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TMHS 793: Strengthen Your Mental & Emotional Fitness Through the Power of Creativity – With IN-Q

TMHS 312: Reclaim Your Time, Build Your Life Resume & Why Experience is Overrated with Jesse Itzler

Productivity is not a superpower, but a result of effective time management. Roman philosopher Seneca said, “It’s not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it.” Today, that sentiment is even more true than it was in the Roman years. With the advent of cell phones, social media, and television, we’re more disconnected than ever.

That’s why I’m so excited to share today’s guest with you. Jesse Itzler has done plenty of impressive things with his time. From managing Run-DMC to starting and selling profitable businesses, to running 100-mile ultra-marathons, Jesse has had a successful life thus far. But recently, he started thinking about how to better manage his time and channel his intuition. This journey led him to a monastery in upstate New York, where he spent 15 days learning incredible life lessons.

On this episode of the Model Health Show, Jesse is sharing the powerful lessons he learned from his experience living with monks. He’s sharing powerful tips about effective time management and focus, how to truly express gratitude, and how to find happiness while pursing your goals. His story is full of incredible wisdom and insight, I hope it will inspire you to unplug, reevaluate your priorities, and live up to your potential.

In this episode you’ll discover:

  • How Jesse fell in love with hip hop (and ultimately became the manager for Run-DMC!)
  • The catalyst that inspired Jesse to go live with monks.
  • How to create your own luck and make things happen in your life.
  • The meaning of building your life resume.
  • What the greatest secret weapon we all possess is.
  • How the concept moderation is often used as an excuse.
  • The misconceptions that Jesse held about monks.
  • How to be more intentional about how you spend your time.
  • A simple test you can use to identify what areas in your life to improve.
  • The importance of consistently practicing gratitude.
  • What it means to dodge the arrows.
  • Why Jesse’s wife set up a 40-minute fake commute.
  • How (and why!) to identify the places where you can think best.
  • Why experience isn’t as important as most of us think
  • What monotasking is, and how you can use it to ramp up your productivity.
  • The importance of saying no.
  • How decision fatigue impacts your energy levels.



Items mentioned in this episode include:

Thank you so much for checking out this episode of The Model Health Show. If you haven’t done so already, please take a minute and leave a quick rating and review of the show on Apple Podcast by clicking on the link below. It will help us to keep delivering life-changing information for you every week!


Shawn Stevenson: Welcome to The Model Health Show. This is fitness and nutrition expert, Shawn Stevenson, and I'm so grateful for you tuning in with me today. Listen, if you're like me, you've probably got a lot of things that you want to accomplish in your lifetime, and at no other time in human history have we had so many things distracting us from accomplishing the things that we want. Alright? We've got so many temptations, alright? Fighting temptations left and right, and many of these things obviously bring us a lot of value; social media, infinite amount of television shows at our fingertips, but at the same time they can rob us of our chances at doing something great. And I love this quote from Seneca. He said that, "It's not that we have little time, it's more that we waste a good deal of it." We've got plenty of time to accomplish great things, and my guest today is going to enlighten you as to how powerful we all actually are in accomplishing great things. But- and this is a big caveat. We do need to take a little bit more control of our time and our mental energy, our mental power. And he was sparked to do so by going on a very, very strange journey that you're going to hear about today. But I think it's going to bring back a lot of valuable gifts and insights for you to really take more control of your life and to accomplish the things that you're here to do. With that said, listen San Francisco Take Control Conference was phenomenal, and I just want to thank everybody for coming out. San Diego has been on it, just asking so many times if we'll do a conference there. So myself, Dr. Eric Thomas, the number one motivational speaker in the world, and the rest of our team. CJ, who's been on the show, and just some other special guests, I'm not even going to tell you, are going to be coming to San Diego for the Take Control Conference. Alright? So take action right now. Go to, get your tickets like yesterday and come and hang out with us. I can't wait to see you there. This is one of my favorite conferences of all time, everybody's bringing their A game, and we're going to be talking about taking control of your finances, your relationships, and of course I'm going to be there talking about taking control of your health and fitness, alright? So Get your tickets. And on that note, listen even yesterday I was on a call with our Breathe U students at Breathe University along with ET and the rest of our team, and we opened up for Q&A after I taught a session for everybody, and there's a gentleman, he's a long-distance runner, he's a competitive runner, and his goal is to do this 100-mile race coming up, and he had a question about his nutrition because he's like, "Shawn listen, I don't like greens, man. I know I've heard some of your science on it, I can't do it." Right? He's telling me he can't do it with the green veggies, and so I was giving him some strategies to sneak them in because you guys know my story. I didn't even eat a salad until I was twenty-five years old. That was the first time I ever ate a salad. So I'm giving him some creative ways to sneak it in, but also informing him that if we're going to do it, let's not even go for the fifth best thing as far as green dense nutrient rich foods. What's the number one thing? Number two thing? And so this is why I recommend every single person on the planet, we can ideally instead of shifting over and getting like so-called multi-vitamins that's oftentimes heavily processed, full of fillers and dyes and processed and fried fricassée. You're not really even getting the nutrients, you're actually peeing a lot of it out. Let's get some nutrient dense whole foods that are concentrated and low-temperature processed, alright? So for me, I use Organifi, alright? So some of the ingredients in here, we've got spirulina. This is the most protein rich food ever discovered, 71% protein by weight. Also rich in a compound called phycocyanin, which has been found to elicit something called stem cell genesis, alright? That's literally the creation of stem cells. Tell me something else that can do that. Alright? Just name one thing. I promise Lucky Charms cannot do that. Alright? So spirulina, this is just one of the ingredients. Chlorella, the highest chlorophyll food in the world, chlorophyll, chlorella. Alright? It's 50% protein by weight plus very dense in chlorophyll, and also something called chlorella growth factor which has some really interesting benefits as well. Alright but here's the key; it tastes good. So I advised him to make sure that he's utilizing this as an insurance policy. A lot of us do that through multi-vitamins, but this is from real whole concentrated superfoods, alright? So head over if you're not utilizing Organifi yet, check it out, you get 20% off. Go to, twenty. You get twenty, alright? Check it out right now, for 20% off. Now let's get to the iTunes review of the week. ITunes Review: Another five-star review titled, 