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In the realm of entrepreneurship, it’s neither the strongest nor the smartest that survives—it’s the most adaptive.
The entrepreneur who can see and adapt themselves to the incessant tides of change is worth more to the economy than the savviest graduate from Harvard Business School, or the world’s most relentless cold-calling salesman.
But adaptability rarely gets the attention it deserves, often overshadowed by business pundits who want to write or speak about “getting smart” or “getting tough” as a means to achieving entrepreneurial ends.
That changes today.
Today, on Making Bank, host Josh Felber invites entrepreneur, fitness fanatic, and film-freak Tom Bilyeu to discuss the power of adaptability and self-belief.
As a child, Tom was obsessed with two arts that made him feel alive—comedy and film—and his passion was so all-consuming that he pursued a career in both for decades.
But as much as Tom loved his two arts, he knew needed a path to wealth as well.
So, what did Tom do?
He transformed his thinking. He shifted from a fixed-mindset to a growth-mindset, and in doing so, he started down a path that would lead to unimaginable wealth and success.
The company Tom started in 2010—along with co-founders Ron Penna and Mike Osborn—was called Quest Nutrition, and within three years it became the #2 on the Fastest Growing Company in America, according to INC Magazine.
Without his penchant for adaptation and his willingness to engage in a growth-mindset, Tom would have stuck with his career in film like a stubborn bulldog and missed his financial white whale.
Today, Tom spends the majority of his time running a new venture called Impact Theory, a for-profit media company designed to end the generational poverty that is caused by the toxic “poor mindset”.
Tune-in to hear Josh and Tom discuss the development of Tom’s latest venture, Impact Theory, as well as…
- The limitations of constrictive belief systems
- What it means to make someone else your #1
- The value of being totally open and exposed and vulnerable to criticism
- What it takes to build (and maintain) a successful marriage
- How entrepreneurs should distinguish themselves if they’re just getting started
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Josh Felber: Welcome to Making Bank, I am Josh Felber, where we uncover the success strategies and the mindsets of the top 1%, so you can amplify and transform your life and your business. I’m super excited and honored for today’s guest, Tom Bilyeu.
Speaker 2: Meet Tom Bilyeu, serial entrepreneur and co-founder of the number 2 in 500 and billion dollar company Quest Nutrition.
Tom Bilyeu: I don’t give a … if you’re a born entrepreneurs. I don’t care if you’ve been to jail, I don’t care if you dropped out of high school, what do you want to become and what price are you willing to pay to get there?
Speaker 2: Tom has inspired audiences of entrepreneurs and thought leaders at some of the most prestigious conferences and seminars around the world.
Tom Bilyeu: Here’s the hard truth, you’re not yet the person you need to be in order to achieve all the things you want to achieve. The great news is you’re here because you realize that.
Josh Felber: I want to welcome you to Making Bank.
Tom Bilyeu: Thank you, man. It’s good to be here.
Josh Felber: Yeah, for sure. I kind of was telling you before we started, it goes way back when I had owned some CrossFit gyms and everything, and we started selling your Quest Bars. So that was kind of my first introduction to you and Quest at the time and everything back in the day. Totally so much respect and just admiration for what you’ve done and what you’ve created, and really seeing what you’re doing now with Impact Theory and the transformation you’re trying to help other people come in into business and making those big changes is so awesome, and so that’s why I’m excited to have you on the show today.
Tom Bilyeu: Thanks, man, I really appreciate that.
Josh Felber: Thanks. I guess tell me a little bit about your background and our audience and stuff, if they don’t know exactly, those struggles and some of those challenges, and if you just kind of popped out as an entrepreneur or if that was kind of a second nature that you moved into.
Tom Bilyeu: Yeah, well, I’m not a born entrepreneur, and I think that’s really important for people to understand. I grew up … My parents taught me to be a good employee which meant, keep my head down as little work as possible, and avoid punishment at all cost, and that’s really how I grew up. I had a fixed mindset, so I believed that my talent and intelligence were fixed traits, and life was really about just maximizing that within ways to make the most out of what I was given.
I found myself constantly putting myself into situations where I was the smartest person in the room, where I knew that I would excel. To do that, really, I was becoming a bigger and bigger fish in a smaller and smaller pond. It’s actually a good strategy, if you haven’t fixed mindset and you want to feel good about yourself, it’s really a winning strategy from an emotional perspective. If you have the goals and you’re trying to do something with your life, it is absolutely horrific.
I found myself at one point actually referring to myself as the king of remedial jobs, and I said it with pride. I would only go for jobs where I knew I’d be smarter than the person interviewing me, I’d be the smartest person they got hired. It was a great way to feel good and really a terrible way to get anywhere in life. I end up having this moment of crisis, where I realize that I’m not acting in accordance with the goals that I set for myself, because ever since I was a kid I said there would be two things that would be true about me.
I would have six-pack abs and I would be rich. Now, growing up as a slightly chubby kid in a morbidly obese family that sort of teetered between blue collar, white collar I didn’t exactly know how I was going to pull off either of those things, but those were really important to me. When I realized that, wait a second, all my behavior, being the king of remedial jobs, always trying to be the smartest person in the room, none of this is moving me towards the goal of actually getting rich.
What do I really want? Do I want to feel good about myself, or do I actually want to generate wealth? In that moment I realized, okay, I need to feel good about myself, and so I’m going to have to change what I build my self-esteem around, because right now building my self-esteem around being smart, being right is very fragile, because there’s going to be a lot of times where I encounter people who are smarter than me, and there’s going to be a lot of times where I’m wrong. If that’s somehow damaging to my self-esteem, then I’m going to keep making these really bizarre choices.
That was when I realized, “Okay, wait if I switch my self-esteem to being a learner and identifying the right answer faster than anyone else, I can feel good about myself and always do something that’s moving me towards my goals.” That was a huge epiphany for me, and ultimately when I actually put it into action it changed everything about my life. That was when I was really able to excel as an entrepreneur, which is a whole another story about how I became an entrepreneur and what drew me to that. Or we can get into it if you want.
Josh Felber: Yeah, well, in a little bit we’ll dive more in that. Okay, so I guess, since you started out with the whole jobs thing, what was, I guess, the first job or the job that created that transformational pivot for you?
Tom Bilyeu: I was teaching filmmaking, wanted to be a filmmaker, and the two guys that ended up being my a co-founders at Quest said, “Look, you’re coming to the world with your hand out. You’re never going to be able to control your art,” and I’d had some pretty horrifying experiences as a filmmaker where other people get to make the final decision, and that really is heartbreaking.
It’s one thing if they make a decision and it ends up at least being financially viable, it’s another when it was a total financial failure and artistically just horrific. They were like, the only way to really solve that problem is to control the access to the resources, to do that you have to learn to be an entrepreneur.
