118: Richie Norton – The Power of Starting Something Stupid

Designing Your Life Before You Design Your Business

Speaker 1: Welcome to the authors who lead podcast. This podcast is dedicated to you. People who want to be inspired by authors leaders and the messages they share. This is such an important podcast to us because we help uncover what goes on behind the scenes. When authors are writing their book, we talk about the process. We talk about where they get big ideas and you can listen in on those conversations. We can't wait for you to join us. So let's get started. Hey everyone. Welcome back to another episode of authors who lead today's guest is Richard Norton. He's award winning best selling author of several books. The power of starting something stupid. One of my favorite books I've read multiple times resumes are dead and what to do about it. And he is been known as one of the top 100 business coaches by dr. Marshall Goldsmith. Also somebody who's worked with and writing a new book called leadership in time of crisis, the ways forward, and they change world.

Speaker 1: We'll talk a little about that. He's a TEDx speaker speaks internationally. He's the founder of the billable consulting circle. He creates amazing businesses with people using these principles in his book, and he has done multiple businesses and in every industry everywhere I go, I turn, I see Richie Norton because he helps so many people, millions of people can have traded some great success because of the fact that he helps business leaders think differently. He's featured in Forbes business week, entrepreneur Huffington, post, inc, et cetera. It just goes on really excited to have my dear friend Richie Norton on the show. Welcome Michelle. Yes, my mom is in the background clapping right now and crying at the same time.

Speaker 1: I could read the whole thing, but it'd be the whole podcast. And I know you're so good. And you forgot to talk about how we were hanging out in London. And we went into some cool place and we ate cool food. We've done so many cool things together. We actually, we walked into that room, the Indian restaurant, which was delicious. And we were in there the same time that Hillary Clinton was in there. So we had a moment what is happening right now? Going on London will never be the same. It's definitely my memory is with YouTube in front of them.

Speaker 1: It's true, Natalie. And I had so much fun with you guys. And it was just like, I don't know. So cool. We had like the most amazing international experiences there. Right? It was cool. It was like, we knew each other for forever. We're like, Hey, let's go this way, go here. I really appreciate that. You know, the first time that I, I started to listen to your book, the power of starting something stupid. I was one intrigued by the title, but really by the very simple notion that so many people defer their life for a someday sort of thing. And that was one of the strongest premises from the book that so many people don't take action because of all these reasons, when you were talking about this story, you really get very personal in the very beginning of your book. And we're going to talk more about that, but talk about why this is an important part of your book. I mean, I'm sure you and Natalie, as you're deciding what goes in this book, what stays, how did you decide to show up in part of your persona and personal story? Did you decide it should be here in the book about really about business and for North?

Speaker 2: That's a really good question. You know what, and I don't know. I don't even know if I ever talked about this before, but like lice. So my wife, Natalie and I, as you've mentioned there, we wrote this book together and we actually met, we were like teenager week kind of thing. Like we were older than teenagers. We're like counselors, right. That's how we met. And so we were always into like leadership and also helping youth and those kinds of things. So honestly, I'm talking like years before the book even came out in my head, it was any more like a leadership book to help like teenagers. I'm not even joking. And that was kind of my, my thought, you know, you know, how books change over time. Totally. And so anyways, that was my audience. And so I was thinking like, how can I help them do the things they needed to do and become the person you need to become that kind of stuff.

Speaker 2: But as I wrote, I started realizing real quick, like I'm an entrepreneur, maybe this should be for entrepreneurs. You know what I mean? And add, and maybe this would be more for, I started thinking really like this should be, this should be for college students. And then it was like this progression as the book and the principles and the ideas got more concrete in my mind, I started realizing this is a book about freedom. This is a book about leadership and Seth Goden himself on his blurb. He's like, this is a book about courage. And so once I realized what the book was actually becoming, I realized there was like a, a broader principle-based, you know, the cubbies kind of taught me, teach principles, teach things that are timeless, teach things that live forever. And so instead of limiting it to one like age group, I started thinking couldn't these principles also apply in many different ways. You know what I mean? So I don't know if it's the answer you want, because I can go way deeper into this. And I will, like, I came at it from one angle and it became something else. Because during that time, as you know, we had all these different tragedies and then I also changed my mind in the way I thought. And the way I thought about becoming, and as you said, doing it now and not waiting till later,

Speaker 1: Right? And this idea of deferred gratification, really that America has been trained to have, you know, I think in the book, you mentioned that, you know, we were trained on this pension, Hey, you work hard for us and don't go anywhere and we'll give you money at the end of it all, we'll put money towards it. So you can have your life someday. That's the whole, you know, live their life on a golf course, you know, finally get to do what you want to do. Finally travel. If you want, finally see your grandkids, whatever it is. Right. So this idea, but you have a different lens for it. And as of the tragedy you had in your family, I think as you mentioned here, that it started to shift the way you saw everyday living, not just the big things or exciting things you were planning to do

Speaker 2: Did. And, and let's talk about that. I started interviewing people in the, I dunno, the sunset, the Twilight, I don't know what the right word is. People who are approaching retirement or were in retirement. And you know, I'd also been working in financial services and, and talking to people that were like professional retirement planners and like all these different things. And here I am in my young twenties, talking to people that are in their late sixties, early seventies, more or less, when will be like, what made you feel like you're successful or not successful in certain things? And it would always come up something like this. I thought I would have more time, more education, more experience, and more money to do what I wanted to do or want to find out that when I got here, I still need more time. We're experiencing more money and you're right.

