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July 5, 2022

The Billion Dollar Episode: Designing Your Life Around Your Passions w/ Jeff Hoffman - Founder of Priceline.com

The Billion Dollar Episode: Designing Your Life Around Your Passions w/ Jeff Hoffman - Founder of Priceline.com

Today's guest will give you economic, emotional, and wealth building wisdom that others have paid 6-7 figures and decades of time for.

Jeff Hoffman is an award-winning global entrepreneur, proven CEO, worldwide motivational speaker, bestselling author, Hollywood film producer, a producer of a Grammy Award winning jazz album, and executive producer of an Emmy Award winning television show.

In his career, he has been the founder of multiple startups, he has been the CEO of both public and private companies, and he has served as a senior executive in many capacities. Jeff has been part of a number of well-known successful startups, including Priceline.com/Booking.com, uBid.com and more.

Learn how to leave corporate america, hit financial freedom, and design your dream life through our FREE Action Academy EBOOK:  "From W2 to World Travel"
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Transcript
. jeff:

Mr.

brian:

Hoffman, Fox news analyst. How are you buddy?

jeff:

I am good. How are you today?

brian:

I'm doing well. We were just talking a little bit off, off mic off camera about your appearance on Fox previous to this interview, you just hopped off of Fox and you hopped onto here. So talk a little bit about what the heck's going on with the travel and the pilot shortage here going into this 4th of July weekend.

jeff:

Sure. So I had to do the national travel report. Because happens be horrible. The airlines are already telling people if you could reschedule your trip, you can't exactly reschedule July 4th, but they're literally telling people if you can go somewhere a different weekend, don't go this weekend. There's a shortage of pilots. There's a shortage of flight at attendants or ramp workers. The towers, air, traffic control towers, FAAS reported there short. So they're predicting thousands of flight delays and cancellations for this weekend. It's just gonna be a nightmare for a lot of people.

brian:

Ooh. So to answer your question, you just ask me what I'm about to do. I'm about to go travel, from this day that we're recording I'm one week away. So next Wednesday. Me and my girlfriend get on a one way flight and we are flying to Greece for a month and then bouncing around from there. So the plan is Europe three months Southeast Asia for three months and then Brazil. So we're essentially that's amazing. Yeah. So hopefully I'm not one of your statistics, man. How did you pick,

jeff:

uh, I'll tell you what here is what I actually just reported on the national news.

Early in the morning before 8:

00 AM.

Those flights get out and after 7:

00 PM. So people that travel early in the morning or later at night are doing fine. Okay. So try to take a flight that's before eight in the morning or after seven in the evening, because they're not canceling those, they're getting the first flights out, but then all their staff, it gets bad in the middle of the day. So why

brian:

grease? Grease was always on my bucket list. It was something that I've always just wanted to go to. And then we originally, I originally had a plan to go and now I've essentially over a couple of years planned out this Odyssey, and I know this is something near and dear to your heart, and I'm excited to hear about it from you, especially because you founded booking.com, priceline.com. This is your bread and butter. And you founded that because you wanted to build a company around your passion for traveling to 50 countries, right?

jeff:

Yeah. We always tell people that a lot of times people separate. A job is a thing you have to have so that you can pay your bills. And a passion is something you hope you have time to do someday. And the whole reason to become an entrepreneur is why don't you make a job around the thing you're passionate about, travel is my thing. I love traveling and exploring and visiting new cultures and new places, just like the Odyssey trip. You're about to go on at the time I'm a broke 20 year old. How am I gonna, who's gonna pay for that. And so most of the time people, in fact, I got an engineering job, but I'm in my cubicle all day, cuz I gotta pay my bills. So I never have any time to, I can't travel. I have a job. And so that's what led me to say. What if I just created a job where my job actually was to travel? My first business, Brian was the the check-in kiosks and airports . And when I created those, my job literally was to fly to different countries every week to sell them kiosks, to put in their airport. So I got to pay my bills and have a job. But I also got to travel around the world, cuz I had to go install these to things and sell them every. So that's and that's the same way when we were, you know, back@thebeginningofpriceline.com, booking.com. It was people that love, travel, passionate about travel. And what if you just built a travel company? , Mm-hmm , that company today does business in 190 countries. So you know what it takes to do business in 190 countries, people flying to all these countries to set it up. Cool deal. If you like traveling to build a company that you have to travel to build. So

brian:

exactly. And then when you built this, you weren't like at that point where you pedigree, that was your first company, you were in software it right before you began that. Yeah.

jeff:

My training. I'm a a software engineer. Yeah. So you weren't, that's what my degree is in writing

brian:

software. What was the transition like going from that, into doing that job and you realizing that you hated it and that you were actually a marketing guy to saying, oh, okay. Let's build a company around travel.

