Rob Michon | Strategies for Controlling Your Mental State

Rob Michon 7:37

day? Yes, yes, yeah, at least twice a day, if not more

John Corcoran 7:41

but you’re looking for, like maybe things that are happening at that ime, right?

Rob Michon 7:45

We’re trying to establish patterns for what’s bothering you. And it may be something completely nonsensical or something that quote unquote, shouldn’t bother you. But we want to identify what those things are instead of suppressing it, ignoring it, and just building up that tension. inside of you, you need to release that. But if we can find out what the root cause is of that, you know, emotion, then we can start to do something about removing it. So we’re not having to deal wit

John Corcoran 8:11

That’s great. My business partner, Jeremy, who you know, is a chiropractor, and he’s always talking about that, you know, we’ve got a pain in our back, but it’s probably something else that’s causing it, it could be that our shoes don’t fit well. So it affects our gait. So then that affects the pain in our back, but we prescribe some medication that makes the pain go away. But we haven’t really solved the problem, which was the shoes to begin with. So it’s kind of imagined kind of a similar idea. Now you’ve got to, you’ve had a really interesting career. You’ve had a number of different businesses, some of which you were, you’re saying candidly, beforehand, you know, you had all kinds of ups and downs and things like that. A real estate practice that you had to move with no notice of a dream business you’re working on, which was positioned to scale and you ran into problems with that one. So I’d love We love hearing people’s You know, struggles and ups and downs and humanizes us. I work for a president who is impeached and a governor who is recalled. So I’ve certainly been through that stuff myself. So tell tell me about some of your, you know, the war wounds you’ve experienced which color the experience of going into this uncertain economic 

Rob Michon 9:21

ime? Yeah, there was a business that I was running, actually the financial turnaround business that I was running. It turns out that there was a law on the books that had no case law. No, it hadn’t been tested before. It was just a law sitting there on the books. And really, nobody was aware of at least Well, me. Turns out for every client we were taking on, we were violating that law, so several hundred counts of a problem there. And then simultaneous or previous to that, the state had actually changed a few laws around that business, which basically cut us, cut the knees out from underneath us and put us out of business. So not only were we put out of business by the stroke of a pen at the state level, but also then I got a knock on the door from the Attorney General’s saying, Yeah, you need to contact us. You know, we need to have a discussion wit

John Corcoran 10:13

 you. So yeah, you were swept up in a task for so well, yeah. Like Did you have like the FBI knocking on your door banging on your door?

Rob Michon 10:19

No. Was it the state attorney general here? Well, you know, it was a result of that mortgage meltdown. There were a lot of people scamming homeowners promising they would say their house and they were just collecting money for them and never doing anything. Yeah. Meanwhile, you had what I would call institutionalized fraud, in that bankruptcy practitioners who are attorneys would take money from people to follow chapter 13 to quote unquote, save their house. Though eight in excess of 80% of chapter 13 filings would fail, then they would collect another check from them to file a seven to extinguish things and they would ultimately lose the house. What was interesting though, is we were able to save homes even after a chapter seven filing, but the attorneys had to do their homework to figure out that that could actually be done. They would tell their clients that they were going to lose their house unequivocally. The fact is that they wouldn’t. So anyway, there were all these scam artists that were taking advantage of people, we were actually doing phenomenal work. And I won’t get into how much better our clients were doing. But basically, most of our clients that if they did what we suggested they do, they were in the best financial shape of their lives as a result of the foreclosure action, but it took that action to actually clean up the root causes. And again, you I’m glad you brought up Jeremy because what most people were doing in that industry, even if they were doing legitimate work, they were dealing just with the symptoms, which is you know, trying to save the house. What we did is we said Listen, this is like having a financial heart attack. You don’t get up in the morning the next morning and just go back to work and resume your old routine. You need to convalesce. You might need some treatment, you might need some major surgery, and then it’s going to take some time to get back on their feet. So what we did is we used the system Kind of against itself because it was really kind of a, well, I won’t curse on your podcast, but it was not a favorable set of circumstances they would put people into in that regard. And it would cause delays and stuff like that which would heighten people’s anxiety, we actually would say, hey, let’s extend this as long as we can. So you can get back on your feet, here’s how to get back on your feet. Here’s what to do. By the time they came around, and they had to start resuming payments, they weren’t in fantastic shape. They had money in the bank, they had their stuff cleaned up, they had their expenses under control, and they had a system they could follow so they can stay healthy. So it was gratifying work. It was the kind of work where you feel like you’re the right person in the right place at the right time doing the right work in the right way. And then the state decided nobody can do this anymore. So anyway, yeah, as a result.

