Becoming Wiser After 50 With Wendy Mayhew And Discovering Your Genius With John Hittler

Discovering and honing your capabilities to succeed in business comes at any age. In this episode, Dr. Diane Hamilton talks to Wendy Mayhew who is the author of WISER: The Definitive Guide To Starting A Business After The Age Of 50, and the co-author of Building Your Dream. Wendy talks about her advocacy in proving society wrong that older people cannot get financing because they are not innovative. She also shares some bits and pieces from her book, WISER, where she interviews different people about their business ventures at the age of 50 and above.

Searching for your superpower – the one that makes you one in a billion? Discovering your genius and exercising curiosity are some of the key takeaways John Hittler teaches. John is a transformational business coach, the Co-founder of Evoking Genius, a TEDx speaker, and the author of One In A Billion: Finding Your Genius Talent and The Motivation Trap. In this episode, he joins Dr. Diane Hamilton to share his story about applying to be a TEDx speaker, making the cut, and proving his worth to be on that stage. He also talks about his book called One In A Billion, and how you can find your own version of genius.

TTL 683 | Discovering Your Genius


We have Wendy Mayhew and John Hittler here. Wendy is the author of WISER: The Definitive Guide To Starting A Business After The Age Of 50. John is the Cofounder of Evoking Genius and the author of One In A Billion: Finding Your Genius Talent. We’re going to find out about starting businesses and finding our genius talents. It’s going to be an interesting show.

Watch the episode here

Listen to the podcast here

Becoming Wiser After 50 With Wendy Mayhew 

I am here with Wendy Mayhew who has been an entrepreneur for close to 40 years. Her company Business Launch Solutions has helped hundreds of first-time entrepreneurs establish successful ventures. She is the author of WISER: The Definitive Guide To Starting A Business After The Age Of 50. She’s also the Coauthor of Building Your Dream: A Canadian Guide To Starting Your Own Business. She created the Canadian Wise 50 over 50 Awards to recognize and celebrate 50 Canadian entrepreneurs who started a business after the age of 50. It’s nice to have you here, Wendy.

Thank you for having me, Diane.

You’re welcome. This is an interesting thing. There are many 30 under 30 Awards and talk about the under 30s, and I’ve had a lot of the Forbes 30 under 30 on my show. They are some of the smartest, most interesting people out there but I like that we’re getting more focus on some of the Boomers out there and older Gen Xers who continue to start and create some amazing things. This ties into Rich Karlgaard’s book, Late Bloomers. A lot of us do things at different stages of our lives. Showcasing that is awesome. What gave you this idea and gave me focusing on people over 50? Give me a little background on your career.

As you mentioned, I’ve been an entrepreneur for 40 years. A few years ago, I was asked to write an article about financing for older entrepreneurs. I’m like, “Why are they any different than the rest of us?” At that time, I was over that age. I started researching it and I went, “This is interesting.” It’s an underserved market. I want to get involved with it. I started doing all kinds of research, started reaching out to people, talking to people and that opened my eyes to what was going on. I knew something needed to be done.

There is a lot that can be helpful for all age groups. It is an interesting market and I have a lot of people who ask me what I did to start this business. My most recent business began a few years ago, so I fall into your category. I had never considered having a radio show and podcasts and some of the stuff that I’ve done now. I had two weeks to figure it out which wasn’t an easy task either. A lot of people do a lot of things so low right at the beginning. You’re creating everything from scratch. Some people in that generation have challenges with technology. Fortunately, I’ve always been drawn to social media and technology. I understood it well so it was easier for me. Is that one of the bigger areas that people stress around at that age?

Technology is a big thing especially since most people that are starting businesses have left their full-time career. Depending on the size of the organization but they usually had someone that could solve any problems or coming to work on their computer or fix it for them, so they didn’t have to know any of this. You’ve walked away and, “I don’t have an IT department. What am I going to do?” That is one of the biggest challenges. The second one is financing.

Are they mostly bootstrapping?

Most of them are because they’re upsetting. I know that whenever I started doing my 50 over 50 Awards, I was looking to see if I could get sponsorship or somebody that was going to partner with me. No. The reason being was because they had no belief in what older entrepreneurs could do, establish, and run businesses. It continues to be that way but it is getting a little bit better. The year before whenever I did the awards, I was able to get a small amount of financing to help with them. Overall, people are bootstrapping. They’re even bootstrapping do you call mortgaging your house later in life, bootstrapping that they have such a belief in what they’re doing. They are trying to go to any means to make this business work.

