The #1 Habit to Boost Your Intelligence with Jeff Brown

August 3, 2021
James Whittaker

Check out this episode on the Win the Day Podcast

“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”

Charlie ‘Tremendous’ Jones

In this episode, we dive into the ONE superpower that has catapulted the most renowned people on the planet to massive success.

For 30+ years, Jeff Brown has earned his living behind a microphone; first as an award-winning broadcaster and, more recently, as an award-nominated podcaster, consultant, and speaker.

In 2013, after losing his job (a "shove" from the Universe!), he launched the top-rated Read to Lead Podcast, which has since featured interviews with today's best business and non-fiction authors, including Simon Sinek, Gary Vaynerchuk, Stephen Covey, Nancy Duarte, and 300+ more. [Note: Jeff kindly featured me on his show for Episode 217.]

Jeff has leveraged his experience as a former on-air personality to not only forge a successful path for his own podcast, but also coach and mentor numerous other award-winning and nominated podcasters as well. Additionally, he has worked with several multi-million-dollar businesses on the launch of their podcasts, including two of the largest churches in the US, and has even consulted the US government.

Jeff and his work have been featured in Inc., Entrepreneur, and Hubspot, as well as in the blogs of Seth Godin, Chris Brogan, and Social Media Explorer.

His new book Read to Lead is a practical blueprint to harnessing the power of books to exponentially boost your career trajectory.


Check out the YouTube or podcast version where Jeff Brown 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🚀


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

  • The #1 habit to boost your intelligence
  • How to connect with the world’s most influential people
  • The biggest mistakes amateur podcasters make
  • How to ‘speed read’ (i.e. read and absorb a full book in less than 60 minutes), and
  • The simple success blueprint Jeff created from interviews with 300+ of the world’s most accomplished people.

Before we get started, remember that the right bit of inspiration can completely change the trajectory of someone’s life, so if there’s a friend or loved one who needs to hear this episode, share it with them right now. 

Let’s WIN THE DAY with Jeff Brown!

James Whittaker:
Jeff, it is great to see you. Thanks so much for coming on the Win the Day show.

Jeff Brown:
Well, I am excited to be here, James. I am really thrilled that you thought well enough of me to invite me on, so thanks. 

Is there a vivid memory or story from your younger days that comes to mind to help illustrate what your childhood was like? 

One of the best Christmases I remember as a child included a stereo system, and I'm old enough for that stereo system to have included a record player, an eight track player and an analog radio, all built into one! I can remember sitting at that thing and having music coming from each one of the three sources, and I would announce the song like a radio host does — just playing DJ in my room as a kid.

Later on, I would grow up and spend 26 years in radio, and then now eight years as a podcast host interviewing authors, so that was an early sign that I was going to do something with that. 

Ah, so that was the origins of your podcasting and broadcasting career!

When I was young, the books that really stood out to me were Choose Your Own Adventure books, and then I graduated to some John Grisham books, which I still remember so vividly. What books did you naturally gravitate towards? 

I loved mysteries. My mom kept me in a heap supply of the Hardy Boys books when I was a kid. I remember reading books like Encyclopedia Brown, which I thought was cool because his last name was 'Brown'!

In middle school I read books like The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Then in my early 20s, I began to get introduced to nonfiction books and unfortunately at that time, I didn't quite take to the books from folks like Zig Ziglar and Og Mandino. I was toying with the idea of going into radio sales because that's where the real money was at in radio, I was told. 

But I didn't really take to those books from Zig and from Og. I think I just was immature, frankly. I just wasn't ready for them, and it wasn't until about 10 or so years after that in my early 30s where I got introduced to Jim Collins and Seth Godin and Pat Lencioni that I went, "Oh, wow. Here are some people that can mentor me who I've never met, but through their books can mentor me." That was an epiphany for me at that time and my reading habit started there and it's only grown.

With personal development books, it's very much a case of "When the student is ready, the master will appear." And there's so many mentors that we can get from the written word. 

