The Driving Principles Of Human Progress with Dr. Walter E. Williams

TWS 16 | Principles Of Human Progress


Human progress and societal growth almost always influence each other. The increased pressure and the ability of man to rise to challenges paves the way for more learning and growth. In this episode, Patrick Donohoe interviews Dr. Walter E. Williams, an economist, commentator, and academic, to talk about societal or human progress. Dr. Williams explains that the core driving principles and structure of society is paramount to the idea of capitalism and discusses the environment in which capitalism most thrives.

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The Driving Principles Of Human Progress with Dr. Walter E. Williams

Thank you so much for reading into this episode of The Wealth Standard. We are still talking entrepreneurship. A couple of episodes left before we move on to our next season. This is an episode I had been looking forward to for quite some time and it’s with an individual named Walter Williams. He is a Distinguished Professor of Economics at the George Mason University. He is also the former chairman of the audit committee, also a best-selling author of Up from the Projects: An Autobiography on race economics. How much can be blamed on discrimination? It’s a question in the subtitle. He also wrote American Contempt for Liberty as well as Liberty Versus the Tyranny of Socialism: Controversial Essays. Walter also told me that there was a video done based on his biography, which is called Suffer No Fools. All of those links can be found at WalterEWilliams.com.

I’m going to do some commentary on my interview with Walter Williams. I’m going to do a pre-interview commentary and then some post-interview commentary and give you an idea in the pre of why I am asking the questions I’m asking. In the post, I’ll expand on some of those ideas if you’re interested. The first thing that’s influencing me to think and to make even more sense out of entrepreneurship and what is essentially some of the resources I can provide you as budding, existing or experienced entrepreneurs is first a book that is intrigued me called The Mystery of Capital. The reason why it’s intrigued me is that it’s an individual who definitely leans toward free-market economics, laissez-faire, capitalism. He’s a pro personal liberty. At the same time, he’s talking about some fundamental structure of society that is paramount to the idea of capitalism. It’s caused me to think differently. I’m still in the process of thinking about what he is saying, what it means and how it could improve my understanding of capitalism, of human nature and help me to be more fulfilled and satisfied with what I’m doing in life. This is some of the points that he makes. Pick up that book. He’s a great writer. If you haven’t read it before or if you’re intrigued by some of the themes we’ve had, this is definitely a guy to follow.

The idea of The Mystery of Capital, we’ve used that word so much, but we haven’t gone to the root of that word and where it came from, which the first thing that was intriguing to me. It comes from the root of the same word of cattle. There’s a difference between cow and cattle. Where capitalism came from was the idea that human beings figured out a way to take a piece of property and turn it into so many different things. That’s what de Soto defined as capital. Not necessarily the cow itself, but the human being able to figure out how to create forms of value. Whether it’s the hide turning it into leather, whether it’s meat, whether it’s milk, whether it’s the other parts of the cow, which I think human beings have figured out a way to use every single part of it. That’s the capital, not necessarily the cow itself.

The second is essentially the environment in which capitalism most thrives, which is essentially the physical world full of resources and what goes from simply a resource into what he considers as capital, which is I would say the multiple derivatives of resources. That’s where it’s fascinating to me. Because capital is created there, but there are a structure and an environment in which it thrives better. He goes through and he talks about, I’ll use two examples. The first example is property in general. A property can be defined through intellectual property, an idea. Real estate is obviously physical space. He talks about in the United States, we have a very interesting property system, a legal system, a title system, which he goes to the history in it. The history is pretty fascinating.

It talks about how it’s not a perfect system, but it’s one of the more objective systems that are out there, which shows ownership and that ownership can be legally defended. That is a degree that creates a degree of certainty that allows that human mind to start exercising its tendency to provide those derivatives like a cow. Figure out a way to turn what was essentially a very monotonous routine, just playing into the derivative of it. Turning a property into a golf course. The golf course is the capital, not necessarily the property. Turning a blank lawn at your home into a beautiful landscape. I think that derivative is capital.

The human mind engages once that degree of certainty is there. He goes through a lot of the legal systems of property, real estate specifically in other parts of the world. He talks about the poorest third world countries. There are literally tens of trillions of dollars of capital that’s possible if the legal structure was in place to provide that degree of certainty. Because the human mind is not going to start acting in that way until there is a degree of certainty in which the outcome is more definite than if the property wasn’t able to be verified as that specific person. Therefore, their work to create capital would be for naught. Business is the same way. He talks about the ability to form a business in the US. Of course, there are clunky systems here, but relative to other parts of the world. He uses examples of having his research team go into some South American countries and try to form a business and set up shop. In some instances, it took several months. In some instances, it took over a year and it was extremely expensive to do it. It was full of red tape, full of clunkiness. Therefore, the ability to provide that foundation of certainty prevents and inhibits the human mind from being able to create a legitimate business and improve, innovate and make it even better to provide even more value for people for that. It’s Adam Smith’s invisible hand to be exercised.

It was fascinating and it’s caused me to think about, what is the proper role of government? Is government the best institution to create that system? Maybe, maybe not. It’s created the US property system, but is there a better system? How can governments go from a more loose and subjective system to an even better objective system than what the US has, whether that’s blockchain or otherwise. I think we’re always looking for a more solid foundation, a higher degree of certainty. It’s not conscious, we seek that. It’s caused me to reflect and I asked Dr. Williams a few questions in that regard about the environment and the importance of the environment.

The second thing was I joined the Tony Robbins Platinum Partner Group, which is this membership that you have a couple of separate events that you go to, but you can go to all of his conferences and events. There are typically eight to ten. He does most of them and you get to go to all of those as part of the membership. It’s a huge time commitment, huge financial commitment as well. I pulled the trigger there because I had some experiences that caused me to understand more about myself, what I wanted in life, my relationships and what was holding me back. I decided that I didn’t want it to be an event or an experience that was fleeting. I wanted it to be lasting. That’s why I chose to inundate myself or to immerse myself in that environment for a year.

I’ve been in Amsterdam, Dallas and Las Vegas. I’m going to San Diego and then there are a couple of other events. That immersion is working and it’s allowing me not to drink the Tony Robbins Kool-Aid, but it’s causing me to understand more about myself, more about the importance of psychology and also to value others. Whether it’s those that fit the confirmation bias or those that are a completely different opinion. I think there are so many things that are amazing about Tony Robbins, but it’s not like I believe and in an agreement with 100%. Maybe because of ignorance, it might be because of my experience. Nonetheless, there’s so much value in what he has been able to create as an environment in which people learn and experience that has allowed me to see things.

What’s fascinating about this episode is I did not think he was going to go in the direction that it went. He answered questions from a very interesting standpoint because he’s at a point where he’s not trying to build his career. He’s at a point where I would say people focus more on legacy than they focus on growing and expanding. He’s in his early 80s. He’s isn’t necessarily concerned with an image. I don’t know if he’s ever been concerned with his image. He has taken a stand that is very admirable because it goes against the grain of what the racial norms are as well as with the social norms, the political norms. I think you are going to like this episode. There definitely is so much more that could have asked and expanded upon, but for the sake of time and respect for him, I cut it short and stayed at a very high level. Without further delay, please welcome my guest, Walter Williams.

Dr. Williams, it is an honor to have you on. Thank you so much for your time.

Thank you for inviting me.

I have to say I am somewhat intimidated because I have a great deal of respect for you and what you’ve done throughout your career. It took me a long time to come up with some of these questions. The first thing I wanted to ask you is, if you were to boil down your philosophy about society or human progress, what would you say are the core primary driving principles that you would arrive at?

My stepfather told me when I was a teenager that if you ever want to get somewhere in this life, you’ve got to learn to come early and stay late, which means that you have to work hard to get what you want. If you come early and stay late, you’ll eventually succeed at most things that you’re trying. In a sentence or two, that’s my philosophy.

If you are in a society where there is discrimination, you have to be better than others. Click To Tweet

It’s interesting that it seems we’re innovating to work less. That’s the drive. Do you see that and what would you say to that?

I’m in my 84th year of life, I’ve seen a lot of changes. I see that people are forgiven for doing things and saying things that would not have been forgiven many years ago. Forms of behavior are accepted now that would not have been accepted before. I think that we’re the worst for it. There are all these modern ideas that you shouldn’t scold people, you shouldn’t hold them accountable. You should not punish them for doing the wrong things. You don’t do very much for the individual, that’s not very compassionate at all.

What would you say are the unintended consequences of that?

You have a society of people that are less accountable. I remember when I was about twelve years old, I was shining shoes and I’m making a little money for myself. One of my responsibilities with the money that I was making was to save money, pay for my school lunches, which is $0.15 or $0.25. I adopted the habit of spending my money and then going to my mother Wednesday or Thursday and asked her for a loan. I would always pay her back. One time I asked her for a loan and she said, “No, I’m not going to give you any money.” I thought she was the meanest person on the face of the Earth. It must have been very hard for her to see me come home from school and virtually inhale the refrigerator. I was starving. However, it’s the last time that happened. To bring it up to more modern times, I was telling that to my wife. I have a daughter who’s now 44 years old, but when she was young, I was telling her the same thing. My wife thought I was awful and she could never do that to my daughter.

I definitely see that. I have two teenagers and a five-year-old and it seems that the society we’re in, things are so easy to come by. Answers are at our fingertips. Food is plentiful and it’s conditioned people to want the here and now without doing much work. I think failure comes a lot, not necessarily because something was done wrong but because they didn’t have the persistence to carry it through.

What you’re talking about is the downside of affluence. We have so much wealth. We as parents, we try to give our children what our parents could not ever give us, but we wind up not giving our kids what our parents did give us that is discipline, responsibility and respect for authorities.

My wife grew up in Mexico and it was not a very nice neighborhood at all. It’s one of those stereotypical neighborhoods. That is to the tee what I would say she started out as a parent wanting to provide kids everything that she had dreamed about. There are unintended consequences to that because it forms habits that don’t necessarily serve a human being later in life.

TWS 16 | Principles Of Human Progress

Principles Of Human Progress: If you ever want to get somewhere in this life, you got to learn to come early and stay late.


We see this with our youngsters expecting things to be given to them on a silver spoon. Kid’s graduating from college not knowing very much, but expect to be a vice president first month at doing the job.

It’s the reality that we live in. I look at how you have championed free markets, personal liberty and limited government. I would say that is definitely not the guiding principle that society is using. Where do you see what we’ve been discussing with the mindset and perspective of the rising generation as it relates to the principles that you have championed for so long?

I’m not very optimistic. I hope I’m wrong about not being very optimistic, but if you ask the question, some people have asked me, “What can we do? Where’s our country headed?” I asked people, “Americans as human beings, are we any way different from the Romans, the Spanish, the French and the British?” These are great empires of the past that went down the tubes. They went down the tubes for generally the same thing that we’re doing now, that is bread and circuses. People are expecting the government to take care of them. As a matter of fact, in 1887 at Queen Victoria’s Jubilee, that if someone had said that Great Britain would become a third-rate nation challenged on the high seats by a six-rate nation, Argentina, and almost lose, you would have been put into the insane asylum. It was inconceivable that anything would happen to Great Britain, but however it did. What’s happening in the United States, we’re headed the same way, maybe at a different rate but we’re going down the tubes.

Our basic, big problem that most Americans do not appreciate is that we have a moral problem. The big moral problem that we have as American people is that the average American believes that it’s okay for the United States Congress to forcibly use one American to serve the purposes of another American. That means to take your money and my money to give to farmers, to bail out banks, to get the poor people, to give foreign aid. All the thousands of federal programs, the average American thinks that is okay. That’s not a part of our history. It’s nowhere authorizing the United States Constitution for Congress to be in the business of taking the money of one person and giving to another. As a matter of fact, if I did the same thing privately, I would be condemned as a thief and in prison because that is nothing more than legalized theft.

I’m not making the argument about taxes. We all should pay our share of the constitutionally-mandated functions of the federal government, but there’s nothing in the constitution that authorizes Congress taking the earnings of one person and giving it to another. I’m not saying that I’m not for helping our fellow men in need. I think helping one’s fellow men in need by reaching into one’s own pockets to do so is praiseworthy and laudable. Helping one’s fellow men in need by reaching into somebody else’s pockets to do so I think is worthy of condemnation. For the Christians among us, when God gave Moses the Eighth Commandment saying, “Thou shall not steal,” he probably did not mean thou shall not steal unless you’re going a majority vote in the United States Congress.

I read a quote and I was thinking about it, “Beliefs are a poor substitute for experience.” I look at what you said on the surface, it seems like it is a moral good where people are being taken care of. At the same time, you don’t provide and don’t allow for the actual experience of people to take care of others and be charitable.

The emerging people are the most charitable people on the face of the Earth. That is all these welfare programs did not start until the 1950s or 1960s and maybe a few in the 1930s. We went from a poor nation in 1792 until about 1930s and became the richest nation and the most powerful nation on the face of the Earth without all these programs that people say are necessary. For example, Social Security, people say that is necessary. Social Security system started in 1936. What in the world did we do between 1792 and 1936 to take care of old people? Old people died in the homes of their children. There is something to be said in the Biblical admonition to honor thy mother and father. With
Social Security and all these programs for elderly people, they don’t have to honor their mother and father. They can get somebody else to honor their mother and father through tax code. We have some basic moral problems in our society and I don’t see any cure for them.

If anybody wants to promote wealth and liberty, they should also promote free market economic systems. Click To Tweet

On top of what we’ve been talking about, robbing of experiencing charity, taking, giving and contributing to somebody else’s life for their wellbeing. It also comes down to I would say it’s a drive that we have to overcome adversity. Every movie that is popular out there seems to have a similar theme where somebody overcomes adversity, they overcome a challenge. When you essentially are robbing people from saving for their retirement or robbing people from getting a job and experiencing how to navigate those waters and improve their resume. You’re essentially replacing those experiences with a supplement or a Band-Aid to it. It goes to that saying, “Beliefs are a poor excuse for the actual experience.”

The tragedy cannot be avoided. People tend to think that what we see has always been, and that’s not true. For example, you’re talking about people working. The last time I asked my mother for money, other than in loans for lunches, was when I was twelve years old. I had all kinds of jobs after school and that we live in a Richard Allen housing project, which is part of the slums in North Philadelphia. I did afterschool jobs, shining shoes, shoveling snow with my cousin on the Redding railroad platform and caddying golf courses.

All these work opportunities do not exist now for young people. You’ll never see a thirteen, fourteen-year-old caddying on a golf course. You’ll never see a thirteen, fourteen-year-old kid shoveling snow off train platforms. The railroad workers union does not want to see a kid doing that for $20 when their member can get $200 for doing the same thing. They’re able to use the law to block that opportunity. There are many work opportunities that are gone. The tragedy is that the average person thinks that is always this way. That is the regulations and the behaviors that we see now, the average person thinks, “It’s always been that way.”

I look at my great conversation with my thirteen-year-old and she’s one of the more entrepreneurial, loves always to be active and has wanted to work for so long. She didn’t fathom this idea of a paper route. That’s what I had when I was her age. She has this bug inside of her to work. It’s a process and the experience of doing something and getting remunerated for it. There are lots of tendency for leisure, but it seems that the more we’re progressing as a society, the less fulfilled and happy we are. Do you think it’s because of that dynamic, not being able to have these types of experiences?

I think it’s that and many other things that we just accept. For example, if you look at some of my columns, I give references to it, the behavior of students towards teachers. Students curse out teachers, teachers are assaulted. For example, in the City of Baltimore in 2015, on average, four teachers were assaulted each school day of the year. When I was coming up as a kid, one would not dream of even cursing at a teacher, much less assaulting a teacher. I remember holding my hand out in elementary school for the ruler. I did something wrong and the teacher whacked my hand with a ruler. A teacher doing the same thing now would be fired if not carried off to prison or corporal punishment. People now replace what worked with what sounds good. I remember I got my butt spanked a whole lot. The worst time to get a spanking is in the summertime when the windows are open and when your friends outside can hear you copping a plea. You go outside and they start teasing you. My mother, if she was doing the same thing now, somebody would send Child Protective Services to arrest her.