That actually made a lot of sense to me. I hadn’t yet gotten out of a fixed mindset, but they hired me as a copywriter at a technology company that they were starting. They said, “But don’t think of yourself as a copywriter. Really see that we want partners, we settle for employees but if you okay act like a partner, you look at the problems that we face as the company, you help us overcome those problems, you can literally have any job in the company you want, you just have to become the right person for the role.”
That meant I was going to have to learn a lot. By this time I’d already developed a real love of learning and trying to learn from other people. I was a voracious reader, I took them very seriously, and I started really trying to acquire the skills. It was in that environment that I had that epiphany of, wait a second, in trying to feel good about myself, I’m doing things that are super counterproductive to the business.
What do I really want? That’s when I asked that question. Then once I flipped over and realized, “Okay, I need to be the learner, rather than the guy that knows everything, rather than the guy …” because they were much smarter than me. Rather than trying to outsmart them, I needed to find another strategy, I needed to play a longer game, and by clicking over into becoming a learner, then I really did begin to progress very rapidly.
I was just willing to do an inhuman amount of work, and not take days off work. This was when I started this idea of, if I’m awake, I’m either working or the laundry. That became like this whole thing that ended up having created problems in my marriage, but we learned to deal with that for now, but that was where that epiphany came.
Josh Felber: Yeah, no, that’s awesome. One of the things you mentioned was that transformation from that fixed mindset to that growth mindset, really starting to learn. I think that’s key as entrepreneurs are just a best trying to move further ahead in life. I know I had been read through Carol Dweck’s book, and trying to work to teach my kids.
I’ve always tried to encourage them to ask questions to try to figure out solutions and everything, and so I think that’s key to a big part of success, for sure.
Tom Bilyeu: No question. For me, that really is the most important thing anybody can do is understand the truth of the nature of a growth mindset. I love the Charles Darwin’s quote, so everybody misquotes Darwin, and they attribute the notion of the survival of the fittest to him, but he actually didn’t say, that was somebody who said long after he died. What he said was, “It’s not the strongest of the species that survives nor the most intelligent, but rather the most adaptive to change.”
It’s like, hey, wait a second, if that’s true, and we become the apex predator in a game where adaptation is what allows you to progress, then we must be the greatest species at adaptation ever, which I think is absolutely true. Then I began to research, okay, what does that process look like from a neurological standpoint? How are we actually adapting?
Then you get into myelination, you get into notions of, is talent a myth, are you born with it, do you create it, and looking at the way the brain myelinates, looking at the way that you’re literally building connections by wrapping fatty tissue around it between two neurons that allows the electrical impulse to travel faster, but you do it through repetition.
You decide you’re going to get good at something, you practice it in a disciplined fashion, you’re doing those things together, your brain is myelinating, you’re wiring for it, you’re getting better through that. That’s literally how you’re adapting. It’s like, okay, well if the brain does that, it doesn’t necessarily matter where I started, only matters where I want to go and the price I’m willing to pay to get there. Because the process is A) it takes time, and B) it takes a lot of effort.
You have to put massive stressors on any organism, certainly, the human animalism, this is true, you have to put a massive stressor on it to get it to adapt. As somebody that has a background in CrossFit, you get that. You don’t show up to the gym and sort of like waffle about, you have to go in and try to kill it.
In that, you force your body to adapt. I had the same notion that you’ll hear people in bodybuilding talk about, adapt or die. They’re going to the gym, telling themselves, “You’re going to fucking do this weight, you’re going to kill it, you’re going to crush it, you’re going to go after it,” and they have to do that. They put all this intensity in adapt or die, like adapt or die, and you give your body that impulse. The same is true of the brain.
I began giving myself, like, just saying that all the time, all the time, adapt or die, adapt or die. Learn this, the stakes are high, but learn this technique to get really good at it. Think if it was marketing, I was like, “I’m going to learn this, and I’m going to push myself and put a stressor, make demands, hold myself accountable to results, all that,” and in doing that you really begin to adapt.
That was when it’s like, okay, I wasn’t the most naturally gifted, I have no natural inclinations towards entrepreneurship, but all of this can be learned.
Josh Felber: No, and I totally agree with that. When I was 14 I started reading Tony Robbins, Awaken the Giant Unlimited Power, and just started like applying that. I was probably 32 and I was working with one of the top Tony Robbins business coaches and stuff and Michael Savage. We were talking and I was getting frustrated, because I was like, “Man, why are people not this way?” He goes, “Look, man,” he goes, “98% don’t think the way you do. You’ve learned this since you were 14 years old.”
Using that training and creating those neural paths and adapting and making that part of my life, it was just ingrained. I think I took it for granted, this fact that it was just part of me at that point in time. I think that’s such a large truth in what we do every day. I’d like to kind of jump back from it, and you talked about film school. You’re working your jobs, and how did you get down that path towards film school?
Tom Bilyeu: Of film?
Josh Felber: Or just into, yeah, film?
Tom Bilyeu: From the time that, even maybe a little bit earlier than you started reading Tony Robbins, I was obsessed with movies. I didn’t necessarily understand why, I understand it now, and I can put words around it. At the time it was just, you want to talk about something that made me feel alive. A lot of stories have been told about Bill Gates, and how he’s a product of his timing. Bill Gates becomes Bill Gates because there was a computer lab at the University near his high school, and I think even his high school had like a computer, and they were giving him access to it at a time we’re not a lot of other people had access.
This is right as camcorders are coming out, and my dad’s job bought a camcorder, and it told the executives like, “Hey, if you want to take it home.” My dad had occasional access to this thing, he would bring it home and I would start playing with it. My dad made an offhand comment at one point and he said, “I actually think you’re really good behind the camera. You know where to put it to [crosstalk 00:12:58] or whatever.” I thought, “Oh, wow, am I good at this?” That reinforced me, because I really just wanted to be in front of it, I wanted to give it to my friends, and at the time I wanted …
I can’t remember at the time if I already had identified I wanted to be a stand-up comic, but at some point not too long after that I realized that my career path is to be a stand-up comic. I worked pretty hard on that, probably from the time I was about 14 or 15 doing stand-up comedy, churches, schools, anywhere that I could. But my dad was the one that was like, “You’re actually pretty good behind the camera.”
Through my whole high school career, I’m the funny guy, I’m trying to make people laugh, it becomes a real part of my identity, I’m doing Speech and Debate, I’m winning awards for what was called humorous interpretation. You could take a funny play and you would do scenes from it by yourself, so you do all the character. I loved it, it was so much fun.
By the time I graduated high school though, I’m kind of tired of … because I was all about self-deprecating humor. It subtly does tear you down to make fun of yourself. Even though you’re getting a big laugh, even though that feels really good, and you have a sense of who you are an identity and all that, it erodes some piece of you. You’re not taking yourself seriously. I wanted to take myself seriously. I had just an inclination that in changing cities and going to college, that I had this opportunity to really reinvent myself.
