70 major world cities, 5 continents. Les is an Elite transformational mentor to media celebrities, rockstars, movie stars, olympic athletes, high level politicians, millionaires, billionaires, royalty, top shelf executives & entrepreneurs.
Stefan Aarnio: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the show Respect The Grind with Stefan Aarnio. This is the show where we interview people who have achieved mastery and freedom through discipline. We interview entrepreneurs, athletes, authors, artists, real estate investors, anyone who achieve mastery and examine what it took to get there.
Stefan Aarnio: Today on the show, we have a good friend of mine, Les Evans. He’s an international speaker, built a few businesses. He’s a dynamo personal brand, if you’re on the video, you’ll love this. His office, the personal branding is great. Les welcoming to show, Respect The Grind. Thank you so much for joining me.
Les Evans: Hey. Absolutely Stefan, it’s good to see you.
Stefan Aarnio: Yeah man, I haven’t seen you in a while. Les and I we’ve been hanging out a couple of times, met in several cities at different conferences. Les, for the people at home who don’t know Les Evans and what you’re about, can you tell us a little bit about who is Les Evans and why should the people at home care about that?
Les Evans: Well, how far should I go back? To the Amoeba or?
Stefan Aarnio: Yeah, when the sperm hit the egg.
Les Evans: Exactly. Well, I’m a Canadian like yourself, I was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, sort of half farm boy, half city boy kind of thing. And did a lot of different things in my life including being a musician just like you. And one of my philosophies … that’s where the whole entrepreneurial thing started because I had a belief you’re going to be a musician, you should be a working musician and not a starving musician.
Les Evans: So one of the first lessons I learned in life is to develop skills because the people who’s got the skill sets to deliver the value to the marketplace, you get paid. So my brother and I by the time we were in 19 and 20 years old respectively, and this is going back to 1980, we were a working band full time, I had $50,000 worth of gear as a band starting that.
Les Evans: So I did a lot of stuff and when I was age 23, funny enough, I’d temporarily lost my voice, I actually blew out my vocal cords from singing so much. So I tried to get a job as an electrician because I couldn’t play in my band anymore, and it turned out I was color blind, so I couldn’t get a certification. It’s Kinda one of those things where life is closing one door and opening up another window. And as an interim thing, I got a job working at Canada Post, driving a truck of all things because I couldn’t get a trade. I tried going to college, I found out I had a learning disability, which I still have by the way. But at age 23 I walked into a pharmacy to grab a coca cola or something like that on a hot day, and I saw a book on a book stand, a classic book by Dale Carnegie called How To Win Friends and Influence People. And being a young guy who was 23, I thought it was a book on how to meet girls.
Les Evans: But I opened that book up< I started reading it and it literally changed my life. It put me on a completely different trajectory. And I know you’re a big guy on reading and studying and mastery, and literally from that day I emptied out the library; today we call that deep Internet, back then we called it a library. But I literally just started studying like a maniac and learning all sorts of things. And that turned into a whole series of entrepreneur entrepreneurial adventures that led me to today. And there’s been a whole bunch of stuff since then.
Stefan Aarnio: Let me ask you this, I started out … people say who’s Stefan Aarnio? I say starting at 16 I wanted to be a rock star. That’s what where my entrepreneurial game started too just like you.
Les Evans: Yep.
Stefan Aarnio: And I don’t know if I have the answer to this question, but maybe you do. What do you think makes a person want to be a rockstar of all things?
Les Evans: Well, that’s a great question because I mean, I’ve had people, particularly over the last three, four years, all over the world, they come … I got this nickname, the rock star coach. And it’s probably because of my outrageously loud shirts or whatever. But to me, a Rockstar is … oh, gosh, dude never fails, right? To me, somebody who’s a rock star, is somebody who commits to being what Jay Abraham would say is preeminent to becoming the very best at what they do. And to my mind that’s … I don’t know, that’s just something that’s always been in me. It’s like I just want to be the very best me that I can be, as cliche as that sounds.
Les Evans: But I think the people who become rock stars in life or in business or in relationships, have that thing, they’re just driven to make the most of themselves I’m not much of a new age, or I keep hearing people talk about, oh, we have unlimited potential, and I don’t believe that. I believe we do have limits to our potential, but that’s not the problem, the problem is maximizing the potential we have because if we actually got off our asses and maximized what we have, we astonish ourselves; it’s amazing what you can accomplish.
Stefan Aarnio: So you think it’s really about mastery then? Is that really what a Rockstar is about, is achieving mastery and letting other people know about it?
Les Evans: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, listen to this, anybody who’s on a big stage, let’s say a real rockstar … I don’t know about today because there’s some manufactured pop artists. But boy, if you look at bands legacy artists, and we call them brands too because like the Rolling Stones for example, they’ve been around forever. Trust me, you don’t stay at the top unless you’ve mastered your craft. In the old days, musicians used to … rock musicians studied classical music like Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, etc. And they would practice nine hours a day. That’s what it takes to become a rockstar. I mean, nine, 10 hours of practice every day. I mean, I’ve got friends who are rock stars, and they still practice three hours a day. So yeah, mastery, absolutely. There are no shortcuts to the top.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow. So Les, me and you we’ve got a couple of dinners, couple of lunches together, stayed up till the late hours of the morning talking. So I know you a little bit more than other people who were on my show. You wanted to be a musician and then you did really well in the finance game, that you were platform selling I think. Was it a stock program you were selling for a long time?
