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The Fundamentals For Business Start-Ups To Succeed With Sean Castrina

TBT 135 | Business Start-Up

It has been found out that nine out of ten start-ups fail within a decade. How do you stop yourself from falling into the 90% and rise to that top 10%? In this episode, Penny Zenker sits down with a great entrepreneur who has the answers. The best-selling author of the 8 Unbreakable Rules for Business Start-Up SuccessSean Castrina, is on the show to share with us those rules that have since helped many succeed. Why are a plan and marketing a must? How do you go about hiring? How can you protect your business? What is productivity? Why is a partnership a way to succeed? Sean gives his answers and more, showing you that being an entrepreneur is not that daunting as long as you follow the fundamentals. Whether you are a start-up or not, this conversation will surely be a value to you.

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The Fundamentals For Business Start-Ups To Succeed With Sean Castrina

I’m excited about this episode because we have a value-added gift for you. Sean Castrina is the bestselling author of the 8 Unbreakable Rules for Business Start-Up Success. He’s a great entrepreneur and he’s been featured with all these famous people and everything. What’s important that you want to know is if he’s going to add value to you. The truth is absolutely. Without further ado, I want to introduce Sean to you and get started. Welcome, Sean.

It’s great to be on the show.

I did want to mention your book because I think it has an interesting title, the 8 Unbreakable Rules for Business Start-Up Success. A lot of people reading are not necessarily startups, but they’re entrepreneurs. There are these unwritten rules that people either know or don’t know about. I wanted to talk a little bit about that. Tell me why there are eight and how you came up with them?

I was on vacation with my roommates from college and I had a legal pad taking some notes. I was trying to figure out why my companies had statistically done so much better than most startups, because 9 out of 10 startups fail within a decade. One out of two fails within 2 to 5 years give or take the statistics you read. At the end of the day, too many fail. I went back and started writing one sentence axioms, little principles that I had used over the years, and why my businesses did well. When I got to the end of that, I started putting them in little blocks. What I found is there were patterns. The first pattern I found is that you need to know why you want to be an entrepreneur in the first place because there’s nothing wrong with being an employee if that’s what you’re wired to be. There’s nothing wrong with being a school teacher, a nurse, a doctor, whatever the case may be. Some people are wired better to be an employee.

Do you think that some people started their businesses with the wrong basis? They’re not really entrepreneurs. They were just pushed in.

I think that you better be motivated. Your why has to motivate you. I don’t think people start it necessarily for the wrong reason, but you need to know why you started it so that when the uphill climb starts, you remember, “I did this so I can have a flexible work schedule. I did this so I can go to all my kids’ events. I did this so I could be home at a certain time. I did this so that nobody limits my advancement. I did this so I’d never get laid off. I did this so I control my own income.” My only thing is that I started the book and the first rule is know why you’re doing this and it has to motivate you. When things get difficult, you know why you did it.

Marketing is not optional. If you want to be a successful company, you need a budget for marketing. Click To Tweet

We’ve got to have that higher purpose that’s going to carry us through and make things easier. I think that’s important.

You need to have a plan. I wrote the book, World’s Greatest Business Plan, so I believe in having a plan. You have to have a strategy on what you’re going to do and how you’re going to grow this business. I always tell people if I gave you a $5,000 free vacation. You wouldn’t probably just go in your car and head out West. You’d probably sit down and go, “Do I want a summer vacation or winter vacation? Do I want to ski or do I want to be at the beach?” We spend less time on our business plan than that. It doesn’t make any sense.

I think I saw 60% of entrepreneurs don’t create business plans whatsoever, no marketing.

If you don’t plan, you fail. You need to have some type of plan, what you’re trying to accomplish, what your competition, who your competition is, how you’re going to be different, things of that nature. The other thing is that marketing is not optional. It’s amazing how we think because of social media, we’re going to have a word of mouth business. I find it very funny that Budweiser spends $25 million during the Super Bowl to remind us that they sell beer, though every one of us knows exactly what Budweiser sells. When you watch the Super Bowl commercials, we’re familiar with every one of those companies. We know that GoDaddy sells websites. We know GEICO sells insurance, but they spend the money because they want to constantly own that position in your brain. Marketing is not optional. If you want to be a successful company, you need a budget for marketing.

There are people who are like, “I can’t budget for marketing.” Would you say that it should be a percentage? I know there are a lot of people who don’t know how to go about that. They say they don’t have the cashflow. Can you give them some guidelines?

Out of 10% starting out, it should at least be 50% of a quality employee, whatever you would pay a quality employee.

TBT 135 | Business Start-Up

8 Unbreakable Rules For Business Start-Up Success

That’s a good way to put it. I want people to be able to wrap their heads around it. What amount for a starting business or even an established business is the right amount to give them a basis?

You’re going to spend $10,000 or $20,000. Just thinking the logic of it, if you don’t attract customers, you’re out of business. It’s that critical. When people say, “I can’t spend that.” I’m like, “You have to spend this because if you don’t attract customers, you will be out of business.” Businesses go out of business for one reason 99% of the time. They stopped selling enough of their products to stay in business. That’s because they’re not attracting customers anymore. Marketing is not optional.

One more thing on that point. There are a lot of people who get sucked into long-term marketing campaigns that are harder to produce. How do you look at that?

I don’t like long-term marketing. I don’t care what anybody tells you.

What would you consider long-term marketing?

Anything over 90 days. If you’re a startup, they want to tell you, “You’ve got to build traction.” I know all the little things that they tell you. I’m going to let you on a secret, a marketing tip that I’ve learned. Marketing either works or it doesn’t work. It works faster or it doesn’t work. You’re better off trying something for 30 days, 2 weeks. Don’t sign any long-term contracts. This is like pay as you go. If you find something that works, then put more money into it. I’ve seen too many businesses start their business. They do all these little twelve-month contracts for everybody. They think they’re getting such a good deal, “I bought twelve months.” I should be 30 days at a time, 2 weeks at a time. If I could do it a day at a time, I would because I want to find out what’s going to work for me. Anything that doesn’t work is wasted money.

People should be calculating their return on their investment around their marketing.

Take this from me. Track every single lead you get, every call you get. Find out how they found out about you because then you’ll know where to put your marketing money.

Don't try to be a master of a bunch of things. We only know Tiger Woods' name because he does one thing well. Click To Tweet

How about another one of those rules? We talked about the why the plan and marketing is a must.

Hire a great team. Don’t hire family and friends, unless you come from a better genealogy than I come from. My family reunion, I look around, I love them all but I’m not hiring anybody. I think that our default position is to hire family and friends. The problem is that you’ve got to hire the best people. When you understand the statistics that 9 out of 10 fail, why would you hire average people? That doesn’t make sense to me. A startup is a daunting task. You pay peanuts, you get monkeys. Pay good money and hire decent people. I always say there are no sevens in hiring. Hire eights or better. The next response is, “I can’t afford to hire great people.” I go back to, “Then you shouldn’t start a business,” because if you don’t market and you don’t hire talented people, you’re going to be in that 1 and 2 that fail. You’ve got to hire some talented people. Sales is critical. That’s one of those where they hired their Uncle Billy. Everybody likes Uncle Billy. He’s great at building a rapport, but he can’t sell anything. You’ve got to hire sales professionals.

You have to get somebody that has a proven track record.

Who you hire is critical, and the tendency is to hire family and friends. I’m saying that’s not the best place to start.

It’s hugely expensive to make that kind of mistake because the time, energy and effort to have to let someone go that isn’t working, especially if they’re connected to you, is high, and the cost of replacing them. Unfortunately, people say it’s hard to do that. I always say pick your heart. It’s hard to do that but it’s even harder to go with the alternative, which is wasting time and money.

What I’ve learned twenty years of doing business is that I’ve never overpaid for talent. It’s always been the person who under-performed. It’s always been the sevens that I hired that ended up being sixes and fives. When I train my partners, we’ll go through some interviews. At the end of it, I’ll go, “What do you think?” We’ll step into another room. They’d go, “Pretty good.” I go, “Give me a number from 1 to 10.” “Seven.” I go, “We’re not hiring.” He goes, “Why?” I go, “A seven is a seven, and a seven is probably a six. If you thought he was good, tell me he’s an eight and I’ll hire him.” He goes, “I don’t think he’s an eight or I don’t think she’s an eight.” We’ve got to get out of the average pendulum unless they’re just opening the doors.

TBT 135 | Business Start-Up

Business Start-Up: Businesses go out of business for one reason 99% of the time: they stopped selling enough of their products to stay in business.


Another one of mine is protect yourself and your business. Partnership agreements. I don’t care if you sit down in the kitchen and write some bullet points. You both sign it and get it notarized if you’re going to do a partnership agreement. I love partnerships but you need to know what everybody’s responsibility is. What happens if they failed to fulfill their responsibilities? I’m going to save people a lot of money right here. If somebody failed to fulfill the responsibility, it comes out of their profit to get somebody to do it. For example, if somebody is in charge of sales, and then they’re not good at it or they fail at it, you’ve got to hire somebody to do it. They’ve got to pony up.

Let’s say somebody in the first five years of your startup wants to walk away. They get nothing. That’s the best piece of advice they’re getting here. Nothing stings worse than writing a check for somebody who was with you for the first year, and then life brought other things they wanted to do, and you’ve got to buy them out. No. If they walk away in the first five years, they don’t get a penny. The first two things are if they don’t fulfill their responsibility and list each person’s responsibility, they need to pay to get it covered out of their profit. Number two is if they leave in the first five years, they don’t get a dime.

Number three is, how are you guys going to argue? It’s going to happen. If both of you look at something differently, who breaks the tie? Find a mentor, find somebody or one of you two need to agree that, “John’s going to break the tie or Suzy.” You can split profit 50/50 and still be a 51/49 business, which is typically what I do. Protecting yourself, intellectual property, incorporating, using a payroll service. I’ve seen too many companies getting major tax problems because they want to do their own payroll. I think it’s important. One of my unbreakable rules is to protect yourself and your business.

It’s important to anticipate and be proactive as you’re saying to what could go wrong. It’s not negative. It’s being smart about your risks. I think that’s the difference. I had somebody say to me once because I have similar feelings that you do. I’ve also been burned and therefore I know how to do it differently, “It seems negative.” I was like, “It’s not. It’s just you’re making sure that your expectations are in alignment even when things go wrong. You have to anticipate what could go wrong.”

If everything goes great, this disagreement won’t matter. I have gone into partnerships where I would have bet you my very life, we would have never broken up. When 2008 hits, we have to take 50% pay cuts. He walks in the next day and says, “I’m out of here.” It’s a recession. I’ve got to write them a check to get rid of him because if not, he can sell his stock to Uncle Billy. That’s what it gets scary. You can’t afford to buy it out. He sells his 50% of the company to who? That’s another thing, you’ve got to first write to buy somebody out. Partnership agreements are absolutely critical, intellectual property, owning your name, owning any patents and things like that. These are serious things and they’re in my unbreakable rules.

The show is called Take Back Time. I want to talk a little bit about what I believe. If cashflow is the number one reason why people go out of business, I believe the number two reason is because they don’t spend their time in the places that they need to be spending in order to grow their business, which is why they don’t have any cashflow. It’s a Catch 22. Let me ask you, what’s your definition of productivity and why for the entrepreneur?

Nothing moves a business faster to scale than two people relentlessly running after something. Click To Tweet

Entrepreneurs are not as talented as you think you are. Let’s start with that. You probably do 2, 3 things extremely well within your business. I’m being kind but no more than three. You need to stay in your absolute area of strength where it would be too expensive to pay anybody else on the planet to do what you’re doing. It needs to be at that high level. Anything from $40 and down, that’s just giving a quick dollar figure. You pay somebody to do things of that nature. You want to be in your area that you are productive and gifted that everybody around you wants you only doing that.

When I go in my office, my staff says to me, “Sean, what can we get off your desk?” Why? They want me to do nothing but market. They want me to do nothing but negotiate high-end clients. They want me to do nothing but recruit and hire high-level talent. That’s my superpowers. I fall out of those three things. I’m not helping my companies. Know what you do well. If you’re not sure, what’s fun for you? You know the old thing, time go by fast. Do other people tell you you’re good at it? Don’t try to be a master of a bunch of things. We only know Tiger Woods’ name because he does one thing well. We only know LeBron James’s name for one reason. He does one thing extraordinarily well. Find that one thing that you do well. Maybe you can add to no more than 3, but you’re not doing 10 things.

We’re fooling ourselves. We want to be that person who can do everything, but that’s the worst thing for entrepreneurs to think that you can do everything. Know your strengths. What would you say is your shortcut to success if there was one?

My shortcut to success in business is partnering. That is my superpower. That’s the thing that I do. It’s like breathing to me. I have the ability to identify talent and people before they see it in themselves. I see them. They’re an employee somewhere. However I came into contact with them, my brain immediately starts going, “Talented person.” Ideas are a dime a dozen. I find the person than the idea. It’s never the idea than the person. Typically, I find the person and then my ideas start going where I feel like I can fit that person. I always say one plus one equals done. Me plus one other solid person who can put the time and they have an expertise, and they’re going to run the day-to-day. I can get a business off the ground. I can make the phone ring. I’m good at creating systems and structures, but 1 plus 1 equals done. Partnering, nothing moves a business faster to scale. Two people relentlessly running after something, you create momentum. The collaboration is great. I don’t think there’s any way to move faster than a great partnership.

The other thing I like about partnering is its skin in the game. You’re both being compensated and moving it forward. There’s something in that too that sometimes when you’re working with a great team, if they don’t feel like they’re well-compensated and have in some shape or form skin in the game, then you’re not their partners. The difference is between ownership and a transactional.

An employee at the end of the day, once they leave the parking lot, they’re not required to think about your business again until they show up the next day. A partner, I want him or her to be worrying about it too. If I’m worrying about something 2:00 in the morning, I want them to be worrying too. It’s a totally different level of commitment. They have skin in the game so the upside is huge, but you’re sharing problems with somebody who has a vested interest in the outcome. It’s a much different level of commitment. When you’re in the fire with a partner, it’s a different level. Everybody is fighting, nobody is running for cover. Employee is going to give you 8, 10 hours a day and they can be great. You’re paying them to give you 8 to 10 hours. When they go the other 14 or 16, they’re not obligated to you. They shouldn’t be worrying about your business to be perfectly frank with you.

TBT 135 | Business Start-Up

Business Start-Up: Track every single lead and call you get. Find out how they found out about you because then you’ll know where to put your marketing money.


