The Jay Kim Show #15: Lewis Howes (Transcript)
Today’s guest is Lewis Howes from The School of Greatness. Lewis has a very inspirational story. He went from being broke, unemployed and injured, sleeping on his sister’s couch to fast forward eight years later, where he now runs multiple multi-million dollar businesses, is a New York Times bestselling author, a highly sought after keynote speaker, and just all around successful entrepreneur.
He goes into detail about how did that. How he changed his mental framework and what are the things he does every day that leads to his success. He also weighs in on the future of LinkedIn as a social media platform and where he thinks that’s going to be headed. Let’s get right into the show.
Jay: Lewis, thank you so much for coming on the Entrepreneurship in Asia Podcast. How are you doing?
Lewis: Thanks so much Jay. Doing great, man, how are you?
Jay: I’m fantastic. You know, I’m a huge fan of yours, and I follow your stuff, I listen to your podcast. Your story is very inspirational. For the listeners out here in Asia who have not perhaps not heard of you, and for that I apologize, why don’t you just give us a little bit about your story because I think it’s just really, really inspirational and how you went on to become such a successful entrepreneur.
Lewis: You know, I never sought out to be entrepreneur. I did it based on necessity. I used to be a professional football player here in the states. My dream was crushed when I broke my wrist and I had to have surgery. It took me about a year and a half to recover and I wasn’t able to get back into playing the game that I loved so much. My dream was over and I didn’t have a degree, or really a backup skill, or anything that I thought was valuable enough to get a job or to have anyone pay me for anything. I was coming out of a depressing moment for about a year and a half. I was sleeping on my sister’s couch, trying to figure out who I am, what’s my purpose now, what do I want to do next and how am I going to survive?
Entrepreneurship really kind of came to me by necessity. I just had to figure out a way to make a few hundred bucks a month to pay for food. Then I figured out a little bit more about how to get my own apartment and then it just grew from there. Really, what did it for me was nine years ago when I was injured, I read a book called The Four Hour Workweek and that opened me up to- it was a catalyst.
It opened me up to possibilities of what I could do by building a business, or doing something online, and finding all these different resources, and systems, and processes. It opened me up to what was possible, then I spent a number of years diving in deeper and researching about online marketing and strategies about building a business. I started to take a lot of action and made a lot of mistakes and now, nine years later, I’m kind of where I’m at.
Jay: Yeah, it’s an incredible story. You must have hit some sort of low point on your sister’s couch. Prior to that, had you- you’re a professional athlete and had you tried your hand at a desk job or anything like that?
Lewis: It was about a year and a half into sleeping on my sister’s couch where she was like, “Okay, do you think it’s time you start like, paying for rent and supporting you know?” Because I was just mooching for the whole time and she was nice because I was injured and kind of lost my dream but it had gotten to the point where she was like, “Okay, it’s time for you to step up in your life.” I remember saying, okay, I started to build some quality relationships in my local- in my city with some of the business leaders. I was going out, I was doing some public speaking classes, I was just trying to figure out some ways to get myself out there in general to build some skills and tools.
I went on Craig’s List and I was like, “Okay, I’m going to look for like a sports types job, because I like sports” and I studied sports in school so I was like, “Let me- maybe there’s like sports marketing or something.” I researched on Craig’s List the different jobs that were available in my city in the sports marketing world and I applied to one that I was like, “Wow, I think this would be a great job for me, you know it sounds interesting, company.” I applied, I got the interview and I remember as I was walking out my sister’s home to go to the interview, I couldn’t leave.
I had it all set up and I just remember thinking, “Wow, if I go there, I just believe I’m going to get this job and that’s not what I wa-, that’s not what I want.” I knew that for some reason I had a feeling like, “I’m going to you know, be what they want” in terms of this position and the skill set I had and I just knew, I could be enrolling and I was like, I just couldn’t do it. My body resisted so much for me leaving that I just didn’t show up, I didn’t even email them and say anything, I just didn’t show up.
