The one thing that is required for transformation is understanding. To change something means different. Different means something you haven’t seen or done before. This is the core idea that leads to success. Richard Kylberg believes that you have to take risks to build personal and professional relationships. Whether you are a morning person or not, the Perfect Day Formula will help you take control of daily life. Craig Ballantyne uses this to coach entrepreneurs to build high-performance teams, make money, impact, and influence.
We have Rich Kylberg and Craig Ballantyne. Rich is the Senior Executive overseeing corporate marketing communications at Arrow Electronics, but he has made this one of the most admired companies according to Fortune, so he’s got a really interesting story. Craig Ballantyne is the Editor of Early to Rise and the author of The Perfect Day Formula, How to Own and Control Your Life. He is considered the world’s most disciplined man, and he’s got a very successful business as well.
Listen to the podcast here:
Risky Transformation with Richard Kylberg
I am with Rich Kylberg, who serves as a Senior Executive overseeing corporate marketing and communication at Arrow Electronics, an 80-year-old Fortunate 150 corporation with offices in 58 countries. In five years, he developed a stunning brand message and architecture uniting this highly fragmented company around the world. Today, Arrow is Fortune’s most admired company in the industry. Prior to joining Arrow, Rich spent twenty entrepreneurial years owning radio stations. He’s a five-time IRONMAN finisher and was a qualifying member of Team USA for a Long Course Triathlon. You got an interesting background, Rich. I’m looking forward to chatting.
Thank you very much for having me. I appreciate it.
We met through Kare Anderson. She’s a lot of fun and she was a great guest. How do you know her?
Kare and I were asked to speak at a conference together. I had the first opportunity to hear her and I was really blown away by her message. I became a little fan boy following her around to learn from her and she’s put up with me over the years. She’s a remarkable thinker in the world in positive ways. I appreciate her introducing me to you.
That was really nice of her, and I trust the people she recommends. She’s amazing. You’re a graduate of Stanford and Harvard. How is it that you went from owning radio stations to get to where you are now? Why radio stations?
It’s an awkward or unusual journey. I hear about a number of corporate executives who will transition from the corporate world to the entrepreneurial world. They want to see what it’s like to run their own program, but I don’t hear too often of entrepreneurs who migrate into corporate executive positions. I owned radio stations around the country for about twenty years. In some ways, the radio industry became really challenged in ways that we recognize now with the print industry. Where my job was primarily strategy and M&A, it became hard to grow the company and operate. I decided I needed to make a change in my career in what I was doing.
Curiously enough, I knew from a thing called the Young Presidents’ Organization, the CEO of Arrow Electronics who said that he had a problem in the company that he had been trying to work on. He thought I was the right person to address that. He asked if I would consider joining him at Arrow to try to transform the company. What’s interesting about that to me is that if you look at it on paper, my resume didn’t make a lot of sense. The company mainly should’ve looked for someone with great marketing chops from IBM or Procter & Gamble or where the traditional kinds of challenge is. The reason why he asked me to come in was because he knew me. He knew my track record. He knew what I was capable of. He knew what I believed, and I believe he also trusted me. Those qualities are what really drove his decision to give me the opportunity to be a corporate executive. It was based on trust, which is really interesting.
I also have to credit him if he’s serious about transforming the company. In some ways, whether it was intentional or accidental by bringing someone in who was outside of this industry and outside of this company and really didn’t have a handle on it at all. He was almost guaranteed to get something different from what this company had seen over those 80 years, because I hadn’t been indoctrinated by it. For me, there’s some learning in there. If you seriously want to transform and change something, it almost, in some ways, requires that risk-taking to bring in people who you can trust and believe in and have confidence in, but who don’t necessarily had been riding on the same rails for years.
The only condition I gave him when I took the job is I said, “I’d just like to report to you.” He said, “I can’t do that because I have to explain all my direct reports to the board of directors here, and I don’t want to explain you.” I report to the poor CFO. The poor CFO was a lovely guy, but my approach is designed to drive someone like that there with him, but I reported him for about a year and a half. It was a great relationship, and then now, I have reported to the CEO ever since and we’ve had great success together.
I had Naveen Jain on my show and we were talking about some of the stuff you said about getting into industries that you have no idea what they’re about and the fresh eyes because you don’t have to unlearn the bad things that you think you already know. His perspective was he likes to go into completely different things. He’s got a company that mines the moon and he’s got another one that’s curing diseases. The next thing he says he’s going out into is education. He wants to go into completely different areas that he knows nothing about and learn from scratch, because he thinks you can be better that way. That’s what in a way what you’re talking about here. You’re not really having some of the baggage, right?
