Lewis Howes: Hacking Trauma, Fear, & Greatness
By: Dave Asprey
September 16, 2014
Lewis Howes is an entrepreneur, investor, and athlete. Lewis runs a multi-million dollar online media company, and is the creator of the acclaimed podcast, The School of Greatness, a show that aims to help people find their own path to success. He is a former professional football player, two-sport collegiate All-American, a World Record holding athlete, and currently on the USA Men’s National Team For the Olympic Sport, Team Handball. Howes was recently recognized by Details Magazine as one of the “5 Internet Gurus Who Can Make You Rich”, and awarded as one of the top 100 entrepreneurs in the country under 30 by Empact100 and the White House!
Why you should listen –
Lewis comes on Bulletproof Radio to discuss overcoming adversity, trauma, and fears, how to hack flow states, and the keys to success and achieving greatness in all aspects of your life. Enjoy the show!
What You’ll Hear
- 0:10 – Cool Fact of the Day!
- 0:56 – Welcome Lewis Howes
- 1:47 – What it takes to get rich on the internet
- 3:37 – The best way to connect with strangers
- 5:59 – Lewis’ journey from adversity to greatness
- 9:00 – Cheating… or gaming the system?
- 15:10 – Overcoming emotional trauma
- 19:15 – Investing in yourself
- 22:35 – Definition of being an entrepreneur
- 27:40 – Important things commonly ignored by entrepreneurs
- 31:10 – Hacking flow states
- 38:16 – Overcoming fears
- 41:50 – Optimizing your work space for creativity
- 43:55 – Social networking and media
- 48:15 – Lewis’ biggest key to success
- 50:50 – Top three recommendations for kicking more ass and being Bulletproof!
Dave: Hey everyone, it’s Dave Asprey of Bulletproof Radio. Today’s cool fact of the day is that nobody likes riding at an empty coffee pot especially computer sciences. In 1991, on my second year of university at UC Santa Barbara and the world’s first webcam was created, but it was at the old computer laboratory at Cambridge and it worked out one frame per second and it provided 129 pixel grayscale image of the coffee pot at Cambridge, so scientists could keep an eye on the pot of coffee from the desks. Literally, all of the porn that was enabled by webcams was filled by coffee. That’s cool.
Today’s guest is an amazing guy. He is an entrepreneur, an investor, and athlete who runs a multimillion dollar online media company. He speaks all over the world and advices billion dollar brands. Former football player, a world record athlete and current USA men’s national team athlete for Olympics for team handball. I’m talking about none other than Lewis Howes, founder of school of greatness which is a show that helps people find to earn pass to greatness.
Lewis, welcome to the show man. I’m honored to have you on.
Lewis: Thanks Dave. Yeah, it has been fun to connect on my show and now I’m excited to be here.
Dave: I was really blown away by my interview on your show. If you’re listening to this now and you want to hear even more of the kind of event that you brought here, you can’t lose it’s a good show.
Lewis: Thank you.
Dave: Lewis, detailed magazine said that you are one of 5 internet groups can make you rich, is that actually so?
Lewis: It depends if you’ve got a clear direction and purpose of what you want to achieve and you’ve created the expertise and the knowledge and the insights on how to achieve it.
I really like to support people with monetizing their passion. For me, I feel like that’s what’s going to heal the world from cancer, from bad relationships, from being unhealthy, things like that. It’s not by actually solving the issue. It’s actually doing what makes us the most fulfilled and when people make money, make a living around what their passion is about, what they love to do the most, I feel like that’s going to give them energy. That’s not actually going to make them want to move more. That’s not actually going to make them have more compassion in their relationships and not get angry or defensive, because they are doing what they love and they’re making money around that love.
Dave: I love that answer. Is that what President Obama called you 1 of the top 100 entrepreneurs in the country? Like how do you land to that?
Lewis: That was yeah, that was just an award for entrepreneurs in mid 30 that the White House held and it was nice to hear from Obama saying that I was one of the top 100 entrepreneurs on 30, changing the world I guess. It was cool and it was a great honor, but who knows if I was deserving. There are lots of intelligent guys out there. I think I just made the list somehow.
Dave: Still, it’s pretty cool list to be on.
Lewis: Yeah so I liked it.
Dave: I found all the cool facts, I’ve heard about you. I always do that before someone comes on the show, but tell me a cool fact about you that people don’t know.
Lewis: I’m really passionate about salsa dancing. It’s one of the things that gives me the most energy and allows me to express my creativity more than any other art forms. I’ve been doing it for about 8 years and I travel all over the world to find the best salsa clubs to dance with random strangers and connect and in such just a few moments, and 3 to 4 minutes on a song, connect with someone that I’ve never met before on this language of salsa and I may not be able to speak the same language as with them, but we can connect emotionally and we understand how to dance in unison and we understand how to give and take, that it’s just such a powerful experience to create that with the complete stranger somewhere in the world.
Dave: Do you know Tim Ferriss? You must have gone salsa dancing with Tim?
Lewis: He is a tango guy.
Dave: Oh he is tango, all right.
Lewis: I honestly don’t think. We’re friends, so hopefully, he doesn’t think I’m putting him down here, but I honestly don’t know if he could keep up on the salsa dance floor just because it’s a completely different language. It’s a different art form. It took me 3-1/2 months of watching YouTube videos every night, like practicing in front of my mirror for hours, listening to salsa music constantly doing groups lessons, private lessons, going out 4 times a week. All I do was immerse myself in understanding salsa dancing. It took me about 3-1/2 to 4 months until I could finally learn how to dance without looking like a big tall white dude.
