Ep175: Defining Your Own Version of Success & Overcoming the Loneliness of Being a Freelancer | with Michael Bauman

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“You have to think how can I create those moments, those celebrations, the appreciation, the presence in this moment so that I can actually enjoy the accumulation of my life of days rather than trying to hang it all on one momentous achievement.”
– Michael Bauman

As a freelancer or entrepreneur, it’s easy to get caught up in “the grind,” endlessly pursuing what others define as “success,” but one of the overlooked effects of doing so is often loneliness (whether you are at the bottom or the ladder or the very top).

When I first started my career in Hollywood, I was so focused on perfecting my craft and building a resume of credits that I literally had no social life outside of work. Having friends, hobbies, and doing things outside the job simply wasn’t a priority for me…until I realized how detrimental it was for my work to become my identity, not only to my physical and mental health but also to my creativity and overall well-being.

My guest today, Michael Bauman, knows all too well the pain of loneliness as a creative professional and entrepreneur. Michael is the CEO of Success Engineering and a Tony Robbins certified coach who after failing at starting his own personal training business and having no money to support his wife (and soon-to-be child) uncovered and untangled his own feelings of loneliness and not “enough-ness” so that he could pursue a more fulfilling version of his goals. He now uses his own experiences of failure, loneliness, and hitting rock bottom to help others redefine their own meaning of success in their lives.

If you struggle with defining what success means to you, and you are often so consumed by your work and running on the empty hamster wheel chasing success that you find yourself burned out, this candid conversation is a must-listen.

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Here’s What You’ll Learn:

  • Michael’s origin story of how he started his own podcast called Success Engineering.
  • How the book, Start with Why, helped him climb his way out of rock bottom in his life.
  • What led Michael to realize that success and happiness wasn’t about money or financial gains.
  • The many moves and transitions Michael has navigated in his life.
  • Why Michael was interested in helping entrepreneurs feel like they’re enough and not alone.
  • What the different layers of success are and how you can equate it with being enough.
  • What Michael believes to be the greatest gift he can give to the people in his life.
  • The link between identity and behavior change.
  • KEY TAKEAWAY: Emotions are a warning system or a fundamental need that is going unmet.
  • A valuable tool to deal with emotions in order to enable behavior change.
  • The unexpected link between my lifelong snacking addiction and my job satisfaction.
  • Questions to ask yourself when you are caught in a bad habit or behavior you don’t like.
  • The difference between subjective and objective loneliness.
  • KEY TAKEAWAY: The quality of your relationships is a better predictor of health than your cholesterol levels.
  • Tools for dealing with loneliness.
  • The paradox of vulnerability in others vs. ourselves.
  • Why you should be “upgrading your interactions” and how to do it.
  • What James Clear’s Goldilocks rule has to do with habit change.
  • Dan Sullivan’s approach called the Gap and the Gain.
  • Using a “Done” list to celebrate what you’ve done at the end of every day.
  • What Michael does to celebrate his own accomplishments each day.
  • Michael’s advice to his younger self.
  • BONUS: The secret to upgrading your networking game.

Useful Resources Mentioned:

Start With Why | Simon Sinek 

The Gap and The Gain: The High Achievers’ Guide to Happiness, Confidence, and Success: Sullivan, Dan, Hardy, Dr. Benjamin

Podcast – Success Engineering – Michael Bauman

Max Headroom

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Episode Transcript

Zack Arnold 0:00

Hey, It's Zack here and super quick before we dive into this interview, I wanted to let you know about my brand new weekly email newsletter that I have titled The Case of the Mondays. It releases every Monday morning, and it shares my best advice, insights, resources and strategies to help you build a fulfilling creative career, doing work that you love without totally burning yourself out in the process. It's totally free and when you sign up, I'll even send you a five-day email course to help you take the first few and most important steps towards designing a career path that makes sense for you. To sign up, just visit optimizeyourself.me/newsletter.

Okay, on to today's episode.

My name is Zack Arnold. I'm a Hollywood television editor and producer, a coach and mentor, a father of two, an American Ninja Warrior, and the creator of Optimize Yourself. And I am here to help creative professionals design a career and a life that you absolutely love without having to sacrifice your health, your relationships, or most importantly, your sanity in the process. Let's dive right in and start designing the optimized version of you. Hello, and welcome to episode 175 of the Optimize Yourself Podcast. It means the world to me that with all the podcast choices that are out there you have chosen to spend your valuable time and energy today with me. I promise the you're not going to regret it after listening to today's show.

As a freelancer or entrepreneur, it is so easy to get caught up in the grind endlessly pursuing what others define as success. But one of the overlooked effects of doing so is often loneliness. And that doesn't matter whether you are at the bottom or you were at the very top of the ladder. When I first started my career in Hollywood, I was so focused on perfecting my craft, and building a resume of credits that I literally had no social life outside of work for years, having friends, hobbies and doing things outside the job. It simply wasn't a priority for me, until I realized how detrimental it was for my work to become my identity not only to my physical and my mental health, but also to my creativity and my overall well being. Well, my guest today Michael Bauman knows all too well the pain of loneliness as a creative professional and an entrepreneur. Michael is the CEO of Success Engineering, and he is a Tony Robbins certified coach who after failing at starting his own personal training business, and having absolutely no money to support his wife and his soon to be child uncovered and untangled his own feelings of loneliness and his feeling of not being enough so that he could pursue a more fulfilling version of his goals. He now uses his own experiences of failure, loneliness, and hitting rock bottom, which you're going to hear all about in our interview to help others redefine their own meaning of success in their lives. If you struggle with defining what success really means to you, and you're often so consumed by your work and running on the empty hamster wheel chasing success, that you are constantly feeling lonely or burned out, this candid conversation is a must listen. Alright, without further ado, my conversation with coach, entrepreneur and the host of the success engineering podcast, Michael Bauman. To access the show notes for this episode with all the bonus links and resources discussed today, as well as just subscribe, leave a review and more, simply visit optimizeyourself.me/episode175.

I'm here today with Michael Bauman who's an entrepreneur loneliness coach who helps entrepreneurs feel like they are enough and they know that they are not alone. He's also the host of the success engineering podcast, where he interviews everybody from Broadway directors and actors to multimillionaire CEOs, to neuroscientists, to editors of Cobra Kai, just go to their shameless plug, anybody want to look that one up? And you work on uncovering how people define success, and how the creative in their own lives which is in perfect alignment with all the stuff that I love to talk about on this show. So Michael, it's been a long time coming. I was on your show a few months ago, I promised to have you on and return. My calendar was having other ideas. But here we are really, really happy to finally have you on the microphone.

Michael Bauman 4:22

Absolutely. Thanks. Thanks for taking the time. I know it's crazy for you.

Zack Arnold 4:26

So where I want to start, it's going to be an interesting place. We're not going to start at the beginning. It might be the beginning of a certain story, but it's not the origin story per se. But I don't get a lot of fellow podcasters on the show. Everybody nowadays seems to have a podcast but I don't have a lot of podcasters that have actually done it consistently that have turned it into a business. I know how hard that is. Any one of these things in the can is hard getting 100 or 200 in the can doing it consistently and turning it into a service is near impossible. But what I've learned is that the ones that do Well, and they do it the best. There's a reason why they started the podcast, nobody says, you know, this would be fun. And I think it would be an easy way to make money. There's always a story where you feel this desire and this urge, and you say, I need to do this, and I must share these things. So I'm curious, why did you start a podcast?

