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I’ve always said if you can change your body, you can change your life

Working out and getting in shape makes us better at everything. So it’s no surprise that many people who start paying attention to their diet and training also start to evaluate other areas of their life.

One of those areas is a place where we spend a lot of our waking hours: work. 

Countless people these days live as zombies–just punching in their time cards as a necessary evil and living for the weekend. And many young people are faced with the daunting task of deciding what they want to do with their life right after they blow out the candles after 18 revolutions around the sun. 

How do you get out of the rat race? How do you find your dream job?

“Follow your passion” is a popular trope, but it’s not necessarily the best advice. 

Some people get the itch to become an entrepreneur and for good reason. There are many perks to owning your own business, but it’s not for everyone. It’s easy to focus on the pluses without realizing how much work is really involved.

Spend enough time on YouTube and you’re sure to see enough clever ads and (misleading) videos to be convinced that everyone except you is actually a millionaire. Simply implement the magic formula and you’ll not only become your own boss, but never work again. 😉

As someone who has taken the entrepreneurial plunge and built several successful businesses, I get asked for career advice. While I’m happy to help as much as I can, I wanted to get a true career expert on the show. 

In this episode, I chat with Ashley Stahl, who just released her book, You Turn: Get Unstuck, Discover Your Direction, and Design Your Dream Career. Ashley is a former national security professional that worked at the Pentagon who practiced what she preaches, shifting to author, entrepreneur, and career coach, who helps people become unstuck in their professional lives.

In our chat, we discuss . . .

  • The 10 core skillsets and how these relate to your talents and career path
  • The true causes of unhappiness at a job
  • What to do if you’re considering a big career leap
  • Why finding your dream job isn’t all about “doing what you love”
  • And more . . .

So if you’re unhappy with your job, feeling stuck in your career, or just not sure what to do with your life, this podcast might be the kick in the pants you need. Whether you’re looking to make a career shift to the fitness industry, or just want some advice on escaping a job you loathe, this podcast is for you!


9:28 – What would be your next move if you don’t like the job you have now?

13:12 – How would these steps work for someone who thinks they don’t have any talents?

19:11 – What are the 10 skill sets?

40:00 – What are the two reasons why you might not like what you do?

44:48 – What would you say to someone who is stuck in the loop of “should I make the leap?”

56:52 – What does “find out who you are” mean to you?

Mentioned on The Show:

Ashley Stahl’s Podcast (You Turn Podcast)

Ashley Stahl’s Book

Ashley Stahl’s Career Clarity Quiz

Books by Mike Matthews

What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!


Mike: Hello Fredo. Welcome to Muscle for Life. I’m Mike Matthews. Thank you for joining me today. Now, something that I’ve been saying for a long time is if you have the power to change your body, you have the power to change your life. And that’s something I really do believe. That’s, for example, why I wrote a whole book that is centered around that idea, around that theme called The Little Black Book of Workout Motivation, which you should totally check out if you haven’t already.

And in this episode, you’re gonna hear me and Ashley Stahl talk about one area of our lives that most of us always want to do better in, regardless of how well we are currently doing. And that is work. And unfortunately, many people are not doing well in their careers. They spend their days. Punching in punching out, thinking of work as a necessary evil for enjoying the weekends and enjoying vacations.

And many people feel stuck in their careers. They don’t see any real path to upward mobility, to more responsibility and more income. Many people have decided they don’t want more income if it means more responsibility, because more responsibility sounds about as appealing as gas station sushi. Many young people in particular have no idea what they want to do or what they should study, or how they should go about finding a career should they follow their passion, for example.

Many people say that, but I think that is very, very bad advice, and that’s something that you’re gonna hear about in this episode. Entrepreneurship is becoming a more and more popular option, which can have. Many pluses, of course, if it goes very well, but also entails a lot of risk and has significant downsides that many people who push entrepreneurship don’t honestly talk about.

I would liken them to the secret steroid users who tell people that they can get bigger and stronger forever. That there is no limit to how big and strong they can get. Because look at me. I’m a natural weightlifter and I’ve gained 55 pounds of muscle since I started lifting weights 30 years ago, and I’m still getting bigger and stronger.

And if I can do it, you can do it too. And that is complete bs. The average guy will never be able to gain more than maybe 40 or 45 pounds of muscle in his lifetime, regardless of what he does. And similarly in the entrepreneurship space, when you look at these statistics of how many businesses, Fail in the first year and in the first five years, and then look at how many businesses survive 10 years, for example.

Look at how many businesses make it to seven figures. Just break a million dollars in annual sales. And then eight figures, 10 million in sales. You realize that the vast majority of businesses just don’t work, and many, many businesses that do work that are able to reach critical mass and acquire enough customers and retain enough customers to turn a profit consistently aren’t very profitable.

Don’t make the owners of those businesses all that much money. Many of those people really just have a shittier job now. Because the business requires a lot of different types of hats being worn and requires a lot of drudgery. Whereas a job can allow you to focus on one skillset that you’re really good at and not have to worry about payroll, for example, and not have to worry about managing inventory and not have to worry about HR and legal compliance, and a lot of the other rigmarole that comes with owning a business that you can’t effectively delegate until your business becomes quite profitable.

And so anyway, as somebody who has built a couple of successful businesses, including my sports nutrition company Legion, which. Currently does eight figures in annual sales and which is still growing fairly rapidly. The top line will grow 40 to 50% this year, for example, as well as my publishing company, which currently just publishes my own stuff, but I may want to expand that in the future and publish other people’s stuff as well.

That business does seven figures in annual revenue and is continuing to grow. I am often asked for career advice, for entrepreneurship advice, and while I’m happy to share as much as I can and help as much as I can and make good book recommendations, you know, books that have really helped me. I wanted to get a true career expert on the show, and that is Ashley.

Stahl, who just released a book called U-Turn and who is a former national security professional who worked at the Pentagon and who now of course does very different work. So she really is somebody who practices what she preaches. She’s now an author, an entrepreneur, and a career coach who helps people become unstuck in their professional lives, just as she did in her own professional life.

And in this episode, we talk about 10 core skill sets that relate to. Chosen career path that allow you to look at your talents and look at your personality and find work that you are going to actually enjoy. Find work that you are going to not only be good at, but that you are going to get fulfillment from.

Ashley talks about some of the real causes, some of the non-obvious causes of unhappiness at a job, and what to do and what to consider if you think it might be time to make a big career leap, and why finding your dream job isn’t just about doing what you love. That if your primary criterion for choosing a job is it must be something that you love, you’re looking for what you love, you are almost certain to miss the mark and more so if you’re unhappy with your job or maybe feeling a bit stuck in your career, or maybe you’re just not sure what to do in your work or in your life.

I think you’re gonna like this podcast and who knows, it might provide you with. Just the right information or the right motivation to make a major and positive. Also, if you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my health and fitness books, including the number one best selling weightlifting books for men and women in the world.

Bigger, leaner, stronger, and thinner. Leaner, stronger, as well as the leading flexible dieting cookbook, the Shredded Chef. Now, these books have sold well over 1 million copies and have helped thousands of people build their best body ever, and you can find them on all major online retailers like Audible, Amazon, iTunes, Cobo, and Google Play, as well as in select.

Barnes and Noble Stores, and I should also mention that you can get any of the audiobooks 100% free when you sign up for an Audible account. And this is a great way to make those pockets of downtime, like commuting, meal prepping, and cleaning more interesting, entertaining, and productive. And so if you want to take Audible up on this offer, and if you want to get one of my audiobooks for free, just go to Legion, that’s b u y and sign up for your account.

