“No matter how often you are defeated, you are born to victory.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Welcome to Win the Day with James Whittaker! If this is your first time here, we sit down with some of the world’s true legends to help you take ownership of your financial, physical and mental health.

And our guest today is the perfect intersection of those three areas.

Gabby Reece is a volleyball legend, an entrepreneur, a keynote speaker, a mum, a wife, fitness coach, host of The Gabby Reece Show, and a New York Times bestselling author. She’s been featured on Dr Oz, The Today Show,  and the Joe Rogan podcast, and was the first female spokeswoman for Nike.

In September 2020, Gabby and her husband — big wave surfer Laird Hamilton — listed their plant-based food company Laird Superfood on the New York Stock Exchange, just five years after they launched it.

Gabby and Laird are also the founders of Extreme Performance Training (known as XPT), designed to stimulate growth in all aspects of human performance through exposure to a variety of natural elements and environments. Essentially, they kick your ass through breath optimization, functional movement, and recovery techniques like ice baths and hot saunas.

Like all of us, Gabby’s journey has had its ups and downs, which we’ll get into — but what I love most about her is her hunger to gain new perspectives, while keeping it real at the same time.

In this interview with Gabby, we’re going to talk about:

Let’s win the day with Gabby Reece!

James Whittaker:
Gabby, great to see you. Thanks for coming on the show.

Gabby Reece:
Thank you for coming to my house and hanging out with me!

You had situations when you were young that forced you to grow up very fast. When did you feel like you developed a growth mindset for the first time?

I don't know if that's ever a conscious thing. I'm always nervous when people make the conscious effort like, "I'm going to have a growth mindset." I think it's something that some people are born with, and then I think some people realize, "Hey, I'm going along, and this doesn't seem to be working. Maybe I could do that differently. That seems like a good reason."

For me, it was a survival reaction. It was scanning ahead to try to anticipate so that I could not only land someplace that I wanted to but that was going to be essential to my survival too. When you do that long enough, and then combine it with athletics – because the thing about athletics, your goal is to always improve. So why not take that focus of continuous improvement off the court and do that as a human being? Because we spend a lot more time away from athletics living as people.

We always say there's a difference between ‘winners’ and ‘champions’. I was always more interested in trying to continue to develop as a human being. Also, when you have the opportunity to express yourself – or have your life reflect you – you start to recognize, hopefully, that it's a gift. Then you want to participate in not only maintaining it, but then seeing if you can continue to expand that.

What helped you learn effectively when you were young? Was it the athletic pursuits that gave you that structure and a finish line to set your sights on? Or were there any books that helped in your journey, too?

A friend gave me Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged when I was 15, and I was around adults who were not modeling certain things. I was looking for that structure, so I self-inflicted it. By nature, I have a little bit of a rigidity that I was born with. Then it got, I think, accentuated by my environment. Once I became involved in sports, I realized that progress is about systematizing certain things and having a practice. Everything is about practice. If you ask me now at this time of my life, I would say to people, "We have all the information. We just have to practice."

Everything is about practice.

All of those elements really helped me continue to do that, so you're also quick to understand, "What can I participate in, and what am I in control of?” and “I can't control that” or “I have to get up.” It's helped me pull the cord when I needed to and just move on. I think that you learn to do that quickly, too.

As you said, people usually know what they need to do. But it's that discipline, every single day, to just get it done.

Yes, but personal accountability and truthfulness are so important. One thing I did love about sports is I always felt really honest, and you couldn't hide. Let's say, for example, I was having a bad game, but my teammates are playing well. You would learn how to tuck in behind that. You could still come away winning even if you didn't perform well. But within that, you’re being honest with yourself and saying, "Hey, I didn't play my best” or “I didn't participate as much” or what have you.

It’s about always having that honest check in, "Maybe I don't feel like it” or “I want to be angry” or “I want to exercise my ego and let that person know I want to exert force.” It's just being that honest all the time in all the scenarios as much as you can.

That athletic background seems to be such a great foundation for people who are able to use those principles later in life. Obviously, you're still very actively involved in fitness and holistic health. Today, when you’re not training for a gold medal or a finish line, where does that motivation to get up and give it your best every single day come from?

My middle daughter who's 17, we talk about this a lot. In the last few years, I’ve really identified that there's a part of me who’s a very blue-collar person in certain ways. Also, I don't need to lose my health. I've had enough athletic surgeries and things like that. I don't need to lose my health to covet it and to understand – besides my family and my friends – that it is truly the greatest asset that I have. Houses and cars, I don't get distracted in that.

I don't need to lose my health to covet it.

The other thing I'm doing is I'm practicing. When people talk about gratitude, the best way I can show that, "Hey, I'm really grateful for my health," is to take care of it. That's ultimately what I'm doing.

The other side of that is it's a level of sanity. I mean, I am a better functioning organism if I can also take care of the physical avatar to the best of my ability. It's a law of the universe. It's the truth, and so I don't need to keep relearning that lesson. I know what the lesson is, and I'm just ahead with it.

How often do you define and redefine what success is to you personally? Are you always acutely aware of having a definition of what is important to you or what success looks like to you?

Absolutely. Well, there's parts where I'm already clear about what success is, like keeping my family in as much of a loving environment as possible. That's not always... I don't always do that myself. It's just not always practical. And being in a relationship where I'm here to serve the relationship, and hopefully, my husband's on the same page, because I can't make him do anything.

Then there’s my physical health, as well as continuous environments to continue to learn and improve, be it in really small ways. I know at my core if it feels successful to me. Then I enjoy setting new external goals, such as in business. In 2020, for example, like you stated earlier, “We're going to run this over the goal line and take this company public” which, to be clear, was after having many failures. So, I think you've got your foundation that you're always going to stick to, and then you're expanding in your external goals of what success is.

Actually, the big thing for me is figuring out how I can strip everything down and keep simplifying as I get older. Let's say our businesses are growing and expanding, but even within that, how do I simplify and keep simplifying, because the thing I'm really drawn to is that essentialism. It’s not about parties and boats and stuff. Drilling down to simplify, that’s always part of it.


Check out the YouTube or podcast version where Gabby Reece does the Win the Day Rocket Round, answering questions about her favorite quote, what advice she’d give her 18-year-old self, the one thing on her bucket list, and a whole lot more 🚀


You’re at a time of your life now where you’ve got many options and different things to do. It sounds like that focus and simplicity can help you move forward effectively, rather than get distracted and ultimately be ineffective in a whole bunch of different areas.

I’m really happy you brought up the failures you’ve had too, because people from the outside looking in might think, “Gabby Reece has this perfect life,” but of course, we all have these struggles behind the scenes. Your entire life has been about peak performance, physical fitness, and mental health. What have you incorporated into your daily routine today as a result of a lifetime of that pursuit?

First, it's the easy practice of going to bed early. Listen, let's be really clear about something. I have a built-in person in my home who also makes this a lot easier, because he's even more disciplined than I am. It's obnoxious, but he is in a pursuit.

Of course, we all know it, but food is the thing. It's the medicine that can put you in an energetic mood or it can put you in a funk. With exercise, it's about consistency, so I'll do pool training or land training, but there's plenty of days I don't actually have time to train. I just try to support my wellbeing through these other practices – good sleep, good relationships, and clear communication.

A big thing is, I avoid drama. I don't move towards things that I know piss me off. If I see a scenario personally or with friends, and it's not for me to work out, I just stay away. I think it's all of these things. Having a practice also goes back to keeping it simple, where I'm trying to not onload extra crap. I'm trying to figure out how to offload, rather than, "Can you believe they said that?" It's like, "They said it. I didn't like it. Why would I continue to repeat that and keep that story going, versus finding the place within me to work it out?"

I don't move towards things that I know piss me off.

That’s the other great thing. I can say, "Hey, I want to talk about something that really pissed me off and got me going today," even in that bratty way, where I responded with my ego and just totally identify it and then let it go. It’s about having these practices where you know yourself and you can move towards the place that you say you want to be. That all comes from practice.

There’s so much to unpack in all that. I love that it's more a pursuit of simplicity and the lifestyle that you want to live – a lifestyle that gives you energy – rather than it being the summit of some type of mountain or an achievement over the horizon.

Given how focused you are on the health / fitness side, what's an average menu look like in the Gabby Reece household!?

It's just anything with real food. You just heard my daughter complain, "There's no snacks!" Of course, there's weird funky food, because I don't want to make this an issue for my kids. This is our lifestyle. They will make their choices.

However, when we make dinner, it's high-quality animal protein, just a little bit, which usually means humanely killed, and vegetables. It's just real food; it's really not complicated. I try to be careful about what oils we eat, so I stay towards coconut oil, avocado oil and olive oil, and also try to find the good stuff, because even a lot of olive oils have sunflower and safflower oil to make it more affordable. Our health is important to us so we aim for high quality ingredients.

People have to realize a lot of the reason, other than emotional reasons, that we overeat is because we're not getting the nutrients that we need – the macronutrients, the micronutrients, the good fats – so we overeat. If we’re eating food that doesn't have nutritional stuff in it, our body will be like, "Well, I'm not full, so I need to keep eating." What people have to realize too is that if you eat a lot of the good stuff, because it is more costly, and I'm sensitive to that, is you do need less of it.

If you're eating for other reasons besides being hungry, it's also taking a look at why that is. When I have stress in my life, believe me – we were talking earlier about your chocolate that you love [here it is if you’re interested; be warned ... it's addictive!] – I'm looking for it. I'm looking to medicate, right? I think it's always about being aware of those relationships, and then be like, "You know what, I am eating this chip because I hate everyone in my house right now!” But at least I know why I'm eating. I'm not doing it mindlessly, and it’s not all the time.

For me, I usually skip breakfast. I have a very big coffee, with tons of fat. I train. I might eat my biggest meal at lunch, depending on how I'm feeling. If I'm very active, I will eat two decent-sized meals at lunch and dinner. If I'm medium active, lunch usually gets to be the big one, maybe not dinner at all, or maybe something light, and that's it. Again, it's not really complicated, very simple things, very few ingredients.

Have you got the kids to work in the kitchen yet!?

Yes, my older two daughters are great cooks! Laird has other things that are his strong suit, so this one is more in my lane. It's the common joke of, "What's for dinner?" But that's the thing you realize, too, is that you have to model to your kids what they should be eating to be healthy. It's food and fun, and they always come back to it.

As teenagers, they want to eat weird non-food, and you just have to let them. Let them. You don't have to stock it in the house, but if they go and eat whatever, let them, and then they're always going to come back to the real food because also they feel better, and they know it. The funny thing is we don't have a microwave oven in our home, so you have to make the effort.

Yeah, so you probably enjoy it more too.

Yeah, and I think getting away from that convenience. I think we need to cherish ourselves enough, even if it takes a few minutes to notice what we're eating and how to prepare it. I just think that that's an important thing.

You've done so much in your life and are still doing so much. How do you balance that hunger for future achievements with happiness and peace in the present?

One great thing about accomplishment is that you realize it isn’t the answer. Accomplishment is just a marker that you had an instinct about something, or a passion for something, and the accomplishment is a validation. I even look at money that way. It's just an indication like, "Oh, that worked out, right?" You realize that it's unsustainable, so if you don't have a relationship with having a sense of fulfillment and connection with the people in your life, and a real life, you're going to be looking and chasing those external accomplishments forever.

You can be a champion one day, but the next day there’s someone else. For me, it's saying, "Hey, I'm going to pursue things that I believe in; that I'm willing to wake up for when it sucks, and that I feel proud to be connected with, whether it’s a message or a product.” It’s about doing it for real reasons, and, yes, being strategic about it – sometimes to a point that you can’t even see.

It seems disingenuous, but I've gotten good enough at certain things that it's blurred. It's all very genuine and authentic. But believe me, it's very strategic. It doesn't mean I'm lying. It just means I've learned how to put it all together. It's that pursuit for that challenge, because I need to keep myself busy and occupied, but that it's always having a level of feeling about myself, and my value has to be based on me. It can’t be based on this week’s success and opportunity, because next week might suck and there might be no opportunity, and you'll die with that attitude.

What in life gives you the most peace? And what advice do you have for others who feel that life is a bit too hectic?

That's the thing. It's on us, and it's nothing from the external. Anytime I take myself really seriously, I quickly realize I'm a grain of sand. I think when you can always have this perspective, you get a more realistic look at things and your responses to things.

Laird says it all the time that you can't put your happiness in other people's hands. That's why I train. That's why I try to go to bed early, so I feel good. That's why I'm trying to be as kind and loving in my relationships as I can be, because that's all I'm in charge of.

I'm going to pursue things that I believe in; that I'm willing to wake up for when it sucks, and that I feel proud to be connected with.

If there's something that I need to do, or I need an external validation, then I need to take a look at that, because that's my ego. Listen, ego is important. You need it to go, but you can’t let it drive the vehicle. I think if people are feeling restless, you need to survey all the corners of your life, starting with your relationship with yourself and your health, then go from there to those most intimate relationships.

Then, look at your work. If you fricking hate your job, what is the strategy to find the next thing? Don't be an idiot. Don't just be like, "I'm out of here." It's like, "Okay, wait a second. What’s the plan I can create to get me where I want to be?” I have a friend, Neil Strauss, who said it’s like being on parallel trains. It's never going to be easy to make change, but if you're really doing something that you absolutely can't stand, figure it out.

Yeah, and get on the front foot. Any plan is better than a prayer, rather than thinking that a lightning bolt is going to hit you and all of a sudden you’re going to be happy in a role you’ve hated for 40 years.

I am of the belief of always focusing, and I don't always do it. I'm just of the belief, but it's part of my practice. It's not about what I don't want. It's about continuing to focus and look at, "What do I want? What am I interested and working really hard at?" Just the pursuit would be a success, right, because we cannot control outcome. I think that's a really important thing if the energy is about, "Where am I going? What do I want? Who do I want to be with? Who do I want to be?" Rather than, "Well, I don't want to do that. I don't want to fail. I can't stand my..."

Be clear on what you want and put your energy into that. It means also that you have to be a grown up, and everything you do, everything you say, everything you eat, everything that you read, unless it's guilty pleasures, needs to support that thing that you say you want. If they're in conflict, it's never going to happen.

You mentioned people feeling restless. We know that 2020 has been a year of massive transition for the entire world. How did your life change in 2020?

Obviously with the kids being around, and we haven't traveled that much, I'm going to say that we're really on the good end of this as far as we live in a place with space, because we're entrepreneurs. We've always worked from home. Now, we don't fly to meetings; we're on Zoom like everyone else.

I stopped watching the news many, many months ago. Energetically, I feel that there's a weird divisiveness going on. It's stating the obvious, but what I really want to do is keep focusing on participating in the energy of being calm and loving, because I think that there are forces right now that are trying to make us all feel like we don't trust each other and that we don't love each other. We can't come to some mutual agreement, even when we don't agree. See, that's the thing. We're in a democracy, so we have to figure out how to work it out.

Yes, there are certainly a lot of companies and individuals who benefit from division.

I don't want to participate in that game. I recognize that I can't get to the bottom of a lot of things. I won't know what the truth is, and so rather than being all perplexed or stressed out about it, I am going to be like, "Well, what do I want to be?" I just practice that and fortify myself.

Be clear on what you want and put your energy into that.

Going back to COVID, we've been really fortunate. It has made me look at how the world shifted quickly in business and in technology, so that was an interesting thing. You're always adapting and adjusting. Because I am older, these certain things are not intuitive, so if you're talking about business, it's really paying attention to where's the soul heading, and finding the right people to get informed by or who to work with, because you can't possibly adjust as quickly as it's adjusted.

Another thing, if I talk about my business, there are opportunities to think, "Oh, I'm going to evaluate this because there’s an area where I probably need to brush up on and get re-educated."

This year, 2021, continues to be really interesting for the world. There are a lot of people who are having a pity party and feeling sorry for themselves, but if there's one thing I do know about success, it's that how you respond to adversity when it inevitably strikes is what separates ordinary people from extraordinary achievers. What's the biggest adversity that you have faced that you have been able to identify an equivalent benefit from?

