Turning Adversity into Opportunity with Gary Brackett

1,000 Stories


Joe Mills: Candidly, I will fan girl for just a second. As a former athlete and somebody who loves sports, I’m in a little bit of disbelief that our investigation into the motivations of business leaders to continually choose growth has led us here.

Gary Brackett: Test, test, test. One two, one two. Test. Test.

Joe Mills: This is Gary Brackett. He’s experienced.

Gary Brackett: Yeah, done this a few times.

Joe Mills: Yeah. Just here’s the reason. We’ve got a former NFL linebacker on this business podcast. It’s because he’s actually been retired from that season of his life for 11 years. That’s more time than he spent in the league. And since his retirement, he successfully built a restaurant business, candidly, got punched in the face by the pandemic, like many in that space did, And then used that experience to pivot to becoming a growth coach for CEOs and their businesses.

He seems to have this incredible ability to pivot, grow into an entirely new area, and find out the keys to success in each of them. And really the most important part to me, the part I wanna understand is it hasn’t always been sunshine and rainbows. How have you found this motivation, this intrinsic drive to keep digging deep and to make each season of life an improvement or a growth on top of the last?

What shared experiences motivate today’s business leaders to keep growing, and how have their unique stories impacted the way they enable others to do the same? I’m Joe Mills,

Reid Morris: and I’m Reid Morris.

Joe Mills: and we’re investigating what and who it takes to build companies that foster growth in people and business.

Then we’re sharing those stories with you. This is 1000 Stories, an original show from Element three.

Reid Morris: Okay, Joe.

Really exciting conversation coming up here. I feel like there’s just a really different background and mindset that I feel like we could dig into here.

Joe Mills: Yeah, I completely agree. One of the things that’s interesting is to unpack, is this what he thought about?

When he was thinking about transitioning outta the league, I imagine there’s a point in time where you’re like, All right, I’m probably inside of my last chapter of my professional career, whether that’s two years, three years, four years, one year, whatever. Or it was a sudden at some point you have the realization I’m going to retire and there’s going to be a whole life ahead of me beyond this sport, and I will go from being old inside of a professional sports realm.

I’m putting that in quotation marks, and then I’m gonna become very. Overnight, and I’m gonna have a lot of options in front of me and people are gonna be asking me for things, and I’m gonna have this immense point of leverage in the community that I will not ever probably get back to from like an opportunity standpoint, where many people will be very receptive to me.

They’ll be asking me things, they’ll be asking things of me, and how do I filter through the land of opportunity to find the thing that I want to go do? Mm-hmm. , I think that’s the thing that I really am interested in with him is take me back. For a second. So I can understand at that point in time where you really do have a little bit of like the world in the palm of your hand moment, and then how did you decide what motivated you then, how has that evolved?

And as you look out into the next version of Gary Brackett, what do you see? Mm-hmm. . I think that conversation is what I, I want to have with him.

Reid Morris: Yeah. And sort of unpacking as somebody who is in this different arena now, how does he view those years in the nfl? Mm-hmm. was it like you do a job and then eventually for most people, you go on and you do another job.

And that’s exactly what it was. It’s a job. Mm-hmm. . And for people on the outside, especially for me, who doesn’t even have the same background in sports as you, you know, you picture professional sports as this sort. Pedestal. Mm-hmm. , it’s, it’s this crowning thing, but for somebody who’s in that space, is it this mindset of, that was a career that I had for a period of time, that was a job that I had, and then this is the next one, right?

Mm-hmm. , and just for, I guess, informing the people who aren’t in that world, what that mindset’s like and how people in the world that sort of, we view from far away view. That job experience.

Joe Mills: That’s such a good point. It is interesting. Professional sports is one of the most difficult jobs to get by and large, everybody wants it.

I know that’s a generalization, but there is a very large segment of people who want that work and such a tiny, tiny, tiny percentage you can get it. You know? It’s like less than the NCAA commercials of it. Less than 1% of us will go pro in sports, you know? Or I think their actual tagline was all but 1% of us will go pro in something other than sports.

Yep. So to understand that’s at the college level. Well take the millions who play sports at the youth level who can’t make it to college to play on a varsity level, and then you whittle that down again to another 1% who can play professionally, and then you whittle it down again to like a half a percent that make it more than two years.

And all of a sudden you have this like very tiny cream of the crop, which you imagine would be. The absolute pinnacle of performance. Mm-hmm. , I really love that you brought that up because understanding like not just what does it take to get there, which I think is a way overdone question, but how do people show up?

What motivates you at that level? You’ve made it. What motivates you? Like that is interesting to me. Well see where it goes. Awesome. Cool. I’m excited. Yep. Thanks Joe. Gary, welcome to 1000 Stories

Gary Brackett: man. Man. Appreciate you. Thanks for having me.

Joe Mills: I’m curious for you coming out of professional sports where I think a lot of people probably, and you can tell me if I’m wrong here, it’s Gary Br, Middle linebacker.

Mm-hmm. Colts. But you retired in 11. Yeah. So we’re gonna that point where you’ve been out of the league as long as you were in the league. Right. And I’m curious, how do you see Gary Brackett right now? Well,

Gary Brackett: my body definitely feels like it’s football season. Yeah, right. Uh, I definitely seasonally get, you know, body soreness, but mentally I’ve always kind of viewed myself as like a coach.

