Seasoned entrepreneur, internationally-known speaker and acclaimed author Keith J. Cunningham is regarded as one of the world’s foremost authorities on business mastery. Keith has taught critical business skills, mentored and coached thousands of top executives and entrepreneurs around the world and appeared with industry giants including T. Harv Eker, Brian Tracy, Tony Robbins, and Robert Kiyosaki. He teaches the tools and strategies used by the pros, not only to make money but also to keep it. A self-made millionaire, Keith is an expert at helping business owners turn fledgling businesses into highly profitable companies with explosive growth.
Keith Cunningham: I step all over toes of a lot of people. And you know, the great part about being my age is that I’m about a year or two away from being able to say whatever I want with total immunity because you get to a certain age and people just go, Oh man, he’s just an old kook. Forget about him.
Sean: I’m looking forward to it.
Mindie: I think I might already be there.
Sean: Yeah, Mindie was born in that age.
Mindie: Let’s get rolling here…
Sean: I am so excited to have my buddy Keith Cunningham on the program. And I start the introduction here by saying, Keith, you are my wife’s business spirit animal.
Mindie: Why do you say that?
Sean: Are you familiar with the term spirit animal?
Keith Cunningham: I am. I’m probably her turtle.
Mindie: I actually don’t know why he is going to say this. So I’m interested to hear.
Sean: I’m going through your book because I set a 52 book challenge this year, reading a book a week, and you were one of the books in the lineup. And as I was reading through it, I felt like Mindie, who is the CEO of our company, was constantly in my ear. She just changed her voice to a deeper male resonance, just at me, like why are you doing that, stupid? Why didn’t you do some preparation? And as I was going through it, I’m like, Oh my God, Keith and Mindie share a soul here. And you are her spirit animal, you are a physical representation of what she energetically brings to every conversation. So I thought, it’s probably a bad idea for me, but a good idea for the world, to introduce you guys.
Keith Cunningham: Good. It’s my pleasure and I’m looking forward to this conversation. So thank you.
Sean: You are quite welcome. So Keith, if you could just tell our listener a brief overview of your entrepreneurial journey. In other words, how did you get where you are today in business and life?
Keith Cunningham: Well, I will tell you, I heard a poem one time that goes like this: Money talks. I can’t deny. I heard it once. It said goodbye. So look, I’ve got a long background. I’m old, I’m 69 years old. I’ve made money. I’ve lost it, I’ve remade it. So, my original journey started like most kids with paper routes and lemonade stands and mowing yards. I think probably a distinction for me was that my dad when I was about 11 or 12 years old, gave me a little ledger that allowed me to kind of keep up with the time and the income and the revenue and the expenses. And so, at a very young age, I started getting this sense that there was more to this money thing than simply putting it in a bank account or spending it on stuff.
There was an idea that was implanted in me about tracking and keeping up with what I was doing. I got a degree in business. I had some mentors very early on in my career that took me under their wing. And, you know, the industry’s changed over the years. But through it all, I’ve been a student of the game and I think that may be something that differentiates what I’m trying to do or what I’ve done from others. I wasn’t always a student of the game. I made a lot of money and then lost a lot of money, one of the things I figured out is that number one, I’m not quite as smart or good as I thought I was when I was at my peak. And the other thing I figured out is that there was a certain amount of luck, a certain amount of, I caught a big wave.
There’s a big difference between success and excellence. Success is getting what I want and excellence is staying there. [Click to Tweet]
And to me, there’s a big difference between success and excellence. Success is getting what I want and excellence is staying there. I figured out that there’s a distinction that most people don’t make. The job is not, or the goal is not to make it, the goal is to make it and keep it. And that’s true in every part of my life, whether it’s my health or my relationships. I don’t want to be healthy for a week or in a great relationship for a month or to be rich for a day. What I want is I want to be able to achieve it and then maintain it. And that requires skills and tools. It’s one of the distinctions I learned early on is that you can get lucky and make it, but you cannot get lucky and keep it. And so this idea and the teaching that I do is around what are the skills and tools that are required in order to not only make it, but then also keep it and create the excellence that I want.