jeff:

well, Brian, that's actually a funny story because I am a software developer. That's what I got my degree in. And when I had my dream to visit 50 countries and I had a little note card on my bathroom mirror. To remind me of what I wanted to do. But every day I just went to my cubicle, wrote code and went home and I'd see that little card. And I was like, I don't go anywhere. I go up to the fourth floor every day and then I go home. I'm never gonna travel. And it was definitely bothering me that's all I did for a living. So when I left and started that first company the idea was to build a kiosk that you checked yourself in, right? Because back then you had to wait in line to check in. So I figured I could write the. I brought some software people in, but we had no idea how to physically build the hardware, the actual kiosks that you, that people use today. We had to get hardware people, but at a moment where I had brought, I hired some programmers, we're all writing code, right? The code to let you check into your own flight on a kiosk. And all of a sudden I noticed no one else is working and they're all staring at me and I'm like guys, what's going on? And they look at this dude, Robert. And I said, Robert, what is going on? And they're like, yeah, we're gonna need you to step away from the keyboard. And I was like, what? And Robert goes, you're like the worst programmer here. I said, wait a minute, time out. I said, this is my company, I hired you guys. And they said, and somehow you suck at this. And I'm sitting there. My degree is software engineering. My job was a software engineer and. I said, what degree do you guys have? And they said, yeah, Jeff, we all have software degrees. We all have a degree in computer science. And they said, but somehow we're all really good at this and you're not Yeah. And I sat there. I was like, what do you want me to do? And they said, stop writing code. We're all way better at it than you. And I said, and do what? So I didn't know Brian, until I hired rock stars. I didn't know that I was below average. I thought I was doing fine. Then I hired rock stars, which is part of my advice to everybody, hire less people and spend your money on rock stars. Two rock stars will outperform eight average people. People say, I can't afford rock stars. Then don't hire all those other people. Spend the money on 'em. These guys were rock stars. And I realized I never was gonna be able to develop to do things they could do, but they did say to me, I said, what do you guys want me to do? In my own company, they said the product's gonna be done soon. None of us know marketing. Why don't you go figure out what that is? And it turned out when I got into marketing, even though I had a software degree, but I did take, they didn't officially have a minor, but I basically had a minor almost in marketing. Cause I took classes I to biz school while I was an undergrad. But anyway when I got into that, it turned out I was actually good at. In a way that I wasn't good at writing code. So I made my living marketing technology not so much building it myself anymore. What was nice about the technical background for anybody out there that has a tech company? You don't have to be the one building the tech, but it sure helps. But for me to understand when my tech team comes to me and I say, what do we need to do? And they explain it to me. I can pretty much understand it for that reason. Mm-hmm so.

brian:

Sure. And then a story comes to mind from Jeff Bezos, he did an interview where he said that before he was going to college for like quantitative mathematics and he was gonna be a quant until one day he was with a roommate that was working on a problem that he'd been working on for like, Six months for his dissertation. And then he did it in five minutes and he realized, oh, Hey, math. Isn't my thing. So I'm gonna go into the leadership side. I want to keep hitting on this in a little bit but I want to actually take a small pivot here because there's a story around the GoBundance community that keeps circling from what you've done on a keynote stage. And this has actually been from this last one. I'm not sure if you did it in Miami, but before actually about. Your resident frequency story . Sure. I wanna hear about that cause I think it applies.

jeff:

Okay. The question that I didn't know I was answering then, but the question that answer is this thing about balance, right? Because all, everybody that's a business owner and entrepreneur knows this. It's super hard to balance everything. I once had an entrepreneur that came in to gimme his pitch one day. When we were leaving, when he was leaving, he said to me, can I borrow 40 bucks? I said, dude, you outta gas. And he says, no, it's not for gas. I said, what do you need? I'm happy to loan you the money, but what do you need 40 bucks for? He said, I've been working so much lately that my girlfriend said, if I don't buy her dinner by Friday, she's done with me. And I laughed because we've all been there, right? It's hard to balance it all. When you're an entrepreneur taking care of your loved ones, being there for your friends, having time for physical activity, exercise, going to church, whatever moves you. It's hard when you're an entrepreneur to balance things. And so everybody always talks about balance and I didn't have a good framework for thinking of it, but that's where that's where that story is relevant. So I had made this childhood bet with myself. About really quick. Brian, what the story came from was when I was a kid, one of my friends bought a poster of a Ferrari and all of my buddies were over there just like ING and eyeing over this poster. And I went home and asked my mom what's that big deal? And my mom said, what was the poster? I said, it was a Ferrari, I didn't know what a Ferrari was. I grew up in a poor single mom house and she said, oh, the fascination is that it's the unattainable dream. And I was like, oh, I thought Ferrari's were real. My mom's Ferrari's are real. It's just that neither you, nor anyone, you know, will ever have one. And I was like, wait a minute. I thought it's a real car. And my mom's like son seriously. And she said, I want you to have unrealistic expectations. And I was like, mom, does someone drive a Ferrari? She said, yeah, a handful of people relatively speaking on all of Oliver drive that car, but it ain't gonna be you or anyone. You. And so back then, I remember thinking that doesn't make sense. Somebody gets that drive. This isn't even about cars, Brian, I don't even want a Ferrari. What I wanted to understand was why everybody accepts that it's not gonna be you. I didn't wanna be told, no, I didn't want the car. I just wanted to be able to buy it if I wanted it. And so I said, my mom's it's never gonna be you. Or she said, have you ever even seen one of these cars ever? I said, no, I've never seen one in real life. She said, you ain't gonna drive one. And so I went and bought the poster as a kid. And on the back of the poster, I wrote down this list of things I believe were true about the world, even though they were not what people was telling me. And I told myself, then if I am right and I can cross all 17 of these things off the day I do that, I will go buy that car. I don't, I'm not a car guy. I don't even want the. I just want to prove that, that it can be done, right? That you are the master of your destiny. You set your limits and your goals, not everybody else. That was the point. And so the point of the story is I eventually crossed the last thing off and I went and bought this race car. And I took the car out one day. I would go on Sunday drives and it's a race car. So it was like super loud. You'd have this like thick glass cockpit, you know that when you get in the. And I was decided one day it was a Sunday morning, by the way, on 2 85 south of the city. Yeah. driving out if you're what area are you live in?