It was that moment where I decided, “Okay, if I’m not going to go get this job, or do something else, that I need to figure out a way to make money” and that’s kind of how entrepreneurship began.
Jay: Yeah, that’s amazing. I think, there’s so many people, even for myself of, at certain points in my life, career, I’ve hit low points where it’s, you’re battling desperation because there’s no in-flow, you need cash. Even to network, it takes some time. I remember one of the first podcasts I think I heard you on, I can’t remember who the host was, but you were talking about a conference that you had to scrape together money. You might have been in New York and it was down in Philly or something like that, and you weren’t sure if you were going to do it and it was like, the biggest risk you ever took but it ended up really paying dividends, right?
Lewis: It was huge, yeah, it was big time and I was broke and went to this event and ended up getting five key relationships that one or two of them, I’m still close with today, like eight, nine years later that I’ve done business deals with, things will happen because of. If we don’t ourselves out there, then there’s no chance we’ll create anything. For me, personal relationships are the most powerful thing. If I lost everything in my business right now, I know I could build it back up based on the relationships of the last decade that I’ve been building, where I could create something new or find a partner or find an investor or whatever I need to do, I could do it through my relationships.
I think a lot of people today hide behind their screen too much where they’re not able to get themselves in front of people to build those quality relationships. There’s one thing about having an online connection. It was like a friend of yours online that you build a relationship with, it’s another thing about meeting that person, in person and hanging out with them even for like just a night or a dinner and building something more meaningful and have that in person connection. There’s nothing that can replace that, so.
I did as many live events as possible for many, many years to build that powerful influence and network.
Jay: Yeah, that’s so true. With the internet, it’s not that difficult now to actually connect with some of the influences online but like you said, nothing beats physical interaction and that’s what really cements the relationship and makes it memorable, right?
Jay: Fast forward I guess nine years now, you are successful, multi-million dollar online busi-, running online businesses, you are a New York Times best selling author, sought after key note speaker, just all around successful entrepreneur.
Was there inflection points on that journey when you knew that you were gaining traction, you were like, “This is it, I’m actually going to make something out of this”?
Lewis: I think it was just many moments building up like as I started making little bit more money, I was like, “Oh, I think I could do this” because I started to make 500 bucks a month and then 1,000 and 2,000 a month. I was like, “There’s something here, like I’m learning how to make a little bit of money by providing a value to people and for packaging and positioning my products, my services, my events and if I can just learn to help people solve problems and be valuable to them, then I’ll always be able to make money.”
I was always asking people what their biggest challenges, what their biggest need is, what their biggest frustration is and then I create programs, products, services around those needs because people are always seeking for information or a solution, and they’re willing to pay and invest it.
Jay: Yeah, that’s very powerful. I think a lot of people now, they come out of the gates impatient and hungry for money and just focused on money and not really focusing on adding value, which is the real reason why someone would actually pay you for anything, right?
Jay: You spent some time in LinkedIn as a LinkedIn expert and I wanted to actually ask you, because I was just looking at my LinkedIn profile the other day. How do you feel about LinkedIn now? Is it still relevant, people are on both sides of the fence right now but I’m sure you get asked just being an expert in sort of that social media channel?
Lewis: To be honest, I’m not using LinkedIn as much anymore. I kind of got burnt out by it but I’m actually thinking about going back on because they’ve just opened up their, ad platform has gotten a lot better in terms of, now you can send emails to targeting people like special emails to everyone that will take into inbox so it’s like- it could be potentially be one of the most powerful platforms now with this new ad, email thing that they’re doing to, and you can target people based on their profession, by how much money they make, where they live, everything, you can target it. For me, that’s interesting for me to want to go back in and test it now.
Jay: Okay, interesting, so keep an eye out for LinkedIn.
Lewis: Keep an eye out.
