Pays to Be Brave is the #1 business and confidence event for female entrepreneurs where I joined 1,500 women in San Diego, CA for the ultimate business breakthrough weekend as a guest speaker, presented by Angie Lee. During the conference, I was able to talk about my personal stories that have helped shape me since I was a kid growing up. You can watch my speech down below or you can continue to read and learn about how I turned my experience into a story worth selling.
From Humble Beginnings to My Addiction
I have a favor, I need a favor. Let’s take a trip. We’re gonna take a trip to 2007. We’re gonna jump in our little time machine and go back to 2007. Think about where you were in 2007. It is like dark-thirty in the morning. Have you ever had to wake up so early that you’re not sure who you are? You’re like, “what’s my name? Where am I at? Who’s that?” No? I’m just joking. So it’s super early in the morning in New York City, and very cold. So there are only a few things that I hate: it’s early and it’s cold, ’cause I’m from Texas and I like the warmth. So that morning in New York City in 2007, I’m having to leave my little apartment in Queens bundled and layer up. I took a few blocks and walked down to the subway station to take the short little ride into Manhattan. Magical Manhattan, oh my god. Who’s been to Times Square? It’s the center of the universe. It’s so exciting, you should be super excited to go there. That morning, not so excited. You see, let me back up a little…
Let’s get back in the time machine. I wanna go back a little further. The whole reason this Texas boy was in New York City. We gotta go way back to first grade because first grade is when I found my first addiction. It was probably the strongest addiction I’ve ever experience in my entire life. You see, in the first grade my elementary school did a Christmas play and my first-grade class was picked to do a musical number called Too Fat for the Chimney. It’s a very serious, deep story about how Santa Claus wasn’t gonna be able to deliver presents that year because he was too fat for the chimney. So back when I was in elementary school, which is probably before many of you were born, there wasn’t like a childhood obesity epidemic. I was the fat kid in class. Naturally, I’m thinking I’ll be Santa Claus, but nope. My best friend Justin Morton, the skinniest kid in class, they said “you get to be Santa.” He gets the starring role, and they put pillows around him. He and all my friends put on like 1980’s leg warmers, headbands, and aerobic gear. They were all upstage right by the couch and they were doing aerobics routines around Justin. While yours truly, fat sweet Jimmy – don’t we love him? We’re cheering him on. They say “Jimmy to go down here at the edge of the stage and we’re gonna put you in full feety pajamas.” Just like with the feet and the drop bottom and the stocking cap that my granny made. They tell me, “You get to sing a solo…” while all of my friends are safe. They’re safe up here, they’re together. You go down here fat, insecure kid and sing your heart out to all your peers.
♪ “He’s too fat for the chimney, too fat for the chimney” ♪
And then, right then, that’s when the addiction started. Because as I got into the song I saw a nod, and I saw a smile. I was like “holy shit, this is what I’m meant to do the rest of my life”. It’s to get an emotional response from an audience, to change lives, to make you smile, to make you laugh, to make you think, to make you move.
Do you know what the worst part about knowing in the first grade what you’re supposed to do with the rest of your life? It’s when you hate the body you’re in and you hate your life, and you think there’s no way I’m ever gonna be able to do this. Not only was I the only fat kid in the class, back then there wasn’t a lot of divorced parents, but I was that kid in my class as well. I was always feeling torn between two homes. I just didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere, safe, and I didn’t know who I was. I was always trying to be different at whatever house I was at, trying to morph into something to make them love me. I just wanted to be accepted, but when I was there that was home. They liked me because I was being myself, not because I was being a version of myself, I was just doing something I love. So that started me on a journey of knowing that I was meant for something more, I was just looking at all of the reasons I’d never be able to do it. It really started a seed of resentment in me.
Fast forward to junior high and high school, I continued to get bigger and put on more weight. I wanted to go to acting school, but my mom says “Jimmy, we can’t even afford to like put you on a plane to let you audition.” It felt so frustrating because I had to go to a two-year school, and then I’d go to a college I didn’t want to go to and drop out there. I just kept seeing other people do the things I wanted to do, but of course they’re going to have success. Look, they have a scholarship or their parents are paying for their schooling. They’re not working two jobs like me, and trying to be in the theater department, audition, and be in shows. Of course they’re successful. How often is it to look at somebody else and discredit their success because you think, “oh it came easy to them”? They don’t understand my situation. We have no idea what that person’s story is either. Right?
