Awareness isn't passive, it directly leads to action or inaction. Anybody identify with that one? All right my crazy JFK story. So I'm gonna tell you this crazy story of how I was involved in a active shooter situation at JFK and it there's some lessons in there and how it applies to everyday life. So I was on vacation in Europe, I have this thing I've seen like as a SEAL and going to Iraq and Afghanistan and everywhere in between like I feel like I've seen all the parts of the world that nobody wants to go to. So I had this goal, I'm gonna go to Europe and see Europe. So every summer I usually take a month off and start checking off my European list. And I had a great summer in Europe. Unfortunately it was when they had a few terrorist attacks in Germany and France. And I came back I remember I got my business spends a lot of money on social media ads so I get a lot of points. So I got upgraded to business with my points and I get off the plane at JFK, and I'm walking down the sky bri...
dge and the security guys say "hey, hold on there's something going on in the opposite terminal." I think it was terminal one and they're talking on the radio's and they're holding us on the sky bridge, and no one's talking, ten minutes go by and they say "oh there's this active shooter situation going on." They don't know what's going on in terminal one and you know but everything is clear you guys can go now. So off we go. We go down and if you guys have ever been in passport control you know, we're on the first wave off the plane so it's pretty empty. I go down there, I get in line I check in, I get my passport stamped back in and I joked with the guy about "this is a crazy world we live in" and I go to the baggage claim and I'm waiting and now I look back and it's full like I think three or four planes have just dumped in from Europe into JFK. Now it's 4-500 people in line, and all of a sudden I start hearing screaming and these police run in like armed airport officers with guns drawn out yelling at us to run for our lives, that there is a shooter in the terminal. And you want to talk about chaos like I've never experienced anything like this before in my life. It was because especially these poor people from Europe having dealt with that it's like "welcome to America, oh active shooter at JFK." And it was complete chaos and I I felt so out of control and I realized okay I just have to I have to assess the situation and take care of myself, like I can't, how? Like there's families kids are crying like it was crazy and this herd of people were just pushed out. They literally, barricades blew over, they ran onto the tarmac where the planes are parked with the baggage carts and everything, like doors blew open, it was the craziest thing one of the craziest things I've ever seen. And so I ran to cover behind this column and then I heard a gunshot and I think one of the police officers accidentally discharged the gun. They got nervous and fired, which did not contribute to the situation at all. And I was behind this concrete column going okay what's the situation, what's happening? Okay I'm gonna go, like I don't know that, I know the threat is that way so I'm going to go out on the tarmac too. So I get out there and nobody knows what's going on. I'm texting my, one of my employees to watch the news, tell me what's happening so I can figure out what to do next, and I saw one of the the police officers out there I started talking to him and I said what's going on? He's like "Well, we don't know like there's something going on in terminal one" and we were in terminal and he's like "we need everyone back inside" and I say "look here's my background, like putting people back into that situation is not a good idea, I think. You're putting them into this like unknown threat area, here at least there's options you can escape, like cramming people into a sky bridge is not the solution." But what I notice in that particular situation is they were trained to deal with the threat, they weren't trained to deal with, I mean like the police and the security there was no plan to deal with the passengers and I think that's true in most cases. Like you can't expect the police to just take care everybody they're dealing with the threat at hand, right? So I said "that's a bad idea buddy." He's like "you need to go back in there right now" it's like "I'm not going in there." I remember this little Jewish gal stand next to me and she's like "I'm going with you." (audience laughs) Yeah, and so and then like four other passengers and this lady with a baby like "We're going with you too." So I said okay well, the first thing I learned as a Navy SEAL was if you get ambushed, we call it the X, get off the X, get out of there to safety, right? So I say we're gonna get out of here. So I took them underneath the airport to and I didn't know where the hell I was going. I'm just going okay I'm getting away, this is the threat area we're gonna get away and out to the expressway. And the short version is we went underneath the airport where they load the baggage up into the baggage claim got around the corner and boom there's the taxi line, everyone's like kind of standing out looking what's going on, nobody knows what's happening. And I say look I'm gonna toss my jacket on the razor wire you guys will climb so you don't get cut, climb over and we're gonna get out of