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Through self hatred all things are possible. – Tom Bilyeu
Without clarity of vision and clarity of purpose nothing else exists – Ben Pakulski
Today’s guest is truly in a category of his own. A man who fundamentally believes that human potential is limitless.
Tom Bilyeu, co-founder of the billion dollar startup Quest Nutrition — and co founder and host of the wildly growing show Impact Theory shares a very fascinating conversation with Ben about all things mindset, perspective, discipline and success.
What You Will Learn:
- How to leverage self hatred to fuel your ambitions and propel you towards your goals.
- The best way to learn anything.
- Tom’s spiritual practices, habits and routines.
- What #ttfubc is?
- The story behind 25 things you need to do to succeed at the highest level.
More On Tom:
Tom Bilyeu is the co-founder of 2014 Inc. 500 company Quest Nutrition — a unicorn startup valued at over $1 billion — and the co-founder and host of Impact Theory. Tom’s mission is the creation of empowering media-based IP and the acceleration of mission-based businesses. Personally driven to help people develop the skills they will need to improve themselves and the world, Tom is intent to use commerce to address the dual pandemics of physical and mental malnourishment.
Tom regularly inspires audiences of entrepreneurs, change makers, and thought leaders at some of the most prestigious conferences and seminars around the world, including Abundance 360, A-fest, and Freedom Fast Lane. Tom has also been a guest on the Tony Robbins podcast and The School of Greatness podcast and has been featured in Forbes, Inc., Success, and The Huffington Post. Tom is currently on the Innovation Board of the XPRIZE Foundation.
- 2:20 – The beginning of Tom’s entrepreneurial journey.
- 8:30 – Using adaptive stress to construct an unbeatable mindset.
- 10:55 – The catalyst for change that started it all for Tom.
- 13:10 – Falling in love, laying in bed for three hours and feeling disgusted.
- 15:50 – The worst thing that ever happened to Ben.
- 17:00 – The best way to learn anything.
- 18:50 – Staying hungry when you have it all and playing at the highest level.
- 19:50 – How to find your passion.
- 20:30 – Tom’s vision while at Quest and now with Impact Theory.
- 24:00 – Using narrative to engineer massive change.
- 26:50 – The book that completely changed Tom’s Life.
- 28:45 – Using rituals to define pivotal moments
- 30:15 – Anchoring events and experiences for a lasting change in your mindset and character.
- 32:50 – Tom’s spiritual practices, habits and routines.
- 34:55 – Quantum entanglement. Are we all in the matrix?
- 40:43 – What your brain is making up. Seeing things that aren’t really there.
- 44:50 – Tom’s #1 piece of advice for everyone.
- 45:40 – Tom’s superhuman set of habits and beliefs that shape his reality.
- 50:30 – Tom’s daily routine. Meeting yourself in times of suffering.
- 53:15 – #TTFUBC and the story behind. Discipline. Man up.
- 55:15 – Key lessons learned from the 0 to $1,000,000,000,000 with Quest.
- 58:20 – The 25 things you need to do to succeed at the highest level and Where to get it. (link below)
- 1:01:05 – Optimizing time. How Tom prioritizes his time and dominates everyday.
- 1:03:00 – Think-a-tation, more routines and email.
- 1:08:40 – The genie analogy and an awesome question to ask when hiring.
Follow Tom & Impact Theory
BEN: Hey ladies and gents, welcome back! Ben Pakulski, the host of the Muscle Expert podcast. Yet again, an amazing guest, someone who’s inspiring me over the most recent months. This guy has taken himself from what he calls a lazy human being, to creating a multi-billion-dollar company, and I think he’s done it all by claiming exclusive ownership for everything he does. And he’s done some incredible things, he’s doing some incredible things; as well as what inspires me the most is the attitude of ‘I can do it’, and ‘stop feeling sorry for yourself’. Get your ass out of bed and get shit done.
Mr. Tom Bilyeu, it’s really a pleasure and an honor.
TOM: Thanks for having me, I’m excited to be here.
BEN: So this is a bit of a divergence as you can guess, from the Muscle Expert podcast, but as I said, it’s an upgraded modern man mission, right? As I started the Muscle Expert podcast in 2013 when I was a professional bodybuilder, I’ve since left and changed my focus to how can I live my greatest life and how can I help leverage my platform and help other guys live their greatest life.
So my passion now is health optimization and helping people get out of their own way; you know, eliminate their limiting beliefs – which I know you’re big on. People are their worst enemy, you are exactly where you are in your life based in where you believe you should be. And I’d love for you to talk about that because I’ve most things you’ve done over the last number of months, and I know you talk a little bit about the fixed versus the growth mindset – you know, the Carol Dweck theory, and just overcoming your limiting beliefs.
So I’d like for you to start by telling people a little bit about where you were 15 years ago and where you’ve come from, because people want to hear that stuff. Everybody says you came from this, you came from that, you’re just naturally successful or you’re born into it, maybe you’re a born-entrepreneur – I know you talk about that. Talk about that stuff and give people a little bit of a history and some insight as to who Tom really is.
TOM: Cool man, I think that’s a really good place to start. So, as you said, I’m not a born-entrepreneur. And to me that’s like saying you’re a born bodybuilder; like, maybe you have a frame or something, but at the end of the day you’ve got to lift a whole lot of weights and learn about nutrition,. You have to push yourself, you have to find out what your personal limit with pain is and really continue to push that threshold back.
So I’m not a big believer in we’re born one way or we’re not, it really comes down to what world are you going to construct for yourself? What are you going to do to your mind to empower yourself and what skillset are you prepared to acquire? And that is unfortunately things that I’ve had to learn the hard way.
So growing up, my parents taught me to be a good employee; which means keep your head down, do as little work as possible and avoid punishment at all costs. That’s really where I started and that was my view on the world at one point after college. I considered myself the king of remedial jobs, and I said that with pride, and I thought that was really clever – not realizing that that was a fixed mindset. It was me wanting to be the smartest person in the room, priding myself on being smart and right. And to protect that and make sure I was the smartest person in the room, I had go into dumb and dumber to really make sure that I was protecting that ego.
And finally just realizing that I had these grand ambitions, I wanted to be a filmmaker, I wanted to be playing on the global stage, but being the king of remedial jobs, being lazy, lying in bed for 3 hours every morning – like, none of that stuff was leading me anywhere. And it really was a collision I had in college where I realized I was not a talented filmmaker, that I needed a new belief system just to not be depressed. And as I tried to really think about what had happened, what it meant to be talented or not talented, what could you learn like where the limits of teachability and adaptability; and in that process began to realize one that reading was transforming my life (which I started really to do well in college and that was the beginning of my reading) and then reflecting back I’ve already come a long way, how much farther can I go.
I ended up teaching filmmaking not long after college, and in doing that began to watch how my students were growing. I was like, “Okay, they’re encountering your ideas, they’re changing fundamentally as artists,” so that really helped me reflect back. I think there’s a few things that people have in their heads that are just immutable truths, they are born with you or not, like art and singing etc., and now most terrifyingly being an entrepreneur. It drives me nuts that people are reinforcing that that’s something you’re wither born with or not.
