John Haime is a Human Performance Coach who prepares performers to be their very best by helping them tap into the elusive 10% of their abilities that will elevate them to the top. This is something that anyone with a goal craves and John Haime knows how to get performers there. John closes the gap for performers in business, sports and the arts taking them from where they currently are to where they want to go.

The best in the world trust John. They choose him because he doesn’t just talk and theorize about the world of high performance – he has lived it and lives in it everyday. He is a former Tournament Professional Golfer with professional wins. He has a best-selling book “You are a Contender” that is widely read by world-class athletes, coaches and business performers. He has worked around the globe for some of the world’s leading companies. Athlete clients include performers who regularly rank in the World Top 50 in their respective sports. John has the rare ability to work as seamlessly in the world of professional/high level sports as he does in the world of business/leadership or the performing arts. Clients all agree that John Haime cares about them as a performer and a person.

Working with individuals or teams, John takes clients inside his world of high performance and provides insights and long-term solutions to help them build on core capabilities. He shares the fundamentals and a defined, proven, step by step process that he uses with the world’s best. The process features the very best elements from performance psychology, emotional intelligence, sport psychology, business planning, executive coaching and neuroscience. Clients learn what separates the average from the elite and how individuals and teams can maximize abilities.

John is passionate about helping others prepare, think and perform like a world-class athlete. He coaches clients on how to tap into the 10% that makes 90% of the difference in daily performance.

Along with a variety of professional accreditations, John has been mentored by some of the top industry practitioners in human performance and leadership. He is a life-long learner believing that what worked yesterday is often outdated today. He has researched, studied, investigated and used trial and error to help people perform at extraordinary levels. His only benchmark is measurable, sustainable results for valued New Edge Performance clients.

He is a graduate of Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN USA.

John lives in Ottawa, Canada with his wife and son.

Find out more about John Haime at:


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 has achieved mastery and examine what it took to get there. Today on the show I have John Haime. He is a well known high performance coach. He’s a high performance coach to top athletes, top corporate. He published a book. John, thank you so much for being on the show Respect The Grind. Thanks so much for joining me.

John Haime: Thank you, Stefan. Pleasure to be here and hope I can share something with your audience.

Stefan Aarnio: I think you’re right up this show’s alley. The show is called Respect The Grind, and what we believe is it takes 10 years and 10,000 hours to achieve mastery, and you’re somebody who is coaching the people at the top levels and I can’t wait to dive into what you’ve got to say. The first question I love to ask everyone on the show, John, is you’re obviously a successful guy today. What was life like for John before you achieved success?

John Haime: My life has been great. Do you want to hear a little bit about how I got to where I am? Do you want me to take you through it? I mean, it all started for me, my father was in the golf business. He was a golf professional. So, my brother and I grew up at the golf club. I developed a little bit of an ability, a talent, an aptitude to play the game of golf. When I was a kid, I was one of the top young players in the country in Canada. I was recruited to an American university, Purdue University, fantastic school.

John Haime: I went through the process of university in the US, the NCAA process. The dream for me, Stefan, was always to play professional golf from the time I was a little kid. That’s what I practiced for. That’s what I wanted to do, and so after college I turned pro, and I actually played professional golf for six and a half years. I played all around the world. I’d play Australia, Asia, South Africa. I went through the PGA Tour Qualifying School.

John Haime: I played in a lot of big events. I played in many National Opens, and that was a lot of fun, but the final year, the sixth year that I played professional golf, I went through the PGA Tour Qualifying School. I did not qualify, so that’s always the goal with a professional golfer. You always want to get to the European Tour or the PGA Tour. Did not qualify for the PGA Tour. I would have had to gone back to Asia, Africa, wherever, one of the developmental tours and play another year.

John Haime: I didn’t want to do that, so I came back to Ottawa. I took a job with a friend of mine who had a trade policy consulting firm. I worked in that space for a little bit, transitioned into my own company doing events. All sorts of things around golf or big companies. Then I worked in that for, I think, three or four years. One of my bigger clients came to me and asked me if I could put some more meat on the bone with respect to the events I was running for them.

John Haime: We added some education. I combined with some top people in the field of training, leadership, et cetera, team building. We built a program after a couple of years called Mastering the Game. Then a company in the US, a major consulting firm, liked what I was doing with respect to this particular program called Mastering the Game. So, they hired me to run the programs all around the world for their clients, and that’s exactly what I did.

John Haime: I did that for about seven years. I ran that program primarily in Asia, I would say. Some in North America. Some in Europe. I also got into coaching of some of the executive teams. I got into coaching some of the CEOs I was working for. I started with sales managers running the program, and built relationships in these organizations, and then started coaching.

John Haime: What happened was with respect to my work in sports, one of the VPs that I was coaching in Asia asked me if I could help his daughter, who was a tennis player. He said, “Just do exactly the same thing you’re doing with us for her. All will be good.” I met with her. She was a talented tennis player, but needed some structure, and needed some performance work, essentially. Over the course of about a year going back and forth and working with their company in Malaysia, I worked with her.

