Sam Carpenter is the author of Work the System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less. Sam is an author, an entrepreneur, and has extensive experience in a variety of fields, including engineering, journalism, publishing, surveying, forestry, construction management, telecommunications, and a myriad of other blue- and white-collar enterprises and jobs. Sam has owned and operated Centratel, the leading telephone answering service in the United States, for nearly 40 years.
In this Interview on the School for Good Living Podcast, Sam joins me to discuss how we can find good living through the good results of managing our systems. We all deal with systems and processes and Sam is someone who helps us learn to deal with recurring systems and processes to make our lives easier, free ourselves up, reduce our stress levels, earn more money, and have more free time.
“Unhappy people’s lives are out of control because they spend their days coping with the random bad results of their unmanaged systems.”
This week on the School for Good Living Podcast:
- Which way should the toilet paper roll face?
- How we can avoid ‘fire fighting’ against our tasks and challenges
- Finding the organic processes in a business and making them mechanical
- The documents required to guide a business’s goals and principles
- Sam’s systems for writing books that make a difference
Brilliant Miller [00:00:23] Sam. Welcome to the School for Good Living.
Sam Carpenter [00:00:34] Thank you, Brillant. Glad to be here.
Brilliant Miller [00:00:36] I’m glad you’re here. Sam, will you tell me, please, what is life about?
Sam Carpenter [00:00:44] What is life about? Well, it depends on what angle you want to take, but I think for our purposes, what I would say here is that life is about improving things, not in a virtue signaling kind of a way, but I get the most personal satisfaction out of making things better, whether it’s here in the house where I am now, or out there and with my book. Of course, my aim is to help business people, and people are in business to make their lives better. I just get a lot of satisfaction out of that. And so what I would say, you can go back into genetics, I suppose, and the caveman thing and and to survive you have to make things better. You have to prepare, you have to take care of things. And I think in some form or another, the best satisfaction out of life and therefore maybe the purpose of life, at least speaking for myself, would be to make things better all the time. And system improvement. What’s up about all that? Yeah, but making things better. Grabbing ahold of things. Manipulating them to be better and then turning them loose. Right.
Brilliant Miller [00:01:59] Beautiful. Yeah. Well, with that, you know, just starting with life’s, some of life’s bigger questions like this. One of What’s Life about? Want to move to one of the now one of the other big life questions, which is about the toilet paper roll. Which way should it hang and why?
Sam Carpenter [00:02:17] You know where you want to jump into that right away. Let’s see if I can, uh, let’s see if I can describe it in a way that’ll fit into our later conversation when we get a little deeper into things. So our lives are made up of systems, and we’ll talk about that more. But I’ll just say that now, all our lives where we are right now, where you are there in Utah, where I am in Kentucky in this moment, because everything moves across time. We’re here because of the processes that unfolded before this exact moment in time. Right. And you and I worked with Steve, the engineer, on getting the sound right and and getting the audio the way we want it. And I got my dogs under control here. So what that is, is if you understand that and we’re going to a deeper later, I’m expecting you to understand that if you try to make system improvements in every portion of your life, your life will get better because most people are not managing the processes of their lives. And so their results are unmanaged results. On the one side, at the least, they’re random results, which is not really what people want. No matter what you’re talking about in your life, you don’t want random results in. The worst thing a can be is a nightmare. Your life’s a nightmare because everything’s out of control. So this is all about defeating chaos. The toilet paper story is one of my favorite stories. I have to admit it for our viewers, our listeners, what it is, is your toilet paper on your role in the bathroom. You’re sitting there and you go to peel the paper off. And it’s better. There are two exceptions, but it’s better if it comes off the top of the rule. Okay. It’s just handier. You don’t have to reach under the roll to find it. The exceptions are cats and kids who like to talk. So in that case, you want it coming off the bottom. The point is this it sounds crazy, but its a kind of almost stupid illustration. It says that everything you, in my opinion, everything you should do should be deliberate. So what do you do over and over again? Well, that’s one of the things all of us have done over and over again. And unless you live in certain, you know, in Pakistan or someplace. But if you will take that little thing, it takes such a little bit of attention and put it on with the roll coming off the top. It’ll make your life just a tiny bit better. Of course, it doesn’t add up to anything, really. But the point is, you take everything in your life. Everything is a system, remember? Everything in your life. You improve it, improve it. You’re intentional about it. Right? Yeah. And so that was a perfect illustration of taking a system that you didn’t even notice and making it better. And I think I say at the end of it, I left this in in the fourth edition at the end of this page, long description, illustration. I said, Now that you’ve read this. We’ve got to kind of scare you. Every time you sit down on the pot and or every time you put the roll in the dispenser, you will think of this.
Brilliant Miller [00:05:58] Yeah.
Sam Carpenter [00:05:59] So what do we do? A routine over and over and over. Well, that’s one of the things you do. And so every time I use the bathroom and I speak to groups about this, every time I use the bathroom, it’s kind of a reminder to think about your systems. Yeah, it’s crazy, but it’s fun.
Brilliant Miller [00:06:13] Yeah, that’s right. And it’s one thing that I really do appreciate about what you teach. And for those listening who didn’t see the booklet Sam held up, it’s the work, the system, the simple mechanisms of making more and working less, which is what pretty much I think all of us want. We want to enjoy life more. We want to get more for the effort we extend and the view that you expound in this. And I love the way you word it, whether you know it or not or whether you like it or not. Your personal systems are the threads in the fabric of your existence. Yeah. Right. And it makes sense that if our life isn’t what we want it to be if our life isn’t working how we want it to if we look at those systems, what are the things that are happening or not happening? And to either dissolve the ones that are happening, that are not contributing to our health and happiness and wealth and well-being, or implement or refine the ones that are. And it makes sense conceptually. But you talk about this from a deeply personal place, because I understand you’ve now owned a telephone answering service for nearly 40 years. Yeah, but you worked inside that business for a decade and a half. Yeah. Working 80 to 100-hour weeks. Not getting the results that you wanted. But one day everything changed for you. Like in one day. This is almost as I read it. Like, I don’t know, the road to Damascus moment like this, this insight almost. I don’t know that you would describe it this way, but some form of enlightenment. Something happened. Will you talk about the challenge that you had and how like the day everything changed?
Sam Carpenter [00:07:45] Sure. And of course, I encourage other people watching, you know, to give the first four chapters of the book for free if you go to work the system dot com. Okay. You can download it but get the book. Get the audio. I did the audio. But what happened was and I’ll take the story very carefully illustrated in the first four chapters of the book. And the front manner of the book has a lot of stuff in it. Sometimes I tell people just read different matters and then see if they want to read the rest. But if you go for chapters one through chapter four, I think there are 21 chapters now. What happened was I worked 80 to 100 or even more than 100 hours a week for 15 years. And right at the end of that 15 years, it was really bad. My kids were off to college. I had been a single parent and I was physically and mentally destroyed and I was going to miss a payroll and I’d had the business for 15 years. This is the same business I have today.
Brilliant Miller [00:08:45] And how old were you at this time? You’re like in your 30 stories.
Sam Carpenter [00:08:48] It was 1999, so I was late. The forties.
Brilliant Miller [00:08:52] Okay.
Sam Carpenter [00:08:53] Yeah. I’m an old guy now, so.
Brilliant Miller [00:08:56] Seasoned.
Sam Carpenter [00:08:58] So what happened was that. I realized I was going to miss a payroll. I had about, I don’t know, 12 or 15 people. And when you miss a payroll in a small business, that’s the end of your business, because your people don’t come back to work when they don’t get paid. So I knew after 15 years of just intense struggle, oh, man, I went through a lot of people. I went through a lot of ideas. I had so many failures. I had some successes. Somehow, after 15 years, the business survived. And you know, any new business? Eight out of every hundred new businesses that start in five years, 80 of them are gone. That’s the way it is. Four out of five fails. I had made it 15 years, which is like 1%, and I was so proud, but I wasn’t going to make it. So I had had this horrible physical and mental assault. And so that one night I laid down in bed trying to and I think I use the term pull a rabbit out of the hat yet again. And I couldn’t. I couldn’t. So I gave up. Three in the morning, dark at night. I couldn’t sleep. I was a mental, and physical wreck. And I just let it go. I just let it go. And then all of a sudden. I had an image of the table. I don’t know if I was dreaming or whether I was just in this. Sonnambula, you know, kind of a coma. But I could see my business and I saw that it was made up of parts and I don’t know what these objects were. So I’m at the desk here with my laptop, of course, but there’s a book here, and there’s, I love hounds, a little hound statue, and there’s a picture here and there’s a bottle of water. And I realized my business, it was all laid out on a table. They have not identified parts, but I realized my business was a summary of independent parts. Independent, yes, systems. Independent elements. And then I thought, well. I’m going to lose the business anyway. In a week was the payroll. I’m going to go down to the office in the morning and give this inside. And I didn’t know. I know that one night I thought if I could improve those parts one by one, I would save my business. If I could make those parts really, a really good one by one, like coming at me on a conveyor belt. I could take this one and fix it. I could take the next one and fix it what I would have if I could make all the parts perfect. What I have a perfect business. And I didn’t know the answer to that at the time. But I can tell you the truth is yes. Yeah. And we can talk about it later, but 98% perfect is just great. You don’t have to be 100% perfect that can be a bad thing. But anyway, what happened was that night I had a change in insight and I realized it wasn’t just the business, but my whole world was a collection of processes and systems. And here I was lying in bed as a result of the good and the bad processes that led me up to that place. And it’s never been the same since, and that was in 1999. And so I’ve taken the same business and it is the Premier, there are about 800 answering services and they’re very high tech now compared to what they used to be and has a long history. In my industry, as we take calls from doctors and veterinarians and software companies and pass those message messages on, we call capture and we pass on messages just like it all in old time answering services used to do.
Brilliant Miller [00:12:41] And then one.
Sam Carpenter [00:12:42] We are the premier in the United States. And the reason is, is because we work on systems all day long and that’s all we do. We never my management staff doesn’t do the work. We have other people to do that. And those people have a chance to climb a ladder up into management. But all we do is work on systems, whether it’s our team in Europe or the team in Bend, or we have people scattered all over the United States who handle the calls. The idea is to work on the processes and then the actual work is automated, delegated to other people or to systems. And if you work on improving your processes and I’m talking about your personal life too, of course, brilliant. Because remember, our personal lives and our business lives are all the same. They’re made up of the results of the systems in our lives. If you work on systems all day long, it’s really you’re really going to improve your life. There are a lot of system gurus out there who are brilliant. I wrote the book 14 years ago. It’s in its fourth edition, just came out last year. Most of the systems gurus say you have to insert systems in your business, you’ve got to do systems. I went to federal court with a guy who plagiarized my book and he really didn’t get it. He got the court. I won that. I was the petitioner and I won the court case and he paid some big money, but I had a process of protecting my copyright, which had been perfected. And so if most of the system, people out there who profess to be system people don’t really get the metaphysical part of this. It’s not metaphysical isn’t even fair. It’s the physical reality that where we are in this moment and moments move on this moment, this moment, this moment where you and I are brilliant right now and where the listener is right now, it’s a one-time event, but then in another second, there’s another one time of death. And we’re all made up of processes. And when my second book was called A Systems Mindset and you’ve read enough to understand that I want my readers to get in their head this thing I call the systems mindset. And that’s where you see everything all at once as a collection of separate, independent processes. And I even say, you know, this all came to me that night. You’re a kid. What is your kid me got to do with your loves? It got to do with your heart. Actually, nothing. That’s why you have specialists. And I like to say, if you fall off a bicycle, you’re not going to be taken to the dermatologist and be taken to a specialist who knows how to fix bare bones that are broken. Right. And so the point is you isolate the processes in your life and when you can see them moment to moment, like I can see all the different systems in this room. And it’s been that way since 1999 or wherever I am driving in the car or whatever. I see separate systems, even separate trees out my window. Here you can see the dysfunctional ones, you can see the ones holding you back. It might be a horrible relationship with somebody that has been dragging you down for a long time. And so you can isolate that from all the other things going on in your life, isolate that relationship when you can, isolate that relationship and see what it’s doing. It’s sayonara right now. No excuses, no explanations. Goodbye, man. You’re out of my life and in processes when in business or one thing I did. Here’s a good illustration. Brilliant. If I can go on one more here. So we had files in our office way back in 1999 of every transaction we had with every client. I think we had five or 600 clients then we have about 1400 now, but we had a file cabinet after file. But for every transaction, you know why? Just in case somebody questioned what we did two years ago and on February 13th at 10 a.m., you know, and. It just seemed tedious to me as I had this new systems mindset, a very raw systems mindset. Of course, I’ve developed it, you know, since then. But one day we had a staff meeting, I think I had two managers and I said, Have either one of you ever gone into those file cabinets? So these people had been with me for quite a while and we’ve been doing this for years. Oh, we’ve got to keep the records. You got to keep the records. I have either one of you gone into our files to retrieve something to protect us, that we did what we were supposed to do at the answering service. And they said No. And I said, Well. Have either of you ever gone into they’ve been with me like eight years, eight years and six years, I think? And they both said, no, I never have. And so my systems mindset response to that was clean them out, now throw it all in the trash. And they were aghast that I would do a thing like that. You have to keep them. And I said, Why do we have to keep them? I’m about to lose a business. I don’t give a rat’s butt about those records and they’re just in the way. They’re taking up space, mental space as much as anything. And so when you get the systems mindset and you isolate your system, that was a useless system. And you know my mantra. Automate, delegate, delete, delete. Being the most favorite one.
