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SPI 723: Behind the Scenes with Entrepreneur and Podcaster Shawn Stevenson

What things do you tell yourself? In business, health, and relationships, our thoughts are what drive us to succeed or fail, and the way we see the world truly affects our chemistry. So what habits can we create to build effective cognitive patterns?

In this episode, Shawn Stevenson shares the research-based information and inspiration you need to tackle entrepreneurship the healthy way. He is the best-selling author of Sleep Smarter and Eat Smarter [Amazon affiliate link] and host of The Model Health Show. His incredible work has changed my life, and I can’t wait for you to hear our powerful conversation!

Shawn is a treasure trove of science-backed health and fitness knowledge. Today, we discuss everything from getting great sleep and the importance of family meals to supercharging your mindset for next-level business results.

I get to chat with Shawn every week in our mastermind and still can’t get enough of his fantastic insights. Don’t miss this session!

For more from Shawn, check out my interview with him in episode 497 and grab a copy of his latest release, the Eat Smarter Family Cookbook [Amazon affiliate link].

Today’s Guest

Shawn Stevenson

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 U.S. with millions of listener downloads each month. A graduate of the University of Missouri–St. Louis, Shawn studied business, biology, and nutritional science and became the cofounder 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.

You’ll Learn


SPI 723: Behind the Scenes with Entrepreneur and Podcaster Shawn Stevenson

Shawn Stevenson: This is powerful for all of us in our lives. Like, what are we telling ourselves?

Your thoughts create chemistry in your body all day, every day. You know that feeling when you’re thinking anxious thoughts, you feel it in your body. When we’re angry, we feel it in our body. When we’re joyful, we feel it in our bodies. We’re creating that chemistry based on our thinking and our perception of the world, our perception of ourselves.

Of all the things that we’re talking about, you know, whether it’s health, whether it’s business, what’s really driving all of this is our mind.

Pat Flynn: I’m always so grateful when I have the opportunity to bring a person on the show for you who has made a direct impact on my life. And this person has made a direct impact on my life in several different ways and not just in my business but in my health and fitness as well. And this person I have the pleasure of speaking with nearly every single week of the year and have been for nearly a decade because this person is in a mastermind group with me. And I’ve been able to watch this person grow his brand and I wanted to bring him on the show today to talk about some of that journey and some of the decisions he made and why he made those decisions.

And I also want to dig deeper into how he does what he does. I’m speaking about none other than Shawn Stevenson, host of the Model Health Show podcast, and all the things Sean Stevenson has to offer from his books, Eat Smarter, Sleep Smarter, and just his genuineness and his care to help others through research based information and inspiration.

So, this is going to be amazing because he is a wealth of information. You’re going to hear the passion he has and I just let him talk. You know, you don’t need to hear me. You need to hear him and you will. So, welcome back. Shawn Stevenson from the Model Health Show. Here he is. Session 723. You’ll love it.

Here we go.

Announcer: You’re listening to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, a proud member of the Entrepreneur Podcast Network, a show that’s all about working hard now, so you can sit back and reap the benefits later. And now your host, if he were to take you out for dinner, he’d take you to his favorite taco shop in San Diego. Pat Flynn.

Pat Flynn: Shawn, welcome back to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, brother. Thanks so much for spending your time with me today.

Shawn Stevenson: I missed you. I missed you. So to be able to talk today, I’m pumped, man.

Pat Flynn: It’s actually been a while. And a lot of people listening might know that you and I actually normally get to chat every single week in a mastermind group, but our group has been taking the summer off.

We often find that we’re all traveling in the summer and we have other things going on. So we’re about to get back to regular programming, so I’ll be able to see you again, ritually, but this is the first time in a while and you’ve had a lot of stuff going on, man, especially this new book that you have coming out, Eat Smarter.

I devoured Sleep Smarter, and I still use a lot of those practices in that book. Tell me about Sleep Smarter first. How far has that book gone? I know it’s in other languages now. What has it done for you as a brand?

Shawn Stevenson: If people can see, I don’t know if you’re doing the video for this, but there’s a bunch of the translations back on my bookshelf here in my office.

It’s just a reminder of what’s possible. It’s translated, I think 22 different languages now, and each of these are separate foreign publications, foreign book deals, and it’s just nuts because, you know, when I got into this, I had no idea that this book could do something like that. And I initially self published the book and, you know, just because I was passionate about getting folks healthier, I was just, you know, doing a few interviews and things like that.

But because I sold a certain amount of books that gave me this power. And I ended up getting essentially 11 interviews with these different publishers, all the big five and like four or five really big offers. And it got into like a bidding to be able to get the rights to the book. And, you know, ultimately it’s just, it changed the game, man, because, and also here’s another thing for everybody.

This was an idea that at the time wasn’t something that fitted into the model of book publishing because a sleep wellness related book had never done well, ever. It had never happened. And so even some of the literary agents I had talked to previously, they’re like, well, you know, you do better with like a fitness book or nutritionist book.

