Joe Polish is one of the most sought after marketers alive today. Known for his ability to connect with almost anyone on the planet, he leverages his networking prowess through his highly renowned Genius Network and GeniusX masterminds with household names like Peter Diamandis, Tony Robbins, Sir Richard Branson, and Steve Forbes sharing their wisdom with the groups.
With these programs, as well as his work as a consultant, Joe has helped to build thousands of businesses, generate hundreds of millions of dollars for his clients, and change the lives of many others through his charitable causes. Joe continues to be a prominent figure in the world of business and entrepreneurship, reaching people not only through his business endeavors, but through his various books and podcasts as well.
Mindie: My guest today is my dear friend, Joe Polish. Joe, welcome to The Lucrative Society.
Joe: Nice to be here, Mindie. Thank you.
Mindie: Yeah, I’m super excited about this conversation because I want to get into some kind of not usual things that I talk about on this show, specifically because you and I have had some really interesting, powerful experiences together. And the one that I want to begin with is you were there the night that Sean died.
Mindie: You were there with us at the hospital. You basically had come over as soon as you could, which was awesome. And to set the stage a little bit for my question, Sean had passed away during surgery, and then the doctor had come out to talk to us and to tell us what had happened. And the doctor said, “We’re going to clean him up a little bit, and then you can go back and see him and say your goodbyes, which we did. You then said something really fascinating to me. You said, “You know what? I don’t consider myself a spiritual person, but that…”, as in going to see Sean, “…was a spiritual experience.” I want to know what you meant by that.
Joe: Well, when Sean was in the– He was in one hospital first, and then he had to be Air Evaced to the hospital with a trauma center where they were going to do the surgery to try to relieve the pressure on his brain from the hematomin I think you call it.
Joe: Yeah, because of the fall. And he had said to me and you that line that we both heard before, but just the way he had said it, he said, “This is not happening to me, this is happening for me.” But I didn’t hear that, I asked him to repeat, I’m like, “What did you say?”, and you were right on the other side of the bed with me. And he prior to that, Sean had been kind of dozing in and out because of the pain and medications, and he seemed, from my experience and my memory, very lucid in that moment. He said that, and then he went right back into that pain state. And it was a real sort of eerie, surreal thing for me to experience that because he kind of was dipping in and out of a different sort of consciousness. And I have no idea what sort of pain he was experiencing; we weren’t in his body. And it was kind of agonizing seeing him in pain, and then when they had to incubate him, which you didn’t want to have done but had to be done in order for them to–
Joe: I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Let me mispronounce every medical sort of thing that I possibly could during this.
Mindie: It’s okay, Joe. You know I got you in that department.
Joe: Yeah. We’re here for the “How to Correct Joe with Grammar Show”. So, it’s interesting because I never did, I didn’t know how to pronounce it, which is sort of funny even to this day.
Mindie: Well, intubate is different than incubate.
Joe: Yeah. You are absolutely right. Intubate.
Mindie: Sean was intubated.
Joe: Yeah. He’s got to be looking down if he’s up there somewhere. If there is the afterlife, Mindie, he’s looking down just laughing his ass off right now.
Mindie: I’m pretty sure he’s right here with us laughing his ass off at like, “Okay, Mindie, this is–”
Joe: Yeah. And I don’t know, there was just something where he knew. He just sort of knew, but his consciousness yet, he was still in like the halfway between the passing on world and the holding on world was my sense of it. And I thought he was going to be okay. I think we all thought he was going to be okay because when the neurosurgeon came out, I thought he was a very friendly, nice guy. And we told him who he was and how many lives he had impacted and he’s like, “Yeah, we’ll take care of him. We’ll do the best we can.” And then when he walked out with that team of people to let us– I mean, as soon as he walked out, I just knew something was wrong.
Mindie: We knew.
Joe: There was like an energy there, right?
Joe: And it was just like whew. So to answer your question, because of that, I don’t know how much time had elapsed between when we were at the prior hospital and he had said– You know, he was on that stretcher and he was sitting up against the back and all the pain and he had said, “This is not happening to me, this is happening for me.” There was something about how he said it, about the state that he was in prior to saying it, and how he became very sort of focused and said that with conviction. I mean, he said it powerfully. And then he went right back into that– It’s almost like a person who’s sort of going to sleep or passing out. They have a moment of total awareness and focus, they say something profound, and then boom, right back into it. And then went into that state. And so there was just a feeling and an energy that I don’t know how to explain. And yeah, I don’t know how to think about this from an afterlife, a spiritual sort of thing. Yeah, that’s about as close to like, “Wow, there’s something going on here that you could ever experience, that I could ever experience.”