Mindie: So awesome. So Keith, one of the things that I really appreciated about your book, we have it right here, The Road Less Stupid, which is an awesome title, by the way. You talk about a dumb tax, and I want to get into this because as I was reading about the dumb tax, I felt like, Oh my gosh, I’ve been that, I’ve been bankrupt, I’ve had all this other crazy financial stuff, you know, similar to you, I’ve made money, lost money, made money. It’s been this roller coaster and the dumb tax… I was like, Oh yes. Can you talk a little bit about what that is?
Keith Cunningham: One of my favorite questions to ask people is if I gave you the opportunity to unwind any three financial decisions you’ve ever made, how much money would you have?
Mindie: So much!
Keith Cunningham: Yeah, and that’s it. And everybody tells me, Oh my gosh, if I could just unwind ONE of my financial decisions, I’d have a ton. Or I’d have more than I currently have. And so what that illustrates is that the key to getting and staying rich is not more good ideas. The key to getting and staying rich is executing on fewer dumb ideas. And the dumb ideas, when I execute on an idea or make an investment and lose money, it’s usually with 20/20 hindsight. I can look back and say, Oh my gosh, there was an unexamined assumption or there was an ignored risk or there was excessive optimism.
You know, I look back at my dumb taxes and I go, there was a risk, there was an assumption or I was irrationally exuberant someplace and I didn’t really think about the possibility of a loss. I love what a guy named Howard Marks who’s a billionaire investor. He does stuff similar to Warren Buffet. He’s not as famous as Warren or as rich as Warren. However, Warren Buffet has said that when Howard Marks writes something, Warren will stop what he’s doing to listen, to read it. One of Howard Mark’s favorite, one of my favorite quotes of his is this, “It’s more important to ensure survival under negative outcomes than it is to predict maximum returns under favorable ones.” I’m going to say it again. It’s more important to ensure survival under negative outcomes than it is to predict maximum returns under favorable ones.
And that idea of being conscious of risk, being conscious this stuff could go wrong, is the root of most dumb taxes. A dumb tax is simply when you do something stupid and it costs you some money. And I think what happens to most people I know, and certainly, it’s happened to me, although I’m trying to minimize this happening these days, trying to start over at my age would be brutal. So, what I think happens to most people is they tend to execute on good ideas. At least they sound good at the time. Hence, one of my favorite sayings, all my problems, ALL of my problems started out as a good idea. And it’s true for almost everybody I know. What I need if I’m going to create business and financial success is I need to really be thoughtful about the ideas I execute on because it’s those ideas, when they’re wrong, that wind up sabotaging me and costing me money, and I want to avoid doing that.
Sean: Keith, have you ever heard the quote? Or you probably haven’t because it’s mine.
Sean: But there’s a quote that says “What doesn’t kill you, raises your speaker fee.”
Keith Cunningham: [Laughing] No, I’ve not heard that. But I think there’s a lot of truth in that. My dumb taxes have not killed me, but I definitely limped for a while after I incurred them. So trying to learn from my mistakes and that’s all any of us can do. You know, I think smart people learn from their mistakes. I think wise people learn from the mistakes of others. What I’m trying to do is help the people around me learn from some of my mistakes that they don’t have to repeat them.
I think smart people learn from their mistakes. I think wise people learn from the mistakes of others. [Click to Tweet]
Mindie: Yeah. And I think that’s exactly what all of us do. We take these experiences and when you were listing all of those reasons why a dumb tax might occur, like too much optimism, I would say all of the above in my case, like all of those things you listed. And then you get past that and now you can teach others so that they don’t hopefully have to go through the same experiences. So I love that. So Keith, one of the things that we want to focus on in this show is really looking at the intersection of wealth and wealth creation, but also happiness. You know, feeling good in life because a lot of the people we know, for some reason or another are on one side and not both. They’ve been very successful, but they’re miserable or they’re pretty happy people, but they haven’t really figured out the success monetarily yet. And I’m wondering for you, how would you personally define wealth?
