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How To Adapt To Growth Changes With Gene McNaughton [Episode 126]

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The path to success isn’t always an easy one. How can you be resilient and take care of yourself along the way?

In this poignant episode of CEO Sales Strategies, Doug C. Brown speaks with returning guest Gene McNaughton about the unspoken struggles of striving for excellence and how to navigate these challenges with success in mind. They discuss mental health and being an elite performer, how to stay focused and embrace healthy positivity in your mindset, the power of adopting a top 1% mentality, and much more.

In this episode you will learn:


Episode’s guest – Gene McNaughton

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Regarded as one of the Nation’s most effective Business Growth Experts, Gene McNaughton has spent more than 30 years generating top results for companies of all sizes, including Fortune 500 Companies. Gene’s history of leadership and achievement has made him an accomplished Consultant, Public Speaker, and Sales Trainer. Gene’s 30-year experience includes spending over a decade at Gateway Computers, being the right-hand man of giants like Tony Robbins and Chet Holmes, and as President of his own consulting firm, Growthsmart Consulting. His expertise in sales growth, leadership, management, training, coaching, and development of both sales and support personnel has led him to success in implementing strategies for organizations ranging from $2 million/year to $2.5 billion/year.

Visit his website: www.growthsmart.com


How To Adapt To Growth Changes With Gene McNaughton [Episode 126]

In this episode, I got a great friend and a guest. His name is Mr. Gene McNaughton. He and I have worked over the years together. Gene is the exemplary 1% earner. He’s got that mentality and the drive. He’s proved it in his bank accounts as well. We thought it would be a great concept to talk about some of the mental health game that happens while you’re learning. Even if you are a 1% earner, you’re constantly trying to grow because you will go through some mental health struggles.

What I’m talking about is growth in itself is going to make you feel uncomfortable at times, until you learn. Every time we grow to a different level, we’re going to feel a little like, “That didn’t work out.” Sometimes as we’re going through, and I guarantee, in most times when you’re going through growing, whether it’s your company, sales, personal health, or relationships, you’re going to go through some dysfunction and it doesn’t feel good while you’re going through it.

Gene and I are going to talk through that. We’re very transparent about how good and bad it can be. Without further ado, let’s go speak to Gene. Get a pen, pencil, or writing instrument and take notes on this one. This is so important when you want to be a 1% earner because your mind’s inner guidance system is very important and a large percentage of the game of your success. Let’s go talk to Gene.

Gene, welcome to the show. Thanks for being back here.

Doug, it’s always a pleasure to connect with you and I’m glad that we connected the subject matter, which is mental health for high performers.

You have been a high performer since I’ve known you. For those of you who are wondering how we know each other, Gene and I go a long way back. We used to work together at a company with Chet Holmes and Tony Robbins. Gene was a number one producer at that company on the consulting and all kinds of sides. I watched you do your magic there and go from that which blows my mind. You’re the President of Geobear Engineering. How did that happen? I’m curious.

You know you’re doing a great job as a consultant when you’re getting quantified results for your customers. That’s the name of the game. They pay you money to bring your tools, resources, connections, ideas, and strategies and apply them to their business. When they do that and get quantified results, meaning net profit to the bottom line, they tend to keep bringing you back.

This happened to be a company I consulted with for more than three years. We wrapped up our relationship which ended up being right before COVID. As COVID hit, we are in our separate ways to figure things out. We couldn’t travel. We had to get things done far more from a virtual standpoint. Quite frankly, the whole world, including us in our profession, was filled with uncertainty.

Towards the end of COVID, late summer, he called and said, “It’s been my dream to open up our facilities in the United States.” This was a European company. “In our business, you know what we do. You know the local landscape there in California. I want you to be the person to open it.” We structured up a deal. The reality is I knew about their business from sales and marketing operations but I didn’t know the new consultant company doesn’t often know how the widget works or how the hotdog’s made. Your job is to create the pathways, mindset, structure, scripts, training, and all of that so that their sellers can create more sales at a higher, faster velocity.

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Top 1% Earner: When you consult with a company, you don’t know how everything works. Your job is to create the pathways, the mindset, the structure, the scripts, and the training so that their sellers can create more sales at a higher, faster velocity.

I took this on. I thought, “This would be a great time to take all of the learnings that I’ve gathered through helping build gateway computers and Tony Robbins companies, ultimately business mastery with Chet and Tony and yourself, and then going on to consult with over 150 companies. I’m going to take everything that I’ve learned, apply it to a business that I know almost nothing about, and see what I’m made of.” Here we are several years later. We can get into the challenges that I’ve had in building this company, which is the topic of this discussion.

I’d love to jump right into that with the mindset and the structure. You and I have been through similar journeys like this. We go from being this very high-performing person to continuing to be a high-performing person but we’re in a different role where we’re taking on more or different things than we have in the past. Why don’t you tell us how the mental mixture happened here from point A to B? What are some of the challenges? Even top 1% producers or top 1% earners go through a mind shift. It’s a guidance shift. It goes certainly from where you are to the president running the company. I’ll shut up and let you speak since we’re such good friends.

