David Laroche : So, hello achiever. Today I am with a new amazing guy. I am near Chicago with Vic Conant. He’s the chairman of the Nightingale Conant company. He’s with me to answer my question. We’ll discover what he learned from all the amazing authors inside the Nightingale Conant. He’s with me so hello, Vic.
Vic Conant : Hi, David.
David Laroche : How are you today?
Vic Conant : Great.
David Laroche : I would love to know who are you and what is Nightingale Conant?
– All right. I had the great fortune of growing up in a family that was in effect really one of the founders of the modern self-improvement industry. My dad, Lloyd Conant, and his partner, Earl Nightingale were both, they became partners when Earl produced a recording called The Strangest Secret. Earl was a great radio personality here in Chicago, Illinois. And he had a talk radio program but his real love was self-improvement. And he eventually, instead of writing something down in a book, he created an audio message called The Strangest Secret. And my dad was a marketing personality and Earl was looking for a way to get the message out. And so my dad started marketing his recording. It ended up selling a million of them over a period of time and it became really one of the beginnings of the whole audio publishing industry at the time. At the time, there was no… Motivation was not a word. There was no self improvement sections in the book stores. It was all kind of a brand new concept back then.
David Laroche : It’s amazing because Napoleon Hill say that every success starts with someone who has ideas and someone sells the ideas and the case with your father and Earl Nightingale.
Vic Conant : And so I had the great opportunity to just…hanging around. I was just a 10 year old when they met. And so they would bring Napoleon Hill over to the house and I got a chance to meet him. So I had a chance to, especially with Earl Nightingale, I had a chance to almost on a daily basis, my dad would bring home new programs and new ideas, new recordings that he and Earl produced and he had a speaker in every room in the house including the bathroom. So whenever he turned on Earl Nightingale, you listened no matter where you were, what you were doing. So, I had that lucky chance to be raised really around these ideas and kind of subliminally to learn what was going on.
David Laroche : It’s great. And I would love to know what did you learn from all these amazing people including your dad and Earl and all the authors?
Vic Conant : It’s hard to say. There were so many… Earl Nightingale was kind of my first mentor. And then very soon we brought out Denis Waitley who did the Psychology of Winning. Fabulous guy. We saw many millions of those programs. That was 1978, by then I was a young man and I had just joined the company. I think attitude is probably the number one, it’s the number one key that Earl Nightingale brings out. The power of the mind is something that almost every author talks about it and controlling our thinking. Every great personality that I have met has had that I’d say trait of knowing or feeling that they were in control of their lives and knowing that they’re not a victim. That they have control of their thoughts and from their thoughts they could control their lives. And so I would say that’s kind of the most universal concept that probably goes, certainly, with Napoleon Hill, whatever the mind of men can conceive and believe he can achieve. Through Earl Nightingale, you become what you’re thinking about and then on to almost every other author.
David Laroche : And I would love to know your point of view because like you said, you were raised in this kind of environment. Do you think this is the difference to learn that, for example at the age of 20 years old by your experience or born with all these keys?
Vic Conant : In fact, this is one of the things that excites me about our business. We’re a publishing business and we’ve published all these hundreds of authors and subject matter that, all life-changing and a very wide variety of subject matter from spirituality to self-improvement. So it’s a very…and all kinds of entrepreneurship and so forth. And what occurred to me is I was so fortunate, unbelievably fortunate to be raised among all these ideas, these personalities and be exposed to it. Today, everybody has that opportunity. Everybody virtually in the world can have that same chance to be exposed to all these great personalities, all these great ideas and yet still most people are not exposed to it. And most people we were talking about kids, they’re not exposed to these ideas still at a very young age and so that’s the challenge we have, the challenge you have in your business is how to get these ideas out to the widest variety of people because you get exposed to these ideas and it’ll definitely change your life.
David Laroche : Did you have some struggles like that? For example, I know what I have to do but I don’t find the way.
