This week on the Digital Marketing Podcast, Ken Burke of The EntrepreneurNOW! Network, and author of Prosper: 5 Steps to Thriving in Business & Life joins Erik and Tim to discuss the keys to personal and professional success.
Ken explains that the first step on the journey to personal and professional success is defining what success means. He says, “I would start with my definition of success if I didn't have one already, and/or I had one 20 years ago. By the way, most people don't have a definition of success. It's assumed upon them. What's your definition cause there's no right way, by the way, to live life? So, the point is that you have to start where you are. Definition of success is a great place to start, number one.”
The definition of success is unique to each individual and must be evaluated and modified regularly. Ken describes, “…you get to define your definition of success. Nobody else. You get aligned with your definition of success, all of the sudden happiness ensues. As soon as you're clear that you don't have to be something or do something that you may or may not want to do. Define success for you as it is today. I think it's very, very important, and not enough people focus on what their definition of success is. One last thing you have to define this and redefine it every year. It is important that you relook at this and assess it every year.
Listen to this week’s episode to learn about ways to developing personal and professional success.
About the Guest:
Ken Burke, founder and CEO of the EntrepreneurNOW! Network. He is a highly successful serial entrepreneur, sought-after guest speaker, mentor, and published author.
Ken's background is in software, which led him to found MarketLive; a market-leading, enterprise-class Ecommerce software that generates more than $2 billion in annual sales globally through major retailers across the globe. He sold MarketLive to Vista Equity Partners in 2016.
In 2021, Ken authored the book “Prosper - 5 Keys to Thriving in Business and Life." In addition to his book, Ken has hundreds of published articles and has spoken at over 300 industry events spanning his 21 years in the eCommerce industry.
As an eLearning Instructor, Ken has more than 30 courses published on major eLearning platforms such as LinkedIn Learning, Forbes, and Future Learn.
Ken graduated with honors from the USC Marshall School of Business with an MBA in Entrepreneurship. The school later awarded him with the honor of Entrepreneur of the Year.
Tim Curtis: [00:00:00] Hello, and welcome to this edition of the Digital Velocity Podcast. My name is Tim Curtis with CohereOne,
Erik Martinez: and I'm Erik Martinez with Blue Tangerine.
Tim Curtis: And today on the program, we're welcoming Ken Burke, founder and CEO of the EntrepreneurNOW! Network. He's a highly successful serial entrepreneur. He's a sought-after guest speaker, mentor, and a published author. Ken's background is in software, which led him to form MarketLive, a market-leading enterprise-class Ecommerce software that generates more than 2 billion in annual sales globally through major retailers across the globe. He sold MarketLive to [00:01:00] Vista Equity Partners in 2016.
In 2021, Ken authored the book "Prosper: 5 Keys to Thriving in Business and Life." In addition to his book, Ken has hundreds of published articles and has spoken at over 300 industry events spanning his 21 years in the Ecommerce industry. As an e-learning instructor, Ken has more than 30 courses published on major e-learning platforms, such as LinkedIn Learning, Forbes, and Future Learn.
Ken graduated with honors from the USC Marshall School of Business with an MBA in entrepreneurship. The school later awarded him with the honor of Entrepreneur of the Year. So, Ken, welcome. Good to have you here.
Ken Burke: Well, Tim and Erik, great to be here. I'm really excited about today's conversation.
Tim Curtis: Great. So, I read a little bit of your bio and we're getting just sort of a little taste of you, but why don't you tell us a little bit more about yourself. You know, maybe some things the audience doesn't necessarily know about you.
Ken Burke: I think one of the things that's interesting about me is I'm all about growth and growth [00:02:00] in any regard, whether it's personal development growth, or growth in business as well. I kind of merged the two worlds together and that's really become my passion is working with entrepreneurs and business leaders and helping them with their growth, whether it's in business or personal cause I think it goes together. In order to be successful in business, you gotta have things right in the personal world. Otherwise, it makes it really challenging.
Unfortunately, what a lot of executives do is they bring all the stuff that they learned from when they were a kid, all of the, I'm not gonna say bad habits because I don't want to judge it, but habits that they learned as a kid come right into the relationships they have at work, and whether they're the CEO or a C-level executive, or they're a mid-level manager or just an employee, all of that has to work.
Think about being married to you know, a hundred, two hundred, three hundred of your coworkers, as opposed to your, you know, spouse. So, the same stuff holds true. It's all the same stuff. We bring us with us wherever we go. So, those interactions just get multiplied in the workplace. So, understanding that and getting yourself a little bit more [00:03:00] in alignment with what we're really here to do can really help in your work life as well as your personal life. It goes both ways. They're intertwined because we're humans.
Tim Curtis: How has that impacted your journey? How have you pulled that into your journey or is that a synopsis of your own journey?
Ken Burke: Yeah, a little bit of a synopsis of my own journey, my own observations, but also just being on this path of learning and growth and development.
So, one of the key tenants in the book, as well as one of the key tenants in my life, is that the only purpose that we're here is to grow, learn, and develop and everything emanates from growth. So, if we understand that everything emanates from growth, I can start to tie things together that say, and now I understand why that's happening.
You know, I had a big failure in my business. I had multiple failures in my business, personally, but I believe, actually one of my tenants of life, is you can't fail. It's impossible to fail if you're learning, you're growing, or you're developing, and that's a really key thing, and I like to say, as well, is along the way of our journey that we're serving people. We're either building businesses possibly. That is serving people, and that making the [00:04:00] world a better place, or maybe we're directly serving people, or maybe we're just mentoring people on their journey as well through the workplace or through our personal lives.
All of that is giving back. There needs to be a giving back component, I think, at least in my definition of success and my definition of life as well. I'm very big about what lens we look at things through, and so I'm continually trying to refine my lens, learn new things, make new distinctions, and that's really the impetus of the book and my journey, as well, overall, is continuing that growth. That's my theme.