We could probably spend an hour talking about just accountability and the nature of accountability and how that is essential for growth. Something intrigued me and I know who Hernando de Soto is. I’ve been going through one of his books, The Mystery of Capital. It talks about the infrastructure as an essential piece of establishing capital and having the human mind engage and create the capital, and then exchange with it. I think it’s a byproduct oftentimes of a free market society or laissez-faire capitalistic society. It caused me to think about how the US, the flaws we often give it that there’s such an incredible infrastructure here. It’s made me think through what is the proper role of a government? What is the proper role of establishing these types of fundamental foundational systems of law? Why is it that some countries like the US established that and others don’t?

I think that one of the things that go unappreciated about capitalism is that throughout mankind’s history, the way that people accumulated a vast amount of wealth was through plundering, looting and enslaving their fellow man. With the rise of capitalism, it became possible for people to accumulate great wealth by pleasing or serving their fellow man. Finding out what their fellow man wants or needs, and getting the resources to produce it in the most efficient manner. If you look at wealthy men through history, how did Henry Ford become so wealthy? He produced things that satisfied his fellow men. Bill Gates, how did he become so wealthy? He didn’t rob anybody. He just produced Windows programs that satisfied his fellow men.

TWS 16 | Principles Of Human Progress

The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else

If you look around at the world, and if you were to rank societies according to whether they’re at the free market and of the economic spectrum or the communism of the political-economic spectrum, rank countries according to personal liberties. You rank countries in terms of capital income, you’d find something that’s not strange at all that the countries that are closest to the free market end of the economic spectrum not only have higher income, but they have greater protection of their liberty. The countries that are towards the communists end of the economic spectrum, those are the people who are the poorest in the world and tend to have the fewest freedoms. If anybody wants to promote wealth and liberty, they should also at the same time promote free-market economic systems.

As we end some of your concluding thoughts, where were you most influenced to believe the way that you believe, think the way that you think? What are some of those pivotal experiences that you had, whether it’s reading a book or meeting somebody or a person of influence that caused you to think in a different way?

Being 84 years old, I’m very happy that I got most of my education before it became fashionable for white people to like black people. What I mean by that is that when I got an A grade in a class, it was an honest to God A. When I got a C, it was honest to God C. Nobody is feeling sorry for me. They held me to high standards. They weren’t giving me any breaks because they say, “This is legacy of slavery or discrimination, etc.” They held me up to very high standards. I received my Doctorate in Economics from UCLA and I had some very tenacious professors that didn’t cut me any slack.

When I took the PhD exam, there were sixteen students who took the exam and thirteen flunked. The professors came to me and they say, “Williams, your exam was among the worst, but we think that you can do better.” They gave me reading lists. They gave me this and gave me that. The next time I took the PhD micro exam, I passed it. If I had gone to Harvard or Berkeley, they might have taken into account slavery, discrimination, etc. and given me a break and just pass me anyway. As a result of having gone to UCLA, Harvard or somewhere of these liberal departments, I’m a better economist as a result.

Would you say that there is a correlation between the extremity of the experience and the actual growth? Let’s say as it pertains to an individual. Because of the increased pressure and your ability to rise to that challenge enabled you to learn more, think more, be challenged more and subsequently grow more.

If you look at any sport, football, boxing, basketball. What the coaches talk to these young people playing, they don’t give them any break. They’re not treating them with kid gloves. They’re trying to get the best out of them and that works when people say, “We’re not going to accept any less than the best that you can do.” Fortunately, I had that experience.

Were you born or identify with a level of confidence at an early age, or was it instilled by your parents? Where did that confidence come from, because most people would cave to that and quit, but what allowed you to rise up?

A hard environment allows an individual to dig deep and understand what is possible for themselves. Click To Tweet

My father deserted us when I was three and my sister was two. My mother raised us. She would always tell us, “If you’re number two, you’ve got to do better. You’re in a society where there’s discrimination, you have to be better.” She wasn’t telling us the message that somebody should feel sorry, somebody should give you a break. It was very high expectations. One time when my mother was told how I was misbehaving in school, she took away all of my privileges until the next report card came out and I had improved my grades. That’s tough. She is very important in my life and she’s responsible for setting me up for success.

As a final question, how have you used that, whether it’s with your daughter or your students over the years? How have you created the environment in order for them to grow the most in your presence?

I owe my students up to high expectations. They have to cut the mustard and nothing less is exempted. My daughter is a little bit different because fathers are a little bit weaker with their daughters as opposed to their sons. I was not as pressing with my daughter. Nonetheless, she turned out to be a very good and very successful person.

Dr. Williams, it’s been incredible. Thank you so much for what you’ve written about, what you stood for so many years. What are the ways in which readers can learn more about you and also purchase some of the books that you’ve written or read some of the articles that you’ve published?

There’s a lot of material that I’ve done and it’s on my website, it’s WalterEWilliams.com. Also, there’s a video made based on my autobiography that I wrote and it’s called Suffer No Fools. That’s a one-hour video and that’s available at my website as well.

Dr. Williams, thank you so much and I appreciate the time. This has been a great conversation.

Thank you for inviting me.

TWS 16 | Principles Of Human Progress

Principles Of Human Progress: Having an environment in which you’re able to be persistent should be an opportunity to celebrate as opposed to be afraid of.


Take care.

I’m going to get into expanding on a few of the things I talked about pre-interview. I hope you liked Walter Williams. If you haven’t heard him speak, he’s one of those guys where you listened to him, you experience him and you immediately know there is a lot of wisdom and experiences over the years that have caused him to reflect and solidify his view of the world. It’s because of the environment he was in, in which he was able to be nurtured and grow. I found it interesting the first response to the question I proposed, which is, “How would you describe your primary driving principles?” If you boiled everything down to all of the things that he’s experienced, read, teaching students, human progress. It was hard work.

I’m not sure if it’s hard work, meaning the time. I think it’s more of the intensity around the work and the persistence, that dynamic as it relates to work. The reason why I say that I’ve talked about the notion of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which is the idea of entropy. Where when something dies without an environment, it stays the same. With the environment, it determines what it becomes. That goes to the First Law of Thermodynamics, which in large part is that energy can’t be created or destroyed, it essentially transforms. I found it interesting where the environment, the example I used that I heard from Blair Singer was if a tree falls in the forest, it dies. If it stays in the forest, it essentially becomes part of the forest. It decomposes and it becomes food for the other trees and plants.

If a tree falls in a different environment, like when it falls in the swamp, there’s way more pressure than if it fell in the forest. That pressure turns it into something different. The higher degree of pressure in that environment allows for it to become coal and then eventually a diamond. You have one outcome based on an input. Here’s the input of a dead tree. This is the outcome. The environment is what determines that. I think it was interesting because when there’s an environment of pressure, I believe human beings will often rise to the challenge or quit, but if they do rise to the challenge, what they become in the process is incredible.

Having an environment in which you’re able to be persistent, especially as it pertains to an entrepreneur, looking at how difficult something is should be an opportunity to celebrate as opposed to being afraid of. That goes to what I’ve been learning a lot about psychology. Not from a formalized standpoint, but psychology in Tony Robbins’ definition. That psychology is defined as the way in which we create meaning of something. I think psychology as it relates to who we are, in large part, has to do with the environment that we’re either in or have been in.

I think in those environments are often not chosen. That’s where I’m going to speak to. How can you choose your environments and that dynamic versus not choosing an environment and ultimately have it chosen for you? You look at one of the episodes with Andy Tanner talking about this idea of free speech in a difficult environment, which students want to be protected from emotional harm. I think that protection about emotional harm is the greatest harm itself because it enables this crowd effect. Essentially the psychology and perspective are determined by the group and the crowd, not necessarily by the individual. A hard environment allows an individual to dig deep and understand what is possible for themselves.

I believe that as you choose your environments and the higher the pressure is, the more you’re going to grow and the more you’re going to become. This is where it comes down to, why won’t a person choose those difficult environments? I think it boils down to the principle of fear. I look at fear and it’s interesting because what people are afraid of all boils down to the very same thing, which is a feeling of being discarded, a feeling of being worthless, insignificant, not smart, not loved. That fear is often a defense mechanism. It initiates by being judged. I heard a cool definition of judgment that has caused me to reflect on that. The quote is that, “Judgment is a mask that comes from the fear of being vulnerable.” The fear of being vulnerable is that people will see your weaknesses and then not value you, discard, discount you and ultimately not like you, love you or appreciate you. People have this fear of that, which is incredible.

People today replace what works with what sounds good. Click To Tweet

In the end, if you understand those fundamentals, you’re going to realize that it isn’t your problem that someone’s judging you. It’s the person who’s judging’s problem. It’s their fears that are causing them to act that way. The more you understand about yourself and who you are and the meaning that comes from the circumstances of your life, the better you’re going to be able to put yourself in challenging environments in order to grow the most. That’s what I’ve been thinking a lot of and it helped me because I look at how much noise that’s out there in our world. It’s difficult to concentrate and to focus. I believe that within that noise, our chords, there’s this harmonious formula in which we have a better experience of life, but also become successful, which is a part of that fulfilling experience of life.

I’m not sure what each note is of those chords because we all know what noise sounds like. My kids play instruments but going to elementary school orchestra concerts, that’s noise. You’d probably rather listen to something else. I look at then going to a symphony or an orchestra that’s very well-trained professionals. It’s one of the most gratifying experiences. The same instruments, same music but completely different experience because of all of that noise come together in a harmonious way. I think there’s a formula in essence for success, a formula for growth, a formula for fulfillment. I don’t 100% understand it, but that’s what I’m thinking about and seeking. Not just for me, but also for you because I believe human beings are after very similar things. They are after the way something feels. They’re after whatever environment, dynamic or thing gives that sense, emotion and that feeling. I believe that we make it hard to do, which is also funny.

I enjoyed Walter Williams. It caused me to reflect because here’s a guy that has nothing to lose. He’s already made his legacy. He’s written some incredible books. He’s also taught thousands of students and made a difference. He’s at the latter part of his life, and for him to answer the way that he answered the first question was interesting and fascinating. I can see how it led to the success that he had in his industry. I think facing the environment that he was in. He’s an African-American and he is basically cutting against the grain of the liberal agenda, which is often the stereotype of that racial segment of society.

I also look at his views on economics and politics, which is also extremely against the grain. It’s free markets for capitalism. That puts him in a very interesting environment in which he’s probably thought deeply about the important things of life. This is the way in which he decided to answer those questions, which I think should tell us something. I hope you guys learned something from this episode. I’ve got a couple of cool episodes coming down the pipe before we wrap up the season. I hope you’re getting a lot from the show and it’s helping you to be even more successful than you already are. I’ll talk to you next time.

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About Dr. Walter E. Williams

TWS 16 | Principles Of Human ProgressBorn in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Dr. Walter E. Williams holds a B.A. in economics from California State University, Los Angeles, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in economics from UCLA. He also holds a Doctor of Humane Letters from Virginia Union University and Grove City College, Doctor of Laws from Washington and Jefferson College and Doctor Honoris Causa en Ciencias Sociales from Universidad Francisco Marroquin, in Guatemala, where he is also Professor Honorario.

Dr. Williams has served on the faculty of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics, since 1980; from 1995 to 2001, he served as department chairman. He has also served on the faculties of Los Angeles City College, California State University Los Angeles, and Temple University in Philadelphia, and Grove City College, Grove City, Pa.

Dr. Williams is the author of over 150 publications which have appeared in scholarly journals such as Economic Inquiry, American Economic Review, Georgia Law Review, Journal of Labor Economics, Social Science Quarterly, and Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy and popular publications such as Newsweek, Ideas on Liberty, National Review, Reader’s Digest, Cato Journal, and Policy Review. He has authored ten books: America: A Minority Viewpoint, The State Against Blacks, which was later made into the PBS documentary “Good Intentions,” All It Takes Is Guts, South Africa’s War Against Capitalism, which was later revised for South African publication, Do the Right Thing: The People’s Economist Speaks, More Liberty Means Less Government, Liberty vs. the Tyranny of Socialism, Up From The Projects: An Autobiography, Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed On Discrimination? and American Contempt for Liberty.

He has made scores of radio and television appearances which include “Nightline,” “Firing Line,” “Face the Nation,” Milton Friedman’s “Free To Choose,” “Crossfire,” “MacNeil/Lehrer,” “Wall Street Week” and was a regular commentator for “Nightly Business Report.” He is also occasional substitute host for the “Rush Limbaugh” show. In addition Dr. Williams writes a nationally syndicated weekly column that is carried by approximately 140 newspapers and several web sites. His most recent documentary is “Suffer No Fools,” shown on PBS stations Fall/Spring 2014/2015, based on Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.

Dr. Williams serves as Emeritus Trustee at Grove City College and the Reason Foundation. He serves as Director for the Chase Foundation and Americans for Prosperity. He also serves on numerous advisory boards including Cato Institute, Landmark Legal Foundation, Institute of Economic Affairs, and Heritage Foundation. Dr. Williams serves as Distinguished Affiliated Scholar at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

Dr. Williams has received numerous fellowships and awards including: the 2017 Bradley Prize from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foudation, the Fund for American Studies David Jones Lifetime Achievement Award, Foundation for Economic Education Adam Smith Award, Hoover Institution National Fellow, Ford Foundation Fellow, Valley Forge Freedoms Foundation George Washington Medal of Honor, Veterans of Foreign Wars U.S. News Media Award, Adam Smith Award, California State University Distinguished Alumnus Award, George Mason University Faculty Member of the Year, and Alpha Kappa Psi Award.

Dr. Williams has participated in numerous debates, conferences and lectures in the United States and abroad. He has frequently given expert testimony before Congressional committees on public policy issues ranging from labor policy to taxation and spending. He is a member of the Mont Pelerin Society, and the American Economic Association.


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Doing Business Your Own Way.. And Succeeding! with Kim Butler

TWS 15 | Doing Business Your Way


Positive influence from significant people can bring a positive impact to your ventures in life and in business. In this episode, Kim Butler, the Founder of Partners for Prosperity and Cofounder of Prosperity Economics Movement, walks us through her experiences in business. Inspired by Dan Sullivan’s Strategic Coach, Kathy Kolbe, and Robert and Kim Kiyosaki, she relates how their guidance and definition of success has given her the freedom to be herself. Shaping your habits can pave the way to shaping your life. Kim says by controlling these habits, you can serve yourself better. Learn more about Kim and be inspired by her journey. Indeed, you can succeed in doing business your own way.

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Doing Business Your Own Way.. And Succeeding! with Kim Butler

Our guest is none other than a good friend of mine. She is my mentor. She is also a financial advisor. We’re part of something called The Prosperity Economics Movement where we essentially train advisors on the principles and strategies that we both practice. Kim was one of the first Rich Dad advisors to Robert Kiyosaki. She’s written a number of books which you can check out on Amazon. By far my most favorite is Busting the Financial Planning Lies, but she’s written several other books as well. She and her husband, Todd Langford, are great friends of mine. We’re business partners and we get to meet every single week. This is a little bit different meeting for Kim and me. She’s an incredible individual. She’s so experienced and she has had a lot of success in her field. I can’t wait for you to meet her if you haven’t heard of her before.

We do have a couple of episodes left if you are tuning in for the first time. We essentially have the show broken into three yearly seasons. We started that in 2018. Go and check out those past episodes. We have been focusing on the principle of entrepreneurship. It’s going to be over soon and I’m going to be announcing the new season, which I’m excited about. We also have some cool guests that will be appearing soon. Make sure you tune into those episodes. Without further ado, I’m going to introduce you to my great friend, Kim Butler.


Kim, it’s awesome to have you on. It’s always a delight for me to talk to you. We are part of a few different initiatives and businesses. At the same time, we don’t get a lot of time to speak on some of these higher-level borderline esoteric things such as what our theme, which is entrepreneurship. You have extensive experience and it’s interesting especially as we’ve come to know each other better where the business is such a fun and dynamic thing that keeps the entrepreneurial spirit alive for a long time. Most business owners and entrepreneurs don’t get the experience that you do because you have been heavily inspired by Dan Sullivan’s Strategic Coach, not only as a student but also as a teacher and mentor. There’s something about being able to teach principles and teach about certain concepts, especially as it relates to a business that starts to become part of you, your nervous system, your emo, how you’re wired, how you respond to certain things versus react to certain things. Walk everyone through your experience in business and what are the events that shaped the way you look at it. Define how you look at it first and then talk about the events that helped to shape that and continue to shape it. 

