Redefining Influence with Stacy Hanke and The Formula For Success with Bill Morris

Influence is a big word in many respects. We hear it a lot in social media and we know its importance when it comes to leadership. Stacey Hanke, author and the CEO of Stacey Hanke, Inc., explores influence and introduces her book, Influence Redefined: Be the Leader You Were Meant to Be, Monday to Monday. She shows us how leaders can develop influence successfully through practical and immediate how-tos and how to build the level of confidence needed for it.

Ever since the beginning of man’s existence, people have been in search of the formula for success. Bill Morris, speaker, author, and a fundraiser for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, shares insights from his book, The Formula for Success. Bill shares his own formula for success and talks about setting goals, getting motivated, and why he thinks only 5% of people are successful.

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We have Stacey Hanke and Bill Morris. Stacey’s the CEO of Stacey Hanke, Inc. and she’s a communication skills coach, keynote speaker, and executive mentor. Bill Morris is a CEO at Morris & Company. He’s an Adjunct Professor at the Paul Merage School of Business and he has a record for the most sit-ups. He’s got an interesting story too.

Listen to the podcast here

Redefining Influence with Stacy Hanke and The Formula For Success with Bill Morris

I am here with Stacey Hanke who is the CEO of Stacey Hanke, Inc. and author of Influence Redefined. She’s a regular contributor to Entrepreneur, Thrive Global,, and Forbes. She’s done a lot of interviews. It’s exciting to have her. Welcome, Stacey.

Thank you. The feeling is mutual. I enjoy doing these. Thank you for trusting me with your readers.

This’ll be fun because we have a lot of things that we talk about and write about that are similar. I’m interested in influence. Before we get into your book and the different things you’ve done, can you give a little background on how you got to this point?

I started in radio. I wanted to be the next Katie Couric, but that apparently did not work out. Radio wasn’t my thing. I went into large corporations always in their training and development departments and that’s where I got a sense for training and facilitation. From there, I was hired by a company where it all started. I did a lot of hiring of speakers and then at times, I would be there at our conferences that we hold throughout the year. I started to hang on to the shirt tails of these professional speakers. They started to mentor me very early in my career. Long story short, I made my way to Chicago, which is where I reside now.

At that time, I was brought on by a company that strictly did presentation skills training and I would do a lot of international work on that topic and never feeling legit with it because in my mind I thought, “How can I be teaching individuals only how to stand up in front of a group and present when that scenario, that medium doesn’t happen every day? Therefore, they’re losing the skill.” That’s when I started to dig deep in this topic of influence and to realize influence is so much more than when the stakes are high and you need to stand up like a presentation and deliver it. It’s more how do we present our self every day. Several years later, we started Stacey Hanke, Inc. and have fine-tuned through research and working with a lot of top leaders on what is informed, how do you get it and where do people struggle the most.

[bctt tweet=”Sometimes an apology doesn’t mean you’re sorry.” via=”no”]

Before we talk about how leaders can deal with speaking in a general way, go back to what you said on the mentors that taught you how to be a good speaker. A lot of people who do the one-time speaking thing here and there or they’re Hall of Fame speakers, a lot of people want to get better on stage. Before we go to the leadership aspect of it, I’m curious if you had any tips you learned from your mentoring that made you be a better speaker on stage.

It came down to this one concept, which is what we preach as a team with our clients. It’s not about how you perform on that stage. It starts with how you show up in every conversation. When we work with our clients, we don’t just teach them how to stand up on a stage and present. We first start increasing their awareness. Let’s take a look at how people perceive you every day whether you’re on a phone call, you’re in an impromptu hallway conversation, you’re with family, you’re with friends, coworkers. When you can start taking a real close look at how your reputation has been created in the day-to-day conversations that you have, that’s where you want to start to mold that skill.

When the stakes are high, like a presentation, you’re not trying on new skills that you haven’t used before that isn’t your norm. It’s similar to any athlete. I always tell my clients, however that athlete practices Monday to Friday is how they’re going to perform in the actual game, the actual competition on Saturday. We can get more of that concept. It’s not about being on stage, it’s about being onstage every day because of the eyes and ears of those you’re trying to influence. It’s like a camera. The camera is always on. The good news though is you truly get to decide how people perceive you, decide the reputation you create by how you show up and how you stay showed up in that message that you leave behind, that impression you leave behind.

I’m writing about perception and what your perception is of showing up, it can be different from other people’s perception. How do you know what their perception is of how you come across?

