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The common factors of successful people – Darren Hardy

David Laroche: Hello, Achievers! Today is an awesome day. I am with Darren Hardy. He is the CEO of SUCCESS magazine and also the best-selling author of the best-selling book “The Compound Effect” . And he is with me to answer my questions about success. You will enjoy this amazing interview and you have to purchase SUCCESS magazine; it’s awesome. Hello, Darren!

Darren Hardy: Hello!

David Laroche: How are you?

Darren Hardy: I’m great! I wish I had a French accent. It sounds so much more eloquent in French accent.

David Laroche: I can teach you the French accent.

Darren Hardy: Yes, it would be great.

David Laroche: We can do an interview to have the French accent.

Darren Hardy: Yes, that’s great!

David Laroche: I have a lot of questions for you, but I would love to know, first of all, your story; especially your struggles and how you overcame them, because a lot of people think that successful people have only luck, no struggles; it’s easy for them. And I love to share… and they see that’s not so easy.

Darren Hardy: Actually my experience is exactly the opposite. Usually the most successful are the ones that seem to have struggled the most. So, whenever I’m asked — which I get asked a lot — what is the key to success or when I ask somebody, “Why aren’t you more successful than you are right now, because you’re capable of a lot more?” the excuse that I hear very often is, “It relates to my background.”

So, I was born to a couple who were very young and they divorced when I was 18 months old. And my mother — she just never really wanted to be a mother — so she just handed me off to my father. As the matter of fact, when she first found out that she was pregnant with me her response to the doctor was anger. She was mad that she was pregnant. I went with my father and he was only 23 years old when I was born. He had just moved from the San Francisco Bay Area, which is in northern California, to the middle of the country, which is in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He took a job as an overworked, underpaid American football coach. It was just he and I out there by ourselves. We really, kind of, grew up together. My father wasn’t exactly the nurturing type. He was a really sort of strong, muscle-bound, aggressive, “alpha male.” He was infamous for one of his coaching philosophies, because he was a “yeller”; he was a “screamer.” He was the guy that there was “no whining, no crying, no excuses”; lots of yelling, lots of cursing… But one of his coaching philosophies, that he was infamous for, was “no matter how hurt a player got, they were not allowed to come out of the game.”

So, one time this line backer just gets creamed in the middle of the field and wobbles to the sideline; begs my dad to take him out of the game and my dad grabs him by the facemask, with his teeth bared, and he says, “Not unless you’re showing bone.” He pulled back his shoulder pad—now from his neck skin was sticking his collarbone. That was a famous line. Whenever any of us, kids, got sick and asked to stay home from school, he’d yell, “Not unless you’re showing bone!” That was this kind of that upbringing.

Then, when I was four years old he married my “stepmonster” or my stepmother. They went on to have two other children. And because in her eyes I was “of the other woman”, she did everything she could to try to ostracize me from the family; really to try to push me aside. So, I was…

David Laroche: You were not accepted.

Darren Hardy: Yes. I was “a red-headed stepchild” in her eyes. I say all that because that dysfunctional childhood is the reason why I say I’m the very functioning, highly successful achiever that I am today. Because I had to get over the issues of abandonment, is the reason why I’m vigorously self-reliant. Because I had this strong, “alpha male” as a father, is the reason why I’m so driven and ambitious. Because you had to achieve in our household in order to get any love or any attention, is the reason why I am also so achievement-oriented and goal-driven.

A lot of people look at their childhood as wounds that they need to heal from; that are debilitating them; that are keeping them back. And I see it exactly the opposite. I see that your adversity is your advantage; that it has become my great advantage because — Adversity is like building a muscle—you put it under incredible stress and strength repeatedly, stress and strength, and then it grows back bigger than it was before. So, if you’ve had difficulties in your past, you’ve developed muscles so that today you can do extraordinary things that ordinary people can’t do, because they haven’t had the muscle development. It builds up this emotional resilience. It gives you this will, this determination, this drive. Because you’ve had these experiences, you’ve gone through this development process. My mentor, Mr. Jim Rohn, would often say, “People walk around with their past like a billy club, and they just keep beating themselves over the head with it. Instead you should look at your past like a school, like a training ground; that because you’ve gone through this development, you’ve garnered this education. Now you can do things that ordinary people can’t do.”

That’s really my story—a story of coming through dysfunction and that is what has equipped me, trained me, developed me to be the achiever that I am today, and to be able to communicate to people what it is to be “on both sides of the fence.” The “excuse buster”, the “myth buster” is this—that your past is something to heal from. And the reality is that your past is something to have used as your great advantage as you move forward. So, that’s a little bit about where I came from.

David Laroche: So, you are saying that when we have struggles and when we overcome them we are building our strengths.

Darren Hardy: You’re building your muscle. You’re bigger having gone through that process, than you would have been without it.

David Laroche: So, maybe we can enjoy every struggle we have.

Darren Hardy: It’s part of the process. It’s not just part of the process… it is essential. When I first got into real estate — and I was only 20 years old — I took a real estate trainer, speaker, expert to lunch and asked him, “What do I need to do to be successful? I’ll do anything.” — Like you—you are very persistent — “I’ll do anything. I’m determined. Just tell me what I need to do.” And he said, “You need to go fail.” And I said…
David Laroche: “What?”

Darren Hardy: … “What do you mean I needed to go…? I thought the whole idea of success was avoiding failure.” He says, “No, no, no. It’s exactly the opposite—you need to go fail; you need to go fail a lot and you need to go fail fast.” And then he said — he gave me this quote from Thomas Watson, who used to be the president of IBM — and he said, “The key to success is massive failure. The key to success is massive failure.” And he said, “What you need to get success is you need to go get massive failure.”