Now, I was already planning to go to film school, and my plan was to get behind the camera I would become a famous stand-up comic, I would get my own sitcom, and then like I’d be able to direct and write and what.
Josh Felber: Do all Seinfeld style, yeah.
Tom Bilyeu: Yeah, it’s so easy, so easy. I wanted to take myself seriously, I wanted to take school seriously, which I had not done in high school at all. When I went to college I said, “Look, A or F, sink or swim, I’m not going to cheat,” because I cheated in high school a lot. “I was just going to be head down, I was going to do the work.” Nothing else made sense, because it was like film is what I really want to be great at.
The long story short is it made me feel alive, like follow your bliss, Joseph Campbell’s notion of find that thing that just excites you, it’s a compelling future, you want to wake up, you want to do it. Film was the one thing that was like, emotionally I loved it and there was a path to wealth. I used to explain to people, I also loved writing poetry, but I’m never going to be a poet because there’s no path to wealth.
Especially in the 80’s when I really began to form my sense of identity, getting into film that’s how you get rich. Be a doctor, get into movies. I certainly didn’t understand banking, I didn’t understand finance, so the whole read as good thing was only starting to reach the public consciousness. It was like, to me, looking at what was my natural inclinations, what did I want to get great at, and what could lead to wealth film was just the obvious answer.
Josh Felber: Cool. Obviously, you’re not directly in film now.
Tom Bilyeu: It’s interesting, people say that a lot, as we sit on the set [crosstalk 00:15:59].
Josh Felber: It’s like, maybe not directly but …
Tom Bilyeu: Yeah, I challenge that notion. It isn’t traditional.
Josh Felber: Right, correct.
Tom Bilyeu: I’ll give you that, it hasn’t been the traditional path to filmmaking, which I have dabbled in, I’ve had a screenplay that was produced and it was one of the most horrifying experiences of my life. Now, really the goal of Impact Theory is to make a traditional studio that’s bigger than Disney, but done today the way that the studio should be founded today, which is very different than the way that it was done in the past, in my opinion.
People have said that like, “Wait a second, I don’t understand, you’ve gone so far afield from your initial thing.” Earlier when I was saying, I didn’t really understand what it was about film that I loved, but now I do. What always made it resonate with me are great works of art tell you something about yourself. They tell you something about the human condition, they take you on an emotional rollercoaster ride.
Josh Felber: Your journey, yeah.
Tom Bilyeu: I always loved that. Also, films are, in my opinion, instruction manuals on how to live. The Matrix changed my life. The Matrix is why I was able to become an entrepreneur like in no uncertain terms. It’s why talk about it so much, it’s why I want to build a studio, because when I ask the question, no bullshit, what would it take to end what I call generational poverty, which to me has nothing to do with money and everything to do with mindset.
When I think about the changes that I’ve made in my life, what allowed me to generate real wealth in my life was changing my mindset. I’ve worked in the inner cities a lot and what I’ve seen time and time again is a failure of mindset not of intelligence. Take any swath of human beings and you’re going to have highly intelligent and you’re going to have the whole spectrum, people that are ultra, ultra bright, and people that are not, and everything in between.
The inner cities is no exception. Yet, however, the number of people that go on to be highly productive, highly successful from the inner cities is ridiculously low, compared to middle class or upwards. It’s like, okay, so what’s going on here? To me the notion of generational poverty is people passing on an impoverished mindset from generation to generation. Your parents tell you that only so much as possible, and it’s not a lot, and the world doesn’t want to see you be successful and all that, because that’s what their parents told them, that’s what their parents told them, and because they believed it, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I really, really believe that the number one problem, it’s not the only problem, but the number one problem you have to address is the problem of mindset. When I think about how do you address that, I really believe the most potent way that we assimilate truly disruptive information, which is ultimately what a radical change in mindset would be is through narrative. There’s five forms of dominant narrative right now, books, comic books, TV shows, movies, and video games.
It just became clear to me that if I’m actually going to have the impact on the world that I want to have, I have to be playing in those five arenas. We set out literally with that in mind to build a studio. We actually started building it at Quest, because I just knew the way to build a business in the modern era to market effectively, to build the community, to really add value to people’s lives is through media.
We were one of the first brands to bring it all in-house, to build a studio-
Josh Felber: That’s cool. Sure.
Tom Bilyeu: … literally inside of a protein bar community, people are, “Why are you doing this?” Then the success of the company is sort of the answer to that question. That is where you have to … I mean, you know this, [crosstalk 00:19:21].
Josh Felber: Right, yeah, right.
Tom Bilyeu: It’s like, to really reach people in a world where distribution has been democratized that you can put it out on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and nobody gets to tell you yes or no, you can build that following by adding value to their lives, you can really do something.
I think if Disney were founded today, and we have a different ethos than Disney, so I’m not saying we’re going to make that kind of content, but there’s just a whole lot of things that Disney understood that I don’t think any other studios ever replicated, that I believe we’ll have the discipline to replicate to have the kind of impact that we want to have.
To me, what I’m doing now is the world’s most natural outcropping from somebody who understands what narrative and media really are, and the real true power, which isn’t to sell tickets, it’s to change people.
Josh Felber: No, and that’s … I guess, based on that and working with that inner cities and trying to get that mindset change, how are you guys then getting those films or I guess getting that disruption and getting that pen interrupt in front of them?
Tom Bilyeu: I mean, that is the question, that’s what we’re going to have to answer. Right now I believe that we’ve got distribution models that will leverage behavior instead of change it, and that’s why we’re doing books, comic books, TV shows, movies, video games, because, like the populist, the masses, that’s where they’re at.
Josh Felber: That’s where they at, yeah.
Tom Bilyeu: Incepting them there, hitting them with something that’s entertaining first it’s got to be entertainment. To give you an idea of the kinds of movies that we want to make, The Matrix is like the biggest wolverine, Star Wars, things that have real ideology driving them. The reason that Star Wars has been the most dominant force in film ever is because literally George Lucas went to a guy named Joseph Campbell who had a massive impact on my life, literally is the reason that my marriage is as good as it is.
Gave me some transformational information, a book called The Power of the Myth, which made me take the whole ceremony of a wedding very, very seriously and doing a whole ritualistic scarification as a part of my wedding. I mean, just like a really, really transformative guy. Lucas went to him and said, “How do we put real ideology, the real power of mythology at the core of this story that I want to tell?” Which would otherwise just sort of be a cheesy kids’ space opera.
He worked with him to taking the notion of the hero with a thousand faces, those universal truths about a hero’s journey that we all go through in life, that from culture to culture to culture we just retell that story over and over, because it really is what it means to go from being a child to being an adult and taking responsibility for your own life and coming back and educating the rest of the people once you’ve learned the lesson.
I mean, it’s all these fundamental, universal things that they put into Star Wars. Entertainment first, but there needs to be this bedrock of something real. I just don’t think anybody’s taken it to sort of its natural conclusion, because you’re not going to go fight a space battle, yet, maybe someday [crosstalk 00:22:23].
