MDH 65 | Empathy

MDH 65 | Empathy


It’s easy to talk about buzzwords like motivation and resilience, but without proper action steps, they are fruitless. Joining Victoria Wieck is Asia’s #1 Business Coach, Daniel Tolson. In this episode, Daniel defines emotional intelligence and empathy and their impact on sales. He also breaks down the four fears business owners have that hinder them from success and counters them with tips to help you overcome and deliver. Plus, Daniel shares actionable, achievable goals to help you translate emotional intelligence and motivation into your life. Get a look into Daniel’s inspiring journey from overcoming learning disabilities to now helping others succeed by tuning in.

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Daniel Tolson On Emotional Intelligence, Empathy, And Overcoming Fear in Sales

I’m so excited to share this time with you with an amazing business coach. In fact, he is Asia’s number one business coach specializing in emotional intelligence. Ladies and gentlemen, can we all agree that we all need more emotional intelligence? The world would be a better place if we all exercised more emotional intelligence. I want to introduce you to Daniel Tolson. I’m going to have him explain a little bit about himself and his amazing journey. This is where I’m going to have him speak to you about it directly. He has an amazing story that’s very powerful. Daniel, welcome to the show.

Thank you for having me here. It’s a great pleasure.

Tell my audience a little bit about your journey and specifically all of the learning disabilities, fear, and limiting beliefs that you have had to overcome yourself, which has fueled your passion for helping other people overcome similar obstacles. Tell me a little bit about yourself.

I remember running at school in the school carnivals. I will be running, and my knees will collapse. My mom would be saying, “Daniel, what is going on?” I said, “I don’t know. My legs collapsed.” At age eleven, one day, I came home. I stood in front of my mom at home, and my whole body collapsed. She said, “Daniel, it was like a bag of bones on the ground. You collapsed. We started to get some medical treatment. We noticed that your hips are out of alignment. Your spine and neck were twisted. They discovered the platelets in the cranium were pushing down on the left and right hemispheres of the brain. That was giving you all those constant nosebleeds that you had.”

As I started to do these checkups, they realized that I was visually impaired. Albeit I had a 20/20 vision, I still couldn’t see properly. I was going for music lessons and constantly make mistakes playing the guitar. I was repeating mistakes over and over again. They realized I was tone-deaf. I’ve got diagnosed with a linear sequential learning disability. It was one of these interesting disabilities where you could see everything on the blackboard at school but when you write it down, nothing matched on the paper. When I would read what was on my paper, it was all jumbled up.

I could remember the kids laughing at me, and the teachers started to think, “Maybe there’s something wrong.” The teachers did some work with me, and then I was diagnosed with a linear sequential learning disability. For five years, I sat in remedial therapy. I remember going to one special school. They sent me down with a big piece of butcher’s paper. I was probably about twelve. All the other kids were about age five. I knew there was something wrong.

All I had to do in this room was to draw a figure eight on a piece of paper. By doing this, it was supposed to be re-aligning the left and right hemispheres of the brain. I was doing that, and this went on for five years. After five years of remedial therapy, I’ve got Epstein-Barr Virus, chronic fatigue, and teenage chickenpox. I dropped out of school and never finished school. In the following two years, I had reconstructive knee surgeries. The first nineteen years of my life were a mess.

MDH 65 | Empathy

Empathy: Once you figure out what doesn’t work, you find the one thing that works, and you start to put all of your energy into that. That’s why you need the resiliency because you’re going to fail a lot, and you’ve got to keep getting up. You just can’t stop.


That’s what makes it amazing because most people could have and would have given up. It would have been so tempting and easy to limit yourself and say, “It’s because I have physical limitations, and I can’t think clearly. It’s because something is wrong with my brain. I was medically diagnosed. I’m doing the best I can. I’m doing great for people that are disabled.” It wasn’t enough for you. You decided that nothing was going to stop you, and you were still going to find your maximum potential.

You found a formula that worked. I’m sure that there were a lot of professionals that helped you along the way. If you, the patient, aren’t willing to work with that and experiment and be constantly in search of excellence, you wouldn’t have come to where you are now. The word emotional intelligence is something that seems to be a lot of people are now using as buzzwords. In your opinion, what is it? Why do we need it? How does it help you get ahead in life?

It’s a buzzword, and people throw it around. We’ve got to get back to the roots of it. It’s being street-smart. That’s what it is. My parents were pawnbrokers. They bought and sold secondhand goods. We used to buy and sell secondhand jewelry. My parents were not formally educated. My father was a farmer. My mother was a hairdresser. They were street-smart. They could read people. They also knew their strengths and weaknesses. When we look at emotional intelligence, it’s being street-smart. We can use that intelligence in business and get rewarded for it.

Dr. Daniel Goleman said, “Emotional intelligence contributes to 58% of your success in your daily life. It’s a huge contributor to success.” When we look at somebody who is confident, confidence is a part of emotional intelligence. Imagine trying to do a business, and you lacked confidence. Imagine trying to do a business, and you don’t believe in yourself, and you are comparing yourself to other people.