He could see that I wasn’t really getting the point, so he drew out this analogy for me that has been pivotal for propelling me to be successful from that point forward. He said, “Life’s like a pendulum—on one side of the pendulum is defeat, rejection, failure, sadness. And then on the other side of the pendulum is victory, success, accomplishment…

David Laroche: Achievement…

Darren Hardy: … and achievement, yes. And if you just stand still, you won’t experience any defeat and failure, but you won’t experience any success or achievement. So, what most people do is they just find this little “comfort zone”; they’re only willing to experience so much…

David Laroche: No success, no failures.

Darren Hardy: … only so much defeat, so much rejection, and so they only get so much success and so much victory. He said, “Now, you can’t push the pendulum on the side of success, but you can push it on the side of failure. So, your job is to go push the pendulum on the side of failure as much and as fast, and as massive as possible. And then what you will find is—it will swing, in equilibrium, on the side of success, on the side of joy, on the side of achievement, on the side of wealth. So push and push and push on the side of failure and rejection.” And I took it very seriously. I went out like a savage to just go get as much rejection, as much failure; suffer as much defeat; put myself on the position where I was vulnerable for sadness as much as possible, and…

David Laroche: It worked.

Darren Hardy: … It worked. It worked on a massive scale. So, I was in real estate at 20. I had no business being in real estate business; I had no idea about the business and the rest of it. I just knew this one process—“Go get rejected! Go find failure. Put yourself in a position for defeat.” And the pendulum swung on the other side, in equilibrium, and it was a fantastic success. It was beyond what any of my competitors or people on the same marketplace that were competing for the same business — They couldn’t compete with a 20 year old, because I was just relentless about collecting failure faster and bigger than anybody else on the market.

David Laroche: You are inspiring me. I love that. I would love to know — because you did a lot of interviews also with inspiring people like Warren Buffett… a lot of people. What are, maybe, the three main things, most — I don’t know how to say that — what are the three best things you learn from every of these interviews?

Darren Hardy: The first thing is that they’re really normal people.

David Laroche: Like you.

Darren Hardy: They’re really just normal people; seriously. I’m best-suited for this job because I am not impressed by anybody. I appreciate what they have done, but I’m not awestruck. There is a big difference between appreciation and awestruck. So, they really are just very normal people that have decided that they are going to be determined and achieve something, and they are going to be relentless. And that’s pursuit. Many of them have started out broke; they started out with dyslexia; they started out being an immigrant; they started out as an orphan; they started out abused. It doesn’t matter how they started out; it doesn’t matter what family they came from; it doesn’t matter what school they went to or didn’t go; or what side of the tracks they were raised on, they are all very normal people. The one interested thing that I have found (that I’ve, sort of, put my finger on) is—they hate to lose more than they love to win. They are competitive and they hate to lose. They win and that’s fine, but they hate to lose. They’re willing to do whatever it takes not to lose—to win. And again, to win is great and it’s fine; but they don’t really pay it much money, and it was like, “Okay, we won. What’s next?” But they don’t want to lose. That’s one thing.

But how they’ve gotten there? The distinguishing factors of how they’ve gotten there are—they are relentless about continually learning. They are growth-minded like Steve Jobs — he did what he called “iterate”—“Always get a little bit better. How can we get a little bit better?” So, this constant, never-ending pursuit of improvement, of growth…

David Laroche: Like “CANI”…

Darren Hardy: Constant and never-ending improvement—CANI—yes, exactly. So, that is a common trait. The most common trait amongst all the “uber-achievers” that I’ve ever met is this—that they are extremely learning-oriented and growth-oriented.

The other, that I would say, is that they have a clear idea of where they’re going and what goal and ambition they have got, but they are more growth-minded than they are goal-oriented. So, for instance, when I was interviewing John Maxwell I’d said, “So, John, you’ve accomplished all this. What’s your next big goal?” And he said, “You know, I set goals, but I don’t really live my life out towards goals.” He says, “The only thing I have ever done is just focused on growth; just getting better today than I was yesterday and figuring out how could I be better tomorrow than I am today.” And he said, “See, when I was a young guy I could never have imagined being John Maxwell, writing 50 books and get paid, you know, $60,000 for an hour of speech. I could never have set a goal for that. It would have been impossible for me to have imagined that. Instead I just focused on growing every day and then the accumulated effect of that “growth” mindset shot me way past any goal I could have possibly imagined.”

Richard Branson said the same thing. He said, “If 40 years ago we had set out to make a goal to have 400 companies and be this, incredibly, successful brand — we could never have imagined it — and if we had set that goal, we certainly would have failed. But because we just worked on getting better everyday, we far surpassed any goal.”

I’m a perfect example. I could never have set a goal for who I am today; it would have been unimaginable. It just wouldn’t have been in my realm of perception. One interesting thing to know is that I’ve not been trained or educated to do anything I’ve ever done. I’ve never been qualified to do anything I’ve ever done. If my high school English teacher knew that I was a best-selling author, that I was the editor and publisher of a nationally-distributed magazine, they would quit their profession. It would have been inconceivable to them. Like I said, I had no business being in the real estate business. I did a turnaround for a software company. I’ve started an Internet company. I’ve started a Television network, right? None of these positions that I’ve ever had or businesses that I’ve started — I wasn’t trained for it; I didn’t go to school to learn about it; I just did it and I did it by everyday….

David Laroche: Improving yourself…

Darren Hardy: … just trying to improve everyday.

