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How is it that some people accomplish so much while others accomplish so little in the same amount of time?

There’s a cheat code for success, but only the uber successful know about it and use it.

Today, I’m talking to Nick Nanton – an 11-time Emmy-award winning director, producer, and best-selling author about what his cheat code for life is.

Show Highlights Include:

  • An 11-time Emmy-award winning and best-selling author’s secret to success (1:32)
  • How one “sample-sized” interaction with Matchbox 20’s agent inspired Nick’s entire career direction (8:06)
  • How to use your shortcomings as a tactical advantage (10:02)
  • How you can have people praising you (even if you don’t deserve it) (10:50)
  • Why you should have expensive hobbies – especially if you’re broke (13:10)
  • Walt Disney’s simple 9-word “spell” that hypnotizes you into action (13:55)
  • The simple, yet profound secret to productivity (14:56)
  • The human “glitch” that stops us from doing the simplest of tasks (15:01)
  • The surprising subconscious secret about what your fears reveal about you (15:40)
  • A sneaky little mental “quirk” that helps you find opportunity in any situation (20:56)

Are you a highly-driven dad who needs help creating your legacy? Then go to wherever you listen to podcasts, subscribe to the show, and leave a 5-star review to help other highly-driven dads find this show.

Read Full Transcript

No don't go in there, Daddy's working.

You're listening to the show for dad-prenuers who want to have it all. Each week you'll see how you can have harmony in the four pillars of purpose. Family, faith, fitness and finances.

Jonathan: I am your host, I am the daddy who's working, Jonathan Rivera. Welcome back to another episode, and today I am excited, I don't know if stars aligned, I don't know how I got so darn lucky, but I've got a special guest for you. My man Nick Nanton. This guy is amazing. Emmy Award winner, bestselling author, attorney, and he's even freed some slaves and saved some lives. What is up homeboy? [0:01:01.6]

Nick: I'm doing good, man. Not sure I can live up to all those descriptions, but we'll have some fun talking.

Jonathan: Man. Dude, I'm so stoked, because ever since we met my wife and I, I call her Cupcake on the show, are just fascinated. We just think about how we raise our kid and then we think what would Nick do, what would Nick do. You are a fellow who seems to have no limits, and I'm like, "Man, how do we raise a kid like that?" and so I want to talk a little bit, I want to start there. You're an attorney, you're a movie maker, you're a best selling author. I mean how the heck does one person have time to do all this?

Nick: Oh man, I learned a long time ago that there are things that I'm good at things I'm terrible at, so I learned from pretty young age that if I wanted to succeed, just all about team building. I mean I was lucky to have incredible parents, still do, I had breakfast with my dad this morning. I think honestly what really drove me was a couple things. I talked about some of the stuff before, but every time I do an interview, for me it's like personal therapy because it sort of like helps me figure out what are the answers. [0:02:03.6]

It's hard to figure out. So a couple things happened in my life, we were immigrants, so we sort of, a bunch of my family moved to the Orlando area when I was one year old and I had an order brother and I had some uncles and aunts that moved, my grandparents, two sets of grandparents, my parents. So we had a tight family unit, but my dad opened up a furniture store in a little area of town that's now completely sort of changed to a very Asian neighborhood. So they knew that, in Barbados where we're from, it was going provide the opportunity that all these families wanted for their kids. They left good lives, they weren't wealthiest on the island, but you know, it's all they've known their whole lives. My family's been in Barbados for 300 years, my mom's side of family, and my dad's side, he's from an island called Saint Vincent. So they sort of gave up everything they had to come here. I would say we lived, they were always loving and optimistic, that's why they came, and if they were pessimists, they wouldn't have come here. But we also always had like a fair dose of scarcity, because sort of not having navigated the U.S. system, you never sort of knew what was going to come around any turn. [0:03:01.7]

