In this episode of the Sales Hacker Podcast, we have Russell Benaroya, Co-Founder and Partner at Stride and author of One Life to Lead, a book he wrote to help others with life design after he transformed his own. Join us for a candid conversation about taking charge of your life and becoming your best self.
If you missed episode #197, check it out here: How to Fix the Pain Points Around Demoing with Jonathan Friedman
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What You’ll Learn
- If you’re in a bad place in your life, you can take control
- Pay attention to facts, not stories
- Identify what your guiding principles are
- How to overcome your fear of change
Show Agenda and Timestamps
- About Russell Benaroya & Stride[2:07]
- How Russell changed his life & moved to Costa Rica [7:21]
- 5-part framework for life design [10:40]
- Figuring out your principles[22:26]
- Facing your fear of change decisions [18:01]
- Russell on the Great Resignation [22:04]
- Paying it forward [25:44]
- Sam’s Corner [28:21]
About Russell Benaroya & Stride [2:07]
Sam Jacobs: We’ve got a great show for you today with Russell Benaroya, the author of One Life to Lead. He did a workshop on how to structure and design your life so that you live with purpose and intention. He also runs Stride Services, which provides all of the bookkeeping services for my company, Pavilion.
Before we get there, we want to thank our three sponsors:
The first is Pavilion, the key to getting more out of your career. Our membership connects you with a network of thousands of peers and resources, dozens of leadership opportunities, classes, and training. Sales school, sales development school, marketing school, and more for your entire team. Learn more at jointpavilion.com.
We’re also sponsored by Flockjay. With sales becoming knowledge-driven and digital-first, sales leaders are looking for ways to invest in the most important part of their tech stack, their people. Find out how to elevate your sales team at flockjay.com/saleshacker.
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We’re excited to welcome Russell Benaroya, author, entrepreneur, and speaker, helping people achieve their highest by staying in their genius zones. He’s the co-founder of Stride Services, a strategic finance firm that helps business owners use their data for better decision-making. His book is called One Life to Lead, laying out steps to help you design the life you want to create.
We like to start with your baseball card.
Russell Benaroya: Stride helps people with a thirst for continuous improvement, helping clients manage their bookkeeping, accounting, and finance goals, helping entrepreneurs stay focused on growth, sales, and strategy. CEOs only have so much time in the day.
Sam Jacobs: Tell us about the book.
Russell Benaroya: As I started writing, my family and I were living in Costa Rica. It was an opportunity for me to observe behaviors that I had brought into the businesses that I had run and say, that was dysfunctional behavior, or, I see why that problem arose because of how I approached trying to solve it. It was an opportunity to reflect on how we’re so in the weeds it’s hard for us to step back and make observations.
Being in Costa Rica was a trajectory change for my family and I. When I started writing, I was like, I have a story here about this thing I’m building to try to change the world. How is this driving the life that I’m trying to design and architect? Sometimes I feel captive and not able to step back and look at the bigger picture.
How Russell changed his life & moved to Costa Rica [7:21]
Russell Benaroya: I tracked a textbook path through undergrad, investment banking, then private equity, business school, and startup, making my Jewish parents proud. But there was something missing in my life, I had to build something, be an entrepreneur, and create.
In 2004, I started a healthcare company. I started another healthcare technology business. It was a lot of ups and downs to build those businesses, raise capital, hire people, and ultimately exit those businesses. I was feeling exhausted, but not as exhausted as my wife and my family.
There was a moment when we were driving, listening to that Tony Robbins podcast. I’m fired up and my wife’s rolling her eyes. I looked at her and said, “Why haven’t we talked about where we want to be in five years?” And she said, “It’s always been about you, you’re an entrepreneur, you’re doing these things and we’re just along for the ride.” I finally was able to observe that my actions, behaviors, and decisions had an impact greater than myself.
We decided to move to Costa Rica. We’d been talking for years about creating a broad experience for our kids, but life gets in the way. We had friends that kept pushing us to go do it, take the leap. It’s opened up a universe of possibility, opportunity, and abundance. I am the architect of the life that I want to design. Why have I been feeling like I have to prove something to other people?
5-part framework for life design [10:40]
Russell Benaroya: Writing was this outpouring of emotion that I had bottled up and ignored for many years. Patterns began to emerge. The book is punctuated with vignettes from individuals that I call life designers, business leaders willing to take off their armor, to share their experience around managing life design with business leadership.
The first pattern was that I spent a lot of time telling stories that weren’t grounded in facts. That’s number one, grounding stories with facts. We spend so much time in our head talking about a future that has yet to unfold. We spend a lot of time talking about the past, what should have happened, what we didn’t do. But what are the facts? We spend a lot of time in stories, number one. Number two is establishing your principles. What is your code?