Josh Felber: Down the road, yeah.
Tom Bilyeu: But not yet, so how do we make this relevant? I think the big piece that’s been missing is social commentary. That’s why we’re building a socially savvy engine first to build a community where all we do is talk ideology, all we do is interpret mythology and talk about that stuff. So that we’ll build that base, and I think the critical mass number is about three million.
We get a critical mass of three million people to understand what we’re trying to put into our pieces of entertainment, and then we can say, “And this is what you should be extrapolating and how it applies to the real world.” I can use my own background as … I mean, I was just sort of head down in the weeds building businesses for, you know what I mean, at this point now it’s going on almost two decades.
It’s showing, like, this has real-world application. Here I am, I’m a kid, I see The Matrix in whatever, ’99 when it came out. It plants a seed, and this is how that seed then echoes to the rest of my life and how it helps me really formulate a worldview that allows me to grow and develop into the person I need to be to execute in business, and here’s how you can apply and learnings from this movie and this movie and this comic book and video game and all that stuff.
Josh Felber: Then, your Impact Theory, that’s all under that umbrella?
Tom Bilyeu: Correct.
Josh Felber: What are the first pieces then that you’re launching with that? I guess, video content first or … Because you said-
Tom Bilyeu: Building community is number one. Well, I believe the only real way to build the community is to add value to people’s lives, so we’re trying to do value add content, the community is growing insanely rapidly. Basically, for whatever reason the way that I’m wired, I learned everything the hard way. [inaudible 00:24:09] do it, I really do.
I was very fortunate that none of this existed while I was coming up. There was no outlet for me to talk until I had to just do. I’ve been in business pretty hardcore for about 15, 16 years now. Just building companies I’ve learned a lot of lessons, transforming mindset, I’ve learned a lot of lessons. Literally setting up a camera and then just making absolutely no effort to be cool and saying, “Here’s what I did, here are all the times I fell on my face and stumbled, this is what I learned, and so I applied it.”
Then just, I’m willing to do a lot of work and that’s really my superpower just to throw a lot, a lot, a lot of hours at it. Engaging with the community, helping them do the things that they want to do, bringing on amazing people so that we can both learn in real time. The interview show is sort of our core show, where other people, because it started … it was originally called Inside Quest.
The reason it was called that, I wanted to show the employees Inside Quest. I’d written these 25 bullet points which were the 25 things I had to change about my mindset in order to become successful. I wanted them all to empower themselves, whether they wanted to stay at Quest or go somewhere else, it was literally irrelevant to me. I’d rather have somebody fully engaged for 18 months, two years, than 40 years but be punching a clock and not care.
It was my attempt to say, if you do this, these 25 things, you can go do anything you want-
Josh Felber: That’s awesome. Sure.
Tom Bilyeu: … you can make your dreams come true, but my big fear was that people would memorize the bullet points and not actually live them. People would come up to me, and it was my biggest fear, they come up to me and be like, “Bullet point number 14 as X, Y, Z.” I’m like, “You realize I don’t have the bullet points memorized?” Literally, do you understand, I have no idea what bullet point 22 is, no idea, but I’m living them every day, because they are the core of my existence.
I wanted to bring on a bunch of successful people that I knew, I’m going to ask them a divergent array of questions. They’re going to be from a divergent array of backgrounds, but you’re going to see the same answers over and over and over and over. You’re going to realize, it all comes back to these 25 bullet points. I’m going to be able to learn from these people in real time, hopefully they’ll be able to learn in real time.
That was right as I started … Unfortunately, I was stumbling into this stuff without any real anchor of, like, what is this? Then probably about, I don’t know, six months into it, I find Gary Vee. He starts putting words to it. I, at that moment realize, okay, for a long time I felt like I understood social marketing better than anybody, but he understood where I was going from a personal branding perspective.
Watching what he was doing I was like, all right, this guy is for real. If you take his advice, and one of the things that he always says, don’t just listen to what I say, watch what I do. I took that deadly seriously. I started watching what he’s doing, realized that he’s just really onto something with this personal branding thing.
When I decided to step away from Quest, move into a founder role and start this full-time, that was going to be the lead domino. I was going to go out because the ethos of the brand impact, there is literally my ethos, it’s what I’ve learned, it’s all the things that are meaningful to me. To create not just one show around that, but a whole host of content around that notion of basically walking people through what I’ve done to get to where I’m at.
Josh Felber: Cool, and that’s awesome. Gary Vee, I know, I was talking about him with Mason earlier and we were just … I brought him out to Cleveland, we did help him do his book launch and just, actually at the beginning of this year basically just started replicating what he’s doing from a video standpoint with my wife’s company and everything and behind the scenes with the employees and what it takes to build a culture and multi-million dollar company and stuff.
Just the content that’s getting put out, I mean, you see the comments and people are like, “Oh my gosh, thank you for sharing that, that’s helped blah, blah, blah.” It’s really cool to … Like you said, you take it and you do it, instead of just watch it.
Tom Bilyeu: No question.
Josh Felber: You mentioned you have the 25 bullet points. Would you love to share some of those with us then?
Tom Bilyeu: Yeah, so the concept is really about self-belief and the anchor point of all this is humans lead with belief so you can only do what you believe you’re capable of. Bullet point number one, I think, is that human potential is nearly limitless, and that sort of is the anchor belief in my life, and I only throw nearly in there, because I don’t want to get into the argument of like, “Well, what about this?” And say, sure, right now there are things that seem impossible, but there have been a million things that have seemed impossible until somebody pulls it off, and then all the sudden it’s like, “Okay, well, maybe that really is possible.”
At the core of my existence is the concept that you can do anything you set your mind to without a limitation. Some things to do, you may have to solve the problem of eternal life, like I get it, but I actually think that is a problem that can be solved and will be solved, quite frankly, and I think that we can probably morph our biological bodies to get to the point, because, look … DNA is info, right? It’s zeros at the end of the day.
We know that that can be replicated perfectly forever without any mess-ups. Now, we’re living in a world where our biological bodies suffer from mutations and damage. Someone’s going to solve that problem, I just promise.
Josh Felber: There’s a lot of groups working on it, so.
Tom Bilyeu: At the some point we’re going to be able to perfectly replicate our DNA, we’re going to be able to solve whatever that problem is. Reading Michio Kaku’s book, The Future of Physics, or Future Physics, or … I forget the exact title. Anyway, he talks about how civilizations, there’s levels. I think it’s a level five civilization can harness the power of the star.
Once you can harness the power of a star, that you can warp time, space and now wormholes and all that. That’s almost where we at [crosstalk 00:30:17]. If you’re willing to allow yourself to believe, whoa-
Josh Felber: We can do it.
Tom Bilyeu: … we can get to that point where we can harness the energy of the star, we can warp space-time, now just work backwards. Can we do the following? Suddenly that seems pretty easy.
