Kevin Bergen is a renaissance man who is down-to-earth. He loves to speak to huge crowds and is still an ordinary guy who is easy to talk to. He’s a therapist, photographer, podcaster, graphic artist, teacher, and poet. When asked how he does so much, he says, methodical self-care.
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Worst Entrepreneur moment
- Kevin was not only fired as president from his BNI group, but humiliated. What was his next action after this atrocity? You’ll have to tune in!
Entrepreneur AH-HA Moment
- Sharpen the axe Fire Nation, and YOU are the axe.
Small Business Resource
- Handle: To-dos + email + calendar = focus on what matters | Best new productivity app in the App Store.
Best Business Book
- The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris
Kevin Bergen: Light my fire, John.
John Dumas: Yes. Kevin is a renaissance man who is down to earth. He loves to speak to huge crowds and is still an ordinary guy who's easy to talk to. He's a therapist, photographer, podcaster, graphic artist, teacher, and poet. When asked how he does so much, he says, methodical self-care. Love it.
Kevin, say what's up to Fire Nation and what's going on in your world right now?
Kevin Bergen: Hey, John, you mentioned that all these different titles that I have, right? So, the problem is I wanna do it all. I have so many ideas popping into my head all the time and I'm just trying to do it all. I think what Fire Nation probably wants to hear the most about me today is that I am a psychotherapist turned entrepreneur.
I changed careers several years ago. I was in manufacturing, but I knew that I needed to do something that was really gonna help people. So, I love this feeling that I have now. Going home at night knowing that I made a difference in somebody's life. So, it's really filling me up to be able to do that. And I realized not long ago that I was limited with the one at a time fact to face sessions that I could see people in my office.
That's when the entrepreneur side came in. and because I wanted to make a difference in more people's lives. So, I wrote a book on how to leverage your self-care to find success. I developed a mobile app. And I'm really enjoying teaching thousands of people at a time via webinar now.
John Dumas: Well, Kevin, what I love about your story, specifically, is how much it resonates with Fire Nation. Our listeners right now, they have passions in specific niches and fields in different areas. They have expertise and skills in different areas as well. And such a consistent email that I get or any kind of social media contact says, John, I want to unleash my passion or my skillset upon others so that I can help them find what they're meant to do or so I can help them achieve something greater in life or be a better whatever they want to be.
I just love this mentality that, together, we can all combine our passions, our skillsets, what we love and what we're good at to make this world a better place.
So, Kevin, I'm on the exact same journey as you my friend. And I know that so many people within the Fire Nation are as well. And we get to hear about your journey a little bit today. Before we do, I wanna take a minute and dive into what I call the one-minute mindset which is five minutes into Kevin, into your mind, my friend. The first question is, ideally, what do the first 80 minutes of your day look like?
Kevin Bergen: Okay, so the first thing that happens is a very ripe banana with hot water and lemon with raw honey. So that's the first thing that I ingest. And usually, I'm gonna go right to the gym after that. I spend about an hour and half at the gym. I come back and shower. That's when I really see that my morning starts. So, that's part of your 80 minutes. That's right where my morning starts for me.
After that, there's a combination of things. I try to spend six minutes of total quiet, quieting my mind so that my mind has no thoughts in it. It's a form of medication, but it gives my mind an opportunity to rejuvenate and just rest. And I'm ready to go when I'm done with that six minutes. I also recite something that I've memorized. I take about ten minutes to write something whether it's a journal or a blog post, or some writing form. It usually turns out to be more than ten minutes. I wanna do at least ten minutes. Those are some of the steps that I take to get myself ready for the day and that's part of my self-care.
John Dumas: I love that, especially that six-minute part. In fact, just three minutes ago – because you're the first interview that I'm doing today – I will have my chairs swiveled around. My feet were kicked up on the ottoman. And I just had my eyes closed and I was just doing just a few minutes, just before we jumped on, of just quiet time. Letting my eyelids rest and just letting my mind wonder. When Kay walked in, she's like, oh, is everything okay? I'm like, oh, everything couldn't be better.
Kevin Bergen: That's fantastic.
John Dumas: Kevin, what is your biggest weakness as an entrepreneur?
Kevin Bergen: Do I really have to talk about that, John?
John Dumas: Yes, sir.
Kevin Bergen: My biggest weakness, John, is I don't know business. I was licensed and I was sitting in my office and I realized, oh, no, I'm a business owner. I don't know anything about business. I never studied business. I never really took business courses. Even in my graduate program, they just taught us clinical stuff. They didn't teach us, really, how to manage a private practice and what to do with stuff like that.