Mindie: Yeah. I mean, one of the reasons I wanted to ask you about that is because everything I do, like my work, my play, my life, it’s all based in my spiritual experience, like 100% of it. There’s nothing that is separate or outside of that. And so I’m so curious for you, like, how did that affect you going forward having had that surreal, whatever that was?
Joe: I think Sean was trying to communicate something to us from a different sort of realm than just what we consider normal consciousness on earth. And I’m a guy who my mother was a former nun. I was raised Catholic, I spent thousands of hours of my life praying to a God that I’d never really feel. I’m not going to try to explain what my beliefs are because I don’t know what they fully are, right? I just believe that something does not come from nothing, so something created this. Is that a Supreme Intelligence? Is that an energy? Is it science? I don’t know. And I’ve always liked to say, “Lord, help me search for the truth, but spare me the company of those that have already found it”, which my friend Ned Hallowell told me. And there’s a lot of people that try to position themselves as spiritual that are weird and strange from my perspective and–
Mindie: Yeah, and total assholes.
Joe: Yeah, and I’ve done some pretty interesting experiences that have taken me to different levels of consciousness. I mean, I’m a guy who spent many, many years in addiction, and which is where I spend half my time now trying to help people with recovery and whatnot. And, yeah, there was something about– But, you know, Sean was a different sort of human. He was a different sort of being. I’ve never met anyone quite like Sean who had that shell that was his body, and that vessel, and the power, and insight, and goofiness, and everything in between that emerged out of it. Me and Sean have been with each other in our most broken states, crying and all fucked up to having the most in-depth, I would like to think very conscious, caring sort of conversations. I mean, we were both angry and annoyed. We could be spiteful and pissed at other people and stuff, and other times just the most caring and loving. And I just felt he was just such a good human that had incredible obstacles to overcome that I don’t think many people could, and here’s a guy who transcended it. And I think with everything that happened, with this year going into COVID, and how long has it been now? It’s been one year and almost a month…
Joe: …I guess since Sean passed away at the time we’re having this conversation. And it’s almost like I think he was sort of ready on a spiritual level, probably not on a physical level because certainly when he was there, we could see the fear. I mean, when he called me from the car with you and on FaceTime and said, “Can you come to the hospital? I fell down again”, it was almost five years ago to the day, maybe like a few days apart he had had the same fall. And the day prior to that, on Facebook, it reminds you, and that picture pops up and then me and him had had crude messages back and forth with Jim Dew, one of our friends, which surprisingly, Jim’s coming over my house tonight for dinner with his wife, Mimi, which is interesting if you just think about piecing it together.
Mindie: It’s not surprising at all.
Joe: Yeah, Sean’s setting it up. But yeah, I don’t know, I mean, that was a very surreal, interesting, tragic, and simultaneously beautiful experience in a lot of ways. Just the pain and the suffering that guy went through. And that was one hell of an agonizing night that I spent a lot of time having a difficult time processing, not knowing how to process it, probably avoiding a lot of the processing, probably a lot of it I still haven’t fully learned the lessons from it, but yeah, it was definitely not of this earth sort of feeling. There was something else there. And I don’t know how to explain that nor am I going to pretend to try to fabricate something to make it sound like it was something that– A lot of it I don’t know how to explain it. It was just an interesting energy that was throughout that whole time. Even after he passed away, there was, you know, looking at our friend, your husband, a guy who I considered one of my best friends, if not my best friend, and yeah, it was interesting. It was crazy.
Mindie: It was all of those things but I want to point something out to you, if you have not seen the correlation prior to this is that you, too, have overcome and gotten through things that probably most people wouldn’t be able to do. Actually, I’ll just ask you to talk about it because some of our listeners may not know you as well as I know you. Can you give them just – I know it’s a big story, but maybe kind of the brushstrokes of your experience?
