Gratitude in your everyday life goes a long way. With it, your true happiness will be revealed, which will then boost your productivity and reveal your mastery. In this episode, host Penny Zenker interviews Marc Reklau – the author of the international number one bestselling and award-winning book, 30 Days – Change Your Habits, Change Your Life. Marc shares his wonderful tips and tricks on how to be productive and talks about the benefits of being happy to effectively work smart and not work hard. Join us in this episode as Marc teaches more about being productive and happy, and at the same time, achieve greater success.
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Productivity Strategies With Marc Reklau
I am excited to have a fellow bestselling author with me, Marc Reklau. He is the author of the international number one bestselling, award-winning book, 30 Days – Change your habits, Change your life. It’s been translated into nine languages. It has over 300 five-star reviews on Amazon and over 170,000 readers. He has a number of other books about happiness and gratitude, The Life-Changing Power of Gratitude, which I love. I definitely want to talk more about that with him. He’s an author, a speaker, and a corporate trainer. He is really dedicated to helping people and organizations transform and achieve greater success. Marc, it’s great to have you here.
It’s great to be here, Penny.
You’ve got a lot of great books and great topics that you talk about. This show is called Take Back Time so we’re going to cover a lot of those different topics. What I’d love to know is how did you get here? Why are you are talking about habits, happiness and productivity?
I’ll start from the beginning. I was fired from my job. I was jobless. I had done a coaching training. I’m at a point where I don’t know what to do. Here in Europe, we got jobless money for two years and I have savings also. I said, “I need to build something,” like a coaching practice. I start studying self-publishing online marketing. Suddenly, I had an idea to write a book. A coach with a book is always better and easier to distinguish from a coach without a book. I wrote my book, 30 Days – Change your habits, Change your life, and got it out on Amazon. Nothing happened for the first half a year. Then I got on to an awesome promotion, a newsletter in the US and got 38,000 downloads in a couple of days on Amazon. Even if they were free, they catapulted me right up there in the charts with the gurus, Tim Ferriss and David Allen. Sadly, I couldn’t live even from my book because of the free downloads at that time translated into book sales later on.
There’s a lot of entrepreneurs who read this blog and they probably like to give things away for free. Why would you do that? That doesn’t make any sense. What would you say to people who have that in their mindset that, “No, you can’t give it away for free because you won’t make any money if you give it away for free.”
You decide when you give something for free and not let other people lure you with exposure. Click To Tweet I have an internal discussion about it. I have a discussion with fellow entrepreneurs but it’s easy for me. I built everything I have. I’m giving away 100,000 free eBooks. I think the important thing is that you decide when you give something for free and not let other people decide for you. For example, if somebody asks for me to give a free speech, I might say, no.
It is based on a lot of different factors. Who’s in the audience how is that going benefit you and get your message out?
I wanted to give lectures at the business school. I started by giving them a free talk. It was good and they wanted me back then I said, “Symbolically, you have to pay a little bit. You don’t have to pay $5,000 to buy something.” The second one was also good. Then I said, “My dream was to give lectures here and do a whole semester about happiness.” I’ve got it and I was paid. The free lecture that I gave in the beginning got me into getting a paid gig. That’s something I see all the time, but you always need to distinguish because sometimes people want to lure you in. You might get a lot of exposure, but the decision must always be yours.
It’s a strategy. You’ve created this strategy that says, “Here is the first step which is free and then to this step and then to that step,” and that’s the way we grow our businesses. It’s creating a plan in a staged approach. I wanted to highlight that point on giving it for free and whether that’s productive or not. The answer is, it depends and it very well can be when it’s part of a strategy.
You must be the one who decides. Don’t let them lure you in with exposure. You need to know what you want or it and your strategy. You can also throw in the free talks or free training, but always with the goal to later get paid for it. You know how it is. You write a book and they say the last chapter of the book you write is already the first chapters of your next book. First, I wrote a book about self-publishing because I had all my notes. I needed to put my notes into a manuscript and then I had my second book.
In my third book, I asked my email list and my friends. When you ask people, “What is your problem? What would you like?” If you have understood when I say, “I want to have more time.” That’s when I wrote, Productivity Revolution, my second book. I did some corporate training on productivity, but I noticed that there was always tension in the room. The productivity tools are awesome for us as entrepreneurs, but in companies sometimes they don’t like to hear it. Some of the greatest techniques of productivity are turning off your mobile phone, don’t take the phone or turn off the email. In a corporation, they don’t want to hear that.
They don’t want to do it. They don’t want to hear it. Marc, tell me something groundbreaking that I can do with a tiny little bit that’ll take up no time and that’ll fix everything.
