SOAL 49 : Guided Principles
Ken Burke is a speaker, serial entrepreneur, mentor, and author. He is also the founder and CEO of The EntrepreneurNOW! Network. Ken is very passionate about helping people and entrepreneurs run and grow their businesses. In business, Ken relies on guiding principles and “ego checks”, to maintain a positive motivation. In this podcast, Ken gives practical steps to see your dreams manifested. He also discusses his new book, in which he shares about practicing joy, happiness, and fulfillment. He hopes that readers will be inspired to discover their God-given passions and move them closer to their purpose.
Being in the entrepreneurial world for 25 years, anything that I can do to inspire entrepreneurs and inspire people to live their dreams, whether it’s a business dream or another dream, is really my passion.
I check my ego to make sure my motivation is coming literally from my heart and not my ego.
You have to have an intention and you have to have an inspired intention that motivates you, and potentially motivates others.
An intention without action is a dream.
- It’s important to assess your values and understand your motivation in business.
- Create a set of guiding principles for yourself and choose wisely who you surround yourself with.
- If you want anything to manifest in your life you must have an inspired intent, take action, and then monitor your results.
- Anytime you try something new, there will be challenges and ups and downs.
Hello and welcome to Soul of a Leader Podcast, where we ignite soulful conversation with leaders. On today’s episode, Dr. Alicia and Dr. Eileen sit with Ken Burke to discuss guided principles.
Hello, and welcome to Soul of a Leader. On today’s episode, we have Ken Burke, he’s the founder and CEO of the EntrepreneurNOW! Network. He’s a speaker, a mentor, an author. Ken founded MarketLive a market-leading, enterprise-class e-commerce software platform used by major merchants, generating over $2 billion annually in online sales through this platform. He sold MarketLive to Vista Equity Partners in 2016. Ken is also an author of the book, Prosper: Five Keys to Thriving in Business and Life, which will be released in January of 2021. Ken is also an e-learning instructor with more than 30 courses published on major e-learning platforms, including LinkedIn, Learning, Forbes, and FutureLearning.
Ken earned his MBA in entrepreneurship from USC Marshall School of Business, and he’s on multiple boards. Welcome to Soul of a Leader, Ken. We’re so glad to have you here today.
Oh, thank you so much. Thank you. I’m really excited to talk to you today. I can’t wait to hear what we’re going to talk about.
I know. Your resume is pretty impressive. If there’s anything that we missed or something you would love to add, because right now I can tell this has got to be a great conversation with you, Ken.
Oh my God, you guys nailed it. I think you made it sound a lot better than what I’ve done. I can just say that I’m very passionate about helping people and entrepreneurs run and grow their business. Being in the entrepreneurial world for 25 years, anything that I can do to inspire entrepreneurs and inspire people to live their dreams, whether it’s a business dream or another dream, is really my passion. And if I said that’s what I want to do with the rest of my life, that is absolutely what I want to do with the rest of my life.
Oh, wow. Well, you’re talking to two entrepreneurs here, I am so glad to have you.
Ken, this is so wonderful. I can feel and hear the passion in your voice about helping people. And Soul of a Leader is all about servant leadership, authentic leadership, and spiritual leadership. So can you share with us some of the values that make you who you are as a leader and help demonstrate what you do and your success?
Yeah. I think that some of it just grows out over time and some of it’s just innate in who you are in terms of where those values come from. I don’t always know where those values come from, but I do spend a lot of time looking at my values and trying to understand what my motivation is. And I also actually look at the values of the people I do business with as well, and I think it’s really important who you associate with. And I think people know that, but looking at it from a value perspective, you can tell a whole lot about people when you actually dive into their values.
And funny enough, values, once you start to get to know somebody, are very transparent. So it is one of the tools that I actually use to maybe determine who I might do business with, do they have the same values as I do or similar values or complimentary values as I do, and how are they going to behave? Because I’ve seen a lot of it, I’ve seen a lot of really good things in business, and I’ve seen things over the 30 plus years that I… not necessarily people that weren’t good actors. I recall I hired a CEO in my company who… I had been running the company for many years and felt it was time to bring in a CEO, and he actually didn’t hold the same values that I did. And quite frankly, he was kind of a bad person, and in two years, literally almost destroyed my company.
And so as an entrepreneur, you say, “Well, how does that happen?” He eventually left and we restored the company and the company values, and it took a lot of work, actually. But I always, in every company meeting in every communication, I always continued to reinforce. He had created in our company a blame culture, which was very negative, it was all about attacking and blaming. And as soon as I took back over the company, and unfortunately we had to get rid of him, we refreshed the company and got the blame culture out, got the supportive culture back in, and we began to work… And I just reinforced it over and over and over again.