Dave: I don’t know, I tend to think Tim maybe speaks multiple languages. At the Joe Polish event and I had a chance to have lunch with Tim and Arianna Huffington and he is doing an estimate asking her how to say stuff in Greek, like he just absorbs things. I have to imagine it from a dancing perspective like you were just, you feel like a dancing polyglot and just like something you just download it to his head and it would work.
Lewis: I’m sure he’d be great. It just takes a few months and it’s a different language than tango. I couldn’t do the tango the way he probably does because I’ve never done it before, just a different art form.
Dave: Different art form. I respect that very well and being a guy who … I study computer science which means it’s actually illegal for me to know how to dance. That’s an area of improvement for me. I will put it that way.
A lot of what I’ve done in Bulletproof is about kind of be in my adversity, in a way how to polish your brain, it starts to turn off and like okay, I’m highly motivated to actually continue being able to feed myself and you make a living and all.
What did adversity do for you? Like tell me a story about how you’ve got to be more on the path of greatness because of something bad that happened to you.
Lewis: Sure, I mean, well, I feel like I’m very blessed and very grateful for my life. I had amazing experiences. Again, I feel extremely grateful for my family that I have, for the opportunities I have as a child.
I would say for me, I went through a lot of adversity more than a lot of kid s, but also not even compared to some people in the world. So, I’m very grateful and blessed for what I’ve been given and what I’ve had. However, there was some definitely emotional traumas, I would say growing up that created adversity for me. When I was… I just opened up about this a few months ago on my podcast. When I was 5 and for 25 years, and when I was 5, I was raped by another man that I didn’t know and it definitely engrained the sense of defensiveness, resistance, not trusting with people and needing to be right and needing to be the best at everything to prove my worth, my entire life, without me really knowing it. It was just like I needed to win, I needed to be the best, so I was very driven.
That’s kind of what led me to achieving a lot of goals that I set for myself. I was very driven to achieve these goals, but only left myself feeling unfulfilled. I already achieved them and then I was like, now what? I’m still not good enough, where I want to be. So, that was a big adversity early on, but I learned to overcome it and then, when I was kind of transitioning from sports, I got injured playing football. I broke my wrist, playing arena football, was diving into a wall to try to catch a ball and snapped my wrist when I was diving to the wall.
They took a bone from my hip and put it in my wrist and I was in a cast for 6 months, a full arm cast from my shoulder to my fingers, just kind of like this, like the other guy from rookie of the year who is in his big cast, that movie, and I couldn’t use my arm. I couldn’t turn it. I couldn’t use it. I couldn’t work out for 6 months and then, I was really tired and felt I couldn’t come back to football. It took me too long when I was out of it to come back in football.
My entire dream, my whole life was to be a pro football player, a pro athlete. I didn’t have a backup plan. I haven’t graduated college yet. I really didn’t study in high school or college. I barely got by just by cheating a lot on tests because I couldn’t comprehend. It was hard to remember and retain information throughout all school, like I just, I reread a page from the book and forget everything. I read it over and over and over and I just could not retain the information.
All through high school and college, I would say 95% of tests and homework, I cheated in some. I became extremely … I’m not proud of this. All my teachers listening, I apologize, but I became really efficient at getting around the system. I would always know I have great vision. This is why I’ve been a good athlete because I’ve been able to see the court and see the field at all times and anytime I’m taking a test, lot of them were standardized tests, that was A, B, C, D type of test and I kind of be on the written form or whatever. I could always see about 3 or 4 students around me, what their answers were and I always knew where to sit.
Lewis: I’ve actually never shared this before. I mean, it was my survival technique. I literally could not go like get through school without it and I always had someone tutoring me, but it was like doing the homework for me because I couldn’t do it, just like I didn’t know the information. I didn’t believe in myself to retain the information even when I really tried.
I went off to a private boarding school in 8th grade and was given… I had to take a lot of tests and was given 2nd grade reading level at 8th grade, so I couldn’t really read at all. I had tutors. I was in special needs classes all through high school and basically got by from cheating.
A lot of my adversity, what it gave me is the ability to connect on different levels. It allowed me to… I needed to learn a different way to survive in a world so I started connecting with people, understanding what people needed, what they wanted, having compassion for people, having in any way possible shape or form. Whether be entertainment, whether it be setting them up with another person who could support them, making introductions in the business world. It was like how can I add value so much so that I don’t need to be smart, book smart, in order for you to know that I could be useful and helpful.
Dave: That’s a huge admission and… I attended University of California for 5 years and I’ve junior achievement and also, I’ve some academic experience. Let me just say something that’s going to piss off every teacher who is listening to us right now and I must say congratulations.
Lewis: Wow, thank you.
Dave: The reason for that is that there was a set of rules that you are supposed to follow and it’s that outcome that was demanded of you and you found a way and there are people who have a point to say, “Well, yeah but you might have pushed someone else down in the curve”. It’s true, but when you’re a kid and you’re in impossible situation like that, you could’ve failed but you didn’t and you’ve found a way. And so, it’s a conundrum. It’s more of conundrum.
Lewis: Yeah. I always felt guilty. I always felt like, “Man, this is bad, this is wrong”, but even doing that, even cheating. In private school … I went to private boarding school in high school. They would give us a ranking on the grade card which I thought was the dumbest thing ever, so they told me the number of where I ranked in the class and I was always in the bottom 4, even cheating, even like with tutors, everything and I was just like it doesn’t matter what I do. I’m not going to be successful in school. Like I tried everything. It was a challenge.
