Geoff Woods on The ONE Thing that Creates Extraordinary Results in Every Area of Life
Most people wake up, see their to-do list, and tell themselves that they have to get as many things done as possible. This is what today’s guest, Geoff Woods, calls The Lie of Productivity; the idea that everything matters equally.
If you want to win at investing (or any area of life), you need to focus on what matters most, not on everything.
Geoff is the Co-Founder & President of ProduKtive®, the training company behind The ONE Thing and the host of The ONE Thing podcast, which is in the top 5% of all podcasts in the world. He’s an advisor to executives ranging from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, helping them to design the future of work, and create cultures where people are clear on what matters most so they can achieve extraordinary results.
In today’s conversation, you’ll learn all about The ONE Thing, and how it’s helping people live more rewarding lives by building their careers, strengthening their finances, losing weight and getting in shape, deepening their faith, and nurturing stronger marriages and personal relationships.
We also discuss the wake up call that changed the trajectory of Geoff’s life forever, the power of your peer group and finding great mentors, core values, setting goals, and much more.
If you want to achieve extraordinary results, not only with investing, but in every area of your life, don’t miss today’s conversation with Geoff Woods!
Key Takeaways with Geoff Woods
- Why a “secure job” probably isn’t as secure as you think—and the wake up call that changed the trajectory of Geoff’s life forever.
- Why taking chances in life is so important. Don’t miss the story of how Geoff met his amazing wife!
- Getting intentional about surrounding yourself with the right peer group and mentors who will take your life to the next level.
- Why you can have everything in life you want, if you’re just willing to help other people get what they want. This is the formula Geoff used to team up with Gary Keller and Jay Papasan and become a Co-Founder of ProduKtive®, the training company behind The ONE Thing.
- What becomes possible when every person in your world is clear on the #1 priority, and wacks away at that lead domino?
- The lie of productivity — whereby everything matters equally. If you want to win in life, you need to focus on what matters most, not on everything.
- A funny story of how Geoff would command attention from a board room when he was a medical device salesman.
- The importance of knowing your core values — your compass for life. Don’t miss the exercise that will not only change how you lead your team, it will change how you lead your family. “What used to be a cause for conflict is now a catalyst for connection.”
- When’s the last time you set goals with the people you do life with?
- If you could only put ONE thing into action, and by doing it, everything else would become easier, what would that be?
How To Create Your Own Luck & Succeed In Life With Geoff Woods
Geoff Woods Tweetable“When you hold onto the wrong people in your life, what you're actually giving up is your future. You're actually giving up your dreams” - Geoff Woods Click To Tweet “There's no way that you can actually live an extraordinary life and achieve your goals if you do not enlist the support of the people you do life with.” - Geoff Woods Click To Tweet
- The ONE Thing
- The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
- Keller Williams
- The ONE Thing Values Deck
- The ONE Thing Podcast
- The ONE Thing Set My Goals
- The ONE Thing Core Values
- Conversations That Win the Complex Sale: Using Power Messaging to Create More Opportunities, Differentiate your Solutions, and Close More Deals by Erik Peterson
- Front Row Dads
- The French Laundry
- LinkedIn: Geoff Woods
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Read the Full Transcript with Geoff Woods
Justin Donald: Well, Geoff, I have to say, I am so excited for us to connect. We’ve been talking about doing this, having you on my show for quite some time now. And I’m glad that the stars have aligned, and we’ve been able to find some time in between both of our crazy travel calendars. So, welcome to the show, and thanks for spending some time with us.
Geoff Woods: Pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me, man.
Justin Donald: Yeah, this is going to be fun because it’s always a blast for me having people on the show that not only exemplify what it is that I look for in an ideal guest, meaning they have prioritized their lifestyle and they are focused on building something that is inspiring to them, but that I’m also good friends with. And so, you and I have gotten a chance to get to know each other so well over these past five years or so, four to five years. And it’s just been incredible.
We had just a total chance meeting at a Mastermind that you were running where Jon Vroman invited me as a guest, and I didn’t know who you were, you didn’t know who I was. And we just hit it off and had some great conversation and had some Franklin’s barbecue. In fact, that was the first time I’ve ever had the greatest brisket known to man or woman, which is Franklin’s barbecue. So, thanks for that introduction.
Geoff Woods: Oh, man. Now, you’re making me hungry.
Justin Donald: Yeah, that was cool. So, I know at one point in your life, you were running these Masterminds. You don’t really run these anymore, but you had this great collection of people that you were gathering and curating awesome content. And I’d love to talk a little bit about that. What was the purpose of that? Sometimes, when we do Masterminds, it’s often just as much for us as it is for other people. I’m curious what your purpose was in it, maybe why you don’t do it anymore, and if you may do some of the masterminding again in the future.
