What’s step two?
Michael Hyatt: Step two is to interrogate the story. So, what this means is that we’ve got to sit down and think through the story and ask, “Does this story… You know, what are the elements of it? Is it completely untrue?” Because one of the things that we discovered in our research about neuroscience is that on average, about 20% of our memories, get this, Brad, are false. They’re just totally made up. They never happened. And it’s hard for any of us to admit that you think, “Okay. Well, I can get that Brad probably makes 20% of his stories, but not me. All my stories are real.” No. On average, people make up about 20% of the stories or the memories that they have. But get this, up to 70% are distorted in some way. You know, we misremember some aspect of the story or we amplify some aspect of the story. I can remember one night I was laying in bed with Gail, and as we often do before we go to bed, we were kind of reviewing the day’s events and we tried to discipline ourselves to say, “Okay. What was the best thing that happened to you today?” And so, we share that with each other and she said, “What was the best thing that happened to you today?” And I said, “Honestly. It was a horrible day,” and she said, “Well, tell me about it.”
And so, I told her about the day and she didn’t say anything for a minute and then she finally said, “Well, it sounds to me like you had a really bad 20 minutes, but the rest of the day was pretty awesome.” So, I had taken that 20 minutes and I had amplified that and so my memory of the day was that it was a terrible day but she helped correct the narrative. So, this is where getting to the facts and we have a number of questions in the book that help us get to the facts but, again, we have to remember that the facts, that’s the objective reality. That’s what’s really true. That’s what can be verified. That’s what can be substantiated. That’s what’s subjective. Because oftentimes when I start talking about thinking like this, some people jump to the conclusion. They say, “Oh, so you’re a relativist. You don’t think anything is real.” I said, “No, no, no, no, no. The facts are real. I’m just saying the way that we perceive the facts, nothing in the world happens in our brains without it passing through our perceptions and that’s where the distortion can happen.” So, we have to interrogate and say, “Okay. Is that really a fact or is this a story I’ve created based on that fact?”
So, in my case, that fact was I did have a bad 20 minutes. I think that if anybody had been in that conversation or been in that situation, they would have seen those 20 minutes and they said, “Yeah, that didn’t go very well.” But I made the jump from that to the whole day was a waste. The whole day was terrible. And so, we have to interrogate and try to get back to the facts. I like to think of the facts, Brad, like a police report or a financial statement. It’s stuff that any two people would be looking at it and would have the same perception of the facts. Yeah, that’s a fact. But what we do with it is where the difference is. Like, one mistake that sometimes we make and we can interrogate this is we think something is causation when it’s just correlation. So, for example, I use this in Austin. Did you know that there’s a correlation between shark attacks and ice cream sales?
Brad Johnson: I wouldn’t have had I not been in Austin.
Michael Hyatt: That’s right. I mean, it’s amazing. And apparently, if you eat ice cream in the summer, it makes your body sweeter and makes you more attracted to sharks. I’m kidding. There’s no causation there. One doesn’t cause the other. There’s merely correlation but we oftentimes stumble into the trap of thinking there’s causation. You know, that person, for example, we walked down the hallway and that person frowns at us, or they don’t look us in the eye. And we create an entire story based on that. We think, “Oh my gosh, Brad’s mad at me. He didn’t look at me in the eye,” or, “I just met this person and they won’t look me in the eye. They certainly don’t have self-confidence.” But what if the real story in that latter case was that it’s just they’re from a different culture where you don’t look people in the eye. They practice what’s called cultural deference. Or what if that person was not looking them in the eye because they were sidetracked based on a story completely unrelated to me? Not everything has to be about you, Megan says, and I think it’s a great thing to remember, “Nobody thinks about you more than you think about you.”
Brad Johnson: Fair. That’s fair.
Michael Hyatt: It’s fair.
