“No matter what your ability is, effort is what ignites that ability and turns it into accomplishment.”
Dr Carol Dweck
Nick Shaw is the co-founder of Renaissance Periodization (RP), a multi-million-dollar health and fitness company that has improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of clients around the world. Through its leading programs, technologies, and team of PhDs on staff, RP gives its subscribers an easy to follow nutrition plan that fits neatly into your schedule so you can achieve your health / fitness goals.
Over the years, the RP team has sold hundreds of thousands of books to help people with their nutrition, training, and recovery, and to help create healthy habits. Nick has also personally coached numerous world-class athletes including CrossFit Games champions, international weightlifters, UFC fighters, Navy SEALs, and Olympians.
Last year, Forbes published a feature story that documented Nick’s journey and RP’s meteoric rise from a small business into an influential tech company with an industry-leading mobile app available on both Apple and Google.
However, tragedy struck in January 2020 when Nick’s wife, Lori Shaw, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. Lori is not just the mother to their two children, but also an instrumental part of the RP business.
Shortly after the diagnosis, the COVID pandemic swept the world, forcing the Shaw family to juggle homeschooling, chemotherapy treatments, and navigating the business landscape in the most uncertain time our generation has faced.
In November 2020, Nick published Fit for Success, a book that outlines the seven foundational habits for achievement to help anyone, irrespective of background, chart their path to success. It also delves into some of his favorite books, most valuable takeaways, and key lessons from his rollercoaster journey, to complement the insights gained from working closely with the most accomplished individuals on the planet.
Check out the YouTube or podcast version where Nick Shaw does the Win the Day Rocket Round, answering questions about his favorite quote, what advice he’d give his 18-year-old self, the one thing on his bucket list, and a whole lot more. 🚀
In this episode, we’ll go through:
Before we begin, remember that the right bit of inspiration can completely change the trajectory of someone’s life, so if there’s a friend or loved one who needs to hear this episode, share it with them right now.
Let’s WIN THE DAY with Nick Shaw!
What was 'success' to you when you were a teenager? And when did the possibility of owning your own business first come on your radar?
I was really into sports and anything fitness-centric. Although, I will say the one thing that I realized pretty early on that has always stuck with me — which is really important in fitness — there's never a place that you arrive at. You're always just doing it because you like it, there's always a little bit more you can strive for, and you can work really hard.
Typically, if you work really hard (like with fitness), results come. So I guess those were two really good things to be drilled in my brain early on. And they've always stuck with me because there are so many similarities between business and fitness, and I love seeing how those they're alike.
You're right, people get way too focused on a quick destination, rather than the journey. If they carry that attitude to multiple areas, their life can quickly become a mess.
Totally. It will. I can give you a great fitness example. A lot of people, they get so stuck on a set number, "Hey, I want to lose 20 pounds." And then they get those 20 pounds off, but then what? Or they don't develop those good habits because they are so focused on the outcome. What they need to focus is on is setting good habits.
They don't develop those good habits because they are so focused on the outcome.
If you focus on setting good habits, you're eventually going to get to a good outcome, but maybe that good outcome is you lose 15 pounds, but you don't have to do anything super crazy at the end. And, for most people, that's probably a better trade-off.
You need to love the process, rather than being so focused on the outcome.
What was the gap in the market that you saw for Renaissance Periodization (RP) and how were you able to assemble this amazing team of 20+ PhDs and eight registered dietitians to help make your vision a reality?
My buddy who started RP with me was always really smart guy. I met him in college. And he went on to get his masters and later he got his PhD in sport physiology, essentially studying how do you make athletes as best as they can be. That research requires you to take a look at a lot of finer details.
And so, we started out working with a lot of athletes. You would see some folks that could just skate by with genetics, but maybe the stuff that they were doing wasn't really the best. But if you have really good genetics, you can do that; you can skate by. But if you take someone with really good genetics, and then on top of that, you combine an evidence-based program that has the best methodology behind it, you get some really crazy outcomes.
Think of someone people like Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant, who are very genetically gifted, of course, but they are also just tenacious hard workers — probably some of the hardest workers of all time. If you combine genetic gifts with a tenacious work ethic, you get the best athletes of all time. So, that's really what we were just trying to combine. If you have just one or the other, that's okay. But if you combine both of them together, then you really have something. So, that's really what the gap was in the market about a decade ago.
What is an 'evidence-based approach' to nutrition and training for people who don't know?
You can find one study out there that can say pretty much anything, right? And so, if you only go by one study, you could be really led astray if you only go by that. But an evidence-based approach looks at all the combined evidence out there. You take a look at a meta analysis. You take a look at literature reviews, which can combine hundreds and hundreds of studies.
So, when you have hundreds of studies and it starts pointing you in one direction, you know that you're probably on the right track. Yet, if you only rely on one study, you may be heading in the wrong direction. And so, when you pool everything together, it just helps point you in the right direction. That's really what evidence-based is about.
In 2015, your wife Lori quit her successful corporate job to support you at RP. I'm married, you're married, so we know that marriages can be tough without the added complexity of working together at the same time! What did you focus on as a collective to make both your business and your marriage a success?
We were just really struggling in terms of the help we needed. You know how it is as a one-person business early on, where you have to do everything. I didn't know what it looked like, but I knew I needed help. Over time what we did, because as you said it can be tricky working with a spouse, right!? We focused on how we could compartmentalize things where Lori could do the things she wanted to do and is great at.
Because she left a fantastic corporate job and is a super, super smart, incredibly accomplished woman. We said, "You specialize in what you want to specialize because you're fantastic at doing that." And that's what led her into doing all of our cookbooks and recipes, and all that stuff, because she's a phenomenal cook, top-notch, and I'm very thankful for that, of course. Our approach was to give her a couple of areas that were all hers.
Yeah, the importance of having that discipline around each other's lane, so you can each focus on having the impact you want to have without feeling like you're stepping on each other's toes.