Erik Martinez: So, Ken, why do you think this message is so important for business leaders, managers, and executives? I know you're heavily focused on entrepreneurship, but the things in your book apply to a much wider audience and to digital executives who are the people that we're talking to on a day-to-day basis. So, why is that message so important?
Ken Burke: Well, first of all, 25 years of my life was working with digital executives and being a digital executive as well. So, I kind of get the mindset a little bit. I come from the tech [00:05:00] world. Some of your listeners might be in the marketing world. They might be on the retail side or the brand side as well, but just having that perspective, I think emanates through the book, but you know, what's really important is having this idea of joy, happiness, and fulfillment in your life every day.
So, it emanates to everybody. I don't care in your personal life, in your business life. It all has to go together. Everybody's definition of success is different, but maybe you have a definition of success that says I want to be successful in the business that I'm running or the business that I'm working in, and I want to continue to evolve that overall, you have to do that on a journey that's going to fulfill you each and every day and make you happy as much as possible. As opposed to the struggle. So, if you have a mindset that says, hey, I got to struggle through this in order to get to the top, but once I'm there at the top, I'm good. I've got it. Guess what?
Tim Curtis: You never get there.
Ken Burke: As soon as you get there and I've been there, right? I grew a successful company. I sold it for a boatload of money and that didn't necessarily make me happy because you get to a certain tier and there's a certain [00:06:00] euphoria that occurs when that happens and it lasts anywhere between a day, an hour, a month, and then all of a sudden, you get back on the treadmill and say, well, wait a minute. The same brain that created this drive and maybe this self-abuse to occur, like I gotta be better, I can work harder, I can do this, I can do that, that got you to that certain level, that same brain continues on with you going forward unless you start to change it, right?
You're saying, but it created all this success. It did, but at what cost? We're going to have challenges. Here's the deal growth is about having challenges. Life is a rollercoaster. So, if you were just like, everything was just wonderful, all day long. You were happy 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by the way, we're not intended to be happy, in my belief, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, then you would basically be flat-lined or what I would say is dead, right?
When you're really going out there and you're at the prime of your career, like a lot of listeners that are listening to this podcast right now, they're encountering new challenges, encountering new growth opportunities. So, [00:07:00] now what happens is, as you're encountering those opportunities, you're going to be coming up with some things that you've never seen before. Here's the core, how you process that, how you work through that, and how you keep your mind stable through that, which is what we're going to go through, hopefully, a little bit, then the journey is not so rocky, but again, and I want everybody to hear this, you're not meant to be happy a hundred percent of the time.
So, give yourself a break. Okay. I want you to practice happiness. I want you to practice joy. I want you to practice fulfillment, but it doesn't mean that it has to exist twenty-four by seven because you're going to get slammed. Especially in the entrepreneurial world with new challenges and slammed with a new boss that comes in and all of the sudden the objectives that you thought you had now you don't have anymore. Now you're lost. When we make our identity our work, which by the way is okay, but it's the attachment to that is who I am in full. There's where part of the problem comes in. So, we've got to detach from that a little bit. Then it kind of frees you up to actually experiencing this.
Erik Martinez: So, [00:08:00] Ken, let's go back to the beginning of your career. Before all this insight and knowledge came. If you were to talk to your earlier version of yourself, what piece of advice would you give?
Ken Burke: Easy. Easy. Manage your ego. I'll give a couple of pieces of advice. Manage your ego. When I say ego, I don't mean egotistical. I mean, how you attach and identify yourself. So, I drove myself early in my career and said, you know, bad Ken. You know, you can do better, and you know, then I got some investors, one of the biggest ones in the world, Sequoia Capital, to tell me the same thing. Like, they don't say you're doing great. Just keep what you're doing. They're like pushing harder and harder. It's kinda like a coach, but a dysfunctional coach in the VC world just so we're clear, are definitely dysfunctional. So, no matter how good you do, you always have to be doing better. So, all of a sudden you start internalizing that.
By the way, when you're running a business or you're an executive in a company, you got a lot of people beating you up, right? You've got customers that, you know, through whatever challenges of theirs, it could have nothing to do with your wonderful service or product, they're still going to beat you up [00:09:00] because they're dysfunctional as well, and by the way, they bring in all their crap into your relationship like everybody else does. So, you now have to process on that as well. Even if it's not your fault. You've got employees that might be a challenge or coworkers that might be a challenge. All that's coming at you, and you've got to manage all of that in real-time.
So, if we learn how to go through the journey in a much more ego-friendly environment, meaning lowering the ego and understanding it and understanding that if you have a failure, you're not your job. You're not your money. You're not your social status. You're not the executive in the company that you think you are. Here's the problem. As soon as it's taken away, all of a sudden your identity goes away as well, and you're like, wait a minute, and the reason is because you were so attached to that identity. Your ego was attached to that identity. Like mine was until it was taken away.
It was taken away when we were doing good, we were going great as a company. And the board said, you know, Ken, you've done a great job. We love you to death, but you haven't seen the movie yet. We want to grow to be a [00:10:00] billion-dollar company. So, we want to be the biggest Ecommerce platform company in the history of companies and we want to do it faster. We want to bring in somebody who's already done it. That was the line of crap they gave me.
So, they said, we're going to put you in chairman. We're going to give you all these roles. A lot of founders at that point would leave because their ego would not have controlled that. I did learn a valuable lesson in that. I'm like, yeah, I'm not leaving, and they didn't want me to leave either, but I didn't let my ego overtake me in that situation.
I stuck with it, stuck with it. The company crashed. It was not a great sign. We brought in a CEO that didn't know what the heck he was doing. It was a kind of a disaster. I came in about four or five years later and recovered the company and then ultimately sold the company, which was probably one of the highlights of my professional career and being able to do that and bringing the company back together again because it had really been destroyed in a lot of ways by really bad management.