And during football, obviously, you know, I was like a player coach. I was a captain and I did a lot of instructing for the defense and my position group specifically. But now coaching and game. Then even being a leader and having employees, I still view them as my team, and I view my role as a coach and not as the ceo.

I think oftentimes managerial positions, you know, people are managing and they’re not leading, and it’s two totally different things.

Joe Mills: Let’s break that down. How do you see that?

Gary Brackett: Yeah, so I think when you’re managing right, you have your job task, you have your roles and responsibilities, and you’re just marching orders, right?

Trying to be effective, you know, trying to tell people what they need to do. You’re out in front. You have less empathy about what’s going on in their lives or what’s, You just have a mission to manage this business, to manage this God, when you’re a leader. I think my role was always to say, Hey, these are goals that we set for us.

And then I would tell people that I’m stubborn about my goals, are flexible about my method. So the goals that we agree with, the number is the metrics, right? Those are it the non-negotiable, but how we get there is up to you. Because what my strengths and weaknesses are aren’t your strengths and weaknesses.

And if you view something differently and we can both achieve the same goal, but yet by doing it your way, you’re gonna get a little bit more fulfilled. I think then that, say for instance, say a sales role, like some people like to sell face to face networking meanings out and about, right? Those are great.

Other people say, You know what, I like to sell casting a y net. I’m a focus on the lead magnet. I’m a focus on lead gen. I’m a focus on getting on a phone call. So both strategies. But it’s just what someone’s aptitude and how they’re gonna be effective doing it.

Joe Mills: You said, I see myself as a coach, and I heard you tell a story on a different show where you had just been given your scholarship at Rutgers.

Mm-hmm. , and you went into the weight room. Everybody was excited, and I played D one soccer at NC State. So I sort of know that moment where he’s like in the weight room together, You’re throwing down, you’re having a great time, and somebody looked at you and were like, Don’t worry about that. Worry about starting.

Mm. Was that sort of the start of the trigger of, I’m gonna change from just being a member to being a leader inside of the organization, being the team in this case. I

Gary Brackett: think we all go through these seasons in life, right? Where in high school I’m the man, right? I’m the captain. I’m bigger than everyone.

Joe Mills: Bigger, stronger, better. Yeah. Yeah. I’m smaller. Pond. Yeah, exactly

Gary Brackett: right. You get the college, you’re like, Yo, you just. A fish. Yeah. And then you kind of get defeated, right? I’m like, I’m just gonna, you know, essentially do my time. But it was on scholarship. So then when I got a scholarship, I’m like, Yes, I get a scholarship, get my education, go to Wall Street, be a stock broker, right?

That’s, that was a life, but then it was just like, nah, you should worry about starting. And in my mind, and I think oftentimes our limitations are self limiting. We govern ourselves. We have these own eternal governors. And for me it was like, yo, just play special teams. Stay out the way. You know, get a scholar.

Relieve your parents get a full meal plan so you could stop making friends at the front door, right, to get a swipe in. So that was the thing. But after, you know, he said, You should be the starter. It got my brain thinking like, this person inside of us was like, We’re up now. You should be the starter. So then I couldn’t sleep that night just asking myself the questions like, what would it take for me to be the starter?

Mm-hmm. . And then I started creating this list on like, all right, cool. You have to get up even earlier. You have to start eating better. You have to start working out harder. You gotta start watching more film, being more intentional about practice. So I write this long list and then that next day I woke up and I was like, Yo, this is it.

Like I’m agree at this list. And I did it and it really changed my life. And I tell that story because so often people are one decision away from changing their lives. Mm-hmm. They’re one decision away. They’re renegotiating that life contract with themselves and raising their standard. And if they do that, then they can create and design their life that they want, but they gotta be diligent about what it is that they’re wanting to give up.

Cause it comes at a cost. Mm-hmm. , you gotta pay the price. So you have to really identify what that price is and are you want to pay that consistently in order to get the life that you wouldn.

Joe Mills: I think it’s really interesting when you tell me if this is a right read. When you walked through the doors at Rutgers, right?

You were like, My first goal is to get a scholarship. Mm-hmm. , and then you made that goal happen and then you very quickly like re-motivated into a new one. What was the driving force behind that? You were like, I stayed up that night. Did you find something like a piece inside of you that was like intrinsically motivated by becoming a starter?

Or what was the piece that motivated you to make all of those changes to. Because you kind of made it. Yeah,

Gary Brackett: well I made it Rutgers at the time, we weren’t the best team. Right. So to be honest, definitely character building years, right? Sure. So, yeah. So in four years I think we want to combine five games.

Yeah. So, uh, struggle. But I think this lies in a lot of people. I think there’s a quote I remember on like Coach Carter, what we are afraid of is not outside. What we’re afraid of is like our own potential. And it just like I was going through like kind of afraid of my own potential, like fearful of like, again, those stories that we tell ourselves that we’re not good enough, that we’re not big enough.