here. So we all climbed over, one of the guys on the other side helped you know like that's the cool thing what I love about New York City, everybody in these like the situations they're always pitching in. You know this guy from Jersey who almost tackled me at first. He thought I was dressed in black like I'm today, he must have thought I was a terrorist or something. But we got everyone over and we all got in cabs and left. And I remember just getting home watching this still people were stuck at the airport until I think 6:00 in the morning. And this happened to us this was like late afternoon and I was watching it all unfold in the media and I had a couple because I am in the media, people calling me and then giving interviews. The reason I told that story is because I luckily I had the training for that kind of situation and I thought about it beforehand but in life like we have to be aware of our surroundings. Like I live in Manhattan and I see the cell phone zombies every day just like this on the cell phones walking down the street sometimes walking they're just following people that are cheating the traffic light and almost getting hit, it's just crazy. But the reason situational awareness is so important is it doesn't matter if you're a business owner, a freelancer, a manager if you don't pay attention to the world and how it's changing short-term long-term, you're going to get kind of caught unexpected and you don't want to be in a situation life where you're caught in this situation that you hadn't planned for, right? So that's that's kind of my point and it's a crazy story but it was a true story. To bring it back, what happened was somebody had phoned in to each terminal and said there's a shooter. And so it created panic, the same time there was this sporting game going on so people were yelling so as it kind of like trickled through these terminals pure chaos and pandemonium broke loose. Then you add to the fact that some nervous cop fired their weapon, it's like a recipe for a complete panic. So thank God there was no shooter but the situation was extremely real for me. I saw a mother separated from their kids, it was just like it was a surreal feeling and something I'll never forget. But that was my experience. Now I'm gonna hopefully tell much happier story about paying attention to life in general. Can anybody think of an example of a business that got caught with a you know, with some type of change in environment or situation. The business got caught, big business and failed.
Oh that's on my list. Blockbuster is a perfect example and I don't know what blockbuster was doing in revenue but probably a lot. I would guess hundreds if not billions of dollars in revenue had tons of resources to figure out what was coming and just couldn't for whatever reason they didn't and then it's like lights out. Anybody else thinking of, yes?
Yeah that's a great one. Yep Toys R Us, which really has to do with today e-commerce and the effect on retail, right?
Barnes and Noble?
Yeah also excellent example Barnes and Noble, and they're still kind of clawing on. I'm in the publishing industry and I look at Barnes & Noble and I'm like wow! They, they're and I'll opine for a minute about the publishing industry and retail in general. In my opinion the only retail that's going to survive this e-commerce, is the experience. It has to be this experience based retail like a Saks Fifth Avenue. For us guys it's like a place like Bass Pro Shops, where you're going in and they've got the fish tanks and indoor archery. It's where you're going there to have this experience. No one's going to a shoe store really to get an experience. Now they just go to Amazon. So yeah, that's a great example and I think Barnes, Borders is gone, Barnes & Nobles is on its way out I'm looking at it I'm like "Guys why aren't you focusing more like in-store events with authors and like creating this experience for the readers that doesn't exist on Amazon." Like give him an excuse not to buy the book on Amazon and come to the store, but that's a great example. Yes?
How about malls that are successful in drawing people for the businesses there, you know?
Yeah there aren't too many of those. Really when you think about it. I see malls closing all the time but there are a few that get really they kind of cluster together. Those kind of businesses that attract people. I mean that's gonna be like the future, the malls that do survive are gonna be like that. So I had you guys hit most of it. I might say eBay is another one. You know at one time eBay could've acquired Amazon. I have a friend that worked there. They were like "Pfft, what's this guy selling books out of his office?" Anybody have any other one?
MySpace, yeah another good one. Anyone have any personal stories about how maybe you're in a certain career and had a goal and maybe something got jammed and you just cause you weren't paying attention or have anybody you've known? Yeah?
I used to work at a darkroom in New York and they you know at the time when they opened it was the only space that they could provide those services and then with the growing technology and digital coming in they tried to like find a way to encompass it but they didn't do it quick enough and enough in time. So they lost their customers from it. And then it's almost reversed in a way because now there are very few analog places.