That's a real good summary. Because I mean, it is just another normal work setting, where sometimes you have to tell people what to do a little bit here and there. And if you mix that in with a spouse, you can carry over when the "work day" ends. So, it can be a little bit of a slippery slope, and that's why we wanted to segment things as best we could.
Well, it's a testament to both of your characters that you're still able to create such a successful business and have a great family at the same time. So, well done on keeping all of that together.
2020 was a year of enormous transition for the whole world, but in January 2020 your family was facing a lot more than the pandemic. Can you take us into that difficult time for your family, and perhaps what your mindset was like when you first received the news about Lori?
First of all, I'll say she's doing great now, a year and a half later, which is phenomenal news. In January 2020 she was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer, just five days before my son's eighth birthday. And then she had surgery in February. In March, she started chemo.
And then what happens in March 2020? COVID, the pandemic, and everything hit. And we had to take it incredibly serious because she's gone through chemo and was immune compromised to basically the highest level you can be. So we had to be really, really careful.
We're just not the type of people who are going to sit around and let life dictate what we're going to do. We don't want to sit around and be victims or whatever. So, we were just like, "Well, how do we make the most of this?" And we focused on things that we could control.
We're just not the type of people who are going to sit around and let life dictate what we're going to do.
We looked at the handful of things that you can do each and every single day that you have control and impact over. And that's what we did. That's what we focused on. And ultimately, that's what led to me writing the book Fit for Success because I was like, "I'm not going anywhere for the next three or four months. Literally, I'm not going anywhere. I'm going to take this time, I think I have some know talking points to put in the book."
I created the Success Pyramid. And everything just came together from there.
There's a mental health pandemic happening behind the scenes right now, and a lot of people are really struggling. On this show, we like to try and keep it as raw as possible from that mental health perspective to give people those insights. And totally feel free not to answer this question, if you don't feel comfortable doing so. Is there a particularly dark day or dark moment that stands out in the last year or two that you can think of?
I think just the day that my wife found out, because really it's one of these things where you just... I mean, my wife is a healthier person than I am — and I run fitness company. So, that just gives you some perspective as to just how luck, genetics, or whatever it is can play a role there. But instantly overnight, it literally just changes everything.
What I like to tell people is, it's entirely different when you're just thinking about these things. And then when you're truly thrust into having to put them into action every single day for months, if not a year on end. That was a big turning point where I was like, "It is really time to put all of these things in the practice more than I've ever done before."
That was even before COVID hit. Then you throw in COVID on top of that, and now it was like this just complete windfall of things.
Perhaps the second day was March 12th, and funny enough where we live here in North Carolina, my kids didn't go to school that day, because there was some weird water boil thing. I was driving my buddy to the airport because he was in town to visit, and that's when everything unraveled that day, and I'm just like, "Holy crap." We have all this stuff going on, of course going through chemo and all of that, that's enough.
Now, you throw in all of this!? It was a recognition that there was no time to mess around and feel sorry for yourself. It was about getting back to, "What can we control? Our kids are going to be homeschooled now, what can we do? What are the things that we can do each and every single day that are going to turn this around, so it's not just this really rough year?" And I think, knock on wood, we were able to make the most of it.
What one or two books have contributed most to the mindset that you've got today?
So, the first one that jumps out at me is called The Slight Edge. And ironically, it did not make it in the book, because I had my draft and everything completed. But this is one of the books that, when I read it, it was life-changing. Nothing in there is new or crazy, but you see that these little incremental things each and every single day — if you are consistent and disciplined with them — add up over time and you just get this snowball effect eventually.
That was when I started writing down a handful of things that I would do every single day, no matter what's going on.
And I love reading. I don't know about you, but I actually get really physically excited. Sometimes I'm like, "Oh my gosh, I got a new book here! I can't wait to read it." I know that's a total nerd thing to say, but do you get that at all?
I do. And literally every single book that I've read has changed my life in some capacity — every single one. If you just get one ideas, insight, or solution, as a result of reading that book, it can change everything for you.
Do you do audio books or hardcover?
I'm a little bit of both. So, actually I have to make a road trip tomorrow, which is a five hour drive. I was actually really excited because I have 10 hours of audio books. I know that that's probably going to cover me all the way there and probably back too, so I'm really excited for that. So, I do audiobooks if I have road trips.
When I'm done with a book, any book, I write down what I believe is the primary concept from the book. It doesn't have to be pages and pages of notes. I ask myself, "What would the author think is probably one of the most important points here in this book?" And I try to just make a list of those. Every now and again, I'll just flip back through it. And so, this is a really long-winded answer, if we circle back to you had mentioned two books.
The other book that has made a big difference for me in terms of my mindset is Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink. When you think about it, anything that happens is on you. And when you think about it that way, it doesn't matter if someone is five levels below you in an organization, if they mess up, it's on you because you should have taught them better. At the end of the day, all roads lead back to you, the choices you make, and how accountable you are.
At the end of the day, all roads lead back to you, the choices you make, and how accountable you are.
So, if mistakes are made, don't blame other people. This is something that my kids tried doing and I'm like, "No, no, no, no, no. We're not going to blame other people." They're nine and seven years old, so, maybe it'll sink in eventually! Or maybe I repeat it enough that they do get it. Hopefully one day they'll catch themselves and think, "Oh, I'm not going to complain. I'm not going to blame other people. What can I do to fix the issue?"
You touched on the victim mindset, which greatly undermines any ability people have to be able to create whatever circumstances that they want. What do you do from a practical perspective to help get people out of that victim mindset and into more of a success or growth mindset?
This goes back to the second principle in my book, which is the 'internal locus of control.' So, if you have an external locus of control, you tend to be more of that victim mentality where things are happening to you and there's nothing that you can do. I just, I don't agree with that. I mean, I don't care what your circumstances are — and I definitely understand and have lots of empathy for people who are in bad situations — but if you take that external locus of control, it does not lead to good outcomes in terms of your mental health, physical health, and all this stuff. It just doesn't. And this has been proven time and time again in all sorts of studies.
