Learn from people who have walked the path before you. It’s crazy to me! Caveman invented the wheel; you don’t need to reinvent it. Whatever you’re trying to do, there are people out there who have already done it successfully. Listen to them. And don’t listen to everyone, don’t take everyone’s advice, because you’ll be nowhere. People will contradict each other. I want to listen to the person who has done it and killed it, who’s just done fantastically well and gotten the results. Those are the people I want to learn from.
Have you ever noticed how often we equate success with more? Whether that’s more products, more profits, more activities or more accomplishments, we buy into the belief that we have to do more to have more to be more. And that will sum up to success. And then along comes The Great Resignation. Where employees are signaling that the “more” that’s being offered — even more pay, more perks, and more PTO — isn’t summing up to success for them. We visited with leaders who are redefining what success means now. Their answers might surprise you.
As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Matthew Bennett.
Matthew Bennett is a bestselling author, entrepreneur, author consultant, life coach, philanthropist, professional bowler and real estate investor. Matthew has written and sold over 5,000,000 books worldwide, many with little to no previous experience in their specified industries. Having spent over three decades working in the publishing industry, Matthew is an expert at coaching authors, writers and entrepreneurs to achieve extraordinary accomplishments professionally, personally and financially. Famously regarded as the ‘Simon Cowell of Self-Publishing,’ Matthew is known for his straightforward advice, a trait that earned him a name on the hit Bravo TV show, Millionaire Matchmaker, where he performed a recurrent role as an advisor. As both an author and coach, Matthew has gained a reputation for producing real results that speak for themselves and helped thousands of his clients sell millions of books. While also a Founder of BTDT Enterprises Inc. and Premier Capital Insurance & Financial Services, Matthew’s latest and greatest venture is his legacy program, Write, Print, SELL! In the fully-resourced course, he mentors hundreds of members through the exact, step-by-step, proven process he’s used to write and sell over 5,000,000 books, and donate millions of dollars to charity.
Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today?
One that really stands out for me all the time is how I got involved with the California Special Olympics. I was with them for five and a half years. I really got in deep. The fact of the matter was it started when I was watching a sports program and they had a bit about the Special Olympics, specifically the Powerlifting Program. By sheer coincidence, the person sitting near me was involved with the program, and she told me there were 38 lifters in the whole state of California, and that it was only an exhibition sport. I said, “Well, that doesn’t seem right. It seems like there should be a lot more. Powerlifting could be a great sport for the development of the disabled. That just sounds like such a good idea.” And she said, “Well, that’s nice that you care, but there’s really nothing you could do about it, right?” I retorted, “Well, what can I do about it?”
Long story short, I became a Coach, then a Supervising Coach, then a Director, then an Area Director, then a Regional Director, then a State Director, then a State Commissioner. I brought the whole program up to almost 500 participants and I also led the way to making it an official sport. It was super fulfilling. It changed my whole orientation towards goals, towards success, towards what I thought I could create in the world, and the funniest thing is the way I got out of it. I was thinking to myself, “Wow, I’m spending over twenty hours a week with this. It’s great, I love it, I’ve done a lot with it, but I need to make money. Is there a way that I can help millions of people raise millions of dollars, and make millions of dollars?” That was my goal. So, again — believe it or not — I was sitting with an Ob-Gyn doctor this time around, and we were talking about how terrible the United States is in terms of prenatal education. And what do you think he said to me? The same thing! “It’s nice that you care, but there’s obviously nothing you can do about it.” And I said “Nothing I can do about it? I don’t know about that…” Years later, I came out with the Maternal Journal, my pregnancy guide that sold millions of copies, raised tons of money for the March of Dimes Campaign for Healthier Babies, and helped countless people live healthier lives.
We all have myths and misconceptions about success. What are some myths or misconceptions that you used to believe?
That anyone else’s opinion about success should affect yours in any way. It shouldn’t. It just can’t. Comparison is your mortal enemy, and that is not just in terms of success, it’s in terms of everything. It’s simply not the way to go. Be your own person, know your own values, know what’s right for you. You cannot be looking over your shoulder all the time, focusing on what this person did or that person did. Focus on what you can do. Focus on the impact you can make. That’s what really matters.