Absolutely. I was talking to a professor at the Wharton School of Business a couple of weeks ago — his name is Richard Shell — and I asked him about his thoughts on intentional and consistent reading and just how that's played a role in his professional life. He said, "I view it as having coffee with the author, and so I ask myself, who do I want to have coffee with? Then I pick and choose my mentors and the books I'm going to read based on the answer to that question." 

So good. What was the moment in your life when you recognized for the first time that you had more power than you had ever given yourself credit for — when you realized that you could do absolutely anything that you set your mind to?

Later in life than I would have liked. But it was probably in my late 30s, about five or eight years into this reading journey. The books that I was reading, books on mindset and books on finding the work you love and your passion and those kinds of things, led me to begin believing that I could earn a living based on what was coming out of my own brain and not just necessarily working for someone else. 

He said, "I view it as having coffee with the author, and so I ask myself, who do I want to have coffee with? Then I pick and choose my mentors and the books I'm going to read based on the answer to that question." 

There's nothing wrong with working for someone else, and I did that for a number of years. But reading the books I was reading — and growing personally and professionally through those books — really helped open my eyes, James, to what the possibilities really were. When the opportunity was presented to me, and by opportunity presented to me, I mean losing my job, I thought, "Well, maybe this is the shove. This is the push I need to start doing my own thing." That was eight years ago last month, and I haven't looked back since. I've continued to figure out how to earn a living through what comes out of my head.

That must have been 2013, the year that you actually started the Read to Lead Podcast?

Yeah, that's exactly right. In fact, I had already begun planning the podcast, coincidentally. It would launch almost a month to the day after I got downsized from that last job. The first six or eight months earning an income, I had severance and things like that to bridge the gap. But in those first six or eight months, I was working a side hustle that I had done for a while part-time and started doing that full-time. 

It wasn't long before I began making more money on that side hustle. In fact, the first 30 days I made twice as much in that side hustle as I was making in the job I had just lost. And so I thought, "Well, I can do this. I can make this work. I don't want to do this side hustle long-term, but at least I know I can keep my head above water until I figure things out." And it took me about eight or so months to do that.

But once I got to that point, I began selling my own courses and programs and figuring out what income streams I wanted to include. And the cool thing about that, as you no doubt know, is now I've had anywhere at any one time, 10 or 12 different income streams, and some of them come and go, some of them are seasonal. But the cool thing is if one drops off the map, I've still got the other nine. 

And I control them to a degree. I can decide when I want to do certain ones or when I need to do certain ones. That's a far better position to be in, than being beholden to a single source of income from a single employer who could decide, tomorrow I'm no longer needed.

What I love about your story is that the Universe gave you a nudge, and that's what happens sometimes. But many people, maybe even most people, don't recognize it and they enter that 'woe is me' mindset, which means they don't have that resourcefulness and resilience to create the life that they want.

It sounds like what you were doing was very intentional and obviously yielded some great benefits. What was that process of you accepting the nudge from the Universe to harness that energy that you needed to build a life and business that you wanted? 

It started with just having a desire to do my own thing several years before all this took place, the story we just talked about. I wanted to dabble and play with my own business, and so I started a side business, building mobile apps and websites for small, mostly local businesses.

I just taught myself these things online and taking courses and that sort of thing, reading books, and again did that part-time. In early 2013, the person who had hired me at this company I was working for all those years ago left, and I'd been in a situation before where the person who hired me had left and that usually didn't end well. 

That's a far better position to be in, than being beholden to a single source of income from a single employer who could decide, tomorrow I'm no longer needed.

And so I began thinking, well, maybe now's the time to go out on my own, and I talked with my wife about it. And again, in March 2013 we talked about setting a deadline of December 31st. But in June, the hammer came down and suddenly my timetable got moved up by about six months. That's when I thought, "Well, that side hustle that I've been doing for three years, now it's time for that thing to play the role I need it to play." As I said before, it helped me out for those first six or eight months. But during that whole time, I was thinking about, "Well, what can I create? What can I build? What can I contribute?" 