So, bad decision by the VCs cause we could have been bigger and better and all of that, but great lesson for Ken. I learned the lesson through that of detachment, which says I can't make my identity that company or I [00:11:00] can't make my identity children. I don't have children, but if I did you can't do that either. I can't make my identity, my spouse. I can't make my identity, the money that I have, but yet look at your attachments. I want listeners to look at their attachments to those things. That's when you're controlled by your ego.
If you can break free of that, all of a sudden a failure is not really a failure. So, losing my company, quote-unquote, losing the CEOship of my company, and watching it go crashing down, but when your business is your identity, it feels pretty bad. If you're not attached to that and you're really just managing it from a step back and you're starting to look at, then all of a sudden you can actually make really good decisions. The problem is your ego gets in and it starts to bring in fear, anger, all the negative emotions. When you detach, you can actually control the emotions. So, it's a hundred percent your responsibility and accountability to be able to deal with the situation. Now that was number one.
I'm going to give you a number two now. Well, actually that was two, there was detachment in there, [00:12:00] which was my second one, and my first one was ego. Being attached to that outcome and being attached to, oh my goodness, I have to have my company make a million dollars, ten million dollars, a hundred million dollars, a billion dollars, or whatever it is, is really dysfunctional. As opposed to going along the journey and saying, I'm going to build the best company that I possibly can or have the best career that I can. I'm going to learn a lot along the way, and I'm going to do things that feed my passion, feed my existence. I have a whole section in the book on clarity, which we can talk about as well, and we start talking about that pathway to happiness, fulfillment, and joy in your life each and every day.
Tim Curtis: So, specific to the book, I want to kind of pivot and get really into some of the meat of the book. You know, you have the five steps right within the book. So, tell us a little bit about those five steps and thriving in business and in life. I know you've already hit on a couple of them, but concisely here for our listeners, what those five are.
Ken Burke: Sure. We'll go step-by-step through. The first one is accepting yourself. The first tenant of that is you're perfect exactly [00:13:00] at this moment in time. That means that you still have a lot to learn going forward, and you forget about the past. In this moment in time, at this presence, you are exactly where you should be and whatever distinctions you're going to make in the next minute, the next hour, the next week are all lessons that you're going to learn because we're only here to learn lessons. That's it. We're here to learn lessons, and then we go away. Whatever your religious beliefs or personal beliefs are, whatever happens afterwards, I'm not going to talk about, but what I will talk about is the more you learn now, in my belief, you don't have to come back and learn it again.
Accept yourself, accept your limitations, accept all the things, and then as you learn that lesson, your sphere of influence becomes bigger. Your being becomes bigger. You're able to get to the next level, whatever the next level is, and then you keep getting to the next level, and the levels, by the way, never stop. So, this idea of you're okay, right now, you're perfect right now.
The deal is that judgments and accepting yourself go hand in hand. So, talking about how you judge yourself. When you're judging yourself means you have an opinion about yourself or about others, right? That is [00:14:00] ego manifestation. See, so ego works both ways. It's external. It's also internal about how you judge yourself. So, the key trick to accepting yourself is getting control of those judgments. As soon as you understand and can control those judgments and understanding it's like a muscle that you just become aware and awareness is a great tool.
You become aware of the fact that you're judging yourself. When you can get out of judgment and move forward from that and at least be aware that you're judging yourself. I'm too fat. I'm too thin. I'm too tall. I'm too unsuccessful. I'm too successful. I have too much money. I have too little money. I don't have the right partner, blah, blah, blah. It goes on and on. We just sit there and judgment all day long. We've got to stop all that self-talk. That's how you get to this idea that I'm perfect right now, and then in the next minute, I might learn something new and I'm perfect then.
Number two is managing your ego. I talked a lot about that already, so I won't go into great detail, but in the book, I actually cover things like ego triggers, like knowing when you're coming from ego. It's okay to have a lot of money. It's okay to desire to have a lot of money, for an example.
The [00:15:00] difference is though, are you doing it because you want to feed yourself? When I say feed yourself, make yourself look bigger to the outside world, make people adore you, become a celebrity in your own right. So, as we start to break free from the ego, we have this certain freedom that we actually are able to experience joy. Again, it's all about our perspective.
Step three is clarity, and I got to tell you, this goes to every business person out there, every executive out there, the more clear you are on exactly what you want to get, the more likely you are to get it. Some of the new agers out there listening, might've heard of the law of attraction, which is probably the most popular, widely spread, new age concept out there because of a book written called The Secret. Unfortunately, the law of attraction says if I think it, it will appear. It's partly right in that I gotta be really clear about exactly what I want, right, and then I'm thinking about it and processing on it and I'm starting to attract things in my life, but you're attracting things in your life because you're doing step four, which is taking action.
Things don't just happen. In order to be [00:16:00] successful in business, you have to focus. The more you focus and the more you specialize in a certain area to become an expert in whatever that area is, once you do that, then you can start to expand and you get around the circles. The problem is most entrepreneurs, most business people, and most humans, what they want to do is they want to start big and do everything, especially entrepreneurs. You can't do that, and you can't do that in life either. What I'm saying is that it doesn't mean, you can't be big, right? Yes, you can, but the more you focus and the more you're clear about exactly what you want to focus on and you integrate your talents, your passions, that's very important, and your skills, overall, you can build a clarity plan or a plan that gives you a roadmap that says, now I know what I want to do.
See, when you're sitting there and you're like, oh my goodness. I don't know what I want to do with my life. I don't know what I want to do in the next chapter of my life. By the way, I sold my company, made a boatload of money, took a year off, and then went, oh, goodness gracious. I'm young enough, and I'm like, well what do I want to do, you know? It took me [00:17:00] years, a couple of years to figure out exactly what I wanted to do. I am now in the flow. I now feel the flow. The flow means that things are just starting to happen because I finally got clear on what I wanted. I started to take action to move towards that and it's just coming together. It's just starting to kind of come together.
