How to become confident ? – Brad Szollose
David Laroche: Hello, Achievers! Today we are with a new guest, an awesome guest. Brad Szollose. He is an award-winning author of “Liquid Leadership”, a professional of the “Generation Y” and today he will answer my questions. Thank you very much, Brad!
Brad Szollose: Good, David!
David Laroche: And how are you?
Brad Szollose: I’m doing fantastic! I’m very happy to be on your show today. Thank you for having me.
David Laroche: Thank you. The French people will be able to discover you because the video will be translated in English and in French. My first question is a global question because a lot of people who are following me asked me that. According to you, how to develop self-confidence? We were talking about… you were shy, and I would like to know more about this story and if you can share it.
Brad Szollose: Absolutely. It’s funny, when I tell people that I was deathly shy as a kid, they don’t believe it because I can stand on stage in front of 6,000 people and tell a speech and make people laugh. So, they look at me and they’re like, “What?”
David Laroche: “You’re lying.”
Brad Szollose: Yes. “You are a liar!” I’ve learned over the years — What happened is my father gave some tough lessons, because my father is the first generation born here in the United States and he’s Hungarian. So, he’s tough.
David Laroche: He’s a warrior.
Brad Szollose: Right. So, I wasn’t raised like other American children. My father was tough and all my friends knew it, as well. He broke me out of being shy by sitting me down one day — and we’d had a new neighbor move in and there was another child next door, and he was like eight or ten years old, just like me, the same age — And my father said, “You’re not coming in this house until you say ‘hello’ to that new kid.” Well I sat there in the backyard, staring at this kid for an hour, and the pain and the misery I put myself through in that hour was astronomical. And I finally said, “Hello!” and I ran back in the house. I was scared to death, but something happened. I sat in my bedroom and I realized—that was stupid what I did; it was just a waste of time for me to sit there.
David Laroche: One hour.
Brad Szollose: Right. I realized I had put more effort in being scared than to just go up and say “hello” to somebody. And I learned, as a child, to be able to walk up to any adult, to walk up to any person and speak with him. The other side of that paradigm is—my mother was an entertainer. She could sing and she could play the piano. She could go up to anybody and talk to them, and make them feel at home, no matter where they were from. And I picked up that skill, as well, from her. With that combination you can learn, I believe, to really overcome any situation. “The gift of gab” as we call it here in the United States. If you’re able to sit with people from the heart and just really connect with people, one-on-one — Because everybody, no matter where they are in the world, they have the same want to knit, and that is connection with other people.
David Laroche: So, from these experiences what could be the advice you would give to people who are shy or feel a lack of self-confidence?
Brad Szollose: Take a risk with something that you love and enjoy. If you’re a shy person and you stay at home a lot, get outside more; take dance lessons; go to a class; take a speech class; join “Toastmasters”; learn how to give a speech. Trust me, you’re going to get over that shyness if you’re thrust into that arena. I take the Martial Arts—I like getting involved and going to tournaments and things like that. So, working with people one-one-one and being able to be in their group setting at the same time, you’ll get that confidence just by getting out there. Do the opposite of what you think you should do – it’s kind of my motto – because our brain, kind of, lies to us. If you really want to come out of your shell and you want to learn and you want to make friends, get out there and do it. There’s an old expression that says, “If you want to have friends, be a friend first.”
David Laroche: So, for self-confidence you decide what you love, what you want to reach and you do an action in this direction; you take a risk in this direction. Do you have to do it only one time or often?
Brad Szollose: For some of us, it’s something that we have to do all the time. We have to learn by doing more and more, and it becomes a habit, let’s put it that way. Like for me, once I learned how to overcome shyness, by my father forcing me into a situation, I came out of my shell and I started volunteering for more things. The other thing I did is I played drums. So, my mother would play piano and sing, because she was a professional singer, and she’d have me accompany her and I would play drums. Now I’m like 11 years old, 10 years old, I’m playing drums and everybody’s like, “He’s so cute!” And I’m on stage and I’m like this—I’m so scared; I’m rigid. And I started to relax more and more, and I realized it was just a complete waste of energy to be afraid. I’ll be honest with you. When I go on stage today, I don’t have what’s called “fear”; I have anxiety, because — as a fellow speaker you probably know — when you go in front of that corporate audience, that first minute is all you’re worried about. You go, “I know my thoughts; I know my stories; I know what I want to get across.” But it’s that first minute—“Get me out there. I want to get out there. I want get moving and I want to do what I do best.” And it’s a skill that you can learn.
David Laroche: So, you are saying that you can improve your self-confidence, but you will still have stress, and it’s not a program.
Brad Szollose: Right.
David Laroche: It’s not because of your stress you will fail.
Brad Szollose: I look at it this way. A lot of people don’t know this about me, but I was a C-Level Chief Marketing Officer for my own Corporation, multi-million dollar corporation. But I also did stand-up comedy as well for about eight years, professionally. What I learned from that is—you get on stage and your throat goes dry, and your palms start to sweat and you can’t speak. Just tell yourself, “That’s a normal state.” We fight like crazy, as human beings, to not have that feeling when that’s a natural feeling. The greatest performers in the world will tell you how much anxiety they feel sometimes before they go on stage, and these are people that have been doing it for 40 years. If you begin to realize that this is a natural state to feel that way, don’t fight it — “Okay, I’m freaking out here!” — and be honest with yourself; don’t beat yourself up so much. Just get up there and try new things; it will break that shyness. Just get up and get out. Some of us, we were raised in professions where you’re encouraged to stay inside all the time like a graphic designer; someone who blogs a lot or someone who’s online and doing different things where they have to be inside a lot. So, the relying on Skype or ooVoo, or any of these social networks and video chat rooms, and things like these. It’s really great to get up and go outside. Get up and go take a class with a group of people where you are forced to speak. You’ll break out of that shyness.
