Have you ever listened to a Podcast get hijacked?
While we normally spotlight a guest’s perspective on the show and discuss ways to act on their insights, this episode is going to be a bit different. On this episode of Ignition Point, we’re not just talking about how to positively disrupt a process through experimentation, we’re doing it LIVE. That’s right, we’re turning over the reins to our Summer Intern – Sam Fabricant – to shake things up and seek discomfort by stepping out of our normal show format.
Click the Play Button right now to find out what happens on Sam’s takeover!
If you’re looking for advice, have leadership questions, or have always wanted to ask me something about myself or the show; now you can submit your questions by visiting bit.ly/IgnitionPointAMA to be featured in our upcoming Q+A Segments.
You can also leave a review for the show by going to ratethispodcast.com/IgnitionPoint. All of your thoughts, feedback and suggestions are appreciated, but please be sure to follow the show wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts to be notified whenever new episodes drop.
STEVEN MILLER: Hey, what’s going on? Before we start the show, I have just one quick question. Have you ever felt like you were caught in a time loop, like the movie Groundhog Day? It’s actually pretty common; we all have this natural tendency to get locked into comfort or attached to habits; and here’s the kicker – it’s never easy to break habits or disrupt a process. So, to show you that you can and should seek discomfort and challenge your process every now and then – on this episode of Ignition Point – we’re going to try something different. With the help of my summer intern.
So, let’s get after it!
(THEME MUSIC PLAYS)
SAM FABRICANT: Welcome to Ignition Point – the show that’s here to get you fired up and ready to win the week.
If you’re looking to amplify your mindset with a fresh perspective – you’re in the right place.
WELCOME + INTRO
SAM FABRICANT: Hey! What’s going on? I’m Sam Fabricant and you’re listening to Ignition Point – the show that’s here to get you fired up and ready to win the week.
On today’s episode, I’m joined by Steven Miller.
Steven’s the founder of Decisive Leap; a phoenix-based agency that helps develop authentic Brand Identities for Micro Businesses and Personal Brands in order to accelerate Personal Brand Success, strengthen operating culture, and connect with customers to form lasting relationships.
He’s also the regular host of this Podcast, but today we’re shaking things up and being bold – stepping out of the normal show format and into the unknown.
That’s right, this is a takeover. I’m the captain now, so Steven, welcome to the show!
(TRANSITION MUSIC PLAYS)
IGNITION POINT TAKEOVER – INTERVIEW
SAM FABRICANT: Thanks for taking the time to join me today, Steven.
STEVEN MILLER: Happy to do so, Sam. What’d you have in mind today? What’re we going to be talking about?
SAM FABRICANT: I’ve got some questions prepared, and we’re just going to see how it goes.
STEVEN MILLER: Sweet. Let’s start rolling them.
SAM FABRICANT: So, it should kind of come as no surprise that I’m new to this whole interviewing thing, but one of the shows that you and I have talked about a lot is Hot Ones. One of Sean Evans’, recurring segments is called “Explain that Gram”, where he does a deep dive on his guests’ Instagram’s asking them to explain a certain photo. Obviously, we can’t do that here, but in Sean Evans fashion, I’m going to be rattling off some names and you’re going to be giving some quick feedback on them. Let’s start with a popular guy. Gary Vaynerchuk.
STEVEN MILLER: Gary Vee, alright. Easy thought on Gary Vee is, “an acquired taste.” Ideally, he’s like the perfect person for an individual who’s already fired up but needs that additional guidance and direction. Gary kicks ass when it comes to giving somebody a task list or, you know, the immediate next step. But he is absolutely somebody that you can only go to if you’re okay with that level of energy. He’s in your face the entire time,
SAM FABRICANT: Right, yeah. I totally agree. Gary is definitely a little provocative. And he said himself, had he stopped swearing and all this different stuff, his popularity would rise, but that’s who he is and he sticks to his brand, and I’m all for that if that’s what he thinks he should be doing. What are your thoughts on Eric Thomas?
STEVEN MILLER: Eric Thomas is a name that’s a little bit off the beaten path for most. So, if you’re listening to this and you don’t recognize that name, he’s also known as “ET the Hip Hop Preacher,” and in my world, Eric is an absolute bad-ass who is willing to say the things that all the other people won’t. He’s willing to be that audacious and just lay it out in a way that is completely real.
SAM FABRICANT: I’m right there with you. How about Tim Ferris?
STEVEN MILLER: The only way that I can characterize Tim Ferris is just straight away productivity genius. That’s it. I mean, he’s got the book The Four-Hour Work Week and it’s brilliant by way of how he systematizes his entire life and makes it so well time managed. But I love what he has to say on in terms of productivity and getting these bigger, better tools into your array.