And the other misconception about success — which I’m not especially popular for and, luckily I don’t care much about that — is that just having a great attitude — just that — will attract success to you. You should have a great attitude. It’s very helpful to have a positive attitude, that’s wonderful. But when it becomes some form of happy hope and there isn’t any action to back it up, it is actually a very dangerous thing because people get deluded and they think that they are doing something just by being upbeat. And no. I’m sorry, but no. It actually takes work. It actually takes intention and fulfillment. The rubber has to meet the road.
How has your definition of success changed?
Well, for one thing, I’ve learned that success is not as rigid as I thought it was. As I’ve grown older with more and more experiences, and more businesses, I’ve learned that success is fluid. It truly is. For instance, in my publishing business, I might benefit one client the most by helping them sell a million books, and that’s happened. And that’s great. But you know what? I might help another person the most by stopping them from even trying to write their book. I know that sounds strange, but it’s really true. For some people, it’s not their goal, it’s someone else’s goal, or it’s something that got put in their minds and it doesn’t resonate with their view of what’s important. It’s not their view of success. Or they aren’t cut out for the journey. They don’t have what it takes to work hard and, believe me — again, it’s not popular — it is hard work. It’s really a lot of chopping wood and carrying water, being disciplined, and getting back up to that plate over, and over, and over again. So, for some people, it’s just not right. What’s right for one person is not necessarily right for someone else.
The pandemic, in many ways, was a time of collective self-reflection. What changes do you believe we need to make as a society to access success post pandemic?
How about this? You’ve got to live your life as if anything can and will happen. You can’t guess what’s coming around the next corner. There’s no way to do it. Just when people get comfortable, all of a sudden they wake up one day and go, “Holy mackerel, everything’s changed!” Sometimes for the better, but sometimes not! So what you can do is judge every action you take by considering if it’s moving you closer or further away from your goals, from where you really, really want to be. For me, I had my own personal pandemic. Eight years ago, I contracted a heart virus. I was a super healthy guy, always ate the right stuff, always exercised. In fact, I told my wife, “If this thing kills me, I want you to put on my gravestone, ‘I should’ve eaten more fried chicken’” because that’s really how I felt about things. It was just crazy. I was stricken. I was knocked down and out, and I almost died multiple times. But this brought up a quote I’ve known and used for decades. It’s from Virgil and it says, “Death twitches my ear, ‘Live — he says — I am coming’” You’ve got to approach life that way. I got through my disaster and got plenty of positive things out of it. But the process to get there was not fun.
What do you see as the unexpected positives in the pandemic? We would love to hear a few of your stories or examples.
For one thing that’s obvious is that, for many people, it created more time for creative ventures. People are at home. Their whole lives shifted. They are not going to an office. Some people made incredible use of their time, some other people just burned it. They didn’t get much positive out of it. But most people were figuring out what a worthy goal was and what was not, what it was that they should be pursuing. The pandemic just gave people so much more time for reflection. Frankly, you don’t want to depend on luck for success. Have you ever heard the expression “even a blind squirrel sometimes finds a nut”? Well that, in no way, increases my desire to be a blind squirrel. I still don’t want to be a blind squirrel even if it sometimes finds a nut. No way, no how. So, for me, this really separates the contenders from the pretenders, people who are going to make it happen and people who are going to spend their lives talking about it happening.
We’re all looking for answers about how to be successful now. Could you please share “5 Ways To Redefine Success Now?” (Please share a story or example for each.)
- What you do is not who you are
This is one of the biggest things I find that can destroy people. They say, “This is how I am, don’t try to change me!” Your behavior and your characteristics are all learned, but what happens is our egos get so tied up in the process and we say “This is who I am.” You know what? No!
2. Learn from people who have walked the path before you
It’s crazy to me! Caveman invented the wheel; you don’t need to reinvent it. Whatever you’re trying to do, there are people out there who have already done it successfully. Listen to them. And don’t listen to everyone, don’t take everyone’s advice, because you’ll be nowhere. People will contradict each other. I want to listen to the person who has done it and killed it, who’s just done fantastically well and gotten the results. Those are the people I want to learn from.
3. Put more emphasis on marketing, execution and distribution, not on content
And again, I go to the publishing industry because I see it all the time. You’ve heard the expression “good ideas are a dime a dozen?” No, great ideas are a penny a million. Ideas aren’t anything without the work, the marketing, the distribution, they just aren’t. So many wonderful ideas die on the vine. I feel horrible when I see it happen. Because content is not king. You’ve got to be there to support your ideas; you’re the advocate. And you’re the brand, too. When you’re a small business person like me, you’re the brand. So that’s an important way to change your philosophy.