John Corcoran 12:48

Something similar happened in California as I recall. So I actually did a similar type of work. So I found myself in 2008, during the last economic meltdown. I was working for a firm that had a lot of real estate clients, all these real estate clients had a lot of real estate investments. And they started coming to us and saying I’m completely underwater and all these different properties, or my incomes gone down dramatically, I can’t afford to pay for them anymore. What should I do? And I had a similar experience where, on one hand, it’s actually a lesson in being an innovative entrepreneur. Because, you know, rather than saying, oh, we’re just going to continue advising investors who want to buy properties that the market has dried up. So instead, we pivoted, and we started helping people to unwind, you know, with their real estate problems. The problem was a lot of them didn’t have money, that was a big problem for us. But you know, it was rewarding work helping people. You know, because they came in, completely overwhelmed, unsure of what to do, and we had good information and we would help them and give them kind of a path forward and that sort of thing. What are some other lessons that you take away from that experience that time period that are applicable to today? What do you think are help

Rob Michon 14:02

ul for people? Yeah, absolutely. Um, some of your audience might be familiar with Dan Sullivan. From Strategic Coach, one of his statements that’s always stuck with me over the years is the most important thing an entrepreneur can do is protect their confidence. Now, Dan’s prescription for protecting your confidence is the three wins concept. He’s got a couple other ideas, but his main thing is that he still has that app called winning streak where you log three wins for the day each day. But the thing is, if you’re really in a crisis, you can’t even see the wins. Like you’re you won’t let yourself see the winds because you’re so attuned to risk. And if you look, just a layer or two deeper below confidence, what is confidence built? Confidence is built on a sense of certainty, and predictability. And when you’re in chaos, nothing’s predictable anymore. You can’t tell what’s quicksand. And what’s the beachhead? You just don’t know what you can trust anymore. So what I do do is I slip that because some people use gratitude to kind of get themselves back into shape. And that’s fine if you’re like a four on a 10 scale, but when you get to three to one on a one to 10 scale, you’re not, those techniques are not going to work. So what I did is, I said, here’s what we’ll do. The main issue is ambiguity and a lack of certainty. So here’s what we do, we flip that and we just do something different with it. So in the morning, what I advise you to do is to get up in the morning and write a list for five minutes of all the things you have control over, or you can decide. So for example, and this is gonna sound ridiculous, but simple tools actually work. So you get up in the morning and say, Okay, number one, I’m going to decide if I’m going to get out of bed or if I’m going to lay here, I’m going to decide what time I get out. I’m going to decide if I want to write this stinking list or not. Okay, I’m going to decide if I’m going to do this before I get dressed and take a shower or not. I’m going to decide whether I have breakfast, I’m going to decide what I eat if I have breakfast. So all these little tiny things that are seemingly Significant. As you start to inventory, all the things you actually have control over, you start to attenuate or are tuned to actually do have some control, there are some things I can count on. Now I have some stable ground, even if it’s the size of a manhole cover, I’ve got something that’s stable, that I can start to move forward on and to start to build my sensitivity to certainty as opposed to chaos. And you can slowly move yourself up like you know, I, for lack of a better word, that emotional ladder to get yourself out of that so you can get productive and start working on things with it with a s

John Corcoran 16:34

mi clear head. I love that. I’ve never heard that recommendation before but I think that’s just a brilliant idea. So now you know you work with people in sales a lot. Now you were the right sales teams, corralling them. How do you know to be resourceful? What are some of the unique challenges that sales teams are working with right now? And obviously we’re really early on here, but what could they expect in the weeks and months ahead?