They were multitaskers because they’re ignoring the countless studies that are out there. Multitasking makes your number more unpredictable and all this. I kept on studying and then I came to this subject of happiness. That was amazing because we know happier brains ultimately got some more productive.
At the time that you were talking about productivity and you were helping people to see how they could be more productive and that whole thing that you said that people said they wanted more time. Do you think that if they had more time they’d be more productive?
I think there will never have enough time. You have to start with the basics. Most of the people in a corporation, they have enough time, but they are wasting it. They are busy all day and they are not doing result-orientated work. I was like that when I worked in a corporation. You would go there and you try to get your eight or nine hours over for you get paid. When I was becoming an entrepreneur, that’s when I was learning that if I waste time, no money will come in.
The costs are greater directly to you and that’s motivating in itself to make some change. We think the way we think is to do what’s easy versus sometimes what’s best for us. Discipline is hard. That’s why people don’t want to hear it. They don’t want to hear about anything that requires discipline.
We should work smarter, not harder. Click To Tweet They are telling themselves stories that if you come with productivity tricks, you are putting them in danger. They are telling themselves, “I can’t do it because my work demands me to take every phone call because I would lose a client.” They create these stories so they can stay stuck and it’s very difficult to go through there. For us, it was difficult, but when your monthly income depends on it, then it’s easier for you to learn something new or it’s easier to do the inconvenient stuff because you depend on it.
I see that in entrepreneurs, too. We all get stuck in our excuses and our stories. I want to challenge everyone who is reading this, “What stories are in your way of you being smarter in the way that you approach things or do things? Are you just doing things the way they’ve always been done? Are you looking for different ways? What are those stories?” I tell people all the time, “Identify them and get clear why do you overanalyze something if you are overanalyzing? What’s the story you are telling yourself and that will help? What’s behind the procrastination? When we get a better understanding of these stories, then we can prove them that to be true. That’s a great point about the stories and I agree that more time doesn’t bring more happiness. It doesn’t bring more money. It doesn’t create more meaning in our lives. It doesn’t even create more balance because of Parkinson’s Law, we’ll use whatever time we have and fill it up.
You have to get it from the roots. When you take it from the roots and you learn these productivity tricks and tools, then time brings more happiness. It brings more fun in everything because then you’re using it wisely. We should work smarter and not harder. A stressed businessman came to me, a sales manager and he said, “I have two choices now. I can take you as a coach to improve my happiness or probably in two weeks, I’m going to have a heart attack or an accident.” We started working in little steps. After three months, when he started to take control of his time, on the weekends, he was spending more time with her family.
With his family, everything gets better but he needed first to go to the roots and say, “How can I work better? How can I work smarter?” Why I’m doing work that’s not necessary? Where am I not delegating or where I should be delegating?” When you to start from them and when you do your groundwork, amazing things happen with productivity. If you don’t do the groundwork, you can have it all the time in the world and you will never have enough. People are working 60 hours and not getting work done. That saddens me because we know how you can do it better. I’m the most normal person and I went through all this. I was a procrastinator. I was only a busy person, not a productive person, but it’s a process. I worked on this stuff and I don’t want to go back, now, that I’m so good at productivity that I start having bad habits again. I have so much time left. I’m not lowering my guard to fall in all the stupid stuff again like watching TV.
It’s being more purposeful and being clear on what we want to get as an end result. Then you shifted to happiness. People didn’t want to hear about productivity, but they wanted to hear about happiness.
Happiness makes us more productive. They found out that happy brains are 37% more productive. When I took that to the companies, the tension was gone. Everybody is responsible for their happiness. That set by the employees. For the employers, if you add a little more to it and create the environment, then it will be even better. Both parts take responsibility. Instead of a blame game, you suddenly have both parts taking the responsibility and then it will be nicer. I tried to convince them with all the studies because we have no enough studies that are out there that we trust.
Everybody wants to be happy. I feel this when I go in and speak to organizations and we talk about productivity. Sometimes they think that when the management says we’re going to be more productive, that means more work for them. When they think about productivity, they don’t think of it as working smarter. They think of it as working harder because that’s what they feel that’s being asked of them. That’s where the resistance is and everybody wants to be happy. When you said, “Do you to be happier?” They’re like, “I want to be happier.”
You nailed it. What I also noticed is the wrong mentality. I talked to managers and I told them about productivity, they went, “That’s great. I can give them more work,” and it’s not about that. Sometimes one person in the department doesn’t want to be more productive because then he gets all the work from the lazy person that’s sitting next to him. It’s easier to transmit it and you go deep. Being happy doesn’t mean you need to be happy all the time. You can still have a conflict and resolve it but cover everything. People like to talk more about happiness than to talk about productivity.