I continued to try and I failed until in my early twenties I found myself a hundred-pound overweight, three-time college dropout living back at home with my parents waiting tables. Then there was one not so early morning where I got out of the shower around 11 am, and I stopped by the mirror. This is a place a guy at a hundred pounds overweight doesn’t like to spend a lot of time in, especially after getting out of the shower. For whatever reason that morning I stopped, and I didn’t respect the person looking back at me. It was like yesterday that I remember going through my head, “Jimmy if you don’t change, you’re gonna be alone the rest of your life.” Now you might think that some lightning and thunder suddenly came down, and you could hear Eye of the Tiger in the background, but, my life didn’t change right away. I wasn’t always motivated after that, but something shifted in me there. Thankfully while going after that, one of the guys I was bartending with was starting to lose weight.
I envy you ladies. You rock at sharing what works. If somebody looks amazing you say “oh, sweetheart what are your shoes, what hair stuff do you use?” Ladies will start telling you everything, but guys don’t operate that way. I’m noticing my buddy Jeremy looking good, but we don’t like roll on by and say,
“yo’ Jeremy lookin’ swell in those pants buddy.”
But sometimes when the pain point gets hard enough you’re gonna get a swollen ego, right? I just watched and watched, and then I thought “I’m not gonna ask, I’m not gonna ask, I’m not gonna… fuck.” I finally said to him “Jeremy this is stupid, why are you losing weight?” I remember these things like it was yesterday. He literally said, “I’m doing these DVD’s.” He couldn’t get the last D out and I was like nope. I’m not doing your Jane Fonda workout program.
The next time you’re selling, whatever it is, your product, your services, trying to get someone to join your team, or you’re trying to get people in your coaching program and they say no, just remember that I was a no. You know no really means not right now, right? Because this is what happens, you come to tell me how I can change my life because everybody wants to pitch a complaint, and then you offer a solution, right? There’s a difference between wanting to complain and wanting to change things. So you tell me “hey, here’s the solution and this is the cost” and I’m like nope, I’m not gonna do that and run elsewhere. I’m gonna watch, and I’m just gonna keep saying that stuff doesn’t work. She looks good, how’d she go on that vacation? She must play some social media. You know, that’s what they do. So keep doing what you do even when people tell you no.
So I get the DVD’s, and I started losing weight. It was crazy because I was excited about something for the first time in two years. That meant more to me than the weight loss did. Just being excited about life was amazing. Fast forward to losing weight, I was doing some more challenging programs. Nobody in my family had muscles or were ripped or anything so I didn’t have a role model, but then I got enough confidence to jump back into the theater world.
I started auditioning for shows in Dallas, and I started getting on the stage. Transferring from the funny, fat, sidekick to the leading man roles which was really foreign to me because I will tell you, things change on the outside way faster than they change here on the inside. Fat Jimmy that I didn’t respect was still in my head. That’s still who I saw in the mirror even after losing a hundred pounds. Then somebody saw me in a musical in Dallas and said, “Hey, why aren’t you in New York City?” It was a great idea that I never bothered thinking about. Have you ever waited for someone to give you permission to step into your greatness? Like you’re waiting for somebody to go, “Here’s your invitation to a kick-ass life.” It rarely happens, so stop waiting for it. So I was like, why not?
This is the Moment
This leads us back to the cold morning in New York City. At that point, I had already been in the city for about 3 years. I was getting on the subway bundled up, and I wasn’t heading to Manhattan for a rehearsal on a Broadway show, or to be on a TV show, or a movie. Do you know what it means to do promotions? Promotions just mean any little side job that barely makes ends meet. I had done coffee demonstrations in Macy’s. I’ve also been a filler at a party, where you pretend you’re supposed to be at this party walking around, but this next one was the worst of it all.
It’s early and cold, and I get there and they say, “Hey Jimmy so glad you’re here. You see the van over there by the corner? Go change into this.” If you’ve seen the movie Newsies, you probably love Christian Bale. For those of you who don’t know, I think they did a Broadway show as well. They said, “okay here’s your costume.” Anything with the word costume is just bad, but you’re trying to make a living. What I ended up changing into was embarrassing. They had me dressed as a paperboy from the 1930s that had these knickers and a little hat with a paperboy strap. To put into perspective, I’m already near 30 years old at this point so I’m not a struggling 18-year-old kid trying to make ends meet. Then I was handed a bunch of chocolates because the promotion required paperboys handing out chocolates. So then he said, “here you’re gonna pass out these chocolates to the oh-so-friendly people of New York City at 6 AM.”
