Lewis Howes is a superman. What he’s achieved over the course of his athletics and media careers is quite extraordinary.
After injury quickly ruined his professional NFL football career, Lewis was forced to seek out new ways to earn his keep. After a long, tough period of reflection Lewis turned his attention to business and marketing. And, as they say, the rest is history.
Lewis has taken the business world by storm in a very short time. Since making his remarkable career change, Lewis has become a New York Times bestselling author, owner of a multi-million dollar online company, a regular speaker all over the world, and the host of the hugely popular podcast series, The School of Greatness.
With over 360 episodes of the podcast now complete, the ex-All American football star and current member of the USA handball team that’s aspiring to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, isn’t afraid of hustle. In fact, he hustles like few of us can even imagine.
I first discovered Lewis ahead of the 2015 World Domination Summit and from the very start, I was utterly captivated by his life story. Who would have thought that a professional athlete could author a comprehensive guide on how to leverage LinkedIn? I was intrigued, but once I decided to take things further and sink my teeth into The School of Greatness, this charismatic thought leader had me hook, line and sinker. So I set myself a goal: listen to 100 episodes of The School of Greatness before hearing him speak live in Portland.
Tragically, my father passed away during this time. Yet thankfully for me, I had Lewis’ podcast. The School of Greatness helped me live with and channel my grief, and in many ways it’s Lewis who I have to thank for the fact that I was able to successfully navigate this difficult time in my life.
So, it is with a sense of great honour that I had the pleasure of sitting down with Lewis in Portland during this year’s World Domination Summit to talk about what drives him, family, belief, following our dreams, why you have to really care to succeed and much more.
Woj:Welcome to Portland. How’s it going?
Lewis: Yes. Thanks, man. It’s going good.
Woj: Nice. So I’ve listened to all of those episodes, by the way, and it’s kind of weird.
Lewis: A hundred of them or all of them?
Lewis: All of them. Amazing. What’s your favorite one?
Woj: Good question. The one with your brother, the original one with your brother, the double episode.
Lewis: Yeah, that was fun.
Woj: That was a good story. That was the first time I think where you really showed your true, authentic side. Well, maybe not the first time but it was the first relatable story because I’ve got a brother. It’s just, yeah…it’s just that kind of camaraderie…
Lewis: That’s cool.
Woj: So have you got any plans to come to Australia and have you heard of AFL, Australian Rules Football?
Lewis: I’ve seen an AFL game. I went there four, five years ago to Sydney and Melbourne and watched…what was the team in Melbourne that I saw? There’s a team there in Melbourne that I saw but…
No, I can’t remember…I love Australia. I was only there for about 10 days so I didn’t get to experience as much as I wanted to. But a lot of people keep asking me to come down and speak and if we can create some type of event that makes sense then I’m happy to go.
Woj: Nice. Cool.
Your football career ended abruptly with a wrist injury leaving you unable to play professionally. You had a pretty drastic career change.
What was the “aha” moment or potentially series of moments that got you off your sister’s couch?
Lewis: I think for about a year and a half, two years, I was on my sister’s couch trying to figure out what I was going to do next with my life after my identity was done. I put all my eggs in this basket. My whole dream was to play professionally and then when the dream was no longer available…
My dad was starting to become successful in business and he said, “Go live your dream and when you’re done, you can come work with me in the insurance business.” So I always had that in the back of my head, like I don’t have to figure anything else out because I’ll have that. And then my dad got in a really bad accident. He got in a car accident in New Zealand, actually, and he was in a coma for three months. We didn’t know if he was going to make it or not.
When he came back, he finally woke up and came back to the States. We had to teach him how to write, how to talk, how to read again, how to just do functional movements. He’s alive today but he still has amnesia and he can’t work anymore.
So he’s not really available to mentor me or to guide me in any way. So I think after a couple of years I just said, I don’t have this backup plan anymore. My father is not there to support me emotionally, financially, spiritually.
Woj: You looked up to him a lot.
Lewis: Yeah, of course. I mean, he’s my dad.
So I think at that point I just said I have a choice. I can continue sleeping on my sister’s couch which I was doing for a while and not make anything of my life or I can discover who I want to be and the impact I want to make in the world moving forward.