Dave: It’s weird. I know back in high school, there were some classes where I really struggled. I actually did not go into a very high school, but the second part which in my GPA all the way up because I didn’t have much competition.
There was always that kind of a pressure and when I was in college, I planned it because I actually have real competition like I just don’t fail. I was just like horrified by it and Michael Moore, I believe the same Michael Moore who’s now a film maker but I’m not positive, advertised the book in the back of the school newspaper that was like how did she in college. I was like, I have to buy this book because it’s such black market note.
This was like before the web was invented, just a year or two before. Certainly, I have to buy this book and it looks like a little spiral book and it was horrifying because you will not need to do the survey of rockers of the number of students who cheated and it was like way more than half of them who admitted it.
I was like wait a minute, like these people are cheating everywhere but I didn’t use the cheat technique in college, but what I did do that honestly helped me get through college and other things was that just looking at gaming the ABC cards, like before we had random stuff like we do now, teachers would always preferentially choose the ones in the middle.
If you didn’t know, you could just guess the right one and you could probably pass the test with no knowledge. I didn’t know sorts of stuff like that. Where there’s a will there’s … You can game the system, but that might said it says like well, failure is not an option. I mean do whatever it takes and not fail. I respect that you admitted it and I respect that you made it through and look where you are today. It’s a conundrum. I don’t condone cheating. I also don’t condone ranked testing like that which forces kids into incredibly tough situations and it’s unnecessary.
Lewis: Yeah and I feel like my talents excelled in other areas of creativity and development as an individual which I feel like they don’t teach you in school and they don’t have classes for and they don’t rank you for. In a sports arena, I was… When I got into high school and college, I was like among the top but that was not part of school. I was really just trying to get by so like play sports and hang out with my friends afterwards.
Dave: It’s amazing and you said something else, it just takes huge balls and that is to talk about the feeling of defensiveness that came from you being traumatized as a kid.
I was born with a cord wrapped around my neck and until I was 30, I had no clue that had anything to do with the way I saw the world, but I was also like really just defensive. A lot of the same ways that you’re talking about there, just the need to always have the last word, and honestly, I was kind of a dick and I didn’t even know it.
It was like there was something out there that is like kind of motivated you, but it’s not the good way. It’s a fear or something like that and those come from stuff that happens to you before you’re 7 and it’s totally under your radar until it’s not and for me, all of the most beneficial things that happened in my life happened after I worked on dealing with my own automated responses to something that I didn’t have any control over when I was very young. To those who are figuring that out and being willing and able to talk about it, that’s huge.
Lewis: Thank you. I appreciate it. It took me until I was 30 years old to finally get out of my own way and start looking at those things and start acknowledging them and figuring out ways to work through it and make a better life for myself. It took a lot of energy and work, but I’m just grateful I did it at 30 then 50.
Dave: Yeah. It’s an amazing gift. When I worked with 13 clients, which is relatively infrequently now because things are getting really busy. Some presented to them. It’s like it’s painfully obvious that they have got some buried automated stuff going on and fortunately now like all these techniques, until I hacked into that with [EMDR, and this neuro 00:16:42] feedback and things where you go back and just repattern it and you realized that some of it would’ve caused you to be like, “All right, I’m allowed to kill you now”.
It doesn’t have that anymore and you’re able to just like something is different neurologically. Just being able to talk about that has probably helped thousands of people who somehow know that something isn’t quite right and just we can’t figure that out before they’re going to get to the next level. Was that part of… It sounds some kind of cool stuff like you slept in your sister’s couch for awhile and then in a couple of years, you’re running a 7-figure business. Did you have to deal with that stuff in order to see like that or it was unrelated?
Lewis: No. I didn’t start dealing with that until about a year ago. I’m 31 now, but that time, I was kind of like doubting out. I couldn’t play my sport anymore. I was like this is all I’ve ever wanted to do as a kid. I have no backup plan. I don’t know what I’m doing next. My dad had just gotten in a really bad car accident and was in a coma for 3 months and had brain damage that he hasn’t ever fully recovered from. He is still alive but he is not really the same person that he was, that I know was my father.
There was like this process of teaching my dad how to walk and talk and basically go through all the motor skills again which was just kind of like this experience that was heavy, and a transitional time for me as well, going through an injury and losing my dream.
I was just like I didn’t have my dad to really kind of back me up. He was starting to get a pretty successful insurance business and wanted to bring me in as part of the team and I was kind of like “Maybe, I have my dad, [went at the back, for my hand 00:18:23] where he is going to support me with this business that he has got, but I really I want that.
It was kind of like what I do now. I don’t have my dad to support me if I need some money. He is not going to be there for me. He doesn’t have money anymore. My family was amazing. My sister was like you can call and sleep on my cough for as long as you need, but after about a year and a half, she is like okay, it’s time to start doing something.
I was like, all right I love you, you’re my brother, but when are you going to start being paid for the bills here. The whole time I was really doing a lot of experiments and investing in myself. I reached out to a number of mentors early on who were just successful people that I have known and or met and who said, “I’ll do whatever you need to do”. I want to add value too, but I want to also learn how you got to where you are in your life and what the success you’ve had in your business”.
I met 3 individuals early on in my early 20s after this, who really believed in me and then I just showed so much energy and hassle and gave as much like to myself to them and their mission and through that, I was learning on the job.
