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Staying Focused And Getting Things Done with Taylor Jacobson

TBT 73 | Staying Focused


A lot of people struggle with keeping their focus. The result is procrastination, unfinished business, and lack of peace of mind. Taylor Jacobson built Focusmate, a remote co-working community, where people get things done together. In today’s episode, we will learn how this works and how it throws out all levels of putting off tasks.  A trained executive coach, frustrated adventurer, and a recovering pizza addict turned holistic health aspirant, Jacob shares his greatest discovery through having focus, and more.

Listen to the podcast here:

Staying Focused And Getting Things Done with Taylor Jacobson

On this episode, I am talking about focus because we are distracted on a regular basis. I’m excited to have Taylor Jacobson with us because he is a man who’s looking to create tools to help people to be more focused. He is the startup Founder of Focusmate. He’s also a student of human potential. He’s a trained executive coach, a wannabe adventurer and a recovering pizza addict turned holistic health aspirant. Taylor, welcome to the show.

Thank you, Penny.

I’m a big fan. I have a thing called distraction quiz to help people to get more aware and heighten their awareness of how crazy distracted we are. What’s the story behind Focusmate?

A big part of this story is the first time that I started working remotely. I had been a high performer my whole life. I started working remotely in 2011. Overnight, I was no longer a high performer. In fact, I almost got fired because I was having a hard time getting things done. I did not crack the code right then. What happened is I spent a long time in a phase of shame and some depression. It was a tough part of my life. I started reading about productivity, behavioral change and even spiritual growth, whatever I could to try and figure out my own problems. That solidified my passion for this space and my decision that I wanted to make this my career somehow.

Fast forward a number of years, I was working as an executive coach. I was talking to a friend about our respective struggles with procrastination. We had this idea of how could we support each other deeply to overcome procrastination and knock out some projects we were both putting off. We had this idea of like, “Let’s get on a video call together and work side by side.” We’d be watching each other get work done. It honestly sounded silly to both of us, but we were desperate. We gave it a try. Lo and behold, it works well. He and I did it a bunch of times. Pretty quickly I realized there was probably an opportunity to provide something like this to many other people like us.

We might think of ourselves as being rational animals, but we are not at all; we are very social animals. Click To Tweet

You get a buddy to go to the gym so that you both get out the door and make it happen because it’s so easy to come up with all these excuses why you can’t go. When someone else is watching or someone else’s supporting you, you show up differently, so it makes sense.

I didn’t realize it then. Now, I look at different parts of my life. I can see how much I have used this tact everywhere. How I get through college with good grades was I would take a class because there was somebody in it that I knew was going to be a good accountability partner for me and therefore, I would get a better grade. That got me to college. How do I stay in shape? I make friends with people who are down to work out together because it gets me out there. It certainly works for me. What we’ve learned is there’s tribal psychology, which we might think of ourselves as being rational animals but we are not at all. We are very social animals. We behave differently when we’re with other people or when we commit things to other people. We can go and nerd out a little bit on why that is.

There is definitely a science behind it. I forget which book it was from Malcolm Gladwell. I don’t know if you remember this or if you’ve read this where people behave differently when they would witness an accident if somebody was around or if nobody was around.

People like to send me this stuff all the time. One of the new ones I heard is that there’s research that shows if you’re standing at the foot of a mountain, like a hiking trail by yourself versus with somebody else. If you’re with somebody, you report the mountain being something like 8% smaller or less steep. In your brain, things become easier when you’re with someone else.

I’m glad you shared that because that goes back to that social psychology. It is easier with other people because it’s more fun. It takes the seriousness and the edge off because even if it’s hard, it’s hard with somebody and that somehow makes it easier.

TBT 73 | Staying Focused

Staying Focused: We are very social animals. We behave differently when we’re with other people or when we commit things to other people.


I don’t think human beings want to do things that are easy. We want to do things with other people. It’s the tribal psychology. Much as we all love ice cream and Netflix or maybe I’m speaking for myself, those are easy and gratifying things. I don’t think we love those as much as like being our best self. We would all rather be running a marathon, building amazing companies and doing great work in the world. Those are harder things but that’s where we get dopamine from is achieving things and feeling higher status because our bodies look good. We’ve created something in the world that we’re proud of and other people can see.

Those are all status-related and status is a tribal artifact. It comes back to human beings did not get to the top of the food chain because we’re more tough than other animals. Definitely, we’re frail, fragile and hairless, weak and slow. What we have on other animals is the ability to collaborate and work together. The way we evolved is we survived because we learned how to collaborate better. Genes that made us more likely to collaborate effectively are passed down. Now, we’re hardwired to do that. The idea with Focusmate or working out with a workout buddy or any form of social accountability, peer support, peer pressure, these all tap into these things. They’re hardwired. We can’t resist them so we may as well use them to our advantage.

This is positive peer pressure when you have somebody who is supporting you to bring out your best self. It’s interesting what you said is that we don’t want to do things that are easy, we want to do things that are hard. We want to accomplish more. It’s interesting that we need and we want to have other people around to witness it, to share it and to push us to that place to be our best self. I paid for a trainer because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t show up at the gym. I have to pay somebody to be my best self. That’s why people hire us as executive coaches and whatnot. It’s interesting psychology that we want to be our best self, but we aren’t as hardwired to do it for ourselves.

We could even go a step further. It’s like we’re not wired to do it at all if we’re in isolation. All of these things that we aspire to are only meaningful because they’re shared. Here’s another one that I had heard from maybe a coach was working in the prison complex and she was saying she never understood why solitary confinement was such a big deal. You look into the psychology of it and the worst thing that you can do to a human being is isolate them.

What’s funny that came up to me when you said that is in a way, entrepreneurs who are starting their own business that doesn’t yet have a team, that’s probably their biggest struggle is they’re in solitary confinement. Having a place to go like Focusmate, I just stumbled upon it. I love it. I’m signed up. I’m going to use the platform. For new entrepreneurs, this is a gold mine to support them in bringing out their best self and staying focused because there are so many things that can distract us even our own shiny ideas.

The worst thing that you can do to a human being is isolate them. Click To Tweet

That’s why a lot of this mastermind-type of concepts have gotten popular too. When I started my first solo business, one of the first things that I did was I put together a men’s group of other entrepreneurs that I would meet with every month. I’ve joined another program called Exponential and that’s a team that we check in with each other every day. If there’s a breakdown, we’ll get on a peer coaching call. If you are an entrepreneur going on it alone, it’s super lonely. It’s super isolating. That’s demotivating also.

It’s that solitary confinement. When you said that, I was like that’s the entrepreneur. Tell me how long has this been in existence and what’s your greatest discovery through having it?

We’ve been around a couple of years. We’ve started as a little mini project on the side. I found a co-founder and we’ve raised some money now. We’re off to the races. I’ll share something that is fun, which is something we’ve worked hard at is fostering positive community. We’ve hit a tipping point with that where it’s like people are craving this place where they can come and be like euphorically positive, supportive and cheer each other on it. You have to create cultural norms that make that okay because I don’t think people are used to being that positive toward others and also receiving that positive encouragement for others. It’s inspired us to add a new component to our vision, which now I’m telling everyone that we want to build the most supportive community on Earth. That’s a discovery is like, this environment, this space resonates with people. We don’t know what the products and services so to speak that will evolve from that. I’m not even worried about that. We are starting from this, “What does it look like to provide the most support that you can get anywhere in the world? Most immersive, positive and encouraging?”

That’s a great vision to have the most supportive community on Earth. How do you match people up so that somebody is thinking, “This could be for me, but I’m not sure if it’s for me?” How does it work?

As far as the brass tacks, what Focusmate is it’s a 50-minute appointment where two users sit side by side via webcam and you can be anywhere in the world. You start each appointment by sharing with your partner what you’re committing to get done. In those 50 minutes, they share with you what they’re committing to get done. You both write that down in the chat area and you get to work. You keep each other company while you’re working. You update the chat with your progress. At the end of the 50 minutes, you check in and you reflect on how it went. You have this little moment of celebration. You’re paired with any other member of the community. What we’re working on is creating a more personalized experience where you can start to say, “I like working with this person. I’m going to give them a thumbs up and work with them more frequently or even add them to my trusted contacts and get a notification when they’re working.” Do things like have a private group for your remote company so even though you’re all distributed around the world, like now you’re hopping on a Focusmate session and getting some quality time with people on your team that you wouldn’t otherwise see. Something that we’re looking at now as well is a women’s only channel. If you feel safer hopping on with another woman, you can do that. There’s a whole myriad of ways that we are exploring personalization of the experience that gives you a little taste.

TBT 73 | Staying Focused

Staying Focused: People don’t realize how much stuff even “successful” people struggle with.


It’s going to be developing a lot with this new idea. I love it. Where can people reach you and sign up for this service?

You can go to Focusmate.com. It’s free so you have no excuse. Don’t procrastinate. I get emails from people that are like, “Two months went by and I finally stopped procrastinating and tried it. I’ve done 35 sessions in the last four days.”

That’s the thing about procrastination. I’d love to pick your brain more and perhaps we’ll do that in another session or offline. Tell us about your recovering pizza addict. How many pieces of pizza day would you eat? What’s going on there?

The inside joke here for people reading is that in my bio it says recovering pizza addict, but there’s a question mark in parentheses next to the word recovering. The jury is still out whether I’m recovering. I like pizza. I think that’s an important thing that I put in my bio just because now that I am the fancy-schmancy CEO of a company, people don’t realize how much stuff that even “successful” people struggle with. I don’t know if I consider myself successful or not but I definitely struggle a lot. Part of the work that we’re doing at Focusmate is creating this conversation where it’s totally safe and acceptable to be how you are, which is human and all of us struggle. There might be super disciplined people out there. Certainly, Instagram would have you think that there are but I am not one of them. Pizza does often find its way into my life.

We all struggle in different ways. At the very core of our existence is wanting to create meaning in our lives and meaning for others and we question whether we’re good enough. That’s the ultimate thing that every single person deals with. It may show up in different ways, in different areas of our life. Some people are maybe further along than others, but we’re all human. We’re all the same. I want to thank you so much for being here, telling us about Focusmate. I look forward to many future sessions on Focusmate.

Penny, thank you so much for having me. It was really awesome.

Thank you all for being here. We’re dedicated to you getting more focus and increasing your performance and being the best you. We’ll see you in the next episode.

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About Taylor Jacobson

TBT 73 | Staying FocusedI’m a startup founder, student of human potential, trained executive coach, wannabe adventurer (ask me about cycling 🚴 coast-to-coast) and recovering (?) pizza addict turned holistic health aspirant.

My career has interwoven operating and consulting roles but I’m an entrepreneur at my core and have built four businesses from food services to social enterprise, and was employee six at Teach For India.

I believe that most global problems would get solved if everyone could do their best work. My mission is to make that happen 💪.

My startup Focusmate (www.focusmate.com) is a remote co-working community where people get things done, together. Avoid Procrastination and create momentum in getting stuff done with the support of others. Our vision is to build the most supportive community on earth 🌎.

The spark for Focusmate came from my own intense struggles, as well as my work as a coach and trainer, working with leaders at places like JPMorgan, Palantir, Betterment, Compass, Wharton, Cornell, and Yale, where I gained deep experiential knowledge of peak performance and what gets in its way. 😎

I’ve been featured in GQ, CNN, The Huffington Post, Forbes, Virgin.com, Men’s Health and more.


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Everybody Can Be A Hero with Frank Shankwitz

TBT 74 | Be A Hero


Everybody can be a hero. Even if you have no penny left in your account, giving back can simply start with just one good deed that genuinely comes from the heart. Our guest is Frank Shankwitz, the creator and founder of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, an amazing charity that grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses. In this episode, we dive into the value of contribution in making ourselves and others happier. A public speaker, movie producer, and philanthropist, Frank recalls his motivation in creating his foundation and shares his inspirations in continuing to be involved in several not-for-profit organizations. On top of that, learn how contribution impacts our ability to be more productive and happier and healthier.

Listen to the podcast here:

Everybody Can Be A Hero with Frank Shankwitz

I am excited to talk about a great human being, a great leader and also talk about a topic that’s near and dear to my heart that’s around contribution. People are like, “Take back time, what does that have to do with contribution?” I believe that we’re all part of a bigger picture. When we focus outside of ourselves, that’s when we can make ourselves and others happier. We can be more fulfilled. Time is irrelevant. It doesn’t play a role that when we focus out, we bring out the best parts of ourselves and the best parts of others. We’re going to call this show, Everyone Can be a Hero, because our guest is Frank Shankwitz. He is the Founder of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. That’s his tagline, “Everyone can be a hero.” Frank, welcome to the show.

Thank you, Penny. I appreciate the invitation.

Tell me about the tagline. How did you come up with that as your motto, “Everyone can be a hero?”

That all started out basically with my youth, single mother, very poor and everybody helping us out. We live in everything from our car to our tents, the original homeless people back in the ’40s and early ’50s. My mentors, my father figures, people that helped me out said, “You can be kind and help someone.” Eventually, I came up with that thought where everybody can be a hero. People started calling me a hero for starting the Make-A-Wish Foundation. I reminded them that it took several people, not just me, several cofounders. We can all be heroes in somebody’s life.

It’s a perfect example, you said you changed from modest beings like you didn’t have much money, people were giving to you. Did that inspire you to give to others or what was the real inspiration behind the Make-A-Wish Foundation and getting to that point?

We were so poor and the people were taking care of us. When I was ten, eleven years old, a father figure that became my father figure, a mentor at that time had reminded me and said, “Many people are helping you.” We lived in a little town of 500 people called Seligman, Arizona, predominantly Mexican, American and Indian. They were helping us. He said, “You don’t have money to give back, Frank. You can start giving back right now.” I said, “I don’t have a penny?” He said, “Look at Mrs. Sanchez for example, the Widow Sanchez. Look at her yard. It’s full of weeds. You can go over there and clean that up because she is one of them that’s bringing you and your mom, beans and tortillas to help you eat.” I remembered that whole lesson that you don’t have to have money to give back. Just go help somebody. That’s another a tagline, “Be kind, give back any way you can.”

It doesn’t matter what’s going on in our lives. There’s somebody right next to us that can use our support and what value it is to reach out to. They’re supporting us in different ways and we can support them.

There are so many examples of that. You see people on the street that might need a helping hand. It’s even so simple as buying somebody a cup of coffee at one of your convenience markets. It’s simple as that.

It’s a moment to stop and do something kind for someone else. I try to embody that myself. If I’m in the city and I see that there are people who are sitting and living on the streets, maybe you can buy them a meal. It’s simple. If you’re out getting a meal, just order an extra meal.