I just knew that I…something inside of me was like I was supposed to do something. I just wasn’t sure what it was. So I went on a journey of discovery and I started taking on multiple challenges for myself to grow. I did public speaking every week. I started salsa dancing. I was trying anything that I could. I was learning about online marketing. I was reading books. Watching videos, just consuming as much information as possible about things that I’m curious about.
I think it was just that feeling of I want to matter in the world. I want to leave an impact on other people. At that time I didn’t feel like I was doing anything.
Woj: How many years ago was that?
Lewis: This was 2008/2009 so 7, 8 years ago.
Woj: And look at what you’ve got now.
Lewis: Yes, it’s been a journey. I’m committed to growing and forgiving myself for my past behaviour, actions or things that I did or didn’t do, or ways I’ve hurt myself, and other people. I’ve learnt to let go of things and allow myself to live in the moment.
Woj: I think that’s what I need to work on with myself. I need to start becoming friends with myself.
Lewis: It’s the most important thing. You can’t give love to anything…anyone else if you don’t love yourself first. We can only give what we have. So if you don’t love yourself, you don’t have it personally, it’s hard to give it.
Tell me about the Flewis days and transitioning to The School of Greatness.
Lewis: The Flewis days, yeah.
I mean, I was so focused on making money because I didn’t have any for a long time and I just never wanted to feel scarcity again, financially. I didn’t want to feel like I couldn’t provide for myself. Also, I just wanted to be able to make sure that I would never go broke again. So I was so fixated on making money and saving it and investing it and just seeing it grow in my bank account because I just didn’t want to be broke. I didn’t want to rely on anyone else’s help. I still reach out for support constantly in other ways but I didn’t want that holding me back from creating a life of my dreams.
It was like I was doing finals in school, college finals week for years. Every night I was up until 4:00 a.m – working all day, and eating whatever I wanted. As a former athlete I used to eat whatever I wanted cause I was training really hard. So my body was able to burn it off.
But now I wasn’t training as hard and I gained like, I don’t know, 30, 40 pounds. I remember I’d just moved to New York City and I was getting bigger and bigger and I was like, this is unacceptable.
If I want to be great in this life or if I want to be an example of inspiration to people, then that means I’ve got to work on all areas of my life. Not just my finances, but also in my body.
So I took a new challenge. I said, for 30 days I’m going to do no sugar and no gluten and I lost 30 pounds. I just started researching and learning. My whole life I thought that pizza was healthy. I thought that French fries were good for you. I thought that chicken fingers were good. All these things. Bread and cheese, I was like, “Yeah, that’s good.” Because I wasn’t educated about it growing up in the Midwest.
So for me I had to educate myself. So I started surrounding myself with all the health experts, reading the books, listening to podcasts, things like that and then doing things that I didn’t like doing. I didn’t like giving up foods that I liked. I didn’t like eating vegetables and green juice. I hated green juice. I didn’t even want to try it, but I said this is something that I need to do to master my health. And I’m still not exactly where I want to be all the time.
Like this last week I was in Brazil eating a bunch of junk food and staying up all night. But I think at the same time I’m very aware of how I can turn it on and off, and give myself a break every now and then. You don’t have to be perfect.
Woj: That’s balance.
Lewis: Exactly. I’m always looking for what isn’t working in my life. Or what’s missing. In that moment, having a healthy lifestyle was missing. So I said, how can I learn and grow?
That’s really when the School of Greatness podcast idea started to come about. I like to grow and learn. Tony Robbins says that the key to fulfilment is growth and contribution. So if we’re not growing, we don’t feel fulfilled. If we’re not contributing, we don’t feel fulfilled at the highest level. The podcast allows me to do both. I get to personally grow and learn, plus I get to connect with other people and give that information to someone else and contribute back to the world. So it’s very fulfilling.
Woj: I think that’s what resonated so much with me. It wasn’t just business oriented. It wasn’t just marketing oriented. It was nutrition. It was the whole…
Lewis: Relationships, spirituality…
Woj: Yeah, it’s just a whole host of learning experiences. It’s really good.
Lewis: Thanks, man. I appreciate it.
What lessons did sport teach you about business, in particular, the notion of belief?
Lewis: I just feel very grateful that I’ve played sports my whole life because, man, I just don’t know. People who haven’t experienced sports, I just feel like they can’t understand what hard work really looks like unless they’ve done some type of manual labour or something where they’ve physically gone through hell. I feel like when the body is under extreme stress, then you’re able to move through life in a more effective way. I don’t think you have to do it your whole life, but if you’ve experienced it for some amount of time – physical strain and stress and constant pressure – you’ll benefit in life.