John Haime: I created a process to help her, and it wasn’t the same process that I was using with the … There was some pieces of it that were the same, but I had to adapt and build some pieces for athletes. So, I went back and forth. I educated myself for about a year and a half on how to do this, and eventually after about 18 months of working with her, she rose to the top of her age category in Asia, and really fulfilled her potential.

John Haime: Then I started to get more calls from other people in Asia. Then I came back to Canada and got calls from agents in the NHL, and all sorts of different leagues, and I started to work in golf and tennis. For the past I would say 15 or so years, I’ve been working with a lot of the very, very top athletes in the world in their respective sports, and still coaching.

John Haime: I work with a company called Blueprint Consultants. It’s a fantastic little boutique consultancy out of Ottawa. They have some fantastic clients, so I do some work with them. I have my own clients also. I coach leaders in a number of organizations. I coach some financial people. It’s all about coaching for me, and it’s all about getting people to the next level.

Stefan Aarnio: That’s a tremendous story, John, because it starts in a place that we see so often with the high performance people we have on this show. Typically, I always see people coming on this show who are very successful. They’re entrepreneurs or something else, and they come from sports, or they come from music, or they come from something like that where it just takes hours and hours of repetition. Why do so many successful people in the business world or other areas come from sports? What do you think the magic of sports is?

John Haime: Well, I think there is requirements to being a great athlete, certainly the structure, the discipline, the psychology around it, the mental and the emotional development required. By far, by far, the most important quality in high performance, in my opinion from what I’ve seen working with the very best over 15 years is always … When I go and do speeches, I ask people what this is. What is the number one characteristic, and people say confidence, and people say passion, and people say motivation, and people say all these different words, but by far, by far the piece is self-awareness.

John Haime: If you have self-awareness, if you understand your own emotions, if you understand your triggers, and your strengths, and your limits, and your values, and your purpose, and all these pieces that are critical to moving forward and being successful, and a lot of athletes have self-awareness because they’ve had to understand what their strengths are in order to get to the next level. They’ve had to understand what their triggers are. They have to know what their values are. They have to know what their purpose is.

John Haime: If they don’t, it’s a difficult path, certainly, forward in sports, but a lot of them do know it. So, I think sports requires you to really reflect, and self-reflect, and have the discipline, and have the day to day … The other factor too, obviously, performance is all about you’re here today, and where exactly do you want to go, and that’s what sports is about. Right? You have a goal. You have a target. Where do you want to go, and you’re always working towards that.

John Haime: Everything is like that. Your business is like that. The real estate business is like that. I mean, that’s where you came from, right? You started somewhere. You wanted to go somewhere, so how exactly do you do it? You put the plan in place to do it. To answer your question very simply, I think that’s why athletes, they have a little bit of a leg up on the average guy.

Stefan Aarnio: Right. I’ve noticed that in the real estate space, entrepreneurship space where I’m at, people either come from sports and they’re very good, or they come from music. I came from the … I used to be captain of the volleyball team. Then I went into high-level professional musician. Of course, that’s horrible. That really, really sucks these days, so went into real estate after that. Now entrepreneurship. Now, let me ask you this, John.

John Haime: Yeah.

Stefan Aarnio: My company, we coach people to a high level in entrepreneurship, real estate, that kind of thing. One thing that I think is very important to high performers is to have written documents, a vision plan with their goals, and values, and things written down. A journal, a daily, weekly, monthly journal. We even use a thing called the black book. I got mine here. Every meeting I do, I write down in my black book. I also get my people to get a dream book, just a blank book they can write down big ideas and dreams. Do you encourage your clients to get documents like that where they’re documenting and writing things down all the time? How key do you think that is to success?

John Haime: It’s critical. It’s super important. Every one of those things you mentioned has value. I mean, every single one of my athletes has a very detailed plan around whatever sport. If it’s an equestrian, it’s a riding plan. If it’s a golfer, it’s a golf plan. If it’s an NFL player, it’s a football plan. Basically, it’s an athlete plan. The plan always starts with, okay, what do you want to do? What do you want to achieve? Then from there, what are the exact steps and actions that you will take to get to where you want to go? If you do not, I’m telling you Stefan, if you do not have that plan, often there is no chance to get to where you want to go.

Stefan Aarnio: I’m giving that the gong. Boom, John. I’m giving you a gong. That’s your first gong, john.

John Haime: I love it.

Stefan Aarnio: Yeah, bro.

John Haime: I love it. Keep gonging. Keep gonging.

Stefan Aarnio: You know what’s-

John Haime: That’s two gongs. That one deserves two gongs. Hit it again.

Stefan Aarnio: We’ll give it two gongs.

John Haime: There you go.

Stefan Aarnio: We’re going to get this to maybe a five-gong show. I want this to be a five-gong show today. That was tremendous. If you don’t have it written down, you’re not going to do it. Right?

John Haime: Yeah. Well, exactly, and yes, we have journals. I have a journal that I give every athlete, and I create the questions for them. After every performance, they have to answer the questions. If it’s an NHL-er for example, they get on the bus. They pull out their journal and they answer the maybe five to 10 questions that I construct for them that makes or helps them reflect on their performance.

