The Brain of an Entrepreneur is Different with guest Jeff Hays

Meet Jeff Hays

Jeff Hays, an award winning filmmaker, author, and television producer since the early nineties, gained national attention with Fahrenhype 9/11 (2004), a response to Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11. He followed that with On Native Soil (2006). Narrated by Kevin Costner and Hilary Swank, the documentary focused on the perspective of surviving family members of 9/11 victims and their efforts to create the 9/11 Commission. The film was acquired by LionsGate and NBC and was short-listed for an Academy Award. Hays produced a yearlong television series for Lifetime Television, and then returned to documentary film with Doctored (2012), and Bought (2014).

In 2017, Jeff partnered with Dr. Patrick Gentempo to create Revealed Films. Together they have released many multi-part series covering subjects including health and nutrition, medical issues, wealth-building, religious and political topics. (Money Revealed, Vaccines Revealed, Crypto Revealed, End Game, GMOs Revealed, etc.) Revealed Films launches 5-6 series each year adding to the rich stream of information they’ve produced in the past. Revealed recently released a series on the use of psychedelics in therapy, Psychedelics Revealed, and has completed a new series on addiction. Revealed Films was acquired by Genius Group, an NYSE listed company on October 4th, 2022. Hays and Gentempo will continue to run the company for the next 3 years. In addition to the Revealed projects, Jeff Hays Films was the Executive Producer for The Fix, a documentary series based on Johann Hari’s NY Times bestseller, Chasing the Scream, which was made into both an Academy Award-nominated film and an eight-part TV series presented by Samuel L. Jackson.

JHF has acquired the rights to three other books to produce via film: the NY Times bestseller Lost Connections by Johann Hari, The Bad One by Erin Tyler, and The Real Anthony Fauci by Bobby Kennedy, Jr. Additionally, JHF produced a series with Adam Carolla on resilience and another on happiness with Ben Greenfield, and completed The Millionaire Within Her with Kristi Frank. In 2021, JHF produced Amy Redford’s new narrative film, What Goes Around, which had its world premier at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2022, and was sold to IFC. In September of 2022 Hays completed his newest documentary, The United States vs. Andre Norman, to be released in 2023. This film covers the poverty to prison pipeline for people of color in the US through the amazing story of Andre Norman. The covid lockdowns of 2020 provided ample time to finish two books. The first on entrepreneurship, The Entrepreneurial Brain, which has been acquired by Harper Collins and will be released in October of 2023. The second book, on spirituality called Love and Drugs; Tripping past Trauma into Joy, will be released in 2024.

Jeff resides in the mountains of Utah and works out of Jeff Hays Films’ soundstage and studio in Midvale, Utah. Together with his beloved wife Dori, he has eleven children and many grandchildren.

Listen to the episode on Spotify here or on your favorite podcast platform.

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Podcast transcript:

Welcome back to the urban monk, Dr Pedram Shojai excited to be here. Excited to share a friend of mine with you. I’m Jeff Hayes. And I go way back. He’s made several films. So several series a we’ve been in the trenches together trying to make films that help people. Um, for well over a decade and have had a very collaborative relationship throughout the years. Um, And have grown to be friends. Uh, he recently wrote a book about the entrepreneurial brain, which I thought was brilliant. I’ve known plenty of entrepreneurs in my life.

And, um, Just different kinds of people, right. Um, It’s a different DNA. It’s a different way of interfacing with life, um, in risk and all of the challenges that come from stepping out there on a limb, trying to hatch an egg and manifest a dream. Uh, destroy lives, but also make for, the wonderful achievements that we see here on planet earth.

So I asked him to join me and talk about why entrepreneurs are different, and if you, or someone, you know, in love is an entrepreneur. It’s very Sage wisdom, what he brings to the table about how to understand yourself. So you don’t get over your skis and fall on your face and lose the work-life balance and lose the family and the health and all the things. That we say are important to us and sometimes get lost in the mix.

So without further ado, enjoy the podcast.

Dr Pedram Shojai: My dear friend, it is good to see you.

Jeff Hays: Uh, good to see you.

Dr Pedram Shojai: So, Jeff and I have a long history. , we’ve wandered, wandered the desert together. , fellow filmmaker, dear friend, , he’s been around the block. We’ve been through a lot ups and downs together and, have a lot of respect for this man. So, we’re gonna, we’re gonna talk about things within the context of, , difficulty and adversity.

Dr Pedram Shojai: Um, and I’ve seen Jeff go through a lot, right? Don’t know how much of it we’re gonna get into here, but Jeff’s had some, , recent grief and some, , lots, lots of bumps on the road. So, uh, you know, uh, a guy who’s been around the block and comes from a place of experience. One of my favorite things before we get in about Jeff is I.

Dr Pedram Shojai: He’s just brutally honest. He doesn’t have time to bullshit anyone. And sometimes he’ll just say the thing that the person needs to hear instead of what they wanna hear. And I have a lot of respect for that, right? I’ve seen you in rooms where people, you know, are asking for some sort of, you know, something and you just tell ’em what you truly see in that moment.

Dr Pedram Shojai: And, um, you know, people don’t need cheerleaders. They need honesty and truth, and I appreciate that stance that you take.

Jeff Hays: Thank you. Yeah. My mentor used to say, uh, your friends don’t tell you what you want to hear. They tell you what you need to hear. It was, um, I did an interview. I’m hiring a new executive admin and And this woman came in and I asked her, the first question was, I said, okay, well tell me what your ideal work situation would be. And she literally used the word per se, in the answer, you know, well, per se, you know, and, and you know, I, I like a situation where striving and, and, and then it was just word salad. After that I, you know, let her finish. And I said, okay. You know, I’m sorry for being so obtuse, but I don’t know that you heard the question, but I certainly didn’t hear the answer.

