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Kaizen Coaching: Finding Your Own Definition Of Success With Isaac Stegman

FIF 18 | Kaizen Coaching

We often fall trap into thinking that happiness is dependent on the amount of money we have. Yet, many could attest to how that is not the case at all. There are those who are successful who find themselves miserable, and there are also those who may not have that much money but find themselves happy and even successful as they are. Fireman Rob investigates what truly makes one happy and successful with the help of today's guest, Isaac Stegman. Isaac is the founder and CEO of Kaizen Unlimited Training & Coaching. Here, Isaac shares Kaizen's whole-person approach to coaching and how they made it part of their program to refocus on the individual's definitions of success rather than one metric of money. He also takes us across his life as part of the 82nd Airborne Division and the lessons it taught him as far as being a coach and starting his coaching business. He shares about finding your passions, defining your own success, and learning how to adapt and thrive in different situations. Isaac gives more wisdom, insights, and advice in this conversation.


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Kaizen Coaching: Finding Your Own Definition Of Success With Isaac Stegman

As I've had some other guests on, this guest is no different. He's amazing. He's got a backstory. He was in the 82nd Airborne. He was a firefighter. He has this great coaching platform, Kaizen Coaching. Isaac, it's great to have you on.

Thanks, Rob. I appreciate you inviting me.

Isaac, you and I have talked a lot and I'm working with Kaizen Coaching. You have such an amazing platform. I'd love to give you that time to be able to tell us more about the background. You talk about Kaizen Coaching, it's a whole-person approach to coaching. Tell me more about that.

It is the whole-person approach. I've been part of coaching organizations. I've been coached and I've been coaching people, mentoring people when I was eighteen years old and stopped working at a zoo and at UPS at 3:30 in the morning, loading trucks. I started my first real job selling knives for Cutco. That was a great experience for me. I went into the interview not knowing what it was. I came out of the interview still not knowing what it was but thinking, “If they're going to pay me $10 an hour per appointment, I don't need to be able to sell anything. I'll work my butt off and make the money that I didn't make for college.” At that point, that got me into the world of mentoring, coaching and personal development and I fell in love with it.

Ever since then, even though the military, fire service and the other things that I've done, that whole mentoring and coaching component has been important. I didn't start the coaching company until about years ago, and that was with my friend, Jeff Latham. He said, “We should start a coaching company. We've always talked about it. We both have the opportunity.” We did. When we started it, we decided we wanted to focus on not making more money because we knew a lot of people who made a ton of money and were still miserable people, who I didn't want to be like. I knew a lot of people that didn't make that much money who are also incredible human beings.

We knew that wasn't a consistent factor if they have to make a lot of money in order to be happy. What I did find is if they felt stuck, trapped or money was the only thing in control of them, that was leading people down the path of not being fulfilled and not having joy. We made it from day one part of our coaching program that we're going to focus on not one metric of money. We're going to focus on individual success and happiness and letting that person redefine their own success instead of telling them what it looks like for them.

That's such a great point. When you were in the 82nd Airborne, how did some of those life lessons that you had going through training? After you're done with training, how did that correlate to how you coach?

First of all, it's not easy. In the last study I saw, 44% of leaders in business are Millennials. Most of those people weren't in a leadership position in 2008, 2010 when things were challenging in the economy. It's all been uphill. It's been whoever can drive revenue and get sales. It takes a different kind of leader to be able to manage mindset through a difficult situation. That's one of the things that I learned in the 82nd. Before and after, that's been a consistent theme. I've been through some challenging things in life. Fortunately, we get an opportunity to either come out winning through that scenario or learning something that's also a win. I've learned a lot about perseverance, grit and how mindset can affect outcomes and behavior. That's the biggest thing I took away from the 82nd. The other part was the discipline. It's important to be able to get yourself to do what you know you're supposed to, even when you don't want to. It's amazing how many people in life know what they need to do and feel like they can't do it.

That aligns perfectly with Kaizen. Kaizen means consistent improvement or change for the better. That's exactly what you're talking about right there.

