Josh Shipp is a former at-risk foster kid turned youth advocate. His documentary TV series on Lifetime and A&E followed his ground-breaking work with teens. He is the Author of The Teen’s Guide to World Domination, the Founder of Youth Speaker University, and was listed on INC. Magazine’s 30 under 30 list of successful entrepreneurs.
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Josh: Come on, Johnny Boy, let's do this.
Interviewer: Josh is a former at-risk foster kid turned youth advocate. His documentary TV series on Lifetime and A&E followed his groundbreaking work with teens. He's the author of the Teens Guide to World Domination, the founder of Youth Speaker University and was listed on Inc. Magazine's 30 Under 30 list of successful entrepreneurs. Josh, take a minute, fill in some gaps from that intro and give us a little glimpse of your personal life.
Josh: Dude, I think you nailed it. That's my professional life, personal life, married for 12 years even though I know I look like I’m about 12 years old myself. We marry them off young in Oklahoma and got two kids, 4 and 6 years old, and excited to dig into this topic.
Interviewer: Well, I'm excited too because you are Episode 530, which it feels like we talked yesterday, Josh.
Josh: An award winning episode – an award winning episode.
Interviewer: You were one of the top ten ever episodes and are one of the top ten episodes ever on EOFire, so Fire Nation, if you are listening, go back, check out Episode 530 where Josh crushed it. You can just go to EOFire.com/top10 – boom – you'll be able to check him out right at the top of the list there. Josh, that was over 600 episodes ago. Can you believe that?
Interviewer: Today on Fire Nation as you know, we are in the month of freedom. It is January of 2016 and I am on a mission to make sure that you take control of your life and that you learn how set and accomplish goals and that's why I brought Josh on because there are few people that are better at doing this type of stuff than Josh himself. So, Josh, let's just start off with the question, "Why are goals important to you?"
Josh: Yeah, it’s a great question. So, here's how I look at it. I believe the setting and accomplishing of a goal is the way that you can make a dent in the world. It's the way that you can make an impact and so sometimes I think we can think wrongly about goals and that it's only sort of a selfish thing or that it's only something for our self, you know. I want to do this. I want to accomplish this. I want to get this done. I want to achieve this thing. But really I believe it is through setting and accomplishing our goals that not only can we do good for ourselves but good for other people. I mean, for me it's a way that I can sort of synthesize my drive, my ambition, my frustrations, and opportunities towards something meaningful. I guess I would say that I've never done or contributed anything meaningful that did not first start as a goal.
Interviewer: I love that you use the word synthesize. That's a risky word, Josh, to use on a podcast because there's no going back from that one.
Josh: No, I mean go ahead and Google define synthesize if you need to but we're just starting it right there.
Interviewer: Oh, love it all and, Josh, you know that you can't just say hey, I’m going to set a goal like I want to lose weight. That's just not a goal. I mean, that is something that people just throw out there and they're shocked that six months later, you know, they're two or three pounds heavier. They're like but wait; I thought that I set a goal to lose weight. But you just don't do things that way, Fire Nation, you need to start by setting a smart goal and the acronym smart, Fire Nation, is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time bound. They need all five of those attributes and, Josh; I know that you know that all five are important.
But I want to just ask you to and maybe challenge you to pick one of them that you think is maybe especially important or that's been important to you in your past. Just kind of break down why you think this is an important one of the five letters when it comes to setting and accomplishing goals.
Josh: Absolutely. I want to attack the idea of relevance.
Josh: Because to me when you're setting out to accomplish something meaningful – again, whether it's something for your family or something for your health, something for your business, you cannot – listen carefully – you cannot underestimate. This is going to sound odd, John. Prepare yourself. You cannot underestimate the importance and necessity of that goal being a little but selfish. All right, now let me unpack that. Here's what I mean – meaning you HAVE to – you HAVE to selfishly be so amped on it that you will endure the inevitable difficulty that comes with going after it. Right?
Anything worth doing is going to be difficult, which is why it's important that this goal is incredibly, incredibly relevant to you. Because it's going to be difficult but impossible and difficult are not the same thing. You know, for me I guess I see and I've been guilty of this myself. I see far too many people leave the dock, so to speak, with incredible passion only to get out in middle of the ocean and things inevitably get rough and then they abandon ship. So, you know, and when those waters get rough and, again, I'm throwing myself under the bus here as well because I'm guilty of this.
Our minds like double in intelligence and the excuses we are able to make and the rationale we're able to seduce ourselves into is absolutely mind blowing. So, this is why I kind of – I see this relevance as you've got to make sure that it's something you're selfishly so amped on that selfishly it's so important to you. So, ask yourself from the onset before you leave the dock, knowing that the waters will get rough – is this still important to me? Is this still relevant to me?