Like I said, I've had failed businesses, but nothing really is that apparent. You think, "Oh, I'm going to show up the best way that I can, and I'm going to do the very best I can, and really be alert and try to do all these things." But what happens is inevitably, your children or child – and every kid’s different – will say to you, "Oh, by the way, that thing you were doing for five years, I hated that, and that was the worst for me. I was actually quietly suffering over here, and you didn't even notice."

Business failure, it's only going to come in so deep on me. But my family and especially parenting, what you learn is you can crawl up in a ball. You can say, "Well, this is how I do it, so when you get out in your life, you'll do it your way." There are certain things that are true to that, like how clean you keep your house.

But when you're talking about the emotional stuff, what you actually have to do as a parent is so fricking uncomfortable, because you have to say, "Alright, I'm going to take a look at that, and maybe I need to make a change." That's a change when you're 100% well intended, and it’s really important for people to know that you can be in a relationship, or you can be a parent, and you have the best intentions in the world, and still be wrong. Even within that, you have to take a look at it, because usually, we say, "I'm well intended. I'm here, and that should be enough." But that's sometimes not the case. Those have been the most difficult changes for me, especially when a lot of that stuff worked in my life.

I wanted to bring up parenting with you because one of the things I love about you is that you never romanticize parenting, relationships, or anything like that. You always keep it very real. What is the biggest fear you have for your children as they grow up?

For example, having a 20-month-old daughter, my biggest fear for her is that one day she's going to wake up and realize that the world is a very big, dark, scary place. How I gently usher her in to be resilient enough to handle that is something I think about every day, and will constantly be on my mind as she gets older. What's the biggest fear you have for your children?

My kids are a little more formed because they’re aged 12, 17 and 25, so you get a sense of them. It's hard when they're 20 months old. I have a lot of confidence in who they will be and who they are as people, even though it can be a bumpy ride. It's like having a vehicle where you're on a really radical road, but you're like, "No, the tires are going to stay on. We'll make it."

Technology is really interesting. Before, I'd be like, "Oh, I hope they have a job, and they find someone they love and who loves them back." Now, I just hope that they survive technology. That they have the ability to connect, to focus, to not compare, and also their relationship to the environment.

Worrying about it probably doesn't do any good, so I just continue to have those conversations with them. I apologize when I blow it. If I don't understand, I tell them, "I don't really understand." That's another thing. When I said to my parents, "You don't understand," my parents better understood what I was going through than what I understand about what my kids are going through, because they're growing up with devices. I don't understand, and so I've really said, "Okay, I'm going to look at it." I don't use the metrics of how I grew up in the '80s to what they're going through today.

By the way, yeah, we work hard at it. The Gordon Gekko type style, that attitude doesn't work. It's also having some malleability. In certain ways, I feel like, "Oh, they're all soft and a bunch of complainers," but the way we did it didn't work, so let's see what happens.

Sure. This generation cops a bad rap for not being as tough as the previous generations. In many ways, I feel like it would be extremely tough to grow up today, where every single thing that you write or every picture that you send is out there in the public domain, and you never know when something like that is going to come back to haunt you.

Think about their ability, their emotional awareness. Sometimes for me, it goes too far. For example, when people say, "Oh, the way you're talking offends me." It's like, "Stop it. Figure out how to protect yourself." However, within that middle, somewhere in there, there's an opportunity to really have better conversations, so I think we can learn from them, of course.

I worry about technology. I worry that our humanity and technology and biology is not how we can find that harmony, because technology also is such a valuable industry, and what they monetize on is often not what supports humanity and our biology. How then do we figure that out?

Where do you interject between that freedom of letting your children experience life – which is, probably, the best teacher, if they can go through these experiences themselves – versus having that feeling deep down that they are going down a wrong route, whether it's spending too much money that they don't have on a credit card, or hanging around people who might not have their best interests at heart?

Well, the people thing is, it's their journey. I mean, obviously, if it's really radical, you'd step in. I would send Laird, quite frankly. My kids are pretty tough, so it's more about trying to get them to self-regulate.  Somebody corrected me once. I said it’s about getting them to self-control themselves, and I had a woman named Dr. Sarah Sarkis go, "A better expression is self-regulate, because control has a whole other set of things, right?"

For me, it's just about, "Here's the world, and these are some things you have to look out for. And trust your instincts. Don't lose those."

Get your kids to do all the weird stuff when they're living at home.

One of my daughters was really interested in being with a bunch of popular girls. Well, let me tell you, when she made a mistake, they were gone. That's an uncomfortable lesson, but it was also like, "That's a reflection of who you were being."

And without using, "I told you so," because you can't do that. I don't think you can protect them too much; I don't think that's a good idea. Also, I would say to people, get your kids to do all the weird stuff when they're living at home. Hopefully, don't send them into the world unprepared and then you're not really there to help them out. At least if they fall in their face, which we all do, you can be around.

You and Laird do such a great job of being supportive of each other's individual dreams. How do you retain that shared bond as a couple, while giving yourself the freedom to be yourself and do what you got to do in the world?

Well, Laird certainly more than I am, but Laird is really not to be contained as a person. Laird's here because he chooses to be here. When I met Laird, he was obviously surfing. That is a part of who Laird is, so if you want to be with Laird, it be a good idea to support that.

Also, I benefit so greatly from who Laird is because of that pursuit – his rawness, his presence, his capacity, all the things that he's quite talented at – I reap the benefits of that pursuit. And it's a pursuit I admire, "Oh, you want to go into nature and challenge yourself? I can support that." It's not like, "Hey, I want to smash this company and take this one over." It's pretty pure. Both of us came into it as individual people, so what we've decided is that there's parts in here that we would like to be together.

Couples make a huge mistake where all of a sudden they start trying to change the other person. I think it's more natural for women to do this, because we're mothers, so we mother everybody. It's really important, I believe, for us to all adapt and change. Let's say I'm in a conversation with Laird, and I make a reasonable point about wanting maybe something, and it seems reasonable to him, then make the change. But I'm not there to be Laird’s mom. I'm Laird's partner. When I understood that really clearly, that was made very clear by Laird, it liberated me from having that approach.

Also, if I don't defend my real estate as a wife and a mother, I'm going to be really pissed when this is all over, and they don't talk to you about that, but I knew that going in. I would always encourage, especially women who are pursuing business, you have to find a way to defend your real estate because your kids aren't going to say, "Mom, I'm going to take less of your time. Mom, you know what, you look tired. I'll tell you what, I'll unload the dishwasher." They're just not going to do that. That's not their job, and your partner isn't typically going to make it really clear, right?

Couples make a huge mistake where all of a sudden they start trying to change the other person.

Women have a tendency, not all, there's always exceptions, to anticipate everybody. Like, "Oh, he needs to go on a little adventure. Look at him. He's so domesticated and restless. Oh, the kids look like they haven't gone outside enough," but really, as a female, I think that's important to defend that for yourself. That sounds selfish and harsh, but I think it's realistic. I've been doing this for 25 years, and it seems to be what I see over and over.

The idea would be join the relationship to enhance. Come with the objective to enhance the situation and enhance your partner's life. Hopefully, your partner is on the same page. If after a while, they're not, that's on them, and that's on you to decide what you want to do. Then it is your responsibility to care for your own personal voice.

It changes when you have a little baby. I used to say you blow on the fire. Just try to keep the fire alive a little. As they get older and they're more independent, you can let the flame blaze up again. Again, it's assessing, checking in, noticing, and seeing when things start getting out of whack.


Check out the YouTube or podcast version where Gabby Reece does the Win the Day Rocket Round, answering questions about her favorite quote, what advice she’d give her 18-year-old self, the one thing on her bucket list, and a whole lot more 🚀


Yeah, and staying true to yourself. If your partner is about to have some freedom individually but you're pissed off at each other, they can’t enjoy their time away, and when they come back you still hate each other. Therefore, the time away never accomplished what it needed to.

Laird jokes that we’re in the Cold War, him and I, because we have a very peaceful relationship. There’s a lot we don’t do. We don't do fighting or bickering or whatever. Really, it's probably because we're both too mean, so we don't even know.

Also, let's say he's in a bad mood, I am way more effective. I don't go, "Why are you in a bad mood?" I elevate my behavior, and sure enough, it pulls him up. Same with me. If I'm down and out and funky, and I watch Laird, and he's staying in his best self, I'm reminded like, "Oh, that's the standard. That's what we're doing.” We're not going to make anybody do anything. The idea of being in relationship where you don't want to try to make it better for your partner, at some point, it's like, "Why bother?"

Final question, what's one thing you do to Win the Day?

I show up every day to do my best and create value. If it requires 20, I'll always do 22.

And I try really hard to not allow my ego to be in charge. I save myself a lot of hassle when I can just look at things reasonably, process them, and make decisions from that attitude — be it in business or personal. It seems to be more effective in the long run.


Resources / Links Mentioned:

🎧 The Gabby Reece Show.

😋 Laird Superfood (I start every morning with an espresso shot and a tablespoon of Laird Superfood Creamer).

💪 XPT Extreme Performance Training.

📝 Gabrielle Reece on Facebook.

📷 Gabby Reece on Instagram.

⚡ Gabrielle Reece website.

📙 Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.

“No matter how often you are defeated, you are born to victory.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Welcome to Win the Day with James Whittaker! If this is your first time here, we sit down with some of the world’s true legends to help you take ownership of your financial, physical and mental health.

And our guest today is the perfect intersection of those three areas.

Gabby Reece is a volleyball legend, an entrepreneur, a keynote speaker, a mum, a wife, fitness coach, host of The Gabby Reece Show, and a New York Times bestselling author. She’s been featured on Dr Oz, The Today Show,  and the Joe Rogan podcast, and was the first female spokeswoman for Nike.

In September 2020, Gabby and her husband — big wave surfer Laird Hamilton — listed their plant-based food company Laird Superfood on the New York Stock Exchange, just five years after they launched it.

Gabby and Laird are also the founders of Extreme Performance Training (known as XPT), designed to stimulate growth in all aspects of human performance through exposure to a variety of natural elements and environments. Essentially, they kick your ass through breath optimization, functional movement, and recovery techniques like ice baths and hot saunas.

Like all of us, Gabby’s journey has had its ups and downs, which we’ll get into — but what I love most about her is her hunger to gain new perspectives, while keeping it real at the same time.

In this interview with Gabby, we’re going to talk about:

Let’s win the day with Gabby Reece!

 🎞️ For the video interview, click here.


Resources / Links Mentioned:

🎧 The Gabby Reece Show.

😋 Laird Superfood (I start every morning with an espresso shot and a tablespoon of Laird Superfood Creamer).

💪 XPT Extreme Performance Training.

📝 Gabrielle Reece on Facebook.

📷 Gabby Reece on Instagram.

⚡ Gabrielle Reece website.

📙 Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.

💚 Have a podcast of your own and want to monetize it? Join us at We Are Podcast.

“The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.”

Norman Schwarzkopf 

On this show I like to bring you the real mindset masters, and today we’ve got an absolute superstar, Marcus Smith, who’s been through more wars than most. Marcus is an entrepreneur, an extreme athlete, and a performance coach. Based in Dubai, he’s the founder of InnerFight, which helps everyone – from kids to corporate clients – unlock their peak performance, as well as owner of Smith St Paleo, which provides paleo food offerings to help people make better nutrition decisions.

Marcus is fit, and I mean FIT. At age 18, he started playing professional rugby, making it to the 2009 Rugby Sevens World Cup. Since then, he’s completed pretty much anything with “ultra” in its name, including:

In February 2018, while training to set a world record in ultra-cycling, Marcus was hit by a truck, with the impact smashing him into a brick wall. But he stared death right in the face and said, “Not today.” Rather than focus on what he lost, Marcus decided to create a documentary ‘Fight for Every Breath’ where he details his experience and his journey back to full health.

Just nine months after the accident, Marcus completed not one, not two, but 30 marathons, in 30 days!

In this episode, we’re going to talk with Marcus about:

Strap yourself in. Let’s WIN THE DAY with Marcus Smith!

James Whittaker:
What was it like growing up in Dubai? Can you also take us into a bit of an overview of the city for those who haven't been there?

Marcus Smith:
To be honest, it's almost like shatters to dream because when I came here, when I was four, there was nothing; there was no lights, there was no highways, there was no buildings. And I think that's kind of what I love still about the places I see it quite, if you'd like, quite naked. I see it for what it is for the culture, which now it's a lot different. There's obviously a lot of stuff that's maybe a little bit more, make sure we say it, let's be honest, it's quite plastic. And a lot of it is not very real at all, but I've got friends here that have been here forever and Dubai's kind of been home for the last coming up 40 years, then I say, "That's a long time."

What's it like geographically? Is it a lot of the sand like you would imagine being in the Middle East or is there bits of greenery and things around too?

There's a lot of green, James, and that's what the government has done super nice. But from my house, I'm literally in the middle of the desert within 20 minutes, which I absolutely love. And mate, next week we've got some public holidays coming up and I'm an hour from the mountains and I'll be there for about three or four days that public holiday so I can get away from it. And this is one of the things, people come as tourists to this country, and it's like, "Oh, it's malls and it's buildings." There's a lot more, if you like sand. If you don't like sand, don't come here, mate. That's quite a lot.

And you and your wife have a paleo food company, don't you? What's it like getting fresh produce and things in Dubai?

That's all good. Yeah, we set up Smith St Paleo in 2016. My wife's from Australia and she was actually an air hostess with Emirates for 13 years where we met, mate, imagine that on an airplane. And we set up the paleo food business basically based on the back of her suffering a lot of inflammation when she was traveling and she just started cooking paleo food.

So getting good food back in the day, when I first got here, I can't imagine what it'd been like when my mom was trying to cook for us as kids, but now everything's available. We've got a lot of home grown organic food. So yeah, it's super good. But mate, I think we have probably on par with America, if I'm allowed to say it, the number of burger joints per capita is probably some of the highest in the universe. We're trying to do a good thing, but a lot of the time burgers win basically for a lot of people.

You met your wife on an airplane. Tell us about the pickup line you used!

It's not even good, mate! I was fast asleep and, she’ll tell this story, she's like, "He looked okay and he was a nice sleeper." So I'm there with my mouth shut. We didn't really speak much on the plane. We ran into each other in a bar here in Dubai. One of my mates was over from Australia going back. And I said, "Mate, if we're not going to see each other for six months or so, let's go out for a couple of quiet beers."

And we walked into this bar and Holly was in there. I was like, "I know you." And we've literally been together ever since. I went back to live in Australia because I was playing rugby down there. I'm about to live there and she sort of was flying in and out. Then I was like, "This is the one" and I moved back to Dubai.

And in end of 2004, I moved back here full-time and it's amazing. We have a great life, and one day we'll be back in Australia and very happy. Well, we're very happy now, I mean, but I think she definitely didn't take much persuading to say that we'll spend the rest of our life in Australia. I was like, "Yeah, I'm in for that."

One of the most amazing things about your background is your career as an extreme athlete and we'll get into the accident and those elements that have really defined a big chapter of your life shortly, but where did this love of extreme sports come from – the ultra-running, ultra-cycling, and all those types of things?

Honestly, it's the environment that you're brought up in. I'm not blaming it on my parents, but they did such an amazing job of making sports such a big part of my life. And I'm eternally grateful to them. I see a lot of my habits were their habits – it's incredible. They'd have people running from the house, they'd be off at triathlons. Mum would be winning running races here in Dubai. And I would just be begging the whole time from like four or five years old to go out and go running with them.

As I got a little bit older, I was allowed to run a little bit further down the street with them and then they'd be like, "Right, you've got to go home now." I do believe, James, you are a massive product of your environment and I feel a little bit sometimes not super comfortable saying that because I know people didn't have such fortunate upbringings that I had, but I know that people had perhaps more fortunate upbringing than I have, and haven't done much with it.

You are a massive product of your environment.

But endurance sport was in my blood, I think, from the start. Dad has cycled the length of New Zealand, he's cycled the length of England. He cycled pretty much halfway across America so that's really where it comes from. And even to this day, my dad's pressing 74, 75. I was speaking to him the other day, he's out on his bike and mum's doing workouts in the garden and it's amazing. I love my parents so much and they've given me so much.