It also comes down to people’s personality.

We’ll always have the over-achiever. I’ve had people that would sleep on the floor in my business. We’ve all had them. I’m just saying, you can’t build a business around thinking everybody is going to think like that. We get blessed and have people like that. I’ve always had at least 1 or 2 people on my team that was over-achievers. You felt like they would die for you. All I would say is twenty years later, none of them are with me. I would say they served for a season and then life and whatever, they move on. They’re great but they’re not there forever.

I like what you said and I think it’s important because entrepreneurs do feel that when they have this small team, they feel like everybody should give the same effort and the same care about it in the same way that they do. I see often people are disappointed and they think that people aren’t good because they’re not working at their level. Quite frankly, that’s not what they’re there to do. How do you help somebody with that mindset?

I tell my team straight up. I solve problems that you choose not to solve or you cannot solve. I joke and I said, “There’s a reason why I make an extra zero.” I’ve got to think about problems at 2:00 in the morning, on the weekend. There’s a different level of that. I’m open. I love partners. I bring people on five years into the game that were maybe employees of mine that I’m like, “I want them.” I don’t mind sharing. It’s unrealistic to think that an employee is going to be as loyal to you as a business partner. To me, that’s not realistic.

We could talk all day and I would love to. Maybe we’ll have to do a part two. Before we close off, I think you’ve got a free gift for people. Is there anything that we missed that you feel like you want to share with this audience before we get to the next?

Anybody can start a business. It isn’t rocket science if you do the right things. If you move the things in your favor, you hire a good team, you market well, I’m saying to you that you can do it. It’s not that daunting. To me, it’s not that hard anymore because I do the things correctly. The life of an entrepreneur is great. It’s worth it. I have never missed a school function in my life. I’ve never missed any event that mattered to me. I can afford to go to anything. I took a limousine to the Conor McGregor fight four states away because my son wanted to go on a spur of the moment. I could afford to buy tickets to make that happen. The things you’re able to do is well worth it. It’s worth the fight, but go through these rules. I give them away for free. I’ve been talking about this book, but I’m not even selling it to you. If you go to my personal site, SeanCastrina.com, you can get the 8 Unbreakable Rules. The digital version is right there. I’m giving it to you for free. We talk about my book and I’m giving it to you.

It's unrealistic to think that an employee is going to be as loyal to you as a business partner. Click To Tweet

Thank you. It’s a great gift for people because those principles are like the fundamentals. It doesn’t matter whether you just started your business or you’ve been in business for five years, just like in football. You say, “We’re going to go back to the fundamentals.” Because those fundamentals, sometimes we get away from them or we forget about them, or we’re not implementing them as purely.

If your business is struggling, my suspicion is there’s 1 of these 8 that you’re skipping or not putting any attention to.

I want to highlight, no matter whether you’re a startup reading this or anywhere in your business, these are going to be valuable roles that you want to refresh and checkout. Your fresh perspective, Sean, is valuable.

If you like the way I talk, you’ve got a pretty good idea of how I teach. I host The 10 Minute Entrepreneur Podcast. If you like hearing about how to start a business or the type of conversation I was having, that’s how I am on my podcast. It’s real short to the point. It’s like an MBA for people that don’t have the time to get an MBA.

Thank you for all the knowledge that you’re bringing here.

Thank you for having me as a guest.

Thank you all for being here. It’s a huge value. Go check that book out. Take a step back and take some time to take a look at how are you approaching each of these areas in your business, whether it’s a startup or whether you’ve been in business for many years. We’ll see you in the next episode.

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About Sean Castrina

TBT 135 | Business Start-UpSean Castrina is a bestselling author of 8 Unbreakable Rules for Business Startup Success and the fictional tale The Greatest Entrepreneur in the World. His new release is World’s Greatest Business Plan written for those who cannot afford to fail. Sean is an active entrepreneur and CEO having started more than 20 companies in the last 25 years. He has guest lectured on entrepreneurship at some of America’s finest colleges. He hosts The Ten Minute Entrepreneur, a top 10 business podcast on iTunes. He has a large social media following and is verified on FB and IG. He has shared events with Tony Robbins, John Maxwell, Jon Gordon and others.


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In Honor Of Heroes: Race Around The World With Ralph Brown

TBT 134 | Race Around The World

What kind of drive gets a man to organize the first-ever powerboat race around the world? Call it crazy or weird, but for Ralph Brown, it’s simply what he is called upon this world to do. A former US Marine, Ralph was consumed by grief over the eight men who died during Operation Eagle Claw in the 80s – a mission he was supposed to be part of. Vowing never to let these brave men’s names be forgotten, Ralph pushed himself to achieve great powerboating feats in honor of these heroes, eventually achieving four world records, including the longest non-stop ocean voyage in a flats boat and the first to cross the Atlantic on a flats boat. In this conversation with Penny Zenker, he recounts some of his fondest memories during his longest voyage. He also shares his plans to continue honoring the Eagle Claw 8, notably CupRoyale, a powerboat race around the world, and the Eagle Claw Award. Listen in for more.

Listen to the podcast here:

In Honor Of Heroes: Race Around The World With Ralph Brown

On this show, we’re looking for unique individuals with unique experiences that are going to help you think about things a little bit differently. We certainly have a great time for you. We have Ralph Brown with us and he is the creator of the , the first ever first annual power boat race around the world. He’s the world record holder for number one, the smallest powerboat to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Number two, the longest nonstop ocean voyage in a small water boat and a flat boat. Number three, the longest ocean voyage in a flat boat. Number four, the first flat boat to cross the Atlantic Ocean. He is a former Cocoa Beach surf bomb, a former US Marine, a former weekend volunteer to project areas in Chicago and LA, a former high school Math and Science teacher, a former financial planner. This guy has done a lot of stuff. He’s a father of three and a husband of one. Ralph, welcome to the show.

I appreciate you having me.

You earned it. You’ve certainly done a lot of interesting things. What is the drive or the thinking behind wanting to cross the Atlantic Ocean with a small powerboat? What drives one to do such a thing?

Why not?

I don’t know. I don’t have that desire. Tell me the story.

Years ago, I was in the Marine Corps and they told me, “You’re too young to remember this. If you remember this, you do a good job of hiding it.” In 1979, the American Embassy was taken over by a bunch of terrorists in Iran. I was in the Marine Corps at that time. A couple of months later in March of 1980, I got a phone call, “You get your behind back on base. You’re going to Iran.” I got back on base. I went to my girlfriend’s house first and hung out as long as I could. I’m looking at the clock as long as I could. I then made a mad dash for the base because I knew I wasn’t getting back off for a while.

I never went anywhere. I was on standby red alert. In April 24, 1980, a couple of weeks later, a group of Navy, Marines, Air Force and Army went into Iran. They had a refueling issue and a chopper hit the C-130. I can give you a long explanation of what happened, but you don’t need that. All you need to know is that day, eight men gave their lives. Three of them were John Harvey, George Holmes, and Dewey Johnson. Those were the three US Marines. When I learned about it, I felt like they died in my place. I went in a little corner somewhere with my hands and knees. I promised God that I’ll make sure with the best of my ability that those names were not forgotten.

I then totally forgot about it like everybody else. My stepfather passed away and he was former military. We went to Arlington for the funeral and that’s in Washington, DC. I’m walking through Arlington with my wife and kids, and there’s two big golden-covered reefs to the men that died in Operation Eagle Claw. I stopped and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I suddenly remembered the promise I made 30 years ago and I didn’t keep my promise. My kids are going, “Dad, why are you crying?” I said, “I didn’t keep my promise.”

Was that connected to the pilgrimage to cross the Atlantic?

It’s connected to everything that we’re doing. Put that story aside, it helped you understand the rest of it. Prior to me rediscovering that I was a jerk and forgot to do what I said I would do, I had been out with my boys on a boat fishing on the Friday after Thanksgiving. I got one daughter and two boys. My wife and the daughter went Black Friday shopping as they loved to do. I can’t stand Black Friday shopping. Wall to wall of people, I don’t want to be there. My boys and I are out fishing with a friend and we hit a rock and we broke the motor and ruined the fishing day. Larry’s kids were there too. Being the great parents that we were, we allowed our children to paddle and we sit around and talk.

Either do it or shut up. Click To Tweet

I got to stewing about how to make a better boat. At the same time, I was in the financial planning industry working for Blue Cross Blue Shield. They were sending me two hours each way in a car, four hours of driving every day. They would give me a hotel room, but I did that one time and only once. I spent the whole night on the phone with my wife and kids and I don’t want my kids to grow up without me. I’ve been in too many homes that way. I chose to do four hours of driving every day so I can kiss my kids every night. That was something that was super important to me. In that time of driving on the way over, this is back when cell phones didn’t work very good between Tampa and Orlando, and they still don’t work pretty good, there’s nothing out there.

I would spend that whole time dreaming about how to make a better boat. I had no idea this was becoming an utter passion to me. We would have breakfast out on Saturday mornings as a family. We would go to this little breakfast shop and I would take a napkin, turn it over and start diagramming boats. Soon all three of my kids are diagramming boats on that napkins too for fun. How to make a boat run over the top of those rocks and still be seaworthy enough to cross the ocean? I told my friends that I want to do that. They’re like, “You’re nuts.”

The best plans are the ones that people tell you you’re nuts. Steve Jobs’ quote is like, “The crazy ones think that they can change the world, but they’re the ones who are going to make a difference.” I didn’t get it right, but it’s something like that.

It’s basically along that line. There are plenty of boats that are made for big waves and there are plenty of boats made for shallow water. You can’t get them both. I got the opinion I could. I kept thinking and dreaming about it. My mother-in-law took us out to eat. This was right before our anniversary. I got a napkin, and Red Lobster has cloth napkins, but you ask the waitress and they’ll give you a paper napkin. I turned the napkin, started diagramming boats and calculations all night. I had no idea how rude I was. I was consumed with it. A couple of days later, my wife asked her mother if she would like to come over for our house for dinner.

She said, “Are you kidding me?” She paid for the Red Lobster too. “I took you guys out to Red Lobster and Ralph didn’t say two words to me all night long. All he did was draw boats on a napkin.” I had no idea. I was oblivious to how rude I was. To every man out there reading understands what I’m talking about. My wife explained it for about two hours that night how I was driving everybody nuts. “Insurance, financial planning, investments and stuff, that’s my job. Do your job. Forget the stupid dream,” and then she made the crazy part to end it with either do it or shut up.

She should have left to go shut up. She went to bed. I walked the hallway and started thinking about it until about 2:00 in the morning. This is June 2nd and I got on the internet and formed a corporation called Dreamboats. I had no idea how crazy I was, but the next morning I told my wife what I did it. She says, “You’re crazy. You’re not going to do this.” A couple of days later, she came back and said, “You’re supposed to do this. You have to do this thing.”

What changed her mind on that?

I don’t know exactly, but she thinks I should do this.

Probably because she saw how it lit you up. I want to create a teaching moment for people who are reading as well because sometimes we don’t always connect other people’s stories to some of the lessons that are there. I do think that people have to listen to what you cannot do. We all have something that calls us that we can’t not behave a certain way or do a certain something. It is under our skin. We do have to pay attention to that because it’s a calling. It’s something that you’re meant to do, that you’re passionate about, that lights you up. If you either shut up or do it, we have to take action and make that a reality.

For me, it was something to move forward. I hate to tell you how much money we spent. We spent a lot of money building boats and building a part. You could go get any boat and make it work. That’s no big deal. My goal was 3.5 inches of water. I did accomplish that. I got down, got video of my boats running in an inch of water and safe enough to cross the ocean, but it took a long time. It took several years to get it to work and a lot of money. I got ready to take one and go to Bermuda and back. That’s 700 miles one way off the coast of North Carolina.

I had a friend named Patrick who was coming with me. I thought, “I’m going to pull a publicity stunt out of it.” I called a couple of reporters and told them I will do it. One of them is a real big ocean reporter here in Tampa Bay named Bob Hite. He said to me, “That’s a world record.” I said, “That’s not a world record.” He said, “Yes, it is.” We checked it out. It was going to be a world record. What do you know? I spent a couple of months putting together the longest ocean voyage in a flats boat. When you have lots of shallow water, those are called flats. Boats that can run in real shallow water are called flats boats.

TBT 134 | Race Around The World

Race Around The World: Ignore the negatives and just push on.


A lot of people think of it as a flat bottom boat. Mine are not flat bottom at all. They’re designed to run in shallow water. This other guy named Patrick was coming with me and the local Tampa Bay reporter was with me in the boat and we were out doing final testing. This is a day before we’re leaving. I’d already spent a couple of thousand dollars with tickets and sent people for advanced cruise and everything else. Patrick got a phone call every ten seconds and he would pick it up and say, “It’s not as dangerous as you think.” What happened was it’s his mother. This is a grown man.

His mother is calling every fifteen minutes and he has to reassure her?

No. She called every friend he had, every relative, every person you can think of. All the neighbors, the people that aren’t neighbors, people that don’t like him. He must have got 45 phone calls that day of people trying to talk him out of it.

How many entrepreneurs who are reading have had neighbors, family and friends try to talk them out of it? It’s a thing. They don’t understand what’s driving you and they want to talk you out of it. How did he and how does one explain to people? Do you even bother to explain to people why you’re doing it?

For me, I’ve had many negatives. You just push on.

You ignore it and dismiss?

My phone rang at 8:00 that night. I saw the caller ID before I picked it up. It was Patrick. He said he’s not going. He had some excuse and it wasn’t because his mom talked him out of it.

He was influenced by the 45 callers.

I go home and my wife says, “Why do you look gloomy?” I said, “Patrick bailed on me.” I would have gone by myself. She says, “I’ll go with you.” I’m thinking to myself, “I want to stay married.” If something goes wrong on a small boat, there’s nowhere to go. The days are out at sea. She said, “Why don’t you call your brother?” I called my brother Bob. Bob wasn’t home. Jill answered the phone and said, “He can’t go.”

The next day I’m getting ready to go. Bob calls me up and says, “Jill said you called last night and I want to know what you want.” I explained to him I was going to go from North Carolina to Bermuda in a boat and testing the boat, etc. The guy that was going with me bailed. Bob said, “I’ll go.” That simple. The funny part is he then turned around and called his wife, Jill, at work. He’s a dental hygienist. He doesn’t know where he was going. Bob looked at a map, I’m on the way to pick him up. He calls me and says, “Ralph, that’s 700 miles.”