It takes either a tremendous amount of courage to do that or you just absolutely have no clue what you’re doing. If you’ve been playing the violin for your entire life, then all of a sudden, you’re just going to become a great drummer, it’s hard to do that, and you have to have the confidence that you could succeed as a drummer with no experience and no clue. I don’t know whether that’s courage or just delusions.
You had such an entrepreneurial spirit and if they wanted something completely new, they knew you were a risk taker, right?
Yeah, but that’s not enough. That could also be loose cannon, depending on how you look at it. What really mattered was the personal and professional relationship that I had going in with the CEO, because his charge was designed, in many ways, to shock the company because it was going to be things that nobody had seen before. When you walk into that situation, organizations and businesses are designed to stop that type of behavior, especially a company like Arrow. It’s $27 billion in revenue. It didn’t get there making bad decisions. They got there making smart decisions.
All of a sudden, you’re going to bring someone in from outside with new ideas, there’s no guarantee that these ideas are going to be good. They could be really bad and without experience. My whole experience transitioning from an entrepreneur to a corporate executive has been really eye-opening. In one of my interviews, I was asked, “How are you going to make that transition?” I said, “I don’t think I can, but I believe that the core values of an entrepreneur to be successful requires a lot of hard work and a lot of courage and a lot a lot of thinking.”
You build a business plan, but the best thing about your business plan is how quickly you can abandon it, because things don’t go the way you’d hope or pray they will. You have to adjust on the fly and you have to be honest. You have to motivate people around you to work out of their minds because you’re small, the resources are tight, and so people are just coming in and punching the clock from nine to five. It can be very difficult to get traction professionally. Those skill sets of the entrepreneur, I don’t see why that can’t work in a corporate environment.
I guess we’ll find out. I’m not an arsonist, I’m not going to burn down your Fortune 150 company. Just fire me. I’ll do something else. I love the title of your book, It’s Not You, It’s Your Personality, which terrifies me because I don’t have a very good personality. There’s real truth to that. The skill set that we wrap ourselves around and immerse ourselves maybe defines whether we become artists or become engineers are or what we become, but I was hired because of a network and someone who knew about character that matters, much more so than something that send him to a resume into LinkedIn.
You obviously did whatever they needed to have done correctly. I’m wondering if there’s one best new idea that you had that really stands out in your mind and that made such a difference in Arrow?
Transformation means change. Change means different. Different means you haven’t seen it before. Transformation was going to mean people who were very successful in a company that was very successful were going to have to start seeing and believing and following things they’d never even imagined, and that was scary. As soon as we talked out of things that were considered to be, “That’s pretty risky,” or “That’s pretty far out there.” If we allowed that to slow us down, we would have only made some incremental change. That’s not transformational change, so we had to come up with ideas. We had to prosecute those ideas oftentimes in an environment of tremendous objection.
We had to stick to our guns and really had to put our careers on the line and just say, “We really believe, as professionals, in what we do that this is the right path. We will stand up and be measured by the results of these decisions. We won’t blame people; we won’t hide behind them.” From my perspective it was if we do this wrong, I’m going to get fired right away. If we don’t do this at all, I’m going to get fired eventually. I might as well just get it over with. I’m doing what I believe is in the best interest of the company. One lesson in that has to do with understanding that objective and then understanding what that objective really means. If it’s transformation, I’m like, “Just buckle up.”
How did that change the culture of the corporation?
The corporate culture changed dramatically, because the company had been perceived for 80 years as a distributorship. If you look at the P/E multiples of distributorships and the excitement of people who say, “I don’t want to go to work at Google, I want to go work at a distributor.” Distributor is a low margin, slow growth, and very difficult place to be. The Arrow CEO saw that and recognized that the future for Arrow was to become a technology company, and a technology company is something entirely different from a distributor. That has been the fundamental mission that we’ve been on for the last seven years. The results indicate that we’ve made a tremendous amount of progress in being perceived in the world as a technology company.
You said you got to know when to drop the business plan when things are not going as planned. How do you know when you’ve hit that point?
There are the standard metrics when revenue’s not growing, sales aren’t increasing, your stock prices are not moving, and the value of the company is not going up. One of the big metrics, for me, and probably even the most important, is our employee satisfaction, recruitment, and retention. Our metrics around that is improving, because people aren’t flocking to companies that are perceived to be failing. When you start seeing these indicators around you, that people in the office are not being enthusiastic and crumbling, these are indicators that something’s off and we got to change.