Now, I'm an accountant. I'm a website programmer. I'm a marketer, a videographer. I'm a phone receptionist, a landlord, a writer, editor, graphic designer. I mean, the list goes on and on and on, but I really don't know what business is about.
So, I listen to your podcast and I hear all of these ideas that people are doing and implementing. I'm thinking, I really need to get some business training. Then, I remind myself, I can't do it all. I need to hire people to do this stuff that I don't know how to do because I know the clinical stuff. That's my weakness. I just don't know business.
John Dumas: Well, Kevin, you're not alone, my friend. We learn a lot of – let me just use the word interesting things in high school. I know one thing that I graduated in high school not knowing was how to balance a checkbook. To me, that's just such – now, looking back – a fundamental necessity, especially back when I graduated. With everything online now, it's less critical, but that was some critical fundamental business stuff that got a lot of people in a lot of trouble. It's something that could have been taught in a handful of classes.
It's definitely something that we can, now, as entrepreneurs step up and self-teach and self-learn with places like Linda and even what MIT does in the Kahn Academy; that's K-A-H-N. Amazing opportunities out there, Fire Nation.
And Kevin, what's your biggest strength?
Kevin Bergen: So, my biggest strength is my passion. I really believe in what I do. I'm excited about what I do. I'm driven to share it. Everything that I think about, I think in terms of sharing or teaching other people. That's my passion.
John Dumas: Love that. So, Kevin, you have a lot of good habits. We talked about the bananas. We talked about the exercise, the meditation. What's a habit that you wished you had?
Kevin Bergen: I really wished that I calendared better. I teach clients and even friends and stuff to put your to-do items on your calendar. Put a specific time that you're going to do this, plan how long it's going to take, and then follow your calendar. I don't do that as much as I preach it. And I wish my habit was, at the beginning of the week, just look at my whole week. See everything I wanna get done, put it on my calendar. And then at the beginning of everyday, review that, adjust it, tweak it, make sure it's gonna work for that day and make sure that I can get all of my to-dos done in an orderly fashion so I don't feel overwhelmed.
John Dumas: Thad's a habit I am glad that I do have. If we woke up this morning, Kevin, and Google came up and said, oh, by the way, you just trashed Google calendar and there's no way for you to retrieve it. I'd be like, I have no idea what the next nine months of my life look like. Like truly –
Kevin Bergen: I love Google calendar.
John Dumas: No idea. So, Kevin, you have a lot of cool things going on right now, but what is the one thing that has you most fired up right now?
Kevin Bergen: I am so fired up that I can reach lots and lots of people at one with webinars.
John Dumas: Oh, yeah.
Kevin Bergen: I love this. This is what I was talking about earlier. So, limited in how many people I can see in a week, one at a time in my office. I'll never give that up, John. I love doing that. I also love being able to talk to a full auditorium-full of people or thousands of people on a webinar at one time. I just love that ability to make differences in people's lives on a grander scale.
John Dumas: Scale and leverage, Fire Nation, are amazing things you can do with webinars, podcasts, blogs, even like – Kevin just said – speaking at auditoriums. I'll tell you one thing, Kevin, from my experience. I will never give up ever. That one on one interaction that I actually, personally, even have myself on a week to week basis.
Anytime anybody joins Podcasters' Paradise, our podcast community, they get an email from me that says, can we chat? And they can sign up for a two-minute call where I just welcome them into Paradise and then ask them why they joined, how they found out about us. Just a couple really quick, but enjoyable minutes of chatting one on one. I did 65 calls last Saturday. Those were some of the best minute I spent all week. I love that.
Kevin Bergen: That's gold. Isn't it, john?
John Dumas: It's gold.
Kevin Bergen: I love it.
John Dumas: It's gold; the things you learn and the connections you make. So, Fire Nation, scale and leverage are amazing. Don't ever, though, turn your back on that one to one.
Kevin, we're gonna move now into your journey, my friend, as an entrepreneur. It's been a long one. It's been full of ups and downs, a rollercoaster ride, but what I want you to do now is take us to one of those downs and, specifically, the worst, the lowest entrepreneurial moment that you've ever experienced. And Kevin, tell us that story.
Kevin Bergen: Okay, John, this is really the one that I don’t want to talk about, okay?
John Dumas: That's exactly the one I wanna hear.
Kevin Bergen: Okay, okay, I'll give you all the down and dirty [inaudible] [00:10:30], right?
