Deliberate Leaders: The Art of Work with Writer Jeff Goins

Reading Time: 24 Minutes

Are you in the process of re-inventing your career? Jeff Goins has gone through this process multiple times and has written one of the most popular books about finding and pursuing your life’s purpose.

About Jeff Goins

Jeff is a writer, speaker, and entrepreneur. He’s the author of 5 bestselling books including The Art of Work and Real Artists Don’t Starve.

Jeff is a writer, speaker, and entrepreneur. He's the author of 5 bestselling books including The Art of Work and Real Artists Don’t Starve.

Read the Transcript

Allison: Hi Deliberate Leaders! I am your host Allison Dunn, Executive Coach, owner Deliberate Directions and founder of the Deliberate Leaders Podcast. We are dedicated to helping leaders build strong, thriving businesses. We bring on interviews each episode that are intended to inspire and help you on your leadership journey. Today’s guest is Jeff Goins. He is a writer, speaker and entrepreneur. He is the author of 5 best-selling books. As a matter of fact, he’s written a best-selling book every year since 2012, and some of his books include the Art of Work and Real Artists Don’t Starve. Jeff, thank you so much for joining us here today.

Jeff: Hi, Allison! Good to be here. Your background, and your setup is so beautiful and stylish, and I am coming to you from the homeless quarter. So you know, we’ve got this nice little contrast going.

Allison:  Thank you very much. I am not in at home, which I know a lot of people are, and I’ve done a ton of interviews from similar settings. So it’s all good. I have one quick, deliberate conversation, I love to ask people just share their top leadership tip. With our listeners. It’s a little bit off topic of what we’re going to talk about today. But I’m hoping to get that little gem from you.

Jeff: OK, you want that now?

Allison:  Yes, that would be great.

Jeff: OK. The leadership tips, that’s what you want. I have been a leader in various capacities for I guess my whole life was never a thing that I wanted to do or be because it felt like too much responsibility, and yet, I had opinions and a little bit of confidence, and when you do that people go, “Well, you’re in charge, right?” And I never really liked that. But I think that’s how leadership works sometimes is you start moving in a direction and you look behind you, and people are following you, and you go, “Oh, I should take this more seriously”.

So I do think leadership is really an act, right? It’s not like a title that you get. What’s the line in Braveheart?

“People don’t follow titles, they follow courage.”

So I think one of the most courageous decisions we can make as leaders is to actually tell the truth, the whole truth, and there are plenty of decisions that we have to make for ourselves, organizations and our people that other people don’t have all the information about don’t fully understand, and it doesn’t mean you have to explain yourself because that can get very tedious and inefficient. But I have been presented in my life and in my work many times with opportunities to not outright lie, but not tell the whole truth. Here’s why we’re doing this. Here’s what we’re letting you go. Here’s why we’re moving in this new direction. Here’s why I am showing up in this meeting right now a little bit unprepared.

And I have found that the more you tell the truth, like I’m sorry that I was late, I actually forgot that we were going to meet here at this time, and that’s not acceptable to me. But I just want to be honest with you. Again, I think there’s a fine line between oversharing and just being honest. But I do think that when you show up fully as your whole self, and you go, “Hey, I didn’t like when you said that thing. It really bothered me and I’m a little bit insecure about that, and I wonder if we could just have a conversation about that”. When I say tell the truth. I mean, I’m talking about everything from being honest with your finances, to just being honest with yourself, and your people and what’s going inside and around you, and I have found that that is incredibly hard for someone who cares what other people think, and usually cares about image and how I’m being presented to the world. But I’m finding that’s not the best way to connect with people. The best way to connect with people, is to show up fully as yourself and be honest and true about that. It gives other people permission to be themselves, and I think that that deepens the connection that we have with our people in ways that allows us to take them places, they otherwise wouldn’t trust us to go.

Allison:  Sure. Jeff, that is a beautiful tip, and something that deeply resonates with me in the work that I get to do, because I’m an executive business coach, and leaders have to be honest and truthful about what’s really going on what they’re really thinking, what they need, and what they don’t know that they don’t need you.

Jeff: Right.

