An astonishing number of coaches and gurus have their own lists of the secrets to success, but few ever reach the level of authoritativeness and prominence that Douglas Vermereen has. An internationally-acclaimed wealth and personal development coach, Douglas has created a wealth of strategies from his connections with business leaders from some of the world’s biggest and most well-known companies. In addition to being a mentor and coach for many successful trainers and coaches, he is also a creator of several films and author of several books. In this extremely fortuitous moment, Adam Markel gets to pick his brain on the subjects of gratitude, resilience and other underappreciated secrets to success. They also talk about the backstory of some of his most successful films and how he has been pivoting in his endeavors during COVID-19.
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The Secrets To Success: What Gurus Don’t Tell You With Douglas Vermeeren
I’ve got a big smile on my face, which I love to smile. My resting face is sad when I was a kid. I remember not even when I was a kid into my twenties, if I was not smiling, somebody would walk up to me and go, “Is everything okay?” I’d react to be like, “No, I’m sick of people asking me that.” It became easier to smile, but smiling also is transformative. When I’m smiling for any reason, I feel that everything in my body on a biochemical level is changing and my thoughts become better. My energy is better. I feel more energized. It might sound a little superficial, but if you can find time to smile for no apparent reason, you don’t need a reason to smile. If for nothing else, if you can’t think of a good reason to smile, remember what I said that when you’re not smiling. If you take a look at your face in the mirror, you’ve got a resting bitch face, a resting sad face to a resting angry face. Everybody has that rare. I see a person that doesn’t have a resting face that’s not congruent with the energy they want to put out in the world.
I feel great and happy that I have a great guest, somebody that’s coming back to meeting this person. That was many years ago that we last met at an event that we were both together at and we’re making a reunion out of it. Douglas Vermeeren has researched the success strategies from business leaders in companies like Nike, Reebok, Fruit of the Loom, FedEx, American Airlines, UGG Boots, Uber, KFC, McDonald’s, Disney, United Airlines, Microsoft, and others to share the success secrets with other people. He’s a trainer of trainers, a coach of coaches, somebody that’s doing some amazing things has been featured on Fox, CNN, ABC, NBC TV, and CBC. We use a Canadian. We’re not going to hold that against them. Douglas, it’s great to have you on the show. Welcome.
It’s good to be with you. What’s funny is I’m a dual citizen, so I’m always conflicted about where I belong.
You’re too nice to be an American. I don’t know what it is about Canadians and maybe it’s not fair to stereotype every Canadian as a good person. Every Canadian I’ve ever met with only 1 or 2 exceptions frankly, I felt were a little kinder and gentler than the culture of people that are raised in the neighbors to the South. That’s not to say that there isn’t a place for the go-getter mentality or edgy. I grew up in New York. I was around a lot of edgy people and stuff but Canadians, there’s something going on up there. Maybe it’s in the water.
I like the saying that you probably heard that there are only 1 or 2 bad people on the planet. They get around a little bit. That’s the deal. I feel like you do that there are good people everywhere, but in our industry, it attracts people who maybe have positive vibes and are a little bit more easygoing. They’re looking for the good in people and that’s maybe not always true in any industry. This idea of good and bad, maybe it’s the circles we travel in.
Speaking of that industry for people that don’t know what industry we’re referring to, I think you’re referring to the personal development and personal growth industry. About that space, industry that you get a lot of people, at least in my experience, who are healing from wounds that are working on themselves that are teaching people in many ways. The things that they either have had to learn themselves or are still in the process of learning, which makes it an interesting thing. I’d love to get a sense of how it is that you got either drawn into or attracted to. How is it that you pivoted into that space? Maybe you could tell us a bit of that origin story that’s a good place to live in.
The crazy thing is I had no exposure or experience with it at all growing up. My dad worked in construction, a rough guy. My mom babysat kids in the home. We were broke. We were highly engaged in the poverty pattern and immersed in the rat race. I thought that’s how I’m going to make my way in life is I got to hustle and be this grinder. I’ve got to get an education, which I wasn’t clever. I had learning disabilities. I was like, “This is not going to be my route.” When I was about nineteen, somebody gave me the book, Think and Grow Rich. That was my first exposure to it. The other book they gave me was How to Win Friends and Influence People.One thing that success books don’t share enough is gratitude. Click To Tweet
To show you a little bit about the dumps and area I was at when he gave me the book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. He said, “The first person you needed to learn to become friends with is yourself.” I was a bit offended but I was like, “That’s not fair like I wasn’t being kind to myself either.” When I read the book, Think and Grow Rich, I was inspired like everybody who reads it. I was like, “This is a cool book,” but I was jealous. What I was jealous of is I thought of Napoleon Hill who wrote that book. He met with Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, the Rockefeller’s, the Wrigley’s, and all these people. That’s what got me on my path. I was like, “If he can go and meet those people, maybe I can go meet those people and learn from them.” I have to admit, maybe my motives were a bit selfish when I began. The truth is I was looking at meeting successful people, so I could steal their best ideas and make something of myself.
