Tom Koulopoulos, CEO, Delphi Group, Speaker, Author podcast

Jim: Welcome to the 28th episode of Wrestling with Greatness. Today, I bring you Tom Koulopoulos. He is the founder and CEO of the Delphi Group. He’s a visionary, futurist, a key note speaker and an author of many books including The Gen Z Effect, Cloud Surfing and the Innovation Zone among others. His clients have included Microsoft, IBM, Pepsi, Kellogg’s and a lot of others that you would recognize. I first learned about Tom through an article I read on inc.com. He wrote about the value of those who shape our lives and in his case, he wrote about his high school wrestling coach.

I’ll include a link to that article in the action plan for this episode which is going to be jimharshaw.net/28. That’s jimharshaw.net/28. Or if you’re listening to this on iTunes on your phone, you can just click on the image and the link to the download for the action plan will show up right there. But without further ado, Tom, welcome to the show.

Tom: Thank you Jim, it’s great to be here with you.

Jim: So tell us how you got your start in wrestling.

Tom: Wow. You know, so now you’re taking me back to my sophomore year in high school and it’s a funny story because I was the little pudgy kid in grade school that couldn’t do a single pull-up or push-up for that matter. Could barely run a lap around the track without huffing and puffing. And in middle school – back then it was called junior high school – coach who said, “You know what? I’m going to get you in shape,” just like that. He put me on a program, started lifting weights and doing all kinds of crazy things that I’d never done before and lo and behold, the little short, fat kid started to sprout and he got me into wrestling.

You know what, I had great trepidation initially because I didn’t see myself as that kind of a person. I wasn’t athletic, I wasn’t doing football, I didn’t do baseball, none of that. So there was a lot of fear for me, going into it and I remembered asking him the silliest question. I asked, “Will I have to do a headstand?” because I was scared of headstands for some reason. I just didn’t want to be upside down doing a headstand. And he said, “No. no headstands.” Of course, little did I know that the headstands were the least of my worries at that point.

I didn’t do it my freshman year but my junior, sophomore and senior year, I wrestled my heart out and learned more things I didn’t realize were lessons until so much later in life. That was the [inaudible 00:03:14] of wrestling that I was learning every single day and yet, I had no idea I was learning any of these life lessons. That’s the way I think some of the greatest lessons we learn come to us, in moments when we’re not looking for inspiration, we’re not looking to be taught. And yet, it’s buried so deep into our psyche and our soul that it serves us so incredibly well later on in life.

Jim: Yes, and when we’ve had that chance to reflect back on those experiences, we sort of have an opportunity to receive those lessons and learn those lessons. Sometimes, they just sink in later. My wife was a licensed therapist and she says the same thing. She works with children mostly and she says, “I’m teaching these children that really, what I hope is that these lessons sink in sometime in their 20s,” because when you’re a kid, you just don’t get it. You don’t take the long view. But when you grow up a little bit, you start seeing value in those lessons. And wrestling is a great place to learn a lot of these life lessons. So Tom, is there a match that stands out in your head that’s sort of the most memorable match?

Tom: I think in every wrestler’s mind, there is one match that for better or for worse, it’s not always a glorious moment. In my case, it was far from a glorious moment. In fact, it was a moment of utter embarrassment and I look back on it and I laugh now but at the time, I remember I was devastated by it. So part of what we used to do back then – I don’t know, I think things changed a bit – we will specifically try to tell the home team to turn up the heat in the gym where the match was being held and made sure everyone was sweating. It’s 110 degrees in there. And we were very proud with ourselves for doing this. We thought that was a great strategy. For one match, we had to do an away match and it was a very small gymnasium.

It was dark, dank and it was everything that you could imagine if you imagined the worst possible conditions to wrestle in. They had turned the heat up. We were sweltering the moment we walked in and I was in the unlimited weight category and people who don’t wrestle don’t get this but when you’re unlimited, it means that you really are in an unlimited weight category. I had folks that were almost 300 pounds that I was wrestling against and they weren’t a muscular 300 pounds. They were fit but they were just big, big people. And I weighed in on a 225, 230 on a good day.