Is this still something that even though I know it's going to be difficult and challenging and frustrating and soul-crushing at times and in moments, is it still something that's so important and so relevant to me that even knowing that, I'm willing to pursue it?
Interviewer: Josh, can I share a little secret with you?
Josh: Come on, come on, come on.
Interviewer: When I first got the 33 guests together for these 33 episodes in January and early February of the month of freedom, I looked at the flow that I created and I was a little worried to be complete honest that nobody was going to tackle and choose the relevance side of this. So, I am so glad, thrilled, and a little relieved that you just knocked this out of the park, buddy.
Josh: You're welcome, America.
Interviewer: America – I think this is so cute because, Josh, I have people that come to me all the time and they just say like, "John, I see that you're interviewing entrepreneurs. You're doing it daily. Is that the recipe to success? Should I just mimic and copy that, then become successful?" I look at them and I say, "Well, do you want to talk to inspiring successful entrepreneurs seven days a week? Do you want to commit? Does that excite you? Does that fire you up?" Because it's not going to happen tomorrow. It's not going to happen a year from now. I've now done as we're speaking; I've recorded over 1,250 episodes for EOFire. It has taken time, energy, and effort and a ton of work because this is a marathon, Fire Nation. This is not a sprint, so relevance is so key to you for success because this is a long vision goal. Now, Josh, I want to shift back to your journey as an entrepreneur. You've set and accomplished many goals in your life but I just want you to pick one – one goal that you've set at some point in your journey.
Tell us a specific story around the setting of that goal for you and walk us through the steps that you took to actually accomplish that goal.
Josh: All right, so again, I want to take a different angle here because I know you're going to have 32 other people that are going to absolutely bring the heat and I've got a feeling that some of those other folks are going to walk through that. So, I’m going to take a little bit of a different angle here. I think this is going to hit a couple of people really, really hard. So, let me be blunt in setting this up. I tend to accomplish whatever it is that I set out to do. Now, I tend to be a little picky about what I take on. I really sort of own that idea of making sure that it's relevant to me that I am selfishly invested and care enough about it to endure the difficulty.
So, I am cautious on what I sort of take on but, just frankly, the things that I take on I tend to accomplish, which is why I want to kind of go at this angle. It's – you know, I guess it's like the foster kid in me. I just have this ability to endure difficulty and pain and I'm going to figure a way out to make it happen. So, I want to tell you what I'm terrible at in accomplishing a goal and what I want to get better at. In reading the Freedom Journal, I read specifically a chapter that kind of covers this and it was something that very much challenged me, which is this.
I want to get better at appreciating the process on the way to accomplishing the goal instead of just the end result of accomplishing the goal. See, I think I have this false belief and some sort of false construct in my mind that accomplishing "x" is what's going to make me better, stronger, a better person, a better husband, a better father, a better entrepreneur, which is false because really once I get there, then I'm on a high for 24 hours and I’m thinking about the next thing. So, for me what I’m trying to push and challenge myself in and I guess what I would push and challenge others that are wired like me that are very sort of driven, resilient are going to do what it takes to get it done is to see that the real value is in who you become, how you grow, how you adapt on the way to the goal. I have a friend who owns a clothing line and he talks about this. His favorite thing is the process of the goal, not the end result. I'm just like I don't even believe that you're real. Are you serious? Are you messing with me and trying to make me feel bad about myself? But he says, "Man, just the process of getting this new clothing line out or this new product out, I just love the mess of that and the ins and outs of that and what I learn through that."
For me, I tend to be so focused on just the end result that I don't realize the beauty and the strength and the growth that can come through those challenges, those frustrations, those highs, those lows, on the way of marching towards that goal.
Interviewer: So, there's a couple things I want to address here. On No. 1 – it kind of goes back to what you were talking about to be getting to this point where you often accomplish what you set out to accomplish and for me that goes back to you, Fire Nation, having to be very deliberate about what you do take on. There's a great quote by Derek Sivers "If it's not a hell yes, it's a no." If you really abide by that, then you are only taking on the hell yesses, you are going to be much more lucky to accomplish those things that you're taking on because you are fired up. You are saying, "Hell, yes, I want to take this on. Let's do this."
So, I love that quote. I love that mindset. Now, mind you, when I first launched EOFire, I had to say yes to a lot of things that I would never say yes to now but I had to get that ball rolling. I had to get that momentum going down the path. So, my definition of a hell, yes three years ago is different than it is now and that's an exact reason why when I actually set out to accomplish something, it has that hell yes stamp to it right now so I make sure that this is going to be for me. Then, the second thing I want to get to, Josh, and I'd love your feedback on this quote.
