Today’s guest has been there for me as both a friend and a mentor, and I’ve always admired the way that she fits her business—and there are many—to her life to find that perfect work-life balance. I’m talking, of course, about the multi-talented Chalene Johnson. Her new book, 131 Method, isn’t just a diet book. Instead, as she puts it, “it’s more of a ‘change-your-life’ program.”
I’ve gotten to know Chalene and her amazing family super well over the years, between catching up at Smart Success Summit and Marketing Impact Academy, and her two previous SPI appearances. I’ve always admired how effortlessly she seems to maintain a work-life balance while still being an insanely prolific entrepreneur. The truth, however, is that that’s the result of some seriously hard work she’s done to get to this point.
There’s a lot to take from this episode. We talk about how Chalene and her family use written personal policies and procedures to set goals and keep track of when something is taking over. Most importantly, she shares the mistakes she’s made and how they’ve helped her grow. You don’t want to miss this inspirational, entertaining episode—let’s dive in!
Chalene Johnson: We’re so used to being hyperstimulated and go, go, go, go, go, go, go, I’ll say, admittedly, mainly for me because I had such an addiction to work as my default. We had lots of things in . . .
Pat Flynn: You’re listening to Chalene Johnson, an amazing friend and mentor of mine and today we’re going to be discussing work-life balance. I don’t know if you’re like me or like Chalene, but oftentimes we default to just continuing to stay busy and how do we know what we should stay busy on when we want to say no to things. What do we prioritize, how do we manage this versus our family, how do we blend them together nicely? I’ve always admired Chalene and how she’s been able to seemingly have everything together and we find out in this episode that it wasn’t always that way. You’re also going to hear about an amazing business opportunity that Chalene and her husband, Bret, turned down after just having a single conversation with somebody and what this person said is something we should all be thinking about related to our businesses as well. Make sure you stick around for that, that and a lot more coming your way right after the intro music. Here we go.
Announcer: Welcome to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, where it’s all about working hard now so you can sit back and reap the benefits later.
Chalene: He once thought he could beat Chalene Johnson in a lip sync battle, Pat Flynn.
Pat: Hey, what’s up Team Flynn, thank you for joining me today in session 366 of the Smart Passive Income Podcast. My name is Pat Flynn here to help you make more money, save more time, and help more people, too. Chalene Johnson is here with us today, we’ll get with her in just a second, but if you don’t know who Chalene is, he is an incredibly famous celebrity in the fitness space and she had been for many years and she’s still helping people, loads of people with their health and fitness. She has a book coming out called 131 Method which I’ve personally seen have transformations on several people’s lives, especially on social media.
She also helps people with their businesses and with work-life balance and understanding how to live their best life and build a business on the side or full time. She’s definitely been a mentor of mine as well. So I’m really stoked to have her on the show today. Without further ado, here is Chalene Johnson. She’s got a couple of podcasts that you should listen to, The Chalene Show and Build Your Tribe, and the 131 Method book that is coming up very soon, if not already by the time you listen to this. Here she is, Chalene Johnson. Chalene welcome back to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, thank you so much for being here again.
Chalene: Pat, it is so awesome to be here, I love you.
Pat: I love you too. And I love that you are just doing all these amazing things. You have a book that is coming out, 131 Method, your personalized nutrition solution to boost metabolism, restore gut health and lose weight and I definitely want to get into the story about how this book came to be. At the time we’re recording this, it’s a couple months away from launching and it’s already in the top charts on Amazon. It’s going to crush, I’m so stoked for you.
Chalene: Which is cool that you got to tell me that today because I’m just not worrying about that this time. I’m really just trying to focus on changing people’s lives with it and not worrying about like, okay, how does it measure up against everything else? That was fun for you to share that with me today, thank you.
Pat: Yeah, absolutely. Tell me more about that, how were you able to do that because I know especially all levels of people who do business we’re all podcasting or blogging, we check our traffic, we check our rankings on iTunes all the time, how do we know or how can we let go of that? It sounds like you’ve discovered that.
Chalene: Out of necessity. I just am not happy when I look . . . I’m never fulfilled if I compare myself to others, if I look at how my podcast is ranking. No matter how high it climbs, if it’s not number one that bothers me, then I’m inauthentic. I start thinking about strategy, which I don’t think I should do versus just listening to my audience and thinking about what they’ll need. When I look at any . . . when I compare myself in any way, if I open up Instagram first thing in the morning, I’ll see on the explore page, people who are younger, fitter, stronger, richer, more ur than me and that doesn’t make me feel good. It’s just learning that, guy, there’s so many things I can control and one of them is learning not to worry about comparisons and I’m a much happier person.
Who really cares about how you rank amongst whatever? I know that’s, for some people it’s really important because it’s a motivator. It doesn’t motivate me, it, it demoralizes me, so that’s just something I need to do.
Pat: The reason I wanted to have you on the show today was not just to help promote your book because it’s amazing and I’ve seen what you’ve done to let people know that this thing is coming. It’s been a long time that I just got introduced to the 131 Method, I heard about it probably a year ago, maybe over a year ago.
Chalene: Yeah, probably. We started research three years ago.