Les Evans: Well, no, originally … and that’s close originally what we started off. One was with a foreign exchange trading, and we used to teach classes and teach people how to trade Forex. Now bear in mind this is 2002 when it was brand new. And I ran into an ethical problem because I found it even as great as we had great packaging and great training, but the 80/20 rule kept coming up. And I just found that 80 percent of the people just couldn’t do it or didn’t have the discipline or wouldn’t make the time to master that program. And so for myself, I find myself on a real ethical, moral dilemma. It’s like listen, I can’t sell something where I know … I now know because I found out that 80 percent of the people just won’t succeed. So what I did is I evolved that, and it took me about six months, and I created the very first professionally managed accounts program for foreign exchange.
Les Evans: In other words, it used to have to be a very wealthy individual to have a professional trader take your funds and trade on your behalf that’s called the CTA, a commodity trading advisor. And I literally pioneered that; no one had ever done it before. So I’d created a methodology for people who had say five, 10, 15, 20,000, not $5 five, and I built a relationship with a New York trader who had just left Prudential in New York. He was looking for business, so it was a perfect time, I was listening. I said, “Listen, I don’t know how to trade, and you can’t sell, so let’s make a deal. If I bring you clients, will you take the money and trade and then we’ll do a deal, we’ll negotiate the split.” And that’s how I started that up. Ten years later, I found myself having lunch with the vice president of UBS union bank in Switzerland, and he was like, “How did you do this? Nobody’s ever done this before?” And I was like, “Sheer desperation.”
Les Evans: I just figured out a way, half the time I didn’t know what it was doing, but I built that company up. Now, in finance, this may not sound like a lot. We were training roughly a half a billion dollars a week. That was a lot of money for us from 100 million a day. In the world of finance, they deal in trillions, so it’s nothing. But from a farm kid from Canada who started with nothing, I had 1200 clients all over Canada and US; had spoken in practically every major city. I worked with three major airlines. I mean, I really built that thing up. I’m really proud of that. Yeah, quite an achievement.
Stefan Aarnio: Yeah. Well, that’s huge, man. I mean to be a small farm kid from Canada and … your drummer, right, Les? You play drums, you play all of sorts of [crosstalk 00:09:24].
Les Evans: [inaudible 00:09:25].
Stefan Aarnio: For a drummer, man, that’s not bad.
Stefan Aarnio: So let me ask you this Les, everybody I speak to you has like two parts of their life, they got the young desirable part of their life where they’re desiring success, and they’re not successful, yet they haven’t put it together; almost like a teenager year, but teenager years go to your 30s these days. And then they go to some point where they’re successful, and did success change you or did you have to change to become successful?
Les Evans: It’s both. Certainly all the reading and study that I’ve done, and I’m not kidding you when I said this, I spent from age 23 to 33, I would spend three hours, interspersed, not all in one jump, but at least three hours a day reading and studying anything I could get my hands on; marketing, finance, branding, economic, sales, philosophy, law, ancient history, anything that would blow my hair back. And that it’s continued to this day. I still … I probably have 150 books on my iPad as we speak. So every day I still do what’s called mine feeding. So that shaped me in a certain way.
Les Evans: I’m glad to answer the second part of your question. I found that when I really hit it big, it really went to my head at first, and my ego was just exploding, and I became a real arrogant, self centered SOB quite frankly because I didn’t know how to handle it, and there was nobody around to coach you back in those days. Somebody who is bigger and better than you to kind of slap you upside the head and say, “Listen here sonny, you’re not as great as you think you are.” But luckily, wisdom prevails, and you grow past that stuff.
Stefan Aarnio: That’s really interesting. You watch movies like Wolf of Wall Street, let’s say, where you got young Jordan Belfort making … was it $48 million dollars or something at age 25?
Les Evans: Astronomical, yeah.
Stefan Aarnio: Something insane. And I used to work for a guy in Canada here and he was making a ton of money, one of the biggest seminar operators here in Canada and I think success hits people too fast sometimes, and they don’t have that mentor to slow them down, and they don’t have a person to say, “Hey, hey, hey, buddy, stop doing all that cocaine or stop wasting your money on the Lamborghini’s or stop with the girls.” Do you think there’s such thing as succeeding too fast?
Les Evans: Well, yeah, as a matter of fact I do because the funny thing is it’s not like I didn’t earn it, like this was not handed to me, we worked our tails off. I’ll tell you, it was incredibly difficult building that business because the world of finance, make no mistake, it’s ruthless and cutthroat; your competitors will cut you off at the legs anytime they get the chance. So it’s not like we didn’t work to earn it.
Les Evans: but interestingly enough, I look at today, 10, 15 years later, you can make it faster and bigger than you could a decade ago or two decades ago because of the internet and technology. I mean, the speed of learning … I look at somebody like yourself, you are light years ahead of where I was at your age, if you pardon the expression. And I think it’s certainly due to a lot of talent and intelligence on your part, but you also have resources that we never had. I mean, you didn’t have … there was no coaches around, you didn’t have the access to information. And that’s not an excuse, it’s just the reality of it. So like I was able to … I stand on my father’s shoulders, the next generation stand on their shoulders, and we really think we’re it. Well, wait till somebody stands on yours and you’re going to go, “Dad these guys are going faster than me.”