Yeah, you need to catch up! It's a good benchmark of fitness and adventure for your life.

Yeah, absolutely. It really is.

You've done ultra-marathons through the Sahara Desert and had some other incredible experiences. Was there a particular moment where you felt like maybe you'd bitten off more than you can chew?

No, absolutely not. The Sahara was the moment where a lot of things came clear, mate. I was running 250 kilometers across the Sahara self-supported and honestly, I have a picture of it just before it happened, it just so happened that one of my friends took a picture and about 50 meters from where this picture is taken, I stopped and the sand, it was almost like a salt flat and the earth had almost parted. And there was just this big line of runners. And I was like, "Wow, I'm in the middle of the Sahara Desert." We hadn't seen any other civilization since we'd been there for like five days.

And I just thought to myself, "This is amazing that we, as human beings are allowed to pass on this earth." And from that, I always had a massive appreciation for nature and for the outdoors. I spent a lot of time when I was young in boarding school, in the UK, outside. But on that moment, I think a lot of things changed. Since then, all I've wanted to do is cross landscapes on foot and walk and hike and run and cycle. Holly was probably going, "Yeah, this is where it all went wrong. I let you go to the Sahara!"

But yeah, I just had this almost epiphany, if you want, and reflection, I'm huge on, James. And the more I think about it every time I sort of tell that story, the closer I come to it. Yeah, there's tough times, mate, don't get me wrong. It's brutal. Ultramarathons, endurance sports are I call them the wildest rollercoaster ride you'll ever go on because you are literally, you have these moments and you're invincible, no one can touch you.

You're running through the Sahara and it's just amazing. And a few hours later, the sun goes down and you're like, "Why the hell am I here? Why do I even exist as a human being?" And that's what's so amazing that you have these ultimate highs and lows, which allows you to come back into life.

You're running through the Sahara and it's just amazing. And a few hours later, the sun goes down and you're like, "Why the hell am I here? Why do I even exist as a human being?"

And when you come back, I believe you live on a different level. Again, it's no better or no worse than anyone else. But for me, it's elevated my game in a number of areas, family, business, a number of different areas. So yeah, the Sahara was very special.

I often think about those sliding door moments about one decision you made. When I first moved to LA in 2013, there was a barbecue that I went to in the afternoon which became the foundation of so many friendships, which has led to so many other amazing things. For you, the one decision of doing the Sahara Desert has helped you with a whole heap of inspiration.

For those who don't know, can you take us into the specifics of running through the Sahara Desert? Is it soft sand? Is it hard sand? Is it super hot? Are you wearing shoes? What's the deal!?

That's a great question. Marathon des Sables, it was the second big ultra that I did, is quite famous. It's a 250 kilometer race. You carry everything you're going to need for those six days on your back. You only get given water along the way and you wear normal trainers. And we stitch in what's called a sand gator to stop the sand from coming in. Despite people thinking the Sahara is all sand, it's not all sand, but a shit ton of it is sand! You get sand everywhere.

I was going to ask how effective the gators were. Sand is like water. It's sort of hard to get out if you're right in the thick of it!

I mean, they're good, but you get sand everywhere. And a lot of places, it's like a clay sand. So at the end of it, you're like, "Is this a real sun tan?" And then you have a shower and all comes off. But mountains in the day, it's super hot. In the night, it gets really cold. And that's why it's such a brutal race, that particular one, because a lot of races, like you'll have a race in a country that's quite hot most of the time.

I was in Kenya last year and that race is quite warm the whole time. You'll have races in the Arctic, there's an ultra where it's just freezing cold all the time. Whereas the Sahara, it can get down to about 6-8 degrees Celsius at night, but up to 45 degrees Celsius in the day. So you get these massive swings and it sounds quite straightforward, you're going to put everything on your back and you're going to run, but that pack shouldn't weigh really more than about nine kilograms.

So you're eating dehydrated food, which after a few days, obviously does quite funky stuff to your digestive system. For some people, it completely blocks them. Other people are literally just diarrhea the whole way through, so those problems are real.

And then we've got hygiene issues as well. You're not able to wash properly because you only get enough water to drink. So literally you're starting to come out with rash on your armpit because you're just sweating so much. And I don't need to go on about how your private parts will look, but you can imagine that as well, it's carnage.

I train a lot of people. I've taken over 20 people through that race now, and people will come and see me and I'd be like, "Tell me what it's about." And I just I'll say, "Listen, this race is nothing about running. This race, like life, is about all the other stuff. If you get all of your little admin bits in place, if you control the controllables, we've heard it like three million times in the year of COVID mate. But if you can focus and control on what you control, then you actually have a great time."

And it's mental, we're over 1,300 people running through the Sahara. So as you can imagine, we’re all absolute fruit loops!

Is everyone setting up their own tents or how does that work? Where do you sleep?

They put together this absolute token shelter that most nights just falls down, and you've got eight blokes laying literally like sardines. And when it falls down, no one can be bothered putting it back up because everyone's so tired. People just sleep under the stars, on rocks, you don't sleep properly for the seven days. That’s just the nature of ultra races.

This is what really takes people down because you've got lot of people who are very good runners, but if they can't manage stinking, I'm very good about washing in normal life, but when I'm in the bush or in an endurance event, you've got to deal with that and you don't have enough water and you won't have enough sleep – and eating dehydrated food the whole time is not like eating fresh paleo food, for example – and it's all these things that just start to chip away at people slowly.

And most people, you can move forward. And this is one of the biggest learnings I've got from ultra-running and from endurance sports is that you can keep moving forward. But when you're moving forward to another camp that you don't have anything to look forward to, it's quite a difficult argument to sell to yourself in a way. It's not like, "Mate, you finished this, we're at the pub. We're going to have a countertop meal and we're going to have a schooner."

You can keep moving forward.

But it's like, "Yeah, we're going to get to this other shit camp site where you won't be able to wash, you'll have to cook your food which tastes like crap anyway. And then you'll sleep on a rock. Do you want to go?"

It's like, "No, I don't really want to go there."

Sounds enticing.

Yeah, exactly! So these are the challenges, but that's what makes it absolutely incredible.

How do you feel at the start line of these things now that you have done so many of them – do you feel nervous, or have you gone through it that much now that you're just prepared, you understand the process, and you just got to focus on putting one foot in front of the other?

Yes, to all of the above, but I still get a bit nervous, mate, in a way that, when I go to these races, most of them now I want to try and push a little bit. We're on a journey of self-discovery. We all are, we're expressing that in different ways. So I want to see where my limits are. I want to sort of start to push it.

And I also love it, because I've been to a lot of races and the pre, the day before everyone gathers, and then we start the race the next day, I love just listening to people, listening to stories. If it's their first race, people talking about their shoes, their equipment, and just sitting back and listening and taking it all in.

I want to see where my limits are.

And you meet some people that generally, and this is what we always say that endurance sports brings together people that, we wouldn't be friends. This is the one thing that brings us together. We don't have anything else in common. We don't like the same music, but through this crazy sport of suffering, we all come together and you make some amazing, amazing friends. Like all of my good friends now I sort of know through endurance sports, it's gone from rugby mates to endurance mates. And they're both a crazy bunch.

The way you talk about it is the way that people talk about Burning Man and Ayahuasca, it's like this experience of self-discovery that people go through. It's really interesting.

Yeah. It is that James, that's a very good way of putting it together.

Obviously, you have a competitive spirit and somewhat of an obsessive nature to do the work behind the scenes to get this done. Are you very competitive and obsessive about all other areas of your life too?

Yes. What do I say!? No, mate, I'm totally chilled out. I'm really relaxed. I'm very OCD on a number of levels. Without this sounding wrong, that's one of the reasons why I love my wife so much because she puts up with it. Everything is like bang, bang. My diary is just so strictly done. My training is strictly done. And because when I was playing sport, when I was playing rugby competitively, and then when I moved into ultras, you're going to be in a remote place in an ultra. If you're not OCD, you could've left one thing that could just ruin your whole experience.

And that for me is sad because you might have to pull out the race because one of the guys rocked up to one of the races that I've been in and he didn't have his insoles in his shoes. So his race is destroyed. He'd washed them the day before and forgot to put them back in. So yeah, I'm pretty OCD in pretty much every area of my life. I'm very routine driven, which again, you wouldn't be surprised comes from my dad. It's like every single Sunday we do this, Monday, we do this, it is bang like that. And that's how I work really well.

I have my whole work life. I run two businesses. I do all this training and I try and spend as much time with my wife as I can, I have to live in these buckets. So Sunday's for this, Monday's for this. And I try not to tell Holly that, "Okay, I'm home now, we've got two hours make the best of it," sort of thing.

We did take as much holidays as we could. We try and get away four or five times a year. Obviously, COVID made that quite difficult. But I think that downtime is really important as well, because a lot of people would say, "Yeah, you're really intense." And when I'm here, I'm just on. Like this morning I was up before 4am and I was riding my bike at 4:30am and then bang, bang, bang the whole day.

And just literally an hour ago, I got home for my sister because it was her birthday. And now we're having this chat. So it's banging, but I love it. And I think that's what helps me as well. It's not for everyone, but it's just the way it's what works for me.

Yeah, the more prepared you are, the more you allow yourself that luxury of surrender. There's an old quote that's taken so many different forms. It says, “The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.” It's like people in the UFC, they talk about “The more you sweat in the gym, the less you bleed in the octagon.” Clearly you have no troubles putting in this work behind the scenes. What is that secret to the daily motivation? Is it just something that's instilled in you as a kid from your parents, as you mentioned earlier, or is there actually something going through your head every single day?

Like I talk about a lot about the “Win the Day” mentality. So I literally have that in my head as I step into the cold shower in the morning, it's “Win the Day”. My alarm says “Win the Day”, it's like a little mantra that helps me move forward. Have you got something like that to inspire that daily motivation and enable that consistency?

Yeah, I do James, and it's not dissimilar. My alarm's called “Dominate”. When I'm waking up to dominate, which is most days, I'm waking up to dominate. It's funny, because when I'm waking up to teach people, my alarm's called “Make people better at life”. So when I'm teaching first thing in the morning, when that's my first appointment, it's that.

But I get up every morning, as we all do, and I look in the mirror and I say, "Literally, this is it. I'm excited. I want to do this." And I try and carry that attitude.

Mate, I'm not full of crap, some days are shit; not every day is amazing. But I look in the mirror every morning and say, "This is going to be the best day of my life. This is really it."

And then one thing that I think is super, super healthy – and Holly and I have done it since we've been together 17 years – whenever we've been in each other's company is we sit down at the dinner table every night. You'll laugh at this, there's one month of the year or three weeks of the year where I have a screen on, which is when the Tour de France is on. She lets me watch it. It's wild because the finish of the Tour de France is like five o'clock in France, seven o'clock Dubai time. So I'm like, "It's live, I've got to watch it." And she bought into this years ago.

Mate, I'm not full of crap, some days are shit; not every day is amazing. But I look in the mirror every morning and say, "This is going to be the best day of my life. This is really it."

But the point is we sit down, no devices, nothing except those three weeks of the year. And we'll debrief the day, not formally. It's not like, "Oh, what did you love about today?" I'm not really like, can I say airy-fairy like that. We're pretty straight forward, "Now, how did it go? What went on?"

And I think we spend more time talking, like we never watched TV. I can't watch Netflix. I hate it. And this is also because of the way that I was brought up in boarding school, discipline was huge, but I think those things really help you, or they really helped me. And the way that I live is the way that I live. I don't think it's for everyone, but the same that you wake up with an attitude to win the day. I don't get why people don't try and wake up with that attitude.

I know some days you wake up and I know there's things on your agenda that you're not 100% looking forward to, but when you switch that attitude on, I'm going to win this day. Even if this thing that I have to deal with this shit, I'm going to win at it. Then you're going into it in such a positive way with such a beautiful mindset that you're actually going to turn that bad experience into a good one and have an awesome day. And we can all do that. I really believe that we can.

Yeah, it's an opportunity each day to also do something that your future self will thank you for.

You're very big on people finding the right training and the right nutrition and the right routine that suits them, rather than just trying to go on and get a downloaded a template version of the internet. When everyone wants that magic bullet for perfect abs, rather than finding out what’s going to fire them up and keep them consistent.

I think that's the key. Everyone's always worried about what everyone else is doing. And no one else is living your life. You're living your life. You've got to deal with your problems. You've got to get out of your bed and look at your face in your mirror.

So we need to go inwards to figure out what works, to get different ideas from here and there, listen to your Win the Day show. I was listening to it earlier today when I was riding my bike; it’s a beautiful show, with a very, very inspiring lady who you had on. And I got some ideas, but then I have to take them in to figure out what I'm going to do with them.

I think that's super important. Taking different ways of training, different ways of meditation, different ways of approaching life – it’s different for everyone. If someone's listening to this show and they get fired up and they go and try and live the way I live, it won't work for you. It will not work for you. You need to take small bits, and they might start to work and then we can start to develop change, but we have to figure out what works.

But I don't know what you think, James, that's the hard bit. And that's the bit where we have to look deep into ourselves to figure out what we are, who we are and how we are going to live. And I think it's easy to go, "Oh yeah, James is saying live like this. I'll do that." And it will give us happiness, but it will only last for a certain period of time because it has to come from within. And that's tough.

For sure, the win starts within. And I think that's where having the right friends is important. I was speaking at an event last night and I was asked by someone in the audience, “How do you get away from toxic people?” Which is so important, because you need to protect your energy source at all costs.

I just don't have any negative people in my life at the moment, I just don't. We’ve only got X amount of energy each day so we need to allocate that to people who give us energy.

Yeah, I think that's super important. It was funny, I was just with my sister and we were talking about that. Actually the scenario we're talking about was, if you pass someone in a supermarket that you don't really like, but you kind of know, would you stop? And I'm like, “No, of course I won't stop!”

I don't need to stop, because I’d rather spend 30 seconds calling someone I really care about to try and change their life in those 30 seconds. And she's like, "No, no, you've got to stop." And I'm like, "No, I'm not stopping!"

Your accident has so many parallels with the Janine Shepherd story. A big theme from both of you is that we can be on what we believe is the right path and everything might be looking good for us, but completely out of left field – through no fault of our own – something massive life-changing shifts our trajectory forever.

Can you take us into that day of the accident and exactly what happened?

Yeah, of course I can, like you rightly said, I was just on a completely different path. I was actually training on my bike, I was going to try and set an ultra-cycling world record. We were about two weeks out from the first race, and I was in the mountains about an hour or so from my house. I was riding with three other friends and I was hit by a truck at just over 55 – 60 kilometers an hour. And that truck pushed me on to a brick wall, which I then hit at 54 kilometers an hour, which is a little bit problematic being an 88 kilogram human, traveling at 54 kilometers an hour, going into a brick wall.

There's so many crazy things about this story, but in this split second, I dropped my shoulder. Like I would have done in rugby, and it took all the impact. So on impact, I broke my scapular and seven ribs. Without sounding too blasé about it, bones are not really that much of a problem. But I realized very fast that it was almost like I'd been winded and I couldn't breathe very well.

Then I started trying to figure out why I couldn't breathe. There was a lot of blood coming out of my mouth, and I remember having thinking to myself that in movies, when the guy gets shot, the blood comes out of his mouth, and next thing the guy's dead. So I knew I was in big trouble.

And one of the things through ultras and this thing I talk about the ultra mindset is if you have a problem, you have to admit you have a problem. You can't just deny it.

On impact, I broke my scapular and seven ribs.

And I couldn't deny it. There was blood coming out of my mouth. I couldn't breathe. And I'm like, "Shit, I've got a problem." What had happened was, on impact with the wall, my left lung had essentially almost exploded, like a beach ball. And that makes breathing incredibly hard because you're breathing essentially with the lung on the right side, although they're both together. It took almost two hours to get an ambulance because we're in the mountains, so I was just lying there. And so many amazing things happened.