Allison:  So, I love that I think it is almost a core pillar of what it is. You know, in coaching, it only works well, if you’re telling the truth, both sides, and that definitely plays in the office at home in all your relationships.

Jeff: Yes, and you have to be honest with yourself. People misunderstand integrity, they think it’s about doing the right or moral thing, or being an honorable person, and certainly can have elements of that. But integrity means; wholeness, integrated.

So, who you say you are and who you are internally, and who how you show up in the world. When those things are in alignment, you have integrity, and people can feel that, and when you don’t, right, you become disintegrated, you start to fall apart, and so honesty really does begin with self-awareness and us getting really honest with ourselves, our emotional selves, our spiritual selves, our physical selves, here’s how I’m showing up right now, here’s what’s going on inside and around me, and I’ve got to just tell the truth about that right now, and then from there, I can tell the truth to others, and it is a scary, courageous, vulnerable act, and I find it often invites courage in other people, and creates an energy that otherwise would not exist in your organization.

Allison:  Thank you for that. Can we talk about your book, The Art of work? I guess my general summary, how I would describe it is? it’s about finding your vocation and discovering where your interests align with the world’s needs, which I think, kind of the highest level of passion and purpose and aligning those. Many leaders today will lead multiple companies over their lifetime, and a lot of us currently are in a space right now where we need to reinvent ourselves, maybe what we had been doing is no longer exists. So I’m just curious, what is the key message that you want to impart in this book, especially with business leaders?

Jeff: I wrote this book because I stumbled upon what seemed to be my life’s work at the time, and I wanted to guide other people along the path, and I wrote a book based on my own experiences, and I didn’t believe it. I thought this is just true for me that I just get lucky. Or is this true for everyone? And I didn’t know, and so I started this little Ad-Hoc research project where I started interviewing hundreds of people who had discovered their vocations, their life’s work, their calling purpose, whatever you want to think of it, I use a lot of those terms pretty interchangeably, and what I found was one of the commonalities that everybody who found their life’s work, whether it was being a homemaker or a park ranger, or a doula or an entrepreneur, or what have you, it surprised them.

And I thought that was really interesting, because in America, especially, and certainly in the business world, and certainly amongst middle class people who are going to go pursue the dream.

The narrative, the way that happens is you figure out what you want, you set a goal and you work really hard to pursue it and get it, and as we all know, life doesn’t work exactly that way, and one of the stories in the book is about a boy named Garrett, who gets cancer, he gets a brain tumor, the size of a golf ball in his brain at 3 years old, and in an instant, his life changes, and he goes on to live this extraordinary life. He’s given a sentence a few years live and he keeps going and does all these amazing things becomes an Eagle Scout Hikes Machu Picchu starts the nonprofit, all kinds of crazy stuff, and the reason that he does that from ages 3 to 18 because he has to because he’s doing out a hand in life that he didn’t expect, and it creates a sense of urgency and existential asks, and just between him and his dad and his family, like we’re going to treat every moment as if it’s our last, and so what I learned from Garrett Rush Miller was that what makes a life extraordinary aren’t the chances we get, but what we do with them.

The lesson that I would implore business leaders to consider is that sometimes your plans are not the best way forward, and that what truly great leaders do, I think, spiritual leaders, business leaders, politicians, they have a sense of inner knowing, and it doesn’t have to be Whoo, I mean, it can’t be. But it’s just this intuitive understanding that this is the way that we need to go, and we’re gonna go there that actually is leadership, it’s the ability to see something, to have vision, before other people can see it, and so by definition, this is not an externality. It’s an internal understanding. It’s an inner knowing, and I start this path with these 7 keys, and one of the keys in the book is listening to your life, which is a term that I borrowed from an author and an activist named Parker Palmer, and Parker Palmer says;

“Before I can tell my life what I want, I need to listen to my life, telling me who I am.”

And so I believe that activity follows identity. Recently, after many months of not getting a haircut, I got a haircut, but just a trim, and this woman styled my hair, and she said, “You have curly hair?” I said, “I do”. She said, “Yes, it’s good curly, because these waves does this thing.” And I said, “I never knew that”. She says, “You never knew you had curly hair”, as I had no idea, and I kind of like it, “All right”, I asked her question. I said, “What do I do?” I’ve been combing my hair and slicking it down and putting pomade in it for years, my whole life. She said, “Well, you could do that. But you have these natural, beautiful curls”, and you get this, Allison.

