Eric Tivers is a psychotherapist and productivity coach in private practice. He specializes in ADHD and Autism. Eric also hosts the ADHD reWired podcast.
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- Your Big Idea: Successful Entrepreneurs have One Big Idea. Follow JLD’s FREE training & you’ll discover Your Big Idea in less than an hour!
- ‘Masquerading every day as a normal person is exhausting.’ – Eric’s father in law
- Eric talks about his freshman year in college, and how a 2.0 almost derailed his entire future…
Entrepreneurial AH-HA Moment
- Eric started taking ADHD meds for the first time in his life, and it was like putting glasses on his brain!
- Eric is collaborating on a Workshop that will focus on the storytelling aspect of Podcasting. Powerful stuff Fire Nation!
Small Business Resource
- Freedom: The wonderful app that locks you away from the Internet so you can be more productive.
Best Business Book
- ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life by Judith Kolberg
John Lee Dumas: Entrepreneur On Fire 805. Light that spark, Fire Nation. John Lee Dumas here, and I am fired up to bring you our feature guest today, Eric Tivers. Eric, are you prepared to ignite?
Eric Tivers: John, I am focused and ready.
John Lee Dumas: Yes. Eric is a psychotherapist and productivity coach in private practice. He specializes in ADHD and Autism and hosts the ADHD Rewired podcast. Eric, I’ve given Fire Nation just a little insight, so share more about you personally and expand upon the biz.
Eric Tivers: Sure. John, thanks for having me on. I am a person that is really passionate about self-awareness and self-improvement, and really getting an understanding for how our brain works. A little bit of background. When I was 14, my dad had a brain aneurysm and had some pretty major brain surgery. I mean, I don’t think there’s minor brain surgery. But, he was in the ICU for three months, and he came back as a different person. What I watched was him continuing to maintain his incredibly hard work ethic. The only problem is he could not do what he used to be able to do and had never really explored Plan B.
So fast-forward. I went to college, and I almost failed out, which is when I learned that I wasn’t actually stupid or lazy, but that I have ADHD. So I’ve kind of taken that knowledge and that understanding and have really leveraged my entire career around that, and I specialize that now in my professional life. I’m also a self-taught musician. I actually almost dropped out of college to play music on the road. I taught myself to play piano and guitar. I love Frisbee golf, and as you said, I have a podcast and I owe a lot of that actually getting off the ground to you. So thank you, and thanks for being an incredible guest on my podcast. I think you were one of two who have been on my show who do not have ADHD. I also have an amazing wife and an incredible three-year-old son who truly just blows my mind on a daily basis.
John Lee Dumas: I love that. And Eric, I have to say that I was honored to be on your podcast, and one thing that I love, a lot of people come to me and say, “John, I have this idea for a podcast, but is it just too niche? Is it just too specialized?” And I say, “No, this is what you should be focusing on. What can you absolutely dominate in an area that you love?” That’s when you came to me with your idea. I was like, that’s your podcast idea, ADHD; let’s focus on that.
And to see what you’ve done with that, Eric, and the people that you’ve inspired and the audience you’re growing and continuing to grow is really inspiring to see. I do want to ask you kind of a tough question to start things off. Little disclaimer; I don’t know enough to even have an opinion on this, but I hear things. A lot of times you’ll hear people say, “Hey, ADHD, is this something that’s made up? This didn’t even exist, this wasn’t even diagnosed 50 years ago. Kids seem to be fine, or bouncing off walls. That’s just part of growing up.” What do you say to people, Eric, when they come up to you and they have that kind of opinion when it comes to ADHD?
Eric Tivers: Well, there’s a couple of ways that I respond to that. One, I try to kind of hold back the frustration that I feel, because it is a frustrating feeling when you live it every day. You don’t choose to sit and think about that thing that you want to do for weeks or even months and not take actino on it. You don’t choose to forget to… let’s say if you’re a kid, to turn in the homework that you actually spent hours doing. Doing the homework is the hard part. Turning it in is something else. So when we hear people say that it’s made up, what I would really just say to them, “I can understand how you would feel that. It seems that it’s more around us these days. But what’s more around us is, one, more awareness around us, but this is nothing new.