And I had a desire to coach, to write, to train, to speak, and many other things. Those are all things that one at a time over the first five or six years of my self-employment journey, I would build. I don't recommend trying to do them all at once! But as I was able, I would dabble in another stream of income and see how that went. Some of those streams of income, I've done multiple times, but primarily now it's speaking, coaching, writing and consulting, for the most part.

You are a voracious reader and in your new book Read to Lead you mentioned being inspired by Good to Great from Jim Collins and Purple Cow from Seth Godin. Were they the two books that contributed most to the mindset you have today? 

They certainly were the catalyst for reigniting my love for reading, I can say that for sure. Especially Seth's Purple Cow, that was the first of those businessy books I began reading in my early 30s. It just opened my eyes to what was out there. Embarrassingly, I didn't read at all for the better part of my 20s and in my early 30s, and I just had never really jumped in fully to personal and professional development type books, non-fiction books. 

When these books were presented to me, as you said before, "when the student is ready, the master will appear", it was just all the stars and planets aligned and I was like, "Gosh, this stuff has been out there all this time and I've not been taking advantage of this!?" As I began diving into these books, I chose books based on where I wanted to be in my career (versus where I was), and skills I wanted to cultivate that I knew would help me in my career, like public speaking. 

And I realized, James, that just by doing those things, I was practicing something consistently that most of my colleagues did not. That one habit alone — reading on a regular basis — separated me from most of my peers and got me noticed. The things that I began to implement and try in my job, the things that failed, nobody remembered. But the things that did work, people noticed and that presented to me new opportunities, new experiences, and chances to do things other people weren't getting the chance to do. 

I attribute that upward trajectory in the last seven or eight years to the consistent and intentional reading I do. It's singularly responsible for a large part of my success. 

There's a statistic you share in your book: the number of adults who have not read any books in the past year has increased from 19% to 27%. I thought the lack of readers was bad, but I didn't think it was that bad! If that trend continues, how will that impact society?

I shudder to think, how that would impact society. I think we would have a lot of people who are just consuming entertainment. Again, that's what I did for the better part of my 20s and early 30s, because I was a consumer strictly of things that entertain, like movies and music, and there's nothing wrong with any of those things.

But I shudder to think how society would be impacted if we're not willing to take advantage of the knowledge that is out there. The thing that's special, James, about books as you know is it's all in one place. It's not like a blog post that takes 10 minutes to write or what have you. It's not like a YouTube video that might take a half hour to create.

That one habit alone — reading on a regular basis — separated me from most of my peers and got me noticed.

A book from an author takes years. In the case of a traditionally published book like mine, it's been vetted by dozens and dozens of people. And to have all that knowledge in one place and not to take advantage of it to me is just, it's just silly. It's just crazy not to want to do that. 

Plus, with a book, I can get value from it and then I can turn around and I can hand it to you, and you can get the same experience.

There's a statistic that I share at many of the speeches that I do: more than five times the amount of money that is spent on books is spent on lottery tickets by people in the U.S. It's crazy! People wasting their money on the 1-in-300-million chance of hitting the jackpot. But literally every single book I've read, every single one of them, has changed my life in some capacity.

How do we get people interested and excited in reading again, especially that the benefits are pretty clear about how powerful they are?

I like what John Maxwell said. He wasn't talking about books specifically, but he was talking about in reference to anything that requires a sacrifice. Typically, when it comes to the sacrifice that comes with self-discipline and personal growth, we don't want to experience the pain that's associated with that. We put those tasks off, like reading. But what follows when we do that is another kind of pain, and that's the pain of regret. 

I'd much rather experience the pain that comes with sacrifice and growth today so that tomorrow I don't have to experience the pain of regret. That's my advice to people — to realize that there's pain either way. You're not going to experience growth without some sacrifice. But boy, on the other side of that, weeks from now, months from now, years from now, not having that pain of regret is an incredible feeling. If that's not motivation to buckle down and do some reading, I don't know what it is.

What's the best way to consume and absorb books, if our goal is to continue to learn, increasingly become a person of value, and then apply what we have learned in our life and business?