So again, if you appreciate my work and if you wanna see more of it, and if you wanna learn time proven and evidence-based strategies for losing fat, building muscle, and getting healthy, and strategies that work for anyone and everyone, regardless of age or circumstances, please do consider picking up one of my best selling books, bigger, leaner, stronger for Men, thinner, leaner, stronger for Women, and the Shredded Chef for my favorite fitness friendly recipes.

Hey, Ashley, welcome to my podcast. Thank you for having me. Yeah, yeah, this was an interesting guest request. It caught my eye because what we’re gonna be talking about today is something that I do get asked a fair amount about because I have, I guess, a, a fair number of entrepreneurs in my orbit and people who just want to do better in their career.

And because a lot of those people are familiar with what I’ve done with publishing books and building a sports nutrition company, I’ll just get questions like, should I start a business? I’m really not happy and with my work, how did you find your way into what you’re doing? Because it’s a bit unconventional how I got there, and I feel like I have decent advice because I have a bit of experience, my own experience, and I’ve read.

Books, but I haven’t worked with people like you have, so I often feel like my advice just falls flat. Like I’m much better at teaching people how to get jacked than how to find satisfaction and fulfillment. 

Ashley: Hmm. Well, I could probably use some help getting jacked, but 

Mike: I’m your guy that I know. Yeah. 

Ashley: But I will say, you know, not having clarity is probably one of the most expensive mistakes that people make in their career, and I’m glad to hear that people are asking you about it, and I’m sure that your advice is doing more than you realize.

Just being someone who’s kind of self-actualized in some way through podcasting, through your products, through everything that you’re putting out there. I think that there is kind of a wisdom to anyone who has really stepped into the path. But I’ve found that there’s kind of three lily pads in your career, and I’ve been reflecting on this a lot since getting my book out there.

And the first one, I think a lot of people hang out on. Is not really liking their job or their business and not really being willing to go ask those questions or do a deep dive to figure out what that thing is for them. That should be their next move. And the reason they don’t, I get it. It’s really inconvenient to ask questions because then you get answers and then it becomes uncomfortable not to do something about them.

And so I do think that most people in the world are kind of sleepwalking, especially in their careers and it’s, it’s odd because I think to myself, well if you don’t have clarity, then you know your resume or your business becomes sometimes a graveyard of trial and error. That’s one thing. Secondly, you can’t really be happy outside of work.

I mean, all of the research shows that if you don’t like your career, you’re more likely to gain weight, get sick, and have relationship problems. And it makes sense. Like how are you supposed to turn on a switch after 5:00 PM If you hate nine to five, be it an that you’re an entrepreneur or in the workforce.

So, That first lily pad of not really liking where you’re at, but not wanting to ask those questions. Or maybe you’re willing to ask yourself, why don’t I like this? What can I do? But you’re not actually willing to take that call inside of you that might actually unravel your life for a while so that you can put it back together and honor who you are and where you’re at.

And I think the second lilypad is kind of where I try to get people in my work. That’s the lily pad of knowing what your gifts are and knowing how to show up in the workforce or in your business in a way that lines up with your core skillset. So the overarching message of my work, and especially my book, is Don’t do what you love.

Instead do what you are, what you love matters. But what you are, your core skillset, your natural gifts, your talents, I think that matters so much more. And that’s why I unlocked about 10 core skillsets that I think exist in the workforce. And when you know what your core skillset is, I think that gets you onto that second Lilly pad where you know where your gifted and when you know what core skillset you are, it kind of opens up a flow chart where there’s hundreds of different job titles or business services that exist under one core skillset.

And when you know what that gift is for you, in my case, my skillset is words. So you’re gonna see everything I do riding on words in some way. That’s what I’m harnessing. I think that’s what kind of gets you into that zone where you’re operating in your gift. It’s kind of like you’re in a river current where when you’re operating in your gift, certain opportunities start coming your way because people recognize greatness.

You know, people recognize when they’re around someone who knows what they’re doing, who has skills, who has talents, and those are the people when they know there’s zone of genius and they’re working in it that rise quickly in their career. These are the people that are happier outside of work. I mean, the research is there to back it.

And I do think that when you access that second lily pad of being willing to ask the questions, being willing to make a change, being willing to work in your gifts, that lands you into the third lily pad as a possibility. And I do think it can take years from going from the second one to the third one.

And I think the third one is straight up dharma. That’s like when you are in like whatever divine gifts you have and you are doing something on such a high vibration for yourself that. And I don’t even mean to speak in spiritual language. I think that this is just very practical across the board.

You’re called to do something higher than you and you can’t really access that level of calling and self-actualization unless you figure out what your gifts are unless you get into that second current. And that’s what my work is really about, is giving people the opportunity to work in their gifts so that they can then have that opportunity to move into a higher level of creation, self-actualization and 

Mike: work.

And how does that work for people who would say that they really don’t have any idea what quote unquote gifts they may have? For some people, it’s obvious people who have worked on developing certain skills, for example. But for many people, like I’m thinking of young people I’ve spoken with, and even not so young people who have maybe been in the workforce for some time doing different types of work, but really haven’t developed something that they would say they are.

Very good at, or maybe even good at. Like they may just think, I don’t know. I’m guess I’m kind of okay at a few different things, but how do I know what is the one? Yeah, 

Ashley: I love that. Well, I feel like, you know, job hunting is a lot like, you know, finding love and finding the person you spend your life with.

I think the message we get at a young age is, Get it right the first time. Like people are paralyzed by the thought that they need to lock into something, whether it’s a business or a job, and they need to grow it. And there’s such a miss there because what we’re really doing is the equivalent of saying the first person you ever date, whether you’re five years old on the preschool playground or not, however you find that person your first crush, that’s who you marry and you better get it right.

That’s kind of what we’re doing to people in their career. So I think the first thing is to take the pressure off yourself and notice how you’re holding your career. So any of those entrepreneurs that are messaging you, any of those job seekers, I would say, are you giving yourself permission to hold your career lightly and be experimental with it?

Because that is necessary for some form of self-actualization in your work. And I’m interested in helping people figure out what their skills are, who they are, so that they can wrap a career around that. And so I think the second piece is just paying attention. And to what kind of noise you’ve been buying into for a lot of your life?

A lot of our lives, like I remember when I was a kid, I was told about being a veterinarian, a lawyer. What else was I taught? A teacher, a firefighter, maybe on a wild day I’d hear about being an astronaut. You know, like the options were quite limited. I think the next piece of the puzzle, beyond being experimental, beyond questioning the beliefs that you’ve been told or bought into or even what you witnessed growing up, like all of us watch our caretakers in our, in their career, and it sends us messages like, did your mom, your dad, or your caretaker talk about success?

Did they talk about money? What was the conversation like in your house? And what did you grow up believing about yourself and about the world in your career? So that’s the two pieces. And then the third piece, that is really what my book is about and what my podcast is about. And what I’m really trying to get out there as a message is around these 10 core skill sets.

So kind of to answer your question of like, how does somebody kind of sift through all of the options according to research? Friends know if your marriage is going to last before you do. Like they know what your relationship is destined for. And I haven’t heard 

Mike: that, but I immediately agree with it. I just, I just think back.

Yeah. Cause they’re neutral people. I mean, not even just marriages, but sometimes it’s girlfriends where within a week it’ll be the friends group will. Conclude this is not gonna happen. And sometimes to the protest of the person that we are adjudicating for, but usually has come outright. 

