In today’s episode, Jeff Glauser shares his transformative journey from feeling stuck and unfulfilled in his mid-thirties to finding purpose and stability in his forties. Coming from a background in sports journalism, Jeff struggled with imposter syndrome and missed opportunities. Faced with financial hardships and personal setbacks, including a bankruptcy and his marriage ending, Jeff sought a path to reinvention. Through establishing ten daily habits centered on self-improvement and simplicity—such as exercise, meditation, and financial organization—Jeff slowly rebuilt his life. His story unfolds into a tale of self-discovery, resilience, and the power of incremental change, ultimately culminating in a meaningful new career and a fulfilling relationship.

Guest Bio 

After waking up to a panic attack on his 42nd birthday broke, unemployed, and soon to be divorced, Jeff Glauser finally figured out a system to unstick himself. The former journalist, professor, and sales manager committed to a series of simple daily habits that changed his entire trajectory. Now the founder of Brandscribed, he helps other high performers change their brand narrative and create the next chapter of their lives.

Turning 40 and Embracing the Bare Minimum

In this episode of the Forty Drinks Podcast, Stephanie sits down with Jeff Glauser, who navigated through a profound midlife transformation. From battling the depths of career dissatisfaction and personal turmoil, including a challenging marriage and financial woes, Jeff shares his journey of rediscovery and how he reshaped his life into one of fulfillment and success. His story is not just about overcoming, but about the strategic and mindful steps he took to rebuild his life from the ground up.

Episode Highlights:

  • Jeff discusses his early career aspirations and the repeated setbacks that led to a loss of confidence and the onset of imposter syndrome.
  • He shares the pivotal moment on his 42nd birthday that acted as a wake-up call, leading him to develop a set of daily habits that fundamentally changed his life.
  • Jeff talks about the end of his marriage and how hitting rock bottom was both a challenge and a catalyst for change.
  • The transformational power of simple daily habits that helped Jeff regain control of his life, including meditation, exercise, gratitude and managing finances.
  • Jeff’s journey to finding love again, where a simple first date after his separation turned into a life-changing relationship.
  • His career shift into leveraging his storytelling skills to help others in their professional branding, inspired by his own experiences and challenges.

Jeff’s story is a testament to the fact that it’s never too late to change your life and find fulfillment. His methodical approach to establishing daily habits that foster personal and professional growth is not only inspiring but also actionable for anyone feeling stuck in their own life. This episode is a must-listen for anyone facing midlife challenges or seeking to reinvent themselves. It’s a reminder that with the right mindset and tools, transformation is within reach.

If you enjoyed this episode, please consider rating, following, and reviewing the podcast. Your feedback helps us bring more inspiring stories like Jeff’s to listeners who are navigating their own midlife transformations.

Guest Resources

Jeff’s Offer for Forty Drinks Listeners: Become An Expert Brand Master Class

Connect with Jeff on Facebook

Building a StoryBrand, by Donald Miller

Do you have the Midlife Ick? 

Download Stephanie’s guide to the Ick to diagnose whether you or someone you love is suffering from this insidious midlife malaise. www.fortydrinks.com/ick  

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Sponsor

The Forty Drinks Podcast is produced and presented by Savoir Faire Marketing/Communications

Transcript

Stephanie: Hey, Jeff, thanks for being here today.

Jeff: Thanks for having me, Stephanie.

Stephanie: It is my pleasure. remind me where you're coming to me from.

Jeff: Sure. Just south of Jacksonville, Florida, in a nice little suburban town called St. John's.

Stephanie: That's what I thought. I thought you were a Florida guy. I woke up this morning and, it was, 25 degrees out.

Jeff: Well, I'll send some warm thoughts your way.

Stephanie: Please do. Please do. I need them. I need them. but we're not here to talk about the weather today. We're here to talk about you and your midlife transition and, how you got to where you are today, which is a much better place than you were a few years ago.

Jeff: That's for sure.

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. So why don't we start at the beginning? Why don't you tell me a little bit about how you became the person you were, like by your mid thirties, what are the forces that shaped you?

Jeff: Wow. So it was certainly a long, strange trip to say the least. I'd say growing up, I always had ambition. I don't think that was the problem when I was looking back is that I had goals. I knew what I wanted to become. What I didn't know is how to get it. So I always felt like I'm a big sports guy. So I'll use a sports analogy.

I felt for most of my career, I was sitting at the one yard line and couldn't figure out how to punch it into the end zone. So I'd always have these opportunities and when the opportunity would surface then something would happen or I would just kind of falter under pressure, and wither away and then it just became a missed opportunity and I would try to seek out that next, bridge to get me to where I wanted to go.

And it was this wash, rinse, repeat thing for so long to the point where It just wore on me. It just kind of gradually chipped away at my confidence and, brought on this level of imposter syndrome that I had when I felt like I was in a particular situation that could amount to something.

And then there were all these indicators that I was, you know, heading in the right direction. And then. all of a sudden it would just kind of come down crashing on me as well.

So, start out as an aspiring journalist and specifically a s ports journalist, as I had mentioned, and that was the goal and,as print gave way to digital, I kind of found myself scrambling and worked as a freelancer for a while and on paper, it was pretty good.

I was finding myself in these scenarios, like in the, press conference rooms and in the locker rooms and on the field and all this great stuff, but it wasn't sustainable. Around my early thirties, I was dating my wife and we started talking about getting married and having a family and at that point, I was just, you know, doing the freelance route and I started teaching a little bit on the side as an adjunct professor and both of them again I enjoyed. Neither of them were really putting food on the table. So from a financial perspective, I felt obligated to be in a better position and do something that's actually going to make me a breadwinner and that responsible adult that I'd always wanted to become. That was probably around that time when I felt that I had to start settling, that I had to start doing things that I needed to do, as opposed to things that I wanted to do.