So when you have a business, when you’re starting out, when pressure situations come up, if you haven’t experienced them before it’s hard to just step up. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but just the background of it. I’ve faced pressure situations my entire life. So business seemed pretty easy. I mean, it wasn’t all easy. It was still hard, but it just seemed like, “Oh, this is an easier transition.”
Woj: It’s easy to hustle.
Lewis: Yeah, it was like I can do this because I’ve done it my whole life. Whereas I feel like people who haven’t done sports or some type of activity that requires practice and puts you in high pressure situations are at a disadvantage. It’s hard to go and run a business on your own.
Woj: I used to do a bit of long distance running and you reach those points when you just say…”Stuff it, I want to start walking. You’ve got to push through those barriers.
Lewis: The wall. Once you overcome the wall you feel like you can go for a while.
Woj: I mean, there’s always another wall, but then you get around it and then next time you do the 7-kilometer track – you sort of push through and you learn to adapt and just charge through that wall.
Lewis: That’s it. I think a lot of people don’t have that mindset. So belief is one thing. When you put yourself through a lot of these challenges, physically, mentally, emotionally, and you can get on the other side, you finish the 7K, you build that belief. That’s something that I’ve been doing my whole life. There’s always a new challenge, a new obstacle to grow into.
Woj: I think you said in the past that athletes and leaders have two forms of belief. It’s either a spiritual belief or a belief in themselves.
Lewis: I think you’ve got to have a little bit of both. I think in my experiences, if I’d just believed in god and not in my abilities, then I don’t know. I think you’ve got to have a little bit of both.
Woj: How do you balance your relationships, work, health and fitness and everything else that you do? I know you’ve previously talked in terms of seasons.
Lewis: It’s all seasons. In my business, at the beginning of the year, I say here are the three or four things that I want to accomplish, the big goals. So I work towards each one and I spread them out throughout the year. I space it out. I give myself time to research, learn, create, launch.
Research, learn, create and launch, for each thing that I want to create.
Then I build my lifestyle around that. So I’m following my morning habits, routines, workouts. It also depends on my sport. If I’m playing handball and there’s a USA tournament coming up, then I direct more attention towards that. Workout more, do more physical therapy, and less with the business. The same thing with my relationships. I’m in a relationship right now, and some weeks are incredible, in other weeks I don’t know if it’s going to last. There’s a lot of uncertainty, if I’m being honest.
So I give more attention to particular things when I need to and I try to maintain balance throughout. It’s just a matter of being aware, and I take time every single day to ask myself what’s working for me this week? And what’s not.
My health isn’t working. I feel lethargic. I feel tired. I feel out of shape. I’m not comfortable with the way I look. So let me put more attention there. My finances, my business isn’t working. So let me put more attention into generating sales, what I need to do to generate this much more income in the next 30 days and how can I sustain that system? So I think it’s a process of constant evaluation.
I think when we set up a ritual or a routine, a practice, journaling in the morning, at night, we can receive that feedback very clearly, what we liked, what we didn’t like throughout the day.
Woj: So the flipside to flying by the seat of your pants, which is probably what Flewis would have done.
Lewis: Exactly. I didn’t have the structure. I think we create freedom in structure. So it’s a matter of setting a schedule for yourself everyday and scheduling in the things that are important. So schedule in your workout. Don’t just say I’m going to work out today. Say this morning at 8:00 a.m. and then have the whole week mapped out of when you’re going to work out and set yourself up to win if things are challenging. Maybe you need to have a trainer come to you. Maybe it’s that you need to go somewhere to do it. Maybe you need to have an accountability partner who says, “Okay, we’re going to run together.”
Because doing things that we tend to resist is hard on your own, wouldn’t you agree?
Woj: Oh, yeah.
Lewis: So you’ve got to set yourself up to win.
What are the 3 greatest life lessons that you’ve learnt from hosting the podcast?
Lewis: So many great ones. I’m going to keep it simple.
I think the common theme is lead with love. Lead in every situation with love. I think that’s a universal truth.
The second thing is: discover and pursue your dreams. I think what is the point of life if we don’t have a dream? Why be here if we aren’t going to at least discover that? Then pursue it. Whether we achieve it or not is in my mind irrelevant.