SAM FABRICANT: Totally. The way he explains that you can kind of work from anywhere and be where you want and do what you love at the same time is awesome. Well, although I haven’t been able to build up my reading stamina that high yet, reading is definitely something I have a passion for. Almost all of the most successful people read every day. Warren Buffet reads five to six hours a day. Bill Gates aims to read a book a week, and Mark Cuban reads three hours per day. What would you say are some of the top books that you’ve ever read?
STEVEN MILLER: So, I always come back to three. There’s three books that I just think are eye-openers things that people don’t necessarily think about. And while one of them is more on the irreverent side of things, the number one book that I personally recommend is Unfuck Yourself by Gary John Bishop. I think it’s a phenomenal book. The subtitle for the book is actually, “get out of your head and get into the moment,” and that’s a really empowering idea just in and of itself. So, to be able to have a book like that on your shelf or in your list; it can help anybody, and it’s not like some of this positive mumbo jumbo that somebody’s just throwing at you. And again, that kind of aligns with my original vision for Ignition Point. Like, I didn’t want this to just be, “Oh, you’re a lion! Go and do all the things that you know that you can do!” It’s not that. It’s about being realistic about having a positive mindset and using the right tools to get yourself out of negative self-talk. So, that’s one of the books that I personally love and recommend a ton.
SAM FABRICANT: Yeah, it’s definitely on my list. Let’s hear number two.
STEVEN MILLER: The second one definitely is, is an acquired taste for some, but if you know the actor H. Jon Benjamin – he’s the voice behind Archer and Bob from Bob’s Burgers, even, I think it’s the camp director from Wet Hot American Summer or something like that – he wrote a phenomenal book that’s called Failure is an Option. It’s also subtitled as “an Attempted Memoir,” because again, he’s always been huge on failure all across his life. He takes you through a series of short stories that really explain why failure is so important and why people cannot just say to themselves that, “if they fail, they fail and that’s a terrible thing.”
Failure is an amazing thing. It’s what you learn from; it’s where you actually can pull these little nuggets of wisdom from that you can improve the rest of your life from. Otherwise. If you don’t learn, you’re not moving forward. So, Failure is an Option by H. Jon Benjamin – fantastic book – and the third one is a personal favorite that I was introduced to by my dad, which was The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. I’ve spoken about it on the podcast in the past. I love this book. I love everything that they talk about. It’s a short read. It’s fantastic.
SAM FABRICANT: Sticking to the arts and shifting from literature into music a bit. I learned that in college, you actually started out with the ambition of going into the music industry.
STEVEN MILLER: Yeah, that was a time.
SAM FABRICANT: Music is often a big part of people’s lives and I know it’s a big part of mine; what kinds of things can people learn from the music industry that they can apply to business?
STEVEN MILLER: So, I’m going to take a little bit of a divergent approach here. And if you’re listening to this and you are in the music industry, I’m going to apologize to you wholeheartedly, but it shouldn’t be a secret that the music business and entertainment isn’t necessarily the most integrity-led field. There’s a lot of climbing over one another, there’s a lot of getting a leg up on one another. It’s the idea that every single person is a rung on the ladder, and you have to step up on top of them to get over them to the next level.
When I was a sophomore in college, I decided to move away from the music industry. I had already been working with the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation with Scott Aiges and Kia Robinson over there, and it was an amazing time. I mean, I got to learn so much about what the music business is like in New Orleans, but the problem is is that when you return to that original idea of constantly stepping up and over other people, I couldn’t get on board with that idea. I couldn’t because it violated my core values by way of my own integrity. So, the lesson there – at least to me – is that if you want to operate with integrity; if you really give a shit about other people and making other people feel better in their own world or better in their own skin or helping raise people up as opposed to stepping over them, the lesson is that the music business is not for you. It just isn’t, and that’s okay because every single person has different priorities and different core values in their life. So, for me, I would rather go into a space where I can help people realize who they are and bring that forward. Again, it’s a roundabout way of answering your question, but like the lesson from the music business is get more in touch with your core values, be really attuned to who you are and be authentic in that, and know that you don’t have to step up and over people in life to get ahead.
SAM FABRICANT: Yeah, for sure. And you had mentioned your third book was talking about failure, and although maybe your internship wasn’t a failure, it was able to teach you like, “Hey, maybe this isn’t for me.”
Music is a big part of your life, I’m sure, as it is of most people; so, I have to ask the question, who are some of your favorite artists right now?
