I have a lot of guests on this show who inspire me. I would say no one inspires me more consistently than my good friend and spoken word poet In-Q.
I have seen In-Q perform live so many times and I’m always left speechless.
Poetry is something that not only gives us a glimpse into the poet’s soul, but also into our own.
I wanted to bring In-Q back on the show to share his work with you. He has created incredible impact through his work in the past few years and I knew he’d have some amazing new insight to share with us.
I even asked him to perform one of my favorite spoken poems he does titled “85.”
If you aren’t familiar with In-Q he’s a world-renowned spoken word artist and entrepreneur. He’s also an award-winning songwriter who has worked with such people as Aloe Blacc, Mike Posner, Foster the People, ZHU, Selena Gomez and Miley Cyrus.
He was even the first poet to ever perform with Cirque Du Soleil.
But above all, In-Q is a deep soul, an insightful artist, and a gifted voice who is choosing to change the world with his talent and perspective.
Be prepared to learn something about yourself and the power you have to change the world, on Episode 607.
Lewis Howes: This is episode number 607 with In-Q.
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.
Pablo Neruda said, “Poetry is an act of peace.”
And we have a very special guest, one of my favourite human beings in the world, today, his name is In-Q, and he is one of the most talented individuals I know on on getting a message out into the world and impacting change and resonating a feeling inside people’s hearts, so that they think differently and start to act differently.
Such a powerful interview today, and make sure to take a screenshot of this, post it on social media, tag me, @LewisHowes, and the link, lewishowes.com/607 as this is about to blow you away. In-Q is a National Poetry Slam Champion, and multi-platinum songwriter, recently named one of Oprah’s Super Soul 100 Thought Leaders. His ground-breaking performances include selling out the largest one-man poetry show in Los Angeles history.
Being the first spoken word artist to perform with Cirque du Soleil and being featured on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam and A&E’s Look Closer Campaign. As a songwriter, In-Q’s hit single, Love You Like A Love Song, by Selina Gomez, went multi-platinum. He has also written with renowned artists like Aloe Blacc, Myley Cyrus, Mike Posner and Foster the People.
Leading organisations, including Google, Facebook, IBM, Nike, Spotify, Lululemon, Shazam, Live Nation, the Grammy Foundation and many more, have brought In-Q in to lead his creativity and story-telling workshops and motivate their teams through his performance. Every time I surround myself with In-Q, I am inspired. Every time I hear him speak, every time I hear him perform, it moves me in ways I’ve never been moved before.
And in this interview, we talk about what happens when artists realise they are entrepreneurs. We also talk about whether the art or the artist is more important. The difference between an inspiration and an assignment. Also, the role insecurity plays in our lives, and how to understand it in a healthy way, and the difference between going through dark times, and choosing to suffer. We cover all of this, plus, In-Q performs a few poems that will bring you some powerful insights and inspiration. I promise you are going to love this.
Before we dive in, I want to give a shout out to the Fan of the Week. This is from Darcy Rogers, who said, “I am a twenty-year-old hair stylist with the dream of opening up my own bridal boutique. This dream is still only a dream, but because of the everyday motivation and inspiring stories that Lewis brings to his podcast, I have the right mindset and willpower to one day turn my dream into a reality. I recommend this podcast to every single person who needs any guidance in their life and career, or for that person who just needs that extra push in the morning to start their day mentally focussed. Thank you so much, Lewis. I cannot wait to accomplish my dreams.”
So, Darcy Rogers, I’m so glad that you left a review. Thank you for being the Fan of the Week. We are going to watch you pursue your dreams. Make sure to message me when you open up your own bridal boutique. Super excited for you, and pumped that you’re part of the Greatness Community.
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Again, a big thank you to the Fan of the Week, and to our sponsors who are constantly supporting us, take this podcast to the next level. And without further ado, guys, let’s dive into this. I’m super pumped for you to have access to this information, with the one, the only In-Q.
Welcome back, everyone, to The School of Greatness Podcast. My dear friend, Mr In-Q is in the house!
In-Q: So happy to be here.
Lewis Howes: So pumped to be here, man! I just got the information that it was four years ago this month, you were on episode 48. I think we’re on episode almost 600 now.
Lewis Howes: It’s been four years since you were on, and we were just having a conversation about how, when you came up here, we were in this room, standing on the balcony and there was this massive rain storm and we hadn’t had rain for, like, years or something, and then there’s this big rain storm and this huge double rainbow.
In-Q: It was gargantuan.
Lewis Howes: It was amazing. And we have a photo of us in the double rainbow. It was fun! But you’ve done so much since then. There’s a lot of people that don’t know about you, who are listeners of the podcast. The podcast has grown tremendously since that time. And you’ve grown tremendously.
You didn’t really have a social media presence, now you’re doing monthly videos that have millions of views. Some of them have over 30 million views, or over 30 million views combined, and they continue to just take off. So you’ve done so much in the last few years, and congrats in everything. I’m pumped to have you back in here, man.
In-Q: Thank you! I’m really happy to be here. And part of that was you kind of pushing me in that direction, so I have you to thank for that.
Lewis Howes: Yeah, of course, yeah. We got a good team, a good manager, a good team as well, yeah. And you spoke at The Summit of Greatness and just blew everyone away last year, a year and a half ago. I believe our intention is that you’re going to be doing something again this year. If we can make it work.
But you also sold out the ACE Hotel Theatre and you’re doing an annual event yourself here in L.A. now, which has, like, 2000 people at it and you’re just blowing people away, man. Everything you’re doing continues to elevate. Not many people are doing spoken word the way you’re doing it. You’re trying to make it sexy, mainstream. You’re trying to give it legs, right? Because it’s kind of like a lost art form. People are maybe doing, but it’s more like the underground places, right?
In-Q: Yeah, I mean, I think it’s time for a renaissance for what poetry can be. I come from an amazing community in Los Angeles, called The Poetry Lounge, and still, they get 350 people every Tuesday night and they’ve been doing that for 17 years. So the community is strong, and being there every week and putting out my art, it’s like church without religion. So, there’s an appetite for this, and I think it’s time to bring it to mainstream culture in a way that nobody’s really ever seen.