Geoff Woods: Yeah, so, it absolutely started out as something for me. I found myself at the time in medical device sales, which was an amazing job. I woke up every day, putting on scrubs, running through hospitals, selling a device to save lives, trying to get my wife Amy to call me McDreamy. She’s phenomenal at saying no, but I was at this point that I think a lot of your listeners have been or are at right now, which is they’re waking up happy and lacking fulfillment. Deep down, I knew I was happy, but I also knew I was meant for more. And that gap between where I was and where I wanted to be was painful for me. The problem was I had a very “secure job,” a great lifestyle, and I didn’t have a big enough reason why I needed to make a change.
Two things happened. A colleague of mine has a stroke at 35 years old. At the time, my wife and I had just bought a house in Orange County and had our first child, and she quit her job to become a stay-at-home mom. And I am realizing, holy smokes, if what happened to my colleague happens to me, what actually happens to my family? There’s zero passive income coming in the door. That was a wake-up call. And then the next week my company made a change to my commission structure and overnight, I lost 40% of my income. And that was the second whammy where I just went, holy smokes, you have a great job and you actually are not as secure as you think you are.
I was then introduced to the Jim Rohn quote, that you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. And I looked at my five and went, wow, I have five amazing friends. Here’s the problem. I had zero amazing mentors. That’s what set me on the journey, just to surround myself with the right mentors, and that became a side business where I started a podcast called The Mentee. I was recording my private conversations with my mentors who happened to be some pretty interesting people. And that’s what launched the Mastermind, because people were reaching out saying, “Hey, how do I get access to your mentors?” And so, I started hosting this Mastermind where my mentors would fly in, and we’d get to spend a weekend together just helping each other enrich each other’s lives. And that’s when you and I met.
Justin Donald: Well, you have some very notable mentors, and I’d love to jump into that here during our conversation today. Before we do, though, I also think it’s really cool that you met your wife at your previous job in your scrubs selling medical devices. And I love the story. Would you be willing to share that with our audience?
Geoff Woods: Sure. Sure. Yeah, sure. So, I had just gotten out of a four-year relationship. I am two weeks’ single and I remember waking up one morning wondering what hospital I needed to call on that day and I figured out which one it was. I rarely go there. There’s not a lot of business there. So, I made the drive. There’s only one department I’d have to call on. So, I get off the second floor to go to the recovery room, and as I’m turning the corner, I’m bracing myself because when I do go there, the recovery room is guarded by what I referred to as Godzilla. It was this woman I did not like very much. So, I’m bracing myself to meet Godzilla, and instead, I see Amy, and she’s the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen in my life.
So, I walked up to her, I asked her to page my appointment. And she asks, “Who are you?” And without missing a beat, I just said, “I’m the bladder scan man.” That’s just how I roll. So, the device to scan your bladder, very sexy, with some fun dinner parties. And so, she kind of looks at me, she goes, “Okay,” and she tries to page my appointment and she’s struggling with the phone system. And so, I did what every gentleman would do. I started heckling her. And she finally pulls out her cell phone, calls back there. I go and I have my appointment.
And on the way back out. As I walked by her, I just said, “Thank you.” And she gave me one of those smiles, you know that smile that a woman gives you and you just know, oh, my gosh, they are so interested in me. And so, I did what every newly single man would do, I kept walking and I got in the elevator, pushed the button, the door started to close. And in that moment, I think, Geoff, if you do not do something, you will never see her again.
And it was like a movie. I shoved my arm in between the doors. The doors closed on my arm, opened back up. I walked up to her and asked her if she wanted to go out sometime and without saying a word, she just lifted up a sticky note and slammed it down. It already had her name and number written on it because she was planning on asking me out, but she chickened out. So, the rest is history.
Justin Donald: That is awesome. I just love that story. I feel like our listeners are really going to enjoy, just the courage that it takes. It’s so funny because in the same moment, you can be a chicken and you can be like ultra-confident. And it’s great how you just flipped the switch there. And I really believe that that’s what you just need to do in life, that you need to make decisions at times in your life with total confidence, regardless of what the outcomes may be, but you’ve got to take that chance. And you did that. I think that’s great.
You also talked about the Jim Rohn quote, that you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. And that is so true. I’ve seen it in my own life. You talk to anyone that has been on, I mean, you talk to anyone at any point in life and just look at how that lines up. And it’s so accurate. So, I found that if people just kind of go through life on default, then they generally are not moving in an upward direction. They’re not moving towards what it is that they desire. And I know your message, what you do with The ONE Thing, and we’ll get into how you got there and how you became the VP of The ONE Thing, but I think that we have a very similar message on many levels. And I love the intentionality that you have had with placing people in your life that play the game of life, that play the game of business, that play the game of investing, that play the game of entrepreneurship at the next level or at a higher level than you. And I’d love to know, really, if you have any tips or strategies around that.
Geoff Woods: For how to find the right mentors?
Justin Donald: Yeah. Or even peer group, because I think it’s two tiers. Tier one is who are your friends that you are hanging out with and maybe they’re not friends initially. It’s like who do you kind of need to put yourself around and befriend? And then, secondly, it’s the mentors, right? It’s finding people that really can kind of elevate your game, elevate your thinking. And I’d love to know your thoughts there because you have done a great job of this.
