Thor Conklin | Profitability Killers to Watch For

After 20 years as an entrepreneur, Thor Conklin has seen a lot. In his work with clients, this profitability consultant not only shares what you should be doing… but just as important, if not more so, is what you shouldn’t be doing. 

A lot of what he teaches is based on mistakes he’s made and gleaned invaluable experience from. He’s on a mission to help companies avoid being one of the 96% that fail within 10 years. 

Thor says there is only one reason it happens, and he has a blueprint for avoiding that fate. He says there is a system that will help any business, in any industry, grow sustainably and stay profitable in the long term. All you need are two things, says Thor.

He shares his two-part secret, as well as…

  • Why profits aren’t the best measure of true success
  • Setting up a “scoreboard” for your business (and metrics it should include)
  • Ways to create accountability on your team to drive continuous improvement
  • Tough leadership lessons you must learn
  • How you can change your identity to excel at practically any role

Listen now…

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Steve Gordon: Welcome to the Unstoppable CEO Podcast. I’m your host, Steve Gordon. And I gotta tell you, I’m really excited about today’s interview. We’ve got a fantastic guest. He’s going to share a ton of wisdom with us. And I know you’re going to get a lot out of it. So unless you’re driving, be prepared to take notes.

Our guest today is Thor Conklin. He’s an entrepreneur, a profitability consultant and host of Peak Performers Podcast. And this year marks his 19th year I think, going on his 20th year as an entrepreneur. And through his consulting firm, Peak Performance Group, he trains business leaders all over the world to be peak performers. And I love this mission that he’s on. He’s really on a mission to get business owners to do the things that they need to do to be profitable, as I’m sure he’ll share.

Most businesses fail within the first 10 years, 96% I think. And those that do survive barely make enough money to pay the owner and pay the shareholders and Thor is on a mission to change that. So that’s why you want to take notes today. Thor Conklin, welcome to the Unstoppable CEO. I’m excited to have you here.

Thor Conklin: I’m excited to be here. Thanks for having me on.

Steve: Yeah, it’s gonna be a lot of fun. Before we dive into everything, give everybody a little bit of context. How’d you get to this stage of your career?

How Thor Ended Up With Peak Performance

Thor: You know, it’s interesting because what I do now is the result of something completely opposite. And it was actually a failure. It was about five years ago, I was going through a divorce, 50 pounds overweight and I had purchased a company, it was my seventh company, sixth or seventh company. And it was a roller coaster. I’d make money, I’d lose money. And I bought it, literally I closed on August in 2008. And we all know what happened and basically, the financial market fell apart in September.

Great timing. It was the only company that bought. All the ones I started had successful exits. And then it just got to the point where I just couldn’t figure out how to make a profit. And right before I spent a million dollars in cash, it was like 985, I was like, I’m gonna pull the plug before this thing goes to a million. I don’t want to be the guy that lost 1,000,000. 985 just sounds like a better number. So then it was a question of, Okay, what am I going to do? Where am I going to go? So I’m like, All right, let’s see, I know, I’ll become a profitability consultant.

I’ll teach people how to make a profit. And so all I gotta do is tell them all the stuff I did wrong and then just tell them not to do it. And that’s literally and I don’t joke about that, you know, that was literally the conversation. But deep down what it was really rooted in is I’m a member of the Entrepreneurs Organization. It’s a great organization worldwide of entrepreneurs that run million dollar plus businesses. And I saw in that group and around the business community that so many entrepreneurs on the surface, everything looked great but right below the surface, man they were just enslaved to their companies.

And I was too. And, you know, working seven days a week. The only reason we weren’t working eight is that there wasn’t an eighth day. And I just got to the point where I said, you know, there’s got to be a better way and I just put myself on a journey to figure out one, what I had personally missed because I want it to solve this for myself, I did not want to go into that pain again. And through that process, I discovered some things was it was fascinating to find the things that were right in front of my eyes, but I couldn’t see it because I didn’t have an advisor. a coach, a mentor around me.