Lewis Howes: Do you go every week still, or as much as you can?
In-Q: I don’t, just because I’m so busy now, but that place has my heart and that’s where I learned to, I guess, find my own voice and my own style.
Lewis Howes: Yeah, and I thought you’re one of the best that there is, at how you do it. Are there a lot of people that are talented, like you, that are spoken word artists, who can perform the way you do? That just no-one knows about because it’s not mainstream?
In-Q: Absolutely! There’s incredible, incredible people.
Lewis Howes: Really? So there’s tons of them like you?
In-Q: I don’t want to say tons, but there’s a lot of people who can, and there’s a lot of people who do, and then there’s a lot of people that will. You know, so, that’s one of my dreams. I want an eight-year-old kid to be, like, “I want to be a poet when I grow up.” That doesn’t really exist right now, or at least, it’s few and far between. And I think if you monetise it and you expose it in popular culture and you spark people’s imaginations and you give them an opportunity to tell their story through this particular genre, I think it’s going to spread like wildfire.
Lewis Howes: Right. Because you originally wanted to be a rapper, isn’t that right?
In-Q: Yeah, yeah.
Lewis Howes: And then you realised you couldn’t be a rapper, so you sold your poetry instead, or how did that work out?
In-Q: That’s like a real simplistic way of saying it. I wanted to be Nas from Santa Monica, basically, and then that just didn’t work out. And so, I kept making albums and I wound up at the poetry launch when I was, like, nineteen, and I started doing my rapping a capella.
Lewis Howes: So, you were singing with music, creating your own music, just creating demo’s or full album?
In-Q: Yeah. Demo’s, full albums. When I was a kid, my dream was to basically meet an A&R. It was like, “Oh! If I could only meet an A&R and give him my demo,” you know? The middle man was the only way that you could wind up having success. You couldn’t really create it yourself at that point. And so, I didn’t really realise that I was an entrepreneur. I just though of myself as an artist. And it was many, many years later that I realised an artist is an entrepreneur, and that kind of transformed how I think about my career.
And, so anyway, I started going to poetry launch every single week and I was putting on my work, and I ended up being on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, and we won the National Poetry Slam Championships. I realised I was more of a poet than a rapper and had to figure out how to make a living after that. So I started doing pop music, started getting some pretty big success in that and then used that to leverage getting back into poetry, which is what I really love.
Lewis Howes: Really? It’s kind of like the actors that go mainstream and do big Hollywood movies, and then they go and do their own Broadway show, to get back into the thing they really love.
Lewis Howes: It’s like, you got to make it big first, in the mainstream culture, and sell out a little bit, I guess, and then you can come back, as an artist would say, “Well, I have to go sell out a little bit, make a ton of money and get famous, and then go back to the thing that I want to do, so people will watch me.”
In-Q: Yeah. And, to be honest, when I was doing that “selling out”, I didn’t feel good about it. At the time I felt like I was… HipHop and poetry were so important to me, that the idea of writing pop music felt disposable. But ultimately it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Not only because of the success and the finance, but because of the experience of using my imagination and simplifying my craft. I ended up getting tools, as a songwriter that I never had as a rapper and a poet. And when I applied that back to my own craft, I was way better than I had ever been. So I have a lot that I owe to songwriting, and I’m very, very grateful for it. And I still do it, now. Less, but I still love it.
Lewis Howes: When did you first start writing songs with or for other artists? What age range were you? In your twenties?
In-Q: I was late twenties.
Lewis Howes: Late twenties, got you. Nice. I want to get into a poem first, to give people a taste of what you do. So, I’m curious. Is there one you have in mind about life in general.
In-Q: Sure! Yeah! I’ll have to contemplate it a little bit.
Lewis Howes: Maybe a poem that you really enjoy, that encompasses who you are. And something that you really like to talk about or anything like that.
In-Q: I’ll tell a true story that happened.
Lewis Howes: Perfect.
This one time I saw a dude
who worked for Vans
Collecting stacks of shopping carts
in the parking lot
With only one arm.
Now I should say
that on this particular day
I had been feeling down
Depressed about some stupid s**t
Complaining in my head
that I’m not as far along
as I would like to be
That life is victimising me
And, mind you, I was buying food at the time.
To put into my car
to put into my house
to put into my fridge
to put into my mouth
and that’s when I saw
ten carts deep
pushing them with one arm down the street
Now, I swear, he was whistling
Do you know how happy I would have to be
to spontaneously pucker up my lips
like I was about to blow a kiss
then open up a bit
to push some air
from my oesophagus into a higher pitch?
Really, really happy.
I mean, totally ecstatic
Anyway, back to this dude:
First though I had
I’ll admit, was a bit rude
But hear me out
before you boo.
See, I was confused
Because if I was in his shoes
and I got to choose
this would not be the job I’d choose
And I know that sounds hardcore
but honestly, this is one of the jobs
that I would want two arms for.
Now, that being said
this particular dude was a gangster
The arm he had looked like it was strong enough
to be the anchor
on an oil tanker
Like, he could have been
Arnold Schwartzenegger’s trainer
back when he was starring in the Terminators
and it woke me up
like the scent from a cup of sanka
So I went home
and I wrote this poem
as an ode to thank him.
See, he really got me thinking
about my situation
Why the heck am I complaining?
Our world is full of people maintaining
No matter who you are
or where you’re from
we all have to wake up every day
and accept the fact that
we don’t know where we’ll go
or why we’ve come
and that can be confusing.
So we distract ourselves
and focus on amusement
instead of self-improvement
a mutually agreed upon
But with this much stimulus
and this little understanding
it’s no wonder we don’t all just
Genius and insanity are closer than they seem
Your perspective is the difference
between your nightmares and your dreams.
Because, if everything is energy
and my body is a vessel
then my struggle is unique
but my problems aren’t so special.
And this dude here
he has the guts to up and whistle
with a fistful of shopping carts
that he guided like a missile
and it blew me away
like a sneeze into a tissue
that’s someone who has
so many issues
could be unequivocally so blissful
while someone who’s as lucky
as I am
could be self-creating problems
by the list full.
