How My Serial Success Helped Me Realize I Had It Backwards All Along: Redefining What Success Means with Steve Little
Success has become so used in this day and age to mean the amount of material wealth we have in our lives, not accounting the amount of unhappiness we feel each and every day just to live up to what the world thinks what being successful means. We go to work hating our jobs every day that even though we earn, we still feel empty inside. Steve Little is no stranger to this narrative. As an acclaimed serial entrepreneur, investor, philanthropist and mergers and acquisitions expert, his journey of serial success is one that started with a lot of backward thinking. Success came to him in a form far from being his authentic self and living with his purpose. He shares how he overcame that as he redefines what success really means, which is finding that calling and living into the true purpose of your life.
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How My Serial Success Helped Me Realize I Had It Backwards All Along: Redefining What Success Means with Steve Little
I’m here to bring you a special interview with Steve Little. A little bit of background on Steve, he is an acclaimed serial entrepreneur, investor, philanthropist and a mergers and acquisitions expert. He is well-known for generating accelerated value growth and extraordinary high-acquisition value multiples for his clients. He sold his first company at age fifteen for nearly $250,000 and never looked back. He has led six successful startups for his own to private acquisitions of over $120 million each. He’s provided explosive growth in a lucrative hundred-million acquisitions for dozens more. First with top-tier Silicon Valley venture firms and in the past several years as Founder and merging of Zero Limits Ventures. I’m excited to bring you on, Steve, for our interview.
One of the things that you had shared with me when we were first talking, something that spoke out to me, which is why I decided to name the title of this interview, was how my serial success helped me realize that I had it backward all along. When I read your bio, there is so much success that’s embedded in that. I’d love to let you introduce yourself in a little bit about how in the world you’ve realized it backward in that journey.
Thanks for having me and thanks for the introduction. I’m glad to talk about this. It’s a seed component of my current purpose. I’m always happy to talk about that. Encapsulating some of what you shared, I’ve had a very successful career. I’ve been very blessed. I’ll be 60. I look back at all the companies I’ve built and all the people I’ve employed. All the money I’ve made, the charities, and causes I’ve been involved in and it’s all been a great blessing. For the first close to 30 years of that, I didn’t recognize it as that. I had extraordinary financial success. I was making ridiculous sums of money, it’s embarrassing. I didn’t experience that as a success. I came out of a family that at my age, my parents were children of the Depression generation. We’ve had inbred in us a work ethic. Life was hard. You go to school and get a job and work for about 40 years. Then somehow magically, in the end, it’s all going to work out and you’re going to be sipping umbrella drinks on the beach.
What I discovered along the way is that’s a big fat lie. That’s not true at all and that’s not how it works. I had fallen into that trap. That was a way of thinking is that you strive, strive, strive, earn, earn, earn, rat hole as much money as you can away and that’s what it was all about; more and more success, money, title or whatever. While I was on that path on that hamster wheel, I did very well with it financially. I wasn’t saying I walked around like a sad sack but it got to a point in my life where it hurts so much to go to work. I experienced not just emotional distress but physical pain to drive to work every day because I hated everything about my life at that time, except for the fact that I was financially independent and secure.
I had a big wake-up call one day where literally nothing happened to me. I had a realization that said, “This is a BS way to live. There’s got to be something more than more of this.” That’s the epiphany I had. I wish that I had made a quick decision and a quick turn but I didn’t. I compare it to an ocean liner that turns and that takes about half an hour to turn and then there’s a jet that turns and that takes a split second. I wish I had been the jet, but I was the ocean liner. I eventually got on a different path and recognize that life and real success, the true success, the success that you can feel, you can enjoy, you can experience is very different. It’s not dependent on money at all, it’s dependent on a lot of other things. I had that awakening and since then, I’ve focused most of my attention on looking for ways to express myself and to have an impact on the world that I want to be left with.