Brilliant Miller [00:18:26] Yeah.
Sam Carpenter [00:18:27] Empty the cabinets and we’ll make a ceremonial. And we threw away hundreds of pounds of little slips of paper, big slips of paper, typed up stuff all went in the trash, never to be seen again. And we’ve never missed it even once. We never regretted that we did that. So having a systems mindset allows you to separate the problem processes from the constructive processes. And then you, as you mentioned before, Brilliant. Yeah. Get rid of some of the processes, but add some of the processes, some new processes you don’t have before. It’s a really different way of looking at things that I call one layer deeper. It really is a layer deeper way of looking at your life, and it’s a more accurate representation of how life works. It really is. But you have to have the systems mindset, you have to get it. And hopefully, by chapter four, a lot of people will get it. Some people take a long, long time to get it.
Brilliant Miller [00:19:27] Yeah, I think.
Sam Carpenter [00:19:28] That was a long explanation, but.
Brilliant Miller [00:19:30] It’s a great toilet paper thing. Thank you for sharing that. And this idea of the systems mindset or one layer deeper, you use a term that I appreciate because I think it helps really illustrate the way of accessing that. Right because it’s easy to say, well, just look at things differently or be different or do things differently or whatever. But this idea that you talk about outside and slightly elevated.
Sam Carpenter [00:19:58] Yeah.
Brilliant Miller [00:19:58] What you describe what do you mean by that and how I mean, as simple as that may sound, how can we consciously take that perspective?
Sam Carpenter [00:20:06] Okay. And that’s an analogy. And the analogy of going one layer deeper is really saying the same thing as being outside and slightly elevated. So if you’re talking about your business just as an example, talking about a business, so you so many people are in the middle of their business and they don’t have a business. If they disappear, the business goes away because the business is theirs. Now you are an artist and a producer and I’m a writer. There’s a certain amount of our lives we need to be in the middle of most people’s lives in a small business. For example, in my answering service, I was in the middle every everything I could do, everything I could fix, computers, I could hire people. I could take a deposit to the bank. I could talk the bank into a new loan. I, I could talk to an angry customer and calm them. Or I was, I was, you know, I was really proud of myself. It was so heroic. But you try to get outside of your business so you’re not in the middle of it and look down on it and kind of reach in, figuratively speaking, with your hands and manipulate those systems with the ultimate result of not wanting to be a master-slave relationship with you, being the slave to the master that is the business, the chaotic business itself. So I took my $21,000 business in and somebody offered me $14 million for it last week. Okay. And we have no debt. I mean, that’s not you know. Elon Musk territory at all. It’s a small business and I don’t even work 2 hours a month. It’s amazing. The management staff is highly paid. They do the system strategy thing and Diana and I have way more money than we need and way more time than we need. We do all this other stuff on the property management firm fund stuff. Walked my hounds this morning down in the canyons. I, I sat out I stood out on the porch before we talked. I got connected here before you did. Brilliant. And I walked out on the couch and I looked. You can see this beautiful yard we’re in. My two hands were out there with our two cats. The little cats. They all came to us by accident. And I looked around at our beautiful yard and I thought, I’m going to go in and talk to this guy for a long time, long interview. And my life is exactly the way I want it. It really is. It’s not perfect. I’m still unhappy for no reason at all, like most people. But I. I really am so pleased with the results of the system strategy in my life. Everything from the house we live into talking to you, to having this great bottle of water here. It’s all it really is all good. And I’ll tell you, I’ll tell our listeners this. Your life may never be perfect because you can you’ve heard all the stories laying there all the time, and all the money in the world is still may be unhappy. That’s really true. But that’s not my job. My job is to get people to have a lot of time and have a lot of money and extract themselves from the chaos. And then you figure it out from there. And by saying this, having more money than you need and plenty of time goes a long way toward making a person happy and feeling in control of themselves and in a position to contribute as you do. Brilliant. And like I do to brilliant to to to petition the outside world to get a little bit better. Yeah, it really is true. If you have enough time to have enough money, it sure helps. If it doesn’t make you happy, it’s your health.
Brilliant Miller [00:23:43] Yeah, no doubt. No doubt about that. I remember reading once someone who writes about happiness talked about right when certain needs aren’t met like Maslow’s hierarchy, when we don’t have security, physical security, food, shelter, that kind of thing, the happiness is very, very low, understandably. But once we cross a certain threshold, then we really don’t need that much to be happy. But one thing that’s extremely important in our happiness is our sense of autonomy, of our lives, and our sense to determine our own lives.
Sam Carpenter [00:24:19] Yeah.
Brilliant Miller [00:24:20] And one of the things that I think is remarkable is that we and you talk a little bit about this in work, it’s a system that many of us get so addicted to fire, killing or firefighting or just reacting to whatever problem comes up as a result of a poorly managed system. Right. That we don’t ever really embrace our responsibility, the responsibility we have to create our experience of life, because it’s so much easier to just always be putting out fires than to really ask maybe some of these higher level questions that are privileged to be able to ask. I want to just acknowledge, like, what is my purpose and what do I really want? And so forth. But my contention is that many of us are avoiding really asking those questions because it is so much easier just to deal with whatever problem is right in front of us. What’s your take on that?
Sam Carpenter [00:25:10] Yeah, it’s easier and it’s very satisfying. Okay, so somebody calls from the other office, they’re in a business and they say, can you come down and help me with this computer problem? And you able to do that to walk into their office and fix? How satisfying is that? Yes, yes. Yeah. Is heroic is what it is. And so you surround yourself with challenges, the same damn challenges all the time, even though they’re scattered all around like a renaissance man kind of thing. And you’re able to solve all these problems of satisfaction all day long. And you’re right. You put yourself in a position where you’re taking care of the easy stuff and you never do the hard stuff. And part of what my book talks about is documentation. Yeah, documentation of your systems. And that’s, that’s the hard part for most people. Oh, I’ve got to do something. I can’t just have this thing twisted in my head. Well, actually, you can’t have this thing twist in your head, but then there’s some work to do after that, and it will fit with this new systems mindset. The hard stuff is to sit down and document your processes. And that’s what we did that next morning. I, I documented and I’m sure you remember Brilliant. If you just read the book not too long ago, I went down and there was one big problem and we spent I spent about 8 hours of my time, you know, and this is all new to me. But it was 52 steps to solve this problem. And it immediately and I go into very good detail in the book, but that saves me 2 hours of the week, a week of time that I could get this process and give it to somebody else. And I haven’t done it since 1999. And I, I can’t remember how many 40 hours a week workweeks that is. But do the math, 2 hours a week since 1999. I haven’t done that calculation lately.
Brilliant Miller [00:27:06] But I mean, it’s over 400 hours. So you got right there, basically, you know.
Sam Carpenter [00:27:14] That’s, you know, did I say 2 hours a week?
Brilliant Miller [00:27:17] Yeah, 2 hours a week.
Sam Carpenter [00:27:18] 2 hours a day.
Brilliant Miller [00:27:20] Oh, 2 hours a day.
Sam Carpenter [00:27:21] Yeah, it was a 2 hours a day or 2 hours. No, I was 2 hours a week. Okay. 400 hours. I’ll take you. Yeah, I’m thinking of another piece. That’s more. The point is, I. We did that system. That process got documented, perfected, and we keep tweaking it. We’re even tweaking it to this day. It’s 12 pages long now. It was it was two pages long back then. But our receivables person and had to do with our receivables goes through it every time she does a billing. And there’s never a mistake, never an omission. She knows how it works because she’s got the systems mindset. Teresa And then we did that over and over again with all the other processes. The next process was How do we answer the phones? We created a language, a, a series of acronyms. We documented it all took us took us more than a month to put that together. But boy, did that improve things. And then we did it over and over and over. And within six months, my hundred hour workweeks are down to 40. And then it kept dropping, dropping, dropping, dropping, dropping to the point where I could write a book to these other businesses. And here I am today, oh, maybe 2 hours a month. And our our gross revenues now are literally well, I don’t know, 100, 100 times what they used to be, something like that. It’s awesome. 100 times.
Brilliant Miller [00:28:40] And to look at all those benefits of increased revenues and profits, decreased, you know, effort or brain damage, as you might say, the ability to to delegate, the ability to give other people a pathway of contributing, participating, you know, and you talk about this is really resonated with me, where you say the single major operational difference between the owner of a large successful business and the owner of a small struggling one. You ask it as a question right to the reader. Will you talk about that? What is the difference between a major, you know, like a large successful business and a small struggling one?
Sam Carpenter [00:29:16] You know, that paragraph brilliant. I spent I spent hours and hours crafting that paragraph to explain it, and I got a lot of satisfaction out of it. But I’ll paraphrase it here, and that is that the difference between a small struggling business and a big successful business is documentation. Because a small, struggling business, the wife does it this way. The husband does it this way. The new the new guy does it this way. Everybody has a different way of doing things. And it’s chaos.
Brilliant Miller [00:29:48] Yeah.
Sam Carpenter [00:29:49] And if you go to a successful business 100% of the time. 100% of the time, and I call it successful businesses where the owner isn’t in the middle of everything every day. Okay. They have documented their processes, whether you like it or not or whether you want it to be that way or not, doesn’t matter. That is the truth. That’s one of the small truths of business, is a small, struggling business will always be a small struggling business if everything’s ad hoc. Yeah, all the time. I don’t care what kind of business it is. And we’ve handled over 300 different businesses and the consulting company that we have and it doesn’t matter what kind of business it is, but that’s an absolute fact. And the people that come to us and I’m not connected financially to Josh Bangor’s consulting business or the system consulting and people can find an add on work the system dot com if they want hands on help, but they’re all the same. He works with them individually. He works on one, yeah, one on one or in group format. It’s always the same. These are people who have never documented anything boring but true. You’ve got to document your processes. And the beautiful thing is, what happened to me was for the first few months I did the documentation myself. But you really need your people to do it right, and they’re bought into it, especially. You don’t want to be doing documentation for years and years and giving it to people. They won’t do it. They need to they need to have skin in the game. So you show your people how to do the documentation first. This happens. Second, this happens. Third, this happens. Everything happens over time in a step by step process, you just write it down. Well, do I need special software? Well, we’ve got software for that. That’s fine. But you don’t need special software. It’s just one. This happens to the then you have, say, 25 steps. We have a seven step process. Brilliant for answering the phone at the front desk. Right. And you say your name. I forget how it is right now. That’s a good bit, but I think it’s a good morning. Step one, this is Sandy or whoever is answering the phone center. Tell, you’ve reached center tell. How can I help you? And then listen, listen and then write down what they say. And then there’s a sequence for saying goodbye. And it has to do with whether we need to get back to them or deliver a compliment or whatever it is. And so every process that is recurring and is human based is documented. And of course, when you have software engendered processes, the software is a document, right? And so if you have a problem in the software or you need to add a step, you go in and you do that. And we have software engineers in one in Romania and one in Italy. That that’s all they’re doing is working on our platforms and doing the software documentation. And then we have our operational staff who are there not with paper and pen. Of course it’s all software, but there’s always a process to either be created at this point, not too many, but there’s always a process to be tweaked to a higher level of perfection. And that’s how we operate. And people don’t walk around, you know, looking at their laptop to see what to do next. The fact that they’re documented and your people have done the documentation, they don’t need to go see what step four is. And step five, they know what it is in their heads. Yeah, the new person comes in, you say, look, do this and you hand it to them. And that’s what I did that day with that first process is one day after we had perfected it and taken, I think, a couple of weeks to get it the way we want it. I just handed it to somebody said, Go do that. And the litmus test is, can you hand it to somebody? Is the wording precise enough that you could take somebody off the street? Average intelligence, not on drugs can type can they do the process in your business. That’s that’s the degree of simplicity to which that you want to meet when you create a working procedure with all working procedure. So that is the difference between a small struggling business and a large successful business.