Brad Johnson: So, our mutual friend, Ian Cron, the first time that I remember somebody sharing this exact quote with me was when we were all together at Blackberry for kind of one of the last inner circle experiences. And it was a Viktor Frankl quote where he talked about there is a space between stimulus and response. And in that space lies your opportunity for growth, freedom. I’m probably butchering a piece of that but that’s the general idea. So, as we go back to the science behind thinking about your thinking, I remember Ian commented oftentimes the gap between stimulus and response. My wife said this thing, “I’m mad is like the crack in a sidewalk that we literally move over it before we even know it’s there.” How much in your research shows how big of an impact creating space to examine the thinking and like how to manufacture that space plays into that whole concept?
Michael Hyatt: Well, it’s huge and it’s really important. And here’s why. Here’s what the brain science would tell us. Our brain is basically designed to protect us. So, it’s constantly scanning for danger, it’s constantly taking all the experiences we’ve had in the past, and it’s trying to predict what’s next. So, it’s almost like if you had a, what do they call it, the president’s security detail? You know, they’re constantly… What do they call that?
Brad Johnson: The Secret Service?
Michael Hyatt: Yeah. Sorry. I don’t know why I couldn’t remember. So, the Secret Service, if they’re out with the president, those guys with sunglasses on, microphones in their sleeve, they’re constantly scanning the crowd, looking for threats. And they’re looking for patterns and that’s how our brain is. And so, our brain is constantly scanning, looking for those kind of threats. So, what it’s developed is the ability to quickly respond to threats and it creates these neural pathways, these habitual ways of thinking, so that, for example, when my story was that I’m not very good with money, any time money would come up, I would kind of shut down. It would trigger my fight or flight kind of reflex and I couldn’t think clearly. It was just an emotional response based on that trigger and based on the neural pathway that was in my brain. So, if we’re going to think different, we have to overcome that pathway that exists physically in our brain, which means we have to think habitually and routinely over a series of time. And I’ll talk more about that in the third step to cut a new neural pathway so that that trigger doesn’t set us down that old familiar path that no longer serves us.
So, that’s the challenge in our thinking, and that’s why we have to interrogate it because are we just thinking this way? Because we’re not thinking we’re on autopilot so that, for example, I grew up in an alcoholic family where my dad was an alcoholic, and there are certain things that he would do. But to this day, if I’m not conscious about my thinking, will trigger a response on my part like I can get angry like that because there’s a trigger. And so, I’ve had to work hard. I had a situation with Gail last week where she said something and I knew that if I didn’t create a pause, I was going to say something that I regretted. This is what you get after 44 years of marriage because I certainly wasn’t always that way. But I just thought for a second, I said, and in fact, I literally had this to say to her after she said this thing that triggered me. I said, “Honey, I want you to know I’m not giving you the silent treatment because I’m mad,” because she instantly apologized after she said. I said, “I’m just trying to deconstruct what’s happening inside of me. And for me, that just takes a while and I kind of have to think through it and I’ll be okay here in a few minutes, but I’ve got to think through it.”
And I had to assess the story. Why am I so triggered by that thing that she said? Because my response was outsized to the stimulus. So, I think that once you become conscious of this, you won’t always be successful but to insert that pause between the stimulus and the response, that’s where your freedom is and that’s where you have an opportunity to choose a different story. Just because my dad would act like that doesn’t mean that my wife is doing the same thing. And so, I don’t have to respond to my wife in the same way that I would respond to my dad back in the day. And so, we’ve got to become more thoughtful about our response.
Brad Johnson: A piece of coaching you gave myself and Sean in a coaching session, I feel really fortunate that we’ve had you to really lean on as Triad grows and evolves that you just demonstrated in that story is showing your work. And this is a segue way off the book but while we’re on the topic, whether it’s business partnerships, whether it’s marriage, I think oftentimes when we’re examining our own, if we actually been examining our own thinking, oftentimes we just assume another party whether it’s a team member, a partner in business, a partner in life knows what we’re thinking. And that was one of the things that she really challenged us to do is show your work. And what I heard in that story is you were simply with Gail showing your work because had you just stayed there silent, “Michael’s mad at me,” and then that escalates the situation. And so, I just think that’s so cool to hear how you demonstrated that at home. And I think it’s powerful there. It’s powerful at work, and it’s really helped us, Shawn and I, in partnership here, really, like communicate better and really understand the other one better. So, I love that that basically played out in real life right there. Any other thoughts around showing your work? I know there are benefits to it.
