Welcome to the Join Up Dots business coaching podcast interview with Curt Mercadante
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Introducing Curt Mercandante
Curt Mercadante is an international speaker, coach, trainer and disruptive entrepreneur whose mission is to save the world by helping people fight for lives of freedom and fulfilment.
And one thing for sure his life looks very different from what it once did.
Back in the day he was a man on a mission to create success in the manner that the world said was success.
He was in the midst of running an extremely successful public relations/advertising agency and landing one big client after another.
You move around a lot in that walk of life.
Regular flights to catch meetings…conference calls and follow-ups…managing the collective anxieties of a demanding clientele base.
His family was growing and so was his bank account.
Mercadante did what he could to embrace the little moments that matter whenever they cascaded into view, but he also had to contend with the next thing: the next meeting, the next fire to put out, the next brand to promote.
How The Dots Joined Up For Curt
A carousel ride that continued in seeming perpetuity, Mercadante was satisfied with the growth of his business — because, why wouldn’t he have been? — though he couldn’t help but feel that there was something missing from the rush a surging career is supposed to offer.
Then he remembered what a superhero looks like and his life changed forever.
Curt’s speeches and training empower individuals to live their Freedom Lifestyle, and he also hosts the popular Freedom Club Podcast.
Raised in the Chicago area, he and his wife, Julie, now live in Charleston, South Carolina, with their four children, when they aren’t travelling the world.
Curt is a die-hard fan of the White Sox, a superhero nerd, and can frequently be found at his local boxing gym.
So does he find the more he gets “the route to freedom” the more he actually doesn’t want to do anything much either?
And why does he feel this method is so powerful for his clients, that are always rushing, when we know that slow and steady wins the day
Well let’s bring onto the show to start joining up dots, as we discuss the words of Steve Jobs in today’s free podcast, with the one and only Mr Curt Mercadante
During the show we discussed such weighty topics with Curt Mercadante such as:
Why the “hustle porn” is such a big part of the online entrepreneur world nowadays (which is so seducing to buy into)
Curt discussed the harrowing cancer battle his father went through, and the change it brought into his life.
We discuss why the fight in people is such a rare skill to see from so many people nowadays. They have things too easy.
Why the key is to clearly define your life’s outcomes, and then go and go and re-engineer the hell out of it.
How life is there to be lived and yes, it will be scary, yes it will be hard, but what is the alternative? Not living at all!
How To Connect With Curt Mercadante
You can also check our extensive podcast archive by clicking here – enjoy
Audio Transcription Of Curt Mercadante Interview
When we’re young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be. But somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling. Join Up Dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here’s your host live from the back of his garden in the UK. David Ralph.
David Ralph [0:25]
Yes, good morning to you. Good afternoon or whatever time you’re listening to this show. Thank you so much for being here. This is David Ralph. So that must mean it’s Join Up Dots and it must mean but we’ve got another episode. Is it going to be a solo show isn’t going to be an interview? Well, today it’s going to be an interview and not just an interview. Oh no. Today’s guest is an international speaker is a coach, a trainer and a disruptive entrepreneur whose mission is to save the world by helping people fight for the lives of freedom and fulfilment. And one thing for sure, he’s life looks very different from what it once did. Back in the he was a man on a mission to create success in the manner that the world said was success. He was in the midst of running an extremely successful public relations advertising agency and landing one big client after another you move around a lot in that walk of life, regular flights to catch meetings, conference calls and follow ups, managing the collective anxieties have a demanding clientele base. Now his family was growing too and so was his bank account, and he did what he could to embrace the little moments that matter whenever they cascaded interview, but he also had to contend with the next thing. The next meeting the next buyer to put out by next brand to promote a carousel ride about continued Inserm seeming perpetual T. He was satisfied with the growth of his business because why wouldn’t he have been but he couldn’t help but feel that there was something missing from the rush searching career is supposed to offer. Many remembered what a superhero looks like and his life changed forever. He’s speeches and training impact individuals to live their freedom lifestyle, and he also hosts the popular freedom club podcast. Now he was raised in the Chicago area and he and his wife Julie now live in Charleston, South Carolina, with their four children when they aren’t travelling the world. He’s a diehard fan of the White Sox, a superhero nerd and can frequently be found at his local boxing gym. So does he find the more he gets the route to freedom for him and his clients, the more he actually doesn’t want to do anything much either. And why does he feel this method is so powerful for his clients that are always rushing, when we know that slow and steady actually wins today? Well, let’s bring on to the show to start Join Up Dots with the one and only Mr. Curt Mercadante. Good morning. How are you sir?
Curt Mercadante [2:47]
I am doing fantastic. Thanks for having me on the show.
David Ralph [2:50]
Its great to have you on the show. You know I was panicking about your name all the way through. And I got a word perpetuity and I couldn’t do it. It was to me was too exotic for my brain to cope with. Where’s your Where’s your name from where where does Mercadante from?
Curt Mercadante [3:08]
Well, it is an Italian name. We think at one point it was Spanish but if you go to pool Yeah, the Apulia region of Italy. There is you find the market Dante forest, the market Dante theatre market, Dante Street, there’s a market on a street in Rome and severe Aereo market Dante was actually a famous Italian composer in the 1800s. So Maria, Dante sounds very exotic, and then you go to Southern Italy, and everyone’s like, Oh, yeah, of course.
David Ralph [3:36]
It’s always the way isn’t it where those Italians I can make anything sound exotic, but they are, but but they get heavy backs as well, which isn’t a good thing. That’s the that’s the thing that draws in Italian bear. So so we all live, I’m going to get straight to it. Because I’m big on this at the moment, because I’m very aware, I’ve been driving around America for five weeks, having a lovely time. And I’ve come back with all the enthusiasm of a slug. I think tomorrow self, I can’t be bothered, I just can’t be bothered. Do you find that that the more that you see that the Promised Land of non Chase, but optimum performance actually leaves you to going Actually, I’m quite happy to sit in the underpants watching Netflix, I can’t be bothered.