Brilliant Miller [00:34:16] Yeah, it makes a lot of sense and a question that I’m sure you encounter and you dealt with yourself as someone who owns and has worked inside and works on your business. Now is how, when you’re so busy, especially for people who don’t have a team or they have a very small team, how do you make the time? Time to actually document these things instead of just constantly dealing with the demands of the business.
Sam Carpenter [00:34:43] You? Well, yeah, that’s a great question. So not a great question in the sense it’s an impossible task, but a great question for somebody who’s watching this to start you, if you can see your separate systems and you can find one is dysfunctional. This never seems to go right within your business, for example. Right. You separate it. You will find the time to fix it. You will find the time to fix it. And you. The heroic part of this is finding the time to fix that system. And then the next one, it may be just a half hour to put a procedure together. It might be 10 minutes or it might be 2 hours. But when you see that process is no longer dysfunctional, all your people see the process, the document, and approved it and added something here and took something else. When all your people have it, and I don’t know if you have 100 people or six people or one person helps you, but once you solve that problem with this methodology, you get very excited about finding a freaking time to do this work. And so the big hurdle and I talk about it in the book is to do the heroic, then take a minute city, your desk quietly, take a deep breath and think about what you do most dysfunctional problem list and then take care of it. And then you’ll see the results of that. And this is how I got from 100 hours a week down to 40 and now down to two. Every time something came up that took any of my time that besides major overall R&D, which I need to do with my staff, but all the little stuff has been been automated, delegated or deleted to the point where I work 2 hours a month. How long did it how long would it take me to take that company? Now, with what I know in this book, to guide me that I have. It took me about five years to straighten my business out. Two of those years, years were lost to a a major lawsuit. I was I was I like to say, the protagonist. I was the petitioner, but I lost two years because of a bad international partnership relationship I had. So it really took maybe three years to fix my business. But in refining things and following the guidelines here, I would have fixed our businesses six months now. Well, and and even even with stumbling around trying to figure this out, I didn’t have a name for the systems mindset yet. In six months I had gone from 100 hours a week to 40 and my health started to improve. And I talk about how my health got really bad. I had these hormone imbalances and and I’m a pretty athletic guy, but I, I was killing myself. And it took two years to get my, some of my basic hormones back to normal. And that was with a combination of prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs and getting enough sleep and eating correctly. I was single at the time, but it can happen. And here I am today with the life I want to lead rather than the middle of this much, much bigger, but even more by the layers complex business that I had back then.
Brilliant Miller [00:38:09] Yeah, well, good, good for you for really making that happen, because I know and you and I talked a few days ago before we did this interview, and I shared with you a little of my experience of my dad, who was an entrepreneur, that he didn’t take care of himself this way. So he died with a whole host of complications that were the result of high stress, long hours, poor diet, little sleep, not going to the doctor and so forth. And you and I hope many people listening not only see the possibility, but do what you’re doing, create not only create the life you love, but really taking care of yourself along the way. And I do think, you know, there is, as you well know, there’s no magic wand, there’s no silver bullet, there’s no single person we’re going to hire that’s going to manage all these problems for our businesses. When, you know that’s a fallacy, we sometimes allow ourselves to indulge in. But but this thing about documentation, I just want to I want to stay with this for a moment because this idea that, you know, first of all, we can build a machine, so to speak, and it’s almost a time machine where this investment of time upfront to document it can be a shift in gears, it can be uncomfortable, it can be unfamiliar, that kind of thing. It’s a different mode of working to be the hero. Put out the fire. But it makes these otherwise abstract or ephemeral processes more concrete. You talk about that in the book, and I really appreciate that as a as an I don’t know, as an image, as an idea that we’re taking something that is intangible and we’re somehow giving it substance by writing it down. Not to mention that we’re scrutinizing, right? We’re scrutinizing and refining it and collaborating it on the same page. But will you talk a little bit about that?
Sam Carpenter [00:39:55] Yeah, that’s great. That’s one of my favorite nuances of the systems mindset. How do you take an organic process? Okay. How you answer the phone in the office. Sounds like an organic process.
Brilliant Miller [00:40:07] Doesn’t anybody knows how to answer a phone?
Sam Carpenter [00:40:09] Come on. Well, I want to be myself and everything. Well, you can still be yourself, but have a perfect script that that your whole group agrees is the best way to answer the phone. You don’t leave out your name, you pleasant. The step one is to put a smile on your face, actually, because the voice will sound better. So you have all these organic processes and let’s just take it any kind of business. That small and entrepreneur just started it and he’s got more energy than anybody in the world. And he’s a smart person and he or she and and and they jump right in and do the work. Got to get more customers, got to take care of the customers. Got to develop this process. Got it. About that process. Those are organic processes. In other words, they fluctuate. Mm hmm. And so what happens is the business gets a little bigger, gets a little bigger, and pretty soon there’s a half a dozen people working, and they’re all doing stuff a different way. And that’s chaos. And so how do you take an organic process and make it a mechanical process? And I’m about mechanics. I’m not about feeling good and then fixing your life and about fixing your life. And I’m telling you, you’ll feel good when you do that. I’m a mechanical guy. So the mechanical part of this is to identify the problematic organic systems. Those are the ones that have no basis in reality tangibly. And turn it into something tangible, which is seven steps on a piece of paper that your crew all agrees is the best way to do it. Then you all agree you’ll do it that way. And if anybody has an idea of improving it, please let us know because we will instantly fix it if we all agree. And moving quickly is very important in this in these procedures. And he’s working procedures. He’s tangible now. These tangible working procedures can be changed on a dime. It doesn’t have to go to a committee in a small business and a manager should always maintain. I would hope the manager tries to maintain enough power within the organization to tweak a process without having to go check with the boss, though some of them you have to, of course. And I did it for a long time. I checked every single one of them, but I haven’t checked one in years that they’ve come up with back there. But in my headquarters in Bend, Oregon, so the tangibility is everything brilliant. It’s it makes it real. Otherwise it’s just kind of a good feeling and a good idea. And that’s that’s an important point. And that that’s what documentation does it it gives it tangibility gives you some to freaking work with, right.
Brilliant Miller [00:42:50] Yeah.
Sam Carpenter [00:42:51] Something else to change, something to make better.
Brilliant Miller [00:42:53] Absolutely. And something else, I mean there’s a lot in it that that really makes a lot of sense about, especially if you have it from the ground up from the front line. The people doing the process are the ones who originated. Not only do they have more buy in, but it will probably be a better result than if it was some manager somewhere far removed from the customers or the the clients is is one. But another that I love about it is that, you know, somebody once told me before someone can meet your expectation, they have to know what it is. And by putting it down on paper and saying, this is what I expect of you. And by the way, it’s not just this top down, unilateral thing. It’s again, if you have a way of improving it, by all means, let us know. And I think the immediacy that you just talked about is important, too, because if it becomes bureaucratic, if it becomes like it’s something that is delayed and goes through committees or whatever or sits on the owner’s desk or waits for his or her response, then I think it will lose will probably have the opposite effect of being, you know, something that’s actually useful in delivering value. Yeah. So all you want is a ton of sense to do it.
Sam Carpenter [00:43:57] I can give you a great illustration of this. You know, I love Jordan Peterson, okay? I love Jordan. One of the his greatest abilities is to tell stories. He’s the analogy king of the world, but he’s also great at telling stories. So let me tell you a story that illustrates this real well. So I had a one on one consultation with a big fertilizer company in Alberta, Canada. I spent a month up there. I think I came back to Oregon once when I was living in Oregon, but it was just barely deep into the process. And he really he’s I talk about Mike in the beginning of the book where he’s the one that said Dysfunction is gold. And we can talk about that in a minute. But so he had a warehouse, fertilizer, forklifts and guys like eight guys or 12 guys. I forget how many. But anyway, I was working with him out there and they really got it too. And Mike was a powerful leader. Is a powerful leader, and they got it to this working procedure thing. And what they had was a procedure for something that happened about moving stuff around in this big warehouse and big heavy loads on a forklift, moving it from here to there and this and that. And they said the new guy came in, so they brought a new guy in and they had been operating off this procedure 20 some steps. I remember that and this is how we do it. And he actually had this new guy had a lot of experience at a at another company in a warehouse. And of course, the new guy always wants to impress everybody in earnest. Keep and he said and they gave it to me, this is how we do it now. I do it my way. They know you got to do it this way. No, I’m going to do it my way. You guys hired me. I’m probably more experienced than most of you guys. Okay, go ahead. So they worked for a few days and he did it his way. He did it his way. And then the boss took him and he said, I just want you to try it this way, okay? Do it exactly this way and what I want and this is a key. Brilliant. This is key. So he said to him to get him on his side, punch holes in it, find out where we can improve this process and let us know what you think of it all together. I know you. I know you didn’t want to do it at first, but let’s take your experience and put it into this process and see if we make our process better. Turn it loose. A couple days later, the guy came back. He said, This is really good. I would fix and step between step 13 and 14. I would put another step in to do this. And the guys in the crew, the guys at the bottom. Blind guys all they had a meeting and they went through it. They went through it. They went this guy was totally on board. He contributed. He was happy. Everybody was happy. And the process was faster and more efficient and safer, of course. So that’s that happens over and over and over again with the new new person that comes in to a process operated business. And you ask them to take a look at this. I like that. I love the term punch holes in it. I don’t know why I use it all the time. Punch holes in it. Let us know what we can do. But if you go top down like you were talking about before, brilliant top down military works because they have guns in military jails. That’s the way it has to be. I mean, you can’t do that in the military. You’ve got to have a real chain of command and you still have your chain of command in the business. But the bottom up with the guys and girls, ladies on the bottom, writing the procedures and running them up through management. So management can do a final approval. If it’s if it’s an important enough procedure, that’s the way to get everybody on board and that’s the way to build a team. I just one of our people retired from the answering service. She answered phones for 29 years now. And then one just had a 25 year anniversary two weeks ago and another one a year before her had a 25 year anniversary. But most of my people have been with me a long, long time. And it’s not because somebody got a bullwhip and told them what to do. It’s because they get to contribute. And that’s how we’re the best. We are in our 800 competitors. We’re the best. I don’t care what the measurement is, error rate, rate of pay, what we charge customers, number of administrative staff, you know, per dollar, whatever you want to measure, we are the best. And then the reason is, is because we have this bottom up strategy. It’s not a democracy at all. It’s more of a benevolent dictatorship. But everybody gets to come from the bottom up and feel like they’re being heard. And when they do make a suggestion, something happens, something does happen, and maybe somebody will go back to it and say, we can’t do that because of this. Oh, okay. And I understand. But not usually. Usually it’s something that could be improved. Yeah.