And she goes, “So you just get out of the shower, and that’s it.” You don’t call Matt; you don’t try to tame it. She said, “You need to let your hair kind of go in the direction that it wants to go”. Now, when we talk about vocation, we talk about leadership. Vocation means means “Calling”, the Latin root is Vocare, which means “To call”, and when you’re thinking about leading yourself and others into their calling, into their life’s work, into greater meaning, the first question to consider is how can we move this project? How can we move our lives not in the direction that we want to take them, but in the direction that they want to go?

How can we listen to our lives, and create the thing that wants to be created? I don’t know if that feels too spiritual or esoteric. But I have found that the greatest leaders do this sometimes even without realizing they’re doing it. This is kind of the creative call of all leaders and visionaries is to imagine something, see something that doesn’t quite exist yet, and to call it into being and as soon as you do it, everybody goes, Well, yes, of course, we need an iPhone, of course, you need a device that makes calls and accesses the internet and takes beautiful pictures and allows you to listen to music, of course, but at the time, that hadn’t been done before, and so I think that the leader of the future is going to have to tap into this inner knowing this ability to listen to their own lives, but to be able to lead other people in that same practice.

In the development of my Deliberate Leaders Program, we correlate that to people finding their north star their true north of what they’re meant to do. We work the program around the compass element of [unintelligible 14:49] so I don’t resonate with what you’re talking about.

Yes, and you’ve got to have that compass. You’ve got to have that true north and I think of calling location not as a highway where you’re driving straight towards your destination, and you can see it, but rather as a path, a trail in the woods, and I like to go hiking, and every path had ever been on has meandered. It’s gone left and right. And, and there were plenty of times where I couldn’t see beyond the next bend in the path, and I just had to trust that I was on the right path and I was moving in the right direction, and eventually, you end up somewhere but it’s not exactly where you thought it would be, and so many of us are wandering in the woods of our own lives, and the goal is to find the path, it’s to go, “Oh, there’s a compass”, and it turns out that when I had in the right direction, I eventually get to where I want to go. But I don’t usually see it, I don’t see the outcome, I don’t have a crystal clear picture of what it’s going to look like.

Sometimes you do often, you’re just trying to take the next step. But it’s not Chaos, there is this sense of knowing there’s this inner knowing, and that looks different for a lot of people. It could be your why your purpose, a spiritual practice, but it’s this sense that I know what I’m here to do, and now that I know that, I’m no longer wandering through the woods, I’m following the path and still there might be rocks and fallen trees and twists and turns that I didn’t anticipate. But as long as I stay on the path, I’m going to get to where I meant to be.

Allison: 

And were you earlier in your life a missionary?

Jeff: Yes, I worked for two different missions’ organizations in different capacities:

  • One was as a traveling music missionary; we did some overseas work. We played a lot of like church services in the US and recruited people for summer missions program.
  • And then I worked for a short term missions’ organization, as a marketing director, and as part of that job, went on a number and led a number of short term missions projects.

And in that work that you did, what was the most important lessons that you learned from those experiences?

Everybody is always looking for hope, no matter the situation, and that looks different. But when you have that your circumstances don’t really matter. You can get through anything. What is the Nietzsche quote?

“With a strong enough ‘why’, the ‘how’ becomes inevitable.”

Yes, I’m paraphrasing. But hope is probably the strongest human force in the world that I’ve ever seen, took to overcome any obstacle, poverty, despair, what have you, and I saw it in so many surprising places.

Some other lessons were the best way to spread an idea is with a story, and nobody can deny your story, and some of the things that we think of as wealth look like poverty to other people, like; independence, self-reliance, I can do this all on my own, and then you go to part of the world that’s so communal, you feel something, I felt something, I want go, “Oh, this is what it means to be wealthy, at least to me to have rich, deep relationships with people who love you, and to share life with them not to live in a fancy house somewhere and have a bunch of money and some bank account somewhere”, and that’s fine. I’m not opposed to that. But I mean, those are some of the lessons I learned.