In my experience in radio broadcasting, sometimes regardless of how clever you are or how not clever you are, these things are beyond anyone’s control. There are really great journalists in the print media, some of the most intelligent minds probably on the planet, and there’s nothing they can do to stop the trends in what’s happening in print journalism because of the economic model around advertising. For me in radio after twenty years, I needed to make a change. I probably needed to make that change earlier than I actually made it. Oftentimes with a business plan, it’s a combination of what you’re doing as an individual plus what’s going on that’s totally outside of your control.
If a kid doesn’t get into a college, they might call and say, “Why didn’t I get it?” The university says, “I’m sorry, we don’t reveal that information.” The reason they don’t reveal it, in my mind, is because they don’t know. If they had an answer, if they said, “Because you’re two inches too short or two inches too tall,” they tell you. They don’t know, because it is subjective. There is no answer. If you get into the college of your choice, great, you reach school, you’re not as smart or as clever as you think you are. If you don’t get in, you’re not inferior to others who might have. Life, in many ways, is a crap shoot.
Sometimes things go your way, sometimes they don’t. If you think somehow that these things have something to do with you all the time, that’s getting a little bit scary narcissistic and can lead to some bad results. I’m a victim of that myself. I worked so hard, because I have to go to the top schools or have to do this or this. At the end of the day, my education is fine. I’ve got some fancy pieces of paper that maybe overrated, but I stressed myself out through all that process. I’m glad I did it, but there’s a price. Everything seems to be in balance in the universe.
You definitely have the nicer schools on your resume. I always wonder how different the education is because I’m a professor and I deal with that. Just my own experience from online courses and from attending traditional courses, it fascinates me what the different schools teach and what they do for leadership training. I was watching some of your information that you had online about what you thought was important for leaders, and I saw you were talking about the importance of authenticity and working with creative people and all that. Do you consider yourself a creative person?
I do strive for that. Mathematically, if there’s 7.6 billion people on Earth and there’s 10,000 marketable things to be good at, like you could be a dentist or you could be Dr. Diane Hamilton, or a violinist or a football player. If you want to be the best at what you do, you’re going to compete with 760,000 other people on average in each of those 10,000 slots. That’s great, but I don’t really think I’m going to be the best at anything, particularly now that I’ve lived so long. Am I going to be the best dad? Nothing, so that’s just useless.
For those of us who aren’t going to be one of the 10,000 best at whatever it is, there’s an opportunity to be really good at connecting the dots between any of those 10,000 things, whether it’s football and music or music or engineering or whatever it is. Connecting the dots in ways that the best engineer on earth maybe can’t connect what they’re doing to art, or maybe the greatest artists cannot connect directly to music. If you become a person who connects those dots across those multiple disciplines, then you can be the best at something. That’s what creativity is in a way to me, is bridging excellence across multiple marketable disciplines.
I’m writing a book about curiosity, and I’m curious about your curiosity. What do you think sparked it to make you reach this level of success? Can you make that happen in other people? Is this something you came about naturally?
When I was young, I was pretty good at math, but I was always interested in English, language, in film, and in reading, but I wasn’t as good at it. I certainly wasn’t as good at communicating myself, so I’d try to write. It’s probably pretty embarrassing. I can’t write a great American novel or write a reasonable email. What I would like to do is I’d like to be around people who do, because I’m so intrigued by it, by communication. I ended up focusing on language and in majoring in English and communications. It’s that liberal arts background that allowed me to have this multi-disciplinary view.
I started connecting dots between things like Moby Dick and the Venus de Milo. You say, “This is interesting.” What is it about this particular book or this particular a symphony or this particular hamburger that makes it superior to others? That process became so joyful and so successful. Arrow Electronics is very difficult to describe to people. In many ways, it’s like a holding company. The company has had over 125 acquisitions, and a third of those in the last three years, so there’s all this stuff all over the place. You think about pads, pods, planes, from coffee makers to cruise missiles. If it takes the charge, we’re probably there, so it’s just a mess.
How do we articulate into the marketplace what this company stands for, what it believes in, and what it does? We decided we needed to do something in technology, something in electronics, and something that was inspirational and motivational and something that had never been done before. Because if it has been done before, then how are you differentiating yourself in the marketplace? We found a young guy whose father was a race car driver who crashed his car in a race and became paralyzed from the waist down.