So, you have to look inside and be like, "Okay, whatever's happening, it might be objectively bad, but what can I do about it? There has to be something that I can do." And maybe it's really small, but even those really small things starts to put you back on the right track. If you can do those little things, probably gain a little bit of momentum, probably start to feel a little bit better about yourself, probably become a bit more hopeful, because now you know that what you do really matters, and now you're on the better track. So, that's really, I think just the biggest key, if I had to give one that would be it, hands down.
You've worked with UFC fighters, Navy SEALs, Olympic athletes, a whole bunch of different people. What is the common trait that the top 1% of people have and how coachable is that trait?
They are tenacious hard workers. And I like to think that I'm a hard worker, but being around some of these folks is another level.
Tomorrow my road trip is to visit Rich Froning, who's like the Michael Jordan of CrossFit. The amount of work he puts in puts me to shame. So, we mentioned earlier, Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, and it's like that with Rich Froning because he trains literally 4-5 hours a day, pretty much every single day.
They know what it takes to be the best, so they just always put in that work.
And if you really stop and think about it, if you work out an hour a day, you're doing well, multiply that by three or four, and it just, I mean, it's crazy, not to mention just how disciplined they are.
They know what it takes to be the best, so they just always put in that work. And it really doesn't matter how they're feeling, they just do it anyways.
You talk a lot about the importance of self-belief in your book. What role does environment, like where you live, where you work, and the people you hang around, play in that self-belief?
Yeah, it definitely plays a role. And if you're in a bad environment, it's going to be tougher. The odds are stacked against you. Now, we can acknowledge that. But at the same time, there are things that you can do. Again, this goes back to the internal locus of control. I guarantee there's little things that you can do to start to fix that. It may be that the odds feel overwhelming against you, but then it goes back to The Slight Edge principle — just start doing the little things.
It's going to seem like you're probably not getting anywhere, but if you have a long-term time horizon — and you're prepared to just do these little things each and every single day — you're going to be better off. And I'm not guaranteeing success of course, because we can't do that. But if you approach it the right way, your odds of beating those circumstances are going to go up exponentially.
What about your own process for setting goals personally or for your business? Is there a certain system or structure that you use to set those goals?
With your business, we have a roadmap of what we need to get done and the North Star we're aiming towards. We then break that up into chunks of what needs to be done in a given month and quarter to get there. We also implement feedback we can see in real time on the app store for our mobile app based on what our users are telling us.
On the personal side, it's a mix of short and long goals. Usually on the physical side, I'll need something to train for. On Memorial Day, there's a workout called "Murph". That's my couple month thing that I've been training for, just so I have something. After that, it's like, "Hey, how fast can I run a mile?" Just something to guide me on that right track. Because if you don't have any specific goals, it's easy to get lost — a day goes by, a week goes by, a month goes by. So I really think goals are helpful on the business and personal side.
For entrepreneurs, the ability to duplicate themselves seems to be the difference between average entrepreneurs (who are always on the brink of burnout) versus those super high achieving entrepreneurs. What was the biggest step that you took to be able to duplicate your own expertise so the company could grow without hitting a ceiling?
Well, I was definitely guilty of what you said, of not knowing what to do early on, and that's where we got to the point about burning out, because we thought that we had to do everything ourselves. One of the biggest things was realizing that we know a little bit about a couple of things, but there's so much we don't know, so let's bring in some other people — other experts — because that's what they specialize in, that's what they're good at, and that was really the biggest change.
The other thing would be some automation stuff that opened up our world to being able to focus on other things. And it just became this snowball effect that once we had more time, we're able to better focus our efforts elsewhere. And that's a great thing to do all around.
Yeah, to help make you redundant, so you can take some time off if need be.
Absolutely. I would agree with that a hundred percent.
Fitness often talks about a 'recovery phase' but many people people — especially entrepreneurs — very rarely do a good job of incorporating a phase of recharge and recovery in their regular routine. What does recovery look like in a business sense? Have you ever implemented something like a de-load or recharge phase for you as an entrepreneur?
If we go back to 2015 and 2016, our kids were pretty young. And if you have kids, you understand that's a full-time job, having small kids. They take up a lot of time and energy. So, if you factor in that with trying to train and trying to grow your business, and we were teetering definitely on the point of burnout. We needed constant help because it just seemed like we were always so busy. And by 'busy' I don't necessarily mean in a great way, but just busy. Whether it was customer service, or little things here and there, and we had to really fix that.
Once we were able to fix that, I looked back and I thought about where I'd been the last couple of years. And it's like, "I have this." And I think this is the end goal for a lot of entrepreneurs. Not that this is an end goal for me, of course, there's always more to achieve and strive for, but at the same time, I just have a lot more flexibility and freedom over my own time.
Before this podcast, I was picking up my kids from school at 2:00PM. I was sitting in the carpool line for literally 30 minutes. Before that, I was reading. It's like you have that freedom. That's my downtime, I make sure I have that time every day where I can read and do these things. I make sure I workout every single day.
For entrepreneurs, and I understand, it's a really delicate balance — because in the beginning you have to go, go, go, go, go, if you want to be successful. You have to put in that work to create that initial momentum and success. I get it. Been there, done that.
But at the same time, you eventually realize that if you don't take some of that time off and step back a little bit, your output goes down. You're not putting out very high quality work. And if you, instead of just cramming the night before and skipping on sleep and all that stuff, if you maybe just got the sleep and relaxed a little bit, you wake up in the morning and the amount and quality of work that you can now do is better. And it's a hard thing to learn. I did it wrong a million times and probably still do, of course. But once I started to realize that a little bit, I was like, "Wow, this is where I'd probably need to try to trend towards."
Let's now switch gears and focus on the health and the nutrition side. What are the biggest myths about health and nutrition that need to be busted in 2021?