What happens is you feel worthless. You don’t feel that you deserve the good things, so you don’t take action. The first part of emotional intelligence is that self-awareness, “Who am I? What are my strengths? What are my limitations?” Instead of focusing on what is wrong with you, you focus on your strengths. What we say is, “What you focus on grows.” You focus on your strengths and apply to them. That’s where you start to grow your business around that strength.

That’s interesting because you say that something like 58% of your emotional intelligence is directly responsible for your success. I would argue that’s 80%. I have a Master’s degree and all that, which I don’t use. Thank God. I had to unlearn how to do that. When you say the word street-smart, how do people get street-smart? In my opinion, it’s people that have a pulse on other people’s emotions.

If you look at a customer and you are going on about something, and your customer is staring at you like blank-stare, somebody who is street-smart is going to go, “I have lost this person. I need to get back on track.” Where somebody with a PhD in Communications might go, “I’m doing fine. This person doesn’t understand. They don’t realize that the customer is what matters to you.”

If there is no empathy, there is no sale. People are 100% emotional when it comes to purchasing.

I tell people in marketing, “If you can’t convince a fifth-grader, then you have lost it. The fancier words you use, somebody you are talking to is either confused or they have to look up a word in the dictionary, that’s each and every opportunity to lose a customer for good. If they don’t understand you, they are not going to buy anything from you.”

Street smart is having a pulse and understanding how to read body language. It understands when I say, “Daniel, welcome.” We shake hands, and everything is great. All of a sudden, he started staring at you. You know he is either confused or he doesn’t like what you are saying. He is not interested or something else is distracting him. You don’t have his attention. You’ve got to do something right.

A street-smart person would be pivoting and thinking about, “When was the last time he was smiling at me? When was the last time he seemed so excited?” and you want to go back. On TV, we do this all the time. We have to read the screen. The host is talking in your ear like, “When you set a soccer mom, all the phone lines in California went through the roof.” I would pivot, “When I took my daughter to the soccer games, you keep on doing this.”

Street-smart is not something you have to go get a degree on. It’s caring more about people and understanding your plan. That’s an important part. I don’t have any problems with people who have all these academic degrees. A lot of times, when you get that, you hide behind those papers, certificates or whatever you’ve got thinking that you are on a higher-playing ground or that what you are saying is intelligent. I feel like some people lose something in the process of getting all those degrees.

What you are talking about is empathy. Empathy is the ability to read other people’s emotional makeup. That comes through sensory acuity. I will unpack what you are saying. You have heard the voice in your ear. It’s soccer moms. A lot of people hear soccer moms. It will go in one ear and out the other but you’ve got that sensory awareness to say, “This is emotionally interesting to people.” You focus on that. Also, it’s hearing that and saying, “This is important to others.”

What people don’t understand about empathy is that if there is no empathy, there are no sales. People are 100% emotional when it comes to purchasing. We become logical in the left brain, and we make the decision in the right brain. When you find those little things, you drill down into them. It’s like following that seam of gold. It might only be an inch wide but it could go a mile-deep into the Earth.

Daniel has written a few books. My favorite is the Mental Detox. He has another book called How To Win a Sales Now. They go both hand-in-hand. A lot of people who teach you how to gain sales will teach you all these manipulation tactics on digital media, digital space, or all the marketing buzzwords. Whenever you are doing marketing campaigns, even advertising or giving a speech, when you don’t have empathy, and you are not authentic, it shows through. Believe me. Those people that are buying from you know when you are full of BS, and you have never cared about anybody. If you learn all these buzzwords, they know.

MDH 65 | Empathy

Empathy: If we’re optimistic about our future and believe in what we can achieve, we become more resilient.


If people don’t like and trust you and don’t think that you care about them, they are not going to buy anything. In America, we have a 30-day money-back guarantee for everything. You are not going to do it. It’s caring about what other people think and always having that pulse. It’s caring enough to know their temperature when they are angry, starving or confused. What you are asking is to invest time to understand that.

In that sense, people like you and me with learning disabilities had to work extra hard. Back then, in the 1970s, when I left, we were second-class citizens to men. I watched my mom watch body language in a room. I watched my mom and grandmother not only pay attention to what was said in the room but also what was left unsaid in the room. Between that and my learning disability, I’ve got pretty good at being quiet and a great active listener.

That’s something that our society needs more than ever before. Daniel, let me get back to overcoming fear, the lack of confidence, and courage. It’s all these things that limit not only your beliefs and performance but also your potential. Give me 2 or 3 tips on how we can handle this. You could go to Daniel’s website. It’s Share with us a few nuggets here.

The first step is self-awareness. Self-awareness is being able to name the fear that you are experiencing. We say, “If you can’t name it, you can’t tame it.” There are four fears that are going to be triggered when you start your business. The first one is the fear of being taken advantage of. If you are experiencing the fear of being taken advantage of, you won’t be asking for help. You will hear messages from experts and authorities. You won’t ask for help because you are afraid of being taken advantage of.