You’re a nutritionist. Do a book on nutrition. But I was like, no, this is what’s missing from the market. And this can help the most people. And you know, little did I know being a nutritionist, writing this sleep wellness related book, put me in a different stratosphere. So now when I talk about food, my microphone is so much louder.

My reach is so much bigger. So I’m so grateful for my kind of entry point into publishing through Sleep Smarter. And Eat Smarter, when that book came out, we just had so much weight behind it. It came out the worst possible time, by the way. It was the first week of 2021. So that like transition 2020, 2021, we had shipping delays, printing delays, stocking delays on store shelves, all the things, but it was still the number one new release of all books in the U. S. for a brief moment until they sold out of copies, which is a terrible thing. It sounds good, Like all my concerts sold out. This is not limited capacity. We should have plenty of books, but there were so many delays and you actually sent me the screenshot. Cause I didn’t know that the book was at, I think it was like at 14 or something like that.

Of all books on Amazon at the time when it’s charging up the charts before it’s sold out, unfortunately, who knows how far it could have went, but a national bestseller, I think we’re somewhere around a couple hundred thousand copies sold of that long tail effects. This is with a huge gap. It was out of stock for like maybe four weeks or something like that on it’s like prime trajectory.

But because of that, and at that point too, that was a little heartbreaking to be honest, you know, to go through that and you put some so much into a project, but my publisher was wanting to make amends partially.

Pat Flynn: So it was their fault. That was a miscalculation on their end.

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, that was the majority of it was absolutely. They underestimated what we could do, but more so I gave them a heads up about because I have so many colleagues who had books coming out around that time who were having these issues. And they were just being cocky basically because we’re the big publisher that won’t happen. Don’t worry about it. You know, so they wanted to bring me on for another project and like over deliver on it and what they provided me with.

And also this was kind of the missing piece. If I was to do, if I was to go back and write this story, I would have written the eat smarter family cookbook first because I’m a nutritionist and a big foodie and it’s about family. And these are all like my core things, but life was qualifying me to write this book now and to publish this book now.

And also, you know, going through this process and having my family to be involved. This is the first time my family is actually involved in the process itself. Previously, it’s kind of like dad’s writing, you know, is giving him some space, that kind of thing. But now it’s like they’re invested in the process, you know, we’ve spent a lot of time, obviously eating a lot of meals together, you know, discussing some of the science.

Pat Flynn: They’re on the cover. Yeah, they’re on the cover of the book.

Shawn Stevenson: That part, I’m so, I’m so happy, man, you know, just for even for their legacy moving forward, you know, and my, my oldest son works in fitness now and he’s just so excited to share this with his clients and, you know, it’s really special, man. It’s been a great process.

Pat Flynn: That’s really cool. Well, I’m super proud of you. I know the journey more than most because of our connection in the mastermind group and all the trials and tribulations and the dragons you had to slay to get here, but to see it go to where it’s going and where I know it can go as well, I’m just super stoked because this cookbook now with pictures and recipes and all this kind of stuff like this is what I feel like you were originally meant to do.

Which is why I want to go back to Sleep Smarter really quick. I was also very surprised that a sleep book was your first book that you really published and put out there. And I had no question that it was going to do well. I was just very curious about why did you start with that one?

Like you weren’t even really known for sleep. You were known for other things. Why did you write that book? I mean, that was a, a large amount of time and effort put into that. What was your calling for that? And how did you share that with your audience and like, get it so big.

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, this, you know, this ties into something that you’re a genius at, which is paying attention to the market and also being a good person.

All right, so to combine those things together, working in my practice, working as a nutritionist and getting all these referrals from my physician friends and chiropractors and physical therapists, all this stuff every day, I’m seeing people day after day after day and seeing some great results for most people.

But there was always a percentage of people who weren’t getting the results everyone else was getting. And what we tend to do in as far as being a practitioner is blame them. All right, this works for everybody else. You must not be listening or you must not be following through or executing, or you might even be lying.

And oftentimes that’s not the case. You know, people are trying very, very hard to achieve their goals. You know, so I was working with people who, you know, they’re on a slew of drugs for hypertension. You know, lisinopril and statins and, you know, they’re on metformin and all these different medications.

Sometimes literally people will come when I say, you know, bring your, let me see all the stuff that are taken. It’d be like grocery bags full of drugs. You know, it’s so, so crazy. And sometimes they’d be in their thirties and they’ve got all these conditions. And so over time, fortunately, I stopped blaming them and stopped thinking that my answer was the right answer for them.

This kind of cookie cutter approach, even with their nutrition. I start to personalize things with, but within that, I started to ask them about it, things outside of their nutrition and their exercise. I start to ask them about their work experience. You know, are they, are they stressed at work? Are they, do they have good relationships?

Are they doing something that’s fulfilling? I start to ask them about their sleep. And that’s the part where my mind, I had to hold sometimes in my office, like literally just holding my head because it feels like my mind was going to pop out of my head when people would tell me their struggles with sleep and they’re just walking around.

