David Laroche: Hello Achievers! Today we are in a new place. It is an awesome place and I am with an awesome guest too. He is Jim Cathcart, hall of fame professional speaker, best-selling author of six books and—I don’t know how to say that in English—hall of fame in marketing too.
Jim Cathcart: Thank you David.
David Laroche: Thank you very much for answering my questions.
Jim Cathcart: My pleasure.
David Laroche: How are you today?
Jim Cathcart: I’m thrilled. I’m happy to be here and looking forward to our conversation.
David Laroche: It is a great place. I don’t know if you listened to the—it’s not a river.
Jim Cathcart: The waterfall, yes. Waterfall, we’re in the midst of a vineyard here at the Stonehouse, which is part of the West Lake Village Inn complex of companies in West Lake Village, California—just north of Los Angeles on the way to Santa Barbara.
David Laroche: It’s great. So I’ll let you to introduce yourself. Who are you?
Jim Cathcart: I’m a professional speaker and author. I’ve been doing this for 38 years. I started when I was 30 years old in the middle of the United States, in Arkansas and Oklahoma. Then a few years later I moved to California and I’ve lived out here ever since and absolutely love it.
In those 38 years, as you mentioned, I’ve managed to author 16 books and two of those have become international best-sellers. I’ve been president of the National Speakers Association—pardon me while I put on the glasses.
David Laroche: Yes.
Jim Cathcart: National Speakers Association of the US. And I work primarily in the subject area of sales and marketing, so it’s mostly helping people grow their business, build more sales, attract more people to their products or their services.
David Laroche: Let’s start with sales. It’s very interesting. According to you, what could be the mistakes we have to avoid in sales?
Jim Cathcart: The primary mistake that people make in sales is thinking that selling is about persuasion. That seems to be the dominant mindset worldwide that sales is about persuading other people to buy. I don’t see it that way at all. I think that’s a small portion of what goes on, but the sales is about helping people and earning a profit by doing so.
So if I’m in the business of helping people, then I’m a problem solver. If their problem is they don’t have a big screen TV and I’m selling big screen TV’s, then you could say, “Well, that’s not a need, that’s a want.” It doesn’t matter. Their problem is they’re not having the enjoyment of their television experience that they would like to. So when I bring them a larger screen, a higher definition picture then I’m solving a problem. Although it’s not an urgent problem like a health problem or a money problem, still I’m a problem solver.
So it’s not about me persuading them to buy the television, it’s about me showing them the value of owning that television instead of the one they have so that they have a more enjoyable experience, they can do more things, they can see more, you know, whatever.
That’s sales, whether you’re selling hospital supplies, professional services, accounting, legal services… It’s all fundamentally solving the problem of the person you’re addressing and earning a profit by doing so.
David Laroche: And if we take the example I am a French speaker and I would like—
Jim Cathcart: I had a suspicion you were a French speaker.
David Laroche: For example, if I would like to sell my training to an English, American CEO. What can I do?
Jim Cathcart: If I were in your position and I was selling to American chief executive I would say, “What I bring is quite different from what you’re used to. Although I’ll talk about many of the same things—about confidence and belief and clear goals and focus and discipline—I’ll talk about it from the context of a different culture, a different language, a different age, a different world view. So I’ll be able to relate to people than your traditional, regular American speakers, you know, white men in a suit wouldn’t necessarily appeal to. So I’ll be able to reach your people in a very memorable way, in a very unique way that will capture and hold their attention long after the meeting’s over.”
David Laroche: So if I capture the attention I will have more impact on the company and more results for the company, that’s right?
Jim Cathcart: Because if you don’t get their attention fully, if all you get is attendance—you know, “Yes, yes,”, you know, acting as if they’re paying attention—it’s not going through in getting here. So you got to get their eagerness, their active involvement in learning from you.
David Laroche: Do you think it’s possible to sell to a CEO a self-confidence conference or speech because a CEO doesn’t matter [care] of a self-confidence speech. He wants results, he wants money and why—
Jim Cathcart: No, you’re talking about selling your speech or teaching him to speak?
David Laroche: I would like to sell my speech to a CEO, a speech on self-confidence for example.
Jim Cathcart: OK, so if you’re talking to—
David Laroche: How can I show the value of this kind of speech?
Jim Cathcart: That’s the key what you just said. Sell the value. Nobody buys a speech. Nobody buys a seminar. Nobody buys a book. They may hand you money and receive a book, but what they’re buying is the experience of reading the book and applying the ideas, or attending the seminar and learning something new.
So it’s the solution that people are seeking, that’s where the value is. And value is always determined by the recipient, not by the giver. So you don’t bring value in the sense that it’s all inside of you. The value is determined by me, the listener, and I hear what you say and if it means something to me then I will get value from it. Does that make sense?
David Laroche: Yes.
Jim Cathcart: OK. So I would say, “My speech is not the important thing, what’s important is the effect it has on your people. Let’s talk about what you want to happen among your people.”
I was talking with a client yesterday and he said, “So, what is your speech about?” And I didn’t understand the question. I said, “Oh,” I said, “I see what’s wrong. You’re assuming I have a speech and I come and I give it. No, my speech is not a performance. My speech is simply the way I convey my ideas to your people, but what matters is not what I do, it’s what they do after I leave. So let’s talk about what you want them to do after I leave.”