Geoff Woods: Yes. This, and again, folks, I started a whole podcast and a whole company around this that I later ended up selling. Here’s what I’ve realized. Most of us, when you look at your peer group or your friends, they’re what I call friends of circumstance. Justin, circumstantially, you and I met. Jon brought you to one of my Masterminds. A lot of my friends, I went to a youth group, I participated in youth group with when we were kids, or we happened to be in the same fraternity in college. And we’ve maintained the relationship. It was circumstance that brought us together. And what I’ve realized is that at this stage in our life, the people that we need to surround ourselves with, sure, you can still have those people in your life, but they used to play the role where they were your everything, your best friend. You called for everything.
And now, each of us has grown in our careers and our development as husbands, wives, parents, and we need people who specialize. And your friends of circumstance may just play a role of being a friend, and it’s different than who you need to surround yourself with when it comes to where you need to grow. And that’s where you have to get purposeful. And what I have realized, whether it’s surrounding yourself with the right peer group or the right mentors before you even start looking, you have to ask yourself the question, where do I need help most right now when it comes to my development? What are the areas that I need to prioritize?
So, for me, on my journey, I knew at one point, I wanted to start a business, had no idea what kind of business, but I knew if I surrounded myself with successful business owners that owned big businesses, that made a big impact in the world, it would make my path to get there a lot faster and a lot easier. On the personal side, surrounding myself with other dads who I identify as being family men with businesses, not businessmen with families, who share the same values, who are ideally entrepreneurs as well. Very important to me. I wonder why you and I have hit it off, right? So, I think both you and I have been very purposeful in our relationship with each other because we’re both extremely ambitious, but we also both have a very strong moral compass and values. So, you have to get clarity on where you need the help first, then the search begins.
Justin Donald: Yeah, that’s great. And I think for people to understand, it’s just taking that first step. A lot of the people that are in my peer group today are people that were not even on the radar. They didn’t even know who I was. And I just slowly but surely kind of eased my way into different groups and connecting with different people and just through repetition and through proximity, I was able to kind of pull people into my sphere or get sucked into their sphere. And I think it’s important to recognize the intentionality behind that because it generally doesn’t happen. I mean, every now and again, you’re going to luck into just a great relationship where you grow together, but again, it’s what you said that based on circumstance versus based on proactive intentionality and really going after who it is that you desire to be like and to learn from and to share a mindset with.
Geoff Woods: And there’s a mindset shift that you have to happen. This kind of ties to the idea of The ONE Thing, the number one lie of productivity is that everything matters equally. It doesn’t. All the stuff that’s on your plate, they’re not of equal importance. The 20% drive the 80%. It applies to people, too. The challenges, people look at all the relationships they have and they think they have to maintain all of them. And then they want to fit in all these other new relationships and they feel like they have to spread their time so that they maintain all of them. It’s a mistake.
And what I have gotten clear on is that there are a minority of people that are going to deliver the majority of value and impact in my life. And I have to be willing to go out of balance and invest a disproportionate amount of my time and mindshare in those relationships because that’s where the greatest value is for both sides. That means looking at other relationships and somewhat putting them on autopilot or minimum viable maintenance. And there are others that you flat out, may have to cut altogether. I’ve done them all. And this is where people have a real hard challenge because they feel bad about doing it, but what they don’t realize is when you hold onto the wrong people in your life, what you’re actually giving up is your future. You’re actually giving up your dreams.
Justin Donald: That is a powerful statement. And sometimes, it’s like you just getting yourself on a flight, so that way you can be in someone else’s sphere and on their radar. And I have done this personally with a handful of people, but you speak just such true words there. I had a mentor once tell me that it is really challenging, if not impossible, to maintain more than 12 incredible relationships and that you really need to get clear on who those 12 are. And by the way, some people will have a hard time even getting to 12. Other people who are a lot more social in nature like you or I, we may have a ton of people, might be hard to kind of dial down to 12, but if we’re to adequately grow kind of like a cabinet of our 12 closest relationships, I think it’s important to identify who those are. And I do that every year.
My wife and I do that with the couples that we want to be intentional with. I do that with the people, just single relationships that I want to be intentional with. And then I think that there is an importance also to picking your inner circle, who are your three to five that really play the highest degree or highest level role of impact and influence because that really is who’s going to shape you ultimately.
Geoff Woods: Let me give you a perfect example of this. This literally happened yesterday. Some of our friends here in Denver invited us to go on vacation with them in December. My wife and I were talking about it after they left our house. Like it feels nice to be invited. It sounds like so much fun. And I looked at her and I said, “This is going to be the only vacation that we take this year with friends.” And I literally said to her, “If you had to choose between going on vacation with those people or the Donalds, who would you choose?” I actually threw your name out there, and she went, “Oh, Donalds, no question.” I said, “So, why are we settling for circumstance instead of what we actually want?”