So from this point on
if my thoughts start thinking
that they’re important
or my feelings start feeling
I’m going to sort them
to see if I can change them
If I can’t I’ll simply make
the moves to rearrange them
If I can’t I’ll acknowledge them
but I won’t engage them
I’ll look them square into their eyes
with courage as I face them and
Lewis Howes: Clap it up! Oh, man, I love your work!
In-Q: Thanks, man.
Lewis Howes: There’s something about your thoughtfulness, your intention behind every word, not only making it melodic (is that the way you pronounce it?) but also, the way that you shape the words, the way that they rhyme, the way that they have meaning, it all connects, into a beautiful harmony for so many people. Always has for me. I appreciate your ability to tell a story the way you do.
And how do you even come up with these ideas? Like, do they just come, like what you saw, an idea just comes to you?
In-Q: Yeah, I mean, that was exactly what it was. I was at Vans and I saw this dude. And I was in a s**y mood, I don’t have to retell the poem, but I was kind of in my own head about stuff and I saw this guy and his energy was so present and bright and joyful. And,yeah, it affected me. So I always try to write from either moments, or statements that move me.
I think that’s always the best place to begin something, is thinking about what actually moves you. And if I start a poem from that place, then the poem will almost write itself, if I give it time and space. As long as I start with something that’s inspiring to me. So, when people ask me how I write, that’s usually what I say.
Lewis Howes: How long does it usually take to write a poem, on average? A poem like that? Is that an afternoon, the idea comes to you and you start taking down notes, you start, maybe, voicing notes and then shaping it and forming it over the next week or two, or how long does is usually take?
In-Q: That one happened pretty quickly. So, I had the idea, because of the experience, but I didn’t know that I wanted to make it a poem immediately, I just knew that it affected me. And then a couple of days later I was like, “This one time…” and I just started to explain what happened, and then it came out very quickly after that.
Lewis Howes: Really? Like, a couple of days?
In-Q: No, I think that was one sitting. That was, like, four hours.
Lewis Howes: And then you’re just figuring out how to make it interesting, tie it together and the rhyming and everything?
In-Q: I think the poem has something that it wants to say, you know what I mean? And I feel like I’m the vehicle for that thing, but I can also be an obstacle to it. My ego can make me want to do something that’s dope, but not right. So I constantly am re-evaluating, “Okay, it’s not whether this is dope, it’s whether it’s right. Is this what the poem wants to say?”
And what’s interesting is, I think I’m really good at doing that when I’m writing and that’s always been something I’m very grateful for. It’s come naturally to me, but as a performer, I still think I have a lot to learn, about getting out of the way so that I can actually express what the poem wants to express. Because I think there’s a lot deeper ways that it can resonate with my audience. I think that has to do with me kind of dropping my own ego.
Lewis Howes: Why, do you think? Because I see you perform a lot, and I don’t think you’re in your own way, but what do you think is holding you back from allowing it to flow effortlessly whether it be the performance, the words, the sound, how loud it is? What’s the ego in the way, do you think?
In-Q: Well, I think your ego is your humanity, so you’re never going to completely lose your ego while you’re here. It’s a part of our identity, but I think, not needing to be validated. Just allowing it to be about the art.
I have a philosophy that the art is more important than the artist. I also have a philosophy that my life is more important than my art. Some people have different versions of that. Some people think the art is more important than the artist, period. And they’re willing to sacrifice their life for that. I’m not. But when I’m doing my art, I would like to be of service to that and be of service to the audience as much as possible.
Lewis Howes: Do you ever get scared on stage any more?
In-Q: Yeah, it depends upon what the situation is. I think, if I know it’s something that’s going to be seen by a lot of people, I have a tendency to be in my mind about how I would like that to be. And that’s another thing: expectations. Letting go of expectations so you can continue to be in the moment. So, that’s one of the reasons that I meditate, is that I can kind of like accept that fear, embrace it, let it flow through me like rain, and then reconnect to the next breath so I can hopefully do service to the poem and the audience.
Lewis Howes: This is probably the best place I’ve every seen you in.
In-Q: Thanks. I appreciate it.
Lewis Howes: You know, when you walked in, or when I saw you coming in here, I was like, “There’s an energy about you that I haven’t experienced in a while,” even though I’m a little under the weather and you’re like a little… you know, travelling a lot, there’s still like a calmness about you that I’ve never felt.
In-Q: Thank you.
Lewis Howes: Not that you’re not calm usually. But I think you just have a sense of, like, everything’s going to be okay.
In-Q: It is, yeah. I mean, it really is.
Lewis Howes: Most artists never feel that.
In-Q: Why do you think that is?
Lewis Howes: I think most artists, from my perspective, are constantly in scarcity mode, or stressed out of, like, “I’m not going to make enough money. How am I going to earn? Or get people to like my stuff, or get my art featuring in a studio?” or whatever it may be, “Or people to watch it? How am I going to stay relevant if I don’t keep putting out hits?” and I’m not feeling that from you right now.
In-Q: I think that’s understandable, but it’s also often times cheap fuel to get me where I want to go. Like, for me to even be sitting here, I’ve thought about quitting a million times. I mean, I basically have tried to be a part of a very small movement that’s creating a market that doesn’t exist, out of poetry. You know, we don’t even have products yet, which we’re starting to create. But it’s been a very, very long road.
Lewis Howes: How long have you been working on this craft for? Professionally?
In-Q: Well, I knew that I wanted to be an entertainer basically when I was thirteen or something like that. And I started taking HipHop very seriously at that time. And it was not a joke to me.
Lewis Howes: You were all in, like, rapping every day.
In-Q: Completely, yeah.
Lewis Howes: Doing cover songs or whatever, just like…
In-Q: Not cover songs.
Lewis Howes: Making your own stuff up.
In-Q: Yeah, yeah, yeah, battling, doing the whole thing.
Lewis Howes: You were battling a lot?
Lewis Howes: Wow. Like the real Eminem?
In-Q: I was just me, man.
Lewis Howes: Were you going to the back of, like, was is outside in the streets you were battling, or did you go to a location once a week?
In-Q: Everything in between, man, you know?
Lewis Howes: Anywhere.