It speaks a lot to my audience. A lot of what has been coming through with some of the younger generations of men who I’ve been working with, who are in their 20s and 30s is that we’ve looked up to our fathers who are 50 and older. I love what you spoke to coming from parents being raised in the Great Depression where there was a lot of scarcity mentality, where there’s this old school idea of what it means to be successful. Even a lot of immigrants who had to work their ass off in order to survive and then continued to work in order to build a comfortable life for them and their family. We’re starting to re-examine and look at that old story and start to realize, “I was going to work and I was absolutely in so much pain and I was miserable.” I’m curious, for you, what made that turn? You said there wasn’t anything in particular but how old were you? You said it took you a little bit longer. What was the pivot point when you were finally waking up?Everybody has their own innate talent, energy and light. It's up to us to express that as powerfully as we possibly can. Click To Tweet
The contrast that I would draw there is I have a lot of contemporaries, successful people my age who had an event. They had a heart attack or they had something that caused them to snap too and say, “What am I doing here? This is not at all what I had in mind.” What I meant is I didn’t have one of those. I didn’t have a heart attack. I didn’t have a catastrophic life-changing experience. I had more of a gradual metamorphosis. It was a slow realization that the road I’ve been on, the things and the values I’ve lived by, and the things that have motivated me. They’re not the things that are core to my being. They’re not the things that I’m all about. They’re not the person I am. I made a decision and said, “I’m going to live into the life that I want to live into. I’m going to be the person who makes the change. I want to be the person who inspires others to find their path, find their calling, find their purpose and go forward into that to live into that purpose.”
My epiphany was a gradual personal growth journey or personal transformation. There were things that contributed to it. Doing what I was doing, working directly with a top-tier venture firm, there’s a tremendous amount of stress, a tremendous amount of pressure and a tremendous amount of risk each and every day. In one dimension I thrived on that and in the other dimension, I was horrified. It was that experience every day but none of it was allowing me to express me. People met me and unfortunately, a lot of times still to this day, people read my bio, they read my background and they have this vision of me or this image of me as being this bombastic company executive. It’s not at all who I am. I’m a deeply spiritual person who’s very focused on purpose, giving and doing. What I learned is that the real pathway to success is being the person that has the success you want.
It sounds odd but allow yourself to see success in a holistic view, not just how much money you make, not just the things you have. We all can accept that you can’t take any of that with you. What do you want to leave behind? For me, it was a great epiphany I had. I was working with a shaman in the rainforest and the conversation in our vernacular was what do you want to be on your tombstone? I thought about it and it came to me instantly. I want to be remembered as, “He brought joy into my life,” and that has nothing to do with money. That has nothing to do with how many companies I’ve built. It has nothing to do with any of that. It has to do with being focused on driving forward into being the person who would bring joy to others.
There are a couple of areas that I feel are important and are great topics to dive into. One of which is you have this old story that you were living by which was, “I need to make a lot of money so that I can do what I want.” This is an old story and this is one of the areas that pains me the most when I hear this. It never made sense to me which is why I chose to be on the entrepreneurial path. Why am I going to suffer throughout the majority of my youth when I’m active, mobile, the most capable and have the most energy to do some things? That one day when I’m old and fragile, I can retire and do the things that I never was able to do that I would have enjoyed more at my youth.
The sad reality is most people never find their way back. I don’t think there’s anything random in the universe. We can debate that but I don’t think there is. Everybody’s here with and for a purpose. Everybody has their own innate talent, their own being, their own energy, their own light. It’s up to us to express that as creatively, energetically and as powerfully as we possibly can. When you allow this story to literally put a damper over that or put a filter over that and say, “If you want to feed starving children in Africa or if you want to house the homeless in Haiti, you’ve got to make a lot of money first.” You defer that thing you want to do and focus on making a lot of money first so that you can then go do it, but it doesn’t work that way. The way it works is maybe you can’t feed a whole village but maybe you can feed a single kid for $50. You start there and then it’s $150, then it’s $1,500, then it’s $5,000, then it’s $10,000 and then it’s $100,000.