My e-learning company, my content company, took years, took several years after I sold my successful business. Started a new one and it should be an instant success. What's going on? Well, it wasn't. By getting that clarity around exactly what I wanted that business to do and exactly what I wanted my software company to do, as an example, going forward it's starting to work, but I had to have this ingredient as well, that I talk a lot about to entrepreneurs, which is patience as well.
So, clarity and taking action. You have to kind of also put this around a wrapper that it's not necessarily just you controlling the levers. Okay. We might want to think we are and our ego wants to think we are. The problem is, is that there is some kind of universe time as it starts to come in, we say in the new agey world, the universe will conspire for [00:18:00] you. That's what you want. You want things to start to go in your way, energetically as well as from a business perspective, but if you try to force it because our ego says, I can just work harder and I can force this to be a success.
Has anybody ever tried to do that? Have you tried to do it and you've pushed as hard as you possibly could. It wasn't a success. You then said it was a failure and then you either gave up, which is okay. You either gave up and it went to this huge negative thing in your life.
When I was replaced CEO of a company, I'm like, I'm not leaving this company. I'm going to see this out to the end. I'm going to have the patience and guess what happened? If I had left the company and just watch it crash down, I would basically have not had any outcome financially from that company, but I stayed until the last day, ended up selling the company.
I had a wonderful experience and was able to benefit financially from that as well. So, this is this idea of patience. I had seven years or eight years of patience from when I was originally replaced from CEO until I actually sold the company. That's a lot of patience, but it worked out for me, and now I have a wonderful life with lots of opportunity that I can [00:19:00] create new things.
By the way, along the way, I have new challenges as well, because as I'm creating new things, I'm supposed to have new challenges. I just described some of them, but then when you're in the flow, that's when it starts to happen.
All right. So, that's also step four. Taking action. I've got a whole bunch of ideas and actions in there, but let me give you one quick tip on taking action. Momentum creates success around us. So, what I want to say here is that as you start to build momentum, all you want to do is every little action you take creates momentum. It's a snowball effect. So, you get that snowball. It starts small, it goes bigger and bigger, and that momentum carries you forward, but you got to take action little pieces at a time. Break things down into small bite-size pieces. Chew off one thing at a time. I don't care if it's just Googling something.
You know, I always say when I start a business, the first thing I do is I go to Google and I start Googling all the competitors that I think I might have and I start researching them. Just that gives me energy to start something new, and then from there I start getting new ideas and new distinctions and it points me down a road that [00:20:00] creates more momentum, and then all of a sudden, 20 years you look backwards and you're like, wow, look what I created. It all starts from a little bit of a gem of something you started that, you know, you had no idea if it was going to be successful or not, but you got on the road. So, the more action you take, creates the more momentum, the momentum you have, ultimately it will lead to some level of success as you define it.
Fifth step, real quick, then I'm done is giving gratitude. I included this because it's really important that you got to figure out how to be grateful. Here's the deal. If you're grateful, you can't be unhappy at the same time. At the same moment in time that you're giving gratitude saying I'm so thankful for what I have, or I'm so thankful for my kid,s or I'm so thankful for my spouse, or I'm so thankful for this great job that I have, or that I get the freedom to do an entrepreneurial thing, or I'm thankful that I get to go to the Caribbean on vacation or whatever it might be, you're giving that gratitude. Give gratitude every day. It's impossible to be unhappy at the moment you're giving gratitude.
Let me give you the last chapter of the book very quickly, which is practicing [00:21:00] joy, happiness, and success. The reason I want to make sure we hit that is the word practicing. You have to practice all this every day. The point is that it doesn't just happen. It doesn't just, I have a great life because that's not the way we're wired. That's not the way it works, but if I practice this idea that I'm practicing happiness, that means that I'm looking for those opportunities to experience happiness or fulfillment.
Along the journey, I'm getting slammed by, oh, I got this bill I wasn't expecting, or my car broke down. Goodness, I can tell you in the last week the 87 things that happened to me that were like, well, that just took me off track, but at the same time, there's the other side of the coin, which is a client you gained, and the progress that you make, and all of that. There's a lot of things that will throw you off track. And you've got to be mindful enough to actually stay on track through the process. That's why you have to practice this, and I've got a bunch of tips in the book around that. All right.
Tim Curtis: Yeah, kind of piggybacking on that. Grateful. I've always thought of gratitude as a sort of a spirit of gratitude or a vibe and it's one of those things that you do practice [00:22:00] and you try to carry that through all times. It doesn't mean that you're not going to have those moments where you're down, you're not going to have those moments where, you know, you're frustrated, you know, some sort of a situation, but, you can practice that. I think the other one that kind of jumps out at me in the book, guiding principle number seven, which is stopping all those judgments immediately.
You know, You talk about that. I'm too thin. I'm too fat, blah, blah, blah. Well, I think that guiding principle number seven is really one to hone in on. Not just because it puts you in a place where you can practice that detachment, that healthy detachment, but also I think that is really the beginning of a place of positioning for good mental health and understanding that you are not your failures. You're also not your successes. You're who you are and successes and failures happen to you in life. Don't judge yourself too harshly. Give yourself that healthy margin, if you will.
Ken Burke: Yeah, and you know, one of the things I like about the book is different things resonate with different people. As I talked to people that have read the book or read parts of the [00:23:00] book, or what have you, they're like, I really liked that 30,000-day thing, and I really liked this judgment thing because it resonated with you, and it's a big one, by the way, you hit on one of the big ones, but I want to hit on one thing on judgments real quick if I could because I want to give a tool.
