Andy Andrews: ...that your thinking determines your destiny
Laura: Welcome to Nobody Told Me! I'm Laura Owens.
Jan: And I'm Jan Black.
Laura: We're very honored to have bestselling author, Andy Andrews, with us on this episode. You may know Andy from his many books like, The Noticer and The Traveler's Gift: Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success. But you may not know that Andy was homeless for two years following the deaths of both of his parents when he was just 19.
Jan: Andy is inspirational and motivational. He is very much in demand as a speaker and as a consultant to many of the world's top corporations. He's known for his ability to detect the little things that are the difference between winning and losing. His latest book is called, The Bottom of the Pool: Thinking Beyond Your Boundaries to Achieve Extraordinary Results. Andy, thank you so much for joining us.
Andy: Hey, you guys. I'm so excited to be here.
Jan: We are so excited to have you with us. We mentioned that you became homeless at the age of 19, how did that lead you to becoming the successful, influential person you are today? That's not a typical path to success.
Andy: You don't see that as a straight shot.
Jan and Laura: Right, right.
Andy: It's weird because, even when I talk about it myself, when I say, “I was homeless,” that wasn't even a word at the time. This was not a term anybody was using. Nobody talked about homeless people. To myself, I just lived on the beach. I was sleeping under a pier and in and out of people's garages, which is not safe or smart, but I did. That's where that kind of started, that's the homeless thing. I didn't even really connect those dots until probably about 15 years ago.
Laura: The Noticer was based off of that. Before I even ask my question, I just have to tell you that I think, more than any single book that I've ever read in my life, The Noticer was the most influential. I've read that book over and over again, given copies to my parents and my friends. I think the book is fabulous. I think it's even more inspiring knowing that it was based off of your life. How closely related was it?
Andy: Holy Cow, are you serious?
Laura: Oh, my gosh, yes. You've been my dream guest to have on the show since before we started it.
Jan: Oh, yeah.
Andy: What in the world? I've looked at you guys. I've looked at your website and your podcast is getting noticed by everybody. Your podcast is awesome. All you had to do was call me.
Jan: We did, we did.
Laura: It really gave me, I think, the motivation to come out of a very dark time in my life and realize that I had more to give. You really have helped a lot of people through that book.
Andy: That book, The Noticer, it's a true story, I say it's a true story. The first chapter is absolutely true, just like that happened. I was 19 when my parents died. I had a great ability to take a bad situation and make it worse, and I did. I took that time, I really, kind of, in a couple of years, propelled myself into an awful place.
This was 30 years ago, there wasn't a lot of pathology involved. I just didn't have any money, I was alone, and I met this old guy. We didn't know who he was, we didn't know where he came from, we didn't know where he stayed when he was in town, we knew he was in and out of town, we didn't know where he went when he left, we didn't know what was in the suitcase that he carried around, we never touched it.
This was the first guy, Laura, who told me the truth about myself. I see your eyebrows lift, Jan.
When I say that, what I mean is, when you meet somebody who's having a tough time, what do we do? We give them $5 or we put them on the prayer list at church. We don't ever sit down with them, think through situations, and tell them things about themselves that might make them angry at us. But this is what this old dude did. The Noticer is a story about that. He says, "When God gave talents, I wasn't in the front of the line. I don't sing well, I can't run fast. All I do is notice things that other people miss, it's a life of perspective."
Jan: The title of your new book is, The Bottom of the Pool: Thinking Beyond Your Boundaries to Achieve Extraordinary Results. You say, "The surface of the pool is an apt metaphor for the way most of us have been conditioned to live our lives." Explain more about that.
Andy: I appreciate you using the subtitle because when you say, "The bottom of the pool," it does sound like a horror movie, doesn't it? It is a book about thinking. This was a book that was a long time coming for me because it worked with a bunch of clients. I stumbled on a philosophy of thinking, it's a way of rolling some thoughts around that became very valuable. If you look on the book, you see one thing that I asked the publisher to do, I said, "Just get endorsements from people who have actually used the material and get a baseline. Get a percentage of, "I was here, this is how much money we made. This is how many more people we added to our organization. This is how our family changed." I'm a nobody. When you say, "Nobody told me?"
