Today, you're going to hear an incredible level of detail on how to build a brand, write a bestselling book (or two), and make business and family life work together in a powerful way—plus why health and sleep are so crucial, and much more. Our guest is an SPI fan favorite—Shawn Stevenson of The Model Health Show—and he's going to take us behind the scenes of how he runs his business and gets things done, from his podcast to his books (including his latest, Eat Smarter) and everything else that's gone into building his incredibly successful brand.
In fact, some of what Shawn shares in this episode is stuff he's never shared, because nobody's ever asked him these questions before! I cannot wait to go behind the scenes with you. How does he run the show? Let's find out!
Shawn Stevenson is the author of the USA Today national bestseller Eat Smarter and the international bestselling book Sleep Smarter. He’s also the creator of The Model Health Show, featured as the number #1 health podcast in the US with millions of listener downloads each year. A graduate of the University of Missouri–St. Louis, Shawn studied business, biology, and nutritional science and became the co-founder of Advanced Integrative Health Alliance. Shawn has been featured in Forbes, Fast Company, the New York Times, Muscle & Fitness, ABC News, ESPN, and many other major media outlets.
- The details behind the writing and publishing of Shawn's latest book, Eat Smarter
- What “going pro” means to Shawn
- What he had to let go of in order to climb the next rung on his ladder to success
- Why he loves the flexibility of self-publishing
- How exercising his “no” muscle led to unexpected benefits for Shawn and his business
- Why Shawn wants to make learning about nutrition “like going to the movies”
- How Shawn and his wife, Anne, work together and push each other toward growth
- What a 100-mile bike ride has to do with changing the world
Note: Some of the resources below may be affiliate links, meaning I receive a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you use that link to make a purchase.
SPI 497: Building a Big-Time Brand with Shawn Stevenson from the Model Health Show
Today, you're about to hear a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff that this person tells me in this episode, he's never shared before, because nobody's ever asked him these questions before. And I'm really excited to bring on somebody who has been on the show before, but somebody who's come on to talk about health and sleep and how important that is for entrepreneurs.
But today we're talking specifically about the behind-the-scenes of how this man runs his business and how he gets things done behind the scenes of writing a traditional book and running his podcast, his video show. His name is Shawn Stevenson from the Model Health Show, a fan favorite here. And I cannot wait to go behind the scenes with you.
So let's talk all about it. How does the man run the show? That and more here today on the Smart Passive Income Podcast. Let's go!
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. And now your host, he's got two shoeboxes full of business ideas he has to continually say no to: Pat Flynn.
What's up, everybody? Pat Flynn here, and welcome to session 497 of the Smart Passive Income Podcast. Happy July. If you're listening to this at the time this comes out, I hope you are doing well this summer. I hope you're getting some things done and having some fun under the sea. You know what I mean? But anyway, today we're going to have some fun because we're talking with Shawn Stevenson.
Literally one of the only podcasts I subscribe to because I did a huge purge a number of years ago, but I had to keep Sean's on because it was teaching me all about health, mental and physical fitness. And I'm super grateful for him because he's a great friend of mine and we're actually in a mastermind group together. We chat with each other every single week with a group of people. So I know all about what's been going on in his business, especially with the launch of his recent book Eat Smarter, which I recently saw in Target, actually. I didn't see any Pokemon cards, but I saw his book staring at me in the face, and I'm proud of him because I know how much he's worked to get there.
And we're gonna talk all about that work and how he runs the show today. So let's just dive right in here. Here is Shawn Stevenson from the Model Health Show. Let's go, Sean. Welcome back to the Smart Passive Income Podcast. My friend, thanks for coming back.
It’s my honor. Back to the future. Anytime, man.
Dude. I'm excited to chat with you because you've been doing so much stuff. And last time we chatted, we talked, I think your last book Sleep Smarter, came out, which was super revolutionary for me personally. So thank you for that. And now you have a new book out called Eat Smarter. Are we going to see a whole string of books? Like, I don't know what other “smarters” you might have in mind, but is this like a whole line that you're starting right now?
Absolutely. It's the smarter universe is what we're calling. Yeah, I like it.
Do you, can you tell us what's coming next or no?
It's top secret right now. It's special, but right now Eat Smarter is, is still just fresh out of the oven. And so that's what I'm focused on. Yes, there is definitely two more projects at least coming up.
That’s sweet. So tell me about the experience of writing Eat Smarter, compared to Sleep Smarter. What did you take from your first experience with Sleep Smarter to then hopefully make, Eat Smarter better?
Wow, perfect, man. I love talking with you, Pat, because I get to talk about stuff I usually don't talk about. When I first wrote Sleep Smarter, which it became an international bestseller, translated in like 20 different countries. We just signed actually another translation deal, I think a week or two ago. And it did all of this crazy stuff beyond my paradigm at the time. But when I first wrote it, I was still running my clinical practice as a nutritionist, and I had a podcast going. You know, it hadn't really taken off taken off, but I was like working with patients every day.
And so what I would do is block out about three hours the first part of the day and just work on the book. And now when I'm saying this, I actually self-published it first. So I wrote the self-published version of it that way: writing in the morning, seeing clients and patients later in the day. And then that version of the book took off.