Rob Michon 17:00

 Well, I think you need to change the conversation on life. You know, I’m not on LinkedIn earlier, but I am on Facebook. And I posted a Facebook question or I posted a question on my Facebook profile the other day, I said, What percentage of Facebook ads we’ve seen right now that are completely tone deaf, and I got answers from anywhere from my friends, my entrepreneurial friends, anywhere from 50% to I think Josh said something like 150%. And even my own clients, I you know, I, I probe around their website, and I want to make sure I see their retargeting and stuff like that. And I saw one today and I said, What can we do to stop this? We’ve got it, we’ve got to replace this like as fast as possible, because not only is a message that made sense three weeks ago, doesn’t make any sense right now. In fact, in some cases, it’s downright repugnant. And what you don’t want to do is kill your reputation because you’ve just left your recap or your retargeting on autopilot, you have to adjust the message to the time, even if it’s temporary, so you can meet people where they’re at. So I think the thing that we’re seeing right now Now, I, you know, I’ve got one client in the tradeshow industry, like that’s a brutal industry to be in right now, but is in

Rob Michon 18:08

that industry, but we are actually making sales in that, but we have to change how we approach that market. I was on a call, just actually earlier today with a guy named Alan Weiss. And he talked about the types of customers you can see in terms of crisis. And yet, you know, one of them is the hesitant, hesitant ones that he says, what does he say? So they need some guarantees, they need some confidence in the underlying structures of the economy and other institutions. And he pointed off several examples there. You have to give somebody a floor that they can stand on so they can start moving forward. So the messaging that we’re developing for a company like that, is very different. And it’s temporary. But we’re it’s interesting because it’s not just something we’re going to invest in now to develop and then scrap the minute we come up with The other side, we’re actually building a foundation to have a different type of conversation with our customers and prospects. And I guess I’ll bring up another thing if you’re, if you’re gonna let me run, I think the thing you want to ask yourself if you’re in a resourceful state, because this is not the kind of question you want to ask yourself without feeling at the top of your game. What makes this situation possible that was never possible before. Every business out there has been tolerating chronic conditions, problems, situations, things they’ve been putting up with for years. And we’re already seeing a lot of this bureaucracy we’re cutting through. Right now as a nation, for example, a lot of restrictions that have been in place for so long that was so important, suddenly aren’t so important in this situation. So I think it’s a way for you to rewrite the rules of your business to some degree, if you’re open to the opportunity. It may not come up right away. But if you consistently ask yourself that question when you’re in a good frame of Mind, you’ll start to see ways that you can reconfigure how you do things, the way you do things, the type of companies you work with the type of customers you take on and you don’t, how you work with your vendors, I don’t know where your opportunity lies, but there are lots of opportunities in these types of times. So, you’d be remiss not to take advantage of that. You have to manage your state properly in order to see them Otherwise, you’ll be

John Corcoran 20:24

blind to them. Yeah, that’s great. You know, one concern I keep hearing from different people is about how to not be seen as manipulative. You know, you you recommend it, I think it’s good advice to change your messaging, and to be you know, to articulate a message that is, you know, appropriate for the times, but how do you do that in a way that’s not manipulative, not taking advantage of the situation while also wanting 

Rob Michon 20:57

To help others. Right. Well, I think one way to do it is, you know, you can talk to your market in such a way where you say, you know, we’re cutting, we’re seeing two types of companies right now in this type of circumstance, one is just hunkering down and they’re just trying to stay alive, okay. And we have some things that we can do to help you stay afloat during this, just so you can, you know, maintain your heartbeat until we come out the other side. So we have some stuff to help you address that, and, you know, keep you alive. We also see some other companies that actually have resources that they can tap into, and they’re going to build for the future. So when we come out the other size side, they can capitalize on this and increase their market share and, you know, hopefully, in some way rent or even a better service or product than they had in the past. So you know, which type of company are you and then that helps us determine how we can help you. So I think there’s some advice that I’ve seen out there, where you reach out to your customers and say, How can I help you? That’s too much of a cognitive load and it’s too much responsibility to place on them. You need to come forward with some options. I don’t like the management principle for a couple different reasons. But there’s a management principle out there where you tell your employees, if you’re going to come to us with a problem, we got to come up with some potential solutions. We can talk about the dangers of, you know why that doesn’t work. But that might be a different conversation. But I think the thing that you want to do is, if you’re dealing with other companies or customers in crisis, you want to approach them with some options, as opposed to forcing them to think about how you can help them. Does that make sense? 

