The Mindset of a Billionaire with John Assaraf



Transcript: John Assaraf:

But if you sit back for just a moment and you think about where do you want to be 18 months from now and you come up with the plan, the process and the environment to thrive instead of survive, you will achieve more success in the next six to 18 months than you probably would have in a 10 year period of time.

TJ Hoisington:

Hey there, welcome to the Unleash Your Greatness Within Podcast. I'm TJ Hoisington and in today's success interview I was privileged to interview the New York Times bestselling author and high achiever, John Assaraf. John has an amazing story. Not only is he a New York Times bestselling author, but he has built multimillion-dollar companies and he's helped hundreds of thousands of people achieve greater levels of success by changing their thinking, by upgrading their mindset.

TJ Hoisington:

He was featured in eight different movies. One of those was the blockbuster film called The Secret and his story is just amazing. And in this interview, he goes deep into that story and into his background. And boy, does he share some cool strategies and tactics and so forth that you can apply right now to achieve greater levels of success. It was a great privilege to have him on the show. Now if you're watching this on my YouTube channel, then I invite you to subscribe to my YouTube channel and make sure that you click that notification bell so that you're the first to be notified when I come out with a new success interview or motivational message.

TJ Hoisington:

John, welcome to the Unleash Your Greatness Within Podcast.

John Assaraf:

Hey TJ, great to be on with you.

TJ Hoisington:

No, this is a wonderful pleasure for me as I followed your work for many years. You've put out some wonderful books, concepts, ideas, and now with your new book, “Innercise.” Listen, I want you to talk about all of it, but for starters, would you share with the audience a little bit of your story?

John Assaraf:

So a lot of people see my life now and they see a New York Times bestselling author, built several very successful companies, into the billions of dollars of valuations and sales in a year. And they see I'm happily married, I'm a great dad, I think anyway, I've been on just about every major TV show and radio show. So they see that now. And at 50, almost 59 years old, what most people don't see is the journey. They don't see the failed business, they don't see the two divorces, they don't see the challenging times where I've lost lots of money in the stock market or in real estate or in business, and they don't see that where I started off 40 years ago was a kid that was on his way to either jail or the morgue.

John Assaraf:

And to put into perspective, I didn't do well in school, I left at grade 11. I was either in the principal's office or detention center. Most of school failed English, failed math, the only two subjects I actually enjoyed and did well in, actually three, was gymnasium, biology and chemistry. Those are the only things that came naturally to me. But I hated school. I cheated to get out of high school by having one of my good friends give me the test score or the test answers so that I could possibly get out of high school and I did.

John Assaraf:

Now I start off there because I was involved in small street gangs where we did breaking and entries. We fought other little gangs, we sold drugs, we did drugs, we drank too much, we partied 45 years ago or so. And I thought that I wasn't smart enough, I felt that I wasn't as good as the other kids, I felt that I didn't deserve success and it had nothing to do with the fact that I had a loving, caring mother and father and a wonderful sister and brother.

John Assaraf:

My parents fought about money or the lack of it all the time if I was a gambler. So we had our challenges, which means we were a normal family. But I developed this low self-esteem of myself simply because when I moved from Israel when I was five to Montreal, I didn't speak French or English and fell two years behind at a very critical stage in my life. I was a very active and very curious, very energetic. But I fell so far behind that I was labeled learning disabled and I was hyperactive on top of it. So the teachers all wanted to have my parents put me on a Ritalin, my parents refused.

John Assaraf:

So I got into just a lot of trouble. So I didn't start off with a really great path or on a really great path. And just to share with people how one thing in your life can change your whole life. Something happened to me when I was 19 years old. I was working for a company called MyCom, which was a subsidiary of Philip Electronics, a big electronics company. And I was working in the shipping department making a $1.65 an hour back then.

TJ Hoisington:

How old are you at this time?

John Assaraf:

Around 18 years old, 18, 19 years old, right in this timeframe. I remember March 1980 which is going to be way before many of the people that are watching or listening to this were even born. But I remember feeling like what am I going to do with my life? I can't stand working in the shipping department picking up boxes, moving boxes, counting inventory, taking computers out of boxes, putting computers into boxes. I thought, I just can't stand this. And my father who was a cab driver, that drove me to work every day and pick me up at the end of the day said, "Well listen, we can get another cab and you could be a cab driver.

John Assaraf:

And at that point I was like, I would prefer to shoot myself in the head than to do that, I just didn't want to live his life. So my brother had moved from Montreal to Toronto and he invited me to come and see him for the weekend. And so I requested a Friday off of work and I took the train from Montreal to Toronto, which is about 350 miles away. On a Friday morning I took the 6:00 AM train, I got to Toronto, 11:00 AM and I had lunch with a friend of his, who was a client of his by the name of Mr. Alan Brown. And I didn't know Mr. Alan Brown, I didn't even know why he was there at lunch.