And then it garnered the attention of all these different major publishers. They went into a bidding deal, all that stuff. And then I kind of like signed like a free agent deal or something like that. Nice. And then I got to write the book that I really wanted to write. And in that I had actually transitioned, I was still seeing a couple of clients, but I was mainly just writing, working on the show and speaking. And when I made that shift, Pat, because a lot of us, we, we hang on, we hang on to every thread so that our current comfort doesn’t unravel, you know? And so even though everything was just like calling for me to let go of my clinical practice, which I love to do, but I wasn't in love with it, once I did that and just focused on writing and teaching and speaking and podcasting, everything just skyrocketed.
And with Eat Smarter, I understood my rhythm. And so I'm a very much the type of person, you’ve got to understand who you are too. I have an obsessive personality.
And so what I did was I just literally shut down everything else that was not a necessity. Like I would go to the studio. I blocked stuff so I could research full for a day for show content, record for a day. And then the rest of the week really was spent on researching and writing for this book. And that's not typical, you know, it's not normal or doable for some people, but that's how my life structure, I could kind of manage it, but I go really intense. And it's kind of this framework of blocking off time, which you do as well for certain things on certain days. And it really worked well for me.
So when you wrote Eat Smarter and you were like, okay, I need to go deep on this, I'm going to get rid of these things, what were those things that you sort of put pause on or blocked out so that you can make room for this?
Oh, pat, I love you, dude. This is like, I haven't shared this with anybody. I turned down so many, like really cool speaking events that I normally would have done. I had to make tough decisions, you know? I had to like, kind of had that delayed gratification, you know, and just like, let me focus on this thing now is really that's what your brand is: do focus on his thing. Now build this thing now so I can enjoy the fruits of it later, but the fruits little did, I know, you know, it'd be COVID fruits and have little, you know, spike proteins on the fruits.
Um, but it was so interesting because that's what I did. I was turning down things. I was also, we had just moved to California from St. Louis, which I don't recommend people move their family across the country while writing a book. It's not, that's not a good idea. All right? Yeah. So I did that in the midst, but all the while I was starting to get invited to these different things, these different masterminds, all this stuff. I just had to really exercise that “no” muscle, or at least that “not right now” muscle.
And the funny thing is, there's an energy shift that took place, because suddenly like content that I had out there in the internet sphere, like now I had these “celebrities” reaching out to work with me, you know. So it was just really weird, and I had to turn that stuff down. So it was just kind of like, saying no to the things that were not essential, but all the while we still have to have our monetary side covered.
So, you know, I really, again, streamlined my show, streamlined our sponsorship, you know, working along of course, with you and our mastermind and just keeping my mindset in the right place, you know, my email list to keep everything rolling. But I knew that I would have a little bit of a lull as far as our income while I worked on this project to see the big explosion later on.
I like that phrase: the “not right now” muscle or the NRN. I'm gonna, I'm gonna start using that. Te NRN muscle. How do you turn down opportunities? Let's say, for example, you get this big potential opportunity, celebrity endorsement, or get on a show or something.
And, you know, you're writing this book, but how do you know that's not an opportunity you should say yes to? Or is it just like a blanket “Nope, can't do it right now”? If it's meant to happen, it's going to happen later kind of thing.
This is one of the most challenging things for us to really accept. But this is a reality. Every time you say yes to something, you're automatically saying no to something else. It’s just the nature of reality. We don't have clones of ourselves yet. So we, whenever we were doing something, we can't simultaneously do something else, or at least not do it well. And so knowing that it's already coming into it, like I've made this commitment to do this thing, come what may I'm working on this book. And I want to make this book something that really stands the test of time, changes culture, is able to impact the lives of all the people that are that really need it, and give people a voice that haven't had a voice before, really helped people to understand how their bodies work, which is crazy that it hasn't really been done in book form.
Like I did it and all of that mattered more. And so it's kind of like you have to come with something that is such a absolute “hell yes.” But until that point, it's a, “no, I can't do that.” And this is a thing that we all have to go through. We compromise. Right. Especially early on when we've got that bright and shiny, like different opportunities start to spring up and we see this and that, we can start to lease our time out and realize later that it wasn't an efficient or effective use of our time. But it still helps to develop us and grow that muscle so that we can get to that place where I really do think it might be an advanced conversation for folks right now being able, like, why would you turn that down? Well, I understand the opportunity costs at this point. And I wouldn't have even, you know, five years ago, I wouldn't have understood and being able to do what I did.
Thank you for that. I want to talk just a couple more technical, sort of in the weeds of the book writing process for you. And then I want to move to your podcast and your show in monetization because your show has been exploding. You're also doing the YouTube thing. There's a lot of components kind of happening on top of each other now. But you mentioned earlier that when you were writing Sleep Smarter, you had written it self published. All of my books currently have been self-published. I would love to know, when you had now a publisher working with you, you said you had it rewritten. Was that your choice? Were they asking you, well, hey, we'll only work with you if you make these changes. I'm just so curious to hear, because first self-published then not self-published traditionally, what were they asking for? And what are your thoughts on self published versus traditional?
Perfect. Yeah, this is, this is very important. When I first published Sleep Smarter and I just did the work, I created the product, which I really felt was a gap in the market, it was a missing conversation. And this was prior to a lot of folks who've been exposed to it as a part of the popular lexicon at this point, different things with sleep wellness and the importance of sleep wellness. But this was like, you know, 2013, maybe, 2012, somewhere, somewhere around, I think 2013 when I wrote the first version of it.
And I did the work really to just get the message out there. I wasn't thinking about “selling books.” It was just a side effect, but we had sold over like 10,000 copies when I finally met with this literary agent. And it just happened to be these string of different events that, that made that happen.