Now look, I’m not saying that we don’t come out with predispositions. There are just certain things that some people are going to take to more easily than others. But working hard is going to win out over talent that doesn’t work hard every time. Think about the most genetically gifted bodybuilder you’ve ever met; if they don’t put in the work it’s not going to go anywhere. And that is true of everything. So sure, it would be amazing to have like insane work ethic and have the genetic predisposition, but at the end of the day I honestly think genetically predisposition is 10-20% of your potential success. 80-90% is just how hard do you work, and how smart and diligent you are about it. So you’re not just throwing a bunch of hours at something, you’re throwing a bunch of hours at it in a disciplined, controlled function. My life has just been proof that that matters a lot more.
So I’m not a born-entrepreneur, but I’ve succeeded as an entrepreneur at the highest levels.
BEN: I think being born an entrepreneur may just be as simple as the paradigm of questioning everything. That’s one thing that I always pride myself in, it’s why? I always ask the question ‘why is that the way?’, ‘why is the world that we see exists the way it is, and does it need to be that way?’
I think that maybe your greatest asset, is looking at the world and going, “I can make this better, I’m living someone else’s dream right now. I can live my own dream, I can make this better.” From my perspective, that’s the number of attribute of an entrepreneur, right? A really good entrepreneur can get away doing no work, if they’re really good at delegating and influencing people and being a good leader. I think a great entrepreneur is just someone who is challenging things, challenging the norm, challenging people’s paradigm.
TOM: Agreed. Even that I had to learn. So even that, like something so rudimentary and fundamental, I took the world the way that it was and made absolutely no efforts to change it, and honestly didn’t think that I had the ability to impact it. I don’t have the natural instinct to ask why, but you can train yourself to do that. My whole thesis is that all of this stuff is trainable and that if you see a strategy that somebody’s using and it’s working, then adopt it. I totally agree with you: asking why, pushing back, challenging and saying, “Okay, it is this way but it doesn’t need to be this way.”
And can you actually adopt that as a mindset? I think the answer is yes, definitively. It may take work, you may feel like you’re fighting against your natural instincts, but if your natural instinct don’t lead you where you want to go then fight against your natural instinct you must. So my whole thing is, what makes humans the apex predator? What is it? And people are going to say, “Oh, it’s the prefrontal cortex or the neocortex, which is our ability to do high-level thinking.” Okay, great, but what does that let you do? And ultimately, to me what it lets you do is it lets you be an adaptation machine. We’re the only species you find in every corner of the globe, from literally dive into the depths of the Marianas trench to living in the Arctic Circle, we can thrive everywhere.
I mean, if you really want to get down to the science of it, when they were looking at human DNA and they saw that we only have 20,000 genes and like certain onions have like 40,000 genes, it was like, what the hell, how is that possible that an onion is more complicated from the DNA perspective than we are? But oh, what’s all this junk DNA, don’t worry about that, that’s meaningless. And of course now they’re realizing that human epigenetic response mechanism, that we respond to our environment, we respond profoundly. So that if you take somebody into the Arctic Circle, watch what happens to their brown fat, right? And why brown fat? Because it generates heat. So it’s like you can force yourself through all of this adaptation by putting yourself under stressor. And I love talking to bodybuilders because nobody gets that more than a bodybuilder. But now you can take that and say it’s not just the body that responds to adaptive stress, it’s the mind.
So was I born with an entrepreneur’s mind? No, but I can put myself under adaptive stress: reading books, holding myself to a standard, Coming up with mental techniques, routines, habits – all of it to construct a mind that’s as radically different in form and function as a bodybuilder that goes from the under-muscled dweeb hard gainer to being on stage and being able to crush it.
BEN: Amazing. I’ve got to ask, what was the catalyst? Obviously you said in some of your recent interviews, you were lying in bed for up to three hours in the morning, and something was the switch that went off in your mind or maybe it was in your life, and said, “Hey man, I’ve got to change this.”
Another question that I want to get clarity on is, did you go to school for film, or how did you end up in entrepreneurship?
TOM: Yeah, went to school for film, and it’s a long story of how I ended up in marketing but I’ll happily tell you if you tell me what path you want to go down here.
BEN: I’m just curious if you went to school for marketing. Let’s go down the path of the catalyst, because I think that’s very interesting, because you’ve got a lot of people sitting at home going, “I’m not happy with my life,” they’re making excuses. Everyone is making an excuse, like the government or my job or my body or my genetics or whatever it is. Same as a bodybuilder, I deal with it every single day, people are just putting themselves in this box or where they think they exist or where they have to exist; you’ve managed transcend that box. What was the catalyst?
TOM: Through self-hatred all things are possible. And I know how that sounds, and I know for somebody who’s not ready to hear that message that’s like triggering. What I mean by that is, you get in your life what you accept. And for a distressingly long time I accepted laziness, I accepted a lack of success, I wanted a lot of things but I didn’t fan those flames to turn them into a crashing need that drove my every action, that threw me out of bed in the morning because I so did not want to be that lazy person anymore. And so really it began in film school, unfortunately nothing is as clean as, ‘oh I woke up,’ I had one moment and then everything was great.’
But in film school, I failed. I failed miserably in my final thesis film, and I went from thinking that I was the man, I was crushing, and I was going to get a three picture deal, everything I touched turned to cinematic gold; to realizing actually no, you’re terrible at this, you’ve only begun the journey of figuring this out. And literally to avoid depression, I needed a new mindset that allowed me so get that so I could get good. And honestly in the beginning it didn’t matter if it was true, I just needed to believe it. And then I started going down that path of reading, learning, practicing, trying, failing, but accepting that I could get better and I could learn from those failures.
Then as I started realizing that this actually works. The harder I work, the more I focus, the more I practice, the better I get and the less talent seems relevant. Or at least the less talent seems either you have it or you don’t, and it started to feel like I could actually learn the stuff, which was really a profound breakthrough.
So at the end of film school that’s what happened. Then I start teaching and I fall love and move to London, and I go through that period where I’m so lazy that I’m not getting out of bed. And this is the truth of the matter. My wife was working and making money, and I was staying at home and lying in bed for hours and hours. That made me feel so disgusted with myself that I was like, I don’t accept this anymore. so I began to push myself, I began to get out of bed out of anger, like, what kind of lazy dumbass literally just sits there and burns this amount of his life? Like, I feel disgusting. I’m about to marry this woman, I can’t be that guy – that’s not acceptable for me.
Like the biggest changes in my life have started from that ‘I don’t like what I see when I look in the mirror’. And when I talk to people about that, I believe self compassion is probably the most important thing you can do, but all like anything, when you take it too far then it actually becomes detrimental. If you take the self-loathing too far, it becomes corrosive. If you take the self-compassion too far, you accomplish nothing. So my thing is in 80/20 split. I spend 20% of my time absolutely horrified with what I’ve accomplished in my life, and 80% of the time filled with compassion for understanding how hard it is, understanding the beautiful things that I want to do in life – looking at just the positive things that I have, being grateful for what I’ve already accomplished. But, I know how to leverage that kick in the ass to get up and get going, and that’s why think a lot of people fall down.