So I fell into sales first in home improvement, which was incredibly ironic because I'm like the least handy person in the world. I'm like the anti Bob Vila, which is worse because talk about imposter syndrome, my dad was incredibly handy. My grandfather was. It clearly skipped the generation, but what I did realize, which muddied the waters even more is that I was really good at the sales side of things.

So I was good at communicating value. I was good at listening and understanding the pain points of the customer and then trying to find solutions, and that all kind of fit into something that allowed me to make a decent living for a while. So, I did that and did it for a few years and never really felt comfortable.

Stephanie: I love it because I also have a journalism background and,went to college for journalism and worked in the media for, a couple of different spots through my career.And then started my marketing agency about a little over 17 years ago.

But did you find that your journalism experience became useful in your sales career?

Jeff: Absolutely. Yes.

It all comes down to asking questions and asking the right questions to find the right answers and then to essentially create a storyline.

Which is by the way, a little precursor to where I wound up going. So a little teaser there, but absolutely, it really was a matter of figuring out what was that headline? What was the thesis statement and all that? That was a big component that at least kept me in that position, maybe longer than I wanted to, but also kept the lights on. So that was an important part.

Stephanie: Yeah I found the same thing as well in my business is that, being curious and asking great questions and being able to tease out the things that my clients don't even know that they know in order to then sort of put those pieces together into,the story that I'm going to tell or the, challenge that I'm going to help them solve.

I have always found that my journalism background came in very handy in that way. But there are lots of folks, listening who don't know sort of the journalism industry, like you and I do. Tell us a little bit about the life of a freelancer and how it works and just give us like one or two examples of like how much money you're going to make for an article.

Jeff: It's like being a doctor without the great pay and the luxury. You're always on call, there's always something where, all right, here's something you have to get to. Hop onto it immediately. Here's the directions, here's the story. Go to it and report back and next amount of time. So it's deadline oriented, a lot of, high stress,

But it was also very enjoyable because I always loved being able to identify something that would captivate an audience. So if there was some sort of breaking news, I love to be that guy. I care more about telling other people's stories than my own, so if I'm stumbling around with my own, that's probably cause I'm always graciously deferring.

You know, it's like, I'll give you an example of somebody else's story and that's probably why I love sports too, because there's always a takeaway. There was like, "Hey, did you see that game last night? And you see how, this guy played and how this worked."

Stephanie: As far as the pay, essentially, it's either per diem or per project, depending on the situation, neither of them were necessarily something that was going to allow me to have an early retirement. Or an ever retirement?

Jeff: Or an ever retirement, exactly. It was an ongoing thing. It was something where I at least felt like I was in my element. So that's where I justified to myself okay, well, I can make do. You know, I'm not homeless. I can at least eat, there's that. But I wanted more than that. I did want to start a family. I did want to be a parent. I did want to have that stability. And that's where I started becoming conflicted with my life's purpose and what that path should look like, because here I was, torn between wanting these things that really fulfilled me, and filled me, if you willand made me feel purposeful. Yet at the same time, felt like I had to compromise when it came to my career. And the more that I settle on that, the further away I got from that end goal, and the less that I felt like my authentic self.

Stephanie: Yeah, oh my God. Throughout the years, I've done just a tiny bit of adjunct teaching and, I know certainly for myself, a couple of places that I have taught, an adjunct will make, I don't know, 2, 200 bucks for a semester for one class.And then your freelance work, it's tough for people to really understand because it's like, you probably had a handful of outlets that you were regular with, right? So you knew get calls from these guys, but then it was also like, all right, well, where else? And to your point, always on call, never really know what a schedule is going to be constant hustle. And so,you know, making what, most of us would consider even a reasonable, adult income is pretty hard to do on those pieces without a bunch of luck, a bunch of,great things happening. It's just a hustle. I mean, I suppose the analogy today is the gig economy, right? this was the, probably the early days or the precursor to the gig economy is that you really were gigging.

Jeff: Yeah, and I'd say that's what I started to believe as well, is that, well, I'm just waiting for that big break, andI just need to get lucky and I'm doing what I can do. That made me even more frustrated and that made me even more disillusioned with this path that I was taking because I didn't know what else I could do. You know, I was putting in the work and I was getting the bylines and I was doing all these things and then there seemed to be this low ceiling and I didn't know how to break through it. And just at a certain point, I just decided that, you know, all right, well, maybe I'll just put this dream on hold and do the responsible thing, quote unquote, which ironically enough led to a lot of irresponsible decisions thereafter.

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. Let's fill in a little blank though. Can we go all the way back to, I think in high school or even as a kid, you wanted to be an athlete.

Right? You didn't want to be writing about it. You wanted to be doing it. So tell me about your sort of career and path as an athlete and kind of how that started and finished.

Jeff: Sure. Yeah, well, started and finished pretty quickly. That was my first, you know, great memory was, growing up, playing catch with my dad and watching sports with him, and that was kind of our bonding moments. You know, unfortunately he passed away at a young age. He was 39 I was only 10 years old but that's what I kind of kept within me is that same passion that we both had with sports. So that was the aspirational goal. But by the time I got to high school, I realized I was a little too short, a little too slow, got a little too winded, a little too easily.

So genetically it just wasn't in the cards. So I,accepted that probably by the time I was maybe 16 years old, that you know, I'm the guy that's usually getting picked close to last. You know, I might be scrappy and, maybe they like that part of it, but it just wasn't going to translate into something that I can turn into, a career.

Around that same time, though, I also discovered I had a knack for writing and, was receiving a lot of great, praise from teachers. Decided to write for the high school newspaper and, got a lot of great feedback from that. So it was around that time when I figured, well, you know, if I can't play sports, the next best thing would be to write about it or at least broadcast it or be a part of it in some way, shape or form. So that's what kind of refined my vision going into college of, all right, you know what? I still can follow my passion but just in a different way.

Stephanie: Yeah. But there was also a piece with your mom too, wasn't there? You said when you were in high school, she got into bodybuilding.