'My favorite podcast,' by CJustice77. "I'm usually the type of guy that goes along consuming information or products and never taking the time to leave a review. The Model Health Show has been such an inspiration in my life recently that I felt it was my duty to leave a review. Thank you, Shawn, for creating the show, and for putting in so much effort to develop high quality content and to bring in such excellent show guests. Listening to your show inspired a suite of significant changes in my life including changes in my diet, exercise routine, and behaviors surrounding sleep, mindfulness, and work. I still have a lot of things I'm working to improve in my life and in my relationships, but I know that your show has helped guide me towards the right path. Please keep doing what you do, it makes a huge difference." Shawn Stevenson: Thank you so very much for leaving me that review over on Apple Podcasts. I appreciate it immensely. Thank you, thank you, thank you. If you've yet to do so, please pop over and leave a review for the show. I'd appreciate it so very much. And on that note, let's get to our special guest and our topic of the day. Our guest today is Jesse Itzler who only eats fruit until noon, loves Run-D.M.C., and enjoys living life out of the box. Actually, he doesn't even have a box. He co-founded Marquis Jet, the world's largest pre-paid private jet car company in 2001, which he and his partner sold to Berkshire Hathaway NetJets, owned by Warren Buffett. He then partnered with Zico Coconut Water, which they sold to The Coca Cola Company in 2013. He's a former rapper on MTV, and he produced and sang both the NBA's Emmy award-winning, 'I Love This Game,' used in campaign, and the popular New York Knicks anthem, 'Go, NY, Go.' Itzler is also the author of the New York Times bestselling book, 'Living With a SEAL,' and his latest book, 'Living With the Monks.' When he's not running out training for his next 100-mile run, as I just talked about, he's being a dad, and also he could be found at Atlanta Hawk's games, where he is an owner of the team. He's married to Spanx founder, Sara Blakely, and the couple and their four children live in Atlanta, GA, and I'd like to welcome to The Model Health Show, Mr. Jesse Itzler. What's up, man? Jesse Itzler: What's up, man? That's a great intro for me. Shawn Stevenson: I know, I'm telling people you're the most interesting man alive. I mean that, man. Jesse Itzler: Well thanks so much for having me, I appreciate it. Shawn Stevenson: My pleasure. Jesse Itzler: You know if I'm coming through St. Louis, I've got to stop by here. Shawn Stevenson: For sure. Jesse Itzler: Thanks for making some room for me. Shawn Stevenson: I love that, man. Jesse Itzler: Thanks for making some room for me. Shawn Stevenson: Thank you, I receive that, man. So let's start with Run-D.M.C, alright? Jesse Itzler: Sure. Shawn Stevenson: We can make this like a brown sugar moment, when'd you fall in love with hip hop? Jesse Itzler: Well I grew up in New York, so I grew up- I'm a product of the eighties, so I grew up when hip hop was just emerging. Shawn Stevenson: Right. Jesse Itzler: I got into it super early. Run-D.M.C. were my Beatles, and I was lucky enough later in life in my- I don't even know, I guess my early- late twenties to manage Run-D.M.C. Shawn Stevenson: Wow. Jesse Itzler: So I actually shared a desk- I was partners with Jam Master Jay who got killed, the DJ. But we shared a desk in my office for four years together, so I was super close- still am super close with the group, and always just been a big part of my life since I was a kid basically. Shawn Stevenson: That's a good- I didn't even know that this was going to come up. Jesse Itzler: I got to manage my heroes. Shawn Stevenson: How in the world- because a lot of people, they might have those aspirations, but how did you get in that environment like that? Jesse Itzler: Like everything in my life, it wasn't planned. I bumped into Jam Master Jay at a conference. At the time, I was in the music business, but I had basically established myself right out of college, I signed a record deal, I was a signed artist but my record career didn't go as planned and I got dropped from the label. I didn't get picked up for a second album. So I pivoted and I started doing jingles, and writing theme songs for professional sports teams. I was super young, and I literally created this category of writing sports songs, theme songs for pro teams. Nobody else was doing it. And I set up a booth at a conference, I don't even know how I ended up at this conference, and Jam Master Jay was at the booth, speaking at one of the booths next to me, and I'm like, "What?! What?!" So I introduced myself, we're both from New York, the conference was in Atlanta. He knew the Knicks song that I had written, and I said, "Would you collaborate on something?" And three weeks later, he had moved his record company, JMJ Records, which had 50 Cent and Onyx on it at the time to my office, and we shared a desk, and that was it. Shawn Stevenson: That's an awesome story. Like I'm just enthralled. But one of the things you even talk about in this book, in 'Living With the Monks,' and how people oftentimes- they spend a lot of time looking for perfection, planning, and you think we should just kind of take action and get into stuff and figure it out. Jesse Itzler: Yeah, I mean I'm a big believer in creating your own luck, putting yourself in a position where luck finds you, and that's what I did in that particular environment. I could have just went and listened to him speak, and been a fan, and taken a selfie, et cetera, but I really wanted to put myself in a position where it could grow into something bigger than that. And that's how I've always lived my life. I've always lived my life- if I find someone interesting, or inspiring, or someone is in a position or has a business that I want to get involved with, I track them down, I become their friend, I just make it happen. In fact, it's already happened in my head, I just have to make it happen. And I'll show up, I'll bump into them on the street. I mean, it might sound stalkerish, but it's just I put myself in a position for luck to find me, or I try to. Shawn Stevenson: That's awesome. And like you said, even bumping into people, a lot of this stuff seems random but it's kind of not. And I shared this- we've done some episodes about this, but the human mind is so powerful, man. So it's like your focus, you just said it, you're already friends with them in your mind. And there's parts of our brain, like the reticular cortex, and it's like constantly scanning and looking for data to help to affirm whatever you're focused on. You know? So if you have this certain belief, you're going to see that thing existing in the world, when somebody else might see something totally different. Jesse Itzler: It's true. Shawn Stevenson: And so just by you having that focus, like these random happenings don't just happen, you know? Jesse Itzler: No, I mean I'm a big believer in visualization. Shawn Stevenson: Wow. And obviously- so a lot of your lessons and experiences are in that book, and so we've just got to- already we've got to have you back on the show and talking about that. But can you talk about the catalyst, where you came up with the idea of going to live with monks? Jesse Itzler: Yeah. Well first of all, I have four children, I'm married, I have a busy life like we all do. But I'm a big believer in flipping the traditional model of building your resume, and turning it upside down, and I believe in building your life resume. And that's what makes me tick. I'm fueled by experiences, and I'm very, very aware of my own mortality, and how much time I have left to do the things that I want to do. So I have a very, very big focus on and belief that if you build your