What I didn’t count on happening was that I would develop friendships with them and they were much more inclined to help me, mentor me and guide me than I’d ever expected. That was the escaping of my life. How did I get involved in personal development? As you’re talking with people like Oprah, Richard Branson and all these people, everybody wants to know what they taught you. I started getting these invites, “What did Richard teach you? Come talk to our group.” I started speaking and I had no idea it was even an industry or career. I thought I was doing a favor and I got hooked with the teaching part. I know that you can relate because when you’re sharing wisdom and you see people evolve and change, it’s a neat feeling to know that you’re part of that.
Tell me about the time you met Oprah.
It was cool. It was an event that a friend of mine, Christian Darbyshire was hosting here in Canada. Oprah was speaking in one of our bigger arenas and because I knew Christian and he had done some work with us for our first movie, The Opus, he said, “Why don’t you come out and meet Oprah?” I was like, “Yeah.” We went and we were part of a VIP behind the scenes get together with her as she was getting ready to come on stage. We spent a good 1.5 hours with her getting to know her, got pictures with her, all this stuff, and got on her radar. At the time, I had put out our second movie, which was coming out called The Gratitude Experiment. I was able to give her a copy. We had a good long conversation about the power of gratitude and how she uses that in her life. It was neat. That’s one thing the success books don’t share enough of is gratitude.
It’s the unsung hero. Maybe not so unsung anymore, but there are a lot of people talking about it because it is a powerful thing that even at any moment, regardless of what’s going on, there’s a place for gratitude. There’s a transformation that’s possible and gratitude. When you find that somebody who’s done well in life has practices and specific rituals around something like gratitude. You go, “You’re not too busy for that. You don’t have too much money to have to care about that.” That’s a beautiful point.
One thing that I thought was interesting, and we brought this up in that movie as well, the thing that I discovered is whatever we’re grateful for, whether it’s your relationships. You want better relationships, you need to start being grateful for what you have. You want more abundance. You’ve got to be grateful for what is in your life. Feel it, whatever it could be feelings of self-worth, self-confidence. Whatever you want to grow, gratitude expands whatever it touches. The other big a-ha in that movie when we were doing it, I believe I learned this from Mary Morrissey when we interviewed her from the film. She was talking about the big difference between having gratitude for and gratitude in. Most of us have gratitude for things outside of our lives like the car, the relationships, you fill in the blank, things that we can tangibly touch. What happens when that’s taken away? What happens when that disappears? How do we still find gratitude even if we’re in a position of things not going right? I thought that was profound.
Tell me about filmmaking. Where did you grow up in Canada or in the US?
I grew up in Canada, and then I went and did all my school in the US. I used to live in California. I used to live in Encino. Funny enough, I sold pest control door-to-door in Redlands Hesperia, Victorville. I started as a background extra when I was in the second grade. When I was in high school, I did a little bit of stunt work here and there, and then I did some into a college and university. The last big movie that I did photo dabbling and stumpwork gone was Open Range with Kevin Costner and Robert Duvall. That’s bending a cowboy movie that was shot up by here. I’ve always been fascinated by film. When I interviewed those 400 top achievers after reading Think and Grow Rich, I wanted to make a movie on personal development. I did. Everybody that I talked to was like, “We don’t even know where to put that in the video store. There’s another antique, a video store. What is it a self-help thing? Is it a how to? Is it a document? Where does it fit?” No one would ever give me the chance, but then the secret came along and what the bleat came along and they did big business.
All of a sudden, my phone rang off the hook and I was like, “Are you still interested to do one of these movies?” Our first movie was shot as a period piece narration, but then cutaways to interviews with some of the grades Jack Canfield’s in there, Mark Victor Hansen, and the whole gang. That was our first movie, Random House did 23 languages worldwide with the book, which was awesome. It opened up the opportunity for me as a speaker. People started saying, “We’d love to know your film. Would you come to talk to us?” I did two other films since then and then this new one. I did The Gratitude Experiment talking about the power of gratitude with Bob Proctor, John Gray from Men Are From Mars is in there, Mary Morrissey and few others. We did The Treasure Map, which focuses mostly on money mindset and you speak a lot about it. The thing that happened to me too is when I interviewed the top achievers, my blueprint changed. I can relate to that.
