[00:00:06.4] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to The Science of Success with your host, Matt Bodnar.
[0:00:12.6] MB: Welcome to The Science of Success. I’m your host, Matt Bodnar. I’m an entrepreneur and investor in Nashville, Tennessee and I’m obsessed with the mindset of success and the psychology of performance. I’ve read hundreds of books, conducted countless hours of research and study and I am going to take you on a journey into the human mind and what makes peak performers tick with the focus on always having our discussion rooted in psychological research and scientific fact, not opinion.
In this episode we look at why your definition of success might be hurting you and how you can redefine it in a much healthier way. We examine the power of intellectual humility, talk about what it means to provide value and how to do it. We go deep into the power of listening, why it’s so important and discuss three strategies you can use to become a better listener. We explored the concept of brilliance as well as how you can unlock your own brilliance in 30 seconds, and much more with Simon T. Bailey.
The Science of Success continues to grow with now more than a million downloads, listeners in over a hundred countries, hitting number one New and Noteworthy and more. I get listener comments and emails all the time asking me, “Matt, how do you organize and remember all these incredible information?”
A lot of her listeners are curious about how I keep track of all the incredible knowledge I get from reading hundreds of books, interviewing amazing experts, listening to awesome podcasts, and more. Because of that, we’ve created an epic resource just for you, a detailed guide called How to Organize and Remember Everything, and you can get it completely for free by texting the word “smarter” to the number 44222. Again, it's a guide we created called How to Organize and Remember Everything, and all you have to do to get it is to text the word “smarter”, that’s “smarter”, to the number 44222, or visit successpodcast.com. That’s successpodcast.com and join our email list.
In our previous episode we asked what really produces success by looking at what separates truly successful people from the rest. We examined many common and conflicting success maxims and looked at what the data actually says really works. We went deep into the vital importance of knowing yourself and your own strengths. Looked at the power of aligning your work with your environment and discuss the dangers of constantly over committing your time, with Eric Barker.
If you want to know the science of what really makes you successful, listen to that episode. Don't forget, if you want to get all these incredible information, links, transcripts, everything we talked about in this episode and much more, be sure to check out or show notes. Just go to successpodcast.com and hit the show notes button at the top. You know how much I talk about the concept of mental models and how vital it is to build a toolkit of mental models in order to be successful and achieve your goals. That's why this week I'm super excited to tell you about one of our sponsors, brilliant.org.
Brilliant is a math and science enrichment learning tool that makes mastering the fundamentals of math and science easy and fun. They’re offering a special promotion for Science of Success listeners, which you can get it at brilliant.org/scienceofsuccess. Mastering the fundamentals of math and science is such an important component of building to toolkit of mental models, and Brilliant is a great way to get started with that.
[0:03:12.6] MB: Hey everyone, I've got Austin with me again to talk about our sponsor for this episode, The Success Live Summit, and Austin is actually going. Any Science of Success listeners that go to the event can meet up with him in person, which should be really awesome.
[0:03:27.4] A: Yeah, absolutely. We’ll be there. My email is email@example.com. If you’re going, drop me a line. We’d love to meet. I think, largely in pursuing success, a big part of that is surrounding yourself by other people that are also striving to the level of success you are and there’s no better time to do that than at events like this, especially at Success Live.
Now, they held one earlier this year in April and it was in Dallas, Texas. It was a great success, but this time they’re extending it over the course of two days. The event is going to be September 8th and 9th in Long Beach, California and it’s open to the public. There’s some really, really amazing speaker, thought leaders, and experts coming in; Brendon Burchard, Peter Diamandis, Keith Ferrazzi.
[0:04:03.5] MB: Yeah, there’s a great crew coming including friend of the show, Simon T. Bailey.
[0:04:08.8] A: You didn’t see him.
[0:04:09.7] MB: Yes, and I am devastated. I was planning on going and I have an immovable schedule conflict, so I can’t make it, but I think it’s going to be an awesome event. Like I said, Austin and another member of the Science of Success team are going to be there in person. I would definitely recommend checking it out if it sound like something you’re interested. You can find out all the information at successlieveevent.com. Again, this is successliveevent.com. You can find everything you need to know. You can find all the ticket packages. You can find the dates. You can find everything. The event is in Long Beach, California, September 8th and 9th and it’s the Success Live Event.
[0:04:42.3] A: It’s going to be great. Some of these thought leaders, these are big names in their industry, going through these like leader strategies, building mental models, building your business and just kind of finding balance as you pursue excellence, which is becoming a better leader and a more success individual in general. Definitely recommend checking it out, successliveevent.com. Get your ticket today.
[0:04:59.1] MB: And now to the show.
[0:05:00.1] MB: Today, we have another exciting guest of the show, Simon T. Bailey. Simon is the CEO of Simon T. Bailey International, an education company that specializes in creating, learning and development content for individuals and organizations. Simon is a Hall of Fame keynote speaker and is one of the top 10 most booked corporate leadership on leadership, change and customer experience, and he will be emceeing the upcoming Success Live Summit in September.
Simon, welcome to the Science of Success.
[0:05:28.2] SB: Hey, good to be with you. Thank you for having me, Matt.
[0:05:30.9] MB: Thanks so much for going on here and sharing all of your knowledge. Tell me a little bit, I’d like to start out with what is success mean to you.