Michael Hyatt: Yeah. I think once you become conscious of the story, it kind of gets fun because once you’ve identified the story and you’re going like, “Okay, I’m telling myself this story,” and you go, “Holy cow, that is definitely not true. I’ve assembled the facts and I’ve gotten the wrong response.” So, another example, I used to hate public speaking, and Megan tells a big story about her struggle with public speaking. I have a slightly different one, but I used to hate it, and before I would speak, the palms of my hands would sweat, my underarms would sweat so much so that I would sometimes wear two t-shirts under a dress shirt, hoping that I wouldn’t sweat through and give myself away that I was terrified. I would have butterflies in my stomach. Sometimes I would almost want to vomit and my voice would get really crackly. And so, one of the things I realized is that that was adrenaline but I had created an entire story about that like I’m not worthy to step up on the stage or I’m definitely not wired for public speaking, otherwise my body would be cooperating.
What it took was a new story to realize, “No, no, no, no, no. This adrenaline thing, this is here to serve me.” This is actually a great thing because when you have adrenaline, you think better, you think faster. You’re hyper-focused, unlike any other time because, again, the brain, when you have adrenaline go and you’re in the wild 50,000 years ago or whatever, and there’s a danger that’s coming at you, you want to be hyper-vigilant and you want to be focused on that threat because you want to take it out before it takes you out. So, that’s the purpose of adrenaline. So, I changed the story instead of saying, “Oh, this is proof that I shouldn’t be speaking.” I said, “No, no, no. This is how my body prepares itself for peak performance.” And now if I didn’t have that, I would think, “Whoa, why don’t I have the adrenaline? I need the adrenaline because I’m going to think better on stage. I’m going to perform better on stage if I’ve got that adrenaline.” So, now I welcome it. I don’t resent it. I welcome it. But that’s just a shift in a story.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. I remember another one you shared with me. If you don’t get nervous, you’re doing stuff that doesn’t matter. And that’s one I’ve shared with my kids. One of the things we say at the Johnson house is we get uncomfortable, we do scary things. You know, that’s where we learn and grow. And by the way, another way I’ve heard that called is kind of this imposter syndrome of I’m not worthy to be on stage speaking. Honestly, the early days of podcasting, I’m sitting here doing a podcast with the New York Times best seller. I’m like really I was telling myself this narrative like during the conversation, I’m like, “Man, do I deserve to be on this podcast interviewing this person?” And I think we all, if we’re honest with ourselves, have that imposter syndromes just play out in real life and I love that you can create different stories that empower you and really give you that courage to get out there and get uncomfortable versus the self-sabotaging stories that many people tell themselves. And so, hey, as you used to say to me, “Congratulations, you’re normal.”
So, if you’re an advisor out there and you’re nervous to get on stage or nervous to start a podcast, congratulations, you’re normal. Just get out there, do it, and thank us later. Well, cool. Let’s keep rolling unless you’ve got anything else to add to kind of the second phase of interrogating the story.
Michael Hyatt: Now, step one, identify the story. Step two, interrogate the story. And step three, imagine a better story. So, this is what makes us human. This is one of the best parts about being human is that we don’t have to stay stuck in a story that makes us play small. We can create a different story and maybe you’re an advisor listening to this and suddenly you have a contact that has a contact or you have access to maybe bring in a billionaire into your firm. But you’re thinking to yourself, you’re telling yourself a story. That guy probably has an army of financial advisors or he would never take advice from somebody like me, or I’m not worthy to advise somebody at that level. And I remember asking Eileen this story at one point because she was dealing with a lot of Fortune 100 and 500 CEOs, and I said, “How do you have the guts to walk into a CEO office when, I mean, it feels like to me, if I were in your situation, there’s an enormous disparity of power and authority and prestige and status and all that.”