And tomorrow morning early I have a telephone call with a gentleman in France, in Toulouse, ironically—coincidentally, not ironically—and he is calling to tell me what he wants his people to do differently after I do my seminar. Because he sent me an e-mail and he said, “Tell me what you will do for us.” And I said, “Well, tell me what you want to happen after I do it and then I can tell you what I’ll do for you.”
They get a lot of speakers—
David Laroche: So you don’t have a product. You can change it and adapt it to the CEO?
Jim Cathcart: Exactly. Although it may be that my product stays mostly the same, but I change it just a little bit for this client, and just a little bit more for that client and then change it back this way for the next client.
So I might have—let’s say I’m doing a seminar on sales and I’m teaching them how to sell effectively, professional selling skills. I will always talk about identifying the right buyer, listening to them, probing and asking questions to determine their needs, prescribing a solution that fits their need, in a negotiation discussing the price and the timing and all that sort of thing, confirming the commitment to buy and then assuring that they’re satisfied. So I’ll always talk about those steps, but the stories I choose, the examples I use, whether I involve them in an exercise or not, that all depends on what they want to accomplish. But I need to spend more time studying their company and their group and their needs than I do studying my subject because I’m already an expert on my subject. I need to become skilled at understanding them.
David Laroche: Yes, I love that. Can you share me one of the stories you tell, a story that have a great impact on the people.
Jim Cathcart: One of the stories I tell is about going into a McDonald’s restaurant. It is a very simple experience. I went into a McDonald’s restaurant in Tulsa, Oklahoma, many years ago—many years ago, in 1976. A generation ago! I went into this restaurant one morning and there were two women behind the counter. One was about 20 years old and one was a teenager. As I approached the counter the 20-year old said, “Good morning! What’s your name?” I’ve never been asked my name in a McDonald’s restaurant in my life and I was shocked. I said—
David Laroche: Why?
Jim Cathcart: And she said, “What’s wrong?”
I said, “You asked my name!”
She said, “The question was too hard?”
I said, “No, the question wasn’t too hard,”
I said, “But I’ve just never been asked my name in a McDonald’s before!”
She said, “What is it?”
I said, “It’s Jim Cathcart.”
And she said, “What will you have?”
And I said, “I’ll have an egg sandwich and coffee.”
She said, “Fine. It’ll be $ 1.41,” which was the price at the time.
So I paid for my breakfast and as I started to walk away, the younger woman turns to the older woman—they were only four years apart, one was a teenager and one was 20—and the younger woman said, “Hey grandma, where are the coffee cups?”
And the older woman said, “They’re right over there.”
I said, “Excuse me, you appear to be 20 years old.”
She said, “Twenty-one,”
I said, “OK, and you’re a grandmother?”
She said, “No! They call me ‘grandmother’ because I take care of everybody.”
And I said, “OK, what’s your name?”
She said, “My name is Merrill.”
I said, “What do you like to be called?”
She said, “Actually I like to be called ‘grandma’.”
I said, “OK, Grandma,” and I went on about my business.
Now, I came back day after day after day. Each time I came back she said, “Good morning, what’s your name again?”
“What will you have?”
“Egg sandwich and coffee. How much is that?”
Every day the same thing.
One morning I walked in she said, “Mr. Cathcart, good morning. Your breakfast is ready.”
David Laroche: Wow!
Jim Cathcart: “Thank you!” I paid, I went on my way, but the next day I drove into the parking lot and in the parking lot I saw the problem. Two empty school buses. And if you say two empty school buses in a McDonald’s parking lot, what would you suspect you will discover in the lobby? A lot of kids, right? So two empty school buses, 45 children per school bus… 90 children in McDonald’s that morning.
David Laroche: I see.
Jim Cathcart: And I walked in, I squeezed through the door and I looked for the queue that was moving fast, the one that always stops when you get in it, and sure enough it stopped.
So I stood there for a minute and I heard my name, “Mr. Cathcart, Mr. Cathcart.” And I looked up in front it was Merrill. She said, “Your breakfast is ready.” So I walked to the front, she said, “No charge.” I picked up my breakfast, strutted into the dining room and dive—if you can do that—on an egg McMuffin.
At that moment what do you think the odds were that I might return to that McDonald’s again? High, moderate or low?
David Laroche: High.
Jim Cathcart: Very high! The question though is not, “Would I come back?” The question is, “Why would I come back?” Was it the product? No. Was it the price that was free? No. What was it? What do you think? Why would I come back to that restaurant after that experience?
David Laroche: The attention.
Jim Cathcart: Exactly. The service, the attention, the way she made me feel. So that’s the thing.
David Laroche: It’s so important.
Jim Cathcart: Because whenever we come into a place of business, or any kind of business dealing, we have expectations as to how we would like to feel. We’d like to feel safe or we’d like to feel reassured, we’d like to feel amazed or we’d like to feel that we’re in good hands and someone will take care of our problem and solve it. We’d like to feel that there’s no danger to this transaction, that everything will go as planned. We want those feelings and we’re willing to pay to achieve that result and acquire those feelings. So that’s the whole nature of that.