Justin Donald: Well, thank you.
Geoff Woods: And she just went, “Good point.” And that’s why you and I are going to share about it, and our wives can sleep.
Justin Donald: I like it. Well, thanks for the kind words. And obviously, we love doing life with you guys. And it’s important to pick those people who you want to do life with. And that’s what I call it, doing life with. And it’s not just about doing business. It’s not about just the warm fuzzies of, like, topical conversation or surface-level conversation, but it’s who are the people that you want to walk arm in arm with that you’re willing to share the good and the bad with that when things aren’t going well, but you can be open and honest about it because true depth in a relationship only comes from vulnerability and trust and time spent.
Geoff Woods: Well said. Well said.
Justin Donald: So, I’d love to know a little bit more about your story. And actually, I know your story, but I want our listeners to know more about it because I think you have an incredible story. So, you started a business, you sold that business. I’d like to learn more about that with The Mentee podcast. And then you started The ONE Thing or helped grow The ONE Thing from kind of where it was at the beginning in inception to the massive brand that it is today. So, talk us through this.
Geoff Woods: So, let’s rewind. My colleague has had a stroke. My income has been slashed by 40%. I’ve launched The Mentee to record conversations with my mentors and hopefully, document my journey going from an employee to entrepreneur. Two months after I launched the show, it’s our national sales meeting. I walk into this big ballroom. There’s like 1,500 chairs and on every single chair was a copy of The ONE Thing, the book, never heard of it, looked at the cover, I was like, “Oh, that looks kind of cool.”
And then, Jay Papasan, who co-authored the book with Gary Keller, walked out on stage. And for the next hour, Justin, he blew my mind. He was sugaring why The ONE Thing is the surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results and how Gary used this to live his life. I mean, he literally started Keller Williams back in the 80s in Austin. It was this small little company, and he had ambitions of making it the largest real estate company in the world. And when he started living the principles of The ONE Thing, that’s when it happened.
And the whole time I’m sitting in the audience going, if I want to upgrade my five, what would my life look like if Jay was one of my five? What would my life look like if Gary were one of my five, which I could not comprehend? Yet, when Jay finished speaking, he gets a standing ovation, and when everyone everybody sat down, I found myself standing. I was the only person in the room still standing. And it was one of those defining moments where my mind was telling me to do one thing, but my heart was pulling me in a different direction. My mind is saying, “Geoff, sit down.” And my heart is saying, “Geoff, go.”
Before I knew it, I’m literally sprinting down the ballroom and I intercept Jay. And that began a conversation. I thanked him for the speech. I told him I was at this crossroads and how much value I’ve gotten from him. And I asked him, “Out of everything you’re focusing on right now, where do you need help most right now?” Notice I did not say, “Jay,” get down on one knee and say, “Jay, will you mentor me?” No, did not ask that. I asked out of everything he and Gary were focusing on, where did they need help most right now? And how might I be able to help? They said we’re actually looking for more exposure for the book. He had no idea that The Mentee was in the top 20% of podcasts in the world.
So, I told him and I said, I’ll interview you, and he goes, “Heck yeah.” At the end of the interview, what are you focusing on? How can I help? More exposure. So, I got him booked on all these other people’s podcasts because I have a lot of relationships with our podcasters. And then I circle back a month later. What are you focusing on? How can I help? More exposure. He had no idea I was writing for Entrepreneur.com at the time. I just wrote an article and blasted it on social. I saw him sharing all I post. So, I tweeted back, which I do not tweet, that maybe like the only tweet I’ve ever sent. What are you focusing on? How can I help? That’s when he said Gary and I are looking for a CEO for a publishing company. When he said that, I went, well, that’s not me, but I immediately thought of a few people that it might be a fit for.
And so, in that moment, I offered to play super-connector. We got on the phone, he described who he’s looking for and he shocked me, Justin, because he did not describe the people that I was in a relationship with, he described me. And the rest is history. So, November 1, 2015, I moved my family from Southern California to Austin. And Gary, Jay, and I co-founded ProduKtive, which is the training company behind The ONE Thing.
Justin Donald: That’s such an incredible story. And I love just the difference in the heart-tugging you in one direction, your mind logically telling you, stop doing this, and there’s this conflict, but the first thing that you said is how can I offer value to you? How can I show up as a resource to you? And I think that a lot of people missed the mark there. That is such a great intro. It’s such a great icebreaker. I mean, such a powerful way to do it. And it’s so cool.
I mean, Jay’s story is incredible, too. In fact, I’ll need to have Jay on the show at some point in time here soon also, but what a cool experience for you to have Jay Papasan and Gary Keller as mentors that you work arm in arm with, that you get to talk with very regularly. I mean, there are people that would drop just ridiculous amounts of money to get time with either one of these, especially Gary with the business he’s built in, Keller Williams, and all the additional kind of underlying companies and businesses. What’s that like?