I mentioned it before, but I want to highlight it again, which is a judgment is nothing more than an opinion about yourself, or an opinion about someone or something else. So, as soon as you render an opinion, which most people, by the way, don't want to hear your opinion. Just so we're clear. I always say, never give your opinion unless it's asked for. A lot of friends you know will come to me with their issues or problems, unless they're asking for my opinion on something, I try not to render it because they're not open to it yet. You gotta be open to receiving somebody's opinion. So, it's okay to give an opinion if it's being accepted, but a judgment is literally, from my assessment, is just an opinion. So, when you realize that you're giving an opinion about yourself to something, you are in judgment, that means you're in ego. That means that you're starting to rip away at whatever positive things you're doing. So, stop judging, stop giving [00:24:00] opinions. People don't care about your opinions, by the way, for the most part.
I have, I had, I had, because he's dead now, an alcoholic father. We're all kind of dysfunctional alcoholics in some way. We may not drink, but we are dysfunctional in some way because we're growing. We're supposed to be dysfunctional by definition. We're growing, we're learning. We're good. So, you can talk to an alcoholic nonstop for their entire life, but you cannot get them to give up the alcohol unless they want to give up the alcohol. Same thing holds true about these things. When you're going out, you're trying to help. You're being codependent to somebody. You're trying to help them. It's great. I know that you want them to change, but there's a little bit of a gap where they want you to give their opinion because they want to change. They're finally ready to change. That's when you can start helping somebody, but not before then.
I'm gonna throw one last thing in which is my definition of success. Really important. Read that part of the book. It's not even that big or watch one of my videos on KenBurke.com. I have a video on definition of success. Which is you get to define your definition of success. Nobody else. [00:25:00] Social media doesn't define it. Your spouse doesn't define it. Boyfriend, girlfriend, kids, parents, especially because, well, we thought they did because when we're young, parents defined our definition of success for us. You're going to college. You're going to be a doctor. You're going to be a lawyer. You get aligned with your definition of success, all of the sudden happiness ensues. As soon as you're clear that you don't have to be something or do something that you may or may not want to do. Define success for you as it is today. My definition of success is basically to be healthy and to grow, learn, and develop and help people along the way. That's my definition of success. I think it's very, very important, and not enough people focus on what their definition of success is. One last thing you have to define this and redefine it every year. It is important that you relook at this and assess it every year.
Erik Martinez: So, Ken, I think that's actually a great segue into my next question because you have this concept of 30,000 days, you mentioned briefly before, but it's really about shifting your [00:26:00] perspective, and I think in today's society we only have one lens that we view things from. Whether it's a lens that we acquired when we were younger or it's the latest lens. It's constantly evolving, but it's one. A few years ago, and I can't remember the name of the book, but I was visiting with a mental health expert. I was struggling. I was stressed. I was running a small agency.
There was three or four of us. It just felt like the mountain was huge, right? So, I was talking to her and she said, hey, you know what? I have a book for you to read, and the book was about the levels of communication that people actually go through, and there's three dialogues that we all actually have that's going on, right?
There's the dialogue that you and I are having right now. The words actually coming out of our mouths, right? There's the inner dialogue that's actually going on in our heads while we're actually talking to the person that we're talking to, and then the third dialogue is that deep-seated dialogue of [00:27:00] your core being, what you actually believe. Those three things are actually going on simultaneously, and most conversations with people, people focus on the words that are spoken and not these inner intrinsic things. So, how this relates to perspective is if I actually knew more about what your inner dialogue was, I have a better perspective about where you are coming from, right?
Ken Burke: Oh, wow. That is really cool, by the way. Yes. I love where you're going with this.
Erik Martinez: Let's talk about shifting your perspective to understand what's going on around you because I think a lot of our success or failures in business as digital marketers, as husbands and wives, a lot of our success or failure, is this concept of perspective or lack thereof. So, talk about the 30,000 days and the concept of shifting your perspective for a few minutes.
Ken Burke: Got it. Got it. I'm also gonna throw in an extra thing [00:28:00] because you nailed it, which was on values and understanding. See, this whole idea that we look through life through our own lens. Everybody has their own lens. This is why we have so many judgments. If you try to adopt everybody else's beliefs about you, you will fail. I say you never fail. You won't fail, but that attempt to try to say, I'm going to try to be what this person wants me to be, and then I'm going to try to be with this person wants me to be, and then I'm going to try to be over here with this person wants me to be.
They all have their own lens on your life, right, anybody that you interact with. So, all of a sudden you're starting to jump around and say, well, I'm this person to my spouse. I'm this person to my parents. I'm this person to my kids. I'm this person to my friends. I'm this person to my rich friends. I'm this person to my poor friends The point is that what's interesting is that you would drive yourself literally crazy trying to adjust yourself to their perspective. You can't win, so don't even try. It's insanity to be anybody but yourself. That's what I mean by being yourself because you can't satisfy everybody's belief of you. You have to let it go, and if somebody thinks negatively of you, okay. It's gotta be okay, [00:29:00] because you can't change it anyway, and they're coming at it from their lens.
So, when you wonder where all this stress comes from and that's what we're trying to eliminate in this book or alleviate. I don't mean eliminate because stress is stress, but stress is also what blocks you and your business from growing because you're so stressed out about it that's all you can focus on. You can't clear the mind in order to actually say now, what next great thing can I create. When you're stressed out you're not thinking about the next great thing you can create. You're talking about survival and your survival instincts pop up and that's fine, but that's not necessarily moving you forward.
Now, I want to talk about this idea of values. We are all controlled based on what we value or belief system. We talked about lenses and everybody having a different lens. Everybody also has a different belief system.