Speaker 2: We were programmed, literally like we're talking back when the railroad started to coming into the United States and also Germany, and they want to workers to stay longer in one place. So they started incentivizing them saying, if you work here until you until a certain age, and so for a certain time period, and we'll put some of your money away, maybe it will match it. Like these retirement plans started coming into place, which is great. I'm not against that as a great thing. But what happened was when people started to differ, like this idea that I'm going to wait until I'm 65 to do what I want to do. Not only were they saving their money, which is a good thing, they started saving or putting off their dreams at the same time. That's not okay in my opinion. Right? And so we have a generation and several generations now of people that think I'm going to work, work, work, work, work, which is the plan from the government.

Speaker 2: But the way it wasn't in this way, even 200 years ago, before that it wasn't this way, I'm going to work, work, work, work, work. And then I'm going to live on to find out that when you get there, living is not the same. Yes. Palace has passed away your relationship. Isn't the same. Money's not there. The economy changed a health crisis. You see what I'm saying? Like, yeah, these things happen. But during the same time Paul was writing and learning these things. I found out that the people that were successful and we started where they were with what they had with the lack of time, education, experience, and money, and either their project or they had in mind, their dream, their lifestyle, they want it either worked or it didn't work. And what's cool is if it worked, they kept going, but it didn't work.

Speaker 2: They were, it was the weirdest thing. And it's almost like counterintuitive, but when it didn't work, instead of holding on to a hope or a dream that will never work, they were able to pivot. It's like, okay, if you want to start some cool company or live some dreamer lifts somewhere, do something later, want to find out later that you can't, or it wasn't as cool as you thought, that's a hard fall, man. Yeah. That's a long way to go. If you have the idea, now do it. Now. That's the thought. And the reason this is so important to me is because while I was writing this book, I spent years, I spent, I think over six years, right? In that stupid book,

Speaker 3: It's a stupid book, right? The power is already said, right? You can say that if you Google Richie, or if you Google the word stupid Richie, like I'm everywhere at that. That isn't as a stupid guy. I get I'm okay.

Speaker 2: But when I'm trying to get my, my brother in law who was living on and off with us for about five years, he, he passed away and asleep at the age of 21. Just one day did not wake up, which ironically was a massive wake up for us. So the grieving, the turmoil, all the things you would expect, plus major mind shift in how long you get to live. Right. He did not get the chance to work, work, work, which is a great opportunity to write. Yeah. And then live, live, live.

Speaker 4: Originally. He did live, live, live, you know, his best life did have the thing.

Speaker 2: Did you know, he's a 21 year old kid. Right. But then it ended. And then a few years later we had our fourth son who named Gavin, my brother-in-law's name, Gavin. We named him after him and beautiful child brought so much joy into our lives. And then he got this cough and the cough was a thing. Like babies get costs. We took them to the doctor. They said, he's fine. You know, overly concerned. Parents took them to the doctor again later. And he said, maybe he has RSV. Here's what we're going to do. Well, one night it got so bad at his inability to like, he was having a hard time breathing. We took him into the emergency room and this time they kept us at the hospital, which they normally hadn't done. No, this is nighttime. So like, okay, well what's happening. We'll probably just be in and out.

Speaker 2: They kept us there for a really long time. I mean like overnight, overnight, overnight, finally, these people decide to check him for something called pertussis, also known as whooping cough, which is what he had. He had contracted this communicable disease and had it in his system. And he was so small that it was just overwhelming. And they like put all these tubes and wires in him. You pumping him with medicines and monitoring every piece of everything I ever, one night a nurse came in and, or one of the doctors, and she said to Natalie, and I said, you guys need to stay the night. And we're like, we always stay the night, but she was cluing us in that. He probably wasn't gonna make it through the night. And like, look, we've got this crash cart thing here. We're gonna bring him, you know, but even if we use it, it's just going to be a violent death, like using that crash cart on him.

Speaker 2: And we're like, okay, what do we do? We want to give him every fighting chance, but like what's happening right here. And it was inevitable. He was dying. And I remember we had, Natalie was blogging and she had like hundreds of thousand people around the world, praying for our side and doing all these things and eventually took it, all the wires and all the tubes. And I held him for a second, baby Gavin. And then Natalie held him. And she's like sitting there in a rocking chair in this hospital and the PICU. And I'm like kneeling on the ground with my hand on our baby's heart. And we just say, well buys. And we just waited for those blast beats and he slipped away. And as you can imagine, as a father yourself, like, it's your, it's your worst nightmare? Like you have no control.