Steve: Yeah, you know, it’s funny, I think that is such a common experience. I mean, not the particulars necessarily, but the fact that as we get into a business and we go through it, like we make nothing but mistakes. I mean, yeah, we have some successes along the way, but sometimes it feels like it’s mistake after mistake after mistake and you’re really like learning this all the hard way. It’d be nice if somebody could just download all of the right wisdom to us, right? And we do all the right things, you know, from the get-go.

Thor: Yeah and that’s really why I set up what I do now. That’s why coach and I mentor entrepreneurs because I didn’t have a framework. I was just I was kind of winging it. And look, business number one that I started 20 years ago, you know, I was blessed to have a private equity firm approach me.

Asked me to set up my own company. I was instantly in business with more business than I knew what to do with. Exited that successfully and the next five successfully. So, and I made a ton of mistakes, but they all kind of at the end worked out. And I just didn’t expect the mistakes to happen, you know, in year 15. It was like this is not the way it was supposed to work. And I never wanted to see that happen to myself, obviously, again, or to anybody else.

Steve: Well, as you’re facing those things, of course, that, you know, that particular economy was really difficult for a lot of people. But as you face that, you know, having the courage to kind of keep going and start the next thing, I think that’s a big deal. What was it that made you want to persist through all of that?

Thor: I think part of it was I wanted to prove to my ex-wife that I could actually do it. And that’s probably what it ended up, you know, extending the loss, right? Because I wanted to kind of save face, and quite frankly, save face within the business community as well. So I stuck around longer than I should have. But really, it was just from a survival standpoint. You know, it’s like I was going to be, I am, I would have been the world’s worst employee. So it was like going back to get a job. Although I could have very easily gone back and gotten a tremendous job in the industry I was in before I started entrepreneurship.

It just, I just wasn’t cut out for that. I had to run my own deal and every listener out there that has their own business knows what that blessing or that curse is. It just, it’s going to happen. One of the things that really drives me today is I really want to be a shining example of what’s possible. Every year I set out and I do a physical challenge. I was 50 pounds overweight five years ago. Two weeks ago, I just got off stage in Miami at a professional bodybuilding show.

And it was about getting in great shape for myself, but it was also for all the people out there that say, you know, at 56 you’re past your prime. BS. It can’t be done. You’re too old to develop muscle. And I did no steroids, no nothing. One hour in the gym a day and I documented the whole process with photos and everything. And I want to show this is what’s possible. And the same thing in business. If you’re struggling, it’s not working wherever you are, there’s a way out. It’s just a question of you need the guidance and use system to follow.

Steve: Yeah, I think that’s so interesting because I see the, you know, I always ask guests when they come on, what’s the thing that kind of helped you keep going when things were tough? And the thing that I hear again and again and again, is I had to have the right mentor, I had to have the right advisor. And they gave me this, you know, this system or this way of looking at it. And it’s funny, I’ve heard that enough times now. It’s like, you know, it’s almost like at some point I’m going to write like the Unstoppable CEO book, right? With all the advice from all these people.

Thor: That’s what I’m doing.

Steve: Yeah, well, and that’s got to be kind of at the top right there. So you’ll be chapter one.

Thor: Yeah. Well, thank you. That’s exactly what I did. I have 650 episodes on my podcast. I took the 600. I had in my bucket list I wanted to write a book. I realized I didn’t want to write a book. I wanted to have a book. So I said alright, look, how can I have a book when I have to write a book?

I’m like, Wait a second, I’ve had all these brilliant guests on the show, on Peak Performance anywhere from relationship, sex, business, marketing, you name it. Athletics. They’re, and all the secrets, all the tips, they’re all the same. Doesn’t matter what field you’re playing on. They all apply to all of them. So I just took the first 600 episodes, shipped it off to a ghostwriter and I said, there are some golden nuggets here. Go find them, put them in a book and give me credit for it.

Steve: That’s awesome. That’s awesome. Well, hey, on that note, I want to take a break. I want to come back because I really want to focus the rest of our time on the work that you’re doing, creating Peak Performance in the businesses that you work with and getting them to profitability because I think that’s a really important topic. So we’re going to take a break. We’ll be back with more from Thor Conklin.