And sometimes they’re like, yeah, sleeping, you know, four hours a night and two hours over here, just some of those crazy stories that I would hear and the different things people are struggling with as well. And so that made me dig into the science around it. And I found just how much our sleep impacts our I’ll just throw a couple things out really quickly, especially for this audience, our cognitive function and some researchers at UC Berkeley did some brain imaging scans and looked at people’s brain when they were well rested versus when they were sleep deprived. And one of the first things that jumped out was just 24 hours of sleep deprivation.

Just one night, their brains changed tremendously looking at functionality. And what happened was the prefrontal cortex that’s responsible for decision making for social control, for distinguishing between right and wrong for forethought. You know, like if I do this thing, this thing’s going to happen, that part of the brain went cold, basically, you know, so much reduced activity while it had extremely high activity in the amygdala, which is kind of the more emotional part of the brain, a very primal, primitive part of our evolution that’s more concerned about survival, survival of self, you know, and this is what we would see if we pay attention, we blame, we say this about our kids, if they’re it, you know, sleepy and they’re acting up, you know, it’s just like you’re, you’re just sleepy. You need to get some sleep, but we’re big adult babies. You know, the same thing happens for us and we start acting out and being more emotional and agitated and, you know, even hangry when we’re sleep deprived, being that this is the case and this is what’s different and what can be helpful for everybody.

I saw that this was something that people weren’t talking about in regards to health. And by the way, since then, many books have come out reemphasizing this point. Previous to this, this was not something that was available. I’m talking about, I had to dig and I’m, you know, I’m a researcher. So I was going through hundreds of studies to try to uncover, like not just how to help people sleep better, but how to help people sleep better and they don’t have to turn their life upside down.

Because people want change, but they often don’t want to change that much. They want change, but they don’t want to change that much. So what are the low hanging fruits? What are things people can do? Sometimes they’re not actually quote doing anything, but it’s just an environment change that can improve their sleep quality backed by science.

And that’s what I put together, 21 clinically proven strategies to improve people’s sleep quality, not just duration, but the quality of sleep that people were getting. The initial one that I self published really, man, I kind of locked. I, I still was seeing clients most of the day, but I would go into my office early and then write for maybe three hours before I started the day.

And I ended up writing that book in about 50 days, give or take, which is insane. And, but I was writing it in a very punchy, I’m a guy who writes blogs type of way. And that book did really well. Absolutely. You know, we sold about 11, 000 copies, which that is, it’s, it’s, it’s an elite category in of itself. I don’t think people realize most folks don’t sell a lot of books.

So like somewhere, I think it’s like a thousand books or something like that. And then I ended up connecting with who eventually became my, my literary agents and publishers. This is a big key for everybody today, more than ever. The publishing industry is a dinosaur. All right. They’re modern day dinosaur.

All right. So they’re kind of on the endangered species list here. All right. It might seem so prestigious and powerful, but really, they don’t know much of what’s going on because so much is out of their control. It’s kind of like the transition that happened with music. All right. You can do so much on your own.

You don’t really need them. Maybe your ego might think you need them, but they’re still trying to kind of seduce and bring in people with big platforms. That’s what they’re really looking for the most. People with platforms, not even somebody that has a high quality book or high quality product. That’s what I’m an advocate for is great ideas.

And that being the highest marker, but that’s not what it is today. It’s it’s, they’re looking for people with a platform. And so we can circumvent that piece. Absolutely. And also be able to maintain your power. But I came into it with this advantage. And so now, of course, like this huge royalty check coming out of the gate with that book.

And I had never seen six figures at one time in my life. Right. So, but I had built something and then I was able to kind of maximize it later. But if I could go back, just to be honest, a lot of times we’ll say like, I wouldn’t change a thing because it’s taught me whatever the gift for me is that it got me to write the book I really wanted to write, which was really a masterpiece.

And, you know, even my previous kind of obsession or gift, you know, writing, you know, is one of my favorite things to do just kind of growing up and in school and all the things and really to put that on display and to be creative and stories that I was telling and analogies and really create something really powerful and last the test of time because I had this publisher who was like, you can do this now and we’re paying you for it.

Right? So I like that part. But the fact that they own my, okay, my intellectual like I made that it’s like when Prince did the whole like he changed his name to a symbol because he won, that’s my I made that it’s my catalog. You know, I don’t own my book, right? So some cool things have happened from it.

And so this is a place where you have to, it’s like, what do you really value most? What do you really want the most? And you know, there’s a wonderful, there’s, there’s kind of like hybrid models that are emerging now, but mainly, and also same thing with you, man, you have the power to maintain control of your own book and get it out just the same way.

It might take some creativity that a publisher might do, you know, matter of fact, you don’t even need to do it like they do it. And you could potentially make more income from your book. Last part really quickly, why I wrote the book at the time running a practice, the only other thing that I was doing that I was making revenue from was speaking.

So I would do speaking events and I would be working with, with patients and I didn’t know how to monetize being a speaker. I love doing it was my favorite thing to do probably at the time. And so I went to an event and it was like some money speakers, something, you know, learn how to monetize it. And I was, I barely even made it there.

I remember waiting for clients deposit to come in, because I, I didn’t know how I was going to get home. Like, it was like that. And of course my wife was not happy of the fact that I’m going to like, because I’m like, believe in me. I’m investing in myself and our future. You know, the band’s going to make it.