Andy: I'm perfect for your show because I'm a nobody. I don't have a Super Bowl ring, I don't have gold medals, I never landed a plane on the Hudson. I'm just a husband and a daddy. I notice things too. What I do with these things is trying to think through them to a different conclusion. Most people, when we're talking about the surface of the pool, most people live with what is true. They ignore and never find all the results that are available with the truth.
Here's what I mean. Things can be true and not be the truth. If we took a blind person and asked him to describe, "We know you haven't ever seen this animal. Spend a few minutes with it, it's an elephant. Tell us what it's like and how it can be used." The blind person might say, "It's big, it's tall, it's alive. It can be used as a gate, a wall. You can get many of them to make a wall." All of it's true, it's just not the truth. Until we know the truth about the elephant, we would not have a complete picture of what it really looks like or how many ways we could use it.
In our society, with our families, in our relationships, in our careers, over and over again, people stop at what is true. They look around and everybody has stopped at what is true, because it's an answer, and the answer is correct. The answer provides results. I'm telling you, there are multiple phenomenal, unbelievable, abounding results available at the bottom of the pool that people are just totally ignoring.
Laura: You talk about some examples of people who have really proven this to be true. Two of my favorites were Bob Beamon and Walt Disney. Could you explain a little bit about those to people who haven't read the book yet? I thought they were just amazing stories that you told.
Andy: The whole metaphor of 'the bottom of the pool' started when I was a little kid. We would all circle up in the deep end and we would act like Flipper, which was a television show then. We tried to see how high out of the water we could get, whoever got the highest was the Dolphin King. So you would work your arms and your legs. But there was this one kid who was older than us, bigger than us, and he always won. We looked at what he did, we tried to copy what he did, we tried to learn what he did, but he won every time.
Now, you could look at that little bunch of people, and you could say, "That's the only place in the world that Dolphin is being played, so those are the best Dolphin players on the planet, and that kid is the best of all time." If you went to us back then and you said, "Hey guys, are you doing the best you can do? Really? Think with me here. Are you doing the best you can?" We would've said, "Yes, we are. We are." Because we were doing the best that we could do.
But one day, my best friend went to the middle of the circle and everybody just goes up, but this time this kid went down. We were watching him, "What is he doing?" He sinks all the way to the bottom, he crouches down on the bottom, then he pushes against the concrete and comes rocketing out of the surface. We're like, "Oh, my gosh. We have a new Dolphin King." The thing is, of course, until you get to the bottom, you could never harness the power's available.
You could have asked us, "Are you doing the best you can do?" We would say, "Yes, we're doing the best we can do." But we were not doing the best that could be done. We did not even know there was a line that existed. We looked at how it was done. We watched him, we tried to copy the best player. It was obvious how you did this, at least everything was obvious until one kid went down instead of up. Everything that had been so obvious was not even true.
Laura: That's where Bob Beamon comes into play.
Andy: Yeah. Here's this guy in 1968 in the Olympics. He's just a guy from Brooklyn. He's the fourth guy in the finals. 1968, Mexico City, The Olympics, and the world is watching. On the long jump, this kid, even though he made it to the finals, this kid has already fouled two times, he gets one more shot. The other three people standing there competing are the Soviet guy who won the gold medal before, the British guy who's the world record holder, and the other American who was the best guy on the team. If you looked at the history of the long jump in that moment, that's that jump where they go running, running, running, then are like bicycling in the air, and land, that's what the long jump is. If you look at that in the past 100 years before, only 13 times had the world record been advanced. It was advanced by an average of an inch-and-a-half. 13 times over 100 years, and the record sat right there at 27 feet.
Beamon, this kid from Brooklyn, had already fouled two times. He had already gone over the line. He's going to make his last attempt. The other American walked up to him, he cupped his hand, with the stadium watching, the world watching, he told this kid, he said, "Give them those two inches on the back, don't foul. Make sure you make a good jump. Give them two inches on the back, but know that your mind has wings, and take two feet on the jump. You give them two inches on the back, but when you jump, take two feet." It was just the kind of thing the guy said.