You do know we have to start with fourth-grade in milking a cow. My parents bought me a cow to milk and I sold the milk. From fourth grade all the way through twelfth grade, I earned a lot of money enough to put myself through a private college for four years. That entrepreneurial experience shaped how I think and how I look at things. My parents are not entrepreneurs and yet they were. They were teachers and principals of schools. They had a farm and they certainly saw the value of forage and teaching me and Tammi, my sister, all of the good that goes with building a business. 

They gave you this experience. They didn’t necessarily give it to you based on their experience in it. It was more to provide you with an environment and an experience. What do you think was the cause of that? Have you ever asked them like, “Why did you buy me the cow? Why did you let me do this and sell this and go to forage and continue to support that?” I’m assuming, there was some support on their end for you to do the business. 

Mindset determines 99% of the deal. Click To Tweet

In the early stages, there had to be a lot of support because of the nature of it. A fourth-grader is a pretty small human being and a cow is a big animal. My dad was a farmer and a forager as a child. He very much wanted Tammi and me to have that experience and we have talked about it. It’s been a while but I definitely know the story. He wanted us to learn business principles. You and I know and talk about how important principles are and how reflective they are in all of our lives if we can just pick up on something that teaches principles. Because when we have good solid principles, they impact our entire life and that’s what he wanted us to learn. 

Now you may be graduated from school when you left home and how your experiences to get into the business that you’re in and to become part of Coach. Describe some of the experiences in which you were able to take what you learned growing up and apply that to that next phase or next level. 

There’s an important detour that I took that I’m almost a little embarrassed about, but I want to share it because it has such an important message. After graduating from college, I did not want to be involved in sales in any way. 

Why is that? 

How sad that is because entrepreneurship, frankly just being human requires selling. 

TWS 15 | Doing Business Your Way

Doing Business Your Way: Good solid principles impact our entire lives.


You sold milk. 

I know, as I said, I’m embarrassed by it. You ask why? I don’t know why. I don’t have a good answer for that. I did go to a liberal arts school, but I don’t think that was it. Something in my experience turned my perspective and maybe it’s because I didn’t know any better. I’m not sure. I remember very clearly that I wanted a job in management. I didn’t want a job in sales. Yet one of my favorite books now is by Daniel Pink and it is To Sell Is Human and it is. It’s something that we do every day. We sell ourselves on our own ideas. We sell others on things that we want to be done. We sell our family on where we want to go to dinner that night. We’re selling but for whatever reason, I had this bizarre detour. 

Most people have that and I don’t want to go into the psychology of it because I’ve thought the same thing and felt the same thing. At the same time, there are some principles behind providing some products or services that inspire you through that awkwardness. I don’t want to go on that tangent necessarily. Go to ways in which you overcame that and then maybe transition to how you became involved with Rich Dad and then going into Coach from there. 

Very quickly in my first corporate job, I did realize that in order for a business to make progress and a profit, selling was necessary. While I did have three years as an employee, I very quickly realized that the ability to get results, to get paid for my results instead of my time and effort, that is a Dan Sullivan thing, to cross over the risk line from time and effort to results was absolutely necessary. Fast forward a little bit to continue to address some of your questions on the entrepreneur side, getting involved with Robert Kiyosaki and Kim Kiyosaki and their perspective. Also right around the same time getting involved with Dan Sullivan and Strategic Coach and his perspective and also at that same time getting involved with Kathy Kolbe and her perspective. You certainly have your Kolbe profile and know the value of the Kolbe profile, which indicates how you get results. 

You put all of that together and I became a very focused, very onpoint person/entrepreneur as it related to my passion that I think did start way back in fourth grade and that was money. I loved personal finance. I loved money. I loved making money. I loved all of the aspects of money and how it flows through economies, both nationwide, worldwide and also down on the small side to our own personal level. All of these things contributed to that. An entrepreneurial environment with money, those two things go hand-in-hand and the good that can be created from understanding principles that relate not only to one’s personal economy but also to any business that you’re going to operate. 

Our businesses are either growing or dying. There is no such thing as maintenance. Click To Tweet

It sounds like you had three events, Rich Dad, Strategic Coach and Kolbe all at once and then everything from that point forward was complete euphoria, wasn’t it? Walk us through what happened from there at a high-level and how the principles that you were learning, identified or clarified and then reinforced and then became part of how you started to operate differently. 

What was very gratifying now that I can look back on it is the various things that I was involved with were all sending the same message. As an example, I had always been working on what I now call typical financial planning. This is the early ‘90s for about five years. I had a nice practice. I was very good at it and yet I wanted more, which got me to Strategic Coach. I had always been working on typical financial planning and yet I wanted more. That led me to a conversation with Robert and Kim who at that point, Rich Dad Poor Dad book wasn’t even out yet. It was a conversation and yet it was a reinforcement of principles because I had started to learn from a lot of my other real estate clients. Robert at that point was another real estate client that there were fundamental personal financial principles that I was not being taught in typical financial planning with the designations that I had and the training that I was going through. I knew that these principles existed because I had worked in that entrepreneurial world for so long.  

As I joined Coach and at this point, I was a student of Coach and I still am. I still attend every 90 days and yet I hadn’t started coaching at this point. As I’m learning from other entrepreneurs and other real estate investors in my own what was at the time a face-to-face practice, these entrepreneurial principles align with these financial principles in very clear categories on one side of the table. The more typical financial planning type thought process, I don’t even want to use the word principles in the typical financial planning space, aligned more with the corporate employee world that I did not want to be a part of. There was a very clear division there and thankfully everything that I was doing was supporting that more entrepreneurial principle-based, as we use the term now, prosperity economics. Because of Coach, I was led to coin some of the words like prosperity economics to identify some of those principles and then everything else did support it. Yet there are still challenges because as you know now, you and I spend every day fighting the battle of Wall Street, the banks and corporations and the typical financial planning message that is so prevalent in our society. 

Think about it, you’ve hit on a couple of things which are going through my mind. One, in particular, is the idea of what you were driven to do as a result of your college education, which is, “I want to become a manager.” I don’t know if kids wake up and say, “I want to become a manager of something.” I look at how our school systems are run, I look at how society is run, I look at how most corporate businesses are run. It’s very hierarchical and also there are managerial principles there. You’ve seen a lot of decay in that world in a lot of different respects. It has become so ingrained in us based on the different stages of our life that it followed a very similar structure. Whether it’s an elementary school, middle school, high school, K12, then you get into college. You’re taught to do things this very methodical way. Go to school, get a job, get a degree, get another job, go up the corporate ladder and get benefits.  

There are always these boxes to check in order to achieve success. Most people check all the boxes and are suddenly like, “This is not what I thought it was going to be.” A lot of people are realizing that the corporate world is changing. It’s so ingrained in us to think a certain way that when there is a different idea such as prosperity, economics, doing things in a different way or just because it’s different, it makes people concerned and ultimately feel threatened to an extent where you’re challenging the status quo. 

TWS 15 | Doing Business Your Way

Doing Business Your Way: Coaching is cool because you get to share wisdom with other entrepreneurs who then share with their employees and families.


It’s been interesting for us to have that experience together because a lot of the work that we do together is with financial advisors. They are now taking what they have given as advice and suddenly being in the position to say, “I probably shouldn’t have done that.” Because of saving face, reputation and identity, they have a challenge in shifting gears. With business, let’s go back to that. When you look at business, business is always evolving. It’s an infinite game as we talk about, the way in which a business is run or an entrepreneur sets his vision and establishes a business and carries forward that message. Tomorrow and next week and next year, things adjust. You being involved in Coach for the many years. I don’t know where you’re at right now. What has been your experience in seeing the different types of economies and different shifts and how entrepreneurs and businesses have essentially either succeeded or failed and why? 

One of the singular messages that I love that comes from Dan Sullivan and down to all of the entrepreneurs everywhere. One of the cool things about coaches is that you get to share so much wisdom with entrepreneurs, which then get to share that wisdom with their employees and their families. That is the importance of mindset, especially as it relates to what’s going on in the economy with which your business is operating and what you can and cannot control. The overriding message and this was super clear in the 2008, 2009 era. I believe it was also clear in whatever the recession was before that, I don’t remember the exact years. 

That’s the early 2000s. 

It is that you don’t have to participate. You as an entrepreneur, like your family, as an individual, as a salesperson, even as an employee do not have to participate in whatever the recession/thing that’s going on in that larger economy. People hear that and think, “I’m stuck. I don’t have a choice.” I have fallen subject to that same mindset. There are times I forget that I do not have to participate in whatever is going on out in the mindset of the economy and the actions of the economy. You and I’ve had conversations that I’ve gotten off the phone and thought, “Here I was in scarcity mode talking with somebody that’s important about whatever it was that I was afraid of at the time.” I too forgot that I do not have to participate in whatever the mental climate is of the worldwide economy, the nationwide economy, even down to the state and my personal businesses, which then affect my personal finances economy. Overriding principle if you will, message if you will, that individuals can focus on the one thing that they can control, which is their mindset. That mindset determines 99% of the deal. 

In the end, it’s what everyone is essentially looking for, a mindset. The material world has to be aligned in a certain way in order to achieve that which is interesting. It plays into what we were talking about before, which is that’s how we’re wired. That’s what we’ve come to believe collectively. There are a lot of individuals that are writing and talking about very similar things because there is an aspect of the future that you can probably predict, but there’s so many that you can’t. All that exists is right now. Talk about, as you’ve experienced other entrepreneurs, their businesses and Strategic Coach covers an array of different businesses and industries and even countries. How have you shaped your business and your life based on what you’ve learned and/or taught? 

You don’t have to do business the same way that everybody else is doing business. Click To Tweet

The ability to work virtually as in over the phone on the web, but also with the capability that it comes with. For example, flexibility around hours and physical space, etc., that’s something that many strategic coach entrepreneurs are pursuing and loving. The internet was a big part of that and the realization that you don’t have to do business the same way that everybody else is doing business. Strategic Coach and my Kolbe profile gave me the freedom to be myself. Kathy’s definition of success is the freedom to be yourself. The vision is to realize early on the creation of the internet and the capability that it enabled to be able to work that way. Strategic Coach is giving you the support that you can do it, go for it, think big, think differently and get different results accordingly. 

As I look at the other entrepreneurs inside Coach, there are under 60 some different industries in there and the ones that are doing the best are creating the businesses on their own terms. They’re building the teams around their own vision of what they feel like their business is capable of, regardless of what their industry is doing, regardless of what other businesses like theirs are doing or regardless of what the accountant says should be done. They’re basing it off vision and a set of principles that may be different than our principles, but their own set of principles and their own skills and talents identified sometimes by Kolbe and other profiles out there that help them do that. It enables them to love their work and to have worked not be so all-consuming 24/7 like you might think is happening in a virtual firm, but to have it limited within a particular window so that love is getting the top skill and capability of an entrepreneur. That entrepreneur’s family and church community and whatever else is involved with are also getting the top skill of that entrepreneur. 

There’s been this gravitation going from working to live versus living to work. It’s interesting where these up and coming generations, Millennials and even the generations after that have figured out ways in which to do things differently and more efficiently. Ultimately, it comes down to the experience of life. In the end, that’s what everyone is looking for. They’re looking for a sense of happiness, a sense of fulfillment. I think work is a part of that. At the same time, if they’re connecting that all happiness, fulfillment, success comes from work, then that’s not necessarily the most principled way to look at it based on the experiences that I’m sure that you’ve had over the course of time. That’s where you look at in our day and age and what exists as a possibility when it comes to designing your life and designing the rules for that. 

There’s something that Andy Tanner had taught me regarding getting to where you want to go with whatever successes, however, you define success. There’s where you’re at and there’s where you want to be. There are usually two variables that prevent you from getting there. It’s ignorance or discipline, but then I threw another one at him, which is most people don’t know where they’re going. They don’t know what that end result is. They haven’t written their rules are defined, “This is what I want, this is the lifestyle I want to live, this is where I want to live,” and then figuring out a way is the gap, ignorance or is the gap, discipline? Ignorance means do you have the knowledge? If you don’t have the knowledge like, the knowledge is there. What is available at our fingertips possesses pretty much all the knowledge you need in order to make that a reality, but then it comes down to discipline. 

I look at discipline as one of those main variables that prevent a person from living a fulfilling life, which is being able to identify that they have a specific makeup and structure of their nervous system, of their belief system. How that dictates the direction of their life and having to replace a lot of those beliefs and replace them with new beliefs and then being disciplined to execute. It’s interesting where you’ve been able to do that. That’s what I’ve respected about you and Todd for so long. You’ve said this is the life I want to live. This is where I want to live. You live in a beautiful location in Texas. When I first walked into your house, I was like, “That’s Kim, that’s Todd and that might be a combination of Kim and Todd.” You’ve designed your life and that’s so admirable. Talk about whether I’m off or on there and then what are you focused on right now to continue to shape this life and shape your business. 

TWS 15 | Doing Business Your Way

Doing Business Your Way: We are in the habit of controlling our thinking.


Thank you for the compliment. It’s super cool that you can see that in our home, which is our business also. In answer to your question, what’s interesting to me about discipline is and I’ll quote Dan Sullivan again, “It’s more to me about habits than it is about discipline.” The Dan Sullivan quote is, “You are 100% disciplined to your current set of habits.” I look at my habits a lot and as you know, we are in the habits of controlling our thinking. Whether you are doing a lot of that or a little of that, that’s having an impact. We have certain habits about how we eat. Good or bad habits, they’re habits. What are you doing around that area? Certain habits around what kind of input we have to our thinking. For example, Todd and I choose not to watch TV because we do not care what that input is. 

We watch movies but not TV, there’s an important distinction there. The controlling of habits is something that we can all do and look at our habits and how they’re serving us. To pick up on your second question more about the vision is something that Todd and I are adamant about and we talk about it more and more every day. It’s that human beings or business owners cannot coast. There is no such thing as maintenance. I’ll give you an example on the physical side. I’ve worked with a personal trainer for many years. She’s the same gal and we do our work now over the web because she still lives in Arizona. At some point in our relationship, I said, “I’m good. I just want to maintain.” I want to be in maintenance mode with my weights and my cardio. That didn’t work. You can’t maintain. There is no such thing as coasting. You are either growing or you are dying. That might be abrupt language but I fully believe that it’s that big of a dichotomy and that we need to be focused on growth. 

One of the questions that Todd asked me when we first started dating is, “What are you all about?” Without even thinking the word “growth” came out of my mouth. It’s something that we are very conscious of. Our businesses are either growing or dying. There is no such thing as maintenance. Our lives, our mindset, our spiritual approach, our inspirational if that works better for people, our work, everything is either growing or dying. That vision is part of that growth and a vision is very different than a goal. A goal is specific and measurable. We can achieve it, it has a timeframe and it’s realistic. A vision is out there a little bit more in the future, a little fuzzier. Yet to me, it’s that vision that I’m always striving for. Goals too but I prefer to focus on the vision. 

I was thinking about something and it plays right into what you’ve been talking about. I’ve mentioned this to you before. Blair Singer, another Rich Dad advisor, he explained at one of his events the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which is the idea of entropy. The theory states that if you completely remove a system from the environment, it doesn’t die. There is no system without an environment that exists. The environment is going to dictate going from one stage to another stage. He explains it as the higher the pressure of that environment, the more success is going to come out on the outside or growth or enhancement. 

He explains it with if a tree falls in the forest, what will it become? It will become part of the forest. It will become the food for the trees or whatever. If a tree falls in a different environment and goes from one stage of life to the next, if it falls into a swamp per se, where there are lots of pressure and organisms. A lot more is going on than if it fell into the forest, then it becomes over the course of time, coal and then it becomes a diamond. It shifts to different elements, a much different outcome than if it fell in the forest. The idea is, from what you’re saying, we live in an environment. We can’t control that.  