Michael Bauman 5:21

Yeah, I mean, this actually does tie in with with the origin story. So it was kind of, you know, my background, I was a personal trainer, as a nutrition coach, and I, you know, go I'm gonna, you know, dive into the entrepreneurial, you know, dream, you know, make a lot of money, have a ton of freedom or whatever. So I decided to start my own online, personal training, nutrition coaching company, and I totally, totally failed at it. My wife, we found out we were pregnant with our first kid, two weeks after I quit my jobs, my wife isn't working, she's like, has morning sickness, like throwing up every single day? I'm like, literally knocking on doors, you know, be like, Hey, do you want to, you know, sign up for my personal training day? You know, of course, everybody's like, no, don't have time for that. So it was, it was like, the hardest, darkest period of our life, like we went through. I mean, just awful, awful time. And kind of is a part of that. Like, as I'm deconstructing my whole life, and I basically hit rock bottom, I'm like, Well, you know, let's just start reading a bunch of books. And maybe I can learn something in this process. So I came upon, start with why. So you mentioned the why it came upon Start With Why was Simon Sinek. And there's a part in it is, it's a little bit different than even the main section of the book. But he goes to MIT, there's a gathering of these titans, these massive, multi millionaire entrepreneurs. And the speaker basically asked the audience, how many of you have achieved your financial goals? You know, 80% of the room put their hands up. Most of them don't even have to work another day in their life. And he follows it up with how many of you feel like a success. And 80% of this room put their hand back down? And that story, it was like the inception kind of moment, right? It's like that see, do you know change everything about them? Like, that story was just so like, it just grabbed me, right? And we all know that money doesn't equate with happiness and stuff like that, but we still pursue it. And I'm like, Well, we're actually looking at how can we achieve the feeling of success in every in every area of our life. And so that's what started the podcast for me. Even the, you know, behind the name success engineering. So there are systems, there's frameworks, there's blueprints, that's the engineering part of it, that we can build success. But I'm so fascinating talking to people and pulling back the curtain on the appearance of success and going like, you know, where's the times that you felt like you're a complete failure, like, totally alone, like an imposter. And diving into that, that just fascinates me? It's, it's the why behind what I do. And so that's why, you know, like a 100 plus episodes, if

Zack Arnold 7:52

you had me at systems, anybody listening to this knows how much I love me some systems. So definitely had me to systems. There's one thing that I want to point out, though, that I think that you really kind of skirted over that I think you're just accepting as the truth and that I don't really think is the truth. You said, well, everybody knows that money doesn't equate with happiness, but we go after it anyway. So I don't think most people do know that. I think because you've gone down the personal and professional development rabbit hole, and you've talked to well over 100 people that are successful, even though they might not feel like it. You know that intrinsically? I know that intrinsically. But do you really believe from all the research that you've done that most people know that money doesn't equate to happiness? Because I don't believe that's true.

Michael Bauman 8:35

Yeah, that's, that's actually a really great question. And I would I would go back to like, you know, Thoreau, where he basically says, the mass of men lead lead lives of quiet desperation. So, so much of our life, I would say, is just on autopilot, where if we don't really intentionally define what success is for us, personally, you just default to the societal norms. And then you get to the, you know, you achieve whatever success that the society puts out for you. And you realize that like, this sucks, in some regards, like you're like, this actually doesn't fulfill me at all, or it doesn't feel like a success, or I don't feel like a successful, you know, creative person or entrepreneur with my finances, or as parent or husband or whatever, even though outside it looks like like it. So yes, I would agree. Like if we're just kind of on autopilot, that's just what we do. We fall into that rut, it's the societal norms, and we're just like, this should work. And then we find out down the road that it doesn't. And then we're like, what do I do now?

Zack Arnold 9:32

So I'm curious then if we go back even a little bit further, I love the fact that it was kind of like this. Most people I always find if you're going to distill down all the details, everybody starts a podcast because they've got a rock bottom story, everybody, at least the ones that are doing it for like the true purpose of wanting to share and learn and help other people through the struggles that they've been through. They all have their rock bottom story, right? They're always the opportunity to say who the next trend is podcast, right? There are different categories but those that really do it and are driven by it and are pulled The microphone to share they have a rock bottom story. But I want to go back even further. And I'm curious why you decided specifically to get into fitness and nutrition and what your definition of success was back then.

Michael Bauman 10:11

Yeah, it's something that I didn't, you know, I would, I didn't really think about as much at that point, you know, at that point, I wanted to help people. So I'm like, I want to help people. I love sports. And so I was like, let's kind of put them together, right. So then I'm doing the personal training, helping people. And I realized really quickly that, you know, most people that are going to the gyms want to lose weight, and exercise doesn't really do it, exercise by itself, doesn't really do it. So then I realized, like, oh, it's actually mostly about nutrition, like, that's gonna be your 8020 kind of thing. So it's mostly about nutrition. Let me learn about that. And then it's like, it doesn't matter how much I know about, you know, gluconeogenesis. And what happens with carbohydrates breaking down in your body, if I can't coach the person in front of me to actually have three servings of vegetables. So then I was like, let me learn about change psychology and behavioral psychology and actually understand, you know, motivation, and how do we how do we navigate actually getting these behaviors to stick in real life. And so I wouldn't even say at that point, I had a clear definition of success. It's just kind of like, you know, I did that in college, and I came out of college, and you're just just your job, you know what I mean? And you're just kind of figuring stuff out at that point. But it was this iterative process where all of these different components, whether it's the health and fitness side of things, and then layered on to the behavioral change layered on to, you know, neuroscience and psychology and philosophy. They're just kind of building this thing, where now I'm like, Oh, this is where I want to go. And this is what I want to want to do in terms of helping people.

Zack Arnold 11:44

Yeah, so when it comes to habit formation, and all a lot of other neuroscience and change behavior, we're gonna get into a lot of that later, because, as you probably already know, I'm a giant habits nerd, just like you are, I think we have slightly different, you know, messiahs, mine is James clear years as BJ Fogg. But we essentially speak the same language, you know, tiny, little habits, tiny changes, big results. So I want to get to a lot of the nuts and bolts of that a little bit later. But for now, I want to dig a little bit even deeper into the psychology of this idea of you came out of college, you said, Well, I want to help people, I didn't really define success, I think it's a really common trap. And really, it's a trap that's designed this way, by society. And by the the way that our economic system is designed, you're supposed to be a cog in a machine. And success is defined as I'm going to earn the most money, or I'm going to get the awards, or I'm going to get the prestige or I'm going to get the title. And I think that one of the misnomers that a lot of people fall into myself included is the idea that, well, I can do all of those things. But as long as I quote unquote, follow my passion, it's all going to be fine. But following your passion and defining success, I feel are two completely different conversations. And you kind of have to align with both because I followed my passion. From the age of eight years old until about 35 years old, I lived in breathes film editing, that was my passion. But I hadn't aligned the passion with what is my definition of success? It was what is the definition of success as an editor? Well, it was working on the shows that get these ratings, or this many people go to the theater, and they make this amount of the box office and you get awards. Right? And I'm not going to go too deep into my story again, because many people that listen to the show, no. And I told you, kind of my rock bottom, you know, realizing I didn't have a definition of success story, which was working on this huge number one show at the time, which was empire and realizing I was putting my kids to bed via FaceTime, like that was it that was my personal Rock Bottom story. And people say, Well, you were paying all your bills and your oil. How's that rock bottom? You weren't homeless? And you weren't an alcoholic? Like on the street? It's like, Yeah, but for me emotionally, I was completely and totally empty. So I'm curious. If we separate the I'm following my passion, I want to help people from the success side of things. It's one thing to say, alright, it's not going well, and I can't get clients and I'm banging down doors. But when was the moment that you realized, even if I were quote unquote, successful, this isn't really what I want to pursue?

Michael Bauman 14:07

Hmm, great question. Yeah, I think it was when he just I'm in the fitness world, and I'm surrounded by all these fitness entrepreneurs, and you know, we're going to these conventions and stuff like that. And all of them are geeking out about optimizing, you know, squat form, and you know, the perfect kettlebell swing and stuff. And I just sat back and I was like, I don't care. Just, I don't care about that. And then you have to ask the question, what, what do I care about? And I realized that that period, it was while nutrition and exercise is a slice of the pie. It's not the whole thing. And I actually care about the whole thing, like I care about the person as a whole and even some of the clients that I would work with as a personal trainer, you know, they they're buying Porsches in in cash and have tons and tons of money. but they are stressed out of their mind traveling all the time, you know, drinking massive quantities of alcohol on the weekend. And then they're divorced and their life is awful. And I just looked at that, or the other, you know, clients that I have, where they grew their businesses, their whole life, they got the perfect thing, right, their business got bought out by massive company. So the just the Golden Handshake, you know, what every entrepreneur dreams of doing, and then they left their health, like on the road, you know, 15 years back, and they want to take these trips to Europe, and they can't climb upstairs, you know, like, they have a double knee replacement and, and you're just like, wow, you invested all this time. And then you get here. And you can't, you can't enjoy the life that you wanted to do, or you sacrificed decades to get to a spot that you don't want to be. So I had to step back from going, what am I really passionate about? And ask those questions, and then start to round it out. And like I care about the whole person, I care about these people that might be successful. On one hand, what about those other areas of your life and that, for me, a lot of a lot of it was just like these little building blocks, you know, we talked about habits, it's just like taking these little building blocks and going, Oh, let me put that here. And then you realize at the end, you're building something. But at the start, you're just maybe laying a foundation and you don't see the picture at that point.