What’s the latest movie called?
The latest movie is How Thoughts Become Things. This is the one we’re excited about. It’s been a unique ride with COVID because normally, we will do screenings, theaters, do galas and have the speakers out, but this time we’re chilling at home sharing the movie with people. Maybe because people are at home, but our sales are off the hook. We’re outselling the original film, The Secret Three to One, which is incredible. I can’t even believe that. It’s a blessing in disguise, but I think it’s because the film also has come at a time when we need help with their thoughts.
People are alone with their thoughts and they don’t know how comfortable that is at times we’re focusing.
It’s cool that you say that because we often think about adults being at home with maybe fear or, “What am I going to do with my job gone or my economics and everything?” My favorite letter that I got was from an eleven-year-old boy who wrote to me and said, “You know what I love in the film? How you talk about fear being one of our greatest powers. Before this, I was afraid at school. I had bullies that bothered me. I wasn’t good at school. I was afraid of what I was going to do.” He listed all these things and he said, “I look at what’s going on in the world and I see the adults that I look to for my support and my hope and they’re afraid. I’m terrified.” This conversation of COVID hasn’t addressed the kids very much. He said, “I don’t know how to interpret what’s going on. I don’t know what to do. As soon as I saw the film, I began to feel some peace because I recognize that fear is a form of imagination that’s left without boundaries and support. I’m glad we made a difference there.”
The statistics are stark. In June 2020, they surveyed a segment of 18 to 24 years old. They found that 1 in 4 had considered committing suicide. Anxiety and depression rates have skyrocketed since COVID and the bulk of the increase is in that younger age demographic. The fact that you’ve got that feedback from a young person that’s seeing that movie and feeling more secure because you couldn’t be meeting the market, people, and all of us where we most are right now, which is in a state of uncertainty. I’ve got a book coming out. That’s all about leveraging the power of uncertainty, and it’s counterintuitive because uncertainty is the darkroom. It’s the Boogeyman that’s under the bed. It’s all the unknown and the things that produce fear when we don’t have a sense of what’s going to happen next.
Let me share with you something interesting too. Not only when we did this film, but when I went out and I was doing my interviews with the top achievers, I evolved from business people, celebrities and athletes. I got some good info there. I also wanted to know a little bit about transformation, which is what we talk a lot about in the personal development industry. How can we shift? I didn’t want to interview the regular suspects like our regular guys who can over the weekend turn you into something new. There are people that can do that. I get that, but I wanted to interview somebody that’s maybe not from that world. I decided to interview the suicide hotline worker lady that trains all the people in the US.The more choices we can help people seem the more power we turn over to them. Click To Tweet
It was an interesting discussion I had with her. I’ll never forget something that she said. I said to her case, “What are some key things that you’ve got to do to transform somebody? When they call in, they’re at the lowest point of despair. People are hurting, they’re in pain. Some of the people have a gun on the bed next to them. Maybe they’d taken pills or some people have already they’re committed. She said, “Out of all the things that we can tell them, the one thing that we won’t say is don’t kill yourself.” I was like, “That’s the first thing I would say, don’t. Why is that?” She said, “When these people call, they feel like they don’t have any choices. They feel like they’re cornered and that this is the only solution. If I tell them what to do, it makes them again feel like I’m another victim of what’s going on around me.”
She said, “What we do instead is we point out that you could kill yourself. That’s a choice, but then we help them see the consequences. We help them see that you could do that, but that’s what this looks like or you could call and get help like you’re doing now and that’s what this looks like.” She said something that I thought was super profound, “When we help them see they’ve got choices, the more choices they see, the more power we turn to them.” I thought that was neat. I wonder if that’s partly what’s going on with COVID. I was talking to another young guy too about this idea of suicide and what’s going on. I didn’t know the stats that you said, that’s interesting. What he said is, “It’s not even that I’m in despair. I’m bored. Maybe one day I end it because it doesn’t matter either way.” I was like, “That’s a scary insight that some people don’t even look to what the consequence could be. They don’t look beyond the future. They’re feeling unfulfilled at the moment and that becomes a possibility of escape.” It’s scary.
Do you think at some point maybe a movie or a project that you’re involved in might tackle that? Is that something that is dealt with in how thoughts become things?
I shared that story that I shared in the film, but I don’t think we focus on the feelings of depression per se, thoughts of suicide or what have you. That’d be a subject matter to tackle for sure it would be. I signed a deal and I’m meeting with the guys again to do my next movie. The next movie is on overcoming screen addiction.