[0:05:40.8] SB: Success is really understanding how do I make a contribution to society every day, every way, everywhere, and leave society better when the way I found it. Leave a company, a business, my family, my friends better than when they first came into my life. That’s success. It's not just about you, but everyone and everything that you touch.
[0:06:08.7] MB: Wow! That’s a great definition, and it’s something that, obviously, the title of our show is the Science of Success, and I think success in many ways gets kind of a bad rap and people hear success they think money, fame, all these sort of materialistic things. In many ways, I think success to be so much more, and that definition really does a great job encapsulating a much richer and full definition of what I think success really can be.
[0:06:34.5] SB: Yeah. I’ve learned this the hard way. For many years I was just pursuing what I thought was success, but I had no significance. I was chasing money, but I had no meaning and I was in pursuit of status, things and stuff, but I had no satisfaction. When my head hit the wall a few times, I kind of woke up out of my fog and said, “There’s one thing to be successful, but there’s a whole another thing to have significance success,” and significant success is how do I help the least, the last, the lost. How do I make sure that it’s about others and not just myself? How do I being to understand intellectual humility and not have to be the smartest person in the room? In the past, success was very outward-inward, now it’s inward-outward.
[0:07:32.2] MB: For somebody that might be kind of struggling on that treadmill of material success or pursuing status and money, etc., how do you kind of make that transition and what would be some strategies you’d recommend for someone to begin that journey?
[0:07:48.3] SB: Yeah. My journey started back — I used to work for Disney for years, and Disney sent me over to Paris a few years back. While I was in Paris I had this epiphany and I asked myself three questions, and question number one; what would I do if I knew that I couldn’t fail? What would I do if no one paid me to do it? What makes me come alive? That third question came out of a book I was reading at the time written by an author named John Eldredge. In his book, Wild at Heart, John says, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive,” because what the world needs are people who come alive.
When I read that it was like the 4th of July fireworks went off in me and what I begin to recognize is 30 years ago a number of people went to work and they settle for a chair, a check and a cup of coffee in cubicle farm and woke up 30 years later and said, “This is not it.”
From that, I developed some poor strategies. Number one; finding out what makes me tick? 9What’s my core areas of strength? Where do I shine? Where do I really move into the flow? The second strategy that I quickly recognized is when you stop chasing money, money will chase you. What is it that thing that you would do if nobody paid you to do it? That you can wake up at 3:00 in the morning and do it, because it’s just who you are at the core.
Then probably the third strategy is how do I put together what I would call a start, stop and continue list, or what some might call a start, stop and accelerate list? What are the things I need to stop doing that blocks success? What are the things I need to start doing? For instance, I need to get up an hour earlier. I need to put myself into a new circle of learning that stretches me, because sometimes you can have a 50x60 dream, but you associate with people that have 8x10 thinking. How do I begin to put myself in a new circle? Then the third thing is really thinking about how will I measure how I’m doing and hold myself accountable on this journey?
[0:10:08.0] MB: There’s a lot that I want to unpack from that, and I think those are really, really good questions in terms of kind of concretely applying these ideas, “What would I do if I couldn’t fail? What would I do if no one paid me?” What do you think the best way to go about doing that? Is journaling kind of the best way to really dig in and think about those questions? Tell me a little bit more about the idea of what makes you come alive and how someone can kind of discover something within themselves that really truly makes them come alive?
[0:10:36.8] SB: First of all, I would start with journaling. My journey, my backstory is I had worked in corporate America for a number of years, but reached a place where I really sensed it was time for me to move on to that next chapter. I was 34 years of age. When I started to answer the question, “What would I do if no one paid me to do it?” I said I want to speak, write, train, consult and coach.
When I wrote those things down I said, “Okay, how would that show up in the world? Because, let’s just be real. I got a mortgage to pay, a family to take care of.” I had to kind of adjust and say, “Okay, I can’t quit my job at Disney right away. What if I create an exit strategy?”
When I came back from Paris I created an exit strategy that I would use vacation time to go on and moonlight and put a toll in the water to see if the speaking, writing, training, consulting, if I could actually turn it into something.
For those that are listening right now, after you write it down, you got to beta test it and say, “Okay. What if I try something?” You don’t have to quit your job tomorrow, but having that exit strategy gives you the confidence that, “You know what? If it doesn’t work, then maybe that’s not it,” but if it does work, you get a little activity. Then how can you invest more, do more to move in that direction? That would be my recommendation.
[0:12:04.5] MB: Tell me about this idea that when you stop chasing money, money will chase you. I want to reconcile that with — And maybe this is kind of a shallow interpretation of it, but for somebody — I’m just going to use an example. Someone who, let’s say, loves to do something, like play video games and they say, “Oh! I’m not going to chase money. I’m just going to play video games all the time.” Do you think that that’s a sustainable or realistic kind of expectation? Tell me about kind of in a concrete sense how that principle works.
[0:12:33.8] SB: Yeah. I’m so glad you came back to that. What I quickly realized is when I left this corporate job, I turned down four other jobs to go on and do my own thing. Now, let me just be real. Yes, I had bills to pay and people that were depending upon me. What I quickly recognized when I left on January 31st, 2003, hang up my single February 1st, 2003 to say, “Hey, I’m now a consultant.” I still had to pick up the phone and dial for dollars, but what I didn’t do is I didn’t appear to be desperate over the phone that if I didn’t get the deal I wasn’t going to be able to keep the lights on.
