Scott O’Neil is the author of “Be Where Your Feet Are: Seven Principles to Keep You Present, Grounded, and Thriving”. He is not only a successful person, but also very good at articulating the principles that he has used to achieve his success. Professionally, he’s a best-selling author, an award-winning sports business executive and leader. He’s the former CEO of Harris-Blitzer Sports and Entertainment, a 25-year tenured NBA, NFL, and NHL senior executive, and a Harvard Business School alum. He was a straight-A student, president of the student body, captain of three sports teams, and even president of the local National Honor Society, so he has been on a path of success for a very, very long time.
In this interview for the School for Good Living Podcast, Scott joins Brilliant Miller to talk about his book called “Be Where Your Feet Are: Seven Principles to Keep You Present, Grounded, and Thriving”. These are not necessarily the conversations that executives in corporate America are having, but Scott is. And for that reason, he is very interesting. In this conversation, they cover many things related to not only achieving success but also living well. Scott is a great storyteller. As a heads up, there’s one challenge related to gratitude that Scott issues you in this interview that Scott has found to help him live a good life. This interview lays the groundwork for how we can live mindfully, have meaningful connections with others, and balance our time in order to help us have good living.
“Phone down, head up. Be where your feet are.”
This week on the School for Good Living Podcast:
Connect With The Guest:
Brilliant Miller [00:00:08] Hi, I’m Brilliant, your host for this show, I know that I’m incredibly blessed. As the son of self-made billionaires, I’ve seen the high price some people pay for success. And I’ve learned that money really can’t buy happiness. But I’ve also had the good fortune to learn directly from many of the world’s leading teachers. If you are ready to be, do, have, and give more, this podcast is for you.
Brilliant Miller [00:00:32] It goes without saying that you can learn a lot about success by studying the lives and habits of successful people. Some people who are successful are actually pretty good at articulating the principles that they have used to achieve their success. My guest today is one such person. His name is Scott O’Neil. Let me tell you a little bit about what he has accomplished professionally. He’s a best-selling author. He’s an award-winning sports business executive and leader. He’s the former CEO of Harris-Blitzer Sports and Entertainment. He’s a 25 year tenured NBA, NFL, and NHL senior executive and he’s a Harvard Business School alum. He was a straight-A student, president of the student body, captain of three sports teams, and even president of the local National Honor Society, so he has been on a path of success for a very, very long time. I interviewed him because he wrote a book called “Be Where Your Feet Are: Seven Principles to keep you present, grounded, and Thriving”. I have seen that these are not necessarily the conversations that executives in corporate America are having, but Scott is. And for that reason, I find him very interesting. And I enjoyed his book a lot. In this conversation, we cover many things related to not only achieving success but also living well. Scott is a great storyteller. I’ll just give you a little heads up that there’s one challenge related to gratitude that Scott issues you in this interview and I myself am taking on as well. So you can listen for that. If you want to learn more about Scott and his work, you can follow him on Twitter at Scott O’Neil and you can find him on LinkedIn. So with that, I hope you enjoy this conversation with my new friend, Scott O’Neil.
Scott, welcome to the School for Good Living.
Scott O’Neil [00:02:19] I’m thrilled to be here, I know we were talking before we hopped on and I just love your story, Brilliant. I love your mission and vision to bring good living to the world. I think the world is struggling right now. I think mental health challenges are at an all-time high. I think in five years from now, we’ll be talking about this as an absolute epidemic in this country. And so I’m very interested in the topic. I love that you’ve taken this on to drive change in the world, and I’m humbled and privileged to be here.
Brilliant Miller [00:02:51] I’m glad you’re here. Will you tell me, please, what is life about?
Scott O’Neil [00:02:57] Life for me is about my family, my faith, and trying to leave a dent in the world. I have this compelling life for myself and I’m not sure what life’s about for other people, but for me, life’s about one, helping develop the next generation of leaders. I think it’s a lost art. I think leadership is something that we are sorely lacking in the sports entertainment industry, in the publishing industry, and in the world at large. And so that part of my life is helping to develop that next-gen of extraordinary leaders. And that helps me pop out of bed in the morning. And the other, you know, I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of some pretty big platforms and I’ve been in the sports business since I stopped crawling. And I’ve worked in the NBA, the NFL, National Hockey League. I’ve worked in leagues and teams at Madison Square Garden in this big platform. And I found out really quickly that these platforms if leveraged properly, can make the world better. And so for me, I look at the cities where we live, work and play. And the job I just left, HBSE, the Sixers and Devils etc we built a big business. We were in Camden, New Jersey, which is the murder capital of the United States and a household income around thirteen thousand dollars and seventy-five percent of the households are single-parent families and they’ve got open-air drug markets and gangs and boy, what an opportunity to drive change and make a difference. And I also worked in Newark, New Jersey, which is a really tough – emerging city for sure – but it’s a tough place. And then Philadelphia has the second-highest poverty rate of any major US city. So I had three incredible opportunities to work with an organization to drive change. And sports do hold a special place, whether that’s right or wrong, I’m not here to judge, I just know that when you’re in that business, people respond to you, you have access, you have access to politicians, you have access to companies, you have access to money. And you can impact the youth because they’re looking at you. And I’ll just tell one quick story and I’ll get off this point, but I was speaking to a youth group, we put on this incredible camp again, which sounds so silly to talk about, but it was a free basketball camp. And so we brought in three hundred kids a year. And the first thing we do is give them new sneakers. And I don’t think any of these kids had ever had new sneakers in their life because it was as if it was Christmas morning. And we’d give them a basketball and jerseys and tees and you know, young boys and young girls. And then we bring in some current players, some ex-players. And then we have our team put on a camp. And I always had the opportunity to go speak to the kids. And I always would say, I grew up in a fascinating environment myself. I said, you know, I’ve seen a lot of people emerge from really tough situations and some of the commonalities of that are hard work. There’s no substitute for it, there just isn’t. Like you work hard and there’s a reasonably high chance that you’re an extraordinary teammate. So you’re not afraid to reach out because you’re doing your teammate work yourself. And the third thing is that you have a vision for a better future. And then I turn it over to the kids, which is the most dangerous thing at a young age. And I said, what do you want? What is your vision for your future? And what I was hoping I wasn’t going to hear was I’m going to play for the Sixers. I’m going to play for the Devils. I didn’t want to hear it. And out of three hundred kids I probably heard from, 60 of them raised their hands. And it was it was authentic. It was I want to be an Air Force pilot. I want to be a firefighter. I want to join the electricians union. And I was like, I will tell you, like, I was pretty blown away. And then it got to me and we had one one, hey, I want to play in the NFL. And then we had a little guy, the smallest I could pick up, put it in my pocket, use a little. And she said, well, I want to be a singer. And I said, Do you sing at your church? And she said, I sure do, Mr. Neal. I said, Well, I sure do, Scott. I said, Do you want come out here and sing with us now? Which is like you would never do that front of a group because you’re risking fiasco, right? I can’t help myself. She says I’d love to. And she gets up. It was during the whole frozen phase like that. “Let it go”. So she gets up and she sings, let it go. And the whole gym starts singing with her. And I will tell you, like it’s moments like that that. That bring you peace in that all the angst you go through all the long nights, all the work and the all those fires that you’re putting out, you’re looking at these three hundred kids, you say hey for at least a week. Maybe we provided a little bit of shelter from the rain and maybe we provide a little hope they wouldn’t have. And maybe we made a little bit of difference that a couple of those kids get out and realize their dreams. But like that’s the kind of thing. That’s my purpose. That’s my why. That’s the meaning of why I’m so excited to get up in the morning.
