The Choice Effect

From High Income to High Impact: Stephen Courson's Life Altering Choice

September 15, 2023 Sonny Von Cleveland Season 1 Episode 9
The Choice Effect
From High Income to High Impact: Stephen Courson's Life Altering Choice
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Imagine walking away from a $400,000 a year job to leap into the uncertainties of entrepreneurship. Join us as we traverse this journey with our fearless guest, Stephen Courson, who did just that. Listen to Stephen's transformative narrative of methodically shaping his lifestyle seven years before bidding farewell to his high-paying job. Together, we unravel the power of financial wellness, the critical question of 'What is enough?,' and how purposeful living transcends monetary gains. Stephen's thrilling journey is a testament to the importance of a supportive partner during such life-altering decisions.

Our conversation with Stephen dives not only into the triumphs but also the many obstacles encountered in this transition. We delve into the unforeseen challenges brought on by the global pandemic and the saturated business landscape. Hear about the apprehension from friends and family, and how Stephen navigated through these to emerge stronger. Stephen's story is a powerful reminder of how failure can be a stepping-stone to growth, and his wife's meticulous perspective played a crucial part in his success.

But our chat isn't just about entrepreneurship and money. It's also about the art of lifestyle design, the paradox of choice, and the distractions that consume our most precious resources - time, energy, and money. Stephen shares his approach of envisioning the end goal and bridging the gap between the present and the desired future. We also touch upon the importance of hobbies, stress management, and that one book - Essentialism by Greg McKeown - that changed Stephen's life. So tune in, and prepare to be inspired and enriched with valuable wisdom and insights.

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Thank you for joining us on the Choice Effect Podcast. This is Sonny Von Cleveland, reminding you that every challenge is an opportunity for transformation. Your past doesn't define you; your choices do. Let's keep inspiring, healing, and choosing paths that lead to our best selves. Until next time, stay empowered and remember: You have the power to change your story.

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Sonny Von Cleveland:

And today we have a truly multi-dimensional guest to share with you. He's a top performer who quit a $400,000 a year job to take a chance on himself. He's a guy who dives with sharks, literally and metaphorically, because his superpower is saying what everyone else is thinking but won't dare to say. I'm talking about the unstoppable, the courageous, the contrarian, Stephen Corson. Stephen, welcome to the show.

Stephen Courson:

Sonny, super excited to be here and I'm going to need you to give me that intro so my wife can hear it, because that's how I'm coming into the bedroom from now on. That's right.

Sonny Von Cleveland:

Bro, it's so weird If you go back and listen to some of the other episodes, everybody's saying that. Everybody's like dude, what a great intro. I'm like it's just what you should do, right?

Stephen Courson:

I feel like that's totally agreed, it's got to be a lot of your background with music and stage and just coming out I felt like that was basically verbal pyrotechnics.

Sonny Von Cleveland:

At the end of the day, it's a performance, right, it's a podcast and we're doing. I'm not going to say that Howard Stern was my motivator, but I do enjoy some Howard Stern and I think he did it on a level that before podcasting was podcasting, there was Howard Stern.

Stephen Courson:

Who knows, maybe we'll end up in a Jell-O-Pit, maybe we won't. We'll find out. You never know what happens. You never know what's going to happen on the choice effect. Ladies and gentlemen, that's right.

Sonny Von Cleveland:

Let's dive right in. Man, you've traveled the world, you've climbed the corporate ladder, then suddenly decided to throw caution to the wind. Walk us through that pivotal moment when you had to choose between the golden corporate handcuffs and a life of unknown possibilities.

Stephen Courson:

Yeah, it's as I've recently embarked on this journey of starting your own company different things like that, leaving the comfort of the nine to five. It's amazing how many people have reached out and are like I'm thinking about doing the same thing, even people that I've known really well and I'm like I had no idea you would ever think of doing some of that. You just everything seemed to be on cruise control for you, for me. I quit my job last year, quit corporate. I really planned to quit about three years prior to that. What ended up happening was actually a combination of things Before I get to that. I'll back it up, because the way that I got to that probably happened about seven years before that. Then we should probably talk about when I was born as well. While we're going backwards and just okay, we'll go all the way through it, we'll go all the way back.

Stephen Courson:

About seven years ago, I started doing lifestyle design without really understanding that I was doing lifestyle design. I was consulting with CEOs, cmos, cios, abyss, fortune 500 companies. I was working with some of the top consulting and strategy minds in the world. We're talking about business strategy. It started to hit me one day. I was like you know some of these things are talking about. I should do this in my own life. I should run my life like a business. Clearly it's working for them from a business perspective.

