Hello my friends, today I am so pleased to share with you a conversation I just had with Greg McKeon, author of the New York Times bestseller, Essentialism, The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. Greg is an amazing thinker and teacher. He’s taught at companies that include Apple, Google, Facebook, Salesforce, Linkedin, Semantic, Twitter, VMware, and he was recently named a young global leader by the World Economic Forum. He just moved to southern California. He’s got four kids. He has an MBA from Stanford University. He is truly wise beyond his years. In this conversation, he shares about a lot of things including culture; he says it’s the one thing you can’t lie about it in an organization, talks about leadership, things that he’s learned in his career as a consultant and as an advisor to some of the world’s leading companies. Talks about we’re always leading all the time. He gives some insight into how to do that more effectively. He breaks down, of course, the philosophy of the essentialist, which I will leave it to you to hear directly from him, but he talks about it as a contrast to the default setting. For almost everyone who is non-essentialist. He talks about developing the gift of discernment, filling your mind with light, the power and value of thinking. I love one of the things he says when you’re reading, you’re thinking with someone else’s mind, so we explore a bit of time talking about books, how to choose them, how to make the most of them. Greg talks about the power of cumulative consistency, celebrating what’s right, and he also talks about creating residual streams of goodness. So I’m so excited for you to hear this conversation. If you haven’t read Essentialism, I highly recommend you do. There were about a half dozen people who told me how much it had impacted them before I finally got around to reading it myself. If you haven’t read it, I think you’ll find many great ideas that you’ll love and I think you’ll love this conversation. So, with no further words for me, please enjoy my conversation with Greg McKeown. Greg, welcome to the School for Good Living Podcast.
00:05:43 – Touring with Beauty and the Beast.
00:07:28 – Lessons learned traveling around America.
00:10:55 – Everyone has a certain leadership skill.
00:17:06 – A big question.
00:24:00 – Putting your all into a failed business plan.
00:29:02 – How can we get clear?
00:35:51 – Greg’s journaling.
00:39:52 – The gift of discernment.
00:45:44 – Advice on reading the best books.
00:57:12 – How do you live essentialism where you have limited control?
01:04:22 – Lightning round of questions.
01:27:17 – Anticipating the success of your book.
01:39:46 – People don’t buy what they need–they buy what they want.
01:50:36 – Writing words of encouragement.
Essentialism, The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
Beauty and the Beast touring show
EO, The Entrepreneurs Organization
The Surrender Experiment: My Journey into Life’s Perfection by Michael Singer
John Adams, by David McCullough
Jenkin Lloyd Jones Quote about what life is like.
The Book of Mormon
The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Chicken Soup for the Soul
Life’s Best Practices Guided Coaching Program
BRYAN: 00:00:40 Hello my friends, today I am so pleased to share with you a conversation I just had with Greg McKeon, author of the New York Times best seller, Essentialism, The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. Greg is an amazing thinker and teacher. He’s taught at companies that include Apple, Google, Facebook, Salesforce, Linkedin, Semantic, Twitter, VMware, and he was recently named a young global leader by the World Economic Forum. He just moved to southern California. He’s got four kids. He has an MBA from Stanford University. He is truly wise beyond his years. In this conversation, he shares about a lot of things including culture; he says it’s the one thing you can’t lie about it in organization, talks about leadership, things that he’s learned in his career as a consultant and as an advisor to some of the world’s leading companies. Talks about we’re always leading all the time. He gives some insight into how to do that more effectively. He breaks down, of course, the philosophy of the essentialist, which I will leave it to you to hear directly from him, but he talks about it as a contrast to the default setting. For almost everyone who are non essentialist. He talks about developing the gift of discernment, filling your mind with light, the power and value of thinking. I love one of the things he says when you’re reading, you’re thinking with someone else’s mind, so we explore a bit of time talking about books, how to choose them, how to make the most of them. Greg talks about the power of cumulative consistency, celebrating what’s right, and he also talks about creating residual streams of goodness. So I’m so excited for you to hear this conversation. If you haven’t read Essentialism, I highly recommend you do. There were about a half dozen people who told me how much it had impacted them before I finally got around to reading it myself. If you haven’t read it, I think you’ll find many great ideas that you’ll love and I think you’ll love this conversation. So, with no further words for me, please enjoy my conversation with Greg McKeown. Greg, welcome to the school for good living podcast.
GREG: 00:02:46 It’s great to be with you.
BRYAN: 00:02:48 Thank you. I have a brother named Greg. He’s my oldest brother. He’s the oldest. I’m the youngest.
GREG: 00:02:55 Hold on. You’re the youngest?
BRYAN: 00:02:57 That’s right. Youngest of five.
GREG: 00:02:59 I’m youngest of five too.
BRYAN: 00:03:03 How many girls?
GREG: 00:03:04 Four boys. One girl.
BRYAN: 00:03:06 Same here.
GREG: 00:03:08 No. Where does the girl fit in?
BRYAN: 00:03:12 Second. Youngest. Second from… She’s just older than me.
GREG: 00:03:17 It’s the same.
BRYAN: 00:03:19 Are you serious? That is wild. Holy Cow.
GREG: 00:03:24 My oldest sister and brother right up from me. So second third, youngest are twins, but she, she came out second. So. What’s the, what’s the age gap?
BRYAN: 00:03:39 So oldest is about 12 years older than me.
GREG: 00:03:43 Okay. In my case it’s eight years.
BRYAN: 00:03:46 So. Wow. Your family was… busy.
GREG: 00:03:50 It’s tightly connected. So we have to have like we have to have a club, we have to have a club for youngest people in the world. That’s what I think. Because of course everybody says that the youngest is spoiled. And even if you say that to an oldest person in the family, they will say yes, of course that is true. But they don’t. They. This is an underappreciated challenge to be the youngest. That’s what I think.
BRYAN: 00:04:15 I think so. And I, I often think of. I don’t remember who the comedian was that talked about, you know, the first is the one that the parents are so worried about and stringent and there’s all these rules and expectations and by the time you get to the youngest it’s kind of like no coke in the living room and don’t set anything on fire.
GREG: 00:04:34 That’s true, that’s the upside. The downside is it doesn’t… it doesn’t really matter what you will achieve at least in the early days because everyone’s already passed that phase so it doesn’t matter anymore the exams and so at least that’s how it felt for me. Was that how it was for you?
BRYAN: 00:04:54 You know, for me, not so much. I mean my parents were always very supportive of each of us doing whatever we wanted, so we weren’t really the kind of family that was like, you got to be top of the class, you got to make the football team or whatever. So I don’t think I had that experience.
GREG: 00:05:11 Well, I agree with that. My experience was also that way. There wasn’t pressure to perform. It was just, at the time I was taking exams that made the big exams in England, everyone else was onto the next thing. So it didn’t matter as much anymore. At least it appeared to. And so I did… I did decently well and uh, and, and it was just never, it just never. It just seemed like a, I don’t know enough about enough about my family of origin, we better stop while we get while we’re ahead.
BRYAN: 00:05:43 Well, let me ask you this, I’m talking about family. I understand that you toured when your wife was a part of Beauty and the Beast that you went around the country or maybe the world with Disney. Is that, is that right? And if, will you tell me a little bit about what that was like?
GREG: 00:06:00 It was my crash course in Americana. As you rightly say, my wife Anna was the understudy in the national tour of Beauty and the Beast, uh, which is a big deal. And so it means that she performed as Bell to 40 times or something like that in that year and, uh, performed in the show 300 times, which means I have heard or seen part of, I don’t think we’re not 300, but it is exceedingly many times. Um, uh, seeing the show and we went to 20 as I remember, 26 cities in that year, so all across North America. And uh, we went, we went to places that even now I’ve never gone back to despite having pursued a career that, that, uh, that does include, you know, a lot of travel throughout the world and also in North America. So I traveled to 40 or 50 times a year speaking at conferences, uh, and companies but still haven’t gone back to Lubbock, Texas for example. More is the pity. Uh, but, but we went there and, uh, and, and, and just traveled all around. It was a marvelous first year of, of, of our marriage.
BRYAN: 00:07:21 What, what did you learn about America? What were, what were some of your impressions and what stayed with you from that?
GREG: 00:07:28 Um, well, that’s an interesting question. I, that means I don’t know that I have a good answer. Um, the, you know, I was struck by certain places certain places had and I won’t say where because it just doesn’t seem quite quite right, but it seemed tremendously underdeveloped and I don’t mean Lubbock, Texas, we’re having just mentioned that is the only name that I’ve mentioned, but there were places that seemed almost not part of the rest of America almost, uh, like, uh, described it at the time and it’s almost second world-ish in, you know, the, the, the roads weren’t working that something wasn’t working there. So even though you’re in the United States, even though you are, in the middle of all of this, uh, this prosperity and success, something wasn’t working there. And, and, and I at least have, have hypothesized that what was going on was it was a different approach to leadership. I mean, you could even sense that, that there was something that, that may be very unwise choices. Even worse than that, very low little all darkness in high places that had meant that underneath in those areas, you know, maybe maybe sort of the edge of corruption or just corruption. I mean, there was, there was that sort of feeling in certain places. So, so when you see places in quick succession, you can have an immediate sense of them. And even now I feel like the same observation can be made when I’m working with organizations that, um, that you, you walk in and the thing you can’t lie about in organizations, the thing you can’t,is the culture. That’s what I think the culture is. It’s what, it’s what you cannot put away. It’s what you can’t hide anywhere. It is always on display. And so you can walk into… walk into some organizations, some rooms and there’s much energy and light and positivity for each other and for learning and for, and then some of the groups, it is silent dead, uh, other groups. There’s a, there’s a sort of a cynicism kind of harshness with each other and all of these things you can’t hide. Uh, the, the, the natural consequences of other decisions and other investments. So I observed that when we were traveling, uh, and uh, and, and observed also continuing through now into the work that I’ve done in organizations.