Joe: Yeah, and let me say all this, that I am a guy who goes through stages of enormous gratitude and pinching myself with what I have in my life. And I feel very lucky and very fortunate from where I was born to the fact that I don’t have any massive, major handicaps other than I’ve had a lot of mental issues, and that comes from trauma. So I mean, my quick version of my story, I mean, I’m an entrepreneur, I’m a business owner and all that stuff. How the atmospheric conditions of my life as my friend, Don Wood says, “If you understood the atmospheric conditions of somebody’s life, it would make sense to why they’re the way they are.” And so my mother died when I was four years old. My father loved her to death. I had one older brother, four and a half years older than me. Totally broke my father’s heart. He didn’t know how to cope with it. He, unfortunately, kind of lived a tormented life ever since. He never really recovered from my mother’s death, which left him with two kids that he frankly didn’t know kind of how to raise them, so he did the best he knew how to do. He was a locksmith. Every one year to two years, my entire childhood, we would move because my father couldn’t settle down. He was always trying to find a place that he felt okay after my mom died, and he never found that place.
I was incredibly shy and introverted and I think part of me didn’t know how– I didn’t understand this until many years later in life, that what’s a four-year-old to interpret a mom who’s there one day and one day the mom is gone? She died of some form of stomach cancer. You know, that was abandonment, but not that my mother– As far as I know, my mother never drank, never smoked. How did she get cancer? Why did she get cancer? And I relate things back to even disease and stuff today are either external or internal toxins, either overwhelming trauma, emotions, perceptions, how you view and see and experience the world or you’re being exposed to poisons. I don’t think a body just gets sick. People can argue all kinds of reasons why, talk about genetics and various other things, and I’m sure there are many factors, I have no clue about what causes what, but something happened to my mother, I don’t know what it was. So she died, and then throughout my childhood, I was getting picked on a lot, bullied. Between the ages 8 to 10 years old, I was being molested by somebody. I was raped. I was paid money not to say anything. So I had no mother, a female upbringing, so even becoming a teenager and an adult, I never had a model of a healthy relationship, what sex was. Sex to me was something shameful and dirty, not an intimate act of love and oneness. So my whole life has had a little bit of that scar tissue. I’ve done a ton of seminars and therapy and recovery work.
And so I became a drug addict very early in life. Between the ages of 16 to 18, I was smoking pot almost daily for a couple of years, snorting cocaine, snorting speed, freebasing, crystal meth, psychedelics. I mean, lots of LSD before the age of 18, drinking, smoking, the whole works, and I was a troublemaker. I wasn’t a mean person, I still was a guy that in school if I saw people fighting each other, even though I was skinny, and not physically strong, I would try to break up fights if it wasn’t going to get me killed. I didn’t like seeing people hurt each other. So it was a mixed thing. I mean, part of me was rebellious and wanted to be like, “Screw you”, because I felt throughout my whole life, I was just getting crapped on and getting fucked with. And there was another part of me that’s just trying to be a decent person.
So, I was a drug dealer when I was doing drugs because that’s the only way I could get drugs. So there were things like that, that I wasn’t– I mean, everyone falls into that sort of trap if you’re an addict, and I didn’t understand it, but my response then was, “I was just in pain.” I mean, I believe addiction is a response to pain. It’s an attempt to soothe, and I was very disconnected. And through getting high and altering my biochemistry, my state– I mean, cocaine is great for someone that’s depleted in dopamine. It shoots the dopamine up, makes you feel really good in the moment, but then you’re paranoid as hell and it was– So I really did a lot of damage to my body. My worst state when I was 18 years old and weighed 105 pounds one week. I remember I had not eaten hardly anything for about a week. On average, I was weighing about 120 pounds, but there was one week where I was, I remember getting on the scale as 105 pounds. I didn’t try to weigh myself too much back then because I was just– You know, when you’re 5’10”, an 18-year-old male, that’s pretty skinny.
Mindie: That’s really skinny.
Joe: Yeah, and I remember looking in the mirror one day, and I looked like a skeleton, and I was just like, “Oh my God”, but I was addicted. And part of that was in high school, I went from being this shy, introverted guy, to getting high, and for some reason, it took away the fear, it took away the anxiety, and I started to be able to interact. I became one of the most popular people in my high school, not by music, or sports, or some sort of academic skills, by being a partier, and being able to mingle. And then this one kid – I had a cold one day, I had a sore throat, and this guy who I thought was one of my best friends out of the blue– Let me back up. A couple days prior, we would always go to lunch, and he was driving, he had this VW Bug. Literally out of if anyone remembers movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High, I mean, that was that sort of thing back then. And you know, get high in this VW bus and he just took off. We would always go to these fast food places like pizza places, Taco Bell, McDonald’s, I mean, the worst food you could ever possibly eat, but that’s the crap we were eating for lunch. And I went to Dobson High School in Mesa, Arizona and he just took off and left and I had to walk half a mile back to high school, like, for no reason. It was like just being a typical young asshole. And something happened there but this kid just somehow just decided to have some issue with me for I knew no reason why. And then when I was walking to my locker a couple days later, and I remember being really– I had a cold, and out of the blue, I just see someone come out of the blue and just punch me right in the face from the side and then jumps on top of me and just starts wailing on my face. And I finally get the guy off me, and I’m a guy doing drugs every day and stuff. I’m not a fighter. I’m not into sports. And he had split my eyebrow open, so I had all this blood pouring into my right eye and I’m just like, “What the hell?”