Stephen Courson:

I started adapting the principles of strategy to basically lifestyle strategy. Then it became a little bit more advanced because I was like, okay, well, I'm human, I don't like change and some of these things I need to change. Then I started really studying behavioral psychology, understanding why do we change, why don't we change? What pain in the relationship has to do with change, both the physical and the psychological. So that kind of all culminated into me falling in a lot of different ways into financial wellness and coaching and a couple of different things like that.

Stephen Courson:

But then what I really found was that I wasn't so much I enjoyed helping people with their money, but what I really enjoyed helping people with was creating the life that they wanted and then aligning their money to it. Because so many people they'll start a budget, they'll do some type of program, whatever it is, and they'll eventually quit. Well, the reason the majority end up quitting is because there was no purpose to it. You talk about the purpose-driven life. It's like, well, you're just trying to get the numbers right when it comes to cash.

Sonny Von Cleveland:

Right. And when you focus on money, money will avoid you. When you focus on a purpose, money's going to come anyway, right?

Stephen Courson:

And then, if you don't have that purpose, you can never ask the question well, what's enough? Right? That's a really powerful question for a lot of people. So anyway, moving forward, after I've been doing that I've been coaching with people, different things like that. I'm working in this job, been doing sales successfully, top the corporate ladder, and I couldn't really stay in my position much longer. I was either going to have to switch positions again, go to a different company or get into management and listen, you have territory. At this point it's tapped out. You sold them everything. There was what's the next step for you? And that's where, talking with my wife, I was like, okay, I think I'm ready to go. We had just built a brand new house, we had a kid and I was like I think I'm ready to start my own thing and I'll kind of go down this financial wellness route.

Sonny Von Cleveland:

And she was like, okay, I'm behind you, let's do it, and you have a good support system too, right when she's there and your partner is like I support you. Go for it.

Stephen Courson:

Right, and it took her a little while to warm up to it, and that was a good thing, because I make decisions very quickly. Sometimes impulsivity might be an adjective that's been used to describe me before. Oh man, we're in the same boat. Oh man, it's funny because here I am, sitting here teaching people to think long term and all these other things, and y'all don't understand. I was the guy who was climbing out of the truck bed, going 60 miles down the interstate on a back country road, to climb on top of the truck bed and put my like. I didn't think beyond the next couple of feet in front of me. Growing up and it's still very much a part of who I am I thrive in chaotic environments.

Sonny Von Cleveland:

Oh man, we are so similar, and I think people can learn a good lesson from that. Though, right, I don't know if you're ADHD, but I'm super ADHD and I thrive in chaos, defining the order in the chaos. If I don't have a million things going, I get bored, and then I just start un-purpose filled projects that don't serve any purpose, and so I keep purpose driven projects in front of me.

Stephen Courson:

Yeah, very, very similar, and I remember you're familiar with Jaco Willink Navy Seal. I heard him talking about it and obviously he's dealing with it from a much more extreme scenario than we are.

Stephen Courson:

But he's like when the bullets start flying and the enemy's attacking us, he's like everything just becomes calm and clear to me. I always understood like, okay, now we do this, now we do that, and obviously not to that level of danger. But that really resonated with me when I heard it. I'm like, yeah, when things are chaotic and there's a lot of decisions that need to be made, I can find order in that. So all of that was part of the journey that got me to where I was. Well then, chaos actually happened to one of the most incredible levels that I had ever experienced. So we ended up finding out that we were pregnant. And we weren't just pregnant, we were pregnant with twins. Oh, wow, that was a left curve. One of my favorite sayings is that man makes plans and God laughs.

Sonny Von Cleveland:

So I like the Mike Tyson approach. Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the face.

Stephen Courson:

They get punched in the face, that's right. I got punched with a couple little hands. So we had planned. At that point we knew we were like, okay, we want to have another kid. So that part wasn't as much of a surprise. But then you throw another one on. It's like well, I was going to be starting off like when I quit we were going to have a deficit every month. We had plenty of money in the bank and in assets and all these other things. So as far as cash flow went, it was going to dry up. So we had plenty of runway. But then all of a sudden you threw a kid in and then that changed all the numbers. So I was like, okay. So then, progressing through the pregnancy, trying to figure out what to do, this little thing called COVID happened. I'm not sure if you heard about that.

Sonny Von Cleveland:

COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID. It kind of rings a bell.