In-Q: Yeah. But it was fun, it was a really, really amazing time for hiphop specifically, because there were no rules, really. And people were being celebrated for having their own voice and being different. I’m starting to feel that come back around again and it’s really incredible to watch. But that was a really, really cool time to fall in love with music, and so I did. I knew that I wanted to do that for the rest of my life. And then, as I said, it very naturally, over time, moved into the poetic scene.
Lewis Howes: Yeah. How many years would you say poetry has been full time for you?
In-Q: I mean, I’ve been doing it full time since I was nineteen.
Lewis Howes: Poetry.
Lewis Howes: When did you make your first chunk of money from poetry, like you got paid to do a poem or you had a corporate performance, can you remember what year that was?
In-Q: No, I mean, I definitely know that we were making, me and my community, small amounts here and there, but I remember doing a show at a club, and this dude was supposed to give me $50, and he didn’t. And I went to his f**g house. I needed that $50, that was all of my twenties. And so, I started to make money when I was, like, twenty-nine, thirty.
Lewis Howes: Wow. How old are you know?
Lewis Howes: So really, so ten years you’ve been going hard.
In-Q: It was a grind for sure.
Lewis Howes: Wow! So in your twenties you really were making scraps out of this.
In-Q: Nothing, yeah.
Lewis Howes: But you were writing songs and doing other pop stuff as well?
In-Q: No, only in… that’s where I started to make money, really, was writing pop songs. I was lucky enough, I got a publishing deal with this production team called Rock Mafia, and that became kind of a second family for me. And I did, you know, I co-wrote Selina Gomez, Love You Like A Love Song, Myley Cyrus, ultimately Aloe Blacc who is a good friend.
Lewis Howes: He’s dope.
In-Q: He’s amazing. Co-wrote Foster the People’s single last year, and a lot of Disney stuff. Oh, man, like thirty or forty Disney songs over the years.
Lewis Howes: Really? I didn’t know that about you.
In-Q: Yeah. I don’t really talk about it very often. But I was doing it and I needed to have the experience and I needed to have a financial foundation to be able to refocus my energy on poetry.
Lewis Howes: Huh! Which Disney song is, are there any popular ones that [you wrote]?
In-Q: I’ve done so much crazy s**t that no one has any idea. Like, even this year alone, I co-wrote three of the songs that were on a movie for TV called, The Descendants 2. I mean, billion streams online, I mean, something crazy like that.
Lewis Howes: Wow! So you’re part of a writing team that’s like, you’re not the sole writer, but you got a share in it.
In-Q: And it’s amazing. There are kids who know every single lyric and they sing them and I was even rapping over things and they would slow down the track and I would rap over it slow and then they’d speed it back up and I would sound like a chipmunk, and I came up with Ermonic and Nevermind, and Nevermind had a gold album. Or a gold single, it got Disney top ten radio and all sorts of crazy s**t like that, so yeah, I mean, just very, very weird stuff over the years that kind of kept me afloat and that’s what allowed me to transition and focus on poetry the way that I’ve been doing in the last five, six years.
Lewis Howes: So that brings in consistent income for you as well on the side?
In-Q: Yeah, but now poetry exceeds it.
Lewis Howes: Yeah, that’s amazing. Would you say that using your voice and sharing your truth is the only way that an artist can be successful for long term?
In-Q: I don’t think it’s the only way, but it’s the only way that I want to do it. I mean, look, there’s a difference between an inspiration and an assignment. You can have inspiration within an assignment, but there’s still a difference between the two of those things. I want my poetry to come from my inspiration and I think if you’re not inspired by life, you’re not paying attention.
There is so much to be inspired by in every single moment. And art is alchemy. So, it’s like taking all of the emotions that we’re going through on a daily basis and transforming them into art that mirrors your humanity back onto the world. It’s beautiful, and I’m so grateful that I get to do it for a living and that hopefully I get to go out there and speak my truth and hopefully it makes people feel a little bit less alone.
Lewis Howes: Yeah. That’s powerful. I love that one. Do you have a poem about sharing your truth, or using your voice, that you could share.
In-Q: Yeah, sure! Every single time I’m like, “Okay, well, let me see. What am I going to do?”
Learned fear can be overcome
when you realise
the voice inside your head
is not yours.
It’s an imitation of the voices
repeating on a loop
inside your quiet core
receiving since your youth
when your choices weren’t even your.
Perceiving was the proof
but reality has many doors
So why are we still fighting
other people’s wars?
Learned fear can be overcome
when you realise
the voice inside your head
is not yours.
It’s an imitation of the voices
on a loop inside your quiet core
and you can’t tell the difference
because it sounds the same
But trust me when I tell you
most of what you think
is from somebody else’s brain.
They have us trained
shackled by imaginary chains
for imaginary games
But they don’t know the reasons either
so it’s hard to place the blame
and who is “they” anyway
when we’re all the same?
Our parents had parents
and their parents had parents
Apparently it hurts to see
So I’ll be transparent
The world is so much bigger
than our insecurities
and they don’t speak on your behalf
without your soul’s authority
The world is so much bigger
than your culture or community
and they don’t speak on your behalf
without your soul’s authority
because if it’s all a story
then nobody else can tell it for me
since I’m always transforming
I defy a category
If you do the same thing
the same way
it’s habit forming
But nothing in this land of mortal man
It’s all just transitory
Our world’s a laboratory
Experimenting on today
can change tomorrow morning.
You have a choice.
Are you living
someone else’s life?
You have a voice.
Does it haunt you
in the dead of night?
would you fly if you weren’t convinced
that you are afraid of heights?
And who convinced you anyway?
They had no right!
No one can dim your light.
You shine within
that you can blind the sun
and scare him
back into the night.
No one can dim your light.
I said it twice
because you’re greater than the circumstances
that surround your perfect life.
I want to buy a house
where I can make memories in every room
Plant a garden in my backyard
and watch the flowers bloom
It would be big
but not so big that one would get lost
It would be nice
but not so nice that everybody whispers
“What did it cost?”
It would have gorgeous views
but being higher doesn’t mean superior.
I’ve learned not to judge a house by
what’s on the exterior
It’s what’s on the interior
and I don’t mean design
because a house is not a home
unless the people are aligned.