And so what happened is I went from having all of these friends and we were friends together, half of them were sided with me and were like, “What the hell?”, the other, whatever story he manufactured, and I saw these people that I thought were my friends and it was just a bunch of high school bullying weird games and I felt like, “Man, who are people?” And it was my first sort of, “God, who are your friends? What is a friendship? What is this shit? I didn’t even do anything.” So I went deeply into doing drugs as a way to just cope with the pain of it all, just the angst of it all. And that led into my– When I was 18 years old, the year I graduated, went into the summer and I remember when during the graduation ceremony, instead of walking and accepting the graduation certificate, I was watching the graduation which was in the football stadium, from a friend’s backyard that was right up against the high school field, and I was freebasing cocaine watching my high school graduation walk and I just had that pointed like, screw it. And that led into me just spending that summer every single day doing coke, and it got really bad.
There was one period where I mean, I don’t want to drag out this story too much, but I was living with a couple of different people that were doing drugs and one of them is an interesting story. I don’t tell this one too much. But this guy, I have no idea whatever happened to him. His name was Dan. I have no idea what his last name was. I can’t remember. This was 30 freakin’ years ago. He had been busted for selling drugs, and he was in the process of having to go to court. And I came home and one day and he’s like, over the sink with a glass pipe smoking coke and he had an appearance in court the next day on drug charges. And I was like, “Dude, really stop this and try to go to bed man. This is like really messed up.” And I go to bed and I wake up in the morning and I go downstairs. The guy is in a three-piece suit sweating, still smoking a pipe in a rush because his lawyer is waiting outside to take him to court to appear for drug charges. Now, it didn’t occur to me then, but looking back now, that is what addiction is. Most people would say what an idiot, what an asshole, that sort of stuff. That is a person who the need to get high and try to escape from that was stronger than– No rational person would do that. This guy was not a rocket scientist by any means but he wasn’t a dummy either. I remember that this guy wasn’t an idiot, right? He was just an addict. He was an addict. But he was crazy, and he was out of control, and he started to get violent. And so he went to court and they were you know– I come home a couple days later and he’s out on bail, and I’m watching television with a friend over and this guy just comes into the condo with a can of lighter fluid, starts spraying it everywhere, and I had long hair at the time, spraying it everywhere and I have lighter fluid dripping down my forehead. And this guy had just put lighter fluid all over the house and he holds up a lighter and lights it, “I’m going to fucking torch this–” and screaming. And I’m like, “Put it down”, talking this guy down. If this guy would have torched it, we would have all been in flames. The whole condo.
Joe: And I’m sitting there going, “This is my life? This is crazy. I got to get the hell out of here.” And so the next day, I packed up all the stuff I could. I was a drug addict. I drove to New Mexico and I ended up living in a trailer with my father and got clean in the first six months where I didn’t go to any treatment centers. I was taking Tylenol or aspirin every day because the headaches were insane. The withdrawal symptoms were terrible. But I literally cut off all access to all my friends and so it was an environment change. I mean, if I was around any of the people I was around, I would have figured out a way to continue to be an addict. So I had to go through that grueling thing. I ended up getting a job delivering newspapers in a truck, like adult newspaper routes. And then I got a job at a gym selling health club memberships and I started working out for the first time in my life. I went to New Mexico State University, got all A’s, I got a job. I was working at this gym selling health club memberships and someone there ran a mental hospital and offered me a position to be a mental health tech and I ended up going and working in a mental health hospital and I would take the patients that were there for addiction. There was the adult ward, the adolescent ward, and people were there for mental illness – depression, some suicides, cutters, addicts. And one of the things that they would have me do is drive the addicts, the alcoholics to AA meetings for Alcoholics Anonymous, NA meetings, Narcotics Anonymous, CA meetings, cocaine anonymous. And I sat in on those meetings and listened to the people tell their stories, not realizing how much impact that would not only have on me in my life then, but also later on in life.