Stephen Courson:

It's a really technical thing. It's not. A lot of people have heard of it. You don't have to worry, but basically what ends up happening is my daughters were born February of 2020. Shutdown happens in March. They're still in the hospital, by the way, because they came out to me.

Stephen Courson:

So they're still in the hospital. We literally bring them home two weeks before the hospital shut down. So now I've got three kids under the age of three, because I have a son already you know who's three years old, and so we've got three kids under three. My wife's pregnant. I had, literally the day my children were born, accepted a new position at a new company because I was like I need I need another year or two of you know good sales performance. Make a little extra money just to make sure we're good, since we're having two kids instead of just one, right, right. So then I was supposed to quit my other job. But then I'm like well, is this other job going to take me? Like I didn't know. So I ended up working both jobs at the same time for six weeks with two week old premature babies back at the house Meanwhile.

Stephen Courson:

the world is on fire and three year old terrorist running around.

Sonny Von Cleveland:

It was at three, oh it was the most stressful time, oh man In my life.

Stephen Courson:

It was absolutely wild. So fortunately the new job they ended up keeping me on. They were doing fine. I was able to eventually quit. The other one had a great two year run with that company. You know children are doing well, all grown up in Boston, each other around and then it was time. So I knew that it was time to quit.

Sonny Von Cleveland:

That's. I mean, you got to take it into your own hands. Right, when, especially if you're like us and all kinds of chaos is happening, you find that there's, I don't know about you, but like that fear of the unknown is almost like a motivator for me. Right it's, I like the challenge, I kind of embrace it. Right, I know that change always comes with its own set of challenges. Can you share some of the resistance that you faced, especially with, like your family, and how the global pandemic that little thing that we have heard of a little bit, and the oversaturated market shaped your journey?

Stephen Courson:

Yeah, no, it's. There was lots of, lots of reasons to be hesitant. I think that family and friends whenever you're trying to do something different, if you don't come from you know people who are big risk takers, or you know entrepreneurs if they haven't done what you're trying to do in your life, it doesn't even have to be that it could be other things, like weight loss, Like if you just have a bunch of family members who all love donuts and Swiss rolls and you're like man, I kind of don't want to have diabetes at 40 or getting healthy. It's like people experience very similar situations like that. Right, and I think that people do it for two reasons. Number one they do it because they love you. For the most part, I do think that it comes from a place of love. They want to protect you, they don't want you to fail different things like that, and that's where we have a really poor mindset around failure, because failure is necessary for growth. So if you're not failing at anything, you're not trying very hard 100%.

Sonny Von Cleveland:

Michael Jordan is a prime example, right? What do you take like 900 and some game winning shots and he made 125 or something like that.

Stephen Courson:

Like exactly you got baseball. The entire sport of baseball is built around failure.

Sonny Von Cleveland:

Thanks, Look at those. It's almost like the penitentiary system. In a sense, the penitentiary system is a business right and they have a 77% recidivism rate. What business do you know can fail 77% of the time and still have global support?

Stephen Courson:

Well, I understand there's public and private, but in general I was going to say the government does a pretty good job at that as well. But right.

Sonny Von Cleveland:

So failure is a tool, it's a lesson. It gives you insight on how to proceed forward, and I think that's where the key for growth lies is the ability to either take the failure and go sit down or analyze the lessons that were in the failure and come back stronger Absolutely.

Stephen Courson:

Yeah, so my family. While you know, once I quit, you know they were on board and they were like, okay, you know, good luck, we hope this thing really works out for you right. But, like I said, the only person that really ever could have broke that decision for me would have been my wife. So she is my teammate. Who you marry is the most important, not just financial decision you'll ever make, but wealth decision as well.

Stephen Courson:

And when I say wealth, I always talk about true wealth, which is a balance of the four types of wealth social, health, financial and time. So if I ever talk about money and then wealth, just know I do mean two different things when I'm saying this. But but yeah it, she's the only one that could have really stopped me from doing it. And again, she did for a little bit, because she asked really good questions that my impulsive self probably wouldn't have thought of and she was like, well, okay, I'm not against it, but you know, have you thought about this or have you thought about that? And it's like, no, I haven't, that's a good question.

Sonny Von Cleveland:

I should figure it out. It sounds just like my wife, because I'm like you, right. Well, I come up with a hairbrained idea like, oh, I'm going to do this. Yeah Well, have you thought about this and this and that? Well, no, no, no, I didn't.

