233: Humble Alpha: Humility In Leadership That Changes The World with Steven Kuhn
The best kinds of leadership go beyond the ego and into a place of humility. Humility not only towards others but towards understanding ourselves, knowing that there is so much that we’ve yet to learn and tap within. Steven Eugene Kuhn, the founder of Quality of Life Enterprises, joins Mitch Russo to share with us how humility and leadership relate with each other through his book, Unleash Your Humble Alpha: Own Your Presence in Life and Become the Epic Leader You Are Meant to Be. He takes us through his own personal development and career journey that took him from the military, the corporate world, and even to the monastery and back again. Sharing the lessons he learned throughout, he turned it into a book that is now helping many others unlock profound leadership, unshakable confidence, clarity of purpose, and the quality of life they dream of. Follow along to this conversation to learn the five steps of empowering yourself, believing in your truth, and owning your life.
Humble Alpha: Humility In Leadership That Changes The World with Steven Kuhn
The world changes every day in surprising ways. What doesn’t change is you need to promote yourself and generate new clients. I wrote a book called Profit Stacking Secrets. It covers 28 different methods to get no cost placement, publicity, attention, connection, and ultimately, new clients. I’m giving away the first part free and you can get that by going to ProfitStackingSecrets.com. Use it to get free press, get on podcast, and build a new partnership. It’s my gift to you and it’s free. On to my amazing guest and his incredible story.
My guest’s professional life started in the US Army from 1986 to 1993, starting in Germany and making a name for himself as a leader early on, which led him to a leadership role in Iraq during Desert Storm. Upon discharge, he struggled for some time finding his way, but staying in Europe where he had begun to establish a small consulting firm, he began writing and soon became a best-selling author on his favorite subject which is being a turnaround leader. He’s also a political consultant and all the while completing his MBA at the prestigious Bradford University School of Business and Leeds, UK.
Everyone has a superpower. Some find it late in life, some never do. In his early years, investing in relationship capital became his superpower. He built relationships based on honesty, integrity, and transparency. This became his HIT philosophy. Once codified and brought to life through his relationships, he decided it was finally time to create the blueprint called Unleash Your Humble Alpha, which has nothing but five-star reviews on Amazon. This work has changed lives, invigorated decaying organizations, and has become the foundation for a complete management life philosophy for himself, his family, and his clients. Welcome, Steven Kuhn, to the show.
Thank you, Mitch. What a great introduction.
I left so much out from what you told me. Why don’t we start from the beginning? How did this all start for you?
It started in Central Pennsylvania. We call it Pennsyltucky. I grew up there a dorky kid. I tried to do the things that you’re supposed to do as a kid, fit into high school and played football, I was bad at it. I tried baseball, I was bad at it. I tried wrestling and basketball, I was bad at all these sports. I had no self-confidence and self-pride. Therefore, no one saw it in me either. I knew at an early age that I had to get away from the shadow of myself. I signed up for the Army when I was seventeen. I waited for high school to finish and took off ten days after high school. I landed in Fort Knox, Kentucky for boot camp.
I’ll never forget to this day. I remember the smell of the barbershop because that razor touched my head to shave my hair off. They give you a complete buzz. I said, “This is the new me. Never again that dork.” Instantly, I felt the power inside of me because they take you, cut your hair, give you a uniform. You’re completely new. In that aspect, it was an amazing journey for me. When I went into boot camp, I found it difficult. It’s physically challenging, not to mention mentally challenging, but I decided, “I’m not going to quit.” I remember I was probably one of the slowest guys in the platoon or in the company. I would purposely run at the front of the formation every morning for the 10 or 5 kilometer runs. I would be vomiting on myself, but I would not drop out because if I go behind, I’m going to stop running. I know me. I need to stay upfront.