The coaching company didn't start out as Kaizen Coaching. In fact, it was Freedom Evolution Coaching, where we're teaching people how to help leverage other people, systems, processes, tools, technology, to essentially work themselves out of their position in their business and be more of an owner than an operator. What we found was we were giving people a lot of good information. We had a mass exodus at one point of clients, all at the same time. We didn't have a lot of turnovers consistently. All at the same time, we had several people leave. I called them up and asked, “What spurred this?” Almost universally, the answer was, “This is too much good stuff.” My initial response was almost to throw the bullcrap flag and say, “That's the worst answer I've ever heard.”

I stayed in curiosity and asked more questions. What I found was, there was no continuity. We're giving people something that was good in and of itself but was not part of a good overall plan. We also didn't have the time for them to implement and the support to help them implement the ideas. We're throwing out great ideas every single week. What happened was they get halfway through one idea, they invest time and energy in it and we throw out something else. It was so good of an idea. They didn't want to abandon the first one, but they also didn't want to do the second one.

They started accumulating these half-done things. When I look back, that was a huge disservice to my clients at the time. What I started researching was, what did people need? Why am I doing this? What it came down to was one little bit of insecurity around coaching at the time, feeling like I was coaching people in the real estate industry. I've never done real estate. I was running a real estate team with Jeff, but I've never transacted real estate and to have my real estate license. A little bit of insecurity, a lot of trying to look smart and look good and a lot of egos.

I wanted to say brilliant things and bring brilliant concepts to the table. What I found out was, once you get past myself, my ego and wanting to look smart and look right, I needed to help them win. I needed to help them get better. The path to better was not through lots of great ideas that they couldn't finish, it was through consistent improvement and refinement of what they already knew with some tweaks or additions along the way to make it more streamlined and more purposeful. I started researching what that looked like. The word that kept coming across was Kaizen and I was like, “That's cool.”

I was thinking about getting a tattoo at the time, another tattoo. I decided to put that on my arm because I was thinking about the relevance of a coach and the authenticity and the ability to be able to speak into someone else's world with integrity. If you're not focused on that thing yourself, it lacks power. I put that on my arm to remind me every day to get better, so I would not forget it. I would have to see it every day. If I wasn’t doing it, it would be a slap in the face to me. I got the tattoo first and then started thinking about renaming the company. When I renamed the company, it was a natural fit because that was what we were up to, helping people get better one step at a time.

I always talk about your strength is in your passion. You can hear it in your voice. Reading the comments on individuals who have talked about your coaching, you can see that they feel that passion behind you. How big of a component is that for an individual to find what they are passionate about because you talk about defining your own success? That's as powerful as defining what you're passionate about.

It depends on what they're looking for. Some people are not ready for that yet. They still are at the point where they feel may be lower on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Not less of an individual, just have not gotten to the point of safety, where they feel like they're going to be okay financially. Fear drives a lot of it. Honestly, there are some coaching companies that perpetuate that. They keep driving that fear by saying, “You're not there yet.” You need to make more in order to be up on stage or worthy of a certain award or a certain status. It drives that in people. What we decided was, it was important to get back to individual success and helping people define what that is and figure it out if they were ready.

A lot of people aren't ready but the people who are, we make it a point to help them figure out what success looks like for them. It’s not just financially but how does that financial success impact the rest of their life and set it up in an inverse way where we design what an ideal future looks like, what an ideal person looks like. They start with, who are they going to be? Things they're going to do and then the things they're going to have. We're going to follow and set it up that way so they become that person and everything else falls in line from there.

If you had to break it down, besides calling you or going to, what would be one of those things that somebody can start with to go down that journey, that path? Whether they're in business, whether they're in athletics, whether it's even like a teenager that's reading that says, “I want that but I'm nervous about committing to the coaching part.” What is that first step to being able to get that courage to step out of that?

I'm glad you asked that because not everybody is ready. There are some coaches who say, “Everybody needs a coach.” That's partially true. Some people get a coach before they're prepared and it's not the right fit and they get a sour taste for coaching. You brought up even a teenager looking for some help. I've got a thirteen-year-old. I know exactly what you're talking about. He’s super into Jocko. He's into the Jocko Podcast and all the Jocko books. I love that. The School of Greatness by Lewis Howes is the book that he's reading. I'm promoting that as much as I possibly can because getting access to and inspired by and curious about learning and growing and being better is the first step.