brian:

I'm in Atlanta, Georgia.

jeff:

Okay. But you in the city? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So I was in Marietta and oh yeah. I left there. Got on 2 85. I was going south. Actually down to visit one of my good friends in Atlanta all those years was Vander Holyfield, the fighter and Vander lives way south. So I got on 2 85 at five o'clock on a Sunday morning and there were no cars. Everyone's asleep. I was driving to Vander's house and I was like, man, there's no one on the road, but me. And so obviously, 2 85 around the perimeter and I was like, I'm gonna push it. It's funny, cuz the car has this switch to make it street legal. And so you can flip the switch that says race mode. And when you put it in racing mode, this little voice says, are you sure? And you have to click. Yes, because then it changes the torque and the suspension and it lets you drive a 200 mile an hour car. So I switch it to race mode and I take off and I'm driving 70 miles an hour, 80 miles an hour, 90 miles. And the car's loud as. A hundred miles an hour, then one 10, then one 20. And what's interesting is when I hit one 30, the car went off and I was like, oh no, I broke the car. Because it just went silent, but it didn't slow down. And I was like, what the hell was going on? So I kept pushing it. And then at one 40, it was loud again. And one 50, I went 1 68. Before I chickened out. But at 130 miles an hour, the car was dead silent. And I was really like, what on earth was that about? So when I got home, I called the Ferrari people and I told 'em a story. I said it 130 miles an hour. Why was my car silent? None of those noises. And they laughed. And they, the Ferrari guy said, because your car hit resonant frequency. And I said, what is resonant frequency? And he said, we designed the car to cruise at 130 miles an hour. That is the optimal speed to drive that car. So it was resonant. Frequency is when something is doing exactly what it was designed to do. And I was like, so that was a, he said that's what the concept of resonant frequency is. So when I hung up the phone, I thought, man, resonant frequency. And I remember thinking to myself, wait, what's mine. What is my resonant frequency? And and that's what I challenged the whole GoBundance community. When I did do tell this story, what were you designed to do? Where were you design? Where are you supposed to be in the world? So your resonant frequency is when you are in the place in the world, you're supposed to be doing, you're supposed to be doing exactly what you're supposed to be doing. And what they said to me was every gear in that car. Every nut and bolt was designed for that moment. And it was in perfect harmony. And I was like, dang, I gotta figure out mine. So I went home and I wrote resident frequency. I write stuff on the wall and stare at it. And I was like, I gotta figure out what would make every gear in my life home. What would be the place where I look around and say, this is exactly where I'm supposed to be. And I'm doing exactly what I'm supposed to be doing in the world. And how do you get to resonant frequency? And that's that sort of balance in the world where you look around and you're like, yeah, this is what I was shooting for. And so I asked myself this question, what are the gears of my engine, for everybody listening to us today, what are the gears of the engine of your life? And so I started writing them down right. Instead of pistons and vows, I wrote down your relationship with your parents is one. If you're in a big fight with your mom, you're not at resident frequency, right? Something's bothering you, your friends, right? Your personal relationship, boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, whatever. Financial health is one. If you're broke and stressed over bills, you're not at resident frequency. Physical health is one. You have a lot of money, but you're sick all the time. You're not enjoying it. Spiritual health, right? Emotional health. I wrote a list on the wall of all the gears of my engine. What are all the things. That if all those gears are doing okay, forget perfection. That's a myth, but oh doing pretty good is good enough. Then I wrote 'em all down and I decided to use stoplight colors, red, yellow, green. And so I've had 'em all on the wall next to me on the white board. And I would look at 'em and I'd ask myself, I do this every Friday and wow. I would say, how am I doing, how did this week end? And for example, financial might be green. I'm fine. I'm not stressed about money, right? But parents that one was red because I had a big fight with my mom. And honestly, I was a jerk and I need to call her and apologize and I haven't yet. And and I haven't seen my friends in too long. I said no to the last two birthday parties and I didn't show up and that one's yellow because they're gonna get pretty annoyed at me. And so I would, every Friday I would look at the, my resident frequency list. And I would make decisions. I gotta go see my mom this weekend. I gotta call my friends and go have dinner with them next week. Or it might be, you're young and newly married and you're about to have a kid and you need a bigger place. You need a home instead of an apartment, I'm just making it up. So I gotta go make money right now. So at different times you achieve that resonant frequency by constantly. It's no different than looking at the dashboard of a car. Or if you think of, the pilot the cockpit of a plane, you're looking at all those gauges and you're attending to the one that's out of line. And when that one's fixed, everything's humming along and eventually you lose a little altitude. So you gotta fix that one. That's how life works, but it's easier to achieve resonant frequency. If you are actually conscious of the gears of your life and asking yourself, are they okay? How am I doing. And so that you look at it and say, look, I know in my heart, I gotta go talk to my mom this week and that's priority one. I'll worry about the other ones next week. So that was the resident frequent story. Woo. And it really helped me look at how I'm managing my life. But until I had that visual from the cockpit of a car, I never had that tool set before.

brian:

Wow. So I will actually, yeah. So Jeff, we completely . forgot to record.. We gotta do that. We gotta run it back, buddy. no, it was I will give Kelly if you're listening to this. Holy crap. So he told the story. We were sitting in San Diego. I just went and did a bucket list trip where I rented a convertible and drove from San Francisco down to PCH down to San Diego. Nice. That's a great try. Yeah. And and my friend Kelly is in go bun is he said, dude, this guy, Jeff has this story. It's called resident frequency. And he told the story to the point where I had goosebumps and I was. One day, I'm gonna talk to Jeff and I'm gonna ask him that story. I'm gonna see if he can top that because the way that goes. So Kelly, shout out to you, bud, because you told that story really well, but Hey, obviously you can't step up on the person that's the originator man, goosebumps once again, and for everyone listening. Crap.

jeff:

Thanks, Kelly. I obviously. Love the GoBundance

brian:

community. That's amazing. So speaking, let's use that as a slight pivot here. So speaking of resident frequency, let's talk about one of the struggles of CEOs, especially early on. You have a quote where it says that CEOs need to stay in their lane. And two, your example, before. You were marketing, you needed to surrender the rest of the business and all the software and it to all the other people, one person is not the best at seven things. You need to find your lane. Can you talk a little bit about that? Because I struggle with that and I know thousands of other people struggle. Yeah.

jeff:

You know what Brian, what's interesting is one of the worst things that happens to leaders is. You start a company and at the beginning, it's only you and maybe a co-founder. So you're wearing seven hats. You do marketing product development, HR you're doing finance, paying the bills and it's going well. So you're like, mom, I'm pretty good at this stuff. And that's the big myth. The question I'm usually answering is because we were blessed enough to have companies that went from little to global. And so people say, how did you build, how did you guys scale these business? And the answer I always have to tell them is real success happened when you let go. When you realize that you were never as smart as you think you are. And in fact, you're actually only as cuz people tell me, actually I wear all those hats. I do all those things today. My business is going great, but the back to owners, the leap from a, and that's great. Congratulations, you have a great business, but that's not the question you're asking me. You're asking me is how do you get to. Next level, right? The big jump. And that's where the, what got you here, won't get you there. The style of thinking, that's what people missed. They're like, man, I'm crushing it. And, but I was still not really at that big level. And that doesn't happen until you can't scale until you can let go. And you can't let go until you surround yourself with people smarter than. And you can't surround yourself with people smarter to you until you admit that every one of us is really only good at one thing, right? Brian, I have never hired an engineer to write code. Who said, by the way, I'll do all the company's taxes, balance the books and write all our marketing copy while I'm engineering. It doesn't happen.

brian:

Not as well that people try to do that with the virtual assistants though. They're like, oh, I wanna hire a virtual assistant and have her in my entire business.

jeff:

lawyers do law, right? Dentists work on your. And so in business, the fact that just cuz you're the founder or the CEO that you think you can do, all these things is just a myth and it's preventing people from growing. And so when I realized I was marketing was the one thing I could do. I didn't really start to grow until I said, I'm gonna hire people smarter than me in every other area. I will probably run the marketing meetings, but I won't run anything else. I will step aside and let people smarter than me do all the things that I'm not good at. Figure out what your lane is. Be honest. I told you, I thought I was . I thought I was a developer. Yeah. Until I hired rock stars and they said, please stop writing code. You're killing us. But when I started doing marketing, That's when I realize I'm actually really good at this. And so if it's a marketing meeting, I'm running it, but if it's operations, customer service finance, I got people smarter than me. And if you were to ask me what's going on in there, I'd say, I don't know, go ask Angela. And they'd be like, dude, you own the company. And I would say yes. And I'm smart enough to know that Angelo's way better at this than me. That's why I hired her. If you have a question, ask her not me. And I had people, a lot of CEOs will be able to relate to this. I had people that said, Jeff, you're the CEO. You own the company. You should know everything that's going on in that company. And I, because a lot of people think that in fact, Brian, once somebody convinced me that early on. Because I was looking at these cash flow statements that my CFO, and he said, you understand all that? I said, just the basics. Not really. He's that's horrible. It's your company. You own it. You better understand everything everyone does. So I went to the bookstore and I bought a book called finance and accounting for non-finance people for Don. And I was like all excited and I went home and I was gonna read this book and teach myself finance as a marketing guy or whatever. And I opened it to page one. And I remember thinking, this is one of the stupidest ideas I've ever had. I actually joked and I told one of my friends, I'm gonna buy a book called home dentistry, and I'm just gonna start pulling my own teeth. And he is you are, I was like, hell no, I'm gonna go to a dentist. so why would, I think I'm suddenly gonna be a finance guy when there's people who do it for a living, I'll just get one of them. And so that realization there's surround yourself with people smarter than you. Figure out the one thing you are good at, go do that and let the other people let go of the other pieces we grew. When I let go, when I said, you guys are smarter than me, you don't need to ask me anything. In fact, if you don't think I'm gonna understand, you don't even have to explain it all. So when I told people, no, as a matter of fact, I do not understand everything that goes on in finance. I'm not a finance major, but I do own the company. I am the CEO and that's okay. But I don't understand. I still go to a dentist and I don't know exactly how they do what they do, because people would tell me, you have to know that you don't, you have to be smart enough to hire people smarter than you and let them do their job. And if you can't trust them, then spend more time finding them. You gotta find rock stars. That takes work. And people were like one time, one last thing, Brian, I was sitting in a room with a bunch of customers and my lawyer came in. He said, are you flying outta town today? I said, after this meeting, he said, then I need you to sign this contract cuz I needed this week. And I, he put it in front of me and I signed it and I looked up, the customers are all like making the O mouth surprise. And I said, And they said, you just sign that. And I said, and they said, Jeff, that wasn't a contract. It was a blank sheet of paper. I said, whatever. So what do you mean? Whatever you signed a blank sheet of paper and I said, sure, it'll be a contract by tomorrow. And they're like, how can you sign a blank sheet of paper? I said, wait I know what's going on here. You're saying that I shouldn't sign a blank sheet of paper for trust reasons. I don't know what he is gonna do with my signature. What's he gonna put all that's based on trust. I said, because instead of distrusting people, why don't you put all your effort into finding people you trust? I said that guy right there. If I was on my deathbed and someone said, who do you want to make these decisions? That's probably the guy I'd call. Wow. I said, I literally trust him with my life. What I did was I invested a ton of time to find the Glen. And if you're asking me, would I sign a blank sheet of paper for that guy any day? Because that's a guy I would want next to me in my death bed. So instead of the default position being you're the boss, you're the owner trust? No. And do it all yourself. Mine's the opposite hire people that you believe in so much that you would sign a blank sheet of paper for them and that would never go wrong. And it never did. These are, I had people that came with me for four different companies. Because they were obvious, they were amazing people and smarter than me.