life resume, you could be a better employee, you could land your dream job, it can help you get a promotion because the more you experience, the more you have to offer. Shawn Stevenson: Yeah. Jesse Itzler: And you know, you just become more interesting, and you become more invigorated. So this journey was part of that, building my life resume, but what happened was I realized that I'd focused so much on the physical side for years of my life. I have a trainer, I run marathons, work out just like everybody else. I've invested so much in that, so much of my daily time is in training and working out, and I've invested very little time in the spiritual and emotional side. And I believe that our greatest secret weapon that we all have, we're all armed with it, and it's really guided me my whole life. It's been my superpower, and when you get a 980 on your SATs, you've got to rely on this, and that's instinct. And my intuition and my instinct, which is my superpower, started to go away because I've got Siri, I've got Alexa, I've got the news influencing me, I can ask Alexa questions, I'm getting bombarded by social media, and text messages, and emails. I'm losing my superpower because I don't spend any time alone, I don't spend time thinking. Alexa thinks for me, Google thinks for me. So when I started thinking about how can I really start to get better on that side of my life, everything pointed to monks. Like they're the masters. You want to learn about finances? Go to Warren Buffett. You want to learn about mental toughness, go talk to a Navy SEAL. But you want to get like emotionally in tune with yourself and really strengthen the gratitude muscle? Go live with monks. So I decided to give myself an adult time-out and go live on a monastery. Shawn Stevenson: Man, like even hearing this story again, your wife knew what she signed up for, it's just like, 'How do I communicate this?' And I think it's such a great opportunity, I think, just even having the opportunity to take that time to do that. Because some- like you talked about in the book, some monasteries, or to go live with monks, like you've got to sign up for a couple years. You know? You're not going anywhere. But you found this particular place where you went and spent a certain amount of time, fifteen days I believe it was. Jesse Itzler: Yeah. Shawn Stevenson: And just pulled out so many lessons, which you didn't know you got at the time. Jesse Itzler: Right. Shawn Stevenson: And so hearing your stories throughout the book. But really quick, I want to highlight something here. Jesse Itzler: Sure. Shawn Stevenson: Because it really struck me, because I had a similar situation happen. You said that, "A few years ago, I realized I was watching an awful lot of football. College games on Saturday, NFL on Sunday, Monday, and Thursday when they threw the Thursday games in there, were my viewing schedule. It was excessive, and while I did love watching the games, I calculated that if I kept up on this pace and lived to be eighty-two years old, I'd spend - waste - another 36,000 hours of my life watching football." 36,000 hours. Jesse Itzler: Yeah, when I had to go to the monastery and my wife said no, I'm like, "I freed up 36,000 hours. I pulled the TV cord out of the wall." It's true, you know? You have to remember that a lot of things that we do- everything we do is accumulative. It's accumulative. And everyone's like using this as an excuse. They use moderation. You hear like, 'Everything in moderation.' But the reality is moderation could be an excuse. If you have an ice cream cone every single day, you're like, 'I'm only having an ice cream cone today. One ice cream cone, what's the big deal?' But you do it for ten years, you're going to have 3,000 ice cream cones. That's a big deal over time. And I just started- again, it goes back to my relationship with time, you know? People think of relationships in terms of people, their kids, their parents. But they don't look at one of the most important things is your relationship with time. And I started looking at this like, "I'm doing three hours a day. That's not a big deal. I'm watching a football game, what's the big deal? I'm watching a football game, man." But when you add up Thursday, Saturday, college, Sunday night, Monday night, Fantasy Football, all that stuff which I love, over the next cumulative thirty or thirty-five years, that would have been 36,000 hours of my life. That's a long time. I can't do the math in my head, but it's got to be a year or two of your life. And I don't even remember if the Jets beat the Bills three years ago. Like who cares? Shawn Stevenson: It doesn't matter. Jesse Itzler: It doesn't matter, man. It matters in the moment. And I still watch football, I enjoy it, but I became aware of it, and I eliminated it because you know what happens as you get older- do you have kids? Shawn Stevenson: I do, I have three. Yeah. Jesse Itzler: Okay, congratulations. How old are they? Shawn Stevenson: So twenty-one, eighteen, and seven. Jesse Itzler: Oh, grown. Grown. Grown. Shawn Stevenson: And seven. Jesse Itzler: Okay, and seven. So you're still in it. Shawn Stevenson: Started over. Jesse Itzler: You're still in it. Something has to give as you put more on your plate of things you want to do. For you, it's a podcast, it's business, it's changing lives, it's inspiring, it's growing these followers in your podcast, all the stuff that you're doing. As you do that and you spend more time, something has to give. Either you're going to spend less time with your family, or less time watching TV, or whatever, but you can't keep putting stuff on your plate and expecting that- ultimately it's going to overflow. So for me with four kids, and a business, and a wife, and hobbies, and all kinds of stuff, the easy thing to eliminate was the stuff that wasn't moving the needle. And I have four buckets. I have my wellness bucket, my family bucket, my personal bucket, and then I have like causes that are like I'm passionate about. Plus friends and the miscellaneous, but those are like my four buckets. Shawn Stevenson: Yeah. Jesse Itzler: If something is not moving the needle in one of those four buckets, at this point of my life, I just turned fifty, that's a waste. It's just a waste. If it's not helping with my family, with my fitness, my wellness, my business, it's a waste and I try to eliminate it. Shawn Stevenson: That's respect, because- and you've heard this as well. A lot of people are- they pipe on and kind of hold up that sign of like, "I just don't have the time. I want to work on my fitness, I want to have a great relationship, I want to make more money, but I don't have the time." And the reality is we all have the same twenty-four, and to see what somebody like yourself is doing with that twenty-four hours. But real talk too, we all do need down time for sure. Jesse Itzler: Yeah. Shawn Stevenson: But some of that, and like I said I had a similar experience, I was in college, this was my last semester, I was already a strength and conditioning coach. Was doing pretty well for myself, but I was watching every baseball game. Like every- and they play a lot of games, man. You know in St. Louis here, it was Baseball Heaven, is what they call it. And so I'd know all the stats, I'd know everybody's- I'd know their kids' names, you know? I'm just watching. I'm doing my homework, got the game on, and just one day it struck me. I'm watching them be great, and I'm saying I don't have time because I got school, then I got this business I'm trying to build, and help people, and I'm trying to learn stuff, but I'm just like at a stalemate. And I realized I'm watching them be great. I'm not even playing the game. I don't plan on playing the game. And so it just changed- and for me, I went like cold turkey, and I just literally turned off my cable