It doesn't need to start with a Kaizen thing. It's about engaging with wanting to become a better version of yourself, specifically. If people wanted to see what we had, we do have different training. We have things on YouTube and Facebook. We're starting to put things on Instagram that are informational nuggets. They're a little bit here, a little bit there of what we believe and what we think is important. They can go to the website and download some free ten-day challenges. They can get training, it’s virtual so they don't have to hire a coach if they want to learn a specific subject and start working on that.

They can follow us on social media and see what we're about because we're not going to be perfect for everyone. In fact, if we were trying to be perfect for everyone, generally, we're not going to be good for anyone. It's like the thing about one size fits all fitted pants. They're all like a 32 extra-long or something. It's not going to fit almost anyone at all and it's going to fit a few people, okay and it's not going to fit anyone perfectly. Trying to be too much for too many people is where a lot of companies, not just coaching companies but other companies get stuck. It's about defining who you are and who you're built for and what you can do to serve and offer them.

You said something that's profound because when you're talking about coaching, it's personal and it's a humbling thing. When you're talking about at first, you had the ego of needing to show this new stuff, all this new stuff. You can go on the website, and read this for yourself. I love the thought of the profound sense of loyalty between our clients and our coaches. The biggest thing is being transparent by the coaches of their struggles, failures, and triumphs. That's huge.

We're not necessarily promoting this, somebody commiserates. Let me tell you a story. When I was in high school, I went skinny dipping. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the commitment to being human, being real and being authentic with our clients even when it doesn't make us look pretty, even when it doesn't make us look smart. Sometimes the biggest lesson that I learned through coaching is having coaches myself. I've got two coaches. I'm double messed up if you're looking at it that way.

If that's the case, I have twelve coaches.

What I'm learning is that when we're real and authentic, people can learn through our mistakes as much as they can learn through our advice. The experience we bring to the table and the ability to see things because of what we've gone through and the decisions that we've made is a lot of value. I call it Craigslist coaching, coaching that’s a readout of a manual like, “This is called number one.” I'm going to read the script to you and you're going to do the thing. You can get that on YouTube. You can watch Eric Thomas or someone like that and get more value than paying a coach to be formulaic and walk you through a process where the value comes in is in the relationship.

It’s in the accountability and your commitment with the coach to be in integrity in that relationship, respect your word with them and the ability for them to see outside your box. I use the phrase, “Sometimes you can't see the label when you're inside the jar.” Especially now things are crazy for people. When things get intense, our autonomic system kicks in. We fight or flight in life and in business, not just our physiology but our mindset goes there. We get tunneled in. We get tunnel vision. It allows us to focus on things, but it also keeps us from engaging our peripheral sometimes. If we don't have someone seeing the things and standing back and seeing the things that we're not seeing, we can get blindsided.

That's what's going to happen unfortunately with a lot of businesses. They're going to get dialed in on surviving that they're not going to see the opportunity right next to that or they're not going to see the truck coming and it's going to take them out. That's part of the perspective and value that a coach adds. It’s a different point of view when you do not see something. Not even the coach that I don't think I'm any smarter than. In fact, I’m probably not as smart as most of my coaching clients. It's not about being smarter or more intelligent or having more information. Sometimes it's about having a different point of view, a different perspective from where they're sitting.

You talked about accountability. What is the value? A lot of coaches will say, “I'll keep you accountable.” Long-term, that doesn't work because eventually you're going to be outside of the coach's realm or you're going not to have the coach sitting next to you. What is the value of self-accountability?

That's like somebody sitting in the car next to you or behind you and saying, “I'm going to make you drive the speed limit.” Unless you're a cop, you're probably not going to make them drive the speed limit because you have no actual authority aside from what they give you. There is no such thing as, “I'm going to hold you accountable.” Unless the coachee says, “I am empowering you to hold me accountable because I am choosing to opt into accountability for myself in this relationship.” A lot of coaches offer this as a value like, “I'm going to hold you accountable so you do the right things.” Yes and no. You can ask them the questions but if the client is not being honest or not staying in integrity with those things, it's not going to work. The problem there is a lack of focus on the coachability of the client.

