Dr. Richard Shuster is a psychologist and host of The Daily Helping podcast, whose guests inspire listeners to become the best version of themselves and make the world a better place.
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(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
[00:58] – Dr. Richard spends most of his time working with children and families who have experienced abuse
[01:13] – His podcast is another adventure where he connects with inspiring influencers to help people reach their true potential
[01:45] – His area of expertise is in IT, social work, and clinical psychology
[02:17] – Share something we don’t know about your area of expertise that as Entrepreneurs, we probably should: “To really win, your focus needs to be on helping on others”
[02:38] – “Everything you do should be purpose-driven”
[03:20] – Helping others fires the same regions of the brain that are activated when people receive pleasure
[04:41] – People may have evolved a lot, but the brain doesn’t evolve overnight – humans survived because of helping one another
[05:48] – Worst Entrepreneurial Moment: Richard’s worst moment was a 2-year string of misery. In his first entrepreneurial venture, he was obsessed with getting bigger and better—in doing so, he aligned himself with the wrong people and that cost him his business
- He was hunting the money and it was a mistake
[07:27] – Trust your instincts
[07:48] – The life changing moment for him was almost getting killed in a car accident
- During the accident, Dr. Richard was sure he was going to die
- The first thing Dr. Richard thought about was that he was letting people down
[09:49] – He went back to his work but nothing was ever the same again
[10:19] – He became even more miserable until he mustered up the courage to leave that business
- Don’t wait to make a change
[11:56] – Entrepreneurial AH-HA Moment: He was in a grocery store one day when he heard 2 women talking about social media. He interrupted the women to talk to them about his knowledge in the area, and they all hit it off. One of the women happened to be a school administrator, and before he knew it, Dr. Richard was lecturing at her school on cyber-safety
- It was that conversation in the supermarket that put him down his new path
[14:47] – Learn from your mistakes, be humble and be willing to say it’s something that happened
[15:31] – “Be humble, be happy”
[15:57] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? – “My entrepreneurial time really began after my failed business, even though it was a business, too”
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – “The work will always get done… it’s okay to close that laptop”
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? – “Gratitude for sure”
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation – Trello
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? – One Spirit Medicine – “this is such a great book”
[20:31] – “Do something everyday, no matter how small, in the service of others”
[20:59] – Connect with Dr. Richard on his website and podcast
Dr. Richard Shuster: I am ready to ignite, JLD.
John Lee Dumas: Yes! Dr. Richard is a psychologist and host of The Daily Helping podcast, whose guests inspire listeners to become the best version of themselves and make the world a better place. Dr. Richard, take a minute. Fill in some gaps in that intro and give us just a little glimpse of your personal life.
Dr. Richard Shuster: So, my personal life is I spend a lot of my time in my clinical work, working with children and families who have experienced abuse, physical, sexual abuse. So, that’s what I do in my day job, so to speak. Then, the podcast, The Daily Helping podcast is this other adventure in which I am connecting with some of the coolest and most inspiring, influencers to help people reach their true potential, and we have a movement along with that, the #mydailyhelping movement. And my goal is to get a million people each and every day to commit acts of kindness and put them out in their social media feeds.
John Lee Dumas: Super cool. And what would you say, today, Dr. Richard, is your area of expertise?
Dr. Richard Shuster: So, my area of expertise really comes from my combined experiences of doing some things I used to do. I was a former IT professional. I have a master’s in social work, and in my clinical psychology background, I have advanced training in forensic and neuropsychology. So, these are the things that I put together to help people overcome their weaknesses and really thrive.
John Lee Dumas: Well, within that area of expertise, what do we need to know as entrepreneurs so that we can thrive? And dig for something kinda deep here like something that we don’t already know.
Dr. Richard Shuster: I think it’s kind of cliché to say follow your heart’s desires and while that-
Dr. Richard Shuster: -And we already know that anyway so yeah.