You see somebody hanging around a fast food restaurant like McDonald’s or something, what was it like now? If I have time, I give a perfect example. When we were producing this movie, Wish Man, we were over in the Hollywood area and we’re a little early for a meeting. We went into a local bagel shop. When I say we, the producer was Greg Reid and outside was a homeless person, a lady with a shopping cart and everything she owned. She walked in. It was a chilly morning. He said, “Excuse me, Frank.” He went over and says, “My name is Greg Reid. What’s your name?” She cowered back a little bit. He said, “We’re having breakfast this morning. Would you like to join us? Tell me what you want. I’ll go get it for you.” He sat down and started talking to her. She’s got tears in her eyes. I overheard the conversation. She said, “Nobody’s ever asked me what’s happened.” As we left, she’s so thankful. He shook her hand and I noticed that it had $100 folded and that slipped into her palm. What a perfect example of giving back. The biggest thing was asking her what was going on, asking her what her story was, talking to people.

That’s such a great example of everybody can be hero, it wasn’t about the money that lit her up. It was that somebody cared enough to stop and talk to her. Even asking someone their name when you said that, I would imagine that they feel nameless and not seeing on the streets. That in itself just a powerful story.

It made her feel special that day.

You mentioned the movie. I was waiting to get to that. Tell me I understand how did this movie get made? What’s the premise behind making this movie?

The movie is Wish Man. That’s a tagline some Wish kids as we call it gave me several years ago. I was speaking at an event in San Diego and the host, Greg Reid, was interviewing me on stage. He said, “Frank, what’s your wish?” This was in about Make-A-Wish should have been about 34 years old at that time. I said, “I never even thought about that. Nobody’s ever asked me. It’s not about me, it’s about the kids.” He said, “What’s your wish?” I said, “I like my story to be told so my kids, my grandkids know that dad, papa did something cool in his life.” That was it.

TBT 74 | Be A Hero

Be A Hero: You don’t have to have money to give back, just go help somebody.


A couple of weeks later, he approached me and said, “We’re going to do a movie about your life.” I said, “No, you’re not.” He said, “Yes, we are.” I thought he meant a documentary. He said, “No. It’s a featured motion picture. We’re going to do it from a period piece, 1950s to 1980s,” from ten years old to when I started the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The people that influence me, I mentioned the one and giving back that helped develop my character, my integrity, my work ethic and my adventures with the highway patrol, being killed in the line of duty and brought back to life. Why was I brought back and met this little boy that inspired me to start the Make-A-Wish Foundation. That’s the basis of the movie. It’s been six years putting this together. Two and a half years working with the director, who wrote the screenplay also, Theo Davies. They brought me on as location scout, finding the locations in Arizona and technical advisor, consultant producer as we started filming the movie in 2017 in Arizona. After a year of editing, we’re finally ready to go in the theaters.

That’s so exciting to see your wish come true.

I never thought of anything. I like my kids to know something was going on. They do. Now they’re a little bit older. I never pictured a motion picture. It’s been an exciting run.

It’s an extra piece of your legacy. You’ve done so many wonderful things in creating Make-A-Wish and all the children and families that have been served and benefited. You’re also a veteran, is that correct?

Yes, I’ve served in the Air Force Vietnam era.

Thank you for your service. Even there that’s giving to your country, the sacrifice that one makes to do that is significant.

I’m a true patriot. One of the big things along that line is with being the first president and CEO of Make-A-Wish, it’s given me an opportunity now years later to sit on several boards. You mentioned service, one of the advisory board members I’m on is the US Veterans, US VETS. Our mission is to find homeless veterans, get them in temporary housing, get them into counseling, job training, job placement and permanent housing. This is a nationwide chapter. Our local one here was successful with this. It’s giving back to the community that way. Many people helped me in my life. It’s fortunate to meet these people, all the positive influences they gave to me. It also allowed me to, because of the amount of work I’ve spent many years in law enforcement and retiring as a homicide detective.

Be kind and give back any way you can. Click To Tweet

I’m sure you’ve got some stories there too.

Some of them. I’ve also got a book out called Wishman because the movie is based on a true story. If you go to the movies and you see based on a true story, Hollywood likes to embellish it a little bit. The book is a true story. It has some adventures back when I was a motorcycle officer that is in that book, some sad, some funny.

It sounds like it’s a nice compliment to the movie. They want to get the book and to go see the movie because there are somewhat different, is that right?

Yeah. The book is available on Amazon. It’s called Wishman. You can also find out information on my website, WishMan1.com.

We’ll see if we can drive some people to US VETS to make some donations in your name so that we can continue to serve you.

I appreciate that. Also, we got approved another nonprofit that we started. A gentleman out in Las Vegas, Randy Sutton, a close friend. He’s a retired Las Vegas Metro Police lieutenant. A lot of people think when a police officer is injured in the line of duty that the city, county, state, wherever they work for taking care of them, take care of their hospital bills, takes care of their wages until they go back to work, which is not true. He uses his own insurance. He has to use his own sick time. When that sick time runs out, he uses a vacation time. When that runs out, many agencies throughout the United States say, “You don’t get paid anymore.” Even though he’s been injured in the line of duty, shot, stabbed, auto wreck, whatever it might be.

A lot of people don’t know that. What we’ve started, we got approved 501(c)3. It’s a new foundation called The Wounded Blue. What we’re going to do is we’re going to find all those officers nationwide, go in and take care of his salary until he can go back to work. We’re also developing a whole line of counselors throughout the United States that can go in and have private counseling with these officers. There are so many with PTSD-type syndromes. In fact in 2018, 156 officers committed suicide because they could not get counseling from their agencies. We’re going to offer that. It’s going to be private, not through the agency but right to that officer’s home to take care of that officer. I’m very happy to be a board member on the Board of Directors for this new foundation and another example of giving back.

TBT 74 | Be A Hero

Wish Man: Official: The Authorized Memoir of Frank Shankwitz

I hope that our audience will go check out those sites and will do what they can to support you in your efforts. I definitely will because those are two huge problems that we have in the United States. It’s great to have these foundations that can support those who have done so much to serve us.

I met a young lady in New York City. She’s one of the permanent cast members for Phantom of the Opera on the Chorus Lines. She is saying, “I want to do something to help the kids and I don’t know what.” I started thinking, “You’ve got the Chorus Lines, you know everything. How about going into the hospitals or so on and entertaining the kids?” She started a foundation. I’m glad to be an advisory board member on that called Broadway Hearts. What they do is they get several of the cast members do mall shows around New York City and they go into the hospitals, especially the Ronald McDonald Homes and entertain the kids with dancing, singing, a lot of the Disney type songs that the kids love. This has only been established now for about six months and already having people saying, “How do we get a chapter in my city like Chicago or LA or San Francisco, where the big theater groups are?” The kids love it. It’s a great idea. It’s another example of giving back.

She is doing it with skills and the access to resources that she has and we all have access to some resources, even if it’s the ability to clean up somebody’s yard. Whatever resources we have access to, it’s incredible if we can gather them up and use them for the greater good.

If you don’t have that money to give back, your time is sometimes a lot more valuable than money.

I know that you were separated from your father at a young age. I don’t know if that’s in the movie. How did that influence you as being a giver do you think?

It wasn’t my idea to be separated from my father. My mother was a little bit strange. I’ve learned that having a strange mother helps develop characters. I have so many father figures, especially in this little town of Seligman, a gentleman named Juan Delgadillo, who became my father figure. He taught me things that I had never had anybody teach me how to build things, how to take care of myself. He got me involved with sports, got me involved with music and everything else. He taught that work ethic and the biggest thing is to help somebody out when you can. One of the lessons, when I started seventh grade my mother said, “I can’t afford you anymore,” and left me on my own. “What do I do now?” Juan was the one that said, this is a very popular term now but not then, is how to turn the negatives into positives. I said, “Juan, what are you talking about? I’m homeless right now.”

When I worked as a dishwasher, I started washing full-time at ten years old and he said, “You make $26 a week by washing dishes. I know you had to give all that money to your mother. I’ve arranged for you to live with Widow Sanchez.” I will try to help out and she’s helping me for $20 a week. “For the first time, you’re going to have $6 extra in your pocket,” which I’d never had before. “Also, for the first time you’re going to have your own bedroom and you’re going to have your own bathroom,” because we lived in a little trailer without any type of plumbing. She’s the best cook in town. She’s got the first television in town. Those are all those positives that came from that negative. I remember that lesson my whole life. We all have hiccups in our life. How to take care of that, how to turn that hiccup into a positive. The biggest thing is never feel sorry for yourself. You’re hungry, you get a little something to eat. That’s a whole lot more than nothing to eat. Be always grateful for everything that happens in your life.

Just talk to people. The biggest thing is asking someone what was going on and what her story was. Click To Tweet

I like that I’m a big person around words and how our words have a different energy. The words that we use can make a big difference. The word that you use when you say hiccup is much better of a word than even a challenge or a problem or anything that’s even heavier than that. It makes it seem like it’s something you can get over. A hiccup goes away. I like that language. It’s supportive also of turning those positives into a negative.

I delivered a commencement address to St. Norbert College and I used that word hiccup. I met so many students afterward and they said, “I love that. I never thought about that.” What you said, we can cure a hiccup.

It passes quickly. I’m definitely going to use that one as well. You should never feel sorry for yourself. I’m a big one with that too is I believe that we can always compare ourselves to someone that has more. There’s always someone that has less as well. When we choose which one we want to compare to and be grateful that we have what we have, there’s always somebody who has less or has a more difficult time than we do.

All you have to do is walk around or drive around and see examples and be thankful for everything that you have.

This movie is coming out. This was your wish you said several years ago. Now that this wish is coming true, what’s your next wish?

I’ve got to keep wishing. I’m involved with so many projects. I retired in 2014 from the state police. I had no jobs. I’m looking in a classified ad for a retired homicide detective because I don’t want to sit around. There was nothing. I’m fortunate to get involved with this movie production, which has led now to others, been asked to be involved with other productions like TV documentaries, TV shows, specials, maybe even another movie not involving with me but another person. It’s given me a whole new career. My wish is to stay active. That’s definitely going to keep me active.

You’re also a keynote speaker, is that correct?

TBT 74 | Be A Hero

Be A Hero: Turn the negatives into positives.


Yes, that’s very flattering. Through the mentoring of some people, in 2016 Forbes identified me as the number one keynote speaker in the nation. On a plane, it seems like every week, every other week to some speaking events, a lot of corporate events, corporate speaking now, how to advance your brand, how to give back by advancing your brand. It seems to go well with the corporate groups. I’m fortunate on that. I have a manager, Stephanie, who lives in Iowa. She’s always got me book somewhere.

That wish will come true because it’s coming true because you’ll be in high demand because I believe that things come back to you and you can see you’re involved in some fantastic organizations. You’re doing some great things. Is there anything else that you want to say about the movie that’s being released, Wish Man, that you think people will be interested in or that you wanted to share?

There are about fifteen states that the movie is going in. It’s an inspirational movie based on almost like Rudy or Blindside, how to basically give back, how to help people out. We’ve had a lot of positive reviews on pre-screenings through critics, etc. It’s a low-budget independent movie. I can’t believe how we made that movie, the production team and some great actors in there. A young actor that plays me in my mid-30s, Andrew Steel from Australia, this is his first US role. This man works so hard on this. He spent almost a year and a half with me back and forth flying from Hollywood to Northern Arizona where I live, going over accents, going over dialogue. We had to send him to motorcycle training. We had to send him to weapons training, everything to knock out this role. I call him kid because to me he’s a kid. He worked so hard on this. He did a knock-off performance. In October 2018, there was an awards show. We were nominated as one of the pictures for the best inspirational movie. It wasn’t even the theaters yet. We won the award along with him being the new inspirational actor. It gave us a little bit of credibility even though we weren’t in theaters yet.

I’ve seen the preview of the film. I’m involved as an executive producer. It is an amazing film. For our audience, you want to find a way that you can see it, whether it’s in the theaters, ask your theater whether they’re going to have it because that may encourage more theaters to take it on because it is an independent film. Look for it also on digital format. It’s going to be also released internationally. There are a lot of tears. There’s a lot of laughter and great acting as you said. Andrew Steel did a wonderful job and so did all the other actors. Anything else that sticks out in terms of a moment in the film that brought even you to tears?

I was going to bring that up. We’re on our third day of filming and my role as a consulting producer and a technical advisor, I work with a script supervisor. Every morning, we’d be usually about the first ones on set. I was going over the lines for the day, going over the costumes, going over everything to make sure when the cast and crew got there that we’re ready to roll. A lovely young lady of named Kennedy Del Toro, about the third day in the morning, she grabbed me, hugged me and starts crying “Kennedy, what’s wrong?” She said, “I’m a Wish child.” I’ve got tears in my eyes. The crew comes on. We’re telling this story. Everybody’s got tears in their eyes. Her wish when she was fourteen was to go to film school for the actress and so on. She was too old to do it. At age seventeen, she went into remission. They sent her to a Hollywood for the schools. Because of that, all of a sudden she became a script supervisor and working all over the place. It’s much fun having this young lady, a Wish child. Talk about a full circle that we’re doing a movie about me and having a Wish child help produce it. We stay in touch all the time. Hopefully, she’s going to be at the Hollywood premiere.

Any other key moments that stood out for you during the filming?

There are so many. It’s surreal to sit there and watch movies being made about yourself. It’s a little embarrassing. It’s flattering. These actors that were in this were so good. I’m sitting there with a little bit of tears in my eyes on the scene. I said, “That’s me that they’re portraying.” I’m so engrossed in what the acting is. There’s a scene when son meets father for the first time after years and years with Bruce Davison and Andrew Steel. There are very few words spoken but the acting on that, you’ve got to bring a box of Kleenex for that one scene. These gentlemen are so good in their profession and what they’re doing.

Your time is a lot more valuable than money. Click To Tweet

You don’t need a lot of words to convey a lot of emotion.

To watch these actors on the set and working so hard when they talk about sixteen-hour days. In-between takes, everybody that was cast members are studying their scripts. They’re not horsing around or playing, but they’re studying the scripts for the scene. We have Tom Sizemore playing there. We were filming in the Court House Square, all grass and everything. It’s very beautiful with the big trees, nice and cool. He’s always carrying a football because he had quite a career in high school and college. Injuries prevented him from going to the Pros. He started to throw a football around a little bit. Some of the kids around town saw that he’s playing football with the kids throwing around. All of a sudden, they’ve got a crowd around there. The local people are loving the interaction with these actors, with these children around town.