David Laroche: You are an expert on Generations and the gap between generations. I have two examples—a parent or a manager… If the manager or the parent has someone who’s shy, do you think they have to do the same thing as your father?
Brad Szollose: Maybe. It depends on what you’re working. If you’re working in a loading dock where people are yelling all the time, you’re probably going to have to learn how to yell, because different environments require different tactics.
David Laroche: Yes.
Brad Szollose: So, if you’re in an accounting firm, you can’t yell at everybody. You have to learn where that confidence is going to come from. And I think experience actually helps. We’re going to get a shift taking place over the next 10-15 years. What’s going to take place is the “Baby Boomers”, the older generation born after World War II, are now going to start to retire and the people coming in the Management positions are “Generation Y” and they’re all 40 and younger right now. Everybody thinks they’re young, but they’re actually 40 and younger. So, they’re now coming into positions of Management.
David Laroche: I’m at the end of the “Generation Y” I think.
Brad Szollose: Yes, you’re at the end. You’re like a true “Millennial”, you know what I mean? You were raised to be an entrepreneur; you were raised to be a speaker, to stand up and do your own thing, to command your own ship. Well, that’s a hallmark of your generation. You’re more of a “Millennial” as, David, you said.
You’re going to see these generations move forward and all I can say is this—the progressive companies out there know that great ideas are coming from youth, and they are listening. Jeffrey Gitomer… you know what he says? His best advisors are under 30, and guess what? The smart companies are now going to start to listen to the youth because you’ve been raised with technology; you’ve been raised with “we’ve got to get to business faster; we’ve got to communicate faster.” You’ve been raised to think with a “business head” and integrate communication, creativity and all these products into one brain. They know… the smart companies know if they want to progress and they want to survive into the future, they’ve got to listen to the youth. Look in France—how many brands that your parents grew up with don’t exist anymore, that are dying because your generation doesn’t even know what they are; you don’t know anything about them. Here in the United States we had Spiegel Catalogues—they were the leading catalogue company in the world. They’re almost gone; all they have is a website. Where are they represented? Because the Internet has brought brands along, like Facebook, that were started by 20-somethings. Netfllix was started in 1996 by Reed Hastings; he was like 30 at the time. Youth is driving so much change and innovation right now, and I think the smart companies are going to start to listen to the youth and the youth are going to come into their own. But the thing that’s going to happen is they’ve got to learn how to manage older adults now.
David Laroche: As a “Y” expert do you follow that generation or you focus on the new generation?
Brad Szollose: I focus on all the generations. I look at the four generations right now that are in the workforce. We have “Traditionalists” who fought on World War II. We have “Baby Boomers”—they are the ones that were born after World War II, from 1946 to around 1964-1965 in there. We have “Generation X” which is from about 1965 to 1976.
David Laroche: My parents.
Brad Szollose: Right. And then the real shift took place in 1977, and in ’77 that’s when everything took off. That’s when “Gen. Y” was born; that’s when “Millennial” started to happen; that’s when the “Echo Boomer” started to take place and things like that. What drove those generations are three major influences starting in 1977. The first was “Star Wars”. “Star Wars” was the very first movie that was seen all over the world whether you’re in Malaysia, or you’re in Japan, or you’re in Philippines, or you’re in South America, you saw “Star Wars.” “Star Wars” showed a ubiquitous use of technology in the background.
If you look at everything today that we use — whether it’s an iPad or it’s some sort of a Cloud technology or an iPhone — that was all driven by us seeing it actually being used, and we have… most of the devices that you see in “Star Wars” we have today. We have robots; we have holograms; we have cloud digital networks; we have all these things. Yes, we don’t have a “Star” ship yet, but they’re working on light savers; they’re working on lasers and “Star Trek”… a lot of people believe “Star Trek” was a huge influence, as well. So, from that moment on, if you look at the top 10 blockbuster movies of the last 35 years, most of them have been science-fiction driven. You’re looking at an entire generation that was raised where technology is not science fiction, but science fact.
The second major influence is this—video games came into the households in 1977. Most generations…
David Laroche: The new generation is born with video games.
Brad Szollose: Right, technology. So, what has happened is—I’m a “Baby Boomer” and I was taught to sit down, shut up and listen. My parents told me that and my teachers told me that. I was not supposed to move. In order to get ahead I had to study hard and to pass all the tests, and the authority figure that I had to look up to would decide if I moved forward. I did the same thing when I came out into my career. I studied hard; I learned my lessons; passed my tests and moved on. And most “Baby Boomers” were taught that through their whole career they would get a big salary and, eventually, at a certain age get a corner office and young people would look up to them and admire them for all their hard work, and they would get that corner office as a status symbol that they had made it or a title. And that is no longer valid, because that’s the status symbol of the 20th century. We are now in the 21st century and in the 21st century everything is different. Video games have trained the brains of a whole new generation to think completely differently. How do you learn in a video game?
David Laroche: In playing?
Brad Szollose: Right. You take action. In a video game you don’t read a book and study how to learn it; you leap in.
David Laroche: Yes, that’s right.
Brad Szollose: You leap in and you learn by doing. You take risk and failure. “Baby Boomers” were taught—“don’t screw up.”
David Laroche: That’s why the new companies are “start-up”—no plan, just do it.
Brad Szollose: Right. “Baby Boomers” were taught—you had to earn the right to get ahead. “Don’t screw up. Don’t make a mistake because that will be the end of your career.” You’re an entire generation that was taught—“Take risk. Risk is the only way to learn. Intuitively look for the rules. Look for the mentors in the game. Pass all the tests; learn and grab what you need to do; learn what the cheats are one the sheet so you can get ahead faster. Once you storm the castle, kill the trolls and you save the princess in the video game world, forget everything you just learned, because the rules change at the next level.” If you’re a “Baby Boomer” listening and watching this, you’re going to be sitting there going, “Huh?” Does any of this behavior sound familiar?