As the world watched, this kid took strides down the track, leapt in the air, landed in the sand, and then just kind of walked off. You see the film today, the judges are kind of wandering around, the stadium's quiet, and nobody knows what has happened. What has happened is, the kid has jumped beyond all this brand-new technological data, the laser thing that they were measuring with. The judges were trying to find an old-fashioned ruler thing, an old-fashioned measuring tape. It took about 15 minutes. They measured and when they posted the thing, the stadium almost collapsed in a roar. Beamon looked up, he saw what they had posted, what he had done, and he collapsed to the track. In 100 years, 13 times the world record had been broken by an inch-and-a-half. This one kid ran down the track and broke the world record by two feet.
Andy: He jumped 29 feet. While the world marks are still up in the air, the Olympic record for that, 1968, it has still not been broken. You know the curious part, right?
Jan: What's that?
Andy: The curious part is he never did it again.
Jan: Why do you think he never did it again?
Andy: I think he never did it again because I think there was a moment in time that he listened to that guy about a mind having wings, believed it, and he did something extraordinary. It was lightning in a bottle. Even though this guy had done it, he captured lightning in a bottle, he jumped two feet beyond the world record, now, all of the press in the world, ESPN calls this moment, 'The Greatest Sports Moment of the Century.' Sports Illustrated called it, 'The Greatest Olympic Moment in History.' Now, he's a got a kid, he's still competing, he's still going to World Championships, and he's still going. He even jumped in the same stadium against the same guys.
However, there was this one moment in time that his mind received something from somebody that said, "Give two inches in the back, take two feet on the other end," and he actually did it. The newspapers of the day began to broadcast and the radio, they said, "Can he do it again? Can he do it again? Can Beamon do it again?" In his entire career, that kept. Everybody's results went back to that inch crawl, that has continued to this day. For years and years, until the end of Beamon's career, there was, "Can he do it again?"
It was a horrible question that he bought into. And ladies, Jones, that old man, The Noticer, told me one time, he said, "The quality of your answers can only be determined by the quality of your questions. No good answers, ask good questions.” "Can Beamon do it again?" was a horrible question. "Can he do it again?" Everybody's talking about it, even Bob Beamon was reading it, he was hearing it. "Can he do it again? Can he do it again?" It's a horrible question because quietly, the answer is, "Of course." Of course he can do it again because he already did it.
Laura: He's proven it already.
Andy: He did. You're telling me the body that jumped 29 feet, can't jump 29 feet again? It began to nag at him. Had the question been, "Will he do it again?" He could have put some thought into that and determined whether or not he would do it again. But, "Can he do it again?" Everybody, the broadcasters, the newspaper, everybody looking at it having already been done, bombarded this kid with the news that it was impossible, it was impossible. It was lightening in a bottle. He had found a unicorn in a fairyland. This is once in a million, jillion, krillion.
Laura: What could he have done differently then? He really didn't have control over the questions that the press were asking, so what could he have had in his control that would have changed whether or not he did it again?
Andy: It's an amazing thing that you ask that. I've looked a lot at my time living on the beach with no money, no people, no help. If we flash-freeze that time, we look back, and we say, "Wow, there's Andy Andrews. He becomes a New York Times bestselling author. But there, look at him. He was homeless."
I want to tell you something about that kid at that time, he didn't know he was homeless. There was no internet. That wasn't even a word. Nobody knew he had quit college, all the families and everything. Nobody had cell phones, nobody talked about anything, nobody knew where everybody was. This kid, he wasn't homeless, he was by himself, he was living on the beach. He was washing boats and fishing for people, selling fish, selling bait, taking people fishing. He wasn't homeless, he was fine. Had we told him he was homeless, things might have turned out very differently.
Tell us about the Walt Disney story that you have in there. That's a great one.
Andy: It's interesting to me that we all, in our society, Jan, we think about results. That's what we put out. We tell kids, "Look, you can be like this too. You can do whatever you want to do." We point to those people and the successes they've had. We never go to the bottom of the pool.
Why is it that you think Walt Disney was so cool? Walt Disney was so cool because he flew around in a jet whenever he wanted to. He had Magic Kingdoms everywhere. My gosh, he could go to Disneyland, Disney World free? He can go anywhere you want to go?