Here's the disconnect. Here's why relationships are so darn hard. Somebody that's valuing something number one, and you're valuing something number four, there's a huge disconnect there. So, if you can assess for your coworkers and you just understand what they value and you speak and you act in terms of their values when you're interacting with them, it doesn't mean that you're changing [00:30:00] your actions, it means that you're understanding the perspective and the lens that they're coming from. This is the key. Their lens is their values and beliefs. Understanding what they value most important, second most important, third most important, you then can couch what you're trying to achieve. Whether you're trying to sell them on something, cause we're always trying to sell something, or communicate an idea, or get them to change.
Here's what we do instead. We start with our number one hierarchy of value, what we value the most, and we try to communicate it to them thinking it's theirs. It's a hierarchy of values. What I feel is most important and feed that other person with that.
Erik Martinez: Yeah. That's that's good. I'm gonna jump back to this cause I think this concept of 30,000 days is interesting and important. Tell us why, why 30,000 days? I know in the book you say, hey, you know what? I kind of picked a number, right? It represents about 82 years if I recall. So, but how is that important because you know, your book talks about growth, right? It talks about taking action. It talks about [00:31:00] perspective and clarity and grace and gratitude. All those things. How does the 30,000 days play into that?
Ken Burke: The number one most treasured asset, in my opinion, is time. The reality is we only have so much time on this earth. We will die at some point. I don't know when, but we will all die. That is the one thing that is certain, right? They say death and taxes and death is certain. If you think about how many days that you have on earth, right? Thirty thousand days is the average life expectancy at the time that I wrote this, about 82 years. It varies from men and women just a little bit, so I picked a mid-point, and it depends on where you live in the world and so on and so forth, but let's just go with 82 years, right? Eighty-two years.
Well, 82 years divided by 365 is right about 30,000. So, I want you to do the math. Take your age, times it by 365 days. You get a number. Subtract it from 30,000. That's the number of days that you have left on earth. Okay. It just starts to crystallize. It's a silly exercise. I get it, but it crystallizes the fact that if I'm 50, I've [00:32:00] got maybe a third left or about 11,000 days left. I'm like, holy crap. I only have 11,000 days left. I better get going. I better start doing something. I better start learning, growing, and developing because I want to end this world with something that's meaningful.
I want to fill myself with the passions that I have. So, if you've been in a job that you absolutely hate. Then why are you doing it? Why don't we go and get some clarity around what our passion is and turn our passion into something that can make us money?
That is a much better strategy for life than doing something that you hate, just because you feel you have to do it, or you have achieved a certain status in your career. If you're not going to be happy each and every day of this life, and I don't mean you should be happy all the time.
I just mean you're going to experience happiness as a general theme in your life and fulfillment, and if you're not fulfilled in your current job, you better figure out some clarity and a plan and take some action to change that because you only have a certain amount of days left. That's what I mean. I don't care if you're young or old. Time is our biggest asset.
Erik Martinez: So, by extension applying this to the business world. If you take that same concept [00:33:00] and say, what's the average length that you're gonna spend in any role or job, then that time is really, really precious, right? For you to make your mark in that business, that time is really, really precious.
Ken Burke: You absolutely hit on it, and let me ask you, Erik. You're running an agency, digital agency successful. I've known you for many, many years. So, we've gone way back. Let me ask you, and I've watched your career and I've watched you achieve amazing things. This is where you want to be. Help us understand your agency and what you're delivering and the value you're delivering to the customers, and the growth that you're experiencing. Are we on track here with how you want to live your career?
You could have chosen a different career. You transitioned from that nine to five job, if you will, into the entrepreneurial world, and then you had some bumps along the way, I suspect, in terms of personal growth. It feels like you've come through some of that. You're starting to be in the flow. Help the audience understand that.
Erik Martinez: Yeah. So, I won't labor a whole lot of time on it, but I think the big thing for me, what gets me energized every [00:34:00] day, is the fact that I do get to learn. There was a real serious period in my agency's life, the reason I merged my business with Blue Tangerine five-plus years ago was because I was stuck. I was stuck. I knew I wasn't happy. I was stressed all the time. I couldn't make headway. I felt like everything was a roadblock, and I found a great business partner who helped me turn that corner. He enabled me to do what I was good at. We've enabled each other to do what we're good at, and the business has grown from there. So, I think that's an important point.
Let's talk a little bit about roadblocks to growth. You know, you've talked a little bit about how the ego throws up these roadblocks, but are there like specific roadblocks that you have strategies to prevent happening going forward?
Ken Burke: Yeah. In every one of these sections that I talk about, I present the roadblocks and usually there are many of them, probably 40, [00:35:00] 50, 60 roadblocks in the book. They're all very personal to what they would be for you. It's different for everybody, but a big roadblock that you mentioned is ego and managing the ego.
We don't think we have to manage the ego, but that roadblock, actually that one thing, stops our fulfillment around how we feel about ourselves and accepting ourselves because the ego is actually doing a lot of damage, to most people anyway, in terms of their ability to feel good about themselves cause if you don't feel good about yourself, it's really hard to create success. I know a lot of rich people that are not very happy. They created success, I'll say quote, unquote, the definition of success sometimes as associated with money, by the way, that's not necessarily true for everybody. It might be money. It might be external success. It might just be growing, learning, and developing.
If in fact, your definition of success at that point in time was I just want to grow, learn and develop. You would have had, your brain would have opened up to, this is a new opportunity over here. This is a new opportunity over here. This is what I want to do, because now you're looking at it through a clear lens, and that is what would have [00:36:00] changed. I think getting unstuck and then breaking it down into small bite pieces because definitely when we're stuck we're overwhelmed. So, now all of a sudden you want to move off and you want to do something else, and you have to transition from where you are to where you want to go. You got to do it in small bite-size pieces, and you can take on bigger pieces as you start with the smaller pieces first, and then all of a sudden it starts to get flow, and then all of a sudden you look back two years or three years and you say, wow, look at where I've come. That's where you get that from, but you got to take action.