STEVEN MILLER: Again, like most things they come in threes with me. Three that have been really prevalent lately have been Run the Jewels. I think they’ve got one of the best albums out right now, straight away. It is just real, it’s raw, and it speaks to everything that we’re experiencing in society right now. Similarly comes the second artist, which is Twenty-One Pilots. I’ve always been a really big fan of theirs, but they put out a song, I want to say two or three weeks into quarantine, that was just very bold. It was called Level of Concern. And it spoke to like really tangible ideas of how we’re dealing with quarantine, how we’re dealing with the fallout of our interpersonal relationships, amidst this worldwide pandemic, and this gigantic bigger issue.
But the thing that made it really cool is that they were exclusively making this song, passing a USB drive back and forth via mail, as opposed to just doing it the way the rest of the world would via the internet. They wanted to protect the song, but they also wanted to stick with the times. You know, I think that’s a really cool thing. And then the third artist for me – it’s not like they’re hyper prevalent, but Fleetwood Mac is always big to me. I’ve always loved it. It’s such a comfort music. That to me is the most important thing about any type of music when you’ve got it in your life and Fleetwood Mac to me is the most comfortable music. I love it.
SAM FABRICANT: Yeah. I really liked what you made about your second point with Twenty-One Pilots.
I’m a big country fan, and one of the first songs that was put out during quarantine was Six Feet Apart by Luke Combs. The concept of that song of like being away from family and being isolated was really cool. So, sticking to current times, obviously with what’s going on with COVID and even with the distributed workforces starting the trend of working remotely. How have you embraced working from home?
STEVEN MILLER: When I started this show a little over a year ago, what not everybody realizes is that I started this show right when I was starting my business, and that was just as I was leaving another business. So, I had been working in software for like five years prior to that, but when you’re starting a business, you don’t have the luxury of like, “oh, I’ve got all this cash flow. I’ve got all this money saved up. I’ve got this surplus and I can go and get an office space and all this stuff.” No; when you’re in that startup mindset and you’re really bootstrapping from day one, you have to make due with what you’ve got.
So, I actually started out working strictly from home, working from coffee shops. in all of those little atmospheres where I was working with my clients directly – so even in their offices. So, I was already naturally falling into the idea distributed workforce and I loved it. I loved it because I could shake up my environment every single day if I wanted to; I had so much freedom. But the truth behind it is, is that I’ve already become very accustomed to working from home because of that, not because of COVID. The part about COVID that sucks is that I don’t have the privilege of being able to go out and freshen my environment constantly, like I had become accustomed to. So, it’s kind of just dealing with the mental gymnastics associated with being locked in your office at all times again, just as I was when I was working in the software world. So, my office at home has kind of just become a static workplace again. So, once the quarantines are lifted and all that, I’m going to absolutely revel in the day that I can go back to Maverick Coffee or go to Coffee Plantation, or even AZ Co-Work, which is just around the corner and be able to just sit at one of their workstations, work there, freshen my environment, and of course meet new people.
SAM FABRICANT: I totally agree. As a student, classes at home are kind of hard, but homework at home is something I’m familiar with. So, my desk and my chair are kind of all I know when it comes to work and adjusting hasn’t been too difficult for me.
STEVEN MILLER: But how’s the entire experience been for you on the relationship front? Like, how have you been able to maintain your relationships with your friends? Or has there been more of a difficulty with actually having friendships now?
SAM FABRICANT: Obviously, the world is so involved in social media these days. So, some would argue that social media is terrible, and all the technology use is excessive, but social media has been a really big thing for me. Facetiming friends, texting friends; I’ve seen a few friends but like making sure to stay outside, playing guitar with my buddies, and kind of just hanging out. So, it’s definitely been difficult to maintain relationships, but making sure that I’m doing my part, that I’m not spreading anything as well.
You had talked about how you were starting Ignition Point in your answer a little bit. And it’s probably my favorite podcast, but one of my favorite things about Ignition Point is its quotability and all the analogies that are used. I know you’re a big baseball guy, and I’ve got a quick story for all of you.
STEVEN MILLER: Make sure to cite your sources because I’m not sure if it’s verified or not.
SAM FABRICANT: So, I would say it’s a trusted source. Larry Miller, Steven’s father, had given me this story and the story goes along the lines of, when Steven’s around 14 or 15, he was playing baseball in the outfield and for whatever reason, he had tripped and essentially broken his ankle. And he kept saying like, “don’t take me out of the game. Don’t take me out of the game.”
And to me, that’s awesome. And the second part of the story is, they ended up having to pull him out of the game and brought him to the sidelines, and they were like, “Steven, we’ve got to take you to the hospital, your ankle’s broken,” and he said, “no, I want to stay and watch.” So, he stayed the rest of the game; and you kept your foot elevated and cheered on your teammates. That says a lot about you and putting the team first. So, I have to ask, is there a baseball analogy that you think fits in well with you or Ignition Point or even your business, Decisive Leap?