So I came back to that McDonald’s almost every day for six consecutive years. Now, with one simple gesture she got six years of customer loyalty from me. Not by giving me a free breakfast, but by singling me out to serve me well. And I use that as an example with audiences and I try to talk about what does this mean, what does it mean to you and how does this principle apply to your company or your people. So it comes in exercise for learning.
And years later, I’ll be walking through an airport and somebody would say, “Grandma at McDonald’s.”
I said, “What?”
“You’re the guy that told the story about the woman at McDonald’s whose nickname was ‘Grandma’.”
“Yes, I am. Where did that happen?”
He said, “Well, I was in San Francisco in 1991 and I heard you give that speech.”
That many years ago and people still remember it? So when you have a story like that that people are drawn into and they can identify with it, it’s something they feel relates to their life and then they can learn things from that. But you don’t learn from the story. You learn through reflecting on the story and what it means.
David Laroche: Yes, you’re right. I love the story.
Jim Cathcart: Thank you.
David Laroche: How did you create the same impact in your own business, the same quality of attention? Do you have an example with your business and what did you do?
Jim Cathcart: Something I did early in my business was I made sure that it was not a business that was about me, even though my company is called Cathcart Institute you could say that’s about me but it’s not. Cathcart Institute exists to help other people grow and improve.
So the first thing I did was look for groups that I could help and find the maximum number of ways that I could be helpful to them and then all my services were structured around that. So it was the ability to produce proven results that I was bringing to the business.
Then, when I hired my employees I would tell each one of them, “It’s very important that you know not only what to do, but how to think about what we do. Because you could learn what to do and you would always do it exactly the same, but circumstances change so you need to learn what we do and, more importantly, why we do it because a person who knows how might have a job, but the one who knows why would be their boss. So if you want to advance understand the ‘why’, then you can change the ‘how’ to fit the person or the circumstances and to adapt.”
David Laroche: I love it! In your business you are successful, hall of fame in marketing speaker and speaking. Can you share me one of your struggles you’ve had in the past and how did you overcame it? Do you understand what I mean?
Jim Cathcart: A challenge or a problem that I encountered?
David Laroche: Yes. Because I would like to help people to understand that successful people have struggles, and the most important thing is how they overcame it.
Jim Cathcart: Well, I grew up in the central part of the United States, in Arkansas. My father was a telephone repairman and my mother was a housewife and she took care of my sister and me and my invalid grandfather who had had a stroke and was unable to move for seven years, for the last seven years of his life. So he was in a hospital bed in our front bedroom and my sister and I shared a bedroom in the back of the house and dad traveled all the week around the state doing telephone alignment and telephone repair.
I expected, when I became an adult, that I would be unremarkable, ordinary. I expected to be a nice person, to have a good life, but I never expected to be successful. And I also, when I was growing up, I never learned good habits of health and nutrition and so at age 26 I weighed 200 pounds. This is 150 pounds, so I weighed 33 % more than this when I was 26-years old and I was smoking two packs of cigarettes a day and…
David Laroche: It was a good start.
Jim Cathcart: Yes! I was working as a clerk in a government office making $ 525 a month. I had a wife and a new son, a new baby at home and no college degree and no money in the bank and I didn’t know anyone who had a high position. So I didn’t have any—
David Laroche: You started from scratch.
Jim Cathcart: Starting from scratch, exactly. I just expected to work my way up through the business to management level and then work until I retire—retire and die. Honestly, I didn’t expect much. Then one day on the radio, while I was sitting at work, in the next room I heard a radio broadcast and a man named Earl Nightingale was on 900 radio stations around the world at that time.
David Laroche: He was awesome!
Jim Cathcart: Yes. And he did a little broadcast, a little 5-minute show called “Our Changing World”. And that day he said, “If you would spend one hour extra each day studying your chosen field within 5 years or less you’ll become a national expert on that subject.”
And I thought, “One hour a day, five days a week for five years is 1,250 hours. That’s more than a college degree. If I focused one hour a day extra studying one field, in five years I actually could become a national expert. I, a little, unimportant man.”
David Laroche: It’s possible for me.
Jim Cathcart: Yes, and that cracked the egg, that opened up and let the sunshine in for the first time ever. And I thought, “I could make a difference in the world. Wow!” That astounded me. So for a few weeks I thought about it, “What do I want to be an expert at? It’s not working at a government agency.” And I thought, “I want to do what the men on the radio do. I want to be like Earl Nightingale,” but I didn’t know what that meant.
So I thought, “Well, his field is human development, what they called ‘applied behavioral science’, self-improvement, so I’ll study that.” So I became fanatical about that for five straight years. That’s all I wanted to talk about, think about, read about, be around and I became literally fanatical about personal development. I read every book I could get my hands on, I got records—remember records? Audio cassettes later and then CD’s later. But I listened to tapes every day at least an hour a day and I was taking notes and setting goals. I got involved in my community, I became more active at work, more proactive. I started advancing in my company. It was actually a government agency than a company. Then I got an opportunity to leave and go on my own selling training materials of Earl Nightingale.
So this man named Earl Gash he said, “Come to work with me and we will sell training programs designed by, recorded by Earl Nightingale.” So I left the government agency and I went to work selling these business to business and I did that for a couple of years. Then the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce, headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma, they called me and they said, “How would you like to work on our national headquarter staff and be the man in charge of the leadership training?” I said, “Absolutely.”