And they were just like, what in the—where did you come from? Kind of thing. And so once they pitched it, kind of put into their channel, their funnel of exposure, we got offers from 11 publishers, including the big five. And some of them, like one of the big five wanted to just literally just repackage it basically, and just put it right out.
They want just wanted to get it out immediately and keep that momentum going.
But for me, I knew that the conversation was bigger than that. And I wanted to expand on certain things. I really just had this template. Honestly, I was trying to write this book. It was 20—it was 21 clinically proven strategies, but I wanted to do that process within a month. I didn't know that it wasn’t a thing. Right. And that's kind of like with our friend, John Lee Dumas. When he was telling people about doing a seven day a week podcast, we're just kind of ignorant enough to believe that it's possible. And so it ended up being like 45 days that I wrote it in, but it was just very punchy, very practical, but there was so much more that I wanted to say. I wanted to make it a masterpiece and a really, you know, a work of art and something that could really be valuable for years to come.
So I went with a publisher that had the same vision. You know, had the same vision for me, and also had the wellness brand behind it. Actually, I went with Rodale, which is kind of like a wellness brand, like a major wellness brand in books. And now this is where we get into the conversation of self-publishing versus traditional publishers.
I want to make this very clear for everybody. Right now, the publishing industry is very much like Blockbuster and Netflix kind of transition taking place. They, unfortunately don't even care much about you having a great product more than having a platform. And that’s unfortunate that it's like that. And most folks, they're getting ghostwriters they’re not really even writing the books themselves. Which is okay, but they're looking for people who have a platform just to move units, not necessarily have great works of art or great messages or things that are really high value.
And here's the most important point that I want everybody to get. They need you way more than you need them. Just about everything that a traditional publisher can do, you can do on your own, and you can keep your own rights. You can keep your own revenue, you can make the changes you want. Because I've allowed, have kind of given away ownership of my own creation, it’s like when Prince got upset that he didn't own his masters of his music. He changed his name is everything like I'm thinking about changing my name. You know, I could be the symbol of, I don't know, maybe a muscle emoji formerly known as Shawn Stevenson. You know, just because it's like, it's this crazy thing where for me, my big, and you got to understand your own psychology as well.
So the reason I did that was impact. I felt that that would be the best way that I can make impact the fastest. So that's why I partnered up with a traditional publisher. And of course, being that I had a platform and momentum, that's where the money comes from. And so they did give me a big advance, but that's not typical. It's rare to get an advance in the six figures and above kind of range. But it can happen, you know. but first you can get out and do it yourself because truthfully, this is the thing, it's an advance. It's still your money. It's like, you have to pay that back, you know? So it's still technically your money. And I would've made that money anyways with my self published version and more, and been able to do the things and make the changes that I wanted when I wanted to, which is when you're dealing with a publisher, they are not going to care remotely as much as you do about your product. Not even close, not even in the same stratosphere. Because what the tendency is, and I can tell you this, I've worked with several of them, the big five, like the best of the best publishers. And it's the same pattern, which is they care about your book and your product, as long as it's business hours, as long as it's not a long weekend it’s—oh, long weekends ,forget about it. You know, in my book actually, Eat Smarter, came out over the New Year's and Christmas holiday. It came on December 29th. So it was like a ghost town, and so many different things were going on at that point. So you've got to keep that in mind as well. Everything you would think a traditional publisher can do, you can do yourself, and you don't have to get a permission slip or to rally the troops to get behind your idea.
So there's pros and cons there. There’s much, much more that I could share to unpack that whole experience for sure.
Yeah. That's like, I mean, we could have a five-hour conversation about that, and I have many, many more questions. Somebody who is in the middle of writing another book and making a decision on which path I want to take. So more on that later, uh, that might actually be the first time everybody listening may have heard about that.
So anyway, more on that later, I promise, but I think a lot of what you mentioned speaks to the power of having a platform. When you have a platform, when you have an audience, when you have attention, which is the currency that we're all actually shooting for online, you have power, you have ability, you have options, you have more decisions that you have to make, and hopefully you make the right ones.
And your platform that I know you from, that I follow you on, that I know you're known for is your podcast. Right. The Model Health Show. It's huge. And I'd love to know how you do what you do with the podcast. I want to start with the fact that is some of the most well-researched stuff that I've seen that's still entertaining.
How do you bring information in a way that is entertaining, keeps us on our toes, and also provides the right information at the same time? What is the process for like an episode? Maybe it's an episode that's coming up. I'd love to know just how much time and effort you put into it. How do you do that?
Because I, I know, you know, a lot; you can't know all the things you talk about. Like you've gotta be reading off something sometimes. I don't know, get—like, spill the beans on how you do that. Cause it's so informative. I love the show so much.
Sure. Yeah. Thank you so much. For me, my process is simple. You know, I think that some of the most effective and graceful things that we can do in life, and potentially successful, are the things that just kind of fit with our character. You know, I'm a very logical, kind of seeing is believing evidence-based person, which leads me into a tendency of—but that doesn't mean that there's things outside of that spectrum that are outside of logic that don't exist, but I'm willing to look at the data and I'm also, open-minded just enough to be able to question things and to allow things in that other folks might not. So it kind of creates this little bit of a chemistry set that makes me up, where I'm very passionate about learning. I'm very passionate about research. And so I spend a lot of my days reading through peer-reviewed journals and staying on top of—you know, right now I've been studying chronobiology the past week, which is essentially this rapidly growing field of medicine, looking at how the timing of things, you know, the timing of day, when you take different supplements or medication or eating, all these different things. There's these little internal clocks in every single cell in our body that trillions of cells that we have. And there's some fascinating things being seen in like cancer research, obesity, the list goes on and on. So, but I get really turned on by these things.
