Make Better Decisions Faster – Paul Epstein’s Guide to Motivate Others

Paul Epstein, a renowned coach and speaker, shares his transformative journey of igniting impact and leaving people and places better than he found them. Drawing inspiration from his late father, a high school teacher for last-chance students, Paul found his calling in empowering others and fostering purpose-driven leadership.

Paul recounts his experiences as the ‘Y coach’ of the San Francisco 49ers and how serving others became a pivotal part of his life. He discusses the principles that guide his approach to leadership, culture, and personal growth, emphasizing the power of unconditional support and the importance of making meaningful connections.

Join us as Paul Epstein delves into his philosophy of turning challenges into opportunities and his commitment to helping individuals and organizations realize their full potential. It’s a story of resilience, dedication, and the relentless pursuit of positive change.

Notable quotes

“To ignite impact, and the way I think about that, is to be on a mission to leave people and places better than I found them.” – Paul Epstein

“If you can’t get it down to a behavioral level [change], it’s never gonna have a cultural impact, never.” – Paul Epstein

Useful links

Reach Paul at:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/paulepsteinspeaks/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/paulepsteinspeaks/
Website: https://www.paulepsteinspeaks.com/

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Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Here we go. Okay. Welcome Paul. And I cannot wait to hear what your why is. What is your personal why?

Paul Epstein: To ignite impact and the way I think about that it’s on a mission to leave people and places better than I found them.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Hmm. And what does that come from? What’s your prime mover? What made you that way?

Paul Epstein: My hero, who’s my late father, and I lost my hero at 19 years old, he was a continuation high school teacher. And so for a lot of folks out there that may not know what a continuation school is, it’s a kid’s last chance. They’ve been kicked out of traditional school, you land in a continuation, and there’s no next stop. So the hope and prayer is that they don’t go on to become a statistic on the street. And years after he passes, I had a couple of his former students that came up to me. One said,

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mmm.

Paul Epstein: Your dad was the first person that ever believed in me. And others said, your dad gave me a reason to think that tomorrow is worth it. And so when you hear that, and at the time I’m in my early to mid-20s, that’s when I learned what the real definition of leadership is. That’s when I learned how personal leadership gets. That’s where I started to feel, I felt their words. I felt the impact of my lost hero. And I always…

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mmm.

Paul Epstein: Now remind myself that if I could have one tenth of the impact that my dad had, then it’ll be a great life.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Hmm, that’s beautiful. Do you mentor people in your personal life? Do you have folks that you help through their journeys from a young age?

Paul Epstein: 100% frankly, it’s how I invest most of my personal time. If I’m not with family, I’m helping, I’m coaching, I’m advising, I’m mentoring. You know, I used to hear the word service, and this is when I’m on this fast track as a high profile sports executive, and you always hear about success, and you associate success with winning, and trophies, and accolades, and…you know, the LinkedIn profile looks sexier and sexier by the day, like that type of stuff. And I don’t apologize for that past, I don’t apologize for that mindset, because I think you have to have some mindset in order to evolve. Otherwise you have nothing to compare A versus B to. But I heard the word service a lot when I was quote unquote successful. And I kind of rolled my eyes. You know, I thought, oh.

I’ll get there, or that sounds nice, but I’m too busy winning, growing, succeeding, all these things. And then I started to realize after I found my personal Y and core values at a leadership offsite retreat on the chief revenue officer of the San Francisco 49ers back in 2016, and that retreat fundamentally changed my life. I literally have been a different person ever since because what happened is I had a work Paul and a personal Paul.

And when I walked away from that retreat, I decided to marry the two. And ever since then, I found this gift of authentic confidence. I no longer was living to please others. I really just stopped caring about what others thought if it didn’t lead me to a place of happiness and fulfillment and purpose and impact and all the things that we’ve already talked about in these few minutes. And now…when I started to share that gift of purpose with others and I became known as the Y coach of the San Francisco 49ers, that was my first act of service where I didn’t keep score, it was a labor of love, I still had my day job, but me pouring myself into others gave me this sensation and this feeling that I had never felt before in my career. Trophy cabinet was already full, but I never had this feeling of what

Paul Epstein: Happens when you unconditionally pour yourself into others in a way that has changed your life and now you’re just moving it forward with the hopes that it spreads, it amplifies, it grows. That was that feeling.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Okay, I have so many follow-up questions. The first is, what happened at that retreat? I mean, I gotta know.

Paul Epstein: Hahaha

Paul Epstein: Well, what happens is this. So you, it was my first time in a career where I called a time out. I had never done anything in the personal growth space. Everything at that point, all the training exercises and even off sites, it was all about strategy and business planning and your function and the skills. And it was that, but it was never like this human piece, this personal growth, like this transformation opportunity.

And when I leaned into the why and my core values, see, I think something different happened for me than other people and now I have clarity on why. Everybody at that retreat found their why and values, but I don’t think that everybody would come on your podcast that was at that retreat and tell you that their life changed, but mine did. And, oh, go ahead.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So were you facilitating the retreat or did someone else facilitate it? Right, okay.

Paul Epstein: No, I was a participant. No, my boss who’s the team president of the San Francisco 49ers says, crew, it was about 15 of us, we’re gonna go off site, beautiful resort, and two days, personal transformation, Y values, and that was that. So we did a lifeline exercise, life reflection, all that. I had never done it. And…

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Okay.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: It was like life coaching intensive two-day session with your exec peers.

Paul Epstein: A two day executive mastermind in a workshop setting. Yes, that’s exactly what it was. That’s exactly what it was.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Okay, got it. But something clicked for you that was different, perhaps, than what clicked for other people.