Jeff: She did. Now, she's never been a big sports fan, up until recently though, which is really funny, where she's now been following, we're both big, Philly sports fans. I grew up in the Philadelphia area, so again, I feel your pain with the cold weather. Been there, done that. But, you know, it was only in the last few years where she's been watching like the Phillies and the World Series and the Eagles and the Super Bowl and like texting me and saying, "Oh, this is great and what's going on now?" It's like, mom, where were you when I was a kid? This would have been great. So when my father passed away, my mom's escapism was fitness. So that was her way of just kind of coping and,getting out of her head and doing something. healthy and constructive, to boot.

And she really leaned into it to the point where she became a competitive bodybuilder and ultimately a personal trainer. So it was very inspirational, to see someone who didn't really have that type of aspiration throughout her life, all of a sudden in her forties decide, all right, this is something that I can lean into, and this is something that I feel very passionate about and I can make a career out of.

So we had a full gym in our basement. And, at this point, I still had that desire to become an athlete myself so I'd work out with her, and she'd kick my ass, and I'd be sore for days. And it would be very humbling that my middle aged mother was kicking my ass and making me sore for days. And meanwhile I had in our living room upstairs, you know maybe about a hundred cable tv channels, which I know is nothing these days, but you know, that was a lot for me. And that was far more fulfilling. There was some instant gratification in that as opposed to hey, listen I'm working out with my mom and it's been a few weeks and i'm still not seeing any results. What gives? At least I'm getting, you know, some sort of fulfillment with my TV.

Unfortunately, that fallback stayed with me for many years after that, you know, that quick fix. That instant escapism that wasn't healthy, and it was a hard habit to break that required me to really, I would say reprogram myself down the road in order to do so. But at that time, that's what I associated fitness with is that it's really painful and you're not going to really see any results, at least anytime soon. You know, cause Hey, it was a couple of weeks. I not seeing results? That was my teenage mind.

Stephanie: Right and that giving up was probably the easier pathway, on the fitness side. So it's one of those, lessons that we inadvertently learn that, you know, when things get hard, giving up is easier and so, it's just interesting to take that little piece and kind of know that as we go forwardin the story. So, all right, let's go back to your, early to mid thirties. You're dating your girlfriend and you guys talk about getting married and your career is kind of shifting at this time. So you're about 35 now and what happens?

Jeff: What happens is it felt a lot like, remember that talking head song, how did I get here? And, this is my house, this is my wife. And was one of those things where it just kind of gradually occurred where I just started assuming someone else's identity, you know? All right, I'm just this blue collar middle class guy that's clocking in and clocking out and paying the dues and going through the motions in life and not living with much passion and, it wasn't this thing where I discovered it, you know, one day. But just over time, I just started getting more down on myself and wondering what the hell happens.

To the point where I wasn't really thinking about long term decisions anymore. It was more of, okay, what's again the quick fix? What's the TV solution of, okay well, you know, we can't pay this bill, then let's go ahead and just, put it on the credit card and let that pile up. And we can't figure out,how to. get insurance for our soon to be born child. Well, let's just kind of figure it out as we go and if something happens, we'll deal with it as it comes. So there wasn't much foresight, and a lot of it was just I didn't know at this point, and I didn't really understand how to know it. If that makes sense?

It was just one of those things where I became trapped in this bubble of just going through the motions and living each day over and over again, this groundhog day of all right, well, go to work, come back home, figure it out, wash, rinse, repeat, and, to the point where, one day we realized that,the bill collectors were calling and they weren't going to stop and, woke up one night in the middle of the night to our car getting repossessed, and, had to file bankruptcy and it was the most humbling moment of my life at that point. Where I felt like I was not only letting myself down, but letting my family down, , And I didn't know what to do other than to just kind of double down on the work and double down on the grind and just kind of, work my way out of it.

And what I didn't realize at that point is that all that external effort and all that kind of pushing, you know, against that resistance, wasn't doing me any good because I wasn't considering the internal resistance that I had, and the internal blockages. That were keeping me from getting to where I wanted to go.

There were all these limited beliefs that I'd accumulated from all these missteps along the way with my career, with my finances, even with the relationship cause at that point, even then the cracks were beginning to show. It just got to the point where there were so many of these things that were just kind of swirling on around me that I felt the best thing I could do was just kind of keep my blinders on and just stay above water, just to stay afloat, don't completely crumble and that was my strategy for sticking through it was just survival, not necessarily thriving, but just let me just survive another day.

Looking back on that, it was a necessary moment for me because if I didn't hit those bottom points, then I wouldn't have been able to discover what I needed to figure out in life and to really kind of get out of my own

way, but it did have to start from within.

Stephanie: Oh, it's just so heart wrenching because it's all the right intentions, it's all the right wants, and yet, you know, all the oh, I don't know, this is brushing it too broadly- but all the wrong moves, right? Your heart was in the right place, your mind was in the right place, you were trying to do the right thing. I mean, and we hear so many stories these days of, you know, you said something about, you know, the blue collar middle class and that is a category of people that doesn't really exist anymore in the way that it did when our parents were kids.

or when our parents were younger, right? God, the story is so heartbreaking because I feel like all the good intentions and all the sort of the story of the man and the man's job and the man's role and you're trying so hard to fill it.

Jeff: Yeah, but you know what, Stephanie, what I've learned since then, I've learned a lot

is that you either win or you learn? You know, there are no losses because there's a takeaway with everything. So when I look back, if I didn't hit those points, if I didn't have those heartbreaking, heart wrenching moments, I probably would have just settled for being where I was.

I would have just been that middle of the road guy that was, not necessarily outwardly suffering and, you know, struggling in the traditional sense, but someone that would have lived an unfulfilled life, but perhaps, you know.

a serviceable life. And that's not what I always aspired to.

That's not what I had the dream to become. But I needed to sink lower than that in order

for me to get back up and have that comeback story that I wound up having.

Stephanie: you could not have enunciated this first of the midlife shifts any better you're exactly right on so many things. I always talk about the first adulthood and the second adulthood and how during that first adulthood, we're doing all the things we should all the things we've been told to do all the things that someone else has determined if we did them, right, they would make us happy, healthy, successful and safe.