Speaker 2: You can't protect your son. And here it is, you're the, the worst thing imaginable happens. I remember when we have to happen, Natalie even was telling me even recently, how, how do you leave your child? Like, you know what I mean? Like you leave this person, your son there. And it was impossible in the suite. Nurse came in and said, Hey, can I rock him? And that was like such an angelic thing to do. And I miss nurse rocked him and we walked out empty handed and later had the funeral and things like that. But what I learned from that experience was like, life's short. And even though that's cliche, it doesn't make it any less true. And I had a mentor of ours. She said to Natalie and I, at one point, she said, well, what did you learn from this experience? And then we were at like, it was at the end of one of the speeches she gave somewhere in Hawaiian. And we're like, uh,

Speaker 3: Ask him, ask me another time next year, maybe, you know,

Speaker 2: Toughest question. And, uh, yeah. And, but I took it to heart and I thought about it. And I came up with what I call Gavin's law, which is live to start, start to live. And the concept is, is if you live to start those ideas that are pressing on your mind, you really will start living because how many people actually do live a long life, but I have never really lived because they never really embraced those. So called stupid ideas. And so when you live to start this ideas that are pressing on your mind, you really do start living. And I say that with like everything I have, because you know, even as like a coach, I talked to so many, he will have so many great ideas. They don't do them because they say it's a stupid idea. They say that they're worried what their mom or dad will think about them. And I'm not talking about a child. Same as I'm talking about 40 or 50 year old saying this.

Speaker 3: [inaudible]

Speaker 2: Say like, it doesn't go away. We'll worry about what our family and what our friends, what our spouse, what are even what our kids might think. We worry about. Even if we're highly successful, like falling off that pedestal, right? If we're unsuccessful, we think who am I to do this? And then so as I was doing that research, interviewing people, studying things, tragedies happening in the family. And there's more, of course, but as these things are happening, I'm realizing, Oh, not only are some of the most successful people successful because they started something. They are successful because they started something stupid, something that others were unwilling to do something crazy. Not that it was inherently crazy, but for them, it was out of their life zone of comfort. And then when they did it, whether it worked or not as another story, but like even Henry Ford in the car, they said he was crazy. And he would say, yeah, crazy like a Fox, you know? And here we are. And then you have Twitter, which is still stupid, but it was a stupid,

Speaker 3: The idea bag super for different reasons. Right.

Speaker 2: Even though the engineers were like, we're not going to build this thing. This is stupid. The same thing with E-bay same guitar music was on the way out. According to Decker records, like the Beatles shouldn't have been a thing. You know what I mean? And like, say the television, the satellite, you talk about all these inventions, but then you get into like venture capitalists who say something like, you know, if it's smart, it's already been done. Stupid is where breakthrough ideas come from stupid as is creativity. Literally that is where creativity lies is in the called stupid. Like, what is this thing? Right. So like wrapping this whole idea up with a bow, I went from, how can I help people in certain age groups in leadership to, how can I help people have freedom to, Oh my gosh, we don't even have a lot of time. And somehow ideas are coming into our mind or from a bus circumstances, wherever they're coming from. And instead of doing them, we're not, but those who are successful do them anyways. So I wrote a book about it. Yeah. There you go.

Speaker 3: Six years of figuring it out.

Speaker 2: That's the thing about books, right? They teach you more like, honestly, I feel like the author gets more from it at the end than anybody else, but always it's because I believe in transformation, like you are having this transformation about what you believe in. Then you had this real life thing happened and then it became even more relevant and more important to you. And more clear, probably shifted everything you did about your business and what you do now to help people start something. And I love the way you talk about it. I think in the book that at first we were just going to be calling it something stupid or something like that, but it said the art of starting something stupid, as opposed to just the art of stupid, because of the fact that it's the starting part that seems to get people most tripped up. So that's a good point. I don't know. Did we talk about that somewhere? I'm amazed that you knew that.

Speaker 3: Try write that in there. I don't know

Speaker 2: In the book I read it and write it, but yeah, it was going to be called the power of start. And I also created an acronym for start, which is S T a R T serve think, ask, receive and trust. So I have a whole section in the book about, Hey, you don't know what to do. Start with service, thank people for serving them, earn the right to ask, receive, you know, openly, but not like a MOOC or graciously. Right. And then trust the process. And here's how, but as again, as I dove deeper into the research, it was obvious. Again, people who are successful do start things with some of the greatest success personally and professionally came when they started something stupid, which is another word for saying inspired different unconventional, breaking through fear, breaking through negative pride, breaking through procrastination, being authentic. You see what I'm saying?

Speaker 2: Like, all these things are captured in the word stupid. Cause we label it as such, even though it's not right. And that's, that's the thing. So you work with so many leaders, you know, corporations, leaders who have started multiple visits and those people who are just starting out, I have this switched pod sitting on my desk. So I'm thinking about our dear friend, Pat Flynn, who, what a beautiful, stupid idea. It wasn't like they needed another tripod out there, but he saw an opportunity that maybe I could do this. Maybe it's a great idea. Maybe it's something that won't work, but that's something I really think about that just two years ago, this thing didn't exist. And without it, I mean, I use it every day because that's how I talk. I set my phone on there and Mount it and make it to use it in a way.

Speaker 3: That's awesome. That's so cool.

Speaker 2: I don't even need to. I was like, I just want one. I figured someday I'll give it as a, so when, when you, when someone comes to you and they're trying to help them kind of absorb these principles, what are your first observations about people would like, I'm sure you could see it in their eyes like that. They're struggling with this thing. What is it usually that you help them break through before they can get that idea to be born? Holy crap. I'm like leaning back in my chair right now. I know you can't stay because I was such a good question. No one's ever asked me. What do you see in people? They come with a new idea. This is a great question. No one has asked that you, you are amazing.