Geoff Woods: I remember asking Jay when I flew into Austin for the in-person interview and I asked him and his wife, what’s the greatest gift you’ve gotten from being in business with Gary? And he and his wife simultaneously without hesitation, said, “Thinking bigger.” Gary has an ability to say profound things that are so simple. When he says it, it like slides by, and then it’s like after you take a sip of really good wine where you get the finish, you’re like, oh, that is so good. It’s after he says that you go, wait, what did he just say?
For me, what it has done is it has collapsed time, and what I mean by that is had I gone out of my own to try to start my own thing and figure out my expertise and build up validity, it would have taken, honestly, more than a lifetime to have learned what was handed to me on a silver platter from Gary, because with Keller Williams, Gary knew if he wanted to scale the company, it wasn’t about him. It was about him taking timeless models and systems that produce extraordinary results and being able to scale that across a franchise, a bunch of volunteer armies. He does not control them. So, for him to give me these systems, what does it take to build a multibillion-dollar company? What does it take to attract and retain the best talent in the world? What does it take to create a culture of clarity, focus, prioritization? It got handed on a silver platter. And I literally was told one thing, the fastest way you get out of business with us is to not live the book, so just start living what we’ve had to do. And that was my job, to start living the principles.
Fast forward, I’m five and a half years into being a practice leader of this. Not only has it changed my life, but it’s put me in the position where, I mean, I advise senior, senior executives of Fortune 500 companies on the future of work. How to create clarity, prioritization, focus inside of organizations? Not because I’m the guru, I just know the models and the systems.
Justin Donald: Yeah, one thing that’s really cool about you, Geoff, is you are able to embody very well a concept, a framework. I mean, you can take it and just charge with it. And I think that that’s really cool. And something else that I want to point out because not only do you have this awesome mentorship with Jay and with Gary, but let’s talk about Wendy Papasan for a moment. She’s an incredible woman. That’s like where you have a couple that’s like this, you get this plus one that’s just as talented or in many instances, more talented than her husband. And what a cool one-two punch those two are.
Geoff Woods: Yeah, she’s a firecracker for sure.
Justin Donald: Yeah. It’s interesting with the exposure that you have had, you do meet some pretty high-profile people. You meet high-level executives. You speak to large organizations, Fortune 500, Fortune 100. It’s so cool just where all you’ve been called around the US to different types of functions. I don’t know if you’re allowed to share any of those, but I’d love for our listeners to know if you’re able, some of the organizations that were the most fun to go to or maybe that you were surprised that you had the privilege and honor of being able to share The ONE Thing with them.
Geoff Woods: Yeah, I’ll share one that I got legal approval to share this story on The ONE Thing podcast, so I can share it here. It’s FedEx. So, I did a session for some of their top officers and directors back in August of 2019, and I was sharing the principles. And one guy, Bob, he’s the VP of Airline Technology. So, he literally built all the tech that allows the planes to fly, load and unload packages. It’s a massive job. He has a huge organization under him.
And when I was talking about this idea of The ONE Thing, he had this visual of his business. There’s this freeway in China that’s 50 lanes wide. And every day, traffic backs up for miles because it leads up to a tollbooth. And he said, “Geoff, that’s what my org looked like. Every car in the traffic jam represented another thing that we had to do.” And he found himself asking, “What’s our one thing? If we can only do one, what’s the one that if we do that, everything else becomes easier or unnecessary?” And he realized, it was this car at the very back of the traffic jam, which was to create the first paperless cockpit in the world. His realization was that had been on his list for six years.
And for six years, it had just been inching forward. The most important thing just inching forward because of everything else that was getting said yes to. He found himself asking, “Okay, how do we create a fast lane?” And so, we have a framework for how you create focus and a plan so that everybody literally understands the one thing and marches toward it every day. Justin, guess how long it took them to accomplish that priority when it had been sitting there for six years and just inching forward?
Justin Donald: On a big organization like that, I would want to say a year, but it likely is just a handful of months, I would imagine.
Geoff Woods: Two weeks.
Geoff Woods: Which I was doubtful when he shared it, but if you really ask the question, what becomes possible when every person in your world is clear on the number one priority and every day whacks away at that lead domino? And the coolest part was the impact of what happened during COVID because they fly to 220 different countries, and all these countries started changing their regulations. And what Bob shared was, had they not figured out how to create clarity and focus in the organization, how to have that fast lane, it could have grounded the airline, but they were able to put a fast lane in place and get all the pushes out on the engines that they need to. What would have happened if FedEx could not have delivered the COVID vaccines across the globe?
Justin Donald: Wow.
Geoff Woods: So, that’s a great example of what happens when you have clarity and focus. And most of you who are listening to this, to our leaders, are not leaders of Fortune 100 or Fortune 500 companies. The reason I share this with you is that the majority of our time is actually invested with smaller businesses, and like the 10 to 200 million range, all you need to know is this scales up to the biggest of the biggest, and it can start at any phase.