John Corcoran 22:27

Yeah, absolutely. You know, I also want to ask about, you know, I was having a conversation with the client the other day. And this was someone who had spent a lot of his career focusing on helping travel industry companies, which of course travel is just crushed right now. And, you know, I was talking to him about Look, there’s lots of opportunity out there, there are companies that are growing Amazon’s hiring hundred thousand people. CVS, Walgreens Lowe’s, like a bunch of companies there, zoom Slack, you know, companies like that, that do software for remote distributed workforces. So You know, what point do companies need to decide that they need to completely pivot and go to a completely different industry? And also, how do you do that? How do you pivot on a time? It’s something you’ve done throughout your career? How do you pivot into a new industry? At a time when you don’t really have a lot of time to make a deliberate transition?

Rob Michon 23:24

Well, one, you gotta let go of the idea that you’re going to make a deliberative transition, it’s not going to be deliberative, it’s going to be, you’re going to have to the things that I think you’d want to do is number one, like I said, with that prompt earlier, he’s got to figure out or you got to realize that there are opportunities being created on the spot. Here’s another thing that I think is important. One of the biggest advantages for a small to medium sized business is their ability to go with the flow and pivot and I think a lot of companies once they reach a certain stage, they get a little calcified and a little tight and a little slow and a little overly deliberative. If you follow on into that trap where you have to Regiment, you know, you have to follow a certain regimen to make a decision, probably going to want to unravel that and just get a little less attached to appearances and more on results. So your stuffs not going to be polished, and you’re going to make mistakes and it’s okay. I took a class a couple years back online with some Penn State engineers. They were engineering professors and they said, the success in this class, your success in this class is going to be determined by the frequency and the intensity of your failures. You got to just get comfortable with you know what, we’ve been in business 510 15 years we haven’t been in that mode since you know, I was I hired my first employee, you got to get back in the mindset of being a bootstrapper and a little less control concerned about you know, do I look perfect is every hair in place because It’s not how it works and in situations like this, so one is let go of that, that attachment to appearances. The second thing is, let go of your attachment to what was if you let go of what was and loosen up a little bit, what you’re going to find is what becomes possible going forward is much more attractive and much better. There’s so many things in life. And I can’t think of a specific example. But there’s countless examples out there, of where you felt like you had to hold on to something. And you end up if you retain it going forward. You’re like, why did I hang on to this? I hang on to this client, or why did we continue to produce this product line? Like this is terrible, like, so you really have to take a cold, hard calculation, look at what I have been tolerating in my business? What’s less than ideal about the way things work? What were we just bitching about like three weeks ago? rip, you know, I mean, if you look at political discourse, it’s gotten it’s changed in a lot of ways. What were we complaining about or putting up with that we no longer have to put up with and how can we reorient ourselves, and either offer a new service repackage of what we have, or maybe go after a new client that’s suddenly come up and surfaced with needs that we can service. But you have to really you have to let go of your attachment to what was because what was it’s not going to be what’s what’s in place

John Corcoran 26:18

in the future. Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. You know, so many when I was practicing law, so many legal clients had that situation where they were stuck in some kind of broiled bitter battle with a former business partner or vendor, whatever. And once they let go of it, it just led to huge growth. And then as to what you said, about letting go of your attachment to appearances. I totally agree with that a couple years ago, when Jeremy and I decided that we would start helping other businesses to especially b2b businesses, to get clients leads using the podcast, the they’re in the early versions of that I look back and I cringe now, you know, and these two guys had been podcasting for eight plus years, both of us, you know, into into to really look At what we initially started with, it was so scrappy and bootstrapped. But it was absolutely the right decision. You know, I think a lot of times people spend too much time and energy and attention trying to make something perfect, rather than just getting out there and getting feedback f

Rob Michon 27:14

om the market. The other thing to add on to that is, you’re gonna you’re gonna like the customers, you take on that will take you as you are, if you have customers that you lose or can’t break through to because you don’t look the part that may not be a high quality customer for you. Right.

John Corcoran 27:31

Yeah, right. Yeah, they might not be, they might be seeking the wrong things. I think that’s great. I know we’re running low on time, and you have to get going. Any final thoughts for any, you know, entrepreneurs, founders, CEOs, business people out there, who are looking at these kind of crazy times that we’re in right now and reassurance that you can give them that there are brighter futures ahead because I say to people all day long as I talk to people, and I’m sure you do as well, this too shall pass like we got through 911 there were times after 911, where it seemed like oh my gosh, we’re never going to get out of this. There were times in 2008, where it seemed like oh my gosh, we’re never going to get through this, you know. And this we will get through. It might take a while It will take a while, but we’ll get through it.