Ashley: Yes, because people are a neutral, your friends are a neutral party.

The only skin they have in the game is your happiness. They don’t care about, obviously they care about you, but they don’t care that you wanna find somebody faster or that you wanna, you know, couple up and have a family Right now also, they have 

Mike: no connection to the other person. Exactly. They have no emotional connection.

So it’s very easy to just be objective and see. Are these people compatible? Do they have the same goals or at least similar goals? Do they have a similar worldview? Do they behave in at least compatible ways and so forth? 

Ashley: A hundred percent. And this is often why this is the case with our career. People can look and they can see when you’re synced up with something that you’re meant for, they can see when you’re working out of your zone of genius.

There have been so many times I’ve gone into companies for some sort of consulting thing or another, and I can tell pretty quickly in a conversation if somebody is working in a zone where they’re gifted or not. And it costs the company so much money and it costs the person so much stress. And so I would say if it’s helpful, Mike, I can go through the 10 core skillsets that I discovered just kind of briefly as a list.

Because what I will say is if you look at the 10 core skillsets that I write about and you ask the people in your life, when have you seen me at my best? Maybe you wanna ask your parents, a couple of colleagues that you feel comfortable asking a couple of friends that are somewhat close to you. When you look at what people’s answers are, and I always recommend people text or email this question, you know, so you can say, you know, like this crazy career coach that Mike had on, you know, was asking me to ask you this.

But if you say, when have you seen me at my best? What you’re gonna see is people are gonna reflect, they’re gonna answer it. You can read what they write, and usually those answers, you’re gonna see a pattern in what skill you’re using, where people see you as gifted. You’re gonna be able to tune into your own intuition of which one really feels like a zone of genius for you.

Because if you ask people that don’t really spend time with you, you’re probably not gonna get that accurate of a. And that being said, there’s still value in their answer. And then you can take a look at my 10 core skill sets, words being one of them, as I talked about. And you can ask yourself, which one of these skills are people pointing me to?

Where are people celebrating me? Because the slippery thing about your skills and where you’re gifted is that it’s what’s obvious to other people is not always obvious for you. Like for. Spelling like I was in spelling bees when I was a kid, like spelling English writing. That’s just obvious to me. Like it’s natural.

I don’t have to think about it. I didn’t even realize, you know, even now just becoming an author, how many people have written me and said, gosh, like you’re storytelling. I’m learning so much. It’s like, it’s just so affirming for me to really collect the feedback. So I would say going through those skillsets would probably be helpful.

Yeah, yeah, please do. Let’s go through them. All right. Awesome. So I feel like your podcast listeners are note takers like mine. So I’ll get your notepads out. Anybody who. Listening, hopefully. So number one with skillsets is just remember that these are not just tactical skills. They’re energies that you kind of enter into.

It’s how you’re expelling your energy throughout the day. So the first one is innovation. This is for the creative self-starter, the problem solver. This is the. Entrepreneur, the creative self-starter within a company or the entrepreneur, usually the founder or the creator of the idea. Usually the entrepreneur is going to rise quickly in the ranks because you often see big minds that are innovators like Ellan Musk for example.

Steve Jobs. They usually have a really brilliant second in command, and I think being an entrepreneur versus someone in the workforce is a very interesting topic for this particular skillset because one thing that I’ve learned over the years is not everybody’s meant for entrepreneurship, and that’s totally okay.


Mike: spoken about this too, and I, I’ve tried to give people some objective criteria to think with before getting into business for themselves. Because what we don’t want we entrepreneurs, is we don’t want. A job that is worse than a job we could get working for a company that we liked. We don’t want a shittier job.

That’s not the reason to have a business. 

Ashley: 100%. And it’s really crazy to me, the amount of pressure that we see on the internet to become an entrepreneur. I feel like it’s kind of like, and I don’t know if you’ve talked about this or you’re on the side of like the 5:00 AM club and like own your Morning.

But for me, I’ve read that, you know, being a morning person, while you can create that for yourself, it’s genetic. Like there are genetics behind it. Um, and so for me it’s like really honoring your own flow and rhythm is so important. And so with entrepreneurship it’s like, I kind of think about two touchpoints outside of being an innovator.

Number one is what is your relationship between flexibility and freedom? I think a lot of entrepreneurs need all out freedom, like they feel a visceral pain. If they don’t have creative freedom. They’re not afraid of stepping into that freedom. They wanna work when they wanna work. They wanna create what they wanna create versus I think a lot of people just need basic flexibility.

And I think the shift right now during the pandemic, Remote work has given people like an opportunity to scratch that itch that they didn’t even realize they needed. And it’s probably subsided some of that need for a lot of people in questioning whether they should be an entrepreneur. And then the second thing is just your relationship around risk with money.

You know, what’s your relationship with financial security and are you willing, you know, what’s your relationship with being creative and taking those financial risks? So when I look at the innovators, those are some of the questions I have. Is there anything that you have offered around this Mike that maybe you wanna add to that?

Cause that sounds really 

Mike: interesting. Yeah, so I’ve spoken about both of those things, particularly the how much risk tolerance do you have? Because whether you want to grow a business, I mean you’re, if you have a business, you want to grow it. So if you want to grow it at a moderate pace, you’re gonna have to be okay with more risk, more financial risk than the average person.

If you want to grow it quickly, then you’re gonna have to be okay with a lot more financial risk, unless you have. A lot of money behind you, but even then, it may be somebody else’s money, but it doesn’t necessarily just feel like, I don’t, I don’t care what happens. That’s somebody else’s money. No. In some cases, actually, because most people are good people and they want to discharge their responsibilities honorably, they might feel even more pressure that they raised millions of dollars and they have to hit certain KPIs and they meet certain promises to the investors and so forth.

And so I’ve spoken about that. I’ve also spoken about just the willingness to work and to work long hours. Like I’ve said, for example, that if somebody can’t comfortably work, Let’s just call it 50 ish hours per week. And by that I mean actually work focused work. It’s not all gonna be deep work. That would be a bit much for, I don’t even know if I could be that productive in deep work mode every week.

So there’s gonna be a mixture of the more highly focused, like writing, for example, it’s hard to do 50 hours of productive writing per week really, unless you factor in emails and tweets and stuff. But you’re writing a book, for me at least, probably four or five hours a day is about it until I kind of feel like a potato and then I need to do something else.

But if you can’t comfortably work probably 50 ish hours per week, more or less indefinitely. And I’d say that’s a minimum it, that to me is kind of like table stakes. Mm-hmm. For if you wanna start and build a business that is maybe more than just an Amazon business. Yeah. Because there are exceptions, right?

So if you wanna sell a trinket on Amazon and make a little bit of money, That’s not very hard if you know what to do. But if you want to build an organization that is going to require hiring people and that is going to hopefully turn into a seven, eight plus whatever figure business, then it’s just gonna require a lot of work.

So I’ve spoken about that as well, that people need to be honest with themselves about how hard are they willing to work and how much can they comfortably work, and how long can they do that for? Because I’ve just seen many examples of people who were very excited to start a business and they were excited to be right, to be a ceo, to be an entrepreneur, and, and they were excited to tell people that in parties, but they just didn’t have the capacity to work.

And yeah, so I’ve spoken about that and uh, I’ve also spoken about the importance I think of education. I mean, on my podcast here, I do, once a month or so, I’ll do a book review and it’s like a little book club series. And in the intro, To those episodes, I talk about how important I think it is to continually educate yourself.