Keith Cunningham: I think that the quality of my life is dictated by the quality of my choices. And so I define wealth as choices. People with a great life tend to have great choices and people with a crappy life tend to have crappy choices. And I think what wealth does is it creates an opportunity for more choices. And so, to me, wealth is not a number. I have a lot of money. If I didn’t have my health and my money couldn’t fix that problem, I would not consider myself to be wealthy. If I was in an unsatisfactory, an unhappy relationship and I had a lot of money, but my personal life was a mess, then I would consider that I have very few choices, or I have limited choices. And so to me, the key is I’m constantly looking for, are there opportunities for me to either build or create or design or enhance the choices that I have. And ultimately, if I have a lot of very appetizing, a lot of favorable choices that are available to me, then I feel like I’ve been successful. I’ve created the wealth that I was looking for. If I don’t have those choices, then the wealth, regardless of the money, doesn’t seem like that’s the appropriate measuring stick.
Mindie: You’re speaking our language. Like that personal responsibility is what we talk about so often. So I love that.
Sean: Keith, I heard you say about your definition of wealth that if you aren’t in a great relationship, then so what about all that income if you’re just miserable in that relationship. But I think one of the most admirable things about you, way above and beyond your business, is the relationship you have with your wife, Sandy, and how the two of you are creating things together. She’s the CEO of your company, the two of your’s company. And I admire that because that’s what Mindie and I have created. Mindie’s the CEO and I just wanted you to speak to what is it about your relationship that makes it so amazing and how do you work together without killing each other? I’m just curious how you pull that off.
Keith Cunningham: [Laughing] Well, so look, it’s a great question. I think all partnerships… And I think that’s really the way to view what we’re doing is that it’s a partnership. Somebody has to make the final decisions. In the teaching world, which is more and more where I’m gravitating and spending my time if I’m going to be productive. We still own businesses and I’m more of the CEO of that. But in the teaching world, and we’re partners in both worlds, but there has to be a leader. And in the teaching world, I want to gravitate toward the artist-side, towards the creation side, towards the delivery side and the operator part. In order for that to be successful, I need somebody around me to, not only help direct me, but who will tell me “no” or ask me to question whether or not the direction I’m headed is the right one.
It gives me a lot of freedom. And historically in my life, I’ve not had that freedom. Historically in my life, from a business context, I’m the CEO, I’m the leader. And so, part of what I think makes for a great partnership is respect. I think what makes for a great partnership is trust, accountability, a willingness to embrace conflict. There’s nothing wrong with having a different opinion about what we’re doing or where we should be headed or, or what we’re prioritizing. There’s nothing wrong with that. Because the reality is we have the same goal. We have the same outcome. And so one of my favorite sayings is that anytime there’s a disagreement in a partnership, it’s because the problem is too small. If we have a disagreement, it’s because the problem is not the biggest problem.
What we need to do is elevate. So the example I would use is if Mindie and I were on a rowboat in the middle of the ocean because the big boat sank. And it’s just me and Mindie on this boat and we have a little bit of food and a little bit of water, but we’re in the middle of the ocean. What would likely be our topic of conversation would be who gets the last little bit of food and who gets the last little bit of water? And inevitably, we would have an argument about who’s more deserving of the food and the water, when in reality, that’s not our biggest problem. Our biggest problem is how do we get saved. And so if we would elevate the problem, now we can align and if we have an opportunity to align, then all of a sudden we minimize the likelihood of an argument.
So, Sandy and I make great partners just like I think you and Mindie make great partners, Sean, because we bring two different points of view, two different brains, two different skill sets to the table. But what we want is the same thing. And so now the question is how do we align around what we both want and then get out of each other’s way on the execution side. Sandy executes some things. I execute other things and then we come back together as partners and we evaluate whether or not that worked or it didn’t. And there’s no room for judgment, it’s simply, okay, what do we need to do different or what do we need to fertilize in order to make sure that we keep moving towards what we want?
Sean: So I think in that metaphor the biggest problem was I was on that big boat.