What I did in preparing my exit strategy, I knew I had about a three-year runway to make it work and if after three years it didn’t work I would have to go back and get a JOB. When I say don’t chase money, people can sense desperation. They can sense it in your voice. They can see it on your face. They can tell by the way you shake hands if you’re desperate. When I say don’t chase some money, come from a place of, “How do I provide value? How do I become a solution to a problem that they can’t live without?” When you go in and delivery and over deliver value, you can actually charge your premium. You can charge a higher margin, because now it’s not just about the deal. It’s not just about the money. It’s about how do I exceed your expectation. When people see that you come from a place of excellence, they don’t mind becoming your unofficial marketing department because of the experience that they just had with you.
[0:14:24.2] MB: I think that’s a great point. I love the idea about don’t focus on the kind of financial aspect. Focus on exceeding expectations, because in many ways, that’s how you build reputation. That’s how you build referrals, etc., that can really help ultimately kind of get you to where you want to be.
[0:14:41.8] SB: Absolutely. I think everyone listening to us is going to recognize, and I know they do, that we are now in the recommendation economy. In the recommendation economy, when you develop a reputation for being excellent, for being the subject matter expert in your area and doing great work, people will tell everybody about it. Literally, that’s how I’ve built my business in 15 years. 95% of our business is referral or recommendations from people who have seen us or have referred us. It’s a wonderful model, and you can charge a premium. Here’s the deal, there are some that can’t pay it, and that’s okay. Let us know when you can, or I might broker a deal, but what I recognized is I never cheapen my work by feeling that if I let this dollar slip through my fingers, that’s the end of the world. No. No. No. No. No. I go the opposite way. I provide great value and you’re going to get it in a result that’s sustainable. Oh, by the way, you’re going to pay me X, Y, Z.
[0:15:46.9] MB: That’s another term that I think gets thrown around a lot is — I think it’s super important to do it, but it’s also really hard in some instances to kind of contextualize it. What does it mean to you to provide value? For somebody who’s thinking about how they can provide more value to the world, what are some ways to kind of get clarity about that or think about truly delivering value?
[0:16:12.4] SB: Yeah. This is such a great question. I tend to be a storyteller, so I’m going to give you three quick stories. First story is I was in the Cayman Islands a couple of years ago and I went to the front desk to check in and they said, “I’m sorry. We don’t have your room ready, but if you wait in the lounge we’ll let you know when it’s ready.” Sure enough we sat there in the lounge and a guy by the name of Howard comes over to me and he says, “Hey, Mr. Bailey. I’m going to take care of you while you’re here.” I’m like, “Okay. Great.” We just talked and have a conversation. He says to me, Matt, “How is your trip to Halifax, Nova Scotia?” The Scooby-Doo in me says, “Huh? How did this guy know I was in Halifax, Nova Scotia?” He says to me, “Oh! I went on your Instagram feed and I happen to be from Halifax, Nova Scotia.” I’m like, “No way.” We start just yapping it up, talking and everything.
I get my room, I check in and he gives me his card. He says, “If you need anything while you’re here, call me.” I had a button missing. I need to have button replaced on a jacket. I call Howard. He comes, picks it up, brings it back. I want to give him a tip. He says, “No. This is on me.”
The next night, I’m taking clients out to dinner. We run into Howard in the lobby. He says, “Where are you going to dinner?” I said, “Oh, we’re going to such and such restaurant.” He said, “Oh! That’s a Canadian restaurant, and you got to order the flying monkey beer.” Sure enough we go to the restaurant, we order the beer. We’re like, “Oh my God! Howard is the man.”
Here is my whole point. I could have just been a regular Joe Shmoe at this hotel checking in, but somehow, Howard, went above and beyond to do the work to find out who I was and create this moment. That’s what I mean providing value. He went the extra step. He went beyond what they hired him to do, and when he saw us in the lobby, he says, “Let me give you this recommendation.” He didn’t have to do that. It’s always looking for ways to listen for free information to exceed expectation that becomes a surprise and delight, and people were like, “Whoa! That’s incredible.”
[0:18:24.1] MB: I think that’s great. In many ways that ties back into what you were talking about before. It’s all about exceeding expectations, and that’s one of the great ways that you can kind of provide value for people.
[0:18:36.1] SB: Totally. Yeah, it’s really listening at a whole another level. One of the things that I’m teaching right now is we have to move to meta-listening, and meta-listening is we’re listening between the sentences and we understand that the same letters that spell the world listen spell the word silent. Intuitively, we’re tapping into what we’re hearing in the moment and we’re saying, “Matt, I heard you say this.” “Austin, I heard you say this. Did you mean that?” Have you thought about, it’s that taking what is in front of you and coming from a place where you slowdown in order to speed up, because hearing is a courtesy, but listening is a complement. How do we just listen at that meta-level to really connect at a deeper point?
[0:19:28.1] MB: You know, one of my favorite stories about the idea of slowing down in order to speedup, there’s an old military saying from the sniper corps that slow is smooth and smooth is fast. I always tell that to people, and I think it’s a great way to think about. I totally agree with your point that in many instances when you slow down and kind of really take the time to do something right, it ends up actually being a much better way to do it.