[bctt tweet=”Technology is one of the biggest challenges for those starting a business at the age of 50 and above. ” via=”no”]

I think of a perfect sponsor right off the bat would be a reverse mortgage specialist, AARP. If you think about it, one of the ways that a lot of people get money to do things in their later years. The reverse mortgage industry is huge for that. I used to sell mortgages and I focus on some of those kinds of things. It’s hard to get financing. Everybody thinks they’re going to go to Kickstarter or someplace and somebody’s going to throw money at them and they’re going to get everything financed or they think to bootstrap it. It won’t be that bad but it’s a lot of money to start a company.

It’s not as much as it used to be and it depends on what type of business you’re starting. I finance everything myself. That’s what I’ve been doing. Fortunately, I’m able to do that but at some point, it has to stop because you have to make money. It’s not that thinking money. It is a big problem and the other one being the technology. In Canada, I’m trying to strive and make a change with some of those things. I’m in the early stages of talks of putting a program together and working with someone that can answer those technology questions and even do TeamViewer whenever you have a problem with your computer that they can fix it because it is a big problem.

The technology thing is tough and if I have to pay for anything, that’s the things I’m paying for is website development or creating things that are code related that I can’t do. A lot of things, people can do with their website if they want to do WordPress or different things. That takes some training. When you were talking about expenses and bootstrapping, the problem is you get many expenses. I don’t know how it is in Canada and what you have for situations but here, the IRS after three years of writing stuff off is there’s going, “This is a hobby and I didn’t do too much after a while.” What is it like in Canada? Is it just Canadian that you focus on for the 50 over 50, or are you focusing outside of Canada?

For the 50 over 50 Awards, they’re just for Canada. Fifty Canadian entrepreneurs being recognized for what they’re doing. They all have to have started a business after the age of 50. As it is, it’s Canada-wide, possibly, potentially, but I don’t know at this point I had thought of perhaps franchising it and getting it into other countries. I’m not there and my focus is all on my book. The answer to the second part of that question is up to five years.

It’s tough because if you’re making progress, you can go longer if you can argue certain things but you’ve got to start making money. In the first few years, it’s hard to make money if any substantial amount of money sometimes. I love that you created WISER: The Definitive Guide To Starting A Business After The Age Of 50 because you touch on all these things that people are dealing with. A lot of it is hard to transition from being an employee to an entrepreneur. A lot of people struggle with that because you have to do something that you’ve never done before and we’re pushing ourselves. A lot of people go into consulting, coaching, advising and mentoring. I like that you covered that. Is that the number one thing you’re seeing women do?

What do you mean jumping into those positions?

Starting companies that are consulting-based, coaching-based, advising and mentoring-based type of company. 

They’re not.

TTL 683 | Discovering Your Genius
WISER: The Definitive Guide to Starting a Business After the Age of 50

What are you seeing?

The big thing that I heard over and over was the reason older people weren’t getting financing or even support was because we’re not innovative. If you were to look on the 50 over 50 Award website, I’ve got people that are in technology. I’ve got people that are doing apps. I’ve got digital health. There was one person and I loved his idea but unfortunately, he couldn’t get any financing so he had to close his business. It was de-icing, wind turbines with using laser treatment. I’m going, “Why isn’t somebody picking up on this?” I don’t think it was because of his age but why aren’t people picking up on these things? A lot of the winners are saying that they aren’t not getting a recognition that they think they should have. There is one company that they’re winning awards all over the place because they’re a SaaS company. She and her husband were both in the chemical industry. When they left, they realized how much of a burden it was for people to get the information that they needed whether what you needed to do if there were any incidents to do with chemicals.

They’ve made an app of it and shorten everything. I’m going to see them next week because they’re winning another award here in Ottawa. It’s exciting whenever you see what these people are doing. Some of them are coaches but they seem to be doing a lot of other different things as well. A few of them are into the senior’s care. There are a couple of them that are doing senior care and they’re helping people make the transition from being at home to going into care and they’re consulting on it. A lot of them are buying franchises and they’re different franchises. They’re not coaching and things that. They’re not consulting necessarily. That was one big thing that whenever I first started talking about this, I was told that we would never amount to anything that all we would be our consultants. We never ever amount to anything and add anything back to the economy.

That’s a sad view of what consulting and mentoring is for me because there is this saying, “All you’ll ever be is an incredible teacher.” Some of these things are amazing jobs that we need. I see a big focus on mentorship programs in the world because we have such great content. These people have such worldly experience, they have years and years of all this that they can give back that the value of being a coach or a mentor would be great. A lot of them require consulting and coaching to get onto the next level. There’s a two-way street with that one. That’s interesting to me. As we’re talking about the different things that they have to do to get noticed, we talked a little bit about the taxes and some of the financial stuff but there are also legal ramifications. I remember my first contract with a big company. I didn’t realize the amount of insurance that they needed for cybersecurity and the different things I hadn’t even thought about. Are you running into people who are shocked by that thing?