And then you start to realize like, wait, but I am. And then I think when you start moving with that notion, moving with those ideals, like, Wait, I can do this. I can play at this level. I cannot only play, I can thrive. Wait, I’m the best player out here. I can set the temperature of how this whole team operates based on my energy, and that’s a belief.

But that belief is nothing you for not doing the work. But I had done the work, those beliefs can be concreted. So it wasn’t just beliefs because I was just claiming to be the biggest, strongest. It was beliefs because no, I put in the work, I work my tail off. So now I’m in position to like have these things come to fruit.

And I think because I started doing the work, then I started thinking like, Yo, I actually sold. So it was only right that I reap so many people in a reap. Everyone wants to reap, right? Who doesn’t?

Joe Mills: Everybody. Everybody wants rewards.

Gary Brackett: Yeah. Yeah. Sounds nice. How the challenge is when you know deep down side, you haven’t sold.

You’re kind of like, eh, whatever happens. It’s more of a lottery ticket, right? Yeah. Type of a reap system. Like, eh, if I get it, cool, but when you actually sold, it’s more of an expectation. Yeah. Like, No, I put in the work, This is how this worked. So I think that was more of that, because that trigger had been pulled when I started actually putting the work that then I started expecting a level of success.

Joe Mills: This is really interesting. I’m gonna rewind us even before college for a second. I remember hearing you talk. I think you were maybe eight or 10 years old and somebody asked you, What do you wanna be, Your teacher asked you, What do you wanna be when you grew up and you said, I’m gonna play a football player.

Right? So at that point you believed I could be a football player, right? Were you just like beat into by the outside world for the next 10 years that told you like you can’t be a professional football player, so your site should be set lower. Cause then you went into Rutgers like, I’m gonna make a scholarship.

Right? And you’re like, be on special teams. Stay out of the way. Which doesn’t sound like the pro athlete version, right? But then it switched. So like what happened between the, I wanna be a professional football player and then I go to school and I’m happy with the level that I’m.

Gary Brackett: I think life happens.

Mm-hmm. , right? So even Ave ninth grade, I told her wanted to be a football player. She said, Think of something else. Right. That’s never gonna happen.

Joe Mills: But then your dad stepped to your defense, right? Yeah. He was like, You can do anything you want if

Gary Brackett: you put in the work. Yeah. He was like, Yo, never let someone’s perception become your reality.

Mm-hmm. . So I’m like, Cool. So I still had that thought process through middle school. Even in high school. Again, life happens where I hate adversity, where I didn’t get recruited to go to college. Mm. So my mind, I wanted to be an nfl. But I guess no one else agree with me. Right? Yeah. Cause I didn’t get a scholarship.

Come to find out, my high school coach sent out, like my senior year playoff game to get me recruited. Like kids are getting recruited at 10 12. Yeah, right. I’m a senior.

Joe Mills: Yeah. So, I mean, I took off, even in soccer, I was kicking off my recruiting efforts sophomore year. Yeah. In

Gary Brackett: sophomore. So I knew nothing about it.

Technically, it’s always to show someone else’s fault, but it’s my fault for not learning the process of learning what I needed to do. I would get letters, I would get all this mail, right, And it just like, Yo, if you build it, they would come. I didn’t know I actually had to fill ’em out and send back in.

Right. . Yeah. Right. So I didn’t know that stuff. Right. Yeah, So, So I just didn’t get recruited and then I’m just like, Well, I can’t be an NFL player with no wants to recruit me for a scholarship. Sure, let’s get a challenge. So I think after that, and then we’re having to walk on at Rutgers, I just like, Yo, this, I mean, and then that not going well.

So then like we all have these big ideas of what happens, but then when we hit adversity, it’s just like, all right, now

Joe Mills: what? And you went through that again, right? Because you came out of Rutgers. Yeah. You went

Gary Brackett: undrafted. I went un drafted. I think the trigger had already been switched in terms of, in my mind, of knowing my capabilities.

Because the work that I started putting in, because I always tell like I go to high schools, is I speak, one of my things is like, All right, who wants to make it to the nfl? And so many teachers like, Hey, all these kids wanna make that alpha, I want you to come here and tell ’em don’t make it. I’m like, Nah, I’m gonna tell ’em to make it to the nfl.

Right? Because they gotta start with a dream. They’re gonna come to school and graduate because this dream Yeah. They’re gonna make that nfl. It’s a good dream to have,

Joe Mills: right? It’s a, it’s a motivating dream. Exactly what we’re talking about today. It’s a motivating dream. So, So

Gary Brackett: in my mind, I’m just like, Don’t do your work and get good grades and be smart, because if you don’t make it to the nfl, Do it because if you do make it to NFL, you’re gonna need even more to be able to sustain whatever you got to.

Right, Right. So it’s just different thing. So I just think once you agree to something in your mind and then it starts happening, I think that’s when momentum starts to create. Mm-hmm. and then like figure out like, alright, if I do a little bit more of this, I get a little bit more of that. Yep. And then you start seeing like the risk reward of the efforts that you’re putting forth.


Joe Mills: by the time that you graduated in, I imagine it’s every football player’s dream. That late April draft night and hear your name call, it didn’t happen. But you at that point were like, I’m already confident I can make this. I’ve put in the work to get there, so it’s just a matter of putting in the work and it’s, I’m gonna get my shot.