Curt Mercadante [4:17]
You know, I think you know, when you say optimum performance, I think the mistake is thinking what most people think that to achieve optimum performance, you got to grind yourself into the ground. And a lot of people I do some productivity trainings, and they say, Oh, I just feel so bad. I’m so mad at myself. Because I’ve been lazy, I could actually make the case that a lazy person is more apt to be productive. Yeah, hard charging, like high achiever, right? Because what we often do and those people do is they fit for two hours of work into a 14 hour day.
David Ralph [4:50]
Now there was a phrase, I’m trying to think who said it, but if I want something done, I’m going to find a lazy person. I don’t know who said that. But it’s somewhere in my mind. And it’s true, it’s because they will find the fast track, they will find the 8020 to get that job done.
Curt Mercadante [5:07]
Yeah, no, I, you know, I was on an online QA earlier this year, and I talked about what I call becoming radically outcomes focused, where you find the shortest straight is simplest line to your outcome. You know, it’s like humans develop the lever, right, or the lever, as you probably call it. So that, you know, no longer did 1000 villagers have to go out to lift the Boulder, like four dudes could go out with a lever and lift the Boulder. Like, that’s true productivity. But if you listen to I like to call them the hustle and grind pornographers out there, some of them that podcast books, videos, and it’s all about the grind, and you got I’ll sleep when I’m dead. And that’s how optimal performance that’s when you find that there’s people who really think productivity is getting 1000 villagers out there instead of using the lever. And so it’s easy to think that so I was on this online q amp a and I was talking about this. And the person said, well, you’re only working that many hours a day. Do you just waste away on your couch for the rest of the day? And I said, why would you think that? How many hours a day do you actually work like outcomes focused work? And we went back and forth. And it became like three, I said, Well, how many hours in the office? He said, eight or nine hours? I said, Why? Why are you doing that. And it came down to his dad told him that a man is supposed to work eight hours a day. So because of that thing that his dad told him, he sits around wasting five or six hours a day. And he said, Well, what am I supposed to do with the rest of my time? And I said, Do you really think that I sit around on my couch wasting away? My days are full. But I’m not busy. There’s a difference. A lot of people use busy as a badge of honour on so busy, I can’t do this meeting. Sorry, I see people put on Facebook, sorry, I can’t take your calls this week. I’m so busy. And they’re so proud of themselves. And really what they’ve done is they’ve made bad choices that make them that turn them into a victim of busy whereas if they made smart choices, Listen, my day is absolutely jam packed full. It’s not full of work. It’s full of things I want to do things I know will lead to my outcomes. And then it’s full of things that fulfil me. So there’s things for work. There’s self care, and there’s things with my family. It seems obvious, doesn’t it when
David Ralph [7:13]
when you say that, I think most of us have been through that journey. And you go back six years on Join Up Dots. I was all about hustle muscle is literally all I spoke about that you know, you’re going to do 20 hours a day. And if you want it, you gotta get out there and do it. And I came to a sticky in twice because of it. And now if you hear somebody like I’m Gary Viner, Chuck, he actually says, Look, I’m not all about hustle, I’m being pushed into the hustle market, but I’ve moved on, he’s actually sort of changing his tag to say that, you know, the tortoise beat the hair. And you know, that’s a storey that we all remember as a kid. But you take it slow and steady win the day.
Curt Mercadante [7:55]
Yeah, it’s First of all, I gotta ask you, I’ve never heard the term I’ve come to the sticky
David Ralph [8:01]
is deeply pornographic in the United Kingdom. No, it’s not. It’s just I don’t know where it comes from. Yeah, it’s a United Kingdom thing that yeah, if you come to a sticky end, it means it’s not a good place. It’s, um, it’s, yeah, it could be a very good place in adult terms. But in what I’m talking about, it’s not a good place.
Curt Mercadante [8:21]
I want to the other day, I talked to Pete down on my team. He’s from the UK. And I said, Yeah, let’s swing for the fences. And then after I said it, I realised that’s a baseball term. I wonder if he knows what the hell I’m talking about.
David Ralph [8:33]
Somebody suicide over here.
Unknown Speaker [8:35]
Curt Mercadante [8:38]
So I digress. Yeah, no, it’s, it’s it’s hard to understand in many cases, unless you’ve been through it unless you’ve seen and come to the sticky end, in many cases, right. I mean, I, you know, I built my PR and ad agency, I started it when I was in my 20s. Because I’d always wanted to work for myself. And when I first came out, I, my wife was pregnant with our first child, and I had four clients off the get go. And what I learned was, you know, first of all, one of the reasons I was so frustrated in the corporate nine to five was the amount of time that was wasted. And so I’d sit around twiddling my thumbs, and I felt useless. The fact of the matter is, I was productive. But because you had to sit there in the office for the rest of the day, I felt useless. I found that I was a very efficient worker, and I would get a lot of my work done by like 11 o’clock or noon. And instead of then getting up away from the computer, spending time with my pregnant wife doing things that fulfil me go to the gym, other people would say things like, oh, must be nice. Oh, you’re not working very hard. They would say things like that. And then I, I still had that nine to five bs mentality that focuses on inputs instead of outcomes. And I said, Well, okay, well, I need to be judged. And the success of a business person or anyone is judged by on the amount of hours they work. So I’m going to create more work for the rest of the day, which I did not just until five, but into the night. And I kept doing that for five years, and I kept getting more clients, and clients would offer me money, and I would take the money, it wasn’t enough money for what they, they the value I was giving them because I was like, hey, they’re throwing money at me. I’m going to take it, I don’t care how much time they want me to work. And five years into it, I wanted to give it up. I worked from home. But I still didn’t see my wife and kids. I go on. Did
David Ralph [10:21]
you know what? I’m going to jump in there? Did your wife not say Kurt? Kurt? You know, I’m never gonna get a chance get a second child here. Your work all the time?