First, it starts with constructive feedback and when I say constructive, I don’t mean, “Nice job. That was great.” We live that world, don’t we? It’s finding the people that are going not to sugarcoat it. A lot of times, it may be someone in your personal life. Our significant others, our families, sometimes our friends will tell us the truth. The second step is always the big one. Once you get through that feedback, I don’t know how else you can get a trustworthy understanding of how people perceive you if you’re not recording yourself. That’s just video, audio recordings that we can easily do from our phone. Until you see yourself and experience yourself through the eyes and ears of your listeners, we truly go around our day-to-day conversations guessing what people are saying. We’ll guess off of how we feel rather than what reality states. Reality is an individual’s perceptions of us and the reputation that we build.

It’s important to see yourself. We used to have to record ourselves quite a bit in pharmaceutical sales doing pretend conversations with doctors and things like that. I noticed when I started doing this show years ago that when I listen to the show, I thought, “I would type that grammatically correct but I don’t say it correct.” I never noticed that I did that. It’s interesting the things you pick up when you see yourself or hear yourself recorded that you don’t realize you’re even doing. You talk about the majority of leaders, 95% of them think they’re more influential than they are. We hear the impostor syndrome sometimes that leaders are afraid that they’re going to be discovered that they don’t know as much as they know, but this is the opposite. They think that people find them more influential than they are. How do those two go together?

It comes down to a lack of self-awareness. You made a good example of you listening to your podcast playbacks and there’s this disconnect of how do we come across rather than what everyone else is saying to us. That statistic in the book comes from our experience mentoring one-on-one a lot of leaders over the years. Consistently leaders will say to me, “I had no idea I came across that way. I didn’t realize my message was that strong or not strong enough.” When they start to see themselves through the eyes and ears of everyone else, that’s where they start realizing, “I have some work to do when it comes to how I’m influencing, when I’m influencing and what people are responding to.”

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Formula For Success: When we start creating doubt in our listener’s mind, we start messing with the reputation.


You talk about being this leader you’re meant to be, but you say Monday to Monday and you’ve got that registered trademark. What do you mean by Monday to Monday?

How you hear me now and how you’re experiencing me now is the same if we had lunch after the interview. What I noticed over the years is it was typically when the stakes are high and we define that all differently. Perhaps it is a high stakes presentation, a board meeting or you have to have a difficult conversation with someone you don’t want to talk to, whatever it might be. We tend to turn it on. Suddenly, we focus on our body language a little bit more. We focus heavily on our message. I hear a lot of leaders say to me, “I prepare right before the meeting.” At that point, it’s too late because you’re going to try something imprecise that you haven’t been doing. When people have to start to guess who’s going to show up on a Monday versus who’s going to show up for a virtual call on a Tuesday versus a high stakes presentation on a Thursday, that’s when you start creating doubt. When we start creating doubt in our listener’s mind, we start messing with the reputation. Do we come across knowledgeable, credible and trustworthy? Diane, I’m guessing with all your work as well, I see it more than I don’t see it.

When you were talking about that, what came to mind was there’s a networking group here in Phoenix I went to and I don’t usually go to those things. Somebody talked me into it. The head of the group has a radio show and he came up to me. We were talking and he seemed like an okay guy, nothing unusual. When the meeting started, he got in front of everybody and then with his big booming voice it was like, “Welcome.” It was like his master of ceremonies voice. I was like, “Where was the guy I was talking to a minute ago?” It was the strangest thing. I totally didn’t expect that. It made me go, “That’s a little weird. Why do you have to do that?” We do that even speaking on stage. You don’t want to go to an event where people are speaking that’s boring so you put on a little bit. Do we want to see speakers who talk like this? That’s the thing I noticed. It drives me a little bit crazy to go to a speaking event where they’re boring. Do we have to be a little showman-ish?

I’m always careful with putting on a show. I know there’s going to be people that will argue with me on that. I want to be as authentic as I possibly can up there. It’s that fine line. Do I need to speak louder when I’m in front of a group than what I’m doing on this call? Definitely. Does my gesture have to be bigger because I’ve got 500 people or whatever it is and that last person in the back row needs to see me? Definitely. Do I need to pause even longer because there are more people in that room and the acoustics are bad? What we do is we come in and we work on core skills. Go back to a golf game. I’ll teach the actual core skills of which clubs to use, how your posture looks before you swing the club, how do you swing club, through all of that. The challenging part about golf is you take your core skills and you have to adapt them to the obstacles on the course to how far away you are from the green. That same concept applies to our communication. I teach the core skills that we need for every type of conversation. I teach how you adapt them to not only the type of medium but also the personality that you’re trying to influence. That’s where it gets complicated.