And so we spend. You know, a lot of our thirties with our heads down, just digging in those, know, in those rows to try to get there and this point of starting to trust your own self, starting to listen to the voices inside your head and the gut instincts that are coming up even when they're, Scary questions that start bubbling up right there.

I talked to a woman, a couple of months ago who, was sitting at the top of the corporate heap,she was sitting in a conference room after a meeting and thought, is this all there is?is this it? Is this what I've been working? Like, so, you know, but those are scary things to ask when you're, you know, when you're in a situation and you were, you know, in a situation as well where a serviceable life.

Oh my God. that's an arrow to the heart just to say it that way.

Jeff: Yeah. if you're going to settle for mediocrity, then what else is there? You know, at that point, it's almost like you've grown thrown the towel and

we have no guarantee of a life beyond this one. So why not just continue to kind of figure things out along the way. And the reality is this, And I'm a true testament to it is that it's never too late to reinvent yourself.

It's never too late to follow your dreams. There's always going to be an opportunity if you continue to stay down that journey. And there have been so many instances, like I alluded to where I was this close. And then I just figured, okay, well, maybe that's as far as I can get, but I mean, I drove 99 yards down the field.

So. Clearly, I had the capability of going an extra yard further. It was just a matter of figuring out what is that right play to get it in. And I couldn't figure out that right play because there were so many instances of me coming up short that eventually that became the internal narrative. All right, well, I can get this far and then that's good enough and then You know, and then I just got to hit the reset button and start over somewhere else.

And, and that was indicative of the career path that I had as well, I, you know, eight, nine different jobs over, a 12 year span, I think it was. And, you know, that I had to constantly try to figure out, how to make something work that didn't necessarily fit my dreams.

just because I had to, but it was a false narrative. It was because I was making these limitations for myself because of this past history that I just couldn't figure out on my

own.

Stephanie: yeah. Yeah. Oh God. So this transition into second adulthood is when you start listening to your own inner voice, when you start realizing that you are the authority on your own life and you start making decisions that are more in alignment with yourself than what others have said that you should do. So how did that show up for you?

Jeff: I'd say that, first of all, I think it might have been a first adulthood. I know technically, you know, at 18 or adult, blah, blah, blah. But yeah,I felt like I still had that child mentality of retreating to the living room into my forties. So.

The reality check for me. Was when I woke up on my 42nd birthday to a panic attack and it was a literal wake up call that I needed to get my shit together.

I was now at this point where I wasn't able to function because everything was coming at me at once. You know, a couple of days prior to that, my then wife was telling me that she fell out of love with me and, she was thinking about getting separated and I was underemployed at that time.

And you remember how I told you of my most humbling experience before having the car repossessed? Well, You know, but wait, there's more. So, at that point, I was, I forced my way out. I guess I can say at this point, I forced my way out of another toxic, work situation that I felt I had to do because it was paying a decent wage, but it was also Misaligned with my integrity and my values.

I was being told to do things that weren't necessarily ethical. so forced my way out of that without having a safety net to the point where I was then underemployed. I was spinning signs. Part time, you know, 42 years old. This is a guy I've had a level of success. I was, you know, involved with, you know, celebrity athletes and in my element for a period of time.

And, I had two degrees and here I was at 42 thinking what the hell happened and then, woke up and, was struggling to breathe. And. You thought I was drowning. Now, I guess, quote unquote, luckily I had gone through these panic attacks before. So I knew that this wasn't something where I was having a heart attack.

I was familiar with the symptoms. So it was more like a, here we go again, but it was a, here we go again on my fricking birthday at 42 wondering, okay, now what, at this point I had two small kids that were counting on me to get my act together. you know, the possibility of me being on my own in the very near future and having no escape plan to figure out what that next step was going to look like.

so yes, that was the wake up call of, okay, I need to at least do something. And the biggest something I needed to do, and you kind of indicated, well, how did you start thinking about, you know, doing the plan? What I needed to do was stop thinking. The thinking was what was getting in my way. All right.

You know, for me, thinking was a doer's worst enemy. And all I was doing was overanalyzing to the point of paralysis by analysis and always trying to figure out that out and that strategy that's finally going to be that quick fix solution. and it didn't exist. So what I determined was I needed to come up with something.

Each day that I can do that, if it's not going to propel me forward, it's at least going to stop me from regressing further

behind.

Stephanie: right.

Jeff: And that's when I came up with my daily habits.

So I can, you know, I can start going into that if you'd

like. So initially, what I did was I created a list of things that I just felt were essential to being at least functional.

In my life, and I came up initially with 24 different things that I felt were essential, and I wound up ranking it from 0 to 5 as far as how well I did with each of those daily tasks. So, in other words, Stephanie, I completely over complicated the damn thing. I once again fell into that same loop of overthinking this and trying to do too much.

And, you know, and then paradoxically. Setting myself further behind, however, I committed to doing that something to the point where over the span of the next couple weeks or so I started whittling it down and simplifying to the point where I no longer ranked it and I brought it down to 10 daily habits and the goal at that point was I either did it or I didn't do it.

And it didn't matter how much of it I did. It didn't even matter how well I did. It just mattered that I was able to check it off that box and move forward to the next day and keep that chain going, that was the new strategy. And I just stuck with it because at least at that point, even though I still wasn't seeing results per se, just like when I was in the weight room with my mom, I was getting these small wins that were so important for me to validate.

All right, at least you have something to feel good about in a period of your life where nothing is feeling good. So it was a perfect example would be the exercise part. So, again, when it came to exercise, because of the reasons that I had mentioned, I never had a sustainable program. It was always fits and spurts.

I would hit the gym for a couple of weeks and then something would happen. And then I couldn't go. And then I'd get down on myself and then I couldn't go a second day. And then before, you know, it would be months and months before I would exercise again. So I reasoned with myself. All right. What if I just did one setup or one pushup?