This little child saw that happen, but he grew up and became a race car driver himself and became a very successful racecar driver to the point where he’s racing Indy cars. His name is Sam Schmidt, he’s racing Indy cars, and he wins. He wins in Las Vegas somewhere and then at some point he’s in a crash and hospitalized for six months. He has broken bones and was shattered. He gets out of the hospital and he’s down at the Disney World Track in Orlando. He gets out there for his first test run in his Indy car again, hits the wall, and now he’s a quadriplegic. He is done.
His dream of being a race car driver is over. He grows up to become a very successful business person. He owns his own Indy racing car team, but he’s a quadriplegic, but he has the movement above the neck. We found him in Arrow. We brought our engineers together and we said let’s take a racing Corvette and modify it, so he can drive this car. Our engineers pulled together, because we’re really systems integrators, we’re not marketing the next iPad or iPhone or Samsung Galaxy, but we’re integrating things.
We’re connecting dots. We integrated all of these different systems and protocols into this Corvette and he sits in it and he drives it. We’ve done some spectacular things where he’s raced up the Pike’s Peak Mountain, he’s driven at 190 miles per hour, but most beautifully, he’s got a driver’s license now in the state of Nevada. For the first time in his life, he was able to drive his children. They sat in the car with him, that normal thing that people do. He was able to drive his kids through Washington DC, to drive by the monuments.
Here’s this example of taking multi-disciplines, multi-things, and pulling together a story designed to inspire. Nobody’s ever built a car that can be driven by a quadriplegic. Let’s say someone asked him, “What do you think about the autonomous cars? Google has an autonomous car. What do you think about that technology?” He said, “I love that technology. It’s amazing, but for someone like me, that’s just like a faster wheelchair.” If you unwind that, what he’s saying is that if technology is taking the human being out of the equation, it’s not of much interest. The reason why technology is interesting is when technology benefits humanity.
All those stories are rolled into this exhibition we did with what we call the Sam Cars, an autonomous motorcar that’s received over 2 billion immediate impressions. It’s very recognizable for the company around the world. It differentiates us, but at the same time articulating to our employees, customers, shareholders, and stakeholders, what we believe, what we stand for, and what we’re capable of doing. That’s a business example of connecting dots in ways that intuitively make sense on the surface, but when they come together, something magic can be revealed.
Can you share how they can learn more about you or connect with you?
If they’re interested in ideas like that, or us going to the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and having them compose the Arrow theme based on a brand messaging, which spells Arrow melodically for rhythm, it spells Arrow in Morse code, absolutely fascinating symphony based on brand values, they could go to our website, FiveYearsOut.com. They’ll see our vision of what the world and technology is going to look like, not in the far distant future science fiction, but in the practical future of five years out. That’s a great way to see some of the way we’re trying to connect these dots and inspire people and change the world.
Thank you so much for being on the show.
I love your thinking. What you’re doing for organizations and leadership and for individuals trying to advance their careers and improve their lives, it’s important. I’ve read it. It helps me. Thank you for that gift.
Thank you so much.
The Perfect Day Formula with Craig Ballantyne
I am with Craig Ballantyne, who is the Editor of Early to Rise and author of The Perfect Day Formula. He’s also a strength and conditioning coach in Toronto, creator of Turbulence Training, a contributing author to Men’s Health Magazine, and a member of the training advisory board for Maximum Fitness and Oxygen Magazines. Craig is the author of The Perfect Day Formula, How to Own the Day and Control Your Life. His five pillars of success have helped his clients make more money, write books, lose weight, and even find love of their life. He’s been a contributor for Men’s Health for over seventeen years, and his works appeared in GQ, Maxim, and National Geographic, as well as Inc. and Forbes. His success formula has been featured on television across the North America and Australia and even in Russia. Welcome, Craig.
Thank you so much.
You are part of a very successful group, Genius Network, and everybody I’ve met through that have all been amazing.
Joe Polish is one of the most connected guys I know. He brings together great people. It’s absolutely wonderful.
It was fun meeting everybody at that event, and you guys are all amazing and I’m always impressed by what that network and group of people have accomplished. You are certainly at the top of this list. For people who don’t know your story, could you give a little background on how you got to this point?
I actually thought that I was going to be a strength and conditioning coach in the National Hockey League when I was growing up, so I went to school for exercise physiology. When I was there, I stumbled across the fitness editor’s email address for Men’s Health, and this is the year 2000. I randomly sent him an article and he put it in the magazine, and next thing you know is history. I got this immediate credibility boost, which is very important for anybody almost in any industry these days. You need to manufacture celebrity, whether you run a manufacturing company or whether you’re an author, you need to have all of that media.