Brilliant Miller [00:08:12] That’s awesome, and I’m with you there on the power of sports, you know, for good and being able to to work with a community, you know, with the players and touch a community and just help people move closer to reaching their their full potential. It’s really remarkable. And sometimes it’s easy for me to to get down on it, especially with maybe the negativity or the the the what I would call the dark side of competition. You know, sometimes when I would go to jazz games, especially when I was younger, people would be so angry at what’s going on at the refs or the opposing team. And I would just think, man, if people are that upset, there’s probably something going on in their life. But when I stand back and look at the big picture and hear stories like the one you’re sharing, I’m reminded of how wonderful that can be.
Scott O’Neil [00:09:00] Yeah, I agree. I’ve seen my fair share of angry crowds and I’ve been on the receiving end of some pretty nasty Reddit and Twitter posts. And all I can say is that sports – We have a special place in the world right now, right now, like our purpose as a as an industry is to build community where there isn’t and to lift people up when they need it and to provide some escapism when the rest of the world is hectic. And we need sport. We need entertainment, live entertainment, music. We need to go and scream and clap and cheer and hug perfect strangers and and be frustrated that losses are bad cause and celebrate when a big shot goes in because because we’ve been grinding for 18 months and with this Delta variant, I don’t know if there’s like a real end in sight. Like I, I think we’re in a grind for another six, eight months. And so we have to do what we can to make sure that we can provide that place where you can come and feel part of something special.
Brilliant Miller [00:10:03] Yeah, absolutely. Let me ask you a question that I get asked a lot, but I think you’re probably much more qualified to answer, which is people who aspire to work in professional sports. They know they’re not going to play on the field or on the court, but they want to have a role maybe in the front office or something. What do you recommend to people who have these aspirations?
Scott O’Neil [00:10:28] Well, you know, I first say, if you want to sell a high tomorrow, that’s what I said. That’s the first thing I say. And that eliminates at least 60 percent of the people, because at the end of the day, I mean, there are a lot of entry level jobs that you can do in this in this business. But the easiest way is to go sell tickets. It’s old school. It’s old school boiler room. And I think five years from now, we won’t see that as much anymore as direct to consumer marketing starts to to kind of lay its big groundwork on that business, I think is going to transform the business. But what I will say that this next gen in particular young people look at and I’m sure the people are asking you, the 40 percent of them want to be a general manager, and that is – it’s not that it can’t happen – it’s just the likelihood doesn’t match my time horizon. You know, I don’t have three hundred years on this earth. So so for me, I like to get people, get them in. And what I would say is, look, we have the best managers in the world. We will give you the best training in the world. We will develop your mind body. So we will make you your whole self will help you grow up. And then you can decide if you want to be in this business or take your talents to do something else. But I love that promise. I love this next gen. I love these young kids. Coming up, I think the world is in really good hands. They’re really smart, a lot smarter than we were growing up. They’re much more connected. They understand their brands, understand our brands. They’re willing to work. But they do expect a couple of things. One is they expect access to everything. They expect full transparency. They expect to be in the corner office by the second week. But the fourth thing that they expect, which I absolutely love, is they hold executives like myself accountable for what you believe. Like what do you got? What do you stand for? I want to know, how does that manifest itself? Are you willing to post that? We got a revolution going on in this country. What are you going to do? What does this company stand for? And and there’s so many issues that are important to so many people. It’s hard as an executive in an organization to figure out, OK, well, what are we going to stand for? What what am I going to put out? There was the organization, but where does it stop? Yeah. On the other hand, I think it’s amazing because they’re saying they don’t have cars, they don’t have houses. They’re like, yeah, this isn’t for me anymore. I kind of respect that like I could never do it. Like, I you know, I’ve been out of work, out of money a couple of times, and I have a I have a fear of being fear, you know, so I couldn’t just raise my hand and walk away. I just couldn’t do it without a parachute. And these kids are like, I’m good now. I was like, hey, you don’t have to go anywhere. Like, you can stay like you’re good, like I love you. You’re going to be great. Yeah, I’m going to take off. And I want respect for for the courage, for the vision and for the like that this group of young people, they see the world so differently and so surely and so altruistically. They understand that our generation has made some mistakes. And we we say the same thing about our parents generation and our grandparents generation. And we keep getting better and we keep getting smarter. We keep making better decisions. But this group coming up, the world will be a better place. It’ll be very different. Yeah. You know, and we saw that with Bernie Sanders get so many votes. This is a different group of people who see the world very differently in a very special way. But but I think we’re in for an incredible run over the next 50 years in this country.
Brilliant Miller [00:14:02] I think you’re right. I think we probably truly can’t imagine fifty years what the world and this country are going to look like. One thing that gives me hope is that more and more leaders, leaders like you are talking about things that I think matter deeply. And one of those is, is mindfulness. And and with the book you’ve written, be where your feet are, even right there in the title, in the subtitle Seven Principles to Keep You Present, Grounded and Thriving. I want to ask you a bit about this book. But before before I do. Or maybe as the way to get into it, I want to ask about a story you tell in the book about a time that you invited your executives to participate in a mindfulness exercise you call “go forward”, will you talk about what that was like and why you did it and what came of it?
Scott O’Neil [00:14:57] Sure. There is a a dear friend of mine, a guy named Pat Croce, who is a former owner of the Sixers and had a very similar job at that I had, ran the organization for years, and he left if this rat race and effectively went full time and he opened a bunch of restaurants and he’s like, I’m not really passionate about it. I want to get into mindfulness. And so that’s what he’s about. So he introduced me to one of the local universities and they’re leading mindfulness professors, and they came and they helped us learn how to meditate, and I had this executive coach years ago and she would say when I was working on Madison Square Garden, she would say, you need to meditate. And I said, I think you’ve lost your mind. And she said, no, you need to find yours. And I said, you know, and so I tried it a bit when I was younger. And it wasn’t until I got older that I truly understood the value of stillness and meditation. And so anyway, so we’re all so incredibly hard charging people. We’re all laying on the ground. We all have our eyes closed and they’re walking us through this exercise and they’ve got this little like, I don’t know, bowl. And they’re just making a sound going around around the ring and breathing. And it was funny, like I said, it’s in the book. Like, I actually looked up and looked, you know, like I was like, you know, it was amazing. You have one hundred of these folks laying on the ground, going through their breathing exercise. And I was just like, this is pretty. It was a special moment special for the organization, special moment for me and for a lot of people. Introduce them to meditation and mindfulness. For me again, I was introduced at a really, really an age where I was working in Manhattan as president, Madison Square Garden with more pressure than you could possibly imagine, and not even half as much as I was putting on myself. And I kept saying, like, am I my coach? And an incredible coach kept saying Scott, she had this like bohemian, like, wonderful style. What she said, Scott, you are a warrior. We need to move you to the sage phase. I’m like, but I don’t want to be a sage. She’s like, right to be a leader to, like, realize your potential. It’ll be lived and driven through others and their success. And so when you move on and you grow up essentially mature, that’s when you can help others realize or change it. That’s where you can take your talents and power and get exponential return, which I didn’t even understand what she was saying. You can think about where my mind was at the time. And I was like, she’s like, you just want the deal. That’s right. I want the deal. She was like pulling her hair out. That’s what she said, you need to meditate. I’m like, I’m not meditating anyway. She broke me down over a while, over after 40 years, and I came around. I’ve come to to truly appreciate the gift of stillness. In fact, in the last two years or so, my formula for mental health is do something for your mind, something for your body, something for your soul every day, get the right amount