Keith Cunningham: [Laughing]
Sean: I like how I wasn’t even in the metaphor because I went down in that shipwreck.
Mindie: Sean has already sunk.
Sean: And I think Mindie was behind it.
Mindie: Exactly. I sent us out on the safety boat. So Keith, I want to go back to your book. Another concept that has been huge for you and now has become really important to us is thinking time. And this is a two-part question. One is I’d love for you to describe what that is for our listeners that might not yet have read your book, and also, I love this, you said that one of the most important questions that you can ask yourself is “what don’t I see?” And I thought that was really important. So I’d love for you to touch on that in that thinking time conversation.
Keith Cunningham: To me, business and investing money is an intellectual sport. Money does not respond well to emotions. Emotions tend to sabotage business success, investing success. And so if business and investing is an intellectual sport, then one of the things that’s critical is for me to set aside time with a high-value question to simply think. And I do this thinking time roughly three times a week for about 45 minutes to an hour. It’s on my calendar. It’s baked into my day. And before I sit and think, I develop a high-quality question to think about. So a high-quality question might be, if 100% of my future growth was by referral only, how would I run my business? That would be a high-value question and it forces me to think about my business in a different way. And I’ve got hundreds and hundreds of questions that I’ve developed over the course of the last 25 or 30 years that I’ve been religiously working on this thinking time for me and my businesses and the thinking time process.
One of my favorite questions is the question “what don’t I see?” And the reason is because what I don’t see is what costs me money. What I don’t see are my assumptions and what none of us can see are our assumptions. And it’s one of the reasons that I think having a board or advisors or a coach or a mentor or a guide is so incredibly important. You know one of the sayings, if you’re about to go someplace you’ve never been before, it’s a good idea to have a guide. It’s a good idea to have somebody that knows the territory. And to me, it’s a good idea to have someone holding you accountable, a mentor. Somebody to show you the obvious places where you’re about to waste some time or incur a dumb tax because you’re about to do something that’s intergalactically stupid. And nobody’s immune from being stupid.
The smartest people I know have all done stupid things. And so the key is can I avoid making bad assumptions? When I look at the root of all of my dumb tax, there was embedded in the decision that I made, a false assumption, an assumption about either the upside, an assumption about the risk, an assumption about the downside, an assumption about the execution intelligence of the people that I was investing with. Every single one of them has got a baked-in assumption. So one of my jobs is not to avoid risk, it’s to identify it. If I can just identify what might go wrong and question some of my assumptions, I’ll do fewer stupid things, more smart things, and wind up with more money in my hip pocket when I’m done. I won’t necessarily be happier, but I will wind up with more money. To me, happy is gratitude.
I’ve made a distinction in my life between pleasure and happy. Pleasure is stimulating my senses. Happy is being grateful for what I got. And to avoid looking around and making comparisons to other people. My God, I mean, of all the things that would make me depressed, all I got to do is sit around and compare myself to someone else. I mean, if Bill Gates had as much money as me, he killed himself. Right? I mean, and I’ve got a lot of money, but you know, it’d be such a fall for him. So if I compare myself to him, it’s the old story of it’s easy to be unhappy about my new pair of Nikes until I meet the guy with no feet. And then all of a sudden I go, wait a minute.
Things are actually okay. And I think what gratitude does is it drives me into the present and causes me to be grateful for what I got. All my problems exist either in the form of regret by looking at the past or fear when I look at the future. But in the present, I’m good. And so, when I look at how do I avoid being unhappy, a lot of it comes back to how I think about stuff and avoiding making stupid assumptions helps me avoid doing stupid things.
Sean: Keith, you said something in Tempe when you were training at the mastermind, that there’s nothing more expensive than drama. And I’m paraphrasing there. You said if you’re gonna get into a dramatic experience, you might as well pull out your checkbook because that’s where it’s headed. Can you explain to our listener what does business drama look like? And what do you do to avoid it as opposed to deal with it when it shows up? How can we avoid it? And what does it look like?