All right, because the two excuses I always had when it came to doing the thing, whatever that thing was,was either I didn't have the time or I didn't have the energy. Well, if I did one pushup or sit up, well, I certainly have the time to do it. And if I don't have the energy to do it, then I got far bigger problems than I had thought.

So I did it. I did the one thing and inevitably what would occur is that well, you know what? I just did one push up I'm already here. Maybe i'll just do a set of push ups. All right. Well now i'm starting to get the blood flowing Maybe i'll do a few sets of push ups to the point where If I don't work out at least 30 minutes every day now, it's five years later I feel the void so the script literally flipped To the point where I was feeling a void of doing something, like I was feeling that discomfort, and now I feel the discomfort of not doing it.

And that all started with one stinking push up. And that translated to every one of these other habits, too. So, meditation is another great example. So, I'm Mr. Monkey Mind. I, you know, was diagnosed with ADD far later in life than I probably should have, but it made perfect sense looking back. I'm Because I had the chase the shiny object syndrome.

So again, anytime something didn't completely work out at the time frame that I wanted to work out, then I would just shift and then move on to the next thing without seeing it through. Well, with meditation, what if I just sat in silence for a minute? You know, even if I just had all these swirling thoughts, just observe those thoughts.

Don't self judge, just,be. All right, well, I could do that for a minute. And now again, every single day, if I'm not meditating for at least 15 minutes, then I'm feeling that as well. So it was those small little shifts that I allowed myself to do, that I gave myself permission to just embrace the bare minimum.

Because, you know, all my life, whether it was sports or whether it was sales, I would get the same sorts of cliche, speeches from people, which was, you know, whether it be a coach, a manager, et cetera, go hard or go home, no pain or no gain, just do it. Well, that never worked for me. In fact, it did the antithesis where, what if my best wasn't good enough?

What if I went hard and I still had to go home? what if, just doing it wasn't good enough? Well, now I would get even more down on myself to the point where I would just throw the white towel again. So instead I shifted that mindset from instead of just do it, just do something. You know, instead of go hard, just go, you know, go till you don't want to go, but at least you're doing something and you can keep that chain going.

And that was the game changer, really. And over the course of a couple months, maybe a few months, I actually started seeing tangible results. So now there was validation because I stuck with it long enough where now all of a sudden things were beginning to,metamorphosize and they were beginning to evolve where, oh my goodness, there's a muscle I never had before.

I just discovered that's pretty cool. Or, oh wow, you know what? I just observed this thought. I have self awareness now that I didn't have before where I can kind of slow down my thoughts enough. And, you know, and the same thing with all these other habits that I had now formed that were now making me that person that I always

wanted to be, but never knew how

to get there.

Stephanie: It's so funny because, and I spoke a couple of months ago before, you know, just to sort of get to know each other and get a sense of your story and just. Last week, my husband went to the gym and, when he came home, know, I said, how was it? and he said, Oh, you know, I didn't really have much energy.

I wasn't able to do much. And, I actually, name checked you, Jeff, I said, you know, there's this guy I'm talking to you for my podcast and you know, he talked about one pushup and one sit up. And I said, so you need to look at this today as a success because you went to the gym and sure you spent 15 minutes on the bike and then did some stretches and maybe this wasn't your biggest, heaviest, hardest workout.

But you went, that is a success. You have to stop judging yourself against professional athletes and what they do to train,

you know,

Jeff: Perspective.

Stephanie: it is perspective and it's also, it's about giving yourself successes instead of beating yourself up. there's a similarity here.

Years ago, I had,been seeing a psychic who became a friend and a mentor. And he gave me a piece of homework that I did for about a year and a half that, that, Completely changed my life and he told me at night before you go to bed, I want you to sit down and in a journal, write all the things that went well that day or things that pleased you that day.

Doesn't mean they were successful or, you know, you achieved something just what pleased you. So you write the list and then you flip over the piece of paper. And for each item on the list, you think about what talents, skills, qualities, or abilities you brought to the table that made that thing go well.

And so for me, I had two voices in my head. I've always had two voices in my head, but the

mean girl was just two. Just

to,

the mean girl was very loud and bold and forward. And you couldn't ever hear the nice girl. And so what that exercise did was it brought the mean girl back down to a reasonable size, enlarged nice girl so that I had more balance in my brain.

I wasn't just beating up on myself all the time. I could see the things that I was doing well. I could see where. I was contributing to things going well in my life. So I think that's the sort of the relation to what your exercise did in that once you start giving yourself little successes, once you start acknowledging that you are responsible for things going well in your life, not just that you're the worst person and you're responsible for all the shitty things, right?

But you can be responsible for things going well in your life. there becomes a shift And successes build on themselves as much or more the negativity does.

Jeff: Oh, yeah. Well, it's energy one way or another. What you're doing is you're either reinforcing and aggregating the right energy or you're reinforcing and aggregating the wrong ones. and what you had mentioned, by the way, you just chunk two of my other daily habits in that anecdote, as far as, gratitude.

It's huge. You know, you're bringing that right energy in and you're finding something because what I've realized is that it's impossible to be miserable and grateful at the same time. You can't have those two conflicting emotions occurring simultaneously. So if you choose gratitude and you lean into that and you kind of find something that you can bask in, And marinate in, then all of a sudden you start having that vibrational frequency that attracts more of it, just like if you're miserable and you bask in that misery like I did for so long, you're just going to attract more of it.

So whenever I had that victim mentality and that why me and why does this happen to me? I thought I was a good person. How come everything keeps up coming up short? Well, you know what you tell the universe,the universe will keep giving you. And that's what I was telling the universe is that I was unlucky.

So of course I was going to get more bad luck that came my way. And then the affirmation part of that was another component for me too, is to kind of figure out, okay, well, what am I doing? Well, you know, what makes me the best version of myself and how can I reinforce that part? and make sure that becomes a front facing, front

facing quality for me that I continue to embrace.

