198: Navigating Career Transitions with Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman is America’s Career Coach. He’s the #1 bestselling author of The Proximity Principle and the host of The Ken Coleman Show, where he helps callers discover what they do best so they can do what they love and produce results that matter most. He delivers practical advice to help people discover the roles they were born to play and maps out plans to get them there.
He’s also a member of the Ramsey Solutions team. I’m a big believer in the Ramsey philosophy, and I’m always amazed how much their coaches have to offer our audience.
In today’s conversation, Ken shares his unique philosophy behind the value of work, the questions you can ask to define and find your passion, and why it’s never too late to make a career transition - including in retirement.
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In this podcast interview, you’ll learn:
- The immeasurable impact of showing up every day.
- How Ken defines purpose and meaning.
- Why so many people mix up mission and purpose.
- Why so many people enter the workforce without a vision of their dream job - and why this is responsible for so many people not being passionate about their work.
- The unique legs up in the working world that older individuals have.
- Ken’s thoughts on how to break free of a “golden handcuffs” situation.
- Why Coach K from Duke’s men’s basketball team was Ken’s greatest interview of all time.
- "Live like no one else, so that later you can live like no one else." - Dave Ramsey
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Casey Weade: Ken, welcome to the podcast.
Ken Coleman: Casey, thanks for having me. I'm excited about our conversation.
Casey Weade: Well, Ken, I'm excited to have another member of the Ramsey Solutions team here. These are some of my favorite conversations to have. I just am such a big believer in the Ramsey philosophy as a whole. And each of you have so much to offer, each member of the team, all of the coaches just have so much to offer our audience and it has come to fruition time and time again that you focus on career transitions, I want to get into that. You talk a lot about purpose and passion. I want to make sure we get into that as well. However, before we get started, it's hard not to ask a question about Dave and in some of the biggest lessons that maybe you have gleaned from Dave over the last six or seven years?
Ken Coleman: Well, I think the consistency of what he has done and his message that has been turned into, obviously, a legendary radio career, millions and millions of people in his tribe. And I think a lot of people see all of the big things, the big buildings, the millions and millions of books sold, millions and millions of people helped, but the one thing that I've been able to learn and see up close and personal over the last six years, is the consistency that he still puts in and it was that consistency in the early days that he just didn't stop. It's like a little drip of water can hollow out a stone.
And I think that that's something that I try to emulate is showing up every day and consistently sharing the same message, the same methodology, the same encouragement. And when you do that, consistently over a long period of time, the impact is immeasurable. And it's something to truly be inspired by, so that's one thing. The other thing is just his integrity, the reason that he does what he does, the way he does it, is because he wants to do it well, he wants to do it honorably. And to see a man that has reached his level of success to have the integrity he does.
Consistency and integrity are two things that Dave models very, very well and I certainly am aware of it and seek to try to get somewhere near him, somewhere, like outside the stadium. If I can get inside the stadium, that'd be great, but he really is a tremendous man.
Casey Weade: Well, it's amazing to me, you say consistency. And I don't know of another personality, just any personality that's been as consistent as Dave has been over the years. We started listening to Uncle Dave back, probably around 2007 to 2009. And my wife and I, we used to go back to North Carolina, probably once a month, we'd be in the car for about eight hours there, eight hours back, and we'd consume hours and hours of Dave on TuneIn radio back then. And it was just so consistent, you could go back and listen to those shows.
And Dave’s still giving the same exact lessons today. So, definitely true and I've always loved them. However, some look at Dave Ramsey and say, these are lessons that are largely for a starter, a starting investor, someone that's maybe just out of college or trying to get out of debt or trying to find their footing and just trying to get a grasp on finances as a whole and get on the right track, but I think something's missed there because I think many of these principles, they are timeless, I think they apply to every stage of your financial life. And I think they even apply to retirement. How would you apply maybe one or two or some key principles of FPU and Dave's philosophy to that retirement transition?
Ken Coleman: Well, I think that the entire baby steps are focused around one idea that we talk a lot about here at Ramsey Solutions, I'm sure your audience if they're familiar with Dave, I've heard him talk about that focused intensity over time multiplied by God. And so, I would tell you that if anybody said that to me, like, well, that Dave’s principles are just for people starting out. It's like saying that once you have a good consistent start, that you can take your foot off the gas pedal and you can cruise control it all the way home and you can't.