And I mean, I go as far as saying, if you are not continually educating yourself in how to achieve whatever goals you’ve set for yourself, doesn’t just mean financial or business goals. It could be relationship, it could be body, it could be familial, whatever, or bigger. It could be society. Maybe you want to have a real big impact.

If you’re not continually educating yourself on how to achieve those goals, your chances of success are. At least the base rate, chance of success is low. Now, some people are kind of larger than life and they have extraordinary will and intention and personalities, and they can through, uh, just the force of their existence alone, make some pretty amazing things happen with very little education.

And I don’t mean formal education, I just mean like reading books, for example. If you want to get into business, if you’re an entrepreneur, and I’ll ask this question to people who are either just starting out in business and struggling or thinking about getting into business. I’ll ask how many books have you read on the topic?

And if the answers. Zero or maybe one. Or if they’re not like consistently educating themselves, that’s another red flag. And I, I try not to tell people, black and white, don’t do it. You’re gonna fail. Or Hey, yeah, this is a shoe-in. I look at it more through the lens of probability and in my life and in my business, I’m looking for high probability plays.

I’m okay with pursuing low probability if I know it’s low probability and if I’ve calibrated my expectations and my commitment of resources accordingly. And so I’m kind of just rambling. But those are some of the ideas that I’ve shared with people. Yeah. I love 

Ashley: what you’re sharing and I also, it’s kind of pointing to a.

Kind of theoretical piece of content that I’ve talked about a lot in my book, which is the two dynamics of your career. And I’ll get back into the skillsets for anybody who’s writing these down after the innovation one. But the two dynamics that I write about a lot are the what of your career, which is your core skillset, how you’re putting your energy into your day, what gift you’re using, and how that translates into your day-to-day responsibilities, which I think is the key.

But the second dynamic of your career is the how of your career. So once you get clear on what your, what is, what your skillset is, which we’ll talk about, there’s the how, which is how your career looks, how your business looks, how your job looks. Given that 50% of people leave their job because they don’t like their boss.

What we know is that how your job looks matters. So you know, the people who are leaving their job might love what they’re doing as a job, but if they don’t love who they’re working with or something else, that is really important for them, particularly, we’re gonna see that show up in their happiness with their job.

And so for me, the how is more about your core values? And what are the non-negotiable principles by which you live your life? I do think also your career decisions beyond your course skillset. And your values kind of like we touched on earlier, is impacted by your upbringing cuz it’s interesting listening to you.

I definitely agree that you have to be willing to put in a lot of time if you wanna start a business. And for me that was absolutely the case. But also I grew up not really feeling well. And it wasn’t until recently, I was just telling you before we started recording that I got my diagnosis of Lyme disease.

And it’s interesting because it has inspired me without me knowing to work less out of necessity because I didn’t feel well. And so I think that there’s something really powerful about a person’s needs and their willingness to fight for that need or create around that need. My need was, I don’t feel well.

I can’t work 50 hours a week. There’s a certain point where that came up and that being said, I was willing to put in a time to create a business that worked for me. Just to 

Mike: quickly comment on that. That’s interesting and it sounds though that it wasn’t a matter of willingness cuz that’s very different whether somebody is willing.

To work hard, but maybe can’t do to circumstances or temporarily can’t do to circumstances that is a different person than somebody who is unwilling to work hard just because, you know what I mean? Yeah, 

Ashley: totally. And I think willingness and that, that’s the thing about entrepreneurship. Nobody really, we get so focused on creating something, and I’m sure you see this mike, or you’ve felt this, where once you create the thing and it’s making money, Showing some sign of traction or success.

I feel like every entrepreneur has this moment, or maybe it was just me, where it’s like, oh damn, I need to keep this thing going. And what it took to create it is nothing like what it’s going to take to sustain it. The market changes. Your marketing channels change. Things change, you know? So for me it’s like having that stamina is such a big deal.

I’m glad that you brought that 

Mike: up. And then you’re always wondering, at least in the beginning, I remember I was, or it was, I wouldn’t say it was at the level of an anxiety or an existential dread, but it was a curiosity. Like, is this just gonna disappear one day? Is this, is this actually a thing? Or Yeah.

You know what I mean? Totally. Like does this really have a life under its own? Well, and 


Ashley: know what, we work and live in seasons and sometimes the things we create have a season. And I think one of the most damaging thing peoples can do is hold onto the ankles of a product that’s not working anymore.

Or, you know, for me, I have courses online, you know, and it’s like one of my courses was really thriving like crazy. Thousands of people joining it when I had a webinar back in 20 16, 20 15, 20 17. And eventually Facebook ads got more expensive. And this is actually something I wanna talk about with these skill sets, is sometimes we mis.

Stand our core skillset and we think we’re working in it. And here’s an example. I worked in counter-terrorism in my early twenties, which I know is super random and obviously I know a thing or two about career pivots having done this the past decade and coming from national security. But when I went into national security and worked at the Pentagon, I got a job doing intelligence analysis and I thought to myself, I’m great with words, love writing.

This is gonna be awesome. I am now as a career expert going through these skillsets with you. I know that I’m the words core skillset. What I didn’t realize then was that I was calling myself forward in that job. To have to work in the analysis core skillset. So I was in a misunderstanding. So on my list of skillset, there’s words, there’s innovation analysis is another one of them.

This happens a lot where people think I’m great with this thing or that thing. I’m gonna go do that job. And there’s a misunderstanding of their actual skillset. Another thing to notice with these skillsets, you know, particularly words and analysis, is a good example of a distinction. I could be a psychologist and words could be my core skillset.

And the way that I make such a difference for my patients, my clients, is I’m so good at words that the way I express something is how they understand themselves and they’re better off for it. I could also be a psychologist with a core skillset of analysis. And what that might look like is when I lead with that, and that’s my gift.

I’m more analytical. I’m more noticing patterns in who they are able to diagnose them with something like, I’m highly analytical. So it’s not to say that you are super limited by a core skillset. It is to say knowing your core skillset can give you freedom and saying, this is where I’m gifted and there’s many different ways I can channel these gifts, be it in my business or in the workforce.

So we’ve got innovation, we’ve got words, and I think that the words core skillset brings up a lot of questions for me of, are you an introvert? Or are you an extrovert? Because if you’re an introvert and words or any of these core skillset sets are present for you, the way you’re gonna harness or you need to harness your core skillset is going to be very internal.

If you’re introverted, if you’re extroverted, it’s gonna be more external. So in my case, words is my core skillset. That’s why I have a bestselling book out there. You know, it’s like I created, because I do well behind my laptop, kind of hiding from the world. I’m, I’m a little bit of a loner in that way, even with having my own podcast, like I chose to do that over a YouTube channel because I don’t do as well.

Even though I thrive on video, I lose all my energy on video. And so I think this distinction is really key when you’re looking at your core skillset. Yeah. 

Mike: Yeah. I was just gonna say, I can relate to that. I, out of all the random things, I do the work that I like the most, and I would say the work that gives me the most energy.

And I agree with that, that that’s been a useful thing that I picked up in a book somewhere. I don’t know, I can’t take credit for it, but I’ve shared it with people is if you can find work that gives you energy rather than sucks energy out of you, that’s a good sign. That’s, uh, a green flag. And so if I look at the, the various types of work that I do, so researching and writing is probably at the top of my list.

I just enjoy it. I just like it for its own sake and I always want to do more of it. And I have to, usually I’m, I’m working in time blocks and when my time block is up, I’m a little bit annoyed and I want to keep going. I don’t want to go and do something else. And I feel, again, energized by that work. And then if you look at the podcast discussions, like these same thing monologues, I just don’t like I do them because life is not about.