Thanks for all the accolades for introducing me and my background. I’ve been fortunate to be able to do a lot of pretty cool things but also I have to call out the fact that I know what it’s like to lose a parent to cancer. I lost both parents. I know what it’s like to be out of shape, in shape, out of shape, and trying to manage to stay physically fit to some extent. I lost my best friend to sudden death from alcoholism. He died out of the blue. I know what it’s like to grow up with very little financial resources and have to figure out the paper when I’m eight years old so I can have a little bit of money to spend.

I know what it’s like to have a business partner, somebody that I loved and trusted at all levels, steal money from me and later go on into a divorce and find out that there was a lot more money stolen from me from than I had anticipated and some tax bills weren’t paid. Not only did that money get stolen because I wasn’t looking at the money close enough, but taxes weren’t paid. I was stuck with that. It was a double whammy. Let’s call them traumatic experiences. Each of those can have their level of trauma in terms of checking yourself. “Why didn’t I see that? Why didn’t I know that? Couldn’t I have done more?” We’ve all been there at some point.

It hit me when my best friend died out of the blue, I got the mindset of, “I’ve been building this company from scratch.” In my mind, after consulting with many businesses after many years of being in sales, management, leadership, and consulting, I thought, “I’m going to take this thing over and learn the business. This thing is going to go off the charts. We’re going to have a great song story to tell and another book to write and so forth.” What I quickly found out is that it was way harder than I thought.

Everything that I knew and have applied from a marketing and sales standpoint, nothing was growing as fast, at least as fast as I thought it should. During this process of all these things happening and having a career of let’s say success after success, there were a couple of blips in the radar there but for the most part, things went the way that I always thought they would. I’ve been a hard charger, set goals, go after those goals, and do everything within my power to achieve those. This one was not going there.

I am beginning to question myself to the point where it became not just something I was excited to go build but it went beyond that. It became an unhealthy obsession. What’s unhealthy is when your sleep and your relationships are being impacted. “I couldn’t take this business out of my mind.” Fear started to take over like, “What if this doesn’t work?” In my mind, I was so wrapped up in getting this company to $5 million and $10 million. It’s super-rapid growth.

It wasn’t going nearly as fast as I thought. It began to have me start questioning my beliefs about myself to the point where I could be in a conversation with Jennifer, my fiancée, in a car. She’s telling me something about her day or something important to her. I was so tuned out thinking about the email that needed to go out, the deal I needed to win, the deal we lost, and the unhappy client over here saying, “What are we going to do?”

She could tell me something and I would have to look at her and say, “Can you say that whole thing again?” I couldn’t even be present in a moment with somebody that I care the most about, my fiancée. I started to realize after enough sleepless nights and losing a bunch of weight, not in a healthy way, I lost it because I was so stressed, and I didn’t even want to eat, that I had a problem. I couldn’t quite say what it was. I didn’t know what it was. As men, it’s very hard for us to call other men up and say, “Can we talk? I’m having some emotional problems. “We don’t do that. We don’t usually have that in our DNA.

Going back to what I’ve always known, which is the answer to any problem you have, at any stage, any realm in life, somebody’s written about it. Somebody’s created a book to talk about how they managed through it. I went to my instincts and started reading some books. One of these books had a mental health checklist on it. It had a bunch of, “Do you blank?” I’m like, “Check, yes.” It resulted in, “You have a mental health problem.”

I always thought that mental health issues were reserved for the people that live in a tent on the street or crazy people you see walking around in Downtown LA. Those people had mental health issues. They’re not high performers, champions, or get-things-done people like me. I quickly realized that all of us are susceptible to mental health issues.

All of us are susceptible to mental health issues. Click To Tweet

I had this vision in my head of how this business should be and how fast it should grow. Granted, I had to lay out a business plan for 1 year, 3 years, and 5 years. Being the optimist that I am, I put some pretty big numbers up there. Even though it was brand new, we had no idea how it was going to perform out of the chutes and all the things that I had to learn about licenses because technically, we’re in the engineering and construction world.

I had to learn about licenses or insurance that we needed, “How do I go out and find the right people to build the right machine so we could facilitate this business?” I wasn’t living up to my ideals of what it should be. It was like an internal mental torture that started to cause me to have all these problems that I laid out. I couldn’t be present. I couldn’t sleep. I’m starting to get this fear factor of, “You’re supposed to be ‘the business growth expert’ but you couldn’t do it here. Maybe I’m a fraud?”

I don’t know if anybody else ever thought that but I’m putting everything I got into this company. We’re doing well by normal standards but the goals that I had put out there weren’t being achieved. That was driving me crazy inside. Look at it this way, Doug. I started seeing some data on high achievers. I’m going to say it here because readers, you are a high achiever. Low achievers, people who are just going along, are not reading shows like yours. You have people that are winners that are looking for insights as advantages they can bring to their marketplace.