Pat: Just how you’ve kept us in the loop with that process and this discovery of this method and now it’s turning into a book, I think it’s just all leading up to something really amazing and already amazing things have been happening. You had mentioned earlier that you really focus on listening to your audience, I would assume that this book is a result of that.
Chalene: Yeah. In fact, I snapped or did an Instagram story recently, suggesting that I should probably make my whole audience co-authors because they really were such a big part of the development of the method. It’s not a diet, it’s a methodology and just listening to them and hearing their stories and their struggles and what was challenging and where they needed help and just all the information, the data. We researched it with twenty-five thousand people who volunteer to do that before we even opened it up to the public, so I’m so grateful because every iteration allowed us to continually improve it and correct it and we couldn’t have done that without their feedback and input.
Pat: How do you listen to your audience, what methods do you use to converse with them?
Chalene: I literally talked to them every day. And I did this little shift maybe, I guess three years ago when I used to just . . . I would outsource a lot of my interactions, I would have a virtual assistant go through and like people’s posts, people on my team would help me reply to comments, and then that felt kind of weird. I was like, I don’t know if I feel right about someone replying as me, so don’t do that. Instead, I think what I’ll do is I’ll just turn off all of those features and functions so that I can focus and I think that’s fine. But when I wanted to know what was going on, what they were struggling with and I really wanted . . . I wanted confirmation that I wasn’t crazy. What I was going through this kind of transformational rejection of what people are pretending is health and fitness.
I just wanted to know, I really, for my own benefit to boost my own confidence, I wanted to hear from my followers that they agreed with me or that they were struggling with this. I opened up all of my DMs, all of my private messaging, and just started spending the majority of my day planning it so that I had a certain number of hours, literally hours per day I would spend just interacting back and forth and back and forth and back and forth. Again, initially, I did that because it just feels good when you have people agreeing with you. Then eventually it turned into me just wanting to ask them more questions, like digging deeper and figuring out what we had in common.
When you do that, you don’t have to try to guess at what to create or how to name it or what it should look like or how long it should be or what the price should be because the people that you’re serving will tell you, and not only will they tell you, I find they help you to co-create it.
Pat: You are somebody who helps a lot of people with their businesses. I’ve been to your events, your Lifers are amazing by the way. If any of you are Chalene Lifers and you’re listening to this, I appreciate you, you make me feel so welcome on your stages.
Chalene: They’re awesome.
Pat: Smart Success Summit, Marketing Impact Academy, these are live events that I have attended and had the pleasure to speak at, but what would Chalene Johnson do if you weren’t Chalene Johnson? Meaning you have this built-in audience, you’re able to test big things like this, you’ve got twenty-five thousand people to sort of pre-validate something for you . . . If you were starting from scratch, you have nobody to access, how do you even begin to do research?
Chalene: We do. We do though because everyone has access to social media. If you go on another influencer’s page and there’s commentary underneath that, most influencers love that community and they encourage that. So there’s a place where you can connect with like-minded people because if that’s someone you’re attracted to, likely the people who would want to join your tribe are there too. Joining membership groups, joining Facebook groups, becoming a part of an in-person networking organization . . . By the way, you don’t need a lot of people to get feedback, you can get it from as many as ten or fifteen or twenty people that are just interacting with your post. You just have to be patient and willing and able to listen and encourage that dialogue.
I’ve also seen it happen in courses, for example, in your podcasting courses. A community there of people are kind of going through the same thing at the same time and that’s where they can ask like, “Hey, do you think people want a podcast that’s thirty minutes or forty minutes or an hour?” If you just ask, people love to share their opinion.
Pat: That’s true and I love that you mentioned going into other existing groups, even if you’re just starting from scratch because you can start up conversations with people there and . . . I’m trying to remember who said this, but it really struck me that you can become micro-famous in somebody else’s platform. Not that you’re using them, but you can just become somebody who actually does have the time to care about the individuals who are there with you.
Chalene: I don’t know about you, but I love those people because they tend to be like the concierge, like the person who has self-appointed. Sometimes it can be a crazy person, which isn’t a good thing, but usually, it’s like someone who like really gets the message. They want to protect the message and they tend to be the go-to person and yeah, you’re right, those people can develop their own following from that.
Pat: It just reminds me of a guy in one of my podcasting courses named Jason Skinner. He’s sort of become this micro-famous person in my Facebook student center for my podcasting courses because he’s so helpful. He was part of the beta group, I think he may have even been at your event when I first launched that, and he’s just continually showed up and people continue to ask him questions. Now his podcasting career is taking a good leap forward and it’s just one of those things. You can start from scratch yet still have the ability to take advantage of these groups of people who are just like you as long as you, like you said, really just actually care about them.
In addition to caring about your audiences and caring about the work that you do, you also have to care for yourself, which is why taking care of your mind and your body is really important and obviously, 131 Method, check that out. But I wanted to speak to you Chalene about your work-life balance because you’re somebody who takes care of yourself, you take care of your family, you take care of your lifers, you take care of your business, you’re writing books, you’re doing events, you’re doing so much.