So I went to Tulsa to the interview, passed, got accepted and hired and for two years I flew around the country giving speeches and I wrote training manuals and collaborated with others to teach the 350,000 members of the JCs at that time leadership skills.
David Laroche: Great!
Jim Cathcart: I was in heaven! All my dreams were coming true. I was being paid well, I was being paid twice what I had, or that has the majority, at the government agency. I thought I did the big time.
Then, after two years at the headquarters of the JCs, I went out on my own as a professional speaker and trainer. A couple of years after that I started writing my own training materials and then I met a colleague in San Diego, California, Dr. Tony Alessandra, he was a college—
David Laroche: I contacted him.
Jim Cathcart: Well, Tony and I are best friends and executors of each other’s will. We are best, best friends. Yesterday was Tony’s birthday. June 2nd, Tony’s birthday.
I’ll tell you what. Tony was a college professor and I was a full time professional speaker and he said, “Tell me about your business,” and I told him. He said, “That’s much more appealing than being a college professor. I’ll teach you what I know about sales and marketing if you teach me what you know about the field of professional speaking and training.” I said, “OK.”
That led us to becoming partners and for five years we were business partners with one office, one checkbook. I moved to California, we set up an office in La Jolla shores, right near the beach. We started writing books and getting deals with New York publishers. We got all kinds of special training programs published by the University of Southern California and other groups.
Then, one day, I was sitting in the office in La Jolla, California, in 1984 and the phone rang. I picked it up and it was the voice of Earl Nightingale.
David Laroche: Wow!
Jim Cathcart: Not a recording. He said, “May I speak to Jim Cathcart?”
And I said, “Yes…” I’m in shock, that’s my hero!
I said, “This is Jim Cathcart.”
He said, “Well, this is Earl Nightingale.”
I said, “Oh, believe me, I know!”
He said, “Well, I just read an article of yours that I think would make a good audio program. I publish those.”
I said, “Sir, I know. I sold for you in Arkansas and Oklahoma.”
He said, “Oh, OK. Well, let’s take a look at your program.”
And I said, “Well, I’ve already recorded it. Could I send you a copy?”
He said, “Yes.”
So I sent him this audio program called “Relationship strategies” recorded by myself and Tony Alessandra. He said, “We’ll take it. You will rerecord it in our studios. We will publish it.” Well, he did publish it in 1984 and they sold $ 3.5 million worth of those albums in the first two years it was out.
So Tony and I went from being little, obscure office to being world famous creators of a training program in a matter of two years. And in that same time I was on the board of directors of the National Speakers Association and all these other things were happening and we were just rising to the top of our industry.
So in 1972 I heard Earl Nightingale on the radio. In 1974 I started selling Earl Nightingale’s tapes. In the meantime I had lost a great deal of weight, stopped smoking and started setting goals and get my life in order. I left the government agency, went to work on my own, doubled my income, tripled my income, ten times more of my income, moved to California. And then Earl Nightingale calls me completely by surprise and within two years of that I was selling more tapes. He was selling more of my tapes than I ever sold of his. Wow!
Now, fast-forward to 1989. In 1989 Tony and I had gone back to be in separate businesses but still best friends and I was the president of the National Speakers Association. I called Earl Nightingale and I said, “Mr. Nightingale, would you do me the honor of sitting with me on the stage in front of the National Speakers Convention with thousands of peers professional speakers and lets talk about this industry of personal development and how it has evolved over the years because you’ve been in so much longer than me.” He said, “I might do that.” All right, OK. He said, “I’ll let you know later, but I might.” I said, “OK.” That was in March.
In May of 1989 he passed away, he died. His widow, Diana called me and she said, “Jim, we’re not going to have a funeral for Earl, but we will have a memorial service for him. He was cremated and we’ve spread his ashes here at home, so there won't be a funeral in a traditional sense, but I’d like to have a memorial service for Earl at your speaker’s convention. May I do that?” I said, “Absolutely. I’d be honored for you to have that thing.”
So, his widow Diana and I conducted the memorial service for Earl Nightingale in front of hundreds of his peers, including his son David Nightingale in the audience. At his funeral, memorial, there were only two speakers—his widow and me—and a videotape recording from [that way – 00:31:52].
David Laroche: Wow!
Jim Cathcart: One of the greatest honors of my entire life. I mean, even today, it takes my breath away to think about it.
David Laroche: Yes, I can feel that.
Jim Cathcart: Thank you. So, when I say, “This is possible,” I speak from personal experience. I was the fat guy who was smoking too much and never working out, 26-years old; and fast-forward to today I’m 66-years old and weigh 150 pounds. I go mountain trail running in these mountains three days a week. I run six miles. Yesterday we climbed that one. I ride motorcycles, I’ve toured the world on them; I play rock n’ roll guitars at night clubs, one of which is 100 feet from where we’re sitting right now. I have a wife that I’m still I love with after 43 years. My best friend on Earth is my son. He’s 42-years old and he works at the Four Seasons Hotel. He’s [I’ve] got two beautiful grandchildren. Thank you God, I’ve been so blessed it’s overwhelming.
David Laroche: Thank you very much. You can't imagine how I loved your story.
Jim Cathcart: Thank you!
David Laroche: I just have to explain one reason. At the age of 15-years old I was shy, very shy and I had diseases [I was sick] every week. Between 15 and 18-years old I decided to change and taking actions.