John Haime: That plan is so big, and the way we construct the plan first of all is we assess people. We do all sorts of discovery on them. We talk to coaches. We talk to parents. We talk to everybody, and then we evaluate, and talk to their coach, too. Their physical coach, or their technical coach. I become a complimentary piece, or we all become a complimentary piece of that plan. Yes. The plan is critical. If you don’t have a plan, then good luck.

Stefan Aarnio: Now, let me ask you this, John. I’ve heard from … I used to have a guy that trained me when I was in sales. I used to work for a private equity company, and his name was Bob Molle, and he was an Olympic silver medalist for wrestling, and he was a CFL football player. I think he won a Grey Cup or something. He was a coach training the salespeople, and he used to say that the difference between an athlete who makes the Olympics, and the difference between an athlete who barely doesn’t make the Olympics is usually a journal.

Stefan Aarnio: They could have the same eating plan, the same workout plan. They both have coaches. They’re both waking up at 5:00 am or 4:00 am. They’re both working hard, but the guy who makes it is a journal user, and the guy who doesn’t make it isn’t a journal user. Would you say that that statement is true?

John Haime: It could be. It depends on the athlete, but yes, it could be. I mean, I just mentioned what the most important piece of performance is, and that’s self-awareness, and a journal helps you develop self-awareness. I mean, getting feedback is huge, understanding what happened at a particular performance. If you’re going to move forward and continually improve, yes.

John Haime: You have to reflect and understand what worked, what didn’t work, what’s going to work next time, and then move forward. Yeah. I can definitely see that as a being a part of it. Is it the difference? There could be many differences, but I will tell you that a journal can be a very, very effective tool in moving people forward towards where they want to go.

Stefan Aarnio: I love it. Now John, there’s so many people out there right now who maybe want to be coaches. You know that coaching is a hot thing right now if you go on the internet. If you go on Facebook, Instagram, any social media, there’s a whole group of people that want to be coaches. They want to be performance coaches. How does a person … Now, you’re somebody, you’ve just been doing it for a long time. I’d say you’re one of the true, legitimate high performance coaches out there. How does somebody who wants to become a coach, become a coach today? What advice would you have for them?

John Haime: Understand people, the psychology of people. Understand communication. Business is about people. You have to understand people. You have to have empathy, obviously. You have to have the natural qualities that a coach has. Educate yourself around psychology. Educate yourself. There’s other things you can do. You can get certifications. The International Coach Federation is one where you can get certification. For me, like I said earlier when I explained my journey, my journey has been very serendipitous, and I had natural qualities. So, I moved towards my natural qualities.

John Haime: I find, Stefan, one thing that separates average and elite performers is knowing and having a predisposition to what you’re really good at. I knew that when I was playing professional golf, I knew that when I was talking to people, I knew that when I was helping other golfers that I had a predisposition towards being a coach later on when I stopped playing golf or whatever after I chose to do. Yeah, if you have a passion for it. I mean, I had a passion for coaching, and I moved towards that passion, and I respected the grind. You know what I mean, and I ground it out. I’m not an overnight success, certainly. It took me 20 years to get to where I am, and now I have the leading people in the world that I work with, and they trust me.

Stefan Aarnio: That’s tremendous, and I have people asking me all the time because I’m a performance coach myself. People always ask me how can I get into coaching? How can I do it? One thing that I say is the market has to choose you to be a coach. I think it’s kind of difficult to just hang up a shingle and start calling yourself a coach. What I like about your story, John, is it sounds like the market chose you through you being present at these high performance … First it was golf things, and then it seemed like you really built your business on a referral basis and just having the goods. Would you say that’s true?

John Haime: Yeah. Like I said, the only thing that matters to my clients is that I get results, and that’s what they’re looking for. From where they are today, they’re looking to go somewhere, and I have a process that takes them there. Every single client that I have ever had has always been through word of mouth. We do very little marketing. We have a website. I have a website, and we have done very little marketing.

John Haime: We started with one. I told you the story about the young athlete we worked with in Asia. We were successful with her. That moved to somebody else, which moved to somebody else, which moved to somebody else. Having a process is really important, too. If you go back to the previous question you asked, having a process of how you’re going to do it is really important. You can’t just go by the seat of your pants. You have to have a process, and that process has to be customizable for every single client because every client is very different. There has to be flexibility and adaptability within the process.

Stefan Aarnio: I love that. Now, with every process being different, John, what are some of the things that always transfer over or are always present with every plan? What are some things that are just the backbone and they’re always there?

John Haime: Well, we always assess people. We have assessment tools that we use, so we get results from the assessment tools. I have the same process of discovery, meaning I interview similar people who have good quality relationships with the individual that I’m coaching. So, I get information that way. The plan, the structure of the plan is always important. Every single athlete has to have a plan, or every single performer that I work with, and that’s the other distinction, too.

John Haime: I mean, the thing is that everybody is a performer, too. When you talk about athletes, when you talk about business people, when you talk about artists. Even people who aren’t those three things, we’re performers every day. I have something I call the playbook. It’s a structural piece that we work off of each month with the athletes. That involves all sorts of different pieces and discovery that we’ve learned about them. Priorities, challenges, what they reflected on.