I was able to get lucky and get into media at age 25 and I’ve been working with them since then. I sold fitness info products. Imagine a smaller version of the P90X and Beach Body videos you see on TV, I had my own versions of those. I was about 90% in love with what I was doing, but I still wanted to do something where I help people grow businesses. I found a way to do that and I bought a business called Early to Rise, which has been around since 2000 as well. Then I wrote my book, The Perfect Day Formula, and today I coach high performing entrepreneurs to get more done and make more money and build their teams and lead their teams and do their marketing and sales, so they have more impact, influence, and make the world a better place.
Everything that you teach in one industry, it can be used in other industries. You’ve talked to so many different types of people. What’s the biggest mistake they’re making that they don’t have enough time?
Most people try to do too much. It’s funny because morning routines have become a popular topic these days and a lot of people are trying to do too much in the morning. They read about this person who does meditation and they read about this business leader who does gratitude journaling and they read about this business leader who does some other thing. The next thing you know they built a three-hour morning routine because of it. It’s funny to us, but I’ve actually gotten emails from my clients who say, “It’s 7:00 in the morning, I’ve been up for two hours, and I’m already stressed out.” It’s because they’re trying to do too much in the morning.
As entrepreneurs, as successful executives, we always tend to overload ourselves because we know that we’re capable of doing a lot of work, but when we do that, we end up stressed out and we end up not giving the focus to what really matters. There’s a quote from Warren Buffett that I love to share all the time and it goes like this, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.” If you take a look at Warren Buffett, all he does is sit in a room for 90% of his time and read financial statements of businesses. That’s how he’s become the best investor in the world and he doesn’t do a lot of other things. That’s what most successful people need to think about, is chopping and cutting things, putting a not-to-do list together, so that they can open up their time for what matters.
When I’m thinking of morning routine, I’m thinking of the ice bath. It works for Tony Robbins. Other people have shared different things. What’s your routine?
I go right to work first thing in the morning. I get up, I go downstairs. If my dog has enough energy to get up and greet me at the bottom of the stairs, I’ll pet him for about 30 seconds and then I go right to my computer. I open it up, and I’ve already done the preparation work the night before for me to sit down and write a 1,500-word article or book chapter, because that’s my number one thing that I need to do. I follow the old Brian Tracy rule of Eat that Frog! I do the hardest thing first thing in the morning. Then I reward myself with some of these other routines. I do a little bit of meditation and I walk the dog and I have breakfast, but I do the work first. That’s where I re-orient a lot of people, is to move their work up earlier in their day, rather than doing four hours of mental preparation before they actually start doing anything.
I’m an early riser. I get up really early, so for me that works because I like the morning. What about people who aren’t morning people?
The Perfect Day Formula is about principles, as opposed to specifically doing what I tell people to do. My life is not going to work for other people. I like to use this little phrase that people agree with, which is, “It’s not about the hour that you get up. It’s about what you do with the hours that you are up.” I have quite a few coaching clients who are night owls, who work between 10:00 PM and 2:00 AM and are very successful. I do believe that it takes more discipline to be a night owl in this day and age of Netflix and alcohol and family time. Most people who say they’re going to work at 10:00 or 11:00 at night, they get sucked in to one of those things and next thing you know they’re falling asleep and they wake up the next morning. They’re like, “I didn’t get anything done in this night owl time.”
Even though it’s not as cool to get up early in the morning, everybody wants to be that night owls, rock star type of person working at night. It’s actually more applicable to life. The world is simply built to reward people that get up early. You don’t have to get up at 4:00 AM like you and I do. You don’t even have to get up at 5:00 AM, you just have to get up a few minutes early to get ahead. If you’re getting up at 7:00 AM now, I actually discourage people trying to jump right to 5:00 in the morning because it’s going to work for a couple of days and then they’re going to crash and feel terrible. If they get up at 6:45 AM, fifteen minutes early, and you go down to your kitchen table and you sit there with pen and paper and you strategize on your number one priority in life. You do that six days a week, that’s 72 hours in a year of clear thinking on your number one problem. That fifteen minutes at a time can get you ahead in life.
I like to get the worst thing done first because you don’t have it hanging over you, I don’t know how they stand it, having stuff hanging over them.
I built my life around that because I’m a weak person. As soon as 9:00 AM comes, I want to know what’s going on in the world and I want to check my email and all this stuff, so if I tried to work at 9:00 AM, I wouldn’t be as productive. What does work for those people later in the day is the power of the deadline. We all know that if we have to get something done by 5:00 PM, we might wait until 4:30 PM to actually start it because humans like to procrastinate, but all of the sudden, will be very focused when there’s a deadline involved. Most people are on one end of the spectrum. They’re either the type of person who loves to get up and tackle that thing first thing in the morning, and if that’s you then set up your day to do that.