You are working and building the financial wherewithal to continue to grow that giving or that contribution that you want to make to the world. It is not always about giving money away, a lot of it is by doing things. If that’s what you want to do, start doing it right now. You find a way to do it, even if it’s a little thing. I was talking to one of the other folks that we met at a summit and he had the same epiphany. It was like in order for me to have a big enough impact after me making a ton of money I have to have a big reserve whatever it is. He had the same realization, “I can start right now. I can afford to give $75 here. I can afford to give an hour of my time there. I can afford to contribute this old car over there.” What happens is it pushes you into this contextual framework of giving and contributing.If it's not what you want, don't fight to change the experience; change what you believe. Click To Tweet
You start scanning the world around you for opportunities for you to contribute what you have to contribute. What changes is soon what you’re contributing is the stuff that’s deep in your soul, that’s deep in your heart. The stuff that when you let it out, you let that light shine on other people. They receive that joy, they receive that gift and that does bring joy to people. There are lots of different trite and canned ways to say it but it’s about being grateful for what you have and recognizing that whatever you’ve been given for the sole purpose of passing it on to someone else. Think about, “I don’t have to be rich in order to be nice. I don’t have to be rich in order to contribute what I know to someone who needs to know what I know. I don’t need to be rich to put a hand out to help somebody up. I can do all those things.” What you find is that every time you reach out, every time you contribute, every time you give, every time you focus on helping somebody else, the rewards do come back to you ten or 100-fold.
I don’t mean to speak in a particular spiritual context but that’s a biblical principle. That’s a foundational principle to the universal laws of energy. Whether you think in terms of the Law of Attraction or whether you think in terms of tithing in the Christian sense, it’s the same basic premise, you give and then you receive. It’s not that I wait to receive so that I can give. That’s what it’s about. It’s finding a way. Start with what do you want to do while you’re here. What do you want your legacy to be? What do you want to have on your tombstone? What do you want to be contributing to others? It doesn’t have to be anchored in stone but pick something right now and then ask yourself what can I do right now to make a move on that?
What I feel like I’ve seen in my clients and who are of the younger generation, many in their 30s is there’s a lot of fear. There is this old programming that’s going back to, “I can’t do what I want until I have X, Y or Z.” It is this reprogramming and I love that you spoke to around starting here, starting now and starting to change the story. It’s not, “If, then,” but rather, “Now, I can.” Once you start channeling your energy in that way, all of a sudden so many other doors start to open up and you start to see the empowerment that lies at this moment instead of the disempowerment that you’re waiting for something to happen in the future. When I host Men’s Circles, one of the topics that often comes up is what does it mean to be a successful man?
When I listen to what the men have shared, you need to be strong, you need to be stable. You need to be secure, you need to be the backbone, you need to be successful, you need to have monetary or you need to provide. There’s so much that has been put on the shoulders of our men and yet we haven’t given them the space to talk about it and even create the space to reflect and say, “Who created this story about what it means to be a successful man? Is this truly what I believe it means to be a successful man?” Something that I feel is so powerful about your story is the fact that you’re like, “What does success mean? What does it mean to me? Is it in alignment with what I truly or how I truly want to show up for the world?”
That’s vitally important. That story that you’re describing is programming that has been placed on us as everybody, not just men. I’m not saying it as if it’s some horrible evil being done, but it’s not the truth. It’s just a story. The bottom line is at the age of five, somewhere between five and nine every human experience is this. You make a decision that that experience means something about you and then you live the entire remainder of your life into that belief about what it means about you. If the decision you made is a decision like, “Life is hard. You have to work your ass off and sacrifice. Only the best of the best win it and get to the top,” or whatever the story is, then that’s the life you’ll experience. That’s the life you’ll live into because it creates a belief infrastructure that you live into. If you want to know what you believe, look at what you’re experiencing.
If it’s not what you want, don’t fight to change the experience, change what you believe. When you change what you believe, your experience changes with it. The point here that you’re making is right on. What I did is I looked at, “This is the experience I’m having and it’s not the whole experience I want to be having. It’s not even the experience I truly believe in.” If this is my experience, what must I believe? At that time what I believed was that in order for me to be in a position to make the contributions I wanted to make, I needed to sacrifice virtually every other aspect of my life. I missed my child, raising my kids. I was completely absent during my first daughter’s childhood years because I was working all the time, traveling. I convinced myself that this is a sacrifice I’m making so that I can give to my family later. We’re good at compartmentalizing.When you change what you believe, your experience changes with it. Click To Tweet
The human mind, in particular, the male human mind is particularly good at putting things in compartments. It’s even in our vernacular. We say things like, “My work life, my family life, my love life, my friend life.” How many lives do you have? You have one. We live as if I can borrow time from my family life like, “Sorry, I can’t make it to the birthday party tonight, son,” and invest it in my work life, “I’m going to go on that trip and try to close that deal,” as if that work life is somehow going to pay a dividend to that family life. That never happens. There’s never a dividend paid. There’s never a day where your son says, “I sure am glad you missed my birthday party.” That doesn’t happen. What ends up happening is you keep falling into this trap over and over. It’s grounded in beliefs that are not truths and that were programmed into you in your youth. The good news is you can make different decisions, change the beliefs and completely alter your experience. That’s what’s going on here. It falls back to sorting through what you believe versus what you want to believe.