Stephen Courson:

Hey, I'll never forget I mean I always knew that women thought differently. I mean that's not like too much of a surprise, you know, for us. But I'll never forget the moment that I knew, like the level of complexity, like it's like I realized there was a new level to women that I didn't even get.

Stephen Courson:

And it was funny thing I was getting ready to go to this interview, it was out of town and this was probably about six, seven years ago, something like that, and I'm. It's literally like the next night it's a dinner interview, you know with, with the AVP of the territory, all that. And my wife looks at me and she goes. So what are you going to eat? And I'm like I don't know, it's some fancy restaurant, I don't know, I haven't thought about that.

Stephen Courson:

She's like Well, you're not going to eat like broccoli or anything, are you? You like broccoli? I was like Well, yeah, I mean, I don't know, maybe I'll get a steak, maybe I'll get broccoli with. Why does that matter? Why? Why you interrogate me, why you ask me what I'm going to eat. She's like Well, if you eat broccoli, broccoli has tiny little pieces that can get stuck in your teeth, and then you could be sitting there talking with some like green stuff in your teeth the entire time, while you're trying to put your best foot forward, and I'm sitting here going, oh my gosh, wow, feels so bad for your species, right.

Stephen Courson:

No, just a level of Wow in detail, even existed, because that's not at all where I thought you were going with it.

Sonny Von Cleveland:

I thought you were going to say something. Did you know that broccoli makes you fart? No, I mean yeah.

Stephen Courson:

I mean even beans. It's like, even though I'm fully aware of that, what I have thought of that hey, maybe don't have beans and start, in case you start farting all over the place during your interview Probably wouldn't have even thought of that either, but right.

Sonny Von Cleveland:

My thought process would have been like well, beans, don't kick in for at least a couple hours? Oh, yeah, right, yeah, definitely no, I think, think of it. And so she just thinks of all those little details. And I find that when my wife is at Taipei, right, she has a red pen and ruler right down through everything and my newest of details. And I think the biggest conflict that we have is cleaning, right, because I stay at home most of the time, I work from home and I clean the house. And she's like Well, you don't clean the house Like you're. I'm like what do you mean? He spent hours in here. Well, you move things, you move. I'm like, well, I mean, I suppose I do. Right, like I, if this place is dirty, I pick the stuff up, I move it around, I wipe it up and there it is. She's a cab, she didn't go under it.

Sonny Von Cleveland:

Well, there's women, there's women.

Stephen Courson:

Without them, we'd all still be in caves. You know what I mean. It's facts. It's so true.

Sonny Von Cleveland:

I'm intrigued by your perspective on choices. You mentioned that every yes is a no to something else. Can you elaborate on that and how you approach day-to-day decisions?

Stephen Courson:

So a lot of this comes with the principles of lifestyle design. There's a saying that says show me somebody who can't make decisions and I'll show you somebody who doesn't have a strategy. And the reason that this is so important and lifestyle design is something that is becoming increasingly popular, because what is happening is one of the biggest challenges that people have nowadays is we have too many options, literally for anything. Everything, all the way from who do we want? To date, you can swipe right in an unlimited amount of times, all the way down to what do I want to eat for dinner, the level of decision making do I order out? Do I make something at home? Do I go pick something up? Do I go eat somewhere?

Stephen Courson:

There's so many different levels, just options that we have available to us nowadays, and it's actually counterproductive because when you give somebody too many options, what ends up happening is they take longer to make decisions. Normally they don't make the best decision, and then what ends up happening is a lot of times, just like we know with TV shows instead of committing to a new TV show, you probably watch something you already know that you like because you don't want to miss. So what in the world. Does all that have to do with what you were saying? So, basically, what it comes down to is this With lifestyle strategy, you're starting with the end in mind. It's where do I want to be?

Sonny Von Cleveland:

What is it that I'm trying to find the smartest method with my life Period?

Stephen Courson:

Yes, that's it. So you start there and then you look at where you are right now and then you create a plan to bridge the gap. That's it in the most simplest of terms. You have designed your life, you've figured out the things you want. Well, what you end up realizing is when you have that in front of you, when you have that purpose, when you have those objectives as I like to call them long-term goals that you're chasing. What you start to realize is that there's a lot of things you're probably already doing right now that are not contributing to that, and some of the worst things that you can be doing are actually good things, but in reality they're just distractions. So what do I mean by that?