Speaker 2: I'm not joking. I've been on a hundreds of these days and no one has ever asked that question. This is such a good question. Okay. So I'm going to answer it, but before I answer it, the side note, so yeah, PatFlynn and Caleb, amazing people, incredible idea. It took us two years to create that fricking thing. And now you're able to use it. And it's amazing. And everyone who comes up with an idea that you're always trying to, I learned really quickly after I wrote the power story or something stupid that every idea is different. Every person's different, but usually when they come up with an idea, I could say, cool, that's a cool idea. Let's do it. And literally it could be done. It is done. It could make money and it does make money unless it doesn't. Right.

Speaker 3: Right.

Speaker 2: But what I realized really quick was people don't usually create something to create it. They usually create it for something else. And this isn't necessarily, this isn't necessarily the case with the switch. But with most, with most products, someone will come to me and say, I want to start some, some random business. And I'm like, cool. Let's do it. And I don't focus on, like, I imagine they're the subject matter expert on the thing. I'm going to help them focus on their lifestyle, on their business and getting it off the ground and whatever work I can do to help them act literally physically make it if necessary. But I quickly learned someone, start a business and make money and then realize they're busier than ever. And the problem was they didn't start the business to make money. They say, that's what they were doing. They were doing it.

Speaker 2: So he could have more free time to travel with their family to Portugal. Right? I say, Portugal it to be funny, but because you love Portugal and I do too. But, but just as an example, Portugal, as an example, like people start things so they can have more freedom of time or more freedom of money or more, more, more of something else. Not necessarily the product itself. So when I realized that and I had to realized that really quick, after talking to you, write a book, he wasn't reaching out to you, right? So I'm hearing all his ideas and I quickly realize, Oh, if you start it this way, you're going to be busier than ever. But if your real goal is to have more freedom of time, why don't we start it this way and actually create times that it take time. So two people can have the same idea and build the same business, making the same money. One has all the time in the world and one has no time. It is literally a method,

Speaker 1: Right? I want to, if you're listening, I want you to understand that this is a powerful note

Speaker 2: That most people miss, that the two people could be doing the exact same thing, making the same money, but having a different life. Absolutely. Absolutely. And it's a choice that, that, that is the, that is like the thing that hits you in the heart. No, it's my circumstance. Oh really? Can't we find like a million examples of people that were in bad circumstances that aren't anymore. Like, please, I am totally sensitive to that because we've been in hard circumstances. I've had tragedies happen. I totally get it. But if you don't believe it's a choice, how are you ever going to get out of it? See what I'm saying? Like you have, even if you don't want to believe it's a choice, please do so you can make the change and the difference. But to answer your question, when someone comes to me with an idea, some people are just lit up with, with like their eyes get big.

Speaker 2: Like, I don't know what's happening internally with like the adrenaline of the blood flowing, but you can just tell it there's a change in energy. Like they're just, like, I thought it was her Pat and kale. We are, I took them to a conference of in summit. They saw people walking around with other weird tools that people use for blogging and say, why are they using those silly things? Couldn't there be something better. They explained the idea to me. This is like literally within seconds of them having the idea, I suppose, you know, we were there together. I was walking by, it was her telling me, I'm like, yeah, we could do that. And the thing is, I could say that because when I wrote the power, sorry, something stupid. I did not have a company that built products for people. I did that because listening to so many ideas, I had a background in making products for people.

Speaker 2: I knew that I could. And so I created this company based on what people were asking for. They get literally was a Genesis. I was like, okay, you need this. I guess I can do that because I want to, I think it's fun and I can, I can help. Right? We will tell me these things are usually telling it to me, whether it's physical product is a random idea. You're telling it to me because they believe I can help them. And I don't know if I can or not until I hear it. Right. Obviously a lot of times it's just, we're hoping and we're going to put the pieces together. But when someone has a acquainted, they're excited about yes, you can see it. There's other people. This isn't, there's not, it's not a good or bad. It's just, just an, is other people. They have a similar idea and it may be, they've already gone through all the emotions of excitement or, or, or worry, but they're just absolutely terrified. And they're usually terrified of losing something. If I do this, I have to stop doing fat or it's going to cost some money or what if I fail or they're seeking approval or validation from me, right? Yeah. It's not a good or bad. But then once I'm presented with that situation, it becomes my job to ask more questions, to find out what they actually want, which is harder

Speaker 1: You think because people actually don't really think about that. I interviewed Steve Sims and we talked about his book, blue fishing. And we talked about that. That's the really something. He finds this when he's helping people. So he has a concierge service that basically can get you to do anything. So if you wanted to get married in the Vatican, you wanted to pretend like you're James Bond for a day. You want to sing on the stage with Elton John. He makes it happen. That's his service pretty cool. But in blue fishing, he talks about that. People come to him asking for something, but he, then he asks them what they really want. Like, because they're asking for this thing because they want this experience or feeling, but what they really wants even deeper than that. And they really don't know it. And so he wants to deliver them what they, the outcome they're looking for often.