Justin Donald: Yeah. And it’s interesting because most of the time, we don’t know what the one thing is because we haven’t spent, and I’m guilty of this, we haven’t spent enough time actually figuring out what that is, but often when we do know what the one thing is, sometimes it’s just such a heavy lift or at least we believe it’s such a heavy lift that it stays on the list for the six years, like with FedEx. And it’s like, oh, man, I know we should be doing this, but gosh, this lift just seems so challenging, but when you get everyone on board and everyone working in tandem, it’s amazing what can happen.
And I appreciate you sharing that story because I know that there are a lot of NDAs that you sign. You do work with groups, and I will be just as vague and leave it at groups, the word groups because there are organizations and groups that you work with that are so unique, so interesting, so high level. And I just love the fact that part of your job is kind of like a top-secret CIA, like you just can’t talk about it.
Geoff Woods: I pinch myself that I get to do what I get to do every day, I mean, even this morning I was on the phone. It’s one of the largest steel manufacturers in the world based out of India. And they got 40,000 people. And I’ve been advising the chairman of the board for the last year. And this morning, we invested two hours where we went over his business plan and just drilled clarity in alignment across the top 100 leaders. And he looked up at the end and he said, “This is the most simple and most powerful experience I’ve ever had in my career.” And again, this is actually not about me. This is a testament to Gary. This is a testament to surround yourself with the right people who can hand you the models of how to approach success that just gets to scale. And I feel honored that I get to be a megaphone for it.
Justin Donald: Yeah, that’s amazing. I know that you speak a lot and I thought it’d be really fun to share the story. I don’t want to steal your thunder. And some of the people listening here maybe have heard you speak. I would imagine most haven’t, but one of my favorite things that you do, to kick off a message, and I have been able to see you speak before and keynote an event. I’ve been in the audience and I love your opening kind of series where you show up and you start pulling things out of your bag and all of a sudden…
Geoff Woods: Scavenger hunt.
Justin Donald: You pull out a pair of handcuffs. And people just look at those, and you drop them heavily. They make a big noise. People just look. I mean, walk us through this, because this is hysterical. I was laughing till I had tears in my eyes.
Geoff Woods: Yeah. So, one of the things we do to help people understand the number one lie, which is the lie of productivity, the lie that everything matters equally, is we haven’t gone on a scavenger hunt. We show a list of items and we tell them your goal is to get as many points as possible in the least amount of time. And I give them 90 seconds to get as many points as possible in the least amount of time. There are like 20 items on this list, and each item has a point value. And you see people get up and start running around like a chicken with their heads cut off, trying to get as many different things.
My favorite is when like the women are reaching in their back and they’re like lipstick, I’m successful. And we have them tally up their points. And what’s amazing is you’ll have people like, I got 10 points. I got 20 points. I got 30 points. I got 1,200 points. I got 12,000 points. And people always look at those people and go, “Cheater,” but we asked the question, what was the goal? The goal was to get the most points possible. It was not to get as many different items. And there’s actually one item on the list that if you just went after that one, it’s taking a selfie, striking a one thing pose, like hold up a number one and just take a bunch of selfies. You put your phone on burst mode and you take the selfie over and over and over again. The current champion got over 12,000 points.
And the message is this is what’s indicative of our current life. We wake up every day, seeing all the things that are on our plate, and tell ourselves the story that we have to get as many things done as possible. And that’s the lie. The goal is to make the biggest impact with the time that you have. You want to talk about investing, investing your time, and getting the highest ROI possible, and that does not come from doing everything. It comes from doing the most important things.
Justin Donald: Yeah, so, it’s very obvious that most people have their to-do list, they check off the easiest ones, the often least consequential lowest value ones, but you did not answer my question on the handcuffs.
Geoff Woods: Oh, you want to know about the handcuffs?
Justin Donald: Yes.
Geoff Woods: So, the handcuffs, you’re blending two stories together. So, there’s the scavenger hunt, then there’s what I used to do on medical device sales, which is I read this book, for any of you who have to present or sell, a book called Conversations That Win the Complex Sale, a great book. We had the people who wrote the book out a few times do training for us. And it’s like the moment you put a PowerPoint slide up, brain shut off, they’re trying to shut off. And so, what I learned was how do you leverage drawing, doodling, and props to command attention?
So, what I used to do in medical device sales is I would walk into a board room filled with doctors and nurses, walked to the front of the room. They’d all be judging me like, who’s this chump wearing scrubs? And I would put my bag on the table and I’d pull out a pair of real handcuffs and I’d hold him about a foot off the table and drop them. And they would make this loud, and then I would just continue to set up. And I could literally count in my head 1,001, 1,002, what are those for, always within 30 seconds. It was always a nurse, by the way, who asked, and it was always the doctors who were smiling.
And I would just say, “You know, great question. We’ll get to that.” And then I would open up my presentation. And the entire time, people were on the edges of their seats wondering what are the handcuffs for, and then I would help them understand how the current technology they were using were handcuffing them to managing the technology instead of their patients, and we were actually the key.
