Welcome to another episode of The Art of Making Things Happen. A few days ago, I came back from Arizona. A friend of mine, Joe Polish, asked me to speak at the Annual Genius Network Event, and I was really looking forward to this. I did an entire speak on the ability to ask, and reframing the question to correct the answer you got. And it reminded me of a time when I learned this lesson, and when I was trying to get out in front of very wealthy people to find out quite simply how come they had money and I did not?
I told someone this story at bar that night. It’s been known to happen. I’ve been at the bar occasionally, and I recall that story. You see, when I was a doorman of a nightclub, I had no money. I knew what it was like to be poor. So what was the point of me talking to poor people? I wanted to talk to affluent people, and do you remember when you were 18 years old, and the whole idea of being rich was to have a million dollars or a million dollars in assets? And then you get to it, and quite openly, without being obnoxious, you realize you can’t retire. The earth doesn’t open up and suddenly deliver you gold. Having a million dollars today make your life a bit easier, but you don’t stop working. Hell, you can only afford a toilet if you lived in Manhattan. In Idaho, maybe you can afford Idaho, but most other places you can’t survive.
So I had to change my thought process, and I needed to change my thought process by talking to people that knew the answers. And so I had to ask affluent people questions, and I did it terribly. You see, here’s how it started. I remember when I was looking after affluent people, I would do something wonderful for them the night before, get them into an event, get them into a party, get them to meet a celebrity backstage, something like that. And the only reason I did it was to be able to meet up with them to following day, or a few days later and go, “Hey, did you enjoy that?” “Yeah. Great, Steve. Thanks for hooking me up.” “Oh, great. Glad you had a great time. Hey, I’ve been meaning to ask you…” And then I would land my question.
My first question I used to ask people was, “Hey, I’ve been meaning to ask you, hey, how come you’re rich and I’m not?” I can feel you repel now. I can feel you clam up and grimace and go, “Oh my God, that’s a terrible question.” Hey, I never said I was smart, but I started. The classic line of Ari Meisel, “get going, then get good”. I knew this was a bad question, but I needed to get the conversation going. Trouble is, that question’s a conversation killer. Whenever you ask someone about how rich they are, straight away you think about money. You think about the monetary facts you’ve got in your life. How much is your house worth? How much is your company worth? How much money do you have in your bank account? You ask someone how rich they are and they start thinking about numbers.
It doesn’t help you, and so I could feel the friction. I could feel the temperature change in that moment of the conversation. I got it wrong. I knew I got it wrong so much that I thought I hate that response. I’m going to change my question. So the next time I met people, I went, “Oh, did you enjoy last night? Glad I got that sort out for you. Great. Hey, I’ve been mean to ask you,” and here was my adaptation, my edit, “how come you’re wealthy and I’m not?” Now that’s a better question, but I would get things like, “Well, you know, I joined the church and I met my wife when we were young and I had kids and I saw the world differently.” And I’m thinking, fuck that, I’m not going to marry your wife and join your church.
This doesn’t help me. I’m not getting the nuggets. I’m not getting the advice. I’m not getting the golden egg that’s going to give me my answers. So again, I was getting a very nice answer on how you felt and you viewed wealth, but it wasn’t helping me. I was in it for selfish gain. So I had to change the question. Now, the third question came along, and again, I’d meet up with people and go, “Oh, did you enjoy last night? Did you enjoy meeting Elton John? Did you enjoy doing this with Guns N’ Roses? Hey, did you enjoy getting into that party? Great. I’m glad it all worked for you. Hey, I’ve been meaning to ask you,” and that’s where the third rendition of this question came about. I then danced with, “Hey, I’ve been meaning to ask you, how come you’re successful and I’m not?”
Of course, I always put it on me, “How come I’m not?” But it was that third question that hit it. “Steve, I look at success as this. I look at opportunities like this. I look at relationships like this. This is how I view a potential proposition or an affiliation or an alignment. This is how I meet and greet people. This is how I view money. This is how I view opportunities.” That was it. That was the holy grail of my questions. That third adaptation, that third tweak, that third edit that got me to say, “How come you’re successful and I’m not?” gave me everything I needed. And I realized as I walked away from that meeting, it was a mindset shift. It was people, how they viewed things. They looked at things differently to a lot of other people, and I’m going to do a future podcast on some other parts that I learned from hanging around with some of the most rich and powerful people in the planet. But at that moment in time, I realized it was a conscious shift of how you viewed things.
And it got me thinking, and I’ve told people many times before, I’ve always had the diet book theory, and I’ve literally done this in classes and I’ve done this in my training, and I’ve said to people, “Hey, hands up, who’s lost weight here by purchasing a diet book.” And you get some people go, “Yeah, I lost 20 lbs.” Did you? Did you really lose weight from buying the diet book, or did you lose weight from actioning it, actually doing things with it? You don’t lose weight from buying the book. Losing weight is a byproduct of you changing the way you live, eat, and how active you’re. You don’t become rich unless you buy a lottery ticket, and even in that example, the winnings are a byproduct of you getting lucky. You make money, which can be classed into wealth, affluence, however you want to coin it, by taking action. Changing your mindset.
If you’re focused on your bank account, it doesn’t grow. If you focus on your impact and opportunity, your bank balance becomes an impact and a byproduct of that. As I left those meetings, I could walk out that door by viewing things differently. And that’s what I did. As I grew, as I got more successful, as I got more impactful, more wealthy, more successful, I was able to, again, tweak the word. “Hey, I’ve been meaning to ask you, how come you’re successful and so many other people are not?” I could take myself out of that conversation now because, hey, I was doing okay, but I still wanted to grow. But I didn’t have to pick on myself as a potential victim and go, “How come you are and I’m not?”
You see, if you’re conversing with people and you want something that’s going to help you, you want the answer, but you’re not getting it, maybe you’re asking the right person, but maybe you’re asking the wrong question. I had that conversation at Genius Network. I wanted to share it with you. I’m a great believer that we should ask more questions. I want you to ask the questions that benefit you. Go out, try it. Don’t be frightened of it. It’s a three letter word. It’s not going to hurt you, but I am stunned how many people actually don’t ask for more of what they want. I hope life’s working well for you. If you ever want to catch up with me, you know you always can at stevedsims.com. And maybe I’ll see you at a speakeasy one of these days. Look after yourself. For now, go be more impactful.