BRYAN: 00:10:15 You know, I think what you’re talking about about leadership and how culture is the one thing you can’t lie about in an organization. Um, I’m glad you brought up leadership. It’s something I want to ask you about. I understand that in your career you’ve done a lot of work around assessing leaders and developing leaders and, one of the things I want to, I want to ask about first is if you’ll talk a little bit about what your work in that in that realm has been. And then I want to ask a little bit about how like, what makes a great leader and are leaders born or made? Will you say a little bit about that?
GREG: 00:10:55 Yeah. I think that leadership is something everybody can… everybody has a certain leadership skill, talent capability from the outset and, but everybody can develop significantly from that point. And so, uh, so maybe, maybe you’re not likely to have somebody who’s a terrible leader, become a truly great leader perhaps, but, uh, but I think anyone can develop, can develop a standard deviation or two over become a, become a better leader. Uh, I mean, I think that all of us, all of us are leading all the time. So, so the question is whether we are doing that consciously rather than compulsively and whether we’re, whether we’re taking people in the right direction or in some other direction. I mean there’s this sort of assumption when you used the word leadership in some circles that leadership is inherently positive. Oh, we’ve got to develop leaders in our organization. And I always think you must put a word before, what kind of leadership do you want? Because everybody’s leading and leadership is influence. Leadership is trying to take someone from point a to point b. and we’re all doing that all of the time. We’re trying to get even the minorist ideas, right? Let’s eat at this place versus that place that’s a, you know, I’m sending you an email. I want you to do something. I mean, all of this is leadership. It’s influence. So the question is how do we, how do we develop, um, the, the right kind of leadership for this time and situation, how do we develop the kind of leadership necessary to help in these conditions? So to me that’s, that’s always been the most interesting question around leadership. What type of leadership is most relevant? Now, you look at a Winston Churchill in England and yeah, he’s a political pariah prior to the Second World War, his, his, his views on Hitler, on what’s going on in Germany at the time. His, his, his… is way out to the mainstream and his stylistically, he’s out of the mainstream. Uh, you know, he has all these character peccadilloes that they made him unusual and all of that is, I mean he surely the same basic thing then as he is a year later, once suddenly his particular understanding of the world and his particular approach to leading is suddenly drawn into the highest relevancy. And so, and, and, and, and of course it goes on beyond that, after the war, those particular skills don’t seem to be as relevant anymore. And he’s, you know, he’s thrown out of office and because despite being this great war hero, uh, he’s, uh, it’s no longer what people need. And so in a similar way, I’m always curious and looking for, well, in these conditions that we are in today, what is the kind of leader you’d need, what, what is going to help now? And uh, and, and so this is one of the reasons that I am so taken and said, well, I went onto, uh, the, the new type of leader, uh, an Essentialist list because I think in this environment, in a cultural environment where we… so very many of us feel busy but not productive, stretched too thin at work or at home feeling like are they, is being constantly hijacked by other people’s agenda, whether through email or tweets or updates and news or just a phone calls and texts. And so on. Just constant disruption and interruption. In that environment, what’s the kind, what kind of leader is needed? And I think that, uh, in, in a different time and place, it might not be an Essentialist, that might not be really the thing. There’s other principles of leadership that really matter, but I think in this environment, this has the power of relevancy and in a sense I’ve been a little bit lucky about that because that’s why I think the book has, has done as well as it’s done and continues to outperform expectations is because it’s the environment that makes it relevant that says this, this is an idea whose time has come.
BRYAN: 00:16:08 Yeah, I think you’re right on. And, you know, your book just is… I first read it two and a half or three years ago and it made an impact on me then, um, and it, it just keeps coming up for me. You know, I’m a member of Eo, the Entrepreneurs’ Organization and we just had a couple of new members join our chapter here. And so they did their all day training Wednesday and I mentioned that I’d be talking with you and they shared that Essentialism was a topic of discussion, you know, in there in that chapter trading and being clear about what’s important and, and having the discipline to pursue it. And I have, um, I have a couple other friends that when they learned that I’d be talking with you, they, they had a couple of questions they wanted me to be sure that I asked. I think you’re right. Is really just resonant right now. One of the things I want to ask…
GREG: 00:17:04 What did they want you to ask?
BRYAN: 00:17:06 Well, one of the things is this paradox between letting go, like being a yes to life, you know? Like kind of the ethos in um, Singers the Surrender Experiment, right? Like being open to possibility, you know, accepting whatever life offers and yet being really clear about what you’re committed to and what’s most important, how to balance that. In fact, the question as it’s written: how does one live a life free of burden of expectation while still holding growth and expansion as values and not turn down opportunities that could lead to transformational change? It’s kind of a big question.
GREG: 00:17:51 Who came up with that question?
BRYAN: 00:17:53 This is John Brown at Cents of Style.
GREG: 00:17:56 So John Brown wrote that question verbatim.
BRYAN: 00:18:00 That was it. I read it exactly as to me…
GREG: 00:18:04 John, John… yeah, so the, there’s a, there’s a tension there, isn’t there? Um, and we don’t want, we don’t want to resolve that tension. We meaning we don’t want to get rid of it. There are dualities in life. And if you try and take one piece of it without the other piece, you end up with something very false. So if you take the two pieces, he’s saying, for example, how do you live a life sort of free of burden or unhelpful burden, but on the other open… leaning in to growth and challenge. You don’t want to take either of those separately. Like if somebody just says, okay, I want to live a life completely free of all responsibility and burdens, that is not going to end up being a satisfying life. That’s it. You just drifting through life. But on the other hand, if everything is always… must grow, must add, must challenge, then that too will become the person that does that will? Will end up, um, you know, destroying the asset that is them. It happened to a friend of mine and I wrote about it in Essentialism, so true story, uh, he was doing incredible contribution, making great contribution, traveling all over the world and then didn’t notice that it was siphoning off more and more of his deep reservoir of energy and, and discernment until the point that by the time he noticed, he goes to the doctor’s just going, okay, something’s clearly off. Doctor said, okay, we’ll go home you to really need to rest a lot, um, to be able to try and work out what’s going on. And also start to, to put back these depleted resources. He said, okay, I think the doctor said to us, you’re going to need six weeks off… ahhhh, I’m, I’m such a driver, I just need two weeks. You watch this, I’ll be back. Well, he went, started sleeping and he almost stopped. Never stopped sleeping. Sixteen hours a day of sleep, just constant sleep. Eventually two weeks. He just crawled back to doctor who says, okay, I get it. I, I can see now that my body’s taking over and reclaiming a, you know, what sort of rightfully belongs to it. And, and so in the end it took him like years of recuperation and his lesson from all of it was this, protect the assets you’ve got to protect the asset. That’s a powerful phrase that set, that was expensive to learn that for him. And we can learn it. We can benefit from that, uh, from that insight. So I think that actually that principal catches the tension. You want to make a contribution. Essentialism is not about just saying no, it’s, I didn’t write a book called No-ism. Essentialism is not about doing less for the sake of less. It’s about making your highest and best contribution in life. And in order to do that, you must protect the asset. So it’s this happy tension between protecting the asset, today’s you sleeping, uh, creating space to look at your life rather than just constantly reacting to it. Planning daily, weekly, quarterly, having a personal quarterly offsite so that you can really see where your life is going. All of that is in the first category, and the second is you do the first in order to make the best and highest contribution you can make so that you can live fulfilled, complete your essential mission in life, so it’s, it’s the perpetual disciplined pursuit of both of those things and it’s built into the model of Essentialism because Essential really has really three parts to it is, create space to explore what is essential, explore, eliminate what’s not essential so that you can then build a system that makes it as effortless as possible to complete what is essential. So back to his question, you got to explore so that you aren’t just doing what other people have told you to do. You aren’t just doing what everyone else is doing. That’s not you, that’s just going along. It’s the fear of missing out. FOMO. So you got to. You’ve got to pause. Look at all of what people are doing. Fine, look at everything that you’re doing. Look at all the ideas you have explored broadly, deeply, boldly, but then become really selective from it so you aren’t just doing what other people are doing for the sake of because they’re doing it. And in that you actually start to discover the joy of missing out, or JOMO, because you start to say, I’m pursuing a particular strategy that is helping me to utilize at my highest point of contribution. And then you can start building your own system, your own, uh, machine, uh, for continually producing the results that you have identified as being the most important, the most valuable.
BRYAN: 00:24:00 That’s such a huge. That’s such a huge insight. And I remember when I was working inside our family business that I got to a point where I just felt defeated at the end of every day trying to make a motorsports park. My Dad built with no business plan profitable and we ran it for a decade before we, we, we threw in the towel on that. But every day was just disappointment and anger and sadness and frustration. And I remember one night on a walk with my wife, that what I got clear was even though I might not produce the result I wanted, if at the end of every day I could say I focused on the most important things and I use my time as well as I could. How could I possibly be upset with myself if there was something more important, I would have done it. If I had more time I would have used it. And that’s what I’m hearing in what you’re saying. And that really was. And you know, honestly, I think that was about the time I read your book that it made, and I hadn’t connected it, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that that shift happened in my life around the same time. So it’s really beautiful, beautiful thing you’re pointing to.
GREG: 00:25:06 Well, and it’s something that you, something you made me think about it at least is just the importance of permission, I think essentialism the book in more, more importantly, the philosophy, right? I mean, I’m just naming when I came up with the term essentialism is just trying to name something that of course predates it. Um, and I think in, in the essentialism there is inherent permission to not do what you’ve been doing that most people know, logically, you could make a different choice that you don’t have to do what you’re doing. Most people know that, that, that it is factually true, that you can choose not to do what you’re doing, but practically and emotionally I think that they really do not know that they could do something different. It doesn’t really do believe that it does not feel that way. And so if it doesn’t feel that way and doesn’t seem that way, then practically it is not that way for someone. And so you actually have to introduce permission, not permission from their boss, not permission from… Although all those things could help. Um, but, but permission just so that the idea becomes renewed within them. I can make a different choice. I do not have to do what I’ve been doing in the past. They do have to hold on to those ideas. I can choose a different way, a different path, and, and that has to happen for people to become an essentialist because non essentialism is so pervasive now.