That’s where I got the attitude that it’s only my mind. It’s the only thing that can stop me. What hit me was we were on the obstacle course where you jump, shoot, move, communicate, climb ropes and jump over walls. I got to a wall and I couldn’t get over the wall. There was no rope and I couldn’t do it. The drill sergeant threw me down on the ground, put his foot in the back of my neck, and started calling me all kinds of names. I got so upset that I jumped up with one hand, flew over that wall. I landed on the other side, and it was like angels came. That’s when the epiphany hit me like, “Steven, you’re the only one stopping you.” From that point on, I flew in the Army. You’ve got to realize when you’re in the Army, I can look at you on your uniform. I see your combat patch, all of your rewards, where you served, what you served, your achievements, how many years you’ve been in. I see all of it on your uniform. I don’t have to talk to you.Your true presence comes from work from within and the belief in yourself. Click To Tweet
That same person gets out of the military and gets some random job. I was a doorman. There I am in the Army, a sergeant, highly decorated, bronze star, combat veteran. I’m standing at the door of a club and some kid comes up and says, “Look at this loser. He can’t even get a real job.” That hurts. It makes you angry. It makes you lash out. Hence the doorman position because I was legally allowed to lash out. That’s where it was difficult for me. I had a breakdown three years after that and lost my mind for a little bit. I was outside of my body for a good 1 or 2 weeks where I couldn’t feel a connection to anything or anyone around me. When I was talking, I only heard an echo. I thought I was losing my mind.
It’s more common than most people would believe about that feeling of leaving the Army as a decorated executive and driving a cab or Uber or a doorman, and then having people disrespectful to you after years of people treating you like the professional that you were. That’s the first thing that I want to bring to the attention of anybody who’s within earshot of this because all of our veterans must have felt this way at one point or another. We forget that as civvies, we run around here thinking, “All I’ve got to do is close an extra sale this week and I can get that Mercedes that I wanted.” To veterans, it was for you going in. You’ve got the haircut, the new uniform, you are a new person.
You are stripped of that beautiful, shiny personality that you had worked hard to build and thrown out into the real world. The other observation I wanted to make, which is a rare observation that I want to acknowledge. You said that you felt as if you were outside of your body for a week. Most people don’t realize that this is something I believe that we do. Most of the time, we don’t. I also know people who have mastered this ability. They have the ability to be outside their body and extend their sensory perception beyond the physical space that they are in. In my own life, I’ve worked on that specifically with counselors over time. It’s an incredible realization that you had. Let’s fast forward a little bit. You’re the doorman. You realize that all this is happening. What was the moment in time that you chose to change everything and take that next step?
There were plenty of steps in between. I’ll choose a few ones. The first one was, “Let me go into my own business.” I opened a cocktail bar in Berlin and then another, and then a nightclub. It’s a lot of money, but it got me in all kinds of trouble with the Berlin mafia. My nose was broken, my eye socket is broken, they wanted protection money, and I didn’t play that game, but I ended up having to play it anyway. You have no choice or you’re not going to be around. What happened was I had a lot of guests that would come in and say, “What are you doing behind the bar?” I’d stand on the bar and sing during the national anthem before the boxing.
I would create cocktails in the name of the guests. I’ve had a blast. One of the guests said, “I’m bringing a company from South Africa to Germany. Would you help me set it up?” At that time, I’m like, “Sure.” Even though I had no idea what the heck I was doing. In the Army, it’s always say yes and figure it out later. It was three months taking over that company as a GM and then expanding it into Austria, broke every record they had. It was a listed company in South Africa. I got headhunted for a British PLC, a public listed company. They flew me to London.
I still had a cocktail bar. In my mind, I was a soldier and here I am flying to London business class. I’m 31 or 32 years old. I got taken around to all of their locations to show me. They’re hobnobbing me and giving me lunch. I’m sitting in front of the board of directors of this listed company, this guys who have no clue about the world, except for the world that I traveled in. I mean, as far as the business world goes. I remember them asking me all these questions and I’m answering like I don’t even care. I’m just me. I’m not going to try to impress them.
When they said, “We’re done now. Do you have any more questions?” I said, “No more questions.” They said, “Don’t you want to know what you’re going to earn?” It never even crossed my mind to ask how much I was going to make because I was excited that I was getting a chance to work in a PLC where I would travel around Europe and send me to locations. I said, “I’m sure you’ll pay me something fairly.” They took the pay that I had. They didn’t know what I was making, but I was making a good amount of money. They quadrupled it. They’re like, “We got together and we think this is a fair wage.” I found out I was making less than everyone else but still, it didn’t matter. It was four times my pay. It was almost $30,000 a month. I was 31 years old. This was 1998.
I had exactly the same experience when I was headhunted out of a research lab back in my twenties. Like you, they switched the pay plans around, “We can’t pay you as much as we’d like to, but here’s your new salary.” It was four times what I was making at the place before. I swallowed hard and said, “If that’s what you could pay, I can accept that.” Inside there’s a little boy jumping up and down.