You start reading the data about entrepreneurs and senior-level business leaders. They have higher addiction, suicide, alcoholism, or divorce rates. The list goes on and on. There’s much data to support it. I get it. I’ve been in those shoes. Ultimately, what you focus on in your brain expands. If you’re focusing on the optimism and the possibility, things are very exciting.

If you’re focusing on, “What if this doesn’t work? What’s this going to mean to my reputation and all the people that are counting on me in the business,” it started to have a significant negative impact. I realized I had to go get some tools, find some resources, read some books, and talk to mentors to understand how to get out of this. Hopefully, you want to know how I did that.

There’s so much to unpack there. I’m glad we’re doing this episode because I read a stat that says 62% of sales professionals have some level of mental health issue. I want to define mental health. It doesn’t mean that you, me, or anybody who’s been through this were down hanging out at the local doc doing obscene things, talking to ourselves, and running around crazy. Some people could get to that level.

What we’re talking about is behaviors that we’re having that are challenging us on a level that is not healthy in some capacity. These could be small. I can relate to your stories because I had a friend of mine. When we were seventeen years old, my friends and I got in trouble with the police, Dwayne, Brian, and myself. We were sitting in Brian’s car out in front of Brian’s house drinking straight rum and having a good time as guys at seventeen years old. The police lights come up behind us.

I remember them taking Brian to his house. Dwayne going to his house. His mother was screaming when she opened the door. But recently, Dwayne died. He had cancer and COVID and was gone. We’re starting to see our horizon. We start to get there. I remember lying in bed one night and thinking like you were. I had started a new thing op. I was thinking, “My bank account is going to drop below seven figures if I keep going here.” I woke up the next morning and said, “What an irrational thought? I dropped from $1.2 million to $950,000 but I still have $950,000 left and the house is paid off.”

The point I’m trying to get across is when people enter into the arena that you and I have entered into and you become that 1% earner, that hard-charging driving person, it doesn’t mean you won’t have challenges because you have the money or that you’ll never run up against life’s challenges. I’m positive because you and I have known these people who own multi-billion dollar corporations. They still have fears too. They still have bad and good days.

For people who are aspiring to get into the top 1%, please understand that this is part of the process that you might go through. I don’t want to dissuade anybody because it’s not like you’re going to be sitting on a bench in a park drinking too many beers or something like that. That’s not what we’re talking about. You’re going to have challenging days and sometimes those lead to deeper challenging days. Other people can help you out of this. How did you cross that bridge from point A to B and get back to the Gene that you were?

I dove into the books and talked to some friends. Tommy Schaff, who has been on this show, recommended that I read this book by an author named Dr. Benjamin Hardy. I highly recommend all of you follow his stuff, on YouTube, get on his email list, and read his books. It’s fantastic stuff. He wrote a book called The Gap and The Gain. He wrote it with a business coach named Dan Sullivan. There’s got so much gold in it.

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The Gap and The Gain: The High Achievers’ Guide to Happiness, Confidence, and Success

The premise is that when we are thinking about our fears of the future, thinking about failures of the past, and complaining about anything, whether it’s saying it out loud or thinking thoughts in our head that would be complaints, that’s being in the gap. The gap is where stress and anxiety live. As I’m reading this book, I’m starting to have all these breakthroughs. One of the things that Dan Sullivan says is, “The true only way that you can measure yourself is by looking backward, not forward.” Another great saying I heard is all of us, readers, and I’ll say this to you Doug too, is “you achieved the goals that you said would make you happy, then what happened?”

As Tony Robbins used to say, “I arrived and I said, ‘Is this all it is?’”

Think about it. Let’s use a round number. Let’s say it’s the first time you made $100,000 in 1 year and you thought, “If I can hit $100,000, I’m going to get a car.” Pretty soon, $150,000 is out there, and then $250,000 and $500,000. The numbers go on and on. When we’re measuring ourselves against the future, the goalposts keep moving.

Sullivan said, “Most people live in a past to present lifestyle.” Meaning they’re looking at their past and saying, “That past has made me who I am.” Other people are looking at a present-future mindset. Here’s what he goes on to say. He said, “Those people that do set a one-year goal like, ‘On the 1st of January, I’m writing in my journal. Here are all the things I’m going to do, money, business, body, relationship, places I want to go, and things I want to buy,’ that’s better than not setting any goals.”

“What if you looked at twenty years out? Gave yourself a little bit of time.” Twenty years seems like forever, doesn’t it? “Where do you want to be in twenty years and how do you reverse engineer that?” He goes on to say that most people that are measuring themselves from the past to the present are measuring themselves based on their failures in the past.

I’m sure I’m not the only one that can honestly say this. I have to think hard to remember my wins, the account I won, the job I got, getting on a certain stage, and writing a book. I’ve got to think hard to remember but if you ask me to remember my failures, I can remember them like they were yesterday. They’re burned in my brain. In one account, I couldn’t get over the hump or that one project we tried, we put all of our work into it and we didn’t get it.