Jeff Hays: So let’s do that question again. And then she came up with, you know, and she was so busy, I. Presenting a persona that there was no person there. And I’m sitting there going, okay, how long do I have to have this interview go to where I’m not being rude? And then, you know me, I went, tell you what, I’m gonna save us both some time. And, um, you, you wouldn’t be happy here. And we wouldn’t be happy with you. And, and so let’s, let’s call this. And, you know, the interview had been like four minutes and she goes, well yeah, do you mind if I ask why? And I said, um, let’s pass on that because it wouldn’t be kind. So, and she goes, no, I would really like to know it’ll help me. And I go, well, you know, uh, I only can associate with real people. And you brought a persona in here. And, um, I, I don’t have time to, to ne negotiate and navigate through, uh, somebody who’s got a persona. And, um, anyway, it, it just like straight talk is easily understood. I literally don’t know those languages of saying one thing and meaning another. It confuses me.

Dr Pedram Shojai: Yeah, well, and it confuses everyone else, but they’re so busy trying to confuse each other that they kinda live in this nether world of lack of meaning and lack of understanding, and that’s kind of the world we live in, . It’s really, it’s really a weird situation. I.

Jeff Hays: I can’t play there.

Dr Pedram Shojai: Yeah, that’s it. I said I’m, you know, I’m too old for that shit, right?

Dr Pedram Shojai: Um, , I don’t have time. I’d rather spend time with my kids. So you just recently wrote a book, um, you’ve written a couple. One of ’em hasn’t come out yet. The one that I just had, the, the luxury of, of listening to is on the entrepreneurial brain. And for those of you who are about to say, well, uh, you know, that’s not me.

Dr Pedram Shojai: It was such a. Powerful expose of vulnerability meets chaos, meets, um, kind of predictable anxiety and how to deal with being in the wild west of this thing called entrepreneurism, right? It’s really easy to have a job, job and show up and, you know, try not to get fired. It’s a lot harder to be a creator of jobs, right?

Dr Pedram Shojai: Which is what the backbone of America is built on, and I just thought it was just such a raw. Expose of a guy who’s made a lot of mistakes and talks about ’em openly and freely and talks about the, the DNA that goes into that. So I’d love to like what drove you finally to write a book about that? The hard stuff.

Jeff Hays: So, you know, whenever I’m in conversation with friends for a decade, people would say, oh man, you ought to write a book. Oh man, you ought to write a book. And so I don’t wanna be a speaker. I’m not gonna be a guru. I don’t want, um. To, to build a following. And that’s, you know, books are not profitable ventures, you know, they, you know, you do it to lead to something else. And this, I didn’t have it to lead to anywhere, but I started making notes. So I decided every time I say one of my hazes, which you’ve, you know, uh, you know, I, I would jot that down and eventually I had enough content that I’m like, okay, there’s, there’s a book in here. And I was really thinking about my grandkids, some of whom are entrepreneurs, have entrepreneur brains, and I would like to leave them something, um, that would, you know, a little bit of a guidepost that I didn’t have. And so that became, you know, the entrepreneurial brain. And then Harper Collins lost all their, uh, intelligence and agreed to publish it and boom, you know, there it is.

Dr Pedram Shojai: Yeah. Yeah. Someone fell asleep at the wheel.

Dr Pedram Shojai: Um.

Jeff Hays: Yeah, it was someone that snuck through. At the end of the year, they’re gonna go, wait a minute, who’s responsible for

Dr Pedram Shojai: Who okayed this guy? You know, one, one of the things in there that, that really cut, I don’t know why it caught me off guard, but you kind of presented it in such a matter of fact way, was almost a warning that the DNA that makes the entrepreneurial brain. It can also lead to criminal activity. , right? Like you could really go off the rails quickly with this type of brain, and it was, you know. It was kinda obvious after you said it, but it was just such a, a, a, a stunning statement in the way you kind of brought it about. So I’d love for you to unpack that for a minute. It’s, it really, um, I, I, I think it helps, it helped me understand why so many of these people that went awry in high school just, you know, had had the same DNA, but just made bad choices.

Jeff Hays: Yeah, this is really an important point. Um, like the difference between Elizabeth Holmes, uh, and, and Theranos. You know, she was a billionaire and, and her company was a total fraud. And as I watched, uh, both a docuseries and a, a scripted series about her, the difference between her and Steve Jobs or Elon Musk is minuscule. It’s like, so there’s some attributes of the entrepreneurial brain and the, that, are it. John Gartner’s, a psychologist who labeled it the. The hypomanic advantage and it’s hypomania, not hypermania, and people that have this brain, we go up and we stay there. We don’t have the depression that usually that accompanies somebody who rockets up and so there, you know, there’s 10 attributes, but they’re attributes like we tend to talk too much. We often act out sexually. Um, we believe our own bss. We think the rules don’t apply to us. And so if you think those like. Steve Jobs was famous for, you know, this is impossible. His team would tell him and he would get a new team, or he would, you know, set a deadline that could not be hit and then make them figure a way to hit it. Elon Musk is doing this daily in multiple industries. You look at, he took over Twitter, got rid of 80%. Got rid of or lost 80% of the employees. Everybody said it’s dead. And he’s running that company with one fifth of the employees that they had. A year ago, and the service is actually getting better. You know, that can’t be done. But same, you know, the, the rules of rocketry, where he goes through and why are we doing this? And they go, well, it’s in the specs. Who put it in the specs, chase it back all the way. What’s the first principle? Does this violate the laws of physics? And if it doesn’t, then we’re gonna go a different direction. that insanity of, of seeing the impossible and go, that doesn’t apply to me. Well, these are the rules. These are the way we’ve always made rockets. That doesn’t apply to me. If you don’t have some moral guidance, if you don’t have some guideposts, this is can easily become criminal thinking. The rules don’t apply to me. Um. You know, that’s a dangerous thing to think. The good news about it is, is, is, you know, Steve Jobs wonderful quote about, you know, here’s to, you know, to the visionaries that the people that think they can do the impossible, because they’re the ones who do, uh, we often liken it. Doug Brockman is a psychologist who writes about it. We are hunters in a world built for farmers. And you know, in, in school we generally don’t do well in school. We’re great with big picture, bad with details. Um, we know, we tend, I learned by talking, you know, I know I’ve said to you in the past, Pedram, how do I know what I think until I hear what I say? We literally. Say things out loud. And then another part of our brain is responsible for hearing it and processing it. And that’s how we inform ourselves. And, and so, um, the, you know, these, the world is not, you know, imagine how popular you’d be with teachers if you, you went to school and said, listen, soul doesn’t like to. Uh, to sit in a chair much so you need to let him roam around. And by the way, he learns by talking. So let him talk as much as he wants. that, that, you know, our schools were designed by farmers. For farmers. They were designed to produce good factory workers and we’re not good at that. So, you know, there’s maybe three to 5% of the estimates of people who have an entrepreneurial brain, and we need some guidepost ’cause it can get you in trouble.