Thank you for asking me the question, because this is part of my therapy. The more I reflect on it, the more I know in that moment that my body and my mind were detached, my soul left and I saw something different and a lot of people are listening and going, "Wow, this is going to be crazy." But in that moment that I was out of my body, all of the pain stopped, I could breathe again and everything was totally normal.

I thought to myself, "You're in a bit of a bad situation. Well, what's the options here?" And essentially there were two options. One was just give up. I thought to myself, James, I was like, "I love my life. I'm doing something I love, I'm with my mates. My wife's at home. No, that's NOT an option.”

There was only one option, and that was to fight for every single breath.

When I decided to take that option, I couldn't breathe again. I was back in my body and I was just trying to draw this breath. And it was just wild. It was just such an amazing experience to reflect on the power of choice, the amount of choice that we have in the world these days. And then when that choice is removed and you have to put all of your energy into something that is just so, so simple for us, which was breathing. And I made it through; the long and short of it. Obviously, I'm here.

I spent three days in intensive care, which is really awful because no one really knows what’s going on. You want an answer, but no one has the answer. You're like, "Am I okay? Am I going to live?" You're conscious, and they’re saying, "Yeah, we're hoping your lungs going to open.”

You're like, "What do you mean, you're hoping!? Is that not going to happen?"

And they're like, "Well, we'll send someone else in to see."

And you're in this weird, weird time. But again, mate, it was just an amazing time to reflect, to think, to listen to others. Then when I was moved to the main ward, I was able to answer people's questions, probably not with quite as much energy as I've got right now, but I was like, "I'm okay." Because you just literally. People would be making me laugh. I'm like, "Can you please not make me laugh."

This is what I believe life gives. It’s these unique moments and super unique opportunities where we're asked to respond and we're asked to make decisions. Those decisions almost define us, and they prepare us for what else is coming in life. The decisions that I made during the recovery of my crash has prepared me for things that I'm facing now.

I was never aggressive but I'm so much calmer now than I was before. And I'm just happy to sit back, listen, take stuff in, and I'm comfortable to say, "Thank you, James, let me come back to you on that." Whereas I remember before I'd be like, "No, James. We got to do it like this. Let's finish it right now, right now, me and you," you know what I mean? And now I'm just like, "Yeah, it's cool."

And because lungs need time to heal, you can't rush it. I always used to want to rush things, even until I was 40, I was going always super fast. And I was like, my accident and reflection has just told me you can slow down and it's okay to say nothing. And it's okay to say to someone, "Thank you so much. I'll come back to you tomorrow." That's cool.

We're in this world now where if you don't reply to WhatsApp within like 3.5 seconds, you're not a nice person. That's bullshit, mate.

We're in this world now where if you don't reply to WhatsApp within like 3.5 seconds, you're not a nice person. That's bullshit, mate. We don't need to live like that. And we're forced to live like that often by the system and we just don't need to. So yeah, it was a wild year. 2018 was just the best. Honestly, I mean it from my heart, it was amazing.

When did you realize the severity of the situation? The big problem that I have with doctors and psychologists – who do great work, don't get me wrong – but it's when we put a label on someone that can force them to say, "Oh, you know what? That is the reason why I shouldn't do X, Y, and Z” rather than giving them the motivation and opportunity to go out there and actually make something happen.

Because most doctors have got to err on the side of caution. When I was in Boston, about eight years ago, I had a Grade III shoulder separation where you get this little bump on your shoulder, after the ligament has ripped clean off the collar bone. And I remember the doctor telling me I would never be able to do some things that I loved to do. He was an expert so I believed him.

I went home with the bottles of painkillers that I’d been given. Combine strong painkillers with doctor’s severely constraining your idea of what’s possible for you, and it’s a path to suicide. It really is. I remember moments standing in the shower in tears, before I threw them all out and swore I’d never take a painkiller ever again.

Yeah. I had something similar when they sent me from hospital, I was taking these painkillers and I was losing it. And literally, I came downstairs one morning and I took the bag and I went out to the garbage and I just threw them all away. I said I'm not having more painkillers. The funny thing is, mate, and folks that I tell this often, anytime anyone asks me, go back on my Instagram the day before my crash which was on like the 9th of February, crashed on the 10th of February, I posted a picture that said, “Everything happens for a reason.” And the next day this happens.

On that theme, the doctors that I had were incredible. They never made me feel like I was going to be unable to do something. And I remember, and I'm forever thankful for this guy. The physio came in to my room when I got moved to the main ward. Well, there was three really cool things. One, the guy in the emergency room was just totally calm, super calm and so nice; softly spoken. And that made me feel comfortable.

Then I went to see the surgeon, he was a South African guy. And he said, "Listen, your shoulders in so many pieces, I wouldn't know where to start putting it back together. So I'm not going to bother operating. See you later." And I was like, "Yes, that's the best news ever!"

Then I got moved to the main ward. A physio came in and this was a real turning point for me, James, , I'd been in intensive care for three days, and it was like the second day in the ward. So I hadn't moved from the bed for almost five days.

And he was an English guy and he looked at me and he goes, "How are you feeling mate?" And I went, "Actually, I feel pretty good mate." It was morning. And I'm looking in the mirror and I'm feeling good and I'm doing what I said earlier. And he goes, "Do you want to go for a walk?" And then my face must've just dropped. I suddenly wasn't feeling so good." I was absolutely petrified. And I went to him, "Are you serious?" And he went, "Yeah, you can go for a walk if you want." I was like, "Mate, I would love to."

I was going to say, as long as it's an ultra-walk! Is that what you were thinking!?

Well, That's the thing, James, it literally was! It took me over 10 minutes to sit upright in bed. At this point, I had a pipe coming out from my lungs, draining the blood off. I had a pee bag in, I had a catheter in and he just grabbed these two and he clipped them on his belt as I stood up and he said, "Come on then mate, let's go for a walk." And it was like, I was reborn.

At five days, I didn't know whether I'd make it through. I was fighting for my life on the side of the road. I had no idea whether I'd make it through. And I started shuffling out of the hospital room down the ward, and I was just I had this grin on my face. I was holding my left arm because everything here is broken. I was almost crying. And I was like "This is amazing, this is amazing."

You could see the look on his face – he was so happy for me, and I felt just superhuman. But at the same time, my piss bag was on one clip on his belt, my blood bag on the other, and my hospital gown at the back was fully open. I'm cut to shreds and I'm having the best moment of my life. And I'm like "Wow, this is just so, so surreal. And no doctor is going to tell me I can't because I'm going to do this. And I'm going to recreate this feeling as often as I can."

I only had one more physio session after that, and I did all of my own rehab on my shoulder. I woke up every morning at 4:30am, went to my gym and started training. I got in that environment.

And the first week, when Holly was cooking dinner, I'd sneak out the house, get in my car, and I'd drive to my gym. She called me she goes, "Where are you?" I'm like "I'm at the gym." I just wanted to be there, mate, because of this environment of people. And I knew the power of the energy to heal me was going to be something amazing. And it did. I did it for a week.

Then when I could start training, I started training, and I just asked myself every day – it goes back to what we were talking about to “Win the Day.” I said, "What can I do today just to get better?" When you're really buckled, progress is super small but also super big, like to be able to lift my hand in line with my shoulder, it's like nothing really. When you think about it, like you're so far from being able to lift up a bottle of water or anything, because all you can do is get it to here.

But three weeks before I couldn't even lift barely my hand off my leg. So your whole perspective on things just starts to change. And that's when you realize that the human body and the human mind, they are incredible. For the amount of time that we disconnect them. we talk about mental and physical. We're one being, we are a human being and we're an amazing piece of machinery. It's incredible. It really is.

I love it. There's a part of your bio which is crazy, 30 marathons in 30 days within nine months of the accident. I want to ask you a question. There's a story about Bear Grylls, former British SAS who was in Africa and he jumped out of the plane, had an issue with his parachute, and ended up breaking his back. Lying in hospital, he had a picture of Mount Everest that he put at the wall at the end of his hospital bed.

The nurse came in and said, "Why have you got a picture of Mount Everest there?" And he said, "Because when I get out of hospital I'm going to climb Mount Everest." The nurse replied, "The only thing you're going to be climbing in and out of is a wheelchair."

Sure enough, I forget the timeframe, but he went and climbed Mount Everest, after he had a broken back. You had 30 marathons in 30 days within nine months of your accident. Where did the idea for that first come from?

It's very similar to that story, James. I was in the hospital bed and I was fortunate to get such amazing support in hospital, so it was one of the rare times I was alone. And I had this thought because my whole life had been about this ultra-cycling world record. And I was like "That's gone."

I had to make peace with it being gone. Then I had this thought of, "Well, if I can't ride my bike I can definitely run." And I sent a message to one of my friends, Rob, who now works with me. It's almost like a romantic love story. I sent him the route in Corsica that someone had sent me before. And it's basically crossing the Island of Corsica from the top left-hand corner to the bottom right corner; 195 kilometers, 10,000 meters elevation.

And I told Rob, who was a schoolteacher at the time, "Tell me what date you finish school because the following Monday we're going to run this."

He just wrote back "Mate, leave it, get better speak to me in a few weeks."

When I was training for that, I actually picked up the Dean Karnazes book about him running 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days.

In 2018, I turned 40, and thought, "Bike crash near death in February. Turning 40 in December. I need to do something pretty special in between." And there's the Dubai Fitness Challenge which is a 30 day challenge. I called up the organizers and I said "You guys have got this challenge?" And they're like, "Yeah, 30 minutes a day for 30 days." I said, "I'm just about to blow it out the water."

The guy said, "what are you talking about?" And I go "Well, mate, I'm going to run a marathon every day for 30 days." And he's just like, "No." I was like "No, no, no. You don't understand." He's like "Mate, this is for sedentary people to get them moving for 30 minutes, it's too extreme."

And I'm on the other end of the phone going, "Yeah, exactly. If I do something that's absolutely so stupid, then everyone will just go, "Well, if that moron can do this..."

I had this sales pitch, James!

You’re a man of the people trying to get everyone’s averages up!

Yeah! He’s just going "No."

Anyway, few more phone calls and I got it through and that's really where it came from. I was just like, "You know what, my motivation for doing it was super clear in that I wanted to see where I could push myself too, physically and mentally, because that's what the ultra-cycling would have done."

I wanted to test my potential. In the process of that, I want to inspire a lot of people as well. I thought, "I live in Dubai. Dubai has been my home for a number of years. If I can run into schools, that'll be something absolutely amazing."

So I finished about 16 of the 30 days in a school. Some days I had 2,500 kids trying to race me around a 400-meter track which, when you've already run 42 kilometers that day and you've run 10 or 15 of these things, and you’re absolutely smoked, the kids are trying to run like three and a half minute Ks because they're running with the marathon man.

But we were able to create an amazing impact. And it's so ironic that it's actually the day that we're recording this, 24th, it's two years ago to this day that I finished my 30th marathon. So it was wild. It was just … you learn so much, mate. I got to meet so many amazing people, again, the energy just feeding off people. I'd have people that just get up 4:00am, drive to where I was, start running with me. I had 40 or 50 people that ran a full marathon of which 30 had never run a marathon before, I was literally only on my own for like three hours of the whole month.

I downloaded 20 audiobooks, and I didn't even listen to one! I'm like "At the end of it, what am I going to do with all these audio books that I had?" It was wild. A lot of these things it's so much fun.

There is nothing we can't do. We just got to figure out how to do it.

And thank you for the great questions, mate. It's fun to talk about them and to continue the reflection but a lot of them are just, honestly, they're quite surreal. Sometimes I'm just like "Did this stuff happened?" Is this me, is this life, and then you realize, "Yeah, it did. And this is life and it is amazing."

Because on February the 10th, I'm in intensive care and on November the 24th I had just run my 30th marathon. There is nothing we can't do. We just got to figure out how to do it.

That legacy is going to live on for a long, long time, in all the different people who you helped with your story. You're a super positive and inspiring guy. High energy. Was there a particularly dark day that stood out in that recovery period between the accident and the marathon?

Yeah. There were tough days. There were really tough days. The first week that I went home was brutal because you can't sleep, and sleep deprivation is really tough. I'm okay with pain but when you can't sleep, I'd say to Holly, "I just want it to go away. I just want it to end. I just want this pain to end."

You laugh too hard, a rib pops. You roll over in bed, a rib pops. And you're just like "Oh my God." But when you're committed, like you are, to wake up every day and to say I'm going to win the day, that starts a programming in your subconscious, and you do it now subconsciously. So it's going to take a lot for that dark moment in the night where I'm almost in tears because I'm in so much pain and I've thrown the damn painkillers away because they’re giving me nightmares and stuff.

All of that's forgotten when you've programmed your subconscious, but it was brutal. And a lot of people will say to me, "Oh, Marcus, this is amazing, you recovered so fast." And in that same tone that I said before, I just look at them and go, "Yeah, bro I recovered fast." You don’t know the half of it. And I never would say that to people because people are just trying to be polite. And I just appreciate that they say nice things to me.

But when you do the first month of my training, I would just make it simple because when life is hectic training should be simple. I would just do 100 rounds of Tabata every morning; 20 on, 10 off, for 100 rounds. And it's still set up like that in my phone, 100 rounds. When people come to train with me, they're like, "You've got it saying 100 rounds, are you really going to go 100 rounds of Tabata?"

I'm like, "We'll see how it goes, bro."

And so yes, there are a lot of challenges. There are a lot of tough times. And I think that's one thing that people who listen to shows like yours, mate, you have very inspiring guests on; you give off a lot of great energy.

I think for people to think that we don't have tough days that we don't just look at it and go, "Oh my God," or get overwhelmed. We ALL get overwhelmed and we have to be honest with ourselves on that. But I think what the difference is from what you said and from what I see in my life is that no matter how bad today is I'll wake up tomorrow and it's a new day, then I'm ready to dominate and you're ready to win the day.

If I can just encourage people that every time you go to bed when you get up the next day, you've been just gifted this unique opportunity to do amazing things. And you've got a fresh mind. And if you come with it with this great positive mindset you're going to have an awesome life and you just rinse and repeat that. And it's beautiful.

Yeah, it's so true. There's an old saying it says "A happy person wants 10,000 things. A sick person wants just one thing." What did facing death head-on teach you about life?"

To live every single day. Don't waste time because it's brutal. It nearly ended. And it's hard for me when I look back at it, when I think about, it's very, very emotional mate. And wouldn't it just be a waste, how close was I? You could say very, very close. I was very close and I'm here. So I'll live. And that is something that is easy to say, but I think it's challenging and it's tough. Some days are very tough but that's what I learned from it.

Goal setting is a big part of what you do by the sound of it. You're always focused on a big achievement in the future. How do you balance that hunger for future achievements with your happiness in the present?

Because the goal is just where you're headed to. The goal for me is important, but the process is my love. Holly will tell you, "You only sign up for these races so you can buy new stuff." And for me, often the end goal running across the Sahara, running in Kenya, all of these places I was in Sri Lanka last year, amazing, amazing. But the training, the waking up tomorrow morning at 4:30am, it’s dark and cold, but I’m going out and do something, eating well the whole time, being hydrated, sleeping eight hours a night. That is what I love.

The goal is just like the icing on the cake. It's good for the selfies and stuff, you know what I mean? It's at the end. That's why I think people struggle a little bit sometimes because they're so focused on the end goal that they forget that the process is life and it has to be part of your life, this end goal, you have to enjoy.

When life is hectic training should be simple.

There's no point in dreaming about climbing Everest, you have to dream about cold adaptation training. You have to dream about wearing big down jackets and you have to be in love with that. You can't just dream about taking the picture on the top of Everest. That's not it, it's the process, because that process is life.

Otherwise, you just go from one six-month goal or race to another, and that would be awful. I get people that come to me for endurance coaching, and they've just had awful experience, they hate it. And I'm like, "Wow, you spend 16 hours a week doing the sport that you hate. This is ridiculous."

I love the process mate, again, do I love every single minute of training? I try to, because I always make it fun. And I'm at a stage now where I’m 42 and this is what I've chosen to do. Is it my calling in life, if that's what you want to say? Yeah, it is. And I absolutely love it. I love every minute of it. I really do.