[0:19:54.6] SB: Totally. You show the person that they matter, and that it’s not about me, but it’s about we and how can we help each other.
[0:20:08.8] MB: Somebody who’s listening in, how they can become better listeners and prove the skill of meta-listening?
[0:20:18.0] SB: Yeah. There are three levels of listening. The first level of listening is polite listening. If someone’s talking to you, you kind of give them the screensaver face. You got to move away from polite listening to really ensuring that the person knows that you understand where they’re coming from. That’s the first level.
The second level of listening is distracted listening where people are just waiting for another person to shut up so they can jump in and make their point. How to overcome distracted listening is to intentionally, as you’re listening, do what I call three, two, one, and in your head, “Three, two, one. Okay, they said this. All right, what does this mean?” and either take notes, but somehow book in and say, “Okay. Here’s what I heard you say. I just want to make sure I got it.”
The third level of listening is really probably the most important, and that is intentional listening. That is listening with your eyes. It’s listening with your ears. It’s listening with your heart and it’s allowing that person to get everything out. Then after they get everything out, before you say anything, you pause to let them know that you’ve got it and in that pregnant pause, that it just hangs for a moment, it lets them know that what they have shared is important. That’s showing intentionality, that you’re being intentional about them, not letting you shove your opinion down their throat. I think if we practice that a lot more, we would accomplish a lot more as well.
I think probably if I can add just maybe a fourth idea to this, is to also understand that when people know that they are listened to and somebody values what they have to say, they will provide even more information. It’s almost saying, “Tell me more,” because they know that you got it and you want to hear more, and then you get people on a role and then they want to keep going.
Now, you may have some individuals who are socialized introverts who may not be asked forward coming. You’ll have to also understand how they’re wired and how they perhaps receive or retain information. That’s beginning to understand a person’s learning style. Are you sensing that they’re auditory, hands-on, kinesthetic, and then engaging them in the manner in which they learn or they want to engage with you. Literally, listening provides so much free data that if you’re just paying attention, you move from communication to deeper connection.
[0:23:00.5] MB: Yeah. That reminds me. One of the things that I really try to focus on when I’m meeting somebody, when I’m having a conversation, I spend a tremendous amount of time, almost all my time really trying to understand them, what they’re saying, what they’re talking about, where they’re coming from, their position, their point of view. To me it’s almost like the old example of if you’re going to chop down a tree, if you have five hours, you spend the first four hours sharpening your axe.
To me, if I can really deeply understand where somebody is coming from, what their problems are, etc., it’s very simple and easy to kind of figure out what the next step is or what they need help with or kind of how you can potentially provide value for them.
[0:23:41.9] SB: Exactly.
[0:23:43.4] MB: I want to go back to something you touched on earlier in the conversation, and you mentioned the idea of intellectual humility. Tell me more about that and why it’s so important.
[0:23:52.5] SB: We are living in a world right now where if over the last 100 years we’ve moved from the cultural age, to the industrial age, to the knowledge age, to now the age of transformation, right? Everybody at some level in different industries are trying to stand head and shoulders above anybody else because of automation, disruption, change, and living in what many might call a VUCA environment. VUCA, the acronym stands for volatility, ambiguity, uncertainty, and complexity.
In this VUCA world everybody has the need to be the smartest person in the room, and what that does is men and women who may want to contribute to the conversation, because someone has a need to prove a point or a need to advance their career or a need to get a deal done, the person who screams the loudest and talks the most appears to be the smart one. What I’m saying, that is not true. Intellectual humility simply says if I know, I don’t have to tell, because if I tell, perhaps I don’t know.
Intellectual humility understands how to spend 80% of your time listening, 20% of your time responding, because the person who has more time to respond because they are reflecting, they’re taking it in, that’s the person that has intellectual humility, because they don’t have anything to prove, but they understand the power of gaining by listening.
[0:25:49.2] MB: I think that’s great. That kind of ties back into all of the listening that we are just talking about. I think the other point that you made that’s really important is how critical it is, or how much more powerful it is when you come from a place of not having anything to prove or not feeling like you need to prove anything.
[0:26:09.6] SB: Yeah. One of the greatest mistakes when I got promoted to my leadership role, corporate American Express card on the door, thought I was hot stuff. The reality is I was a jerk of a boss, and how it was proven that I was a jerk, I went through a 360-degree feedback of my peer leader’s direct reports, rated me on my performance and 5.0 is the highest, 1.0 is the lowest. The threshold for leaders at the time had to be at 4. or higher. I came in the 3.5, 3.0 in many of the categories, in many of the questions. Such questions as, “Do you trust your leader? Does your leader spend time with you? Does your leader give you feedback on your performance? Does your leader walk a mile in your shoes?”
My boss called me in the office and he said, “Walk me to a typical day when you come in the office.” I’m like, “Well, I come to the office, read my email, then I’m off to meetings.” He says, “Do you ever stop to take time to engage the cast members —” At Disney, employers were called cast members. “To engage them in dialogue?” I said, “Dude! I’m from Buffalo, New York. I don’t care what they did this weekend. I don’t care what the name of the dog, the cat, the niece, the nephew, the son, the daughter. You got the email. You got the memo. For forth and create magic. That was my attitude.” He looked at me and said, “That would be your problem right there.”