Vic Conant : It was funny because because I was raised in the family. My dad was, it wasn’t like he was consciously saying, “Listen to this or do these things.” It was more like, he was so invested in trying to build the business and created this large business. He was concentrating on that and I was kind of like a fish in a fish bowl. I’m swimming along and it’s just the life I had. So I didn’t find any extra pressure. I think it was more I think just… People would say, “You sure smile a lot. You sure seem to be very optimistic. You seem to be very positive.” And I didn’t really attribute it to anything because that’s just the way I was born. But looking back, I realize how fortunate I was to have been exposed to these great ideas.
David Laroche : Great. And you said that you didn’t feel external pressure, right? But did you had an internal pressure, “My father is doing great things. He’s meeting amazing people. I have the keys and I have to do amazing things.” Do you understand? A kind of internal pressure because I have to integrate that quickly?
Vic Conant : Yeah. Again, my dad was great in that he really never put any pressure on me and I was very fortunate. I went off without really a lot of planning to run the company. I went off and did my own thing in some sales organizations. But I guess in the back of my mind, my dad and I must have known that I would rejoin the company. One time he became ill with prostate cancer and first thing he did was call me and said, “I think it’s time for you to come back to the company.” And I knew at that time that I should come back and that was 1978. So I came back and we had about eight years where we worked together before he passed away. And those were great times and a great educational experience for me. And then I was very fortunate I think to be in a position to take the company over and to try to continue his legacy, I guess and to try to continue the same trend of publishing the great authors.
David Laroche : Okay, great. I would love to know your point of view about children and youth. Do you think if we help children to be raised with those keys, about how to communicate, how to manage your emotion, how to be successful, according to you if you’re born in this kind of environment, is it automatic for you after that?
Vic Conant : It’s hard to say. I think it would have a profound influence. I think in actuality, the fact that our company and other publishing companies came out in the 1960s and 70s had a significant impact personally on the whole entrepreneurship, the whole attitude of the United States and other countries. But especially here, it was where it was concentrated. I have no evidence but we sold millions of programs to millions of individuals during that period. But it was always older people, usually in their 30s before they realized they needed this material. And so if there was a way to get this material down into the schools on a regulated basis because they don’t teach this. Because the teachers don’t know it. Most people are very average individuals, teachers are average so we end up being average but if we could expose this material which is very transformative, a life-changing material at a very young age, I think it would have a profound influence on society.
David Laroche : Great. I love that. I would love to let you tell what is The Strangest Secret?
– Well, we were saying earlier, you become what you think about is the strangest secret. And back then especially, it was not known back when he created that in 1956 and was very influenced by Napoleon Hill and the whole, “you become what you think about” mindset. But the power of the mind was just not and the power of your ability to change your thinking to change your own life, was not something that was readily known in society. And it’s much more accepted today. But still, most people probably feel that they are victims of whatever is happening to them, their parents or their… “this happened to me, ” or “I went to the wrong school,” or whatever. But if they could conceptualize that you become what you think of, your thoughts cause you to become who you’re going to be in the future. You’d want to control your thoughts.
David Laroche : And do you know why? Do you have some explanations now why your thoughts, you become what you think about?
Vic Conant : We are basically a mind on top of a body. The body just sits there waiting for the mind to tell it what to do. So it’s just going to do whatever we’re thinking about, whatever you’re conceptualizing, the body just does it. So the more you can control the way you’re thinking, and I look at all of our programs as ways to elevate a person’s thought process, to elevate the level of their thinking. An average person’s going to think average thoughts and they’re limited. It’s really by releasing the limitations of your thinking through bringing in great ideas and great thoughts by great thinkers around the world, you’re all of a sudden, you see the possibility of transforming your life, of thinking higher.
David Laroche : You start to have new ideas and new things we can do, right?
Vic Conant : Right. And if you raise your thinking, it allows you to see the next level and where else you can go in your life. I mean, it just keeps compounding.
David Laroche : And do you have stories a person wrote or from someone else about an example for people who are following us about The Strangest Secret?