Dr Pedram Shojai: There’s something. Thing you got me thinking about with that metaphor as I was, uh, listening to the book in that hunters also had issues around scarcity. Right. We got really good at fasting and you know, we had to really tune in on, you know, where the, the meat was gonna be ’cause we’re running outta calories to get it.

Dr Pedram Shojai: And it really kind of brought up some of this . This memory of so many of my entrepreneurial friends who’ve repeatedly also gone broke. They seem to function best when they’re starving, and then they, that those genes start to activate. And so the parallels, and you listen, you’ve, you’ve had your ups and downs.

Dr Pedram Shojai: You talk about it in the book. So I mean, you’ve lost a lot of money. You’ve made a lot of money, and it’s really, you know, intriguing to, to, to follow your journey in this. But, um, it reminded me of sometimes when, you know, and I’ve known you for a long time, Jeff Hayes sometimes is best with his back against the wall when he’s a starving hunter.

Dr Pedram Shojai: And that . That, that recurring theme with the entrepreneurs I thought was really fascinating in, in the reading of your book.

Jeff Hays: Yeah, this quality of resilience, um, when other people start to get, get frightened, I check in with myself and I’m like, Nope. That’s excitement. I’m feeling. I feel the adrenaline, but it, instead of fear, it, it, it comes out as excitement. And what, there’s this irrational confidence. That I had before I was supposed to have it. Um, I used to think I could solve every problem and I didn’t have the skillset to solve it, but I thought I could. Now, I’ve been doing this long enough and seen enough situations that I’m actually a really capable problem solver, but the confidence was always there. So like when I get backed into a corner, it doesn’t intimidate me.

Jeff Hays: I go, okay, now is when. I’ve become valuable. I’m the guy who can stay calm and see a pathway through this and, and, you know, I, this is something that can’t be taught. One time I was, I was giving a talk on entrepreneurship at the University of Utah’s. Um. Um, business class, their, their, um, MBA program and somebody asked, can entrepreneurship be taught? And my answer is, absolutely, as long as you’re teaching it to an entrepreneur and like, so there’s lots that an entrepreneur needs to lo learn, but there’s some things that you really ought to be. And, and this is good to know yourself, like there’s ways to own businesses that aren’t entrepreneurial. Um, like owning a franchise can put somebody in their own business, they can make a fortune, you know? I would love to own 30 McDonald’s or, or, you know, that that’s a good business. It’s not entrepreneurial. It’s a perfect way for somebody to segue from the corporate world to being in charge of their own life. The entrepreneur of seeing a need that’s not being filled and, and creating something that’s a different animal. And, um, that’s my tribe.

Dr Pedram Shojai: Yeah, it’s even with the car washer, the McDonald’s, there’s a playbook and if you’re a good rule follower. Um, you have a little higher risk tolerance. The franchise model works, but if you’re the guy writing the plays before there’s even time to write a playbook, you know, a lot of times those plays don’t work, right?

Dr Pedram Shojai: And so you have to fail fast, fail forward. You have to have this word that you and I talked about just before the call resilience. Resilience is a really interesting thing. Resilience is lengthening. Resilience has a lot of definitions that we can layer onto this. Um. I know you to be a resilient person, you’re genetically resilient.

Dr Pedram Shojai: Um, you know, the famous story is, you know, the haze, you know, in West Texas, we’re known as a scrappy lot,

Dr Pedram Shojai: like written in the local newspaper. Um, I, I, work towards resilience. I’m up doing qigong and yoga and breathing and doing these resilience building practices every day, or else I’m gonna get smoked, right?

Dr Pedram Shojai: Like I have to work on resilience. You have it genetically, like you’re just a scrappy dude. What is that resilience that an entrepreneur has? What’s the positive side and then what’s the negative side of that? I mean, you, you’re big into KOLBY scores. You’re big into, you know, assessing your strengths.

Jeff Hays: Yeah, it, it’s actually, um. I, I was, I had a book on my shelf, uh, anti-Fragile that I thought, you know, that’s been sitting there for about three years. A friend sent it to me. I probably should read that book. I pulled it down and opened the page and a friend of mine, loose Portelli sent it to me and said, Jeff, you live anti-fragile. Uh, and then I looked at the date. It was 2013. That book that had been on my shelf for three years had been on my shelf for 10 years at, at It only took me a decade to read it, but where he talks about, you know, you have things that are fragile, a teacup is fragile, it’s, you know, and then you have things, we think the opposite of fragile is resilient.

Jeff Hays: That bounces back. That’s not the opposite of fragile. The opposite of fragile is anti-fragile, and that is something that gets stronger under stress And um, I had never had this thought before. A good example is restaurant. A restaurant as a business is fragile. It, you know, it, it can go under. Lots of them do go under. The restaurant industry is anti-fragile. When individual restaurants go broke because their food isn’t good enough, their location isn’t good enough, they’re replaced. In the restaurant industry, buy a better restaurant and the, the, the stress of that business is actually makes it a better business. Uh, and so the restaurant industry is anti-fragile. I. And so this anti-fragility is more of a target for me than resilience is. It’s not just being able to withstand the buffeting. It is, you know, taking the shot and then getting stronger, getting better, actually becoming more, more effective. Um, the, the downside of this. Is there’s not a lot of anti-fragile people, and we fill our lives and we tend to wreck the fragile people around us and even the just normal people. We don’t take time to celebrate. Like all of a sudden you ride, knock one out of the park and everybody on our team wants to go, oh, let’s take a breath, and, and you’re like, are you kidding? Now is when we gotta hit the accelerator. You know this, it’s the next goal. That’s exciting. You know? Yeah. We did that. And so people around us can feel, um, unheard, unappreciated. And, you know, a part of my job has been to, to learn to pause and not expect the same anti-fragility from people. Um, that, that I bring to it.