I just want to know how you’re able to do that. Because now I’m at a point where I have an event coming up, I have a book coming out and all these other things and I’m starting to feel a little bit of the, oh well this could go all the way on this side.
I could completely see myself getting away from my family and losing that and I don’t want to lose that and you’ve done a great job of balancing that. Can you speak to how you’re able to manage work-life balance?
Chalene: I’d love to, I should start by saying that I don’t always get it right. This year was . . . there was probably about a six-month period in there where we were really quite out of balance and I kept ignoring those signs because I know them. And we spent a lot of time and I’ll talk about that, developing policies and procedures, literally personal policies that we have in writing that make certain we don’t get to a place where things are completely out of balance.
Pat: This is for your family, you each have like your own personal policies to stay together?
Chalene: Bret and I have a married one and that’s important. I think everyone needs their own individual policies—personal policies. If you don’t have it in writing, it’s really easy to say, “Well, this should be fine; well, this is okay; well just for this one time; or this is just an opportunity I cannot turn down, this isn’t going to happen again.” We start to rationalize with ourselves this kind of scarcity mindset that if I don’t say yes now I won’t have this opportunity again later and that’s really easy to do if you don’t have something in writing. We had it in writing and even still found ourselves making some of those mistakes this year and getting off track and then correcting course.
The beauty of it is that we knew how to correct course, but it’s still got to a place where I’m not proud of the fact that I ignored some of those signs and I really attribute this to the fact that I didn’t take my own advice. Which is when you have a life change, you need to revise your policy. I call this my priority statement, my priority clarity statement, and I suggest to everyone that if you have some kind of major change, you need to revise that statement. I didn’t do that when our daughter moved away to school to go to college and our son was off to college. That’s a major life change. We were suddenly empty nesters and because we didn’t revise our statement, I just was like, “Oh wow, there’s all this extra time available.” It wasn’t good because we got out of balance.
Major changes are like a divorce, a change in your health status, adding a child, getting married, going to college, changing careers, your children leaving, moving a parent into your home to be a caretaker, dealing with a serious illness for yourself or somebody you care for. Those major changes require that you stop, drop, and reevaluate what is a priority to you.
Pat: It almost sounds like that in order for functionality you need some sort of system or rules if not, like, a constitution essentially the live by. Some people call them core values or something like that. However, the constitution has amendments as should we, as our life continues to grow. Could you or would you be willing to share examples of what you might have or what a person might have in writing or something like that?
Chalene: It’s interesting you said “mission statement” because I think a lot of people have created their own mission statement but haven’t thought about how it needs to change. For me, a priority clarity statement is what is important to me in this season? Obviously, my faith is important to me always, my kids are important to me always. But if I were, for example, in a position where we were filing for bankruptcy, hypothetically, my family is still a priority, my faith is still priority but in this particular season I would need to prioritize saving and, or making money because as much as I love my family, if we’re homeless that’s not a good thing.
It’s really looking at for this season, the season I’m in right now, what needs to be my primary focus? Then when I list that out in writing, I will put parameters in there that allow me to honor the other areas of my life that are just always going to be a priority like family and purpose, my faith. For example, when our kids were young, Bret and I . . . and by the way, anything I share, Pat, it’s just right for us, I would never want to suggest that I have judgment for someone who doesn’t share my priorities or the way that we do things.
It’s just part of what I believe happiness revolves around is like doing things the way I know it’s going to feel right for me and Bret and I, because our family was so important as we were building our business and they were young. It’s really freaking hard because your kids, it’s weird, they want your attention stuff. It’s so much easier to go into work mode then to sit down and force yourself to play with cars or to sit next to your child while they’re taking a bath for an hour. We’re so used to being hyperstimulated and go, go, go, go, go, go, go, and to be a good parent you have to be able to chill out and slow down.
When we were building our business and the kids were young, we needed parameters and I’ll say, admittedly, mainly for me. Because I had such an addiction to work as my default. We had lots of things in place, like for example, specifics all the way down to there was at three o’clock—we had a lot of people that worked in our home and we worked in our home—but at three o’clock everyone was gone. When the kids walked in the door after work or after school, that’s when work ended so that I could greet them at the door. We could greet them at the door, we both could drive to pick them up from school, and that our kids didn’t feel like they were second fiddle to our work.
We would really concentrate our hours of effort and not take personal phone calls and not do all the personal stuff till three o’clock, and then once three o’clock hit it was like kid time and then I would go back to do anything I needed after they went down at night, like nine o’clock at night. Other policies we had in place when they were little is I wouldn’t do more than one, what I considered time-consuming or brand new obligation per month. That might mean is if people . . . if someone proposed a new project but I already have one scheduled for March, I’d have to decline it. If there was an appearance that would mean I’d have to create a new speech or a new presentation and I already have one on my books, I’d have to push it to another month or decline it. It was just like one a month was our personal policy at that time.
Pat: That makes sense, to me really this is summed up by just simply conscious and purposeful. I think this is where a lot of us who, especially US entrepreneurs who are addicted to work and . . . there really is no end to our workday. With the other important aspects of our life, we have to really be purposeful with where our time is and how it’s spent and what that means for our future. Are you still addicted to work?