People know what is needed to be done but a lot of it does not. They don’t understand that. In my book, it does talk about all of the different areas. You can’t cover everything but there is a lot of things that the legal part does cover and certainly, it is what you have to have on your website. Everything needs to be done. There’s a couple of things that aren’t in the book that I wish has have been in the book, one of them is insurance. I did do one a few years ago with this gentleman but I asked him if he wanted to come back and be a part of the book and I never heard from him. Insurance is an important part of being in business. You have to be covered and you have to have everything gone through the lawyer. You have to make sure you have got the right policies, you have the right information, everything is covered that needs to be covered. You can’t depend on say an insurance company. I always say you can’t do it alone. You need to bring in as many people and never stop asking questions.

A lot of people rely on the umbrella policy, but you need to know how much your umbrella policy should be and what specific companies are going to require. You can get some of this information from your insurance agent but I recommend having a lawyer as well. We’re back to costs. There are many costs and you were talking about the difficulty in getting sponsors and different things. I noticed that a lot of people who do podcasts and shows like these all found the challenge of what it is to get sponsorship for certain areas. You try to get some help in some things and a lot of people are trying to market themselves and learn ways to pay for that marketing. You know that I talked about we have affiliate programs, we have different things that we do. Do you find that most people come in with limited knowledge about social marketing and networking or how are they at that stage?

Many people when they’re starting out and they’ve never been in the business world before and have not done any of the social marketing or even know where to go. There are a lot of them. I remember meeting a woman one day and she had developed this product and she was in a wheelchair and it was a bag that she had made to make it easy to put groceries in for anyone that was in a wheelchair. She talked to me, she says, “How am I ever going to market this?” Regardless of whom you are or what age you are, when you come up with the idea and you do to prototype, you have to have an idea of where you’re going to sell it. Who’s going to buy it? Who’s your customer? How are you going to reach them? It’s a lot too and I had mentioned to them and I’m sure you’ve heard of Shopify. I had said, “A great place would be Shopify.” She had no idea who Shopify was.

For those who don’t know, can you share what Shopify does?

Shopify is an online selling platform here in Ottawa. They’re global and the one thing I do regret is not investing in them whenever they were a start-up because their shares are worth it. They’ve got a huge market for anyone. From what I understand, anybody that’s on it does well.

What exactly does Shopify do for them? A lot of people haven’t tried them. We know it’s an eCommerce company. What exactly do they help people do?

They help market it and they look after the payment system. It’s easy. I don’t use it myself. I was thinking of using it but I didn’t have exactly what I wanted for my book. There are authors on there. There are people that are selling products, services, whatever. They look after it and they market it for you. I’m not exactly sure their whole market but it is a huge platform. Anyone could easily go to and find out more about it.

[bctt tweet=”When you’re doing something new, do it as if you’re still at work and you’re starting a project.” via=”no”]

There are many different things that can help you like plug-ins alone if you have a WordPress site. I’ve used a lot of different ways of connecting with people from taking money from book sales, from using Square or PayPal or any of those kinds of things to incorporate on your site. All this stuff takes training and knowledge. It can be overwhelming for a lot of people. I know you touch on a lot of the different social marketing aspects like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and all that. Which one of those do you find that people struggle the most with or is it across the board?

People still struggle with finding the right one. I like LinkedIn. I find that I’ve made a lot of good connections there and especially it’s my market for helping spread the word about what I do. Many people use Facebook. Mine is LinkedIn and Facebook. Sometimes I’ll get on Twitter and I’m bad because I have to get on here and I’m in the process of talking to people to start doing my social media for me because I don’t have the time. There was a survey done or some information from Facebook that most of the 50+ market use Facebook. It’s something they’re comfortable with whereas not necessarily with LinkedIn. Whenever I get somebody hired to do my social media stuff, I want to be on Instagram, and I want to be on Pinterest. There are other platforms besides these. That’s why a lot of that is covered in my book that people can go there and there are many avenues. It’s trying to figure out how to do them and set them all up.

I’m going in a little step further into my book if you don’t mind. My book is a guide. I interviewed 29 subject matter experts from around the world. I was originally going to make it into a video book and then I decided no. What I did with those interviews was I recorded it and those are an add-on to the book. If you buy the book, you get the resources, at this time, free, that go into everything in much more detail. They will help you set-up your account and understand everything. That’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to make it as easy as simple as possible so that you can understand what each one does and find out whether it is the one that is best for you to be using and maybe all of them. You have to try them all and figure out what is best for you.

