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Jon Taffer

The No Excuse Guide to Success

“When you think to yourself ‘I can’t do this,’ that’s when you should.”

I know how easy it is to make excuses.

You want to be better, but you also want to stay in your comfort zone, so you tell yourself a story explaining why it’s okay to stay where you are.

How to reverse this habit is to start recognizing these stories as the root of all failure.

When you do this, you start to notice how your excuses are holding you back. After this becomes a habit, you won’t be able to ignore it, pushing you to a more honest and productive life.

To help you create this habit in your life, I’m excited for you to hear from the king of no-excuses: Jon Taffer.

“I have discovered there’s a common denominator of failure: excuses.”  

Jon Taffer is an international celebrity, entrepreneur, and hospitality industry guru most well known for his role in the popular TV show Bar Rescue. As the creator, producer, and star of the show, Jon helps businesses reach their full potential by assessing all aspects of their operation.

Jon’s approach to business is something we can all learn from. Growing up in a broken family, Jon used this struggle as the burning fire to launch his passion projects into a career. His latest book Don’t Bullsh*t Yourself!: Crush the Excuses That Are Holding You Back shows the level of honesty you must have with yourself to get to the next level.

If you’re looking to turn your excuses into solutions or just flat-out stop fooling yourself, tune into Episode 613 to remove excuses from your daily life.

“If I can make people own their failure, they can then own their success.”  

Some Questions I Ask:

  • What did drumming teach you about business? (7:17)
  • What is the biggest challenge people face starting a business? (12:18)
  • Did you always have this mindset or did you have excuses and fears in your 20s? (19:27)
  • What’s the greatest lesson your mom taught you? (20:20)
  • What do you look for when you hire? (22:35)
  • How do you manage all the different personalities in different industries? (29:25)
  • What was the biggest lesson your father or his absence taught you? (31:20)
  • What’s the thing that holds you back from that next level? (35:00)
  • What’s the vision moving forward? (44:01)
  • What are your three truths? (50:20)

In this episode, you will learn:

  • How Jon Taffer sees business as reaction management (8:47)
  • What Jon Taffer believes are the difficulties of the restaurant business (11:02)
  • What Jon Taffer sees as the root of our excuses (16:55)
  • The challenging story of Jon Taffer’s early childhood years (19:30)
  • Jon Taffer’s views on teaching vs. training (24:00)
  • The story of Jon Taffer going from musician to businessman (32:30)
  • How Jon Taffer balances his professional and personal life (39:02)
  • The biggest lessons Jon Taffer has learned working in television (44:50)
  • How Jon Taffer learned communication through childhood abuse (52:05)
  • Plus much, much more

Connect with
Jon Taffer

Transcript of this Episode

Interview With Jon Taffer

TSOG – Ep613 – The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes

Lewis Howes:                      This is episode number 613 with Jon Taffer.

Welcome to The School of Greatness. My name is Lewis Howes, former pro-athlete turned lifestyle entrepreneur and each week we bring you an inspiring person or message to help you discover how to unlock your inner greatness. Thanks for spending some time with me today. Now, let the class begin.

John Wooden said it best: “Never make excuses. Your friends don’t need them, and your foes won’t believe them.”

Excuses, my friends, excuses hold so many of us back. We make these excuses of why we aren’t achieving what we want, why we’re stuck in that relationship we don’t want to be in, why we’re not healthy in the way we want to be healthy, why we haven’t started on our dream. Whatever it may be, we’ve got some excuse that holds us back.

But these are all BS reasons for why you don’t want to move forward. And I’m very excited about this interview, because it’s going to help you unlock why these excuses hold you back, and the keys to being successful. We’ve got John Taffer in the house. He’s an international celebrity entrepreneur, highly sought after hospitality industry guru, and creator, executive producer and star of Paramount Network’s number one show, Bar Rescue.

Now, most people know him as a larger-than-life television personality who takes a no holds barred approach to helping businesses reach their full potential. And in his newest book, Don’t Bullsh*t Yourself, he teaches you how to stop fooling yourself and turn those excuses into solutions to improve your life and business. He has got some powerful nuggets throughout this entire interview, so make sure to take a screenshot of this right now, and the link is, and share it with your friends, tag me on Instagram as well, and let me know you’re listening so that we can connect there.

Some of the things we talk about are why it’s so important to manage the reactions of the people around you and how really everything is about managing reactions around you, and he’ll talk about that. We talk about what the common denominator is of failure, and why most people fail. Also, why the pace of gratification is a problem today.

We talk about what John looks for when he’s hiring people in his business, and he breaks down the keys to finding the key players in any business and how he approaches this. This was a powerful part. And he also covers the positive side of manipulation in business. And it’s not what you think.

Very excited about this episode! I think you’re going to be pleasantly surprised at all the things you hear, and again, shoot me a tweet, @LewisHowes, or tag me on Instagram, @LewisHowes and let me know what you think, so we can connect over there.

Now I want to give a shout out to the Fan of the Week, before we dive in. This is from Laura Bernadette, who said, “I happened to stumble upon The School of Greatness, by happy accident a few months ago and haven’t stopped listening regularly since. Thank you, Lewis, for bringing inspiring and insightful conversations with each episode and being a constant example of living your purpose. I am grateful and sending a virtual hug.”

So, Laura Bernadette, thank you so much for leaving a review. You help us spread the message far and wide. You are the fan of the week. And if you haven’t left a review yet, head over to the podcast app right now on iTunes and just leave us a quick review.

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Alright, guys, it’s time to overcome any excuse in your life that is holding you back and step forward into your dreams to be successful in whatever you want to do, with the one, the only Jon Taffer.

Welcome back, everyone, to The School of Greatness Podcast. We’ve got the legendary Jon Taffer in the house. Good to see you, sir!

Jon Taffer:                               Good to see you, Lewis.

Lewis Howes:                       I’m excited about this!

Jon Taffer:                               Me too! I’ve been looking forward to talking to you, because I know that there’s going to be some depth to what we talk about. And you’re so inspirational, to jump on your inspiration wagon is a lot of fun for me. I’m very excited to be here.

Lewis Howes:                       There you go! I love it! And you used to work right down here at the Troubadour, is that right?

Jon Taffer:                               I did. Two blocks away, that’s right. Matter of fact, that was my first management job, at the Troubadour. I was a doorman there, when I first started. And one day the owner of it threw the keyring at me. I was a musician, I came here as a drummer, moved to Los Angeles, he threw the keys at me and said, “Aargh, you run it!” and that’s how I got into this business. But the memories that I have two blocks away, I mean, I earned my chops there, it was the first time I ever said “no” to an employer, first time I ever had to manage anything, you know, or was responsible for anything.

Lewis Howes:                       How old were you?

Jon Taffer:                               I was about twenty.

Lewis Howes:                       Twenty, as a drummer, coming out to live the dream, and working there at nights just to make money?

Jon Taffer:                               I worked there and I played there. I did both, yeah.