Curt Mercadante [10:31]
Yeah, well, we kept having children, and I still wouldn’t see them and and she saw it going on. But you know, you kind of fall into this trap of All right, we’re in our 30s. That’s what you gotta do. That’s what you have to do. When you build a business. That’s the way it is. And someday, someday, you’ll find the life at the end of the tunnel, and you start using that term work life balance. Well, it’ll balance out the week of not seeing anyone will balance out for those three hours on Saturday when I see everyone or, you know, a lot of people turn the work life balance is like, Okay, I’m working part of this project, I’m going to put my head down, I’m going to eat shit for two weeks, I’m going to not see my wife not see my kids. I’m not going to practice self care and all that. But at the end of two weeks, and I’ll come home early, and then maybe I’ll see the kids. And even if that happens, the two weeks turns into months turns into years turns uh, you know what, when I retire at 65, my goodness, that’s when the good life is going to begin. And you know what happens people on that 65 year plan, just in my family, stroke, heart attack, knee replacements, the list goes on and on. I had a guy on my podcast named pretty much saying God, he said his dad was on that 65 year plan at 64 and a half, they owned an orchard or an apple orchard up in Canada, he dropped dead. And his dream was to make it to 65. So a lot of people live that way. I believe that’s where you had to live. My wife believed it and five years into it, I was going to give it up. I’m going to get a nine to five. And I got a business strategist. I came upon the gallop Strengths Finder programme, which was focused on your strengths have clients that allows you to work within your strength zone instead of your weaknesses, own delegate, outsource your strength. I started doing that I actually fired half my clients. You don’t happen. I built some freedom. And the next year, then I took my income over seven figures. And people are like you fired half your clients. And then you took Yeah, because I had more time to give more time more quality time to clients who valued me, which means I charged the more I gained that freedom. But then a few years later, my dad died. My dad worked on the Space Programme, designed fighter jets led the team that built all the lights that built all the electronic switches on the Boeing 777.
David Ralph [12:38]
I’m actually going to start with you here. I’m going to stop you here only because I went over to your about page. And I will say to people go over to Kurt’s about page it’s on little in. It’s on the show notes at the end. And I read that storey I got really choked up. I almost burst into tears by listening to and it was that one phrase but you’re that had cancer. And it was like cancer in him stopped battling each other. And they wore each other out. That was so profound. Did you actually write that yourself? Or did somebody write that because that about page was like a little book that sucks me in and I found a huge the moving like no other About Page of red?
Curt Mercadante [13:21]
Well, I appreciate it. Yeah, I did write that. And he you know, he was a fighter his entire life. He was a fighter. And then at some point, it was interesting. I was Thanksgiving. And it was Thanksgiving morning and we had the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on and I called on we were in South Carolina and I called home, my parents house. And he said, You know great news this week, the doctor said I’m cancer free. Oh my gosh. And he had been given like six months. He had big tumour. And he had fought prostate cancer. Before that. We kept fighting, fighting, fighting, shows to keep fighting. got extra time left for two years past it. They said six months. I’m cancer free. He told me oh my gosh, that’s great news. That was Thursday. So three or three days later, four days later, went to the hospital for the last time. He was cancer free. But what we didn’t know was all the radiation, all the chemo all the fighting, shut his kidneys down. And so he went in on Sunday in great pain, drove back I got there on Wednesday, they were putting him on morphine basically into a coma palliative care to to ease his pain as he drifted away. And I got there. And he was a big Notre Dame fan, University of Notre Dame. And he went there and Notre Dame had just gone. It was interesting. My dad was born in 1929, the year Notre Dame went undefeated. They had just gone undefeated in the regular season. that week. And I said that he said it’s not over yet. And it was interesting to me. It didn’t just mean Yeah, Notre Dame had to go and play for the national championship. It meant that he wasn’t done fighting. And he wasn’t, it was another four or five days that he held on and fought in a coma before he passed away. And
David Ralph [15:10]
well, what do you think he was fighting for? You know, because a lot of people would just give up at that stage. Why? Why was he just going to the end,
Curt Mercadante [15:20]
he wanted to make sure that my mom was well taken care of, you know, he, my dad was never great with money. He had good paying jobs. But he spent a lot of it. And in his final years, you know, at age 55, he found himself out of work. This was the early 80s. And instead of saying, Well, I’m just going to sit here and take a government check. I’m going to sit here and feel bad for myself. He got a job delivering newspapers. 55 years old, he had been president of like fortune 500 companies and he wake me up. I was like nine years old at the time, he’d wake me up at four in the morning, three in the morning, whatever. And we going back these newspapers and deliver him until he finally realised I’m done doing this reinvented himself one to have a career, but he had to work till he was like 75 years old, almost 80 years old. To save enough money, he wanted to make sure my mom was okay. He wanted to make sure we were okay. There was some other things going on in the family arguments, he wanted to make sure some of those were taken care of, before he passed away, because he was larger than life. He kept everything together and everyone together. And so I think he was really fighting for that his granddaughter, my niece was getting married, he hung on long enough to see that happen. And so I think he just was fighting for that. And a lot of that stuff took care of itself. And then it was finally time for him to let go. And, you know, you’d never been in the hospital until like a first 83 years of his life for 81 years of his life and ever been in the hospital. And then he lived in the hospital basically off and on from 81 to 8382 83.
David Ralph [16:52]
He’s Interesting, isn’t it? why some people have so much fight? You know, I was just having a conversation with a guy who’s probably being made live on Join Up Dots. When he was saying, you know, you can start a business in a month. Why don’t you just give it a go for a month, but he knows that, you know, 75% of people won’t. They just sort of float along. They haven’t got that fight for not even live but success or anything.