They could buy the book but how do they get those resources? You say they can watch the videos, right?

I took the video part out, they’re audio files. When you buy the book, it tells you in there where you go and there’s a code of where you can get to them. They are free with the book and this site is only for people that have purchased the book.

That’s a great way to market the book to have the little extra audio-video things. I don’t see a lot of people do that and doing that is innovative. You touched on many things in this book that are the heart of what people ask me all the time. A lot of it is networking. You go into that too because, for me, LinkedIn is a great networking platform because that’s where my customers are. I’m not going to go on TikTok because they’re all young kids. They don’t care about this show for example. YouTube is getting the video audience, you’re getting all the different ways of building relationships, but you also get into the networking for introverts which is an interesting way to go since the book is such a great focus on the value of introverts. What kinds of things do you touch on there?

It’s stepping out of your comfort zone, which there is a chapter on that. Karen Wickre says in it, “The networking is only coffee.” It’s not the end of everything. Don’t be afraid to go and talk to someone. It’s just talking, that’s all it is. You don’t have to worry about everything that has to be said. It’s great. When you’re doing something, it’s new but do it as if you’re still at work and you’re starting a project. You’ve got a project, you know everything that you have to do in that project. Take those steps and make starting a business into a project so that it’s much easier and it makes it much easier to step out of your comfort zone to do marketing. I refer back to the book quite often about you did this at work. It’s about work, but it’s making new connections and how are you going to nurture those connections. When you worked, you walked into an office and you didn’t know anyone. How did you get to know them? You’re shy and they may come up to you. If you go to networking events, more often than not, if you’re standing there by yourself, somebody is going to come up and talk to you and ease you into it.

Older people who have had to push themselves out of their comfort zone at a certain point. It is challenging but when you’re starting to get into a sales atmosphere. I was in sales for decades and we all extroverts at that point. They’re starting to find that introverts do some pretty good things in sales because they ask a lot of questions. That ties into my work with curiosity and I find that all fascinating. A lot of it can be thought of being interested in the other person and asking questions. You touch on much of this in your book. We can’t get to everything, but you do talk about succession planning, buying franchises, inter-generational businesses, and there’s much more that people could find out in this book. If people are interested to find out more, how can they reach you? How can they get the book? Can you share some information there?

TTL 683 | Discovering Your Genius
Discovering Your Genius: Make starting a business into a project so that it’s easier, and it makes it much easier to step out of your comfort zone to do marketing.


It’s available. I’m selling it on my website. It is It’s also available on Amazon and will be available through bookstores and whatnot. I’m setting that up now. Another thing that I’m doing with this book which is quite different, is that I am selling bulk orders of it. If there are organizations, small businesses, or governments that have a number of people retiring, give them a book and let them make that decision because many people think, “I can’t wait to retire.” They find out that retirement isn’t what they thought it was going to be. They want to start doing something else. That’s why I’m recommending this to the bank. Even banks that I have an older person starting a business.

Everybody will benefit if they’re successful. Those are great ideas. This was fascinating, Wendy. I enjoyed having you on the show. Thank you for sharing your information. Many people can gain much from this.

Thank you. One final thing, a lot of people that have read the book also thinks that young entrepreneurs will benefit from it as well.

I’m sure they will because it gives you the foresight to know later, plus everything in there is applicable to business in general. I appreciate that Wendy. 

Discovering Your Genius With John Hittler

I am here with John Hittler who is a transformational business coach, Cofounder of Evoking Genius, author of One In A Billion: Finding Your Genius Talent, The Motivation Trap. He’s a TEDx speaker as well. I was looking at the list, it’s unbelievable will all the things you’ve done. John, welcome.

Thank you. I’m glad to be here.

It’s nice to have you here. I know we’ve had a chance to connect in the past through our writing and connection through Forbes and the different things that we do. If people aren’t familiar with your work, could you give a little backstory?

I’m an entrepreneur more than I’m a coach. What I do for a living now is only coach. It’s my favorite business I’ve ever been in. I work a lot with CEOs because I’m a CEO. I learned to coach and it fits my talents well. That was something I can lock into. I started in 2007 coaching full-time and I got rid of all the other businesses. I didn’t have nine all at one time. I still had 2 or 3 that were poking along and I’d put up the dumpster fire or whatever and moved on.

[bctt tweet=”In your DNA, you have a specific talent that you would call a genius. ” via=”no”]

You’re doing a lot of talks and things. I followed a lot of your postings of articles you’ve written. What led to your TEDx Talk? I was watching about do you have a superpower and some of the things you talked about. I would like to get into that a little bit first because a lot of people want to have TEDx Talks. It’s hard to get accepted to have them sometimes. What was that like?