Jay: On that note actually, these days the online sort of world is much different than, nine years ago, I mean massively different than when you first started. I hadn’t really gotten in until probably 2010, 11ish. Even from then, it’s massively evolved. Now there’s just a flood of everything of content. Twitter, I’ve missed 99% of stuff on there. Facebook, now that they’ve added the News Feeds and stuff, it’s becoming more and more, just a flood and I’m not catching a lot of stuff on there.
On that vein, you’d see a lot of again, these online people popping up trying to do content marketing, selling a solution maybe real or fake. I like to ask people that are somewhat seasoned in this business, “What do you feel about the state of sort of online businesses, email bu- list building, webinars?” Which, you’re also an expert on. I see for as much as the good ones, I see probably 10x snake oil salesmen out there and it’s hard. If you’re just trying to get in, it’s daunting, which one’s real, which one’s fake, and I just losing, spending my money, I know I have to invest in my future. How do you sift through it, right?
Lewis: Man, yeah, a lot of questions you just there but I think you sift through it by seeing who’s most credible and what else your gut is telling you. There’s a lot of people that are sleazy and in my opinion aren’t credible but they’re make these huge claims. I don’t even follow those people, I’m only looking for people that I feel like they offer great value to me. Again, if they offer great value, they’re either giving free content that’s teaching me something that’s helping me solve something, then it’s going to make me build that trust with them and better relationship even more.
Also, if they’re an author, they get a lot of media attention and press, then that also shows you, okay this person’s getting featured in the press. They may still be a little sleazy, but I’m not saying they’re not, but if the press is going to promote them, then at least they’ve vetted them to a certain degree so that I should build some more trustworthiness there so I try to get as much press and featured in many places as possible.
If they’re an author, if they’re a New York Times best selling author, then it shows even more credibility. Look for credibility, look for people that are credible that other influencers feel comfortable promoting and talking about. If they’re just on an island by themselves with some marketer, that no one knows about or no one really is giving them credibility, then be aware and maybe look for someone who’s got more credibility or gives you better solutions. I think, again, the people that are giving great free content, build a relationship with that and see if it works for you and then from there, you can see what other products and services they have that you may want.
Jay: It does take time, you have to do a little bit of research and follow people and consume a lot of content and sift through it. It’s tough, we’re in an age right now where people say it’s easier now to build a business than ever before.
Jay: On that same token the challenge, which is all on you, is basically how you stand out, right? How do you differentiate yourself from the flood, so I guess that’s always a challenge, right?
Let’s talk about your book. You are a New York Times best selling author, which is amazing accomplishment, so congratulations on that.
Lewis: Thank you.
Jay: I read your book, I have a copy of it sitting on my desk right now and I thought it was actually, all the sort of key points that I’ve, well maybe like five or so out of the seven that I’ve kind of had to struggle in my career and my life and my journey to figure out and you just kind of consolidated it and distilled it into a book, which is great. Maybe you can talk a little bit about your book, what it’s about?
Lewis: Yes, it’s called The School of Greatness. It stems from my podcast where I interview some of the world’s greatest leaders and peak performers and world-class athletes and New York Times best selling authors, people from all walks of life who are in my opinion, are the greatest at what they do in the world. As I was interviewing them, I’ve done over 420 episodes and as I interviewed these people over the last four years, I’ve realized that they almost all of them had common themes, common principles and foundations that they’ve lived on that helped them get to where they are.
I’ve always been fascinated with understanding how people got to where they are, how did they make it happen, how did they become successful? The more I started interviewing people, I was like, “Oh, they did this, just like these other 20 people did it. Oh, they did that, and oh did this.” There were some common themes. The thing that all of them had in common was they had a purposeful, powerful, clear vision and they knew exactly what they wanted.
Maria Sharapova when she was a kid playing tennis, she was like, “I want to be number one in the world one day, and I want to be one of the greatest of all time.” She knew for 15 years while training, what her vision was. She wasn’t just like, “Oh, it’s going to be fun to play tennis, and I’ll randomly beco- I’ll randomly hit number one because I just like to play.” She had a clear personal vision. Same thing with all the greatest athletes. Same thing with Tony Robbins, same thing with everyone that I had on there, they were clear in what they wanted.