Yeah I mean I think you're now getting into the specialty shops or even like vinyl records. My favorite bookstores are curating these old cool books but that's a great one. In that digital the same way it happened to music it was like that and it was just massive massive disruption. So that's whether you're in a career or running a business, you have to pay attention to what's going on. I mean in the extreme sense when I was a Navy SEAL in combat, yeah everything's heightened and it's like life or death. But in life it's something I talk about in the book as I thought about okay "this is how it works in the SEALs when you're overseas" and it is life or death but it also matters in real life because you have to pay attention to your environment and that's you know reading reading from multiple you know sources or listening whether it's you know YouTube. It's hard you know, we know the state of the media these days it's tough but to draw in from multiple multiple sources and kind of read the world like I talk about it, in Manhattan right now we're due for a recession. Like the people like to think "oh no or it's not gonna happen", well it is and we're probably not gonna know when it's gonna hit but the only thing that we can learn from history is that markets go up and they go down and we've been an up market for a long time now. So how are you thinking about preparing for that? Me I've like stuffed away liquidity in the form of cash on the side. I'm waiting for the recession ahead and then be able to like use that money to do things with and invest when that happens. And another thing, let me see... So you guys had great ones, you covered most of it on my list. The only one I had written down that we didn't talk about, Blackberry. You guys remember that thing? The CrackBerry? Everybody had a Blackberry, everybody! Like how do you screw that one up? It had the encryption and it all of a sudden, boom! I don't know what tipped it but it was probably that Steve Jobs and that iPhone had something to do with it. But yeah, that was another another good one. How I think about situational awareness for my own business that I run, I'm in media and e-commerce. I read you know two-three books a month, I watch movies and I know people some people don't like to read or they're just not wired to read but you can listen and watch YouTube and I read fiction and non-fiction cause I read a book recently, Ready Player One. Has anyone read that one? Nice, yeah I thought it was a great book and I started thinking to myself, Wow there's these forms and for those of you are watching the video it's a book about this virtual environment called Oasis that this kind of Steve Jobs, Wozniak characters create. It's just the first immersive virtual-reality world where you can go in there and do anything buy stuff in VR. You can buy real things in that world as well and have it show up in your doorstep like we do today with Amazon. What hit me reading that book was I said I would guess within the next 10 years that's coming and imagine like whoever builds that and you get the massive adoption, that's gonna affect all sorts of things like how we transact how we go to school like it's just, and this is you know the reality is most of the advancements in science get inspired by the arts, you know. He's looking at a Star Trek, had a little thing and now it's iPhone today. But you know just the importance of like paying attention to that and like how is going to affect me and my business and my career. Cause if you don't pay attention to that stuff and have it as part of your routine and part of your focus, you could really get caught in a bad spot. So pay attention to your environment micro and macro! A story, a good friend of mine Betsy Morgan, Betsy's an amazing woman she used to work at CBS. Now does anybody know, does that name sound familiar? Betsy was the first one, when Huffington Post started to grow they brought her on to be the CEO. And she she's in the book and she's on my board and she told me this great story that when she was talking to Les Moonves, who runs CBS about leaving CBS for this new opportunity, he literally told her with a straight face, he said "Who the hell is gonna get their news on the internet?" Like you're crazy, this is career suicide. That's what he told her and now look at CBS yeah that's like the Titanic, they're just like rearranging deck chairs. So sorry Les, but anyway that's an amazing story that I share in detail in the book but that's just an example right? Like here's a woman that was probably I think Betsy was in her late 40s that saw, she's like I need a pivot and get on this, this new digital age that's emerging with media and it's in that state of disruption right now. Cable news and everything. Can anybody think about in the technology or what's happening you know right now with something that's gonna affect commerce?
The way money is transferred I think they have what's it called?
No, not Venmo necessarily, the other kind of money,
[Audience Members] Crypto, Cryptocurrency?