I remember going up against this one opponent and he was just the size of a sumo wrestler. There were no moves, no technique involved. He fell on top of me and I could do absolutely nothing and I just remember the room starting to spin and eventually passing out. Just blacked out completely. The next thing I know, I’m with my coach in the locker room. I have no idea how I got there and I’m coming about and he’s looking at me. He says to me, “You smell. Have you been drinking?!” I said, “To God, no, coach! I just passed out. He was on top of me and I couldn’t breathe.”

He looked at me and said, “You know, I was going to throw the towel in but I wasn’t quite sure. I figured you could probably bridge.” There was no way I could, this was deadweight. That is my most memorable match. I remember it specifically because it was that total lack of control. There was nothing I could do. And I was so embarrassed by the fact that I couldn’t technique my way out of it. I couldn’t somehow manage this enormous mass of flesh that was on top of me. But I’ll never forget my coach saying to me at the end, “You know what? You did the best you could. There wasn’t much more you could do,” and it was accepting that notion that there wasn’t much more you could do that I had a tough, tough time with. Especially at the ripe old age of 16 ½, 17, whatever I was at the time. But there are so many times in life where you know what, the control is taken away from you.

The only choice you have is how you’re going to feel about the situation, what you will learn from it and how you will then give it meaning because there was no good reason why what happened, happened. It happened and I had to figure out a reason to make it meaningful afterwards. At 16 years old, I wasn’t thinking that but at the ripe old age of 57, I get it. I understand the importance of taking situations where you have no control and still making them meaningful situations. It’s a tough, tough thing to do but so important.

Jim: So you do a lot of speaking now and obviously, like I said you’re an author and a key note speaker. When you step up on the stage, you mentioned that sort of fear of wrestling. We step on the mat and it’s you versus the opponent, nobody else around you to help you. How does that relate to standing in front of an audience?

Tom: You know what, it does. I’m so glad you asked that. I’ve never been asked that question. I’m so glad you asked that Jim because there’s an uncanny similarity that I’ve only experienced two times in my life. One is on a wrestling mat and the second is on the stage. Going into a wrestling meet, your match specifically, there’s always anxiety. The adrenaline is flowing. You’re stressed. You’re ready. You want to jump out of your skin. But the minute the match begins, everything else goes away.

You don’t hear your coach, you don’t hear the audience. You hear nothing. It is just you and your opponent and you’re in this incredible bubble where the wrestler world simply does not exist because you’re giving 150% of everything that you have to that moment, right? And people don’t get how short wrestling matches are. This is not like a boxing match where you go 13 rounds, right? A few minutes and it’s over eventually and in those few minutes, you’ve exhausted yourself.

When I’m on stage, the rest of the world doesn’t exist. It’s just me and the audience. And the connection I have with that audience, the bubble that’s created, the being in the moment, finding tremendous meaning in every second is so much like a wrestling match. And it’s the only two times in my life where I fully experience that. Perhaps the only other time I’ve experienced that is when my kids were born. Watching your child born and being in that moment, completely immersed in it, not caring about anything else in the world, having that super-focus.

But once you’ve done that, once you have that sensation, once you know what that feels like, you can create it. You can construct it in other situations and it serves you well sometimes to be able to do that, to focus so tightly on a particular problem at hand. And it’s like any other muscle. Once you flex it a few times, you can do it again. You know you can do it again. I remember when I used to work out as a kid, you get to a certain point where you’d reach a certain threshold. You could bench-press X-hundred of pounds.

And then you’d step away for weeks or months and when you came back, you can still bench-press that same amount because in your mind, you can still do it. Your body might not cooperate but in your mind, you knew you could. And it’s the same thing, I often tell folks that having that ability to focus is something you have to practice. You have to condition yourself to be able to do it. But once you’re there, you can always go back to that same place. What a great question. Thank you for asking that because I never really thought about that explicitly but I always at the back of my mind know that that was the case. That those are similarities between being on stage and being on the mat that are so closely related.

Jim: You know, I’ve done some speaking. My TedEx that we spoke about offline here earlier and some other talks. And I know what you’re talking about because I felt that sort of same sensation before going on stage and doing the TedEx. It was a big deal, you get make-up and there’s people coming on stage and off stage. There’s bright lights and multiple cameras angles they’re shooting you from. It was the same sort of feeling and I prepare for things like that very similarly to the way I figured out how to best prepare myself for a wrestling match.