of sleep, practice gratitude and and be where your feet are. Just phone down, head up. But back to this to the soul part. I often talk about religion and that’s a very, or spirituality or meditation, I kind of wrap those in the soul because it’s not for everybody, like reading scripture, saying prayers, going to church. That whole thing that I do is not for everyone. It’s just not. And that’s OK. And meditation is not for everybody. And that’s OK. Yoga is not for everybody. And that’s OK. Sitting out and listening to the birds chirping in the morning for 10 minutes. It’s not for everybody, but you have to do something. Like pick one, you know. And so when I talk to groups about the impact of meditation and mindfulness and, it’s a way of life, it’s not a ten minute exercise. It’s so different. And that’s why I give you my steps, because you have to take care of your body. You have to be learning like learn one thing outside your job a day, one thing. Listen to a TED talk. Listen to this incredible podcast that Brillian has. You know, go read an article, read a book, learn something, you know, find some stillness. And sleep is is like that’s a superpower. I’m not, I don’t have that superpower. I have trouble sleeping. But we brought in we brought in several experts from around the world to talk to us about sleep. And when I was growing up, it was sleepless for the week. I heard a thousand times, no money never sleeps all this crap. And the reality is, is like your body has to heal, your mind has to heal, your soul has to heal. And the way it heals to sleep. So you need six and a half, eight and a half hours, depending on your DNA and your makeup every day. And then and gratitude is the simplest thing. When I speak to corporate groups, I speak to quite a few corporate groups and I would say, really simply, pull out your phone, send it to your mom. And, you know, we all have complicated relationships with our moms and they’re the most underappreciated people in the history of humankind. And it’s really simple. It’s like Mom and I walk them through this next step. Mom, I love you. I really appreciate you. Although sometimes I’ll say it, you know, just know that you’re always in my heart. I really love you. Every now and then I say, hey, in a chat, just post what the responses are. And my mom’s first back was, “Honey, are you OK?” Think about that, how crazy that is. It’s my mom. And and then I challenge everybody to do a 30 day challenge right now, do a 30 day graduate. It takes you 60 seconds a day, get up, brush your teeth, pick up your phone because I know you already have in your hand. And I just want you to send one text to somebody you appreciate in your life for thirty days, and you’ll be you’ll be amazed. Like I have this notion again, go back to some that’s version of the solar spirituality’s like, you know, the higher power will put some names in your head, but you’re in a shower thinking during the day and you will you will have an opportunity to touch somebody and they will send you a note over that 30 days and they’ll be like, wow, I needed this. I needed to hear this today. By the way, I was in a really bad place. And you fish me out the right time. I just wanna say thank you. Well, that took me sixty seconds. Is this something I should be spending time with? And then you’re be where your feet are going to head up. It’s like that epidemic I talked about in this country. It’s like we need to self regulate and we’re having a hard time. I went to dinner the other night with some friends of mine. I walk up. I would like to say I was early, but I was like four of them sitting at a table each other year on their phones. I was like, yo, what are we doing here, boys? What are we doing? You know, it’s like, can we leave our phones in the car and go to dinner? Is it that complicated? We don’t allow phones in the kitchen or in the bedrooms. And my daughters think it’s the most I’m like an archaic dictator and maybe I am. But, you know, I don’t think they can self regulate. Yeah. And I think we have to do a better job. And as a victim of some pretty nasty social media stuff directed at me that actually stung me, which surprised me so much by letting this get to me, like, how is my 14 year old going to handle that? Like, how is she equipped to handle something on social media? She’s not. That’s the answer.
Brilliant Miller [00:22:28] you know I think you’re right, and that is one thing I worry about, and I think we’re seeing that in rates of suicide and depression, right. That it’s just there are some things that are very unhealthy. But what you’re talking about, about choosing, you know, to use this technology in certain ways at certain times is powerful. So I’m grateful for that and for that 30 day challenge, I want to take that on personally.
Scott O’Neil [00:22:55] All right.
Brilliant Miller [00:22:55] That’s great. And I did hear you say it’s an invitation to listeners, but I just want to emphasize that that an invitation, whenever you happen to be hearing this, we’re recording this in September of 2021. But from the moment you hear this, I invite you to to take the challenge to Scott just issued in 60 seconds a day. One text message. Maybe you want to clarify or add to that, Scott.
Scott O’Neil [00:23:22] This is like when you get up in the morning, send a note of gratitude to someone in your life every day for 30 days, and it will change your being because you will be thinking the entire day subconsciously about who am going to who am I going to be grateful for. And really I’d be interested in. And if you feel this too, when you express gratitude, often the biggest beneficiary is actually you, have experienced that before.
Brilliant Miller [00:23:50] I have. And at the same time as I’ve practiced and studied gratitude and I don’t know if you’ve experienced this, I’ve found sometimes it paradoxically has the inverse effect of what I mean is like there are times where intellectually I think I know I should be grateful, am very blessed. I should be grateful. Other people have much less. But then I don’t feel it emotionally. And then I intellectually, I get some kind of guilt, like I should feel a certain way. So paradoxically, the attempt to feel gratitude kind of backfires sometimes.
Scott O’Neil [00:24:22] That’s interesting. I’ll tell you, my youngest daughter is like that girl like we’re all wired differently. I that’s just the facts, right. There’s some universal truth in the world and what she does. And I do get accused in the house of trying to teach lessons all the time. I get the “DAD! Everything is not a life lesson!” now it’s like “well” but anyway. But two things she does. Which might be interesting. As I mentioned, she’s 14. If she ever listens to this, she’s not going to be happy, I’m sharing this. And so her name’s Eliza. Don’t hold me accountable. Liza I love you if you’re listening. But she does. She writes down 14 things a day she’s grateful for and has never repeated. This is going on a three and a half years. Think about that. So she’s fourteen so starting she was eleven years old. And she was I mean, and it could be when she started, it was about, hey, mom, dad, my brother, my sister, my aunts, uncles, cousins. And now it’s like, you know, a leaf falling off a tree. Hey, a teacher mentioned something to me at school. The most beautiful sunset like is pretty cool. Like so again, she is programming herself because she does not, which is not intuitive to her. And that’s why I love most of the other things she does, which is maybe the cutest thing in the history of mankind, is she has a happy thoughts clicker. So at night if you go by her room you’ll hear click, click, click, click again, because she’s not wired that way. I think it’s her subconscious way of helping her find happiness and find positive energy and finding gratitude is kind of cool. Yeah, that’s
Brilliant Miller [00:25:58] awesome. And I love to what you’re saying about phone down, head up, I love just the brevity of phrasing it that way and so forth. You tell you tell a lot of stories in your book, which I really appreciate but you tell one story about being in a restaurant and a couple observing. So when you talk about what that is and the note that they passed, I’m
Scott O’Neil [00:26:21] sure, it’s a good friend of mine. He was at breakfast with his son and there’s an older couple like one table over staring them down a bit. And, you know, I was just like one of those few, one on one moments you get as a dad. And something happened at a game the night before the college basketball game. So he went to go check the press conference. So he’s watching this video while his son is doing the same. And he was getting the stink eye pretty good from the grandma in the diner. And so she got up left and then came back and just dropped a note on his lap and says something like, time is the most precious commodity and you’re wasting it. Looking at your phone, your son and and his reaction, his first reaction like mine is who does she think she is. I’m a great dad. Like, that’s the first reaction he had. Yeah. And then he gets in the car. He’s like, you know what? Like, I need to be better. I need to do better. I think about this all the time at home, like in the morning. It’s like NCAA tournament surviving events, like it’s chaos in our house in the morning, like there are no meaningful moments. And then there’s school, the cheerleading, and basketball, et cetera, blah, blah, blah, homework. I’m at work. I come home like, how much time do I really have? Like real time, like real meaningful time. People keep time. I need a better balance. It’s not about that. It’s about can we create can we be. We are we create meaningful moments. Can we create meaningful conversation. And that’s life to me. Like that is how we make an impact. So I think that was Don’s big lesson.