Lewis Howes:                       You did both! Wow! What did drumming teach you about business?

Jon Taffer:                               You know, it’s interesting, that’s a really powerful question. I’m in the restaurant, bar and nightclub and nightlife business, and many years ago, when I was a musician, I learned how you could take five songs, put them in a different order, and create a completely different experience. You could take a song on an old style turntable, increase the speed by 4% and I could get you to chew faster, walk faster, drink faster. So, I learned the science of manipulating music at a very young age.

When I was in my twenties, I got the only patent ever issued by the Federal Government for the achieving of a desired ambience through music. I’m a nutcase about it. So I put about 80,000 songs into a database and created curbs and energy levels and beats per minute ranges, and then when I did restaurants, years later, I could increase table turn, by increasing beats per minute.

So, I’m very into the science of music and I think a lot of my success in restaurants has been environmental, and I’m very sensitive to environments and pace and energy and what you feel with your gut when you’re there. And a lot of that comes from my days at the Troubadour. When you’d see the difference from one band to another, and the power of music is emotional.

So, when I, today, now many years later, I don’t play music, I play reactions. I achieve it through music. I don’t serve food, I achieve reactions, I achieve the reactions through food. And all that lesson came out of the Troubadour.

Lewis Howes:                       Wow! What do you mean by, “reactions”?

Jon Taffer:                               So, I believe, and I trademarked the term, reaction management. And reaction management is the premise that if you can manage the reactions of the people around you, you can better manage your life. So, if I can manage the reactions of my boss, I’m more likely to get a promotion. If I can manage the reactions of my customers, I’m more likely to get a second visit. If I can manage the reactions of our audience, then you’ll have a bigger audience.

So, we’re not in a podcast business, we’re in a reaction business. We achieve it through podcasts and we’re not in a music business, we’re in a reaction business, and he or she who creates the greatest reactions in life, wins.

Lewis Howes:                       That’s it. It’s all about the experience, you know?

Jon Taffer:                               It is.

Lewis Howes:                       I have this even in Columbus called, The Summit of Greatness, and when I put it on the first time a couple of years ago, I said I’ve got to create an experience, not an event, that makes people talk about it all year, that brings their friends along so that it sells itself.

Jon Taffer:                               Yeah. So, the business wasn’t the event, the business was the reaction. The event is the vehicle. But a lot of people don’t get that. A lot of people think they’re in the restaurant business, not the reactions business, or the entertainment business, not the reaction business. We got to take it that step further. It’s how it’s received more than how it’s done.

Lewis Howes:                       Right, right, right. You wrote this book, just came out, called, Don’t Bullsh*t Yourself: Crush the Excuses that are Holding You Back. But you’ve been working in bar and restaurant management for many years, right?

Jon Taffer:                               I have, but more than that, I’ve taken companies public, I’ve taken them private. I ran one of the largest trade shows in the world in Las Vegas. I founded it and ran it for many years. Obviously I have a media company, I’m in the publishing business, I have an on-site video training program, where I train people, so I’m in a lot of businesses, but every one of them is very much people based. You know, inspiring, growth oriented. I love to impact people, you know, that’s what’s really powerful to me.

I guess that’s why I wound up in the nightclub business, because when you do it right people react, they smile, they move, they dance, they eat, they have fun, and you see that. It comes back at you. So, you’re re-energised. The stronger their reaction, the stronger you want to make them react. And that’s exciting to me.

Lewis Howes:                       Yeah. What’s the negative side about working in bars and in restaurants?

Jon Taffer:                               I’m working at four or five in the morning, so that sucks. You know, that’s one thing, dealing with alcohol, over-intoxicated guests is difficult, but what’s tough about the nightclub business and the restaurant business too, is that the two largest cost centres are product and labour, which you have to manage. You know, rent is what it is, insurance is what it is, utilities, you can’t change those things. But those two elements, labour and product cost, are about 60% of revenue.

So that’s the challenge. If you don’t manage those effectively, you don’t make money. And people think bars are inherently profitable and, Lewis, they’re not. I mean, the average bar, if you do it right, will make 12-18% of revenue. So, if one cost is over by five points, another cost is over by five points, you know, that gets eaten up pretty quickly. So, people think, “Ah, you open up, it costs 50c to make a drink, you sell it for six bucks, how can you lose money?” Well, first time out, about one out of twelve make it, so a lot of people are losing money!

Lewis Howes:                       Right, yeah. And you’ve helped over a thousand bars, is that right?

Jon Taffer:                               Oh, I have, a thousand bars. But I’ve also been on the advisory board of the NFL. I created Sunday Ticket, which I’m very proud of. I worked on that project. So, I’ve done a bunch of things, and if there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that the more diversified we become, the more exciting life is.

The more different things we do, the more exciting life is, you know, I’m envious of you. You get to talk to different kinds of people all the time. If we talk to the same person every day, it wouldn’t be the same. So, it’s those differences in life, those changes, those shifts in environment that are the most exciting.

Lewis Howes:                       What is the biggest challenge that people face when starting a business? Whether it’s a bar or a restaurant, just a business in general, because you’ve built many businesses. What’s the common theme you see that’s a big challenge?

Jon Taffer:                               If I could change that slightly and not necessarily the biggest challenge, but what I see as the biggest pitfall. I’ve done a hundred and sixty bar rescues right now. A hundred and sixty. I’ve seen failures that are unbelievable.

And, you know, people like yourself, and your listeners, we always learn about the blocks of success, the steps of success, the principles of success, you know, the actions of success, the words of success, after a hundred and sixty bar rescues, Lewis, I know more about failure than anyone. And there’s as much to learn from failure as there is from success.

So, looking at all of these different people, and husbands and wives, and the brothers, and the partners, and the single proprietors, all of them were so different, but there’s one common denominator in their failure. And after a hundred and sixty of them, I truly believe that I found a common denominator of failure.

Lewis Howes:                       What’s that?

Jon Taffer:                               It’s so simple. Excuses. Now, let me share what I mean. Let’s say you were failing at something, I know that’s not very likely, but let’s say you were. If you wake up tomorrow morning and blame the government, the environment, the weather, you know, Joe Blow, if you blame anything or anyone else, you have no reason to change. But if you blame yourself, you’re not going to like it.

So, what happens that morning in the mirror? Do you look in the mirror and do you blame something else, or do you blame yourself? And if you blame yourself that’s not cool, you change. So, when I take a look at it and I say, “Well, if the common denominator of failure is an excuse, then an excuse becomes paralysing.” It’s always a reason not to do what you should, or to do what you shouldn’t, or to make a bad choice.

So, then I take it a step further, and I say to myself, “What’s the definition of an excuse?” So, the definition of an excuse is the rationalisation of a mistake. If you didn’t make a mistake, you’d never mention an excuse. There’s no purpose for the excuse without a mistake. So, if I can get people to stop creating excuses, they have to take action.

Lewis Howes:                       Be accountable and be responsible, yeah.