Laura: No lines for the rides.
Andy: No lines for the rides. You've got houses all over the world. Who doesn't want that life? We all want to be like Walt Disney. What children are never taught is, you look at Walt Disney, he was very different. The reason you think Walt Disney is so cool is because his life is different, it's different. His life didn't turn out like all the jillion other drones that you see on and off the subway, thinking that this is their life. He didn't turn out that way.
You look at him and you go, "Golly, I would love to be like that." Because he was so different. Somewhere along the line, to turn out differently, Walt Disney had to, as a young man, really face the reality that if you're going to turn out different, you got to be a little different.
Back in the day, it's a shocking thing to us now, but he got a job as a cartoonist at the Kansas City Star. The Kansas City Star was the major Midwest newspaper that linked to New York, LA, and Miami. There is the Kansas City Star, that was the newspaper. He was hired as a cartoonist, Walt Disney, but he was fired. The reason he was fired is his boss said he had no good ideas, just not a good imagination.
Laura: No, of course not. It’s clear.
Jan: Who was wrong in that equation?
Andy: The curious thing is, I wonder if it was the boss? If we look at the boss and go, "Dude, are you the guy that didn't have the imagination?" This guy was thinking so far beyond everybody else that you thought he was crazy. He was going to do, "When you wish upon The Kansas City Star." But they said, "That's nuts, a singing cricket? Are you kidding me? A talking mouse?" We could have had Cinderella night at Arrowhead Stadium. They fired him because they didn't have enough imagination to see how much imagination Walt Disney had.
Jan: Why do we often put more credence in the opinions of what other people may have of us than we do in our own opinions of ourselves? How do you think we can move past that?
Andy: The surface of the pool is like a jigsaw puzzle, it's kind of locked together, it works very well. Everybody's got their own float, we're all kind of like, you got your drink, you kind of kick around, the kids can go from one place to another and stay cool and go. This is just kind of how you do it in the pool, everybody does it that way in the pool. Now, you get somebody that's just way out of bounds that turns into Mark Spitz. Jan, you and I would think Mark Spitz. Laura, who would you think, an Olympic swimmer?
Laura: Michael Phelps.
Andy: Yeah, Phelps. At the pool, while everybody else was in their round things, people were probably pretty aggravated by that Phelps kid who kept trying to swim back and forth, and back and forth, and back and forth, and back and forth. This is not how you acted at the pool. Come on now, get the Phelps kid out of here. This is not how you act. Jacques Cousteau, I'm sure Laura doesn't know who that is.
Laura: I do know who that is.
Jan: She does.
Laura: I do.
Andy: Good for you, good for you. Jacques Cousteau, this was the guy that was going down in the mid-depths. Everybody was playing Marco Polo in the pool and everybody's going, "Where's Jacques Cousteau? Oh, that idiot is down, swimming down deep. He's down there." These guys are doing something totally, totally different.
Surface of the pool? It all worked. That's the way you go to the pool, that's what you do. That's how you exist in a pool. You want to get results. This is right there, this is right there. Same pool, same water. Michael Phelps and Jacques Cousteau made something out of the different depths at the same pool.
But everybody else had their industry standards. They had their best practices, this is how this is done. If you want to find out how something gets done, just float it out there to the internet, people will come out of the woodwork to tell you how it is done. If you argue with them, they will stand you down because it has already been determined how it has been done.
Quick story. I work with a lot of corporations and these people read my books, read The Traveler's Gift, The Noticer, The Bottom of the Pool. I work with these guys. Because I'm a nobody, I've got to have great results. I've got to have these people doubling and tripling. If you look on The Bottom of the Pool, the endorsement from Steve Jacobson, just look at that one.
I'm in my sitting room one evening with my wife, and I'm on the phone with one of these CEOs that their results have doubled in a year. My wife says to me when I hang up, she says, "How are you doing this?" I said, "What?" She said, "You're working with these coaches, Nick has won all of these national championships, now these other guys. You're going to these companies and you don't know anything about the mortgage business. You don't know anything about football, you played football in the sixth grade. How are you doing this?"