for a couple years. And I grew so much in that time. And I would still watch movies here and there, or whatever, but I just focused on my own greatness instead of watching other people be great. And with that said, again, it's cool to watch football, but I would watch the game, then I'd watch the game after the game, then I'd watch people talk about the game for an hour, and watch the highlights of the game I'd just watched, and then I'm like, "Oh, I'm busy." No, I'm not. So we have to really identify- you said it, awareness is the key. Awareness trumps everything and begins that process. So yeah, that's awesome, man. And then so you taking this trip, having the audacity like, "Okay, I'm going to go live with monks." And so you're driving up there, but you don't really know what's in store for you. You've got monks in your head like a certain picture, but it wasn't what you thought when you got there. Jesse Itzler: Right. I thought that all monks were Buddhists, and were totally silent, and they spend their whole day meditating every day, all day, they eat a little food, they go back to meditation, because that's what I'd seen in movies, or that's what I thought. So I didn't want to do any research because I didn't want to have any kind of- I didn't want to have anything like steer me in the direction of what my expectations should be. I just wanted to experience it rather than have a preconceived notion of what I thought it would be. So I just really tried to go in there as cold as I could. And to my surprise, they weren't Buddhist monks, they were Russian Orthodox, which I didn't even know what that meant. And they were- for a living, to keep the lights on at the monastery, they are the largest breeder of German Shepherds in the United States. So they had eleven- there were eight monks that had been there for fifty years, most of them had been there for fifty years, eleven grown German Shepherds, and then they had puppy German Shepherds, and then they had a side hustle. They trained dogs too that people would drop off. So it was like all these dogs, eight monks, and me, and no contact to the world. I had no email, no phone, no text, no TV, no radio, no Internet. My room was the size of basically your couch, eight feet, with a light and a desk, and that was it. And I showed up there, I was just- it was a complete shock from my hectic life and having a million things coming at me all the time. Shawn Stevenson: How did you deal with that initially? Jesse Itzler: Not well. I walked into the room, and the main monk- not the main monk, but the monk that was assigned to me, Brother Christopher, walked me around, gave me a tour, and put me into my room which they call a cell, and it was 6:00 at night, and he said, "Tomorrow morning, we're going to start our day at 7:00 in the morning with prayer, reflection, and meditation at 7:00 AM." I said, "Great, it's 6:15 PM. What do I do for the next thirteen hours, man?" And he looked me in the eye, and he said, "You sit here, and you think." And I was like, "Whoa. I don't really ever think." So I closed my door, and I started to try to meditate. I'm like, "Let me take this time." I took a crash course in transcendental meditation. "Let me try to meditate." And I set my timer for twenty minutes, I sat in my chair, and I tried to focus on my mantra, and immediately I got bombarded with all these thoughts. "What are my kids doing? What if my wife doesn't like me when I get home? The Atlanta Hawks might stink this year." Like everything all coming at me. I couldn't get my mantra, and I tried to calm down, and I sat there for what felt like hours, and I was like, "How come my timer hasn't gone off? I set it for twenty minutes. I must not have set it. Let me just get out of this meditation and set it so I can hear it beep in twenty minutes, and I can go on my merry way." But I was like, "No, that would be cheating." So I kept focusing on my mantra, and I kept going back and forth, and then finally I'm like, "Man, my timer hasn't gone off." So I open my eyes, I go to set my timer, and I look at it; two minutes and thirty-seven seconds. And I just started calculating how much time I have left. And I'm like, "I'm here for fifteen days, times sixty minutes, times twenty-four hours," and I was like, "How am I going to do this? How am I going to do this, man?" And that was the start of my journey. Shawn Stevenson: Absolutely nuts, man. And I think a lot of people can identify with that for sure, you know? Jesse Itzler: I don't know. You know what, Shawn? Go lock yourself in a closet for an hour and tell me how you feel. Shawn Stevenson: I'm saying. Jesse Itzler: No, like fifteen days, it was crazy. Shawn Stevenson: Just the concept of trying to be with your thoughts, you know? Trying to just sit and be still, you know? A lot of folks, it's a big fear. Jesse Itzler: It's not easy. Shawn Stevenson: I think. And for you to- like you said, there's all of this random stuff coming at you, and it's just rattling around in our mind. And when you said it, he told you just to think. When's the last time- I remember- I mean, we grew up in a time where we didn't have access to all this stuff, so there was time that we would kind of spend thinking or by ourselves. And we don't really have that. We're so- if we have some time, what do we do? We grab our phone, right? Jesse Itzler: Of course. Shawn Stevenson: And so I think that we're missing out on some of the big ideas, some of the big ah-ha moments that are within us, not something external. Right? And so having that experience. The next day, I think you still didn't know that they were training dogs here. Jesse Itzler: No, I didn't. Shawn Stevenson: And so when did you find that out? Jesse Itzler: So each day I was going to shadow one of the monks in their daily responsibilities. So the next day I got up after prayer service and meditation, we had a silent meal which I ruined because I didn't know it was silent, and then they assigned me to one of the monks who told me that we were going to the training center. So I thought that that was probably the spiritual center where a lot of the hardcore meditation goes, and maybe it was dark or whatever. And then they walk me down to the training center, and it's filled with dogs, and it was a dog training center. So my job- my first job was to be the distractor, which meant that they were teaching the dogs how to walk on a leash while people are running around, there was all these distractions, and have the dog not be distracted. So when this dog goes back to New York City, where it lives, it can go through a park and not be distracted. And it was interesting because after a couple of days, they took dogs that were complete- I don't want to say terrors, but just no manners, to I could have waived a pork belly in front of them, and the dog would have kept going. And I asked the monks, "How'd you do that? How did you train this dog to not go near me, or any of the other dogs, or at all be distracted, and just get to its goal to go from point A to point B with no distraction and pure focus?" And it was like one of those Karate Kid moments, you know, when I realized that they were waxing on and waxing off with me, that I was going to start to learn through this journey, through these different techniques how they teach the dogs, how I could apply them. And he just said to me, "It's just like life. There's distractions all the time. You just talked about your phone, football games, all this stuff. But to get from point A to point B, you have to be able to get through the distractions. You have to train yourself to be able to get through those distractions." And that set up a series of really life lessons for me throughout this journey of fifteen days. And I did have some great breakthroughs there. Shawn Stevenson: I want to take a step back