4. Get hungry and stay hungry
It’s easy to get excited and motivated, but you have to stay that way. And the way you can do so is by having enough motivation, your personal ‘why.’ That ‘why’ is going to keep you going because there will be tons of challenges. And, remember, casualness leads to casualties. And procrastination starts out as an infection and becomes a disease. It just does and you’ve got to press forward, and always be pressing, pressing, pressing.
5. Get a team
I’ve helped so many authors over the years but I haven’t done it in mass, which is sort of ironic because my goal is to have that positive impact on as many people’s lives as I possibly can, but you can’t do that alone. And I’ve been doing it alone for so long. I’ve been doing it on an island and many people have had massive success. It’s been incredible. I’ve managed to work with thousands of authors over the years, but it’s still quite limited. Now that I have a fantastic team behind me, we’ll be able to reach so many more people, and help them to write, print and sell that book they’ve always wanted to have.
How would our lives improve if we changed our definition of success?
Let’s start with this: you’d be a hell lot less stressed and a lot more productive. That is a fact. And you can do that just by getting clear, by focusing on major outcomes, eliminating all the time you spend on wasteful activities and on the minutiae of everyday life. You’ve probably heard me say this before: don’t iron your underwear. It doesn’t serve a purpose. People find excuses to hold themselves back, they find reasons not to forge forward. They’re their own worst enemies. I see it all the time, which drives me bonkers. I want people to see the big picture, to see what’s really important. Of course you’re going to hit obstacles, but stay focused and, again, with the right guidance, you can knock those obstacles down, jump over them, run around, do whatever you need to do to get past them. But it’s hard to do it on your own. I’m actually living proof of that because, as much as I’ve had a successful career in publishing, I haven’t really done what I set out to do, which is to help masses and masses of people. I couldn’t do it until I found a new way of doing it. I got myself a team!
What’s the biggest obstacle that stands in the way of our redefined success? And what advice would you offer about overcoming those obstacles?
I’m going back to ego. We are anchored by past behaviors and what we think is supposed to be who we are. No. No go. You have to tell yourself a new story. I’ve been using this line for decades. Now it’s super popular, apparently. Tell yourself a new story. If you’ve been telling yourself the same story your whole life, like “I’m overweight” or “I’m not meant to be wealthy,” forget it and tell yourself a new, empowering story. Tell yourself what you need to hear to make positive changes. And if you can’t come up with a new story yourself, surround yourself with people who can help you form that story. It’s always possible. It might not always happen, but it’s always possible. Redefine success on your own terms.
Where do you go to look for information about how to redefine success?
Other than all the obvious answers to that, I’d say I rely on people who are balanced, people who are mega successful, not just financially and professionally, but also who have got good family lives and spiritual lives. Wherever they are at, whatever it is that they truly excel at — which doesn’t have to be the same thing that I excel at — you learn from those people. Learn their habits and behaviors. You’ve got to be open to entertain that, you’ve got to be coachable.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He, she or they might just see this if we tag them.
I’m going for Elon Musk. There is a true visionary. When people call themselves ‘a visionary,’ I run out of the room. Somebody else can call you a visionary and that’s fantastic. Many people are visionaries indeed. But when you call yourself that or say “I’m starting a movement” — I don’t even think Gandhi ever said “I’m starting a movement.” Martin Luther King didn’t say that…that’s for other people to say. Now, Elon Musk…There’s your visionary. For me, he crushed the detractors. It’s unbelievable. He consistently achieves that which other people — people with smaller minds and lesser spirits — tell him is impossible or he cannot do. The guy’s determination is unparalleled and even the most insidious forces have not been able to undermine this genius and his drive. He just goes, and goes, and goes. And every time I hear something new about him, I think it’s perfect because contemporary society, a lot of the time, builds people up and then deliberately tries to tear them down, but Elon Musk has somehow been able to withstand the fire. He’s just amazing.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
You can go to www.writeprintsell.com to learn more about who I am and what I do. In terms of social media, I’m most interactive on Instagram @theauthorsauthority and also on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/writeprintsell. All of the details of my recently launched legacy program, Write, Print, SELL!, can be found at www.writeprintsell.com. It’s a fully-resourced, expertly sourced program (and it’s truly made for everyone!) so please check it out and feel free to contact me on social media!
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.