The second one is you will feel the fear of rejection. Rejection comes when you are about to stand up, pitch your product and service. You will say, “I don’t want people to disagree with me and say no.” You experience that fear of rejection. Thirdly, it’s the fear of losing your stability. Many people who have got a side hustle are afraid to go all-in because they say, “What if I try then lose my financial stability?” They get stuck in their comfort zone.

The fourth one is the fear of trying and then making a mistake. They say, “What if I try and make a mistake? What will people think of me if I have a temporary failure? My whole world is going to fall apart.” The first part is self-awareness. The second part is being able to regulate these fears. That’s the key thing. When it comes to regulation, one fear that’s triggered can impact your performance for four hours. You may get the fear you triggered, and then for the following four hours, you are like a deer in the headlights. You have frozen and you are not productive. All business virtually stops.

Thirdly, you need to have resiliency. In business, you are going to fall over many times. The majority of the things that you do are never going to work but I can promise you that 1 thing out of 100 that you do will pay back so handsomely. It’s like you’ve got more than half a billion dollars in sales. I bet the majority of things at the start didn’t work.

If you can’t name it, you can’t tame it.

Eventually, once you figure out what doesn’t work, you find the one thing that does work, and you start to put all of your energy into that. That’s why you need resiliency because you are going to fail a lot, and you’ve got to keep getting up. You can’t stop. You’ve got to keep moving forward. Those are the three things. It’s self-awareness, self-regulation, and motivation.

Here is the thing. Of the things you named, self-awareness, as hard as it sounds, it’s probably one that most people don’t have a problem coming up with. In fact, they are going to come up with too many things that they are aware of, “I can’t sell. I’m not a salesperson. I’m not good at accounting.” There are all these things that they can’t do. Of all those, resilience and motivation are the two things that consistently people have problems dealing with.

In the first few years, I would send out 50 letters that were manually typed. This was before computer days. I would send out 50 letters every single day. The conversion rate was at 10%. At that time, they were telling me, “You are lucky if you get 10% of the people to respond and 90% of the people who respond will respond with no.” Your conversion rate of getting a maybe or yes was at 2%. It was very low.

If you look at someone like Michael Jordan or you can take LeBron James even. I’m not a basketball fan. I don’t even understand it. Whenever you do watch him play, every other shot, they don’t make it. They are not making 90% of their shots. They are making 30% of their shots. If you think about that, they are the best. Can you imagine the professional basketball players who are not legacy names? They are missing 60% to 70% of their shots.

Someone like Michael Jordan is given a lot of the Hail-Mary shots when the clock is winding down. They’ve got no shot at all. He is making whatever. That’s similar to our business environment. A lot of the stuff that we do are Hail Mary. Do you see somebody like Babe Ruth? When you read his stories, he was batting 400 or 500. That means 5 or 6 times out of 10, he was missing as well. They have made such a name. Don’t be afraid when you fail and when something doesn’t work out.

Rejection is feedback. What I do always is to ask people, “Thank you so much for writing back to me because most people never take the time to read my letter. Of the people that read my letter, very few people take the time to tell me no. Thank you so much for even doing that. If I can indulge you a little bit about why you don’t want it, is it too expensive? If there is any feedback you can give me, I will be so blessed. You don’t have to buy a thing from me.”

When they give you that feedback, you incorporate that. You can go back months from now. You can go use it with other pitches because they are giving you some good feedback. That’s how I’ve got my business started. The resilience factor doesn’t just mean that you have to have thick skin. It means that you’ve got to make that commitment no matter what. Don’t let those temporary rejections and failures or whatever outcome that you didn’t get to set you back because you’ve got to stick to it.

MDH 65 | Empathy

Free Drugs for Entrepreneurs

I listened to Denzel Washington when he gave a commemoration speech at graduation. It was such a befitting thing that he was giving this speech at that very stage that he had assumed was going to be his last audition. He said, “I have been going to audition after audition forever. I’ve never even got a one-liner.” People said, “You are not a good fit.” He said, “I had booked this audition.” He realized for the audition before that, that he was never going to be a good actor. He was never going to get a break.

He said, “I gave my word that I’m going to come to the audition, and there were people waiting for me. I will give my best and let it be. I’m going to go and be a taxi driver or whatever life has waiting for me.” That’s the one he got a breakthrough role. He said, “Had I quit the day before or had I not shown up to this one because I was disappointed, there would be no Denzel Washington.”

He was giving that speech at that very auditorium that he was not going to show up to. He showed up to this one. Resilience is a huge thing. The last thing is motivation. I don’t know about you. I’m going to ask you a little bit about this now. You are suffering from anxiety with all the fears and everything else and then something doesn’t work. You are like, “Everything I fear came true.” It’s so easy to do.

If you are lucky enough to have a wife, son, friend or colleague and say, “Daniel, that’s not true. Look at what you have all accomplished so far. You didn’t get exactly what you wanted but look at all the stuff that you learned. You’ve got to keep going.” You keep going, and then the second time something doesn’t work, that definitely gives up. You don’t even ask anybody. That’s what I see a lot, especially with Millennials. They don’t have patience, resilience, commitment or persistence. How would you advise someone on the best way to motivate themselves in that situation?