Jeff Hays: Mid Bumper

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Dr Pedram Shojai: I wanna explore this a little more. A good friend of ours, uh, Ari Whitten, has really championed this concept of hormesis, right? What, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger within limits, right? Um. You can do ice baths to strengthen your body. You could do heat therapy, you could do exercise oxygen therapy, all the stuff that Jeff, Jeff does in his morning routine.

Dr Pedram Shojai: All of these hormetic stressors to trigger the right epigenetics to tell your mitochondria, this animal wants to live and keep going, and, and it builds strength, it builds anti-fragility. I mean, resilience is a word that’s obviously used in that gestalt as well, but it, it makes you better now. Go out into Arctic cold for too long, you freeze to death, right?

Dr Pedram Shojai: You, you, you know, jump into a hot, molten lava. That wasn’t the sauna, right? You’re dead. And so there is that line in business and it’s a really, really shaky like, you know, moving target where you can build your capacity to be a better market. A better businessman. Better entrepreneur in, in general. Every once in a while you hit the iceberg and everyone dies.

Dr Pedram Shojai: Right? And so building that in business is a very scary proposition. You got people riding on it. You got kids, you feed, you got employees that you want to keep. So how do you, how do you tack that line in business and, and have a hormetic growth curve without crashing and burning every time? And you’ve, and look, you’ve crashed.

Dr Pedram Shojai: I’ve, I’ve crashed and burned before. You’ve done it a few times, it doesn’t feel great, right? But how do you pick up and do it and learn from that?

Jeff Hays: You know, the, it, it’s funny, you and I, people would look at us from the outside years ago and go, oh, those are two competitors. We’re both making films. We’re both in, in, in same. And at that time I was doing mostly health stuff. We’re doing Things and people would assume we’re competitors. And instead we had semi-annual meetings where we’re like, okay, what are you learning? What, what, um, what, you know, what can we, and we collaborated and supported one another. Um, but I surround myself with. Truth tellers and because I know I have these blind spots and you are one of the truth tellers in my life that, you know, if I tell you something and, and you’re, you’re the first one to say, Jeff, you know, bullshit yourself if you want, but don’t expect me to buy that. You know, and this is, this is the f the, the framework that somebody has to build is have people around, don’t have people around that will, that are naysayers. It, you know, that will, will, you know, talk negatively about your baby ideas. They need to grow in bloom. And so it’s not, I need people around me that say, no, I need people around me that tell the truth. And you know, you’re one of those people. I have a whole collection of people and that’s my resource to keep me from jumping the track.

Dr Pedram Shojai: Having jumped the track, right,

Dr Pedram Shojai: is Yeah. Yeah. You need that. You need the gauges in front of you to know the airplane’s actually tilting. Um, yeah. That’s really interesting. And you’ve, you probably go to more masterminds than anyone I know. You probably spend a four a quarter million dollars would be a guess, right?

Dr Pedram Shojai: You probably spend a fair amount of money every year being in rooms with smart people, and I see you in the corner prolifically taking notes in that notebook of yours.

Jeff Hays: Yeah, at least 200,000 a year on, on Masterminds. Um, but like two days ago, I had the former governor of Missouri here in my studio, filming all day, had dinner with him that night. This guy is a Rhode Scholar, former Navy Seal, uh, former governor of Missouri. A week before that had a Nobel Prize winner, uh, who won the 2007 Nobel Prize in Medicine over for dinner at. My house that, you know, I’m a high school dropout, you know, sitting with, you know, with a Rhode Scholar, you know, this is just this week. All of these relationships come from going to masterminds, establishing all the relationships that I have there, and then their contacts and and it just expands and grows into where You know, between you and I, we have the richest database of, of valuable on every level, not people. We’re trying to make money with people that make us smarter for being around them, and this is being a lone wolf. It’s difficult. I need the support of groups and then these relationships that form that lead to more relationships to where, you know, now, you know, we have a database of, of contacts and friends that, um, it’s, you know, the real wealth is what you have left. If you lose all your money, I. And people always mistake it when I say that. They think, oh yeah, your family, your health. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about staying in the financial arena. The real financial wealth is the skills you develop and the relationships that you have. You could take, either you or I, take away everything we had, and within one year we will have it all back. Because of our skills and our relationships. And that’s why, you know, you can’t bust us out now because of, because of those two things. That’s real wealth.

Dr Pedram Shojai: I love that. I, I think Tony Robbins says, you know, resourcefulness versus resources, right? Everyone thinks you need resources to get wealthy. Um, you’ve been up and down many times. I’ve seen you conjure up multimillion dollar enterprises off the back of a napkin with an idea, and then resourcefully pulling.

Dr Pedram Shojai: The capital player and the, the, so-and-so player and just pulling all the pieces together because everyone loves a great idea. And when you have a stroke of genius, which is a hundred percent free, it’s the at the bottom of your next breath that will move mountains. And that to me is the true entrepreneurial DNA.

Dr Pedram Shojai: It’s almost like the artist’s muse is you tap into this universal wisdom. You look for where the pain points are. You find true solutions that can help at scale and those ideas. worth a lot of money to society. And so finding the money and the, the, the, the team and the resources, that’s all just the minutiae.

Dr Pedram Shojai: It’s the big idea stuff that I have a lot of fun hanging out with you around. Right. Um, I’m not good at most things. I’m good at ideas. And so that part of the entrepreneurial brain and spirit, I would love for you to kind of expand on. ’cause that’s, that’s the real juju that I think you sit in a lot of the times, but you’re also.