You only have so much momentum after you take your foot off the gas. Eventually, the car will come to a stop and you will come to a stop, your momentum will come to a stop because you're not continually growing. And so, we talked about focused intensity over time multiplied by God is unstoppable momentum. And you'll need momentum in every area of your life. And I've got people calling my show, The Ken Coleman Show every day that are in their 50s. I had a lady called the other day who’s 63, and she's retiring from her longtime job but still wants to work, wants to do something that really matters to her, more purposeful in her later years.
And so, the thing that we teach really, is to live like no one else, so that later you can live and give like no one else. And so, that very phrase speaks to what you're addressing and that's that timeline. So, if you're going to live like no one else, it's not just to live like no one else to be this odd bird, that's not what we're teaching. We're saying live like no one else, so that later you can live and give like no one else, and that's the impact. That's the legacy piece in the fourth quarter of our lives. So, that would be my comment to anybody, just kind of go well, it's for young people, no, it isn’t. It's for everyone, no matter how old you are, because we believe that you're here to be a blessing to make a difference in the lives of others.
Casey Weade: Well, I think where their philosophies really collide is that piece where we can live like no one else. It's not so that we can just get to this place where we can simply quit and sit on our rears, it's the opportunity to make an even bigger impact once you have that financial confidence, that financial freedom that you can achieve through following those baby steps all the way through to retirement, then it's about making it a bigger thing, making it, I think, even more about purpose and meaning at that stage in your life, or at least you have the opportunity to make a bigger impact in those areas that you really love because you no longer have to worry about money, what's next in the stock market? You've kind of taken care of that stuff. And you can focus on those really important things.
So, I know a core piece for you is purpose, just like it is for us here at Howard Bailey. So, first, when I define that, I think sometimes purpose can be a very intimidating word. We're not sure exactly what it means. I think many times, we get purpose wrong, we get the definition wrong and that's even sometimes why we don't approach it in the first place. How would you define purpose and meaning?
Ken Coleman: Purpose answers the question, why am I here? So, when you get the answer to why am I on this planet? Now, you've got the foundational answer to your purpose and then you can get more specific. So, it answers the question why, whether that be on a personal level, professional level, certainly corporate level. If you want to know a company's purpose, it's their why. Why are we in business? And so, that's what purpose answers, the reason for being.
Everything has a reason, every animal on the planet, every human. God created us all, to fill a unique role, that means we are tremendously valuable, but it also means we need to do it. There's somebody out there that's actually counting on us to show up and be the best version of ourselves. So, that's how I define purpose. It is your why and I specifically focus on the work aspect of it because there is a worldview of work that is pretty much the dominant worldview of work. And that is that work is a utilitarian exercise.
In other words, you work to live, you work to get a paycheck to take care of, as we call the four walls at Ramsey, your lodging, your utilities, your transportation, and your food. And then, outside of that, what other bills you have, maybe there's a little leftover for a nice vacation and some memories. That's really a secular and really the most prominent worldview of work. But at Ramsey Solutions, and me specifically, I'm beating the drum that says that work is a completely different aspect and endeavor than what most people see it as. I look at it as an actual, purposeful act. And so, in other words, I believe that we were created to work. We don't work to live, we live to work.
Now, I'm not preaching workaholism, that's not what I'm saying. What I'm saying is that we were created to contribute. And I think there's two major areas that human beings can contribute. First, in our personal lives, those are through our relationships, the interpersonal relationships, your family, your friends, co-workers, people that you may volunteer or serve in the world. So, that's the human-to-human interpersonal relationship side of the human.
The other side is our work. So, yes, we do need to work for utilitarian reasons, but when you realize that you were created to work, there are talents you've been given and passions that you've been given. And when you figure out how those come together to produce results that matter deeply to you, your mission, well, now all of a sudden you realize work is a glorious, glorious, high-high calling, and we are created to work, we are created to contribute. So, we are supposed to be the best of who we are to give ourselves away for the benefit of others. And so, that's the worldview of work that we have at Ramsey Solutions and I'm the ambassador for that.
Casey Weade: How do you define passion for yourself? How do you define your purpose? Is it a clear statement? Is it three words? Is it something that's ever evolving? Is it a mission statement? What's that look like for you?
Ken Coleman: Well, you just asked me passion or purpose. So, which one do you want me to define?
Casey Weade: Well, let's separate them.