Allison:  Those are exceptional lessons. I appreciate the concept of definition of wealth is very different in different cultures-

Jeff: -It has to be.

Allison:  -Rich is for sure- Yes.

Because people value different things to different cultures. Yeah.

You wrote another book, and it’s a cool and unusual topic. It’s about waiting. So you call it that in between. It’s about staying present and enjoying the journey between life’s major moments. How can we enjoy what’s in front of us while still basically looking ahead, which I think is a challenge our culture has?

Jeff: Well, you can look ahead while understanding you’re not ahead, and the challenge is, I think, especially in America, if you’re talking to a bunch of ambitious people, you’ve got a plan. I mean, there’s just practical elements. If I’m an executive at a company, I’m going well great being the present moment. But if we don’t hit Q-3 goals, we’re dead. So every day, I’m trying to hit that number. So I get that, or it’s great to be in the present moment. But without my goal of losing 20 pounds, I’m just gonna eat whatever I want, or whatever. So I get that. But there’s a difference between running towards the finish line, and thinking about the finish line, and what I mean by that is, you can never be anywhere except right here right now. That is a fact, and I think it’s something that many of us deny.

So for example; if you want to lose the weight, that’s great. But can you accept where you are today, with the understanding that you’re moving in a direction towards somewhere else, and I would posit that the only way to change reality is to actually accept it, and I think that we live in denial of reality, often.

For example; if you’re bankrupt, if you have no money, you’re broke, and you want money or you want to lose weight, or whatever you’re lacking, something that you want more of, the only way to move in that direction is to actually go, this is where I really am, and we like we all do this, like you have something in your life where you go, I don’t want to open that statements from my financial planner this this month, because I know what happened in the market this month, and that’s fine, but you’re living in denial of reality, and so in between, is based on this quote by Annie Dillard that I love called, how we spend our days, after all is how we spend our lives. How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.

So most of us go, “Someday, my life is going to look completely different.” And that’s usually not true. If you’re not embracing today, whatever that looks like making small changes, if you didn’t go for a walk today, and you’re saying, 3 months from now, I’m going to be healthier, and you didn’t spend 5 or 10 minutes to go for a walk today, you’re telling yourself that you’re going to be someone different later, and that’s just like a really lovely fantasy. It feels good in our body. When we dream about something that’s not true now, and we tell other people, often chemicals get released in our brain that make us feel good. I declare on social media today I’m going to lose the weight or whatever, and sometimes some people need that I understand that. There’s a lot of interesting studies about that, that say it actually diminishes your ability to accomplish the goal.

But all that to say, I found that I was living most of my life for big moments, and I love big moments. I love creating little vignettes of experience. I live to create authentic, meaningful experiences for other people that allow me to feel appreciated like that. I love doing that; dinner parties, conferences, speaking gigs, webinars, courses. Those are experiences that allow people to experience change and transformation. I love the way that makes me feel. But most of life is not made up of moments. I mean, this is not like a hallmark, and anybody who makes a motivational poster doesn’t want you to believe this. It’s like, life is a series of moments. No, it’s not. Most of life is what happens between the moments.

What did John Lennon say?

“Life is what happens when you’re making plans for other things.”

Life is what is happening in between those big moments, and I love the big moments. They’re great. They’re wonderful. But most of parenting, most of accomplishing a goal, ost of work, most of living is not crossing the finish line. It’s putting one foot in front of the other. So why not embrace the in between, and why not create a life for yourself as my friend and mentor Seth Godin likes to say that, “You don’t have to escape from that even in the boring mundane moments, you’re going, that’s pretty great. I like this. I’m not trying to escape from this.”

So how do we do that?