Until a few years ago, you used to think that it dated back to the early 1900s when there’s a psychiatrist named Dr. Bradley who had a group of inpatient boys in a psychiatric hospital, and there were nurses who were about to resign their position, because he wanted to treat these hyperactive boys with stimulant medication which seemed completely absurd. What they saw immediately was how it actually helped them focus, helped them calm down. So this idea that it’s the advent of our modern era is just not true. What we recently have discovered is dating back to the 1700s, there was a manuscript discovered that was translated from German of what we would now refer to as ADHD. All the symptoms were described there. One of the things that is a problem with ADHD is the name ADHD. It does not really well-describe its name.
John, you’re pretty good at math from when I had you on my podcast and threw out a math problem at you, which blew my mind. Do you know what a mathematical factorial is?
John Lee Dumas: Let’s describe it.
Eric Tivers: Just basically all the different combinations of something that can happen. In what’s called the Diagnostic Statistical Manual, the DSM, this is what we come up with when we have diagnoses of different disorders, and just the human condition. Here’s the thing. We all do things sometimes, but doing things sometimes is a human trait. Even putting your keys in the fridge sometimes. Maybe we’ve all done that once.
John Lee Dumas: I’ve done some pretty mind-blowing things as far as letting things drift and saying, “How did that even happen?”
Eric Tivers: For me, it’s funny things like I showed up early to my doctor’s appointment, I just got the wrong day or the wrong doctor. But it’s things like that throughout my entire life. And it causes impairment. When you do this mathematical factorial, one of the reasons that it’s challenging is because with ADHD, it used to be you needed to have… There’s a total of 18 symptoms, and you can have nine symptoms of either hyperactivity/impulsivity; that’s one of the presentations of ADHD. And the other type of presentation of ADHD is what’s called predominately inattentive presentation. So it would be disorganized, kind of spacey. The person who is kind of very entertained in their own head but has no clue what’s going on around them. And that would certainly describe me when I was a kid. I wasn’t hyperactive at all. The hyperactive kids are the ones that get the help because they’re the troublemakers in a lot of ways.
John Lee Dumas: Right, because ADHD specifically stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, so I guess it can be any combination of those?
Eric Tivers: Right. So you can have ADHD without the H, and for a lot of people that’s like, “Wait, what?”
John Lee Dumas: Sometimes those are the people that fly under the radar, unfortunately.
Eric Tivers: Right. And I have a lot of… Especially dads will come into my office and say, “Well, my kid doesn’t have ADHD. He can sit in front of that damned video game for eight hours without taking a break.” Then I say to them, “Well, you know that typical kids can’t actually do that?” So one of the issues has to do with attention regulation, and we have something called hyperfocus which, if you understand how to manage it, can be leveraged in a really positive way. When you’re interested in something, it’s possible to get so focused on it that you can really have this intense focus.
So the issue really is attention regulation. It’s being able to manage the right amount of attention for the right amount of time in the right place. Then it also has to do with what’s referred to as executive functioning. ADHD really is a disorder of executive functioning, which is a part of our brain function. John, it has to do with the planning, organizing, task initiation, sequencing, time management, working memory, perspective memory, which are different types of memory. Working memory is you walk into a room and you’re like, “Wait, what did I come in here to do?” We all have those experiences, but people with ADHD have them often.
John Lee Dumas: Eric, what I kind of want to do here is reel this in, because it’s obvious, Fire Nation, how passionate Eric is about this topic. He can continue to go on and on about this. If this is something that is really inspiring you, it’s something you want to learn more about, then ADHD Rewire Podcast is obviously for you. Go check that out, and Eric is talking about this every single episode. Eric, I do want to put myself on the spot here, because I do remember you giving me a math problem. I don’t even remember really what it was or how it worked. Can you give it to me again on Entrepreneur On Fire? I want to see if I can go two for two. And I might fail this time.
Eric Tivers: Okay. Man, so it was your version of your $500.00 question, and I’ll try to make something up on the fly.
John Lee Dumas: Yeah, this is totally on the fly. We didn’t talk about this pre-interview, I just love competition, and I love this kind of stuff. Just make something up and let’s just see if I can do it again.