That turned into a big deal. I ended up doing the same thing with that company, opened up 35 locations in nine countries. I took over the joint venture with an American NASDAQ listed company. I was the head of the joint venture. I remember looking back and saying, “How did I end up here?” Because I wasn’t qualified. I wasn’t anything special. It was that presence that I had. From the military, I knew my capabilities. I knew that I could crush anything if I went for it. That stuck with me from the wall, when we’re trying to cross a wall, but it didn’t necessarily matter that I knew how to get there.
I just had to know that I knew I could get there wherever there is. That comes out later in the book when we started writing the Humble Alpha. We had to dissect all these such situations and say, “How did I do that? What was the turning factor inside of me?” It was that because I knew I could do it like the wall. For me, any business, any challenge is a wall. I also learned in the military and later in life that when I’m fearful of something or scared of worry, that’s me attempting to grow and be better tomorrow than I am today. That stuck with me. If something is boring to me and it’s not a challenge, I won’t even do it.
I don’t blame you one bit, but what you’re saying is you’ve mastered it and you did it formulaically which I love because being an engineer, I always see things as systems and formulas. The formula is when I encounter fear, that means I’m about to make a leap forward. Therefore, the fear itself is not uncomfortable because it’s like, “Here you go. This is what you’ve been waiting for.” It’s adrenaline and modification. It’s a translation of a feeling into a sensation action. Therefore, you move, you act, you move through the fear, and that fear can never be activated again in your life. That is what we call self-worth and confidence.
“It can never be activated again,” I’ve never used or heard that before. I love that. I always say, “Fear induces action.” They say fight or flight and I’m like, “No. dive in.”
You’re in Europe. You’re being paid beaucoup bucks. You’re running around and building these companies for this other group. It sounds like it was going great, but how did it end?
It ended suddenly and dramatically. I was in Chicago at the headquarters, doing my thing. I was slated to go home. I was there for nine months straight. I was married at that time. I tried to call my wife and she wouldn’t pick up. I couldn’t find her. She wasn’t at work. I didn’t know what’s going on, and then I got a call. She had an accident and broke her back. I rushed home. That’s what I said at first until I found out what the accident was. I got home and went to the hospital. I’m looking around assessing, she was sleeping and she looked horrible like beat up. I looked across the hallway and I saw a friend of mine lying.
It turns out they were together and they had an accident. They fell through a ceiling. That ended my marriage. I was away for nine months, I get it but that was a little bit dramatic. I went to work the next day and the board of directors for both companies, the PLC and the NASDAQ, did a hostile takeover and booted both CEOs. The one CEO was Lee Helman who was the Valley guy, from Valley Casinos. They booted him. He’s the largest donor for the University of Chicago. I was directly connected to those two CEOs so they booted me as well.A lot of leaders took their power and presence from a title or a rank. Click To Tweet
I had put a down payment on a new apartment in Berlin. The guy sold it to somebody else and took off so my money was gone. Within three days, my money, my wife, and my job were gone. I said to myself, “I’m done. I don’t know what to do.” I’ll never forget. I met this girl in Utah and she was a star reader or whatever you call the people that read your astrology. She said to me, “There are two doors that you’re going to be coming upon. One of them is going the life that you’ve led until now and you’re going to keep doing what you’re doing or a completely new life, but you can’t look for it. You’ve got to recognize it when it’s in front of you. You can’t look forward or you won’t see it.”
I went back home and I invited some friends over to relax. They saw a shoebox on the top of my computer and they said, “What is that shoebox?” I said, “It’s the notes I took. When I was in my bar, when it was slow, I would write on this little bar tab. I would write little notes about the war, about my thoughts, about Iraq.” They took them and were like, “You’ve got to write a book.” I put 30 pages together, have a transcript, and send it out to some publishers. One picked it up, they published it, and it came out the day the war started in 2003.
It was an immediate bestseller in Germany. I was on TV for a year and did a book tour for an entire year. I did every day at least three TV shows, talk show. I was an MTV, VJ. It was crazy. They had me on every single channel you can imagine in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. That put me in a different place. When that was over, I went back to the corporate world again. I went through that old door without even knowing it. I went through the same door again. As a matter of fact, it was the same company because they regrouped and hired me back. I started doing the same thing again, opening locations, turning them around, and it happened again.