Mindie: Whew! I love this story so much, Joe because it’s such a perfect example of what I call HeartPath™. My thing is, you’re always on the right path, even when you’re screwing up and freebasing cocaine and messing around, that was leading you to the next thing and then to the next thing and to the next thing. And what you have created today, I want to ask you about because it is so powerful. You said earlier when you were introducing yourself on the show, you’re like, “Yeah, I’m an entrepreneur. Hello.” Like you’re not just an entrepreneur, you have created the biggest networking thing that there is, like ever. So we’re not just talking your standard everyday little business. You have created so much in that but you’ve also then, in the last number of years, done so much work with addiction, continuing to help people and serve people so broadly. So all of that crap that you went through, really developed you into the person to be able to do that.
Joe: Yes. Looking back, I hated so much of my life, from the angst and the anxiety and the stress. Even when I had things that were good, there was always a dark cloud that seemed to be over me. A lot of depression, a lot of suicidal ideation. I never tried to commit suicide, but I’ve spent God knows how many countless hundreds of hours maybe thousands contemplating not existing while simultaneously trying to be so grateful, saying the words, uttering the words, but feeling like, “Who am I to– There are so many people in this world that goes through so much pain, why am I not happy? Why can I not be satisfied?”, that sort of stuff, which is very hard when you’re conflicted with yourself. You can, on one hand, say you have something that people would do anything to have, and you’re sitting there feeling unfulfilled, or bitching about it, right? So all of those experiences or looking back, even as hard as they were, I couldn’t do any of the stuff I do with addicts today had that not happened. So all of this is raw material. All these things in life that if it doesn’t kill you– There’s a lot to be said that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger in some cases.
Mindie: Well, you know what Sean’s phrase was, “What doesn’t kill you raises your speaker fee.”
Joe: [Laughing] Ain’t that the truth, right? You know, here’s the funny thing about that, too, though. I’ve often said a lot is, a lot of people want to hear my “Oh, what happened to you as a kid and here’s all this stuff” and they certainly can resonate with it. And I try to be careful to what degree I say it because it’s really easy to get caught up in woundology. If you walk around talking about how bad things were and everything– I mean, there are people that have experienced stuff that I can’t even imagine that are so admirable. Sean Stephenson is an example, and there’s plenty of shit in your life that is– So we all have our battles. Everyone has their battles. Some are dealt a different deck of cards, stack of cards than other people. And for me, all the things that I used to think were a curse, I now actually have seen a lot of them as a blessing. There are still some things that I’m like, “What the fuck? Why did this happen?” I’d like to think that every person, I try to think of them as that little kid that, got hurt, and grew up to make bad decisions. And that’s the problem as you know, Mindie, about understanding a lot about psychology, once you know the cause of so many things it makes sense, right?
Mindie: Exactly. I call that tracing the psychology. You can always trace it back to the shit that went down. So let me ask you about this, Joe because this is so pertinent. The reason why I started this whole show, and the conversations that I have with a lot of people on this show, it’s really about a relationship with money because you know my story, I had all the worst things that could possibly happen in the financial realm happen, and I’m constantly learning, growing, developing myself in that capacity. And you said something once, and I want to remind you of this and then ask you a question about it. Sean and you and I were together, we were having lunch or something. And we were walking back to our cars, and you had just recently at that time, bought a new Tesla. So Sean, of course, car guy, was like, “Ooh, yeah, let me check out your car. Let me see it.” And you had said, “Oh, yeah, and I paid cash for it.” And Sean said, “Oh, to have the type of money that Joe Polish has.” And then you go, “Yes, but that would come with the problems that Joe Polish has.” And what I want to ask you about because I love just hearing different opinions on this, how in the heck do you, coming from that perspective, how do you define wealth? What is wealth to you?
Joe: Yeah, that’s wealth from a money standpoint, and just simply making money. I have this thing that Dean Jackson helped me come up with, which is “I know I’m being successful when…”. So when it comes to money, you’re not successful or unsuccessful, you’re successful when certain things exist in your life. Like if I started freebasing cocaine tomorrow, no matter how much money I have, in two weeks, if I stay with it, anything that you would call successful is going to be either gone or heavily compromised, right, even if I have a ton of money. And so the thing about wealth, I think of wealth now, not just financial wealth, but there’s spiritual wealth, there’s physical wealth. I always loved the proverb, “He or she who has their health has 1000 dreams. He or she who does not, has only one.” So if I was laid up in a hospital bed, I would give everything. I’ll tell you a story about wealth.