And then a couple of years later, we actually sold the company and had a wonderful, wonderful exit and everybody profited and benefited from. The other thing I will say is that in our company, and I very much believe this in a lot of companies, that everybody shares in the equity and the profit of the company. So everybody in our company from day one always had stock in the company. I know it’s pretty typical for a tech company to do that, but I think it’s important for all companies to bring whoever’s in that network together, and everybody gets a chance to benefit from the outcome as well. So just a couple of things on values as well.
That’s so important that you talk about the values upfront because sometimes it can be a defining moment in your business, and also, it can really help you to understand the individuals who you put in leadership to say, “Wait a minute. Huh? You really don’t share the same values.” And that can be a major effect on business-
… relationships, even employees. So let’s talk a little more about that because, oftentimes, people are afraid to say what is needed to be said. So how do you do that? When you realize that obviously you made the, not such a good decision, how do you have enough strength to say what needs to be said?
Absolutely. Well, first of all, I’ve hired quite a lot of executives and senior executives. Our company was about 250 employees, and so we had a good seven, eight people on the executive team. And I can tell you just by bringing in one individual, whether it’s a CEO or a VP, or what have you, they can literally change to the positive or the negative, the entire flow of the company, the way the executive team works, the way all the employees work together. And it doesn’t have to be the CEO as well, as you’d pointed out earlier in your comments as well. So I think you have to be brave enough.
When I say brave enough, I learned over time that maybe what I accepted 20 years ago I will not accept today, and so I created a set of rules, I call them guiding principles. You can call it mission or vision or you hang a plaque on the wall and say, “This is what we’re going to do.” And I’ve been also into many companies where I did a lot of selling for my company, so I’d go visit all my customers, and I can see the ones that actually really reinforced the values that they hung on the wall in the lobby, I would go into their boardroom and I could pretty much tell whether or not this is going to be a good customer or not.
So it’s really filtering out folks that just are not aligned with you, but also it comes within the hiring process and really spending time with that person. Hiring is a lot like your first date, your second date until you actually move in together, for lack of a better example, you are really going to know. So you do have to be a bit careful with that. We did a lot of interviewing, not just by myself, but by all of our team members, peers. You probably would have talked to, getting hired at MarketLive, maybe 10 people. So I think part of the answer to your question is, hire really well and spend time in that process and don’t rush it.
And my number one criteria matched the culture of the company, and then I looked at skills and what they could bring to the company, it was secondary to the cultural match. And I was very, very keen on making sure I was always aware of what the culture of the company was and making sure it was out there and reinforced in every company meeting, quite frankly. But the second part of your question is, how you really are able to, once you notice there’s something wrong. I can tell you something I’ve lived by, it was a great piece of advice I got many years ago, which was, you’re better to let somebody go earlier than hold onto them for whatever reason you might do.
Yes, you might be very loyal. I’m a very loyal employer. And I had employees that were with me, this is unheard of in the tech world, for literally 20 plus years, and not one or two. I think we might’ve had 25% of our employee base with us for 10 plus years. And the company was 21 years before I sold it. And because here’s what we did, every quarter, we used to, on their anniversary, I think it was the fifth, 10th and 15th anniversary, we would bring a big bouquet of flowers and a beautiful vase from one of our customers, very nice, and it was and make a big deal out of… Every quarter, we would go around the company and we would do this to the people that had…
And I just remember, the size of the base was how long you were here. And they were beautiful vases, by the way. And I just remember every quarter handing out one or two of those 15 years or 10-year vases when they met that milestone. They also got a big bonus and time off and all those other things too. But we really honored the fact that people stayed with us. In addition, culture comes, not just with the employees, but also with the customers. We had a lot of customers that were with us 10, 12, 15 years in an industry, we were in the e-com platform industry, where you typically replace your platform every three to five years in the enterprise world.
And our customers, we had customers that were there for 20 plus years. It was amazing. I was always honored by that, and customers were proud of it as well. So I think your question extends to both employees and to customers. And by the way, I’ve had to fire a couple of customers in my time as well for not acceptable behavior. I used to do a check on the customers as well. And sometimes I had to, if they were yelling at our employees or they were badgering him, because we were in a very intense industry and it’s in the e-com tech business. I won’t mention the customer but I remember being on the phone with one, and I’m like, “This is unacceptable. You will not do this. I don’t care if you are… “
And I’m talking about big name movie studios. I had two of the big ones. I won’t mention them, but I literally had to say, “We’re just not going to accept that, otherwise, we’re going to have to part ways.” And we’re talking about a million-plus-dollar account a year. Sometimes you have to do that. You know what that does? Is it pushed throughout the organization? Because trust me, the four or five people that were in my office when I said that, that got out to the entire employee base and they, “You know said what? This company stands for something and they’re not going to let us be pushed around.”