Speaker 1: Isn't what they're asking for. So that's really great. I really appreciate that. And it's the paradigm shift, like you said, for sulfur, for Steve and I, we sat down, we visioned out six years ago, our ideal day. What would our ideal day look like? You know, I'm a school teacher. He left his corporate job and just came back from traveling the world. Is that, what are we going to do with our life? You know, I was driving for Lyft to make some extra money. So as he were like, this is different than the life we thought we'd have. But if we had an ideal day, we, you know, we'd wake up. When we wanted to maybe walk on the beach down a cobblestone road, have coffee with two friends in a different country and maybe work a little bit, you know, have a nice long lunch.

Speaker 1: I work a little more stroll down the park, you know, all these things. It was such a beautiful day. And that's what our ideal ideal day look like. We're like let's build the life that has that in it so that we don't have to wait to someday. And that's what we did. That's why we're able to travel and live all over the place out of our suitcase because we built a life that we wanted, not the business that would get us there someday because Hey, I'm 50. I don't have, I mean, it's already time for me to be enjoying my life. It's not time to work hard so that someday I can do it. So I really appreciate that advice. That's why the book, your book was so powerful and resonated so much with me. Yeah, it was so helpful because I didn't know what I was doing when I became a book coach.

Speaker 1: I didn't even know that that was thing. I didn't know that people need help. I showed up to Pat Flynn's one day business breakthrough with Chris Ducker. It's supposed to be at this mastermind, which I didn't even know what that meant. I was a school teacher. I signed up the thing and said, you know, tell us your business, your idea, your niche, your email list, your website that will help you scale your business. And I'm like, well, what if you don't have an idea at all? So that's why I wrote a book in 30 days before the event and showed up with it and said, Hey, I don't have an idea. But I wrote a book called the art of apprenticeship. And so here again, I don't have an idea, but I wrote a book.

Speaker 3: I have no idea what a business is.

Speaker 1: I'll tell you why I'm here. Okay? Okay. But the shift was, it was something stupid. How do you go to a mastermind event? Not know what it is with six and seven figure entrepreneurs and not even have a business idea and then write a book. Cause that's doing something stupid. I mean, that's basically what it was is a stupid act, but it changed everything because that one stupid act, people started coming to wings. Can you help me write a book like you? Of course, again, I can help you. I can help anybody. I'm a teacher. I have no problem helping anybody. I don't have any fear that I couldn't help. Whoever you are. Write a book. That's how I got Pat Flynn is one of my first clients. Cause he said, Hey, you wrote a book. I need help writing in my book. Can you help me? That's amazing. That's amazing. That changed everything.

Speaker 2: Just that one. Like, you're like, I'm going to come to this thing, but what am I going to come with? Maybe I should just do this thing. That's already in my head. You see? And then you got there. And so it wasn't like you were, so you were lucky you changed your, your situation by changing your environment. By putting an idea into place, not knowing where it would go. It's called Jack Canfield taught me that it's called processional effects, right? Where one thing leads to another and it might lead to this or, or something better. Right? You don't know. That's the cool thing about ideas. It takes a little bit of overcoming fear and a little bit of faith and a little bit of grit. You just do. It happens right

Speaker 1: In my journal. I always sit down to write when I grew my planning and write vision plus action equals freedom. Like that's always think about what I'm taking in action because I want it to be not just the business idea. Cause I used to try to make courses to make money. And that never brought me anything besides misery, because I didn't love it. I didn't enjoy the work I do now. I mean, it's just brings me so much joy and I would, I remember this. I was a teacher again, not a lot of money raising these two amazing kids, just science Keller. And I wanted to go to New York because Seth Godin was speaking and he's speaking in Tribeca too. I think he said, I'm going to fill the room with a, you don't have room for 600 or 500, whatever it was until I saw I'll sell tickets.

Speaker 1: And then, you know, it's $1,500 to come hear me speak. I'm not no agenda. I'm just going to get up and answer questions for eight hours straight. And I thought, this is fascinating. I'm a big fan of Seth Goden and I don't have $1,500. But at the very small print at the bottom said, if you are a nonprofit leader and have a.org email address, click here and you could apply for a scholarship because I think he was targeting faith based leaders and other Lon profit leaders. And I worked for a charter school. They had a.org email. So I applied and I got in here. That's all. So it's like 150 bucks. So I went to Tribeca to ask one question. I said, Seth, he's like as well. Yes. What's your question. I said, if you had advice to give to a teacher principal, superintendent, board member about what,

Speaker 2: What should change in education? What question

Speaker 1: You shouldn't would you ask? He said, I would go into every meeting. You possibly can as a whole and say, what is this for? And if they can't answer it quickly abandoned, whatever that thing is. And don't stop asking that question. What was the most powerful trip? Just to go from California to New York, to hear this one question, because it's changed the trajectory of my life, the way I think about things. That's amazing. Yeah. So great. And I think that's that little action changed everything in me. It's the reason I did the Ted doc where I realized I had been asking this

Speaker 2: Same question over and over, which is what makes a good teacher. Great.