As I got into this stressful state, all I could remember are those getting a divorce. That was something that was traumatic and it stuck with me. What he called out was the fact that, are you looking at your past as something that happened to you? I was. “That person did this. That person stole the money. That person didn’t pay the taxes. If these other people would’ve done something differently than maybe it would’ve gone right.” You’ve got to change your approach to it and say, “How can you frame these past traumatic experiences up as something happening for you? What has changed in the way you operate your life?”

For example, I was having a bunch of money stolen out of my accounts and taxes not getting paid by the person that was managing my money. Back in the day, we were on the road speaking, going into companies, and making a lot of money. Everybody’s made a lot of money but I wasn’t paying attention to my money because I had somebody else doing it. As a result of that, I got burned. That’s probably the best way to put it. I had harbored a lot of anger for a long time. But do you know how many times I look at my money now, Doug?

I’d like to know the answer.

Every single day. I can tell you on a spreadsheet everything I owe, everything I’ve got in investments, IRAs, 401(k)s, and down to the dollar. I’m looking at it every day. Not in an unhealthy obsession way but I have complete knowledge of exactly where I am. I’ve got a roadmap built so that when I’m 75, I know where I want to be. You can look back on traumatic experiences and turn them into post-traumatic growth. “What did you learn?”

You can look back on traumatic experiences and turn them into post-traumatic growth. Click To Tweet

Suddenly, I started looking at these things in my past that were harbored in my brain. “What were the benefits? How did this make me a better person, businessman, dad, and husband?” Things started to change a little bit. Sullivan also goes on to say that you measure yourself by your past. If you look at everything you’ve done in your past, all the good things, all the wins that you’ve had, it starts to reshape your brain to say, “If I’ve done all these things over the last 5, 10, or 20 years, who’s to say I can’t do that and more in the next 20 years?”

I was stuck in this mental mindset of, “What if this doesn’t work?” My life was being lived in fear, which is the opposite of how you know me. I couldn’t figure it out. These are my thoughts. I’m laying in bed and they start zipping in my head nonstop. The next thing you know, I’m laying there for two hours and it’s midnight. I’m not going to get sleep. I get stressed out about that. I got meetings starting at 6:00 in the morning.

It was Brené Brown or Carol Dweck that said, “Are you trying to be right or are you trying to get it right?” It was a big wake-up call for me. I was the business growth expert so I thought I had all the answers and everything that I knew would get us to where we needed to be. I started reaching out to men and women that I’ve worked with in the past and said, “Here’s what we’re doing. Here’s what’s working and not.” I started reaching out to my network.

We all want to help each other. I could call you with any problem and you’d carve out time, hear it out, and say, “Here are some ways you can look at.” Once I realized this, I acknowledged the fact that I have a problem that needs to be solved. I couldn’t quite figure it out. Jennifer, my fiancée, is a nurse. She said, “If you have this anxiety, go see a doctor,” and I did. He prescribed some medication, which I took for about 3 or 4 days. It didn’t work for me. I knew that wasn’t the answer. I tried it. It didn’t work.

I started diving further into that book, The Gap and The Gain. Gain thinking is saying, “You’re living a past-to-present lifestyle. You’re using a future to the present lifestyle. If you have big enough goals and reasons, they will pull you and you have them longer in terms of years out there.” I sat down and wrote out, “When I’m 75, here’s what my ideal looks like. Health, money, relationship, where I lived, and what my lifestyle was.” I don’t see myself as “retired,” but there’s a radical difference between being able to retire and retiring. Could you see yourself doing nothing, Doug?

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Top 1% Earner: There’s a radical difference between being able to retire and retiring.

No. It never going to happen.

You see yourself mentoring or teaching college classes, consulting, public speaking, and all the things we love to do but doing it on your terms, only going to the cool places, not going to a Podunk small town where it takes you 8 hours of flights and 3 hours of driving to get to that little town and deliver a keynote. I started getting more excited about a longer-term future.

I got all of my affairs in order. I started reminding myself that these were what I considered traumatic experiences, where’s the gratitude in those? What did I learn by going through that? We all know that your best learning lessons are when you go through immense struggle and pain. That was probably the biggest way to look at it. What Sullivan talked about was something I learned in working with Tony Robbins. When I was his opening speaker, this was part of his content but I delivered it on the stages. You saw me do this about the power of perception.

Perception is one of the single most important things that we can master. If I look back at those days, my perception of the past was remembering my losses and projecting them into the future. It ended up with me living alone in a box under a bridge. That’s what I had gotten my headset into, which is terrible. Let’s play this out. How do you perceive anything? We’ll determine the meaning that you give.

Perception is one of the single most important things that we can master. Click To Tweet

Was my divorce many years ago a traumatic and terrible experience? It was but I go, “I learned a lot.” I created two beautiful kids that I love. I was exposed to things because of this other person. I met her family who are fantastic, that hopefully I’m friends with for the rest of my life. I can look at all the benefits I got out of that, not just the money loss and the trauma of going through a divorce but I changed my perception of that which changed the meaning. When you change the meaning of something, it will change how you feel about it.