Keith Cunningham: Boy, that’s a great question. Look, operators react and sweat. Owners think and plan. My job as an owner is to be thoughtful about things that could go wrong, things that could go wrong and there’s a myriad of them. Things could go wrong with my revenue, things could go wrong with my ability to execute, things could go wrong with my team. Things could go wrong with cash or cash flow or a competition. My job, as a business owner, and I’ve got several jobs as a business owner, but one of them is to think about the things that could go wrong and can I avoid the drama attached to problems that pop up? Can I anticipate problems that might pop up and then minimize either the likelihood of them occurring or the cost in the event that they do? There’s a great story, regardless of how you feel about the guy today or his politics or anything else, there’s great story about Rudy Giuliani when he was mayor of New York and 9/11 happened. When he was being interviewed, after all the dust had settled, they asked him how the New York fire department and police and the emergency response that occurred at 9/011… How did that happen? Because it really was, given the surprise nature of that and the gravity of that, the response really was impressive. And Rudy said, look, we’ve got a room that’s filled with plans for what happens if somebody blows up a dirty nuke in New York Harbor, if somebody decides to sabotage the subway system or poison the water, we’ve got a whole set of plans for each one of those. We did not have a set of plans for what happens if somebody flies an airplane into a building.
He said, because we had all those plans, we were able to quickly cobble together this response to this particular event. And as a result, we were able to respond instead of react. Instead of it being a whack-a-mole, which is a drama. It’s exciting when it’s whack-a-mole, when it’s pin the tail on the donkey, that’s very, very exciting. But it’s very, very expensive. So what I want to do as a business owner, I know I’m going to make mistakes. What I want to do is have some… Or events will occur that I didn’t anticipate. What I want is I want some structure. I want some plans that give me the ability to avoid going into a state of emergency every time something unanticipated occurs. And it’s that state of emergency that creates the drama. And I will tell you, there are business owners out there that are addicted to the drama.
And the reason is because they get to be the hero. If there’s a lot of drama, they get to be significant. And it’s that addiction to being the hero and an addiction to significance that keeps things churning and the pot boiling and bubbling and running over. And it just creates a huge mess. And what you find… I’ll put this on a bumper sticker and then turn it back over to you. Opportunity without structure is chaos. The price for entrepreneurial success is structure. And there isn’t a single entrepreneur on the planet that likes that message. One of the reasons they are addicted to being an entrepreneur is because they think it gives them a license to be unstructured and kind of do whatever they want and create all this drama and there’s no structure. And then they wonder why the business that they’re trying to create is unsuccessful. The reason it’s unsuccessful is because they’re taking their water and pouring it on the floor instead of pouring it into a glass. And when you pour water into a glass, that’s structure and it gives you the ability to pass it around the room. So this idea of drama is actually a saboteur and it causes business owners to actually unwind the success that they’re looking for.
Mindie: It’s so true, Keith. I love that because I came from corporate America into the entrepreneur world. And so many of our clients who are entrepreneurs themselves, they just are so anti-structure and I’m like, it’s just not going to work. It’s just not going to work. You have to have that. So one of the segments of this show that we do with every one of our guests is called HERB. And we’ll walk you through the different letters to ask you about, for you personally, how do you do this in your life? So the H in HERB is habits. What are some of the habits that you have? And maybe thinking time probably would be in that list. What habits have helped you to develop into the success that you are today?
Keith Cunningham: Well, you are exactly right. Thinking time is a major piece of the habits. I think that habits are important. I was at lunch with a friend of mine and he’s written a book that’s very big on habits, and my book and a lot of my thinking is around how critical discipline is. And he asked me to make a distinction between habits and discipline. And I thought about it and came back to him and said, I think habits allow you to maintain. I think discipline is what allows you to improve. And so a habit that I have is a discipline around what can I do to get better? One of my favorite sayings, I think about this every day, is “Hell on earth would be to meet the man I could have been.” I don’t want that to happen. I want to be able to meet the man I could have been, look that guy in the eyeball and say, “I know you because I am you.” So a habit that I have is around what is it that I need to be doing or how do I need to be thinking? Or what do I need to add to my life in order to continue this process of fertilizing and growing Keith?