Woj: Often people forget to celebrate the journey.
Lewis: Absolutely. And every single day there’s something magical that happens. We experience life another day. That’s why we should start, finish and process the entire day with gratitude. Because it’s like, “Wow, there’s so much good.” Even if I’m going through a challenging time with my girlfriend and it’s like, man, there’s a lot of tears right now and there’s a lot of uncertainty and there’s a lot of crying and arguing and not clicking. But it’s like, god, this is beautiful. We’re both up against our walls and our buttons and there’s so much messy uncertainty. But something beautiful is going to unfold and I want to trust the process of our lives.
Life just isn’t as fun without dreams and I think we forget about dreams. We focus on making money or doing things we’re supposed to do. But gosh, dreams make me feel alive.
Woj: That’s what we did as kids, before there were barriers.
Lewis: That’s it, man. So pursue and follow your dreams would be number two.
The third one is: you matter. I think a lot of people don’t think they’re worth it. We are all chosen to be here. For that alone, you matter.
For years I didn’t think that I mattered. I strove to achieve so that I could be acknowledged. Then I would achieve everything that I wanted but I still wasn’t fulfilled or happy. It’s because I didn’t just choose and decide that I mattered. I was waiting for everyone else’s validation.
Woj: You let the world decide.
Lewis: Even when they did…even when they did validate, I still didn’t believe it. I was always frustrated and unfulfilled.
Woj: What’s been your favourite interview, of all the interviews you’ve done?
Which story left the greatest impact and why?
Lewis: Sure. This is tough. There’s so many great ones. I really liked interviewing Tony Robbins.
Woj: Have you seen his new movie?
Lewis: I did. I saw it with him.
Lewis: His story is really powerful. Maybe it’s too obvious because he’s just so well-known, but he’s just created such an incredible legacy and he’s made himself into the person he always wanted to be.
He’s impacting millions of people. For me that’s something that excites me.
It’s like developing myself into the vision of who I want to be and in the process being a symbol of inspiration for others and providing resources and support for other people.
His story of his mother abusing him and essentially abandoning him. But he…
Woj: He’s a big guy.
Lewis: He is a big guy, but the thing is he was like, “I look back and I’m so grateful and love my mother for this because she made me who I am.”
Woj: She taught him a lot.
Lewis: Well, he’s like, “I wouldn’t have this much compassion. I wouldn’t have this much drive. I wouldn’t have this much whatever, belief in myself etc if I wasn’t able to overcome that much tragedy at an early age.” So it’s like, “If she was the most beautiful, loving mother that I could have ever wished for, I’d probably be selling cars or something or whatever.”
So for me it’s like I can relate to that because of things that I went through personally. We all go through our own things. I’m not saying mine’s worse or easier than other people or whatever, but we all go through our own things that affect us in our way.
Woj: So you can relate to the challenge of adversity.
Woj: You’ve experienced your fair share of success in recent times, like with your recent New York Times bestseller. Everyone seems to quickly shift focus on what’s next.
How important is it to celebrate success, to pause and reflect and really appreciate the achievement rather than moving on to what’s next?
Lewis: Yeah, what’s now. It’s funny because during my book tour last year, everyone asked that question, “What’s next? What’s next?” I was just like, I’m focusing on what’s now. I think we forget about the now. In my whole life I was focused on what’s next.
So I mean, what’s next is what’s now. Right now I’m writing and researching a new book about masculinity. I also really want to create a better, deeper, more intimate community and bring people together. So I’m hosting an event here in the next six weeks and that’ll be my first big gathering, kind of like where we’re at right now.
So I’m really excited about the daily process of figuring it out and producing both a book and an event and thinking of it from a way of just how can I create the most value in every page, in every minute of this event, in every part of this experience? How can I just learn how to facilitate impact without me having to do the work?
How can I structure a book or an event so that every moment there is impact? So just going to the Olympics, I was just at the Olympics for a week in Rio. I was just like I’m very aware and in tune of how I feel in every experience. I say, how can I recreate that and steal it like an artist? Have you read that book?
Lewis: So there was a thing that happened in the Olympics. It was like – gosh this is an incredible experience – this Holland House…there’s these country houses they have where the athletes can come and relax and have parties. This house for the Netherlands did this incredible acknowledgement for any medal winner at the end of the night.