Zack Arnold 16:16

So going to this idea of laying the foundation, you kind of talked about how you had gone through deciding I want to be an entrepreneur, my wife wasn't working, all of a sudden, she's pregnant, everything's not going well. But there's a part of it that I think is really important. It's this idea of transitioning through this period of life, you also made a pretty significant move, did you not, which includes where you're living now. So I feel like we kind of buried the lede. This is a big part of your story. So talk to me about this transitional period, because I think it's going to be really both inspiring, but it's going to be you know, really eye opening for people that are thinking the transition they're trying to make is hard.

Michael Bauman 16:50

So to give a little further backstory, so I grew up in Papa New Guinea, just about you born there, my whole life grew up until I came back to university and went to college in Indiana. My wife grew up in Turkey, and same kind of thing born their whole life until going to college. And then we're in Indiana for you know, four years and from Turkey and Papua New Guinea to Indiana,

Zack Arnold 17:13

of all the places to meet Indiana like what you you couldn't write that story. People wouldn't believe it.

Michael Bauman 17:18

Yeah, a lot of cornfields not a lot of for us personally, right? There's different different folks. If we were like, man, we got to, we got to get out of here. And so when just our whole life, you know, imploded. We're basically like, well, let's just look, you know, my wife's a teacher. So she's like, let's just, you know, let me look at jobs overseas, right? So we're looking at these jobs overseas, and we're like, what's the worst that can happen? Right, we move, we move overseas, it's awful. And then we come back, and then we just find another job. So might as well give it a shot. And then there's the you know, The Road Less Traveled kind of idea, the where I asked myself the question, if we didn't move overseas, and I looked back on my life, what I always like, regretted even though like a good potentially create, you know, I could create a wonderful life in the US. But I was like, what I always be like, What would my life look like if I had actually gone overseas? So we decided to do that. My cousin was principal at a school in in Shanghai. And so we moved overseas, and it was actually the best best decision we've ever made. And so we love it here as well. And then what that allowed me to do is actually have the freedom and the bandwidth and stuff like that to then start digging in and building, you know, success engineering and going like, what am I passionate about who I want to work with the podcast, you know, all of that. So, yeah, there was there was a big transition there, but it paid off. And even goes back to that, you know, the quote, like what's on the other side of fear? And a lot of times it's nothing, you know, we have so much fear just because it's unknown. But actually, the life that we have right now, is 10 times better than what we'd have in the States at this, this current, this current point. So definitely a good decision for our family.

Zack Arnold 18:59

And just to clarify, you are where

Michael Bauman 19:00

exactly now now we are in Hangzhou, China, which nobody's probably heard of, but it's a city of 9 million people. So same as New York City, basically, it's two and a half hours away from from Shanghai.

Zack Arnold 19:12

Yeah, so I actually did a tour all around China and Southeast Asia for a movie that I worked on years ago. So as a total side note, I spent like three, four months immersing myself and learning Mandarin and becoming conversation. I've lost all of it. Now I can remember like one phrase. But I've that is actually one of the cities I think either visited it or was close to it. But I can relate at least a little bit to having been there for a couple of weeks. What a giant cultural shift it is. It's one thing to say I'm going to go overseas and go to Europe, right? different languages, different cultures, but it's still that westernized culture. But when you go to a truly Eastern culture, and I was in Beijing and Shanghai and Guangzhou and a couple other like smaller cities as well, and it's just like it's a completely different world. And I can't imagine going through everything that you went you're also dealing with this massive cultural shift. So I would guess, and you can correct me if I'm wrong, that some of the things you teach now that are so unique about being not just a coach for entrepreneurs, but a coach for entrepreneurs that deal specifically with loneliness, which talk about a niche, I would guess that some of that came from that giant move that you made, did it not?

Michael Bauman 20:20

Yeah, I mean, loneliness, you know, some of the things is that the things that we struggle with or overcome in our past are the areas that we can then, you know, help other people with. So when you're in that international scene, a lot of times, there's just a revolving door of people coming in and coming out of your life, like I remember, in third grade, like my best friend, left forever, and I've never seen him again, since then. And I still remember just crying my eyes out, going, like, this hurts so bad, you know, like your friends that you have. And it's, it's becomes a part of your your life. So on one hand, there's a lot of a lot of loneliness, a lot of pain associated with that. But then there's also strengths that you develop out of it. So when you move to different cultures, or even different cities, or places, or even connecting with people, there's these skills of observation that you have that you can, you know, pick up on the patterns, pick up the cultural things. And actually leverage that to connect with people quite rapidly, is one thing. And then also, you get this beautiful picture of the world as a whole. And you realize that, you know, something, there's something beautiful over here, and you're like, I love that about this country, or this people grip. And what about this, like, there's something beautiful that these people do? So often, we will focus on the differences that we have in between people, but it's like, no, there's so much beauty. There's so much joy, like, you know, like even kids, right? Like, I would say, bubbles are the universal Joy constant. Like everybody gets halfway every kid even like adults, right? We pretend not to but we see bubbles, we're like, that's fantastic. There's these things like joy and, and you'll see these threads throughout it. And you can take these beautiful things that different cultures have to, to actually just create, use that to meld into your definition of success, so to speak.

Zack Arnold 22:00

Exactly, yes, I love all that. And what I would love to dig even deeper into now talking about all these different origin stories and all the different parts of kind of your journey to get where you are now, I got to say as soon as I go to the homepage of your website, and I'm going to read it verbatim, let me get it back in front of me. It says I am Michael Bauman, I help entrepreneurs feel like they are enough and that they are not alone. That's a bold statement for a business coach. It's one thing to say I help entrepreneurs find success and triple their revenue or double their client base. And you're just like, I'm going to help you feel like you are enough and you are not alone. Why decided to go after such a bold niche with entrepreneurs,

Michael Bauman 22:40

because it's so needed. And because I have felt it so much in my own personal life, like a lot of times we as entrepreneurs, or just people in general, we build these vast empires of accomplishments, because we don't feel like we're enough. Like, there's just this hole that we have. And it's an internal problem that we just pour external solutions on. And it never actually addresses the internal problem. And it's so important. There's so much emptiness and loneliness behind the appearance of success. So I would say there's different when I if I'm defining success, I would say there's almost different layers of success. On the surface layer, you have the appearance right, you know, that's what we all know, the social media, you know, the amount of you have in your retirement, the cars, you drive, the houses you own, whatever that is, underneath that. You have the feeling of success, and actually going How can I feel like a success. And I feel like they're so interchangeable, that sometimes I use the word enough, or enoughness. Just as you know, the corollary with with success, like how can I feel enough? As a father? How can I feel enough? With my wealth? Like how much is enough? With my wealth with my finances? Like, how much is enough with my physical body? Or what is what would success actually feel like for my physical body, I can be on the cover of GQ Vogue and actually hate my body. So there isn't that correlation between the appearance and then the feeling of success. So in that area, you can take the different areas of life, so physical, you know, spiritual, relational, mental, emotional, financial, and you can go what would actually feel like a success in those areas. And then you can further refine it based on values so you can take the values of freedom, and ask that question and every single one of those areas so what would freedom feel like in terms of my wealth? What would freedom feel like in terms of my body for some people, that's I summited Everest and other people that's like, I can get up and down off the ground and play with my grandkids like it feels like freedom, right? And you can ask that in each of the areas you can also ask you know, what is you know, what would peace or satisfaction or contentment feel like in terms of my body, how can actually be content with my body? How can it be content with my wealth, you know, and then you can have areas of joy like what brings you life? What makes you come alive in those different areas and Passion, or even like what is beautiful about your body, what is beautiful about money, and you can explore those, you can use those values to just niche down on what the feeling of success would be in each of those areas. But then underneath that, I feel like there's even a deeper level. So to feel like a success in those areas, at least on a long term, you have to you have to look at and really dig into your narratives, your stories, your identities, your the mindset that you have, because that dictates how you feel the stories that you're telling yourself dictate how you feel. That's a huge thing for James clear, in atomic habits, like how can you actually create your identity first, and then build habits out of your identity. And then underneath that, I would say there's even you know, another layer, which has to do, you know, as cliche as it sounds, but would happen, it has to do with presence, like actually being here in the moment, I feel like, for me, if I push them to success, one of my personal definition of success is how can I shift from going, I was x productive in my day, to going like, experiencing the day from a degree of presence, I think is the biggest gift I can be with myself, like actually going present with my emotions and what I'm feeling, it's the biggest gift I can give to my, my, my wife and my kids, or any person that I meet. And it's also how I would say I could live life with minimal regrets knowing that every single moment I tried to be fully there. So those are just the kind of levels of success. And I feel like it's really important to unpack that, and really think deeply about it, especially now, with COVID. Just blowing the world up, we have an opportunity to think about those questions and go, like I did, right when my world was junk, I have an opportunity to rebuild it. But what do I want to build