Do you have six hours!? No, it's alright. So, we want to talk about, I guess a couple of main ones. One would be the idea that carbs are bad. They're not really inherently bad. In fact, there are very few foods out there that you could classify as "bad". Trans fats are an example of something that is probably very, very bad for you. Other than that, it's this balance and moderation thing. And if you understand that, everything else is so much simpler.
Because the nutrition industry is crazy. I'm telling you, it's crazy. People love this dogma, and they just get in these camps and they're not willing to change their mind or anything. And it's like, "No, I'm keto. And if you're not keto, you are a bad person." It's like, "Oh, okay."
So, if people ask me, "Hey, what do you think of keto?" we start by talking about the good. We might mention how, because it's low carb, it's probably helpful in that it will make you feel more full, because you're eating more proteins and more fats, and you'd probably be still eating a good amount of veggies. So, these are great things.
It's not that carbs are inherently bad, but guess what? Most things that taste really good have a lot of carbs, have a lot of sugar and salt, and usually have a lot of fat. Think about donuts and pizza, and ice cream. It's not that carbs are necessarily the fault behind them, it's just that they are very calorically dense, which means they're very easy to overeat because they taste delicious. Our brains are wired that way and we want to keep doing it.
The best way to be healthy — and have a normal, healthy body weight — is to eat high quality foods.
And so, that's probably the biggest one, because people like to say that, "Oh, calories don't matter." I mean, calories do matter. At the end of the day, it's probably the biggest chunk of the puzzle. But the best way to be healthy — and have a normal, healthy body weight — is to eat high quality foods. And if you do that, you don't have to get crazy restrictive. You can follow the 80 / 20 rule. And again, if you do that, you eat mostly higher quality foods. I always do air quotes around "good foods" — lean proteins, fruits and veggies, healthy fats, things like nuts, avocados and healthy carbs, rice and sweet potatoes. If you eat mostly those things, it is almost impossible to over eat.
Some of those fad diets that seem to pop up every year, would they be an example of something that would not be as evidenced-based as what you just mentioned there?
Typically, here's how something like that works. You can find some studies on some of these things, or maybe there's some evidence that points towards that they might do something, but people love to extrapolate these things to the nth degree. And they're like, "Oh, well, if it showed this tiny promise of evidence approved then, well, obviously that is the main thing that you must be doing, and you must fast for 24 hours. That is the magic key to everything in the world." And I go, "Okay, maybe."
Here's the good thing about fasting. When do most people tend to overeat? Usually it's later on at night. You're out with friends, family, or you're sitting down and watching Netflix or whatever. And all of a sudden, a bag of chips has gone before you even realize it because you just watched two hours of TV.
Check out the YouTube or podcast version where Nick Shaw does the Win the Day Rocket Round, answering questions about his favorite quote, what advice he’d give his 18-year-old self, the one thing on his bucket list, and a whole lot more. 🚀
Again, there's nothing really magical about fasting. It's just, does it help you stay on track? Does it help you stay more compliant? And if the answer is yes, then great, it's an awesome strategy for you.
But again, it goes back to these diet camps that people love to get in and someone's like, "Oh, well, I did fasting and had these awesome results. You must do this now." You're like, "Well, what if I really like eating breakfast?" They're like, "No, no, that's stupid. It doesn't matter." And you're like, "Well, don't we have some wiggle room in there to meet people where they're at?"
The health and fitness space is just crazy at times, man. It's crazy.
In your book you mentioned how beneficial it can be to find a healthy activity that you love. For me, I love nothing more than going surfing or having a hit of tennis. We can burn through a whole ton of cals, and it's actually really fun. You're not forcing me to go and do something that I hate. So, as a result, you can stay fairly fit by doing some of those endeavors.
So, what type of exercise should people be doing when it comes to health goals?
Yeah, you nailed it. This book is more intended for people who are not your hardcore fitness folks. So, if I were to have written in this book, you must lift weights and you must do these things, people are going to say, "Look at that advice from Nick, that's stupid." I don't even like doing that. I don't like being in the gym.
If someone liked doing tennis and surfing, I would say, "Hey, that's awesome." Because you can do those things, and you can be in really good physical shape because they're very active, and that's a fantastic thing. So again, really, it's finding what you like to do. Because if you said, "Hey, Nick, do you want to go play tennis? And then go surfing." I'm going to be like, "I've played tennis one time in my entire life and I've never surfed." So for me, that's going to be a terrible day! "But hey, I'll meet you in the gym and we can go pump some iron." That's my idea of fun. So, we are two different things, right? You like different things. So, it'd be silly for me to say, you must do this.
Now, on the flip side of that, I would say, if you wanted to give some bare bones advice, try to lift weights at least twice a week. It doesn't have to be crazy heavy or anything like that. And then, just try to find some activities that you like, whether it's sports, hiking; all that stuff is great. There's no kind of one thing for every person.
I would suggest the lifting because I just think there's so many benefits around it, but again, you also have to realize not everyone likes it. For example, my sister doesn't really like lifting weights. She prefers to go run. I'm like, "Okay, cool." I have no issues with that. I'm not going to tell someone that it's mandatory to lift weights, but I think there's a lot of benefits that come from lifting weights.
Is there any technology or research that's come out in the last year or two that really excites you in terms of human performance?
There's just, there's a lot of that stuff coming out now. It seems like everyone's focusing on that. There's this rise of home gym stuff, and you have things like the Mirror or the Tonal.
I've been getting hammered by Facebook ads for the Tonal!
You and me both. I don't think I'm their target market, but I'm getting those every single day. Listen, I think something like that would be great for people. And here's the thing, a lot of people are scared to go back to the gym. I have a home gym, so it's totally different. I might be maybe a little skeptical of going back into the gym. I understand that. So, I think that's a really cool trend that Peloton and companies like that have done. You connect and you join these online classes, and it gives you that sense of community.