By the way, I’m not the right person for many people to listen to, and I’m very aware of that. If you want a stress-free life, if you want to sit around the fireplace and read your kids a story every night, dude that is amazing! That’s an amazing life for the right person. I don’t judge that, I don’t think my way is the right way, I just think it’s right for me.
So for people that resonate with that, cool. I’ve got the tricks and techniques you’re going to need to actually accomplish, but I want to play on the world stage. I want to impact the world on a tangible, measurable level. So for me it’s like these are the things that those goals necessitate.
BEN: Amazing. Like Tony Robbins says (I’m sure you’re a fan of Tony Robbins), you’ve got to get disturbed if you want to make a change. Complacency is probably the biggest enemy. So you obviously were in a place of complacency when you’re in that position. Was it the type of thing where you were teaching and making money so you just didn’t feel like getting out of bed those days, or you were actually not making money at that time as well?
TOM: At that time I want making money at all, and that’s probably good because if I had been able to do that and provide, I certainly wouldn’t have gotten out of that mode as fast.
BEN: I complete agree, man. I just wrote you an email the other day about the period in my life not so long ago where I was making 20 grand a month for doing nothing. Most people say that’s amazing, and I go, “That’s the worst thing that ever happened to me,” because I wasn’t hungry, I wasn’t motivated. Normally I’m ruthlessly attacking my goals, and I went through this period where someone was just handing me a 20 grand check every month and I just kind of rested on it. I don’t with that on my worst enemy, it’s the worst thing. You look back and then a certain somebody removes from you and you go, “Fuck, I just wasted X amount of time!” This is a big, big problem! So that being complacent is definitely your worst enemy and I’m so grateful now for having had that removed, and now I can actually move on and be motivated to overcome the obstacles.
Speaking about overcoming, that was a long period to where you became a successful entrepreneur, a billion-dollar business owner. Do you think that teaching the people at Qwest was part of your evolution as a man?
TOM: Yeah, no question. And I really do believe in the adage: you learn best when you’re teaching. There’s just something about it, it forces you to concretize your own thinking, it forces you to codify everything into lessons that you can pass on. It really forces you to just get massive clarity. So I’m very grateful for being an entrepreneur and living a life of leadership and putting myself in that position. For a lot of people it’s not the right position, there is a crushing amount of responsibility when you wake up every day and know that there is a lot (back at Qwest it was 1400 people) whose livelihood depended on my ability to execute.
So there’s tremendous stress and responsibility in that, but dude, I want that more than I can tell you. Like, I want that. I want that on my shoulders, I want everyone to be looking to me and expecting me to deliver, I want that expectation! So that continues to be a driving force in my life; having employees that I desperately want to help get something amazing out of life for sure.
BEN: Is that from the perspective of you just like to work under pressure?
TOM: No, it’s from a perspective of my goals mandate a certain level of execution from me. And when you have people that are counting on you, there’s no days off. And I want that! So like you were saying, having that 20K a month taken away sharpens you, it makes you hungry. Look, I will be the first to admit that one of the hardest challenges of my life was becoming incredibly wealthy. And then you’re living in the Beverly Hills mansion and you’ve got the fancy car, and like how the fuck do you stay hungry? How do you stay hungry at like an unprecedented level? so that was like, okay this is the challenge now that I can get excited about overcoming and making sure that my focus is on something else entirely that all I think about is building this team up, executing at the highest level, playing on the world stage, building something that matters, that lasts, that has a kind of impact that I want to have, and having those people who are turning to you for that leadership and holding things together and pushing things forward – that just keeps you laser focused.
BEN: I love that you said that. One of the questions I get all the time, and I know you get this all the time; how do I find my passion and keep it? I know the answer and I want you talk about your vision, because without clarity of vision and clarity of purpose, nothing else exists. So can you give us a bit of insight and a bit of conversation about your vision and what that purpose is for you now that you’ve exceeded what you probably believe you may accomplished at this time in your life?
TOM: For sure man, and I hope your listeners are really paying attention to that. Without clarity of purpose, without clarity of vision, you really are lost. I just don’t know how to make that more clear to people. Like, any question about how do you accomplish or achieve or whatever, it all starts with what are your goals? And if you save your goal is to get rich, awesome. If you say that your goal is to provide for your family, fantastic. All of that is vague, you need something that is so specific: how are you going to get rich, how are you going to take care your family? Or the worst (listen nice and close, this is the most insidious); I want to change the world. Fantastic, but how? In what very specific way?
So I’ll walk you through my process. At Qwest, the mission was to end metabolic disease. How do you do that? You make sure that people can choose based on taste that happens to be good for them, because telling the entire world to eat less and exercise more is just not a winning solution. We’ve been trying it for 60 years and it hasn’t delivered the results. So you have to change something. So that was our strategy.
When we went to the manufacturers to say, “Hey, we made this bar that we think is the right first step, it tastes great,” they said it can’t be made. So because our goal was so clear in metabolic disease, we can work backwards. When they tell us to add high fructose corn syrup or some other liquid sugar, we can’t because that would move us away from our goal. So instead of then being able to leverage the manufactures that were already making protein bars, we had to become our own manufacturer. We tried buying off-the-shelf equipment; they were right, it didn’t work. So then we had to engineer our own equipment. When you know what your goal is, suddenly you can work backwards in that scenario and know what you need to do.
Now that I’ve left Quest, I’ve started a new company: Impact Theory. It was me saying, okay, there are two pandemics that we face as the society. One is the body, I think that’s very clear, everybody understands that one. It’s very easy to see people as they literally eat themselves to death. But the other one is the mind; and the pandemic of mind is depression, anxiety, feeling lost. It’s all the sense of hopelessness that’s becoming to pervade society more and more and more. What’s the real answer to that? Looking at the science, it became very clear that the answer is the only way the human beings assimilate truly disruptive information. What you need to do to give them a totally different worldview belief system – that’s your narrative.
So how do we at scale (because that’s what I care about) change people’s belief system. If you’ve never seen the talk that David Foster Wallace gave called ‘This is Water’, watch it. That is transformative. It talks about how like a fish is the last to realize that water exists because it is so ever present, people are the last realize with their belief system is because it is so ever present. They don’t even realize there was a choice! They don’t realize that their parents are passing on something that their parents passed on to them, that the culture reinforces certain beliefs and norms. And so they just construct this belief system without realizing that they’ve been building it around themselves, and it may or may not be advantageous for what they want to accomplish in life. So the only way to disrupt that is to really get in the fabric of how culture creates that belief system, which is traditional narrative.
So normally, it’s the way that a culture builds its ideologies through mythology. Now for a long time, we didn’t know that they were myths, we didn’t know that they were fake. But we’re now living in an era were virtually every myth, even the great religions, people are like, “Meh, I don’t actually believe it, I don’t take it literally for sure.” So now it’s like, how do you know what to assimilate into your belief system?