For the next 18 months I had to go to the Disney University, which is internal training of the company. This has stayed with me all these years later, is that people don’t care as you know until they know how much you care. Knowing how much you care about them doesn’t mean I have to outtalk them or outthink them or prove to them that I’m right. I really believe when you practice intellectual humility, what you’re really saying is three things. Number one; I release the need to be right. Number two; I understand the power of diversity, which is diversity of opinion and the diversity of perspective. Number three; I don’t need a bunch of yes people in my life. I need somebody who’s willing to say no and will back it up and tell me why, because then that stretches my thinking. I learned this the hard way. I was able to change my behavior, but this whole thing of intellectual humility just burns really deep.
[0:28:29.3] MB: You know, I think that specifically the power of the diversity of opinion is something that I think our society really struggles with today. The idea that we all can live in these sort of self-curated echo chambers where we only ever get information that validates and verifies what we already believe, consciously stepping out of that and trying to find opinions. People who would say no, people who would disagree with you, people who would challenge your ideas. That’s the only way that you can get smarter and the only way that you can ultimately craft your ideas and get the sort of seek truth and what actually is real and what’s really going on in the world.
[0:29:07.1] SB: Now, if you see me, I’m giving you a first bump high five, because I so believe that, because there’s too much noise. There’s a lot of talking, but not a lot of listening and connecting, and I’ve been telling people, “If everyone in your circle looks like you, your circle is too small, because we’re in a global world.”
I was just on the phone before I talked to you with a friend of mine in Japan. Just like, “What’s happening in Japan?” I don’t want to read in local media here in the United States about what’s happening in Japan. You tell me what’s happening in Japan. It broadens my perspective to get out of my bubble and understand what’s happening globally.
[0:29:52.6] MB: That’s something that I think about a lot. How can we can more people to step outside of their own limited perspectives and seek disconfirming opinions, seek people who are going to actively challenge what they think and believe?
[0:30:07.8] SB: I think everyone listening to us is they’ve got to think about at least, if not weekly, monthly or quarterly. Go on a fieldtrip to another business, another industry. Put yourself in a place where you’re uncomfortable. Give me an example.
Last week I was invited by a gentleman that I met at a conference and he said he found out that I was a Buffalo Bill’s football fan, so he said, “Why don’t you come up. We’ll go to a Patriot’s game in Foxboro Stadium. I’ve got 50-yard line seats. You can come with me and my family.” I said, “You know? I’m going to do it,” and I did it. We tailgated. Had a great time and he said, “You know what? I started this manufacturing company and I’d love to introduce you to a hundred of my CEO friends in manufacturing.”
I know nothing about manufacturing. Talking about a fish out of water, but I decided to go last week, and they took me a tour to their facility. His place of business and another place of business. Five pages of notes and one simple little thing that I walked away that I said, “I can apply that to my life and my business.” They manufacture parts for the aerospace industry, and because they are on a journey of quality improvement every day, he asked every employee to share what did they improve the day before and what were they going to improve that day? He didn’t stop there. He says, “What you got to improve it, learn it and share it.”
You’ve got people in a circle saying, “Here’s what I improved yesterday. Here’s what I learned, and let me share it with the rest of the team.” Now, this embedded and engrained in this culture. Then I’m like, “Oh my goodness! I got to share that with my team.”
Here’s the whole point, Matt, it would have never happened if I would stay to my bubble and not went on this field trip, not went in and build the rapport with him. I said to him, I said, “Ray, dude. You’re a white guy. I’m a black guy. I feel like we deal with some of the same challenges, but because we never talk to each other, we don’t know.” He says, “We got to do more talking.” It was wonderful, then I met all of his CEO friends and it was just a fabulous conversation, but it would’ve never happened if I didn’t get out of my comfort zone of playing it safe. Everyone listening to us, quarterly, go on a field trip.
Secondly, what would it be like to pick up a magazine that you don’t normally read? A magazine that will challenge you that’s out of your comfort zone? Number three, what would it be like to take up an activity or do something that you’ve never done before?
I have a friend of mine who, every year, sets aside $1,000 to invest in a hobby. I recently got together with him for breakfast and I said, “What’s the new hobby that you’re going to invest a year in?” He only sets aside a thousand dollars. He says, “You know what? I’m investing in wine futures.” I was like, “How in the world do you do that?” He said, “Oh, here’s how you do it. You have to look at the wines.”
He gave me all of these education, literally an hour breakfast meeting about his hobby of wine futures, and that’s not even a support industry. My whole point is he found a way to do something that took him out of his comfort zone and it really challenged me to begin to think through, “How do I move out of my comfort zone and not just settle for the status quo?”
[0:33:52.9] MB: That’s a great point, and I’m a huge fan of pursuing new hobbies, and kind of from sort of a nerve science perspective, especially in the idea of kind of rewiring your brain, getting some new neurons firing and getting out of your comfort zones. One of the things that I’ve recently taken up is drawing and sketching which is something that I’m really fascinated with. I used to love as a kid and now I can barely draw a stick figure.
It’s great to kind of just use different parts of your brain and form these novel connections, because that’s really — If you look a lot of the neuroscience, the root of creativity is when you feed all kinds of diverse information into your brain and your subconscious recombines it into new configurations.