Dr Pedram Shojai: You know, you’re also whispering down to people who have that DNA trying to help them manage that, which I think is really important. No one’s talking to entrepreneurs the way you, you have.

Jeff Hays: Yeah, you know what? It’s there. There’s two ends of the spectrum. I have a guy who works for me who told me, I don’t know, maybe eight, 10 years ago. He goes, I don’t have ideas. I. I’m like, what? And he goes, no, I, I don’t have ideas. Um, I, he executes, he does stuff. He doesn’t have ideas. And I’m, I, I can’t imagine that, like I’m plagued with ideas. And so I have an idea folder online that every time I have a new idea, I get it written down and I have a multitude of things I wanna do and I have to get ’em on paper so I don’t have to do them. And then, you know, it, it, when I’m, when I had crashed a business, I pull out my ideal folder and look at those and go, oh, this one. And now I’m excited about that. What’s, what’s next? Um, the, the, the other side of the equation is there’s people who think ideas have value and, you know, oh, I got this great idea, and they want to charge you You know, I want 50% for giving you the idea. And ideas are useless if you can’t do something with them. You know, I I, I remember many times I’ve made a film and somebody would say, yeah, I, I had that idea. I I thought about making a film about that, and I always am disdainful. I’m like, yeah, we all think of stuff and don’t do it. I did it, you know, you, you’ve actually got across the line and put wheels on it and make it roll and wings on it and make it fly. Um, you know, oh, I thought of ai. Okay, great. You know, some, somebody else developed AI and, and the reward is distributed, uh, accordingly.

Dr Pedram Shojai: It’s funny, I was sitting in your, I haven’t seen you in a, in a minute. Um, and we, you know, had a day with Jeff at his studio, just whiteboarding and this process I think I wanna talk about in a second. But, um, someone was pitching Jeff on an idea for a film, literally the same name. That of the series. Same concept, same name of a series that I had already trademarked, filmed, and I’m about to let go of, right?

Dr Pedram Shojai: And it was just like, that’s how quickly ideas get grabbed by the hundredth monkey, right? There’s this quantum field of ideas. Soon as you have an idea. It’s outta your cranium. People are feeling it, people are sensing it. You have now birthed that idea into the creative commons, whether you know it or not, whether you’ve spoken it or not.

Dr Pedram Shojai: So you have to move fast and execute on ideas. But I, I wanna talk about this one thing. Um, now that I’m already in your, in the room, the room that he’s sitting in right now, I was in, I don’t know, a few days ago, and the way Jeff and I have done this for years is we just talk and start throwing up ideas.

Dr Pedram Shojai: On Hi, the whiteboard, his or mine, right? I used to have a whiteboard room, right? And we would just throw ideas up on the, on these things, and then we’d kind of, you know, take a, take a break, eat some food, drink some tea, look up at ’em. And, and in the end, with all due respect, I’m just like, Hey, that, I like that one a lot.

Dr Pedram Shojai: This one here, this one, you know, is worth a try, but go quickly. And so it becomes this kind of spitball idea soup, where we get to pressure test ideas against . For me, my lifeguard has soul and Sophia and Elm. I have a very different lifeguard than Jeff. He has, you know, he’s, he’s a grandpa now and so I have to always pressure test new ideas against the, the water, the, the water I have for the other plants.

Dr Pedram Shojai: So does Jeff obviously, but our, our life math is different. We’re in different phases in life and he had a few ideas where I was just like, these are my hell yas, right? With all due respect, I’m not gonna shoot down the other ideas, but he’s also looking for the spark in another . Entrepreneurs eyeballs to see if that takes off with my little brain and why that does.

Dr Pedram Shojai: And then we talk and we talk Before this guy goes and spends, you know, time and energy doing something, we pressure test it.

Jeff Hays: Yeah, I, I used to, I, I love, I had a software development company and I would go in. And muse, you know, we ought to do this, we ought to. And, and I’m just thinking. And then all of a sudden I come back a week later and they had started building it, and I’m like, oh, it’s a stupid idea. What? And they go, Jeff, you told us to do this and, and I didn’t realize I was just musing. But 90% of what I come up with within two or three days, I know not to act on it. Within two or three days I will go, oh, I forgot about this, this, and this, and, and there. Um, and so I’ve learned to slow down and, but the key to, you know, when I think of stuff, you know, running these ideas past, again, not Not naysayers, not people who they’re gonna find, you know, like smart people can kill any idea. It’s you gotta have somebody that’s like you and, and other people in my life who are, are not programmed for, no, not programmed for, yes, we’re programmed for, do I recognize what you said? That spark, and then if I see it light up in your eyes, then that helps confirm to me. Okay, I need to think about this more.

Jeff Hays: I need to continue to stress test this idea where in my thirties, that was just like a, a, a green light. I would just go, now I’m a little slower and and I don’t fall in love with my own thinking as, um, well, I still fall in love with my own thinking, but then I start cheating on it.

Dr Pedram Shojai: You know, in the, uh, Daoist all chemical world, we say, you know, the wizard’s life is a lonely life. And I think the entrepreneur entrepreneurial life is much . Like, you know, you’re like Merlin, like they gotta lock you in your tower so you can workshop your crap. And then once in a while you come down when you’ve baked an idea far enough to be worth talking about.

Dr Pedram Shojai: Because if not, your ideas are dangerous. ’cause people take them as doctrine.

Jeff Hays: Yeah. And, and, and this is the value of Masterminds to. Is, you know, I have an entrepreneurial group that I’m a part of, and it was originally more tactical and we would talk tactics and strategy, and so many entrepreneurs gathered there together that it really is an entrepreneurial support group and it’s just to have every couple of months a meeting with 60 people in the room that are just as broken and brilliant as you are and in the same way. And we can take a breath and go, okay, we’re not crazy. We’re different, but we’re not crazy. And, and just charge that battery emotionally and then go back up in the tower.