Vic Conant : Well, I’ve got a favorite story. It’s a Wayne Dyer story. Wayne Dyer is a fabulous, wonderful friend and author and we’ve produced many programs with him. And over the years, he related to me and other people in his programs that he ran 10 miles a day, every day, for 20 years without missing a day. And knowing Wayne, I believe it. And whenever I was with him, he would run… You knew that he was going to set aside the time to run those 10 miles every day for that period of time. And what that taught me was something about life priorities and also commitment. He committed at such a high level that he was going to do that running, that no matter what happened in his day, the first thing he thought about was, “Okay, how do I slot that into my 10 miles? I’m still going to run my 10 miles sometime today?” So no matter what happened to him… He said, if he had a cold, he never thought of it as a cold, he just said it’s just something in my nose, that’s just about it. But nothing stopped him for 20 years. What occurred to me is that’s a level of priority that most people just never have. It’s putting that at the absolute top of your priority list. And everything else comes underneath it. And so it’s just good, I think, for all of us to be aware of what are our life priorities. And that’s our level of thinking and what is our level of thinking about our weight or about our exercise, like Wayne. Or about our relationships or if we’re going to start a business. What is our commitment level? What is our level of thought about? Is it, “I’m going to give it a good chance, ” or is it, “I’m in it for 100% every day, I’m going to get up and do this, ” whatever it is that’s at the highest level of my priorities.
David Laroche : A high level of commitment.
Vic Conant : Yes, yes.
David Laroche : It’s amazing. Do you know why he was doing that?
Vic Conant : You know, I think it was just his personality. That was something… To this day, he doesn’t do it every day, but he exercises everyday but he doesn’t do the 10 miles anymore. But that’s always just been… My brother-in-law, he’s always exercising. That’s just built into him. So different people have different things that they do. To Wayne, that was his thing. But it’d be good each of us should know what it is. Do we just do everything accidentally? In this day it’s this priority, and this day is another priority. Or do we control our thinking, control what we’re setting our priorities, our life priorities. And if you just made out a list of what your life priorities are, what you think they are and if one of them is, “I’m going to lose weight, ” but you’re heavy, obviously that’s not really one of your life priorities. It’s other things are getting on top of that. And if self-improvement is your top priority, you’re not going to be watching television or listening to the radio and so forth.
David Laroche : It’s great. And is it a common point in each speakers you meet?
Vic Conant : Certainly self-discipline… Well, again it’s back to that thinking, back to the mind. I applied the lesson personally in my relationship with my wife. We’ve now been married 46 years. But the first 12 years were not that great. It was like neither of us were totally committed and it wasn’t until around the 12th year that I know personally it was like, “Okay, I got to either not commit or I got to commit.” Either I got to go in one direction or I got to commit completely. And it was at that point when I started doing, made that mental commitment that I noticed she also changed and we both started maybe seeing each other in a different light with a higher commitment. And so it made a big difference in my life. I say, “The 1% between 99 and 100% in a commitment is a huge difference.”
David Laroche : I love that, very inspiring. Thank you very much. I would love to know, according to you, what are the common points of the top 2%?
Vic Conant : That’s a hard one because we just created a program called the Top 2%. And it’s a huge product. The whole idea was to kind of produce the ultimate product, to produce a product that would help a person join the top 2%. And I think there’s like 20 different ideas in there, but the idea was in each point we were going to go to our various authors, our hundreds of authors and try to get from them the best of their ideas for goal-setting or for time-management or for self-discipline or controlling the mind and the negotiating and communications and relationships. The various points for that are essential if you’re going to take yourself up to a higher level in your thinking and to move up in your life. So there’s a lot of different segments and we’ve tried to take the very best from the various programs.
David Laroche : According to you, what are the main points of the top 2% points?
Vic Conant : I think we’ve already discussed a lot of the main ones in that the thought process of the mind, the whole area of commitment I think is huge. The whole area of time management, being in control of your time. So many people just in that one point, so many people… We’re all so busy today and yet if you really dissect people’s time, usually there’s a lot of wasted time in the day. There’s wasted time when you’re traveling, there’s wasted time when you’re working out. There’s wasted time when you’re watching television or listening to the radio. There’s a lot of time, when you really get down to it, that people can use more effective in their lives and just being conscious of the fact that you’re in charge of your time and that you can use… I’m a big believer in audio publishing, that’s been a big thing. We’re getting more and more into video now with the internet and so forth. But audio is so powerful to me because it allows you to educate yourself while you’re doing other things. We say when your hands are busy but your mind is not, like when you’re driving and when you’re working out or working around the house, is a perfect opportunity to use your time more effectively to educate yourself.