Ken Coleman: Okay, well, yeah, because we just talked about purpose. So, how I define passion, as it relates to The Ken Coleman Show and I'm teaching people, passion is work that you love doing. So, we have three indicators that will help a person find their sweet spot. The first is your talent and that's what you do best. Those are hard skills and soft skills, everybody understands that. So, you can call those abilities and qualities.
Passion is defined by work that you enjoy, doing a task, a function or role. So, some would say, I love creating, some would say, I love editing, some would say, I love communicating, some would say, I love fixing, some would say, I love finishing. There's work that we all get the juice for it, like I call it high emotion and high devotion. In other words, when we think about the work or we engage in the work, we're excited. And then, the devotion comes in, where we want to keep doing it, we don't want to stop doing, we know we got to go eat, we know we got to go to the restroom, we know we got to go home and see the family. Whatever the situation is, we don't want to pull ourselves away from it because we love it. So, high emotion, high devotion, and time seems to disappear when we're engaged in this type of work. So, that's how I define passion. Now, that's The Ken Coleman version.
If you're looking for the universal definition of passion, really, it's fun to look at the root word of passion. And there's some interesting studies, the Latin and in the German words, but basically what you find is, the root words and the meaning behind the word that we now use as passion means really, to suffer. Are you willing to suffer for it? I find that to be really inspiring and really revealing because if you're willing to wait a long time, if you're willing to get after it and chop wood in the wilderness and nobody sees you, you're willing to put in the hours, you're willing to learn more, you're willing to face rejection and face fear and face doubt, that is a form of suffering.
And so, when you love the work, and I love coaching adults, I love communicating to people, I love instructing, I love discerning, and so essentially, those words, I just use, those are essentially tasks or functions or roles. I love that work. So, no matter how I'm feeling, whether I'm tired, not feeling so great, you stick me in the chair or you put me on a stage or I know that I've got to do a book writing session, I got the juice. And the reason is, I love the work, the work itself of creating content, to facilitate change and transformation, to discern, to listen, to coach, to counsel, and that gives me the juice. And so, that's how I define passion.
Casey Weade: Now, when it comes to, hey, we've got this passion, we've got this passion that sounds, this is largely our work, these things we really enjoy doing. Now, purpose, we have relationships, we have work, it sounds like there's a separation between those two things, or is there one overarching purpose that you have that carries over and drives you at home with your family, with Stacy, your three kids? And at work, is it the same purpose no matter where you're at in life at any given moment? Or is there a purpose at home and a purpose of work?
Ken Coleman: Sure, well, you can do whatever you want on that. I mean, you can have a purpose statement in your relationships and in your personal life. And you could have a purpose statement in your professional life. In fact, I recommend it because your purpose is your why and that is the clarity zone. It's kind of like when you were a kid, you play freeze tag or something like that and you're running around and everybody's chasing you, you just want to get safe. And things are hectic and crazy. And then, COVID pandemic hits the world. And it kicks you out of your job. And all of a sudden, you start to question everything.
If you don't know what your professional purpose is, if you don't know what your personal purpose is, you're going to be like a ball of tumbleweed, we used to see blowing across the dirt streets in the old westerns or the cowboy movies and all that kind of stuff. And so, what you got to understand is your purpose is your why and its clarity and so, you retreat to clarity. So, what we're walking through here is in order to understand your purpose, to find your sweet spot, specifically, you walk through the exercise, I've kind of been walking through.
So, because you're asking me, I'm going to take everybody back just a second. So, your purpose in work, I don't care who you are, this is the 30,000-foot view, your purpose is to figure out your unique role in the workplace, fill it and fill it with excellence. That's it. I mean, it's that simple. That's for everybody. Now, we start to figure out well, what's that unique role? And that's where we teach the process of the sweet spot and you look at your three indicators, talent, what you do best, passion, the work you love to do, and mission, the results of your work that matter deeply.
So, a lot of people mix up mission and purpose and I understand, but they're very different things. So, purpose is up here, it's my why. I eventually get to my mission because the mission is the results that I'm looking to generate. In other words, my why, my mission helps me fulfill the why. The mission is how I fulfill the why. And so, everybody's mission is different, but I think largely speaking, all of our purposes of high-high level are very similar.
Now, what you do is, I walk callers and you can go to my website, kencoleman.com, we have a free resource, it's a career clarity guide, and walk through it, but when you know your talent, you essentially have a purpose sentence that looks like this. And so, Casey, yours is, I, Casey - say it however you want to - I'm supposed to use my talent, what I do best, blank and blank and blank, put in your top talents. To do the work that I love, blank and blank and blank. To produce the results that matter deeply to me, blank and blank and blank. So, that's it. That's how you come up with a purpose, that’s very simple. When you can get clear on the indicators, talent, passion, and mission.