Josh Felber: Super simple, yeah.
Tom Bilyeu: I’m going to build a studio. That’s not that crazy once you believe that ultimately a civilization will be able to harness the power of the star. Okay, that’s the core of my belief system, you can do anything you set your mind to. Now, there may have to be some crazy things you have to solve, like how do we upgrade our mental capabilities? Because I’m not saying that right now today that the human mind is capable of that, I’m just saying the human mind is capable of the steps that would be required in order to get us there.
I look at AI, let’s say, I don’t panic, because I know we’re actually going to merge with AI, we’re going to be upgrading, there will be camps to be certain. In fact, agent Smith who’s our head of marketing here is incredibly human thing, but I’m convinced again then, [crosstalk 00:31:10], like, “I’m not changing myself.” There’s going to be people that do that and we’ll bifurcate, literally, as a species.
It is what it is, but that to me is utterly fascinating. What are we going to have to do in order to get there? But once you start with that as your core belief system, then you dream big. I think dreaming big is really critical. However big people think they’re thinking, you’re just not thinking big enough, I promise, because you’re going to be limited by your belief system.
The other one is do and believe that which moves you towards your goals. That was a huge breakthrough for me. I think a lot of people, like I used to be, they’re self-deprecating. Now, maybe that’s intentional, maybe it’s not. Can I share a meme with you that I read?
Josh Felber: Sure.
Tom Bilyeu: That I laughed and I was like, guys, you can’t even say this stuff. It was on Reddit, and the meme was something like, a woman goes to the grocery store and gets … God, this is like, how sensitive is your audience? This is really … Anyway, she has a device, we’ll say, that she can have a relationship with, and the guy goes, “But can it last a full 30 seconds and then cry?” I thought, God, it’s funny, but that comes from such a place of thinking so little of yourself. They’re not making the demands that you become the person that you want to be. I think a lot of people get caught up in … They let themselves and I’ll give you a real example.
There was a guy in our community who calls himself Fathead, and he writes in during a live Q&A and he says, “Hey, Tom, this is Fathead, how do you deal with insecurities?” I said, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, timeout. Every time you refer to yourself as Fathead, like you’re a little piece of you. You’re just chipping away at your self-esteem, the vision of who you are, who you can become, just a little. You’re reinforcing this notion that there’s something wrong with you, and you’re trying to own it by being funny about it.”
I get it, he’s trying to make fun of it, he’s trying to own it, but in doing that it’s disempowering. I was like, “Dude, change your name to anything. Change your name to Powerhead.” Cool. Now you’re just subtly reinforcing this notion that you could do anything. Why do I have Superman, why do I have Batman? Because I want to suddenly be reminded of what we’re capable of at our most extreme. Those are all the pieces of the belief system. You have to believe it before you can do it, you have to believe that anything is possible, you have to do and believe that which moves you towards your goals.
Because the second you, you’re believing, “Oh, I’m Fathead, I’m a little bit worse, oh, the most potent I could ever be as a man is last 30 seconds and then cry,” it’s like, God, you’re reinforcing something that well funny, it’s not empowering. I could keep going, there’s 25, those are three, but they all sort of come [crosstalk 00:34:04] …
Josh Felber: Strong three, right off.
Tom Bilyeu: How do you build the foundation that you can build something amazing on top of.
Josh Felber: Awesome. Along your journey what were maybe three of your most transformational parts of your life that really, whether it was relationships, whether it was business that helped you move to the next level?
Tom Bilyeu: Well, my wife changed everything for me, there’s no question about that. My wife has made me a better version of myself than I would be without her, and we have a shared agreement that has been utterly transformational in my life. It goes like this, when life rocks me, knocks me to my knees, makes me feel badly about myself, makes me question who I am, don’t get on your knees with me, put an arm around me and tell me everything is going to be fine.
Don’t have sympathy for me. What I want is empathy. Stay standing, extend a hand, pick me back up, brush me off and remind me of who I’m trying to become. That’s what I’m looking for, and so there have been times in my life where I felt weak and I’m like, “God, am I really going to be able to pull this off?” She’s been there to remind me of who I’m trying to become, to remind me of my identity. Identity is a very fluid thing, it’s a tenuous thing that has to be reinforced all the time, all the time, all the time. To have a partner, a true partner in my life that constantly reinforces that is huge.
The other one is realizing that I can build my self-esteem around something that was antifragile. I didn’t have the words at a time, but Nassim Taleb wrote a book called Antifragile, and he talks about how something that’s resilient, something that’s tough, strong, they’re still defined by their breaking point. It’s just that their breaking point is very far away. Something that’s antifragile actually gets stronger the more you attack it.
Being a learner is antifragile, because if you tell me that I’m stupid, I’m going to actually listen, God, maybe they’re right, maybe I don’t know something about that. Once I realize I don’t know, once I realize I have a blind spot, now I can address it because I’m a learner and go and learn about something now, because I don’t have an ego around the fact that I didn’t know. I didn’t try to push you away, I didn’t try to shut you down or ignore what you’re saying. I really stop, nakedly no defenses and go, “Where’s the truth in that statement?” Then it’s like, “Wow, now I’m not blind to this anymore. I’m very grateful for that and I’ll dive in,” so that has been incredible.
Then just really realizing that humans are adaptation machines, and that just because I’m not good at something today doesn’t mean I can’t become good at it tomorrow. Once you look at, you talked about Tony Robbins earlier, once you look at yourself on a long enough timeline, it really is interesting, and Tony said very famously, people overestimate what they can do in a year, but they underestimate what they can do in 10.
I just started thinking about the 10. What can I do in 10 years? How much can I transform myself in 10 years? Not letting people like externally mess with my identity or my self-esteem, being antifragile, learning, learning, learning, always being willing to lower my defenses. One of the things that I remember really sort of … I have to conceptualize things, I have to clarify them in my mind.
I remember thinking when people insult you, when they say something mean, especially when it’s true, it’s like they threw a rock at you, and they hit you and it sucks. Your natural inclination is to build the fences, to not be open to that criticism. Then I realized, “Well, what if I imagine them instead of being a rock it’s a nugget of gold?” It still hurts, when somebody throws a nugget of gold at you and it hits you in the head, it may cut you, may bleed, you may need stitches.
When you bend down and pick it up, if you’re willing to be defenseless, a nugget of gold is sitting at your feet. You start accumulating those nuggets of gold and now you’ve really got wisdom, you’ve got real wealth. I just decided, yeah, I’m not going to be defensive anymore, I’m going to lower all that, I’m going to be vulnerable, I’m going to let people throw that stuff at me. I’m just not going to let it damage who I am. I’m going to take pride in being defenseless, and that will be the thing that I build my self-esteem around is being willing to stare nakedly at my inadequacies.