Life is too short to do what you hate. And it's not necessarily the will to win, it's the will to prepare to win, which I really I feel like is a big theme from you.

Yeah, absolutely.

Final question. What's one thing you do to win the day?

I wake up one minute before everyone else. I never set my alarm at 4:30am, I set it at 4:29am. I would never set it for 5:00am, I set it at 4:59am. I've done it for a while now, and I feel that gives me the edge and I never ever, ever press snooze … and nor should you.

“The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.” 

Norman Schwarzkopf 

On this show I like to bring you the real mindset masters, and today we’ve got an absolute superstar, Marcus Smith, who’s been through more wars than most.

Marcus is an entrepreneur, an extreme athlete, and a performance coach. Based in Dubai, he’s the founder of InnerFight, which helps everyone – from kids to corporate clients – unlock their peak performance, as well as owner of Smith St Paleo, which provides paleo food offerings to help people make better nutrition decisions.

Marcus is fit, and I mean FIT. At age 18, he started playing professional rugby, making it to the 2009 Rugby Sevens World Cup. Since then, he’s completed pretty much anything with “ultra” in its name, including:

In February 2018, while training to set a world record in ultra-cycling, Marcus was hit by a truck, with the impact smashing him into a brick wall. But he stared death right in the face and said, “Not today.” Rather than focus on what he lost, Marcus decided to create a documentary ‘Fight for Every Breath’ where he details his experience and his journey back to full health.

Just nine months after the accident, Marcus completed not one, not two, but 30 MARATHONS … IN 30 DAYS!

In this episode, we’re going to talk with Marcus about:

Strap yourself in. Let’s WIN THE DAY with Marcus Smith!

🎞️ For the video interview, click here.


Resources / Links Mentioned:

📝 Marcus Smith Facebook.

📷 Marcus Smith Instagram.

⚡ Marcus Smith website.

😋 Smith St Paleo in Dubai.

🏃 50 Marathons 50 Days: The secrets to super endurance by Dean Karnazes.

👶 Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall.

🎙️ We Are Members: Learn how to create a thriving business from your podcast.

“It must be borne in mind that the tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goals to reach.”

Benjamin E. Mays

Do you know why most people fail each year, despite the best of intentions? 🤔

In this episode, we talk about the #1 cause of failure. I'll also reveal the exact goal-setting method I use so you can join the thousands of people in 20+ countries who use it to start each year full of confidence and make big things happen.

We'll also go through:

If you find this episode valuable, share it with a friend; then, go to Apple Podcasts and leave a rating with your favorite takeaway from this episode.

🎞️ For the video episode, click here.


Resources / Links Mentioned:

🗝️ Learn more about The Day Won Mastermind.

⚡ Download your FREE success plan.

🧭 Order your hundred board for goal accountability.

🎙️ Register for We Are Podcast and learn how to make money from your podcast. For 35% off ANY ticket, use code: WINTHEDAY

“It must be borne in mind that the tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goals to reach.”

Benjamin E. Mays

I always start each year supremely confident, and 2021 is no exception. In fact, despite everything going on in the world, I am more confident this year than ever before. That’s because I’ve spent years (what feels like a lifetime) learning, applying and refining what I believe is the most effective goal-setting system available.

But most people fail because they don't even know where to start.

Last week, for the first time ever, I ran two 90-minute goal-setting workshops so I could walk people through the exact process I use to set goals that work, so they could also start the year full of confidence and know exactly what they needed to do to realize their big dreams in 2021.

The response was huge – people from 10+ countries registered – and we had people in the hot-seat so they could action things in real time and implement the system that all but guarantees their success. Which, if done correctly, is something that can be replicated year after year.

For those of you who missed the workshop, unfortunately there isn’t a replay, but you can download your free Success Plan here:

🚀 Success Plan Template (Updated for 2021)

When you download it, you’ll find two tabs:

  1. The first tab is for you to map out everything you want in your life. And I mean everything. It should be exhilarating to fill this out because it’s your literal wish-list for the universe.
  2. Then, on the second tab, you’ll see a comprehensive summary of how all the pieces of the puzzle fit in.

It’s simple to complete your Success Plan – I’ve done the heavy lifting for you. The hard part is having the discipline to sit down and actually do it, and that’s the one thing I can’t help you with.

The reason most people fail in life is because they don’t know what they want. Over time, that reactive personality means they’re exposed to distraction and procrastination and forced to accept whatever fate hands them.

And the reason most people don’t know what they want is because they don’t know who they are.

With all my clients, the first thing we do is find out exactly who you are – and then create a bulletproof plan to make sure you can be proactive about your life. This ensure you're clear on: your mission, what values determine your daily actions, and what you need to do TODAY to get you where you need to be.

That's how you create freedom, in every sense of the word.

So, now we know that most people don’t even set goals. In fact, most people spend more time planning their social lives than they do their actual life. And when you add in that most people don’t know who they are, that’s mistake 1 and 2 – both of which are fatal mistakes.

There’s a statistic I share at every speech I do and that’s by the second week of February, out of everyone who has set goals (or new years resolutions) for the year, 80% of people have already give up on the year. That’s right, only 1 in 5 of those people who actually set goals in the first place – which is a minority percentage to begin with – is still focused on achieving those goals, just SIX weeks after they were set.

Right now, I want you to stop reading, go to whatever calendar you use (e.g. Google Calendar), and create a new entry for Monday, 8th February at 7am. In capital letters, write “WIN THE DAY” followed by some emojis that will make it stand out.

When that calendar notification goes off, I want you to go extra hard that day. Let it be your motivation that on the one day when almost everyone else has quit, you’re the exception to the rule – you’re setting the example of what an inspired life looks like.

And if you want to know how to do that, just imagine there’s a film crew following you around and creating a movie about your life – and on that day, Monday, 8th February, they’re with you from the moment you wake up until the moment you go to sleep on that day. Show them how deserving you are of everything that will come into your life with this plan you’ve created.

Now, there's one goal that always eluded me and that's meditating consistently. We're all aware of the benefits of meditation, but I’ve never been able to stick with meditation for long enough to experience those benefits.

So I bought what’s called a ‘hundred board’ – less than $10 on Amazon for a whole bunch of them. Basically, each row has 10 numbers, so the whole board is numbered 1 to 100. Each day, when I do a meditation, I draw a big red "X" over the number. And guess what? I haven’t missed a single meditation since I started it over a month ago.

It’s a simple idea: no one wants to break the chain once it’s started, so I just leave the hundred board on my keyboard so I can’t start week each day until I’ve done the meditation. It’s quite satisfying to draw the red "X" each morning, and it’s also broken down the more challenging goal of 100 daily meditations in a row into one simple task each day.

There’s nothing that can happen in my day that would stop my from getting this done – it unlocks that competitive fire within.

It doesn’t matter what your goal is. If there’s something you struggle with, get a hundred board and get moving with your red crosses. I’m looking forward to having a hundred board for other areas very soon, too.

This is the exact process that Jerry Seinfeld used to write better jokes when he was an aspiring comedian. Seinfeld knew that the best way to become a renowned comedian was to tell better jokes, and the best way to tell better jokes was to write every day. He used this red "X" system to ensure that every day he was getting words on a page that became the foundation of the comedy career he built, which led to shows like Seinfeld – regarded as one of the best shows of all time (and one of my personal favorites) – that made Jerry Seinfeld a billionaire.

On this goal setting process, Seinfeld said: "After a few days you'll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You'll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain. Don't break the chain."

Very wise words from a true legend.

While there’s no replay of our goal-setting workshop, I’ve got a big announcement to make! On the 22nd of February I’ll be running The Day Won Mastermind for 12 lucky people who are going to get access to experiences you can’t get anywhere else. For three months, I’ll be working closely with you to get crystal clear on what you want in life and then give you a bulletproof plan to achieve it.

Who is The Day Won Mastermind for? It’s for you if you want to significantly boost your income, establish relationships at the highest level, and position yourself as an authority in your industry. Because that’s what I do best.

In the last 12 months alone, I've worked with people in more than a dozen countries to achieve massive results. In that time, my clients have:

And that's just what they achieved with their business.

The truth is that the right blueprint will transform literally EVERY part of your life.

But it’s not just me, and the other participants, who will be helping you on The Day Won Mastermind. I'll also be bringing in some of the most successful entrepreneurs on the planet LIVE to help you action things in real time and give you all the answers and support you need.

How would your life change if you had:

They’re just some of the people who will be available live to help YOU blast through your obstacles, map out your path to financial freedom, and grow your business.

So if you have your own business or you’re in professional services (e.g. perhaps you’re a consultant, real estate agent, financial planner, podcaster, speaker), The Day Won Mastermind will transform your life like nothing you’ve seen before. And it even comes with a 100% moneyback guarantee, so there’s literally zero risk.

💡 Learn more about The Day Won Mastermind

The people who join The Day Won Mastermind become part of my inner circle and friends for life. It’s that simple. If you’ve ever wanted me to help you personally, there’s not better option than this.

AND there's $2,000+ in exclusive bonuses.

But, to make sure I can allocate enough time to each of you, there are only 12 spots available and, like last year, all of them will be taken. So if you’re interested click here and together (along with the special guests I’ll be bringing along) we’ll make 2021 your best year yet, guaranteed.

Onwards and upwards always,
James Whittaker

“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”

Oscar Wilde

Today, we sit down with one of the world’s leading entrepreneurs and all-round legends, Mike Michalowicz. If you feel like you’re treading water in your career (or simply have lofty goals), or you’re thinking of going down the entrepreneurial route, this is the episode for you.

By his 35th birthday Mike had founded and sold two multi-million-dollar companies. Confident that he had the formula to success, he became a small business angel investor – but then proceeded to lose his entire fortune. Then he started all over again, driven to find better ways to grow healthy, strong companies.

Mike has devoted his life to the research and delivery of innovative, impactful strategies to help business owners succeed. He is the creator of Profit First, which is used by hundreds of thousands of companies across the globe to drive profit. He is the creator of Clockwork, a powerful method to make any business run automatically. And his latest, arguably most impactful discovery, is Fix This Next, where he details the strategy businesses can use to determine what to do – and in what order – to ensure healthy, fast, permanent growth (and avoid debilitating distractions).

Mike is a former columnist for The Wall Street Journal, a business makeover specialist on MSNBC, and author of #1 bestselling books such as Clockwork, Profit First, Surge, The Pumpkin Plan, The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur, and his new book Fix This Next.

In this interview, we go through:

You’re going to love this one. Let’s Win the Day, with Mike Michalowicz!

James Whittaker:
Mike, thanks for being here. First, I want to start by letting you know that The Pumpkin Plan is the best audiobook I’ve ever heard! Energy and content are both on point, so well done, sir. It must be comforting to know that if all else fails, you at least have a profitable career as a narrator ahead of you!

Mike Michalowicz:
Perhaps, right!? It's funny, when I go to the recording studio, I always stand — and I’m the only person who stands. So, when I arrive, these studios are like, "Here's your seat," and I'm like, "No, I'm sorry," because I get so jacked up.

Well, I went to this one studio, and the narrator before me for his book was a guy named Michael J. Fox, you know that name. I remember coming in, he had just left, and I talked with the producer. I said, "What's it like having Michael J. Fox present?" She goes, "He's a thoroughbred. He wants to be whipped and he'll run faster." I'd read for a while, then I said, "What do you think I am?" She's like, "You're kind of a Clydesdale. You clump along and you get the job done, but we have to do a lot of retakes." So, that's my reading skill.

You work with entrepreneurs, but it seems your work overlaps spousal relationships, professional services, and so many other different areas. Have you found some unexpected results outside of that entrepreneurial audience who you primarily serve?

Yeah. You know, it's funny, I have. It's married couples. I am not a couples counselor by any stretch of the imagination. I have had multiple occasions where couples who are also business partners have reached out and said, "We've reconciled our marriage. We feel stronger." It's interesting how our personal lives and our business lives are locked, and when it's our marital life and our business partner life, it can get to be a real nightmare.

I think it's the systems I teach that simplify the process, but it also simplifies the communication. Partners start speaking eye to eye, and they're not cross-talking. Perhaps that serves marriages. I never expected that, but I do hear that frequently.

Even planting the right seeds and making sure we’re focused each day on the end goal, whether it is a successful marriage or a successful business partnership. Those who go into business with their spouse are usually in for a bumpy ride… I mean, there's maybe two or three times I've seen that actually work successfully. Everyone else just ends up burnt out, on all counts, and the relationship is one of the big sacrifices.

Listen, I can barely be with myself 24 hours a day. That's actually really hard. Being with someone else 24 hours a day? Forget it!

In your books, you challenge the modern-day definition of ‘entrepreneurship’ and state that real entrepreneurs shouldn't be doing most of the work. Instead, it's their job to identify the problems, discover the opportunities, and then build the processes that allows other people and other things to do the work for them. But how do these entrepreneurs recognize that they are on that hamster wheel, and what can they do about it?

If you start seeing yourself doing repetitive tasks, that's the number one indicator. So, if you do something again and again and again, that's an indication that there's, first of all, demand for that task to be replicated, but you, the entrepreneur, need to find a way to outsource it, systematize it, and assign it out – because if you're doing the repetition, that means you are now within the business. An entrepreneur, at least in the early stages, we are that icebreaker. We're going to break into the new space and leave space behind for other people to do the work. But if we keep on turning around, we can't break forward.

Ultimately, too, we need to transition from doing any kind of work, including the icebreaking, and moving our way to designing outcomes. What I mean by this is clear vision, and then considering, almost like a chess board, putting the right people in the right places, the right system in the right places to choreograph them collectively to achieve that outcome. That's the ultimate definition of entrepreneurship: we are not doing the job; we are creating the jobs.

What separates the top entrepreneurs and professionals – the ones who are always onto bigger and better things, making a bigger impact, and appear free in their day to day life – versus your run of the mill entrepreneur / professional who's constantly on the brink of burnout and never seems free?

You know, it seems to be purpose. Purpose in the business. A greater purpose of why we're doing what we're doing. I believe the entrepreneurs who struggle are going after money and thinking, “This is a way to make an income and support my life.” Well, that's a very volatile thing. If this doesn't make enough money, we move on to something else, we get frustrated.

That's the ultimate definition of entrepreneurship: we are not doing the job; we are creating the jobs.

But entrepreneurs who lean into purpose, meaning “This is why I'm on this planet and my business is an amplification or expression of serving that reason,” those people become relentless. I'm not saying relentless in that they're working ridiculous hours necessarily. They may. That's not healthy, in my opinion, but they have a ridiculous commitment to achieving that purpose. They become very thoughtful about it. They look at ways of amplifying it. They look at ways to leverage. That is the drive of purpose.

People with purpose also don’t give up. You know this – overnight successes take 10 or 20 years. A lot of these successes when they come to our purview, when we see it as a consumer, well, they've already been around for 15 years working relentlessly on this purpose. But it's purpose that begets drive and drive begets success.

Yeah, which incorporates mastery and enables you to be resilient and resourceful to acquire everything you need to achieve that mission.

What about passion – where does that come into it? A lot of people hear about ‘passion’ and ‘purpose’, but how are they aligned and how do people go and find these things if they don't already know what their purpose on the world is?

I would say purpose is the beacon and passion is the fuel. So, there is a difference. Purpose is asking ourselves what we’re moving toward. Business owners who don't have purpose are running away, thinking, “I can't handle these struggles” or “I don't want this problem.” They’re running away from that problem. Purpose is we're getting pulled towards something, and you move so much quicker when the magnetic force is pulling you in the same direction. That's what purpose is.

But passion is the fuel. It's the day-in, day-out fuel. If you have a great purpose, but you're not passionate about what you're doing, it becomes a real slog to stick with it.

The key is to find out what gives us joy in the activity.

The key is to find out what gives us joy in the activity. Not all entrepreneurs are cut out to manage people and to choreograph resources and stuff like that. Some entrepreneurs create an amazing idea, but they really should stay as doers. They're really talented at something. Those entrepreneurs, if they're smart, are going to bring in someone who has the talent to do the management of people and so forth. But we have to make sure that we're in a field of passion that gives us excitement on a day-to-day basis. As an entrepreneur, find that for yourself, drive toward that purpose, and you got the one-two punch.