Dr. Richard Shuster: For sure, for sure. And while that’s all true, what I’ve learned in business and life is to really win, to really win; your focus needs to be on helping others, period, your staff, your vendors, your clients. Everything that you do should be purpose-driven. And if your mission is nothing more than just amassing large piles of revenue, you’re doing it wrong. That isn’t to say that we, as entrepreneurs, shouldn’t want, shouldn’t strive for the financial freedom and all of the benefits that come with doing your own thing.
But what I’m saying is that the money and the accolades are gonna come if we’re fulfilling our purpose and we put the needs of others before those of our own. And there is a really large body of research that suggests the neurological components by this are out there. And I’m not going to cause your listeners to go to sleep and start focusing on neuroanatomy here, but this is what we know.
In a nutshell, helping others fires the same regions of the brain that are activated when we receive gifts and experience pleasure. So, this is called the mesolimbic pathway. That’s my only neurological term I throwing at you guys today.
John Lee Dumas: Spell it. No, just kidding.
Dr. Richard Shuster: It’s also called the reward pathway and for a good reason. And what happens is when we commit acts of kindness, when we help others, a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which a lot of people have heard of, that gets shot out into us. And that is the neurotransmitter which helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. This is a good thing.
Another thing that happens when you help others is it promotes the release of oxytocin into our blood stream, and the presence of that oxytocin is so important because it’s been scientifically proven, again and again, to promote feelings of trusting others. And these hormones in concert, what they can do is they can lessen stress levels and anxiety. They can elevate the helper’s mood, improve relationship satisfaction. And the other thing that’s really cool that entrepreneurs will appreciate is that it leads to fewer sick days, and that’s been proven in the research as well. So, that’s good for the business, good for the soul, good for everybody.
John Lee Dumas: One thing that I keep coming back to, and I think this was kind of spurred by the reading of Sapiens not too long ago, is, Fire Nation, we may have evolved a lot and come a long way in the last hundred years with everything that we now have in this “modern world,” but your brains down evolve overnight. And back in the stone ages and prior to that, I mean, we survived as a species by helping each other and by being part of that tribe and by being committed and supporting and guiding and all of these things. So, that’s why the brain rewards you when you do that kind of stuff.
And just because now, I could literally buy some small island in the South Pacific and just kind of hole up and do my thing, I don’t wanna do that because I wanna be part of a tribe. I wanna be part of a community. I wanna help others and do that. And you need to think about that when you’re structuring your day, your life, and your business, your career. That’s the thing that’s gonna bring you the most joy overall.
And speaking of joy, Dr. Richard, I wanna speak of the opposite of joy, which is misery because I wanna talk about your worst entrepreneurial moment to date. Maybe it was only for a minute. Maybe it was for an hour, but you were pretty devastated at one point in your entrepreneurial career. Take us to that moment. Tell us that story.
Dr. Richard Shuster: Well, it was actually a two-year strain of misery for me. And in this, I was doing the exact opposite of what I talked about prior. In my first entrepreneurial adventure, so to speak, in IT consulting, I had done some work as an IT consultant in a solopreneur, so to speak, but wanted to go bigger, better for the purpose of really just amassing things, boats and cars and all of these things that I felt like I needed to have at the time. And I aligned myself with the wrong people due to that allure of money and not to say that these guys were bad people, but they were the wrong people for me.
And even though my instincts were telling me otherwise, in the end, it really cost me dearly. The business was a disaster. I felt like I let a lot of people down, and I really sacrificed my integrity, I think, at the time because I aligned myself with people whose values and missions were so different than mine just because they had skill sets I did not. So, that was an extraordinarily hard message to learn.
John Lee Dumas: Well, knowing what you know now and looking back, what were a couple key mistakes that you made? And what were a few key lessons that you learned that you really wanna pass on to the Fire Nation?