STEVEN MILLER: So, there’s definitely a couple that I can immediately think of, but the thing that stands out to me most about the story itself is, number one, yeah – completely true story. I broke my ankle in the outfield when I effectively had collided with the centerfielder at the time. So, there was a pop fly was hit, right center gap. And the centerfielder – who I still remember to this day, Scott Simper – was running to the ball. I was as well. We both got to it roughly at the same time. I think he made the catch because he was significantly bigger than me. Like, I think he was probably like 5′ 11,” and for those of you that have only heard me on the podcast and don’t know me in person, I am a startlingly tall 5′ 3”.
So, I’ve been that height pretty much since I was 14. I peaked in terms of height, certainly have not peaked in terms of talent; but when I was in those moments and I was coming towards Scott, he didn’t call the ball. But the point is is that he didn’t call it, so I didn’t know he was coming. So, when I collided with him, my ankle basically shot forward underneath me because it just stopped in its tracks and that caused the break. But when I was in that moment, and every other moment before that, I’m always charging at the ball. So, part of the analogy is the idea that, you know, you always charge at the goal. And for me, I always, always, always do that.
Other side of it: it also kind of has been my own thought process through life; like whenever I was training for baseball, I was always the smallest person on the field. There was no middle ground to that, I was always the smallest on the field, and I had to really prove myself in every single way. So, what ended up happening over time is, because I was consistently busting my ass, I ended up earning a nickname that was honestly really humbling to me via one of my favorite athletes who I grew up learning about in baseball – not necessarily that I had the opportunity to see him play – but that player was Pete Rose. And I ended up earning his nickname, which was Charlie Hustle.
And that was, you know, one of the big things for me; it was Charlie Hustle or it was Rudy. It was the person that is just always going to give it his 110% in order to reach that goal. So, for me, that’s a big part of it and I put that into all of who I am within my own personal brand, but also within every single thing that I do.
So, the alternative side of it is just the analogy of stealing second base. So, I’m not the fastest person in the world. I’m never going to claim to be; you can only move so fast at 5’ 3”. If you’ve got little legs, you’ve got to move them two times faster than somebody that is 6′ 2″ and can get there in a quarter of the time that you can. But, the point is, is that stealing second base is the most exciting part of baseball, at least in a lot of people’s eyes and mine especially, because you’re up against the clock. If that pitch is going to the catcher, and that’s when you’re running, you’re playing a time game. And to me that applies not only to baseball, but to business and to life because in a lot of ways, it’s an art form and it brings up the phrase, “stealing like an artist.”
So, when we’re thinking about all of the world that we see around us, and we think about different shows and different content that’s been out there, it’s about repurposing what’s been done. So again, nobody claims to reinvent the process of stealing second base, right? So, if we’re thinking about stealing what we see around us, it’s not like we’re consciously making the decision to plagiarize. It’s that we’re constantly making the decision to make it our own. So, for me, the idea of stealing like an artist – stealing second base is finding the craftier way to put your own spin on things to be able to get ahead. And that’s really where the link comes there of getting from first to second. You’re only going to get there if you’re crafty about it in some way.
SAM FABRICANT: Yeah. That’s awesome. You brought up a bunch of really good analogies with charging and everything you do and stealing second and stealing like an artist.
I’d like to shift gears a little bit. One thing that most people don’t know about you is that you’re an advisor for local teen youth group, in BBYO. BBYO for those of you that don’t know, is a Jewish youth group that aims to build more great Jewish Experiences for Jewish Teens. As an Advisor, you oversee a local chapter and that’s actually my chapter – which is super awesome that we’ve been working together for a little while now. From this ongoing experience, as an Advisor, you probably have a ton of coachable moments. What advice do you have for somebody that may be looking to be a better coach or mentor?
STEVEN MILLER: I don’t bring this up a lot just because there’s so much going on in my world and that is not that it’s not important. That’s actually the reason why it’s so important to me, is that even if you have so much going on in life, you have to take the time to give back. You have to take the time to volunteer. You have to take the time to do something more than just be self-centered. It’s what I talked about on the last episode, it’s about being selfless. It’s about giving back and finding ways to lift up the community around you, make the world a better place. So, while that’s not the answer to your question that can at the very least speak to why I don’t bring it up very often.