I crash and burn. I had a bad episode where I ended up being homeless and had tried to commit suicide. It was that bad. This was 2007. I then called my friend in Austria and said, “Michael, I need help. I need you to come and pick me up or I’m not going to be here tomorrow.” He picked me up and dropped me off at a Benedictine Monastery in the mountains of Austria. He said, “I’ll pick you up whenever you’re ready.” I stayed there for eight months.
Here you are in this monastery and your life has crashed and burned. This is the theme of most successful entrepreneurs’ lives. It’s a series of crashes and burns. I’m no different. My audience know me over 200-plus episodes. I share these stories, but here’s the interesting thing and this is what I believe is common among great entrepreneurs. Great entrepreneurs, sometimes it’s eight months, sometimes it’s eight years, but they eventually decide that this phase is over and they start again new. It doesn’t matter whether you’re 25, 35, 45, 55 or even 65 years old, I’ve interviewed people who restarted their life at 65 years old and became a very successful and wealthy personnel. Where did you go next after the monastery?
In between what we were talking about, I moved to different countries. I always have a place in Berlin. I live in Hungary now, but I still have a place in Berlin. My business is registered there since 1996. After the monastery, I went back to Berlin. When I was in the monastery, I learned a lot about myself and how to shut my mouth and listen. I listened to the monks every day to the point where at the end of my stay, I was almost coaching them. I heard so much about it and they were hungry for what was going on in life with someone who could relate.
I was not necessarily religious but spiritual. Everyone else is sitting there praying. I got my hands open and I’m absorbing the Holy Spirit. They’re like, “What are you doing?” I explained it to them. When I left there, I went to the mountains in Austria by myself and said, “I want to be alone for a little bit with nobody.” I had a little cooler of dried foods and stuff. Little did I know, the village heard about it. They started pilgrimage up there every day. There were 20 or 30 people every single day. I would sit there like a swami.
People were sitting around me, telling the stories. I was listening to their issues and I was giving advice. It flowed from me. It was a complete flow state 24/7. When I went back to Berlin and I kept doing that, I was completely booked out. I couldn’t even save myself. I would sit there, listen and help them clear their issues. I had a limit of three sessions. We had one get to know you session, and three sessions and you’re done. You can’t come back. It was like, “You’re done. You have all the tools you need.” From the divine, something was being channeled through me. I didn’t have the knowledge. I was like a channel, but then people wouldn’t listen to that. They kept wanting to come back and people were knocking on my door at 4:00 in the morning, “I’m going to kill myself if you don’t help me.” I was like, “What am I going to do now?” I love this, but I can’t do this because you can’t force someone to give your energy away. I got a call from my old corporation like, “Steven, we’ve got something for you.”
I’m like, “No. I am not going back to that world.” They said, “It’s a three-month gig only. That’s all we need you for. It’s in Budapest.” Something inside of me said, “Go, you have to go to Budapest.” I said to him, “I’ll go.” Three days later, I was in Budapest. The first day in Hungary, the first day in Budapest, the first day in the new business, the first person I saw was an amazingly beautiful woman. I said to myself, “That’s my wife.” That was many years ago. We’re married and have two kids. I took the spirituality from the monastery into the business world and turned this company into the top-performing company in Europe and its industry through spirituality. We had meetings every day where we went into what we talked about in the Humble Alpha. What’s your true presence? Where does it come from? It comes from work from within. Where does that come from? It comes from belief in yourself.
I was teaching all this stuff. That’s where HIT comes from. They used to call me The Hitman because I kept teaching honesty, integrity, transparency. That’s how I ended up in Hungary. I stayed with that company for five more years because I was encouraged to go to other countries and teach the same thing. I went to Switzerland, Germany, Spain and Portugal. I implemented this process of that spiritual leadership into the corporation. They still use it to this day.
That’s not surprising, but what is surprising is seeing how spirit orchestrated every step of your life to bring you right here, right now with me, sharing this incredible journey. Lead us up to the point where Humble Alpha came. Was it March of 2020?
It’s September 2020.
What led up to the writing of the book?