The great Earl Nightingale wrote a lot of good books, has a lot of good audio from back in the early 1900s. One of the things that really struck my chord when I was listening to this that just really popped back into my mind when you were talking is "Success is the gradual realization of a worthy ideal." Things that really jumped out to me about that quote is that it's not the success is realizing a goal. That's not success. What he's saying is it's the gradual realization, so it's the actual journey of realizing and not just any ideal but a worthy ideal that's so critical. So, what would you say, Josh, to Earl Nightingale if he was standing here talking about that quote right now?
Josh: First of all, I'd say, "You the man." I mean, I think nothing else needs to be said. Just secondly, how are you back from the dead? How are you doing this?
Josh: You make amazing quotes and you come back from the dead. That's amazing. I mean, it's 100 percent true because I think so many of us can fall into the mindset of not realizing that our ability to accomplish goals is not like a gift that some people are born with and some people aren't. You know, it's – we can't think that oh, you know, if you’re tall, dark, handsome, articulate, that you're going to be awesome at accomplishing goals. But what if you're like me – short, pale, freckly? Am I left to not be able to do that but rather it is a muscle. It's something that the more you do it, the more you push past that pain, then just like working out, that muscle grows.
It's through that pain. It's through that difficulty. It's through that stress and recovery that the muscle grows. In the beginning, the goals are smaller but what that does is that retrains your mindset to go, "Man, I didn't think I was capable of that." But now that I am, I've run many, many marathons in the last five years. I don't know, probably ten or so, and if you were to come to me five years ago and said, "Do you think you could run 26 miles in a row without stopping?" I’d be like, "You're on drugs. No." The truth is if you've never run 26 miles, could you go out and do it tomorrow? No.
Could you go out and do it nine months from now? Absolutely and what does that look like? It doesn't mean you start from zero and go to 26 miles. You go from zero miles and you do a mile and then you do two miles and then you do three and then you do four. You build up slowly that endurance – that ability to endure and then, you know, you look down the road ten months later and you've accomplished something that you thought perhaps never possible. But it's through that consistent, intentional improvement of those baby steps.
Interviewer: Consistent, intentional improvements – I love those words. Fire Nation, if you're loving what Josh is kicking out right now, well guess what? Your ears are speaking the truth to you. Go back and listen to Episode 530 as well. He just dropped that value bomb after value bomb. You'll see why it's the top ten episode of all time on EOFire of the now over 1,200 episodes that we've locked in to date, so that's quite the accomplishment. Fire Nation, don't go anywhere because we are about to hit the Freedom Round. But first, let's take a minute to thank our sponsors. Josh, are you prepared for the Freedom Rounds?
Josh: I'm ready, Dude. You know –
Interviewer: Why do you feel that most entrepreneurs fail to set smart goals?
Josh: Wishful thinking is not a strategy. It's important to be positive. It’s important to hope and wish and dream for things but it's not a strategy and so I believe that most entrepreneurs fail to set smart goals because of a lack of intentionality. You know, most of us just sort of let our day, our time take us. For me, I like to think of sort of planning my day like financial planning. I mean, if you think of sort of the definition, the idea, the construct of the purpose of a budget. The purpose of a budget is to give every dollar a name before it comes in.
You know, each dollar that comes in to the business or to the family, or whatever, here is our plan in advance for what we're going to do with that unit of value. I believe our time is the most valuable asset that we have. So, I believe that's what we need to do with our time is to define in advance what it's going to go towards, what we're going to do with that time. Define every hour of the day in advance around those priorities whether they be family, health, business, your marriage, your kids, whatever.
I think if we spend a little bit more time being intentional, then I think we will not only have the time to set our goals – not only the capacity to set our goals but we will have set ourselves up to where we have precious time allotted to accomplishing those baby steps that we're going to reach towards that goal.
Interviewer: Josh, you do a lot of things every day that lead to your success but what's one action that you take daily that you believe brings you closer to your current goals?
Josh: All right. I knew you were going to ask this question. I'm excited about it, so a few things. I have a very small to-do list each day so I try to limit my to-do list to just a few things. In doing that, I'm either forced to say why do I think that I have to do this? I could systematize it, automate it, delegate it, that sort of thing. In my checklist of things I need to get done on a day, which is typically three to four things, I list them from the least enjoyable to the most enjoyable meaning if I look at a list of things I got to do today and there's four things on there, I'm going to force myself – I'm going to force myself – I'm going to self-govern myself to do the thing I least want to do first – the thing I most want to procrastinate on. So, for me, maybe I need to have a difficult conversation. Maybe I need to have some healthy conflict – a crucial conversation with someone.