But to answer your question, the biggest thing out of those experiences – for those of you that are looking to become a coach and are looking to advise others and give guidance – the biggest pieces of it are number one, especially if you’re working with teens, you’ve got to learn to laugh. If you can’t have a sense of humor about what you’re doing your time in the organization is going to be short lived. I can tell you right now, and I’m going to give a shout out to one of the teens that is in the chapter, other than the one that’s currently on the podcast – one of the teens in the chapter – Aiden David – he always, always, always, always is the perfect person to just give everyone around them shit. So, when I talk about Aiden, I immediately think back to one of our former advisors who was very stern. I mean, just the most rigid dude around, and while he could have a good time outside of the advisor role, he always just came off way too rigid, right? I mean, you can’t get around that if that’s who you are, unless you’re conscious about it and you’re making a decision to lighten up and be a little bit more approachable. So, that advisor didn’t necessarily work out. He didn’t stay around for long because he couldn’t learn to laugh. He couldn’t have a sense of humor about the people and the things that were going on around him.
Especially with teens, stuff will go off the rails. It always will, but that’s because they’re learning. And you have to be willing to be the coach, not be the dictator. You have to take them to water; you can’t make them drink.
So, having that in mind is really important, but the other big piece of it is making sure that you are tailoring your advice to the individual, not to the group. This is a really big deal to me because not only is it that you have to do that, but you have to be conscious about like, “okay, what is that individual’s personality like? How can we really make sure that we’re catering that advice in a really meaningful way so that they can get the most out of it?”
Like I’m not going to go and give guidance to somebody who’s not receptive to it, first of all. So, I need to make sure that if I can identify who it is that’s open to that advice into that guidance and actually wants it; I can cater meaningful advice to them based on how they are going to best receive it. Not necessarily like the same advice for every single person. Does that make sense?
SAM FABRICANT: Yeah. And I think that’s a really good point and on the note of mentorship and coaching comes with leadership.
Everybody kind of has different personality types and with personality types comes a leadership style. Now, it’s really important to note that four letters from a Myers Briggs test or the definition of a leadership style, doesn’t define a person at all. All those little things and their personality builds into that.
One leadership style that you and I Steven have talked about recently is Servant Leadership. It’s kind of the idea that the main goal of a leader is to serve for the group and for the people. What advice would you give to somebody who’s trying to figure out their own leadership style?
STEVEN MILLER: So, you already kind of hit at it, right? Like it’s the idea that leadership is something that’s formed over time. It’s something that you can’t just immediately say, “I’m a Servant Leader, that’s who I am.” You have to work towards that. You have to get to the point where you actually understand what it means to be a Servant Leader, and you have to become molded into that form. So, leadership development in its own way is a cycle of evolutions. It’s a cycle of always adapting because what’s comfortable for me as a leader may not be comfortable for you as a leader. We don’t all have to be the same type of leader, and that’s okay. So, it’s about accepting that and becoming comfortable with who it is that you are as a leader.
SAM FABRICANT: Right. Obviously, a leadership style or any definition or title doesn’t really define a person, but what would you kind of say your leadership style is?
STEVEN MILLER: It’s definitely a trickier thing for me because while I do tend to be more of a Servant Leader, I think the better definition for me is more of like an Empathic Leader, just in the fact that – and not to go back and bring Myers-Briggs back into it too much – but I prefer to be an Advocate for those on my team and be the person that understands where they’re coming from, but then helps them by empowering them to be the best that they can be in their position.
I don’t want somebody that I’m delegating responsibility out to, to A, not feel like I have their back; but B, feel like I’m taking things away from them or taking responsibilities away from them if they’re not following through. I’m willing to step in if that’s the case, but ultimately, I want to be the person that is there to give them that feeling that they have someone on their team who they can rely on and have their back.
SAM FABRICANT: I love it. I want to throw a quick philosophical question at you. So, it’s often said, this concept that you can’t be an extra in your own movie and that you actually have to be the main character. I was thinking about this the other night, and I’d actually like to make the point and argue that you have to be the Director instead. What’s your perspective on this?
STEVEN MILLER: So, it’s a really good analogy, and I think that the really awesome part about it is that – as uncomfortable as it may be for many of the people that are listening to accept themselves as like the star of the story – you don’t have to be the star. Ultimately, whether you’re uncomfortable with being the star or not, it’s still your story and where I kind of diverge from the thought process of like, “you’re the director,” is more that you are the storyteller. You are the person that’s writing the story; and that can be a really empowering thing, right?
You are the one who determines the flow of the story. Obviously like, yeah, you need to figure out, “okay, what is within my control?” There are so many factors across the storyboard that can all of a sudden affect where the story’s headed. You as the story writer get to decide how the entire environment adapts. So, to me, I think it’s like, you’re the one who has to write your own story. If you’re not doing it, you’re just letting the world happen to you and I don’t believe in the fact that destiny’, what’s dictating where we’re headed.