The moment in the mirror sucked, not being able to go to the colleges I wanted to suck, and doing coffee demonstrations in Macy’s sucked. However, nothing was as awful as that morning. When you’re literally trying to hand something to a human being for free and they don’t acknowledge that you’re standing there. I felt so humiliated, and I found myself looking up at all the billboards in Times Square. Broadway show, talk show, blockbuster movie, hot new series…That’s supposed to be me. Nobody told them that I was showing up 3 years earlier. Like hey, here comes Texas! Reserve his spot on the board. There was something in that moment that told me “quit waiting for somebody else to give you your stage.” Quit waiting for somebody else to give you your show. Go do this on your own, and that was the moment I decided to start my business.
The Real Change Starts With You
I had been involved in my business for about a year, by then I hadn’t done anything with it. It was something you were playing around with the idea of when you can do something, but you haven’t had that moment. I feel like it’s because you don’t know where you want to go. It wasn’t about, “oh, I wanna be influencer or I want a bunch of likes, comments, or subscribers.” I didn’t want to live this life anymore. I didn’t want to be on somebody else’s time, making embarrassing money doing things that made me question my confidence and who I was as a human being. So I started studying. If things are gonna change, you have to change. Jim Rohn is one of my favorite people who promote personal developments too. I thought “listen to Jim Rohn, stop Jimmy and listen to Jim Rohn” it’s like your grandpa talking to you about how to live life.
Smart people take notes. I met Shelly Johnson, my business coach, mentor, and friend for the past 5 years says smart people take notes. I started studying notes, and at this point I was thinking about how I don’t like mornings or I don’t like this or that. I was telling myself that these are honest things about myself and that it’s just who I am. Did these things get me to where I am today? Do I have the power to change some things? These were the thoughts racing around my mind.
Coming from the acting background, nine times out of ten, people on the other side of the table would let me know if I was talented enough. If you ever have to audition for something, and they say thank you, it’s a no. So I started studying people and that has lead me now to be in business for 11 years. I want to help you guys figure out cause some of you guys are just getting started and I think it’s amazing. You have never had more opportunities to create the life that you want, serving the people that you want, and making the impact that you want then you do right now. However, real change starts with you. Sitting down listening to podcasts and watching YouTube videos are great, but nothing is going to change without effort. You have to be able to get up and make the decisions that will help you.
I want to be your biggest cheerleader, and I know for me, I’m almost thankful that YouTube and podcasts weren’t as relevant when I started because I would’ve done the same thing. Did you know when you go to an event, or you listen to a podcast, or you watch a YouTube video do you realize the insane endorphins that are going off in your head? How awesome you feel about being at an event are the exact same endorphins that go off in your head when you actually do something.
I have been sharing some things that I haven’t put into action because there were three parts that changed what happened. They changed the Jimmy that I’ve been describing to the Jimmy that’s here now. There was no confidence and I didn’t know how to step into knowing exactly who I am. I’m out here not nervous because I’m not focused on me. My job is to serve you so the minute we start thinking about” I’m not good enough, I can’t do this, this is what’s going on in my life” I tell anybody I work with, to encourage somebody else. The minute you put your energy into somebody else you stop focusing on yourself. Don’t sit there and wish someone would encourage you. Go encourage somebody else because only you control these things.
It Pays to Be Brave
Here are some things I mentioned: 1) was making a decision. There were two moments, in the mirror and in Times Square. I made a decision, and I burned the boats; there’s no turning back. A lot of times that I’m talking to new people that are starting in their business, I tell them when people ask me “Jimmy how have you been doing this for a decade, what’s the big key?” I tell them “you know what? It wasn’t a conscious decision, but now from here I can say that it was. That I can get into this thing, trying it. I was like, I’m in. I’m a lifer, if I don’t make a dollar, if nobody says yes to me, I’m in.”
Why? Because I’m better inside this community than outside of it. For example, let’s say you sign up or you launched a podcast or YouTube channel, but you’re not getting any followers. The reality is that it might take a while. It makes you a better person when you’re engaging yourself into personal development events or listening to podcasts. As you grow to be a better person, you attract better people. However, if just because you want to start things you need to stay committed. If you’re a person who’s just waiting for someone to tell you no, and you’ve got your hand on the backdoor to give up leave, you should leave. That type of mindset isn’t going to get you anywhere, so make a decision and be in it for the long haul.
I started studying successful people and I realized a few things: successful people got up early in the morning, but I hate getting up in the morning. One of my favorite personal development speakers tells a story about how there was an old guy sitting on the porch and there was a dog laying on the porch moaning and groaning. A young guy comes by and asks, “why is that dog moaning and groaning?” He replies, “the dog’s sitting on a nail.” So the young man continues “oh, why doesn’t he move?” and the speaker says “it doesn’t hurt enough to move, it just hurts enough to moan and groan.” The point was that no one is going to care how you’re getting off that nail, or when you’re going to get off. So you’ve got to decide somewhere along if the nail hurts enough to move, and that was me for my morning routine.