How you feel is then going to determine the actions that you do. The actions you repeat will produce a result. Wayne Dyer says, the great one, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” That’s a shortened version of, “Do a check on how you’re perceiving everything.” If you’re saying, “The world is happening for me, not to me,” it shifts everything.

We all agree that perception creates meaning, meaning creates a feeling, the feeling creates an emotion, emotion creates the action, and the action creates the desired or undesired results. I read this story in the book The Gap and The Gain, which I highly recommend to readers. Go get that book and trust me, it’s a beauty. Dr. Benjamin Hardy writes some great stuff. Most people haven’t heard of him.

Perception creates meaning, meaning creates a feeling, the feeling creates an emotion, emotion creates the action, and the action creates the desired or undesired results. Click To Tweet

He went on to say that there was a study done on 184 nuns. When they started in the nunhood at 18, 19, and 20 years old, one of their instructions was to write in a journal and journal anything. They followed those same nuns 60 years later. They’d be in their 80s. They found their journals. They read their journals and were able to classify a journal as somebody that was optimistic and grateful versus somebody that was pessimistic and focused on everything that was wrong.

Some of the people said, “I’m so glad to be here. It’s beautiful. I love the food. I can’t wait to serve the Lord and people.” Some people were writing, “The bed is uncomfortable and the food is terrible.” They were able to classify that. I don’t have the exact data written down but it goes on to say that 60 years later when all these people were 80, almost all of the optimistic people were still alive while less than 1/3 of the pessimistic people were dead.

What it goes on to say is that the perspective of being an optimist has a physical and biological impact on our body. It’s such powerful stuff because as I’m reading this, I realized it was my perception, the things I was thinking about my past, the negatives, focusing on the traumatic experiences, death, divorce, the IRS, and bills not being paid. If you’ve ever been there, that’s not fun because you got to deal with it. The government’s going to get their money.

I’ve been there. I do understand 100% what you’re talking about. I have a question. When you and I were with Chet Holmes, Tony Robbins, and things like that, I remember Deepak Chopra was one of the people that were hanging around and we helped. I remember Deepak telling this story. He said, “Two people go on magic mountain,” which is in Disney.

It’s a rollercoaster ride in the dark. They sit in the same seat. They go onto the ride. They come off the ride. One is glued to the seat with his fingernails in the seat. The other is cheering, whooping it up, and saying, ‘This was the best thing I’ve ever had.’ It’s the same ride. Interpretation by one person is fear. Cortisol comes flying through their body. They’re paralyzed. The other person is elated and has all these happy chemicals going on in their body.”

Is that equivalent to what you’re talking about in interpretation? We can take, for example, a divorce, which you and I both have been through and they were both traumatic. You and I say very similar things about that. “I’m grateful for the things that I had. I got this out of this. I learned a whole bunch. I learned how to be a better person out of this whole process. I take that into my daily life.”

Other people go through a divorce and go, “That’s it. I will never ever get together with someone again or date. Forget it. It’s over,” those types of things. We can do the same in our business lives on the interpretation as well as we can do in our personal lives on the interpretation. The interpretation that drives action produces great results or not great results. I have a question for you because I’m curious.

Readers, Gene and I have been friends for a long time. With some of the stuff he’s been going through, I was like, I knew some of the things because you told me. My question is this. Why do you think some people know how to fix it but don’t go down that path? They continue to keep going down the negative thought path. They drive down Heartbreak Lane versus going down Happiness Villa Avenue or something like that. Why do you think they continue to do that? I’ve found that the 1% bounce back quickly out of that or more quickly than most people.

My take is that anytime you have a strong enough reason to do something, you’ll always find a way. I’ll give you a good example. As I was going through death and divorce at the same time, both of my parents died and I got divorced within 18 months, that was bad. I found myself having a problem with alcohol. I’d take the edge off. I’m stressed. I’m sure everybody that drinks does that. It started to become a problem.

Anytime you have a strong enough reason to do something, you'll always find a way. Click To Tweet

I realized that I needed to get ahold of this because if I want to live to be 100 years old and I want to live to coach my great-great grandkids’ little league team, I have this aspiration, “Do I want to be that old guy out there coaching?” That’s my thing but I enjoy doing that. I tried to quit maybe 1 day or 2 and then go back. It was turning into an unhealthy habit. I finally got clear from a reasoning standpoint, “If you want to be alive and you’re serious about this, then alcohol cannot be part of the program.” It was becoming a problem.

It wasn’t once every 4 or 5 nights. There’s never a shortage of reasons to drink with neighbors or when you’re out to dinner. I took a hard stance on that. I’ve celebrated five years of sobriety. No alcohol. I’m very proud of that. Probably, it’s one of the things I’m most proud of that I’ve accomplished. That changed everything. It prove to me I could do anything. If you keep going down the path and you get off the path, you got to check why are you even doing this. Oftentimes, we’ll do more for other people than we will for ourselves.