John Assaraf:

My brother said, I want to introduce you to this man that I am friends with, and he's a very successful real estate entrepreneur and he's happily married and he's healthy and he's really got it all. I said, yeah, sure Let's go from the train station, we'll have lunch with them. So after lunch, this man was very cordial, very soft spoken and you could tell he was very, very successful by the way he dressed and the way he behaved. And he asked me, he said, "Son, I understand you're getting into a lot of trouble."

John Assaraf:

He says, "Why are you getting to a lot of trouble?" And I just gave him my story. Well, I didn't do well in school, I hated school, I got kicked out, I've been in detention centers, I'm in trouble with the law, I'm selling blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I know that's your story, but why are you doing that? I want to do something with my life, I want something better, I want something greater than my parents have. I want to be able to maybe travel the world one day, I want to have a car. I don't even have a car, my brother has got to drive me around here and I didn't have a car in Montreal. I'd like to move out of my parents' house. I'm 18, 19 years old, whatever the number was.

John Assaraf:

And he said, "Well, what are some of your big goals?" And I said, well, just get a car, move out of my parents' house and have enough money to go to restaurants and party. That's okay but what are your bigger goals? And I said, I don't have any bigger goals. So he pulled out of his briefcase, back in those days we carried a little briefcase, and he pulled out this goal setting document and it was 1980, goal setting document was on document. And he said, I'd like you to go sit at the table next to us while your brother and I talk a little bit and fill out this goal setting goal document. I said, yeah, sure. So I opened it up and the first question was, at what age do you want to retire?

John Assaraf:

I'm 19 years old, let's say, retire, I want to just get out of the gate, come to the end game. And I was 19, so I said, at 45 years old, 26 years later. How much net worth do you want to have? And I wrote down $3 million. How much do you want to give to charity? Where do you want to travel? What car do you want? What kind of home do you want? What kind of retirement do you want to have? How much do you want to be able to provide for your parents in check? And it asks all of these questions around, health, wealth, relationships, career, business, money, charity, fun, experiences. And I just sat there, I just wrote, wrote, wrote, wrote, wrote I, came back and said, okay, I'm done.

John Assaraf:

So he takes my document, he looks at it, he goes, this is pretty good. He says, where did you get all these ideas? I said, well, I love watching the TV show called Lifestyles of The Rich and Famous. And back then it was a show with Robin Leach showing the lifestyle of the rich and famous. I said, that's what I want. I don't want the three bedroom apartment that I'm living with my mother, father, sister and brother in. I don't want the cab that we drive in everywhere as my life. I want that kind of life. And he goes, well, all of these things are great and they're very, very doable.

John Assaraf:

He says, but what will determine whether you can even come close to having those things is the answer two one question. And in the back of my mind I'm thinking, the answer to one question is going to determine whether I have those things or not. So I said, sure, what's the question Mr. Brown? And he goes, son, are you interested in having and living that kind of lifestyle that you just described or are you committed to having and living that lifestyle? And I sat there for what seemed like a long time, it might've been 10 seconds. And I looked up at him and I said to him, I said, "Mr. Brown, what's the difference?"

John Assaraf:

And he said, son, if you're interested, you'll keep using your story and the excuses that you keep giving yourself of why you can't. If you're interested, you'll keep using all of the excuses and reasons why you're not smart enough, not good enough, not worthy enough, and that you didn't go past grade 11, that your father's a cab driver and your mother works at the department store and you didn't speak the language and you fell two years behind and you failed English and you failed math. He says, if you keep using that story and those reasons and you keep reinforcing this identity, you will never achieve more than what you got.

TJ Hoisington:

Huge.

John Assaraf:

He says, but if you're committed son he said, you will upgrade your knowledge. You will let go of the limiting beliefs that you have. You'll release this self image you have of not being good enough or smart enough or worthy enough and he will upgrade your knowledge and skills to match the goals that you want to achieve.

TJ Hoisington:

Huge.

John Assaraf:

And I was like, wow. This one I was thinking in the back of my head. And he says, so son, are you interested or are you committed? And he handed me back the documents and I looked at it and I held it in my hands. I said, "I'm committed." And with that one question, one answer, one lunch with a man I didn't know, he reached out his hands and says, "In that case son, I will be your mentor and coach." And I was like, [inaudible 00:14:17] has, that's great. And I have no idea what that even meant.