Just number one, a lot of people that I meet, they’re not clear on what they want. They’re scattered in their ideas, they don’t have a clear purposeful focus vision, so get clear on what you want. That vision could be what you want in the next six months, in the next year. It doesn’t have to be for your life. What do you want right now?
Another thing they all have is a thing that I call the Champion’s Mindset. They have this incredible belief in themselves. If you don’t believe in yourself, I guarantee you’re not going to create what you want. If you’re doubting yourself, if you lack the confidence, I you don’t think it’s possible, then 100% you’re not going to create the life you want or the business you want or the vision you want. You’ve got to learn how to develop confidence by building small wins, by believing in yourself, by surrounding yourself with people who believe in you as well, because a lot of times when we go after something big, people around us, the closest people to us, sometimes hold us back the most and don’t believe us the most.
You get to surround yourself with people who do or at least be the only person who does yourself. You get to be confident and believe it. Another thing I’ll do is, they develop hustle, what I like to call hustle. I learned this in sports. I was never the fastest, the strongest or biggest athlete but I would always dive for the loose balls, I would always sacrifice my body to support the team. I remember coaches would say, “You know what? I’ll always have a spot on my team for someone like this.” There are always be a position for someone, even if they’re not the biggest, the fastest or strongest but if they dive, if they hustle, if they do whatever it takes to support the team, then we need to find a way to get that person on the court.
For me that became my way in business as well, I was like, “I’ll do whatever it takes.” Another thing that they do, they all live a life of service. There’s something greater in their pursuit of their business or their dreams, they’re not just doing to just make money for themselves but they live in service. They live to give back, they live to support others. It’s a bigger mission for people and I think people are much more fulfilled when the live in that service.
Jay: That’s awesome. You’re absolutely right when you talk to the greats of business and even in all sort of areas of career, there are common themes. I love how you’ve captured those in your book. When you talk about vision and I know this is very important, for a long time I didn’t have a vision myself and I kind of resisted because I was like, “Oh, it’s just psychological, mumble jumble or whatever, you know, this is not, it’s hokey.” Then you read books like thinking Grow Rich, Find Napoleon Hill and all these people that have practiced it and successfully gotten, achieved their vision. What was your vision initially and if you don’t mind sharing, and how specific does someone have to be and then do you also advocate for every day reviewing your vision, that sort of thing?
Lewis: My vision growing up was to be a professional athlete. That was the dream was to be a professional athlete and once I achieved that, and then I lost-, I got injured, I need to create a new vision. Otherwise, I’m just wandering around aimlessly. My first vision was to get off my sister’s couch, it was like, “How can I make enough money to get off my sister’s couch?”
Then I created new visions along the way and so I’m constantly- at the beginning of the year I like to make six and 12 months goals and I have a bigger vision but I work towards daily, monthly, yearly actions to achieve the bigger visions. I just break it down for myself. I write it down on what I call my Certificate of Achievement where I declare my vision, I write it down with the date of when it’s going to be achieved by, I sign it and I award it to myself. I look at it every single day, then I see it and I realize okay, am I one step closer today, towards achieving that vision, if not, what do I need to do. That’s how I break it down.
Jay: Is there certain tactics or strategies that you use when you face challenges? Let’s say you have a failure or a lack of traction or maybe you’re just burnt out. You’re obviously a very positive person, I think that’s very important for success but we all run into roadblocks. Is there a certain trick that you have, is there just a reframe of your mind, a process that you follow?
Lewis: If I feel …
Jay: You know, burnt out or let’s say something doesn’t go as planned, let’s say you have a failure …
Lewis: If I feel burnt out, I reconnect to my vision and I ask myself, “Is this what I really want to do or is this not meaningful to me?” The only way I feel burnt out is if I feel like I’m not aligned in my day to day actions to what my vision is, because otherwise my vision gives me energy. I’m willing to do whatever it takes because it’s greater than myself, my vision is. When there’s adversity, I will take it on and take it in stride. If I ever feel overwhelmed, then I’ll just take a day and be by myself or relax and take a moment back and make sure, “Hey, what am I doing this for, what’s the purpose, what’s the reason, why am I allowing myself to feel overworked or stressed, do I need some- to integrate some more balance in my life?” I’ll just evaluate it and be aware.