I’m glad you answered that question before I asked it, which was what’s the next project. I heard again these statistics are floating around in my head, but we’ve got something going on called Constant Cognitive Arousal. It’s 150 to 200 times a day, we are picking up our devices checking things whether it’s Facebook or other things email, etc. It’s producing this low level of anxiety in us. There’s a documentary out called The Social Dilemma. It’s by design in many ways that these devices are created to addict us, but more than that to keep us focused the way they want us to be focused. A lot of that is stealing something. We’re taking something as much as it’s giving something. There’s also a price we’re paying for it. I’m curious, what’s this project about if you’re at liberty to say?
I can say a few things. I love the catchphrase that they’ve got for it. They referring to social media. It says, “The prison too powerful to turn off,” which I thought was cool. That’s it like these are the bars on your cell and nobody thinks about it that way. I love that The Social Dilemma talked about how it’s calculated and designed to trap us but what this film will talk about is the escape route. We all know where we’re caught and the truth of the matter is, it’s a weird prison because it’s not drug addiction or something where you can say, “I’m going cold turkey. I’ll go to rehab. I’ll get help and I’ll never touch this stuff again.” This is a consistent part of our day. We cannot operate in life without connecting to either loved ones, a business or whatever through this. It’s how you dabble with fire and not get burned.
There’s someplace between coming off the grid, being able to go off the grid and being so on the grid.
The thing with the other experts that I talked to already in this space too is as many people like other addicts, the behavior is the same. They’re in denial that this thing has some form of control over their life. The first question is to recognize to what degree you’re wounded. That’s a hard question. Maybe when we get the film for that done, we’ll come back and we’ll talk about it again. It’s an interesting question because we’re all knee-deep in it.
First of all, I’m a huge believer. We’re going to shift our conversation into the topic of resilience, but with almost anything change starts with awareness. Often the change can be small because all you’re looking to do is break the status quo. If the status quo is that you pick up your phone with no consciousness around, what’s the potential that it has for good and not for good in your own life. You’re ignorantly being used in many ways. I think we are a tool and as that movie talks about that we are the product. It doesn’t mean that in order to break that status quo, to break the streak, you’ve got to do something radical. There’s no need to jump ship from technology, that’s foolish. That’s what people think that it’s an all or nothing game, “I need to go off the grid or I’ve got to be on the grid.” That’s the way it is, but there are other things you can do.
My phone when it’s in standard mode, for me, it is in grayscale as in gray and white. It’s also set to vibrate or no sounds, so I’m not getting notifications. There’s no bell ringing and no sound that’s triggering my parasympathetic system to produce cortisol to be like, “Did I get a message? Did I get a light?” There are no colors that are like little eye candy for me. It’s boring. I started this experiment about a couple of months ago. I would say at this point I pick up the phone, touch the phone and utilize the phone about 1/3 of the time that I was previously. Without sound and color, physically, it’s much less attractive to me. I’m not playing into some of the others call it the strategy and maybe even the tactics that are being used by social media to draw me in for more screen time, more of my precious time looking in otherwise consuming their content.
That’s one of those small steps that at least for me, I was able to take. It’s one of those things where you go, “I’m now engaging with technology.” I’m not abandoning it, but who’s in control. You remember from an exercise that we did in this financial literacy course that you and I had last met. There’s an exercise where you’re contemplating, whether you are in charge of money or money is in charge of you. We won’t talk about the exercise, but it’s profound when it comes to technology or money that you have a sense of who’s running the show. With technology in many ways, we think we are running the show, but we’re not. The movie that you’re putting together, I don’t know how long it takes you to put a movie together, but this is one I would say it’s needed now.
We’ll be talking about some strategies. I’ve got black and white pictures and screens too, but I didn’t do it because of the way you did it, I did it because the picture looked better. I do business all over the world and my wife got upset one night when somebody from the UK was sending me messages. I had the ding on, and it was 3:00 in the morning. From then on, I keep my phone outside of any room. I don’t even carry it with me most of the time. When I’m in the office, I’ll leave it in another room while I’m doing work on the computer and so forth. It’s a hard thing I can empathize with people who are like, “Where’s my phone?”
It’s a body part. Adaptational will someday we’ll be growing one of those or something.
We also connected at a Secret Knock too not too long ago. We were there but you were busy and I was busy.
It’s funny that Greg is a filmmaker and the Frank Shankwitz movie was beautiful.Like happiness, resilience is a choice that creates good consequences. Click To Tweet
I was there for the premiere. It was amazing.
Encinitas you were there or he did that one in LA?
Where they showed it. It was at that Secret Knock that they showed it.