John Haime: Then we have, of course, you mentioned a journal. Every one of my athletes does have a journal. I construct the questions for them. The way I work, Stefan, typically with, and I’ll use an athlete as an example. I work with them for six months, or six months to a year. The first six months is the intensive discovery, developing the tools for them, developing the playbook, developing all of the different pieces.

John Haime: Then the final six months is a mentoring process where I work with them and we make sure that those pieces that we’ve developed, and we’ve created for them are being put in effect every single day. So, we create their value structure. We create their purpose. We create all these pieces that they’re living these things every single day, right? It’s all structural.

John Haime: When you talk about your podcast Respect The Grind, for me, there’s no … Everybody thinks I have a secret sauce, but it’s a structure that I have created over 15 years, and the athletes commit to the structure. The other piece for me is with respect to motivation, that’s one business I am not in. I am not in the motivation business. If an athlete-

Stefan Aarnio: I’m giving that a gong. I’m giving that a gong, John. Say it again, man. I’ve got to hear it again.

John Haime: I am not in the motivation business. If you’re not motivated when you come to me, and you don’t have that vision of where you want to go, then I’m not interested in working with you.

Stefan Aarnio: Wow. I really love what you said there, and I don’t know if I can express how much I love that. I was explaining to one of my sales guys last night. We were at the office at like 11:00 at night, and I was explaining to him. I said, “Look, there’s people who are zeros, and there’s people who are 10s, and people who are sevens, and eights, and nines.” I said, “One of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life is I’ve tried to polish sevens into eights, or sevens into nines, or sevens into 10s.”

Stefan Aarnio: I’ve found, from my experience John, is a 10 is a 10, and he’s a racehorse. You can polish that 10 and he’s great. Then some people are just sevens, and no matter what you do with that seven, he’s still a seven. He’s a shiny seven. He’s a cleaner seven. He’s a happier seven, but I have hurt myself more and more as a coach trying to turn sevens into 10s and anything else. Do you think that it’s possible to turn a seven into a 10, or do you think that there’s just 10s out there, and you just make 10s, 10s, and sevens are sevens? Do you think that you can make a seven into an eight?

John Haime: Well, yeah. That’s a complicated question. I think everybody has the predisposition inside of themselves to be great, but they need to figure out what it is they can be great at. If you’re talking about a seven in a particular industry, maybe not. Maybe that’s not possible. It’s really interesting, Stefan. I work in many different industries, and I always come in, and I’m talking to, typically it’s the high performers, but one thing I always give leaders a little bit of. We talk about their low performers, their medium performers, and their high performers. Typically the biggest mistake that leaders make is they waste time on the low performers trying to revive them and trying to bring them up into that high performer area, but that’s not-

Stefan Aarnio: I’m loving it again, John. Keep going, man.

John Haime: That typically never happens. So, you should be spending your time on the high performers because those are the people that are really making hay and really making your business happen. Even the medium performers. You can take a five and bring them to a seven, or you can take a seven and maybe bring them to an eight, but you certainly want to spend your time on those higher level performers. There’s so much time wasted by leaders in leadership trying to rescue people and bringing those low performers, because typically that just never happens. Yeah.

Stefan Aarnio: John, I wish we had this conversation five years ago, man. I wish you flew into my house through the window like a magical being and told me that because-

John Haime: I could have saved you some time.

Stefan Aarnio: Oh, man, and gray hairs, probably minutes off my life, hours, years. I’ve collapsed five sales teams now in my company. Five sales team have been completely wiped out and failed, and the sixth one right now is smashing. It’s doing fantastic. It’s unbelievably exponentially better. It’s night and day because I gave it to a guy who is a 10. He’s a 10 and I said, “Here, Mr. 10. Take the team.” He’s hired eights, and nines, and 10s, and the team is just singing.

Stefan Aarnio: It’s singing the sheet music. It’s the most amazing thing, and I used to have the team in the custody of a six, the custody of an eight, custody of a seven, and giving it to a 10, the whole thing works. It’s amazing because we didn’t even really change very much. It’s been the same products, same prices, almost same scripts, same everything, but the 10 just magically was able to put it together. The seven, and the six, and the five, they just threw the baby out with the bathwater. Let me ask-

John Haime: Stefan, let me just add to that just quickly.

Stefan Aarnio: Please do.

John Haime: When I go into a company, I can immediately tell you the ones, the fives, and the 10s because the ones are typically sitting in the back. They’re not super interested, maybe, in learning something new. The 10s are sitting in the front and asking tons of questions about how can I get better? How can I do this? What can I do? The fives are in the middle, right? They’re asking maybe some questions, but they’re not really, really interested in being a 10. They just want to be a five and stay there. So, I can tell you immediately when I walk into a room after maybe 10 minutes, if you pull me out of the room and say, “Who are the ones? Who are the fives? Who are the 10s?” I can pretty much tell you who they are.

Stefan Aarnio: More gongs for John, man. I’m loving you.

John Haime: I’m loving these gongs. This is fantastic.

Stefan Aarnio: Yeah, man. This is good. We got guys coming on the show sometimes, and they get zero gongs, and we can’t even put it out. We can’t even release it because we have to have a certain amount of gongs on the show just to be good.

John Haime: Let’s create some more gongs, then. Let’s go.