John Dumas: Yes.
Kevin Bergen: So, a couple to three years ago, I decided to get involved with a business networking group in Southern California. BNI is really huge. I got involved with this so that I could make some connections. I could meet people. I could learn how to expand my business and get known in the community, right?
So, I met a lot of people. It was a good opportunity to learn how to manage myself in a social networking situation; how to make contacts and stuff like that. I served in org positions. If you're gonna do something like this, you really want to get involved and be able to make sure that you are serving and giving back and that type of thing.
So, about year after I got involved, they came to me and asked me to be the president of the chapter. I thought, I'm not qualified to be the president. I really don't wanna leave this chapter. I just wanna do stuff and teach, and that kind of stuff. So, felt obligated, though. So, I took it on and I became the president.
There were some good things. Don't get me wrong. It was a lot of things that I learned and all that kind of stuff, but I knew I really wasn't a good president, but I didn't want to quit either because I felt obligated to fill out my term and do that kind of stuff.
Out of the blue one day, my vice president shows up and pretty much tells me, I was voted off the island. They voted me out as president effective immediately.
John Dumas: What?
Kevin Bergen: To make matters worse, they told the membership of the chapter that I quit. I thought, that's exactly what I didn't want to do and tarnish my reputation like that. They told them that I quit and it turns out that the vice president was in cahoots with the membership chair and the owner of Southern California BNI for weeks.
When I took over as president, that owner never said boo to me. Then, she was planning with the other people in the chapter to get rid of me as president. Then, on top of it all, she wouldn't even refund my membership, over $400.00. So, she wouldn't even do that and quoted some line in the contract and stuff.
So, that was a down time for me in entrepreneurship in building my business connections and really gave me a blow to how I saw myself as a businessman and that type of thing. But I learned a lot about networking that I use today even. And so, I turned that into a positive. I just try not to think about that experience.
John Dumas: So, there's a couple of things I do wanna dive into; not specifically the politics behind what happened. I do wanna mention something first and foremost is that, I am actually a huge fan of BNI overall. I was in BNI back in Maine as a commercial broker. I've had Ivan Misner as a guest on the show who was the original founder of BNI.
Kevin Bergen: He's amazing. He's terrific.
John Dumas: He's an amazing guy. So, there's some amazing chapters. I know a lot of Fire Nations in BNI, but of course, there's always the potential for these unfortunate events to happen within BNI, within any networking group, within any group that you're in.
The key thing is, in my opinion, is once that happens, Fire Nation, you need to look for ways not to continue to let that be an anchor and drag you down. But, No. 1, minimize the damage. How can I just take what happens and really be upfront honest about it and minimize any damages might cause in any way going forward. Then, No. 2, we need to move forward. We need to look forward as entrepreneurs because any time that's wasted on something that's already just a negative issue is just wasted time and energy.
So, I would say, Fire Nation, you find yourself in these situations, minimize damage, move forward, go on to the next that thing, realize this is life, things are going to happen. And then, Kevin, maybe, just one sentence, my friend, because I wanna move on to Story No. 2, what would you wanna pass on to Fire Nation here?
Kevin Bergen: What you said, take the blows and dissect it. See what you can learn from that. Then, move on.
John Dumas: Boom. Kevin, we're entrepreneurs. We need to be looking forward. That's what I wanna do now. I wanna talk about another story. I wanna talk about an epiphany, a light bulb that went on, an aha moment, so to speak. I want you to take us there. And just like you told us that story of BNI, I want you to tell us the exact story of when this aha moment happened, the circumstances around it. Walk us through that, my friend. Take us there.
Kevin Bergen: All right, so I knew a man who was a success coach. He was teaching people how to have success in their life. He told me that he required each of his clients to do this little exercise that would raise their well-being. It would focus on their own self-care. He said he required this, if they didn't do it, then he wouldn't keep working with them as a coach.
I thought, first, that's pretty severe. Then I realized, that's brilliant. If you're not willing to take action to preserve your own self-care, then you're not going to have success in your life. You can't do it unless you start on the inside.
So, I developed this exercise that he used with his clients. I added to it and I developed it into this protocol that I thought, okay, this is gonna be a mobile app. I need to make this so that people can pull it out on their pocket on their smartphone and plug in the actions that they're taking to take care of themselves, and then it's gonna calculate a score for them. It's gonna show what they're doing and just, it's gonna be really convenient and nice.