For people that don’t know who Frank Shankwitz is, he’s the guy that came up with the idea for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He was the guy at first help to grant a wish to a young boy in Arizona who was dying of cancer and wanted to be a state trooper. He has the heart, the size of that state or bigger. It’s a beautiful movie, Wish Man. A mutual friend of ours, Greg Reid was the director on that project and a producer I think, or one of the other.
Let’s talk a little bit about resilience as we wind things down here. The world is facing great challenges. You’ve got a movie, How Thoughts Become Things. Let’s talk about the perspective that you took in that movie and apply it to how it is that people create resilience. I’d love to get your definition of resilience to start with, and then let’s bridge the gap if it’s possible, between the content of that movie and this concept of resilience.
There are a lot of things we could talk about on resilience. I’m a competitive mixed martial artist. When you’re in that atmosphere, it can be painful but not in the sense that people think. It’s not taking the punches in the ring that hurt. It’s the preparation and practice. They say that if we learn how to get through pain and practice, we don’t bleed on the battlefield. This is partly true with resilience, that our strongest bit of resilience, whether it’s making a movie, whether if you’re an entrepreneur or whatever it is that you’re trying to do in life. I love what Stephen Covey talked about that our private victories precede our public victories.
It’s those things that we’ve got to do when no one’s looking. There’s no one there to prod or to push us forward. It is the stuff that we do in private. The commitment that we ultimately have to the greater long-term vision. The more choices we have, the more power we have. A couple of years ago, I had a chance to speak at a maximum-security prison in North Carolina. There were guys in there that had at the time made choices that they thought were good, choices that they thought would bring them happiness and everything else. What I found is this idea of happiness being a choice. That’s an incomplete answer. Happiness is making a choice that creates a good consequence. One that we’re happy with, pleased with, and have more freedom with and experience that. Resilience is the same thing because we can bang our head against the wall with things that don’t have value, or we can have a vision of what we want out of life, the legacy that we want to achieve and create that will affect our family, our future and everyone else. That stuff is worth suffering for. It’s worth making a trade.
One other quick thought is a couple of years ago, one of my best friends is John Demartini, who you guys all know from The Secret. He and I were talking about the word passion. He feels like the word has been misplaced and misused. When we’re talking about passion, we talk about the things we love, but the truth is the original of the word comes very similar to the usage of inside The Passion of the Christ. What do we love so much that we’re prepared to suffer for? That’s what passion is. We’re willing to sacrifice. We’re willing to suffer. We’re committed that there is no pain. One of the biggest problems, why people have a challenge being resilient is because they don’t have love. They don’t have a connection deep enough to something that has meaning. They don’t see the long-term consequences. They’re not living for a bigger picture. That’s what allows me to get through things. I wish I could say I’m perfectly resilient in every way, make the right choices, and I always sacrifice the right things, but we don’t because we don’t often see clearly what we want. If we invest the effort to see that, we gain power in resilience.
Private victories proceed with your public ones. It reminds me of something that Steve Martin said, he was being interviewed by Charlie Rose some years ago. The statement that I’m about to share with you ultimately became the title of a book by Cal Newport called So Good They Can’t Ignore You, and the concept there and why it’s relevant is that he breaks down the myth of the passion principle. Passion’s important, but you can’t use passion as a way to decide what your career is going to be. You don’t know enough at the beginning and you don’t know whether or not you are willing to suffer the slings and arrows to suffer the pain. That’s often required to become masterful at something. That process of becoming masterful, it’s the craftsman’s mentality. Isn’t about, “I love this thing. Therefore, I can endure the pain.” It’s because you’ve been able to endure the pain of doing something that you learn to love it. You learn that you’re equipped to do it effectively, consequentially, and you can create great outcomes.
When I was doing my interviews with the world’s top achievers, and I can’t remember which business leader it was that shared this, but he pointed out most gurus nowadays are saying, “If you want to be successful, all you have to do is follow your passion or your purpose.” He shared this quote from Warren Buffett that I’ve never forgotten. He says, “What you love about you is your hobby. What other people love about you is your business.” He was talking to me and he says, “I don’t want you to follow just your passion and your purpose. What I want you to do is find where your passion and purpose overlaps the passion and purpose of other people.” He pointed out that’s where the profit is, but more important than the money, it’s where the validation comes from. When you have these difficult days speaking against resilience and when you have moments where the crap hits the fan and you’re feeling like, “I can’t do this anymore.” It’s going to be those that you serve that makes you feel like you’re making a difference. That was a powerful insight when he shared that with me.