Unknown Speaker [17:18]
You know, it’s a
Curt Mercadante [17:21]
I don’t know if it’s a growing, you know, back in my dad grew up and was born and then went through the Great Depression. His father fought in World War One came back. They were in the candle business, and came back in southern Italy was decimated after World War One. There was nothing he could do. And so he got on a boat with no money and came to the United States. You know, a lot of folks, that’s what happened. They came to the United States came through Ellis Island, all that didn’t speak a word of English had to learn English in order to get by got a job at a piano factory, went from the piano factory to driving a trolley had never driven in a car. When they went from trolleys to buses. He said yeah, I know how to drive, taught himself how to drive a bus. He had to fight to live. My dad learned that my dad grew up to the Great Depression had to fight to live Italians at the time, were discriminated against there were ghettos in Italy, or up sorry, in New York. And so he had to learn to fight he grew up with that. I grew up learning that. But you know what happened over that time that generation became wealthy, they were prosperous, they taught people to fight. But now we have people who have never had to fight and their parents like me, my kids have never had to see me fight like my dad or my grandfather did. And so in some cases, we’re losing that fight. Now, a lot of people there’s this big debate here over millennials, and are they snowflakes? Are they not? There’s a lot of great things going for millennials and that they want fulfilment, they want workplaces in which they are going to get be fulfilled. But then there’s also a lot of they haven’t had to fight. And, you know, now we’re not teaching history. You know, two thirds of millennials, according to The Washington Post, a recent poll, two thirds of millennials don’t even know basic facts about the Holocaust, those types of things, and I can’t remember who it was, you know, those who don’t know their history, are condemned to repeat it. I’m very keenly aware of not only world history, and what we’ve gone through, but my grandfather’s history and my father’s history, which is why I’m a fighter and why I want to teach my kids to fight as well. And and so I think it has to do with your upbringing, I think it has to do with your internal your innate strengths with which you were born, there’s some there’s certainly some nature there. But I think there’s also a lot of nurture.
David Ralph [19:34]
Let’s play some words now. And then we’re gonna come back following on from that theme, here’s Rocky
Rocky Balboa [19:40]
You, me, and nobody is going to hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit. And keep moving forward, how much you can take it keep moving forward. That’s how wining is done.
David Ralph [19:56]
Now, I’m going to tell you that my kids, my my last two kids, three of them have moved down and the last two are 17 and 14. Boy in ago, I can’t get them to do anything. Even if I pay them by you want a king’s ransom to do anything, basically always not worth it, like a not worth it not worth it a Fiverr to do. And you can you know, you can know, make it 20 quid, and I’ll do it and I’ll just do it myself. Now, it seems that other families are having that same issue. But the kids coming along now and I don’t want to just sound like you know, Ward OpenStack lovely, old miserable people from from the Muppets. But it seems that the kids now they either want premium for lack of effort, you know, or not at all. Do you see that as well in your own kids and your own family and your own surroundings?
Curt Mercadante [20:47]
I mean, I certainly see it. I think there’s a lot of things society, I think economically, I think we could go to certain political policies, which I think have fermented that. You know how my grandfather, you know, they didn’t have ATMs in his day. But if they did, they certainly wouldn’t have five choices. Do you speak English? Or do you speak Italian? Do you speak this is this? So it was like, I either got to learn English, or I’m going to die. And and you know, some people hear me say that say, Well, he’s just a xenophobe? No, I’m not, by any means by any stretch of the imagination. But there is not the need to fight us. Someone recently told me when people start worrying about certain things like there’s this viral meme going around about, you know, up north, in the northern part of the United States, we say you walk into a room and there could be half women, half men who say, Hey, what’s up guys? Right? It’s been that way for years. Now, that’s offensive, and people are getting triggered by it, because it’s not gender neutral enough. And but as someone told me, when those are the things we’re worrying about, we need bigger problems to worry about. We just haven’t had bigger problems. Because we’ve been wealthy and prosperous. A lot of people want to point to wealth inequality. And I want to talk about all things are bad by any standard over the last 50 years. Poverty globally, has absolutely plummeted. Violence absolutely plummeted. And the environment has actually gotten way better. But if you watch the news, if you listen to a lot of people, you would think that violence has gotten better. You know, there’s been more violence, poverty. That’s why it’s important to have an abundance mindset to realise I urge people to get up every morning and ask themselves two questions. What’s awesome about today, and what will make today even more awesome. It pairs gratitude with a sense of forward looking purpose. And instead of saying, I’m grateful for what I have, the environment sucks. It’s, hey, the environments awesome. But yeah, there’s some things there we need to fix. How can we go fix them? Yeah, poverty has plummeted. But you know, there’s still some countries in Africa that are really suffering, how can we fix that? It’s a fundamental difference in mindset. And I think many kids today, because we were born with wealth, because we were born with general prosperity, you haven’t had to fight for anything. And that quote, you played from Rocky, Rocky Balboa is one of my very favourite quotes. And as someone who boxes, my daughter boxes, lot of people get in the ring, and they think it’s all about throwing punches, and how strong you are, and how muscular you are. And I’m in great shape, I’m going to get there and I’m going to kick someone’s butt, right? You do that you take one punch, the game changes. Holy cow, I really don’t like getting hit. Now. It’s about avoiding getting hit right, you’ve turned into this defensive, defensive mode, and it’s got it, it’s hit and don’t get hit. There’s that two part equation. And you have to realise that you got to take some shots, you got to not be afraid. More importantly, you got to not be afraid to get hit and learn how to avoid getting hit Muhammad Ali, one of the reasons that he suffered brain damage later in life, if you read his biographies, it’s that he used to train himself to be tougher by purposely taking shots to the head. And that bringing it back is what a lot of entrepreneurs think they’re supposed to do is just purposely take shots to the head. And as someone who did that for so many years, that’s why I do what I do now to help people realise you don’t have to do that.