Stephen Courson:

Perfect example is I was asked to be on the board of a nonprofit organization. It was a good cause, good exposure for me, all this other stuff. I was like sure, let's do it. I do it for a year. It took up a lot more time during the week than I initially thought it would. It wasn't a ton of time, but it kept me a little busier than I meant for it. Well, I looked at after doing it for about 10 months. I looked at my objectives and what I was trying to do, and what I realized was I just said yes to something that has absolutely nothing to do with the three most important objectives that I said. This is what I'm trying to accomplish in my life. Even though this is a good thing, even though it's a good cause, it in no way or form was moving me in that and therefore my three most precious resources time, energy and money were being sucked away by this distraction.

Sonny Von Cleveland:

Essentially, Right, and I think we get sucked into those too, because on its surface it's a good cause. It's a good cause, it helps people. It's a good cause. You're putting good into the world and so it becomes enticing. You're like, yeah, I mean, I want to do good things and it doesn't. You know it doesn't? I bet your wife would have noticed that. I think that's part of the male condition.

Stephen Courson:

Actually, she probably couldn't have, because she's actually worse at saying yes to everything than I am. She's from the Midwest. They will say yes to literally anything.

Sonny Von Cleveland:

I'm guilty, that's my thing, but yeah, it's, that's fantastic, it's great that you're able to recognize that and I think we, I think as human beings, our compulsory nature is to want to help, right? I think that and that's where that comes in at our own detriment and we don't realize that we're self-sabotaging.

Stephen Courson:

Absolutely. And again, when it's good things, it's hard to know that, it's hard to understand that. Well, this is something that you know. Yeah, I was, you know, helping get books to underprivileged kids out in the community, like, okay, you want to find like one of the most benign things that almost everybody can agree with is good getting books to young kids, I mean what you got to be kidding me. That's what that that's what it was. That was the nonprofit.

Sonny Von Cleveland:

Yeah it was actually yeah.

Stephen Courson:

Well, Dolly Parton, it was an extension of Dolly Parton's program, which is really incredible.

Stephen Courson:

She has this massive thing that I'd never even heard of and basically it's, you know, one of the the number one challenges that underprivileged kids in schools have and their parents have is transportation. So even though there's all these government resources available to them and it's like, well, you can go to the library and get free books, all that, they don't actually have modes of transportation in order to be able to go get it. So what this program did is it went and I'm totally plugging this, by the way, because it is like if you ever want to donate to something, it's really a very well run, it's a great organization. I just can't remember for the life of me right now, but Dolly Parton's reading one. But then basically, what they do is they find out the age of the kid and then they send them relevant reading material for that age, and you know that's appropriate, and then they get that every year they get a couple books sent to them. So and it, you know, the books grow up with them essentially.

Sonny Von Cleveland:

So the crazy, the crazy part. If you can't find that, I happen to know one. It's called the Von Cleveland Foundation and that's exactly what we do. It's called the literary, the literary legacy project. No, we're. We do book drives, we get mindset coaching in personal development books and donate them for free to organizations with marginalized people. And that was, I thought. I had a pretty original idea. I literally launched it last week.

Stephen Courson:

That's amazing. Well, I mean, it's a great it's a great deal. If you ever want to copy a model, check out Dolly Parton's. But I mean, you're serving a completely different demographic.

Sonny Von Cleveland:

Sure, you're doing the same model You're always in need for that gives me hope. Let's me know like, okay, this thing, it's viable. And I like that that was my hair brain thing, right, just was like hey here's an idea.

Stephen Courson:

Well, as we talked about a little bit before this, I was like, hey, here's a man who's doing all the things right. I love how, I love what you're doing. So, yeah, that that's it. And, as you know, doing this right. When you said yes to doing that, there's other things you had to say no to. Every yes is a no, so and I love that.

Stephen Courson:

So when we start to realize that in our everyday life it's like you know, I'll give you another example right, rattin out my wife on this one a little bit here, but I know she won't mind. She is a physician assistant. She works with people yeah, she does ortho. So people who have spine issues primarily is who she's working with. These are people that are in serious pain coming out of like really you know tough surgeries and so they're like you know this is this is some really serious medicine that's being done, and every time she can't go to work because they're so packed she's booked a month out. That's a long time for those people to be able to see her again. So it's a really big deal for her to make sure she's at work. That's why we make sure I'm the flexible one when it comes to picking up kids at school and if somebody has to come home early, I try to make sure I'm the one doing it, not her.