One was a famous inventory who was really great at design creating products, turning an idea into a physical product manufacturing it, packaging it, branding it, shipping it, licensing it and taught me everything about the design and invention business. He has like 40 products on the market right now, really successful.
Another guy was a local networking expert who had a networking business, bringing companies together and he was a great public speaker. I joined toast masters because I was like I want to get over this fear of speaking in public because I was terrified. The only way to do that is to actually practice it over and over and watch myself and give feedback and like feel the fear and do it anyways. Dr. Jess Spencer tells me that feel the fear and do it anyways.
The third one was another mentor of mine who had qualified the Olympics in the marathon back in college and was really a successful businessman, a great inventor, an investor and works for some amazing brands and they all kind of guided me.
It was like “I’m going to give you guys all my energy and I want to learn everything you’ve done along the way” and it was that 2-year process where they would just like told me what to do and I just did it. I didn’t ask why. I just like I’m committed. If you’re going to coach me, I’m going to take the action.
I’m a great athlete so I can learn to take coaching and then I can just apply and take action and get the results. Those 3 key mentors really guided me early on and I’m very grateful for that experience to one, have the want to, to find someone to support me, reach out to them, bang the crop out of them enough to give them value that they want to bring me on as a mentee and then do whatever it took to support them in their vision and their business and by doing so, they were able to guide me to figure out how to make money eventually. It took awhile not making any money until I finally figured it out.
Dave: You did something that … It seems like it’s less sought after these days, but something like an apprenticeship. [Create where you found, ask and you’re willing to in order to spend time seeing how they do what they did.
Lewis: Yes. I remember one of the mentors I was working with. He gave me a desk. I was doing all these phone calls like I was doing PR at that time and I’m learning everything, so I was on the phones for like weeks and weeks calling media companies. We have all their information, we are sending out packages for these products to get into kind of like the Christmas shopping guides for his products, computer consumer products.
I was on the phone with everyone like following through, email them. He put me in the closet in his kitchen for his office. He put a desk that fit in the closet and I was literally in there while people are walking behind me in the kitchen. I’m on the phone. I’m trying to be quiet like trying to help people when they’re making food and I’m just like doing the work, making mistakes, building relationships, seeing what worked like just testing things.
Yeah, it was a great experience. I mean, definitely, was not fun at times being broke and feeling like I couldn’t support myself beyond my sister’s couch, but I look back at those experiences as the greatest lessons of learning how to create something from nothing, how to have a vision whether it’s to make 100 bucks and then go and create that from nothing. It’s been a viable lessons.
Dave: How do you define being an entrepreneur? Like what is an entrepreneur in the way you think about it?
Lewis: It’s a good question. I think an entrepreneur is someone I can create something from nothing and I consider myself or call myself a lifestyle entrepreneur because I have the ability to raise a lot of entrepreneurs that are prisoners to their own companies that they create. They are great at creating something from an idea, just an idea and making it happen and putting together a team and creating a product or service or software, selling it but then, they are overworked. They have so much stress and anxiety. They feel like they are trapped.
When I sold this with the people I was hanging out with, the entrepreneurs I was interviewing, I was doing a lot of interviews early on, they like see where they got to where they are, how they got to where they are. When I sold this, I was just like why can’t I design my life or my business around my lifestyle. So early on, I really said to myself I’m only going to work if it doesn’t feel like work and I’m just so fired up about it. I’m going to set it up so that I don’t have to do all the work all the time and I want to be able to have the flexibility to focus to all my life, my passions and my relationships more than anything.
If the work gets in the way of connecting with someone in a relationship or my family or my friends, if it gets in the way of my health, if it gets in the way of pursuing the Olympics which is actually my dream then it’s not the right thing for my vision. It’s not the right thing for me to be working on and there are other things that I could be doing.
That’s how I kind of define a lifestyle entrepreneur is building a business around your life, not the other way around, where you are a prisoner to your work and then trying to have fun times on the weekends, 2 weeks vacation and happy hours.
Dave: I spent about 20 years in the cubicle firearms and working with amazing staff and I met a bunch of amazing people, but like you said, I get all the vacation you get and you want to make sure you’re checking your email on vacation and it does burn me out and it’s not that sustainable and it’s just not healthy.
I have a lot of friends from that time who were kind of like I wanted to do something else, but I just want a little bit of time and I just need a little more energy, but it’s like you just … Everything gets stuck into your career and especially when you have kids, it’s very hard to make that transition and it may require some big changes, but when you do, it is pretty liberating. Kudos to you for just not getting stuck in there for 20 years like I did.
Lewis: I mean yeah. I think … I appreciate that. I think I was also, I’m very grateful that I had a sister who was like “You can stay on my couch for a year while you figure it out”. I did not need to have a job right away. I think if I needed to then would probably be … might be a different story, but I have that support.
I wasn’t making anything and I was living off ramen noodles and macaroni and cheese but I was living. I had a roof and I had some food here and there. That was kind of the way I decided to live for awhile.
Dave: All right. That’s amazing. You had an opportunity to step back and know you’re staying on someone’s couch and eating mostly crap.
Lewis: All the things that I’m not supposed to eat in your diet book.
Dave: That’s cool. Survival though, at that point, you don’t have a job. You got nothing to eat. There’s nothing wrong with eating whatever is in front of you to survive and as soon as you got to the point where you could kick ass, you improve your nutritional intake. It’s amazing how that works right?
You get something to eat and eating processed whatever, it’s better than starving, so no problems there. You’ve overcome a lot personally and as an entrepreneur. What are the misconceptions that stand in the way of the average entrepreneur who wants to perform well as a human?