Thank you so much for being here, Frank. You’re a wonderful example of giving. One last question, bringing it back to how we can be more productive and the element of how it comes back to that, how do you think that contribution impacts our ability to be more productive, happier and healthier?

It’s a feel-good thing. I stress that you don’t have to have money to give back. It’s a little labor intensive. My wife and I have a mile that we clean up litter on, a dedicated mile. Going out there and clean up the mile, but as we’re doing that a little bit labor intensive, it’s in a rural area that we live in, cars going by beeping horn, waving. The thank you makes you that feel good thing. There are many other ways to help out. One of the examples is with US VETS, our local chapter, we did a drive for all things toilet paper and soap. You never think about that and what the costs are on that. We had a little drive. People go to the local Walmart or Costco, whatever it might be, and spring in all this over. Look what they did on costs on that big deal. You’re spending $14. You get the whole community doing something like that. Many corporations’ events that are brand by getting the media involved, just not writing a check but doing something big. One of them was we had a vehicle wrapped with the US VETS donated by. We’re quite away from Phoenix but the local Phoenix press and TV stations even picked that up to advance that brand for that company that did that. There are many ways from major to minor.

We need more good news, Frank. We need more good news the people are talking about.

My wife is very involved with the United Animals, they rescue the animals, take care of them, get funds, adopt them out, foster them out. It’s so much involved.

To the people who are going to see Wish Man, they’re going to see how you met your wife, isn’t that true?

TBT 74 | Be A Hero

Be A Hero: Hearing “Thank you” makes you feel good.


Yes, but I think it’s the other way around.

What we talked about that you can see that there’s so much involved in the film. Thank you so much for being here. I am grateful and looking forward to the premier and also the release of this movie. One of your wishes is also going to be to get this movie out to as many people as possible. I’m going to do my best to support you in doing that. Here’s what I say that time is not an impact around your productivity. I say time never was and never will be a measure of your productivity. There was a study done at the University of Pennsylvania. They had two groups of people and basically, they measured their levels of stress, the stimuli, how they felt about time. They took that baseline.

One group, they gave them back time. They took away responsibilities that they had during the week so that they can have more time to do things that they wanted to do. The other group, they got community service. In reality, they were given more to do so they had less time to themselves. They went about doing this. They brought them back in to study the hormone levels and go through the questionnaires again about how much stress they felt, how they felt about time and so forth. Interesting enough, the group who was given back their time did not feel any more satisfied. They were still as stressed and felt like they didn’t have enough time in their life. Interesting enough, even more so was the group that was given community service. They had less stress. They felt better about the time that they had. They had more to do.

I want you to see that time never was and never will be a measure of our productivity. It has little to do with it because it’s how we show up for the time that we have. It’s how much of ourselves we bring to that time and also the attitude that we bring in. When we’re in an attitude of gratitude and we’re out there serving others and focusing out on other people, we are also feeling better about ourselves. We’re feeling happier and more fulfilled. That has an impact on how productive we feel and also what it is that we accomplish with the time that we do have available to work on things that are important to us.

Take that note and go out. Frank has given us a number of different links so that you can donate some money or time to the police, to veterans, to children in hospitals and to these different groups that are out there. If you don’t have the time and you don’t have the money that you can do, you can definitely find something that’s in your wheelhouse and resources that you have access that you can help. Even if it’s your neighbor, whether it’s any group of people or animals, whatever is in your heart, search in your heart for what matters to you and who you can best support and make it a regular thing that you can do.

It’s also a great thing to do as a family. We as a family, we go support the SPCA because my kids love animals. They are saddened that there are animals who are left out, don’t have a place to go and often are sent to these kill shelters. We support in that way. We support a number of other different charities as well. Look together to see how you can do it as a family, how you can do it as an individual, and how this will make a difference in bringing more fulfillment to your life and to the lives of others. Thanks for reading. We’ll see in the next episode.

Important Links:

About Frank Shankwitz

TBT 74 | Be A HeroFrank Shankwitz is a public speaker, movie producer/advisor, and philanthropist on the board of several Non-For-Profit organizations.

Frank Shankwitz is best known as the creator and a founder of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, an extraordinary charity that grants the wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses. From humble beginnings, the Make-A-Wish Foundation is now a global organization that grants a child’s wish somewhere in the world on an average of every 28 minutes.

Frank spent his career as an Arizona Police officer and after retiring as a detective, he is still serving police nationwide through a new charity called The Organization is called Wounded Blue to support officers with physical injuries and emotional and psychological trauma.


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Don’t Let Networking Waste Your Time with James Evanow

TBT 72 | Networking


Networking and building relationships with the right people takes time to nurture. How do manage our time so we are not wasting time dealing with the wrong people? James Evanow, one of the top trainers in leadership and emotional intelligence in the field of adventure, sales, and motivation, talks about the importance of time in networking and building relationships with the right people. He reveals the three things that are vital in networking so you can be 100% efficient in making use of your time and energy in getting the key people around you to build your circle of influence.

Listen to the podcast here:

Don’t Let Networking Waste Your Time with James Evanow

I’m super excited to have a good friend and also an amazing speaker, coach and leader with us, James Evanow. James is one of the top trainers in leadership and emotional intelligence in the field of adventure sales and motivation. He delivers amazing thought-provoking presentations that has everyone touched in the room and creating some great awareness around the limitations that are holding them back. After twenty years of business experience combined with two decades as a sea captain, that’s my favorite part, James is telling his story and coaching around the ability to make major shifts in your life. Welcome, James.

Thank you, Penny.

We’re going to talk about some sales. One of the things you have in your bio is adventure sales and motivation. When we think about taking back time, I want to focus on how we can be more productive and use our time and energy in a much more effective way when we’re selling. Today’s sales environment feels like we’re bombarded all the time. We’re selling and selling. You can’t even go to a presentation anymore without being sold to. What’s your take on that?

I had the honor of sharing the stage with Les Brown and we talked in the green room about that a little bit before I went on. I was lucky to get twenty minutes with Les and I was so honored. I want to bring up what he told me because when we’re talking about taking back time, it’s a great way to say how do we deal with the time management of our lives? It’s all relative. It doesn’t matter. We’ve got X amount of time in our life, X amount of time to reach our goals and to make things happen. Being 100% efficient with that time is obviously the goal. Les said he’s a little dismayed with where the speaking industry has gone with the sales part of it.

Selling on stage. Sometimes they call it a pitch fest. You go to these things, you get one tip and you get pitched ten times.

There are a lot of really good products out there and a lot of really great trainers, teachers, mentors and vendors. At the same time, it’s nice to be able to take in a message and be able to absorb it without feeling you’re going to be attacked. I do believe there’s a trend. How is it relative with taking back time? Number one, you’re at an event that you’ve paid money to go to and you’re sacrificing your time to go to that event to get knowledge. You don’t get any knowledge out of that event except the fact that you can buy something for 20% of what the actual price is according to them, the perceived value, I love that term. Perceived by whom? I’m spending my time to go sit down and listen to these people and if I’m coming out of there with a bunch of brochures and flyers on how to be able to spend my hard-earned money to get knowledge, then that’s not a good use of my time. I don’t consider that a good use.

You should be able to walk away from something like that, something actionable that doesn’t need you. You can always go onto something else, but that you can take action from that.

We need to look at the overall picture of what we really want to have in life. Click To Tweet

I’ve gone to two events and I will promote them because they should be promoted. One was the Author Millionaire Weekend with Greg Jacobsen. He hosted that event. There were probably seven speakers and there was no pitching going on. Maybe one person, but it was very enjoyable. Jack Canfield spoke. I can honestly say it was one of the first times that I’ve been to an event where I came out of there feeling clean, for lack of a better word. The other one was the event we did at the Tower Theater again with Les Brown. It was 100% quality. We all have to make money and we have to build our businesses. If we get the opportunity to speak on a stage, which we all want that opportunity to be able to market our wares, then is there a proper way to do that? Of course, there is.

Let’s talk about that in the context of not speaking, that’s something that has become obvious, especially to us because we attend these events and we speak at these events. I see that across any types of sales platform, anybody who is selling and connecting with people. What are some ways that people who are selling can be more efficient and effective in their sales process and not leave people feeling they want to resist?

I like to use two examples for people that are into the cultural awareness piece. I know there’s a term for this but I can’t remember it. There’s a movie called Glengarry Glen Ross with some great actors: Ed Harris, Jack Lemmon and Alec Baldwin. If you’ve never seen that movie and you want a great example, go to YouTube and look up Glengarry Glen Ross. Watch the clip when Alec Baldwin goes in to talk to the sales team of realtors, and it’s a rainy night. It’s an excellent talk. It’s a great use of your time to watch that clip. You’re going to see what I consider to be the old way of selling.

The other side of that would be to look at somebody maybe a little bit more on the spiritual world. Let’s say it’s Eckhart Tolle. How are they selling his products? It’s a 180-degree turn. It’s absolutely the opposite direction. I prefer the latter of the two personally because number one, I’m busy and I don’t want to get spam on my email. I don’t want to be getting constantly bombarded with marketing materials. I want a value presentation and maybe it’s an email once a month or whatever that looks like. I can look at this product and I can say, “This is something I’m interested in,” but it’s using this constant. I don’t know what people are thinking when they do that. Honestly, I don’t know anybody that I know that likes the way that some of these people market. I’ve been taught that that’s how you do it. We’ve all been told that.

I’ve seen people getting up and walking out of events because they don’t want to be sold to that way anymore. They’re tired of it. Is that a good use of your time to be getting constantly bombarded and distracted away from your goals, opening up emails? If you’re on Facebook or Instagram, it looks like you’re constantly getting these ads and I don’t know about you, but I got away from regular TV. I do have Netflix and I love to watch quality programming, but I don’t want the commercials. I don’t get it anymore. If I want it, I’ll do a search and I’ll find a product. I feel that we’ve entered into a new time whether the younger people are coming up through the ranks and they’re saying no to this or it’s got so overwhelming, like an avalanche. It keeps coming off this constant bombardment. This movement went up for at least a decade.

It’s gotten way worse. If you’ve got direct TV, you go through the commercials. If you’re on social media, there’s a ton of advertising. Even if I didn’t sign up for the newsletter, somehow I’m on their newsletter and all of that. I find it intrusive. I’m not happy with it.

Look at the flipside of the coin. Maybe somebody in your audience is doing this. How are your sales going? That’s a valid point I would say that if you don’t sell that way, are you going to be able to sell anything? Are you going to be able to get any type of return on your time if you’re on stage and speaking? Are you going to reap any benefits of any sales of anything? I have a program that I launched. I can get to any station and pump that out but what I preferred to do is put a link on a PowerPoint slide. Let them look at that. If they want it, they’re going to call me rather than play some head trip on somebody in the audience. That’s my outlook on it. There might be people in the audience that are doing that and having great success with it.

TBT 72 | Networking

Networking: People get up and walk out of events because they don’t want to be sold in that way anymore.


They must be teaching it because there’s some part of success about it. Let’s talk about what are some positive ways that people can use their time wisely? Let’s say I’m a salesperson. Whatever it is, whether I’m selling on stage or I’m selling a widget. You talk to audiences around sales? How can I better use my time? What are two or three tips that you can say, “Here’s what you’re doing that isn’t working, the biggest mistakes people are making around sales. Here’s what you can do to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of what you’re doing.”

I’m more than happy to answer that because I’m thinking what you’re asking is, why is my opinion valid? Whoever’s reading to this, why would they want to learn from me? I can offer up this. I grew up in a very blue-collar hardcore background. I fished for 25 years. I was commercial fishing captain. It was a very rough lifestyle. The people in the fishing industry, there’s a saying, “The cowboys kept going West until they fell off the edge of the Earth and they became fishermen.” It is still a very black and white industry where people will tell you what they think of you. There’s not a lot of surface gloss or that type of thing. With that said, I grew up underneath a very aggressive serial entrepreneur, my father. He wasn’t your average commercial fisherman. He built a small fishing empire. He had a seafood processing facility, four boats, two seafood restaurants, a fleet of trucks and 150 employees. He did this at an eight-year period.

I get to see somebody that has an endless supply. There weren’t restrictions on anything at that time or limits on how much fish you could catch. It was more of a cyclical thing where some years there would be not very many crabs and some years there would be piles of crabs. It’s what he did with that and how he approached his clients. That’s how I grew up, honest-type relationship building aspect. He collected cards, but he made a point to connect with his customers. The word I would like to use would be a very connected way. It wasn’t over the top. That was his approach. What I’ve seen is when you’re going to networking events, I was flying all over the country going to these events, meeting people, it seems like a whirlwind.

You get done and you’ve got a stack of cards where you’re like, “There’s that person, there’s this person.” If you’re in your local situation like I live in Bend, Oregon, there’s a ton of networking here. I go to some of these networking events. What I started to realize is that it’s more of a frantic type approach to sales where people think they’re going to get all this business if they’re there, if they show up. You’d have to take it deeper than that. You have to nurture your relationship and it takes time to nurture these relationships. You can’t just go and try to sell somebody and more or less vomit on them.

Which is what happens at these networking events. I can tell you that I almost never hear back from anybody from those events. I actually stopped going to them years ago because of the same thing. I couldn’t possibly follow up. I’d rather have a couple of core partners that I’m building a relationship with and really targeted because then I know that we’re going to be a good fit together. I’m going to be able to provide value to them and they’re going to be able to provide value to me. I totally know what you mean. It’s almost like the Facebook effect. Everybody thinks just because you’re connected or friends on Facebook, therefore we have a connection, which no, you don’t. I met you at a networking event and we liked each other. It has to go forward beyond that. Otherwise, it’s superficial and it isn’t going to create any business.

Seriously speaking, there’s an illusion. We’re living in a very illusory society and people are fulfilling their significance by being on social media. They get a feeling of significance that needs to be met. That’s a feeling of connection. This is a lot of what I talk about on my coaching, the six human needs. A lot of people have heard of that. I want to go back to the part I was talking about how I grew up as a fisherman and I transitioned out of that into the mortgage industry. Commercial fishing is not really sales. Although we had the fish company, I wasn’t in sales with the fish company but they sold hundreds of thousands of tons of fish and they did a fabulous job of doing national marketing.