For the people that want to know a little bit about what resilience looks like in your world, give us an example of an experience. I know I hit you between the eyes with that. The other thing that’s important is that you’ve got to create resilience before you need it. Resilience isn’t something that you turn on in an instant when the shit hits the fan. That’s where the practice comes in. That’s where the effort in the drudgery and the boredom that you go through when you do something. You’re in mixed martial arts, so the pain of the practice is what prepares you for the arena when it’s live and it’s real.
The other thing that it creates is muscle memory. If I had to wait, be in a situation and try and think through something like, “This is what I’m going to do. This is how I’m going to respond as it’s occurring,” unfortunately, I’m going to be way too late. It’ll be over before I get a chance.
There’s an element of thinking that’s involved in something that can more be trained. That’s an important piece of this that resilience is a trained skill.
If your first instinct is incorrect, oftentimes you spend way too much time trying to figure it out, or even you out-think yourself onto these things. That’s an important thing. Activities for me with resilience, the biggest one that comes to my mind is the one we’re all dealing with is COVID. The big challenge that we had is we invested a ton of money to make this movie. We went around the world to shoot all kinds of great people. We spend all the time editing and making it and we’ve got a release date. It was April 26 in Los Angeles, we’re going to have all the people that we have tickets sold. They told us, “You guys can’t do any gatherings.” On a dime, everything that we had prepared for and everything we thought about was taken away. This is the thing where we can build in our mind the muscle memory of understanding how to pivot and not having a correct answer, but pivoting and trying a few things to find what’s going to work without giving up. We can be strong.
Bring us into the Belly of the Beast. You’re in your virtual war room. You’re having this conversation. You can leave out the expletives. What are you guys discussing?You need to expand who you are before you can expand what you have. Click To Tweet
I remember one of the first things that somebody called me and said, “We’re not going to be able to do this event.” I finished the movie. I went on a holiday with my wife and we were in Mexico with all the kids and the grandkids. We’re celebrating because we’re done with the movie. We enjoy a break before we hit this real big promotional push on things. I was in Mexico when I got the call. I was like, “Excuse me?” They told me, “Everything’s closing up.” They also revealed the news of, “You better be on the next plane home, or you might not even get into your country.” They’re closing borders left and right. I was like, “This is nuts.” Before I jump to any conclusion, let me pause and think about this. I’m going to make a few phone calls. Any decision made at a high point of emotion is always a mistake. Immediate gratification never creates positivity or lasting result rewards. It might create a little bit of fun, but it never creates a positive outcome in the end.
When I was going to start this business as a kid, my questions were always like, “How do I find customers? How do I do my marketing? How do I do this?” I’ll never forget a friend, he goes, “I can tell you’re going to start a small business.” I said, “What do you mean?” He goes, “You’re asking selfish questions.” I said, “What do you mean by that?” He goes, “The better questions you should be asking to solve your problems isn’t, ‘How can I?’ but ‘Who can help me?’” That’s the question you want to ask because all great things are created by a team, not an individual.
I am in Mexico and that was the thoughts that went through my mind, “If we can’t do a premier, who can help me figure this out?” Either I’m going to do nothing and lose a whole pile of money and have people pissed off at me because they’re in the movie or they’ve got tickets to see the movie. I’ve got to figure out a solution, but I definitely can’t do this on my own. I took a sheet of paper. I made a list of all the people that came into my mind that might have an insight. Who do I know who’s also in the movie business that maybe is having to pivot? Who do I know that’s running events that maybe is pivoting? What are you guys all doing? Who do I know who does this, that and the other?
While I was at the beach in Mexico, I started making phone calls. I had a few zany ideas that people had. I was like, “Not in a million years will I ever try that. Thank you though. You’re a good friend, bye.” I had other people who had some great ideas and not only great ideas, but they even made my introductions to people within their networks who had the ability to execute. Even if you get good ideas, there’s always a fear in the back of our mind like, “I don’t have the skillset. How do I execute?” Jay Leno once said, “You can see who your friends are by who would drive you to the airport at 2:00 AM.” Those are the guys that will show up.
If you get to drive one of Jay’s cars, I think it changes the equation a little bit.
He was one of the guys that I interviewed and met because I used to coach Louie Anderson and they were buddies. I was calling around and I got these people who had some ideas, I was surprised at how many of them said, “Let me make a phone call. I’ll take care of that for you.” Even when I told some of them, I’m with my family in Mexico, they’re like, “You don’t even need to worry about that. I got it. I’ll arrange it. He’ll call you. We’ll sort it out.” This is something also interesting about whether it’s resilience or life. If we raise the level of our standard of friends, you’ll never do a million-dollar deal at a $10 breakfast. You get a higher level of friends. Those friendships, it goes both ways. It’s not just me who’s taking, I’ve got to serve too. That’s how friendships work. If you elevate the level of friends, you’ll see that idea of your network becomes your net worth. Before it can ever become your net worth, your network becomes your safety net. You can solve bigger problems by who you’re reaching out to and who you’re collaborating with. That made all the difference for me.