Lewis: Well, I would say that the first 3 to 4 years that I was kind of like growing my business from making 0 dollars to … Once I started to learn how to make money, it was like I fixated on it and I was like I’m going to do whatever I can to make the most money possible because I never want to feel broke again.
I spent 12 or 14 hours a day really focusing on making money, so I made over $5,000,000 dollars in sales in about 3-1/2 years once I started learning how to make money and what I realized is that there is a period of time that when you’re starting something out, if you don’t already have the capital, you don’t yet have the experience or something that you’re going to have to put in a lot of time and energy and for me, at that time, it didn’t feel like a lot of work, but I was suffering from balancing living a healthy lifestyle, working out, and still eating the right way.
What I realized is that, if I was to do it all over again, I would really structure it in a way that I was able to eat better, work out efficiently or move because I was literally just stuck to my computer. I’d loved it so much and I was really passionate about it but I was stuck to one thing and that led me to being overweight.
My family called me Flewis for fat Lewis because I was 30 pounds overweight and I was getting like heart palpitations every now and then. I was always … I couldn’t really sleep because my mind was just always thinking. I was just like I’m going to make money, I’m going to make money. I would really recommend finding some time in the day to make sure that you’re doing some type of movement, you talked about just being active and moving. You’re standing up right now I believe. Keeping that movement going and then focusing on the energy you put in your body, the foods because there’s definitely a performance level that you create with the amount of food you have and I was definitely up and down a lot.
Dave: Check this out. That sound you’ve just heard and if you’re watching, you saw the camera moved, I made a [stand desk 00:29:08], my friend Steven Yu, the company and I’m advising him on how to succeed because it’s kind of cool to not stand all day or not sit all day, like different positions, different heights, a little bit up, a little bit down.
I never had a cubicle but I did this before because there was like cubicle envy from all the other people. Also, now you’re talking about, reminds me of some of the things that Steven Kotler, the author of the Rise of Superman, the guy who created the Flow Genome Project. He was key noting at the Bulletproof conference, little plug there, September 26 to 28, bulletproofconference.com. Seriously, that was amazing conference I’ve ever planned in my life.
Lewis: I’ll be there for that.
Dave: Just stop whether you’re going to be there. In fact, I’ll have a camera crew there and we’ll make sure we get photos and maybe record a little bit more for podcast. But I want to ask you specifically about flow. That’s what actually made me think of all that. When is the last time that you’re in a flow state and how did you get there?
Lewis: That’s a great question. I’m actually developing a free experimental workshop and I’m doing in a week here in LA just for like some friends to actually see if I can create this for anyone or support facilitating the creation of getting into a flow state, getting into the zone, because I’ve always been able to do it as an athlete, but I’ve never been able to teach others how to do it or create that for other people.
I’ve always wanted what is it for me to actually get out of my head and get into this being in the moment, being present so that I can allow my practice and my body and what I’ve learned to take over when the moment matters, and it’s really about creating magic in the moments that matter.
We have a job interview, we have a speech, we have a sport performance, you’re putting on a conference, you got opening key notes. It’s like how are you going step into this flow state, that is just is magnetic to the audience. They feel like wow, this guy is in the zone like he is in the pocket. He is doing everything like he is not even thinking and it is just like connecting and landing and we’re inspired. We’re on the edge of our seats.
If you’re an actor, how do you get into this state, something I have really inspired by when I had Steven on the show, it was like just cool to get his ideas on this. I think there are some exercises that everyone can do. One is visual. It is really visualizing the entire performance happening in your brain, in your head before it actually happens and feeling the feelings of it happening.
The biggest thing that I hear about people which isn’t able to give people on the zone or in the flow is fear and their survival strategies, right? They are afraid of messing up. They’re afraid they are going to get embarrassed and people are going to laugh at them. They’re afraid that they’re going to look stupid or silly. They’re afraid of their image. They’re afraid of their ego. They will need to be in control. You can’t be in control when you want to be in zone. You got to surrender control to the moment.
These things that people are resisting and in order to resist, in order to get in the flow, it’s kind of like a river with a dam. There is the dam that blocks the flow of a river. The dam represents control, represents image, ego, needing to look good. All these stupid things and when you actually surrender, you let the dam go, you can flow and be in this graceful river that goes wherever it needs to go to get to the end of the destination.
Visualization is one thing. What I’m learning from sports is I used to walk the field the day before every game. I used to walk the field. As a wide receiver, I would line up where I was going to line up and go through the mental wraps in my head. I would actually jog it out or walk around the entire field or imagine myself catching out, go through the act of reaching out the sideline and catching out, go through everything possible that could go wrong as well.
What I also like to practice with people is an exercise where before you get up on stage, really write down or have someone work with you on this, what is the worst thing that could happen, what’s your biggest fear right now and what’s the worst thing that could happen. Express all of your biggest fears. I’m afraid that I’m going to forget what to say. I’m going to go completely blank. I’m afraid and then have them write down everything that they’re afraid of after that or have someone communicate with you and ask you okay, what else are you afraid of?
I’m afraid that I’m going to forget what to say. I’m afraid I’m not prepared enough. I’m afraid that the lights are going to go off. That someone is going to boo me. That people are going to walk up and distract me. The cell phones are going to go off and keep going through the list of fears, all the things that could go wrong that you’re afraid of and really just let them out and then say okay, what if this happens? What if lights go out? What if you forget something? What happens then? Well then, I feel stupid or then I feel like I’m a failure. Okay, then what? And keep bringing out then what? Then what? Then what?