I wrote a book called Free Drugs for Entrepreneurs. Free Drugs was all about releasing this competitive advantage in your body. The first thing about motivation is our goals are in the future. We are going to spend the rest of our life in the future. If we are optimistic about our future and believe within ourselves what we can achieve, then we become more resilient. There are a couple of things we’ve got to do. The first one is we have to set a goal. That goal has to be realistic for us.

If you have a goal that is totally unrealistic for you, then your subconscious mind says, “This is not true. I reject it.” You will cause fears, doubts, and limiting beliefs within yourself. We say, “Inch by inch, it’s a cinch. By the yard, it’s hard.” Have a big vision but have goals that are achievable. When you set a goal, you get dopamine. Dopamine floods through the body, and it gets you excited. It’s that thrill of the chase. You haven’t started yet, but you get excited. Secondly, you take one step towards that goal, and the body releases adrenaline. The heart starts to pump, and you get excited. Once you achieve a little win or one small step, and you succeed there, the brain releases serotonin. That is nature’s happy drug.

Once you’ve got these three neurotransmitters and positive chemicals in your body, dopamine, adrenaline, and serotonin, you can’t feel depressed and anxious. Your enthusiasm levels start to rise and you say, “If I can take that, I can take the next step.” It’s one step at a time. If you can do those one steps, then you will keep that motivation. It’s not just it’s going to stick around for a day. It stays around for weeks, months, and years. That’s a competitive advantage.

You have unlimited potential. You can do more than you ever thought you could.  

What you are saying is to take that next measurable step, and then it’s a cumulative effect of training your body to release happy chemicals it uses on its own. I enjoyed our conversation. You brought some incredible knowledge. A lot of times, when we talk about things like emotional intelligence, motivation, and resilience, these are very vague words. A lot of people don’t use it. I’m sick and tired of listening about motivation, inspiration, encouragement, empowerment, and all this stuff.

If they are not matched up with action and goals that are achievable, then they just become words. They don’t transform your life and your way of thinking. You can’t then impact other people, which is depressing because you are working pretty hard to do that. I appreciate all the knowledge that you shared. For any young entrepreneurs, would you like to say 1 or 2 words that are key to how they would succeed that you haven’t discussed before? It’s a little tip if you want to leave with the parting.

You are so much more than you think you are. Your DNA is what you are made of. If you could stretch it out from where you are, it would reach the sun and back 300 times. You have unlimited potential, and you can do more than you ever thought you could.

I completely agree with you on that, whether you are talking about Elon Musk, Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos, each person came to Earth, born with the potential to be whoever they wanted to be. Some of us have it easier than others. The other thing that you and I didn’t discuss and that we probably would agree on is the quality of life that we desire too by doing this right. It’s not just grinding it out all the time pointlessly.

Ultimately, all the entrepreneurs want freedom from our horrible bosses. We want freedom from feeling like a slave to a paycheck. We want to be able to live our life the way we design. Thank you so much for coming. Once again, would you tell us how the audience can reach you and all the freebies that you offer on your website?

Come and play. My website is There are a ton of resources. There are my free books, Mental Detox and How To Win Sales Now. Set that goal. There are a lot of free webinars and training also, so you can develop your emotional intelligence.

Thank you so much for joining me here and coming to the show. For all of you reading, I always say, “Be happy. Happiness is your choice.” I hope you make great choices. Have a wonderful week.


Important Links


About Daniel Tolson

MDH 65 | EmpathyI am a former Australian Champion Athlete. I co-lead a team of more than 17,000 Cabin Crew and currently serves as a consultant to more than 17,500 business people globally.
With more than 6,500 case studies into the science of Emotional Intelligence I am considered as one of the worlds leading business coaches specialising in emotional intelligence.
I show people how to become successful, by providing scientific and evidence based methods on how to catapult your influence, accelerate your impact and unleash new income levels.
MDH 49 Mike Kavanagh | Coach’s Plan

MDH 49 Mike Kavanagh | Coach’s Plan


Most humans are, well, human. People’s productivity tends to ebb and flow with their motivation levels. Their ability to implement and stick with personal habit changes is as variable as their shifting moods. So how do you get people motivated? We answer these questions and more in this episode as Victoria Wieck talks to best-selling author, mental training and performance specialist, and business strategy consultant Mike Kavanagh. Mike discusses why people lose their motivation to work and how they can go around maintaining balance in life. Do you frequently fall victim to the villain we all know as procrastination? Perhaps you need to implement the Coach’s Plan. Curious? Tune in for more and be inspired.