Brilliant Miller [00:48:51] Yeah, there’s there’s so much there’s so much value in that. And we as humans, we want structure. I mean, as much as we resist it, I think of the simple example of kids and bedtime having an established bedtime. And then, you know, there’s nothing to push against. But especially in the workplace, we want to know what’s expected of us. We want to know if we’re winning, right? We want to feel a sense of enjoyment and meaning and and connectedness in our work. And knowing that this isn’t dependent on, you know, how I feel or if somebody else is going to do it the same way or whatever. And I think also that one thing that you talked about about dysfunction is gold or seeing problems as red flags. This is, to me, another real value that comes from taking a systems mindset of not just right. I love Tony Robbins view of quality problems. You know, that there is such thing and even to go another step aside to recognize that happiness and problems have no necessary relationship. This we touched on earlier, right when we take this more empowered view of, hey, if something’s not working in this business, if I’m experiencing dysfunction, if there’s a problem that’s pointing to something, it’s not just, you know, it’s not just an effing problem. It’s like there’s an opportunity there, right? And there’s something, I think, deeply empowering in that as a whole, as a whole come from as a whole attitude related to a systems mindset.
Sam Carpenter [00:50:10] Well, yeah. And as you start down this road, we call them red flags for improvement, right? Oh, there’s something we can fix. And so there’s two steps to fix the immediate problem. Maybe it’s with the customer, but then examine how that problem came up with the customer. Maybe there’s something you can repair over here in the process. So red flags for improvement and you get a lot of them at the beginning, we hardly have any at all. Now we even have a process of taking care of complaints. We’re going to call back in a day, three days, two weeks in a month and see if that happened again. Can you imagine the loyalty you instill in your clients when you do that? Because usually calling complain and they do well a lot of times, depending on who’s to respond, maybe it is your fault, but a lot of times it’s not. And so we go back, even if it is our fault, we go back and we we check in with the client. So that red flag for improvement was a complaint. Yeah. Somewhere many years ago, we put our heads together and said, let’s come up with a process. This red flag for improvement says we have to have a structured, solid bullet proof complaint procedure, and that’s what it was. And so reminders come up. We have a very customized platform that we operate from that takes a whole bunch of different data. And bring it. It brings it in. But the person who’s handling that particular complaint gets reminders. Call so-and-so at this number about that problem that happens there. And you can go there to see what the problem is. And so we don’t lose a lot of accounts when we have a problem and we are when we have problems and everybody has problems in the answering service, business is wrought with. There’s so many potholes first for failure. There’s so many moving parts in this kind of a business that you really have to have that or your life will be hell. It’ll be.
Brilliant Miller [00:52:08] Okay. Yeah. And I think that’s true of any business worth it growing any business worth continue, no doubt. And for people listening they might, you know, who are especially in that situation of being a solopreneur, a fledging entrepreneur, maybe they’ve been in it like you were a decade or more, but they haven’t they certainly haven’t perfected it. They’re they’re they’re just kind of overwhelmed. And they’re hearing the promise of adopting the systems mindset, of documenting things. But one thing that we haven’t touched on that I think might serve them is to also talk about what I would call like the first order of work with creating a strategic outcome and creating general operating principles and how those fit into this, because it could be easy to get all excited and just start dropping things and there might be value in that. But I think if that happens within the context of these other documents. So when you talk about what those are and why they might matter for somebody.
Sam Carpenter [00:53:05] So in the book, there’s three parts. The part one is getting the systems mindset. Part two is documentation. And you’re right, the first documentation has to be, well, what, you know, brilliant, but it’s three, three documents. The first is a strategic objective. And very quickly, what that is, it’s I’m not a big fan of mission statements. We want our customers to be happy. We want our employees to be happy. We’re going to be the best we can be. It’s B.S. It’s crap. Everybody wants that. But if you have a page of what you want to get to and kind of win in how you’re going to do it and what even what you’re not going to do 300 words that’s called a strategic objective. And you always go back to that. You always go back to that. And of course, that document has to be done by the owner of the business. Run it by your people, but it’s got to be your vision. You’re the solopreneur. You’re the entrepreneur. So you get a. No, we call it anything compared. This is really this is really cool. I think the documentation of the United States of America. So that would be the Declaration of Independence. Okay. Okay. And then the next thing is your operating principles. Okay. These are the things we’re going to do. These are the things we’re going to not do. We have 30 of them. No, no rat’s nest, figuratively or physically. All right. And there’s a whole Internet back in the appendix of the book, and it sounds like I’m trying to sell my book. It’s it’s less than one half a percent of my total income is book sales and everything related with the book. I do this because I love to do it. But in the back of the book and you can even get the happiness appendices if you have the audible, there’s a way to go to a link and get those in hard copy. It. We list the 30 principles that are what we call let’s see. We would call them trying to think of the phraseology we use.
Brilliant Miller [00:55:24] I think you use a term somewhere about guidelines for making decisions.
Sam Carpenter [00:55:27] Guidelines? Yeah. I haven’t talked about this in so long. Guidelines for decision making. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Thank you.
Brilliant Miller [00:55:33] Right. Because these are they’re not quite values per se, although there there are a lot like values and we know we can’t legislate everything. Right? Like we’re probably not going to create a procedure for every single thing that would ever happen in our business. Some of them that recur, it’s important to, but for others, it works well enough to just have a set of general operating principles.
Sam Carpenter [00:55:54] Exactly. So for those things you don’t have a process for. You’re exactly right. Thank you. Helped me with my book. Oh. Number one, company decisions conform to the strategic objective 30 principles and working procedure documents. And then I’ll pick number ten. The money we save or waste is not Monopoly money. Exclamation point. You know, we are careful not to devalue the worth of a dollar just because it has has to do with the business. Right. And another simple one would be sequenced in priority are critical. We work on the most important tasks first, and that’s how you identify the first one, the most dysfunctional things in business. You identify those and solve those problems first. And then I say we spend maximum time on non-urgent slash important tasks via Stephen Covey’s time matrix philosophy. So I spend an awful lot of time, put these together and everybody get they don’t have to have 30, you can have four, you can go 60 to 30. Seemed about right to me. That’s the second series and that again has to be done by the leader and approved and and not approved commented upon by the staff. Right. And then the third or most of the work is done forever is the working procedures where you have documented each separate procedure and how it’s supposed to be. Yeah. And it doesn’t set up on a three-ring binder in the shelf and we’ve seen that we have a guy in California kind of read through the book quick and people always want to start with the working procedures. He spent a couple of years writing working procedures himself, and he had binder after binder on this wall, you know, in his office. And nobody ever looked at them because they. They were too busy and they got no relevance to reality. It was it was a horrible error, actually. But two working procedures are ultimately created by your people and approved by you as the leader or your manager who is designated to do that. So those are three primary documents, and we talked about documentation earlier. That’s kind of what we’re talking about. But you got to spend, oh, you know, 4 to 6 hours. Maximum, putting together your strategic objective, right. And then your principles kind of you put in you’re not going to sit down in one setting for 4 to 6 hours. You’re going to do it over a set of days. But I would say 4 to 6 hours of massaging, getting it perfect. You really want it to be perfect and it will tweak you will tweak it over the first few years, literally to get it closer to what you want. And then the operating principles come together pretty quickly. I carried a piece of paper in my pocket for weeks and weeks and wrote down ideas for them. Oh yeah, we don’t want any rat’s nest, figuratively or physically. And I wrote it down and I added to it. I worked on it. I don’t know how many hours I spent it, but it took I bet I took six weeks to kind of get the basics together. But then again with those, those got tweaked and so on, my staff would say, What about you are always saying this and what about that? And I say, Oh yeah, I forgot about that. You write about that and then the working procedures. So those are the three documents, but you got to spend the time. This is the heroic part in doing this strategic objective and doing the principles and doing that first couple of working procedures. And you’re on your way to freedom.
Brilliant Miller [00:59:29] Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s right. And that’s the promise of the book, right? To make more and work less. And and it doesn’t happen by accident. It is possible there is a method and there are probably many methods, but this is one and you proved it in your life. And to many, many clients. I want to go back for just a moment to the analogy that you were laying out about how the strategic objective is like the Declaration of Independence. Yeah, right. And then the general operating principles is this.
Sam Carpenter [00:59:59] I drop that thread. Yeah, that’s the Constitution. Yeah. Yeah. And then the working procedures are the laws of the land. Right. State by state or federal laws. So yeah, it’s, it’s funny that our founders may be the most brilliant gathering of men, of course, ever anywhere, kind of came up with the same thing. And I came up, didn’t I? I’m kind of smug about it, but I came up with the three documents and somebody later in my office said this just like this is just like our founding documentation. Well, there’s some logic to it, I guess, and but you have to have a direction if you’re going from A to B, you got to identify free can be, you know, the answer is the Declaration of Independence. You’ve got to have some rules of the road, some some basic theories that everybody agrees on. There’s your Constitution and then the laws of the land change all the time. And they’re added to and subtracted mostly added to in this country. But it’s the same thing in what you were saying before are brilliant. This isn’t a take away from Tony Robbins or Stephen Covey or any other great guys out there. Oh, I have a this is an underlying this is underneath those philosophies and even even whatever religion you might be following, it’s underneath. It doesn’t replace any of it. And so I have a video out there. If people go to the Web site, work the system dot com and sign up one of the first videos I sent out and they’re all very short, but it talks about that the second or the third one, I forget it says Whatever you believe now, whatever menu you’re following, pull up politics left, right, whatever spiritual thing you do, if you do anything at all, maybe you’re an atheist, but whatever you believe, just put it over here for a minute and travel down this road for a little while with me. Not law. Just travel down a law. You’re going to come back to those things. Probably. You’re not going to abandon a bunch of stuff. You’re probably going to come back to some semblance of whatever you believe before. But you’ll have this underlying mechanical grasp of your life now, where when you finally a menu, you’re following a menu, you say, okay, number four on the menu and I’m being ridiculous. Number four on a menu says to do this, so I guess I’ll do this or I’ll believe this or I’ll believe that. I hear you’re a Republican or a liberal or or you’re and in Kashmir Azad Kashmir parliament or the Pakistani government or or Chinese or whatever you are, whatever you believe, you’ll go back to that. But you go back to that with a better grasp on mechanical reality. And as I said before, I’m about mechanical reality. I believe you fix your life first mechanically. You can’t. You have to fix your life mechanically before you have the resources and the energy to enjoy life and and the time and the money. So fix your mechanical problem first and so much brilliant, you know, so much that you got to do, you know? Okay, I got the systems mindset, I admit to that. But follow my philosophy and your whole life will be improved and you got to follow this menu.
Brilliant Miller [01:03:33] Right?
Sam Carpenter [01:03:34] Oh, no, no, no. That’s not the way it works. Because you’re still an individual and you still have to operate. So fix your mechanics. You know, maybe you’re in a relationship. Let’s make this a little easier. You have a girlfriend, okay? You’re 22. You’ve got a girlfriend. She’s been your girlfriend for four years. She’s driving you crazy. And I don’t mean to appear to be a misogynist. Maybe I should turn it around. Okay. You’re the girl, and the guy is an idiot. Okay, but you love him. He’s handsome, he’s got money and everything. But you get the systems mindset and you realize, really, he’s dragging you down, girl. He’s dragging you down. And when you get this systems mindset, one day you’re saying, Sayonara, man, I’m done with you. I didn’t realize that you had invaded and infected every area of my life. And that’s maybe a little extreme as far as a business goes and may be. Here’s another one. You go into a small business. We have this happen all the time and I’ll say the brother-in-law, it’s not always the brother-in-law. You go to a small business, there’s a guy who runs a business, his wife works with him, and the brother-in-law is the sales manager and has been there forever and days. He’s lazy, he doesn’t do anything. And you talk to the owner, you know, we’re talking to him about doing a one-on-one consultation or group, group coaching, whatever. And we take a look at the business and he tells Josh, Josh Fungus, my guy who does all the hands-on stuff. Josh The big problem I got in the business is my brother-in-law and I can’t talk to my wife about it because he’s family and everything. And Josh will say, look, if you’re not prepared, it might not come to this, but it very well might. You got to say goodbye to this guy and work it out with your wife because he’s dragging your whole operation down. And that’s where you’re deleting the system, deleting a system that’s just been dragging everything down. And, of course, it follows down into the less onerous areas of a certain procedure that has a glitch in it. You fix that little glitch and the procedure now works like a charm. And it’s written down now, too. But you can see you isolate, you isolate things and you do it with documentation, but you got to know where you’re going. You got to know generally what everybody’s going to agree on. And then you have to document these processes. And that’s those are the three documents in part two of this book.