There are a million different ways to do this. One of the ways that I have used to help others down this journey is I have them make a list of the things they have in their lives that they do not want. It might be stress, might be anger, might be fear. It’s usually a big list, several pages of paper if you let somebody go. If you look at that list, you’ll discover there are real patterns. There are ways that you can say that all of these are linked back to that childhood experience I had. You can’t convince at that moment that this was what life was. I now have lived into that for the past years and now it’s become rooted in my being but it’s not who I am, it’s not who I want to be. It’s not delivering on the promise. It’s creating a nightmare for me, so change the belief. Look at that information and use a different interpretation of what that information was telling you.
A lot of the work that I do with clients is giving them the space to begin to create this conscious conversation with themselves and to create awareness. Another belief is that there’s not enough time. That’s something that you shared with your experience of like, “I don’t have time to go to this son’s birthday because I have to do this, I have to do that.” It’s giving yourself the space to be real with yourself and stop chasing what it is that you’ve been told that you need to chase your whole life. You share that you’re a very spiritual man and I think that spirituality piece can be in all different kinds of context. However, even creating space in your life to connect with you and the authentic part of you that is waiting to be heard and that is waiting to be listened to is so often we don’t do in our lives.
It’s one of the most important things that anyone could possibly do is create space. To listen to the story and realize that there is a person who is listening to the story and that person is the person who can change the story. Once you create that between self and story or self and belief, you can begin to realize that the narrator is indeed you. You’ve always been narrating. At any point when you wake up when you become consciously aware, you can start to change that story. Oftentimes it’s been happening since you were five years old. It’s patterned and programmed. However with the right tools, the right help and the right support, you can begin to bring awareness and change these old patterns, habits and limiting belief.
It’s like you’re the main attraction on the stage and you’re the director at the same time. If you want to act out the story that you have, which is based on unlimiting beliefs, on unreal decisions that you made, then that’s fine. If you want to change the story, then create a different role and change the story. That’s what I mean by we’re human beings, not human doings. You want to be the person you want to be, not just do the things that you think you need to do. There’s so much underneath that. What’s tricky and what I encourage people to do is develop a capacity for stepping into the observer. Here’s the way I look at it. Every time there’s an upset, whatever kind it is, whether it’s fear, anxiety, anger, any negative feeling you’re having at any instant at any day, that is a memory. It’s a limiting belief, it’s a subconscious belief that is trying to run a program.
It’s trying to make you act in a specific way that’s based on this set of decisions that you made when you were young. If those aren’t the things that are supporting you then you want to develop a habit of saying, “Isn’t it interesting that that guy who pulled it in front of me right there made me angry?” What’s interesting about that is what do we normally do? We honk the horn and say, “You son of a gun,” whatever. If we can stop ourselves and say, “Isn’t it interesting that I feel angry in this second?” The fact of the matter is I probably didn’t even know he did it. 90% of the time it wasn’t intentional. If it was intentional, maybe he’s on his way to the hospital or something. Who knows? You don’t know. The decision you made is that somehow that took something from you, which is not true. It’s just a reaction. You’re having a reaction to an experience and that reaction is programmed in you. You can change that programming, you can make a different decision. You can have a different reaction based on a new decision.You get to create the experience you have in your life every single instant of every single day, and no one can take that away from you. Click To Tweet
You can change your perspective on that from being one of frustration and anger to being one of compassion, “That guy must be in a big hurry. I’m glad I didn’t get in front of him.” What it does for you is the benefit is for you, not for them. The benefit is for you as it shifts your energy completely. It allows you to be exactly what you described, it allows you to be the creator. You get to create the experience you have in your life every single instant of every single day and no one can take that away at all. You get to choose every instant of every day, whether you’re smiling or whether frowning, whether you’re contributing or whether you’re taking, whether you’re happy, whether you’re sad, whether you’re healthy, whether you’re not. You make every single decision all the way through.