Casey Weade: I love that. You really broke it down quite simply, but would you really start there? And I asked that because I'm revisiting one of your blog posts, What Should I Do With My Life? 7 Questions to Help You Find Your Purpose. And there were a couple of those questions that I wanted to hit on. And I'm wondering, would you start with these questions first? Or would you start with trying to identify that sentence?
Ken Coleman: Well, I'm not sure what questions you're looking at, but I mean, the whole process is, you would start right where I'm at. Those questions that we wrote in that blog post are essentially fitting into that construct. Again, what are my top talents? What do people compliment me on? What am I always enjoying doing? I think you're referring to some of those questions.
Casey Weade: Yeah.
Ken Coleman: So, those questions are the actual questions that allow you to identify your top talent. So, you can read a few and I mean, I can plug them in, but yeah, that works, sure.
Casey Weade: Yeah, I think that makes a lot of sense. We kind of start with these questions and that helps us fill out this sentence. I think some of these feel a little unrelated to my purpose. They're seemingly unrelated to my purpose and I'm hoping you can help connect the dots. And the first two would be, what did you enjoy doing as a kid? Who is your favorite book or movie character? And I go, well, when I was a kid, I loved golf, I loved good competition, a good sales competition. I loved snow skiing, individual sports, snowboarding, wakeboarding, pool, darts. And then, when it comes to my favorite book, well, I loved Harry Potter. And my favorite actor or my favorite movie character was John McClane. How does that help me identify my purpose?
Ken Coleman: Well, it's very simple, you gotta put it back into the talent. So, what we're doing there and those set of questions are helping you realize some things about yourself. We're also looking at passion. So, the first question is helping you identify, what did I love doing? So, we can talk about sports so I can tell right now, based on your answers, that you're a guy that's always cared about the scoreboard. Am I right? You like keeping the score. You're a competitor. Is that true or false?
Casey Weade: It’s true.
Ken Coleman: I know it's true. So, that's why we asked those questions. And so, those questions are yielding talent and passion answers as well. When we ask the question, it's a fun question. We ask the question what your favorite movie is, your favorite character that you would want to play in the movie and why? Well, that reveals a lot about your passion and mission. Those answers really, really matter because when you really break it down, you go, why does that character appeal to me? And you can do this, multiple times.
So, the questions in that blog have very much to do with your purpose when you understand that you first must, in order to figure out that specific purpose statement that I've given you, you got to have the answers. What do I do best? And a lot of people don't know what they do best so we take a minute. What do people always compliment you on? Where did you excel in school? What subjects did you excel at? Were there extracurricular activities that you excelled in? So, if somebody says, I really excelled in playing sports, we'll go, how did you excel? Well, I was pretty good, I was actually a really good leader. Oh, great.
So, whatever the evidence is in your life, those questions in that blog post that you're looking at, those are what we call clue finders. And so, we're finding and digging up clues from our life and from our past, so that we can see, Oh, I have always been naturally gifted in this area. I have always been naturally interested in this area and I’ve always been moved and driven by these results. That's talent, passion, mission. So, those questions have everything to do with your purpose and that they enlighten you, they make you more self-aware, and you can begin to see, Oh, I see. Because, again, clarity and purpose come when we know ourselves and who we are.
So, the answers to the age-old question, what should I do with my life? We already have them, we've got to get them out, get them on paper, look at them, find the connection. And that formula that I've given you, it’s the secret sauce.
Casey Weade: Well, it seems fairly sequential. We are kind of going through this discovery phase. And then, we're looking into the future and creating a vision. And then, I think some of the most important questions are at the end, you're really creating some motivation there towards the end. And I think the most important question, which is my personal favorite, anyways, maybe it's not yours, I think they're all important questions, I don't have time to go through them all, but number 6 was, what would happen if you stayed on the sidelines?
Ken Coleman: Yeah, well, that's really important because what that's doing is, it’s forcing you to look at your desired future and the results that really get your heart fired up. And then you ask yourself, Well, what would happen if I didn't show up and do that? So, let's take an example. Let's say that you have begun to discover that and I really want to help disadvantaged kids, kids that grow up in maybe single-parent homes in poverty situations or maybe they're coming out of homes or their substance abuse or whatever. And you have a heart for that.