Commercial Break: Hi, this is Steve. I hope you’re enjoying this interview. We’ve got more to come in a minute, but what I’d love for you to do right now is rate this podcast. Leave us a review. Rate us on iTunes. It’ll really help others discover the podcast and help us help other CEOs, other business leaders become unstoppable. So if you go to, you can find instructions there and links that will take you right to where you need to go to review the podcast. Thanks so much. Now back to the interview.

Steve: Welcome back, everybody. I’m here with Thor Conklin. And Thor, we left off promising everybody, and I want to keep our promise, that we’re going to talk about how you take your clients to Peak Performance. And I know that one of the things you focus on is profitability. So as you’re working with a business, what are some of the things you begin to look at to kind of analyze whether or not they are where they should be in terms of profitability and performance?

Becoming a True Business Owner

Thor: Yeah, great question. And I want to make a point here because profitability, increased profitability turning to a profitable business is not going to be the end result. It’s a gateway to something else. What my true mission is, is not to make you more profitable. My true mission is to figure out how to make you a business owner and not owe to the business. I was working with my team a couple years ago, so I said, I really want to end entrepreneurial slavery. And they’re like, No, no, no, you can’t use the slavery word. I’m like, why not? I said every entrepreneur feels that way at some point in their journey.

So apparently, you know, it wasn’t politically correct or something. But at the end of the day, that’s really what I’m after. And in order to make the owner the true owner in the business, you’ve got to have a great team built around you. You build a great team around you it takes money. You’ve got to start with getting a highly profitable business. So that’s where it’s, I just want to let the audience know that, look, if you make a ton of money, I’ve got clients that earn close to 50 million dollars a year in personal income.

That doesn’t create happiness. It’s a well rounded, there’s a lot that goes into it. So let me answer your question specifically. So when we sit down and work with a client or anybody, I’m coaching my kids, it starts with, where do you want to go? What’s that compelling future? What’s that vision, the thing that really draws you and just gives you goosebumps every time you think about it? And then, and only then, and I want to be clear, I do business coaching. I’m not a life coach. Although, you know, a lot of life stuff comes in, I’ve got a deep background in that is, this is where you want to bring your life.

Now the question is, what sort of business do you need in order to fit into that vision? Because what ends up happening is when I bought the manufacturing company I realized about two years into it, now this is going to sound stupid, but two years into it, I’m like, I think I might want to move to California. I’m like, Wait a second. I’ve got 30,000 square foot a manufacturing facility here in Georgia. I didn’t think this through very well, right? It was like I bought the business and then figured out how to make my life around the business. So first up where do you want to go?

How do you fit that business into your life? And then we look at four other pillars, and that is mental health, physical health and relationships. And relationships, not only husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, with kids, with family, with employees, with vendors, with your Creator. If you don’t have those other three pillars addressed, nurturing, growing, as you grow your business, all you’re doing is building up one silo that eventually will tip over if you don’t have a strong foundation. So it starts with that compelling future, what goals we need to get there, and make sure we’ve got a wide base that we’re continuing to nurture and grow.

Specifically in the profitability side is, you know, there’s two ways to create profit, increase the sales or decrease the expenses. And we really take it a step further because especially in manufacturing It’s easy to create a profit. It’s more difficult to create cash. At the end of the day, you can’t sell your profit or pay bills where your profit, the only way you can pay bills with is your cash. So we make sure that they’re taking that cash out of the business and that they’re growing their net worth as well.

Steve: Well, I think that’s, you know, it’s something so many business owners fail to do, you know? They’re making money on paper on, you know, the income statement looks okay, maybe, but they’re not pulling the money out of the business. They’re not enjoying any of the profit. And more importantly, they’re not sort of putting it aside to make sure that if things go sideways, that they’ve got it there if they need it.

Thor: Yeah, yep, one year ahead and half a million dollar profit, but I had no cash. So I’m sitting there with my accountant I’m like, Wait a second. I made a half a million dollars in profit. He goes, yes. And you owe taxes now on that. I’m like, I don’t have any cash. He goes, how much inventory do you have? I said I don’t know about 2.1 million. He goes There’s your cash. So I’m like, Wait a second, let me get this straight. I’ve got inventory that I haven’t sold. It’s sitting in the warehouse. I made half a million dollars. Now the government wants tax on the half a million. I don’t have the cash. He goes, yes. Welcome. I’m like What did I miss?