I started dating Jennifer at that time. She’s a nurse and she could start to see, “You’re not one to have a couple of drinks. You go all out.” I’m like, “That’s who I am. I’m a hard charger.” She’s the one that saw it first. It got to a point where she said, “If you can’t get this under control, then I’m out.” I had a strong reason, plus I was a dad. I ran a business. I was in the process of writing my book. The reasons got big enough and then the answers were there. If there’s anything you’re trying to do that it’s not happening or you keep going down a path of good habit and the next thing you know you’re in the bad habit, you’ve got to find a big enough reason.

What I used to love about speaking on the big stages was that the preparation before being in front of a few thousand or 10,000 people was always included. I would fast, eat healthy, work out, and look my physical best. When you’re up there on a big stage, you’re fully exposed. I look back on it and it would cause me to buckle down for 3 to 4 weeks of no soda, just drinking water, high protein, and exercising every single day because I had something in front of me that excited me. I wanted to look good when I was out there. Not just deliver good content but people are judging you when you’re up on stage.

If you’re on the same stage as Tony Robbins, Dean Graziosi, and Grant Cardone, those guys are all rip and in shape. That’s one small example of I had a strong enough reason to stay disciplined in a program so I could achieve a special outcome. When you get big enough reasons, things change. You start thinking differently.

When I got to this idea of planning many years from now, it was even hard to fathom. I’ve talked to people who said, “I don’t even know what I’m doing tomorrow.” I said, “Let’s start with the next month.” I started looking, “At 75 years old, what do I want to look like? What energy do I want to have?” It started to change things that I’m doing.

For example, I’m not drinking Diet Mountain Dew. I’m drinking water with vegetable green powder in it. I also read a book by a guy named BJ Fogg, another guy I highly recommend. He wrote a book called Tiny Habits. I interviewed him on the Success Resources Podcast. He was talking about some of the simple changes that he and his partner did. For example, they like ice cream, soda, candy, and cake like we all do.

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Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything

He said, “Trying to quit is nearly impossible for those indulgences. What we did was make a little change. We agreed that we wouldn’t have those items in the house. If we wanted to go get a soda or an ice cream, then we’d have to drive to the store, get it, drive back, eat it, and then we could enjoy it. Guess what happened? We pretty much stopped doing it because of the pain in the ass at 9:00 pm to say, ‘Doesn’t that ice cream or some brownies sound good?’ Yes, but we have to drive to the store, which means we have to get dressed and get in the car.” I started applying these things that are already written about.

My drink of choice is Diet Mountain Dew. I love it. It’s like a treat for me. Jennifer is the same way. We’d buy a twelve-pack and have it in the fridge. Guess what I’m drinking all day long? Instead of water, I’m having a Mountain Dew or a diet root beer. We said, “We’re not going to keep that in the house.” These are easy things to do. Even with exercise. People can associate exercise with, “I’ve got to go join CrossFit and start doing high intensity.” Maybe that works for you but if that doesn’t work for you, walk around your neighborhood for 30 minutes and get a little bit of sun on your face. You can do a bunch of little things. If they’re all helping you move towards your reason to live longer, produce more income, serve more people, and be a great father, or a husband, if you can make that big enough, you’ll figure things out.

What I love about our conversation is we’re 1% earners or we’ve made it to a certain place. But everybody has their ups and downs. You and I know some very famous people. They’ve had their ups and downs for sure. Sometimes you’re going to become a little dysfunctional. That’s part of life. Sometimes it gets away from us.

Once we have that awareness, we can move from dysfunctional to neutral to functional to fortune, which is the good stuff that we want over and over again. I know I’m putting you on the spot. If you had one thing you could say to somebody that’s in that position going, “This is me. I’m that person who they talked about,” what would you tell them? Not necessarily where they start but what advice would you give them on that piece?

Talking about what’s going on in your head is very helpful. For females or people with more feminine energy, they’re very good about explaining how they feel to their friends and they can get it out. It’s therapeutic. For masculine energy, people like you and I, and others out there, it’s very hard to express your feelings. All I could tell Jennifer is, “There’s something not right in my head.” I couldn’t even describe it.

Realize that the answer to anything you’re going through is written about in books. If you’re going through anything similar to what I was going through, I’ve given you a couple of good books. The Gap and The Gain is fabulous. That helped me understand why I was thinking the way I was thinking. It helped me label it. When I think about doom and gloom like, “If this thing doesn’t work out,” I realize I’m in the gap. I need to get back in the game. I’ve always figured out a way. I can reshape it and get my head out of that.

Once I started looking at twenty years out, realizing I had a little bit of time to create all the stuff I want to create, this weight of the world went off me. When I’m 75, a failure here or there is not going to define me by any stretch but for some crazy reason, I was living in the major failures of my past life, barely remembering all the great things that happened, the great people that I met, and the cool things, like look at me and you. We’re on this interview. We met in 2008, maybe in 2009. It’s been many years since we’ve known each other.