So it had to go both ways, but it also has to be very appropriate. I would never yell at a customer or an employee or anyone for that matter, I don’t really yell at anyone. I try not to anyway, but I’ll put somebody in their place unless it’s appropriate and proper.
Well, thank you so much for sharing that because I heard that you will stand up for your employees no matter who it is. And it takes courage to do that. And it also takes courage to give feedback. I always say feedback’s a gift, it takes courage to receive it and it takes courage to give it. And sometimes in business, there’s times where you’re respected versus liked. What I heard you say, Ken, earlier in the conversation is that you live by some principles. And if you wouldn’t mind sharing us what those principles are, that would be great.
Yeah. Let me give you a couple. I call them guiding principles, and I use guiding principles for a lot of things, working with my customers, working with employees, I always want to have a set of guiding principles. And then I also have a set of guiding principles for myself as well. And I think trust is very, very high on the list. I’m a very loyal person. So building trust with people and having a guiding principle of establishing trust with someone is extremely important to me. Also, respect, I just find that I was very respectful to the employees, not every employee or every customer, but you know what? I never went down with them.
Because here’s what I found in business, unfortunately, in business and in life, hence my book around that, and I have a whole section of my book dedicated to this, but business is triggered based on ego. So if you look at what happens within business, a lot of the motivation of whether you’re inside and you have an employee or an external customer, what have you, a lot of the things that people do that are irrational, and there are so many things that don’t make any business sense that are driven by ego and they’re driven negatively by ego. So I’m always looking at two things. One, I have a guiding principle that I check my ego constantly.
And what I mean by that is, whatever I’m doing, I actually look and say, “Am I doing this out of ego, out of my own ego?” Because I got to tell you, when I was 20 or 30, I did a lot of things out of ego, even though I didn’t know what that meant, but I was doing it because I was either… Whether it be positioning people or trying to boost my own ego or what have you, and now, as I entered my late 30s and 40s and even early 50s, now I actually do a motivation check. Because an ego, in my book and as I define it, ego is how you define yourself around how much money you have, what your social status is, who you hang out with, the material goods that you have, the status in the job that you have, the relationships that you have, those are all the things that you define yourself with.
And so when I start to work to define myself, and a guiding principle I always follow is, I check my ego to make sure my motivation is coming literally from my heart and not my ego. So it’s coming from love and not ego, if you will. An ego is what I consider the negative part of our existence. And obviously, love or whatever you want to call, it is coming from the positive side. So a guiding principle, if I’m always coming from love after checking my ego, then I know that I’m right. Am I trying to be a big company because I want to be big, I want to be big and strong and brag to people and tell them how rich I am or whatever? Because I can tell you it’s not that exciting. Really, it isn’t, nobody cares. Or do I want to create a company of substance that is actually delivering value?
So my first company, my first big company was an e-commerce company, and we did $2 billion a year in online commerce. We taught merchants from small to large, and I’m talking to some of the biggest companies in the world, how to do e-commerce over to our 21-year existence. And today, I got out of the e-commerce world and I went into the e-learning world, and I said, “I want to even go further with being able to deliver value, whether free of charge or… ” I do more consulting for free than I think I get paid for, and that’s perfectly okay because I know I’m bringing businesses and people along to do that. I guess I could bundle that up into a guiding principle as well. But you have to throw away your ego to do that, I mean, you have to literally throw it away.
And it’s very important to check the motivation. What’s your motivation for doing what you’re doing? If you understand that. Let me also give you a quick tip on, how do you know if you’re coming from ego or not? So ego is a manifestation of judgements or opinion. So if you render an opinion about yourself or somebody else, you’re coming from ego, it’s real simple. And it’s a nice rule to check. And that’s the main thing that I look at in my own life is, anytime that I render an opinion, an opinion is just a judgment. I say, “You’re too tall, you’re too short. You’re too rich or too poor.” Whatever that judgment is, and if I’m rendering that on somebody else, I’m coming from ego with that, I’m judging them in some way.
Or, here’s the other one, how about myself? This goes inside. If I judge myself by saying, “I’m not good enough, I’m not strong enough. I’m not smart enough. I can’t do that.” I’m now doing the same thing to myself. Both are the same sides of the coin. So if I stop that behavior or if I catch myself, and that’s what I do, it’s a muscle. So as I’m working with everyday life, I’m like, “Wait a minute. I just came from ego there. That was an ego act.” Or, “I was just judging myself. Why did I just do that?” And I catch myself. And so the more you build that muscle up, by the way, the less you actually have to think about it, and it just becomes innate.