I worked in a company where they had us put our personality results in our cubicles so everybody knew how to interact with us. It was fun, but then people take it to the next level. You start making bets on whether this guy could do this or that because they’re blue or they’re red. There’s an important aspect to it though to develop empathy because you start to realize, “I need to talk to this person in this way because this is the way they need to have information.” It is the Platinum Rule. You treat them as they’d want to be treated instead of how you’d want to be treated. A lot of people don’t do that. That’s what I learned a lot from that. It was good for that. I want to get more into this book because you say that there are signs that you’re not as influential as you think. I would like to know what those signs are.

The biggest one that comes to mind, this is in no order whatsoever of priority, is you can’t get people off their technical gadgets. Do not let anyone convince you that it’s part of your culture. I don’t believe that. I believe that when someone’s in front of me and they’re buried in whatever technical gadget it is, that email, that text, whatever they’re doing is a lot more important. It’s more interesting. It has more impact than what I’m giving them. That’s step number one. Sometimes, there’s an extreme lack of interaction and response to you. The third is people don’t follow through. I’ve worked with individuals that will say, “This is a problem employee. They don’t do their work.” When I see the two of them interact, I’m realizing, “Your message is unclear or you’re not practicing what you preach.” That’s half the problem. I always tell leaders, “Make sure you look at yourself,” meaning your communication both verbally and non-verbally before you start accusing bad employee versus a good employee.

What are the biggest communication challenges that they have? There are so many.

[bctt tweet=”People are like fingerprints, everybody is unique and different.” via=”no”]

There are, but the ones that I see most frequently are brevity. We are convinced the more we speak, the smarter we sound. If we stop talking, we’ll get interrupted. We’ve got all these false beliefs in our head. This idea of knowing that less is more, we learned that from grade school on. It’s saying a message that people not only can resonate with, but it’s also memorable to stand out from all the other noise, all the other messages that they’re receiving. To be able to make a decision, do I act or do I go a different direction? Brevity would be number one.

The second one puts everything in the same category when it’s the actual delivery, and it’s everything from your posture to your gestures to what your eyes are doing. When those are inconsistent with your messaging, people are going to guess. I’ll give you an example. If I were to say to you, “The ability to influence Monday to Monday is critical. It’s important.” My tone of voice has no consistency with what I’m saying. I see that more than I don’t. The other piece going a little deeper is talking about consistency. When we’re talking influence, it’s just not the verbal message. I think about social media. Your example of when you had seen the speaker and it was totally inconsistent with how you knew him before he got on stage. How many times do we see inconsistency in social media? I know people that I follow on social media, they’ll post one thing, but yet I know them outside of social media and there is a big disconnect to what you post versus how you are in real life. That’s an issue. The last one, and I know that there’s more in the book, is lack of follow through. If you’re going to say you’re going to do something, do it.

A lot of leaders make a lot of promises. I much prefer the under promise and over deliver mentality. From being in sales, we learned how critical that was. I can think of a leader where everything was, “Yeah,” but then nothing ever turned out to be a, “Yeah.” It sounded good to say yes to everything but couldn’t make those things happen. Do you see a lot of that?

I do. They’re unaware of it. You’re bringing up a good point of if you under promise, then when you can deliver more, think about what happens with your credibility. It’s follow-through from something as simple as returning a message. It takes two seconds to say, “I don’t have an answer yet, but I’m looking into it.”

We were taught that quite a bit in sales. Never try to fake it, always say that. If you say, “I don’t know, but I know somebody who does and I’ll contact them. I’ll let you know as soon as I get an answer.” When you try to fake it, that’s when you lose all credibility and that’s it. Your reputation gets shot. That’s something that’s important. You talk about some of the things that can hurt your perception and all that. You talked about ways that leaders apologize wrong. I found that interesting. Can you apologize wrong? There are four ways apparently.

Without giving all of them away, one of them is the lack of sincerity when you’re apologizing and the lack of sincerity through your word choice. You have to be careful. That’s when you should prepare. That’s a conversation you should always prepare for. It’s the lack of sincerity in your voice. Sometimes apology doesn’t mean I’m sorry. It’s using the words of what went wrong. What did you do wrong? Most importantly, what are you going to do now? Focus more on the second half. Women tend to do this more than men and not to stereotype, going off on what I see more often, we’ll apologize constantly versus apologize, be done with it and move on to what are you going to do to resolve the problem or make the promise that it will not happen again. That’s probably another one is we’ll say it won’t happen again and then we do it again.