So we had that, a really strong family unit with people who really cared, and then I don't know the exact age, but somewhere between eight and ten, 12, my dad and my uncles had owned a really big car franchise, Suzuki Motors. They brought the first one in Orlando, did really well for a couple years, got some really bad press that I still don't believe was fair, and sort of we went from having... I was never raised, definitely not on a silver spoon, but there's a few years where all of a sudden it went from dad's like selling beds and delivering furniture to like we can sort of go out to dinner and do some things like that. It was really interesting that my parents built their dream home 2400 square feet, so it's me, my brother, my parents, 2400 square feet, and my dad built a tennis court next to it because he used to have to walk uphill both ways, you know one of those stories, to play tennis when he was a kid. So he did that. Right around that time we sort of went from not being scarcity driven, completely just... Yeah, things just sort of going well to the bad press, and then I'll sum it up in this because it probably would be more of a movie script the way I'll sum it up, because I'm not sure we ever had this discussion, but essentially my recollection of it is my dad said, "You can achieve anything you want in life, you can get anything you want in life, I just can't do it for you right now, because I'm trying to hold a home together, trying to not go bankrupt, just trying to keep everything together, but I'm here for you, anything you need." [0:04:18.1]

My parents were awesome that way. The other thing they told my brother and I, because of sort of their mentality and education is so important them, "Get a profession both of you, no matter what you do, we don't care what you do." At the time my brother... Well my brother went in high school to be like a thespian actor, he won best playwright in the state of Florida two years in a row and he wrote one of them the night before he sent it in. So pretty talented dude.  I was playing tennis four hours a day, I've been in high school trying to go train to go the Olympics in Barbados if I could, and getting some scholarship offers, I got some injuries and stuff.  But I was a musician that was like my life.  I've been playing guitar since I was six, I was obsessed with music. So he wanted to go into acting and I wanted to go to music, basically. My parents, "No problem, just get a profession first." which is good advice, we're like, "Heck, no." [0:05:02.1]

Then my brother goes to med school, so I got to do something, so I went to law school, and I wasn't about to get into med school. I would say, so my formative years for my parents and like what came from all that just taught me, number one, that financial resources aren't what limits your ability, that's really limited way of thinking. And then second of all, with the right support systems and the right team around you, you can literally accomplish anything you want. I don't know that's a fair anything you want, because look, every one of us is born with certain gifts and certain weaknesses, but one of our mutual heroes, Dan Sullivan built a unique ability team work. So many people forget LeBron James plays basketball. If he wasn't a beast physically there's no way he'd be a basketball player. So we're just born, we're dealt our cards. You can get better at certain things. I can get better at basketball, but I'm never going to be 6 foot 11 and 450 pounds of solid muscle. Anyway, I'll stop rambling, but I sort of was given a healthy dose for me at young age of you can achieve anything, you probably can't do it on your own, but I already had a team of people around me supporting me in family life, but I guess as I grew in life I just tried to create that environment in anything I tried to do, and it's allowed me to just do a lot of cool, fun stuff. [0:06:15.8]

Jonathan: How'd you figure that out, that it was the collection of people around you that were going to help you get to that next level? What triggered that thought and how did you just continue growing it?

Nick: You know man, we can go a lot of different ways with that, and I don't have an exact answer, but I will tell an interesting story that I think did affect me a lot. One thing is as I started playing guitar when I was like 6, started writing at 16, put out my first record at 18, we both live in Orlando area, so when I was young, when I was in high school, Seven Mary Three and Matchbox 20 were like the two bands that blew up out of Orlando. So I started doing what you did back then, because we didn't have the internet, Prodigy was just coming along, all that sort of fun stuff, and you got books. So somehow I heard, I read in a magazine or whatever that like there's this one quintessential music business book called Everything You Need To Know About The Music Business by Donald S. Passman, he's a lawyer and you read it and it basically tells you sort of the way you need to go about doing things to get anyone to pay attention. [0:07:11.0]

The first thing it says is you need entertainment lawyer. You can not just go to a record label and say, "Give me a record deal." Now the funny part about that is that is true common parlance in many scenarios, but as we all know today, if I was as good as, I mean I'll use a funny, corny example, the guy's gifted, if I was as gifted as Justin Bieber at seven or eight or nine years old and he'd screwed around, found him on You Tube, if I was that gifted and I walked into the front door of a record label and started singing for the receptionist, I'd probably get a meeting, if I had enough things going on. So it wasn't the only way, but it taught me, okay, here's a way I maybe need to go about this. My family's not from here, we didn't have any entertainment lawyer connections, first of all. And it's Orlando, there is a little bit of Hollywood East uprising, but then didn't last long, as you know. So basically at the time I started flipping through the phonebook for entertainment lawyers, literally yellow pages and I called three or four guys, and no one would take my call because I sounded like, "Hello, I'm trying to hire..." They are busy. [0:08:06.1]