Stefan Aarnio: Let’s do it, John. Question for you here, now. With the sales teams, here’s another thing I’ve found over and over again, and I’m sure you’re probably the master of this and you can maybe tell me how people can change this. I meet salespeople all the time. They come in and they’re attracted to the grand. They want to make 100 grand. They want to make 200 grand. They make to make 300 grand. They want to be a superstar. They want to be a 10.

Stefan Aarnio: They come into the office, and I say to them, “Okay. You want to make 100 grand, let’s say, which is nowadays, that’s a nice wage for somebody. You want to make 100 grand. What did you make last year?” They said, “I made 40 grand.” I had a gentleman in my office yesterday. I said, “How much did you make last year?” He said, “I made 30 grand.” He’s selling in my office, and I want him to make 100.

Stefan Aarnio: I said, “Everybody in my office has to make 100 grand because that’s the bar. 100 grand, we’re taking you on trips. 100 grand, we’re buying you guys suits. 100 grand, it’s a great place to work. If you’re making 30, go somewhere else.” I said, “What did you make last year, sir?” He says, “30.” What did you make the year before? 30. What did you make the year before? 30.

Stefan Aarnio: What I notice about salespeople, and you probably see this with athletes, salespeople, all sorts of people, they have a self-image. This gentleman has his self-image set at 30. His thermostat is set at 30. If he makes more than 30, he goes down to 30. If he makes less than 30, he goes up to 30, but he’s in an environment now where 100 should be done. Other guys around him are doing 100, and I said, “I don’t know if you believe that you can have 100.” How does somebody change that self-belief and that self-image from 30 grand to 100 grand so they start running with the other racehorses, and is it even possible, do you think?

John Haime: Yeah. I think it’s possible. Like I said, I think everybody has the predisposition, Stefan, to be great. Like I said, you just have to find out what it is. Maybe he’s making 30 in that business. It’s not the business he should be in. Maybe he needs to be in another business and he can make 100 because he believes he can make 100 in another business. Does that get a gong?

Stefan Aarnio: I don’t know, man. It was good. It was good. It was really good, but I’m saving the gong for something a little tastier than that. We can’t just be handing out gongs every two minutes.

John Haime: Okay. Also, the other thing is, too, in order for him to get to where he may want to go, everything, Stefan, is a step-by-step process, too. You have to go step by step. It depends on … It would be a lot of discovery around figuring out where is this person’s mindset? Do they have the predisposition to make $100,000 in this particular industry? There’s a lot of factors, perhaps, that would go into it, but could he make 100,000? Absolutely. Often it’s a mindset shift and it’s just a question of pressing the right buttons to create that mindset shift.

Stefan Aarnio: Okay. Now let me ask you this, John. You’ve got a book coming out. You said you’re redoing it. You published it in the past. Tell me about your book and tell me about what’s the philosophy of the book?

John Haime: Yeah. The book, it’s called You Are a Contender. I was actually speaking in Palm Springs a number of years ago and I think there was about 1,000 people in the audience. It was a fantastic audience in Palm Springs, a really engaging audience and everything. They asked me to come out and speak about performance, and what I do with athletes, and it was a fun audience.

John Haime: Anyway, there was somebody in the audience was a publisher from New York and came up to me after my talk and said, “You have to write a book about what you’re talking about.” It really was about the structural pieces of performance, and I started with self-awareness, and explained it, and took them through the progressive nature of an idea like emotional intelligence and why self-awareness is so vital that if you don’t have self-awareness, if you can’t lead yourself, it’s almost impossible to lead other people.

John Haime: They were fascinated with this, how self-awareness works, and then how that, if you do have self-awareness, how you can connect with other people. Then if you can connect with other people, then you can develop these quality sustainable relationships with them. Since business is about people, it’s about relationships, they were fascinated in how I drew the lines between all these things based on my experience working with athletes, and artists, and business people.

John Haime: So, the book is essentially a look at … It helps people self-examine, and it helps people ask questions about themselves, and helps them set targets for themselves, and helps them understand a little bit about the brain, a little bit about emotions, a little bit how to regulate emotions. The book is essentially a big piece of self-awareness, and it’s a really good starting piece with respect to performance for people.

John Haime: All of my athletes read the book. The book became a best seller in the US when I first wrote it, and I redid it a couple of years ago, and we republished it again. It has been popular, and it’s been great for me as a marketing piece, and helping people understand a little bit about my thinking in this area of performance.

Stefan Aarnio: Wow. I love that. Now, we got a really interesting word you said there was emotional intelligence, and some people call that EQ. How important is emotional intelligence versus IQ because you’ve got some people who say IQ is everything, and we’ve got some people who say EQ is everything. What’s your take on that?

John Haime: Well, they’re both important. First of all, if you want to be successful in anything, you’ve got to be smart, but you also have to be smart about people, and be smart about your own emotions, too, and be able to connect with other people, and develop quality sustainable relationships with them. Often I’ll go into an organization and there will be a very smart guy or a very smart woman running the company, but they may be a little low on emotional intelligence, which impacts the culture of the organization sometimes in a very big way.