Dr Pedram Shojai: Yeah. And the tower again is your workshop. It’s not necessarily be broadcast. And that’s the problem with, you know, online stuff. Now you can, you could hatch an idea faster than you could stop, you know, hitting send and it’s already out there and it’s late and you know, you know what I mean? So you really have to measure thrice on new ideas.

Dr Pedram Shojai: One of the things I, I, I would love for you to, I’d like some guardrails, right? I wanna talk two entrepreneurs in a second, but I also wanna talk to would-be entrepreneurs? How do you know if you’re thinking you need to be an entrepreneur, because Elon Musk is some sort of hero, or, you know, we like to create these guys into heroes, but they have very different DNA who, who that is listening right now should not try to be an entrepreneur.

Jeff Hays: Yeah, this, and this is really like, I, I hate that Elon Musk is being held up out as the Perfect example of an entrepreneur, and I love this guy. You know, I, I, I just listened to a 30 hour Walter Isaacson biography of, of Elon Musk, and I mean, by the end of the book, I felt like I was losing a friend when the book was finished. That being said, I wouldn’t want to be one of the people in his circle because he’s. He’s not good with them and I definitely would not want to be him. But when he started two companies that he said, both of them, he felt had a 15% chance of succeeding. He had invested over a hundred million of his own money in, in making an electric car and sending a rocket to space.

Jeff Hays: These and like these are. And eventually was down to where he was sleeping on friends’ couches. He could have gone completely broke after already cashing out with over a hundred million dollars and be known as a, a, the stupid guy who had a hundred million and lost all of it. Um. And we hold that up. Uh, you know, we, we used to say, you know, I used to say the phrase, what does, uh, you know, a business require? What does entrepreneurship require? Every drop of the owner’s blood. I’m done with that kind of thinking. I like the way you play the game and that. You take lots of risk, but you also have your bases covered. You know, when I talk, you carve out time for your kids. That is sacred and it’s not optional. Um, it, it’s like you have those pieces as you say, you know, your, your lifeguard. Um, you better than, um. Most of the entrepreneurial people I know really put those things in a proper order. You know, you’re, you have attention with, you know, I remember one year you made a deal with your wife, okay. This year I’m not traveling. And you tended to the garden, uh, of, of your wife that Okay, I, you know, I, I had some projects, I had a lot of travel.

Jeff Hays: I had this, um, this is your year, not, um. And this is the way I want entrepreneurs to learn to be. It doesn’t have to be, um, you, you’re a financial success that your kids never knew you and your third wife has left you. Um, and, and with good reason. Uh, you can play the entrepreneurial game without leaving, uh, wreckage all around you. And Elon Musk is not the, the, the, the right example. He’s the perfect example. If you want to be the richest man in the world, but not to be somebody who’s having a happy life, who should not be an entrepreneur. You know, my friend who’s, you know, who’s worked for me for a decade, who doesn’t have ideas, he’s right where he’s supposed to be. If. If risk and putting it all on the line. We don’t need everybody in the country starting a business. It’s, you know, it, it, you know, we need to, I, I always think, you know, if everybody was given a million dollars, wouldn’t it be great if everybody in the country one day got a million dollars? The problem is, okay, well who’s gonna pick up the trash next Monday at my house? You know the guy driving that truck is quit his job ’cause he’s a millionaire. Uh uh, you go to the restaurant and there’s no food because everybody in there is now a millionaire. Um, they, they’ve all quit. Society works. If we all play our role, and if you are called to be an entrepreneur, you know it, do it. And if you’re not, then you’re, you know, okay, where is my genius? Where is my highest level of contribution to the, to the tribe? We all want the same things. And that’s for our talents to be recognized and utilized for the benefit of us and the people around us. That’s the most satisfying life. It’s like, okay, how can I be of the most service? What are my unique qualities that I can bring to this game for the benefit of me, my family, and everyone around me?

Dr Pedram Shojai: I love that the scoreboard is a, is a very different one. Um, you know, you know, we’ve been kicking around some, some similar circles. I finished a film last year with Robert. With Robert Kiyosaki who had, you know, a very simple formula, which was, look, if your passive income, uh, exceeds your monthly expenses, then you’re free.

Dr Pedram Shojai: Right? So if your monthly expenses are 2,500 bucks and you, you know, are making 2,500 through some side hustle, then you don’t need to work. That is wealth. You bought your time back, right? That wasn’t . An eight figure number. It wasn’t a nine figure number, it was freedom. And so re uh, contextualizing what abundance and freedom, wealth, happiness, and all these things are, I think is overdue.

Dr Pedram Shojai: I. In a culture that likes to stereotype and build up the gazillionaires as the heroes, right? And look, you, you’ve hung with the wealthiest in the world. You’ve, you know, been, you know, doing a lot of mission work and whatever you do, you’re always, you know, somewhere with your hands dirty. Um, your advice to an entrepreneur, right?

Dr Pedram Shojai: If you’re not an entrepreneur, you’re not an entrepreneur, don’t try it. It sucks, right? If you are an entrepreneur, what you know. Not, not to talk through your whole book, but what just general bumpers would you give those folks? Us crazy people in how to do it.

Jeff Hays: Yeah, so something that you touched on. I have a friend who wrote a book called More Than Enough, and it’s not more than enough. It’s more than enough and, and it’s putting this in place before you start. You are, you’re always gonna want more. I. Now let’s identify what is enough and you know, so if you have more and more and more, then enough and then you can continue to earn.

Jeff Hays: You can continue to grow. But now you have enough. And now great. Now I can start funding things. I have enough. I, when I was in my early thirties, I had. Um, for, I, I I say I had a Learjet. The, the reality is I had prepaid time for a solid year on a, on a Learjet. And so, uh, I could go anywhere I wanted on a Learjet, but it was a Lear 24, which was a small jet, you know, like a flying tube. The, the. The toilet in. This was a jump seat behind the pilots. So obviously I never used the toilet on this flight. you would, you know, and, and it was great. It was a Learjet. Um, but we pulled up, I lived in Dallas. We’d flown to Salt Lake and we pulled up to the, the FBO at, at that time was called Millionaire. And I’m looking through the little window. Uh, next to me was AG three, which was the biggest Gulf Stream at that time. And I’m looking at that and I go in and ask the people. I go, whose jet is that? And they said, well, it’s John Huntsman. And I’m like, well, who’s he? And they said, well, he’s a local billionaire.