David Laroche : That’s great.
Vic Conant : It’s interesting, some people, they talk about how they use their drive time to listen to books, but it’s novels. And whenever I think of somebody listening to a novel I always think, “Wow, if they just knew to put in a life-changing program instead, they could move themselves in a different direction in their lives so easily that they’re just not aware of that possibility, ” or they’re just not interested. Obviously, everybody is free to not be interested in your own self-improvement or your own self-growth.
David Laroche : Yeah, and it is my next question because I was a little bit extreme because at the age of 18 I started to listen exclusively audio programs everywhere, every time and some people don’t want to listen only that. So, according to you, how do you manage between novels, music, self improvement, audio programs?
Vic Conant : I think it’s a personal choice in everybody’s life. My personal choice in my life has been to try to learn as much as I can on a regular basis and so I would tend to read either self-improvement or a spiritual type of a product or book and also listen to something that is going to inspire me. And I find that if I watch a television program, it’s kind of like being in an illusion. We leave our reality and go into somebody else’s illusion and we live their life. We go into Downton Abbey or whatever it is, that we go into their illusion and we lose our own life in a way. And if we read a novel, you’re really going into somebody else’s illusion. And instead of living your own life, instead of applying ideas to your own life. And so it’s just a decision. If the decision is I want to use this time to leave my life and live somebody else’s, that’s fine and I do that plenty. I mean, I love movies and I love books but I always try to be conscious of the fact that…
David Laroche : What you are doing, too.
Vic Conant : Again, am I in control? How much am I in control of my thinking, of my life? And how am I controlling my… Am I letting just circumstances control my life, or am I taking control of my own life?
David Laroche : And I would love to know, so do you think it is the same impact between books and audio books? And audio programs?
Vic Conant : I mean, they’re both great. I love reading and some people are better readers, some people are speed-readers and they’re fast and they enjoy it and they can get a lot out of it. Some people, it’s a chore to read. And I think those people for sure tend to be more audio-oriented and what I love about audio is that it’s so easy to replay. If I want… Very seldom do I read a book and re-read it again, even the best book I don’t re-read as many times. But a good audio program I’ll listen to at least twice if not more. So it allows you, I think, to… There was somebody way back in the 60s or 70s who did an experiment and if you listen to something six times, you basically have memorized it. It’s very unlikely that you’re going to read something six times but that you do have more likelihood, I would say.
David Laroche : And I would like to also know, because I’m listening a lot of audios but is it important, according to you, to be concentrated?
Vic Conant : I think that’s a great reason to re-listen. We used to have an example of record, record players you place the needle down and it plays the record. If you pick the needle up it stops. When your mind starts thinking about something else, it’s basically picking up the needle and you’re going to miss the next thing that’s said on the record, let’s say or on the CD or whatever you’re listening to. So that’s a good reason and it’s why so many people say that the second time they listen to something, they get totally different ideas out of it than the first time. So, listening to something over and over is… Now, if you have the time and ability to concentrate on something, but even then, your mind is going to get on this one idea and miss the next idea. It’s going to be thinking about this idea and miss the next one he’s talking about. So, that’s why I like the idea of listening multiple times to programs. I have people who have told me that they listen to one of our programs, Lead the Field in particular.
David Laroche : Yeah, I love Lead the Field.
Vic Conant : He listens to it every year, kind of a new year, he just listens to it, re-listens to it. And every time… If you’re reading for example a profound book, I find that the next time you read that chapter, it’s like peeling an onion. You’re going to get deeper into the subject. You’re going to read something or hear something that you didn’t hear before because your mind is in a different place. Your experience is in a different place.
David Laroche : You see what you are ready to see.
Vic Conant : Right, you’re right. Yes.
David Laroche : Great. I don’t know if you have the answer, but a lot of people are wondering about how to improve your luck, do you know?