“When I’m dead, it’s not going to be my problem.” - Ralph Brown Click To Tweet

He had no idea what he got himself into.

He was camping with a few friends and I was going to pick him up on the way. His friends were all out there and they’re all laughing. There’s no way it’s possible that you’re going to go to Bermuda in that boat. This is the boat we took to Bermuda. This is the smallest powerboat to sail across the Atlantic Ocean because a couple of weeks later after we went and set a world record for the longest ocean voyage in a flats boat, I called him and asked if he wanted to go with me across the ocean.

He said, “Sure.” It turns out he was on a roof doing some roofing work. He said, “Going by boat for a couple months and roofing, I’m doing the boat.” This is us leaving Iceland. This is the southwest corner of Iceland. It’s inside of what’s called Westman Island. It is a volcano. The harbor is inside of volcanoes, which is amazing. It did erupt once since they built the harbor and they were able to get all the lava to go to one spot and it did not ruin the town. We took this boat all the way from Tampa, Florida to Germany, 8,312 miles.

It is the smallest powerboat that’s ever cross the Atlantic Ocean in the history of the world. This is my favorite picture. There’s this guy that showed up and started taking pictures of us in Iceland. He said he was a casual reporter, but when he took the camera and stuck it to my face and turned it sideways, I said, “This guy is not some casual reporter.” It turns out he was a magazine reporter for some magazine in Germany. Changing the oil was always a lot of fun. We always had to get the boat out and change the oil. Everywhere we go, we could talk somebody into changing our oil for free. We’re good at that.

Why does it say, “I Am Second?”

I Am Second was our sponsor. It means God is first. This is the trip. We started in Tampa. We went around the state of Florida, all the way up to Canada, to Greenland, off the backside of Greenland. Nobody lives there, nothing but icebergs and whales. There’s a town up here called Tasiilaq. It’s 500 miles from down here. There’s a whole story. We started that trip without enough fuel. No one wanted to sell us any fuel. There’s a town down here called Prince Christian Sound. The whole area is called Prince Christian Sound. We thought it was going to be a big town when we got there.

They got five people. They got more dogs than people. They said they had about 200 liters of gasoline, which is about 50 gallons. They were not going to give us any of it. We had a choice to either go back all the way across the country to go to a gas station and get gas or give it a shot. We decided to give it a shot and we made it. We went to Iceland all the way down the Coast of England and down into France, and then to Germany. It was cool.

How many days did that take?

At sea, we were 76 days.

It’s a crazy amount of time. Normal people would be scared and would be concerned with some of the things that they might encounter. How did you deal with the aspect of fear?

Here’s the reality, when I’m dead, it’s not my problem.

TBT 134 | Race Around The World

Race Around The World: Run towards your fears.


It’s everyone else’s problem. You’re not afraid to die. Is that one of the aspects? If it’s your time, it’s your time kind of thing?

That’s my mentality. I jumped out of perfectly good airplanes, climbed all over mountains, hung off cliffs. I’m scared of a lot of stuff. I’m scared of interviews like this one, but your point matters, you run towards your fears. We got caught in a bad storm between Canada and Greenland and we used up almost all of our fuel. We’re talking on the edge of the Arctic Circle and the wind was blowing out of the North and we’re freezing to death. The Coast Guard from Canada said they would come get us. It was 400 miles to come get us. They don’t usually go anywhere near that far. We had met them earlier and they said they’d come get us. We said, “Don’t bother. I’m not getting off the boat.”

We drifted around for a couple of days in the North Atlantic with a sea anchor. It’s a parachute you throw in the water and it keeps the boat because you’re in several thousand feet. You can’t anchor in several thousand feet, unless you’ve got several thousand feet of water, which we didn’t have. An interesting thing about anchors and quartz, we got ran over by an iceberg on this trip. We were anchored in Greenland. We normally had this huge rope and we had used it for the sea anchor, the parachute we threw in the water. Being lazy that we were, you pull it out of the water and you stuff it in the anchor box. We had another rope that was light. We want to anchor in the south and we used that thin rope. Thank God, because it broke. Had it not broke, the iceberg would have sucked us under the iceberg and would have killed us. That’s one of about five times we almost got killed.

Everything happens for a reason. It wasn’t meant to be your time.

That was our laziness. This is us in London Harbor. This is our first iceberg. You can see my brother, Bob, he’s out wakeboarding on that iceberg. We got caught in the remnants of Hurricane Dennis. They sent a search and rescue helicopter out there. I don’t know what they’re there for. They watched us for about fifteen minutes and they left. We’re 40 miles northeast of Scotland. What’s funny is they gave us about three minutes of the footage and the rest of it turned up on a show. Here in the United States, we have a show called Cops and Robbers. They’ve got a couple of shows over in Europe called Ships, Trawlers, and Rescues and The Deadly North Atlantic.

The footage of us being filmed showed up on that, which is interesting. We were already off the coast of England and there was another hurricane out there. They made it a big deal that London area has the vicious waterway in the world. There was only one thing moving in the whole area and that was us. The Coast Guard kept coming on the radio like, “Don’t you understand that nothing else is moving? There’s a reason for that.” They came out and wanted to put a rescue line on us.

You could hear this guy on the radio. He’s wanting to put a rescue line on my boat and tow me. I’m like, “No way. We’re 100 miles from a world record. We had come 7,000 miles. They’re going to tow us and disqualify us?” You could hear the argument going back and forth. They had this gigantic spotlight on this boat and they kept shining this gigantic spotlight on my boat and in my face. I’m trying to drive. I can’t see anything. I’m on the radio yelling, “Turn that stupid spotlight off.” We’re trying to get it out of a storm into a harbor and they’re out there filming us.

We didn’t know they were filming us at that time. We just know they were shining this stupid spotlight. We finally got out of the storm and got in. This guy come running up to us with a big old camera. He’s from the television show In the Discovery Channel. He has a show over there, The Deadly North Atlantic. If he would have said, “I’m filming you for Discovery Channel,” I would have said, “Sure, put the spotlight on,” but they wouldn’t tell me that. They’re shining that gigantic spotlight in my eyes. We started this and this was called the, “I Am Second Wounded Hero Voyage.” It was in honor of the men that gave their lives in Operation Eagle Claw, all eight of them, not just the three Marines but all eight of them.

We’re also putting together the Eagle Claw award that’s going to be attached to the race around the world. I represent the race around the world, but I also represent Team USA. We are creating this powerboat race all the way around the planet. There’s never been a powerboat race all the way around the planet. We like to think of it as a combination of Formula One and the America’s Cup. In the America’s Cup, people don’t realize that the sponsors put their name on the side of the America’s Cups for $100 million. That’s the low end.

On a Formula One car, some of the high-end cars has over $300 million to put your name on the side of that car because it’s the cheapest advertising you can get to advertise to the whole world. I’ll advertise on the internet and everybody will see me. There are 100 million other companies advertising on the internet at the same time. How are you going to get in front of all of them? People don’t realize this, but the British team for the America’s Cup pick up a sponsor, $153 million for INEOS and then they picked up a couple more sponsors added up to a total of $213 million to put your name on the side of one boat.

Race towards the crash. By the time you get there, it will be gone. Click To Tweet

What are you going for?

We are creating this race around the world. Our sponsorship is going to be cheap originally. Somewhere around $3 million or $4 million in year one, about $12 million in year two or if you want to come in with $12 million upfront, we’ll give you two years. We have an offering together. This is the offering document.

I know I’m in real estate. I’ve been involved in selling my company and those contracts are ridiculous.

It’s 213 pages. You get a PPM that they download off the internet and you can buy for $100 and you put your stuff in. It’s about twenty pages.

It’s also not that solid if it’s a twenty-page PPM.

It’s as legal as it is. We partnered with a venture capital firm and they’re putting together an $18 million round for us. We’re putting all of this together. We had 213 pages of this, but we’re looking to create something like Formula One on the water. Formula One is traded on the NASDAQ at $8.6 billion to $8.7 billion valuation. It was over $11 billion before COVID hit. It dropped to about $6 billion. It’s back up close to $9 billion. This is our cool thing. We’re going to create this race around the world. Before the race starts, Team USA has a special event that we’re going to be doing. Not every other team. We’re only allowing one team per country to enter the race and it’s not nonstop. Nonstop racing will be boring and dangerous.

We race twenty harbors around the world. We stop in twenty different harbors as we go around the world. The plan is we’re going to start in San Diego and we’re going to race all the way around the world, back to San Diego. That’s the current plan. We’re talking to Chicago, Bermuda and a couple other places that want to be the headquarters. They’re going to fork over some money because it costs money to create this race.

We’ll see if we end up at one of those places. Most people don’t realize that in Chicago, you can get to the ocean to and from there through the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes. We’re going to race all the way around the world, but the night the week before we start the race every year, Team USA is putting together the Eagle Claw Award. The Eagle Claw Award is for an entrepreneur that’s prior service military or prior service first responder. The sponsor we’re talking to has already agreed to this. We’re going to give them $1 million.

For those people who are reading, this is a huge opportunity. Tell us how to qualify. Is there a website that they can go to check out more information?

It’s still being pieced together. The Eagle Claw Award is in honor of the men that gave their lives in Operation Eagle Claw. We’re looking for an entrepreneur that has to be a for profit. We’re not looking to give a donation to any nonprofit. We understand that nonprofits are important and I don’t want to belittle any of them, but there are hundreds of them.

It’s a for profit business, entrepreneur. Any other requirements?

You’ve got to be doing something that one of the eight men might have wanted to do had they lived.

TBT 134 | Race Around The World

Race Around The World: All of the things you thought were impossible managed to take care of themselves.


Do they have to create that argument as to this would be one of the things that they would want to do? Do you have a list of things that you knew that those people would do?

It’s up to you to pitch us. You are going to give the pile to some active duty military. They can condense it from a pile to 10 or 15 names. We’re going to fly the 10 or 15 names in. We’re planning to start in San Diego. San Diego is a big military retired town. A lot of retired military is there. That would be appropriate to have it in San Diego, but it’ll be a Shark Tank type event. We’re going to bring their families in with them. I knew how much $1 million would have made. In my career, I’ve raised a lot more than $1 million. It wasn’t at one time. It was in little pieces, and how hard it was to get those little pieces.

It was hard to get other people to believe you that you were going to get enough little pieces together to make it work. If someone had come in and helped us with that amount, it would have helped us like you wouldn’t believe. We want to pass it forward to somebody, but it’s got to be an entrepreneur. They’ve got to be operating a business. It’s an honor for the men that gave their lives in Operation Eagle Claw. That’s only because that’s my button because I was told I was going. I had nothing to do with it. I’m not going to give you any, “Pat me on the back.” I sat in my dear area where other men gave their lives.

I do want to do this in their honor and we’re going to look for an entrepreneur that’s living a life or creating a business. It’s got to be for profit. I’ve seen a lot of people that are out there. I’ve got 1 or 2 that I like, but I only get one vote. There’s going to be probably 10 or 15 votes. We’re going to try to bring on some active duty people to help us pick them. The sponsor’s going to get one vote. I’m going to get one vote and everybody else is going to get one vote in there. I’m impressed with one girl that’s got her leg blown off and she climbs mountains. She goes out and gives speeches on tenacity.

Some amazing people and amazing stories. What you’re doing is incredible. What do you think is the biggest thing that you learned from your adventures?

I’m going to take it to an old car racing movie. There’s a racing story that’s says, “Race towards the crash.” If you race towards the crash, by the time you get there, it’s gone. Most of the things that we worry about and I still worry about things like you and everybody else. If we go towards it like it’s not there, by the time we get there, it’s gone. It’s a non-issue. In my life, all of the things that I thought were impossible, manage to take care of themselves. The things that I thought were going to be easy, they weren’t easy. That would be my one lesson if you go towards your fears. I’m as scared as everybody else is. I’m scared of big waves like anybody else is. I’m scared of jumping out of an airplane and I’ve done it. I’m like everybody else. I’m scared of that blonde hair thing that stands about this tall in my house, that’s my wife. One of the things that motivates me is not to make her unhappy.

It’s good that you’ve got your fears correctly organized.

I hope you’ll follow the CupRoyale. There are lots of ways to partner with us and be involved in and sponsor. There’s still some room for some investors and a couple of things along that line if anybody has an interest in those kinds of things. I’ve sucked up enough of your time, Penny. Thank you for taking my time.

Thanks for telling us your story. It’s an incredible story. There are lots of other great bits, pieces and perhaps we’ll have to circle back around and hear in-depth some of those stories as well.

You can watch the series. There’s a series on Amazon Prime. It’s eleven episodes. You can Google I Am Second Wounded Hero Voyage and you’ll find it. Thank you.

Thank you, Ralph. Thank you all for being here and reading to what seems like a crazy story that Ralph decided that he was going to get a world record and build a flats boat and travel around the world. The truth is that whatever you’re going after, whatever your goal is, think bigger. Ralph said, “We think things are impossible, but things take care of themselves when you head in that direction.” The fear that you thought that you had falls away when you see that it wasn’t as big of a challenge maybe as you thought it was. It’s challenging, but if you go through it, you will learn an incredible amount and you will experience life at a whole other level. I encourage you all to think bigger and go after your dreams. Thank you. We’ll see you in the next episode.

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About Ralph Brown

TBT 134 | Race Around The WorldOver 50 years of age, four world records, getting ready to set another world record and creator of the CupRoyale, Race Around the World. Current World Record Holder for: 1. Smallest Powerboat to Cross The Atlantic Ocean, 2. Longest Non-Stop Ocean Voyage in a (shallow water boat) Flats Boat, 3. Longest Ocean Voyage in a Flats Boat, 4. First Flats Boat to Cross the Atlantic Ocean. Former Cocoa Beach, Surf Bum, Former US Marine, Former Weekend Volunteer to Project Areas in Chicago, and LA, Former High School Math and Science Teacher, Former Financial Planner, father of three, husband of one wife. As a US Marine, I was told I was going to Iran to rescue the hostages in April 1980, I did not go, that day Sgt. John Harvey, Cpl George Holmes, SSGT Dewey Johnson, Maj. Richard Bakke, Maj. Harold Lewis, TSG Joel Mayo, Maj. Lyn McIntosch and Capt Charles McMillian gave their lives, while I sat on my behind and did nothing.