Vision is part of growth and it is very different than a goal. A goal is specific and measurable. Click To Tweet

The environment that we live in requires growth. Things are growing, they’re dying and they’re taking different stages. When it comes to our life, there’s a lot of similarity and parallel where the environment is going to dictate where we’re at the next level. If it’s the same environment that exists right now, then as we go into different stages, it’s going to be the same and there’s going to be such a lack of fulfillment there. I’ve correlated to the best thing that you can do in order to achieve different results is put yourself in different environments and the environments which are conducive to the growth that you want. 

Sometimes that means being uncomfortable. 

It always means being uncomfortable and maybe not because it’s friction. Friction is where all the opportunity exists. That’s another principle, the more pressure, the better the outcome in the end. Kim, this has been awesome. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. I was excited about this conversation. It was perfect. Why don’t you tell our audience, if they’re not already following you, where they can pick up some of your books, how they can follow you on social media and pay attention to what you’re up to? 

TWS 15 | Doing Business Your WayThank you for that. The best place I do believe is our main website Partners4Prosperity.com. We do have a podcast called The Prosperity Podcast. We have quite a few books on Amazon as well. Lookup for Kim Butler as the author and you can track those down. We have a social media presence primarily on Facebook and LinkedIn. I love what is available in the blog and the podcast, because those are able to go a little bit more in-depth. I do believe that sometimes social media is a little too sound bite-ish. I encourage people to dig in. 

Kim, thank you again. It’s been such a pleasure.  

I’m happy to do it, Patrick. Thank you. 

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About Kim Butler

TWS 15 | Doing Business Your WayKim Butler is the founder of Partners for Prosperity and Co-founder of Prosperity Economics Movement. She is the host of The Prosperity Podcast; author of the bestselling books Live Your Life Insurance: An Age-Old Approach Revitalized, Live Your Life Insurance: Surprising Strategies to Build Lifelong Prosperity with Your Whole Life Policy, and the new book Busting the Real Estate Investing Lies: Build Wealth the Smart Way: Through the Most Time-Tested, Least Volatile Path to Financial Freedom.


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A Conversation Around Politics, Entrepreneurship, And The Dynamics Of Capitalism with Peter Wehner

TWS 14 | Dynamics Of Capitalism


Capitalism is the greatest economic system in human history because it’s lifted more people out of poverty than any system in human history and allowed for the conditions for great human flourishing and great technological advancements. This is according to Peter Wehner, a New York Times contributing Op-Ed writer covering American politics and conservative thought and a popular media commentator on politics. Wehner is also a veteran of three White House administrations and author of the books Wealth and Justice, The Morality of Democratic Capitalism, and The Death of Politics. In this episode, he dives into the aspects and dynamics of capitalism.

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A Conversation Around Politics, Entrepreneurship, And The Dynamics Of Capitalism with Peter Wehner

My guest is incredible. Probably the best top three interviews I’ve had. We are talking about entrepreneurship, but we also weave in capitalism. We talk about a lot of what the theme was in 2018, life, liberty and property. It was awesome to talk to this individual. He is super intelligent and very distinguished. Peter Wehner is my guest and he is a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He also is a contributing editor at the Atlantic Magazine. He is also a contributing columnist for the New York Times. He is the former Director of the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives and Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush. He has authored a few books, Wealth and Justice: The Morality of Democratic Capitalism and The Death of Politics. Welcome, Peter. It is amazing to have you on. I’m excited about this conversation and to talk to you about your book as well as some of the things that you’ve been preaching.

Thanks for having me on. It’s a pleasure to be with you.

I talked to you a little bit about what we’ve been doing, which is focusing on the topics that include life, liberty, property from some of John Locke’s writings. As well as what capitalism is, entrepreneurship, and the framework where most people want to be a part of. Not necessarily just in the US but around the world. I look at what you’ve written about and understood it for quite some time studying and looking at where our society is and what has made us successful versus other nations perhaps. How have you come to understand capitalism in general and the aspects and dynamics of capitalism?

My belief is that capitalism is the greatest economic system in human history because it has lifted more people out of poverty than any system in human history and allowed for the conditions for great human flourishing and great technological advancements. Capitalism unmitigated and unrestrained has some problems. Part of what democracies and free societies have to do is to soften some of the rougher edges of that. That’s a prudential judgment. What does that mean? What programs have to be done to do that? You have to weigh the costs and benefits in terms of the effects on economic growth and all the rest.

It’s my belief that capitalism works because it’s most consistent with human nature. I’m a big believer in the idea that you have to confirm your economic and political systems to certain realities about human nature. I think capitalism accords to that and aligns with that. It understands as Adam Smith talked about what selfishness rightly understood is. You have to take into account what drives and motivates people that you can’t believe simply altruism, even though altruism is a part of human life and human experience. People act in ways that advance their self-interest rightly understood. You have to create certain incentives that will lead human beings to act in the ways that are both expected of them but also advances the common good.

I think the American understanding of capitalism, by and large, is the right one. Limited government entrepreneurship, free markets, skepticism about the ability of the centralized government to dictate decisions and believe that it has the capacity to anticipate and direct all aspects of human life. It has improved and right. There’s an epistemological modesty that capitalism understands, which is that you can’t get a small group of very bright people who can run economies. The way that economies work best is letting people by and large to be free to act in ways that want to act.

Let me go into two things that you had said because I find this interesting. It sounds like there’s this altruistic pull of human beings to be charitable to help others, to contribute, give back. There’s also this invisible hand, maybe more self-interested. It seems like those two things are pulling against each other. Are they mutually exclusive or is it may be a mischaracterization of those two concepts?

I don’t think of them as mutually exclusive. I think that they can be complementary. They’re distinct and they’re part of human nature. Think about your own life, the lives of your friends and your family, you probably see both of those elements in them. There are times in which you see altruism, self-sacrifice, selflessness, acts of charity, sympathy and compassion. Those things are real and they exist. They should be encouraged where they can. On the other hand, all of us act in our self-interest as well. That’s the way we’re designed. That’s the way that we operate. Most of life is acting in our self-interest provided that it doesn’t run over the rights of other people, and none of us are completely selfless, self-giving, completely compassionate and completely sympathetic. You have to take that into account.

The way that economies work best is by letting people be free to act in ways that they want to act. Click To Tweet

That’s not a bad thing as long as it’s channeled in the right way. The trick here is to try and take those human realities and direct them in a way that advances the common good. The founders understood this. Their view of human nature was correct, which is that people are capable of virtue and nobility but also acts of recklessness, irresponsibility and evil. You have to take both of those things into account. My own sense, I’m a person of the Christian faith. The Christian understanding of human nature is essentially correct. It’s that too, which is the advice and virtue are intermingled in people’s lives and in people’s hearts. It’s a complicated mix. People in different seasons in life lean in more of one direction than another. The challenge in individual lives, as well as a society, is to try and emphasize, give force and power to the higher things and to mitigate the lower things.

I do want to hit on a few of the things you said. Go to this idea of central powers dictating what people should do or taking care of them is the banner sometimes in which central governances is looked to as a virtue. What is it about that structure that people don’t end up liking? The ideal side of things that they push through or talk about sometimes is intriguing. I see why they would appeal to people, but when it comes down to it, why do people kick against that? Why does that impede human progress or does it?

Let’s take facts and circumstances. Sometimes when the centralized government, the national government who’s acted is advanced, great good, and sometimes, often it’s done the opposite. I’m somebody who believes in limited government and is wary of centralized government. I’m a lifelong conservative. That’s what’s shaped my beliefs in part because the way I understand conservatism is that it’s based very much on the human experience. It’s a negation of ideology, Russell Kirk and others have said. You have to take into account what works for the human condition. I’d say that there are several reasons for it in terms of why one is skeptical with centralized power. One is simply on the efficacy standpoint. Peter Schuck wrote a book about why government fails. He refers to himself in the book as a militant moderate.

He’s not an ideological person, but he’s an empirical look at what it is about a large government that doesn’t work very often, that fails where the efficiency is not what it ought to be. Anybody who’s worked there, if they’re honest, would concede that fact. How often these grand promises and hopes that are sincere and don’t translate into reality. I think you could look at much of the great society and see that. Even programs which have done some good but have also are themselves extremely inefficient like Medicare and Medicaid. I wouldn’t argue that no good comes out of them. I don’t think that’s sustainable, but those programs are not nearly as efficient as they could be.

TWS 14 | Dynamics Of Capitalism

Dynamics Of Capitalism: Most of life is acting in our self-interest provided that it doesn’t run over the rights of other people.


I’d say the inefficiency and lack of efficacy for centralized government is something that we need to be alert to. There’s the concern that the founders themselves had and many others who had, which is when you centralize power, there’s the danger of authoritarianism and even totalitarianism. That as the old maximum goes, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts. We’ve seen time after time that when people get a tremendous amount of power, when it’s unchecked and it’s on challenged, that can lead to some very bad conditions and situations. That was the worry of the founders. That’s the reason that they set up our system of government of checks, balances, and separation of powers because what they wanted was not an efficient government. They wanted a government that protected against tyranny.

I think that’s a second reason that people need to be wary about centralized government. The third reason is that if you go back and you read Adam Smith in a certain way and probably more specifically this idea about which is that there’s this mythology among Progressives, which is that if you get a group of wise men, wise women, they can oversee, conduct, and determine how human society can act and all realms that simply isn’t possible. They can’t do it. There are so many imponderables in lives, so many contingencies in life that the idea that a centralized state or a group of individuals would be able to make those judgments. I just don’t think works.

The fourth thing I’d say is George Will, a marvelous book that he wrote called The Conservative Sensibility writes about the American founding. He says, “That’s essentially what conservative’s need to conserve.” which is the idea of inalienable rights. Natural rights, rights that precede government. His argument and I think it’s a valid point that government, if it gets too large, too centralized, can undermine those natural rights. He makes the case in a pretty persuasive way that the belief in natural rights would tend to lead one toward a more limited government.

Let’s go to your book because you look at the idea of capitalism and just the word itself formulates a specific reaction in people as far as my experience is concerned. It’s not necessarily based on logic and thought through education debate where a person comes to an understanding. It’s more based on what has been heard. What society believes about that word? Talk about your best-selling book, Wealth and Justice: The Morality of Democratic Capitalism and weave that into the conversation. Talking about how that can essentially be a message that will hit on the principles that make capitalism good for society as opposed to what most people react to, which is that it exploits people and takes advantage of people. It’s all about the wealthy and them getting their own.

People are capable of virtue and nobility, but also acts of recklessness, irresponsibility, and evil. Click To Tweet

I coauthor it. It’s a monograph of the American Enterprise Institute with Arthur Brooks, who was for many years President of an American Enterprise Institute. He left to take a professorship at Harvard. Arthur is very good in a very sober and thoughtful voice on this thing. We wrote this book and the situation is more acute than it was when we wrote it. One of our concerns was Americans in general and particularly young Americans were losing faith in capitalism as a system. We see that in polls, and you’re probably more familiar with them than I am. The support for socialism is higher than at any time in my lifetime, probably higher than at any point since the early part of the twentieth century.

You see this in contemporary politics with the Democratic Party who are two of the hottest political figures in democratic politics, Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. They’re both self-proclaimed democratic socialists. If you watch the democratic debates, you see Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren essentially taking an anti-private enterprise stance. There’s almost a reflexive hostility to anything having to do with capitalism or corporations. It doesn’t mean that those certain corporations don’t deserve criticism, but it’s a reflex. You’ve seen this rise in respect and to some of the enthusiasm for socialism and the decline in competence and capitalism. That’s a problem. Some of that is undoubtedly a result of the great in 2008. I think that the income gap between the most wealthy and the rest of the society probably had more of an effect on the general public than a lot of people on the right thought that it would.

It seems to have permeated society and the belief that the very rich are making out like bandits, the rest of us are not and so much of the gains in wealth, money from the market, that has happened. We’ve had wage stagnation from pretty much the entire part of the 21st century. Wages had been much flatter and it’s a complicated set of reasons for why that’s happened. I wouldn’t blame that on any single president. Certain deep trends are in play here, which I’m guessing you’ve covered. There seems to be a lack of faith in capitalism. That’s given rise to populism, which I’m wary about as a conservative. I think populism can often be antithetical to capitalism and it can be antithetical to reason itself.

I think it first goes to reason because I would say there’s less reason. It may be the delusion of information that’s all around us and individuals who can’t fit anything else into their head. Therefore they take the efficient approach and leverage the belief system of someone they feel is like them. It’s interesting to see how society has been wired to think a certain way and it’s not necessarily the beliefs associated with reason, debate and personal individual understanding. Its group thinking dictated by very persuasive people like your AOC and Bernie Sanders.

TWS 14 | Dynamics Of Capitalism

Dynamics Of Capitalism: It’s important for the defenders of capitalism and free-market to make those arguments and not to be dismissive toward the critics.


I think that’s right. There’s a rage at the system, the establishment of healing. It’s almost a quasi-nihilism. You see this toward capitalism and the politics in general, which is this idea that we have to burn down the village to save it. Things couldn’t be worse. Let’s just toss the whole thing aside. That’s what explains in part of the rise of Donald Trump. I’ve been a very strong and persistent critic of Donald Trump in large part on conservative grounds. What he tapped into is a sense that people wanted a wrecking ball to come in and shatter things. That’s deeply anti-conservative impulse, but he tapped into it effectively.

I’ve told friends of mine who were pro-capitalism and pro-free-market as I am. It is important to do a study or set of studies to understand what happened. What explains the loss of faith in capitalism, the rise in affinity for socialism. Both attitudes and specific episodes and incidents that explain it to understand in a thoughtful way what is driving it. What are the attitudes? What is associated with free-market and capitalism and to think through how do we tell the story? What’s the narrative? What’s the tale we have to tell to remind people why capitalism is a system that has brought so much human flourishing and then so much to encourage human dignity?

I think it was Orwell who said that the first duty of a responsible man is a restatement of the obvious. Sometimes you have to restate what’s obvious or what you thought was obvious. I’ve noticed this in life, in politics, and in economics and all sorts of realms, which is sometimes people forget to make the arguments in some fundamental way. Why is it that we believe what we believe? That’s understandable. You think that certain victories are one, that arguments are settled and you just act on that assumption. Sometimes without quite realizing it, the floor breaks and all of a sudden, that confidence that people had or that understanding those shared assumptions are gone.

I think when it comes to capitalism, it’s quite important for people who are defenders of capitalism and free-market to make those arguments. Not to be dismissive toward the critics, not to laugh at them, not to say these ideas are stupid. Therefore, it shouldn’t be repudiated. Don’t even engage in name-calling, just say socialist and hope that is enough. We have to do more fundamental work to make the case again, and in a sense to win the hearts of ordinary Americans. To explain to them why capitalism is an economic system worthy of their loyalty.

No matter how strong your argument is, it's never as strong as you think it is. Click To Tweet

Let me use some way to abstract of an example as you may use to. There is a documentary that I saw called Behind The Curve. It was essentially about this millions of people that came together stating that the world is flat. That documentary was done by a non-flat-earther. It was interesting because he took this approach and it’s a very irrational thought, but yet millions of people were gravitating toward this. It was all driven by this emotional desire that they have to fit in within a group. Usually, a group of people that don’t believe what everybody else believes. What’s fascinating to the point you just made is the individual who was doing the documentary, they interviewed astrophysicists. They were saying, “Do you know that there’s this group out there, millions of people that believe the earth is flat?”

It’s fascinating because it takes you through this psychological urge of what I think you’re speaking to because the astrophysicists in the end said that, “These people don’t know what we know, so we can’t assume that they do and make an argument from that standpoint.” You have to meet them where they’re at and why they’ve come to that conclusion. If you start to make them wrong or make them feel stupid, it’s just going to strengthen their argument. That fits within the confines of what you’ve been talking about.