Vic Conant : I would say that the key is to not think that there’s any luck at all. Again, you’re in control of your life. If you think there’s any luck, there’s a chance that you’re going to wait for luck to happen to you. You have to be making it happen. You have to be out there every day and not… The people that go to buy a lotto ticket, they’re placing their hope in something else instead of taking control of their own life and living their life. And so if you want more luck, you have to control your fate and your life and luck will come to you.
David Laroche : Let’s consider that luck is a skill, do you see some key factor of luck?
Vic Conant : Power of the mind. We have a new program we just brought out called Awaken the Healer in You by a guy named Mark Earlix. And I’ve never really thought of myself as a healer. I’ve never really thought that’s possible other than I’m never sick personally. But I never think about me being a healer of somebody else. But this is a gentleman who has his whole life been able to, since he’s a young man, found that he has a skill in healing other people. And so in the process of listening to this program, I realized “I got to raise the level of my thinking about the power of my mind. I’ve got to take control of my… ” or raise the level of what my mind is capable of doing in the area of health, in the area of healing other people. It’s just using… So I think the same thing goes back to luck, it’s like if there’s any luck, I’m in control of that luck. If anything is going to happen, it’s got to be to me. You’ve got to be…
David Laroche : Conditioning your mind.
Vic Conant : Yes. And when you look at successful people, that’s the way they think, it’s just amazing when you talk to someone. I’m sure with all the interviews you’ve done, you realize this, they are in control of their thinking. They’re in control of their life. If there’s something happening, they know it’s going to work in their direction and so it’s not like they’re… I mean, if it’s possibly to create, if your mind can create, they’re creating positively. And there’s a lot of evidence that the mind does create a reality so might as well be creating luck.
David Laroche : Yeah. I think so. Thank you for this answer. What are the common point of the best speakers and authors?
Vic Conant : Brian Tracy is a great example. He’s the hardest working guy there is. He’s a speed-reader and he’s always studying something. He’s always learning the next thing. If you ask him about management, he’ll tell you 10 books that he’s read on management. If you ask him about weight loss, he’ll tell you 10 books. He has made himself an expert and that’s what we all have to do. In areas that you want to exceed at, you have to make that commitment to be the absolute best. And then there’s adding your own personality and your own unique way of making it fun for people to watch and to listen to, to make it enjoyable. David Bach did a program called the Latte Factor on how to get out of debt and earn money more effectively and invest money more effectively. If you cut out drinking a latte every day, it would save you $5 a week times 50 weeks a year and that alone could change a person’s financial situation. But he came up with the Latte Factor… he had already produced other books that hadn’t sold very well. But when he came up with that one statement, the Latte Factor, he got on Oprah, he got on television programs.
David Laroche : Why, according to you? – Because it was a unique way for people to grasp instantly his point. Instead of just saying, “Save five dollars a week,” everybody would yawn and go off and do their own thing. But by adding that little extra story, extra content, a way of a trigger to remember, he was able to make it interesting for people and also easy for television people to grasp, easy for interviewers to grasp, you know, “let’s get him on.” – One simple concept?
Vic Conant : Yes.
David Laroche : There are a lot of amazing projects, right? Audio books, books and like you said, if I want to build the next best seller audio books or books or video programs do I have to simplify the things and find only one thing? – I could go back to Earl Nightingale who was such a genius. And he had an expertise and I’m not sure if he thought it up or just happened but after he did the Lead the Field program which was a first multi-record back then, then it came in cassettes and CDs but it was 12 messages and each message was very succinct, each message was one idea and then let’s apply this for the next 30 days and it was a very simple technique on time management. It was a very simple technique on goal setting so much so that you could just say that it was easy for me to apply in my life for 30 days. For attitude, his exercise was treat everybody that you meet for the next 30 days as if they’re the most important person in the world. And do that for 30 days and you’ll do it for the rest of your life. So, he gave you one tip, he told you all about the importance of attitude but then he left you with one exercise to do for 30 days and he did that on each of his programs and each of his message. And I think it was one of the things that made him very successful and very unique as a personality. And his radio program, he did a five minute radio program which was really three minutes and a couple minutes of commercials. And every day he’d come out with a three minute message. So it was very succinct. He would tell you about a book and I would feel like I read the book. He would come in with one great idea from that book that I could take away from and it was always… So, I think something…
David Laroche : Is it easy to understand? Easy to use and unique in the way you explain the thing?