Rob Michon 28:14

Yeah, I’m actually I think, here’s what I would suggest. And this is a wild one. There is a book on Amazon called I hear you. And I think it’s Michael Sorenson or something like that. It’s not a widely distributed book, and I’ve never heard anybody reference it. He’s got a model for just how to listen to people such that they feel heard. And it’s not any of this reflective listening garbage. Or, let me see if I’ve heard you correctly. I hate that stuff. It’s so gross. But Find yourself a partner that you can kind of just dump on and vent and they’ll just follow that model. If you can get that out to someone particularly made a fellow entrepreneur if you can find one who kind of understands what things are like As a business owner, as opposed to just, you know, Gen pop, and follow that model and get it out, one of the things I’ve said over the years is most entrepreneurs find a shrink if they don’t already have one just to vent, get that stuff out. Follow that model. So you can just let it go. It’s easy to let that go get it out. That’ll help you kind of reorient. Get back to, you know, an equilibrium state and just feel better about the future. Yeah, I think that’d b

John Corcoran 29:29

 very helpful. I love that. Well, Rob, I want to wrap things up with the question that I always ask people. So let’s pretend we’re an awards banquet, much like the Oscars and the Emmys and you’re receiving an award for lifetime achievement for everything you’ve done up until this point. But I want to know, we all want to know who are the people you would acknowledge? Who are the the peers, the friends, the mentors, business partners, not just family and friends, of course, family friends, but beyond family friends, who are the people that you would acknowledge i

Rob Michon 29:54

 your remarks? Wow, such a long list. Ah, yeah, um, Well, let’s just start from what got me here. I think Glenn Livingston is one of the first people I think. We started working together a long time ago where nobody knew who I was. And largely, that may still be the case. I’ll say thanks to Ryan lobeck. I think we learned a lot about each other. And we learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t. I would say thanks to Paul Lemberg. He’s always been an interesting viewpoint and a good guide for what works and what doesn’t. I’m gonna thank my mom though. My mom, I got it. If you don’t mind, humor me here. My mom taught me that I could do anything I put my mind to if I thought she could touch me. I could do anything I wanted to as long as I put my mind to it, but she actively demonstrated she just didn’t just say it. So I’ll give you an example. My dad had ms when I was growing up. And he could not function. You know, physically he couldn’t. I wanted to learn how to throw a football. He couldn’t do it because he didn’t have adequate control of his faculties. So my mom said, you know what I bet you if you go to the library, there’s probably a book on that you could probably learn how to do it. So she told me to take my bike and I went eight blocks to the library, got myself a library card, and went down the sports section. And there were lots of books on how to learn how to throw a football, I got myself a book on how to learn to throw a football, and I actually taught myself how to do it. That’s a skill that that’s a skill and an ingrained belief in myself that I could never have learned any other way than her demonstrating it. So it’s not that she told me it, but she showed me how to do it. And from that point forward, you know, she’s largely right, I’ve been able to do whatever it is I put my mind to. So if you’re a parent, and you’re thinking that you want to support your kid in a way that’s meaningful and will stick with them for life, tell them that but then show them how to do it the first time or two and deal with having built a self resilient individual. Where there wouldn’t have been one otherwise? 

John Corcoran 32:01

Yeah, all the younger kids listening or now it’d be like, why wouldn’t you just Google it? I don’t understand 

John Corcoran 32:09

Right? Yeah. Why wouldn’t Why didn’t he just watch a YouTube video? I don’t understand, you know? Yeah, young kids these days. Rob, where can people go to learn more about you?

Rob Michon 32:19

You know, look me up on Facebook. You and I are friends on Facebook. It’s just the easiest way to find me. I’m a little under the radar kind of guy. I’m not a big social media dude. But you can find me on Facebook, Robert Michon. And I’m a friend of John. So any friend of John can be a friend of mine. Exactly. 

John Corcoran 32:37

Cool way to bet and it will get you on LinkedIn sooner or later because we will. We will do that. Some of my great past guests on the show turned friends have come through connecting on LinkedIn. So I encourage you to everyone. So Rob, thanks so much. Thank you. 

Outro 32:51

Thank you for listening to the Smart Business Revolution podcast with John Corcoran. Find out more at And while you’re there, sign up for our email list and join the Revolution. And be listening for the next episode of the Smart Business Revolution podcast.