An overemphasis on the strenuous activities that the coach is going to go through to try to hold you into account or hold you accountable when all we're doing is putting restrictions on people. It's like if you had teenagers and you locked them in their room all the time or we're incredibly strict with them and didn't let them do anything. As soon as that is not present, they're going to go right back. They didn't learn discipline. They didn't learn how to be self-managed. They didn't learn good decision making. They only made those decisions because they didn't have any other choice. They probably didn't make those decisions when you weren't looking. If you're like me as a teenager, they made some less than optimal choices. They're learning experiences, as I like to call them.

That’s a lot better.

It's the same thing. As a coach, we need to stop emphasizing, “I'm going to hold you accountable.” Start emphasizing, “I'm going to help you opt in to being an accountable person and teach you how to be self-disciplined.”

That's a great way of putting it because the biggest thing is being able to adapt and thrive throughout life. That's one of the things that you said was one of your greatest accomplishments, it’s being able to adapt and thrive in different situations effectively. Tell me more about what you mean about that because that's a huge thing to have a client take away from you. It's a life experience that you're talking about. It’s not just something that you read in a book.

I've had some difficult experiences. I'm not saying they're the worst or the most difficult anybody's ever experienced by any means and they were fairly significant for me at the time. I planned to go to West Point and then went all the way through to the MEF station. I wanted to fly airplanes and went all the way through until they were ready to have me sign on the dotted line and ship me out. They told me at the last minute, “By the way, you don't have 20/20 vision. You can't fly.” I didn't have glasses or anything at the time so I didn't know they didn't know. There wasn't LASIK at that point. You need to do the Army. You need to be whatever they told you to be. That was a big deal for me because that was my plan.

I didn't go into the military at that point. I had to step back out and figure it out. That was what landed me after working in a couple of jobs. I was working in the morning until it was time to go to college at UPS, loading and unloading trucks. It's a dirty, less than a glamorous job. It ended right before I had to go to school and take classes. I'd go to college covered in dirt and everything and that was not fun. Run home and take a quick shower and go to the zoo. I was selling glow sticks for $4 or $15 an hour at the time outside in the freezing cold in Washington in December. They're both seasonal jobs so I got laid off. Both of those jobs are right before Christmas. I had to find something new but that's where I found Cutco.

I was in the mindset of, “I'm not going to give up. This is not impossible. I'm going to figure it out.” That got me one of the best jobs I could possibly have had, if not the best job I could possibly have had at that time. It taught me so much about myself and about leadership and teamwork. We're supposed to open London with my manager. He called me up a few weeks before and said, “I'm out.” All the positions have already been filled for the next year and I was one of the top candidates and we're going to go open London, which when you're 19, 18 at the time is awesome. Going there with one of your best friends and opening a new company. I got the news right before that happened that he was not going to go. He said, “I'm out. I need to be out of the company.” I didn't have a spot.

I was one of the top candidates and was all prepared to go to London and open this thing and didn't have a spot. I had to figure out, “What do I do next?” Fortunately, there was a guy who I got placed with who I was able to support and work with. He became one of my best friends at that time. I learned a ton through that relationship and in the military. I wanted to go in and I wanted to be a Special Forces medic. I went through basic training at Fort Benning, infantry basic training in the Army and then went to Ranger School or the airborne school next. My best friend had gone through three weeks ahead of me into those airborne schools and RIP, the Ranger Indoctrination Program.

He was right ahead. He graduated basic training as I was almost done. He started RIP as I was graduating basic training going to airborne school. He was one step ahead of me every step of the way. I ended up breaking my foot on the first jump in airborne school. I went through two weeks. Jump week is the third week. You do a jump off a tower. I broke my foot. I didn't know it was broken. I knew something was wrong because I couldn't walk right. My options are taken my boot off and go to medical and get shipped off to Fort Drum, New York or somewhere in the middle of nowhere and not be airborne or I can push through and I can make a different decision.

A lot of people would have thought at that point that I knew that I talked to like, “You didn't have much of a choice.” In my mind, that thought never even occurred to me is, “I don't have a choice.” I always have a choice. My choice was I either do that or I leave my boot on and suck it up and do everything that I can to pass. I didn't take my boot off for that entire week. Even with the boot on, I couldn't sleep with my sheet on over that because it puts a tiny bit of weight. The pain was so bad. I couldn't even do that, sleep with a blanket sheet on it.