Was that sort of the mindset coming out after that? Yeah,

Gary Brackett: so even for the kids that don’t get picked up, there’s teams that have expressed interest and they contact you got it. Hey, what’s your number on drafting? Hey, if you don’t get drafted, we potentially want to bring you in for a free agent. So in a lot of people’s mind, It’s better to be a free agent than be like a six, seven round drafter.

Okay. Cause then I get to control my destiny and where I wanna go. Sure. So after in the seventh round, the coachs picked up was like, Hey, it doesn’t look like you even drafted. If not, we wanna sign you to a free agent. So I kind of knew that I had this free agent thing and for me it was just like, Man, I just wanted opportunity.

Just gimme a chance to show what I could do. And then I’d take it from there. And you know, that’s what happened. They offered me a free. And I came there and then you know, kind of the rest is history. Well it’s

Joe Mills: interesting, there’s a couple of lessons that you can pull out from your store already. Mm-hmm , just in the early parts of the plane experience where it’s like some people can decide life happens, Right?

And to beat you up and you can decide like, this is just my allotment, this is just what I am. Right. I’m only met for this level. Then stop. And then you can go through drafting like, I didn’t hear my name called, Maybe I dreamed of hearing my name called, Didn’t happen. Well maybe I’m just not, But you’re finding like the positive it.

I get an opportunity now to control my destiny. Instead of being told where I have to go, I get to choose where I should go. I get to choose what opportunities I wanna take advantage of, and then show up all the way ready to

Gary Brackett: go. I think life boils down to what stories we tell ourselves. Mm, Life happens to us all, but what are we gonna tell ourself in regards to that store?

Like even in now, right? With the restaurant business, did I lose millions of dollars? Or do I have millions dollars worth of education? If it’s the latter, then the sky is the limit. So for me, I’m almost always trying to reframe things are happening for me, not to me. And if I reframe those things about how I look at it and how I view it, I can make it empowering.

And I much rather have life lessons and empower me. Other than discourage,

Joe Mills: Have you always been that way where you’re able to take.

Gary Brackett: I’ve always been optimistic. Mm-hmm. , Some

Joe Mills: people think that’s a bad, some people are like, Oh, optimistics they

Gary Brackett: reality. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s funny, right? So it’s football season, so Saturday we’re playing a game.

We haven’t won a game. I mean, it’s been bad. We’ve been 47, but I love these kids, right? Like, I’m back, I’m back at Rutgers, my God. So, um, like I could relate to you guys, like you have no idea. So we’re losing 12 oh at half time. So in the minds of the kids’, like, here we go again. Right? It’s 12. Oh, my speech half time was like, We got this team right where we want ’em, where took their best shot.

That’s all they have. Guys like we clean up on this, We stop ’em on defense. Someone makes a play. We’re in this game. We’re gonna win this game. No, look at it. We like, Huh? Sure enough we come back and win the game 13 and 12. So when that happens to you, once, I think in your mind, you’re always thinking like, I’m right where I want to be at any moment.

Life can change and it changes by telling yourself stories that it’s gonna change well, but I think it’s not gonna change. If I think we’re gonna beat by 40, then it’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy. So for me it’s always like, all cool, what do I want outta life? That’s what I’m gonna visualize and that’s what energies then I’m gonna move towards, so then I can, you know, get closer to making that happen.


Joe Mills: mentioned two things that another guest on our show talks a lot about. His name’s Kevin Bailey. He runs a company called Dream Fuel. Mm-hmm. . And they do professional mindset. For high performers and. You’ve talked about reframing, right? You talked about visualization. Are those practices, like, do you have like a visualization practice or any sort of like mental fitness practice that you do on a daily basis?

Gary Brackett: Yeah. I look at my goals, I looked at my objectives and you know, I kind of visualize reverse engineer, how do I get there? Mm-hmm. and then visualize what that looks like. And my coaching practice. I coach more business owners on how to like scale and grow their business by putting together systems and process.

And also go online automations. So I use this framework called the Champ Framework, and it works like, uh, C first in any problem, right? And there’s seven pillars of our life. There’s fitness and health, there’s self development, business and career, intimate relationships, social relationships, finances and spirituality.

So that’s what our life is made up and all these different pillars. I feel like we could be champions in each one of them, but how we get there, because most of the life challenge. I use this champ framework. So C is understand your current situation. So where are you currently at in this area in your life?

So after you figure out your current situation, then H you wanna hone in on your destination. And when you talk about visualization, honing in on your desired destination and making it as specific. As possible and as visual as possible. It kind of brings your brain on that frequency that you need to take to get there.

Most people say, Hey, I wanna make enough money to have a house, go on a couple of vacations a year. You know, do X, Y, Z somehow. Some way they make that happen. Well, that’s the frequency they’re on. So haing on your design next is like apply to 80 20 principle. So it’s like all. 20% of my work actually yield 80% of these results.

So now you figure that out by a e d funnel. So then you figure out what you do, and then you figure, all right, what can you eliminate? What can you automate? What can you delegate to figure out your 20%? And once you get that 20%, the M is you take massive action. Now, you know what works now doing more of what works.