Stefan Aarnio: Dude, I’m already seeing it. I hired these … I was out at a restaurant with Vanessa Roose, you met her.
Les Evans: Yes, of course.
Stefan Aarnio: She [crosstalk 00:13:59]. We’re eating dinner and I’m lamenting, I said, “I can’t find a social media person, everybody wants to work remote, they want to work from home.” And this little old lady behind me she says … we’re getting up from our dinner, we’re done, and she says, “Excuse me, are you looking for a social media person?” I turn around I said, “Yeah.” And she goes, “Well, my three sons here are really good at social media.” And I say, “Okay.” I look at these three boys and these are like three 18 year old kids. And I looked at them and say, “How old are you guys?” They go, “18.” Where I go, “Perfect age, great.” So I say, “Okay boys, well give me a call to come to the office for an interview.” Because I’d hired or interviewed quite a few social media guys. These three guys who are sitting at the table, they come to my office, 18, 21, I think the other guy is 23, so young, young, young, young, young.
Stefan Aarnio: And I say, “Okay, so what’s your specialty?” They say Instagram. Okay. I say, “So what do you guys do?” And they come in, they got their own backpacks, their own products, they got headphones; they flew to China and had these custom headphones made. And I said, “How much of that have you sold off your Instagram?” They go, “700,000.” So there’s an 18 year old kid here that sold $700,000 of headphones off his Instagram. And I said, I’m sitting here like dude but obviously … like I don’t even know what I was doing, like I was talking [inaudible 00:15:14] councilor about becoming a guidance counselor, like doing some dumb shit like that at school, and these kids are selling 700 grand of headphones off Instagram and I still can’t [crosstalk 00:15:23].
Les Evans: I know.
Stefan Aarnio: And I hired these guys and they’re making sales every day on my eCommerce and I go, dude, these guys are 18, I’m 32, I’m an old man. These guys are going faster than I was going.
Les Evans: Well listen, so to round out your questions Stefan … and that’s what I was saying, you’re 100 percent right. So it’s interesting now I do believe you can make it too fast because you’re just literally not psychologically equipped to do that. So funny enough, I’ve noticed now like for example, in Nashville, Tennessee, for example, where they develop musical artists, and that really is the music factory, they now have people coaching their young artists on how to handle the fame and all the pressure that goes with it. And they do that with professional athletes now; young hockey players, young baseball players, football players. They now have coaches to train and coach these, I’m going to call them kids because they’re fairly young, on how to handle that stuff because when it comes at you hard and fast … I mean, average human beings we’re not … we never lived in a time of history before where you could have so much fame and so much access, even 50 years ago that just didn’t exist. But today that’s not the case.
Les Evans: So yeah, you really need somebody in your corner to keep you focused, straight, and keep all that crap out of the way because it comes at you and it comes at you from left field. My dad is always saying.
Stefan Aarnio: Did you see the Elon Musk interview with Joe Rogan? Did you watch that?
Les Evans: No, not yet.
Stefan Aarnio: Well, that’s a wild entry because they were talking about AI and artificial intelligence. And Elon Musk is saying, he’s talking about it, he says, “We got to slow down AI, we got to slow down artificial intelligence, it’s going to kill us, it’s going to be the atom bomb, it’s gonna kill us, It’s gonna be terminator, it’s going to be every Sci-FI movie where the AI takes over.”
Les Evans: Scary.
Stefan Aarnio: It is amazing because he said, today technology is limited with our thumbs, what we can type with their thumbs is limiting technology. And he said our brain can only download so much information at a time right now and we are the limiting factor. When you take an AI and you take the limiting factor away where someone can just learn without this limiting flesh suit that we have here. He said that’s going to be a real big change. Something I think about all the time is how do you think the learning is going to change in the future? I think classrooms are kind of obsolete. I think the universities are obsolete. Where do you think we’re going in the future with training people?
Les Evans: Well, let me ask you this, is your audience predominantly entrepreneurs?
Stefan Aarnio: Oh yeah. Dude, it’s much entrepreneurs, real estate investors, like hustlers, man. [crosstalk 00:18:08].
Les Evans: Yeah, so we’re on safe ground. I mean, I figured out really early that school was nothing more than a confirmatory factory for employees.
Stefan Aarnio: Confirmatory. I like that.
Les Evans: Well, it is. I mean, it’s funny because I’d go to school and get BCOM, a bachelor’s of commerce, and then that became so common, everyone was saying, “Well, get an MBA.” Well MBAs today are flip and diamond dozen, I remember my mother saying, “Well you should put them a lawyer.” Thinking I’ve good skills. And I said, “Nah, I have no interest in that.” I mean, I’ll hire lawyers, they can work for me, which turned out to be the case. I really don’t know. I mean today, unless you’re self educated, or as the saying goes, you go to school to become instructed, then education is what happens outside of that environment.
Les Evans: One of the things I did when I had my investment firm is I was on the … I got nominated to a board of directors that had an alliance of doctors. They did financial planning for 28,000 physicians and surgeons in the United States. So I would go give financial planning, like high level planning talks, to doctors who were making like a million dollars a year. I’m not talking about general practitioners, I mean plastic surgeons, brain surgeons, et cetera. And they would look at me after 15 years of university, and they were completely puzzled. They were like, ‘How did you learn all this stuff?” And said, Well gentlemen, in this particular case … this meeting was all gentleman. I said, “Gentlemen, it’s simply this, you went to school to learn, they told you what to think. I had to learn how to think.” Big distinction. Big distinction.