David Laroche: And currently, do you have some goals or dreams, or you’re just focused on improving? For example, SUCCESS magazine—do you have a goal for the next year or for the next 10 years?

Darren Hardy: One of the important skills that I learned when I was 18 years old was how to set, stick to and achieve big goals. It’s earned me millions of dollars. I had learned it from a mentor (when I was 18) that I met, and he taught me this system and I’ve used it ever since. A couple of years ago I actually published a book called “Living Your Best Year Ever.” And it’s got in it an achievement management system. So, I’m a big believer in setting goals. So, yes I have goals; I have a direction I’m pointing myself towards. But there is a key part of a mindset, of a philosophy—that, day to day, all you need to really — like, have a goal, and then glance at it, but every day look at “what’s the next step?”

David Laroche: The goal is to take the direction and in this direction you focus on—what can I improve today? What can I do differently than the other days to go outside my “comfort zone”?

Darren Hardy: I’ll give you an example. What happens is a lot of people set goals and they have this big goal, and they look at it, like this giant staircase, and they’re like, “That just seems impossible; there’s no way. It looks too hard. It looks too much work.” And they never start. They set a goal—“Yeah, I want to be at the top of that staircase. It’s easy to write that down.” But when they go to actually start climbing, they just go, “Huhh… that’s just too…”

David Laroche: “I’m not sure…”

Darren Hardy: But if all you did was—just look at the first step and get on the first step. And then when you’re on that step, just look at the next step. That’s it. Don’t look up; just look at that next step. And then get up on that and if you keep doing that for a while, you’ll end up looking up and going, “Wow!”

David Laroche: “I’m there!”

Darren Hardy: “I far surpassed what I thought the top of the staircase was by just focusing on one step at a time” — which is really the thesis to the “compound effect.”

David Laroche: Yes, it is my next question.

Darren Hardy: Small choices…

David Laroche: What is a “compound effect”?

Darren Hardy: Yes, small choices. Then in the moment you make them, they don’t seem like any big deal at all. Accumulated over time, they create big results, right? It’s like the…

David Laroche: Do you have an example with your story?

Darren Hardy: Well, my whole life is basically the outcome of that, but the mathematical reality to it is—if you took a penny, you doubled it every day for 31 days, or a million dollars, or a million Euros, would you rather have the penny or the million Euros? Because the penny, even though when it doubles it goes from one to two, to four pennies, to eight pennies, to sixteen pennies, it doesn’t look like very much for a long time. So, you could be making all these positive choices; you could be doing all the right things; you could be learning; you could be growing; you could be trying; you could be pushing; you could be persistent, and it doesn’t look like it’s working at all. Then all of a sudden, it goes like this—you get this exponential return, but it’s only possible through those small, little rhythmic choices that over time end up compounded into a tremendous result, which is the reason why people see somebody on the cover of SUCCESS magazine and are like, “This is like an overnight success story. This person just came from out of the blue. All of a sudden, it’s just great success.” No, no, no. You didn’t see all these millions of little, positive choices that they made all along the way. Then all of a sudden, the exponent — which is the reason why Einstein said, “The eighth wonder of the world is compound interest.” Well, I say, “The eighth wonder of success is compound choices.” And if you make enough positive choices, small — at the moment they seem small, seem insignificant. Compounded over time they end up creating gargantuan results.

So, that’s the same of the process of accumulating your success in life. Too many people in our western culture are looking for the overnight success. They’re looking for “How can I get great success in 90 days or less? How can I get fit, lose weight, get sexy and make a bunch of money?” And it doesn’t work like that. It works over time; you have to have patience.

David Laroche: So, according to you, why there are people who are able to do every day something to improve themselves and why the others don’t? And maybe another question—how can we help people who don’t arrive to do everything, every day?

Darren Hardy: The problem is that our culture is filled with sensational news media and commercial marketing gimmickry. You know what that is where — commercial marketing is trying to sell you crap that makes you believe that you can get fit, get younger, get sexier, get rich, all overnight, with very little effort for only three easy payments of $39.95. They’re just trying to sell you on a quick-fix idea that, in the end, doesn’t work. People are constantly bombarded with this; so they start to believe it, “Oh, here’s a shortcut; here’s a quick fix or here’s a 90-day extreme makeover, transformate…” It doesn’t work like that. Number one is—they buy into it, they believe it and then they go… they’re constantly cycling up and down, up and down, up and down.

The way to help them with it, it is to say, “Look, the only secret to success is hard work, discipline and consistency over time. And if you just believe; if you just know that every choice you make, every step you take is igniting the “compound effect”, positive or negative — Make a poor choice—it ignites the “compound effect” (exactly). And that exponent will work just like that. Somebody goes, “How did this happen? How did I get so fat? How did I get divorced? How did I get bankrupt? Because I don’t remember making a colossal, bad choice.” You didn’t make a colossal, bad choice; you just made small poor choices that accumulated over time and, all of a sudden, it went like that.

David Laroche: Yes, it’s great.

Darren Hardy: So, the way to help is to say, “Stop looking over the ‘quick fix’”. Positive, consistent discipline, accumulated over time, will bring you all the riches and wealth you possibly can imagine. So, stick to it and have patience.

David Laroche: Great. I would love to know why did you — why and how did you start SUCCESS magazine?

Darren Hardy: Well, SUCCESS magazine is a 110-plus year old publication. It was started by Orson Swett Marden back in the 1891. We bought it in July of 2007. The former editor of SUCCESS magazine was Napoleon Hill. So, I sit in his chair today as the editor of SUCCESS. It was once owned by W. Clement Stone, and Og Mandino used to be the editor, as well.