David Laroche: So, we are trained to learn and erase, that’s right?
Brad Szollose: Yes, update and learn. Update and discard.
David Laroche: So, we learn fast, but it’s not so deep.
Brad Szollose: Well, “Baby Boomers”, we were taught to be technically perfect. If you ask any of the older “Boomers” who do Code and IT, they try to do the code perfect the first time. If you talk to a young person who does Code and IT, they’ll borrow some code from someone else’s software code, they throw it all together and they don’t worry about fixing the stakes until they’re done. And that’s why we get updates all the time of software, because of a lot of mistakes in the software, and you keep getting updates and updates. So, it’s speed that has become paramount, and anybody born right around 1977 and after has learned to manipulate digital information before they could read or write, and in some cases before they could speak. You are the “digital native”, that’s really what you’re called. You’re a “digital native”; you’ve been immersed in this and you’re comfortable with it.
David Laroche: I have a question about that. The way to teach adults and the way to teach “Generation X” or “Generation Y” are not the same?
Brad Szollose: Each generation has been taught differently.
David Laroche: For example, if I write a book for youth, it’s not the same way I write for…
Brad Szollose: Baby Boomers?
David Laroche: Yes.
Brad Szollose: You wouldn’t write it in the same way and I’ll show you why. For youth, if you’re going to write a book, it has to be quick and easy chapters, simple, like a page and half – a page, because our brain has actually been reformed and trained from the Internet. We only read a page and half of information. If a website doesn’t grab us in the first four seconds with either a video or a promise statement, or a paragraph and a half of really great information, we move; we move on.
David Laroche: The book has to follow the same rules, is that right?
Brad Szollose: Sort of. If you noticed, the most popular books right now are these mini-books that keep a little bit of information at a time—a little chapter here, a little bit of wisdom here, and it’s almost written like a blog. Seth Godin’s books are a very good example of quick, “get to the point”, quick little chapters, mini-chapters. That’s how most books are written for youth today.
David Laroche: Do you think books like “Unlimited Power”… it’s a huge book… Is it the end of this kind of books now?
Brad Szollose: You’re still going to need a book like that for credibility because a great author is still going to have to have a hardback, but that book has to have “legs” now. You have to be able to put that book on a kindle, some interactive device. There may be connections now to videos where that book has a paragraph in there and you click on it and you get proof through either a video or a citation, or you get to meet the other people that quoted in the book, things like that. So, you’re going to see interactivity go to this next level.
Look at the comic book industry. The comic book industry is kind of fading out; they don’t know what to do because youth, who’s been their primary target, is kind of leaving in droves, but they’re going and looking at the same brand, the same super heroes in the video game world. Here’s a good example. When “Iron Man” first came out in 2008, No.1, that opening box of this weekend “Iron Man” made 98 million dollars that weekend, right? It’s great! The video game, however, made 200 million dollars that weekend. That means there is a whole secondary market from a singular brand that’s being driven by your generation. And a lot of the older generations are looking at video games as toys, things that kids play when in reality there are 35 years olds who don’t have kids, who play video games on the weekend. “Guitar Hero” is a video game; “Rock Band” is a video game; “Hi-Lo”… all these video games. So, there are other brands and markets that are opening up because of digital technology.
David Laroche: So, do you think the best way to teach youth is maybe to make and to build video games?
Brad Szollose: Exactly. In my book “Liquid Leadership” I talk about this because I was trying to figure out why their behavior was so different. See, I started the first “Dot Com” Company on Wall Street back in the ‘90’s. I didn’t know I was doing that at the time; I was just addressing a new market. I was hiring people that were only three to seven years younger than me, but they thought and acted and behaved completely differently. So, I started to get confused—“what is going on? It seems like a trend, like everybody younger than me is doing things differently.” So, I spent about 15 years doing the research for the book and one of the places I flew to and I interviewed some of the best and brightest minds in the country, in the world actually, was…
Do I need to pause for a second? [00:26:31.5]
David Laroche: It’s okay.
Brad Szollose: I flew out to the “Games, Learning & Society” Conference out in Madison, Wisconsin, and I recommend that everybody does this. It was a huge eye-opener for me. [I don’t know if you’re picking that up on the sound, are you? [00:26:46.8]
David Laroche: It’s okay for the sound because it’s recording here.
Brad Szollose: So, what happened is I would start to see that — I flew out to the “Games, Learning & Society” Conference in Madison, Wisconsin, and that’s where the top academic professors come together with game designers, some of the most violent game designers in the world, like from electronic arts and things like that. And they come together and they fuse their ideas to help use games in the classroom from kindergarten on up to college. Some people are scoffing at this, but it woke me up like you wouldn’t believe because of several things I saw. Imagine taking an Economics course for a semester where you actually create a gaming simulation with your team where you build a small town and you attract businesses and corporations; you create taxation and you’re able to run this small town so that it’s profitable. They can run multiple simulations before they actually get out of college and go to work in Government. They actually have practiced for once as to what you can’t do and what you shouldn’t do; if you have taxes being too high, the simulation will show corporations will leave. If you bring them in with balance and you don’t tax the middle class too much, you will have a balanced simulation. So, they were doing things like these. This blew my mind. Using games in the classroom is the next phase. And if you look at the Khan Academy — I don’t know if you’ve seen that, but Microsoft, Bill Gates put, I think, a billion dollars into the Khan Academy and what this is—is online video classrooms, training. This is the next wave. This is the next way to learn because the students can learn at their own pace, instead of sitting in a classroom feeling embarrassed to raise their hands and go, “What? I don’t quite know what you’ve been talking about for the past hour.” They can take the video, roll it back, look at it and try the equations, and keep moving and keep moving until they actually get it on their own time.
David Laroche: And what do you think about building videos for mobile? For example, youth can follow the training on their iPhones.