My foot was not in good shape. I did all the runs and four more jumps on that foot. I finally got through graduation. My best friend was there. He graduated Ranger Indoctrination Program at the same time I graduated from airborne school. He came to me. I got to RIP. When I was at RIP, I finally took my boot off because I couldn't take it anymore. My foot looked like a grapefruit got lodged in there somewhere and swelled up real big. I couldn't even walk on it at that point. I was hoping my way around the barracks headed to the bathroom or something.

Someone saw me that weekend and said, “Come here.” It was somebody who happened to have some authority and took me straight to medical and they evaluated and took me in for X-rays. I had broken foot so they said, “You're out of here.” I said, “There's got to be another way. I've got to have a choice here. I went in with a specific objective. What else can I do?” I pleaded my case. I gave him some options and I said, “I'll do anything. If anybody should be in the Special Forces or a Ranger in the Army, it's got to be somebody who can make 4 or 5 jumps with a broken foot.”

I was finally fortunate enough to talk them into it. They talked to the major that was there and he said, “He makes a good point. Why don't I have him stay on and do some paperwork or something for me until it heals?” I did that, adjusting every step of the way. Instead of saying, “This is it,” and quitting and resigning myself to my fate, it was always evaluating my options. Unfortunately or fortunately, one way or the other, however, you tend to look at it, Easter weekend, they needed three people to go to the 82nd. They said, “You three that are in medical, you're gone.” They put us on a bus and we're gone. I didn’t get the chance to complete my case at that point. That was the rest of that story.

There were a lot of pivots in my life. There were some pivots when I was firefighting. I was at a fire and got a significant back injury from a fall and got medically retired. About a year and a half later, I thought about staying on shift. I stayed on and took all my vacation days and sick days. We had 48-hour shifts at the time. You are familiar with how these go. Every 48-hour shift I was splitting up. I was only working 1 day, 5 days off and using up all my vacation and sick days to stay on shift with a hurt back. I knew I could power through the day.

After that, I was toast and I couldn't even pick up my kids. At a certain point, it became obvious that I was compromising the integrity of our team. That was when the state said, “You’ve got to take the medical retirement.” I did. That was another big pivot because, at that time, I was running another business on the side like some of us firefighters do. I was running another business on the side and things were great. I had planned on being a firefighter forever and it didn't work out that way. That's how I found coaching.

You changed a lot of different things. It's interesting when you think about people a lot of times, not you especially, but a lot of people think about goals. You wanted to get your Ranger Tab and everything like that. Those are lofty goals, but a lot of people won't go for those because they're bigger failures. The point that you're making and I love it, is it gives you a chance to pivot almost at a higher level if you do fail.

I don't remember exactly what the quote is, but it was Theodore Roosevelt and he talks about the man in the arena, “If you're going to fail, at least fail while daring greatly so you're not like those meek and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” I forgot the middle part of it. That's always resonated with me. Who wants the story of their life to be written and nobody wants to read it because nothing happened? I’ve watched a lot of Netflix. I went to my job every day and didn't get fired. I retired and played golf or put together puzzles and then I died. I never wanted that life.

I never wanted to be out of fear of mediocrity, out of fear of being ordinary. I still do. It's not so much fear anymore. It's a commitment not to have that be part of my world. I'm not afraid of failing at something big. I'm not afraid of failing at anything because that's where you learn the most. The bigger the challenge, the more you're going to learn in that process of not accomplishing your goal in the timeline that you said. I wouldn't even call it a failure. It's another chance to pivot. It's another thing that you've learned. It's another experience that you can relate to life and that you can pull from and draw from.

Isaac, I have some questions for you. I never give these questions to people in advance because I like to make them uncomfortable. Here's the first question. What is one thing you haven't done but it's outside of your comfort zone?

One thing that I've always wanted to do and been inspired to do and never done it is climbing a big mountain. Mount Rainier has been calling my name forever. It will still happen. We'll go ahead and start looking around. I’ve got to ask permission first. That's a big thing for me. Big adrenaline type experiences are not necessarily what I look for, so much as the evolution of who I get to become in training for the thing and accomplishing the thing. A lot of people would say skydiving or doing this scary thing. I can see that. For me, it's never been compelling for me to do something that's an adrenaline high or that's scary. For me, it's more about, who am I going to become or who do I get to become in that process? Who am I going to be on the other side of it? For me, climbing a mountain that is going to challenge me physically, mentally, emotionally and all those things like that, that's probably that next big challenge for me.