I laughed. We'd been married 30 years and I said, "Dear, it's a thinking philosophy and it's like this. If somebody had met me in an airport and they said, "Andy, I only have 30 seconds with you, we'll never see you again. But in 30 seconds, can you give us something, can you just say something? You've written all these books. Say something in 30 seconds that will give us the opportunity to increase our results 15% to 20% year, after year, after year, for a decade. If they asked me to do that, Dear, I could not do it. That's how the best in all these industries, that's how they increase. That's how organizations increase 15% a year, that's how they all do. I don't know anything about them. I always have to know something about them, and I don't, so I couldn't help."
But if somebody said to me, now I'm just talking about philosophy here, if somebody said, "Andy, we only have you for 30 seconds. In 30 seconds, we need you to say something that would give us the opportunity to double a result in a year." Well, I can do that. All I would say, "Well, okay. Look at your industry, see what everybody's doing, watch how everybody's doing it, and then turn around and go the other way. You wanted a chance, right? You wanted a chance to double. Okay, well look at your industry. Do you see anybody doubling? Has anybody ever doubled? Is anybody doubling now? If you want a chance to double, we already know where not to look."
It's a thought process. Everybody on the surface of the pool is living with what is true. It works. It gets results. It gets that 15% to 20% return a year, if you're in first, second or third place. But if you want to come out of nowhere, if you want to redesign your life, if you want to imagine something that can, not only come true, but it comes true because you control it, built it, and make it happen right in front of your own self. If you want to do something extraordinary, don't do what everybody else is doing.
Laura: Because we already know the results of that.
Laura: Andy, as our final question, we always ask our guests, "What is your nobody told me lesson?" What do you wish someone had told you about life, success, and overcoming hard times that you wish that they had that would have helped you avoid some tough times?
Andy: I'm going to sink to the bottom of the pool with this question, are you sure you want the answer to that?
Laura: Oh, yes.
Jan: Of course. Yes.
Laura: Need that.
Andy: Everybody take a deep breath. I wish somebody had told me that nobody had a job for me. For years, I looked for a job. I did a job. I worked a job. I would do my other stuff but I did my job. I was good at my job. Nobody ever told me that what I was doing didn't really even exist.
Here's what I'm saying, sink to the bottom of the pool with me. The owner of the company is a computer. You don't know the owner of the company. The owner of the company is this big blob, just taking results. This computer has been given $1 million. The computer's orders have been to turn $1 million dollars into $1.2 million, okay?
Jan and Laura: Okay.
Andy: The computer, now, gets several people. You can get a breadmaking company, a basket-making company, a service company, you get an insurance company, whatever company he wants to do, but he's got $1 million to build this company, and he's going to offer jobs, say three jobs, because it's like three vice presidents. These three jobs, these three people are going to offer jobs, 20 each. $1 million dollars is going to spread pretty well. All these people are going to have their jobs. It's a pretty cool thing. It works really well until the tally is made at the end of the year.
The computer that has put out $1 million, and is expecting $1.2 million, brings back $9.7K. Something's wrong. The computer doesn't really have any jobs. The computer has a result. Because it has a result, it can take that $1 million, the computer can think, "I could put it in a savings account, get interest, it would be better than floating it out there and letting these people deal with it." Here I am out there, I'm working along, 5 o'clock comes along, I look at my watch, I did my job.
Nobody said, "Hey, we got a thing. We're just going to put somebody in that place. You can do whatever you want to do. You can go play on a swing set, you can file your nails, you can practice archery, you can go play golf. We don't really care, you're just the person in that job. We've got to fill it and we'll give you $5,000 a month to do it." "Hey, that's great." That person does that. At 5 o'clock, they've done their job and they clock out. Everybody thought they had jobs that, way up the line, the owner demanded a result.
I tell you that story so that you understand, you are your owner. Everybody's out there competing with product and price. One thing trumps product and price, and that's you. Have you ever paid more for a product than you had to? You knew you could've gotten it less but you decided to pay more. Yeah, you've done it. Have you ever gone to more trouble? Yeah, you've done it. Why? It always folds around to somebody and the gratefulness that you're showing, or a loyalty that you're showing. It is you. I know Walmart's right across the street, but I will always drive across town and go to that lady's store. Have I ever told you what she did for my grandmother 14 years ago? Let me tell you the story, what she did for my grandmother, I will always drive across town.