Well, my aha moment was after I was facing all these closed doors trying to get this mobile app developed, and programed, and raise funding for it. It just wasn't working, John. So, one day, I went to this presentation with a friend who invited me and I realized this mobile app, this protocol needs to be a book. And it was like the angels started singing. I realized –
John Dumas: The clouds parted.
Kevin Berger: Exactly.
John Dumas: The sun shine through.
Kevin Bergen: Exactly. This idea of a book, it's gonna reach a lot more people and it's the first book that I know of – maybe Fire Nation can tell us other example, but it's the first book that I know of that's being released with a mobile app. So, at the same time the book was released, it was available in the iTunes store. People can pull out this app and keep track of their own protocol. The book is called, The Bergen Protocol. See what I did there with my name right there?
John Dumas: Branding.
Kevin Bergen: This protocol is all about people taking care of themselves in order to achieve success. So, a quote from the book is, when you elevate your well-being, all your efforts to achieve become more effective. It's like that idea from Stephen Covey. He wrote, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
One of his habits is sharpen the saw. In other words, if you've got a forest that you're trying to cut through, it doesn't make sense to just keep cutting and cutting and cutting while your blade gets duller and duller and duller. Stop what you're doing. Sharpen your saw. And then, you're gonna be more effective at what you're doing. And that's what self-care is. It's sharpening your own saw.
A great example of this, a man I know, Rick Edler. He's a real estate agent, a really high-level real estate agent here in Southern California. He practices this well-being maintenance. He regularly journals. He regularly meets with his mentor. He clearly communicates with his wife. He goes to group support.
I have a group called advisory board where we have six to eight highly successful – most of them business owners – meet once a month. We have professional facilitation by me because I'm licensed.
So, he does his own version of that. He does all these things that make sure that he's looking at self-care and his own personal maintenance for his well-being. He's, therefore, a very successful real estate agent with Sotheby's International right here on the Palos Verdes Peninsula with very high ticket residential homes because he takes care of himself.
That's the whole idea and that was the big aha, is making this something that I was not only teaching to clients and friends and family, but with the book and the app, I was able to bring this to the masses and make a big difference.
I love this quote by Gombrowicz. It was misattributed to Thomas Jefferson recently, but this is a Polish writer. It's all about action, John. So, his quote is, "Do you wanna know who you are? Don't ask, act. Action with delineate and define you."
John Dumas: Man, we are throwing out some killer quote, Kevin. I love those three words that you used at the end of – or that I use in your intro at the end there which was methodical self-care. To me, that just make all the sense the world. That we, as entrepreneurs, as human beings, need to be methodical with our self-care and need to prioritize that self-care. Those two different things are very important for us to prioritize and be methodical about that self-care because we are that axe that needs to be sharpen which, again, when you're talking about that, cutting down the forest, it just brought me back to that Abraham Lincoln quote where, "If I had six hours to cut down a tree, I'd spend four hours sharpening the axe."
Kevin Bergen: I love that.
John Dumas: Right? Because it's all about methodical self-care. Do what you need to do for that instrument first. For Abraham Lincoln that was the axe. For us, Fire Nation, we, the humans, the human beings, ourselves, we are that instrument. So, first and foremost, focus on yourself.
Kevin, we have some cool stuff to get to, my friend. We still have a lot of awesomeness coming up in the lightning round. Before we get there, let's take a minute to thank our sponsors.
Kevin, welcome to the lightning round where you get to share incredible resources and mind-blowing answers. Sounds like a plan?
Kevin Bergen: Awesome, John.
John Dumas: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Kevin Bergen: John, for me it was confidence and belief. I didn't have the answers to, how can I do this? And even more importantly, how can I do this? I had to remember that no business experience or knowledge was something that was completely out of my reach. I could always find somebody to teach it to me or pay a coach or go online to learn something. This experience and knowledge can be gained, but I needed the confidence and to believe in myself first.
John Dumas: What is the best advice you've ever received?
Kevin Bergen: Believe in yourself.
John Dumas: Believe in yourself. Kevin, what I love about this entire interview, in general, is how it's all focused back on us as entrepreneurs and when it comes down to it, Fire Nation. What's more important?
Kevin Bergen: If you don't fill up your own tank, you're gonna run out of fuel. You're not gonna be able to accomplish anything. It's got to be focused on the self.
John Dumas: Kevin, what's a personal habit that you do have that you believe contributes to your success?
Kevin Bergen: I mentioned earlier, part of my morning routine is recitation. I recite on a daily basis something that I have memorized whether it's a poem or lyrics from a song, or a hymn, or a quote. At one time, I had memorized George Washington's, Farewell Address. It's just amazing stuff.