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List-Making: Your Key To Productivity With Paula Rizzo

TBT 133 | List Making


There are times when our work requires us to meet impossible deadlines and always being on top of our game. However, sometimes things can get overwhelming that things will fall through the cracks even outside of work. Paula Rizzo was working as a television producer in the local and national news in New York when she experienced this same overwhelm and gap. Discovering list-making as the key to close that gap and helps us get back on track when we get distracted, she started a blog called ListProducer.com, which eventually morphed into her two books about list-making. She joins Penny Zenker to talk about list-making, productivity, and taking back your time on today’s podcast.

Listen to the podcast here:

List-Making: Your Key To Productivity With Paula Rizzo

On this show, we’re dedicated and I search high and low to find the best people who are going to help you to think and act more strategically. I’m excited to have Paula Rizzo with me. You’ve got to check and see what she’s all about because I can’t even read the list of media that she’s been on, TV shows and all the publicity. She is a media strategist and a productivity author to keep it short. She’s the author of Listful Thinking and Listful Living. Paula, welcome to the show.

Thanks. I’m excited to talk about lists, productivity and taking back your time.

Before we get into that, let’s understand why is this important to you.

My background is in TV production and I spent my career as a television producer. I’m an Emmy Award winner, which is very exciting. I’ve worked in local and national news in New York. Being a television producer means that you have to meet your deadlines no matter what. It’s a focused environment and you have to be on your game. List-making was the key to success there. I realized I wasn’t doing the same things at home, and things were falling through the cracks. That gap there was what pushed me to start a blog. I started ListProducer.com a few years ago and that eventually morphed into my two books about list-making.

Leave it to us whenever we have a problem, we need to solve for ourselves, then we start to get good at something like that.

You teach what you most need to learn.

Was there a pivotal moment where you said, “This isn’t working for me?”

Yes. My husband and I were looking for an apartment in New York City, and I was overwhelmed. I would go into apartments and leave. I do not remember anything that I looked at. I have no idea what was going on and be like, “That one had a wine fridge.” I was derailed and I didn’t know what was happening. I decided to look at that task like I would shoot at work if I was going to interview somebody. I would have a list of every question I needed to ask. I would have a list of every shot that I needed to get because even though I was skilled at that job, distractions pop up. Things happen and so I needed that checklist.

When I started to use the checklist for the apartment search, now I’m much more focused. I know what I’m looking for going in and when I come out, I have a tally or a way to compare these things. People started then asking for this list. It was funny in the newsroom they were like, “Can I have that list that you use to get your apartment?” A realtor saw it and he was like, “This is a great idea.” From there I was like, “I think people need a little bit of help.” They’re not thinking in lists this way. They’re not doing this for themselves.

You teach what you most need to learn. Click To Tweet

You said a key thing that’s important that I want to highlight. It’s not that you didn’t have the skills. When some people get to a new job and they get a checklist, they think, “Why are you giving me this checklist? I know what to do.” You said it beautifully. We get distracted. It helps us to get back on track faster when we get distracted. I like that you highlighted that for people to get clear how a list can be of service even if you already know what to do.

Doctors, surgeons and pilots use checklists. They’re highly skilled at those jobs, I would hope, but they need that too because things pop up unexpectedly. You want to make sure it’s the same every single time. If that’s the cheat sheet you need to use to make you more efficient, why not?

I asked this question to everybody on the show. How do you define productivity and why?

I define productivity as a way to get the right things done and not just think of getting things done. I want to make sure that I get the right things done. That will make me less stressed at the end of the day. That’s the key. I spent a long time as a health journalist and I have seen what stress can do to people’s body, mind and soul. It can take a toll on you and a lot of that is because of our lists, because of what we put on there and what we’re trying to do in a day. I want people to take a step back and say, “Maybe I don’t have to be doing half of these things on my list. Maybe it’s something I don’t need to be doing myself ever.” It’s this pressure and stress that you put on yourself, and then you’re not getting to the things that you would like to be doing.

You’re seeing this list as a way to evaluate and review what it is that you have to do so that you can also reduce it down.

It is about being intentional about what you put on that list. Every night before I leave my desk, I did this in Corporate America. I do this now that I work for myself. I make that list of what I’m going to do the next day. I only put things on that list that I have the time and the resources to do. As opposed to, “Let me dump everything I’d like to do in the whole wide world, climb Mount Everest, pick up milk, and do this and do that,” too many things, too much. Your brain can’t handle it. It’s unfair to do that to yourself. Be a little bit pickier about what you’re putting on your list, what earns its keep on that list.

This came to me about a year after my first book, Listful Thinking, was published because my appendix burst. It’s a freak thing that should not have happened but it’s very painful. It was not on the list. I pushed back and I was like, “I think it’s food poisoning. I think it’s okay. It’ll be fine.” I waited for two days, which is like an eternity and I had to have emergency surgery. I was in the hospital for eight days. I was out of work for six weeks. It took me a year to recover. When I came back, I was intentional about what went on that list because I knew my priority was health at that point, nothing else. Everything else came off my to-do list. The world still spun and things still got done. Some of your to-do lists is ego. You think you need to be the one doing it. It’s not the case. That was a smart lesson for me. It was a painful lesson but it was a lesson to say, “I need to focus on this list and make sure that the things that are on it are earning their spot there.”

I interviewed somebody around procrastination. He was like, “In order for me to feel good about my list, I put on, ‘I got out of bed, I drink coffee.’” He’s putting all these little things that he does throughout the day just to get some dopamine going as he’s checking that off the list. How do you feel about something like that?

It does work if you need to trick yourself to get into going and doing. I love to procrastinate. People always think, “You must be so organized.” No, I love to wait until the last second. I know what that does to me. Working on TV, you’re waiting to the last fifteen seconds before something is about to happen on the air. You’re still working up until that last second. It’s an exciting thing to wait that long.

TBT 133 | List Making

Listful Thinking: Using Lists to Be More Productive, Successful and Less Stressed

There’s a difference between that being how things are versus you created it.

It’s not sustainable. It’s exciting but it will give you an ulcer. It’s something that you don’t want to keep to yourself. You do not want to do that to yourself chronically. It is a good way to get things going. I have learned to not procrastinate because I don’t like the way I feel at that moment. It’s exciting at first but after a while, you’re like, “I’m too stressed out. Why did I do that to myself?” There are reasons why we procrastinate. There’s a fear of failure. Maybe there are also things you don’t know how to do like your taxes. You don’t know how to do it, so you put it off. Maybe it’s something that you don’t even want to do and it keeps making you feel guilty every time you see it on your list. You need to look at those things that you’re procrastinating chronically.

What do you say? When they’re on the list, then you move it to tomorrow’s list and the next day’s list and so forth. Is that okay with you?

No. It needs to be re-evaluated. You need to know why is it that you’re not doing it. Is it because maybe you don’t have to do it yourself and you need to give it to somebody else? Is it because you can’t do it? It’s never going to happen. If you put something on there like “write a book,” you’re never going to do that. I’m a fast writer but I’m not that fast.

It’s the end goal versus the task. You want to see the tasks that are moving towards those end goals.

Little small wins. Those little small things that I can do. Maybe it is doing some research or creating an outline. That is something you could do in a day. You could do to move forward to that. There are certain things on that list that you were never going to do and it’s okay. Give yourself permission to check it off the list forever and be done with it. There was a woman who I interviewed, her name is Karen Rizzo. We’re not related, but we both love lists. She wrote a memoir in list form. It’s all of her old lists that she kept and found through the years of her life. It’s a fun read. She always had learned Italian on that list and even on the last page. When I talked to her, I said, “Did you do it? Did you learn Italian?” She said, “I never learned. It was making me guilty. I felt terrible that I finally took it off the list and I’m so much happier.” Sometimes we need to do that. We need permission to say, “It’s okay that you’re not going to learn Italian. No problem. Get over it.”

What about the fact that we need something to dream about? Learning Italian might mean that she could go to Italy and learn Italian there. Maybe there’s more juice behind it. Isn’t that okay to have some things on our list or our radar that we want to aspire to?

Yes, but you have to be completely aligned with it. Even with her, she wasn’t aligned with it. She didn’t care. She thought that she did but she didn’t.

If she did, she would have done it.

Productivity is getting the right things done that will make you less stressed at the end of the day. Click To Tweet

We make time for the things that we truly want to do. People always are like, “I don’t have enough time to do this. I have no time to do that.” How much of a priority is it for you?

It’s a total excuse. If I give you tickets to your favorite band in the backseat, VIP tickets, and your day is slammed, you’re going to figure out a way to get to that concert and cancel everything. That’s a good point. I love this getting people to step back and re-evaluate. I’m all about that as well. What do you think are some of the myths or the challenges that people face around doing quality lists?

We’re our own worst enemy a lot of the time. We set ourselves up for failure all the time. If you take a step back and say, “What is my mindset around the day?” If you’re starting your day in a frantic way, you think you don’t have enough time, you’re never going to get it all done, that is what your day is going to be. You’re going to have that kind of day, but for people to step back and realize that about themselves and say, “I keep saying that I don’t have enough time. I keep saying that I’m too busy.” Are you really too busy? Is this a story that you constantly tell yourself and it puts you in a different mindset?

That’s the energy. I heard somebody say that you set the weather. That’s what it is. This is your weather report and the energy that you’re putting towards everything you do. I always say also, it’s how you show up for the time that you have that’s going to make all the difference between whether you’re productive and you get those things done on your list or whether you get to the end of the day and you’re like, “I didn’t get anything done.”

Perspective and its perception is reality. One of the things in my second book, Listful Living, that I have people do is to do an audit of how do you feel at the end of the day. When are you your most stressed? What is around you? What were you doing and why were you doing it? Then evaluating, do you need to be doing those things? Are those things that you want to continue to do? Now that people have gone through this pandemic, we’ve gone through this crazy time together and everyone is now re-evaluating what’s important. What am I going to continue to put on my list or continue to aspire to be or to do? It’s changing.

We’re more distracted than ever. We already came into the pandemic completely distracted. There was this statistic that I saw that 60% of the people felt completely physically depleted and mentally gone. We’re closer to probably 90% because of riots, politics, pandemic, illness, kids, working from home and all this stuff. There are many distractions. I would think that making this part of your daily practice is that much more important so that you can stay focused.

It takes 23 minutes to reset once you’ve been distracted. That’s a long bit of time. That’s a big chunk when you’re in the middle or you’re doing your thing and you get distracted, “Where was I? What was I doing?” What I tell people to do is to have a distraction placeholder and I put this on my to-do list. If you go to PaulaRizzo.com/lists, you’ll get my List-Making Starter Kit. It has how I make my lists every single day and it’s very specific. On the left side, I put everything I need to do for work, on the right side, all my home to-do’s. The bottom left is my distraction placeholder. If I get distracted, before I jump into the distraction, I’ve now trained myself to pause and write down what I was in the middle of doing. It takes a lot of practice to be able to do that and stop yourself and be mindful, but it helps.

You can get back into it quickly.

The laundry went off or somebody is at the door or whatever is going on, you sit back down and it’s like, “What was I in the middle of doing?” Instead of trying to figure that out and then getting distracted by Facebook or a new email that you just got in, and never getting back to the original thing, have it written down. Have it tact there so you can say, “I was writing that email. Let me do that.” You start to train yourself to get back into that mode so that even if you get distracted, it’s not the end of the world.

TBT 133 | List Making

List Making: There are certain things on your list that you were never going to do, and it’s okay. Give yourself permission to check it off the list forever and be done with it.


It’s important because we have to face that we do get distracted. Having strategies like that help us to get back into things more quickly. To give the readers another way to look at it, the way that I structure my lists is in categories. You did too work at home, but I will separate out into buckets some of the higher categories of work. As an entrepreneur, I’ve got different hats. I’ve got marketing on there. I’ve got a delegation and things that I need to delegate every day which is my favorite thing to do every morning. I feel like I’m already super productive because I gave away something and I know I’m going to get it back. Things like that. I’ll have a client work as one bucket. Usually, I’ll have about 6 or 7 buckets, and then the top to-do things is my weekly to-do list.

I do it daily. For me, it needs to be fresh every day.

I have a second list, which is my daily list. I’ll identify in that weekly list what things need to be done in each day. That helps to keep me focused on the day but I also know what I need to focus on for the week.

It’s all about tapping into your own productivity style as well. I always tell people, don’t become a morning person if you’re not a morning person. It doesn’t work. I know there are all these productivity experts out there who will tell you, “Everybody is getting stuff done at 4:00 AM.” Good for them. It makes me cranky. That is not what I do. I am very specific about when I can start working and what I do. I get up in the morning and I like to have me-time. I like to do yoga, meditate, read the newspaper, and drink some tea. That’s how I want to start my day and then I’ll be ready to start working with clients, doing media or doing whatever it is that I’m doing for the day. I like to do that first. A lot of times, I tell people think about what you’d like to do before lunch or after lunch, and then stack your day that way.

Do you do theme days of the week?

I do a bit. Usually, I take Mondays for myself as a starter day to look at the week. When we used to meet with people in person, I would have a lot of lunches, meet people for drinks or whatever it was on Mondays, which is my connection day. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday are the days that I meet with clients, I do media or whatever it is that I’m doing. Fridays, I keep for creativity. Friday is my day for writing. I’m in the middle of writing a novel. I meet with a writing partner. We meet every Friday. We say hello. We put ourselves on mute on Zoom. We do Pomodoro, so we write for 25 minutes of targeted time and then we stop. We say, “How did it go? Do you want to keep going?” If yes, we set another 25 minutes and we write again. It’s a good way to keep consistent, to have the accountability of someone there and to also have those little focused pockets of work time.

That seems to be the thing that I noticed first in the kids. They connect over on FaceTime or whatever program, then they do their homework. They chat a little bit here and there in between. It does help to have that other person on the line. Whatever it does, it is that accountability that they’re going to get stuff done and you’re going to get stuff done. Do you guys set a goal for each 25 minutes segment of writing and then come back and say whether you reach that goal? How do you structure that?

We’re working on completely different things. She’s working on a memoir. I’m working on a novel. We’ll talk about what kind of scene we’re writing or what we think we’re going to write and then we do that. I’ve been in other writing circles before where we do set a goal for how many words do you want to write. We’re a little more loosey-goosey with it, but we do talk about setting the intention. What are you going to write? It’s not like you’re sitting there staring at a blank page. You already know. That’s the whole point with writing a book. Many people will ask, “How do you write a book?” For me, it’s these little micro things or tiny little pieces. Every Friday I’m like, “This is the scene that I want to write or this is what happens next.” I know going in that’s what I’m going to write. I’m not going to sit there and think about what I’m going to write. I’ve already done that work ahead of time.