Jon Taffer:                               Bingo! So, the determination that I made, after this long process, and it all started for me on one day in Youngstown, Ohio, which I’ll tell you about in a moment, was, if I could get people to truly identify and excuse as poison, and if I can teach them to catch those excuses and stop themselves, I’ve taken away the paralysis that freezes them.

And this all started for me about a year and a half ago. I was doing Bar Rescue, and you’ll find this story powerful, I mean, Youngstown, Ohio, your home state. And I’m driving through the community with the mayor, because I’m doing some bar rescues and they’re very excited that we’re there and we’re spending money in the community. We were there for three weeks.

Downtown was empty. Every store was empty. Twenty-one, twenty-two thousand empty residences. And as I’m driving through Main Street, I looked at a couple of storefronts, and something powerful happened to me. Suddenly I realised, that store that’s empty, was owned by a family. That was a dream. That was life savings. That was a business I was planning on passing to my children. This is powerful!

And then I went and I did more homework, and I found out that 600,000 small businesses start in America every year, but 720,000 are closing. And then I found that in the year 2000, 62% of small business was family owned, now it’s 40%. So I said to myself, hold on a minute. We’re losing small business, we’re losing family small business, and to me, business is the pure sense of growth when an individual starts a business and starts to create something, that’s the essence of growth.

Without new products and new ideas and new companies, as a society we get stagnant. So, when I saw that empty store, I truly said to myself, “I want to do something about this.” So, I got to inspire people, I’ve got to teach them how to be successful. I’ve got to convince them that their fears shouldn’t hold them back”. That, you know, using the excuse of scarcity or consequence, or ego, or any of these things, holds us back from our future. So, try and light up those stores.

I then said, “Okay. I want to write something. I want to do something that will inspire people to move forward and not be frozen any more. And that’s how the book actually came to be, and it was really a very noble mission for me. How do I write something that inspires somebody? So then I said, “Okay, if excuses are the centrepoint of failure and self-accountability, so if I can make people own their failure, I can make them own their success.

But without that ownership of failure, I got a real issue, or a real challenge, getting them to own success.” So, then I went further and I analysed all hundred and sixty bar rescues and different kind of personalities and stuff that I was with and I realised that there were really six key excuses, that are in the book, that we focus on.

The first one, and very relatable: fear. You know, I’m scared of failure, or I’m scared to do it in the first place, or I’m scared, I’m scared, I’m worried, I’m fearful. But if we stop and think about it, somebody else has been in the same position as you, if not thousands of people, and they got past the fear. So the fear is really BS, if you really sit and think about it, it’s a BS excuse that paralyses you.

Then I look at the next excuse: knowledge. “Oh, I don’t know enough to do this!” Or, my ego is so great that I know too much to do this, right? It’s beneath me to do this, right? So, now I say, “Okay, I don’t have the knowledge to do it.” Tell that to Steve Jobs. Tell that to Henry Ford. So, knowledge is not an obstacle of growth, growth is knowledge. So if you don’t try it, you never learn it. If I try it, son of a gun, I learn it!

So, then I love the excuse of circumstance. Well, the economy is bad. Well, somebody made money in a bad economy. It rains. You know, years ago I opened up a restaurant in Seattle, Washington, everyone says to me, “Jon, it rains every day here.” So I put these metal poles in the deck where you could put golf umbrellas in. So I could walk around, put the umbrella down, we could talk and it was a really cool thing. So we take the rain from a liability to an asset.

Consequence is a big one. Ego is a big one. You know this. This isn’t your child, it’s a podcast. If it’s great, so be it. If it isn’t, you’re not going to blow your brains out, it’s not your child. Let’s just keep this in perspective. This is a business. If the wall stinks, get rid of it! If the colour is wrong, change it! If the content is wrong, fix it! So, circumstance is a big one.

Then we take a look at the premise of time. I love this one. You know, Lewis, I would have done it, I didn’t have the time, buddy, but I sat on social media for three hours this morning. That I had the time to do. Hour and a half of breakfast, extra cup of coffee, maybe look at the sunset, beautiful view outside. You know, when I wake up in the morning, that’s my time. I do what I want with it.

All of these excuses are complete BS. So if I can get people to understand that I can move them forward, and that’s my passion.

Lewis Howes:                       I love it, man. Did you always have this mindset, or did you have excuses and fears in your twenties when you got into this?

Jon Taffer:                               Yeah, you know, I was not the best student in school. I struggled through that, and matured well. But I struggled when I was young, my dad died when I was two, so I had some family issues when I was younger, growing up, and I could have used those as excuses but for some reason I used them as inspiration and I grew up with a very tough mom, a little violent.

Lewis Howes:                       Yeah. I heard you didn’t talk to her for years. Is that right?

Jon Taffer:                               Yeah, I had an issue. We didn’t talk for five years, and then I regret that. But the important thing is that her violence or her aggressiveness could have weakened me, but I chose to let it strengthen me. You know, and then there’s the difference of a mistake versus a choice.

You know, you trip and fall, that’s a mistake. You write the wrong word on a piece of paper, that’s a choice. There’s a difference. How do we relearn our choices, minimise our mistakes and stop being paralysed? And I think that my book, hopefully, moves a bunch of people into that direction.

Lewis Howes:                       That’s cool, that’s cool. What is the greatest lesson your mom taught you, growing up?

Jon Taffer:                               You know, the greatest lesson my mother taught me is really a cold lesson. She taught me that people are unpredictable. Dollars are predictable. She taught me that there’s no charity without money. She taught me that there’s no ego without money. She taught me that you can never achieve purpose without money.

So the fact of the matter is, I understood that if I want to do something that’s good for people, I need the resources to do it. If I want to do something that’s good for myself, I need the resources to do it. She made me a capitalist.

She made me understand that, and then, when I do bar rescues, I always find it fascinating when you meet the guy who’s got the biggest ego in the world and you ask him, “Show me your wallet?” it’s the thinnest wallet you ever saw in your life. I mean, there’s no money in it, there’s no credit cards in it, but his ego is huge! And I don’t understand how somebody has a large ego with a small wallet. That doesn’t make sense to me.

Lewis Howes:                       We call those $30,000 millionaires on Instagram. All these young kids that are in front of Lamborghinis and big mansions, but they have no money.

Jon Taffer:                               They have no money, yeah, but they have ego, which is the interesting revelation about today’s generation. You know, I was talking earlier today about what I think is the big difference between Millennials and older generations, is what I call, pace of gratification. And I think you’ll find this interesting. You know, today young people post something on social media, they get a like right away, comment right away. I post it, “Oh, man! You look great! Oh, man! Great shirt! Great this!” Ugliest girl in the world posts her picture, “You look beautiful today!”

So, today Millennials get this instant gratification. But yet guys like you and I know how to work hard for a gratification. It took us years. They’re not used to that. They’re used to short term gratification. The last generations are used to longer periods of gratification. So what I see happens with younger people today, is if you don’t give them that gratification along the way, they lose their steam.