John Haime: We have to work on that, and then we take this idea of emotional intelligence through the organization, but it’s essentially being smart about your emotions. Emotions run the show in high performance. That’s basically what it’s all about. Emotions really do run the show in human performance. You have to understand them. With respect to self-awareness, do you know how your emotions impact you? Do you know how your emotions impact other people, which is really critical?

John Haime: You know the example of the person who just, with respect to their emotions, they run all over people and they don’t even know they’re doing it? So having empathy for others, understanding other people’s feelings, understanding their emotions is really key in business, and in anything in performance. Yes, you have to be smart, but you also have to have this other piece, which is the people piece, the communication piece, the emotional intelligence. Yes. You can call it whatever you want, but it’s essentially being smart about your emotions, which is vital in any business.

Stefan Aarnio: Now, I don’t know if you read the book Mastery by Robert Greene, but he says mastery, John, is the blend of creativity and discipline. What do you think of that, whether it’s athletics, or whether it’s artistry, or whether it’s corporate? Do masters blend creativity and discipline together, or do you think there’s more of one or the other?

John Haime: No. I think you have to have both. I mean, you can have creativity, but I think you have to have discipline around it. Then, I think with respect to discipline, which is critical, right? In everything, discipline is critical. It’s the first piece, but the creativity piece is also important. So, I think those two have to be married to each other. Certainly if you’re creative, you need some discipline around it or it could be chaotic, but I really believe that both are critical. Whatever Robert Greene is selling there, he’s selling the right thing because creativity and discipline are both critical, and you need them. You need them blended together.

Stefan Aarnio: Yeah, yeah. It was a really great book. Mastery by Robert Greene. Great book. Now, one thing that I love to ask every person on the show, John, is what is your obsession? Every single person I meet on this show is obsessed with something. They think about it every morning. They think about it every night. They think about it all day. What’s John’s obsession as a high performance coach?

John Haime: Well, John doesn’t have any obsessions, so-

Stefan Aarnio: No obsession? You’re the first person, man.

John Haime: I’m the first person, but what I teach is you better not be obsessed with anything because you need balance in your life. I have passion. I do not have obsession.

Stefan Aarnio: I’m giving you a gong for that. That’s great.

John Haime: I’m very passionate about what I do. I absolutely love what I do. I can’t wait to get up in the morning to help people, to work with my performers, to develop new ways to help them. So, I’m very passionate about that, but obsession is a dangerous game. You can’t be obsessed with things because life is about balance, and in order to have a balanced life, if you’re obsessed with one thing, then that teeters the balance a little bit. Passion is the word. Passion is the word, Stefan. I’m passionate about what I do.

Stefan Aarnio: I love that. What do you think is the biggest cause of failure in people, John? As someone who is coaching high performance people, you probably see people from time to time who just simply fail. What do you think causes that?

John Haime: Probably self-doubt, I think, is a big one, but it’s not just self-doubt because I think we all have self-doubt. You always have those little gremlins. It’s how do you address self-doubt? How do you get rid of self-doubt, which is the big thing? I have athletes who call me all the time and say, I just had … and I can’t mention the name of the person, but it’s one of the leading athletes in the world talking about that they’ve just lost belief in themselves. Why is that, right?

John Haime: That’s a big area. Now they have doubt, and so how do you clear out that doubt? I think with respect to … but Stefan, there’s other pieces too. We talked about a plan. Not having a plan, I think, is a big one, too. You have to have a plan of where you want to go. If you have this vision of where you want to go, what are the steps to get there? What is the plan to get there? I think that can lead to failure, too.

John Haime: You can be talented. You can have great intentions, but if you don’t have the plan to get to where you want to go, and there’s many that follow in line with this, too. Having a purpose, right? The purpose is huge, knowing why you’re doing something. Why do you do it? That’s a big factor. That’s an initial question with any performer. Why are you doing this?

John Haime: If the answer isn’t because you love it, and because you’ll do whatever it possibly takes to get to where you want to go, if those aren’t the answers, then you might want to reconsider what you’re doing and consider something else that you may be more predisposed to do. I think all those things. That’s a deep question. There’s a lot of reasons why people fail, but I think that little seed of doubt sometimes can … If you don’t have a mechanism to capture that and turn it around, that’s a problem.

Stefan Aarnio: You said one of the most powerful things, I think, on this entire talk here, John, and that was belief. The word belief. What I notice about performers, like we were talking about the salesman, the $30,000 salesman who wants to be $100,000 salesman. I said, “You’ve got to believe that you are $100,000 salesman.” I love what you said about the athlete. The top athlete lost their self-belief.

Stefan Aarnio: Where does belief come from, because this is … I joke in my business. I say I’m almost in the religion business. I’m selling the religion of people to believe in something, right? I think that when you have a book or you have a program, it almost is like a religion. It’s a belief system, and how does somebody create that self-belief system? Is it simply writing things down? Is it affirmations? Does it just come in or out like a candle? Is it on and off? Where does someone get that belief from?

John Haime: Yeah. Well, that’s linked to confidence, too. I mean, confidence is a big thing in my business, but I always put self-awareness first because if you don’t understand and know something, then it’s difficult to believe in it. That’s why the self-awareness is so critical. You have to understand yourself first, and once you do, then you can believe in it, but I always equate or align two things with respect to confidence. The first one is you have to do the work. You have to train day, by day, by day. Respect the grind every single day, right?