really quick before we talk about some of those lessons you picked up. Jesse Itzler: Sure. Shawn Stevenson: You kind of shared a lesson with them that I thought was such an interesting part of the book, and talking about everybody wants to find happiness, but you say that you look at happiness as a lifestyle and not a goal. Jesse Itzler: Right. Shawn Stevenson: And you shared two stories with them, you know? One involved dancing, and the other involved the sale of your company. Can you share those stories? I think they're just really incredible and it makes a great point. Jesse Itzler: Yeah, well I do, I think people think there's a lid on happiness, and I don't, and I think it is a choice. I think that it's a lifestyle, and it starts with gratitude, which we hear all the time. But I don't feel- very often we don't feel grateful unless something tragic happens, like you hear someone gets sick, or someone dies, someone's in the hospital, they're like, "Oh my God, I feel so lucky," and then the next day it's gone. I don't feel like I need someone to pass away that's close to me for me to feel grateful. I have a deep, deep appreciation for where I am, what I have, my kids- everything. Every day, I say to my wife every day like, "Do you understand how lucky we are?" And I'm not talking about money at all, but just- so that's the starting point. But when I first- my dad owned a plumbing supply house in Long Island where I grew up. I wasn't handed anything, and my first job was as a break-dancer, and believe it or not- I know I don't look the role. The camera guys are laughing at me. They're laughing at me, man. They're laughing at me. Shawn Stevenson: We've got to get some of that for the show. Jesse Itzler: But I grew up in the eighties when I was fifteen years old or whatever, so I realized that there's no way the kids in Washington D.C.- there's a lot of competition in New York. We're as good as the kids in New York, like we invented this stuff, man. So I convinced my sister, who had just got her driver's license, to drive my friend, Myron, and myself down to Washington D.C. and we would set up like in Georgetown for a couple of hours with a boombox, dance, and make some money. So we go down to Washington D.C., we're driving down there - I'll give you the fast version - and we set up our boombox in this little parking lot, hit play, people started to gather around. Myron does his thing, he passes it to me, I do my thing. A couple hours pass, now we've got a big crowd, I take my hat off, I pass my hat around to get the money, we collect like maybe $200 or something. I pay my sister for driving us down, gas money, we separate some money for lunch and dinner, and Myron and I split like $82- $41 each. I give him his $41, I get my $41, and he counts it up, and then he looks at me, fifteen years old, and he comes over and he gives me a bear hug, and he says, "Man Jess, we're rich." He was like, "We're rich, man." And we were, because like I realized at that moment that if you- and I was scared the whole ride up thinking about, "What if nobody shows up? What if we're not as good?" But when you overcome fear, and you put yourself out there, you can get rewarded for doing things that you like, and you can make people feel good. It was a great feeling. It was the start of my entrepreneurial journey. Fast-forward twenty years later, I was- maybe it was twenty-five years later, I was fifteen, probably twenty years later, I built this company Marquis Jet, we did $5 billion in cumulative sales, we get the phone call, we're selling the company to Warren Buffett, and I just remember at that moment- this is going to sound like a movie or like I'm making it up, but it's not. I remember maybe not in that exact moment, but certainly now, that I didn't feel any more happy when we sold the company than that moment, and we made more money, than when I made $41. I really didn't. I mean yes, did it change my life? Did it impact me? But it wasn't like- if I was weighing it on a scale, like, "Oh my God, I was so much more happy because we made this money." You know, I really wasn't. So in between those two extremes of $41 and selling your company to Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, in between those two extremes, what is the gatekeeper between happiness? And I've realized that we spend a lot of our time focused around trying to put as much on our plate of the things that make us happy. You liked watching baseball back in the day, you'd watch a lot of baseball. Whatever it is- you like ice cream? You eat ice cream. You do things that make you happy. But we shy away from fixing the things that make us unhappy. So like if our marriage is broken, you know, are you investing the time to fix it? If you're overweight, are you investing the time to fix it? If you have a messed up relationship with your parents and it's making you argue, are you investing the proper tools and time to make it better? And the answer is we usually put most of our energy more into the things we like. Of course we do, it's easier. I'd rather eat ice cream than try to run four miles to lose the weight, but you have to fix the things that are broken to become more happy. So the first thing you've got to do, is you've got to identify what it is that's making you unhappy. Like what are the two or three things? I have a very simple test to identify it. Want to do it? Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, absolutely. Jesse Itzler: Okay. So think about- anyone listening can do this. Camera guys, you guys can do it. You think about everything going on in your life; where you live, your relationships, your marriage, your kids, your financial status, everything- your health, and put them into a giant blender. Okay? On a scale of one to ten with ten being the Dalai Lama of happiness, and one being someone that's rock bottom, when you take all of these factors in our life, what is your number? What's your number? What's your number, guys? Six and seven is cool, five is cool. Shawn Stevenson: I'd probably say nine. Jesse Itzler: Nine's a great number. Let's start with the fives and sixes. So five and six- and you said six kind of like psyched about it, you weren't like mad about it. Six is cool, six out of ten is cool, but the reality is if my nine-year-old son comes home with a six- a sixty on a test, that's an F in the most important bucket of your life; happiness. Five, that's an F minus in the most important bucket of your life. Even a nine is an amazing number, but it's still only an A minus. It's not an A or an A plus. But what I love about the test is your brain automatically, when you put all of those things into a blender, goes to a ten. And then immediately the two or three things that pop into your head that bring it down are the things that make you unhappy. Those are the things- whatever popped into your head that made you a six, or your head that made you a five, whatever came in- because only two or three things probably hit your right away and said, "Oh shit, man. I'm a six." Whatever those are, that's what you have to work at. You got to a nine. Something had to come into your head to be like, "I'm not a ten because I need to work on this." Shawn Stevenson: Yeah. Jesse Itzler: Whatever that is, you don't have to share it with me, but whatever that is, that's what you have to work on because you're going to stay a nine doing the things you're doing. But if you fix that one thing, usually it's about a relationship. If you fix whatever that is in your marriage, or with your kids, or with someone that's pissing you off, then you can- then and only then can you go from a nine to a nine and a half to a ten. I'm not saying it's easy to fix it, I'm not saying you will fix it, but what I am saying is you have to identify it and work on it, otherwise you're always going