So now, one of the episodes I did, episode 20 for the listener, if you go to jimharshaw.net/20, I interviewed astronaut Dom Gorie and he wrestled for the Navy Academy. He talked about prior to becoming an astronaut, he was a fighter pilot. He talked about getting into the cockpit and this was right when operation Desert Storm had launched. He was one of the first pilots going in and he talked about getting into the cockpit and knowing that he had the preparation of a wrestler.

He had felt that same sort of sensation that we’re talking about here and I can only imagine that. I can see how that would be similar.

Tom: Well, you know, that’s a very cool analogy. I think there are many times in life where we have to call on that ability to hyper-focus on a situation, a crisis perhaps. Or something where you have little control. I remember a situation where I was in a car. I was with a friend and she was driving. This was years and years ago. We hit a patch of ice and the car began on the highway, to spin. Doing 360 after 360 after 360. Somehow, I remember suddenly finding myself in that zone again and talking her through her panic, saying, “Let’s see this out. There’s nothing we can do right now.” Actually talking that way.

And it’s funny, I had a friend who flew for the Navy. He was a fighter pilot and I remembered talking to him about crisis situations and he said, “You know, it’s very hard because I heard a recording of me once in a crisis situation being played back to me. In the moment of the crisis, I thought I was losing it. When I listened to the recording, I was completely coherent. I was totally there. There was no anxiety in my voice whatsoever.” So when you speak and when I coach people who speak or want to aspire to speak, what I tell them is, “When you’re on stage, you’re completely naked. You’re the one wearing the underwear, not the audience. Who you are is who you are. You cannot hide it. Every flaw, every wonderful and not so wonderful part of you is there on stage with you.

Accept that, be in the moment and what’s going on inside your head, all that anxiety, all that craziness is not what you project. What you project is what you choose to project. And I think that’s what happened with my friend the fighter pilot. He chose to project a coherent, well thought-out situation where he was talking to the control tower. But in his head, things were very scrambled. It is possible to be in both those state of minds simultaneously. And if you do that enough, then you gain a certain confidence that allows you to deal with a crisis in a way that is much better equipped than I think people who have not exercised that muscle.

No arrogance intended there, right. I’m just saying, like anything else in life, you practice it, you become better at it. And this is something that you have to practice and condition yourself. Wrestling was just a great way to do it. As I said, in the beginning, I had no idea I was learning lessons in how to live my life. But it certainly did teach us some very important lessons on how to live my life many years later.

Jim: Yeah, it’s like that controlled chaos. When the whistle blows in a wrestling match, it’s chaos but everything that each wrestler’s doing, whether it’s placing a hand on a shoulder or grabbing a wrist or attacking a leg, everything is for a purpose. Everything has a reason and it’s been practiced. But to the untrained eye, it’s just chaos. Like football and the line of scrimmage. I mean, these guys are highly skilled offensive linemen and defensive linemen. But to the untrained eye, it’s just two big guys pushing against each other which is not.

Tom: Super true.

Jim: Even when you’re on stage or a fighter pilot, all these other different instances. So Tom, I think the listener wants to hear about what you do. What you speak about and what you write about. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Tom: Oh, absolutely. So I’ve been writing since the mid-1990s. I just started my 11th book which is a big accomplishment because at the 10th book, it was a huge milestone because I feel like I had written more books than read in my entire academic career. So that was a big deal for me. But I began very accidentally. I wrote a book because I had started a business in ‘989, Delphi Group that I wanted to give some visibility to and I thought writing a book was a good way to do it. So I wrote the book myself, self-published it and a publisher came along. Can’t remember if it was McGraw-Hill or Wiley. They said, “Hey, this is a cool book we came across. Do you want to really publish it?” and I did.

I got the bug and writing for me became a great, great passion which is what I didn’t expect to become a passion, because I wasn’t a great writer in school. Academically, I didn’t write well. My grammar was very poor. My spelling was actually horrid. But like so many things in life, when I found the passion, I allowed myself to do it and I honed my craft. And it’s become a great, great joy for me. It’s something that I do regularly. On a daily basis, I write my Inc. article six times a month.