Eric Tivers: Okay. So you are in a brand-new world. You have $500.00, a microphone, a laptop, and a content-creator. You have produced ten podcast, and Kate wants to produce two podcasts, and you are one week in. How many more podcasts do you have to do to meet your quota by the end of the month?
John Lee Dumas: Five.
Eric Tivers: I have no idea if you’re right.
John Lee Dumas: I think we’re gonna go with it. Two for two, baby. Loving it. Eric… By the way, Fire Nation, if you want to check out my episode on Eric’s podcast, he actually does have it all written out, and he can just say, “You know, I can’t believe this, but you were actually right.” Go ahead and listen to it.
Eric Tivers: It was so fast. It was absurdly fast. It blew my Facebook community. It was like, “Is that guy for real?”
John Lee Dumas: And only actually you and I really know that it was for real, but it really was.
Eric Tivers: Yes. That’s episode 30.
John Lee Dumas: Okay, Eric, let’s pull it back and let’s just dive into your success quote.
Eric Tivers: Okay. I’m going to give you two. The first one is always do your best, and your best will be different every day. The second one is… I’m guessing you probably have never had this one on your podcast, and that’s masquerading as a normal person day after day is exhausting.
John Lee Dumas: Okay, why did you choose that second one?
Eric Tivers: Because what I do has so much to do with self-acceptance of who you are, and it’s way more challenging to try to be who you’re not than it is to be who you are.
John Lee Dumas: So, so true. I’m going to link both of those up on the show notes page. Who do we attribute the second one to? Is this an Eric Tivers original?
Eric Tivers: This was actually given to me. I have a placard that was given to me very lovingly by my father-in-law, and we have it in our kitchen, and I just love it.
John Lee Dumas: Well, lovingly and father-in-law normally don’t go in the same sentence, so we’re breaking all kinds of rules here.
Eric Tivers: I love it.
John Lee Dumas: Eric, I want to dive into a failure story. I want to dive into a time that you, Eric Tivers, entrepreneurially… You’d think I could pronounce that word since I have a podcast on this. But in the entrepreneur space where you just flopped. Talk about that story, but really take us there.
Eric Tivers: I was thinking about this question for so long, and I was thinking about, okay, what’s the kind of failure, and it’s really hard for me to acknowledge a single failure, because I feel like my whole life has been going from a series of failures to a-ha moments.
John Lee Dumas: Yeah, but I really want one story.
Eric Tivers: Okay, one story. I could say that I had 20 jobs by the time I was 20…
John Lee Dumas: But that’s not one story.
Eric Tivers: That’s not one story. Okay. I almost failed out of school. My first semester in school I had a… I got a 2.2 G.P.A., and I was enjoying my freshman year of school.
John Lee Dumas: As we all do.
Eric Tivers: Yes. But my parents said to me, “If you don’t get those grades up, you are coming home.” A little bit of that fire was lit, and I said, well, I don’t want that to happen. So second semester I had this really good idea, and that was to open up the books.
John Lee Dumas: I’ve heard of that.
Eric Tivers: And I got a 1.8. So I finished my freshman year with a 2.0. Some miracle happened where I convinced my parents to let me go back, and so that failure was really going and that experience of almost failing and not knowing why, trying and not knowing why. But then I figured out… that following year I had kind of a chance meeting with a friend who really sat down with me and we were talking, and she was sharing with me her story and that she was recently diagnosed with ADHD, and for the first time in my life, John, someone had put into words my life experience. So I went that very next week and got an evaluation and confirmed that I did in fact have ADHD. So that’s kind of the one point of my failure. My next one is that… I’m going to fast-forward to grad school.
John Lee Dumas: Well, let me share my biggest failure in college first.
Eric Tivers: Please.
John Lee Dumas: That was tipping the scales at 200 pounds on a 5 foot 10 inch frame, and even now at 35-years-old, I’m only 177 pounds. So the freshman 15 was more like the freshman 25-ish.
Eric Tivers: That’s awesome. I think I lost weight when I was in college, which was really weird.
John Lee Dumas: People just have different experiences. You go away from home, some people just stop eating, but some people immediately say, “Oh, chicken nuggets every day? Done.”