Empowerment at its best. This podcast is called Driven For Purpose. Why not driven for success? Something that you shared with me is driven for a purpose. Your success can be rooted in your purpose, which is so much more fulfilling and something that’s come up was how men are good at going and getting there, men are good at resiliency, men are good at just pushing through. They have grit. Although this can serve us in some ways, shapes and forms, it can also do a lot of damage on our physical and emotional well-being but because men generally are so strong, they can push forward. One of the things that we talked about is how do you have that success you want, be the person you want and let that passion for your purpose drive you?
That’s a huge key contributor to not creating burnout. You can easily burn out if you were just doing what it is you feel you need to do in order to get to where it is you feel you need to be. If you could change the story around what is my purpose? That purpose is fueled by the flame of passion. Then I’m sure you are having this shift. When you’re working from passion and you’re working from purpose, all of a sudden, it’s like the energy is moving through you, the energy is propelling you. You don’t need to do anything because you have the force of source or God or the universe working with you. Speak a little bit to that in your own experience or anything that resonates from that concept of having your passion be your success and your purpose be the fuel that fires that.
It’s beautiful you’re saying that because it’s so true and what you’re contributing to other people by helping them reach that is so powerful. Not just for them but for all of us because everything’s energy and we’re part of this massive energy field. The more we can help people step into their greatest power, the more we have and the more beneficial it will be for everybody. In a specific sense, it begins with an understanding of your purpose. A lot of people struggle with what my purpose is. My purpose is raising my kids. Purpose is bigger than that. It’s a worthwhile endeavor for everyone to find a purpose revelation exercise that works for them. There’s a couple that I’ve used, a couple that I help other people with. There’s a lot of them out there, none of them are any better than the others. Something’s going to work for you. For me, my revelation of purpose is that I create to make other’s lives better. That’s my purpose. That’s what I’m here to do.
In everything I do, I look for the opportunity to create. I look for the benefit that is going to create for other people. Whether it’s helping people dial in on their fitness and nutrition because I’m a former champion bodybuilder and I know how to do that. Whether it’s helping people in business understand how to build a more sustainable, more enjoyable, more holistic experience, joy experience at their work, in the business they create and how they can do that and deliver that for all the employees they hire as well. Whether it’s helping save the rainforest by contributing in a significant way, not just financially and monetarily but getting on the ground and being the person that steps in when is necessary to make a contribution directly to that cause. There are a lot of different things that emerge and it’s all grounded in that element of purpose and it creates a filter for you.
Once you have it, you can literally look at any experience or any opportunity and ask the question, “How can I use this opportunity to advance my purpose?” It’s a filter that takes out all the crap that’s not going to contribute to the purpose that would be ultimately unrewarding to you even if successful. It would also allow you to pass through that stuff that’s not going to get you there and see a pathway to doing the thing or being the person that contributes in a significant way you want to contribute. It’s a much easier way to live. A lot of people ask me about my morning routine. I feel that the accomplishment of your day is grounded in that first fifteen minutes. Whatever you’re telling in that first three minutes is going to set the course for the day. The good news is you get to reset it tomorrow if you missed today. If you’ll invest that energy to get on that purpose-driven course in the morning the first thing, the likelihood of you falling off of that is very small.You can easily burn out if you're just doing what it is you feel you need to do in order to get to where it is you feel you need to be. Click To Tweet
For me, I used to do a lot of journaling. I did a gratitude journal, an intention journal and an affirmation journal because I’m action oriented and an activator. I tend to go overboard. In my journal practice, I was trying to get ready for bed. I was writing into my gratitude journal and I fell asleep while I was writing. I was struggling and it was so painful. All of a sudden, I woke up and realized, “I’ve taken the opportunity to create something beautiful and I’ve made it work.” It’s like a subconscious thing. I didn’t even realize I had done it and I’ve been doing it for weeks. I have been suffering through this for weeks. I realized that the purpose of the journaling is not to work. That’s not what’s going to contribute to this. That’s not what’s going to help me become the person I want to be. I tried something radically different. I stopped journaling altogether. If you journal, journal. I’m not saying don’t do it, don’t necessarily follow my lead. For me, I’ve been doing that practice so long that I was well-connected with universal source. I see things metaphysically that way as well. I tried something brand-new the next morning.