A lot of your work encourages business owners to have a business that runs itself, and I think everyone aspires to that goal. But it might seem impossible for some people who are too deep in the trenches. Where do they start, especially the ones who are concerned about quality control?

Yeah. It's called the ‘I Can Syndrome.’ It's dangerous. I suffered from that from years. I said as an entrepreneur, "I can do this. I can do that." It's true, I can do it, I just do a real shitty job at it. That's the part I didn't add in. So, we can do lots of things, but ‘can do’ and ‘competence’ are two totally different things. First of all, we have to acknowledge that about ourselves, that we're not superheroes. We may have super talents in certain areas, but we can't do everything.

The next thing is to get the muscle of delegation in place. Delegation is where we assign outcomes to people and then hold them accountable to the outcomes. We have to start with the low hanging fruit, stuff that we are repeatedly doing and that there's low risk of assigning someone else. If they really flub it up, how much damage can that really do to your business?

For example, invoicing. That is easy to outsource, and the risk, if they really flub it up, that's recoverable. That can be caught pretty easily. It's actually a low risk. If someone instead of charging $1 charges $10 million by accident, the client will probably figure it out and bring you some awareness there. It is recoverable, but there's certain things that are irrevocable – for example, if they mess something up and it kills the relationship. Those are the things that we have to get a little more sophisticated in our delegation before we start doing it. So, start slow with delegation and then let it grow.

In the last few years, we've heard so much about the importance of starting with your why, but in your new book Fix This Next you talk about the power of what and understanding your what. How do people discover what their ‘what’ is in their business?

In Fix This Next, I did this thing called the business hierarchy of needs. It's a translation of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, which is a human needs system as a business needs system. The great distinction is the Maslovian hierarchy of needs, we know what we need instinctually because we have inputs like eyesight, hearing, smell, touch, we get gut instincts. Our gut doesn't work so well in business. We need empirical data. We need the information from our business.

So, I created five levels just like Maslow, but within them, there's five needs at each level. Collectively, I call them the 25 core needs. I found this to be consistent in businesses of any type and industry. What we do is we go through a sequence and we make sure that the base level needs of our business are satisfied, and only when they're adequately satisfied can we elevate high-level needs within our business, just like human needs.

You and I both need to breathe, eat food, drink water. If we're not breathing right now, this interview is done. Even though we're serving a higher-level need right now, if the base is compromised, we go to it. Well, in business, the base is the generation of cash, which comes through sales. If you're not generating cash, your business is suffocating. We got to breathe. We revert to that. But once we have sales in and it's adequate, then the focus is profitability, the retention of cash, because that brings about stability, longevity. You can see in the 2020 crisis, the pandemic, how many businesses were focusing on sales but not profit. They're off the planet now. They're done. So, profit is the next level of needs.

You can see in the 2020 crisis, the pandemic, how many businesses were focusing on sales but not profit. They're off the planet now. They're done.

Once that's satisfied adequately, we move to orchestration of efficiency, which is no dependency on any individual – particularly the owner – like we spoke about earlier. There's impact, that's the creation of transformation. This is where businesses systemically don't do transactions, but transformation. What I mean by systemic transformation, it's not one client saying, "This was an amazing experience." That's when every client says, "This was an amazing experience."

Then the highest-level need in a business is the formation of legacy or permanence. This is where a business is designed to live on beyond the owner. This is where business owners find out that they were really never business owners in the first place. We've been business stewards. We had a responsibility to bring this entity to life, but it's about the entity continuing on for generations, to serve generations regardless of the owner's input.

I'm really happy you brought up retention of cash because I actually read your book Profit First earlier in the year. It's a concept that I feel like is so rare. Why is it that that profit first mentality such a rare thing for businesses when they're starting out?

I think because it's not logical. But the ironic thing is we don't need logic. We need behavior. We humans, we feel that we're very logical, but we're behaviorally based. Traditional accounting tells us a very logical formula. Your sales minus expenses you incur results in profit. So, sales minus expense equals profit.

But I saw a study that just opened my eyes to that formula not working. It was conducted by a US bank which identified that 83% of small businesses globally – small businesses is a company with up to $25 million in revenue – are surviving check by check. They’re in a constant panic, and are not profitable. I'm like, "How come the 250 million people who start a business to achieve wealth, to be financially free, can't figure out the number one reason we started a business?"

That's why I looked at the formula. I'm like, "Oh my gosh, it's right there in the formula." It says profit comes last. In fact, it's in our vernacular. We call it the bottom line or the year end. All these terms say last. It's the behavior of people, humans, when something comes last, it means it's insignificant. So, we're saying profit is insignificant. We delay the consideration. At the end of the year, they have profit, “No, dammit, maybe next year.”

When something comes last, it gets delayed and delayed. So, in Profit First, fundamentally we flipped a formula. It's sales minus profit equals expenses. In practice, what I'm saying is every time revenue comes into your firm, take a predetermined percentage of that money, allocate it toward a profit account, hide the money away, and run your business off the remainder. It's the ‘pay yourself first’ principle applied to business.

What about with early-stage entrepreneurs who feel like they've got their purpose, but they're not comfortable charging what they believe they're worth, or they're not comfortable having the conversation that gets them remunerated for the expertise that they have? What advice do you have for those people who struggle to charge for something that they're inherently good at or something that they want to make a business out of?

First of all, I get it. Secondly, I want to shake them and say, "Are you kidding me!? You have to charge more," because the number one argument you'll get not to increase prices is always from yourself. It's our own head, "I'll lose my customers. What if no one likes me anymore?" Here's the deal. If you raise your prices and you lose customers, it means all they cared was that you were the cheap guy. They want cheap, and who wants someone that wants you because you're cheap? So, they're cheapening you. I'll tell you something else, and this is the big secret. The vast majority of your clients, I guarantee, want you to be profitable.

Now, here's the deal. They don't say, "Hey, can you charge me more?" And they won't say, "Could you rip me off a little bit? I really would like that." But what they will say is, "I want your full attention. When I buy your product or service, I want you delivering the best of yourself. I want your undivided attention. I don't want you worrying about where you're making money and panicking, because then you'll half ass me. So, care for me."

This is the big secret. The vast majority of your clients, I guarantee, want you to be profitable.

The only way you can care for a client, the only way you can give them focus, is if you're not worrying about money. The only way you can do that is if you're sustainably profitable, and the only way you can do that is by increasing your prices. Your clients want you to increase your prices because they want your full undivided attention.

So true. It's interesting, a lot of the concepts you talk about really are flipping that script on the traditional way of thinking.

It really is. A lot of it’s framing, right? It's the old, “Whether you think you can or can't, you're right.” I think Henry Ford said that. If I say I suck at math, I won't do the math practice and I'll suck at it. What if I said I like to find shortcuts in math? I will start repositioning myself. The internal dialogue we have is very important on how we position our business.

You’ve stated previously the importance of being irresistibly magnetic in business to succeed. But what if you're in a fairly traditional job, like an accountant or a lawyer or a financial advisor, what do those professionals do to be different and irresistibly magnetic?

Well, start by breaking the label. As you were saying, accountant, lawyer, oh my God, I start falling asleep myself! The thing is, if I said to you, "Hey, James, I'm a lawyer," the conversation is done. You know what a lawyer is, you know I'm going to sue somebody. The question is, since all lawyers are the same from the customer's perception, it's like, are you cheaper? So, if your label is the same as your competition, the consumer sees you the same, and then you enter the downward price pressure game, which is a dangerous game to be in. It's a race to the bottom. The first step is break the label. Don't be an ‘accountant’, be a ‘profit advisor.’

Now, it's got to speak to your skill set. You better know how to increase people's profit. Don't be a ‘lawyer’, be ‘integrated counsel’, someone that integrates into the culture to write better legal documents. You have to break the label and it has to speak to your service differentiator. If you don't change the label, I don't care how different you are, clients aren't going to see it, because the second you say, you're a lawyer, they're going to say, "I know what you do. Don't tell anything else. Are you cheap?"

In business, no one seems to care as much as the owner. What can business owners do to empower their team to care as much about the day-to-day operations and the results as they do?

It's funny, I'm working on a book, I mean, this won't come out for five or six more years, so we're in deep analytics right now doing this and running tests. I own multiple companies. We're testing on our own companies, but we're testing other companies. Here's the number one discovery we've had: no one cares about the business goals except for the owner.

In my own business years back, I was in the forensics industry doing computer crime investigation. It was very clear… I calculated if we did the right moves, we could have a $10 million year. For me at that point, that had been the biggest business I’d ever had. I came out, I called all my employees together and said, "This is the year," I had the drumroll going, "We're going to do $10 million. Ta-da!" It was crickets.

I'm like, "Why aren't you guys excited!? $10 million!" My trusted confidant, her name was Patty, came up to me and said, "Mike, if we make $10 million, you get a new car, a new house, but why do we care?" That's when I had the realization that the number one concern for every single person is their own concerns. Judy cares about being home on time to be with her family for dinner. Mark cares about saving money to buy his motorcycle. Dave wants to go back to school. And it goes on, and on, and on. Everyone has their own concerns. So, the job of a business owner is to understand the vision and desires that our colleagues have, then organize the path of the business to satisfy their needs as we achieve the journey of our own personal goal. It's called individual goal alignment.

The job of a business owner is to understand the vision and desires that our colleagues have, then organize the path of the business to satisfy their needs as we achieve the journey of our own personal goal.

In our own wall here, we call it the path to intentions. There's a whole wall in our building with everyone's individual dreams. They're little micro dreams, leaving early on Fridays so I can go to baseball games that my son's playing in and stuff like that. We have them pinned up, and we say, "Are we achieving these individual dreams?" Now, the company is not going to buy a house for someone, but it's going to free up the time for them to see a real estate agent. It's going to bring the dream up over and over again and say, "What are you doing to get there?" Because people feel empowered when they achieve their own dreams. We just need to support them and recognize them.

So, the people who aren't even going out of their comfort zone to inquire as to what it is about their team's dreams, they have no one else to blame for their inferior results if they're not getting there?

Correct. When we're like, "We're all fired up. You're making a salary!" we need to recognize that a salary is a means to a living, but it's living that we need to address. The vast majority of businesses, including myself for years, ignore that. Now I'm attuned with that.

I've got a super little company. I have multiple, but this is the hub company where I'm broadcasting from, there's six people. Of the six people, three of us are full-time and the other three are part-time, yet our numbers are consistent with a company of about 20 employees. I'm getting consistently asked and curious about how can we be performing at such a level? But we are so attuned to what every individual wants. We also figured out another thing is match people's talents not to titles. We used to be very title oriented. If you're reception, you've got to answer the phones, do this and light data entry.

We now match talent to the tasks. We have a web like structure. Jenna, one of our colleagues, is extraordinary at writing. She used to be our email manager. Well, she's not our email manager anymore. She writes the emails. We have someone else who’s good at the number crunching and the data set up, but she's also writing articles and blogs now, which is Jenna's passion. Jenna has elevated extraordinarily and represents us better than ever before. Her work output is three times what it was before because she's not in any area of frustration. She's doing what she loves. We try and do it for every employee. The result is we don't have that pyramid structure of an organization. We have a web like structure.

I had Keith Ferrazzi, author of books like Never Eat Alone, on the show a few months ago, and he's been a huge influence on me.

Oh, yeah. I've seen him speak before. He's excellent.

His new book, Leading Without Authority, talks about that concept of co-elevation, where instead of your mission, you actually bring a lot of people into that to make it a shared mission. So, the way that they care about the company and its results is by you interlocking their desires and their dreams with their role at the company. Is that correct?

That's exactly it. You know, I was looking at popular mechanics, I get a little geeky, and they were looking at these things called Doric and Corinthian columns, columns that would support heavy structures made out of marble. They plugged into a supercomputer and said, "How do we make a column of the same material, but with less density and retain the strength? The system went through and it made... it almost describes a web like structure. There was no symmetry to it, it was just this web like structure. The column I think was one-third of the material, but retained the exact strength. That's what we need to do in our business, these web-like structures.

You mentioned before you've got a new book coming out a little bit down the track. You've already got at least six books out that we know about that have been translated into 20+ languages. They're all seriously kick-ass books. I’m curious, what's your process of being able to come up with a concept and figuring out whether there's actually demand for that particular solution that you're providing, as well as being able to get books published at a fairly frequent basis?

I'll do reverse order. I'm writing constantly. I wrote for three hours today already. But I write in parallel, so right now I'm about to submit my manuscript actually in two days for my most current book. I'm also working on a manuscript for my next book, and I'm working on the outline for the book after it. So, I do parallel processing. I think that's a big component. I'm already working on the 2025 to 2028 books right now.

The testing is real simple: I reach out to my readership. The beginning was kind of tough because I didn't have a readership. Now I'm very blessed. I have a readership that's engaged and will respond, and I say, "Hey, where are you struggling now?" And it's the feedback I use from them to pinpoint what subjects are important in the sequence.

Then, going back to the inception of books, I've been an entrepreneur my entire life, and I've had some wonderful successes. I've had some really, really big struggles. It was during the struggling periods I wrote down what I didn't understand about entrepreneurship. I wrote probably about 100 different elements I didn't know. I've distilled it to 25-30 things that I think are important, and so I think ultimately I'll be producing 25-30 books as long as it's in alignment with what people want. That's how I do it.

You're brilliant at taking these seemingly complex tasks and projects and making that something easy where people can essentially put one foot in front of the other. So, thank you very much for all you do and sharing everything here.

Systems are a big part of what you do now. I want to ignore the business side for a moment and focus on you personally in your role as a husband, as a father, or even as a role in your own health. What systems do you have in place? Is there anything that comes to mind that helps you be effective in any of those roles?

Yeah, I think so. I'm very process-oriented, so I wake up at 5:30am every morning, and go through a meditative practice. I write from 6:00am to 7:00am. I call it writing sprints, which I do with other authors. From 7:00am til 8:00am, I hit the gym for either cardio or weights. Then, I’ll eat, take a shower, hang out with my wife for a little bit, and I'm off to work.

I'm walking into my office at 9:00am. It's very ritualized, right? I'll prepare my cup of coffee. What I do is I put these elements of anticipation in, so I'm always looking forward to the next moment because there's a little ritual there of the coffee or sitting down with my wife or working out.

I put these elements of anticipation in, so I'm always looking forward to the next moment.

I workout regularly. I don't like to workout. I just don't miss it. So, at the end, the ritual is a text to an accountability group saying, "Workout done," and a show of my Fitbit results so I can't fake it. I look forward to those moments, and therefore push harder through the activity. That's served me in my personal life, my health and stuff like that.

My wife is also a great guard of time. It's very easy for me to not stop working because I have such a passion for it. She'll say, "All right, you said you're done by 5:00pm. I expect you home at 5:15pm and I have a bottle of wine waiting for you." She also is a great accountability partner, and wine doesn't hurt.

It sounds like so much of this stuff that you've got is around just having an awareness of what helps you perform at your peak, and then being able to create the systems that help facilitate that, even if it's a task you don't particularly enjoy.

I think so. For me, it works very well. I think it's a little bit manic for some people that I'm so process-oriented, but it works for me. I will say this. I've cooled down a little bit as the years have gone on, and have been more present in more moments, and I appreciate that.

My daughter, for example, this is about two months ago, she said, "Hey, I want to go to cross country, my friend can't do it because of the COVID situation. Do you want to go on a 14-day trip with me cross country?" My schedule is booked up so my instinct is “No,” but my knowledge is like, "If your daughter wants to spend a second with you, you better say yes and figure it out." So, I said, "Yes, I'm in. I'm the third wheel guy, I'm in." I had to change everything accordingly. It was the best move of my life, I think, to be with my daughter like that. I am a work in progress, but I'm learning the importance of presence.

Yeah, you can't get that time back with your daughter. You realize that the most important thing is making sure that you're not just spending time with them, but having that presence and that quality time with them.