Zack Arnold 26:49

so many things to unpack so many good things we could dive into? There's two or three specifically that I do want to kind of really dig deeper, one of which is this idea of identity. Another one is this idea of the word enough and enough Ness, I think both of these are really, really important to get into. I am totally on board to this idea of you have to understand your identity before you worry about behaviors, worry about habits and whatnot, going all the way back to the beginning where you said, Well, my clients is a trainer, they know they're supposed to have three servings of vegetables, but they never eat them. Why I gave them the information. I showed them the pamphlet and they had the calories. They know why it's better to have carrots than Oreos, right? We all do. It's not a problem of information. It's a problem of emotions and behavior and habits. And I would like to help anybody that hasn't gone down this rabbit hole yet this listening or watching to better understand an example what does it mean to assign an identity to something rather than I just put something on a to do list or you know, willpower my way through it like, but let's talk about a very concrete example about how I can assign an identity to something to change a behavior for the better to move me towards that definition of success,

Michael Bauman 27:57

he has a really interesting question. And there's a there's I mean, a world of work that goes on behind it. Because you know, the person that we show up with today is the result of decades of you know, conditioning, societal conditioning, familial conditioning, you know, trauma, micro and macro trauma that we've had. And so there's a lot to unpack there, I would say the, the easy route to do it, at least to start with is, you know, let's say you're wanting to make a change in terms of, you know, losing weight or getting, you know, more healthy or more fit, or, you know, whatever it is making more money, you know, look at the people that you see that are doing it. And ask ask yourself, you know what, like, they view themselves as you know, a fit person or a healthy person. And so when you're asking that question, almost in proxy, sometimes sometimes you have to start with something external from you, because you don't know where to start with something internal to yourself. But starting with a proxy for yourself and going like, what would they what would they do? What would they how would they process the situation? What questions would they ask, coming from a place of identity as a fit and healthy person? Because they make different choices. They hang around different people, they choose different food choices, they make different activity choices. Same with business owners, they think differently about the value of their time and where they want to allocate their time and how can they delegate other things to other people, like there's a total different mindset. And sometimes when you're not at that mindset, initially, you have to look at somebody else and try to start from that point. Then if you're if you're looking at starting from yourself, you can use your emotions as signposts that actually point to these different very fundamental values that sometimes you have, whether it's like, the things that you get really frustrated about that just like crank you up. A lot of times there's something underneath that. That is a deeply held value that you have, that is why the injustice of whatever is going on in relationship to that is winding you up. So you can look at those emotions and kind of unpack and go, What am I? What do I really value, like what is winding me up about this and sometimes it's easier to find, you know, we can talk about the passion side of things to there is that aspect and you can explore that and and explore, you know, flow states and where you really find your enjoyment and lose track of time, that's another avenue to do it. But with emotions, people don't realize that a lot of times emotions are our bodies, our warning system, they're saying like, just like pain, if you put your hand in a fire, it's your way of saying this hurts, you're hurting yourself move out of this situation, motions are the same kind of thing. They're, they're saying something is wrong. So they're a warning system, or they are basically referring to a fundamental need that we have underneath that that is going unmet. So you can actually ask when you feel certain emotions, you can ask, well, first of all, you can see like, where am I feeling this in my body? And you can ask, what are you protecting me from? Is an injury? Like a really fascinating question. Like if I if I'm feeling angry, or if I'm feeling, you know, or have an addictive behavior, or whatever it is going like, what are you protecting me from because if we view the behavior, or the emotions is actually a positive thing, there's something underneath that it's trying to keep us safe. And that's the same with not enoughness. Right? It's protecting us from this childhood history that we've had, that we've just conditioned ourselves to not feel like enough, because we have to perform on ourselves because of some pain that we've had in the past. So when you ask that question, what are you protecting me from? And then you just layer it on top of each other? So you go, you know, maybe it's, you know, what are you protecting me from? And it's like, from getting hurt in some way. Okay, great. If I was completely and totally self, like safe, what would be even more important than that? And you asked yourself, oh, maybe it would be to receive love, right? It actually to feel like I'm loved. And then you can just keep going down. Like, what if I was completely and totally loved what would be more important than that? Maybe it's actually to take all of this love that I feel and to give it out to other people. And then you can ask like, you know, if I was totally doing that, what would be more important, and you can, you can go down pretty deep in a very quick period of time, to get at some very deep intents and purposes and values, that the emotion is what is a trigger or a signpost for, so we typically repress it, we ignore it, we say like, this is not a problem. And then we end up in all these numbing addictive behaviors, because we don't know how to handle those. So that's just like a really simple kind of thing. But that can get you very deep, and very intentional, quite quickly,

Zack Arnold 32:44

once again, a whole lot of amazing stuff to unpack. And what I want to do is I want to try and take this and simplify it and give people an example that I'm going to use for my own life. Just off the all the things you were talking about resonate with me so much. And it made me think back to several things. And like you said, there's so many layers in the way that I talk about it in my program is like you're peeling all the layers of the onion until you get to the Senate, right. So if we're talking about this idea of addictions or behaviors, first of all years and years of not even being aware of certain behaviors, one of them for me that I've talked about in the past, is my propensity to just fill my face with junk food all day long, like I am just, if I have one addiction, I probably have more than one. But probably the unhealthiest one that I've been fighting for years is snacking. I'm not somebody that needs to go out and have four pizzas or drink a, you know, a case of beer or anything like that. But snacking is my nemesis. And for years, it just was one of those things, it was an unconscious behavior. Then I started doing some of the work that you and I are talking about. And I realized there were certain triggers going to this idea of habits, right, there's always a trigger, or a cue that leads to a behavior that leads to a reward the trigger for me and it took years to figure this out. Because people say, well, the trigger is you're hungry, or it's the sugar or whatever it was, but it wasn't the trigger for me was boredom.

Years and 1000s of dollars to figure out that one thing anybody listening, you just got that one for free. Cuz I bet I'm not the only one. But it goes a whole lot deeper than that. But I'm starting at the surface. I was trying to figure out why is it that I need a bowl of m&ms next to my keyboard all day long. I don't get it. It can't be that hard to replace the m&ms with carrots or almonds or something else. But I could not creatively work unless I had a never ending. It was like a Mary Poppins bowl. It just never ended or just always there all day long. When I was in my 20s, who gives a crap. All of a sudden I'm getting into my 30s and like my pants don't fit anymore. I can no longer see any of my muscles and I'm having a hard time getting off the floor. Hence the whole journey into Ninja Warrior which is a whole other series of podcasts. The point being that I found this trigger. And when I started to dig deeper into it, well, how can I possibly be bored? If I'm doing something that makes me look successful? I was editing high profile television shows I think at the time when I started to realize this. The image that keeps coming into my mind is when I was working on gleam, Glee had the most amazing snack wall I've ever seen in a job ever, like 10 Different kinds of Frosted Flakes and all the crunchy stuff and all the sweets, like everything, it was like this never ending wall floor to ceiling of snacks. And I just went crazy. But then I started to think why am I doing this? Okay, well, it's because I'm bored. Well, why am I bored? If I'm working on something that I enjoy? Well, wait a second. Do I enjoy it? Am I really passionate about it? Or is this a signal? Because I didn't used to have this problem when I was in my 20s. Like you were saying, I would constantly get into this flow state, I would work for hours and hours in the world would disappear. And I had the opposite problem. I would go hours and sometimes even a day or two without eating, I was so deep into it. I got to the point once where my wife, my girlfriend at the time, she's like, Do you realize how much weight you've lost? I'm like, no, and then also knows looked at the scale like, oh my god, I lost like 15 pounds. I wish I had that problem today, dear Lord. But the point was that this behavior shifted, what I started to realize was that I was losing the the passionate connection with my work by doing this deep working, it was becoming more of a job. But then I started to dig even deeper going into this idea of identity. And the identity in my head, or the limiting belief that I had, or the script that kept running was you have to love what you do. And like, oh, I don't who says that dug even deeper, peeling more layers of the onion. Oh, that's a lesson that has literally been branded and tattooed to the inside of my skull. Since I was a toddler by my father. How dare you choose to do something that you're not passionate about that you don't love? So it started with? I'm eating m&ms all day long. And I don't want to gain weight and I want my pants to fit to why am I doing this to wow, I'm maybe I'm not as passionate about my job anymore. As I thought, Well, why is that important to me? Oh, because of all the things that I've been hearing my entire life. So it was just this whole unraveling. And then I realized that it wasn't necessarily the job I was doing. It was the stories that I was telling. Right. So I'm doing the same job now on Cobra Kai, that I've done on shooter that I've done on Empire that I've done on Glee that I've done on Burn Notice that I've done on umpteen million independent films nobody's ever heard of, I've done the exact same thing from the time I wake up to when I go to sleep, I get in front of a computer, I open up a bin, I watch footage, I cut it together, I don't snack all day long working on Cobra Kai, my entire world disappears unless, of course the puppy needs to go outside. Other than that, if I unless I get interruptions, I can just get sucked into this world. Because I feel an emotional connection to the work and the stories that I'm telling. And more importantly, and this goes back to what you were saying with your story, the impact that I'm having on other people. So I want to talk a little bit more about defining success as far as not just what I'm getting myself, but the impact I'm having on others and how that relates to loneliness, in your experience in the experience of your clients. Because I think all of these things are really intertwined.