Chalene: That’s a good question. I guess the honest answer would be, I guess once you’re an addict, you’re always an addict. I did a lot of therapy around it to figure out why I felt the way I did, so I don’t feel those same—the same reason why I was addicted to work. I felt like I was a bad person, that I didn’t have value or worth if I wasn’t doing, doing, doing, and specifically if I wasn’t making other people money, it wasn’t about my bank account and didn’t care. But if I wasn’t making other people money and in return getting the pat on the back, and this all stems from a singular childhood incident, if that wasn’t happening, I felt worthless.
I was constantly striving and trying to set up all of these things where I could get more pats on the back from people saying like, “Thank you, you made me this money,” or just those accolades and I was desperate for those. I don’t feel that anymore, but what I do feel is I still have a hard time, if I’m being honest, just vegging out. Work’s an easy go-to.
Pat: If you had a few hours to just chill on the couch and do nothing, you would feel uncomfortable in that situation.
Chalene: I can do it now, I can do it now. I don’t know that I can veg out. I could watch a documentary but before I did therapy, I couldn’t watch a movie, I would be guilt-ridden. I couldn’t stand to see something-
Pat: No way.
Chalene: Oh, never. If we went to a movie, in my mind I would say, “Okay, I know what you can do. You can create a list in your head, you can reverse engineer this project.” And I would sit and look at the movie, but I wouldn’t allow myself to really get lost in the movie because I felt like that would be . . . it would be selfish and I would be a worthless person if I did that. I should use that time to brainstorm something or solve a problem in my head related to work or come up with creative ideas. So pretty miserable person to be around. I also could not handle seeing my husband just sit down. I was like, “Do you need a list? Do you want me to get you a list, I’ll get you a list if you need one. How’s that list coming along?”
Pat: Oh Bret.
Pat: That’s so funny, and thank you for opening up and sharing all this. I think a lot of us can relate to that. What would new Chalene say to the younger Chalene in the movie theater right now?
Chalene: Girl, you are never going to get this time back, you are destroying your health, you’re missing out on the joy of the gift from God of this life, you’re missing out on it and you are valuable and you are worthy regardless of what you can do for other people.
Pat: Wow. I love what you said about the gift of now. How many of us haven’t taken the time lately to just slow down, take a few deep breaths, look around and just realize what we do have available? Even if things aren’t going so well, we still have a lot of things to be thankful for and I think this is a really good check-in. So maybe right now as you’re listening to this, why don’t you just check in with yourself just for a minute or a couple of seconds here to be grateful for the things that you do have and that are around you and that you do have access to. Thank you for that gift, Chalene.
Chalene: It gives me chills to think about. Yeah, it’s true.
Pat: So I want to talk about snowboarding really quick. You had spoken once on stage and I watched you tell this amazing story about a business that you were going to start in the snowboarding industry. Can you tell us what happened and why it turned out the way it did?
Chalene: Oh, that’s a good memory. I love snowboarding, my husband and I grew up skiers, but we eventually transitioned over to snowboarding mainly because I felt like snowboarders dressed cooler. I was like, “Man, they look so cool. I just looked like a skier over here with these tight pants and the tight jacket, look at them with their biggie jackets. They all look like they’re in a hip hop group or something.” We made the switch for fashion reasons and very quickly fell in love with it but that’s also why I had this idea to start a business.
We had in our previous business—a business, we had sold—we had manufactured fitness apparel. So I knew a little bit about the apparel business and I really enjoyed it, and once we sold it and started snowboarding, I said to Bret—I was kind of like customizing my own snowboarding gear—I’m like, “I need to start, we need to start a snowboarding apparel company.” It was like I think January one and we’re riding up a chairlift. And I can remember the snow coming down and thinking about how excited I was for this new year and this new opportunity. In my mind I was like, we love snowboarding, we love fashion, I’ve got all these great ideas, there’s this untapped, unserved market, let’s do this, and he’s like, yeah.
He was down with it, so we sat down and started to reverse engineer what . . . everything that needed to happen in order for us to make this a reality. On that huge brainstorming list you just come up—if anyone’s ever done this, you just boom. You just vomit out everything you can possibly think of from business cards to business names to who do we know that has done this before, anything you can think of. Just get it all on paper and then you look at that list and go, okay, what of these things should we do first to figure out if, in fact, this is a decent idea, which I know you’ve got a book that helps people to figure that out, Will It Fly, which is awesome.
Pat: Thank you.
Chalene: We kind of went through a similar process that you described in the book and one of the first things we did was to meet with someone who once owned a snowboarding apparel company. That was still in the first week of January, he had lunch with us and he just looked at us and he said, “Okay, so wait a second, you found something that you can actually enjoy and relax and stop working and take part in as a family. That’s just pure joy for you, a hobby, and what you want to do is build a business around it. You want to build a business that you know nothing about or you don’t have any followers or any platform with regard to snowboarding. You don’t really even have a history of snowboarding and you think you’re going to start a fitness apparel company that’s literally a two-month market, are you sure?”