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Coach’s Plan: How To Keep Your Motivation Levels High With Mike Kavanagh

In this episode, we have Mike Kavanagh, who has been coaching for a while. He’s also the author of several books and one of those books is called What Is Your Calling? If you read my show week after week, you’ll know that it’s something close to my heart. He has a book called Coach’s Plan. He’s a successful manager and also a podcaster. His podcast is called Fueled By Impact. Without further ado, I wanted to introduce you to Mike and welcome him to the show so he can share all of his wisdom and passion here as well. Welcome to the show, Mike.

Thank you for having me. It’s an honor to be here.

Thank you for agreeing to spend this time with my audience. Give me a little bit of your backstory because what you’re doing is a culmination of your entire life’s journey. I wanted to add a little context. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what got you here.

I left a graduate school program and got into the business. I started off doing management consulting. What happened was I very quickly was thrown into situations where I was able to advise senior leaders of very large companies on very big issues. It gave me a big exposure at a very young age, got thrown into some very unusual situations for somebody in their mid-twenties. In some regards, that almost catapults it. That was my business school.

You have your MBA background. My MBA came from this experience. I did that work for probably about a decade and then got wooed over to the corporate leadership side. I worked in a variety of different corporate leadership roles, including as a C-level executive leading product development and strategy for a large manufacturing company.

Throughout that whole time, on the side, I was nurturing these passions. I enjoyed a lot of what I did but I also felt like I was getting pulled in the direction. There was a lot of momentum of these opportunities would come my way and I would say yes to them, even though there was this other part of me that I wasn’t necessarily cultivating or nurturing as much.

I was doing that more as a side hobby, which was all-around mind, body, performance and wellbeing. That was a big interest for me, everything from meditation. I teach meditation, breathwork and fitness. I was doing a small amount of coaching and that work on the side while my day job was senior leadership in Corporate America.

I was primed and ready for a change but the change happened to me. The company that I was working for went through a leadership shakeup. Private equity bought the company. There was a new leadership team put in place. I was let go. For me, that was the moment where I was like, “If not now, when?” Since then, I’ve been doing what I love, including writing a book that’s very personal about helping people find their calling and find work that they love because that was a struggle for me over the years.

It’s great to have an expert come in and help you every now and then, but most of the time, if you did everything you knew you should do, you would be in an incredible position.

First of all, in your little intro, you have gone through what you thought at the time was a great career. You thought, “This was a great career. I was so fortunate to be leading this C-suite leader and all of this stuff.” In the beginning, you think this was a great thing. You have the real passion, which is about aligning your mind to body and how that impacts your overall performance as a human being and in a corporate world. You weren’t free to exercise that passion.

I’ve traveled probably about 50 countries, which is a very significant part of the world. In America, we tend to compartmentalize a lot. We tend to go, “This is my work self. This is when I come home. This is when I become a dad. This is my time.” When in fact you, as a person don’t change through all those things. You could be that whole amazing dad, inspiration, motivator, leader and worker. All of that is in one being.

I’m not sure if we’re out of COVID yet or not but having gone through 2020, it seems like we’re living with that. The world has woken up to think about how much we are impacted by our health and the health of our coworkers, their children and society as a whole. That health means both physical health and mind. You are ahead of your time on that.

Let’s talk a little bit about what your calling is because here’s another place where you and I are completely aligned on our belief system that we all have a calling. You may not realize it. You may think that calling came masked and disguised as it becoming a great senior vice president of some company that you don’t connect to. Tell me a little bit about the book and why you wrote the book.

It was ten years in the making because there was a point along my journey where I started reaching out to people who are doing some of the things that I wanted to make more a part of my livelihood. I went through some periods where I felt like my mental health and overall wellbeing were at an all-time low. It manifested in some lack of health in various ways because I felt like these two things weren’t aligned in terms of livelihood and who I was as a person. It didn’t feel authentic to me. That is a hard place to be. A lot of people find themselves in that place.

I started reaching out to people who had taken a risk, people who are freelance artists, living their passion. I asked them, “Can I write about you because one of my passions is writing?” I started a blog and profiled these people on that blog. I knew that there was more there that needed to be told. When I was laid off, I went through a real soul-searching period to say, “What is my reason for being here? What brings me purpose and passion? What would I truly love and enjoy?”

I saw that process that I went through, which had didn’t happen at that time but had been building that point. It was something that I felt like more people could be going through. If they had a little bit of guidance then perhaps, they’d be asking themselves these bigger questions and might be willing to take that risk. I wanted to help be that catalyst for people who felt like I did.

The book is trying to be almost an end-to-end view of how you go from discovering what it is whether it’s your calling or something that you feel a sense of passion around if you don’t know what that is through to how you take the risk and go for it, including some of these profiles of people who have to live the path.

MDH 49 Mike Kavanagh | Coach’s Plan

What Is Your Calling?: The Journey to Find Work You Love

For those of you who are reading, I would go ahead and encourage you to find this book called What Is Your Calling?: The Journey to Find Work You Love. That’s the complete title and the subtitle of the book. It’s a real low investment financially but it’s also a good read. We all have a calling and very few people are ever fortunate enough to discover the calling and even fewer people die without ever knowing what that is. Especially during this COVID time, when you are shifting priorities to figure out, “Who are the people that are going to have my back? Who are the people that are going to be here if I ever get COVID?” I’m sure most of you have thought these things through so try to discover your calling.