David Ralph [24:21]
Now, I went to the Muhammad Ali Museum in Louisville, wherever that is, I can’t remember where that is. And I knew nothing about him. But I stumbled across this place went in there and it was so moving how somebody could take himself from where we was to where we got to purely by you no more fault of mine when skill really Yeah, he became skillful. But it was more sort of bloody minded. Now, that’s one of the things that I look at now. And I think there are that sort of, I suppose 30 3030, there’s the 30% of people that want to easily, there’s the 30% that are really willing to work at it. And then there’s the clever people that do the skills, they learn what they can really do well, and they maximise that they forget the 95% what they can’t do, they go for the 5%. And they get this huge skills. Now you were talking you went through Strength Finders, I’ve been through Strength Finders as well. And my business has flourished before as I realised that actually the strengths that I built into my natural life, but I thought were easy were the things I should be doing. What were your skills? What were your skills? And what are the ones that have really made a big difference to your business? And it’s made it easier because you are doing easy stuff that comes natural?
Curt Mercadante [25:40]
Yeah, yeah, yeah, the Strengths Finder has been incredible. In my book that’s coming out on the 24th. And in all my programmes, we start with strengths. You know, everyone’s born with these innate talent themes. You invest in them, you turn them into strengths, then I go one step further, you amplify those strengths every day, you combine them with your knowledge, your skill, your passion, what you love to do, and you turn them superpowers, and you get into that superpowers zone. You know, for me, my five top five are learner, which I love to learn hate school, I despise school, but I love to learn context, which means I look to the past for solutions to the future. You know, I’ve already talked about learning from my grandfather, my father, that’s what drives me and helps drive me responsibility, which means I do what I say I’m going to do. And I expect the same from other people. Now, that’s a strength, but it can also get in my way sometimes because it forces me to do things I don’t want to do. And I have trouble saying no, every once in a while activator, which means I get up and I go, you know, I start chopping down trees. Now that can get me in trouble sometimes, right? I start chopping down trees without having first seeing the forest, that’s when I have to bring my learner in first, and then find out the right things to activate on. And then I have interaction, which means I need that time every day, might be an hour on the back deck with a bourbon, right? Thinking and processing what happened and thinking about what I have to do head, if if those are out of alignment, and I don’t do those every day, that’s when I get into trouble. And when I feel like things are out of whack.
David Ralph [27:11]
Now it’s interesting you say that, because so many people that I speak to don’t think, and I’m always saying to my kids, I’m just going to have a think. And they used to sort of laugh at me. But now it’s become my kind of thing. And I will just sit there in the sunshine, just letting my mind wander. And more often than not, I will get sort of the Grammys that come through to me, but I think oh my god, yeah, that’s a great idea. Now, but not all great ideas once I actually get into them. But do you find that as well with your clients because of the hustle, hustle hustle because of them rushing around, but not actually allowing the good folks to come to them?
Curt Mercadante [27:50]
Yeah, no, absolutely. And and and i also I have what are called the five pillars of the freedom, lifestyle superpowers is one. Another one is vision, having that clear, clear vision of where you want to go. And one of them is called is becoming radically outcomes focused. A lot of us build our days on inputs, useless inputs. Well, why are you doing that? Well, because so and so said, I should do it. Because my dad said you’re supposed to work eight hours a day, because it’s habit, whatever it is. And then they’re like, okay, outcomes, Kurt, what should my outcomes be tomorrow? Well, how can I tell you what your outcomes are going to be? And then the other problem is, the key is reverse engineering. So yeah, when you sit there and think, don’t just think what I got to do today, what am I going to do tomorrow, clearly identify the outcome you want for your life, and then reverse engineer it so that every year every month, every week, every day, then you come up with those three outcomes you need to achieve to win the day, they’re not your to do list. Because all of us, right, there’s a million things we could do every day, there’s three we absolutely have to do. That’s it just three, and people argue with me. Now there’s more than three. Now there’s three. And in some cases, there’s less than three, I usually say three, because I say pick one for your work, pick one for your relationships and pick one for yourself. Focus on those three. And instead of clogging the drain of your day, with bs inputs, you’re going to focus on those outcomes, which also acknowledges that there’s going to be other stuff that happens, right? I want to get this outcome done and put the bridges out on the way to work or my boss just had a freak out, right. And he’s going to call three meetings that I didn’t plan on, well, then, if you focused on your day on 15, or 20 to do’s then you’re going to be even more frustrated because you didn’t acknowledge that unexpected stuff happens every single day.
David Ralph [29:30]
I didn’t care at all about looking after myself. And which which is weird. I look back on it. I think well, this is the most important thing. I’ve got my body and I just didn’t it didn’t dawn on me and I don’t know if it was kind of when you’re younger, you don’t care. As in, you know, you can go out and you can drink a lot. You wake up the next morning, feel slightly rough, but still get on with your day. And as you get older these things, you know, take a toll. But it never dawned on me. But now, that’s my number one. My number one is look after myself and it I see anything pushing me into a world of stress and hassles. It’s not worth it. Even if there’s money on the table. What would make the Queen cry? You know, I’m not gonna do it.
Curt Mercadante [30:10]
Yeah, no, it’s it’s a hard. It’s a lesson hard learned. It’s not just young people are at 70 and still do the same thing. And people want an easy button. Oh, well, I’m unhealthy. Well, I’ll just take a Lipitor, and then everything will be okay. And so they eat a lot of bread and a lot of fried food. Well, now what about the inflammation and the cancer? Oh, well, I’ll take another pill for that. And then they die of high blood pressure. Because the you know, the more drugs you take these things happen. There are you know, a lot of people I said, I don’t like the term work life balance, I think people should throw it out the window, throw in the trash. And really, the key is alignment. There’s three facets of your life, work, relationships, and self. And if any one of those is out of whack, you suffer your work and your relationships are never going to be at 100% if you are not. And so you have to, you know, people talk about you know, when you get on the plane, put the oxygen mask on first before you help the other person that’s applicable to your entire life. And the last person we always it’s just human nature invest in is ourselves for whatever reason. And then also often, you know, we choose pleasure over, over, you know, pleasure at the bottom of a snack box pleasure at the bottom of a bottle pleasure, whatever it is short term pleasure that we confuse with a sense of meaning or fulfilment.