[0:34:34.7] SB: That’s so true. Think about this, Dr. Christian [inaudible 0:34:36.7] at Princeton University’s psychology department says in his research, when the brain is worried, the brain slows down. When the brain slows down, it doesn’t create neurogenesis, which is the process of growing neurons, which grows the brain.
I looked at that and I say that the brain slows down because of worry. Worry has a BFF called stress, and stress has a first cousin called fear. When stress, fear and worry get on the same page they slow down the human operating system.
To your point, this ability to introduce a new idea or a habit, or a hobby, it allows the neurons to grow, which then connects to your confidence, which then impacts your results.
[0:35:24.1] MB: I’d love to change gears a little bit. One of the things that stuck out of me immediately when I was looking at your website is your purpose statement, the idea of teaching a billion people to be brilliant in the average world. I may be paraphrasing that a little bit, but I just thought that was a really cool, and I found to be a really motivational purpose statement.
[0:35:44.1] SB: If we can reach a billion people, a billion people can impact everyone in their sphere of influence with this just simple message that you aren’t born to fit in. you were born to be brilliant, because the days of average are over, done, history. That dog will not hunt anymore. Everybody’s got to find out wherever they are in society. How do I be my most brilliant self and make the best and the most important difference than I can make for those who depend upon me? Now, that’s success to that person, and that person can say, “Oh my goodness! If it can happen for me, it can happen for them.”
Our whole goal of reaching one billion people is how do we touch people every day, every way, everywhere, every device, 24/7, 365, no matter where they are in the globe.
[0:36:45.1] MB: Tell me more about that. How are you — Billion is obviously very ambitious, and I love how kind of big that goal is, but how are you concretely or tactically pursuing that, kind of strategy of reaching a billion people?
[0:37:00.9] SB: We have decided that over the next decade we are going to begin to identify and select people who’ve already come to us who have asked to be mentored, to be certified, to teach our brilliance methodology. We’re going to begin to take some of — I’ve written nine books and many of them have the brilliant or brilliants theme. We’re going to certify people on the four corners of the globe to begin to now teach this whole brilliance process.
I am just a guy from the ghetto of Buffalo, New York who just happened to have life happen and I had to figure it out. I experienced a lot of failure before I experienced success. Now, we’re going to pay it forward over the next decade. That’s the first thing.
Second thing that I’m really excited about is we have partnered with LinkedIn learning and launched a course called Building Business Relationships, and that course in just less than a year or so has reached a half a million people in a hundred countries. They’ve asked for me to come back to do some more online things with them and we have agreed to do that.
What we quickly recognized is that there are platforms that we can now upload our content in addition to certified people. We’re going to leverage platforms to reach people in a fresh way and obviously keep tabs on how we’re doing that.
The third thing that we’re going to do is we’re digitizing everything that we currently offer as a way of disseminating it into the world and giving people permission to use it, to experience it, and then give us feedback as to what’s working.
As people begin to download and access all of things, we’ll be able to identify our reach in the world, but the goal is — I’m still very young, but if I was to transition in the next decade, I would still be talking from the grave and I would still be able to reach a billion people even though I’m not here, because we’ve put these different things in place.
[0:39:20.5] MB: One of the biggest things that I’m a huge fan of on the show are mental models. You’ve heard me talk a lot about mental models and how critically important it is if you want to be successful to build a toolkit of mental models that can help you better understand reality.
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You touched on the brilliant methodology. You’ve obviously written a ton and talked a lot about brilliance. What does brilliance mean to you?
[0:41:46.2] SB: Brilliance is your insight. It’s your potential. It’s your genius. It’s your flow. When I first started writing and talking about brilliance, I based it on some of the research work of Dr. Howard Gardner, who is a professor of education at Harvard. Dr. Gardner, he and a senior researcher, did an interesting study over a 20 plus year period and what they discovered is that children up into the age of four are operating at the genius level.
The same group of children who were studying in their early 20s and only 10% were still operating at the genius or brilliance level, and in their late 20s, early 30s, only 2%. The question is, “Where did this genius or brilliance go?” It didn’t go anywhere, but it became buried by a society that says, “Color within the lines. Sit down. Give it back, you can’t do that.”
The more people continued to hear what they can’t do, where they can’t go and who they cannot become, there is a neurological path that is created in the brain that causes individuals to shut down. People has this potential, this insight, this genius. They want to move into flow but they’re out of flow and their brilliance is blocked. When I talk about your talent, your gift, your ability, that’s what brilliance is at the core. It’s when you have the alignment of head, heart and hands. When you have that alignment and you’re in flow and you’re living form the inside-out, instead from the outside-in.
[0:43:15.5] MB: That’s fascinating research. I totally agree with that conclusion, which I feel like the structure of our educational system, our society in so many ways is almost designed to stamp out creativity.
[0:43:30.5] SB: If you think about it, when the educational system was created, it was created to put people into a job, and a job stands for just overboard, or in some circles they say just over-broke. Years ago, the education system wants to raise people up to go to a job, work 40 hours, buy the white house with the picket fence and then retire and obviously get an education along the way.