What’s your go-to tool? If everything got deleted off of your workspace, what’s the first thing that you would add back outside of office and that kind of stuff?

We make time for the things that we truly want to do. Click To Tweet

I don’t know. Email of course, that’s boring.

Outside of email, Excel, Word or whatever. There’s maybe a tool that you use that’s a shortcut or that you take notes on that you use every day.

I do love voice memos and voice notes. It’s my new favorite thing and video. As a video producer and media trainer, I’m always encouraging everyone to do video, to do more of it, and to show your personality and all of that. I do a lot of video, voice memos, and notes for people. If I can’t meet with you in person, I will go to Vidyard, which is a program where you can create a quick video and send somebody a link, then you’re able to talk to them, which I find to be great. I use Voxer, which is for audio notes. You can send a note to somebody. I find that to be so productive because a lot of times, I procrastinate on writing back to people, writing back to emails, and writing back to texts. It’s like, “I have to think about what I’m going to say and there’s a link I want to send,” then you don’t do it. For me, if I can get on video because I’m comfortable with it and say, “Here’s what I think.” If someone’s asking me for a recommendation for someone, I’ll be like, “She’s great and here’s why.” I’m able to tell them this way. It’s much easier to get that done. I would suggest either of those tools because I think they’re great.

I do think that there is something about voice, of picking up the phone and having that quick conversation versus the text or sending the voice message. It gives you permission not to be perfect with it. Somehow when we’re writing an email or something, we’ve got this perfectionism bug like, “You’ve got to do this. You’ve got to say the right thing and do the right thing.”

Also, how has the tone come across? It could seem like you’re blowing someone off when you’re not. If I write an email and be like, “Unfortunately, I can’t meet today.” That gets received and someone’s like, “Oh.” If I’m on a voicemail, I’m like, “I’m so sorry I can’t meet today. I wish that I could but I won’t be able to do it. Send me an email instead.” That’s a different way of communicating.

They get the whole thing. I like the voice memo. I don’t use it as much as I like it. I’m going to use this card to remind myself that it’s an easy and efficient way. I do use the voice part for my texts, but you know what happens there. There are all sorts of mistakes like Siri rewords it. I can’t get it because I’m bad with that, and then people are like, “What?”

TBT 133 | List Making

Listful Living: A List-Making Journey to a Less Stressed You (Gift for Stressed Working Women and Fans of Listful Thinking

When you’re used to dictating your texts and you’re saying it in a different way, then you’re actually leaving the memo. A lot of times people will have a robot voice. It does take a little bit of time. I do a lot of media training with people. I trained in a sales team that was used to leaving a lot of messages on the phone. They go into their spiel and they sound a little robotic because they’ve said it a million times. When they were doing video, they sounded like robots. I was like, “Guys, listen to yourselves. It sounds robotic.” They’re like, “That’s how we leave messages.” They’re like, “We never realized that.” I was like, “Everybody needs to calm down and let their personalities come through a little bit.”

Have you ever made the mistake where you were leaving a message, but you thought you were dictating like your brain glitch on you and you said “period” at the end of the sentence? If you’re doing it, makes sure that you’re present with what you’re doing and you’re not doing that. Even though you’ll get a laugh out of it, it’s not good. Any last thoughts that you want to leave the group with? I know you’ve got to give away that I want you to share.

Don’t be hard on yourself. We’re so hard on ourselves that we look at that list and we’re like, “We didn’t do this and I didn’t do that.” Give yourself a break. You need to be able to say, “I’m not going to do this and it’s all right. I’m going to get over myself, no big deal.” Put something on there that you really want to do. That will make you feel excited and happy about it. If you go to PaulaRizzo.com/lists, I have a List-Making Starter Kit, tips and tricks on how to be more productive and less stressed.

Thank you so much for being here.

Thanks for having me.

Thank you all for being here and making a list of the things that you’re going to do after this show. That includes going to Paula’s website, downloading her list, and getting your list strategy together so that it can help you be more focused and block out distractions, and also some of the other tips that we talked about. Thank you for being here. We’ll see you in the next episode.

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About Paula Rizzo

TBT 133 | List MakingAs a best-selling author and Emmy-award winning television producer for nearly 20 years, I’ve produced health, wellness, and lifestyle segments with a range of top experts, including JJ Virgin, Jillian Michaels, and Deepak Chopra. I served as senior health producer for Fox News Channel in New York City for over a decade. Today, I work with experts, authors, and entrepreneurs on how to position themselves for media (traditional as well as blogs and podcasts), build their lists, and engage customers and fans for their brands, books and businesses.

I’m also the co-creator of Lights Camera Expert  – an online course geared towards helping entrepreneurs, authors and experts get media attention.

I created the productivity site ListProducer.com and am the best-selling author of Listful Thinking: Using Lists to be More Productive, Highly Successful and Less Stressed, which has been translated into 12 languages and has been featured on many media outlets including Fox News, Fox Business, Prevention, Business Insider, Entrepreneur, Brides and made it on Oprah.com’s list of “Self Help Books That Actually Help.”

My latest book: Listful Living: A List-Making Journey to a Less Stressed You will be published in the Fall of 2019.

I’m a regular speaker, and presented the keynote address for New York Women in Communications, and have presented at MA Conference for Women, Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), American Society of Association Executives, and others.

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Practical Quantum Physics: Making Life Easier And Fun With Deberah Bringelson

TBT 132 | Practical Quantum Physics

When you open up to new things you don’t know, that’s where you can open up huge leverage and potential. In this episode, nonconformist empowerment expert Deberah Bringelson joins Penny Zenker as they discuss how practical quantum physics can play a role for you to take back time. From $0 to $602 million in twelve months, Deberah digs deeper into the use of quantum physics that has massively affected her and her client’s success. Get into some of the energy work Deberah does as she shares the four points to your point of power. Tune in and expand your energy and unblock the path to your dreams.

Listen to the podcast here:

Practical Quantum Physics: Making Life Easier And Fun With Deberah Bringelson

I’m excited to have Deberah Bringelson with me. She’s a nonconformist empowerment expert and one of the most profit-producing business growth authorities in the world. She’s known for her work with Richard Branson for helping in seventeen countries to grow 100% to over 3,000% in under twelve months. Her proprietary Power of 3 Formula weaves manifestation and quantum teachings. That’s what we’re going to be talking about is how we’ll use quantum physics to take back time.

She does that with highly innovative business strategies. She’s an internationally recognized speaker, author, co-authoring Practical Business Wisdom and Magic with Joe Vitale from The Secret. Deberah and I know each other, just to give a little history, as we worked together at Business Breakthroughs International, that’s a joint venture between Tony Robbins and Chet Holmes. I knew immediately interacting with Deberah, she is one smart cookie and they only hired a smart cookie. Deberah, I’m excited to have you here to talk about quantum physics and how that can play a role for people because they’ll already be like, “What?”

Thank you. I’m thrilled to be here.

Tell me why quantum physics. That sounds scientific. Why are we talking about that?

I call it practical quantum physics because when you say science to somebody and they’re like, “That’s a lot of stuff that I don’t want to know and a lot of math.” Anyone who knows me knows that Deberah does not do math. It’s practically how do you use metaphysics, quantum physics to make your life easier and a lot more fun. I started learning about it in my early twenties. I came from a dysfunctional, abusive background and things were not working out well for me. I was looking for solutions for my own life. I’m Native American and I interacted with some shaman and some spiritual teachers. I started down the path of learning how to use the power of my frequency and vibration to create things that I wanted to create. Initially, as I was starting my business consulting career, I didn’t talk about it at all because I was afraid that people would think I was crazy.

It sounds a little bit woo-woo. People that are reading, they’re like, “I’m not going to read this.” It’s not woo-woo, right?

It’s practical. If you think going from $0 revenue to $602 million revenue in twelve months using quantum physics is woo-woo, then fine.

Life is meant to be about having fun and experiences, not just working around the clock. Click To Tweet

I’ll take me some woo-woo right there. That’s the most important thing that people understand is we have to be open to things that we don’t know and don’t understand because that’s where we can open up huge leverage and huge potential. If you’re reading this and you have any preconceived opinion, open up and let’s listen because if it could create that growth, what if? Keep your mind open.

That’s what I started discovering personally is I was using it myself and I was discovering that things were showing up that I wasn’t working hard for. A lot of us in Western culture, we’ve been taught nose to the grindstone. You’ve got to work hard and put in those hours. I started learning life is meant to be about having fun and experiences, not just working around the clock. What I learned in my own life is as I was using this, things would be a lot easier. I started using it with clients, not stepping out and telling them what I was doing, but I was doing it anyway and then I started teaching.

I put in all of the business things that should have been working and it wasn’t after about eight months or so. I said to her, “You’re blocking money. You’re not allowing it into your experience,” and we got into it. I did some of the energetic work that I was doing with myself and within eight days, she made $298 million. At the end of the twelve months that we were working together, she made $602 million. I was like, “I’m going to start talking about this.”

Tell us what was something like a practice that we can do that will help us to open up and make things easier for us. Is there a practice that you can share?

What I did with her is I did some energetic work. There are four points to your point of power that create your reality. When you get all four points lined up together, then things become a lot easier. Those four points, they’re connected. It’s your thoughts and emotion. Have you ever have somebody who cuts you off and you start looping about it you’re like, “You cut me off?” It’s all in your head, those emotions. They’re your core beliefs that are in your body. It’s things that you feel. Your body was designed to give you information but we’ve been taught to shut that down.

If you still have the hairs that rise on the back of your head, that’s a little bit of warning but if you learned to tap into what’s happening in your body and your feelings, your core beliefs and your feelings go together, and your thoughts and emotions go together. Your core beliefs are things. It’s not the things that you’re walking into a cocktail party and say, “My business is in trouble and I don’t feel like I’m good or smart enough, or whatever.” Those are the things that are embedded because how you were treated by a teacher, parent, or society as a whole, you’re not smart enough or good enough, whatever. One hundred percent of the people that I work with have some piece of not good enough.

We all do. This is my personal belief that’s what we’re here to do is to overcome that because everybody has a little bit of that and we are in that search to realize that we are enough and to untap those limitations.

TBT 132 | Practical Quantum Physics

Practical Quantum Physics: Your body cannot hold opposite frequencies, so you can’t hold fear and joy at the same time.

We all have that. One of the things that we have to understand is though all of those come together, we may say, “I’m smart enough. I’m going to close this $100 million deal.” If our core beliefs say, “No, I’m not good enough.” That’s going to take control. We want to clear that out. That’s what I did with her. Let’s do this quickly. There’s a lot going on in the world and it’s got us all unsettled. If we’re feeling fear, fear is a low vibration, low-frequency energy. Joy and love are much significantly higher than that. Let’s stop for a moment, everybody, take a nice breath, settle into our body, call in the energy and frequency of joy.

If you can’t call that in, think of a joyful time like when you were gazing at your newborn baby space, playing in the surf of the ocean, or something joyful and feel that energy. Your body cannot hold opposite frequencies. You can’t hold fear and joy at the same time. Let’s say you’re getting ready to go into a big meeting to close a deal. Stop for a minute before you do that. Take a breath and rest in the energy of joy for a moment. You walk in at a higher frequency and here’s what happens. You’re looking out in your room and you’re saying, “There’s all this space in here. There’s space between me and the computer. There’s space between me and the wall.” That space is full of little filaments of energy that are going on and connecting to everything in the world. As you walk into your meeting or if you do it electronically, that’s fine. In a frequency of joy, you connect to the other people in that same frequency of joy and you create a higher level of experience. Did you feel that when I asked you to call in the higher frequency of joy? Could you feel that in your body?

Absolutely, right away. I am more familiar with doing that but it’s easy because all you need to do is you let us through that is to think of a time when you felt it, when you were immersed in it. We’re trained. We do that. We can listen to a song and that’ll take us right back to a particular time. If we need to get there through a song, sometimes I think about a time when I laughed hard that milk came out my nose type of thing, my stomach hurt, and my cheeks hurt. You can easily find those moments. As you said, once you have them, you can easily bring those back because those are ones that you call upon.

Let’s make this practical. Let’s say you are trying to close a deal or make a sale or somebody on your sales team is. They’ve got all this going on, these thoughts in the back of their head, “I’ve to make this sale because I need to pay the mortgage,” or “My dad told me I would never be anything and I’m going to blow this.” They walk into the sales conversation and they’re all, “I’m great. My product is great.” The person they’re talking to feels the energy of I’m not good enough for whatever it is. This isn’t some woo-woo thing. There are machines that can measure the energy.

We can measure it up to about 8 feet but we believe that it goes significantly farther than that. It might be thousands of miles. You’re saying, “I’m great. My products are great.” The energy that you’re exuding, the frequency is, “I don’t believe in this product. I don’t believe in myself.” What happens is the person on the other end, they may not know why they don’t trust you but they don’t because they feel that disconnect and the sale gets lost. Practically, doing something like calling in the frequency of joy, that higher level, to move out those fears will help in making sales, in connecting with your spouse, whatever it is.

When I think about fear it’s usually centered on myself. Fear is something about yourself. Whenever I’m focused on someone else, that tends to bring joy but other types of gratitude, feelings, more collaboration, and giving. I always find that when I’m going on stage, because I speak a lot, and I get nervous, it’s because I’m thinking about myself and what they’re going to think of me. As soon as I turn my energy towards the audience, the value that I’m delivering, and the individual faces then that fear goes away and focused on them. Is that part of that type of energy exchange as well, self versus others?

It can be and it can be different for everyone. I go to what we did and that’s where I like to start with people so they can feel and understand what the difference is.

If you can think it, you can have it. Click To Tweet

What do you find is the biggest mistake that people are making in their business that they get caught up in this fear or in any type of resistance that keeps them moving forward?

I don’t necessarily think of it as a mistake but I do think of it as what are the layers that are causing you to behave in a certain way. I teach quantum metaphysics classes in addition to my corporate clients and one of the things that I always teach is to ask the question, what’s under that? If you have a situation that’s not working or you have thoughts that are getting in your way, what’s under that? What’s causing that? We play the ‘What’s Under That’ game. Sometimes we go down 10 or 15 levels until we get to it. It’s not that they’re making mistakes, it’s that they’re making decisions based on fear and an energy that keeps things constricted.