When I made the transition off the water into the mortgage industry, that was a culture shock for me. It was a whole different approach. I found out after going to copious training and seminars and events, there are a lot of really good people out there who are very successful. One of the best approaches is to build that circle of influence. You need to get your key people around you and build those relationships. Now you’re in a position where the referrals are starting to happen and you’ve basically planted a seed that’s going to continue to grow in a very fortuitous manner. At the end of the day, what are you doing with your time? Are you just going to networking events? Where I live, there are people here with money and people here with not much money and there are very few in between. The people that are moving here and want to live here, they want to enjoy the quality of life, but they’re out there trying to get money from other people that don’t have money.

If you don't get on board with the big corporations, there's a chance you're going to go out of business. Click To Tweet

It was a very noticeable thing where there’s a lot of frustration. There’s a lot of time being put in that is a waste of time. When we’re talking about taking back time, that’s something for people to look at. Where’s your target market really at? What are you really focusing on? Set that goal and stay in your lane. Try to work towards that goal. It all depends on follow-up and what kind of quality are you bringing to these people? In a nutshell, if you can master those three things: relationship with a clear target, follow-up and building those relationships, that’s a good use of your time.

Define that circle of influence, those people who are really your target market and that you can deliver high value to. Identify them and follow-up. The biggest mistake that people make is they contact people once or not even at all and it’s done.

It sounds corny but the handwritten notes, things as simple as that. Sending a small gift to people and slowing down in this fast-paced lifestyle that we have where it is frantic. I call it the hamster on the wheel, running and you’re moving forward, but not really much. We have a society where we have to be realistic about what’s happening in this country, if not the world. You’re going to get yours and you get shoved to the side. I use a lot of metaphors like this big ship going through this fleet of sport boats and running over sport boats. This big ship is making all the money and all the little boats are getting crushed or pushed out of the way. We have to admit that it’s happening in the farming industry, it’s happening in a lot of different industries where if you don’t get on board with the big corporations, there’s a chance you’re going to go out of business.

I know that for a fact because I’ve talked to groups of farmers that are feeling that they need to keep upgrading. This continual pressure is being put on us. The funny part is that the younger people don’t want any part of that. They don’t want to get up at 4:00 AM and go milk the cows. They want to work from 8:00 to 5:00 and they want to travel. All of my young adult children travel ten times more than I ever thought of traveling. I questioned that at first as being irresponsible, but I started looking at it and maybe they’re looking at me, their parents and people that are our age, maybe we wasted our time doing these things. There’s a balance there obviously.

Americans are becoming more like Europeans. Europeans have always traveled and have always valued vacation, and there are also farmers. I think that the younger generation, they look at life differently. They have more of a sense of purpose, of community and they want to have experiences. They want to see the world. They value different things than our parents valued. That’s all good. That’s how cultures change, societies develop and opportunities are created as well from understanding what the generations are looking for. When you’re building those relationships, bringing it back to relationships, you need to know what is valuable to people. If you have something that you think is great and it’s great quality, but others have perceived value, that means people have to perceive what you’re offering is valuable to them. Otherwise, they’re going to look elsewhere or they’re going to disconnect.

The last thing I want to have happened in my life on this planet is to be that grouchy old dude that’s upsetting towards young people. We all saw that growing up. I don’t want to be that guy. I try to listen. I’m very aware of the mentality of young people. It’s easy to put them all in a box and say, “You’re a Millennial.” I know for a fact that a lot of younger people in their twenties, they don’t want that label, “Don’t put me in that group.” I’ve got a couple of nephews that are in their late twenties and they’re killing it in sales. They both went through university and they’re out grabbing life. You see so many people that aren’t. You can’t judge.

That’s every generation.

TBT 72 | Networking

Networking: Plant a seed that’s going to continue to grow in a very fortuitous manner.


They’re definitely being labeled and there’s the advent of other things like legalization of pot. There are things happening in our culture that are way different than they a couple of years ago. We’re evolving and things are constantly changing. When we’re talking about taking back time, I think another relevant point is that you got an X amount of time. As far as I’m concerned, at least in younger people I know, they’re spending a lot more time embracing the quality of life and saying, “I’m going to do this. I’m going to save up X amount of money into a vacation fund to go on a trip, if not two a year.” I didn’t do that. I raised three kids. I worked and that’s the other side of the equation. I don’t think having children is a big of a priority as I grew up.

Taking back time is doing with your time the things that are most important to you. For some people, it might be a family and for others, it might be travel or whatever it is. It’s being able to be in control. The World Health Organization has declared stress as a worldwide epidemic. It’s finding out what it is that’s creating so much stress for us and deciding that we’re going to do things differently, that we’re going to approach things differently. It could be that it’s a mindset thing. It could be the environment that we’re placing ourselves into. It’s controlling your environment, controlling your mind and controlling your body. If we’re not taking care of our body, obesity is a problem and that can create a lot of challenges too.

I’ll be 60. I don’t feel 60 because I’ve done a pretty good job of staying healthy. I feel much younger than that. I remember when I was in my twenties thinking, “I wonder what it will be like when I’m 60.” Honestly, I feel I did that as far as my activity level. I’ve always worked pretty hard. There had been a time when you’re a commercial fisherman and you’re at sea, you get up before daylight and you work until after daylight. It’s the way it is and it’s a way of life. In the mortgage industry, I did the same thing. That might be construed as a workaholic or somebody that’s obsessive with working, but I truly believe you need to have that energy in your body to be able to deal with this.

I know a lot of people are like, “I can’t work that long. That’s going to wipe me out.” Maybe there’s something to look at there. Everything’s relative when it comes to time. We have X amount of time. There’s another thing that I love that I picked up when I was going through these mortgage seminars back in the day, whenever you have a new venture and you’re going into anything, you have to go 90 days hard. It’s called the 90-day burn. I’ve done a couple of hundred 90-day burns. I think I even did a 360-day burn. Sometimes, we have to go that extra mile. We have to put that extra time in. If you’re worn out, you’re drinking too much, smoking too much and that goes for pot as well, you’re not going to have that energy.

It’s important to look at that and say, “How bad do I really want this? How badly do I want to succeed life where is it better to just lay on the couch and watch Netflix?” There is a choice. All you have to do is go to your class reunion and take a look around. What do you want out of life? Where do you want to get at the end of your life? I used this and I’ve had a couple of people say, “It’s harsh.” I don’t think it’s harsh at all, but if you picture yourself at your celebration of life or your funeral, picture yourself there, you have the luxury of being able to stand there and listen to what people are saying. What do you want them to say? What do you want to hear those people are saying about you? That’s truly your destiny. There’s your answer because you can still achieve that in your lifetime, but you can’t achieve it if you’re lethargic, you’re not using your time efficiently and you’re not pushing your boundaries out to where you need to push them and get out of your comfort zone. Let’s face it, over 90% of small businesses fail in the first year. That’s because they didn’t have a solid business plan. Their passion was there but they didn’t have any structure to what they’re doing and they fizzled out.

At the end of the day, focus on the right thing if we were to circle back and bring it back to sales because new businesses are going to survive through cashflow for making sales. It’s focusing on the right things, building those relationships and delivering the value to the people who are going to add the most value to.

I don’t know how many people I’ve met but it’s a ton and I can probably name the people on both hands on all my fingers that were professional-looking and looked like they had it dialed in. They’ve taken that extra initiative to make themselves look professional. Their social media, their branding, all of that stuff is so important because it’s relevant with taking back time. If you’re out there doing things that you look unprofessional, how are you going to get any sales?

Watch out for negative people. If somebody’s rocking your boat, you need to throw them over the side. Click To Tweet

You’re wasting your time.

I do have a team that I work with to help entrepreneurs get to that next level at a very affordable manner and all you have to do is check me out. If you want to contact me, go to JamesE360.com. All of my information is right there. You can connect with me but I love seeing entrepreneurs that are focused on picking up their game, standing up and stepping out and doing the things that most people aren’t willing to do because those are the people that are going to make it.

One last thing I want to say is that I use a metaphor in my presentations. I like to look at it like we’re vessels that have been placed on this planet when we’re born. Our vessel is placed on this planet and our souls were poured into that vessel. The question I have for the audience is what is your vessel doing? Which direction is it heading? Is it sitting in the doldrums, sitting tied to the docks, sitting on an anchor? Are you actually on a goal heading somewhere? What does the bottom of your haul look like on your boat? Is it covered with barnacles or is it clean and sleek so you’re moving at a pace towards that goal? All of this stuff is pertinent because we need to look at the overall picture of what we want to have in our life. How are we embracing this time on this planet?

What are we doing to make sure that we’re getting there faster? Take care of that vessel because that vessel is the vehicle that’s getting us there. I like that metaphor.

Back when I was fishing, if you didn’t take care of your boat and your equipment, you don’t catch anything. It’s relative as far as sales and business as well. The other thing is negative people. If you’ve got negative people holding you back, the person not rowing the boat has the ability to rock the boat. If somebody’s rocking your boat, you need to throw him over the side.

It’s like pulling an anchor, dragging an anchor. It’s going to take a lot longer to get there.

Watch out for negative people, take them back to town, take them back to safe harbor and let them sit there in their complacency and pick lint out of their belly button.

TBT 72 | Networking

Networking: 90% of small businesses fail in the first year because they didn’t have a solid business plan.


James, let’s give people an address where they can contact you and reach you after the show.

If you go to JamesE360.com, you’ll find some videos of me there. You’ll find all my websites are there. The website with the entrepreneurial advantages that’s PaceYourSelf.biz. You can find all of that on that 360 site. I put all of my information into one website.

Thank you so much for being here.

Thank you.

Thank you all for reading. I know we went with the seas with our captain. We talked about a lot of different things. This is about your success and what you’re focused on, what you need to be focused on in order to reach your goal faster. Stop wasting time and start focusing on adding value, on connecting with the right people and following up and taking care of yourself in that process. Thanks for being here. Take some notes, act on those notes and we’ll see you in the next episode.

Important Links:

About James Evanow

TBT 72 | NetworkingJames Evanow is one of the top trainers in leadership and emotional intelligence in the field of adventure, sales, and motivation.

After 20 years of business experience combined with two decades of being a sea captain, James’ storytelling ability, using humor and life and death situations help you better understand your challenges and limitations and make better choices.


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Emi Kirschner on Take Back Time With Better Project Management: Zoho Project Management

TBT 71 | Project Management Tools


Project management, planning, and communications are so important to our success. They are what a lot of entrepreneurs have great challenges with that having the right tools, the right mindset, and focus is vital. Emi Kirschner is an expert in these areas. She helps creative entrepreneurs and visionary leaders build their businesses and make the impact they want to make while also doubling their revenue. In this episode, Emi gives her take on project management tools and does a technical review of Zoho Projects. Find out why she thinks it’s the number one project management tool.

Listen to the podcast here:

Emi Kirschner on Take Back Time With Better Project Management: Zoho Project Management

I am super excited to talk about project management, planning and communications because this is so important to our success. It is something that a lot of entrepreneurs have great challenges with, having the right tools and the right mindset and focus. I know this is going to be a great show for you. Not only that, but I have a dear friend and an amazing individual. She’s an investor, a serial entrepreneur, a coach and an international speaker. I only hang out with high achievers. Emi Kirschner is here with us. She really masterfully brings her deep intuitive abilities and her analytical sense to help creative entrepreneurs and visionary leaders to build their businesses and make the impact that they want to make while also doubling their revenue. She’s an expert in creating and implementing strategic long-term plans, increasing productivity and performance while reducing stress, increasing sales and building leadership. She also teaches young people between the seventh and twelfth grade how to write their business plans and pitch to investors. Emi, welcome to the show.

Thank you. That was the best intro. It takes two great minds to be super excited about project management.

We know it’s important. We’re going to do some technical review of Zoho Projects and other types of project management tools as well as get into some of your brainchild around that whole thinking process.

I’m excited because I’ve probably used four or five different project management tools. They are all helpful for me, works the way my head does. It’s so much easier to manage multiple projects and big projects, and some that have timeframes and some of the ongoing things that every month we’re doing a different set of tasks for.

Let’s talk about that. You’ve used a couple of different project management tools. What kind of tools have you used so that people can understand? What are some of the other tools out there?

We’ve used Asana. I think it’s called Monday but they’re using a different name now. I like Zoho better. We used Trello, which is great at least for me for simple things. My team and I, our planning is far too complex for it to manage effectively. We used Freedcamp for a while. I’m pretty sure there’s something else out there. We’ve played around and looked at a lot of different tools when we finally moved to Zoho Projects. It was through that trial and error too, “This one’s great but it doesn’t do X, Y, and Z. This one’s great, but it doesn’t work for my head.”

What were the top things that you were looking for when you were going through and trialing? Granted to those out there, you might be looking for something different. I don’t want to say you have to do it this way, but I find it fun to pick apart other people’s brains to see what’s important to you.

I’m going to also add too that there’s no good or bad here. For me, it’s about finding the thing that works for you. One, there had to be a comfort level with all of our team members. When we were looking at this, I have four people on my team, two of them were really young and it needed to be simple to use. People weren’t going to be reading instructions and watching a ton of videos on how to use this. It had to be relatively intuitive. Nothing against Asana but for me, it was more a glorified to-do list and I needed more than that. That’s what Zoho Projects does for me. It gives me an ability to manage the project and measure how we’re doing on the progress and see it in different views and different ways so that I know that we’re staying on track.

There’s some reporting on the dashboard that makes it easier. I can look at projects as a whole too, not just one project. We’ve got, at any given time, between four to ten things going on. It’s how we are doing as a whole because that’s what I’m looking at when I’m doing my monthly and quarterly planning. It’s not just this one thing. It’s not just my podcast. Are we getting all speakers in and materials and whatever else? Are we doing everything we need week-over-week, month-over-month?

That’s simplicity and being intuitive. Being able to measure progress was the second thing. Was there anything else that was important for you to make sure this tool can do for you?

We need to be able to store our documents, different graphics, different Word Docs, spreadsheets, whatever it goes with that project. A lot of project management tools do this too. I love Slack. We’re actually moving away from Slack a little bit and keeping more of the data files assigned to each project.

It gives you more structure. Is that why you’re moving away from Slack?

Yeah. When you get into the second or third revision of creating a social media graphic or anything else, it gets lost in Slack pretty easily. It’s tied into that one thing and it’s less searching.

There's no good or bad tool; it's really about finding the thing that works for you. Click To Tweet

Those are things that until you get further down with a lot of tools, you don’t see some of the challenges that could be there. That’s why we’re doing this, it’s to get people to be thinking of that ahead of time. It’s a great metaphor for anything that we do. It’s to be able to think a couple of steps ahead as to what might happen. It’s a scenario planning so that you can see how this strategy is going to pan out and what are the different ways that we might hit some challenges.