That's exactly right.

Final question, what's one thing you do to win the day?

It's so obvious. It's exercise and health. There's a big difference. As the day goes on, my energy is building, and people are like, "How do you have so much energy?" I'm like, "I really work at maintaining energy." My output at the end of the day often feels just as strong, if not stronger than it was throughout the rest of the day. I attribute that to religious exercise and rest and recovery, exercise and recovery.

Yeah, absolutely love it. Mike, thanks so much for being on the show!

James, thank you, brother.


Resources / Links Mentioned:

⚡ Mike Michalowicz website.

💰 Profit First by Mike Michalowicz.

📙 Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Dr Robert Cialdini

🧭 Rejection Proof by Jia Jiang

🎙️ We Are Members: create a thriving business from your podcast

🗝️ Apply for The Day Won Mastermind

“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”

Oscar Wilde

Today, we sit down with one of the world’s leading entrepreneurs and all-round legends, Mike Michalowicz. If you feel like you’re treading water in your career (or simply have lofty goals), or you’re thinking of going down the entrepreneurial route, this is the episode for you.

By his 35th birthday Mike had founded and sold two multi-million-dollar companies. Confident that he had the formula to success, he became a small business angel investor – but then proceeded to lose his entire fortune. Then he started all over again, driven to find better ways to grow healthy, strong companies.

Mike has devoted his life to the research and delivery of innovative, impactful strategies to help business owners succeed. He is the creator of Profit First, which is used by hundreds of thousands of companies across the globe to drive profit.

Mike is also a columnist for The Wall Street Journal, a business makeover specialist on MSNBC, and author of #1 bestselling books such as Profit First, The Pumpkin Plan, and new book Fix This Next.

In this interview, we go through:

You’re going to love this one. Let’s Win the Day, with Mike Michalowicz!

🎞️ For the video interview, click here.


Resources / Links Mentioned:

⚡ Mike Michalowicz website.

💰 Profit First by Mike Michalowicz.

📙 Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Dr Robert Cialdini

🧭 Rejection Proof by Jia Jiang

🎙️ We Are Members: create a thriving business from your podcast

🗝️ Apply for The Day Won Mastermind

“When things change inside you, things change around you.”

Buddha

Welcome to my third annual holiday gift guide! Each year, I outline the items that have made the biggest impact in my life throughout the year, and I know they’ll do the same for you.

Before we begin, this holiday season – rather than squandering money on gifts with little long-term value – consider giving something practical, like a life-changing book that gets the recipient excited about taking ownership of their 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 Napoleon Hill’s original classic made them feel better about themselves.

Anytime I find a book that really speaks to me, I am sure to grab a copy of the hardcover version too so I can use as a quick reference point whenever I need it. And the number one book I’ve read this year is actually an audiobook, as you’ll see.

Filling your mind with the knowledge you need is the best way to transcend your circumstances so you can achieve whatever you want in life, regardless of what’s happened in your past. Every book I have read has changed my life in one way or another, so that hunger for learning should hopefully be a priority for you too.

Without further ado, here are the books that I think would make the best gifts this holiday season, for you, a friend or a loved one. They’re mentioned by category, rather than in any ranking order, so just pick whichever ones intrigue you the most.

🎞️ For the video episode, click here.


Resources / Links Mentioned:

🤺 Millennial Samurai by George Chanos

🌞 Blue Sky Kingdom by Bruce Kirkby

🚧 The Road to Success by Brandon T. Adams and Samantha Rossin

🧨 Andrew Carnegie’s Mental Dynamite by Napoleon Hill and James Whittaker

💑 Leading Without Authority by Keith Ferrazzi

✏️ The 5 Minute Journal by Intelligent Change

🧭 Dare to Lead by Brené Brown

🎃 The Pumpkin Plan by Mike Michalowicz

💰 Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy by James Whittaker

“Money is a terrible master but an excellent servant.”

P.T. Barnum

Prior to moving to the US in 2012, I spent more than a decade in financial planning in my home country, Australia, and there are so many lessons from that time that I’ll never forget, such as:

But you know me well enough to know that I'd never introduce a problem without offering a solution 😉

Enter one of the world’s foremost financial literacy activists, Adam Carroll. Adam has spent 15+ years helping people do more with the money they make. He is an internationally recognized financial literacy expert, a three-time bestselling author, host of the Build a Bigger Life podcast, and a two-time TED Talk speaker with more than 10 million views online.

He is also the creator of the documentary Broke, Busted and Disgusted, which aired on CNBC and is shown in hundreds of high schools and colleges across the United States.

In this episode, we’re going to be talking about how you can achieve financial freedom and create intergenerational wealth for your family. We’ll also go through:

Adam is an extremely accomplished entrepreneur and there are some phenomenal takeaways in this one. Get the notepad ready!

James Whittaker:
Adam Carroll, great to see you my friend. Thanks for being on the Win the Day podcast.

Adam Carroll:
James, it's my pleasure. It's been a while and I'm super excited to be with you and your audience.

What was your life like growing up, and what was your relationship with money at a young age?

Well, I thought it was privileged to be quite honest. I grew up in this idyllic mid-western household where my dad had a very abundant mindset. If we needed it, we would get it. And I always thought that we were affluent or somewhat affluent.

And when I got older, my dad came clean with me. He laughed and said we were far from affluent. I think it was just the fact that I was loved at home. There was lots of opportunity, it seemed like, and I was really lucky because both of my parents had a very positive mindset, which meant there was always an air of opportunity around the house. I think that's what helped shape who I am today.

The positive energy, the love in the home, and of course, financial literacy, these are core tenets that you and I both are very passionate about and incorporates much of the light that we want to bring into the world, so I'm so excited to dive into all of that stuff today.

What career opportunities did you gravitate towards at a young age? Or did the entrepreneurial bug bite you early?

I was an entrepreneur from way, way back, and I'll tell you the very first story. My mom had made a chocolate cake one day and it was great and I said, "I want to make one. I think I could make one." And she said, "Well, the recipe is right on the side of this Hershey's cocoa can."

So I made a cake, and it so happened that the neighbor came over that day and was really wowing it up that I had made this cake, how delicious it was, and said that maybe she would like to buy one. Well, in that moment I had made the decision I was going to be a cake baker! I went around door to door and I sold three chocolate cakes that week.

I think I'd made a grand sum total of $17 in profit or something, but I was hooked immediately. And it followed me through my high school and my college years. I mean, I did little things like buying big bulk bags of candy and having that in my locker and then selling them for a quarter a piece at school. When I got to college, I bought these gigantic popcorn vending machines – they were like seven feet tall and they air-popped a 24-ounce cup of popcorn.

But I was hooked on the idea of entrepreneurship. And so my career choices post-college really went after sales and marketing because I made the connection that if I could come up with an idea and sell it, I could be a really successful entrepreneur. Lo and behold, here we are some 15 years later being self-employed and building businesses. And I would say it's all gone fairly well.

Once you’ve had the taste of entrepreneurship, it's hard to go back isn't it!?

Dude, I am functionally unemployable at this point! I'm convinced of it.

What about your commitment to your own personal growth at that point? Was there a book or two in particular that really stood out and helped you realize that perhaps you had more potential and power than you would have given yourself credit for previously?

I mentioned my parents were very positive minded and they talked about opportunity a lot. My dad was big into Deepak Chopra back in the day. And he would tell me growing up that I was a wizard, and I didn't really understand what he was telling me at the time. I had visions of Harry Potter-esque kind of wizards.

But what he was telling me, I believe, is that I could create whatever environment I wanted to create, I had the ability to manifest my own desires. And so when I read Think and Grow Rich the first time – which you are obviously well-versed in – I realized how important the messages of definiteness of purpose, and of focus and attention, were. I have a saying up on my door up here and it says “The definiteness of a purpose for acquiring wealth is necessary for its acquisition.”

The definiteness of a purpose for acquiring wealth is necessary for its acquisition.

And I kept reading that over and over and over again. Think and Grow Rich was one of the first books that got me on the path. And then I went down this unbelievable rabbit hole of finding all of the quantum physics and law of attraction books that were out there. I realized that we are all constantly, consciously or unconsciously, creating our own environment. And I owe it to Think and Grow Rich for getting me started.

What about when it came to the practical application of these things, was there a job in particular that you had that helped transform your mindset around life or business?

Interestingly enough, this is going to sound kind of odd, I think, James, but when I was in college, I got recruited to sell books door to door. It was a company called Southwestern Publishing that recruits about 4,000 college students a summer. And we go out and we knocked on 200 doors a day, 12 hours a day, six days a week. So it's a brutal, brutal summer.

My first summer incidentally, I was in Rancho Cucamonga, California. That was my home for 12 weeks. And I went and knocked on doors and I got told no 198 times a day. And they told us if you sell two sets of books a day you'll be successful. And what I realized in that business, not necessarily manifestation – although we were constantly trying to manifest what we wanted during the day – it was more about the fact that every no is just a next, and that every no just gets me closer and closer to what I truly want.

So after that summer, and then the summer the next year, I really felt like I could deal with rejection better than just about anybody because it was no big deal. You could say no to me and I was just going to go to the next door, it wasn't a big thing. And I think that alone has made me an effective entrepreneur because when I hear no, or I experience failure it's just like, "Whatever, next."

That resilience and finding the gift in every adversity and very quickly moving on when there's a door closed in front of you is a phenomenal attribute for anyone to have.

What about experiences with money? When did personal finance first appear on your radar?

Given that I was raised in a household where I thought we were affluent or mass affluent, we would receive a J. Crew catalog in the mail and I thought, "Oh, we're obliged to buy something," because it seemed like that's what we did. Then I got to college and the way that I like to describe it now when I go and spoken on college campuses is that I was a rich college kid and I quickly became a broke professional.

I was a rich college kid because I was trying to live the same lifestyle that I had grown accustomed to at home, but I was doing it on the pre-approved credit card offer that I got in my freshman year that ballooned to over $8,000 by the time I was a senior. Then I met my future wife, who was probably one of the most financially savvy women I'd ever met in my life. She said, "Adam, get rid of your debt or I'm going to get rid of you!"

She said, "Adam, get rid of your debt or I'm going to get rid of you!"

Now, we’ve built a really incredible life together using very core philosophies around the mistakes that I made and the lessons learned in the midst of those mistakes, and then going out and teaching other people how to do exactly the same.

So to answer your question, James, I think it was probably near the end of my college career where I started to take a really long, hard look in the mirror at what did I have in debt and what were the mistakes I made that got me there and realizing real quickly I didn't want to live that life. I wanted to live one that was free of encumbrances, debts, and obligations, and one that was a bigger life, one that had freedom and flexibility and options and choices. So it was from that point forward that I really started to dive in and pursue mastery of money.

What are some of the steps you've taken with your own children to insulate them from falling into that trap of credit card debt particularly?

I love this question because I think the experience that I had on college campuses in talking to teenagers helped prepare me to prepare my own children for the same kind of environment. The students that I spoke to that were 18 – 21, up to 25 years old, and many of them had never made a financial decision on their own before they arrived on the college campus.

They didn't fill out their FAFSA, they didn't buy their own clothing. Some of them didn't pay for their own gas or their own meals. Many of them had no concept of what a thousand dollars borrowed meant. What I realized was I wanted to bring my kids up in a world where they had made very tangible, real decisions around money. So my wife and I realized that it was first of all important that they have money in their hand.

And I wasn't just going to hand it out; I wanted my kids to have a work ethic and be industrious. So we pay them based on chores they do at home. It's not a commission, but it's money that you're going to make for doing this work around the home. They also make money babysitting. My daughter has a part-time job. My son has reffed soccer and basketball games. My other son has mowed lawns and shoveled snow, and done lots of other odd jobs.

I wanted my kids to have a work ethic and be industrious.

But what I'm most proud of James is the fact that all three of them have far more money in savings than the average American does right now. And they're also very, very savvy and wise about making purchases that are no longer small, insignificant purchases. They're buying things like phones and computers, and they're making really educated choices in doing it because we prep them on the $5, $10 and $50 items so that they are better prepared for the $1,000 and $5,000 items down the road.

I love it. It's not necessarily the dollar value, it's the habit that you get into at a young age, which is something I included in my first book The Beginner’s Guide to Wealth. So when you get older and have more money at your disposal, you're naturally embedded with those good financial habits. And something I talk about often is that Think and Grow Rich could just as easily have been titled Think and Grow Poor because the idea is the same. It's that your actions each day, extrapolated over time, manifest that reality.

You're a dad, I'm a dad. We know that if we really want to enact this financial literacy change generationally, it all starts in the home. What should parents be doing to teach their kids about money? And when should they start that in the home?

I get this question quite a bit from parent groups who say, “My kids are six or they're eight, or they're three, what age should I start?” Some will say, “My daughter is 18 and she knows nothing about money.” I had that conversation just the other day. Actually a dad said, "I'm sending my daughter off to school, I think we've done a great job, there's just one area that I think we fallen down."

And I said, "What is that?"

He said, "Well, she knows nothing about money. She's carried my credit card the entire time she's been in high school and when she needed gas, she charged it. When she wanted clothes, she charged it. When she went out to eat with her friends, she charged it."

And for those of you who have younger kids, let me be very clear, that is NOT the way to bring your kids up to understand money.

I think we should start doing this with kids as young as five or six years old. And the way that we did it with our kids, which I think worked was, first, we gave them an allowance. And the reason that we wanted to give them that based on the work or the chores they did at home was they need to have some tangible amount of money in their hands while it's still real and tangible.

That paper money is a big deal because as they get older, if they've never experienced the paper money and had the emotional tie to a $20, $50, or a $100 bill, they'll go onto Amazon and hit one-click ship on a $47 item and not think twice about it.

Then they get the credit card statement where it looks like there's too many things on there to even go through. So it's like, "Oh, I'll just pay it. I couldn't be bothered spending 10 minutes combing through all of my purchases."

That's exactly right. Or pay the minimum, right, where we don't even feel it. And so I think if we start young and we give kids money, we also then must give them the ability to make the decisions that they want to make. With our kids we said, "Listen, you're not going to spend $10 on candy necessarily."

But if they said they really wanted to buy a Nerf gun or a piece of athletic equipment, I’d let them know that it’s their money and they’re perfectly entitled to do that. And as the purchases got bigger, we would just have a little bit more dialogue about: How long do you think you'll use it? Will you get a good use out of it? Do you think you could resell it when you're done so there's not a sunk cost in it? So we were just teaching them some business lessons.

A study came out that said 65% of the American population could not come up with $500 cash in the event of an emergency. So another thing we did was make a rule that by the time our kids are five, they had to have $300 in savings in an emergency fund. By the time they were seven, they had to have $400. And by the time they were nine, they had to have $500.

And people will ask me, “What kind of an emergency will a nine-year-old have?” The answer is that they hopefully won’t have an emergency, and if they did I would take care of it, but if they have $500 at the age of nine, they're going to have it at 19 and 29 and 39 and 59. They're going to have it forever because it is a habit, just as you said.

Absolutely. Well, many parents conflate this idea of love with cash handouts. Is spoiling children financially about the worst thing that you can do for their development?

In my opinion, that whole idea of love and money and us conflating that idea of, “I love my kids; therefore I don't want them to struggle.” The challenge today is that there is this generation of students coming through college right now who have never really struggled. And because of it, they think that life is supposed to be easy and as soon as they confront struggle, they collapse.

They think that life is supposed to be easy and as soon as they confront struggle, they collapse.

My fear is that we're going to have a lack of entrepreneurial spirit for people in their 20s and 30s because they never experienced struggle when they were in their teens. And I think if you hand your kids money, it equates to removing all struggle from their life. I think kids need to mow lawns, they need to rake leaves and they need to wash windows, and they need to make their own money, first of all, if they want some of these big things.

As parents, we're taking away that ability if we give it to them straight away.

This is very much the growth mindset that Carol Dweck talks about, only applied to personal finance. It's absolutely brilliant.

How do parents balance that journey of their kids as they enter adulthood where independence is required, but they might've found themselves in a situation where all of a sudden one day your kids come home, they might be 18 years old and old enough to be responsible for their own decisions and be independent, but they've got $40,000 in credit card debt. How do you balance the need for independence with interjecting to potentially stop them from going a hell of a long way down the wrong road?