And certainly business is not about, and succeeding in, in a career is not about only doing things that you like, you have to earn. I think that, well, I mean that’s a different discussion, but as far as building a successful business, if you’re the founder and, and you haven’t essentially delegated every little thing that you don’t like yet, there are just a lot of things you’re gonna have to do and you’re gonna have to do them well, and you can’t sit and brood on the fact that you don’t like them.

But, so I do these monologues because, A lot of people get a lot of value out of them and it contributes a lot to the podcast and to my ecosystem, so to speak. Yeah. But I don’t like them. Yeah. They’re like bad workouts where I like having done them once I’m done, but I just slog through them. That’s usually the case.

So anyways, just chiming in with my thoughts on that and, and that’s the case with certain marketing projects like copywriting. I like working creatively, coming up with branding ideas, campaign ideas I like. And then there are other aspects of of marketing projects that again, just kind of suck energy outta me.

But I would say by. Having disciplined myself to just do the things that need to be done, regardless of how I feel about them. That has certainly been a major reason why I have achieved a fair amount of success in book publishing. Cuz as you know, not everything about writing a book and publishing a book is thrilling no matter how much you like researching, writing.

But yeah, and the same thing goes with building a business, but, well, you’re 

Ashley: actually pointing out something very common, which is number one, a lot of people are gonna relate to probably two or three or four of these core skill sets. And so for those of you who are kind of relating as I go through this list, I just wanna remind you, you’re number one.

One, the one you lead with is what matters the most. That being said, you know, Mike, it’s like you are talking about the things that you kind of have to do for your business until you can delegate them, or there are probably some things you have to do that you can’t. I like to recommend people create a little chart on a piece of paper, especially if you’re an entrepreneur.

So maybe you have four quadrants, four different boxes, and on the top you put like and don’t like and on the sides you put good at and not good at. And, and I would love for anybody listening, put all of the things that you’re good at and you like in that one box. All of the different tasks and responsibilities, the things that maybe you’re good at, but you, um, don’t really like.

And then the things that you’re not good at but you like, that’s kind of your zone of growth. Like I’m not good at this, but I do like it and I do like to kind of recommend for people that you wanna be in the good at and like box about 70% of the time. And I think it’s really important for me to say that because number one, I think the whole like follow your passion thing, which is advice that I really challenge a lot in my book.

I think it’s awful. The thing about it is that it gets people stuck in perhaps following some sort of passion they have or a hobby that they have when they might not have the skills to back it. I also think when you say you should love your work, which I do think people should really like what they do, and they should be working in their gifts, it puts pressure on people to say, well, you know, one of the days of the week I’m doing something that I don’t like, so maybe I should leave my job or change my business.

Whereas to me, that’s more the cost of admission. It’s still called work for a reason, and I take a lot of pride in being kind of, I don’t wanna say realistic, because that feels. I don’t know, boring to say, like being realistic about your career, but I like to manage expectations so that people don’t throw away what is otherwise a really awesome career.

And I like to see them 10, 15, even 20% of the time in that box. That is the zone of growth, which is the things that they, you know, aren’t good at, but they really like. So kind of going back to these core skill sets, which really you should be able to see these when you ask people that question of when have you seen me at my best?

So number one is innovation. Number two is words. Number three is analysis. Number four is motion, which probably a lot of your listeners will resonate with. These are the people who are the fitness trainers, even tour guides. It’s people who are capitalizing on a zone of genius with being on their feet all day.

That’s actually a gift and a capability that people have and a preference. The fifth one is service. So this one brings up a lot of interesting questions. So, beyond the question of, you know, am I introverted or, or am I extroverted, the service people bring up the question for me. So these are the humanitarians, the helpers, the supporters, customer service, the question of.

Is service really your core skillset or does this come from a wound? Because a lot of people grew up as people pleasers because that was who they had to be in their family unit. So it’s really important to ask yourself with all of these skillsets, is this wounded? Does this come from some sort of conditioning or is this inspired?

Is this who I am? And maybe it’s both, but I just like people asking that question. The next skillset is coordination. This one, I mean, I’m sure Mike, you can agree with these, is thank God for these people who are doing the logistics, doing the details, crossing the T’s, dotting the i’s the event planners, you know, all of the coordinators Excel masters.

Oh my gosh. Well those people might be analysis or numbers. It depends on what they with and how they’re using Excel. But I actually love that you said that cuz it shows that these skills kind of move and you have to understand which one you really lead with and how you’re gonna harness it. We talked about the analysis skillset.

Number eight is numbers. So this one’s pretty straightforward, the number crunchers, which is definitely not my core skillset. My Achilles heel in business has been tracking numbers and making good financial decisions because I’m like the creative who has all of these ideas and is off with the wind, with not caring about my budget until I’ve got a bookkeeper calling me.

And then number nine is 

Mike: technology. I understand, I understand. Yeah, he’s, I’m similar, but I guess I conditioned myself to care enough, basically, to put enough attention on it to make sure it didn’t get out of hand. But I would not enjoy doing the work of my VP of finance, whereas he loves it and he loves his systems and he loves all of his cash flow projections and he loves all of his spreadsheets.

And that’s great. I mean, I found the right guy. And it’s, of course, it’s not from, I’m, I don’t say, oh, I wouldn’t enjoy that out of any sort of arrogance whatsoever. No. It’s just that activity is not enjoyable to me. Like those, all of, everything that goes into that is not fun. I, I don’t know if I could figure out how to like it.

I don’t know if I could. 

Ashley: Yeah, a hundred percent.

Mike: If you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my health and fitness books, including the number one best selling weightlifting books for men and women in the world. Bigger, leaner, stronger, and thinner. Leaner, stronger, as well as the leading flexible dieting cookbook, the Shredded Chef.

Ashley: You know, it’s interesting because I think there’s two things that when they’re violated, it’s why people don’t like what they do. So if you are violating your core skillset in your job, meaning you’re working in a core skillset that you’re not, like for me at the Pentagon, I was working in the analysis core skillset when really I’m words.

And it makes so much more sense now for me as an author to be writing books about how to figure out your career path. Because it’s like, it’s creative writing, it’s content creation versus an intelligence report, which is so much more analysis, tracking threats, making decisions, advising government officials, totally different energy that I was in.

And so when you’re overriding your core skillset and participating in one that isn’t your zone of genius for more than 10, 15, 20% of your work, you are going to not be so happy. And I think the second thing when it gets violated is your core values. Like if you value integrity and you have to sell something you don’t believe in, if you value balance and you’re never home with your kids, That’s gonna show up in how unhappy you are in your work.

So it kind of brings us back to this idea of the what versus the how of your career. So after kind of going through these core skill sets, which I think we’ve made it through almost all of them. Number nine is technology. All of our tech quizzes, our artificial intelligence creators, and number 10 is my favorite.

It’s beauty. These are the people who make art of the world around them. They’re highly aesthetic, they’re interior designers, jewelry designers, makeup artists, artists, musician. So of these 10 core skill sets, it’s like really asking yourself, which one do I lead with and how much am I leading with it? And kind of starting to figure out like is there a way for you to rework what you’re doing?

So if you’re an entrepreneur, there’s a whole field of science called job crafting, and I absolutely love it. Sounds like Star Wars, like bur, bur, bur, you 

Mike: know, like I think I’ve gone through, I’m thinking of a handbook, job crafting where it’s a multi-step exercise. Do you know what I’m talking about? No, I have to look it out.