Jim Cathcart: That’s brilliant. Me, I was 26 before I got my act together. Wow! Good for you!
David Laroche: But do you think… I think it’s noble because this generation helps the others. I’ve changed but it was long ago and I discovered on the internet “Unlimited Power” from Tony Robbins and I read it—
Jim Cathcart: Tony Robbins was 12-years old when I got involved in speaking. So it tells you what’s possible.
David Laroche: It’s amazing.
Jim Cathcart: I know Tony. I don’t know him well but I’ve been with him a few times, even done the fire walk with him and had much with him. Amazing guy.
David Laroche: I read his book and in one moment of the book he said, “If you want results, you have to follow the people who have the same results that you want.” When I was reading the book, I would say, “It is your result I want!”
Jim Cathcart: It is like me and Earl Nightingale.
David Laroche: Yes. I didn’t understand English at this time, but every day I was listening to Tony Robbins without understanding him. Maybe one time probably I understood one word, one sentence, and I was reading—
Jim Cathcart: I admire you for doing that.
David Laroche: It’s the same as you. And I was reading “Unlimited Power” in French, then English, then in French, the in English. Just before to come to the United States, two days before I had an answer from Tony and in July he is inviting me to his event as a guest and I will interview him and it’s awesome.
Jim Cathcart: Dynamite! Good for you!
David Laroche: And I love your story.
Jim Cathcart: Thank you very much.
David Laroche: It’s such an inspiring story that you have.
Jim Cathcart: Thank you.
David Laroche: Do you have some life lessons you would like—you have a son and you have…
Jim Cathcart: I have grandchildren?
David Laroche: Yes. Grandchildren. Imagine that you can speak to them—and not only the [children – 00:35:49].
Jim Cathcart: I understand.
David Laroche: What could be the life lessons you would like to share them? And you can—
Jim Cathcart: First of… And I’m sorry for the sunglasses. It’s just that my eyes are lightened to them. I think it’s important for our viewers to know that I have had these discussions with my son and with my grandchildren and that this is a sort of thing that I encourage them to do. If we don’t pass along the wisdom of our generation to theirs, then they won't understand, they may hear the words, but if they don’t hear the stories and they see the examples, they won't understand. So their generation will have to make all the mistakes we made in order to advance to their own futures.
I think we should allow them to learn from our experience. At least we’ve got to share the experience, not just define it, it’s not just the results. So that’s why I tell these stories to my own family as well as the others.
I think that the formula for success is to determine what you want in life. And don’t expect yourself to just know that and be able to sit down and write it up. Get in the habit of spending a little bit of time each day writing down your dreams and your goals because until you’ve commit them to writing, the thought process won't be complete. So you need that action and the reading back of it and looking at it again the next day or week later or a month later to cause a thought process to complete itself as it relates to that goal or that dream.
Then ask yourself once the dream is clear, as to what kind of person you want to be, what kind of life you want to have. Ask yourself, “What qualities would that person have that I don’t have yet? How would the future me do today’s work? What would the future me know that I don’t know yet? Then I’ll get those things in mind. Who would the future me know and in what way? Who would he or she be friends with that I’m not yet friends with? And why would they want to be my friends?”
You know, so many people they—is like when we were talking about selling earlier—it’s not about persuading. People say, “Well, I don’t understand why these other people don’t accept me more because I’m their friend.” Excuse me, you can't determine you’re a good friend. You can determine you would like to be a good friend. You can be friendly toward them. You can deserve their friendship. It doesn’t mean they’ll give it. Friendship is in the hands of a giver. So all you can do is be worthy of it. If it doesn’t come then move on, there are more people out there, right?
So determine who you want to have close relationships with and bond with and then find out what they consider friendly, what they consider valuable, what they consider desirable. You could say, “I do nice things for other people all the time.” Do they consider it nice? Is it what they would like or is it what you think they would like? You know the old line, “Do onto others as you would have them do onto you,” the golden rule. And Tony Alessandra says, “Do onto others the way they want to be done onto.” I like that. The platinum rule. That’s a much more accurate interpretation of the meaning of the golden rule, because you have to understand the other person’s wishes, desires, values and concerns if you’re going to be of value to them. So as you acquire the traits of the person you’d like to be, then the future you want will be drawn towards you like magnetism.
See, I had a little card, I call it my “thought diet”, and it was things to think about every day and things to do on the other side of the card every day. And it was a little card the size of a business card. So it’s about this size, this is not it, but it was about this size and one size I’ve written the goals that I wanted to achieve—just a few of them—and then I wrote the qualities, the traits that I needed to develop in myself to be that kind of a person. Now, on the other side I wrote the exact steps I would take each day to do that.
For example, one thing I wanted was to be healthy and fit and I was not. So I wrote, “I am a healthy, fit adult.” That was the trait that I wanted to cultivate. On the other side I wrote one action that would lead towards that, that would start the process and I could do it every day. And here’s what I wrote—you’re going to think this is silly—I wrote, “Put on my jogging shoes and walk to the street.” That’s it.