David Ralph [31:31]
But how would you do yeah, I’m going to jump in there. How do you do that in America, because I’ve just come back from America. And as I keep on talking about it’s going to get very, very boring, but it was it was a great time. The diet the diet almost killed us. You know, I read but Americans spend a billion dollar on laxative and I’d say save a billion dollars and cabbage on your plate every now and again, a cabbage and some carrots you know some vegetables, but it was all wings and pieces and fry and so how do you actually really maintain that sort of look after yourself? When every advert on TV is about Wendy’s and burgers and God knows while every advert is a family barbecuing everywhere you stop it’s just fried food. We found it almost impossible to find vegetables anywhere.
Curt Mercadante [32:19]
Yeah, you know what, it’s, it’s interesting because we have this discussion because you know, going we went to Europe for basically two months over the last year. And we noticed, you know, even in Italy it’s very colourful, I’m gluten free I don’t eat pasta, or bread or anything. And still we had a healthy meals I had a lot of steak, a lot of chicken you know fish, vegetables all that. And here the interesting thing is what I noticed and maybe maybe you’re going to say no you’re totally wrong is at least for us because we stay in an Airbnb it seemed okay the markets are smaller like here we have these humongous markets with 16 varieties of everybody product. And they’re like we go to what what was it Sainsbury’s? I think when we stayed in London and he would go to your
David Ralph [33:07]
polish your Polish you will Yeah, only Polish people go to Sainsbury’s.
Curt Mercadante [33:11]
Okay, it was well, it was a tiny one. It was like it was on the way to I don’t even remember from the tube station. But it was the only one we stopped there on the way home maybe it wasn’t Sainsbury’s, maybe it was. I don’t know. I’m getting a mixed up because in Paris, there was another car before but that wasn’t in that’s not in the UK. Anyways, we stopped there, you’d pick it up. And what I gathered was it was the same way in Italy. People come home and they pick up something for a meal and they make it and then the next day they want another meal and so they don’t get it here. You know we have these these giant stores where you go and you fill up for a month and you buy 62 pork chops and you do all this and the choice now. It is I think having choice is good. But with choice comes responsibility. And there are some people who just can’t help themselves have all the choices. And you know, I’m someone who was very out of shape who was on all these prescription drugs and I was sick of going to Urgent Care sick of being on the drugs sick of being curled up literally in the foetal position wishing I was going to die because of pain until I realised, okay, dairy, gluten, all these different things, any type of grain gives me these problems. And so I’ve been what’s called paleo since 2009. And it’s been excellent. And so it’s very easy to know, like the guardrails are, if I go outside the guardrails, I’m in pain, I’m on the toilet, I’m throwing up, I want to die. But if I stay within those guardrails, I’m not on prescription drugs, things are great. It takes a you know, and the system I put together, I’m very confident the five pillars keep you in the guardrails. Whether you’re building a business, whether you’re keeping fulfilment in your life, because you have a clear vision of where you want to go. You reverse engineer that you’re in your superpowers and which I would argue you don’t need discipline. And you don’t need willpower. If you put together your if you put yourself in your superpower zone, because when you’re in that zone, it’s actually easier to do things and then not do them. So then you have your vision, you reverse engineer it, you become absolutely 100% outcomes focused. And when you do that, every time you order something at a restaurant, you’re clearly focused on outcomes of staying below 165 pounds of not being on tour of living that life of alignment where your self care is there. And so you’re so radically outcomes focused Now does that mean for instance, I go and I have some gelato when I’m in earlier, I don’t have gelato? No. It’s easier for me because I also don’t have bread and I don’t have fried foods, and I don’t have the other stuff. But it is tough. And the US is is horrible. I mean, our obesity rates here are through the roof. But with great choice comes great responsibility and better choices. And everyone wants to forgive people for it. Yeah, is obesity. As someone who was obese for a large part of my time who got beat up when I was a kid who got bullied. It came down to deliberate choices I was making. And you can call it a sickness, you can call it all that. Okay, great. It came down to choices. And the more choices you have, yeah, you got to be responsible, and you got to be more,
more deliberate about the choices you’re making,
David Ralph [36:22]
bringing in choices, and this is what I do I take it from one section to another with a perfect segue. One of the things that your business is very good at is limiting the choices on your website. I go over to a lot of people’s, and it’s like a smorgasbord. And you think why are they actually selling what we’re actually doing here. And I’m confused, you will seem to be very clear. I enjoyed it, because there was good content on there. But I knew exactly what you were bringing to the table as soon as I landed too many choices in business is as bad as it is in dire isn’t it?
Curt Mercadante [36:59]
Yeah, I mean, you know, when I when I had my ad agency, you know, it’s it’s the Paradox of Choice, you know, if you send an email out or put, you know, choices on a website, if you have one choice, great, they’re going to click it. If you have two choices, okay, maybe, then they’re just choosing one or two. Once you start putting three or more, they don’t click anything they’re on, they’re unable to make a choice at all. So if you want them to go somewhere, give them our only one or two choices, because you add three or four or five, then it’s like, oh, my gosh, I can’t make that choice, you get overwhelmed. And it’s like that with ourselves to start limiting where you want to go. I asked people who’s your ideal customer, and they give me like 62 different customers. It’s like limit yourself, because when you’re vanilla from a marketing standpoint, when you speak to everyone, you speak to no one. From a pure marketing standpoint, when you give your customers or potential customers too many choices, they just opt out, they don’t even take the choice. And for ourselves, when you don’t limit the choices when you don’t set those clear outcomes so that it makes it easier to weigh every choice against the outcomes you want for your life, it becomes more difficult, it’s easier just to opt out and say, Well, I’m going to order the fries and the pizza in the in the food because I can’t make a choice at all.