Dr. Richard Shuster: Well, again, the mistakes that I made were that it’s hunting the money and, in doing so – We all have – I like the cartoon analogy, the angel on the left shoulder and the devil on the right. And it wasn’t quite like that, but we should trust our instincts. And my gut was telling me this is not right, and I think the other thing that really held me back was fear that I was afraid of letting so many people down that were believing in me to pull this off.
But really, kind of the game-changing moment for me, the life-changing moment was in the midst of getting this organization going, I was nearly killed in a car accident. I ended up breaking my back and suffered some pretty severe injuries, and that was life-changing for me for a number of reasons. And I said I wasn’t gonna talk about the brain very much, so I lied a little bit. I’m gonna talk about what we know about near-death experiences because there is a large body of research that shows that when people are believing they’re about to die – and I was sure I was going to die-
John Lee Dumas: -Now, when did you think you were gonna die? During the accident?
Dr. Richard Shuster: During the accident itself. So, what tends to happen if you’re driving a car and another car – Essentially, what happened to me in this moment was I was trying to make a left-hand turn. I was at the base of a hill, and it was very sunny. The sun was in my eyes, and I just didn’t see this car screaming at me full speed. But in the span of about a second and a half, I see it coming at me. And kind of like The Matrix, everything slowed down for me. And though it was only a second and a half or so, I was literally able, in that moment, to assess my life.
And the first thing that popped into my head, really, was I’m going to die now. And I was thinking, in that moment, of all of the people I’m letting down. My first thought was with my mom and my dad. Then, I was thinking about my brother, my sister-in-law, and what have I accomplished.
What was I trying to accomplish? I was so excited. I was telling everybody I wanted to have this giant boat and had had – And there’s nothing wrong with boats if you like boats, but I wanted things for the sake of wanting things. And the accident was completely in slow motion. I could see the center console being crushed into me, glass flying, and to this day, I don’t know how I survived the accident. It was so remarkably brutal, and it took me a long time to recover from those physical injuries.
And I did go back to my work. I returned and it was kind of like nothing was ever the same to me. It was almost like everything was just sort of this shade of gray, like I just wasn’t passionate about selling software networking and knew that I needed to be doing more, but I stuck it out, again, for those reasons I mentioned a little bit earlier, JLD, that I didn’t wanna let people down and I invested so much into it. And I really just became more and more miserable until I finally mustered the courage to walk away from it. And I knew that I wanted to do something that was more meaningful. I knew that I wanted to help others, and I knew that my purpose was to do something more altruistic. I had no clue in the world how to do it, but I knew what I was doing was not right for me. And I walked away.
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation, don’t wait for a devastating car accident or near-death experience to make a change. I mean, you know deep down. Your gut is telling you just like Dr. Richard’s gut was telling him. That intuition’s there. It’s been guiding us for millennia as humans, so don’t wait for that moment. Make that change now. There’s no reason not to.
And to kind of go back to something earlier you were saying, Dr. Richard, this Albert Einstein quote has made such an impact in my life because I, like you, in my mid-20s, early 30s, I was chasing success. I was chasing the money, and this quote by Albert Einstein changed everything for me. It was, “Try not to become a person of success but rather a person of value.”
And I looked back over the last six years, and said, “Man, I’ve just been trying to find success through the wrong areas: law school, corporate finance, real estate. What would I do if I could just be a person of value, nothing else?” And that’s when I had the aha moment of entrepreneur and Fire. So, that is a mindset shift that I think you need to be thinking about, Fire Nation, if you’re not already there.
And for you, Dr. Richard, let’s talk about an aha moment. What’s one of the greatest ideas that you’ve had to date? Take us to that moment you had that idea and how you turned it into a success.
Dr. Richard Shuster: I would say this aha moment kind of came after I walked away from that business. Again, I had this idea that I wanted to help others. I had no idea how I was gonna do this. I didn’t know if I could get into graduate school because I was a little bit older, and I had no clue what was gonna happen. I found myself at a grocery store one day, and I overheard two women talking about what is this Myspace, what is this Facebook thing, and were talking about are their kids safe, could they do this.