Jeff Hays: I go, what did he do? And he owned a chemical company, but at that time when he, he, he got, they said he makes the styrofoam containers that McDonald’s. Come in Big Mac, which is one of the things they did is those that are still in, you know, for the next few thousand years in landfills all over, uh, the world. Uh, but I went and sat back in my plane and looked at that jet and I felt poor and because his plane was so much nicer than mine. So if you can sit. In a Learjet and feel poor. You have the disease of more and you can never be happy. So step one is to, is to identify, okay, what’s more I. And, and what’s enough. And then putting people, advisors, and mentors in your life that will tell you when you are buying your own bss, when you’re drinking your own whiskey and, and having this, and then setting some philosophies. Um, I, I cringe. A lot of times when I hear people talk about win-win because the phrase got hijacked and, and you know, people say, I only do win-win deals half of the times I’ve heard that. I know I’m about to get screwed by this person because they don’t believe that at all. But I work with a therapist that, you know, that literally this is a, a, uh. A guardrail. We only do win-win deals, period. I was negotiating a, a, um, a, a deal. We sold a a series and we were originally gonna sell it to to Apple, and instead a company called Quibi bought it. And Quibi was Jeffrey Katzenbergs company. Meg Whitman was the president. They raised $1.6 billion, uh, and spent in one year, 1.3 billion, but they were making content. I. That was everybody that you’re gonna compete with. Netflix? No. They made content specifically for your phone. And so one of their rules was every episode had to be shorter than 10 minutes. So we had this eight episode series and we had to convert from doing an hour, uh, documentary. It had to be a 10 minute or less documentary, eight of them. And as a result, the budget was smaller. Um, and so we, we got a budget from them of 2.1 million for these eight, eight episodes, and we were discussing it and how do we make this work? And my producing partner came in and says, well, we need to take from the author. We need to take this amount. And I’m like, you know that, that’s not fair. Um, and he goes, well, and the first thing he suggested is that I would lose a hundred thousand on the project. And they said, well, no, let’s take it from the writer. And I’m like, no, no. And, and I’m like, I’m not agreeing to that. And he goes, you’ll lose this Quibi deal if we don’t get, I’m like, then if the deal doesn’t work for everybody, I don’t care if we lose the deal or not. And so. I was intractable, wouldn’t agree. And then he becomes a martyr. Well, fine, we’ll just take it all outta my side. And I’m like, no, uh, I’m also not doing a deal. That’s not fair to you. and you know, so, um, it’s not just, you know, I’m gonna do it where I win and he loses. And so literally I forced him to sit in the fire and we’re gonna rework this until it’s a win-win for everybody involved. This is something I paid lip service to during the first 20 years of my career.

Jeff Hays: It was, you know, I was all for win-win unless the chips were really down and maybe I’m gonna get crushed. Then all of a sudden it’s every man for himself. And now it is baked in from the start that if we can’t structure a win-win deal, then I’m not playing. And amazingly enough, the person that I generally cheated the most was me. I would do deals where I, I I would give up too much. I didn’t put a win in it for me. I didn’t feel I deserved it. And it took a lot of therapy to go, okay, wait a minute, I. And, and you know, I do this, uh, you don’t have this issue. Um, and I would literally think, what would Pedram do? And how would, how would Pedram handle this? And you, you’re a win-win mentality, but you also know your own val value and you don’t enslave yourself into bad deals, uh, because you get emotional. Uh, and, uh, like numerous times, what would Pedram do? What would Pedram say?

Jeff Hays: So thank you for that.

Dr Pedram Shojai: Yeah, you’re you’re very welcome. The, you know, the one thing I learned early on was good boundaries, right? And boundaries have to revolve around your own needs too. One of the things that came up for me, as you were saying that is you’re willing to let go of your own fiduciary interest because you actually love the idea and the deal.

Dr Pedram Shojai: More than you love the money, which is also a part of the entrepreneurial

Dr Pedram Shojai: cursed slash you know, spirit. Right? And, and it’s never, it’s, it’s never been about, I’ve known you for a very long time. It’s never been about the money. I’ve seen millions of dollars come and go. You love ideas, you love the creative principle.

Dr Pedram Shojai: And so how do you pair that with this need for things to work and make money? I mean, I’ve seen you mature over the years and really assemble kind of . Infrastructure around how deals need to flow to work. But you know, in the old days we would just jump before we asked how high right? Like it was, it was easy to jump into ideas.

Jeff Hays: Yeah. Two, two. I will only do projects that make a profit and make an impact. And so it, it literally requires both of those things. So I’m not gonna do something just for the money if it doesn’t make an impact, it just doesn’t get my motor running. Is this gonna have, is this gonna be impactful? But I no longer will do something just because it’s impactful. Um, it has to be profitable. I have a foundation that my wife Dory and I set up, and literally 10% of my income we call Tuesday tithing. Tuesday every Tuesday. My bookkeeper calculates how much money we got in the previous week and we put 10% of the gross into the foundation. And so anytime my heart is moved, I can stroke out a check and with not a thought because the, you know, does the foundation have money in it or not? If it does then and where it used to be, if I was gifting money outta my business account, I’m like, okay, am I gonna feel stupid if I’m having trouble making payroll a month from now? Can I afford this? Now the money comes out, it’s in the foundation. And our charity work is, you know, I, I always have money available if my heart’s ever touched. That’s where I do my impact. No profit. You know, it is like, okay, I’ve separated my charity work. My business is for two reasons to make a profit and make an impact, and I can’t let anything else. If it’s charity work, oh, sorry, you came in the wrong room. You wanna go in the foundation room?