But the average person—here's the thing: In my clinical practice, I never met one person in the thousands of people that I work with, my clinical practice and also different trainings and live events and all that stuff. I've never met one person who didn't want to be healthy. Not once. There were people who there's a barrier of entry for them psychologically. They might feel that it's too hard. That it’s too complex. That it’s too time-consuming. That they don't have the resources. There's going to be a reason why they might not be the place that they want to be. I've never met a person who doesn't want to be healthy. I address those barriers of entry, which one of the biggest ones is complexity and ease into getting into the thing.
So even though I might be passionate about understanding these various aspects of human anatomy, as I mentioned, studying chronobiology, but really I'm versed in where I’ve really been pressing into culture is Nutrogenomics nutrogenetics, so how our nutrition affects our genetic expression. But how do we take that and translate that to the everyday person who just wants to slim their waistline or who just wants to be able to have more energy or fill in the blank? I know that a big part of sustainability is people having the education, understanding why, like a deeper why that they're doing the thing that they're doing. And so I'm bringing that into the conversation.
So as I'm studying these often very dry pieces of work—these are written by scientists for scientists. And so this is not, it’s a language as well. It's like a foreign language. To be able to decipher the meaningful portions. And I want to share this with everybody because I don't think a lot of folks know this, when we've got a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial, like gold standard of clinical trials, finding the efficacy of we'll just say, astaxanthin, right? This is a compound that's found in krill oil, this little microscopic shrimp. A study done on astaxanthin. And we find it's like, okay, 40% greater improvement in cardiovascular performance, 20% greater weight loss in a controlled trial, whatever it is. And I'm just making these things up. But we find this thing out that it is incredibly effective at getting [blank] result.
Even when we get that proof, it takes on average over 15 years for it to get utilized in clinical medicine and actually a physician or healthcare practitioner recommending it and sharing it with the patient. Fifteen years at the age of the internet—it makes no sense. We should know, like yesterday, knowing that what I do is as I'm going through the data, I'm thinking this really, and I'm going to make this so simple, I’m constantly thinking this thing in my mind: How can I teach this? Right. So I'm just, as I'm reviewing the data, as I'm sitting with it, I'm thinking, how can I teach this? How can I make the process of fat loss and metabolism, how can I make that like going to the movies? How can I link those two together?
Right? Because that's what the process of learning really is. It's taking something that you don't know and connecting it to something that you already know. That's the merger. That's how learning really takes place, especially deep learning, you know, something that's truly impactful. That's what I'm going into with the process, and doing it in that way.
When you teach something, you get to learn it twice. So I'm already in the state and the mindset of teaching it. And so it really starts to become more embedded in my cells, you know, in my memory. And from there, you know, we're going into the shows, and it just drives it further and further.
So I start to become—I was just with this physician the other day, and we finished the show. He was interviewing me, and he was like, you're, you're a walking, talking cool version of PubMed. And I'm just like, “damn, okay. I'll take that.” And that's the other part of the equation as well. This is so crazy we still have to talk about this, because marketers tend to screw everything up. You know, this, you know, we take something like this word “authenticity,” and it's a thing that you do. Authenticity isn’t something you do; it's who you are.
And so I have to break through my barriers because when I first started in this space and when I first started, you know, going from the office, seeing clients coming in the doors to standing on stages to the podcasting domain—which for me, again, this was back in like 2012, I think, not for this show, not for the Model Health Show. But I was the resident nutritionist, quote, resident nutritionist for this big online brand, big online magazine. And I was doing their podcasts first. They met me at a, I was speaking at an event. And afterwards they came up to me and they, because at first, even when they met me, they were just like, you know, it was kind of like when you meet somebody, it's just like, well, you know, how important are you? So, which I should have caught that vibe then.
But after I got off stage and was like, that was amazing. You know, w”e just started this podcast. We need somebody to be the face of the brand.” And I was like, yeah. You know, because I just started my website and I thought that Field of Dreams consciousness, which is like, if you build it, they will come.
And like, all this attention is going to come. But we just had like a couple of hundred visitors a day or maybe even a week or something like that. But they had like a million unique visitors a month. And so I was like, absolutely. I’ll do it. Yeah. I literally said yes to something. I didn't know what it was. I didn't know what a podcast was. But when I was doing that, and this is the message I was speaking in a language that I felt was a little bit more appropriate for the audience, which is being a little bit more technical, being a little bit more—holding back my personality, my tendency, which is to, I just want to have fun. I want to make learning fun. I want to make people feel really good and empowered. And so, but now I'm just kind of really speaking through this technical language, a little bit more vanilla in my approach.
And I did that for over a year and a half. And that podcast had like hundreds of thousands of downloads, which back in 2011 or 2012, whenever that was, that was a big deal. But I was building their brand, and as it was going along more and more, towards the end of our collectively, going our separate ways amicably, I was more and more being, just allowing myself to be myself.