And then, I kind of interjected and I said, “I didn’t mean to interrupt, but I have a background in this, and I could give you some information.” And I talked to them. And they’re like, you need to come – One of them was actually a school administrator. And “you need to come to our school and do this.” And before I knew it, I’m not lecturing to schools about cyber safety and working with the cyber-crime division of the police in this-
John Lee Dumas: -And what year was this?
Dr. Richard Shuster: This was back in 2004-ish, right about then. So, social media was really starting to just find its roots, and it wasn’t long after that – because it was, for a while, just kids using it. Then, it just kind of exploded. So, I felt more at peace, and my aha moment was even though I had made this massive, what I felt at the time was a mistake and going into technology and the business, I’m able to pull from that. And now, I’m using my knowledge in technology to help others.
Then, as I was doing these speaking tours, and I was at one school and a school counselor came up to me and said, “Hey, Richard, we need mentors and we have a lot of female mentors but not so many male mentors. And we have this kid in the 7th grade, and he’s having a lot of struggles. Would you be willing to do it?” And I said, “Yes.” So, now, I volunteered to be a mentor for this kid and I kept him for two years actually.
And all of a sudden, it’s starting to come together for me. And I’m like, okay, so you can’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Even if you make mistakes, that’s okay, but you can learn from them. You can pull experiences from them and that’s what I did. Then, I had applied to a graduate program in clinical social work, got started, rocked that degree and then applied to a doctoral program in clinical psych and was fortunate enough to get into that school. And now, I’m doing what I’m doing, but it was really that initial conversation in the supermarket that kind of re-kickstarted my adventure and put me down my path.
John Lee Dumas: So, what would you say, Dr. Richard, you would want our listeners, Fire Nation, to really take away from your aha moment? How can we apply just that moment and the lessons you learned from it to our businesses?
Dr. Richard Shuster: Learn from your mistakes and be humble and be willing to know to say, “Okay, this is something that happened.” And even if you’re changing gears, even if you put out a new product line, even if your business completely shifts and changes, there are elements of your story which matter. And when you have the courage to say, “I screwed up, but I can take from this,” I think that’s the thing. We have to have humility. We have to be able to admit to ourselves that it’s a journey, and you only really are failing if you are just so arrogant as to say nothing that happens is my fault. Be humble, I guess, is the bottom line I would have to say from that.
John Lee Dumas: I do love the phrase, Fire Nation, be humble, be happy. And it’s something that I try to live by because we’re all looking for happiness in life. Why not start by being humble? Now, Dr. Richard has been dropping value bombs thus far. He’s been very kindly staying away from too in-depth terms of his area of expertise, which we all appreciate. But these value bombs aren’t stopping. They’re gonna be coming in the lightning round when we get back from thanking our sponsors.
Dr. Richard, are you ready to rock the lightning round?
Dr. Richard Shuster: Let’s do it.
John Lee Dumas: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Dr. Richard Shuster: For me, I say my entrepreneurial time really began after my failed business, even though that was a business. But I think the biggest thing for me was getting control of my time and starting a morning routine changed my life drastically. I started 114 weeks ago, and I have not stopped ever since. And I have been on fire, as you guys like to say, since that time.
John Lee Dumas: Nice. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Dr. Richard Shuster: I would say the best advice I ever received was from a resident when I was training at the Emory School of Medicine, and I was a graduate student at the time, feeling a bit overwhelmed with everything on my plate. And he smiled and looked at me and said, “You know what? The work will always get done.” And I’ve applied that to different areas of my life ever since. I think one of the great lies we can tell ourselves, as entrepreneurs, is that if I just dedicate 20 more minutes, send out some marketing blasts, a few more emails to clients, that that’s what I need to do.
And the work will always get done says that it’s okay to close your laptop. For those of you listening that have children, it’s okay to shut that laptop and spend the time with our loved ones because that’s why we’re doing it. And if we don’t, before we know it, we blink our eyes and our kids are off to college and really don’t remember having us in their lives growing up.