Stefan Aarnio: Yeah. Well that’s huge. I mean, I was training my staff yesterday, and we all read the book Think and Grow rich, and I said, “Most people go through their life without ever thinking.” And you might think, oh, what do I want for lunch? Chicken or beef or fish.
Les Evans: Yeah. That’s not thinking.
Stefan Aarnio: That’s not really thinking. Thinking is where you go up to the forest and you got nothing and you’re with nothing but the roar of silence and maybe what they would call god, and that’s where the thinking really comes. Why do you think people don’t think anymore Les? And it’s something that you don’t see pretty often.
Les Evans: You really want to hear the answer to this?
Stefan Aarnio: Give me the goods.
Les Evans: Okay. I’ve got to two people you can reference from because you mentioned the word think. The founder of IBM, the original company, IBM, was Thomas Watson and used to have a sign over his office and it said, “Think.” And that was his motto for IBM. And he said … I remember the quote, I just have to paraphrase. He said, ” If a person would just sit down and think.” That is to say critical thinking where you actually turn the machine on and strategize what you’re trying to do. If a person would think just one hour a day, in five years, your life would be unrecognizable. And is absolutely true.
Les Evans: Now, here’s the contradictory part, Henry Ford, of course, the founder of Ford motor company, as you know, thinking like sitting down, keeping in a quiet area, taking the time to just think and maybe write a few ideas down is extremely difficult hard work. It’s taxing emotionally, it’s taxing mentally, and it’s frankly taxing physically. But Henry Ford said, “Thinking is so hard that most people would rather resort to climb than think.” So there’s your answer.
Les Evans: So let me ask you this, and I’m asking this question in front of thousands of people all over the world. I’ll ask people a simple question because quite often … I mean you’re in the sales business, we’re all in the sales business. And so I’ll ask a room full of entrepreneurs, I’ll say, “Have you ever heard this phrase when you’ve tried to pitch something to somebody.” And here’s the phrase, “I want to think about it.” And of course we know all that, it’s like everybody hates that. But here’s an interesting question. I’d say, raise your hand … if I’ve got a thousand people in an audience, “Raise your hand if you’ve ever gone to school and been formally trained in problem solving, logic, reason or critical thinking, where you’ve actually studied it as a subject.” And only about four out of 100 people who will say yes, the affirmative that I have studied that.
Les Evans: I said, “Isn’t that interesting, 96 percent of you have never been trained to think, reason, or problem solve. 96 percent, and here you’re asking somebody to think about it.” So Why would you ask somebody to do A, number one, what they’re not trained to do? They have no problem skills, no reasoning skills, no skills and logic. Okay. And number two, they just rather commit crime in the first place. So that kind of sums up the state of the union when it comes to thinking. If you’re the-
Stefan Aarnio: I was gonna say Les, I love what you’re saying about crime because I think that entrepreneurs and criminals have a lot in common.
Les Evans: Wow, how’s that?
Stefan Aarnio: Well, when you look at the guys who … your A students work for B, B students work for C, C students and B students work for the government. So, when you got your A, students, those are conformists; they can form whatever the system tells me, they do. And you’ve got your C students, those are usually your entrepreneurs, they can’t read well, they don’t listen, they don’t fill out the tests. They’re nonconformists and-
Les Evans: Break the rules.
Stefan Aarnio: They’re breaking the rules, and they’re going out and … I think criminals make great entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs make great criminals. I mean, the thing there is ethics and morality I guess is somewhere in there. But what do you think about that statement?
Les Evans: Well, I mean … the funny thing is I’m always … if you want to get into deep philosophical discussion, that’s one thing, but it’s amazing … crime is literally created by government because it’s constantly creating more and more laws and they say that ignorance of the law is no excuse but the truth of the matter is there are thousands of laws being created every single year, and half the time you’re violating the law, you wouldn’t even have a clue. So government is probably the biggest criminal organization in the world. And I don’t mean that just as a broad brush, I’m just saying that, we need organizations. Obviously, to run the country, build the roads, et cetera, et cetera. But even in Canada, I could swallow dozens of examples of how our federal government, provincial governments, break the law regularly, including the bank act. But that’s another story.
Stefan Aarnio: Well, I was gonna say entrepreneurs, criminals and the government, all in one. So Les, let’s talk about what you’re doing now. So you’re … I met you, you fly around the world, you’re a highly paid speaker, highly sought after, people love to hear from Les Evans. How does somebody get into the business of speaking and making a living on that kind of thing? I think there’s so many people that want to be speakers. I think it’s a hot trend right now, be a coach, be a speaker, be an author. The information age is here. Gary Vaynerchuk is on their phone every two minutes. Grant Cardone’s on their phone. How does somebody actually do that because I think it’s kind of like you were saying about the 80/20 rule, most people don’t ever do it. I think it’s more like 95 and five or 97 and three or 99 and one to tell you the truth-
Les Evans: Well, I was being generous.
Stefan Aarnio: [crosstalk 00:25:54] way generous. How do you get into that top one percent, top three percent where someone wants to hear you speak?
Les Evans: Well, okay. So this is a touchy subject for people because I’m probably going to take this balloon and pop it.