I came from a very humble background. My parents came here with $30. When you have nothing, maybe you’ll find bankruptcy, go through a divorce or get laid off like Mike has, whatever it is, in those times, you have to think about what is the purpose of your life? If you can sit there and complain about, “My horrible boss laid me off. This corporation wanted to make more money so they’ll replace all of us who are experienced with college graduates,” you have time to figure out what your purpose in life is. That time could be 30 minutes, 60 minutes or 15 minutes a day. Pick up the book and it all enriches your life multifold.

You’ve got the successful manager and your book, which is called a Coach’s Plan. I’m interested in the book because, at this point, you are coaching other people. With your first book, you’re asking them to discover their passion and purpose and how you then take a reasonable risk. We’re not saying you should take a leap of faith or jump in the pool to find that if you can swim. Check out the lay of the land, how you fit in that and take that risk. In Coach’s Plan, you’re teaching people how to be productive on your own, for yourself and for the people that you’re responsible for. Tell me a little bit about that book.

Maybe I’ll tell you how it came about because I’m probably picking up on a theme where my books are largely solving problems that in my life, I felt like maybe I had something to share.

That’s the best thing. A lot of people who coach have never lived their life. They’ve never lived the pain or experienced any of it. I’ve known a lot of coaches who’ve always been coached. They were told by a coach and they coached. A lot of my professors in school are still teaching professorship and primarily the same things that they taught years ago to me, which were already outdated then. You think about that. The fact that you are writing books from your heart, based on your personal life experiences and what you have seen, the commonality between your experience versus a lot of other people, that’s the best way to impact people.

It’s funny because part of my background and the thing that I’m trying to encourage people to do has to do with mind, body, health and wellbeing. I’m on this mission in one avenue in my life to try to bring that into more of the business world, whether that’s entrepreneurs taking better care of themselves, leaders, people in corporate roles, recognizing that, “If I’m going to do that job well, have a good life and enjoy myself then I need to see how all of these different things feed into me showing up as my best self.” That was something that I had been helping people within various forms in terms of teaching meditation, fitness and trying to coach people within the corporate context.

I went through my transition where I was getting started on more of an entrepreneurial. In my case, starting as the one-man show. I had a real hard time. I’m a hard worker and normally don’t struggle with some of the things that I found myself struggling with. There were a lot of factors involved, as there always are. We have a new baby in the house and the pandemic. When you look at it, it always boils down to mindset in some way. I felt almost like it was a very humbling experience and maybe even a little awkward because you’re trying to help other people and be an inspiration or a motivation to them, yet you’re falling off the wagon right and left. That was how it was for me.

Even productivity-wise, what was happening was I was working a lot of hours but I wasn’t getting the results but more so, it was that I could tell I wasn’t doing the hard things. I was avoiding the uncomfortable things. I was filling my time but it wasn’t the level of productivity I needed. It certainly wasn’t the level of productivity to have a balanced life where you and I share the same interest. I’m a father of two kids. I don’t want to be the guy that burns the candle at both ends, doesn’t have time for my family, all that. I was like, “How can I solve this problem?” This light bulb went off for me.

Sometimes, it’s helpful to take a moment, take a step back and ask yourself, “why am I doing this now? Why am I leading things this certain way?”

I talk about it in the book. It’s a short book. It’ll take an hour to read. The audiobook will be out soon and it’s very short. It was, “Here’s how I solved this problem,” which became the system called Coach’s Plan. The realization was we’re all this inner ball of conflicts. There’s you at night and you the next morning. There’s you who says, “I’m going to start the diet tomorrow. I’m going to make those tough calls tomorrow.” Then tomorrow rolls around and it’s a different you who shows up. What I started to realize is, “If I treated myself where I was the coach and the coachee, all of a sudden, this entire system emerged from that of how I could craft a plan that I could then follow that freed me to be extremely productive.”

I didn’t even think it was going to work but I tried it because it was like, “Nothing else is working now.” Soon I noticed that not only was I doing much better concerning my days were mapped out, I was tackling the hard things but I was also starting to do other things like habit changes. Things that had come very difficult in the past were starting to become easy things for me to throw into Coach’s Plan.

To be clear, Coach’s Plan is not me telling anybody what to do. In Coach’s Plan, you’re the coach. This whole thing is how do you find the way to bring this coaching aspect of yourself but translate it into actual action and results in your life. I discovered a system that works for me that I’ve got to imagine there are other people out there who are like me who might be able to find some benefit from trying this approach as well.

Do you play golf or tennis?

I play tennis and I’m a terrible golfer.

My kids played USTA competitive tennis. There were nationally ranked kids. I’m not good at tennis but one of the things I did was I spent unlimited time with them while they were awake. All of their tennis lessons, I sat, watching the kids being coached. They’re in the warmup and they’re great. All their shots beforehand, the backend, everything went great. When the kids were playing national-level competition, there was a lot of other great kids. All of a sudden, my daughter wouldn’t get a serve. Nothing goes in.