Don’t get bored doing the right thing. So many of us wanna chase shiny object syndromes. We wanna go, you know, figure out things. Well, maybe it’ll work if I did it this way, someone else did it. This, no, what you’re doing works. The signs of achievement, like that math will net out and you’ll be successful.

And then the P for me is like the pursuit of the championship transformation. Like I’m always chasing the best version of myself. And we talked about it before, like what drives you, What motivates you? What motivates me is I read this book and it talked. The definition of hell is mean, the person that you could have been.

And what motivates me is like when I meet that person, right, whenever I die, hopefully it’s not hell, but I wanna be twins. I wanna resemble the person that I’m looking at because I put in the work and I put myself in position to be the best that I could be. And so many people, unfortunately, when it’s their time, the person that they look like they’re complete strangers, they look nothing alike because they didn’t maximize their time where they were here.

Mm-hmm. for me, what drives me just maximizing my time. Yeah. Like I, I’ve seen people take their last breath and I thought to myself like, Man, I bet you they would love it. They had just a little bit more time and now that we have more time, who am I to taken for granted? So when I’m out, I’m just like, even in my bad days, I’m like, Yo, you still a lot better than people who you know, six feet deep.

Yeah. , you still got a lot to be thankful before. To be thankful. Before, I always just try to tell myself those stories. Like, You alive, you got a chance. Like stop crying.

Joe Mills: One of the things that, this is very much a thing that I’m just curious. At some point in your career playing for the cold, you’re like, I’m on the tail end of my career.

Mm-hmm. , and in my head, this is sort of the framework and I wanna know if this is real or not. You get towards this point where you’re like, I need to start thinking about what I do after football, Right. And what the next season of my life’s going to be. But one of the things that sports gives us is like a daily purpose.

Wake up and you’re like, I’m gonna get better. Mm-hmm. at my sport today, I’m better at my craft. And then you get told by outside perspective, did it work or not? You go play a game, did you win? Did you lose? You get this feedback loop so fast. Yeah. Yeah. So as you started to prepare for life after the nfl, did you just use the, I wanna be the best version of me and that’s gonna take me wherever I want to?

Or did you have like a very articulated vision for what the next season was going to look?

Gary Brackett: Mm, interesting, right, Because life was good. When I was playing the nfl, I played a kids game, made a king’s ransom, set up with a house. You know, at the time I was married and I can remember one day the mother of my children was in residency, so she’s working 60 hour weeks.

My daughter is probably about four or five. I’m golfing, I’m hard. Um, hungover cuz the golf. The next day I’m going back out there, I got elbow tendonitis and my daughter looks at me, you know, she sees her mom just exhausted and she see her dad about to go out and go golfing. And she looks at me and she says, Dad, what do you wanna be when you grow up?

And I was like, What? Right. I’m grown like I’m 33 years old, right? Got a bunch of money, right? That had to live my life, been on national tv, but like what, what I wanna be when I grow up. But again, it’s like one of those things where I had to catch myself like, What are you doing? Your daughter thinks you’re a loser cuz you are.

Like, you’re not doing anything that shows her like how to be a productive citizen. . So that’s when I kind of reframed and was like, You know what, man? This can’t be it. This can’t be it. So that’s when I kind of tagged back into the game of life and I went back to school and I got my MBA at George Washington University.

And I think for a lot of us, we have these two boxes of life. And for the longest time, my two little choice was the hammer. And the challenge when you only have a hammer is every situation looks like a. But when you’re not a professional athlete, football player, hitting people, having a hammer, right?

Treat everyone like a nail is not cool. You get sued, right? You can’t do that. So for me it’s just like, alright, so when I went back to school, I feel like I recalibrated some of my tools and then I started to figure out like how some of these other things work. And then like developing different skills, how to communicate more effectively, how to communicate outside of a locker room, how to negotiate, how to motivate, how to inspire, how to lead.

And I think all those things really, you know, lead me to where I am today. It’s funny because. I’m just like live life with don’t regrets. Like if you play your hardest, I could live with that. I could live with the results. With the outcome, right? So even B YM today, no longer married, going through a divorce, obviously had to take a big hit.

Financial loss. With my restaurants, with Covid, I still like, yo, I don’t regret it because I’m playing my heart out. And then just like I would rather be this guy and have learned these lessons, and have these skills than be the guy that’s two 70 with a bunch of money golfing every day with no life or no purpose.


Joe Mills: unpack that a little bit. There’s an incredible amount of emotional maturity that goes into beyond to have that perspective, I think. I think there’s a lot of people who are like, No, I’ll take the two 70 playing golf every day. Yeah, yeah. Nah, no doubt. How’d you

Gary Brackett: get there? I think one of the things, right, being an A type, I’ve always in my mind felt like what’s better than success?

More success. So I never really stopped and clap for any of my accomplishments. Yeah. I’ve always just chased the next thing. I’m Hear you. Yeah. And so often in business we could do that. Right? Alright, one promotion, what’s the next promotion? We,

Joe Mills: that sales goal, what’s the next sales goal? What’s next year?

15% growth. Not, it’s gotta be 30. It never ends.

Gary Brackett: Never ends. And then for me personally, I attach my happiness with hitting those goals. Mm-hmm. . So now what happens if you don’t hit those goals, You’re not happy. So then I was prolonging my happiness until my mind I hit this artificial level of success. So if this is like a X access, Y access, right?