Speaker 1: It has been for years to kids and it collected 26,000 responses to this question and I'm perplexed still. But I look at those responses because we were never listening. And what I've learned from simple people, simple people, meaning brilliant people, simple people who say, look at the world in this one way and everything will change. And I feel like that's what you've done with your book in helping us see things differently. Now

Speaker 2: I'll go ahead. I'll just say that's so nice of you. You're welcome. You're awesome, man.

Speaker 1: So recently you were asked to kind of contribute to a book called leadership at a time of crisis. The way forward in a change

Speaker 2: Things have shifted. Things will continue to be shifted and you know,

Speaker 1: Ending up to have a voice at a time where people are

Speaker 2: Maybe divided maybe, maybe too committed to a decision about what's what is quite certain, which maybe not be certain, what was it about this idea of standing up and crisis and being a leader that sparked an interest in you? Great, great, great question. So, you know, because I wrote this book and I have the power, sorry, something stupid. I have, you know, a background on, so I'm like my first business was a cashmere company in Mongolia, by the way. And yeah, I'm a sole sole entrepreneur. I try to create businesses that help people get out of poverty. That's my background. That's what I do. That's what everything I do pretty much is I thought if I'm going to do this in retirement, which was my goal, help people get out of poverty. I might as well do it now and figure it out. But as a small to feed my family in the meantime, so everything in my mind, it has some sort of social cause attached to it.

Speaker 2: Many ways I've heard the books or help people make products in Asia. Well, when COVID started happening, people in China started telling us what was going on. And I was like, Whoa. And even though at the time, this is early, you know, this is like January early February at the time, no one believed what's going, what was happening. And I started making some noise saying, guys, you know, we need to do something and we need to, we need to help. So we started helping get stuff to China, to help them all around the world until the virus started circling back to the United States. And now we're doing everything we can wherever wherever we can. But at the end of the day. So I'm part of this thing called 100 coaches with dr. Marshall Goldsmith and him and Scott Austin. And they decided let's put together a book to help people lead in times of crisis, which now it seems like a lot of people were saying that, but when we were writing this, it seemed like no one was saying this

Speaker 1: [inaudible].

Speaker 2: Yeah. And because of the situation and a lot of people that are in the circles, they're not just focused on people like I am, you know, entrepreneurs and small business and, and, and you know, corporations I'm talking, these are the guys that work with the fortune five. If that's a,

Speaker 1: Well, I think fortune 100 fortune 500,

Speaker 2: They're working with like the top CEOs of the top corporations on the planet. Right? And so I feel very lucky, fortunate, blessed to be able to be, I've written an NSA as part of this compilation book, which is on Amazon right now. It just came out. I wrote my essay called I called it how to use strategic beginner's mind in times of uncertainty and crisis. Now beginner's mind. That's a thing from Buddhism. You know, it basically means something like having an attitude of openness, you know, a lack of preconceptions when you're looking at something, you're like looking at it as if you've never seen it before. And so I decided to create this term by attaching the word strategic to it, strategic beginner's mind because a lot of the people we work with presidents of organizations or even countries, you know, people and coaches 100 work with, you know, these people who are at the top, top, top, top of their game. They're not a beginner man.

Speaker 3: Yeah,

Speaker 2: We are expert. And so a strategic beginner's mind takes it from taking all of your experience and your expertise and then leveraging that along with having no preconceptions and pairing those two together and kind of building out what's going to happen next, based on that. Right. So it's kinda like the wisdom of the old and like the guts of the young who are ready and willing to do anything,

Speaker 3: You know, and I had this

Speaker 2: Experience when I was super young and, and just doing speaking, and hadn't even written my book yet, whatever, or Stephen Covey. He brought me into his office out of nowhere unexpectedly and asked me to do like presentations for them on the speed of trust. And that was the book of the time. And when he told it just me and him in a room, you know, sitting across each other at a table, like a boardroom table, not just so you can picture it. Not at both ends, like, you know,

Speaker 3: Right. We're not that far apart from each other,

Speaker 2: But he like asked me to do this. And I'm like, Hmm. I literally said, what will the gray hairs think? I'm thinking, like I said, and the guy's bald. So it's a terrible thing to say, you know, but I'm like, what are they going to think is young kid telling them what to do? Like, I can't basically, I'm saying I can't do this. It's stupid.

Speaker 3: Yeah.

Speaker 2: You know, I'm flattered. And he got to like pounds on the table with like his fist. Not like in a mean way, kind of like a jovial way, but also like serious, like Richie, you know, he's like, he says, Richie experience is overrated. This is what he says to me. He goes, some people say they have 20 years experience. When in reality they only have one year's experience repeated 20 times. Wow. That's a powerful comment.

Speaker 3: Okay.

Speaker 2: Experience is important using it's overrated. He's saying continuous improvement is important. So when people, like they say, I can't do something. I think what do you mean? Like, it doesn't take you that long to learn something new, like literally beginner's mind. Right? And then when someone who is like super experienced as this is the way it's always been done, I'm just like, Oh my gosh. And then you think, wait a second. Is it really the way it's always been done? Or just because you learn to do it this 20 years ago, he was doing the same thing every day for 20 years. And nothing has actually changed because literally the 20 year old thing, just because

Speaker 3: Not because anything got better.