I'm glad that I did it. But I'm a little disappointed looking back on it that I didn't do it sooner. Like, what are you doing? Be you. And part of it definitely is a fear of not being accepted. And we all have that to some degree, you know, especially coming from where I'm from. I grew up, the majority of my years lived on planet earth were in Ferguson, Florissant, Missouri. The environment that I was in, which has become kind of infamous now, is a very complex, volatile environment for many aspects, but also just beautiful people and a willingness and a wanting for a better life. And coming up through a lot of fighting and a lot of, you know, even in the academic sense, being really instilled from an early age from my grandmother, the importance of education.
And so just this marriage of all of these different complex dynamics, and working at a university for many years, that really sent me to it. And I didn't know what was happening at the time. But when I was in college, I worked at the university as a strength and conditioning coach. And I worked with people from all over the world, like literally from India,
from China, from Germany, from France, from South America, from Canada. The list goes on and on and on all parts of the United States. And I can see the consistencies in people. And I could see that we're all so much the same, but yet there are these little nuances. And so I bring that into all of that stuff to fully allow it to be present in the show that I do now.
And it connects with so many different people as a result, funny enough. That's the other big part, is not allowing authenticity to be something that we do. It's a thing I'm doing, authenticity, but really being unafraid to be who you are. If you're super weird, if you're like super into, I don't know, like Pat’s into stuff that people might think is weird, but it's just, it connects so deeply with certain people.
You know, same thing with me. I'm a big fan of this superhero paradigm. Like I was just in there making my food. And I was telling my wife, Hey babe, you know, today's Robert Downey Jr.’s birthday, all this stuff. It just makes me happy. I don't know. But it's because there's a thread there, of course, in a superhero story, the rise of the superhero and you know, the meaning, there's different layers there. That might seem weird to people, but for some people it's going to really connect and resonates, that more connective tissue. So we've gotta be unafraid to be ourselves because the right people are going to connect with us.
And the last point here with this is that what I really brought to the table that is, still it's changing now a little bit, but I was the only person there. When I started the podcast, I didn't have an email list where I had like 300 people on my email list. I didn't have all of the connections and all that stuff. If there's an example to follow, and for you to really know that you can do this, it is me. It is me. And what I did was I just didn't stop. I kept showing up. Even though it was a hundred listeners. I was creating shows as if it was a million, and eventually it became those millions, but I kept showing up. My first guests, and I did a different little formula as well, which was kind of unique at the time.
I would do about 50% of my shows would be these masterclasses that Pat's talking about, where I'm sharing the definitive guide on whatever the subject matter might be. So maybe it’s understanding type two diabetes and reverse engineering that, and all the clinically proven stuff that we can do there. If you're on metformin, if you're on insulin, whatever to help to normalize your blood sugar, the list goes on and on. I’d do that kind of stuff.
But then I would do like interviews as well. Some shows were just like people that just kind of do their show. And then there was like interview shows, and I was marrying the two together. But let me tell you guys, my first guest wasn’t the Olympic gold medal winner that I've had on the show before, you know, the Hall of Fame baseball player, like Ozzie Smith, or the top gastroenterologist in the world, or… My first guest was a medalist, but a bronze medalist; not just a bronze medalist, but in an obscure sport of synchronized swimming. Please understand, it doesn't have to be this. Like, as a matter of fact, I think you can kind of sabotage your handicap yourself, going for everything that's so big and bright right out of the gate. If you have to be ready for it, every step along the way was just like really working those different muscles and building the brand as it went along and just creating a really great catalog. After about a year of just work and giving, everything eventually took off.
And like you said, just keep going, and allow for those opportunities to happen. Like you're saying, thank you so much for that. You answered a lot of questions that I actually had written down as you're talking. So thank you for that. I wanted to ask you for more moments that you've experienced as you've progressed and as you've transformed or mutated, if you will, from scrappy entrepreneur to CEO. What are some specific examples that you can remember that you had to make a decision that you know is like putting your big boy pants on, business specific, switching from scrappy entrepreneur to becoming a more pro.
Going pro is letting go of mundane activities, letting go of things that you do not need to be spending your time doing.
And it was a big challenge for me. Because being somebody who's a creative as well, even though I'm very analytical, I'm also a creative person. I want to create. I want to take that data and turn it into something dynamic and beautiful and fun. And so there were certain aspects, like writing the show notes for the podcast. Every week we'd publish an episode, I would spend so much time writing the show notes. Which still even today, even though we might have tens of millions of downloads, there's not many people going and actually reading the show notes, like really like, it's the, it's the highlight of the experience. But for me it was like, no, I need to do this because it keeps me sharp and it's a muscle and you know, only I could do it, whatever.
Now I haven't looked at my show notes in years, and my wife tried to show me and asked me a question about the show notes like a year ago. And I was like, why would you even ask me? You know, and she's the one who had been pressing me so much to let it go. She's the one who hired the person to do it. And now going pro is focusing on the thing that you are really necessary for, and outsourcing and letting go of the rest.
That's a big part of going pro. And so it was challenging for me. There's still levels of it that I'm sure I need to work on—matter of fact, I know that I need to work on. But like, I can't even believe, Pat. And I think, I don't know, I want to ask you the same thing. Has it surprised you like all of a sudden, like, wow, I've got like a whole team?