At the end of the day, we’re just going to feel embarrassed or we’re going to feel like it’s going to be a bad moment, but really every moment is neutral in my mind and we decide our perception of it is what it becomes reality. So, we can laugh it off and like oh, actually I just forgot what I was going to say and laugh it off and go back into something and realize like okay, with the worsening, it happened, is X, Y and Z. You’re still alive. You still have a family. You still have basic needs in that so you’re not going to die.
Once you get past that, then you can get back into getting into zone and get out of your head. That’s a couple of exercises. You’re just visualizing it. I do a lot of guided visualizations, where I create them myself and go over and listen to my own voice to kind of reassure me and get me into the zone. I do the questions. I had someone asked me like my biggest fears, and I go over that and then what I really liked to do which I think allows people to get into zone and hopefully this isn’t too much information that what I really like to do is getting into zone is a way of being. It’s not a way of thinking. It’s a way of being. It’s stepping into this action and letting go of resistance.
What I really like to practice is this something I learned in sports psychology back in sports. Everything I do in life and business is based on my sports experience and what we learned early on was stepping into someone that represented who we wanted to be. For me, it was Jerry Rise, right? I stepped … Every time I stepped onto the field, put the pads on, I became Jerry Rise.
I watched his videos. I saw how he moved. I just like now I’m Jerry Rise. He is entering my physical body and I’m embodying Jerry Rise, right? It’s like I almost gave myself permission to let go of being me now and now, it’s like I’ve got this other super power inside of me and just way of being allowed me to step up, whether it allowed me to overcome my fears, even though I still have the fears and allowed me to step up in a confident physical way that let me just take action. So, those are few things that I do.
Dave: You sound like you studied Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich, pretty well. A lot of those techniques are well known but they are not well practiced and it shows.
Lewis: I don’t even know that he wrote that in his books.
Dave: I assumed what you’re saying there sounded very familiar, but there are multiple powers, but you just wanted the first to write the stuff down before that and do this in various other people who would spend generations looking at what people do, a little tidbits here and there and sort of accumulated.
That’s remarkable and it … Some of the things that put you in a flow state are things that scare you. I get the conference, working with the Flow Genome Project and we’re building a swing like a 20-foot tall swing that, where we tie you to it with electrodes on your head and like spin it around. Literally, put you in one of the neurological states that make it easy to go into flow state.
I didn’t know about this until I got to know Steven and when I look back on this, typically, I’m in a flow state when I’m speaking, when I’m podcasting. I’m in a flow state, when I’m on stage. That’s a reason for this. It isn’t something I’ve ever talked about and I used to have a fear of public speaking. I used to stutter a little bit because my friend just would not go fast enough and sort of get flustered then I would stutter.
It was enough that I don’t think it stood out, but I was really self-conscious about it. When I was a kid, I have like OCD stuff and I would like, wanted like do this with my fingers, [inaudible 00:37:58] or I would like to sponge my nose 3 times or like all that weird stuff and like all that’s gone.
The first time I really did something meaningful on stage was called the web guild. We don’t even know what a red buster was yet. There was like 500 people in the room and because I worked at 3, I’m on stage and I’m like, I’m about to crop myself. So I went up there and see the absolute terror and I completely wrapped it like first time you ever have 500 people laughing at a joke you cracked, you’re like “Oh my God, I’m going to die”.
By the way, Microsoft was part of the joke. I run, listing notes. I’m still good at that. I became really good at public speaking and it was hardly because I was still scared of it, but I think that that flow state stuck with me because it was what put me in that state.
Now, I do my variability exercises and with all, I go up the stage and I’m just full of passion and there isn’t any fear often. I’ve nailed it on CNN and all these places, but I think it all came because it originally started as like one of the most terrifying things I could think of. You just made me think about that when you talked about your own experiences yourself. Thanks.
Lewis: That’s cool, yeah. I think the fear allows us to like either crumble and really mess up. We either get in our head so much about the fear that we do mess up. We forget our lines. We forget what we are going to say. We fall down a mountain because we are so terrified or we like to let go, we surrender to the bad outcome, what could happen. We surrender to looking bad, to messing up. We surrender that happening. We actually do know or how we do perform and we’re going to that state.
Again, I don’t know the answers and I’m still trying to discover it myself and how to do it any moment and show others how they can do it, but that’s why I’m excited for what Steven’s up to because he’s really cool for the last stuff.
Dave: There is going to be some science behind it and it’s a state that may be deserves study but hasn’t been well enough to describe people to even be. Where the people who’ve experienced it more than once or experience it in their daily work, they’re generally happier and I certainly did not experience them most of the time and I’ve been trying to make myself more like that. I want to know a couple of practical things with you because we’re counting out towards the end of the time we’ve got.
Dave: There are two things that I promise myself that I ask you. 1) I just blogged about this and I took a photo of my work stage with all these cords hanging down behind it because it keeps going up and down and cords keep falling down. What does your work station look like? Just a physical little thing. You’re an athlete.
Dave: You guys. How do you send it up so that you filled it?
Lewis: Right now, I’m living in a sublet because my unit is under construction. This is an amazing unit that I love in West Hollywood, so I have just a general desk. It’s not the typical setup that I normally have. I usually have a lowered desk and I have got one of these nice chairs.