So I’ve done this a few times in seminars. I don’t do it too much but I’ve done it a few times, depending on the audience. And sometimes people want me to talk about different things – how to connect with people, how to meet famous people, all that sort of stuff because if you know, I know a lot of well-known people. And other times, marketing and making money. I’d much rather talk about all the other stuff other than marketing and making money, although those are the things that are probably most practical that I could teach people. So I remember giving this one talk, first time I did, and I said, “By a show of hands, how many of you in the room are worth a million dollars?”, and a few people raised their hands. “Anyone here worth five million?”, a couple people. “Anyone worth 10 million or more?” I think there was one person in the back and there was a few hundred people in this audience. And I said, “Okay.” I go, “How many of you would like to be worth a million dollars or more?”, a bunch of show of hands. I said, “Okay. How many of you would like me to give you a million dollars?” Everyone raises their hand, almost everyone. I’m like, “Okay, what if I give you a million dollars if you pluck out an eyeball? How many of you would do that?” No one raised their hand. I go, “Okay, so your eyeballs are worth more than a million bucks.” I go, “How about five million? Anyone? 10 million?” No, no one. “Anyone? Would you chop off one of your legs for 50 million bucks?”, no one. I go, “Interesting. You’re already worth more than a million dollars, aren’t you? So you sit here all day wishing you have this, but you have things that people that don’t have those would do anything, to have vision, to have hearing, to have legs, to have the ability to do stuff. And we just take for granted just how amazing life is because I could be blind. And when I feel crappy, as crazy as this sounds, I will sit and say, “I’m not blind. There are people that have to get through life every day dealing with things that I have no clue–“ That was one of the things that I so admired about Sean. I mean, how in the hell he maintained such a happy attitude– I’ll sit and find myself bitching about stuff in the middle of luxury, and here’s this guy, 200 broken bones in his body, having to deal with ridicule his whole life, self-confidence, self-esteem issues–
Mindie: Listen, Joe, you know that he bitched as well.
Joe: Oh yeah. No, Sean was a master at– But the thing is, you can use comparison to make yourself miserable if you compare to what you don’t have, or you can use it actually, to give you some perspective based on what you do have, right? It’s all how you use it because a good way to be miserable is comparing yourself to other people. The thing is, is doing the best you can. So as far as wealth, I look at health, wealth, and ELF. (Easy, Lucrative, & Fun) I can’t speak today, Mindie for some reason. Even my own stuff I can’t even say right. So yeah, so health, we got physical and mental health, right. And then we’ve got wealth, not only making money but being able to manage it, which are two different skill sets.
Mindie: We just call Jim Dew for that. So–
Mindie: He’s been on this show already, so everybody knows him.
Joe: Yeah, no, he’s great. He’s great. And so I want to have enough money, so I no longer have any problems that money can solve. And then I have to deal with the ones that money can’t solve. Like you like Jim Rohn said, “You can’t pay someone to do your push-ups for you.” So, the more famous you are, the more money you make, the more responsibility you take on, the bigger of a target you are. I’m in a weird place right now in my life where I like the personal development industry; I just don’t like most of the people that are in it. And when I say don’t like them, it’s not like I resent them. I just don’t like the fakeness of it all.
Mindie: Agreed. Thank you.
Joe: There are some great technologies and there are some wonderful lessons and learning. And a person seeking to better their life and personally develop themselves is wonderful. I just don’t like the amount of thievery. There’s so much disrespect of ideas, people stealing other people’s IP, people that are really famous and have millions of followers that put their name on quotes that they never said. I mean, there’s just a lot of disrespect and there’s a lot–
Mindie: Yeah, it drives me crazy.
Joe: Yeah, it drives me nuts. And part of it is because there’s a lot of exploitation of vulnerabilities and I don’t like that because there’s a lot of people that are just trying to get through life. There’s a saying I heard growing up that I used a lot as a guidepost is, “Be nice to the people you meet on the way up; they’re the same people you meet on the way down.” I change it a little bit now about “Respect the people you meet on the way up; they’re the same people you meet on the way down” because you can be really kind to people that will just turn around and screw you. So my cautionary tale is be a giver. Life gives to the giver and takes from the taker. Just be selective of who you give to. If you notice yourself giving and being useful, which you should always be, always give people the benefit of the doubt. But if you see them hurting others, exploiting others– I mean, people that really become part of my inner circle are who are people that are more powerful? How do they treat people that are less powerful than them? And if I see them not saying thank you if someone holds open the door, or being rude to a server at a restaurant, they’ll be rude to anyone. Yeah, so that’s who becomes my friend.