Dr Pedram Shojai: I love that. I love that. I wish I knew that a decade ago. I did a couple heartfelt projects that, you know, did fine for. Impact and, you know, lost money. Um, you feel good about it until you don’t. Right. Um, and you, um, you know, you don’t want your family to suffer for your charity work either, right? Like that’s, I don’t think that’s what God wanted from us.

Jeff Hays: I got for me, there’s nobody sitting around going, when’s the next Jeff Hayes movie coming out? I have to, I have to do projects other people want done. And then I have to, I, I fund them myself, so I have to get my money back because if I don’t, I don’t get to play anymore. And I love this game that we play. And so this is, you know, I wanna keep playing. And so that means I have to, to get my money back and make a profit. Um, uh, otherwise I’ll be, you know, at home not making movies.

Dr Pedram Shojai: Yeah. And, and the world suffers. Everyone suffers.

Dr Pedram Shojai: So, yeah.

Dr Pedram Shojai: And that’s also part of it, right? Is you know, so what if you had a good idea, ? Who’s the controller, who’s the operator? Who are the people that are actually implementing this and keeping their eyes on cash flow to keep the goose alive, right? Like it’s not just ideas like you said.

Dr Pedram Shojai: I mean, you get a book full of them, you get drives full of ’em, um, and you know, they don’t get to see the light of day unless there’s time and opportunity and money to fuel these dreams, right?

Jeff Hays: Yeah, and, and really the biggest, the first question that I had a business coach who just drilled this into me. I can’t start a new project until I answer who is like, here’s a new thing. I can’t wait to do it. My first question used to be, how am I gonna do that? How am I gonna go? Now, my first question is, who am I gonna put in charge of this project that is going to do it and report to me? And if I can’t answer the who question, I don’t get to do it.

Dr Pedram Shojai: Yeah, you don’t have time. You don’t have energy. It’s, yeah. That’s, that’s great. So the book is out, available. I’m assuming everywhere books are available. I. and, um, I really enjoyed it. Um, I’ve read a couple of the reviews, honest third party reviews that were, uh, really kind of breathtaking in, you know, how I think, I think it, it was moving, I’ve known you for a long time.

Dr Pedram Shojai: It was still just very raw and, um, gut punchy in some places. Um, you might not be an entrepreneur, but you know, someone who is to this. This book is for them. If it’s not for you, it’s really important for entrepreneurs to understand their own DNA, understand their tells, understand, uh, their tendencies and manage around that.

Dr Pedram Shojai: Lest they end up broker in jail, lest they end up, you know, leaving a trail of tears behind them. Um, so I thought it was really, you know, it was a lot of scar tissue, a lot of, you know, bumpy broy, uh, stories, which helped tell. The real story of the entrepreneurial brain instead of the moonshot story that we’re sold.

Dr Pedram Shojai: It’s

Dr Pedram Shojai: not all roses. It’s awesome, but it’s not all roses. I.

Jeff Hays: Yeah. This, I, I’m really, I, I remember just as you were talking, I remember the, the, first time I read one of your books and I called you and go, Pedrum, did you, did you write this? And you’re like, every word of it. I’m like, dang. Uh, he, he’s flipping brilliant. And, and the, you know, the, so I won’t compare my writing to, to yours, the, um, but you know, I did the best I could and it’s a good book.

Dr Pedram Shojai: It was wonderful. It was wonderful. I know, and you’re, you’re one of those guys that deflect, uh, accolades. So I’m gonna hold you right there and just kind of, you know, kiss your forehead in front of everyone. It’s a great book, man. It’s a really good book. I highly recommend it to anyone who is. Thinking they’re an entrepreneur or knows someone who is, um, well worth the time.

Dr Pedram Shojai: Lots of really good, um, seasoned al you know, allegory stories and wisdom in there. And I love the old Mormon guy and I don’t know if he’s still alive. Is he? He’s passed now, right?

Jeff Hays: Uh, yeah, he, uh, he is not here. I, I have files full of advice from him, and he, he was originally my parenting coach. Um, a, a friend neighbor across the street said, man, Jeff, you got so many kids. I gotta inter introduce you to David, who’s the best father I’ve ever known. And he was, uh, I, I I ended up, you know, I raised nine kids.

Jeff Hays: I would not have been able to do that if it wasn’t for his sage advice. And then it ended up being the advisor, my entire business career.

Dr Pedram Shojai: Love it. Jeff Hayes, you’re a hero. Um, I’ll put links to the book in here. Um, always great to see you.

Jeff Hays: Thank you, Pedram. This was a blast.

Jeff Hays: Closing Bumper

 Well, I certainly hope you enjoyed that. If you are an entrepreneur or you’re married to one or, you know, you’ve suffered one, um, I’m sure a lot of this. It hit home. Uh, look, it’s just a different type of wiring. And so I think Jeff brings a lot of honesty and a lot of clarity. To the discourse around it. And not everyone’s supposed to be an entrepreneur, right?

Some people cannot stomach the stress. Some people cannot stomach, um, the uncertainty. And if that’s, you don’t do it, don’t do it. But if that is you learn to manage it so that you don’t. Um, kill yourself for the people around you and make a mess, right? You don’t want to have a messy wake behind you. Anyways, hope you enjoyed it.

Uh, If you’re not subscribed to the podcast, please do. So. Um, the frequency is now back, um, and you’re going to start seeing more and more of these coming and you won’t know unless you’re subscribed. So go ahead and subscribe wherever you’re listening to this right now and share. Please.

Um, I’m spending a lot of time podcasting again, which is lovely.

I really enjoy it, but it is a good chunk of my week of, you know, time that I’m allocating to doing this. And so helping spread the word and getting the podcast out there and out to more people helps me. And it helps justify, you know, the lift. So if you’re enjoying it, share it and I will see you in the next one.

Thank you.​

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Dr. Pedram Shojai

NY Times Best Selling author and film maker. Taoist Abbot and Qigong master. Husband and dad. I’m here to help you find your way and be healthy and happy. I don’t want to be your guru…just someone who’ll help point the way. If you’re looking for a real person who’s done the work, I’m your guy. I can light the path and walk along it with you but can’t walk for you.