I like it. I'm going to hold you to it too. Here's the second one. What is your favorite quote and why?

I did reference Theodore Roosevelt one earlier. That is one of my favorites. I would say that going maybe a little bit unconventional here. There was something all the way back with Cutco. I had a manager and mentor named Mark Lewis and he gave a keynote on this at one point. He would always talk about being off self and on purpose. Are you off self and on purpose? He resonated and stuck with me because every time I would think about that, I would think, “If I'm in a bad mood, if I am blaming other people and had a terrible experience and I'm wallowing for a minute, it's usually because I'm focused on myself.” What didn’t I get? What don't I deserve? What do I deserve or should I be entitled to? I was not focused on how to serve my purpose. How do I accomplish this big thing? That stuck with me ever since, being off self and on purpose. I like the play on words too because it's like being off self on purpose or purposefully off self. That's probably been the biggest influence. It's not the sexy, flashy, quoted by some president or something, but it's been the most impactful for me and it's a reminder.

It's a great message. The third question for you, this one's always the tough one but you should be good at this. If you could pick to have coffee with three other people at a firehouse coffee table, obviously, nothing is off the table when you're talking about the firehouse coffee table. Who would it be and why? They can be living or dead.

There are many good choices. That's what makes it hard. Without trying to get it perfect and come up with the ultimate three which I would probably never arrive at. Tim Ferriss has fascinated me for quite a while. I love his ability to make a commitment to change, be humbled a lot, commit to things and figure out life and our physiology and our mentality. I would like to spend some time around the firehouse table getting some more stories from him that maybe aren't in his books or on his podcasts about other adventures that he's been on. I'll give you some live relevant people to narrow it down so I can pick. You would be one, for sure. Someone else who fascinates me is Wim Hof. Have you heard of Wim Hof?

I have not.

Wim Hof, he's also known as The Iceman. He teaches and promotes these breathing techniques where he can be submerged in ice-cold water for hours. He can regulate his own body temperature. He controls his own immune system, things like that. I like being around people who challenge the status quo in a less mainstream way. There are Richard Branson and the people who are disruptors in the market. They fascinate me as well. You’ve got the people who I would want to get in front of and figure out, “How do you tick? I want to see what the human looks like,” those are guys like Wim Hof.

Who rounds out the table? It gives you an insight as to who you are. That's what I love about this question because a lot of people will think deeply about it. One person chose God, Jesus, and Mary. I was like, “That would be interesting.”

I get to have coffee with my wife every day. We're not counting that, but I do think it needs to.

No, I love how this is perplexing you.

The third person that I would have at that table, because it would be a fun table and because every time I've had a meal with this person has been an interesting conversation is Susan Scott. Susan wrote a book called Fierce Conversations and Fierce Leadership. She’s a highly sought-after speaker, coach, and author. I met her at an event called Coaching Skills Camp. I went up and introduced myself. I said, “I love what you had to say. That's fascinating.” She said that she was from Orcas Island, Washington and I said, “We go there every year on our anniversary. That's interesting. That's a small place.” She said, “I've got a treehouse there. You should come by sometime.” Not knowing any better, I said, “That sounds great. Let's do it.” I got her information and followed up and went up there. It was my wife and I. I met her and there was a friend of hers there as well. She lived in a treehouse. It's an amazing treehouse. It was on Treehouse Masters if you're familiar with the show.

That's a great show.

It was featured on the show. She wasn't roughing it, so to speak, but it was a cool experience. We go in there and we're drinking a glass of wine and having some cheese and grapes. We started talking about life. We were talking about her book Fierce Conversations. I read it again. We're talking through it. I asked her, “What are your other favorite books?” She said, “When I'm writing, I try not to read a whole lot of other books.” She reciprocated and asked me the question. At this point, I was trying to show off a little bit. I was not maybe as where I am now. Hopefully, I’m a little bit more involved in this. I wanted to impress her. It was my first meeting. It was a big deal for me. My wife was sitting there and you always want to look good in front of your wife too.