That’s a very interesting observation. I’m intrigued. I like to see that documentary. That whole area does fascinate me, I must say. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the work of Jonathan Haidt, who is a marvelous moral psychologist. He used to be at the University of Virginia. He’s now at NYU. He wrote a book called The Righteous Mind. He spends a lot of time with a group called Heterodoxy, which is an effort to defend free speech on campuses against speech codes and so forth. Jonathan himself has been on an interesting journey and interesting pilgrimage. He started out as a traditional person who laughed at Progressive and is much more of a centrist. In part because of what his research has taught him. I’ve learned a lot. He’s a very intelligent, thoughtful guy and a very good guy as well.

His work on confirmation bias and motivated reasoning is outstanding. I’ve learned a lot from it and it goes to the point that you’re making. I think a lot of us believe that the positions others hold and that we hold are derived through some disinterested analysis of the facts, reasoning, and that reasoning has brought us to what we believe, free of emotion and all the rest. What we know about brain science and human nature, the more we’re looking into these things. It is so much of what we believe is a product of transrational or subrational forces. We have dispositions, tropisms, and predilections were products of our families of origin, our life experience, the people we’re around, and the communities we’re a part of.

TWS 14 | Dynamics Of Capitalism

Dynamics Of Capitalism: There is a chance to get some deeper understanding when people feel safe and when they feel heard.


That sense of fitting in with communities is extremely strong. We know from brain science that when you get information that confirms what you already believe, it’s a dopamine effect or rush. On the flip side, when there’s information that challenges certain basic assumptions, your brain puts up often a shield to block those things out. It’s genuinely uncomfortable for people to hear information that challenges them. I’d say in my own life, politics and just human relationships, that’s one area where I’ve changed. In the past when I would have differences with people, I would often write long emails, fact base, point-by-point. People who know me would think I was built to respond to some of these issues in terms of debating. Empirical evidence, premise facts to support it, conclusion.

What I’ve discovered is no matter how strong your argument is and it’s never as strong as you think it is. Let’s just assume for the sake of argument. You and I were having a debate. The case I presented against you was overwhelming by any objective standard. The odds are not only that, you wouldn’t change your position if I overwhelmed your case. You would probably, as you were indicating, dig your heels and more. It’s quite rare to shift people. I’ve seen this in theology, in the world of Christianity, in the world of politics and all sorts of world. Where there is a chance to get some deeper understanding is when people feel safe, when they feel heard. When they believe that you know their arguments and at least can state them and understand them even if you disagree with them. If there are a human connection and a human relationship, if you have in a sense standing in somebody else’s life and that will allow them to let you in and to make their case, and vice versa.

Alan Jacobs, who is a professor at Baylor used to be at Wheaton, wrote a book called How to Think. He refers to a foundation that when they conduct debates, the first thing that they require is that the people are debating. Person A states the position of person B in such a fair-minded way that person B believes that it is a fair restatement of their views and vice versa. That is the precondition before the debate goes on. If that thing happened more often, we’d get a lot further along. We know this from the social science evidence. We are as polarized as we have been since reconstruction. It’s a deeply polarized society and when that happens, people tend to go into their own camps and they shut off people who have alternative views. I think that’s happening in all realms, including in the realm that we’re talking about free-market and capitalism. That goes to the larger discussions we’re having, which is how do you make the case in a way that the people who could conceivably be open to an alternative case are.

You’re hitting on everything that has been going through my mind. What you said was brilliant. That’s where I look at just my experience and what I was trying to get to with the whole idea of central governance. People don’t like to be told what to do. There’s this fighting response to it that I think goes into what you were referring to as our unconscious or what’s built into our wiring. That right there includes a lot of when we had to survive where we don’t necessarily have to survive anymore, but yet those instincts are still there. When a person feels attacked, I would assume that it’s very similar to being attacked by the sabertooth tiger or some animal.

Human life and experience is about learning things and recalibrating new facts and conditions that arise and trying to adjust accordingly. Click To Tweet

That’s where I look at AOC and I look at Donald Trump in a way, especially where in a sense they understand psychology. They’re using what people will respond to as talking points and statements. People fall prey to it all the time. I look at the psychology side of things and going to where economics is and usually, the argument for capitalism tends to be rational thinking. I look at how human beings are wired. The majority of it’s emotional. That’s where I look at the values and principles approach has something that intrigues me as opposed to labels like capitalism, Democrats, Progressives or Liberals. It’s looking at principle as opposed to labels because the labels immediately there put you in that camp or excludes you. If you’re in the camp, you’re going to believe what the camp believes and if you’re excluded, you’re not going to believe it.

Labels exist for a reason because they label something. They identify world views, but I think that the labels by and large are probably counterproductive. Once the labels are cast out, then you’re putting people in categories, they’re putting you in categories. It becomes awfully neat, tidy and untrue. It doesn’t allow for flexibility and nuance, which is what human life and experience are about. You learn things, you refine your thinking, you recalibrate, new facts, new conditions arise and you try and adjust accordingly. If you’re in these ideological boxes, it’s very hard.

I’ve had these conversations with Trump supporters because I’m a lifelong conservative and I worked in three Republican administrations and in a Republican White House. I have a lot of friends who are Republicans. I’ve been so critical of Trump. They’re puzzled or upset by it. I’ve had a lot of conversations, many of them good. Sometimes it takes an effort to make sure that the relations don’t fray. It’s been helpful for me because I’ve been able to hear their perspective and understand where they’re coming from. I must say that there are times in which one makes an empirical claim as it relates to Donald Trump that is a criticism of him. Let’s say something about that he has lied and there’s demonstrable evidence that it’s a lie. It’s been fascinating to me how it just doesn’t breakthrough.

It is as if they think that that’s the thread and the whole thing can come apart. If they can see one thing that the whole project comes apart. I’ve experienced this throughout my life in politics, particularly when you’re in the White House. Many of the issues that you confront are complicated issues. They’re very intelligent people arguing different policies and different points of view. Often the decisions are 60/40 or 65/35. It’s not 100% arguments on one side and 0% on the other. That’s part of what discretion, judgment, prudence and wisdom is in governing. It’s the ability to hear these arguments which sound potentially equally persuasive thinking through we choose the one that is most appropriate given the circumstances we’re in. What are the contingencies that we have to anticipate but are unknowable? If you’re deciding a set of policies that you want to roll out, what’s achievable politically and not? What’s the composition of Congress? You might want to push some elements of privatization of Social Security, which you could believe is the right thing to do, but maybe it’s not achievable.

TWS 14 | Dynamics Of Capitalism

The Death of Politics: How to Heal Our Frayed Republic After Trump

Maybe you have to do something ahead of that. These are all very complicated issues to take into account. Often they are choosing one set of policies over and against another one or 60/40, but then when you get into the actual discussion, those differences disappear and that weighing of pros and cons disappears. It’s as if all the arguments are on one side and not on the other. Once you settled on a position, there seems to be some reflex that we have that says, “I can’t concede a single point to the other side because if I do it, I weaken my case and I can’t possibly weaken my case.” You have people shouting, talking points at each other, talking past each other, and refusing to engage each other and saying, “That’s a valid point. I think you’re right. I just think that the other arguments on my side outweigh the good point that you’re making.” It’s all very complicated and very challenging stuff, but I think in part explains why our politics is as broken as it is.

For the readers, I love having these conversations. Hopefully, this is valuable to you. Some of the things you’re saying, it comes down to this relation to human connection. I think all people want to connect. They want to have a relationship. At the same time, there’s this instinctive protection that they have where they want to look bad. They don’t want to be wrong because what that does is it invalidates their identity to an extent, but when you break down those walls, it’s amazing what can happen. People, either value is a value or a principle is a principle or it’s not. Most people would concede to capitalistic principles if it wasn’t labeled capitalistic principles. These are principles of life in a sense. I’ll end with this and I’ll let you have the final word. There’s something I’ve thought about, which was interesting to me.

I have little kids, two teenagers and a five-year-old. We went to the Disney Aulani Resort on Oahu. When I was there, there’s this central pool section. There were these two guys that had these big earrings, big guys with these tattoos on their arms, hardcore guys. I was able to have a conversation with them. They were there with their kids. We were in this environment in which the walls were broken down and you can have that connection, yet if I went to their neighborhood and was walking down the street at night, the environment changes, walls are up and the outcome is not going to be the same. Human beings are wired in a certain way and we want certain things. They’re very similar yet because of these walls that come up and are reinforced, it’s difficult to have the connection that’s needed in order to make even more progress.

That’s a very interesting story and I think it touches on these deeper truths that we’re talking about. An awful lot of this is what you described, which is a sense of identity. That’s basic to human beings, feeling of belonging, and feeling of community. It’s pretty rare to find people who will take stands that will put them at odds with the community that’s most important to them. That explains a lot of the political tribalism, but we’ve got to find a way to try and break down these walls you’re describing. There’s some lovely verse in the New Testament about breaking down the dividing walls that exist between people. When those walls are up, it usually means that life is going to be harsher, less sympathy, more anger, more antipathy. People begin to view other folks not as individuals that you disagree with, but as enemies at the state, enemies of your cause.

We need other people with other experiences to help us see and to understand. Click To Tweet

What can quickly kick in is the dehumanization, which is if you see things differently than I am. It’s not because you’ve analyzed things wrongly and you made an intellectual error, but you’re morally defective. There must be something wrong with you. If you don’t see things the same way I do, then you don’t value the same things that I do. In fact, you’re a threat to them. We see that in contemporary politics. We know from the data that the attitudes that Republicans, Democrats, Progressives and Conservatives have toward each other. It’s much more personal than ever before. There’s a feeling that these are not just differences of policy, but they are character flaws and faults. If you feel like you’re being attacked on that fundamental level, you’re an alien, a malicious force, a malignant force, that you want to hurt me and you want to hurt everything that I know and love. When that happens, a lot of bad stuff kicks in and we’ve got to break through that. We have to deepen the understanding and sympathy that we have for one another.

In the book that I wrote, The Death of Politics: How to Heal Our Frayed Republic After Trump. I tell a story in one of the chapters about CS Lewis and Owen Barfield. CS Lewis was a great medievalist and scholar in England. He was probably the most important Christian apologist of the twentieth century. He started a literary group in England in the 1930s. He and JRR Tolkien were the mainstays of that, but there was a person named Owen Barfield who was a British philosopher and poet and somebody that Lewis knew for many years. Lewis in his book Surprised by Joy describes what he refers to as first friends and second friends. For him, it was a person named Arthur Greeves, somebody who knew since his childhood. He said, “First friends are the individuals that when you start the sentence, they’re able to complete it. They’re your alter ego. They see the world largely the same way that you do process it the same way.” We all need that. That’s part of what human community, human attachment, human relationships bring to us. Lewis described what he referred to as a second friend and that was on Barfield. He said, “The second friend is the person who’s not your alter ego, but your anti-self.”

That’s the person who describes who reads all the same books you do and draws all the wrong conclusions from those books. He has a section where he talks about these debates that he had with Barfield and they were pretty intense. They were esoteric debates, but they were about the role of imagination and reason. Lewis says that he and Barfield would go at it hammer and tong late into the night learning the power of each other’s punches almost unconsciously beginning to absorb what the other person was saying. Out of this dog fight, a community of affection grew. The punch line was that Lewis and Barfield both treasured their relationship precisely because they took all the world somewhat differently than the other. They felt that their aperture of understanding was grayer because they had each other in their life.

Barfield later said that, “When Lewis and I debated, we didn’t debate for victory, we debated for truth.” That’s just an entirely different way of approaching dialogue and conversation, which is, “Do you have something to say where I can learn?” “Can I come out of this conversation knowing something that I didn’t before? Knowing something about you, something about the nature of the world, something about the experience that helps me see things better than I would have?” That goes back to what we were talking about, which is epistemological modesty. Even if in some abstract sense you or I were 100% correct in our understanding of a particular issue, there’s still no way that we could know the full truth and reality of things on any number of issues. That’s not within our capacity. That’s why we need other people with other experiences to help us see and to understand. If we were able to take that to heart and to incorporate it in our lives and embrace it, a lot of things in life would be better than they are.

I’ll say something to that. There’s a concept and idea that I love to use, which is three sides of a coin. Most people look at coins with two sides. There’s the edge, which is the third side. The concept is heads is one opinion, tales is another opinion, but then your opinion should sit on the edge where you should evaluate. Where are the arguments? Where the perspectives are coming from and then rationally come up with your own. I tried to look at that because you’re hitting the nail on the head with a lot of stuff we’ve talked about when it comes to perspective, what truth is, how people come to truths, and then how people change and essentially go from one side of the spectrum to another. Everything you’re hitting on is fascinating. I’d love for our audience to learn about you. Would you mind talking about your book and where they can pick that up? Also, how they can follow you. I know you are contributing to The Atlantic as well as The New York Times. Maybe talk about those outlets so that the audience can follow you.

The book that I just wrote, which was published by Harper Collins is called The Death of Politics: How to Heal Our Frayed Republic After Trump. It’s an account of my life in politics. What I’ve learned, why I believe politics is important. I think it’s a low moment and a dangerous moment, but I make the case that we need to do something about it because justice matters, and politics, it’s about a lot of things. It’s got its dark undersides as all professions do. It’s finally and fundamentally about justice. The book I wrote in less than a year, but it’s the product of a lifetime in politics. People can get that on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or any of the other outlets. I’m a contributing editor for The Atlantic Magazine. I’m a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times. I’m a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. People can follow my work there. I’m on Twitter @Peter_Wehner. I write about all sorts of issues. I’ve written about capitalism, politics, faith and friendship, and then from time-to-time, I interview people for The Atlantic. I did a couple of interviews with David Brooks on his book, The Second Mountain, and then with George Will and his book, The Conservative Sensibility. For me, it’s a lovely way to earn a living, which is for me to write, think, talk to intelligent people, and try and learn along the way.

Peter, it’s been such a joy to speak with you. This has been an awesome conversation for me and I’m hoping readers got as much out of it. Thank you again for your time. Thank you for the good that you’re doing. We’ll have to connect in the future sometime.

I’d like to do it. I enjoyed the conversation a lot. Thanks. Take care.

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About Peter Wehner

TWS 14 | Dynamics Of CapitalismPeter Wehner is the author of The Death of Politics. He is a New York Times contributing Op-Ed writer covering American politics and conservative thought and a popular media commentator on politics.

Wehner is also a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and veteran of three White House administrations.



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Mentoring And Shaping Effective Business Leaders with Tom Donohoe

TWS 13 | Mentoring Business Leaders


When asked to open a new law firm office in a different market, business leader, problem-solver, and health care attorney Tom Donohoe shares how he was able to apply basic entrepreneurial principles to establish their business. As someone who’s not averse to doing the leg work, he was able to build a client base in a new market and entice other lawyers to join the firm by running around forming relationships and connections. Together with his brother, host Patrick Donohoe, they discuss the role of mentorship in business progression. They also talk about the qualities that effective business leaders possess and how they affect positive work culture, morale, and the overall rhythm in the workplace.

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Mentoring And Shaping Effective Business Leaders with Tom Donohoe

I am with my little brother, Tom. I wanted to have Tom on because we’re going to talk a little bit about mentorship. We’re also going to talk about business rhythm and also ways in which you can identify friction in business rhythm to capitalize on opportunities. I’m going to give you an idea about why I chose this topic for the week, especially as we’re talking about entrepreneurs. First the book, we still have our free website up. It’s FreeBook.HeadsOrTailsIWin.com. You can get a free copy. All you have to do is pay for the shipping. Also if you’ve enjoyed this season, then go head over to iTunes. They’ve changed up a bunch of stuff with the podcast. Go ahead over there and give us a review. We would appreciate that. We are in Yarmouth, Massachusetts on Cape Cod. This is where my brother and I grew up during the summers. It’s been many years that we’ve been out here with our kids. It’s an amazing place. It’s going to be important for Tom to be on this episode. He is in a different industry and not necessarily the entrepreneur type of role but definitely entrepreneurial based on what he’s done with his career in law. Why don’t you introduce yourself to the audience and tell them about your background?