It started off as just like me and my wife, and then we had an assistant, and then now we've got seven people on our team. We have like teams who work with other stuff and like, I don't even know how it happened, except going pro, letting go of things, upleveling here. Because here's the secret, there are certain things that you might think you're great at that somebody else can do five times better, 10 times better. And they can just spend their time doing that thing. Where you might be pulling yourself away, you know, saying yes to something, you're saying no to something else, the best use of your time would not be on that thing. Right? Your video editing or whatever the case might be, not to say you can't. Yeah. There's a time and a season for that, especially if you might not have the resources, there's always a way. But today we have so many resources at our disposal that can be cost-effective. It might cost you a little bit of time to find the person that fits that budget for you. But once you do it, it can create a level of freedom.
So that's one thing that jumps to mind right out of the gate is being able to let go of things, and allowing my team to start to, you know, kind of grow around me.
Yeah. That's a great answer. And to answer your question to me earlier: Yeah. It definitely sort of, I look back and I'm like, whoa, when did it all of this happen?
Because I now have a team of employees and contractors that we work with. And initially when I got into this, it was very much, I just want to be me, and the whole reason I'm doing all, this is so I can just make my own choices and stuff. But you know, like you said, letting go of the things that are mundane or the things that maybe even you are good at, but shouldn't do, it's been a world of freedom and yes, it might cost some money. But money, you can always make more of; you can never get time back. And that's something that's become very, very on top of my mind, especially as the kids have gotten older. I love how you had mentioned that your wife is working for you. How involved is like the whole family and what is it you do? Or are things pretty set?
Great. All right. Just to be clear. Pat said that she works for me. I worked for her. I don't want you, right—I don't want any, you know, attacks happening behind me right now while my back’s turned!
But you know, so. But it's an amazing experience because there was a time where, you know, I was working as a strength conditioning coach.
She bought me my first, the health and fitness book that was doing a lot of research, online, reading some papers, things like that. But it was like my birthday or something. She, she bought me this book from Gunnar Peterson. Who's this personal trainer like super celebrity, personal trainer. And I still have that book to this day, and now Gunnar follows me on Instagram.
Now he's in my sphere, of course, and we’re going to connect and do some stuff eventually. But, you know, she bought me my first book. She believed in me because every week I would schedule my clients on this little rickety notepad, as she brought me these little fancy notebooks, schedulers, and every like year she bought me a new one. She was like investing me in these small ways, but she was running her mother's occupational therapy business.
And she brought that skillset over. And my wife has the same thing that I have, which is we care. Full stop. Actually, we care. It doesn't matter what day it is, what time it is. If something needs to get done, we'll get it done. So that's what you don't see with the publisher, by the way, again, you know. But you can still operate within their domain. But my wife cares the same amount that I do to make sure that we provide a level of congruence and efficacy and love and care and impact and all those things.
So, uh, you know, eventually we started working together. And early on, it was definitely a lot more me convincing her to do stuff because we got to understand our personalities as well. Like I mentioned, my priority is like impact. I'm very much a growth-driven person. I want to grow. Every day, I just want to get better. I can feel at peace when I leave my head down at night. If I just got a little bit better that day. My wife's big driving force is certainty. If her certainty needs are not covered, then thinking about growth, that's just going to create tension between us. And so once I made a shift to start really focusing on addressing her certainty needs, like getting little stuff, taken care of that, you know, I was off like, “Hey, let's go, you know, there's this event out here!” and she's looking at the budget ,like, nah, that's not a good idea. But I'm like, Hey.
But doing one of those things, going out to speak at this TEDx event, it was TEDx since city. So it was in Las Vegas. She was six months pregnant. We flew standby. So it was a friend of ours worked for the airline. So we had standby tickets, which means you stand by, and if they have room, they'll let you on the plane. Which, we first got there,
it was all great. Like we went in and got on a plane, went to Las Vegas. Getting back though? It was a nightmare. We ended up getting rerouted. We ended up in Dallas for the night when we live in St. Louis. Like it was a whole thing. But at that event is where the folks came up to me afterwards and asked me about being a part of their podcast.
If I didn't do that, if I didn't take that strategic risk, I wouldn't be talking with you guys right now. It's that knowing, but also understanding your partner and especially if you're working together, being able to address their certainty needs or whatever their thing is to make the thing happen. And so now, today, once that happened, she pushes me. She brings to the table all these different creative ideas outside of our normal day to day. So it's understanding that thing. And also, the biggest part though is still, for me, she's the most important person in my universe. So having our relationship, we got to keep that in context of the work relationship, you know, and understanding who she is, her personality in it, and my personality in it, it's not always perfect. But I've learned, I've learned over time, she has a personality, she gets focused, she gets locked in, and she doesn't really want to be bothered. I'm the same way. But when we're interacting with each other, I'm definitely much more playful, you know, and just understanding these little things. So she's become a little bit more playful. And I've become a little bit more like, okay, let's keep the ball moving, you know, when we're interacting with each other.
So I can go on and on in the dynamic with that. But ultimately, especially with the context of having a husband and wife working together, or partners, it's understanding each other's personalities, each other's strengths. I'm not going to say the word weaknesses in context of my wife, Pat. I'm not going to do that. Um, but I would say that our, our tendencies towards potential negativity. All right? So understanding those things. I think it's always having that north star. At the end of the day, my north star, even though it's impact in the world, and like, I'm very driven to help the little kids out there that were like me growing up in a household where there's violence, where there's abuse, where there's drug use and all these different things and wanting to be free of those things and wanting to be something wanting to, just to have a level of safety. It really drives me, but that work starts in my own home. That work starts with my own child. I've got my two sides. My daughter's the oldest, but I've got my two sons. You know, my oldest son is 20. My daughter is the oldest. My oldest son is 20; he's in college. And my youngest son is nine, which is so weird, I know. It's so great. Especially if you see us all together, you're like, how do you have this college kid? But that's the other dynamic of the family situation that you asked about. My son, Jordan right now, he’s a personal trainer, and he's created his own online courses. And it's so beautiful, man. You know, it's such a wonderful thing, but he also is a college football player, and right now it's just been kind of weird with them, practicing and playing.