It’s a great release. It’s a great way for me to take my thoughts and organize and orchestrate them a little bit. What I do for a living today is speak about the impact that technology’s having on our behaviors. And I think it’s fascinating when you think about the generational differences and how we apply technology and how we live our lives. I’ve asked people the question often when I’m speaking, “How many of you sleep with your phone in the same bed?” Believe it or not, somewhere between 5 and 10% of the hands will go up. By the way, 90% of all hands go up when I ask if it’s within arm’s reach because we all put it on our nightstand or somewhere, right?

That’s a crazy behavior. We wouldn’t have done that 5 years ago, certainly not 10 years ago. We accept it as being normal today. If we leave our house and forget our phone, we have a panic attack. We can’t be without that hyper-connectivity. So I talk a lot about the behaviors that changes as result of that, for better and for worse. But what I try to point out to people is that we need to stop thinking about generational behaviors. That was a good way to think about things in the past when different generations used different technologies, had different experiences that were distinct and couldn’t be shared.

Today, you can share any experience. We all used the same platform. We’ve got 88 year old grandmothers talking to their 2 year old grandsons on Skype. We’re all using the same platform, we share experiences, technologies. We’re entering this post-generational world where behavior will begin to become a matter of choice, not a matter of the generation we were born into. That’s a pretty cool thing to think about because when we finally have 10 billion people – today we 7 billion, by 2020, 2025, we’ll have 10 billion – and they’ll all be connected.

They will be able to literally create communities instantaneously. What kind of world will that look like? So those behaviors, those kind of organization, that kind of society, those kind of educational institutions will be so very, very different than what we experience today. And that’s one of the essence of my messages. How do we deal with all these changes in behaviour? How do we use them for the better? How do we use them to enhance our quality of life, the way we build our economies, the way we build our society? It’s a fun topic and I absolutely have a great passion in talking about it.

Jim: Do you have any specific examples or thoughts or ideas for the listener? A lot of the listener are success-minded folks. They’re in business or maybe they’re a wrestling coach or even other sports. There’s not wrestlers who listen to this. There’s a lot of other folks too. Any specific tactics or strategies that we can use?

Tom: I do. So I’ll give you a tactic I think applies directly to the wrestling mindset. It’s utterly simplistic but so critical in terms of being able to understand all of the commotion and the technological chaos going on around us. I’ll put it very simply, if you want to understand the future, then you’ll have to accept discomfort. You cannot comfortably enter the future. It doesn’t work that way. So when people say to me, “What’s this Twitter, why would I use Facebook, Instagram, really? What’s the value of it? Snapchat?” And my answer to them is always, “Have you done it? And if you haven’t why?”

It’s kind complaining about the politicians in office when you didn’t vote. If you play a role in it, then how do you get to complain? So actually experiencing the discomfort of doing this and in the process of experiencing that discomfort, you may in fact find value that you didn’t expect to find. And that typically is the way that it works. People who shied away from technology want to move into the future comfortably and retire comfortably, well guess what? None of us are retiring anymore. We’re too connected to retire.

If you don’t want to work 48 hours a week, work 4 hours a week. But no one wants to disconnect totally. We all want to be intellectually engaged. We all want to participate and create value and take value back from our efforts. And if you expect to do that, then you have to experience some ongoing amount of discomfort. Personally, I’ll buy every new gadget and 70% of them, I don’t use twice. But I’ll do it just to understand what it means to have that gadget in my life.

What are the pluses, what are the minuses, how do I create a net future that’s a positive for me? Can’t do that when you’re comfortable. You have to be uncomfortable a certain amount of times in order to truly experience the future and to bring some value, your own personal value to it.

Jim: It’s really interesting to hear the commonality between what you’re talking about and what my prior guest, Joe De Sena of Spartan Races – he’s the founder and CEO of Spartan Races – he talked about discomfort and getting out of your comfort zone and that being the way to grow and to get better as a person, I think it’s pretty similar to what you’re talking about as well.