Paul Epstein: Well, here’s what it was. I believe that something like why and purpose and values, they feel like a North Star, which is cool. I love North Stars, but North Stars have a problem. The problem is most of us don’t know how to apply a North Star on Monday morning. So it stays conceptual, it stays out there. And this inspirational thing of why values North Stars.

In blue skies, it works because it inspires you. In the Latin definition of inspire is to breathe life into. So these things breathe life into me, but then what happens inevitably, then Monday morning comes and your inbox is flooded because you’ve been unplugged. And then, oh, you’ve got a family and oh, you know, life. Life happens. And I think that we all just kind of run back into that rat race.

And we’ve all gone to those countless events, whether it’s a small retreat or a big mega conference, and we leave fired up and inspired, and we’re gonna go take over the world. And then Monday, we just plug back into the machine that we were already in. And I experienced that countless times, and then you reflect back and poof, it’s a sugar high. But for me, what changed was on my own, I decided to put pen to paper and say, if I am feeling like a different person. I now have isolated what my why is, what my values are. I need to apply them on Monday morning. So I went through a series of exercises where I started to connect my values to my daily decisions and actions. That’s what I did differently. I literally made it tangible, actionable, behavioral.

And I was just going with my gut instinct. Nobody told me to do this, but hey, it’s like when you go to an awesome event, some people then go back to the lab and they say, okay, what do I turn these 20 pages of notes into? And for me, I said, I’ve always had a business plan. I’ve never had a life plan. Let me start to write out my life plan. And I got it granular to the level of decisions and actions.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So I’ve heard you say a couple of things. You talked about the way that you used to define success and service, how you viewed that then and what you do now, this authenticity between how you were before and how you are now. What was the biggest takeaway or the biggest transformation for you out of all of that?

Paul Epstein: Yeah, I think there’s a blessing and a curse side to all this transformational work and this self-discovery. When you figure out who you are, and then if you find yourself in a situation like I was where I was out of alignment, I didn’t have full congruence, you now have a vision for who Paul is on his best day, but then you audit your reality.

And you realize, oh my gosh, like I’m not that person more often than not. Like I’m living in this game at the time it was sports business and I’m trying to build a corporate career and it created massive tension for me. So that’s the curse. The curse is you might have to go through pain to ultimately step into your purpose. I fundamentally believe that, but I also on the bright side, believe that pain can be tied to purpose, once healed. And so in most cases you hear the word healing and sometimes we associate it with something in our past like trauma and small t, big T, whatever it is. Mine is not a trauma as if something happened to me. It is more of a trauma of I literally was not living my life. I was not, I was, I was living. I didn’t feel alive because I kind of have this compass. So here’s a compass and if we could try to visualize, visualize this.

So at the center of the compass is your why, and then the next circle up are your values. And together, your why and values represent who you are. Then above that, you’ve got beliefs, and that is what you stand for. Then above that are decisions and actions, and together, that is how you show up. So as a summary, you’ve got, from the inner of the circle, why, values, beliefs, decisions and actions. And if you summarize those, it’s who you are, what you stand for, and then how you show up. What this retreat taught me is I didn’t have alignment. I didn’t have congruence. In other words, I wasn’t connecting how I showed up to who I am. So the beauty is now I knew who I was, but the curse was I’ve got some work to do. Like I…

Paul Epstein: I literally have a choice. I could continue to stay on this treadmill and stay in the comfortable lane and I’m successful and I’m winning and the whole world is saying bravo. But then I did the opposite. I did the opposite because I said, Paul, if one of your core values is authenticity, and I got called out a couple of times for I think overextending myself to hit business goals, but then I fell out of touch with who I am on my best day.

And the way I think about this is, on my best day, most people in the world would follow me to the end of the earth and back. But on my worst day, I wouldn’t follow myself. And when I started to really kind of draw that line in the sand, that’s the biggest point that I realized is, I’m not aligned, I’m not congruent, I’m showing up as two different people, and when you have that rock bottom feeling, you can decide to never feel it again.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Can I dig into that compass model that you shared earlier because it sounds really similar to the results pyramid which we use and which is really about beliefs that lead to actions and ultimately get you results, right? What is the difference between values and beliefs in your model?

Paul Epstein: 100%.

Paul Epstein: It’s a great question. And I’ll say this, that model that I just described is what I was using as a why coach. This is circa 2016. And what I’ve realized ever since, it is less about the words that you use, it’s more about the meaning and the application. And so as an example, in full transparency in my current work, I don’t have the same compass in the sense of beliefs, but I believe this. I believe that values are what is most important to us.

And I believe that values are the filter that should drive our decisions and actions. But I also can now separate things like standards. And I think standards versus goals, which is something I’ve been wrestling with lately, is like what is the difference? And is one better than the other? Should one come before the other? And I’ve now realized that standards are more closely aligned with your character versus goals, whether they’re numbers or other…they’re typically some sort of a target. And so I can hit a goal, I can miss a goal, sometimes it’s a little arbitrary, it’s my goal, it’s somebody else’s goal, but we have a goal versus standards, I can choose to be that standard every single day. And so again, a little bit of word semantics here. So you ask a very fair question, and I think that frankly, they have a cousin relationship. Values are probably the best way to put it, is they’re an expression of your belief system, and they’re words.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm-hmm.