Instead of doing all that journaling, I grabbed my coffee. I went out in my quiet spot, which is out of my porch and I sat there. I came up with this mantra and I spoke the mantra to the universe. I said, “You know that I know that I can’t do this without you, so teach me,” and I went into my meditation. While I was in my meditation, which was deeper than usual that day for whatever reason. No mistakes, nothing random. What I got was a very clear vision of what I was to do that day. This is what you need to do now in terms of delivering on the accomplishment that I had in my intention. I did it and it was a wildly successful experience. I felt joyful and I felt just amazing at that opportunity. Other people got great benefit from what I had done that day as well. All of it worked and it was like, “There’s a perfect day of purpose right there. I’ve just got to do it. No one lives tomorrow.” Interestingly I figured, “That seemed to work yesterday. Let’s give her a go again today.” I did the same thing. I got a similar inspiration.
It was a different direction for the day, but I chose not to do it. I had a bad day. It was a struggle all the way. It was a battle every minute. It was a problem every time I turned around. There were people unhappy all around me. I was late for dinner. I was late for my daughter’s ballet, it was horrible. I don’t usually get upset about those things. I just throw up my hands and go, “I ran as far as I could run all day, I could never catch up.” I’m sure everybody has had that experience. You missed something first thing and you’re behind the rest of the day, no matter what you do. It’s exasperating and it’s exhausting. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a crisis but you’re tired and you’re frustrated. I kept repeating this, days in and days out. Some days I would follow, some days I wouldn’t. I can say with confidence that when I go with that inspired action I win. I contribute, I do the things that I’m here to do, I get them done. The days I don’t, I struggle.
The question becomes, “Steve, how long have you been doing this?” About twenty years. “Do you still have days where you don’t get it done?” Yes. This will never go away. It’s not like you reach this state of enlightenment and you never have a problem day in your life. You continue to struggle in a world that we’re here. This world is our canvas. It’s what we’re here to work on. The day you’re done is the day you’re dead. You don’t rest to get done. Keep working into it. I don’t know if that helps or not but that’s an interesting context that I’m able to live with now. I can live into every day knowing that everything that’s happening or everything that comes around me is an opportunity for me to express this purpose. To take hold of the world and be the person who creates that joy. If it’s only for me, then fine. If for people around me, then great.
I love the fact that you shared about the morning routine. This is one of the things that I have clients do immediately is create and establish a morning routine because I feel like we’ve been programmed that giving back to yourself is selfish. We’ve been programmed that you need to get up, you need to go give to everyone else, you need to even feed your body so that you can go to the jobs that you can support the families. It’s important having a morning routine and getting grounded in yourself and your intention. I love the fact also, a lot of the things that I have my clients do art journal, meditate, and gratitude practices. Another thing is you don’t have to do these things forever but you do them until they become a part of your everyday life. You do them until they are a part of you and in that, you begin to find who you are beyond the story that we told ourselves, beyond that looking outside to find approval. You begin to find out who you are and what makes you soar. That’s a big part again moving back to the passion, the purpose and the whole piece.
That’s the only way to get there. There’s no other path. You have to spend that time. You have to allow yourself to love yourself. People do not sit around and do this. They don’t even consider themselves a lot of the time. Most people have this talk about how they’re somehow not measuring up or how that’s driving the striving. It’s pushing, pulling but what’s grounded in there, what’s missing is that they think that they need to prove something. They think they need to earn something in order to be loved, in order to be self-actualized. You don’t have to earn it. You have to be it. You declare it and then you live into it. That’s how you do it.Purpose is fueled by the flame of passion. Click To Tweet
To tell you a quick anecdotal story. I spent several weeks working with a gentleman by the name of Dr. Hew Len in Hawaii. He teaches an ancient Hawaiian healing technique called Ho’oponopono, which is an extremely powerful clearing technique for all of these memories that tangle us, wrap us up and make us do the things that we don’t want to do. It’s a mechanism. It’s a tool that I use for clearing. I was going through my journaling that day because I’m still very actively journaling at the time. He was there with me and we were talking, and he said, “What do you do with that?” I said, “I read it.” He goes, “But you wrote it.” I said, “Yes, but I read it, so I program it in.” He looked at me laughing, “It is programmed in. You wrote it, your subconscious mind already gave it to you. You can keep reading if that’s what you want to spend your time doing, but you already know what your intentions are.” What’s important is that you live into those intentions, not that you keep writing them. That was for me. Journaling is very powerful in getting this creative energy into a form that you can program into your mind because it’s the act of writing that created that programming.