Tom: It is. Well, you know, when we say we’re going to do something which is uncomfortable, by definition, we don’t get the value proposition. If we got the value proposition, it wouldn’t be that uncomfortable. We would do it with glee, with passion, with a sense of enthusiasm.

Jim: Is it because you know why you’re doing it?

Tom: It’s because you know why you’ve done it. It’s subtle but it’s important because when you’re doing it, you don’t always know why you’re doing it. You’re uncomfortable but you’re not sure what the benefits are going to be. An editor early in my writing career said to me, “Few authors like to write. They like to have written.” There’s a beauty looking at your work once it’s done and saying “That’s pretty cool. That actually came out of me.” But in the process, it is chaos. It is convoluted. Those thoughts don’t come out crisp and clean. We’re not all Tolstoy. At least I’m not.

They don’t come out in fully formed sentences and paragraphs and chapters. It’s tough. It’s hard. It’s uncomfortable but you do it with the faith that having done it, you’ll look back and understand the value of having done it. That’s what I try to get people to understand. Looking back, you’ll understand why the discomfort was there. Looking forward, it’s not always that clear. But like anything else, make an investment and think of it as a portfolio. If you have a portfolio of financial assets, some of those assets will be hedge bets. You’re likely to lose the money but you’re OK with doing that because you know, over time, some of them will pay off.

It’s the same with discomfort. If you [inaudible 00:22:36] a little bit of discomfort in your life, every day, every week, every month, every year, over time, some of that discomfort will pay off in ways that you could never had imagined. It’s a neat way to look at how we construct our lives. When we used to train for wrestling and we used to do spinning drills and all those crazy stuff you’d never do on the mat, and you ask yourself, “Why am I doing this? What purpose could this possibly serve?” The answer was we all needed to know two, three, four really good moves. The rest of it was conditioning your body and your mind to deal with that discomfort.

To plough through it. To get through those two or three minutes of absolute total agony physically and mentally to get to the other side. And life is a lot like that, you know. We just have to plough through and know we have the ability to do that because we’ve done it before.

Jim: There’s a wrestling camp called the 28 Day Robinson Intensive Wrestling Camp. And I remember when I was in high school, I had friends who went to this. It was in the summer. It was 28 days. It was absolute absurd workouts for 28 days and I always thought to myself, “Well, that’s silly. Why would you go do that? You’re going to be in great shape in the summer time but it’s not going to carry over to the wrestling season.” But that’s not the point of it. The point of it, I’ve come to realize is you’re putting yourself into discomfort so that you can understand what discomfort is and you can understand how to train.

You can understand what your limits are. So you’re making these deposits into your mental and psychological bank that you can draw on during the season. And it’s the same thing in life. Finding success in life requires discomfort and growth. You talk about writers who don’t like to write. They like to have written. And it’s the same thing for us now. Anybody. We like to have worked out but nobody really truly enjoys in the middle of the workout.

You kind of do in some way but when you’re going to work out, sometimes it’s hard to get off the couch and leave the office and go work out. Or wake up early and go work out. But we all like it when we’re done, right? We all like the feeling of having worked out. It’s the same thing. So that’s a great philosophy.

Tom: The only reason someone likes to work out is they’ve done it enough to know there’s something on the other side of it that’s beneficial. They know the endorphins will kick in, they know all the good chemicals in your brain will start to course through your body and your neurons. That’s why you like it. The first few times you work out – if you haven’t worked out before or haven’t worked out in years – you can’t stand it. You are in agony, just praying that something will happen to make it worthwhile.

And it doesn’t instantly or the first three days or the first three weeks or the first three months. But eventually, it does. And then that’s when you realize “I’m doing it because there’s a reason on the other side.” I think wrestlers make great leaders by the way and the reason they do is because they have this ability to find calm in the storm. They can see the other side when they are in the middle of the tempest. And that’s a great ability to have. It’s a great competence you can have.

Wow, you just brought me back to a very personal story. During 9/11, our officers were in Boston. We were in one of those skyscrapers in Boston and we had a large plasma screen in the lobby. I remembered getting to the office and seeing the first tower had been hit at that point. Seeing everyone in the company – there were about 100 people in my company – all huddled around this large plasma monitor, watching what happened as the second plane flew into the second tower. And I remember suddenly, people literally falling apart. Literally panic-stricken. We were in a high-rise ourselves and no one knew what was going on.