If you’re one of those people who are so motivated by deadlines that you do your best work under pressure, which is definitely not me, I don’t like that stress, then it’s okay to recognize that and therefore set up your day properly and accordingly. A lot of this all comes down to self-reflection, which clearly you’ve done to figure out, “I’m a morning person. I want to get things done first,” and that is how you become successful. Everybody else who’s out there thinking, “I struggled through my day as well,” let’s take a step back and do a little bit of self-reflection and introspection and figure out where you are on the spectrum, and then design your day to best suit your schedule.
I’m an MBTI certified instructor. People are either a J or a P. You get four letters of what you are, and the people who are J personalities, which it sounds like you and I are, we don’t need the deadline as much because we want to get this horrible thing, and that’s just our personality. Then there’s the P personality. They tend to need that deadline because they work better at the last minute. If you’ve ever taken a Myers-Briggs test, it’s interesting to see where you fall on the spectrum, because that’ll tell you whether you need that deadline or not.
For me, I don’t need it so much, but for others it’s a huge thing. You’ve been called the world’s most disciplined man. I was reading Kevin Kruse’s interview in Forbes. I love Kevin’s books. His stuff is fascinating to me because I like the way he writes. You had a really good interview with him, but I read something about you having crippling anxiety. I find that hard to believe. You seem not anxious to me. What happened?
Twelve years has passed, and I’ve done a lot of work on myself, that’s for sure. In 2006, I was 30 years old, and I have very introverted tendency, so I am an INFJ as you can imagine I might be from the Myers-Briggs. I have very introverted tendencies, and at age 30, I was actually successful. I struggled from what I call the paradox of freedom, having too much freedom, having what everybody thinks they want, the ability to work whenever they want, and do whatever they want whenever they want. I was also financially successful, and so I worked all the time and I partied all the time, and that caught up with me at age 30 and I had anxiety attacks. One was so severe that it lasted for six straight weeks. Imagine 24 hours a day, seven days a week, you have tingling from the top of your head down to the end of your fingertips. You feel like you’re having a heart attack all the time you’re awake. I could sleep from 11:00 PM until about 3:00 AM, and I went to the emergency room twice. They were really crippling me. I was barely able to function and think about work or think about trying to exercise.
Fortunately, I got through it by turning over every rock. I did meditation, Yoga, Qi Gong, Tai Chi. I did all these things I didn’t like it, but I did. I learned how to breathe properly, I put some better habits in place in my life, and I started putting more boundaries and rules into my life. Then I became more disciplined and structured, which is why people refer to me as the most disciplined man. Jocko Willink has a book called Extreme Ownership, and you see him saying discipline equals freedom. There’s a great quote from the author, Paulo Coelho, who wrote The Alchemist, and he says, “Discipline and freedom are not mutually exclusive but mutually dependent, because without discipline you would sink into chaos.” That’s what happened to me. I had all this freedom, and I sunk into chaos, because there was no discipline and structure and boundaries in my day. When I put that back in, all of the sudden, I became super successful and healthier again, and that’s what it’s all about.
Can you be too disciplined?
Yes, you can have that pendulum swing too far. I didn’t have it swing too far for too long, but if you are too disciplined, then you can neglect certain relationships. You see this in people, whether they’re exercise addicts, whether they’re training for triathlons, whether they’re workaholics, people that are super focused and disciplined in some area in their life and they can let relationships slide. I guess you could say that Elon Musk might be like that, that he is so focused on things that he’s let relationships slide. Maybe Steve Jobs was the same way. I don’t know for sure, but certainly we can all have that tendency to get a little bit overboard.
Maybe it’s even in our nutrition and diet stuff, where we are sacrificing social events because, “I can’t go to this restaurant because it doesn’t fit my super strict diet routine.” Then we got to catch ourselves and go, wait a minute, how is this serving me? Discipline and structure and boundaries can serve us, and then we can become the servant to them. They need to serve us. We need to be in charge of them at all times. When you use that, it opens you up and you have what I call true freedom in your life.
You write about all these ways to be successful, and you have five pillars of success. Can you share what those are?
I actually learned this through my weight loss transformation contests that I had for my fitness business. We run these before and after body for lifestyle transformation contests for over a decade now. People take a photo and then they do the program, then take a photo and then they write a little essay. The essays are the most interesting part of it all. We’ll get hundreds of people starting, but only about 20% of people finishing, and only a few winners. I was like, “What are the common characteristics here?” I would read the essays and I realized it was these five things. Better planning and preparation than ever before, that’s number one.