David Ralph [38:14]
Let’s play some words. Now from a guy who classically went back into the business, he first started and realised that there was so many choices, he had to find out what the customer wanted Steve Jobs,
Steve Jobs [38:27]
of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leaves you off the well worn path. And that way will make all the difference.
David Ralph [39:01]
Now he was a master of understanding, sort of clarity in business and stripping back and making things beautiful by their simplicity. As we were talking about earlier with the amount of choices available online, is that something that when your clients come to you, because it is with mine, this is a leading question. When my clients come to me, more often than not, they’re hassled, and they’re frazzled, because they’re trying to juggle too many plates, when I say just find one plate and get loads of stuff on that one plate.
Curt Mercadante [39:36]
It’s hard to do. And it takes hard work to identify the one plate and I have people who just refuse to do it, they pay me money, and then they just don’t show up. Because they don’t want to do the work. It’s easier for them to drift along being busy than it is to actually make the hard choices. And so that stuff. I mean, heck, you look at me, Steve Jobs, I’m an apple fanboy. You know, he takes away certain ports and people freak out? Well, because he wants you to use the one port that he wants you to use. And people adapt. And not only people adapt the entire industry adapts other computers, other phones start losing their ports, oh my gosh, he doesn’t have a place for my microphone. No. So he invented Bluetooth and made a tonne of money selling that. And now others are doing the same. And so people complain, people like feeling that they’re busy because they can hide behind it. Right? If you’re busy, that substitutes for the fact that you’re not effective. But you can hide there for a while. And I say for a while you and I know that you can hide behind busy for a long time, then sooner or later, you’re going to hit that wall
David Ralph [40:37]
when you hit the wall. Was there a moment? Or was it a gradual sort of dawning realisation
Curt Mercadante [40:44]
I hit a few walls, you know, there was that first of all, where I wanted to give it up and I did Strengths Finder and I found the freedom. The big wall came when my dad died. And at his wake, he did all those cool things, Space Programme fighter jets, aeroplanes, all that stuff. At his wake, there’s grown men in tears. Not a one person mentioned the thing my dad did in his career, it was all about husband, father, volunteer in the community at church, all that good stuff. And that, for me was a wall where it was like, my hero set the example. And here I was living otherwise. And I determined I’m gonna make a change. I didn’t know what it was I wanted to find fulfilment meeting and it took several years until I finally woke up on that Thanksgiving day and said I’m done and and jumped in, you know, whole hog.
David Ralph [41:31]
I’m interested really about what our legacy is he is our legacy. Are we ever going to create a true legacy? Is it only for our children? Or is it going to be wider? Because, you know, you see it all the time, I remember working for companies and I was there for 10 years, you know, and I felt like I was a legend in the company. And you leave and you go back about three weeks later, they’re barely remember it just sort of moved on. Is that something that sort of worries you you have your own sort of mortality event, you have a funeral where they only talk about the things that you saw, you did not how you made them feel and stuff.
Curt Mercadante [42:10]
Yeah, and that goes to the heart of of why I hit that wall, I was worried about it. Now I don’t worry about it, I think about my mortality all the time, and I use it as a positive, it moves me forward to say, Okay, I could take a lot of money for this client, but it’s not going to move me toward my vision. And so another the five pillars is having that clearly defined vision in your life, that one or two sentences that defines you whether you die in 20 minutes or two years, it pairs your purpose for living with the impact you want to make on the world. And Steve Jobs I use this example of this when he you know he was put out in the wilderness. Right? And and then when he founded Pixar and all that, he came back and he gave the now famous speech where he said the way we’re going to bring the apple brand back isn’t by talking about gigahertz, it’s not going to talk about circuits. It’s not going to talk about our computer, it’s an going to be talking about how good or how bad Microsoft is the way we’re going to bring back the band. The brand is about something deeper. And he I can’t rattle it off the top of my head. I think it’s the vision he came up with a vision not a mission of vision. And it was people with passion can change the world. I think I paraphrase it, but I’m pretty close to what is there’s nothing in there about computers, there’s nothing in there. Certainly the iPad, the iPod hadn’t been, or the iPhone hadn’t been invented yet. Then he went on to launch an ad campaign that didn’t show a single Apple product. It had Albert Einstein, Muhammad Ali, Martin Luther King, Jr. He knew that that vision was much deeper, and the legacy of Apple isn’t going to be the iPod, right? We’ve already forgotten about the iPod, the legacy of Apple, it’s going to be the Macintosh to we already forgot about that. It’s something deeper. And it’s about them empowering people to change the world with their tools, some of which haven’t even been invented yet. And you can apply that lesson to your life. Absolutely.
David Ralph [43:56]
And that that is the key to all branding, isn’t it? Is that makes you feel something it makes you feel connected? The reason why we jump on virgin planes or blue jet or whatever, there’s a deep sense of connection to that thing.
Curt Mercadante [44:13]
Yeah, and it has to come from within, you know, the big mistake people do is they, okay, they define their vision, but then they go out and they do like a total milk toast, vanilla message. And when you speak to everyone, you know, you want to really anger people. Take out your iPhone to a die hard Android user and then be like, ah, the evil empire and all this and they make fun of people who stand in the rain and the snow and they wait for the new iPhone. You think apples not okay with that. That’s the exact reason Apple has haters, which is the exact reason they can charge you $1,000 for a phone. And so knowing who you are, knowing your truth, but then not being afraid to live your truth and then speak your truth. That’s what differentiates people. There are people who hate Donald Trump. He wants made a comment. He made a comment, you know, I could go on Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and people was he’s absolutely true. And you know what, you may hate Donald Trump, you may love Donald Trump. He’s elected the President of the United States because he got that fundamental marketing principle. Correct. You know, who got it wrong, Hillary Clinton, and everyone can say all Hillary’s better and I love her and this and that. Hillary ran a horrible campaign. She never found a vision. She defined her vision, either by her resume, or by her opponent, Donald Trump defined it by what am I going to do for you? I don’t say that as someone I’m not a Donald Trump fan. I’m not. But when you look at it from a purely marketing perspective, there are people who hate Apple, apples fine with that. And it’s a it’s a marketing principle of attract and repel. But before you even get there, you gotta have defined your vision, know your truth, and not be afraid to speak your truth. What is yours been
David Ralph [45:49]
bringing the conversation to an end? What is your vision?