Then every day, for five straight years, without exception, I’d put on my jogging shoes and walk to the street every single day—in the snow, in the rain, at night, when it was very, very cold, when it was very, very hot, when we had a last minute engagement, I had to go somewhere—I would put on the shoes and run up the street, run back to the house, take off the shoes, got to the engagement. People say, “This is just ridiculous, Jim. That’s silly. It’s useless and [painful – 00:41:24].” No. By doing that every day, to not fail, 9 times out of 10 I’d go for a run. Some days I only ran two blocks, some days I ran five miles. But what happened was I went from weighing 200 pounds to weighing 150 pounds. I went from, I was bulging through my clothes to wear my clothes were fitting loosely and comfortable. I went to work, people thought of me as an athlete for the first time in my entire life and that was one behavior, that was just the physical.
Now, I also had goals for mental, physical, family, social, spiritual, career, financial and emotional. So for each of those I had something for every day and I changed it every several months to something that was more specifically helpful.
David Laroche: I love that.
Jim Cathcart: But it made a difference. You know, I had to take this first step or you can never complete the journey.
David Laroche: So I have a question because it’s very inspiring to have this kind of commitment. Do you have advice to how can we develop the ability to commit like that to take action every day?
Jim Cathcart: I understand. It’s how you get the discipline, how you get the strength of will. People say, “You’ve got to have willpower.” OK, bring me some willpower. No, it doesn’t work like that. How do you get willpower? Now, people tell you all the time you have to have it, what about how do I get it? That’s what I want to know! But the way you get willpower is by taking the first action. So every time you act you strengthen the impulse related to that act.
There’s a book written many years ago called “Self-creation” and the author was Dr. George Weinberg, and this was, I think, written in 1976. I remember reading it vividly obviously. The self-creation principle he talked about in that book is every time you act you strengthen the thinking that goes with that act. So if you act afraid, you will become more afraid. If you act courageous, you will become less afraid, even more courageous. The longer you sustain that action, the more of that feeling and that thought, that mindset you’ll acquire.
So I wanted to become fit, but I knew I couldn’t expect myself to all of a sudden transform into an athlete. I had to just get outdoors and then I had to take the first few steps. Then I had to at least walk down the street, down the block. If I wanted I could run, and then while I’m down there, I thought, “Well, I might run part of the way back. Well, I’ll just keep running until I get to that tree. Well, I can keep going another tree. I can go to the corner. OK, I’ll run to that second house.” Bit by bit over time.
Another thing is reading. I was not a reader. I didn’t read much. And so I took the books I wanted to read and I put them in a place where I had to see them every day. Like if I’m sitting next to the TV, there was a book right there on the table. I’ve got a choice, one of the two: I can watch TV or I can read a book. Well, my commitment is to read the first paragraph.
David Laroche: I love that.
Jim Cathcart: One paragraph because I could do that while the TV is on or I might turn the TV off. “This is interesting! Let me turn it down.” So now you’re into it.
David Laroche: It is a great advice. You are giving me a great answer because I believe so much in the baby steps because I was shy and I changed in doing just small steps. It’s awesome what you are talking about.
Jim Cathcart: Thank you.
David Laroche: Sometimes I do not have the commitment to take the action, but I just understand why because I would like to read 40 pages and I’m in a bad mood and I would like to do something else. So I am listening to my excuses and I don’t read the book.
Jim Cathcart: Yes. When I was working at that government agency, I wanted to read the Bible and I knew I couldn’t get myself to sit down every day and read the Bible, so I committed to reading one passage. Now, “The Bible”, that’s one sentence, right? I read the entire Bible cover to cover in three months. Wow! That’s a lot of reading. It would stimulate an awful lot of discussion which stimulates a lot of reflection on what you believe, why you believe it, whether you think that’s true or whether it’s a story, and I went through all of it and a million questions came up that reinforced all of the spiritual work like that.
David Laroche: Great! I love that. I have a short question for you, so short answer and I will let Julie ask you two things. What is your favorite book?
Jim Cathcart: My favorite book?
David Laroche: Maybe the first one?
Jim Cathcart: Definitely one of mine, no. Well, my favorite book of the dozen I’ve written is my book “The Acorn Principle”, because “The Acorn Principle”, the acorn is the seed of an oak tree and the principle of that book is that each of us has within us a certain genetic code or a certain DNA and our seed is designed to be a certain type of tree. It can't be another type of tree, it can only be that type of tree, but whether it’s a little, tiny, ugly one or a huge, magnificent one that has generations and forests of offspring, depends on what we do. So know yourself, discover the seed that makes you you and “The Acorn Principle” is a book that is a self-guided tour of you, that teaches you what makes you who you are and how to understand that on many, many levels.
As far as other people’s books, I’ve read hundreds, literally, hundreds and hundreds of books and I know most of today’s leading authors in the field of self-development and success—I really know them well—and so, when they’re writing new books, they send their new book to me for review in draft version and I get to read it before the rest of the world reads it and I will write a testimonial or an endorsement of some sort in many cases. So I’ve read so many books, but there’s one in particular I’d like to recommend. “From the Past” and that’s from Og Mandino, the greatest salesman in the world.
David Laroche: Yes, I love this book.
Jim Cathcart: Og was a friend of mine. He was a wonderful man. I had the privilege to know him. And that book truly impacted my life and it impacted his life in a big way. I talked to him about it one time.