Brilliant Miller [00:28:01] I thought that that was a powerful one. And my kids are about that age right now. So it particularly resonated with me. You know, you just touched on balance. This is something I want to ask you about as well, because my experience having a dad who was very driven, who in my view paid for his success with his life, he died at sixty four years old, didn’t sleep like you talked about, including a lot of other things, didn’t get the kind of exercise or pay attention to his diet and things like this. I think it’d be easy to accuse him of not having lived a balanced life. But he’s certainly not alone in that, many people who achieve extraordinary success, you know, put something else on the back burner or just omit it entirely. But you have a perspective in your book about balance that I really love. And it sounds like a good friend gave you a view of it. Enlightened balance to a teeter totter. You talk about how you think about balance. And when people ask you how you if you’ve achieved it or how you maintain it, like what?
Scott O’Neil [00:28:57] The first question I get just about every time I talk to groups, particularly young groups, which always surprises me because when I was young, I mean, I am the money. And I was like, I didn’t have anything other than work. That’s what I did. And so particularly this young next generation, they’re really interested in balance. And I say the same thing to them. Every group is like, I’m not interested in balance. It’s not something I aspire to. I don’t think it’s reasonable. And Laura, my friend, as she says, balance is like a teeter-totter, there’s nothing fun or good happening that’s flat. She’s like all the action happens when it’s moving. And I would just pile onto that and say, just think about being weird, to think about being present when I’m at home, I need to be at home and be a dad. That’s what I need to do, OK? And when I’m at work, I need to be the best executive I can be. When I’m at church I need to be the best church member I can be. When I’m in the community serving the community, I need the best community member. If I am somewhere else or have somewhere I just can’t be as effective, it’s hard I this notion of getting home at five o’clock like it doesn’t I mean, I’m sure exist for something that doesn’t exist for me for sure. Like, I, I can’t even I can’t fathom it. That was the gift of COVID. I actually made family dinner for the first time in twenty years by the way. They’re wonderful. And but even as family dinners like we sit down the first couple of times, I’m looking around and I’m really a conversationalist. I’m interested in people. I’m interested in things. And I ended up buying this really embarrassing story, but I ended up buying conversation starter cards. I think about like think about that, you know, so it’s early and I buy this, like, stack of cards and then I just start going through. And that became a way that we could have conversations more than the transactional ones that don’t matter, which was like, what are you doing later? Who have you called? How was school, how was the zone? Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. You still have those? OK, well how are we getting into meaningful conversations and spending the time? We had the limited time. We have said you have kids that age. Like what do you have an hour, two hours a day, honestly, like how much time you actually have? We have their attention. You’re with them. It’s not enough. It’s real. I’d rather spend time that way.
Brilliant Miller [00:31:17] And I think about it is probably not even that, and if it is that, they’re all together, so it’s not as though it’s one on one, you know. Right. But. Something in oh, and I’ve learned the power of questions as a coach, the power of a single question to change someone’s trajectory of their whole life in some cases. And in your book, you you include some very powerful questions. And there’s one that touches on what we’re talking about now. Right. And it’s this about WMI. You talk about where did you learn what is it and what can it do for somebody?
Scott O’Neil [00:31:52] Yes, a WMI is what’s most important, and I will say that I would love to say to hold myself the champion and example of all things great by WMI, but the first time I did it all, it was anyway. So general thinking in the space is that high performers spend sixty five percent of their time on what’s most important work. So you just write down the three things that you think are most important and with real ambitious folks that I’ve dealt with over the time as they’re kind of climbing the ladder. They have to not only be three, I’m it’s maybe five. But there are only three things that matter in you being a world class at your job. You can stretch it out or you can do whatever you want. You can make it 15, it’s just once it gets to a number, you won’t just know you’ve just wasted your time. There are three things typically that are most important in terms of being world class, you and your work. I just expand that a bit and I’ve added relationships and and self to that because I talked about my form of do something myself, your body, your soul, get your sleep practice gratitude, be where your feet are. And where does that show up? In my three things that are most important to work, it doesn’t show up. So I think you have to do that for personal for relationships and a relationship. One is like really straightforward for a lot of us, but for young people, it’s not so straightforward. Right. Well, what do you mean? I have a lot of friends. I’m like, OK, are there any that are most important to you? How about your mom and your dad? How about your brother, sister? I don’t know, I have a roommate who put three people where, you know, you have to spend time nurturing relationships and then the with the magic is you go out of your calendar and you want to be horrified, go out of your calendar, have to go on this exercise. And I came in at a whopping twenty three percent, by the way, just to say you can go team. And I had ask myself a question like, I either have to change my or what’s most important or change my process, like you can’t say is most important if you’re going to spend a fifth of your time. And so I learned the magic word. No, I had a really hard time saying no to anybody for anything. I love to serve others. I love to help people. I love to to do the little things. At the end of the day, I get to a point in life and say, OK, I’ve got a limited amount of time. I want to be where my feet are in my life, where am I going to spend it? And so for me, it was like little things would take a lot of times, like my friends would say, hey, hey, my kids graduating, you just you might have on a phone or just doing a informational review. And I’d be like, I don’t do those anymore, Scott, like 15 minutes. Like can you just talk to them, connect them with somebody, think about that. It’s like my best friends. But like, if I don’t do that there, it’s just going to – that is a symptom. And so that would steamroll. And if you’re listening to this you’ll be like that dude is a jerk. Yes, I had to find some way to say no to things that I would normally just do, you know, and so, yes, some of that got a little complicated, messy. But at the end of the day, I started just become more effective at home with my relationships and at work because I was spending more time on things that really mattered.
Brilliant Miller [00:35:11] Well, there’s something so powerful about awareness and choice in what we might think of as boundaries or like you said, learning a magic word. Know that we want people to like us and we want to we do want to help people and things like that. But if we’re really honest, if that compromises what’s truly most important to us, then it’s really not in our own interest. So it can be uncomfortable. But there’s a way that I actually take that and I’m inspired by it. Challenged by it…
Scott O’Neil [00:35:39] Yeah, no, no, that’s right, not just the word for me of the summer has been intentional. Like I want to be intentional in everything I do. I want to be intentional about the moments that matter. I want to be intentional about where I spend my time. I want to be intentional about things that come out of my mouth. Like I actually want to be less flippant, less robotic, less, hey, this is what I’m supposed to do and saying, what should I be doing and why? And that’s been serving me very well.
Brilliant Miller [00:36:15] What did you learn? I know that you could probably we could focus the whole interview on that one question, but what did you learn or what surprised you in the process of writing be where your feet are?