I’m an attorney by trade. That’s my professional path. I was in private practice for about ten years with a couple of the country’s largest health law firms. That’s where I focused. My practice has always been representing hospitals and health systems for the most part on transactional regulatory matters. A few years ago, I went in-house to a mid-size regional health system headquartered in Denver, Colorado but it has operations in Denver, Kansas and Montana. It sounds like this is an audience of entrepreneurs. I may not make sense to be speaking to that crowd given I’ve taken a little bit more of a traditional route in my career. I would say that some of the principles that I’ve applied in the entrepreneurial space, you can also apply and be equally successful in the legal space as well and some of the more traditional settings.

On that note, I did start in the traditional law firm setting. For one of the firms that I worked for the longest, I opened their Denver office. In some cases, it’s a startup, a new market, new client base, new potential for people to come in, both to join me to practice but also to receive services in that area. In that setting as part of a larger law firm, we had to act like entrepreneurs in the way that we were trying to develop a business, bringing people along and then also refine our craft. It was a great experience in doing that. I can certainly talk a little bit about that and some of the different principles we applied in doing that.

I’ve looked at the conversations we’ve had over the years and with what you see typically in the corporate world. I would say the legal world is business that is essentially in a chokehold because of clinging to old habits, ideas, ways of doing things. I remember when you started up the Denver office, it was interesting because you hit the ground running. You did things that other attorneys weren’t willing to do. You went out and do business development and establish new relationships. What was cool is even though you were in Denver, you were in Salt Lake quite a bit. You were able to establish relationships with big hospital networks out there that already had representation. You were able to go out and sponsor dinners, go to golf tournaments and network.

Ultimately, most business, especially when you’re doing business to business transactions, there tends to be frustration at times, whether it’s lack of experience, whether it’s timeliness, whether it’s focus, whether it’s organization. You’re able to capitalize on relationship opportunities because you had done a lot of that networking. When those frustrating things happened, they remembered you and remembered your firm and subsequently started to do more business with you. Talk about where did that come from. As you opened the Denver office, was it your idea to do the business development or was it something that the hierarchy up the chain was insistent on?

There’s a fundamental perception, particularly of lawyers, that there’s this body of legal work that sits out there waiting for some lawyer to do it. You go to a firm and there’s a pile of work on your desk and you are there for hour after hour doing it. That’s not the case. In some cases, it may be but in mine, it never was. It was, “Here’s an opportunity to develop a new office, a new service. We’ve got some work for you but you’re going to have to find that on your own.” It’s similar to any startup or any entrepreneur’s situation where you’ve got a new product or new service and you’re trying to find buyers and you’re trying to sell that to them, grow your business and all of that. That’s exactly what this was.

In my case, I had some foundational clients I developed relationships that I had some work, but it was going into those markets. I was in Denver for the most part but in that market, developing the relationships, pitching the service that we provided, why we do it differently, how we do it differently and why we could do it better and then expanding to new markets and doing that too. To your point, sometimes I drop into Salt Lake. I have a handful of lunches or dinners scheduled and no real prospects, but you have to grind and make those contacts time after time with people. When you’re given that opportunity, you can knock it out of the park.

It seems like a simple recipe, but I feel like that’s a recipe for success in any industry. It’s having a relationship. It’s building that relationship. It’s once you get a bite based on that relationship, being responsive and doing a good job. It’s not rocket science in a lot of cases. It’s astounding to me in any industry how unresponsiveness, lack of communication, apathy or something like that can be pervasive. For people that are willing to put in the work and to develop those relationships and to focus on those simple things, how much success you can yield by doing that.

TWS 13 | Mentoring Business Leaders

Mentoring Business Leaders: Building relationships with the people in your market and other individuals working in the same field is essential in the growth of a business.


Let’s segue into a few topics. I wanted to do this podcast with my brother because as I was thinking about what to speak, we had a couple of guests and we had some travel conflict and so we’re doing this episode on the fly. Some interesting things happened to me. I had an old business coach of mine reach out and he is an incredibly successful entrepreneur. He started several businesses. He ran over a 1,000-person publishing company. He and another individual coached me for a few years. That coaching helped me understand the importance of business rhythm and organization. This business coach reached out because he’s starting a podcast and wanted to know a couple of the ways in which his coaching impacts my business, some of the things that we’re using. It caused me to reflect on a few things.

I wanted to talk about that, but I also felt it would be appropriate to run what I had learned as some of the friction points, the inefficiencies, the blind spots of my business. I wanted to know from a corporate standpoint if there were some similarities. I didn’t brief my brother in any of this stuff. It might backfire. We will see but one of the things that’s connected with me in regard to this idea of growth as well as business progression is the whole plus-minus-equal idea. I don’t know if you know about this but plus-minus-equal is essentially where you stand. There’s always somebody that you can look to as a mentor. Someone that’s doing more than you. Someone that has more experience than you. Also, you have minus, which is someone that is coming up the ranks that you can mentor and teach.

The equal is essentially having somebody that is in a very similar situation as you so that you remain competitive. You have that type of edge. I consider the mentors that I’ve had, this individual in particular, as someone that has gone down the path that I was going. Someone that could help me see some of the pitfalls, some of the things that I would be approaching and how to essentially set up my business, set up my structure in a way where I don’t necessarily avoid them. When they’re presented, I can essentially identify the opportunity and be able to proactively respond as to impulsively react. Tom, talk about the importance of mentors to you and then also your ability to mentor others. I know that you’ve had mentees and mentors throughout your career.

The whole mentorship thing, unless you’re intentional and you seek out one that fits what you’re looking forward, is a product of chance. My first partner that supervised me was very old school. It was a sink or swim. I had very little interaction with him. At the time, I didn’t think that’s what I needed. In some case, I felt I wasn’t getting what I needed. I had expressed that and I can always remember where he would be in meetings all day and would have sent me a couple of things that he needed help with or questions he needed to be answered. He gets back to his office at the end of the hall. I slowly popped my head out of my door in my office and I gave him one look. I could tell he did not want to talk to me. I go right back to my office and hold my questions until the next day.

Making connections and strengthening relationships is the foundation of success that encompasses all industries. Click To Tweet

There were also times when it was late in the day, he was in a good mood and we could talk through some things. It was a very sink or swim type of relationship as you explained it to me a few years ago when I ultimately transitioned from that firm. I came back eventually but as I was departing, he said, “That was my style and my style was to give you as much as you could handle and then see if you can survive or if you thrive.” Fortunately, I did okay. I don’t know if thrive is the right word but I certainly didn’t sink. At that moment I resented it a little bit but as I look back, it did prepare me in my career to deal with harder personalities but not the people that coddled you or protected you.

It helped me navigate some more difficult personalities both internally at the other firms or companies I worked with but also externally as I negotiated with other parties with difficult personalities. It helped me manage those. I was very grateful in the end for that mentorship. That’s a little bit of non-traditional path. I think those are important. You can do two things by chance. You can have the mentors that you get or assigned to you and make do what you can and try to find the best benefit that you can in those relationships. You’ve got to understand the parameters of those mentors and how they operate and try to leverage what benefit you can get from those relationships.

The other way to approach it is to seek mentors not just in your companies or in your businesses but around you or the one that Patrick suggests as these plus ones that are in the industry. They’ve been successful and that’s a path that I want to follow. You get in touch with them and establish that more informal mentorship path. That’s a little bit of a roll the dice because they may have been successful, but they don’t want to teach anyone. They don’t have the patience. That’s not their personality but that’s certainly something worth exploring. As far as the minus one, my experiences with mentors or lack thereof however you characterize it has driven me to want to go above and beyond in terms of the people that report to me and that I work with on a daily basis. I’ve done that in my current role, part of the task that I was brought in to do, I was to build an in-house department. I did it in what I would characterize as a vertical way. I’m the number two attorney in my company and I developed layers beneath me.

That’s not necessarily to have a hierarchy for having a hierarchy sake but it’s so that the people with certain skill levels could have access to people that have the higher levels, with additional skills or experience that they can leverage or go to when they have challenges. It also creates a path for those people to progress. I have a particular attorney who she worked with me at the firm and then we worked a little bit together there and she ultimately left to take in-house role. I stole her back from that role and I came in and I’ve had the opportunity to try to push her as hard as I can but also be a mentor to her. We meet on a weekly basis and go through her projects, any questions, the concerns that she has. I try to push her as much as she can and I feel like she’s progressed. She’s given the feedback to me that she’s certainly stretched the most that she can but not to a point where she’s put in a position that’s going to compromise her success or make it difficult for her to be successful in her job.

TWS 13 | Mentoring Business Leaders

Mentoring Business Leaders: Mentorship can be very beneficial in determining the path you want to take in your career and in establishing your foothold in your chosen industry.


It’s interesting when you look at growth in general, just the principle of growth. You have an environment in which growth is taking place. The environment has to be conducive to certain variables. One of them is pressure because if you don’t have the pressure to perform, then you’re not going to be pushed. We also have this notion of a team where you can push the limits but yet the fear of failure, it’s not like you’ve burned all boats and you’re forced to do it, even though that could be a viable strategy. You still have team members. One of the things we didn’t talk about with regards to your background is you’ve been part of several hundred-million-dollar mergers, acquisitions, buy-outs.

These are big transactions, whether it’s hospitals merging, buying private practices, merging of private practices. These are very important transactions especially in the healthcare and the medical world because there’s so much regulation. The pressure is almost baked into the process. The idea of having a vertical is intriguing to me because you have an environment where you can’t make many mistakes. The mistakes have pretty big consequences and opportunity costs. You’re essentially entrusting someone to do work and be in that environment. You have parameters built-in so that they can fail but the failure is going to get caught so that there aren’t these dire consequences of not dotting the I’s and crossing the t’s and what that would do to the specific transaction details.

I have a couple of thoughts on that. First to your point, they’re trying to create failsafe within your structure so that people can be pushed and can go to a limit, yet they’re not too far out there that they’re exceeding their bounds. You’re right. In the legal industry, if you provide the wrong legal advice, it could potentially end up with pretty significant consequences. We don’t have a lot of room for error in most cases. That is certainly one. You also mentioned the concept of team and culture. Those can be buzzwords and clichés for different companies or if you’re reading inspirational books and all of that but they matter. I think about the department I came in and as we developed structure, one of the things we had to do was develop a culture where people were empowered to collaborate with each other. Where there were good communication and some people were good at it and some weren’t.

As you develop that culture, you lead in that respect and that’s how you act, people tend to fall in a lot of cases. To your point on a transaction, on a heart issue on something, if people are aligned and communicating, your ability to resolve any given issue or get through a transaction is increased significantly as opposed to if you’ve got internal dynamics or cultural barriers. The transaction itself could be hard and now you’re making it even harder because of the way that you are operating internally. That’s an incredibly important thing and sometimes very difficult based on the personalities that you have. They emphasize within an organization in order for it to be a success. It doesn’t matter how good the product is or the service or what you’re doing. If your culture isn’t good, you may have short-term success in some respects, but it certainly leads to the disadvantage to your long-term prospects.

There’s always someone you can look to as a mentor. Find one with a lot of experience and who can introduce you to different perspectives. Click To Tweet

Unconsciously, human beings make judgments about who they want to do business with. They don’t sit down and say, “Here’s how I want to do business.” The unconscious side of them is looking for what culture is, looking for what the relationship will be especially at those levels. At smaller levels, you can probably get away with it. At the same time, when you’re talking about big transactions, the big corporate world. In some cases, small business where you’re merging or doing joint ventures, understanding that there is that unconscious side that’s looking for, “What is this relationship going to be like?”

I know that it’s not necessarily with one person. It’s not with Tom but it’s with his offices and with his team. I remember the conversations we’ve had over the years is you’ve been at a couple of two different firms before you went to the in-house at this healthcare network or hospital network. Talk about where you saw in these big organizations some of the unintended consequences of not necessarily bad culture but let’s say maybe mediocre or stagnant culture. If you’re not growing, you’re dying. There’s not this neutral place that you can stay in. The Law of Nature compels you to grow. Talk about that briefly.

It does have consequences. The most apparent consequence is always in good people leaving. You lose good people. The firms that I’ve been, in some cases it’s to another firm. In other cases, it’s to a client. They go in-house. That’s what I did. Some of the attorneys in the firm choke that up too, that’s good. He or she went to a client and now we will get business from them. In a lot of cases, those employees are disgruntled. They don’t look at the fact that “If that person was a good person and a good asset to the firm and they left, did we do something wrong?” There’s definitely a consequence in that. That means something. If a smaller or large company has put resources and time into developing an individual and they’d become a good asset, you lose that. That’s tangible capital to the company. Maybe not in terms of dollars but that’s capital.

That’s time that’s been invested and put into that person. You now lost it and now you’re going to have to invest in someone new. The more you see movement in any industry, the more people realize that that’s certainly not a good thing all around when a person leaves. I’d say the other effect that I’ve seen or consequences of some poor cultures or some idiosyncrasies that weren’t necessarily productive in a firm or a corporation is the morale. You want people showing up. You want them making an effort. You want them engaged. You want them invested in the business. When they’re not getting the mentorship or when the culture of the department, the company or the corporation is not good, their ability to be positive and to work hard is significantly diminished. You need those people, particularly at the leadership level, to show up and influence others and to set a good tone that they can’t do that. You’re going to see some of the foundations of a company crumble because the people aren’t the foundation in a lot of cases.

TWS 13 | Mentoring Business Leaders

Mentoring Business Leaders: Individuals in the leadership level should want their people to show up, make an effort, and be engaged and invested. This can only happen if you set the tone for them as their leader.


From the business coaches that I brought on, I have two business coaches. Both happened to be women and I did that intentionally because it has provided a different perspective for me. All my business coaches of the past had been male. I’m not going to get into that right now, but I wanted to get into some of the things I thought about when it came to this particular business coach. He’s reaching out to me and me going through our notes, going through our sessions over the last several years. I stopped coaching with him a few years ago. It caused me to reflect on some of the main things that impacted my business.

This is where we will go back to this narrative that we’ve been on with culture and team. One of the biggest things that I learned from them, it was one of the first things they told me, which is the objective of the leader is to do nothing. What that means is when he was coaching me, what he was trying to say, at least that’s how I interpreted it and thought about it over the years, is that having a good team in place allowed me to do what the leader does, which is maintain the psychology of the team. I learned that the chokehold of all business comes down to the psychology of the leader or leadership. That’s where you look at if you want growth in your business. The leadership first has to grow, expand their psychology, expand their understanding of how to take a team from one level to the next level.

It’s caused me to reflect and allowed me to restructure my role in a way where I’m performing actual leadership things. It is not something that I studied or understood because I read a few books but it’s something I had to work on, which is connecting with people, building a culture, setting principles, setting values and setting business rhythm and then continually improving it. Tom, talk about that. You’ve had some leadership role being second in command at this network. You also ran the Denver office. You were a partner at the firm, which is based out of the Midwest. Talk about the good leadership that you’ve seen, the bad leadership that you’ve seen and then how you have essentially taken that information and honed in on your leadership style and how you’re leading.

First of all, fundamental to all of this is a leader’s understanding of what leadership is. It might seem that’s intuitive, but I don’t think it is in all cases. People aspire to leadership or become leaders for various reasons. Some because they want a title and they want to tell people what to do, others because of pay. Others because they understand leadership and want to be in that role and influence people.

When the work culture within a company isn’t encouraging, the employees’ ability to work hard and be positive is significantly diminished. Click To Tweet

Are you saying there’s a difference between a leadership role and a leader?

Absolutely. There’s no doubt. If there’s something I’ve seen is many people put into leadership positions that don’t know how to lead. Fundamental to any leader being successful is understanding what their role is. You talked about and I’ve reflected on it over the years as well because as a lawyer, no one pays me to be a leader. Clients, particularly in private practice, pay you for your work so you have to work twelve hours and produce good work and be competent with that. At the same time, I had leadership roles as the managing partner of an office and all of that stuff. At some point, I had to understand that in order for the office to be successful, I was going to have to take additional time to the legal work I was doing to step back and influence people in the office and see where their gaps were, where the gaps of the office were, so that we could ultimately be successful as a team as opposed to just individuals.