brian:

So to that point, Jeff on the reverse, you see a lot of horror stories. So I feel like this is what makes your business a shooting star or makes you another case study in a Harvard review, right? Is like the same thing, but in the reverse. People are like, oh yeah, I hired this guy. Thought I could have bet my life savings that I was gonna make it through till 90 years old with this guy. And he completely jacked me at all my money. So a question that I have is when you're talking about hiring rock stars, I wanna hit on this so hard is do you look for a fully developed rockstar? That is technically proficient in whatever field you're specifically trying to fill. Right. And then just pay the money to hire that person. Or do you find the person that has the intangible trustworthiness and the soft stuff that you're like, I can have this guy, I can sign a blank sheet of paper for this guy and then develop that person into the rock star.

jeff:

Okay. That is an absolutely wonderful question. Two parts to that answer. First of all we never hire resume. We hired a culture. Got it. Which means values. Got, we have a, so for everybody listening, if your culture's not written on the wall where you work, even if you are a solo entrepreneur it's, I'm redoing the board behind me, but that was filled with my values and the things I believe in the whiteboard in my office behind me, even though it's not now, cuz we're redoing it. Your values should be written where you see them every day. And everybody that works at your company should be reminded every time they glance over at the wall of what we stand for here. And what we believe in culture is way more important than resume. So we hire people that, that are our tribe, people that we believe in and people that match our culture. The reason why is I can teach you skills, but I can't change your DNA. You could go to school and learn marketing or coding or customer service. But you really can't go to school and learn how to be a decent human being. You aren't, I'm not saying you can't improve, but your fundamental DNA and your value system, that's a way harder to change than it is to teach you new skills. So we hire to our culture, which is our strongly held values. Now to your point finding talent, finding rock stars is work, right? Yeah. I always give this talk and I think I mentioned it at the last abundance thing in Miami that I would schedule days to leave my office and I'm gonna go out in the world and hunt for talent. I'm gonna go out and meet people and look for them. Talent, finding rock stars takes work. So the second part of my answer to your question is the best case is when you find both somebody, the story I usually tell about is about this A, a woman, Angela, who was a rockstar HR person, but totally our value set, but she happened to be already very accomplished in HR. And she ran HR for four companies. For me, she stayed with me for a long time. She was already good at it. So the best thing to do is put a lot of time into hire hard and manage easy, put a lot of time into hoping that you can find a rock star. That's already domain proficient, but matches your values. But if you can't and I have to choose between the two things you said, I would not hire the amazingly proficient domain expert that doesn't match my values. I would hire the rookie that is totally aligned with our values. That isn't yet the rock star they're gonna be someday. So if I have to choose, but in reality, what I really did was just look harder and longer. Until I could find those people. So I was lucky enough to find people with some of the with some of the people that, that really already had those rockstar skills and matched our values

brian:

to that point. It makes me think When you're thinking of like your particular activating system, right? Like you see you buy a new car, you see the new car everywhere. People talk a lot about oh, I want rock stars. I want rock stars. I want rock stars for my business, but I feel like they don't have a specifically designed definition of what a rockstar is. And so I think that you saying that in the way that you just said it, where you were you're rockstar. Was a person that has the cultural, you're also looking for the cultural aspects for your rock stars. So maybe that made it a little easier. Is that one of the RA is that one of the ways that people fall off kilter, like one of the reasons that people aren't able to get the rock stars is they think that they're searching for this person, but they've got the definition. Just ask backwards.

jeff:

Yeah, I think you're right. You just, to, to expand on what you said. One of the most important skills you can ever develop as a leader, as a human being is learning how to ask the right questions in life. So start a podcast, kinda. Yeah. kinda literally what you just said there, because you're gonna find what you were looking for to your point about your ridiculous system. You' gonna find what you're looking for. So knowing to what que knowing how to ask the right questions and how to. Is a huge thing, right? So I actually have examples of little things that I look for that already start to gimme clues. Like one of our core values is treating all human beings with the same level of dignity and respect. There's no way around that. I fired a guy that was my best salesman. He was three times his sales were three times more than anybody else in the company. Wow. Best salesman I ever had a guy named Paul. And I fired him anywhere. And he said, I outsell everyone in this company by a factor of three to one, no way. Are you really firing me? I said, you do outsell everybody here by a factor of three to one, but you also out asshole them 10 to one. So you're gone. I said you're an unbelievable salesman, but you're an even more unbelievable asshole. and the reason why was I overheard him? Yelling at our receptionist. I want, I told you I want coffee. I was like wait, I was standing behind him and you didn't know that. So when I gave him that example, he said, who? The receptionist I repeated her name and he was silent. I said, you didn't even know her name. He said, Jeff, I'm the vice president. She's the receptionist. I like, you're already done at this company. Wow. Just the fact that you said that. So here's the equivalent. Let's say I'm doing an interview and I'm meeting somebody for lunch. You already know something by the way they react when the waitress comes to the table. Yes. If they see the waitress as part of the restaurant and not a human being, I'm Al I've already, I'm already less interested or more. I'd rather go the positive than the negative. If the waitress comes up and they say, what's your name? How long have you worked here? And they're asking questions and treating that person. Like they're an actual important human being that might have kids of their own in a life of their own they don't just exist for this moment to serve you in a restaurant. I'm already learned something about you as a human being. So the things you are watching for you were right on Brian, the things that you are watching for are the things you're gonna find, right? Just like the same way employee. React to the things they know you're actually measuring. If they think you're measuring one thing, that's the one they're working on. So yeah, you're dead on about that. I have learned over, a lot of gray hair. Even though it's all my beard now, the rest of it left what kinds of indicative things to pay attention to that enabled me to spot rock stars. When before, early on, I was asking questions that were just the wrong questions. Sure. And that's why people are frustrated. I can't find the right people cuz you were looking at the wrong.

brian:

Is that a process that's developed? Obviously it's a process that's developed over time, trial and error, just like you trying to be a software developer. And then you're like, oh hell this isn't me. Is there any advice that you can give there? Obviously we can never find shortcuts, but we can find efficiencies. Is there any kind of resource or any kind of advice you can give to people that are in that fledgling position in their company? They're trying really hard to define what a rockstar is or B like what to measure in their company, so is there any advice that you can give to somebody that can of help them accelerate that journey? Or is that just something that you have to learn through the school of hard knocks in business?

jeff:

No, it's both. Clearly you get better at it over time, but yeah the, one of the things that I did learn, and it's funny because Paul. The guy that I told you about was graded sales. He just, wasn't a great guy. But the way he did sales. So my answer to you is Cing your best people. If you do know a rockstar wow. In the world what you gotta figure out is what makes them, why are they so successful? What makes them a rockstar? And you're trying clone or literally model that. So I actually went with Paul on some sales trip. Because I wanted to see what are the things he does that make him a rockstar, cuz he was a rockstar salesman and I wrote that down. And so what you're trying to do is clone the things about the rock stars that make them a rock stars, but you can't do that until you dig deep into observing them, spending a day in the life. So even if that person even, so my first question to you is if you already own a business. Do you have any rock stars? Because if you have any rock stars or MVPs on your team, go spend a day with them go. You, I don't care that you own the company and you're the CEO. I want you to job shadow them and see what is it. They do different than everyone else that is making them so good and what they do making a rock star. And then you're sharing that. You're literally modeling that. And you're sharing that with the other people of, in that department. This is what an, a rockstar at sales looks like. This is what a rockstar at HR looks like. Each of these things, if you don't have rock stars already in your company, find one in the world. You know what I did once? We actually, and we actually called a woman that did, she didn't work for our company. She worked for a customer who was one of the customers and I asked, but she was the kind of rockstar she was in finance. That I wish we had. And so I called her and I said, can we job shadow you? And she's okay, what? That's a little weird . And I said, you're a, you're a rockstar at your company. We don't have someone like you at our company. Could we just spend a day in your life? We won't even speak. We'll just follow you around with a notepad. Can I send somebody to just shadow you for a day? Cuz we're trying to figure out what it is you do that makes you so damn good so that we know what to look. And she's I guess so. And that wound up being so valuable, sitting down and interviewing her is different. Cause you're only gonna ask her the questions on your list that you think are relevant. That we're back to the same thing. She's only gonna answer the ones you asked, but it turns out you didn't ask the right questions or you would've learned way more. So by shadowing her for a day without asking any questions, just following around, we're like, oh my God, we had no idea. You did all these things. Because they never would've come up in conversation. Cause we never would've asked that cuz we didn't know. But when we job shadowed her, we came back all excited. So clone the rockstar by spending a day in their life, shadow one for the day. And you'll start to see, these are the traits I need to find to hire somebody like her, myself.

brian:

And I love that you say that. So it's all about intentionality from the leadership. Yeah. And the reason that you say that is, you know, who's the worst person at defining what makes a rock. A rock star. Yeah. They just do their thing. They can't tell you how to do it. So it's like I was so in my previous life, I was in corporate sales position. I made it to the top 1% of the company. So hopefully they didn't think I was the 10 X asshole though. I knew the receptionist name, her name was Brenda. Anyway, shout out, Brenda and I, so my obsession. When I began the company straight outta college, my obsession was find who's the best and ask them, what did they do that makes 'em the best. Awesome. And I'm gonna do what they do. And nobody could answer that. Nobody could tell me, oh, I do things this way. I present this way. They couldn't tell me because that was so natural to them that they couldn't articulate it.