The guy was like, you know, you need to have a book. This is not about you standing on the stage. You need to have something that people can take away with them from this experience. Right? And so I was like, that’s when the idea popped in my head for Sleep Smarter. That’s when it happened was at that event and the execution on it was shortly thereafter.

And that’s another thing is like when you get an insight, especially today when we’re so distracted, the faster you can put something into play, that speed of execution is such a valuable character trait to work on.

Pat Flynn: That makes a lot of sense. I mean, to me, that, that makes complete sense, the fact that, well, this was on top of mind, you knew it would be helpful to people.

It was something that a person could read. I read it and implemented, like, the evening I read the first few chapters and saw immediate results from. And I think a lot of people experienced it in that way, similar to how a lot of us experienced The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. Just after a day, you’re getting some results.

And the fact that that was like… a way for you to get used to what a book might be like, what it might be like to work with a publisher. It’s sort of like training you. And it just so happened to go really wide as well. And it gave you all the things you needed to write your best book, right from there.

And that book, Eat Smarter, has been amazing. And now you have this sort of supplemental part that’s coming out now, the recipe book that goes along with it. I do want to ask you about that as well. But when you were talking, you were going into a lot of science and research and things that you do. This is something that’s very prevalent inside of your podcast, which you can find on YouTube and of course, any podcast app people might be on. Any content, anytime you’re on an interview, you bring up these studies and other things, I, what is your process for research? I’m, I’m curious. Do you. Lock yourself in a room for a whole day and like go through a bunch of paperwork. Or are you at the library using that old school thing flipping through newspapers and stuff with the light behind it?

What is that like? How do you collect these things and manage them so that you can use them later?

Shawn Stevenson: You just conjured up a memory When I first went to school in 1997, Pat, it’s so crazy is when I went to college, I was a freshman in high school. Yeah, I was, I went early, you know, I graduated in three years of high school, you know, that graduated in 1997, went to college in 1997, that summer.

And this is real talk. And I went to a unnecessarily expensive private university in St. Charles, Missouri. They were transitioning, they still had the Dewey decimal system. And this is not a joke. Card catalog, you pull the thing out and I’m like looking and there was like maybe 10 computers at the library, you know, computer lab.

And the Internet was like this thing that was just happening. And you know, I can’t imagine being the level of researcher that I am today having to go through all that, like right now, it’s really about the questions that you ask. So as far as how do I go about this process? I’ve worked on asking high quality questions.

It’s kind of like using with AI that you’ve told me about, you know, and just being able to say things in a certain way. So what I typically do, I mean, again, we have You know, with Google or Google Scholar, just even looking for, you know, whatever it might be. So let me give an example. Let’s see. How about the impact of relationships on cognitive health study?

Make sure you put study. In that search and some stuff is going to come up likely tied to studies as generally is going to come up first, just by putting that keyword in there and you can look into some data on how your relationships impact your cognitive function or your, you know, the health of your brain.

But through that, something similar to that, I didn’t phrase it exactly like that, but I happened upon one of the largest studies ever done a meta analysis of 148 studies. So meta analysis is like a bunch of studies that the researchers are analyzing and then putting it together. And it was about 300, 000 study participants looking at how relationships impact our health.

And this isn’t all in the Eat Smarter Family Cookbook, by the way, but the researchers found that people who had warm relationships that had healthy relationships had about a 50 percent reduction in all cause mortality. So what that means is people who had healthy relationships had about a 50 percent reduction in dying from just about everything prematurely.

Right, so there was some protective aspect seen in the data having high quality relationships. And so, as a matter of fact, the researchers found that that was more influential on people’s health and exercise than quitting smoking, then obesity, something about our relationships is a protective force. And what it is, it’s an epigenetic kind of influencing what our gene expression is.

And really quick, I’ll throw this in here too, because I just had this conversation. This is a guy who he’s a professor of psychiatry at Harvard University, and he’s the director of the longest running longitudinal study ever done in human history. And so longitudinal study is we follow the same people for years.

And so the study has been being conducted for about 80 years. He’s like the fourth director, I think, to get the torch passed to him. And they were looking at what creates success and happy humans and health. And when he got the director job and start to dig into the data more, he couldn’t believe it himself.

Healthy relationships were the number one factor in human longevity. Beyond diet, beyond exercise, beyond sleep and stress and all these things, there’s something about having warm relationships that’s protective. And I know what that thing is. And that’s what I really focus on in this project. Our relationships have the biggest impact on those other things.

Our relationships have the biggest impact on our fitness culture, on what we’re eating, on our stress exposure and how we manage that stress, right? It’s really the, the tip of the spear in human health and functionality, there are very few things in our reality that impact our success and our potential more than the quality of our relationships.

This is something that me being a reformed lone wolf would not have believed. I would not have believed that this was the case myself, but it is absolutely true. The most valuable thing in my life, I wouldn’t trade anything for it is my relationships. The fact that I get to talk to Pat Flynn each week is just mind blowing.

I could just go to sleep and, and snuggle myself every night just with that one piece alone. It’s very powerful.