to be a nine, which you might be happy with. Shawn Stevenson: Wow, man that's really powerful. And I hope everybody just took the time to think about that, and that visual- like you said, it goes to ten. Because I'm like, "Oh, ten." Then I was thinking, "Oh wait," and then it immediately starts to retract. Jesse Itzler: "What about this? Oh no, I'm a nine. I'm a nine. I'm a nine." Shawn Stevenson: But also a part of that- because I can see myself being a ten, and it's not necessarily- even if it's a relationship, for example, it's not necessarily something that you need to fix with the person. They may not be here anymore, but you fixing it with you. Jesse Itzler: Absolutely. Shawn Stevenson: Right? Jesse Itzler: Absolutely. Shawn Stevenson: So that's such a great piece of advice. Jesse Itzler: Man, I don't even understand how people can not work on themselves. Like I just don't understand how you can go through life. You get one life, you don't get a redo. We'll never have another 2018. You've got a couple more- it's just done. You're never getting your twenties back. I love you, Shawn, you're never getting them back. In one more year, you're never getting your thirties back. It's done. The average American lives to be seventy-eight. If you're average, you've got thirty-eight years left, okay? Thirty-eight summers, that's all you've got. Your seventies aren't going to be like they are right now in your forties. I don't even understand how someone can go through life and not want to be- and be okay being the 80% version of what they could be. I just don't understand it. Like you had mentioned like, "Oh well say somebody doesn't want to work out," or something like that. I don't see how you don't invest in yourself first. I just don't get it. Like I said to someone- I have a test. I teach this course called Build Your Life Resume, and in my course I ask people, "If someone gave you $10 million, what would you want to do? What would you do with it?" And most people think about it, and first of all I'm like, "How do you even have to think about it? Like don't you know what you want out of life or what you would want to do? I mean, what are you working for?" "But if someone gave you $10 million, what would you do with it?" And two things are very interesting. The first thing- the first thing is if someone gave you $10 million, the first thing is that most people say they would go on a trip, they would buy something, they would donate the money, they would do whatever, whatever's on their list, but it has nothing to do with investing in themselves. Like if someone gave me $10 million, I'd hire a chef- like an organic chef. I would do things that would extend the quality of my life. I wouldn't buy a Rolls Royce. I would do things that would extend the sixties, seventies, and eighties years of my life. And that's the first thing that was interesting. The second thing is that most of the things on people's list are things that they could do now. Like my friend was like, "Oh, I'd move to California." And I'm like, "Move. Why $10 million, man? Move to California. What are you doing? You always wanted to live to California." He goes, "Oh, the time's not right." I'm like, "Well the time is never right. Shawn Stevenson: That's the thing, yeah. Jesse Itzler: So it's just interesting when you start to look at things like that. That's one thing that happened at the monastery. I put myself in the position where I could ask myself a lot of questions, you know, and try to like really figure out, "What do I want? And what makes me tick?" And instead of just going through life in a routine, because in a routine time goes fast, and then all of a sudden you wake up and you're seventy. The average American gains two pounds between thirty-five and sixty. Now you're fifty pounds overweight, you're sixty or seventy years old, and you can't do the things that you wanted to do, and now it's over, and that means you now are going to have regret of what you didn't do. That's the last thing I want. That's the last thing I want, man. I don't want to wake up and be like, "Oh I regret that I didn't do this." So you've got to think about it. You've got to spend time and think about what's important to you. And I'm not telling anyone how to live their life, I'm not Wayne Dyer, I'm not any of that. I'm just telling you for me, these things are really important, and they work for me, and I think it's important that you give a little time and think about this stuff. Shawn Stevenson: Awesome, man. There's so, so many powerful insights, and you got some real world benefits that you drew out in the book, and this is actually where I'm at now. And I took time, I read every single page, I didn't skip anything because the stories were so good. And so this is where I'm at now, I'm not done yet. So I want to ask you about some of these hashtags that you got from your experience, and we're going to do that right after this quick break, so sit tight, we'll be right back. Alright, we are back and we're talking with New York Times bestselling author, and the world's most interesting man, Jesse Itzler. Before the break I talked about in the book, wrapping it all up, he received some insights that some of these he didn't even know he had gotten at the time, and I want to go through a couple of these that really jump out. So the real world benefits of your time living with monks, and you've got this crazy life, this amazing life, and you took time to go and kind of isolate yourself and insulate yourself from the rest of the world. And one of those takeaways you said- and you've got them in hashtags, #dodgethearrows. What does that mean? Jesse Itzler: We just constantly every day have arrows coming at us, things- requests for our time. "Hey Shawn, could I get you for fifteen minutes? Just get a quick bite, so I can understand this podcast game?" "And Shawn, can I borrow $100 from you?" And like we're just bombarded with arrows. Those are arrows that come at us from people, then we have arrows like our toilet breaks and we have to fix it. Or we save a lot of money, but then the roof leaks, and six months of savings, now we've got to go fix the roof. And dodge the arrows just means creating a system where you can eliminate some of that - and I talk about it in the book - some of that noise, you know? And just guidelines to say no, boundaries to give yourself permission to say no to things, so you can kind of regain control of time. Shawn Stevenson: Yeah. We talked- I'm going to put this in the show notes, talking specifically about saying no. This is something that over the last year, I've had to develop this muscle. We talked about it with James Altucher, and he has a book called, 'The Power of No.' And especially with the finite amount of time we have here in this human experience, it's important to really invest in the things that lights you up and that you're inspired about as much as you can. And so I think that's great advice, man. So what about- I love this one, 'Go where you think best.' Jesse Itzler: Yeah, I mean I think thinking is a lost art form, like I mentioned earlier. And for me, I realized that I think best in two places; I think great- very well on an airplane, staring out the window and daydreaming. That's where I get a lot of my goals, and that's where I just get clarity. No one can bother me on an airplane, I'm not getting phone calls on an airplane. I don't put my Wi-Fi on a lot of times on the airplane. So I don't just take fake flights just to think, but I appreciate that time, and I use it for thinking. Also in the car I like to drive and daydream, and the third for me has really been running. So wherever it is that you think best, it's important to spend a lot of time there, because that's where you often get clarity, make big decisions, get ideas, and you're not going to think great when you're in a crowded space at a bar. So I try to put myself in a position where I think best as often as I can. My wife thinks best in the car. She set up a fake commute. We live five minutes from Spanx, her headquarters, but rather than just drive five minutes to work, she set up a forty-minute fake commute so she can spend forty minutes just thinking before she goes into the office. Shawn Stevenson: Wow, that's so smart. So smart, and something that we all can find creative ways to do. So I was surprised at this one, and I haven't gotten to this one, this is towards the end of the book. 