It’s an interesting thought. A while back, I read a book that was talking about companies taking single focus and how single focus that everyone can get behind really drove results, productivity and profits. There is one company, Alcoa, years ago focused on safety. It was something that everybody from the top to the bottom could get behind. It made them look at things differently. The way that they organized their process was different. The way that they approached each other was different. I could see the same with happiness. If a company gets behind happiness as their number one goal, you’re going to have better customer service and you’re going to have more sales. People are going to be more engaged. It’s much easier to focus on that and get the results that come from that.
That’s exactly what happens. That’s why Facebook and Google are not the best or the most valuable brands because they’re doing happiness. Once I talked to an employee said, “It’s not that they’re great people, they just have read the studies and they know and that’s why they let us bring our children to work.” It’s not that they become suddenly altruistic. It’s because they know that it’s super for the bottom line. It’s the greatest win-win for any company. The Gallup study says that 70% of the people are unhappy at work. You said that happy people take fewer days off than unhappy people. They are sick less. This is saving money and gaining more money. Here in Spain, we are even further behind. I don’t understand why more companies are not counting on it or at least give it a shot. Let’s try it.
Some companies are focused on productivity. What’s funny is in my programs, we talk about the tug of war with time, but I talk about gratitude and happiness. It is fundamental. That’s why I said I love that I saw that you’ve also written a book on gratitude because I think that’s the secret to life and happiness.
The more grateful you get with life, the better it is going to be. Click To Tweet That’s why I wrote the book. The book was like a baby that wanted to come out. It came to my mind because I’m doing the interviews on podcasts or online summits. When I’m asked, “What’s the secret ingredient to your success?” It always comes to the same thing, gratitude. The more grateful I got with my life, the better my life got. Everything I’ve ever written about gratitude, every interview I’ve given and then that just put it all together and put it in a book because I’m communicating with my books. You won’t see a lot of Youtube videos from me or Instagram videos.
I write books, but then I make The Life-Changing Power of Gratitude where I put everything in there. It’s a small book. The book comes from the heart and my soul. It’s the most important thing I ever shared. I get great feedback for it. Gratitude is the number one ingredient for happiness and even productivity and optimism. You can’t be sad and grateful at the same time or envious and grateful at the same time. It’s also an antidote to a lot of painful emotions.
Let’s talk about some tips. Some people are reading this and they’ll probably say, “I get all that you’re saying and everything.” They want to know how. What are somehow points that we can share with the audience about how to use gratitude to be happier and more productive? Any other tips that you think are key.
The great thing is it’s so easy. It’s only every day writing down three things you are grateful for and feel it. I always would say feel that gratitude so when I write it down, I write it in the morning and the evening and I feel it. For example, I am grateful for the cup of coffee I had at the beach. While I write it, I feel it and I see myself at the beach sitting again. I’m grateful for my mother, for my partner and sometimes I’m grateful for Amazon or for my MacBook that lets me talk to you or communicate. It doesn’t have to be big things. It can be small things. You write down three things and you feel it and it will rewire your brain to see more of the things that you’re grateful for.
For me, it’s not three things anymore. For me, it’s like five or ten things every morning because it comes so easy. For beginners, three things. It might be a little bit more difficult in the beginning but keep on doing it because that’s the single best exercise I can recommend to everybody. It’s simple and it’s very impactful. It’s a good starting point. Sometimes people come to me while I’m in a really bad place. They asked me for help. I say, “I can’t advise you yet because I have never been in such a terrible situation. What I can tell you is to start with gratitude.” Many people when they start with gratitude, they feel happier and optimistic.
It shifts what you focus on. It shifts you from focusing on the problem to focusing on what’s good. Our brain is designed to delete, distort and generalize things. If we’re focused on a problem, we’re going to get more of that gratitude. It has gotten me through gratitude. I started several years ago writing a gratitude journal in the morning as a result of going through a divorce, a difficult situation. I have to say, it made me show up as the person I wanted to be and it is life-changing. I recommend it as you do as a basis, especially if you’re going through difficult times.
It is better when you started while you’re doing well. When you’re going through a very tough division, it’s always even more difficult. Sometimes you don’t want to be grateful. I have even days that I don’t want to be grateful but I write it down anyway. Another thing that I’ve helped me as much as making a list of everything that you are grateful for. You have to have three things you write down on your journal but I also have a list where I wrote down all the places I have visited and friends, even people that hurt me because I can see what came out of it. I’m grateful that I had this relationship or this experience because it made me grow a little bit. Imagine if you get up in the morning and instead of thinking, “I have to go to work.” If at the first thing in the morning you make your list and then maybe you see the list and it says LA and you have a great memory of LA and start your day like this. That also is already an incredible difference in how your day can start.