Pat Flynn: That is not in Sleep Smarter. That’s not what the Smart in Smart Passive Income is for. But if this podcast helps you fall asleep, then I guess that’s a win. But hopefully you’re still awake here because it’s Sean Stevenson and I talking about all kinds of things today. I love where this is going. And I love how we’re just letting you chat. I’m curious about the research component. It sounds like you start with just a curiosity that you have. Like maybe it’s a conversation you had with somebody and you’re like, I wonder what actually is the reality of this thing.

Whatever it might be, right? Or just a curious thought that you have or something that you read and you want to know the real answer to it. And then you go into these studies and then I imagine you go down like this rabbit hole of just finding study after study and how do you, when you do that, you know, and that’s so beneficial, because then when you relay this information to all of us, in layman’s terms, right, you’re doing the hard work of A, finding these things, collating it, and then B, giving it to us in a language that we understand, which you are so good at.

I mean, that is a massive talent and an art form that you have mastered. How do you… know that these are trusted resources, because especially for you talking about health, talking about sleep and fitness and stuff. I mean, that affects a person’s body and makeup and everything like that’s a responsibility that you have.

What do you do to make sure those sources are legitimate? And how do you how do you determine that?

Shawn Stevenson: That’s such a great question, Pat. And you said it is like going down a rabbit hole truly. And for example, that study that I mentioned that meta analysis, if people want to look into it, you know, you’re going to dig into a 20 page consolidation paper.

I’m not, I’m talking about beyond the abstract of the paper, a little paragraph, but like looking at the data, it’s going to take a lot of time for you to really kind of, and also a lot of times, unfortunately, and this is another thing that I felt victim to myself was speaking through the language of academia.

Right, so a lot of times these papers are published to be impressive to other researchers. And so a lot of the most viable, important things that can help us as humanity right now, people don’t know about. And so here’s a little not so fun fact. When a study is proven to create some kind of a new health outcome, some kind of innovation in science, it takes 15 years for it to be implemented into university education for new physicians and also just kind of being globally like continuing education. So even, and this is now, by the way, the person who directed me towards that research was Tony Robbins when we were talking, which is another crazy thing to say, what am I doing talking to Tony Robbins?

He actually used some of my research in his latest book that I had directed him towards, which is pretty cool. Here’s the other part. And this is why he, he used it in the, because of the way that I shared it. The way that I explained it and dictated, and I’ll tell you how I do it. As I’m digging through this research, I’m thinking in my head, and I didn’t realize this for years, but I was thinking in this, it’s something called instinctive elaboration.

It’s kind of like this, a question your subconscious is posing itself all the time, and it directs our focus, but I was always thinking, how can I teach this? How can I teach this as I’m going through this kind of what can sometimes be complex data? And it really boils down a lot of times to what is the most essential information that’s applicable?

For the people who are, are listening to this, right? What is the most important part of this and leave out the, the fluff? Cause there’s so much fluff in a lot of studies. And now here’s the other part about who can you trust? So this has also been something that has really kind of recently come to the forefront.

Unfortunately, published research, our most prestigious medical journals, unfortunately, we are at a place where most of the data is the university funding for studies is from pharmaceutical companies. And we’re talking like to the degree of like 80 plus percent of studies where there was a time when we had a lot of government funded research, right?

So getting grants and things like for the NIH, it is so hard for researchers who ask questions, like I do, like my colleagues do to get funding to then run the studies and like run gold standard studies. So that’s another thing about, so it’s of course like coming in with a little bit of skepticism, but also looking at the quality of the study, how it’s constructed.

Because there’s a difference between something like an observational study, where it’s like literally we observe something that happens in, in the world and we make a hypothesis about it. But sometimes that hypothesis, which is if we go back to school, it was educated guests. But sometimes that educated guess becomes fact because it’s published in a peer review journal that should do with we, if we have an observation is to run it through a randomized placebo controlled trial.

All right. Preferably double blind where the participant doesn’t know, and the researcher doesn’t know. And why does that matter? There’s something called the observer effect. Just the observation of a thing changes the outcome of a thing. Now we’re talking about quantum physics and get real freaky. We’re not, we’re not trying to get too freaky today.

We’re just all getting close again. All right. But it’s just understanding like there is so many. And by the way, I said placebo controlled. Most folks don’t realize that on average, on average, across the board in clinical trials, placebos, a fake drug, a fake treatment sham surgeries are about 33 percent effective in creating an inducing a treatment response to the degree we have sound data on again, somebody believing that they’re taking a medication to reduce their blood pressure and it working. Depression, cancer, fake surgeries.

There’s a whole slew of studies and there’s books that compile this stuff, by the way, on basically, you know, we can even put, you can watch a video of your surgery, depending on your surgeon for knee surgery, for example, and it would put up someone else’s surgery and go and basically do a minor incision and basically just close it back up.

They don’t do any therapeutic change and the person’s knee problem going away, you know, their ACL healing or whatever the case might be. That’s the power of the mind. And again. I’m a very logical person. And so for me, seeing is believing. Even as soon as I heard that, someone was like, come on, that’s, that’s nuts.