Every year I do a journey to Peru. We go with guys, typically leaders, and a lot of veterans. We work with the sacred plant medicine Ayahuasca and San Pedro. Ayahuasca is the divine feminine. San Pedro is the divine masculine. One year, this guy from my Vetpreneur Tribe, a veteran entrepreneurial tribe on Facebook. We have 15,000 members. He said, “Can I come?” We met there. His name is Lane Belone. He’s a special force, Green Beret veteran. He’s a younger guy. At that time, he was 29 or 30. We got down there and we started working with the medicine and talking to each other. I had a group at that time called The Humble Man. He had a group called the Authentic Alpha. We were sitting there one day after a San Pedro session.
We connected like real brothers. I could have sworn this guy was my real brother. We looked at each other and we said, “Humble Alpha.” It just came to us. It’s funny we started with the title and the feelings we had. It was the spiritual connection we had, but then we had to write the book and the program. We had to break down our lives. That took 1.5-year. We live like this. The Humble Alpha is how I and Lane lives. It’s not like we made it up. We had to put our lives, the way we live, the way we achieve, the way we love, the way we connect, we had to put it into a structure, like you said, an engineer. That took a long time. We had to go through stories, interview each other, talk to each other, and get third parties involved.Your purpose almost crystallizes when you know your identity. Click To Tweet
“Where did this come from? When you say this, what do you mean?” You’re like, “I don’t know. I just say it.” It was a long process but the outcome, I can’t even say that we did it on purpose. What’s happening with this book now is changing the paradigm of leadership. That’s not coming from us. Universities are making it into a course with three credit hours for this. Spirituality and the universe led me here. As I said in the beginning, and this is where we talk about it in the book, “Own your presence in life.” Because I knew that I’m capable of anything, I didn’t worry about how I’m going to get there. I just went.
Let’s take this one step further. We have a lot of people here with us. If you’re reading, you’re probably asking the question, what are the core lessons of Humble Alpha, and how do they relate to me in my life? Steven, you have the floor. Share with us what the Humble Alpha is and how to get there, how to be a humble alpha?
Some people say it’s an oxymoron, but it’s not. We say humble on the outside and alpha on the inside. We believe there’s a core nuclear reactor right in your solar plexus. That’s where your true power and presence come from. It’s your throat chakra, your presence, how you speak. We have five parts to the book. First of all, the book is split up into chapters. Each chapter has a story, the lesson from that story, and exact steps on how to achieve that part. The first part is called Activate and that’s activating your true identity, know who you are, and how you interact in the world. Knowing your true identity is important because a lot of leaders, people, and as a soldier, we took our power and presence from a title or a rank.
That puts your power outside of you, not inside of you. What it also does is when the uniform was off, who was I? That’s where you get that misbalanced from your boss at work and your buddy at home. Maybe your kids don’t respect you because you’re working all the time, but you think you have to because you’re the provider. That’s Section one. Section two is called Unleash and that’s unleashing your purpose in life, know what you do in the world and what makes you feel alive. That purpose almost crystallizes when you know your identity.
It’s identity and purpose. It creates certainty. We talked about certainty before, you can let go of the how you’re going to get to where you’re going to go. The third section is called Empower. Create space and elevate all those within your life enterprise. All around you, anybody you talk to, speak to or work with can step into their own greatness and you as well. That’s the empowering stage. We then get into momentum. That’s amplifying your purpose by igniting the fire within others, with partnerships and investing in relational capital, the one you mentioned in the beginning.
The third one is what everybody strives for in life and that is quality of life. That’s also the name of our company. That’s how you fully enjoy every moment of your life no matter the activity. It also means something different to everybody. For me, it’s discretionary time to do what I want to do, when I want to do it, with who I want to do it with. Those are the five steps but in the end, it’s about identity, purpose and certainty. It’s owning your purpose in life.
Let’s go back to purpose because I have an observation. It may not be true for you, but it is for me. There have been times in my life where my true purpose has changed.
It changes constantly.
I’m glad we’re on the same page here because there was a point in my life where my true purpose was to fix color TVs. That completely shifted when my next true purpose finally arrived. The best part about it is when it happened each time, it felt genuine and real. When I realized what it was, what I experienced was a surge of energy or enthusiasm or recognition. I was able to take that to its nth degree as you did when you had finished up with your corporate gig. When you take it to the nth degree and it’s over, my lesson was be patient and wait for the next true purpose to show up. It’s something you can’t force and manufacture. It needs to be discovered. Do you agree?