Now, in a so disruptive world, we are reeducating folks to understand that according to McKinsey Consulting, within the next decade, 250 million knowledge worker jobs will be eliminated because of automation. Now we have to recognize the word education comes from a Greek word which means educari, that means to draw out, not about putting in. We’ve got to draw out creativity. We’ve got to draw out intelligence. Intellect is in the mind, but intelligence is in the heart. How do we begin to draw out of people what’s in them and say, “Matt, what can you do? How can you reinvent yourself?”
I’ll give you a quick example. I was in Philadelphia a few weeks ago and I got into this Uber car. A guy picks me up and he’s all inked out, tattoos everywhere and I’m like, “Wow! This is a different kind of guy.” I said, “I’m going to strike up a conversation with him. I’m not going to prejudge him.”
It turns out I end up talking to this guy all the way to the airport. I said, “What’s your story? How did you end up driving for Uber?” He says I worked as a glass blower and my job was eliminated and the company closed and I still had rent to pay.” He said, “A friend of mine said, “Hey, go drive for Uber.” He says, “I started driving for Uber,” but then he said, “I was talking with a buddy of mine who lives out in California and he has 4 million subscribers on YouTube, and YouTube pays X-amount of dollars once you reach a certain threshold in subscription.”
He said to me, his friend said to him, “Hey, start a YouTube channel. I’ll tell my 4 million subscribers to start following you and you can build up your subscriber base.” I said, “How many subscribers do you have?” He said, “I have 150,000.” I’m like, “What are you talking about?” He says, “I just talk about whatever I want to and I get a check from Uber monthly.” And I’m like, “No way.” He says, “I didn’t stop there. A buddy of mine told me about Instacart where you can make $500 a week in tips by delivering people’s groceries.” He said, “I’m going to do that.” He says, “I’ll never going to work for anybody else.”
I’m listening to him and all I heard was this guy has found a way to shift his brilliance, because he’s got bills to pay. He’s got things to do and find a creative way to still matter in society.
[0:46:33.7] MB: For someone listening, how they can kind of dust off all of these clutter that society has placed on them and start unlocking their own brilliance?
[0:46:43.6] SB: I think first of all you got to take out a sheet of paper and you time yourself 30 seconds, and I want you to write down in 30 seconds everything that’s right about you, because society tells us what’s wrong with us. I want you to say what’s right. If 30 seconds is not enough time, then that lets you know you’ve got to do some deeper work.
The second thing I want you to identify is who in your life is your biggest fan? What is it that they tell you that you talk about often? Solving a problem in the world, starting a business, growing a business, getting promoted, whatever that is. What’s that ongoing dialogue that you are having out loud, that those who know you say they can put a mirror in front on you and reflect back to you that ongoing reoccurring thought. That’s the second thing.
Third thing I would invite you to think about is let’s say you want to do something new. Before you literally jump ship or change course, what would it be like to put a toll in the water and invest in it, experience it before you go and do it? Because let’s say it doesn’t work, at least you haven’t cost time, effort. You invest it but you didn’t go all in.
Now, don’t do what I did. I totally like cut bait, but I had the extra strategy that I was working on. I would say have an exit strategy, because that exit strategy will allow you to forecast, analyze what do you need to make happen. Here’s the last thing I’ll say about this. There will never be a perfect time for you to do what you want to do. At some point you’re just going to say, “I’m going to have to go for it,” and find your wings on your way down so you could become airborne.
[0:48:42.6] MB: Yeah. I totally agree with that, and I think it’s so important to try little ideas, little test and experiments, and if something doesn’t work, just move on to the next thing. If it starts to get traction or it starts to work or really starts to pick up steam, then that’s when you double down and invest and continue to kind of move down that path.
[0:49:03.0] SB: Oh, totally. Everyone listening to us, I think, Matt, they got to know. Fail big. Fail often. Fail early. I was working with a client a couple of years ago and every quarter he gives out the failure award in his company, whoever had the biggest failure. I am here to tell you, I’ve had a lot of failures and I like failure, because I discovered an addiction, failure comes before success. When I started embracing failure, I realized that you could fail forward. You can fail up. You can fail through. Do not be afraid to fail. Go for it. Fail miserably, because I’m telling you, when you figure it out, OMG.
[0:49:46.0] MB: Even this podcast is a great example of something that — I’ve tried a down or more side projects and things and this started out a couple of episodes and kind of a partnership with a friend of mine. We said, “Hey, we’ll try it out. We’ll do it, and if anything kind of picks up steam, then we’ll keep going.” Here I am almost two years later and the show has got over a million downloads and we’ve grown tremendously, but there’s a graveyard of failed ideas that you don’t hear about that we’re on the road the show eventually coming to life.
[0:50:17.7] SB: Congratulations on over a million downloads in two years. That has to be a record. The reality is you also built confidence behind every failure. It built that confidence and that resilience to keep moving forward.
[0:50:33.8] MB: I want to kind of move back of something you mentioned earlier, which is this idea of — I think you described it in some previous works and speeches, is the idea of emotional congruence. Tell me more about that.
[0:50:45.8] SB: yeah. I learned this concept from Rabi Harold Kushner who wrote the book What Matters the Most in Life. What Rabi teaches, he says emotional congruence is when everything that you think, everything that you say and everything that you feel is in alignment. He says however, when you’re not in alignment, you’re operating an emotional incongruence and there’s a split in your soul and you’re pulled in a million different directions because you’re having to go after every shiny object.