Let’s go for one more tip that you’ve got in the productivity book that you think is one of the biggest sorts of productivity strategies that has most helped you.
Concentrate on one thing, the most important thing. If every day you do the most important things for your business, then automatically in one year you will be in a great place. The difficult part is finding out what is the one thing. Another thing which I would always do is for me to work productively, I turn off everything. I turn off my mobile. It even goes to another room so that I don’t even see it. I turn off the internet browser. I turn off the email. There’s a study at the University of London. They say if you want to work focused and you have your email open, it makes you lose ten points of your IQ. That’s the same with not sleeping for 48 hours and going to work.
They say the same thing about any distraction. That’s a distraction with email, but any distraction that you allow has that same impact. They said it was the same as smoking dope.
They said smoking dope is only taking away four points. The other big thing for me. People are afraid if they don’t answer emails that they will lose clients. The easiest way is to look at yourself. Do you always get an answer right away? I always looked at this typical situation when somebody was pressuring me, ‘I need the answer now.” You put out your offer and then you don’t hear for six weeks and you needed it within the hour.
Gratitude is the number one ingredient for happiness, productivity, and optimism. Click To Tweet One of my mentors taught me that we train people how to treat us. If we want to be always in response, then we are always obsessively in response. It’s an obsession and we need to let it go. That’s two, you said to focus on the most important thing. Turn it all off.
The 80/20 principle or the Pareto Principle. For prioritizing, it is incredible. It’s when I started to become more productive. It was because I was looking for what are the 20% that bring me 80% of my results? What are the 20% of my clients that bring me 80% of my problems? The 20% who bring you 80% of results and 20% will bring you 80% of the problems so get rid of those that bring you problems. I have a little story. A couple of years ago, I had like three-four business relationships, which was draining. They brought me 20% of my money. I took the decision because I read a lot about it and it seems to work.
I said, “I’m going to got rid of these business relationships.” I was like, “Maybe I have to make a little bit lower this year because it’s minus 20%,” but at the end of the year, I didn’t have minus 20%, I had plus 10%. I grew up my profits. That was another proof for me that I did everything right because I didn’t lose time in stupid discussions and running about after my money. I used that time and spend on my good clients or on my writing. That’s another thing. Writing brought 80% of my income. I said, “I’ll stop everything else.” 80% of my time, I will invest in my writing or in my books which means writing, marketing and promoting my books.” It skyrocketed my benefits and profits.
The important thing for people to take away from this and understand is it doesn’t need to be a new principal or a new trick. You need to consistently apply something. That is the simplest rule It helps you to step back and to evaluate where you are, where you want to be and what’s in the gap. You have understood and focus on what’s most important.
There are finite numbers of techniques or productivity tricks. To my clients, I say, “This is all there is. I don’t know which one will work best for you so you choose what goes best for you.” We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. It’s impossible. What we need to do is apply what’s best for us and then build on that.
Thank you so much for giving us so many different tips and tricks across the three different areas that you’ve been sharing your expertise. How can people get ahold of you? Where can they find your books and also any other programs that you have?
Happiness makes us more productive. Click To Tweet I’m on Amazon. There’s only one Marc Reclau with a C in the world. Wherever you put my name, the only one who comes up is me. I have a webpage. It’s called GoodHabitsAcademy.com. I have MarcReklau.com that you can download some free coaching worksheets. My books are exclusively on Amazon.
Thank you for your tips. Check out Marc’s books and his programs and see how they can help you to be smarter and happier in creating those habits that are going make a difference to create more impact and more profits in your life.
Be patient. It’s a long race. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon and if I can do it, you can do it.
I will see you in the next episode.
- 30 Days – Change your habits, Change your life
- The Life-Changing Power of Gratitude
- Productivity Revolution
About Marc Reklau
I’m Marc Reklau, author of the international #1 bestselling and award-winning book “30 Days – Change your habits, change your life” which has been translated into 9 languages, has over 300 five-star reviews on Amazon and over 170,000 readers.
As author, speaker, and corporate trainer I’m dedicated to helping people and organizations to transform and achieve greater success using the power of habit. For more than 20 years I have studied the work of philosophers, scientists and psychologists to learn what makes people tick.
With the right mentality you can improve your personal and professional success in a way that you never imagined. For individuals, this can mean a salary increase, more sales, health improvements, better relationships, and a higher level of happiness. For companies, it means multiplying company benefits, cutting health care costs, higher employee engagement, and lower employee turnover among other advantages.
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