Josh Felber: No, I think that’s awesome. I mean, a lot of people and even entrepreneurs, they tend to have that ego or that, “Hey, this is what I built, this is where I’m at, or have that defense mechanism.” I guess, what were maybe some of the keys for you to be able to switch that?
Tom Bilyeu: I’m totally goal-oriented. I’ll do and believe anything that moves me towards my goals. I have no interest in the truth. The truth that doesn’t serve me. Let’s say, if you said, “Tom, you’re an idiot.” Let’s say that’s true. How does that help? It’s not useful. I think people pride identifying what’s true, but here’s the bad news about the human mind. Negative things will always feel more true than positive things.
Now, which of those is objectively true? That’s why The Matrix was transformational for me. I realized that it doesn’t matter whether we’re actually living in a simulation. The brain is encased in total darkness, light never touches it. If you’re lucky, it’s encased in total silence, it never hears anything. The sound waves hit the eardrum are transferred into electrochemical impulses and then interpreted by your brain. Same with vision.
Photons hit your eye, they are translated into chemical signals, electrochemical signals that your brain interprets. That word, interpret, just rattled around in my brain. I was like, “Wait a second,” so this isn’t real? This is my brain’s interpretation. Now, my brain may have the best of intentions, but it’s trying to protect me from being eaten by a tiger and being ostracized from the group, when being ostracized meant that I was going to die.
It’s no longer true, so the entire world could ostracize me, as long as I can walk into a grocery store, order on Amazon, I’m not going to die. I may not have my idealized life, but I’m not going to die. This is another one of those things, like, wait a second, something is not right here. People are more afraid of public speaking at a funeral than being dead at a funeral.
That’s crazy, doesn’t make any sense, there’s no logic to that whatsoever, until you realize that your brain with the best of intentions is trying to protect you from something that no longer matters. Once I realized, okay, this is all my brain’s interpretation, it’s doing its best, but it’s telling me lies. I can’t really tell what’s objectively true anyway, so why am I overvaluing the truth when the truth is essentially predicated on what is most negative.
I’m more likely to believe negative things, so I was just like, “Hey, this doesn’t make sense,” so I’m just going to start believing things that actually move me forward. Is it true that humans can do anything they set their mind to without limitation? Maybe not, maybe that’s a lie, but it’s an empowering lie. I’m going to believe that empowering lie.
Am I an incredible human being? Maybe not, maybe I’m totally stupid, maybe I learn way slower than everybody, maybe the fact that I have to learn everything the hard way makes me a worse person, maybe, but that doesn’t help me to believe that. It does help me to have confidence. Confidence is intoxicating. People respond to confidence.
Josh Felber: For sure, yeah.
Tom Bilyeu: You walk on stage and you’re anxious, the audience is going to be anxious. If you walk on stage and you’re confident, the audience will feel confidence. Mirror neurons are incredibly powerful, and we learn by mimicking. You watch people watching movie they’re doing this, they’re trying to literally match-
Josh Felber: You feel, yeah.
Tom Bilyeu: … they’re trying to match with your face, and that’s how you feel the emotion, matching and mirroring, the way that we’ll match each other’s posture, and if I fold my arms you fold your arms, if you smile I’ll smile, if you’re not I’m not. That’s what humans do, that’s how we connect, that’s how we create theory of mind. Literally, feel with each other a feeling. This is fascinating, a guy named V.S. Ramachandran did studies and realized, if I pinch myself, you look at it and you go, I get that. I kind of feel it. But if I pinch myself really hard, you’ll go, whoa, you’ll get a little uneasy, but you won’t actually feel the pain.
The only reason, the only reason you don’t feel the pain is you get a null signal from your skin. If you were missing a hand, and I pinch myself because you don’t get the null signal, you’ll actually feel the pain. It is so crazy. Humans are meant to get in sync like that. Understanding all of that, understanding the potency of confidence, it only makes sense to do things that make me actually feel confident.
Anyway, that’s a long way of saying, I don’t overvalue the truth, I overvalue what actually moves me towards my goals.
Josh Felber: Sure. I mean, I guess, a very different way then you hear a lot of people talk about it. You see a lot of people moving … they say, “Okay, I’m moving towards my goals,” but then they still have that negativity that they’re reflecting on, they still have that those hurdles that is limiting their movement and everything. One of the things you mentioned too was meeting with your wife, and we had a few minutes to talk before, and she said you guys are going on 15 years.
We were going to have a chance, that’s how it all came up and everything. Obviously, you said you had some challenges that you guys have worked through along the way and everything, but I’d like to hear kind of what has worked for you, because obviously you’re five years ahead of me and married, so you got a little bit more experience. What’s worked well for you, and I guess maybe some of your success strategies or talking points there?
Tom Bilyeu: Yeah, an absurd amount of communication, defining terms is critical. My wife and I literally define the word important. What does it mean to say something is important? If she says, “Hey, it’s important to me that you come to this event or whatever,” I’ll drop anything I’m doing. If I had some massive event and she said, “No, no, no, it’s really important that you come to this,” I’d say, “I have this event, is it more important than that?” Yes it is. Cool. Then that’s got to be canceled, and I’m coming to this.
That’s absolutely critical. To me, the whole idea behind the marriage and actually, first before I say that, the other word, one of the other words that we’ve defined is promise. If I say I promise I will do that, that means no matter what, I will not fail you on that. The word promise is sacred, the word important is sacred, you can never abuse them.
Then to me, the whole point of being in a relationship, literally there’s nothing else, relationships are huge sacrifices. What makes those sacrifices worth it? The answer is you’ve got to feel like you’re somebody’s number one. The keyword there is feel. You have to make the person feel. You can’t tell them, “Hey, you’re my number one,” but then you act like they’re not.
You’re my number one, I’m going to make you feel that. For instance, my wife and I have a rule. Then you call me once and I ignore you, no big deal, probably didn’t hear it, didn’t realize, so call me twice. If I ignore the second one, assume I saw it, and I’m in the middle of something and I want to talk. If you really need me, call me a third time.
Now, if I’m in the middle of a meeting with the president, and you call me three times, I’m like, “Peace, I got to go, and I’m taking that call,” because that’s when somebody knows I’m your number one. Now this has happened exactly one time. I was sitting in a business meeting and my wife calls once, I ignore it, she calls twice, I ignore it, and the phone rings a third time. I was like, “Oh my God.” I said, “Guys, this isn’t going to make any sense, I can’t explain, but I have to leave right now.”
I answered the call and she was in hysterics, and she was like, “You have to come home right now.” Boom, get in the car, go, it ends up being a hilarious story that I won’t waste your time with, that involves my dog and a mouse and it was like total madness. My wife who is one of the toughest human beings I’ve ever met, she needed me in that moment, and boom, I went and dealt with it.
I thought, she’s never abused it, it’s not like three times a week, here we go, it’s the third phone call. It’s happened once in 15 years but I dropped everything at that moment, didn’t matter what I was doing and I went and I dealt with it. Things like that, like making sure that person knows.