As you continue to grow and learn, you begin to recognize, “Now that I’ve opened this pathway and I’ve opened this source, I can move through it much more freely, in a much freer form. I can call upon it at any time to help me deal with an emotional upset, a life upset or a business upset.” People ask me a lot, “Do you use this thing every day in business?” I go, “Every day, every call.” I can be on the phone with a prospective buyer or a client or dealing with it. I got as much stress and strain as any other businessman out there. I’m dealing with those issues all the time. I will literally be on the phone with someone who’s in upset and I’m playing that whole Ho’oponopono mantra on the back of my mind.
It’s not at all unusual for that practice to completely shift the energy on that phone call, to create something entirely new, out of the experience on that phone call simply because I’m pouring that energy into that experience. That’s how you make it part of who you are. People would say, “Every time Steve comes into the room, there’s so much positive energy.” That’s a great compliment to me because if I know that I’m pushing that positive energy out there, I’m having a positive impact on you whether you like it or not.
The main reason so many of the interviews that I have on this podcast are from men who are over 50 and considered successful and are in a life in the way that we view success. I know that there’s a lot of wisdom from the years that have gone down this journey. If you were able to tell your 30-year-old self some words of wisdom or some advice that would have helped you on your path to success, not just financially but also mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually that would have made it easier for you, what would that be? For our audience who are in this place of wanting to be successful in all areas and wanting to be happy, how would you translate the wisdom of what you’ve learned along the way to your 30-year-old self?
It’s tricky because a lot has to do with the capacity for hearing. It wouldn’t be just what I’m saying, it’s whether or not that person was ready to hear what I was saying. I would start like, “You may or may not be ready to hear what I’m about to say. If you’re not, that’s okay but listen anyway because you’ll hear it in the future when you need it most.” There’s a reassurance there that says, even if you can’t hear it now, let it go in, let it sink in. You can argue with it if you want. Let it sink in because you will come back to this someday in the future. The biggest thing is you have to allow yourself to recognize that you’re here for a purpose. You’re here for good. You’re here to have a positive influence on everyone else around you. That’s your role is to push as much positive energy into the universe as possible and where that starts is with yourself.
You have to love yourself. You have to allow yourself to love yourself. You have to have a conversation that says, “I’m okay. I’m a good human. I’m here to do and be good. I’m here to drive good into the universe. I’m here to make a contribution to others. That’s what I’m here for. How I do it, I don’t know yet. I’m going to look for ways and I’m going to step into those ways.” It starts with yourself and then it starts with stepping into that purpose. It changes. My life purpose isn’t always the same thing. It changes over time because your capacity changes over time. You get more skillful, you get more enlightened, you become more aware. You become more conscious of your role in the universe. You become more cognizant of the energy that’s around you. As you do, you have increased capacity, increased power to influence in a positive way the lives of others. It begins with yourself. Give yourself a break. Love yourself then get in touch with what it is you want to do. I don’t mean what you want to do for a job. I don’t mean what you want to do for a profession. I mean what you want to do every day. How do you want your day to look? Map that out and then step into that.You have to allow yourself to recognize that you're here for a purpose. Click To Tweet
What would have to happen in order for me to be the person who has that, who enjoys that life? If you want the lifestyle of a millionaire, then be the person who would have the lifestyle and you will have it. If you want the lifestyle of a philanthropist, then do that. If you want the lifestyle of a corporate executive, then be the person who would do that. That’s what will happen to you. That’s the way it works. We have it as if it’s what we do. We have it that we believe based on our experiences. What I would encourage people to understand is that it’s the other way around. You have the experiences you have based on what you believe to be true. If you’re not having the experience you want right now, ask yourself the question, “What must I believe to be true? Who must I be in order to have this experience?” I must be someone who doubts or fears or questions or whatever it might be. Change the belief, change the experience. If you try to struggle with the experience, you won’t win that because you have a core belief that says it’s supposed to be what you’re struggling against.