I think some of this goes back to my comment that young people don't really understand the context of 10 or 15 or 20 or 40 or a hundred thousand dollars in debt. And one of the ways I think as parents that we can do that is we need to have really candid, honest conversations with our kids about, “You like that card? Let's do a quick price online and see: A, what does that car cost to really run; B, what does it cost to maintain that car; C, what are the payments on that on a monthly basis; D, if you don't have a degree, how many hours would you have to work in order to pay for that car; and E, is that really what you want?”

In our house, we have some interesting conversations around, “I get that you want that car, but the car dealer doesn't necessarily want to sell you the car, they want to sell you the loan.”

And so understand that as a society, what we are doing is we are teaching our kids how to payment themselves into a corner. And when you’re paymented into a corner, it's really hard to build a bigger life because you're constantly working just to pay the minimums, as opposed to working and knowing that you own 60 or 80% of every dime you make.

Are there some things as a household that you do, or maybe you personally, to make sure you're being responsible day-to-day with your finances?

In our household we really value certain things, but going out to eat is not necessarily one of them. My wife's an amazing cook and we eat at home 99% of the time. I mean, for us to go out to eat, it might be once, maybe twice a month that we go out and have a nice dinner.

But when we do, James, we typically really take our time and enjoy it. I'm always surprised, maybe I'm not surprised, but I'm always taken aback, I think, when I go out to a restaurant and you see a family wolf through a meal, throw down a card, and walk out 25 minutes later. And the assumption I make is they do this all the time and it's not special.

And my guess is that they probably spend a decent chunk of their income going out to eat. While that may be important for them, and that's great, I also think they may be sacrificing their future financial freedom in doing that in the moment to just wolf down a meal. And was there anything special to it? Not really. So one of the things we do is we eat at home a lot.

Another is, we're just very, very careful about what we spend and when we spend that it's something that really aligns with our values. I am going through a couple of online courses around money because I always love to just absorb more and pursue mastery. And one of the course creators said, “Is this thing that I'm buying worth my freedom? And if I buy it, how much longer does it take me to achieve that freedom?”

So I am having that mindset a little bit. And I would say we're kind of closet minimalists. We're not quite there, but we're almost there.

What about someone who might be 40 years old with a bunch of debt and feel like it’s too hard to get out of debt or they don’t even know where to begin – what are some steps that people can take to start to move forward financially?

I think number one is looking for proof that it’s true or untrue. And I can show you a number of cases and clients of mine, friends of mine who are in their 40s, and I could riff off probably three or four examples right now. One guy had two homes, $600,000 in mortgages. There were three car payments in the family. There was credit card debt.

He had multiple savings accounts that he was saving for a whole bunch of random things. And I said, "Hey man, your income is totally inefficient. You've got all this money sitting in all these accounts waiting for you to spend. At the same time, you're spending copious amounts on interest payments for cars and homes and credit cards." And so we built a plan that had him completely out of debt in three and a half years – both homes, all three cars, all credit card debt.

I can share valid proof of people who've said, "I think it's possible. I'm going to build a system that makes it possible, and I'm going to go do it." And I think for those that are in their 40s and you're faced with a mountain of debt, and yet you really, really want financial freedom at some point, know beyond the shadow of a doubt, you are somewhere between three and seven years of having everything paid off. All you have to do is have a little bit of discipline and a little bit of definiteness of purpose, to go back to our conversation earlier.

It’s a great reminder that people who perhaps made a silly decision years ago can be proactive about getting on the front foot and taking care of some of those things so they’re not haunted by it forever.

How do we change the education system to start helping people become more responsible about finances?

I will say that that more and more schools today are offering financial education as part of the curriculum, but it's still not enough. In our state alone, they spent two days, two full days, arguing, negotiating, coming up with what the definition of ‘financial literacy’ was. And my mentality was if you spent two days doing that, it's the wrong people in the room defining what financial literacy is.

It’s like the quote, “If you want something done, give it to a busy person!”

Yes, indeed! And not to a committee, and definitely not to legislators. I think for us to change things, it goes back to what I've talked about in my TED Talk, which was that money is largely an illusion today, it's not real, it's zeros and ones, it's bits and bytes of the $4 trillion circulating the globe on a daily basis. Only 2% of that money is in cash point or currency.

Yet we are freely passing money to and from each other through Venmo and Zelle and all these other online apps. But if that's all kids know, the money never feels real. So they get a credit card and they're like, "Cool. I have $1,000 to spend," when they can barely afford the $28 minimum payment that comes along with it.

They need that real-world experience. And that brings us into your amazing TED Talk, which is brilliant! It’s at the London Business School and has more than 10 million views between the TED Talk site and on YouTube, so well done for such an amazing presentation.

Before we talk about the content of that awesome talk, how did you put yourself in a position to be able to get a TED Talk in the first place?

Well, I really appreciate the question, because this is a fun little walk down memory lane for me in terms of how things happen. And going back to even the conversation my dad and I had about me being a wizard, I kind of feel like it was manifested.

The way it manifested was I had been speaking professionally for some time, James. So I knew that I had chops and my career had progressed to a point where I had done local groups, I had done associations. I was on college campuses all across the country. I started getting some international nods. And a friend of mine said, "What's next for you?" And I told him I really feel like there's a TED Talk in what I'm doing.

So we brainstormed what that would look like, and what we came up with was at the very bottom of my signature line on my email, I had a solid line and in big, bold red letters, it said, “My dream is to someday grace the TED stage.” And then just below that, it said, “If you know someone who could help me make that possible, I would be forever in your debt, a simple introduction would suffice.”

And I put it at the bottom of my email signature line and I just left it. And over the course of maybe two or three months of sending out emails, I'm sure thousands of people saw the message and I ended up getting an email one day from a gentleman named Aaron who had been a student at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. And he said, "Adam, I'm on the curation team of this TEDx event and you were the first person I thought of."

So I went and I did my first TEDx event in the States, in Wisconsin. It was a great experience. I come home kind of riding this high of having accomplished my goal of a TED Talk. And not two weeks later, James, I got another email, this time from a woman named Sarah Durlacher – who's a dear friend of mine – and she said, "Adam, I'm on the curation team for a TEDx event at the London Business School, you're the first person I thought of." And so that's how it materialized. Again, it just kind of felt like I had manifested it.

Adding something to your email signature got you more than 10 million views online and has completely changed the trajectory of your career and the impact that you can have on the world. It's a great lessons of taking the first step to think about what you want, and then that second step of saying, how can I create those circumstances?

In your TED Talk, there's obviously some amazing lessons. Thus the 10+ million views! It's called What Playing Monopoly with Real Money Taught Me About My Kids—and Humanity and it's an incredible perspective. So don't give too much away because I want everyone to go and watch it afterwards. But where did the inspiration for that topic come from?

Well, we're a game playing family, and we love to play ball games, board games, dice games, card games, but my kids love to play monopoly, as many kids do. And one day I was noticing that the game was either really rushed or really slow depending on how my kids decided they wanted to play whether or not they were watching TV.

The money is kind of being shuffled along. And at this point, the money is like crumpled up, sweaty handed bits of paper, right? And I thought, "I wonder if the game would play differently if it were real money." And in the back of my mind at the time, James, I'd come off of a tour of college campuses where I'd met a number of students who were making these very dramatic decisions around money, and not small amounts.

I mean, they were borrowing $80,000 or $100,000. And I thought, "I think it's because the money isn't real that this is part of the issue." And so I did a quick sum of how much was on the counter at the time and was figuring out like, “I think it's $1,500 in starter capital that you need for every player. Well, there are five of us, that's $7,500. And I figured the bank needed $2,500.”

So I went to my credit union on a Friday and I said, "I need $9,990 in these denominations of bills in order to play this cash game of Monopoly." And so the idea I would love to say was like this flash of brilliance, it really was observing my children and observing teenagers and early 20 somethings with money and putting the two together and saying, "I think there's a disconnect and I want to figure out how to connect the dots."

You mentioned something earlier about a regular allowance for your children, which in Australia we call pocket money. Is it important for you that any time money is given to kids that there's some type of exchange and sacrifice for any money to be given?

I think it's important to do. And I'll tell you how I reconcile that. There are a number of people, Dave Ramsey being one of them and I'm sure Suze Orman kind of shares this mindset that kids should be paid commission for chores done. That it's effectively like you're selling me on this job and I'm going to pay you this commission.

The challenge is that you will, at some point, likely experience this, or you may have been a kid like this, that no matter how much money your parents had offered you to clean the toilet, you wouldn't have done it, right? And the thing with my kids is I didn't want them to be able to say, "I'm not going to do that. I don't care how much it is." Because the reality is that there is no job beneath you, particularly in making the house run.

So if it's cleaning the toilet, that's what it is. If it's sweep out the garage, that's part of the job. And so I wanted to tie the allowance to whatever the jobs were around the house. And the only way that they would get it is if they completed the job. In my mind, what it also tied together was you're not going to go get a job, a part-time job, and assume that they're going to pay you and not show up.

You have to show up to work. You have to do the gig in order to get the money. The same is true here. So we did that for quite a while. And candidly, speaking very honestly about it, we've since stopped the allowance program for the most part because our kids do such an effective job of saving and investing and making money that it doesn't really feel like they need the money from us.

What we've shifted that to is building what I would like to call a generational wealth plan, where we are building a program for our kids, much like the Rockefellers did, that by the time they get out of college, there will be an amount of money, a small bank for them to leverage to borrow from, to buy real estate, pay down debt, whatever it may be. So that's where that money has shifted to.

I love it. You're teaching them about the value of a dollar, about the value of hard work and responsibility and a whole bunch of other things aside from just the dollar amount.

My daughter is 18 months old, she loves the Baby Shark song (“Baby shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo”), which you're probably very familiar with as I'm sure everyone who's a parent is! And every day I take her for a walk around the neighborhood and she says "Doo-doo" repeatedly, which is how she firmly requests me to sing it over and over and over again.

The moment I finish singing, she says “Doo-doo” for me to sing it again, although occasionally she mixes it up with “Baa baa” for Baa Baa Black Sheep.

I love it.

She's extremely convincing! I find it almost impossible to say no. As she gets older, that's going to extend to materialistic things. I’m happy to sing Baby Shark to her for 45 minutes each day because it makes her so happy! But at what age do you start saying no to these things, and is there a way to say no responsibly that maintains the peace and happiness?

I wanted to ask this question because I feel like there are a lot of parents out there who they know that their kids are just the ultimate salespeople!

Particularly for those young kids, right? You go into a Target or to a toy store, "I want, I want, can I have this?" And the natural reaction for a young child especially is to cry if they don't get it. And I've talked to parents before in large groups where they'll say my kid just has this utter meltdown.

And logically, and I was taught this by a child psychologist, they said when a baby was hungry as a baby, it cried and it was fed. When the baby was cold, it cried and it was fed. When the baby was wet, it cried and it was changed. So very naturally they equate, if I want something, I just need to cry and then I'll get it. And as parents, we start to give in to that rationale, whether they're three or they're 13, at Target.

So what I tell parents is when you implement the allowance program, and let's say you implement it at five years old, and the deal is the kid is going to get $5 a week. Well, that may seem like a lot to some families, and it may be; you may need to ratchet that down a little bit.

But if it is $5 a week and we go into Target and they see a stuffed animal, or some gadget they want to buy, there is a lesson to be taught there where we say, “Well, let's look at how much it is. Okay, well, it's $18.99. Now, how much do you have?”

“I have $10.”

“Okay. So if you get $5 every week, and you need $10 more dollars, that's two more weeks and then we can come back and get that thing.”

What a lot of parents will do, James, erroneously is they'll say, "Listen, I'll get it and then you can pay me back." But what we're doing is we're teaching instant gratification. And this is probably hard for me to even say, but I've seen my sister do this with her teenage son, he wants a new computer. They bought it for him, but he's going to pay them back by mowing the lawn for the next two years! It doesn't work that way, not in our house. If they want it, they work for it.

It doesn't work that way, not in our house. If they want it, they work for it.

We don't do stuff on credit. It's not the First National Bank of Mom and Dad, because that one's too easy to default on. And once they default on that bank, they're going to default on the next several banks that they're a part of. So I think that the way you bring up a child to learn delayed gratification and understand the value of money is you put money in their hand and you let them make decisions of their own accord and also feel the repercussions of that.

If you, as a parent, don't think they should buy that $20 item but they have $20 and they want to spend it, that's their call. And it's a really hard lesson learned if they get home and it breaks or they get home and they're like, "Guys, don't like it. I want to take it back." You can't do that in some cases.

I love it. So even things like your emergency savings account and the weekly allowance or monthly allowance, whatever that might be, it's important that it's physical money rather than them seeing digital numbers on a computer screen.

100%. And on that note, when we hand it to them, our policy is:

And then we had what I call the family 401k program. So if you put money in investing, I would match it up to $25 a month. So my middle son who's a very savvy one, every month had $25 in his invest jar. And the rest would say, "Well, I'm putting some in savings. I'm going to spend the rest of this." But my middle son knew every month dad's going to give me $25 if I put $25 in here. So again, my goal was to reward that behavior.

What's your favorite thing to spend money on?

James, I am a technology nut. And I would be remiss not to say that I'm on Kickstarter or Indiegogo probably once a week, and I buy stuff. Within arm’s reach of me there's multiple things I bought on Indiegogo and Kickstarter. I love little tech gadgets, and I probably spend too much money on those things, but I geek out on it.


Check out the YouTube or podcast version where Adam does the Win the Day Rocket Round, answering questions about his favorite quote, what advice he’d give her 18-year-old self, his favorite book, and a whole lot more 🚀


Final question, what's one thing you do to win the day?

This is a hard question to answer. The one thing I do, and it's more like a conglomeration of things is the morning ritual. And the morning ritual for me really starts with a night's sleep that is similar almost every single night. So I learned once, James, that we sleep in circadian rhythms, every 90 minutes we go through a circadian rhythm.

And so that realistically what we should be sleeping is some number of circadian rhythms at night. So it could be six hours, it could be seven and a half hours, could be nine hours, could be 10 and a half hours if you really need sleep. For me, I know that seven and a half hours is my ideal night's sleep. So if I go to bed at 9:30pm or 10:00pm, I'm getting up at 5:00am or 5:30am every single morning.

I'm to the point now where if I know that if I go to bed at 10:00pm I'll wake up at 5:28am, 5:29am, and I bound out of bed. First thing I do is drink a glass of water and stretch and do a little bit of yoga or exercise. And that just starts the day for me the right way. Then it's followed by a little bit of journaling or morning pages if you follow The Writer's Way. And then looking at my schedule for the day.

Then I take a shower, get ready, have breakfast with the kids. But it's all very sequential. And my business partner and I have this theory that if you win the first hour of the day, you win the rest of the day. And so our first hour is orchestrated and scripted to an extent that just makes us feel good.

We’re also building out the ultimate downstairs. You know how every guy wants a lair!? This will be my lair, so I've got a studio that I'm building down there. I've got an exercise area. Adjacent to the gym area, there's a bathroom that I'm putting in a three-person sauna and a standup shower right next to it. So my morning routine, once this is done here in the next few weeks, will be go downstairs, exercise, sit in the sauna, meditate, take a cold shower, get ready, and then go into the studio and work. So I'm jacked about that. So it sounds weird to be excited for cold showers, but I'm super excited about it.

Resources / Links Mentioned:

👨‍👨‍👧‍👧 Adam Carroll’s TED Talk ‘What Playing Monopoly with Real Money Taught Me About My Kids — and Humanity

📝 Adam Carroll on Facebook

⚡ Adam Carroll on Twitter

💻 Adam Carroll website

🧭 The Shred Method: How to get out of debt

🔥 Build a Bigger Life Podcast

🚀 Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

🗝️ How to Become a Financial Winner

💰 A Happy Pocket Full of Money by David Cameron Gikandi

🎙️ We Are Members: Create a thriving business from your podcast

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