I was accepted locally. I’m in the Bay Area and there are about 45 TEDx events annually. I thought, “I don’t need to travel. That’s plenty for me to apply to.” I got approved by one and then I called my speech coach who I’ve worked with over the years and she’s amazing. She works with the Obamas and with AOC and all kinds of political people. She said, “Where did you get accepted?” She checks their videos from the last couple of years because she’s also coached fourteen of the top all-time TED Talks. She’s coached the people. She’s quite good. She said, “Check the videos from the years past,” which I would’ve never thought to do. These are ones from last year and the year before. They looked like they were filmed and recorded on a flip phone. The audio, lighting and videography are horrible. I called the person and said, “What’s up with that?” She said, “We use freshmen in college, he’s an elective. They need an easy A.” I’m thinking it’s the television and video production majors who are running it by because it was associated with the university. She said, “We get the kids that have to get at least one decent grade or their parents are going to cut them off.” I said, “It looks like it.”

I canceled out of that. I found a course out of Canada and it was a guy that was a former TED curator, whatever they call him. The guy with the license and he ran a TED event for three years. He has courses on how to get accepted and that’s the game that most people don’t play. His point is pretty clear. There are tons of people with great things to talk about and they think that they’re going to apply by promoting or pitching it one way. He said all the curators have a system, it’s self-taught but a lot of them get auto-deleted right as you apply. You can apply for a million of them. If I’m breaking a fundamental rule, you go right in the circular file and you get the polite emails to say, “We consider you, but you didn’t make the cut.” He said people get frustrated because they’ll apply to 200 and not get accepted. I applied to two and the first one was unTED-like, Bay Area Caucasian woman, 52 trust fund baby and a patron of the art.

She’s a loaded rich white woman. When I pitched it, I did like my guy told me. She said the response didn’t come back and say, “Thanks, Diane, for applying. We’ll consider you,” which is polite and that’s what everybody says. It comes back with, “Why on Earth would we want another middle-aged white business coach for our event?” I thought, “Wow.” That was my first application after I took the course. I sent it to my guy and he said, “Don’t worry, you’ll do better elsewhere.” The second one I did get approve and they said, “We’d like you to headline.” I said, “There is no headliner.” He was kidding with me. He said, “You’re in.” He saw my pitch and he didn’t even make me apply. I applied for two. The whole game is getting in. it’s not that my topic was better than others. I presented it in a way that they could hear it as what they need as opposed to hearing it as I want it to be said. It’s a big difference. We do this all the time with communication. You do too. I thought it was clear that the other person said, “I had no idea what you’re talking about.”

What was your pitch? Can you give people a little bit of a tip of how to do this?

I’d have to look it up, but you have to avoid ways of the worst profile on Earth for a TED organizer. I didn’t know this. He was a speaker, author, coach. What did I present myself as? A speaker, author, coach. She said right off the bat, you’ve got two strikes. I thought, “That’s interesting.” He said, “You think yourself as an entrepreneur.” He said, “The best thing to present yourself is having stage for a comedy experience.” Those guys do a great presentation and I would’ve never known that. He said, “Have you ever done Community Theater or anything like that?” I said, “No. I’ve taken a couple of stand-up courses where they made you go do open mic night.” He said, “Put that on your application. They love that because that means you’ll be funny on stage and funny is engaging. It’s thinking from the curator’s point of view instead of yours.” I would have never thought about it. He said, “Here’s how you present yourself.” He did a makeover of mine. I crossed out everything they said.

That’s an immediate decline. Speaker off, a coach, he said, “You’ve got two strikes on you and you’re on shaky ground right off the bat.” I thought, “How would I know that?” It’s me and 1,000 other people are getting declined every single day because we’re simply not speaking the language that a TED curator speaks. If you put yourself in their position, they’ve got to look at 200 or 300 applications. They don’t have time to look at it. They have to have some instant vetting and he said they usually vet to an intern, they’ll give it to unpaid intern and say, “Don’t spend more than 3 minutes on the initial cut. Anybody that looks like this, take them. Anybody that doesn’t look this, get rid of them.” Most people get cut simply because they stepped in potholes with their pitch. It was an interesting thing because it was a game. The game is to get in.

The speaker part is good but then the author coach is that.

TTL 683 | Discovering Your Genius
Discovering Your Genius: Many people can’t wait to retire, but then find out that retirement isn’t what they thought it was going to be, and they want to start doing something else.


Speaker is bad for most people.

Which is good, the author? 

No, none of them are good. Imagine it from their point, they think what you want to do is get up there and pitch the book. They don’t want that.

What about professors? Is that a good thing? 