What a beautiful golden nugget of wisdom here that you’ve shared with us. I absolutely resonate. I’ve found that to be true in my own life and in the lives of others who continue to come, seek and are ready for a change. I hope that our audience, if there’s anything that your takeaway is exactly what we shared. Hopefully, you take more than this last little golden nugget. That’s one of the most powerful things that when we can begin to understand that our true power lies from within. We are the creators of our reality, that’s when we begin to see and experience that success in whatever measure that we desire comes to fruition and comes to life which is an incredible experience.
It shows up almost like magic. This is the thing that I chuckle every time I see. I chuckle every time I see somebody has the experience for the first time where it’s like somebody struggles with this notion that you can believe your way into something. It’s like, “That sounds too crazy. How could that possibly be?” When you have an experience, you recognize it, “Now I get it. I see what happens here.” Now you can exercise that muscle and exercise that ability and you become more and more capable, more and more powerful, more and more empowered, more and more impactful. It becomes second nature and that’s the point at which you recognize that, “This isn’t about doing, it’s about being.”
Thank you so much, Steve, for coming on and for doing the work that you’re doing and for being so open and transparent about your life and your struggles amongst the success and truly doing the work of walking on the path, which I’m so happy. One of the things that you shared with me was it took me a while, but I finally figured it out. By being open and transparent and then sharing now hopefully your word of wisdom and can translate down to the younger generation so that we can figure it out sooner rather than later. Is there any way or anything that you want to share with anyone else if they want to connect with you or see what you’re doing?
What I do professionally may or may not be relevant to your audience. That’s okay but they can still find me through that pathway. I’m here to hear and I’m open to listening. If they go to the website which is ZeroLimitsVentures.com/access, there’s some information that they might find interesting, if not directly applicable to them in their business. There’s a path as a way to register to spend some time with me on the phone and I’m happy to do that whenever I can.
Sometimes our direct parents may not always be there for us or may not even be available to us. I know that for all of us, I believe no matter what generation you’re in. There’s a lot of intergenerational healing that we’re all working through. I appreciate you making yourself available and I hope that the audience do. If there is some amazing wisdom you’d like to glean from Steve and even in that conversation where he can be one pillar, one guide on your path. It’s incredibly important. I appreciate you making yourself available to me and taking the time for this podcast as well as others. Thank you truly for sharing your wisdom and your insights and doing the work that you’re doing. I’m so happy to have you on here. I look forward to the next time we connect, whether it’s online or who knows where the world may take us.
You are very welcome and your audience is very welcome. Thank you for the opportunity to share. I very much appreciate it.
Thank you so much for tuning in. We will catch you on our next episode.
About Steve Little
Steve Little is an acclaimed serial entrepreneur, investor, philanthropist and mergers and acquisitions expert well known for generating accelerated value growth and extraordinarily high acquisition value multiples for his clients.
He sold his first company at age 15 for nearly $250,000 and never looked back. He’s led 6 successful startups of his own to private acquisitions of over $120 million each, and provided explosive growth and lucrative $100M+ acquisitions for dozens more – first with top-tier Silicon Valley venture firms and in the past several years as founder and managing director of Zero Limits Ventures.
As a driven entrepreneur transformed by his deep personal growth journey and discovery of purpose who recognizes how blessed his life is, Steve is committed to addressing the needs or a broad range of vital initiatives giving generously to:
- Support Younglife Africa and the daily care needs of hundreds of children and orphans in Malawi Africa
- Support The Pachamama Alliance permanent protection of the sacred headwaters of the Amazon rainforest
- Support the BVI Art Reef Project and the creation of new underwater coral reefs in the US and the British Virgin Islands
- Assist Oceans Unite with the extensive global ocean cleanup initiatives around the word
- Support Beneath The Waves and the preservation of shark species in the US and the British Virgin Islands
- Support for Virgin Unite, the non-profit foundation created to unite people and entrepreneurial ideas to create opportunities for a better world.
Steve explains that success in life and business is about who are being NOT what you are doing.