We all have free will. I could stand up right now and leave this podcast. I could just leave the room. I could go off mic. I could leave it to Sam for the rest of the season; but ultimately, I like to shake things up and make sure that there’s different perspectives that can get people fired up. And I get to write the next chapter, just like I’m writing the chapter today, where we’re sitting down in here and shaking up the entire format to show that just when you’re feeling most comfortable, is when you should try to be more uncomfortable. It’s those moments where you should be embracing discomfort, and that’s what we’re doing. That’s why we’re shaking shit up. So, for me, it’s about acknowledging, accepting, and embracing the fact that you are the author of your own story.
SAM FABRICANT: A concept I believe down to the core is like, impact what you can; and the instant that you start worrying about what you can’t affect, you’ve gone off the rails. But if you focus on the things you can change and things you can impact, then you really become the storyteller. Focus on the things that you can change and then you end up being able to write your own story.
STEVEN MILLER: I was having a really weird conversation with somebody the other day over coffee, and she was straight away panicked. I mean, really panicked about the fact that she had a five-year plan. She had this entire vision for where she was headed. She was going to get to the financial level of stability, where she could finally go buy that cottage in the woods. But because of COVID, now everything’s turned on its head, right? The fact that you’re not willing to adapt, you’re not willing to see outside of the scope of a five-year plan, that to me is a dangerous thing.
I believe in planning. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying not to have a three year or five-year plan; have these long-term visions. But as the story writer, dude, you’ve got to adapt. You’ve got to be willing to see the fact that it’s never going to go according to plan.
There’s this beautiful premise from a handful of TV shows actually, that you go into this heist and they build out this heist methodology where it’s like, “here’s the plan: Part 1, we write the plan. Part 2, we move forward with getting the plan to go into action. Part 3, we’re mid-plan and things are going great. Part 4, the plan falls off the rails and we make shit up now as far as we can, and make sure we don’t die.” That’s the entire point. Like, it’s great to have a plan, but know that there’s a really high likelihood the plan’s going to fail.
SAM FABRICANT: But that’s life.
STEVEN MILLER: Exactly. That’s the beautiful part. If you don’t accept that, if you don’t accept the fact that life is going to throw you curve balls, you’re just going to be sitting with a bunch of failure and a bunch of weight on top of your chest. That’s no way to live. So, take control of your story and command your freaking destiny. That’s where I live.
SAM FABRICANT: And going back to what we talked about COVID to that point; this is happening. There’s nothing you can do about it. You can do your part to flatten the curve and all those different things, but at the end of the day, take advantage of all this time at home. The number of books I’ve read, and the projects I’m working on; now I’m ahead of the game. And taking advantage of all this time we have, there’s going to be the key to success in the next couple of years.
STEVEN MILLER: I mean, look, we’re all on a clock. And yeah, guess what? We’re in quarantine, we’re going to lose three months. It’s up to you to decide, are you going to lose three months? Or can you get ahead in those three months? Can you do the soul searching to figure out, “okay, here’s where I’m going to come out on the other side of this.” That’s up to you.
SAM FABRICANT: You can actually end up gaining three months.
STEVEN MILLER: Hell yeah.
SAM FABRICANT: Working double time.
Speaking to work, I’ve got to imagine that in your line of work, it’s difficult to work with a diverse range of clients. Do you have any stories or advice you’d feel comfortable sharing on how to better manage relationships?
STEVEN MILLER: So, I don’t necessarily have a specific story, but the big thing to me is that if you want to have relationships; it comes from a lesson that I learned from a really phenomenal book that was presented to me in a really amazing way from a dear friend of mine, Mary Tautimes, called Raving Fans. And it’s just the fact that if you want to have a really meaningful relationship with somebody, you have to be willing to make constant deposits. It’s not about what you can get out of it. It should never be transactional. Relationships are meant to be more than that.
It’s about bringing your authentic self to the party and being willing to step outside of your own self for moment to really connect and connect on a deeper level. So, I can tell you like everybody else in this world, I’ve had certain relationships that have fallen to the wayside, and that sucks. Whether that’s a customer relationship, whether it’s a friendship, it’s a really difficult thing to deal with. But in my world, I really genuinely care about my relationships and I try to apply that thought process to it as much as I can; making constant deposits, not seeing it as transactional and using it as a way to build one another up. Like, that’s the only way that a relationship really can flourish.
SAM FABRICANT: That’s some great advice, and there’s loads of advice that you’ve given me in this Internship, in BBYO, and in life in general; and I’ve really grown tremendously because of it. So, I thank you; and with all the knowledge and experience that you have now, what advice would you give your younger self if you could do this all over again?