Sean: From the habits, let’s move into the E in the acronym, environments. What are some of the things that you make sure are present or not present in the environments around you?
Keith Cunningham: Probably the most important one is the people. People in my environment, and I will tell you there’s very few. I am highly restrictive with my time and who I will invest energy in. And the reason is because I know there’s a limited amount of me, so I, while I have a number of acquaintances and a number of friends, intimacy is precious to me. And so vulnerability is precious to me. So the most important part of my environment is Sandy. It is the very few people that I choose to engage with at a meaningful level. I think a critical part of my environment is how I’m treated or how people engage with me. So again, it comes back to the people and what I don’t want to have is people who either suck on me or leach me. I want people around me are people that are growing and are committed to getting better. And I need accountability, which to me is one of the cornerstones of success. And most people refuse to have it. They refuse to have accountability. They refuse to have someone around them that will tell them “no.” They refuse to have someone around them that will question them and hold them to the outcomes that were promised. And to me, that’s a critical, critical part of getting to who I want to be.
Mindie: So from the E to the R, the R stands for resources and that can be either books, programs, whatever type of resource. What are maybe a couple that you have used personally and would recommend to others?
Keith Cunningham: So I’m a huge reader. And I read two to three books a week and I have for 30 years. I read for content, I read for ideas. I don’t read the fluff, I just look for the big ideas. I take courses. That’s all part of feeding me. I’m well aware… You all are well aware of a number of teachers who, at one time, were meaningful. They added value and Oh, they got some success. It’s like some people who write music, they have one big or two big songs and then they never write another song and they try to live their entire life singing this old song. And I don’t want to be the guy who was a one-hit-wonder who just had one song. I know that me continuing to grow is a critical part of my effectiveness or relevance to the people that I want to study with.
So I have a top-five list of books that’s probably 50 books long because they keep getting into my top five. But I like books like, if you want specific books… Is that true? I like books like Good Strategy, Bad Strategy by a guy named Rumelt. I like a book called Execution by guy named Bossidy. I like a book called Boards That Lead by Ram Charan. I like books like The Road Less Stupid. That one happens to be one of my personal favorites right now. I like a book called Who by a man named Geoff Smart. And on a personal development level, and this will be probably somewhat controversial to you or your listeners, but I happen to… I stumbled across a book 25 years ago that probably saved my life. It’s a book called A Course in Miracles and I’ve done the course a number of times and I’m not as active with it today. Regardless of your theology or your philosophy, there is some incredible value in this book called A Course in Miracles. At the beginning of the book… And I found this book when I was going through my big financial dip, at the beginning of this book it says this: This is a required course and the only thing that’s optional is the time you choose to take it. Nothing real can be threatened. The only thing that’s real is love. Everything else is a call for love. Herein lies the peace of God. That idea, to me, is breathtaking.
So to me, resources is more than simply business resources. I’m a human being. I’ve got doubts and I’ve got fears and I’ve got personality quirks. And part of the growth that I have to do is not only from a business context, but also as a human being and I think that resource has probably been one of the most powerful to me.
Mindie: You are my spirit animal. Soul connection. It’s not controversial to us at all. That is fully in alignment with how we are, what we teach, what we do. So I love that you just brought that up. Thank you.
Sean: Keith, I feel like as we round out this acronym, the letter B for beliefs. I think this is one of your strongest of the four in my own personal opinion of you. You have so many awesome beliefs about life, about business, about marriage, about partnership, that I think could be a North star for a lot of the listeners. Can you share some of your own personal beliefs that you are proud that you have adopted and continue to maintain in your life these days?