Yeah everybody made fun of crypto until they didn't make fun of it anymore, right? And the government's are like wait a minute this is actually we can't stop, now we have to regulate. And that is yeah and I know this much about crypto. My friend Kumal knows a lot about crypto and he even tells me he's like "I feel like I know this much" and that's gonna be like disruption all over the place and it's really the underlying technology of blockchain that cryptocurrencies are written on, and the blockchain is amazing when you learn what that really does. It's a digital trust mechanism. It's two people come together and want to exchange something of value. As long as all the conditions are met, the exchange happens and you don't need an escrow agent. And in that situation what that does is it eliminates human error and fraud. And you know when you think about it that way there's a lot of stuff that's gonna be changed in the next probably a few years with crypto, yes?
Yes a Bitcoin you know was a thing for gamers and like they're doing really really well.
Yeah no I mean it's good you know I'm embarrassed to say, I'll be real with you, I bought I think about a couple thousand dollars worth of Bitcoin back in and it's gone, I lost that hard drive! Yeah, talk about a tough one but it is what it is. But yeah Bitcoin and when you talk about the gamers right? In that book we were talking about Ready Player One. Already today people are playing these multi, what do they call them I forget the acronym. What is that?
Yeah you got it. Whatever she said. (audience laughs) So they're playing these games online and they're buying outside of the game, they're leveling up, they're buying items on eBay and other places and these are just like virtual items. So just like Bitcoin everyone thought it was crazy until it wasn't and it happened like that and then everybody wanted to jump in and then it goes up. The you know that's how I think about this the way the internet the way we know is gonna be so radically different in 10 years and it's worth thinking about and paying attention to because everyone in here or watching this video, it's going to affect them. I doubt there's anyone in this room that can say "I don't go on the internet." Everybody's on the Internet. So, situational awareness. Which is, we already talked about examples, case studies, we already covered and in this if you guys aren't reading this book I would definitely give it a read.
Rameel wants to know "How many big projects and goals can we focus on simultaneously during a given day week or month?" So when we were talking about the lesson on focus, what's the best way to structure that, so that you're achieving those things that you're focused on.
Sure and that is a really really good question. I'll answer it in part and then we'll really dive into it right at the end. So you know how do you choose what to focus on? So for me I think about about it like this if you have a career, you have to figure out. Ok what if I'm in this career and I love what I do. I know I want to do this and this is where I want to be in the future and so that's your career path and you don't stray. And what happens is I see a lot of and you know cause I'm an entrepreneur. I'm in New York I see 300 entrepreneurs in my entrepreneurs group and they get they have that path and all of a sudden they have a little bit of success and they think they can go do 10 other things and then their core business suffers. And they got to go back and rebuild it up. But as a career the thing is to have that plan and think about the future, right? Think about 3-5 years, where you want to be with that particular career, and then what we'll talk about is I also have my personal plan like where I want to be personally, personal development wise, family, like what's important to me, my family, and then that's it. It's a business, personal, family. And then I have an outlook and once you and we'll fill that in, I'll show you how to fill that in at the end. Once I have that down then when all these other opportunities start coming in you realize that's the whole power of no. As you can realize right away what's fitting into your plan and what's not. And it may be a great opportunity. I get offers once a week, paid offers, "We want you to do this, we want you to speak to this group, we want you to to be on this board." And I just say no, because it's easy for me to say no. Because I just know, I know what my plan is and I'm not gonna veer from that. I get a lot of people that say, they argue back and say "Well you know look at Elon Musk." And that's a great example but when you have a billion dollars you can buy capacity. You know what I mean, like that's the reality. And when you're a billionaire, yeah go go chase two other opportunities because you have the capacity to do that. Most people don't have a billion dollars lying around to go do other things. As you grow like, yeah we've I've grown my business now past the eight-figure mark and can go stand up another brand, but the brand is closely aligned like in the same direction. I couldn't do that two years ago, I didn't have the money to do it. So as you kind of grow you know your wealth and you get more you have more capacity, you can do other things. But most people I see commonly, most entrepreneurs and E.O. that I've been around in New York City they're about two million in revenue and then they start going doing other things, and they can't figure out why they can't scale up. It's because they were chasing these other things and they're not focused. So, but yeah it's a great question and we'll really dive into it as we wrap the final lesson.