STEVEN MILLER: So, I actually, I was thinking about that the other week. And it’s funny because again, while we’re in the middle of back and forth between curfews and quarantines, a lot of Artists like you’d brought up at the very beginning of the interview, like they’re releasing some really compelling content right now. A lot of really great new songs are out there, and I immediately found myself relating to a song that Quinn XCII just put out called, A Letter to my Younger Self.
And the biggest piece of advice that I have actually comes from the song – it’s directly within the lyrics of it – and I think that it is the most meaningful piece of advice that any young person really needs to hear; and that’s that, in life, like there’s going to come these moments where you’re going to be so deep in your own head that those thoughts are going to be echoing and becoming so loud. So, my advice to that younger self is, understand that you have people in your world that you can talk to and get those thoughts out. Find a sounding board, look to your network, look to your relationships, and bridge that gap.
It’s really important to not be in your own head, and it’s similar to what Gary John Bishop talks about in his book. Don’t be the person that is constantly being brought down by this negative voice and these negative thoughts that are in your head. That’s just toxic. You don’t need that in your life. There’s too much good stuff out there, as much as it may seem like right now in our world, that stuff is on fire and it’s constantly just downtrodden. It’s not.
So, get out of your head, get into the moment, and find a sounding board, find people to talk to, and acknowledge that there’s a way to get to positive from negative.
SAM FABRICANT: That’s awesome. And it’s an incredible song. And if you haven’t listened to it, I would, I would definitely listen to it. There’s lots of good things to think about in there.
Another concept you and I frequently talked about is the idea of being W.T.F. – Willing to Fail. I would say that almost always, you can learn more from failure than you can success, and we talked about that with a couple of books, and we’ve mentioned a couple of things on this note so far, so, getting a little deep here; but what would you say is your biggest failure?
STEVEN MILLER: This has always been a tricky one for me, because I really do my best to continue to fail. I want to try different things. I want to shake things up. I want to be able to learn from mistakes – and especially if you’re out there, you’re on your own, whether it’s in business or something that you’re just aiming for, and you’re not necessarily working with a team – failure is the only way that you’re ever going to step up to that next level. You’re only going to ever level up by failing.
So, for me, there’ve been a lot of failures along the way and that’s a good thing. I can’t stress that enough, failure is a good thing. Fall forward, fail up! But if I had to pick on one failure, it’s not necessarily one, it’s more of a consistent failure, and it’s a failure that I think a lot of us can relate to in the fact that we constantly have that notification bell going off on our phones. We constantly have this external stimulus that’s telling us, “hey, there’s another thing. Hey, there’s another thing. That person is sending us a picture. There’s another meme!”
All of a sudden, we’re overflowing with shit from TikTok, and our attention is so divided. I’ve talked about that before on the show and I won’t beat that to death, but the fact is is that when you have that going on, you end up recognizing after a while, “wait, all of that is totally messed up the way that I’m supposed to be prioritizing other things.” So, because mentally you’re constantly being interrupted, you’re not able to effectively prioritize the things that are going on in your life. And I’m a consummate overachiever, like I have a personal issue with overextending myself. I just, I do it nonstop because I like to be heavily involved. I like to have community. I like to be making a difference.
So, the memory that I’m thinking of that really illustrates this is like last year, I decided to really bite off more than I could chew. I had just officially gone full time with my company, Decisive Leap. I was running this podcast full time, which in its own way is its own full-time job if you’re doing the entire thing on your own. I joined the core team for PHX Startup Week and was working on the operational side of that. I was still advising for BBYO, and I mean, as you know, like that can be a big lift depending on how involved you want to be, and I choose to be involved. And then on top of that, I was also into my first year of being married and having a family and a home life. So, thinking about all of the micro tasks and the micro priorities within each of those buckets; there’s not enough hours in the day. There’s not enough ability to prioritize. So, looking back at what I was saying is like, you need to be able to prioritize and in that moment, when you find yourself overextended, the failure is not seeing the priority order because you have so much going on and so much external stimulus.
That is such a large problem, and I only realized it after breaking my sleep schedule. So, the realization, the lesson, and how I’ve grown from it – which is what I really want to make sure that I’m getting across here – is knowing when to shut things off and knowing how to give yourself a process for how you want to actually drive home prioritization and time management. If you’re not hitting that and you’re not hitting it right, it can be an absolute breaker for you. It can jack up every part of your life. So, to me, I would rather always do one, two, even three things great; than do six things half-assed. Always. So, that to me was a consistent failure that I think we can all improve on, but me especially, I dealt with that last year and I will preach it forever: do a couple of things great, don’t do a bunch of things half-assed.