I was like, “I was homeschooled until fifth grade. I used to read all the time. I lived in Washington. There's nothing to do there outside a lot of the year unless you want to play in the rain. A lot of times I’ll read. I've read thousands of books. I love books. Here is a list of a bunch of my favorites. I'm reading five books.” She's like, “Interesting.” She was gracious about it and then she punched me in the throat a little bit and she said, “Can I ask you a question?” I said, “Absolutely.” I thought she was going to set me up for another brag session. She said, “How many of those have you mastered?” It’s not exactly the question I was expecting. I composed myself really quickly. I was like, “I don't think any of them if I were, to be honest. The closest I've ever come to that would be The Miracle Morning.”

I've been doing it for a long time at that point. There wasn't a whole series out like there is now. I said, “That would be the only one that I could claim even to approach any semblance of mastery, even if we're only talking about doability, even if we're only talking about me doing part of the stuff on a regular basis.” She said, “Can I ask another question?” My brain and my gut wanted to say, “No.” My ego wanted to say, “Heck no.” I still said, “Yes.” It was the right answer. I said, “Yes, you can.” She said, “If you're going to read all these books, I'm assuming that takes a lot of your time and you're focused on this. If you're not going to master what's in them, then what's the point?”

You were on the floor at that point.

Somewhere else. I had to sit and think about that. If you're going to read all those books, the point would be to implement them. If I'm not going to implement them, the point is to try to look smart or know a lot about a lot of things so I don't look stupid. It generally comes back to ego. Either I want to look or I want to look smart.

She would fill that table well.

This is why we need a woman at the table to coach. She's going to ask some incredible questions. She said, “The third question.” I was like, “Okay.” By this point, my ego was numb from all the beating. It's not going to hurt anyway. I said, “Yes, that's fine. Go ahead and ask me a third question.” She said, “What would happen if you were to pick any three books and you could master what was in those three books? What would change in your life? What would change in your world?” Another good question. Another amazing question.

I thought about it, “If I could master some of the best informational books or thought leader type books, my life would be completely different if I could master the content in those books.” That was before I even read Essentialism. What got me on the Essentialism was understanding because of some great coaching. That was a three-question, amazing coaching session. It's one of the best coaching sessions I've ever had in my life and has still impacted me to this day. That is why I think that number one, we need a woman at the table and two, if Susan were that person, it would be an interesting conversation.

You're right. After that story, I can imagine everybody would be on the edge of their seat.

She let me lick my wounds and drink my wine.

The final thing is a rapid round of questions. All you have to do is give me one of the responses that I give you. The first one is paper or plastic?


Soup or salad?


McDonald's or Taco Bell?


Camping or hotel?


Fly or drive?


Sleep in late or wake up early?

Wake up early.

Run or walk?


Partly sunny or partly cloudy?

Aren’t they the same thing?

Pretty much. Fire or water?


Use a porta-potty or continue to drive, run to the next physical bathroom?

Drive, run.

Coke or Pepsi?


Go big or go home?

Go big.

My guest has been Isaac. Thank you for being on and being a positive impact and influence in this world. If you want to find out more about Isaac, you can go to It's all about Isaac, as well as about the coaches that can help you to live a better life. Thanks, Isaac. For the readers, we'll talk to you in the next episode.

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About Isaac Stegman

Kaizen Coaching is a national coaching company based out of Morgan, UT that specializes in coaching and training top performers. The company is founded by Isaac Stegman, who officially serves as CEO of the company, although he is more likely to tell you he is the “Senior VP of Talent Acquisition” or “Chief Culture Officer” or even “Director of Fun!” Don’t let the easygoing attitude and mischievous grin fool you… having recruited and trained over 1,000 sales consultants, Isaac has over 20 years of high-level sales and leadership experience and has consistently been in the top 1% of every industry he has been a part of.

Aside from his illustrious background in sales and leadership, Isaac also served as a paratrooper in the 82d Airborne Division, ran a martial arts school and spent five years as a professional Firefighter in Kent, WA (all while running another successful business on the side)! Isaac now spends most of his time speaking, training, growing his companies and coaching a handful of personally selected clients.

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