Set goals, that’s wonderful. But create a lifestyle that allows you to pursue goals in a way that feels life giving, that feels invigorating. I met with a person who works with people’s nervous systems, and I was talking about working out and moving my body and sharing some of my past, and she said, “Do you work out?” I said, “Yes, I go to the gym, I do this, I do that”, she goes, “OK, and tell me about your experience of that.” I was like, “Well, like, sometimes I eat a bunch of crappy food, and I feel bad, and then I work out really hard to compensate, I’m sure nobody’s ever done that in the history of weight loss.” And she goes, “OK, so you’re punishing yourself twice. You’re punishing your body by giving things that doesn’t want or need, and then you’re punishing yourself by working really hard. How’s that working out for you?” I was like, “Oh, not very well, I don’t feel very good.” He said, “I want you to only exercise for the next 30 days in ways that feel fun. So whether that’s walking, running, whatever.”

What a wonderful piece of advice, that I can move my body in such a way that’s fun, it goes against all of my programming, which is that change needs to hurt, that growth should kind of suck. Maybe not, maybe you can design a life that allows you to enjoy yourself, and the things that matter to you, that is in alignment with your values, and that moves you in the direction of where you want to go. Because it’s not true that just because you’re having fun, and there’s joy and meaning in your life, doesn’t mean that you can’t want more things, and you can’t be ambitious, and try to grow. But I have found that, for a season of my life, fear and shame, were the primary motivators, they were the fuel that I was putting in my life to get to where I wanted to go, and I didn’t need them. They helped me get to where I want to go, but whenever I stopped to take a breath, I mean, they’d catch up with me, you know, I’m afraid I don’t like myself.

So, getting in the moment, is just the way to go. “I’m actually here. I’m not there. I like running.” I know plenty of people go, “I hate running. I love having run. I hate writing. I love having written”. Don’t do that. Don’t spend your life running a half marathon. Half Marathon is 13.1 miles. The last 0.1 mile is great. You’re like sprinting, people are cheering you on, you know, they’re they’re bagels and chocolate milk waiting at the end of that. But if you don’t at least enjoy those 13 miles, that is a bad day. You’re taking a nice bath afterwards, you’re not having fun, and I love the 13, and the 0.1 is great, too.

So don’t live a life where you’re spending so much time waiting for the next moment that you’re missing in between because most of life is that and you actually get to decide what that in between looks like more often than not, and how you choose to show up in it. Does that answer your question?

Allison: 

That does answer my question, and I think I like to occasionally call out the action item, the takeaway here is make the most of everything that’s in between, because that’s most of your life, and figuring out how you want that to be.

Jeff: I heard somebody say recently, what are your biggest problems in your life? And then the second question was something to the effect of why have you chosen those problems?

Allison:  It’s a great question.

Jeff: It’s great. Most of the problems in your life you are responsible for and that’s not like a blaming thing. But the question is, what problems exist in your life that you have tolerated? And do you want them, if not choose something else?

So for example, I thought, Okay, and it’s not like you don’t have problems, or there aren’t stressors in your life, but I thought what are the greatest stressors in my life?

Overwhelmed, I have a lot of projects going on.

And then the question was; Is that acceptable to me? Because whose fault is it that I’m overwhelmed?

Well, I was the one who started this thing, and that business, and that project, and that thing, and it’s my choice to continue those. So is that an acceptable circumstance for me? Is that a problem I actually want to solve, and it’s not true for every area of your life, I understand there’s tragedies or circumstances that we go, “This just happened.” But most of the problems in our life are situations and circumstances that we choose to continue to entertain, and so why? And I’m not like, just have a reason. Oh, yeah, I accept that because actually i like starting things, and I accept the stress that comes along with it. I accept it. It puts the ownership back on me, and now it’s up to me to actually solve that problem navigate that situation.

So I think embracing the in between is just realizing most of life is I’m waiting for the next thing to happen, and that’s fine. But can I design a lifestyle for me, that feels fulfilling as I move down the path towards the next milestone? Or do I continue to believe the myth that one day everything is going to be great, and then I’m not going to have any problems, and I’m going to accomplish that goal and feel great. That’s not it, that’s not the goal. You’re not done until you’re dead, and so you’re on a path and every once in a while, there’s like a bench or something, or a sightseeing place and you stop and look and you go, that’s great. That’s wonderful. But the destination is the journey. The journey is the destination, and great have goals understand that these are pit stops, these are milestones along the journey, and pick a path that you actually want to spend your life walking.