It just gave me the chills. I was like I want to recreate that for my speakers coming on stage and acknowledge them. So I’m just thinking about every aspect of what I’m creating.
Woj: Kind of like – are you familiar with the Wayfinding Academy at World Domination Summit?
It’s like they started a university for people that don’t really know what to do.
Lewis: Yes. They started last year, right? Yeah, got it.
Woj: Yeah. So they brought the organiser on stage and they showed the enrolment process. So they gave him their capes straight away and a big box.
Lewis: No way.
Woj: They actually…rather than saying enrolment starts in a month’s time, they delivered the box to their doors and…
Lewis: It starts right now or…
Woj: Yeah, it starts right now. We’ll see you at enrolment in a week’s time. So it was like the whole experience, it’s a whole delight.
So it’s different. It’s a different level of customer service.
Lewis: That’s it. So I’m excited about what I’m creating right now, which will eventually launch into something.
Woj: You’ve said entrepreneurs only have time. People vote with their wallets if it will be a success. So that’s in the context of launching idea before making the product or service. What exactly do you mean by that?
Lewis: I think so many people want to launch something but they don’t see if people want it first. So I say see if people want to buy it first before you create it.
In that way it saves you a lot of time and energy of trying to think what people want as opposed to saying, “Hey, I’m going to offer this. Do you want it? If so, buy it for an extreme discount right now and I’ll deliver it in a couple of weeks or deliver part of it at a certain time whenever you can.” Especially with an online course, coaching, some type of service, that doesn’t take a long time to create. It’s not like a physical product.
That is a great test market to see if people want what you’re offering and if they don’t buy then you don’t have to create something for six months and waste all your time and energy. I think so many people focus on the creation of it before they know if people want it. So make sure people want it with…not just by saying, doing a survey and people saying, “Yes, I want it.” When they put the money down, then they want it.
But if they just say, “Yeah, that’s sounds cool. I would buy that.” No. Give them an offer to buy it right now. If they don’t buy it, don’t create it.
Woj: When you did that, did you already have an established list?
Lewis: When I first started, no. I launched my first course to someone else’s list. So I didn’t even do it. It was my first webinar. I didn’t have a course and I said, here’s something I’m going to come out with in the future. If you guys want it, here’s…buy it for $150 bucks. Here’s a PayPal link and I’ll send you more information later.
People bought it. I was like, now I can develop it. Now I can create it and then start delivering it. I’ve done that for a lot of my courses. Now I know what people want and I’ve done it so much so I know it’s going to work for a lot of things. But I still pre-sell a lot of things before I create it.
Woj: You talked about not being able to measure Return on Investment for branding, but that the branding is very important and to invest in good graphic design to help with things like perception.
Is there a moment where you go too far and you start to compromise authenticity, and lose the human connection where the branding is too produced?
Lewis: With branding? If it’s too good?
Woj: Because when you record things from your iPhone, there’s an element of rawness about it versus when you get…
Lewis: Yeah, that it seems cool or whatever. It’s too produced. I think if it’s you, I think whatever you represent then that’s where it should be and if it looks polished then that’s just who you are. I think quality is always better than average or just whipping it together. You know what I mean?
I think being intentional and quality is more powerful than on your iPhone.
Even though sometimes I do it on my iPhone because it’s just like I need to. It’s last minute. But…
Woj: Looks like you care and you’ve…
Lewis: Yeah, you’re intentional. I don’t know. If Apple just threw things together on an iPhone, would you buy it? Are you so amazed of the intentional quality of thought they put into each element of the design, of the phone and whatever it may be.
So I think…and you can always evolve a branding, But I think it’s just got to be you. If it doesn’t speak to who you are, if it doesn’t say, “Yes, that’s that person,” then it doesn’t work.
Trying to be someone you’re not through branding doesn’t make sense. You can enhance who you are.
How do you stand out and be the signal when there’s so much noisy content out there?
Lewis: I think you’ve got to really show people you care about them.
Let’s just speak for the podcast right now. I mean, there’s what, almost a half a million podcasts out there. I was just talking with a friend yesterday. I was just like, gosh, I don’t know how people are launching them so much and thinking that they’re going to get big quickly. It’s just going to take time.