Brad Szollose: Well, think about it this way. This device has created what’s called “augmented reality.” This device allows me in seconds to access not only my database and network, but to take photos, upload them, share PDFs and information, and it’s only the beginning, because now they’re developing applications or apps for this second take on other things. Besides accessing the global positioning satellites, besides finding a cool restaurant, you’ll be able to monitor let’s say your EKG and your doctor will be able to monitor it though your iPhone. You’ll be able to hook up electrodes and go, “Hey, how’s my heart rate, Doc.?” Your life will be changing because the entire planet earth is about to become a Wi-Fi network, the Cloud. And this is just the beginning, these types of devices, and it’s been driven mostly by youth. I’m sure there a lot of people listening that might doubt this, but how many older generations are texting because that’s the only way to reach their grandchildren? Or they’re using the Facebook because they want to see what their grandkids are up to or their own children, because it’s the new communication device of the 21st century.
David Laroche: Yes. And you are dealing with the fact that youth prefer to follow online and when they want, but do you think, if we go to extremes, the youth will not have any contacts… any real contacts?
Brad Szollose: That’s correct. That’s when someone like you comes in, who teaches face time. This face-to-face communication will always be needed. Even if you’re on a Skype network, even if you’re on sort of a video conference chat, there is certain etiquette and certain things. The stories that we tell enrich our lives. Look at this more as a platform for the next generation—the 21st century equivalent of the printing press or the electric grid system. This is the next wave that’s come along where now the infrastructure is in place and speed and master is coming up. The next generation’s going to have to learn a new set of communication tools, if they’re going to survive, because “Baby Boomers” like myself, we are retiring. So, how do you pass on that legacy? How do you pass on to young people who have a whole new skill set that perhaps Boomers do not have? How do you communicate that to the next wave that’s been exposed to technology and may not see the value in creating something long-term like the older generations have learned?
David Laroche: Do you have some life lessons you want to give to youth?
Brad Szollose: Absolutely. I probably failed more times than I succeeded, but it’s those moments where I did not give up, that I succeeded. One of the things that happened to me is back when I first started my company “K2” — it was in a tiny room, maybe 15×20, with two Macintosh, two CI computers — and that first year was such a struggle, because we had already established ourselves here in New York City as graphic designers and businessmen. What happened is, all of a sudden, this new thing came along called “the Internet”. And my business partner came running into the office one day and he goes, “We have to become an Internet company!” And I was like, “What’s the Internet?” Because it was 1994—nobody really knew what the Internet was. We were struggling so hard at that time, because I was married and I had two kids and I was barely making any money, and I just realized that I had to not give up; I was in too deep. Have you ever started a project and you can’t quit it because you’re in too far? And I realized I could not give up. This was going to succeed no matter what. Well, we suddenly attracted a new CEO and he was a young guy from Wharton, three to four years younger than me, and he knew how to take the company to the next level.
So, you’re going to run into people and you’re going to meet people that have the knowledge base that you might lack. So, never worry that you don’t know everything; you’re going to meet the right people on the road—trust in that. Right after that… right after we brought him on board, he did like 1.5 million dollars in sales that first year that he came on board, and I was like, “You’re hired!” Not only did I make him CEO, I made him a business partner. The following year he did 4.3 million and then the following year he did 7.3 million dollars in sales. Success is a lot of times right around the corner just before you’re about to give up. Things will shift, trust me.
There was one more thing I wanted to add to those three things that influence your generation. The third and final piece of all of this is — I don’t know how it was in France, but in United States they started to do this thing called “child-centric parenting” and “child-centric teaching.” What that is— is they flattened the hierarchy in the household. So, instead of looking up to mom and dad, children were encouraged to have the same conversations with their parents and the children made the decisions in the household. Parents would go, “Do you want to play soccer or do you want to play baseball? Do you want to do this or do you want to do that? Should mommy and daddy stay together or get a divorce?” I’m making a joke, but these are the kind of conversations that children were now elevated into. And when they went to their schools they were encouraged to call their teachers by their first names. Did that happen in France?
David Laroche: No.
Brad Szollose: Well, it changed over here. In some countries that was encouraged—that youth were the next wave, and they fought like crazy to say what they wanted to. Here in United States somebody would get right out of college and walk straight up to the CEO of a corporation and go, “Hey, I’m going to show you how to run this place better.” And that was happening a lot here in the United States right around the late ‘90’s into the early 2000-2004. So, it was causing a lot of chaos here in the United States. If you look at Mark Zuckerberg and some of these other youth-driven CEO’s, they have this confidence that’s at a completely different level. I would say to some of the youth that you’re mentoring—look at some of these people who have started multi-million dollar corporations at a young age.
David Laroche: Learn from them.
Brad Szollose: Learn from them; look at them, because all they’re doing is emulating some of the great people around the world. Who was it? Emile Coué said this best—“Every day, in every way, I keep getting better and better.” You have to trust in that fact that every day, in every way you’re getting better and better.
David Laroche: I think it’s a great, great advice.
Brad Szollose: Yes.
David Laroche: I would like to ask you another question, because I do trainings for teachers sometimes and I will do more and more. Do you have any advice for teachers? When I say teachers, it’s teachers for youth… teachers for young people who are 18 years old, maybe.
Brad Szollose: Well, let me get a little context here. You said in France it’s a little bit different. Here in the United States the children were giving trophies for showing up at baseball games. There were no winners and losers all of a sudden. From 1977 on everything in the teaching world shifted into this “the youth are the center of everything.” Rather than training them for the future, it was sort of like, “We’re going to have fun and we’re going to build self-confidence.” The number one thing that was taught in the United States was “self-confidence” over the last 30 years or so. So, we have a generation that believes that they’re special at every single level, but they don’t know why they’re special. You have to discover that. So, I think for any teacher out there, whether it’s in France or Germany or anywhere in the world, you have to teach children or young adults the discipline of how to get from point A to point B, if they want to succeed. Also, why self-esteem is important; why they need to have confidence in their skills and their talents at the same time. There are a lot of talented piano players out there, but not all of them get to Carnegie Hall; not all of them get to play at the great Concert Halls in France. You need to know that there is a “gain plan”, a method for each and every person’s career. Each person is going to do it differently.