Scott O’Neil [00:36:28] Oh, man, I have so many. That’s the best opening ended question I’ve ever gotten, so I will say. Humility. To raise my hand and ask for help, I tell you, I’ll answer your questions with a story which I know will drive some people crazy, but I was in Mozambique for podcast, by the way. OK, good, good, good, good. So I was in Mozambique this summer and with my 17 year old and we this group called HEFY and they sent four thousand kids around the world do service projects and cool parts of the world that need help. And so we were helping build a school and I was in the cement mixer. I had no skill by like unskilled labor at its best. And my daughter is up there like plastering and doing the stuff that you need skill. And they put me in like the cement mixing and wheelbarrow and cement anyway. So I’ll move out of cement and and and I go down a steep, dusty path and then I have to make a left and then go just up on the sidewalk, roll it down the classroom. Somebody help me lift it up, go to the classroom. That’s that’s what I have to do for nine hours. So first time I go down there, I’m like, this can’t be that hard. I’m like pretty strong guy. I’m bigger like I did when I was 14 and could barely like I was holding on for dear life. But now I’m like, I got this. So I start going down until about half time down the and thinking like. I’m not making that turn. I’m just it’s not happening, you know, and so all I’m thinking about in my head, which is strange is. Resources are so precious there, you know, it’s like the area we were in was like ninety seven percent unemployment is the third poorest country in the world and it’s. I didn’t want to spill. I didn’t want to be honest because I didn’t want to be disrespectful, because I know how important it is and so on, so I’m starting to sweat dripping down and I can see this thing all happening in slow motion. I’m like, oh, no. So sure enough, like, I don’t make the turn. I go off into the sand and I’m like kind of nudging it with, like, the top my thigh, like an inch every 10 seconds in this deep sand. And my daughter and her friend Sophia Sophia come up and they just lift it up and put me back on the path. And I’m on my way, no problems. And I know from and I always think about that and I get nine hours in the sun. You think about a lot of stuff. And I was like, man, is it so analogous to life that’s so analogous to writing a book that’s so analogous to to kids today? And because, like, that path is hard, like the path we should be on, the one that where we’re like the best version of ourselves, we’re like good dads, we’re responsible, responsive husbands, we’re doing the right things to make the world better. We’re working hard. Just all that stuff on that are hard. I’m out carrying one hundred fifty pound thing. It’s a man’s heart. And then I go off, go off that path. It’s harder. And what I didn’t do when I went off that path, I raised my hand and ask for help, which is so crazy. And then my friends like, hey, was that really humbling when the two teenage girls lifted that thing like it was no problem. It was like, actually, no. I was like the only thing I was mad about was I didn’t ask them to come get my advice. And so I go on my way that that was like writing a book for me like that. The path was really hard. And when I stumbled, I wasn’t as quick as I’d like to be to ask for help. But I would say, boy, man. That that industry is after I say it’s never going to another book ever in history, my life, but that industry kind of ceded its business to Amazon and Barnes and Noble to some extent. And I think, you know, the world I said it’s a lot of my business is the world is about data and content, like that’s the world right now. OK, and if they have the content. They don’t have the data. So it’s very hard for them to imagine the content that these publishers have. That’s really fortunate with St. Martin’s Press, Tim Bartlett, amazing guy. But they don’t have data but they don’t have data. So you’re now relying on on others to sell your book. And that’s that’s a hard that that that industry, that’s a tough industry to be in, that’s for sure. So I learned I’ll keep going on this one. I literally the humility part, I just tell the story so I know my best friend took his own life, unfortunately. And that’s the genesis for me, starting to write so that with my healing part and I would write to him this like if you saw the movie Forrest Gump, because it’s like running like run Forrest run. That was me. Just write I just wrote on my little iPad as I wrote and grow and grow and wrote and wrote and it was probably like 50 percent gibberish and based. The stuff that was intelligible was stuff about overcoming adversity. And you know, sometimes when I really struggled and someone lend me a hand and help me or gave me an insight that I was able to tackle it. And so, you know, I never had the intention of writing a book and I never had the intention of publishing a book. And then here I have three hundred pages written and my wife was a little concerned about me because I burst into tears and somebody says to me, we’re walking around, it’s like it was I was just out of sorts. My wife called her friend Rachel right up. And he’s like, see what you have here, Scott? My wife says you’re writing a lot of stuff. Yeah, it’s just an escape. It’s kind of like a journalish-type thing. And he pressed me. He’s like, well, you know, you say you want to make a difference in the world. You say you want to impact people. Like what if, like, a CEO actually showed a vulnerable side? Like what what what if you didn’t do like you know, pat yourself on the back like a Lego guy. Everything is awesome. Like what if there was an everything isn’t awesome. But now I was like, well, that’s the only thing I’ve ever put out. And he said, well, what if you could impact one person and I was like well then I would do it. He’s like, you should do it, impact one person. And so then I started down the road and the road is long and painful. And like I sit and I mean, for your listeners, like, I know that like I know how blessed I am. I know how fortunate I am, I know the access I have most people don’t have. So I don’t mean to make light of it. But I mean, my best friends are running two of the biggest legacies in the world. So like I call them and I was like, hey, can I, do you have that will represent me? OK, so this is like, I was in his wedding best friend. OK, so I go see this agent who my friends like his boss’s boss’s his boss’s boss right, and he knows me, knows the connections. And we sit down for lunch and he’s like, yeah, there’s no chance. I was like, wait, what? He’s like, yeah, this is not a book, I mean, you’ll never sell this, like, this is nothing. And I was like. Wow. OK, well, thanks for lunch. That was quick. So I go see my other friend who manages another agency and he’s like I said, look, will you come with me to the meeting? Because I just want to, he’s like look, I’ve got to the top book agents in the world that work with me. They’re wonderful, good friends. So sure enough they’re reading through the book, they’ve got like dogeared and that little Post-it notes out there, I’m like, great. They did the work. As an older man and a younger woman, I mean I guess everyone is young to me, but she’s a younger woman. She’s like can I go first. I was like, yeah definitely, she’s like talks for, you know, that in the Peanuts was like, what I want. At some point it became wah wah wah wah wah bands like Holy Crap. I was like, hey, hold on one second. Let me see if I just I just want to make sure I heard you. You said I can’t write. This isn’t a book. Nobody will buy it. And even if someone was dumb enough to publish it, nobody would read it. Is that what you just said? She’s like, pretty much. I was like, so I’ve turned to the older guy and I say, hey, you know, do you feel the same way? He’s like I mean, everything except for the part about selling it because I could sell anything. Oh, man. So this is that bad that I’m in that category. Like I’ll sell it, but no promises. So I walked out, and he said, I’ll represent you. But I was like, no, thank you. Like, I really want someone to believe in me. And quite frankly, mindfulness and a vision for vulnerability and authenticity and things that I think this world needs. Like we need a voice. And so then I called my sister, my ex-sister-in-law, Stacy, and she’s a big-time Hollywood producer, agent, blah, blah, blah. Imagine this like Vin Diesel and Amy Adams and Johnny Knoxville, all these incredible people. She’s like, look, I’m going to put you in touch with one of my partners. He knows the best locations, like, you know, just sit with me, we’ll figure this out. And I was like, maybe I shouldn’t do it because you get that, like, I don’t know. It’s like the ultimate. I guess the ultimate expression of ego is writing a book like I have something to say that can help if that’s like, you know, I don’t see myself like that. Like, I don’t want to be that guy. I want to I want to help others but know. So I was starting to just recalibrate my thoughts. And I was like, maybe this is not meant to be like this is a cool thing that I can just give to my kids and they’ll know my stories. And she’s like, no no no, that’s ridiculous. And so she sets me up with Jan Miller, this incredible agent who actually discovered Steven Covey. She’s published 12 books. She’s like, Jan will love you, OK? She’s like, I don’t know if it’s a book or not, but she’s going to love you. And so, fortunately, her partner and she got on the phone and I went to go see Jen. And she’s like this right here, this is a book. This is work. And I was like, great, I’m open to it. She’s like, are you open to bringing in a writer to help you? I was like, yeah, I just I like I just literally want to help make a dent. I mean, that’s what I want to do. I want to move somebody and she’s like, oh, you’ll move more than one person and she was like this will move. Right. So she introduced me to a bunch of writers. And what’s interesting, Brilliant is like she gave me two sportswriters and one kind of general writer. And I was like, and this isn’t a sports book. So I know, I know. But like, I need to sell it. It is how I packaged it, and I was like, I just do not want to be a sports guy. I don’t. She’s like but that’s what you are like. But that’s not what this book is. She’s like, well, that’s a little complicated. I’m like, well, you know, Jay wrote a book. I mean, who’s the monk? Like, it’s by the way, the book is brilliant, no pun intended And she’s like, well, you know, everybody gets packaged a certain way. And so anyway, she was wonderful. She coached me through it and then ended up working with Michele Bender, who’s if anyone out there is writing a book and you need a writer, she is expensive. But Michelle had this great process. She spent like, man, I don’t know, five hours with me on the phone. I’m just talking to her. We’re face timing. But I was just like she’s like asking me questions. She’s like, tell me the story. So I said, I sent you all the stuff I had. You just read it. She says, no, I want you to tell me the story. And so I was like, OK, tell the story. And so by the sixth call, I was halfway through. She’s like, OK, I got it. I was like, what do you have? I have your voice. You have my what, you have my voice? yeah, well, now I can write that so it sounds like you and it was really cool because I had my like these three hundred pages and she’s got to narrow down and, and knock, had a bunch of stories and then tighten up the ones that can into a book. And it was really amazing to see the process of what a real professional does versus an amateur writer. And then she would, we would collaborate. I mean she’s a single mom in New York. And so she’d be sending me stuff at like two am “I just finished chapter three, I want you to read it. I want hard edits.” So I texted back like what’s a hard edit to read this, like you’re trying to get exactly where you want to go, like whatever you don’t like here. If you don’t like the way a word sounds stretched out, if you don’t like a sentence, if you don’t like the tone, if you don’t like the title, she said, this is your book. I’m here to enable you to get your message out. My job is to make that I was like, wow, this is awesome. So it’s a really cool process and went pretty fast at that point. So it’s all pretty busy.