And I would say I’ve been working on this probably for 10 or 15 years or maybe more because this was a challenge for me. I was very judgmental in business. You get judged all the time by your board, by your investors, by your employees, everybody’s judging you. And you really have to just say, “You know what? I’m okay with the decisions that I’m making myself, and I’m doing the best job that I can.” And, give you another guiding principle, I know I talk fast and mix them all up. But I got to tell you, you got to accept yourself or love yourself. And I can see that you guys live that way too. And I have a whole section in my book about accepting yourself. You can call it loving yourself for accepting yourself, and it’s hard for people to do.
And if I boil it back down to where people are challenged in life and why they can’t achieve what they want to achieve, I got to tell you, that’s the first step of the process is, you’ve got to figure out a way to continually love yourself. So in my guiding principles, that’s another factor that I have to catch myself when I don’t, because I got to tell you, I went through many, many years and beat the crap out of myself. Maybe I had a father that he never physically beat me, but maybe he was very critical. I mean, very criticized. Well, guess what? That formed my opinion of myself. And from that point forward, not knowing it, I was critical of me and may be critical of other people as well.
And then as I learn now, it’s like none of that mattered, no. Every day is a gift and every day is… I know it sounds cliche to say, but every day that I accept myself and every day I’m like, “I’m fine. I’m good.” I don’t even have those thoughts anymore, they don’t really enter in as much. I still have to remind myself every once in a while, “Okay, Ken, you’re not loving yourself.” That’s a guiding principle. But I can get back to that space very quickly.
Well, and with that, it’s like believing. Alicia has a poster and a pillow behind her, it says believe. Believe in you, believe that you’re on this earth for a reason, believe in a higher power, whatever you believe in, there’s an energy within you or anywhere that you’re here for reason. So thank you. Thank you so much for sharing that.
It was so much in. I mean, I’m taking notes and listening and I’m enjoying your energy. And one of the things that I have to practice every day, because we have to be authentic leaders is, I have to tell myself when I get out of prayer or whatever and come into my office, “I’m enough.” Accept I am enough. And I may not be what you want me to be for that particular project, and so I may not fit in, I’m fine with that. But when you stay in that love-yourself moment and say, “I got what it takes, that didn’t fit, but I’m enough. I can be the answer to somebody else’s problem, but I’m not the answer to your problem.” And so it all goes with that, you gotta remind yourself of that every day, sometimes every other day.
Absolutely. And we do slip because we were conditioned from wherever it came from, and I know all of our parents had well meaning in mind or maybe school and kids and wherever formed, it formed, and I don’t always blame the parents, but all of this came in as we became humans. Wherever we learn it or wherever it’s innate in us, we have to break it. And it goes on generation by generation until you break it, because our parents had this in them too and they pass it along to us, not knowingly, it’s just that’s life. And when you can break that cycle, oh my goodness, how your kids will be different because you’re going to teach them how to acknowledge this stuff.
Or they may not even need to acknowledge it because that’s not how their brain works. They don’t come at it from that perspective. Their values, as we talked earlier, are different. Let me comment on a couple of things that you said, which I think are really super important. It really also goes into the themes, and since I’m an entrepreneur and we talk about business, this idea of success. I got to tell you, and I had this realization probably 18 times in my life and I wrote about it in my book. And then it was like a month ago, and I went, “My definition of success is still off. It’s still off, even after writing a book on it and the whole bit, I still don’t have a downright.” But I worked on it, even as early as a month ago.
So this gets back into the word you had mentioned, which was practice. And at the end of our time together, I do want to talk a little bit about practicing joy, happiness, and fulfillment, because I actually… And the word practice is so important, that you said, but I’m going to save that for just a little bit. I hope we get a chance to get back to it, because I tell you, it’s the golden nugget of the realizations that I’ve made so far in my life. I got a whole lot more to make and a whole a lot more to realize. But I want to talk about the definition of success, because it’s your definition, and you hit on it.
In my book, I actually talk about, and it sounds a little bit weird, but I talk about, “You are perfect at this moment in time, as it means at right now, exactly how you should be, you are.” That’s it. There is no past, there’s no future, it’s just right now, but it’s also for right now, with all your flaws, because we all have them, with everything that you have, you’re perfect as of this moment in time. That doesn’t mean that in the next moment, you can’t get better, but this idea of definition, we’re messed up in the world around our definition of success, wherever we get it.