Some other ones and we could probably keep going all day on these, but setting up the other person up for success. I told my wife in the beginning, “Look, please don’t ever test me like, me remembering your birthday does not mean I love or don’t love you so don’t set me up. Remind me. Tell me what you want, by the way. Like if there’s something you want for your birthday, tell me what that thing is, don’t leave me to guess, don’t like thinking you’ve hinted and I should be paying attention to the hints. That is setting me up for failure in the worst possible way.” There’s just been, oh we have so many … We’re actually writing the equivalent of the 25 bullet points for relationships.
Josh Felber: That’s awesome.
Tom Bilyeu: It’s like 50 bullets, and we need to [crosstalk 00:46:43] back.
Josh Felber: You got upgraded.
Tom Bilyeu: Yeah, exactly. All these tools and tactics that we’ve used to really make sure the other person feels like the number one, but the lines of communication are open, that you’re growing together, because you’re not going to be the same people that you were when you met. The biggest insult my wife could give me would be to say, “You’re the same person I married.” That would be crushing for me. I was so emotionally weak, I was so … like from a skill set, just not capable of what I’m capable today. I would be crestfallen if she said that.
Whereas most people feel the opposite, to say that you’ve changed, you’re not the same person I married, that would be crushing. That’s people who aren’t making sure that they’re growing, but growing together is not going to happen by accident.
Josh Felber: For sure, yeah.
Tom Bilyeu: My wife, so when we got married, I wanted a classic nurturing wife. I wanted a stay-at-home, what I thought at the time a stay-at-home mom, who was going to raise the kids and all that, and then as we grew, it was like, that didn’t make sense anymore. We didn’t want kids, she didn’t want to be a stay-at-home anything, she wanted to grow and develop, and when she got into business that woman exploded.
She is freakishly good at things that I should be good at, by the way. As a man my wife is so good at like systems, logistics. It’s crazy. Systems, directions, every classical male thing, my wife is good at. Then like the more classically feminine things, being the emotional bedrock, God, like, communication, those are all my strong suits, which are more traditionally female.
You bring us together, giving her a chance to thrive, because I thought she would want me to be better at everything. I thought that’s what she would value in a man. It made me really insecure for her to not only begin to excel, but excel at traditionally male things.
That was something that we had to work through. I remember just thinking, who in their right mind would ever want to be worse at everything than their partner. That just doesn’t make sense, but that’s what I thought she would want. Getting myself out of that and really letting her shine, letting her be great, acknowledging what she’s better at than I am, those were huge for us.
Josh Felber: Cool. No, that’s awesome. My wife is the same way, I was in nursing four years, in anesthesia, and then when she started making the skincare products that we talked a little bit about when our daughter was born, I was like, “Oh, let’s just selling these online,” because that’s that entrepreneur in me. Then it did well and we rebranded, and then she’s done a phenomenal job, and it just skyrocketed and everything.
Tom Bilyeu: That’s really cool. The thing is, you can enjoy that, right?
Josh Felber: Well, yeah, part of it, for me was even a few years ago, almost two years now, kind of stepping out of all the other different things that I had because she was kind of in a hard spot and just was not sure … She’s never run a business and kind of getting rid of all the gyms that I had, my other businesses and things, and either selling them or shutting them down and stepping over to actually support her with where she’s at and help exponentially grow the company.
Tom Bilyeu: Really cool.
Josh Felber: It’s always fun when you connect with other people and you really see what they’re doing and then kind of that relationship that they have with their partner and everything. How’d you guys meet?
Tom Bilyeu: I was her teacher at a school for adults, I feel compelled to [crosstalk 00:50:12].
Josh Felber: Let me define, yeah.
Tom Bilyeu: It was perfect. She was legally obligated to leave the country and I thought this would be amazing, because at the time I met her, I did not plan to ever get married. I just thought, “Why do people make these sacrifices to be in a relationship?” Literally the [crosstalk 00:50:28] of it just didn’t make sense to me.
Not too long before I met her, I finally had game. I had no game prior to that, I really hadn’t. Like I said, I learn everything the hard way. I was a guy that would roll up to date one with flowers and poetry, like it was crazy. I wish it worked, but it doesn’t, I’ll say to everybody a little bit of time, it doesn’t work. I was like full blown into … Okay, well now I’m good at this. Let’s really take some time and have some fun with this and met her.
Legally obligated to leave the country, fantastic, and then like she just rocked me. I was like, “Whoa, this chick is interesting.” When she left, I had saved up some money and some vacation time. I was like, “Well, how about I come visit you? I had another trip planned.” I said, “Scrap that,” she was like, “Yeah, it’d be amazing.” Went and visited her in London, because she’s from the UK, and at the end of that trip I realized, “Oh, man, this is super inconvenient, I’m in love.”
Josh Felber: Super inconvenient.
Tom Bilyeu: That began this two-year long back-and-forth. She would live here, I would live there. We made that work and ended up getting married and the rest has been history.
Josh Felber: That’s awesome. I think we’ve got a few minutes left. With the way from, I know at least when you and I started businesses to what can now be created and started and growing, what advice or what direction would you give people that are moving into owning their own business right now?
Tom Bilyeu: I mean, the big thing, and I’m sure you’ve talked about this endlessly, really solve a problem, be hyper-specific, know exactly, exactly in what way of trying to add value, which most people do not, they stop at things like, “I want to help people.” “Awesome, but that’s not a business. Do you want to ladle soup at a soup kitchen?” Most people never stop to think about the notion of technique, which is to gain a skill, to get really good at something, and then serve people with that skill.
That makes you feel good, that gives you fulfillment. I mean, that’s like an ancient stoic thing that was actually introduced to me by Dr. Drew, I don’t know if you know him. Amazing guy, he really thinks about the notion of eudaimonic happiness and what fulfillment’s really about, really, really fascinating guy.
Josh Felber: That’s cool.
Tom Bilyeu: When people say that, especially now, because when I was a kid, it was all about I want to get rich, you’re going into that trap and all that. Now people like they’re coming from a really beautiful place, but they’re losing the sense of like building a business, there are real tactics, there are real things you have to understand, you have to execute, like profits are the point.
If you can’t do good for somebody and build a profitable business, you don’t have anything. I think that people don’t understand, like, “Oh, I want to do a non-profit.” “Awesome. Do you understand that you’re going to be beholden to people like me who are generating revenue.” At some point, you’re coming begging for money, and that’s a really lame position to be in especially if you want to help people because if you want to help people, you don’t want to be beholden to somebody else. You want to know that you’re able to do what’s right for people, and the only way to be able to do what’s right at all times to build to control the resources.
The only way to control the resources is to build a business that’s actually financially stable, it’s profitable. To become profitable, you have to know exactly how you want to help, get really good at doing that. Really playing the long game, building a business the right way, being hyper specific, which is really where I get frustrated with young entrepreneurs. They’re just vague and then skill acquisition. Become capable of the extraordinary, period.