And so as far as wealth, I mean, making money is a good thing. People that say money can’t buy happiness, it’s in this trailer for this– Someone made a movie on my life called Connected: The Joe Polish Story, and it opens up with them asking me about money. And I say, “People that say money can’t buy happiness is kind of a stupid question because I buy happiness all the time.” Again, that has to be taken in the right context, though. Money can buy a lot of fake friends if you think it’s buying relationships. However, if you’re a miserable human, but you have money and someone needs medical care or needs food because they’re starving, it may not make you happy, but it’ll sure as hell make other people happy. So people that say money can’t buy happiness, have not given enough of it away or applied it in the right way. And that is a big difference between giving back. There’s a whole thing about give back. If I take your shoes, I should give them back. If I’ve not taken anything from somebody, there’s nothing to give back. So I’m all for giving; what I’m not for is being guilted into giving because some parasitical person is trying to act like they’re some holier than thou person and that you should care about their cause or their mission or whatever.
So I believe true wealth comes into– Money earned ethically is a byproduct of value creation. You can make money without creating value for other people. You can certainly exploit people. You can sell crap in a box. There’s plenty of things you can point to. However, most business owners, most entrepreneurs, most people I know are just really hard-working people trying to make a living, employing people, and I don’t like all of the vilification of business owners or all the anti-capitalistic sort of– Yeah, there’s a lot of corporatism. Yeah, there’s a lot of people that you can say, under the umbrella of capitalism are exploiting people, and at the same time, in its purest form, capitalism is exchanging money for value; it’s a collaboration. And when you’re taking from someone, and you’re leaving them in a worse position– I mean, I wouldn’t sell pornography, I wouldn’t sell tobacco, at least cigarettes. There actually are medicinal uses of tobacco. But there’s a lot of shit that’s sold in the world, a lot of poisons, a lot of terrible foods that are package marketing. Even though I’ve spent my life in marketing, there’s a lot of people that use marketing in bad ways, and there’s a lot of people that use it in amazing ways because marketing is storytelling. Marketing is what you say and who you say it to. And you could be the best, most caring person in the world, but there’s no relationship between being good and getting paid.
Mindie: I wish you could have taught me that sooner in my life. I know. I know. I know.
Joe: Yeah. So I mean, I don’t know if there’s a simple, easy, quick way to– You know, wealth to me, at this point in my life is I’ll read this to you, Mindie because you may have heard me say this before about three years ago. Let me see if I can find it. I have to find it and one of my photos here, but I opened up one of my Genius Network annual events with this. This had just recently happened, and it was a picture of a guy holding up a piece of letterhead written in German on German stationery from a hotel. And it was this letter from Einstein and there were these two autographed notes which Einstein offered his thoughts on how to live a happy and fulfilling life. And they sold at a Jerusalem auction house for a combined $1.8 million. And one of the notes which was estimated to sell for between 5000 to 8000, the letter, just the letter in Einstein’s handwriting, this one particular note sold for $1.56 million. So what I’m about to read, someone paid one and a half million dollars for this note because of Einstein writing it. And it basically said, “A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.” I’ll read that, again, “A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.” And I’m a guy that spent most of his life where I will trade pain for productivity. I will trade peace for productivity. I will suffer in order to try to achieve something, and I don’t know how conscious that is. I really don’t.
The stuff I do with addicts, I spend about half my life right now, make no money off of it. I actually funded it. I’ve spent about $600,000 out of my own pocket in the last four or five years building educational platforms, GeniusRecovery.org and Artists For Addicts, and all the stuff I’ve done. I’ve been offered money from rehab centers if we will promote them, which I won’t because many of them are super exploitive, not that rehab centers all are bad. Some are really good, some are horrible and exploitive. But I’m just like, I want to be able to provide stuff as much as possible to people that struggle with addiction that don’t have money because I’m in a fortunate position where I actually learned how to do okay in business, and a lot of people they haven’t. So my goal is to change the global conversation about how people view and treat addicts with compassion instead of judgment and find the best forms of treatment that have efficacy and share those with the world. So I can use my marketing skills to get that message out.