Paul Epstein: That you just kind of, because beliefs to me sound more like phrases or sentences or I’d have to explain it versus, I’ll tell you my five core values, real simple, impact, authenticity, courage, growth, and belief. Those are my five. And so I can succinctly say it versus, Paul, what are your beliefs? And now I would sound a little bit more philosophical.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah, okay. It’s interesting. I was just working with the chief HR officer of a major national pizza chain, and they have never had values. They’ve always had cultural beliefs, because they’ve been working with us for, I don’t know, over a decade, but they’ve never had values and they said, we got to have values now and I pushed back when I had the session with them I said why, why do you need values, you’ve got these beliefs.

Paul Epstein: Mm. Mmm.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: They are how you make decisions. They’ve identified them with labels similar to the ones that you just shared. What’s the value gonna do? Isn’t that actually gonna complicate how you scale what you message out to your employees, especially in a franchise type business where you’ve got tons of frontline workers that are very disconnected from quote corporate, you know?

Paul Epstein: Mm-hmm.

Paul Epstein: Yeah. And you bring up a really fair and good point. And I think here’s the golden rule that I try to live by relative to this conversation we’re having right now. If you can’t get it down to a behavioral level, it’s never gonna have a cultural impact, never. It’s just gonna end up being words on the wall and people don’t know how to apply it. They don’t know, a recruit doesn’t know if this is gonna be their tribe. An onboarding employee or team member is not gonna say like.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Right.

Paul Epstein: Oh, well, okay, now I actually know how to implement it in day two and three at this organization. So like, whether you start at a value, whether you start at beliefs, whether you can make your mission behavioral, I don’t really care. At the end of the day, the hard work is getting it down to a behavioral level, what we call it, and whatever that starting point is, I don’t think that’s the biggest problem. I think the bigger problem is, I step into my consulting practice and…I always, always ask myself when I look at words on the wall, are you living, eating and breathing these things is person one and person 1000 in your company doing the same things and operating in a similar way.

And so I just think. Behaviors are what win and behaviors are what scale and behaviors allow folks to say. Now I know what to do, and then they can make the decision, is the tribe that has these behaviors, is the tribe that makes decisions like this, is the tribe that takes action like this, is this my tribe? Versus if you keep it all like theoretical, like oh, we’re a company of excellence, who doesn’t wanna work at a company? Because it’s not behavioral yet. So when you show me what you mean by the behaviors, and if I can audit and say, okay.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah.

Paul Epstein: Are we really doing this at scale? Then I can decide if it’s my tribe versus like the fancy phrases and words on the wall. Everybody says they want that. The question is, are we living it?

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah, so I want to go back to this transformative moment you had at the leadership retreat because I think that’s really interesting and here’s what comes up for me when I hear about you. What was your role back then?

Paul Epstein: Chief Revenue Officer.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Chief Revenue Officer of the 49ers. And I mean, you’ve kind of made it, right? That’s a dream job for most people in the world, right? I mean, you’re at peak, you know, you’re in the top 1%, I would argue of all careers out there. And you have this insight where you realize there’s work, Paul.

And personal Paul and you wanna align them and then suddenly that gives you a lot of confidence. It’s a lot easier to do when you’re already at the top, isn’t it? Like I’m thinking about the frontline worker at that pizza franchise. Like how do they show up as authentic Susie as opposed to work Susie when you’re really not at P, it feels less safe. Like there’s less psychological safety, doesn’t it?

Paul Epstein: I agree with you to an extent, but I would invite everybody, whether you’re earlier in your career or mid-career or senior career, I happen to have had this breakthrough moment when, whether you call it mid or senior level, doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, I would ask myself, Paul, would you have made a similar decision? Because here’s the end of the story. The end of the story is at the end of 2017, so about a year after the retreat, year and change.

I took a Jerry Maguire leap. I left sports 100% on my own terms and I’ve never looked back and I’ve got no regrets. And to this day, I’ve never felt more alive. And I’m happy to unpack. I actually think there’s some really cool universally applicable stories of what happened between the retreat and that Jerry Maguire leap and we can totally go there. But to answer your question though, all right, so I’m front lines and I’m at a pizza spot and like, awesome, okay, that’s where you are. But here’s the reality is,

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm.

Paul Epstein: You know whether this workplace is for you. And we’ll talk about better decisions faster in a bit. And I call it the head heart hands equation. But literally, if you check in with your heart and you check in with your head, and I always say, if they’re both on board, it’s like a green light. You know that is your person, that is your place, that is your tribe, that is your community, that is the product, that is the service, whatever. Is it a green light? If there’s no head, no heart, red light. And if one of the two is on board, it’s a yellow light.

So whether you’re front lines or you’re an executive, is what you do a green, yellow or red light, period, point blank. And if you don’t believe it’s a green, then you’ve got some decisions to make. Because we all want green, but we don’t always have green. So now it’s, are you gonna stay in this yellow? That could be a permanent yellow. Are you living in the red? But ultimately you’re like, well, but then there’s some logical explanation of why you.

Or maybe you weren’t even aware of it, but now because of this framework of green, yellow, red, you’re like, oh wow, I didn’t realize I’m in a red roll. So where I go with this is that I think short term, sometimes you do need to hang out in the yellow for a little bit. Like here’s a real example, because I wanna have empathy and not pretend like, oh, here’s some high flying executive in sports and like what he’s saying, like how does that apply to me? Here’s what I do know. If we were to be honest with ourselves and ask, what has a higher likelihood

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mmm.

Paul Epstein: Changing over time, our head or our heart? In other words, can I evolve and grow my mindset over time? Can I get out of some toxic pollution that’s in my head? I think I’ve got a shot at that. I’m not saying it’s easy, but I can. Versus my heart is my heart. My truth is my truth. My authenticity is my authenticity. I’m not gonna wake up tomorrow or next week or next month with a new heart. And if that’s the case, the bad yellow is when your head is in.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm-hmm.