We work with a lot of CrossFitters. And the cool thing about CrossFit is they just have this really tight knit community behind them. My mom had never worked out for her first 60 years of her life. And I said to her, "Mom, why don't you go try CrossFit? I'll buy you a membership at the gym." It's 20 minutes away. And she loved it, because she could go and she could socialize a little bit. Of course, this was before COVID. It's been a little tricky to get her back in there. But it's one of these things where you're going to get some lifting, and you're going to get a lot of cardio. If you're moderately interested in those things, it might be worth checking out.
What are you focused on as a parent to ensure your kids grow up motivated, happy, healthy, and adaptable?
So, I consider myself extremely, extremely fortunate, because my kids love to read. And I don't know if they got that from me. My son could read at age four. I mean, it was phenomenal. I can't take much credit for that. I wish that I could!
My wife was out of town and I took my kids to Target. I told them, "You can pick out whatever book you want." And I knew they would be excited by that, but also they can have a book, and they'll sit and read it for like an hour or maybe even longer. And I think that's probably the coolest thing that I could possibly hope for. My son almost has never really played video games and he's like nine. So, I'm just super fortunate about some of that stuff that they love to read.
Other than that, I try to just make sure that they're active a little bit.
So, the one thing that actually, so this goes back to the whole control thing, when COVID hit, I had them trained in jujutsu, just because I think it's such a good skill to learn, self-defense for life and it just builds confidence. It helps develop that discipline of just being a good person. If you're going to train jujutsu, chances are, you're probably a pretty good person, because if you're not, you're going to get choked out a lot at your gym or whatever. So, we made it a thing. We tried to train... No, I'm not going to say every single day, but we kept training. And I just want him to be active. And if they read beyond that, I think that's pretty good start.
Final question: what's one thing you do to Win the Day?
Read, every single day.
Resources / links mentioned:
📙 Fit for Success by Nick Shaw.
📝 Renaissance Periodization on Facebook.
📷 Renaissance Periodization on Instagram.
🧭 Nick Shaw on Instagram.
⚡ Renaissance Periodization website.
📚 The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson.
🎖️ Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin.
🎙️ Have a podcast of your own and want to learn how to monetize it? Learn more about We Are Members, the world's #1 community for podcasters who want to generate attention, engagement, and sales for their podcast.
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This holiday season, rather than squandering money on gifts with little long-term value, consider giving something practical that gets the recipient excited about taking ownership of his/her future.
Aside from allowing us to delve into the minds of the most inspiring and innovative people who ever lived, books are a great gift because they sit there staring back at us: providing gentle prompts, imaginative thought, and unprecedented motivation when we need it most.
In fact, many of the people I interviewed for Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy noted that, in times of distress, just staring at the cover of Hill’s original classic made them feel better about themselves.
Lately, I’ve also really been enjoying audiobooks. With the speed toggle, you can listen at an increasing speed. When you first try 1.25x, it seems a little intense. But a day or two later, you'll probably feel comfortable at 1.5x and wonder how you listened to anything slower before. Audiobooks are also more social because, rather than simply listening to music (which I love for entertainment or a demanding workout), you and a travel companion can improve your minds while exploring new areas of interest.
For my favorite books, as you'll see in the YouTube edition of this post, I make sure to also purchase a hard copy because it's easier for a quick reference.
Welcome to my second annual recommended reading list of gifts for yourself or a loved one. With this list, you'll undoubtedly have more lightning in the hand, as the earlier proverb reminds us.
by Dr Doug Brackmann
I first met Dr Doug Brackmann in Orange County, California, in early 2019 when my good mate Ronsley Vaz interviewed him. Brackmann radiated a potent mix of strength and empathy, traits forged from a career working with some of the most driven people on the planet.
This is the best book I’ve read in 2019 and I’ve literally just purchased a copy for every one of my clients around the world.
In it, Brackmann argues that 10% of the population possess a certain DNA that makes them feel like something is wrong with them, leading to anxiety, shame, and negative self-talk that can create a hellish existence. He calls this group the ‘Driven.’
Yet, through his research (which includes holding two PhDs in psychology!) and work with some of the highest performers on the planet—everyone from Navy SEALs to pro athletes and business leaders—Brackmann has discovered how the Driven can harness that energy into constructive means to reach their highest potential.
If you are an entrepreneur, or are looking at buying a gift for an entrepreneur, you won’t go wrong with this book. I’ve never read something that struck at the heart of who I was more than this one, while at the same time giving practical tips to improve day by day.
And let's face it: every existing and aspiring entrepreneur could do with a little more help understanding themselves!
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
by Dr Carol Dweck
Carol Dweck is one of my biggest inspirations. This book talks about what sets champions apart in any field—the growth mindset.
Dweck contrasts those who have a growth mindset with those who have a fixed mindset, and it typically comes down to one simple focus: how we respond to adversity when it inevitably strikes.
Those with a growth mindset embrace challenge and recognize mastery as a journey of self-effort, whereas those with a fixed mindset avoid challenge and give up easily.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from Mindset:
In her bestselling book, Dweck shows how people of all ages can cultivate a growth mindset, while giving examples of well-known people to keep readers engaged and illustrate the points, offering practical solutions to help us fulfill our potential in the most important areas of our lives.
by Tara Westover
Written with phenomenal detail, Westover’s memoir describes her unique upbringing by uncompromising survivalists in the mountains of Idaho.
Working in her father’s junkyard, Westover was never allowed to go to school or visit a doctor, and recounts her volatile—and, at times, abusive—family life as the youngest of seven children.
This alone makes for gripping reading, but the trajectory from Westover first stepping into a classroom at age 17 to eventually earning a doctorate at the University of Cambridge, while continuing to fight battles in and out of the classroom, leaves you spellbound.
In particular, if you’re a female struggling to find your place (or voice) in the world—or you know someone in that situation—this book is a must read. It spent more than a year on the New York Times bestseller list and has now been translated into more than 30 languages.
Here’s one of my favorite quotes:
Seriously powerful stuff, and an easy listen on Audible too. Plus, if you're an aspiring writer, it's one of the most beautifully written books you'll ever read.