You are the magic. It's not the product, it's not the job. A job doesn't live and breathe. A job doesn't make kids eyes light up. A job doesn't bring a sense of well-being. There is no scrub brush in the world that you can go to bed with at night and feel very certain that all is well with the world because this scrub brush is so effective.
It's you and me. It's Laura and Jan. It's your voices. When I listen to your podcast, when I listen to Nobody Told Me! I don't hear your voices, I hear your hearts coming across the country from you to me, into the homes of other people. You have added value to my life. You may have chosen this as a career, you may talk about it to your family, "I got to go to the job." It's not really that, not to me anyway. I look at that, I look at this thing as, "Wow, man. All the mothers and daughters that are fighting, all mothers and daughters that can't get along. All the mothers who wish they had time with their daughters, all the daughters that wish they had a moment with their mother. Look at here, we get to sit down and have coffee with Jan and Laura. A mom and a daughter who have had arguments, they've disagreed, and they have figured out how to come back together. Though they may still disagree about certain things, their love for each other and their determination to go for the best. Everybody else is going good to great. Fine, let them. Jan and Laura are going for the best."
Laura: I was going to say. I'm loving what you're saying right now.
Jan: Yeah, me too. Me too.
Andy: But this is why this works. This is why I look to the bottom of the pool to figure out, "Okay, is this why you work. This is why I get you. This why I love you guys. This is why America loves Nobody Told Me!"
This is one last thing. I did some stuff with Nick Saban, head coach of Alabama football. Here's a guy who has won more national championships than all the college football coaches combined, put together. He's in the discussion for Best of all Time. And yet, where does he go for a seminar? How does he look to become more? What I told Nick one day, I said, "Buddy, look at yourself and understand at how people feel when they see you and they meet you. Understand the value of you and your wife and your family. You are competing at a level nobody else knows the game is going on." That's what Jan Black and Laura Owens are doing.
Jan: Wow, we thank you for that. You added a lot of value to our day.
Laura: I was going to say. We're on a different level now in terms of our own confidence.
Jan: Yeah, really.
Laura: We don't view this as a job, I don't think.
Jan: No, not at all.
Laura: We enjoy working together and doing this together. For as much benefit as we hope to provide to other people, I think this has been wonderful for us to have as a mother-daughter combo and it's strengthened our own relationship.
Jan: Yeah. It has, it has. We learn from people like you, who are the best, and we get to share that, it's fabulous. Andy, how can people connect with you on social media and the internet?
Andy: I'm @AndyAndrews. I'm andyandrews.com. You can go on Facebook, I'm @AndyAndrews, I will be your friend, find me there. I'm also doing a lot of work, a lot of very special work with wisdomharbour.com. I probably need to turn you two onto that. I think the community, I think the people of Wisdom Harbour would love you two.
Jan: Sounds like we'd love them.
Laura: Please, please we'd love to talk to them.
Jan: Andy, again we thank you so much for joining us. We really appreciate talking with you. We appreciate your books. We just think that you've put some wonderful, wonderful things out there in the world that generations to come will benefit from.
Laura: I really don't think this show would have ever happened were it not for the wisdom that you gave me when I first read your book, I don't know, it must have been 10 years ago now.
Andy: Wow. Thank you, guys. Keep in touch. I'm listening to you. I don't know if anybody cares what I think, but if you want to know what I think, give me a call. We'll talk again.
Jan: We definitely will because we have about four more pages of questions, each of us have our own four more pages of questions to ask you that we didn't even have a chance to touch on.
Jan: Andy, thank you so much. Our thanks to Andy Andrews. Again, his latest book is called, The Bottom of the Pool: Thinking Beyond Your Boundaries to Achieve Extraordinary Results. His website is andyandrews.com. I'm Jan Black.
Laura: And I'm Laura Owens.
Jan: You're listening to Nobody Told Me! Thank you so much for joining us.