Because they really need that pat on the back, that like, that comment. So it’s a change in the way we manage, and the way we hire and go at people. It’s a powerful dynamic that is not the best for business, candidly. Because the fact of the matter is, great success comes after a longer period of work and gratification doesn’t come every day.

Lewis Howes:                       Right, it could be years. That’s why you’ve got to appreciate the small wins. It might be something, not this thousands of likes, but somebody gave you a nice compliment, or really enjoyed your food, or whatever it is that you’re doing. It’s like the small day to day things that you can build over time.

Jon Taffer:                               Yeah. That’s the way to manage employees today. Is, you know, you have to understand that there’s professional correction, but then there’s personal recognition. So then I want to look and say, “Great job today, buddy! Really, really great work. But, I need you to do something for me.” Or, “Lewis, I’m really proud to have you on board. You know, you’re a great asset to the company, your pride, your performance is terrific. But, I need you to do something for me. I need you to fix something for me.”

So, you know, today we have to be very cautious in the way we manage the person, versus the way we manage the process and there is a great sensitivity today. If you’re not good at managing both, it’s very difficult to be successful.

Lewis Howes:                       Yeah. What do you look for when you’re hiring then, for any type of business you’re in?

Jon Taffer:                               That’s a great question. I love answering these questions. I do a lot of commencement speeches at universities. And when I started doing those, all the professors sat in the front row. And I was at UNLV last week, which was the number one hospitality school in the country, giving a speech. After three or four years they were in the back row. Then they were not in the room, and here’s why. If you look at a college textbook, or any corporate manual in America, they will say the word, training. But what’s the difference between teaching and training? Huge.

Training is behaviour modification. Did you ever meet somebody who never looks in your eyes, they stare at your forehead? You can’t change that. How about the guy who walks around like this? “How are you, Joe?”

“Ah, fair to middling.”

Tomorrow, “How are you, Joe?”

“Hanging in there.”

Next day, “How are you, Joe?”

“Eh, two hours to go.”

I mean 365 days a year, this guy is never great. You can’t change that. What about people who have no sense of humour, no compassion, no sensitivity, don’t care about anything. You can’t change that.

So, when we in business, say that we train people it is complete bulls**t. All we do is teach people to work in our business. Training is behaviour modification. That’s why we have prisons. Wardens say, “Don’t do that.” And send you back out in the street again. So, training as a behaviour modification process takes years. No business trains anyone.

So, the mistake that businesses make is that they hire on a resume, and that’s a mistake. Unless you’re an attorney that is in essence so detailed or education based, you give me somebody who has a lousy resume and the greatest personality for a particular job description, three weeks, and I’ll show you a superstar.

Lewis Howes:                       Wow! You just teach them certain things.

Jon Taffer:                               Of course, because their traits are right, their personality is right, their attitude is right, their connectivity is right. I can teach them.

Lewis Howes:                       That passion, that care.

Jon Taffer:                               Yes! I can teach them what they need to know, but I can’t train them anything.

Lewis Howes:                       So, would you rather have someone with the personality, and the characteristics, and the attitude, who knows nothing about a certain skill, over the person who knows everything about the skill, mastered it, but hasn’t mastered the behaviour that you want?

Jon Taffer:                               Oh, you got it.

Lewis Howes:                       What would you rather have?

Jon Taffer:                               I got the former every time. I’m going to go for personality every time. Personalities drive business. Process is easy. Especially today with computerisation and automation and so on. So, what are the personalities that will connect me with my business? And I do a lot of educational programs, and I’ll be in the room with a thousand people.

And I did one for a big chain restaurant just a couple of weeks ago, and I looked around the room. Actually, it was a national restaurant association. The largest trade association in America. Just last week I gave a speech for them in New England, and I said, “How many of you,” and there’s four, five hundred people in the room, “How many of you have employees working for you that you shouldn’t have working for you?” And almost every hand in the room went up.

So, I just don’t understand it. If I think my employee’s not going to succeed, and if you’re really important to me as a customer, how dare I put somebody in front of you that I don’t believe in? I mean, how dare I do such a thing? So then I say, “Okay, so you have employees that you don’t like working for you, they don’t have the right traits to be successful, so I don’t understand this. If it was the Superbowl, would you field the worst team or the best?”

Lewis Howes:                       The best.

Jon Taffer:                               The best, of course! So, how do you walk out on the field knowing that your team isn’t the strongest. And that then raises the next issue of hiring, which is standards. And my whole life, as a business communicator. And I’ve been one who’s done educational programs and leadership programs my whole life all around the world, you know, you take a look at the premise of leadership and then standards.

So, what is a standard? So, a standard is a measurement of performance that is qualifiable, “this is what I want you to do,” quantifiable, “this is when you’re going to do it,” and verifiable, “I’m going to make sure you do.” And if it doesn’t have all three, it’s not a standard.

So what happens is, we hire people with the wrong personality traits, then we don’t protect the standards, and it unravels. We must have the right personality traits, and then the number one role of any manager, any owner, no different than what you’re doing, is you must protect standards. Fight for them, do everything we can to enhance those standards.

If McDonalds puts too much ketchup on those burgers, everything changes. If there’s too much onion in one and not enough onion in the other, everything changes. We are in a world of standards. And standards of performance are critical. If I have the right personalities and I protect my standards, I’m not going to lose.

Lewis Howes:                       Yeah. How many businesses do you run, right now, or that you’re a part of?

Jon Taffer:                               Well, I have five television shows at various stages of development, or on the air. I have, right now, I have another company off television, which is my B2B company, Taffer Dynamics. Taffer Dynamics has been in business for over thirty years.

Our clients are people like Anheuser-Busch, we’re building a huge resort in Pigeon Forge now, an entire mountain with attractions and hotel rooms and hospitality business. Anheuser-Busch is a huge client for us, as I mentioned, huge banks are clients for us for credit card processing, and increasing sales potential.

Right now I’m reinventing the customer experience for the largest hardware store in the world, or, chain in the world, 22 hundred units. So, we are very focussed on customer experience modification, and we cross many business models. So we go through banking, we go through hardware, we go through hospitality, television, media.

Lewis Howes:                       And bars and restaurants, you own any of those?

Jon Taffer:                               No, I’ve sold them all. I had seventeen, sold them all.

Lewis Howes:                       You don’t own a piece of the ones you’re working on now?

Jon Taffer:                               No, no, no, we don’t do that. We keep a couple of them, but they’re autonomous. So, as a bar rescue host, it’s their business. I’ll make suggestions, but it’s their business, so they have to choose.

Lewis Howes:                       And to own it.

Jon Taffer:                               Yeah, of course. But you know, I guess all in all, I’m running about twelve to fourteen businesses.

Lewis Howes:                       How do you manage all the different personalities and all the different industries and businesses that you have?

Jon Taffer:                               It’s difficult.

Lewis Howes:                       While you’re twelve hours on air and preparing for the show and speaking and doing all those things?