Well, that might be something I'm not looking forward to, I don't want to do, I'd rather put off and I assure you if that thing is sitting at No. 4 on my to-do list, I'm going to stretch out things 1 through 3 so that at the end of the day I'm going to go I don't have time for that. Oh, that's too bad. I'll put it off till tomorrow and wash and repeat tomorrow. So, that’s something that I do – really setting a limited to-do list not allowing myself. I believe being able to self-govern yourself, setting up these constructs for yourself even if no one else is going to do it.
Even if no one else is going to catch you – even if no one else is going to enforce it upon you but I read a quote that says "Where you lack internal maturity, place external structure." "Where you lack internal maturity, place external structure." Now, there are things that I'm good and mature in and there are things that I'm not and in those areas that I'm not, I have two options. I can either lie to myself and say no, I am really good at that and it's not a problem and I don't need help and I don't need boundaries and I don't need a construct or a plan or a strategy or I can say I am weak at this so I need to place some sort of external structure, accountability, and a game plan to hedge against this weakness.
Interviewer: You've written a great book, Teens Guide to World Domination. Love that name. Now, besides books that you've read, you know, that have really inspired entrepreneurs on different things, has there been a book that you really feel like is good for entrepreneurs to read when it comes to actually setting and accomplishing goals. Has one ever stepped out or jumped out to you?
Josh: I do. I'm feeling feisty today. I'm taking all your questions and I'm spinning a unique angle. I'm getting ready for my run for mayor I guess. All right, there are some great books out there. The Freedom Journal is awesome. Thanks for sending me a copy in advance. Here's what I want to challenge folks to do. Other than buying the Freedom Journal is this – I want you to go to your library in your house or your apartment or whatever and I want you to pull out a cookbook. I want you to find the most complex recipe possible in that cookbook and I want you to set out to make that recipe because I believe what we learn through the steps of cooking something that's complex, difficult, where there's subtleties, attention to detail is very important.
I believe that's a way for us to train ourselves to accomplish our goals because I think just like making some complex dish, it is the same sort of overall construct for accomplishing a goal because you have ingredients, you've got a game plan, there's steps, there's sequencing that's important, there's endurance when it's difficult. You're like what do you mean brine or what do you mean sea salt, or whatever. But I think if you challenge yourself – if you take a couple hours out just some evening for fun like what the heck, let's try this and make this really complex dish, you'll kind of look back and go oh, interesting.
So, I kind of broke it down. I've got a game plan. The recipe provided me this game plan. If I looked at the whole freaking recipe I got overwhelmed but I thought okay just do Step 1. All right, preheat the oven. Okay, Step 2 – skin that, do this, season this. You know, do these steps in this particular order and then boom at the end of it, you have this thing that you sought out to accomplish. I think that's a really fun challenge and a very reinforcing challenge for anyone that believes that they don't have what it takes to accomplish something that looks complex or fancy or ambitious from a glance.
But if you really roll up your sleeves and get in there and get after it, so to speak, I think you'll learn a lot about accomplishing your goal through that exercise.
Interviewer: Josh, you have my vote for mayor.
Josh: Come on. Hey, dude, I did run for class president in high school – the slogan – ready for this? Last name is Shipp – "Shipp Happens." That is all you need to win in high school. I had no platform – I had nothing. It was just like "Shipp Happens. Vote for me. Thank you."
Interviewer: Amazing! Josh, I want to end today on fire, so just break it down for Fire Nation with a parting piece of guidance the best way that we can connect with you and then we'll say goodbye.
Josh: So, website is joshshipp.com – that is Shipp with two p's. I've got awesome stuff on there if you have a kid in your life in your school, in your classroom, in your home that you care about – that you want to empower to do the best. I recently did an awesome TEDx Talk that you can view on there called Every Kid is One Caring Adult Away from Being a Success Story. It sort of covers the anecdotal and quantitative way that one caring adult can make a difference in a kid's life. If you're a speaker/author, someone interested in sort of working with that age group kids or those that influence kids, I got Youth Speaker University, which is also information on that at joshshipp.com.
Interviewer: Fire Nation, you know this. You are the average of the five people that you spend the most time with and you've been hanging out with JS and JLD today, so keep up the heat and head over to eofire.com. Just type Josh in the search bar. His show notes page will pop up with everything that we've been talking about today. Of course, Episode 530, this episode links to all of his sites and his great Ted Talk. It's all there. Josh, I want to thank you, brother, for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that, we salute you and we'll catch you on the flip side.
Josh: Boom goes the dynamite!
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