Stephen Courson:

But the reality is this sometimes she can have a tendency to want to stay really late for long periods of time. She'll go two, three weeks just seeing all these extra people and what she realized was you know, through conversations we had to have was. You're doing a really good thing, but the tradeoff is you're not getting to put your kids to bed at night. Right, Unfortunately you'll never be able to fix all the problems, the back problems of everybody in the world right, but when you're dead and gone, who's going to care more? Is it going to be the patients you saw, or is it going to be your children? And that is a lot of times, I think, what ends up happening when people who are getting burnt out at their jobs. They are trying to do things that are good, and maybe there are things you have to do like it is your job, but maybe you're doing too much of it. Maybe you need to set a boundary and say I'm going to give my job, my all, until five o'clock and then I have to go home.

Sonny Von Cleveland:

And that's one of the wonderful things that my wife taught me was the boundaries. My boundaries have always sucked, but I've come from a horrible background and so I had this innate desire to be liked by everybody, so I just opened my boundaries up and allowed everybody in, and my wife comes from corporate. She was the sales director for Fortune 100 company with a $2 billion sales target every year in London, and so she quit that, obviously because it sacrificed as well. One of the interesting things that, when you first got into this question, was your strategy, seeing the end game, and that's something that I did in my life and the way that I did that, which I think is a great platform for people to try.

Sonny Von Cleveland:

I wrote my own obituary and it took part of people and this was a natural way that I learned to see the end and to start from the end, and I mean it took me a long time to get there because when I first happened, I died. That day I'm like, oh yeah, well, he lived a crap life. He was in prison, most of it, blah, blah, blah, blah. My guy was like you died today, and so the beautiful thing about doing an obituary and really taking it seriously and live as long as you want, 110 years old.

Sonny Von Cleveland:

And what did you accomplish when you finished that? You literally have a blueprint for your life yeah, and you just reverse engineer it and figure out how to make those steps and how to make it happen. So I love the way that you implement the yeses and no somewhere else and start with the end in mind. You took three months off after quitting your job to rest and recalibrate. Tell us about the transformative experience and how it changed the way you think and feel. Taking that much time off it's got to be scary, right?

Stephen Courson:

It was so weird. So I grew up lower middle class, never really had any money. To date I'm definitely the wealthiest person in my family and I've heard people say that people who have lost a lot of weight. I have a friend. He's down like 170 pounds over the past three years huge weight loss journey. But he loves to say he's like the fat kid that loves cake still lives in me. And to that I say the broke kid who didn't have any extra money growing up still lives in me, because I measure wealth in terms of time, that you don't have to have an income.

Stephen Courson:

So for right now, me and my wife, without changing our lifestyle, we can live for the next 10 and a half years without ever making another dime and without any of our investments appreciating. That's our runway. But that doesn't mean anything to me because deep down inside I still have that broke kid and when I took those three months off it was relaxing. I needed it. I'm a man who loves his hobbies. I love scuba diving, I love pizza, doing crazy things, golf I still suck at it, but man, it's fun. We are so much alike. Hey, you come down to Florida and everything. We're going to go hang out and have some good time.

Sonny Von Cleveland:

So we'll go play a round of golf.

Stephen Courson:

That was fun, but it's ugly, we'll have some rap, metal on the back and a couple drinks and it'll be all good man.

Sonny Von Cleveland:

Right, it'll take us a few hours, but we'll get to the ninth hole.

Stephen Courson:

Eventually, that's exactly it. But the three months, the thing that really I think probably the biggest revelation to me, was the fact of how much I carried stress physically. I'll never forget this. So, working in sales for portion 500 companies. They're traded on the stock market. The end of quarters are a really big deal because it affects the stock price, which pretty much affects everything. You can ask the bonuses that have been laid off from their jobs in the past.

Sonny Von Cleveland:

What do they call it? Making them redundant? Yeah.

Stephen Courson:

You have to make someone redundant. Make them redundant.

Sonny Von Cleveland:

So a great way of saying just ruin their life because we didn't hit a quota.

Stephen Courson:

Hey, sorry guys, the almighty investor is ultimately what it comes down to. So we're going to have to cut a thousand of you, but, don't worry, we got money for the CEO's jet. But the point is, what I found was when we were coming to the end of the quarter I think this was June, no, no, no, no, this was September. So in September I was getting kind of starting to think okay, what am I going to start doing now? That was close to the end of the three months. I started to get this physical stress and I couldn't figure out what it was. I'm like why am I stressed? I'm literally just going to the pool during the day and watching TV and doing whatever I want. What is wrong with me? And I realized that after 14, 15 years of, at the end of every quarter, having this crazy amount of stress of bringing deals in and being up late at night on the 30th or 31st of the month and trying to do whatever I can to get it in, it still had an impact on my body. It became habitual.