Professional accountability, which is like having a coach who’s going to give you expert advice and hold you accountable. The third is positive social support, which is like being at a Genius Network meeting, which is like being at a boot camp full of other people who all want the same goal and who are all positive and supportive of you. It’s like your cheerleaders in life. They’re not going to give you expert advice, but they’re going to pick you up when you’re feeling down. The fourth is the meaningful incentive. When I first started out, I thought any old incentive would do. Give yourself $500 if you finished this transformation contest. I have given away tons of money, and people would not finish.
It was only when these people were doing it because they wanted more energy for their kids or they wanted to have better health, so they’d be around in twenty years when their kids graduated college or got married, that’s what kept them going. It was a meaningful incentive from their heart, not just from their pocket. Finally, the fifth thing, the big deadline. There has to be a deadline, because otherwise you’re waking up on January first and say, “This is the year I’m going to write that book.” That’s a very abstract thing. You still got 365 days, you can wait until tomorrow to start.
If we say, “In 30 days, I’m going to have 20,000 words on this book,” and then you give yourself a little bit of a consequence for not doing that, now you’ve got some skin in the game. You’ve got a deadline there that spurs you to action. It keeps you going through tough times and it even makes you act faster as that deadline gets closer. The five pillars of success or the five pillars of transformation are better planning and preparation than ever before, professional accountability, which is your coach, positive social support, those are your cheerleaders in life, meaningful incentive, and then finally the big deadline.
I’ve worked as a doctoral chair, and my doctoral students have to write their dissertations and it’s the old, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” If you don’t break it down, for some people, they get at the end of the time and they just lose it. How do you know how to set those deadlines? Do you use smart goals? How do you go about that?
It comes back to pillar number two, professional accountability. You’re going to get a coach, a mentor, or even read a book from somebody who has been there and done that, who knows exactly what someone can accomplish in 30 days, 60 days, or 90 days. If you’re a coach, if you’re doing doctoral stuff, you know how to break that down for somebody. If I’m a weight loss coach, Mrs. Jones comes in and she’s five foot three, 240 pounds, “I know Mrs. Jones, you can get down to 205 in twelve weeks, because of the hundreds of clients I’ve worked with in the past just like you.”
That’s the key for that, and then you set those deadlines and the expectations that someone can achieve in that time. Then we do what’s called process goal setting, because it’s great to set outcome goals of you want to lose twenty pounds in ten weeks. Those are outcome goals that we don’t fully control, but the process goals that, “I’m going to go to Fit Body Boot Camp three times per week. I’m going to follow this nutrition program all the time,” those we totally control. We have full control over those, and those are the process goals. When I’m coaching my clients, I draw it out like a staircase. The outcome goal is up in the top, and then the process goals are the stairs up that staircase that get us the outcome goal.
You’ve obviously reached some high goals here, and I’m interested in your social support part that you’ve mentioned. You do want to be around people who are successful, but don’t you want them to be even more successful than you are? Do you need to be around people that push you a little bit harder than you would if you’re the biggest person or if have the biggest house in the neighborhood, that type of thing? Don’t you want to have other people that are a bit better or more successful than you are around you?
Yeah, absolutely. I love the phrase, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.” I put almost all of my time into networking, into raising my connections, and into adding value. If I can add the slightest value to someone who’s smarter than me, then I can build that relationship. I’m lucky I’ve got this health and fitness background and I can meet a lot of smarter people like Joe Polish, who need a little bit of help with health and fitness. I can add value to them and then just by being around them, I’ll get value from them. There’s the Jim Rohn quote, “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” There’s Harvard research on this as well, so yes, you always want to be playing up a level. I use Twitter a lot and I tweet, “You always want to play up a level. Surround yourself with people that are better than you, that are smarter than you, whether it’s in their commitment to their faith or whatever it is you’re trying to improve on. Always try and play up a level.”
What I found when I was a young kid playing sports that if I was on the under twelve soccer team and we played the under thirteen or under fourteen team from my town, we would play the best game of our lives and they would play not a very good game. We might almost beat them, but then we go back to our regular league play and we’d lose to a team that maybe we should beat. It was because when we played up a level, against that under fourteen team, we brought our best game because we were all excited. I found that out in sports and I realized it applies to life as well.