Brilliant Miller [01:06:04] It makes sense and it’s a cohesive system. And sometimes, you know, these things, they don’t occur to us or they might not even be obvious if they are pointed out. But when we see that there are people who have applied them and have achieved success, and especially when what we’re doing isn’t working as well as it could, I mean, it’s a great option. So maybe the last thing I want to I have to ask questions in this part of the interview. One of them is the difference between a job at a business. You touched on this a little earlier in our conversation, but will you describe how you see the difference between a job and a business?
Sam Carpenter [01:06:44] Sure. So a job you may be paying the taxes, you may be doing a worker’s comp, you may be hiring two people and you’re calling it a business. But if you have to be there, it’s a job. And I talk about I don’t know how far you got in the book that brilliant. But there’s a story in there about a guy who loves to fish. And he went to Alaska in his fifties and he bought a fishing boat and it was $700,000. I don’t know what he paid is the enormous amount of money for him at the time. And all he wanted to do is take people out and enjoy fishing. Well, it was halibut fishing in Homer, Alaska. Okay. The reels have motors on them. Okay. Yeah, okay. Halibut and the electric motor wins the halibut up. You throw it in the boat. Oh, it’s big halibut. That’s great. But he had to take his boat through the surf, the really rough seas for 2 hours to get to this place that he had located, where all the halibut were. We all got our limits immediately. I think it was two fish at that time. And then he took us all back and so the guys got up at 4:00 because he also houses the fish. Men who come up from the states. Right. This guy. This guy was unhappy. Okay. Really? Really an unhappy person. And so that is a job that is not a business. That’s a that’s horrible. A business is where, like me, my I got 60 people all spread across the United States and Europe. And I don’t do anything. That’s a business. I could sell that business. I could sell that business tomorrow if I want. But the income’s too good. We’re a 30% plus profit margin, and I’ve been doing it for 40 years and I love doing it. I want to keep doing it. I love the people who work. For me, that is a business. But, you know, one of the defining characteristics is whether can you sell your business. So this guy couldn’t sell his business because he was the business.
Brilliant Miller [01:08:56] Totally dependent on him.
Sam Carpenter [01:08:57] Yeah. Yeah. That’s a really important concept. Brilliant. Thank you for bringing it up.
Brilliant Miller [01:09:03] Yeah, it’s. And it’s one I think is people, you know, have a frame because again, entrepreneurs, we’ve all heard this idea of work on the business, not in the business and so forth. But to me, there was something that was really useful about asking, where am I? Am I working a job here or am I owning a business? Yeah, that’s that’s really.
Sam Carpenter [01:09:25] That’s really how many people own businesses. But they don’t really. They think they do, but they don’t. If you know, the key question is, can you sell it tomorrow? Yeah. Is a positive cash flow. Do you have to be there or not? And so many people have to be there. And here’s the thing and here’s what I was talking about earlier. I have to write these books. Call it a job if you want. You have to be there as the guy who interviews people like me. That’s a job, if you want to call it that. But it’s a little tiny fraction of time. Right. Compared to the whole week of what we do things. An entertainer. Derek Jeter with the Yankees? Yeah. I’m sorry, but that was a job. Yeah, great job. And I talk about that. Yeah. You found that in the book. The chapter I have on the great parts, the why is having a job is not a real bad thing, right? You want to have a security and all the other things I’ve listed in there. But if you want to have a business, this is what you have to do. And so my whole thing is for people who own businesses and want to break free. Stop the chaos. Get out of it and have a life. So I had another guy who loved about Climb. He, when I last saw him was maybe 15 years ago. I climbed Mount Rainier with him. He was a guide and it was his 300th climb, a 302nd climb or something like that up or because he loved him on climb where he’s in his toe. Okay, now the guy’s in his forties. Okay. I’m sorry. I don’t care how motivated you are, but things start to slow down after a while. And he was going to go for 600 and I thought, my God. And then I used to race bicycles. The same thing. I want to be in bicycle all my life. Well, what have run a bicycle shop? Is that really what you want to do? Why not find? There’s so many businesses out there that are mismanaged by some dumb business, like an answering service, you know, some really standard, boring business. I shouldn’t say dumb. I say boring business like an answering service and fix it with the systems mindset and then go climb around or, you know, go take a wacky K2 or in the next day or whatever, or take your bike out every night because you got time to do it and have fun with your friends. But to try to make a career out of something that you’re really good at and something you really love is a lot of times is a mistake because you turn it into something that it wasn’t before. That’s not the business you want. That’s the fun you want to have with your life. The business might be buying back company somewhere and fixing it, you know, that could be.
Brilliant Miller [01:12:03] Yeah, that. I think that’s really a useful insight. Well, Sam, I know we’ve covered so much already about work, the system, and some of these philosophies and some of these practices. But before we transition to another part of the interview, is there anything that we haven’t talked about that you want to talk about or you think might be of service to the listener?
Sam Carpenter [01:12:23] Oh, yeah. I’m going to say get my book. I really have refined the book over 14 years. It’s in its fourth edition. I’m very proud of this that came out last year. Then a lot of it’s grammatical. I’ve had actual things, actually, thousands of little improvements over the third edition in here. It really is a good compendium and I wrote it. I started to write the book as a guide for my people at Central Tell. Okay. It developed into something I realized that anybody could use. And I had such great success with the process that 14 years later it’s really refined. You probably really need to start with the book so you can download the first for all the front matter, the first four chapters for free and work the system dot com and get on a mailing list. That would be the first thing I’d do. Yeah, there is one more thing, two more things, actually. But the book really is a solid compendium of this of what we’re talking about today. Brilliant. What I do with people regarding the systems mindset, if I’m talking to a group, we kind of go into a meditation thing, sort of a meditation thing. Keep your eyes open and everything, but look around you wherever you are and start to identify the separate systems. Okay. So for me, there’s this light that you can’t see. There’s the heating and air conditioning. It’s very hot here. And contact me today. So the cool air is coming out. There’s my dog, Jessie, right here. Oh, and Pearl’s in the other room. She’ll be joining us in a minute. But there are separate systems to write a book, all these books. This is a system. This is a process. Yep. So you visualize wherever you are or if you’re in a car. The cars that are coming by you are separate systems. The people who are driving them are separate from the cars. And of course, they’re all separate from each other. Your liver is separate from, as I said, your lungs and your brain is separate from your mouth. They all work together, I get that. But they’re all separate. And so start to visualize the separate systems in your life. That’s how you get to the systems mindset. And for some people, it happens like that as they’re reading the pages. And for other people, it takes a while. Now, my guy Josh has been with me for 12 years. 12 years. Josh, for longer. He’s a he’s got an MBA. He’s a smart guy. And he’s just moved from his dream house on Kawaihae in Hawaii to last week to is moving to Tennessee. Wow. And so he runs all my consulting and coaching. And again, I’m not financially connected to him. I gave him the business. But after working for me for a few weeks in this guy and then this about 12 years ago, he came to the office one day he said, Sam, I think I’m going crazy. I said, Well, what? What’s the problem? He says, A systems mindset thing. I see everything is separate systems and it’s making me crazy. I see my kids as separate systems. I see my wife as a separate system. I see my car, I see the radio is being separate from the gas pedal. It’s I think I’m I think I’m going to be overwhelmed. I think I’m going crazy. And I kind of laughed and I said, and then he said, How long? And I said, This role, this too shall pass. Because you’re now you now have a more accurate view. He says, Oh, yeah, this is I see. This is the way the world is put together. This was 12 years ago, and he’s writing all my stuff now. And he said, I remember him asking me, he said, How long will it take to where? I don’t think my brain is going to explode. I said, I don’t know. I’ll give it a few weeks or something, but you’re not going to be able to go back to what it was before, so you might as well just get used to it. Well, it took him less time than that, but he still remains to be he still continues to be amazed at the effectiveness of it and the reality of seeing things as separate separates them. And we you know how we are from the sixties. We’re all one and all of us. I was at Woodstock and I did the drugs, so I’ve got my credentials to talk like this. But we aren’t all one. I mean, you want to go down to the granular atom level? Yeah, we’re all one. Great. And how good does that do you? But the truth is, we’re all separate, and all the things in our lives are separate. The way the water comes out of the water spout, out in the kitchen out here doesn’t have anything to do with me going over there and turn the lights on. Nothing. And that’s a perfect illustration. You know, I could go. We’ve got an espresso coffee maker. I could go make myself an espresso right now. What is that got to do with putting the dog out? Because a dog has to go to the bathroom is zero. And the truth is, if you can see those as separate. Most people don’t. They do. They see the world as a mass of sights, sounds and events, a swirling mass of sights, sounds and events, and they can’t get a grip on it. So when you get a grip on it as one system at a time, you know, and you take the worst dysfunctional one and fix that 1/1, then the next dysfunctional one and fix that one next and on and on. And then you get to a place where all you do all day long is work on systems. Honest to God, that’s what you do. And you have other people doing the work. We have a well, I’m writing another book that’s separate. I have we have a little property development company where I think eight houses or something like that. And Diana totally has the system. My wife has a systems mindset. We’re hiring people to do all the work and showing them how to do it, to free us up, to do other things. And and it’s it’s you find yourself getting ahead and you’re so convinced. And it doesn’t take long that this is the right way to look at your life. You’ll never go back. You can never go back. You don’t want to go back. I think I say that in this fourth edition. You can’t go back in any way. You don’t want to go back because.
Brilliant Miller [01:18:36] Yeah, it makes sense. It makes a lot of sense for sure. Well, Sam, we’re I know we’re about at the time that we had said we would use when we started. I probably have if you’re up for it, not another 30 minutes. 20, at least 20 minutes. So questions, are you okay with that?
Sam Carpenter [01:18:51] Oh, yeah. Okay. I love talking about this stuff. You can tell, right?
Brilliant Miller [01:18:55] Yes. And yeah, you’re clearly giving it a lot of thought and done a lot of work. So. Okay. I want to go ahead and transition us to the lightning lightning round. So it’s a series of questions on a variety of topics. My aim for the most part is to ask the question and kind of stand aside. I might tug on a few of your answers here and there, but otherwise I’ll just keep us moving through it.
Sam Carpenter [01:19:17] Okay. Brilliant.
Brilliant Miller [01:19:18] Okay. Question number one. Please complete the following sentence with something other than a box of chocolates. Life is like a.
Sam Carpenter [01:19:27] Can I rephrase the question a little bit? Sure. Life is a collection of processes that you either control or you don’t control, but your life is a collection of processes. In the box of chocolates for something is very interesting and it’s very true. But it suggests randomness and well, surprises are great. It suggests you don’t know what you’re going to get next. And my message to our listeners viewers is that you can you can make what you want happen if you pay attention to the separate processes and get a hold of the ones that will get you there. So it’s not as random as like Forrest Gump just suggests. Right.
Brilliant Miller [01:20:10] It doesn’t have to be for sure. Okay. Thank you. Question and number two, what’s something about which you have changed your mind in recent years?