GREG: 00:27:00 It is a default setting for almost everybody in the developed country that, that there is so much noise. There’s so much interruption. There is so many options. There is so much noise that you, if you just look around or what’s everyone else doing, your… which we do even even, not consciously, we’re just, we’re, we’re, we’re, we’re, um, I mean humans. Everything we learned at first, we learn by copying and I don’t think that changes very much as we go through our lives. It’s, that is, that’s how we learn things, right? That’s how we learned language. That’s how we learned to walk. We’re watching around how people do it and then we try and start doing it. It’s a very, um, it’s a, it’s, it’s a copyism. So that continues into a high school and continued into college, continues into workplace environment so of other people are behaving a certain way.
GREG: 00:27:55 We’re going to start behaving that way. That is the default and the default today is all this endless business and so on. That’s what people observe other people doing, so if they take the path of least resistance, they will wake up as a non essentialist and they will have followed a path strategy that I think most people would not deliberately choose that because it’s default. They just find that they’re just doing it. They don’t even think that they’re. Well. There are two options that can be an essentialist or a non essentialist. I’ll be a non essentialist. It’s not like that, and so once you can introduce this language, that is. That’s right. In some ways the most important contribution of of essentialism is you give people language. They can talk about this so they begin to conceptualize what might be a different part. The way of the essentialist is an alternative like I could. I could make a different choice. I could become an essentialist and start thinking about my life in a completely different way than I have been previously, and that’s when I think the subject starts to become exciting.
BRYAN: 00:29:02 I totally agree with you. One thing, one thing I’d love to get your perspective about in this conversation, I know you talked about this in your book, but for those listening or maybe who haven’t read it, so it’s one thing to talk about focus, you know, on the the important few like can do it deliberately and this the disciplined pursuit of less but better, but as a practical matter, how, how can people know, like how can they, how can they be clear? I mean I as a coach, I talked to so many people who don’t know what they want, right? Like how can people find out what it is they want before they know, because that seems like such an component of what you’re talking about doing. How can we get clear? Like how can we, whatever. I mean is it listening to your heart? Is it, you know, being guided by your inner child, your higher self is like how do people do it and how do they know when they’ve done it and they’re not just like diluting themselves or they’re not going to want something different tomorrow. You know, that kind of thing.
GREG: 00:30:02 Um, well there’s two questions and one is, one is how to, how to discover it, and the second is how to know once you have discovered it, right, there’s the, you know, so how do you, how do you find it and how do you recognize it? Once you have those, those are two different things. The how to find it, is it, well, let’s start with what it’s not. It is not an undisciplined pursuit of what everyone else is doing. It’s not just going along similarly, it’s not going along with what everybody else is doing without really thinking about it. And once a year, a decade going to some workshop somewhere, having some conversation with somebody and going, well, what do I really want? This is necessary, fine, but totally insufficient because the path to finding this kind of clarity it is that this is the work of life. So it’s a perpetual disciplined, pursuit. It’s a pursuit, a continual pursuit. So I think in some ways, in some ways, there’s only two kinds of people in the world. There are people who are lost. That’s the non essentialist. And then there are people who know they are lost and that’s the essentialist and the difference it makes all the difference in the world. Because if you wake up and you know your last, if you know you don’t really know what to do, then you start to do all the right things. You start to say, well, okay, well where am I? Okay, well let’s start to start to keep a journal. Okay, this is what’s going on in my life. And you start saying, okay, well where am I coming from it over time you can start doing that with where do you generally go back and read it? Well, what it has been going on. What? What have I been learning? What was connecting the dots? Okay, so then where do I want to go in the future? And, and suddenly you’re not.
GREG: 00:32:19 You’re asking the right questions. As soon as you admit you’re lost, you start to ask the right questions. And it’s none of it’s actually rocket science, right? None of this is actually that complex. It doesn’t strike me as that complex anyway. Where am I? Where have I been? Where do I want to go? But the discipline to people asking it every day, every week, every quarter constantly is a perpetual. It is the work. It’s the work of life that’s the, that’s the way that’s the path. So, so I don’t feel like I don’t feel like I have in my own life any special um a, you know, ability in this area. I feel like I just work so much harder on these questions than what I observe other people doing. So it’s just nonstop is to me, it’s what’s the best use of me, what’s the most important thing I could do? What’s the most important thing I could do next? What’s the most valuable thing I could do today? Let’s just keep asking it. Let’s keep. You got to be in the process of asking these questions constantly or you would just get pulled into the alternative path and, and, and the risk of that is the cost of that is very high I think because then you end up living pursuing a strategy you wouldn’t have pursued or you don’t want to pursue. And it ended up with the results she didn’t want to get. So yeah.
BRYAN: 00:33:51 Well I love what you’re saying that that is the work of life and that totally resonates with me. And at the same time, what I see is I think our culture as a society, we’re so, we’re so mind oriented where we’re intellectual, we were drawn to the empirical. If we can’t repeat it or observe it, it’s not, you know, true or whatever. I mean. So what I’m wondering is how do you balance them this intellectual exercise, which is, it is, if we’re asking and answering questions using our minds with the intuitive or the emotional faculties we have as well. How do you, how do you balance that?
GREG: 00:34:35 Well, that leads us to the second part of the question and the answer is how do you know when you get there? Um, I mean, I, I actually don’t think, although I think, I don’t think that asking questions, asking the right questions is intellectual only. In fact I am. I feel confident of that. The right you can ask. You can ask questions just intellectually and just get intellectual answers. And I think that means you’re not asking the right questions to ask the right questions. You do need to be tapping into both mind and heart. You wake up in the morning the default questions that are very intellectual questions that will take somebody completely off path, uh, but you, you got to listen to conscience. You’ve got to be able to educate and then to be able to recognize the voice of conscience guiding you, speaking to you. I think it’s always available, but you have to tap into it. And so one of the things I think is absolute must, I already told you about journaling and we can talk more about that. I, I, I, now, I now never miss. So I don’t think I’ve missed a day in seven and a half years, something like that.
BRYAN: 00:35:51 What is your journaling practice currently look like?
GREG: 00:35:55 Um, it’s, uh, I, I frame everything literally every entry through the gratitude lens. Um, so every, everything begins with, I’m thankful for. Even if it’s a negative, it’s surprisingly powerful actually, even to do that. I’m thankful that this thing happened. And an insane painful means that you actually… something just happened the other day that wasn’t great and thankful that this happened. And as soon as I started writing it in that way, I was like, thank goodness it didn’t go this way as it could easily have done much worse than actually went and the gratitude still restored a certain perspective. So you don’t get, you don’t fall down into, into sort of a negative cycles, which I think, uh, just um seeing will fall asleep.
BRYAN: 00:36:46 Where did you learn the power of gratitude? Where did you, I mean obviously doing proves it, but where did this come to be such a significant practice for you?
GREG: 00:36:55 I read, I wrote, um, I wrote in the journal pretty consistently for pretty much my whole life, but not everyday, you know, um it was also is the aspiration. And then a few years ago, I think right around this time, seven and half years ago, I had watched something about a leader who I admired, who said I started. He said, I started writing a journal. He said, I just wrote a few sentences every day, no matter how early I was waking up the next morning, how late it was, I would… I would never miss a day. He said I didn’t miss a day for years, and then he would write. He was trying to find, see his question, the question that was guiding his entries, were, where have I seen the hand of God in my life?
GREG: 00:37:57 And I, and he said that the question revealed answers. You saw things that you wouldn’t have seen otherwise. And so the example of that was impactful to me. It made me think first of first of all, with all he has going on, he can do it. Then I can do it. And so that put away the excuses. And also it was just a few sentences the day. So that was important because you need an upper and lower bound on new goals. And so this was my, this was my upper bound or just a few sentences and, and I just started experimenting with it and was amazed. Just amazed at how many good things going on in the midst of even when, when troubles going on, even when something isn’t working the way you wanted to work, which of course is every day, it’s constantly either things, not how you want them to be yet of course problems everywhere.
GREG: 00:38:52 But to look at those problems through the lens of gratitude is immensely powerful, uh, you know, perspective. And I was just estimating recently I started to look through some of my old journals and it’s an estimate, you know, in that, in just in the last seven plus years, I would think I’ve written something like 10,000 things now that I’m grateful for. So it’s added up, added up and, and you can’t, you can’t claim that your life… There’s no somehow no good when you have a 10,000 items that you’re, you know, that you’re thankful for all over that period of time. And so, and that, that’s exactly the right idea is our lives really that good.
BRYAN: 00:39:34 Yeah, that’s beautiful. Well, I know as I was asking you about your writing. I took us off the path, a little bit of you responding to this about how we can tap into the heart and know when we found what it is that we want. Will you, will you talk a little bit more about that and guided by conscience and what you were saying earlier?
GREG: 00:39:52 Yeah. This is the mean… It’s just the whole thing, right? Is, is you, you have got to develop the gift of discernment. So I see them as parallel. You need, you need to apparently between, um, between the logical that’s trying to the answer, you know, trying to think through things, uh, you know, uh, trying to work things out in your mind is really important, including, well, what’s the most important stuff that I should be doing? I mean, using a, our, well, I’ll give an intellect seems really important. And in addition to that, combined with that, we need also this ability to discern the right path. Something that resonates completely. And I think that’s an important test when you can sort of know it in your mind and know in your heart combined and you can move forward confidently. When, when I had key moments in my life where I’ve had that level of clarity, mental clarity, heart and spiritual clarity coming together, I am no longer uncertain. It, it, it’s no longer a high risk part, even if it’s even if it would be perceived by history, you’re just sure this is the right path. And it’s not just out of, um, ego. Actually, in order to hear the voice of… I think you have to get to a place of humility. Uh, you have got to be willing to listen and as you listen and you will find, you will find, find clarity. And so and so, you know, essentialism is not about getting more things done it’s not a productivity philosophy. It’s about getting the right things done. And that is all the difference in the whole world because to efficiently do… we should not, we should not efficiently do that, which should not be done at all. That that is a tremendous risk is that we are putting tremendous energy into the wrong direction and uh, and, and, and, or, or putting tons of energy into a good direction but isn’t actually the right path. And so I think you have to, you have to do things to develop this discernment daily practices to develop the discernment and I think that you have to…
GREG: 00:42:56 You then have to use that discernment gift on these questions, on these problems. And, and, and actually, you know, I mean, I don’t know when people hear it to, these are very new age or whatever. It doesn’t feel new agent to me at all. Actually. It’s very old age. It’s that, it’s, this is, this is what the greats of all time have always been teaching us. So it’s not like it is brand new, but, but it’s also highly practical. What I’m describing, I mean when you, when you look at now, this is a very business example, is a business example, but when you look at Steve Jobs trying to decide whether to, uh, you know, they were working on the iPad and they are developing that developing, developing, and they’re ready, getting ready to sort of move forward with that as the next product and they didn’t just realize, oh, we ought to do the iPhone first. They said, we’ve got to, we’ve got to stop work on the ipad so that we can work on your iphone.