Jon Taffer:                               You know, I’m going to be cold for a moment. To me, the definition of management is the achieving of objectives through the manipulation of others. That, to me, is the definition of management. I’m very good at manipulating others, to facilitate my end.

Lewis Howes:                       In a positive way.

Jon Taffer:                               Absolutely. If I give you a raise, that’s great! You know, a pat on the back, that’s great! So, I don’t mean that in a negative sense. Manipulation can be very positive, and you’ll thank me for it if I do it well. That’s a very powerful element and you kind of surround yourself with winners. I mean, there’s no question about it.

My grandfather once said, my grandfather invented direct mail, he was a very wealthy man when he died, and he once said to me, he goes, “You know, the only guarantee of success in life, is you really got to be the smartest guy in the room.” And there’s another side to that. If I’m the smartest guy in the room, I can’t learn much. So, I want to be the smartest guy in the room about what’s really important to me, and then have the people around me that are smarter than me in the other things.

But that’s a really powerful element. The other thing that he taught me that stuck with me my whole life, is that you don’t have to have a big checkbook, if you have a big idea book, but you need one or the other. So, if you need that big idea, you need that big check to get that big idea. But, those are powerful elements, for me, and I think that when one is inspirational, when one leaves a positive influence on the people around them, they rally.

I mean, when my new book came out, as we speak, next week the network’s running three spots for me. I got free commercials running for me. I just did the Dr Phil shows, a dear friend of mine, promoting my book. And you know this, because when your book came out, your friends supported you too. When we support them, they support us, and there’s an integrity to life that causes people to want to come through for you. And I think that’s the best way to manage people, candidly, is by example.

Lewis Howes:                       What would you say is the best lesson your father taught you, even though he was gone when you were two, what did you learn about his absence, or the lesson that he left behind in some other way?

Jon Taffer:                               Mickey Mantle, the baseball player, said a quote once that was really powerful to me. His father died of Hodgkin’s, his uncle died of Hodgkin’s, his brother died of Hodgkin’s. And he always said, “Had I known I was going to live so long, I would have taken better care of myself.”

And it’s a very powerful line, because he thought his life was so limited that he didn’t have to worry about the later years of his life. You know, when your father passes away at two years old, then it throws your family into disarray. And then my grandfather died, who I was living with when I was seven, and then, you know, you deal with this death as a child, you start to think to yourself, “There’s a clock ticking. Tomorrow is important. I don’t want to waste it.” So, what it did is, it had a profound impact upon my desire to hurry up and to realise that life does have a limit.

Lewis Howes:                       An urgency.

Jon Taffer:                               Yes. And finding what makes us feel good in life, is something that should have urgency. Happiness should have urgency. Success should have urgency, because the quicker we get there, the happier we are. That urgency helped me a great deal. And I think it’s a positive message for people.

Lewis Howes:                       Did you always think you’d be a business person, or did you think you’d be this rock star drummer?

Jon Taffer:                               So, I took nine years of drum lessons when I was a kid. When I was a jazz drummer, I was really good. And took it very, very seriously. I still have a drum set in my office, as we speak. My Marshall Mini Stack, my guitars, so music is a large part of me. Today I play more steering wheels than I do anything else, but music was a large part of my identity growing up, because I wasn’t a great student, but I was a great musician. So, I could be with bands.

Lewis Howes:                       You were hands on.

Jon Taffer:                               Absolutely. And it was something that was very, very meaningful to me. And when I left music, what happened to me was, in the middle of my senior year in high school, I got an offer to play in a band. Professional. And I actually sat down with my parents, and, shocking to me, affluent East Coast parents, I say, “Listen, I want to drop out of high school,” in the middle of my senior year, “and go on tour with this band.” And it wasn’t the most pleasant conversation that I’ve ever had with my mother, but they actually agreed to it. And I left, and I went on tour with the band.

Lewis Howes:                       This is back in what year?

Jon Taffer:                               This was back in 1972, and I made a whole bunch of money. It was a band whose drummer had gone into a drug rehab program, so I found myself in that. So, now, I’m seventeen years old, I’m touring with a band. I’m a rock star! And I realised, it didn’t feel as good as I thought it would. I wasn’t necessarily into the whole rock star thing. I found a hollowness in it, to be honest with you.

And it was doing that, that showed me how much I liked the business end, more than the music end. So then I evolved into managing bands and trying to do that, and then Doug Weston one day threw the keyring at me and that was that. But I have a love of music, but I get a greater sense of accomplishment out of business.

Lewis Howes:                       That’s interesting. Why jazz drums?

Jon Taffer:                               Because it’s the toughest to play. You know, if you’re going to do it, the toughest route is always the best.

Lewis Howes:                       That’s it. That’s why my brother is the number one jazz violinist in the world. He played with Les Paul for ten years, and he’s travelled all over the world. I grew up watching jazz through him, and that’s why I have an appreciation for it. I can’t play it, but I have appreciation for it.

Jon Taffer:                               One thing about jazz, you got to have your chops. So you can’t fake it in jazz, so that’s why it was really important to me. And I mean, a jazz drummer can play anything else. So if you’re going to play jazz, you can play anything.

Lewis Howes:                       You play basic rock beats or whatever, yeah.

Jon Taffer:                               Sure. Every jazz drummer can do with one hand what a rock drummer can do with two.

Lewis Howes:                       Exactly. What do you think is the biggest challenge or struggle that you’re facing today? You’ve had so much success and you’ve learned so many things and what’s the thing that holds you back from the next level?

Jon Taffer:                               You know, that’s a great question. Of all the people I’ve talked to, nobody’s asked me that question before. Everybody talks about where you were and nobody talks about where you’re going.

I wake up every day and I think to myself, “I’ve got these twelve balls on my desk, and each one is a project or something that’s important to me.” And I have to move those balls every day. If I don’t move every ball, I can’t sleep at night, I’m a nutcase.

So, I don’t live my life by completing things, necessarily, because things take time to complete. I have to move every ball every day, or I freak out. It’s something that if I don’t make progress every day, I can’t live with myself. So, I truly move every ball, every day. So if I was to find what I did for a living more than anything, I’m a push man. I push people to do things faster, I push them to do things better, and I push myself harder than anyone.

Lewis Howes:                       Wow. Do you feel like you push too much? And that’s something you want to ease off on?

Jon Taffer:                               I think if I asked my assistant who’s sitting on the other side of the room, she would say I push too much. I take on a lot, but I have a high view of myself, candidly. You know, I believe I can handle it. And self confidence is very, very important. If you don’t believe you can handle it, go and handle it and then you’ll believe you can handle it next time.

Lewis Howes:                       Yeah. When is it too many balls?

Jon Taffer:                               When you can’t move them any more. The minute I can’t move all of them, I have too many. So then you have to remove some from your desk and put them aside, or you have to start to prioritise, but if you can’t move every ball every day, then you got too many balls. And that’s just the way I look at it in the simplistic sense.