I used to want a mansion
because I thought that would
bring me joy.
I went and bought a lot of stuff
that I had no time to enjoy.
I was working for a living
but it wasn’t working
because I wasn’t living
and a life without living
filling up the empty space
with all the things
that I was getting
Yet I could never get enough
or give enough
to be enough
and that was constantly upsetting.
Value is a funny thing.
Is it something that we own?
Or is it something that we bring?
Experience is priceless
and that doesn’t cost a thing
because once you make your mind up
you can accomplish anything
even if it’s seems impossible
Impossible is possible.
We take for granted
that defying gravity is illogical
Intend what you desire
and your will
will be unstoppable.
You could by an island
with a climate that is tropical
or fly your helicopter off the
coast of the Galapagos
while eating avocado toast
(That was a joke)
And even if I was flat broke
I wouldn’t rely on hope
because hope can be despair in disguise.
So, instead, I decide
then I watch as my reality realigns
After all, what is time
if it’s different in a different place?
We’re all in one place
floating out in outer space.
They’ll never bottle time
we can’t buy any more
and if we could it’d be sold out
at every corner store
So, lately, I’ve been thinking
‘What if less is really more?’
If my mortality is what I’m really living for.
I want to slide in socks
across an Italian marble floor
I want imported art
to fill up every corridor.
I want my kids to use my bed
like it’s their trampoline
to walk on top of my couch
like it’s their balance beam
I want to use my things
so they aren’t using me
After all the most important things in life are
Lewis Howes: Free.
In-Q: I did a show once, and this woman was, like, “Me!”
We only borrow land
We only borrow time
We only borrow love
But you can borrow mine
Mi casa, su casa
Come over any time
If you’re a friend
you have a permanent vacancy sign.
Community is what our culture is lacking
We pretend that we’re connected
but mostly it’s just unscripted acting
We isolate ourselves
and hide from our emotions
then pack our schedules
as an excuse to stay in motion
I’m living by the beach
and yet I never see the ocean
because it’s always out of reach
in the midst of the commotion
God forbid I’d have to sit alone
It’s hard to notice thoughts
if you’re constantly in action
No matter what your status is
that isn’t your satisfaction
So I don’t only care what you do
I care that you’re doing it with passion.
That’s why we all need to share our gifts
and cultivate compassion
because the fastest way to bliss
is through a meaningful interaction
and since I’m not even sure
that we exist
I’ve started asking if
this world of form
is merely the illusion of attachment?
If I could let it all go
my roof would be the stars
My floor would be the earth
My doors would be ajar
My walls would be the wind
My seat would be a stone
My bed would be the clouds
And my heart
would be my home.
But since I want a family
and I don’t live this life alone
I’m going to buy a house
where I can make memories
in every room.
Lewis Howes: Yeah! Yeah! I’ve heard that a few times from you, and every time it moves me. Every time, you continue to deliver like it’s the first time, every time. With your poems. Which I love. It seems like they never get old for you, you know? Maybe they do, but you fake it well. If they do. But you probably said that one hundreds of times, right?
In-Q: Yeah, maybe. I mean, first of all, I combined two poems there, so I always will keep it fresh for myself, because otherwise it at least has the possibility of getting boring, unless I’m doing things to surprise myself. So, as an artist, I think, you always want to continue to surprise yourself, because that’s a direct way to make it new for you. But then the other thing is, I’m rediscovering it in real time. Because I’m different.
Lewis Howes: From a new perspective too.
In-Q: Every single time I do the poem, I’m different.
Lewis Howes: Yeah. Have you ever done that poem where you were, like, “Wow!” like something opened up for you in a different way? Even though you already knew what you were going to say, but you were like, “Wow, I just discovered something new about myself, because of the experience I just had and my poem just reminded me of that.”
In-Q: A hundred percent.
Lewis Howes: Really?
In-Q: Yeah. My poems are either me purging, or praying, or both. So I say the things that I need to hear. And I’m reminding myself of them as I’m reminding my audience. That’s why I don’t take myself very seriously. A lot of people will have various responses to my work, and some people are very moved and they’ll put that on me. It has nothing to do with me.
People take whatever they need to hear from the poems, that they’ve been saying to themselves, then it just becomes magnified when they hear someone else say it to them. In this particular art form. So, it’s as beneficial for me to share, as it is for other people to hear.
Lewis Howes: Yeah. And the first half of that poem, when did you write that one, and what were you going through in your life when you wrote that one?
In-Q: So, the first half I was in Greece, when I started that. I just liked that line of, “the world is so much bigger than your insecurities.” Because it really is, man. You know? We get so trapped in our own minds, and we think that we’re the world. We’re not the world. I mean, we’re the world, but the world is bigger than our fears. And once you recognise that, and once you recognise that your fears, they were learned. Consciously or unconsciously. And that’s your environment, it’s your parents, it’s situations that you’ve gone through.
We get into survival mode and then we move into the world and we continue to project this out onto reality. And we wonder why the same s**t keeps happening to us over and over again? We’re creating it. But once you realise the world is bigger than your fears, you’re choosing your fears. Over and over and over again. And so, it’s like that was a realisation for me. When I was in this foreign land where I didn’t speak the language and the food was different and people looked different. The world is huge! Get out there! Surprise yourself!
Lewis Howes: Yeah. I just had Gary Vaynerchuk on and he talked about insecurity is a poison for the mind and it’s the biggest thing that holds people back from living their dreams, is their insecurities. These little things that we choose to have. Or we can choose not to have, just like you said.
And I find that’s a lot of the people that come to me, who are trying to build a business or something, they’re always insecure about something and they’re living in fear about it, but they’re making that choice. And once we remove that from our minds, it allows us to have a clear path and just trying something and putting ourselves out there and sharing our voice, sharing our truth. It may not work for people, it may not be successful, or whatever, but I think that’s really the only path. Is to free ourselves from insecurities so we can share our truth.