SAM FABRICANT: And we had talked about being willing to fail and as much of a great concept as it is, there’s a second part of it that’s always forgotten, is having a growth mindset and growing from the failure.
I think a really good example is Michael Jordan, somebody, everybody kind of knows, and if you haven’t watched The Last Dance, I would highly recommend it. There’s a story that some of you may not know that Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team and he failed, but he chose to work harder. He played his brothers every day. He played basketball with his dad at home. His dad coached him at home. He took the failure and built that fire for himself and fueled the fire, and now – I would argue – he’s the greatest basketball player of all time.
STEVEN MILLER: It’s not that it takes willing to fuel the fire, it’s the willingness to go find that fuel in the first place. Looking outside of yourself and figuring out, “okay, what is the fuel? Is it biodiesel? Is it renewable? What is it that I actually need in order to run at my best efficiency, my best capacity?”
That’s how you win. That’s how you get through life. That’s how you live to a higher standard.
SAM FABRICANT: One thing that you had brought up and mentioned that I want to clarify a bit was you had said that you try to fail. And I think that’s an interesting concept because I would kind of say that like, obviously you have to shoot for success. If you’re never shooting for success, you’re never going to reach success, and failure is something that comes along the way that you have to be willing to accept and grow from that failure. So, I’m curious your thoughts on that.
STEVEN MILLER: Yeah. I mean, I would say that there’s only one way to truly get to success, and it’s through failure. One of the big things to me is like, you have to have the right team around you. You have to have the right people on your team that can make up for your lack in certain areas; they have their strengths, you have yours, and you have to be able to parlay that. But it doesn’t matter if you’re not willing to collectively fail.
W.T.F. – Willing to Fail – it means nothing else. Erase any other gutter thought from your mind on it, W.T.F. – Willing to Fail. That’s how we succeed. It’s the only way. Because without it we’re not learning; without it we’re not pushing for something better. It is the internal sense of competition. It’s competing and realizing, “yeah, I lost. I lost that battle. There’s a bigger fricking war and I’m going to win that.” That’s a willingness to fail. It’s a willingness to get that leg up.
SAM FABRICANT: Awesome. Well, I want to round this off with one final question. And Steven, prior to this, you’ve hosted 44 episodes of your own podcast. You had mentioned to me that you’ve never been on the other side of this. So, in some way you have to be a little bit let down this experience; there’s probably some way that you thought it was going to go and it didn’t, but think for a second, and now that we’ve kind of reached the end of this – this interview, this conversation – what let you down?
STEVEN MILLER: Sam, I hate to break it to you, but my answer to this question is not going to excite you or be, you know, what you were originally aiming for. This experience to me was an experiment. It was the ability and the willingness to try something new. It was to step out of the comfort zone and do something completely uncomfortable.
For those of you that are listening at home, Sam did a phenomenal job in prepping this interview. He really did. He made really conscious decisions, he designed the flow, he made a really solid effort in order to shape the course of the discussion.
Experimentation and a willingness to fail is what we’re talking about here. It’s about being willing to fail – just like we were just talking about – but this was an experiment. And I encourage every single person that’s listening to the show, find ways to experiment your lives, do something different. Ultimately, that’s how we grow. Maybe we’ll change the format of the show a little bit in the future and turn it on its ear, but still make it just as valuable, if not 10 times more valuable in the process.
But Sam, I can tell you with a hundred percent honesty, it was an experiment. It was a willingness to have you have your eyes opened to the world of podcasting, and being able to take us down this path. So, I had an open mind. I had a completely open mind going into this. I wanted to be open minded about the experience and be able to find ways to shape the show for people in the future so that we can do some really incredible things together. That was my goal. So, there is no way that I was let down on this man. I was thrilled with it. So, I just appreciate you taking the time to come on and host and allow us to live out this experiment and again, start experimenting more in life.
(TRANSITION MUSIC PLAYS)
SAM FABRICANT: As always, I’d like to give a big thank you to Steven Miller for taking the time to contribute to this week’s show.
If you want to raise the bar for your Personal Brand or level up the Brand Strategy of your business, there’s no time like the present to take your next leap forward, and Steven can help. You can always reach him directly by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting decisiveleap.com.
Before we wrap this up, if this episode got you fired up and you’d like to support the show, I’d really appreciate it if you’d take a minute to visit RateThisPodcast.com/IgnitionPoint, where you can tell us what you think of the show by writing a review on Apple Podcasts or Podchaser.
Well, that’s going to do it for this episode, so stay motivated and keep moving forward.
If you put in the hard work right now – one day – you could be the one motivating the world with your story.
STEVEN MILLER: I’ll look forward to speaking with you next time on another Ignition Point.
SAM FABRICANT: Now get on out there and win the week!