Paul Epstein: Knowing that your heart is never going to join for the party. And so sometimes a head reason to stay in a job, which is real, and I get it, is I need the money, finances, I got bills to pay. Totally cool. But if you know that this job is either the bad yellow that I just described or it’s a red, then here’s how I would think about that is you don’t need to make an irresponsible decision. I’m not somebody to say just pull the trigger and quit tomorrow and like you’ll figure it out. No, that would be irresponsible advice. But here’s what I would say. If the goal is to have a green light job, green light career, live a green light life, and you know that you’re in either a yellow or a red.

What are you doing to make it a green? And if it’s not where you currently are, are you spending your nights and weekends to research potential opportunities that could be a green? Are you taking informational sit downs and coffees and interviews with people in a space that intrigues you? That’s a micro step to get you closer to a green. It might take you a year to make a decision, but are you doing the necessary work to put yourself in a position to A, do it responsibly, and B, finally live that green light life with more passion and purpose? And so, that’s kind of where I think all of this applies is the timing may be different, whether you’re junior, mid, or senior in your career, but I think the process that I committed to was, cause it did take me nine months as an executive to eventually, so it didn’t happen overnight.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm.

Paul Epstein: But I did the work in that nine months to put myself in a position to be like, I can’t not make this decision. I had to leave and people ask me, Paul, why did you leave sports? And I reframe it and I say, it looks like I left sports. The reality is I found myself.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: You know, it’s funny, I feel like this red light, green light, yellow light model would have been great for college me when I had all of those toxic boyfriends and I was trying to figure out if they were the one. You know, my heart was always saying no, but my head was like, you definitely should stay with them. And if I had this model, I would have gotten out of there a lot faster. I’m gonna share this with my girlfriends who are still in similar situations.

Paul Epstein: Yeah.

Paul Epstein: Yeah!

Paul Epstein: Oh, this would have solved. Yeah, this would have solved for the supermodel syndrome that a lot of us suffer from, right? It’s like, oh yeah, they’re hot, they’re hot, they’re hot. And you’re like, that dinner conversation ain’t so great.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Why am I so unhappy? Oh, funny.

Paul Epstein: Yeah, exactly right. Yeah. Totally. No, no, no. Yeah. Well, you know, it’s funny is even writing a book like better decisions faster. Like it obviously has a lot of business, uh, implication and application. And, and I think a lot of folks use it for, should I be in this job or should I make that strategic move or hire fire promote like just decisions, right? But then like the private feedback I’m getting kind of like what you said, Hey, you helped me with the relationship.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah.

Paul Epstein: Hey, you help me whether lean into this friendship more or detach myself from it more. And so long story short, I just believe like in the spirit of we are who we surround ourselves with, the people that we spend the most time with, like that’s gonna be the energy that we’re around. So yeah, I think that’s one of the more critical decisions we can make for sure.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah, so what is the Hans part of this Hart-Hans equation?

Paul Epstein: Action, it’s action, yeah. Yeah, yeah, so the real simple way of thinking about this is if your head is your mindset, your heart is your authenticity and hands are action. So the equation is head plus heart equals hands. In other words, when deciding whether to use your hands, whether to take action, there’s two checkpoints, head and heart. Head, do I think it’s a good idea? Heart, do I feel?

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Oh, that’s the micro taking action to get to green. Okay.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mmm.

Paul Epstein: It’s a good idea. And when they’re both on board, it’s a green light. 10 out of 10 times you take that action. And then again, no head, no heart, red light. Don’t do it or stop doing it. And then when only one of the two is on board, it’s a yellow light and you got to solve for the gap.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah, okay. So talk about low trust environments and how to solve for that, because I think so many people find it hard to build trust in a workplace environment because you feel like you’re friendly with someone, then you realize something happens, wait, that wasn’t my friend, that was a colleague that just used this information to get ahead in the business, we’re all in this game. How do you solve for trust issues professionally?

Paul Epstein: Hmm. Well, trust is the greatest, if not one of the greatest currencies in life. For sure. Currencies in business, business falls into life. And with, so without this currency, how can we possibly win the long game? And so I’m all in on trust. And so I think before we even talk about some of the how mechanics, I also think it’s important for us to define it.

And I don’t mean the Webster dictionary because here’s the Webster dictionary, a belief in someone or something, cool. Like that’s the trust definition, fine. But like, again, what do I do on Monday morning to build, to earn that trust? So I would ask everyone that’s listening in here, think of the people that you trust the most in any walk of life. Like isolated to three to five people, the three to five people that you trust the most.

And then the next question is, what did they do? You thought of them for a reason. It wasn’t random. It wasn’t, oh, because mom’s mom. No, no, no. Because different people have different relationships with family, okay? If you’re gonna say mom, what did mom do behaviorally? What has she done? How has she shown up to earn your trust? My boss. Oh, no, go ahead. No, no, no. I actually wanna know the answer. Let’s go, Jessica. Yeah, let’s do it.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: They consistently, whoa, I thought you were asking me. Okay.

Okay, they consistently act in a way that aligns with the things that they’ve said in the past. So there’s dependability in them showing up according to what they say they’re gonna do.

Paul Epstein: Hmm

Paul Epstein: Hmm. I love that. Which is it’s cool because what you said is it’s almost like this compass, even if we use slightly different models, you’re connecting the outer layers to the inner layers, right? And so if that’s what makes Jessica trust somebody, and again, I’m talking to our entire community that’s listening in here, think of the people that you trust the most and now what do they do?

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah, right.