In-Q: Yeah. Embrace them, which then can free them from being us, you know, rather than just being something that moves through us. And one of the reasons that I very much respect you, I mean, you’re my brother, but when I step outside of our friendship and I look at what you’ve created in the world, I think that it’s like hero-worship that we have in our society, where we build people up on pedestals, and people build themselves up on pedestals. And then society kind of tears them down when they don’t live up to that.
That’s not what you’re about. You’re about making real people into heroes, so that it’s not like so far removed, where it winds up being discouraging. Like when I look at people who are spiritual teachers, who are actually so far removed from being human beings, then what they tell me, it doesn’t wind up being inspirational, it’s almost discouraging to me, because I’m like, “Oh, I’ll never be able to reach that.”
But the reality is, when you show people that we’re all going through it, and yet we’re choosing to do it anyway, that can be really, really inspiring for people wherever they are, whatever it is that they want to create in the world, and I think this is one of the platforms, and these are two of the platforms where you bring that into the world and it’s a beautiful thing. So, thank you for that.
Lewis Howes: Appreciate it. Yeah, thank you. What would you say in the insecurity that’s holding you back from getting your message out there more or just being more of who you want to be?
In-Q: I don’t think that I’d point to one thing specifically, but I think that just this conversation is what it is. Whatever comes up in real time, I have to acknowledge, accept it and let it go, and then choose to live my life to the fullest anyway. So, I think, people watch The Secret, for example, which is great, yeah, awesome. You know, what you think is what you attract, of course.
But I think that they see that and they think, “Everything’s amazing!” Like, “Okay, I’ll just make everything amazing all the time, you know? It’s amazing, isn’t it all amazing?” It’s not, dude! The world is beautiful and ugly and beautiful because it’s ugly. It’s an amazing place with mortality, everything! It makes life so special, it makes it vibrant, we’re right here, right now. If we didn’t have that, the stakes would be different.
But you can’t walk around just making everything perfect all the time. Then you’re actually suppressing things, not acknowledging things that are real and you trap them inside of you. And that becomes other stuff. So, I think what I’m trying to do is, acknowledge things in real time. Whatever my emotions are. Accept them, let them move through me and then use them to alchemise into art for other people to do the same thing, and choose to live my greatest life anyway.
I do poetry workshops all around the world, and one of the things I talk to people about is getting outside of their comfort zone, but once again, I’m talking to myself too. So, I get people writing poems and I get them up and being vulnerable from a place of strength and sharing their story and it’s a celebratory environment. People don’t even know that they are poets, but everyone is a poet.
Lewis Howes: It’s amazing, yeah!
In-Q: Yeah. They’re unbelievable. And so, that’s one area that I do that, but that’s an area that I’m comfortable in. So, for other people, when I go around…
Lewis Howes: Well, what are you uncomfortable in?
In-Q: Well, okay, so for example, I started boxing recently. You know what I mean? And I’ve been in the class and it’s hard, man! Boxing’s hard, you know? It’s fun, but it’s difficult, and so I’m a student at that. And trust me, there’s moments, when you’re a student at something, especially if you’ve worked all your life to become great at something, what do adults do? You basically work yourself into a position where you become great at something so you become validated and paid for it, and it feels good, and then you just stay there. You never do anything else.
But to be a student of life is the way to grow in every area. And I promise, being a student in boxing is going to make my poetry better. So, literally my boxing teacher hasn’t said a thing to me for two months. He hasn’t said two words, right? The other day in class, he was like, “You’re getting sharper.” Just like that. And outside I was, like, “Thanks, man,” and inside I was like, “Yes!”
Lewis Howes: You’re getting sharper.
In-Q: So, me not only taking the medicine and giving it to other people, but taking it myself, in all areas.
Lewis Howes: Wow. That’s powerful. What do you think is the greatest lesson you still need to learn?
In-Q: Wow. Okay, I have something. And if it wasn’t you, I definitely would not talk about it.
Lewis Howes: Bring it.
In-Q: I need to learn how to love people without taking responsibility for their emotions. I still take on people’s emotions. And that can lead itself to co-dependence. And I don’t want to be co-dependent with the people that I love. I want to allow them to stand on their own and love them unconditionally for who they are, and who they’re showing up as in the moment. Doesn’t mean I have to like it. But to love them through that. And that’s a lesson that I’m still learning.
Lewis Howes: So, does that mean when someone has emotions you take it on and you embrace it as yourself, or you try to fix it or you try to…?
In-Q: I have no idea what it means.
Lewis Howes: Right, right. But it’s not good, whatever it is.
In-Q: It’s just something I’m working on, you know?
Lewis Howes: You know that you don’t respond in a way that you wish you would respond, is that right, or the feelings just don’t feel good.
In-Q: I don’t know, but I just… I don’t know if I told you this, but I was coming out of my therapist’s office one day and sitting in the waiting room was my old therapist. It was the therapist I had and I was just, like, “We’re all going through this human s**t together, you know?”
Lewis Howes: Yeah, there you go!
In-Q: Yeah, working on it.
Lewis Howes: I hear you. Do you feel like as an artist you almost need to feel those emotions to come up with something great, or that’s moving or inspiring and that if you detach yourself from those emotions that you wouldn’t be able to create great art any more?
In-Q: Well, I’ve definitely gone through it, so whatever I need to pull from, I have. I have the whole thing. I did the whole dance, dude. I really did. Like, I look back and I really, like, I did the whole dance. And I own that, I mean, I take responsibility. I feel like I chose all of those things, because I can relate to more people now. I don’t usually feel like I’m sitting down with somebody that I can’t see myself in or vice versa, you know? And it’s because I’ve been through a lot of different things, and so I see the humanity.
Lewis Howes: Do you want to continue to go through those darker times, or do you feel like you don’t need to any more? Because you’ve been through it all, you can tap into whatever you need to.
In-Q: I think that I will have to go through dark times, because that’s life. I don’t think that that ends, but I think how I deal with it, will dictate whether or not it becomes suffering. If something happens, I look at it, I could perpetuate it, I could blame other people, I could victimise myself, but if I don’t do those things, I feel through it.
Lewis Howes: You’ll still be hurt, you can grieve.
In-Q: All of that.
Lewis Howes: But it doesn’t have to live with you for twenty years.