Sam Carpenter [01:20:23] You know. We all want to get along with people right in every phase of life and you can to put it in decades. How you were when you’re 20 to 30 is different from how you were from 30 to 40 or 40 or 50. 50. 60. Okay. Yeah. In my sixth decade. I’m 72 now. I’ll be 73 in October, somewhere in my sixth decade to the end of the sixth decade. I learned to say no. I really learned to people. I really, really although I prophesized this before I. I really started to get almost a little constructive, cynical attitude about certain business deals, people, even family members that I need to limit. And I, you know, older guys are often accused of being cranky old men. Well, there’s a reason for that. And so. What happens is there’s a certain amount of B.S. in life. You’re much younger than me. Brilliant. And and so everybody in my office is 30 in their thirties, except for a couple that are once 50 and one’s early forties to early forties. There’s a whole lot in a lifetime that happens, and I think a person has a certain reservoir of putting up with a certain amount, a limited amount of B.S.. Okay. And been down on certain roads so many times. You don’t want to repeat that again. And I think this has to do with just getting older and maybe maybe a propensity for crankiness as you get into your sixties, in your seventies, and you can say, well, I don’t feel useful anymore in all this and that’s not my life. But I what I’ve learned to do, and it’s in full keeping with the systems mindset is a very good question. Thank you for challenging me. I’m less and less emotional about relationships and more mechanical about them. I’m very deliberate about the relationships I have. I have a half a dozen, a really good friends, and five of them are guys, and one of them is a lady who works for me. But I have a certain limited number of friends where I used to have a ton of what I call friends. And now they’re just acquaintances. And I. I am not doing Facebook anymore. I’m not doing the social media, you know, kind of which gets into the virtue signaling thing. So one of the things I don’t do anymore is as time gets shorter, lets face it is not waste time on bad relationships or bad deals and with another organization maybe or any bad stuff, I jettisoned it quickly. So that mantra of automate, delegate, delete I I’m a real pro at deleting now in relationships I just had this morning I just ended a relationship with a new company that was going to do a video for us and it was too much B.S. And I there were years before me where I would say, Well, let’s try to work it out. But when you spend hours and hours and hours, just try to put the deal together, it’s not going to work out in the long run. I’ve learned that and my guy, my i.t. Chief engineer in italy was trying to make a deal with some marketing people for us over there and they couldn’t put the deal. They couldn’t put the deal together. And he used to use a great phrase to suggest what he told the guy finally and hung up the phone. And he’s he’s learned from me, don’t spend. I wish I had done this sooner. Don’t spend a lot of time on relationships that all the indicators are. The red flags for improvement at the beginning are it’s not going to go well because there’s a lot of people out there you should be spending your time trying to make a good deal with. And when you find those people hang on to them for dear life, they’re there. They’re out there. But when you find them, make them close. Do what you need to do to keep them close friends or compatriots in business or whatever. So yeah, that’s that’s a very good question. And I do relate this to my age.
Brilliant Miller [01:24:52] All right. Well, thank you for that.
Sam Carpenter [01:24:54] Yeah.
Brilliant Miller [01:24:54] Okay. Question number three. If you were required every day for the rest of your life to wear a t shirt with a slogan on it or a phrase or saying or quote or quip, what would the shirt say?
Sam Carpenter [01:25:06] Why couldn’t you give me these questions and. Okay. I got to pull this out of the sixties.
Brilliant Miller [01:25:19] Okay?
Sam Carpenter [01:25:19] And it’s not. We are all one. Is that in some way I would want to say. Now is the only moment you have. Now is the only moment you have. Let me, let me. So I’ve been listening to Jordan Peterson second book. He was on drugs for the second book. And there were drugs because he was having some real physical problems, not that kind of drug, you know. And some of it gets kind of off ended. But in chapter four, he talks about your community of future lives, your community. You have a community of of yourself this second. The next second. The next second. What are you doing in this moment? To satisfy the community of yourself that stretches out into infinity or to the day you die, obviously. And that’s why. What if we put procedures together? We want to. It’s in the moment. It’s in the now. But it is to make the future better. Yeah. Okay. So I would do that. Now statement now is all we’ve got is some some way paraphrase it, whatever. But somehow that is the only moment we have the past. Is history. It’s gone. No. Bringing it back in the future is conjecture. Who knows? Yeah, but what you can do right in this moment is to start those processes that are moving into the future, to move in the way you want them to move. And you can channel them and you can steer them, and you’ll end up with more money than you need and more time than you need. And and you will really contribute to the people around you, which, of course, and I know you feel this way. Brilliant. Because we have talked about this. You explain this to me about how satisfying it is to take your life and help repair other people’s lives. And this isn’t virtue signaling. This is actually a truth to make yourself happy from a let’s say from a mechanical mercenary standpoint. If you want to be happy, you have to create value for others.
Brilliant Miller [01:27:30] Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. We all want our lives to matter. We all want to be of service. And I think we truly are happiest when we’re helping others be happy without compromising ourselves.
Sam Carpenter [01:27:43] No. Don’t compromise your principles. Ever, ever, ever, ever. Because your future selves won’t appreciate that. They’ll look back and they’ll see that you’ve got to take care of yourself right now and plan for those future selves out there, the communities, the future community of yourself. I just love that. I heard that this morning. I was walking the dogs down in the canyons this morning in chapter four and a second book. And he was talking about that. And I want to play that part again because that was such a great concept. What about your future selves, bro? You know? What about what about the future relevance, whatever time period you want to slice it? Right. And so I had I had really not thought of it in terms of that analogy. And again, Jordan Peterson is the analogy. King of the world, as far as I know.
Brilliant Miller [01:28:31] Yeah. Awesome. Well, course number four is what book, other than one of your own, have you gifted or recommended most often?
Sam Carpenter [01:28:41] You know, I look at I look back at Tony Robbins with fondness and and and I am fan of his so much now. But he wrote a book called Unlimited Power back in the nineties, I think one of his first books. He’s just a young guy. When I started following him, I think he was 27. He lived in Venice, California, before Jim Morrison ever came along, I think. But I don’t know. Maybe not. But I think that unlimited power is great. How I Saw the Sun Warrior World.
Brilliant Miller [01:29:16] Harry Brown. You’re not familiar with that book?
Sam Carpenter [01:29:19] Oh, my God. This is mandatory reading. Wow. You write it down.
Brilliant Miller [01:29:26] How did you how did this book come into your life?
Sam Carpenter [01:29:28] I don’t know. It was kind of a I don’t remember, honestly, but I’ve got about six copies of first editions and then I’ve got Jordan Peterson’s books up here that I just give them away. Jordan Peterson’s first book, The 12 Rules. Have you read that?
Brilliant Miller [01:29:51] I have not read it. I’m familiar with it.
Sam Carpenter [01:29:54] The audio is great. I usually I like the tangibility of a book, as you can imagine. I love to sit down. It’s comforting. My library is downstairs in the basement and I’ll sit down there with the dogs. And there’s something about reading from a book. Yes, work. The system is available on audio and Kindle and everything else. But I, I did work the system in hardcover. That’s kind of the opposite, the way most books are. Most books come out in hardcover and they’re followed up with softcover, my first self-published books and I talk about it in the preface. I started with the softcover and went to a hardcover because of this ability, because some about it, I don’t know what it is that I don’t do Kindle or e-readers at all. Yeah. So George Peterson, Harry Browne, Tony Robbins or Stephen Covey, Seven Habits of I had mandatory reading, and then I used to be a Dale Carnegie host and Dale Carnegie’s winning friends and influencing people. Mandatory reading. Yeah, but there is. There’s a few books for you.
Brilliant Miller [01:31:04] Right on. Thank you. So in your life, you traveled a ton. What’s one travel hack? Meaning something you do or something you take with you when you travel to make your travel less painful or more enjoyable?
Sam Carpenter [01:31:16] I try to take no more than two sets of clothes or sometimes one pair of jeans, and I’m talking about to Asia or Europe or whatever. And I said, I don’t really go to any dress fest fests anymore, but I really try to take a very basic set in a carry on and I do not check my luggage. If you’re going through Heathrow, do not check your luggage. No, do not. So my travel hack after Kurt and so much around the world is to go minimalist. And I’ll buy what I need when I get there.
Brilliant Miller [01:32:02] Yeah, smart. Smart. Question number six is, was something you’ve started or stopped doing in order to live or age? Well.
Sam Carpenter [01:32:10] Oh. Oddly enough, I’ll give you a couple of examples of each. So I stopped running when I was 32 because I was destroying my back and I was a big runner back then. But we had the Diet Pepsi, ten ks everywhere. And all my friends were running and. And my nurse friend, a male nurse friend of mine, we went to visit him in Colorado and I told him, you know, I’m having trouble. You know, maybe you can help me out. Sometimes I get out of bed and I can hardly walk to the bathroom. But I’m in really good aerobic condition, he says. Yeah, yeah. I see a lot of guys like you, Sam. You’re anaerobic. You’re going to be anaerobic miracle. And you are now anaerobic miracle, but you’re going to be an orthopedic nightmare. And I stopped running and started writing and climbing. And right now what I do, you know, one of the greatest exercises that there there is brilliant is I have a £30 pack that I carry when I take the dogs out. Oh, yeah. Because I can’t get my heart rate up going uphill unless I have a £30 pack on. Yeah. Yeah. That is the best exercise upstairs, downstairs, everywhere. That’s something I started doing when I came to Kentucky, because you can’t get more than 500 vertical feet where I live and it’s always climbing down into a tent in the back in Oregon. I could climb North Sister and get 3000 vertical feet. No problem. But that’s not the way it is here. So there’s something I started. The other thing is I don’t drink anymore. I quit when I was 30. It was killing me. It’s poison. And I don’t want to sound like a prohibitionist or anything. I don’t care if people drink. But alcohol. I was allergic to alcohol. Literally, not just the standard hangover, but I was allergic to alcohol. And I quit doing that. And here’s a here’s a good hack. It’s Maalox. Maalox. You can relax and can if you’re if you have aches and pains, elbows, your legs, your back, Maalox, again, 15 grams of Maalox, a game a day. They all go away. Why don’t we all go away? And there’s no side effects. It’s an anti-inflammatory. Boy, if our listeners, some of our listeners out there don’t get anything else out of this, get your doctor to give you a prescription for Maalox account and then report back to me and let me know how it goes, because it will be pretty cool. You’ll you’ll see that that stuff really does the trick. So you only see only drug or I take. But I think the thing I’ve done all my life and I started when I was 11 was aerobic exercise and Diane on my wife is the same way. I think aerobic exercise keeps you young, stops the bad stuff from happening. It’s the best thing you can do. And again, you know, we could go into this whole systems mindset thing about that. And I talk about in the book, I talk about blood tests, getting blood tests to make sure your blood chemistry is right. That’s where you have to go back. I had to teach my doctor this so you don’t need blood tests. I said, Yeah, I do need blood test. He says, No, you’re just. What did he say? You’re overstressed. There’s all your problems are start. Yeah. I’m working 100 fricking hours a week. Doc. Yeah. Do the blood tests. Well, you don’t need to. I really. I got an argument with the guy. I said if you won’t do it, I’ll get some other doctor to do it. And I had but Steve had been my doctor for ten years. I’m a doctor now. 40 years. Wow. So 30 years. So do blood tests. That was the biggest thing I had because it told me this was low. This was low, this was low, this was high. And then you adjust if you get your chemistry because aren’t we just chemicals if you break us down, are we chemicals? If your chemicals are right, how can you be okay? And it wasn’t there were stress related, but it was creating more stress all the time. And don’t exercise too much. I’ve learned that. Don’t exercise, don’t pound yourself into the ground. I used to do that in my forties, thinking I was healthy.
Brilliant Miller [01:36:13] You know? Do it.
Sam Carpenter [01:36:15] Now. Don’t do it.
Brilliant Miller [01:36:15] Yeah. All right. Thank you for that question. Number seven, what’s one thing you wish every American knew?