John Lee Dumas: What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Dr. Richard Shuster: Gratitude, for sure. One of the things that I do each and every single day is I spend some time every morning – During my morning routine, I focus on things in my life that are big and small that I’m grateful for, and I write them down. I journal them. It keeps me grounded and it helps keep my life in perspective for sure.
John Lee Dumas: Recommend one Internet resource.
Dr. Richard Shuster: Trello is amazing, and I don’t know if your former guests have brought Trello up, but for me, it’s an incredible tool. I can manage countless projects, which I essentially use to do different episodes of the podcast. I can see deadlines. I can connect with my team; get these updates in real time. It’s an essential tool that there is no way that I could live without.
John Lee Dumas: So, you’re saying you didn’t listen to the previous 1,790 episodes to make sure that you didn’t repeat the resource, Dr. Richard? I am absolutely furious.
Dr. Richard Shuster: I am afraid I … Yes. No, I’ll have to send you an apology letter or something. No, I did not listen to those previous 1,700.
John Lee Dumas: All right. Well, recommend one book, and don’t duplicate any of my past guests.
Dr. Richard Shuster: Okay. I’m gonna take a stab at this and I’m gonna say One Spirit Medicine by Alberto Villoldo.
John Lee Dumas: Wow, I think you succeeded.
Dr. Richard Shuster: Yes, yes. I wanted to. I wanted to say something different. This is such a great book. I heard this guy in about 2015 on Dave Asprey’s show, and his story is so fascinating. He is a psychologist and an anthropologist who went on a scientific expedition of some kind in South America. And he came back with all of these diseases. He had hepatitis. His liver was going to fail. He had brain parasites and he was dying. And modern medicine had absolutely no answer for him. They essentially said, “Well, we can put you on a liver transplant list.” And his response was, “Well, how do I get a new brain?”
So, what he ended up doing was he went to the Amazon rainforest where he lived with shamans. And while he should’ve died in just a matter of months, their medicine, their practices healed him. And I think this is a really fascinating book because not only is the story very, very cool, it blends science with spirituality.
Look, I’m a scientist. I’m trained in a model of Western medicine like most doctors, but what I like about this book is that it’s another humbling – and there’s that humility again – it’s another reminder that we, scientists, we don’t know everything. And having the mindset that there’s always more to learn and discover is not only awesome, but, Fire Nation, this is something that you should be thinking about, living, and breathing because as soon as we think we know everything, we’re setting ourselves up for failure.
John Lee Dumas: Speaking of fire, Dr. Richard, let’s end today on fire with a parting piece of guidance, the best way that we can connect with you, and then we’ll say goodbye.
Dr. Richard Shuster: So, my parting piece of guidance is this. Do something every day, no matter how small, in the service of others. So, I always say on my show that the happiest people are those that help others, and I talked a little bit today about the science behind that, so I’m gonna take Fire Nation to task here and challenge each and every one of you listening to join our movement. Go out and do something nice for somebody else. Post it in your social media feeds using the hashtag #mydailyhelping.
John Lee Dumas: And how can we find out more about you?
Dr. Richard Shuster: You can find me in a number of places. My website is thedailyhelping.com where you can listen to the show, find out more about what I’m up to, and get some resources. The podcast is also on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play. And I recently launched The Daily Helping app, which is on iTunes and the Google Play store.
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation, you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. You’ve been hanging out with DRS and JLD today, so keep up the heat. And head over to EOFire.com. Just type Richard in the search bar. His show notes page will pop up with everything that we’ve been talking about today. These are the best show notes in the biz, timestamps, links galore. And of course, head directly over to thedailyhelping.com, and turn on the podcast, The Daily Helping podcast. And Dr. Richard, thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that, we salute you and we’ll catch you on the flip side.
Dr. Richard Shuster: Outstanding. Catch you soon.
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