Brilliant Miller [00:49:36] Yeah. What a gift to have somebody who is willing to invest the time and energy and has the talent to kind of internalize what you’ve written to the point that they get your voice and then serve you by helping you bring that to the world. That’s pretty cool.
Scott O’Neil [00:49:51] That’s pretty. And then would you do the audiobook as I mean, you’re in like I mean, normally go into a studio, but because it was covid, no studio. So I like some sound guy came and he set up a fake studio in my office in Newark and with like the soundproofing all around me. And meanwhile there are cars going by and he was like, wait, wait, stop it. We’re stopping every five minutes because a car was going by, because that’s what sense of the sound. And as I’m reading, it is the first time I have a listen to it. It’s really hard to listen to her own voice. But as I was listening to it, it was truly like my voice. My cadence is really, really kind of cool to see. So it was that part was something like getting an agent was like a kick in the teeth every two seconds and then having an agent and being like finding being comfortable enough to say like, hey, this is me. Like, what do we do about I’m in the sand now? I was like, I need help, but I don’t even know what to ask for. She did. That’s why I mean, she said like, hey, here’s three writers. One of these would be perfect for you. You need to talk to them. I did find the right person, but and then the promotion, you know, there’s no book tours anymore. So I’m just doing virtually. And there’s something about like. And it was cool like I have a GMA Good Morning America three, which was cool and I had CBS This Morning, I was like, pretty cool things to be on. I’ve done several podcasts which have done well. But I think there is something to being in person where you can actually find that mix. Yeah. So so it’s been like I don’t know like I don’t have any expectations. I don’t know. It’s hard to say. Like I’ve gotten, my mom loved it by the way, for whatever it’s worth, she thinks I’m a genius. But I’ve gotten notes from strangers to my LinkedIn and they have said I just listened to your audiobook, changed my life. I’m going to be a better father, better husband. I’m going to be better like that. When you get a note and I’ve gotten one hundred of them, it’s humbling. It’s like, you know, all the crap, all the hours, all the drive, all the push, all the work. Because I said it’s going to hit one. I’ve hit more than one. And that part was is pretty cool. And oh, by the way, to see how you keep talking, but when you walk into a bookstore and you see your book on a shelf. That’s about the coolest thing in the world like that, that imagine what it’s like. What was that movie with Ricky Gowans where he hears his radiant like he hears the record on the radio, whatever you like, or Jimmy danced like you hear that? Like I was like it was like that. I imagine that was the kind of feeling. And it one I went in and I was with my brother and he’s just like he hands me Margrethe’s like, sign the book. Like, I’m not going to sign a book. It’s like, I know you serious. Like, that would be cool. Like you go to my book, Your Savages, and I’m like, all right. So I was there just kind of funny. So I’ve run into an airport and popped into a couple of stores and seen them. And it’s like, you know, it was pretty it’s pretty humbling, to say the least.
Brilliant Miller [00:53:01] That is cool. I mean, the things between getting notes from readers that you didn’t even know, telling you the impact it had on their life, seeing your book in a bookstore, getting royalty checks is pretty cool, you know.
Scott O’Neil [00:53:14] Yeah. Yeah, that’s pretty good too
Brilliant Miller [00:53:16] even when they’re not the biggest. Right. But these are the things that I think people who feel called to write first, they just have like I think you did, they had something inside them that wanted to be expressed. Yeah. Then the path to get there and how big it is or how many people it reaches. I mean, all those are things that I think that can actually keep us from saying what it is we have to say. But your story I love this idea that you didn’t start with this grand ambition to be a best selling author or something you just wanted to share you wanted to make a difference and you have and it might be might be too early to say. And I know a lot of people only ever write one book. But you think you’ll do it again?
Scott O’Neil [00:53:59] I don’t know. I mean. I mean my wife and I got asked the other day to write something together. I thought that would be kind of cool, just doing someone who is totally different genres, more faith-based book. And I was like, that could be kind of cool. I don’t know, it’s a lot. It is a lot. It’s consuming. It takes years to it’s not like you see like these guys like James Patterson or punching out like six books a year. I’m like, who is this guy? Like, I can’t imagine. He must have a team of people that he’s collaborating with. And because I can’t even imagine how incredible that is, like it was it was a lot. I don’t I don’t think that’s what I’m meant to be. Or do I think this is a it’s a great moment in time. And and I hope the book lives and and sells. There was the other day a. I think it was one of the Mets, Yankees, or Mets, anyway, a bunch of people sent me this quote that one of the guys is like. Look, “I’m just trying to be where my feet are”, not a bunch of them sent me that like he read your book! And it’s kind of funny. So there’s stuff like that that happens. You just think like, hey, maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe people will just start to try to be more present and put the phone down and engage with the kids or just like being on the subway, just kind of get your head up and look around or walk into a meeting. We have these like no phone zones at work, or did. And we come in and check your phone in on the table. And I will tell you, the young people look at me like, hey, buddy, just because you used to like etch your notes into stone doesn’t mean we all have to. And I was like, grab a pen, you can do it, all sarcastic, but it’s not about like notes. It’s about the before and the after. And that’s what we’re missing. Like we’re missing the. “Hey, how was your weekend?” Hey, your kid had a soccer game, how’d it go? oh hey you drove down to Lake Powell. Does that incredible trip like that’s what we’re missing, and the work stuff too. Like you work on a project. Can I help you with something? We’re missing it all. And like what used to be that that work family is just becoming too transactional. And the transition to this, like now hybrid work environment, is just going to get harder. And so that’s why you want to talk about like my you can call it crazy genius or just insanity. One way I’m sure I’m walking on that line at times is like I FaceTime everybody. My wife laughs because I do it personally too. And she’s like, you can’t FaceTime people. They don’t want to see you. I’m like, they don’t want to see me, but I want to see that they’re paying attention as I do. And I want to know, like, are you with me or you’re not. Because if you’re not, don’t waste my time. Don’t waste your time. Just move on. Say it’s good, I gotta bounce. All good. And she’s like, but do you have to face time? I’m like, you know. And now Zoom is obviously become like part of who we are and part of our society is become a verb. And I think to the extent I know people have Zoom fatigue, blah blah blah, I’m like, yeah, no, I totally get you. But this is the way that we if we’re not going to be together, we need to be looking each other in the eyes and talking and communicating because, you know, the voice is what I don’t know, 20 percent of communication. Think about that. Right. So there’s so much nonverbal stuff that’s going on. Just want to make sure we’re all connected. And I think that’s part of being present.