The only way that I can think about it is I really care about my audience. I say no to a lot of people that want to come on who are friends of mine or just pitching me constantly that I feel bad saying no to but I’m like, you know what? I’m really trying to think of my audience here and not just say yes.
Woj: And your community.
Exactly. So I think showing my community that I care but also when I have guests on I really care about them as well. I’m very intentional about the people I have on and making sure I’m giving them my full energy and acknowledging them for giving me that time. And for giving my audience that time because most people don’t. I don’t know anyone that does that.
A lot of people say, “I appreciate the way you acknowledge people at the end of the podcast.”
Woj: You can almost hear it in their voices.
Lewis: People can’t… they don’t even know how to receive it. People are almost embarrassed or in shock or just overwhelmed. I see it in people’s eyes when I acknowledge them. I started interviewing people only in person and, man, it’s like… a lot of people were just so appreciative. I see that and I think it’s the human element of caring and seeing people for who they are is what we really want.
Woj: You bring that out just in audio. It’s great.
Lewis: It’s good. I mean, I’m just trying to give my best every day. But I think that’s what’s…what was the original question? How do you differentiate yourself in the sea of people?
I think the human connection is one way that you can do it. I think branding is how you differentiate also. If you have the same average looking brand or unintentional looking brand like a lot of people, then you’re not going to stand out. So branding is important and then the human element of just really caring about other people in your work.
With so many platforms, particularly Snapchat and now InstaStories, do you feel the pressure to show up every day and how do you balance the online sharing of personal connections? Do you sometimes feel the upkeep to share is taking over?
Lewis: I’ve never managed it in the way that works for me but there’s definitely moments where I’m like, gosh, what can I create today if I wasn’t posting for that hour of time or checking or responding? I think one of the reasons my audience has grown is because I continually show up in social media and respond to a lot of people.
I go on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube. I try to respond as many comments as possible. People send me direct messages all the time on Snapchat and Instagram and I try to respond as much as possible. That takes time and energy. But it also shows that I care and people were always like, “I can’t believe you replied.” But I care that they want the information without someone coming to me like I want to have what I have.
Woj: You continue a conversation.
Lewis: I want people to keep coming back because there are so many of these distractions, so much going on. I want them to be like, “Oh, this time I want to go to Lewis. He’s going to reply or someone’s going to reply or maybe he’ll reply because he has before or something.” I think the challenge for me is it’s hard to do that. If it keeps growing it’s not…I don’t like the word scalable but it’s not. It’s not.
So I think finding a way to create a win-win where I bring someone on my team to really be like a community relationship builder where they’re replying to everyone so these people know that someone’s going to reply to them. That way I can just focus on posting the things that I need to post that only I can do. No one else can InstaStory or Snapchat for me. They can Tweet or Facebook whatever but just creating better systems in place.
I’ve got a full time video person now, full time podcast editor I’ve had for years who manages specific elements of social media so I don’t have to do it all.
At what point did you decide having helpers like a personal assistant or a chef was the best investment to optimise your life?
Lewis: I mean, years ago I knew. Five, six years ago I wanted to have virtual assistants from the Philippines actually. I realised that I needed more people like local just for me, for what I needed, for what I like.
I like fast. I like to be able to talk to someone right now. I don’t want to wait a day to talk to someone.
I just said, “What are the things in my life that would make me happy if I didn’t have to do?” That’s what I wanted. To feel flexibility, freedom, fulfillment, happiness as often as possible. Cooking is just not… I enjoy it when I want to do it but I just don’t want to do it that much. I don’t want to do all these personal tasks that take me away from my business or creating or doing what I do best.
So I just started bringing on people and I knew that there’s no way I could build the financial wealth that I wanted to, the impact on people, build the community that I wanted to all by myself.
Apple wasn’t built just by Steve Jobs. He had tens of thousands of employees because he could have not done any of it on his own. So the only way to build any type of mega impact business is with a team.
Listen, I’ve only got 10 people on my team right now so it’s not like I have to have all of these people but I think we’ve got to figure out how many people do you want in your team to take away the jobs that you don’t want to do. They’re going to help you grow. Then you can focus on the thing you’re strongest at.
As an entrepreneur or a business owner, we only need to be focusing on revenue generation if that’s what we’re good at because no one else can do that on our team. So that should be the only thing we focus on, is how am I going to continue to make money to pay for the team and pay myself?