But finally this one guy takes my call and actually he's the guy who did all the record deals for Matchbox 20 when they were first starting out. He's a nicest guy on Earth, he's like, "Yea, couple things here and there." gave me a little bit of advice.  I was like, "Wow. So here's the thing, I know I'm probably not as good as I could ever be." By the way, so many people get depressed when they write a song or they paint a painting or they write a book and they think it's awesome and they sort of learn that it's not a number one Billboard hit or it's not a Van Gogh. First of all, let me flip your mind on that. If the first thing you ever did was your best, it'd be the most depressing in life ever. The process is the fun. You hear all the time, I have to remind myself, that's why I say it, because we're all driven for outcomes. So when I talked to him and I didn't know everything I needed to learn, but in order to get better I needed to be around people who are better, and I'm a 16 year old kid in the bedroom in Orlando, like what do I do, and first of all I knew that I could probably achieve something or be of value in that industry if I could just get a seat at the table, but no one even gave me sit at the table except for this one guy. [0:09:07.8]

Funny story, like 15 years later I was introduced to him at a Bible study, "I know exactly who you are, you're a good dude, you took my call." and I told him the story. Like that's awesome. But so, you know, you just want to say, "Hey, let me help you a little bit." and so from there I worked hard through college and law school to really build a network in music, and I've done in other areas, but my entire career now really has been built on the fact that I knew I had something, I didn't know what it was, I was 15, 16 years old, but I knew I was tenacious and I had learned certain skills, and if given an opportunity I could achieve something, but in order to achieve something you must be given a seat at the table to even have a voice. So a lot of the stuff I built in my agency of branding and positioning and they knew bestselling authors, played them on TV and making documentaries, and literally is just to make sure they have a seat at the table they deserve. So I just learned from that one interaction I would say, I figured out I definitely couldn't have this conversation or learn these things by myself, and he referred me to a couple other people, and then I met a guy through them to help me produce my record. [0:10:04.5]

I would guess that's the long story short answer, is I realized pretty quickly some of my shortcomings. I'm around people all the time and they have very bad perception of the world around them, that's something, it's hard to fix. But if you have good perception, if you like art or you listen to enough music and you write a song and if you keep up with it, you'll start realizing, well maybe even if I wrote the song, I don't know how to make it sound like it's on the radio, that's a different skill. And you try, I produced a bunch of records and I learned, I eventually learned, "Wait a minute, I've been playing the guitar since I was six, but there's guys who're just born with it in their hand. They may have stated last year, they're gifted at it. I can never play guitar like that guy's playing guitar, so why not just hire that guy instead of me trying. And why don't I just go find the best drummer and the best bass player and let me, oh my gosh, and now everything I do sounds incredible, because everyone in their position is incredible, so wait a minute, this is the best lesson ever in life why, don't we just put everyone in a seat where they're really talented and I look amazing when I do that, because I get credit for it, because I just put the right people in the right seats. So anyway, that's my answer. [0:11:05.8]

Jonathan: He's given us the secret to his success, just get the right people around you. You learned that early, huh? You learned that real early and you've been doing that year after year after year. I'm guessing, since your parents said, "You can have anything you want, we just can't help you now." that kind of left your mind, most of us grew up with a locked mind and a limit and a potential. So would you say that that inspired you or allowed you to have this crazy growth that you have now and the way that you think?

Nick: Yeah, and again, I don't know if they said that exactly, but they were very supportive, and it sort of came at a time in my life when I sort of woke up to, let's say culture and social norms around me when I started wanting cooler tennis shoes or certain, you know, at the time it was Billabong jacket, you know the stuff, the cool stuff that the cool kids were wearing, and there were starting to be social circles around stuff, and now that you live and die by that, but when you're nine, ten years old you're just trying to figure it all out, and in sort of that time when things started to matter to me and I actually started besides wanting a video game or something else, something that if I didn't get it was not going to kill me, and neither was a piece of clothing or shoes or whatever, but I realized, "No, no, I really want that." and so they're like, "Well, you're just going to have to work, you can weed garden beds, you can mow lawns, you can get it." [0:12:22.6]