Speaker 2: So, so in this essay I write get better, not bitter. Great. Cause a lot of times when, when hard things happen in times of crisis, we get bitter. Not better as a way, if you have it in your mind, I'm going to begin with beginner's mind gonna look, this is something new I'm going to build on top of that with my experience, then we won't get caught flat footed or tiptoeing around. Right. We'll be able to take pause and then take action.

Speaker 5: Kind of the idea of taking a hundred

Speaker 2: And responsibility for your life regardless. And then you want to ask better questions to get better answers. So many people, their mind is like a calculator. So you go, I can't do this because, and your head says you're right, lo and behold. But if you use more like you're a teacher guy. So if you use more of an algebraic equation in your head and you say, I want to do this without this bad thing happening now, or by this date, that actually leaves an open space in your mind for creativity to fall into place. It allows cause because your brain wants closure so bad, it wants to close the gap. It will seek and seek and seek even when you're sleeping or when you're taking a shower, wherever you're doing, until it finds an answer. This is where creativity comes from. The aha moment is not like that.

Speaker 2: It was just immediate. Usually it's because you're thinking of something over time. So when he says, ask better questions and you'll get better answers. Interesting. Right? That's that's great. So what I tell them, just in short, in this essay, I tell people to do, especially a people who are in charge and thinking about all the stakeholders. I say one execute for results using real time information, right? To identify and unlearn quote, unquote, best practices that are working, you know, three. And then you would end the circumstantial best practices and a four. You would actively signal to your organization, both in word, indeed. What's next that your leadership and their leadership on the front lines is a choice that they have the opportunity to empower and be empowered. And that the title isn't leadership, the choices you make are the leadership and the influence. Right? And I say number five to ask middle management, to be unusually helpful in facilitating information flow.

Speaker 2: Because unfortunately, if anyone has ever worked in any size of organization, if there's a middle person, they control information and change it usually base to their own bias. Have you not noticed that this doesn't help anyone except for themselves maybe, right. Oh my gosh. Debate helpers to do the job without the fear of negative consequences. Because in times of crisis, people are scared to act because they're scared they're going to get fired. Right? Right. And then seven, tell your people that you have their back. If you're the leader, tell you're gonna support them. And then a repeat, do those over the idea is in times of crisis, you could say every day, the time of crisis. But when you're in literal critical, you know, mode, allowing people to have a safe place or to hold space for them to allow them to do the things they need to do is the answer. Because most people, because of fear and afraid of doing something stupid, they hold it back. And then the problems persist.

Speaker 1: Right? Great advice. So helpful for anyone who's leading an organization. People, this idea of doing the thing that's always been done is the main problem with any bureaucracy. I have a great affinity for this beautiful woman who, who said that use the words, creative noncompliance. That's sort of my motto, like what duty to do to bend, to break the rules. That's keeping you in a status quo because that's how you make a shift in anything. And to do that, you need safety because as things are shifting, you have to believe that they can't continue on, but you have to create, like you said, the space and a safety to be able to do those things without risk.

Speaker 2: That's so good. That's so good.

Speaker 1: You know, you and I could be talking on here for a long time.

Speaker 2: Let's keep going. Let's keep going

Speaker 1: Any direction you wanted to go. We can talk about you're amazing. I appreciate that. You know, people are gonna want to know where to find you, where to connect with you, tell us where they could do that. So we can make sure that we'll put your books in the show notes. We'll make sure we link up this as well.

Speaker 2: Yeah. Thanks. I'm on all social media, just type in routine or original orton.com is a great

Speaker 1: Place for all kinds of resources.

Speaker 2: You know, my son lives for 76 days. And so I kind of set my goals around that time period, which is just under three months. And so if you go to [inaudible] dot com slash seven, six day challenge, you will find this cool document that will help you take you by the hand. Turn your stupid idea into your smart reality. I have a new podcast. Happy to have you be a listener and hear some cool, Oh, I need to have you on the show. We need to flip the mic around bro. But yeah, you Google stupid Richie and you'll find everything you need to find out. It's all there.

Speaker 1: That's true. That's true. I, every time I forget what, I just type that in there you are.

Speaker 2: There you go. Exactly.

Speaker 1: It's amazing. Well, this has been an amazing conversation, even just not getting to, even to dive into the boat and process of diving into the thinking process. Most people create books that aren't worthy of the conversation in the title alone in your book is definitely worthy of prodding. A deep conversation. I always tell authors, look, what conversation do you want to own? It's not about the content in the book. Yes, that's true. It's important. But if someone can't talk about your book, when you're not with them, they won't carry this message on. And I really talk about your book all the time. Please. If you're listening, if you want to think about starting something, you're afraid. You wonder what to do. Get the book it's going to change your life. Richard Norton. Thank you so much for being a guest. This is, we can't wait this long to talk, but it was a wonderful to chat with you.

Speaker 2: You too, dude. Thank you so much. That was really fun. I really appreciate it. You're great.

Speaker 1: Great interview. Great person. Great. Cool, dude.

Speaker 2: We're going to hang out again somewhere in the world

Speaker 1: For sure.

Speaker 2: Listen to this podcast together.

Speaker 3: Love you, bro. Thank you so much. Thank you.