But he's been investing that time, and he's learning from my friends and my circle, which is always helpful for parents out there. It is like a superpower to bring somebody else at different—because there's a statement that you can't be a prophet in your own land, and just that proximity might make it so your child doesn't necessarily listen to you like it's gospel. But you know, if you could bring in another voice or in other voices. So I would bring my kids with me. If I'm speaking at an event, a lot of the time, more than half the time I'm bringing them with me. I'm getting them airline tickets as well, or their event is getting them airline tickets, and they're going to be there and they're going to soak all that stuff up. The seeds get planted.
But right now the last part is he's doing that, but I wanted to share this, Pat. One of his clients is an 11 year old kid. Who's actually, he might've just turned 12. Who found him online. He follows me, you know, his mom like follows us as well, and this 11 year old kid, and he, he's a cyclist.
Right. So that's what this kid does, is kind of extracurricular thing. Like he's part of a cycling team. And so my son has been training him. This kid doesn't really get much access or the kind of relationship with the father figure that he would want. And so his mom shared that, you know, it really, his world is just really lit up when he gets to spend time with Jordan, my son.
And so he asked my son, Jordan, if he would do a hundred-mile bike ride with him for his birthday. And it's like some fundraising thing also for some organization that they’re doing this four. And my son said, yes. And I'm like, That's cool. It's cool. But for me, I'm just like a hundred miles? Like a mile is precedent for me, but he said, yes. My son is like really stocky and muscular, he’s not a typical bike build, but he just rode 85 miles this past weekend.
And the training with this kid, he has that same trait of going above and beyond in love. More. And if we all could do that, man, we could make some really powerful change in the world.
Dude. Amen to that. Jeez. Well, and every time you see your family, I see them on your Instagram stories and on Twitter, like they’re just so beautiful. Anne is such an amazing person. And I had the pleasure of meeting her a couple of years ago at one of my events for just a brief moment, but I hope we get to hang out more again soon. I want to finish off with one more question. I wanted to ask you about video, because you don't just do an audio podcast. You actually turn on the cameras when you're doing it.
How has video been, impact wise, in terms of the content that you're creating? And is this something that you recommend for everybody?
Well, um, first of all, to answer the last question: No, I definitely don't recommend it for everybody. You've got to—it's not about comfort though, necessarily. It's about, for me, I'm a big fan of choosing a medium and then really working to dominate a space within that medium.
So for me, it was podcasting, and just audio podcasting was the big focus. And so for years, that's what I really focused on. Like, I got onto Instagram super late. I got on to everything else late. So many people have invited me to Clubhouse. For me, I'm not one of those people where I'm just getting onto the new thing.
And I think I found about it like the first week or two. But it's just, for me, I'm so focused on the podcast, and now my focus has shifted over. This is the beautiful part. When you really pick one thing and really get good at it and build an audience there, it makes the other platforms so much easier to grow once you shift the focus.
And so now my focus has really opened up and shifted to YouTube in a really big way. Like I've got some things in the works right now because I do have a level of comfortability with the space, but all the while, it was maybe a couple of years into doing my podcasts, we started doing videos of them. And I’d just throw them up on YouTube.
I didn't think anything of it. It was no intentional focus on YouTube. Literally for years, we just put the video up when we put the podcast up. Some videos would get 50,000 views. Some would get 5,000. Some would get 200,000 (just a few, by the way). Most of them are just in a few thousand range, 10,000, maybe 15,000 average, which is pretty damn cool.
But at the same time, the shift that's taking place for me is understanding that this medium, even though podcasting is gargantuan, it is huge. And the reason that I love it so much is that it's one of those things that people can do while they're doing other things. So you can go with people in their car, you can go with them on their walks.
You can go with them in the gym. You can go with them, cleaning the dishes. To sit and watch a video is a different domain, but some folks, by the way, just listen to podcasts on YouTube or listen to things on YouTube. But for me, it's that thing where with YouTube, people are YouTubing things so often now. It's like the second biggest search engine, if I recall, or somewhere in that spectrum. People at YouTube, doing things to learn, to get content, to find out how to do things. And just the medium is just, it has a level of it's so integrated into our culture as well.
And so when YouTube, this is an important factor as well, it can't just be you putting your podcasts on YouTube.
Well, it can, but you're not going to see the same results because YouTube has its own language. Instagram has its own language, which is slightly different from Facebook, which is different from Twitter. YouTube is different, and understanding what are the things and looking at your metrics? How do you get retention? Where people dropping off at? What's the best, like, do you just get right to the content? Do you even introduce the person? Like all of these different things, it’s a different domain because with podcasts, people are expecting to kind of sit with you and to be through a dynamic process. With YouTube, it’s like people are YouTubing a thing oftentimes, especially if you're going to cold market.