And she said, “First of all,” she says, “I think that what I do matters. And so, I’ve told myself a story that I can make a difference in that CEO’s life and I’m going to take a stand for his or her greatness, and I’m going to speak into that and I may only get one shot at it. I may get an engagement out of it but I’m going to take that opportunity because it’s not an accident that I’m there.” And for you, if you’ve got some big client potential and you’re telling yourself a story that’s kind of making you hesitant in terms of contacting them, you don’t know. They may be in your life because they need exactly what you have to offer. So, what would be a more empowering story? And it’s going to feel awkward when you start telling yourself this better story like it doesn’t quite fit. My dad was in the Marine Corps and when I first started junior high, I discovered his old Marine Corps uniforms he had hanging in the closet. And it was really cool at that time like this goes way back, Brad, before you were born. But we would wear jeans and guys would wear army dress coats or whatever. It was just a cool look.
And so, I thought, I’m going to put on that coat. Well, it didn’t fit because I was still young and it didn’t fit but I eventually grew to that coat. And the same thing is true whenever you take on a new story. It’s probably not going to fit. It’s going to feel a little bit awkward but you have to act as if because you’re cutting a new neural pathway in your brain. And for those of you that are watching by video, I know that most of you are probably listening to this audio, but in my background, there’s a bunch of guitars. And when I first learned to play the guitar, it was awkward. You know, I had to literally think through where my fingers went and just changing chords to go from a G chord to a C chord, it took a major conscious effort to make that happen. Now, don’t even think about it. You know, it’s second nature. That’s how it is when you cut a new neural pathway. And so, we lay out in the book about four different strategies that you can use to try to come up with a completely different but better story. And one of my favorite ones, we don’t have time to go into all of them, but one of my favorite ones is to basically treat it like an experiment.
Sometimes when we’re going to think like when Eileen said to me, “What would it be like to be an extrovert?” Well, she kind of hacked my own brain right in front of me by saying, “Well, why don’t you just experiment with it?” Then it doesn’t feel so permanent. Right? She wasn’t saying, “I want you to become an extrovert for the rest of your life.” She was just saying, “Hey, why don’t you just try this at an experiment, see if it works?” And that’s one of the ways that we can get to a better story is let’s just try on that coat. It may feel a little bit awkward at first, but let’s see if it doesn’t lead to different results. And that’s the thing ultimately that we’re after. We’re not just talking about deconstructing our thinking for the sake of navel-gazing or being preoccupied with ourselves, but for the sake of delivering better results for ourselves, for our families, for our clients, and all the rest. So, there is a better story out there and sometimes just by experimenting, we can get to it.
Brad Johnson: I love that. And the cool thing with an experiment, if it doesn’t work, it’s not permanent, right? Like, if the jacket doesn’t fit, you don’t have to wear it forever.
Michael Hyatt: That’s right.
Brad Johnson: I want to ask you a question on stories. Obviously, we’re both believers in coaching and putting ourselves in the room with others we can learn from. One of the things at Triad that we’ve really took a stand on is not working with everyone and not from an arrogant standpoint. But if we’re going to do the deep work we’re going to do, if we’re going to do true business consulting, we can’t work with the masses. And so, we made the decision to create a really high minimum to get into the community. And one of the things that I’ve seen play out over the last couple of years is what I would call borrowing beliefs or borrowing stories. And what I mean by that is the guy bringing in 20 million of new assets per year, maybe they’ve reached that glass ceiling in their business, that ceiling of complexity. But now, if they’re in the room with another office that’s a little further down the path, 40, 60, 80 million, and that can be a lot of stories. That can be here’s an advisor that was doing all the appointments himself because he thought only he was the best sales guy and now he’s in a room with another advisor that has four other advisors. He’s empowered and now they’re all cranking and the business isn’t all on his or her shoulders.