If success is way over here, when I get this level of success, then I’d be this level happy. And one day I woke up and I said, You know what? I could choose to be this level happy no matter where I’m at on a success. And it’s all about how I view life and going from having these expectations of what life owes me to being grateful for what life has given me.

And I think that’s when it, where it clicked for me, it just like, Yo, I don’t have to do these things. I get to do these things. I think for me, like my human needs, the biggest ones for me is like growth and contribution. So I no longer have like goals. I mean, I have metrics that we hit, right? So I worry about my goals, but I’m more focused on growth.

So I no longer think how long is this gonna take me? I now think, how far can I go with it? And it’s just a different mindset. Yeah.

Joe Mills: What was the period of life where you started to have that realization around like, I can choose to be happy.

Gary Brackett: Yeah, I mean, it went through 2020, so it was going through the pandemic and everything’s unraveling.

Right. Well, and you

Joe Mills: owned a re. Group 10 restaurants, which is the worst possible distance you could be in. In Covid. Yeah. Seven

Gary Brackett: franchisees. Yeah. All open to 2020. So it just, I had assets that were tied up that I couldn’t get to, so it was like you’re brick rich and cash poor. So it was just unfortunate, man.

But I think the one that season. I really just realized some like critical things about myself, and it’s like, people talk about this, I’m 42, so they talk about this midlife crisis that people go through. Right. You heard about the midlife crisis, and I heard it explain like it’s not a crisis. I think what it is is that over time when life happens and when we survive, these battles that we’ve all faced, that we put on this armor, and this armor was meant to protect us, but at some point in our lives, The armor starts weighing us down, and we’re never gonna be able to experience joy, love, fulfillment, happiness with all this armor that’s on us.

So it’s not until we get vulnerable and release something, this armor that we’re going to experience the range of emotions from joy, happiness, to sadness. So for me, just like knowing what centers. And what brings me joy, I’m cool with the ups and downs of life because like I can better appreciate the ups because of the downs, and it gives me so much better perspective that I let myself have this emotional range now where I’m not protecting myself.

Ooh, what are gonna say about me? Ooh, where are they gonna think? Mm-hmm . Ooh, I post this. If I show up in this car, if I don’t have this outfit on, Right. I don’t care anymore. It’s like so freeing. Cuz most people with biggest fear is what they are gonna say. Like, who are they? Yeah. And why they get such a big part of your life.

So I just released myself for caring what they think and it just been like a awesome power where I’m giving myself my power. Of that perception of others. And I think that has been like the biggest change of me. Just like not really caring what they think and doing what makes me happy. And for me now, I no longer measure success by my bank account.

I measure it by my calendar, my schedule. Interesting.

Joe Mills: What about your calendar and your schedule? Like how do you know it’s successful? That

Gary Brackett: I have time to do things that make me happy, that I have time to coach my kids in sports, right? Cause I’m never gonna get this time back that I have time to take off a week.

That I have time to work on a beach and not be forced to have to go somewhere and clock in and do these things. So that’s why I just like, you know, the money’s gonna come. It always does. But the happiness to joy, to fulfillment. I’m no longer waiting. I saw a picture online and it was like this couple, there was on like a gondola in like Venice, right?

Right. So the person, you know, rowing the ga right. And they’re coming out of the tunnel and they’re both sleep and it’s like they can’t enjoy it now. And I think so many people are like waiting. Alright. You know when we get this then we’re gonna do that. Just wait one more thing and then we’re gonna have fun.

I promise. Fun’s coming. It’s

Joe Mills: like carrot out in front of you. Forever. Forever, Forever.

Gary Brackett: And they just like, Nah bro. Like take your carrot now.

Joe Mills: It’s okay. A lot of what you said is really spoken to me. The idea of like what they are going to think. It’s possible that even the profession that we work inside of plays into this a little bit.

Our job as marketers is to think, what will other people think about this? Yes, absolutely. All the time. But getting away from that and being authentically you is paradoxically the best way to market and the best way to live your life. Right? Yeah.

Gary Brackett: But I think it’s because you know what they’re gonna. It’s whether or not you’re gonna care about it.

Mm. Doing things, doing what they’re gonna think and not caring what they think is the power. Right. We can’t go to life naive and say, Oh, what are they gonna think? But you got a pretty good idea what they’re gonna think. Not that hard to figure out. Know what I’m saying? . I mean, there’s a lot of data points that we can

Joe Mills: look at.

If I were up playing a Bentley, they’re gonna think one thing. If I roll up in a beater, they’re gonna think another. Yeah.

Gary Brackett: Right. It’s so, it’s not rocket sign. But the question more I think of the unknown. What am I gonna think of what they think or what they say? How’s that gonna affect me? Because you’re not internally secure.

So now you’re like, All right, well, you go through the range of thoughts that they’re gonna think and what they’re gonna say, and you’re thinking like, Ah, can I withstand that? If they say this about me, all right is my e uh, I just won’t go in the beater because they expect me in a

Joe Mills: Bentley. It’s easier to not put myself out.

then to put myself out there and maybe get hurt. Is that kind of the Yeah.