Professor is good. There are certain things that are good. The funniest was comedian or stage performer and I would’ve never thought that way, but it makes perfect sense. Professor is good because you’re a noted authority. That’s helpful. He didn’t use the word but I would call it eccentric or oddball. You’ve got a weird idea.

Something that goes against the ground is always good and you don’t want to go along with everybody else’s ideas, something a little unit.

For fifteen minutes on a video, we’ll watch an oddball and be totally fine with it. We wouldn’t be their best friend, but you’d say, “I watched this TED Talk. There is a weird guy. He does this stuff.” For fifteen minutes, we’re completely open-minded about it because they don’t live next door to us and we don’t have to have them over for dinner. Oddball works well. Are you going to position yourself as an oddball when you don’t fit that? No. You could position yourself in any of 1 of 4 or 5 ways. You could be a doctor, PhD, noted authority, or a subject matter expert but you could also be a speaker, author, coach, and you go, “It’s declined.” People don’t know that. They applied 100 times and they say, “How does this knucklehead with this terrible idea and speech get accepted over me?” It doesn’t have anything to do with your subject matter. It’s all your talk. It has to do with getting approved.

You talk about personality tests as I was listening to your talk and how we all have these words that were defined in these boxes and things. That’s exactly what they’re doing. They’re boxing.

[bctt tweet=”Curiosity is a great kissing cousin with genius talent.” via=”no”]

They’re boxing and they do the same thing. It’s efficient. It’s easier to say, “Diane is a change-maker but it is to get to know how do you make a change with whom? Specifically, what change? Is it social, academic or physical change? Do you build things like do you build houses and you change this?” You could be a change maker a million different ways, but changemaker doesn’t help us much because they say, “I’m a change-maker too. We must be the same.” “No, we’re not. We’re different.” You’re right, you get slotted.

It is interesting to look at all the assessments and different things that are out there. I’ve written some but putting you into labels, they’re more giving you scores of how you do in different areas. Some of the ones that do put you even though they label you, there can be fun because you know what you are, but to understand what their preferences are sometimes can be helpful. A lot of what you do ties into the things I’m interested in. You talk about some of the things that I find super fascinating, but you also write about them. I want to talk about your book, One In A Billion: Finding Your Genius Talent. Tell me a little bit about that for those who haven’t had a chance to read it? Who would you like to read this? Who is your target?

For several years, we developed a trademark process. The theory being in your DNA, you have a specific talent that you would call a genius little. You don’t have 100, you have one. If we put a suitcase full of cash in front of you, let’s say $1 million and said, “John, all you have to do is tell us exactly what that talent is, the process you use like step one, step two, step three to deliver it and connects to your purpose in life or your why to it, you get all the cash.” Most people will say, “I don’t know, I have no idea.” The trick is I would say God’s sense of humor. If you’re imminently brilliant at something, let’s say a three-year-old you could sit down at the piano and start making music and you go, “Wow.” Some little kids can do that, not many. You don’t see it special because she can sit down at the piano and play Let It Be at a dinner party by ear.

I can’t do that and most of the world can’t. You don’t look at it special then why would you consider genius? You say, “It’s not that hard. Sit down and you figure it out.” You go, “No, you don’t.” It’s both the written playbook, if you will, and then it’s connected to a web portal for individuals to be able to find their genius talent on their own. Up until then, we didn’t think it was possible. We’ve always done it with a facilitated or coached version, which is more accurate. Your talent doesn’t change, but it’s easier to do because you’ve got a guide. It’s the difference between climbing Mount Everest with Sherpas and doing it on your own. The book is doing it on your own. You can climb to Mount Everest, but how are you going to go on top because it’s a hard thing to do?

What is your genius talent?

I had two partners that helped me with the whole process to build it. We had a sense of it, but we didn’t do it our own until we built the process. They teased out of me the specific language that it wouldn’t have never been able to get myself. My genius talent is creating seemingly impossible outcomes that address multiple and divergent agendas and select the talent I got. You’ll say, “What?” They’ve never seen that on a standardized test. I’ve done a couple of hostage negotiations with the FBI and POCC, “You’re a hostage negotiator?” I said, “No, I’m not that but my goddaughter was kidnapped. The FBI couldn’t get her out. I knew how to and so I went behind their back.” They kept saying, “We’re professionals, we’re trained.”

That makes sense. They couldn’t get her out. They didn’t know how and they went to lunch or took a break or something. I walked onto the property, which was about a two-mile walk to get to it where she’s being held. I walked out with her and they were furious. What are we going to do? When I finally realized, if they hold a press conference and say, “We’re holding a press conference to show you that we arrested the guy who interviewed, appeared with one of our investigations that we couldn’t solve, but he could, even though he’s not trained.” They’ll look idiots. I thought, “Stop worrying about the FBI and go get it because it’s my goddaughter.”