Truly a lot of what’s happening with the healing of our body and metabolic changes it’s still based on our body’s interaction with things and our perception of things. This is powerful for all of us in our lives. Like, what are we telling ourselves? And at the very kind of core of this, like, how does this work?

Your thoughts create chemistry in your body all day, every day. Your thoughts create chemistry in your body. You know, that feeling when you’re thinking anxious thoughts, you feel it in your body. When we’re angry, we feel it in our body. When we’re joyful, we feel it in our bodies. We’re creating that chemistry based on our thinking and our perception of the world, our perception of ourselves within the context of this world, of all the things that we’re talking about, you know, whether it’s health, whether it’s business, what’s really driving all of this is our mind. You know, that’s the most powerful thing, but we spend so much time doing all these external things and missing out on, you know, where the real power is. So just the cherry on top of this really quickly is. So what I tend to do is I look for higher quality studies, absolutely.

And, this is the part that even if somebody hears this, you gotta have some cojones to do it, all right, respectfully, which is, I also tend to look for things that refute what I believe. All right, so I can get a more holistic, a well rounding, a well rounded understanding of a subject matter and understand because most peer reviewed studies that say a certain thing, there is probably going to be something that says the total opposite. All right. And you’ve got to understand why is that? Is, are these people lying? Is this person lying over here? Is this person telling the truth? So much of our lives are conditional.

So somebody can have a certain treatment or a certain group of people can have a certain treatment response, you know, in one place and then just the conditions being different can affect the outcomes over here, you know, right now there’s a big debate about vegetable oils, for example, so called vegetable oil.

I even struggled to say that because it’s not from vegetables. It’s not like Brussels sprouts oil or broccoli oil. It’s made from genetically modified oftentimes, you know, canola oil, corn oil and the like. And by the way. Even the canola plant, this is a recent invention. It’s not something that is just like, there’s a natural canola that the ancestors used to know.

This is a, this is a new plant that we’ve developed to be able to extract that oil. That’s tiny amount of oil from that particular plant. It takes a insane amount of processing. People could check that out on YouTube. By the way, if you find the real how canola oil is made, it is gross. All right. High heat treatment, of course, which the oils are very volatile and sensitive to heat.

By the way, you know, these PUFAs are called polyunsaturated fatty acids. And so they’re just going to be, at that point, high heat treatment is going to make them incredibly inflammatory in the body. It’s called reactive oxygen species. So we’re going to have all these inflammatory events taking place when you consume it.

And let alone they add deodorizers. They add chemical solvents, you know, the list goes on and on, right? It looks like mud and they have to, you know, add these coloring agents to get this kind of pristine yellowish kind of liquid plasma ish at its core. And so again, there’s some research that’s saying this is great for humans.

But my thing is whether or not, you know, the health ramifications, which I have a ton of data on this, if there is some potential benefit or at least no harm, I just bring this to a place of logic. Okay. Is that an ultra processed food? And the answer is absolutely it is. So if we are advocating for humans to eat more real foods, minimally processed, that is the opposite of that. And that’s what’s in most ultra processed foods, by the way. And last piece here is we transition. One of the things that’s been going around recently is a study published in the BMJ, the British medical journal. And also I pay attention to the journal as well.

The BMJ has been fair, you know, they haven’t gotten everything right, but they’ve been especially the past couple of years, really being more holistic in their thinking and adding in different data from different researchers that do have refuting evidence. And so the BMJ published some data recently analyzing the diet in America that almost 60 percent of the average American’s diet is now made of ultra processed food.

That’s for adults. Couple that with, and the Eat Smarter Family Cookbook is the first book that is publishing this newly conducted study that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, JAMA, which they do some good work as well. Like again, I’ve vetted them, not perfect, but higher tier.

All right, for me, top five. And they analyzed the diets of our children for about 20 years. Kids here in the U S. Between the ages of two and 19. So children and adolescents, and in 1999, the average American child’s diet was made of 61 percent ultra processed foods by 2018. Our children here in the United States, almost 70 percent of their diet is now made of ultra processed foods.

All right. So these are foods, and by the way, humans have been processing food forever. Don’t get me wrong. This is just to be clear. If you cook something, that’s a process. If you take an olive and crush the oil out, that’s processing. But we still have something that’s very close to nature, to its source.

Ultra processing is when we have a field of wheat, we have a field of corn, and somehow that becomes a bowl of Lucky Charms. Somehow, that field of wheat becomes a bowl of fruity pebbles or pop tarts. It’s so far removed from anything natural, not to mention all the food dyes and, you know, the pesticides and the coloring agents.

I said food dyes and coloring agents. And preservatives. But one of the other things I shared in the book, and this is the last little part, was, you know, being somebody that went to a conventional university in my nutritional science class, which was optional, by the way, it was optional to take that on any of the science tracks, but my teacher was really advocating for us and also if we ended up working with patients to make sure to advocate for seven to 11 servings of whole grains every day.