Gary Brackett: Exact. It’s not rocket science. Alright. How do I grow my business? Go online. Be consistent, right? Be vulnerable. Speak to your ideal client, your customer, your avatar. Tell ’em about the outcomes that you provide, how you provide, how you’re different, how you’re consistent.

Okay? But. Or if my friends and no one else buys from me, they won’t buy from you. Especially what you thinking. They won’t buy from you. They won’t buy from me until you sell a whole bunch of other people. And it’s this thing as like experts are always come out of town, so profits in their city. Yeah. If you’re a whole business model is friends and family, then that’s a very flawed business

Joe Mills: model.

How do you find the bravery to continue choosing growth when maybe the people around you are just shift. It’s not that they’re wrong, like you said, you’re judging ’em for living the way they live, but they might be a little bit judging you for changing the way you are living. Yeah. How do you handle that?

Gary Brackett: I never cash a check on other people’s opinions. I had some low times the last two years and like the people in their opinions, they weren’t there. And it was me that had to pick me up and I had other people who supported him, was there emotionally and all that type of stuff. But you just realize like it’s like high school.

Like in high school you’re hanging around these friends, you think their opinions really matter. But it just, How many people from high school do you still talk to today? It was like basically none. So it doesn’t really matter. So now you’re spending so much time thinking about these people and making your decisions on what they will say.

And at the end of the day, 10 years, five years removed from high school, you don’t even see these people. They have zero amount of ability to affect change in your life. And when I realized that just like, yo, the common denominator is always. And I can only control what I could control. And I’m tired of thinking that what I do and caring about the opinions of others and controlling them, they gotta think what they think.

Like a lot of time the life things happen and people want explanation. Like, I don’t owe your explanation. Like think whatever you wanna think, bro. Like I’m good. There’s

Joe Mills: a level of freedom in the, and I’ll say like self confidence, but it’s more like, it’s almost like self comfort. Yeah. That like. Elevated yourself too.

That’s really admirable. From where I sit, like that’s hard. And I think it’s even harder when the early part of your life was you run out in front of 65,000 people on Sunday and then Monday through Saturday everybody is breaking down what you did on that game all week long, and then you’re gonna do it again and you lose a couple games.

People are like, He’s the worst. They’re the worst. They’re terrible. Especially in the nfl. So like what do you get from Lately? Yeah. To be able to elevate to the point where you’re like, that noise doesn’t matter.

Gary Brackett: When you playing for the roar of the crowd, you’re also gonna be affected by the bulls. And what I realized is like in order to lead the orchestra, I had to turn my back away from the crowd.

I couldn’t let the cheers, all the bulls affect me, right? I had to fall in love with the process, whatever that looks like for me, and divorce myself from the results. So it’s easy to do work and say that’s promise to you. You do this work, right? But just like if you’re doing this because I’m passionate about, I’m fulfilled about that, like that’s my process.

Am I gonna be successful? Probably. So changes are high, but if it’s not guaranteed, am I gonna stop doing the hard work? Am I gonna stop getting up earlier? Am I gonna stop eating clean? Am I gonna stop reading? Am I gonna stop writing books? The answer is no. Like I’ve written three books now and they’ve done fairly well.

I get, you know, my books are more lead magnet type stuff where it gets me speaking engagement, it gets me the ability to write courses and other type of things. Sort of the pillar over marketing program. Yeah, exactly. So, um, however, like. I know these aren’t my best books. Like I know I’m gonna have a New York bestseller in me.

It’s only a matter of time, but not because I have it in me now and I’m gonna write it. I have an Emmy. I haven’t just developed the skills to be that good. And I think that’s where the rewards are in doing the work. The be part of the journey is in doing the work. And I think that’s where I am right now.

And doing the work like. Because I’m gonna write 10, 15 books, right? I’m gonna naturally become a bestseller. Not waiting to say like, Oh, I’m writing my nav. I’m not gonna release it to 10, 15 years to be bestseller. The chances there are slim like law of averages, if I write 15, 20 books, like something’s gonna hit.

It got to. Yeah, so that’s kind of like where I’m at right now. Just like fall in love with the process, doing the work, doing what makes me happy, and I think it just been, for me, just rewarding personally, just to be able to control, you know, my life and my outcome, and at the same time being good and having no regrets.

And being able to go to sleep at night knowing that, hey, I did everything I wanted to do. I’m still chasing my dreams. I still wanna accomplish my goals. I still wanna chase growth, but I get to define

Joe Mills: that. Mm-hmm. , what you strike me as throughout this whole conversation is like an unbridled enthusiasm to discover.

Who’s the best, Gary? Yeah. And like you just lit up when you were like, I know it’s in me to go find it. I just gotta keep working at it until it’s uncovered. Yeah. And it really mirrors to me the way that you were like, No, there’s a starter in me. Yeah. There’s a scholarship player in me, there’s an NFL player in me, there’s a Super Bowl in me.

And like that continual, almost chipping away the idea of, you know, Michael Angela chipped away until he saw David. That same idea, I feel like is coming through and the lessons that you’re teaching now is like, I’m just gonna keep Whitling away at the Gary. To find the next Gary. And then we’re gonna get there.