One of the things I would like to tell youth is—every business, every successful person out there — it doesn’t matter who they are — that top, top person learned the secret of their industry by studying it and hanging out with other people who had the secret of their industry… just by hanging out with the right people. Tell the teachers to encourage students to go listen to businessmen and introduce themselves and say “hello” because we’re all out there. We’re willing to spend time with youth, because we know how hard it was; we were in your shoes back then when nobody was listening to us.
When I was young I told some of my teachers, “I’m going to live in New York City and I’m going to have a Corporation. I’m going to be famous.” They told me I was an idiot, and they told me to sit down and shut up. Now they had me come back to my high school and I gave speeches, and I got a special Award for Distinguished Alumnus. So, follow your passion and your dreams, but also learn how to study, be open to knowledge that may not fit what you were taught because you’re going to get it from the top people who know the secret of that industry. And never give up; keep going. If you have a dream and you believe in it, it will manifest; give it time.
David Laroche: Thank you very much.
[French part here 00:39:42.8 – 00:39:55.5]
David Laroche: I have a last question for you. We have some advice for youth, for the teachers… What advice could you give to parents because maybe they are “Baby Boomers” and maybe they have children of the “Generation Y” or under?
Brad Szollose: Sure.
David Laroche: Maybe they are afraid sometimes or maybe they don’t understand their own children. What can they do? Do they have to let them do? What can they do to help them become happy and successful adults?
Brad Szollose: The key to this world, I believe, and let me go back a little bit… If you’re a parent, I think the most successful thing you can do is look at your child almost as if you were a stranger. It’s hard because we love our kids and we look at them and we have opinions about what their capabilities are and what their limitations are. Here’s a good example. My father always was worried that I would never be able to make a living, so he got on my case—so I had to learn Mathematics and I had to learn the Science and I was…. whatever. Then when I told them I was going to Graphic Design School he didn’t understand it all. My high school teachers actually had to tell him, “Look, it isn’t like when you were growing up. Today a graphic designer can do all kinds of things. They can work with video; they can work on a movie set; they can work all over the place or start their own business.” A lot of parents, the reason they do what they do is they’re afraid that their children aren’t going to be able to make a living or to be able to eat… being at certain age a failure because they followed some crazy dream. It’s not like it was when the parents where growing up, the “Baby Boomers.” Today young people can make a living and going and making movies. They can make a living working in video production. That was a pipe dream when I was a kid—“You’re going to go to Hollywood? That’s crazy!” Well, now you can go to UCLA, get your degree and work in Hollywood right away or for a production company. It’s considered a job, just like an astronaut is now a job. These things are the professions of the 21st century. And all I can say to parents is—try to see your child in a new light. Just take a good look at them and go, “Hmmm… What are they passionate about? What does my child get up every morning and get excited about? Do they love to play the drums? Do they love music and sound? Do they love Science and Math?” And steer them in that direction and keep them open to possibilities, because you can be a Mathematics person and build a server. You can be a teacher and start like the Khan Academy. You can be a great musician and help other musicians put their albums together.
There are all these other platforms and capabilities, and possibilities that are right under our noses, but a lot of times, as parents, we cannot see that because we might have a judgment call on our children based on some of what our own parents told us, like “Stop daydreaming!” — you know, those kind of things we all heard — “Don’t daydream! Get a job! Why aren’t up out of bed? It’s 10 o’clock. Let’s go! Move it! When I was your age I was…”
David Laroche: Yes. It’s very interesting what you are saying about “what my children love” and maybe some parents think that their children only love video games, alcohol and drugs. What can they do? Do they have to let them… or question them—“What do you love in these video games? What do you love when you take alcohol?”
Brad Szollose: The thing is that you are going to have to look at your child in that light, but also — and this is what a child may not know, especially a young adult — what’s the path to success? Parents do know that on many levels, a lot of them, and just to steer the child in that direction. I gave a talk at my high school, and you would be shocked at what happened. I was blown away but this. This is a generational shift. I walked into the English and Science Departments and I spoke and at the end I do a “question and answer.” The English and the Science majors and the smart… the smart kids basically had very little questions about the success and what they wanted to do with their career. But when I went into the Art Department — and my high school had a very progressive Art Department going up: sculpture, painting… You named it; they did…. They won awards, top awards — I couldn’t get out of there for an hour because the kids were raising their hands and go, “How can I do this for a living? How can I go and put my sculptures and my passion to work?” And one kid made a joke. He said, “Yeah… I’m going to video games with this” and I said, “You should. I want you to go home and talk to your parents. I want you to draft a letter — because you’re 16 or 17 years old — I want you to write a letter to Pixar and I want you to write to the CEO.” And I told him, “Who to write to? I want you to send a letter to the head of Electronic Arts and I want you to tell him, ‘I’m 16 years of age, I love video games and I love Art. How can I become an artist in the video game world? How can I bring my designs, my ideas to life in the video game world?’ See, if I were your age today, with the talent that I had as a graphic designer, I would have gone straight to “Pixar.” They have their own University out in California where they teach you and train you in the “Pixar” methodology of making movies.” And I think that young people today… if you have a passion for something, get out there and do it because there are so many platforms that allow you to actually do it today.
David Laroche: I love what you are saying.
Brad Szollose: And there is a practical side to this, too. It’s like money and success and having a good plan are very important. I think where my father was concerned and I think a lot of parents today are concerned, is they’re afraid that these professions that we’re talking about, 100 years ago were whimsy; they were flights of fantasy. It was one in a million person that wound up working in Hollywood; one in a million person that wound up working in NASA, but today it’s very different. So, parents don’t need to worry like they used to. It’s like, “Okay, you want to be an artist; you want to be a musician.” How can we take it to the next level to this generation? It’s very powerful what can go on now. You can produce an entire album with multiple musicians from your apartment with the sound equipment you get from Apple.