GREG: 00:43:57 That’s, that is, that’s just the kind of thing that would require a high level of clarity and you kind of get to that clarity just by running some numbers in a spreadsheet that can give you hints that can give you some guidance. But some of… lot of this decision making has to be made intuitively has to be, but that doesn’t mean intuitively sometimes means in people’s mind, in the vernacular is like, I’m magically, wow. It’s just almost like it’s guesswork. No, it’s deep work that must be done until you get that discernment until you get that sense, yeah, this is the right path. Now that doesn’t mean it’s all gonna work out, but we feel the path is right and will, you can feel that sense of clarity individually and as it turns out in that decision, inside that business collectively as well. And so I just, I mean that’s a bit of a jump to suddenly go to a business example from where we’re at, but I just don’t want it to be lost that this is somehow, well, that’s fine in that environment, but it doesn’t work in this environment. It does work in this environment and, and, and, and, and we just, you know, that it works, it works wherever it utilized it, it works wherever you want to see breakthrough performance and things that really can make a difference.
BRYAN: 00:45:15 I love that. I love that. And even the name you give it about this developing the gift of discernment I think is something, again, like you’re saying, giving people language to understand something or maybe to be able to do something. And you’ve talked a little bit about how this practice of journaling and maybe especially gratitude journaling is one way we can develop that discernment. What are some other ways you’ve seen that have been effective either for yourself or for others you’ve worked with?
GREG: 00:45:44 You got to develop a practice of reading the, the highest, best classic literature that you can. And, and you know, I mean, I, I subscribe to scripture. I read that every day. I just recently decided I would read it half an hour a day. Um, I, you know, I’m reading out of, I mean, I’m reading out to the book of Mormon. I’m reading out the, the, the, the Bible. But I’m also reading other classical literature. I’m also reading historical books I’m reading right now. I’m, uh, the John Adams, a biography by David McCullough. Is that is a long biography by every estimation.
BRYAN: 00:46:34 That was one of my dad’s favorite books.
GREG: 00:46:36 How rich that book is, how great it is to, to, to let your mind wander through the, the, the way that the John Adams is thinking about the world and the problems. And he is a student of the great literature and he’s reading in ancient Greek in Latin. Yeah. So, so when you’re reading, you read what you’re really doing is you’re, you’re thinking with somebody else’s mind. And so if you can choose to read from the greatest minds that have ever lived the highest, the great discerners the seer’s of human history, then you are going to start seeing the world and thinking through their lens. And that’s really powerful and really important and contrast that with spending endless time in, you know, I don’t know how to describe it, but it’s certainly not certainly nothing to compare it with that. If you’re just sailing through Twitter and you’re just reading the news updates. And I do read, I do read the news today. Um, I, I, I, to read lots of what’s going on in the world. I’m not, I’m in no way a luddite or somehow saying live out there on the mountain top. We got to live here where, where people are so we can make a difference where people are. But I’m also saying that if that so much of what is dressed up to be news really reads to me like gossip now, so, so there’s a lot of trash, a lot of rubbish, they say in England, that it surely I can make a trade off between that. Surely I can look at, I can look at my phone, is it, you can do it now easily under battery and most phones will show you how many hours you’ve spent on different apps this week. Surely I could take a portion of that and read the greatest literature that is available to me.
GREG: 00:48:55 I mean some, like one of my favorite quotes about books is that is that um, books are not entirely dead things. And some books in my experience, some of the ones I’ve mentioned today are so far from being bad. I mean they’re so full of life. There’s so much light in certain books and among them are the ones I’ve mentioned today that even if they’re just open, not even if I’m not reading them, I feel like there’s something in it. Maybe. Again, people said it’s crazy, but I think there’s, I think some books are full of light and that’s what we need you to fill your mind with light so that you can have discernment to see clearly between Truth and error, to see between, uh, the language of the day rate is, is between fake and real to see what really is and what we need to pursue. And, and so I, I haven’t regretted one moment that I’ve spent reading these books. I feel like they just opened me up. They fill me with a sense of discernment and, and so you, you don’t, you can’t just say the word discern, Oh, I’m going to have discernment about this. No, you’ve got to develop it. It’s a, that’s the core of the disciplined pursuit is, is developed that discernment so that you can start to see clearly more clearly than all with all the dust in, our eyes that you get through constant social media and so on. If you, if you’re eating that stuff, then you’re going to start seeing the world through that lens. And I, I, as I say, I think that’s the part that the non essentialist.
BRYAN: 00:50:39 I love that perspective. And what you said about when you’re reading, you’re thinking with someone else’s mind. I think that’s such a cool, cool view. And you know, it calls to mind for me, something I’ve heard one of my teachers, Tony Robbins talks about with his mentor, Jim Rohn saying, Tony, you don’t need to read everyday, just the days you eat. You know, and making time as busy as Tony is today that he does make. He’s, you know, he says he makes time to read at least a half hour every day. So that is, that is great.
GREG: 00:51:12 Out of the best books. Got to be careful. Not just good books. I mean, so think about this way, like how much are you going to read? How many books are you going to read? Between now and the end of your life, what’s the number? There’s a number, right? I mean there’s a range.
BRYAN: 00:51:35 Yeah. You know, for awhile, last few years I’ve been reading 50, 60 books a year. I’ve slowed way down. So I’m talking maybe maybe 20 a year for another, maybe another hundred books roughly in my life. Let’s see. A thousand. I’m sorry, another thousand.
GREG: 00:51:53 So, so that’s it. So a thousand books for the rest of your whole life, do you think that there are a thousand truly classic powerful books for you to read?
BRYAN: 00:52:07 I bet I could find them, although they might be kind of in iterations or interpretations of each other. It’d be a stretch, but maybe.
GREG: 00:52:18 No, I think you can do it. If you, if you go online right now, you could say you could, you could start just by saying, okay, what are the thousand books? Just search whatever the thousand books you’re going to read in your lifetime. And someone will tell the list will be there. I mean, I know what you mean. A thousand is obviously a really high number of classic books, but then they’re there. And my real point is that is that there’s no justification for using up that precious reading time on rubbish, on nonessential stuff. And this is true for reading, but it’s also true for the big life decisions. Uh, the, uh, the, the discernment of, of our lives is that there’s enough essential meaning 90 percent or above important activities, so highly important activities to fill the rest of our lives. So therefore, every time I waste my time on a trivial claim, uh, on, on rubbish, every time I’m taking you away from something actually really mattered, there isn’t enough time for me to do the essential things. Plus all the average things, plus all the trivial things. Plus all the actually damaging stuff I could do waste my time on. There isn’t time for that. So we actually are making trade offs between things that really matter and things that don’t. I mean, I, you know, I think mean my own bias of course is less but better. So even with what you just said about a thousand books, what I really would be recommended to you to do is to identify the top… Certainly, let’s say it’s 100, but maybe it’s 10, the most important 10 books that you can possibly read. The deepest books, not just the, not just the success literature books, uh, but the wisdom literature, this stuff, they give a test the stuff that has been around the longest.
BRYAN: 00:54:21 Hm. Yeah.
GREG: 00:54:23 Because that’s the stuff that isn’t infiltrated with the non essentialist the ideas of the recent past or the industrial revolution. You’re going to read something that came before all of that that has lasted longer than that. So you identify the top 10 and read them again and again and again. And again. That to me is a more essentialist approach. I just spoke to somebody recently who I think they read 360 books last year or something and, and I’m, I’m not, I’m not highly critical of that pursuit. That’s got to be a lot better then not reading and it’s got to be better than just reading social media updates or all day, but it’s too many books to imagine that the purpose is applying and integrating. That it’s an intellectual pursuit. Oh, that’s interesting. Next book, next book, next book. And, and for me at least, I believe in this philosophy of less but better. And so what I want is the right books again and again until they become a pass at me, until they’ve changed the way I see the world and I’m back to the language before to until I am seeing the world. The way these great minds soul the world.
BRYAN: 00:55:39 Yeah. I think it’s such a beautiful perspective. Let me ask you this about your book, about essentialism. And this is a question that Nathan, my good friend, Nathan, wanted me to ask. It might be a trick question. Here’s the question. If you were only able to add one item to your book since it’s publication, what would it be and why?
GREG: 00:56:02 I mean, if I was really, if I was redoing my book right now, I would, I would shorten it.
BRYAN: 00:56:11 I think Nathan was trying to trip you up on that one.
GREG: 00:56:15 Sure. Okay. So how would I shorten it? Oh, I, I, I would just literally go through it line by line and say, okay, is, is there a, is there a more efficient way of saying it? Is there is some something that’s cleaner? Uh, uh, so the, so that somebody who’s reading it can get at it in its most condensed form. So I mean, I think that’s it. I don’t know how much shorter but sort of, I sort of think 20 or 30 pages, maybe even 40 pages once you actually take it line by line. So that’s one, that’s one answer. If I was to reduce it then by 40 pages, would I then feel like I could share some of the things I’ve learned since it’s publication? Um, you know, probably the answer’s yes to that and I think that what sort of trade off I would then, you know, put in there I think would be, which would include how do you, how do you do this?