jeff:

Brian. That's why you spend a day. Yep. That's why we spend the day. Why you so spend the day with them because they frequently can, you know what that made me think of? We did this event where youth event this past year we did an online event for inner city kids, basically. But we had I spoke and a basketball player, Kyrie Irving spoke. And you've made me think of that. Cuz one of the kids in the Q and a, we were talking about leadership in their future, but one of the kids was talking about the three pointer that he hit when they were playing the warriors. When he and LeBron for the game seven. Yep. Yes. When he hit that last minute three pointer and the kids asked him that one of the kids said exactly, what are the motions you go through to make sure that shot goes. And Kyrie said, I have no idea. I don't think about it at all. He said, if I think about it, I'd probably mess it up. I just do what I do. And so that's what you just said. So what I was gonna, if I had been answering what I told that kid is what you probably should do is watch a hundred films of Kyrie playing. And observe it because he can't explain it. He's man, I'm just in the flow. I don't think about it at all. He said, I just do my thing, but if you were to go watch, we went and watch Kyrie when they came here to play this past season. And he scored 60 that night. Yeah. If you watched him score those 60 points, you would start to see the things he does. That make him so good, but he probably wouldn't have explained it just like you said. So you've got to spend the day in the life of a rockstar to see what they do much better, which is much more powerful than just asking them.

brian:

Have you ever seen a video of tiger woods? There's a video of tiger woods with like John RO and all the other, like top like Rory, all the top PGA players. He was hitting a bunker shot and he was showing him how he hits his bunker shot. And they were like, tiger. Explain how do you do this? And he goes I'll just quiet my hands and just quiet my hands. And then they go Can you just be normal for one, can you explain things exactly. kinda normal person. What does that mean? What the hell does that mean? and so that's exactly the same thing. It's just, he's I just feel it just quiet. My hands makes zero sense.

jeff:

You just feel it. Sometimes they can explain parts of it. Parts doesn't up the whole picture. I was and actually it's funny, cuz it came from the negative. I was doing this project with Michael Jordan. And somebody saw him and walked up to said, oh my God, I was there that night against Cleveland. When you hit that shot at the buzzer to eliminate them from the playoffs, blah, blah, blah. Great moment. And Jordan didn't say anything. And he said you don't remember your game winning shots. And Jordan said, no, but I can tell you an excruciating, slow motion, replay detail. Every time I had the ball at the end of the game and I missed the shot and we lost. And so when we were walking away, I said, why did you miss those shots? And he knew, right? And so there is some of it, a rockstar can explain. He said, cuz I didn't go vertical. I didn't get extension. I didn't get full extension. And I didn't go vertical on my jump. And he said, I have to do those things to start out every shot, if I want a chance at succeeding. And I was like, that's something to write down. A full extension on both arms and a vertical leap, not a SI, not an angular leap. So a rockstar can tell you some of the things, but like you, and I just said, the truth is go follow one and watch 'em repeatedly. And you'll start to see the trends, the pattern.

brian:

Exactly. I wanna be conscious of your time. So I wanna, I want to end it with sure. Another quote that you said. Be a serial entrepreneur, not a parallel entrepreneur. Yeah.

jeff:

Talk about that. Yeah. You obviously did your homework, Brian. Thank you. Appreciate

brian:

you expect me to come on this and just be like God casual.

jeff:

It's, I use this analogy where I tell people to go win a gold medal at one thing. Because a lot of times entrepreneurs come to me and there's I'm, I've got these four businesses. , and I always say, or four ideas and I always say, great kill three of them. Pick the one, in your heart that you can crush and focus all your energy on that. And I tell them the example that earlier on at the beginning of the internet, I used to talk to Bezos somewhat frequently when the internet started and people forget that for all those years, he only sold books. And I remember him saying to me, one day, I just wanna be the best damn book seller on the planet. Then I'll figure out where to go next. And Tony Shay telling to me one day at Zappos, I just wanna be the best damn shoe seller on the planet. So I noticed that the companies that hit massive success did so by becoming the best damn something on the planet before they try to do 15 other. And so there are people that have four multiple sources. I've heard that over and over again, multiple sources of income, income. income. Yeah. And those people have a nice life and that's good. And nice flights is worth it. That's not the question we're answering. They're saying the people that turned, million dollar companies and a billion dollar companies, what did they do differently? And guess what? Not one of 'em had multiple sources of. Bezos built books, sold books and created Amazon. Tony, SHA did that our own company at priceline.com, booking.com, sold hotel rooms, not cruises, not travel insurance, not luggage, one product hotel rooms. So that's your gold medal product. The thing that, you can category crush and do really well at. And I, the more companies I observed, the more I noticed. The people that focused on put all, instead of dividing your, every dollar into four quarters that you're putting on four different businesses, you're putting your team divided into four teams to run four businesses or four products, right? Your personal Headspace is divided four ways. What if you took all of that and you placed put your entire team and your entire budget on books. Because you knew you could crush that is what Bezos did for seven years. You could not buy anything, but a book, cuz he said, I'm gonna win a gold medal at books first, before I sell anything else. That's the part people miss that, being that sticking to one thing. And I used to tell people that cuz people said, man, you launched the music company and later a film company and you did the travel company. And I always tell them not at the same time when we were doing travel. Brian, if you called me and said, Hey Jeff, I have an. I would've said, Brian, if you want to talk to me about how to get more butts and beds in hotel rooms. Great. If it's anything else, call me next year, then later we were doing music tours. And if you called me, I would've said, dude, unless you're gonna help me sell out Friday night's concert. Call me next year, staying focused by the way, Brian, there is a really nice side of it to that. I have failed multiple times, but I fail really fast when I fail. And the reason you fail really fast is because you're all in on your idea. And so you're gonna find out way quicker that it's not working than you are. If you are only putting a fourth of your time every week into that thing, you've got three other businesses. So you, when you fail, you fail fast. But when you succeed at a much faster rate as well. So that, by the way, I learned a little bit of that one day talking to Richard Branson because all the Virgin companies and Richard said, whoa, time out. He said, when I launched, Virgin records, He said, that's all I did. And then he said, each time he would sell the company or bring in a new CEO and say, don't call me. I don't work here anymore. When he launched Virgin mobile, the phone company, that's all he did. And then he left and he actually hired one of our price line guys to run Virgin mobile. They sold it to sprint and then he launched Virgin galactic. He said, I built a lot of companies, but I only ever ran one at a time. And so what I'm saying is. Everybody. I studied that achieved big success did so by being serial and not parallel. It, and I'm not saying you might not be able to do it, but I'm saying, I think your odds are significantly greater. If you pick the thing, you're best at and go all in at that, I use the gold medal analogy because. You've never heard of an Olympic athlete win a gold medal in swimming, then a gold medal in track and field, and then a gold medal on the basketball team. , it'll never happen cuz it's so damn hard to win a gold medal at anything that if you're a swimmer, you're a swimmer right. And so that's why I use that analogy. If you wanna win a gold medal at swimming, you ain't doing anything but swimming for a lot of years. That's how people achieve big success. Once you're done. Once you hit that gold medal level, then you can start to add new products, new services, you can grow. But the question you and I are answering is how do I get to that level? And you get to that level by intense focus.