A couple of things I would say there is change how you take notes. Most of us take notes as we go, as we read, as I once did. But what I've found over time is that it greatly slows down the process to the point where it could take several weeks to get through a 200-page book and you really get disheartened with the process. Instead, as I read, I make simple notes or marks as I go along — an asterisk for something important I would remember, or a cue for, say, a quote that resonated or a question mark for something maybe I don't understand or I'm not even sure I agree with. 

Then, only after I've finished a chapter, do I then synthesize what I've read by taking handwritten notes. I like to use a paper tablet called the Remarkable, and that's a new toy that I've acquired recently that I love. It's replaced all the paper in my life.

I'd much rather experience the pain that comes with sacrifice and growth today so that tomorrow I don't have to experience the pain of regret

Another thing you might consider is combining two mediums. I first did this a couple of years ago and loved it with Brendon Burchard's book, High Performance Habits. That was the first book I tried that with. What I mean is I had the physical copy of the book and I followed along as Brendan read to me the audio version of the book, and I sped it up to a 1.5x or 1.75x or 2x speed. Consuming those two mediums simultaneously really helped ingrain the books concepts into my brain. 

Finally, teach the material, whether that's to one person, a coworker, in a meeting with staff, as part of a formal book club, members of your local chamber of commerce, or any other local or online group. Preparing to teach the material forces you to really synthesize it down into easy to explain, easy to understand concepts and share it in your own words. Once you get to that point, and being able to share a book and concepts and things you've learned in that way, you'll have truly retained them and be ready to put them into action. 

How do people figure out what book is best for them to read?

I heard James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, once say, "Find a book on something that you want to learn more about. Read books about things you want to learn more about and you will never be bored." A lot of people talk about reading books and being bored by them. I have never found that to be the case as long as the thing I'm reading is something I truly want to learn about. 

In my career, I mentioned public speaking, I was terrified of public speaking back in the day, but I knew that in my career — both in where I was wanting to go with my career in radio, and then now as a self-employed person — being able to be an effective public speaker was going to be key. I have devoured books that helped me learn how to craft a talk, how to deliver a talk, how to create compelling slides, how to get booked and paid to speak, all different kinds of books exist on that single topic. 

Over the years, I have read books related to public speaking on all those different topics to get really a well-rounded view and experience as to how to do this, how to do it well and how to be successful with it. And so, deciding your career today — whether that's the topic of marketing, sales, public speaking, whatever that might be — know that there are a plethora of solid books from all different angles like the public speaking example I gave on that topic. Decide where you want to begin, where it makes sense to begin, and start with those books.

How do we get young people excited in reading at such a young age?

Well, my mother was a great example of this. My sister was a great example of this. I remember multiple trips to the library as a kid, with in her case, multiple kids in tow. In my the acknowledgments of Read to Lead, I tell that story about how much I appreciated that from my mom, because it really instilled in me a love for reading, that though school later educated it out of me, if I'm being honest, no offense to teachers, in school I was always having to read things I wasn't interested in and that's a big problem. 

That really for kids like me who loved reading to go through school and then have it educated, the desire educated out of me, that's sad. We need to find a way to afford kids the opportunity to be able to read things that excite them. Not just in school, obviously, but at home and get them away from screens and mobile devices.

I remember sending my nephew who was 13 years old at the time, a copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, and he devoured it in two days. That's because my sister did, and she's a teacher herself, such a great job of instilling that desire in them while they were young.

We need to find a way to afford kids the opportunity to be able to read things that excite them.

Maybe it's mystery, maybe it's not necessarily how two books or non-fiction for your kids. It can be Encyclopedia Brown or Lord of the Rings or whatever, but find what they're interested in, what they're fascinated in, and make sure you are affording them an opportunity to read those things.

Even go so far as to, I've done this, my sister does this as well, incentivizing a book report in exchange for allowance money or surprise trips. Something along those lines. 

I have a friend of mine who started a website called the BetterBookClub that encourages businesses to encourage their employees to read. And not necessarily everybody reading the same thing at the same time, as we typically think of book clubs to be, but just encouraging employees to read about the things they want to learn about in general and then being able to catalog that, to track that, and then reward them for having done so.