You’ve given us a lot to chew on there. When we think about practice and how it is that the practices are the preceding of something that manifests in real life. What is your practice look like for resilience? Do you have rituals? Dig into one specific ritual that’s the most meaningful in your day.
I do agree with something that maybe sounds a bit trite that people have said before is that, “The beginning of your day dictates your day.” It’s important to start your day correctly. The best way to articulate this is I want to start the day with me in control rather than me in reaction mode. In my home, I am the first one up in the morning. What I will do is start by exercising my brain before I exercise my body, but I do both. I read every single day. When I read, I’m not reading to say, “This is a great book and put it on the shelf.” I’m reading it with the question in mind that if someone were to ask me this, “How would I teach it? Would I teach it better? Are there things that I would share a different perspective on this?” I’m having a conversation as I read the book. From there, I’ll put the book away and while I’m working out, I’ll also watch YouTube videos on the subject. I’m not going to listen to music and rap out, although that’s fun, there’s a place for that, but I’m still in my learning mode. When I’m working out, I’m the guy who has a laptop and a notebook while I’m lifting weights and doing other things. That gets me into my zone and I feel like I’m in control and I’m filling me with info.
It’s the idea that you need to expand who you are before you can expand what you have. I’m always feeling like I’m in expansion mode. Whenever I hit a problem, I’m not too worried about it. I get to my network or I know I can handle it because I’m bigger than where I’ve ever been before. That’s been useful for me. I do some meditation as well. My greatest meditation, it’s like what Mike Tyson said, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.” I also love his quote that says, ‘“If you were writing what you wrote on social media and you were saying it to the guy, “You would get punched in the face, so be careful.”’
For me, whenever I train every single week day at lunchtime Brazilian jiu-jitsu, when I come in the door, if you bring your problems with you, you’re going to get hurt because your mind is in too many places at once. Whenever I come in there, you must be at the moment. You must be present. You must be even with your own breath. Everything must be in now. I find that for me, but as I’m on the mat trying to avoid getting arm barred or choked out, I’m in a state of Zen because I’m present. Nothing else interrupts me. That’s a big ritual for me. I need that to find myself
You know, Douglas, I think there’s something profound in that because it’s an element of relaxation that you can choose to bring to even the most ten situations. I remember our son, Max, was a wrestler in high school and then did play rugby and was involved in BJJ, Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He’s been bugging me forever and ever because I used to wrestle with him when he was a kid up through the middle school and then I stopped wrestling with him. He breaks me in half, then he grew and he got to be 6’3”. I go to this studio with him and we get in there and he starts going through different moves with me. I’m in two minutes, I’m full-on completely sweating, dripping and trying to keep him off me.
At a certain point, I realized that my more effective strategy even with somebody that had that experience in where I was out of my league was when I relaxed. I was much more able to not only move fluidly and flow in ways that didn’t allow him to achieve his ultimate goal, which was do armbar me or choke me out. I survived a lot longer being able to relax, assessing what was going on, adapting to what I was seeing, and then assimilating this new information. In many ways, we are looking at an opportunity right now. That’s one of the most important things you can do in our pivots.
Bruce Lee said, “Be like water.” Whenever we resist obstacles that come at us rather than just feel what they are, the resistance is an activity of the mind as it is. Oftentimes, the resistance prevents us from finding solutions. Sometimes it’s better to surrender to what is and deal with what is, in the same way that we roll with it. I’m a firm believer that martial arts is life. It is a reflection of life.
It’s a microcosm like many things. We get a friend of ours, Kute Blackson and who’s writing a book on surrender, which is going to be out soon. It’s a great topic. I love the conversation. I appreciate your presence. It’s good to be reunited. As we close out, I’ll share as both as a reminder to myself, as well as for people that are first reading in. To me, the waking ritual is, in my life, the most important by far. I believe that the quality of our lives is equal to the quality of the rituals. The conscious practices are consciously created practices, which ultimately become habits are things we don’t have to think about. The way you pick up the toothbrush with the same hand, you don’t have to think about it. When we don’t have that level of comfort with something new, we’ve got to be conscious about it.Today is my day and now is my time. Click To Tweet
Many years ago, as I was transitioning out of practicing law and moving into some other area, not even having much the time we’re living in, I had a lot of uncertainty in my life at the time. I used to wake up in the morning and feel anxious at the start of the day. I put my feet on the floor and feel even some sense of dread at times. That was a tough way to begin. I started to make this one shift, this one change that took me about ten seconds. In many ways, it put me in a position where I was creating a blueprint for the day that I wanted to have. I knew that in order to produce that day, the first thoughts I’d have, the first feelings of the day would either be something that I chose or something that would be chosen for me. The ritual is simple. Wake up, that’s the first thing. Douglas, simple question, did you wake up today?