I got it, I don’t know where I got it, but I will tell you what my definition of success was, is I’m going to go to college, I’m going to go to grad school, I’m going to do really good in school, so I’m going to try, try, try, try, which I did, I tried really hard, I did the best that I could. And then I’m going to go out and get a job and then I’d go out and make a lot of money. And then what happens? You see, what happens is that you go out and you make a lot of money and you sell your company. I sold my tech company. Okay, great. And then I look back and I have to tell you, after I sold it, I took a year off.
I went on vacation, meaning I went to Europe for a year and enjoyed life, and I came back and it was hollow. So you have all the money, all the accolades, you sold your tech company, congratulations. And it was the worst part of my life, it was like, “Well, this should be the best, according to everybody.” And by the way, I’m not the only entrepreneur that goes through this, we all do. You build your company, you sell it, and then you’re like, “Oh, now what do I got?” Because that brain that helped you create that company worked 16 hours a day on this treadmill of success, we’ll get to that.
And then all of a sudden it’s all gone. It’s like losing a loved one. I know it sounds weird. So as much as you define your success as maybe money or yachts or houses, or not even material things, maybe you define it in other ways, like a relationship. And then that relationship has gone. Well, then are you gone with it? It’s the same thing, it applies to everything. So the point is that you have to be okay with yourself. We get back to, and I know you’re going to like this one, you got to love yourself before you can give love. We all know that.
You’ve had 100 guests probably on this that I’ve said the same thing. You can’t give something you don’t have. So you got to focus on you first and then all of these other things get resolved. So if a relationship does break up, you’re not traumatized. Do you know that millionaires and billionaires kill themselves on financial collapse? And it happens all the time. Big financial collapse, they go bankrupt, they lose a lot of money, whatever happens, and then they kill themselves. It’s horrible, I’m sorry to even bring it up.
What was their definition? Their definition was so off because now all of a sudden they took a backward step to it. My definition of success is today is great, and if I get an opportunity to make… Well, I have a number of definitions of success, the way I think about it, but as long as I’m on my path to deliver the things that I want to deliver, that’s all the evaluation is for my definition of success. It’s no longer money, and it’s no longer necessarily a relationship or whatever. It’s just literally, today is great and tomorrow I can make even better, but I don’t have to, but I don’t have to.
See, what happens in business, I’ll give you one more thing, what happens in business is we get on what this thing called, and in life, we get on this thing called the treadmill effect. We are literally on the treadmill of life and we’re peddling, and then we achieve something, and you’re like, “Okay, great.” Now, I’ve got a million dollars, let’s just pretend. And then you achieve a million, you’re like, “Well, I want two million.” And then you get back on the treadmill, and then you beat yourself up until you get to two million then at two million you’re like, “I want five million, and then I want bigger friends and I want…”
And then you get on the treadmill again, and you beat the crap out of yourself until you get to five million. So you get those little stair steps of maybe some initial adrenaline, and then they go away. That’s my whole point in bringing all this up. My summary is, get your definition of success right, and please, please, please, don’t make it somebody else’s definition. If you don’t want to be a doctor and your parents want you to be a doctor, don’t be a doctor, go out and do your art, or do your violin, or do your music, or do whatever it is. That’s what I want you to do.
I don’t want you to be a doctor if you don’t want to be a doctor, if you don’t have a passion for it, because we’re all given, I believe from God, we’re all given the passion, talents, inside of us, they’re already here. I wrote about this in my book, you just have to discover them, but then don’t let anybody take you off and use their definition of success for you. Apply your own definition, not somebody else’s.
Wow. Thank you so much. Thank you for that. And in that I heard you wanted to hit on joy, happiness, and fulfillment. Those are three things you wanted to talk about, but before we go there, and yet I always say, put the oxygen mask on you first because if you’re not healthy or well or good, you can’t help anybody else, and you won’t be your best self-to deliver your love, your joy, or your happiness with others. And then there’s another thing that was interesting about what you said, Ken, was there’s this quote about the morning of your life, afternoon of your life, and your evening of your life.
And what was attractive in the morning of your life is not the same in the afternoon, and then it’s not attractive in the afternoon in your evening. And those timing is not around age, it’s usually around experience, and people can get into those at different times in their life. You’re young, and they also call it, I think, the warrior, the king, and then the sage, it’s similar. So tell me a little bit about practicing joy, happiness, and fulfillment.