Are there a lot of roadblocks to taking action? Yes. Fear. Let's talk about fear. Fear is the number one, fear of failure, I should say. Fear is the number one thing that stops us. So, we have to figure out tools, and I have a lot of them in the book here of getting over those fears, and a lot of it has to do with the fear of failure. Well, I have a whole video on my website, KenBurke.com. I throw that out. I don't think anybody goes to KenBurke.com anyway, but if you want to, there's some videos on there. All right, and I have one on this idea that you cannot fail. If you hold the belief that it is impossible to fail, because if you do something and it doesn't work out, along the way, [00:37:00] what was happening was you were learning.
Let's say your business failed and you're like, well, that could be the greatest success, right? Me being replaced to CEO of the company for a period of time was the best thing that ever happened to me. I needed that lesson. It was the hardest thing that happened to me in my professional career to watch my company crumble and then having to build it back up to something that was actually worth something. Should it have sold for two or three billion dollars? Yes, it should have. Did it? No, but it did well. The point was that out of that challenge came some of my best lessons around detachment and self-help and this book and other things that allowed me to experience what I'll call my definition of success today.
So, the fear of failure is one of the biggest roadblocks that people have to get over, and as soon as you realize you can't fail because you're going to learn through whatever your challenges are, and as long as you learn, you can't fail because you got something out of it that I guarantee you will use at some point in the future in your life because now you have a new tool that you don't have to go back to the old ways of doing things. Does that make any sense?
Erik Martinez: [00:38:00] Yeah, totally makes sense. As many of our audience know, I coach fastpitch softball. So, I'm working with teenage girls all day long, and I can tell you this principle of fear of failure is hugely prominent with teenagers, in general, but teenage girls in particular. A lot of it's in their head.
I can't do this. I can't do this, and when we show them a little bit of success, their confidence builds. They get better, they get stronger, they get faster, they improve. This idea of constant improvement and practicing that you mentioned earlier.
Ken Burke: and patience as well. I'll say patients as well.
Erik Martinez: Absolutely. Some days you're gonna take two steps forward and some days you're gonna take three steps backwards, but you're always trying to move in a particular direction.
Tim Curtis: One of the things that as I was listening that sort of activated in my head was, you know, I was thinking about growth in that journey, not that destination. Things begin to click for me was I understood that growth [00:39:00] was really nothing more than the acquisition of knowledge, and I just kept acquiring it. I never saw growth as a destination. It was a journey. Who knows where I end up? For me, that was an important part.
We have the benefit of having, you know, several years, now decades. Erik, it's hard to believe decades, but into our careers, and that experience, that time, there's been a seasoning and we're beginning to understand what it means to achieve some of these things in our life. How would you direct somebody who may be is, they're not finding themselves at that place, and then they need to begin that process? How would you layout for them in maybe just one or two tangible steps, how would you tell them to start to engage that process?
Ken Burke: Yeah, it's part about getting a new perspective. So, with your learning as being part of your journey and this lifelong learning that you've embedded into your life, not everybody does by the way or not everybody explicitly does it, right?
We're always learning. You probably mean reading books, listen to, podcasts, going and [00:40:00] watching virtual events, watching seminars, watching webinars, and all of those things that you do to continue to fill your brain because it feeds you. It's part of your passion and the things you're reading about and learning about are part of your passion to continue to grow the bubble, continue to grow your sphere of influence, and sphere of influence is not an ego manifestation.
It just means I can touch more people. That's part of what your knowledge is, and now you're sharing that knowledge with more people and you also associated the fact that growth is a continual process. We never stop growing. There isn't a destination where it says, okay, good. I'm done. I'm done. I hit my career because as soon as you think you've hit it as like we've already talked about, you're like left empty.
So, here's one of the points that I want to make sure we bring up, and wherever we are in our career, we run into these points in our life where you need to continually reevaluate. So, I'm constantly reevaluating, and I use my journal. I've been keeping a journal. I know it might sound a little bit weird, but I've been keeping a journal for 20 years.
I typically, again, write in my journal most of the time on the plane, but anytime I need to process something. I don't write [00:41:00] every day for sure. I don't have time, but maybe once a week or so, and when I need to process on something, I go to my journal and that's where I process those thoughts. So, the point that you asked about where do I start? I think it's a great question. Where do I start?
You start with wherever you're at because we're all at different evolution points. I would start with a couple of things. I would start with my definition of success if I didn't have one already, and/or I had one 20 years ago. By the way, most people don't have a definition of success. It's assumed upon them. What's your definition cause there's no right way, by the way, to live life? So, the point is that you have to start where you are. Definition of success is a great place to start, number one.
Number two, clarity. I think that you need to pick up my book and read the clarity chapter because getting clear about what you want to do is the first step. Now, there are a lot of things that tear away from that, like ego and not accepting yourself and things of that nature. Whatever it is that you want to get on, you need to change the lens for which you're looking at life from if you think it's not the healthy lens that you want to look from.
I think the [00:42:00] other thing, Tim, that I would say. Read a little bit. Listen to podcasts like this. Understand that you need to feed part of this self-development because self-development is an ongoing process. It's an important thing to do.
Tim Curtis: One of the things that I was thinking about, kind of taking what you're saying and understanding. So, for me, it was making sure that I carved out time also to dream and to visually identify or manifest what my dream was for me.
Ken Burke: I love it.
Tim Curtis: Now, I'm very intentional about this. I write my dreams in pencil, not ink because it's important to understand that those dreams will shift. Your dream at this moment may not be your dream in a year, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, and so we need to allow for the flexibility, and so for me, it literally means not writing with a pen. It means writing with a pencil.
Ken Burke: I write my journal and I use the same journal and the same pen, but I do write it in pen. I love your metaphor though. What you're really saying, and what I've said a little bit earlier is [00:43:00] your existence changes over time because we're continuing to grow, learn, and develop. You have to practice happiness, fulfillment, and enjoy. You also have to practice the idea of your relationships. You have to continue to feed those relationships as you're feeding what you're talking about here.