Curt Mercadante [45:54]
My vision is saving the world by helping individuals fight for lives of freedom and fulfilment. nice, simple, it rolls off the tongue, I’m happy to tattoo it on my chest, tell it whoever wants it. And if people ask how that’s done, I have bullet points after that how it’s done. Part of it is the book I’m publishing in a few weeks and doing this podcast and speaking to folks like you.
David Ralph [46:15]
I found that the hardest thing to do to define what I do, but now I defined it, I think to myself bloody Oh, I should have seen that all the time. It was it was always around me. You know, the years and years and years my branding, but I’ve grown into with Join Up Dots and everything I do. What’s how I lived? And so did you always live it?
Curt Mercadante [46:37]
No know, I think there were always pieces of it there. But I certainly wasn’t living it because looking back the clients I had didn’t allow me to get there the way I built my business. My idea of success didn’t allow me to get there. And Clare Boothe Luce, she was an ambassador, she was a Congresswoman. This was back in the days when Republicans and Democrats worked one another. She was a Republican, but she was friends with john F. Kennedy. And in these early days, she was concerned that he was stretching themselves too thin. He was a hard charger. He wanted to do all these things at once. And she was concerned about it. And she told him now and now kind of famous conversation she said, you know, the lives of all great men, she used the word man. And I know some people get upset about that men and women could be summed up in one sentence, she called that your life sentence. Now, she gave some examples for like Martin Luther King, Jr. I think, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but like for Abraham Lincoln, you know, if I go anywhere here in the US, and I say he freed the slaves and unified the country. Everyone knows I’m talking about Abraham Lincoln. Now I could have described himself Listen, if you talk about Batman, right? You could say law enforcement officer. Well, how would that differentiate Batman from a cop? A Constable, right? A DEA agent and FBI CIA, right? No, he was, you know, a, a bat winged costume crime fighter who scared you know, put fear into the hearts of criminals. Oh, ok. Now I know who you’re talking about. So that’s when you get to the heart of vision. It is one of the toughest things I work on with my clients. It took me months to come up with it. Because it’s got to be a vision that simple and specific. But that has meaning to it.
David Ralph [48:13]
Love that. And he’s also known as the greatest, the world’s greatest detective as I mean, my son just told me recently about Batman never had any idea we did a work on the stuff.
Curt Mercadante [48:24]
Yeah, that is because they’ve made the movies, it’s all about the martial arts. The next movie apparently is going to be all about his role as a detective rather than having all these gadgets and everything. So it’ll be interesting. Absolutely.
David Ralph [48:35]
Well, this is going to be interesting as well, because this is a bit of a show that we call the Sermon on the mic, when we’re going to send you back in time to have a one on one with your younger self. And if you could go back in time and speak to the younger, what age would you like to speak to him? What advice would you like to give to him? Well, we’re going to find out, because I’m going to play in a theme. And when it fades, Europe, this is the Sermon on the mic.
Here we go with the best beer on the show.
Curt Mercadante [49:22]
So I go back to my 23 year old self and I tell yourself, I tell myself or my 23 year old self. Be a little less arrogant. Listen to your mentors. Listen to people who have been through things. Don’t be so arrogant that you think you know everything. Because once you think you know everything. That’s when you stop growing. When you stop having a growth mindset. When you think you know everything, you become stagnant, you get a scarcity mindset to have an abundance mindset, which is an absolute, important vital precursor to living a life of freedom and fulfilment. You have to have an abundance mindset, which means you have to have a growth mindset, which means you always have to be willing to learn, you have to be questioning everything. You don’t have to give up your values. You don’t have to give up what you hold dear. But be less dogmatic. Be more of a learner every single day.
David Ralph [50:15]
Great advice. Come what is the number one way that our audience that can connect with you, sir?
Curt Mercadante [50:21]
Yeah, I would urge you to go to five pillars of freedom calm, it’s a landing page on my website, it’s easier to spell my last name. When you go there, you can also learn how you can get chapter one free of my book five pillars of the freedom lifestyle, but then you also find all the other fun links to learn more about me,
David Ralph [50:37]
right stuff, we will have all the links in the show notes to make it as easy as possible, of course, to cut it. Thank you so much for spending time with us today joining those dots. And please come back again when you got more dots to join up. Because I do believe that by joining up the dots and connecting our past is always the best way to build a futures cut. Thank you so much.
Curt Mercadante [50:56]
Thank you so much. This is one of the most fun podcasts I’ve ever gonna
David Ralph [51:02]
cut. He believes in working towards outcomes, you know, setting your storey now it’s the only way isn’t it if you haven’t got your outcomes and simplified outcomes, three things a day, get that done. And then you know, live your life and move around. And it’s not the same in corporate life. It’s not you go there. And if you say to your boss, oh, I’m just going to do three things here, add another three things on and another three things in corporate land totally different. Once you get into entrepreneurial land, you can really make things move along because you’re focusing in on your strengths. As always, thank you so much for everybody who’s listening to Join Up Dots and dropping us a line. Can’t tell you more about what’s going on behind the scenes taking an age to get there. But you’ll find out about it very soon. Hopefully you’ll stay with us. Until then see again. Bye bye.
David doesn’t want you to become a faded version of the brilliant self you are wants to become. So he’s put together an amazing guide for you called the eight pieces of advice that every successful entrepreneur practices, including the two that changed his life. Head over to Join Up dots.com to download this amazing guide for free and we’ll see you tomorrow on Join Up Dots.