So, we bought it in July of 2007; we put it back on newsstand in March of 2008. It was the largest first issue magazine released in the history of publishing. We sold more copies than Oprah’s first magazine and Martha Stewart’s first magazine. We sold a million copies of the first issue. And today we reach about three million people through North America and different parts of the world, and so forth.

David Laroche: In France also…

Darren Hardy: You know, I don’t think it’s actually physically distributed in France.

David Laroche: Yes, I have some…

Darren Hardy: You do? Is it at the newsstand?

David Laroche: I have some SUCCESS magazines in France.

Darren Hardy: Is it mailed to you?

David Laroche: Yes.

Darren Hardy: Oh, it’s mailed to you, okay. But in terms of physically — at the bookstores or at the airports…

David Laroche: No, it’s not in the bookstores. And why did you make this choice?

Darren Hardy: So, I’ve been in the personal development, personal growth business for 20 years now. I was running a Television Network that distributed the same kind of content as we put in SUCCESS magazine, but delivered over cable satellite and what’s called “IPTV”—Internet Protocol TV. Then the opportunity — My partner got the chance to buy SUCCESS magazine and wanted to do it with me. That happened in July of 2007. The reason is that there is not a single brand on the planet that in a word describes what everybody wants better than “success.” I mean, nobody wants — for life — nobody wants a Microsoft or a Nike or an Apple or a Starbucks, but everybody wants success. It’s the most — in my opinion, in a word — the most valued brand word that there is. What can be built off of that is substantial. So we have a magazine; we have www.success.com, which is our web platform; SUCCESS Books, which is our book publishing division; SUCCESS Speakers, which is our talent management business; SUCCESS Symposium which is our event business. We certainly can do and we’re looking at SUCCESS TV, SUCCESS Radio… So, it can end up becoming a large media company as we continue to “peel back the onion”.

David Laroche: Do you do each interview of the cover? It’s you…

Darren Hardy: Not always. Sometimes we have a writer that is hired to do it, but the ones that are on a CD, that go inside the magazine (which if you get, you know) — no other magazine in the world binds a CD in every issue…

David Laroche: Yes, it’s great.

Darren Hardy: So I do all those interviews myself, of course.

David Laroche: I have short questions and short answers. What is your favorite book? It’s a hard question.

Darren Hardy: Well, it’s “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand.

David Laroche: Okay. What is your favorite audio book?

Darren Hardy: Audio book…

David Laroche: If you listen to.

Darren Hardy: We have a product called SUCCESS Book Summaries where we summarize books on audio. I don’t think I’ve actually listened to a full-length audio of a book for a long time.

David Laroche: Okay. What is — if you have — what is your favorite movie to inspire you?

Darren Hardy: “Gladiator”.

David Laroche: It’s great!

Darren Hardy: I know it’s corny, but…

David Laroche: I love that.

Darren Hardy: Oh, the music is spectacular! The production… oh, yes. The art form of it and then the…

David Laroche: He’s a warrior.

Darren Hardy: Yes.

David Laroche: What is your favorite quote?

Darren Hardy: The one that I put, that I dedicated to Jim… he said, “Talk about things that matter to people who care.”

David Laroche: Great. And what is your favorite commitment to yourself?

Darren Hardy: Consistency.

David Laroche: Do something every day.

Darren Hardy: Just be consistent. Whatever it is that you’re committed to doing, be consistent.

David Laroche: Okay. Maybe it will be the same answers, but I would like to ask you that. Who I have to become to belong to one of the top influential people in this world?

Darren Hardy: Well, you need to become influential, right? Whenever somebody says, “Who do you need to become to achieve something?” — well, it depends on what you want to achieve. If you don’t want to achieve much, you don’t have to become much, right? If you want to achieve celebrity status as an entertainer, that’s different than if you want to achieve success as a writer. Who you need to become — are different. So, the first question is this—what do you want to achieve? And then take two or three people — Tony Robbins talks about “model success”—success leaves clues. Find somebody who’s got the success that you want and then figure out—what traits do they have? What are their character attributes? Then figure out what are the half-dozen that define that person, that have created — you think are responsible for creating their level of success. Then those are the half-dozen attributes that you should go working on developing yourself. That’s who you need to become.

There is no mystery. It’s evident, right? Just—what do you want to accomplish? Who’s already got it? What are their key core attributes? Develop those in yourself and you’ll find the same outcome in the end.

David Laroche: You’re talking about modeling … with people? Do you have some questions you ask to learn more from someone?

Darren Hardy: “If you had to do it all over again, what would be two or three things that you would do differently?” That’s usually the question I like or “How do you define success?” Since I’m the publisher of SUCCESS magazine, we’re talking about success; I typically ask that question—how do you define success for you?

David Laroche: So how do you define success?

Darren Hardy: I had, obviously, answered this in a variety different ways. Number one is — I had to define it for the magazine — “What’s our brand statement? How do we, as a brand SUCCESS, define success?” Our answer was that it was “being successful in five areas: business, finance, relationships, health and then contribution, making a difference; doing something that makes a positive contribution.” So, that was the definition of success.

But I really had an epiphany when I interviewed Maria Shriver who, at the time, was the first lady of California. Her father is Sargent Shriver who started the Peace Corps and Job Corps… Her mother started the Special Olympics. She’s one of the Kennedys—she’s from — If there was such a thing as American Royalty, she comes from American Royalty. They all have been world-changing, prominent leaders. So, I asked her how does she defined success, thinking that it was—to make a difference in the world and get back to humanity; be part of this great cause and have this great mission. She said she first had that… that she thought that’s what she needed to do to be successful. And she said she realized that that wasn’t her definition of “success”; that was her parents’ definition. That her definition was—she wanted to be there for her mother in her final years; she wanted to be a great daughter; she wanted to be a great mother; she wanted to be the kind of friend to her girlfriends that she wants in a friend; she wanted to be a great person to her close circle. It changed her life because she stopped living the definition of her parents; she started living the definition of her own.