Sam Carpenter [01:36:24] I wish they knew the founding documents and how our country was founded. Yeah, you know, I wish they knew because, you know, I didn’t write this book out of a sense of patriotism. I’m conservative and I believe in self-responsibility and and covering your own bases. And I know you’re not going to get anywhere in life if you’re reading some kind of a manual left or right. And that’s all you believe. You’ve got to make up your own mind. But I wish people had a better sense of the history of this country and how it was formed and why it was formed. And it had to do with individual liberty. It had to do with the individual’s ability to make choices and so forth. That’s what I wish with a passion. And we we’re not doing that anymore and we don’t want to get into politics. I get I get that. But that’s what that’s what I wish for, is that we had our kids were better educated in the founding and the documents and what was tried to be done. Yeah, I know it wasn’t perfect. I get that. But basically it was. It’s worked pretty well, right?
Brilliant Miller [01:37:34] Yeah, no doubt. No doubt. It’s it’s stood the test of time pretty well over the last couple of centuries, for sure. Okay. Question number eight. What is the most important or useful thing you’ve learned about making relationships work?
Sam Carpenter [01:37:50] Well, of course. Listening, right. And so. Well, we’re in this podcast and you’re asking me to talk, so I kind of. But my conversations aren’t like this with people. I really try to shut up and listen. Listen, listen, listen. And. Be aware of when you’re not in a good frame of mind because you might say something that will destroy a relationship. And sometimes that’s all you need to know in the heat of the battle, if you’re having a political discussion or some kind of a discussion, don’t say that thing you really, really want to say that will destroy that relationship. Don’t make what I call the big mistake. And you do it with business. You can make the big mistake. You know, you’re put you’re you’re sort of in a card game and you put the phone up. Right. You don’t want to. You want to put the farm up in a in a relationship that’s going on for years and years and years. And by golly, if if you do screw up, you’ve got to go back and apologize. I’ve got people in my family that don’t know how to apologize. I’ve got friends who don’t know how to apologize. And they’re not friends anymore. I mean, they’re not enemies. But if you can’t say I’m sorry real fast, after you screw up, you’re going to lose your friends and your family. Yeah.
Brilliant Miller [01:39:08] Yeah, it can happen for sure. Question number nine is about money. What’s aside from compound interest? What’s the most important or useful thing you’ve ever learned about money?
Sam Carpenter [01:39:19] Get debt free. I mean, all of that. On R&D back in Central Tel. And my my CEO, everybody understands that the company is completely debt free. Okay. And Diana in me, we’re debt free. She has a really nice car. It’s a brand new. Well, 21 Audi RS, Q8. And if there’s any car people out there, they’re going to ask, how did you get that five, 600 horsepower V8 turbo? It’s her car. Wow. It’s really expensive. And it’s debt free. Okay. And my Ford pick, my 150 is pick up. Is is debt free? Debt free? Brilliant. It does something to your head. And Dave Ramsey is a guy, the go to guy for that. Okay. Dave Ramsey is get you have to get debt free before you can get to these other places. And it has more to do. It doesn’t it has a lot to do with interest. You pay when you own are you own you owe on your house or your car. It has everything to do with that, of course. But is something that happens in your head when you don’t owe anybody anything. All you do is pay your taxes every year. And and, you know, your utilities every month. That’s that’s my recommendation. And you can go back to the systems mindset. And, you know, the epigraph in my book is Ockham’s Law. And we all by now know what act of laws the simplest explanation. It’s usually the correct explanation. Well, the simplest thing to do with your life is not to old people money. Right. Such a. And I wasn’t in that. I haven’t been in that place all my life. But that was an important breakthrough. And I didn’t realize what an important breakthrough it was until I paid off the last. I think it was a mortgage that I owed sometime ago. And is something that comes over you about being debt free. It’s just assistance of release.
Brilliant Miller [01:41:19] Yeah. Good. Good for you. That’s. That’s awesome. And I suspect there are people listening that that is exactly what they need to hear right now.
Sam Carpenter [01:41:26] Yeah.
Brilliant Miller [01:41:27] So.
Sam Carpenter [01:41:28] Dave Ramsey dot com. I think that’s what it was. I didn’t go through any of his courses or anything, but I love the guy. I occasionally listen to them. He’s fun to listen to.
Brilliant Miller [01:41:36] Yeah, he is fun to listen to. And I think he’s got a lot of really practical wisdom for sure. Yeah. So. Okay. Speaking of money, something I’ve done to attempt to express my gratitude to you for sharing so generously of your time and your wisdom is I’ve done two things. One is, I have gone on Kiva dot org, the microlending website and I’ve made $100 micro loan to an entrepreneur, a woman named Mama Buba in Tajikistan. And she will use this money to buy bags that she will sell and thereby improve the quality of life for her customers and herself and her family. So that’s the first thing. And the other is.
Sam Carpenter [01:42:16] Thank you.
Brilliant Miller [01:42:16] That’s very it’s my pleasure. And I also went to I believe it’s cashmere family dot com. Yeah. So your charity and I made $100 donation to.
Sam Carpenter [01:42:27] Thank you for what you’re.
Brilliant Miller [01:42:28] Doing with cashmere family aid.
Sam Carpenter [01:42:30] Thank you so much. Yeah, we’re helping. We help schools over there. And I’ve adopted a family and the two girls. The thing over there is Pakistan. Azad. Kashmir is girls are usually married off quite young and many times to their first cousin. And it’s a it’s an appointed marriage. It’s a prearranged marriage. But these two girls are 20 and 21 years old, are going to medical school, and they haven’t. Their father, Kaiser, who I’ve worked with over there since 2006, has done everything in his life to to make it possible for these girls to go to medical school. They’re going to be doctors. And so Diana and I helped them through that. And so I feel pretty good about that. That’s all. Anyway, thank you for that. That money will go to good use, 100% of it, but I’m not going to say $90 and buy gas for the car. Oh, no. 100% of it will go to the girls.
Brilliant Miller [01:43:33] That’s awesome. And I and I realize I misspoke that. And for anyone who wants to learn more, maybe also participate in the work you’re doing there. It’s not cashmere famicom. It’s dawg. Cashmere family.
Sam Carpenter [01:43:44] Cashmere family dot org. That’s correct. Yeah. And another thing, brilliant. I talked about hands on help and Josh for longer runs a company called WTS Enterprises dot com work the system WTS and you can use that to find him or go through the website. My website work the system dot com and you’ll find Josh. I have nothing to sell. I don’t need the money, honestly. And I just want Josh to continue to be successful. He’s been so loyal and so good and he gets it so well and he’s he’s he’s one on one. Consulted with over a thousand businesses and he’s never had a failure. Wow. One guy died. I know, but I think there was another guy that had a family situation or something. But the systems mindset, the whole work, the system method methodology does work. And I just do it for the I do it for the fun of it. You’re not paying me for this, you know? I mean, maybe some maybe I’ll sell a few books, but that doesn’t matter to me that much financially or anything.
Brilliant Miller [01:44:47] Yeah, well, I hope so. I know that what you’re doing is improving lives. It certainly has the potential to. For many people who are feeling, I don’t want to say trapped, but less than satisfied with the business, they’ve started to achieve freedom. There’s this paradox of entrepreneurship. Very often we start. So it’s a.
Sam Carpenter [01:45:05] Paradox. Yeah. I mean, you get so caught up with trying to survive. How are you going to help anybody else? You’ve got to get past that point. Yeah. Then there’s so much satisfaction. The nonprofit, the people we have, we just. We just gave $6,000 to the local library down here. And, you know, we’re we’ve we can we can do things that give us so much satisfaction. And Diana and I. I keep looking back that way. In the other room as the sun came up, we always this morning, as we always do, we had two espressos and we were talking about that. And we were talking about this other family just down around the block here whose kid is going to Spain because he got a special scholarship invitation. And we’re going to help him a little bit. And there’s no more. Great. Your satisfaction and you know that brilliant. Because this is what you do. There’s no more greatest satisfaction. And this is not virtue signaling. There’s no more greater satisfaction in helping somebody else get ahead as long as they’re. And like Diana says, you don’t want to work harder than your client. Right? As long as they’re showing determination and they’re really serious about it. Help them out.
Brilliant Miller [01:46:14] Yeah, no doubt. No doubt. Well, the last part of this, if you’re good for just a few more questions. Sure. I’d love to ask you about writing and creativity, knowing that many people who are listening, this is something that they also want to do. They want to take their ideas, their experiences, put them between the covers of a book, send them out into the world in a way that makes a difference for others. So a few just a few questions I have. One is, I understand your dad was an English teacher and your mom was an author. Yeah. So it seems almost inevitable. Of course, you’re going to write some books of your own. But what did you learn from parents? Who were these writers themselves or teachers themselves?
Sam Carpenter [01:46:54] What did you learn by Dad? I remember driving along in the car. You of my dad, everybody loved my dad and he died almost ten years ago. And my mother died ten years ago on July 2nd. Wow. So they died close together. They weren’t married anymore. But they just they were in Bend, Oregon. I was the caretaker for both of them. So my dad would be driving along in the car and I’d say something with bad English. And then he’d say, Sam. That’s not the way you say. You say it like this. And he’d tell me and I say, Ah, Dad, you know what I mean? And he said, he said, that is not going to work with me. If you want to get anywhere in life, you have to convince people you’re intelligent and you can offer them something. And if you talk like that and I was 14 or something like that, and then my mother said, and I don’t know, I see it’s a dedication, one of the books. She said, Sam, because I said, I want to write a book like you, Ma. And she says, Sam, don’t write fiction. She said, Don’t do fiction. There’s too much competition out there. She said, Don’t write a book meaning nonfiction. Don’t write a book unless you have something meaningful to say. Unless you’re going to be able to help people with it. And I held off till I was in my fifties. And that always rang true with me from. And they were very opposite personalities. But those are two of the greatest things I think I took away from those relationships. And I, I don’t know, I don’t know if I’m an author because of my mother. I guess I guess I was inspired and then the English language can be butchered. And I drove Diana crazy. I but it’s an art and it’s a skill and it’s fun. But, you know, my guy in Italy, my guy in Romania, they speak five languages each. I speak one dumb American, one language. I took French in high school and I can decipher and I can kind of get the gist of it. But I have so much appreciation for people in Europe who can speak multiple languages, and I’ve spent a lot of time over there. I’m always flabbergasted. Don’t try to ever learn the Hungarian language. Brilliant. You never will.
Brilliant Miller [01:49:22] You know, I don’t know that there’s. I’d have a lot of opportunity to use it anyway. So I’m going to I’m going to go with your advice on that one. But what’s your. So I do want to just call out something you just mentioned there is that you didn’t write your first book until you were in your fifties. You were 50. Right. And that’s that’s pretty awesome to me, because I know this is a dream that many people harbor for a long time, you know, and even when you get a little older, it’s not something that you have to abandon by any means. You can you could do it and it could turn out great. You can share widely and make a difference for people. One thing I am curious about is how, especially knowing that you were a business owner and you did have other, you know, as an adult, other responsibilities, other obligations, other opportunities or even distractions.
Sam Carpenter [01:50:15] Whoa.
Brilliant Miller [01:50:16] What is your process for actually getting a book written? How do you go about it? How you organize your time? What habits and routines do you have? What tools do you use anything along the lines of how do you do it? As a practical matter?