Bret and I both looked at each other we’re like, “Well, we’re sure right now that we don’t want to do that.” It was just, wow, this is really so simple, it’s done. We just literally went from being super excited about it to like, yeah, no, that doesn’t fit.
Pat: So it was this conversation with this person. Did you know this person before, did you reach out to them to have this talk?
Chalene: I knew him not really well, just an acquaintance. The moment he started being honest about and asking those questions because I was in a place now where I knew what it felt like to get all caught up in work and I was overcoming these addictive feelings, when he started describing what it was going to feel like. He’s like, “Just imagine, now you’re showing up in your favorite city, in Park City, and instead of snowboarding you’ve got to go and hit every single one of the boutiques and you’ve got to bring gear and you’ve got to service clients. Now when will you be snowboarding?” I was just like, oh this is so crystal clear because I had an open mind, because I was willing to hear some of those negatives and be asked those questions and answer them honestly, it made it very easy to make the right decision. I think sometimes we’re so in love with the idea that when people are simply asking us questions, we don’t want to hear it so we’re not going to answer it honestly.
Pat: How do you understand if what a person is saying is valid, meaning you have this conversation and they say these things and I think, in your case, because of the fact that you were just so in love with snowboarding and it just kind of made sense for you and your family at that time to not do this, you were so enthralled by the idea, it just made sense to me to say no right then and there. What if there’s a person . . . there are people listening to this right now who have a hobby that they love, that they’re trying to build a business around, and perhaps they just heard what you said in their heart sank a little bit because they’re putting this work and time and passion into this thing. How do we know if hearing somebody like that is a valid statement versus just, you know what, I get that, but I’m going to still push forward?
Chalene: That’s difficult. Because it depends on who it is you heard it from. I think we know, if we give ourselves permission to pay attention to our intuition and the feeling we get in our body, when someone says something like that, you either get a feeling like, “Oh gee, I’m going to smile and nod, but they don’t know what they’re talking about,” or you get that defensive feeling, like almost a . . . I don’t know, like a pang in your gut that tells you like, “Ugh, they’re right.” If you get that feeling and you don’t know which way to go, go get more information. Look for people who maybe don’t agree with what it is you’re doing, just collect information. Just go on an information collecting spree where you just take any information, don’t take it personal.
I think we often know, and especially if you talk to the people who really truly care about us, but also understand what it is we’re asking them. Because you could ask your sister who really, really cares about you, but she doesn’t know anything about that business and you’re not going to get the right kind of feedback. You need to ask someone who’s done it, primarily, and who understands what’s important to you.
Pat: So true. I think these conversations that you have, especially with somebody who’s been there before, are extremely important. A lot of times we don’t ask those people because we consider that maybe they’re just too busy or who are . . . “They’re never going to talk to me.” But I’ll tell you something that recently happened. At the time of this recording, we are about fifteen days into the launch of my invention, the SwitchPod, and it’s going really well right now. By the time you’re all listening to this, that campaign will be over so we’ll see where to actually, and—
Chalene: Those were some my favorite podcasts, too, when you guys just really detail how that whole process came together so people should go back and listen to those.
Pat: Yeah, it’s crazy. I interviewed a couple people, Tom and Dan from Studio Neat who essentially had done this process inventing their own thing. It was called the Glyph, which is the adaptor for your iPhone for a tripod. We met them at an event and we just literally asked them, “Can we have a conversation with you?” We’re nobodies in the product space and they had built this huge business off of Kickstarter and they were like, “Yeah, dude, we totally remember what it was like to be there and we want to help you as you start this.” And so they helped to make those decisions that were so important like you don’t want to have to deal with, with your first Kickstarter campaign, twelve different colors and three different sizes. It’s going to just completely wipe away any energy you have when it comes to the fulfillment of this thing. So just—
Chalene: One sentence like that can save you hundreds of thousands of dollars and headaches and nightmares. It could destroy it and that’s just like one piece of advice, one sentence long that can be so invaluable.
Pat: A thousand percent. And now that the campaign is going, we are getting access to more people and even bigger camera companies who we would’ve been like, we would have never had the chance to talk with them and we still feel like we are still peons compared to them. There are some amazingly helpful people out there who want to give back.
Chalene: Isn’t it awesome?
Pat: It’s amazing, it’s so amazing. Not everybody’s like that, obviously, but what helps us and what I know has helped you and several others is just asking ourselves, well, what’s the worst that can happen? I’m so glad that we’re pulling this lesson out of having these conversations and thank you for sharing that snowboarding story. I remember that and it really was impactful for me because I can see you crushing it in that space if you were to go down it.
Chalene: Don’t tempt me. I know I could, that’s the thing, I know I could, but at what cost? I think that’s the important thing that we all have to evaluate is, at what cost will this . . . what will the impact be on my longterm happiness? We so often look at these opportunities and things that we need to do and we fail to take into consideration that our lives have seasons. If you think about in terms of farming—I’m from Michigan and so I grew up around farms—and the smell of manure and cows, horses, when they’re farming different crops the air smelled different. When that happens, when they’re growing a crop, another crop has to rest. In order for that soil to be plentiful and for the crop that you’re pouring your nutrients and time and care into, in order for that crop to really thrive, another crop has to rest.