I remember when I drove home from that interview I said, “What is my definition of success?” I don’t think I’ve ever defined it for myself because it was like… frustrated—I should be doing more; I should be accomplishing more; I need to be going and running a several hundred million dollars company; feeling anxious… Then I wrote down my definition and the definition, after I looked back at it, was like, “Wow! I’m really living most of that right now… 90% of everything I’ve had described is my life right now.”

So, it did a couple of things. One is—it allowed me to settle in to appreciate all that I had without thinking I needed to be doing more. Secondly, it made me take the 10% part that I didn’t really like and eliminate it; and then take the parts that I liked and go deeper on them. So, I realized that I really liked things that are high quality; that are simple. I don’t like a lot — I remember I learned this when I spent time with Richard Branson. The guy likes complexity. He likes having a lot of “balls in the air”; he’s ADHD; he’s a dynamic guy—400 companies—and he’s got 125 lawsuits pending at any one time. That would drive me crazy. I realized at that moment, “Wow! I’m not like you. I don’t like and thrive on complexity. I actually like and thrive on simplicity. Doing a few things really well, with great quality and great care, brings me more fulfillment and joy and…”

David Laroche: Maybe more like Steve Jobs…

Darren Hardy: Yes, more like that, exactly. That’s a great difference between the two of them—Branson likes to do a lot of things and Jobs likes to do a few things…

David Laroche: Very well…

Darren Hardy: … very, very well, yes. And I definitely relate more personally, in terms of my own internal mechanics, to Jobs’ style than Branson’s; although I admire and respect, and revere Branson, and think it’s incredible that he can thrive on that kind of dynamic complexity. But I’m best doing a few things really, really well.

David Laroche: So, what we have to learn is that you have to learn yourself; you have to discover yourself, right?

Darren Hardy: You have to define success — you’ve got to discover yourself — you have to define success for you; make sure that you’re living the life of your choice and not the life of your parents’ choice…

David Laroche: Yes, it’s great. I love that.

Darren Hardy: … or society’s choice—what is society saying you should be in order to be successful…

David Laroche: … with a big house…

Darren Hardy: Right, exactly. Is that really — when you break it all down — really what’s important to you; that you really find joy; that you really get self-fulfillment from or is it something else? And don’t make it—it has to be something that you were taught or other people around you have, or your peers. What is the definition of success for you? And then what’s your personality type? Do you like complexity or do you like simplicity? Do you like to do things—“you throw a lot of things against the wall and see what sticks” or do you like to do a few things that you try to deepen, make great and so forth.

David Laroche: You said something very inspiring for me. You said that success for you is not only to focus on what you will have next, but also to be happy in this moment. I have this kind of struggle—I’m very committed to improve myself. Like you did, I’m persistent; but sometimes and often I’m not so happy. I’m very good to reach my goals. How can people like me, how can we learn to appreciate this moment and not only the next moment?

David Laroche: It’s what’s called the “achievement gap” and it’s an insidious disease and I suffered from it, as well. You have to fight it off daily. The achievement-addiction gap is this—that, “I’ll be happy when I accomplish that.” And then when you accomplish that, you’re dissatisfied again and you say, “I’ll be happy when…” And when you realize that when you do get there and it doesn’t make you happy at all, it only perpetuates, because it becomes insidious; it’s like a tailspin. Nothing’s ever enough. We’ve seen a lot of very famous people suffer from this. Elvis Presley was one; Marilyn Monroe was one; James Dean was one — a lot of these people who had everything… continual success. But each time they got, they realized that didn’t make them happy. They thought that would make them happy, but it didn’t make them happy. They only doubled down and doubled down, and doubled down until they self-destroyed. So, it’s insidious — you’ve got to be very, very cognizant and careful about it — is to stop and try to appreciate what’s great right now; what is amazing and wonderful, and just take it in and have a moment when it’s like…

I tell you when it happened for me, okay?

David Laroche: Yes.

Darren Hardy: So, right here… just up the beach here—it’s called La Jolla Shores. So, I’m walking on the beach with my wife and — you’ll notice the houses that go up on the hill here. So, we’re walking on the beach and I’m looking up at the houses going, “Wow! If I could have any of those houses, which one would I want? I like that one there, but this one’s got that great balcony. Oh, the view from this one’s…” And then I’m getting myself mad; it’s like “I need to have one of those houses. Why don’t I have that? Why am I not doing something big enough? I should be doing something bigger. I need to have one of those houses.” And my wife squeezes my hand and goes, “Hey, look, the sun’s setting and look how the light just dazzles off the water.” And I look at it and go, “I was going to miss the whole sunset. This whole time of walking on the beach, hand in hand with my wife, the sun is setting, this majestic view is happening up here, and I’m getting myself worked up into a tizzy, looking up at these houses on the hill.”