Allison:  I know that we’re coming down to a few minutes left, you hoping this is the interesting facts that only I get? You said someone suggested you find the ways in which you enjoy your body to move. Jeff, tell us what are your favorite ways to exercise.

Jeff: I was going to go to the gym yesterday, and I was like, I don’t really want to go, so I’m for a hike, hour and a half long hike. I like walking. I find it to be therapeutic and creative, and then there’s lots of reasons for that when you’re moving your arms and your legs. It’s getting the two sides of your brain to talk to each other, which allows you to process. Emotion allows you to access things. I mean, if you ever had a conversation with somebody, we were having conversations sitting down right now that’s fine. But if we went for a walk, we would have a different conversation. Because different things would be going on in our body and other things would be going on in our mind and we’d be feeling and act, there’d be just different energy, and I recently discovered that Henry David Thoreau walked a minimum of 4 to 6 hours a day.

Allison:  Wow.

Jeff: And I sometimes feel guilty for going. I mean, he was an entrepreneur. He was an author, essayist.

Allison:  [crosstalk 33:26]

Jeff: He was lots of things but he basically said I pity anybody that sits at a desk inside 8 hours a day and doesn’t actually experience life, and he said, “The best kind of walking is meandering when you’re not on the path and you’re walking through a field somewhere”.

Jeff: And I sometimes feel guilty for exercising, for walking 30 to 60 minutes a day, and I was like, Well, if his work is enduring 150 years later, and he spent 4 to 6 hours a day walking, I can walk for an hour. I love walking. Sometimes that turns into a spontaneous run. I like trail running. I’ve gotten into mountain biking a little bit as I get older, I want to do things that don’t feel like exercise. That don’t feel like I hate this. But I have to do this for an hour like a treadmill. Terrible, awful, awful waste of time and scenery for me. Some people, that’s what they do. I like getting up in the morning, going for a walk taking a few hikes out in the woods. Because I don’t like being on the sun because of this white skin.

Yes, I like being in a setting where I’m moving my body and I can experience nature, wonder, I can think about things, listen to music feel inspired, I like coming back from a workout. Not feeling like I’ve worked out but feeling like I’ve got a bunch of ideas that I want to write about. I like to lift weights sometimes and do things like that. But getting up and going for a walk is my favorite way to move, connect with myself connect with nature, listen to that inner voice, and I always come back with lots of ideas.

Allison:  Final topic! and maybe what you just shared actually helps answer this. But as I introduced you, you’ve successfully published a bestseller about every year since 2012. Where do you get your ideas? How do you set the goal? What does that look like? Do you write a book every single year?

Jeff: No, I’ve gone into a bit of a cave these last few years. I am always writing something, and I do a lot of Ghost Writing now. So I’m actually working on 12 books for various authors, 12 different projects that are all at different phases from book proposal to editing.

Allison:  Can you accept this, this is an acceptable number of projects.

Jeff: This is an acceptable them for projects, and I’ve got a team we work on these together. It’s me and my assistants of work with a writer. So we’re all kind of assembly lining it but yeah, it’s fun. I like writing. So what’s the question?

Allison:  So I guess ultimately.

Jeff: I get the ideas.

Allison: You set the goal for that, how do you break it down? Is it a word count each day? Is that something?

Jeff: Yes, I think that a book starts with an idea, and most people want to write a book. I tell people what I do, and they go, “Oh, I’d like to do that.” And it’s like, “Well, okay, good”. I don’t tell my plumber, Oh, I thought about doing that sometime. But that’s fine, whatever Good for you. I think the most people want write a book and they don’t write a book, and the reason for that is because I mentioned this before this Nietzsche quote:

“With a strong enough why, the how becomes inevitable.”

And I’m buttering that, but I like my paraphrase of that, and the idea is, with enough energy, if you want something badly, almost anything is possible, write a book is a bad goal.

Allison:  Good advice.