Speaker 1: Thank you for listening again, to another episode of authors who lead, we appreciate you being here and we hope you subscribe. So you get this delivered to your device every week. And if you haven't left us a review, please do so. It really helps. And if you have a book in your heart, you've been wanting to write a book. Please go to authors who lead.com and join us on this journey of becoming a published author.

Richie Norton is the award-winning, bestselling author of the book The Power of Starting Something Stupid (in 10+ languages) and Résumés Are Dead: And What to Do About It

In 2019, Richie was named one of the world’s top 100 business coaches by Dr. Marshall Goldsmith. He is an international speaker (including TEDx & Google Startup Grind) & serial entrepreneur. 

Richie is the founder of Global Consulting Circle, creating/scaling business models for venture-backed startups. 

Richie is featured in Forbes, Businessweek, Entrepreneur, Huffington Post, Inc., etc. The 2013 San Francisco Book Festival awarded The Power of Starting Something Stupid first in business & grand prize winner overall. At age 29, Pacific Business News recognized Richie as one of the Top Forty Under 40 “best & brightest young businessmen” in Hawaii. 

Richie founded a mentor capital org to help end poverty & establish the Willes Center for International Entrepreneurship. Richie is published in the Journal of Microfinance and is a ChangeAid Award winner for “outstanding accomplishment in international development, international relations, humanitarian aid, and academic achievement.”

What We Discuss with Richie Norton:

  • How the book The Power of Starting Something Stupid progressed
  • What shifted the way he saw everyday living
  • The concept behind what he calls, Gavin’s law
  • The starting point is where a lot of people trip up
  • Making a choice to change your life
  • Leadership at a time of crisis
  • How to use the strategic beginner’s mind

[02:58] The Progression of The Power of Starting Something Stupid

This book progressed from being a leadership book to something about entrepreneurs, and finally to a book about freedom. Ultimately, it was a book about becoming.

When people start to defer to wait until they’re 65 to do what they want to do, sure they were saving their money, which is a good thing. But they’re also putting off their dreams at the same time. And that’s not okay. 

If you have the idea now, do it now. 

Richie reveals he spent over six years writing this book. But when he saw his brother who died in his sleep at 21, it was a massive wake up call for him. Then four years later, their fourth son and 76-day-old baby, Gavin, contracted a communicable disease and passed away. 

[14:26] Gavin’s Law

Richie then came up with Gavin’s Law, which is “live to start, start to live.” If you live to start those ideas that are pressing on your mind, you really will start living. Because how many people actually do live a long life but have never really lived? Because they never really embraced those so-called stupid ideas?

Stupid is where breakthrough ideas come from. Creativity lies in the space called stupid.

Not only do some of the most successful people succeed because they started something. They are successful because they started something stupid. They started something that others were unwilling to do because it was out of their comfort zone. 

[18:43] Why Starting is Where a Lot of People Trip Up

Richie initially wanted to call the book, The Power of Start, because he also created an acronym for START, which is Serve, Thank, Ask, Receive, and Trust. 

Some of the greatest successes of people, personally and professionally, came when they started something stupid. 

Stupid is just another word for inspired, different, unconventional, breaking through fear, working through procrastination, being authentic, etc. And all those things are captured in the word “stupid” because we label it as such, even though it’s not.

[20:46] Making a Choice to Change Your Life

Every idea is different. Every person is different. But people don’t usually create something to create it. They usually create it for something else. They start a business, make money, and then realize they’re busier than ever. 

The problem was that they didn’t start the business to make money. People start things so you could have more freedom of time and money or more of something else. But not necessarily because of the product itself. 

Two people could be doing the exact same thing making the same money but having a different life. And it’s a choice.

[34:09] Leadership in a Time of Crisis and Using the Strategic Beginner’s Mind

Richie is one of the contributors of the book, Leadership in a Time of Crisis. Being a part of the 100 Business Coaches with Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, they decided to put together a book to help people lead in times of crisis. 

Part of the compilation, Richie wrote an essay called How to Use the Strategic Beginner’s Mind. And people who are executives and at the top of their game do not have beginner’s minds. They are experts. 

Have an attitude of openness and a lack of preconceptions when you’re looking at something. Look at it as if you’ve never seen it before. 

So a strategic beginner’s mind takes it from taking all of your experience and your expertise. And then leveraging that along with having no preconceptions. Pair those two together and build out what’s going to happen next based on that.

It’s the wisdom of the old, and the guts of the young who are ready and willing to do anything.

Ask better questions, and you’ll get better answers. 

  1. Execute for results using real-time information.
  2. Identify and unlearn the “best” practices that are working.
  3. End these circumstantial best practices.
  4. Actively signal to the organization both in word and deed that they have the opportunity to empower and be empowered. The title isn’t leadership. The choices you make are the leadership and influence.
  5. Ask middle management to be unusually helpful in facilitating information flow. 
  6. Delegate helpers to do the job without the fear of negative consequences because, in times of crisis, people are scared to act because they’re scared they’re going to get fired. 
  7. Tell your people that you have their back. 

Episode Resources:

Leadership in a Time of Crisis

The Power of Starting Something Stupid

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Check out Richie’s podcast, The Richie Norton Show 

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