Tell me about your Mask of Masculinity project and why that’s so important to you right now.
Lewis: A few years ago I went through a workshop where I started to reveal and let go of the things from my past that I was holding onto my whole life. As I was writing the School of Greatness book, a lot of this stuff came up from me talking about it through the book. Then during my book tour, I was just doing all this Q&A and this same topic of just being true to yourself, being vulnerable as a man and what does that mean, what does that look like and what does that really give us when we can drop the walls. Because I had masks and walls, barriers, whatever you want to call it, for many years to portray an image that I wanted to be.
When I released that from myself, I just felt freedom. I felt deeper connection with people and my business started growing and my relationships started growing. I was just kinder to myself and other people, and I wasn’t as resistant and reactive. I was just like, wow, what a amazing thing. Drop the mask.
There’s a lot of suffering and pain that men are going through from things that I don’t think they’re able to express, or able to let go of.
Just from my own experience – this is all my own personal experience. It’s like I realised this is what was happening to me and the more I talk with men I realise there’s a lot of pain that men are going through. Obviously, women are going through a lot of pain and suffering as well, but I feel like there’s never been an open conversation for men to be vulnerable and be okay. At least in American society.
The reason I’m doing it is because it’s something that scares me to talk about because I have to be vulnerable. It’s constantly pushing me to go there when it’s not always the easiest thing.
The easiest thing is to not be vulnerable, and wear a mask and try to look good and all these things so I constantly grow myself and push myself but really impact.
Woj: So it’s Captain America as you put in your talk last year.
Lewis: Right. He says, really, how can I impact more people and this is a way to do that. My School of Greatness is going to continue growing and it’s going to build but I want to focus on another topic as well that can be a standalone piece to give to people, that women can read and connect with their boyfriends, their sons, their fathers, their brothers. These men who are guarded where they feel like they can never talk to them or, when this subject comes up, they shut down. So what do you do in that situation so you don’t make them feel bad or wrong or you don’t emasculate men?
Then for men to read it as well so they can have tools to process some of these things in a comfortable, safe place when they’re ready and not pressure them to have to do something or be something. So I want to figure that out.
So at the end of your interviews you always ask the guests for their definition of greatness. Rather than ask for yours, I’d like to know how your definition of greatness has changed and evolved throughout your life.
Lewis: When I was younger I think my definition was being a professional athlete or just achieving my goal as an athlete would be greatness. Then I think at one point it was probably like make a lot of money. Make a lot of money and be able to provide for my family or something.
Now it’s to discover and pursue your dreams and make the maximum impact on people you can in that pursuit. I think that, again, it comes back to dreams. I don’t know what the point of life is without a dream.
Maybe at some point we’re not going to know what our dream is but discovering and pursuing to figure it out and then impacting people living in service in that pursuit.
Woj: I think a lot of people lose their way and they forget that they had a dream in the first place or finding their way back.
Lewis: Yeah, but it’s like, what’s the point? If we don’t have a dream, what’s the point? I mean, I don’t know.
Lewis: It’s just to wake up and provide and work and die. For me, I just feel like we’re born for more than that.
Woj: There’s actually a good TED Talk that Brit shared, I think the Legacy Facebook group. It was a TED Talk of a guy in procrastination. One of his final slides was this big chart of a hundred squares. The first 40% were filled out. He said, “This represents a month of your life. This is the squares you have left. Are you going to mess it up or are you going to act now?”
Lewis: Right, right. Exactly. Wow.
Woj: Finally, where do you see yourself in five years’ time.
How will you continue to build a lasting legacy?
Lewis: You know I can say what I see myself but I’m so open to whatever. Anything can happen any day. So I’m open to going where I feel like I’m called to go to make the biggest impact right now.
But if I can draw anything out and make it happen and will it myself and it’s supposed to happen, I want to be the biggest curator in the world of ideas, people and products.
I don’t need to be the expert or whatever but I want to be the one that knows the people, knows the things, the products that I’m like, “Yeah, that is quality. That’s going to help a lot of people.” I can see how this will support people and then have the platform to give that to people, kind of like what Oprah has created.
I want to be the biggest curator or facilitator in the world.
Woj: That’s a great mission. Thank you very much, I really appreciate your time.
Lewis: Of course, this was fun.
Check out Lewis’s podcast, The School of Greatness, for more inspiring interviews and stories.
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