Michael Bauman 38:01

Absolutely. And I mean, again, there's tons tons of what you said, that's just really, really phenomenal. I appreciate you, obviously sharing the story, and you've done it, you know, on a podcast for quite a while. But some of the things that stood out, I want to give a couple couple just basic tools that people can use to just start start this process. So he talked about, you know, just the these layers, and there's a tremendous amount of deep work that he had to go through to get to that. But where you can start is when you find like a lot of times we think our behaviors like you said, you know, just these m&ms, we think it's just like, oh, it's because I'm hungry. And it's just like I found myself eating m&ms, a lot of times, it's the end of a long chain of events and situations and feelings that then bring us up to that point. And so a super great awareness tool, is when you find yourself doing behavior that you don't enjoy, just stop and take a moment and go, What am I thinking about right now? What am I feeling physically in my body? What am I feeling emotionally? In my body? Where am I? Who am I with? What time is it? And then you can start to incorporate your own basically incorporating, like you said, there's an aspect of environments, right, you have a snack wall, literally floor to ceiling. So there's an aspect of environment that's cueing that behavior. But deeper than that, there's these aspects of emotions and feeling the these behaviors that are driving it and you know, also the avenues of the people that you're around. And, you know, as you mentioned, am I making a difference? Is it an outward focus or an inward focus? So taking those questions like What am I thinking, what am I feeling physically? What am I feeling emotionally? You know, where am I? What's the environment? What are the people, you know what time it is, and then just backtrack it as far as you need in terms of data going like two hours back, maybe a day back or a couple days back? And if you do that even just for a tiny little little bit, maybe like a week or something, you'll start to notice these patterns, you're like, whenever I feel like this, I end up doing this behavior that I don't like, whenever I'm with these people, I end up doing this behavior that I don't like, you know, and you'll notice, you'll start to notice that cue. And that's where you can begin to go, Oh, what is really going on here? The other thing that he mentioned is like that, that aspect of just questions. They're just beautiful at taking things from here, and just going a little bit deeper, like what is really going down. And let me not just process this cognitively. But also try to process it somatically as well in our body, because our body, you know, Keeps the Score. There's so many things that we hold the trauma, we hold the stress and stuff in our body. So totally forgot what you asked as an actual question. But I wanted to put that in there. You're talking something about loneliness. So asking,

Zack Arnold 40:46

yeah, so essentially, what I'm trying to better understand is how loneliness factors into this idea of you know, I've got these things on the surface level, and I noticing that maybe I don't have the passion for my work anymore. All these things that we've talked about, I want to really understand how loneliness factors in and some of the, the, I guess, the practical stories that you've heard from some of your clients, if that's an easier way to put it. But I want to get a sense of no matter where we are in our career, like you said, these people that say, I've never have to make another dollar in my life. Not only do they feel they're not successful, but there's a lot of loneliness associated with it. I think it's better to understand that specifically for people that do creative work, and how that is just kind of part and parcel with the process. Because in order to really do great work, there have to be periods where at least I believe I'm not saying this is the gospel. My own personal opinion, having been doing this for you know, 25 years now is that you can't do great, important creative work by just picking away things during the day. And you know, making sure you answer all your emails and you go out to the the mixtures afterwards. And you make sure you go out nights and weekends. Like you have to, I'm not saying you can't do those things. But there are periods of time, where you just have to put the blinders on. And you just do amazing work. That's the only way to get amazingly good at your craft, to meet the right people to network, whatever it might be, you really have to put yourself out there. But that requires making sacrifice. And I remember for me the first three years of my career in LA, I knew nobody outside of the office, no one I had zero relations outside of the office. And I was so intensely lonely like physical pain, loneliness, I never experienced anything like it. And then I was fortunate enough to meet my wife, I think it was two and a half or three years after I moved out to LA. And that certainly changed things. But I remember how intense that was and how it actually derailed my creativity in my progress. So I'm, I'm curious what stories either you have or you have from your clients, obviously keeping them anonymous, to really help creative people that are listening to understand that loneliness is not something you're doing wrong. It's part of the process.

Michael Bauman 42:57

Oh, man, you just you just opened the box here. So here we go, we're gonna dive dive into a lot of the the neuroscience behind it. So one thing that you talked about the all of the research that I'm going to talk about right now has to do with the subjective feeling of loneliness, as opposed to the objective loneliness. So you can be, you know, tracking through, you know, the Pacific Crest Trail, or the Appalachian Mountains or whatever, and be alone for ages of time and not actually feel lonely. You can also be in a party, surrounded by people and feel utterly and completely alone, or in a marriage in a relationship, whatever it is, you're gonna feel utterly and completely alone and all the negative effects of loneliness, the chronic loneliness has to do with subjective loneliness. So with that being said, you talked about actually feeling it as a physical pain. And this is what people don't realize. So basically, loneliness lights up the exact same pain network as physical pain in your brain, which is, which is crazy to be right. If I break my leg, I go, this is serious, I have to go to the hospital and get this fix, right, because I'm wanting a ton of pain, pain, like narrows our focus down onto something is wrong that we need to change. And we don't realize that about our emotions and about loneliness as well. So loneliness, it lights up the same exact network in your brain. If you bash your shin against a table, besides like, swearing First off, like, the second thing you do is you actually rub your shin. And the reason for that is it makes it not feel as painful. Well, that doesn't make sense because it's the same stimulus, it should feel the same amount of pain. So what's happening you have two different types of neurons in your body. This is going to do this really quickly. There's myelinated neurons, unmodulated neurons, you know, myelinated basically insulates it, it travels faster. So sensory when you rub it, it's a faster neuron and it goes through a spinal gate in your spinal column. then your brain interprets it. So what happens is, pain is a slower stimulus. And when you rub it, the sensory nerves get there at first and the brain goes, it's not as painful, but the stimulus is the same. So even if physical pain is an interpretation of something in your brain, it's the same with loneliness. And we have the words for it, right? When we say, heartache, right, it's the same as stomach ache, and headache, right? They broke my heart, right? It's the same as I broke my leg, we have this language that tries to express it, because it is actually the same thing. But we don't treat it the same. So loneliness, acute loneliness, what it does for us is it actually stimulates us to reconnect with people. So it's realizing there's a fundamental need that we have. And some researchers even argue it's more fundamental than food and water. Because as infants, if we don't have a connection to a primary caregiver, then we won't get food and water and we die. So this is very hard wired aspect in when we are disconnected from a social group, or we've all seen the nature documentaries, right, like a lonely road that just gets pounced on, like a pride of lions, right? That same thing, when you're separated from a social group, you feel the anxiety almost as a physical threat. It's almost like this is really, really bad, because you're separated from the safety of a group. And then you have all of this research on it. Harvard did a study called the Harvard study of adult development. And it's the longest longitudinal study ever done to basically track these people when they're sophomores in college, to when they died, some some of them in their 90s, and is saying amount of data, data on everything from marriage to relationships to physical health, all this. And they found that actually, the quality of your relationships at age 50 is a better predictor of your overall health and your cholesterol levels. And then there's tremendous research around loneliness affecting, like you mentioned, you know, productivity, they did all these studies, where basically people that were instigated to feel more lonely or socially rejected ended up eating, like you said, m&ms, but in this case, was cookies, like they actually did a study, they double the amount of cookies, after feeling socially rejected as part of this study, than people that did it. And so any of those regulatory behaviors, which is what productivity is, how can I regulate my focus into these moments is actually affected by loneliness, and people made poor decisions, you know, all the research around like, they were doing these difficult math problems, they had, you know, more trouble with it, after, you know, being induced into like, a socially rejected state. And so it actually affects you. And that's, that's what I'm wanting to say with this is like, we treat it as like a side effect, right, you have a productivity, and then I have my relationships, and it's on the side. No, it's the same thing as pain. It's it affects productivity, it has massive health effects, chronic health effects, similar to smoking, obesity, and exercise. So it's something that's really, really important. So that's kind of the research behind it, some of the things that you can actually do to address it. First off, it's important to realize 50% of the loneliness that you feel is genetically pre determined, so you can't control it. But when you can have compassion with yourself, some people can move, like next door to their family and feel like really, really alone. And other people can move all the way across the world and not feel alone. So some of that's genetics, the rest, you can address it with cognitive things, emotional things, I gave you one of those tools, right? Emotionally, you can be like, you know, what are you protecting me from? Right? So when you ask that question, you can dig deeper into the emotional side. But someone, just the simple external things you can do is shifting your focus from internal to external, and basically, being curious about people, like every person that you meet, basically, can I be more curious and go, especially around the areas that they might be suffering and having struggle in, because when we're lonely, everything narrows in onto ourselves. But trying and it's it's a try, like, just like any other practice or skill that you develop, it sucks at first, right? Because it's so unnatural. You have to rewire your brain, but trying to be genuinely curious and try to turn your focus to other people and at like, be like, what are they going through? What are they struggling with that that shifts it and this is anything from public speaking or whatever? If you have that mindset of going, how can I help? That that begins to shift it? And I'm not saying it just wipes everything out? I'm saying it begins to shift it. And we probably get into other things. But I know I've been talking for a while. So