What we want to do with Impact Theory is say, “Okay, I don’t want to change behavior, I want to leverage it.” I know that people are already reading books, reading comic books, watching TV shows and movies, and playing video. I know that. And in that, they are assimilating pieces of their identity. But nobody, no studios out there are intentionally making pure entertainment by the way, but entertainment that at its core is a belief system that will empower you. Now, they do it as one-offs – the Matrix, it absolutely changed my life. the Jedi religion at the heart of Star Wars is wildly empowering, and if you listen there is no ‘try’, ‘do or do not’, I mean, it’s full of all this incredibly powerful stuff. Like when Lucas tried to lift the rock and he can do it, but then he goes to lift the spaceship, and he says that’s different; and Yoda says, “No, it’s only different in your mind.”
It’s like a bodybuilder not recognizing that sure you can’t lift 50 pounds today or you can deadlift a 1000 pounds today, but you actually can build up to that, it’s only different in your mind. It’s the same work, it’s the same process. It’s lifting and eating right and pushing – it’s going to lead you there. But when you believe in your mind that it’s impossible, then you’re right.
So it happens every now and then, right? You get a franchise or something that’s really powerful at its core, but people dismiss it either because it’s such a one-off it’s in the cacophony of noise of disempowering stuff; or just nobody’s telling them that you don’t have to believe it’s real to see the ideology and put it into your life. so I believe that the timing is right, right now, with what’s going on in social commentary for podcast like this, to talk about this stuff and them to marry that to actual traditional content – comic books and TV shows etc., that actually have this staff at its heart.
All of that is a diatribe just to explain I start with the goal. I want to pull people out of the matrix, I want to help people get rid of their limiting beliefs. But how do I actually execute against that?
BEN: At a grand scale.
TOM: Right. And so it ends up with me identifying very concrete steps. I won’t take up all the podcast on this, but I’ll just give you an insight. I consider Impact Theory to be a merchandise company. Now, my goal is to pull people out of the matrix, my goal is to build the studio. But you have to work back to something that’s self-sustaining. And if you look at Disney, which is the most successful studio all time, you’ll see that they are a merchandise company. So now I understand what I actually have to do, I undermasted what I actually have to get good at. I understand what my skillset needs to be, because of the specificity of my goal and my plan to get there.
BEN: Amazing! Speaking to that, I stopped watching television about 7 years ago. We have it in my house now, but we don’t watch it expect in the weekends when we have Netflix, for that exact reason. Everything you turn on is negative and it’s shaping just the complete wrong belief system of how the world is just an inherently bad place, people are out to hurt you, you have to protect yourself. It’s just driving fear into the brain of the population.
The time is perfect for what you’re doing, let’s install some decent values and moral stories. Reintroduce mythology, actually teaching kids great character traits – people are hungry for this kind of stuff because if you turn on the TV, something is blown up, somebody is killing somebody else – everything is just a constant perpetuation of the negative message. So people are craving it, and you’re actually doing it at the right time. And the fact that you’re doing it as a merchandise company is brilliant, modeling it after Disney, because I’m very familiar with their model. It’s 80% merchandise I guess.
TOM: It’s high.
BEN: Yeah, it’s massive. What a brilliant model! I heard you mention something about Joseph Campbell and The Power of Myth, was that one of your greatest influences in the star process? I’m looking at the star processing and going, there’s not many human beings that think at that level. And I’m curious as to what influenced that thought process for you.
TOM: Nobody more than just Joseph Campbell. That book changed my life. I don’t like that tattoos, not a believer in tattoos, but I read the book The Power of Myth, and he talks about how one of the biggest problems he sees in the society is; because we no longer believe in mythology, we no longer have rituals that have like real power to them. So you get this sort of stunted adolescence where there’s no transition between childhood and adulthood, there’s no transition between single life and married life. And he said rituals used to really demarcate these moments. He talk about how at 13 you knew you were a man, because the guys came and drug you away from the women, they took you out into the woods and they circumcise you with no anesthetic. Like, you want to talk about something that lets you know you’re a man? You’re a man, as of right now, this moment, no more bullshit, your life is totally different now. And we don’t have those anymore.
So reading that book, he’s talking about marriage, he’s talking about how the marriage ceremonies and stuff just don’t carry the weight they used to, and people don’t have a sense of ‘I’m a different person’ the day before and the day after. So I said, “Okay, as a part of my marriage, I’m going to go through a ritualistic scarification.” So even though I don’t like tattoos and I don’t believe in them, I had a tattoo designed which was basically my commitment to my wife. I got it tattooed on myself as a part of that transition, so that I would know I am fundamentally and forever a different person. I’m not a single person anymore, I am now part of a unit and I’m forever changed.
That really was a big deal for me. In the beginning when I really was still building this mindset and I didn’t have it all in place, that really helped me begin that process of how do you take in ideology? How do you construct intentionally your mindset, your belief system, and really start putting intention behind that? That absolutely started with that book.
BEN: Amazing. It’s almost like the idea of being brought into a fraternity where for the rest of your life you’re going to remember this. Are you doing something with your followers and teaching this idea, because this is something I’ve never heard of before, and I think it will be massively valuable for people to install in their lives. When something massive happens, to think of a way to ingrain it, to anchor it into your subconscious. Is this something you’re being very transparent about and talking a lot talk about?
TOM: I’ve talked about it like I’ve talked about it just now. This will definitely be something that will be in the content that we’re creating. I don’t yet have a great way. This gets into something that my team gets really squeamish when I start talking about, but there are elements to religion that I think are incredibly powerful. How do we incorporate them? I know that we’re not beyond religion, there are still people who are profoundly touched and transformed by that, and I think that it’s amazing when it’s uplifting and when it makes people more compassionate. But I think that even in just a secular way, there is room for some of the rituals and burning in of the ideology through repetition and things like that, that I would love to find a way to incorporate. I have a loose vision for how we’ll pull that off, but it’s not concrete enough for me to really talk about yet.
BEN: You’re not going to let me dig into that, man, because I’m very curious!
TOM: You can dig. I just don’t really have anything. The honest answer is I don’t know what that looks like in a way where it doesn’t feel cheesy and it doesn’t just feel like an echo of religion (which I don’t want it to be). So this isn’t me being quiet. My whole thing is, if you watch my content, my objective is; anybody that’s willing to outwork me could literally take my ideas because I am giving everything! I tell people exactly what we’re trying to do. Literally, I just certainly at a thumbnail level lay out exactly how we’re going to build the studio. I’m literally not pulling any punches I have, I’m not holding anything back, just because I’m so confident no one can outwork me that I’ve no problem putting that out in the world. So if I had something that I would tell you. And if people have ideas, then I’m all ears.
But I do want to find a way, I think proximity is a big thing, I think people have to get together. So I think there’s ultimately going to be a getting together as a group element to it, I just think that being next to somebody and getting to know them and having the social pressures of a large group of people that you’re with physically, believing and having a similar mindset, reinforcing those belief systems together; I think it’s going to be a critical part of that. But how you do that I don’t yet know.
BEN: Cool. Are you a spiritual guy, Tom?
TOM: Yeah, I would say deeply spiritual but not religious in the slightest.
BEN: Tell me a little bit about your practices or how you are you maintain a spiritual connection.
TOM: So now we’re going to get really weird! The easy one is I meditate, and that is really just a quieting of the mindset so you can hear you intuition and really listen to yourself.
TOM: Daily, yeah. I think people are expecting their intuition to shout, and it’s never going to. You’re going to have to create a quiet space to really hear it. The right parietal lobe is the thing that makes you feel either connected or disconnected from the world, and that’s the thing that is basically used in navigation. So if you want to navigate your way around the world, you need to know where you end. And this is the thing that creates a deep sense of separation from other people, and you need that. You need to know this is where I end, and so I can move myself around.
When people do drugs (which by the way I’ve never done, I don’t do drugs, I don’t really drink), I’m fascinated by psychotropic which one of the things you hear a lot about from some of them (I’m not an expert but I’ve read just enough of it to get the gist) is it shuts off the right parietal lobe. So people literally cease to know where they end, and they’ll come back talking about this deep communion with the universe, feeling at one with everything.
So understanding the brain regions of that to me is very interesting. I study the brain a lot as an act of spirituality, understanding myself; why I perceive myself as separate from others, the nature of compassion and such stuff. And then trying to really understand what the true and fundamental nature of this thing that we experience as the world around us is.
So I just spent time yesterday in fact with this guy who’s name is Spiros Michalakis, a Greek guy, he’s one of the foremost thinkers in physics. A super fascinating guy, talking about how at the quantum level essentially everything is chaos and the patterns only arises you come up. But the whole notion of quantum entanglement is because correlation. I don’t want to derail onto a deep thing in physical, I think it’s so clumsy that I’ll embarrass myself, but if you’re interested I’ll go a little deeper.
BEN: I’d love to hear about it.
TOM: His whole concept, he believes and he’s pretty dogged about this but I just don’t have enough context in the world of physics to know is everyone agrees with him or not, but he is at Caltech right now, he’s insanely bright and is very good at explaining this stuff. Basically, he’s talking about how without question we’re all in the matrix, but not the matrix the way we think of. Like, you’re not actually in a computer simulation. His whole thing is that basically the world you see and perceive around you is a result of the bell curve. So if you think of a bell curve, the top of the bell are the things that are most likely to occur. At truly a quantum level, the reason people are unable to unify the macro and the ultra-ultra-micro, is because what you’re seeing at a macro level (the things we think of as Newtonian physics or general relativity from Einstein) is because you’re looking at these macro patterns. These macro patterns just happen to be the most probable variations of the universe.
What Spiros talks about, and this is the part I don’t understand well enough and I’m so intrigued with and want to learn more, he says that there is a way mathematically to shift perspective. And as you shift perspective then you can see the less likely but still present (we just don’t experience them) variations of the universe. So his goal is to show mathematically, again this of the bell curve, like out here this is bodybuilders – you’re thinking of the physique, right? Most people are just at the top of the bell curve and they have that average physique that we all sort of identify as average, but then as you go down here you get people that are bigger and leaner, until you get over here and it’s almost flattening out. The people that exist there, they look like you! It’s the people that take stage, and they’re like 2% body fat, and they’re fucking gigantic! But it’s so rare, right?
So his thing is, imagine if experimentally you could take those (and this is basically go to the Olympia or the Arnold), and suddenly everywhere you look you see people that exist is that little tail. So he’s saying if mathematically, if experimentally, or even more importantly experientially, you could shift your perspective (and just to use the analogy) to literally walk into the Las Vegas convention Center during the Olympia, is like the shift in perspective that he’s talking about.
So now, you can see the people all over everywhere, and you can really begin to experience all of the alternate physical variations (in this example or his example) of the universe. You can really understand how at the quantum level, the reason that it seems that there is no correlation between how things work at the quantum level and how they work at this higher level, is because you only see the patterns as you come up. But as you go down into the quantum level, he says only chaos reigns. Like it’s actual chaos.
And so I said, are you saying that literally, all the universe that we experience now is essentially the universe (have you heard that example that if you put enough monkeys – like the definition of infinity – put a monkey at a typewriter and he’s banging on it randomly, eventually in one of those variations he writes ‘war and peace’). For true infinity to exist, one of those variations would have to be that moment where completely at random, he’s hitting those keys.
Of if up here the variations of the monkey banging away at the keyboard are whatever the random variables would be, we’re that. We’re that monkey variation that’s most probable. So you see something, you see all these patterns, you think this is the way that it has to be, it’s ordained by a creator or something. His theory (and this is me explaining my spirituality by the way – this is so fascinating it makes me feel more alive and more grateful for being human and more just in absolute awe of what we’re seeing) is that this is but one of these infinite number of variations, it just happens to be a high probable variation.
I’ll stop there, largely because I don’t understand it well enough to go any farther than that, I want to be very clear about that. But just explaining that you, if you can put me into an MRI you would see how excited and how that makes me feel in awe. It puts me in a state of awe, it isn’t disappointing to me, it’s amazing, it’s incredible, it’s beautiful, it’s fascinating. It makes me realize that there are just things about this world that we do not understand, and in that lack of understanding I am left with my jaw agape and my life feeling more worthwhile than ever. It’s just infinitely fascinating!
BEN: Amazing, that goes hand-in-hand with one of the things that you always say, that everyone goes through life. And we actually have the two dime-sized holes in our field of vision that your brain fills in. So ultimately we’re going in with this really, really narrow perspective on things. You want to talk about that?
TOM: Yeah, even more terrifying than that it’s narrow, is that your brain is making it up. That was really powerful for me. Right now I’m looking around the room, I have no sense that there is parts missing. But like you said, where your optic nerve connects to your eyeball, there is a dime-sized black hole – you see nothing. And your brain just goes, “It’s probably this,” and it puts it in. if you’ve ever seen something move out of the corner of your eye and you look and nothing actually did move, you have that experience of your brain making something up.
When I realized that, I thought, “Okay, wait a second, if my brain is lying to me (with the best of intentions, but it’s lying, it’s making it up), how much of what it’s making up is not useful? How much of the anxiety, the fear, self-doubt – anything that I have, how much of it is fake? And if it’s fake, can I choose to ignore it?” And once I realized that, you might as well assume that it’s all fake, and that objective reality doesn’t really exist, or if it does you can’t really perceive it anyway. Like, we only see a certain wavelength of light, we think that’s the umm belt. For us our umm belt is our perceived sum total of the world. But like sharks can create electricity, bats use echolocation. Did you ever see the movie ‘Daredevil’ with Ben Affleck?
TOM: It’s a horrid movie, don’t watch it. But I’ll give you the one part that was actually really cool, and it’s the best example of what I imagine echolocation is like for a bat. In the movie he’s blind, so he’s using echolocation, and you see the room that he is then get painted kind of like the matrix code were running down the walls. It shows like the contours and where people are, but you’re not actually seeing them. You’re just seeing a shape. But it’s so detailed that he can make out where everything is. And I thought, that is almost certainly what it’s like for a bat – they’re not seeing like you and I see, but they can navigate so precisely, they can snatch an insect out of the air while they’re moving. So clearly, they have a very detailed map of what’s going on, but we don’t experience any of that even though it’s there. We just don’t have the devices to perceive it.
So as I began to realize that there is this whole world, it exists empirically, it can be checked and tested and measured, but we don’t experience it. So just because we happen to have these limited senses doesn’t mean that that’s what you have to use to navigate and experience the world. So when you make that a mental thing, I don’t have to believe my emotions (which is the most obvious).
Your subconscious can process data with what they call ‘faster and vaster’. It can process way more data than your conscious mind, and it can process it much, much faster. But now, how can it communicate that, because if it tries to use words (which is the language of your conscious mind) you’re screwed – you’re back to the limitations of what the conscious mind can process. So I believe (and this is not my theory, but this is a theory that I’ve read and I think that makes a lot of sense) that the subconscious is actually kicking up emotions as a very rapid way of assessing a situation.
Imagine you’re a baboon and you see some bananas, but you also see a lion on the other side of the bushes waiting to see what you do. You will instantly get a feeling of either go for it or don’t go for it. that feeling is the massive amount of data: what’s the terrain like; is that slippery, isn’t rocky, is it even, is it going to have good traction; where’s my energy levels, do I think that I can sprint; how much attention is the lion paying, is it really laser in, does it look like it’s ready to strike, does it look hungry – all of the things. But you’re not processing that, you just get a feeling either to go for it or don’t.
So once you begin to understand, okay I don’t have to believe that – that’s merely my body’s limited way of processing this data, kicking it up to my conscious mind. So if I look in the mirror and I think ugly or dumb or far or whatever, I don’t have to believe that. So you can begin to take control of your mind.
You can begin to do things like, my highest recommendation to everybody; do and believe that which moves you towards your goals. So if believing that you’re dumb, fat, ugly or whatever moves you towards your goal, do it. But if believing that you’re dumb, fat or ugly doesn’t move you towards your goal, then don’t believe it because it doesn’t serve you.
BEN: I think the biggest thing you’re asking people to do to begin with, step one, is to become present. obviously you’ve been on a journey for the last 50 years to becoming more present, becoming more aware of your thoughts, because most people aren’t aware that these things exist, most people aren’t aware of their subconscious programming.
I’d like to dig into some habits you created over the last 10 and 15 years that allowed you to be this level functioning human. I believe that I’m on a quest to be at that level too, and a I’m a constant seeker, I’m a constant reader, I’m constantly trying to acquire knowledge. So there is a certain skillset that you’ve acquired that allows you to transcend the mountain, transcend the reality, transcend the matrix that everyone else lives in. what are they?
TOM: The things we’ve been talking about, namely: not believing your emotions, believing that you can do anything you set your mind to, that you can learn this stuff. That was really first and foremost.
BEN: How did you convince yourself that that was all true? In reality, most people don’t think that that is possible. Most people think that their life is their life and they have no control over it. So where did all that start? I’m very curious.
TOM: The movie The Matrix. In 1999 I went to a comic con, I walked around the corner and there was Keanu Reeves, Carrie Anne Moss, Joe Pantaleoni, Lawrence Fishburne, Joel Silver – the whole crew. I had no idea that they were there. So they were handing out tickets, “Anybody here gets to go see a screening tonight at Warner Bros. studios of The Matrix.” I was like, “Oh, cool, I saw that trailer, it actually looks really interesting.” And I remember thinking that this movies was either going amazing or horrific, I’ve no idea which. And I’m sitting in the movie theater at Warner Bros., so it wasn’t like you’re at a mall somewhere, you’re at Warner Bros. which is already cool.
Do you remember that part where Carrie Anne Moss jumps up and like goes that kick and it goes into slow-motion?
TOM: At that moment, everyone in the audience screamed out loud, started clapping – even myself. It was unlike any other cinematic experience I’ve ever had, it was unbelievable! And by the end of the movie, I was walking out thinking, “I choose to believe that’s real. I choose to believe that we can learn things like that, that we can get better.”
The fact that Kiana Reeves fell when he first tries to do the jump, the fact that he gets shot first and dies before he realizes he can stop the bullets – all of that may me go, there’s an element of the mind here. And that’s what the movie is all about, it’s what he allows himself to believe. The oracle tells him what he needs to hear, it’s all about finally getting his mind in the right place. And it wasn’t binary, but that planted the seed in my mind. It gave me a metaphor to hold onto, that allowed me to really understand how to think of the world.\
So I began to ask myself, what is the matrix? I don’t actually think we’re the matrix. So what is that, what is the modern-day equivalent? And I realized for me it was reading. Then I was like, okay, what’s my kung-fu? And I realized that my answer was business. So you begin to put things onto this metaphor, and the metaphor is robust enough that it allows you to reflect back your own life. And of course the seed that was planted, it ends up becoming Impact Theory exactly that moment that I had and how profoundly it ends up echoing through my life. And really changing my life is exactly what I want to do, but I want to do it in a very consistent basis.
You know, what the matrix spoke to me, how many other people saw that but it didn’t impact them in the way that it impacted me? It’s just like, you might tell somebody the same thing like 100 times and they don’t get, don’t get it, don’t get it, then you use a different metaphor and they’re like, “Oh my God, now I get it!” So that’s really the goal.
That was the seed that got planted. Then it echoes, I read books on the topic and mindset just from countless different angles, meet people who also think like that, read comic books (comic books have had a huge impact on my life). All of this stuff just piece by pieces it really becomes, looking back 20 years later, it’s a very robust mindset that’s made up of all these different sources.
BEN: Referring back to what Mr. Spiros Michalakis said, do you think you that after that movie people who think the same way became more apparent to you in your life?
TOM: Yes. I don’t know that in the beginning it was about other people that resonated specifically with The Matrix, but people that resonated. And I didn’t have Carol Dweck’s book back then (because it didn’t exist), so I didn’t have the words of growth mindset, but people that believed you could get better, they began to be the people that I collected. So I began to have a lot of people my life that thought like that, and that was powerful. Having people reinforce that in you, you know they say that you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with, that’s so true. So having people that had that same growth mindset was super important in my development.
BEN: So what are the man habits or the daily habits that you’ve instilled for last 10 years that allowed you to continue, other than meditation? Is there anything you insist on a daily basis, or some of the thought processes that you go through that allow you to live this life?
TOM: Yeah. Working out first and foremost. Now, I hate working out, for disclosure. But it’s so powerful to suffer, to put yourself through something hard on a daily basis, to show up every day, to earn that credibility with yourself. And for me to not want to do it and still do it, adds even more juice to the fire. To see the transformation, to know that I can actually change my body; seeing how real that was for me really made it easy to believe that I could change my mind physically – I can change the physical structures of my mind.
You know, form follows function. So if you can change the functioning, the way your brain actually works, you could you get something different out of it. So yeah, that’s very easy to believe; showing up the gym every day and putting yourself through that. But like David Goggin says, I just really believe that you meet yourself in times of suffering. So going in the gym, feeling the burn of lactic acid, pushing your legs so hard you want to vomit, those things really show you who you are.
BEN: Never been there in my life. I’ll tell you a similar story; for me that’s why I became a bodybuilder, I realized at a very young age that I identified as a very lazy human being and I fucking hated it. I hated it because everyone else in my family was lazy, and I didn’t want to be like them. That’s why I chose to be bodybuilder. Most people think it was something to do with insecurity, or vanity or trying to cover something up. It was literally me just trying to become the best version of myself and realizing that the only way that I can become great at anything was to overcome that which held me back, which is my deepest fear of laziness. And the reason I work hard is the same, I’ve overcome it!
I’ve proved that my goal as a bodybuilder wasn’t to win the Olympia (maybe), it wasn’t to win the Arnold’s. It may be something that becomes part of your presence, but it was really just to beat everyone that I went in the gym with. I wanted to prove that I wasn’t a lazy human being. And it such a great thing for me to become a confident man, to overcome that which was my greatest childhood fear.
TOM: I totally get that.
BEN: Yeah, I know you do, and that’s why I resonate with all this stuff you’re saying, because you saw yourself as a lazy guy and you said fuck this, put two middle fingers in the air and you went after it, right?
BEN: So you’ve got a hashtag that you use on your shirt, #TTFUBC. It’s perfect timing right now, we’re talking about it. So what is it?
TOM: Toughen The Fuck Up Buttercup.
BEN: I love it! You have a story as to where it came from? I know you just kind of threw it out there, but I’d love to give our listeners a story.
TOM: I forget what the question was that was asked, but I just get questions all the time, like, how can I do this? Oh my life is so busy! Oh, I’m not smart enough. My background sucks, my family was poor! And it was just like, toughen the fuck up buttercup! Look, there’s going to be a thousand fucking excuses, but they all come down to your accepting a low level performance from yourself. Fucking suck it up and get it done!
At the end of the day here’s the really dark secret: that’s the only piece of advice that’s real. Everything else is like a variation on a theme, everything else like what you do after you’ve toughened the fuck up. But the first step is to have the discipline to show up in the gym every day, have the discipline that when it sucks and when it hurts to push harder than the guy next you. And once you have that, then we can talk about the calculus of how you eat and how to carb cycle and all of that shit. But if you don’t have the discipline not to eat when you’re hungry, I can’t help you. You’ve got to fucking man up, period! People don’t always want to hear that, I get it, but until you overcome that you are fucked.
BEN: The reason I laugh when you say that is because I have a very similar one that I use all the time here at my gym with my staff: Take the balls out of your purse and man the fuck up! All my followers enjoy that one. You’ve got to get your balls out of your purse at least once a day, that’s always the analogy.
One of the things I think our listeners are going to be very interested to hear, you take this company which was zero from a billion-dollar company. That in itself is a three-hour podcast and I know we don’t want to go there, but what are some of the lessons you learned along the way from a business perspective? Maybe what are some mistakes you’ve made that have become your greatest teaching tools?
TOM: Yes, mistakes, there are many. The one that I think really hit me the most profoundly is around culture. Scaling culture is hard as hell, and what I learned is I’m a terrible manager. Terrible manager! I’m a good leader, and when people are around me like a group of people and they see me work every day, and all I have to do is lead by example, fuck yes. I’m good at that.
When we first started the company, it was all manufacturing all day, that all I did. So I was wearing a hair net, a lab coat and gloves, and I would show up and just bust ass. And I would ask the guys on the line, what’s the worst job? And that’s the job I would take, and I would bring energy and enthusiasm and fun to the table and show them that you can bust ass, hold yourself up to a high standard and have a good time doing it. It doesn’t have to be slog, I’m not going to fucking whine, I’m not going to piss and moan, I’m just going to get this done. So that was awesome, and those guys are diehard for me even to this day. So that was a really amazing period for me.
Then as we grew, and I didn’t understand the difference between a leader and a manager, it was like, what is happening? The core group around me still felt the same, because they could see how hard I worked, I was always trying to make their life easier, I wanted good things for them, I was trying to help them become what they wanted and all that. But as you went two and three deviations away from that, it depended on what you encountered. imagine for a second that your only encounter with me, I look at you and say, “Toughen the fuck up buttercup!” And you’re like, what the fuck, this guy is a dick! So that was a weird adjustment for me realizing that as you scale, it’s not enough to say something true, you’ve got to say it in a way that can be heard. And it’s critical to have good managers, because when somebody gives themselves to your company, if you don’t have people in place to help them figure out how to navigate it, to help them get the most out of it, to understand what their career path is, you’re doing them a disservice.
In the core of my heart I wanted good things for them, I wanted to do amazing shit, my promise to everyone at the company was; I want Qwest to be the best thing that ever happened to you. I was able to deliver on it for some percentage of the people that resonated with my natural ways, like if you want to be pushed, if you didn’t want someone sitting on your shoulder, I was your guy. But if you needed somebody really to be there and help you and create that path and show you the way forward and really mentor you, I just wasn’t your guy. So that was a super important lesson for me, because now in building Impact Theory, understanding that I’m not a good manager (which doesn’t bother me at all but it’s important for me to recognize – I don’t want to be a good manager, it’s not a skillset that I value in myself). But I’m looking at Agent Smith, who is a fucking extraordinary manager, and good Lord, if we didn’t have him we’d be in real trouble.
So things like that, being honest with where your skillset is, what skillset you want to develop – that stuff is critical.
BEN: Can you talk about the list of 25 attributes or characteristics that you developed for maintaining the culture at Qwest?
TOM: Yeah, the belief system. The belief system is the 25 things you need to do to your mind to succeed at the highest level. And it wasn’t the 25 things I thought you needed to do just to succeed at Qwest, it is the 25 things you need to do to succeed anywhere. You’ll see that it’s the same bullet points that we use now at Impact Theory, they are universal.
I’m in the process of writing a book now, it will be about the 25 bullet points, because those really are the things you have to do to your mind in order to succeed at the highest level. We were doing a job fair, and we had people lined up around the block to interview for a job at Qwest, and I wanted people to know what was going to be expected of them. Now, this is what I believe anyone should expect of themselves if they want to achieve greatness. By the way, if you go to www.impacttheory.com and sign up for a newsletter, we give you a nice version that you can print out and hang up. They are the 25 most important things any human being can do to their mind.
So people were literally lined up, and I wrote this really fast and said, “Hand this to everyone in line.” we tried to make it better later, and it was so on the core fundamental to the human condition, that they just stuck. That really was the first time I ever tried to get out what I had spent the last 20 years of my life doing to my own mind; to stop being lazy, to be able to take control of my life, to take extreme ownership, to really be able to execute.
I don’t think anybody should focus on who they are today, I don’t worry about that. I’m not hiring you for the skills you already have, I’m hiring you for the skillset that you are willing to break yourself and have to attain.
BEN: I always say that to my staff. I get components that I have the greatest staff in the world, and I say, “I’ve never hired for skillset, I hire for personality.” You have to, you can teach anybody a skillset, but you can’t teach a personality. So awesome, man!
You brought up the word ‘ownership’, and I think that’s massive, but I would like you to walk through…everyone makes excuses around time in the day; how do you balance it all? Can you give me a rundown of what your day looks like and how scheduled are you?
TOM: Yes. I’m Uber hardcore about how I spend my time.
BEN: Like podcasting with me!
TOM: 100%. If this didn’t move me towards my goals, I wouldn’t do it. But my highest goal is to pull people out of the matrix, so any chance I get an opportunity to speak to people at scale about the things you need to do to your mind – that’s like my fucking mission in life! So it justifies doing podcast pretty easy, it also helps build my awareness – that’s just one way to explain why I do this.
I’m super hard-core about how I spend my time. Going to bed early and on time is like step number one. I prioritize sleep. Why? Because I cognitively optimize, everything I do in my life is around cognitive optimization. so I go to bed at 9 PM like it’s a religion, I do not use an alarm, I haven’t used an alarm in over 15 years, I sleep until I wake up and that’s it. Some days that’s five hours, and some days that’s eight hours. It doesn’t matter, I get as much sleep as I need. Now, I’m always hoping that it’s as little as possible, but never less than five. So if I wake up and I’ve got only four hours of sleep, I will lay in bed for hours trying to fall back asleep, again because of cognitive optimization. I find that if I get less than five hours, I’m just too tired to function at a high level.
BEN: Me too.
TOM: So if I’ve got at least five hours, I have 10 minutes to get out of bed. So I lay there for roughly 9 minutes then I get up. I immediately go to the gym and workout for about an hour.
BEN: Empty stomach, fasted?
TOM: Yeah, fasted. In fact, I’ll even walk you through what I do with food and water. I have water only in the gym, so flavoring, just ice-cold water. When I finish the gym I immediately go and I put a monster in the freezer, and I even meditate for about 20 minutes and that’s about the right time for the monster to have just slightly started the slush. I take that, I open it, I go through a process I call ‘think-tation’. So leveraging the alpha wave buzz that you get on meditation, and the alpha wave state is where you’re calm and creative. Then I think over whatever the biggest problem is that I’m facing in the business. I just let my mind wonder.
And I continue my breathing from the meditative state to make sure that I stay in that state, but I no longer try to stop myself from thinking, just let my mind go. I usually so that for about 20-30 minutes, and then I read. Depending on what time I woke up will determine how long I read for, but ideally it’s about an hour. I read based on goals. Right now I’m absolutely obsessed with functional medicine and the microbiome, because my wife is struggling. She’s much, much better now.
BEN: Have you read ‘Power of Sex and Suicide’?
TOM: I have not, but that’s an awesome title.
BEN: Add it to your collection.
TOM: Alright, Power of Sex and Suicide?
BEN: It’s a fantastic book of on microbiome.
TOM: Okay, definitely. Thank you. And then I have an important things list and I immediately go into my important things list and start going through it. Those are the most important things I can be doing for the business, and I religiously go through that. I live in that whenever human possible through the day, i.e. depending on what time I wake up I work anywhere for like 5 to 8 hours before my first employee shows up. Then once they get here, starting at about 10 o’clock all hell breaks loose. I don’t schedule anything before 10 o’clock. By the way, you’ll notice the two things that are very absent from my morning routine are food and email. I never check email, I’m scary religious about that.
If you want my contact, and you ask me for what email you can contact me at, I immediately write you off. I don’t fucking do email. In fact, you should be ashamed every time you go to your email, because what you’re saying is somebody else knows better what I should be doing with my time to build my business than me. That’s just crazy to me. So I don’t check email, for disclosure my assistant looks for anything that’s like an inbound opportunity, because I get it that the rest of the world does email. I’m not kidding, if I look at seven emails in a week, it would be startling. That’s even with my assistant going through them, for the record.
I take my first meeting or create my first piece of content starting at 10 AM, and if I’m intermittent fasting my first meal is between 11:30 and 1. I only do intermittent fasting when I’m ketogenic. But if I’m high-protein like I am now, my first meal is somewhere around 8:30 to 9 o’clock.
So if I’m intermittently fasting, my first meal is around 12-ish 1-ish, somewhere in there; then my next will be at 3; then the next meal will be at 7 and that’s usually that’s my last meal of the night. If I’m doing high-protein I’ll eat at 8:30 to 9, 11:30 to 3, 7:30-ish and maybe even one more meal right before I go to bed at like 8:30.
BEN: Are you training for a specific goal or are you just trying to look awesome?
TOM: It depends on the time of the year. All times I’m training for strength and maintenance at a minimum, but in the summer I do try to get nice and lean, and I’ll carry that through. My cardio; I’ll work out at a cardio pace. So no of rest between sets and things like that. then when I go into the holiday season, because I know my calories are going to be periodically spiked (I still eat clean through cheating, like when I’m in-taking bread and sugars and things like that – if I do that five or six times a year it’ll be a lot), I really don’t cheat but there are times when I spike my calories significantly. certainly at holiday, around Christmas I’ll do a full like 10 days where I’ll eat as many calories as I want, all clean calories but I’ll eat as many as I want. During that time, I know that I’m in-taking enough calories, I should be thinking bulk. So my strategy would be a little bit different.
BEN: Are you following the MI40 program?
TOM: I don’t even know what that is. So probably not, would be my guess.
BEN: That’s my muscle-building brand.
TOM: My man! So I’ve failed you on that one!
BEN: We’ll have to get you hooked up. Truthfully, we’re in the best in the world at that, and that’s kind of what people know me for: muscle intelligence approach to training. So that’s why people know my name, but not you.
TOM: Unfortunately. Dude, I’m telling you, I do not like working out.
BEN: I won’t hold it against you, I always assume most people don’t know who the hell I am, but I’m grateful.
TOM: I am the same.
BEN: How do you hack your sleep? Do you have a protocol? I’m sure you’re aware of your environment, are you doing any supplements to help you sleep?
TOM: No. I literally try to exhaust myself by going hard during the day, and then just get to bed at 9pm. That’s it.
BEN: Sweet. There’s one more question I want to ask you that I thought was really cool. You have a genie analogy, a magic genie analogy. I want to hear about that.
TOM: Yes. This started as an interview question when I was really trying to figure out what people value, and I think it’s incredibly important really figuring out what people value in their lives. It goes like this: if a magic genie showed up right now and give you one wish and one wish only, you couldn’t ask for more wishes. Can’t cure cancer or bring somebody back from the dead, it’s got to be something for yourself. What would you wish for?
BEN: You ask that during a hiring interview?
TOM: Yeah, and people’s answers will fascinate you.
BEN: I like. I’m going to start using it and I’m sure other people will. Tom, where can people reach you?
TOM: @TomBilyeu across all social; so YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – I’m in all of them, I’m very active socially. And if you ever get a like, a heart, a comment, anything, it’s actually me!
BEN: I think I got some hearts in there somewhere!
TOM: My man! So yeah, truly that’s all me. I do all the engagement myself.
[TAKING A SELFIE].
BEN: Alright buddy, I appreciate you man, I really appreciate your time and I’m going to reach out to you about some other things. I think that what you’re doing is absolutely fantastic, absolutely amazing, and if anybody isn’t following Tom get over there now because this guy is going to change the world in the next coming years. So thank you very much man.