There’s a reason why you have a heart for that, there's always a reason from your own life experience or from observations. And at some point, it tugs at your heart. And so, when you begin to say, well, I'd love to help those kind of kids and help them get a ladder out of that pit and a direction forward or whatever it is, whoever the people are you most want to help. And when you begin to think about those people you want to help and the problem that you want to help them solve, the solution that you want to give to them, so they can overcome that problem. And then, you walk through all of that, then that question hits you, and it's like, oh, and that's where the duty comes in.
You start to go, Wait a second, this isn't actually about me, this isn't about what the world defines as success, this is about significance that I'm showing up and playing the role that I'm supposed to play for the benefit of those kids that are in a disadvantaged situation, of no fault of their own, they're behind the eight ball and they need somebody like me to show up. And if I don't show up, I may be the difference, I may be the one attaboy or attagirl or the six-month engagement of engaging with this kid at a community center or wherever it is that ultimately gives them the belief, the hope that they need to make changes or to go a different path in what they're growing up in.
And so, what it does is it really makes you focus on the duty that you have to do this because if you don't, you're letting someone down who may never meet you, and as a result, never get the help that they needed.
Casey Weade: It reminds me of Dan Sullivan of Strategic Coach, one of my mentors, he gives you an impact filter at the end of it, you write down, hey, this is what I want to do. And what's the best result if I take this action? What's the worst result if I don't take this action? And that can be very, very motivating if you're willing to just put those things in writing.
Ken Coleman: Yeah, that's right.
Casey Weade: I want to talk a little bit about your book that's sitting right there behind you. For those of you that are watching here on YouTube and Facebook Live, The Proximity Principle: The Proven Strategy That Will Lead to a Career You Love. And you say 70% of Americans aren't passionate about their work. Why do you think that most of us get into jobs that we're not passionate about? Is it a necessity that we have to start somewhere and we have to bumble along? Or couldn't we find that one job we're passionate about right off the starting point?
Ken Coleman: Yeah, I think you can find out what your work purpose is and you can get Mount Everest, a clear vision, a big vision of what the dream job is. At that point, when you're really clear on that, then it's a lot easier to step into those entry-level jobs that you're not really passionate about because you're passionate about the big picture. So, it's like you got to climb this ladder, but at the top of this ladder is the dream. Is anybody really excited about the actual rung of the ladder that they're on? Nobody's ever excited about it. A ladder is a utilitarian function. I've got to get to this rung and then this rung and then this rung. And yet, what the problem is, is most people enter the workforce without a vision, without that big Mount Everest goal, the dream job. They just don't know what the dream job is.
And so, they go for safety, what they think is safety and of course, safe seems so smart, except in chasing your dream and living and working on purpose, safe is not very smart because you'll end up going to a school that you really can't afford, getting a degree that you don't want and can't even use. And you did it all because all your parents said, well, that's the best way to succeed. And so, we all just say, Well, this is the way everybody else does it. So, I'm going to go do it that way. And what happens is, you end up calling The Ken Coleman Show at 35 going, I just fell into my job, I've been doing it for 12 years, Ken. I can't stand it. And so, that's what's happening.
So, the reason that people get into work this way is, again, the world view that I mentioned earlier on. Well, it's just a job, let me try to find the best job possible and a safe industry that pays a good salary and good benefits and I'll just deal with whatever comes. So, if I've got a horrible manager, I'll put up with it because the idea of me changing and doing anything on purpose is too terrifying. That's the narrative of a lot of people.
Now, some people love their work or love their work at some point in that 70%. And that's data that was pre-COVID. And they love their work, but they're doing the right thing in the wrong place. And so, they've got toxic co-workers, toxic leaders, a toxic work culture, and you're going to love what you're doing, but you're not going to want to keep going back into a toxic situation and that's confusing for a lot of people. So, the main two reasons are, there's no passion for the work or they're in a very toxic environment,
Casey Weade: Well, you and I both met individuals that aren't 35, they’re 50, 55.
Ken Coleman: That’s right.
Casey Weade: And they started on that ladder, they continue to do it. And now, they got to a place where they say, Well, now, you don't have time to start over and follow my passions. And how do you change the viewpoint that only younger individuals can really strive for that dream job and they have the time on their side?