I remember one fellow who couldn’t contain himself. He was having an all-out panic attack and it amazes me looking back on that, the frame of mind that I was in. That I had to be in as the leader, as the CEO, that I had to adopt. I wonder to myself, what the hell did I draw on to be able to find that calm in such an incredibly uncertain, horrible set of circumstances? And the reality was that since I was 16, I had trained my mind to understand that there is something on the other side that you can get through this. We all can get through this. It’s a matter of choice.

And that choice is everyone’s choice. It’s not just the wrestler’s choice. Everyone has the ability to make that choice but it’s so much easier to make that choice if you’ve done it before. It’s that simple.

Jim: Yeah, you’ve been there mentally. Wow, what an amazing story.

Tom: And it’s about being there mentally. It’s like you said, it’s not about being there physically. There’s benefits to that, sound mind, sound body, all of that makes sense. It has since the earliest days of mankind. But if I had to pick one part of me that needed to be ready above all else, it would actually be my mind. That’s what gets you through the toughest moments in life. Even when your body isn’t quite cooperative, it’s your mind that gets you through.

Jim: I agree. Tom, people look at a guy like you and they say, “He’s successful. It’s almost like a foregone conclusion. We cannot look at someone like you who’s just doing a lot of amazing things and writing many books and speaking and running a successful company . . . people don’t understand the struggle and the failure that comes with achieving any level of success. And I talk about this in my TedTalk. Can you share a moment of failure of struggle that people just don’t know about you that they won’t realize, they kind of normalize struggle and failure for them.

Tom: Oh heck, let me give you a brief history of failure because I’m such a believer – and you talk about this with great eloquence, Jim – of training yourself for failure. Not because you want to fail but because you want to succeed. Someone asked me a few months ago. Coincidentally, I was visiting some clients in New York. Kind of off the cuff, “What do you attribute your success to?” and my response was “I failed so many times.” One point, it was a numbers game. I had to eventually succeed because I kept on failing. That sounds colloquial, like you’re avoiding the answer but here’s the short history.

I didn’t win a single match my entire wrestling career. For three years, I kept on going back match after match. I never missed a practice and I never once won a match. Not once. Like you would think that is the most despondent, horrible thing in my life. That wrestling career is one of the most glorious parts of my life, not because of the failure but because of the commitment that I made to it. Because I stuck it out and because the lessons I learned had nothing to do with about winning or losing in the moment. While I’d love to have had some trophies, medals or whatever, that would have been nice. I would have found them a nice spot to put on my library. But that’s all they would have been,

What happened to me internally because of that process had nothing to do with winning or failing. When I went through college . . . with an arms’ reach right now, I’ve got an essay that I wrote – I keep it here within arms’ reach – [inaudible 00:29:40]. It was a 10-page essay. So I refused to read from it because the English is so horrid. Here I am on my 11th walk. I’ve written best-sellers. How do that happen? Because I kept failing. I knew I wanted to do this but I just kept on failing at it.

My first business that I started, I spent two years, me and my partner, 24/7 building this wonderful, glorious program. We sold a bunch of copies of it. We tried to sell the company, we couldn’t do it. We couldn’t sell the company to save our lives. Horrible failure, I should have given up right then and there. I have friends when I started my second business who said, “What are you doing? Why do you keep punishing yourself? Why do you keep at this?” Because it was a miserable failure. I wasn’t able to execute on the vision of that first company. But I kept doing it.

So my second company in 2003, it was wonderful. Everyone benefited from that. But it was the combination of more failures than I could have possibly documented. Life is a number’s game. If you’re afraid of failure, you’ll never experience success. You have to be fearless. You have to have a passion that gives you a reason to keep going and a commitment to that passion to keep going. And whether you fail or succeed, in my mind, it’s not the question you should ask yourself. The question is not “Will I fail or succeed if I do this?” The question is “Will I let myself off the hook if I don’t do it? Will I have a regret on that last moment on that last day of my life that I didn’t’ try that?” If your answer is yes, you’ve got no choice. You have to try it. Whether you fail or succeed is ancillary.