Stefan Aarnio: Damn. You got to show up every day. I love that.

John Haime: You have to show up every day. You have to do the work, and that’s how you build some belief. Now, the other thing is, this is the big one and this could be a potential gong right here.

Stefan Aarnio: Let me get it ready. Let me get it ready. Hold on.

John Haime: Get ready. Get rid of that jar and get that stick going.

Stefan Aarnio: Bro, I got to get ready for the gong. I’ve got some water first. Here we go.

John Haime: Okay. The gatekeeper in life is always your own voice. It’s the most important voice in your life. It’s running the show for you, and what that voice tells you based on a number of different factors is so critical. You can do the work. Let me give you an example. I’ll have an athlete who trains, trains, trains, trains, and then at the last second, they go in there and everything is on the line. If that voice isn’t aligned with where they want to go and what they want to do, then that can throw everything off.

John Haime: It doesn’t matter how much training they’ve done. The final gatekeeper is always your own voice. Part of the book that I wrote is a lot about an emotional caddie, which is your own voice, and shaping that voice so that it supports you, and it’s your own best friend. At the time when the pressure intensifies and it gets the most intense, can that voice or does that voice support you? A lot of my work is shaping that voice with athletes, and that’s where a lot of times we talk about belief.

John Haime: That voice is big. So, do you do the work, first of all? Are you prepared to do the work? Are you prepared to go through the pain? Then the second thing is that voice. Is that voice telling you the right thing, because like I said, that voice, your own voice is by far the most important voice in your life because it’s always with you. It’s with you 24/7, and it really guides you in the directions that you go in.

Stefan Aarnio: I think that voice is everything. One thing that I have personally found is I don’t do a whole lot of trash talk to myself, but I’ve noticed when I … I have this video game I play. It’s five on five. Five guys versus five guys. We’re playing, and it’s like basketball. It goes back and forth down the court, back and forth, five guys versus five guys. We’re losing, losing, losing, losing, losing. The team is trash talking itself.

Stefan Aarnio: Trash talk. Trash talk. Trash talk. The more trash talk, we lose more and more. An interesting happens, John. When we get to the point of no return where we think it’s over, the trash talk stops, and then in that moment we start winning, and then we win the game because the guys just stop trash talking. They took all that energy, the trash talk, stop the trash talk, and then we just win simply because we turned off the toxic waste trash talk. I love what you said there. Now John, we’ve got to wrap up in a couple minutes. Top three books that have changed your life.

John Haime: Yeah. That’s a good one. I mean, there’s been so many. I’m a lifelong learner, so I read like crazy. I read everything I can get my hands on. When I was a kid, probably, the book that changed my life or the book that always came back on me was Lord of the Flies. Do you know what book?

Stefan Aarnio: Oh, I’m giving that a gong. That’s some human nature stuff right there.

John Haime: That’s human behavior. It’s human nature, and that’s when I started, I think, when I was a kid to really be interested in human behavior, human nature, rules, when things get crazy. That book really impacted me. It always comes back and I always think about it. The other book I think that made a massive impact on me, just because it was so real, was Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning. Do you know that book?

Stefan Aarnio: I’m giving two gongs on the books. Damn. These are good books, man. This isn’t the normal Think and Grow Rich stuff.

John Haime: No, no. Viktor Frankl’s book is very, very moving book, and for anybody out there who really needs something, read that book. You know what? I just read a book. I was on the plane. The last couple of weeks I’ve been traveling a lot lately, and I read a book that I thought was really good. It surprised me, actually. It’s called Atomic Habits. Do you know that book?

Stefan Aarnio: I don’t know.

John Haime: By, jeez. I wrote it down. I wrote it down here. Let’s see. It’s by a guy by the name of James Clear. It’s an excellent book on understanding changing habits, and there’s a lot of great research in there. He’s not your traditional book writer, but he’s done a fantastic job in clarity, and helping people understand habits, and why they’re important. So, I thought that was good, but my goodness. I’ve read so many books in the last couple of years, and there’s so many good ones. You just have to find the ones that apply to where you want to go and what you want to learn, but those two I mentioned, I think, really impacted me in some way, especially the Viktor Frankl book was huge.

Stefan Aarnio: Yeah. I love Viktor Frankl in Man’s Search for Meaning. He says, “The optimist died first, and the people who made it were the people who had something to life for.” They wanted to see their baby. They wanted to see their wife. They [crosstalk 00:44:34]-

John Haime: The purpose. The purpose.

Stefan Aarnio: … publish the book. Yeah. The purpose. Oh, that’s huge. Last question today, John. I really appreciate having you on the show. I think this has been a great show.

John Haime: Love it. Love it.

Stefan Aarnio: For the young people, the young Millennials, Generation Z, the people who are younger than Millennials. What do young people need to succeed these days?

John Haime: Grit.

Stefan Aarnio: Oh. I think this is the most gongs we’ve ever had in a show. Luke?

Luke: [inaudible 00:45:00].

Stefan Aarnio: This is the maximum gongs. John Haime. Grit. Tell us about grit, then we got to wrap it up.