The parents can’t coach them when they’re on but in between one match, if they survive it, even at the junior level, the mom can teach them what they’re doing wrong. I asked how the coach how and he said, “If all the balls are going beyond the service line, that means they’re not rotating. If you have to toss the ball one way or the other, make them feel like they’re rotating it.” They taught me all the ways to be a guide sitting next to them.

It’s interesting because what you’re describing is doing that, giving somebody the framework where they could assess their little problems. If these four things consistently happen, you got to fix this. That’s great. When you were talking about productivity, entrepreneurs and C-suite leaders suffer from this as well.

MDH 49 Mike Kavanagh | Coach’s Plan

Coach’s Plan: The Personal Productivity System That Changed My Life

If you ask entrepreneurs like, “Why did you start a business?” They will tell you they want freedom, emotional freedom, financial freedom, be the boss and dictate their own time, yet they’re working probably twice as many hours as to when they were working in a corporate world. They’re making less money and have quadruple the stress level of dealing with the finances. It could be almost like a vicious cycle where they feel like the more hours they work, the more money they make so they feel guilty after taking time off.

Even when they are spending time with their son or daughter, they’re 4 or 5 years old at a soccer field, you’re like, “I got to get to this phone call.” If you can discipline yourself to be productive, have the hours that you do work by tackling things that are uncomfortable for you. Most of us come to work. I got up and kid you not, I had about 200 emails but 60 of them had to be answered. If you write down all the things you have to do, leaders in the corporate world and maybe not even leaders but anybody in the corporate world, go to the easiest things to check off first because they feel like, “At least, I can get rid half of them out of my calendar.”

As an entrepreneur or a C-suite leader, you got two types of decisions. One type is where you bet the farm, go all in and it can make or break you. The other type is, do we go with this advertising or that advertising? Do we want that color or another color? Do I want to have a meeting at 3:00 or 5:00? None of these things will make a huge difference in your life. You don’t even have to make those decisions. One of those things is you have to figure out what are the things that have to be tackled that day.

Those things you have to work on it, even if it’s uncomfortable because the more you do it, the easier it becomes but if you never tackle it, the mantra becomes bigger. If you don’t even touch it, you will hire somebody later on the road. First some amount of money then they don’t know what to do and make mistakes. You eventually end up tackling it yourself.

I love the Coach’s Plan, which is not for coaches but for all of you to coach yourself. If you had a coach, what would that plan be for you? You know yourself better. I went through all the different tennis coaches with the kids. You know your kids and yourself. Both of my kids played national-level tennis and play a completely different style of tennis. They’re both good. There’s no right or wrong. I like that you have this framework there.

In terms of mind and body, I am a firm believer in that. My father was an acupuncturist. I come from an Asian culture where everything is always connected. When I used to first preach that like yoga, meditation, all of that, people used to think I was crazy years ago. They used to think like, “That’s a coo-coo, earthy tree hugger.” They used to call me whatever they want it. I’ve been called the worst. Your brain is not disconnected from your body. Your brain is a muscle. The more aligned your mind and body is, the more productive you’re going to be.

Talking about productivity, if you are sleep-deprived, staying up at night at 2:00 because you’re worried about something, don’t get to sleep back because you’ve filled out at 4:00 and have the first call at 6:00, the quality of your time the next day decreases hugely when you can hardly think. How can you think with clarity?

That mind-body alignment is one of the critical facets of success. When I was in the corporate world, I used to say to somebody, “How are you?” She would say, “Do I look sick?” She meant it because people have said, “Are you well?” That can’t start your day well. The first thing is I go, “Do I look sick?” This mind and body is the key thing. You go even further than that. You do not only the meditation mind and body connection but you’re also coaching people how to stay fit.

Everything that you are doing, the deepest why behind that, always comes back to either a sense of happiness, contentment, or fulfillment that you’re seeking.

I’m not talking about necessarily weight loss but I’ve been at times where I was more fit than other times. When you’re more fit, you have more energy and are optimistic about things. You feel like you can tackle more things and go the next ten hours but you don’t need to. Give me a quick few tips on how you execute the mind-body alignment?

For everybody sometimes the place to start could be a little different depending on where you tend to focus and what already is working for you. You spoke about the fact of sleep. We all know that all this stuff is interconnected. The only thing that is out of balance ends up having this cascading effect on a lot of other things. Over the years, I used to be much more because I got a lot of my start in fitness and meditation. I was like, “It’s all these two things.” That’s what it’s about.

I realize many years later that almost anything impacts your energy level and inner sense of wellbeing. That could be things around your relationships, work or sense of meaning or purpose that comes from work. All these different things feed into how you’re living your day. Are you enjoying yourself and feeling your best?