I think as entrepreneurs we feel like, okay, well if I started a podcast and now I want to start a YouTube channel, I’ve got to keep that podcast going at the same rate and I got to get this YouTube channel going and I’ve got this YouTube channel going and now what I need to do is I need to go live every day on Instagram. I need to keep that going and on top of that I’ve got to do this course, and I got to keep all this stuff going. They never give themselves permission to let one of those things rest. When I was knee deep into the research I was doing for the 131 Method, I was able to line . . . Because of my podcast, I was able to line up these crazy amazing interviews. Not with people who write books, but with scientists and they were hard to do because these guys don’t normally do podcasts.
What I would want to turn into thirty minutes would be like a four-hour conversation. So it was taking up so much time I had to take a break from podcasting and literally allow podcasting to just rest and go—
Pat: I remember that.
Chalene: It’s okay, it’s okay. Why is it so important to me? Well, let’s see, worst case scenario is I drop in the ratings. Okay. Is that going to affect my longterm happiness? No. Is that going to affect the health and happiness of my family? No. The only thing that’s going to have an impact on . . . a little bit of my income, a little bit, but more than anything, just my ego and I can deal with that. So I’m going to let that rest because I can’t allow my family to suffer and I can’t allow my focus to be divided.
Pat: Well said. I want to talk about your family a little bit. Bret is awesome, met him several times and your kids are amazing. I see them on social media now, especially Brock who has just released his YouTube channel. So we’ll link to that in the show notes too, I want to give him some love. I’ve seen him speak on stage and . . . Chalene, I have two young kids as you know, nine and six at this point, and I love how you’ve encouraged them to be fully themselves as they’ve grown up. Brock’s a quarterback in college now as well, and he’s just thriving on social media as well as on YouTube. How have you as a parent, both you and Bret have allowed them to take inspiration from you as an entrepreneur, but allowed them to still be completely themselves? The reason why I’m asking this is I’m afraid, personally of having my kids do what they do just because I do it too. I want them to want to do it.
Chalene: We were pretty aware of it mainly because my husband grew up in an athletes household where everyone either played collegiate or pro sports and that was just kind of the expectation. Not that it was ever said, you’ve got to do this in order to have our love it, it was kind of one of those implied things kids pick up, like if I do this, dad gets excited or mom gets excited. I think my husband was so aware of that, that when our son was young and he wanted to play football, we let them play football for a little while. Then Bret and I made a conscious decision to pull him out for about, I think three or four years because we told him, “We want you to just experience other things.”
We were also trying to send him the message that whatever you want to do, just do it well and have fun doing it, but we don’t need you to do one thing for us. When it comes to your children, I think that too often we are worried about what people think of us based on our kids. My daughter, Sierra, is so different from my son Brock. My son Brock is a pleaser to a fault and he’ll tell you that. So Sierra, seeing that and I also think probably seeing me as a people pleaser, she decided, “Okay, well that role is filled, I’m going to go the opposite way.” She’s got this like tough attitude and her sense of humor is a little probably less politically correct than what mom would love. She beats to her own drum and I just always tried to encourage that.
Anything she wanted to do though was opposite, I was like that’s awesome. There are times when I go, are people going to judge me for this? And I just have to let go of it and go, I don’t care. Who cares that they judge me for this, my kid is confident. For example, Sierra quit track, quit running track, she had had a scholarship offer and division one school and then she just came to us one day and was like, “I feel dead inside. I hate running, the scholarship doesn’t feel meaningful to me, I want a better scholarship, I don’t know what I want, I’m so stressed out.” And I said, go talk to a therapist and decide what it is you want to do because it doesn’t make any sense for you to run in college if you really hate it, but maybe you’re just having a bad day, so go talk to a therapist.
I think it’s also really important you encourage your kids to go see a dentist, to go see a pediatrician, to go see a therapist—your brain is an important thing—and not worry whether they’re going to talk about mom and dad. Hopefully, they will because that’s going to help them to be more evolved. Sierra goes to see a therapist and she came home that night like a changed personality, her shoulders were back and she looked happy. She walked in the door and she was just smiling from ear to ear and she goes, “Well, it’s official, I will never run again, I hate running.” And we’re like, “Oh, well, okay then. So that track scholarship, we’re just going to get rid of it?” And she’s like, “Yup.” And we’re like, “Cool, we support you, we love you. What do you want to do?”
She decided she wanted to write an ebook called . . . with the swear word, F Running, with the word F running. Even then I’m like, ah, okay, she’s 18 can I tell her, “I don’t think you should use that word?” I can, but I’m not going to tell her she can’t. I’m also, I need to let go of the fact that might offend some people, but so what, it’s her life. When they are children, I will say a lot of times people will say, “How do I teach my child to be an entrepreneur?” I say, just let them have these momentary experiences where they can create something or solve a problem and make some money, but let them still be kids.
Both of them had countless businesses and it’s not even appropriate really to call them businesses. We would buy them a domain and they would get all excited about it and they would figure out how to make money at it for about three weeks and then it was over. Then they’d have another idea like two years later, and then it was over. We never made them forcefully continue on, you got to be kids. All I wanted them to do is have evidence in a file that they have the ability to solve problems for people, get excited about something, and make money in the process. I just need them to have that evidence.