Vic Conant : And at the end of the period of time, you’re going to have results of some kind and feel good about it.
David Laroche : Great. I would love to know how do you choose new authors or new programs for the next year of Nightingale Conant?
Vic Conant : Our objective has always been to try to find the absolute best author for a subject matter. For example, Howard Berg is the Guinness Book of World Record in speed reading. So he’s the guy that’s the author of our speed reading product. So we try to find in whatever area we’re looking for, try to find the best author. But then, we’re always trying to figure out what’s hot, what’s interesting, what are our customers saying. We do a lot of surveys to our customers and we’ll come up with 12 concepts about how to change your habits or whatever it is, then we send it out to our costumers and then they’ll rate what they like and what they don’t like. And that allows us to get a feeling that there’s somebody interested in whatever idea that we’re about to come out with. And then we’re always looking at the best selling books and the magazines and what’s the hot topics. And obviously entrepreneurship is very big but still wealth building is…
David Laroche : And what is the main topic of Nightingale Conant? The topic that sells the most?
Vic Conant : It varies from month to month. It’s kind of like whatever we bring out that month and sometimes we’re good at it and sometimes we’re not. But sometimes spirituality, programs on spirituality do really well and sometimes it’ll kind of fade or maybe we fade. Maybe we’re not doing a good job of promoting it. It always gets back to marketing, how good we are at exposing our products to people. But we’re always trying to find… I remember, it used to worry me. We’ve produced 100 programs and now it’s hundreds of programs. It’s like, “We’re just not going to be able to find another program that’s good.” And then somebody walks in the next day and has this great idea about how to say the same thing, not the same thing but how to approach time management in a different way, or how to approach goal-setting or whatever it is, relationships or spirituality in a different way and it’s like, “Oh, right.” Or, how to become a healer. It’s like, “I didn’t know that.”
David Laroche : A new question or a new topic or a new way to explain this topic.
Vic Conant : Right. The great thing about our programs is I get to listen to somebody who’s spent their whole life coming up with this idea and I get to just download it and it upgrades my software.
David Laroche : Like Matrix.
Vic Conant : Yeah, right. It’s a bit of an art and it’s a bit of a gamble at the same time. You’re guessing in a way and trying to do the best you can.
David Laroche : And you are talking about the next year and your next goal. How will you achieve the next goal you have for Nightingale Conant?
Vic Conant : It’s overly simplistic. We’ve had a great success in just trying to be the best publisher, trying to be the best publisher in a very broad range of products but we’ve been mostly audio and now we’re shifting to video. That’s a new thing for us to learn how to do and do effectively. And the internet, we were very dominant in mail order. We mailed millions of pieces of mail every month to our customers and acquiring it. Now, we’re learning about the internet and becoming experts in that. And we used to be in records, then it was cassettes and then it was CDs and now it’s downloads. Publishing is a constant refinement in order to stay on top of what we’re doing and try to offer the best service we can to our customers and try to get the change, bring out programs that will actually have an impact in somebody’s life and positively change it. Our goal hasn’t changed but…
David Laroche : The way to–
Vic Conant : The way to do it is constantly evolving. And we haven’t done a good job of reaching kids. We haven’t done a good job of translating our products into multiple languages. We’ve been very United States-centric, or English-centric basically. So that’s a whole…
David Laroche : If you do something in France, I will enjoy to promote what you do, what you are doing.
Vic Conant : Good. We’ll probably ask you to do it, you know.
David Laroche : Why not? Why not? My last question is, do you have some life lessons you would like to share to youths?
Vic Conant : I’m 66, there’s different levels of thought I think you do at different times. But I don’t know about to the youth, but my thought process right now is understanding the oneness between all of us and to comprehend the unity of all people. So when it comes to producing products and seeing basically the love that you have for your customers is going to translate to that person and your ability to serve that person. So I see it as the more I learn, the more I realize that oneness and love and forgiveness are the key to individual lives and relationships and sales and marketing as well. It’s all grouped into one nice package. – Great. Thank you very much.