Justin Donald: I love it. Talk about an attention-getter. I just love your creativity when you speak. You do such a great job, and I’ve had the pleasure of hearing you speak on several occasions. In fact, one of the things that I enjoy talking about the most is the core values exercise that you’ve done for many groups, the Front Row Dads. I’d love to know just even a short summary, a short synopsis about the value and importance of knowing your core values.
Geoff Woods: We all know what it feels like to have goals and we all know what it feels like to take action every day and to be dissatisfied with our progress. And part of the reason that that exists is every day we make decisions, and our values are like a compass for our life. If you do not have a compass, you don’t know which way is true north for you and you can suddenly be climbing a ladder without realizing it’s leaning up against the wrong wall. And when you get clarity on what your top core values are, you suddenly understand what true north is. You understand why you make the decisions you make. You understand why certain decisions in your life have struck a chord in a positive way with you, and certain things have really undermined or felt almost like a violation to you. The problem is people don’t know what their top three core values are.
So, this is something that we did a lot of research on and we curated 140 different core values and we created a deck. It’s a core values deck. It’s one of the most powerful experiences we do when we host a couples’ goal-setting retreat every year. And we literally have these couples sit down individually, each with their own deck, and they just look at a core value, integrity. Is that one of my core values, yes or no? And they put them into different piles.
Justin, I was amazed and I watched you do this, and you clearly put handcuffs in the yes pile, you keep coming back to it. I don’t know why. What’s funny is we did this at the Dads Retreat for Front Row Dads. And you go from like 140 down to 100 down to 50, and we get you down to three, and you have to rank them in order of priority. So, for Jay, I know his, our family, impact, and abundance in that order. So, any decision that comes up, how does it impact my family? How does it affect my ability to make an impact in the world? How does it affect my ability to have an abundance or deliver abundance?
My top three are growth, recognition, and impact. My wife is order, safety, and experience. And understanding that about your significant other is a game-changer because there are things that were causing real tension in my marriage. It’s like, why is my wife such a neat freak? Like, she’s OCD about things to a fault. Why is she acting like such a helicopter Mom? Why can’t she just be grateful when we go out for a date in a restaurant? Why does she have to talk about all these other things we have to do? Order, she wants things to have its right place at the right time. Safety, she wants our kids to be safe. Experience, she doesn’t just want a meal, she wants an experience. The moment I understood her core values, what used to be a cause for conflict was a catalyst for connection.
Justin Donald: That’s powerful. What used to be a cause for conflict was a catalyst for connection. I love that. That is so powerful. This is an exercise that Jennifer and I have done, and it’s so neat to kind of just understand how someone is wired and what is a priority to them. It’s absolutely incredible when you have this clarity and say, “I understand you better. I understand your view of the world and why you show up the way that you do. And it helps me to interact better and to support my spouse and other people that are really important in my circle of influence.”
Geoff Woods: So, here’s what we’ve discovered. One, you get to know yourself better. Two, you get to know your spouse better. Three, what are the core values of your company? What are the core values of your team? What are the core values of the people on your team? I literally have been org chart of our organization with the title, the name, and their top three core values. It changes how you lead people. And we saw this with the Dads group. There are some guys who started sharing the deck with their kids where every day, the kids pull a card and they talk about what does impact me? What does integrity mean? What does family mean? And that has been a spark for so many amazing conversations.
Justin Donald: Yeah, no kidding. And when I just spent time with my family, I was in Chicago this past week, and we were talking about this exercise. So, I ordered them The ONE Thing Values Deck. And I’m so excited for them to be able to get into it and kind of help guide them through this activity.
Geoff Woods: Love you, man.
Justin Donald: Yeah. So cool. So, before we started this call here, this episode, we were talking about wine. One of the things that you and I have had a lot of fun with is some good quality wine, right? And in fact, you know that one of my favorites is PlumpJack and that whole family, CADE, and Odette, and one of the ones that we’ve enjoyed together, Adaptation, but I mean, we’ve gotten into, I think, each of these bottles at some point in time. And I know that you are a big fan of Napa reds as well, and Napa Cabs specifically.
And so, we’ve got a trip. We are sharing this because I’m going with a bunch of friends to Napa, actually a bunch of people that were very early podcast’s guests, I’m going with each of them and their spouses, and we’ve got this incredible lineup where we’re going to go to French Laundry and we’re going to go to SingleThread. If you haven’t checked these out, I mean, these are epic, epic restaurants, and we have these really fun private tasting set up. And I just think, like, one of the things that makes me smile is whenever we get together, there’s often having a really fun wine with a good story. And you and I, we can just pick up exactly where we left off. So, I appreciate that very much about you. And we’ve had some good times over some good red wine.
Geoff Woods: Well, you know what I call your house?
Justin Donald: What?
Geoff Woods: Santa’s workshop. That’s where all the presents are.