GREG: 00:57:12 How do you live essentialism where you have limited control. So, and that’s in a lot of environments, right? Uh, it, it’s true in work, it’s true matrix organizations where people are trying to apply this. It’s not easy just to say, well, this is what I think is the central, so I’m doing it and I’m not going to do this other things as I can be, very career limiting. So I think there’d be more, you know, to explore there. How do you do it? That. But it’s also true, forget organizations, is true in a marriage and a family. I mean, everything’s a negotiation every. And I think I’d, I’d, I’d want to just deal with that in a richer way. Um, I, you know, I’ve learned, for example, something I’ve learned is that is that there is a default setting and a lot of people’s minds that says you can either give a polite yes or a rude no.
GREG: 00:58:09 Those are your only two options. So it means that it means that people are going to end up with a lot more polite yeses that they really mean because of those two options, they don’t want to be the, you know, they don’t want to be. The curmudgeon always saying no to everything. Uh, and, and what I’ve learned is there really is such a rich middle and it’s negotiation. It’s the discussion, um, to use, I think, and even nicer word. It’s the counseling to council together to sit in council. Let’s talk about this sit in council with my wife. Let’s, let’s, let’s, let’s talk, let’s explore. Let’s work together. Let’s not have it be your way, my way, that’s really, um, you know, counsel, until we together feel that sense of clarity we’ve been talking about today. This is the right path. Good. Now we know, let’s pursue it. Um, that takes a lot of patience, but, but it’s far more efficient than the alternative to whether it’s in a marriage or a family with my children, whether it’s in a corporate environment, anytime you try to go fast, you try and shortchange clarity and, and, and just simply make a decision rather than get to clarity, right? Because that’s definitely not the same thing. Uh, you, you, what happens is, is that you pay the price again and again and again, multiple times down the road, um, until eventually you go, okay, well, I guess that wasn’t really what we’ve. Now let’s decide what we really should have done.
BRYAN: 00:59:54 Thank you. Okay, so in just a moment, I want to transition to this lightning round of questions. Before I do, I feel impressed to ask you about life purpose and to ask you… Well first I’m curious to know, do you feel you’re living your life purpose?
GREG: 01:00:12 Uh, yes I do. Yeah,
BRYAN: 01:00:14 That’s awesome. And what counsel would you give someone who they would answer that question with a no, like how can they discover it? And again, maybe how can they know when they have or how can they define it? What have you found? And maybe maybe it’s useful to ask how did you arrive, like how are you so confident that you are and maybe that’s the advice for others?
GREG: 01:00:39 The best thing to know in life is your purpose, to discern what you came here to do, that’s great, but the next best thing is to know what it isn’t. And I think that that is a more realistic place for a lot of people to start, is to ask it, do I, do I feel like this is it, but I feel like I’m doing it right now. And if the answer isn’t yes, I think the answer is no, right there that, that they go, it doesn’t mean they have to quit everything right now in order to, to, to, uh, to go pursue it. But at least admit it. Well, this isn’t it. And then you start the process we’ve just been talking about, get a journal, write it down, start paying attention.
GREG: 01:01:31 When do you feel closer? When do you feel further away? Is this, is this right? Does this feel good today? What was right today? And, and I think that’s, that’s close to the gratitude question we’re talking about. What was right today, what felt the right direction today, and celebrate every little success on the purpose journey, on the essentialist journey. That’s why the gratitude journal such a good way to start with it was anything that was right today, celebrate it, focus on it, give energy to that thing. And then tomorrow you will find more things and you keep going. And the power of cumulative, the cute, the power of cumulative consistency around celebrating what was right, what feels correct, what feels like the right direction is really immense. I mean, that’s really the thing about this 10,000 items over these years is the momentum that it’s built and a sense of, of, uh, of, of, of rightness in direction, uh, you know, it grows over time.
GREG: 01:02:37 So, uh, so yes, I mean, I think that, I think that’s what I would say to people. I mean, we’ve talked about a couple of the things I feel strongly about and I’ve learned journaling, wisdom literature, daily course meditation daily. A pause, stop, tiny. Uh, I have a friend who was a very successful executive is lots of money, happy, great family, all of this. But was just immensely stressed. So in a sense, unhappy, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Uh, and so he started this journey of mindfulness. And one of the things he did when he started wanting to, uh, to get into meditation, he, he, he said, every time I sit down at my desk, I will breathe three times, just close my eyes, breathe three times.
GREG: 01:03:34 And I actually even think if should go even simpler than that, you know, how people say, take 10 deep breaths, count to 10, count to 10. I think people should just count to one. Just sit at the desk and just breathe once, but properly. And you start the habit there. If you do that everyday, everyday, everyday, and then every time you sit at your desk, every time, over time you will be introducing a new practice that starts to get us more centered, more present. Uh, you know, you can only feel this discernment, this sense of clarity in this moment. You can’t feel it in the past, can’t feel it in the future. You can only feel it here. So you have to be here. Be able to hear it, see it, sense it.
BRYAN: 01:04:22 I want to shift gears and go into this. Um, I’ve got about nine questions. I’ve designed them to be able to be answered briefly, but you can answer them as brief, as long as you want. So the first one here is using a phrase other than a box of chocolates. So answering with something other than a box of chocolates, please complete the following sentence. Life is like a…
GREG: 01:04:53 I got to get the quote.
GREG: 01:04:56 It’s by Jenkin Lloyd Jones. Okay, I got to read the whole thing. Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting, that he’s been robbed. The fact is that most pets don’t drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to just be people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, most jobs, are more often dull than otherwise. Life is like an old time rail journey. Delays sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jobs interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling burst of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.
BRYAN: 01:05:41 I love it. Number two, what do you wish you were better at it?
GREG: 01:05:48 Um, patients.
BRYAN: 01:05:52 Okay,
BRYAN: 01:05:53 All right. Number three, if you were required everyday for the rest of your life to wear a tee shirt with a slogan on it or a phrase or a saying or a quote or a quip, what would the shirt say?
GREG: 01:06:07 Less but better.
BRYAN: 01:06:10 Number four, what book other than your own have you gifted most often?
GREG: 01:06:16 Throughout my whole life?
BRYAN: 01:06:18 Sure.
GREG: 01:06:23 The Book of Mormon. That’s the true answer to that question. I mean, that’s a, gets it. They did an interesting experiment recently because a lot of people just have lots of weird ideas about what’s in that and uh, they did an experiment where they had people of all different backgrounds, all different colleges, everything, Just read one page. You didn’t know what they were reading, just had to read a page from it and underline whatever spoke to them. It is really powerful and you can watch the videos online of people from different cultures, different countries, just responding to what’s actually in it. It just, it’s just just a powerful book and that’s. And that’s it. Nobody else has to think so. Um, but that’s, that’s the book I’ve ended up telling people. So that’s the truth.
BRYAN: 01:07:07 All right. Number five, so as you’ve already said, all these conferences which you speak 50, 60, a year, and everything else you have going on, um you travel a ton? What’s one travel hack, something you do or maybe something you take with you when you travel to make your travel less painful or more enjoyable?
GREG: 01:07:30 Um, my travel hack is, is that I use a checklist before I go, so I literally have a checklist and then so I can pack really, really quickly. Um, half, not half, but many of those items are permanently packed so I just have doubles of lots of things, but I always do the checklist because no matter how familiar I think I am with it and how habitual is and I’m sure I could pack without the list, it’s just amazing, which things I will forget if I don’t have it. And so by, by parallel, I actually think there’s lots of things in life that need a checklist uh… and uh, of course there’s a great book Checklist Manifesto, uh, that, that illustrates this in hospitals.
GREG: 01:08:24 Massive numbers of lives are saved iff you use checklist in hospitals, checklist, wash your hands. Oh yeah. I didn’t wash my hands. Go through the checklist and actually do it instead of travel. I’ve a uh, find, uh, find that checklist and, and, and I’ve also started taking it with me when I went with me when I travel, so when I’m leaving to come home I just go through the checklist again so we don’t forget anything. Yeah.
BRYAN: 01:08:50 Wow. I’ve started using a checklist for travel a couple of years ago, but I’d never thought about using it for coming home.
GREG: 01:08:57 Yeah, because you just think you’ve got everything and instead of actually just looking around the hotel room. Okay. Is it clear? Just go through it item by item.
BRYAN: 01:09:07 Brilliant. Great. Awesome. What’s one thing you’ve started or stopped doing in order to live or age well.
GREG: 01:09:15 Yeah. Okay. I stopped all sugar.
BRYAN: 01:09:21 Wow. Good for you.
GREG: 01:09:22 Yeah. All added sugar.I did. That um near the, so we’re whatever, seven months in now,
BRYAN: 01:09:36 Even ice cream ?
GREG: 01:09:39 Especially ice cream. That was the first. That was the reason I did it was my ice cream was my weakness.
BRYAN: 01:09:47 A kind of a balance. I only eat ice cream on the full moon.
GREG: 01:09:56 I love that… you like you’re waiting. Is it out yet almost a full man. I think I can do it tonight. Yeah. For me, for me, I would find it much harder to eat, to only. Well, I like what you’re saying. I could imagine. Do that after this year. My goal is to do a year. We’ll see. But I think if I started eating it a bit, it’d be all over for me.
BRYAN: 01:10:23 Yeah, that’s me too.
GREG: 01:10:25 If, if I, if I, I love Ben and Jerry’s and a it and I think if I just said okay, I’ll just eat a bit. Couldn’t go eat a bit now just I know that my rule but I’ll eat a bit. Oh no, that’s it. It’s all over. I think it’s easier just to do, to do none. So, uh, so there you go. So that’s one thing.
BRYAN: 01:10:45 Awesome. So number seven, what’s one thing you wish every American knew?