That’s the plight of any law firm. You incentivize an individual, for the most part, to be successful but not necessarily for the firm to be successful in all cases. What I’ve seen and that compelled me to go into an in-house leadership role because I feel like there’s a greater appreciation in some cases in the corporate world. Generally, they pay people to be leaders. You’re putting in a leadership maybe sometimes because there are the skills that you bring but also because they’ve recognized that you have leadership skills and you should be leading a team. I struggle with that at first. I said, “Why are you paying these people money to lead? They should be doing something.” I want them drafting an agreement or I want them at the table negotiating. I’ve come to appreciate that if the company be it big or small, recognizes that someone has a skill in influencing people and bringing them together as a team and helping them function at their highest level, that is something worth paying for. That’s why you may have seen the news, the CEO of GE goes to be the CEO of Johnson & Johnson where their product lines are entirely different.

I don’t know what they do but what I’ve come to appreciate is some of these CEOs transfer industries where they have no experience. They’re not getting paid because of their knowledge of that industry and in certain cases but their ability to lead and bring a company back from a certain situation that transcends industry. I give those examples because going back to some of the points that you’re making, I do think the most effective leader recognizes what their role is and what they’re there to do. They get into the work of how they do that, how they influence people, how they create rhythm within a department, within an organization so that people are functioning at their highest level. They’re happy, they’re getting the mentorship and the tools that they need to be successful. That stuff in my career I thought was intuitive but now I’ve come to appreciate it’s not, particularly as you grow the number of people in a company and the department. That tone needs to be set by an individual and then passed down to others so that those constituencies can be successful.

TWS 13 | Mentoring Business Leaders

Mentoring Business Leaders: If someone has a skill in influencing people, bringing them together as a team, and helping them function at their highest level, it is something worth paying for.


What would you say are maybe the top two to three characteristics of a leader that you have tried to embody?

First of all, the biggest character is that they have the ability to be influential and I use that word, influence. I know there are plenty of literature about this because I’ve seen some leaders who say, “I’ve got a title. I’m going to tell people what to do and they’re going to do it.” If we are all robots, that would be a wonderful thing but we’re not. You need people to join your cause to be on your side, to want to achieve the same objective you are. In order to do that, that’s influencing them. It’s scoping out the personality and say, “What is it going to take for that person to get on board and to do what we need them to do?” Sometimes that’s setting an example. You do have to get your hands dirty a little bit and do that. Once they see that, they will follow you or deploy other skills. In some cases, they’re not going to get there. It comes down to that leader making the hard decision of letting that person go for the benefit of the department, the corporation or the company, whatever it is.

The ability to influence is probably a big characteristic. Humility is another big one that is huge for me. A leader who wants to put others before themselves, wants to see others succeed, wants to see the company succeed. That leader will be successful and that’s hard. I can’t say that I’m always the best at that. That is certainly something I work towards. The humble leader that we hear, the servant leader in some cases, those are the people that want to see other people succeed. They’re the ones who will put in the work and will do the things necessary to try to accomplish something bigger than themselves. There are certain charismatic leaders throughout different industries that we hear about in the news and otherwise that they get big headlines or whatnot. They might have successful companies. I go back to that. I think eventually those companies will stagnate if the ego gets too big, if that stuff gets too big because they will lose sight of who is important to make sure that enterprises are successful.

I think it’s Confucius but it’s one of those counterintuitive paradoxical ideas. If a person looks at a leader and leaders are the ones that tell everybody what to do but that’s not the case. It was Confucius that said, “Leaders who are soft are strong.” It’s the idea where they’re able to essentially take the situation at hand, take all the emotions involved and objectively or as objective as possible analyze those and determine what to do. At the end, who is the person’s best asset and the number one thing in their life, it’s them. If the leader doesn’t understand that, then it’s very difficult for them to get them to do things past a certain point. From a long-term standpoint, being able to have a lasting impact, lasting influence. You have to understand human psychology, what makes a person tick and then evaluate if they’re in the right role.

If you want growth in your business, the leadership first has to grow to expand their psychology and understanding. Click To Tweet

We can probably talk about that, which is people that are in roles that they have no business being in. Not necessarily based on them being incompetent. They well could be but it’s not because of them as a person. It might be because of their experience. It might be because of their conation, their natural tendencies, their strengths. One of the biggest things a leader can do is to get a team together, identify certain strengths, identify the roles where they’re going to be able to operate efficiently and make an even greater impact than if it was one or two people. This is something where this business coach made me understand. It sounds so fundamental but yet I look at human nature and without this, people get super frustrated, anxious and concerned which if you combine all of those things together, you have emotions that don’t allow people to do very good work. That’s the ability to create business rhythm.

I’ve understood there’s a brainwave pattern of your flow state. It’s right in between your Alpha and your Theta. There’s this flow state where you’re able to have complete focus. You have no distractions. It’s like you’re in that zone. I look at business rhythm. An ideal business rhythm is creating the structure in which a team operates, which has that very flow-like state. Talk about where you’ve seen clunky rhythm, maybe some of the previous firms where stuff didn’t get done. It wasn’t because people were incompetent but because this person didn’t know what that person was doing or what this step was or there wasn’t necessarily guidance by leadership. Talk about some of the clunky situations, the friction you’ve seen in the past. Also talk about some of the good business rhythms and then maybe how you’ve taken your new role in the last few years and established your team and established its rhythm.

In terms of where I’ve seen some clunkiness or some disruption in rhythm or barriers to establishing any rhythm, to begin with. It goes back to these organizations that I’ve either been involved with or they’ve been clients, whatever, where I’ve seen a fractured state of operations and leadership. There are certain functions within an organization that are dissatisfied. Maybe its marketing is always unresponsive and they don’t send the right stuff or they’re not up to par as similar competing organizations or your HR function is not helpful. There are these constituencies or services that reside within a company that seems to exist and no one seems to pay attention to them. That gets people frustrated and other things so that they can’t do their jobs or it ruins their day. You get out of the rhythm of sorts. As I’ve seen organizations overcome that, it’s been around first identifying that. You’ve got to have the appropriate feedback loops, whether it’s leadership or operators that understand how those different constituencies and the disruption that they’re causing are being disruptive.

The things we’re talking about are not intuitive for people. I keep on using that word as if everyone speaks the same language. I don’t think it is. People complain about HR and most people, leaders and otherwise saying whatever, that’s HR, marketing, “We’ll fix that, but we like our guy and that’s our guy and that’s how it is so deal with it and grow up.” That’s an antiquated philosophy. The more sophisticated leaders, the more sophisticated managers will step back and say, “As I look into different pieces within my organization, where are the barriers? What are the sources of frustration?” It’s not just identifying and say, “Go fix that.” We all have jobs. We all spend a lot of time. It’s not like you can tackle it all in the first place or one single meeting or get together and everyone’s good and you’ve re-established where you need to be.

TWS 13 | Mentoring Business Leaders

Mentoring Business Leaders: Feedback helps you identify the gaps that disrupt workflow.


They’re like, “We’ve got one issue. We’ve got five or six issues and five or six got pieces that maybe disruptive. Let’s take this one. Let’s look at it, let’s fix it, then we will get to the others as well.” It’s having a plan to do that. We do an example, I set this up as we have some standing meetings within our department which we call legal operations meeting and we’ve done exactly that. We’ve said, “What are the things in our day that are challenging? Is it our contracting processes? Are our IT flat boards conducive in helping us do the work that we do?” This group of us are going to be meeting to identify those particular pieces that are creating barriers within our department. We’re going to fix them, move on to the next one and then the next one so that we can create those efficiencies and create that rhythm that I think gives us the job satisfaction and gives us the tools that we need to be successful.

Most people become overstaffed because of bad rhythm.

Throw more people at it. To me, identifying what the fix is. Most people have the dumbest solution that I’ve seen as well but it’s understanding the process, thinking through it and then taking the steps to fix it.

A very well-created and then managed the business process, your start to finish whatever that flow looks like. When there are hand-offs in between these impact points of each department or business unit as you have handoff, it’s the clear understanding of both the party that’s giving and the party that’s receiving. That is typically where you find the most friction. If you don’t have a clear understanding, then it bottlenecks everything else going forward, especially if you have ten processes through your business process or your business flow. As you look at entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship interestingly enough is finding friction. All wealth and opportunity exist where there’s friction. Whether that’s making travel more convenient, whether that’s making communication more convenient, entrepreneurs are always looking for friction. What I find fascinating and it’s very ironic where most entrepreneurial-driven businesses fail because of their own friction.

That is the failure to understand what the business process is and assume that everybody else knows what it is. Properly documenting it, properly managing it, improving it, that requires a series of meetings and a series of reporting and objective measurements of what is expected, what is being handed off. The feedback loop that you mentioned, Tom, is as important in a very small two to five-person office or 5,000-firm if there’s more of it. Typically, those rhythms are very much the same. There are a few other things I wanted to get into, but I want to say that for another time. Thank you for reading. Tom, thank you. We will see you next time.

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About Tom Donohoe

TWS 13 | Mentoring Business LeadersTom Donohoe is a proven leader, problem solver and teamwork-oriented health care attorney who focuses on assisting business partners and clients in achieving their goals in a compliant manner consistent with their mission, vision and values.

Tom advises health care providers on a wide range of transactional and regulatory matters, including hospital/physician joint ventures, physician practice acquisitions, physician alignment and clinical integration. Tom also assists health care providers in complying with the Stark Law, Anti-Kickback Statute and other fraud and abuse laws and regulations.

Presently, Tom is located in Denver, Colorado where he is serving as associate general counsel for a regional health system. Tom graduated cum laude from Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in 2008 with a concentration and honors in health care law. He is admitted to the bar in Indiana and Colorado.


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Mid-Season Recap: Lessons On Entrepreneurship

TWS 12 | Lessons On Entrepreneurship


We are only halfway through the season, and we have been learning a number of great things from numerous guests on our theme of entrepreneurship. In this special episode, host, Patrick Donohoe gives a recap of the main core principles from the season so far. Calling back the past seasons’ themes, he weaves these lessons into capitalism and 2018’s life, liberty, and the pursuit of property. Don’t miss out on this great wisdom compiled and delivered to you, and learn more about defining what you want and valuing the power of relationships and the power of your state.

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Mid-Season Recap: Lessons On Entrepreneurship

This is going to be a mid-season recap of our theme. We still have a few more interviews to do regarding our theme of entrepreneurship. 2019 has been crazy for me. I usually have to travel maybe once a month or so for different conferences and speaking engagements. At the end of 2018, I had an incredible experience with one of Tony Robbins’ events, the Date With Destiny event. I was compelled to immerse myself in that culture. It’s been a wild ride. I’ve been to a handful of events so far. I’m recording this in July of 2019 and I have one event every month until the end of the year. It’s going to be an even crazier and busier travel schedule. I’m learning so much. I had felt compelled to review a lot of the main core principles that we’ve been learning this season from the guests on entrepreneurship and weave them into our previous themes on capitalism and in 2018, life, liberty and the pursuit of property. They all weave into one another. In the end, they provide something that I would like to focus a lot of my thoughts on now.

Main Takeaways From Events

Let me first step back and talk about some of my main takeaways from all of the events that I’ve gone to and the coaching that I’ve had. I have two business coaches now. There are two female business coaches, which is a much different dynamic than the coaches I’ve had in the past. The guests that I’ve been so fortunate to interview this year. I’ve broken down and summarized my takeaways into three things. First is to define and discover what you want. The second is the power of relationships. The third is the power of your state. I’m going to get into the details of all three of those. These came to me almost immediately. It was incredible. I’ve learned things about business finance, the mechanics of the different focus points and impact points of your business and how to have maximum growth with the least amount of improvement. I’ve learned things about tax strategy, other aspects of wealth strategy and all of these different things.

It’s not just me observing my business and myself. It’s also observing others’ businesses. That’s one of the main benefits I’ve gotten from this Platinum Partnership group with Tony Robbins. I’ve been exposed to thousands of other successful business owners. I’ve experienced what they’re going through, their struggles and their chokeholds. It has allowed me to summarize. I thought of these three things almost instantly. I believe that if you don’t understand these three things, you’re going to discover them eventually. I’ll put it that way. This is not based on my fourteen years of experience as an entrepreneur. It’s now my experience with thousands of people, both with the clients who I get to work with and my team gets to work with, as well as going to different conferences. It’s hearing stories, hot seats and much more successful than I am business owners and what they struggle with. Let me start with the first one.

Takeaways From Platinum Partnership: Discovering What You Want

I’ll start with a story. One of the conferences I went to, which is an advanced business mastery course and this was one of Tony’s smaller events. It was in Amsterdam. It was for five days. There’s an extra day exclusively for the Platinum Partnership. Most of the crowd was from outside the United States. It was amazing to see all of the different translators in the back and the languages that the event was being translated into. This was a smaller amount of people. There were probably 3,000 or so people there. It’s still a big number, but relative to some of his other conferences, it was much smaller. The last day was where this story comes from. This was a business owner who was in South America. He owned a big piece of real estate and business that had to do with the shipping port of Uruguay. He was part of a hot seat.

Oftentimes it’s easy for us to look at somebody else’s business and make recommendations than our own. Click To Tweet

One of the things that Tony and Jay Abraham did on the last day of this Platinum Day was known as a hot seat. They gave the opportunity for anyone to go to the mic and talk about some of their struggles in business. We’ve already done several days with twelve to fourteen hours of all business that spoke to every single thing that everyone who got to the mic and did a hot seat talked about or had a struggle with. Despite being able to have the education in the previous sessions, you still had these same struggles. It was interesting.

This guy, in particular, he had to raise $7 million to finish a building that had to do with his contract renewal for this shipping company that he had. He was not able to answer some of the basic questions. What came out of his mouth was all why he couldn’t do something, not how he could do something. It’s a very simple shift in language. The thing that hit me is when either Tony or Jay Abraham asked him the question of, “What do you want out of your business?” He couldn’t answer that. It hit me hard. To conclude this story, he got to the mic and wasn’t able to articulate what he wanted. Also, he was making excuses for why he couldn’t raise this amount of money.

Based on the revenues and success of his company and the money he was trying to raise, $7 million, it was like a drop in the bucket. Tony said something interesting to him. He went face-to-face with this guy and said, “I will write you a check right now. Pitch me on your business,” and the guy couldn’t do it. As he is talking through his issues, another thing occurred to me. Oftentimes, it’s easy for us to look at somebody else’s business and make recommendations, be a consultant and know what they could do to improve this, that or the other. When it comes to your own business, because you are in it and that’s where I think the whole, “Working in your business versus working on your business,” is used so often because of how challenging that is.

I’m not placing any type of judgment on this guy. I just found it fascinating. There are so many blind spots that I have met with the business that I have been discovering. With this individual, he had a guy that would give him money right there but he did not have the wherewithal, the state, the understanding, the knowledge and the basics of any business to be able to tell Tony why he should put his money there. The conversation went on and he got the nuggets he needed to go back. They even made him make a commitment regarding it that they were going to follow-up with him on. There are chokeholds in a business.

TWS 12 | Lessons On Entrepreneurship

Lessons On Entrepreneurship: The chokehold of any business is the psychology of leadership.


What I discovered about most businesses and myself is that the chokehold of any business is the psychology of leadership. A few years ago when I was having some cultural issues with my business, we had to let a bunch of people go and other people quit. All this happened within a few months. It was crazy. It made me doubt my abilities and myself. I had those feelings of insecurity. I didn’t step up as a leader. I looked at the psychology of my culture. It wasn’t until now where I connected the dots to the growth of my culture, my business and what I want to do in life first has to start with my psychology. It has to be there. My influence and leadership abilities have to be there before I expect my team or anyone within my stewardship to step up and represent that psychology or culture.

I realized and recognized a lot of limitations in myself. Now, I’m focused on my personal growth as a leader. That’s why these business coaches have been extraordinary in helping point out my weaknesses, my blind spots, to help me up my game as a leader. As I do that, the game and psychology of my team will subsequently rise. That’s the theory. It sounds awesome in theory. I do believe in that principle though and that’s why I put so much emphasis and resources behind that, especially for myself. Whether you’re an entrepreneur and working for a company, it doesn’t matter. Sit down and define what you want. Write it out. Let’s say you’re in your car and you’re going to start thinking about what you want. I’m not saying that at all. This is maybe a good tactic.