How can people increase their reading speed? And what does the science tell us about how effective speed reading is? 

Well, a lot of folks poo-poo speed reading. I have not perfected it yet, I have to admit, and my co-author, Jesse Wisnewski is the expert here. But one of the things that he teaches that I have gotten a lot of value from is the act or the art of skimming. I did that recently. I interviewed an author who I won't mention because I don't want her to know I only skimmed her book.

But I was able to interview her and leave the impression, not that I'm trying to pull the wool over anybody's eyes, but she had all the confidence in the world that I had spent plenty of time with her book. I did spend a couple of hours with it, but that was by skimming the headings and subtitles, reading the first sentence of a paragraph and the last sentence of a paragraph. That's where, in non-fiction books, you'll usually find the key concepts and main ideas. And going through each chapter one at a time, doing that and taking notes as I end each chapter.

Again, just skimming the chapters, reading the headings, the subheadings and the first and last sentence of each paragraph, of course the introduction and the conclusion if there is one, as part of that process as well. Now that can take 30 minutes or so, but in that amount of time, you can easily get the key insights and main ideas from a book. Plus, in my case, that fully prepared me to have an engaging conversation with the author of that book and at no time did I feel like I didn't have a grasp of the concepts that they wanted to get across. 

In fact, in a lot of ways, I felt just as prepared as I do when I read a book from cover to cover and sit down and interview somebody. If you're pressed for time and when it comes to non-fiction, that's one great way to get the key insights and main ideas. 

In Read to Lead, you mention 'intent' when it comes to approaching books. It's really powerful, and something I don't previously recall hearing specifically for reading. Can you expand on that for people who are unfamiliar with a reading plan or having approached reading with any type of intent before?

Yeah, it was Stephen Covey in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, who said, "Begin with the end in mind." That's habit number two. I do this with a lot of things. When I sit down to interview an author, and before I jump into their book, I decide: what do I want my audience to get out of the book? Well, that's the key insights and main ideas. Once I've answered that question, I know what I'm looking for in the book and I know when I find it, then what questions I can ask that lead to those answers, those responses. 

Even when I'm reading a book just for personal enjoyment, that's where I'll begin: what do I want to get out of this book? What's my goal with this book? To actually write those things down on paper or in my case, my Remarkable tablet that I'm in love with. Let's say you write these things down, make a list and then as you read, check those things off as you achieve each one of those objectives. 

Now, you may find, and this has happened to me in a lot of cases, in non-fiction you can do this of course, you might be jumping around from chapter to chapter rather than reading the book from start to finish based on those objectives. You can, quote unquote, finish a book sooner than you might've thought you could finish because you realize, "Well, I don't have to read or I don't need to read every single chapter to reach the goal I wanted to reach in the first place." That's another way, going back to what we were talking about earlier, to read books more quickly. You may not need to read the whole book, or you may read the first couple of chapters and realize, this is not doing it for me. Don't feel obligated to finish a book if it's not working for you.

And always have your next book in the queue. Especially in moments like that where you get a little bit into a book and you realize, "I'm done." Or, "I got through this faster than I thought it was going to." Or, "This isn't doing it for me." If you don't have that next book in the queue and you're not ready to just jump right in, you might spend several days or weeks or a month going, "I'll figure out what that next book is going to be eventually." Have that next book in the queue so if you get the one you're reading done sooner than you thought, you're not having to think about, okay, what do I read next? It's already in your mind and ready to jump into.

You've been able to connect with a ton of high level people, like Gary Vaynerchuk, Nancy Duarte, Simon Sinek, Stephen Covey, Seth Godin, etc. What's the formula for connecting with people who are so influential in their respective industries?

Wait till they have something they want to promote! That's one way.

It's true!

Being completely transparent, I asked Seth Godin to be on my show three times before he said yes. There's a lesson here. When someone tells you no, unless the answer is "No, and don't ever contact me again," assume that "No" is a "Not right now." I've taken that to heart. When Seth said no the first time, three or four months later I tried again, got a second no. Then 15 months after that, I asked the third time and got a yes. Now the fourth time I asked him to be on my show, he said no. The fifth time, he said yes. He's come on twice out of five asks. I don't think any less of Seth because sometimes he says no, but I also recognize that those nos aren't no forever. They're no right now.