Sonny Von Cleveland:

It became habitual.

Stephen Courson:

Yeah, yeah. So that was something that really I had never taken into account. I had thought about all these other things. I had coached people on this stuff for years, but experiencing that in this physical letdown that I had to go through that really just kind of made me aware of health in a different way. Sure, and I was thinking of how much we talk about all the time. When I say health, I don't differentiate mental and physical, it's just health, it's all the same thing. So that was really a big takeaway for me during those three months. And then the other big takeaway which was the obvious one I knew was going to be was just the decoupling of getting used to a paycheck every two weeks. That's a weird thing that entrepreneurs just have to experience and they have to go through. It's not a bad thing, it's just have to accept it. You just have to accept it.

Sonny Von Cleveland:

It gets a little worse for entrepreneurs because we see, well, we also have to pay workman's compensation and all this other stuff for your employees and instead of seeing a check come in, you're sending a lot of checks out and it's like, okay, and you're trying to do a cash flow versus asset balance and it's oh. It can be stressful for sure. We always love a good book recommendation. You said Essentialism by Greg McKeown McKeown, mckeown that's a weird name. Mckeown's a little weird, but yeah, I wonder if he's Scottish.

Stephen Courson:

You said this book was a game changer. I actually do think he's from the UK. I do know that he might have a little Scott in him.

Sonny Von Cleveland:

Yeah, maybe Can you tell us why this book is so influential for you.

Stephen Courson:

So Essentialism was a book I found on a very strange day in my life and the cover of the book is pretty nonchalant. It's white cover, essentialisms and red letters and then there's like a circle. That's like if you drew with a marker, you know, kind of going all around it with some arrows pointing out and, for whatever reason, I probably looked at the book because I'm a big book nerd. I just recently changed this, but for about a decade I read about 25 books a year Because somebody had told me and this had changed my perspective on reading a lot. But if the average person reads one book a year, then that meant if I only live another 50 years, I'm only going to read 50 books for the rest of my life. Well, when you think about it like that, it's like there's a lot of really good books out there and I get more selective with the books I was reading, but I was trying to read a lot more too. So, for whatever reason, this book kept popping out of me when I'd go to the store and I looked at it and never really committed to buying it and then had a really weird day, went in and something just hit me divine moment, and I picked up the book, sat in books a million, read it for an hour and a half, bought it, took it home and I would say it's in my top decade list Out of the past 10 years. I would put it in the top five of the best books that I've read.

Stephen Courson:

As far as relevancy for today and basically what essentialism is is, it's rooted in a lot of what I do with lifestyle design. It is looking at everything that you have going on in your life, all the distractions, all the things that are pulling you in different directions, and just going what is actually important to me, what are the things that society is imposing on me, what do I think is really important? What do I want for my life? And then basically focusing on those essential things, and he walks through what that looks like and gives you very functional advice. This isn't pie in the sky stuff. This is very functional advice on okay. This is how you start to eliminate a lot of things that are important and make more progress towards the things that do matter to you, and I think that we live in a time to where purpose and significance are taking a back burner to happiness, and I think that's a huge mistake in our culture.

Sonny Von Cleveland:

And it is, but I think there's also there's just this generational awareness maybe and I don't even know if I'm using the right word, it just sounded good, but there's this awareness that is coming around that people are starting to learn that you can live a purpose filled life, a life of fulfillment, and monetize it. So we're seeing a lot of post COVID people that said, all right, I'm not going to go back and make somebody else rich anymore, I'm done working for somebody else, and so they're now monetizing their life. And I think I think that it's such a good thing, because I think so many more, so many more people are traveling, and I think traveling should be a curriculum. When you're like, as soon as you finish high school, you're not allowed to do anything else. Here's a hundred bucks in a rucksack. Yeah, I agree, pick one of these countries and you got to go backpack for a year and figure it out.

Sonny Von Cleveland:

I think that's because of the exposure to diversity in different culture. I think it's such a profound lesson, and so I think people should learn that, and this book sounds amazing. I'm going to have to get it. I mean, I've read a lot of books, every book that I have here.

Stephen Courson:

I've got a good one behind you.