We are unlimited beings. If we can think it, we can have it. If we are sending the right energy out into the universe, the universe will deliver it back to us and you can call it source, God, or universe, whatever you want to call it but it will be delivered back to you. It’s our human perspective that we’ve been taught. You’re only going to make this much money or if you’re in this profession, this is how it’s set up to work and you can’t bust out of it. None of that is true. I and my clients have had tons of crazy experiences that prove that it’s not true but we have to get down to the root of what’s going on which, to be honest with you, the root is some version of, “I’m not enough.” We have to expand our energy out of that.

How do you do that? How do you expand your energy out of that if you’ve been in it for many years? This is something most people have been practicing for 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 plus years.

The first step is to understand what your limiting beliefs are and be willing to let those go. I was talking to a woman about this. I was talking about fears and all the fear that’s happening in the world. She was so committed to fear. She thought fears were valuable. If that’s where you are, you’re not going to expand out of it. You have to be willing to acknowledge and move out of it. The other piece of it is to be willing to start to change your energy and vibration. I have a free Facebook group where I do a lot of guided processes to take people past fear, to help them understand how to lift to a higher octave. Our lives and our bodies are like an orchestra playing different notes of music. As you attached to a note of money or lack of money, you attach to a note of love or lack of love, it’s understanding how you know what you’re attached to, expand beyond that, and knowing where you’re going.

I’m trying to make this clear. One of the things that’s important is to focus on where you’re going, what you want, and stop the focus on what you don’t want. That’s number one. As you get engaged with people and you’ll notice that a lot of times with people, “I broke my hip. I’m taking more pills.” I won’t have those conversations myself. What I tell people when you talk to me is if you start marching down that path of your story, I will cut you off because I love you too much to let you do that to yourself.

We get caught up in our own stories. For the people reading, you said if you’re more committed to your fear than your joy then it’s clear what you’re going to get. You’re going to get more fear. That is clear in creating that awareness of where a commitment is. As you said, working with people like yourself and myself, the people who can guide you through that process will help you because I was saying to you before we got on is often, it’s hard to see ourselves. I’m sure you and I work with the coach because we all have blind spots, we do get stuck in our stories, and we have to have people calling us out. We don’t always call ourselves out on it. That’s part of the process as well. There are two questions that I ask every guest and I wanted to get your opinion on this too. How do you define productivity and why?

TBT 132 | Practical Quantum Physics

Practical Quantum Physics: Spend some time figuring out where you’re energetically holding yourself back and then start doing the right processes to clear those away.

I’m different than a lot of people. Productivity for me isn’t doing. It’s creating. When I think of what I do to be productive, there’s a good part of my day that I’m meditating and reading. It’s not about grinding and hustling at all. It’s about I will spend hours meditating if I need to, to get myself clear energetically and in alignment before I’ll do a task. I know that when I put in that energetic time, I don’t want to say effort, but time investment, it makes the results come faster and easier. There are things that I’ll think about it as I needed this. Here’s an example. This isn’t a business thing but I needed some trees trimmed and I wanted it to happen before winter and magically, my neighbor has a new boyfriend who had a tall ladder and he came over and trimmed my trees.

I didn’t even have to do anything to make it happen. One of my fun experiences in my professional life was when I was doing the work with Richard Branson and I wanted to throw this big party. I had no budget, and seven days to make it happen. I could have served him water in paper cups. That was how big my budget was. I put it out there to the universe. I did the energetic investment and a couple of days, somebody called me on my cell phone and I don’t give my cell phone number out to anyone, they said, “I hear you want to host a party for Richard Branson, the Top F 100 and 500 companies in the San Francisco Bay Area.”

I said, “Yes.” She said, “I hear you’re looking for a venue. I have a nice home.” Palatial Estate is what it was. “You can have it in my home. I’ll cover the catering costs.” I said, “That’s great. Let’s invite all of these people. I may know who they are and they have a list but I don’t have their contact information. We’re now four days out.” She said, “I know somebody who does.” The owner of this one particular restaurant. In seven days, I did nothing other than toss it to the universe and then help coordinate whatever. Somebody came in and cover the cost of everything. It was fabulous. People were invited, they showed up, and ended up closing the deal for me. That’s how that investment leads to being what is productive.

By the way, nobody that I’ve interviewed has had the same definition for productivity. I used to say productivity is like a feeling, At the end of the day, did you do something that was in alignment with your goals and your values and then you feel productive? It’s happiness. It’s only you can define because we’re not machines. It’s not about input and output. It’s different. Lastly, I wanted to ask you, a lot of times when people are looking for productivity tips and ways to work smarter, they want to know the shortcuts. We want to know what’s that one activity that makes things easier, as you said, and gets us to our result faster. What’s your favorite shortcut?

I meditate.

That’s what I thought you were going to say since you brought that in. Talk a little bit about how that makes things easier and faster for you. Is there anything else that you wanted to share around that as a shortcut?

I meditate in different ways when I have different needs. If I’m stressed or if I get into a situation of fear, for some reason, I will do the meditation of what I like. I do guided processes that will clear that out. The client that I was talking about that went to $600 to $2 million in twelve months, she believed that she didn’t deserve money, we had to clear that out so I’ll do that. If I want to meditate to get to a higher dimension, I will do that. I mix up my meditation. For me, it’s not necessarily sitting and being quiet. The first thing that I would encourage everyone to do is spend some time figuring out where they’re energetically holding themselves back and then start doing the right processes to clear those away.

Believe that you can do it because you are the power of the universe. Click To Tweet

I’m sure there are a lot of people who are intrigued. We left them with the what if. They could get that one thing that’s holding them back and breakthrough it. Where can they find more information about you? You said you had a Facebook group that people could follow.

There is a Facebook group and it’s called Deberah Bringelson Quantum Success Academy. There’s no charge to join. There are a lot of free videos and content in there on the quantum metaphysics aspect. I’m also a business consultant. There are business tools in there as well. If they want a free download of the guided process that I used with that client that we’ve been talking about, they can go to 7Blueprint.com and that’s my entire seven-step business building blueprint. As an add-on bonus thing, there’s the guided process and it’s all free.

You guys better go there to 7Blueprint.com and check it out. As I said, Deberah and I have worked together. If this attracted you to Tony Robbins, what attracted me is what we did at Business Breakthroughs. It was both the mindset and business aspect. There are few people who can handle both aspects. They can go to your depth of clearing the various different elements in the mindset but then also to have practical strategies that will then double, triple, and whatever that percentages of your business. That’s powerful. For those of you who are reading, check it out.

I would agree with you. There are many people that say, “I haven’t been able to make all of this cosmic stuff work for me.” The problem is there are too many people out there who don’t have a depth of knowledge and understanding. They’re teaching it at a surface level. Once you understand it does start to move in a joyful way.

Thank you. Is there anything else you wanted to share before we sign off?

I believe that you can do it because you are the power of the universe. What you have in you is the exact same power that moves mountains, that the greatest mystics of the world have used. It takes a little bit of investment to be able to start shifting. You can do it.

You can do it. It’s time for you to tap into your power and to take back time, take back joy because that is something that we do need to take back. Some of us work too much. I’m a recovering perfectionist, I get it. It is time to take back your power, realize, and recognize what you’ve got inside of you. Thank you all for being here. Thanks, Deberah.

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About Deberah Bringelson

TBT 132 | Practical Quantum PhysicsYour Strategic Solutions Founder, Deberah Bringelson has been consulting with large corporations for almost 30 years. As her verified results demonstrate, she is one of the most profit-producing Business Growth and Empowerment Experts in the world.
Deberah is probably best known for her creative ingenuity, tenacity, and leadership while negotiating the Virgin America deal between Sir Richard Branson and Arnold Schwarzenegger, for which she received the “Steal of the Year” award, for the deal that never should have happened. Deberah is an internationally recognized Business Development and Empowerment Expert, who has coached C-Suite Executives and consulted with companies in 16 countries.

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Defining And Claiming Your Success Through Productivity With Debbie Allen 

TBT 131 | Success Through Productivity

When there’s a sudden change in the environment, a lot of businesses struggle to keep up and end up biting the dust. The only way to push through success is with productivity and making sure your business stays in action. Certified speaking professional, Debbie Allen joins Penny Zenker this episode to explain what it means to be productive to pivot your business in accordance with sudden changes. She talks about how important it is to invest in others in order to receive the same. Learn all about the power of asking questions as she explains how you can gain the respect of people by simply asking and implementing. Believing that success is easier than failure, Debbie shares her knowledge about you needing to actually put in effort in order to fail.

Listen to the podcast here:

Defining And Claiming Your Success Through Productivity With Debbie Allen

What does take back time mean? It means that we want to help you to work smarter. I have Debbie Allen on board and she’s amazing. She’s a certified speaking professional and she’s one of the top professional business speakers in the world. She’s been a professional speaker for many years. She’s presented before thousands of people in 28 countries around the world and she knows her stuff. She speaks for diverse groups of business conferences worldwide and mentor entrepreneurs who want to be positioned as experts in their industry.

Debbie has been an entrepreneur and business owner since she was nineteen. She’s built and sold numerous million-dollar companies in diverse industries. She’s also a bestselling author of nine books including The Highly Paid Expert and Success Is Easy. She’s a VIP contributor and she’s a featured business mentor for Entrepreneur Magazine and all of that jazz. She is all that and a bag of chips. Debbie, welcome to the show.

It’s my pleasure. Thanks for having me here, Penny.

What was your first business at nineteen?

I joined a family business when I was still going to high school. I would take the school bus, and instead of going home, I would take it to the family business. My dad started a car rental business. He was a car salesman for twenty-some years and then he started running the leasing or the rental division and he went, “I could do this.” We started out with five rental cars outside of Gary, Indiana which was the number one place in the country for car theft. It’s a good idea to us to rent cars when everybody’s car is getting stolen. By the age of nineteen, when I had worked there maybe six months or something, I said, “I want to buy into the business,” because my brother had been given part of the business.

I said, “I want a percentage of the business.” I want to buy into it because then I’m going to act like a business owner. I’m going to be part of this from the beginning. That was life-changing to be thought of as an entrepreneur at such a young age. About the stuff I did in my twenties, my dad would start these businesses and then leave it up to me and my brother to run them. We didn’t want to go out and get jobs. I’ve never applied for a job in my life. I’ve never attended a day of college. I went right into that family business and learned from the school of hard knocks.

When you talk about Success Is Easy, you’re not talking about it in theory. You’re talking about it in practical lessons that you’ve learned. Is that right?

Success is easier than failure, but it takes commitment. Click To Tweet

Most definitely. It can be taught to anybody because if you don’t have an answer, success is easier than failure. People will realize that, “Success is hard. It’s so much work.” It takes a commitment. If you’re doing the right thing, it’s not ever considered work and that’s what I’ve learned. I’ve always felt if it was hard or if it wasn’t fun, then it’s not getting easy. That means I need to reinvent what I’m doing, sell a business, move on, something’s wrong or you can’t build relationships from it or can’t get clients. When it’s lined correctly, it’s there. When you think about it, success is easier than failure because success is surrounding us everywhere, right on the internet, they’re reading your show and they’re learning everywhere. You can turn on your computer, you don’t have to leave your house and you don’t need to go to the library. It’s surrounding us with YouTube and Google, all the information that’s in front of us. You have to work for failure. I look at things completely different.

I like success is easier than failure because there’s a lot that makes sense in that. I think people should journal that and see what that means to them and how that shows up. That’s a good exercise.

In fact, the first chapter of the book is, “What does success mean to you?” People think that they’re a failure even when they’re a success because they define their success by what other people think success should be. If you define success on your own terms, you can make success easy in about anything you do. It isn’t just a number, it’s an emotion and feeling.

It’s more than anything. I say that about productivity as well. In the beginning, people were like, “What are you talking about?” I said, “Productivity is a feeling. We’re not machines. It’s not about output. If I feel productive, it goes down to the same thing as success.” What you’re saying is it goes down to, “How do I define it? What are my expectations of setting intentions and how am I going about that?” I believe that’s the same thing to me. How would you define productivity?

I’m productive because I’m strategic. That’s how I get progress happening in my world is that I always look at every action step that I take is focused towards the goal. It’s not just getting things done. It’s a strategic plan that I have detailed out at least six months in advance. Everything that you’re doing during your day has got to fit the end results. That’s productivity in my world is strategic action.

We have a lot in common. Every time we talk, I see that there’s a lot of similar thought processes and whatnot. In your book, you also talk about getting your ask in gear. What does that have to do with being successful?

TBT 131 | Success Through Productivity

Success Through Productivity: People think that they’re a failure even when they’re a success because they define their success by what other people think success should be.

It’s funny because you were on my podcast. I’m on your show because we were in a group class together and our teacher said, “You should be on each other’s shows,” and then we took action. We got our ask in gear and we’re making it happen on the side as it’s going on. That’s one example, but how my book Success Is Easy became a bestseller or how I got my major publisher on for a magazine was getting my ask in gear in a session. I was sitting in a session at the National Speakers Convention and I raised my hand at 100 people. Nobody else raised their hand and I said, “How did you get your book in Entrepreneur Magazine?” The person that was teaching the class, Jeffrey Hayzlett, I said, “How’d you sell 500,000 copies?”

I raised my hand and I said, “That’s my dream publisher. I’ve been an entrepreneur all my life and I used to look at that magazine and envision my book back there.” Before I had a title, I’m seeing my name on a book because they focus on a lot of books in the magazine. I had no idea that they would look for people and where to get in there. After raising my hand, Jeffrey said, “I’ll connect you to my contact there at Entrepreneur Magazine.” He did, and within a week, I was on the phone call with them. I didn’t even have the book proposal done or anything. I had just come up with a title and she bought the idea on the phone in a half-an-hour call and she said, “Why can’t we get a proposal together? I’m going to push it to the team and I’ll push this through. I want this book and I want to work with you.” I was like, “That was easy.” If you’re going to write a book that’s easy, that journey should be easy.

When I saw that, “Get your ask in gear,” and it’s about asking for what you want and going for it, it reminds me of something that my mom taught me when I was young, “You don’t ask, you don’t get, you sit back.” Many people sit back and don’t ask for the things that they want. Don’t let people know what they’re working on and how they might be able to support them and that’s such a shame because that’s all you need to do is to ask and put it out there and it will come easy. In certain ways, you’re talking to the right people, “I know this person. That was crazy how that happened like that.”