Stefan Aarnio: Burst the bubble, man. This is Respect The Grind, it’s reality, reality podcast. We can cry, crying is okay.
Les Evans: Okay. Well, here’s the interesting thing, I never had a dream or vision of being a speaker. I never had a dream or a desire to share my feelings with the world, even though that’s part of the speaking. Speaking is a business. One thing you have to understand about speaking is it’s a business period, and being a seeker is nothing, it’s all … I’ve seen you on some of your podcasts and broadcasts, whether they’re streaming it on Instagram or whatnot, Stef, it’s 70 percent marketing. It is a business. If you go out … if you want to go change the world as a speaker and you want to share your story, and by god everybody has a story, first thing you need to realize is that you’re not unique, everybody’s got a story. So what? Who cares? And you have to be ruthless with yourself in that standpoint.
Les Evans: Nobody cares about your story until they know what you can deliver to them in terms of values. So here’s something I’ll throw for the in your podcast, is if you want to view speaker, you have to approach it as a business first. If you go out to try and change the world with your story, you’re not going to change anything. You’re just going to sit and go broke and have no people. However, if you approach this as a business and you take what is your stuff, your unique IP, as we say, your intellectual property, your personality and everything, your experiences, and you package that into usable products or services, now you’ve got something to. And then of course we have to bring in the component of getting out and learning how to market. It’s all, marketing is positioning. It’s a way of marketing, advertising, and selling and branding. Those are four very distinct things. You have to make [inaudible 00:28:15].
Les Evans: People ask me all the time, how do you differentiate? Well, start by being you for example. Listen today, you can learn anything you want to learn off the internet; it’s all there. What makes us speaker unique is somebody who synthesizes, in other words, distills information from lots of different sources, synthesizes it, adds their own personality, their own insights, their own interpretations, innovates. I mean originality is great, but it’s highly overrated. Originality is the last piece where you add your particular perspective. I mean if you were to wear my glasses, you would see the world in a very different way obviously because my prescription is different. And that’s what a great speaker does is assimilates, innovates, synthesizes, and then presents it in such a way that it’s digestible. And all of that has to be accomplished through getting out there and marketing.
Les Evans: So, years ago, like I said, I looked at … I said, okay, we’re gonna … I want to make money in this financial business, I’m going to create a seminar. And one of the things I did many, many years ago is I used to be a door to door salesman. I sold high end, expensive pots and pans, door to door. And my coach and mentor at that time told me how to sell something, how to up people’s minds, how to show them something they’ve never seen before, and take them from where they are here to where you want to go. Now that means you have to be able to connect the dots at a very, very logical fashion. You have to overcome their objections. You will have to overcome people’s limiting beliefs about money, and you have to overcome their limiting beliefs about what they can do and if this is for them and oh, I don’t know if this is for me. So there’s an entire process that has to be learned.
Les Evans: But at the end of the day, I spent my own money, I wrote my newspaper ads, I wrote direct mail, I learned how to do those things, I wrote radio ads, I spent money to get people in the room and funny enough Stefan, I succeeded because I failed. I actually took a massive gamble one time, I’d done five or six small test seminars and we had eight or ten people show up. I hadn’t put a lot of money into advertising and then I decided to go from broke and we spent $35,000 putting in a full page ad in the Vancouver Sun, flew out to Vancouver, rented a whole hotel room, sound system, PA, all that stuff, and we had eight people show up.
Stefan Aarnio: Oh my god. Oh my god. This is the story. I love this.
Les Evans: Okay. And of course, here’s the dilemma. Now here’s what a professional does. An amateur would say, “Oh my god, my life is over. I’m completely finished, and why don’t we just get you eight people together and let’s just hug and sing kumbaya because I’m screwed anyways.” That’s not what a professional does. I always learned that all business is show business, and if you don’t get that, you’re not … Listen, if you don’t show up, there’s no business. If you do not put on a show, there is no business. Lights, camera … hey, it’s packaging, man. I trademarked that by the way.
Stefan Aarnio: Oh, man, you got to say it again for the people at home, say it again.
Les Evans: it’s very simple, no show, no biz; you’ve got to remember that.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow, all business is show business.
Les Evans: It’s all business is show business. In fact, it just says it even on my drum stIcks right here. No show, no biz.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow. I love that because it totally goes against … there’s so many entrepreneurs out there that say, “Oh, I don’t want to be a marketer, I don’t want to sell, I don’t want to put on a show.” So many artists, musicians, “I don’t want to dress up for the show.” Me and you are a more dressed interestingly than most guys going on stage to play in rock bands these days. I mean, I love that man, no show, no biz.
Les Evans: Well you know what, here’s the moral of the story. I got up in front of those people and I said, okay, there’s eight people, I’ve got to give it everything I’ve got. And I did. I did that presentation as best I could, the very best I could under the circumstances. And we ended up with nothing. So I told my business partners, I said, “Well, we’re screwed. Let’s go down to the bar and have a drink because this card credit is going to be blowing up anyways, so a few hundred extra dollars on a bar bill isn’t gonna matter.”