And I remember walking a little bit further, after a few moments of silence, and said to her — I stopped her and I said, “You know, sometimes I just want to not want; I just want to not want.” And that’s when I realized that I have to stop and appreciate what’s happening right in front of me; where I have gotten; what is amazing about life, not even what I’ve accumulated or what successes I’ve accumulated, but what is just amazing about life right now? What’s great? So I do it every morning. I have to make it a discipline. I have to force it in, because, again, I was raised by a father, a single father, who—the way you got love was to achieve. I got that achievement addiction. But every morning when the alarm first goes off I set it for “snooze” and then — on my iPhone you’ve got 9 minutes on “snooze” (I don’t know why 9 minutes, but that’s what Steve Jobs programmed) — and for 9 minutes I just think about what’s great about my life right now—who do I appreciate; who do I love; what am I looking forward to in the day ahead? It’s just a moment to take it all in; to have a moment of gratitude. It also attunes your mind’s eye, your perspective, to go out in the world and look for what’s positive and good rather than what’s negative and scares. So, you’re, sort of, attuning your reticular activating system to look for the things that are positive and abundant rather than scares and missing.

That’s also part of that contemplation. And every once in a while I just — and I’m not like… I don’t like New Age, airy-fairy like “you just need to go around and… happiness all the time…” But just having a sense of gratitude; just stopping and going, “Wow! This is…” I look out the window here — I was waiting for you in the lobby and I was looking out to the ocean; they’re starting to play the music and it’s like “Ahh…” Just a moment, just like, “Wow, this is great! This is something!”

David Laroche: Yes. It’s great. You are giving me a huge gift; maybe more powerful than everything about success, because I will try and I will succeed … but I have to learn that. And I take a commitment to you. I will pray that every day for 30 days; 9 minutes, every day for 30 days. I want to learn that.

Darren Hardy: Here’s the thing. It will help you to be more successful. It will help you to be more successful, because — without getting too deep into it — when you are pursuing something to make yourself happy, you’re operating in a place of lack and it’s that “chasing butterflies”. Whereas, if you are operating from a place of abundance or gratitude, your ability to actually perpetuate that is far greater. And then the second part of that is you’re also attuning your mind to look for, in the environment around you, when you get up, what is abundant and what is prosperous, and what is good. When you think about what is abundant, what is prosperous and what is good already — because your mind looks for… to validate its own thoughts, which is the reason why as a man I think of “Think and Grow Rich”, “The Power of Positive Thinking”; because like-thoughts attract and see in the environment other alike to match it; to validate it. So, if you get up thinking about what’s already great; what’s already amazing; who’s already amazing…

David Laroche: You attract good things.

Darren Hardy: … then you start seeing it around you throughout the day, but you have to attune yourself to your mind (your unconscious mind) to look for. It’s great; it’s a gift. You will feel more gratitude; you will feel more abundance, but it will actually help you become more successful.

David Laroche: Right, I love that. Do you have some life lessons you would like to share (to use)?

Darren Hardy: What do you mean?

David Laroche: Life lessons—something you learned; maybe one thing to share; to use.

Darren Hardy: Again, I would just say that the most powerful — There are three major influences in your life and they will dictate the outcomes of your whole life (these three influences). One is the “input” that you put in your ears and in front of your eyes; what you expose yourself to. If you put negative, fearful, scandalous news, sensational crap in your ears and in front of your eyes (you consume lots of news), that will influence, just as we talked about. You’ll start looking around in your environment at things that match up with that negativity, with that fear, with that danger. So, you will start seeing it; you will start creating it. The input that you allow and that you feed yourself with is the number one great influence. You want to feed your mind with what’s positive, proactively; to go out off your way. Negativity will beat the path to your door. You don’t have to go looking for; it will come to you. It’s around you all the time. But you have to go out and look for, and buy, and feed what’s positive. So, number one—you want to feed and number two—you want to protect. You want to protect yourself from the negative input as much as you can. I don’t read a newspaper; I don’t listen to news radio; I don’t watch news on TV, ever. I just don’t, because I’ll find out what I need to know about the world, and I’ll find out what I need to know about my goals and my ambitions by selecting channels — RSS feeds and news feeds — to the things that matter to me. The rest of it I just keep myself away from.

One is “input”. The second and maybe even the more unknowing, but significant influence, are “your associations”; the people you surround yourself by, right? As my mentor, Jim Rohn, said, “You will become the combined average of the five people you hang around the most. You’ll have the combined average income, the combined average health, the combined average relationships, because you’ll talk about what they talk about; you’ll read what they read; you’ll go to the movies they go to; you’ll eat at the restaurants they eat at; you’ll order what they order; you’ll drink what they drink and you’ll become the combined average.” David McClelland of Harvard University said, “The most significant factor to determining your success or failure in life are the reference points—the relationships that you have as your reference point.”

So, two is “associations” and then three is “your environment”. Do you create an environment that supports you being a high-performing achiever or does the environment pull you down; hold you back? Does it support what’s inspiring and what’s uplifting or does it detract from that? Your environment is also a very significant influence in subtle ways, simple ways like — if you are trying to lose weight and you eat off of the big plate, start eating off the smaller plate—you’ll eat less… just by a smaller fork… My sister-in-law, for Christmas, gave me this giant coffee mug, giant. It was crazy. You put flowers in it; it’s like a vase. So, I started using it and I started drinking a lot more coffee. Why?

David Laroche: Now you have just…?

Darren Hardy: Yes. I just… I started using a smaller cup; I drink less coffee. I’m not any less happy or satisfied, but just your environment creates clues for you. It either supports or it detracts. So—“input”, “associations” and “environment”. If you want to change your trajectory in life; if you want to change where you’re going or what’s possible for you, change what information you’re subjecting yourself to; change or improve your associations and change or upgrade or improve your environment and most of the rest of it will take care of itself.

David Laroche: Yes, it’s right. Two questions for you about education and I come back for my last questions. It was great; I love that. Do you want your … It’s for you.

Darren Hardy: Yes, that’s…

David Laroche: I’ll ask you for a bigger …

Darren Hardy: Thank you.