Pat: That is key, I think. That’s what I’ve been trying to provide for Keoni now that he’s nine and do the same for my daughter with her interests as well, just to let them know that they have options. Very different than when I grew up, and other families that I knew that as well who were kind of like, they had a predetermined path from birth essentially to be a nurse or a doctor or a lawyer. That’s really cool. Well, thank you for sharing that with me. Brock, I know you’re probably listening to this, I appreciate you, man. To finish off your book, in all of your publications, all of your work in life with PiYo, which my wife still does, and in a lot of the things that you’ve provided for the world, where does this rank in terms of importance in your mission?
Chalene: I don’t know where to rank it. SMART Success is really, really important to me because I think that helps families. I think that helps people stay together and find—I know there isn’t any perfect balance—but the right balance for you based on your priorities. SMART Success is really, really an important piece of work for me, but this is important because I feel like it’s an apology to the people who trusted me and who followed me and I didn’t honor the position I was in the way that I should.
Pat: What do you mean?
Chalene: I ended up in fitness kind of by accident, I didn’t, I didn’t study fitness so when I had success in fitness from the moment that success started, I felt very much uncomfortable in that role. I didn’t feel like I belonged there, there was a lot of imposter syndrome. Everyone’s taller, thinner, fitter, stronger, they’ve studied this, and here I’ve got these . . . number one, infomercials, people are calling me a health and fitness expert and I didn’t ever study that. I was uncomfortable with that title and struggled with those feelings, and in addition to that, I never dug deep the way that I do everything else in my life.
If I’m into something I . . . I’m skeptical at first and then I dig in and I research and I study and I memorize and I interview people. When it came to health and fitness, I just pretty much regurgitated what I heard other health and fitness experts saying and doing. If they had more success, they certainly knew more than me so a lot of the advice I gave, a lot of the recommendations, a lot of the diet plans, a lot of the meal plans I put together, the recommendations I gave to people, the things I was trying to do for myself, nearly destroyed . . . Well, it did, it destroyed my health and when I had my own health scare, it wasn’t until then that I really started like piece things together and look back at the hypocrisy of not only what I was listening to, but what I was also suggesting to people and the machine that I was a part of.
I just realized like, okay, I have ethics and integrity and I care about people’s health and if I truly care about people’s health, I’m going to have to turn down some money. I’m going to have to walk away from some deals, and I need to be honest and I need to be true. I first need to get myself healthy and then I need to speak my truth. Silence, I believe, is making you an accomplice so I’m pretty vocal now about my beliefs and what I think needs to change.
Pat: I’ve seen it on Instagram last year when you were coming up with this method, testing it, validating it, talking to scientists. You had these amazingly truthful, honest posts that were revealing a lot of things that I didn’t even know about, about my own health. It was really cool to see you sort of step into that role versus the Chalene that I see late at night on TV, which is, that stuff is still there but I—
Chalene: Yeah, and that’s the thing is my fitness programs, I still very much believe in them and I’ve never ever intentionally misled someone. If I said it, I really meant it at the time, I just didn’t have the knowledge to back up claims like you’re supposed to eat every two hours a day or eat low fat, make sure you reduce your calories, eat super lean, cut out the fat, I just was repeating that from other experts. I never understood the responsibility I had, not to just look at the research but then look at, okay, who did the research and how new is this research and how does that impact each individual?
There’s so many things like just exercising for hours and hours and hours and hours and hours, just to maintain my weight. Then just even the hypocrisy of, and I hate to say this, but some of the things I was asked to do and the things that I was subjected to in the name of health are painful to think about now. And to know that there are people online, unfortunately using an image that they see of a toned physique on Instagram, say, or Facebook or YouTube or wherever and they don’t know really what’s going on. For example, when I had my most scary health scare is when I was asked to lose weight and get tighter and more toned for a new program I was filming, which by the way is pretty humiliating, and in the process I just crashed.
I ate sugar-free Jello, Diet Coke—I ate Diet Coke—and air popcorn until I was just about to fall apart. By the way, I didn’t lose that much weight doing it and don’t do this because I destroyed my gut, I destroyed my health, but in the process, I lost just enough weight to get the approval to do that project. I remember I posted an image of myself on Instagram and I knew I looked bad. First of all, I knew it looked bad and I was a mess. I couldn’t stop crying, my hair was falling out, I was so emotionally tired, exhausted. I didn’t have the strength or stamina, I was literally destroying my body to have this look for this video.
Nonetheless, when I posted that photo, like all these comments underneath, like, “#goals, what are you doing? Oh my gosh, you’ve never looked better, you look amazing.” Every once in a while there’d be like, “What’s going on, you look anorexic.” But most of the comments were like, “You’re my new idol, this is the body I want.”
I think to myself, “Gosh, you’re basing it on a photo and I’ve never been this unhealthy.” I was literally in the middle of a health crisis and people were saying “hashtag goals.” Now I just feel like I have a responsibility to set the story straight and to help people understand that health is not something that we look at on Instagram, it’s so much bigger, it’s so much fuller and I just want to be that messenger.