Les Evans: Now, here’s the funny thing, a guy walked over and I went, “Oh, no, that guy was in the audience.” And listen, when you’ve just blown $35,000, the last thing you want to do is talk to somebody. You want to drown your misery in your milkshake and whatever you like to drink, whether it’s a green smoothie or a martini. And this fellow came over to me and he goes, “Hey, mind if I sit down?” And I’m like, “Sure.” And he goes, “You know what, that was a fantastic presentation. Who created that presentation?” I said, “I did.” “Who taught you that speak?” I said, “Nobody.” “Who’s your speaking coach?” I said, “Nobody.” “Well, where did you learn to do this?” I said, “What do you mean when did I learn? I taught myself. I used to be a musician.” And he goes, “Well, listen, you did an awesome presentation and I’ve never seen anything like this.” I go, “Well, great, but why didn’t you buy?” He goes, “The whole was out, your timing was out because there was a huge financial convention here last week. That’s why you don’t have anybody in the audience.”
Les Evans: And I was thinking to myself like Adam Sandler would say, “Information I could have used yesterday.” But he said, “Here’s something, I’ll tell you what, I’m a business promoter and I want to put you on my stage. I can fill a room with 300 people in three weeks. are you interested?” So what I didn’t know is the fact that I put up my own money, I did my marketing and I showed up and I didn’t realize that I was auditioning for a major promoter, and within six months I’d grossed one point $1.6 million speaking on those stages, and that’s how you do.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow. Now, one thing I love about that story was my favorite part actually is the part where you say you used to sell door to door because every single person I have on this show pretty much sold door to door, sold on the street, telemarketing, they had some sort of shitty sales job at the beginning, just grinding, grinding, grinding, hitting the pavement, hitting the doors. Tell me how important is learning to sell and knocking on doors because everybody hates it and nobody wants to do it, it’s nobody’s dream, but how important is that?
Les Evans: It’s essential because if you don’t sell … listen, if you want to be a platform speaker, a platform speaker is a salesperson. Here’s the challenge though, the reason you don’t want to sell is your identity as a salesperson is all wrong because you’ve been pre … and I’m going to blame Hollywood all the way to the moon for this. We’ve been pre-programmed from birth to believe that salespeople … yeah, I mean you show me one movie in Hollywood where the salesperson is the hero. They’re always sleazy, they’re always pushing, they’re always crooked et cetera, et cetera. We’ve got negative brainwashing and yet salespeople are some of the highest paid professions in the world. Why? Because we’ve been programmed and Hollywood has framed us as scumbags.
Les Evans: The truth of the matter is our economy depends on people buying stuff; nothing happens until a sale is made. And a great salesperson is somebody who is helping somebody get out of their own way, delivering value, and closing people on a commitment; not a commitment to buy, but a commitment for them to invest in themselves. That’s what and it’s the most noble profession in the world. And once you understand that, you’ll love to sell because selling is serving. It is just that simple. It’s helping people get out of their own weight because people … listen, I used to laugh when people say, “Wow, your pots and pans are so fabulous, they sell themselves.” I go, “Yeah, that’s why we don’t put them in department stores.”
Stefan Aarnio: I remember I was getting into vacuum sales and I wanted to do vacuum sales so bad, man. I was sold on selling it, I thought it was the greatest thing. And I asked the guy, I said, “Why don’t you guys put this vacuum in the store?” He said, “Well, when there’s a $20 vacuum next to a $600 or a vacuum, which one are you going to buy, right?” Or its lowest common denominator, they’re not going to sell you the Mercedes or the Rolls Royce at the Honda dealership, it just doesn’t work like that.
Stefan Aarnio: So Les, you’re an international speaker, international trainer, you coach people all over the world, what do you think is our biggest cause of failure in people when you’re coaching business people, entrepreneurs? What’s the biggest cause of failure?
Les Evans: Biggest cause of failure, usually limiting beliefs.
Stefan Aarnio: Okay. So what do you think are the top three limiting beliefs that you hear mostly from people?
Les Evans: Well, I don’t know if there’s top three limiting beliefs, it’s just that self doubt is a killer. The more I see it, it’s … and no matter how high you go, everybody hits it sooner or later. So you understand what I mean? One person’s limiting beliefs, they can say, “Well, I could never imagine making a million dollars.” Well, for example, I remember years ago when I was working for the postal service a $100,000 a year, now this is talking 1986. That was a lot of money back then. That would be what? Three times that now? Probably?
Stefan Aarnio: At least.
Les Evans: Call it 300,000, 400,000 a year.
Stefan Aarnio: Well, what was minimum wage back then in 1986?
Les Evans: Oh gosh, that’s a good question. Probably six bucks an hour maybe.
Stefan Aarnio: I think it’s probably five, like five-
Les Evans: Probably five, yeah.
Stefan Aarnio: So $5 bucks an hour and now it’s like 12 or 11. So yeah, probably 250 grand today.
Les Evans: Yeah. So it was like six figures was the phrase, if you could make six figures, that was kind of the proverbial glass ceiling. And I remember thinking that until the first time I broke through it, and then I was like, well what’s the big deal? And so the next thing is a million dollars, and then you crack that because I did a single talk and made over a million dollars one day. I think it was 2007, if I remember right.
Les Evans: I remember thinking, well what’s the big deal? So it’s just these projections you have on your mind or people … usually what it is I think, I can sum it up in one thing, it’s your identity, it’s who you think you are. And people say, well that’s not me or that’s not-
Stefan Aarnio: Oh, I hate that. I hate that. That’s not me, I can’t sell.