Paul Epstein: And if you could now make those behaviors, those five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10 things, things like they listened, they cared, they had compassion, they took care of me as a whole person, not just a worker or a producer, like whatever it is, right? They had empathy and like you kind of label these things out. Well, that’s your new job description. But instead of calling it a job description, that’s your new life description.

So if I wanna know, if I wanna build trust, if I wanna earn trust, then I need to first define it at a behavioral level, and then I need to do those things consistently and not take days off. Like that’s my audit, that’s my measurement of significance is am I showing up with these trust building, trust winning, trust earning behaviors? And if you are, then that’s gonna be something that sets you up for success, because here’s what I do know too.

I’m a big energy guy and I know this, this show here, we’re talking a lot about culture. And when I think about culture, where we get in trouble, like, oh, we want to build a culture of high trust. Okay. The, the challenge is it’s super macro and it’s at that stage, if I didn’t elaborate on it, it’s too vague. A culture of trust. Well, well duh, of course. Yeah. I want to build a culture of performance. I want to build a culture of trust. Like said, captain obvious, right? Then.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mm-hmm

Paul Epstein: If it’s going to be about the energy though, like here’s, here’s what I know. And actually I’ll share a quick backstory that’ll illustrate this. So I used to consult with one of the top airlines in the world. They have 120,000 employees and 6,000 positional leaders. And I did workshops over the course of two years with all 6,000 leaders. And some folks in my network that knew I was doing work with them said, Hey, so what’s the culture of the airline like? And I responded, well, who’s the leader?

What location, what department, what floor of the building, that’s the culture. Because when I would visit floor five, they were high-fiving. Floor six, shh, watch out, boss is around the corner. And Jessica, here’s the crazy thing. Floor five and six weren’t just the same company, weren’t just the same airline. Floor five and six were the same department.

Just a different floor of the building, which proved to me that within every big culture, with the bigger climate, there are infinite micro climates down to the floor of the building, down to the person. So as you and I and everyone listening in, when we walk in a room or we hop on a Zoom meeting or whatever we do, we could warm it up or we could cool it off. The question is, are we aware of our own temperature?

And when we’re consistently aware and we choose warmth, and so does the person to our left and right, that’s a culture that I would bet on. Warm cultures are high trust cultures, because when you energetically, positively warm up the rooms, the moment that you enter, or the way that you tackle adversity, or you tackle conflict, or you tackle the hard stuff is I’m still gonna show up warm. I’m still gonna show up warm. I’m still gonna show up solution oriented. I’m still gonna care for the other person. Even if I disagree with their opinion in this case, that’s how you build trust. So it’s this compounding effect of warming up rooms and being a green light in your own right.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So you know what’s interesting? I’m not a sports person, although I work for a CEO who is former NFL player and talks in lots of sports metaphor when discussing leadership. So I feel like I’m becoming one by proxy. The sports culture, let’s talk about football, right? There has to be a lot of trust in a sports team, especially in football, to execute on the plays. However, it doesn’t feel warm to me. Is it warm? Is it secretly super warm in the locker room? I mean, why does that feel disconnected from what you just said for me?

Paul Epstein: Whether football, whether sports, whether business, fill in the blank. There’s warm rooms and cold rooms everywhere. There’s good cultures, there’s bad cultures. There’s great bosses, there’s crappy bosses. We can say that the percentages might, oh, well that’s an 80% warm, oh, there’s 70%, that’s fine. But it’s just the lever that we’re pulling. So if we generalized, I do agree with this angle of what you said, and I think you’re onto something here. Long game wins, meaning the healthier way to live, the healthier way to run a team, a culture, an organization is to play the long game, right? Because if you over-index on short game, now goals, pressures, expectations, results, sometimes that comes at the mercy of putting people first.

You know, like you don’t always treat people amazingly well when you’re trying to hit short-term targets. And in sports, go ahead. Yeah.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah, but before you keep going, sorry, CEOs are incentivized to think in short-term spouts, quarterly earnings targets, right? How do you get the CEO to figure that out?

Paul Epstein: It’s a harmony of short and long game. You’re right. They’re incentivized for that, but then they also need to realize that if they don’t play the long game, then they’re gonna lose the people that help them achieve those short-term goals and profits. And so you’re either gonna be in this never-ending rat race of replacing people time and time again, and then complaining about your engagement and complaining that you have retention problems and the market becomes aware, so now you have recruiting problems. You’re either gonna forever live in that.

Or if you genuinely put people first, even at the expense, short term, this might hurt production and performance by five or 10%, but the compounding effect of doing this for decades is gonna make us a more successful and winning organization. And that takes discipline and it takes commitment. And I think that’s the harder road. And I also think that that’s why a lot of CEOs don’t do it. A, it’s harder. B, they question how long they’re gonna be there.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Mmm.

Paul Epstein: Really playing the long game, but the healthiest cultures I’ve been in, I never questioned it behind closed doors for a second. They are playing the long game 10 out of 10 times. And yes, they do have short-term goals. Prime example, Zoom, Zoom Video. Now it’s a household name because of the pandemic, but at one point they were the number five player in the video conferencing space between WebEx and others. And I do consulting and coaching and advising for Zoom. And I did it well before they were a household name.

When they say delivering happiness, you would say, oh, it sounds soft, sounds squishy, sounds a little warm and fuzzy. Well, on the surface perhaps, especially if they’re not doing it, but I’ll tell you, they’re the best culture that I’ve ever advised. People, when they say delivering happiness on the inside and the people that they serve on the outside, they mean it. It is their lens and filter for how they show up, who they hire, how they promote, who they fire. I mean, it is literally like, if you are not delivering happiness, you will quickly, quickly be out of that tribe. And so I share all this because going back to your football piece, sports is a very short-term game and the sports mindset is I’m not even worried about winning next week. We got to win today. And on the business side of sports where I was, unfortunately, sometimes we inherited those, that mindset.