brian:

You earn the right. You earn the right to diversify. Yep. You got it. Love it. What is to finish the closing question you are. If you go on your website, you're a part of 574 different charitable organizations. Trust that you've started different. Ways that you've impacted people. That's fantastic. And that's something that people look for, in people that have economic success out of all of those charitable trust and all those things and all the philanthropy that you've done. Can you think of one specific organization or one specific thing or event or moment that you did that was. The most impactful for you so far?

jeff:

Yeah. It's, I'm gonna gimme two though, even though you said one that's okay. We'll do it. Think they're equal. I, we have our own youth charity world youth horizons and the GoBundance people have actually gone on and donated and it's been, we really appreciate that. It's world youth horizons.com. We for example, we're finishing an orphanage that we're building in Uganda. And to watch all these abandoned kids. A lot, most of them lost their parents to the civil war violence. All their parents were killed. These kids were just basically laying on the ground. No homes, no clothes, no shoes, no beds, no food, no nothing, no school. When we met them and now they have clothes, they have shoes. We bought land. We built a pig farm, a goat farm. We have chickens, a rabbit farm. They're growing corn and beans on their land. They feed themselves and we're finishing their house. So they'll have electricity and running water and beds for the first showers toilets for the first time in their life. And they're all in school. They have books, they have clothes for school. They have backpacks, they have lunch at school. Our team at world youth horizons did all that. And to see these children today, when we do video calls, Their life now versus where they were when we met them. It makes every night you ever stayed up late working on your business worth it. Wow. Because you can't get there until you, you get there by running profitable businesses that enable you to be able to help people like that. The other one I mentioned is we have an organization that I still chair called global entrepreneurship network, where we set out to help anybody anywhere start and scale business. To help people achieve freedom through economic independence. And the proud moment was that we are now on the ground in 200 countries. And to reach that milestone with our team is such an, I still look at it and I still can't believe we've done this. So we work with people in 200 countries that are trying to make their lives better and the lives around them better. And I'm so immensely proud of the team that we've been able to reach people all over the planet and help them make things around them better. And the stories of what they create, not us. Are just are just heartwarming. Thank you for asking that. And thanks for having me today.

brian:

I appreciate it. My friend, and I'll leave it with this. Like I tell people listening to this podcast obviously have a good relationship with wealth, but the general public has a poor sentiment. What I will always say is it really comes down to two things like you have good people making money, you have bad people making money. It is our moral obligation as good people. To make as much money as humanly possible would be one of the good guys, because if we just stop and we say, oh, this isn't moral anymore to pursue higher levels of. The bad guys are still going do it

jeff:

right.

brian:

That money's going somewhere that money's going somewhere. It's going to the African diamond mind, let or the oil, let's be one of the good guys. And that's what you can do instead of donating $5, which is still fantastic to buy somebody a low for bread, you can build a fricking village. So Jeff. Thank you for the masterclass today. Thank you for everything that you've done. Thank you for the impact and thank you for the conversation, brother.

jeff:

All right, my friend. Thanks for having me and I can't wait to see your feed from your epic Odyssey around

brian:

the world. Oh man. Absolutely. It's gonna be, it's gonna be a freaking blast and I can do it cuz of this. This is gonna be you're gonna be my last interview. You're popping out next. Tuesday. Yes. Next Tuesday. So it's gonna be right before I hop on a plane, hopefully on time. And then you'll be my last United States interview after this it's gonna be in Greece, baby. So have

jeff:

fun and keep me posted.

brian:

Oh, thanks man. Thank you, sir. It's been Brian and Jeff Hoffman with the action academy signing off.