Jeff: I’m not dissuading anybody from writing a book, I think the world needs as many good books as possible. But what you need is an idea that consumes you, that captivates you so much in the same way that you would start a business or launch a new project or launch a podcast or whatever, an idea that consumes you so much, that I won’t leave you alone, and when that happens, the writing almost becomes inevitable. So I don’t start writing until I’ve got that idea, and I really, really believe in this writing a book is not just about showing up every day and doing the work. It for the same reason that you go, “Oh I want to lose weight,” it’s like well, just eat less food and move more. Oh, that’s all it took. It’s not like you don’t know how to solve this problem. It’s like you don’t know how to write a book, show up and write enough words, and eventually it’s done. That’s the ‘How’. You’ve got to get the ‘Why’, and the ‘Why’ is a big idea. Most people have a good idea for a book, and good ideas make for bad books, because good ideas are average, good ideas are ordinary, and I tell you a good idea, and you go, “That’s a good idea.” They’re forgettable. What you want is a big idea. A big idea is interesting, in that it attacks what an audience takes for granted. It is a subversion of the status quo.

So how do I write books?

I look at the world and think about something that bothers me. I look at my industry and go, where are people lying right now? And how do I call that out? I think of a story that won’t leave me alone that needs to be told, and then I go, “What do people assume is true about this? And what’s actually true?” What can I say that’s going to change the way people think about something because I don’t want to do work that doesn’t in some way transform the way human beings interact with a particular topic. That could be sales, marketing, food service, storytelling, creativity, but that’s why I’m here to change things, that may not be why you’re here, anybody else’s here. But if you want to not just write a book, but actually create change, then you’ve got to solve a problem, and the way that you solve a problem is not how most people set up, solve a problem. Here’s the problem. Here’s the solution. Nobody wants to pay attention to that. You go, here’s the problem. Here’s how most people try to solve the problem. Here’s why it doesn’t work. Here’s what the world would look like if we could solve this problem.

Now here’s how to solve the problem, and then this is the next step, walk through those questions, what’s the problem? How do most people solve the try to solve the problem? That doesn’t work? What would the world look like if we could solve this problem? How did you solve the problem? And then what’s the next step in the process? Do that, now you’ve got a big idea, and maybe it’s a book, maybe it’s not, maybe it’s a podcast, or project or business. But don’t set out to write a book set out to come up with a big idea, and then if you can get that, then it’s just a question of, well, I’ve got to schedule 30 minutes a day to write 500 words, and the word count goal is going to be 50,000 words, and it’ll be done in three or four months, and we’ll go from there. But you need a big idea.

Allison:  As with anything, I think the goal has to be the big idea always. You have an excellent blog, and you also have a phenomenal podcast. Just for my listeners, I just want to make sure you can find out both of those @goinswriter.com. Is there a particular episode that you would like to point our listeners, anything that’s specifically on business leadership, that would be an episode or 2 that you’d like to suggest we tap into?

Jeff: I don’t remember what number it is. I’ll pulled up. But I don’t remember what it is. I wrote an article a few years ago, where I accomplished every goal I ever wanted, made a million dollars, published best-selling book, hit every bestseller, did all the things that I thought I wanted to do, and I was depressed. It didn’t feel the way I thought it would feel, and so I did a podcast, I got everything that I wanted, and it didn’t make me happy, and that resonated with a lot of people, and then a year or so later, I wrote another piece and recorded kind of an audio essay for it called the most transformative year of my life had nothing to do with success.

I think to this day, it has nothing to do with a lot of the things that I typically talk about writing creativity, marketing business. But it spoke to the reasons why I was pursuing the goals that I was pursuing. The anks that I felt because I wasn’t chasing those things for the reasons that I thought I was, and I think anybody who pursues success has these questions at some point or another, and I think whatever you want to do, for whatever reason you want to do it is fine but know why, and this is my confession of that breaking that process down. So you got a goinswriter.com/transformative. There’s a podcast and an essay that I wrote about my experience of spending a year asking the hard questions and coming out of that into what I consider deeper, better, more meaningful and more successful work.

Allison:  We’ll make sure that I include that in our show notes. Jeff, I can’t thank you enough for your energy, your enthusiasm, and obviously your time today. So thank you very much for joining us here.

Jeff: My pleasure. Thanks, Allison.

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