Pat: Well, thank you for stepping up. I just think this is so important, especially when you hear where this is coming from. And this is a perfect reason to write a book when you have something very important to say, obviously. I’m so thankful you’re doing it and I’ve seen the results from people who follow you on Instagram. I see in the explorer a before and after picture and then I just happened to look and see in the comments that it was you and the 131 Method that made it happen in just a few weeks. Diets and workouts and all these things are fads but I keep hearing from you that this isn’t a diet. This is more of a psyche.
Chalene: You know what it is? I think to be honest, we are speaking to a lot of business people right now so I will tell you that we really struggled in the last year with the marketing piece of this. Because if you market it as a “nutrition program” or like “you’re going to learn about your body,” people are like, “Hmm, yeah, not interested. Do you have a meal plan?”
We resisted, for example, putting meal plans in this program because I’m like, we’re not going to create meal plans for people, you’re going to learn how to do that for yourself. But people, that was a really big sticking point because we’ve been brainwashed into believing, well, we can’t do that, we’ll fail. We have to strike this fine line in terms of marketing and truly what this program is and it’s an education.
It’s how you become an expert at your metabolism, your nutrition, and in the process, you’ll get healthy. For some people, that means they’re going to lose weight, it depends on what your health objective is. For some people, it’s just healing their gut, but ultimately it’s very individual for each and every person. So it’s not a diet, there aren’t any rules, and it’s an education. If you know all the info, you’ll make the right decision, that’s the bottom line. If you have all the information you need, then you don’t have to ask someone else, if you have permission to eat—fill in the blank—and you don’t have to ask somebody else to send you a meal plan because you’ll know how to create your own. That was tough for us in terms of marketing because that message wasn’t very popular at first.
We had to find the right balance so that it was . . . once people are in, they love it. But we were like, how do we get people interested in it? And frankly, it’s by using a lot of before and after photos that show weight loss but those aren’t the photos that make me happy. The ones that make me happy are the people who are like, “I now love food and I’m not worrying about my weight, somehow I’ve lost 10 pounds and I wasn’t even setting out to do that, or my skin is cleared up, my hormones are balanced so now I’m happy to report I finally got pregnant, I’m off my depression medication.” Not suggesting that anyone’s going to go off their depression medication, but it’s so great to know that food can fix it. And yes, weight loss is far more marketable than feeling good, isn’t that sad?
Chalene: But the bottom line is once people get in it, it kind of fixes all of those things.
Pat: The book comes out April 16th, 2019 here in case you’re listening to this too far in the future, which obviously it’s going to be available on Amazon. Any special places people should go besides Amazon to go and check it out.
Chalene: Yeah, if I could, I’d love to give people the mindset training that I think is really key. Because, frankly, with all the information, it’s information and that information is out there. What’s going to be different, and what needs to . . . it’s not just changing your food. If you’re going to change your health, yes, you also have to change your mindset so if you go to 131book.com, forward slash, no, just go to 131book.com and there you’ll see you can just enter your order number for the book and I’ll send you my audio program, which is all about mindset.
Pat: 131book.com, great domain.
Chalene: Yes sir.
Pat: Chalene, so thankful that you have spent time with us here today. What an honest and raw conversation and I’m just so thankful to have you in my life as a mentor and virtually, for all the listeners here as well, so I appreciate you.
Chalene: Well, you’re one of my favorite people on the whole planet and it’s really because you’re such an awesome dad and a great husband and someone who truly, honestly has integrity and honesty and care for others. It has been my honor to be on your show today.
Pat: Thank you, Chalene, I appreciate you. Love you, thank you so much and best of luck with the launch.
Chalene: Thank you.
Pat: We’ll be there to support you.
Pat: All right, I hope you enjoyed that episode with Chalene Johnson. Again, you can find that mindset guide that she’s given us for free on her page for her book at 131book.com and again, of course, you can check out the link to the book there or you can go to the show notes page at smartpassiveincome.com/session366. Just incredibly thankful to have connected with Chalene. Actually, we connected way back in the day. She’s been on the podcast a couple of times, we’ll put links to the other episodes she’s been on here as well. It just reminded me about how we connected, we actually connected because of our podcasts, and I can’t remember who interviewed her first, but it was through an introduction and the reason that we had podcasts. We formed this amazing friendship and I’m just very thankful for her support over the years and specifically direct mentorship for how I’ve run my business as well.
If there’s one person to go follow and check out, you’ve got to check out Chalene. And again Chalene, if you listen to this, good luck on the book launch. Very proud of you and thankful. All right guys, thank you so much for listening all the way through. I appreciate you and Team Flynn. If you haven’t hit subscribe yet, make sure you do that now because we’ve got amazing episodes coming your way already recorded and I know what they are and you’re not going to want to miss them, so make sure you hit record if you haven’t already. Reviews and ratings are always appreciated. Thank you in advance for that and finally, just keep crushing it. Team Flynn for the win, let’s do this.
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Special thanks to Chalene Johnson for joining me this week. Until next time!