In our case and our belief, they skipped the major part of finding your identity, which changes constantly as well. I was a soldier, then I wasn’t. I was in the bar scene, then I wasn’t. That’s not who I am. That’s what I do. It plays a big role in who I feel I am. If I’m standing behind the bar, I want to be the entertainer. I want to be the person that people will confide in. If I’m in a corporate job, maybe I don’t want to be that, but I’m still the same person. My identity wanders as well as my purpose. The thing about the Humble Alpha is we teach in the book also how to disseminate that down to your team so they go off to their own personal identity and personal purpose, and tie that with the company’s purpose which is what I did with the other company, which makes a powerful team because we all know structures and procedures. We call it PPS, People, Procedures and Structures. That’s fine for setting a standard, but the true power in a company is culture.
Let’s take the company owner who buys the book and is excited about having heard you on this show and now wants to learn this process. Give us a feel for what they could do with the information, being a company owner having either remote or local staff members.
Let’s talk about how I did it. I’ll do a practical exercise here. For instance, one of the big impacts I had was in Switzerland in Zurich. I went and they asked me to a turnaround. It’s the same stuff. They typically turn on me, I come in, they fired 10% of the people, shocked everybody, scared them to death, and made them work. I went in and I looked at everybody. The first thing I did was to observe for 3 or 4 days, get them to know me and talk to them. There’s no direction in the beginning. First of all, I changed the surroundings immediately. I had to paint the walls. The bosses sat where the staff sat, the staff sat where the bosses sat, people sat with different people, desks were facing each other instead of away from each other.
I created a whole new atmosphere that they were like, “Something is happening here.” I drove deep and started going to one-on-one counseling and coaching. This is the first stage of it all, then you’ve got to create the togetherness factor. We would do the daily huddle. At 2:00, we had a meeting and someone different ran the meeting every day. If someone was in charge, they had to prepare for the meeting and run the meeting. I gave them the responsibility of informing the entire team what the numbers were. This is from the cleaning lady to the CEO. CEO sometimes had a hard time sitting back and letting them do this. You saw over time that people were not only proud, but they prepared like you would not believe.
What this created was everyone knew everyone else’s numbers and jobs after a couple of months. There was never a hole like, “I don’t know what to do.” Everyone knew what to do. That’s number one. The second thing we did is we started to empower. For instance, empowering is this, somebody comes into my office and says, “Steve, I’ve got this problem.” I said, “What’s the problem.” He said, “Client X wants this, that and the other.” I said, “What would you do?” He said, “I don’t know.” I said, “Go out and find me three solutions and come back with those three solutions.” They come back with three solutions and like, “Which one?” I said, “Which one would you stand behind?” He said, “Number two.” I said without question, “Do it.” Even if it might be a little bit wrong, do it.
What happens there is they’re like, “Why didn’t you ask me to do three?” I said, “Because I want you to see from different angles, different solutions, different possibilities.” They’ll do it maybe a second time. The third time they wouldn’t come back. They are running with the ball. The next thing you know, you have an autonomous company where you’re sitting around. You can spend your time empowering the people. I used to cook lunch. I used to go upstairs to my apartment, cook lunch, and bring down pasta. It was that kind of atmosphere. I wasn’t just an employee. I was one of the big guys. I went from club to club, relation to relation, and went around and did this over and over again.Amplify your purpose by igniting the fire within others. Click To Tweet
The CEO of the entire company was a guy named Ian Burke. After that, he was the CEO of Rank Xerox. He was a big dude. He came to one of my meetings. I was speaking German so he didn’t understand. I was making jokes about him. He was standing right there. It was funny. He said, “What in the heck was that?” He was completely blown away. He said, “I want you to implement this in all 87 locations.” I was like, “I can’t. That would have taken me 87 years.” I trained others to do the same. That’s where this comes from. What would an owner do? They have to make an abrupt change. They have to make the decision first. They have to find their purpose and their identity first and say, “Where do I want my company to go? Is it aligned with my purpose? Because if it isn’t, it’s not going to go very far. If it does, it won’t go as far as it could.”