How you come to a place of emotional congruence is first of all quieting the clutter that sometimes comes in our minds through thoughts and really beginning to filter those thoughts and say, “If they are negative, how do I harness them and turn them into a positive thought, or how do I make the most a situation so I’m coming from a place of being healthy, happy and whole?” IT’s the first thing.
Then, second thing, in operating an emotional congruence is understanding my verbal software. Language is a software of the mind. It’s almost 10 million words in the English world. The average person uses about 2,000 to 3,000 words. If you drill down even more, there are 200 or 300 words that we all use on an ongoing basis. If I’m going to come from a place of emotional congruence, I have to recognize that my words carry energy and my words create worlds. If my words create worlds, how do I begin to understand that emotions run the show and how do I begin to reinvent my world through the power of speech, through the power of language?
Then the third thing is years ago there was a song written called Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings. Feelings are so powerful, because you can feel things intuitively before they actually manifest on the outside. That’s the whole phenomena of what many call deja vu. When you come from an emotional congruent place, you literally are rehearsing the future in the present by emotionally saying, “How do I harness my potential by quieting my mind, monitoring my speech and in spirit and in my soul coming from a healthy place where I just believe? When you do that, that’s when you’re in congruence, emotional congruence.
[0:53:25.0] MB: When you talk about quieting the mind, are you referencing meditation?
[0:53:29.7] SB: Yes. Definitely meditation. In fact, everyone listening to us, I would invite them to capture these numbers, 15-8-30-90. What would it be like to take the 15 minutes and to chunk it down into three five-minute segments, and the first five minutes meditate. Just get quiet. There’s a lot of different approaches to meditation. There’s apps on meditation. How I suggest you meditate is what works for you.
Finding that five minutes to get quiet. Second five minutes to read or listen to something that inspires you, and that third five minutes to stretch and get in line with the day. Here’s how the formula works and here’s why meditation is so powerful.
15 minutes a day creates 7 days a week. 7 days a week creates 30 days. 30 days creates 90 days. If I want significant success, I have to reverse engineer. How did I get to this quarter or this 90 days? It’s the result of what you’ve done 30, 60, 90. How did you get there? What have you done the last 7 days? How did you get there? 15 minutes a day. If I want significant success that is sustained, overtime, how do I really master the 15 minutes a day, and that’s where the rubber meets the road and really being emotionally congruent.
[0:54:56.8] MB: I think you bring up another great point, which is the power of reverse engineering, and it’s such a tremendous mental model. It’s something that I use all the time, which is kind of thinking back to not only how did you get to where you are, but also where you want to be and then kind of reverse engineering what needs to happen in order for you to get there.
[0:55:16.8] SB: And also recognizing that you don’t decide the future, you decide your habits, and your habits decide your future. The secret of true success to your point, reverse engineering, it’s hidden in your daily routine. When you begin to examine the daily routine, that’s when you begin to see the gremlins of brilliance and can begin to extract those out of your life so that you have to sustain success.
[0:55:52.6] MB: For someone who’s listening to this conversation, we’ve given out a number of kind of tactics and strategies. What would be one kind of action item or a piece of homework that you would give them as a starting point to implementing many of the ideas we’ve talked about today?
[0:56:08.4] SB: Yeah. There are three things. Number one; I want to invite everyone to answer the question why am I here. One my mentors said to me a number of years ago, he said, “The greatest strategy in life is not death. The greatest strategy in life is to be alive and not know why.”
Really answering the why am I hear question, then begs the second question what can I do. As the next step, I want everyone to think about what can I do? We are now in the era called do something. Nobody is going to do it for you. The best hand that will feed you at the end of the day is the one at the end of your wrist. What can I do? Because the what I can do question then leads to the third question, and that is where am I going?
I was in Harae, Zimbabwe not too long ago with one of my mentors. He said to me, he said, “Do you have a 20-year strategic life plan?” I said, “Why do I need a 20-year strategic plan?” He said, “Because in 20 years you are going to be older but will you be better?” When he said it, it was like, “Whoa!”
Now, I have a 20-year strategic life plan. I say to everyone that’s listening to us, when you answer that very question, where am I going, you’ll discover that some people plan their vacations better than they plan their lives. Whatever age you are right now, add plus 20 to it and then say, “In 20 years, where do I want to be?” Reverse engineer and say, “How am I going to get there?” Then every single day, begin to say, “I’m going to put one foot in front of the other to make where I’m going a reality.
[0:57:59.5] MB: Where can listeners find you and all your books and all of these resources online?
[0:58:05.7] SB: Yeah. They can go to simontbailey.com, Simon T. — T for terrific — Bailey. That’s a bad joke, T for terrific, right? Bailey.com. Simontbailey.com. All our information is there.
[0:58:17.7] MB: Perfect. Simon, thank you so much for coming on the show sharing all of these wisdom. So many great insights and stories. It was a pleasure to have you on here.
[0:58:26.4] SB: Thank you for having me. Good to be with you, Matt.
[0:58:29.1] MB: Thank you so much for listening to The Science of Success. Listeners like you are why we do this podcast. The emails and stories we receive from listeners around the globe bring us joy and fuel our mission to unleash human potential. I love hearing from listeners. If you want to reach out, share your story, or just say hi, shoot me an email. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s email@example.com. I’d love to hear from you and I read and respond to every listener email.
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