But it didn’t always have to be that way. I’ll share an example. I’m at the 49ers, we went through a regime change. Jim Harbaugh, who most of the world knows him if you’re into football, but now he’s the University of Michigan head coach and went through some controversies recently out there. But regardless, he is known as a fixer. He gets short-term wins, short-term results, he can turn things around.

I’m not telling you he’s the most positive. I’m not telling you that you’d want to have a beverage with him. I’m telling you, he knows how to win games. And he was at the Niners and eventually it didn’t work even after winning some games and then the performance went down a little bit. Sayonara. Okay. John Lynch, Kyle Shanahan come in new, new GM, new head coach.

Paul Epstein: And what happened with Harbaugh was he kind of created this church and state relationship where it’s like football’s over there and businesses over there. And there’s a wall in between. And don’t you dare cross over the wall. That was the feeling that we had when we were at the organization. Well, new regime comes in and they saw the wall and they said, screw the wall, tear down the wall, brick by brick. We will rebuild our culture. And they walked the walk. They walked the talk and

They went through this cultural journey of several years. It started with an inspirational keynote, this thing called Start With Why by Simon Sinek, and a lot of us know about that. We brought Simon in to do a keynote, and then we committed to a two to three year leadership development plan, an organizational development plan. And Jessica, crazy, crazy coincidence, but not really a coincidence. You know what a part of that two to three year transformation journey was?

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: What? That retreat.

Paul Epstein: That retreat that changed my life was a part of this transformation because my boss’s boss made this cultural priority and invested time, money, and resources into it. This little guy named Paul Epstein ended up changing his life, and I am one small positive thing that has happened because of these macro decisions made by the 49ers top brass.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So you’ve talked about a lot. You’ve talked about confidence, about decision-making, about head, heart, hands, equation. What is the one thing, this podcast is about the masters of movements and you’ve created a lot of movements. What is the one thing that you would want to help people master in business and in life in general? What would it be?

Paul Epstein: Confidence, 100%. I believe confidence is the competitive advantage that we all, I think it’s all for a lot of problems. And here’s what I mean. If life is a game of decisions and actions, like if you said Jessica for you and I, as an example, show me the quality of your decisions and I’ll show you the quality of your life. Full stop.

The compounding effect of good decisions leads to a great life. The compounding effect of bad decisions leads to the opposite. Nobody would debate that. So if life really is this game of decisions, and I say and actions, but whether to act or not is a decision. So I believe decision making is the lowest common denominator. So what’s the problem with decision making? Well, when the stakes are high and when there’s greater consequence, we suffer from paralysis.

If you’re in a leadership role, you suffer from decision fatigue and decision overwhelm, and for every single person in the world, myself included, we’ve all suffered from the worst decision of them all, indecision. We don’t even make the decision. We’re stressed, we’re anxious, we feel the weight, we’re worried about a negative outcome or what other people are gonna think or disapprove of.

And so we don’t make the decision. And a lot of what research says is that 85% of people suffer from indecision and it’s having a negative impact on the quality of their life. So I believe if we can solve for indecision, then we can cure the world of this paralysis that stunts movements to your point. You wanna create a movement, you need progress, you need growth, you need momentum, and then the outcome is a movement? Well guess what never happens?

If you don’t make a decision, there will never be a movement. Never. And so confidence is the Annie to play confidence is the gateway for how we make better decisions faster. And the way that I’ve seen this come to play. Yes. I talked about the head, heart, hands equation. That’s for sure. But the other way is this. And it goes back to how we started the conversation. Confidence equals values times action. And I’m going to share a process on how to put this in play.

Paul Epstein: The multiplication in that, if it’s confidence equals values times action, the multiplication is how consistently we do it. So even Jessica, when you were talking about your lens on trust, you used the word consistent. You used it, because that’s, we value consistency, right? And so if consistent action on values leads to consistent confidence, the question is, how do we become more confident?

And most people would say, all right, so I gotta take action. Let’s assume in this example that you’ve isolated a single core value for this exercise. I’ve coached this to Fortune 50 CEOs, high growth founders, Olympians, NFL athletes, everybody in between. And here’s the process for how you can build unshakable confidence using the formula of confidence equals values times action. It’s a journal and you’re gonna do this exercise and it takes about two minutes and you’re only gonna have to do it once a week. So it’s beautiful because it’s a low time, high impact exercise. So the journal is this.

For the week ahead, I will live my value of blank by blank. The first blank is the value that you chose, and the second is an action that you connect to that value. So let’s play with a couple of examples. Let’s go with joy. Cool, so a core value of yours is joy, awesome. I would journal something like, for the week ahead, I will live my value of joy by cooking my favorite meal. Awesome, anybody could do it.

Super small, super simple. Like for me, I’m throwing bacon in a pan. What are you doing? Whatever brings you joy. That’s what you do. Okay, cool. So that’s joy. But what if, let’s spice it up a little bit. Let’s pivot off of the value of joy and go with courage. That’s a good one. For the week ahead, I will live my value of courage by having that challenging conversation that I’ve been putting off.

You’re not having that conversation because Paul said. You’re having that conversation because courage is a core value. And now you would do this same journaling exercise and you stay on the same value. So if you chose joy, stick with joy. If you chose courage, stick with courage. And the timeframe, scientifically backed, we gotta get to the fourth week. You have to do this for four consecutive weeks, two minutes a week, less than 10 minutes commitment in a month, so it’s very doable.