The 5 Minute Journal
by Intelligent Change
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen how frequently I post these as daily stories. A huge percentage of CEOs have spoken about the importance of journaling for mental well-being; yet staring at a blank page each day can be daunting. The 5 Minute Journal provides a useful structure to start and finish the day in the right mindset.
You hear me talk constantly about winning the day. The best way to win the day is to know what actions you’re going to take on a given day and how they relate to your long-term mission, and this book gives you a forum to be able to do that.
To me, it’s been truly life-changing and is the book I gift the most. If you want an introduction to gratitude, this is the best place to be. A lot of people ask me what book it is that I keep posting on Instagram, and now you know 🙂
Letters From A Self-Made Merchant To His Son
by George Horace Lorimer
This is the only book on this list that has entered the public domain, which means it can be downloaded for free. As a result, it’s probably a better gift for yourself, rather than sending someone a link!
This book was originally published in 1901 and contains letters from a successful business owner to his son who had just started university.
If Educated is slightly better suited to a female audience, this one is slightly better suited to a male audience. Yet, both hold enduring value for all readers.
Given Letters was written more than a century ago, it is told in a language of a foregone era, but it’s phenomenal quotes are timeless, such as:
This is the book that inspired me to start writing an annual letter to our daughter, the first one written in December 2018 (i.e. five months before she was born), so at whatever age I choose to reveal them to her she can understand the journey we’ve all been on together, especially her mother's unparalleled contributions, and exactly what unconditional love means.
Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy
by James Whittaker
Writing this book is the greatest honor of my life and it’s truly humbling to see it continue to resonate with so many people around the world.
The theme of the book is that how you respond to adversity when it inevitably strikes is far more important than the adversity itself, and this is demonstrated through a combination of moving stories and practical tips. My hope is that it continues to inspire people of all backgrounds to extraordinary achievement.
Email us if you're after a signed copy! If you want your signed copy to arrive before Christmas, please allow at least two weeks' notice to ensure your order arrives in time. Discounts are available for bulk orders. Unsigned copies, as well as audiobook and ebook formats, are available on Amazon.
A letter or card, handwritten if your legibility allows, to acknowledge the recipient for all the loving and selfless actions they have taken to brighten your world and illuminate your spirit. Expressing our gratitude to one another in the long form written medium has become a lost art, but that just means your opportunity to make an impression will be even more powerful.
You've heard me say many times before that the best way to get is to give. Give someone a piece of your heart, and watch the way your life changes as a result.
I proudly recommend all these books and know they would be a welcome gift in any stocking. This holiday season give your friends and loved ones the inspiration and ability to help themselves.
As we approach the end of 2019, I wanted to thank each and every one of you for your continued support. Have a wonderful holiday season with your loved ones and get excited for an incredible 2020.
Onwards and upwards always,
In case you missed it:
How to Get a Promotion: Lessons from a Chief Maker
“The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”
There’s one element that all those who have achieved enormous success hold in high esteem: failure. Whether industry titans of old, such as Andrew Carnegie and Henry Ford, or more contemporary worldbeaters, such as Oprah Winfrey and Jeff Bezos, failure has been the catalyst to not only creating extraordinary wealth but maintaining it too.
The headline quote from Thomas Edison, one of the greatest inventors in history, was written by a man who, from the moment he set his mind to a definite chief aim, was obsessed with the goal until it became a reality.
Incredulously, before unveiling the world’s first lightbulb for practical use, Edison went through more than 3,000 designs for light bulbs and another 6,000 tests trying to find the right material for the filament. He would go on to hold more than 1,000 patents, and his other inventions—such as the motion picture camera and phonograph—transformed almost every industry on Earth. “When I have fully decided that a result is worth getting, I go about it, and make trial after trial, until it comes,” the American once said.
While Edison’s obsession might seem crazy to outsiders, it was a perfectly rational state of mind to the man himself. Think about today’s true innovators and changemakers, from Sara Blakely to Elon Musk and the late Steve Jobs: all have been described by adjectives far harsher than “crazy”.
Edison’s close friend, Waltor Mallory, once visited the inventor in his workshop. Having personally observed some of the countless hours of dedication, effort and sacrifice, Mallory lamented the lack of results. With a smile, Edison quickly replied, “Results? I have gotten lots of results! I now know several thousand things that won’t work.”
That simple response sums up Thomas Edison’s growth mindset and reveals how he became such a prolific achiever, despite not having a formal education.
Those with a growth mindset:
In contrast, those with a fixed mindset:
To win in the long-term, you must open yourself up to the prospect of losing in the short-term, or longer. Simply continuing is one of the surest paths to success, but so many people give up because they accept temporary failure as permanent defeat. This is true in ALL areas of life; in fact, you can probably think of at least one person who remains bitter despite a divorce or business hardship that occurred years prior.
If you allow yourself to be defined by how you’ve been wronged or some other misfortune, you’ll go through life with a chip on your shoulder and likely stay within an ever-shrinking comfort zone. However, those who keep their sights on long-term victory—and can quickly dust themselves off when they do fail—are the ones who enjoy far greater happiness and success.
Embrace failure because it means you’ve tried.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos understands this better than most. “I’ve made billions of failures at Amazon. Literally,” he was quoted. Further reinforcing his counterintuitive love for hardship, Bezos wrote to his shareholders, “I believe we are the best place in the world to fail (we have plenty of practice!)” But he is acutely aware that every failure increases his chance of hitting a home run, as Amazon has done with numerous innovations that catapulted the company from a simple online bookstore to, on 7 January 2019, officially becoming the world’s most valuable company.
Even with the recent breakdown of their 25-year marriage, Bezos and his partner MacKenzie were able to quickly and amicably move on, wishing each other well, reducing any undue pressure on their four children, and calming nervous Amazon shareholders.