So, when you talk about writing your dreams down in pencil. Great metaphor. it doesn't mean that you erase them at any point in time. It means that you've evolved to the next level of your dream and your bubble is expanding. Your sphere of influence of how you can touch and serve the world expands as well. The audiences get bigger. Your voice gets bigger. Whether you write a book, do a podcast, do an e-learning course, speak publicly, whatever, and you don't have to do any of those things. It could just be in your own circle and you're having more impact in the circle which you exist. The people that you touch.
Tim Curtis: The interesting thing, I've had a front-row seat for a good portion of my career to dreams and disappointment. You know, I spend a good portion of my career. You know, there was a lot of client interests in the music industry and in publishing, and a lot of that revolved [00:44:00] around Nashville, and Nashville is known as the city of broken dreams. You know, a lot of people head out to Nashville. You know, they're gonna make it big, and I don't really think Nashville is so much the city of broken dreams. I think it is sort of the city of disappointment because they only had one dream.
When you don't visualize success in any other way, and if you don't achieve this tightly narrow-focused element of what a success or a dream looks like for you, then it will be disappointment. If you're viewing that as fluid and it evolves. If you don't make in Nashville as a singer or you don't make it as a performer, you may make it as a songwriter or you may make it as a label executive.
There's a lot of different definitions of success, but when we focus on and we don't discipline ourselves, again, that metaphor of writing in pencil, not ink. If we're not prepared for that, then it [00:45:00] will be disappointment. We're almost assuredly setting ourselves up for disappointment.
Ken Burke: Here's the further diagnosis of that, which is you're getting attached so much to your dream and the picture that you had of your dream, and by the way, not saying don't manifest that dream. Make sure you have patience around it so that you can evolve to it, but because you're looking at things constantly through your lens and your lens is continually adjusting, your definition of success might change and how, what you want to pursue might change.
Erik Martinez: So, Ken, as we wrap up. This has been a very interesting conversation. I've been looking forward to it. It resonates with me because all the things you're talking about in your book, all the things you've mentioned, are things that I'm experiencing every single day. I'm becoming more and more aware of those things every single day.
Ken Burke: Bingo. That's the key. The key is that the awareness is the first step. See sometimes in our earlier careers, in our earlier life, we aren't aware and we're just living life because life's just supposed to happen. Life just doesn't just happen. You can construct it in such a way, and when you understand some of these [00:46:00] principles and you understand why things are happening. They're not just happening to you randomly. There are reasons why they're happening, and if you can come at it from the right perspective, it's a whole lot easier. There are people out there that make life really hard. I have friends that make life really hard. It doesn't need to be that hard, but to them, it has to be until they can move forward with that.
Erik Martinez: I actually just attended a really interesting workshop with a lady by the name of Carla Johnson. She wrote a book called RE:Think Innovation, and she's going to be a podcast guest sometime here in the near future.
Ken Burke: Awesome.
Erik Martinez: But her process for innovative thinking starts with awareness and observation, and it's very, very interesting that I'm seeing these constant patterns of awareness and observation and intentionality in all the business writings and readings that I have. Where there's success, you're intentional and you’re aware of what's going on around you.
Tim Curtis: And that speaks to clarity as well. Intention is a lot about clarity. I call it clarity, but [00:47:00] that's the intention that you're actually going after. Absolutely.
Erik Martinez: Is there one last piece of advice that you'd leave our audience with today? You've given them lots of different tools to talk about. You guys definitely go to Amazon and get Prosper by Ken Burke and read the book, but if there's one last thing, just one small tidbit that you'd leave our audience with today, what is it?
Ken Burke: Yeah. I mean, we've covered a lot of them as well, which is good. I guess I would just reinforce this idea that you are an active participant in your life, and you're an active participant in your development. So, as you continue to evolve, I want you to watch your evolution. I want you to record your evolution in journaling or what have you. So, that you can get these distinctions because it's all about just adjusting your lens slightly as you go through this to start to see new things. As you do, that sphere of influence, how you can impact the world, can be amazing.
At the end of the day, this is my definition of success, you have to be here to serve and help other people. If you come from that [00:48:00] perspective, your ego will start to dissipate because really what you're trying to do is ultimately you're trying to build things. Along the way, you're going to have joy, happiness, and success. I would also say, finally practice. You need to be aware every day of how you're going through life and how you need to adjust it. You're managing your life. You need to manage it. It doesn't happen on autopilot. That's really important.
Tim Curtis: Great. What's a good way for the listeners to reach out to you directly?
Ken Burke: Sure. You can certainly go to KenBurke.com, my website, or if you're entrepreneurs, you can go to entrepreneurnow.com as well. Both of those are my websites, and we can interact together on that as well. If you do buy the book, there's a bunch of things on KenBurke.com. There's a whole companion guide that will allow you to walk through the exercises.
I should mention that the book is a how-to guide. That is why I wrote it. It's got a ton of exercises in it. So, if you do read the book, I don't want you to sit there and read it. I want you to be doing the exercises, and my audiobook is actually coming out very soon, maybe by the time this podcast airs. It just got approved by the audio [00:49:00] service. So, if you want to listen to it, that's fine, but I want you to do the exercises. I want you to actually write out. This is a journey for you and a practice guide for you as well.
Erik Martinez: Awesome. Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Ken, for your time today and the energetic conversation. I have seen you speak multiple times. If Ken's on stage, he's never in one place. His hands are always moving. He is a very dynamic speaker. So, if you ever get a chance to listen to Ken speak live, you definitely should do that. That's it for today. Ken, thanks again. I'm Erik Martinez from Blue Tangerine,
Tim Curtis: and I'm Tim Curtis from CohereOne.