Paul Epstein: But you gotta get to the fourth week and here’s why. It’s also why New Year’s resolutions fail. And for me too, I am as guilty as anybody, okay? A couple of reasons. One is we don’t have a process or a system like a journal or something else. And then two is we quit too fast. It was inconvenient or it didn’t work out and then we’re just like, okay, that was nice. And Gen 10, we go back to our old life. Well, in this case, habits and habit formation, if it takes three to four weeks, we have to pass that threshold into the zone of habit formation. So if you just do this journal once, I promise you no permanent change, I promise you no transformation. I’d be lying to you. If you do it two weeks, you’d be lucky for it to stick. But starting in that third week, you’re doing more than one action a week. Now you’re doing three, four, five actions. And what I’ve seen backed by thousands of coaching clients that have gone through this exercise, week four, it explodes.

You’re doing seven, eight, nine, 10 actions in a week connected to your value. You’re doing 10 things that bring you joy. You’re doing 10 things that reinforce your courage. In my case, I’m doing 10 things that drive impact, whatever it is, and that’s the path. If confidence equals values times action, this journaling exercise is how you become the most confident version of yourself.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So are you still doing that journaling exercise now?

Paul Epstein: It’s a great question and I actually get asked that all the time. I don’t, I don’t, but here’s what’s more important to me. It’s stuck, years later, I’m still doing double digit exercises, or actions I should say, I’m still doing double digit actions for each of my core values. So it’s just become muscle memory. I don’t need to journal anymore and the reason I know this is because I do check in and I do audits. And I say, okay, Paul.

What were the things you did this week in service of courage, in service of impact, in service of growth, in service of belief, in service of authenticity? And I audit myself just to make sure. And you know this too, Jessica, like I think a cool thing of running a podcast or coaching or whatever else we do, the cool thing is it holds you accountable. You know, like I write the books that I need.

I give the advice that I need to implement on my own. I genuinely, I’m like, well, if a core value is authenticity, I’d be a fraud if I wasn’t doing this stuff. So yeah, I’ve now shifted into different exercises that are a little bit more macro than the journal, but the post-retreat process I went through back in 2016, so this would have delved into 2017, for the first five months post-retreat, that’s exactly what I did. I did.

Four consecutive journals for the value of growth, and then impact, and then belief, and on and on and on. And that’s where the muscle memory came from. And once I started to coach it out to others, I’m like, oh my gosh, like this is not just a Paul thing. It’s working. And like that gave the proof, and that gave the confidence in the process, and that’s when I started to share it with the world.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: That’s so cool. I’m gonna do that. I’ll let you know how it goes. Okay.

Paul Epstein: Yeah, please do. Please do. Bear hugs. Awesome.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: I will. So let’s go to the caller and see what other question we might have for you.

Paul Epstein: Great question. And Christine, so Christine, phenomenal question. Awesome. Here would be my advice. And whether it’s a younger person or my younger self, I would say the exact same thing.

Some of us get lucky and some of us are a bit unlucky. And here’s what I mean by that. Sometimes you get lucky, you work at this amazing company and this amazing culture and you’re surrounded by amazing leaders and so inside of the four walls that you call a professional home, your workplace, you have an abundance of mentors, of advisors, of coaches, of people you look up to and admire and aspire to. And that is luck.

You still have to take advantage of resources and people and put in the work to build your brand and show positively in front of them, but that’s the lucky part. The other side is what if you don’t work in that environment? So I think your question goes with, hey, Paul, that’s the easy road. Now let’s talk about the hard stuff. Let’s say I don’t have that mentor, whether at my workplace or anywhere else. Here is something that one of my mentors actually taught me and they said, a mentor doesn’t have to be limited to people that you know. And that confused me. I was like, what the heck are you talking about? Like, what do you mean? Like a mentor, like I need a phone call, I need a coffee. Like, of course I need to know them. And they said, hmm. They said, Paul, think of the people that have impacted your life in a deep and meaningful way, whether it’s somebody that you know, or maybe it’s just a way that you live your life, but you were inspired by them.

And I said, okay, like, where are we going with this? They said, what’s your favorite book? And I answered, and they said, did that author inspire you? Have they created great impact in your life? Do you know them? I said, no. Why can they not be a mentor? Have you ever gone to a speech, Paul, that perhaps changed the way you view the world? Actually, I have.

Paul Epstein: Why can that not be a mentor? You start to follow them. You listen to their content every day. That’s a form of indirect mentorship. I don’t know them personally, but they can still have a mentoring effect on me. And so obviously we would love to all have that person under the roof of our home or inside of our company or to be our direct boss, but that’s not always gonna be the case. And so what I would urge for whether my younger self or a younger individual like you said is, do you want to have a mentorship effect on you and you follow them and you consume them and you create action items. You start to make different decisions because of the way that you are learning from them. And that’s really would be my advice is just mentors don’t always have to mean a direct relationship. Mentors just mean, can you learn from them? Can you grow from them?

Can you apply some of their teachings and insights into your day-to-day world? And if so, that’s just as good as having a mentor.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: It’s such great advice. And you know, it’s interesting because I went to a leadership retreat 10 years ago now here in Sacramento. It was the Nehemiah Emerging Leaders Program. It was for emerging leaders. So I was earlier in my career and they gave me this wonderful piece of advice which is don’t find a mentor, find a board of directors. And so I realized I have my…

Paul Epstein: Mmm, yeah.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Board member, director, that is the person I go to for parenting advice, the person I go to for career advice, the person I go to for politics and how to deal with that. The person I go to when I talk about finances and real estate, and it’s not just one mentor, it’s a board of directors that I can touch upon and ask questions to. Then I’m also not overwhelming any particular mentor with my questions, and I can be really specific and go after people with expertise in that area. Do you have?