I think that was the term that was used and it was walking. I went through it years ago just for fun. And it’s similar to a lot of the stuff you’re talking about. I forget exactly. It’s been years. You end up like, Drawing kind of a mind map of uh, yes. I believe it was a job crafting workbook or something.

I don’t know. 

Ashley: That’s cool. I had a researcher named Dan Cable on my podcast a long time ago, talk about it, and I’ve loved it ever since. And it just really is kind of, you know, how to turn a bland job into a grand job, you know, like how do you plan to grand? Yeah. I love to sound like a mattress salesman whenever I can, you know?

But you know, this field of work is really about saying, Is your job or is your business salvageable? Meaning if you’re working in your zone of genius, maybe 30, 40, or even 50% of the time, is there a way for you to take initiative? And if you’re in the workforce, talk to your boss and suggest a project within the lines of your core skillset that you think would add a lot of value to them so that you can kind of add that to your resume.

You can add that to your repertoire of what you’re talking about when you’re looking for your next move. Or even better, you can show them how great this project is at work that they start asking more of you of that. That’s how you job craft in your business. It can look like really looking at your services and maybe just adding one small service that maybe not a lot of people will use initially, but that allows you to work in this newer level of yourself, of your zone, of genius, of your skillset, I think is really important to be able to kind of make your transitions a little more gradual, be experimental, and really honor who you truly are 

Mike: and what are your thoughts on.

You had commented on this, but where people, there’s a fuzzy element to what I have right now. Is it really good? Is it bad? And people who maybe get stuck with kind of grasses greener. And I, I like what you just said in that it gives an a very easy, low risk way to basically like experiment with this and to offer your work in maybe different ways where you’re not jumping from your job into something else altogether.

But for people who are maybe thinking that, and I’m just thinking of people who have, have written to me over the years, many people who either did or were thinking of making. Big change from their existing line of work into fitness usually. Yeah. And often they were asking my thoughts on it. And I can think of a couple instances, one in particular that didn’t make sense to me.

And, and I didn’t want to discourage this person necessarily, but they went from, I don’t remember what he was doing. He was an engineer of some kind, doing very well. And, and then he wanted to become a, a fitness influencer basically, and content creator. And I had my doubts because of his personality and his communication style.

Smart dude, analytical dude. But I just didn’t quite see the combination of factors that would make me feel confident that, that that was gonna make sense. So just what are your thoughts on, what would you say to people who are stuck in that? Maybe of, should I make the leap? Yeah, and, and maybe it’s just words of comfort.

Like maybe they, they, let’s say they buy your book and they go through it and it just further reinforces what they already know, which is it’s time to make a big change. Mm-hmm. But then they just don’t know. Yeah. Like, well, or is it, and am I gonna regret this? Is it gonna be like, this guy I just mentioned where, and he did go do fitness stuff and it didn’t go very 

Ashley: well.

That’s a skillset issue. So when I hear that somebody wants to do something and it’s not going well either, The how isn’t adding up meaning like where they’re doing the thing they wanna do isn’t honoring their values, they’re not energized, they’re not contributing. It’s a skillset issue. How they’re showing up in the thing, like what skills they need to be using to perform isn’t their zone of genius.

Or the third possibility when it comes to job hunting or looking for an opportunity or even pivoting your business or brand. It’s a communication issue. So the best job, and even the most business, tends not to go to the best business or the best candidate. It usually goes to the best communicator. And so to me, the big issue with somebody coming to you and you not seeing the picture is, number one, their elevator pitch isn’t working.

I think the most asked interview question or networking question is, tell me about yourself. And most people haven’t given that question. Some due thought because it seems so tantalizingly obvious. Like, tell me about yourself. Like I’m hanging out with me all day. That’s. It’s not something I need to study.

It is, and most people don’t take the time to kind of reflect on that. So I’d say that’s one issue on the initial touchpoint of connecting with somebody who’s making a pivot. They owe it to themselves and to the people they talk to, to figure out a way to take the thread of where they’ve been in the past, what they’ve done in the past, and make sense of it for where they’re going in the 

Mike: future.

And what they’ve succeeded at. Right. I mean, I, I, again, I just think of several instances of people who got away from things that they did very well at to do things that were required. I mean, when you said skillset that immediately clicked for some of these examples where they just didn’t realize that the skills that allowed them to succeed in one domain were not going to allow them to succeed in this other domain.

And they just thought that it was more like they succeeded because they are successful. Mm-hmm. You know what I mean? So like, of course, you know, I made millions of dollars doing this stuff over here. Of course I can make millions of dollars. Yeah. No. Doing this stuff over here. Mm-hmm. And. Yeah, maybe, but maybe not.


Ashley: Yes. I do think that there is a little bit of an illusion, and I do love the empowerment of being like, if I could do this there, here I can do it there. I love the empowered mindset of that, but I do think the market is different in different areas. The market changes, opportunities change. Saturation is a real thing, and you have to stand out.

And the best way to stand out is to be really powerful at communicating what you do and making 

Mike: results happen. And I agree on that too. I agree that it’s much better as your default mindset to be confident and optimistic, but that can be dangerous if it leads to recklessness and sloppiness and in some ways, laziness.

Yeah, in a funny way, it can be kind of a lazy approach to just think that, because I’m me, I can just wade into this new pool over here and I’m gonna put on a show and everyone’s gonna love it. Without doing any due diligence, without really understanding the market or, you know what I mean? Like there’s that drudgery in that grind that I think lays the foundation.

We’re talking about businesses. At least that’s how I would go about it. I wouldn’t get into any, any market that I don’t really understand. I wouldn’t just think. What do you mean? I’m Mike Matthews. I’ll just send an email to like half a million people. Yeah, and they’ll, you know, they’ll be a feeding frenzy.

Yeah, totally. That’s just a lazy way of going about 

Ashley: it. It’s not just lazy. I think there’s an ego to it where it’s like, I’m me and I can do all this stuff. I think there’s something very different about being a deeply empowered person, and I think part of that is knowing about the concept of process.

There’s a dignity to process, and process is key. It’s important. Pretty much non-negotiable. Like even though there are like little shortcuts and different things you can do, there’s really no full-on shortcut to success. And a lot of that means you have to be willing to enter the process of what it takes to create success.

It’s very iterative and there’s a lot of failure on the way to success. And so whenever I see somebody really successful, I just think about the conversation going on in their mind about failure. I just think like, wow, this person must hold failure lightly. They must have a positive relationship 

Mike: with it.

Yeah. Yeah. And something that has helped me with that is trying to iterate quickly. Just move quickly. Don’t put too much time and energy and effort into something before it has proven worthy. So I’m a big believer in the minimum viable product approach. Yes. So the Lean Startup, for anybody who hasn’t read that book, I’d recommend it if you.

In business wanting to get into business, or if you are wanting to move up, maybe in the business that you work in, become more of an entrepreneur. But the idea is very simple, that you spend as little time and money as you can to test your theory in the marketplace and see if it actually will gain traction because it is demotivating.

Yeah. To put a lot of time and effort and money into something and then just see it flop and it’s usually unnecessary. You usually can test, I mean, some things like, okay, if you’re opening a restaurant and. You don’t have at least good food. There’s a problem. Right? And, and I would say if, if you could have great food, when you open a restaurant, there’s definitely an advantage there.