Brilliant Miller [00:57:14] Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Well, I want to go ahead and transition us to the enlightening lightning around. Let’s do it. How are you doing?
Scott O’Neil [00:57:24] I’m loving it yet. OK, you make it so easy. I mean, you have a gift. I mean, this is no surprise you’re so successful at this.
Brilliant Miller [00:57:31] Thank you. I sure enjoy it. It’s one of my favorite things to do. So. OK, question number one. Please complete the following sentence with something other than, by the way, speaking of Forrest Gump, with something other than “a box of chocolates.” OK, life is like a…
Scott O’Neil [00:57:50] Roller coaster.
Brilliant Miller [00:57:52] All right. Question number two. Here I’m borrowing Peter Teal’s question, what important truth do very few people agree with you on?
Scott O’Neil [00:58:05] Reading your scriptures and getting on your knees and saying prayers every day will bring you some peace that you’re not accustomed to.
Brilliant Miller [00:58:12] OK, question number three, if you were required every day for the rest of your life to wear a T-shirt with a slogan on it or phrase or saying or quote or a quip, what would the shirt say?
Scott O’Neil [00:58:23] “I’m OK. You’re OK.”
Brilliant Miller [00:58:25] All right. Number four, what book, other than your own, have you gifted or recommended most often?
Scott O’Neil [00:58:34] There two think like a monk by Jay Shetty and Leadership and Self-Deception by the Arbinger Institute.
Brilliant Miller [00:58:41] Why those books?
Scott O’Neil [00:58:44] Think like a monk is it’s so connected to be where your feet are. It’s just he’s a better writer and a better storyteller and smarter. It’s a modern-day, he’s like a mindfulness version of Tony Robbins. He’s a he is a transformational person in society. His message is very much needed right now. It’s called Think Like a Monk, read the book, or listen to it. And leadership and self-deception is something I’ve had my staff read for my last three companies before they can start work they have to write me a note. And because it’s about treating people like people and not treating them as objects. And to me, that’s like a core principle as to how you create a wonderful place to work.
Brilliant Miller [00:59:38] Powerful. What what are you currently reading?
Scott O’Neil [01:00:58] “Wherever you go, there you are.” That’s next on my list. Yeah. So I’m very much into your space right now I’m very much into mindfulness and being present and finding inner peace and like packaging it in a way that people can understand that we have to get away from like the 70s version of it, because it exists in the 70s with the hippie movement like my foot, my folks were hippies. So it was like that movement was real. And then the eighties was a little bit more like kill or be killed. And let’s go to Wall Street and let’s make a lot of money. Greed is good and all that crap. And that bled into the 90s. And I think when we hit two thousand people start saying, like I want a little bit more out of life, like hatable, what are we? And I think what we’re searching for is, is some version of meaning and purpose. We need to find out why, like why we do what we do, why we exist, and then find some inner peace. All in a way to you know, I hate to like blend like secular phrases with such beauty, but like, how do you optimize yourself? Like, that’s how I think about it. And the way to optimize is to be grounded and to find your center and to be mindful and put that into the world in a way that people can use it and leverage it for good.
Brilliant Miller [01:02:30] I totally agree. Somebody, I interviewed a while back, was interested in what I thought was a super interesting model. And what you’re saying reminds me of it. I said, you know, for basically hundreds of thousands, if not millions of years, success on this planet for human beings was survival. It was literally just survival. And then it became material like you’re saying, wall street and let’s go make money and buy the BMW and take a vacation. And then it became experiential where it was got the stuff. And I’m not fulfilled, but maybe it’s base jumping or maybe it’s whatever. And then we realized even it wasn’t necessarily experiences, but it’s this whole thing that you’re saying about peace and centeredness and connectedness and meaning, maybe more intangible. But when you look at Maslow’s hierarchy and our lower-level needs get met, but we’re not fulfilled, and then we’re asking, you know, how do I achieve self-actualization or optimization or even transcendence that I don’t think we have a great way of talking about as a society. But we’re all experiencing and as you’ve already pointed out in this interview that the pandemic has just exacerbated this.
Scott O’Neil [01:03:38] Yeah, you said it. You said a lot more eloquently than I did. Like, I just keep telling my young ambitious friends, like, just remember, you get to the top of that mountain is like two things you’re going to find up there. One it’s freaking lonely. I said it’s fun to climb down the other side. It starts hiking up another one. Just remember, I just know that that’s what you’re doing and it’s OK. Like I’ve learned, like, I don’t know. I judge a lot less these days. You know, I root a lot more. I pray a lot more. I try to help a lot more. But the older I get the less I judge. I’ve made every mistake you could possibly make. I mean I’m sure there are more and I’ll continue to do it today and tomorrow. But I just found that you know, I don’t know, there’s there seems to be life. Life is better rooting for people and life is better. Helping others in life was better for me. Maybe that doesn’t work for everybody. But for me, finding that that way to I guess move on to that same phase that my you know, my coach talked about away from the war. And I’m nowhere near the warrior I was. But I but I’ve definitely found my own happiness in helping others realize their dreams and finding that peace that I have them and recognizing that we’re imperfect souls to like that, that alone, just recognizing when you get older you like, it’s kind of like moving from middle school to high school. Right. In middle school, it’s a train wreck, you know, because kids, the boys can’t carry boys can’t string two sentences together. Middle school and the girls are worried about and concerned about everything and everybody other than just being OK. They get to high school. I was kind of like, man, you know, I’m OK. You’re OK. You know, hey, we’ll do our thing. We kind of like break off into little groups and, you know, maybe a senior year we come together, but everything’s fine. I find that like adults, you know, you get to get to a certain point and you you understand your flaws. It’s not like you’re accepting. It’s just that, you know like we’re vulnerable. We’re we’re human. We’re we’re fallible. We’ll make mistakes. But you just know, like, hey, OK, I have a little bit I want to aspire to be better. I know what I need to do to live my best life and stay on that two by four I talked about it. Sometimes I don’t end up in the sand and hopefully, I’ll raise my hand and get help and get back on. And I’ma do the best I can to to help others and leave the world better.
Brilliant Miller [01:06:10] It’s a beautiful perspective. Awesome. All right, we’re going to keep going through the Enlightening lightning round, here we go. Question number five relates to travel. So you have traveled a lot in your life. What’s one thing you do when you travel or something you take with you to make your travel less painful or more enjoyable?
Scott O’Neil [01:06:29] I overpack, so I’m one of those over packers, so I will never be short on clothes, that’s what I do.
Brilliant Miller [01:06:40] Number six, what’s one thing you’ve started or stopped doing in order to live or age well?
Scott O’Neil [01:06:47] Peleton, exercise, get my body right. Covid started, day two I ordered a peloton bike. I ride for forty-five minutes a day. It’s taken 15 pounds off my body, two inches off my waistline. And I sweat like i’m in a sauna. So that’s definitely what I started. That’s awesome. I eat a lot of chocolate chip cookies, too, for whatever it’s worth.
Brilliant Miller [01:07:15] Probably not while you’re on the peloton,
Scott O’Neil [01:07:17] just after
Brilliant Miller [01:07:18] you earn it. My wife bought a peloton and I haven’t been on it.
Scott O’Neil [01:07:24] I’m telling you it is. And I don’t listen to the coaches anymore. And they’re wonderful. I’m sure they do a wonderful job, but I just watch a Netflix show because I know the output. I want to know is what I want. But it is you can’t get I don’t know how you get a sweat like that anywhere else in your track.
