118: Richie Norton – The Power of Starting Something Stupid

Designing Your Life Before You Design Your Business

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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