Number three was I want to spend time where I get energy because I only have 100 points of energy to use during a day. I’d rather spend those 100 points on growth and expansion than on trying to recover from energy drains. Number four is get and stay in your genius zone. We spend maybe 10% of our time in that zone of genius, where we lose track of time, we’re in that state of flow, where people acknowledge us for being amazing at that work.
If we’re out of our genius zone, that’s not the highest and best purpose. The last one and the most important is you only learn when you take action. Take that leap into the unknown with the courage to know that you will figure it out and you can do it.
If you’re not willing to execute, to act, to experiment, you’ll never move forward in architecting your life. The book is a resource to go back to when you’re feeling drawn back into that cycle of self-limiting beliefs.
Figuring out your principles [15:14]
Russell Benaroya: I started thinking about moments where I felt like I compromised my principles and was out of integrity with myself. Out of integrity with yourself is when what you say is different than what you’re thinking, what you’re feeling in your gut. It could be a partnership, a deal, a sale, a relationship. I thought about where I compromised my principles and said, how would I have wanted to be in those circumstances. I’m pretty clear on the decision that I’m going to make because of this code that I have created.
I speak up when my feelings are in conflict with my thoughts and actions. Principles can be a little aspirational, but I have a principle that says, I speak up and I work to embed that into the systems of our business so it’s a little bit more structured, but that’s a good place to start in the exercise.
Facing your fear of change decisions [18:01]
Sam Jacobs: Do you have helpful instruction, guidance, or advice for people that have that wall of fear in front of this decision that they know they want to take?
Russell Benaroya: Break it down in terms of experiments. That fear is because we place permanence to the decision. Few decisions that we make are unrecoverable or permanent decisions. 90% of decisions are recoverable. The decision to move to Costa Rica wasn’t because I had some amazing financial exit, I assure you that was not it. The experiment was rather than thinking of this trajectory change as an expense, I’m going to reframe it as an investment.
You have a lot of decisions that you don’t pursue because you’re scared. But it’s a junction for having the courage to move forward, a willingness to frame the decision as an experiment with curiosity and learning. Then you can choose if you want to keep taking that next step. Break it down.
Russell on the Great Resignation [22:04]
Sam Jacobs: Tell me what you think about what the great resignation means in terms of the individuals out there that are quitting or are moving on.
Russell Benaroya: The great resignation is driven by individuals that aren’t willing to take their 100% responsibility. Whenever you arrive at an outcome that is a suboptimal outcome, stop and say, I’m here because I was unconsciously committed to getting this outcome. I have a role to play to find myself in this circumstance, this feeling about my current situation that is untenable and I’m going to leave. I would challenge people to think before you villainize your employer, before you play the victim.
Acknowledge your role, your responsibility in having created the dynamic that forced you to have to leave this job situation. Did you express your challenges or struggles? Did you try to understand why things were happening in the organization? Before you leap into another circumstance where you may flip out again, use it as a gift for what it can teach you.
Sam Jacobs: I completely agree with you. Most of the things in your life are the result of actions you’ve taken. You can do things to change those circumstances.
Paying it forward [25:44]
Sam Jacobs: Talk about the people, ideas, books that helped you get where you are today.
Russell Benaroya: There’s a book that changed how I think about building a business and how I think about relationships. It’s called 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership by Jim Dethmer and Diana Chapman. There’s some aspects in One Life to Lead that reflect that. I’d highly recommend it.
I listened to this podcast by Eckhart Tolle called Essential Teachings. He wrote a book called A New Earth and The Power of Now. He really helps you appreciate the only thing that you know is the present moment and the present moment changes all the time. All you can do is live in the present.
The best way to get in touch is check out www.stride.services. You can also send me an email at Russell@benaroya.net. I’m on LinkedIn, Russell Benaroya, or Twitter @rbenaroya.
Sam’s Corner [28:21]
Sam Jacobs: Hi, everybody, Sam’s corner. Really enjoyed that conversation. Buy One Life to Lead. It’s about how he was in a bad place, he took control of his life, and he walked through the process and framework for how to do that.
One of the things that you’ll find is that we tell ourselves stories all the time. Our world is a construction that doesn’t actually exist. It’s created in our mind to help us navigate the world so we can procreate and recreate ourselves. But these stories are not useful, especially when they’re about relationships and how somebody did something. “They’re out to get you” is often a construction and fabrication in your own mind.
This isn’t about being perfect. This is about having tools for when you’re having a difficult time.
We want to thank our three sponsors.
We’ll talk to you next time.