I’m curious your thoughts, Michael, on the power of getting yourself in the right room, kind of Jim Rohn, the average of the five people you surround yourself with. But the borrowing of stories, because I’m guessing there can be good sides to borrowing stories, there can be bad sides to borrowing stories. What are your thoughts around that?
Michael Hyatt: I think it’s hugely beneficial. We talk about this in chapter nine of Mind Your Mindset. In fact, I just led a group through this morning but it’s the idea that more brains are better than a single brain because other people have different stories that are more empowering stories. And I’ll tell you the difference between you and Elon Musk or you and Mark Cuban or you and Jocko Willink, it’s just the stories. I mean, let’s be honest, those guys, they’re smart. I don’t want to take anything away from them but they’re not that much smarter than the rest of us. They don’t have, you know, they probably have contacts now, but they didn’t have that much better contacts than we had maybe when they were in our stage of our career development. But they think a different way. And so, to get in a room with people like that or that you can borrow their thinking or borrow their beliefs or that could rub off on you, even the language that they use can be really empowering. And what are the things that we talk about in the book is how critically important it is to pay attention to your language because your language expresses your thinking.
And this is why having other people that can hear our language can oftentimes call us out, kind of like my daughter, Marissa, because they can notice what has become so routine that we take it just as unconscious thinking. But the other thing is that our language shapes our thinking. So, there’s this reciprocal relationship between language and thinking, and it’s hugely important to have other people in the room, so to speak, that can listen, can call us out, or can encourage us. You know, I tell the story in the book of this is right after I started my company and I really wanted, you know, my dream had been by this time I’d work through the public speaker thing and I really wanted to be a well-known public speaker and I wanted to speak 70, 80 times a year, wanted to be a bestselling author, all that. So, I remember walking in to a plane, sitting down, and we’re still at the gate and my phone rings and it’s one of my best friends. And he said, “Hey, what’s up?” And I said, “Well, I have to go to San Diego to give a speech.” And he just paused for a moment and he said, “You have to go to San Diego to give a speech?”
And I said, “Yeah,” and he said, “I don’t think so.” He said, “Nobody held a gun to your head. And by the way, you’re going to San Diego like it’s an amazing place, one of the best places on the planet and you’re going to give a speech? I mean, for years you’ve told me that you aspired to be a public speaker, and now you get to speak to thousands of people in San Diego and you have to go?” And I realized right there I was using the language of duty, of obligation, of this was being foisted upon me. It wasn’t something I had chosen. And so, I made a subtle shift, and I’ve done it ever since. I get to go to San Diego to deliver this speech. It’s a privilege. It’s an opportunity. You know, it’s exciting. So, a little shift in our language can make a huge difference but it took somebody else because I couldn’t see that for myself. I would have just blown totally past that and it would have influenced my attitude and the way that I showed up in San Diego. But now when I showed up in San Diego, much different because I saw it as a privilege. I saw it as an opportunity. I was positive. I was excited to be there. Subtle shift but major impact.
Brad Johnson: It’s amazing how much one word can impact a sentence. You brought back a memory. I had a leader at one point, and I remember I was in a meeting and it was kind of like a brainstorming meeting. And there were multiple parties in this meeting. And this is like 5 minutes before it’s over. And the statement was I said something and he said, “That was actually a good idea.” And I remember in that moment actually changed the whole meaning. That was a good idea. That was actually a good idea. I’m like, “Wait, what about the last 55 minutes of ideas we’ve all been firing around here?” And by the way, completely big blind spot, completely oblivious to it, and there was no ill will meant by it but that one word changed everything. And that’s as a leader, that’s one of the things that I think is really important to realize is every single word matters because your team remembers it and sometimes there’s unintended consequences that come along with that extra word that’s inserted in the sentence.