And then it’s the next, Gary. And my whole goal is at the end, whenever I take my last breath, I meet the Gary that I could have been, that were twins. Yeah. It’s like

Gary Brackett: that’s the, That’s it. That’s it’s, And we talked about all that protection that we put in ourselves, all that armor that we build up, all those self limitate beliefs, all those lies that we taught ourself, all those fears.

As I’m doing it, I’m removing. And there’s a flower underneath that now gets some sunlight that now begins to grow. And as I remove another piece, something else gets to grow. And you start lighting up inside because you’re removing things that had dirt on it that are now getting watered and fed and now begins to grow inside of you.

And now you’re seeing like what you’re capable of. And I’m so excited about the next journey, the next experience, because like, yo, what is that gonna uncover?

Joe Mills: Well, Gary, this was awesome, man. Thank you so much for coming out and sharing your wisdom with us. Nice. Having me.

Reid Morris: So a really interesting conversation with a really interesting guest today.

Joe Mills: Yeah. Gary was an interesting amalgamation of a few people that we heard.

Reid Morris: Is there anything specific from that conversation that you feel like is just super actionable that you’ll take away and implement into your world?

Joe Mills: I mean, the internal, I’m not even gonna use the word confidence, like I’m gonna use the word comfort.

I used it in. Conversation with him where I was like, I don’t know that self-confidence is the right word in the way that it’s articulated culturally. Cause that sounds like I just believe in myself. But it’s not bad. It’s, it’s,

Reid Morris: his self confidence can be confused with cocky in some of

Joe Mills: Right. Versus, I’m calling it self comfort because he, he’s just comfortable with him.

And because he’s so comfortable with him, he doesn’t need somebody else to validate what he’s doing. He’s just focused on living into what he wants to be. And like when he looks in the mirror, is he happy with who he is? As a, as a person, not as did I hit my metrics, did my business do what I wanted it to do, my bank account growing the way that I wanted it to?

Can I buy the thing I want? It’s almost like he’s like elevated beyond the desire of the thing and. Really tapped into this, Am I living into the vision of myself that I have? And for him it’s, am I living the maximum amount of potential I can live in my life? And I think that idea of like self comfort, like I’m calling it or just lack of care about what people are gonna say outside of you is, I’m not sure if it’s actionable.

In like a, I know who are the steps you’re gonna take, but it’s like a,

Reid Morris: It’s a mindset shift.

Joe Mills: It’s a mindset shift that mm-hmm. , It was a great reminder to me around like, and an example of what can be when you’re able to make that leap. Yeah.

Reid Morris: And for people who are earlier along in this journey too, if we think about, you know, Gary spoke to.

Well, he had all of the things right? He had those more materialistic phases where that other side of the equation was more important. Mm-hmm. , and then came to the realization of the, Well, that’s not really what matters. And I think that’s a lesson that people that aren’t quite there yet can still think about people who are earlier on, who are hungry, who are maybe still chasing some of those things that once they get there, they might realize that those actually aren’t the most important.

Why not just sort of shift that mindset now and start thinking about, well, what should I really be striving towards? To make some of that progress. Having learned from people who have been at the peaks and at the valleys of what that journey looks like.

Joe Mills: And I think it’s interesting. There are gonna be some people who simply can’t, and I think that’s okay as well.

Like you almost have to go experience all the positive sides or the nice cars, the big houses, the nice clothes, the. Luxury travel and experience it and to see that you don’t have to have it to be happy. And it’s not that any of that stuff is bad. Like he even said like, Look, the sweetss are great. This was great.

One of the things that he mentioned, I didn’t pull on the thread as much as, in hindsight, I kind of wish I would have, but he talked about just experiencing everything. The fancy dinner’s not better than the hot dog and chips is our conversation Still is good. Did we have the connection that we’re looking for?

Being in general, admin at a football game in the crowd is not any worse than being in a suite. They’re just different. And experiencing all of it’s the idea. So like and

Reid Morris: extrapolate that out to whatever your scale is. Right? Right. Because for most people the dichotomy is not sweet and. Stands, right? Like there’s this whole different scale that, but that perspective still plays out well,

Joe Mills: and I would also say that he would challenge, like if Gary were sitting here and you said that he’d be like, you’re saying that that’s your scale, because you’re limiting yourself to that scale.

If you don’t want that to be your scale, don’t make it your scale. If I were to summarize the lessons from him, it would be confidence comes from preparation and effort and doing the work, Being in the work, being in the. The second one would be ups and downs are gonna happen and you need to be like steady through it.

And the third one would be, are you good with you? That’s really all that matters. Those are like the three takeaways and like we can go in any of those directions now. So Gary mentioned somebody to me that he’s gonna connect us with for another conversation, but I think we can also even think inside of our own world and people that we know.

On those three buckets, should we go and just like pull in deeper?

Reid Morris: That sounds great.

Joe Mills: 1000 Stories is brought to you by Element three with production by Share Genius. This show is part of our company mission to foster growth in people in business so they can change the world. If you’re finding the show helpful or inspiring, please help us by leaving a review on Apple or Spotify.

If you’d like to stay in the loop for more updates from our show and to hear other stories of growth, please head to elementthree.com/podcast.

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