Tony Robbins has this exercise. If you go to his website, which is TonyRobbins.com/priming, he takes you through his exercise. It takes about ten minutes of breathing exercise and a visualization exercise. This puts you into this state of mind where you are thinking clearly. There’s nothing going on around you. Maybe put some noise-canceling headphones on while you’re doing this. In that state, ask yourself some questions, “What do I want professionally? What do I really want?” It’s not what you don’t want like, “I don’t want to stay at this company. I don’t want to be in this position.” It’s, what do you want? “I want this position. I want this type of company. I want this type of lifestyle.”

Once you connect with that, think through why. There’s this exercise known as the Seven Levels of Why. I don’t know if you always have to use seven levels, but ask yourself based on the answer you give. “I want to make a $500,000 a year.” Why? “It will allow me to provide this type of lifestyle for my family.” Why do you want that? “I care about my family. I want to provide them good experiences. I don’t want to have financial anxieties.” Why don’t you want financial anxieties? Why do you want to provide this type of lifestyle for them? Keep going and write all that stuff down. You’re going to get to this core why of what you want. Typically, it’s going to be, “I want to be happy. I want to have an adventure.”

Relationships are hardwired into who we are. Click To Tweet

It’s going to narrow down into something very simple. I’ll end with that first takeaway which is discovering what you want. It doesn’t have to be, “I want to make this amount of money. I want to have this type of position or this lifestyle.” You’re going to achieve that. You have to believe and want it. Write it down first, but you’re going to want stuff beyond that. This is one of those infinite game types of principles where just because you come up with it and achieve it, it doesn’t mean that that’s it. It’s going to be this never-ending pursuit. Start with something and once you connect to that, make a decision that it’s what you want.

The Idea Of Proximity

The second thing I want to talk about is something that I have experienced for quite a long time with business, family, extended family and friendships. It’s the idea of proximity. There’s a saying, “Proximity is power.” That is the nature of relationships. Relationships are hardwired into who we are. If you go back to a part of our heritage, our ancestry which is in our DNA, people weren’t alone. They were always together. They ate together around the campfire. If you go back thousands of years, archeologist will always go to where people ate. That’s where they found all this stuff. People gathered. How that happened over and over again built itself into what we desire. I believe that if you work hard enough and you repeat and have these behaviors, people can be happy by themselves.

Do you want to go against thousands of years of our ancestry? People want to be with people. I look at all the opportunities that I’ve had. It has come as a result of relationships. However, relationships also have some characteristics, healthy relationships. It’s not about how to do something, how to invest here, how to set up your tax strategy this way or how to become this. It’s who and this whole idea of proximity. I believe in the six degrees of separation these days is probably two or three. It has probably been cut in half. It’s looking at how important reputation is, how important it is to have integrity. Do the right thing. Put other people first, which is not a natural principle. As much as we’re meant to be around other people, being in groups and want relationships, we also have these fears and anxieties of being taken advantage of.

We’ve had these fear and anxieties of what people will think and say about us. That means a lot. Social media is a perfect example. We’re all connected in theory, but people lack connection more these days than any time in history. It’s this idea about understanding the value of relationships and putting yourself around good people. That’s one of the main reasons why I wanted to immerse myself this year in this group. Probably 80% of the stuff that Tony Robbins talks about, does and believes, I’m all in. The 80% is what I focus on. I don’t care about the other stuff. The other stuff maybe because I don’t understand.

TWS 12 | Lessons On Entrepreneurship

Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: A Financial Strategy to Reignite the American Dream

Looking at the group of people that are all there paying a large amount of money, spending a lot of time away from their families and businesses to commit themselves to grow personally, I wanted to be a part of that group. I realized that this immersion would help me become a better husband, father and leader. It’ll allow me to focus on my psychology, my state of being, my happiness and my physical wellbeing. If that wasn’t taken care of first, the experience I have with showing up for my family, business, friends or any other role that I play in life will be less than what my potential and what I could do. That’s where I connected the dots. This is a time where I am able to immerse myself in new relationships. I’m able to be around people that are driven like me and learn certain things. I’m able to make connections and contribute in a way that I may not be able to contribute to others. It made so much sense to me. Now I’m paying a huge amount of money to do it.

I’m taking up pretty much my entire year with the goal of achieving this state of personal development, as well as an improvement or enhancement of my leadership abilities. It’s been incredible. I’ve had so many breakthroughs. I’ll use an example. I was talking to someone about Donovan Mitchell. He is a professional basketball player for the Utah Jazz. I’ve talked about it before on the show. He was either a runner up or the Rookie of the Year. 2018, he had an incredible season. He had a shoe named after him now. His nickname is The Spida. He did this commercial with Tom Holland about his shoes. Don Mitchell has his own shoes with Adidas now. He’s not just an amazing player, he’s an amazing person. How do you know that? I don’t know him personally.

I’ve met him a couple of times. How do you know he’s a good person? He does a lot on social media. If you are on social media, follow this guy. It’s amazing. He has gone to some of the Utah football games like the University of Utah, Utah State Games and local basketball games. He walks around town. He never denies a signature or a photograph. He makes it fun. He’s so approachable. When they lost to the Rockets in the last game one evening, we were bummed. The next morning, my wife was at Target, which is down the road from us. It’s halfway between where I live and where downtown is where Donovan Mitchell lives and a lot of the Utah Jazz. Cynthia saw him at Target. She and her friend got a picture with him and were talking with him.

Donovan Mitchell has this personality. I don’t know if he designed it or he was raised that way. I had a conversation with somebody that contrasted that with John Stockton. He was probably one of the more famous Utah Jazz in the past. John Stockton was a prick. He did not talk to people and give autographs. This person was telling me that he used to go to this bread store. He would wait in his car for everybody to leave and then would get out and buy bread. You have Donovan Mitchell who’s been incredible. The culture of the Utah Jazz, the season tickets are almost sold out. My point is that the person you show up as is what makes a massive difference to others.

The person you show up as is what makes a massive difference to others. Click To Tweet

In my book, Heads I Win Tails You Lose, one of the stories I put in was about LeBron James and how he treats his status as a brand, as a business. Is that the angle that Donovan Mitchell has taken? Maybe or maybe not. The idea is if you can connect with people. People are what provide the highest degree of happiness, fulfillment and achievement. Without people, it would be a pretty miserable world. I look at what we can do as human beings, as individuals. We’ve all had crap happened to us. We’ve all had these reasons to not play full out. We’ve had failures. We have our insecurities, inadequacies and weaknesses. This is where I come to the last point I’m going to make, which is controlling your state. This has to do with how you show up in those relationships and what has those relationships thrive.

The Idea Of The State

I’ll give you a couple of examples of some relationships. I can talk about this principle with some stories. The idea of the state is a big thing that I learned at one of these other conferences that Tony Robbins puts on, which is called Unleash the Power. This is something that hit me. I grew up as an introvert. I was shy. I never had a serious relationship with a woman until my wife and I’ve been married for several years now. I grew up where there were some events of my life that made me shyer and more introverted. I wasn’t expressive. I was afraid of what people thought or say. There was some fear built up based on experiences. I had repeated those stories over and over and it affected me. There were some events that caused me to break out of my shell. It’s one of those things where I’ve connected to the control that I have over how I show up, my state right now and if you think about everything that you will ever want. I’m talking more materially, whether it’s the salary amount, a job or a lifestyle that you want.

The only reason why you want those things is that you think it’s going to produce a certain state. I look at the control that we have over defining a beautiful state that we can live in without those things. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t want those things. Having an adventure and experiencing life, there’s being able to travel and go to events like the ones I’ve been talking about. Being able to take vacations, even something as simple as that requires financial resources. I get that. At the same time, what makes that so much easier is understanding what your state of mind and being consists of and figuring a way to put yourself in that state as often as humanly possible. Let me talk briefly about that.

The first is a triad. The first principle of that triad is your focus. You can always look at the glass as half full or half empty. Every experience that happens in life can be construed as good or bad. In the life that we live, people would kill. They would die. They would walk across the desert. They would do that to be in the United States. That is something that we could wake up and be way more grateful for than we usually are. Be grateful for the time in which we live. We don’t have to worry about the things that people had to worry about 100 years ago. One hundred years ago, people were working their ass off during this time of year so that four months from now, they wouldn’t be freezing on the brink of dying.

TWS 12 | Lessons On Entrepreneurship

Lessons On Entrepreneurship: Paying attention to our physicality or physiology is huge when we want to live a beautiful life and a beautiful state.


We don’t have to worry about that these days. We have so many things that are part of life that we take for granted. That sounds super cliché, but if you think about it, we could focus on something as simple as that. The feeling of gratitude, being able to understand and acknowledge that, helps us to see our experiences, whether it’s today or tomorrow, from a different perspective. That allows us to experience a different state and different degree of happiness, fulfillment and so forth. That’s the first, is focus. The second is physiology. It is your physical wellbeing. When I look at physiology, something’s connected with me. I want to do more research here. I look at all the different experiences we’ve had in our life. They’re all in us somewhere.

We can’t remember them all, but part of our unconscious mind is that most of that stuff is there. Most of our life is on autopilot like our heart beating, reactions to things and language. We use the same words. We say the same phrases. We have these very similar thoughts over and over. A lot of our life is on autopilot. Much of that is with our physical body. Our body is taking care of itself without us giving direction to it. I look at how repeated the behaviors are, whether it’s the language we use, the things we say, the things we tell ourselves. How we show up has been programmed into our habits. Those habits continued to be reinforced over and over again.

Looking at focus is one of the first ways in which you can start to reprogram your habits. The second thing is looking at your physical wellbeing. A lot of those things are built into our nervous system. We react to things that way. When somebody says this or does this, we react this way. It’s there. As far as controlling our state as we start to focus on different things, paying attention to our body, especially our stature, smiling, chest up or shoulders back. There are several things that, if you understand body language, tell the person what you’re feeling without you saying anything. That’s why nonverbal communication is 93%. It’s your feet position, shoulders, eyes, chest, smile, and frown or where you look. There are all these tells that FBI agents and interviewers know to a T but we don’t know those but they’re built into us. Paying attention to our physicality or physiology is huge when we want to live a beautiful life and a beautiful state.

The final thing is language, which are the words that we use. I can’t remember what the statistic is, but we have a set of vocabulary that we consistently use. We all know what the positive words are and what the positive tonality is. We know what the negative words are and the negative tonality. As much as we control our focus, we control how we define that focus, which is typically in words and language. When you define an experience or your physical state, when you put an adjective on something and start to describe something, you can easily say that it’s negative as you can positive. Most people, because of these survival instincts that are within us, our fear of being and what people will say, protection to our self-esteem, we typically will use negative patterns. Those affect our positive state. In the end, this may sound woo-woo to you and it probably is. This is what I’ve been going through. I’ve taken all of these experiences that I’ve had, thousands of conversations over the last six months and boiled them into these three things, which I have connected as the most important to me.

Every experience that happens in life can be construed as good or bad. Click To Tweet

I look at the pursuit of an entrepreneur, all the different people that I’ve interviewed, both in the season on capitalism and this season on entrepreneurship. You’re going to see the same theme throughout, which is people overcoming certain things, digging down deep. They may have not articulated what I have here, but I look at the power of relationships, the power of controlling your state, making certain decisions and difficult moments and in the end, understanding what you want. I’ll go back to that relationship story I was going to tell you. I was in Dallas for UPW, the Unleash the Power Within, which is a Tony Robbins event. Instead of coming home the last day, I drove down to Austin and did a video interview with someone that I’m doing some joint venture type of marketing with.

Pursuit Of Entrepreneurship And Relationships

I’ve known this individual for several years. I met him because another business associate friend of mine, we were having dinner with a very famous entrepreneur author in Austin several years ago. We decided to invite this individual. He expressed a lot of gratitude since then to us for inviting him. It was an amazing dinner. It was a lot of cool and amazing conversation. Over the course of time, we’ve talked back and forth. We have some mutual contacts and connections and I decided to maintain that. It led to a business opportunity. That’s what we’re pursuing now. This time when I was in Austin after we were done with the video shoot, we were going to go to dinner because I was leaving the next day. We ate at this amazing restaurant. The food was incredible. This individual asked if I wanted to invite anyone that I knew in Austin. Almost immediately, a person came to mind.

This individual, I’ve known for several years as well. I had an immediate bond and connection with him when I first met him. He happened to be the guy who bought the very first copy ever of Rich Dad Poor Dad. He’s writing a book with Robert Kiyosaki. I’m going to interview him. I knew he was in Austin. I didn’t know where. I reached out to him. I’m like, “I’m doing this dinner. I’m here just for the night. We’re doing it at this place.” The place happened to be within the same complex as his office and about five minutes from where he lived. He had barely, within the hour just got home from a writing retreat that he did at his place in Colorado in the mountains. We had about an hour of conversation. I was able to bring these two people together. Even though they didn’t know each other, I’ve created two additional networks.

It was such a powerful conversation. The nature of the conversation had to do with, “How can I help you out? I can do this for you.” It was an incredible experience. Never underestimate the power of relationships. You don’t know who people know. You don’t know who people will become. The greatest mistake I’ve made as a business owner and as an individual over the past is failing to recognize the importance of relationships. Over the last few years, this has been something that I’ve been so driven by, which is, “How can I create value for more people? How can I help here? How can I connect this? How can I influence this?” It’s not, “What do I get out of it?” It’s, “How do I bind people, help people and provide value?” I never called it proximity is power or the power of relationships, but I’ve always believed that people are assets.

TWS 12 | Lessons On Entrepreneurship

Rich Dad Poor Dad

There’s always something to gain by having healthy relationships. A lot of the business failures that I’ve seen over the course of time are those that don’t care about their reputation and don’t care about others, “It’s all about me.” I get it. We all have this need to be significant and see ourselves as important in the world. If you look at the John Stockton principle, when you express that, whether it’s overtly or covertly, covertly in his case, it never ends well. You build a reputation where people don’t want to have a relationship. Those are the three things. This show revolves around business, ideas, taking those ideas and bringing it to fruition, but I thought it would be good for me to say what’s up and tell you about what I’ve been doing over the last several months. Weave in some of the things I’ve been learning and what they have to do with entrepreneurship.

I have been happier over the last couple of months than I have in a long time. I associate that with what I’ve discovered about myself and these three principles, defining what you want, understanding and believing in the power of relationship and wanting to be around the who and not how. It’s, “Who can help you do this?” and not, “How do I do this?” It’s who’s already done it and building relationships where you may not have a value from that individual for years. You never know. It’s also the state. I have 60-plus employees. I have a lot going on. We have thousands of clients. There’s always something. I was gone. When I come back, there was a toilet that leaked on the fourth floor and trashed all of my marketing books. I probably have a hundred books that now toast. This stuff is going to happen, but I choose how I react to that. It didn’t affect me the slightest.

Sometimes I look at what impacts us and how we can control it and control and understand our state of being and put ourselves in the most beautiful state possible as often as possible. You’re going to see that. That’s going to impact the relationships you have with people, the goals that you set and your success. I hope you got something out of this episode. I’ve made some offers with the book in the previous episodes. If you want to go pick up the book, it’s FreeBook.HeadsOrTailsIWin.com. We’re giving the audiobook for free if you buy the physical copy. You are amazing. Thank you so much for your support. I’ve been getting tons of good feedback for some of the episodes, videos and interviews. Keep them coming. The podcast is at ParadigmLife.net. I hope you’re enjoying this season on entrepreneurship. We get some cool interviews coming up. Make sure you stay tuned to future episodes.

If you are new, we did three seasons. We did all of 2018 based around John Locke who was an influential philosopher several hundred years ago and coined the term, “Life, liberty and the pursuit of property,” which became the pursuit of happiness in the declaration of independence. We did a season on life, a season on liberty and a season on the pursuit of property. You can go check those interviews out. That was such a fun year. The first four months of 2019, we did our theme on capitalism. Now, we’re doing on entrepreneurship. I’m not sure what we’re going to do for the third season of the year. I have some ideas. Thank you so much for your support. That’s it. Thanks. See you soon.

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