Yes, yes, that one. I got that but I stand up a lot. I put like an additional kind of desk top on top of my desk. I don’t have the fancy desk that you have. I’m going to get one of those, but I put an additional, if I want to sit down, I sit down in a chair and when I stand up, I add this like an additional desktop thing and I stand up and work. It’s just a simple rectangular glass desk that I have and it’s in my school studio where I record everything but it’s also kind of an office and I’ve got this amazing balcony on the 11th floor looking at all of the West Hollywood hills and all of LA and just an inspiring environment to create from.
Dave: So you’re not too far then from Santa Monica where we are opening the first coffee shop.
Lewis: I’m excited to check it out. Wifi and I’m there.
Dave: We’re going to drag you out of your cool standing/sitting and make you get some coffee. That’ll be your exercise for the day, and now you’re moving.
Lewis: I’m done yeah. Let’s do it.
Dave: I always wanted to make questions, so you stand sometimes, you sit sometimes, cool and working out on a treadmill at times which seems obsessive compulsive to me, but anyway. All right, LinkedIn … I was the biggest LinkedIn fan ever. Ten years ago, I tried it on my business school, like how to use it, because no one had heard of it, but now, it’s kind of maybe from that event, so what’s the deal with LinkedIn?
Lewis: It’s tough man. I mean I think I was using it for years and I was on there hours and hours every day and it’s what really helped kick start my business, so it helped me build my first kind of really solid foundation about email list that I was … I list 20 events around the country in 1 year and all I did was used LinkedIn to promote and I was getting 300 to 500 people that show up live, so I was really … I was using them to promote webinars and I was selling products.
I probably made my first $1,000,000 in sales from products online, based on the groups and the email list I built on LinkedIn from those connections. Really powerful back in 2008, 2009, 2010, around them. As these other websites and social networks have grown and how Facebook has developed into more business sectors supposed to just for college students where it was for me when I was in college, it’s just for college students.
I remember when it just came out. I remember when my school became unlocked and we were finally in the Facebook when there was no Facebook and you have to have the college email address and it was like they’re only opening up to certain schools at that time.
As other sites have evolved, I kind of got overwhelmed with LinkedIn and it wasn’t as effective for me. They weren’t being as innovative and growing in a way for my needs, but for other people, it’s still may be really powerful and effective but now, I rarely go on there. I’m much more of a visual stand myself of connecting with people and of promoting my own ideas and content.
I really like Facebook and Instagram a lot more than the LinkedIn now and I’ve got well over 25 or 30,000 connections. I probably have about 5000 connection request right now, but I just have another time to go and accept everyone, get a couple hundred a day and it shouldn’t … Again, there’s probably a lot of values still there, but it’s just not … It’s kind of like I’m burned out. It’s like I’m done playing that sport.
Dave: Well said. I found it to be remarkable for my career. One of the coolest jobs I had, I was a head of marketing for a start-up based in Cambridge England, even though I was living on the West Coast. It was a huge race I got like I fly to London every 6 weeks. It was kind of amazing but it was all because of LinkedIn and it was such as a big thing, but now, I don’t know how many requests I have, somewhere between 5 and 10,000 connections but I just find it’s less of a thing and it was 2 or 4 years ago.
Lewis: Yeah and it’s important to be where people are and to be on top of mind awareness. Obviously, it’s our goal, right? More relevant and the more top of mind awareness we have the better and people aren’t logging in LinkedIn all day long and hanging out there. They’re hanging out in Facebook or Instagram or I’m not really is into Twitter as much to look for information and connect with people but I know people are still there. More about where people are and I want to be on top of minds where they’re hanging out.
Dave: Yeah. I’m looking to hire a developer and I’m looking to hire another executive assistant and I think we might advertise them at LinkedIn, but we also advertise on Craigslist. I think it’s nice they get. That’s cool, not even one of those contents but it’s just a few as well as I think we might be in the same boat there and for people listening, people come to Bulletproof Radio, because we are talking about personal performance and a touch on business of less than you do on your podcast and I like everyone has a job or career. Knowing what to do in Linked seems pretty important and if you’re an entrepreneur listening, you know like how important that can be.
Lewis: Yeah of course.
Dave: All right. We come to more questions and then we’re out of time. One of them is just like what’s your biggest key to success that you’ve come up with so far, because you’re one of those guys who successfully blended the details magazine, If the sky will make you rich with like I’m a pretty good athlete as well, so you got both universe but what requires both? What is your biggest key success?
Lewis: There is obviously a handful I think of keys, but the biggest is for me is being clear and having so much passion and energy about what I’m clear on. There are people with lots of great ideas but they are not clear and go. They have a lot of passion on everything but it’s hard to really be enrolled in that person because you’re like what are you actually doing?
With me, I get very clear on my vision and my goals and the things I want to be a part of and then I put all my energy behind it like I’m all in and so, it’s like you either come with me or finding someone else to come with me, but here’s where I’m going and I want you on board type of mentality and that might be coming from my athletic and sports background of just being like fully committed to my goal of the season and what I want to achieve, but people are inspired by passionate people, at least I know I am and if you’re trying to create something, you got to bring the passion.
You got to show that you’re inspired so that other people are inspired in being a part of it and you don’t have to be perfect like I definitely I’m not perfect. I’m definitely not the smartest guy by any means and I make a lot of mistakes and I messed up just like anyone else, but I go all out with passion and I think that’s been a valuable lesson for me to know that I don’t need to have all the answers. I don’t need to be the smartest guy in the room. I don’t need to get a specific degree and I can still achieve what I want if I’ve got the passion and the focus to get it.