Eric Tivers: For me it was probably… I had to actually plan in order to eat, and that wasn’t something that I had the skill to do yet. So the other failure was… I was in grad school, and so while I was very successful in grad school, it was actually one of my greatest accomplishments. I finished with a 4.0. What it took me to get there was something that I would consider in a sense a failure. I was going from day-to-day where I was getting two hours of sleep a night. I was doing my drive down to grad school, I was doing the bobbing and weaving. In fact… I know you like stories, so I figured this would be a great place for it.
John Lee Dumas: You must not have had an inspiring enough podcast while you were driving.
Eric Tivers: I think I was listening to a podcast on ADHD actually, the older ones where the sound quality was just atrocious.
John Lee Dumas: Okay, get into the story.
Eric Tivers: Okay, so I’m driving down to school. I went to UIC, University of Illinois Chicago, and I don’t remember if it was exactly that I was sleepy at the wheel, but I was rear-ended and then I rear-ended a car in front of me. The person that I rear-ended turned out that I learned later was my mother-in-law. So I learned that, and then what I really learned from that failure was that, okay, in grad school, which was the hardest thing I had ever done, there’s only so much you can do, and my management strategy for my ADHD was to take medication, and I didn’t have any skills. So I was working my butt off in a very unhealthy way where I was getting sick, and then I realized, you know what, I’ve got to figure out what the heck is this ADHD thing and what can I actually do about it besides just take medication?
John Lee Dumas: Eric, this is actually where I want to jump in, because this is a question that I wanted to ask you earlier, but we were really kind of just getting into the weeds a little bit, which is where your podcast is going to be awesome for people that really want to learn more. Let me challenge you in just 30 seconds. What are some other ways that people with ADHD can treat themselves besides medication?
Eric Tivers: Sure. And I want to just say that I still take medication, and it’s kind of like putting glasses on my brain.
John Lee Dumas: That’s a good analogy. But you’re cutting into your 30 seconds.
Eric Tivers: So ADHD is one of those things that if you learn as much as you can about it, it can make a huge, huge difference. When it comes to planning, break things down into the most actionable steps. I’ll give the example of a dishwasher. If you feel like you have to empty the dishwasher and that task seems overwhelming, think about what is the very first step you need to take? Well, you need to be in a place to make the action happen. So the first step is just go stand in front of the dishwasher. If you are still feeling overwhelmed by that action, what’s the next step? It’s put your hand on the handle and open it.
If you’re still feeling overwhelmed, pull out that drawer. What’s the next step? Put one dish away. Usually by that first dish you can keep going. So it’s knowing those executive functions. Task initiation is often very difficult, but once you get going, it sometimes can be even harder to stop. So it’s understanding that the challenges that you’re experiencing with ADHD are not moral, they’re not character; they are neurological. Motivation is neurological, which is why when I’m interested, when I care about something, I can work my butt off. And if I don’t like something, it’s really hard to get me to do it.
John Lee Dumas: Let me sum it up here, Fire Nation. Go listen to ADHD Rewired, and you’ll get all of this and so much more. Eric, what I want you to do now is tell your a-ha moment story and get focused, get specific, drill into it.
Eric Tivers: All right, my a-ha moment. As I was kind of saying like my last 14 years in a sense was a series of a-ha moments, so it’s kind of thinking about a lightbulb as more of a string of bright, shiny objects. When I got that diagnosis, that was the one a-ha moment. When I took medication for the first time, John, it was an experience that I think that people who have ADHD and have taken medication often can relate to, and that’s feeling normal for the very first time in my life. Let me describe to you what it used to be like when I used to read. I would read something, it would trigger a thought, and then that thought would trigger another thought, and then I would just start thinking about the idea of thinking in general, but in the meantime, I’m still reading. I’m reading, and I’m thinking about all these other thoughts. I get to the end of the chapter of what I just read, and I have no clue what I just read.
So do I go back to reread it? No. That doesn’t occur to me. I just go on to the next thing. Now that I’m able to focus, I have the ability to focus, but I have no idea what to focus on. So my sophomore year, after I kind of get my second chance and I go back to school, I’m now taking medication and I change my major from communications to social work. So something else also occurred with that change. I found that I loved my new area of study. I loved social work. And what I realized was that I have to love what I’m doing, because when I love what I’m doing, it’s like my brain just works. It goes into this… I’m working in my area of strengths. I used to spend 18 hours at a stretch at the library. I actually once pulled an all-weeker. Not an all-nighter; an all-weeker. And let me tell you, if you’ve ever done anything close to that, the hallucinations that you experience through severe sleep deprivation are crazy. So I was able to focus and work really, really hard, but I didn’t have the skills.