Women do apologize a lot and we talked about that on the show several times. We try to smooth things out sometimes, but men don’t feel that need. I notice a lot of people will say, “I’m sorry you feel that way.” They put all the blame on the other person. It’s not an apology when you do that. A lot of people could learn how to apologize better. I’m curious what your main intention was for writing this book. You want leaders to be able to understand influence, but who’s the perfect person to read this?

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Influence Redefined: Be the Leader You Were Meant to Be, Monday to Monday

It’s definitely someone who is in a leadership role, not that everyone can’t benefit from the book because everyone does communicate. I’ve had everything from the entrepreneur to someone fresh out of college to someone who’s been in the field for a long time and is now in an executive position say, “I walked away with something from the book.” My intention was more focused on increasing people’s awareness of what is going on so that when they are creating distractions, they recognize the distraction in the moment. In the book, they’ve got practical and immediate how-tos to take the correction without ever skipping a beat and to build this level of confidence that’s needed around influence Monday to Monday. To make sure that we know what influence is and that’s why the book title is Influence Redefined. Not that our readers are not confident, it’s like any athlete knows that you have to practice constantly.

In the corporate world, we start to forget when it comes to how you interact with people and the message that you give them and what you’re asking them to do. That has some big impact both positively and negatively on people’s lives. If you’re not doing it in a way that truly has their needs in mind and clear in the influence you want them to take, the action you want them to take, you could do some damage with relationships. I believe that when you can influence Monday to Monday, you change. You change the way you do business for the better. You enhance the resources, the people that surround you and you put more money in your pocket.

What you’re talking about all ties into my research on curiosity too, because how can you be an influencer if you’re not curious about other people? How do you incorporate curiosity into leadership? Is that part of anything that you talk about when you’re talking with leaders?

I do. It depends on where they’re struggling. Curiosity first is part of being open to the learning process. You’ve got to be curious to know, “What leader am I? I haven’t taken a look in a while. Maybe I’ve never been video recorded. I’ve never received constructive feedback.” It’s going to take curiosity first to take a step and then it will take discipline to do that step and to decide what you want to do next with what your results come out. That curiosity too is curiosity in others. When you’re curious in others, you’re more likely to identify what words they resonate with and what message meets what they came to the conversation to get out of it.

Anybody who gives talks, you want to do some research about who your audience is so that you’re meeting their needs and you’re finding their pain points. All of this is interesting to me in terms of the perception of how we don’t understand what other people need. I spoke to a group. It was all the CEOs in the trucking industry. They were floored by the statistics when they saw the level of emotional intelligence in CEOs, how much lower it was than everybody else. Don’t you want love to be the bearer of great news like that?

The fact is that as you go up in the company, initially you begin to have supervisory positions where they’re interacting with people and their emotional intelligence is pretty good. As you go up and higher in the company and eventually to the CEO, it tanks the level of emotional intelligence. A lot of it is they don’t have to be around day in and day out. You’re around people who are yes men, yes women a lot of times. You’re not developing that level of interpersonal relationship building or empathy development. I’m curious what you think about what would keep higher level executives down in terms of emotional intelligence.

I’m talking from experience with some of the conversations I’ve had with the executives that I’ve mentored. Sometimes it comes down to how there’s so much pressure on their shoulders. A lot of it is they sometimes fear that they have to play this certain role and sometimes it pulls them out of them being them and being careful of every move that they make, everything that they say. Suddenly, that starts to impact your self-consciousness, your confidence yet they can’t let that show because they know they’re always in the spotlight.

[bctt tweet=”Most people, when they fail, they quit.” via=”no”]

It’s tough. You also promote people for certain skills, and a lot of times it’s for how they can read spreadsheets and whatever it is. You start to get people who are more financially savvy or they have these particular skills. It’s always interesting to me to take a look at how we can all improve ourselves. Influence is a big word in many respects. We hear it a lot in social media and I liked that you brought it up in the leadership realm and that makes it unique. A lot of people would probably learn so much from reading your book, Influence Redefined: Be the Leader You Were Meant to Be, Monday to Monday. How could people find out more about your book and what you do?