GREG: 01:10:51 Oh, mean, a serious work. Serious understanding of the founding fathers. Really like really knowing, knowing their history to see so that you can see a moment with some perspective. I think, I think that the most important five years in history at the last five years, so many things going on and I think, I think if you could, if people could see today through the lens of the found of the founding fathers, and I don’t mean a, um, I do not mean a right wing reading of banter left free when reading it. I don’t mean the politics. I mean, one of the things is I’m reading the John Adams, uh, a biography is, is how polarized it was on every issue. I mean, it was, it was brutal in lots of ways. So that’s common that there’s a commonality about that, but to learn why they did what they did and what they were grappling on, what big issues they were confronting them and why those things mattered. I mean these, these, these people with serious students of human nature and, and, and human natures, weakness and follies and so on. I think that, I think that that seems, seems like a good idea.
GREG: 01:12:20 Yeah. Besides the science, one of the funny things, uh, so, so of course being an Englishman, uh, on July fourth in America is always an interesting experience and uh, and, and somebody always wants to say something about, you know, uh, which is fine, but they, yeah, he always wants to say, well, what’s it like in England today? You know, what are they saying today in England? And the answer is nothing. There’s no, there’s no. Nobody is mad about July fourth. Nobody’s, nobody’s even thinking, about it. The day comes and passes, just a complete non event. But I also always wanted to point out to people is they would read their history, they would find, that in the early days of what became the war of independence, um, people, people understood the people that were involved in that conflict, were saw, what was happening as a civil war. They self identified as Englishman and they were fighting Englishman. So in the early days. So, uh, yeah, the, the um, what that means if you will follow the logic, is that either way, whichever way you look at it. The English won.
BRYAN: 01:13:53 Hmm. Perspective shift.
GREG: 01:13:59 And what a fine job we’ve been making of it ever since.
BRYAN: 01:14:04 It’s the biggest colony you’ve got.
GREG: 01:14:08 So anyway, that’s, that’s just a, I mean it’s true actually, but it is the idea that it was seen as a civil war, but uh, but yes, I would, I would wish for that. I would wish. Go read the history study again, get alive and it learn about Hamilton, learn about Jefferson, really understand the complexities facing uh Washington, uh, learn about how easily we could have had a monotheistic system even after the war of independence, how easily it could have changed, how, how deeply divided the founding fathers were about, about the powers of the states and the republic, the federalists system and how it was going to work and how to balance those forces and how deeply divided they were as they grappled with these ideas. This is all important. And, and I think as an antidote to, to well gives perspective to the challenges of our day which are, which are of a different kinds now and it gives you some perspective. So yeah.
BRYAN: 01:15:09 Thank you for that. That perspective. I think that’s really amazing. So what’s your next big. Oh wait, before I get to that, your next big project, last last question in the lightning round here, what’s one piece of advice your parents have given you that has stayed with you?
GREG: 01:15:29 Um, well it was, I always say it was about 20 years ago, but really it was about 19 years ago. Just over now, when I was staring at a piece of paper in my hands with all these answers to the question, what would you do if you could do anything? And I was visiting the United States at the time and just got to have a meeting where somebody said, look, if you do decide to stay in America then you should come and help us with this committee. And I walked away from that meeting, suddenly aware I could choose to do something different than I’m doing, so consistent with everything we’ve been talking about that you don’t have to do what you’ve been doing in the pasta. And um, and so I’m sitting there brainstorming and I’m looking at all the things I would do and I noticed that not what I’ve written down especially, but what I haven’t written down, I suddenly see that law school is not on my list if I would do anything. And I was at the time at law school. So yeah, just had that call my parents call England, my mother says she listens for once. I said, I think you better talk to dad. He talks to me. Okay. He listens, which is not entirely like him. And then he said two things. He said, son, he said son, to thine own self be true, which is a quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Laertes is actually speaking to his son.
GREG: 01:17:01 Um, and uh, and then he added this, he said, he said, do what is right, let the consequence follow. That… that that’s even more than the to thine own self be true, that line is, is the real summary, right? They, this, this is again, consistent with everything we’ve been talking about. You know, the core of essentialism is to do the right things for the right reasons at the right time and let the consequences follow and non essentialism is do everything that’s popular. Now. Those are the two. That’s the two. Those are the two approaches and really back then in the moment of should I quit law school or not, you know, he didn’t say which you could have said, what’s your plan? What are you going to do? He did… he did go on to ask me some questions. I don’t really remember what they were, but it wasn’t really how we began. He could have said, well look, come on, finish what you’ve started doing another couple of years. Then see where things around it. He said, do what is right, let the consequences follow, do the right thing. Let’s see where it goes. Consistently do the right thing. Consistently get your discernment right. Follow that path and see what what will come.
BRYAN: 01:18:36 Sounds like a wise man. That’s great. So what’s your next project? What either what of you in the middle of or what are you, what are you about to start?
GREG: 01:18:51 About, a little while ago, but actually right after I’d finished writing essentialism before it came out, I had took a family vacation two and a half weeks without access to Wifi or cellular coverage, so completely unplugged, which is pretty rare and actually decently hard to do that in one sense, right? Because it’s, you have coverage everywhere. And while I was there, uh, I was, I was reading a classic book, I remember Reading Anna Karenina, uh, on that trip and it was just to kind of unplugged from, from all the normal things I’m writing my journal, I’m still, you know, that’s the, that’s the kind of environment. It’s very, it was a very relaxing experience, but it was also just a disconnected, uh, from, from all the noise. And in the middle of that I had a very vivid insight, a clear moment of clarity of what I needed to do next and uh, and it was big and it was different. And I didn’t even quite know what to make of it. Even now, sometimes I’m, I’m still surprised even even with what’s followed and it was, it was basically to, to pursue something in television. There was more to it than that. But that’s enough for this conversation. It was, it was quite vivid. It was quite specific.
GREG: 01:20:28 But I knew that it was a long term idea. I knew it wasn’t like something I was going to suddenly do in the next three months. So yeah, the book hadn’t even come out. I knew I had to do a lot of work to get the book to come out here. You want to book to actually be successful. You want it to become a New York Times best seller if possible. And to, and then to continue after that. So it isn’t just a one hit wonder, um, there’s a lot of work to be done. But all the while in the background is this new intent. Um, and I remember I got to a point after essentially done really well and we can sort of established and was just going to continue to do well, that I suddenly wanted to do the next book I wanted to, but I could feel there was a disconnect between what I wanted in this feeling of consciousness. I say now is not the time yet, might be the right thing. It might even be the right idea. It’s just not the right time. And so I put the whole thing on hold. It was within like weeks of that decision that trade off that Steve Harvey read essentialism and blogged about it and he said this book changed my life.
GREG: 01:21:44 And because I wasn’t so focused on writing the next book, there was enough space to see that as a, as a window of opportunity to connect and to, to, to talk further. And so ended up doing an appearance with him on his show in Chicago. And it wasn’t like other media I’d done before. This was like really rich. Uh, but he’s just talking about really this changed my life so much. And this is how it changed my life and, and we took questions from the audiences very rich experience in trying to share these ideas to, to, um, to a broad audience, uh, you know, of course millions of people in that moment and it, and it went well enough that we carried on doing appearances. And so we went from, from just really making no progress to suddenly within the next, you know, few months, they’re just suddenly were things happening and getting agents and, and understanding this world, they look a little bit better. And so then we continued to impact as we’ve moved now to a, to an area just outside of LA. We’re in San Fernando valley in a, in a lovely area. And um, yeah. And, and I can just feel this is the right path and everything I’ve ever done has taken, takes a long time, uh, any, any big game changing objective, uh, it takes, just takes time. It just takes a while and it’s okay. I actually feel relatively patient now, which is, as I already mentioned, something that I’d like to be good at, but I can feel this is all right. We’re in the right path. So that’s the, that’s the next big thing.
BRYAN: 01:23:27 And I love the part of the story where you consciously created the space and then what showed up. That’s so beautiful. So at this point I want to ask, so I do have a few more questions specific to writing. I know that not everyone listening is necessarily interested in writing, so I like to kind of do a pseudo wrap up at this point, um, by doing two things. One is I’m letting you know that as a way of expressing my gratitude to you, Greg, for making the time to talk with me today. I’ve made a $100 loan through Kiva.org to a woman entrepreneur in India named Bala who’s 54 years old. Her household has five members. She’ll use this money to buy jewelry to help improve the quality of life for her, for her family and in her community.
GREG: 01:24:25 I love that you’ve done that. That’s terrific.
BRYAN: 01:24:26 Yeah, and the other thing that I, that I want to do is just ask you if people want to learn more from you or connect with you, what’s the best way for them to do that?
GREG: 01:24:37 Linkedin is a, is actually not a bad place, a platform that did, I’ve ended up writing a lot on and communicating on it was one of their influences, one of the original influences for that group and uh, or, or in any, you know, any of the social media is that I have been attempting to twitter or other website, GregMckeown.com. Any of those places were really. Honestly the best thing is, is to read essentialism. That’s really where I would point people back to where I go back to and I think it’s just, it’s just, can we just take the time to read it? That’s been my biggest compliment. In fact, the biggest surprise in writing essentialism has been how many people, in fact, an agent, just like a very successful agent here in Los Angeles, he just told me that he, he said he read the book seventeen times. Yeah, he says he just listens to it on the way to work and back again and again and again and again, and that, although that is extreme, it is surprisingly familiar, uh, with how many people have understood it and that has been so great that they’ve gone. Yeah, it’s not something you can read once you’ve got to go back to it. It’s a disciplined pursuit and that really has been what people have done very almost daily. I get emails or, or see on social media, someone saying, Oh yes, I’m on my second time or third time. I just found it, but I’m already starting over again. So this time I’m taking notes as I go through this. This is, this is compliments them, not me. It’s saying that they get the idea of essentialism is either a disciplined pursuit or nothing. It’s, it’s not a, it’s not a, hey, I got exposed to this idea of the end. Uh, so for those that get it, I think that that’s, that’s how they, they, they demonstrate that to.