That’s the foundation of a healthy diet. Now, now we know that there’s definitely an issue here, especially with such a carbohydrate dominant diet for a lot of people with blood sugar dysregulation. But what is the piece that’s getting overlooked? Because it’s not that certain grains are bad or carbohydrates are bad, you know, and again, this depends on you.

One thing we know for certain that’s harming human health is. What they’ve been treated with. And a big change is happening right now with glyphosate, which is a product, I’m from St. Louis. So must Monsanto would come to my university. I went to work there, you know, it’s like let’s get a good job at Monsanto. But glyphosate is an insecticide and it also has some benefits in the processing of the grains themselves but the WHO has recently affirmed that glyphosate is a class 2A carcinogen.

That means it probably causes cancer. And it’s been utilized in our food system for, for years and years and years. And so what I shared in the book was a report from the world health, I’m sorry, the world health organization made that assessment, but from the environmental working group analyze grain products on us store shelves, and they found that up to 90 percent of grain products in the U. S. Are contaminated with glyphosate. It’s crazy. It’s crazy. So could that be contributing to our allergic reactions are inflammatory reactions are health issues. We’ve got to take a more holistic approach and not just say the grain is bad, but maybe the way that it’s grown, maybe the way that we’re using it, maybe the way that we’re processing it, you know?

So, but with all that said, I’m consolidating that all down into making like literally I made charts of like, you know, a scary choice, good choice, smarter choice, you know, like just to give you a spectrum of like, I probably want to choose this when I can. And not creating like vilifying any of that stuff as well.

We don’t want to get into that place and creating a diet dogma, but also being aware so we can make healthier choices, stack conditions for our family and also, of course, enjoy really delicious food.

Pat Flynn: So definitely, obviously check out Eat Smarter Family Cookbook, 100 delicious recipes to transform your health, happiness and connection to finish up here.

Sean, it’s obvious that you are passionate about this. We feel it. We could hear it. You are deep in the rabbit holes of studies around this, and you serve your audience in such an incredible way. I’ve been a part of your audience for years now, and I just want to thank you personally for the help that you’ve done for me and how you’ve transformed me.

I’m curious with like, it’s one thing to spit facts, which you are. It’s one thing to learn about these things and then translate it for our audience. But it’s another thing to do that and then it actually inspired audience to make a change and to take action and to engage. How do you engage in your audience to actually do the work and get inspired to actually make a change versus just kind of being an audience who loves your voice or watches your videos because you’re a handsome man and just like consumes just to consume? How do you inspire people to actually get. Results from the work that you do.

Shawn Stevenson: This is the easiest and hardest thing, Pat, is being yourself. That’s the super power for all of us. People can sense that, you know, and I didn’t get to this point by, you know, just a guy who’s wanted to like teach health and fitness.

I’ve gone through stuff and I come from a very volatile environment. I didn’t have a good family structure. And so life was qualifying me to do this work, you know, through a lot of struggle, through a lot of pain and through a lot of service, you know, and figuring things out for myself and then finding a way to help other people.

And so that’s just going to come across. There’s a, there’s this superpower incongruency and also not having to hide. You know, like actually just being yourself because me being, you know, an academic and somebody who’s a researcher and, you know, the university education, all that stuff. I initially, because I thought I had to, to be successful, fitting into that mold, you know, give me a lab coat and, you know, whatever, no, that’s my mission, I’m a real person and I have a real family and I care about people and I’ve been through stuff and I’m not like these people.

I was embarrassed about my story and where I come from, but now it’s like I understand that as a gift. I see the gift in it. So that’s really what it is. As far as conveying that motivation and that energy, just being authentic to myself, you know, because whether we understand it or not, and you know, me being a scientist, like there is some science behind this.

We are connected. We’re connected as a people. We see this stuff in nature. Like, you know, I just saw some birds flying by actually out my window. I’m like, how are they? How do they know to fly in that formation like that flying V? Yeah. You know, like the mighty ducks, you know, but how do they do that? How do they know to do that?

How do other species know what to do? And sudden, like there’s this, you know, hot quote, hive mind. We know that there’s a connection. We have that same thing and Princeton University actually did some research on this, just having people, you know, strangers create just a general level of rapport, spend a few minutes together, you know, maybe 10 minutes and they separate them and analyze their brain activity and also monitoring their brain activity while they’re in conversation.

And they find that when people in conversation with each other, our brains start syncing up and they start matching each other as far as our brain waves and our brain frequencies. And so again, we are very social species, we don’t get it, even the sound of my voice, you know, when people see you as well, but there’s so much through not just the words that you’re using, but where the words are coming from, and that’s going to get picked up.

So the more you can get in touch with being yourself, being authentic to you, that’s going to come across.

Pat Flynn: That’s such wonderful advice. It reminds me of our buddy Lewis Howes, who at one point was very embarrassed about his story once a future football star having gotten injured and having gone through some tough life things and wanting to just hide that.

And then eventually he came and said, No, this is who I am. This is what I lived through. This is what I’ve learned. This is how I can take these experiences and serve you. He’s written books about this stuff. And look where he’s at now. And the same thing with you. The same thing with me sharing my story.