'Experience is overrated.' I really am curious why you put that one in here. Jesse Itzler: Because it takes too long. People always think very often that they've got to get all this experience before they open their restaurant. "I need all this experience before I start my apparel company." By the time you wait for your experience, eight other people are going to be in the space. Five other people are going to launch your same exact idea. I'm a much bigger believer in getting your foot in the door and figuring it out as you go. You've got to start the process. Now listen, experience has its place, I'm not saying it doesn't. I just think sometimes it's an excuse, and it's way overrated. I had no experience in aviation. We started a private jet company with no airplanes, with no background, we built it to $5 billion in sales. I had no background or experience in beverage. We sold Zico to Coca Cola. I had no background in music. I never ran 100 miles, I had no background in that. You don't need experience. You need determination, you need passion. And not passion for the product; passion for the process of whatever it takes to get your goal. That means people mistake passion. They think they have to have passion for their widget. You've got to have passion for the process. That's the late nights, that's the sacrifice when everybody is at the bar, but you've got to stay home and make emails. That's what you signed up for. If you don't have the passion for that, it's not going to happen. So you've got to have- and I could see it in someone's eye. We sold this concept. We raised money for Marquis Jet, my private jet company I started with my partner. Two guys with no experience, no airplanes, no rich friends basically. We raised money because of one thing. Man, we had a look in our eye that said no matter what, we are going to take your dollar and we're going to make it work. We're going to figure this out. The experience came over time, but we didn't wait to get the experience to go and do it. It would have never worked. Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, man. Love it, love it. So what do you have out in front of you that you're in that process and experiencing that passion with? Jesse Itzler: I try to bring my passion to everything. I try to bring it to this interview, everything. I'm just- like I said about I don't need a tragic incident to make me grateful. I feel so lucky I was born in this country with this opportunity, you know? We all have opportunity. There's so much that I want to experience. I look at my life like my enemy is the clock. I've got so much that I want to do and my enemy is the clock. And the things I want to do, they don't cost a lot of money. I'm an outdoors guy. I like to climb mountains, I like to be outside, I like to swim in lakes. I don't need to spend a lot of money to do that stuff, and that's my driver right now. My driver is I go into the third chapter of my life. I just turned fifty, go back to that seventy-eight number, I hope it's not a real number. What's amazing is I just read that humans are wired for 120, but the average life expectancy of a human is seventy-two worldwide. So basically on average, humans are leaving fifty years on the table. I want as many of those bonus years as I can get, but my MO is to spend as much time doing the things I love to do with the people I love to do them with. That's my whole thing, man. Shawn Stevenson: Love it. Love it. Let me ask you about one more of these, this monotask. What's that about? #monotask. Jesse Itzler: Yeah, man. I thought because I have a massive to-do list that the best way to get things done was to multi-task. "Okay let me send out this thing right here, get on this interview right now, go and I've got-" and I'm like a million miles an hour, and all I wanted to do was cross things off my list because it felt good to cross them off my list. When I was at the monastery, the monks didn't have a to-do list. They just had a 'do' list. Whatever they were working on, they did it, there was no clock. They did it until it was 100% done to the best of their ability, and then they went on to the next task. They were always where their feet were, they were always present, and they really reinforced to me the importance of monotasking, doing one thing at a time, being where your feet are. I remember- and I'll give you an example just to put it in perspective. I remember when I was cleaning dishes at the monastery, you're going to get to this chapter soon, and they just had a retreat so they had all these- they had like 500 dishes. Shawn Stevenson: Oh yeah, I read this part. Crazy. Jesse Itzler: Yeah, and they treated me like a pledge. So I'm cleaning all the dishes, they're all out doing their own thing, reading, kicking it or whatever, and I'm doing the dishes by myself, washing them and drying them. And I got like 450 dishes left, and one of the monks walks in, he's like, "How's it going?" I'm like, "Man, I'm never going to finish this. I've got 400 dishes," you know? I had nothing else to do so it didn't really matter. And he looked at me, he was like, "You don't have 400 dishes. You only have the dish that's in your hand." And I was like, "Wow, you're right. Let me get this dish clean, now let me grab the next dish, and let me get this dish clean," instead of having to worry about how am I going to get to all 500? It's the same thing your friend is going to do when he runs this 100-mile race. He doesn't have 100 miles. He has the moment that he's in right now. Shawn Stevenson: Right, that step. Jesse Itzler: Until he's done. Shawn Stevenson: That's so powerful, man. Wow, dude, this is- I think this is an incredible book because of your ability to tell stories. But you put on here- on the cover it says, "Warning: Explicit Wisdom." And through the process, I think you were- I don't know if you would agree with this, but like fighting the process. Jesse Itzler: Yes. Shawn Stevenson: And then some things kind of- so what has been your kind of spillover since this experience that you noticed specifically in your life that's different or improved as a result of your time there? Jesse Itzler: We just talked about one of them a minute ago, and that's just saying no. You know? The importance of putting more things on my plate that I like to do, and doing them with the people that I love to do them with. That's been really important. I realized right when I came home, at the monastery all the decisions are taken away from you. You eat whatever they serve you. You eat when they give it to you. You wear one- I showered once, you wear one outfit. Nothing matters. So all the decisions that we have day-to-day that we don't even think about - "What station should I put on the radio?" "What am I going to wear today?" "Am I putting cologne on?" Whatever, we just do it, we don't even think about it. But they say the average American makes like 35,000 to 50,000 decisions a day. That's exhausting. And when you eliminate some of those decisions, when they don't live in your head, when you feel so overwhelmed with things in your head and you get them out and you put them on paper, get them out of your head, it frees up a tremendous amount of energy. Like by day six in the