So after college, I realized… I started working for a couple of years before I went to grad school, and I found that I fell in love with working with kids with autism. But I realized that if I was going to make any money doing that, I needed to go back to college, or back to grad school, which I already said was one of the most challenging kind of things in my life. And it was through that that I realized that I needed to really develop tools. I really need to develop skills, because I learned that I didn’t know how to use a planner, I didn’t even know how to use a to-do list. People would say to me, “Well, write it down.” It’s like… I get that your intention is good, but I have brain dysfunction in a lot of ways, and I don’t understand how that actually works. So what I realized was that I was going through life on autopilot, but the problem was that in my brain, the autopilot button was broken.
John Lee Dumas: Okay, let me rephrase that for Fire Nation. That’s so powerful. I was going through life on autopilot, but I realized that the autopilot button was broken. Really absorb that for a second, Fire Nation. I mean, how many of us are going through lives on autopilot, whether with ADHD or without? I mean, sadly it’s a vast majority. I can say it’s definitely not a majority of people that are listening to my voice right now, because you’re listening to a business entrepreneurial podcast. That just puts you in the top one percent already, in my opinion, of people that are actually taking action in life and taking that autopilot switching, turning it off and taking control. So congratulations. But I mean, that’s kind of scary to have that realization later in your life that Eric had. Very powerful stuff. Eric, I’m going to shift us to present time, to today, and I want to talk with my audience about the one thing that fires you up more than anything else right now.
Eric Tivers: Man, the hardest questions for me to answer are the ones where someone asks me what’s the one thing.
John Lee Dumas: And this is how Entrepreneur On Fire is. One story, one answer, 60 seconds, focus.
Eric Tivers: Okay. Besides me being prepared to launch my second coaching group, and I use the launch strategy that I learned through your podcast listening to Jeff Walker, what I am really excited about is… So I met a woman named Ellen Schneuer at a Toastmasters group, and she’s the president of my Toastmasters group, and what she does is she runs improve workshops for businesses teaching them how to do improve to improve communication and sales. So after one of my Toastmasters meetings, she told me, after I was talking a little bit about podcasting, that she wanted to learn how to podcast.
So we met a couple of times and she wanted to hire me for me to teach her how to do podcasting on a one-on-one basis. Then I love to teach and I love to do workshops, and that’s something that I want to do more of, and this is something that she’s doing on a regular basis. So she was sitting in my office, and I said, “You know what? Ellen, instead of me just teaching you how to do this and you paying me as a coach to do this, what if I teach you how to do this and at the same time we write a workshop together and we teach other people how to tell stories and how to do it through a podcast?” And don’t worry, I didn’t suggest Podcast Paradise.
John Lee Dumas: I was about to say, hello, I’m in the room.
Eric Tivers: Of course. And what we’re talking about, too, is how to really leverage that story, how to really bring… What do someone that teaches improv and a psychotherapist in common? So it’s kind of an unlikely pair. So we’re developing this workshop about storytelling and how to do podcasting. So that’s what I’m really kind of fired up about.
John Lee Dumas: Well, you should be. Seeing stuff like Serial, the new podcast that’s coming out, that was the fastest podcast ever to reach five million downloads, and seeing Alex Blumberg leaving NPR and starting his podcast startup and reply all… And Gimlet Media, which is his entire podcasting corporation, this is where podcasting is going. It’s going into stories. I was actually up in San Francisco about two months ago now with Alex Blumberg giving a workshop at creativeLive, and his portion of the workshop was how to tell stories through podcasting. So Eric, if that’s not something that you’ve watched, you need to go to creativeLive and get the Alex Blumberg course on how to tell stories in podcasting. He’s been doing it for years and teaching a course on how to tell stories at Columbia. Amazing, amazing guy. Future guest on Entrepreneur On Fire, actually. What we’re going to do now, Eric, is move into the lightening round, but before we do this, let’s take a minute to thank our sponsors.