Ken Coleman: Well, first of all, what you're saying is just completely untrue, it's just a bunch of doubt and I get it. I don't think it's an abnormal point of view, when you're in your 50s, you're going, I've never enjoyed work, I've always wanted to do this, I want to transition, but I don't think I can, like it's too late. The first thing is, is that people think, Well, my ship has sailed. And so, that's the first lie that doubt tells us. Well, it's too late, your ship has sailed. That's simply not true.
Secondly, a lot of people think, well, I just don't know if I have the time or money. And I think that the time and money issue has been largely drummed up in our heads and we turn into this big monster. And when you look at the world in which we live right now, I'm getting ready to announce a major partnership on my show with an organization that in nine months and $15,000, you can be trained and they have 85% placement rate and you can go right into technology, a multiple technology all across the board making 70 grand right out the gate, two to three years making six figures.
So, if you're 53, you can do that. If you're 56, you can do that. Here's what we know. Companies want people that they can count on. They want people that are enthusiastic about the work and the mission and they just want to know, can you help us win outside of those two factors? So, being 55, 61, this does not preclude you from that. And remember, if you're relying on resumes and you're just submitting cold resumes, then maybe you do get hit with some ageism. But if you use The Proximity Principle, which teaches you how to make real good connections and opportunities come knocking on your door, then it doesn't even matter how old you are because people hear all these great things about you and they know you can do the job.
So, 55, it doesn't matter, there's still time and you can do work that you love. And here's the other thing, we can go back to that exercise that I walked you through, talent, passion mission. One thing people need to understand that I did not mention is that I'm not prescribing or preaching a one silver bullet dream job itself or career, there might be five or six different types of dream jobs. And so, there's tremendous freedom inside that sweet spot at the intersection of talent, passion, and mission.
So, in fact, I talked to a lady, the last call on today's show. She said, “I'm calling for my husband. He's got two dream jobs.” I said, “Interesting. Tell me what they are.” She said, “One’s a park ranger, the other would be a high school basketball coach.” Well, that's fantastic, and I broke it down on the air, if you look at his sweet spot, both of those are in there. Both are driven by, he's got a mission that he wants to essentially enlighten, inform, teach, and instruct others. He loves the park ranger and is able to instruct them knowledge of the park or the historical monument or whatever it is. The other side is teaching life through the game of basketball.
So, at the core of both of those jobs where he is good at communicating, good at research, good at connecting with people and then, he really loves the work of enlightening, connecting, guiding people, instructing people and then for what reason? For knowledge and appreciation. And so, that's what people need to understand. There are multiple jobs that could fit as a dream job.
Casey Weade: Doesn't an older individual with their older generation actually have a leg up on this whole thing when they're in their 40s, 50s, 60s? They really have a leg up that can really speed up the process.
Ken Coleman: I think they have two legs up. And we know this, by the way from research. So, here's what's really fun. Entrepreneurs over the age of 45 are more successful than entrepreneurs under the age of 45. And the reason is, is what you're touching on, life experience and a lot more conviction and clarity. A 25-year-old is rarely going to be able to have the true clarity and conviction of somebody over the age of 45. And the reason is, because they're still experiencing life, they're still formulating a lot of their opinions and a lot of their perspectives, and they still got a lot more to learn to be able to really shape their opinions and what they want to do versus somebody who's over the age of 45 or somebody even in their 50s.
A 55-year-old entrepreneur has a greater chance of success because they've already lived enough life. They know what matters to them. And they've learned a lot, I mean, they've seen so much. And so, they're less likely to make the young, youthful, immature mistakes that young entrepreneurs make. So, yeah, I absolutely think, I'd bet on the 55-year-old entrepreneur every day of the week, twice on Sunday.
Casey Weade: Are there a couple areas that an individual that might be in that position should focus on when it comes to leveraging certain experiences or traits that they might have? Where should they maybe really focus on leveraging, maybe relationships? Where is it?
Ken Coleman: Depending on what we're talking about, is this in the launch? Or is this in making it successful? Are we talking about a 55-year-old entrepreneur?
Casey Weade: A 55-year-old getting ready to transition, they want to leave their current job, go to a new job, what would be those things that they could really lean on to make the best of it?
Ken Coleman: Well, connections, you'll lean on to get the gig. So, a lot of 55-year-olds are going, I'm too old, I don't know if I want to transition around, no one's going to want to hire a 55-year-old. In some cases, unfortunately, that's the case. However, when you look back at all the people you know and those relationships that you've built, I call it the web of connections, and we write a whole chapter on it in The Proximity Principle, and you really leverage the web of connections.