I have two observations I want to make. Number one, anybody can perfect something that they do well, create a system around it, teach others how to do it, and then implement. The fact that you did it without getting your Doctorate degree in Management or mentored with the Chairman of Chrysler Motors. You did this based on observing your own life, finding what works, finding a buddy with his own observations, and using the power of both of your viewpoints into a philosophy called HIT leading to unleash your Humble Alpha. The reason I’m making this observation is because many people believe that, “He wrote a book, he’s an expert.” I’m talking about you now, this is a guy who, like all of us, had been lost in his life and found his way just like you. This is the beauty of capturing something of value and then polishing it, perfecting it, and loving it long enough so that it becomes valuable to others. Great job, Steven.
If I can make an observation that I think would help everyone here. That is I would never be here now without the reflection of others. Lane is the reason I’m sitting here with this book. We glaze over what we do because we think it’s normal. It’s what we’ve always done. Not realizing that it’s amazing sometimes the things we do. We don’t acknowledge it because that’s what we’ve always done. Only when you’re out there and people see you, experience you and understand, and you’re like, “What’s everybody excited about?”
Until Lane says, “You’re amazing. How do you know this? Where did you learn it?” I’m like, “I just did it.” He said, “We’ve got to get this in a book. We’ve got to write it down.” That’s how it all started. I encourage people to get out there and be who they are. Do what they do and do it well because people will notice. That’s going to give you a reflection. That’ll be the mirror for you to say, “I’m having a good impact here. Maybe I should make something out of this.”
We’re at the stage in the interview where we’re going to shift gears once again. We’re going to move to my favorite two questions. It’s interesting to me because everybody’s answers are different, over 225 published interviews and not one person ever gave the same answer as another. They may name the same person, but not the same answer. Here’s the first question and it helps us as readers learn a little bit more about you. This goes to cover all eternity forward and backward. Here’s the question. Who in all of space and time would you like to have one hour to enjoy a walk in the park, a quick lunch or an intense conversation with?
Tell me why.
He was the underdog. He was out of his league. He’s this out of place guy who drove forward with a core belief. That’s number one. The most impressive part is that he took all of his rivals from the presidential election and turn them into his cabinet and they’re the ones who won the civil war. How did he deal with all of those strong personalities, all of them running for president, and now they’re in his cabinet? No one’s ever done that before or after. For me, it’s true team, it’s true culture. That’s true belief that you can overcome all of those egos, characters, and create a winning team. That changed history.
I’ve been fascinated with Abraham Lincoln since I was five years old. I know everything about Abraham Lincoln. I’ve read every book and saw every movie. Star Wars came out in 1977. It came out in the theaters. It was the first night and there were lines everywhere. I said to my dad, “I want to watch The Death of Abraham Lincoln.” He’s like, “What? Everybody is going to see Star Wars.” I’m like, “I don’t want to watch Star Wars. I want to watch The Death of Abraham Lincoln.” We sat in an empty theater watching this while my brother and sister, with her stepmom, went to watch Star Wars. To this day, I haven’t watched Star Wars.
A lot of people would tell you you’re crazy, but I don’t because that same obsession you had with Abraham Lincoln, I had with Thomas Alva Edison. I was a little boy. I read every single book in the library. My mom had to go to the librarian and say, “You have to bring in more Thomas Edison books for my son because he’s read them all.” She said, “I’m sorry, but there are no other books.” I was fascinated by this individual. I modeled a good part of my early life after the research I did on Thomas Edison. In many ways, you did the same.
One of the characteristics I want to mention is when you said Abraham Lincoln, and then you said the reason why, it reminded me of another guest who said Winston Churchill. He gave me the exact same reason you did. Winston Churchill was a loser. He was the last on the list. After everybody was turned out, he was finally appointed as chancellor. It’s interesting how life leads people to exactly where they need to be in the most non-obvious way. Lincoln, in particular, was exactly the right person out of an entire field of everybody else. Nobody knew it, even though they voted for him.
You’re right because I felt that way when I was a kid. I felt like an outsider, outcast, dorky, I was taller than everybody else. I was 6‘2” in high school, even in middle school. I always felt out of place. It’s dorky and it turned out to be a superpower. I’ve taken rivals and I’ve turned them into winners. I’ve taken rival companies and merge them. It’s funny you say that because I never thought of it that way, but it’s incredible that I modeled my life like that.