Absolutely. It’s funny because I wrote the entire book and it took me like 10 years to write the book. I wrote it on airplanes while I was traveling from sales called the sales call that I was doing for my company. And I only wrote on airplanes by the way. And I wrote this massive 700-page book, I didn’t know I was really doing it. And of course, I did a lot of research and I read hundreds of books, and then I actually took those books and I summarized those books and then I threw away the summaries and just wrote what was in my heart, because it already filled into me. But the last chapter of the book, I only wrote like a year ago or six months ago, right before I got it published.
And it’s called Practicing Joy, Happiness, and Fulfillment. And I think that the thing that I learned, which was a little bit disjointed from the experience of writing the book, because the book took time and I was learning as I was going in the book. And so all of that’s in the book as well, but this was a recap of maybe what my current realizations are. And the most important thing that I learned, and you always learn from your teachers and mentors, and we all have them. And I remember this lady was right down the hall from me here and she talked about practicing joy and I’m like, “Okay, I’m not pract…”
You have to actually practice this stuff every day. Nobody told me not, I figured I just had to learn and that was it. Where did practicing come from? That sounds like a lot of work. It’s actually not. I like it, I do, I love going to the gym, I love working on, unfortunately, right now we can’t do that, but hopefully soon. I liken it to building muscle or building whatever, just go into the gym, just refresh. And it’s the same thing, you’re building the muscle every time you’re practicing some of this stuff, whether it’s checking your ego, whether it’s moving closer to your purpose. And we haven’t even talked about purpose yet, I forgot. Oh, we need to talk about purpose, but I will, I have a story about that.
But practicing joy, happiness, and fulfillment is the last chapter of my book. By the way, it is free of charge and available to all your listeners on my website, Kenburke.com. And actually, I don’t usually even give out the web address, but it’s not-
No, we’re glad you did. It’s free, let’s do it. Share the joy, share the happiness, share the love.
Exactly. And it’s just a downloadable file on my… And it’s like 20, 25 pages. The last chapter of my book is actually 14 pages because I’m looking at it right now. And so super quick to read, but it’s my 20 or 25 things that you need to do that I do and I figured if I can translate what I do, it’ll translate into other people’s lives as well. And at least one of those 14 you’re going to identify with if not more. And it’s the things that I do to practice, happiness, joy, and fulfillment. One of the things I do, it’s very basic, I keep a journal. I got a journal and I write in it. I’ve had a journal for… And it’s weird for a dude like me to keep a journal. A business guy who writes in journals?
I’m looking at you like, “Hmm.”
I think that’s good.
[crosstalk 00:30:40] it’s a woman only thing, but for a dude to write a journal and I write on airplane, so I do fly a lot, not right now, but I do fly a lot, so I journal mainly on airplanes, but you know what, it is relaxing, it is cathartic, it is a way for me to get out whatever I’m thinking. Sometimes I journal a paragraph, a page, sometimes I’ll journal like 20 pages like in a little bit of script. And I always write it, I never type it, it’s just me. It literally helps with your penmanship and spelling and all the things that we forget when we’re on a computer. So I have to encourage you. I always write in the same book as well, it’s always in the same one. I get on Amazon for $10, and I have a library of them.
Like I said, I hope nobody ever reads them, but I’ve been doing it for like 15 or 20 years. Best tool I ever got, best tool. And you can get even a gratitude journal, it’s not a gratitude journal, but I got to tell you, one of the things is that if you do want to get to this place of loving yourself and really relaxation, sorry to throw out one of these things, if you give gratitude, that’s all you have to do. It’s like, you’re just grateful, whatever you’re grateful for. In that moment in time, it is impossible for you to feel sad, it is impossible for you to feel fear. It is impossible for you to feel hate just by giving gratitude.
It might only last for a second, but it’s a little dose of happiness or relaxation that you can give by just saying, I’m grateful for what I have. And it can last for a minute, five minutes, a month, however long, and you got to practice it, and it just comes up, well, I’m grateful. I’ll sometimes walk through a park, I’m a little cookie and I like to travel around to different cities and I’ll walk through a park and I’ll just be grateful because this park is amazing and an amazing city. I can name parks all over the world that I’ve walked through and I’m like, “Oh my God, I’m just so grateful to be here.”
Travel is my passion, so I’m always grateful when I get an opportunity to travel as well. So I think that talks a little bit about this idea of practicing it, but you really have to be in tune with it. This stuff whether it’s meditation or prayer, whatever your audience might do, you have to do this on a regular basis, journaling, meditation prayer, and just thinking about it as well. I also suggest reading books on it as well, continue to feed your mind through an audio book or a book because it brings… Even though you’ve read the book, I read books sometimes five times over my life or 10 times over my life, it’s just because I love the author, Wayne Dyer.