Zack Arnold 49:28

Well, first of all, you're the guest. So you're allowed to talk as long as you like, it doesn't cost me you know, a word permitted or it I'm not paying extra for it. So I appreciate all of it. But one thing that I want to dig into a little bit deeper that I think is so important for people to understand that you just mentioned is this idea of I'm not the only one that's going through this. And as a fellow coach, I'm sure you can relate to this. But I've been coaching and mentoring people now in my industry for years I've got hundreds of students that I've worked with either one on one in small groups, another several 100 that have done like self guided on Mind courses and whatnot. And I pride myself in all of the cool, crazy shit that I teach people, right? Like, there's Trello. And there's productivity and GTD system, I love all this stuff, love me some systems, right? But what I've learned throughout this is that when I asked the students after they've gone through the semester, like, what was the favorite thing you learned? What was your favorite module or whatever it is, and I'm expecting them to share something cool. And they all almost say the exact same thing. What I got out of this program, was realizing that other people are going through what I'm going through. And that gave me a complete mindset shift, that I can do this, because I thought it was just me, I think that's another one. That's another area of loneliness that I think affects creative, so hard, specifically, those that do things in a largely solitary and sedentary nature, which is what editors do, and writers and you feel like, well, I'm in this little tiny, small, dark room, I can't figure any of this out, I can barely make it through the day, I'm exhausted, I'm out of shape. I can't meet the people that I want to I hate the show that I'm working on. And it's boring me all day long. Why does everybody else have this figured out, but me? And then you realize, oh, we're all a mess. It's not just me. And we're all trying to figure it out. And I think that that has such tremendous value for people. So I'm curious if you've seen something similar with the people you've worked with it find so much value and just simply realizing it's not just me?

Michael Bauman 51:22

Absolutely. It's it's huge. I mean, we all like you said, we all just go through stuff, especially now we're all just going through stuff, we all have these tools. And to just, you know, realize as like, you're not alone, like that, that just goes away, you can't even put into words how far that goes, whether it's somebody who's like supporting you, or whether you know, there's somebody else that's struggling to the and all the research around late vulnerability and Brene. Brown, and she talks about it in terms of how we view vulnerability. When it's coming from somebody else, we view it as a strength, right? Like, if somebody shares something really personal to you, you're like, wow, like, I feel incredibly honored to have that shared for me. Like, I feel amazing about that. And I have so much respect for you, as a person to share, to share that with me. And it took a ton of courage and strength to do it. So we perceive it as strength in other people, and we perceive it as massive weakness in ourselves. You know, like, I have to be vulnerable. And I'm so weak and like, you know, if I'm going to share this, it just shows how weak I am. We're really this this dichotomy where that vulnerability actually shows other people, they're definitely more connected with you, if they're decent people, they're typically more connected with you, they understand you more, you have a better relationship, and they have more respect for you. So it's actually the opposite. And I think that's really important. And another thing too, and this these these sounds so simple, but it is so important, even right now with how isolated we are, think, think about the people that you actually enjoy spending time with, because everybody's busy. See if you can actually schedule something with them ideally, like, consistently, because there's just that thought in your head just goes, Oh, I don't want to reach out to them, because they're probably busy, or they're probably doing something with their, you know, their with their family or you know, whatever, right. And they're probably thinking the same thing about you. He's working on such and such he's done whatever, like, now you just have to go like, and it can be difficult, but you just have to go look, I would love to hang out, I'd love to get coffee, I'd love to do a call whatever it is just like the important things that we scheduled our calendar meetings and jobs that are deadlines. It's so important to your overall health and your life. So just find ways how can I actually just schedule more connection time was part of why I shared the research, because it's if you understand the research, you understand it's important. And if you understand what's important, you can schedule it into your life. So simple things but just going could I love spending time with how can I just spend a little bit more time with them, even if it's feel calls even tired of them as we are? How can I just connect with a little bit more?

Zack Arnold 54:10

Well, along those lines, one of the things that I want to get into even a little bit deeper when it comes to loneliness and building relationships and meeting people and surrounding yourself. So you don't feel the sense of loneliness. There was a term that you brought up a little bit earlier, I think it was before we actually started recording, officially. And I just loved this concept. You said you need to upgrade your interactions. What does that mean? Because that was brilliant that I might just steal it.

Michael Bauman 54:36

Absolutely. So upgrade your interactions. It's, it's interesting, because the last thing that we need right now is something else on our plate like we just have so everybody has so much on their plate that their bandwidth to fit anything else in is is pretty low. So ideally, right? You can you know, meet with other people and it is important, but you can also look at it again from, you know, both of our kind of jam level where you take it to a really small, tiny little step that you can take that just produces more connection in your life. So that's where like interaction upgrades essentially come comes with. So look at all of the interactions that you're doing in one, it's an interesting thing to do look at, you know, let's say you're spending time on social media, once you're finished with that just kind of pay attention. Do I actually feel more connected with anybody? After doing that? Maybe yes, and maybe No, right? So maybe you can actually look at it and go, Okay, this is not making me feel connected. Or maybe it's the reverse. Like, you just feel like your life sucks compared to all of these, you know, influencers lives, and it makes you feel worse. So paying attention, that feeling is important. But you can take any of these little upgrades that you do, or any of these little interactions that you do, and just upgrade them slightly. So what that looks like is, let's say you typically leave a like for somebody on social media, right? You just leave this like, what about if you just wrote a little comment in there, you know, a genuine comment, saying how much you appreciated it, or what you know, whatever value you got from the posts that they they give, so it's just a tiny little upgrade to what you're already doing. And then let's say you'd normally, you know, write a comment, maybe you could just message them on social media, or message them on your phone, or call them on your phone, or video, call them, or meet them in person or go out for coffee, right. So you know, obviously, you can understand that concept of just taking any upgrade that you already have, instead of revamping the whole thing, just go, how can I just upgrade this slightly to produce more connection both for myself, and for the people that I'm interacting with.