In-Q: No. And I don’t have to take it so seriously, you know? It’s a moment. It’s passing. Or it’s many moments, depending upon the tragedy. But even if there’s a tragedy, there’s an opportunity within the tragedy. And it’s very easy to say that from the outside, and when you’re in it, depending upon what that thing is, it can feel unspeakable to even begin to take responsibility for it, or celebrate the pain, but that’s the way through. You know, it is. No matter what it is.
Lewis Howes: I want to finish with your Eighty-five poem in a second, but I want to ask you a few… I want to end with that as, like, drop the mic, cut us off. But I want to ask you a couple of questions before that. Because this is a poem that you wrote that went viral online, and I want people to hear it if they haven’t heard it yet. It’s one of the most beautiful poems, and very moving. I won’t build it up till you hear it. But I never asked you this question last time, because I didn’t start asking this question until a couple of years ago.
This is called The Three Truths question. Imagine you’ve lived your life exactly the way you wanted it to be, from here on out. And it’s your last day. Whenever you want to die, it’s your time to die, you choose. Could be a hundred years from now. Whatever you want. And you do everything you want to do. You’ve got all your products, your poetry is mainstream, everyone listens to it, you know, whatever you want to do, it happens. You’ve got kids, or you don’t, whatever.
But for whatever reason, everything you’ve created, all your poetry has been erased, your videos are gone, books, content, no one has access to your words any more. But you have a piece of paper and a pen to write down three things you know to be true about your life, the lessons you’ve learned, your experiences, and this would be the only thing that people would have to be reminded by you. They don’t have access to your stuff any more. What would you write down as your three truths? Or three lessons?
In-Q: Oh, s**t! That’s deep. The first thing that came to mind is, I just wrote this poem recently and the first line is, “Right before I die, I’m going to tell a joke.” So, I love that piece because I love that concept, and I really have decided that that’s what I’m going to do. If I had any control over knowing roundabout when I was going to die, and I was on a deathbed and I had a week left or something, I promise you, I’d be researching jokes. I will find the right joke.
Lewis Howes: Before you go.
In-Q: Every day before I got to sleep, I’m just going to say it to the people around me. Because I think, in the end, we should find a way to laugh at all of this, you know? So, maybe that’s just one of the lessons, is learning how to laugh through life.
Lewis Howes: Hmm. I like that. Number one.
In-Q: Okay. Number two. Follow your enthusiasm. Elliott Bisnow, that’s a good friend of mine, and he came on the podcast and he said something to me the other day. He said, “Follow the path and the path will lead the way.” I really, really like that, and I think that’s some way to follow your enthusiasm. It think that’s something that Paulo Coelho…?
Lewis Howes: Paulo Coelho. Who knows how to pronounce it, yeah.
In-Q: I’m sorry, but he talked about that on something with Oprah, and that really is something that I try to live by. Think about what it is that you’re enthusiastic about and go towards that thing, and life will show you the way after that. A lot of times people are thinking about what they think they’re supposed to do, and they don’t pay attention to what they actually want to do. So, turn the volume down on all the other voices and sit and connect with what you’re enthusiastic about, and follow the path and the path will lead the way.
Lewis Howes: That’s good. Okay. Number two.
In-Q: Number three: Learn math when you’re young. I’m just kidding.
Just spend time with people that inspire you and challenge you to be a better version of yourself. As much as you possibly can. Because, I think, who you spend your time with will open up your mind and your heart to the possibilities of life. And to expand on that, try to live solution minded, rather than problem oriented.
Lewis Howes: Yeah, I like that. That’s powerful. Those are great. This just came to me, this question. If you could ask any question to someone who’s not around any more, who would that person be that you would ask the question, and what would the question be?
In-Q: I mean, I’d like to sit down with Bob Marley. I don’t know what I would ask him, necessarily. But he’s probably the artist that I respect more than anyone else, because of his ideals and because of his integrity, and because of how he was able to fuse love into his music.
I mean, when I listen to Bob Marley, I feel like I’m listening to the sound of freedom. It’s really remarkable. And I feel love, when I listen to his music. And that someone tried to assassinate him and shot him in the arm because they didn’t want him to play a concert, and he ended up getting up on the stage and playing with his arm is a sling, knowing that they could try to kill him again, because he believed that much in unity.
That’s somebody sacrificing for something that they believe in, for a larger cause than themselves. And whenever I get emotional or whatever, it’s usually like the idea of sacrifice or the idea of redemption, you know, somebody standing up for other people, and being willing to put themselves at risk, so he’s somebody that I highly respect him. Just to sit down with him, I wouldn’t do very much talking.
Lewis Howes: Yeah. And what about someone you could sit down with and ask one question who is alive. It could be anyone.
In-Q: Both of my people are artists, but I really respect Kendrick Lamar. He’s transforming modern hiphop.
Lewis Howes: From here, isn’t he? From L.A.?
In-Q: He’s from Compton, yeah. He’s a spiritual teacher, as far as I’m concerned. Same thing with Bob. What he’s infusing into his music, he’s definitely an alchemist. And I’m excited to see kind of how his career progresses, over time, so if I could sit down with him and have a chat with him about his life philosophies and how he is the way that he is, and where he wants to go, that would be really interesting.
Lewis Howes: Yeah, that’d be cool. Yeah, nice. Well, before we get to the poem, I want to make sure people follow you online. You’re @in-q?
In-Q: Well, so it’s in-q.com, but for all the social media it’s inqlife.
Lewis Howes: inqlife, on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter.
In-Q: Yeah, yeah.
Lewis Howes: Awesome, but in-q.com and they can get tickets to your… The poetry workshops are amazing. So, if you guys… I don’t know if you have them up right now, where they can get information. I did a half a day one with you and, I don’t know, I couldn’t write poetry either until that moment. So, you pulled it out of me, and I was like, “Damn, if I actually spend some time with this, it could be a dope poem!” You know?
In-Q: Yeah, you crushed it.
Lewis Howes: I was like, “This could be interesting!” I want to go back and finish it sometime, but I really like that idea. So I recommend you guys go to one of the workshops. Also, you’re doing your big event at the end of the year. I’m not sure if tickets are available yet, or if there’s a waiting list, but go on in-q.com to get tickets. It’s going to be a game changer. Is there anything else on the website they can sign up for, or learn more about. Tour?