How did you get her out? What do you say?

TTL 683 | Discovering Your Genius
Discovering Your Genius: People are getting declined every single day because they’re simply not speaking the language that a TED curator speaks.


This is a hostage negotiator, she’s the perfect example. It’s a perfect platform for a weird talent. There were 5 or 6 specific and divergent agendas. There are the parents, kidnapper, hostage, FBI, and there were stakeholders and none of them had an agenda that gel well. That’s a perfect place for it. It wasn’t like I said, “Let me jump in.” I was pissed and upset that my goddaughter was in captivity. She wasn’t being harmed but she was there against her will. The FBI was involved. I’m thinking, “Once I knew what people wanted, it wasn’t hard.” The problem for the FBI is they were worried that if they drove on the compound or walk down to the compound with those FBI Bulletproof vests and/or an FBI vehicle, they weren’t sure they had jurisdiction. She would have the right to defend herself if she felt threatened, which is the law. She’s on a militia compound. It’s civilian but it’s a militia compound. She’s loaded to the teeth with guns and she could justifiably defend yourself. You’ve got to wake her all over again.

I hadn’t talked to her once and I thought the last thing she’s going to do is shoot me if I walk on unarmed, walk, not drive, without a vest and vehicle. If she shoots me, now the FBI can come up because now it’s capital murder. I thought what’s the chance if she’s going to shoot me? The worst case is I go out in the compound and talk to her and I can see all that stuff. At least I can check-in. I thought I’m going to have to walk out empty-handed. I didn’t play and walked out with her. I knew what everybody wanted. There were five people playing, five individual games and I had to get everybody what they wanted. That’s what I do. It’s a limited talent. When you need an impossible outcome, I’m the 912 for that. I’m no good at cleaning out the garage. I’m no good to do all kinds of stuff but you’re talented. Why pretend? I’m good in odd situations. That’s what the book about is. It’s finding your version of your genius.

What questions could we ask ourselves to figure out what our genius talent is? Are there any tips that we can get as a teaser without reading the book? We will read the book of course but to get us more enticed to read.

It is one of two questions. The two that are most popular are, what if I don’t have them? Is it possible that I don’t have it? No, everyone’s got one. We’ve done it with special needs people. We’ve done it with kids as young as eleven. The real question is, what is it? If we could give it to people, what I’d love to do is publish the algorithm online. Answer these questions and you do it because we have blind spots and biases about ourselves. You need the reflection of other people. I can give you a hint. If you have a sense, I’ve taken these tests and it says I’m a maximizer, EMTJ, empaths or whatever. The question people don’t ask is they talk about what they do well. Let’s say you and I both sing really well, “I’m a great singer.” There are a million great singers. The real trick question is what happens for your audience when you sing? What do they get?

That’s what they do because when you say, “When I sing, people do this.” You say, “Is that what you do everywhere even when you’re not singing?” People have never considered that because they think singing is the talent and it’s what happens for the other person, the other people or a large group of people, whoever your constituency is, when you do what you do so well. Nobody cares that you sing and you do it at open mic night or in church. It’s great that you do, but the world will never know that. What happens when you do and you say, “That’s interesting. You do that with any medium.” You probably do that with cooking, parties, prayer, or all kinds of things, and then they say, “That’s a different talent.”

I know the paint falls off the wall if I sing, so I know that’s not talent.

I don’t have a bucket enough to carry the tune and I can sing it. It’d be a black hole. It wouldn’t be a bucket. It would be gigantic.

It’s almost the opposite of my StrengthsFinder. You’re looking at some of the things that are the impact of whatever it is. I’m trying to think. For me, I’m a fan, I like to ask questions. I develop things from curiosity-based areas.

[bctt tweet=”A big mistake people make is they talk about what they do instead of talking about it for what people get from it. ” via=”no”]

Yours is perfect because curiosity and willingness are the two things people need to find it. As long as you’re curious enough to say, “I’ll try it,” and willing enough to say, “I’ll try it.” Curiosity is a great kissing cousin with genius talent because if you were the kid who always walked around and ask why and raise their hand first in school. The real question is to say it wasn’t that somebody at age six months started teaching you that. You did that automatically. You might be able to get close by saying when I ask questions or dig in, what happens to the ecosystem, the other person or whatnot. It’s a great place to start so let’s try it. You’re getting to the bottom of I got an issue or a problem and you’re digging in and you’re super curious, fascinated and interested in caring altogether. What happens for the group I’m with or whoever’s across the table from you or me? What happens to them?