David Laroche: Yes.
Brad Szollose: So, we have tools at our fingertips. We have the Internet—you can market for free everything. It’s not like it was 40 years ago.
David Laroche: You are saying… We were talking about writing a letter to people who inspire you. For example, with my girlfriend we believe that men like Spielberg or George Lucas could be very inspiring, because movies can be a good way to teach youth. According to you, what can we do to meet — It’s easier for me to meet speakers, hosts because I work in this field and I have done a lot of things; I do my conferences, so I have a credibility to meet authors and I have a show. But what advice can you give me to interview, for example, George Lucas?
Brad Szollose: The best thing you can do is because of your youth I think he is open to talk more to talking to young people right off the bat. Immediately they’re open to helping young people get into certain professions right away, because it’s needed. It’s where the fresh ideas are coming from. When you’re young, when you’re 18, when you’re 21 and you’re right out of college, write that letter to the CEO; don’t be afraid. My generation was taught—“You have to earn the right to be able to contact these people.” But your generation has been taught “Oh, I can meet a movie star in Twitter and talk to them.” So, the hierarchy is flattened — remember I said hierarchy is flattened in the household and in the schools, and in the corporate environment — So, a lot of your generation believe that they should have access to the CEO, the president of France, the person in their local Government—“I should be able to contact them and tell them how I feel.” So, have an articulate conversation with them; write them a letter and see if you can get an interview, see if you can even get a Skype phone call with them or something, because it isn’t like it used to be. You have access to these people. Within a few minutes you can do a “google” search and find out who the CEO of any corporation is in the world and you can call them.
David Laroche: What could be the best thing we could shed light on? The fact that we are young, the fact that we want to help youth… Maybe it’s a good thing to shed light on that.
Brad Szollose: The best thing I can tell to your generation is—be patient and learn as much as you can, because in the very short while…
David Laroche: I’m sorry, to contact for example George Lucas.
Brad Szollose: Oh, okay.
David Laroche: In the letter, according to you, do I have to focus on the fact that the project will help a lot of youth and that we can help them, because I know that my video will reach a lot of people… I know that today and currently I touch a thousand of people, but it’s not a million. Do you think I can say that… Can I say “I’m sure” because it’s true? “I’m sure of that”… Do you think I can say that or it will be pretentious?
Brad Szollose: No, I don’t think it’s pretentious. I think at one time your generation, maybe not you so much, but like the Mark Zuckerberg’s — Mark Zuckerberg was seen as highly pretentious and arrogant, because he had so much self-confidence that he would tell off older people, and they would look at him like, “How dare you?” But he proved to them that he was right. I’m not saying do that way because I don’t think that’s a smart way, because you’re going to make some older generations angry, because they earned the right to be in the positions they’re in. But if there’s any older executive watching, a lot of the things that come down the road in the last five years didn’t exist beforehand. You may not be even aware of the transits and the changes that are coming, so I recommend to any older CEO—be open to youth coming in the door because they’ve got some great ideas, if you’re willing to listen.
And for younger people all I would say is—learn to ask and work with older adults because they have the money for your projects; they have the experience to guide you out of the bumpy times when you don’t know what’s going to happen. You know, it isn’t always going to be success, success, success. A lot of times, most entrepreneurs—it’s their fourth business that finally takes off. You have three failures first. So, my recommendation is this—contact those business experts. When you’re dealing with the “upper echelon” like Steven Spielberg or George Lucas, you’re going to be dealing with, in the very beginning, one of their secretaries or one of their personal assistants and if you are good and kind and wonderful to that assistant, they are the doorkeeper or the gatekeeper for you being able to get access to them.
David Laroche: Okay.
Brad Szollose: A lot of these people — like Donald Trump—he doesn’t use the cell phone — they don’t use the Internet. They hire people to do that for them because they’re too busy. But if you are from let’s say a college newspaper and you really want to get an interview with somebody big, a big name, people are much more personal today than they were 40 years ago. It was a little harder to get an interview with somebody like Steven Spielberg or George Lucas at one time. Today it’s a lot easier, because you can find out where to contact them, who is the agent that handles their public appearances, and they’re willing to listen to youth and do things for free at this level because they want to give back.
David Laroche: Thank you very much for all your answers. Just before to finish my girlfriend would like to ask you something about education, if you agree.
Brad Szollose: Absolutely.
David Laroche: Perfect. So, we change.
Brad Szollose: We switch.
David Laroche: We switch.
[Julie’s intervention from [00:54:12] to [01:04:00]]
Julie: I don’t have a website. It’s more like something that touches me. Since I’m born, I’m touched by how to improve the world and how to make this world a better place to live. So, my first question to you is—according to you, what can each of us do to participate in making this world a better place to live?
Brad Szollose: Well, first you have to start with making yourself better; because I think a lot of people… they may not actually realize that they’re damaging the universe or the environment or whatever. This is the spiritual side of us for lack of a better world. We have to work on making ourselves better human beings so we can treat others better. The golden rule applies. Now, some people think the golden rule means that those with the gold make the rules, but the reality is the golden rule is—“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I think we’ve lost touch with that. We’ve seen what can happen… you’ve seen how the United States has been policing the world and all that, and you all see how people have reacted to that. Maybe that’s the end of an era and we need to now look into the future for something that’s far better, where the youth are now coming up and being in charge, and about to be in Government positions. They have to have much more compassion, I think, because we’re dealing with people from all over the world. We’re global now; we’re no longer just one country or cluster countries dealing with the rest of the world. We’re all interconnected, and we can see that…
So, I think it starts with the education. We can see how powerful education is when it’s done wrong or when it’s done correctly. I think it’s important to empower young people. Napoleon Hill — who is a “self-help” person, who started that whole trend here in the United States — he felt that children should be running the classroom. In other words, they should be called upon to teach the class. What that requires is that the teacher teaches them how to teach the class. So, they would form a team, go home, do the research and meet and kind of do studying and figuring out what questions to ask the rest of the class, and form sort of their own curriculum and come back in and teach the class. Not only would they know the subject very well, but they would develop leadership skills and self-confidence. Any teacher out there that really wants to empower their students, I feel they should teach the children how to teach that particular subject and guide them along the way — “you might want to try it differently” — and be the mentor instead of a commander. Our job is to be shepherds; I really believe that. Our job is to be shepherds with the youth.