But in most cases, in most businesses, in most, with most products and services, good enough is good enough to start out with, even if you know like this, there are so many ways to improve this and do this better. Step one is just finding out, will anybody buy this? Does anybody care? And if we’re talking about an individual and their skills, I think that would be applicable too.

Like here I have these different possibilities, which is going to be my kind of gateway to the life I want and the level of success and the lifestyle I want. And you had mentioned this earlier in the podcast, that may take some experimentation, it may be, may take just, okay, I’m gonna try this. I’m gonna do it in a low risk way where I’m not committing too much of my time and energy and so forth.

And where I’m not gonna fall into that sunk cost fallacy, which you had mentioned where if you put a lot of. Effort into something, a lot of resources, you’re more likely to just keep it going. Right? Uh, so, so yeah. Good points for 

Ashley: sure. Yeah, absolutely. And I think, you know, what you’re saying reminds me a lot.

I once walked into the Pixar office and I remember there was a picture over the receptionist desk and it said, fail faster and. I never, I like that. Love it. It’s so quick and to the point, and I think about it all the time. And so I think for, you know, someone who is reflecting on their career path, while I put a lot out there, ultimately you are your own authority.

And I think that one of the biggest mistakes that most people are making is. Trying to borrow out wisdom when they have so much wisdom in themselves. And so, while my 10 core skillsets and all of the work that I’ve compiled in my book is guidance and tactical, I think it’s so important that people still kind of sit with themselves and do that kind of mindset work.

Like maybe what’s blocking you isn’t a matter of knowing what you’re skilled at or where you belong. Maybe what’s blocking you is you’re not willing to sit in failure. You’re not willing to sit in what I would call process. 

Mike: Yeah, yeah. And just quickly to come back to this point of where people are afraid of making a big change.

And I think of, I actually, I kind of think of, I guess myself, right? In my previous life, I was creating employee training programs for, primarily for healthcare professionals like dentists and doctors and physical therapists and so forth. Similar kind of work, but also very different. And I wa I wanted to.

Find something that would allow me to make a bigger impact, would allow me to make a bigger difference and would allow me to own my own business. And that’s, that’s just a game I wanted to play, but I didn’t walk away from, from that other work. Uh, initially just to pursue this other thing, I just wrote this first book, bigger Than Stronger.

This was back in 2012, but it did it like a nights and weekends thing. And sometimes when I talk with people, I mean that’s like the most obvious. To me at least, is like coming back to this minimum viable product approach. Can you put together on the side an MVP and go test it in the marketplace? Can you get it to a point where you can acquire customers at a reasonable cost?

That’s like the road to your first million dollars in sales is you as. The person, as the founder, as the creator of the product or service, you have to figure out how to sell it. It doesn’t have to be profitably because as you build a business, you can create a backend where you can make your profits, and then you’re able to acquire customers at a break even point, or even lose money on your customer acquisition.

But initially, you have to figure out at least how to acquire customers at a reasonable cost. And you can’t outsource that. You can’t delegate that. You have to be your best salesperson. You have to figure that out. But once you have that figured out and you can repeat it, which means you have figured out who those people are specifically, who are your best customers, who are the people who are most receptive to your message?

How do you communicate to them? Many different ways to do that, but you have to figure out, is it Facebook ads to webinars or is it social media, or is it building an email list and doing it that way? Is it a podcast? Is it YouTube, whatever? There are many different ways to communicate to people, but once you’ve found the people you know how to communicate to them, you have figured out what to say to them to get them to give you money.

Now you have. Something that can grow and scale. Now you have something, you have a, a little bit of a system there that you can start to build on. And so that’s often the advice I share to people who, especially I understand where people, they have families, they have bills to pay. They very much can’t afford to just walk away from their job and have something fail.

It’d be quite difficult. I mean, maybe they could make it through, but I understand the anxiety about it or the reluctance. And so that’s often, I mean, I, for what it’s worth, that’s what I share and that’s kind of what I did, and that just makes a lot of sense to me. And it does mean giving up some of your nights and weekends, but if a person’s not willing to make that sacrifice, that to me again, would be a red flag is does it really make sense for this person to get into business for themselves, or should they do one of the many other things that you’ve been talking about to figure out maybe a way to be more fulfilled in their current.

Job or working at their current business, or if that’s not a possibility, is there another business that they could work for and figure that 

Ashley: out in? Absolutely. And I don’t think that anybody can get to those answers without holding their career a little more lightly. I mean, you know, it takes a lot of questions and I think inquiry, and even for me writing this book was really about that message of don’t do what you love, do what you are, and really helping people figure out who are you.

And so this is a really big question to figure out who you are. It takes time, and I think it’s really important in those in between transitional periods for people to be willing. To say this is gonna take a minute. I need to, because I think one of the more damaging things people do is they get reactive.

They grab onto something for the sake of having something, and that’s what gets you cleaning up messes and taking steps back, even though it feels like you’re taking a step forward. It makes me think a lot about a. Friend, kind of when we were talking about marriage, who like all of us were like, oh, this marriage isn’t a good idea for her.

And she felt so much so like she was taking a step forward in her life. She wanted to have kids. And ultimately a year later they had to part ways. And she was taking a step back. She had to clean up that decision. And it’s not to say that you should have regrets, but it is to say, to be really mindful when you’re in between purposes, when what you’re doing isn’t working for you anymore and you haven’t become yet who you wanna be, that transitional period is sacred.

And being willing to sit in that, do the reflection so that you’re intentional with your next move. And I’m not saying getting into perfection paralysis, because for me, perfectionism is just a mask that all of us wear when we’re afraid of failure. We just try to be perfect so that we’re not vulnerable, we’re not putting ourselves off.

That’s not what I’m talking about. But giving that dignity of process to that transitional period I think is really important. 

Mike: And when you say finding out who you are, What does that mean 

Ashley: to you? I think your gifts are part of it. You know, I think your hobbies are part of it. Like what interests you? I think a lot of people are walking around the world kind of undefined, like they haven’t really said like, I’m someone who likes, you know, this kind of food, or, I’m someone who likes this kind of music.

It sounds silly, but I think a lot of people don’t take the time to actually define themselves and, and I get that in a way, having an identity is, can be quite limiting. Like we say that we’re the one who is this way or that way. It, it limits us in some ways, but I think there’s also something really powerful about taking that time to really reflect on what are your likes, what are your dislikes?

Have you taken some time to look at your workday and maybe do that chart that I talked about of like, what are you good at and what do you like? What are you. And you don’t like, you know, like, really what are you, you know, not so good at? I, I think it’s just taking that time to reflect 

Mike: on that and maybe thinking also outside of work, right?

Because those things that you outlined would influence the choice of hobbies and how you spend really any of your free time. Whether it is hobbies or duties and obligations that you take on willingly. Exactly. This is great. Ashley, I, I, I’m actually, I’m inspired to read your book myself. Thank you. Just because I like the topic and I would say that I, I’ve done a pretty good job finding the, like you words is probably the thing for me, let me tell.

And writing is the thing that I will happily do. Researching and writing for the rest of my life, and actually just to, this might be a nice little kind of bow tie on the end. How I came to writing was not through any great revelation or through some, you know, kind of divine mission that I felt I was given when, you know, I was five years old, not at all when I was like 17 or 18 and was thinking.

About what do I want to do now? So I’m done with high school. Do I wanna go to college and just get a degree in business or marketing? Not really. Uh, the idea of being in business and just kind of like selling trinkets for a profit was really unappealing to me. Yeah. And I have actually more appreciation for it now that I’ve, I’ve done a bit of entrepreneurship and there are certain elements of building a business that I would enjoy regardless of what I was selling.