Of course. I’ve planned on doing it tomorrow as well.
Me too and for everybody else who’s reading this, I realize you woke up and I’m not sure in your mind that you realize what a blessing that was. Not only was it a blessing, but it’s also quite a thing to note. At the same time, you can realize every day that you wake up, you’re given that gift to wake, that there are people who are not waking up at that moment. There are people taking their last breath at the moment you’re consciously taking your first. There’s something special, even if the day is tough. Even if what you’ve got ahead of you is a slog or it’s painful as many of us. Each day, it’s filled with lots of those things but regardless of that moment, you can be in gratitude.
You wake up, that’s step one. Two, it’s easy to be in gratitude for almost anything and for lots of things at that same moment. Three, what are the first words that come out of your mouth? My grandmother used to say, “Start the day on the right foot.” I couldn’t think of a better way to start the day on the right foot. The way that I speak my life into existence because the words that come out of our mouth is a prophecy. We’re speaking our life into existence. In the Bible, God said, “Let there be light.” It’s not a religious thing. It’s a question of the power of the spoken word, the power of vibration on the quantum level.
What are the words that come out of your mouth? The first thing in the morning, for a lot of people, for me, we used to be like a grunt. I would say ‘shit’ or something like that, where it’s looking after the dogs, it’s getting coffee, it’s running after the kids or whatever the things we’ve got going on. What I’m going to suggest that you do tomorrow as I do it tomorrow and as Douglas does tomorrow is that we pause for a moment. You take ten seconds. When your feet hit the floor and you feel that gratitude for that moment, what are you going to say out loud? My words are the simple words I shared on my TED Talk, “I love my life, no matter what.” You could adopt those words. You could choose to try those on for size like I did a bunch of years ago, and I’ve been saying it ever since, or you can come up with something else. Douglas, I’m going to put you to the task. I want you to email me or text me or something with the first words that come out of your mouth.
I’m already pre-planning that, and I’m teetering between, “Today is my day and now is my time.” It’s going to be one or the other too. You’re right, I love your phrase. Also, I love my life. We’ve got to find something like that. The reason I chose this ‘now is my time’ is because I’d love that imagery also that you had about while you’re taking your first breath, someone else’s taking their last, and we’ve been given this time. It is now, now is my time. You hear a lot of other people say reversal words like now and it spells won like we’ve won. That’s cool like we get it but I prefer to look at the first letters NOW. N for No, O for Other, W for Way, No Other Way. If you don’t use now, when are you going to do it? This is it. Now is your time to use it.
Thank you, everybody. If you’ve got comments, questions, anything you’d like to share, please go to AdamMarkel.com/podcasts and share your comments there. We’d love for you to subscribe. If you know somebody that would benefit from reading this conversation, please go ahead and share that as well. We love how the community has expanded and grown with great and amazing people. Ciao for now. Thank you, Douglas. Thanks for being a guest.
- Douglas Vermeeren
- Think and Grow Rich
- How to Win Friends and Influence People
- Christian Darbyshire – LinkedIn
- Mary Morrissey
- Men Are From Mars
- Secret Knock
- Frank Shankwitz
- John Demartini
- So Good They Can’t Ignore You
- Kute Blackson
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- Personal Power Mastery
About Douglas Vermeeren
Over the last two decades, Douglas Vermeeren has conducted extensive firsthand research into the lives of the world’s top achievers. He has the success strategies of top business leaders from Nike, Reebok, Fruit of the Loom, FedEx, KFC, United Airlines, Microsoft, Disney, and others to share with you.
He has been called the world most effective wealth coach and the worlds #1 Passive income coach. He doesn’t teach or focus on theory – he gets results.
Today he is the featured expert on FOX, CNN, FOX Business, ABC, NBC and others. Appearing on both television, radio and print to regularly share the powerful wealth strategies the most wealthy use. He has been featured in the New York times, Money magazine, Inc, Fortune, Forbes and the Huffington post.
For his powerful insights into financial and business success the media now refers to him as the modern day Napoleon Hill.