My father’s generation… before, they were taught, “You whoop a kid; you paddle them and you make them obey the rules.” Well, we’re in a different time period right now and you see a lot of children coming into the world that have talent and sensitivity and want to change the world, and they want to give back to the world. I think this is going to change our planet over the next 25 years.
Julie: So, if I sum up, you advise that each one has to get better with oneself, that we can have better interactions.
Brad Szollose: Yes.
Julie: So, you went ahead of me because you talked about education. That was my second question, so you already answered my question.
Brad Szollose Good, good.
Julie: To me education is one of the keys to build a better world.
Brad Szollose Here’s another thing. You can see it in churches. Church, in order to — especially the Catholic Church or Christian churches — had to change the way they teach because the youth aren’t coming. They had to open up the curriculum differently and instead of telling people “You’re a sinner and you’re evil”, they had to say, “How can you live a better life? How do your religious beliefs tie into the reality of your world? How does it help you become a better person?” And the schools have to adapt, as well because your generation doesn’t obey the rules anymore. You do what your heart tells you to do, and that’s very confusing to “Baby Boomers” because we were told to obey the rules—“Sit down, shut up and listen and obey the rules!” That’s how we were all taught. Your generation was taught to stand up and find what makes you passionate; find what you love to do.
Julie: Follow you heart.
Brad Szollose: Follow your heart. That, I think, is going to change everything in the world, because your generation doesn’t obey the Government because it tells them what to do; you don’t obey a corporation. You’ll quit a job if it doesn’t fit what you want to do in this world. And you want to give back to the universe; you want to help starving children in Africa; you want to make your communities a better place and you want to do it on a bigger scale. This confuses the older generations because they’re like, “Don’t you want to buy a house and have kids, and do something like that with your life?” The reality is—no, you think differently.
Julie: Can I just ask you one last question?
Brad Szollose: Sure.
Julie: You say we have… the best way is to get better with one self. Do you have a first step for people to get better with — If someone feels sad or doesn’t feel good with his or her life, what can they do to start to get better?
Brad Szollose Do something that gets you out of being yourself all the time… with yourself alone, because our thoughts fall in on themselves sometimes. There was a great spiritual master in Tibet called Milarepa and he said, “All depression is anger that’s been turned on yourself.” So, when we sit and we worry and we go, “Oh, I’m not good enough. I’m not this…” go outside; help some old people. Help the elderly buy some groceries, help them for a day. Go to a hospital and volunteer. Get outside of your own head and start helping others. Volunteer in youth organizations; volunteer — When I was a kid I was a Boy Scout and it was through my church. So, as a Boy Scout I got involved in programs where I could help bring the “Meals on Wheels” to the homes of people; I could help “Toys for Tots”; I could see certain things.
My mother on Christmas Eve took us to the Salvation Army, as a family, to serve dinner, Christmas dinner, to poor people in my neighborhood and my hometown. I was shocked to see friends of mine from high school there who didn’t have enough money for Christmas dinner. It woke me up and it made me stop looking at myself and going, “I’m the greatest thing in the world!” and instead to go, “Hmmm…. Wow! I did not know that!” I did not know that people I passed in the hall every single day couldn’t afford to eat; couldn’t afford clothing. You really get outside of your own personal ego and narcissism when you see something like that. It touched my heart… it touched my heart to see friends of mine who just — They were embarrassed to be there, and I let them know, “It doesn’t matter. It’s between us. I’m not going to tell anybody.” They’d go, “Hey, what’s up? How are you doing?” I was talking and joking with them because these things can be embarrassing to admit to the world. I think if we commit to helping other first, we’ll figure out who we are. You’ll be able to figure out better when you stop thinking about yourself. And you find your mission by doing and helping, and getting out into the world and helping people. Just commit to that.
Julie: It’s an interesting advice. You said it’s good to start helping people.
Brad Szollose: Yes. I’m sure in France and in Europe there are places where people… they’re having trouble feeding themselves. We’re in an economic disruption that’s taking place… it’s all over the world and people don’t know what to do to survive. Rather than judge that, rather…. You see what’s going on in the news with them trying to control information and control people and all this other stuff. Just go out and help… help people. Sometimes a smile or a kind word, or helping somebody cross the street, or picking somebody up… or go buy a sandwich for a homeless guy. One of those moments in time you’re helping someone else, but you’d be shocked at how much it helps you. I think we’re entering into a new age of compassion and caring amongst people because we’ve seen what the alternative can be.
Julie: Thank you very much.
Brad Szollose: Here. I hope I gave enough…. We always say it’s better to have more footage than not enough — you know what I mean? — in film and video. Thank you. I hope I answered everything for you.
David Laroche: I will ask you a last question.
Brad Szollose: Absolutely.
David Laroche: It is a humorous question. I’ll explain you. I would like to touch people in a way that they aren’t touched currently. It is to inverse the question. My question will be—how to become a loser? I will ask you that and I will do a video with best advice from each expert on how to become an average person.
Brad Szollose: A mediocre, below average; like to be a loser as you would say.
David Laroche: Are you ready?
Brad Szollose: I’m ready.
David Laroche: I have a last question for you. It’s very important because I would like to help people to become losers…
Brad Szollose: No one has ever asked me that.