Whether it was just something that people want or, or something maybe a little bit more beneficial, like, you know, fitness books for example. Or it’s a bit different than like a ring or something. Not to put down rings, but there’s, it just depends on what the purpose is. I would say the ring speaks to the beauty point that you mentioned, and that’s hugely important.

And in some ways, I think probably actually the arts and giving aesthetic value to the world and to life, and bringing that dimension of existence out so people can experience it as, Actually more important I would think, socially speaking and culturally speaking, than the work that I do. So, mm. But regardless, so I was, what am I gonna do?

And to your point of like, okay, finding out who I am. So I just started to think about what do I, like, what kind of activities am I naturally drawn toward? What have I always found myself looking forward to? And just putting time into, regardless of not, not because I had to for school or because I was getting anything for it.

And I thought of reading. I, I was a good student in school, always enjoyed reading on my own time and just learning things in school. I liked learning. And so I was like, eh, I don’t think I can make money. Reading books, which is not entirely true. I could be a book reviewer, like there are probably, there are some how’s in there somewhere.

But what made more sense was writing. Now, initially it wasn’t a no-brainer, it wasn’t a perfect fit, where I was like, oh yeah, obviously I’ll just write. It was something that, uh, I was, it was a curiosity really, and I was willing to just follow that curiosity. And then I, I wrote a novel, actually, my original interest in writing was fiction.

And it’s something I will do in my next life, something I’m looking forward to doing, and I’m just not gonna give it time right now, maybe in a couple of years. And so I wrote a novel, had no idea what I was doing, but really enjoyed the process and again, found something that was energizing and that I looked forward to doing every day.

And then after that, I, I started to, Educate myself and learn that I had no idea what I was doing. And the, and the novel was really bad, but I became very interested in writing. And the more I wrote, the more I liked it, you know? And then that eventually led to the work I was doing before the fitness stuff and the fitness stuff started with me just writing a book, self-publishing it in 2012, no connections, didn’t know anybody.

Put it online for 99 cents, literally. And just to see where things go. Again, that kind of M v P approach. So hopefully that story of is of some value to somebody, but it embodies a lot of what you’ve been talking about in this 

Ashley: podcast. Oh, thank you. And I’m so honored that you’re gonna read the book and I’ll be sure to send you guys one over, you know, to your team.

And I think, you know, anybody listening, it’s like, I love that you brought up the theory of sunken cost. It will never cease to amaze me how many people will spend X amount of money on their student loans or X amount of years on their career only to say it’s quote unquote, too late. It’s like if you’re 40 or 50 and you’re saying it’s too late, you’re 60.

Like you probably still have 20 years left of your career. A lot of people, the retirement age has radically increased, so people are taking their time in their careers. I’ve seen so many people have 10 different careers in a span of 50 different years. You know, life is short, but it’s also kind of long in a way, and it’s so important that people remember that your degree, the time you spend in your career, the years you put in, They’re here to serve you.

You’re not here to serve them. You’re not here to be a hostage for it. So I hope that anybody listening, just whether they pick up the book or not, they get more encouraged to really honor who they are and make a change if that’s what they need. 

Mike: love it. And we’ve been referring to the book a lot, but what’s the title?


Ashley: yeah, it’s Uturn. That would be helpful. It’s Y o u Turn, uh, which the whole idea is about coming back to yourself, making a real U-turn and the subtitles get unstuck. Discover your direction, design your dream career. You can get it on Amazon anywhere where books are sold if you’re international book depositories.

Website seems to ship international too. 

Mike: Nice, nice. And where else can people find you? You mention that you have a podcast. Yes. 

Ashley: Thank you. I’m excited to have you on. I’m gonna ask you so many questions about health. Well, so my podcast is also the same thing. It’s called U-Turn Podcast, two words, Y o u-Turn.

And I’m also on the gram. I’m not like the most instagramy influencer type, so you’re not gonna see a lot from me on there. But I definitely respond to my messages on Instagram at Ashley Stall. 

Mike: I’m the same way. I don’t spend really any time on it outside of answering dms. And I make the occasional posts and I post my workouts to stories and we’re kind of short staffed in social media because the woman who’s handling legions has her plate full.

So we’re gonna get somebody to to work with me on mine because. I don’t enjoy it. I do not enjoy social media and it’s really actually not a great use of my time. There are a lot of other higher leverage things that I should be doing over figuring out how to grow my Instagram, but I’m happy to, to pay somebody who’s very good at that to help me with it.

Ashley: Yeah, exactly. I love the example you’re setting for people around this and the reminder to just not overexert yourself because it’s funny. People think, oh, this is like a 10 minute task. I could do this every day. It’s like that 10 minutes is costing you resentment towards your business and that is not sustainable.

Mike: Yeah. And if you’re gonna do Instagram, well, it’s not 10 minutes per day. Mm-hmm. It’s really not. I would say, and this is with limited. Knowledge, I would say in limited experience, but by my standards, based on what I know. If I were to do Instagram, if I were to say that is a priority, I want to maximize engagement, I want to maximize follower growth, I could probably spend two hours a day on it.

Productively, I think, and not literally in the app doodling around, but creating content, coming up with ideas. That alone, that takes quite a bit of time. If it’s okay, let’s come up with a bunch of ideas and then let’s pick the best ones and now let’s start getting the pictures or video that we need for it.

Let’s start writing the captions and then that’s one part of it. And then there’s the system though for Okay, uh, stories. For example, I would break it out every day of the week. Here are the types of stories that we’re gonna be posting and make sure that makes sense, and then start creating all of that content.

So I would want to be. At least two or three weeks ahead on all of that, because I hate scrambling last minute to, like, for podcasts. I’m always a couple months ahead because I just, I, I don’t like doing this interview and then rushing my people to get it posted in two days and so forth. So to run it well is minimally, minimally a part-time job in and of itself, I 

Ashley: think.

Yes, a hundred percent. And I love that you’re saying that because it’s just a reminder of what we talked about, that how you work matters just as much as what you do. And it seems like for you, what’s non-negotiable is like making sure that the pace isn’t creating stress for you. And that probably has to do with your core values, just as an example of what we talked 

Mike: about.

Yeah. And unfortunately, I tend to take on too much anyway. Yeah. But I, I’ve gotten maybe a little bit better with that, but, uh, it’s probably something I could improve. It starts to actually mess with my sleep. Now that I’ve gotten older, I, I’ve become a lighter sleeper. I have two kids now, and what I’ve noticed is if I take on too many things, I won’t feel anxious per se, but I tend to be a little bit higher, strong as a person, and I just will, what I’ll notice is I’m like never relaxed.

That’s how it’ll manifest. And I try to avoid that because then it starts messing with my sleep and then I’m not fun to be around. And I don’t know, it’s just a matter of I, uh, knowing my limits, I guess, and wishing that weren’t the case. But I guess, uh, I, I am what I am, 

Ashley: what can I say? Yeah, exactly. You are who you are until you decide to change it, which is totally a possibility at any time.

Mike: Well, thanks again, Ashley. I really appreciate you taking 

Ashley: the time. Thank you so much to everybody for listening. And thanks Mike for having me. 

Mike: All right. Well, that’s it for this episode. I hope you enjoyed it and found it interesting and helpful. And if you did and you don’t mind doing me a favor, please do leave a quick review on iTunes or wherever you’re listening to me from in whichever app you’re listening to me in.

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That is the best way to get ahold of me, mike muscle And that’s it. Thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you soon.

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