monastery, because I was making no decisions, I had boundless energy. I'm a high energy guy anyway. Shawn Stevenson: Right. Jesse Itzler: Like coo-coo energy because I wasn't thinking about all the things I had to do on my to-do list, and who I had to email. I didn't have to email anybody back. I'm off email. So I tried to bring and carry as much of that back into my modern life as I could when I came back, and that meant not being as attached to my phone so much, saying no, not feeling just because someone emails me I've got to respond to them instantly. You know, like I get an email, if I don't respond in twenty minutes, I get a question mark back like, "Everything okay?" Like, "What do you mean, man? Like I just got out of the shower. I don't have to respond to you." Why do I have to respond? Just because you emailed me, now you control my time and when I'm going to respond back to you? I'm going to stop what I'm doing with my son to respond to you? It can't wait until tomorrow? You know? So I just- I mean I could talk for hours about this stuff, man, but I try to create the life more around the way that I wanted to live it. Shawn Stevenson: Yeah. There's this new term in psychology called decision fatigue. Jesse Itzler: Yeah. Shawn Stevenson: And so I like to look at it like a battery. Jesse Itzler: I have it in my book. Shawn Stevenson: Really? Jesse Itzler: Yes, it's real. Shawn Stevenson: So you've got this battery, and every decision you make, it's taking that battery down. And if you get down to E on your battery at the end of the day, you're not- first of all, the quality of your decisions goes down. That's a big thing. So you're deciding whether or not you're going to eat the Häagen-Dazs or the green smoothie. Jesse Itzler: Absolutely, I fully believe that. Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, and so also the amount of pressure that it adds to you. Every decision we make, it takes some glucose out of your brain. And your brain, even though it's like two pounds-ish of your mass, it uses 25% of your calories because of all the processing and those decisions is slowly taking away. So I love that advice of trying to have some of the decisions in your life that you do on a daily basis taken out, you know? Like what you're going to eat, for example. If you've got stuff kind of planned, or somebody helps to put your meals together, I think that's huge. That's another reason people succeed that do the meal prepping. And so wow, man, so many great insights. Can you let everybody know where they can first of all connect with you online? Your Instagram is awesome. Jesse Itzler: Oh man, thank you. Yeah my Instagram is just my name, @JesseItzler. My website is We keep it pretty simple. The books are on Amazon, and Barnes and Noble, and anywhere they sell books, 'Living With a SEAL,' and 'Living With the Monks.' And yeah, I got this cool Build Your Life Resume course, if anyone wants to check it out, it's on my website, and I just appreciate you having me on, man. Shawn Stevenson: Oh man, it's my pleasure. But before I let you go, I want to talk about one more thing that I'm loving, is this Fake Friday that you're doing on Instagram. So can you tell people what that's about? Because I think it's partially hilarious, partially messed up, and- yeah, so talk about that. Jesse Itzler: That's a good way to describe it. I'm really passionate about food, and the food system, and I think it's completely broken, and I'm really pissed off at Kellogg's right now amongst others because of some of the deceptive advertising around kids. Shawn Stevenson: Yeah. Jesse Itzler: So I basically challenged the CEO of Kellogg's to drink a glass- a small little glass of all the ingredients they put in like Froot Loops and some of the cereals, because it's got yellow- it's got Blue 1, Yellow 6, Red 40, BHT, all of these ingredients that are banned. They're so dangerous, they're banned in many other nations, yet they're out there promoting this on the website to young kids as a healthy nutritious breakfast. And on their box, they're saying that Cheerios can lower your cholesterol or reduce heart disease. Get out of here with that, man. So I challenged him $2 million if he would drink a small glass of all those ingredients for an entire school year, just like he's feeding the kids, and I feel like that's my cause. I feel like if you've been on this Earth for fifty years, and you haven't found something that you're passionate about. I have a platform and I want to speak up about it, because I would regret it if I didn't. Shawn Stevenson: Yeah. Jesse Itzler: So that's that. Shawn Stevenson: That's what's up, man. I love that. So Jesse, I think you're incredible, and like I said, you're carrying this with you forever now. You are the world's most interesting man. And final question for you, what is the model that you're here to set for other people with how you live your life personally? Jesse Itzler: I don't know, man. I don't really want to tell anyone how to live- here I am giving advice on how I live my life. That's how I live my life. I think it's important to have a system that works best for you, you know? But my advice would be build your life resume. Your life resume is as important, if not more important, than your business resume or anything else. If you have a chance to create a memory or a moment or an experience, take advantage of it because you just don't know if you're going to get that again, and you don't want to wake up at seventy and be like, "I can't believe I spent all my time in an office." I know you've got to work, people have got to make money, I'm not saying that. But you've got to put things on your calendar that are experiential. You've got to invest in experiences. Shawn Stevenson: Love it. Thank you so much, man. You're brilliant, and funny, and your story is incredible, and so inspiring, and I just can't wait to see what you do next, man. Jesse Itzler: Thank you, man. Thank you, thank you. Shawn Stevenson: Awesome. Jesse Itzler: Cool. Shawn Stevenson: Everybody, thank you so much for tuning into the show today. I hope you got a lot of value out of this. One of my biggest takeaways, #experienceisoverrated. I think that's one of the biggest things holding us back. We're waiting for the right conditions, we have to have this, we have to have this certification. You don't need a certification to help people, alright? You don't need to get a degree to do something good in the world. As a matter of fact, just that idea that you need experience holds you back from getting the experience. But if you're honest with yourself, chances are there are places in your psyche where you're propping that up as a reason you're not taking action, alright? So definitely check out Jesse's book, 'Living With the Monks.' It's such a great read, and a lot of life lessons. We just went through a few of them. And make sure to check him out on social media as well. And if you got a lot of value out of this episode, please share it out with your friends and family on Instagram, Twitter, all that good stuff, and tag me, tag Jesse, let him know what you thought about the show. And we've got some incredible show topics coming up, so be ready. Take care, have an amazing day, and I'll talk with you soon. And for more after the show, make sure to head over to That's where you can find all of the show notes, you can find transcriptions, videos for each episode, and if you've got a comment you can leave me a comment there as well. And please make sure to head over to iTunes and leave us a rating to let everybody know that the show is awesome, and I appreciate that so much. And take care, I promise to keep giving you more powerful, empowering, great content to help you transform your life. Thanks for tuning in.

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