Stephanie: Yeah.

So yes, start from the top. Tell

us your 10 things that

you

Jeff: yeah, and there typically tends to be an order. So this is something that's still I still have the spreadsheet that I refer to every single day that I started by almost 5 years ago. 1st part is waking up at a particular time. And obviously, this is going to change for each person, depending on,

What their flow is and, where their energy is most isolated at a certain point of the day. But for me, at this point now, it's getting up at 6 15 in the morning and starting the day because I know that I'm not a morning person by nature. So it takes me a little bit of time.

To get acclimated to the day and to shake off the cobwebs. So that gives me enough time before the world starts waking up around me to get things started. And my goal is actually, I'm going to, I've been cutting it down in 15 minute increments every several months. So I'd like to get to before six, maybe by, by the end of this year, that would be nice if not sooner, but that's the first, from there it's meditation as we had talked about.

and then from there I'll do some journaling. So talk about imposter syndrome. I was this professional writer that wasn't writing for so many years, you know, it's like, well, I consider myself this writer, but where's the proof. Well, what if I just wrote one sentence? What if I just wrote whatever's on my mind, even if it's not grammatically correct?

And you know, that was hard for me to reconcile being this former English professor, even if it wasn't something that was so inspirational or uplifting, I was doing a brain dump. And that was the most important part is let's get all these thoughts out of my head. Let's figure out where my energy is at this point.

And then let's figure out what I can do to leverage that as the day moves forward. After that is the exercise that we had talked about.and then at that point, I also, started leaning into the gratitude that we also discussed.

Now, one of the things that I referenced before was the opportunity to chunk. So, gratitude, I can also consolidate with meditating. I can do a meditation on gratitude. Kill two birds with one stone. Perfect. Okay. there are other aspects like that too. So for example, networking is another one of those. So reaching out and starting a new conversation with somebody.

And a lot of this was just kind of me remembering from my past when I felt so alone and so isolated and, you know, recalling how good it felt just to make a connection with somebody else. even if it wasn't about me, and especially in fact, if it wasn't about me, if I can take myself. out of myself and just kind of reach out to somebody else and just kind of make my escapism about that for a while and about them as opposed to me.

That made me feel better too. Go figure, right? So there was that act of altruism and that was the other part. So, I grew up Jewish, so we called a mitzvah, you know, a good deed. So what if I was able to reach out to somebody new and perform an act of kindness? And just reach out to them and either, compliment them or give them some small token of appreciation or a gift.

maybe even like buy a stranger a cup of coffee, something like that. Again, it's making me feel good and it's sending the right energy out to the universe as well. So again, killing two birds with one stone right there. So there's that. personal development. So that was the other thing, especially when I had all these different ideas and all these different circumstances scrolling at once.

What I wasn't doing was focusing. I wasn't just kind of putting some undivided attention in one particular task that was going to advance me in some way, shape, or form. So whether that means picking up a book. And reading a chapter that's going to, give me some more self awareness or some more tips on how I can developmyself, whether it means, watching a YouTube video on something that was relevant or checking out a webinar, but doing something for at least 15 minutes.

That helped me feel like I was evolving as a human being. So that's something that I continue to do every day as well. and then the last one is getting to inbox zero.

So again, sometimes it could be easier said than done,

Stephanie: That's a myth. I'm sorry. That's a myth, Jeff.

Jeff: Oh, it's perspective against Stephanie.

So let me tell you, I have this sense trepidation overwhelm when I would open up my inbox sometimes and just see, like, a couple hundred unread messages, but what if I just went through and not necessarily read each one of them, but at least put them in buckets? and at least identified.

All right. Well, this is more urgent. Let me just kind of cover this right now. This I can actually put into low priority. This is, you know, about my kids school. And this is about my, you know, job related, but just. Being able to open up my email and not see a couple hundred unread emails staring at me as soon as I opened it gave me a mindset right off the bat that, Oh, you know what?

I'm at ease. This is okay. This is manageable. So, again, it was the perspective where I still might have had a whole bunch that I hadn't read, but it wasn't staring at me at the face and taunting me and giving me that level of overwhelm that was unnecessary.

You know, so that's what I mean by that is the inbox zero is just to, bucket things compartmentalize it to the point where at least there's an organization where I can always get back to it.

And ultimately, what I did to build off of that habit is I started designating days. Of the week where I can then go back so mondays for me. I don't schedule any calls typically So that's my day where I can look at my inbox and just get through all the unfinished items Get through it. So for the rest of the week, whatever accumulates that's fine.

I got the following monday To deal with it, if there's anything urgent, at least it's front facing and it's not, you know, kind of slipping through the cracks or getting lost in the

minutia there. so that's what I mean by that.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Jeff: doable.

Stephanie: I do think there was one more.

I think we're only at nine cause I'm looking back, at my list. finances.

Jeff: Finances. Thank you. Yes. And ironic that, that I missed that one considering the financial, chaos that I went through. So yes. So a big part of how I allowed myself To fall into the, for lack of a better term shit storm,that I went through was I didn't keep track of things because I knew that if I didn't have the money, I didn't want to kind of face.

You face the consequences. So I just, it was, there was ignorance is bliss to the point where it would accumulate and accumulate. And then, you know, one day you wake up and your car's not in your driveway. So for me, it was a matter of, getting a budget planner and getting it linked to all my different bank accounts and each day just checking it and again, going back to the buckets, all right, taking this expense and putting it into this budget bucket.

And making sure that I'm on top of things to the point now where it's not a guessing game. I know where every single penny goes. and I know how to stay on top of it. I can plan ahead of time as far as figuring out. Okay. If there's a particular expense. What does that mean as far as redirecting things or do I have to earn a certain extra amount of more money and putting that energy into the universe?

So, yeah. And that's all it takes. Again, you know, five, 10 minutes a day, as opposed to a couple hours at the end of the month where I'm scrambling and trying to find receipts and looking back and trying to reconcile. it was all these things that looking back, it makes perfect sense why I had these panic attacks and why I was so overwhelmed and stressed because I let all of it accumulate to the point where I wasn't able to function anymore.