It happened fast. Most people, the majority of people, a small percentage of people are going to feel comfortable asking and there’s a science to it of asking it the right time and the right way. I didn’t even have to even ask when I got that referral for Entrepreneur. I teach this to my clients and then they go, “The last question, how do I get that?” I’m like, “Did you ask?” One of my clients goes, “When I think about having the courage to ask or wondering how to ask strategically, I always think Debbie is going to say, ‘Don’t make me come over there and kick you in the ask.’”

It’s like I was a little person on the shoulder going, “Don’t make me come over there and kick you in the ask.” She’s like, “Go for it. I get it.” I’m like, “That works. The strategy is amazing.” The synergy behind that is that you’re supporting other people at the time. You’re not just asking. There’s another thing in the chapter, I talk about is becoming an ask-hole. That is you ask and you don’t ever implement. Some people ask randomly like, “You shouldn’t have asked because you didn’t pay your dues to ask for that. It wasn’t asked correctly. You asked a bunch of questions, but you don’t implement.” That’s an ask-hole. If somebody that doesn’t implement when they’re asking successful people for their advice. You’ll have that reputation. When you ask and then you implement and then you have success from that, people respect that.

There are a lot of people who are saying, “That’s all well and good. You ask for what you want. Success comes easy and defining what success is for you and all of that. We’re in a pandemic and these aren’t regular times.” They’re stuck. What advice would you give them to see success is easy in a time where they feel like it’s hard?

If you’re stuck, you need help. You need help getting unstuck as soon as possible. Some people reading beyond it. We don’t even know the uncertainty probably scares most people, “How long will this go on?” The thing is asking when you’re stuck. True entrepreneurs know how to pivot. We’ve seen companies that have been able to pivot with new direction, innovation, creativity, and they blew their business up. They’re doing more double and triple their business during the pandemic. We’ve seen that. There are others that are stuck because they were a one-trick pony. They stayed in a box. They kept doing business the same way.

If you don't know the momentum and the next steps, then get help. Find a mentor or a coach. They're all over the internet. Click To Tweet

When the pandemic hit, they’re like, “I don’t even have another direction. I don’t have another income stream. I don’t even know what to do.” That’s a scary place to be in business. If that happened to you and you’ve lost everything through this, pay attention. It’s scary and probably terrifying if that’s happened to you or you’ve lost a big chunk of income, but this is a wake-up call for you if you are stuck. Pay attention because you should not be running your business where you only have one way of doing it. If the world shuts down around you, you can’t move and pivot. I pivoted within two days. I was on building relationships with people that I had set up to be at their live events. When those got canceled, I’m like, “I can’t be there, but let’s do an online event. Let’s do something.”

I had six live events or virtual events booked within the first week. I pivoted. Not that I had done that before, I was reaching out to joint venture partners, opportunities and making things happen, kicked up my podcast, doing more podcasts, creating an online course. I’ve been twice as busy during the time because it’s like two steps forward and one step back because you’re trying to figure it out, but I have stayed in momentum. The thing is if you don’t know the momentum, if you don’t know the next steps, then get help. Find a mentor, a coach. They’re all over the internet. We’re all online. It’s easy to find us.

You said it, “You took action.” That’s the key is if you stay in action, you can’t be stuck. Stuck happens like that game hotter, colder that little kids play and something’s hidden in the room. Your business opportunities are hidden everywhere and it’s the hotter, colder game. Unless you continue to move forward in one direction, you’re not going to get any feedback. If you just stand there, what happens? Nothing. You want to continue to move forward. Like you were, you took action and then if something didn’t pan out or wasn’t going to bring you in the direction you want, what did you do? You took action in another direction or that was the feedback that you got whether it was hotter or colder. From what I’m hearing and that’s my thing to fall back on as well is to continue to move forward. Sometimes it’s one step forward, two steps back, and then you get to pivot and take a look at if that direction wasn’t right, what’s next?

Understand, you’re not an island by yourself. There are a lot of people that you can ask if you’re not in a position and a lot of people say, “Why can’t I hire a coach or consultant?” “You can hire them for an online course. You can do, learn, absorb yourself and learning whatever you need to do.” The thing is that sitting there, waiting for things to turn around, it’s not going to happen. It’s not preparing you to get ready for the next time it happens because it will, whether it’s a pandemic, a 2008 economic crash, the presidential election coming up. We don’t know what’s going to happen. We need to prepare ourselves for every direction.

As an entrepreneur, what I learned is you’re never on an island by yourself. I started out with a family business. When I left business, I had no idea. I wanted out. We had also built a mini-storage business. We then sold a million-dollar business before I was 30. I had the opportunity to get out then, but I didn’t know my next thing. It’s like looking for opportunities. When the student is ready, the teacher will appear or when you’re looking for an opportunity, it will appear. It’s like you’re looking for that red sports car, you wanted to buy that red sports car and you didn’t see many on the road, now that you want one, they’re everywhere.

They are the same thing with opportunity. If you’re focused on it every day, “I’ve got to find that support and answer. I’ve got to get creative. I’m going to make money.” Another thing I teach is quick cash formula. Where’s money sitting around in your business where you can go get that quick cash. When you get quick cash coming in, you don’t freak out anymore. There’s some money. It gives me a little bit of cush. We’ll do that and they make them create some more of that.

TBT 131 | Success Through Productivity

Success Through Productivity: You should not be running your business where you only have one way of doing it. If the world shuts down around you, you can’t move and pivot.

I do that too, “Where are the quick wins? Where’s the low-hanging fruit?” The reason we both think that is because that keeps you in action. It helps you to calm down because you’ve got some resources that you can then invest in other directions and it keeps you in motion. One of the things that I also always ask people is everybody’s out there looking for a shortcut. One thing that we turn to, that we do that helps us to cut through it, what’s your shortcut?

Productivity shortcut is, “I want to achieve this goal.” If I’m clear on the goal, I have to have a vision whether you draw it out or it’s in your head. I know what that looks like. I’m good at visioning and creating things. I can say, “I want this.” The key is you don’t have to know the how. A lot of people get stuck on the how. The how will appear once you start in action through the productivity. I would focus on that every day. That’s my shortcut, but because that vision and direction will get there and keep plowing through and an opportunity will show up and the how will show up and the right people will show up to support you. You have to be surrounded with empowered people. When you’re around empowered people, successful people, like-minded people that think positive, things speed up automatically. I have never known the how on anything. It was getting a momentum and figuring out along the way. That’s the fast track is allowing it to come to you when you’re taking action.

Having that vision, that clarity, is there a tip that you suggest for people that don’t have that clarity, like they are a little bit stuck and they’re not sure what it is that they’re envisioning as their next step? Maybe they’re not stuck, but they brought their business to one level and they want to take it to the next level, but they’re not sure what that is in its context. Do you have a step to take?

That’s a question I ask everybody before I ever start working with them, “Where do you see yourself and your business one year from now?” We take it deeper and we go, “Where do you see it? What does it look like? How does it feel? Where are you working? Who are your most ideal clients? How are they finding you? How are you working your business?” I had envisioned that because I was on a world tour for about 3.5 years traveling. My vision was like, “Today, I’m in Singapore. Tomorrow, I’m in India. It was crazy.” I wanted that. It was bigger than I imagined. When I had to reinvent again, I’m like, “What would that look like if I created a business lifestyle and had my business? What I wanted to do every single day, work more in my home because I got burned out on travel?”

I drew this house that I’m in my conference room where I hold my VIP days and I have small group training in here. I wrote the vision of what the house would look like. It would have a small conference room and a guest house where people could come and stay when they’re working with me. It had a courtyard with a fountain and I drew it all out. I wasn’t even looking to buy the house or find the house. I stuck the paper away. In a year later, I pulled it out and I went, “This is every single thing on this list. This is exactly what I envisioned as a business lifestyle.”

I switched completely from traveling internationally and to have people come to me. I don’t even have to go to the airport. That’s a perfect thing when we’re talking about the pandemic. I created this after the 2008 economic crash because I never wanted that to have to happen to me again, where I had to be in an event, I had to travel. I had to count on other people like that. I wanted to do business the way I wanted to do it. Even when my VIP clients couldn’t fly out here during the pandemic when they had the days booked, I started selling virtual VIP days and I had never sold those before.

I have another event that I only did live once a year and I’m going to take it. My Speaker Sales Mastery is I can only put twenty people in a room and I’d only do it once a year. Now, I’m like, “I’m going to take that online so more people can learn how to quickly sell online.” It’s rethinking, “How am I doing it?” I teach positioning. It’s how you position your business is still get those clients, but do it in a different way where it’s easier.

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Click To Tweet

You and I met in a program where we were there learning some strategies. That is key that people put themselves constantly in learning situations. It’s an investment in themselves, in their business. I know for me, and you were alluding to this as well, is that there are many a-has when you’re in that energy and that environment is that it helps you to get that clarity. I believe firmly that we have to put ourselves in those learning opportunities so that we can help to create that clarity that we’re looking for if we don’t have it.

Also, investing in those learning opportunities because you can’t be general. When you go and say, “I can learn. I can be on all these free classes,” you’ve got to go deep into the training that you want that’s going to get you the results that you’re going to need that fits into your goal. I was looking for those like, “You have a little more space. Fill up the space with time to learn something new, a skill that you can take for the rest of your life.” You were doing the same thing. You’re going, “Here’s a skill and put that in my bag of tricks. I’ve got time to do this.” If I was super busy, I probably wouldn’t have signed up for that class because I wouldn’t have had to be able to be on a call for eight weeks in a row at a certain time.

I’m like, “I don’t have time for that.” Two biggest keys that people have and you know it are time and money. If it’s important to you and you see the results on the other end, it’s great. The thing about investing is huge because when you took the investment, we will put down a good chunk of money and then we’re like, “You’re going to show up. You’re going to make it happen.” If it was free or if it was less money, we might not have shown up as much and people need to invest.

It’s skin in the game. Why did you buy a percentage of your family business? You wanted a percentage and to be an owner that gave you skin in the game. It ups your motivation and ups your accountability to follow through with what you set out for.

That’s number one. I never invest in a program where I didn’t get paid off because I put skin in the game. I think, “I want these results from this program, but because I met Penny, she gave me another opportunity and referred me for keynote. That was four times as much money as what I invested.” I know it happens because it happens to me all the time. When I started doing this years ago, I went to an event and I invested $20,000 for seminars. Even the guy that was putting it on is like, “I’m surprised you’re investing. I’m honored that you’re coming and investing.” I only went to 3 or 4 of those events. That’s all I needed. I got the clients coming to me. I got my mindset shift and the mindset shift was number one, “If I invest $20,000, I could ask somebody to invest $20,000 with me.” If you haven’t invested big into programs, how are you going to ask people to invest with you?

If you don’t invest in someone else’s program, service or whatever it is, how are they going to invest with you if you don’t believe in investing with somebody else? You see the value of what people are offering. You get bigger value. There’s a comparison thing. Plus, there’s a psychological thing that, “If I could invest in that, how can I ask somebody to invest $10,000, $20,000 or more with me if I’ve never invested myself in learning or whatever the product or service is?” It would be hard. You’ve got the money mindset thing. You’ve got an issue around asking for money and that’s one of the things I teach about educating to sell, you have to invest to get it back.

TBT 131 | Success Through Productivity

Success Is Easy: Shameless, No-nonsense Strategies to Win in Business

One of the things that came to me as well is you’re seeing the people who invest in that program. You’re seeing the other people who invest in those types of programs. You get clearer on your target market and what some of their preferences, desires and challenges are so that you can also talk to them directly. If you’re going into a new market and you’re not used to working with those people, you don’t know enough about them too. Being one of those people is the money aspect. It’s the skin in the game to create your own results. They might be some of your clients. I’ve done the same thing. I walk away and not only did I get results from the program, but I got a couple of clients from the program or a business partner or a referral of some sort and there’s a lot more than the money that’s going into investing in the program.

When we connected even there was some synergy happening in a chat box. Not even meeting before Penny because I went, “I like this woman. She’s smart and she’s an action-taker.” Two things I must have in my business relationship partners. You’re a little action-taker, making things happen. You’re smart. You paid attention, “Let’s make it happen. We’re not messing around.” I’m like, “Yes,” because when I am trying to bring either a client or a new prospect, I have a prospect that was supposed to come into this new business opportunity with me and they’re dragging their feet and they’re not responsive. They’re not responding to my emails or text message. I made the decision, I’ve got to bounce them. I’ve got to get them out of my space and make space for the right person to be in there. They’re showing me that they’re not the right person to take this opportunity. I’d rather give it to somebody else.

I’d rather not do business with somebody like that because when it comes down to it, are they going to show up? I’m going to put this person on my stage. This is one of the people I’ve also another opportunity. There are two opportunities that are laying there. I’m like, “How do I deal with this?” I’m going to have to bounce him on the second opportunity, which is that I’m speaking on my stage because I don’t want to work with them. If they’re not responsive and productive, why would I put them in front of my audience and let my audience invest with them when I don’t think they’re going to follow up with them? I need to cut my losses now and walk away. I was going through my mind of how I’m going to do that. Especially, when you have somebody that’s unresponsive. They show that they’re not good people to work with. Pay attention to your follow-up and your productivity. What Penny teaches is huge when it comes to relationships as well.

It’s an important point that you bring up. In making success easy is work with people that gel with you. Those relationships are important that they have the same values and principles that you have and that makes success easy as opposed to bring people where it’s like pulling teeth like, “I don’t want to work with this person.” Is there anything else that you want to share? I want you to share any links that you have so that people can connect with you directly.

If they want to connect with me directly, they go to DebbieAllen.com. You’ll see everything I do with my mentoring programs, my events and then they’re going to give you a link for a big, valuable gift. It’s called ClientAttractionSuccessWithEase.com. On there, you’re going to get a 30-page action guide. This fits perfectly with what you’re doing with productivity, action guide with marketing steps that I provide you. Also, a webinar to help you with that client attraction too, which we all want is more clients, more money. Those are my great gifts for you.

Thanks, Debbie, for being here. These were great nuggets, a great conversation and I love chatting with you.

Same here, Penny. You have an awesome day. Keep being productive.

That’s to you, guys. Don’t forget, you’re reading Take Back Time. We will see you in the next episode.