Justin Donald: I love it. I love it. Yeah, there’s quite the collection that always needs help to be consumed because, for me, wine is a way to just share connections and grow a relationship. I don’t generally have wine by myself. I love to bring people in. I love to share with them the favorites that I have. And you’re one of many people that really care about good wine, fun wine. And so, we’ve had just some really cool hearts to hearts over great wine.
Geoff Woods: Yeah, man, it’s one of my favorite things to do.
Justin Donald: It is a blast. Well, we’ll have to get something on the calendar. I know we’re shooting for something here last week, and it didn’t end up working out, but we’ll get something in pretty soon. Question for you, what else do you want to make sure to share with our audience as we’re kind of wrapping up our interview today? This has been just a killer session. I appreciate your time and your wisdom and your expertise. What else do you want to make sure that our audience knows?
Geoff Woods: Here’s something that we have discovered along the way. The ONE Thing was written for the professional, the professional that sits in the cubicles. It’s now the highest-rated business book of all time. And it’s gone on to help everybody. If you’re listening to this show, if you’re a fan of Justin, it tells me a lot about you in terms of your ambition, your drive, your focus. And here’s what we’ve learned. There’s no way that you can actually live an extraordinary life and achieve your goals if you do not enlist the support of the people you do life with. We discovered this, I mentioned earlier, every year we facilitate a couples goal-setting retreat. The reason we started that was because we facilitate these goal-setting retreats for executives, for companies, but this is not just about a great career. It’s about an extraordinary life.
And one of the things that we have found is that most goal setters are married to somebody who is not a goal setter. If you have a significant other that is a goal setter as well, you are the exception, not the rule. And if you both are not clear on what each other’s goals are, there’s no way that you can continue to grow together, you naturally grow apart. So, as you follow Justin on your journey of investing in assets that revolve cash flow for you to give the type of lifestyle, obviously, you have other goals you’re considering. I would ask you the question, when’s the last time you set your goals with the people you do life with? And I’m going immediately take you off the hook, and the majority of you, the answer is never. If you have done it, you’re already ahead. And that needs to be a priority.
Few objections that pop up when I say this one, my significant other is not a goal setter. How do I get them interested in this? You do not position it as a goal-setting retreat. You position this as you matter to me, and I’ve realized I don’t actually have clarity on what’s most important to you in our life together, and I want to know because I want to be your biggest cheerleader and I want to be able to support you on that. And I don’t think I’ve done the best job of communicating what’s important to me with my goals in my life, and I’d love you to know that. So, let’s do this experience together.
And I can point you to a free resource to help you with this. If you go to The1Thing.com, that’s number one. In the URL, under Learn, you’ll see a thing about Free Stuff. We have an actual guide. It’s a kick ass guide, your couples’ goal setting retreat. It’s all these questions that the two of you can just get out of your normal environment and just ask yourself these questions. You will have such deep, meaningful conversations. That’s before you even get into the framework of the retreat, which if you want to learn about that, go to The1Thing.com/SetMyGoals. We facilitate it every November. It’s one of the best things we do. And a free training on the core values, I’ll point to that as well, The1Thing.com/CoreValues.
Justin Donald: I love it. Well, that is fantastic. I love you sharing that. I mean, you know this, we’ve talked about this many times. The last decade, my wife and I have done an annual planning day where we have an outline. And by the way, this is available on my website at JustinDonald.com, if you go to the free resources. And in my opinion, it is so important to plan and strategize and have clarity with your spouse, your significant other, just so that you’re on the same page. So, I love that. Where can we find you online, Geoff?
Geoff Woods: Where can you find me online? If you Google Geoff Woods, G-E-O-F-F, I pop up first. So, you’ll find my LinkedIn right there. That’s probably the best way to message me directly is through LinkedIn. Our website is The1Thing.com with the number 1. And if you’re in the podcast, which you clearly are, check out The ONE Thing podcast. We have an episode every week where we tell stories of people who are achieving more by actually knowing their focus by doing less.
Justin Donald: I love it. Thanks so much for sharing the time with us here today. You’ve just been an awesome guest. Of course, I knew that. We were going to have a ton of fun. It’s always just a pleasure to catch up in general. And I want to share with my audience just the message that is so imperative that I share at the end of every episode, and that is to take some form of action today. Even if it’s a small step, just move towards financial freedom and move towards living a life that you’re truly passionate about, one that’s on your terms, one that’s not by default, but one by proactive intention and being deliberate in kind of achieving and creating what it is that you desire to live. So, take action today, check out Geoff. And it looks like you have something else you want to share.
Geoff Woods: So, here’s the question you can ask yourself to help with that. Based on everything you’ve heard in this episode, if you could only put one thing into action, what’s the one thing you can do? So, by doing it, everything else would be easier or necessary. Search for that answer. I don’t know is not acceptable. Rewind the episode, listen to the question again, pause it, and search for an answer. I promise if you give yourself the space to search, you will arrive at an answer, then you’re just going to knock the domino down.
Justin Donald: I love it. What a great way to wrap this up. So, thanks again. And we’ll talk with you all next week.