Now, as it comes back to wealth and that note, I thought about it for a long time, like, “Okay, so if you don’t have a constant restless life, but what if you’re trying to do something big in the world?” In order for me to change the global conversation about how people view and treat addicts, and if that’s an important thing for me to do, and I’ve attached meaning because we’re all meaning makers. I mean, at the end of the day, I can say, “No, this is really important”, and someone could go like, “Whatever, it’s important to you, but you’re going to die, and who gives a shit?” But to me, it’s like, you know what? There are a lot of suffering people and I really don’t like to see human suffering. And I kind of understand from my vantage point, what it’s like to be an addict. It’s miserable. It is real human suffering. And I think I know ways to relieve it, and in some cases, eliminate it because I’ve been in recovery for 20 years. So I go back and forth on that.
If you want to be an achiever, there’s a trade-off. It’s not easy to build a business. Amateurs wait for inspiration, professionals do it with a headache. I mean, there are some days where you wake up and you go to war. And also, I understand a lot about workaholism because I’ve been a total workaholic for many parts of my life, and workaholism is a respectable addiction. I know performance addiction. All these famous people, man, If you only knew how addicted some of these people were, not just to behaviors, but to chemicals and things like that. And so like next year, I’m taking the whole year as a sabbatical. I’m taking the year off.
Mindie: I love that for you. I love that for you. That’s so good, and so well deserved. So, Joe, this has been amazing. And of course, we could talk about a million other things but I want to leave our audience with just a trail of breadcrumbs of where they can learn more about you. Anybody that I don’t know how they possibly could have not heard about you if they’re listening to this show, but if someone is new to your world for some reason, where would you like them to go? And also, I’d like you to mention you have your annual event coming up, so let’s talk a little bit about that.
Joe: Well, the annual event, so I run probably the highest level group in the world for industry transformers. A lot of heavy emphasis on positioning and packaging and marketing, but what I do is we build a better entrepreneur, so I have a tribe of leaders. It’s like I bring a bunch of thoroughbreds together and just teach them how to be better racehorses, and so we do an annual event every year. This year, it’s November sixth, seventh and eighth. It’s going to be virtual obviously because of the pandemic. And so if people want information on that, it’s GeniusNetworkEvents.com. It’s for people that run a million-dollar plus a year business, so that’s not everybody. And if someone’s not a right fit for that, I have a ton of just great podcasts and free resources that really are not disguised sales pitches. Most people that benefit from what I do never pay me anything, never will pay me anything and I put a lot of stuff out there.
So I have the I Love Marketing podcast that I do with Dean Jackson, I have the 10x Talk podcast I do with Dan Sullivan, and then I’ve got all my Genius Network members that we have the Genius Network podcast. So if someone just types in Joe Polish into iTunes, they’ll find all that, or wherever they listen to podcasts. Like nail polish, Joe Polish, easy name. For recovery, anyone that’s suffering from addiction or has a family member, GeniusRecovery.org. Read the open letter. It’s short, it gives my viewpoints on addiction, links to every type of meeting, all kinds of addictions, it’s all free. The only thing that even remotely we sell is a book that I wrote with Hal Elrod and Anna David called The Miracle Morning for Addiction Recovery. People can get that on Amazon. But the easiest thing, my name is my website, which links to everything, JoePolish.com. The easiest thing is just I have a book called Life Gives to the Giver, and just go to JoesFreeBook.com. It won’t put you into any sort of like, you know, in order to get anything good you’re put into an upsell sequence, and you have to buy 14 things before you–
Joe: You can download the book and not buy anything from me. If you want the physical copy, you can pay for shipping and handling. You’re not going to be enrolled in some sort of monthly membership or anything like that. It’s a free book, and it’s really good. And people love that book. It’s very short musings on marketing, on addiction, on life, on health, and it’s just my thoughts. And then people can subscribe to my three a week emails which are really good. I put a lot of work into them and people love them. But yeah, JoesFreeBook.com, that’s the easiest probably place to go. And yeah, I just hope that if anyone has anyone struggling with addiction, that’s my biggest thing. I’ve got plenty of business stuff out there that I’ve transformed many people’s lives in business and whatnot but that’s sort of my thing.
Mindie: Well, you definitely transformed mine and Sean’s life in business for sure, so I’m super grateful for that. I’m super grateful for you and also for your time and the stories today. Thank you so much.
Joe: You are welcome.