It really is about who you spend your time with, and I highly encourage everyone to create connections, add value, and do all that great stuff. It doesn’t have to be just in person. Virtual connections can also help you play up a level in life, and not just in business, but in the weight loss world as well. There was a study that I quoted a lot where it found that people who check into an online weight-loss membership site or a forum or Facebook group, the people that checked in the most often got the greatest results. They were getting online social support and it works just as well as real world social support. If somebody’s listening and they’re saying, “I live in Tupelo here. There’s nobody around here.” You can go online and get connected.
What’s your moonshot, and can you explain what a moonshot is?
The first time I heard the term ‘moonshot’ was from Google, and they discussed these crazy ideas, to think big and dream big. We hear this all the time. You want to dream big and think big. A lot of people struggle with it, because they don’t spend enough time practicing it, and you actually do have to practice it. I do an exercise that I borrowed from a friend of mine named James Altucher about coming up with ten big ideas every day. Every day, I think of ten big things. Sometimes they’re for me, sometimes they’re for other people, sometimes they’re professional, sometimes they’re personal. I’m always thinking of moonshots.
For me personally, I’ve been fortunate enough that I’ve had mentors that have encouraged me to be taking moonshots for the last ten years. I had this guy, Yanik Silver, who is a friend of Joe’s. He was one of my first coaches in 2007 and he said, “Craig, you need to have one million transformation mission in your fitness business.” I’ve been fortunate that I’ve probably been able to help well over a million people. I’ve got some YouTube videos that have been watched over two million times, so I’ve reached that one million.
Now in our business, we have these t-shirts that say, “The 10 million transformation mission.” We give those to our annual event, but now through my own coaching programs and my workshops, I teach people to 10X their vision, to 10X their ideas, to take their moonshots. Now, my life’s goal and my life’s legacy is to help 100 million people transform their lives physically, financially, mentally, and emotionally. It’s an abstract goal, it’s a little hard to measure, but I know that if I’m thinking at that level, it’s going to spur me to do things differently, rather than if I was just thinking in terms of 100,000 people.
Hopefully 100,000 people or more are in the audience to find out more about how they can get to that level too. If you have ways that they can reach you, I was hoping you would share that with them.
My life’s work is in my book, The Perfect Day Formula, so we’d love to give everybody a free copy. Just pay shipping and handling at FreePerfectDayBook.com. We publish daily content, daily essays, and daily wisdom at EarlyToRise.com through our free newsletter and on our website. My favorite social media these days is Instagram, and my Instagram name is Instagram.com/RealCraigBallantyne. I do a business lesson every afternoon in my stories and I love doing that. Hopefully people will join me there.
Thank you so much for being on the show, Craig. It was so fun, and it was very interesting. I learned a lot. Hopefully I’ll see you at the next event.
Thank you so much to Rich and to Craig. If you’ve missed any past episodes, please go to DrDianeHamilton.com/Episodes. You can catch up on all of them there. Look forward to the next episode of Take The Lead Radio.
About Richard Kylberg
Rich Kylberg serves as the senior executive overseeing corporate marketing and communication at Arrow Electronics, an 80-year old, Fortune 150 corporation with offices in 58 countries. In five years he developed a stunning brand message and architecture, uniting this highly fragmented company around the world. Today, Arrow is Fortune’s “Most Admired Company” in its industry. Prior to joining Arrow, Rich spent twenty entrepreneurial years owning radio stations. He is a five-time Ironman finisher, and was a qualifying member of Team USA for long course triathlon.
About Craig Ballantyne
Craig Ballantyne is the Editor of Early to Rise and author of The Perfect Day Formula. He is also a Strength & Conditioning coach in Toronto, creator of Turbulence Training, a contributing author to Men’s Health magazine, and a member of the Training Advisory Board for Maximum Fitness and Oxygen magazines. Craig is the author of The Perfect Day Formula: How to Own the Day and Control Your Life. His 5 Pillars of Success have helped his clients make more money, write books, lose weight, and even find the love of their life. Craig has been a contributor to Men’s Health magazine for over 17 years. His work has appeared in GQ, Maxim, and National Geographic, as well as on Inc.com and Forbes.com. His success formulas have been featured on television across North America, Australia, and even in Russia.
- Craig Ballantyne
- Arrow Electronics
- Early to Rise
- The Perfect Day Formula, How to Own and Control Your Life
- Kare Anderson
- Young Presidents’ Organization
- Naveen Jain
- It’s Not You, It’s Your Personality
- Turbulence Training
- Joe Polish
- Eat that Frog!
- Extreme Ownership
- The Alchemist
- Fit Body Boot Camp