It’s really simple. Go to our website and there are tons of resources including social media there on where they can follow us. It’s

They can get your book on Amazon and everywhere else.

It’s on our website. It’s on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

It’s fun talking to you, Stacey. Thank you so much for being on the show.

Thank you. It’s an honor to be here and I appreciate you trusting me with your readers.

You’re welcome.

The Formula For Success with Bill Morris

I am here with Bill Morris, who’s a speaker who’s had a long career as a Wall Street executive. He is on the board of directors of three privately held companies and one nonprofit. He holds the World Record of fitness for consecutive sit-ups, a fundraiser for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He’s also the author of The Formula for Success. It’s nice to have you, Bill.

Thank you, Diane. I appreciate it.

I want to get into these sit-ups and all these interesting things you’ve done. Can you give us a little background of what led up to where you are now? It’s always nice to get a little history.

I was fortunate I got hired by Exxon Corporation out of graduate school and did well with them. I probably had four or five promotions in the few years I was there. I get the green light to go and interview down in Wall Street. I’m totally nervous because what I knew about Wall Street could fit on the back of my business card. I went down there, interviewed, it worked out well. I was probably about 30 years old and I got hired to head up international finance for Kidder, Peabody, which was an old-line investment banking firm, a lot like a Goldman Sachs back then. I was responsible for everything in London, Paris, Geneva, Zurich, Hong Kong, and Tokyo. I did a lot of traveling and that’s what started my career on the street.

You’ve done a lot in the business world, but you’ve also done a lot in the fitness world. If anybody looks at your picture, you work out.

I’ve been into fitness my whole life. When I worked on Wall Street, what I did is I created a fundraiser for the Make-A-Wish Foundation through my fitness aspects. I created a thing called the Sit-Up-Athon. I did these sit-ups and I went to my chairman at Kidder, I said, “I want you to give me a dollar per sit-up.” He didn’t even blink. He said, “Sure, you got it.” One thing led to another and we did it for a few years running on the street and then we raised over $150,000 for the children and that’s what it was about. Long story short, I ended up setting a World Record for Consecutive Sit-Ups. That’s one of the things that get me on stage.

Not a few. We’re talking 20,100 in eleven hours and 32 minutes. Talk about abs of steel. How sore were you after that?

Basically, like you fell down a flight of stairs. The first year I did 5,000. The second year 10,000, then 15,000, and then the 20,000. When I talk about this, it’s closely aligned with goal setting, which is part of my book. How do you accomplish certain things? When I was 33, I set a goal for myself that when I was 35 that I’d be able to do 3,500 sit-ups on my birthday. I trained and I ate right. I researched everything in the world of fitness. On my 35th birthday, I went to the gym at 4:30 in the morning and put down a matchstick for every hundred I did and was able to do 3,500 sit-ups for my birthday. That’s what started it. When I went to Al Gordon, who was our Chairman at Kidder, I knew I was confident that I could do the 5,000. That was how everything got started quite honestly that first year. That’s all the money we raised was $5,000. We’ve all come out, but it grew and everything worked out well after that.

Are we talking full sit-ups, crunches? I’m trying to envision what constitutes a sit-up.

It’s basically lying spots. One thing I always teach people is never put your hands behind your neck. A lot of you think, “It’s because you stretch your neck up.” I go, “No, it’s because you’re out of balance.” Think of it like this. If your belt is your fulcrum in your center point and you raise your hands over your head and behind your neck, your fulcrum will move up about three or four inches. The opposite side of that spot is the four and five L lumbar in the lower back and you’ll end up hurting your lower back. What I always say is cross your hands across your chest when you are doing sit-ups and then you won’t have any issues with the lower back.

Your neck has to hurt, like the front of your neck at the end from holding yourself.

It doesn’t at all. Honestly, if it did, I’d tell you the truth. If you’re doing the sit-ups correctly, you’re not going to get injured. You’re going to get a great core and a great strong back.

That’s an interesting record. I like how you combine it in your talks. You combine health and wellness. It’s all over well-being. I work with some people that created an app of the company Flourish based off of the work of Reid Hoffman about being more well-rounded in general, not just for your career but for your health, for everything. That’s challenging for a lot of people. I wasn’t that much into exercise until I got into my 30s and then all of a sudden, I finally found that if you stay on a treadmill long enough, eventually you don’t hate it. I didn’t realize that. There are a lot of people that don’t love it and it’s hard to get people to embrace health. What is your formula for success?