And some balls are more important than others. Some are bigger than others, in theory, you move those first, I mean, of course we have priorities, but if you’re going to start eleven things, then you move eleven things every day. Or only start ten, only start nine. And that’s really important. Because without that progress there’s no growth, without the growth, there’s no result.

Lewis Howes:                       Right. There’s another book called, The One Thing. I don’t know if you’ve heard about this. It’s called, The One Thing, and it’s all about focussing on the one thing you’re really good at and being really great at that one thing. In theory that sounds incredible to me. Take all these other distractions away and just focus on this one thing.

But as a guy that, I would just get too bored doing one thing every day, but it’s like, how can you manage building up a team and the resources so that they all move forward in a powerful way, they’re not average? So I think once it starts to be average, or less than the best it could be, then I’m not going to feel good either, yeah. Putting out something that’s not the top of the line.

Jon Taffer:                               I agree. Well, that’s a personal pride. The people who exercise, and practice every day without pride. I feel bad for those people. Because what’s our purpose? At the end of the day, if we don’t feel good about what we’ve accomplished, what’s the whole purpose? So, you know, when I take a look at what you’ve accomplished, you have a broad group of businesses and activities that you’re involved in, so do I. But you know what’s interesting? I think I’m only in one business. People. People and communications. And so are you.

Lewis Howes:                       Persuasion, influence.

Jon Taffer:                               Absolutely. Now, I’m influencing a lot of different businesses and a lot of different things, but it really is one business: Inspire, Influence and Communicate.

Lewis Howes:                       Wow. What’s the one thing you can get better at, do you think? To improve your level of doing that even better?

Jon Taffer:                               That’s a great question. You know, I think there’s a number of things that I could be better at, I think that I could be better personally. What I mean by that is that I am professionally incredibly disciplined. I mean, I work, I am working day and night. My professional discipline sort of makes me personally undisciplined in a way.

Lewis Howes:                       Because then you sort of relax and let loose personally.

Jon Taffer:                               Yes. When I’m down I don’t hit they gym as often as I could, my diet isn’t as strong as I could. I mean, if there’s an area where I could improve, it’s I’m so focussed on my professional life, that I leave my personal life behind sometimes.

Lewis Howes:                       Why do you think you do that?

Jon Taffer:                               I guess I get more gratification out of the business work that I do, than personal work. I’m guessing. But that’s a great question, and you’re going to leave me something to think about tonight.

Lewis Howes:                       How do you think your professional work would improve, if you took the same pride in your personal life, as in the professional? Or would it not improve?

Jon Taffer:                               I think it would have to improve.

Lewis Howes:                       Why?

Jon Taffer:                               Well, from stamina, conceivably, I mean maybe I could get an extra hour a day out of it, who knows? Energy is always great when it’s higher. You know, when I shoot fifty episodes a year, I burn out on energy, it gets really difficult. So, obviously, more energy would be helpful, so there’s every logic to do it. But it’s interesting…

Lewis Howes:                       What holds you back?

Jon Taffer:                               As one who is such an example in business, I’m not always the best personal example, and it shows that there’s facets of our lives that we’re really good at, and some that we can all improve in.

Lewis Howes:                       Is there something you want to improve in?

Jon Taffer:                               You sort of got me going! I got a feeling I might get a phone call from you in a couple of weeks, “What’s going on, Jon? How’s that personal stuff going?”

Lewis Howes:                       “Let’s go, baby!”

Jon Taffer:                               “I’m with you! No excuses!”

Lewis Howes:                       That’s it! You might have desire, but is your desire following up with your actions?

Jon Taffer:                               That’s right. That’s right. I don’t think it is.

Lewis Howes:                       Well, maybe you don’t want it bad enough, and that’s okay too, I don’t think that you need to, I just think, I want to see…

Jon Taffer:                               Well, in life, we chase what we want, but sometimes we need to chase what we need, too.

Lewis Howes:                       That is true. The more I’m connecting with you, I realise how powerful of an influence and persuasion you can be for good. And I believe that when you own up to whatever it is that you don’t feel you’re doing as good at personally, when you take complete control of that, and ownership and responsibility, you’re going to make ten times the impact you’re making.

Because people are going to say, “Wow! This guy’s the complete example, and complete package.” I’m not saying it’s easy. There’s lots of things I can do personally, too, be better at. But I’m just saying, as someone looking from the outside in, if you’re making that big of an impact already…

Jon Taffer:                               Imagine where we could go.

Lewis Howes:                       Imagine the way to change the world that you could do. Imagine that every time you speak on TV, the influence you have. It doesn’t take longer, it’s instant. That’s what I see is possible. Something to think about.

Jon Taffer:                               Oh, no. Something thought about. It’s something I could think about. But you know, the fact of the matter is that we inspire people in many, many different ways, and I’m still surprised by the whole thing, to tell you the truth, you know. I went into television very late.

Lewis Howes:                       Yeah. How old were you when you started?

Jon Taffer:                               Oh, I’ve only been on television six years. I’ve never been in that business. I never thought I’d be in the television business. If you told me ten years ago I was going to be on television, I would never have believed you.

I gave a speech at a convention in Las Vegas, and after the speech somebody came up to me and said, “You should be on TV.” Well, I wrote up a little sting, which was originally called, On The Rocks, and it was sort of a cross between Kitchen Nightmares and Mission Impossible. So I had a file and I opened up the file and I pulled out my experts, right? Like the old Mission Impossible show, and then I would go out and I would rescue people’s bars and restaurants.

And I put it together and I brought it to a friend of mine, who had been the president of Paramount Television. And I just left another production company. And years earlier I had done some licencing with Paramount, so I knew them.

So I bring them my idea, I sit down in the office and I say, “What do you think?” He looks at me, can I say the F-word? “Jon, you will never f**ng be on television. You’re not good looking enough, you’re too old. It’ll never happen.” I was devastated. So I walked out of his office. And I’m getting to know you pretty good in the time we’re together, if somebody says no to you, what happens?

Lewis Howes:                       I’m like, “I’m going to show you!”

Jon Taffer:                               Exactly right. So I walked out of that office with a vendetta, Lewis.

Lewis Howes:                       Of course, s**w this guy. Yeah.

Jon Taffer:                               I shot my own sample reel, I put the thing together myself, I sent it to five production companies, I got four offers. And I got them in days. One of them called me from France. They were at a television convention in France, he says, “Don’t do anything! We’ll be back in two days, don’t do anything!” So I wait, now I get four offers.

So, I don’t know the entertainment business, I don’t know which offer is better and everything. So I get a manager, I find out that you got to get an agent, but you can’t have an agent till you have a television show, but you can’t have a television show till you have an agent. I’m still trying to figure that one out!

But so, I pitch it, I get these deals, I sign with the production company. They bring it to then Spike, which is a network. They pick it up in four days. So, literally, three weeks after that guy said to me, “You will never f**g be on television,” I got a show. So now, the pilot gets picked up in less than a year, from when that person said I’ll never be on television, the series premiered.