Sam Carpenter [01:50:29] Let me tell you the mechanical part, but don’t let me forget to talk about my publisher. Okay? Sure. So the mechanical part is always start with an outline. Okay. I didn’t know what I was doing. I just sat down and started writing. I go from this to that to this to that. I remember one day the whole living room was covered with pages, printouts, and I couldn’t put them together. I kind of sort of had to start over again. You really need to start with an outline. Well, sort of like a strategic objective, I guess. Think about it. You may you should spend months on it to put to put the chapter titles together, put the chapter titles together very, very carefully, and then work through it mechanically. And don’t deviate. If you get into it and you feel you need to deviate there, you can create another chapter, but the chapters should be separate from each other. You’ve got to pick the chapter titles, so they all run into each other. They’ve got to be separate, but they’ve got to lead into each other. Right. Remember, events happen over time. One, two, three, four or five. So your book has to have a start. It has to end. The front manner of your book is very important. The Preface. So I’ve got two prefaces in my preface to the fourth edition, which I wrote not too long ago. Preface to the first edition, the introduction. And I had a there’s, there’s a forward in there too, but be very, very careful how you start the book and know for sure where you’re going. I wouldn’t start a book without knowing where I was headed. Again, I’m not a fiction writer. Some fiction writers operate that way, and I guess that works. But if you’re going to write a if you’re going to write this kind of a book for nonfiction, you really you really need to decide if you have something to say. And and how you’re going to get to point B from point A starting now as far as mechanical. My writing starts at three or four in the morning until I give out or again interrupted. But boy, those those hours before dawn, nobody’s going to bother you. If I hear two or 3 hours of solid writing in a day, it doesn’t take long to write a book and a book. 60,000 words. 80,000 words. I’m going to do some CDP. Sure. Some of these chapters need a little book of their own, and I’ve got to write some 6000 word online. Only book’s starting pretty soon, but I can write 1000 to 2000 words in a sitting and I’ll be gone through it again. I’ll be going through it again a lot before the actual published date, because I go through my books over and over and over again. I think that’s it. That’s me. I’m a morning person. Some people are right at night. It just happens. And I talk about that in the book about your your cycles. What is your physical cycle? Are you a morning person or a night person? I talk about that in there, too.
Brilliant Miller [01:53:45] Yeah, that’s so important for every one of us to learn, right? Because you talk in the book about biological, prime time, about mechanical, prime time, these ideas that if people aren’t familiar with that, you know, they pick up the book and read that they can apply that to virtually any anything they’re committed to as an ongoing process in their life, for sure. But tell me. So you asked me to remind you about the publisher.
Sam Carpenter [01:54:06] Let me let me hold you up. I guess I do have some good advice along these lines. Okay. A couple of books that I call, which is Mr. Mandatory Reading. So John Steinbeck wrote a book as he was writing The Grapes of Wrath, which you may or may not know was written in 100 days. In the early thirties, I did 100 days to get it done for his publisher. Wow. It’s called Working Days, and it’s the story of him writing his book. It’s the most fascinating thing you’ve ever seen. And then there is a graphic now a graphic, a photo of one of his pages. And he had these super long pages, narrow and long, and that man would write. And in this particular page they show there was one correction in an adjective that he made. He wrote it all longhand. Wow. I’m amazed. I mean, a guy is the guy was an alien of alien intelligence. I could I can’t write that way. And you’re people that are going to write a book will either be able to do that and probably not need to go through their scripts over and over and over again. Another great book is Stephen King’s book on writing. Oh, yes. Brilliant. Yeah. Both fiction writers. I get it. But have you read that? Brilliant.
Brilliant Miller [01:55:23] I have. I really love that book so much. That’s so practical about writing, whether it is fiction or nonfiction.
Sam Carpenter [01:55:30] He puts he puts heavy metal on in the background. Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. His writing just cracks me up. Everybody’s different. A very, very different. I can’t. I can’t operate that way. I can’t even have soft music in the background. I need silence. But that’s me. Yeah.
Brilliant Miller [01:55:46] That’s right. And so much, I think, of the challenge and sometimes the joy of writing is figuring out what works for us, what doesn’t work. But tell me about tell me about your publisher and tell me this probably be part of the discussion, but tell me also about your writes, how you’ve held on to or thought about.
Sam Carpenter [01:56:04] Yeah. Work. Yeah. And I did have a lawsuit. A guy plagiarized my book. His name’s Rick Schaeffer, and he. The reason I nailed him was because I had enough. Mike, I. It’s a long story. You got to copyright your book. Just writing a book will protect you to some degree, but you got to go through the crap. And I went through the trademark procedure, too, and it’s a nightmare. You got to find an attorney to do it and everything. And. We need to go through that and protect your work. Because he took my book and he plagiarized it. Wow. But beyond that, maybe you want to bleep his name out. So annoyed. But this book is publisher is called Greenleaf Publishing. And what? There are legitimate publishers. It’s not self-published. It’s a legitimate publisher. But I was allowed with the way they do things to keep ownership of my manuscript. Mm hmm. Okay. Normally, the way it works is somebody writes a new book. If they can find a publisher who will even look at it, which is doubtful. There’s a thousand books published every day in the United States. Greenleaf. The way they operate is they allow the author to keep ownership of the manuscript. If you do find a regular publisher, 99% of publishers, they will buy your manuscript from you and you’re done. You get your 30,000. If you sell X number of books, you get $2 a book or whatever the deal is. But you can’t go back and revise it. Right? Remember I said this book has four editions. That’s because I own the manuscript. Okay. I had to pay for the printing, the editing, some of the marketing. I didn’t do much marketing. This book has not been marketed correctly, but I have a kind of a cult like following of it, which is good enough for me, but I have retained it ownership and I decided in 2019 I wanted to do another edition, and so I did. If your publisher owns your manuscript, they laugh at you. If they’ll even take your phone call. So I recommend now. Then there’s the dustbin of the self-published. You just usually just throw it in with everybody else there, everybody else’s uncle and everybody else’s cousin and want to write a book in a box, typically about their life story. And nobody cares, man. Nobody cares. They’ve got their own lives to live. I really caution people, even though they’ve had an interesting life, unless you’re way, way up in the political the top ten political people that we know left or right. You’re not going to sell many books because you don’t have no marketing scheme and the publisher will do that. And so there’s a fine line here to say what you’re going to do with your future self. And what I knew back in 2008 was that I would want to embellish this book to make it better. And I talk about it in a preface. I talk about all the iterations of the book that went through the horrible the horrible mistakes I made in my self-publishing and then getting a publisher and the problems we had with the publisher and everything. But I’ve been with Greenleaf now since 2008, and they specialize in authors who want to revise their book. If it’s if it’s a non-fictional thing and there’s truth ten years from now as well as truth. Now you want to retain ownership of your manuscript and don’t fall into the trap. No most authors fall into. You’ll have to cough up some big dollars to do that, but it’s worth it. It’s one of the best things I ever did. Green leaf. Green leaf book group dot com.
Brilliant Miller [02:00:11] Mm. Awesome. Great, great advice for those who are committed to this and not just wanting to publish a vanity project or something.
Sam Carpenter [02:00:21] Well, you know, and people who just want to write a story about their lives and they get satisfaction out of it. Good. Go do that. Yeah, well, good luck even getting your family to read it. It’s just write. Don’t read anymore, bro. Yeah, you know that. People just don’t read. This is a guideline for saving your business. So some people read it. Actually read it. There is a way to get a condensed version, a summary version through the website. But people need to sit down, take a deep breath. And by the way, reading a book is the best thing you can do to increase your attention span, because that’s what’s happened to us in 2022. By now, people don’t read. They don’t sit down and focus for an hour on one thing line by line by line. It’s all soundbites. It’s these damn signs and it’s TV and reading. Here’s another author, Nicholas Carr. This car, he wrote two books and the one that knocked me flat and this was about 28, I think was it was pretty far back. It’s called The Shallows. The Shallows. And he wrote another book after that called The Glass Cage. And it has everything to do with what’s happening to our brains. And the beautiful thing of this is so you think, okay, 20 years of cell phones. I have no attention span. My wife said something to me 5 seconds ago and I can’t remember what she said or so-and-so told me something on the phone and I can’t even remember what the subject was. This is a this is a problem. I have it, too. I find it all the time of a low attention span. Take a deep breath, read a book, and it will lengthen your it will lengthen your attention span. And the great thing is when let’s say you have a read, a book, some one of our viewers out there or listeners hasn’t read a book in a long time, or they read the typical one book per year for some reason or two to books. I read a couple of hardbacks a week. At the rate I’m going now, I’m going through all of Louis L’Amour stuff, the great lessons in that I bought a whole collection of his books. The cool thing is this if you have to read for a long time. And you want to and you believe what I’m saying. You read Nicholas Carr, for example. There is a book you have to read or you listen to his audio or whatever. I think it doesn’t take long to stretch your attention span out like just a matter of a few days, in fact. It’s a real burden when you first start and you’ve knocked off for a while. I know because I did that when I was writing my own book. I knocked off reading and I got stacks of books all over the place. But it only takes a few days to lengthen that attention span. And then you do it every day and it gets longer and longer and you get more calm and more relaxed in your decision making. You don’t feel like you have to make a decision at every moment point of sale, which is to a certain degree, a valuable thing in business. But you want to be able to think about things before you make the wrong decision. The wrong decision? Yeah, absolutely. Nicholas Carr, I’m a big fan of Nicholas Carr.
Brilliant Miller [02:03:41] Awesome. Well, thank you for those recommendations. Well, the final question I have is what advice or encouragement do you leave those listening with who are either in the middle of their own project? You know, they’re somewhere in the belly of the snake, so to speak. Or again, it’s a dream they’ve been holding on to for a long time, but they haven’t actually got themselves into action. Writing and publishing their book. What what advice or encouragement do you leave?
Sam Carpenter [02:04:06] Oh, I could say. Just do it. Get over yourself. Be courageous. I could. I could say all these things that they’ve heard a million times before. My my advice would be, oh, this is totally self-serving. I guess if you could go a little deeper in your life and write a strategic objective on a personal level about what you want to accomplish, you’ll find your your desire to write a write a book is way up there. Hi. Okay. It’s way up there with the family, with the health, with everything else. And it’s. I encourage people to to use this technique I call clustering. Okay. Because I, I spent an hour and a half with some woman from California last week for the fun of it. She was having some problems. She’s a you know, she loved the book and all and worked with Josh and she says, What should I do first? Well, I said, don’t prioritize the important things in your life. What do you mean, don’t prioritize the things? Well, listen. I mean, listen. What are the five most important things? Well, my health, my family I want to do. I want to be financially independent. I want a couple of other things. And I said, well, what if they are? I don’t really care what they are, but don’t give a priority to any one of them. Because if you take one of, okay, my kids are most important and you sell your soul for your kids, you won’t be taking care of your health. You won’t be writing your book. I said, Here’s what you could do. And I. Do a little bit of each one every day and spend an hour writing the book. Spend your time with the kids. Spend more time with her husband or the husband or the wife or whatever. And clustering means you have a number of things that are very important in your life, and they’re all important and stop worrying about which one is more important than the other, because they all work together to make you what you are. And if you’re going to write a book, put that in that cluster and just write every day and start with your outline. Keep it simple. What are the topics you want to talk about? Longhand, you know, and it can be several sentences for each chapter. You’ll hold it down later, but do do the first two chapters or you’re going to have maybe you’re going to have 30 chapters depending on what kind of book you’ve got. Write the last chapters first, write the preface first, write the afterword first, whatever you want to do, but do something every single day. And there’s an exercise in my book about getting started on a strategic objective. And what I say in there, I can read it, I can dig it up and read it. But basically what I say and at the end of every chapter has an illustration, what I call an illustration, and that illustration is what I want you to do now is put the book down, pick up a piece of paper, get a pen and put it in front of you. And right. And even if it’s a sentence just and you’ve started now you’ve started because the big part is starting right now. The big part is getting going. And if you can take that initial for instance, if somebody has watched all the way through this chat we’ve had, brilliant. It’s because they were excited about it. And it leaves this conversation with a sense of excitement. Now is the time to sit down and write. Write the title of your book or write the Epilog epigraph or whatever you’re going to do. Start the book now where enthusiasm is high and then keep your enthusiasm up as you see the pages accumulate. And that will drive you. Just like having some successful working procedures will drive you to keep doing that over and over and over. You got to have some small success to start, and that’s an easy one to get. And that’s in the book, too, about how to do that.
Brilliant Miller [02:07:58] Yeah. Awesome. Well, great. Well, Sam, thank you so much again for sharing so generously of your time, of your experience, of your wisdom. I’ve really appreciated the opportunity to learn about life through your experience, and I’ve taken away a lot of things that I will incorporate into my own business and share with others. And I’m looking forward to sharing this interview as well. Again, my guest today, Sam Carpenter, author of Work The System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less. You can find this at your local bookseller, any fine bookstore or, of course, online. And you can learn more about Sam and his work at workthe system.com. Again, thanks for listening. Until next time. Take care.