Paul Epstein: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: A board of directors, who are the people that you look up to?

Paul Epstein: Yeah, great question. And I actually, so me being a coach myself, I have a coach. I do have a personal board of advisors, but frankly, my coaches are baked into that board of advisors. So I, I’ll just share my philosophy for coaches because it’s all one in the same. If the area of life is important to me, I have a coach. Couple of examples. I have a speaking coach. I have a podcast coach. I have a business coach.

I have a personal brand coach. In my health, I have a personal trainer. They’re a coach, you know, like, and I could keep going, but like, I practice what I preach. I invest money into the people that can help me in the areas of life that I believe are most important. That’s just, that’s been one of my growth strategies. It also allows me to authentically show up as a coach for others to say that.

Hey, I do the exact same thing and I plug into bigger communities as well. I’m starting my own win Monday community. Guess what? I’ve got a speaking community. I’ve got a big brand and business community. And like, I really do believe that the best investment that we can make is in ourselves. And by the way, if you’re listening to this, it doesn’t always have to cost money. In my cases, I do because I’m playing ball at a major league level where I say, well,

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Yeah.

Paul Epstein: I understand that for me to get that person in my life, for me to have them, yeah, there’s probably going to have to be some sort of an exchange, but that doesn’t always have to be the case. I believe coaches are out there in abundance. I believe mentors are out there in abundance, and it’s just about finding the right people. But I would say if the area of life is important to you, then invest in yourself in that area, attending workshops, attending events, attending conferences, and learning and growing and being curious. And also try to have a…person that has already done it. You know, there’s a big facade out there, especially social media, like how to 10x your, fill in the blank. And most of the people that say stuff like that haven’t even done it. They’re just doing it for clicks, and then they’re doing it for funnels and all that. They know it works, so buyer beware. Make sure that the person has got them bloody in the arena that you wanna commit your life to.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: So true. They know it works.

Paul Epstein: I only hire people that have already done it, and also they have failed in similar things, but then learned from it and grown from it, because I expect my path to be very imperfect.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: My next newsletter is gonna be, How to 10X your culture. It’s just outrageous. Yeah, okay. So my favorite question and the last question is, what is one thing that you don’t get asked in these interviews that you wish more people would ask you?

Paul Epstein: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And then everybody will read it, and then now you gotta have some good stuff in there, of course.

Paul Epstein: Mmm.

Paul Epstein: How do you turn the worst day of your life into the best day of your life?

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Oh yeah, do tell. How do you?

Paul Epstein: Well, we kicked off this conversation with me talking about losing my dad and losing my hero and I was only 19 years old.

Your world’s not gonna change overnight when you have something horrific happen, whether it’s a tragedy or whatever the case is. But what I believe is that over time, I truly, truly believe this, you will let yourself down before you let the most important person in your life down. I believe most human beings are wired that way. We don’t wanna disappoint the most important person in our life.

And sometimes that most important person, I hope that they’re still with you. I hope that they’re still living. I hope you can still give them a big old bear hug as soon as you’re listening to this. But in my case, I can’t because he’s in heaven. And I have accepted that over the years. And that’s what happens when you lose somebody like a hero. But here’s what I do know. I’ve dedicated my life to my hero. Hey, Paul, was it a great speech?

If I made my dad proud, the answer is hell yes. My measurement of success, my measurement of significance, my measurement of purpose, of impact, of contribution, if I’m making my dad proud, then that’s as good of a life as I could ever ask for. And so yes, something horrible happened. And no, I did not have this positive mind space a week later or a month later, of course not.

But as I’ve grown and as I’ve matured and as I’ve evolved and as I’ve healed from that time when I was 19 years old, I dedicate my entire life to making my dad proud. So my question for you is, who is that person for you? I’m talking to everybody that’s listening right now, everybody, who is the most important person in your life? And start with this, dedicate the next 12 months of your life, just the next year, to that person.

Paul Epstein: And your only goal is to make them proud and hold yourself accountable to that goal every day.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: What a beautiful way to end it. If our listeners want to hear more from you or learn more about you, where can they find you, Paul?

Paul Epstein: PaulEpsteinSpeaks.com, anything and everything from speaking to books, you name it, and actually what you’re also gonna find there, and I’d love to just share a free gift with everyone, you’ll see in the main nav bar, confidence quiz. So my invitation is if you wanna know your confidence score, one to 100, in less than five minutes, you can just take that confidence quiz. It’s a gift from my heart to you. And my closing words on that quiz is this.

Don’t think of confidence as a light switch where it’s either on or off. Think of it as a dimmer switch. Dimmers can go plus one, minus one, plus two, plus one, and that’s your confidence. You’re not either confident or unconfident. Your confidence in that quiz could say you’re a 94. Awesome, you’re an 82, fantastic. You’re a 70, cool. You’re a 48, fine, we got work to do, but it’s a dimmer switch.

It’s a dimmer switch and that’s the beauty. It’s just your data point of today. And then we hooked you up with some resources on the back end on how you can build and grow and sustain that unshakable confidence. So confidence quiz at paulefsteinspeaks.com, fire away and shoot me a DM. My email is paul at paulefsteinspeaks.com. If you have any, any questions after, happy to serve.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: I’m sure so many people will be reaching out. Thank you so much for your time, Paul. It was an absolute pleasure and a joy.

Paul Epstein: Thank you so much, Jessica.

Dr. Jessica Kriegel: Okay, we did it! Good job.

Paul Epstein: Kill!

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