And I did something I never did before. I got one of those caskets with black roses in it. You ever see those? So, it’s a casket shaped flower box with black roses in it and I sent it to my buddy who told me I’d never be on TV, and we’ve been friends, of course, ever since.

But now 160 episodes later, number one show on the network, 77 million people watched the show last season. We’re now on over 4,000 channels, five continents and three languages. It goes to show, when you think to yourself, “I can’t do this,” that’s when you should. And you know, sometimes the fact that you’ve never done it before, means that you’re going to do it different.

Lewis Howes:                       Different perspective coming in, yeah.

Jon Taffer:                               You bet. And you might wind up with the best formula of all, because you’ve never done it before. That’s the way I look at things.

Lewis Howes:                       Wow! What’s the vision looking forward? You’ve done it for six seasons, you’ve got more coming, do you want to continue doing TV, or what’s the vision?

Jon Taffer:                               Well, you know, I’m doing a number of TV shows, I’m very proud to have linked up with Dr Phil. You know, with Dr Phil we can take it to the next level really helping and inspiring people, and so, for me, something interesting happened to me. Last year I cancelled my agreement with that very production company that I signed and I went to a contract directly with the network. So now I’m contracted by the network.

Lewis Howes:                       And you own a production company?

Jon Taffer:                               And the production company now works for me. So I’m in complete control of the show. So, we’ve mixed up format and I’m really playing around with it, I’m really having some fun with it, and honestly, it’s the most inspiring season I’ve ever had. It’s really, we’ve really changed some lives this year. And, again, it’s because I’m going at it in a different way, so it’s fresh for me now, it’s exciting again.

Lewis Howes:                       Yeah. Huh! What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned since starting the TV show, till now?

Jon Taffer:                               You know, I’ve learned that being political is foolish. I’ve learned that, because of Bar Rescue, there’s a phenomenon that happens in Bar Rescue that’s fascinating. I only have four days. Normally this would be a 60-90 day project. So there’s this clock ticking in my head, Lewis, every minute. I don’t have time for you to get on a bus, you got to get on it now. I don’t have time for you to do this on your pace, you have to do it on mine. There is no tomorrow, I must move you where I need you today, or we’re dead in four days.

So, I am under pressure every minute. It causes me to put them under pressure. To be highly confrontational. But imagine this for a moment. I mean, they call me up, they’re 400,000 in debt, they’re living in their parents’ basement, they’ve owned this place for years, they have enough money to make it another two or three weeks. I’m their last chance. So, I take that really seriously. So I go at them.

But here’s what I’ve learned: I’ve learned, and this was shocking to me, I can actually tell them in very ugly terms what I think of them, and get a hug ten minutes later. And I’ve learned that bluntness is not an enemy, being straight with people is not an enemy. If you’re displeased, say it. If you think they’re screwing up, say it. If you think that they’re not going to improve their situation, say it.

For years, I didn’t say things that I should have. For years I was political. This television show has given me an envelope where I do not have to be political.

Lewis Howes:                       That’s probably what makes it work too.

Jon Taffer:                               Yes! And because I’m not political, I’m able to move people at a rate, a pace, and change their actions in a way that I would never be able to do politically. And it’s fascinating, and it’s almost like I want to cause you to doubt yourself. So I show up in their place, at their business, and they’re going show me this and they’re proud of that, and they’re proud of this, and and they’re proud of that, and I look at them and I say, “But you’re in the hole, $400,000!” and then they tell me how great this is and how great that is, and then I look around and I say, “But there’s nobody here!”

So then I realise, okay, I can’t change what they do, I have to change the way they think. If I change the way they think, I can help to change what they do. If I land on what they do, I don’t have a great chance of success. So how do I change the way they think? I have to challenge the way they think. Every decision you make, I am going to challenge. I’m going to lay in on you. That’s the wrong colour wall. Those pictures suck, that should be blue not orange. That should be green, this is completely wrong.

I am going to attack everything until a moment comes of self-doubt. In that moment of self-doubt, you know, “Maybe he’s right? Maybe this…” In that moment, his brain opens up a crack and I walk right in. I have to catch them in doubt, because their egos are typically their worst enemy. In that moment of doubt, if I can walk in and make them reassess their decision making, I got them.

And that’s ugly, because I have minutes to do it. You, politically, would take weeks with me, getting me to that point. It’s ugly. So, I learned, to hell with political approaches. Be direct, be blunt, understand that this is their time, this is their life, they should have the urgency, and through political incorrectness, bluntness, directness, sometimes vulgarity, sometimes touching them, getting them angry, I can change their lives. If I don’t make them angry at their failure, I don’t get anywhere. I got to make them p**d.

Lewis Howes:                       They have to make a drastic change, quickly, otherwise they’re going to stay where they’re at.

Jon Taffer:                               And they’re going to get mad at themselves. They got to get mad at their situation. And they got to funnel that anger into action. Without that anger, they got no energy, they just lost, they’re complacent, Lewis, you know? How do I get them uncomplacent? So I go at them, then finally he goes, “You know! I’ve had enough with you!” And I’ll be, “I’ve been waiting for that anger for two days! Okay! Now you care! Now we can go forward.” But without that anger and that inspiration, they’re screwed.

Lewis Howes:                       Yeah. Wow! I want to ask a couple of final questions. This is fascinating, so thanks for opening up.

Jon Taffer:                               Of course. My pleasure.

Lewis Howes:                       This is called, The Three Truths, this question that I ask everyone at the end. So, imagine it’s many years from now, and it’s your last day. You’re a hundred and whatever you want to be. You choose when you go out of the world.

Jon Taffer:                               So I’m staring at the box right now.

Lewis Howes:                       You’re staring at the box. You choose, you’re like, “I’ve done everything I want to do, I’ve conquered it all. I’ve had a great life. It’s time.” And you’ve done it all. Everything that you’ve created you have to take with you. No one has access to it any more. It has to go with you in the box and wherever it goes, but no one has access to your books, your videos, your content.

Jon Taffer:                               So I’m completely gone.

Lewis Howes:                       Everything must come with you, right?

Jon Taffer:                               That sucks.

Lewis Howes:                       Hypothetical, alright? But, you get to leave them behind one thing, and it’s a piece of paper that you get to write down the three biggest lessons of your life. Your Three Truths, the things you know to be true about all the experiences you’ve had and that’s what you can leave for everyone else to remember you by. What would you say are your Three Truths? A man of many ideas and philosophies and keys, but what would be the top three, for you?

Jon Taffer:                               Be true to yourself. If you don’t be true to yourself, you’re going to get lost. Because you’ll never find yourself. Be true to yourself, be open the the knowledge of others. And live a life of morality. Because there’s not enough of that now. Those are the three messages.

And, you know, I think the morality one is a big one. You know, I worry about where our society is going, I worry about the divisiveness of today, I worry about the lack of caring of today. I worry about the political correctness of today.