Sonny Von Cleveland:

There's more way back here, but I think that if I had to pick one out, I think this, for somebody who is not in the right spot. This is a massive book. Oh yes, and for those, this is audio, so nobody sees it, but this is a book called how to Unfuck Yourself by Gary John Bishop, and I love that book. I think it's they break it down in for lack of better term, man terms that we can just we can. We can take in more. It's not overly educational or it's not overly academic so people can take it in. But check out this book. I'm going to look into essentialism by Greg McCown. It looks good. Before we wrap it up, do you have any advice for listeners that are standing at a crossroads in their life, that are unsure on the path to take? What advice would you give these people?

Stephen Courson:

Yeah, basically it would be three steps. This is kind of the beginning to what I do with a lot of people and coaching. What I would just say is this block off two, three hours of your week Okay, could be a Wednesday night, doesn't matter, it's just three hours to where you, you know, if you have children, there won't be children bugging you. You know, if you, you know, have a partner or anything like that, they're going to leave you alone. Put your phone in a completely different room Three completely uninterrupted hours, and then start to think that if you could only have three things in your life, if you could only accomplish three things in the next 36 months, what would those three things be? That's all you're allowed to accomplish for the next 36 months, three years. What would that be? And you can pick one, you can pick two, you can pick three, but you can't pick more than that. Cause, once you do more than that, then your chances of accomplishing any of them go down drastically. That's a different story for another time in the power of three. But anyway, that's the first step. Second step I would say is, once you've figured out what you want, then figure out where you are and take a look at what are my assets, what are my liabilities, how much money do I have in the bank, how much money do I owe, all these other things in relation to your objective.

Stephen Courson:

If you've said that, if it's a non financial goal, and you said like, hey, I want to run on the Ironman. I've never run in Ironman before, but that's something really important to me Okay, figure out, where are you from a physical perspective. You need to be able to run, bike, swim. Okay, you've got to go certain distances for that. Where are you in relation to that? How much can you do today? So, figure out where you are in relation to those objectives.

Stephen Courson:

And then the third and final thing that you need to do is tell somebody so help somebody that you have done this and get accountability, because we do not like to fail and we do not like to fail in front of other people. And when you ask somebody to hold you accountable on something and you write down these goals and it becomes solid, you will find that you are much more motivated to go and do these things that you said are the most important things to you over the next three years than if you just kind of left it as a little secret and it was like oh yeah, I hung out for a night and I figured this out. So those would be the three things I would say. I love it.

Sonny Von Cleveland:

I love that approach. I just took on a new client and you can go down my Facebook and see him. His name is Ryan Patershaw and he had a great life and he started letting depression get at him and now he's 350 pounds. And I told him, like, this is the way you do. You need an accountability partner, somebody that's going to push you and keep you true. So put your push-up videos out on Facebook to throw them out there. And the best part about this is that not only will these people help you stay accountable because you don't want to fail in front of people but you're going to inspire people, and already on day two he's inspiring people. This will be day three and he's going at it and it's like this is where that's at.

Sonny Von Cleveland:

When you have that accountability outside of yourself, it's easy when you're by yourself to say I'm going to hit the snooze button or I'll just skip it today. Nobody knows and it's just you. But when other people are watching, it gives you that internal motivation to be like I can't let them down and do whatever you have to do to hold yourself accountable. If you got to put yourself out there to the millions of people, then do it. Do it. If it keeps, whatever it takes to achieve the goal, get it done. It doesn't matter. Everything else is an excuse. Stephen, it's been an absolute pleasure having you on the Choice Effect, bro. You're an amazing dude. You've shared some profound insights and I believe that your story is going to resonate with a lot of people that are grappling with their own choices. But people know where they can find you. Plug away anything you've got. Let it be known.

Stephen Courson:

Yeah, thanks, it's been an absolute pleasure being here, sonny. I really appreciate it. If anybody wants to find me, my website is just stevencorsonme. You can look me up on there. I'm pretty active on LinkedIn. That's the social media I'm primarily on, and going to be working on some YouTube stuff here pretty soon too, but for the most part I just put my podcast up there. So, yeah, punching my name on YouTube or anything like that LinkedIn, you'll find me. I love it.

Sonny Von Cleveland:

Thank you so much, Stephen. It's been an incredible talk. We can go for hours, man.

Stephen Courson:

Oh dude, I feel like we just scratched the surface. We didn't need music or anything. We're not done.

Sonny Von Cleveland:

We're far from done, but we're done for today. So thank you so much and I greatly appreciate you and I will talk soon.

Stephen Courson:

All right, we'll talk soon. Bye.

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