Dave: That’s awesome and that probably cancels one of the other 2 things I’ll ask you for in the final question but you could decide if it doesn’t. The top three pieces of advice for people who wanted to kick more ass of life and it’s really not about sports. It’s not being an entrepreneur, it’s just about being a human being but yeah, the three most important things you’ve ever learned.
Lewis: Do it very clear on your vision.
Dave: That was kind of first one I already got from you. All right, the other two.
Lewis: Be very clear on the vision because if you don’t have a vision then where are you headed? So, you got to know where you are headed, be very clear in your vision.
The second one would be man, I really feel like when you can master the body, you can master anything. So, focus on your health and mastering the body. When you master the body, you are really mastering the mind because the mind is the discipline it takes to master the body.
Dave: Amen brother.
Lewis: Yeah, so master your body because again, you can do anything once you’ve taken care of your physical tool. That’s all you have as your tool and then the third that just came to mind I would say there’s probably a number of other things I would add to the third thing that came to mind right now is the question was surrounding yourself with powerful and inspiring coaches and again, I would not be able to create when I’m creating or doing what I’m doing if I do not have the most incredible team of mentors, coaches that I invested and hired for everything.
I have a coach for my relationships when I’m dating. I have someone that I talked to because I’m not an expert still and I’m always learning. I have a coach for business that I pay. I have a coach for just for life lessons that I pay. I’ve got a trainer for my body, a sports trainer who does rehab on me and then I have a coach that trains me to work out to prepare for my dreams and my goals.
I have a coach in every area of my life and then I hire an amazing team of people to support me and doing everything that I suck at and I feel like those are the three keys that I would say to having an epic life and achieving greatness on every area of your life, completing your vision, mastering your body which means mastering your minds and then surrounding yourself with people to give you feedback and support you in achieving your dream.
Dave: You stuck in the fourth one there. There might be a sub bullet there but it was sort of profound, hire people to do the stuff you suck at, double down on that one if you’re listening to this and by the way if you’re in college, pay the money, have someone fold your laundry. No joke, like seriously, you probably suck at that anyway. Really, even if you’re working like I did at Baskin Robbins in college, scooping ice cream. You’re probably still going to come out ahead if you get that time back.
Lewis: Yeah, it’s amazing. I’ll tell you this. I’ve had a hard time sometimes talking about this because sometimes, I feel bad about it based on the way people respond to me and their reactions but I really don’t feel bad about it, because I have a full-time assistant that does everything for me. She is incredible and she loves what she does because she knows she is a part of my vision.
We are working on a vision together. It’s to serve 100,000,000 people to make a living on what their passion is about. I can do what I’m doing as a high level without her supporting me. She literally makes all my meals extremely healthy. She is the most incredible chef. She does all my domestic cleaning, all my laundry, everything. My place is clean and perfect every single day.
I’m fed every single day what I need to be fed as opposed to running out and trying to go get stuff myself or spending 2 hours cooking and cleaning which I’m just not that great at. It’s fun every now and then it’s like an activity, but it’s not what I want to be doing to serve my mission and she schedules everything, takes care of all the things that take extra time for me, that takes me away from doing what I do best and it’s the greatest asset I have, the greatest support I have is having a full-time assistant that does everything for me that I don’t do well.
Dave: Do you ever feel a little bit helpless because you’re so cuddled?
Lewis: She is gone right now for a week and I’m like I’m going to clean everything and I’m going to go like where is my … I’ve lived on my own without any money and scraped by for years and just had a laptop, a guitar and a couple of suitcases with clothes, where I wasn’t making much and I’m very resourceful so I know how to step back into the resourceful way and do everything on my own, but it’s really nice to have someone to support me.
Dave: Awesome, I’m with you there. This is something that is really important also. You are just dropping a lot of knowledge here. For people listening, when you get to the point in your career it’s sooner than you think it is that you can afford to have a personal assistant local or remote who can help to take stuff off your plate, it is something that just transforms your productivity and like you’ve never seen before.
Lewis: Yeah, because if you’re spending 4 or 5 extra hours a day, the one thing I do is I make my bed every day, so it’s not like I just give up everything. I make sure my stuff is organized but then everything else is taken care of because I want to have some ownership of my life and the thing I would say is that those 4 or 5 hours a day of just running little errands and the energy and the mind space that it takes to create that takes you away from doing what you do best and what your vision is.
Again, if your vision is to create something that would inspire people going to help people lose weight, creating an awesome book, if you’re thinking about always other things that aren’t focused on that, at anytime it’s going to get you out of the zone and when we’re in the zone, we create a space of unbelievable magic. When we’re out the zone, it’s resistance, it’s hard work, it’s time, it’s energy, it’s exhausting and is not our most creative space.
Dave: This is amazing advice and I’m grateful that you’re sharing it on people on the show. We are out of time, but first tell people how they came here about your podcast where they can find you online and if you have other things that I don’t know if you can talk about, what you’re doing at your book yet, but just tell us how to find you, what coordinates, all these things will be in the show notes.
Lewis: Yeah, the best thing is lewishows.com. I’ve got a couple episodes that go up from my podcast there each week. The school of greatness podcast on iTunes. Feel free to go out there and listen to an episode if you like. If you like Dave’s show, I assume you do, they are very similar, both about reaching the highest levels of human performance, minds about greatness, and it’s more business and health and lifestyle focused. lewishowes.com. I’ve got a course that teaches people how to make 6 and 7 figures a year with their information using webinars tool so you can learn all about that over at my site lewishowes.com.
Dave: Lewis, thanks again.
Lewis: Thanks so much.
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