[Julie’s intervention from [00:54:19.0] to [01:06:41.9]]

Julie: So, I’m doing a panel on education. I ask these questions to hundreds of people to see what comes up from “collective intelligence”. My question…

Darren Hardy: You’re doing it for what? What are you doing this for?

Julie: It’s more for me… I’m doing a baby step to know what comes up from the “collective intelligence” as an answer to the question that I will ask you.

Darren Hardy: Okay, go ahead.

Julie: According to you how could we improve education?

Darren Hardy: It needs to completely change. I mean, our education system was modeled and created in an industrial age where people were being trained to become employees in an environment where there is this hierarchy of management, and people were taught to do very narrow, repetitive tasks, over and over. Industrialization’s gone. We’re now in a — technology has disrupted the global economy for ever. Industrial age — economy was about controls and few people controlled the important assets, like: capital, resources and distribution, information, knowledge. But even they controlled TV waves, the radio waves; they controlled the shelves. It used to be—if you could get your product on a shelf, then you had access on the marketplace. If you can get your ad on TV; if you can get your ad in the newspaper (and there were only a few newspapers), you could control the market. That’s gone. Technology has eliminated it all that, because every single person on the planet is directly connected to every person on the planet. So, you have now a global marketplace at your fingertips. Any 18 year old, in a second bedroom or a basement, has access to a global marketplace. Now you are a new competitor. They have access to the supply chains of the world; they have access to the capital of the world which is now crowd-sourced; they have access to the education of the world which is now freely abundant and available from around the world, free.

So, in order for education to be relevant it has to change as dramatically as our entire technology infrastructure has changed, because there is a completely new way of doing every aspect of our life. I’ll put it this way. In America in the ‘60s — John F. Kennedy was the President — a computer used to take up an entire building. Today this device that’s in my pocket, costs a million times less. That computer in the ‘60s was 60 million dollars. This costs a million times less; has a thousand times more computing power than that entire computer did in the ‘60s. And today a child in Africa, with a cell phone, has more communication reach and power than Ronald Reagan did, the President of the United States; than the Pentagon did in 1980. That’s game-changing; that changes everything. And education has changed since 1980.

Julie: Yes.

Darren Hardy: So, what needs to happen with education? It needs to go through a complete overhaul. It is still “industrial-age mechanics”; it is still trying to educate workers for an era that died. It’s over. Specifically, it needs to be answered by people a lot smarter about education than me, but the process that is continuing isn’t working.

Julie: Yes. It’s a great answer. Thank you. I guess, lots of people — when you say that we should have a big change; that we don’t do it because we can be fearful of what could happen, because it’s like having no view. Do you have an idea how to overcome the fear of the unknown?

Darren Hardy: Well, I think it’s in the power of entrepreneurs. I think that education is changing underneath the system. It doesn’t look like university school-certified education, but knowledge is knowledge; education is education; whether it is done under the bureaucracy of an established system or it is giving and providing, and delivering access in other forms, in other ways. It is happening and it will continue to happen.

The great thing about the human spirit and the human will is—it’s relentless and people have… they will find a way. It will happen and what will end up happening is that there will be… the existing system will entirely be displaced. It’s kind of like what happened with — I don’t know if you, guys, have this — Blockbuster video; they used to rent video tapes. Then Netflix came in and just changed the game, out of nowhere, and Blockbuster doesn’t exist anymore; it just has gone. I think there is a significant part of the existing educational system that will just be gone 10-20 years from now, because it will have been replaced through other means of accessing and delivering knowledge that is more relevant and current for what people need. I think that we will also see a move towards more and more entrepreneurship, where people will become self-responsible for their income. They don’t have to go get an education so that they could get a job. Jobs will not be seen as we know of jobs. People will be, sort of, independent contractors. They will work for organizations, but they will have far more flexibility, freedom and they might work for 2 or 3 employers at the same time, like a contractor does. I think we will see a redefined workforce which will require a redefined educational delivery system, and what we know as jobs, and what we know as existing education, it will be displaced.

Julie: Yes, I think so. Thank you very much. My second question is about your vision of the world. According to you, what could be the three actions human beings could do to make this world a better place to live?

Darren Hardy: I am a board member to an organization called “Invisible Children”. They are very — it’s a youth-led organization and they are advocates for global justice. It’s everybody taking responsibility, not just for their own self-interest, or their own family, or their own neighborhood, or their own state, or their own country; but taking responsibility for what’s happening on a global scale; that certain injustices should not be tolerated anymore. I think we’re seeing a lot of that taking place through the ability to access information. Social media is becoming a powerful force for mobilizing people. The power of evil or negativity is—“control of access to information”. When that becomes exposed, hopefully the heart and humanity of enough people will make it impossible for people to get away with wrong doing in the world; that they will be brought to justice; that they will be held accountable for their negative actions. My wish is just people to start participating in more of taking responsibility, and it’s not like “us vs. them”.

The way I see humanity is—whatever you see happening in the world there is a part of you that is possible… that has that in you. If you see genocide; you see rape; you see murder; you see acts of terrorism; the capability of doing that is inside you, as well. Don’t judge somebody else or something else like, “that’s…” Like my mentor, Jim Rohn, said, “Inside each of us is a great force of light and a great force of darkness.” And he said, “Your job is to try to expand the light, expand the goodness in you as big as possible, and drive the darkness in you, drive the evil part of you down to the smallest corner possible.” But no, we’re all capable of any atrocity that you see in the world, so stop making it about “our country vs. your country”, “my sports team vs. your sports team”. We’re humanity; we’re species; we’re all a single organism and if we support and take care of our organism as we would take care of our whole body — it’s like, “Well, that’s my toe; I’m not going to — the toe’s on its own — I’m not going to do anything to support that toe.” No, it’s part of me; it’s part of my organism. I have to take care of my toe so that the rest of me doesn’t end up dying. That’s the way we should all look at all people—it’s all part of the same organism, and we need to do a better job taking care of everybody for each of us.