Les Evans: Yeah, that’s an identity and it has nothing to do with the person. People build up who they think they are and the biggest … I get a real laugh out of watching … I mean you do makeovers, you do home makeovers, but if you’ve watched these beauty makeovers, for example, what’s really funny is you’ll see someone with the most terrible hairstyle and there’ll be fighting to death to hold onto it because that’s just not me, until they get a new haircut and it totally transforms them and now they grow into that identity.
Les Evans: So if you look at limiting beliefs, people have kind of like a global belief about, well this is … that’s just not how it works. Like I have a friend of mine, for example, he’s a super highly paid coach. He made $6 million dollars in the last three years and he had coaches criticizing him saying, “How dare you charge somebody a million dollars a year for coaching?” How dare you. But he does. And when I heard him say that because I spent time with them recently, that just blew my mind. I would’ve never thought. A million bucks a year for coaching, he’s like, “Well, why not?” And I went, “Yeah.”
Les Evans: There’s a perfect example of my own limiting belief. It wasn’t a limiting belief, it’s just I’ve never even considered it, it was kind of outside of that realm.
Stefan Aarnio: Right. I met Brad Lamb once, who is a Toronto developer, you probably know Brad Lamb or heard of him. And Brad Lamb said, “Always oversell.” And I said, “But brad isn’t that unethical? Isn’t overselling unethical?” He said, “There’s no such thing as overselling, you have to always oversell, oversell, oversell.” And I was like, wow. And Brad is super, super, super successful. And that was my limiting belief crashing against his limiting belief. What about ethics? Boom.
Les Evans: Because we make It a moral thing. And this is kind of funny, if I may continue on this just for a moment, because you’re talking about people who want to become speakers and coaches themselves, right?
Stefan Aarnio: Right.
Les Evans: Well, one of the greatest challenges … and here’s the biggest stumbling block, you call it broken wing syndrome. A lot of people want to be speakers and coaches because they want to help other people because they’ve suffered and hey, we all have our crosses to bear, but the problem is they want to go help all the broke people because they think that’s somehow more noble to help somebody in need. And I’m not criticizing that, don’t get me wrong.
Stefan Aarnio: That’s some socialism stuff right there, man. That’s the hammer and the sickle right there.
Les Evans: Well here’s something interesting because I don’t know if you had heard or read the designer Kate Spade who committed suicide recently. When people have money, people forget when they’re looking from the outside, they think if you’re rich and or famous that you don’t have any problems, and even if you do have problems, well, so what? You’re rich and famous, you got $100 million dollars, so suck it up is the attitude of the average person. And I said, “How dare you? How dare you have the audacity to judge somebody as a human being who’s potentially suffering?” As Kate Spade clearly was. She probably, if you want to charge their $2 million to help her resolve her emotional issues, what would be the immoral thing about that? Because you would have saved a life and the lives of her children, et cetera, et cetera.
Les Evans: And so I’ve worked with people that you pay like $60,000 to help me get out of their emotional rut. And I did it in two and a half hours where they spent two and a half years spending thousands of hours in therapy going nowhere. Well, which is more immoral? To charge somebody endlessly for two and a half years while they struggle and suffer through their life or pay them up front and I’ll get it done in two and a half hours? Thank you very much. Which is more ethical?
Stefan Aarnio: I love it. When I’m coaching people I used to say, “Well I have to qualify, I have to take the right guys and I need to reject people. And then on the other end, the moral argument is who am I to judge who can do it or not?” And it made me realize this part, I want to qualify, qualify, qualify, have the right guys, but who am I to judge who’s the right guy?
Les Evans: The only thing I believe, Stefan, I’m not totally with that philosophy because coaching to me is all about the marriage. You can be a great coach, great speaker, but the other party has to come to the table. And what I mean by that. So what I’m looking for is not the external appearances, I’m looking for someone who’s desperate. They are hungry and des … I don’t care what the exterior looks like, I just want it because when my coach and mentor took me on to learn how to sell pots and pans, I’d spent six months trying to sell life insurance, that was a failure. And everybody was telling me, “You’re a failure, you can’t do this.” I mean it’s not enough you beat yourself up, but when the family joins in, it’s a real party. But I knew, I recognized and I said, “Listen, this guy can teach me and I’m desperate. I am desperate.”
Les Evans: So it’s not a question if this is a good person or you’re a good person, that’s not the question. In my mind is are you good together? I can be a great coach, but I can only coach someone who’s great, who has this desire. I don’t know if you can see it up here because I worked with an Olympic gold medalist [inaudible 00:45:52] right there. And the great thing about coaching an Olympic gold medalist is he’ll say, “What do I need to do coach?” And I’ll say this and this. He goes, “Okay.” And they just go do it. Because the reason he’s an Olympic champion is because he’s got that drive and inspiration and determination already. So to me, it’s not position or how much money you have or status or any of that stuff. It’s do you have the drive to get it done? It’s the only thing that matters.
Stefan Aarnio: I love it. Les, a couple more questions before we go here. If you could go back to the beginning, 18 year old Les Evans, what would you say to him? What’s a piece of advice?
Les Evans: I would have told him exactly what it took to become a rockstar, I wish I would have known.
Stefan Aarnio: Yeah.
Les Evans: I wish I would known-
Stefan Aarnio: Do you think it would scare him?