You’re uncovering pain points for one thing. Being in sales, we had to learn that, so that you can figure out how to solve their problems and they feel a sense of being understood and that you can help them so they get a sense of confidence. Am I going deep enough?

You got close maybe. The rest of the process when you say, “You’re uncovering things and pain points.” That’s all the process. When you uncover all that then what are you able to do that they say, “This is amazing. What you were able to clarify or open up.” How do they walk away much better? You were super good, intuitive, diligent, all those things. You exercise your curiosity to the nth degree. What then happens for me that I walk away in much better shape? How would you language that piece? It’s not the process, but what’s the outcome?

In the workplace when you’re talking to people, people become more engaged in which leads to better productivity. In a personal setting, you’re building relationships. There are many outcomes. I don’t know if there is one to tie it down to.

This is a fun conversation. You say, “Keep it.” What we’ll do is we’ll switch contexts because that’s one of the mistakes people make is they think it’s a work thing. It’s a talent, it’s not a profession. Take it into a different context where it’s not work like teenage kids. The teenage kids sometimes could say, “Mom,” and walk away because they don’t want you butting in. Take it to a different context where, if it’s a talent, it will play with homeless people and family. It’ll play with, what kind of a friend are you? Are you the one that I call when I’m erect and you dig in and change my whole perspective? Are you not that friend?

I would say I would be. You are uncovering outlooks that they hadn’t ever considered. You’re opening up solutions to them that they had never considered by asking the questions which resolve their problems. I’m a problem solver by asking questions.

Interesting because you had it in the middle, uncovering perspectives they had never considered. You think who cares why you do that by berating them or caring for them in a curiosity mode. If you’re diligent like a police investigator or if you’re super intuitive and caring, what I get or your audience gets, when you’re considering alternatives you have never looked at before, that’s a much more powerful conversation because it’s about your audience. It’s the result of you exercising your curiosity. A big mistake people make is they talk about what they do. We honor what you do and we talk about it at a dinner party.

When you talk about it for what people get from it and never talk about curiosity, they ask you more about what you do because you’re now talking about them. For instance, it’s you saying, “I’ve written assessment tests and I’m an expert in curiosity.” They say, “I’m not interested in curiosity but I’m not curious.” I go, “Check the box, next subject.” If you speak about it, the same thing and say, “What I do is I help people uncover and discover new ways of thinking about things they’ve never considered.” The natural thing is people will say, “You could help me train my dog.” Now, they’re into their life and you are relevant. That’s the real trick.

TTL 683 | Discovering Your Genius
Discovering Your Genius: We have blind spots and biases about ourselves, that is why we need the reflection of other people.


The way some people do their elevator speeches or pitches. This is interesting because many people could get many benefits if they narrowed in on some of their skills. Many people don’t recognize it because if you know how to play the piano at three, it seems everybody else can do it and you don’t recognize the importance of it. I could see that this is a fascinating topic for many people. I mentioned that your book and everything. If anybody wanted to contact you, buy your book or find out more from you, how would they do that?

There are great blessings in my life and that’s a horrible, maybe it’s the worst last name in the history of mankind. The SEO is all fine. That’s easier rather than saying, I can’t remember his company. Nobody forgets my last name and I own it. I don’t try to, but who else would want the SEO? If you go to John Hittler, even if you spell it wrong except two Ts, it’ll pull it up and it’s got any link to me that you’d get from LinkedIn to our company websites, to the books, all that stuff. That’s easier. Don’t remember the name better than the book name or the website.

We’ve got to remember there are two Ts. You’re going to come up either way.

It comes up either way.

John, thank you for being my guest. This was fascinating. Thanks for helping me find my genius talent.

I don’t know that we did and it’s fun to play with that too. That’s for sure.

This was fun.

I’d like to thank Wendy and John for being my guests. We get many great guests. If you’ve missed any past episodes, please go to I hope you enjoyed our episode. I hope you join us for the next episode of Take The Lead Radio.

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About Wendy Mayhew

TTL 683 | Discovering Your GeniusWendy Mayhew has been an entrepreneur for close to 40 years. Her company Business Launch Solutions has helped hundreds of first-time entrepreneurs establish successful venture. She is the author of WISER: The definitive guide to starting a business after the age of 50, and is the co-author of Building Your Dream, A Canadian Guide to Starting Your Own Business. She created the Canadian Wise 50 over 50 Awards to recognize and celebrate 50 Canadian entrepreneurs who started a business after the age of 50.

About John Hittler

TTL 683 | Discovering Your GeniusJohn Hittler is a Transformational Business Coach, Co-Founder of Evoking Genius, Author of One In A Billion: Finding Your Genius Talent, Motivation Trap, and TEDx speaker.




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