So I figured out pretty quickly at 12, 13, "Wait a minute, that something for $25 or $30, well man, if I want something for $1000, what would that take?" So I realized pretty early on that money was an obstacle when you didn't have it, but there are ways to find it, there's ways to get it, and if there's a guy across the street, if I made an offer to mow his lawn for a number that was insignificant to him but way worth it for me, wait a minute, and so I think just subconsciously I figured out very early on that there's, you know, when you create value for somebody else, there's money to be had. I was driven to do certain things, I was competitive in playing tennis, and in music I wanted to win, so I just started looking for ways that I could be, I think as a teenager I start looking for ways I could be relevant in the world.  I think many of us did. And so I started finding, one of the things I had a lack of was money, and that's not an unusual thing at all, but a lot of things I wanted to do, record music, play tennis, they're expensive. [0:13:18.5]

So I just had to try to be resourceful and find different ways to do it, and I realized along the way, some of my shortcomings for sure, but most these things are not out of reach if that's really your goal. People tell me all the time they have a goal and then they do nothing every day to try to achieve it. Well okay, then it's a pipe dream, it's not really a goal.  So I think I just learned like a series of smaller ones I would guess by doing nothing I was completely out of reach, a series of smaller ones, I realized, "Wait a minute, you can build on this, and there's not a whole lot you couldn't... You should at least attempt to achieve if it's a goal." and I'll close that part in one statement because I like talking about it, Jack Canfield in the movie and it on him, most you know Jack from Chicken Soup For The Soul, sold 500 million books. In the movie he talks about a very simple quote, we've all heard from Walt Disney, and it's, "If you can dream it, you can do it." [0:14:03.4]

One of my favorite things about that is, first of all, another guy, I used to talk to him a long time ago, he had mentored me, a guy Dave Austin, he trained a bunch of Major League Baseball teams, he is a mental coach and he said one of the secrets to life is that everything easy to do is equally easy not to do, and so most of the profound things in life are not real difficult, but they're so simple we don't do them. So saying, "If you can dream it you can do it." is like so basic, must people snooze, snore, they won't even show after podcast. If they did, more successful for the rest of us, I'll tell you what I can give it. Look, the coolest thing about it is this is based on my, I don't care about your faith system, put I'll put it within mine, I do care about your faith system, but I won't push that on anyone right now, but if God gave you a dream and whatever you want to call it in your own language, then it's something you can achieve. So if you've had this dream of having, I don't know, a super car or a beach house or whatever, or starting a nonprofit or whatever it is, the more it scares you, the more it's for you. [0:15:01.2]

You're just scared of the fact, your subconscious is scared of the fact that you actually maybe could pull this off, but it would take an awful lot of effort, or in might take you becoming sort of a different person, doing things differently every day, surrounding yourself with different types of people. So one  of my favorite things, the more something scares me like that I don't want to deal with it, but if it keeps coming back to me, "That's a cool dream." and then by his words, I'm reminded, "Wait a minute, I wasn't given that idea just to be, 'That's cool.' I was given the idea to actually do something about it." So when you start operating in that plane, you of course can't do everything at once, but your brain starts, whether you're a really detail oriented, organized person, unlike myself, if you create a list or a vision board or any of that stuff, or your brain just starts keeping track of, "Oh yeah, that's that thing, oh yeah, that's that thing, oh yeah, that's that thing." you start accomplishing things because there's things, "Oh yeah, I can do that." and you start accomplishing that, and then that big thing keeps coming back, it just keeps coming back, and eventually you have to turn your attention to it or it'll eat you inside out, and we've all seen people who have lost their lives too early or have sort of grown hollow in their old age, and I think it's because they just deny their true purpose and the things they were supposed to be doing for so long, that it just ate them from inside out. [0:16:16.8]

Jonathan: Why do you think that is? Because I feel like it's more outside pressure or societal thing where you shut yourself down from those big dreams and say, "That's just silly, that's just silly." What is the difference between you and anybody else just saying the more it scares you the more it's for you? Like why do you think people shut down and don't take action?

Nick: I will give it, I will qualify that, because parachuting, skydiving scares the hell out of me. I promise you, that's not for me.

Jonathan: It's for you, brother.