The first thing you talked about was getting your life into balance. If you think about a three-legged stool, on each of those legs, there’s mental, physical and spiritual. If anyone of those is not there, the stool will not stand. It’s out of balance. How do you get those three things into balance? That’s what the core issue is of my book. You’ve got to get it mentally together. You’ve got to get physically together and spiritually together, all in unison. You’re basically working, as I call it, finding the road to happiness. The other thing you mentioned was the issue of people doesn’t like to work out and you’re 100% correct. It’s not human nature to want to work out. The only way people even do a workout is to have a goal. If you don’t have a goal, you’re never going to work out. I grew up in New York City in that area and all the women were in the gym in April and May, then people said, “Why are we getting the attendance up so much?” I said, “It’s bathing suit season.” People want to get in shape. That was their goal. You have to have a goal, otherwise it’s never going to happen. It’s never going to kick.

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Formula For Success: Goals and dreams are identical except for one major critical factor, and that is goals have a time of completion.


Eventually, with me, it became a habit, then you start to like it. Anybody that goes from January to the gym knows that there’s going to be a lot more people there than later in the year. It’s hard sometimes. For me, I work out of a home office. I have a whole room of gym equipment at home because to get me out of the house, it’s tough sometimes. It’s hard for people who travel a lot to incorporate it because you can’t bring your gym in your suitcase, but they have a lot more bands and things. You can work out on the road. What do you do when you travel? Is it all crunches? Are you pulling yourself up by the doorway?

I work out every day. If I’m traveling, I don’t beat myself up. I’ve been in the gym so much though. If I miss several days here and there, it’s not a big deal. What I’ll end up doing is more cardio and a lot of walking. I remember one time I was traveling to Paris. I was there by myself and I literally got up at 8:00 in the morning and walked the whole city by 6:00. I was combining the aerobic aspects of life and that to me was a good day of working out, a full day of walking.

You brought the time you woke up. I’m curious if in your formula there is a certain time that people should get up or go to bed. Some people buy into certain times. I’m curious about what you think.

The real key to that is people are like fingerprints. Everybody is unique and different. I know people that can live on four hours sleep. I’m not one of those. I’m closer to nine. I work hard. About eight is probably where I am. That’s what’s critical. Everybody has a different thing with regard to the amount of sleep. Sleep is critically important because you know that if you get up in the morning and you’re groggy, you didn’t get a good night’s sleep, you feel it the whole day. From my world, a matter of getting a good night’s sleep is critical.

I know there’s a lot of research about sleep helps with emotional intelligence. I know Daniel Pink’s talking about certain times in the afternoon and you get certain creativity. There’s all this talk about what works. I tend to think that it’s individual. I can get up at 4:00 AM fine. My daughter, she’d be going to bed and it would kill her. Everybody’s got their circadian rhythm or whatever it is that makes them want to sleep or do a certain thing. I could not do the ice bath like Tony Robbins, but I think that if you find what works for you to get you motivated, that’s important. That’s the physical. You talk about the mental aspect. What do you cover in your book on that?

There are whole cornerstones to the mental part. If you can think of it like this, it’s about time management, goal setting, how to deal with setbacks, how to create a PMA or a Positive Mental Attitude. Each one of those things has a dedicated chapter. I’ll go over them. I did a TED Talk and I got to get over this because you have to do those talks in about fifteen minutes. The time management is basically if you’ve got 24 hours in your day and you sleep eight, which is what I do, you’ve got the other sixteen to determine whether you’re going to spend or invest. In spending, it’s like having fun, kayaking and mountain biking, whatever it is. Investing, you see them moving toward your specific goals. You have to work it like a chart, the number of hours and this stuff. It’s not brain surgery. It’s quite easy to do. The goal setting is critical because I always ask my audience, “Do you have a goal card in your wallet?” I’m not talking American Express. 99.9% of people do not have a goal card and you need that. It’s critical.

In setting your goals, one of the things I always say when I’m on stage is, “How many people have dreams?” Literally, 90% of the people raise their hands. My opening dialogue is dreams are BS and everybody’s like frozen then they say, “Who hired this guy?” The truth is this. Goals and dreams are identical except for one major critical factor. That is goals have a time of completion. You’re focusing on that. One of the things that I do is I write down my goals and then I post them on my lamp. It’s the last thing I see when I go to bed. It’s the first thing I see when I wake up in the morning. I’m laser-focused on solving those objectives. 99.9% of people won’t do this, but that’s the real key to success. Moving over to Positive Mental Attitude, I remember the first year I did the 5,000 and I had a guy come up to me when I announced that I was going to do the 10,000 the next year. He said to me, “Bill, you’re crazy. Are you going to double it?” What he did was he put a negative thought in my head and for about 24 hours I kept thinking about that like, “Was he right? Can I do this?”