Eric, welcome to the lightening round where you get to share incredible resources in mind-blowing answers in one sentence or less. Sound like a plan?
Eric Tivers: Sounds like a plan.
John Lee Dumas: Going to throw in that one side-liner for you. What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Eric Tivers: Either it was the paperwork or I needed to get laid off on the same week that I bought a house, so I had that urgency.
John Lee Dumas: What is the best advise you’ve ever received?
Eric Tivers: When I was laid off, I called my clinical supervisor, Anna Rasies on my way home and told her I just got laid off, and I have a mortgage now. She put me in contact with her mentor, a therapist named Joe Conavello, and I met with him, and he told me, “Go get yourself a map, pin yourself in the middle, and draw a circle 25 miles around it, and go meet as many people as you can that are doing similar things that you want to do.” And the rest is history.
John Lee Dumas: Boom. Share one of your personal habits that you believe contributes to your success?
Eric Tivers: I would say it’s probably mildly obsessive and intentional daily, weekly, and monthly planning with accountability to those plans.
John Lee Dumas: Do you have an internet resource, like Evernote, that you could share with our listeners?
Eric Tivers: Freedom, and I just got turned on to RealtimeBoard.com.
John Lee Dumas: What’s RealtimeBoard.com?
Eric Tivers: It is an interactive digital whitespace that… Have you ever played with Prezie?
John Lee Dumas: Yeah.
Eric Tivers: Similar interface for the idea where you can zoom stuff, but it has an interactive component to it, and I’m right now planning my next launch using it. It’s really cool.
John Lee Dumas: RealtimeBoard.com. If you could recommend one book, Eric, for our listeners, what would it be and why?
Eric Tivers: I would actually recommend ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life, and even if you don’t have ADHD, this I refer to as the organizational bible. It has a lot of pictures, it breaks organizational strategies down to real common-sense. It was that thing where, “Oh, now I know how to make a to-do list. Now I know how to make a file.” So it’s a great, great tool. It’s ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life by Judith Kolberg and Kathleen Nadeau.
John Lee Dumas: Well, Fire Nation, I know that you love audio, so if you haven’t already, you can get an amazing audio book like this one for free at EOFirebook.com. Eric, this next question is the last of the lightening round, but it’s a doozy. Imagine you woke up tomorrow morning in a brand-new world, identical to Earth, but you knew no one. You still have all the experience and knowledge you currently have. Your food and shelter, taken care of, but all you have is a laptop and $500.00. What would you do in the next seven days?
Eric Tivers: To John, I have been thinking about this question for a long time. That’s the doozy, how to actually answer that.
John Lee Dumas: Doozy.
Eric Tivers: Last night I was sitting and I was kind of actually meditating on this question, and I was really thinking about it. What I realized is that I would be probably in significant grief, because if I don’t know anybody, that means that I lost the people that I care about the most, so I would probably take that laptop and look up who are some of the best therapists that can help me get through this period of grief, and I would spend that $500.00 paying for a handful of therapy sessions. Since you said my shelter is taken care of, I’m going to move somewhere warm, probably near you.
John Lee Dumas: San Diego. Eric, let’s end today on fire with you sharing just one parting piece of guidance, the best way that we can connect with you, and then we’ll say goodbye.
Eric Tivers: Sure. John, thank you so much, and I would encourage people to come and listen to episode 30 where I had you on the podcast. Parting piece of guidance is always challenge what you think you know. If you struggle with organization, if you struggle with impulsivity, if you feel like life just seems to throw you all these curveballs and things seem to be harder for you. Explore ADHD. It’s not just something that kids have, because 85 percent of people walking around right now don’t know they have it. So go explore that, because it can change your life. That was my parting piece of advice, and the other part of the question, I’ve only heard this podcast how many times?
John Lee Dumas: How we can connect with you, my man.
Eric Tivers: Yes, best way to reach me is through my website. Just go to ADHDRewired.com. You can find links to my podcast, my coaching and therapy services, and so that’s the best way to reach me. EricTivers.com or ADHDRewired.com.
John Lee Dumas: Well, Fire Nation, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, and you have been hanging out with Eric and myself today, so keep up the heat, and head over to EOFire.com, type Eric in the search bar. His show notes page will pop right up, and Eric, thank you my –
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