True innovators like Edison, Bezos, Winfrey, Jobs and Musk do not view the word ‘failure’ as a negative. Rather, they view it as an omnipresent companion on the journey to achievement—a stepping stone to success. Every failure brings us closer to success, just as surrendering to adversity guarantees defeat.
In fact, the quote for today’s episode in its entirety is: “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”
Choose to be a victor rather than a victim. Regardless of what life throws your way, promise to try just one more time.
Onwards and upwards always,
In case you missed it:
‘The Secret to Happiness’
“The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” – Thomas Edison
“If people should take anything from my music, it should be motivation to know that anything is possible as long as you keep working at it and don’t back down.” – Eminem
“All people have fears, but the brave put down their fears and go forward—sometimes to death, but always to victory.” – Dale Carnegie
“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” – Napoleon Hill
“The only easy day was yesterday.” – US Navy SEALs
“Failure is so important. We speak about success all the time. It is the ability to resist failure or use failure that often leads to greater success. I’ve met people who don’t want to try for fear of failing.” – J.K. Rowling
“Fall down seven times. Stand up eight.” – Proverb
“Let’s go invent tomorrow rather than worrying about what happened yesterday.” – Steve Jobs
“Failure is success in progress.” – Albert Einstein
“Never accept temporary failure as permanent defeat.” – James Whittaker
“If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to it.” – Jonathan Winters
“Find a way or make a way.” – Elon Musk
“If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.” – John Wooden
“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan
“You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” – Walt Disney
“At any moment you can make a decision to change your life.” – Janine Shepherd
“Failure is a stepping stone to greatness.” – Oprah Winfrey
“If I had listened to the naysayers, I would still be in the Austrian Alps yodeling.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger
“Believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart.” – Steve Jobs
“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” – Thomas Edison
“Feel the fear and do it anyway.” – Susan Jeffers
“You have to be able to accept failure to get better.” – Lebron James
“Fear is the result of a lack of confidence. A lack of confidence is the result of not knowing what you can do. A lack of knowing what you can do is caused by a lack of experience. A lack of experience is caused by a lack of doing something new.” – Dale Carnegie
“Most great people have achieved their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure.” – Napoleon Hill
“The freedom to fail is vital if you’re going to succeed. Most successful people fail time and time again, and it is a measure of their strength that failure merely propels them into some new attempt at success.” – Michael Korda
“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford
“Even if we crash and burn, and lose everything, the experience will have been worth ten times the cost.” – Steve Jobs
“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” – John Wooden
“Sometimes an expensive lesson is worth every penny.” – Noel Whittaker
“It’s failure that gives you the proper perspective on success.” – Ellen DeGeneres
“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill
“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger
“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.” – Marie Curie
“Do the thing you fear to do and keep on doing it. That is the quickest and surest way to conquer fear.” – Dale Carnegie
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison
“You can’t discover new oceans unless you have the courage to leave the shore.” – Anonymous
“Thinking will not overcome your fear, but action will.” – W. Clement Stone
“Take a chance! All life is a chance. The person who goes farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare.” – Dale Carnegie
“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” – Steve Jobs
“All is possible for the believers.” – Laird Hamilton
“Action breeds confidence and courage.” – Dale Carnegie
“I’ve made billions of failures at Amazon. Literally.” – Jeff Bezos
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” – Bernard Baruch
“Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.” – John Wooden
“Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you’re not innovating enough.” – Elon Musk
“Right actions for the future are the best apologies for wrong ones in the past.” – Tyron Edwards
“You can conquer almost any fear if you will only make up your mind to do so. For remember, fear doesn’t exist anywhere except in the mind.” – Dale Carnegie
“Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.” – Babe Ruth
“Bravery is the solution to regret.” – Robin Sharma
“Repeated failure will toughen your spirit and show you with absolute clarity how things must be done.” – Robert Greene
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” – Reinhold Niebuhr (Serenity Prayer)
“Know your enemy, and know yourself, and you’ll never be in peril.” – Sun Tzu
“The struggle ends when the gratitude begins.” – Neale Donald Walsch
“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” – Jack Canfield
“I believe we [Amazon] are the best place in the world to fail (we have plenty of practice!).” – Jeff Bezos
“The victim mindset dilutes the human potential. By not accepting personal responsibility for our circumstances, we greatly reduce our power to change them.” – Steve Maraboli
“Try and enjoy yourself. Because, actually, life’s pretty good.” – Elon Musk
“If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” – Dale Carnegie
“The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” – Mark Zuckerberg
“You can’t have courage without fear.” – Jocko Willink
“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
When faced with misfortune, most people are quick to lash out at others. Yet, high achievers know that it’s not laying blame that leads to success—it’s proudly taking ownership of every aspect of your life.
These 10 questions will empower you to rise in almost any situation, allowing you to reset your energy, prepare actionable plans, and advance with stronger resilience than ever before.
Understanding this has been one of the most profound turning points in my life. Incredible stories of Janine Shepherd and Jim Stovall prove that there’s a gift in every adversity … you just have to find it. While a challenging skill to master in the moment, dig deep and you’ll find a little comfort in even the most difficult hardship. Mastery of resilience is the foundation of the growth mindset and what keeps high performers focused when others give up.
Numerous studies, including this one from UC Berkeley, have shown that people who use a regular gratitude practice are happier. When you’re focused on positive energy, it shifts your focus from resentment and envy to abundance, improving everything from personal relationships to career success. If you’re new to gratitude, grab a copy of The 5 Minute Journal—it’s what I use personally and is truly lifechanging. Also, schedule a weekly calendar reminder to send good vibes—whether a message, phone call or email—to someone whose efforts and support you appreciate.
If you’re working a job you hate, or spending too much time helping someone else achieve their goals, perhaps it’s time you restored balance into the equation and thought about what you wanted. Readers of Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy might recall the greatest turning point in Sandy Gallagher’s career was when she realized her entire life had been about making someone else—her father—happy. As she transitioned toward forging her own path, Sandy found that she was not only happier and more fulfilled in her new career, she was able to positively impact far more people, too.