I realized the guy didn’t know me. He didn’t know how I trained. He didn’t know anything about me. I basically dispelled any negative thought processes from my head. I always say that your head is like a rental unit. You can rent it out to positive thoughts or negative thoughts. It’s absolutely free, whichever one you want. For me, everything is on a PMA basis or a Positive Mental Attitude, a can-do basis. Dealing with setbacks is the other cornerstone. Somebody asked me once, “What’s your biggest failure?” I said to them, “I don’t think I’ve had one yet. I’ve just had learning experiences.” It comes down to how you process. In everything that we do, I think about what I do if it works great. If it doesn’t, I’m okay with it. I know how to get up off the canvas because I’ll fail five or six times before I get a hit. Most people when they fail, they quit. That’s the big variable, making that work for you.

As you’re talking about some of your health goals and some of the things that we’ve discussed on your sit-ups, I’m thinking, is it eleven hours and 32 minutes with no stopping? Do you get food, water, bathroom breaks or watching television above your head or anything?

There were no bathroom breaks. This is what happened. Most people are interested in this detail. My 5,000, 10,000, 15,000 and 20,000 were all consecutive and there’s no stopping. I did 25,000 in the next year, but I did take some potty breaks. Here’s the deal. When I did the 20,100, and I’m going to give you an insight, the reason why it’s an extra 100 is that ABC, NBC, and CBS are coming in with their cameras right when I finished the 20,000. They were setting up the cameras and I said, “This would be embarrassing if they start to interview me in the bathroom,” because I had to go to the bathroom so bad I can’t wait to tell you. I did another 100 for the cameras while they were setting up. My administrative assistant contacted Guinness and said we never had anybody do that many in a row without stopping. They said, “We have a record in our book,” that at the time was 35,000 but he took breaks.

I’m thinking of the dehydration. You almost want an IV, but then you’d need a catheter at the same time.

I drank from the biker’s bottle because you have to hydrate the muscles so you don’t cramp. I do remember I cramped at 17,826.

It must’ve been a bad one to remember the exact number.

When you get those roll-ups in the calf muscles, you don’t forget it. The real key is you have to hydrate. It’s critical. Most people don’t drink enough water and that’s a hot topic for another day. If I drink the water, then I have to go to the bathroom. It’s one of these things whereas I’m doing my sit-ups, I’m using a biker’s bottle where you squeeze it. I’m getting my liquids that way.

[bctt tweet=”The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.” via=”no”]

That’s a long time. How boring was it?

It wasn’t that boring, to be honest with you. First off, I had kids come in from various high schools that were hitting the counter, the little clicker that you have in your hand. One year I had one kid said to me, “Mr. Morris, I don’t know how to tell you this.” I said, “What?” I’m going back and forth, he goes, “My thumb is getting tired.” I did a lot of interviews during the eleventh hour.

Can you talk while doing all this?

Yeah, and I also recruited other people to do them with me. It wasn’t just me.

How far did anybody else get? Probably not anywhere near.

Most of the guys wouldn’t partake because they thought it was a contest and I said, “No, it’s a charity.” Mostly, I had women that were gym instructors that would do 500 or 1,000.

All this went to Make-A-Wish? Do you still work with them at all?

I haven’t worked with them. I left them because I came out to the West Coast. I was on the board in New Jersey and that was when I was the East Coast guy. Now, I’m a West Coast guy.

You go and you talk to groups about this thing, about it combining the health, the mindset and everything you deal with. You say that only 5% of people are successful. Why do you think that’s the case?

They don’t set goals. They’re not driven by anything. That’s the biggest drawback. You’ve got to have something you’re living for.

How many goals do we need?

It depends on the individual. Some people can take one or two. Some people are seven or eight. It’s on an individualized basis. I would say the biggest misnomer about it is it’s not about money. A lot of people think, “I’ve got to make more money.” That’s not necessarily the road to happiness. I know more unhappy millionaires on Wall Street than you can shake a stick at. It’s about finding your calling. It’s like what Mark Twain said, “The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.” That’s what it’s all about. Coming out to that realization of why are you on the planet? What are you doing? That’s the way you’ve got to do it. You’ve got to set your goals up on what makes you tick.