We all have a story. And we have to be able to be not even necessarily comfortable sharing it. A lot of the times these things make us uncomfortable and are embarrassing at times. But, when we are here to serve others, which is the other component of this, it is obvious that you are here to serve others, those two things, being yourself and connecting on that high of mind level, like you said, with other people, from a place of service, that’s where the business growth comes, that’s where the success comes from, and you’ve experienced that, your podcast has grown like mad, you’ve had amazing sponsors on the show now, you’re making a ton of money doing that, you were now advisor to different companies that, you know, these new opportunities are opening up for you.

I just got to say, it’s a blessing to have you in my life, my friend. I appreciate you and the inspiration you offer every single week for me and the group. And I’m just grateful to have your time today to bring on the show and inspire others because it’s infectious and in a good way.

Shawn Stevenson: That’s the thing that, you know, thank you so much for that.

And, you know, good things are infectious as well, you know, and that’s what this is really about in this mission. Being able to transfer our experience, our culture that we create, like the culture you create in your household and share that with other people. There’s nothing more powerful than your representation than what you’re modeling.

Part of this, and just really quickly, I want to share this. A part of this is looking at how spending time with your family around the dinner table, spending time with your friends around a dinner table and eating together, how much that affects our health outcomes, especially for our kids. People need to know this stuff because we can really stack conditions in our kid’s favor by eating together more frequently. And so all that science is in there. I already said this, man, I missed you. And to be able to have you in my life is like, it’s unbelievable. It’s unbelievable. Because we started this, I started my show, my wife and I utilizing the information that you were putting out.

And all we did was take that and put it into action and putting this little secret ingredient that shouldn’t be a secret, which was consistency. And I remember I tweeted you out, I said, Pat, I know you don’t know me, but I use your information and you helped me to be the number one health podcast in the United States.

And you hit me back. You were like, dude, that’s awesome. Thank you. But you can’t get to number one without being something extraordinary, essentially, is what you share knowledge is like, wait a minute. Am I extraordinary? And so, you know, ever since, man, we’ve been connected and such a gift, man, for people that don’t know you personally, you are that guy.

You are an incredible human being, incredibly giving, so creative and insightful. And yeah, it’s just a blessing to be able to talk to each week and to, to have that inspiration because I take what I get from you and I put it into the real world and help others with it.

Pat Flynn: Oh man. And I take that and I give it back to you.

And we’re just in this positive feedback loop right now, my man Flynnfectious is what I’m going to call it. Flynnfection. Maybe not. That’s actually bad. It sounds bad. But what’s not bad is your book. Get it now. Eat Smarter Family Cookbook. Where can people go to check it out? Where would you recommend they go?

Shawn Stevenson: Awesome. Barnes and Noble. Amazon. Your favorite local retailer, everywhere books are sold, go and grab your copy. Demand it. Make sure that, you know, we’re letting the industry know, of course, like this is the kind of information that we want. We want information that’s empowering about family.

It’s about delicious food, of course. And by the way, people can pop over to We got a ton of special gifts over there as well for people that get the book. And one of them is a summit that we put together the 2023 Family Health and Fitness Summit. So you get to learn from other people besides myself working in health and fitness who have kids.

And like, you know, how do they deal with picky eaters? How do you, you know, save money on groceries and all these cool things we get to learn from some of the leading experts in the world as well. So people get access to that for free and a bunch of other cool stuff too.

Pat Flynn: That’s awesome. Thank you, brother.

We’ll make sure to include all that in our show notes and such a pleasure. And I’m blessed because you and I will be able to chat again soon, very soon, actually. So looking forward to that. Thanks, man.

Shawn Stevenson: Thank you.

Pat Flynn: Alright, I hope you enjoyed that episode with Sean Stevenson, and I’m so grateful for his just time on the show and to pass forward his knowledge to you and a little bit of behind the scenes of how he does what he does.

I was especially interested in his research and how in depth he goes and how we make sure that the sources that he’s pulling that information from is relevant and safe and to the standard that we all expect. And he just delivered and I’m grateful also because he’s delivered his new book and you can check out his book at the links that he mentioned, or all the links that we just talked about are going to be over at the show notes page at Again, His book, Eat Smarter Family Cookbook, A Hundred Delicious Recipes to Transform Your Health, Happiness, and Connection. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, all the places. Sean, thank you so much for your time today. Thank you for listening all the way through.

I appreciate you and since you’re here listening to this podcast, you might as well go and subscribe to his. It’s one of the only other podcasts that I personally subscribe to so I can get all hi of his information and of course, just, his voice is just so easy to listen to. I love it. And I also heard from many other people that he’s not bad looking either.

But that’s up to you to decide if you want to check it out. I would tend to agree though. Anyway, thank you so much. I appreciate you. Peace out and I look forward to serving you in the next episode. So hit that subscribe button so you don’t miss it.

Thank you so much for listening to the Smart Passive Income podcast at I’m your host, Pat Flynn. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. Our senior producer is David Grabowski, and our executive producer is Matt Gartland. The Smart Passive Income Podcast is a production of SPI Media, and a proud member of the Entrepreneur Podcast Network. Catch you next week!

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