Zack Arnold 56:43

I love this. And I cannot believe it's never occurred to me to apply this to the world of relationships. Because this is very similar to all the things that I've learned from everything that I've dug into, as far as habit formation, James clear talks about this a lot. And there's something that he calls the Goldilocks Rule. And it's this idea of if you're trying to achieve any goal, whatever it might be, whether it's fitness, or health, or relationships, or networking, or career or otherwise, if you try to do something that's way too hard, well, you're going to just quit because there's too much. If you try to do something that's way too simple or easy, you get bored, and you don't want to do it because it doesn't engage you. But if you can find that perfect, quote unquote, just right discomfort zone of doing just a little bit more than you think you're capable of, but you actually are capable of that, to me is the magic zone, where everything changes, and everything happens. And you're applying that exact principle, but to social media and relationships, which is brilliant. I never thought of that. I've applied it to ninja warrior training and nutrition and everything else, but like applying it to social media posts and likes and comments. It's genius. But I think you're you're so right in that so many people, myself included, can get sucked into social media, but they don't think about what is the result of it. And for me, I know that essentially social media is twofold. Number one, it's something that's just kind of a necessary evil that I need to do as part of my business to be able to educate and inspire people and find clients and answer their questions. So in that sense, I just see it as it's a work of duty. But then the other side of it is I see it as a way I call it like a palate cleanser, where if I'm in the zone for hours and hours and hours, sometimes I just need to go sit on the couch, and I just need to mindlessly scroll. But afterwards, what I feel is relaxed, I feel less stressed and anxious because all of the mind running 1000 miles a minute is slowed down, because I had this palate cleanser. But what I've also noticed in the past is that when I used to too much like you said, watching all the influencers and people that have 100,000 followers, and I've got 768 followers, like what am I doing wrong? How come they are successful and I'm not successful? That's a dangerous, slippery slope. So I like the idea that number one, identify how it makes you feel. But then number two, how can you create a more positive interaction by doing something? It's just a little bit scarier and more uncomfortable than you might do. But it can probably lead to, you know, meetings, interactions, advice, mentorship, like so many good things could potentially come from just taking that one little simple step. Absolutely. Absolutely. So the last area that I would love to go into, and this is going to go far away from all the practical stuff that we're talking about. And this is going to be very metaphysical and existential and we're going to be having a very Eastern like Zen Buddhist conversation. But I think one of the eternal struggles that we have as human beings is actually being able to number one, define, but number two, except when it's enough. So talk to me about how we've talked, we've we've been talking back and forth for a while now about this idea of not enoughness and it's great to talk about it from a logical perspective. But how do we actually come to accept a point where whether it's money, relationships, accolades, number of students in a program subscribers on an email List yearly revenue. How do we actually get to the point where we say, You know what? This is enough? And I don't need more?

Michael Bauman 1:00:06

Yeah, I mean, that's a, that's a phenomenal question. And, you know, just like you meant, you mentioned, it's, it's something that this is my whole journey. This is something that I think about almost constantly. And I don't have, you know, the I can give you, you know, answers to that question, but it is something that I wrestle with on a daily, daily basis. The problem is, we keep moving the goal line, right, where we, we get to the point that we're like, man, if we just even look back five years ago, and we think, if I could reach this point, that would be amazing. But here we are. And then we're looking five years in the future, going, if I could just reach that point, that would be amazing. And the thing that I would say on this, there's, there's different ways to approach it, you can approach it from a very macro very meta level. And then you can also approach it from a very presence oriented level as well. And I'll kind of talk about both. One of the one of the tools that this is that I actually just recently started using this personally developed by Dan Sullivan, who's a phenomenal entrepreneur coach. And it's he calls it the gap and the game. And he works with all of these people that measure themselves, like they're just constantly thinking they're not enough. And what he says it just really stood out to me, he said, you can only measure the distance that you've travelled, based on your starting point to where you are now. Right? We try to measure ourselves based on what we haven't actually accomplished yet, the future like it's just, it's not real, it doesn't actually exist. And that's what he talks about, you're measuring the gap, as opposed to measuring the gain. And I do this all the time, I will like, I'll have a productive day and get a ton of things done and still feel like I didn't do enough, right. And that's every day your to do list is infinite. Like it just infinitely stretches in front of you. But I've actually started going, you know, the concept of the done list, I actually have a specific habit that I incorporate at the end of my day. And I celebrate every single thing that I did today, as opposed to an even if that's like, I just overcome some struggle, or I just kept going to do it wasn't productive at all. But I just kept going, I will I will celebrate that now because I have lived for a long time in the lack in the not enoughness. And it just sucks. Like it's it's a constant thing around you or you're just like, I'm not enough. But you can also constantly live in celebration. It's just where you focus your mind. And the celebration goes, How can I just celebrate more in my life. So this year, like some of my habits and goals that I actually working on our celebration habits, like I am implementing daily celebration habits, I am implementing weekly celebration habits along with my weekly review, right? I look at the things I didn't accomplish and look at things I did. I look at what I need to do next week. But now I'm going like, I am celebrating all the things that I did this week. And then in the month I'm looking at it and I'm celebrating it. And so that's actually a huge focus for me this year. So that's a very tangible way to actually shift that feeling.

Zack Arnold 1:03:22

I love it. So give me an example of a celebration. Are we talking like a six pack or brewskis? And like swimming in money like, well, what is your celebration look like? Exactly.

Michael Bauman 1:03:31

Yeah, that that is actually a really good question as well. For me,

Zack Arnold 1:03:34

I'm just picturing Scrooge McDuck.

Michael Bauman 1:03:37

celebration for me is actually all internal. Because it's, it's an internal feeling. And so I mean, even in in tiny habits, BJ Fogg, he talks about, you can develop these celebrations. And it hardwires because we're fundamentally we try to avoid pain, and we try to move towards pleasure. When we start these new habits, a lot of times we're starting things that maybe did, like uncomfortable, or they have pain associated with them. So you need to ask yourself, How can I actually associate pleasure with these things? Am I gonna be healthy for me, that I know I should be doing and that releases dopamine in your brain which hardwires it into your brain. And so it's something like you can change your mood by putting on a different song like we can easily change our state by just getting in the zone like a different a different song. But for me, I picture the people that I care about, just surrounding me giving me high fives giving me hugs being like, You crushed it this week, like you just did amazing. You crushed it today. Like that affirmation that we want to hear from other people, you can actually just create it in your mind to a certain degree, right? You can't just totally you know, do that. But you can create that feeling of being supported and encouraged and, or depending on how big the celebration you want to do. You can picture a stadium of people giving you a standing ovation, even for the smallest things. It's fascinating how much your brain can change. These states. And so that's for me, when I talk about a celebration habit, it actually isn't an external thing. It's at the end of the day, I'm actually trying to receive that feeling that I get from being celebrated. But I'm celebrating myself internally. And it's the same at the week, I'm like, going, you did an incredible job. And we're totally fine with us ourselves, beating ourselves up every moment and every single day, like, that's just normal, right? You can just be a jerk to yourself all the time. You know, like, that's normal, but actually encouraging yourself and telling yourself you did a good job. That seems weird. Well, I want to switch it around. I want to be like, No, I am an incredible cursor of myself and beating myself up. I'm not a huge fan of that dude. So I don't want to don't associate very much with them. So that that's, that's a very good question. But for me, it is all internal.

Zack Arnold 1:05:46

I love it. There's i to kind of wrap all this up in hopefully a nice, neat little boat to bring some of these concepts together. And, you know, get us to the conclusion of this, I want to share the first thought that came to my mind as you were talking about all this and how it relates to kind of my own personal journey for defining success. And it just came together in the last couple of weeks. So somebody could be listening to this, just as it releases, they could be listening to it in five years. So to give you context, at least as of us recording this interview, it's late January, and I've just gone through the process of working on I'm currently working on season five of Cobra Kai Season Four just released. And one of the most mind numbing things that I can't even wrap my head around is that Netflix came out with a list of their top shows worldwide, their top TV shows across the entire planet in their hundreds of millions of subscribers. And they have a list of the shows by season. So it's not just the show, but they say the top 10 individual seasons of shows across the planet, four of the top 10 were Cobra Kai, and number one was Cobra Kai, which means that across the entire planet of people that are consuming entertainment, the show that I spent all day everyday working on is literally 40% of what people are watching, I can't even wrap my head around those numbers. The reason I'm bringing that up, however, has nothing to do with that being my definition of success. That was my old definition of success. The reason I bring this up also comes into this idea of celebration, the amount of emotional fulfillment and contentment I got from that was fleeting, it was like, Oh, that's cool. I'm excited about that. That's awesome. I've got all kinds of people sending me messages and Facebook and emails like Oh, my God, this is so cool, you must be so excited. And my honest gut reaction was like, I just kind of don't care. I care about the show, I care about the people. But the numbers don't mean anything, the celebration of all of the endless hours in work and kind of if we're like, this is kind of like a good capper to the story that I told you on your show as well. The celebration for me, the memory that I will remember forever, is that I got to watch the entire show with my kids. And that's a memory they will never forget, and the fact that I was present with them. And this was something that they enjoyed. And we have the kind of relationship where we can spend all day long, just binge watching the show together. That to me was emotional fulfillment and success that I work on something all day, every day long hours, lots of sitting in front of a computer. But it led to that kind of an interaction. And that kind of a family moment. That to me was my new definition of success versus the old definition of success. So that was just it wasn't something I plan on talking about at all. But everything you're saying just resonates with me so much and everything that I've been through, just to get here, both on the darker side of things, but now having more a sense of peace of what it is that I do and knowing the impact that it has and being able to to celebrate it. So I love all the stuff that you just shared.