Jay: Yeah, the power of the vision once again coming into play. Your podcast is awesome.
Lewis: Thank you.
Jay: You’re talking about free content for all the listeners out there. This is one of the best out there, I follow it and the thing I love about your podcast Lewis, is that the guests that you have on are quite unique. I feel like we’re talking about this earlier, in Asia the podcasts are non-existent. The states, we’re kind of almost at fatigue level where a lot of the guests have been recycled along the different circuits and different podcasts. The thing I love about yours is that your guest quality and just the variety is amazing. One of the guests I listened to recently, that I’ve never heard of and I’m ashamed because I haven’t, but I loved the show was, Bedros Keuilian.
Lewis: He’s amazing, yeah.
Jay: Yeah and he’s just like- I love that show and just all the value he brought and so now I’m following him actively on social media and it’s great. For the audience, definitely tune in to School of Greatness. There’s so much knowledge and free content there and the guest quality is amazing, so thank you Lewis.
Lewis: Yeah, of course.
Jay: Let’s talk about looking forward, what are you working on now, what do you have planned for 2017, your six month, 12 month goal there? Is there any exciting things you’re working on?
Lewis: Absolutely, I’ve got a big book coming out next year in October of 2017. I’ve got my annual event called The Summit of Greatness, which is already half sold out and it’s about a year away so I’m very excited about that. I’m excited that just to continue being consistent with my podcast, bringing on great guests and getting the word out and inspiring people who listen.
Jay: What are some of the tools or products perhaps that you could help some of our listeners if they’re maybe there on their sister’s couch and they’re looking to get out of the funk. What do you have to offer?
Lewis: I think my podcast is a great place to start, just because it’s so many people listen to it and are transformed right there and they get insights and information and inspiration. That would be a great place to start but I think finding a mentor, finding a coach, someone who can guide you can give you feedback. As an athlete, I always had coaches. There was never one season where I said, “You know what coach, I’m good, I got it this year, I’ll do all the training myself, I’ll do all the team prep, like I’m good.” So why go about life or business without a coach and just be like, “I’m good, I’ll go take this on, I’ll take on everything myself.” It’s exhausting, it’s not easy.
Find someone who can guide you, can coach you, can give you feedback and steer you in the right direction that you can learn from, you can celebrate your growth. That is what I would say, is find someone. I try to do that through my podcast, be able to reach people and kind of guide people that way. Find someone you can talk to one on one as well. Hire someone or find someone to support you as a mentor.
Jay: Okay, that’s awesome. Where can people find you?
Lewis: lewishowes.com or School or Greatness podcast on iTunes.
Jay: Okay, I just have a final question for you Lewis, we have to wrap up here. You’ve had an amazing journey from your sister’s couch to just being all around successful as an entrepreneur now. You’ve written a New York Times best selling book, you’ve interviewed some of the brightest and highest achievers and highest performers in the world. After speaking with all these people and distilling everything that you’ve learned on your journey, what’s one final piece of advice that you would like to give to my audience that you want people to remember you by and take with them and perhaps help them change their life?
Lewis: People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. It doesn’t matter how many skills and tools you have and how smart you are, if you’re not able to connect to human beings, into their heart, into their biggest desires and needs, then no one cares all the things and all the information you have. So first comes first, is be the best human being that you can be and show people that you care and be interested in them. Then, they will take action and support you.
Jay: Words of wisdom from Lewis Howes. Lewis, thank you so much for coming on the show.
Lewis: Thank you.
Jay: We’re so happy to have you and we appreciate your time.
Lewis: Thanks so much man, appreciate it.
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