It’s nice too because the Reminder feature for Zoho Projects works the way I’m expecting it to. I’ve had things that were either difficult to set up or they didn’t send them at the time that I thought they were sending them. I get my reminders in a way that is timely for me, that makes sense for me, that I actually go and use. The biggest thing is that we use projects on the project management system far more effectively. There’s still a learning curve and things that we can do better, but I feel way more organized. I even have my personal stuff in there. There’s one project for all my personal things and we would sub-project all of those out.

You use projects and sub-projects. You break that project down into sub-projects. Would those sub-projects for you be like milestones or are they the granular sub-project or are they a cluster of milestones?

Some of them are milestones and some of them are groupings of tasks that need to be done together in order to contribute to the milestone.

We’ve got the document management on top of that, the Reminder function. Is there anything else that stands out that you said these are the reasons why Zoho is your number one project management tool?

This is silly, but I’m a color person and you can change some of the colors on how the data’s reported. That gives me extreme joy.

Go with joy. If it brings you joy, you should do it.

For those of you who are more creative, having some of that little stuff makes it fun. If it gives you the customized feeling, it’s helpful.

I know that Zoho and all these other programs have a free version and different paid versions. Are you using the basic functionality? Are you using the paid functionality?

We’re using paid because I need to have multiple users.

Is that the main difference between free and paid?

There are other features in there too. I don’t remember anymore. They have a really clear chart, which was always good for me too.

Do you use other Zoho Projects? I know they have other products. Do you use those and how do those integrate for you?

TBT 71 | Project Management Tools

Project Management Tools: We need to be able to store. A lot of project management tools do this.


We use Zoho Social for social media scheduling and we’re just setting up Zoho CRM. There’s some more interaction between Zoho Social and Zoho CRM where the contacts in my CRM will automatically be tied to the social media so that if people are commenting on a particular post and they’re in my CRM, that will get tagged. I’m not sure how it interacts with projects yet. We’re playing with it.

With the project side of things, do you use any other automation tools that are linked to that?

It’s standalone. I think we can tie it to Slack, but we haven’t done that. I’m sure there are some other integrations. I tend to want to always jump into like, “Let’s add all this stuff in.” I didn’t do that with projects this time. Let’s master doing this first and really get comfortable with seeing how the projects flow and what we can do to increase our performance. One, staying on deadline and two, mastering our time. That’s one of the things that was cool with this. The way I do my planning when I’m looking at a project or starting something new is to list out some of those tasks and assign them time values. I can play with that. I’m scheduling it into my calendar and you can track time and schedule time with projects too. I have a sense that it’s going to take me five hours or 30 hours or whatever and I can break that up into the weeks pretty effectively.

Within Zoho itself, you’re tracking time and scheduling time. Is it connected to your calendar?

It is not connected to my calendar. The way I set up my calendar is in the mornings, for the most part, I have what I call focused work time. That’s my time to get content creation or planning or whatever else needs to get done the work on the business piece more. Even though it’s generally a set time, that’s where I’m playing whether I’m going to work on this project and this project. Depending on where we are with which things we’re working on.

You come back and you report it in Zoho as to how much time you spend on that project?

Yeah, there’s a function where you can start the stopwatch and it will track your time for you. I don’t use that part. I think my assistant, May, because she’s tracking her time to bill me appropriately.

I want to say for people reading this, that’s huge. I would use that function if I was working with it because I think you could use it outside and in a separate tracker as well. If you’re managing all your projects there for people who don’t track their time, it’s important to get a sense of how long things take. In our mind, we think it only takes this much time when in reality, we have a warped sense of reality when it comes to time. It’s important to track that and you have your own mechanism to do that. You don’t use that timer but for people who are reading, if they’re going to engage in this, I highly recommend that they use that.

That is key because part of what I think creates overwhelm is that we do have this crazy warped sense of what we can get done and most people are still trying to fit 32 things that would normally take three months into two days. I get annoyed and frustrated and you didn’t even want to deal with anything because of that. I started like, “The only way to fix this is to acknowledge how long it takes me to do certain things.” I’ve tracked that. I have a ballpark of how long it takes to do any number of things. That way, I can budget that time in my calendar and it doesn’t mean that it’s not over by fifteen minutes or under by fifteen minutes, but it’s at least averaged out. I can then actually see what I’m doing during the day and the week and be like, “Don’t add 62 more things.” It simplifies it.

What I like to do, I don’t know if you do this, but it’s also to look at what percentage of time you’re spending in each of those categories. As an entrepreneur, we wear a lot of different hats. What percentage of the time are you spending on sales, on operations, on prospecting and marketing or social media? Whatever it is that you’re doing yourself because I find that I always had to take a step back and ask, “What percentage am I doing?” For me to reach my goals, what percentages do they need to be? By tracking your time, you can get those figures more accurately. Do you do that with percentages?

I don’t do the percentages, although now that you suggest that, I’m going to have to add that.

There you go. We’re all always learning.

I do know you want to be looking at the time you spend in what the return on investment is for each day so that you can shift and prioritize, “Is this thing going to actually get me the results to bring in more revenue?”

Know what you’re doing, what you need to get done, and be realistic with what you can accomplish in any given time. Click To Tweet

You want to focus on the right things and especially for the entrepreneurs. There are so many ways to be distracted in all of these different areas. If we don’t focus on the right things and the things that are driving revenue, we can easily find ourselves not making revenue.

Never mind forgetting to ask. You’re not even at the place to remember to ask.

Tell me, what else do we need to know about Zoho Projects?

I would say with any project management tool, plan on having a little bit of a learning curve. Even though I said it is fairly intuitive, it’s about what works for your brain and playing with it. What we did initially was we took two or three projects, put them in there, set them up and started working with them before we added everything else.

Use it to test it and see how it works for you. That’s an important thing. I want to highlight it again for our audience. They quickly take on an app and throw everything in it and it’s complicated. They haven’t thought about how they’re going to use it then all of a sudden, they’re not using it anymore because they didn’t plan it out. I love the fact that you’re saying plan on that learning curve and take time to identify how you’re going to use it and test it out and all of that. It’s so important.

It does have an app on your phone too. For me, I’ll remember something as I’m standing in the grocery store line. It’s super easy for me to add it in there instead of creating a note or something to remind myself. I think for me at least, it’s one of the best project management tools that I’ve used. I like the simplicity and the data too that it can provide. It frees up that headspace of, “What do I need to do? Where are we at?” All of those things.

What does that do for your sense of time management and everything?

It gives me a sense of freedom. I run a pretty tight schedule and I like that. That makes me happy. Some people might want to have more space in theirs and that’s totally okay. It frees up the, “Am I using my time effectively?” thought because I know what I’m doing, what we need to get done and being realistic with what we can accomplish in any given time.

Lastly, are you celebrating milestones? You said you’ve got this reporter and this tracker. I’m asking that because a lot of people don’t. A celebration is important to our momentum. It’s to step back and to see what we’ve learned and to apply what we’ve learned and also to celebrate our successes.

I can’t say that we have officially other than, “It worked.” We haven’t made it into a party or a game at this point.

It’s something to think about for you and our audience. How can you even up the energy by creating that momentum especially people like yourself, people like myself? I’m always off to the next thing. It’s always, “Next thing, done. Let’s go to the next thing.” That in itself provides some momentum, but step back and give yourself a little pat on the back. It doesn’t have to be a big party or anything, but some acknowledgment of extra celebration. I love when you go to Trader Joe’s and they ring the bell, it might be to get somebody’s attention to get something. I love that whole concept. Maybe there’s a little bell or one of those memes.

Give you a little happy dance?

Yeah, give yourself a moment and maybe you can automate that when something gets checked off that comes onto your screen and gives you a little happy dance. It’s a reminder that you’re moving forward and you’re going towards your goal.

TBT 71 | Project Management Tools

Project Management Tools: What creates overwhelm is that we have this crazy warped sense of what we can get done. Most people are trying to fit 32 things that would normally take three months into two days.


Both my assistant and I are super excited when we check stuff off the list. Even that, it’s a mini happy dance. We spend time reflecting. There’s a place where we can definitely up the ante there.

Emi, I’m sure there are people here who would love to connect with you outside of this show and hear more about what you’re doing and what you might be able to do for them. Where can they find more about you?

The best place is at TheTribeOfLeaders.com. I’m on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Emi Kirschner. I would love for people to come hang out and play with me in my Facebook community, The Tribe of Leaders.

Thank you so much for being here and sharing your wisdom and your thought process around how you’re managing your projects.

It’s my pleasure. It’s always fun to hang out with you.

Thank you all for being here because you got some important tips about Zoho Projects, which you might not have heard about before and you might have heard about some of those other tools like Asana and Trello. Basically, from what I’m hearing, it’s a glorified task list. I know that they haven’t been working for me because I used them for a little bit and I dropped them. I’m going to check out Zoho Projects and I think you should too.

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About Emi Kirschner

TBT 71 | Project Management ToolsInvestor, a serial entrepreneur, coach, and international speaker, Emi Kirschner, masterfully combines her deep intuitive abilities with her analytical sense to help creative entrepreneurs and visionary leaders build businesses that make an impact while doubling revenue.
She is an expert in:

  • Creating and implementing strategic, long term plans
  • increasing productivity and performance while reducing stress
  • Increasing sales by maximizing process and lead capture
  • Building leadership skills to create stronger communication among teams

Emi teaches at the Young Entrepreneur Academy where she teaches 7th-12th graders how to write a business plan and pitch to investors. She also sits on the Board of FemCity Philadelphia, one of the largest women’s business networking groups in the area. Currently, Emi lives outside of Philadelphia with her two entrepreneurial teenage boys and two dogs. A foodie and beach lover, Emi plans her extensive travel around where she will eat and can wear flip flops.


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Solving Business Communication Problems Through Hostage Negotiation Solutions with Chris Voss

TBT 70 | Negotiation


People, regardless of the situation they’re in, are wired the same in reacting to the fear of loss. Chris Voss, CEO of The Black Swan Group, has found this fear to be a driving decision-making influence, and he leverages this when it comes to negotiations. As a veteran lead international kidnapping negotiator for the FBI, Chris has brought hostage negotiation solutions to solving business communication problems. He tells us all about it, beginning with his journey from being a police officer to becoming a hostage negotiator. Chris’ book, Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended on It, takes you inside the world of high-stakes negotiations. He reveals the skills that helped him and his colleagues succeed where it mattered most – saving lives.

Listen to the podcast here:

Solving Business Communication Problems Through Hostage Negotiation Solutions with Chris Voss

I am super excited to have the famous Chris Voss with us. This guy is going to teach us something about communication in a very special way. Chris is the CEO of The Black Swan Group and the author of the national bestseller, Never Split The Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It, which was named one of the seven best books on negotiation. He’s a 24-year veteran of the FBI and he retired as the lead international kidnapping negotiator. He’s drawing on his experience in high-stakes negotiation, his company specializes in solving business communication problems using hostage negotiation solutions. Their negotiation methodology is focused on discovering the “Black Swans,” small pieces of information that have a huge effect on the outcome. He and his team have helped companies secure and close better deals, save money, solve international and internal communication problems. Chris, welcome to the show.

Thank you, Penny. I’m happy to be here. It’s an absolute pleasure.

In your bio, you talk about how you’re using your FBI experience to bring it into business. How do you make that bridge because you’re dealing with hostages?

It took me a long time to feel that it was going to happen but the bottom line, regardless of the circumstances, are wired the same. We react the same to fear of loss. Fear of loss is a driving decision-making influence whether you’re a terrorist or a teenager.

These techniques that you found, you can use these at home, you can use these at work, you can use them everywhere. Is that right?

Yeah, we’ve all got the same wiring. We’re all driven the same regardless of gender and ethnicity, as crazy as it sounds.

How did you become an FBI negotiator? Is that something that someone says when they’re ten, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

It was the Rocky Balboa line, “I couldn’t sing or dance.” I was in law enforcement. I was a police officer. I became an FBI agent. I was on the FBI SWAT team in Pittsburgh. I was in the process of trying out for the FBI’s version of the Navy SEALs, which is the Hostage Rescue Team. A lot of former SEALs and Delta Force guys on that team. I reinjured my knee in the process of trying out. We had hostage negotiators. They’d always showed up when the SWAT team showed up. That job looks easy. Those guys sat in a nice, warm room talking on the phone. How hard could it be? It was cooler. I got into it. I was fascinated with human dynamics, emotional intelligence at the highest level. I loved it. It became an addiction and one thing led to another.

I can understand that being in addiction because I find that with emotional intelligence too. The more I learn about people and how we work, I’m a fanatic around language and words because a lot of that has so much energy that comes from our emotional intelligence and can shape it. I totally get that. It’s an exciting field.

The idea that you can use words to steer outcomes and change the game with words is a cool thought. It’s addicting.

I’m passionate about the energy of words. How did you use words to change outcomes? We’ll start with the FBI world and then we’ll see an example in the business world if we could.

To learn how to become an FBI hostage negotiator, I first started on a suicide hotline in New York City. The crazy thing about the hotline was the ground rules from the beginning like you will be on the phone no longer than twenty minutes. I thought, “Twenty minutes, you’ve got to be kidding me.” In the movies, they’re on for hours. It’s going to take hours. They’re up all night trying to talk somebody down. They’re like, “No.” I remember being astonished.

Why twenty minutes?

If you do it right, it’s less. On the outside, if you’re not doing a good job, maybe twenty minutes to change an outcome. Once you’re wiring somebody’s limbic system, their emotional reactions, you can change things up fast. You can steer somebody’s thought patterns. I remember that thinking like, “This stuff has got to be applicable to everyday life.” It was always trying to use it to change outcomes, to change people’s minds nearly instantaneously. I continued to study it from that point on.

Give us an example. I know maybe you don’t remember one specifically, but maybe you do. You talk about some specific words that you use in your books and how that creates different outcomes. Let’s talk about one of those tips of how it was used in the FBI world.

I’ll go back to the one on the hotline too because it became the model for what we’re doing in business. The model is, first of all, instead of pitching positives, which everybody wants to pitch in a business deal, “Here’s why you should do this. Here’s how this will benefit you or even in personal interaction. I want you to go to the movies with me. I want you to go to this restaurant with me. I want you to do this because here’s how it will benefit you,” that’s backwards. Why we won’t do things are more important than why we will.