Michael Bauman 1:08:41

Yeah. And that that. I mean, that really, really wraps it up nicely. The question you have to ask is like, where do you actually live your life, like so many of us, whether it's the weekend, whether it's the vacation we're living for, and the thing with those things, and all the research supports that they use the things that you think will make you incredibly happy, don't usually measure up to that. It's still just a lived experience at that point, right? You ask people, you know, what do they do over the weekend, even though looked forward to it the whole week, and they don't remember, right? But it's like you live your life in the week. So you have to go like even like you talked about, that's an accolade that you received and that's incredible. But it's a it's a one time thing, you're living in the moment of creating the work. So if you're not enjoying the creation of the work, you're that that thing in the future, whether it comes or not, is not going to outweigh all the rest of your life that is sucking or that you don't enjoy your living in this week in this in this day. So you have to think how can I create those moments, those celebrations, the appreciation, the presence in this moment, so that I can actually enjoy the accumulation of my life of days rather than, you know, trying to hang it all on one, you know, momentous achievement or whatever that looks like.

Zack Arnold 1:09:59

I'm not sure Should I have a T shirt big enough to fit that entire quote, but man, that was good stuff. I love it you live your life in in the week. That's that's such a great way to put it. I've got one final question that I asked many of my guests, not all of them, but when applicable. And what I would like to better understand is if I were to put you in a time machine, and you traveled back in time to that moment that you discussed in the beginning, where you just found out your wife is pregnant, and you know that you don't have any money coming in and you're thinking about moving to China of all places? What advice do you give yourself knowing what you know? Now?

Michael Bauman 1:10:38

That's, I mean, it's a good is a good question. And obviously, hindsight is, is 2020, I actually sometimes have my clients do a task just like this, I call it a destination postcard. So picture where you are at the destination that you want to have, and picture yourself writing an A note, recording a video, whatever it is, as if you were that person, this has to go with that identity as that person, and what would you say to yourself now, and a lot of it comes down to like, it's worth it, you know, the work that you do is incredible, you've made all of this impact on all of these people's lives, you've, you know, created the life that you you want to live. And, you know, that's incredible, but at the same time, you know, it, those those times just suck, and I can look back on it, and I can look at all the things that I learned. But in it, it's just so hard. And there are definitely things that are learned, like at that point, if I had continued doing the personal training Well, COVID What would have happened, you know, right now, and personal training stuff just got totally shut down. So I think about them to go, Oh, interesting, you know, wonder if, like, all of that the stuff that I want to build to that point, what is just got shut down. But all that's just speculation. So, you know, what I would say, you know, back to my, my myself is you know, those things like, it is it is worth it. And you know, you will get through it as cliche as that is. And you do learn some stuff from it, and life becomes beautiful.

Zack Arnold 1:12:10

I love it. Yeah, that that's essentially the same thing that I would tell myself is, you know, put in the work. Never give up. It's totally worth it. PS, it's gonna suck. Oh my god. Right. So yeah, that that's kind of, you know, all of my journeys in a nutshell. But yeah, I think that you put it amazingly succinctly, and I absolutely love it. So for anybody that's listening, whether they're a creative like me, they're an entrepreneur, and they're thinking, Man, this, this guy's got a smart thing to say, or two. And I'd love to learn more or dive even deeper. Where can people find you and best connect with you?

Unknown Speaker 1:12:40

Yeah, so I do I have a podcast, you know, as we mentioned, called Success engineering. And so I interview, you know, CEOs and actors and neuroscientists to kind of unpack that issue. So definitely check that out. If you're, you know, wanting to actually work with me personally, depending on when this goes goes live. I have limited spots for that. But I do open up, you know, kind of a mastermind program in mid March. So that's something that you can, you know, check out as well. I love it. And where can I find all those things? Oh, yeah, successengineering.org.

Zack Arnold 1:13:11

It's funny how, when you're on the other end of the microphone, you forget the simple things, isn't it? Exactly. People find me what's my instagram handle? Yeah, I can really well, Michael, this has been an absolute pleasure chatting with you today. I'm glad we were finally able to make this happen. I certainly learned several new things. myself this way. I always love this process. And also, as a pro tip very, very quickly, I know that we're gonna wrap this up, and I'm sure you can attest to this. The best way on the planet to network and learn more about the things you want to accomplish and build relationships is to have your own podcast. Yeah, that's the that's the secret weapon. You want to start your own podcasts, right? So yeah, you've you've, you've cracked the code on that, I think that I'm in the process of cracking that to be anybody that's wondering, you want to find a way to upgrade your interactions, get yourself a microphone and start talking to people.

Michael Bauman 1:14:08

It didn't say like, you know, the six degrees away from Kevin Bacon kind of idea like you. It's incredible. At the end of a lot of my podcasts, I'll just ask the guests. Uh, you know, who else would you consider a success that wants to be on the show, and I blew my mind to the degrees of separation. You are from the industry leaders like the absolute world leaders just through connections that you have, but you're also offering value. So I agree with that. 100% podcasting can open a lot of doors for you.

Zack Arnold 1:14:35

Love it. Alright. So if you're listening, look up success engineering. This guy's got some amazing guests and talks about a lot of the same or similar topics that we do on this show. So if you enjoy the show, I would say that Michaels is going to be an absolutely wonderful extension of some of the things we talked about here. So on that note, Michael, thank you so much for sharing your insights and your advice here and I appreciate you being on the mic today. Thank you.

Michael Bauman 1:14:57

Yeah, thanks for squeezing me into your business schedule

Zack Arnold 1:15:04

Thank you for listening to Episode 175 of the Optimize Yourself Podcast. To access the show notes for this episode with all the bonus links and resources that we discussed today, as well as to subscribe, leave a review and more, simply visit optimizeyourself.me/episode175. Once again, thank you so much for investing your time and energy with me here today. Stay safe, healthy and sane, and most importantly be well. Oh wait. Last thing before you go, I wanted to let you know about my brand new weekly email newsletter that I have titled The Case of the Mondays. It releases every Monday morning, and it shares my best advice, insights, resources and strategies to help you build a fulfilling creative career doing work that you love without totally burning yourself out in the process. It's totally free. And when you sign up, I'll even send you a five-day email course to help you take the first few and most important steps towards designing a career path that makes sense for you. To sign up just visit optimizeyourself.me/newsletter

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Guest Bio:


Michael Bauman

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Michael Bauman is the CEO of Success Engineering and Tony Robbins certified coach. He help entrepreneurs feel that they are enough and not alone, along with optimizing every other area of their lives including their habits, productivity, health and relationships.

He is also the host of the podcast, Success Engineering, where he interviews experts and industry leaders, from Broadway Directors and actors, to multi-millionaire CEO’s, to neuroscientists and more to uncover how they define success, how they create it on a daily basis, and explore the challenges they have overcome both internally and externally to achieve their personal definition of success.

Show Credits:

This episode was edited by Curtis Fritsch, and the show notes were prepared by Debby Germino and published by Glen McNiel.

The original music in the opening and closing of the show is courtesy of Joe Trapanese (who is quite possibly one of the most talented composers on the face of the planet).

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Note: I believe in 100% transparency, so please note that I receive a small commission if you purchase products from some of the links on this page (at no additional cost to you). Your support is what helps keep this program alive. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Zack Arnold (ACE) is an award-winning Hollywood film editor & producer (Cobra Kai, Empire, Burn Notice, Unsolved, Glee), a documentary director, father of 2, an American Ninja Warrior, and the creator of Optimize Yourself. He believes we all deserve to love what we do for a living...but not at the expense of our health, our relationships, or our sanity. He provides the education, motivation, and inspiration to help ambitious creative professionals DO better and BE better. “Doing” better means learning how to more effectively manage your time and creative energy so you can produce higher quality work in less time. “Being” better means doing all of the above while still prioritizing the most important people and passions in your life…all without burning out in the process. Click to download Zack’s “Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Creativity (And Avoiding Burnout).”