If you’re trying to build something and people aren’t coming, either your product sucks, your marketing sucks like something sucks. Something in your chain is broken.
Josh Felber: It’s not working, yeah.
Tom Bilyeu: You’ve got to let the market tell you whether you’re doing the right thing or not.
Josh Felber: I know one of the things you mentioned was profits, and people trying to do good and everything. I interviewed one guy about eight months or so ago. Their focus was trying to do good and trying to kind of cut out that middleman and be able to sell at the leanest possible margins and stuff. That was interesting, because I referred somebody over to their site the other day, and they texted me back, like, “Hey the site’s not working.” I went and checked it and I’m like, “Hm, it’s not working, what happened?”
Totally, like, all their social media hasn’t had any posts in the last 90 days. It’s a thing about, I think, people see, “Oh, profits bad, can’t be able to have that, but you got to have them to be able to do good.”
Tom Bilyeu: Here’s the thing. People will pay for value, people will pay for value. I don’t know when it became … People started equating profits with evil. Some people have built toxic companies that have been totally parasitic, get it, but they’re going to die out in the social age where we are hyper connected and within minutes of an interaction with a company you can have a global audience to say, “These guys are jerks, here’s a post of their customer support, here’s a recording of me talking to their customer service.” The days of parasitic companies are rapidly coming to a close.
Josh Felber: Coming down, yeah.
Tom Bilyeu: The fact that you’re able to build a product that people will pay for, they would rather have the value that it brings to their life than the money, like to then say, oh, but they’re profiting and that’s somehow evil, but that’s literally crazy, and we’re now going to … It won’t matter. People can do whatever … They can think whatever they want. People are going to find ways to deliver enough value and be profitable and they’re going to do amazing things with the profits, and here’s what I think the answer to all of this is in what I call the kingmakers. Authenticity and transparency.
Be who you really are, be transparent. People will look at the company, they’ll see what you’re doing with the money, they’ll get very, very comfortable that you’re making the world a better place or that you’re not by the way, and you’re never going to survive. If people really believe that you’re sincerely trying to build this business to make the world a better place, they’ll get behind it. It is a fact of human nature.
As this new wave, this new style of company, where people can actually be rewarded for being authentic, transparent, for really trying to do something great, people will see, “Okay, profits aren’t evil. Profits are stability. Profits are how you build a business.” Yeah, if you’re not preying on people, if you’re not being predatory, if you’re not being parasitic, there’s just no conflict of interest in my opinion.
Josh Felber: You say transparency. How transparent are you, because I know there’s one company, I interviewed the CEO, and they were literally taking their financials and showing me saying, “Hey, here’s what we do, here’s where we are.” I mean, is that how transparent we need to be?
Tom Bilyeu: I don’t know. I don’t know that, if the people following your company care about that, sure, then it could be a real boom for you. Public markets have to do all that stuff and I don’t know that it’s necessarily advantageous to go to that point, I think it’s probably way more meaningful for your employees to see that.
We’re hyper transparent with our employees, because I want them to understand, like, where is breakeven. We give ownership to all of our employees. Where do you start participating, what’s meaningful to you? That, like, internally, yes, makes a lot of sense, revealing all of that where now my competitors are looking at that. That doesn’t seem strategically wise, there’s a reason I’m not a public company, and I want to be able to invest in things that I think make sense, other people will be like, “That’s crazy, that’s stupid.”
Now, you’re just giving so much information that people that want to leverage it against you can, so I think authenticity and transparency isn’t necessarily revealing your balance sheet, at least not to the people that it really doesn’t matter to, because actually do see how that’s meaningful to employees, I don’t see how that’s meaningful to the world.
Josh Felber: Full public, right.
Tom Bilyeu: I can see changing my opinion on that, I’ll be like, yeah, hey [crosstalk 00:58:13].
Josh Felber: Here’s what we’re doing now.
Tom Bilyeu: What I mean by that is we’re living in a world where I think people need to aggressively tell the world who they are. I’ve got [crosstalk 00:58:22] on me … Jesus, we must put out between the interviews that I do with other people and the interviews that I do myself when the Q&A is on. I must put out five to seven hours a week of content.
Josh Felber: For sure.
Tom Bilyeu: People cannot help but reveal themselves when they talk. You literally get a chance to look me in my eyes. I go around. If I do a speaking gig, I will stand there and answer questions until the last question’s been answered. I’ve answered questions, I think, up to eight hours before. If you want to look me in my eye, you’ll have a chance.
Josh Felber: That’s cool.
Tom Bilyeu: That’s what I’m talking about. It’s not hiding behind corporate veils, it’s about really getting out there and answering the hard question.
Josh Felber: Awesome. Probably last question then, what would you say your three biggest skills traits that has differentiated what you’ve been able to accomplish, so becoming a billionaire having you’re selling your company just the life that you’ve created for yourself that separate you that other people like, “Hey, obviously I can’t go do these three things,” but what was that mindset or what was that thought process?
Tom Bilyeu: Yeah, it really is mindset so believing I can do anything I set my mind too, a willingness to acquire the skills and not worry about what I’m naturally good at but asking, “What do I need to become good at to accomplish my goals?” Like anybody I look for the areas that I have early wins and I’m more than happy to bring somebody else and to cover something. If I don’t need to be good at I just need the skillset but I’m willing to get whatever skillset and then I’m willing to work an obscene amount of hours.
Josh Felber: Yeah, no, I think that’s good. I’ve always I know all the tech companies I’ve had is putting and invested in the hours and even though they’re out now, we have kids so we have three kids and they’re growing. I think if they just saw me sitting on the couch, okay cool, that’s showing a different thing then yeah I’m working, but also integrating them in what we do, integrating them in meetings or I’ve taken my daughter to events and things like that and really seen.
She’s ruled out her business a year ago and so at eight years old so selling, she’s created all this organic pet care products after watching my wife and sells it online and everything so-
Tom Bilyeu: That’s amazing.
Josh Felber: It’s really cool to see them.
Tom Bilyeu: Way remember where I was.
Josh Felber: Me too, I was cutting yards and baling hay, that’s right. Any last words thoughts that you want to leave our audience with before we go?
Tom Bilyeu: You can do anything you set your minds without limitation, I just can’t encourage people enough, and read voraciously every day, every day that you have reading I’m pulling ahead of you because I am reading every day. That is learn, I think a Socrates quote, “Read so that you may learn easily what others have learned with great difficulty,” that’s a paraphrase but that get me. Get out there, and get good at something, become capable of the extraordinary.
Josh Felber: Awesome, well thank you very much it was such an honor to have you on Making Bank and being able to share your beautiful awesome studio here with us. Again, I really appreciate your time.
Tom Bilyeu: My pleasure.
Josh Felber: Thank you. I am Josh Felber, you were watching Making Bank get out and be extraordinary.