Let me share an example. You know, I just finished my 159th Bar Rescue. At the end of a Bar Rescue episode, I travel with a crew of 57 people who work so hard, Lewis. And at the end of these 36 hour remodels, my art department has been up all night long and working. And I have a bunch of women in the art department. Well, for 140 episodes I’ve hugged them after every episode, “Great job! Great job!” Just like we did when I walked in here. I can’t hug them any more.

Lewis Howes:                       Why not? Oh! Because of the…

Jon Taffer:                               Post-Harvey Weinstein. Can’t hug them any more. I can’t have the casual relationship I used to have with them any more. If our society keeps going the way it’s going, there’s going to be glass between all of us. All we’re going to do is look at screens. We’re never going to look at each other any more.

We have to break this stuff down. Political correctness sometimes is our enemy. We have to be true, we have to be open, we have to communicate. There shouldn’t be rules on how we don’t communicate, we should be open to communicating in all ways. Openly, frankly, honestly.

If we don’t communicate in that way, the divisiveness continues. The solution to divisiveness is communication. We get more divisive, we communicate less, we dig in, we posture and we don’t get out. That’s what worries me today.

Lewis Howes:                       When did you learn to communicate to effectively?

Jon Taffer:                               When I was really young, this is a story I don’t love telling, but I’m going to tell it to you, because I think it’s important. When I was young, my mother was abusive, and she was not in the best of moods. And I could look at her face, and know that today was not going to be a good day.

So I had to use humour, I had to use manipulation, to change her mood, to make my day better. So, I learned how to communicate with her at a very young age. Not consciously. I learned how to communicate with her in ways that would change her mind, her mentality, her attitude. I could make her smile. I could do this, I could do that. And I learned that by communicating with her that way, I made it through the day. So, at a very young age, I got good at this out of necessity. And it wasn’t conscious. And it got to the point of…

Lewis Howes:                       Survival.

Jon Taffer:                               It did. It got to the point that I can change direction in the middle of sentence and not even think about it. So, if I was talking to you and as we were talking, you did this, I will change in the middle of the sentence and not even think about it. The minute you do this, I’m going to change in the middle of the sentence and not even think about it.

So, I, through her and my survival instincts, learned how to feel the moment, change it, shift it. I start on a topic, she doesn’t like it, in the middle of the sentence I change that topic. Maybe disguised a little, “But, you know, there’s some grey over there too!” You know, “Looks like it’s going to rain. No, it doesn’t look like it’s going to rain.”

So, I learned in real time, how to manage reactions. You can’t do that if you don’t communicate, and it wasn’t conscious. It was really an instrument of survival for me.

Lewis Howes:                       Right, I was going to say it sounds like you were playing music at a young age, through communicating, through understanding the environment, and shifting the mood, and then you did that with music and then you did it as a manager.

Jon Taffer:                               Yeah. And with humour. And I use humour quite a bit. You know, I find that humour is wonderful. It breaks the spirit, it breaks the mood, and I could use humour with her when I was very young. And the minute that smile happened I was good for a few hours. And then all I had to do was deal with the next smile.

But, you know, it was always just a few hours for me, it was never days. So, I always had to purposely manage my environment around her. And manage her reactions to that environment, every few hours.

Lewis Howes:                       That sounds stressful.

Jon Taffer:                               It was. And that’s how reaction management came about. It was necessity.

Lewis Howes:                       Yeah. That’s powerful. I got one final question for you. But I want to make sure you guys get the book, Don’t Bullsh*t Yourself: Crush the Excuses that are Holding You Back. Powerful book, make sure you go get lots of copies and give it to your friends. Where can they follow you online?

Jon Taffer:                               Jon Taffer, Facebook. @jontaffer, Twitter, Instagram, all under Jon Taffer. J.O.N.T.A.F.F.E.R.

Lewis Howes:                       Where do you like to hang out personally the most? Is there anywhere?

Jon Taffer:                               I’m pretty much a Twitter and Facebook guy. Yeah, I’m on both of those very much, and I connect on there. They can find us both in the same place sometimes.

Lewis Howes:                       So, @jontaffer on Twitter. Make sure you guys reach out and let him know what you thought about this. Let him know the most inspiring part about this and tweet it to him and I’m sure he’ll see it there.

Before I ask the final question I want to acknowledge you for a moment, for your ability to be real. You’re completely, 100% authentically yourself, and I love your wisdom, your knowledge and your ability to use everything you’ve done in your life to make an impact on the people around you. And I can see that with you and it’s been a lot of fun to connect. So, I really acknowledge you for using your gifts at the highest level to make an impact on others.

Jon Taffer:                               Well, coming from you, that means a lot to me, Lewis. Thank you. Thank you buddy.

Lewis Howes:                       Of course, of course.

Jon Taffer:                               You’re an inspiration to me, too.

Lewis Howes:                       Appreciate it. And the last question is: What is your definition of greatness?

Jon Taffer:                               Greatness is exceeding your own expectations. Because greatness is within. You know, other people thinking I’m great feels good, but it doesn’t get me anywhere. Me thinking I’m great is what’s powerful. Greatness comes when you exceed your own expectations.

Lewis Howes:                       Jon Taffer. Thank you, sir. Appreciate it.

Jon Taffer:                               You’re welcome. It’s a pleasure, buddy.

Lewis Howes:                       There you have it, my friends. I hope you enjoyed this episode with Jon Taffer. Extremely inspiring. Extremely insightful. If you thought it was inspiring as much as I did, then make sure to take a screenshot of your phone right now, while you’re listening to this, post this on your Instagram story, or your page, or Twitter, and tag me, @LewisHowes and put the link,, so other people can be inspired and help them overcome their excuses as well.

It means the world to me that you continue to listen every single Monday, Wednesday, Friday we come out with new episodes to help you unlock your inner greatness. And this one was a powerful one. So, again, please share it out.

Watch the full video interview over on, where we have a video coming out every single day. Short videos, longer video interviews, everything in between, to help you, to inspire you, to educate, to entertain. All those things back at

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You know, I hope you know that there is so much available for you. I shouldn’t have been able to do what I do right now. I was struggling in school, early on in the special needs classes. Felt very insecure, felt very out of place. Didn’t have a lot of friends, growing up. Didn’t have a lot of self confidence, grew up in a small town, and I had a lot of excuses on my back. A lot of excuses piling on me.

And I could have easily just said, “You know what? All these excuses are in the way, so I can’t go do what I want.” And that’s why I love Jon’s message. Because these excuses don’t have to be excuses any more. You can turn them into solutions to power you forward to achieving your dreams.

So, I hope you guys enjoyed this one, because, as John Wooden said, “Never make excuses. Your friends don’t need them and your foes won’t believe them.” And you don’t need to believe them either. They’re just excuses that are holding you back and it’s time to break free. And it’s also time for something else. And you know what that time is: It’s time to go out there and do something great!


Music Credits:

Escape by Hang Øver

Frozen Voices by SANDR

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