Ideally, you're not playing this resume submission game and just hoping. You’ve got people going, Hey, let me tell you about Fred. Let me tell you about Sally. They're rock stars, they've been crushing over here, they're looking for something new. And so, with all the people you know and relationships that you have, you should be able to get several opportunities and conversations started at the least.
Now, if you're an entrepreneur and you're starting something or you're moving into a new career, where you get to learn some stuff, you got to go back to your experience, you've been there before. You've been there before where you've had to adapt, you've been there before where you've had to learn new things, you've been there before where you're uncomfortable, you've been there before where you've been kind of feeling a lot of doubt. And so, you've got enough experience to go, I can do this. And so, that's what you leverage, you leverage that experience, that gray hair actually means way more than it gets credit for, that gray hair means that you've lived long enough to know that you've got what it takes. And if you're willing to step into that fear and doubt and revisit the experiences you have and take those lessons you learned before and apply and this time around, you're actually going to be way better, I think more successful.
Casey Weade: Well, I've run in this, many times, overcoming some of the fears and most closely, are those individuals that say, hey, I'm going to peak my earning years, I'm making all kinds of money, how do I walk away from this money? And many times, they have enough to last the rest of their life. They don't need any more money. How do you get them to walk away from a job they don't like, they're not finding fulfillment, when the peak of their earning years and it feels like they're doing something wrong?
Ken Coleman: Well, what I would do is a call that calls in on that. I'm going to get their focus off the money and what we call the golden handcuffs because they're looking at that and they're worried about what everybody's going to say when they walk away. So, I always want to really get them to admit why they're not walking away in the scenario you just gave me. The reason they're not walking away, is fear of what other people are going to say because if they don't need the money, so they're really not worried about failure. Because they don't need the money, they're ready to retire financially in the scenario you gave me, but they're worried about is what other people are going to say, Why in the world would you walk away from that? You're making great money, you could retire, you could have had a pension, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And that's all they focus on.
So, then they feel like they can't defend that because on paper, that is a common sense argument, it's a valid argument. Here's the problem. We are creatures with only a brain, we got a heart and the heart is what's nudging, the heart is empty. The heart hasn't felt any heat around the workplace, maybe in 25 years and people know that. And they go, money's not what it's about. I can keep doing this, but if I got to come in here one more day and try to get some manufacturers some juice where there is no juice and try to get fired up for this where I don't care about the results, I haven't cared about the results and forever. I don't really love the work anymore. I've mastered this, there's no challenge, I'm not growing. Well, that will begin to create a build upon the heart.
So, in that case, I would say to those folks, all right, that's what you're really worried about, isn't it? And you get them to admit that and then, you go, all right, let's focus on what we need to focus on. And that is, what would make your heart sing? What would be something you'd love to do, because financially now, you actually don't have a whole lot of risk and all in your life? And it's not even a risky proposition to change gears anyway, if you do it the right way. And so, I get them focused on that contribution, that desired future that their heart’s been going, sssttt, sssttt, and their brain’s been going, “Oh, shut up, that's stupid, we're going to stay here and keep stocking money away.”
And so, it's a wrestling match between the head and the heart. So, what I want them to do is get really, really clear on what their heart is telling them. And then we will teach them how to shut their brain off and say, all right, the brain is trying to protect you from something that doesn't need to protect you from. But when we feel fear, there's this thing in the back of the brain called the amygdala and it's there for a reason. When we feel fear, it's the fight or flight mechanism of the brain. And so, if we're afraid of what people are going to say about us, the brain goes to work, “Oh, yeah, you're an idiot. Yeah, that's stupid. Don't do that. You're going to blow all this retirement extra money you could have and you could buy this and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” And that's the brain giving you the logic to support your desire to flee your heart's invitation to do something else. And the brain’s going, “No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, we're afraid of this.” And your heart's going, “Oh, come on, please.” That's what's going on.
Casey Weade: Yeah, it's easy to get caught up in the scorecard, too. It's just a scorecard that net worth…
Ken Coleman: Well, that’s what we're taught. This is illogical. You can keep running the score up on the scoreboard. You could blow this team away. And your heart is going, we've already won this game.
Casey Weade: Yeah. Who are you making money for at that point?
Ken Coleman: What's the point? Another touchdown? Really? What are we proving with another 10 grand in the 401(k)?