Me too. I love him. Louise Hay,
Louise Hay is amazing. And I was very fortunate to be able to go to Wayne Dyer’s, every year he would do one seminar in Mallory for a weekend. And I was very fortunate to go to all 10 that he did. I actually saw him two months before he passed at a writing workshop, and he was lecturing. He was inspiring my book to come through me. Anyway, I shared that story, not because you’re a friend of Wayne Dyer, I hope other people are as well, but I absolutely love what he talks about and what he represents in the world. So a lot of goodness there as well.
One last thing, and I don’t even know if we have time or not. They’re probably saying, “Oh my goodness, well, this guy shut up or talks.”
Go, go, go, go, go, Ken.
But I wanted to talk about purpose because it is really important, and it’s in that chapter on practicing happiness and fulfillment. And I just wanted to talk about purpose because, again, after selling my company and working for so many years, literally all my life to build something and then selling it, I had to refine my purpose. And what I realized was money is not a purpose, even sometimes relationships, no, not a purpose, they can be purposeful, so can money by the way. And by the way, money’s okay, money’s good, I like money, but it’s not a purpose.
And then I was trying to figure out what I was going to do and I started up a couple of companies that didn’t really work very well. It’s exactly what an entrepreneur does after he, or she sells his or her company, they go through this cathartic process, and we all go through the same process, by the way. I didn’t know that until I listened to a podcast on it. And I’m like, “Oh my God, you just described everything that I went through for the last two years, why didn’t I listen to this two years ago, I could have saved myself two years and a lot of money and starting a company and consulting and doing this.”
And really what I had to find was, I couldn’t retire. I’m not that old, but even though maybe financially I could retire, I can’t retire. Maybe some people could embrace that, I can’t. So my purpose was not to retire, and I’m still searching, but I had to continue to stay on purpose because without it, life is hollow, life was not meaningful to me. I couldn’t find the meaning, and for me, I have to find meaning in life, and I have to do something that serves others and contributes. And maybe it doesn’t all happen today, maybe it comes in over time, I still got a lot of years left. I do feel the sense of urgency because I am a driven individual, but I also have to pace myself to make sure I stay on purpose on an ongoing basis.
And so I also do another check which is about this practicing joy and happiness, Am I on purpose? Am I doing something for the right reason or the wrong reason? And as long as I can stay on purpose, it starts to feel good. You get in this thing called flow, and then things start to come, intention builds, and you start to see things manifest in your life when you’re on purpose, when you’re in that flow. And I don’t mean to use too many crazy new-age terms, but I experienced it and I felt it and it’s like, “Wow, this is really cool.” And we’re not always in flow, we’re not supposed to be in flow. By the way, I’ll throw one more thing out, we’re not supposed to be happy all the time.
Funny, people who have read my book and it’s not really in full distribution yet until January, but giving out some free copies. And they said, “One of the things Ken that stuck with me more than anything, I didn’t realize, I thought I was supposed to be happy all the time. We’re not. It’s not the goal. So if you make the goal you should be happy all the time, you should practice happiness, but actually to be happy all the time, I think is an unachievable goal because we are going to have ups and downs in our lives. We are going to have to go back to our spirit, our God, our inward, we’re going to have good moments and bad moments. That’s the rollercoaster of life.
I think that if you don’t have that, you’re dead, you’re literally flat lined. There are going to be those ups and downs. And so don’t hold yourself to a standard that you have to be happy all the time. Anyway, those are just a couple of quick things.
And it’s impossible to be happy all the time, there are going to be challenges in life.
But you want those challenges because anytime you do something new… I’m doing something new right now, I’m starting up yet another software company in addition to the entrepreneur now, and I’ve gotten some rejections from people that might invest in the company. And I’ve got people that have looked at my business plan and it took me two or three months to get it right, but I had a lot of like, “Ken, what are you trying to do here?” I’m like, “But I’m a business guy, I’m successful, I know these things, supposedly.” I teach people these things, I’m pretty good at teaching people, but evidently, it took me a little while.
And I finally think I got it literally just in the last week, I might put together the business plan for the 18th time and revise and revise, but there were some down days when people looked at it and said, “You don’t know what you’re doing.” Or, “You don’t know what you’re doing, meaning I don’t understand what you want to do with this company.” I’m just sharing a recent example just to say that anytime I try to stretch myself, that’s when it comes in. So if you’re flat-lined and you’re maybe just like, “I don’t do much and I don’t entertain things in my life, I don’t try new things.” I think you can achieve an okayness with things.
But when you’re actually trying to do something new, try to go to the next level, try to manifest something, you will experience the ups and downs that because it’s new, you’re not supposed to be perfect at it. You got to learn it first. So give yourself the opportunity to learn it. That’s all. I hope that made sense, I was a little-
Oh, it made perfectly good sense.