Les Evans: No. If I would have known because I wanted to be … I’m like a lot of people, I had pictures of rock stars, posters on the … in fact, I still do. If you looked at my office, the funny thing is I’m in the pictures with them now, so that’s cool. But back then my parents didn’t know, I mean how could they know? There is no way. But if somebody could have sat down with me when I was eight, when it was first starting to learn drums and as you know, mastering a musical instrument is difficult. It takes a lot of time. But if they said, “Okay, if you really want to be a star, here’s what it’s going to take. Your eight years old, you’re going to have to start practicing three hours a day and by the time you’re 18 you need to be practicing seven, eight, nine hours a day. And you’re going to have to be mentally prepared. You’re going to have to learn how to write. You’re going to have to learn musical structure. You’re going to have to learn how to sing.”
Les Evans: If they would have told me, if I would have know that, and then if I decided I had the passion and more over the discipline because passion is one thing, but you need the discipline to keep practicing. But it’s funny, I heard … that would be my advice to myself. But interestingly enough, Stefan, I heard or read an article where Mark Cuban was talking about the difference between passion and the path. And it’s funny, I had a passion for music, but I found my path was exactly what I’m doing now. And the path is something that you just find yourself doing naturally every single day without thinking about it. To me, like speaking and coaching, that’s like breathing to me. It just comes to me.
Les Evans: I did not … too long ago, I spoke to an audience and I think it was in Munich for seven hours straight without a break, no notes; I just could do it. That’S the path. Music is still my passion, but the path is what comes more naturally to me in terms of what I just find myself doing, if that makes any sense.
Stefan Aarnio: I love it. What’s the top three books that changed your life Les? Top three books.
Les Evans: How to Win Friends and Influence people, absolutely number one. Funny enough, the second favorite one of mine would be a Winning Through Intimidation. That’s an oldie but a goodie by Robert Ringer. So really stayed what … I don’t know if you’ve ever read it, but It’s a hilarious story of a real estate broker and it’s not about learning how to be intimidating, it’s learning how not to be intimidating. The whole book is really about positioning and marketing and branding, it was written way ahead of its time. And then after that, probably the 48 Laws of Power I’d picked by Robert-
Stefan Aarnio: Uh, that’s a big one and I love that. Okay, so Les, final question today. What’s the one thing that young people need to succeed nowadays?
Les Evans: The one thing they need to succeed? Same thing you’ve always needed, burning desire. You got to have the fire in your gut, that’s it. You just have to have the fire in your gut to do something. And I don’t even know where that comes from quite frankly. Everybody that I’ve seen who’s made any kind of success of themselves has got the fire. I mean, when I first saw you, I knew the second I saw him. I mean it was just … some people just have it, you can just tell. And sometimes it comes later in life. I mean this is … you’re not racing against anybody, it’s all about your own thing. But if you could tap into that, that whatever it is, that stuff, that burning … it’s just a burning desire to be somebody.
Les Evans: I just can’t stand being average and ordinary. I can’t stand mediocrity. There’s just like there’s my way, the highway, and then the right way to do things. It’s just like you get a certain fanaticism for doing things a certain way, and you have that commitment as you do because I’ve looked at everything you’ve been doing over the years, like when you do your journals, the time and care and attention you put into them, your Respect The Grind thing, all your branding, your grinder manifesto. I know the care and attention, and the time it takes, the detail to do all that stuff. So it’s that kind of unrelenting kind of attitude that … and it’s not about being perfect, I call it, like I said, preeminence; it’s the constant striving to crank out, squeeze as much juice out of yourself as possible. That’s the thing that does it.
Les Evans: I saw … real quickly, everybody knows who Lady gaga is. I’m not a huge fan of her music per se, but god almighty has she got passion. I saw her singing on youtube some place, she was literally sitting down casually with five or six people and she started to sing and she cut loose like she was singing in front of 60,000 people. And I go, “That’s why she’s got it. That’s why she is who she is.” Six, 600, 60,000, it’s all the way baby, all or nothing.
Stefan Aarnio: That’s it. Love it. I love it.
Les Evans: No show, no biz.
Stefan Aarnio: All or nothing. No show, no biz. Les Evans, thank you so much for being on the show Respect The Grind. How can people get in touch with you?
Les Evans: You can look me up anywhere on Facebook, I’m on there. Instagram I am Les Evans, on Twitter, the same thing, I am Les Evans. And you’re going to be seeing a whole brand new, whole kind of stuff, I can’t open my mouth shut. It took a year in development because I had some health issues, but I’m launching something that is really cool and you’re going to love it. It’s totally me. It’s brand new, content wise; a whole new speaking platform, which is part of the reason I’m going to Vegas in a couple of days. And I’m going to show something, something unique in the seminar world, never been done before. Really cool. But it’s like, shh, can’t tell you right now.
Stefan Aarnio: Love it Les. Thank you so much for being on the show Respect to grind.
Les Evans: You’ve got my friend. Great to see you again.
Stefan Aarnio: Hi Stefan Aarnio here, thank you for listening to another episode of Respect The Grind, my podcast where I bring entrepreneurs, athletes, real estate investors, and other top achievers just to you. Now, if you’ll love this episode, I want to offer you a brand new product by my team it’s called the High Performance Journal. Now this high performance journal is a 90 day journal to get clear on all your goals, you’re going to pick your top three goals over the next 90 days and zero in on them and focus in on them the way billionaires, Olympic athletes do. This is high performance stuff inside this journal.
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