That’s not aprt of the equation. What’s important is you try to do it. And that’s what we don’t let ourselves off the hook for. We don’t let ourselves off the hook for not training. We will let ourselves off the hook for failing. We will do that. But not for not trying. That’s what it comes down to. Success is trying because you believe enough and you’re committed enough and it’s not about whether you really fail or succeed. That’s in our minds. That’s not an existential reality. We don’t let the world define that for us. We define that.

And in your head, you won’t let yourself go if you haven’t given it a try. That’s the best answer I could make of it.

Jim: Wow, what a profound and inspirational message. I hope the listener took all that in, if you need to rewind and listen to that again, that’s some great advice. Thank you so much, Tom.

Tom: You’re welcome. I think I’d want to rewind and listen to it myself. I’m not sure exactly what I just said but [crosstalk 0032:07].

Jim: You just blacked out and kind of rambled it up. That was great, great stuff. So people like to have a takeaway from these episodes. So it’s where we wrap up here. Can you share one habit that you do one a regular basis? One of them – from what you’re talking about there – sounds like fitness and working out, is it? Or whether it’s that or something else, a habit that the listener can implement in their lives starting within the next 24 to 48 hours and it can help them move towards their goals.

Tom: So here’s a habit that’s completely not about you. That’s what makes it so important to me and what will make it important to your listeners. It’s the habit of gratitude. I will try every week to write a letter of gratitude to someone who’s been influential in my life. The article that you found in Inc. was actually a letter of gratitude to my high school wrestling coach, Coach [inaudible 00:32:59]. And I had found such tremendous joy and satisfaction, fulfilment in thanking others for helping me get to wherever I am in my life. And I do it every week. I started to do it on Facebook in fact, in a very public way.

But I love to just call someone, to write a letter every single week out of the blue and just say to them, “Hey, you know what? You’ve been pretty instrumental in helping me get to where I am and I just want you to know that I’m grateful for it.” How often do you get one of those calls? It is so meaningful for the person receiving it and it takes so little time for you to do. That’s a habit I think we’ll all be better for developing and practicing.

Jim: My dad hammered that into my head one night since I was young, just appreciation. Appreciation of people who have helped you and have helped you get to wherever it is you are in life. So that’s great advice. Thank you. Now, is there a book that you can recommend? I’m going to have a link to your website and your books and what not. Is there any other books that you can recommend to the listener that can kind of influence them?

Tom: So some of the books that I’ve been reading lately have a lot to do with this whole notion of mindfulness. There are dozens of books about this. It sounds very touchy-feely, soft and fuzzy, but I’ve been counselling a lot of my friends lately to pick up books about mindfulness and to find out a bit more about what it is, what it entails. There’s no specific book here I would recommend per se, there’s lots of them out there. But I think there’s been a lot of studies done on mindfulness now for decades and decades. It’s not a new thing. It’s not something that’s trendy right now.

It’s been around for quite some time. But this whole notion of being in moment, where we began our conversation, about what makes wrestling and speaking identical. That ability to put yourself in the moment and define meaning in every moment is so important for us to do. I encourage folks to pick up books about mindfulness and find out a little bit more on what that’s all about. And begin applying it in their lives. It’s something that gets you through the toughest times in your life and adds wonderful meaning to the best times in your life.

Jim: I’ve been actually learning a little bit about that lately myself so I’m glad you brought that up. Tom, where can the listener find you, follow you, read your books etc.?

Tom: My Twitter hand is @TKSpeaks. My website where they can find out more about me is tkspeaks.com.

Jim: All right, great. I’ll have those links in the show notes. And for the listener, if you want to grab those show notes right now, if you’re listening on iTunes, you can click on the icon for the show. It’ll bring up the link to download the action plan from this episode. Or you can go to jimharshaw.net/28 to get the show notes for this episode and the action plan for this episode. Tom, thank you so much for your time. I appreciate you being on.

Tom: Jim, it was my pleasure. Thank you so much for doing this show. It’s wonderful to see the wrestling community create a center of gravity around this and you bring some great topics to your show. So thank you for having me on.

Jim: And for the listener, attack the day with intensity and focus and outwork everyone because you can’t get pinned when you’re on top.