I'm loving it right now because I'm seeing some really amazing growth. And it also is another revenue stream as well that I had just neglected. It was the running joke, that I need to stop joking about, all the millions that we've left just on the table and actually given to other people, which is another, when Pat asked about the pro tip of going pro, you have to understand your value. That's another big thing. Because I've made so much money. I've made millions and millions and millions of dollars for so many other companies. And I don't have equity in those companies. I don't have da da da, but as I was helping to build their brands, whereas I really should have been focusing on my own products, focusing on building, you know, other things with myself, not to say that I can't support and help other organizations, but I'm coming into it with a different lens.
And of course there's a growth phase of that, because you might need to build your brand along with maybe you're bringing on your first sponsor and you're just, you know, getting a few hundred dollars. But when you really click into understanding your value and the value that you're delivering, starting to look at, how can I have some long-term revenue stream coming from these things?
And so with YouTube, I didn't even turn my ads on this entire time, all of these years, because I was just kind of like standing up for myself. Like, I don't want to have this incredible video helping people, and then they're putting up a, you know, a Viagra commercial in the middle of my video. And that's, it's honestly, it's silly at this point because.
99% of folks that go to YouTube, they're going to click on a video and there are going to be ads there. It's just the nature of the universe. And also there's going to be something that's more primed towards your content too, so you don't need to get too upset or offended. But also I was blocking my revenue stream and that I can use, and then to help, to create with education for it, to really accomplish the mission that I want.
And so that's an evolution in thinking where I'm trying to like stop people from going to McDonald's and I got my sign up outside, like, “Don't go in there. Unless you have to pee really bad, then you could go.” But instead of understanding 84 million people every day in the United States get fast food. How about, I don't just advise against going to McDonald’s? How about I find a way to work with the organization itself and improve the quality of their foods since people are going there, help to eliminate some of the most toxic ingredients that might be contained in the cooking oil or whatever the case might be. And the crazy thing is once I made that shift in my thinking, these companies start reaching out to me, Nestlé starts reaching out to me. You know, it was just all an evolution in thinking, and also thinking long-term where can I make the most impact, and where can I also bring in revenue, a return, funds to be able to fund the things that I want.
There's a lot, but I hope all that makes sense.
Yeah, that's crazy. I mean, I love that mindset shift, and there's so much more power that we have that we just have to understand. And I love hearing examples like this, because it's a, this opens up our mind, right? It's like Elon Musk. It's like, “no, you can't go to Mars.” Uh, yeah, you can, you know, it's just like, let's go to first principles to figure it out and go like how you're going up the chain to people are going to eat there anyway. Let's make it great for them instead of just kind of complaining about it or sort of holding up a sign and yeah, still making an impact in that way, but you can go much bigger by going a little bit smarter, right? To tie it all back to eating smarter.
Sean, dude, thank you so much for coming on. This was just a fun, casual, really amazing chat to get into your brain a little bit and the way you do what you do. It just inspires me so, so much. Might we be able to get a sense of where you might want people to go to get the book and also check out your stuff?
Of course you could find the book. Anywhere books are sold. Amazon, Barnes and noble. We've got a campaign going with Target stores. A new one is about to kick off here. But when this is getting released, I don't know if the campaign is still going to be going, but Target stores as well, which we're really, really proud of.
Because again, folks where I'm from middle America, Missouri, Target stores, they can see this book, which with our campaign, it's like, it's got an end-cap feature. It's a beautiful book, but also just getting these ideas into the hands of people who normally wouldn't get access to them. Very very happy and proud of that. But also you can go to EatSmarterBook.com, and we've got a mini course there. It’s 10 videos for when you get the book, when you get each smarter, you get those 10 masterclass videos as well. And it's 10 foods that have the most peer-reviewed evidence for supporting your fat loss, related hormones and enzymes. There's no food that's a magic bullet, but there are specific processes in the body we've got so much peer reviewed evidence now that we can support with certain nutrients and foods. So people can get that, and of course, where they're listening to this amazing show, they could find my show as well. It's called the Model Health Show.
Thanks, Sean. Appreciate you. Proud of you for everything. And I'm just so grateful to call you a friend. Thank you.
Thank you, Pat.
All right. I hope you enjoyed that episode with Sean. Again, one of my favorite people and just such a down-to-earth, dope guy. He's just dope. I just could hang out with him all day long. And I know you could too, cause he's just that kind of guy. He’s so cool: family man, super nerd like me. He's into superheroes plus health and fitness. I mean, what's not to love? He's awesome. And he's shared with us a lot of the things that he's up to that maybe you haven't heard anywhere else. So hopefully that's the case. I hope you enjoyed this episode. Check them out, the Model Health Show and all the links.
Also check out Eat Smarter, a follow-up to Sleep Smarter. So any guesses on what the third book is going to be? We’ll see. We shall see. Anyway, thank you so much for listening in today. Check out Sean everywhere. He's on Instagram at model health, Shawn Stevenson, the Model Health Show podcast, and you might be able to find his book at Target too.
And if you do take a picture, tag me in it @PatFlynn, big orange book with an avocado in the middle. I appreciate you for listening, and thank you. Keep rocking it. You're awesome. Hit subscribe if you haven't already, and I'll see you next week. We have a great episode and cannot wait to serve you then.
Take care, peace out. And as always.
Thanks for listening to the Smart Passive Income Podcast at smartpassiveincome.com. I'm your host, Pat Flynn. Our senior producer is Sara Jane Hess. Our series producer is David Grabowski, and our executive producer is Matt Gartland. The Smart Passive Income Podcast is a production of SPI media. We'll catch you in the next session.