BRYAN: 01:26:35 No, that’s great. So as I transitioned now to just a few questions about the writing process itself, um, let me start by asking you this, when you were writing the book and as you were completing it, I know there’s this special most writer’s share that there’s this kind of almost magical feeling, a combination of relief and anticipation when you complete a draft of a manuscript. So, right around this time when you felt like you were maybe nearing one of the finish lines of a project, um, how, how much of a sense did you have it? How big it would ultimately be?
GREG: 01:27:17 Um, you know, I, I was, I just didn’t know. I mean, I, you just don’t know. Uh, I, I was always worried. Um, I still am, I’m just, just very early days starting to feel that the timing might be right to start working on a next, on the next book and I’m, and I have the same sensation now with this I did on, on, on essentialism, which is this thing, this thing is just likely just to die. Um, because that’s what happens. That’s what happens to books. Like that’s not, that’s not the exception, that’s what happens, right? I mean someone quoted the statistic that 400,000 people, 400,000 books will be published in the US this year and with all the new platforms, maybe it’s even higher than that now I, but 400,000. I mean we talked about before, right? Even at an extreme level you can read a thousand books of the rest of your life.
GREG: 01:28:20 So the first 400,000 to the vast majority we will never hear of never seen, never become aware. So the, just the statistics of that mean that the chance of, of book dying, even even successful books basically launch, you try and get as high as you can on the launch, and then you know, then you slowly or quite quickly see the whole thing die off and that is the thing. So something to follow a different path than that is really rare and so to have. So I was just, I mean I just worried about that, that this thing might not spike very high and they might die really fast. Or might just be received really badly, you know, that just people would just not appreciate it or just don’t care. I mean, I think that’s the biggest concerns that you just. People go, Oh yeah, but I’m busy. So onto the next thing. So it’s been so, so, so happy. Blessing to see it just continue. And uh, and really over time it, it has in general, it has actually increased. So it’s very, very unusual. And uh, feel very feel quite humbled by that actually because, all, all the statistics, you know, old chance or likelihood, it would’ve just been over and out.
BRYAN: 01:29:48 Yeah, no doubt. So we talked about this briefly earlier in this conversation, but about this intense focus you applied to get this book written and uh, if I, if I remember accurately what you wrote about how you got it done. Five am to one PM, five days a week for nine months. Is that accurate?
GREG: 01:30:14 That’s the gist of it. I can’t remember exactly the time. It was five to one to five til noon or something. But, um, of it. Yeah. Uh, and it was 5:00 AM, but that’s correct. Um, sometimes even earlier than that sometimes. So, first of all, I mean I have to acknowledge that I couldn’t have done this without being in alignment with my wife, right? Like we have children. And so it really meant that for that nine months I was missing the morning, the whole morning routine completely. Uh, so it meant that what it did mean is following that schedule meant that by the time the children were coming home I was available and I was there. Um, and so, so there was lots of, it wasn’t actually a family unfriendly period, you know, there’s a lot of acknowledgements in books that say things like thank you to my family for having me absent for two years kind of thing. And it wasn’t that, um, we, you know, we, it was actually a family strengthening period, which was nice because that’s consistent with the subject. Um, but it, but it still took, you know, it still took getting into that routine. And by the end of the process, I mean, I find it hard to write. I think writing’s hard. Um, because what’s hard, it’s not putting words on a piece of paper. It’s especially hard. It is thinking that’s hard. It is clarifying. I mean this not this and not clarifying for other people. Once it’s clear enough to you can be quite good. It’s sort of, easy, ish. Easiest to communicate that to other people. What’s hard is getting clear yourself. I found that on that process hard, um still do same, same with the did you work and um, but by the end of the process I really missed it. I felt it was so productive to sit and be in that kind of active creation every day. You had, you’re bringing forth something that didn’t exist before. It’s such a feeling of that was so satisfying. Always hard it that I like is, uh, is everybody. Nobody likes to write. Everybody likes to have written
BRYAN: 01:32:37 For sure.
GREG: 01:32:40 That’s right. Right. Once you get things clarified, said, described, done, edited. You go, look at that. I’m so pleased with that. But the journey getting there.
BRYAN: 01:32:52 Well then tell me if this is your experience. My experience. I just spent 18 weeks drafting a manuscript. It turned out to be 108,000 words. I’ve never produced that volume of work in such a short period and I too miss it. It’s been about three weeks that I’ve been out of my routine and for me it was a lot of overnights. I’d start at 9:00 PM and write until nine or 10:00 AM on a, on a Saturday night to Sunday morning. Well, my experience with writing is writing itself never gets easier. I do think the quality gets better, but the act of writing, especially forcing myself to sit down and begin it, that never went away. Do you find that that’s true for you as well? Did it always remain somewhat of a difficult emotionally difficult process to put your chair and… To just sit down and do it?
GREG: 01:33:43 Yes. Yes. It’s the, it’s the, uh, it’s the, a power lifting of thinking.
BRYAN: 01:33:51 Yeah. Yeah. You know, and I’ve had this thought late, I love that description of the power of thinking because lately, and I honestly, I had this thought last night and I didn’t follow it, but I thought I wonder if I went and did push ups to exhaustion just over and over, like three to five sets to train myself to just exert myself now. Of course that’s physically, but I found that was what I was endeavoring to do mentally when I was writing. I was like, no, I don’t want to subject myself to that.
GREG: 01:34:20 I think that any kind of, any kind of thinking work is easier than good writing and solid writing. It’s not so hard to. It’s not that hard to do bad writing, just sit, write stuff, but that’s not satisfying. Um, but no, I mean absolutely. If I, you know, I think about all the, all the work, there’ll be all my that I could get to today. You can send the email as you can, you can what your paperwork. You can take meetings, you can have phone calls, you can do this podcast. I mean, this stuff is so much easier than the sitting down. Stay there, keep staring, keep working, keep thinking, keep asking. What’s the question you’re really trying to answer. What’s the. I mean, this is a, yeah, absolutely. And to get to clarity, again, it’s what we’ve been talking about is that what we’ve been saying is the work of life. I mean as the, as the, as an, as an author, right? But clarity and writing is the work of a writer and uh, and, and to, to, to, to say something that is not just clear, but he’s also new, fresh and hearable. This, uh, I, I just don’t know much, much that’s harder. Uh, you know, if you want to write something that is true, basically true, that’s not fresh, easy to say. I just talked to somebody recently, a little while ago, again, somebody, I actually, I really admire a effective leader. He said, he said, Oh yeah, I just, uh, I just wrote, I just wrote a new book. What you said was he said, it just came up with a new book. He said, I figured if you could do it, I could do it.
BRYAN: 01:36:21 What does that mean?
GREG: 01:36:23 Like I said, at the moment I didn’t. I didn’t really little, perhaps a little slice in it. I don’t know. But nevertheless, when he told me the title, I was disappointed for him immediately. I didn’t. I mean I’m not saying am I going to say that it’s too late to give any observation about that, but I was disappointed for him because I knew that feels like 20 other books that have already been written. So I believe what he’s written. Like I believe it before I’ve even read it. He, he, he’s credible to me. He’s got a lot of experiences. So I want, I want that book to go to masses of people, but it’s not going to. That was my prediction anyway. My hypothesis as soon as I had the title, oh that’s everybody’s heard that before and that, that is exactly what’s gone on to happen with that. So, and that stat is of course based on the statistics statistics, we already talked about 400,000 books. That’s going to happen to most books, but I think it’s, I think there are lots of things you can do if you’re willing to pay the price to improve your odds, uh, and, and, but it’s, but it’s a, you know, Winston Churchill said, said that writing a book, it has five predictable phases and the first phase is it’s a play thing and in the fifth stage, but the fifth stage, it’s a tyrant.
BRYAN: 01:37:58 Hm.
GREG: 01:37:59 And I, I also feel that, and I think most people want the play thing and sometimes the book comes out while it still a play thing. The work wasn’t really done. The price wasn’t really paid to go beyond writing as a bucket list item. I want to write a book and secretly of course most people write a book wanted to go on, become a huge bestseller. But in order for it to work and all the different, there’s so many levels. The things you have to do and work must be done in order for the final thing to actually resonate, be relevant, be worded correctly. But this is, this is a yeah. Anyway. I mean, we’ll see, right? We, I, I’m in, I’m in that phase again right now. I, I, I, I think the chance of failure is very high and be, and, and the success of essentialism doesn’t, doesn’t make me in the least bit confident on this one. It doesn’t make me go, oh listen, you know that everyone who read it essentialism them, they’ll, they’ll care about this next book so we’re, we’ll be fine. No, I just don’t. I’ve seen how often that isn’t the case. People judge you based on their own thing. Does that seem like something they’d want to read right now? Is that relevant to them right now? And if it’s not, then they’ll go onto the next, you know, one of the 400,000.
BRYAN: 01:39:32 What are, you mentioned that there are things that, that we can do as writers to increase the likelihood that this resonates with our readers or that it finds success. What are some of those things?
GREG: 01:39:46 First thing, must get into the mind of the reader in a couple of strong ways. A number one mistake I think authors often make is that they get consumed with their own idea. So they say this, I did so good. So true, so important, so needed. That’s have. That’s why I’m writing it. It’s gonna. Everybody’s gonna read it. And people don’t buy what they need. They buy what they want. So that’s the biggest single disconnect. Someone goes to the world needs this and I’m writing a book about as deep passion, great. And now they’ve written it on some subject that people need. That is not the buying process. The buying process is almost polar opposite to that. It is busy in my life doing my own stuff. Oh, I want that. It’s a want. It’s an instant want. It’s like a, almost the reason people, a lot of people buy, uh, you know, gum or a magazine is that impulse. So you gotta to get your head into the impulse moment. Why should somebody want this thing right now? And answer that question. I think that’s much harder to do in a fresh way so that somebody doesn’t just go, oh, I wanted. They go, oh, that’s interesting, I want that.