Important Links:

About Debbie Allen

TBT 131 | Success Through ProductivityDebbie Allen, Certified Speaking Professional, is one of the top professional business speakers worldwide. She has been a professional speaker for over 25 years, presented before thousands of people in 28 countries around the world. She speaks for a diverse group of business conferences worldwide and mentors entrepreneurs who want to be positioned as experts in their industry.
Debbie has been an entrepreneur and business owner since she was 19 … and has built and sold numerous million-dollar companies in diverse industries.
She is also a bestselling author of 9 books, including The Highly Paid Expert and Success is Easy and a VIP contributor and a featured business mentor for Entrepreneur Magazine.
Learn more about her extensive business expertise at www.DebbieAllen.com

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The Morning Fire: Routines To Help You Work And Be Smarter With Jeff Wickersham 

TBT 130 | Morning Fire

What you do on a daily basis is driven by your habits and routines. In this episode, Jeff Wickersham of Morning Fire Academy joins Penny Zenker to discuss some game-changing habits to work smarter and unlock your true entrepreneurial potential and the routine to start your day. Jeff and Penny dive into Jeff’s work with his clients and how he became one of the most sought after morning habit ninja in the entrepreneurial game. Get an overview of the Morning Fire Routine and win your mornings every day. Tune in and learn how you can set yourself up for success from preparation to follow through.

Listen to the podcast here:

The Morning Fire: Routines To Help You Work And Be Smarter With Jeff Wickersham

We’re going to talk about routines and how routines are going to help you to be smarter in the way that you work and take back time. I have an amazing guest with me, who is the routine specialist. Jeff Wickersham is with us. He is one of the most sought-after morning habit ninjas in the entrepreneur game. He’s known for helping busy entrepreneurs to unlock their potential through the power of the Morning Fire Routine. We’re going to find out more about what that is. Jeff’s program guides clients to implement game-changing habits for more energy, focus and abundance to take back time in your day. He became a bestselling author with his book, Rise, Fight, Love, Repeat. Jeff, welcome to the show.

Penny, thanks for having me.

I like to hear a little bit about the history of people. A lot of times people do something in their career because it’s been a challenge for themselves. Are you naturally habit and routine-oriented or was this something that came hard for you?

It organically grew out of pain and frustration that I had. I’ve owned a gym locally in my area for a few years now. People would put applications in and then I would call, text, video message, email and 20% of people would come into the door. I kept coming back with this frustration of, “Why is that?” It’s mindset. It’s they can’t get out of their own way and so much is driven through our habits and rituals. It’s preprogrammed that they don’t even know what’s stopping them from getting in the door. It was a pain point for clients. I felt personally that I was tapping out of where I was at. I was capping at a certain level. I knew it all went back to what we do on a daily basis and so much is driven through our habits and routines. That’s how it organically grew out of pain and frustration.

This is in particular with people that you’re working with. We all know what to do in most cases. We don’t do what we know. We’re going to talk about the Morning Routine and speaking of that as a habit to start out with, the way you start the day. People say, “Win the morning, win the day.” Tell me, why is this important from your perspective?

I would even take a step back further. Many people think of the morning, but they miss the critical step of the night before and how you prepare and set yourself up for success the next day. Many people, the minute the alarm clock goes off, they’re playing defense. I’ve got two sons. I coached them in basketball. Playing defenses is tough. You’re in that squat positions, your quads burn. That’s what people do all day long. It’s no wonder why they’re exhausted, stressed. They flop on the couch and have nothing left at the end of the day.

If you take care of yourself, then you can take care of everybody else that much better. Click To Tweet

I would say first, it’s how you set yourself up for success the night before. How do you plan out what does that first 30 to 40 minutes look like? In the morning, it’s taking time for yourself to wake up physically, emotionally, spiritually. Get some good nutrition in to create this positive momentum in the day. You can take on any bump in the road that occurs. We all know stuff happens throughout your day. If you bookend your days at night and in the morning, it creates this tremendous momentum, energy and focus that can carry you through the day.

Is it what you do? Is it when you do it? There are many different philosophies out there. It’s starting the night before. I get that. That’s part of the when you do it. Is it the same if I wake up at 5:30 than if I wake up at 7:00? Give us a little bit more about what makes a successful morning routine after you’ve planned it.

I would say, yes, it’s the same depending on when you wake up. I’m an early riser. Most mornings, I’m up at 3:40.

Some people are just going to bed at that time.

People are like, “I can’t do it.” I’m like, “Let’s say you’re a parent and your kids get up at 6:30, back off a half an hour, 45 minutes. Make sure you get up at 5:45 and then go through these simple, straightforward steps.” Are they easy by any stretch of the imagination? No, but when you take time for yourself and you go through this process, then you get all that momentum and that energy. It’s transformational. When people have it clicked, they’re like, “I can’t believe how easy this was.” It’s simple and straightforward to take time for ourselves. Many times, especially as adults, we put ourselves last, especially for parents. We’ve got kids. We’re taking care of them before we take care of ourselves. If you spend this time doing it. It’s truly transformational for people when they carve out that time to take care of themselves, then they can take care of everybody else that much better.

Do you have specific steps that you talk about that should be done in the morning to get you awake both physically, emotionally and spiritually as you said?

It’s very inline to my book and it’s my mantra. It’s rise, fight, love and repeat. It’s rise in the morning. I love the symbolism of Phoenix rising from the ashes, new day, reborn, new possibilities, new opportunities. It’s fighting for your physical, mental and spiritual fitness. Often in life, we get muted in that fight mentality. I remember being younger and I’m the oldest of three. When I would fight with my younger brother, it was, “Don’t fight with your brother.” It’s bred out of us of the things we hear. Fighting from that perspective, loving yourself, most importantly. We’re inherently tough on ourselves. When you love yourself, you can love all of those around you, being grateful for where you’re at, and that repetition piece. Repeating over and over again to allow those habits to sink in, go into your subconscious, then you’re on autopilot and you’re creating that positive momentum every day. It’s drinking a glass of water. It’s affirmations. It’s a little workout to get that body flowing, some meditation and journaling. It creates these little wins in your morning. It can create that tremendous momentum.

TBT 130 | Morning Fire

Morning Fire: For so many people, the minute the alarm clock goes off, they’re playing defense.

I’m a big believer in that too. It is the state of mind that you put yourself in and the physical energy that you create in the morning that carries through the whole day. I know when I don’t get to do some of those things for myself, the day is sluggish. It’s not going as easily or inflow, the resilience to bob and weave as needed. To you, this is 30 to 45 minutes to put all of this into practice.

It’s about that timeframe. I tell my clients, “This is a blueprint I’ve used. Put on that white lab coat, be that scientist and figure out what works for you.” Some people might like a longer workout. Some people might like shorter. They might have a different green smoothie recipe that they like. It’s a blueprint for what has worked for me and a lot of my clients. To your point, that energy of movement in the morning. I always like to tell people because vacations happen, travel happens for work back when we were traveling a little bit. I say, “Always do a couple of things regardless of where you’re at.” You can always drink a glass of water. You can always get a workout in. You can always meditate. Those are the three core things that if you keep going every single day, to your point, you’re going to have that energy. You’re going to get out of that sluggishness and be able to take all of that.

I always ask the question, and it feels like this would be a good spot to put it. What’s your definition of productivity and why? How do these habits and routines fit into that?

My definition of productivity is being focused on things that move the needle towards your goals and results. Many times, we do unproductive tasks that are busy tasks. I go through it. It’s a time management exercise as my clients go through my ten-week program. It’s so eye-opening when people document where they’re spending their time. It’s like if you’re going to go and track your nutrition and you put it into an app. You see the calories in that and the grams of fat, protein and carbs. It’s eye-opening and the same thing is for time management. Productivity is being focused on things that are going to move the needle towards your goals, results and trying to tackle those on a daily basis.

The morning routine and the evening routine, how does that fit into creating more focus on the things that matter?

One at night, you can journal or say out loud what you’re going to tackle the next day. The subconscious mind plays through it, works on it as you’re sleeping. In the morning, starting with some affirmations related to those goals or targets, writing in a gratitude journal about it. It’s the state of mind and you’re focused on that moving forward throughout the day. I have a methodology, when you wake up, you eliminate distractions. That means you’re not checking email, the news, text messages. It’s tough, especially initially when people come in. That phone is like a tractor beam. It’s like pulling you in. You see a message, “I missed something.” Don’t do it. Stay to the program and then you’ll create that forward momentum.

These little wins in your morning can create tremendous momentum. Click To Tweet

I always talk about that too. Many do this in the morning. I always talk about, it’s not as much about what you do in the morning. It’s about what you need to not do in the morning. It’s like you said, no email, no text or social media, no meetings, no things that get in the way of those first initial energy boost that you need. I’m in total alignment with that. Again, if we know what to do, I always believe it’s what’s in the way of us doing what we know. If we can work that way, then we’re more likely to do the things that we know when we eliminate the things that are in the way.

When you create that, you have a choice when you wake up. You can be positive and happy or you can be negative. If you get an email that might not be the best email, it’s going to create that negative path down the road that you’re taking. It can derail you the entire day. Imagine if you spend 30 to 40 minutes on yourself getting energy, getting focus, and then you see that email, you’re going to be able to absorb it a lot more than if you started out the day that way.

Let’s talk about the evening routine. Tell me what that looks like to you. You said it was preparation for the next day, but there’s some more to it.

Preparation the next day and I get very granular where I’m like, “I want you to have your glass of water out and ready for you.” People are like, “That’s ridiculous.” I say, “No, it’s not.” What happens if you come downstairs in the morning and your favorite cup isn’t there or you go and everything’s dirty in the dishwasher? It’s your first opportunity for the mind to take the easy way out. It will try and take the easy way out every day. Preparing clothes out, phone away from the bed so you don’t hit the snooze button. You physically get out of bed. The odds that you’re going to get back into bed are much less because you’ve hit that cold air.

Preparing everything for smoothie recipes, all that stuff. I like to do it about 30 minutes before I’m going to sleep where I’m shutting off electronics. I’m not checking my phone. I’m reading, going through some nighttime affirmations, maybe journaling a bit and then I’m out pretty quick. It drives my wife nuts. I could hit the pillow and be out like five seconds. Part of it is I’m up at 3:45 in the morning. I’m tired by that point. Going through that routine, your body gets used to it. It gives you the ability to get a quality night sleep.

Do you have habits and routines that you think are important for people to keep in mind or that help them to put them into practice?

A couple of things, one related to habits. I’d start small. Don’t start off with these grand things that you want to do and start small. Let’s say if it’s exercise, for example. For two weeks, say you’re going to go for a walk for five minutes and the next two weeks, add on five to the equation. Many times, we get so intense in trying to create these new habits and they fall by the wayside.

TBT 130 | Morning Fire

Rise, Fight, Love, Repeat: Ignite Your Morning Fire

We make too big of a list. It’s like all or nothing. We create this, “I’m going to be into this. I just went to this amazing workshop or read this book,” then they’ve got this long list. It doesn’t happen because we’ve overcommitted and overdid it.

Get some small steps that you can create this positive association with exercise. For example, when somebody goes to the gym and they work out 60 minutes for the first week, they are so sore that they inherently don’t want to go back. Start small. I would also say if you have a habit that you use already, pair that new habit with an old habit that you enjoy. I had a friend whose wife was pregnant with their second child and he’s like, “Meditation would be great for her.” He knew I’m almost up to 1,000 straight days of meditation. He knew I loved it.

I said, “How about have her meditate while she brews a cup of coffee?” It was decaf, but because she enjoys that, it’s going to give her 2 or 3 minutes. Her reward for meditating is coffee. James Clear has got a great book, Atomic Habits. He talks about habit stacking where you can stack a good habit that you already have on new habits that you want to adopt. It increases your likelihood of sticking with those habits. Those would be my two main ones, start small and try and stack it with a good habit that you already have.

Is there anything else that you wanted to share for the readers before we close out?

If they want to find out more information, they can go out to my website, TheMorningFire.com. They can go out to Amazon, grab my book, Rise, Fight, Love, Repeat. That is very similar to what I teach and preach in small actionable steps that you can put into place like tomorrow, not three weeks from now and get some forward momentum. We overcomplicate the heck out of things. If you get in and start taking action, these small steps can create some amazing things in your life.

A lot of people are looking for shortcuts. They’re saying, “I got it. Give me the shortcut.” What is the number one shortcut for you that makes things work a lot easier?

I feel like that’s a tough question because I have found there are not many shortcuts. It’s hard work and it’s being disciplined on a daily basis. A shortcut would be hiring a coach or somebody that’s done it before. If you want to struggle and play around and I played around with courses, books and podcasts for a couple of years, as I was trying to put this together. If you want to go faster and quicker, it’s hiring a coach or somebody or getting a mentor, somebody that’s done it. You can accelerate your growth. That’s probably the only shortcut I know. It’s hard work day in, day out.

There are not many shortcuts to success. It's hard work and being disciplined on a daily basis. Click To Tweet

What it sounds to me, and tell me if I’m understanding this right, is when you hire a coach, you get somebody who has a process for you that makes it easier. Falling back on structure helps. It’s also accountability. That’s a shortcut. When you hold yourself accountable with external means, not just internal means, that’s also a shortcut. It holds you to do what you say that you’re going to do. That’s what I hear you saying. Am I understanding it right?

That’s a huge factor. We always let ourselves off the hook when we keep things internal.

All those excuses we make is to why it’s okay, “It’s okay if I hit that snooze button because I don’t need to be up for another twenty minutes.”

Nobody’s going to hold you accountable. Even posting on social media, I said I was going to do a Facebook Live every day at 12:30. Nobody’s going to hold me accountable to it. I didn’t want to look like a liar if somebody were to think of it. Every day, I went at 12:30. There was one time I was down in Jersey Shore in my truck with my laptop going live. I’m like, “I said I’m going to do this.” Accountability is a huge factor because we always let ourselves off the hook.

Thank you so much for being here and sharing these important tips around the morning routine and the evening routine. I like how you called it the bookends.

I appreciate you having me.

Thank you all for being here because you are the ones that this show is geared towards. I know that you’re going to be able to most importantly take some of these tips in preparing yourself for the next day, getting that morning routine and closing down your day. Remember, start small and see what you can do to hold yourself accountable and to stack those habits together so it makes it easier to implement. We will see you in the next episode.

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About Jeff Wickersham

TBT 130 | Morning FireToday I’m joined by our guest, Jeff Wickersham, one of the most sought-after morning habit ninja’s in the entrepreneurial game. Hs is known for helping busy entrepreneurs unlock their potential through the power of the Morning Fire Routine. Jeff’s program guides clients to implement game-changing habits for more energy, focus, abundance and time in their days. .
Jeff recently became a best selling author with his book Rise, Fight, Love,

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