Sure, it did. Thank you.
Now, as we get ready to close and you have said so much great information, what are some words of wisdom for the listeners?
Yeah, I think I gave some of them. I think the thing that I had put down in my head here was this idea of practicing on an ongoing basis and building those muscles up, the idea of purpose, the idea of checking your ego. And I got to tell you… Let me give this like it’s an equation, I’m a very logical business person and it’s an equation that really resonated with me. It’s three steps. So if your listeners are listening, take note because this took me 25 years to learn, I’m going to give it to you in five seconds. If you want to manifest anything in your life, you have to do three things.
I believe that first of all, you have to have an intention and you have to have an inspired intention that motivates you, and potentially motivates others. Hopefully it comes from love and it comes from a point of serving people. Number one, you have to have an intention. I don’t even care if that intention is to serve yourself, I’m okay with that or others, but you’ve got to have an inspired intent. And the number two, you have to take inspired action. So an intention without action is a dream. It’s a dream that never gets manifested. I very much believe that and I know there’s many books out there that says, just put it out in the universe and it will somehow magically, the universe will conspire to make it happen.
There’s only a little bit of a problem with that, which is you got to actually do stuff, you’ve got to do stuff, and you’ve got to try stuff. And then some of it works, some of it fails. And I think along with taking inspired action, I’m going to give an extra dose here, I don’t normally throw this in, is persistence. I think that continuing to push forward in a positive direction and giving yourself permission to do that and not kicking yourself in the butt in terms of beating yourself up, that persistence I have found when I stick with something, I figure my way through it. EntrepreneurNOW! Network, it wasn’t a hit right off the bat, I figured my way through it, I brought on some amazing people and now it’s cooking. We’re doing really well, we got this and that going on, but it wasn’t right away.
And then the third area is monitor the results. You’ve got to monitor the results, but let it go. So when you’re monitoring the results, you’re just looking for feedback if you’re on track or not. And by the way, when you have this inspired action and you’re trying to manifest and you have inspired action, you take… I’m sorry, you have an intention and you take inspired action, you may not always get the results on your time, which is in my world, is now. It may be on God’s time, it may be on the universe’s time, it’s not on your time. And I know folks out there that believe in God, believe that he’ll bring things to you and such, but if it’s not on your time and you’re struggling with it, you got to monitor those results and make adjustments accordingly.
And one last thing, you cannot have expectations around the results. This is my most recent learning that you’re getting hot off the presses, because what I was messing up with when in my own life was, okay, I got the intention, I’m really super clear, I’ve got the taking action, by the way, got it down. I’m really good at taking action. I bet a lot of your listeners are really good at taking action as well. But then I’m wondering, well, where are the results? Why don’t I have results? Why haven’t I made a million dollars? Why haven’t I made $5? Why haven’t I done this? Why haven’t I done that? Why am I not famous? Why are people not listening to me?
Oh my goodness, it goes on and on and on to a bit of craziness. So what I was doing was judging the results. I stopped doing that two or three months ago, I’m like, “I’m not judging the results anymore because I’m fine, I have everything I need, I’m satiated. I don’t need to necessarily bring anything else in my life, but I would like to, because I want to do more for the world before I’m not here any longer, I want to contribute more. And if I can contribute more, that’s great. So I’m going to continue to work on this and continue not to judge myself and/or the results that I get. And if you truly understand those three steps, I got to tell you, I wish I did 20 years ago. I understand that now, and I’m working on it every day. That’s what I can say.
I took notes.
Oh, good. I hope somebody will listen to this very well. I really don’t even have that written anywhere because it came in after my book, but I’ll write a blog post on it or something as well and share that with you and your listeners. That would be lovely.
Well, Ken, this has been a wonderful, wonderful episode.
Thank you. So am I.
No. We are grateful for your knowledge, your wisdom, your experience, and of course, your energy. Your energy is just so enlightening. We cannot thank you enough. We’re so grateful.
I’m grateful. Thank you.
We are grateful. Oh my God, I’m an entrepreneur ready to go now.
Yeah, all right. I love it. [crosstalk 00:43:15].
Ken was like, “Oh, my God.”
We believe you.
We’re ready. So thank you again.
Thank you for joining us on Soul of a Leader Podcast. We are igniting a new way of leading with your soul and interviewing ordinary people with extraordinary impact. Thank you for listening to the stories of our leaders who will help and guide you on your leadership journey. For more information on our podcast, please visit our website at www.soulofaleader.com. Thank you for listening.