Casey Weade: That's right. I’ve got a couple other questions. I didn’t have a hard stop coming up here and I want to make sure I get to a couple things, just at least one here and this has to do with all the interviews that you've done. You have interviewed everybody from Tony Dungy, Malcolm Gladwell, Jimmy Carter, do you have a favorite interview? Or maybe the one that made the biggest impact in your life?
Ken Coleman: Yeah, without question, I got to interview the legendary Hall of Famer, Coach K from Duke, Duke’s men's basketball coach still going at it as the all-time winningest coach in basketball. And it was a great, great privilege. What a wise man he is, a competitors’ competitor, a leaders’ leader, military background, leading young men, staying at the top of the game, new hot shot coaches coming at him every year, and he's just consistently built that program at Duke, without a doubt, my most enjoyable. And I don't know that I'll ever interview anybody that I enjoyed more than him.
Casey Weade: Is there one piece of that interview that you took away that changed your life?
Ken Coleman: Yeah, there is a thought that he gave me, I asked him about how he treated his different point guards. He's had some great point guards at Duke and these kids are obviously very different. And so, I was asking him that question from a leadership perspective, because he had mentioned, you got stud freshmen coming in every year and then, you had great seniors that leave. So, you think about it, the DNA of his team changes every year and that's a real leadership challenge. You have most corporate America had that turnover every year, it'd be a disaster.
So, these guys and gals that leave teams that have a constant turnover and do well, there's something to be learned from them. So, I was asking him about how he managed and led different personalities like Tommy Amaker versus Bobby Hurley. And he said, “I've always had a policy of fair but not equal.” He said, give me an example of how it affects the whole team. If I've got a junior or a senior who's been with the program and he's an all American and he shows up a minute and a half late for the bus, we're going to wait for that kid, but if the hot shot freshmen, even if he was the high school Player of the Year, if he's a minute and a half late, we're leaving his butt. And he's like, that's fair, but it's not equal.
And there's a great parenting lesson there and that is huge for me, but it's like, people earn trust, people earn grace, people earn mercy, and that's fair. It's not equal. So, he doesn't treat every player equally. And you can't treat all your kids the same way, either. Each one of those kids that you have, parents and grandparents, you know this, you got to treat everybody differently. So, leaders on your team, you need to be fair, but it'll free you up a lot of tough leadership decisions that are very complex around people issues. That to me, was a real mind-blowing answer. I think it was really wise.
Casey Weade: That's good. Now, my last question has to do with that, like it kind of along these lines, you have often been recognized as one of the great interviewers, you were called the young Charlie Rose by the legendary Duke basketball coach, Coach K, and talk radio superstar, you got your buddy Dave said you were one of the best interviewers in the country. So, I've bumbled around a little bit because I've got a three-week-old baby right now. I slept more than a couple hours a night for three weeks. And I go, boy, I probably messed up something in this interview and I forgot to ask a really good question to one of the best interviewers that's out there, what question should I have asked that I did not ask you?
Ken Coleman: I don't think that's a fair question. I mean that with all due respect, I think that's unfair to yourself. So, out of respect for you and encouragement and a challenge to you, I'm not going to answer that question because I think that's an unfair question of yourself. I appreciate the spirit by which you ask it, but I really don't have an answer because here's the lesson, it's your interview. And so, as anytime we do interviews, and my mantra has always been, number one, what does the audience want to know? What does the audience need to know? Because those are two different things. And then, what can my guests provide to be able to answer those two questions? And I think you've done a good job with that.
Casey Weade: Great. Well, thank you. I appreciate that.
Ken Coleman: Yeah, you’ve done fine. I'm not judging you.
Casey Weade: That’s awesome coming from you. I just want to make sure we get everything that you want to get out on the table. And we don't miss the benefit.
Ken Coleman: It's not about me, it's about your audience. And I'm here, not for you, I'm here for your audience as well. So, I want to give something and help your audience. I hope I've done that, but I feel like you've given me an opportunity to do that.
Casey Weade: Absolutely. Well, I know you've got another interview coming up here in just a few minutes.
Ken Coleman: Yeah, I got to run.
Casey Weade: And you've got to run, but, Ken, I want to thank you so much for coming on here today and the time you spent with the audience. You did add tremendous value and I look forward to doing it again.
Ken Coleman: Yeah, let's do it, man. It was really fun. You did a wonderful job. Thanks for having me.
Casey Weade: Thanks, Ken. Have a good one.