When someone tells you no, unless the answer is "No, and don't ever contact me again," assume that "No" is a "Not right now."

Through those yeses, when I sit down with someone who's given me 30 or 40 minutes of their time, I make sure I'm super prepared. I put a lot of prep and practice coming into that conversation, so that they know I'm taking this seriously. I send them questions in advance oftentimes — and that's not so much for them to be better prepared, though that's part of it — it's to say, okay look, I've done my homework here. I've gone through this book and I've decided in advance what I'm going to ask you. 

That says a lot. I find that that speaks to people. I have a lot of authors tell me, it's nice to have sat down with somebody who's actually read the book. Even if that for me was skimming the highlights of the book through that technique I talked about earlier, I'll have them say that, well, it's really nice to sit down with someone who's actually read the book for a change. They're not used to that. With authors specifically, that can go a long, long way.

What about maintaining that relationship — what do you do to stay front of mind and continue to add value to those people on an ongoing basis?

I try to pay attention to little cues, and I'll use Seth as an example again. The most recent time I asked him to be on my show, the yes I got — and I'm not throwing him under the bus here or intending to — but the yes I got was a reluctant yes and he was doing a lot of interviews and his voice was beginning to become hoarse. Well, I took that cue and I researched it and I sent him some lozenges in the mail to help him out.

The first time I interviewed him, I had somebody tell me who had worked with him, he loves jazz. Now don't everybody take my secrets here! And so, after the interview was over, I bought him a Miles Davis CD compilation and just said, "Hey, I really appreciate that. Here's a token of my appreciation." He was over the moon and really appreciated it.

When it comes to mentors, when they give you advice, take the advice and then demonstrate to them that you've taken that advice.

And I think he remembers that. I'm just contemplating here, but when I say, "Hey, I know this is a big ask, but would you consider if you feel good about it, endorsing my book?" He says, "I'm super swamped, Jeff, but for you, I'll take a look, no promises." Then later that afternoon, Seth writes to me back and says, "Hey, great job. Here's what I think about it, and also," because he's Seth, "here's a couple of things you didn't address that I think you should address." I was able to go back and address those and then send him an email and say, "Hey Seth. Here's how Jesse and I have chosen to address that. We just wanted to let you know that we've taken your advice and put it to use."

When it comes to mentors, when they give you advice, take the advice and then demonstrate to them that you've taken that advice. They love to see that.

For everyone who's listening to this podcast or watching this on YouTube, relationships are the key to absolutely everything. What Jeff has just shared there is the foundation of being able to approach and maintain relationships with the most influential people on the planet.

And I know that works, Jeff, because that's exactly what I've been doing too. People are lazy about preparation, they're lazy about maintaining, and they're so busy focusing on a transaction and what they can get, rather than they can give.

It really doesn't take much to be able to provide that amazing experience. If the goal is transformation, we should be thinking about transformation for all stakeholders. You and I are having a conversation right now, and we're thinking about what's the transformation that we want to create for the listener / reader? Also, you're consciously thinking about what value you want to provide to me as the host, and I'm thinking about what transformation I can provide to Jeff as a guest, especially as far as being prepared and asking respectful, meaningful questions.

I agree with everything you just said. One thing I do want to point out, I think I made this obvious but I want to make sure it's not lost on anybody. I've had people approach me and this happened as recently, James, as this morning. Someone emailing me who is pitching the show and they're showing me in the email, "Here's the wonderful review I just left for you, now have me on the show." I hate that. I despise that. 

In my interactions with Seth, when I decided to do something nice, that was after the yes had already been given. It wasn't in an attempt to get a yes. I didn't try to bribe anybody or any of the relationships they have. Once someone gives me a yes and gives their time, I want to go out of my way to thank them and I try to find nice, unique ways to do that. But when you use it in other way, to me it's really smarmy and icky.