These are the lessons that we will come to in a natural way. Here’s the grand finale question. This is the change the world question. What is it that you are doing or would like to do that truly has the potential to change the world?
The Humble Alpha book will change the paradigm of leadership because it’s all about you. It’s all about your presence. It’s about you empowering yourself and believe in yourself in truth. It’s about becoming a leader from within the provider. Whatever leadership model you choose will be natural to your identity and your purpose. What we wanted to do is that we wanted to write Unleash Your Humble Alpha Citizen before the election. We believe that before we can expect someone who is leading us to make the right decisions and act with integrity, we must do that. It bubbles up.
It’s like when people say, “We have to demonstrate global warming.” I asked them, “Are you recycling?” They say, “No.” I say, “Okay then, recycle. Start the change in your world first. Have an impact in your world first, and then let’s talk about the big world.” That radiant value you create by being who you are, embracing and loving who you are with all your faults and everything that you are, and then moving it outward with a radiant value will change the world.Get out there, be who you are, do what you do, and do it well because people will notice. Click To Tweet
I see it clear as day. This book is powerful. The cool thing about it is the five principles in the book are universal. We’re coming out with Unleash Your Humble Alpha Parenting, Unleash Your Humble Alpha Entrepreneur or Veteran, and all these things because those five principles fit in every life, every language, every culture everywhere. It’s about you. It’s about the human being, and the potential that every single person has to be that person that’s already inside of them and who they’re meant to be. It’s exciting.
I wanted to highlight something you said that hits strong for me, and that is being true first to you is how you lead. It’s not what you say or how you act. It starts with living your inner truth. That has more value and is more powerful than whatever you say, or whatever you stand on a soapbox and scream. That has no power compared to demonstrating, leading life through your own values. When you said that, it resonated with me.
That’s the power and that’s where that presence comes from. You know the people that own their presence. They walk into a room, you feel them before you even turn around. They’re living through themselves. They’re present with who they are. The thing about it is they’re present in every aspect of life. That person has integrated it into every aspect of life. Whether I’m talking to Bill Clinton or George Bush or I was working for Mick Jagger or Andrea Bocelli, I was the same guy. I’m talking to him like I talk to you. I don’t change. I don’t adapt. I don’t do any of that. If I’m talking to a king or a queen, I have to do the courtesy, the hand kiss, and all kinds of stuff but I’m still me.
When I was hanging out with the royals and dating one of them, they accepted me immediately as me because I wasn’t trying to be them, I wasn’t kissing their butt or whatever. It was just me embracing who I was. They were more attracted to that than anything else. They didn’t care what I did or where I came from. They were like, “This guy owns who he is.” They’ve told me that more than once. It’s the most powerful thing we can do in life. That also helps with relationships.
This episode for me has been filled with wisdom and some incredible lessons and ideas to ponder and act on. I also wanted to recognize your expertise when it comes to financial triage. You told me a story before the show that impressed me. You also told me that you have a giveaway for our readers that would address some of these issues. Could you tell us a little bit about that?
Triage is something we do in the military in battle when we have to stop bleeding quickly. I wrote a book called Financial Triage. How do you stop the bleeding quickly? How do you stop the cost from flowing? How do you reduce costs? How do you save money? It came up in COVID when everybody was faced with this issue. I wrote it in March 2020. It goes eighteen steps on how you can immediately have an impact on your business. Things like changing a credit line into a long-term loan for lower interest, contacting your rental or your landlord renegotiating the rent, local authorities credits, lower term credits, and calling your creditors, asking for a term or holiday to do a re-analysis. There are all kinds of ways to do it. We use this in the M&A space, Mergers and Acquisitions, which I’m a senior partner in a private equity firm in Florida called Black House. We use this with every turnaround that we do and with every business that we take. We go in and we can reduce the costs, the bills, and the debt to almost next to nothing most of the time. It’s a valuable resource.
Steven, this has been an incredible experience spending time with you. I wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing so much, and being as real as you are, and showing us that it’s possible to be a humble alpha. Thank you, Steven.
Thank you. It’s easy to be me around you.
Resources Mentioned in This Episode:
- Vetpreneur Tribe – Facebook group
Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!
Join Your First Thousand Clients Community today:
Get a copy of Mitch Russo’s new book: PowerTribes and learn how to build your own tribe that automatically helps you grow your business. The link for that is https://PowerTribesBook.com