What’s your next big goal?

It was making it in American Ninja Warrior. They contacted me. The casting got me. They said, “Can we review your video?” It’s a 30-page application and it’s a nightmare. We talked and I figured I’m in. I’m like Willy Wonka in the Chocolate Factory, like Charlie waiting for my golden ticket. It never happened. They never called me back. I’m like, “What happened?” They go, “You fell through the cracks.” They said, “Come on up and you can do a walk-on status.” I’m on line up in Venice with about 75 other people and they never got to the walk-on. That was a little disappointing. It is what it is.

TTL 561 | Formula For Success
The Formula for Success

Is there an age cut-off for that at all?

No, thank God. You’ve got to be 21 to get in. Mostly everybody is 23.

I’ve been in rock climbing competitions where they’re all 18 to 23. I did well in my class because there’s no one in it. I came in third at rock climbing, but you’ve got to remember there’s only five of us. That means I came in second, third from the bottom too.

My son and his girlfriend are in their 30s and I met with them to a rock-climbing place in Phoenix. I beat both of them up to the top of the wall. I felt good about that.

We have a great rock-climbing gym here in Arizona. We have some fancy ones, but we’ve got a real serious climber place. It’s not glamorous, but it’s got some of the coolest people. One of the guys who were on my show, Erik Weihenmayer, the guy who hiked all the summits blind, I saw him rock climbing at our gym here and he ended up being on my show later.

Erik’s father and I are friends. He’s a wonderful guy. I knew him when he was eleven years old and his dad and I worked at Kidder, Peabody together.

Erik hadn’t lost his eyesight yet at eleven, had he? He had lost some of it, but not all of it?

He was losing it at that time because I remember dealing with his dad and I was like, “How do you go through that?” His dad is a super individual. He had pictures of Erik on this desk. Erik was nine or ten years old at the time. It’s amazing that our paths crossed that way.

He talked about having goals. He did the river rafting, the Grand Canyon after that. I’m thinking, “Imagine being on the Colorado River.” I’ve done the Colorado River rafting and that would be terrifying to do blind.

He’s cut from a different cloth. He’s outstanding.

All of the things that you’re talking about, it’s the same level of tenacity and following through the goals. I teach a lot of courses where we teach them to have smart goals. A lot of people forget to make a measurable and you brought that out well. What you do is fascinating. A lot of people can learn a lot. I know you do speaking and a lot of other things with your writing and all your board of directors’ positions. A lot of people might want to know how they could reach you. How would they find your work if they wanted to look for you online?

I’ve got a website, it’s That goes through my background and so on and so forth. If you reach me at, that will come through. If that’s an issue, you can always get me at the university because I teach strategy. I teach at the University of California Irvine, UCI. For the past few years, I’ve been teaching strategy and entrepreneurship.

I saw you had an MBA in international finance. You have an interesting background. You do a lot of different things. We’d have plenty to chat about. This was a lot of fun.

Let me give you my email address at the university. It’s

Your book’s also available on Amazon, The Formula for Success.

The cool thing about the book is I made it under $10 and I made it under 100 pages. It’s simple.

A lot of people like the real, “Give me the information and give it to me in bite-sized pieces.” That’s an amazing thing to check out on the site. I enjoyed our conversation and my two little sit-ups I did probably don’t matter much now, but I’m going to keep working.

Don’t compare it. Never compare. It’s not fair.

I guarantee it won’t be eleven hours of them though, but I’ll get better.

I’d like to thank Stacey and Bill for being my guest. We get many great guests on the show. If you’ve missed any past episodes, you can find them at You can find out more about Cracking the Curiosity Code and the Curiosity Code Index at I hope you join us for the next episode of Take The Lead Radio.

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About Stacey Hanke

TTL 561 | Formula For Success

Stacey Hanke is the CEO of Stacey Hanke, Inc. and author of Influence Redefined. Stacey is a regular contributor to Entrepreneur, Thrive Global,, and Forbes. Based on more than two decades working with hundreds of thousands of leaders, c-suite mentor Stacey Hanke has found that many of today’s leaders have mistaken beliefs about what it means to be influential.


About Bill Morris

TTL 561 | Formula For Success

Bill Morris is a speaker who had a long career as a Wall Street executive. Bill currently is on the Board of Directors of three privately held companies and one non-profit. Bill holds a World Record in fitness for consecutive sit-ups – a fundraiser for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He is the author of The Formula for Success.


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