Brilliant Miller [01:07:42] Do you wear the shoes? Did you buy those?
Scott O’Neil [01:07:45] I do. But once you get used to like you click them off. I had a problem like the first three times I did it. After that I was fine. It’s just a little like it’s almost like the opposite of a Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz where she just wants to go home. Click So she was just looking the other way. You pop right out of there. But it’s the sweat.
Brilliant Miller [01:08:05] All right. This podcast is, I’m committing to things here that’s go attitude thing. And I’m going to buy the shoe. I’m going to try the peloton. Look awesome. OK, question number seven. What’s one thing you wish every American knew?
Scott O’Neil [01:08:22] I wish they knew that they’re curating their own media and they’re polarizing this country. And that we need to do a much better job of understanding the middle, and the facts and less crap.
Brilliant Miller [01:08:42] All right, question number eight. What’s the most important or useful thing you’ve ever learned about making relationships work?
Scott O’Neil [01:08:54] I just learned one the other day from my friend Ben. He said that he asks one question when his wife comes in hot. Am I listening or am I solving? Isn’t that great, that is great.gotta Because I’m a problem solver now, I have compensable, I was like, OK, no, no, no, no. I’m like, no, no. So the first question you ask is am I listening or am I solving.
Brilliant Miller [01:09:49] All right. Question number nine. This one’s about money. So aside from compound interest, what’s the most important or useful thing you’ve ever learned about money?
Scott O’Neil [01:10:07] Boy, I would say a penny saved is a penny earned. Ben Franklin, right? Yes. I’m trying to think of this book, I’ve been reading it, there’s a book called “The Psychology of Money.” Have you read it?
Brilliant Miller [01:10:25] Oh yeah. Morgan Housel. I’ve interviewed him for the show.
Scott O’Neil [01:10:28] I’m going to listen to that. It’s a Brilliant book. I’ve given out that when you say the first two books I’ve given up, that’s the third one. I’ve probably given a hundred copies of that book, I think. That’s it. It is flat-out – Brilliant, that should be required reading for every college student.
Brilliant Miller [01:10:45] That whole story that he opens with about skipping the gold coins,
Scott O’Neil [01:10:49] it’s amazing, how about like, hey, this banker is living in Greenwich, he’s got this big house and you got the other guy working at a gas station and he talks about the guy at the gas station who dies and gives two million dollars to the local hospital four million dollars to each of his kids and the guy in the big mansion, two thousand eight loses everything. Right. I love I love it. Love, love, love, love, love that book.
Brilliant Miller [01:11:16] And at the end, when he gave kind of the condensed history of the economics of the United States.
Scott O’Neil [01:11:22] It’s unbelievable. It’s awesome. Yeah. It’s fantastic. Brilliant. Brilliant book. I can’t wait to listen to that episode.
Brilliant Miller [01:11:28] Yeah, OK. So just a few more questions, but I’ll ask this here to make sure we get it in if people want to learn more from you or they want to connect with you. What would you have them do,
Scott O’Neil [01:11:40] go to LinkedIn or Twitter and get me there. Scott O’Neil on both.
Brilliant Miller [01:11:46] And as an expression of gratitude to you for sharing so generously of your knowledge and your experience, one thing I’ve done is I’ve gone online to the microlensing site Kiva.org and I’ve made a microloan. I won’t earn any interest in this. It’ll go to the organization to help them fund more of these microloans. But it’s to a woman in Liberia. She’s twenty-four years old. She has five kids. She’s going to use this money. Oh, and by the way, she went to school only up through seventh grade, but she’ll use this money to buy cucumbers, oranges, grapes, apples, and bananas to sell and thereby improve the quality of life in her community and for herself and her family. So thank you for giving me a reason to do that.
Scott O’Neil [01:12:24] Oh, that’s so humbling. Thank you very much, that made my day. I appreciate you changing the world.
Brilliant Miller [01:12:30] My pleasure. I love to think that our conversation will do good far beyond what we know. I hope it does. I think it will. So. OK, well, Scott, we’ve covered so much about work, about writing, about mindfulness. What, if anything, haven’t we talked about that you want to talk about or you think might be of benefit to anyone listening?
Scott O’Neil [01:12:54] Well, I have another story from my trip to Mozambique that I want to share. It’s about semantics and I think this is really applicable for your group. So, you know, I’ve never made cement before. I don’t know if you have, but in the US they just have these big bags, one hundred pound bag that make it quickly and just pour down, just add water and you have concrete. So we didn’t have that, so we had just huge bags of cement and, you know, see my little hundred-pound daughter carrying these hundred ten bags, pound bags. It was kind of like a way to go. OK, but anyway, we’re walking like one hundred yards, these heavy bags and we knock them down. We have to add sand in this mix up the sand, then you add water. And I thought the process was just fascinating to see. And I said water. And you have people just breaking with big heavy shovels. And then you get the right mix and you just dump it into the wheelbarrow that I was carrying. And I think about that for each of us in terms of the water, because that’s the magic ingredient. And so if you add too much water, cement’s worthless, it just washes away rolls and eventually will try and wreck your lawn. And if you don’t get enough water, it’s going to crumble up and it’s not usable effectively like cement in a wheelbarrow. And to me, that’s like our life. And so I guess my parting thought would be is like, what are you adding too much water to in your life? Is a social media is it playing video games? Is it Netflix bingeing? Is it I don’t know the baking of the 19th cake this week, all of which I’ve seen in my house. And what aren’t you adding enough water to that you might think about adding more water to it. Maybe that’s meditation, or maybe that’s curling up in bed and reading a new book. Stretch your mind a little bit. Maybe that’s you hopping on the peloton and getting your twenty minutes of heart rate going again. Maybe that’s your gratitude. I mean, whatever, whatever those are. But I love it. Analogously, for all of us to be thinking about what we’re adding, water, too much water too. And what are we adding enough water to?
Brilliant Miller [01:15:11] What a great way to visualize that idea. And what a wonderful question. Scott, I have really enjoyed getting to know you through reading your book, through this conversation that we’ve had. I’m really glad you wrote it. I hope everyone listening reads it if they haven’t already. And I don’t know when or where our paths will cross again, but I know they will and I’ll look forward to the time that they do.
Scott O’Neil [01:15:38] I’m looking forward to that as well. Once again, I just want to say thank you for the for the platform for sure, but more importantly, for continuing to to bring a message of positivity and hope and mindfulness into the world. We need it more than ever. So thank you all. Thank.
Brilliant Miller [01:16:00] Hey, thanks so much for listening to this episode of the School for the Living podcast before you take off. I want to extend an invitation to you. Despite living in an age where we have more comforts and conveniences than ever before, life still isn’t working for many people, whether it’s here in the developed world where we deal with depression, anxiety, loneliness, addiction, divorce, unfulfilling jobs or relationships that don’t work, or in the developing world where so many people still don’t have access to basic things like clean water or sanitation or health care or education in conflict zones. There are a lot of people on this planet that life isn’t working very well for. If you’re one of those people or even if your life is working, but you have the sense that it could work better. Consider signing up for the School for Good Livings Transformational Coaching Program. It’s something I’ve designed to help you navigate the transitions that we all go through, whether you’ve just graduated or you’ve gone through a divorce or you’ve gotten married, headed into retirement, starting a business, been married for a long time, whatever. No matter where you are in life, this nine month program will give you the opportunity to go deep in every area of your life to explore life’s big questions, to create answers for yourself in a community of other growth minded individuals. And it can help you get clarity and be accountable. To realize more of your unrealized potential can also help you find and maintain motivation. In short, is designed to help you live with greater health, happiness and meaning so that you can be, do, have and give more. Visit goodliving.com to learn more or to sign up today.
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