Julie: Thank you very much. It’s great.

Darren Hardy: Good.

David Laroche: Great.

Darren Hardy: All right, we are done?

David Laroche: No, I have a funny question for you. I have to explain before I ask you that. I ask that to everyone. My question will be—how to become unsuccessful, how to become unhappy, how to become a loser (we can say that). Do you understand? You just have to say the opposite of what we said before, because I believe a lot in the power of — if people listen to what they are doing and they don’t want to become losers, they will maybe stop; they will remember that.

Are you ready? So, Darren I have a serious question for you. You know, I would like to help people to become losers and I would like to try the answer that you would give me. Do you have any advice on how to become a loser?

Darren Hardy: Yes, sure. Just read what everybody read; watch what everybody watches; eat what everybody else eats; go to the places that everybody else goes to, because the general outcome of the average is a loser outcome, right? So, if you want to be a loser, just do what everybody else does; just follow the herd, right? What’s the most popular restaurant in the world? McDonald’s. Eat at McDonald’s, if you want to be a loser, right? What do people read? They read “People” magazine or “The National Enquirer.” If you want to be a loser, read those things. What TV shows do most people watch? If you want to be a loser, watch those TV shows.

David Laroche: It’s great. So, it’s easy.

Darren Hardy: It’s very. I would find it very difficult to read those things and to eat those things, but for most people, I think, it’s the path of least resistance. Yes. Just do what everybody else does.

David Laroche: And I have to be consistent in doing that.

Darren Hardy: You have to be consistent. You have to stay disciplined and being lazy. You also should blame the Government.

David Laroche: It’s important.

Darren Hardy: Yes, blame the Government. If you happen to spill coffee, hot coffee, on your crotch, you should sue the restaurant that sold you that coffee, because…

David Laroche: It’s not your responsibility.

Darren Hardy: It’s obviously their fault, yes. Your parents screwed you up; it’s unfixable. Just realize that…

David Laroche: I have a last idea; I would like to have your opinion. I would like to make a magazine called “Failure”; “Losers”. What do you think about that? To become a loser—it could be a great idea.

Darren Hardy: There already is one—it’s called “People” magazine or “Us Weekly” or… Yes, it’s very crowded space that particularly…

David Laroche: It was great. It was my last question with me. I have a last question without me. It is a short video. No, you didn’t see it with Seth Godin. Can you just turn for the light; it will be higher quality video (if you have the light).

Darren Hardy: Here’s the…

David Laroche: It’s the part of the game. The question will be—what could be the key factors of success? We can start when you’re ready.

Darren Hardy: So, what is the…?

David Laroche: The question? According to you, what could be the key factors of success? And it will be a separated video. The goal is to do less than two minutes, okay?

Darre n Hardy: Okay, but it could be something we’ve already talked about?

David Laroche: Yes. It will be another video, not this interview. I believe a lot in this kind of video; it will be more viral. Are you ready? Okay, let’s start.

David Laroche: So, Darren, what could be the key factors of success? (And you look at the cam recorder).

Darren Hardy: I would say… in order to be successful, the few things I would focus on are—what information are you surrounding yourself with, on a day to day basis? Is it negative; is it sensational news media; is it fearful; is it constant reinforcement of all the negative and scandalous, and dangerous, and awful things happening in the world? Or is it information about what’s possible? Is it about prosperity? Is it about abundance? Are you seeing examples of people doing great things, overcoming great obstacles and achieving great things in spite of difficulties, because, that’s essentially — it’s like the adage “what you point your eyes towards is the direction of your life will go.” When I interviewed Mario Andretti I asked him the question that says, “What’s the number one key to being a successful race car driver?” And he said, “Don’t look at the wall.” I said, “Why?” He said, “Because your car will go in the direction you point your eyes.” So, you want to point your life in the direction of your eyes. You want to be sure that you’re putting your eyes in front of what’s positive and what’s possible.

The other one is the associations you surround yourself with. The people you spend most time with—they will become the combined average of your outcomes in life, right? Because you’ll talk about what they talk about; you’ll read what they read; you’ll go to the movies they go to; you’ll eat at the restaurants they eat at; you’ll order what they order; you’ll drink what they drink and ultimately you’ll become the combined average of the five of them. So, I would say your associations are crucial to determining your outcomes in life.

And last is your environment. How do you surround yourself? Do you prepare your environment for success, for great outcomes, for what’s possible? Do you set yourself to be a world-class performer? Your environment is going to dictate a lot of that. Those would be some of my most viable inputs of how you can prepare yourself for greatness, for great success.

David Laroche: Great. I would love to have your (what do you think about David Laroche?) testimonial. Do you prefer I ask you something or I can let you say something?

Darren Hardy: What do you mean?

David Laroche: I would love to have a testimonial from you. My name is David Laroche. So, do you prefer I ask you something or I can let you say something about me? And what do you think about me?

Darren Hardy: Well, I don’t know you.

David Laroche: Yes, but we were one hour together. Just about what you think now; what you feel.

Darren Hardy: What I could say about David Laroche is that he’s a persistent guy and as a result of his persistency — is the reason is why I’m sitting here talking to you in this camera. So, the one attribute that I see in all great achievers is the unrelenting persistence and David definitely has that.

David Laroche: Great! I love that.

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