In-Q: Yeah, I mean, I just, literally, I travel all round the country and the world, performing at events or for companies or corporations or on private shows or public shows that we put up tickets for. So, we’ll definitely have the L.A. show at the end of this year again, and we sold out The Peppermint Club on Wednesday night, so that’ll be fun and then right after that, popping on a plane to go to Guatemala with you.
Lewis Howes: Always on a plane.
In-Q: Always on a plane.
Lewis Howes: But if you want to bring In-Q in for your corporations or events, you can e-mail… On the website there’s a form?
In-Q: There’s information on the website, yeah.
Lewis Howes: I can highly recommend him if you want someone to wow your audience, bring this guy in. It’s going to be a game changer. Before we get to the poem, I want to acknowledge you for a minute, brother, because I just appreciate you and your energy and your spirit and every time I’m around you, I feel inspired. I love being around artists in general, because I feel like it’s the stuff I’m not that good at I want to be around and just learn from, but you have a gift that just continues to inspire me and so many people.
I’m just very grateful to be around you and just hang out. Whether you’re doing poetry or not, I just love your energy and your caring nature for humanity. You’re very thoughtful in the way you deliver a message, that allows people to connect and open their heart. So, I really appreciate that about you.
In-Q: Thank you, man.
Lewis Howes: Of course.
In-Q: I love you, brother.
Lewis Howes: Love you too, man. Exited for the journey ahead. And I want to get to the last poem. This one is about love, right? It’s called Eighty-five? Yeah, I want everyone to hear this one and then we’ll end it when In-Q is done with this, we’ll end the podcast. But make sure to share this out with your friends and send a message to @inqlife on Instagram and Twitter to let him know what you think about any of these poems that he shared today.
In-Q: Thanks for having me on, man. Appreciate it.
Lewis Howes: Yeah, of course.
I want to fall in love at eighty-five
Go on shuffle-board dates
and dance to Hiphop from ’95
We would also listen to the song
But only for the message
Otherwise we’d keep away from disco
We’d rock matching tracksuits
and roped gold chains
We’d look like Run-D.M.C.
but in their old age
We’d take aerobics classes
and wear bi-focal glasses
and eat at Ihop
and hold hands at Sunday masses
And when it comes to the bedroom
Well, nothing much would happen
in the bedroom
because we’re eighty-five
But we would still be down
to take a walk
or take a drive
or sit and talk
or have a drink
and watch the passers by
and ask each other why
and then we’d laugh and cry again
about the people we had been.
And I would touch
her withered skin
and comment on how thin it is
to keep in something infinite
And she would smile sweet
and tell me that I think too much.
I think too much
It’s always been a problem
but then again
that’s how I made my green
like the goblin
When I was in my twenties
I was eating top rump
and counting up my pennies
to go food shopping
But now I’m eighty-five
and somehow I feel more alive!
I turn my hearing aid up
and bump Jurassic five
I read the sports page
while she peruses classifieds
We like antique stores, garage sales and barter buys
and when it comes to the bedroom
every once in a while
she lets me knock her boots
into the floral patterns of our bedpost
then hold her head close
like death isn’t chasing us
planning on erasing us
and replacing us
with better versions of us
then recreating us
with new identities
so we can make new memories
Hush, little baby!
Learn to walk and talk
and never get the answers why
She dips a joint of grass
in wheat grass
and we get high.
Her hair is silver as the moon in the L.A. sky
We still pop pills
but it’s not the Molly any more
Whenever we can’t sleep
we listen to the ocean floor
She got a
Sound of the Sea CD for me
from the Brookstone store
and ever since
I’ve been snoring like
like a really good metaphor for snoring
Sorry, I go blank sometimes
What? I’m eighty-five
I’m not complaining
I’m just happy that I’m still alive
and happy that I have
my better half by my side
She doesn’t look a day over sixty-five
When I first saw her
I was totally in awe
She was classical
so I was like
Yo, yo ma
And that was all it took
A single look
and I was shook
I fell for her like some loose shingles
from our Spanish roof
And I’m going to love her
until she loses every last root
and has to glue dentures to her gums
to chew solid food
Now that’s real love, dude
That’s some push-comes-to-shove love
Not when-it’s-convenient love
The only reason that we’re alive
And none of us should have to wait
Until we’re eighty-five
Lewis Howes: There you have it, my friends! I hope you enjoyed this episode. If you did, take a screenshot of this podcast on your app right now, on your phone, and post it on your Instagram story. Tag me, tag In-Q and the link is lewishowes.com/607. Tell your friends to go listen to this.
Check it out on the podcast. The full show notes is back at lewishowes.com/607, you can watch the full video as well and just make sure to share it out with your friends. The more people that get access to the information, the more they can be inspired to make a better life and change the world in the process.
Use your voice to change the world. In-Q is a powerful force and is going to continue to be making an impact for many, many years. So make sure to send him some love as well.
A big thank you, again, to our Fan of the Week, Darcy Rogers. Again, if you want to be shouted out on the podcast, as a chance to be the Fan of the Week, go over to the app and leave us a review over on iTunes and let us know what you think.
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I’m so blessed and grateful for all the different individuals we get to bring on here and share their stories. This is all about giving you insights, information and inspiration to help you live a better life and make an impact in the world with your passions. Again, it means the world to me that you’re part of this community. We’ve got some amazing things coming up. Some big names, big guests, big stories, so stay tuned.
If this is your first time here, make sure to click subscribe over on iTunes and check out these podcasts. Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, we come out with new episodes. Subscribe to our YouTube channel where we have all the videos over there. Got over a quarter of a million subscribers over there. It is growing like crazy! I’m super pumped for all the great video content we’re doing on YouTube.
And, as Pablo Neruda said, “Poetry is an act of peace.” What type of poems are you putting out in the world? How are you living your life? Are you living a life that is expressing your own form of poetry? Or are you creating more chaos in the world? Poetry is an act of peace. What type of peace do you bring to the world?
I love you so very much and you know what time it is: It’s time to go out there and do something great!