My morning routine now is by someone fat Jimmy would never recognize. I get up at 5-5:30 in the morning without an alarm now because I’m excited about what I do. The very first thing I do in the morning is I grab my phone, I put on YouTube or a podcast of some kind of personal development. When I say first thing in the morning, I mean I don’t know my name at the moment type of earliness. I’m reaching for the phone, I push play and it starts. I don’t even have to watch it, I just need to hear it. I’m trying to figure out what’s going on, where’s the restroom, where am I even at? Do you know what I found out? It’s not that kind of show. What I found was there were about twenty hidden minutes in the morning just trying to get to my pre-workout, my coffee, or whatever, that my mind was prying to what I was going to be that day. Study after study, show that little moment in time so you have to attack your mind before your mind attacks you. Fat Jimmy isn’t dead, I just drown him out every morning. That little motherfucker is there every day I would tell myself “not today fat Jimmy.” Because Tony Robins or Angie Lee is talking to me, somebody is speaking life into me right now. It’s my job to pour into you. So if your job is to pour into your clients, or it’s to help more people, you have to fill your bucket up first. Put on your mask before you help the person next to you on the plane. So for me, it’s get up, turn on personal development and then I workout first thing in the morning. I get this body moving because again, that’s where I have my best business ideas. I want those endorphins running. Then it’s a series of writing and journaling over coffee. That’s when I knew, this is it, this is my morning routine.
Selling Your Story
Would it be helpful if I gave out my morning routine? If so, go to productivebook.com I laid it all out for you because you deserve the best. The last thing I learned or realized in long-term business that I had to be better at, which I actually found all of my failures were preparing me for, was telling stories.I found out that most people don’t know how to tell a story or they’re waiting for some sort of approval to do so. An example would be when I had this client tell me about how she lost 30 pounds and she wants to share her story, but she didn’t feel like she deserved to because she still felt like she needed to lose another 80 pounds. I told her that it doesn’t matter that you want to lose another 80, you’ve lost 30 already and that’s worth telling others to get motivated and inspired. Your story will improve the world, and you will impact people so don’t wait. What I learned was how to tell a story, and I’ll be sharing it with four parts.
- Where I was. Where were you? Were you like me? Were you a fat kid? Were you broke? Did you not have a career?
- What were you dissatisfied about? What sucks about it? Number one, I didn’t like being overweight, I didn’t like not having confidence. Number two, I hated other people telling me where to be and when to be places.
- What you found. What did you find that changed that? Was is meditation, was it a workout program, was it a company, was it a community?
- What were your results or why are you excited about the future.
I teach it this way because fat Jimmy who didn’t lose a pound or make a dollar yet can still use this same formula. I was dissatisfied about life, but I found some workouts and a community that loves me. Although I’m just starting out, I’m excited about life. On top of the four parts to storytelling, there’s a bonus number five that comes along with it.
5) How can you change their lives?
You have to say “I’ve done it, now I can help you” even if you haven’t done it yet or you haven’t made any money. People want to be part of the building process, not wanting to be part of something that’s already built. People who look at me and say, “Jimmy you lost a hundred pounds.” People will admire and say “you look great” or “good job!” but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to take action for themselves. Taking action to change your life is intimidating, overwhelming, and daunting. For example, if you knew someone who lost 7 pounds in 7 days by just kicking the soda habit out, it’ll click into your mind that “wow I knew that person! I can do that too”. The same concept works with income as well. You don’t have to be 6 or 7 figures living on a boat to start sharing the fact that you’re making an income doing what you’re doing. Another client I had come to me saying “Jimmy I really don’t feel like I can share my business very much because I don’t feel like I’ve made enough money or have enough, you know, success.” I asked her what has she made within the business that makes her feel good. She told me “me and my girlfriends we go get our nails done once a week and I don’t have to take it out of the family budget and I don’t feel guilty about it.” I told her “do you realize you could build a million-dollar business with that story? How many women out there feel guilty ’cause they’re taking money away from their family or their spouse, or whoever because they want to go just play at Target, or just get their nails done, or just take care of themselves?” This may sound small it, but it moves the news. Thus, that’s the review. So, the three things again: You need to make a decision, change what you’re doing that starts in the morning. It’s not necessary to follow my exact regimen. Take a look at what I do, and you can make it your own. I’m simply sharing what I’m doing and then I share the stories that I’ve explained over and over. Eventually, everyone is going to say “oh I’ve heard this one”, but who has to hear something multiple times before they make a decision?
Ladies, I am cheering you on, I love what you’re doing.