Tiny Habits was another good one. I’m reading a second book by Dr. Benjamin Hardy called 10x Is Easier Than 2x. It talks about creating exponentially large goals and giving yourself time to go toward those goals. I look at a year as a sprint, not as the year is a marathon. The year is a sprint as part of the twenty-year marathon. I can incrementally get to whatever that financial target is that we may have and start managing my money and debt better, and following some of the great investors, the Warren Buffetts and Charlie Mungers of the world. It’s out there.

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10x Is Easier than 2x: How World-Class Entrepreneurs Achieve More by Doing Less

If you’ve never had stress or something that’s caused you anxiety, then maybe this doesn’t relate. If you have, I’ve come out of that and the world looks different. Food tastes better, like, “I’m back.” When you’re thinking fearful thoughts, your creativity dies. When you’re thinking optimistic thoughts, creativity comes back into the fold, the ideas start to flow, and new angles start to show up.

You want to get off what’s called the “hedonic treadmill of more” because that’s where most of us live. Once you hit a certain $100,000 income, you thought that would make you happy and then you went, “$150,000, $250,000, or $500,000 would make me happy.” That didn’t make you happy. The goalposts are always going to move. They’re going to keep moving. You got that car, “Not all it’s cracked up to me.” Big payment.

Big repair bills I remember.

The watch or the bigger house. Finding all that stuff does not make you happy. Progress makes you happy. Loving the people that you love and them loving you back makes you happy. Progressing towards something worthwhile makes you happy. Self-discipline makes you happy. You can do little things along the way that can radically shift how you feel.

That’s why I wanted to get on and deliver this message. It dawned on me that I got some things I can help some people with. This is unstructured. This isn’t content. I’m not selling anything. It’s more like if you’ve been there, know you can come out of it. Start with getting that book or at least getting on YouTube and following Dr. Benjamin Hardy. I don’t know this guy but I am very impressed with his work.

If you haven’t been there yet and you strive to be in the top 1%, you will get there eventually. It’s going to happen. It’s not a question. I don’t know if you’ve ever had this. Anytime people grow, there’s going to be some challenges, one challenge or another so we have to figure out that path. If they’re driving, like I know you used to and I still do to some degree and I was driving that same pace, you’re going to run up against this. It’s going to happen. It’s the nature of nature. The only people who don’t have, I don’t think are breathing any longer.

Gene, I appreciate you being here on the show. I’m very grateful you came here, bared your soul, and told people, “This is the way it is.” I have found that this type of subject matter is the best because a lot of times people think, “I’m the only one that’s probably going through this.” They get into that mode. You said books. I love that because we can look back through time and there are people who have written about this. I’m sure hundreds of years ago, they were talking about the dysfunctional challenge that’s going on in their life, family, or relationship, and how they brought it to be functional and then into the fortune part of it. I’m appreciative and grateful you came on here. Thanks for being here.

One of the original best books written ever is Man’s Search For Meaning. That’s all about that. In short, he says that those prisoners who had a big reason were the ones that were able to take on the punishment. It’s everything they went through to live. It’s by Viktor Frankl. It is another one to go get. It’s all doable.

Don’t let these stories you make up in your head turn into even a fraction of reality. If you say, “At all these wins I’ve had in the past, I can get through this,” then you’ve got to go hunt for the tools. I’ve given you some YouTube videos to watch and great books to read. That’s what did it for me. It helped me reshape everything. I’m freaking excited again and I love it.

Don't let the stories you make up in your head turn into even a fraction of reality. Click To Tweet

I personally know you and I know when you’re excited and when you’re not. I know you’re excited about this.

I’m very excited.

Thanks for being here, Gene.

You got it, Doug. Good luck, everybody.

Let’s unpack some of these things here. Here’s the bottom line. When you are going to grow, you are going to experience some things. Some of these things are elation. You’re like, “This is the best thing that ever happened.” Sometimes it’s not. The reality is to start with the end in mind. How do you want your life to be? Not just now but one year from now is great. Look out beyond the horizon a little longer. How do you want your life to be?

One of my mentors once told me, who was worth quite a bit of money at the time, $350 million net worth, was, “Every single time you try to do something, it’s likely going to take you 2 to 3 times longer than you figure. It’s probably going to cost you at least 2 to 3 times more than you figured. If you keep walking in that direction and keep your nose pointed where you want to go, that’s the key. Knowing where you want to go, you will get there.”

That’s the number one reason why people don’t get there. They quit early. You are going to trudge through the mud. You are going to have rainy, icy snowstorms that are going to be pelting you in and out of the day but you’re going to have a lot of sunny days too. You will experience up times, down times, and in between. That is part of the game of what you signed up for. That is the life of being an entrepreneur and getting into that top 1% earners income.”