Keith Cunningham: So this one is probably the hardest one for me. And you know, as I think about the beliefs that I have, for me, probably one of the most powerful is that I’m in charge and I’m responsible for the choices that I make or the reactions that I have. I get to decide and I’m responsible. I am not a victim. This isn’t… I love what Tony Robbins has to say about this. “This isn’t happening to me. This is happening for me.” And so when I have people come to me and say, how do you spin all these plates? I’ve got business, and I’ve got personal, and I’ve got friends and family, and people that I love and care about, and health… To me, it’s this idea of balance is a relatively debilitating concept. I would prefer to think of what I’m doing as choices as opposed to balance. My life is at times at a balance and it’s because of choices that I’m making and I think one of my jobs is to continue to refine and be conscious of the choices that I make and what I choose to prioritize. Because I happen to believe that those choices that I make are going to be what dictates the quality of my life. And I want to enhance the attractiveness of those choices, but I want to be conscious of those choices as well. I don’t want the thing to start tilting too far one way or the other. And I think I’m in control of that. That’s probably the biggest belief that I have. I believe I’m capable. I don’t always choose to act that way or to utilize my full capabilities, and when I do, I think it’s an opportunity for me to learn and get better. I believe that I’m a human being and not a human doing. I am not defined by what I do, I am defined by who I be. And I’m constantly working on what are the opportunities that are available to me to become a better version of Keith.
Sean: Keith, thank you for that. That is going to really help out, not just Mindie and I, but our listener. I’m curious. My final question for you is your younger self, if he had read The Road Less Stupid, would he have done any shit with it? Or would he have just said this old buzzard… He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. If you think back to your younger self, could he have even heard you?
Keith Cunningham: Probably not. That’s the truth. I think the younger version of me had way too much success and not enough stubbed toes.
Sean: So the reason why I asked you that, Keith, is because the one thing that I was constantly haunted by during your whole book, and I wanted to ask you… And I mean no offense by it. Do we need to take the road stupid to realize that we don’t need to take the road less stupid? Can we really go through life avoiding all the stupid things or are the stupid things a part of life? Like getting really meta here. Is stupid a necessary part of the road?
Keith Cunningham: Certainly for some people. And certainly for everyone, in certain circumstances. I think stupid mistakes are an inevitable part of the process. I think there are certain mistakes that I don’t need to make in order to know that those are dumb things. I do not need to do crack cocaine in order to understand crack is a bad idea. And I’ve never done crack, but I have done alcohol. And alcohol and I went to war and alcohol kicked my ass. There’s no other way to say it. And I, ultimately, had to come to the conclusion that I was not one of those people who had the ability to control that particular impulse. So that’s a mistake I had to make. And there’s a lot of derivatives that came from that particular mistake. Including, you know, some bad decisions along the way.
Some people are able to avoid that mistake. My job is not to avoid every single mistake. My job is to surround myself with people that I trust, that are smart, that have wisdom, that have a different point of view and can give me some guidance. And if I’m strong enough to be able to listen, and that’s the key. The reality is the younger version of Keith was not strong enough to listen and his need to be right was off the charts. And you take somebody who doesn’t want to listen because they’re so insecure about the validity of their own ideas. You take somebody who is unwilling to be vulnerable, which is another display of weakness. And I had that. And you throw all that in a pot and that’s why I couldn’t have heard it. I think if somebody is thoughtful and they’re around people that they trust and are wise and have made mistakes, they can probably hear some of these warning bells. At the very least, if they don’t hear the bell, if they would go away and think about it, they would come to some insights that would help guide them away from some of the stupid things that maybe they’ve done.
And that’s all any of us can do. How do I minimize it? Not how do I eliminate it? I’m not trying to be perfect. I’m trying to get better.
Mindie: So true. Keith, this has been absolutely awesome. If our listeners are interested in learning more from you, more about you, where can they go to find out more?
Keith Cunningham: Thank you. Go to Keys to the Vault at KeysToTheVault.com. We have information on our website. You certainly can send us an email at [email protected]. You can Google me and find us there. If you’re interested in continuing your journey and your education and you want a guide, I think I can help.
Mindie: Well, we certainly affirm that. It’ll probably be us signing up for all of your stuff going forward. We are just delighted to have you on this program. Thank you so much for your time, your thoughtfulness, your wisdom, sharing with us and our audience. We truly appreciate it.
Keith Cunningham: My pleasure.