Steve: Yeah, that’s a tough conversation to be on the receiving end of I would imagine. You know, when I first got started running a businesses in the late 90s, and I got involved at a CEO peer group run by Vistage.

And as a part of that, I got a CD with an audio from a guy and the point of it was that, you know, you’ve got to focus on what’s really cash and the kind of quote from that was cash, any cash unless it’s cash. And it went through all the things that aren’t cash, like your receivables, your inventory, your line of credit, because anybody that was around in 2009 realizes that line of credits can be pulled from you. You know, and so

Thor: Loans can be recalled.

Steve: Yeah, all of that. And that stuck with me to the point that from that point on, and this is, I mean, back before email was real prevalent, I would have our bank balances faxed to me. So wherever I was, you know, if I was traveling, speaking, you know, doing sales or whatever I have the bank balances faxed to me at the end of every day.

So I always knew daily how much cash we had. And I still haven’t stopped that practice to this day and it’s just ingrained in me. So yeah, I think the fundamental thing to pay attention to but a lot of people get caught up not paying attention to it.

Thor: Absolutely. There’s a great book out there called Profit First. The concept is very simple, not sales minus expenses equal profit. Soon as the dollar comes in, you carve out how much you decide your profit is. 10%, 12%, whatever it is, goes into a separate account, does not get touched, and then you run the business with what’s left. Not the other way around. It’s a great model.

Steve: Absolutely. Absolutely. So a key piece of creating profit and creating cash and cash flow is being able to execute on a plan. I know you spend a lot of time on execution and creating high performance in organizations. Where are the gaps typically? So when you are looking at a business that maybe is having a problem with profitability, or operationally. Where do you tend to see the gaps in execution and performance?

Execution is King

Thor: Yeah, you know, it’s funny, we actually put together a, I realized that execution was king. And I set out on a journey, oh, seven years ago. And I’m like, all right, what’s all the things that can get in the way of execution? I thought I’d have kind of like a shortlist. Well we came up with 85 different distinct things. I actually have, one day it may be a book on my website. We have the seven top execution killers as a free, you know, giveaway. So you can check that out at You know, it varies by business.

But generally what it comes down to, if I throw a big blanket over the entire thing is they’re not holding your team accountable. Or they’ve got the wrong people not only in the wrong seats, they’re on the wrong bus. It just, the team is not executing. It’s as entrepreneurs, I think we get to the point as CEOs, we get to think that the rest of the team is thinking like us, and they’re not. You know, think about a world-class football team. You know, they have a coach. They have many coaches, right? You got the head coach and they’ve got the individual coaches. At the end of the game, they’re doing a debrief of what just happened.

Alright, you know, or the next day when they’re watching films. Everybody is held accountable. They’re looking at every single nuance. They’re tweaking it. They’re working on it. And then when they go back out of the field the next week, they’re trying to execute on the areas that they didn’t execute well on. First thing I do when I walk into a business, I said, Where’s the scoreboard? They’re like, what do you mean where’s the scoreboard? Where are the metrics? What are we tracking? Oh, well, you know, we have that in a spreadsheet somewhere in Google Docs.

Great, so nobody sees it. So the next time you go to a football game, tell them to hide the scoreboard. You don’t know what time it is. You don’t have what played is. You don’t look, you know, how far down the field we are. You got to have a scoreboard. And that scoreboard needs to be reviewed daily. And the whole team needs to be held accountable. And if the team can’t execute, you got to train them. You got to work with them. And if you still can’t get them to where they need to be, you got a decision. And the only decision is, is you need to move them to a different team.

Steve: Yeah. Well, I mean, it’s so simple. Like

Thor: It is, it is. But you know, I hate letting people go. I don’t know about you. I, that was one thing great about having, being married. My wife loved firing people. It’s like, oh, you’re taking my money. I’m, I don’t. I hate doing it. I feel like I let them down, I let their families down. But at the end of the day, you’ve got to make some, the only, my most successful clients have amazing teams.