Empathy is not agreement or disagreement Click To Tweet

Danny Kahneman won the Nobel Prize on Behavioral Economics in 2002 for saying, “Stating loss stings twice as much as an equivalent gain.” There’s a lot of data out there that says 70% of buying decisions are made to avoid loss, not to accomplish gain but to get rid of a problem. One night this guy called in, he was rattled. I could hear the anxiety in his voice. I said, “You sound anxious.” Something as simple as identification of the negative, brain science backs it up, simple identification, not denial. Identification diffuses it. Most people would say, “I don’t want you to feel anxious.” The two-millimeter shift is to say, “You sound anxious.”

If you tell me, “I don’t want you to feel that way,” who cares what you want? That would be my thought in my head.

His innocence, his push back attacks our autonomy to tell somebody not to do something. We will die to preserve our autonomy. The United States is a country, give me liberty or give me death. We are a country founded on the preservation of autonomy. It’s not just the United States, it’s a human nature function. That’s why telling someone not to feel something has the opposite reaction that you want. The identification of it causes people to contemplate it in a different way and calm them down. It’s what I said to this guy on the phone, once simple observation, “You sound anxious.” There was an instantaneous response. We didn’t we have neuroscience back then. The neuroscience tells us that it instantly calmed the amygdala, the caveman brain, the reptile brain. One guy referred to the amygdala as the puppy dog.

The puppy dog calms down and the guy starts laying out to me everything he’s struggling with. He’s telling me how his family is supporting him. I said to him, “Your family sounds close.” This seems innocuous, especially to the observer, but I can remember somebody once telling me that about my family. I can remember how good it felt when he made that observation. What we know from brain science, it felt good because I got a solid hit of dopamine from this observation and contemplating the observation and it strengthens you.

Dopamine is a component of flow. The psychology of flow increases our performance in all instances. You get a hit a little bit of flow. I’m talking to this guy a little bit more and he’s telling me how hard he’s working on solving his problem. All I said was, “You sound determined.” He goes, “I am determined. Thanks for everything you did for me. I can tackle this now.” He hung up. Through the course of about a seven-minute conversation, I took a guy, who’s completely beside himself. I said three things, but the first of which was diffusing the negative. That’s the sequence.

If done in that order, it has that impact. Would it have the same impact if it was in a different order?

No, because the negatives overshadow the positives always.

You’ve got to do that first.

TBT 70 | Negotiation

Negotiation: Telling someone not to feel something will have the opposite reaction that you want.


Either that or spin your wheels. I’ve got to tell you something, I’m lazy. My identification of a negative is going to have probably more than three to five times the impact. To me, I’m like, “Shoot at this target and you point to the tree at.” “I’m shooting at that target. I’m lazy. I want to take the least amount of time possible to get to where I want to go.”

Is that a self-strategy as well? If we’re frustrated, we should be able to identify what we’re feeling. When we identify that unproductive or negative feeling, then that helps us to get over it.

A guy wrote a book called The Upward Spiral. They did that exact experiment. They monitored people’s amygdala activity as they induced negative emotions in them via photographs. They showed him a picture to make him feel sad, anxious, scared, lonely, whatever it is. They’d simply say, “What are you feeling now?” As soon as a person identified the negative, it diffused, if not diffused entirely. You can absolutely do it on yourself. I do this sometimes like I’ll say, “I’m afraid,” and then I’ll say, “Screw that. I’m not scared.” After I repeat it about four or five times because I know it diminishes it every time I say it.

There are people who are frustrated sometimes about not having too much to do and not getting things accomplished. One of the things that people have a challenge with is if they have multiple priorities and letting go of what they can’t do. Identifying this negative is giving you the ability to let go where instead of holding on, we’re letting go. This can be used in any context. I want the audience to be clear that this is emotional gold that you’re giving us right here. They get nothing else out of this call, other than identifying that negative, that’s going to get us back into the part of our brain that we can solve problems with.

Just call it up. It diffuses it little by little or in big chunks. Either way, it works in your favor.

What were the other two again? We start by diffusing the negative.

If you get the negatives diffused, now you can shift to the positives if you need to. In many cases, if you can get the negatives out of the way, the positives might take over and make the deal, make the agreement, make the interaction, level yourself out, whatever you’re after. Positives unleashed can be very powerful. You unleash them by eliminating the negatives.

Let’s talk about a business scenario. How have you seen the show-up and be used in a business scenario? Sometimes people aren’t that creative and they can’t imagine it in their head and make that transfer. What’s an example that you have from a business environment?

If you believe experience is the best teacher, then more likely you’re not trying to get better. Click To Tweet

We coach you in a private equity firm. They’re sitting down to make a deal. Rolling out all the negatives to start off with, going after them heavy. It’s something we refer to as an accusations audit. All the accusations they might make against this, let’s lay them out first to diffuse each and every one of them and see what happens. The private equity company we’re coaching, they get back to us on a deal. They said, “We sit down and we laid out the accusations, the deal made itself.” We didn’t say another word.

What would be an example of an accusation? Any sales team, they all review what the obstacles are. What the potential things that people could say, the refusals like, “It’s too expensive.” How would you put that on the table that they might be thinking it’s too expensive?

What are they harboring if what you have is too expensive? What they’re harboring is that you’re greedy. You say, “I’m sure we’ll agree.” I’m sure we look like we don’t care about the little guy. I’m sure it looks like we’re trying to intimidate everybody around us. I’m sure that it looks like that we’ll love them and leave them type of operation. What I laid out there, the subtle changes, it’s the absolute definition of empathy. I never agreed with any of that. I said, “I’m sure it looks like.” What I am is giving validation to your perspective. What you do with that and some sharp people see this as self-effacing.

People with high emotional intelligence have come to learn that being self-effacing is extremely powerful. It makes relationships, not just deals progress fast. “I’m sure I looked like a jerk here. I’m sure what I want makes me look like a jerk.” That’s self-effacing and that’s not self-debasing. You’re not saying I am or I agree. It’s a recognition of the other side’s perspective, which is what empathy is all about. Here’s how it looks to you. It looks like I’m a jerk. I never agreed. I never disagreed. What I did was I showed myself fearless and accountable with what I’m saying.

You are confident at the same time. That’s where fearless comes from. You’re letting them know that you’re willing to talk about the difficult things that they might be feeling or thinking. It’s super powerful.

It will turn a lot of levels.

I don’t do that. I consider myself emotionally intelligent. I’m taking notes like mad because it’s amazing. I never thought about it. You can diffuse that immediately when you come at it like that. I’m sure this looks like. If they didn’t feel like that way, they would say, “No, it doesn’t.”

That’s it exactly. That’s the secondary fear that most people have is what if you plant the negative and what ends up happening, you inoculate from it or if I know that I’m getting ready to say something, you’re not going to like, maybe you don’t have any negative thoughts whatsoever at this moment. If I know you’re not going to like what I have to say, I’m going to say, “You’re not going to like this.” I’m going to shut up and give you permission to go on.

TBT 70 | Negotiation

Negotiation: People with high emotional intelligence have come to learn that being self-effacing is extremely powerful.


There’s some psychology on the other side of pre-framing. You might be pre-framing that they’re not going to like this. As I hear you, it’s also the wording that you’re using and what comes next that determines what the pre-frame is. Is that the difference there of me not pre-framing, “You’re not going to like this,” but it’s what comes next.

How does this work for us in advance? It gives you the side a little bit of fair warning. There’s an appreciation. It works on a lot of levels to get out in front of problems. The two-millimeter shift is denial plants the negative. I don’t want you to think. I don’t want you to lie. I don’t want you to think that what I’m getting ready to say is going to be disrespectful.

I feel it because of the way that you said it, “I don’t want you to feel that way,” then I’m starting to feel that way. My favorite is when somebody wants to sell you something and they go, “I’m not trying to sell you something.” It sure feels like it. A subtle tweak of saying, “I’m sure this seems like I’m trying to sell you something.” It seems like it’s a totally different approach in the way that I might create resistance or not.

Stating that up front opens people up.

We were talking about words and how they can make such a big difference. I know there are some other tips that you have around words that you use. What are some other areas that you talk about in your book?

We don’t like the word, yes. Everybody thinks that yes is a goal. Yes is nothing without how to start with. There are so many fake yeses out there. We call them counterfeit yeses. There are three kinds of yes: commitment, confirmation and counterfeit. Most people try to lead us into the commitment yes, with a series, little confirmation yeses. They call it tie downs. It’s a violation of autonomy. Everybody hates it.

It’s trying to get you. You don’t feel like you didn’t mean to say yes. If you did, it was like you’re tricked into it.

Globally, everybody hates that. I can show it over and over again, it’s so easy. The crazy, ridiculous, insane, stupid thing is if you get people to say no, they love it. I’ve had clients say, “The other side is in no mode. Everything we say, they say no.” I’m like, “Change your questions.” When it’s stupid is going from saying, “Do you agree?” to saying, “Do you disagree?” Saying, “Does this sound like something that would work for you? Is it ridiculous to think that this would work for you?” He will say, “No, it’s not a ridiculous thing.”

Why we won't do things are more important than why we will. Click To Tweet

It would work for me, but here are the following things I need in order to make it work. What you’re looking for is what comes after either yes or no to understand. They won’t say yes to begin with. If they give you the counterfeit yes, they’re not going to give you more information because they’re going to feel like that they’d been cornered even more. No one feels cornered by no. They’re going to drop the rest of it on you right away. “No, that wouldn’t work for me but if you want it to work, here’s what you’ve got to do.” Now, you know how to make the deal work.

They’re going to be open to giving you more information by eliciting a no versus that yessing.

It’s five times more open at least. It’s absolutely insane how effective it is.

Why do they keep teaching in these sales courses, get them into these yes patterns when it doesn’t work half as good as this?

There are a couple of reasons why. A lot of people that get into sales, they’re going to lean on what made them successful. They don’t realize their batting average is low. If you’re yes addicted and the typical sales conversion rate is anywhere from 3% to 15%. You look around and you see everybody else has got that same conversion rates so you think you’re engaging in best practices. You’re doing as good as everybody else. You’ve got no idea that your conversion rate should be 35%.

You’re hitting a plateau with the yes. You might be getting success, but you’re hitting this plateau whereas you could surpass that by using a better strategy.

You look around and you don’t see feedback that tells you otherwise. We talk about this analogy all the time. What’s an effective analogy? If you think about basketball, most people don’t realize that the way basketball used to be played, they did something called a two-handed set shot. It’s a shot from their waist. They got about 30, 45 feet away from the basket because you had to be far enough away from the defenders so that they wouldn’t block the shot. Back in the ‘20s through the ‘50s, everybody shot like that. Somebody came up with this thing called the jump shot.

When they first started the jump shot, everybody that was playing basketball said, “That’s not the way to win. We win with two-handed set shots and you are never going to win with jump shots.” The guys that were doing jump shots said, “We don’t care what you think. We don’t care what the best practices are. We’re going to start doing this.” The jump shooters then absolutely began to destroy everybody. I’ve got to tell you something, the people that are negotiating the way that we teach in our book, they have blown everybody else away.

TBT 70 | Negotiation

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It

If you are reading this, get that book first of all and read it like a thousand times because there are so many little nuances. I’ve read the book. I’ve followed a lot of things you’re doing. Every time you say it in slightly a different way, you get it that much more into your system, in your psyche. This is great stuff. We’ve got affirming the negative, identifying the negative. We’ve got to start with no. What else?

Some of these start to accumulate and one of the ways to get a little skill that accumulates into a bigger one is this thing we call the mirror. The mirror is repeating the last one of three words of what someone said. It’s not the body language mirror. It’s not the tone of voice mirror. If you put your hand to your chin, I’ve got to put my hand on my chin. If you lean to the right, I’ve got to lean in the same direction where we line up. It’s not that at all. A hostage negotiator’s mirror is a repetition of the last one, the three-ish words of what they have said. Sometimes as many as five but never more than five because that’s when you start to get into something called paraphrasing.

That would be considered paraphrasing if you repeated.

Paraphrasing is rewarding. It’s tiny little concise surgical hit. It gets the other person to go on. It gets them to go on or clarify like the classic one, “I don’t ever ask anybody, what did you mean by that?” If somebody says, “This is going to be difficult to do this,” you’re going to be tempted to say, “What do you mean by difficult?” which is a good what question. The tone of voice is important. You’ll get a 75% accurate answer on that. Instead, if I go like if you say, “It’s going to be difficult,” and I’ll say, “It’s going to be difficult.” You go, “What I mean by that,” and then you expand. You’ll expand it a huge way. You use new and different words. Other risks that you run into when you say, “What do you mean by that?” there’s a good chance they’re going to repeat exactly what they said only louder. The same way that I asked directions when I’m in France. I say, “English only,” louder or the cab driver in Paris says, “Where’s your hotel?” I go up into the right and they’ll say, “What?” I’ll say, “Up into the right.” He can’t understand me.

I’m a big, “What do you mean by that?” I like to have people expand upon what they’re saying so I’m not making an assumption. This takes that to a whole new level. It’s interesting because I went to a school for coaching. I have a coaching degree and everything. They talk about mirroring and repeating what people are saying. This is in a different context, very specific using those last three words to get them to open up more without you asking directly for it.

We’ve got a lot of free content out there. We’ve got a newsletter out there and we’ve got stuff on our YouTube channel. I put up a video on mirroring on our YouTube channel. Two examples of, I mirrored a bank robbery. Bank robbery behind a guy on the other side, a ridiculously controlling guy. I asked him about the van that we thought was a getaway van. At this point of time, we had no idea that one of the bank robbers was no longer at the scene. The get-away driver had gotten away. We didn’t know that. We thought everybody was inside. I asked a bank robber about the van. He goes, “You chased my driver away.” I said, “We chased your driver away?”

He goes, “When he saw the police, he cut and run.” At that point in time, we had no idea that there was someone that had gotten away. In fact, that ended up being the only evidence we had linking the getaway driver to the crime because no witnesses had seen him. That’s why we didn’t know anybody got away. The bank robber in the inside was an extremely controlling guy and that was one of the only times he blurted something out accidentally. That was how we got the conviction to the bank robber in that particular case or the getaway driver.

When you’re dealing with a bank robber, a hostage situation or whatever, how do you get to a place where you know you can be open and empathetic? Some people might say, “I don’t like the person on the other side. I have an issue, therefore I don’t respect them, I don’t trust them.” How do you deal with that as an issue?