A more contemporary book that’s of a similar nature but more playful is “Live a Thousand Years” by Giovanni Lavera. You have to look it up on the web, but it’s a wonderful story. You can read it to children and they get value from it. You can read it by yourself and you’ll enjoy it. It’s like watching a Disney movie but it’s absolutely filled to the brim with life lessons and fundamental principles that make life worth. So “Live a Thousand Years” by Giovanni Lavera.
David Laroche: What is your favorite audiobook?
Jim Cathcart: Audiobook? “The Strangest Secret” by Earl Nightingale.
David Laroche: What is your favorite quote?
Jim Cathcart: Favorite quote? It’s a Biblical passage and is John 10:10. It says, “I have come that they would have life and have it more abundantly.” And that’s what I think my job is. Since I chose this field, what I should do is allow the people through learning what I can bring, to live more full, to live more abundant because I don’t want people saying, “You’re a wonderful speaker.” I want people say, “Wow! I can do that!” Big difference.
David Laroche: Yes, I think so. What is your favorite commitment to yourself?
Jim Cathcart: Favorite commitment to myself? That’s an interesting question. I’m not sure how to articulate it. Every day I spend time in reflection, thinking. Every day I eat or go to breakfast alone or I have some quiet time where I sit and think about what matters in my life and what I’m trying to do with my life. I’m in the prayerful attitude—I’m not very religious but I’m spiritual, I believe in God—and if there is a God, then that means you and I are intentional, we’re not biological accidents. We’re not just a random mix of possibilities that just occurred. “Oh gosh! Look, there’s David Laroche, what a surprise!” No.
I mean, look at how magnificent you are, look at each of us and think of what a miracle we are. Wow! That couldn’t have been an accident—that’s what everybody say. Well, excuse me, everybody’s got a place in this world, everybody. And those that don’t live their life fully deny the rest of us the benefits they could’ve brought to the world. So if I don’t live abundantly, if I live a small, little life that is shy and don’t respect myself because I don’t think that God meant me to have me and I think I was an accident and so I have to get through life without taking up too much air, then I deny the rest of the world all the things I could’ve brought.
And I could’ve gotten up that morning and just going out and smile at ten people. I could’ve found one person that day to say, “Hey, you’re doing a really good job. I don’t know if anyone tells you that but I noticed and you’re doing a good job.” Well, that alone makes the world a better place. I could pick up a piece of trash that somebody else threw down. I could straighten up the picture on the wall—I don’t know! You know, there’s a million ways that a person with no education, no particular skills can make the world a better place. And if they don’t, shame on them for not doing it because we needed that and they deserve what we can bring as well.
David Laroche: Great. And it’s amazing because Julie will ask you a question about that.
Jim Cathcart: Good!
David Laroche: I will let her ask you something then I will come back with my last question.
Jim Cathcart: Fair enough. Thank you.
Jim Cathcart: We’d say it is…
David Laroche: So why they…
Julie: So my second question is about education. How do you think we can improve education?
Jim Cathcart: Oh! We can talk for months about that! Education, as its practiced in America today, I think is outmoded and dysfunctional. Now, that’s a pretty outrageous statement because there are much, much, much value to education today in the United States. There are universities and high schools and elementary schools and middle schools that are doing wonderful things. But they’re the exception, not the norm.
Jim Cathcart: And what I’m criticizing is the norm. I serve on the advisory board, the board of counselors for the California Lutheran University School of Management, so I’m involved in education in that way, and I am a business educator in my business. But what I’m talking about is public education as we know it today.
Most of it is designed around the model where the instructor is the expert and the audience is not and the instructor says the truth and the audience soaks it up and goes on. I think first of we need to change our thinking and start with the question “Why?” Education is not about learning how, it’s about learning why so that you can discover how.
If we say, “Why should we have education at all?”
My answer would be, “So that people’s lives would be better. So the world would be a better place. So people would be nicer to each other. So fewer people would have financial problems, fewer people would have health problems, fewer people would have interpersonal problems.”
“Well, then what should we teach?”
“Interpersonal skills, money management, life management, health and wellness, on an on.”
First teach them the life skills, first, and make sure that they can tie a knot, they can valid a checkbook, they can earn a dollar, they can do a job, they can repair a broken item. Teach those skills first and then teach the principles that make all of those works and then get into the loftier, more sophisticated things as you progress. But the trouble is all they’re teaching today they seem so ultra concerned about political correctness, “Oh, we don’t want to offend anybody.” Why not? Life occasionally is offensive. Teach the truth. Let the chips fall where they may. Just help me make my life worth, that’s all I ask of education. That just gets so many implications, it’s not that simple.
Julie: Thank you very much.
Jim Cathcart: You’re welcome. Thank you.
Julie: It’s OK for another question?
David Laroche: Just my last question.
Jim Cathcart: OK.
David Laroche: [French part? – 00:59:09]. Just one thing. [Maybe that’s true – 00:59:12]. [French part – 00:59:14]
It’s OK. So yes, I have a last question. I have to explain just before why I do that. My goal is to touch people in a way that they haven’t been touched before maybe. My question will be how to become an average person, unhappy person and how to become a loser? And the goal is to build thirty videos to touch people in what they do now. Do you understand where—
Jim Cathcart: Yes, practical actions. How to become a positive person, how to become a loser?
David Laroche: Yes.
Jim Cathcart: OK.