They’re all held accountable. And these are, you’ve got members on this team that are making a million dollars a year in salary. They’re still being held accountable. They’re not like alright you one of the top performers. You’re an executive. You’ll fit, you’ll do good. No. Everybody’s accountable.

Steve: Yeah, I think that’s fundamental to creating any kind of forward progress. And, you know, I think so many people look at accountability as a negative thing. I don’t think it necessarily has to be a negative thing but I think it’s more about knowing what the score is and then committing to actions to add some more points to the score.

Thor: Yep, yep. Someone recently told me, he said, I don’t look at things as confrontation, I look at them as carefrontation. I’m like carefrontation? He goes, yes, I care enough about that individual. I care enough about the team. I care enough about our mission, that when something isn’t in alignment, I need to address it. I need to address it early and often with love and care and support. But I need to address it. Not saying what needs to be said, that is a disservice. That is being selfish, and I’m not being the leader I need to be.

Steve: Yeah, and it’s hard to do. I couldn’t agree more, though. I mean, I think that’s, particularly as business owners and as leaders, that’s what we’re asked to do. We’re asked to be the ones that lean into those kind of conversations. I mean, you talked about not liking firing anybody. I can remember the first person I ever fired in my first business. I was shaking in that meeting, letting them go. I didn’t want to do it, but it had to be done. And I wasn’t very good at it. Probably didn’t, you know, didn’t do it in the best possible way.

But I learned from there, and I ultimately got to the point where I understood that me keeping that person on the team was actually doing a disservice for them because I had already decided that they had no future here. So, you know, I had basically put them in a box. They were never going to get a raise, they were never gonna get any new opportunity and I was still going to hold on to them. Like, how selfish could that possibly be? Better off having the conversation, being honest, letting them go.

Continue to be Lousy or Step Up

Thor: I remember getting my butt handed to me by a mentor of mine, probably 10 years ago. They said, story goes, think about your team for a moment. At the time I had, I don’t know, about 30 people. He said, Would you be relieved or happy if one of those individuals I want you to think about each one, if they quit on Monday, and like he has said, I got the guy.

And he looked at me and he said, You’re a lousy leader. It was like, just a knife to the heart. He’s like, I can’t believe that you would keep that person around. And you wouldn’t address this. It’s hurting you. It’s hurting them. It’s hurting your organization. You’re a lousy leader. You’ve got two choices. Continue to be lousy or step up. It’s hard to hear.

Steve: I was gonna say hard thing to hear I’m sure.

Thor: Yep. But that’s his style. Big old Texan guy. And he was right.

Steve: Yeah. I mean, it’s absolutely right. And, you know, kind of bringing this back around to performance, you know, there are times when you have people on your team that you can’t rehabilitate, or you can’t, they won’t perform for whatever reason. Maybe they’re not suited to that role and they need to be someplace else. Either a different team within your organization or on someone else’s team altogether. And that’s okay. So, you know, I think that’s such a challenging thing for business owners to kind of come to grips with.

Thor: Yeah. Here’s the three things that I tell all my clients when we’re talking about an employment issue. The first one, do they want to? Do they want to step up? Does the employee really want to? It’s got to start with them. Second is, can they? Do they have the skill set to do that? And the third one doesn’t sound very nice. Are they intelligent enough to make that leap? And sometimes it’s like they want to, and they just can’t get there. They just don’t have the firepower to do it for the jobs that they need them to do.

And I said it’s sad. I mean, and how do you go to somebody and say, Look, I know you really want this, I can give you the training. You just, you know, your EQ your IQ, it ain’t there. I mean, how do you tell somebody that? But it’s a real easy test. And one thing I always ask is, have you done everything? Look at the leader, I said, and you’ve done everything in your power to give this person every opportunity? Are you crystal clear what you want? Are you holding them accountable? Are you giving them a trainer?