John Haime: Well, how many people do you talk to today, and trust me, I would never say anything about the Millennials. A lot of it has been wrapped up in the parenting of the Millennials, but if you talk to a lot of people today who have Millennials working for them, they’re frustrated because of this grit and this resilience. When they were kids, they really haven’t had the opportunity to fail. Everything is about failing.

John Haime: I mean, I failed a million times in my life, and it’s made me what I am, and it’s really created who I am, and how I got to where I am today because I was able to kick myself in the butt, get up, put the mistakes or whatever behind me and move forward, always thinking about moving forward. But I think it’s been difficult for this generation, the Millennials, to do that because the parents have made it really easy for them, and they haven’t allowed them to fail.

John Haime: It’s super critical to allow kids to fail early, and let them figure out how to do it, and how to get themselves back on their feet. The resilience is huge, right? It’s the bounce-back factor. If you get knocked down, how do you get back up? In my business, it’s not about getting back up. It’s about how fast you get back up. You’ve got to get back up right away because if you’re … I’m working with and dealing with the best in the world every day.

John Haime: So, it’s how fast they get back up, and then of course the grit factor is the perseverance. How much pain are you willing to tolerate to get to where you want to go? I think the resilience and the grit, with today’s generation. I’m not saying this applies to everybody, but I say generally, the parenting of the baby boomers, et cetera, the baby boomer parenting, we probably made it a little too easy on the kids.

John Haime: It’s not doing them a favor because you have to fail in order to learn, and move forward, and improve yourself. So, I think that resilience and grit. I could go on on this subject for two hours, but I think the resilience and the grit. Having a purpose, too, obviously is critical. Understanding why you’re doing something, and going back to what I said earlier, understanding what you’re good at.

John Haime: Having a predisposition towards being good at something is really important. Don’t angle yourself into something that you’re weak at. Angle yourself towards something that you’re really, really good at. Then you have a shot to develop the other pieces. If you look at IQ, for example, if you’re smart, great, but then you have to develop the other pieces around that, the EQ, and the emotional intelligence, and those pieces. I think that’s the starting point for us around that question, but I could go on on that one for a month.

Stefan Aarnio: I love what you said there, John. It’s like the book Good to Great, the Hedgehog Concept. They talk about what can you be the best in the world at?

John Haime: Right.

Stefan Aarnio: Poor people think they’re good at 20 things. Rich people know they’re only good at one or two.

John Haime: Right, and I think that, like we talked about, right? Everybody can be great. Everybody can be great. You just have to find … Everybody who is listening in your audience today. Every person in the audience can be great. You just have to figure out what that one thing is that you can be really great at, and again, that’s self-awareness, and that’s all these great pieces that you need to have to get to where you want to go. I honestly believe that everybody can be great. You just have to understand what it is that you can be great at.

Stefan Aarnio: That’s a tremendous message, John. Thank you for finishing with that. Now, how can people get in touch with John Haime if they want to know more, if they want to pick up one of your books?

John Haime: Yeah. People can check out my website. It’s just You can see what I do. One thing about me, Stefan, is I sort of work in the shadows. It’s hard for me to tell people who I work with. That’s my business. A lot of the discussions I have with people, a lot of things that I work with people on are confidential.

Stefan Aarnio: Right.

John Haime: You can check that out. We have, for young athletes, we put this thing online, which is cool. It’s People can go online and get the fundamentals of mental and emotional high performance, and that’s a really good starting point for young athletes. We just did that, and it’s been quite popular lately, but yeah. Just reach me through my website. If people want to reach out, send me an email, ask a question. I think we’re going to do something. I don’t know if you want me to say that, but we’re going to do something with a book, right? You and I are going to do something together.

Stefan Aarnio: We’re going to collaborate. We’re going to do like a double deal or something. We’re going to figure out something cool.

John Haime: Yeah. I think that would be cool because we’ll have pieces. You can take the real estate piece and wrap the high performance around it. I know you’re working in high performance right now, and you’re coaching, but we’ll have a really nice dynamic duo there, I think, with the two books.

Stefan Aarnio: Yeah. I’m very pleased to work with you, John. Thank you so much. Respect The Grind, and I hope to work with you again.

John Haime: Awesome being here. Thanks so much. Yeah, definitely, folks. Respect The Grind. I love the name of the podcast. It really makes a lot of sense.

Stefan Aarnio: Thanks, John. Hey, it’s Stefan Aarnio here. Thank you for listening to another episode of my podcast, Respect The Grind. Now, if you liked the content on this podcast today, you are going to love my new book Hard Times Create Strong Men. We live in an age right now where the men have become weak. Society has become weak. The mindset has become weak. What does it mean to be a man?

Stefan Aarnio: Now, whether you’re a man or a woman, you’re going to find value in this book, Hard Times Create Strong Men, which reveal the philosophy and the power of what it takes to be strong in today’s market economy. Go ahead and get a copy of Hard Times Create Strong Men at That’s going to give you a special offer just for podcast listeners. That’s Get the book. You’re going to love it. It’s going to change the way you think. I’m Stefan Aarnio. Respect The Grind. We’ll see you on the next episode.