Because it was all coming at me at once that doesn't happen anymore because I figured out a strategy to be proactive and to handle things in those small bite sized pieces as opposed to

kind of taking things all in one fell swoop. Let's

Stephanie: so after a couple of months of, of doing these 10 things,on a daily basis, were you always 100 percent successful or were there days where it was, you know, Oh, I got nine out of 10 or, Oh, I only got seven out of 10. Like, tell me about

Jeff: Oh, I mean, there's still days where I get nine out of 10 and that's fine. And I, it's really a matter of just being able to accept that there are days when you're not going to be perfect, but at least you put it out there and you had the intention. And really what I could tell you, Stephanie, is that there's now enough of a sample size where if I go 10 for 10, if not, if I'm not guaranteed to have a great day, I'm at least guaranteed not to have a bad one.

So there's that. And even that was a major accomplishment because I had my share of bad days and I didn't know how to get out of them. Well, hit my habits, go for 10. And there's the surefire way. So, it was a level of forgiveness that I also had to have. And that was really across the board. I had to forgive myself for the career trajectory that I had.

I had to forgive myself for the failed relationships that I had. I had to forgive myself for the negative self talk that I kept giving myself and how that set me back for so long. So that was a huge area. And the other thing was, this is that it's okay to have a mulligan. You know, if I go 9 for 10 or 8 for 10 or 7 for 10, you know, especially on the weekends, you know, I might not be as diligent.

but

it's when you allow that to turn into a trend is when the red flag starts going off. So one day I miss it, okay, things happen, there shouldn't be a second day where that happens without a really legitimate reason, you know, legitimate excuse there. So that's kind of how I gauge it is that, it's always going to be in front of me.

I'm always gonna know what I need to do. I might not always get to it for whatever reasons, but I'm not going to allow that to spiral into what happened to me when I was trying to hit the gym. I missed one day. Okay. I missed the second day. Well, it's probably gonna be weeks or months before I get back to it.

I'm not gonna let that happen to me again, because I know how great it feels. When I do hit those marks now, so why not do that? I now have enough evidence in front of me to know it's just those little things. And that's it. I don't need to do something that's so extraordinary to make this work. I can do that one push up, that one sentence, that one minute.

of observing my thoughts, that one outreach to a friend, you know, and pay him a compliment. And that's all it takes. And these are things that any of these habits that I have don't have to take more than a few minutes. And it's still gonna give me those results now, because there's been enough aggregation over time where the momentum is already

there.

And, you know, just one day isn't gonna stop that.

Stephanie: So five years later, I don't think we said this explicitly, but your marriage ended. and, tell me about today. feeling stable. You're feeling strong. You're feeling successful. Oh

Jeff: I'm living my best life and what's even more, fulfilling than that. What's even more inspirational than that is that I feel like I've only skimmed the surface. It's like, wow, I'm feeling this good. And yet there's all these things that are just kind of lying on the horizon that I can still reach.

And it's so rewarding to know how far I've come. In such a relatively short amount of time when I spent all this time in my life feeling like it was too late. All right. Well, Hey, you know, I'm in my mid thirties. I'm in my early forties. Well, I planted a flag. This is how it is, but it doesn't have to be that way.

And I, so from these habits, that was the big thing is that I was able to get my internal stuff in order. And then from there, it was a matter of figuring out how can I leverage that externally, because for example, from the relationship side of things, what I discovered is that I'm no good to anyone else, unless I'm any good to myself.

All right. So, you know, I'm always going to be projecting the person that I am outwardly of the person that I perceive myself to be internally. And for so long, I was projecting a person who was a victim. Who was self loathing, who was less than. So, how would that attract anyone, right? I did wind up, getting separated and on my very first date, maybe six months after we got separated, you know, I was encouraged by friends and family, Hey, just get out there.

See what happens and, I, wound up connecting,with someone and, we decided that we were going to, you know, go out on a first date. and my mindset at that point was, you know what?

Nothing's probably going to happen from this, but that's okay. What I'm going to do is I'm just going to, I'm going to make a friend and I'm going to be myself.

Cause that was the hardest thing for me to do throughout most of my life is to feel comfortable just being me. I always felt like I had to be somebody else, whether it means, you know, being this type of writer, being this type of salesperson, as opposed to just being me in the position that I'm in.

So I'm just going to be myself. I'm going to ask a lot of questions again, going back to my journalism roots and, and make a new friend and see what happens out of that. Well, that. First date not only wound up becoming the best first date I ever, had, but she wound up becoming my wife. And,just by, by keeping it simple, and she checked off all the boxes.

She remains, you know, to this day, my soulmate and it's because I had the right mindset going in. In fact, prior to that, Because I'm a big list guy, as you now know. I decided that I was going to create a list of the essential qualities that I wanted in a mate. So again, you either win or you learn, there were many things that

I took from my previous marriage.

and many great memories by the way, too, you know, but from the things that didn't turn out, right. What I was able to do was take that and say, well, what's the flip side of that? All right, well, if this was always happening between us, what would be the opposite of that? So I came up with a list of about 20 things that I was looking for in a mate that perhaps I just wasn't finding in a previous relationship to no fault of the other person, it's just that we weren't aligned, you know, in hindsight, and she was 20 for 20.

You know, she hit them all and I don't think that was a coincidence. I think it was because I was finally projecting that as who I was looking to associate with. Because the more people that you're associating with that have a like minded value, have like minded goals, have like minded energy, that's what you're going to attract.

The law of attraction is a very real thing.

For better and for worse, you know, so when I was a victim, I was attracting more victims in my life. Now that I feel more heroic and now that I feel more, empowered, I'm attracting more heroic and empowered people in my life as well too. So that was a big indicator.

and from there, it was really a matter of now, all right, the only thing that's really kind of missing You know, the big missing piece is that career purpose. So again, I look back at the things that weren't working for me. All right. Well, I was in these toxic, work environments, or I was trying to squeeze square peg into a round hole as far as doing something that didn't interest me or weren't aligned to my biggest skills and talents.