Are you giving them a mentor? Because if you’re not, in which many cases they’re not, and that’s what happened in my case. I realized that the employee that I was going to be happy to leave, he didn’t really know what he was supposed to be doing. I had already emotionally cut him off. And I said That’s not fair. So I dived in for three months, for 90 days. I gave him everything. At the end of the day. He just was looking for a place where he could show up to collect a paycheck and hang out. And that’s okay. Just wasn’t okay at my company.

Steve: Yeah, absolutely. Well, do you find that sometimes the first place that a business owner needs to start is just in creating a lot more clarity in their own mind about what each person in each role should be doing? Is there a gap there?

Thor: Nope. Because it’s 100%. I’ve yet to meet a CEO and entrepreneur that has complete clarity on what everyone should be doing and has told the employee that information in writing. Hundred percent failure rate.

Steve: That’s a pretty scary statistic. I guess we’re all guilty. And

Thor: Yeah. I mean, you’ve seen it. You’ve been around. You tell me.

Steve: Oh yeah. I’ll be honest with you, I do better at it now than I did. But even now, even today, you know, I’ve been doing this for 25 years, two different businesses, and I have to catch myself, you know, because I will have sorted out all the details in my own mind, you know? And I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Colby index, but I’m an eight quickstart. So by the time the thought is formed in my head, I imagine it’s already done somewhere, you know?

Thor: That’s right. And the team automatically knows what your thoughts are, and can execute them.

Steve: Absolutely. Yeah, so I have to actually go through a process to write that stuff down. And sometimes I forget to do it. And I’ve had to tell the team, look, if I come at you with a project, and I haven’t written it down, you have permission to not do it and to tell me to go back and do my homework. Because if I can’t give them that, then they can’t do what I want.

And it’s painful sometimes and frustrating to me because I’m at eight quick start, I thought of it, I want it going, but I got to empower them to do it. And so I mean, that’s a constant challenge. We’re constantly working on A, getting them comfortable pushing back and B, me remembering to go through that exercise.

Thor: Yep. I just literally, I don’t know, maybe two hours ago, I sent a video to the team and I said this weekend, I all need you to work on your 90-day plans. And once you have those 90-day plans together, I want to know where the milestones are. Where you going to be in 60 days, 90 days, sorry, 30 days.

And then by week, Monday morning, we’re going to set we’re going to go through all the plans, we’re going to tweak them. And our daily huddles are going to be based on this plan. So we stay on track because we just got a little too loose. We all know where we’re going. We all know that compelling future, but some of the, and in my mind, I’m real clear on what the milestones are, what the steps are but I realized the team’s not going to understand all of it.

Steve: Yeah. And do you take, when you’re working with a client business do you take them through that process where they have their team put those sorts of plans together?

Thor: Oh yeah. Absolutely.

Steve: What does that execution system look like?

Thor: So it starts with, for the most part, it will be a year. If we get engaged somewhere like this time of year, it’ll be 13 months, 14 months, maybe 16. But we try not to go above 18 months. And this is a great question, by the way, because this is where so many businesses get off track, is we tie it back into the compelling future. So they put together where do they want to be in 12 months? Great. 11 months, 10 months, date all the way back down and then to one. Had the team do that as well.

And then before we kind of stamp it and say okay, this is where we’re going, let’s check in. Is this moving us closer a compelling future or not? What’s happening to our mental health or physical health and our relationships? Is this plan going to enhance and grow or destroy? And then finally, I didn’t bring it down a couple more levels, but what we end up doing is after we have solid goals and nurturing system in each one of those pillars, we dropped down to the habits that are done every single day that support those.

But on the very bottom is what sort of identity do you need to assume in order to be the man or woman that can execute on this and make sure that they’re in alignment with your core values. Years ago, I had an opportunity to buy a restaurant. And looked at it had a, actually an LOI on it. And I did my due diligence and the numbers just didn’t make sense. And as I’m going through them like the numbers don’t make sense, and I’m like, let me think for a second. This business just doesn’t make sense. A big portion of the receipts were liquor receipts, and I’m like, I don’t know if I want to be in the business of serving alcohol to others.