If you get the negatives diffused, you can shift to the positives if you need to. Click To Tweet

It starts out of what you define empathy as from the very beginning and what safety nets do you need. As a hostage negotiator, from the very beginning, we needed to apply empathy to someone we had no common ground with, we didn’t agree with in any way, shape or form, we didn’t like, we didn’t care for and none of that. Empathy is articulating the other side’s point of view. It’s not agreement. It’s not disagreement. If you take this very narrow definition of empathy, then you can be empathic with the most despicable person in the world. The tiny shift while being empathic, being empathetic is a compassionate thing to do. It doesn’t require compassion. I don’t have to have compassion for you in any way, shape or form to be empathetic.

The act of it demonstrates compassion. That’s the tiny little shift that could freeze me to use empathy with someone I have no compassion for. I’m not being disingenuous because I never said I had compassion for you. However, at the same time, the benefit that I love from it is you will feel compassion. Even if you’re a sociopath, which most terrorists are, you’ll appreciate it. I’m going to be able to influence you. We had one case where after the kidnapping was over, we had hit the sociopathic terrorist on the other side with so much tactical empathy, intentional empathy that the hostage walked away. Three weeks later the terrorist called the negotiator I was coaching on the phone to congratulate him on how effective it was.

They appreciate the art. They see themselves as smart, intelligent and the fact that someone accomplishes something over them recognizes their art.

It was one of those things that I don’t think our bad guy knew what he was saying. He didn’t understand how or why he was moved, but it moved him sufficiently for him to call an adversary on the phone. He said to him, literally on the phone, “Have you been promoted yet? You’re really good at what you do.”

That point that you made around the fact that it’s how you define empathy and that it’s being open to others’ perspective, not agreeing with it. Not liking them, not endorsing it, but understanding that you have an outcome by opening up this perspective. You can be empowered and purposeful but not emotional in those critical moments.

Being willing to hear the other side out. It’s the Stephen Covey advice from way back when, “Seek first to understand then be understood.”

You say that like it’s so easy. We’re emotional beings. You trigger something and people can get so angry at first. They feel personally attacked even in an office situation. They could feel so personally attacked. How do you suggest a person to calm themselves down? Is that going back to affirm the negative, so that they can get in that space to have a constructive conversation?

TBT 70 | Negotiation

Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most

You can hit it a number of different ways. It might be how you’re wired or how you’re wired in a moment. Sheila Heen and Doug Stone wrote a great book called Difficult Conversations. In that, they call the curiosity stinks. If you’re genuinely curious about why somebody thinks something, that puts you in a mind frame, you don’t feel threatened. You won’t get triggered as easily. To be genuinely curious is a great way to keep yourself from getting triggered. You can label yourself in a moment, “Why is this making me mad.” That’ll bring it down or that’ll bring those negativities down. When I started getting my buttons punched, the only reason I’m in this conversation is that life is going pretty well. I’m lucky to be in this situation. It’s the gratitude hack.

That’s my hack. Talk more about that.

I live in Southern California. Everyone in California is grateful. It’s a very smart emotional intelligence hack because you’re 31% more effective than a positive frame of mind. You have more mental agility. You can process more information. You have a broader focus. You’re not tunnel vision with a positive frame of mind. Gratitude hack works for you and a whole bunch of ways that make you smarter. It’s a best practice for those reasons. You are more effective when you’re grateful because you’re positive. You can think more and you can recognize patterns quicker.

I do a bunch of exercises and stuff around that. Do you have any kids?

I have my 33-year-old son as a Chief of Operations in my company.

Remember back to when he was a teenager when he knew how to get on that nerve. How did you switch at that moment to use as a gratitude hack, to get in a better state of mind, to deal with him? He certainly wasn’t helping you to identify the negative and that type of thing.

More in the moment as I was quicker to pull a trigger on saying no. That was what gave us a lot of insight when I look back on those days as to the effectiveness of no. Each and every time I said no to my son and I’d interrupt him, he’d say, “Dad, can I?” “No,” before he even finished. I’d say, “Now that I’ve said no, what is it that you want?” I’d be more willing to hear him out having said no. A lot of people misinterpret that. They say teenagers, kids don’t take no for an answer. What they learned is how much more persuadable their parents are once the parent has said no. That’s why they’re not deterred by it. People open up more having said no. Probably more than likely anything else because when your teenager is trying to take you hostage, it’s hard to stay in a gratitude place. At this point in time, most of the time people are saying, “I can’t wait until you’re 24 and your brain catches up with the rest of you.”

I use little hacks. It’s true. It’s challenging. My kids are teenagers. I get to practice all these different things and just recognizing, “This too shall pass.” They’re going to get through this phase. Love and logic have a great thing where they say, “I love you too much to argue.” That gets you into gratitude and puts you into the love piece. It worked for so many years. My son started to go, “Don’t give me that. That’s a cop-out.” You’ve got to find strategies because they know what works for a long time. You’ve got to find something else. That’s on our toes.

Empathy is all about the recognition of the other side's perspective. Click To Tweet

When in doubt, wear them up.

I feel like I’m being worn out most of the time, but that’s a good point. I’ve got to reverse the ways there. My son, with that comment, felt like he was being manipulated. He was saying it’s a cop-out. Do you ever get when you’re using some of these tactics even with family members or work people after you’ve used them or they know who you are? They know that you are the guy who is the negotiator. How do you deal with that? Did they ever feel manipulated?

It’s not the techniques, it’s where it’s taking you. We hone in on that instinctively as human beings quickly. Particularly because we use these tools, techniques, strategies and tactics on each other and my company all the time because we’re working together. You start to get a bad feeling when you can’t put your finger on when somebody is trying to manipulate you. That’s when some of this stuff starts to backfire like triggering and the no. I’ll pick up on that fast when some companies are trying to take advantage of us or they don’t ever want to train with us, they want to know how we train. A classic one is, “Send us an RFP because we want to see how you do something.” They’re looking for free consulting. If somebody starts up an email to me or you against sending us an RFP for training, my answer is always going to be, “Yes, I am.”

It comes back to intention when you said, where you’re being led to. You’re more observing when you see those techniques, you’re open to it, but you’re looking as to where they’re taking you with that. You’re building a picture of what the intention behind it is.

Once I get a clear picture of your intention of it, if it’s malicious or if you’re trying to cheat me in some way, I’ll stop talking. I’m not going to talk to you.

You shut it down. On the other side, if somebody were to say that to you, “You’re using those techniques again. You’re trying to get a better price from me and you’re using those techniques.” Do you ever come across that?

I’ll double down on the techniques. I’m going to double down on what you’re saying to me. If you’ve got your guard up that high, you don’t trust me. I’ll say, “It sounds like you don’t trust me.”

I was going to say, going back to what you said in the beginning, is to identify what’s going on.

TBT 70 | Negotiation

Negotiation: It’s the inefficiency of communication and not hearing people out that’s causing so much additional conflict.


If you don’t want what’s going on between us, draw it out into the open for us to discuss. If you’re against that, you’re probably not on my side. They say trustworthy people trust. If you’re extremely mistrustful, the inverse saying is probably true as well. You’re probably not trustworthy. I’m going to need to know that early on.

These are great tips, tricks and techniques. What else do you think is important for our audience, something important that we didn’t cover that I didn’t ask?

Hearing the other side out is a great time hack, overall. Take the time to do that. Start taking the time to fully hear the other side out. It will seem like the conversation in the moment is being sidetracked on unnecessary areas. This is one of the reasons why we accelerate people’s deal-making philosophy. We accelerate your agreement velocity because it takes away the friction to the conversation. You can increase your velocity by taking away the friction or by adding lubrication. If you look at a three-one ratio on your gains from taking away friction, you will accelerate things a lot faster by taking away friction and nothing takes away friction better than hearing somebody up.

It seems so obvious, but it is interesting that everybody is so busy and everything is rushed. I think that is what’s missing and maybe why there is more conflict. I’ve seen some of the statistics that managers spend more than 45% of their time dealing with conflict and whatnot. I wonder if it’s not because they’re not giving enough time to hear people out or they’re not listening. Do you see that? Do you think that is an issue being everybody is so busy and rushed?

That’s an interesting statistic and I think you’re 1,000% right. It’s the inefficiency of communication and not hearing people out that’s causing so much additional conflict because people won’t feel heard.

Thank you so much for all of these great nuggets.

Let’s tell people how to subscribe to the free newsletter.

I want you to also tell the various different stages of organizations reading this. They might be people looking to gain capital and they could use some of your techniques to get a better deal or to get a faster deal. There are different stages of businesses. Tell us who you like to work with. How to get to your newsletter and find out more information?

Everybody thinks that 'yes' is a goal when it is nothing without how to start with. Click To Tweet

The simple way to subscribe to the newsletter is via text to sign up function. The number you text to is 22828 and the message you send is FBIEmpathy. Who do we like to work with? It’s going to sound like a cliché, but we like to work with top performers. The people who either are the top 1% or on their way to be in the top 1%. You’ve got to be a learner. If you’ve never bought a book on negotiation, you want to come to our training sessions, you’ve never spent the time to try to get yourself better. We find it over and over again. Not everybody is a learner, not everybody intentionally makes themselves better. If you believe, “Experience is the best teacher,” more than likely you’re not trying to get better.

Instead of having ten years of experience, you’ve had one year of experience, ten times. What’s your personal culture? What’s your corporate culture? If your personal culture, if your corporate culture is to learn, we’re going to do great together. There are some companies that say, “It’s on the individual to make themselves better.” That isn’t a great learning culture. We probably won’t work with you as a company. The people that you’re sending out, we’ll work with them individually. If you don’t think it’s on your culture to help your people get better, then we’re probably not for you.

It’s important to know so that also people can identify and do the right things before they get to you if they’re not already ready to be there. Are there corporate events that you have or do you also hold public events where various different companies and individuals could come to your events as well?

We’re doing a total of thirteen of those events across the country. The schedule is on our website, BlackSwanLTD.com. Also, there are announcements for those training sessions in the newsletter. They are open to anybody who wants to sign up. They are expensive.

It should be because people pay attention to what they paid for. This skill, it’s an acceleration of leadership. It’s an acceleration of sales or depending on what your role is, emotional intelligence. That’s the best investment there is.

We are an accelerator. Invest in you and accelerate it.

You’ve given us a lot of great places, where you can reach you and things like that. Tell us a little bit about you personally. People like to hear also the struggles and what you’ve overcome. What’s a big challenge in your life that you’ve overcome that has made you a better person?

Reading the tea leaves or reading the signs in the universe. Bad things have always lead to better things for me. Tearing up my knee was the reason I became a hostage negotiator. I became a full-time hostage negotiator because I got passed over for promotion when I was in New York and that led to better things. Leaving SWAT led to better things. I left the FBI because I got passed over for promotion again. I remember thinking then I was like, “The last time I got passed over for promotion, awesome stuff happened when I went a new direction.” I’m very definitely a believer in bad things leads to better things. I’ve come to believe that as my life has continued.

We get to a certain place in our lives and we hit that plateau, that’s the universe’s way of opening us up and not such an easy way. We wish it could be easier. Unfortunately, it’s usually in those ways. Thank you, Chris, so much for being here and sharing your wisdom and your experience. I’m definitely going to check out those events and get to one of those events. Thank you so much.

Thank you, Penny. It was fun to be with you.

Thank you all because without you, we wouldn’t have a show. We’ll see you in the next episode.

Important Links:

About Chris Voss

TBT 70 | NegotiationChris Voss is CEO of the Black Swan Group and author of the national best-seller “Never Split The Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It,” which was named one of the seven best books on negotiation. A 24-year veteran of the FBI, Chris retired as the lead international kidnapping negotiator. Drawing on his experience in high-stakes negotiations, his company specializes in solving business communication problems using hostage negotiation solutions.

Their negotiation methodology focuses on discovering the “Black Swans,” small pieces of information that have a huge effect on an outcome. Chris and his team have helped companies secure and close better deals, save money, and solve internal communication problems. Chris has been featured in TIME, Business Insider, Entrepreneur, Inc., Fast Company, Fortune, The Washington Post, SUCCESS Magazine, Squawk Box, CNN, ABC News and more.


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Organize Now: Organization Tips To Manage Clutter Out Of Your Life with Jennifer Ford Berry

TBT 69 | Organization Tips


How do you get rid of the clutter and stay organized? For Jennifer Ford Berry, organizational expert, bestselling author, and host of The 29-Minute Mom podcast, time is everything. She gives organization tips and advice on the best way to break free from the clutter and explains why staying organized is a struggle for most people. She elaborates on the effects of procrastination and the correlation of being organized to stewardship. Learn the importance of managing your time wisely and living an intentional life so you can get your life organized now!

Listen to the podcast here:

Organize Now: Organization Tips To Manage Clutter Out Of Your Life with Jennifer Ford Berry

I am excited to talk about getting rid of the clutter because I have to admit we’re a productivity expert, but I have the same challenges and struggles as everyone else. Clutter is something that I’m committed to doing my cleaning. We have Jennifer Ford Berry with us and I’m super excited. She is an organizational expert, a bestselling author and the host of The 29 Minute Mom Podcast. She’s a national speaker and a promoter of God’s plan. Her book series include Organize Now! A Week-by-Week Guide to Simplify Your Space and Your Life, Organize Now! Your Money, Business & Career, Organize Now! Think and Live Clutter-Free, Organize Now! 12-Month Home & Activity Planner and Purpose Over Possessions. That’s super exciting. More books and more revisions and we’ll talk about that. We’ll let you introduce the rest of that. Welcome.

Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here.

Organize Now! covers every part of our lives. I want to ask you about you too, but this is on my mind. Why is staying organized such a challenge and struggle for many people?

If I had to narrow it down to one answer, I would say too much stuff. We do have too much stuff. I like to say everything you own takes up some amount of STEM, which is your Space, Time, Energy and Money. The more things you add into your life, the more space, time, energy and money you’re giving to it, and the less you have left for yourself. That’s where we get super overwhelmed.

Are you super freakishly organized? How did you come into this Organize Now! theme and passion?

Procrastination is the easy way out. If you want to have a better life, there are things you have to do in order to achieve it. Click To Tweet

I went to college and I thought I wanted to work in advertising and marketing in Corporate America. After I was in that realm for a few years, I became a mom. After that happened, I was in this place where I wasn’t excited to wake up every single day and do the daily grind. I was like, “If I’m going to do this for 30-plus years, I’ve got to have a little bit more passion for it.” I started to ask myself, “What am I passionate about the most?” I went through this whole book called Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow.

It kept asking me questions that made me look internally and figure out what my gifts were. What made me excited? I realized I was totally into organizing since I was about five years old. I would go to my grandmother’s house and ask her if I could organize her jewelry, her medicine cabinet, her drawers, anything and she would let me. I loved organizing my room. My parents never told me to do it. I could see space clearly and I thought to rearrange it, to be more efficient was super fun. That’s when I decided to make it a business.