You've interviewed hundreds of people now on peak performance, leadership, and confidence. When it comes to success, out of all of these people that you've interviewed, what do the top 1% do differently? Are there any common traits that you've been able to identify? 

Yeah. It's funny, with authors in particular, it's more than the top 1%. It's not all of them, but authors tend to be successful people, they've been blessed with the chance to write a book because they've oftentimes been successful elsewhere.

James, I've found there are five things and I've put them into an acronym called DREAM. Number one is, successful people understand what it means to dance with discomfort. They lean into discomfort. They ride the wave of discomfort. I said earlier, I used to be terrified of public speaking. That was uncomfortable for me but I knew I needed to develop that skill so I leaned into it. I put myself out there. The cool thing about that is when you lean into discomfort and you do things that scare you, the more you do them, the less uncomfortable and scary they become. I think it was Eleanor Roosevelt who said, "Do one thing every day that scares you."

The second thing, and we've talked about this for a while now, and that's to re-engage with reading. No more needs to be said there. Successful people read.

Number three is examine your energy. I color code my calendar based on what gives me energy, what takes away energy and what neither gives or takes energy and when I do that, I suddenly see, and if you do this, you'll suddenly see, "Well gosh, if I've got a lot of red things back to back to back, I color things that take energy red. I color things that give me energy green." Then you recognize you need to change something. Maybe you need to delegate something. Maybe you need to bring some red or orange, those things that you're indifferent about to the red.

Number four is assemble your advisers. I know you appreciate this! All successful people have a board, a personal board of advisors. For me that's a mastermind group. I know that special to you. People I get together with every single Tuesday at 8:30 every morning on Zoom and we talk about what's going on in our businesses, how we can encourage each other and how we can challenge one another. That group has pushed me to do so many things I would not have otherwise done. 

Finally, the 'M' is master your mornings. For me, mornings used to be, I'd get up about an hour before. I had to walk out the door and have time to shower and get dressed and get something in my stomach and leave. But now my mornings, a good three hours, some mornings are three and a half hours, are spent in self care where I've got anywhere from 12 or 13 different things, depending on how much time I have. Whether that's three hours or two hours or what have you, to work on Jeff, so that when I'm ready to get the day rolling and be productive, I've filled my own tank.

Dance with discomfort, re-engage with reading, examine your energy, assemble your advisers and master your mornings. I find that the most successful people I know and that I've interviewed do those five things.

I think that is perfect summary for personal growth.

You spent more than three decades behind the mic as an award-winning broadcaster and podcaster. You've helped launch a ton of other award winning podcaster in the U.S. and around the world. What are the biggest mistakes you see amateur podcasters make that prevents them from getting to that next level?

Gosh, where do I start!? We could record a whole separate episode on that one alone. There are a number of directions I could take that, but when it comes to interview-based podcasts specifically, I find that many young podcasters or new podcasters build their marketing plan on thinking that the people that they interview are going to generously share the interview once it's over. That's not a marketing strategy. 

You've got to have some other strategies at the ready. Now, will some do it and some do it generously? Absolutely. You know what happens when you come prepared, when you do a good job, when you make your guest look good by helping them be prepared? Oftentimes what you'll find is they'll share that transaction because they felt good about it. They walk away having felt good about their own performance and they'll share about it without you even having to ask them to share it for you. But don't come with that expectation.

If a guest says, "Hey, I'm going to share this. Let me know once it's live, how I can do that." Thank them. Don't assume that that's something they're going to do. When they say that, take the posture of, "Wow, I never assumed that. Thank you so much for offering to do that. Yes, I'll make sure you have everything you need once the time comes so that you can do that."


Check out the YouTube or podcast version where Jeff Brown 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've had hundreds of podcast episodes that you've produced just as a host. How do you get content out on such a regular basis? Is there anything that you do to streamline it from a process perspective ?

Yes, it starts with how I approach my calendar and I build something — I learned this from my mentor, Michael Hyatt — something called an ideal week. Much like we would with a budget, where we spend our money on paper before we spend it for real, so that as Dave Ramsey says, "We tell it where to go instead of wondering where it went," I approach my time the same way. I don't mean just with appointments and meetings, but when a week begins, I've mapped out an ideal week, as in if this week were to just go swimmingly, what would that look like?