Nick: That's what it's making me think about, like should I say it. I don't know, I think, look, we all have things happen in our life that become part of our story, become part of our self-talk, and I'm not particularly a, I'm not a personal development guy. I would say I haven't even intentionally studied that much personal development, but I've been surrounded in my movie making and my business by so many amazing people in that realm you just sort of, I mean just sort of pick up some of it by osmosis even. I would look, like again, similar story probably to a lot of other people, I had things that happened when I was a young kid that I thought weren't really, I didn't really deserved that or it wasn't fair, I had more ability than that. [0:17:25.1]
When you're in second or third grade and a teacher tells you to do something, there's not a whole lot you can do about it. One thing I remember, my third grade teacher, because she called me to do a multiplication fact, and I didn't remember, I didn't know. I couldn't figure out the fact that just at some point you just had to memorize them. I thought at some point they'd just make sense. I was like, "Well everyone else doesn't get it." But I didn't really want to put in the work to memorize it, I just figured it'll make sense at some point, so I didn't know the answer in front of class, he goes "You're so stupid." and as a third grade kid I will never forget it, I now have flipped the situation, I think, and said, you know, I'm thankful she did that because maybe she gave me something to prove, and so maybe my whole life I was trying to prove I wasn't stupid, and perhaps that drove me to do some things I've done. [0:18:07.8]

For me it's internal drivers, what are the things I want to achieve. And the funny thing is, I think to people who achieve, and again, all this is my limited perspective, I've definitely been to places in the world like Haiti, I'm going to Iraq coming up. I was given opportunity that many others weren't. My parents moved here, I was given food every day of my life, I had a place to sleep, I wasn't being oppressed, I don't have, as far as I know I don't have depression or anxiety. I have other things, I'm sure. So I don't want to discount, all I can do is just is when I give absolutes, is just my point of view. So I just want to qualify that. But you know, when I looked at the people who I know have the most freedom in life and do the most things, life is momentum. So someone who's been in the prison system for 10 years and gets out, the momentum of trying to go the other way is almost unbearable, because it's little decisions for a long time that make things go well or go badly. [0:19:06.4]

Or you and I, we've been working hard, we have businesses going well, we can have setbacks, we can lose money in the 2008 real estate crisis, I almost went bankrupt, but I fought back, but it was because I had enough wins in my life I didn't let it just destroy me and obliterate me, and so I just kept going. I just, I let it be a setback instead of destroying me. But the people I see in life who have achieved the most and experimented the most, it's amazing how much sort of freedom there is in it, because you realize that, like with me with music and film and now I've got a children's book series I'm working on, experimenting in those, for me those creative outlets allows me to see that wait a minute, even though it didn't work out the way I thought, as again, Dan Sullivan calls it, strategic by products, I end up learning something, I end up gaining a useful skill set, so I guess the reason why I was having .... so ADHD I was always doing a 1000 things at once, and a whole lot of them didn't come to fruition the way I maybe had hoped, but every time I hit a wall I learned how to turn. [0:20:07.3]

I realized that just continuing to walk into the same wall probably is not go work out, so I would turn, and I would hit another one, I'd turn. So eventually you find your way out of a maze, or you die of starvation, I guess. But like I had food, thankfully, so just kept hitting walls and kept moving and just trying to come up with unique answers to problems I was having, people were having, because we just live in such a time, like just such amazing abundance of opportunity, if you focus on it, I think you'll find it, and if you're focused on the scarcity, we all see the news and in everyday too, it's there, it's there to find, I just don't choose to go looking for it, and I think I've just done enough things and learned that there's sort of, you know, just something that I feel good about, I feel called to do, it'll help other people, I want to try it. Again, I learned that I should probably... Not probably, I definitely need to utilize skill sets of those around me who are better at certain things than me. Like I don't run a single team in my office, it's not my gift, just not for me. I can not get, it's not for me. [0:21:08.1]

Jonathan: I think that's maybe ego that gets in the way where some of us, entrepreneurs, think we have to do it all or we have to know it all, and there's this idea of surrendering. Somebody's brought this idea to me, surrendering, surrendering. Maybe I'm not good at that, and it seems to me whatever's going on in your growth, you're like, "I don't need to do any of that, I just need to do me." and that's an advance state that I hope our listeners at least get a taste of, just get a taste of that, because my man, you see, freer than anybody I have ever met, and talking to you, dude, I love it, I love it, I love it.

Jonathan: Guess what? Time is up for this week, I know you were just getting into that and I don't blame you, because it was just getting good, but we're trying to keep these episodes under half hour, so we split it up into two. We'll be back next week with part two of this interview. Make sure you tune in then, and if you love what you're hearing, why not share this episode with someone who will also love it? Thank you. Daddy's out.

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