I drink. I don’t have any problem with drinking, but I’m like, I don’t know if I want to be in the business of serving alcohol. It just didn’t fit with my core values. I’m here to enhance people’s lives. Alcohol, you could make a pretty good argument, probably is not an enhancer. But I missed it at first. I was in the LOI phase, so now it gives me pause. And I do the same thing with the organizations to your point. Is this where you want to go? Most of my clients are making enough money. Many don’t ever have to make another nickel in their life. Some don’t even spend 5% of what they make.

It’s not about the money. So when they come back to me and say, okay, we need to figure a way that I can get my income from 10 million to 15 million. I’m like, Why? Why are we doing this? Is this moving you towards where you’re going? Or are you sacrificing time with the kids, the wife, yourself? And many times it’s like, you know, maybe be better if I actually built a better team around me where I could actually make 8 million a year and not work. I’m like, would that make you happy? I don’t know. But I’d like to have the option of maybe not, of not working. So it all ties back in. And again, I wasn’t able to teach this. I had to learn the lessons for myself first.

Steve: Well, I’m glad you learned them because you’re sharing a lot of wisdom with us today. I’m really curious before we wrap things up, I’m really curious about something you just said where you go through this process and you sort of tie it into the, you know, the goals for that individual are tied to who they are. I’ve never, I’ve not heard that before. That’s an interesting linkage. Tell us a little bit about that.

Thor: This is probably one of the most aha moments I ever had. And it’s a cornerstone of a lot of what we talked about. You and I could sit down and say we’re going to set a goal to do X Y & Z. Matter of fact, last year, I decided to run two Iron Mans. 30 days back to back. I’m not a swimmer. I’m not a runner. I’m not a cyclist. So I set a goal and then I figure out how to do it. When I was going through the process and the training that it takes to become an Iron Man, it would have been horrific to go through all that training if that wasn’t who you were.

And I discovered this kind of after I did it. I’m like, it really wasn’t that bad. But what happened was when I decided the moment that I was going to do it, I took on the persona, I took on the identity. I went out actually, I bought a shirt. I did a video on YouTube, which was pretty into Facebook that was interesting. I purchased a shirt off eBay or somewhere, a used shirt from another event.

And I got it. I said, one day, I’ll be able to wear this. And I did a half Iron Man. And at the end of that it took out the shirt. I didn’t even realize it was the same event, but just 10 years earlier. Same thing. Yeah, it was really weird. It was like, hey, check out the shirt. I’m like, Wait a second. This is this event. When you can understand and modify, you can become anything you want to become. When you start taking on the identity of X, the ability, the joyfulness and the speed in which you achieve it is astounding. But when your identity is in conflict with that, that’s when it’s an uphill grind.

And so many people have this like badge of honor. It’s like I just grind through it. But what’s happening is, is it’s, you’re doing something, yes, you can do it. You’re pushing through, but you’re fighting your core identity. I work extensively on shifting identities of clients. And then once they are that, I go to the gym every day. It’s not a struggle. It’s just like that I’m looking forward to it. It’s who I am. Same thing in business. When you change that identity, boom. It’s like a late, it’s like drawing you to that outcome becomes effortless.

Steve: So everything kind of becomes aligned. And now

Thor: It becomes aligned and there’s like a pillar, it’s like, one becomes a negative and a positive, you know, from a charge standpoint, and you just fly through it. It’s even in that zone where it’s just like you’re working on something in your core genius and it’s just like, this is effortless, it just flowing, flowing, flowing. It’s like, Wow, I didn’t feel like time had passed. That’s because what you were working on, you see yourself as,

Steve: Yeah, that’s fantastic.

Malleable Identity

Thor: Yeah, it’s just something I wasn’t meaning to kind of discover this. And probably the light went on about eight months ago and I’m like, Wait a second, that’s how I did it. It wasn’t about the goals. It wasn’t about the academy and all that stuff plays in. It’s because of who I became.