GREG: 01:41:20 And it’s fresh. Oh, so now I’m open, uh, that that’s about title, subtitle and cover design. It’s a, you know, that’s thinking about it as a product and uh, and that, that is all about relevancy. And, and, you know, I, if I, if I had a real formula for it, I would share it and I would also use it. It’s, but it’s, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s art and science and um, but I think that’s one of the really big things. A lot gets lost there. A lot of good content doesn’t work because of that. Making it highly relevant to somebody create almost a physical reaction. I want that now, even almost before they’ve thought about what it even is, even before they know what’s in the book, this, I want that now. That’s what we’re going for.
BRYAN: 01:42:14 That reminds me of what I heard Jack Canfield talks about, he did with chicken soup for the soul and how it went on to do a half billion copies is he talked about the cover design and actually muscle testing people’s response upon seeing the cover. And did they, were they strong? Do they go weak? What did they say about it? That’s. So, that’s interesting.
GREG: 01:42:37 Their intent was, was absolutely right. Make a bestselling titles, make a bestselling title, make a bestselling table that was like, they used to say it to each other as they were going through the process. What is it? And because they didn’t just want the title, they wanted a mega bestselling title and they got. And it was very, very clever and it wasn’t the only reason that it was successful. They then went on to do all the hard work of the, you know, the, the, the, I remember Stephen Covey’s marketer once told me, uh, we worked, uh, you know, three years, day and night to make the seven habits an overnight success. And I, I, I subscribe to that too. So it’s a combination. But I also know if you get those things wrong, if, if, if people just don’t actually want it, you can’t put that right later. You just cannot get people to pay attention to somebody that don’t. They’re just not interested in. And so you have to create in people, you know, the old phrase from how to win friends and influence people we have to create in people in a want. Oh, I’m stressing myself out talking about it.
BRYAN: 01:43:48 Well, we’re about to wrap up so we won’t, we won’t stew in this stress too much. Uh, and we’ll end on a good note. Uh, I am curious when it comes to marketing, I know many people think getting the book, getting the manuscript written is the finish line. And as we know it’s not, right. And anybody who’s not thinking about the marketing of the book, I mean if they’re writing it for themselves or their posterity, that’s one thing. But if you want people to read it and be impacted by it, you got to be thinking about the marketing while you’re drafting the book and with what you’ve learned in your career about marketing books. If there was like one thing that stood out, like if there was only one thing somebody could do to give themselves a great chance at having this book be bought and read does just say bought, what would it be?
GREG: 01:44:42 Look, you’ve got to have some kind of, you’ve got to have some kind of, um, uh, platform of a group of people that are going to get you going. I mean, this is a game. The game of all success I think is about building momentum. Uh, you know, it’s having quick wins and then turning those quick wins into it to the next level set with sets of wins and so on. And um, and so, you know, yeah. So many things to answer the question you have to, you look, I, I’m, I’m coming to the idea from what you’re saying, like I’m reminded of, of Apple’s approach with products that you know, so there’s two big things, right? Especially when Steve was around, certainly in his own head, he’s going, it’s about product and it’s about marketing. It’s not about sales, it’s about product and marketing. So you’ve got to make a product that you are really proud of and if you don’t do that, if you haven’t got those things right, we’ve already talked a lot about that. Then you know, then you’re in the problem after that of trying to sell something to somebody trying to say, you do want this and you don’t know why you want it, but I’m going to tell you why he wanted. And it’s like heavy work forever afterwards. Expensive, heavy work that’s probably not going to be successful. You’re going to get the product right. But their marketing is, is it’s, you know, it’s, it’s. I mean, the thing, the thing that I’m wanting to say isn’t necessarily very transferable point port isn’t very portable, but I, I remember I wrote a book when I was in college, like a college project, so published. That was the first thing I really ever wrote. Wasn’t very good. Um, and didn’t do very well. But at the time it felt like it wasn’t a junior achievement and really I learned a lot. So it wasn’t like at the, even looking back I think, gosh, that really was an accelerating experience. But one of the things I learned is that the book was the kind of book that somebody would read. And I even got letters saying, I read this and I really touched me and I felt like it did make a difference to people, but it was the kind of book that somebody read and then they pass to someone else maybe.
GREG: 01:47:14 And when somebody. In fact somebody told me that one time, they said, Oh yes, I read the book and I gave it to my nephew or something. And I thought at the time I thought, well that’s not a very good sign, especially when being ignored, but I thought you don’t really want them to read it once and then go, okay, done with that. I got that go. You need somebody to say, I got the book, I’m reading it a second time, I’m on the third, and I’ve told everybody I know to read it. That’s what you really need. That’s the effect you’re going for. And that’s the real marketing that works because that really is how everything then goes. I mean that’s how, I mean, how did you come across the book? What happens? You’d read it two and a half years. How did that happen?
BRYAN: 01:47:54 To be honest, I don’t even remember, I don’t remember where it came into my life and then I bought it. I just downloaded it on kindle and read it.
GREG: 01:48:02 So it’d be fun if you could remember just for the conversation but, but nevertheless that there’s no reason you should be able to remember it, but it.
BRYAN: 01:48:10 Somebody recommended it. I mean, yeah, it wasn’t. It wasn’t like, oh, I saw a Facebook ad or something. It was somebody told me about it and I was like,
GREG: 01:48:17 Well, it’s impossible. It’s impossible for you to use the facebook ads, facebook ads.
BRYAN: 01:48:23 And it wasn’t.
GREG: 01:48:24 There wasn’t. There was really no. There has been no selling of it in that sense. There’s not been a discounted on this day so that you can, it, it’s, it’s, it has reached a certain point of just, of just word of mouth right now I got to get invited by, to be on this and so, so that’s its own continued conversation. So I think that’s, that’s what I’m saying. You get the product, hopefully the product works so that you can start spark a conversation and then the marketing journey is to continue that conversation. And what is, what to me is an electric thought is that there are people out there right now, people today, someone’s somewhere is having this conversation. I love that. I love that the book has a life of its own. Now that in the time we’ve been talking here, people will have emailed the website saying, reading the book right now, and these are my questions and this is what I’m doing with. This is who I’ve just shared it with that, that, that, that’s, that’s so cool to me. Years ago I was, um, I was introduced to the idea of multiple streams of income. You want multiple streams of income, an income that flows to you whether you’re awake or not, right. Um, and that’s kind of a powerful idea too, but it grew in me the idea of, of a residual residual stream of income. And I thought, what about residual streams of goodness? Like what, what could you do once that goodness was happening again and again, because of it, and, and I just, I just so delighted that to some extent in some tiny way essentialism that that happens and that a book can do that, um, that somebody out, somebody having a good experience right now, somebody is having something happen to them in a positive way while we’re having this separate conversation. That’s exciting to me.
BRYAN: 01:50:26 That totally makes me think of that saying that somebody is sitting under the shade now because someone planted a tree a long time ago.
GREG: 01:50:32 Yeah, it’s cool, isn’t it? I like that.
BRYAN: 01:50:36 Okay. So last thing, last thing as we wrap up, um, if you were to give just one piece of encouragement, just like a little keep at a boy know, something like that. What would you say to somebody who’s maybe in the middle of their project or they just haven’t quite gotten over the hump to start it? Yeah.
GREG: 01:50:53 Writers, write.
BRYAN: 01:50:56 Writers, write.
GREG: 01:50:57 That’s it.
BRYAN: 01:50:58 I love it.
GREG: 01:51:01 You don’t have. You don’t declare yourself. Someone else doesn’t declare yourself a writer. You declare yourself a writer, not in words but in a pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard and you are writing and now you’re a writer. And, and I suppose the opposite is also true, which is that as soon as you start writing, you’re no longer a writer. You know, I actually did that for a little while for awhile. I really wasn’t writing and I felt like, I suppose I think I felt good about that. It was, it wasn’t enough the things going on, but it’s nice to be back into writing. There’s something, with all that’s challenging about it. It’s just very stabilizing and you’re doing the thing part of what you came here to do. So.
BRYAN: 01:51:51 Okay. So final, final thing is Greg, what’s it like, how fun is it to open royalty checks?
GREG: 01:52:01 It’s funny you should say it because I literally got an email yesterday for the, for the latest, uh, installment andum, yeah, it was, that’s, that’s that, that’s, that hasn’t gotten old yet.
BRYAN: 01:52:15 That’s awesome. I love it.
GREG: 01:52:17 Yeah. I mean, I, you know, it’s… yeah, what I want, I really want. Yeah, right. That was the final final thing, but what I really, really want is for a book and you want this for you too, is a book that lasts for a long, long time. Right? And I don’t mean a decade either, which is, oh, this is like mega long time in the publishing world already, but I mean like 100 years from now, I really like, that’s like my highest aspiration for essentialism and I don’t know that it, that that is, that is a big aspiration really. But that if I want, if essentialism is still in print, still working 100 years from now. Right. I’m not here anymore. You’re not here anymore. We’re gone. But the book carries on. Yeah, that’s, that’s cool.
BRYAN: 01:53:17 I think you might have done it my friend. I think you might’ve done it. Time will tell.
GREG: 01:53:23 All we’ve got is 96 years left before we’ll know.
BRYAN: 01:53:28 I’m on. I’m on for longevity science. Here we go.
GREG: 01:53:33 Love it. What a pleasure. Thank you. Thank you for your time today. Thanks for involving me in this.
BRYAN: 01:53:39 This has been so fun. Thanks for accepting the invitation and thank you to everybody listening. I really hope this has been enjoyable for you and that you’ve taken away at least a half dozen things that are going to improve the quality of your life and your writing, and by extension making the impact that you came here to make.
BRYAN: 01:53:58 I want to encourage you to get that book written or stay with the one you’ve got an process. Even if you don’t know what the heck it is, go for it. Your words can do a lot of good for a lot of people. I invite you to take a look in the show notes, find some of the links to things that Greg and I talked about, resources that will be valuable for you in your own journey and in your own projects, and I want to invite you to visit goodliving.com. Connect with me. I’m launching now the Life’s Best Practices guided coaching program if you’re interested to be a part of that. These are distinctions, insights, skills, tools that I’ve learned over the last seven years of studying leadership and personal improvement that I would love to share with you. Until then, take care.
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