David Laroche: Maybe very good tips, some advice, strategies on how to become a loser according to you.
Brad Szollose: The best way to become a loser is—don’t listen to anyone around you and do it your own way all the time. And even if you fail in continuing down that road, don’t ask for help at all. That will help you to be a loser. Don’t read any books, don’t learn from any experts and don’t ask questions and think you know it all.
David Laroche: Yes, I know everything.
Brad Szollose: Now you know everything… Tell people off; just tell them, “Go to… whatever” and just do whatever you feel like. That’s the best way to become a loser.
David Laroche: It’s a good thing to start with.
Brad Szollose: I’ve never been asked that question. That’s great.
David Laroche: Thank you very much.
Brad Szollose: Thank you.
David Laroche: It will help a lot of people.
Brad Szollose: Thank you, David. Thank you.
David Laroche: Thank you very much.
Brad Szollose: You’re welcome. That’s a great question.
David Laroche: Yes, and I think I will touch people who were not truly touched… with inversing the way.
Brad Szollose: If you make it funny… I think it makes it humorous.
David Laroche: My last video is another video. It is an interview. I have two videos that could become more viral—this one with “how to become a loser”. And I will do another video without me on success. Just to have a few tips from each expert and I will do a video of maybe 2 or 3 minutes with the best keys of each one. And I know it will be more viral than any of my videos.
Brad Szollose: You want one of those. That’s fine.
David Laroche: Can you just turn a little. You will have the Eiffel Tower.
Brad Szollose: Nice. Did you plan this room? The key to success—is that what you want? I went over how to be a loser in three easy steps.
David Laroche: Share what you want to say maximum two minutes and I will take the best. Stay cool. You can say everything you want and I will take only a few seconds
[“the key factors of success” question 01:08:24.7 ]
David Laroche: So, according to you what could be the key factors of success?
Brad Szollose: The key factors for success for me have always been—first of all, look for what you’re passionate about. I see a lot of people out there that set goals for themselves that are actually based on other people’s dreams and needs, and wants. You know, they’re supposed to be successful; they’re supposed to be a great lawyer; they’re supposed to be a top sergeant. I’ll give you a good example of this. My father always told me that being a creative director or an artist or something like that, I would wind up homeless. So, I spent my whole life proving my father wrong and I worked very hard at this. And one day I realized, “Why am I doing this? I’m trying to fulfill a dream based on a reaction and to make my dad proud” or whatever it was. And the day I gave that up and sat back, and made a list of what I truly wanted in my life, what I was truly passionate about and loved to do, and got rid of everything else, that’s when my life changed. That’s when I went from just being a graphic designer to being the owner of a multi-million dollar corporation with offices around the world, with 60 employees and just having a phenomenal time creating great work from my clients. So, find that passion but learn to separate your goals and everything out from all the things that you’ve been taught in your head. Follow your heart. What do you really want to do? That’s the key to success. What gets you up in the morning? What excites you? What makes you passionate? Follow that.
And here’s the other side of that coin. Once you start doing that, things are going to move quickly. So, you have to be prepared for two more things—you have to learn to adapt as you go along, because your dream is going to shift. Technology changes. You’re going to meet people that want a similar dream—you might go with that. The other thing is—there’s knowledge coming down the road from very wise people. Be open to that; be open to learn the next level, the next piece of information, the next part that’s missing from everything you know right now. And I guarantee you, you’re going to be a success.
[end of question on success 01:10:48.3]
David Laroche: Great! Thank you. The last question is a very short question. What could we do today to start to create our success? What can we do today? … for the people who are following the video.
Brad Szollose: What you can today to be come successful is to begin having a success mindset and how is that? The “success mindset” is someone who’s open to new ideas, someone who’s willing to learn as much as they possibly can about an industry or subject, and someone who’s willing to listen to people who have pioneered and gone ahead of us. Some of my mentors are people I never thought I would ever get a chance to talk to. And now… today I’m speaking on the same stage as Jeffrey Gitomer or Bob Burg or Sharon Lechter, and I had that success mindset that I was going to be in the same winners’ circle as everyone else. And I want you to believe in that. It may not happen immediately—it might take 5 years; it might take 10 years; it might take 20 years, but know in your heart and in your mind—you’re going to be there in that winners’ circle.
David Laroche: Yes. It’s awesome.
Brad Szollose: Good. Adapting that plan is very important because when I first heard about the Internet I was like, “Why would anybody have an Internet company?” because for a designer it’s like going backwards. Now it’s simple graphics… We didn’t have video. So I was like “Why would I do the Internet?” and now it’s everywhere; you cannot work without the Internet.
David Laroche: Yes, I think so. That’s why I do that. I think it’s a great way to touch and to reach people and to teach a lot of people.
Brad Szollose: Right. I love doing what I do. It’s just a blessing to be able to talk and to bring it together. And I look young and I get these “Baby Boomers”, and they’re looking at me and I’m like “I’m 50 years old….” I’m kind of, “You’ve go to listen to the young people because they do it different and they’re doing it fast.” They don’t know that. They haven’t been exposed to it. I like scaring them.
David Laroche: I would like to ask you something if you agree, if you want to do that. Is it possible for you to do an endorsement video for me?
Brad Szollose: Absolutely!
David Laroche: Yes? It will help me reach other people… if you loved the interview.
Brad Szollose: I loved it. You got it. You want me to talk about your interviewing and…
David Laroche: David Laroche… I will be able to use it for my English blog or my French blog to reach people that I don’t reach currently, for example. Let’s start.
[feedback for David 01:13:57.9]
Brad Szollose: As a business leader, as a professional, as an entrepreneur I highly recommend David Laroche, because you’re going to get exposure, you’re going to have a fantastic time being interviewed, and he’s got very concise questions that today’s youth need. So, get on board.
David Laroche: Perfect. Thank you very much.