Steve: Well, to me, that’s the key distinction that I herded all that. So I mean, there’s plenty of people to talk about aligning the role to, you know, in Strategic Coach, they have a concept called unique ability, which would be like the thing that you’re highly motivated by and very competent or best at. And that’s not exactly what you’re saying. You’re saying no

Thor: I’m not saying that at all. I think that’s great but that’s not, this is not based on ability. This is making a conscious decision of who I’m going to be. It’s kind of like you’re not a father and then one day you’re a father. Will you assume the role and the identity of a father? It just, it’s forced upon you. Now the question is, what’s that identity going to look like?

Identities are really, it’s not like you’re born and this is who you are, and you can’t change it. You just make a conscious decision. This is who I’m going to be. This is what I’m going to do. This is what I’m not going to do. Even if you were a drug user yesterday. You just make a conscious decision, going forward in my life, I’m a clean, healthy individual that protects myself, protects my body and loves others. That’s it. It’s a new identity.

Steve: Yeah. You know, it’s so interesting. We’ve just gone through a dietary change in our household to support our daughter who’s got some health challenges, and we’ve cut out all meat. And so we’ve all had to take on this new identity as Okay, we don’t eat meat, you know?

Thor: Right. And when you see meat, you sit there and go, I don’t know if I should eat it. I should eat it. I don’t eat it. It’s like, I don’t eat meat. It’s part of my identity. Are you vegan? I don’t, what’s the classification?

Steve: Vegan is the classification. But I don’t like to get into identity politics.

Thor: But that’s the thing. I mean, vegans don’t look at a cow and go ohhh. Now you still might have some of those cravings, all right?

Steve: Yeah. Well so I’ve approached this from the standpoint, she’s got to be that way for health reasons, the rest of the family, if we’re 80% good, you know, we’re good. So but to your point, we all had to take on that identity as this is who we are because that allowed us to reframe every decision we made about what we were going to eat. And so if you take that same idea, and just tell me if I’m interpreting this wrong, but if you take that same idea, let’s say we apply it to sales. You’re a salesperson, and you’ve got to increase your prospecting. If you kind of take on that identity as I’m someone who loves to prospect, you know?

Thor: Right. And when we do is we name the new identity. Who was the guy with you? Who’s the guy that gets up early, hits it hard, and never lets go? What did you ever have a nickname in college or an alter ego? That’s the one. What is it?

Steve: It was David. We had some names for him, but I can’t repeat them.

Thor: Okay. Alright. So David, was he, he no one’s watching the video and you just did. But since I say David, his whole mannerism changes. Your whole body language changes. You’re smiling and bigger than you had the entire interview. And it’s just like you’re lit up. So I get clients bracelets that say www. David.

What would David do? And I’m telling you, it’s immediately it’s like I know what you do. And even, and if you can’t think of a nickname or alter ego or something, pick somebody else. One guy just says, oh, man, I know. This sales guy is unbelievable. Bob. Man, he’s just I mean, he’s amazing. So I’m like be Bob. He’s like, I can be Bob.

Steve: I love that. Yeah. What a trick to change behavior.

Thor: Yeah, it happens like that. Yep.

Steve: That’s amazing. Alright folks, I didn’t know where we were going to go with this interview but I think we’re going to end it there because that was huge and valuable. And I want you to take away this one idea from what you heard from Thor today because I think that’s transformational. I appreciate you sharing it with everybody. That’s huge. So if folks want to connect with you, and they want to get more into all the things that you’re doing, what’s the best place for them to go?

Thor: Yeah, so our website, Facebook, Instagram, everything is Thor Conklin. On Facebook, you’ll find a, not a Rottweiler, but a dog named Thor Conklin. That’s not me. I’m the guy with the normal-looking face. So it’s really easy to find me. I’m fortunate and blessed to have a unique name in the first 16 pages of Google show nothing but my stuff. So I’m really easy to find, Thor Conklin.

Steve: Very good we’ll link to your site. And I know you’ve got some free downloads on the site that are really, really valuable. And folks how to go get those. Thank you, my friend for investing a little bit of time with me. I appreciate you being here.

Thor: Oh, this was fun, man. And we start talking about identity. I’m getting all ramped up. I’m ready to go.

Steve: Absolutely. Absolutely. Alright Thor, thanks again.

Thor: Thank you.