John Assaraf:

And he says, well, here is the first thing that I'm telling you to do. I need you to move from Montreal to Toronto. It's 350 miles away. And I immediately, I said, what do you mean move from Montreal to Toronto? I live in my parents' house. I don't have a car, I don't have money, I make $1.65 an hour, I have $60 in the bank, I can't move to Toronto. Just stop. I said, what? He says, look how fast you're already telling me the first thing I've asked you to do. He says, son, lesson number one, how to achieve anything, always comes after you make a commitment to achieving it.

John Assaraf:

Are you interested in me helping you or are you not? I said, I am, and I started going, but. He said, stop, there you go again. This has to stop. So I said, fine, I'll move to Toronto from Montreal. And he goes, good. And then my brother chimed in and said, well bro, you can live with me for a while until you get on your feet. I said, great, fine, I'll live with you. I still don't know what I'm going to do here now? He stopped me again. He says, great. The second thing I need you to do since you're moving to Toronto, this was at the end of April, 1980. He said on May the 5th there's a real estate class that starts, it's five weeks, 9:00 to 5:00 every day I want you to become a real estate agent so you can come and work in my company.

John Assaraf:

I said, go to school, are you crazy? I hate school. They kicked me out every other week, they kicked me out. I'm in detention center if they don't kick me out, I'm not as smart as the other kids. Just stop, there you go again. And so this happened for five or six minutes where I just kept going back to my old pattern. And when I ended with, but I don't have the money to sign up for real estate school and he told me I was $400, $500. He says, you don't need the money until you make a decision to go to school and do what you need to do or to buy the thing that you commit to buy. I said, Mr. Brown, I have $60 in the bank. He says, are you interested or are you committed?

John Assaraf:

I said, fine, I'm committed. And then my brother said, "Well, I could lend you 100 bucks and maybe dad could lend you some money and maybe your sister could lend you some money." So TJ, to cut the story short, after probably 30 minutes of fighting him and 30 minutes of allowing my patterns and my self image issues and my limiting beliefs and my fears percolate up, I committed to moving to Toronto, I committed to get into the real estate course. And about a week later I quit my job, moved from Montreal to Toronto, got into real estate on May 5th, 1980 and on June 20th, 1980 I passed the test-

TJ Hoisington:

Huge.

John Assaraf:

... and got my real estate certificate, I was 19 years old. Now why do I remember these dates so well? One is, one man one question as I mentioned before, one answer, one commitment changed my life, but it was also because on June the 20th I realized I wasn't stupid. I passed test and I didn't cheat. I studied every day. I read, I asked for help, I leveled up my knowledge and my skill. I didn't know anything about legal stuff. Legal, real estate, my God. I do know legal stuff, I may do some finer stuff. I realized, wow, that wasn't that hard, it was hard, but it wasn't that hard because I committed and I did the work and I put myself in the environment to allow somebody else to help me.

John Assaraf:

And then from June 20th, 1980 I went to work on commission only, not a nickel to work. No, advance, zero, commission only. Mr. Brown taught me how to cold call and he taught me a script and the script was in writing. There were no computer screens back then, it was just in writing and the script that I had to learn and I had to record on a cassette tapes and listen to it over and over and over and over and over again, hundreds and hundreds of times was, hi, this John Assaraf with Alan Brown Real Estate Company. We have somebody who's looking to buy a home in the neighborhood, have you considered making a move? Paragraph one.

John Assaraf:

If they said yes, I said, awesome. Can I broker and I come to see you today at three o'clock or five o'clock be better so we can become familiar with the house? So we can share that information with our client. If they said no. I said, thank you very, very much, is there anybody in the neighborhood you think may want to make a move? Just so I can call them. If they said yes or no, I had this decision tree that he created for me and all I have to do was learn the darn script.

John Assaraf:

So I learned the script and he made me learn the script because every morning when I came into the office, I had to practice the script. The script, it was on a piece of paper, the answers were on a piece of paper, the yes or no decision tree on what they would say or not say were on a piece of paper. And I became proficient at one script. And guess what happened? I made $30,000 on a 50-50 split over the next 12 months. And then he taught me some other scripts. I was making $5,000 more a year than my father at 19.

John Assaraf:

At 20, I learned a new script which was for sale by owners, detail, precision script. I made $151,000 in my 20th year because I learned the script. I developed the beliefs that I would read every single day. I believe that I am worthy of the success that I seek. I am smart enough, I am good enough, I am worthy enough and I can achieve any goal I set my mind to achieve. I read that, listen to it, closed my eyes, felt it. I became it like I was a Hollywood actor reading and remembering a script, not knowing that all of this time I was creating the neural patterns of success.