Michael Hyatt: So true. This is why we have to be so careful with labels. Labels are particularly sticky in our brains. So, if we have somebody at work, for example, that maybe we’re having some challenges with in terms of their performance, and then we say to a coworker or their supervisor or whatever we say, “Jill is a train wreck.” Well, now all of a sudden, we’ve pigeonholed Jill as a train wreck and it’s through that word that we’re going to interpret everything that she does. So, when she actually does something good, we don’t notice or we discount it. Why? Because Jill’s a train wreck, and the only thing that we’re going to notice is train-wrecky kind of things. When she screws up, we’re going to write that down. We’re going to try to reinforce the conclusion or the story that we’ve created in our heads about her. And the only way to change that is to confront the story. More evidence won’t help. Because the evidence is always going to be interpreted through the conclusion. That’s called confirmation bias. And we do this all the time.
In fact, it’s one of the big things that’s wrong with our society right now is that we throw these labels around. We label people forgetting that they’re individuals and there’s a thousand different varieties of that particular label. It’s a shorthand but it also disempowers people and ultimately disempowers us. And we miss the potential to help somebody or to get them to grow because it makes it possible to write them off, and we don’t want to do that. So, we’ve got to be very careful about that kind of catastrophic language saying, “Man, it was a horrible day or that was a disaster.” Really? This is a funny story too. We put my parents in assisted living this fall. I hope they’re not going to listen to this podcast but it’s been a challenge. It’s been a challenge because and it’s understandable, loss of control and all that. So, I was over there about a week and a half ago. They’ve been there about a month. And my dad pulls me aside and he says, “Son, this place is a hellhole.”
Now, this is like literally the nicest assisted living in all of middle Tennessee. They have a two-bedroom apartment. They have all their laundry done for them. All their foods are prepared for them. I mean, the food is not, you know, you’ve been to Blackberry. It’s not Blackberry level, but it’s good and it’s healthy and it’s clean, it’s hot. It’s all that kind of stuff. And so, it was all I could do to keep from laughing. I said, “Wow.” I said, “That’s strong language. It’s a hellhole?” And I’m thinking to myself, how do you get like a hellhole would be in Siberia where you’re eating food that’s got maggots in it. I mean, that’s a hellhole, right? But that very language was amplifying his experience. He called me later that afternoon and he said, “Son, this is not a hellhole.” And he said…
Brad Johnson: He examined his own thinking. That’s good.
Michael Hyatt: He did.
Brad Johnson: Did he get an advanced copy of your book? Is that what happened?
Michael Hyatt: But I’ve done the same thing. You know, you just kind of write off something. You use this extreme language, but it’s reflective of the story that he was telling himself. And he totally came back to his sense of his loss of control. And probably for him, a hellhole would be total loss of control. But he and my mom, I just literally got a text from him last night. He was thanking Gail because she’s done most of the work and he just said, “Man, thank you so much. This is an amazing place. We’re actually really starting to enjoy it.” I thought, “Wow. Win.”
Brad Johnson: Very cool. Well, I know we’re close to our time here but I was thinking about this, and this is a whole book about as our mutual friend, Dan Sullivan, says, thinking about your thinking.
Michael Hyatt: Yep.
Brad Johnson: And some incredible endorsements on the back cover here. Tony Robbins, John Maxwell, Dave Ramsey. And as I thought about it, what was really cool in the position you were in at Thomas Nelson, you had a front-row seat to some of the really biggest thinkers of our generation. You published John Maxwell’s books. You published Dave Ramsey’s books. I don’t know if you had a Tony Robbins suite in there or not.
Michael Hyatt: We didn’t.
Brad Johnson: No. But I’m curious, as you look back at your time there and the front-row seat, you had to publishing some of our generation’s best books when it comes to thought leadership and thinking. Are there lessons or thinking or stories that you borrowed from some of these conversations that really impacted your trajectory? I’m curious, like what sticks out from those times?
Michael Hyatt: Yeah. I would say John Maxwell, I developed a friendship with him because we published dozens of his books and I went golfing with him in Ireland for a week and learned some amazing lessons there. One of the lessons I learned there, there were seven of us that went with him to celebrate his 60th birthday. And one night after we’d experienced this amazing golf outing at Old Head Golf Course on the southern tip of Ireland, he had these helicopters pick us up at the hotel near Dublin, and then we flew over the Irish countryside at a pretty low altitude, about a thousand feet where we could really see everything. And then we went to Old Head where every hole boasts an ocean view. And he gave out a trophy at the end of it for the best score and all that. I happened, which is crazy, given how bad a golfer I am, I actually won the tournament. So, I got this big, beautiful crystal vase. And then we came back to the hotel and then we sat around and then John went around the room to each person, including me, and in with tears, telling us how much we had meant to him.
And it was one of the defining moments of my life and one of the things I learned from John in that moment was it’s really important to verbalize your appreciation for other people. And it really connects you to those other people. And to see him do that because you think of John Maxwell as this amazing leader, he’s self-sufficient, totally independent. But John would be the first guy to say that, “No, it’s my friends that have enabled me to become what I am.” And the day I became the CEO of Thomas Nelson, I got a phone call from him. And he said to me he congratulated me all that stuff and he said, “I know you’ve heard the phrase, ‘It’s lonely at the top.’” And I said, “Yeah, yeah.” And he said, “I want to tell you something. That’s a choice.” And I went, “Wow.” Because I had told myself this story because I’d heard it so often from so many other leaders that you’d better get prepared because it’s lonely at the top. And John was there to say, “Well, that’s a story, but you can choose a different story and a more empowering story,” and I never forgot that. And I never experienced loneliness at the top because I chose to not experience loneliness. I made friends, other CEOs in the city, other people that I got with on a regular basis. It wasn’t lonely at all but that was John.
Brad Johnson: That’s a cool story. It’s lonely at the top. If you say so.
Michael Hyatt: If you say so. That’s right.
Brad Johnson: Well, that’s cool. Well, number one, I want to express my gratitude for you because…
Michael Hyatt: Thank you.
Brad Johnson: It’s been quite the journey. Personally, when we first connected 2015-2016 and as I shared in Austin, I went into that experience really looking forward to leveling up my business knowledge. And I looked at it as a business mastermind, but what I came out with is just a brand new perspective on, as you call it, the double win balancing both business and life and showing up how you want to show up at home. I learned so much about just managing my schedule and the chaos and, “Hey, Brad, maybe get an executive assistant. That might help.” And all of that came out of those teachings. I know our family has benefited tremendously from that coaching and your thinking and I will be forever grateful. It’s also why Sean and I flew out and as Triad was just getting kicked off, you and Gail were the first two we sat down with and said, “Hey, we’d love to have you be a part of this journey with us.” And so, just incredibly honored that you’ve become a strategic partner to Triad and all that you brought to our community.
And so, I want to, as we say around here with our community members, we want to do business and do life because business by itself, it’s a pretty lonely place if you don’t have people to celebrate your successes with. And I would love to really end this, Michael, with what is Michael Hyatt’s definition of Do Business Do Life? What does that mean to you?
Michael Hyatt: Yeah. I think it’s as your business becomes more successful that your personal freedom expands. And I saw that in your community and it’s something that is very parallel to what we believe at Full Focus. We call it the double win. You guys call it DBDL, but it’s the same concept. And it’s more than a life balance. It’s life integration. You know, it’s the idea that business is really important and all of us want to scale our businesses. But honestly, it’s only one aspect of life. And if it’s for you listening, if it’s the only aspect of your life, then ultimately you will lose that because something else will derail you. It may be your health. It may be a marriage that blows up. There may be kids that blow up. But there are so many other factors that we need to give attention to if we’re going to experience a rich and full life. But that takes us being deliberate and conscious so that we’re both doing business and we’re doing life. Both of those two things overlap interrelated, and we really can’t have one without the other.
Brad Johnson: Love that. Well, I think that’s a great place to end the conversation. Thank you once again, Michael, for pouring into our community and sharing your wisdom with the financial advisor community that’s listening into this. And, yeah, until next time. So, until the next time our paths cross. Thanks so much.
Michael Hyatt: Thanks, Brad.
Brad Johnson: See you, Michael.
Michael Hyatt: Bye