Now, do I realize the ideal most weeks? No. But unless you're willing to take time to identify the ideal, you're never going to even get close. That means identifying the big rocks and blocking out my time. For example, I have a date day in the middle of my day, 11:00AM to 3:00PM every Wednesday, where my wife and I take some time together, because we like date days better than going out on a Friday night and it's all busy! 

I've identified what day is best for me to work on my podcast and what day is best for me to do an interview. I have specific days where I do just those things. I do interviews almost exclusively on Fridays, and I try to work 4-8 weeks ahead, so at any given time, I know what my next 6-8 interviews are going to be. They're already on the schedule.

Don't put off the thing you really want to do until someone you want to experience it with is no longer around.

Those types of exercises, understanding how you want your week to go ideally, and then on paper, putting that down. That includes going back to the topic of reading. I schedule my reading time. That's how I read a book a week. That's how I read 52 books a year, is I set aside time to read and to protect that, just like I would any other appointment with anybody else and if somebody says, "Hey Jeff, do you have time on Thursday to do this?" I look at like, I've got an appointment with myself to read. I can say, "No, I've got an appointment at that time, but will this time work better?" I treat the appointments with myself just like I treat my appointments with anybody else. That time is protected. It's on my calendar. Clients who are looking to book time with me won't even see that time as available because I've got it set aside to read or whatever the thing is. 

That thinking, that way of approaching the week to me has been huge on my productivity, and now being, I can't say this for all eight years, but for the last almost four years of my podcast, I've never missed a Tuesday publishing an episode. That's mainly because I started instituting that idea of an ideal week and mapping out my week on paper first before actually getting to the end of the week and wondering where it all went.

On your best day, what's something that you would write on a flashcard to show yourself on your worst day?

"You are a writer." For so long, I've wanted to write a book. I just didn't think that I had it in me. It's never too late to do something like that. I'm in my mid 50s. But I was just sharing online the other day and to my email subscribers, I had a chance to share an advanced review copy of my book with my family. Visited my mom and other family last week. 

But there was one person who wasn't there and that was my dad. He passed away three and a half years ago, and I've been wanting to write a book for a long time and, as excited as I was for my mom to see it and see the pride in her face, I missed the opportunity to experience those things with my father.

If you're in a situation where your family's still around, the people you care about are still there, don't put off the thing you really want to do until someone you want to experience it with is no longer around. Take advantage of it right now so that when you realize that dream, everybody you want to be there to experience it with you is actually there.

I think that's really powerful and puts things into perspective for a lot of people, so thank you for sharing that.

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

It's that morning time. It's making sure that I fill my own tank. I don't think you can win the day every day unless you take time for that. It's like the flight attendant says, put your own mask on before you worry about somebody else's. That's what the morning time is all about. I think if you fill your own tank first and make sure you're doing the things you need to do to do that, then the rest of your day will go much more productive.


I hope you enjoyed that interview with Jeff Brown! If you can develop that habit of reading, you will be astounded at how quickly your entire life changes.

If a friend or loved one needs some help to win the day, share this episode with them right now. Win the Day with James Whittaker is available on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever you listen to podcasts.

And if you want to submit questions of your own to the guests who come on the show, join the Win the Day Facebook group.

That’s all for this episode! Remember, to get out there and win the day.

Until next time...

Onwards and upwards always,
James Whittaker


Resources / links mentioned:

📚 ‘Read to Lead’ by Jeff Brown and Jesse Wisnewski.

⚡ Jeff Brown website.

✔️ Jeff Brown on LinkedIn.

📝 Jeff Brown on Facebook.

📷 Jeff Brown on Instagram.

🐄 ‘Purple Cow’ by Seth Godin.

📝 Remarkable paper tablet.

🚀 Win the Day group on Facebook.

🎙️ Have a podcast of your own and want to learn how to monetize it? Learn more about We Are Members, the world's #1 community for podcasters who want to generate attention, engagement, and sales for their podcast.

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