John Assaraf:

I was developing the neural networks, the beliefs, the self image, the things that were necessary for me to actually follow through with my behavior even though the first 30 days were treacherous, the next 30 days were easier. After 100 days, 180 days, I was walking and talking like I was successful and I was slowly measuring up and into the vision and the goals that I had for myself that I had set sitting at that table as a young 19 year old punk that didn't have any clue how to even wipe the dirt in my ears. That is the beginning for you. And hopefully it didn't go too long.

TJ Hoisington:

No, not at all. I think that is a beautiful story, a powerful story. And let me just say, to think of your map of reality at 19, within a year, your internal story changed 180 degrees. Is that fair?

John Assaraf:

It's beyond fair.


TJ Hoisington:

Beyond unfair. So you started to get results, so there's a space between action and seeing the fruit of your labors. You had faith.

John Assaraf:

Yeah.

TJ Hoisington:

So you had faith believing in Mr. Brown and dive in into those scripts and believing that it will come to pass, boom. But the moment you got that $30,000 that first year, all of a sudden or whatever the time period was it became a reality. And then it started to multiply. And then you got tenfold. It's just amazing. So a couple of things that stood out to me. Number one, what was the trust factor that you felt or that Mr. Brown felt towards you and what did you feel toward him?

TJ Hoisington:

There's a lot of people that say things, maybe because they're knowledgeable, there's a lot of things we know that we don't do. So what was it about him that caused you to trust him enough to say, okay, I'm going to buy into this. Maybe one eye open, one eye closed, but I'll buy into this. How did he build that trust for you?

John Assaraf:

Initially it was the materialistic things that he had that I wanted. He had the Cadillac back then, that's the big thing. He had a beautiful home. He had a beautiful wife, two kids. He had stuff, he cared about his employees, he's a really kind person and underneath all that, he had a huge philanthropic side of wanting to give his knowledge, his wisdom to others, including his money. And so I didn't trust him initially because I didn't trust me initially. So I was fearful that I would disappoint me again and I was fearful that I would disappoint him also because I had taken the easy way out most of my life.

TJ Hoisington:

Yeah. Starting from 11 years old, that blows me away. 11 years old, your education, academically at least stopped, is that fair?

John Assaraf:

Yeah. It probably stopped at seven, eight years old.

TJ Hoisington:

Wow.

John Assaraf:

Yeah. Seven, eight years old, it was like I checked out, game over. I was in Lala land most of the time. It wasn't until I was 12, 13 that I got into drugs and drinking and running with the wrong crowd. And getting into trouble on the streets and with the law.

TJ Hoisington:

Unbelievable. Now, my audience knows this about me and I'm not going to go heavy into it because they've heard the story. But just so you know, I heard you say on an interview that I watched, I don't recall which one it was, that in a moment or in a minute, my mindset changed or something like that and it had to do with Mr. Brown. And my thought was there was a moment like that with me. I didn't read my first book till I was a junior in high school because I didn't believe, in fourth grade I was pulled out of social studies class and was put in the special resources class because I couldn't read. So unlike you, I gave up mentally, I just said...

TJ Hoisington:

And it wasn't until I found a cassette tape on my dad's dresser by Jim Rohn. I didn't know who the guy was. I put it in my pocket and I listened to that tape and it changed my life. It got me to think similar things like you're saying now, these mentors, whether they're on CDs or podcasts or, teachers like you or myself that are out teaching it.

TJ Hoisington:

If you can learn one idea or one thought from these folks and then apply it, amazing things are going to happen to your world. So I'm just blown away that by 11, you started to build this story of I can't, I can't, I can't, I can't, I can't, and then you get this moment because of your brother.

John Assaraf:

Like I said, if you're ready, right this second can be your turning point, right? If you're ready what you're listening to can change your life. If you're ready, changing your behaviors now, can change the trajectory to your life. He put me on a daily mental diet of cassette tapes, training tapes, listening to Jim Rohn, Dennis Waitley, Brian Tracy, he put me on a regimented so that every day when I drove my car, it was my university.

John Assaraf:

I started to listen for 25 minutes from my home to the office, from the office to looking at other homes. It was actually my brother's car. I used to drive my brother to work. He was a tennis pro. I would drop him off, take his car, then go to the real estate office, do what I needed to do and then pick him up at the end of the day and take him home and take his car back [crosstalk 00:27:26].

John Assaraf:

But me blurting out I am committed and then having the infrastructure to be able to follow through was critical. So a lot of times, there's one of my favorite little poems, it's by Pascal. It's not by Pascal. I think it might've been Clement Stone. He says of what use to make heroic vows of amendment if the same old law breakers are going to keep. So if what used to promise and to say, I'm going to do this if the same person who's broken all the other laws or all the other vows is going to keep them.

John Assaraf: