"Purpose gives you priority and priority gives you productivity."
In today’s episode of the Achieve Your Goals podcast, we’re releasing a live recording from one of our Quantum Leap Mastermind events. During this inspiring conversation, Jon Berghoff talks with Jay Papasan about his latest book The One Thing. You’ll learn how finding purpose and prioritizing what matters the most can lead to extraordinary results in every area of your life.
Jay Papasan is a bestselling author, public speaker, corporate trainer, and serves as vice president and executive editor at Keller Williams Realty International, the world’s largest real estate company. He is also vice president of KellerINK, co-owner of Keller Capital, and co-owner, alongside his wife Wendy, of Papasan Properties Group with Keller Williams Realty in Austin, Texas.
The books he’s helped craft have collectively sold over 8 million copies. His most recent work with Gary Keller on The ONE Thing has led to selling over half a million copies worldwide and garnered more than 250 appearances on national bestseller lists, including #1 on The Wall Street Journal’s hardcover business list.
In this discussion, Jay shares his story and explains how an opportunity to work with Gary Keller completely transformed his life. He shares principles form his most recent book and discusses topics like giving strategically, purposeful contribution, prioritizing what matters, forming successful habits, thinking big and much more!
- You’ll hear how his bathroom conversation with Gary Keller resulted in co-writing and publishing The Millionaire Real Estate Agent, which has since sold over 1 million copies worldwide.
- Jay explains why being a great father and husband is his biggest achievement in life.
- How The One Thing can help you prioritize what matters, form successful habits, and live a life with no regrets.
- The role that purpose plays in your priorities, productivity, and profit.
- How to lead a successful life by giving strategically.
- Why it’s selfish for you to try and keep your business from growing.
- Jay outlines the 5 stages of giving and how you can use them to make a massive impact on the world.
- Jay shares his tips for getting young people to care about contribution.
- What Gary Keller can teach you about consistently thinking BIG.
- Jay takes questions from the crowd on business, publishing, real estate, investing, giving & receiving, and more!
- Jay’s success factors for for writing & publishing a book.
- Why research is an incredible form of marketing.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION
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[00:00:32] Achieve Your Goals podcast listeners or Goal Achievers, Jon Berghoff here standing in for Hal Elrod this week. Again if you and I have never met, you can always go listen to episode 152 where Hal handed over the reins at least for a period of time while he heals and recovers. I’m super pumped to tell all of you. He’s doing really great right now. If you haven’t heard this, Hal was diagnosed last October, it maybe on October-November with a very rare form of cancer and he’s now going through his fifth, their sixth round of chemo which is crazy and it’s positive because he’s doing really well right now. I just talked to him about five minutes ago.
Hey, before I tell you about this week’s episode it’s a conversation I had at our last Quantum Leap Mastermind meeting with Jay Papasan, the author of the The ONE Thing and I’m sure many of you are familiar with his work.
Just a couple of shout outs. First of all, a number of you joined us last week in Cleveland for our inaugural LEAF certification. LEAF stands for Leading with Experiential Appreciative Facilitation and really what that is and what we taught and what it’s all about and what that community is is a story for another episode I’ll probably do in a few weeks but the short of it is we really believe… I believe that the world is calling for really brand new methods and new motivations for what it means to be a leader or an entrepreneur that leads a team or an organization of any size and that certification last week was nothing short of awe-inspiring, the certification participants that we had from around the world that we had executives there from the Cutco Corporation, from Keller Williams, from award-winning digital marketing agencies and then we had a variety of entrepreneurs there from all around the country in Canada. It was an amazing experience if you were there. Thank you for creating memories that we will have for a lifetime. Again, that’s a story for a future episode where I’m going to talk about what I would call the future of leadership what the world is calling for and we’re seeing a real attractiveness to what it means to lead groups, small groups and really large groups to bring out the very best in groups all at one time. That was awesome, that was just last week.
Two more shout outs, first of all Jon Vroman and we did an episode that was released back on March 1st about Transforming Your Life With The Art Of Moment Making, Jonny V, his book, The Front Row Factor came out a couple of weeks ago. It immediately became a bestseller on Amazon and I’ve seen a ton of chatter within this community. If you have not picked up your copy of The Front Row Factor, you’ve got to go grab not one but three or four of them because it is one of those books, it’s a very rare book where when you read it you realized I need to give this book to everybody that I know and it’s not often that I find a book where I feel compelled to share it with everybody that I meet. The Front Row Factor, you gotta check it out.
And if you haven’t checked out our episode on April 5th with David Osborn, we talked about about how David has built his empire and his wealth with his life philosophies which he also just released in a book and I could be totally incorrect in this but I feel like I just saw somebody post something that his book has actually become a Wall Street Journal best seller in the first several weeks. I don’t know if that’s true. I do know that a ton of copies have been sold, Wealth Can’t Wait. It’s really about both the methodologies in the mindsets around wealth building. You’ve got to check it out, just like The Front Row Factor, Wealth Can’t Wait is one of those instant timeless classics.
Last week’s episode was maybe one of my favorite that I’ve gotten to do since I jumped in here to stand in for Hal. It was with Ryland Engelhart, the chief inspiration officer and co-owner of Cafe Gratitude and Ryland talked about the history, the story of Cafe Gratitude and really how it is that they have gamified making their business a force for good in the world. So if you’re an entrepreneur and you run the smallest or the largest business, you have to go check out the conversation we had with Ryland. It was one of a kind, I promise it will leave you inspired.
Now for today’s conversation, here’s what you’re listening in to just so there’s no cause of confusion. We ran, several weeks ago we had one of our two live retreats that we do with the private mastermind group called our Quantum Leap Mastermind and at that mastermind we bring in world-renowned thought leaders like Jay Papasan, author of The ONE Thing and I had a conversation with Jay and we talked about not only The ONE Thing but we really quickly transitioned to what he is most interested in right now. If you know the story of what Jay has done with Keller Williams as Gary Keller’s writing partner, you really would be intrigued to see what it is that Jay’s most interested in right now. And I’ll kind of spill the beans just to give you a clue. He’s really interested in how to go beyond productivity to helping entrepreneurs to become even more purpose driven in their work. You’re gonna to hear a conversation that we had together and I hope you enjoy it.
By the way, if you have any feedback or there’s anything that you love about this episodes, feel free to let us know. Share it on Facebook. You can always tag myself. Just tag me, become my friend, Jon Berghoff. You can tag Hal. Forward your thoughts about these episodes to your communities help us spread any of the good work that we’re doing so that you can add value to those in your network through the efforts that we are marking. Hope you enjoyed this conversation with Jay. Take care everybody.
[00:06:19] Jon: Hey, many of you already know and our fans co-author of The ONE Thing and many other well-known books. Can we give a huge QLM warm welcome to Jay Papasan. Let’s give it up. Jay, thanks for being here man.
[00:06:35] Jay: I love this. This is great. I love the house communities, all of them. I’ve been just blown away at the way you all build community and bring value to the people. I’m super privileged to be a part of this.
[00:06:44] Jon: Yeah. That’s awesome. Well, this group here… this is like a special part of Hal’s community because his book he gave us like a peek behind the curtain this morning. A couple of hundred thousand people on his audience. It’s growing. It grew 12,000 people last month and this audience here represents a group of entrepreneurs that are the most committed in that community to supporting each other, taking things to another level and it’s why we brought you in here cause you’re work has a made a huge impact for this audience in the world. People that are serious about taking things to another level. I wanna ask you about some of the principles in The ONE Thing. I know many in here have read it. There’s probably handful who maybe haven’t.
[00:07:27] Jay: Can I ask, show of hands, how many people are familiar with the book? Just so we have a sense. Alright. So we’ll just talk to this one guy right here. I don’t about ya’ll but I read The Miracle Morning like twice so it’s always good to go back through and hopefully if ya’ll have specific questions we can get them answered today.
[00:07:49] Jon: Yeah. That’s cool. Hey before we get to the book, I’d love to hear the story of how you got connected with Gary Keller. How did that happen?
[00:08:00] Jay: My wife and I met in New York City. I’m from the South originally, Memphis, Tennessee and I was kind of missing it. I mean I love New York that’s where publishing happens but it wasn’t a great lifestyle to start a family so we got married. We both agreed that we want to go somewhere else. Bypass five months of backpacking in Europe and we just picked Austin and moved here without knowing anybody or having jobs.
[00:08:21] Jon: Do you remember what year that was?
[00:08:24] Jay: 2000. We visited in February or January and coming from New York City to Austin, Texas in winter. I had an overcoat on the plane and I had no clothes so I remember going barefoot in Silver Park and we were just wandering around and someone came up. They had a leftover half of a six-pack and they were like, “Do you want this? We have to go to work.” And I’m like, “You’re drinking and you’re going to work?” We just sat down and drink the rest of the six-pack and we’re like, “This is an awesome town. We’re moving here.” I messed around for about seven or eight months freelancing. I got an article in Texas monthly, got a couple of high place stuff with this magazine which is the big magazine from my hometown, usually soccer stuff cause I’ve done a book with Mia Hamm and then my wife kicked me out of the apartment because I’m a huge introvert.
In a town where I knew no one, I knew exactly no one after six months except for the people where my wife works with. She’s like, “You got to get out meet people.” So like, “Go get a job” and I was applying for writing jobs and I thought I would get a job in Technology and like I’ve never heard of them, a little company called Keller Williams needed a tech writer II in their technical department and I applied. I published 15 bestsellers in New York and this little company… I went to five interviews but two behavioral assessments I mean the Keller Williams people know our process. There’s only 27 employees back when I joined. I thought it was a front for the CIA, no lie. I was like, “There’s no way this is a real-estate company. There’s just no way.”
I bounced around and about two years later, I saw one of our tech writers working clearly on a cover of a book and I thought it was freelancing. I said, “What are you working on?” I was just hungry for books having been out of that world, he said, “Don’t you know Gary Keller and our old co-author Dave Jenks are writing a book” I’m like, “No way!” and then I ran into Gary Keller in the bathroom. Again, there was only 30 employees at this point and I said, “Gary hey! I hear you’re writing a book, do you remember I used to work at Harper Collins?” and he kind of do the double check. He was like clearly he forgotten that and he said, “Come in my office” and we went in and he laid out a vision for writing 13 books. So not just one book, he had a vision. And the first book, was going to be a book called, “The Millionaire Real Estate Agent” and he give me the whole pitch where I interview the top people in our industries, see what they have in common, and he goes, “How do you think that book will do?” and I said, “How many real estate agents are there?” and that time they were like 700,000. And I said, “If you do really really good it well sell 50,000 copies.” That was just my honest assessment. Just for the record it sold a hundred thousand the first year and it’s now sold more than a million copies so I totally blew that.
That part of the interview I failed but he’s a model builder. He doesn’t like to just fail us way forward I think he’s learned enough from his own mistakes. So, he and Dave have gone to a bookstore, this is the longer version than you anticipated I think and he had five books that were their favourite how-to books and they wanted to steal elements of all of them for the first book. One was, Good to Great, he loved the executive summaries. The Millionaire Next Door, have you read that book? Fabulous book! He loved the idea that they interviewed a whole bunch of people and ask for what do they have in common. A book that I can never remember the name, I really honestly it’s like it’s this black hole. I can see all the books laid out on his desk but that one and the last is probably because I was already looking at the last two. It was Bill Phillips, “Body for Life” is a weightlifting book and Mia Hamm’s, “Go for the Goal.” He started to tell me about those and I was like, “I published these two books” and that’s like the luck. I showed him my name in the books and it was pretty much the next day, I was in the advanced interview for the job meaning I was running a business plan for how we would write and publish a book. About a 120 days later, 30 days of planning, 90 days of writing, we wrote “The Millionaire Real Estate Agent” and that’s the start of our career.
[0:12:18] Jon: Wow! That’s amazing to hear that story.
[0:12:20] Jay: A little luck had the two books were there. You know that I had that history and I’m just happy I had the guts to talk to him in the bathroom. That was like the moment for me that I think that was the choice. I could’ve like told other people to tell him or whatever but at that conversation kind of opened the door.
[0:12:37] Jon: So, looking back since that moment had a lot of things go well, what are you most proud of?
[0:12:43] Jay: Gosh, I already married my wife so that was already checked off. I think the family we built. I mean, I’m real clear if you look on my goal sheets back there so you can test me at the very top. It’s be the best husband I can be and be the best father I can be. I feel like in my crazy motivation when I’m doing those two things well I’ll be the best writer I can be and that’s the only way I can live in integrity. So, I think we’ve done a really good job of keeping, we call it in the book, “Dominos” in the right order and a lot of you here in real estate you know my wife, Wendy Papasan, she’s got a huge team. You know if I turn a business, we have two business people in our family and we still try to manage to do that. We have a date night every week, we have a family meeting every Monday, our kids are in Acton, we know about that. Best move we’ve made been a long time so I just feel like shipping that in order. We were going on 18 years of marriage and I’m really proud of that.
[0:13:36] Jon: Congrats! That’s really cool. It’s great to hear. Let’s go into the book. So, give us the essence, a lot are familiar but what is the essence of the message with The ONE Thing?
[0:13:46] Jay: I was thinking about this on the way out here because it’s so perfectly lines up with everything that Hal talks about in terms of the execution. Ours is identify what matters most. The principle is if you’re always working from your priorities, you cannot have any regrets that’s at the very end of the book. Really that was the beginning of the book. This idea, “How do you live a life with no regrets?” Well, the only way to really do that is to always be acting on your priorities and so the book, we tried to come up with a practical method. I’m real pragmatic, I hate business books that don’t tell me what to do. That’s another reason I like the Miracle Morning because he dare to tell us what to do and dared to be wrong, right because you could be wrong. And I want to hear like, “What does this look like in real life?” don’t just tell me the concept. So Gary and I agree on that big time and so how do you identify what matters most and then how do you act on it.
So we came up with a hypothesis and we use about four and a half years of research to back it up. And so basically, you identify your one thing with the focusing question, “What’s the one thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” It’s a long question, what’s the one thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary and we’re asking your brain to come up with one idea. It came from accountability. Anybody here have a coach? I do. So Gary was coaching people and you get to the end of the 30-minute coaching call and you’d have to agree, what are you going to get done next week? What are you going to get done between now and next week to really move the ball forward and people would list them out. And it was really in frustration because people would do items three, four and seven but never number one. Like people tend to avoid the big things and he got angry. And he would like, “Alright if you only get three things done this week, what are they going to be and they did two and three. He was really in frustration that he said, “If you only get one thing done this week that really moves the ball forward, what’s it going to be? That’s the only thing I’m going to ask you next week.” But he realized then when he narrowed it to one was that everybody did it. There’s no place to hide. If you only have one thing on your to-do list, you either did it or you didn’t and that’s just kind of an instant accountability. The joyous thing he discovered overtime is that when people did the one thing they did two, three, four, five and six anyway. And it was just getting them in the right order and so it simplified the conversation so it’s a question that’s specific when people ask it in my experience, most people are dead on and they just feel guilty for not having done it. They know what their one thing is. It’s very rare that you find people who truly don’t know. They might be doing something completely new like I want to climb Mount Kilimanjaro within your one thing is to find out how.
So, do that one thing and ideally if you have a career or a vocation, you’re a musician, you’re an artist whatever there’s usually one thing if you look up and look around that if you do it a lot your success will almost be guaranteed. In business, like if you’re not good at lead generation, it’s hard to be really great at whatever you do, right? You can be the best shoe maker in the world but if nobody hears about you, you won’t make many shoes. So that tends to be the thing in business that first time and then we just kind of preach make that a habit. And again, you look at the mirror every morning when do we tell you research says do it in the morning, right? You have the most willpower in the morning. The only place I’ve researched that didn’t perfectly align is the research we found is that it takes about 66 days on average… If you really want to commit to a new behaviour, isolate it and do it on a regular basis and after about 66 repetitions on average it’ll become habitual. And the danger even in that number, this is Gary’s smart-like question. Can anybody tell me what the average temperature in America is right now? You can Google it if you want. Who cares, we all had to dress for Austin, right? So it’s a trick question. So, 66 is the average. You have to be aware of anything like that. It’s instructive and that most people hear 21 or 30 and so they take their foot off the gas too early. So we called the researchers then we said, “What was the actual data?” and the earliest someone from the habit was 18 days but the longest was 254 and so if you really want to form a habit, you got to stick with it till it’s a habit.
All of ya’ll have done the Miracle Morning so I presume, almost all of you had started getting up earlier. Do you remember the first time you woke up before the alarm clock went off? That was probably a real sign that the habit was forming. Your body knew to wake up before you did like I’ve got kids they trained me, I can’t sleep past about 6:30 now because you know bottle feedings and everything else. That was my job in the morning and I just got trained and I’ve just never got untrained. So, that’s the thing. Figure out what really matters and then work hard for a habit and then that habit will serve you for as long as you maintain it. And that’s like if you want a secret recipe for success, that’s kind of at the heart of a lot of it. Figure out what matters. Make it habitual because maintaining a habit, how much thought do you give in brushing your teeth? Hopefully, almost none and it still happens, right? I didn’t ask you flossing for a reason but that’s something that your parents drilled into you pretty early on. I’ve still got kids that we have to kind of drill and so I know how many years it takes. It can take at least 12 years I can guarantee you. But right around there it’s clicks for people but if that happens for you professionally whatever it is that matters that’s really magical moment where the thing that matters most is something that you don’t have to fight anymore it’s just something that happens for you. That’s the essence for me.
[0:19:24] Jon: That’s awesome. You and I chatted recently and I was asking you about, what are you interested in today? What are you focused on today? And it lead to a conversation where you talked about how getting clear on priorities has a relationship to also being clear on our sense of purpose. Talk about the role that purpose place for you and that you believe it can or should play for all of us.
[0:19:49] Jay: We wrote about it in the business. If you remember in business in the book, there’s a pyramid which shows up in a lot of our books and we called it like an iceberg. Most people see a really productive person or profitable business and they’re seeing the tip of the iceberg. What lies under profit is productivity and what lies under productivity is priority. When people are operating in their top priorities they’re naturally productive. When people are productive they tend to be profitable businesses, right? But what underlies the biggest, most powerful, productive company is purpose. If you really know what your company’s mission is, what your mission is, that gives you a real sense of what you need to say no to and yes to. So purpose gives you priority, priority gives you productivity and you work your way up.
It’s a real tough question for a lot of people. I know I struggled with it because people think of purpose and like, “Do I have to get this tattooed on my back today? Do I share it with people?” and it’s really a journey. So, we talked about that in the book and how important it is to at least be searching because the path itself is very rewarding and you almost always know what direction to go even if you don’t know what destination you’re trying to find. My wife was born in Fargo, Minnesota and she’s very clear. She’s been moving South in her entire life. She just want warmer weather wherever it is but Fargo will do that to you. Everybody has a progression like that in their patterns like maybe you love serving people and so it really behooves you to figure that out. I like to teach people. I like to help people.
Gary’s passion is the same. When we wrote our mission statement for a book company, it was really about helping people think bigger about their lives and then act on it. We didn’t want the first part without the second part and that’s a much bigger question to answer and that’s a big part of our professional purpose and then we look up and I guess for seven or eight years it’s been a journey for my wife and I. And then for the last two years I’ve been teaching it so we ask what’s on your mind. I don’t know if anybody was here at Keller Williams’ family reunion this last one, Ben Kenney and I taught a class, it was our second year and we taught a class on giving and we’re both like super passionate about this and it all kind of started I’ve been on the journey to try to give more and to be a little bit like, “How can I take my purpose and use it to not only drive what’s inside but everything outside.” We started setting some goals around that and then got him Adam Grant wrote a back called, “Give and Take.” Fabulous book! And he talked about strategic giving and the opening page, I’ll spoil just like 10 pages for you. They did a survey of people who made the most income in companies and they classified them in three groups: you are a giver, a matcher or a taker. A giver is someone who’s altruistically looking out for other people. A taker is looking out for just themselves. We all knew a few and matchers are the people it’s like, “I’ll help you out but I cannot expect you to help me out and the moment that ends, I’m going to stop helping you.” And we resent them when they don’t reciprocate. “Well, I paid for the meal last time, aren’t you going to pay for it this time?” and we all have moments in all three just so you know. Like I’ve been a taker at different times and I’ve been a matcher different times but we strive to be different things. And what kind of horrified them is, who do you think was at the very bottom of the poll for income earners? Givers. There were takers down there. Overtime takers work their way down because they’re discovered but givers were at the very bottom too.
Then they had to really slice and dice the research to find that at a very top is a very small sliver of people that they call, Strategic Givers, and that was the whole book was about. People who could give strategically, they can do it in service of their business and their career without getting walked over all the time. And the big “Ah ha!” for me is it’s okay like you don’t want to be conspicuous right in your consumption or in your giving but as a business person you can get credit for giving. It’s called the, “Gates Foundation For A Reason” and every time I see a Microsoft product it softens my hatred for that product a little bit because I know this guy is like eliminating malaria and all these things and I’m like yeah I’m like I am an apple guy. I always thought that stuff made no sense but I’m like I love the Gates Foundation and I love Bill and Melinda Gates and what they’re doing and that matters to me. And when you study Paul Newman and all these other people. They’re people out there that had given away billions of billions of dollars and they’ve done it very strategically and they’ve also had a huge life.
So, we were exploring that it was actually on a hunting trip with Ben. He said, “My goal is to give away a million dollars every year” and I was like, “Awesome! How are you doing?” and at that point he was giving away about 40,000 dollars a month. And his whole reason for growing in business was so that he could give away more and he could provide more opportunity for the people who work for him. In his statement and I’m just like quoting my best friend here it goes, “If you’re trying to keep your business small, you’re being selfish. To be small is to be selfish” and he equated big with being generous because it allowed you to touch and impact more lives in your company and outside it. And we just like the entire hunting weekend that’s all we talked about and actually, in The New Millionaire Real Estate Agent, the top of the pyramid we asked a question, “How do you build a business so big you can give away a million dollars a year?” and that’s the path my wife and I are on. And so I’ve been experimenting… That’s been the thing I talk about now when people ask me that question is: how can we be better givers? How can we teach your children to be better givers? And why people don’t do it and why people should? Do you want me to do expound upon that a little bit?
[0:25:22] Jon: Yeah, okay. Alright.
[0:25:24] Jay: We’re building kind of a model. First, we ask a question, “why don’t people give more?” I think some people don’t give because they lack an abundant mindset, right? They think they still have to take care of their family first and there’s truth to that at times, right? I don’t wanna judge that but I get that people who are coming from the place of austerity may not feel like generosity is ready, they think it’s going to happen to the future. A lot of people simply have never experienced the joy of giving or think that they don’t… their gift it would never be big enough to matter and I encountered both of those. $35 will restore someone’s sight, you know that? For $12 you can provide education for a year in some countries for a child. So small small gifts can have a massive massive impact if we’re strategic in where we point those dollars. You know you’re right, if you give 12 bucks to the American way or whatever like you just get swallowed up but if you look for micro giving, you can find amazing causes where your kids, think about that. How much do they earn an allowance? They could give someone’s sight back every single month. How rewarding would that be? So every bit counts.
One statistic it’s three years old so forgive me I’m not writing this book yet I’m just playing with it. The top 10 percent of wealthy of people give 25% of all money. That’s all we ever read about, these foundations that write the million dollar checks. Well, my “Ah ha!” is where does the other 75% come from? The vast majority of all giving is done by the bottom 90 and the gap between the top ten of 90 is huge, right? Even the successful people here, we’re all on the top 10 percent I would argue. We’re not in that bottom so everybody counts. This idea of never experienced giving, if you’ve never experienced the joy of giving because of where you came from or the way you’re raised, then how can we as leaders in our organization make those opportunities available for our children and the people who work with us?
So the story Ben told, he had a $500 scholarship at his High School and he’d done it the last few years because he was like the poorest kid of that High School and so he funded you know like basically books for some kid going to college. He took one of his co-workers, who knew is making great money but wasn’t generous and right before the announcement and award, I’m going to do something and if you don’t do it basically I’m gonna fire you. He goes, “You’re going to go up there and you’re going to be the face of these gift”. They don’t know who wrote the check. “You’re the person funding this scholarship. I just want you to see how it felt.” And the guy went up there it’s like 500 bucks, this guy probably spent that much in Vegas and he came back into the car he started crying. He’s like, “I’ve never felt that before.” Well, guess what happen to that guy’s life?
So, there’s a lot of reasons people don’t, don’t judge them but you need to be looking for it and how can I sure that because the gift of giving like it’s documented there’s some scientist that say that we cannot actually be altruistic at all because by doing for others… A 55 year-old person that volunteers. The act of volunteering is more helpful for them than quitting smoking. It adds years to your life quite literally, it lowers depression, increases rates of contentment and happiness and calmness. All the things that benefits we get from it are enormous. So, we kind of kicked around and I’ll give you if I can do this from memory, we came up with five stages of giving. So if you wanted to take notes that would it be it. The first thing we encourage people to give. If you can’t give anything else, give gratitude. If you’re at a fundraiser and you see someone raised their hand and make a donation, if you thank them for that, “Hey! I saw what you did. I saw that you put money in that guy’s purse. I saw that you stop and gave money at this.” People who are thank for giving are more than twice as likely to do it again. So the simple act of saying thank you can perpetuate the act of giving. Everybody can give their gratitude. Do you all agree?
The next thing and maybe the most precious thing that you can give is your time. At the time our president, Mary Tennant, she was running our company from like 2004 to I don’t know she stepped down three years ago. And I remember at Christmas time, everybody was going to the ritual act of giving other co-workers presents and I’ve remember seeing her in the hallway and she looked angry. The next time we had our employee leadership gathering, she suggested that we ban employee to employee and boss to employee and employee to boss giving. Most of each we don’t want to do but we feel compelled to do and instead as teams give back to our community. If you wanted to give something to each other you just do it privately, you don’t do it in the office because we didn’t want that to be a political thing. And so every year at the last meeting of the year, our teams will stand up and where do we donate our time. Did we do a fundraiser? Did we go volunteer at a soup kitchen?
So in lieu of the hundreds of dollars we spend on obligatory giving, can we direct that back into our communities? And so giving time, making it a cultural statement in your business, I’m giving you that because that changed the way I look. I never donated my time. My parents never took me to a soup kitchen. I’ve never done any of that and then the first time you do it you’re like, “Okay. This is a lot of work but it’s very rewarding” and we’ve done it ever since. Finding ways to give in your community, your church, whatever it is, volunteer, it may actually be the most precious thing you can do.
My brother-in-law is a great example, Brett, he’s not ostentatious. If he gives money, I’ll never know it but there’s a widow at our church and I think every Sunday for the last 10 years he’s driven like miles and miles at of the way to drive her to church since her husband died. And I just think like he’s giving like, right? That’s just coming from the right place so it could be given formally, you can get tax credit or not. Where could you give your time? Can you help the old guy next door mow his yard? How can we do this because it’s just rewarding? So, gratitude and then your time.
Give your money obviously is the third step. My wife and I when we first started this journey, I’ve written three books on investing. We wanted to be millionaires and so we really wanted to take every penny and put it into things that we’re working. We didn’t have a lot of cash lying around. So we started small and we ask like, what is the most common way that we like get asked to give? I think maybe our realtor, Peter Dennison, may have kind of helped us talk through this in the car but most of the time if someone coming up asking to you to buy popcorn for the boy scouts or girl scout cookies. It’s people you already know asking for a Go Fund Me for this or that. And so, we just started our “Say Yes Fund”. At the beginning of the year, we put $2500 in it and that way every time someone asked us we just say yes and get 50 bucks. And we figured that we got about 50 of those a year and most years we don’t go through all of it but our job is just to say “yes.” And I can tell you it’s a lot cooler than closing the curtains and hiding behind the couch when the girl scouts are at your door. Like when you see that person walking to the office and you know that they’ve got the notepad and you’re like, “I don’t want cookies.” It doesn’t matter, say “yes.” Help him out. So, we did that.
The other thing in real estate we can do this very easily, we try to teach people not to give automatically. So how you could you take all the decision making out of your giving choices? My wife, for years now, this is actually where the relationship with Ben started. She takes $50 out of every transaction she closes and gives it to a charity. And to our shock and dismay many years ago, just by doing this on a hundred transactions, she became one of the top 10 givers to that charity in our company and got invited to a special banquet and Ben was there. I remember him talking to me he goes, “What makes me sad is the people in our industry that make the most money.” This should be the table full of real estate agents but it was team leaders, it was office owners, it was business owners, because they’re setting a great example for us but they don’t make the most money. How can we get more agents? People who have a lot of income to give more and so we’ve been resting on that but I don’t know in your world. I know that I have my 401k money taken right off the top of my checks and I don’t notice it. Could you have other money partition from the money you earned in such a way that you just learned to live on what’s left and what’s taking out you could give automatically? So that’s the question, I don’t know how to answer in your industries. I know how we handle it but give automatically. Find ways to do it so it’s not a decision and then obviously set goals around it.
Before my wife and I set goals around tithing or anything like that, we set goals around how much money we can raise and every year we raise them. That’s kind of back in the time quadrant. If I can’t write the check, can I use my influence and my time to raise the money? All you guys can grow a mustache. I’m blonde, I can’t but the whole Movember thing, right? Set a goal. How much money can I raise for something that matters to me and make it a goal that you would pursue like any business goal? Like a lot of people do that and they don’t make it a goal. They have a target but they don’t really care if they don’t hit it because it felt good to get $500 towards $5000. We still did good, I don’t think we treat those goals the same way.
And the last two are leadership and wealth and by giving your leadership it’s the biggest investment of time you can give. How many people here are running a business? Everybody here for the most part? Okay. How much have you learned today? Do you think non-profits come to these things very often with their budgets? How much could you offer a board if you walked in and said I want to contribute? Most small charities are so hungry for people who can bring real ideas and practical advice to the table. You don’t have to be an accountant or a lawyer to do it, those professions have really wonderful traditions of volunteering. And I would just challenge you if you’re not, my wife and I have done it now for five years and she’s on the board for another charity now and bringing leadership is about an hour to a month. It’s real focus time that you can make an impact by teaching other people with organization. For me, it’s higher level.
The last one is wealth and we’re not there yet. This is where we agreed about, the Gates Foundation. Mark Zuckerberg setting aside a huge portion of his wealth. The Five Hour Energy guy, like 99% of his company was put away so that his family can’t touch it. He just gave it all away. The guy who started Duty Free made I think made $7 billion and at around 1979, 1989 he quietly set up a trust that this year, he would have given every penny he ever made away and he’s just living in apartments that were own by the company now, wearing bad suits. But his whole vision was to make money to give it away.
So what legacy can we leave as business owners and that’s the stuff that you needed an accountant for, the stuff that you needed to talk to your CPA for that you can be thinking of it. Like what would I want my business to be about? What would the Papasan Foundation be? You know I think with Acton, being such a huge influence on our family and how much I’m passionate about education. We’re kind of like I think it’s going to have to do with the children’s education but we don’t know what. I would challenge you, find something that lines up with what you do and what your business is about and can you brand it and make it to something because when your company has a charity, I know our company has two, your people become evangelists for your business. Did you know that when you do this, this happens?
When you think about the people that work at Tom’s, there’s so many great companies that have a charitable arm attached to them. Newman’s Own, right? The for profit business funds a charity. That’s actually what Zuckerberg copied. A for profit business is a match better way to make a lot of money but you can still through organizational documents dedicate a hundred percent of it to go to a non-profit you now can spend a hundred percent of its efforts not on fund raising but on delivering the goods. They set up these very synergistic things so I would challenge you like I said I can’t teach you about that, I’m studying it. I got the Newman’s Own model down and the Bill Gates model. Bill Gates model is 50% went to his foundation, 25% went to one charity of their choice and then 25% of his wealth was their say yes fund. That was everything else. They just partitioned his wealth and said, “This is where it’s all gonna go.”
But if you’re really successful and you knock it out the park, what legacy will you be leaving besides the product or service that you created? I can tell you it really invigorates me because at a certain point on mastery, it’s just what you’re doing will get a little bit boring, it almost always does. You’ll get joy and moments enjoying the journey but the excitement of building something new does go away but you can renew it with purpose. So, if you can’t tell like this is the thing.
[0:38:27] Jon: I promise you this resonates with this group.
[0:38:28] Jay: Well, this by reputation. You guys are all about purpose in giving back so I applaud you all for that.
[0:38:39] Jon: By the way, is this awesome? It’s totally cool. Jay, I want to connect the dot for you and for all of us a couple of things. I’m just sharing things that I’m hearing here that I think can really resonate. One of the things I love is that you’re reminding us not only how important purpose is but you’re reminding us that giving whether it’s time, talent, treasure, and they can happen all at once or work differently. But you’re reminding us that it is both something that gives us deep fulfillment which is so critical, we come here worried about the science of achievement but the art of fulfillment we’ve got to have that otherwise nothing is worth it, right? You hear Hal talking to us yesterday about what really matters in life. This is a group that believes so deeply that we need to succeed wildly as entrepreneurs and we’ve got to be fulfilled and I love that you’re connecting the dot that giving is a way of doing that.
And I think it’s so valuable that you’re not finishing with that and reminding us that we have permission as entrepreneurs to allow our giving to also be strategic. Give and take, Adam Grant, the strategic givers win and I thank you for making that point because it’s not something to apologize for or even hide. It’s something to let the world know. To be a light, to be an example that I am taking the wealth and the revenue that I’m generating in supporting other things that creates an inspiration for others and Jay just to connect the dots… I mean this is a room full of people that are doing this and we have people here who have given $2500 for a piece of avocado toast.
Michelle back here who is with Keller Williams. She… Shawn, on your co-creation intake form, one of the things you wrote down is a vision is multi-generational wealth and I’m so glad that you’re bringing this to this group because I want all of you to think about having a goal like multi-generational wealth. It not only can give you a sense of meaning or purpose that’s expensive but it can then give you fuel that keeps you going. I got bored with one job and I get to go on the next but that kind of mission is never going to be boring.
We have Josh Painter in the room here who we brought up on stage last night and Josh is a real-estate agent who decided to do something innovative. So I knew you mentioned you’re looking for examples, if you wanna do research, this room is full of it right here. Josh Painter, he went into his community and started something called, The Impact Club. And they said, “Anyone who wants to just give 100 bucks, we’re gonna pull it all together, we’re gonna throw a party, we’re gonna bring in local charities, we’re gonna pick one and we’re gonna write them a check for 20 grand. They started this thinking, let’s see if we could get 100 members this year and they’re already almost up to 200 members through their first party and they’re doing it quarterly just to help the local level. The dot that I wanna make sure it connect is when you and I…
[0:41:39] Jay: That’s the small contributions that add up to a lot. Because you’re at the same party, you gave a 100 but you felt like you gave 20 grand. That’s awesome. Way to go. And there’s no shame in what it’s gonna do for him and his business. I wanna connect the dot when I told you last week about how we have been trying to innovate at Quantum Leap and Through The Best Year Ever by aligning with the Front Row Foundation. I shared with you some stories about how we’re doing these fundraisers. This is the group right here that has been contributing that has turned our events into fundraisers. We’ve done it four different times now. They raised a 100 grand, 100 grand, 100 grand at the Gobundance event. I just want you to know there is some amazing examples that this community has created. So as you’re doing your research, we’re gonna give you lots of examples to keep sharing with the world.
[0:42:25]??? I think examples matter, right? Because it shows you like I get the idea but what does it look like? Ben, I’m picking on him because he’s like three or four years down the road on me and on a lot of us. One of the things, great specific example, have you ever been asked to sponsor an event? He happened into this, there is a movie series in Bellingham Washington and they have a movie every Friday night or Saturday night in the square. They called him up looking for sponsorship and he asked, “What does it cost to be a presenting sponsor? Has anybody been a presenting sponsor for anything before? I had never heard of that phrase. I guess anytime you’re doing a fundraiser, there are two or three presenting sponsors and every time they do a radio ad. Every time they do that they have to mention those people. I brought to by Dell, brought to you by this.
He said, “Yeah, the presenting sponsors $5000” and he goes, “How many do you have?” And they said, “Three.” Instead of just running a check for $5000, this is the strategic part and this is why it’s so good. He said, “If I were to take all of those slots and guarantee them into the future where I have first tried a refusal would you agree to the following terms: That I’m the only real-estate company that you’ll allow to be a sponsor; that I’m always first option no matter how much you raised, I get first option to be the only presenting sponsor and we can renew it every single year and I want signage in a booth and they agreed to all of it. Because now, the hardest job was to fill those three slots, now they’re filled forever and I’ve been to his town. Every year I go there about now to go fishing. I’m going Thursday night, I can’t wait. We’re gonna do our usual mastermind on the river and every time I drive to town, what do you see? This giant movie screen that flashes the Ben Kenney companies all week long. The amount of exposure he gets from that is just huge and so I’ve heard stories on both sides of that people who made a mistake and found it but like, go model people who are doing this at really great level. Right here in this room, what are we learning so that our dollars can go further. We can match, we can do all the cool things that you’ll learn on this journey to make your influence and impact just go that much further.
[0:44:30] Jon: It’s awesome. It’s worth noting too that the charity that we support through these events, Hal’s been the single biggest contributor in history. It’s one of those things he doesn’t ever talk about either through his community and himself they’ve given $300,000 to The Front Row in the last few years. I have to remind him, “Hey you should let your community know about these things but I’m also pointing that out too because Hal walks the talk and you don’t see him tooting his horn about it but it’s also something that drives him. It drives him to give the kind of work ethic that we wanna find the drive for that. He know he’s gonna keep giving. He automatically has funds that get funneled that drives him. Questions for Jay about The ONE Thing, about this passion around giving a purpose, just hold to we got a mic here. So we’ll expect right up here.
[0:45:21] Hector: Thanks, Jay. Hector here from Millennial Skills. I appreciate your responding to my DMs and I expect to see you in person. How do I get young people to adopt The ONE Thing philosophy? A better question is, what kind of epiphany or when you’re trying to get young people to care about contribution when they’re maybe not in the place financially, in they’re not in the place in their business even and they’re in that kind of “me” zone. What have you found has helped change that perspective to open up people to the value of contributing and the value of giving in a way that both makes them profitable and a way that is purposeful as well.
[0:46:00] Jay: These people in your business or people you’re just trying to have influence over.
[0:46:03] Hector: Influence over.
[0:46:05] Jay: I know in our business, we didn’t make it a standard but we as a company do like a poker tournament every year and we asked everyone on the team to volunteer. That was like Mary Tennant’s playbook where she asked all of us to contribute. If you can’t get them to just kind of passively just by peer pressure… Usually participation is all it takes. A couple of experiences challenged them. If you can’t influence them do coercion right even positive then I would challenge them.
I went to Noah Kagan’s house and he was interviewing me. He was talking about giving too and I issued to challenge them. I knew he was curious, right? Teaching people who aren’t ready for the message is maybe not the best use of your time but when you can tell I never use cocking his head. He was asking questions. He was curious like, what, and then challenging people to do more and to think differently about it. The first one surprised them just so the next time I challenge you, the next time you see someone giving anything or to challenge you to go up and thank them.
Give them the smallest possible domino, right? Don’t ask them to give money. But then if you can get them to volunteer, “Hey, I’m gonna do this thing. If I pick you up, will you go with me?”. Take all of the obstacles out of the way so that it can be easier for them to experience it. Because I do think that when people experience it, I believe that it will change them. In most cases if they are receptive to it at all, it really will. Just take the barriers out of the way and let them… They don’t have to jump straight to writing checks. I think that is a barrier. Kids these days with their school debt and everything else, I get it. Their mindset may not be one of abundance but they can give their time. They can volunteer. They can raise money, right? Reward someone, match funds. Have you ever mashed anyone’s phones? Just put on and say, “Look if all of you guys can raise a 1000 bucks, I don’t care how you do it, I’ll match it all.” And now they get to feel the impact that their money got doubled. There’s a reason charities do that because people would go, “Wow, my $5 just turned into 10.” They get that extra bit of something. So find way to take the barriers away so they can experience it. Honestly, the same thing with The ONE Thing.
[00:48:23] Tyler: Hey Jay, Tyler here, I’m in commercial real estate. Could you elaborate upon the vision of 13 books and how that was planned out because one of us are budding authors in here and that’s a massive vision.
[00:48:33] Jay: Cool. If you isolate me at any time and asks us, “What’s the biggest impact that Gary Keller has had on our lives and is consistently pushing us to think bigger for ourselves?” Everytime I think I’m thinking big and I run an idea by him I realized I could have thought bigger, right? There is no limit. There is no biggest idea. And he’s exercised that muscle a lot. Some of the books we’ve already written, he thinks he’s a franchise guy so he thought in franchises.
In The Millionaire Real Estate Agent, this was the first and we talked about that in The ONE Thing. At the time we wrote the book, there’s 6700 agents in Keller Williams all over the world. Today, there’s a 150,000. We weren’t fashionable among the top people and the idea was, can we write a book about the highest levels of success that might open that door for us. It was very clear that The Millionaire Real Estate Agent was going to be number one. We talked about Millionaire Real Estate Investor because we are passionate. All of us were interested and passionate about investing and then we had…
If you read General Book, would you write what about flipping, would you write what about holding. Some of those came to pass. No One Succeeds Alone is the next book in The ONE Thing series and it’s probably three or four years out. It will take a lot of research but it’s about the power of relationships. There’s some that didn’t work out. The Millionaire’s Small Business Owner which is great in concept. We even did some masterminding around it and it may show up someday but what I found out was The Millionaire Real Estate Agent like I get letters from chiropractors and doctors I mean it’s the millionaire business owner. And so it just like we didn’t happen. So he just thought, “Well, if I write this, where would that naturally lead? And If I write this, where would that naturally lead?” He doesn’t stop it with one idea. He’s capable of asking, is there a longer run of dominos?
When Gary came up with the idea for the book, he wrote a small essay called, “The Power of One” and my immediate reaction is this, “No way! Is this a book? and this is your book” because that’s what he does. This is what we need to do and then he immediately scans the horizon, what’s the biggest opportunity I could currently tackle? And the biggest opportunity is the one with most dominos behind it and so like the half of the books were like five books series, right? You know like five books in investing, it will be a bunch of books on real-estate brokerage and sales and that just ended up being two books. So, that’s just what he does and every year when we get back together and we’d ask what’s our five-year vision, what’s our one-year vision and like he just is always looking way out, what are the re-precautions. I don’t know how instructive that is, it’s just a story but he thinks in terms of franchises and lines of books. Like where one book success opens the door for more.
[0:51:19] Jon: Tyler is a big thinker. That’s a good question. I want to go to Nina.
[0:51:23] Nina: Hi, my name is Nina Parez. I just want to thank you for switching from The One Thing to contribution and giving because I have a son, he’s four and we just finished a challenge of 180 days of Frontrow moments that align with the foundation. And we were looking at the next line and we found one called 365 Give and it’s a daily give everyday and it’s designed for kids and parents to do it together.
[0:51:47] Jay: Wow! That’s so cool. 365 Give, is that the name of it?
[0:51:50] Nina: Yeah, exactly! And I just wanted to share that with you and I just want to share with everybody when I told Gavin I said, “We have to think of things to give” and he goes, “We could give smiles.” That was his first give that we’re going to do.
[0:52:00] Jay: I love it. That’s awesome. That is cool.
[0:52:04] Jon: Can we give Nina a one clap on one? One.
[0:52:08] Speaker: I’m going to piggyback off of Tyler’s question and the one thing they talk about how that book was one of a hundred ideas, I believe on how to scale Keller Williams.
[0:52:21] Jon: Good memory.
[0:52:22] Speaker: And I’m just curious, were you part of that process and what would you know about that process and… Because you know Gary and you know how his organization’s work.
[0:52:33] Jay: I was still working in the tech department while they were brainstorming in the other room and all I know is when you told me that story I was like pretty much the only idea that only was going to rest on his shoulders was the book. And it’s no surprise that everybody was like, “Well, why don’t you write a book Gary?” like everybody has a job and so he stepped out of his role and did the book.
[0:52:53]Speaker: And the question was, what is the one thing that we can do as a real estate company that would make everything else easier and necessary that lead to a list of a hundred?
[0:53:02] Jay: The question was in real estate is a really strange industry, right? If a 10 million dollar producer joined your company, our research shows three more agents would join without you having to work for them. And the number one corollary to having profit in the brokerage business is the number of agents that you have in it. And we’ve been that study year after year after year and not just like that’s why our model is built for that, can we support them and the largest number of agents because that correlates most to profit.
Well, if I can get a four for one every time I recruit someone, doesn’t that accelerate the process? So they were asking the question, how do we become… Because 10 million was a lot back then. Today, agents can do that in their 2nd year but you look up and 10 million used to be this huge hallmark of success like how can be fashionable to them? Noone had written the book on teams. Nobody had really explored that and it was a very disruptive idea in our industry because it was consolidating a lot of income. This is very deep in the weeds but it was a very purposeful book. One, it had to deliver the goods because most real estate agents back in 2002 were talked about like sales people not business people. And you’ve met some of the ones in this room, would you call them sales people or business people? The industry has definitely grown up and we were there at that moment where nobody was ready to say it yet but they were running a million dollar businesses. These are business people and so we tried to change the language around that and that was his differentiation. We can be different than our competitors by acknowledging what’s already going to happen. By not fighting it, we’ll be the only ones to embrace it.
In terms of the people who want to write a book. As a business owner, when someone comes up and like, your team should join our company, well why is that when we can write the book on that. That’s Gary talking right there, that’s not Jay. We wrote the book on it. You can own the language and the intellectual property around of changing your industry. And some of that’s luck and we’ve tried many many times to change the language. There’s more acronyms and stupid language in our company than any other but every now and then we nail it and then we get to own that word and that’s something that I’ve seen is being very valuable as if you can take ownership over a change. In the industry, people will naturally seek you out. Does that help?
[0:55:28] Speaker: Yeah, absolutely!
[0:55:29] Jay: I know you wanted me to be in the room on the brainstorming. Yes.
[0:55:33] Speaker: You research about language of the real estate category about going individual to team very intentional.
[0:55:40] Jay: And that’s marketing 101. I’m trying to think is that the Al Ries book. Whatever category you’re in, sub-divide it until you can be number one and that’s the only business you want to be in.
[0:55:51] Speaker: What is that, The Immutable Laws of Marketing?
[0:55:53] Jay: Yeah, The Immutable Laws. There we go, Immutable Laws and like that’s why you had… We’re the leader in laptops, we’re the leaders in servers. You’ll always going to be broken down. The small businesses is all we don’t think that way and so we became the category of the big brokerage that supported the team and that happened to be a great moment in time to embrace that as more and more agents were moving that direction. I didn’t have that perspective at that time I was just writing a book but historically now I can kind of see of like, “Wow! He was seeing a lot more than the rest of us were.”
[0:56:26] Speaker: Hey Jay, I just want to say thank you because I’m a lender but I’ve read The Millionaire Real Estate Agent, I think four times now and my copies all dog-eared and it’s a phenomenal book for anybody in any business you should read it because the stuff about lead generation is really really great. I think everybody in this room and a lot of people in real estate have been in five, six, seven year bull market and regardless of what you think about the macro economy like we’re probably closer to a peak than a valley. What are you guys seeing with the top teams in the real estate, with you guys at the corporate level like, what do you guys doing to prepare for the eventual rainy day down turn, whatever the hell you want to call it that comes in a month, a year, a decade. How are you guys being proactive about the possible downside?
[0:57:06] Jay: Well, Gary is like, he survived two major recessions, right? So Gary Keller got his real estate license and on 79, right? He started selling in Austin, Texas where he never lived and within two years his rates went up to 19% and then you had the Tax Act in 1986 and the savings and loan bust and the real estate market in Austin crashed half the board left. So he was good as the engine that was built on the worst possible market and that’s been the mantra and we have 150,000 agents and we still only have 250 employees. And we are dwarfed by much smaller competitors in terms of their cost structures so very lean and mean.
I just think that when people are really being successful, it’s very easy, I need more space, I need more space. And one of the mantras we’re preaching and we track it I mean I can tell you exactly the month where the most number of our corporate leases will come up because we went out immediately and tracked every lease for every office. Because if the future’s the internet of real estate, the last thing you want to do is sign a seven-year lease for a business right before that happens. And so we’re tracking the things that could be the most harmful to us, it’s not where you put all your energy but you resist those things. You have to ask different questions, well how can we operate at this high market with so little space because in a shifted market in any industry, the first competitor to find their margin can immediately take that margin and start putting that other guys out of business.
That was an eye opener for me as a business person but the first person who finds their margin like everybody else is going, “Oh god. We’re going to the five stages of grief.” They have admitted it that the market has turned and so we’ve been trying to hold our big teams accountable to variable expenses versus fixed expenses because a shoe could drop in two years or could drop in two months, we don’t know. You can’t predict the future. Nobody’s got a crystal ball but we do know historically we’re overdue. And so the people who are not in real estate, hopefully your real estate investors this is a great time to be hoarding cash. The people who went into the last recession with the war chest, I looked at 2011, homes will never be more affordable than they were that year. The prices had drop nationally about like 20, 30% and interest rates were at an all-time low. So money was cheap, houses were cheap, it was a tremendous transfer of wealth at these moments.
One of the great opportunities of any shift, any market, whatever industry you’re in, it gets disruptive is that it’s always an opportunity to grab market share. There’s a guy named Jeff Calkins, he’s a fortune editor. He wrote a book called, “The Upside of the Downturn” and my big takeaway from that book was companies who lose market share in a downturn rarely get it back and those who take it rarely give it back. So, it is the time like you don’t gain market share to top of the market. So, we see this huge opportunity, we went from being number four in the world to number one during the worst real estate recession since the great depression. And it wasn’t by accident because we went into that knowing it was going to be painful but if we were smarter and leaner and more focused on delivering value, we would emerge and then when the market rises you got to disproportionate share of the reward.
But that’s just where you’re at right now. We have to remember our discipline as business owners and not start taking on giant cause a lease is just debt. You had to personally signed for it, almost everybody in this room, Gary still has to do that at times. It’s a huge risk for your business because if the market goes away, you’re still stuck with this giant payment. I don’t know if that answers your question but we’re watching it, debt, fixed expenses, leases, that’s where we’re hardest on right now. Iit take all that money and regenerate with it.
[1:01:08] Jon: I want to ask you a question Jay. You have so much experience…
[1:01:09] Jay: The photographer wants a question.
[1:01:17] Josh: My question is I really, sincerely, appreciate the whole area of giving. I consider myself kind of a serial giver and a lot of my success has been centered around giving but I constantly give up my time, my knowledge, my experience and all of those things but I often find when I meet someone, a client, a friend, a family member, a business lead, I tend to get a lot of resistance for just giving. I get resistance in my own organization or if it’s the client or the friend or a stranger. They think there’s an agenda. It’s something that I’ve really faced a lot personally so I just wanted to beget your thoughts on the resistance to just giving without any questions attached.
[1:02:11] Jay: That’s a great question so thank you. Usually a lot of people who have issues with receiving and we all know them. “Let me get the check.” “No, no, no.” Like I mean my Dad’s that way. It drives me insane. Can I please just get the check one time in my lifetime? They’re some people who just don’t do well. In business, I think if you’re giving and it is strategic, be transparent about it or have a reason for it to make sense, right? So, a lot of people who give all the time also put real strict guidelines on it. They’ll give anybody a five-minute favor but above that, there has to be some earning because people will take five-minute favour and there are also people that are just takers that will eat up all of your time and you’ll end up at the bottom of givers.
So, I remember the five-minute favours and I started putting a series of trip wires in my life. I never want to say no to someone who wants advice on a book because I got a lot of it but now I have a series of trip wires for them to earn that time and I limit it. And so, I just think if you tell people that you have a program for doing it and it doesn’t feel random, they’ll actually maybe be feel more comfortable with it. So you know I’m always willing to do one hour of free consulting because people did that for me when I was a photographer and you wouldn’t believe, it actually gets his business sometimes so it’s a good business move so don’t feel too guilty but it also opens up a lot of relationships. Give them a rational, make it a script and then it will serve you for your business. The last thing you want in response to giving, is a suspicion. You know, that’s not working for you either. So come up with a script that helps people understand why you’re dealing it. And if they still say no then respect it, say, “I got that, no problem” but let me know the offer stands whatever you want to say. I find it when I put a trip wire in front of my giving, 9 out of 10 people go away and my rule is if they they won’t help themselves, I’d rather invest my time in other people. When you read this book and then I’ll talk to you. Will you watch this video? Then I’ll talk to you. It’s just that simple. It’s not like when you climb this mountain with a sack full of rocks.
[1:04:15] Jon: But it is a trip wire, right. Josh, thank you for that. That’s great. On behalf of the group, you have so much experience with writing. We have a lot of authors and aspiring authors in here. I just want to ask you and I know this could be a multiple, never-ending conversation but for those that are aspiring or in the process of writing or they’ve already written their next edition, what advice do you have success factors to books that worked, that stick, that succeed?
[1:04:42] Jay: Okay. I’ll organize my thoughts around this and that gonna make you all watch a video before I say anything. I see that little work around there. The first question I usually ask people is why do you want to write a book. I think the number one answer I get was, say this and people always say “You should write a book about this.” And my questions is, what qualified them to tell you that that was a book. I was a professional editor for five years and I had to read a lot of really bad manuscripts. A book is, I’m sure Hal could tell you this, a book is a labor or love, you need to really be called to write a book if you’re gonna do it or see true purpose and how that’s gonna serve you in your business.
I think of this in terms of not your novel, I think about your business book, right? I usually ask, will it serve you better to do a video or teach a class. You can actually make a lot more money of those things and do them a lot faster because people are a lot more forgiving hearing a podcast or watching a video. So the first thing I ask, is it really a book I need to write or do I have information I need to share and is this the right medium. If you decided it is a book because I’m usually giving this advice to realtors most of them are already comfortable presenting. This is what we do. It may not work for you. If you don’t have an outline yet and you’re not sure where to begin, teach your book. I don’t care if you go to an old folk’s home or your kid’s school. If you can teach a one day seminar. Most people the simple idea of filling out a slide deck is something they can do. They can put headers, they can put lists. They have to do certain conventions tell them what you’re gonna tell them, tell them what you told them. There is a rhythm to a simple presentation and do that 20 times and what you’ll get is you’ll find out looking in people’s eyes. People will not thank you, nod their head and send the energy back from the back of the room. You’ll start to hear what works and doesn’t work because what’s inside you that’s what editors do their reader’s advocates because authors are often blind to what the readers need cause they’re saying what they need to say and editors help them put that into other words. Teaching the book can be a fabulous vehicle, one to finding out if there’s a market and really testing your stories again and again.
The other one would be just to write everyday. I’m trying to really distill this. I always go back and say do it in the morning. I know very very few professional, successful writers that write after the kids are in bed. I know plenty that write before the kids wake up. I mean you all know this. I don’t need to preach the morning to you guys but it is a better time even if you’re only writing 10 words a day, it will light up overtime. But if you really are gonna be the writer then you have to start writing. Telling people about ideas from me, I’ll wait a long time before I’ll teach a book and then I’m actively exploring as there’s a book I was doing that today. I did it in a family reunion, I did it last year at a family reunion, our big convention. I’m testing, is this good enough for a book, are people responding to it, can they take action on it? I’m collecting news stories because the people in the room are acting on it are giving me case studies. I started great one on giving and I am gonna follow up. I love the Impact Club. That’s awesome. So I think that’s just a great method so you write, you collect, you teach but just talking about it to dinner parties, I’m not sure that’s the best use of your creative energy cause you might have enough fun telling it but you won’t gonna write it. Lastly I would say unless you really identify as a writer, hire someone. Tucker’s gonna speak tomorrow, is that right?
[01:08:20] Jon: Yeah.
[01:08:21]Jay: His company, Book in a Box, I know people have used it. When you put the dollar value of your time into writing a book, what you can get for $15,000 from them is pretty solid for a self-published author. There’s nothing stopping you from taking that product and then tweaking it tweaking it until it’s perfect. But if you’re not a writer, hire one. Hire service, whatever and then hold them really accountable to capturing the message. Is anybody here impatient just a little bit? Didn’t want to make presumptions because when I came in you were like meditating.
The thing about a book, I remembered Gary and he would interrogate everything that we wrote. I described it to my wife, I said, “I feel like he is reading it as if it’s his worst enemy.” At the time, it was Dave Liniger, his worst competitor. Like he’s reading over his shoulder waiting for him to slip up. He was so protective and at the time they felt even negative to me. Now I think what Gary understood intuitively as a business person when I was learning, it’s not a website, it’s not software. There is no 2.0 that you can push out to all the existing 1.0 users. When you put your words out into the world, you’re not there to defend them and you can’t replace them if you got it wrong. Setting a goal, a deadline around it is fine but we’ve never hold ourselves to our deadlines. Our publishers hate us. Because I would rather be very late and great than on time and something that rhymes with on time maybe just fine.
But I do take the time to make it… Because it’s your name. It’s your reputation that is going out there. It doesn’t have to be perfect that have really people who can be tough with you. Maybe in this group you all can be really tough with each other and just say, “You don’t have to be the grammarian for them.” Just say, ” This is not ready yet. You need to keep doing it and let people know the truth.” That would be my quick advice.
[01:10:22] Jon: That’s awesome. Do you have time if I fire two more quick questions.
[01:10:25] Jay: Yeah. Sure, maybe three.
[01:10:27] Jon: Alright. We do have a lot of folks in here that are authors and in the process of writing or just about to start. We live in a changing world right now, what are the kinds of trends that you are seeing that if you are about to start a book you’d say, “Hey make sure you’re paying attention to your XYZ.” Whether it’s trends in what readers and let’s just assume we all write to business professionals. What they tolerate? How I organize information? How I deliver it types of information that people are receptive to. Any trends at all that you see?
[01:10:58] Jay: Alright. Here are some just general tips. One, I don’t think anybody needs to get a publisher in New York anymore. I’ve really don’t see the value of preposition of the big publishers. It’s very rare that your book, the time and effort it will take and the control you’ ll have to give away. I think I said, you may already know this so you see it from what Hal’s done. The value of proposition they have to offer any new author is very very slim and you could be tied up for a very long time. That contracts are not nice and they will lock you into multiple book contracts and you will feel flattered because it’s Harper Collins or Random House. I would go and just be really successful and if you are they will come calling and then you can name your terms.
So first and foremost, I don’t think there’s any stigma in self-publishing. I wouldn’t worry about it. I would just go be successful anyway and then if you’re really catching an audience, you can entertain having someone who has a lot of trucks, carry books to bookstores which is what you can’t do by yourself but you don’t have to with Amazon. The other big mistake I see people make is you need to design your cover, pay a few bucks for a professional for starters, don’t let your kids do it. Lay it out, pay for a proofreader, pay for a copy editor. Those are two separate people. Copy editor will make your sentences work and a proofreader has to have a fresh set of eyes to catch everything that the copy editor didn’t. Our publisher, Ray Bard paid for four separate proofreadings of our book and we still had an error on it. But he knew that this is going out in the world in large numbers and we want it to get it right. When people see simple errors that could have been prevented early on the book, you’ve lost their trust. The first five pages, you gained their trust. The first five fifty hopefully to five, they won’t keep reading if you don’t do it there. The first fifty is where you can get them to hang on for as long as they’re gonna read. Whenever I read manuscripts at Harper Collins, it was five, fifty and then maybe the whole book but if I didn’t feel it in five, I throw it away. I don’t care if someone spent 20 years on it. If they can’t get the job, get my attention in five pages, today’s audience you need to be really hard on those first pages, right?
Covers, I was going covers. Everything today is marketed in emails. I learned this from my friend, Stefan Swanepoel. He went to the bookstore. He took a picture of the business book section and all the bestselling racks. When he was looking at covers, he would photoshop all of them in and to see what stood out and what didn’t. I’ll tell you that covers go to trends and we picked white. One because it fit the message of the book but because everything else was black or red and our book would really stand out on the bookshelves. We took his idea and then I printed out the page when I’m searching for books on Amazon around the topic, the search results. I printed an email from Amazon and guess what some of the images of book covers are like less than an inch tall. If you aren’t designing a book cover and looking at it and that people may not be able to see your name or the title which is why we’ve gone to The Millionaire Real Estate Agent was a disaster at one time. Luckily, it has an iconic design that people in the industry know. They called it, The Red Book. But if it’s not iconic at a very small level, it’s very hard to get people to click on that and therefore discover your book.
So acknowledge how books are being shared and don’t be afraid to give it away. We’ve been in Amazon Prime now for four straight months. Our hardcover sales have dropped every single month because when you can buy the hardcover you get it for free but our overall number of books being read has like quintupled. So in terms of a larger audience at the end of the day if you’ve read a good book people talking about your book, will sell books for years. It’s an investment, it’s the way I see it.
[01:14:55] Jon: Jay one phrase that you’ve used six or seven times today either the phrase “our research” or “the research”. How important is research and any advice on if it is or how to use it in a book.
[01:14:58] Jay: Well, if any of you ever worked with a PR person, they’re gonna say, “Why does anybody want to read this book. Why does anybody care?” It’s like, why do I care? Think about a New York publicist. Completely cynical. Why should I care? And then you’re gonna tell why this book is important. Then they’re gonna say, “What qualifies you to write it? Why should I listen to you?” Research is one of the ways you can earn it. I think of research is marketing. Go back to The Millionaire Next Door, we interviewed a hundred millionaires. You had me there. What did you find out? That’s Napoleon Hill isn’t it? Did he go around doing that?
I mean it’s new but research is a form of marketing to me and again it’s a form of staying engaged. When I know the truth about something like habits and I read someone who’s got an old version of the truth, I then question things that are around that, that make sense? At least do a google search around what you’re writing about and see do I have at least the latest information? But I think research is good marketing and also I just have a personal philosophy. I told you I want people to act on things. Experientially what ten amazingly successful people have in common is something that almost anyone can do. Whereas I couldn’t maybe replicate what any individual will do. There are common traits among many people and that’s the reason we do it. That’s like my default mode. I’m gonna talk to 20 people who’ve done at a really high level. I’m gonna ask them the same questions, gonna see where’s the commonality because chances are that’s something I can do too.
[01:16:43] Jon: Awesome. Last question. When you think about your future, what kind of images or visions, dreams, goals get you most excited right now when you wake up everyday?
[01:16:54] Jay: Gosh. So hard for me to think beyond five years. That’s the last time like we really looked out. The legacy thing for me because we don’t know the charity I don’t know but I know it’s gonna involve my kids, my family. I mean I know that that’s always there every vision of the future and lately I’ve been at my ranch with our ostrich. I think about retiring some place in the country where I can write and read. That’s like my future and be with my family. I don’t know if that’s what you wanted me to say but I don’t know what my… The books are part of my legacy, I get that when I’m writing them. But I do wanted to be about something bigger but I haven’t pictured it out yet just to be honest with you.
[01:17:33] Jon: That’s cool.
[01:17:35] Jay: I wanted to get it right. Thank you.
[01:17:36] Jon: Close to right. We think you’re doing okay. Jay, thank you. I think no doubt your time with us is gonna help us to create Quantum Leaps in our lives, in our businesses. You’ve been massively generous today with your wisdom, your time, your heart, your talent so can we give Jay a huge Quantum Leap kind of applause. It’s been awesome.
[01:17:56] Jay: Thanks a lot guys. Thanks for having me, man.
[01:17:59] Jon: Thanks, man. Awesome. Really appreciate it. Jay Papasan, let’s give it up!
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