As Simon Sinek said, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” When you’re clear on why you do what you do, whether an individual or a company, it allows you to persist through adversity, attract a tribe of people excited in your mission, and remain constantly alert for resources that will help you on your journey—the ultimate pathway to finding your how.
In a world of instant gratification, buck the trend of demanding it now and, instead, proudly put in the work. This is a fundamental step emphasized repeatedly in Think and Grow Rich and the process of autosuggestion. With your most important goals, write down the specific actions you’ll take—the price you’re willing to pay—to make them a reality. You’ll find that the level of success you achieve is in direct proportion to the consistent effort you take.
Audit your time each day for one week so you can easily pinpoint where you’re knocked off course. (Even simple things such as deleting time-wasting apps, switching your phone to airplane mode for regular blocks, and removing clutter, can all make a massive difference to your daily productivity.) Next, look around your living and working environments. If they don’t motivate you to go the extra mile each day, make some changes. In my office, I have a huge print that says “ACTION: The difference between having and wanting” reminding me of the importance of sustained effort. Surround yourself with inspiration.
Your energy source is the most important part of your life and should be insulated from sabotage at all costs. Surround yourself with people who think positive, dream big, and align with your values—those demonstrated in the top-right corner of the Friendship-Success Quadrant (below). You’ll find your energy levels increase tenfold as a result. This is the power of the mastermind and the one attribute that has made the most significant difference in my own life. Once you’ve found the right people, use this to turbocharge your success.
Paradoxically, we often reserve our love and kindness for others, and then engage in negative self-talk when we’re alone—it’s certainly a weakness of mine. Rob Dyrdek introduced me to Dr George Pratt, the clinical psychologist and hypnotherapist who Rob credits as changing his life. George helped me to be more aware of negative self-talk and gave me some exercises that I now have scheduled in my calendar every week to keep focused, relaxed and happy. Here’s a short one you can try. Don’t just make time for your mental health, schedule it.
As part of human nature, and only enhanced in the digital age, we often massively overthink and overcomplicate situations. Sometimes, taking a step back and giving ourselves a mental reset to ponder “What would this look like if it were easy?” can be the quickest way to an acceptable solution, saving valuable time and energy in the process.
The end of the calendar year is a good reference point for how your life is progressing. If you’re unable to answer this question quickly, fill out the Success Plan (template). Feel the emotions of having already attained those 3-5 things, then make sure you’ve got a detailed plan—with regular action items scheduled—built into your weekly calendar so imagination becomes reality. High performers all have systems to optimize their success.
Through a calm demeanor and an inquisitive mind, the best way forward is always revealed. Remember, you are the only problem you will ever have and YOU are the only solution.
Take actions today that your future self will thank you for. After all, the right question could save your life.
Onwards and upwards always,
In case you missed it: ‘The One Number that Doesn’t Matter’
“The victim mindset dilutes the human potential. By not accepting personal responsibility for our circumstances, we greatly reduce our power to change them.”
I’ve just returned to Los Angeles after a three-week book tour of Australia. For those who missed the Today Show interview, you can check it out below. A big thank you to all of you for your continued support.
Today, let’s talk about the winner’s mindset. Although it might seem counter-intuitive, champions in any field are forged in their response to failure.
We all face adversity—every one of us. Those with a fixed mindset use it as an excuse to give up and crawl further into their ever-shrinking shell. Yet, those with a growth mindset use every failure as a stepping stone to greatness.
Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are where we are because of our decisions to this point. By simply accepting personal responsibility and taking ownership of our lives, we significantly increase our power to change. This can apply to anything, whether it’s underperforming on a university course, being passed over for a promotion at work or failing with a fitness goal.
The fixed mindset comes from stagnation. In contrast, the growth mindset comes from having an end goal in mind and then nurturing our abilities through ongoing care and attention—avid readers of my newsletter might recognize this as “simple and consistent action.”
In her groundbreaking book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, author Carol Dweck showed that from a young age the brain can be trained to grow and improve, like a muscle. Once our limiting beliefs are gradually replaced with the growth mindset, we find it easier to take actions that keep us striving for ever-greater success. This builds bulletproof confidence and creates unparalleled resilience.
In 1964, after campaigning for racial equality, a South African man was given a life sentence and thrown in prison to rot. Rather than giving up, he began studying Afrikaans with the hope of building mutual respect with his captors and converting them to his cause.
Twenty-seven years later, Nelson Mandela was released from prison. After his impassioned pleas for equality caught hearts and minds around the world, he was elected President of South Africa—the first non-white head of state in the country’s history. Reflecting on his extraordinary life, he famously said: “I never lose. I win or I learn.”
In 2010, an unknown fighter taps the canvas. Conceding defeat, his opponent releases the devastating chokehold. With the embarrassing loss, a mere 38 seconds into the first round, the aspiring fighter’s record now stood at a paltry four wins and two losses. Rather than let another setback define him, he continued to hone his skills. An eight-fight win streak caught the eye of Dana White and the Irishman was signed to the UFC.
Five years after the humiliating loss, he defeated José Aldo, one of the greatest fighters of all time, in 13 seconds—the fastest finish in UFC title fight history. The following year, his coach John Kavanagh released a book documenting the extraordinary journey with his star pupil entitled “Win or Learn”, echoing Mandela’s fortitude. Today, Conor McGregor is one of the highest paid athletes on the planet.
Oprah Winfrey was deemed “unfit for television.” Steve Jobs was removed from the company he founded. J.K. Rowling was fired from her job as a secretary. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. The list goes on.
True champions have a growth mindset and never accept temporary failure as permanent defeat. Instead, they prepare a vivid, detailed plan for success and get to work on winning the day. To create a growth mindset:
Onwards and upwards always,
PS – Here is a free download of the bonus chapter from Think & Grow Rich: The Legacy, showing how simple mindset shifts catapulted ordinary people to extraordinary achievement.