All right. Well, what if I were to make a list of all the things that I'm passionate about, all the things that I know I'm good at, Lean into that and see what happens. Well, I began to put that out there and on more than a few occasions when I was talking to people and saying, Hey, well, this is what I want to do.

And this is what I want to become. And this is who I am, especially with all these seemingly disconnected hats that I had worn over the course of my career, whether it be journalist, whether it be salesperson, you know, even a sign spinner and, oh, by the way, I also went back to school for film.

In between, you know, as I was chasing my shiny objects, and the one thing that I discovered as the common through line with all those disconnected paths was storytelling. So, you know, whether it be as a writer, as a teacher, as a trainer, as a salesman, if you don't have a compelling story that resonates with your audience, it really doesn't matter what else you bring to the table, it's likely going to fall upon deaf ears.

So I put that out there on more than a couple of occasions. I had people tell me, Oh, you know what? That sounds a lot like story brand stuff and you should check out this book. So, you know, I checked out a book called building a story brand by Donald Miller and, it felt very serendipitous because he uses the hero's journey as the running analogy of building a brand.

And the hero's journey was screenwriting 101 for me. So that was like, okay, well, that makes sense to me. But, what was eye opening is I never equated it to the business side of things. I always thought of it as, okay, well, that's how you write a film. You start with the protagonist and, they have some aspiration, but something gets in the way and, in comes the guide and, the wise sage and yada, yada, yada, and happily ever after.

But it was so Amazing how seamlessly those beats translated over. And at that point I was already leaning into my entrepreneurial pursuits and I had already, had a site and I was just trying to figure out how can I market storytelling and that seemed to be the missing piece. So ultimately I threw caution to the wind and I invested in myself.

You know, in the past, I would have said, well, oh, that's a huge investment to become a story brain guy because they have this high ticket certification program. and I'm just not going to do it, you know, because, well, what if it fails and what if this and what if that instead of me flipping the script and saying, what if this works?

You know, what if this is exactly what I need and, what if I don't have to say what if, because that's the worst thing is I would rather say what next than what if, what now than what if, you know, what if sucks, because you can't do anything about it, you can't go back and change the past, but you can, alter your future by making those right decisions.

So I leaned into that became a certified guide that allowed me to eat my own cooking a little bit more tap into this. identify my tribe, if you will, and my like minded audience of other people who have gone through a similar journey, people who have had a level of success in previous roles, but for whatever reason, life happened and they found themselves at a crossroads and now they're trying to figure out what next, and that's where I can now tap into my personal story.

The lessons that I've learned, the setbacks that can now serve as cautionary tales for other people and give them a plan on how they can perhaps bypass those missteps that I made. And have a more linear path to getting to where they want to go and living that purpose driven life. And for the last couple years, that's exactly what I've been doing, is finding those like minded people, giving them those aha moments, helping them craft their unique story, and leverage it in such a way where they're now seen as a thought leader in this new space.

That they can inspire others in the same way that hopefully I'm inspiring them And I can't think of anything more rewarding than for someone to feel Like they have this clarity where they didn't once have it because i've been there and I know how it feels to feel all alone and isolated and lost and overwhelmed And if I can just have one person have that revelation that they don't have to go down that path, then guess

what?

It was all worth it because

Stephanie: Right. Right. Bye. Yeah, imagine if Odysseus had made it home in, one,stretch rather than having to do all of the different, odysseys

that he

went

Jeff: It would be a really boring story,

Stephanie: it'd be a boring story, but here you are in this story, you are Odysseus and you are going to teach people how to make it home in a smoother and an easier way than you did.

I love a happy ending. I just love a

Jeff: Yeah, don't we all?

Yes.

it's

Stephanie: so

Jeff: quite rewarding.

Stephanie: Yeah. Oh God, Jeff. there's a couple of things you had,kept for me in our original conversation. So I'm, I'm thrilled. Yeah. I don't think you had told me that you went on the one date and you, you

met your

now wife. So,

Jeff: zingers at you. Yes.

Stephanie: yeah, you did. I love it. I love it. saving some details for the live show.

That's

great.

well, listen, I want to thank you for being here with me today and for being so generous with your story and sharing your messy middle. I think there's a lot for people to learn, about how you made it through and what kind of tools you created your own tools that, again, just go back to the guy who can't DIY it, you know, but you developed tools.

To pull yourself out of where you were and create a bridge to a better place. And that is heroic. That it truly is. So

Jeff: I appreciate that. And it doesn't have to be DIY, by the way. And that's if there's any takeaway here is that no great hero goes through it alone. All right. So there's always a guide for that hero. And I'd be remiss not to say that I sought out my share of mentors and share of coaches and people that I knew were going to be in my circle and on my side and backing me and supporting me along the way.

You know, there are people out there. Seek them out. don't let your pride get in the way of you living your best life. You know, have the DWI approach, the done with you approach, as opposed to the do it yourself. And, you know, it takes strength in numbers and it's a team game and we're all in this together.

So that's the big thing is that A, it's never too late, as I've proven, to live your best life. and B, it's a matter of realizing that. the energy that you get from other people and the energy that you could put out there is going to compile into this amazing thing that you can embrace moving forward.

Once you get that clarity, keep it simple, you know, simply reach out to somebody that, you know, is going to help simply do that. 1 thing. don't overcomplicate it. Because,it's a lot harder to kind of pull out of a situation once you've found yourself under this big pile of garbage

that you've created for yourself. You don't have to wait until

that point.

Stephanie: Right. Right. You don't have to wait

until it's terrible. You can start when it's just me.

Jeff: Yeah, you know, you don't have to accept mediocre. Start then.

Stephanie: Right. I love it. Jeff. Thanks so much.

Jeff: Thank you, Stephanie. It's been a pleasure.

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