Isn’t it cool how our gifts do show up at a young age? It’s a matter of whether we’re listening or not. What I love is you’re great at that and someone else is not great at that. They need what you have. When they say it takes a village not just to raise your kids, but it takes a village to be the best person that we can be. We have our skill set, and we are complemented by each other with each other’s skill sets.

Everybody has their gifts. Until I became a professional organizer, I didn’t realize that other people didn’t think organizing was fun. I didn’t know people struggled with it. It’s something you either are good at automatically when you’re born or you learn how to do it like anything else. My goal is to teach the people I work with how to learn how to organize their life in a way that brings them more joy and peace. That they can enjoy their space more, not feel stressed out at home, not feel overwhelmed, but feel peace and joy when they get there. Be able to use that extra energy and the extra time to do something that will give back to others. It’s a full circle teaching for me.

TBT 69 | Organization Tips

Organize Now!: A Week-by-Week Guide to Simplify Your Space and Your Life

What are some important clutter tips for the cleaners that are getting ready to clear out all that stuff?

My biggest pieces of advice are simple. Number one, you want to go space by space, and you want to break that space down into a small area you can handle. Maybe for example you decide, “I’m going to start with my kitchen. I’m going to get my kitchen cleaned,” but you don’t have four hours to spend on a Saturday to do your kitchen. You want to break it down even more. To say, “Now, I’m going to do kitchen cupboards,” or even, “Now, I’m going to do three kitchen cupboards.” Don’t cut corners. The top to the bottom, sideways and back, clean it out. This is the second part. Ask yourself for everything that’s in there, “Do I love this? Do I use this?” Those are the two questions I tell everybody to ask. You’re either going to keep something because you love it and it makes you happy, or you’re going to keep something because you use it. It might not be your favorite thing in the world, maybe you wish you had something better, but you use it a lot. Those are the two main questions to ask yourself.

I want to relate and that’s why you’ve got books that talk about in our mindset and about money and different things because clutter and the approach to clutter are applicable everywhere. These strategies are important. When we talk about time management or anything that people feel overwhelmed in attacking, the first thing they’re going to do is procrastinate because they’re going to go, “I can’t clean this kitchen. It takes too long.” That concept of breaking it down as simple as it is, is important and key to keep people from getting overwhelmed and procrastinating. Somebody who automatically goes into that procrastination mode or overwhelmed mode, how do you get them to focus on that? We forget about those things at the moment.

Procrastination is the easy way out. If you want to have a better life, there are things you have to do in order to achieve it. You might not always like those tasks. The better thing to do is stop wasting your thoughts, your time and your energy going over and over in your mind how much you don’t want to do something. Put it on the calendar, set a timer and get it done. You don’t realize the procrastinating part of your brain takes away energy that you could be using for something else. If you are okay with a timer that you set, say for example you have 30 minutes. The trick is, especially with women, when that timer goes off you have to be okay with what you accomplished in 30 minutes. If your brain immediately goes to what you didn’t do, you’ve already beaten yourself down. You’re not going to do it. Put on some music, light a candle, make it fun. Think about all the calories you’re burning. Get it done. You’re going to feel so much better after you do it that it’s not worth procrastinating. It’s not worth it.

Even if people walk away with this one thing is to set that timer, break it down and go through room by room and piece by piece. What else does it cost them? They can understand they’re avoiding pain, but the pain is greater if they continue to procrastinate it.

Clutter costs us so much. Besides the fact it costs you money, space and all those things.

How does it cost us money? Tell me about that. They’re going, “That doesn’t cost me any money.”

Time is the one thing we are all given equally. Click To Tweet

For one, you will go out and buy something you already have because you don’t know you have it or you can’t find it. When you don’t have like things together which is part of organizing, the two rules of organizing are everything you own needs a home and like things together. For example, let’s say gift bags. If you have gift bags stored in five different nooks and crannies of your home. It comes time to wrap a gift for somebody, and you don’t have the right size bag because it’s not in this location, you have no idea it’s over here in this location. What do you do? You’re in a hurry, you run to the store, you buy a new one.

It happens with many things. I can’t tell you how many times I help people get organized and they have found cash, they have found checks. They have found things, gift cards. People waste so much money on gift cards and gift certificates that expire because they don’t know where they are. I could go on about the money part. The other thing you’re wasting is energy. If you were to stare at a little cluttered area in your home for a few minutes and take note of how it’s making you feel, I guarantee you’re feeling inadequate, embarrassed, ashamed, annoyed, tired, overwhelmed. You tidy it up, you get rid of things and now it’s focusing on a couple of things you love. Your energy boosts way up, you feel better about yourself internally. It’s psychological. I don’t even think people realize the gift you’re giving yourself by getting your home organized.

They don’t and that’s why I wanted you to go into it because it’s easy to tell ourselves that excuse, that, “It’s fine.” All the things we tolerate in our life, it’s just another example of tolerating things that pull us down.

Mediocracy. It’s within our power to do this action to make our home a better place for our entire family, not just us. If you’re talking about time to get a schedule down that is going to make you the most productive and efficient you can be. It’s worth it. You’re not living your best life if you’re not taking care of these things. One of the things I love to talk about, I’m passionate about is stewardship. I feel when you don’t take care of the home you’ve been given, you don’t make the most of the time you’ve been given, then you’re not a good steward. That usually gets people’s attention. Why should we be blessed with more if we’re not taking care of what we have already?

Talk more about that because then I go, “That’s interesting.” What does that mean not being a good steward?

TBT 69 | Organization Tips

Organization Tips: Stop wasting your thoughts, time, and energy going over and over in your mind how much you don’t want to do something.


I can see it in many ways. One thing I hear a lot about women and I’m going to use this as one example. How many times have you in your head, grumbled and complained about doing laundry at your house? You go in, do the laundry and you’re like, “It’s like I’m on stage. It never ends.” We don’t love doing it. It’s annoying. We’d rather be reading a book or taking a walk outside. If you backtrack, did you not possibly pray for those children that you have to wash clothes for and your spouse that you have to wash clothes for? Those clothes you wanted at the store at some point, you couldn’t wait to put them in the car, you couldn’t wait to bring them home and put them in your closet. You were excited. You have these things you purposely chose, you purposely asked for, now you’re complaining about it. You’re griping about it. You’re dreading it. You brought that into your world. You specifically did it. I’ve done it.

To keep myself aware of not doing it, I have this little sign in my laundry room that says, “Another day in paradise.” I want to be conscious of the fact that, first of all, I’m lucky I even have a washer and dryer. That’s a huge blessing in itself. We have to be careful not to complain and gripe about things we asked for. Stewardship, I hear people say, “I’m going to save that for when I have a bigger house. When we have a bigger house, we’re going to have room for those things and this and that.” I’m always like, “Why are you living in the someday and the maybe of a bigger house? Why should you own a bigger home if you are having trouble maintaining the one you currently have?” Sometimes it’s tough love, but it’s true.

I talk about this as well in terms of the attitude and how we show up for our time makes all the difference. It doesn’t matter whether you’re doing the laundry or you’re making dinner, you’re working at your desk, you’re working with a client, whatever it is. How you show up matters. Energy is contagious. If you’re working with someone else, you’re setting the example for your family based on how you keep the house. All of that is super important. I love what you’re saying, another day in paradise or be grateful for what the cause is behind it. You’re doing laundry because people that you love to take care of and that’s a way to nurture and take care of your family is by doing their laundry. I never even thought about that. I never complain about doing the laundry. That’s not a big deal. You throw it in. The folding is another thing, but that all depends on whether you do that. I let everybody do their own folding. That’s called delegation. That’s also good time management.

Do you know how many times I’ve heard people say, “I don’t know how to do this organizing stuff because nobody taught me how to do it?” A lot of times I’d be looking. They grew up in a disorganized home and that’s why they don’t know how to do it. Nobody taught them that. That’s why it’s so important to teach kids the skills of time management and the skills of organizing, just as much as it is to teach them how to read, write and ride a bike. As a parent, if you don’t give them those skills, someday you have to realize it’s going to add more stress to your life. Who wants to have their kids stressed out and overwhelmed?

Where else are they going to learn it? It’s not something they learn at school. They’ve got to learn it at home. How do you define time management and productivity as an organizer?

Your to-do list does not end until you die. Click To Tweet

I think tasks like stuff, needs a home. That home is on my schedule. I have to be the owner of that time because otherwise, somebody else is going to steal it from me. Something else or someone else is going to steal it from me. Time is the one thing we are all given equally. It doesn’t matter how rich, how poor, how thin, where you live, who your parents are, nothing matters. It evens out the playing field. It defines what life you’re going to live by how you use your time and what’s taking up your time. It’s all about being intentional. The things we can accomplish if we’re intentional in our time are amazing. Time to me is about being intentional. It’s about giving tasks a home and it’s about enjoying where I’m at, not always having to worry. Everybody has this long to-do list. That’s another thing we complain about. We hate the to-do list, but let’s be grateful because as long as we’re living, we have a to-do list. Your to-do list does not end until you die. The sooner we can say, “We’re not going to finish it now,” but whatever we can accomplish, you have to be okay with that. Time management for me is everything. I would not be where I am now if I didn’t know how to organize my time.

I like how you related it to the principles of organizing, that every task has its place and that’s on your calendar. The whole idea of being intentional is because we’re in such an impulsive society. What do you think is going to support people in being more intentional in their lives?

I think you have to know your why. You’re not going to be intentional if you don’t know why you’re doing it. You’re not going to guard your time if you don’t have a why. For example, time goes in seasons especially business owners. I’m in a season of finishing my book. That takes up a lot of time. I have to guard at that time. The reason why I’m okay with that, the reason why I’m okay with saying yes or no to certain things is it doesn’t align with my why. This season of my life isn’t about finishing a book. It’s also about launching a non-profit, a conference. It’s putting something out there that is a different way of doing organization. I know my why and why I’m going to spend my efforts, my time and energy, all these things on this, I’m okay with guarding my time.

When you know your why, you know. Here’s an example. Say your why is, “I want to lose twenty pounds by June.” We’re going to make time in your schedule to go to the gym to workout. You’re going to make time for meal planning because you know that goal is part of your main priority. That makes it more motivating to do it. If I asked you, “Do you want to go to Dairy Queen and eat some hot fudge sundaes with me?” You probably aren’t going to have scheduled a time to do that because of your main goal and your main why.

You have to stay connected to why it’s important, so you are putting it in your calendar and reserving time for it. I always tell people why there’s such a thing as date night. It’s not like you need to be reminded that you need to spend time with your spouse, but if you don’t schedule it, it doesn’t happen. The ultimate consequence can be the cost of your relationship if you’re not intentional and conscious about it. I like that concept of seasons of time. Where I’m going with this is around balance. I know a lot of entrepreneurs love to work and they have these goals they’re working towards and strong whys. They do work and put in tremendous numbers of hours. I have gotten criticized for not being balanced. I wanted to talk to you about your feeling about balance and also about how that relates to the seasons of time.

TBT 69 | Organization Tips

Organization Tips: It’s just as important to teach kids the skills of time management and organizing as it is to teach them how to read, write, and ride a bike.


When you say balance, I immediately always have a visual of a pie chart. Each of those pieces of the pie has a color. This is how I make my to-do lists. They have a color. In order for me to be balanced, I have to be taking care of my business, I have to be taking care of my health. I have to be taking care of my spiritual well-being. I have to be taking care of my family. I have to have time for me. That’s basically the pieces of my pie. When I look at my schedule and I am missing a color. This is an example to make this more real for people. Health is green on my calendar. If I see no green, that means I’m not working out. I’m not in my devotional in the morning. I’m not going for walks. I’m not doing anything for the inside. I’m not filling my tank. Balance is for me touching all those colors or all those pieces of the pie chart every single week.

That’s the key. It’s a week’s perspective, not a day. People feel like it’s shoved everything into one day. I’m also a believer in that. It’s over the week you get that balance, not over one day.

There are days where I don’t have time to do my devotional in the morning or I don’t have time to work out. My kids travel for sports. We have a tournament. I know I give a lot of that time to that, but then there will be another day where I have to work longer hours. I don’t feel guilty because I know I took care of my family within the week. That’s how I feel balanced. You have to know yourself to know what you need to feel balanced and what you need to live your best life. It’s super important for me to have time with my girlfriends. They fill me up. It’s a big part of who I am. My love language is quality time. I know that about myself, but some other people don’t need that. You have to know yourself to know when you’re out of balance.

Thank you. We have gone through many great topics. Tell us how we can get ahold of you. You talked about a book coming out, you talked about an event that you’re having. Tell us about that information so people can connect with you further in that context.

Based on the conversation of time management, when you’re talking about getting your life organized, you always have to break it down into small baby steps. You can’t do your whole life in one weekend. I’ve written a series of books called Organize Now!. They’ve been out for many years and this 2019, we are revising the whole entire series. Organize Now! is the new cover followed up by volumes two and three. I’m also launching a conference which is taking place in Charlotte on June 28th and 29th called the Created Order Organizing Conference. I want to offer our readers, if they go to my website, www.JenniferFordBerry.com and you’ll see some links to the top and under Ministry, there is a link to the Created Order Conference.

The kind of life you're going to live by is defined by how you use your time. Click To Tweet

The purpose of the conference, we have an amazing lineup of speakers and I want people that are feeling overwhelmed to realize they don’t have to feel like that anymore. This is an event that not only are we going to help you recognize what is cluttering your life, but we’re also going to help you eliminate it. We’re going to teach you how to get organized and then show you that with that new space, time, energy and money, you can start living your purpose. I believe and I’m sure you agree that when you live on purpose, life is much more fun and exciting. There’s nothing like it. I want everyone to leave there feeling fired up about their life and stop being a slave to all of your possessions. Be living in an intentional way. Hopefully, they’ll come down to Charlotte and check it out.

You better check that out. Jennifer, thank you so much. For all of you reading, make sure you check those out.

Thanks for having me. It was fun.

This is Take Back Time. We’ll see you in the next episode.

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About Jennifer Ford Berry

TBT 69 | Organization TipsJennifer was previously the regular organizing expert on the TV show: Wingit It, Buffalo Style. Jennifer has been a guest on numerous television and radio shows. She has also been featured in many national magazines and newspapers. She is an animated speaker who has presented to the Learning Annex, corporations, churches, national conferences, mom groups, and school districts.

Jennifer is a graduate of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL. She currently resides in Western New York where she continues to work hands-on with her clients helping them to eliminate clutter and live their dreams.


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