I have all of these tools and techniques that I’ve trained in over the years whether it’s meditation, breathwork or heart rate variability. To me, it’s a toolkit that you can pluck out whatever works the best for you that allows you to find and hone that sense of balance and energy that is going to allow you to feel your best, which ends up translating into performing your best. I believe that most people know. It’s great to have an expert come in and help you but most of the time, if you did everything you know and do, you’re in an incredible position.

The question a lot of times ends up becoming, “Can I take an honest look and say, ‘What am I not doing? Why?’” This comes back to then focusing more of your energy on training, what I might call the meta-skills. Training yourself in how to become better and personal change is more important than implementing one specific personal change.

If I’m doing a workshop for a team in a corporate environment, I’m focused much more on, “Let’s zero in on those meta-skills. Train your mind training and ability.” Coach’s Plan is an example of a way to almost hack yourself so that you get better at personal change. Therefore, you’re armed to say, “I want to make a nutrition change and incorporate more exercise or yoga in my life. I’m going to follow through with it.” That’s been a lot of my mentality. It’s shifted, as you can tell, from where I began to how I see things.

When I want to do something and somebody says to me, for example. “I don’t like pita. I felt like it’s very greasy. It’s something I’ve never going to like.” If you told me tomorrow, “You could do whatever you want to do but except eat pita,” that’s all I’m going to want to eat. I don’t know why. That’s how your mind works. The other thing that’s astonishing too is a lot of times when you look at a fitness person who focused on fitness, they’re talking about cardio and pumping iron. They’re not necessarily talking about yoga or meditation.

The goal is to develop tools to implement personal change. That personal change is different from person to person. Everybody has different goals, body types, situations and amount of time that they can spend. You’re giving everybody a preview of all the different tools there. If somebody needs a kitchen knife, food processor or a different tool, you are sitting there going, “Here’s the best knife. Here’s the best whatever.” Those are all the different tools and they can figure out what’s going to work best for them.

MDH 49 Mike Kavanagh | Coach’s Plan

Coach’s Plan: “If not now, when? Am I living my life in a way that is both bringing the greatest sense of joy, love, and fulfillment for me personally as well as for the people I touch, help serve, or have an impact on in the world?”


I agree with you that most people know what’s good for them. Most people have the wisdom to understand what they need to do. Somehow they get all motivated. They have all these tools but have a tough time making that first step. It’s having somebody like you there as an example because you went through all this. Also, bring out with your blog all the other people who’ve gone through a similar change.

The time with all of you reading, you all know what we’re talking about. If you only got two hours of sleep, I doubt that you’re going to want to go to the gym and work out because you don’t have the energy level to even think straight. You don’t work out and the next day, it’s the same thing. It becomes a vicious cycle. At some point, that cycle has to stop.

I always ask people, “What would you do with your time if you find out that you don’t ever have to worry about money again?” It’s a good place to start about how you would be free. The money issue is such a big issue where people are like, “How do I pay my bills? I need to pay my bills so I need to put off all these things that I need to do.” Start now because your mind and body health can never wait. It needs to be healthy pretty quick before any other thing can change.

If you convinced yourself that, “You’re not just an entrepreneur. You’re going to be a great leader in a corporate world or maybe in a nonprofit,” that’s fine but you still need to be the best leader you can be because you’re still impacting people every day. You can’t be that best leader unless you’re your best self.

Between Mike’s two books, What Is Your Calling, Coach’s Plan and his podcast Fueled by Impact, at least make that small change. I’m not asking and I’m sure you’re not, to make a huge change because it’s all those little changes that add up to the big thing. Any other words of wisdom you might want to impart before we end the show?

For me, the place that I would always want to bring it back to is everything that you are doing, the deepest why behind that, always comes back to either a sense of happiness, contentment or fulfillment that you’re seeking or a sense of contribution and having a positive impact on the other people in your life. Sometimes it’s helpful to take a moment and step back. “Why am I doing this? Why am I leading things this certain way?” The big questions as well are the smaller ones. Remind yourself is there a more direct route to those things?

To me, we’ve only got this one life. This global pandemic has shined a light on it for people that, “If not now, when? Am I living my life in a way that is both bringing the greatest sense of joy, love and fulfillment for me personally, as well as for the people who I touch, help serve or have an impact on in the world?”

How do people reach you other than buying the books and listening to your podcast?

The best place to go is That will route you anywhere. I got the books on there, the podcast, the online course, Self-Mastery for Leaders that I have as well as even the corporate work that I do and more of the business and strategy side of things. You can find anything that I do through that website.

Thank you so much, Mike, for coming in and sharing your wisdom and time. That’s very generous of you. Until next time. Please be happy and healthy. Remember, happiness is a choice. I hope you make great choices. Thank you.

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About Mike Kavanagh

MDH 49 Mike Kavanagh | Coach’s PlanMike Kavanagh is a #1 Amazon best-selling author, speaker, entrepreneur, and consultant in the areas of personal development, leadership, performance, and well-being. Mike has served as a trusted advisor to C-level execs of some of the world’s most recognizable names in business, he has led large organizations himself, and he has coached high-performers in mental training, meditation, fitness, and personal well-being. For more, visit