David Laroche: Because they will listen and go, “Oh, I do that and I don’t want to become a loser. So I don’t have to do that.” Are you ready?
Jim Cathcart: Yes.
David Laroche: Jim, I have a very important question for you. It is a serious question so I ask you to be serious.
Jim Cathcart: All right. I will.
David Laroche: Do you have some tips, advices, exercises to become a loser, to become unhappy and to become an average person in this life?
Jim Cathcart: Yes. If you want to be a loser cultivate the belief that it’s all about you. Be selfish; ignore the needs of other people. If you do that, I guarantee you other people will go away from you. No one will think you’re important, no one will think you’re impressive, no one will treat you with respect. You will lose.
Also, don’t develop self-discipline. If you don’t take the time to acquire the discipline to make yourself do what needs to be done when it needs to be done, then what will happen is you’ll become an unreliable person, other people won't invest in you, other people won't hire you, other people won't recommend you and other people won't trust you. And if they don’t, then your life will stink. So that’s how you become a loser.
David Laroche: Great! Yes, thank you very much!
Jim Cathcart: You’re welcome.
David Laroche: [01:01:54] without me?
Jim Cathcart: Sure. Should I unplug or…?
David Laroche: Yes, it’s OK. No, keep it.
Jim Cathcart: Keep it? OK.
David Laroche: Yes. It is a short video and the question will be according to you what could be the key factors of success and it will be a video alone, not this interview, to touch people with a very short video. You have two minutes, OK?
Jim Cathcart: Two minutes, OK.
David Laroche: Between one and two minutes on what could be the key factors of success.
Jim Cathcart: OK.
David Laroche: Are you ready?
Jim Cathcart: Yes.
David Laroche: So you look here.
So Jim, what could be the key factors of success?
Jim Cathcart: The key factors of success are integrity, meaning you need to be the same person all the time. In other words, if someone hears you give a speech on the stage and someone meets you afterwards in a non-business setting they should get the same impression as to who you are. You should be the same person all the time and be the best person that you’re capable of being. So don’t have a public persona and a private persona. Be yourself. Tell the truth. And if you do that, you never have to remember what you told somebody because there’s no lies that you have to cover up for, no façade that you have to maintain. You get to relax and be yourself all the time. So integrity is one.
Another key factor of success is discipline. And discipline is acquired one grain of sand at a time, one little act at a time, one little decision, one little choice at a time. And it all starts with cracking the egg, breaking the momentum toward the negative so that you can go in the opposite direction toward the positive.
For example, if you’re in a bad mood, you’re feeling angry, you don’t feel like being courteous or nice, force yourself to do something that leads you in the other direction, force yourself to smile. You say, “Well, what if you don’t mean the smile?” Well, an insincere smile is better than a sincere frown. So just force yourself to begin the process of going the opposite direction.
Another key to success is clarity of focus. You need to know where you’re going. Write down your goals, your dreams, your desires and your wishes. You don’t have to say, for example write down, “I want to spend a week of all expenses paid at Disneyland,”—although you can do that—but think about your life and how you want it to go and then ask yourself, “What kind of friends do I want to have? What kind of lifestyle do I want to live? What sort of experiences do I want to have on my list of life experiences as I reflect back over the years? What sort of health and fitness do I want? What sort of reputation and how do I want to be known by other people? When I’m not around, how do I want other people to be speaking about me?” Write down the words you want them to say so that you can deserve that reputation.
You see, there’s what I call “a causation chain of items”. If you adopt a positive mindset, that will lead you to positive actions. The positive actions over time will become positive habits. Those habits will develop for you a reputation of being a positive person. That reputation will open doors to relationships that can really be helpful to you and those relationships can help you succeed. So it goes from mindset to actions to habits to reputation to relationships to success. Or you can look at the future success you want and that will tell you what relationships you will need, which will tell you what reputation you should deserve, which will tell you what habits you should cultivate, what actions would lead to those habits and what mindset you need to sustain day to day. Integrity.
David Laroche: Great! That was awesome. I would love to have a testimonial from you. Do you prefer I ask you some questions or I can let you say some things about me?
Jim Cathcart: That’s OK.
David Laroche: My name is David. It’s David Laroche.
Jim Cathcart: Laroche.
David Laroche: In French you would say Laroche, but you can pronounce it—
Jim Cathcart: That means “a rock”?
David Laroche: Yes. It means a rock.
Jim Cathcart: I was born in Little Rock, [01:06:41], Arkansas.
David Laroche: You can say, “The rock”. My name is David Laroche.
Jim Cathcart: OK.
David Laroche: Are you ready?
Jim Cathcart: Yes.
David Laroche: It’s OK. Perfect. You can start.
Jim Cathcart: Hi, I’m Jim Cathcart. I’m sitting here in a vineyard at the Stonehouse in West Lake Village, California, and I just had the opportunity to get to know David Laroche. David contacted me recently and we arranged to have an extended interview and I went to his website and I watched the video of him speaking before a group, I read the material there and then I met him in person and I had a chance to do some rather deep discussion of some pretty serious issues about what makes a life successful and meaningful and what causes it not to be. And I’m impressed.
David is the type of person that I would like to have on my team. He’s someone who brings not only a wonderful curiosity to what he does, but he also brings an energy of support, encouragement and positive…