Keep that in mind when you’re going through and you’re having those days. As Gene said, the interpretation of the questions you’re asking yourself, that focus that you keep is going to determine the actions that you take because thoughts influence decisions. Decisions influence action. Actions influence outcomes. If you’re going down that path day in and day out, and there are too many days where you’re like, “I’m getting pummeled every time I go in this direction,” stop at that point.

Step back and ask yourself this question, “Am I headed in the direction I want to go? Do I know the direction to take so I’m not going to get pummeled?” If not, that’s time to reach out to people who have been there and done that because you can learn what they’ve done and they get a different perspective.

I remember Steve Jobs in his commencement speech at Stanford. If he was stepping into the place day in and day out and he was going to work, for example, he kept saying to himself, “I don’t want to be here. It’s not right.” He said that too many days in a row, 3 or 4 if I remember correctly. He said, “It is time to make a change. It’s our bodies and our mind saying we are going down the wrong path.” Oprah Winfrey states the same thing. If you’re going through things over and over and it’s not working out right, it doesn’t mean you have to abandon it. It means you must change directions or direction, one or the other.

Remember that perception is going to determine what you feel and those feelings are going to turn into emotions that are going to turn into actions. What we want to do is condition our inner guidance system because if you listen to your inner guidance system, it will tell you, “I know I’m going on the right path. How do I know it? Everything I’m feeling, thinking, and knowing is the right path.” If you go too far down the right path, you’ve given up some things and you don’t want to give up those things, maybe the path you’re going down might be the right path for you but maybe you’re not using the right model.

Your goals are a little above where they might want to be. You’re saying, “I’m a 1% earner. Why wouldn’t they be in the top 1%?” Life is a journey. It takes you 2 or 3 times longer. It may cost you more time, energy, and money than you figure. Sometimes, it’s 2 to 3 times more but if you love your relationship and that sacrifice you’re trying to make is that relationship and you don’t want to sacrifice that, there are other ways.

If you get into dysfunctional places and behavior, I know a lot of very successful people who have done things like Gene talked about where they’re starting to drink a little too much. They’ve tried substances that they shouldn’t have tried. They have gotten angry where they shouldn’t have. They got into self-pity parties where they shouldn’t have stayed so long. It happens. You’ll find that.

If you’ve got a bunch of stuff that’s not going right in your life, step back and ask yourself, “What is the cause of the problem?” Not what is the problem because you’re always going to have problems, but from somebody who went through a divorce, who lost everything, and then regained it, it’s not hard to do this but it’s not that easy either. I had to step back and say, “What caused the challenge and the problem in the relationship that led to the destruction of the relationship?”

Part of it was her. Part of it was me. That’s the way it works. You’ll have a part in this. Gene was making that point, “What is your part?” That’s sometimes hard to look at because we don’t want to feel the pain. It’s not about the pain. It’s the interpretation of that moment, which is causing the pain. You can change that interpretation and focus, move things to a new level, and understand that it might take some time. You’re going to create awareness, interrupt the patterns, and start reinstalling new patterns. It might take a little or a lot longer than you figured but if you have your eye focused in the direction where you want to go and you keep walking, you will get there one day.

If you love the content of this episode, I would love for you to please give this a five-star review. I know it takes a few minutes to go do that but that would be your gift to me. Speaking of gifts, I have a new book that has been released. It’s an eBook form. It’s called The Nonstop 1% Earner. If you would like that, send your request to YouMatter@CEOSalesStrategies.com. We’ll send you back the link so that you can download that book for yourself.

If you are an expert or you know somebody who’s an expert and you want that type of content here and you say, “This will fit the show and know how to think, act, and be a 1% earner,” or you’re somebody who’s grown a company and you’ve gone through that pathway to be a 1% earner and you want to share back some of the happy moments, struggles, strategies, and tactics you use to get there, reach out to us.

Every single inquiry will be answered because you do matter to us. That’s why we ask you to send it to YouMatter@CEOSalesStrategies.com. We are going to be opening up a 1% Academy, teaching people how to think, act, and be 1% sales earners or how to be your earner in your life at the 1% level. We’re also got a software product called Vibitno. It’s an automated prospecting and follow-up software to make your life easier, or you maybe have a company and you want your team to learn how to be 1% earners. If so, reach out to me directly at Doug@CEOSalesStrategies.com and let me know.

We have waiting lists that are starting for the 1% Academy and the rollout of Vibitno. Say, “I’d like to be on the waiting list.” We’ll get a link out to you and you can sign up for the waiting list. As always, go out and sell something. Sell a lot of it. Don’t be afraid to approach those people that you go to, “If I approach that person, they might reject me.” Let them reject you. Go forth, gain confidence, build your sales career, sales earnings, and your business but play win-win.

Win-win means they win, you win. That’s the best relationship. If you don’t have a win-win and it’s win-loss, you disengage first. That’s the most ethical thing to do. Sell at a profit, try not to discount because you’ve got to sell more to make up for that discount, and 1% earners are always looking to create leverage. Until next time. To your success. That’s a wrap. Thank you so much.

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