When you memorize, you get to fill up your mental your library. You don't have to open a book or pull out a paper from your wallet. You can review, and go through, and recite something that is really impactful and, thereby, grow and be impacted by that all over again wherever you are.
John Dumas: Do you have an internet resource like Evernotes that you can share to our listeners?
Kevin Bergen: I do. I recently found this. It's fairly new. It's developing. And it's an amazing app called Handle. Handle combines your to-dos with your email and your calendar to all work together. It's at handle.com. I love the little video that they have on their website. One of the things they say in there really hit home. That's why I downloaded the app and started using it. It says, do more without feeling overwhelmed. And if I can accomplish that, it's amazing. So, I love this Handle app.
John Dumas: Yeah, great branding, great name, Handle. I love it. Get a Handle on everything. Kevin, if you can recommend one book for our listeners, what would it be and why?
Kevin Bergen: John, the book that I have recommended to more clients and more friends that they've turned around and given copies to other people. It's called, The Happiness Trap. It's by Russ Harris. It is one of the most accessible books to learning how to just live your life, learning how to look at what your faced with, learning how to accept whatever obstacle or trial is in front of you, and just move on. It's terrific.
John Dumas: The Happiness Trap. Fire Nation, I know you love audio so I teamed up with Audible, and if you haven't already, you can get an amazing audio book for free at eofirebook.com. Kevin, this next question's the list in the lightning round, but I's a doozey. Imagine, you woke up tomorrow morning in a brand new world identical to earth, but you know no one. You still have all the experience and knowledge your 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?
Kevin Bergen: Okay, the key to the way you set this up is that I know no one. So, I don't have to worry about food. I don't have to worry about that kind of stuff, but my first step – this is what I'm gonna do in the first week – is meet as many people as I can. I'm gonna network. I'm gonna make friends. I'm gonna make acquaintances. I'm gonna make potential business partners, co-masterminders, and just people that I smile at or people for whom I leave positive feedback on their Facebook, or Instagram, or their blog and stuff. The key here – and you mentioned this, John, in a recent email that you sent out – the key is connect and thrive.
John Dumas: Yes.
Kevin Bergen: Connecting is what it's all about. If I'm in this new universe and I'm just dropped into it, I've got to connect with people because it's the people that make all the difference to our personal lives, our professional lives, our spiritual lives. Everything about us is connecting. So, I would do that. I would start a database as soon as possible. As a matter of fact, one of my webinar that I teach is, Business Techs for non-Techs. I show them right there how to start, maintain, use their own personal database.
John Dumas: Love that. Kevin, wow, I wanna end today how we started it which was on fire with you sharing one parting piece of guidance, the best way that we can connect with you, and then we'll say goodbye.
Kevin Bergen: So, that's got to be, believe in yourself. If you don't believe in yourself, you have no foundation to stand on. Then, if you do believe in yourself, you know that you can reach out to anybody to learn whatever you lack. As we connect with the foundation of believing in ourselves, there's nothing we can't accomplish.
John Dumas: And what's the best way we can find you, Kevin?
Kevin Bergen: You can go to, theactioncorps.com and you can also find me on Twitter, @bergenprotocol and you can join my Facebook group for those who find it important to take action in their life, it's facebook.com/actioncorps, C-O-R-P-S.
John Dumas: Fire Nation, you know this. You're the average of the five people that you spend the most time with and you have been hanging out with Kevin and JLD today. So, keep up the heat and connect, and thrive. And head over to eofire.com, just type Kevin in the search bar. His [inaudible] [00:30:01 page will pop right up with the links to all of his stuff, everything that we've mentioned today, all the awesomeness happens over there.
Kevin, I wanna thank you, my friend, for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that, we salute you and we'll catch you on the flipside.
Kevin Bergen: Oh, John, one more thing. I have a special giveaway for Fire Nation only. If they go to theactioncorps.com/fire, they will find a way to get the audio version free of The Bergen Protocol.
John Dumas: Wow, for free, Fire Nation. Love that word. Again, Kevin, that's theactioncorps – C-O-R-P-S – .com/fire?
Kevin Bergen: That's correct.
John Dumas: theactioncorps.com/fire, Fire Nation, of course, that will be on the [inaudible] page that link right there for you at eofire.com, type in the keyword, Kevin in the search bar, boom. You'll be able to get that free audio book and be off to the race.
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